"Do you want to top bunk or the bottom bunk?" Rowoon asks as he and Chani climb up the stairs.
"Top." Chani says quietly; Rowoon feels so giddy around the new baby of the family, but he's been strictly instructed by their hyungs to let Chani be, and to stay calm around him so Chani can adjust well to the new surroundings. "Is that okay?"
"Yeah, it's fine!" Rowoon slowly opens the door to the smallest room in the house that he'd been occupying for a while. He had made sure to clean up a bit before Chani has officially moved into the room, so everything is neat and orderly when they both walk in. "We have our own bathroom over by that back wall." Rowoon points before flopping onto the lower bunk where he usually sleeps.
Chani quietly waddles in, taking cautious steps as he looks around his room. "It smells...like almonds." He says softly, peeking at different pieces of furniture and photos tacked on the wall.
Rowoon laughs. "Oh, I think it's the scent of the floor cleaner. Is it too strong?"
"No." Chani hums, peeking at the two wooden desks set up by a window. "It smells nice."
"That's good." Rowoon sighs in relief. "Do you want to shower before bed?"
As he finishes walking around the smaller of the rooms, trying to adjust to his new surroundings, Chani shakes his head. "I just want to go to sleep."
"That's fine too." Rowoon can't help but find the younger boy so adorable; it makes his heart squeeze, wanting to pour out all of his affection for Chani. "Youngbin-hyung left some of his old clothes for you to sleep in before you go shopping with the others for new ones." He watches Chani stand there for a minute before standing up and stretching. "You can change out here. I'll go shower while you settle in."
Grateful for the privacy, Chani waits until Rowoon is behind the closed door and the water turns on before Chani sheds his shirt and pants. No matter how wonderful and welcoming his new hyungs are...he still doesn't want to show off the deep wounds and scars all over his body, mangling his skin like Chani is some kind of monster.
Rowoon is glad to see Chani fast asleep once he’s back from the shower. With fresh pajamas, he peeks on the top bunk just to make sure the youngest wolf is breathing. Hearing his slow even breaths helps put him at ease and he eventually crawls in the bottom bunk to sleep.
It’s not until a few hours pass before Rowoon awakes with a start; he can hear faint whimpers of distress above him, and he’s up on his toes instantly. His head reels just a bit from the vertigo, but eventually he’s climbed a few rungs on the ladder to get a closer look at the baby. “Chani? You alright?” His body is on full alert, the hairs on his arms standing straight up.
Hearing his hyung’s voice, Chani opens his eyes, finding Rowoon in the dark and whimpering at the sight. There’s a look of fear there, a gaze that nearly doesn’t recognize Rowoon, just seeing a large dark form hovering over his head. He scoots back just a little, eyes glassy and wide.
“It’s alright, Chani. It’s me, Rowoon.” He says calmly, trying not to look so intimidating. “Are you okay? You were crying…” Rowoon feels his heart squeeze at the sound. Youngbin never went into detail about Chani’s past...but even the other wolves could tell it isn’t anything good.
After a moment of taking in his surroundings, realizing he’s not back home, safe in a house full of wolves, he exhales deeply. “O-oh...sorry.” His voice is dry and hoarse, and it pains Rowoon to hear it. “I didn’t mean to wake you up.”
Rowoon sighs, head drooping down once his initial fear dissipates. The hairs on his arms aren’t standing up anymore, and his heartbeat slows by the second. He is filled with relief. “Oh don’t worry Chani. I’m just happy you’re alright.” He looks back up, a tired but goofy smile on his lips. “You want some water?” He asks, reaching over and ruffling the dark, fluffy hair.
“Y-yes please.” Chani says, a hint of his smile echoing in his words. “Thank you.” He scoots closer now that he realizes he’s not in any danger. Rowoon is there to watch over him, the other wolves not too far away either.
“You’re our family now, Chani.” Rowoon says softly, pulling his hand away. He then climbs down the rest of the ladder to head downstairs. “We’re going to take good care of you now.”
And he means every word of it.
On the third night of sharing the same room, Chani’s cries get worse. He shakes the bed, rolling from side to side as if he’s trying to run from something chasing him in his mind. Rowoon is more on edge, half expecting something to happen again. But the severity is different this time.
“Chani, Chani-yah, it’s okay.” Rowoon tries holding the younger boy still, carefully not to hurt him. But seeing Chani in such distress hurts more knowing there’s not much he can do to help besides comforting him. “It’s me, Rowoon, your hyung.”
“N-noona…” Chani whimpers, shivering and shaking. “Noona, d-don’t go...p-please…” But before Rowoon can do much else, the door opens and Youngbin nearly flies in.
“Move.” He says to Rowoon quietly, waiting for the taller boy to scramble down the ladder. Youngbin then climbs up to Chani, pulling his head into his lap. He leans down, letting Chani pick up on his scent. Then he uses his teeth to gently nibble on a soft spot on Chani’s neck; within seconds, Chani stops moving, out like a light.
Youngbin watches him for just a few seconds to make sure he’s totally unconscious before easing his head back on the pillow. With a heavy sigh, he climbs back down and plops heavily on the bottom bunk. He motions for Rowoon to sit next to him, the taller boy still shaken up.
“Hyung.” Rowoon says after a while, wringing his hands, watching his knuckles turn white. “Chani...he’s not okay...is he?”
“Of course not.” Youngbin huffs, dropping his head in his hands. “He...went through a lot. It will probably be a while before he’ll forget all about his childhood.”
Rowoon scoots closer to his alpha; the scent of his alpha helps him relax. “What can I do? I feel...powerless.”
Youngbin doesn’t answer for a while; sometimes he doesn’t have all the answers. It pains him when his pack needs him to be there, but Youngbin isn’t much older than the others. “He seemed to be okay after a few nights sleeping with me and Juho.” He muses. “Maybe...he feels...alone.”
“I can sleep with him.” Rowoon suggests. “The bottom bunk is bigger anyway...it’s enough for two of us to fit.” He turns to his hyung, eyes shining with hope. “D-do you think that will help?”
“We can only try.” Youngbin says. His ears perk up a little later, hearing stirring from the downstairs. “Juho knows I’m not there.” He stands up, quietly stretching his limbs, yawning soon after. “He’ll be okay tonight. I made sure he won’t wake up for a while.” He looks to Rowoon and smiles. “You’re a good hyung, Rowoonie. It will take some time for Chani to get used to us.”
“I know.” Rowoon offers a weak smile back. “I wish I could make all of his pain go away in an instant.”
Youngbin quietly, slowly, heads to the door. “It’s going to take time for all of us to recover. Don’t pretend like your neck doesn’t ache anymore.”
Rowoon laughs sheepishly. “It’s not that bad.”
“Take care of Chani.” Youngbin says before he’s gone, heading downstairs to settle the worries of his mate. Rowoon doesn’t get much sleep that night; he busies himself watching Chani, making sure he sleeps through the night.
“Is that...okay?” Chani asks, cheeks red with a twinge of embarrassment. He feels more like a child when he falls asleep with the other wolves. He wants to be strong on his own...but his hyungs know his nightmares haunt him more and more each passing night.
“Of course. You’re my precious little brother.” Rowoon smiles, brushing his hair back with his hands, sliding a fluffy headband to keep his bangs away from his face. “You slept with our alpha. I hope I can help you the same.”
Though embarrassed, Chani does eventually make his way over to the lower bunk. He’s fresh from the shower, wearing one of Youngbin’s shirts and a pair of shorts. Rowoon doesn’t scare him at all (he smells rather comforting) but it’s still embarrassing that he can’t sleep alone. “Thank you, hyung.”
Rowoon pretends that being called ‘hyung’ by Chani doesn’t make him want to howl in joy on the rooftop. He’s thankful Chani doesn’t pick up on his quickened heartbeat. Eventually he flops down on the bed, scooting to the wall and stretching his legs to the edge of the bed. Chani eyes him carefully, but he eventually lays down slowly.
With his back to Rowoon, he finds that he’s not really nervous at all. Hanging around new people isn’t something Chani is normally comfortable with, but perhaps being a wolf and being with his pack makes all of those fears dissipate. It’s why he scoots back, it’s why when Rowoon’s arms wrap around him, Chani soaks into the warmth.
Chani didn’t think he had been particularly sleepy that day, but he distinctly remembers he had fallen asleep instantly. Rowoon’s soft snuggles had chased his bad dreams away.
One night Chani sneaks back up to his top bunk. Rowoon thankfully doesn’t notice, especially since Chani shoved his pillow in the taller boy’s arms to fool him for just a little while.
He wants to be strong; he can’t deny the urge to grow up and get over his fears. It’s been a month since Youngbin saved him. Chani wants to say he’s not weak to the dangers of his mind.
So he tries to fall asleep in his own bed this time, and Chani thinks he’s done well for the first few hours. But he wakes up with a start in the middle of the night, a scream on the tip of his tongue. There are demons hiding behind his eyelids.
But he doesn’t manage to wake up Rowoon (Chani thanks his lucky stars he didn’t inconvenience his hyung again). His clothes stick to his skin with sticky sweat, so he wills himself to shower away the fear, shower away the memories that keep him from sleeping peacefully.
He has ran out of clean clothes from Youngbin, so he peeks into Rowoon’s closet for something to wear. His shirts are comically large on Chani’s body, but they will do. It’s still better than anything he could have asked for. And thankfully Rowoon’s boxers are small enough to cling to his hips.
Chani slowly crawls alongside Rowoon, and the older wolf doesn’t hesitate to wrap his arms around Chani again. It’s amazing how tight his grasp is despite being in a deep sleep. Chani giggles a bit at the feeling, his back pressed warmly against his hyung.
It feels comforting. It feels warm. It feels safe.
It feels like home.