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Unexpected Parenthood

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"Dokyeom-ah, your turn to shower," Jeonghan called as he exited the bathroom in his pj's, rubbing his head tiredly with a towel, his blonde hair cutely sticking out as he did so.
"I'll shower afterwards," Dokyeom said excitedly. "Hyung, manager-hyung let us take a look at some of the stuff our fans sent us. Everyone's in the living room now, I came to get you." He grabbed Jeonghan's arm and dragged him out their room. "Oooh, I wonder whether the fan who sent us that face-pack last time sent some more. I swear, it made me glow for a week!"
Jeonghan chuckled at Dokyeom's ranting as they walked, absently thinking that his dongsaeng was very childish. Well, all of them were. Even Seungcheol. It made him wonder how they would have been as actual kids. Quite a handful, it was easy to guess. Each of them must have been so hard for their moms to handle, it made him wonder how it would be if one mom had to handle all of them. A shiver went down his back at the thought. No, let's not think of scary things. Think packages, fans, Carats!
"YAAASSSS!!" Seungkan, loud as usual, could be heard even before they entered the room. He looked up at the newcomers from his spot on the floor amidst all the bags and peeled wrappers. "Dokyeom-hyung, the face pack! The face pack!" Dokyeom promptly left Jeonghan to celebrate with Seungkwan.
Jeonghan smiled and looked at the others perched on the sofa, on the floor, all calling out excitedly as they found cute, funny and thoughtful presents that the Carats had sent them. He wanted to go join them too, but the day had been tiring - he'd decided to use the day off to practice their latest dance choreo alone, like he always did since he was so slow to learn - and his sore limbs begged to hit the bed, so he leaned against the doorway and simply watched his members have fun.
"What's this?" Woozi picked a comparatively smaller bag from among the mess and pulled something out of it. A shiny rainbow-hued pebble lay in his hand. The rock caught the light in the room and sparkled brightly. There was no note attached.
"Let me see," Dino said, snatching it and observing it carefully. "What? What's the rock for? Is it a joke?"
"Give me that," Hoshi said, grandpa mode. "You just have to read in between the lines." He held it far away and squinted at it, appearing wise. "It is simply a container for Carat love! The rainbow colours of affection and well-wishes burst forth from the very inner-"
"Oh my gosh, can you really not hear it talking?" Seungkwan interrupted, in disbelief, making everyone else look at him in confusion as he promptly stole the rock from Hoshi, who was still frozen in pose. "Yes, mhmm, mhmm," he muttered, bringing it close to his ear. "Oh, the stupidity? Don't blame him, Hoshi-hyung was just born that way." Hoshi's pose cracked.
"Ooooh, shiinnyyyyy," Jun cooed and broke the silence that followed as everyone simply stared at Seungkwan, unamused. The8 touched the surface, feeling it quietly. He passed it to Mingyu.
"Can we cook it?" He asked. "Stone soup, hahahaha." Again, there was a silence as he laughed at his own joke. "Come on, you haven't heard that story?" he asked, thinking they were just ignorant. Wonwoo completely ignored his existence and grabbed the stone, then making as if to throw it. There was a collective, "No!" and Joshua promptly snatched the stone back to safety, passing it to Hansol.
"Its probably something important to a fan and they wanted us to have it?" he surmised. Dokyeom reached for it, and the rock passed hands. "It's pretty, that's for sure," he said childishly, his eyes sparkling as they reflected the pebble. Someone suddenly grabbed it, startling everyone.
"Alright, it's late, we need to turn in, no sleeping in tomorrow. Our days off are still workdays, everyone can work on training or making a new song for next season. This," he put the rock back in its bag and placed it back in the group of parcels, " can stay here. Goodnight, and Dokyeom, take a shower." He walked out the door, nodding at Jeonghan as he left. Jeonghan started ushering them out tiredly.
"Come on, guys, I'm tired, and I can only sleep once you're in your rooms," he yawned, and the others obediently filtered out, wishing him goodnight. He dragged his feet to his door and collapsed on his bed, vaguely registering it when Dokyeom closed the door behind him and not long after, the comforting sound of the shower in their bathroom lulled him to sleep.

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The sun filtered in through the curtains, and the light fell on Jeonghan's face, waking him up. His body felt extremely heavy, and he groaned. "Maybe I should've taken it slow with the practice," he muttered sleepily, rubbing the back of his hand against his eyes, a habit that everyone told him was his cutest. He stretched and yawned before he threw the blanket off, slipping his feet into his slippers and shuffling over to Dokyeom's bed. "Wake up, sleepyhead," he cooed, tousling the mop of hair that peeked out of the blanket. He sleepily noted that Dokyeom's hair was softer. Was there hair oil among the packages? Conditioner? He sobered up when he felt that Dokyeom's head was a little smaller. No, a lot smaller.
"Dokyeom-ah?" He called worriedly, pulling the blankets down. His eyes widened and he fell to the floor in disbelief. A little kid lay under the blankets! His scream got caught in his throat as he inspected the boy carefully. That high nose, very Dokyeom-like. And that horribly loud snore. That was Dokyeom's signature. No way.
He shook his head and soundlessly opened the door, making his way out of the room. He reached the first door to the right. Mingyu and The8 shared this one. He hesitated, then made up his mind and silently opened the door, shedding light into it. Like clockwork, a figure sitting on The8's bed sat up sleepily, crossing his legs so he wouldn't fall back to the bed. The lump on Mingyu's simply turned over, and mumbling was heard. Very characteristic of the two of them. Jeonghan would've sworn there was nothing wrong if the two people weren't munchkin-sized.
Door after door was opened, and Jeonghan met the same fate as he did at the first door. Stumbling, he moved to the kitchen to pour himself a glass of water. Surely, this was all an illusion. He'd overworked himself yesterday, and now he was seeing things. But he was met with the sight of half a dozen kids sitting on various places throughout the corridor, fighting with each other or sleeping as they sat, some simply poking their noses as they stared at nothing. They all turned to him as he entered, cutting a sorry figure as he staggered and supported himself on the wall.
"One, two, three," he counted resignedly as he sobered up. "...ten, eleven.....wait, there's me so that's twelve,.......thirteen?" His eyes widened. "Who's thirteen? Who's missing?"
The oldest looking kid out of the lot that he correctly guessed was Seungcheol piped up, "Dino's still sleeping!"
"Dino?" Jeonghan repeated in disbelief as he stared at the little one at his feet who was entertaining himself by rolling on the floor. It was Seungkwan. A toddler Seungkwan, to be precise. The maknae of the group had to be younger than any of these kids. Wait, no. No way.
Jeonghan bolted to the door at the end of their quarters. His hand shook as he reached for the doorknob, but right before he touched it, a resounding wail shook the house. Jeonghan could barely believe his eyes as he approached the bed, and a tiny baby lay in the middle, protected by the surrounding blankets and pillows. The baby cried loudly and flung his fists about. Jeonghan smiled in disbelief as he carefully supported the baby's neck and took him into his own arms.
"Dino-yah," he cooed. "Lee Chan." The baby opened his eyes in response, and his cries quieted down as he stared back at Jeonghan through teary eyes. Little hiccups sounded as the baby stopped crying, and he slowly smiled back at Jeonghan, the room brightening up in seconds. Jeonghan bounced the baby up and down, touching his chubby cheeks and letting the baby hold his finger, his happiness taking over the confusion and making him laugh. He looked down when he felt a tug at his clothes.
"Eomma," little Hoshi called, tugging again. "Hungry."
"Me?" Jeonghan asked, surprised. Did he look that feminine? He'd cut his hair already, it shouldn't be that bad.
"Eomma." Hoshi said, firm. And then he strutted out the room, as if there was no room for discussion.
Jeonghan absently followed the little boy out, still trying to process the information as he held Chan against his shoulder. The kitchen was in the process of being remodeled as he walked in, water overflowing from the sink, the fridge open and it's contents spilled everywhere.
"Hey, hey," he called, his tone strict. Illusion or not, he wasn't going to have the place trashed. "What's going on here?"
"We were just trying to make breakfast," Mingyu said in a wronged voice, downcast from his spot on the stool in front of the stove.
"I told him not to," Joshua said righteously, throwing him under the bus even when he hid the stolen cookies behind his back.
"Eommaaaaaa!" Seungkwan wailed loudly from his spot on the floor, snot and tears everywhere. "Euuuaaaaaaghhhhhhh!" Jeonghan wondered who he was calling for. "Eommaaaaaahaaahaaaaa!" The little boy ran to him and hugged his leg, rubbing his snot on it. "Waaaaaaah!"
Me again? Jeonghan sighed exasperatedly, but the growing volume of the wails made him accept his current predicament as he grabbed a tissue from a nearby box and crouched down next to the boy, wiping his face and making him blow his nose. "I'm right here, I'm here," he sighed, patting the boy and readjusting Chan to a better position. His shoulder was cramping. The baby was heavier than he seemed.
"Can we have pancakes for breakfast?" Wonwoo asked intelligently, and Woozi next to him, whom Jeonghan noted had changed the least among all of them, nodded in agreement.
"Alright, we'll have pancakes. Can you give me a minute?" Jeonghan hurried into his room and grabbed his phone, dialling out a number and holding it between his shoulder and ear while he lay Dino down on his own bed. There was ringing and a click and his call was answered.
"Yes, this is Pledis Seventeen's manager. How may I help you?"

Chapter Text

Okay. When Jeonghan rang the manager for help, this wasn't what he expected.

Least to say, he didn't expect to end up in a situation way worse than he'd already been.

Jeonghan tiredly lugged his wheeled backpack behind him with one arm, the other hugging Chan to his spot on Jeonghan's shoulder that seemed to permanent now, and the blonde-haired man looked around at the new house he was in skeptically. It was a neat little place, with appliances and furniture, and quite a lot of rooms. A little cramped for 13 grown men, but for just one man and 12 toddlers, it was more than enough. The house was tucked away in a quiet little neighborhood, far away from the hubbub of Seoul. Perfect for their purpose of hiding away the shocking news that one of Korea's most well-known idol groups had been reduced to.....well, this. Jeonghan sighed as he looked around at the once perfect house now being overwhelmed by the little boys that climbed into every nook and cranny in exploration.

"Everybody, I want you in the living room right now. I don't want to see anyone on top of the tables or counters. God, no Seungkwan!" Jeonghan cried hysterically as he pulled the toddler away from the electricity socket he'd been trying to poke his finger into. "Seungcheol! Joshua! You guys are in charge! I want everyone rounded up in five minutes!" He ordered, walking into one of the smaller rooms that'd been turned into a nursery for Chan and setting the sleeping baby down. He put his hands on his hips as he watched the steady rise and fall of the baby's chest, exhausted, and recalled the conversation he'd had with their manager when the poor man had rushed to their dorm at six in the morning.

"There definitely isn't any scientific explanation for what's happened here," he said, looking incredulously at the kid-version of Vernon trying to crawl up Jeonghan's leg as they talked. He still didn't look very much better than he did when he'd first entered the dorm, his eyes almost popping out their sockets.

"Of course there isn't!" Jeonghan said exasperatedly. "If nothing else, it's evident from the fact that I'm the one unchanged! Why isn't it S.Coups?! He can handle any weird situation. Or Mingyu! At least he's better at taking care of people!" At the manager's skeptical look, he mended his words. "I mean, at least he cooks! Why me?!?"

"What did you guys last do? Is there anything you can link in common?" The manager questioned.

Jeonghan wrinkled his brows in thought. "Nothing in particular.." he mumbled. "We were just going through fanmail, and there were just the usual letters and gifts. Apart from a suspicious stone that came without a note..." He gasped in realization. "Come to think of it, that rock! Everyone except me touched it!" He stood abruptly, almost flinging little Vernon off in the process, but caught the boy before any damage could be done and sighed in relief before coming back to the topic. "That's it! We have to find that rock. Maybe if we make everybody touch it again, the problem could be solved!"

"Yeah, about that," the manager shifted on one foot uncomfortably with a sheepish look, "I came last night after you guys went to bed and sent away the rest of the fanmail to a charity drive." At Jeonghan's questioning look, he elaborated. "I discussed it with Seungcheol before, he said you guys always end up with more than you can handle, so I'd arranged to send it to charity before. It's gone by now for sure." He massaged his temples in frustration. " I don't think we'll be able to track whatever stone down anytime soon, if ever."

"What?" Jeonghan said in disbelief. "Are you saying we can't turn them back?" The manager shrugged helplessly. "What?! What about Seventeen? What about the fans? And the fansign we have scheduled for next week? What are we gonna do?"

The manager sighed. "I have no idea how we're going to solve this, but for now we don't have a solution. The fansign can be rescheduled for later, and fortunately we don't have anything on for now. The important thing right now is to make sure noone comes to know of this."

"Why?" Jeonghan asked weakly, sitting back down with Vernon in his arms. "I'm sure the Carats would still love them, even more maybe. We can't just hide forever."

"You don't understand," the manager said. "They may have been idols just yesterday, but now theyre toddlers with an average age of 2. They're not ready for the public. You can't stop them from crying, peeing, fighting. And there's no reason they should be out there. They can't sing anyway. And this is just the best case scenario. Worse, they could be experimented on. This is unscientific shit." He sighed for the umpteenth time that day. " And this is going to be a little tough on you, because we can't trust anyone to come help. I'll have my hands full dealing with things while you guys are MIA, so you'll have to look after the kids on your own until we can find a way to solve this."

"No nanny?" Jeonghan mumbled. "No nanny?" He turned his head to look at the baby Dino sleeping peacefully in the room. "There's a barely one year old baby in the house who I have no idea how to feed or take care of and you're telling me there's no nanny?"

"Calm down, Jeonghan, I'll tell my wife to come over soon and she can tell you exactly what to do. I would have let her look after them, but she's pregnant with our second kid and she's due in two weeks. I'll leave our house number here so you can call her whenever you need help, and for now I'll arrange a house in some quiet place where no one will recognize you. You'll be fine."

"I hope so," Jeonghan whispered as he stared at the sleeping Dino, eventually smiling helplessly at the cute baby and kissing his soft cheek before leaving him to organize the kids in the living room into their rooms.

 

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"Eomma, Mingyu's bullying me!" Wonwoo wailed as he jumped up and down to get Jeonghan's attention. Jeonghan abandoned the potatoes he was peeling and picked the crying kid up, frowning at Mingyu.

"Is that so, now, Mingyu?" He asked. "Did you bully him?"

"I just wanted to play, but he was being mean and wouldn't let me play with his toys!" Mingyu pouted, his lips quivering as he held his tears back.

"Why wouldn't you let him play with them, Wonwoo?" Jeonghan asked the boy in his arms who was quieting down.

"They're mine!" He sniffled, as if that explained everything. Jeonghan sighed and wiped his snot away with a tissue.

"Yes, they're yours, but you can always share," he said gently. "You're older, so you should share more with your dongsaengs, shouldn't you?" He set the boy down and turned to Mingyu. "You would share your things with him too, wouldn't you, Mingyu?" Mingyu nodded, earning a smile and a hug from Jeonghan.

"But he yelled at me!" Wonwoo said tearfully, feeling wronged. Jeonghan widened his eyes a little.

"You can't yell at your elders like that, Mingyu," he said seriously, crouching down to face the two. "Both of you were wrong, so you have to apologize to each other. Now, let me hear you say sorry."

"Sorry," they mumbled, looking at their feet. "Aah," Jeonghan made a reproaching sound, and they turned to each other. "Sorry, Mingyu." "I'm sorry too, hyung."

"Good, that's it," Jeonghan smiled angelically, making the boys smile too. "Now, why don't you hug and we can all be happy."

"Eommaaaaa!" they groaned in unison, and Jeonghan chuckled. "Okay, okay, but can I have a hug?" At that, the little boys bounded into his arms and, giggling, clung to his lean neck. He patted their heads and pushed them out of the kitchen, making a 'run along!' motion and watched them hop off to play with a smile. He turned around to go back to making dinner for them.

It'd been almost a week since they'd started their new living arrangements, and though it was difficult, Jeonghan would be lying if he said he wasn't getting used to it. Cooking for 12 healthy growing kids almost five times a day made him quite an acceptable cook, and he'd learnt that even as a 5 year old, S.Coup's spartan leadership skills still remained, and he could count on the tiny man and Joshua to keep the kids in check if they went too out of hand. But things got out of hand often, and many a time he had had to run out of the shower in just a towel to fix a booboo or get a naughty Hoshi down from the top of a cupboard. It was tiring, but he was quite happy, minus the dark circles. He never had an idle moment, and his limbs ached from running around, but his heart felt warm each time they called him 'Eomma' (he'd tried making them call him 'Appa' and had given up almost immediately). They'd been a family as grown-ups, but even more so now.

"Dinner's ready!" he called, putting the mashed potato into a huge bowl to serve and taking the finished meatballs out of the oven. Chan, who'd been seated in his high chair, watching while Jeonghan made dinner and entertaining himself with his spoon, let out a cheerful gurgle and kicked his feet, stretching his onesie.

The kids filtered in through the door and seated themselves. Dokyeom reached for the food and Woozi slapped his hand away, giving him a stern look, loudly whispering to, "wait for Eomma", all of which Jeonghan noted with a smile from his peripheral vision. He sat down quickly, serving everyone generous portions of his newly perfected recipe, and anxiously waited for their response.

"Goood!" Seungkwan called loudly, with his mouth full of food, and Jeonghan sighed in relief.

"It's much better than the one that lady with the huge stommick made us yesterday," Joshua said, and Jeonghan covered up his smile quickly at the description of the manager’s pregnant wife. "Now, now, she's helping us even though she's so busy herself," he chided gently.

"I don't like her," Jun said decisively. "She looks at us weirdly when we're talking to you."

That's because you're calling me your Eomma for no reason, he thought, but was distracted when Chan dribbled his food. He sighed. Well, it's just a name, and I don't really mind anyway.

"Eomma, can we have pancakes tomorrow?" the usually quiet The8 asked. Jeonghan remembered with guilt that he'd never gotten around to making it for them.

"Of course we can," he affirmed, stroking the boy's brown head. "But we're out of flour, so Eomma’s going to have to run to the grocery store early in the morning. I'll do it before you wake up, so if you do wake up and find me gone, don't be surprised. I won't be long." He finished feeding Chan and moved on to taking care of Seungkwan and Vernon who'd started nodding off. "Now, everybody wash up and go to bed. Hoshi, no playing pranks again in the middle of the night. I'll check up on you before I go to bed myself."

Joshua pushed the stool towards the sink, and they each took turns standing on it and washing their hands, the routine that had established itself in a week. Jeonghan felt proud of himself as he watched them wash and sent Seungkwan and Vernon to wash too, helping them out. "Don't forget to brush, okay?" He reminded as everybody headed out in the general direction of the bathroom, picking Chan up and following them to make sure they did.

After the brushing and changing into pyjamas and tucking into beds was done, Jeonghan was extremely exhausted, but there was cleaning up to do. There wasn't even a dishwasher to help with the work, and by the time Jeonghan was done, he was half asleep, and it didn't take long before he was floating in dreamland.

 

 

Chapter Text

Oh Sehun wasn't a morning person. And he certainly wasn't very happy to have to visit the grocer's at around six in the morning during cold weather either.

But when Baekhyun said he wanted pancakes, he wanted pancakes. And pancakes he had to have.

Sehun sighed, watching his breath puff in clouds as he breathed in the cold air of the morning. Baekhyun as a kid wasn't all that different from when he was an adult. The 7 year old version was just as naughty and difficult to control as one would have guessed. Luckily, Xiumin was old enough and smart enough to hold the fort down for a while, which is why he braved getting out of the house for a few to get the flour for the pancakes while they were asleep. Xiumin could handle any small problems that might arise if he woke up.

Honestly, the past week still felt unreal to Sehun. One night they were going through fanmail, next morning, he was faced with....this. Sehun wasn't a very child-friendly person, but luckily the youngest Kai looked around 5, and the kids could look after themselves with a little help. The transition from busily preparing for their next comeback song to...this babysitting 8 kids in a tranquil neighborhood in the middle of nowhere...it almost gave him whiplash. All because of some prank that someone had decided to play with a multi-colored...stone.

And as if that wasn't enough, he was entrusted with mundane tasks like this - getting groceries, making food (his cooking was barely tolerable, but the poor children made do), and supervising play time - while he waited for them to turn back, which was still a complete uncertainty. The manager had dumped him in the huge-ass mansion that they were in now, and left to do his thing. At least he wasn't heartless enough to leave the kids with just Sehun - his parenting skills were still lacking - and the kids had arrangements to leave for 'school' to the nearby house where an old lady and her two daughters lived. The lady used to be a teacher in her time, and was only too glad to help them out for the generous sum offered to her. But on weekends like this, even the old needed a break, and Sehun was left...trying to buy flour for pancakes.

He locked his car with a click of the car key and headed towards the grocery store with his hands in his coat pockets, a sunglass on for measure. It didn't look like there would be anyone who would recognize him here, but safety never hurt. He walked in through the sliding doors and past the clerk still nodding off sleepily, to the aisle where he guessed the flour should be. As he passed the racks, he saw the top of a blonde head, and as the person turned around to search the racks, he caught a glimpse of a beautiful face, and his feet stopped in their tracks as he stared.

Of course he would never forget that face. After that embarrassing incident at the ISAC two years ago when he mistook a stranger for his NCT friend Johnny, because they had the same hairdo. The 'Johnny' had turned, and in a split second, he'd been both surprised, embarrassed, and...stunned speechless. It was all he could do to stammer an apology and rush off in a hurry then, but those perfect brows, that button nose and those thin, bow-shaped lips felt engraved in his memory. And those eyes. Those eyes were engraved in his heart.

He'd gone home, and his friends had teased him endlessly about it. Maybe other idols would have taken the accident as an opportunity to become friends with the other, but that wasn't very likely of Sehun. Still, his fingers had itched to try. He was the sunbae, he had to take the first step. Yet, he couldn't. And the incident had blown over as nothing but an embarrassing moment. But Sehun would never forget that face again.

Yoon Jeonghan, of Pledis' Seventeen. Vocal group. He never really tried to stand out in shows, preferring to be the support to his members. A pretty face, and a pleasant voice. Why was he here? In this grocery store, in this neighborhood, at this time, of all places?

Sehun vaguely registered that this could be bad. If Jeonghan recognized him, he might try to come talk to him. And talking would lead to many unanswerable questions. If he knew what was good for him, Sehun should hightail it out of there pronto. But somehow, Sehun found his feet moving towards the other man, stopping only when they were a feet away.

Jeonghan was perusing the array of differently branded flour with wrinkled brows, his lip between his teeth, looking adorably perplexed over which to buy. He finally grabbed a random packet and threw it into his cart that had a variety of...assorted products. But before Sehun could take a closer look at the purchases, the shorter man had looked up and spotted him.

"Oh, sorry, did you need flour too?" he sputtered apologetically and moved his cart out of the way as Sehun nodded almost dumbly. Of course, Jeonghan hadn't recognized the other man, since he was wearing sunglasses. Jeonghan made to steer his cart out of the way as he looked for things elsewhere, but a hand on the cart stopped him, and he looked at the mystery man questioningly.

Sehun knew he was digging his own grave every minute he stayed, but it was as if his body had a mind of it's own, reaching out with one hand to grab Jeonghan's cart so he wouldn't leave, and prying off his sunglasses with the other. Jeonghan gasped, as expected.

"Sehun sunbae!" he gasped, and his hand flew to cover his mouth as he checked his surroundings for eavesdroppers before he lowered it. His wide almond eyes looked at Sehun in shock. "Why are you here?"

"Just...shopping," Sehun said vaguely. "You?"

"Me too," Jeonghan stammered, self-consciously fixing his hair.

"Shopping for what? To start a nursery?" Sehun said, finally letting his eyes fall from Jeonghan's face to observe the contents of the cart. This one looked like a stuffed toy, that one looked like a set of toothbrushes for 3 year olds, and that was one of those...thingammajigs...whaddyou call 'em...mouthguards? No, suckers? Wait, pacifiers, that was the word!

"Nursery? What?" Jeonghan repeated confusedly and stared at him. Sehun realized he might have sounded rude, but Jeonghan didn't give him a second to speak. "Ohh, these? Umm, we're doing a segment with kids next week, and we're preparing for it. I'm....ummm.....in charge of buying the stuff, hahaha." He showed his set of pearl-like teeth as he laughed uncomfortably, and they almost distracted Sehun from the fact that he was clenching his hands so tightly on the cart handle that his knuckles shone white. Almost. Sehun raised an eyebrow.

"You guys sure are passionate," he remarked, smiling, but in his head he was conjecturing images of Jeonghan with babies. The aesthetic was perfect.

"Yes, and we're....umm....they're waiting because....ummm....we have to practice the dance we're doing for the kids! Yeah," he nodded enthusiastically, "yeah, so I'd better be going. It was an honor meeting you, sunbae. I'll be off then." He hurriedly made to push the cart away from Sehun, but the sudden ringing of his phone from his coat pocket startled him, and in his frenzy to answer it, he slipped on the smooth tiles, but before he could hit the floor, he fell into a pair of strong arms, and the handsome face with the sharply angled jaw above him almost distracted him from the fact that his phone had been stolen straight out of his hands. Almost.

Sehun swiped at the screen without thinking twice. "Hello?" he said quickly so that the other end wouldn't suspect the change in voice. Jeonghan struggled in his arms to retrieve his phone, and Sehun unthinkingly wound his arm around Jeonghan tighter, bringing the palm upto his face to seal his mouth and prevent him from making any noise. Jeonghan froze in surprise at the action, just staring at Sehun from the awkward angle in his arms.

"Eomma, this is Woozi," a childlike voice said from the other end of the line. If Sehun wasn't mistaken, Woozi should be that extra-cute member of the group who made their songs. The one Chanyeol was good friends with. He remembered that the other had a childlike appearance, but his voice definitely shouldn't be this young. And......Eomma?

"Mhmm," Sehun hummed to keep the kid going, which was cue for Jeonghan to start struggling again. Sehun's breath stilled when he felt the velvety lips in his palm move against them in an attempt to speak, and he almost lost his grip on the phone.

"Dino started crying a while ago, and he won't stop." Dino? Their maknae? In the background, Sehun heard a sound and registered with shock that it was the cry of a baby. Their maknae was a baby?! The cries actually quieted down as Woozi spoke, and he said, "Oh wait, never mind, Joshua hyung managed to get him to sleep again. Anyway, come home soon! Bye!" The line went dead with a beep, and Sehun calmly removed the phone from his ear to look down at the man in his arms.

Apparently, Jeonghan had had enough, because he opened his mouth to lick the palm that held it captive. Sehun removed his hand like he'd been burned, his palm tingling, and Jeonghan suddenly blushed, wondering how he'd dared to do that. "Umm...sorry," he mumbled, blushing to his ears, no wonder thinking Sehun was disgusted. Sehun wordlessly handed him his phone back, and Jeonghan all but snatched it back from him.

"Wait," Jeonghan said, recovering and turning back to Sehun, livid. "Who let you answer my calls? This is an invasion of privac......." Sehun tuned the rest out and was content simply staring at Jeonghan's face, noting that he was beautiful even when he was angry. Jeonghan realized that the other wasn't even listening and turned around in a huff to leave, but then Sehun grabbed his wrist and pulled him back. Just when he was wracking his brains trying to think up a story to explain the call he didn't even know was about, Sehun brought his mouth close to his ear.

"Have your members all turned into kids too?" He whispered, and Jeonghan whipped his head up to look at Sehun, his eyes wide. Sehun looked completely serious.

"What are you-"

"Does it have anything to do with a weird stone in your fanmail? Are you the only one unchanged?" Sehun continued, and Jeonghan confusedly tried to process the information, finally breaking out of his stupor to grab the front of Sehun's coat and drag him to the little bench near the vending machine. They sat down, close so that the very few customers wouldn't hear their conversation, and looked at each other.

"Are you telling me," Jeonghan asked in a hushed voice, "that your members are kids too?"

Chapter Text

Jeonghan couldn't trust his own ears. Even his eyes as he read Sehun's lips as they moved to explain the situation to him. Those were a fine pair of lips, too. Sehun sunbae was stunning as usual, even without makeup or costume, he seemed so radiant with his celebrity aura that Jeonghan was still afraid they might be discovered, and they eventually took their conversation to the tables outside, just to be safe.

"One americano, please," Jeonghan said to the old lady who came to take their orders, and glanced at Sehun expectantly.

"Umm, do you have hot chocolate?" At the woman's affirmative, he nodded quickly. "One of that, then." He kept his eyes trained on her as she left, not wanting to look back to Jeonghan, just knowing he was mocking him in his head for having such childish taste. Not hearing the chuckle he was expecting, he glanced over at Jeonghan, only to find him pouting, his ears red. "What?" Sehun asked.

"I....wanted hot chocolate too," Jeonghan mumbled, blushing and looking at the table. Sehun couldn't help the bubble of laughter that escaped his lips, and saw Jeonghan angrily frown at the table, and couldn't stand his cuteness. In the end, he stood up and bolted after the lady, ignoring Jeonghan's embarrassed protests, and got the order changed, coming back to his table with a smile. Jeonghan smiled back shyly, before remembering their earlier conversation.

"I can't believe that another group has had the same problem, though," Jeonghan said. "Do you think there are others too?"

"I have no idea," Sehun said, rubbing his hands to get some warmth in the cold air. His nose was turning red, and the splashes of red on his cheekbones made for a very good view in Jeonghan's opinion. "Are there any idol friends you can contact?"

"I'm close with Minhyuk from Monsta X," Jeonghan said, fumbling for his phone and searching through his contacts, finally ringing Minhyuk up. Minhyuk was an early bird, and Jeonghan assumed he would be up by now. Minhyuk didn't pick up though. In the end, Jeonghan left a voice message asking him to call back. Then he and Sehun both sighed at the failed attempt.

"All things aside, how is it taking care of your ki-members?" Jeonghan asked, widening his eyes expectantly. "Xiumin sunbae as a kid must be the cutest ever!"

"Oh yeah? He's cute and all, and he's smart as the oldest, but sometimes a little too smart, I guess. He's stubborn and won't agree with a lot of things. I guess that's what kids are like when they think they're grown up but they're not," Sehun laughed, rolling his eyes. "Sometimes I get mad, then I remember how bad I was as a rebellious teenager, and I settle things with a prayer to my mother in my heart for not kicking me out of the house."

Jeonghan chuckled. "It can't be that bad. But at least they're old enough to take care of themselves."

Sehun gasped, finally recalling the startling fact he'd stumbled upon during his short call with Woozi. "Speaking of which, your maknae is a baby?" He shook his head, wanting Jeonghan to too, almost hoping he had just heard things, but he saw Jeonghan nod instead, smiling.

"Yes," he said. "Dino's a baby, and Seungkwan and Vernon need special handling too, but even though the rest are quite young themselves, they're surprisingly mature, so I guess things are fine as long as I keep a strict watch." He glanced worriedly at the time on his phone screen. "I'm worried just leaving them to get groceries. It's such a problem that we can't get a maid or a babysitter to help out. I'm extremely troubled over how they're gonna turn out with just me as a parent for now."

"I'm sure your doing well," Sehun smiled, thinking back to Woozi's call again. He couldn't keep the teasing out of his voice as he continued, "...Eomma."

"Ughh," Jeonghan buried his face in his hands, embarrassed to the point of no return. "I know, I know, it's weird, but every time I mention a change in address, they just start....bawling. It's like their very being repels the idea of changing the way they call me. They're so set on it."

"I don't see why that's weird. It's just a name," Sehun shrugged, but was internally dead just imagining a bunch of toddlers running around calling Jeonghan Eomma. Again, the aesthetic. Perfect.

"I'm glad you think so," Jeonghan deadpanned, their conversation coming to a still as the old waitress brought them their drinks.

"I can't imagine having to look after a baby and kids that young though," Sehun said, suddenly serious. "You must be tired out of your mind." He focused on the dark circles around Jeonghan's eyes, and the burns and band-aids on his fingers that must have come from cooking. "When was the last time you ate?"

Jeonghan opened his mouth to speak, then squinted at the sky as he tried to remember. Sehun first laughed, then sighed, deciding the situation was more worrying than funny. He raised his hand for the waitress immediately, and again ignoring Jeonghan's protest, ordered a little breakfast from what they were offered. It was still too early for anything more than sandwiches, but when Jeonghan finally began eating was when he realized how hungry he'd actually been. Sehun contently watched him eat, pushing the tray towards him.

"So where are you guys staying?" Sehun asked once Jeonghan was done, passing him a napkin and Jeonghan took it naturally, wiping the crumbs off his lips before they both gave a start, finding it weird that they could be so comfortable around a person they'd just met. Both were not people to make friends easily.

"Uhh...us? Oh, we have a little house a little towards the outskirts," Jeonghan said. "How about you?"

"There," Sehun pointed, and Jeonghan alarmedly squinted towards where he was pointing. "Do you see that white patch on the hill there? That's us."

"Oh, okay," Jeonghan said absently, before he came back to his senses, "no wait, seriously? That mansion?! No wonder we couldn't get it when we came here, so you guys had already moved in."

"Really, now?" Sehun rested his chin on his crossed fingers. "Well, now that you know where we are, you can visit whenever. It's not like we have anything better to do. I'm free all the time, and the kids are. Wait," he remembered, "they just started going to school, so they'll only be home after 3 on weekdays."

"School?!" Jeonghan almost sprayed his hot chocolate all over Sehun in his haste. "Where did you find a school?!? More importantly, how did the manager let them go to school?!"

Sehun hastened to explain the arrangements, and watched as Jeonghan listened wistfully, sighing. His heart went out to the poor idol.

"Why don't you send your members to the old lady too? I'm sure she won't mind, she has to take the trouble of teaching the EXO members anyway, a few more wouldn't hurt," he suggested.

Jeonghan shook his head sadly. "It's not practical. Even if the lady would allow it, which I'm sure she won't, there's no way the kids can travel the distance everyday. It already took me long enough to come to the grocery store, and that's just halfway."

"So you don't even usually come to the grocery store?" Sehun asked in disbelief, and Jeonghan shook his head again.

"Our manager arranged for supplies to be delivered to the house. Mostly because I wouldn't have time to go buy groceries and things when I have my hands full trying to raise them. Toddlers need a lot of attention." Sehun couldn't even imagine what the past week had been like to Jeonghan, and wouldn't want to be the one in that situation at all, but the younger man didn't seem to notice what a tremendous feat he had been managing on his own, continuing. "This is really the first time I've been out, and only because we're out of flour and the kids really wanted pancakes. Our place is quite far from here."

Suddenly, Sehun had a thought, and his heart constricted. "Wait, so that means...you won't come here again?"

"I don't think I'll be able to, as much as I want to," Jeonghan said sadly, and realized it meant he wouldn't be able to meet with Sehun sunbae after this. His fists clenched under the table as his thoughts darted in different directions, finally coming up with an idea.

"Would you guys be free this weekend?" He blurted, and Sehun, whose mind had been elsewhere, was startled into reality, and he affirmed with a nod. "Would you..." Jeonghan hesitated, not sure whether he was overstepping boundaries. Of course, they had the same bizarre circumstances, but that didn't mean Sehun wanted to continue contacting him at all. "Would you like to spend the weekend together?" He saw Sehun staring blankly at him, and he tensed up, stammering an explanation. "I mean, with the kids! They could meet each other, and we could take them out for a change, and...and it'll be easier to take care of them with two chaperones," he ranted, feeling increasingly embarrassed as every second passed.

"That's an amazing idea," he heard Sehun say just as he was about to chicken out. "That's perfect! It solves everything!" And we'll get to see each other again, he thought in his head, and smiled excitedly at Jeonghan. Jeonghan looked startled and looked away. Jeonghan suddenly felt that his face felt hot.

The moment was interrupted with the ring of a phone. They both started out of their thoughts and reached for their phones at the same time, then looked at each other before realizing what had happened and laughed. The kids were calling them both. They quickly answered their phones and hung up, standing up.

"I guess it's time to leave then," Jeonghan said, trying his best to keep his voice even and not betray his unwillingness to part.

Sehun kept his eyes trained on Jeonghan for a while, eventually speaking. "We're meeting later in the day anyway," he said, and somehow, they felt the air lighten up, and the dim sky got a little brighter as the sun peeked through the trees in the distance, coming up. "Yeah," Jeonghan said, looking down and burying his face till his nose in his puffer coat collar to hide his shy smile, and if he'd looked up, he'd have seen Sehun smiling at him too.

They exchanged numbers and walked together towards the parking lot, finally parting ways to get to their cars, but Sehun simply waited outside his car door and watched until Jeonghan's was out of sight before he got inside, turning up the heater and humming a happy tune to himself all the way back up the hill and to his place. It was a good morning. After all, the weekend had just begun.

Chapter Text

Oh Sehun wasn't a morning person, but today he definitely felt like one.

He'd already experienced one weekend with the kids, and wasn't looking forward at all to having another one, but now, it didn't seem all that bad at all. So when they saw their perpetually emotionless and sometimes grumpy dad making pancakes for breakfast with a weird smile on his face as he recalled the morning's happenings, the kids were quite surprised.

"Appa, why did you take so long?" A sleepy Xiumin asked, rubbing his eyes tiredly. He was the one who'd called Sehun back home when Baekhyun had finally woken up and demanded his pancakes. Obviously, Baekhyun hadn't been easy for the 12-year old to handle.

"Ah, sorry about that," Sehun apologized, flipping the pancakes on the stove and putting the done little stack on Xiumin's plate. Obviously, Baekhyun was already halfway through his, wolfing down Sehun's passable attempt. "I met a friend at the grocer's, and we got caught up talking about things."

"What kinda things?" Suho asked curiously, tilting his head at Sehun as Sehun took a seat and placed the last batch on the table. "Which friend?"

Sehun internally rolled his eyes. Suho would never change, miniature or not. "His name is Jeonghan." Sehun smiled, and tousled the little boy's hair. "And he has 12 little kids to take care of."

Xiumin choked on his pancakes comically, and Sehun rolled his eyes. "12?!? We can't even handle the 8 we have!" He exclaimed, looking around at the ensemble at the table, throwing food at each other or sleeping with their faces on the plates. All except Baekhyun, who was going for seconds.

"We? You're one of the eight, dummy," Sehun laughed, giving in to his urge to pinch Xiumin's round little cheeks. This boy was too cute to be true.

"Yeah, dummy," D.O. sneered, being mean, and obediently going back to his pancakes when Sehun gave him a reproaching look. That boy was going through that phase for little boys where they think being mean was being cool. Sometimes it was cute, but more often than not it just made him a handful to deal with. Sehun didn't know where he picked it up from, but thankfully, none of the others were taking after him.

"But to answer your question," Sehun continued for the curious Suho, "...we were talking about how it might be nice to take all the kids out today." He waited for their reactions.

"'Iz ki's ow youw ki's?" Baekhyun asked through a mouthful of food. "His kids or your kids?" Lay promptly translated for Sehun.

"Everyone." he said, and that finally caught everyone's interest, all of them looking towards him, even Kai, who was nodding off, woke up groggily and squinted at him, though he didn't actually understand what was going on. Sehun laughed and shook his head, taking a tissue and moving towards him to clean his chin and help him with his food. "Since there's so many of them and you guys too, we thought it'd be nicer if all of you could meet each other and play together, and it'd be easier with the two of us. I also really want you to meet him."

"We're going out?!" Chen asked excitedly, bouncing up and down, and screamed happily when Sehun smiled affirmatively, poking Kyungsoo in his happiness, who merely grunted, but anyone could see he was happy too.

"Where?" Suho asked, ever the rational one.

"How does the park sound?" Sehun asked, spooning pancakes and honey into Kai's mouth with one hand and holding Kai's chin steady with the other.

"Cool!" Lay said, kicking his feet happily. Sehun almost felt sorry for the kids, and resolved to take them out more often. To make them happy of course, and one other reason.

"How old are his kids, though?" Xiumin asked.

"They're a little younger than you guys, actually," Sehun said tentatively. "There's 2 Kai's age, who're the oldest, and the rest get younger. There's even a baby."

"Ooooh, I like babies," Chen said happily, poking at his pancakes. Xiumin simply shrugged, and Suho followed suit. The rest could care less. Sehun sighed in relief. He'd thought the ages would be a problem.

"Which means you guys will have to be more responsible as the older ones," Sehun cautioned. "You should take care of them and yourselves, and not give me and Jeonghan any unnecessary trouble. I want you on your best behaviour." He said this gravely, trying to make the boys feel important, and it worked. They finished their breakfast quickly, and quite neatly cleaned up, moving excitedly to their rooms to decide what to take with them. Sehun looked at their disappearing backs with a smile, the ring of his phone suddenly distracting him. His heart gave an excited lurch when he saw the caller ID read 'Jeonghan'.

"Hey," he said, trying to calm down, but was met with the loud wail of a baby. "Hello?"

"Oh, hey," Jeonghan laughed from the other end, but he was obviously not having a good time. Sehun heard a shout of 'Oemma!' faintly on the other end, and Jeonghan yelling back that he was coming before coming back to the line. "It's a little harder than I thought to get them out of the house, hahaha."

Sehun felt his mood plummet. "So you won't be able to come?"

"No, no, that's not why I called," Jeonghan said, almost immediately, and then cleared his throat as he realized it himself. "No, I wanted to ask when we should meet. I'll need some time to get them all ready, maybe two hours, and then another for travelling, so," they were interrupted by the Dino's loud wails again, and Sehun heard a few sounds that he imagined was Jeonghan picking the little guy up, and almost immediately the wailing stopped, turning into cute little sniffles. "There, there. Ah, yes, sunbae, where was I? Uhhhh, yeah, so let's just say..."

"How does 11 sound?" Sehun said, glancing at the clock.

"That's plenty," Jeonghan sighed in relief. "That sounds perfect." There was a silence as they both finished their conversation, but neither wanted to hang up. "Soo...done with your pancakes?"

"Yeah," Sehun chuckled, picking at the raised threads on his jumper. "Can't say they were first rate, but Baekhyun was happy, so I guess I passed."

"I can't imagine how that would look," he heard Jeonghan laugh. "You cooking, I mean." Jeonghan imagined it, wistfully wishing he could've seen it, and then coming back to his senses. Correction, it's pretty easy to imagine, he would definitely look super sexy. Jeonghan coughed his thoughts away. "I just finished breakfast here too."

Sehun heard the shout for 'Oemma' again, and the swinging of doors as Jeonghan walked through the house. "What is it?"

"Can I take my plane when we go to meet the hyungs?" Sehun heard a cute little voice ask.

"I think you're plane is too big to take with you, Minghao," Jeonghan said gently. "Why don't you take Mr. Squirrel? He's smaller, and won't break too easy. And I'm sure he wants to go play at the park too." Jeonghan's voice dropped to a whisper. "Look, he's sitting all sad there in the corner because he thinks you don't want him anymore."

"I think I should take Mr. Squirrel," Minghao said loudly to make Mr. Squirrel feel better. Sehun couldn't help the large grin on his face as he heard Jeonghan handle situations.

"Oemma, Seungkwan's climbed to the top of the cupboard again, and now he's crying," Sehun heard another little boy loudly report, and heard poor Jeonghan sigh. He put Dino on the floor and the phone next to him on speaker as he reached up for Seungkwan. Dino babbled into the phone and Sehun listened, saying, "Mhmm?" and "Is that so?" once in a while. Jeonghan snorted, and Sehun felt proud of himself. There was a heavy exhale as Jeonghan set Seungkwan back on safer grounds, and he picked up the phone, one hand on his hip, letting Seungkwan play with Dino while he took a break.

"I hope you have an idea now of what you're going to meet at the park," Jeonghan half-joked. "And they're not even fully awake yet."

"Wait till you meet Baekhyun and Chanyeol," Sehun deadpanned. "At least your kids are cute."

"Please," Jeonghan laughed at Sehun's poor joke, and then smiled. "Alright then, there's a lot to take care of, isn't there? Let's start right away so we won't be late."

"Right," Sehun smiled too, still reluctant to hang up, but they both knew it had to happen eventually. And being late for their playdate was out of the question, of course. Seeing in person was way better than talking on the phone. "See you in a few, then."

"Bye, sunbae," Jeonghan said, and the line went dead. Sehun sighed, looking at little Kai who was clinging to his leg, looking up at him questioningly, and picked him up to eye level.

"Are you as happy as I am?" He asked, and Kai solemnly shook his head, quite resolutely. His appa was smiling way too wide to be matched.

 

Chapter Text

Oh Sehun felt happier than he'd been in a long while now, as he drove his car full of kids to the park. He was in such high spirits, he could almost ignore Chanyeol being his usual annoying self. Almost.

"BOOm-tshh-bhoom-phoom-ppa-phhh-"

"Appa! Chanyeol's spraying all over me!" D.O yelled angrily.

"It's called," Chanyeol paused for a dramatic effect, "beatboxing." He nodded his head like he'd just given out confidential info, and Chen looked enlightened.

"Oh, I thought it was supposed to be hard to do," he said innocently. "That looks easy."

"It looks easy because he's just spraying and not beatboxing," Suho explained intelligently.

"No way! I'm totally doing awesome," Chanyeol retorted, and before he could make to do it again, D.O was yelling already. Sehun's face twitched, and he sighed.

"Chanyeol! Not in the car, please," Sehun called, not really in the mood to scold.

"Appa?" Lay poked his head through the space between the front seats, stretching his seatbelt so he could look at Sehun. Sehun smiled, taking his eyes off the road for a second to look at the cute little boy.

"What is it?"

"What is your friend like?" He stared at Sehun with his round eyes. A million feelings came to Sehun's mind at that question, but somehow, he couldn't describe any of them, couldn't put them into words. He took his time, switching the indicator on as he took a left.

"He's...very kind," Sehun started, after some thought, "very...good-looking, I guess, and very good with his children." Sehun smiled at the boy again. "Anyway, I'm sure you'll like him."

"Do any of his kids know Chinese too?" Chen asked, trying to wedge in between the seats with Lay, then giving up.

"I'm not sure, but there should be two, if I'm correct," Sehun said. The two kids got excited immediately, and tried to relay the information to Xiumin in the back of the SUV, but he wasn't listening, too engrossed in his game of rock-paper-scissors with Suho to notice. Sehun wondered why Baekhyun was being quiet, and spotted the boy in the rearview mirror fast asleep with the side of his face glued to a window, his mouth wide open. Sehun tried to steady his driving so he wouldn't jostle the little one too much. Kai was entertaining himself in his carseat, fiddling with his fingers.

Sehun really couldn't help the smile on his face as the car rounded the last corner and parked in front of the park. The kids impatiently bounded out, and he let them sprint off towards the park, desperately wanting to hurry behind them himself but restraining the urge. He finally gave in, falling into a light jog as he called out to the kids to 'be careful!' as an excuse. The kids were already at the playground area.

Sehun saw that there were other kids at the playground, all boys and around a dozen of them, and immediately grew excited, his gaze impatiently searching around the greenery, looking for a certain someone. His wandering gaze finally reached the slender figure, dressed in a warm oversized sweater and jeans, sitting on a picnic mat spread under a tree with his long legs folded to the side, his blonde hair falling like a curtain over his face as he smiled down at a bundle in his arms. It was a baby. Sehun watched him from afar, half wanting to go upto him, half not wanting to disturb the beautiful view. Jeonghan looked like he'd come out of a painting, the breeze gently blowing his bangs away and revealing his beautiful features from time to time. In the end, he simply stood there until Jeonghan happened to look up and spot him, the smile on his face growing brighter, and couldn't stand still any longer.

Jeonghan saw him, the sun outlining his tall figure. He had on a simple black hoodie and jeans, but he still looked like a model. Jeonghan couldn't help but sigh as he watched Sehun walk towards him, and couldn't decide whether it was because of envy or admiration. A little twitch of the bundle in his arms reminded him that he was holding a baby, and he hurriedly looked down, breathing a sigh of relief when he saw Dino was still fast asleep, fists curled tightly. He felt a rustle of clothes as someone sat next to him and leaned over to look at the baby, close enough to Jeonghan that he could feel the other's hair tickling his cheek. Somehow, his face felt hot.

"Dino?" Sehun whispered, and looked at Jeonghan, suddenly noticing how close he was and feeling shy but not wanting to back up at all. Jeonghan didn't comment on it either, so they both stayed that way. Jeonghan nodded to answer his question, taking a minute to settle the sleeping baby in his pram that he'd brought, and after making sure he was comfortable, turned back to Sehun.

"Sorry I was late," Sehun apologized quietly. "I was supposed to be here before you, but Baekhyun just takes such a long time to get out of the house."

"It's fine, we only just had time to settle before you guys came," Jeonghan said immediately. "I set out early in case there was traffic, but there wasn't much." He sighed. "But it was tough getting here, I'll admit. Prepping and driving 12 kids is not an everyday thing." Before Sehun could ask, he added, "I used our minibus."

"Oh," he said, nodding, and they both fell into a comfortable silence, feeling the breeze on their faces and watching the kids frolick on the playground. Of course, they weren't left in peace for too long. A shout from Suho for "Appa!" had the two hurrying towards the little crowd of kids that had formed while they had been lost in thought.

"What happened?" Sehun asked, and Jeonghan quickly looked at everyone on the playground before his eyes fell on the little kid about 5 years old hunched over on himself in the middle of the circle they had formed. Without thinking, he ran to the boy's side and knelt down to his height. The boy was shaking, his sobs breaking out as he tried not to cry. Jeonghan immediately started checking him over, and found that the kid had scraped his knee badly.

"Does it hurt?" He asked worriedly, carefully brushing the dust sticking to his bloody knee off, and the boy nodded cutely, pouting so his tears wouldn't fall.

"Kai," Sehun called breathlessly and knelt down next to Jeonghan, stroking the boy's head. "Appa's here."

"Seungcheol, could you get my bag from our mat? It's right there next to the tree," Jeonghan ordered calmly, blowing on the knee to make it feel better. He smiled at the boy. "Kai, is it? You'll be fine once I do some magic on you, is that okay?" Kai looked up at Jeonghan through his eyelashes, his eyes round and wet, and managed to smile back at the angelic man who'd come to his aid. Seungcheol arrived with the bag at that moment, and after washing the wound with water from his bottle - at which the tears finally fell - Jeonghan had his knee disinfected and wrapped securely with bandages from his little first aid kit.

Sehun let out the breath he'd been holding, and scooped Kai into his arms, planting a kiss on the top of his head. "Okay now?" He felt the mop of hair under his chin move as Kai nodded into his chest. He propped Kai up on his shoulder, and in a bold move, put his other arm around a surprised Jeonghan. "Everybody, this is Jeonghan, and Jeonghan," he introduced each of his kids who crowded up to them as their names were called. The kids looked already taken with the beautiful man, and even more so when he smiled at them.

"Hi," he said to them, "my, you're all so big!" The kids felt happier at that. "It's nice to meet you." They chorused a 'nice to meet you too' back at him.

"I'd like you to meet my kids, too," he said to all of them, quickly glancing up at Sehun too. "Kids, this is Sehun, my sunbae, and Sehun," he introduced the rest, and the kids looked at Sehun, already finding him cool. They also gave each other glances, some of them having already made friends at the playground.

"Eomma, I'm hungry," little Hoshi piped up amidst everything. The EXO members suddenly looked interested.

"But I thought he was a guy," Lay said, lowering his voice, but Jeonghan heard it. "Why do they call him Eomma?"

"That's weird," D.O. said rudely, and Sehun quickly gave him a look to shut up. He looked at Jeonghan, feeling responsible for their rude comments.

Jeonghan was perplexed at what to say, but before he could open his mouth, Mingyu went up to D.O., slightly taller than even the older boy, and folded his hands crossly. "We call him Eomma because we want to, and it's not weird."

"Yeah, it's not like Eomma is a bad word," the usually quiet Jun added, and even Chen nodded in agreement.

"Then we'll call him Eomma as well," the older Xiumin quickly mediated, smiling at Jeonghan, and got a surprised smile in return.

"But he's our Eomma," little Seungkwan, one of the youngest, said.

"Then you can call our Appa your Appa, too," Suho said intelligently, and S.Coups quickly nodded to settle the deal. All the while, the two adults in question simply stared as their kids debated, and then looked at each other and shrugged. They looked away and blushed, too, for some unknown reason.

"Eomma, I'm hungry," Hoshi repeated, tugging again at Jeonghan's sweatshirt, and Jeonghan came back to his senses.

"Oh, silly me, of course you guys are hungry, it's already so late," he glanced at his watch hurriedly. Sehun set Kai down.

"Want to go out to eat?" he asked, reaching for his phone to check out nearby eateries. Jeonghan shook his head, and Sehun looked at his smile questioningly. Or at his lips. They looked very soft.

"I don't think it's a good idea to take 20 kids to a restaurant, we'd give our hosts a headache," he chuckled, and Sehun froze. He hadn't thought of that. "Besides," Jeonghan continued, "I packed lunch for everybody." He was already walking off towards the parking lot. "Help me get the stuff from the van," he called over his shoulder, and shaking his head at how Jeonghan was always surprising him, Sehun ran to catch up with the blonde.

Chapter Text

Jeonghan watched the twenty kids munching away happily on their sandwiches, nuggets and the like that he'd quickly put togeter at home for them, observing with a hawk's eye for any empty hands and replacing them with more food and drink. He fidgeted uneasily, looking at Seungkwan, Vernon and Kai just a little distance away, wanting to help them with their lunch, but he knew that if he gave them special treatment because they were little they were more likely to feel hurt, so he kept his meddling to a few glances their way every now and then to make sure no one was choking.

"Come on, relax," Sehun said, feeling a little indignant for some reason that beat him, "they'll be fine with EXO around, look." And as he pointed it out, Jeonghan noticed that the slightly older EXO members were diligently taking care of the younger Seventeen, handing out lemonade and keeping them seated on the ground. Both him and Sehun stifled laughs when they saw Hoshi get up and try to slip away to the playground and be pulled back by the hood of his jacket by an indifferent Suho. Jeonghan smiled, then sighed.

"I guess I will then," he said resignedly. "It feels weird not to fuss about them, though."

"I can't even begin to imagine what you've been going through," Sehun said quietly, "but whatever it is, now you have me to help." He looked at Jeonghan seriously. "I want you to tell me whenever you have anything you need help with. Groceries, babysitting, or maybe just spending time together like this when you feel like you want some time away from them, I'll help with anything. So please, don't be so hard on yourself anymore."

Jeonghan smiled sincerely. "Thanks, that means a lot," he whispered. Sehun looked away, and Jeonghan thought he saw the tips of his ears turn red.

"Are you cold?" Jeonghan asked worriedly, pressing the back of his hand against a startled Sehun's cheek like he did with the kids, before he realized what he was doing.

"I'm fine," Sehun mumbled, grabbing Jeonghan's hand before he could remove it, and to his surprise, shoved it in Sehun's pocket. "Your hand is colder," he explained gruffly, looking at anywhere but him. Jeonghan felt his own face grow hot, and subconsciously clenched the hand holding him tighter, getting a squeeze in return. They sat in a silence that they themselves couldn't figure out was awkward or comfortable, but either way, they didn't want to break it for fear it would end. But, of course, not everything went their way.

"Waaaaaaaah!" Dino wailed from his pram, jerking the two out of their thoughts. Jeonghan hurriedly let go to check up on the baby, and though Sehun tried not to, he felt a little of the earlier indignance seep through, surprising himself.

“Eomma’s here, Dino-yah, there’s no need to worry,” Jeonghan cooed as he lifted the wailing baby out of the pram. Chen and some of the EXO members excitedly came over to see him, much to Jeonghan’s amusement.

“He’s so small,” Chen said, amazed, carefully reaching out to hold the baby’s hand, and squealing quietly when Dino wrapped his tiny fingers around Chen’s slightly bigger one. The baby stopped crying and curiously stared back at the new faces, making gurgling noises at them while Jeonghan got his feeding bottle.

“Look, Dino, you’ve got so many new big brothers now,” Jeonghan said, smiling at Chen and getting a beam in return that warmed his heart to a puddle. Dino, though, felt his Eomma to be more interesting than Chen, and made all sorts of movements to catch Jeonghan’s attention, and Jeonghan played along, pretending to carry a serious conversation with him while he drank his milk, making Chen dissolve into fits and giggles every few minutes with his nonsensical lines.

Sehun watched from behind them, observing how Jeonghan seemed to fit in seamlessly with his group, looking after them just as obsessively as he did the Seventeen kids, and something in his chest felt stuffy. In a good way. He wished the feeling would never go.

Maybe Jeonghan felt him staring, but the blonde-haired young man looked back over his shoulder to send a smile his way, his pearly whites seeming brighter than the sun in the horizon, and Sehun felt light-headed for a moment. It took a while for him to register that Jeonghan was beckoning for him to join them, and he tripped over himself in his hurry to comply.

“...and Appa made five pancakes, but two were burnt, so we just gave them to Baekhyun,” Chen was saying. “Baekhyun was so hungry he didn’t even notice! Haha!”

Jeonghan couldn’t help but smile, but his eyes worriedly wandered over to Baekhyun who was playing with Hoshi and Seungkwan, making sure he was okay, and Sehun felt impossibly embarassed.

“They were just a little overcooked, you’re exaggerating,” Sehun mumbled, sneaking a glance at Jeonghan to find him looking over at him amusedly. “Really,” he assured, and Jeonghan nodded.

“Abwu-bu”, Dino joined the conversation, flailing his hands at Sehun and refusing to drink anymore milk.

“Even he doesn’t believe you,” Jeonghan translated, cocking an eyebrow at Sehun.

“What a diva,” Sehun chided, softly pinching Dino’s cheeks and making the baby laugh happily.

“Oh, he likes you,” Jeonghan said, pleased. “Do you want to try holding him?”

“What?? Me?” Sehun asked, startled. When Jeonghan nodded in affirmation, he stuttered. “I- I’ve never held a baby before, what if I drop him? Or hold him wrong and he breaks? You shou-”

“It’s gonna be okay,” Jeonghan comforted. “I never held a baby before last week either, and now I’m a pro, see? You’ll be fine~”

“Whoa, really?” Sehun said, not believing him. “No way, you’re way too good at looking after kids-”

“Okay maybe I held my younger sister when she was a baby once or twice,” Jeonghan cut in, “but that was ages ago, so it doesn’t count.”

Sehun rolled his eyes, but couldn’t help the smile that seemed to constantly play at his lips, and hesitantly reached out for the baby. The baby changed hands, but Sehun stayed extremely close to Jeonghan, just in case the baby had to be returned again, or maybe for some other reason. Jeonghan fixed Dino’s clothes that were slightly askew after the transfer and leaned into Sehun’s space to coo at him, not at all minding the close proximity, and Sehun didn’t seem to mind it at all either.

Soon enough, fed and sated, the baby’s eyes started to droop, and Sehun carefully placed him back in the pram before going back to Jeonghan’s side, only to find that the younger man’s eyes were also on the verge of drooping. Sehun found this extremely adorable, but decided not to comment on it as Jeonghan might feel embarassed. Instead, he sat back in his spot right next to Jeonghan, their shoulders brushing.

“Thank you for that,” Jeonghan said tiredly, smiling. “I didn’t want to leave my spot for a minute.”

“I already told you, you should rely on me more,” Sehun repeated. “Things like this, and others too.”

“Only if you’ll agree to depend on me for things too,” Jeonghan said, and Sehun shrugged, then nodded, earning another smile.

“Honestly, that feels nice,” the blonde sighed, all of a sudden feeling extremely exhausted and resting his head on Sehun’s shoulder that seemed so near and so strong that he finally gave in to the temptation. It was only after that he realized what he’d done, his face turning a shade of pink, and after giving Sehun a furtive glance to make sure he didn’t look pissed off, he decided to keep his head there. Sehun stayed impossibly still, not wanting to make even the slightest movement that would alarm Jeonghan and give him a reason to move his head away. He remembered the last time he’d felt this way was when he was trying to tame a wild cat back home when he was younger.

“What does?” Sehun asked hoarsely, pulling himself together and bringing himself back to the convo at hand with difficulty. “What feels nice?”

“There were times when I felt....overwhelmed,” Jeonghan admitted, his melodious voice no higher than a quiet whisper. “I know you must have felt it too – the anxiety, the apprehension, not knowing whether we can ever go back to our lives as idols anymore.”

And Sehun couldn’t agree more. There were several times when he’d just wanted to leave the house full of noisy children and go back to his own life, but always found himself back at their doorstep.

“Why did this happen to me? What did that person think when they sent that stone to us? I keep thinking about things until it feels like my head would explode,” Jeonghan continued quietly, “and then I see the babies and I feel like a horrible person for ever even thinking about leaving them.”

“That’s only human, Jeonghan-ah,” Sehun immediately stepped in. “It would be abnormal if you didn’t have any doubts at all about having to put up with the shi-...issues, the issues you put up with.” Sehun felt his shoulder rumble as the head on it laughed quietly and felt pleased, but went on. “And though it is a possibility that they might never turn back and we’ll have to live like this for the rest of our lives, there’s still the possibility that they will. Don’t give up just yet.”

“I won’t.” Jeonghan smiled. “But that’s what feels nice,” he drawled drowsily, yawning and shifting his weight until his entire body leaned against Sehun’s, making himself comfy. “What feels nice is......that I don’t think I’ll mind....if we have to live like this for the.........rest of our lives...........anymore.......because.....you’ll be there.”

Sehun swallowed, his throat suddenly feeling dry at the increased contact, and at Jeonghan’s words. He hesitated, then carefully put his arms around Jeonghan and drew the smaller body closer to his, securing it against his chest.

“That’s right,” he whispered. “I don’t mind either, because I have you.” And Jeonghan seemed to have heard it in his sleep, for he smiled and snuggled closer into Sehun’s arms, making Sehun wrap them tighter around him – to protect him from the cold, and anything else that might ever bother him. Because they had each other.

Chapter Text

Jeonghan opened his eyes dazedly, his blurred vision coming into focus after what felt like ages. The nap was completely necessary – he’d lost a lot of sleep and never really found the time to catch up on it. He felt more refreshed than he’d felt all week. Jeonghan smiled happily and stretched lazily in bed, yawning and burrowing further into the soft mattress. Wait, what?

He was up in a minute, observing his surroundings. Where was he? He looked around the cozy room he was in, feeling the white sheets and blankets on the bed and trying to figure out whether he was still dreaming. Either that, or he’d died and gone to heaven, ‘cause he sure as hell didn’t remember ever being in this room before. How’d he get here?

A sudden image of a park, a certain man, and a whole lotta kids made him shoot up for the second time, this time in a huge panic. What happened to the kids? How could he have fallen asleep? Had he died and left Sehun with a dozen more kids to look after?

As Jeonghan stumbled his way to the door to get out, it opened, someone else walking in noiselessly and almost bumping into him as they did. Jeonghan registered that it was Sehun, with a pair of coffee mugs in his hands. He also registered that Sehun looked extremely good in that tight-fitting t-shirt. Evidently, he’d taken his hoodie off.

“Oh, you’re up,” Sehun stated the obvious in pleasant surprise, treading over to him to hand him one of the mugs. “Here’s some coffee. Made it myself.” Jeonghan thought he detected a hint of pride in that last bit, and had to smile. He hid his grin in his coffee mug as he took a sip, and then widened his eyes when he found it quite perfect.

“That’s a good coffee,” he complimented seriously, and the smug look on Sehun’s face became even more pronounced, even though he thought he’d been doing a good job of hiding it.

“I only started making my own coffee since the members magically turned into kids – we usually just settle for a brew from the nearest cafe, but due to obvious reasons that hasn’t exactly been practical ever since,” Sehun shrugged.

Jeonghan felt his head clearing up a bit as he sipped the coffee, and he remembered his current predicament. “Ah, I’m so sorry, though, I ended up dozing off when we were having such a great tim-”

“You looked absolutely exhausted.” Sehun chided, not letting him continue. “I didn’t mind it at all, but I’d definitely be more at ease if you rested yourself better. Don’t worry about inconveniencing me, I thought we’re already past that.”

And we’ve only known each other for a day, Jeonghan thought. He felt a little overwhelmed by the speed at which their relationship was progressing. He even wondered whether Sehun would end up becoming almost as close a friend as Joshua was to him, and that was saying something. Also, hazy memories of being princess carried and clinging embarrassingly tight onto someone's sturdy neck was alarming him. What was happening to him?

“Anyway,” he said, shaking off other thoughts, “is this your place? How’d we get here?”

“Yes, and about that,” Sehun said sheepishly, “I borrowed your minibus, I hope you don’t mind. It was just the perfect size for everybody. My manager said he’d pick up my car for me later.”

“Oh, okay,” Jeonghan nodded. “And the kids?” He was so worried they’d caused trouble for Sehun. Those boys were quite a handful.

“They’re all sleeping now. I guess all the exercise at the park got to them, every single one of them was out like a light by the time I drove them here, and then it was only a matter of getting them onto beds. They’re still sleeping.” Sehun glanced skeptically at the doorway. “Or at least, they were when I was still brewing the coffee.”

There was a moment of silence as the two men stared at each other, then obviously, they heard wailing from the corridor. Jeonghan rushed out the room and towards the sound, placing his mug on the kitchen counter as he passed it in a hurry. He pinpointed the source in a room to the left, and found Dino in a crib, tears and snot running down his chubby little face as he flailed his limbs around in panic.

“There, there, Eomma’s here,” he soothed, picking the baby up and resting him on his shoulder. A few pats on the back calmed Chan down to a few sniffles now and then, and the baby planted his cheek against the delicate shoulder, staring interestedly at the tall man at the door. Jeonghan turned around, noticing him too, and flashed him a sheepish smile, making Sehun’s heart give a thump for unknown reasons.

“Sorry about this, I think he was just panicking when he woke up in an unfamiliar room and didn’t see me,” Jeonghan said quietly, softly rocking the baby in his arms. Sehun smiled back and shook his head. They both listened to the cute sniffles dying down, and Sehun saw Dino’s eyes drooping presently. Jeonghan was looking around the room in interest as he moved around for the baby to sleep faster.

“Where did you get a crib?” he whispered, quite surprised.

“Apparently, the place belonged to a rich couple who couldn’t have kids,” Sehun answered in a low voice, stopping to observe the baby. Dino didn’t seem to mind the deep and pleasant sound, comfortably snuggled in Jeonghan’s arms. Sehun couldn’t help running a hand over his soft little head. “Well, long story short, they adopted quite a few kids not very different to the kind we have here, so they’ve got supplies for almost every age group just sitting around. Needless to say, I didn’t have to start from scratch when shopping – at least we had toys and books.”

Jeonghan nodded appreciatively, taking in the cute little room that was obviously a nursery, with the adorable paintings of butterflies, flowers, stars and the like on the walls and ceilings. When he started hearing the telltale sounds of slumber from the baby on his shoulder, he gently lowered him back in the crib and turned around to Sehun with a huff of relief, his hands on his hips.

“Show me around the house?” he whispered, cocking his head. Sehun nodded and lead the way out, going further into the corridor to show more rooms, their doors open enough to see the sleeping kids inside, sometimes two, sometimes three. There was even more rooms upstairs for the older kids, with another living room connecting all of them together. It was a beautiful house. And Jeonghan said so, but Sehun grinned.

“This isn't all. There’s a basement where we have a home theatre, a pool out in the back, plus a little game room for billiards and table tennis next to it,” he said, taking Jeonghan out the back door to said pool. He sighed. “Right now, the company is renting the place for me, but I’m pretty sure I’ll buy it after...” he trailed off, and Jeonghan didn’t know what to say. There might not be an after.

“Or even if there’s no after,” Sehun said decisively, and Jeonghan looked at him. He was squinting up at the sun, as if trying to see the future in the light. “Then the kids can have a good home. This..this can be our home.” He turned to Jeonghan, his voice clear and steady but his eyes betrayed his nervousness. “I’ve been meaning to ask you this, Jeonghan, but,” he walked closer to the blond man. “Would you like to move in here with me?”

Jeonghan felt his heart stop.

Chapter Text

Move in?

The idea was so equally wonderful and terrible at the same time that he didn't know what to think. He quite liked the idea of getting to spend more time with this cool sunbae, and the notion of having someone not under the age of ten around him as well, but he also didn't know what to make of the uncertainty he was feeling. Uncertain whether Sehun might end up regretting this reckless decision - reckless because they'd only known each other for a day - and feel it too impolite to drive him away, or whether the kids might not be comfortable with too many people, or worse, that their companies and managers might not like it, and also-

"Calm down, Jeonghan, easy," Sehun cut in, grasping his shoulders to face him. Jeonghan stared at him blankly.

"You were thinking out loud," Sehun explained, trying to hide his smile but failing when Jeonghan flushed.

"So what if I was?" Jeonghan argued. "It's true, and-"

"There's nothing to worry about," Sehun comforted, pulling at his shoulders again to make Jeonghan look at him. Jeonghan sighed heavily, complying. "Look, I know it's a little bizarre too, that we've only known each other for a while and making this decision might seem reckless right now. But I want you to answer me honestly, Jeonghan........Would you regret it?"

Jeonghan thought about it hard for awhile, then shook his head, swallowing.

"Exactly. I don't think I'll ever regret it, either." Sehun said seriously.

"But what if later you-"

"But what? If it doesn't work out? So you'd rather go back to that little town and never see me again?! That's it?"

"I never said that! We could...I don't know, just...call? Or visit each other, like today?" Jeonghan trailed off, pursing his lips and looking away.

"Yeah, we both know that's not going to work. It's busy looking after these children, and the visits are gonna do more harm than good. Look at you, you were so tired you could barely make it through the evening." When Jeonghan started to look apologetic, Sehun hurriedly continued. "And no, I'm not blaming you for that. But it's a fact, visits won't be practical. We won't be able to meet again, probably until after the members magically turn back into adults, which might never happen." Sehun saw Jeonghan slightly flinch at his harsh tone, and he felt inexplicably frustrated at himself. He let Jeonghan go, letting out a frustrated sigh and ran his hands through his head, turning away. There was silence in the room for a long while.

"Fine," Sehun said quietly, not turning around or noticing Jeonghan look up in anxiousness. "We'll...try to make this work. It's alright. But you'll have to promise me you'll call everyday and tell me how you're doing, because it doesn't look like you're taking half as good care of yourself as you are the kids. And...I don't know if I'll get the time, but I'll try to drive to you to check up on-"

"That would be way too much trouble for you," Jeonghan interrupted.

"So you'd rather I not come?" Sehun chuckled darkly, his back still to Jeonghan. Jeonghan felt his heart drop at the sound.

"I never said that either," Jeonghan said softly, coming around Sehun to face him. Sehun's hands were on his hips, his head drooping low so Jeonghan couldn't see his face. "You think I'm not worried about you? About these kids? I don't think I'll be able to handle that much time away from you guys anymore," he said, lifting Sehun's chin up to look at him, and reluctantly, Sehun did, his brows wrinkling his forehead as he looked up into Jeonghan's eyes.

"I think it's a dream come true if I could spend more time with you and be able to look after the kids with someone else. I don't want to be alone in this anymore, and I don't want you to be at all, either." Jeonghan smiled, and Sehun felt he was especially angelic at that moment, sending him a half-smile in return.

"So," he drawled, "does that mean you...agree?"

Jeonghan laughed, the pleasant sound ringing in Sehun's ears. "Yes, yes. I would like very much to move in, sunbae," he replied.

"Good." Sehun let himself smile in relief. "And I want you to stop calling me sunbae."

"Huh?" Jeonghan was confused.

"You can just call me by my name."

"Oh."

"Yes. Oh Sehun."

"What?"

"Oh Sehun. That's my name."

"I know that!"

"Then say it!"

"Wha-Why?" Jeonghan laughed, shaking his head incredulously and turning around to go back into the house, but Sehun saw the tip of his ears turning a deep red, and chuckled to himself before following him in too. Jeonghan was just so adorable, he couldn't help teasing him.

They walked in to hear peals of laughter coming from the living room, and saw all the kids gathered together there, playing a game of hide and seek. All games were forgotten as the two men walked into the room, though.

"Appa, look what Woozi taught me," Baekhyun jumped up and down to get Sehun's attention.

"What did he teach you?" Sehun humoured him, crouching down to his height. Baekhyun pointed to his eyes, and then, with a lot of difficulty, crossed them. All the other kids laughed at that, some trying to imitate him and failing, others crowding around Woozi to see him do it too.

Sehun saw Seungkwan run up to Jeonghan and tug on the hem of his shirt. "What is it?" Jeonghan asked gently, only to get two chubby arms raised towards him in answer. He laughed at that, and picked the little guy up. "There," he huffed, placing Seungkwan on his hip. "Now, who's cutie-pie are you?"

"Eomma's cutie-pie," the child replied, clinging to Jeonghan's neck happily. When Sehun's raised his brows in question, Jeonghan shrugged.

"It used to be 'Jeonghan-hyung's cutie-pie', but now I've become a mom," he said embarassedly, planting a smothering kiss on the chubby little face in mock annoyance.

Kai, not to be outdone, ran up to Jeonghan and tugged at his shirt too. Jeonghan looked helplessly at the brat in his arms, who looked back with a pout, tears filling his  eyes at the thought that Jeonghan might put him down. Jeonghan pursed his lips, and he was just about to go ahead and pick Kai up with his other hand when a strong pair of arms grabbed the toddler right out of his arms and threw him into the air. Seungkwan squealed in delight, forgetting his previous dilemma.

"Now who's cutie-pie are you?" Sehun asked, catching him in the air and swinging him around.

"Appa's cutie-pie!" Seungkwan giggled, barely able to speak he was so out of breath. It wasn't until he'd relented that Sehun tucked him snugly against his shoulder, and looked over at Jeonghan, who'd used the interval to pick up a Kai, who was looking very content with his spot next to Jeonghan's hair. The kid seemed to like playing with it.

Thanks, Jeonghan mouthed, and Sehun winked in reply. Jeonghan simply smiled and turned away, but when he knew Sehun wasn't looking, he felt his eyes widen in surprise. His heart couldn't take it. He was exasperated. This guy was way too cute.

"Hey, everyone, can I have a minute?" Jeonghan called out once he'd got his bearings. "We have something to ask you guys." He looked pointedly at Sehun, and Sehun frowned, scrunching his face to express confusion. When Jeonghan stared daggers at him, it finally clicked.

"Ooohhh, yeah, we do," he agreed, scratching the back of his head, and caught Jeonghan rolling his eyes at his slow-to-realize self. "Umm...so are you guys all friends now?"

"We're besties!" Chen yelled, jumping onto Jun's back for emphasis, and the taller boy nodded gravely in agreement.

"Yeah, we're bros now," Chanyeol guffawed, fist-bumping a smirking Seungcheol. "Look, we got our own customized bro hand-shake," he said, and they executed a full 30 second sequence of gestures for show.

"Aww, I've always wanted to have a bro shake," Baekhyun whined, hunching over with his head falling back in a spoilt manner. Jeonghan couldn't help his snort at the boy's adorable antics. Well, Baekhyun would always be Baekhyun.

"Boys, boys, focus," Sehun called. "And...do you like this house?"

"Are you kidding me? This place has a swimming pool," Joshua deadpanned, his arms crossed, always the suave one, and the others nodded in agreement.

"What are you getting at, Appa?" Xiumin asked exasperatedly.

"I'm saying," Sehun walked over to Jeonghan and looked at him as he said the words again. "Would you guys like to move in here?"

"Yes!" They all cried in unison, and there was a lot of jumping around in excitement.

"Yay! Sleepover everyday!" Lay giggled, hugging Mingyu as they jumped up and down together on the couch. Seungkwan and Kai, not wanting to be left out, struggled out of the two adults' arms and ran over to the others. Jeonghan felt Sehun coming closer before he saw it, and looked sideways at him shyly.

"So," Sehun murmured, amidst the chaos, "that's another problem solved. Now what?"

As if in answer, the doorbell rang. 

 

Chapter Text

There was the clinking of plates as Jeonghan stacked them up, bringing them over to the dishwasher as Sehun placed them in.

“You really don’t have to,” Sehun said, for the hundredth time, “you spent all this time making dinner, you should just leave the cleaning up to me.”

“And I’m telling you, I really don’t mind,” Jeonghan rolled his eyes, sighing. “This is nothing compared to what I’ve been doing all week, so it’s really a cakewalk right now. I wouldn’t be able to relax on my own anyway, I’ve become way too used to being busy.”

“But you still did way too much today,” Sehun argued. “You brought lunch to the park for everyone, and then you took advantage of the time I went to drop my manager at the station to make dinner, and now you won’t even let me clean up on my own.” He shut the door of the dishwasher and turned around to face Jeonghan seriously. “No, really, I can’t let you do this. We’re going to live together now. I didn’t bring you here to make it easier on me. We’ve got to split the work, evenly.” He stared pointedly at Jeonghan, who had a smile playing around his lips the entire time as he wiped the table top, until he paused his work resignedly.

“Okay, okay, we will,” he relented, finishing up at the sink and drying his hands. When he saw Sehun waiting patiently with his arms crossed at the door, he raised his brows. “What, right now?”

“Yes, right now,” Sehun said, grabbing ahold of Jeonghan’s arm and dragging him to sit on the couch in the living room. They both thought quietly for a while, Jeonghan eventually raising his head to break the silence.

“Why don’t we do the cooking and the cleaning up alternatively, then?” he suggested, and Sehun nodded his head. “And besides food, there’s cleaning the house to do, sending the kids to school, doing groceries....what else?”

“Changing Dino’s nappy?” Sehun said, earning a laugh from Jeonghan.

“You’d really do that?” He asked Sehun, not knowing whether to feel touched or amused, finally settling on touched.

“I mean, it’s not the easiest of chores, and I know anyone would want a break from that,” Sehun chuckled, scratching the back of his head. “But anyway,” he cleared his throat. “Let’s start with the cooking. You want to do alternative days, or like, you breakfast, me lunch, that kind of alternative?”

They were both startled out of their thoughts when a pair of small arms slung over their shoulders suddenly, Xiumin thrusting his round head between theirs.

“Hey,” the boy drawled, “I couldn’t help but overhear you guys, and if you’re going to divvy up the cooking, I have to say...” he walked around the couch, suddenly dropping to his knees dramatically, grasping both Jeonghan’s hands. “Please don’t give it all to him, your cooking is just amazing.” He glanced apologetically at Sehun. “Seriously, Appa, no offense, but there’s no going back after the dinner just now.”

Jeonghan looked helplessly between the two of them, not knowing who to comfort. He finally placed a hand on top of Sehun’s thigh because he was looking grumpier out of the two, giving it a squeeze to show he didn’t mind. Eventually, Sehun ended his stare-down with Xiumin and sighed heavily. He understood more than anyone, really.

“I get it, I get it. I get what you’re saying, Xiumin, but cooking’s a lot of work. I can’t let him do it all the time.”

Before Jeonghan could say anything, Xiumin cut in, looking at Jeonghan this time. “What if I helped? I could get Suho and Chanyeol and Chen to help too. Maybe Coups. Hmm? Please?” He pouted pitifully.

“That’s okay, really, I can do it on my own.” When he met Sehun’s disapproving stare, he backtracked. “But your Appa won’t let me, see? Tell him that.” He helplessly ruffled the boy’s hair as Xiumin energetically pounced on Sehun, turning his puppy-dog eyes to the maximum. The little brat was cute and he knew it. But Sehun was relentless, shutting his eyes tightly so he wouldn’t waver. Evidently, he had experience dealing with this character. Jeonghan hid his laugh behind his hand as he watched their antics, but finally interrupted.

“Why don’t we do this?” he said loudly, pulling their attention. He turned to Sehun. “I’m not an outdoors person, and there’s a lot of work that involves going out. So if you’re fine with sending the kids to school and picking them up after everyday, that would also give me more time to cook. How’s that?”

Sehun mulled over it for a while, ignoring the monkey clinging to his neck, and finally nodded, but shook his head again. “It’s not like I’m not fine with that, but that’s too easy for me. We need more balance.”

“You do know that there’s a leak in the roof, don’t you?” Xiumin added helpfully. “And the moving guys are bringing the rest of Eomma’s stuff tomorrow. Plus, the garage door doesn’t work properly.” He scrunched his chubby little face up, then nodded in satisfaction. “Yeah, that’s about it. Plenty of balance.”

Sehun pursed his lips, not knowing whether to laugh or feel exasperated. Jeonghan was already wiping tears. Sehun pinched the round cheeks in mock annoyance. “What do I do with you?” He said through his teeth, making Xiumin laugh even with his face stretched.

“Alright then, we’ll do that,” he finally said, chuckling. He turned towards Jeonghan. “You really don’t mind?”

“Not at all. I’d say you were getting the short end of the stick here now, really,” he laughed, stroking Xiumin’s head that lay on Sehun’s chest.

“But there’s also cleaning up after meals,” Sehun realized. “That’s mine.”

“Now you’re going too far,” Jeonghan said exasperatedly.

“Why don’t we share that, then? We’ll do it together.” Sehun said, and Jeonghan nodded quickly in agreement. “And the house? That’s going to be a lot of work.”

“We can help with that,” Xiumin chirped excitedly from his place on Sehun’s lap, pushing away from his chest. “Everyone can do their own rooms, and we’ll all do the rest together. How about that?”

Jeonghan pursed his lips to show he was impressed, and even Sehun looked taken aback. “Look at you,” he laughed, ruffling the boy’s hair till he giggled. “And here I thought you were just a spoilt little brat who only knew how to eat. Thank you, young man, that would be great.” Then he levelled a finger at Xiumin. “But you have to promise me you’ll do it everyday, okay?” The little guy nodded profusely at that.

Sehun nodded along with him, turning to Jeonghan. “Yeah, that’ll be okay. The cleaning lady comes every Friday, too, so, no worries,” he added quietly to him, and Jeonghan was appeased.

“Ooh, ooh, we can also help with, you know, looking after ourselves,” Xiumin offered intelligently, and Sehun guffawed at that, but Jeonghan looked seriously pleased.

“Really?” he asked, and Xiumin nodded his head again, like a little chick.

“Yeah, me and the older ones can look after the younger kids. I’ll make sure they brush and bathe and get dressed and go to bed and everything.” He excitedly raised a hand to his head in salute, nearly poking his eye out in the process. “You can count on me!”

“Wow, really?” said Sehun, now impressed. “Alright, I’m taking you up on that. You’re a big guy, you can handle this.”

“That would be a huge help. Thank you, Xiumin.” Jeonghan said gravely, making Xiumin’s chest swell in pride.

“Here’s a deal – if you do really well on that, I’ll give you guys a reward,” Sehun said, piqueing Xiumin’s interest. “We’ll have a brownie point system for good things you do, individually, and we’ll bring you goodies for every ten points you get, but if everyone does really well, we’ll go out somewhere good at the end of the week like we did today.”

Xiumin smiled so wide it was infectious, and gave Sehun a huge hug, squealing excitedly. “Thanks Appa!” He pounced on Jeonghan. “You too, Eomma! You guys are great.” He looped his arms around Jeonghan’s neck. “Thanks for moving in with us, Eomma.”

“Oh, sweetheart,” Jeonghan smiled, his brows creasing. “Thankyou for having me.”

“But really, though, I really like my new friends,” Xiumin continued, his face growing serious, reflecting twelve-year old wisdom. “And most importantly, Appa’s way more happier than he usually is. I was getting tired of his grumpy moping these days.” He glanced sideways, giving an extremely embarassed Sehun a wise look. Jeonghan didn’t know why he was blushing himself.

“Well, you’re all wonderful children, so I think we’re going to be a lot happier from now on,” Jeonghan changed the subject, combing Xiumin’s hair with his fingers. “Now, it’s very late, and we can’t have you not following the rules if you’re going to enforce them, can we? Are you done brushing?” Xiumin nodded, but Jeonghan shook his head. “I need proof,” he said, much to Sehun’s amusement.

Xiumin rolled his eyes but obediently breathed lightly so Jeonghan could smell toothpaste. “Minty fresh,” he said sarcastically, but a smile played around his lips.

“Then you’re free to go to bed. Run along, now,” Sehun shooed, grabbing the kid from Jeonghan and placing him on the floor, gently giving him a push in the direction of the stairs.

“And I know you guys are excited, but don’t stay up late talking or playing,” Jeonghan called knowingly, Xiumin smiling sheepishly in reply as he was stopping in his tracks. “Tomorrow’s a Sunday, no school. You have all day tomorrow to do whatever you want. I’ll check up on you later. Be good and go to bed.” When Xiumin nodded enough to satisfy him, he let the boy run upstairs to his room. With a sigh, he turned back to Sehun. “Where were we?”

“How are you so good at looking after them?” Sehun asked incredulously instead.

“It’s not that hard. Look at yourself, you don’t even realize how good you are at parenting,” Jeonghan said, smiling at Sehun. Sehun shook his head, not taking the compliment, and they both laughed quietly.

“But I guess the little know-it-all solved our problems for us. That’s almost all the work accounted for.” Sehun shrugged. “So, have we solved all the problems yet?” He grinned at Jeonghan.

Jeonghan had to agree. He recalled when earlier, the EXO manager had dropped by for a surprise visit. The manager’s reaction to the Seventeen situation had been hilarious, but he’d accepted it in the end, and agreed with Sehun to deal with the company about their new living arrangements. They’d even gone as far as to video call the Seventeen manager and confirm things. In a few hours, everything had been sorted out, and the kid's stuff had already been sent. His own stuff was set to arrive the next morning too. Everything had happened so quickly.

“Whoa,” Jeonghan said, coming out of his reverie, “I remember meeting you at a grocery store this morning, and everything after was a rollercoaster ride. I can’t believe it’s only been a day.”

“Well, what can I say, I’m quite the surprise,” Sehun joked, standing up and holding out a hand to Jeonghan to help him out of the couch. “But it has been a long day. Let’s turn in for the night, shall we?”

“’Kay,” Jeonghan chirped, hopping up. “I’ve been meaning to ask you, but...where am I going to crash? I don’t see any extra rooms.”

“Uhh...” Sehun stuttered, “I thought you could just share the master bedroom with me, it’s very spacious. If-If that’s fine with you, I mean, or I could just-”

“No, that’s okay,” Jeonghan said immediately, though he looked very flustered. “I’m fine with it if you are. Yeah.” He cleared his throat, tucking a piece of hair behind his ear. “I mean, the both of us room with our members anyway, it’s no different.”

“Yeah.” Sehun nodded, eyes trained on the floor. “Yeah. No different.” The two of them didn’t know where to look for a moment.

“Umm..well then, I’ll just check up on Dino and be right there,” Jeonghan said busily, hurrying towards the nursery.

“Okay,” Sehun said, still looking at the floor till Jeonghan turned the corner and then coming to his senses. “Oh, um, I’ll get in the shower first then, and lend you some pajamas,” he called awkwardly, and when he thought he heard a sound of affirmation, turned towards the bedroom. He couldn’t understand why he couldn’t wipe away the huge grin on his face, though.

Chapter Text

“Good morning, Minghao,” Jeonghan called from his spot at the stove as the little boy walked groggily into the crowded room, rubbing his eyes and yawning cutely, taking a seat at the table with the other kids as they dug into breakfast. “Did you remember to brush your teeth?” The man asked as he placed an empty plate in front of the latecomer.

“I made sure he did,” Suho helpfully offered, butter on his nose from the toast in his hands.

“Oooh, good boy, Minghao,” Jeonghan cooed, pleased, ruffling the tiny boy’s hair, and mouthed to Suho that he would be getting brownie points when no one else was looking, making the older proud.

“Eomma, I don’t think Mingyu did,” S.Coups raised his hand to cut in, then pointed an accusatory finger at said person, who stopped chewing his food and glared back at him.

“’Esh ah did!” He exclaimed, crumbs falling out of his mouth as he spoke indignantly, and he would have fooled anyone. Anyone except Jeonghan, of course.

“Is that right, Mingyu? Did you forget to brush?” Jeonghan asked gently, but the guy held fast to his stance, shaking his head no like the naughtly little boy he was.

“Oh that’s okay, he says he brushed,” Sehun ‘s deep voice interrupted as he walked into the room, nonchalantly coming over to Jeonghan’s side as he cooked. “And that’s a relief, because if he hasn’t, we’ll have to pay a visit to the dentist’s later, and he might pull out all Mingyu’s teeth. We don’t want that, do we?” He asked Jeonghan, winking and stealing a bite of the toast Jeonghan held, making Jeonghan flustered. Jeonghan wondered if this guy was doing this on purpose, but was startled out of his thoughts when there was a loud scraping of a chair at the table as Mingyu ran.

“I think I left something in my room, I’ll be right back!” He yelled as he disappeared, and Sehun raised his eyebrows at Jeonghan, asking for praise. Jeonghan just shook his head and laughed, placing a plate in front of his sunbae and serving him breakfast.

Sehun pretended to dig into his food, but when Jeonghan turned around, he trained his eyes on the apron-clad man, absorbing the view as the newly appointed chef bustled around the kitchen. Why did Jeonghan always look so perfect wherever he was, like he belonged there? The picture Sehun saw was beautiful. Not a bad scene to wake up to at all, he thought. Moving in was indeed a wonderful idea. And suddenly the apron was a wonderful article of clothing. Why did he never notice it before?

“Come on, finish your food,” Jeonghan chided when he saw Sehun picking at his food, placing a glass of water in front of him.

“Aren’t you eating?” Sehun asked off-handedly, trying not to make it obvious that he’d been waiting for Jeonghan to sit down too. The kids had already finished their meal and were waiting in the living room. All except for Seungkwan and Vernon, of course. Jeonghan had to help them.

“I’ll eat later when I have you all safely out of the house,” Jeonghan laughed, wiping Vernon’s chin. “I have Dino for company,” he added, somehow noticing that Sehun wasn’t happy with him eating alone. The said baby was still fast asleep, and Jeonghan preferred that he only wake up when the morning rush was over.

“Alright, then,” Sehun sighed, stuffing the last bit of salad into his mouth until his plate was completely clean, and went to put his plate in the dishwasher just to have Jeonghan grab it from him resolutely.

“I’ve got this,” he said, turning Sehun around with his free hand. “Now go, or the kids are going to be late.”

Sehun reluctantly left in the end, taking another fifteen to get everyone in the bus and strapped safely before he set off. Jeonghan sighed, tidying up the kitchen, and as if on cue, there was wailing from the nursery as soon as he finished.

“Aww, why are you crying?” Jeonghan asked the drowsy baby, grabbing him by the armpits and hoisting him up to eye-level, only to get a whiff of a familiarly unpleasant smell. “Yikes, Dino, so early in the morning? You haven’t even eaten yet.” Jeonghan grumbled as he set about with the daily routine, his mind wandering off to mull over other things.

It had already been a few weeks since he moved in. The kids had enough space to frolick in, and were easier to manage thanks to the supervision of the older kids. His manager had payed a visit to check up on them two days ago, and met with Sehun. Things had gone smoother than he’d ever thought they could go. They’d already formed a daily routine – he would make breakfast in the morning, Sehun would drop them at school, come back, and until it was time for lunch and the kids returned, they were busy tying up loose ends from their lives as idols – there were endless phone calls to make and schedules to be pushed back for every member, and the task seemed neverending. Time would fly as they spent the rest of the day playing with the kids and satisfying their relentless curiosity, or accompanying them for a swim or to the game room until they were tired out, and Jeonghan would get dinner. And finally, they turned in for bed. Jeonghan had had his bed moved in from their old place, so it wasn’t that different from when he was in the dorms with his members, and the two of them would have been so tired out from their day that they would fall asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillows. Weeks had passed before he knew it.

Jeonghan was startled out of his thoughts when he heard a car pull into the driveway outside. He picked up the now fed baby and moved to the doorway, just as Sehun opened the door to enter. With one hand hoisting the baby against his hip, he used the other to help Sehun with his coat and hung it on the stand. “It must have been cold outside, hurry and grab some hot chocolate, it’s on the counter,” he murmured busily as he did so, and Sehun couldn’t help his smile, so he hid it by bending over to kiss Dino’s round head.

Sehun felt like he’d never get used to this. Compared to the past where he felt isolated being the only adult in a house full of kids, now he was being utterly spoiled to the extent he never wanted to go back to the way things used to be. The sight of Jeonghan every morning when he came back home, usually still in his apron and a baby on his hip, and the way he made it a point to be at the door if he could, made Sehun’s heart warm in ways he never knew it could. Maybe it stemmed from how Jeonghan was also subconsciously eager to have company, but whatever the reason, it made him inexplicably happy.

“Were you a good baby today?” Sehun huffed as he took Dino from Jeonghan and held him close to his face. Jeonghan sighed internally as he swooned over the big man teasing his little baby. He couldn’t decide who was cuter. “Did you give your Eomma a hard time?” Sehun asked, tucking the baby against his shoulder snugly.

“Oh, he sure did, didn’t you, Dino-yah?” Jeonghan cooed happily, tweaking the giggling baby’s nose. “Look at this naughty boy, he’s so happy.” Jeonghan scrunched his nose, making Dino dissolve again into fits of laughter, and Sehun laughed too, reaching out a hand to tweak Jeonghan’s nose before he could stop it, and the both of them were a little surprised for a second.

“Just go and get your hot chocolate already,” Jeonghan blushed and pushed at Sehun’s shoulders, guiding him towards the kitchen, and Sehun let him, his own ears turning pink, and he knew it wasn’t from the cold outside.

Chapter Text

“Ughhhhh...” the usually cheerful Lay groaned, slumping on his stomach across the bean bag in the playroom. “Appa, I want to go ouuuutt!”

“Yeah, Appa, out out~” Hoshi jumped up and down to get the man’s attention, making the teddy bear in his arms flop with him.

“Where?” Sehun asked absently, his face illuminated by the laptop screen as he sat on the couch and read important mail, readjusting his cap on his head.

“Anywhere!” Wonwoo said exasperatedly, throwing his arms out.

“Aww, darling, why don’t we have fun at home today?” Jeonghan sympathized, putting away his phone that he’d just been using to talk to the director of a photo-shoot they were supposed to be at, and wearily took his glasses off. Sehun glanced at him out of the corner of his eye and pursed his lips disappointedly, going back to his work. He hadn’t had enough time to appreciate Jeonghan’s glasses look.

“But that’s what we did last weekend!” Xiumin said unhappily, stomping over to the others and folding his arms. “And the weekend before that, and the one before that!”

“But the weather’s been so bad these days,” Jeonghan said anxiously. “I don’t want anyone to get sick. We could do so much at home – uh...how about a movie? Or- or does a game of hide and seek sound nice? I’ll play too,” he offered, appeasing most of the angry army of children, and they nodded excitedly until Xiumin glared at them. Then they shook their heads, albeit regretfully. Jeonghan sighed.

“Come on, Xiumin,” he coaxed, holding out an arm to the pouting boy who just turned his head away, trying not to be moved. “Xiumin?” Jeonghan called sweetly, “Minseok-ah? Min-min? Min-min?” And his efforts were rewarded when the stubborn little man couldn’t help the upward tilt of his lips, and finally bounded into his waiting arms, making Jeonghan laugh.

“Me too!” Kai shouted, running to Jeonghan, and was caught as well, showered with kisses.

“Stop!” Xiumin giggled, planting a kiss on Jeonghan as well and struggling out of his hold with Kai. “We’re having a conversation!”

“Alright, where were we?” Jeonghan asked, letting them go.

“Bad weather?” Chen offered helpfully, Xiumin turning to him and making faces at him to shut up.

“Yes!” Jeonghan laughed. “Thank you, Chen. Bad weather. Going out in bad weather is a bad idea.”

“We’ll wear our coats and scarves,” S.Coups pleaded, trying to melt Jeonghan with the kiddie-cuteness, and Jeonghan wavered, caught between guilt for not being able to take them out in days and worrying over whether it might not be a good idea. He looked at Sehun for help, finding the guy deeply engrossed in whatever work he was doing, his brows furrowed and his teeth worrying his lower lip in concentration.

Jeonghan didn’t want to disturb him, but the man had been at this since morning without a pause, and it seemed very stressful. He definitely needed a break more than the kids did. Jeonghan sighed, and gently laid a hand on top of Sehun’s knee. “Sunbae?” he called softly, “A little help here?”

“Huh?” Sehun asked stupidly, his attention immediately grabbed by the light touch on his knee, the weight of the hand almost non-existent but at the same time seemed as heavy as a mountain, it couldn’t be ignored. He felt like his skin was burning through the fabric of his pants where Jeonghan’s palm lay, and it wasn’t unpleasant at all. It felt lovely, but it was distracting.

“Sunbae?” Jeonghan pulled him out of his thoughts.

“Yes, uh, where were we?” Sehun cleared his throat, pulling himself together and closing his laptop to give Jeonghan his complete attention, leaning towards him and making Jeonghan blush.

“Appa, can we go out this weekend?” Suho asked.

Sehun looked at Jeonghan, completely lost, and Jeonghan shook his head, not knowing whether to find it adorable or exasperating. “It’s been so cold out these days,” he whispered softly. “It’s been raining on and off all week, the weather’s so unpredictable. I don’t want anyone to get sick.” His fingers tightened their hold on Sehun’s knee anxiously. “But we haven’t taken them out for a while either. I have no idea what to do.”

Sehun felt like he couldn’t think straight with that hand on his knee, so he solved the problem by putting away his laptop, sitting up and taking the hand into his own hands, clasping it tightly with both of his. Now the flustered Jeonghan was the distracted one, taken completely by surprise.

“Alright, guys. What places do you suggest?” he got down to business, completely oblivious to the chaos Jeonghan was going through. “If it’s safe enough, we’ll consider it.”

“I wanna go to the zoo!” Baekhyun announced, rocking madly on his rocking horse on the side. “I wanna see giraffes, and tigers, and dragons, and-”

“Dragons don’t exist,” Chanyeol scoffed, rolling his eyes.

“Then I can just see the giraffes, and the tigers, and the drago- oh wait, no, umm...the giraffes,” he trailed off.

“I like hippos,” Dokyeom chirped helpfully, and Baekhyun smiled in enlightenment.

“And the hippos, and the giraffes-”

“Sweetie, we’re not going to the zoo,” Sehun chuckled at the funny boy, absently rubbing his hands together to warm Jeonghan’s slightly colder one, and the blonde man felt his face heat up a few more degrees than it already had, trying to focus on the discussion.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Disneyland,” Jun said quietly.

“Disneyland’s too far, Jun,” Joshua placated, always sensible. “We have school tomorrow.”

“I don’t think we’re going anywhere,” Lay grumbled, turning over on his spot on the bean bag to lay dejectedly on his back, his head falling back to give his Appa an upside-down frown. Jeonghan felt his heart melt at the sight and unwittingly squeezed Sehun’s hand, looking up at him pleadingly too. And Sehun felt his heart stop at that look which was extremely – what was the word? Coquettish? Yes, extremely coquettish. And adorable. And-

“Can we go to a mall or something, then?” Xiumin asked loudly, trying to dissipate the mood between them and get their attention. “It’s indoors, so...”

“Mall? Do we have a mall here?” Sehun frowned, squinting his eyes to think.

“I heard the teacher say so,” Suho said. “Apparently it’s new, and further uphill. She seemed very excited about it.”

Of course she was, a mall in this quiet place was a lot to be excited about. But crowded places were a big no no for the very famous idol and now surrogate parents. They looked at each other hesitantly.

“I guess we could wear masks and sunglasses,” Jeonghan voiced their thoughts, and Sehun pursed his lips in thought.

“We’d look shady,” he rejected. “It’s not common here like it is in Seoul. And malls usually have a lot of young girls. Young girls mean phones, and social media, and an uncanny ability to see through masks. That is not a good combination. This could go horribly wrong.”

Jeonghan grimaced. “Maybe we could get the managers to do us a favor and take them out today-”

“I’d rather stay at home if Eomma and Appa can’t come with us,” D.O. said crossly, and the others made noises of agreement immediately. Jeonghan smiled, then sighed, inwardly flattered.

“What do you think?” Sehun asked him quietly, and Jeonghan felt his thoughts scattering a bit at the close proximity.

“Should we give it a try?” Jeonghan asked uncertainly.

“Should we?”

“Will you guys just make your minds up already?” Chanyeol yelled. “Or are you fighting with each other?”

“They’re not fighting,” Mingyu quipped innocently. “Look, they’re even holding hands.”

Sehun coughed and released Jeonghan’s hand, and Jeonghan held it to his chest as if he’d been burned, blushing furiously.

“Maybe we shouldn’t go out after all, Eomma and Appa look kinda sick.” Woozi helpfully observed, seeing their red faces.

“We’re fine, children,” Jeonghan called, pretending he wasn’t embarassed. “We’re going to the mall.”

“Yay!” Lay yelled, finally cheering up.

“Why do you still look worried?” Sehun asked softly to him.

“I’m just nervous taking Dino out. I keep having nightmares where I forget him in his stroller somewhere.” He chuckled nervously, looking over at the baby in question and making Sehun look over too. Dino was on the carpet, babbling as Chen happily entertained him. Sehun thought for a while, then got up. Jeonghan looked at him questioningly.

“Wait here,” Sehun said, going over and picking the baby and walking upstairs with him, out of the game room. Dino looked pleasantly surprised, babbling in baby-speak to Sehun, and Sehun humming in reply. Jeonghan smiled at that, and wondered what he was doing. His doubts were answered a minute later, when Sehun walked back downstairs.

“Ta-da!” He laughed, throwing his arms out and showing off the baby in the kangaroo pouch he had strapped to his chest. Dino was kicking his feet around in glee, ecstatic at the view from this height. Jeonghan burst into laughter at the adorable sight, jogging over to kiss the baby’s cheek and smiled up at the taller man. Sehun was grinning from ear to ear.

“How about it?” Sehun asked, raising his eyebrows cutely. “I’ll take charge of this little troublemaker.”

Jeonghan was softly pinching Sehun’s cheeks before he could stop himself. It was such a habit for him to baby his members that it was natural for him to do things like that, but now he found himself blushing at the action. Sehun was so used to being babied that it was normal for his members to do things like that, but here he was, his heart jumping for no reason. They both turned to the baby between them in unison, fussing over him to cover their flustration, confusing Dino thoroughly, and he blinked twice, like the baby he was.

Chapter Text

“Whoa, this place is huge!” S.Coups breathed and pressed his nose against the window as they pulled into the mall’s parking lot. Jeonghan took a deep breath to calm down as a foreboding feeling crept up on him, clenching the baby in his arms tighter to his chest in a protective stance and looking up at the huge building.

He was startled out of his daze when a comforting pair of hands came around him to undo his seatbelt, and he saw Sehun looming over him with a smile from the car door he’d opened for Jeonghan. Him and the kids were already outside, waiting for Jeonghan to get out.

“They’ll be fine,” Sehun placated softly, gently taking Dino away and strapping him into the kangaroo pouch waiting for him, in which Dino happily kicked around in. Sehun grabbed the dazed Jeonghan by the hand and brought him out. “But are you fine?”

Jeonghan exhaled heavily. “Fine as I’ll ever be,” he chuckled nervously, looking around worriedly at the army of children around them. “Now, remember, walk in pairs, always hold hands, make sure-”

“Make sure we’re within sight, and if we get lost stay in place for five minutes then go to customer care, we got this,” Xiumin recited with a roll of his eyes, the rest nodding enthusiastically in affirmation. Jeonghan still didn’t look very convinced.

“Come on, this is as ready as we’ll ever be,” Sehun sighed, one hand on Dino in the pouch and the other, Jeonghan only noticed with a blush, still holding onto his as he towed Jeonghan towards the mall entrance, the kids following suit.

“Can we get ice-cream?” Suho called excitedly, and there were shouts of ‘strawberry!’ and ‘I want chocolate chip!” that followed.

“I really wanna go to the toy store,” The8 said quietly, and received lots of enthusiasm as well.

“The gaming area at the top looks so cool!” Xiumin gushed, rushing towards a picture of it as they stepped inside the mall, Chanyeol and S.Coups in tow.

“We’re out of shampoo,” Joshua reminded indifferently, and Chen nodded enthusiastically, and watched Baekhyun as he walked up to them and stuck his finger in his nose.

“Boys, boys,” Jeonghan called, near tears and gathering them. “What did I say about walking in pairs? And you all have to go to the same place.” He was startled by a reassuring squeeze of his hand that still lay in Sehun’s, and looked over.

“Why don’t we look at the toy store first? Everyone gets to buy one thing,” and he was met with screams of excitement so loud that he had to shout over the din, “...quiet! Everyone gets to buy one item provided that its only this big,” and he motioned with his hands a size similar to Dino’s.

Sehun looked over at Jeonghan. “Stop worrying,” he chided with a smile. “If you’re gonna worry all day, you won’t be able to enjoy this. Let’s just have fun with the kids
today, shall we?” He raised an eyebrow, his smile widening when Jeonghan finally smiled back helplessly. He was surprised when Jeonghan released his hand to reach over and fix his cap for him, swiping his hair inside it like he would with the kids.

“I guess we’ll just face the problems as they come then, yeah?” he said quietly as he worked, his hands traveling down to pull Sehun’s turtleneck higher and cover his chin. “I’m glad this place isn’t as crowded as I expected it to be.”

“It isn’t,” Sehun agreed, and helped Jeonghan pull his hoodie up, not to be outdone, earning a blush from the shorter man. “Now, what about we head to the toy store?”

And with a shy nod from Jeonghan, they set off, the army of nineteen kids, two men and one happy baby, to the toy shop. The astonished store clerk stood up as they entered. “How may I help you, sirs?” he asked.

“Just looking around,” the mysterious man with the baby strapped to his chest replied, his face shadowed by his cap. He walked past, and the kids around him looked to the hooded man next to him for orders.

“Walk in pairs,” he heard a tired voice from inside the hoodie, and the kids happily dispersed, obediently holding hands with a partner.

“Where do you want to go, Dino?” Sehun asked, as he and Jeonghan followed behind Seungkwan and Vernon, them being the youngest.

“Abu-bwu,” he gurgled, kicking his feet forward, and the two men laughed.

“Eomma, ball~” Seungkwan said. “Ball.”

“You wanna go to the ball park?” Jeonghan translated, and when he nodded, Jeonghan led him to the place. Vernon jumped up and down, smiling hard in barely contained excitement, and at the sight of the multicolored pool of balls, the two couldn’t take it anymore and dived in without further ado.

“Be careful!” Jeonghan called, taking a seat beside Sehun at the benches conveniently placed for parents to watch over the kids in the ball park. He then rummaged around in his little backpack, taking out a feeding bottle to give Dino his water.

“So,” Sehun started, leaning over so Jeonghan could easily access the baby in the baby carrier. “What do you usually do at the mall?”

Jeonghan glanced at Sehun amusedly for a second before looking back at Dino. “I wouldn’t usually be at the mall,” he chuckled. “Would you?”

“Fair enough,” Sehun shrugged, making Dino bounce and giggle. “What do you do then?”

“I like to go to parks and gardens,” Jeonghan said. “I like talking walks through nature. Especially at night.”

“Hmm,” Sehun hummed, storing the info in the back of his head for later.

“But since we’re already at the mall, I think I wanna do some grocery shopping today,” Jeonghan said, wiping Dino’s face when he drooled. “We’re out of the supplies we
bought last week. I brought the list, just in case.”

“Are you always this prepared?” Sehun asked in admiration. “Always this organised?”

“No, actually,” Jeonghan laughed, shaking his head. “I usually just sit and relax somewhere in the back. I think sleep is more important than food.”

“And that’s why you haven’t been sleeping or eating properly for the past few weeks,” Sehun said sarcastically.

“I’ve changed a lot in the past few weeks,” Jeonghan said, looking up at Sehun. “If none of this had happened, we wouldn’t have known each other, ever.” And it was a fact Sehun couldn’t deny himself, either.

“No, we wouldn’t have,” he agreed quietly. “So in a lot of ways, I’m actually glad it did happen.” He watched intently as the familiar red hue creeped up on Jeonghan’s pale cheeks, and Jeonghan looked at his hands, hiding in his hoodie.

“I’m glad, too,” Sehun heard a reply so soft he thought he might have imagined it, and then he saw Jeonghan’s grip on the backpack in his arms so tight his knuckles were white, and pursed his lips so his smile wouldn’t show, instead turning to watch the two toddlers wading happily in the ball park.

Chapter Text

“Alright, boys, is that all?” Jeonghan called as he pushed the shopping cart down the frozen foods aisle one last time, cross-checking the stuff he and the rest had amassed. He and Sehun had split with half the kids and a cart each, divvying the grocery list between themselves to get the job done faster. The kids had bought a toy each, and they spent more time trying to dissuade Baekhyun and his new ardent little minion Hoshi from throwing a ruckus about the huge car they wanted, which was way too big and dangerous for their age. Jeonghan had spent a lot of time crouching and gently enlightening them on the reasons they couldn’t buy it, but Baekhyun wouldn’t budge, and later when they started attracting attention because of the loud boy, Sehun had finally put his foot down, and firmly.

“No means no, Baekhyun,” he had said dangerously. “Listen to your Eomma.”

And Baekhyun’s lips had quivered in the start of a show of tears, and his Eomma had gathered the wailing boy into his arms, giving Sehun a glare he found more cute than scary. But deadly. Very deadly.

“Appa’s just looking out for you, Baekhyun-ah,” he’d coddled the sniffling boy. “You know we only want what’s best for you right?” And when he got a nod, he smiled. “Why don’t we get a smaller one, hmm?”

And Baekhyun, who’d by then seen the exaggerated eye-rolls and wide-eyed head shakes Xiumin and S.Coups were wisely sending him over Jeonghan’s shoulder and got the hint, ended up wishing he’d never thrown a tantrum in the first place. “I don’t want one anymore,” he said, but somehow felt like his Appa had just become angrier.

“Why don’t you?” Jeonghan asked gently, sending more glares Sehun’s way and sensing him calm down.

“Because I don’t want Eomma to be mad at me,” he said between sniffles, glancing sneakily up at his scary Appa and shrinking into Jeonghan’s arms.

“Aww, honey, I promise I’m not mad,” Jeonghan said, stroking his hair and wiping away his tears with a hand. “I don’t mind getting a smaller one for you. Shall we go take a look at them again?”

Baekhyun shrugged, wiping away snot with the end of his sleeve, and Sehun grimaced at the act. “Nah,” he said, straightening up. “I’ll just get it some other day.”

After making sure that’s what Baekhyun had decided, Jeonghan had stood up and whispered something into Sehun’s ear very subtly, afterwards turning around and gathering the others with the toys they’d decided on. “Come on, let’s go pay for these, shall we?” he called loudly, making eye contact with Sehun and then leaving, the baby in Sehun’s carrier already emptied by Jeonghan, now sleeping on his shoulder as he walked away with the kids.

Baekhyun was making sure everyone was busy walking with Jeonghan before he rubbed vigorously at his face to get the snot and tears away when he felt a hanky being placed gently at his nose.

“Go on, blow,” Sehun ordered, and very proficiently cleaned up Baekhyun’s face for him, a month’s worth of experience showing in the act, and once he was done, he picked up the boy with a huff, walking away. Baekhyun blankly watching the others getting farther and farther away behind Sehun’s shoulder before he looked towards the man.

“It’s that way,” he muttered hesitantly, glancing at his Appa to determine whether he was still mad.

“I know,” Sehun hummed, his steps unfaltering.

“Where are we going then?” Baekhyun asked, unsure whether his dad was taking him somewhere private to give him a good talking to, away from the reassuring safety of his Eomma so that no one could save him. Sehun felt the kid in his arms growing more apprehensive by the second and sighed.

“We haven’t gotten you a toy yet,” he explained, stopping in front of the boy’s section.

“But I don’t want one anymore,” Baekhyun said grumpily, his voice still small. Sehun gave him a sly smile.

“Are you sure about that?” he asked, bringing him over to the shelves with the Avengers’ figurines. “Look, they’ve even got Loki,” he reached up and took Loki down from the top shelf, bringing it closer for the boy to see. Loki was Baekhyun’s favourite character. Baekhyun found himself reaching for the figurine unconsciously.

“Oh, look,” he heard Sehun gasp, and immediately looked up, “They’ve got the Loki helmet and his cape, whoa..” he put the headpiece on Baekhyun, the slightly too big helmet tilting on the kids head, making him all the more cuter. Sehun smiled, pinching Baekhyun’s cheeks.

“Appa’s not letting you go until you get something you like,” he whispered, planting a kiss on Baekhyun’s soft cheek.

“Aren’t you mad at me?” the kid asked in a small voice, playing with the figurine in his hands.

“Listen baby, I would never be mad at you,” Sehun said quietly, his tone serious. “I want to give you everything you want, but sometimes, some things are not good for you, and Eomma and Appa know best, don’t you think? Do you think we would want you to have something that could be dangerous for you?” Baekhyun slowly shook his head, and Sehun stroked the hair away from the little forehead. “Exactly,” he affirmed, “We’d give you anything to make you happy, but if it involves risks, we won’t, because we love you so much more. So try to understand, okay? You’re a big boy, too, you’ve got to show the little ones what to do like a good big bro, right?” And Baekhyun nodded seriously, almost taking Sehun’s eye out with the horns on his Loki helmet, and Sehun laughed.

“Are you mad at me now?” he asked, and Baekhyun shook his head. “Alright, then, Appa wants a kiss from his Baekhyunnie, else I won’t believe you.” He closed his eyes and stuck his chin out in wait, and presently felt a quick smooch on his cheek, opening his eyes to see Baekhyun busily playing with his figurine, his cheeks red.

“I think I want the helmet,” Baekhyun said decisively, reaching up to place the figurine back with the rest, and Sehun hoisted him up so he could do so, making Baekhyun giggle in delight. Then he walked back towards Jeonghan and the rest, the boy in his arms studying the helmet and finding little buttons on it that made noises. Sehun observed him in amusement, wondering how the Baekhyun hyung would react if he knew what he was like now. He decided that he should be filming every moment for when they turned back into their annoying adult selves, or even if they didn’t, for when they grew up. Might as well do this parenting thing right. He made a mental note to himself to make a detour to get a camera.

As they neared the cash counter, they saw Jeonghan look up at them with a smile, amidst all the kids, even though he looked like he was having a hard time with the sleeping baby on his shoulder and paying for the shopping he obviously had no free arms to pick up. Sehun hurried over, placing Baekhyun down with the rest and taking out his wallet from his back pocket to pay.

“Oh, no, what are you doing?” Jeonghan gasped, trying to stop him by nudging him without jostling the baby in his arms, looking a little helpless as Sehun ignored him and paid the clerk anyway. “You got groceries last time too, why can’t you just let me take this?”

“Next time, okay?” Sehun smiled, taking Dino carefully and placing him in the carrier, facing his chest so he could sleep comfortably. Jeonghan huffed in fury.

“That’s what you said last time too,” he whispered angrily half so that the extremely interested clerk wouldn’t hear, and half so that the baby wouldn’t wake up. “I swear, if you don’t let me the next time and the next after that...” he trailed off when Sehun just seemed amused with his nagging, his lips pursed with the hint of a smile and exaggerated nodding, making him even angrier. He lightly punched Sehun, not helping the smile that somehow worked it’s way onto his face when Sehun whisper-yelled in mock pain, just lightly punching him again till Sehun laughed. Dino whined softly in his sleep and turned his head to find a more comfortable space as he was disturbed by his Appa’s rumbling chest, and the two men fussed over him till he was deep in slumber again.

“Uh, sir, uh,” they heard the clerk call, and realised she’d been trying to get their attention for a while now, “your change and your bill.” She blushed when both the handsome men focused on her. “Thankyou for shopping. H-have a nice day.”

“Thankyou,” Sehun replied curtly, immediately going for the heavy bags before Jeonghan could and moving out of the store with them, making Jeonghan sigh helplessly and gather the boys to go after him, with a hurried nod at the clerk.

She watched until the huge family were out of the sliding doors, and then sighed, collapsing onto her chair. Her friend at the neighbouring counter rushed over, fanning her cheeks as she gushed, “Oh my god, did you see them? I couldn’t see their faces, but they were just so tall and, and proportionate, and such good voices, and, oh! What did they look like?”

“I couldn’t make their faces out clearly either, but damn, they were just so cute together!” She squealed. “There was the baby and they were just being so sweet to each other and the kids-”

“Ugh, there you go again, with your bromance radar,” her friend groaned, rolling her eyes. “How will you ever find a boyfriend like this? You’ll probably end up shipping him with every random guy you meet until he leaves you to actually be with some guy-”

“And that would be even better!” She laughed, making her friend give up and go back to her counter. She turned back around to look at her new favourite couple, but they’d already disappeared. She pouted in disappointment, welcoming the next customer and going back to her job.

“Eomma, can we get some yogurt?” The8 asked, tugging at the hem of Jeonghan’s hoodie softly to get his attention. The act made Jeonghan’s hood slip a little, and he hurriedly fixed it to cover his face in shadows.

“Yes, baby, we can get yogurt,” Jeonghan cooed, pulling the cart over to the side while he grabbed a few big tubs of yogurt enough for a few days.

“Oooh, I didn’t know pizza could be frozen,” Chen said in amazement, pointing excitedly through the glass of the refrigerator.

“Do you want pizza?” Jeonghan asked, looking down at the sweet little boy.

“Not these,” he shrugged. “I want Eomma to make me your pizza again.” And he skipped off toward Jun, and they looked together at all the wonderful foods in the freezer that they didn’t really want. Jeonghan snorted and shook his head. There was never a dull moment with these kids.

“Ah, no, Vernon!” He was startled to see the boy trying to clamber into one of the refrigerators, quickly running up to him and pulling him out. “Don’t do that, Vernon, you’ll catch a cold,” he groaned, hoisting the kid into the cart where he’d already placed Seungkwan a little while earlier, and it seemed like he intended for that to happen, seeing how they immediately started laughing and playing around in the cart together. Jeonghan sighed tiredly, putting his hands on his hips.

“Gosh, stop running around, I’m tired,” he heard Suho complain, pulling back an excited Lay who seemed to want to check something out.

“Then let go!” He cried, indicating at their tightly clasped hands.

“No!” Suho said exasperatedly. “We have to walk in pairs, remember?”

Jeonghan chuckled. He wondered what Sehun was up to, and whether he’d finished his half of the shopping. He was done with his own – well, minus the bacon, because it was out of stock. And minus the plates he’d been planning to buy since S.Coups and Baekhyun broke a few between them, but they could do without those for a few more days. He couldn’t be bothered to go searching now.

As if on cue, his phone rang. “Sunbae,” he greeted, motioning for the kids to follow him and pushing the cart into the aisles. “I’m done with my shopping, are you? Where are you?”

“Right here,” he felt a warm breath next to his ear and gasped in shock, looking to the left sharply just to find Sehun’s nose barely an inch from his.

“Goodness, you scared me,” he complained in a whisper, pushing Sehun away and continuing on his path with a huff, pushing the cart with the toddlers happy to see their Appa in it, babbling to get his attention.

“Did you get everything?” Jeonghan asked him.

“Yeah, we got everything, didn’t we, big boy?” He confirmed with Dino, who just kicked his legs with a chortle, as if to agree. “Yeah, we got everything. Oh,” he pouted, “didn’t get the shampoo, they were out.”

“Oh well, we can get it tomorrow then,” Jeonghan decided, unloading his cart, catching Sehun walking around him sneakily to get closer to the clerk and putting the cart between them so that he couldn’t cross.

“My turn,” he snarled cutely, waiting eagerly for the things to be billed so he could pay, and Sehun huffed, complaining to Dino as if he could understand, making Jeonghan and the clerk laugh.

“Those are a lot of kids you’ve got there,” he commented good-naturedly, and Jeonghan slightly stiffened for a second.

“Yeah, these are all our nephews, we come from a big family,” Sehun laughed, sending a discreet wink Jeonghan’s way, and Jeonghan relaxed.

“You sure are a nice pair of uncles to have then, bothering to take the time to hang out with them like this,” the clerk said, smiling at them. “And so many of them too, I wouldn’t know if one went missing.”

“Appa!” They suddenly heard Xiumin yell anxiously. “Is Kai in the front with you? He let go of my hand a while ago, and now I can’t find him!”

Jeonghan whipped his head around, wildly searching for the 5 year old, and found nothing. He felt his heart stop and looked up at Sehun, Sehun’s eyes reflecting his panic.

Chapter Text

“Stay in the car, okay? We’ll be right back,” Sehun ordered, strapping Dino to a car-seat and getting out of the minibus to shut the door. Suddenly, Xiumin, who was at the door, reached out a hand to grab the front of his t-shirt, and Sehun realized the kid was on the verge of a breakdown.

“Appa, I’m sorry,” he said, his voice shaking. “I was just looking at the chocolates and he said he wanted to ask Eomma if he could buy one so I told him to hurry before Eomma paid, and-” by now he had tears streaming down his face.

Sehun grabbed the boy’s head against his chest and patted his back firmly, quickly kissing the top of it. “It’s not your fault, sweetie, don’t worry, we’ll find him in no time, these things happen,” Sehun consoled softly. “Would you like to help me and Eomma out?” Xiumin nodded vigorously, rubbing his face dry and sniffing, listening attentively. “Then I want you to take care of the boys while we bring Kai back. There’s nothing to worry about, and I want you to let them know that. Be a good boy, okay? I’m counting on you,” he said, pecking the boy on the cheek again and placing him in safely before shutting the door and pressing the button on the key to lock it. He couldn’t deal with it if someone else decided to get lost.

Taking a deep breath to calm his nerves, he walked to the mall until he was out of sight of their bus, then broke into a run, wiping the sweat from his forehead and placing his cap back on in stress. Jeonghan had almost hyperventilated earlier, and he’d sent Jeonghan to inform the customer care while he took the boys to the car so he could start looking as well. He jogged back into the supermarket, running down the aisles, stopping frequently to ask staff and passers-by whether they’d seen the five year old, getting a negative every time. He thumped his chest twice hard to calm his racing heart, whipping his head around as he searched.

Meanwhile, Jeonghan was almost faint with worry. “Please, can you announce it again?” he breathed, feeling out of breath as the lump in his throat felt like it was growing by the minute.

“Listen, sir, we already did just a minute ago,” the man at the desk said helplessly. “If you could please wait for awhile, we might get news-”

“I can’t wait,” Jeonghan almost cried, then swallowed, breathing heavily and looking around to calm down. “What if the staff haven’t heard it properly?”

“I’m sure they have, sir, so if you could-”

“I’m begging you, I’m out of my mind with worry here,” Jeonghan gasped, his tears finally starting to fall. “It’s already been fifteen minutes, he must be so scared,” he sobbed. “He’s only five, please, if only so I can be at peace,” he realized how crazy he must look and pulled out a tissue, wiping his face clear to look more level-headed.

The manager was flustered as he watched the extremely good-looking man break down in front of him, and his heart thumped madly. “A-alright, I’ll, I’ll do it again then,” he stammered, switching the mic on and doing the announcement for a third time, somewhat unstably this time.

“Thank you,” Jeonghan managed to say, and left his number at the desk before turning around to search for Kai. He dashed towards the supermarket, his thoughts running wild and his head constantly looking left and right to miss no corners the little boy might be in. What if he’d gotten hurt somewhere? What if he got locked in some fridge like Vern- oh my goodness, what was he thinking?! But what if he...Jeonghan shook his head to stop his thoughts, but his eyes wouldn’t obey, watering up all over again on their own. He quickly wiped at them to clear his sight, but more tears kept coming.

Unable to take it anymore, he stopped in his tracks next to a huge pile of chocolates. “Kai!” he called, his voice somewhat cracking, catching the attention of some other customers. “Kai, where are you?!” He wiped furiously at his endless tears, a hiccup making it’s way out as hard as he tried to stop it.

“Jeonghan!” He heard a wonderfully familiar voice call hoarsely, and in a second he was wrapped in a strong and tight embrace. Without having to look up, he immediately buried his head in Sehun’s firm chest, breathing heavily to put a stop to his sobbing.

“Did you tell customer care?” Sehun asked, tightening his arms around further when he felt Jeonghan’s shoulders shaking, and felt Jeonghan nod against his chest. “Alright, then, we’ll find him in no time.”

Jeonghan pulled away, sniffling. “Did you check everywhere here?” he asked, composing himself. Sehun nodded, sighing, and though he looked okay, Jeonghan saw the anxiety in his eyes, his tense shoulders and his tightened lips, and knew he was trying to stay calm for him.

“He might have gone outside the supermarket to look for us,” Sehun said, running a hand over his face, and Jeonghan noticed his white t-shirt was half soaked in sweat, and he was panting heavily. His eyebrows drew together, and he flung his arms around Sehun’s neck to give him a quick encouraging hug, and then turned around in a hurry.

“I’ll start looking outside then, while you keep at it here for a little longer,” he called over his shoulder, then patted at his face, telling himself to keep it together.

Sehun pulled his cap lower over his face to hide his tensed expression and obliged, jogging off again.

Jeonghan’s phone rang, and he picked it up in less than a second. “Did you find him?” he asked breathlessly, fisting his shirt to hear the affirmative before he could sigh in relief.

“Who?” the person at the other end of the line asked, in utter confusion. Jeonghan checked the phone again, and almost cursed when he saw it was just his manager.

“I’ll call you later, hyung, I can’t talk right now,” he managed through his teeth, hanging up and continuing his search, but his phone still rang again. He picked again, half hysterical.

“I really can’t talk right now, please, call-”

“Umm, is this Jeonghan-ssi?” he heard the polite voice of the manager. “Your child went missing earlier...”

“Oh yes, yes, that’s me,” Jeonghan hurried. “Please tell me you found him.” He felt on the brink of tears again from relief, only to be somewhat disappointed again.

“Uh...not really, I’m sorry to say,” the manager replied apologetically, “but I was tipped off by one of the cleaning staff that a child similar to the description was seen somewhere near the elevators of the fifth floor about ten minutes ago, but he’s not there anymore. I thought you might want to know.”

“Yes, yes, thankyou so much, I appreciate it,” Jeonghan said, already halfway to the elevators, and hung up, rushing madly to stop the elevator doors from closing much to the surprise of some old ladies inside.

“Excuse me, I’m in a hurry, please,” he said, quickly calling Sehun up and informing him as he waited to go to the fifth floor.

“What’s wrong, son?” One kind lady asked after overhearing, seeing his red nose and disheveled look. “Are you looking for someone?”

“Yes, my little boy,” he said, trying to catch his breath. “He’s only five, and he got lost, and I’m so worried.”

The ladies muttered their sympathies, totally understanding his feelings. At their query, he quickly described Kai’s clothes and appearance.

“Oh my,” one gasped, and looked at the others. “Doesn’t that sound like that adorable kid we saw on our way up?”

“Now that you say it, I think so too,” another agreed, eyes wide as she looked at Jeonghan, who was starving for more information. “We saw him on the elevator quarter of an hour ago,” she explained quickly, “we got off at the supermarket, but he was still on the elevator, and he was so cute, though he looked very upset.”

“Oh yes,” another joined, a little hurried now, “but we thought he was throwing a tantrum because he was mad with his dad, because there was this other man in the lift too, and we thought they were together.”

“Another man?” Jeonghan blanked, his heart going on overdrive as the elevator doors flew open with a ding. His wildly running thoughts suddenly were non-existent, and he couldn’t even think anymore as he ran out madly, mechanically searching every corner. He absently registered that he was at the arcade section, where they were at earlier because the older kids really wanted to. He circled around the air hockey table to get to the basketball hoop game that Sehun had played with the kids while he watched, because Sehun, he came to know, loved the game*. Somehow he felt Kai would come here.

As he neared the bench he’d sat on earlier that day, he heard someone coaxing. “Come on, kiddie,” he heard, “Come on, we need to go home.” The voice then grew loud, laughing gruffly. “Kids these days, so naughty, they won’t even listen to their dads. If you don’t come with me now, I’m gonna have to drag you with me. You’ve had your fun, now let’s go.”

His heartbeat sounding even in his ears, Jeonghan rounded the corner with eyes wide to see a scrawny looking man looming over the bench he was looking for, under which a little boy in familiar red clothes was cowering. His voice barely worked, only managing to call out, “Kai!” as he made to lunge at the man, but before he could move, all he saw was a flash of a figure in a white tee and heard a loud knock of fist connecting with jaw, and the man was sprawled on the floor, a much taller figure standing over him whose face was shadowed under a cap.

“Kai!” Jeonghan cried, finding his strength and rushing over to his little baby, and Kai immediately crawled out, throwing himself into Jeonghan’s arms as he wailed loudly.

“Are you okay, sweetie?” Sehun asked, quickly putting his arms around the two on the floor, running his palm over Kai’s small head, Jeonghan dropping kisses on it every other second he wasn’t crying. Kai nodded, clinging tighter to Jeonghan’s hoodie and wailing louder, attracting more people to the crowd that had already gathered.

Sehun quickly turned around to find the culprit disappearing into the crowd in the midst of the chaos, and all but flew behind him, madly giving chase, ignoring Jeonghan’s calls to him to stop.

“Stop that bastard!” Sehun yelled, running for all he was worth and gaining slowly on the man as they went, but none of the passing people were quick enough to react and stop him. The guy was lucky enough to get into an elevator and close the doors before Sehun could get to it, and Sehun couldn’t stop it even though he hammered at the buttons. He slid to the emergency staircase, running down, almost falling down the whole flight in his hurry but managing not to. The elevator in the mall was small and fast, though, and by the time he reached the ground floor, the elevator had already closed to go on it’s way up, empty. The man had escaped.

Sehun punched the tiled wall in anger, finally registering that his phone was ringing. It was Jeonghan. “He got away,” he panted furiously, his free hand clenching his head over his cap in frustration.

“Let him!” he heard Jeonghan cry anxiously at the other end, surprising him. “You listen to me, Oh Sehun, you stay put until I come and get you, running off like some gangster now,” Sehun grimaced quite sheepishly as the other man scolded him like he would their kids. “Wait till I find you, and if there’s anything left of you I’ll finish you off myse- what? N-no, baby, Appa’s fine, no, Eomma was just joking, we’re going to see Appa in a minute,” and Sehun heard the line go dead as he was hung up on. He couldn’t help his smile at Jeonghan’s nagging, finding it extremely endearing. He was interrupted out of his thoughts as the elevator door opened to reveal a very worried Jeonghan and a still sobbing Kai in his arms.

“Appa!” the five year old stretched his arms out to be held, and Jeonghan walked up to him to hand over the baby and also to fuss over Sehun, tilting Sehun’s head this way and that to make sure he hadn’t gotten into a scuffle and hurt himself.

“I’ll give you a piece of my mind when we get home,” he muttered to Sehun quietly so Kai wouldn’t hear, his hoodie low over his face, but Sehun could see his nose red from crying, a contrast to his fair face, now pale from all the stress, and the lips red from being bitten raw, and Sehun felt his heart race even though the worst was already past.

“Appa,” he heard Kai call again, and quickly looked to the little boy, albeit still being a little flustered, “can we go home now?”

“Of course, baby, of course we can,” he replied, clearing his throat. “Shall we?” he asked Jeonghan, finding it adorable when Jeonghan kept his head still low, answering with just a small nod. “Come on, stop sulking,” he whispered near Jeonghan’s ear, carding the fingers of his free hand through Jeonghan’s. “Let’s go home first, okay?”

Jeonghan, too taken aback by the cheesy guy infront of him, could only follow dumbly as he was led by the tall man to their ride, only recovering and blushing furiously when they were welcomed by the kids in the car, quickly pulling himself together to comfort the poor Xiumin who burst into tears of relief as soon as they opened the car door.

“Thank you so much for taking care of the others for me, sweetie,” Jeonghan whispered into his hair, and Xiumin nodded, smiling. The car was filled with giggles and sighs of relief as the children bombarded Kai with questions, and Sehun somehow got everyone into their carseats and seatbelts amidst the chaos, and they were on the road in no time.

Jeonghan listened for a while to the comfortable noise of the children behind him, and then glanced at the driving Sehun out of the corner of his eye. Sehun’s cap was low, shadowing his face even though they were out of the public eye now, and his hands gripped the gear exceedingly tight, knuckles white, and Jeonghan observed the way his jaw muscles were still clenched.

Sehun stilled as he felt Jeonghan gently put an arm on his thigh, and looked to him, but Jeonghan was looking out the window, his hand rubbing soothing circles on his jeans in quiet understanding, and Sehun finally swallowed the lump that had been in his throat for the past hour, exhaling deeply and relaxing under Jeonghan’s soft touch.

Chapter Text

Any 'quiet understanding' Sehun thought there had been between Jeonghan and him definitely flew out the window as soon as they got home. Jeonghan had all but completely ignored his existence during dinner, and it was so obvious even Dokyeom noticed the tension between his Eomma and Appa.

“Appa,” he’d chirped innocently as they ate, “I think Eomma’s mad at you.”

Sehun had choked on his food, coughing and drinking water quickly, stealing a glance at the apron-clad Jeonghan who’d been serving food. Sehun had almost seen angry smoke coming out of Jeonghan’s ears, the way he was silently working unlike his usual accommodating self. He’d noticed Xiumin gesturing to Jeonghan and then raising his eyebrows in question while Jeonghan wasn’t noticing, and had shrugged, pursing his lips to keep from smiling.

An excited Kai had hopped in his seat, eager to share. “I think it’s bwecause Appa-”

“That’s enough, children,” Jeonghan had interrupted, putting the casserole down on the table heavily with a loud thump and startling everyone. “Finish up quickly and go to bed. You have school tomorrow.”

And no amount of quietly sidling up to Jeonghan or joking around to make him laugh had worked. Jeonghan had kept the silent treatment up all the way even after the kids and Dino were sent to bed and fast asleep after the tiring day, now finally settled on the sofa and concentrated on his phone. It didn’t look like he planned on coming to bed any time soon.

“Jeonghan,” Sehun called helplessly, walking into the living room when he received no response. “Come on, I’m sorry, okay? Jeonghan?”

Jeonghan tacitly ignored him, and Sehun observed the folded arms and furrowed brows as he looked at his phone, most likely not even doing anything on it. He sighed and sat next to Jeonghan, leaning close to get into his personal space.

“Jeonghaaann~” he whined, but Jeonghan was firm in his stance, the corners of his mouth tense in what Sehun had learned was his unhappy face*. He gave up, sliding down the sofa to sit on the carpet, instead opting to look up at Jeonghan’s face as Jeonghan pretended to surf the internet. Sehun noticed the ripped jeans Jeonghan was wearing, and how his white knees showed through them....deliciously. He didn’t know why, but that was the word that sprang to mind. (A/N: the only one that springs to mine, every single time lmao)

He suddenly lay his arms across Jeonghan’s lap, placing the side of his face on them and getting comfortable, finding a weird happiness in the contact, and felt Jeonghan slightly stiffen in surprise. That made him smile. After a long while, he heard a sigh, and eventually felt a hesitant but gentle hand card fingers through his hair, stroking his head not unlike one would a child.

“Do you know how worried I was?” he heard Jeonghan ask, presently, his soft voice breaking the quiet that had settled in the mansion. “I was finally ready to breathe again when we found Kai, and then you had to run after that....that bad man, so recklessly. Do you even realize what could have happened?” He placed a hand under Sehun’s chin, turning his face up so that he could see him. “Huh? Do you?”

“What?” Sehun played along, finding the indignant look that filled Jeonghan’s face impossibly cute.

“What do you mean, what?” he whispered angrily, leaning down to get closer to Sehun. “Let’s assume you caught the guy. Then what? You’d fight him?”

Sehun wanted to nod, obviously, but he knew that was the wrong answer right now, so he could only helplessly remain silent, and Jeonghan was livid anyway, as expected.

“He’s a kidnapper!” Jeonghan almost cried. “If he gets caught, he goes to jail! He’d do anything to get away, even if it means stabbing you in the gut with a knife!” He punctuated the sentence with a poke in Sehun’s chest. “Those people are not the kind we can deal with. You either leave them to security or let them get away.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “Can you even imagine the thoughts I had running through my head when I kept trying to call you and you wouldn’t pick up? I-” he stopped talking all of a sudden, just pressing his fingers between his brows to ease the tension between them.

Sehun let out the breath he’d been holding, feeling moved. He reached out to gently pry Jeonghan’s hand away, bringing it back to his own and placing his cheek in it.

“I’m fine, though, aren’t I?” he said softly, continuing before Jeonghan could retort. “I know, and I understand, I’m very sorry, Jeonghan, I really am. But,” he recalled the feeling he’d had when he rushed upstairs to the scene, and half-shuddered again in anger. “I wasn’t thinking then, I just wanted to punch him till I saw blood.” His hold on Jeonghan’s hand tightened. “Just imagining what could have happened if we hadn’t gotten there when we had makes me-”

Jeonghan placed his other hand on Sehun’s lips to stop him. “Don’t. I don’t want to think about that either.” He inhaled heavily to compose himself.

“Exactly. I know it was dumb of me now, but if we went through any of that I would do the same thing all over again. No one messes with me or mine.” He defiantly held Jeonghan’s stare for a long while, until Jeonghan finally surrendered.

“I understand, sunbae,” he sighed, bringing Sehun’s hand closer to his and running his fingers over the slightly bruised knuckles. It was the fist Sehun had used to punch the guy. “But be more careful, will you? I couldn’t stand it if you got hurt.”

“Is it because you’re worried about me, or is it because I’m an idol that I can’t get hurt?” Sehun tested, but laughed loudly when he saw Jeonghan’s eyes go wide in fury at the comment. “I was kidding, come on,” he coaxed, suddenly dropping a kiss on Jeonghan’s knee, extremely satisfied when Jeonghan blushed red, completely taken by surprise.

“What are you doing?” He murmured half angrily in his embarassment, gently shoving Sehun’s head away as Sehun laughed harder.

“Are we okay now?” he asked, and Jeonghan nodded almost shyly. They both smiled at each other.

Jeonghan suddenly felt the day’s events taking their toll on him, his body feeling tired and heavy. He yawned. “Shall we go to bed then?” He muttered sleepily, standing up and walking away already. Sehun’s eyes glittered in thought, smiling to himself and following the man to their room, feeling a little self-pity for some reason.

“Yes, let’s go to bed,” he agreed to no one in particular, as Jeonghan was in the shower. He’d already changed into his pajamas while Jeonghan had been sulking in the living room, and now all he had to do was slip into his bed, but he was dawdling just because.

He was brought out of his thoughts when he heard their bedroom door creak open, making out a little silhoutte in the faint light. “Who is it?” he called lightly, squinting to see Kai walk in hesitantly, clutching his pillow tightly against his chest. “Kai? Why aren’t you asleep?”

“I couldn’t fall asleep,” Kai murmured, drawing patterns on the floor with his toe in embarassment. He said something else that was too quiet to make out, and Sehun frowned, crouching infront of the boy and pulling him closer.

“What?” He asked, lending Kai an ear.

“I had a nightmare,” Kai whispered. “I saw Eomma, and Appa, and that bad bad man, and he took me away, and I couldn’t find Eomma or Appa anymore,” and he started crying at the memory.

Jeonghan, who’d just gotten out of the shower and changed into his pajamas, overheard the child and quickly walked over, joining Sehun next to Kai. “Oh, honey, there’s nothing to be afraid of,” he comforted, wiping away the boys tears as Sehun hugged him.

“Yeah, we’ll always find you if you ever get lost,” Sehun said, gently patting the little boy on the back. “You just have to remember what we said in the evening, alright?” He was mentioning the talk they’d had once they got home from the mall, again instructing the kids on what to do if they got lost. They already had in the morning, but the kids were a lot more receptive to details after the first-hand unpleasant experience. “And if you can’t remember, just stay put, and we’ll come find you, hear me? We always start looking from where we last saw you.”

“That’s right, so there’s nothing to be worried about, alright?” Jeonghan agreed, stroking Kai’s head that lay on Sehun’s shoulder. Kai sniffed and nodded.

“Can I sleep here tonight?” he asked in a small voice, and both of them nodded immediately.

“Of course, baby, where do you want to sleep?” Jeonghan asked, indicating to the two beds on the left and right of the room.

Kai looked completely torn on which one to choose. “But I want to sleep with both of you,” he sniffled, upset, hugging his pillow tighter.

Sehun looked towards Jeonghan, uncertain. “We could just put the beds together?” he suggested, and Jeonghan agreed without thought, and they stood up to start moving the furniture before he suddenly felt shy and awkward for some reason, face flushing.

Kai looked extremely happy though, so Jeonghan finally decided it was the best idea, smiling indulgently as he watched Sehun let the little man push the nightstand aside with joy. Soon they had arranged the room, and Kai jumped excitedly onto it, placing himself in the middle to no one’s objection, and patted the places beside him for Jeonghan and Sehun to come quickly.

Sehun laughed, exchanging a smile with Jeonghan, and went over, sliding into bed and pulling up the bedcovers over the three of them. He felt his heart speed up and didn’t know why. Clearly, it was the same bed he’d been sleeping in for more than a month now, in the same room, with familiar people, but it felt oddly exciting.

“Shall I turn the lamp off?” Jeonghan asked him softly, not meeting his eyes, and Sehun murmured in agreement, watching as Jeonghan’s figure was plunged into darkness, and then slowly be illuminated by the moonlight as his eyes got accustomed to it. He watched as Jeonghan turned to him and Kai, gingerly hugging Kai and making the boy giggle giddily, the pleasant sound of Jeonghan’s laugh joining shortly as he hugged Kai tighter, until they both finally settled down, the only sound their quiet breathing.

Sehun huddled closer to the two, reaching an arm over Kai and placing it across him, feeling Jeonghan’s waist over the blanket. “Goodnight,” he whispered, smiling to himself.

“Goodnight,” he heard whispered back, much to his surprise, from Jeonghan who hadn’t fallen asleep yet. There was the quiet rustle of covers as Jeonghan shifted his hand over Kai to place it against Sehun’s chest. Then all was quiet, and Sehun knew that Jeonghan had really fallen asleep.

And he was relieved. Somehow, he didn’t want Jeonghan to feel his rapidly beating heart that wouldn’t calm down, a quick rap against the gentle palm on his chest, and it didn’t feel bad. It didn’t feel bad at all.

Chapter Text

Jeonghan groaned softly as the morning light sifting through the curtains fell on his eyes and disrupted his dreams, burrowing his face into the body infront of him, the tip of his nose feeling cold, fisting Kai’s clothes and nuzzling into him. His nose pressed against something comfortably firm, his hold on the clothes tightening as he sought refuge against the cold morning air. Even the tips of his toes were cold, and they pressed against the warm ones next to them. He finally sighed in content when the arms around him tightened to pull him further into the warm embrace. Was Kai always this nice to hug? He remembered thinking just last night that the boy was just a bag of bones to hug, and noting to himself to fatten the little kid up.

Something not feeling quite right, he gingerly opened his eyes, startled when he only saw an expanse of chest infront of them. This wasn’t Kai. Or was it? Had Kai turned back into an adult? But the scent that hit his nose told him exactly who it was way before he tilted his head upwards to see the handsome sleeping face. Sehun had a very unique feel, and Jeonghan blushed to think he knew exactly how Sehun smelt and felt.

He stared at the man’s closed eyes, the straight nose, the lips – he took the time to observe Sehun now that the other was asleep. His hands on Sehun’s chest flattened out against it, and Sehun’s arms around him tightened. Sehun’s eyes flew open then, to his surprise, catching him staring. It was too late to pretend to be asleep now.

“Good morning,” Jeonghan whispered, even the tip of his ears turning an adorable pink.

“Morning,” Sehun replied softly, his deep, husky voice turning Jeonghan’s ears an even darker shade. “Did you sleep well?”

Jeonghan nodded slightly, his attention on Sehun’s sexy bedhead, tousled so that some of his hair fell down his forehead near his eye. He absently reached up to comb it away, and Sehun closed his eyes in contentment. Jeonghan smiled indulgently, stroking Sehun’s head for awhile.

What he didn’t know was the internal chaos keeping Sehun awake. He’d woken up way earlier, surprised to find himself holding Jeonghan so tight, not unhappy in the least about it. His heart had been in overdrive for the past...he didn’t remember how long it had been, but to him it had felt like ages – while he stared at Jeonghan, soaking in the beautiful face in the morning light. Jeonghan’s eyelashes were fanned out against his porcelain cheeks, his cherry lips slightly swollen from sleep, creating the prettiest painting he’d ever seen. Not to mention how he almost forgot to breathe when Jeonghan kept nuzzling into his chest and fisting his shirt. Where was Kai? Who cared? He knew he probably should, but any coherent thoughts were evading him at the time. He concentrated on the soothing fingers carding through his hair, pulling Jeonghan closer to him and tangling their legs together. Somehow, he felt like he could never get close enough, even though Jeonghan was already pressed flush against his chest.

His eyes flew open in surprise when Jeonghan hesitantly nuzzled his neck, finding a comfortable position on his shoulder, and then he smiled, burying his nose in Jeonghan’s blonde hair. Jeonghan’s shampoo was Sehun’s new drug.

Jeonghan’s thoughts were racing too. He tried to remember the last time he’d hugged one of his members to sleep, but none of them had felt like this. Of course, he’d loved those moments, many a time climbing into Dokyeom’s or Dino’s or even Seungkwan’s beds when he’d felt like coddling his younger members, but none of them had made him feel so content – none of them had made him wish time stopped forever so he could stay like this. As he blinked in thought, he felt Sehun’s chest rumble with a hoarse laugh.

“Stop that,” Sehun chuckled raspily, one of his hands tangling itself in Jeonghan’s hair as he held Jeonghan’s head. “Stop blinking like that, your eyelashes are tickling my neck.”

Jeonghan laughed too, apologetically rubbing gently at Sehun’s neck with a finger, somehow feeling an urge to press a kiss at the spot. He hesitated, inching closer, and Sehun stilled when he felt Jeonghan’s soft breath fanning his neck right below his ear, his ear turning a deep red.

“Eomma! Appaaaaa! Wakey wakey~!” Both of them were startled by the cheery shout from the doorway, looking over to see Kai with Mingyu, the two kids hopping into the room still in their pajamas. “Wake up, wake UP!”

“Ughhh,” Sehun groaned and fell back onto the bed. Jeonghan craned his neck to glance at the clock, and gasped softly.

“Gosh, it’s already almost eight, the kids must be starving,” he whispered to Sehun, gently peeling his own blankets away to get off the bed, surprised only to be tugged back into Sehun’s arms.

“Five more minutes,” Sehun grumbled, pulling Jeonghan close again into a hug. Jeonghan chuckled softly.

“Fine, you can come later, now let me go,” he laughed, patting Sehun’s bicep in an indication.

“You take five too,” Sehun ordered, refusing to budge, instead burrowing into Jeonghan’s chest.

“Look at you, big baby,” Jeonghan smiled indulgently, rubbing Sehun’s head and looking helplessly at the waiting kids. “Why don’t you guys try waking up this big baby?”

“Appa, appa!” Mingyu yelled, clamoring onto the bed and jumping on Sehun’s body so he was straddling the big man’s hip, tugging at the sheets. “Appa, wake up!”
Sehun turned his head on Jeonghan’s chest so he could open one sleepy eye to peep at the troublemaker sitting on him.

“Why should I? Give me an incentive,” he grumbled, snuggling back into Jeonghan.

“Whassat?” Mingyu asked, puzzled. “Should I go get it? Is it in the kitchen?”

“No, darling, he means he needs a reward,” Jeonghan laughed. “He wants to know what you’ll give him if he wakes up.”

“Oh,” Mingyu frowned, thinking hard. “I could...I could give you...my Lightsaber? No, but I really like it. How about...my old boots? They’re still nice, I just don’t like how pink they are, but they’re nice.”

Sehun pulled the sheets back over his head in answer.

Kai clambered onto Jeonghan’s lap, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes cutely. “No, silly, your boots wouldn’t fit Appa,” he reasoned. Mingyu looked lost.

Jeonghan gestured to Mingyu, pointing to his lips and then at his own cheek, then finally at the blanketed head on his chest. Mingyu squinted in thought for a while before he got it, cackling and grabbing the sheets on Sehun’s head and pulling it off in one go, planting a loud smack on Sehun’s cheek.

“How’s that for a centitive?” he giggled, jumping up and down, and Sehun sat up, startling everyone with the sudden move, trapping a laughing Mingyu in his arms.

“That’s more than perfect,” he roared, hauling Mingyu over his shoulder and standing up, walking out of the room with Mingyu’s legs kicking against him in glee. Jeonghan smiled and followed, ushering Kai to his room to brush as he went and did the same.

As he put toothpaste on his brush with a gentle smile that seemed like it might never come off his face, he looked up and caught sight of his still red ears, his mind wandering to earlier that morning, and he found himself brushing harder, trying not to think about it, but his smile grew wider.