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Their Baby

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Jidwi isn’t sure he’ll ever feel like he’s not running. Despite living in the same city for two years now, he constantly feels as if there’s something just around the corner, ready to rear its destructive head into his life, and force him to up and run again. But there’s nothing. He knows this and yet he can’t help but feel like it. He’s spent his entire life running away from things both beyond his control and in his control and sometimes he feels like he can’t tell the difference.

It’s always at night that the urge to stay comes along. Two years of sitting in the small darkened room, dull lamp always on, telling himself that finally, he could have a place to call home, that this was his home. That the grainy beige walls of his apartment, decorated with trinkets and colorful pom pom string lights, were his , all his, and that was his home. He’d spent the last two years here, comfortable, managing very well on his own. Despite the bags under his eyes, and the job he worked so hard for only to actually hate, trying to prove himself to everybody in some sense of self-satisfaction, he was totally fine. It was his life, after all, and this city could definitely be his home. It’s not like he remembers what his real home had been like, anyway. 

But, as he feels his eyes open in weary confusion, bewildered that he’d fallen asleep yet again, he immediately felt that familiar pang of panic to run. This . . . was not his home. 

No. This . . . was anything but. 

His eyes focus on the mobile above him, glittery little clouds twinkling under the morning sun that peers through the curtains. The mobile didn’t always have glitter; the woman who called herself eomma added it. “I know you like pretty things” she’d told him, and he’d just huffed at her, knowing full well he was too weak to move from where she sat with him on the floor, covering the clouds in glue gently with a paintbrush to add the misty white glitter. It’s meant to be soothing, but all it does is aggravate him further, the anxiety in his stomach twisting his mood from panicked to enraged. He’s going to smash that mobile. If it’s the last thing he does, he’s going to rip it apart, and--

The quiet click of the door stops him right as he reaches up, hand freezing mid-air. He peers through the bars of his crib and, oh no , why did it have to be him --

“You woke up all by yourself today, huh?” 

The deep voice is gentle and calm, as usual, but Jidwi can never really pinpoint whether it’s soothing or monotonous to him. He never has much to his expression, poker face damn near perfect, and it does too many things to Jidwi. It pisses him off, it scares him, it makes him want to push and push for a reaction, but he’s never gotten the chance yet to push too far. He’s tried, with his cursing and his threats and a couple of hits he’s gotten in over the last couple of weeks, but the man before him was never really phased. He reminds Jidwi of the type of guys that rubbed him the wrong way at work, made him grit his teeth because otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to hold his tongue. He can barely hold his tongue now.

“Are you hungry? We’ll go downstairs to see eomma, since she’s going to be home all day today. Won’t that be nice?” He asks rhetorically, not expecting an answer as he reaches to lower the bars of the wooden prison Jidwi’s been sleeping in. But Jidwi being himself, gives him one.

“Fuckin’ peachy,”

The man stops, lazily looking straight ahead right into Jidwi’s eyes, and he can feel a chill go up his spine. Good. His face is less soft now, a little flat, but Jidwi can tell that what he had said has sparked some sort of reaction in the man’s head. 

“Baby, you know we don’t like that kind of language.” 

Jidwi glares straight ahead offended that he even has the nerve to try and scold him. That makes him feel worse and he doesn’t like it. He doesn’t like him . “I don’t care. Freak.”

The man sighs smally and lowers the bars anyway, attempting to manhandle Jidwi into his arms. If it weren’t for the adrenaline pumping through his veins from the fact he’d woken up pissed off and ready to swing, he might not have the energy to fight the crushing grip. He cringes when the man places a hand towards his crotch, and Jidwi knows exactly what he’s doing. Checking to see if he’s wet. God, he hates this so much. “No! Stop!” Jidwi swings his head back and knocks the man in the shoulder, but all it does is hurt his head and neck. He hisses in pain before he’s shifted sideways. 

 This man is strong , but  his grips aren’t violent or painful, just firm. Though Jidwi isn’t a stranger to martial arts, he can’t match him no matter how much he wants to beat the ever-loving fuck out of him. He’s too weak from lack of movement, from the emotions clouding his judgment, coming down from when they’d had his drugged for a few sleepy days. There’s no lack of real food, mostly veggies and fruits and soft foods like oatmeal, but he feels it’s definitely not enough for him either. He’s not hungry per se, but carrots and apple slices and rice pudding isn’t exactly calorie dense. But . . at least they feed him, right? He doesn’t know what sedative or drug or whatever it is they gave him but he knows that it wasn’t going to hurt him, either. The two kidnappers seem keen on keeping everything natural and holistic in the house as far as he can tell, and they haven’t physically harmed him--yet. He’s not sure if they want to or not, but he holds his breath anyway. He knows every time he acts out, it’s a strike in their book, and sooner or later they’re going to get tired of it. Of him. 

“You know what Appa thinks?” The man wrestles him into his hold, and sits there for a moment trying to adjust him. “Appa thinks you’re cranky, you’re tired and hungry. You’ll feel better once you eat something. Promise.”

God, if Jidwi hears the man refer to himself as Appa one more time, he’s going to rip his hair out. Or better yet, he’ll rip his hair out, and maybe then they’ll do something with him. 

“I’ll feel better if you let me go , or kill me--whichever one you decide you’re going to do.”

There’s quiet for a moment and Jidwi thinks that he’s won a small battle, but the man (not Appa, just The Man) just picks him up as swiftly as he can and begins the journey to the kitchen.  Fuck. He’s just going to ignore that? Jidwi isn’t having it, and grabs the ledge of the door frame as he walks out. His grip isn’t strong enough and his hand is pulled away.

“None of that. We’re going downstairs now.”

“Fuck you, too.”

The man stops at the top of the stairs and for a moment Jidwi is almost expecting him to just throw him down the stairs. But he doesn’t, and his voice drops lower in pitch and tone as he speaks. “Baby, do you remember your pacifier? Do you think we need to start using your pacifier again?”

Jidwi almost gags at the memory of that; the pacifier they kept strapped around his head for a few days, to prevent him from talking. All it did was cause him to scream his throat raw from behind the gag, whenever he could. He’d screamed so hard once he thought his blood vessels would burst. He can’t get over the feeling of it and he decides he’s going to close his mouth for the new hour or so. He hated the pacifier, though it was the least humiliating thing they’d done to him since. 

“That’s what I thought,” the man whispers mostly to himself, but Jidwi hears it of course. He doesn’t respond, the threat of the pacifier gag sitting clearly in his mind. The next ten seconds are quiet before they reach the bright and spacious kitchen and Jidwi turns his head towards the next nightmare of his day. 

“Good morning, baby!”

Ew, he thinks to himself. The woman comes over to kiss his cheek good morning but he doesn’t fight it. He still hates her, but he hates her less than he hates the man, and so he doesn’t turn his head away when she kisses his cheek. He just grimaces and waits for it to be over. 

“Are you hungry? Eomma made some oatmeal and berries for you, if you’d like,” she’s stroking his hair now, and he really wants to smack her hands away. But last time he did that, he was strapped into his high chair for the remainder of the morning, and he doesn’t think he can last another session of that kind of humiliation. The chair feels weird and it’s not very comfortable and he feels stupid in it. He hates being restrained, and right now he’s too tired to fight them both. 

The man takes his quiet and complacent behavior as an agreement and transfers him over to the chair, locking the tray in front of him, and Jidwi grips it tightly with both hands. It’s the only thing he can seem to wrestle with that won’t break and neither of them scold him for it. So, he squeezes it until he feels his fingers might break, and it’s going to be his coping mechanism for the morning. Squeeze, breathe, release, repeat. That’s how he’ll get through another morning in their sick fantasy land. Freaks. Weirdos. 

Jidwi watches her shuffle back to the stove, pouring some of the oatmeal into a colorful plastic bowl, mixing the berries on top while the man starts pouring himself a cup of coffee. He drinks it literally black, hot as can be from the pot, and Jidwi thinks that sums up a lot of his personality. The woman places the pot back on the stove and shut if off. He stiffens. She’s going to feed him he knows, and he doesn’t know if he can handle that right now. He can’t take this anymore. He just needs it to stop! 

“Here we go. Open wide fo”-- 

She doesn’t finish her sentence, Jidwi smacking the bowl clean out of her hands, jaw clenched shut. Her eyes bug out of her head for just a second in pure shock and Jidwi almost laughs. The man makes a move to get up form where he’s sat down at the table but she holds up a hand and he immediately sits back down. She furrows her brows at him now, face hard as stone. “That wasn’t very nice. Was it?”

No, Jidwi thinks, it wasn’t nice but it was perfect. But he sits there in silence, just glaring at her anyway. “Do you think what you just did was acceptable?” she asks again. Jidwi isn’t going to answer her. She knows this, and he knows she knows this. She picks up the bowl and grabs a paper towel to clean the floor off. The man is still watching them with his boring face and Jidwi shoots him a look.

“I think that someone needs a time-out already.”

This sets him off. He doesn’t want to be locked in the high chair, or crushed into the embrace of Appa’s stupid lap, and for a minute his brain short-circuits and he pounds on the high-chair’s tray. “ Fuck you ! Let me out! Let me out of this chai”--

He can barely finish his rant because something is being shoved into his mouth, and how the fuck did he not see the man get up from the table and retrieve one of thos stupid pacifiers!? He’s supposed to keep his eyes open! He grabs the strap as the man straps it behind his head, but Stupid Eomma grasps his hands in hers and christ she’s actually really strong and he finally loses it. 

Tears of fury and frustration pricks at the corner of his eyes and he’s seeing nothing but red as he tries to break for her grip, kicking his legs so hard he’s afraid he’s going to kick over the entire chair. He can’t do this anymore, he can’t take this--

He hyperventilates through his nose, and it’s only then that the strap is undone and the pacifier is just about ripped from out of his mouth. He gasps for air and hiccups, his hands free to do as he pleases, and he uses them to hide his face in mortification as the tears finally leak from his eyes. God, he’s so pathetic, he thinks to himself. Crying in front of his captors. Like a baby. Just like they want him to, he probably notes. 

He sobs for a few moments before someone (probably the man?) is rubbing circles into his upper back, a small hush rumbling from his chest. Now he feels really stupid. From fighting them to literally allowing them to comfort him as he cries his eyes out, he really doesn’t know how much lower he can sink. His breath hitches when he feels one of them kiss the crown of his head. They both smell like spice, sugary and sweet, homey, like autumn seasons. 

“You’re okay,” the woman--Eomma--whispers. “You’re okay, sweet boy. You’re doing just fine. Just keep breathing, can you do that?”

He can do that. He just doesn’t want to. He wants to break the tray and throw it at her and tear the clean and colorful kitchen apart. But he doesn’t, because he knows that means he probably won’t be allowed a second chance. Will they gag him? Will they strap him down? Will they hurt him? 

He breathes in and out anyway, breathing in the scent of their home. He was never going to stop running now.

Chapter Text

Park Banryu was special.

 

Kim Suho knew this.

 

He knew Banryu was special ever since he laid eyes on him in college and made time to try and get to know him just a tad bit better. He knew he was his special little boy. His special, mean, little boy. He knew that he himself could give Banryu the love and care that he needed, the guidance he seeked, because he knew just how Banryu was. And Banryu was, to be quite frank, utterly unbelievable. 

Banryu was unlike any other little he’d ever met. His crying was silent and angry, with a shimmer of guilt or shame behind it, and he always locked his jaw when Suho asked him to “use your words so daddy can make it better” because he was a private person and Suho never pushed him on that. He knew that Banryu wanted to punch him sometimes, and most caregivers he met were terrified of that possibility. “Don’t you feel like he hates you?” they would ask and Suho would laugh. Of course, Banryu probably did for a while at the beginning, and sometimes he probably doesn’t like him. Suho doesn’t mind, because Banryu is his baby . He didn’t let it get in the way of him caring for him. Banryu was brash, spiteful and mean, and he did it on purpose sometimes just to push buttons. He was certainly sly and quick-witted but Suho always made sure to seem like he was two steps ahead. Even if he wasn’t. He had to make Banryu think that he was, even if he admitted that Banryu was probably actually the one several steps ahead of him. They evened each other out like that. 

Banryu also threw the mother of all tantrums. Suho remembered the first night he’d woken up and broke a bar off the crib just to swing at him with. He’d heard of littles breaking things, trashing things, but sword fighting? Banryu had the upper hand that night. Even the drugs Ahro had gifted him as a welcoming home present weren’t as strong on him as they claimed. Banryu was truly a masterpiece. Suho remembers having to call Moomyung over just so he could cry over some coffee and explain to him what had happened. So he’s not surprised they haven’t been invited over since Jidwi’s arrival, until this weekend.

But he loved Banryu, with his heart and soul, no matter how many times Banryu would act out, and so that meant socializing him even if he was terrified of the results. He wanted Banryu to have a playdate, to make friends, to not pour apple juice down his shirt in the middle of the supermarket, to be happy. He really did.

Breaking the news to him could go either way. He would tell him “we’re going to see your new cousin” or “let’s go visit Aunt Ahro” because Banryu really did like Ahro more than anyone. He would sit him down and explain the playdate. If Banryu was having a good day, that would be even better. Maybe he would even be excited to welcome Jidwi into their community, into their odd little family. That would be too cute. Suho can’t help but think of all the cute things they could do together as cousins now, before he’s even sat down to talk to Banryu.

“Pumpkin?” Suho calls for Banryu, who he knows is currently in the nursery for play time. He’s playing with one of the many puzzles Suho’s had to buy for him to keep him from getting bored, because his little guy was a genius

Banryu doesn’t answer him, but he knows that Suho is standing right there and he acknowledges him by looking up at him briefly before returning to his puzzle. Suho accepts that. He squats down to Banryu’s height and clears his throat. “Could you please look at me when I’m talking to you? I’d like to have a conversation.”

Banryu puts down his puzzle and looks up at him, hair cascading around his face. It’s getting a bit long, shoulder length, but he won’t let Suho cut it. Suho had to settle on getting him hair scrunchies because damn that’s adorable, and Banryu is currently reaching for his scrunchie right now. “Can Daddy do your hair while he talks to you?”

“Then you wouldn’t be looking at me.”

“That’s true. I didn’t think of that. Can I do it anyway?”

Banryu seems to think hard for a moment before uttering a small “okay” and Suho pulls him to sit in between his legs, gliding his fingers through the thick, silky hair. He starts to braid it, something he had to learn from Ahro just for Banryu. “You know that Aunt Ahro and Uncle Moomyung have a new baby, right? One just like you?”

“Yeah, but I’m not a baby.”

“Right, sorry. You remember how I said we would visit them one day?”

“Are we going to?” Banryu yanks his head away from Suho’s hands and looks back at him. He doesn’t seem to be disappointed but he’s not exactly jumping for joy. There’s caution in his face and Suho smiles gently and nods.

“Would you like to? They asked if you wanted to have a playdate with your new cousin. You could show him how to be a good boy, show him your new dolls, show him how wonderful our little family is, huh?”

Banryu crosses his arms, and seems to think about it. He’s quiet while Suho guides his head back to his chest and begins to braid his hair again. He doesn’t mind if Banryu takes his time, he’s never going to press him for an answer. And if he says no, then he respects that as well. But he really, really hopes that Banryu says--

“What if he’s boring? What if he doesn’t want to talk to me or play with me? Isn’t he new?”

“Hmm, well, that’s a possibility to consider,” Suho finishes the braid and kisses the top of Banryu’s head. “He may not want to, he may be overwhelmed. And that’s okay. But showing up and showing your support is important, Ryu.”

“That sounds like you made it up,”

“You can think about it. It’s been a few months since, everything is probably still really new to him. Take as much time as you want.”

Banryu nods at that and briefly crawls away from Suho now that his braid is done, clamping his mouth shut with a pout. Oh no. Something’s up. Suho opens his mouth to ask him if he’s alright when Banryu grabs his blanket and interrupts him. “Is that all you wanted to talk about?”

“That was our big conversation, yes. Would you like me to play with you?” Suho asks, noticing the puzzles and blocks left discarded on the mat. 

“No,” Banryu says simply, “you’re not good at blocks.”

“Oh.”

“But you can watch Nutcracker with me later.”

Suho snorts before biting the inside of his cheeks, reminding himself that that kind of behavior wasn’t funny, nor tolerable. “Banryu; if I allow you to watch Nutcracker. Is that clear? You always have a say in who you want to play with, but you don’t have a say over”--

“Fine”--

“Don’t interrupt me when I’m speaking. It’s very rude.” Suho’s voice is hard now and he tries not to frown. Banryu glares at him but it’s non-threatening. It’s just one of his bratty habits Suho can’t seem to rid him of. “Please don’t give me that look either.”

“I’m not; that’s my face .”

Suho sighs.

Chapter Text

 

After Jidwi’s panic attack, Moomyung is convinced that things from here on out can only escalate two ways. Better or worse. After calming their baby down, Moomyung immediately whisked him off to the living room to nap on his play mat, music box playing gently in the background while he lay there, knocked out, surrounded by stuffed animals. It was cute, but it also made him a little sad. He really did love Jidwi. He really did want him to be happy. But so far, he’d been stubborn to the point of nearly breaking, and he wasn’t sure what to do about that. 

But Ahro knew. Boy, did she know a lot it seemed. She knew more about him on how to soothe Jidwi, what he liked, what he didn’t, and it wasn’t because he wasn’t keeping his eyes peeled for things like that but because she was clever . She was his cunning, intelligent and comprehensive little lady. So naturally, he would have to discuss this with her. Thank god she’d been home today. 

“Is he down?” Ahro whisper hisses from the other side of the kitchen and Moomyung nods, watching the sleeping figure in the living room. He doesn’t want to move from where the living room and the kitchen connect, so he waits until she comes over to him. “He’s so cute.”

“He is. But so headstrong.”

“Tell me about it. I really thought he was going to do a lot worse than that. In fact, it’s odd really . . . I’ve been expecting more from him.”

Moomyung lifts an eyebrow at this. “What do you mean?”

“There’s times where he’s so quiet and lenient and then he just seems to lose control. I don’t think most of it is planned. I expected . . . him to be planning more.”

“He doesn’t seem like one to plan things out, remember?” Moomyung gives a gentle snort and Ahro nods in a defeated way. Of course she remembers. They’d been watching Jidwi for a while, watching him circle around the drain of his own life unsure of how to live it. His behavior . . . was predictable to say the least. 

“I’m not sure what to do or say when he wakes up.”

Ahro hums at her husband’s confession and rests a hand on his arm. “It’s alright. Don’t think about every little detail, just be what he needs right now. Loving, caring, supportive. You need to be, like, a rock . . .”

“His rock?”

“No, like a literal rock. Be there for him, like a rock, but don’t let him punch you too much. Like that kind of rock,”

Moomyung only lets himself laugh when he sees that she’s trying to be completely serious and covers his mouth as to not wake their little. Gosh. She really had such a way with managing to find the words he needed to hear but entertaining him at the same time. He wouldn’t admit the last part. 

“Just, when he wakes up, try and give him some space. Let him come to you, if he wants to. If not, he’s got his books and his toys. We’ll see how he is. I think he’s really just burning out and needs to rest; emotionally, not physically. We need him to be a little more physically active, honestly. It’d be so nice to get him out of the house for once! But he’s so aggressive.”

Moomyung hums in agreement. 

“I really think that starting a behavior chart will be good, too. Not for a while, he would probably trash it, but it’s a good system to have.”

“What about everything else? It stays the same?” He leans in to ask her now, just in case Jidwi was stirring. He doesn’t want him to risk hearing any of this. 

“Yes. If we don’t stay strict, we could lose any progress we’ve made and will make.”

“Alright,” Moomyung nods and takes a step towards the living room. “I’ll stay here with him. I feel like I need to be around him a little more. He seems to like you better than he does me.”

“I think that you should. He definitely does; who wouldn’t?” She sounds cocky now, but Moomyung is glad that at least Jidwi seems to be sparing Ahro most of his rage. Jidwi is angry now but he's got a lot of emotions they're going to have to work through. But he's glad that eventually they'll do that, together. 

 

Chapter Text

Jidwi wakes up how he fell asleep; on his back, on the stupid colorful mat they got him, with Eomma stroking his hair and telling him a story. But he’s only half-awake and blissed out on the feeling of actually getting sleep so he’s not trying to fight her right now. For some reason that he’s too afraid of admitting, his insomnia is damn near treatable since being brought here. Her voice lulls him to sleep with it’s gentle tone and vibrating waves and her stories imprint more pleasant dreams on his mind. He’s no longer waking up every night confused, covered in sweat, or forcing himself to open his eyes from one of the nightmares that lurk around in the back of his brain. He’s not cured, of course he isn’t that would be silly, but it helps so much that he almost feels grateful towards her. Almost. 

He listens to her voice a bit more, telling the part where the girl in the story discovers she’s a princess, listening to her exclaim the dialogue in drawn out whispers. Maybe, this is what ASMR feels like, but there’s no crunching a weird breathy sounds that he hates. This is gentler and suits his style much more. He likes this. 

He decides it’s time to face the music, opening his eyes slowly, squinting at the brightly lit living room. God, his head hurts, he feels fuzzy and . . . ew, he needs to pee. Maybe if he just holds it long enough, he’ll get some sort of infection, and they’ll let their guards down. Maybe they’ll take him to a doctor or hospital and he can finally slip out of their sight just long enough to get help. Maybe. This idea soothes him over and he internally nods to himself. Yes, he would do that. 

Eomma’s face is peering down at him, her sparkly golden eyes squinting as she smiles. She’s still telling the story. He appreciates that tremendously, as he’s finally still thinking to himself about his escape plan.

“Is my prince awake now?”

Prince. He snaps out of his own thoughts at that. He . . . doesn’t mind it all that much. They’ve been calling him things like baby and angel and honey and sweetheart and god knows what else he’s forgotten while in and out of consciousness, but this one he doesn’t mind as much. It’s more subtle. Makes him almost forget where he is and what’s going on. 

“Is he up?”

Speak of the devil, Jidwi cringes when he hears his voice. Appa. Dumb strong man. He wants to throw him out the window for interrupting his peaceful awakening. Now, he’s going to have to deal with them two-teaming him together, and there’s no way he’s going to fall back asleep for a long while. But he’s no longer feeling panicky and aggressive, just drained. Maybe, just maybe, if he’s relaxed and lets them do whatever dumb baby stuff they wanna do with him today, they’ll leave him be. Go easy on him perhaps. He hasn’t really considered that an option up until now, too bemused and terrified of what he was actually doing there. Now, he knows. 

“He’s awake. Peaceful, right now,” Eomma softly speaks about him like he’s not there. He doesn’t like that. “You need to get up now, or you’re not going to be able to sleep tonight.”

Funny, he thinks. He won't be able to sleep tonight anyway. But he doesn’t say a thing, just stares up at the ceiling. This is nice. His brain is quiet and calm, no racing thoughts anymore. Had they given him something? Drugged him again? No, he would’ve felt it if they had . . . 

“Do you think he’s hungry?” Appa (the man, Jidwi, the man) asks and Jidwi finds himself asking if he is. He peers up to where Appa stands, bottle in hand, towel thrown over his shoulder. If Jidwi wasn’t in this predicament, he would appreciate how House Husband he looked. But he sees the bottle, a chic glass type with a wide silicone nipple, and he feels his stomach sink in disappointment. No. He hates the feedings. They’re bad enough when he’s not really awake, or drugged, but to consciously have to be bottle feed from one of his captors sound of mind? He doesn’t think he can really control himself.  He is hungry but he also really needs to pee and if he drinks that it’ll make it so much worse. But, he’s going to try his best not to piss himself. 

“Hey, baby, do you want your bottle? You haven’t had anything since last night, you’re probably hungry,” Eomma suggests in a sing-song voice and Jidwi flinches when she rubs his stomach. He doesn’t answer, trying to push her hands away as gently as he can. He doesn’t want a repeat of this morning. “I’ll feed him,”

No

 

Be smart, he tells himself. Maybe he can play along, and feed himself. He wouldn’t mind that as much. But to do that, he’s going to have to play the part and he knows how difficult that’s going to be for him. 

Here goes nothing.

He whines at the back of his throat when she tries to pull him closer, grabbing at the bottle. He can do it himself, he wants her to know. She holds his hand for a moment, bringing it to her lips, pressing soft kisses to the back of his hand. “It’s okay, I’ll feed you.”

He decides to test the waters now. “I can do it . . . myself.”

The two of them exchange looks, but neither of them make any dramatic movements. She just smiles again. “No, baby, you can’t hold your own bottle yet. It’s a little too heavy for you.”

What is he, useless? Maybe if the bottle wasn’t thick glass, it wouldn’t be so heavy! He doesn’t yell that and settles on a huff and a pout. He’s a little offended but more disappointed that his plan didn’t work. But he’s not going to give up. 

“I wanna do it myself,” he makes another grab for the bottle but Eomma grabs his wrist now and looks down at him, smile long gone. 

“No means no. Do you understand that?”

He bites down on his cheek, wanting to rip his wrist out of her grip. She’s not holding him that hard. 

“I asked if you understand, young man.”

There it is! Young man; the one thing they call him when he really fucks up. He gives one forceful nod and Eomma decides that that’s apparently enough for her, because she lets go of him and just tries to scoot closer. He winces when her hands brush by his lower abdomen, his bladder screaming at him with urgency. He tells himself to focus, to hold it and allows her to pull him to sit up against her, holding the bottle in front of him. 

“I know everything is very new and scary for you, baby,” her voice has less frost to it now; it’s warm and deep and soothing, “but you need to learn that we know what’s best for you. Okay, sweet boy?”

He opens his mouth to tell her no, she doesn’t know anything about him, but she pops the bottle in as soon as he does and damn , she’s slick. She runs her fingers through his messy hair, and tilts the bottle up. He has no choice but to suck on it now and he does so begrudgingly. He’s a little thrown off when the bottle isn’t the grainy, sweet formula he’s used to, but a thicker, velvety consistency. It’s sweet but not sickeningly so. Did they change what they were giving him? 

“Told you he would like the new flavor,” he barely registers her whisper, as it’s not meant for him to hear, but for Appa, who’s watching them with  . . . wonder, maybe. Fondness. Jidwi shoots him a glare but Appa just gives a small small and wiggles his fingers in a type of wave hello. Jidwi wants to flip him off. 

Eomma brushes his hair back with her hand now, and her hand is soft against his forehead. She kisses his temple and starts humming in his ear. Her voice isn’t unpleasant but he wishes she’d stop already. He hates being touchy-feely and he hates that his kidnapper is being touchy-feely. The touches feel warm against his chilly skin, almost foreign, and he decides that after trying-and failing-to find a focal point to avoid seeing either of them, it’s best to close his eyes. This was probably a mistake, because he can hear the small gasp coming from her, but he keeps his eyes closed. He can’t stand to look at either of them right now. He really needs to focus now because he’s afraid of what will happen if they discover how badly he needs to pee. In fact, he really shouldn’t drink the whole bottle if he needs to go this badly.

He pulls his head away from her and the bottle, and she lets him. “Are you done? You don’t want any more?”

He doesn’t answer her. But when he opens his eyes, he sees Appa coming over. 

“How about Appa reads to you while Eomma puts together your playpen, hm? Do you want your Elmo book?” The man goes to sit down next to him cross-legged and speaks to him in an almost excited tone. Oh gee, Elmo, Jidwi’s childhood nightmare. 

“That sounds fun! I’ll set up and Appa can read to you. Okay, baby?” She kisses his forehead before getting up, allowing him to lie back down. They both just giggle at him. He hates how they act like he’s a real baby, and that his reactions are cute or funny. He doesn’t want to be kissed, or held. He wants to be free

But no one can hear his thoughts, and he’s lifted up from underneath the armpits and pulled halfway into Appa--the man’s--lap, and he kicks out almost immediately trying not to lose control of himself. “Baby? What’s wrong?”

Jidwi just shakes his head, no courage left to speak. He can hear Appa (stop calling him Appa) sigh but he says nothing.

 He places the book in Jidwi’s lap and lets him look at the cover. “Look, see the bright rainbow on the cover? It’s pretty right? Just like you ,” the man whispers, and Jidwi notices this is the first time he sounds genuinely relaxed and happy. Jidwi wants to uppercut him right to the throat, but he doesn’t move. He just lies there against his chest, trying to force his bladder into shape and lets himself be read to. It’s not going to be a long book anyway, right?

He’s always wrong. 

‘Appa’ has to read the words on the page to him, clearly written in big bold letters, and then narrate the pictures, too, and it drives Jidwi wild. He sounds like it’s endearing to him, happy to have Jidwi close and compliant, but it just makes him hate the man even more. Reading to him like he’s too dumb to do it himself, like he’s a baby, who doesn’t understand anything. “See the sheep on the farm with Elmo? With the white fur? What do sheep say, baby?”

Jidwi wants to tell him that sheep say fuck off, but he bites his tongue, literally. The man laughs in his ear and goes “baa” and Jidwi decides he’s had enough. Having to piss is making him irritable again and he shifts about, pleasantly surprised to feel himself not being held down. That’s new. He squirms a bit, trying to find a position to clench his legs together that isn’t going to give him away.

“No more reading? You want to play with your other toys?” Eomma asks, smile on her face. She’s set up the safety pen around the mat and Jidwi has the urge to put his foot through it, to kick it over, but he has a feeling it’s stronger than it looks. Everything and everyone in this house is stronger than they look. “Here, you want your stuffed bunny? Or your fox? Come on,”

She coaxes him over and he decides, fuck it, as long as he’s away from Appa then it’ll do. He slides over to the mat again, and she sits down outside the mat. Oh. Was he supposed to be alone in this thing? He turns his head to see Appa also outside of it, now retiring to the couch after returning the books to the little bookshelf on the side of the living room. Well, this isn’t what he expected. He doesn’t . . . like this. What’s he even supposed to do with any of this stuff? 

Play. 

They want him to play. 

Jidwi sighs. He doesn’t want to engage with anything inside of the weird baby barrier they’ve set up for him. He just wants to get out of here, as fast as he can. He wants to pee in a normal toilet in a normal house. He wants to wear jeans again, not mickey mouse pajamas. He still hasn’t come up with a legible escape plan, because of how spontaneous the two of them seem to be. He’s heard them come check up on him in the middle of the night, and there are days where both of them are home. But usually, it’s Appa (the man, Jidwi, not Appa) watching him all hours of the day. Sometimes, he’s on his laptop or his phone doing what seems to be like working from home. Jidwi finds it suspicious those are the moments he’s either in his chair or his crib, so he can’t snatch away a phone or start screaming. He has yelled a couple times but Appa just laughs at him, plays it off like he really doesn’t know any better. 

Eomma has a job, he thinks, since he’s heard her once or twice speaking about “the clinic”. He doesn’t know if she’s a doctor or a nurse or even just an assistant, but she’s very adamant about missing days. She gets days off here and there (she’s been home only three times during the day he can remember) so he thinks that she probably has higher status around the work place. He also knows that she’s probably well trusted, since a clinic is probably the perfect place for access to for drugs. Had she stole them? Or maybe if she was a doctor . . . she’d written her own prescription, or simply took what she needed. That idea horrifies him. If she is a doctor, then he’s got to be very careful around her.

The sound of a phone going off makes him jump and fuck he squeezes his legs together shamelessly. Neither of them notice. Eomma pulls her phone out of her back pocket and sighs. “Work call. Can you watch him?”

“Of course,”

She hurries out of the room to answer the phone and Jidwi watches her go. He really wants to know what she does for a living. It’d be really helpful. He pauses for a moment when Appa comes over to him, to sit right outside his play area, and he kicks himself internally for not thinking about this. Of course he could ask. He was allowed to speak, wasn’t he?

For good measure, he grabs his stuffed bunny and folds the ears, attempting to at least pretend he’s doing something. The rabbit was cute, he’d give them that--white with soft fur, big black marble eyes, long ears and a pink velvety nose. The little bow around its neck almost seemed vintage, the pattern something he would find on a retired grandmother’s love seat. Focus, Jidwi! How should he go about this? He really hates that he’s going to have to call either of them by their chosen titles but if he wants to know, he’s got to play along. 

“Umm,” his voice comes out nervous and unsure and Appa looks at him.

“Yes?” 

Don’t be a coward now, he tells himself. This is important . “Eomma . . . doctor?” 

He can barely speak -gosh, he’s a mess, but it seems to work and Appa’s face almost lights up. Damn. Maybe he’s been stereotyping them, because the longer this goes on the more he’s realizing that Eomma is the strict one and Appa is actually really soft.

“You’re a smart boy, huh? Yes, Eomma is a doctor. She owns an entire clinic. You never have to worry about getting sick ever again, sweetheart.”

Well, fuck him. Not only is she a doctor . . . she owns an entire clinic? How old is she? How old are they? She seems too young to be a doctor in charge of an entire place -

Appa must see the panic he’s trying to hide because he goes to take Jidwi’s hand. “It’s okay, baby. Doctors aren’t scary, I promise.”

He goes to tickle Jidwi’s side and Jidwi freezes . He hates tickling, it’s absolutely hellish torture, and he really needs to pee and he will wet himself if it happens. He gives a shout when Appa does tickle him, kicking out, and oh no, shit, fuck -

He feels himself start to leak and he freezes, unsure of what to do. He’s wetting himself like a toddler and there’s nothing he can do . He tries to squeeze his legs together again to stop the flow but it doesn’t help and he hates them so much-

“Baby. Are you alright?” Appa reaches out for him and Jidwi slaps one of his hands away in anger and embarrassment. He doesn’t want him to know what he’s doing but it’s a little too late for that, he knows. After all, he’s wearing a diaper, so they would expect him to use it sooner or later, right? But he really wished it was later. Or never. “Honey, did you wet yourself? It’s okay. Give me one second and I’ll change you, it’s nothing to be upset about.”

Jidwi can feel the pressure building up behind his left eye, a migraine starting to form, and he kicks when Appa yet again tries to grab a hold of him. He’s been changed a few times while he’s been awake and every second of it was mortifying and terrifying. The upstairs changing table (that looks like a medieval torture device, he reasons) took both of them to wrestle him onto and strap him down and even then he still was able to punch Appa with a loose hand. He hates it and dit makes him feel physically ill when he remembers the experience. 

“Stop fussing. If I don’t change you, you’re going to get a rash.” 

Jidwi laughs despite the tears forming behind his eyes. “Good! I hope I get a rash and it kills me! I’d rather die than be here with the two of you fucking sick freaks!”

Appa rolls his eyes slightly and stands up, trying to grab Jidwi from the middle. Jidwi hits him with the stuffed rabbit as hard as he can but Appa easily wrenches it from his hold. “No! Don’t touch me!”

Eomma rushes in confused, probably hearing his screaming, and that only adds fuel to Jidwi’s fire. Having her here is only going to make matters worse for him. Appa has a grip on him now, hugging him to pin his arms to his side but Jidwi tries to twist his top half away from him, yelling with all the air in his lungs. “Let go, let go! Don’t you dare-- motherfucker !”

Appa’s voice is cold now. “Sammaekjong. Stop this now.”

Sammaekjong. The name stabs him in the gut, heaving anxiety right through his stomach and into his throat where he gasps. No. No absolutely not, he’s not having this.

“Don’t. Fucking! Call me that!” He hisses through gritted teeth, his voice caught between shrill and growling. 

“What happened?” Eomma is standing behind them now, clearly ignoring Jidwi in favor of Appa.

“He needs to be changed.”

“Ah,” there’s amusement in her voice, “should I get the changing pad?”

“No, there’s no way he’s going to calm down for that. I’ll take him upstairs,” 

“No you won’t! Let go of me!” Jidwi screams tries to kicks his legs, fight Appa as he traps them between his own. 

“Should I  . . . ?” Eomma sounds hesitant now and Jidwi is wondering just what she’s trying to ask. Are they going to drug him again? He can’t have that, not if he wants to find out more and eventually escape. The longer he’s here, the less chance he has. The longer he’s here, the longer it’ll take to get out from under their thumbs. He can’t go back now. 

“Yes.”

Jidwi stops lashing out at the sound of Appa’s voice, switching for now begging, feeling so intensely craven for it. “No, no, no, ple-please don’t drug me again, I’ll stop-just don’t”--

He’s cut off by something behind shoved into his mouth--oh. His pacifier. They’re not going to drug him again? Good. He strap is messily done behind his head, looping over one ear, but he doesn’t really mind. As long as it’s not anything that’s going to make him feel all spacey and floaty. He bites down on the rubber hard, trying to free his arms, but there’s not much else he can do now. Something tells him they’re going to be there for a while until he starts to calm down. That’s what they seem to do. Let him have the worst of his moments until he’s tired and then do whatever it is they’re planning to do. 

“Alright, little one, we have two options here,” Eomma crouches down in front of him and her voice isn’t as strict as it has been in the past. It’s a negotiation? “You can go upstairs with Appa and let him change you and then come back downstairs to play. Or you can keep carrying on, and get yourself punished. Which will it be?”

Punished? What is that supposed to mean? Sure, they’d put him in time outs before, but they’ve never phrased it like that. Was this supposed to be something worse? Was drugging a punishment? Were they going to strap him into the crib again? Were they going to hurt him? His breath hitches and his eyes dart between her and the stairs leading upstairs. He really didn’t want to be strapped down on that table and he didn’t want to be drugged again. But he wasn’t going to give up. He just glares at her. 

“Good boy. Okay, Appa, take him upstairs.”



Chapter Text

After Jidwi is strapped onto the table and changed, screaming profanities through his pacifier until his face is probably red, he’s left there for a few minutes to exhaust himself once again. It’s probably only been five minutes but it feels like a lot longer and before he knows it he’s breathing deeply and closing his eyes, trying to relax. He hears Appa come in again but he refuses to open his eyes.

“I know you’re not sleeping.”

I wasn’t pretending to, he thinks. He feels the straps loosen around his waist and his wrists and he lifts his head up, eyes snapping open. What is he doing? Appa lifts him up now, dressed in only his pajama shirt and diaper (yuck) and carries him over to the rocking chair in the corner. He sits down and isntead of pulling Jidwi onto his lap, he sits him forward to face him, Jidwi’s long legs on either side of him, straddling him. Jidwi doesn’t care for this at all and he grumbles behind his pacifier. Appa holds a finger to his lips before undoing the strap around his head and pulls the pacifier out of his mouth. Jidwi takes a deep breath through his mouth but says nothing. 

“We need to have a talk, okay? So please listen, and use your manners.”

Jidwi cocks his head to the side, confused as all hell, but just waits for him to get to the point. 

“Earlier during your tantrum, I used your name. Sammaekjong. You didn’t seem to like that. Am I right in assuming you do not?”

Jidwi’s eyes are blown wide in surprise. This . . . is what he wanted to talk about? There’s so much beginning to trickle through his thoughts here. How did he even know his old name? How did he find out? Why was he asking about it now? Was he going to stop using it if Jidwi told him to? He was his kidnapper, why did he seem to care so much about it?

“Please, baby, use your words. Appa needs to know.”

Jidwi isn’t sure what to say first, so he lets anything just tumble out of his mouth. “I hate it. Don’t call me that. You--my moth--you dont. You don’t get to call me that.”

Appa allows him to stumble over his own words and nods. “Alright, thank you. Then, Appa owes you an apology for that. I’m sorry I used a name you’re not comfortable with.”

Jidwi doesn’t know if this is a trick or not, but he seems sincere.

“That being said . . . what name would you like us to use?”

Did they . . . not know his name? Or did they want Jidwi to tell them what to use now. He could literally say anything, make up a name now so that once he escaped they wouldn’t be able to find him. Sure, he would have to change his name again , and that was annoying because he was finally getting used to Jidwi, but he could manage. But then again . . . they knew he was Sammaekjong, and if they knew that, wouldn’t they be able to find him regardless?

“I need to hear you say it, sweetheart. This is very important. Do you understand?”

“Jidwi,” he barely mumbles, looking down at his own chest. Appa leans closer to him now.

“What was that?”

“Jidwi. My name.” He gives them his real name because if he does need to get away, he can come up with something else. He doesn’t want to give up the name given to him by the only person he loved. Not yet. He just needs to be Jidwi a little longer. 

“Jidwi. Okay, baby. Thank you for listening to me.”

He didn’t have a choice about that.

“Now, another thing. We need to talk about your recent behavior.”

Jidwi doesn’t think he’ll like this discussion as much and he starts to shift uncomfortably in the lap he’s sitting in. Appa shushes him.

“We understand everything must seem frightening to you. But that doesn’t give you the right to act the way you have been. Hitting, kicking and swearing is no way to act when you’re not getting your way.”

“Getting my way? You kidnapped me! You--you’re making me--you act like”--

“Don’t interrupt me. If you interrupt me once more, you’re going to wear your pacifier for the rest of the day. Understood?”

Jidwi just nods. 

“Thank you. Now, as I was saying, from here on out I don’t want anymore of that behavior from you. Eomma and I want to use a reward-punishment system with you, she’s made a chart for you even, so if you continue to act this way, you’re going to be punished.”

“Wha . . . what does that mean? Punished?”

Appa seems to be confused for a moment. “Punished for your behavior. That means loss of privileges, toys or a spanking. Your behavior decides that.”

Hold up--spanking? No. No way Jidwi was going to just let them spank him like he was a bratty little kid. He was an adult, with adult thoughts and adult language and adult behavior. Being stripped down and changed or bathed was worse enough, but spanked?

“No.”

“No what?”

“You’re not going to spank me. I won’t let you do tha--you can’t”--

“Both of us can, Jidwi, and we will. Quite frankly, you’ve earned it, and if it weren’t for the fact we really needed to have this conversation I’d have pulled you over my knee already.” 

Jidwi feels bitterness churn in his chest and he spits out, “you said no hitting, kicking or swearing. Spanking is hitting.”

“Spanking isn’t hitting someone in the heat of the moment, Jidwi. It’s discipline. Eomma and Appa will only ever discipline you if you need it, and it’s never done out of anger. We will never hurt you or hit you.”

“Spanking is hurting, dumbass!”

“Like that,” Appa says, “you continue to act out. Do you want a spanking right now? Because you’re acting like it.” 

Appa seems to predict his own behavior before he does before he tightens his grip on Jidwi just as he starts to struggle off his lap. Oh, god, he’s actually going to do it. He’s going to spank him. If he even dares to flip Jidwi over his lap, he’s going to bite his ankles raw.

“You have one more strike, little boy. Understand? And if you cross that line, I will put you over my knee.”

“Und-understand, I understand,” Jidwi whispers out. The words seem to work and Appa’s stone face and warning voice are gone, and he just smiles down at Jidwi.

“Good boy. Eomma and Appa love you very much, you know,”

“I-I,” Jidwi stutters, deciding he’s had enough conversation for today, and grabs his pacifier back out of Appa’s hands, popping it in his mouth. There. Now he doesn’t have to talk to him anymore. 

Appa laughs and shakes his head. “Alright, sweetie. Would you like to go back downstairs now?”

Jidwi just nods, waiting for Appa to carry him down again, relieved he’s not going to be punished this time. But this only proves that he’s got to get away faster now. His time may be running out.

Chapter Text

Ever since their discussion, Jidwi feels different. He’s not sure how he’s managed to settle in to a routine with them, he just knows that he has , and now that he is , he’s a lot less angry. Granted, he’s still pissed and hates their guts, but he doesn’t really try and purposely act out. He hasn’t tried to bite Appa in three days and that subtle change alone is creating a much calmer atmosphere for all of them. He wants to try and get on their good side so that they stop carrying him everywhere, strapping him down to his changing table, gagging him. He really wants to gain their trust so he can get the hell out. So naturally, settling into their routine is a part of that plan.

He’s always woken up by Appa, who seems happier and happier to see him every morning, and he tries his best not to fight too much when he’s changed. He still pushes their hands away and gives muffled protests and, when he can, vocal protests, but he doesn’t kick or hit them. He can scream as much as he wants, though. Appa had said “no hitting, kicking or swearing”. So, he can scream. Just to get his point across. But it hurts his throat and the last time he did it Appa blew a raspberry on his stomach calling him “a grumpy baby” and it shut Jidwi right the hell up. So, he’s stopped screaming.

Appa feeds him when Eomma isn’t home, and always takes him to the living room after to play with his toys. He doesn’t really play but everything is so boring that sometimes he has no other choice but to sit there while Appa tries to encourage him to. Whether it’s a gentle push or some praise or literally shaking Jidwi’s stuffed rabbit like he was some kind of dog. Jidwi has decided the rabbit is his favorite person in this house. She (he decides it’s a she) has been named Nana, because she reminds him of something a grandma owns, maybe keeps in a box in the attic to someday pass on to her great grandkids. So, she’s Nana. But he doesn’t tell them that. 

Most days, Appa works on his computer for a couple hours at a time, always taking breaks in between to make sure Jidwi isn’t doing anything he’s not supposed to be, and to sit with him, play with him, read him a short story. Jidwi much prefers when he’s busy though. The constant anxiety of being literally watched in an uncomfortable environment gets to him and it makes him feel self-conscious. Appa makes phone calls, too, but he’s usually eyeing Jidwi like a hawk when he does, and it makes his skin crawl. 

At night, every other night, Eomma gives him a bath. He used to hate it, kicking water at her, having to be held down, but now he just lets her wash his hair and sing to him because he knows he’s probably going to fall asleep if she does, and he’d rather be asleep or so dazed that it masks his embarrassment. She uses natural soaps and shampoos and they smell nice, smell like her almost, and it doesn’t hurt his skin. She seems more pleasant than Appa despite the fact he only spends half of his time with her. 

When they put him to bed, he’s usually half out-of-his-mind fighting sleep, which is a pleasant change from insomnia, and doesn’t have the energy to fight as they put him in his pajamas. They’re usually long onesies, soft, but not heavy material. Eomma always tells stories before bed, and there’s something so captivating about her voice that he just lets himself slip away under her influence to sleep. It’s nice. Sometimes he can feel the kiss on the head they give him, sometimes he can’t. But he knows they do it. 

This time it’s different.

It’s late, and Eomma still isn’t home. Usually she’d be walking in the door and announcing her arrival in a cutesy tone (Even though he can clearly hear her coming through the door) but she hasn’t arrived yet. Appa’s told him that she’ll be working late, that something came up but not to worry because “Eomma loves you so much, little one,” and Jidwi wonders what’s happened at her clinic. Appa is washing dishes by hand, Jidwi in his high chair still with his sippy cup full of water. He’s apprehensive to say or ask anything because he knows he’s getting a bath tonight. And he’s really not looking forward to it. It’s not that Appa hasn’t seen him naked before, as humiliating that is to admit, or that he prefers Eomma because they’re both equally evil in this scheme, but he’s spent nearly the entire day cooped up right by his side and he really wants a break from the man. 

“Okay, little one, you ready to go upstairs?”

Jidwi knows he’s pouting and he can’t help it. He’s not tired enough to settle down for a bath and without Eomma’s voice, he’s definitely not going to sleep through this. Can he . . . tell Appa this? Ask him to just wait five more minutes, and maybe she’ll walk through the door? It sounds stupid to him so he just folds his arms, legs swinging absent-mindedly in the high chair. 

“No,”

“Excuse me?”

Appa’s voice isn’t laced with the stern edge it usually is when he’s said something out of turn, so Jidwi thinks that he’s really just being asked to repeat himself.

“I said no.”

“Baby, you need a bath tonight. That’s non-negotiable,” Appa takes the sippy cup from him and starts to unlock the tray to lift him up and he leans back. Maybe if he phrases it right, he’ll be left alone. Just maybe . . . 

“No . . . I want Eomma. Not you.”

Aha! Appa pauses, and stares ahead at Jidwi with a look on his face. Jidwi really can’t tell if he’s offended or confused but it’s certainly something other than his normal poker face, and it’s not a bad look, so he takes it as a win. Maybe if he presses a little more, Appa will just take him upstairs to bed and he won’t even need to take a bath. A little risky but Jidwi was never one to back down from a challenge.

“Ah. Baby, I’m sorry, Eomma is still at work. But if we go and take a bath the time will pass faster, and she’ll be home in time to kiss you goodnight. Does that sound good?”

Jidwi locks his jaw. “No.”

Appa sighs, placing his arms on either side of Jidwi. “Don’t be stubborn. Appa needs to wash you up. Can you try and be good for me?”

Jidwi wants to laugh. The man is making this too fucking easy. “No.”

“I know you miss Eomma,” Appa digs his hands underneath Jidwi’s armpits and he squeaks, trying to pull away, “but you’re getting your bath tonight whether you like it or not.”

Well, at least he tried, right?

“No, no, no, no--put me down!”

“Jidwi, please,” Appa uses his name now, so he’s probably got one more chance before he’s going to land himself in hot water. Jidwi just gives up and slumps over to rest his head on Appa’s shoulder. If he fights him, it’ll take up more time and the more time he takes up, the sooner Eomma might be home. But he really is still afraid of the threat of spanking. The last thing he wants is to be hit. So he gives up.

“Thank you. Just be a good boy for me, I know you can be.”

Jidwi groans and softly headbutts him. He hates when they praise him, it feels weird, like he’s supposed to react, like it’s supposed to force him to trust them. Which he doesn’t. He never will. 

Appa sits him down on the fuzzy bath mat, starting the bath. Jidwi leans against the wall, biting the edge of his lip in anxiety. Maybe, just maybe, this would wear him out, soothe him so that he becomes relaxed enough to actually become sleepy. He’d never been bathed by Appa alone, so he’s unsure and unsteady. He watches Appa test the water and immediately throws his guard up once he comes over to him.

“Alright, c’mere,” Appa’s voice is hushed now and his hands are steady as he tries to wrestle Jidwi’s sweater off of him. “Arms up, sweetheart.”

“D--mrrmph,” Jidwi is cut off by the sweater being tugged past his face.

“Sorry about that.”

But Appa’s biting back a smile so how sorry can he be? Jidwi huffs at him. His hands wander to the waist of Jidwi’s sweatpants and Jidwi places his hands over Appa’s wrists, not squeezing or pushing, not just yet. Appa stops now and frowns. 

“Sweetheart? What’s wrong?”

Jidwi wants to tell him he can do it himself but he’s afraid Appa’s just going to scold him, hold him down, maybe. But right now he’s feeling rather small and insignificant and he’d really like that to change. He lets go of Appa’s hands but nothing happens.

“I need to get you into the tub. Are you going to be okay?”

Obviously, he’s not going to be, but if he says no, it’s not like his wishes are going to be granted. Jidwi just turns his head away stubbornly as Appa continues to strip him down, allowing him to curl in on himself. The faster they do this the faster he can go to sleep and just bask in all his unconscious glory. 

The water is warmer than normal and Jidw sputters when Appa pours water over his head. That’s on him. He should tilt his head back. A strong hand rubs his back.

“Tilt your head back, baby,”

Jidwi willfully obliges but Appa pauses rubbing the shampoo into his hair. “Do you want bubbles?”

What?

Appa leaves him with a head full of shampoo, scooting back towards the bathroom cabinet to pull out a bottle of bubbles. He’s never seen that before. He didn’t even know they owned bubbles. While he’s not thrilled about the childish aspect of bubbles at the hands of his captors, Jidwi knows the bubbles will give him some much needed privacy in the large tub. 

He nods and Appa smiles. 

“Eomma doesn’t use these, I know, but it’ll be our little secret. Okay?”

The idea of them sharing a secret between them, even as little as bubbles, doesn’t sit right with Jidwi. Appa goes to pour more water over his head to wash out the shampoo, rubbing his fingers into Jidwi’s scalp more vigorously than Eomma does. His hair is starting to get long now. He wonders if they’re going to cut it or just let it grow. 

Once he’s done with his hair, Appa pulls it into a small, sloppy bun, and he feels like an idiot. The look of confusion is prominent on his face, it must be because Appa explains in a quiet voice. “So your hair doesn’t get in the way.” 

He starts to wash Jidwi now with one of the softer washcloths, his breathing white noise to Jidwi’s ears. Jidwi’s not happy about this but at least he’s not attacking his body like he was his scalp.

“Jidwi . . .”

Jidwi glances at him from the side. 

“You’re going to be fine, you know? Eomma and I tell you all the time that we love you but we want you to know that we mean it. It’s confusing for you, I know. But there’s nothing you can do to make us love you any less. You’re our little angel. We want you to be happy.”

Jidwi almost laughs at that; well, fuck, he does laugh, he snorts out of his nose, and sprays water all over himself grossly due to his previously washed face. That’s disgusting.

“Something funny?”

“Y-you-I’m-” Jidwi shakes his head and curses himself for the vulnerability he’s about to show. “You love me? You don’t know me, you know absolutely nothing about me.”

Appa tilts his head at this, pouring water over his chest. “We do though, sweetheart. And we do love you. You deserve love.”

That causes Jidwi to freeze up and he almost lashes out and clocks the man right in the jaw. You deserve love . In his mind, he hears it, the stupid words spewed throughout his mind that tell him he accepts the love he thinks he deserves, or some stupid motto like that. Of course he deserve slove, he knows that, he’s not dumb and it’s not his fault nobody’s truly loved him before. It’s not his fault he’s been abandoned or left behind or forgotten. How dare they. How dare he. They don’t love him, they don’t, they love the idea of him and no one has been able to love him the way that--

Bullshit .”

“Alright, come on. It’s bedtime,” Appa says quickly like he knows Jidwi is about to lose his shit and flicks the switch up for the drain. Jidwi immediately splashes him with a wave of water.

“Bullshit! Don’t touch me!”

“You’re acting out because you’re scared right now and feeling vulnerable and you’re not used to it. That’s fine. But you need to take a deep breath, because I’m not having this behavior from you right now. Understand?”

“I hate you ,” Jidwi spits, “I hate both of you . So fucking much.” 

It’s a pitiful sight if he were to see it, Jidwi thinks, Appa trying to grab him, being splashed with water and bubbles, unable to grasp Jidwi because he’s wet and agile and part of it is actually funny. Seeing Appa covered in water, hair damp, vein in his forehead popping from trying to keep absolutely calm while probably wanting to just give up. It fuels Jidwi’s behavior. But before he can grab the wash cloth to throw, Appa has a good grip on his upper arm and uses that to manhandle him out of the tub. It’s slippery and Jidwi almost loses his balance but Appa lifts him up.

“Stop-stop, stop it! I swear to god , I hate you so much !” Jidwi is yelling now, his voice hoarse and cracking, his eyes wet and his nose sniffly as Appa is doing his best to swaddle him in a towel so that he probably can’t use his arms to hit. He’s hugging him with the material now, whispering into Jidwi’s ear. 

“I know, love. I know.” 

The admittance breaks down Jidw’s already crumbling walls and he falls apart in Appa’s stupid lap, sobbing and cursing under his breath incoherently. Appa takes clear advantage to finally finish wrapping into a towel burrito. 

“It’s okay, baby. It’s okay, you’re okay,”

“I hate you, I hate you, I hate you . . .” his voice breaks as he chants his mantra over and over. Appa rocks him back and forth, hands running up and down his back. He lets him say it over and over, even add a swear word here and there, lets him cry his eyes out and lets his breath hitch up and down, lets him be the mess he is. Somewhere deep down, Jidwi thinks to himself this just shows how much they really want to show him they love him, because he would’ve been done with his own shit a long time ago. Maybe he already was and that’s why he’s a wreck, disappointed in himself. 

“You’re going to be okay, sweetheart.”

“I hate you,”

“I know. But we love you. We love you so much, Jidwi. We love you.”

Do they? They love him, they love him, they love him .

Chapter Text

It’s hot. The air is sticky and humid and the sun is blazing down on his skin, burning to the touch. He’s sweaty but he doesn’t stop running. He knows that if he does then she will catch him and he doesn’t want that. It’s dark here and there’s lots of trees but they all look the same so he’s not sure which ones he’s already passed. They all have old withering branches, they’re all too thin to hide behind. It’s not the forest he used to play in as a child. This isn’t his home.

He stumbles across a thick root and braces himself for the fall with his hands. He’s made too much noise and now she’s going to know where he is. He doesn’t know whether he should keep going to stop running. He has no idea what to do now. 

“Jidwi.”

He hears his name being called between the trees and he can make out Pa Oh’s figure in the dark. Yes. Perfect. Pa Oh is going to save him. He doesn’t hear footsteps anymore, so he darts as fast as he can towards the figure. Pa Oh can help him. 

“Jidwi.”

The voice is familiar and he’s not sure he remembers Pa Oh’s voice sounding like this. It’s distorted, weird and distant. He’s trying to cover ground as fast as he can towards him but he still seems so far. He wants to scream out but he doesn’t out of fear of being heard. He can’t have her hear him. He cannot.

“Jidwi!” 

I’m here, he wants to yell. I’m right here, please see me, please help me. See me, Pa Oh. 

Pa Oh begins to turn around and relief is snatched from Jidwi’s lungs when the figure is not the man he is imagining but the taller, leaner figure of his Appa. Oh, no. No, no, this is a nightmare, he knows now. He has to wake up, he has to wake up.

He begins to run in the other direction now, trying to find some sort of way to wake himself up. He doesn’t know how to. He never has. He stops when he hears the snapping of twigs and the rustling of leaves, and can feel that cold run up his arms, her breath in his ear-

“Jidwi! Wake up!”

He hears his own screaming before he registers Appa’s voice yelling at him, and he goes to push back from where he’s being cradled in his bed. He’s awake now, he thinks, and he gasps for air, clutching at the man’s back, clipped fingernails digging into the other’s skin.

“It’s alright, it’s alright, you’re alright. You’re awake.”

Jidwi isn’t crying but he’s freaked out and he pants into the crook of Appa’s neck, clutching onto him. Christ. Appa rocks him gently and shushes him occasionally while he tries to catch his breath. Behind them, Eomma is stroking his hair, peppering kisses onto his head. She’s breathing right into his ear, telling him that she loves him over and over and that he’s safe, that he’s okay. 

For the first time, he believes her.

Chapter Text

Moomyung is glad it’s finally the weekend. He’s glad that Suho’s invited him over after that midnight call because he really needs it. He feels like he’s been away from civilization for too long because being outside is a little weird after spending nearly a month cooped up in the house, working non-stop and taking care of their new baby. Driving there almost feels foreign to him. For once, he’s not covered in something, he’s not being bit or screamed at, and the world is much too quiet.

“Do you want tea? I’d offer you something stronger but . . .” Suho gives him an amused shrug and Moomyung laughs. They both have the weekend off from the company and so far neither of them have had to take calls or e-mails. Moomyung keeps his phone on, however, in case Ahro needs him.

“Tea is fine, thanks,”

Suho pours him a cup of tea and he takes it, the lavender scent soothing his nerves almost instantly. The mug is heavy and he feels the weight of it in the palm of his hands, wondering where to start. Suho knows the story, he’s gotten updates almost every week because Moomyung and Ahro have been pestered ever since they’d brought Jidwi home. But also because if Moomyung doesn’t talk to someone he’s going to lose his mind. Ahro confides heavily in Sooyeon, they’re best friends of course, and Moomyung confides heavily in Suho. Suho is easily his closest friend in the community. He thinks of him as his brother and in the back of his head under the pressure and stress of Jidwi, he can’t wait to introduce him to his Uncle Suho and cousin Banryu.

Moomyung loves Banryu. After the couple of years he’s spent babysitting for him, making emergency pharmacy runs, and family parties, he sees him as his own. He’s gotten to know Banryu well and he knows that he and Suho are good for one another, and he longs for a bond like that with Jidwi. In his eyes he knows it’s probably true but he also feels like it’s not and that’s why he’s sitting on Suho’s worn-in loveseat, pillow clasped underneath his arms. Suho flops down next to him with his own cup of tea. He gestures to the baby monitor on the table.

“Banryu is down for a nap right now in his nursery, so we can talk freely. So, to what do I owe this humble pleasure? I mean, I know you called me last night but I was, like, half awake, man,”

“It’s fine, really. I just . . . needed to talk to someone else who knows what it’s like. Who isn’t Ahro.”

Suho hums in confusion. “I get what you mean but do you think you can’t talk to her?”

“No of course not. It’s just . . . I think I’m looking for validation she can’t give me. Someone a little more sympathetic, perhaps?”

“Alright, I get that. Ahro is like a hawk. What’s going on?”

“I feel like we’re screwing this up,” Moomyung ignores the hawk comment about his wife. “Like I’m horrible and that we’re going to ruin Jidwi forever.”

Suho snorts and has to apologize, waving his hand. “Sorry, sorry, old parent habits. Look; if you think you’re fucking things up, then you’re probably doing the best you can. I always say that the people who’re too confident in their skills are probably the ones too cocky to learn from their mistakes. It’s been, what? A month? You gotta cut yourself some slack.”

Moomyung is a little comforted by those words. 

“Yes, about a month now. He still screams, throws tantrums, swears--a lot, honestly--and has nightmares--like last night. I’m used to him waking up in the middle of the night, maybe making a little noise. He tends to keep it all to himself or self soothes. But this was something else. It was . . . a little frightening, to say the least.”

Suho frowns softly, giving a nod. “That’s horrible. And he won’t talk about it?”

“No. Ahro tried to ask him this morning and he clammed up. That’s fine, if he doesn’t want to talk, but the way he was clinging to me last night was concerning enough. I mean, he’s usually trying to bite me. But after he was awake and coherent, he was still clinging to me.”

“That’s progress then!” Suho throws his hands up. “He looked to you for comfort. That’s good. I mean, not good he had a nightmare, that’s horrible and I feel for the little guy, but good that he recognized you and allowed you to comfort him. That’ll cross over into other events soon, and he’ll stop pushing you away as much. Not saying he’ll be your perfect little angel but he’s getting there,”

“He’s already perfect. I don’t want him to change, I just want him to be happy. But it’s difficult when I’m alone with him most of the time and progress seems like we’re . . . going in a circle, really.”

“I get that. Progress isn’t linear,” Suho leans back against the couch cushions, “when I first brought Banryu home I cried how many times? I really thought I was a fuck up. But look at him now. I mean, really look at him. He trusts me. That’s why he’s able to act out as much as he does because he knows that I’m going to do what’s right for him. Maybe instead of seeing Jidwi’s behavior as a losing battle with progress you need to start letting it guide you in the right direction.”

Moomyung sips his tea before continuing. “I have no idea what you’re trying to say.”

“Me neither, fuck, I was just trying to sound philosophical,” Suho bursts out laughing and Moomyung almost spits out his tea. Somehow, he thinks, they’re a horrible pair, really. “But trust me. You’re not screwing it up. You love him, you let him know you’re there for him, you feed him vegetables, you’re not doing this wrong. Sooner or later he’s going to start talking and you’re going to be there to guide him in the right direction. M’kay?”

“Right.”

“You sound skeptical. Listen, if I could get my Banryu to open up to me, you’re going to get Jidwi to open up to you. Or maybe Ahro first. From what it sounds like, he likes her a lot better.”

Moomyung grimaces. “Yeah. He does.”

“Don’t be offended. It’s because he’s not spending every waking moment with her. Plus, he’s probably a momma’s boy. It’s fine.”

“I don’t care about that!” Moomyung scoffs. “It just seems that she can take steps forward with him and I take steps backwards.”

Suho shoves him playfully. “It’s your anxiety, dude! From the sound of it last night was a big breakthrough--the meltdown in the bath, the nightmare--he’s starting to settle in. He’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”

He nods, smiling a bit. This is why he needs Suho around; his light-hearted advice, his playful side, his ability to make Moomyung feel at ease. It doesn’t feel like a stressing conversation anymore and it seems much easier to stop thinking of how he’s going to fuck this up. Plus, spending an hour or two out of the house is really what he needs. 

Maybe, Jidwi needs that as well.

“Thanks, Suho. Really.”

“Anytime,” Suho pats him on the back. “When can we finally meet him anyway? I’ve been dying to get some cute cousin photos for my new wallpaper.”

“Ah, about that,” Moomyung starts, “I’m not sure if Jidwi should really be around anyone yet. I mean, he can barely make it through a day without trying to break our eardrums, and I’m not sure if that’s going to do well with Banryu.”

Suho shakes his head and chuckles. “Listen. Maybe socializing them is what he needs. He can see that he can be happy here--that he’s allowed to be happy here. Plus, it’s gotta be super boring not playing with someone your own age. You decide when he’s ready and we’ll head on over. It’s your call, but I don’t think it’s the worst idea. And if it starts to turn sour, I grab Banryu and we head home and try again another time. No biggie.”

“Are you just saying that because you want cute cousin nap photos?”

“Yes. But also, I really do think socializing him will help him settle in. I won’t let my bias for cute cousin nap photos rule my thinking. Talk with Ahro about it but no pressure, okay?”

Moomyung nods into the arm thrown around him and squeezes Suho’s shoulder. Maybe he’s right. Maybe a playdate will help Jidwi realize that he’s not alone. It could help him to finally start to regress, to trust them more, to realize that he’s got an entire family waiting to meet and love and spoil him. 

“Thanks again, Suho.”

Chapter Text

Today is a special day, they tell him. He’s going to meet some of his family members, they claim, and Jidwi couldn’t be more terrified honestly. The fact that other people were going to see him like this, were going to partake in this, not help him . . . he didn’t know which one scared him more honestly. He wanted no part in it.

But of course, he never got what he wanted. 

It was later in the morning that they set up the play area, Appa trying to keep Jidwi’s interest with Nana, trying to get him to help set up some toys but Jidwi refuses to help and just lies down on his mat. Maybe he’ll stay like that for the whole day and then they won’t make him do anything. He won’t be actively resisting just resting. They can’t punish him for that right?

“Baby, please sit up. We need to have a talk with you.”

Now what has he done?

With a groan he pushes himself up and faces his two evildoing caregivers. “What?”

Eomma sits down next to Appa and takes both of his hands, squeezing them. “We told you about your cousin Banryu and your Uncle Suho and how they’re coming to visit today. We’d like it if you were on your best behavior. We really don’t want any naughtiness from you today. We know you’re a good boy.”

Jidwi wants to rip his hands away and he has to catch himself before he does it because she’s literally just asked him not to act out. Both of their stares imply they’re waiting for a response and he just nods.

“No, baby, we need you to use your words. Okay?”

Jidwi sighs. “Okay.”

“Okay what?” Appa asks. Obviously, they want him to repeat what they’ve just said, and with a flush of embarrassment he decides to.

“I’ll-I’ll be a . . . good boy,”

They both beam and Eomma kisses his hands. “You’re going to have so much fun today, sweetheart, I promise!”

He highly doubts that. He’s way too anxious to even think about the people coming over, afraid that something will happen. What if they’re not as nice as his caregivers now? What if he uses his diaper? What if he has another panic attack or cries in front of them? The possibilities are endless and he feels his stomach churn at the thought of any of those occurring. They can’t happen. Not on his watch. 

But before he can voice any of his concerns, there’s a knock on the door, and Jidwi almost bolts out of the room. If it weren’t for the fact Eomma was holding him now and trying to get him to hold one of his stuffed animals, maybe he would’ve. 

Appa answers the door and before Jidwi sees anything he hears a voice greeting them and a happy “we’re here!” Appa giggles and hugs the man decked out in two bags and a backpack, dressed in a maroon sweater and black sweatpants. He steps inside before gesturing for someone behind to come in hastily and Jidwi pauses. 

Oh, wow. He’s pretty .

The second person must be his cousin he decides, looking him up and down, and he’s so, so pretty. His hair is dark and elegant, styled up into a messy bun, strands of it falling to the side of his face, and his eyes are dark and sparkly. He doesn’t look very friendly, his face seemingly cold and his lips down turned but they’re cute and almost ruby colored. He’s wearing a baggy sweater too big for him (maybe it’s the man’s?) and his pants are a bright checkered pattern, multicolored, and reminds Jidwi of how the art kids from the school he used to go to dressed. There’s a pacifier clipped to his shirt but he doesn’t seem like he needs one. He hasn’t said a single word since the man (his “Uncle”, probably) has come in and taken off his shoes and dropped all three bags off. He’s currently wrestling the crocs off of the boy’s feet and Jidwi can’t help but watch him.

Suddenly, the boy catches his gaze and his eyes turn into daggers and Jidwi feels himself stop breathing, quickly looking away. Oh no. He doesn’t look very nice. 

“God, traffic was oddly the worst today; I mean, of course it is driving past the supermarket on a weekend, but it was actually backed up for some reason--here, can you take--thanks. There’s a lunchbox in there full of stuff, just put it in the fridge--but take the ice packs out. Sorry,”

The man laughs now as Appa goes to put things away in the fridge, leaving him alone with Eomma and the two strangers.

“Jidwi,” Eomma coos, “can you say hi?” 

Jidwi can’t and Eomma apparently decides that that’s fine. She sits behind Jidwi so he’s got no one to hide behind as the man approaches him and crouches down.

“Hi, sweetie; I’m your Uncle Suho. It’s very nice to meet you,” his smile is so genuine and carefree that Jidwi doesn’t even have the heart to glare at him. The man--Suho--reaches behind him to grab his nameless cousin by the hand and tug him closer.

“Banryu, come say hi.”

Jidwi tries not to look Banryu in the eye when he offers a small “hello”. He’s really not looking forward to spending the day with him. 

“He’s feeling a little shy today, don’t worry,” Suho laughs and sits cross legged now, pulling Banryu into his lap. “But you’re gonna have fun with your cousin today, aren’t you?”

Banryu nods and Suho kisses his cheek and exclaims, “good boy!”

Jidwi sees that Suho is very different from his own . . . masculine parental kidnapper. He seems very outgoing, boisterous and keen on praise. He reminds Jidwi of the typical DILF in every mom movie ever, only instead of a real baby, he had Banryu. Who . . . doesn’t seem to be as little as they want Jidwi to act?

Suho unzips one of the bags he’s brought and places it in the middle of the mat, now shifting Banryu off of his lap and standing, bending over to speak lowly in Banryu’s ear. Jidwi can’t hear what he’s saying but he’s imagining it’s not much different from a warning he’s received this morning. Or, they could be planning his murder. He has no idea. But Banryu just nods.

“How about you and your cousin get to know each other a little better, hm? We’ll be right here the whole time, okay?” Eomma is standing now and he realizes that they’re going to be watching them play . This is Jidwi’s first interaction with his cousin, or anyone other than the two of them, and they’re going to be observing him. Oh, jesus.

The panic on his face must show because Eomma kisses his head and whispers, “it’s okay. Play nice, honey,”

Well, he has no other option, right?

They sit on the couch that’s on the far right of the room, drifting off into conversation about Suho’s drive over (he’s wondering if maybe the supermarket had a sale on oranges because he’s been trying to find any that aren’t full priced) and Jidwi just nervously watches as Banryu unpacks his bag. He’s pulling out bags of crayons and markers and coloring books, but also a bag of blocks, wooden and big, foam ones. Everything is in ziploc bags, other than the books. Jidwi makes a weird face but Banryu isn’t looking up at him. He’s spreading everything out, over the mat, and closer to Jidwi. Does he want him to take something?

Finally, Banryu looks up at him, and begins to chew on his thumbnail. He opens his mouth to say something before Suho’s deep voice has increased in volume. “Banryu! Are you biting your nails again?”

“No!” Banryu answers back with a tone that makes Jidwi nearly drop his jaw in question.

“Do I need to come over there and check?”

Banryu turns his head to roll his eyes and Jidwi’s heart stops for a moment. Was he going to do something else? Was this going to start a fight? He remembers his Appa’s warning and wonders if the same rules apply to Banryu. Maybe they have their own set of rules. 

“I’ll take that as a no.”

Banryu says nothing. Suho turns back to Eomma just as quickly as before, glancing every so often in their direction. Banryu abandons his nail biting and slides over to Jidwi. His heart is still racing from before.

“I know what you’re thinking,”

Jidwi just stares at him.

“You’re thinking that if you’re good and gain their trust, you’re going to get out of here,” Banryu picks up a coloring book and flips it open carelessly, “you’re wrong and you need to stop thinking like that.”

“Wh”-

“Trust me,” Banryu picks out a green crayon and starts to color what Jidwi recognizes as Minnie Mouse. The ‘trust me’ is a little eerie and Jidwi whispers back, slow, so no one besides Banryu can hear him.

“How long have you been . . . ?” He’s not sure how to finish the question but Banryu understands regardless.

“I don’t know. Daddy doesn’t remind me, we only celebrate birthdays, not anniversaries. But, a few years, I think. It’s been a few birthdays.”

‘A few years’ slaps Jidwi across the face and he bites down on his lip, trying to still the panic coursing through his body. He’s been here . . . a couple months, maybe? He can’t do a few years. What if he doesn’t survive? What if they fuck him up for good? What if he ends up like--

“You said something before about getting out of here? What did you mean?” 

Banryu shoves his crayon at Jidwi. “At least color while you’re talking,”

Jidwi takes the crayon apprehensively and picks out a coloring book. This is going to be humiliating but it’s worth it if it gets him some information. Any information. “What did you mean?”

“Wow, zero to a hundred with you, huh,” Banryu mutters, not looking up, “I said what I said. You’re not getting out of here. I mean, do you really want to? Go back to your shitty life?”

That catches Jidwi off guard and he opens his mouth only to close it. He needs to think here. He needs a plan. Clearly, Banryu has a lot more information that he needs, but he also knows things. Does he know about Jidwi’s life before this? Or is he just assuming he had a shitty life? Maybe Banryu’s life had been awful and he’s projecting that onto him. He can’t rush this; he needs to trick Banryu into giving more information than he thinks. It won’t be easy but Jidwi knows a few things he can try. Hopefully, he can outsmart Banryu. 

“Did your daddy tell you that? That I had a shitty life?” 

The corner of Banryu’s lips lift into a smile. “He doesn’t need to. Most people here had a rough life. That’s probably why Aunt Ahro picked you.”

“Aunt Ah”--Jidwi tilts his head. Oh. That was her name? That was Eomma’s name? Ahro? Good . . . now he needed the man’s name next. “What do you mean they picked me?”

“They picked you. Do you not know what the word means?” 

Jidwi really wants to smack that smartass tone out of his voice but he knows better. 

“I meant how?”

“How would I know that?” Banryu rolls his eyes again. This time, Jidwi keeps silent and just takes his frustration out on the picture of a large frog, grabbing a red crayon to scribble all over its dumb face. He hates coloring. He never even liked it when he was a real kid.

He panics when Appa comes over to stare down at what he’s doing and Jidwi refuses to look up at him. “Very nice, Jidwi. I think you missed the lines, but it’s okay,”

“Don’t be mean!” Eomma calls from the couch.

“I’m not, I was just trying to encourage him,” there’s a laugh behind his voice as he wanders back over away from the two of them and Jidwi has half a mind to throw the crayon at him. Now, he doesn’t even want to pretend he’s coloring. He feels dumb. He’s frustrated, Banryu is being mean and Appa’s laughing at him. Fuck this .

Just maybe, if he starts crying, they’ll let him sleep and this whole ordeal will be over. He can always try again for information, can’t he? There has to be some other day he’ll see Banryu. 

No, wait, that’s perfect, he’s a genius --

“Banryu . . .”

“What?”

“Can you go get my Appa?” Jidwi asks nervously. If he’s right, because Banryu is a little predictable at this point, he’s going to get at least one more little fact out of him.

“Uncle Moo! Jidwi wants you!” Banryu calls and Jidwi hides his face in his hands. Moo? What the fuck kind of name is--

“Jidwi, honey, are you okay?” 

A hand rubs his back and he knows by now it’s Appa’s. Jidwi’s too embarrassed to show his face so he just shakes his head and hopes that Appa will pick him up and take him to another room. He feels himself being lifted and he immediately shoves his face into the crook of the other’s neck. There’s gentle murmuring he can’t decipher from Suho and Eomma before he’s being carried up the stairs to his nursery. He’s being bounced every so slightly and he can feel the breath of Appa’s voice tickling along his ear.

“Baby? Are you okay?” 

Jidwi shakes his head.

“I can’t help if you don’t tell me what’s wrong? What happened?”

Jidwi just shakes his head again. He doesn’t want to talk to him; he just wants to hide! He just wants Appa to rock him so that he can drift off or so that he doesn’t have to go back downstairs! 

“Did Banryu say something to upset you?”

Well, yeah, he did, but Jidwi doesn’t say anything. It’s not Banryu’s fault he’s kind of a dick. 

“Are you hungry? Are you tired? Come on, tell me something,”

First, they try to shut him up for months. Now, they want him to talk. They’re so confusing. He really wants Appa to shut up and let him ride out his anxiety in the peace and quiet. He’s not sure how to say that.

“Are you overwhelmed? Do you need a break?”

God, yes .

Jidwi nods and the questions stop. Appa takes him over to his rocking chair and sits down, tucking Jidwi’s head against his shoulder. He likes that. The motion of being rocked. Any adult would, he reasons, it’s psychology. Or something.

“We’ll take fifteen minute and then we’ll go back downstairs. How about that?” Appa asks, his chest vibrating underneath Jidwi. Jidwi nods again, letting his eyes drift shut. 

Thank god.

Chapter Text

When their fifteen minutes are up, Appa takes him back downstairs. Jidwi half expects to see them gone, but they’re still there. Banryu is sitting in Eomma’s lap as she reads him a picture book, Suho sitting behind them on the sofa watching over them. Jidwi looks at them for a moment, like really looks, and sees the adoration twinkling in Eomma’s eyes. She tickles Banryu’s side and he squirms, making an uncomfortable face and pushes her hands away. But he doesn’t try to leave her lap. Suho doesn’t say anything either. The scene is blissful but Jidwi still feels bad for Banryu, who’s been here for years . . . he can’t imagine what goes on in his head to actually deal with that. Maybe, nothing goes on in his head, and it’s just empty, like Jidwi had been like when they’d drugged him. That scares him even more.

“Look who’s back!” Suho cheers and sticks his arms out and for a moment he’s afraid Appa will hand him over to him. Instead, he just laughs.

“I don’t think he wants to be held right now. How about I put you on your mat. Hm?” Appa rubs his nose against Jidwi’s cheek. Jidwi nods. 

Once he’s placed down, he scurries back over to the crayons and books, wanting to be as far away from them as possible. He continues his coloring from before, trying to make himself look as small as possible. That’s the only way he’s going to survive the rest of this. He can’t end up like Banryu. He just can’t

“Hey, buddy, you’re shifting around a lot. Do you need to go potty?” he hears Eomma ask and Jidwi’s face heats. It’s embarrassing enough for him, but he can’t imagine for Banryu. He tries to mind his own business and not peek over, forcibly coloring another page with a turtle so he doesn’t seem nosy. 

Banryu makes a confused hum and hears Suho getting up from the couch. “Banryu, Aunt Ahro asked you a question. Do I need to take you potty?” 

Take him? Jidwi’s interest is piqued now. He’s turned to the side but entirely focused on the situation now. 

“I don’t know,” Banryu’s voice is small and hushed and Jidwi can empathize. 

“If you don’t know then I’d take that as a yes. You haven’t peed since this morning. Let’s go,” Suho is lifting Banryu up now and they pass Jidwi. Jidwi knows there’s a bathroom down the hall from the kitchen and watches Suho carry Banryu down the hall. He’s so confused now but he’s also angry. But he needs to confirm his hunch first.

He crawls back over to the couch to tug on Eomma’s pant leg. “Where did they go?”

She smiles at him. “To the potty baby. Banryu is a little older than you, so he only wears pull-ups. It’s okay, they’ll be back soon.” 

Jidwi frowns, jealousy eating at his insides. It’s totally, absolutely unfair that he’s the only one wearing diapers. Banryu doesn’t have to. Now, he feels slightly less bad for him. At least he’s saved the tiniest bit of dignity, right? 

But is it really dignity even if it’s been spread out over the years?


 

Chapter Text

Ever since the playdate, Jidwi’s been extra salty about diaper changes. Eomma and Appa have both explained to him that “Banryu is older than you” and that “Banryu’s been potty trained” and Banryu this and Banryu that and it just adds more and more tension and he feel like he might snap. He can’t, because he’s still afraid of the consequences, afraid that Appa will spank him, or drug him and he wants to avoid that at all costs. He wonders if Suho ever threatens Banryu like that. He also wonders how many more people like him there are, and whether or not they’re completely brain-washed. He doesn’t really know if he considers Banryu to be brain-washed, or just accepting. But he doesn’t like him either way. 

He’s taking a bath for the first time in the morning, after he’s spilled most of his breakfast on himself in an act of defiance after twisting away from Appa too many times, and he’s silent the whole time, jaw locked in defiance. Appa washes around his crossed arms as best he can not too stubborn about it since he had a bath last night.

“Once he’s out, get him dressed and we’ll head out, okay?” Eomma sticks her head into the bathroom and Jidwi’s head snaps up at her voice. Out? Where? Appa gives a hum in agreement and moves over to allow her to step in and take a seat on the edge of the tub. He feels really cornered now, and digs his fingernails into his palms. “Jidwi, sweet boy, can you listen to me?”

He looks up at her and that’s enough. She brushes his wet hair out of his eyes, and smiles down at him. Her hands glide through his bangs and he stops gritting his teeth as harshly. “We have to go see the doctor today. I need you to be a good boy for me, alright? If you show the doctor how good you can be Appa and I have a very special reward for you.”

Oh, no. 

His eyes widen and he shakes his head, not knowing what to spit out first. Questions, or refusals?

“But . . . you’re a doctor,” he whispers. She laughs.

“I am! But we need to see your doctor, okay?”

He shifts. “No, I don’t want to, I really don’t want to”--

“Jidwi. It’s not up for discussion. You’re going for your check-up,” her smile is gone now. “And when we’re done, maybe Appa will buy you some ice cream. Does that sound good?”

“No!”

“Jidwi,” Appa speaks now, “don’t raise your voice with us, please.” 

“I’m not going! You can’t make me!” He’s yelling anyway. He wants them to know that he’s absolutely going to fight them tooth and nail on this and they’re oging to have to drag him out of the house (which, they probably will). He doesn’t want anyone else to see him like this; so vulnerable, so childish , so stupid. 

“You are going,” Eomma picks up the toy bucket from the floor and fills it with water. She goes to pour a little over his shoulders. “And I think right now you’re overwhelmed, but we didn’t tell you sooner or you would’ve lost sleep over it, huh? You would’ve been too anxious. But it’s okay. We will be with you the whole time, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Or embarrassed about. Absolutely no one is going to judge you. I know it’s scary but you’re so brave, aren’t you? Our brave boy.”

Jidwi hates that she can see right through him and he feels his hands starting to shake from a mixture of the anger he’s experiencing and the fear of having to be dragged out of the house like this. In a diaper, being carried around. With a stuffed bunny, losing control of his emotions. No, no, it’s not his fault, it’s either fault that he’s slowly losing his grip on everything around him; his emotions, reality, his mind --

“Let’s get you up now,”

She goes to help him out but he kicks at her, sending the bucket of water flying. He hates the look of shock on her face because he knows it’ll melt into that strict poker face she wears.

“That’s enough, Jidwi. Let’s go,” Appa’s got the hang of getting a wet and fighting Jidwi out of the tub now and grabs him with ease, carrying him to his nursery, telling Eomma to go get his bag ready, whatever that means. Jidwi huffs in disappointment. He hasn’t even put up much of a fight and they’ve already burnt him out. Appa towels him down on the changing table quietly, not saying anything when he fusses and tries to roll off. He just grabs him by the leg and pulls him back. 

“Jidwi; remember the talk we had a couple weeks ago about your behavior?”

Fuck.

Jidwi doesn’t say anything. Appa grips his chin in his hand and forces him to look up. “I asked you a question. I would appreciate a verbal answer.”

“I-I . . .”

“Do you remember, Jidwi?”

“P-please let go . . .”

Appa lets go of his chin but he’s standing in front of him closely, both hands on either side of the changing table, trapping him. “I asked you a question, did I not?” he repeats himself. Jidwi nods, terrified.

“Yes . . . yes I remember.”

“And what did I say? What did I ask you not to do?”

“Um . . . to be good,” Jidwi breathes out. Appa gives a small shake of his head and his face becomes gentler. 

“Jidwi, I’d like to hear what I specifically asked you. You remember right, my smart boy?”

Jidwi hates that he’s being praised while simultaneously being scolded. It’s weird. Unless it’s sarcasm, and he’s calling him dumb?

“You said no hitting, kicking, biting? And, um, no swearing.”

“I did, that’s very good. And what did you do in the bath tub?”

Jidwi presses his lips together firmly. He’s not going to play into this and get himself into even more trouble. It’s a trick, he thinks. 

“You kicked Eomma, didn’t you?”

Nothing.

“Jidwi; did you or did you not kick Eomma?” 

Now, Jidwi is wondering if he can deny it. He knows he absolutely did it and there’s nothing he can do to avoid what’s coming, but he’s curious to see what happens if he tries to lie his way out of this. Like, what’s the worst that can happen, really? 

He shakes his head.

“No . . . ? You didn’t? That looked very much like a kick to me, didn’t it?”

“I didn’t mean to,”

Appa brushed his bangs back and stares at him adoringly. “I bet you didn’t. But you acted out in the heat of the moment. You let your emotions get the best of you and you couldn’t control them and you kicked Eomma. Do you think that was very nice?”

“I can’t control them because of you! You make me act like this! Like a dumb, stupid baby that can’t do anything! I’m not stupid! I’m not emotional!”

Appa quickly stands straight and places his hands on either side of Jidwi’s face, ignoring when he flinches back. Jidwi expects him to yell now, maybe grip his face so tight that it hurts, but nothing happens. His voice is as calm and collected as ever, just a bit lower than usual. 

“Listen to me; you are not stupid. You are not emotional. I did not say those things, and I don’t like you putting words in my mouth. Alright? I said that you acted out of emotion and not reason. Eomma and I sometimes do things you will not like or be happy about but it doesn’t mean you can throw a tantrum to get your way. You are not a dumb, stupid baby that can’t do anything. You’re our baby, who’s smart and capable and very intelligent and we know that. You’re a sweet, caring boy and you’re just frightened right now.”

“I’m not a baby! ” He screams on the top of his lungs right in Appa’s face, but he doesn’t budge. He's still staring into his eyes, face flat, relaxed, while Jidwi's losing his cool inches away from his face. Does this man just not react to anything?  

“Yes you are, Jidwi. You’re our baby. And you’re very overwhelmed right now, so we’re going to take a time out. Alright?”

“No! I don’t need a time out, I need you to--let me go! ” Jidwi tries to kick him now as he’s swaddled in his towel and lifted up to be carried to his rocking chair. “Please, please, let me go,”

“I’m not leaving you alone right now. We’re going to sit here for ten minutes, and then we’re going to talk again, and get dressed. Alright?” Appa settles him on his lap, pressing Jidwi’s head against his neck. For a minute, Jidwi thinks about biting him, but then he knows he’ll be adding fuel to the flame. He breaks down. 

“It’s okay, sweet boy. It’s okay. You’re frustrated and overwhelmed.”

He knows he is but hearing it doesn’t help. He doesn’t want to hear Appa’s voice right now. He doesn’t want either of their voices, really. He just wants to listen to Paoh’s , telling him that he’s not crazy, and that he doesn’t deserve this and that he’s going to be fine.

“You’re going to be fine,”

Jidwi jerks up and Appa shushes him. “You’re going to be just fine, Jidwi.”

Jidwi gives up. He lies his head down on Appa’s shoulder in defeat, listening to the gentle deep breathing he’s doing to try and get Jidwi to mimic. Jidwi does. He takes a deep and broken breath and exhales, rubbing his face on Appa’s neck. He’s not so angry anymore. Just tired. A little anxious, but it’s sitting in the bottom of his tummy like butterflies and not bubbling up into his chest, so it’s not so bad. It’s tolerable. 

He squints when he hears Appa humming to him, rocking him back and forth. It’s a familiar song, maybe something he’s heard a few times in passing, but it’s gentle and it’s much better than hearing him speak his usual mantra. Maybe if Jidwi pretends hard enough, he can pretend he’s not in Appa’s arms, but someone else’s. Trying to relive those painful memories isn’t great, he knows, but it’s enough for him right now. He needs it. It’s good enough to get Jidwi to close his eyes and focus on his breathing. To get him to prep himself for how he’s going to get through this doctor’s visit. When he hears Eomma come in he doesn’t lift his head and just settles on breathing in Appa’s cologne, head feeling fuzzy, like there’s static up there he can’t tune out. He doesn’t open his eyes for the rest of the time out.



Chapter Text

After the time out, they talk. Appa gets him dressed in a relatively okay shirt, blue and yellow with a collar and buttons, and a pair of shorts. It’s not too humiliating at all and Jidwi is grateful for that. He’s wearing slip on shoes but it’s the first pair of shoes he’s given ever since he’s been kidnapped and he’s grateful he’s not going out of the house in socked feet. 

“From now on, we’re going to work on your behavior and your reactions. Is that understood?”

Jidwi nods.

“Good. Because I’m not going to let this continue. Is that understood as well?”

“Yeah,”

“Good. Thank you,” Appa picks him up now and they continue down the stairs. “You’re a good boy, Jidwi, you just need a little help with your temper and your impulse control.”

Jidwi rolls his eyes.

When they get to the front door, he nearly stops breathing. This is it. He hasn’t been outside since he’s been taken and he’s nervous. His heart is pounding in his ears and he bites his lip when Appa turns the door handle. He’s going to be outside for the first time in --

Shit, it’s way too bright outside. He closes his eyes instantly, turning his head to shield his eyes from the sun. Appa laughs at him before heading over to the car. Of course, it’s a minivan. Jidwi isn’t surprised that the windows are tinted either. He’s worried that they’re outside in the middle of broad daylight and no one has come over to them or said anything. No one seems to be around, really. He looks around and sees that the other houses are far apart, but they’re there, and someone should at least see him. Right? 

Appa pulls open the door and Jidwi flips.

“No, no, no--I don’t want to sit in that.”

It’s a type of booster seat, he thinks, with straps and everything, and Jidwi can’t even process how much more shit they’re gonna surprise him with. He’s like a million centimeters tall, he doesn’t need a carseat. He swings his legs in protest but Appa just gives him bottom a gentle smack. 

“Enough of that. I’m going to put you in your seat and you’re not going to throw a tantrum. Are you?”

When Jidwi doesn’t respond, Appa hoists him up into the seat and Jidwi is surprised that it’s not as uncomfortable as it looks. It’s almost like sitting on one of those driving cushions. Appa fastens the X style straps around his torso, tugging at it to make sure it doesn’t come loose. He tests the width with two fingers and once he’s satisfied he pulls Nana out of Jidwi’s bag and hands her over. “Be good, please.”

He shuts the door and Jidwi waits. He watches Appa get in the passenger’s seat and Eomma adjusts her mirror, smiling at him from the front. Once Appa buckles in, she pulls out her phone and hands it over to him.

“Can you capture Baby’s first car ride? I bet Suho will want to see,”

“Oh, sure,” Appa holds the phone up and Jidwi’s eyes go wide. He can very easily snatch it from his hands and dial the police. But Appa gives a dumb, wide grin and snaps the photo and Jidwi is blinded immediately by the flash.

“Why was the flash on!? You’ll hurt his eyes!” Eomma is yelling half-heartedly now.

“I didn’t know! I’m sorry, baby, Appa didn’t mean to startle you. Let’s try this again . . .”

Jidwi doesn’t want to be photographed like some zoo animal so he tries to shrink down and hides his face behind Nana. That just makes Appa coo. 

Jidwi watches the houses go by as they drive, and he’s surprised that it’s a very nice looking neighborhood. Everyone’s houses are pretty, some modern and some old-fashioned, all adorned with bright plants and flowers. The fields they pass are pretty and there’s one or two people out there working. It’s a shame he can’t call for help. They stop once they reach a large gate and Jidwi almost smacks himself. Of course. It’s a gated community. That’s probably how they’re getting away with everything. 

The rest of the drive is peaceful, just trees and open fields, and a few other cars on the road. He’s too nervous to try waving for help or anything, settling for playing with Nana’s long ears. His anxiety is building now. He can tell they’re almost there because Eomma starts talking about how they’ve already filled out paperwork and there will only be a couple things for them to sign. Appa is listening but he doesn’t respond, just gives a nod. 

Jidwi is surprised when they pull up. It’s not a big, fancy building like he’s been to once or twice before. It’s small and cozy looking. The parking lot is mostly pebbles. There’s an area of trees behind it and he thinks about making a break for it. 

When Appa opens the car door, he wonders if they’re going to carry him in, but his question is answered when Appa picks him up, grabbing his bag as well. Jidwi grips Nana by the ears, eyes darting around to see if anyone else is around. There’s a couple other cars, but they’re alone. Eomma holds the door for him and they enter, the blast of the AC sending goosebumps down Jidwi’s skin. 

The doctor’s office isn’t empty.

His eyes almost roll out of his head when he looks around; the room is bright white with paintings of the ocean, trees, things gentle and calm. It’s a pretty professional and mature looking atmosphere. There’s a man behind the counter flipping through a thick binder. In the corner is a young man with . . . someone. Jidwi can’t really tell what their pronouns are but they’re absolutely beautiful. They have high cheekbones with a strong jaw, pink lips, and gorgeous highlighter that makes their skin look shiny and golden. Their dark hair is pushed back with a headband that has roses, matching their dress. Jidwi tries not to stare, remembering Banryu’s cold eyes following him. But this person is different. They beam at Jidwi and wave their fingers smally. 

“Ahh! Dogbird! You’ve come!” The man behind the counter waves and his voice is much too loud for Jidwi’s liking. He’s wearing baby blue scrubs and his hair is combed back neatly. He looks much gentler than Appa, with a round face and sparkling eyes. “Finally, I’ve been waiting forever!”

What the fuck . . . is a Dogbird? Jidwi frowns when Appa laughs and shifts him in his arms to try and get him to face the counter. No. He’s not saying hello to anyone today. 

“Makmoon! I know, I know. It’s my fault, really.”

“No, no, of course not--Ahro, fill these out for me?”

Eomma mocks a gasp and her voice is whiny but teasing. “Not even a hello? You greet my husband like a King and don’t even say hello to me? What kind of brother did I raise?” 

Brother?

That’s her brother?

“Raise me? You didn’t raise me! I raised you!”

“Oh, shut up and give those to me!”

Oh, no, this isn’t good. Just how many people did they know? How many people was he going to meet before someone was going to help him get out of this nightmare? How big was their family? App and Eomma told him he had a family waiting to meet him, but how many members? How much more was he going to have to endure? 

Bouncing him a bit, Appa leans in close to him. “This is your uncle Sunwoo. Can you say to him sweetie?”

Jidwi shakes his head and hides his face in Appa’s shirt but he just laughs. “Sorry, Makmoon. He’s shy. It’s only his first day out today, so . . .”

“Oh, please, it’s fine. He’s really cute though. Much cuter than the pictures you sent me. You’re really bad at photography, you know?”

Jidwi isn’t surprised that Makmoon’s seen photos of him. At this point, he might as well be on instagram, huh? 

“I try my best, but he’s camera shy.” 

“It’s okay, he’ll come out of his shell.”

Jidwi listens to them talk a bit about the drive over and the new paint job the office has undergone before his eyes settle on the person in the corner again. They’re playing with a handheld device, leaning against the man. They look up at Jidwi now and smirk. Soon, they’re putting the device down and tugging on the man’s sleeve, pointing at Jidwi and saying something. Jidwi’s stomach flips when they’re coming over to them, smiling as sweet as sugar.

“Hi, Mr. Kim! Can I say hi to your new baby?”

Jidwi’s heart sinks.

“Oh, Yeowool.” Appa is patting his back now and turns toward the stranger. “You can say hi but he won’t say much back. He’s shy and still adjusting. Okay?”

“Okay,” Yeowool leans closer to Jidwi’s face, “hello. It’s nice to meet you. I’m Yeowool.”

Just as planned, Jidwi doesn’t say anything. But, he thinks, this person--Yeowool--is much nicer than Banryu. He likes that. Something tells him that Yeowool, too, is the same as he and Banryu and he feels sick. Yeowool doesn’t look unhappy at all. Not conflicted or uncomfortable, just content and pretty as can be. 

“That’s my Appa over there. He looks scary but he’s not. What’s his name, Mr. Kim?”

“Jidwi,” Appa answers.

“It’s nice to meet you, Jidwi. Bye-bye,” Yeowool leaves him with a wave and Jidwi presses his face down. So, his suspicions are confirmed. He’s not alone in this. In fact, it’s probably a lot worse than he thinks, and he’s barely scratching the surface. How many people like him are there? Why does everyone else seem to be functioning just fine? Yeowool is probably brainwashed, and he feels bad for them. Poor Yeowool. 

“Alright, take these. Everything is filled out.” Eomma is handing--what’s his name again? Makmoon? She’s handing Makmoon the papers she’s filled out and he takes him, immediately placing them in a folder.

“Alright, the doctor will see you shortly,” he says in an obnoxious voice and Eomma laughs. It’s the first time Jidwi has really ever heard her actually laugh. She sounds so happy. “I’ll go tell Dad you’re here, okay?”

Dad? What does that mean? 

Appa stands next to Eomma, who’s sitting in one of the chairs, shuffling through the bag. He’s still bouncing Jidwi in his arms to settle him but it’s starting to annoy him now. 

“Makmoon looks good. He looks pretty happy,” Appa comments, obviously to Eomma.

“He is. I’m glad.” 

They’re silent for a few minutes, Appa now trying to take Jidwi’s shoes off but Jidwi swings his legs to keep them on. Appa accepts the loss and just sighs. They’re there for a few more minutes in silence before Makmoon is back ushering them in with a hand. Jidwi’s heart starts to beat faster as they’re led down a short hall and turn into one of the exam rooms. 

It’s a normal room but it’s childish and it makes his face heat up. It’s painted a light blue with colorful hot air balloons and clouds, crayola stickers decorating the couple of outlets on the walls. The exam table is set up with a layer of paper but Appa sits down in one of the guest chairs with Jidwi on his lap. 

“Okay, little one, I’m gonna start this off by taking your temperature. Is that okay?” Makmoon is setting up the file on the counter and pulling on gloves. Jidwi doesn’t answer but the man doesn’t seem to mind. He pulls out some equipment and Jidwi is relieved to see a forehead thermometer. “Just one second . . .”

He rolls it over Jidwi’s forehead a couple times, receiving an unhappy frown, but he pays him no mind. He waits and reads the temperature, writing it down in the file (is that Jidwi’s chart?). “Okay, perfect temperature. How did you wanna take his height and weight?”

“The weight with me is fine, isn’t it?” Appa asks.

“It’s not the best . . . I’d prefer it if he lie down. Can we do that?” Makmoon lifts his eyebrows and he’s looking at Appa now, not Jidwi. Appa stands up and sits Jidwi on the exam table. 

“I need to take your bunny now, okay sweetheart. You’re going to lie down so Uncle Sunwoo can take your height and weight.”

Jidwi for some ungodly reason really doesn’t want to let go of Nana. It’s the only thing currently keeping his anxiety at bay and if he gives her up then he has nothing to squeeze when he feels the urge to throw punches. But he has to. Appa doesn’t seem like he’s going to budge on this one.

“Don’t worry! You’ll get Mr. Bunny back in a minute or two,” Makmoon reassures him. Jidwi lets go of the bunny and Appa hands it over to Eomma. He moves to the side of the table now and coaxes Jidwi to lie down. He feels his shoes being taken off now and he’s very unhappy . “You can have your shoes back in a little bit. Just lie still okay?”

Jidwi has no idea how they’re going to take his height or weight but he lies still anyway, watching Makmoon work from the corner of his eye. He’s diligent and ignores every flinch from Jidwi. He writes down a couple things in his chart, and Jidwi turns his head to see him pulling out measuring tape. Wow. 

“Okay, one sec . . . real still for me, okay? Good! You’re doing great,” he speaks absentmindedly as he works. “And that’s done! Okay, you can sit up for me! And you can have your shoes back.”

He hands the shoes to Appa and he slips them back on. Jidwi wants Nana back, too, but no one is moving to give him back his rabbit. He quickly realizes why when Makmoon is undoing the cuff to the machine for his blood pressure. Ugh. 

“Okay, I need his shirt off--this isn’t going to take long, okay? It’ll be uncomfortable but I’ll be right here the whole time,” Makmoon looks straight at Jidwi now. Appa is unbuttoning the buttons on his shirt and attempts pulls it off but Jidwi throws himself back to lie on the table. He really doesn’t want to strip in front of a stranger, even if he is a nurse. This nurse is aiding and abetting in his nightmare and he’s really not comfortable with him being so up close and personal. 

“Jidwi.” Appa’s voice sounds unamused but Jidwi crosses his arms tightly. “I’m sorry, Makmoon, just give me a minute.”

“It’s fine, he’s just a little nervous.” Makmoon comes to stand next to him now. “It’s scary having someone you don’t know in the room, hm?”

When Jidwi doesn’t answer Makmoon hums. “How about we let your mommy take your blood pressure? Would that be easier?”

“Sunwoo . . .” Eomma’s voice sounds hesitant but he waves her off. 

“Huh? Would you prefer that?” 

Jidwi doesn’t want to have to take his shirt off at all, but he knows that either way that cuff is going around his arm. So, if this is the best compromise he can get, he’ll take it. At least now he won’t have a stranger touching him shirtless. Eomma’s changed him before, so it’s not like this can get any more embarrassing. He trusts her enough to allow her to take his blood pressure.

He nods.

“Okay, here you go,” Makmoon hands over the cuff and the pump to her and Appa slides his shirt off in one whole move. It’s cold in the exam room now, and he hopes that this will be over soon. 

Eomma straps the cuff around his left arm and once it’s fastened starts to pump. It pinches his arm for a good thirty seconds, maybe, before she’s nodding to herself and squeezes down on the pump. She rips the cuff off of him quickly. “115/60. That’s fine.”

“Yeah?” Makmoon writes it down. “Alright, that’s it. Um, I don’t think we’ll need to take blood today but, if Da-the doctor says we do, then we might have to. We have some butterflies for that but I know it takes longer. Is he needle-phobic . . . or . . . ?”

Eomma and Appa exchange looks before looking back at Jidwi and he almost laughs. They have no idea if he is or he isn’t. He isn’t but Jidwi is going to hold that information hostage. He doesn’t look up at them, instead fiddling with his fingers.

“Doesn’t matter if he is, if you need blood, you’ll take it. Go with your regular gauge size, he’ll be fine.” Eomma says and Makmoon makes a note of it. He flicks the file shut and stands, giving a polite nod.

“Alright. Da-the doctor, dang it, will be in shortly. If you guys need anything, just give me a yell.” 

“Sure thing,” Appa smiles. He doesn’t put Jidwi’s shirt back on, but hands him back Nana, and Jidwi immediately goes for squeezing her ears. He doesn’t want to meet the doctor but he hopes they came soon and fast and that he can get this over with. He doesn’t even want ice cream either; he just wants to go back home.



Chapter Text

The doctor is just what Jidwi pictures; an older man with a gentle smile wearing a white coat with a stethoscope around his shoulders. It’s cliche. But when he comes in he greets Eomma and Appa warmly and Appa even gives a deeper nod than usual. Jidwi doesn’t smile or nod, ignoring him completely, staring at him from the corner of his eye. He holds Nana by the ears, resisting the urge to bite down on one of them to ease his growing anxiety. Usually, they’d give him a pacifier, or something to soothe his oral fixation, but it’s been weeks since his pacifier and he currently has nothing. And he’s not going to suck his thumb.

“Good morning, Jidwi, I’m Doctor An. It’s very nice to meet you,” the doctor stands in front of him now and Jidwi barely looks up. His eyes flicker to the doctor’s face before he snaps them back down. He doesn’t even have to be polite; Appa’s going to make an excuse for him somehow.

“Sorry, he’s shy. And probably overwhelmed.”

Bingo.

“That’s alright,” the doctor gives a warm chuckle, extending his hands out to Jidwi as if he’s going to touch him. He doesn’t. “However, I’d like to listen to your heart and lungs. Can I do that?”

Jidwi sighs; he’s tired of people asking for his permission to do things they’re going to have to do anyway. And if he refuses, he’s just going to get in trouble. So, what’s the point of asking? They might as well just tie him up or drug him since he has no say in this anyway.

“Give him a moment. Jidwi, are you listening?”

Of course he is, how can he not be when they talk about him like he’s not even there? 

“It’s not going to hurt, I promise,” the doctor bends down to try and look him in the eye and Jidwi leans back. He knows it’s not going to hurt. He’s not an idiot. He’s been to the doctor before, only if it was once or twice. But he really just wants to go home, so he nods, letting the doctor finally touch him. He jerks as the stethoscope is a little cold and when the doctor laughs he huffs out a breath. “Just breathe deep for me. Like that. Perfect,”

The room is silent while Jidwi breathes and it settles him just a little. 

“Sunwoo said his blood pressure was a little low, is that normal for him?” 

“I think so.” Eomma answers. “He has a history of an active lifestyle so I’m not surprised,”

Jidwi’s eyes widen. A history of an active lifestyle? How did they know anything about his past? He’s starting to doubt this was random selection and starting to think that he was hand picked just for them. The thought is unsettling and he tries to push away from the doctor. 

“Easy, there, it’s alright,”

“He’s fine, Dad, just continue.”

Jidwi glances at her nervously. Dad? Surely, that wasn’t a nervous tick? Was the doctor really . . . ?

“He looks surprised. Did you not tell him?” Doctor An takes advantage of the moment to check Jidwi’s throat, pressing around with his fingers and Jidwi tries to pull back. He almost topples off the table and everyone in the room goes to grab him. 

“Careful, sweetie,” Eomma goes to stand behind him now, “I bet you’re really surprised, huh? I wanted to wait to introduce you but I guess that was . . . bad planning on my part.”

“It was,” Appa murmurs.

“Hey!”

Doctor An shushes the two of them and leans Jidwi forward a bit, running his fingers along his spine. “You two are going to be the death of me someday,”

“Only the good die young,” Appa laughs.

“Lean back, it’s okay. I’m going to look in your ears, now,” Doctor An ignores Appa’s comment and leans Jidwi’s head to the side. When Jidwi feels the auriscope enter his ear he freezes and Eomma immediately places her hands on his shoulders. She presses a gentle kiss to the side of his head. “Other ear. Hold still for me,”

“Good boy,” Eomma whispers so gently he barely hears it. 

“Good. Jidwi, can you open your mouth for me? So I can check your throat?” 

Jidwi presses his lips together firmly for a moment, needing to find the emotional energy to continue. A gentle squeeze of the shoulders from Eomma is encouragement enough and he opens his mouth. He doesn’t say “ah” when he’s asked to but Doctor An decides that it’s enough and finally he puts the auriscope away. 

“Alright, everything looks okay up there. I’m going to check his reflexes next so if you two could help, that would be greatly appreciated,” he barely rummages through a drawer for the reflex hammer and Jidwi frowns. He thought it was almost over. How much longer was this going to take? 

“I bet your parents didn’t tell you about me yet because they’re nervous about your reaction to having such a big family, hm? But you should forgive them, because we really don’t bite. You don’t have to call me grandpa or anything, it would make me feel old. But I’m glad I finally get to see you,” Doctor An is speaking to Jidwi directly now, rolling over on his stool, “we’ve heard a lot about you Jidwi, and we care about you very much.”

“Of course,” Eomma says, “everyone loves you, sweetie.”

Jidwi isn’t happy to hear this. Doctor An is rolling up his pant legs, and Jidwi lets him. He’s tired of fighting them. It seems that every day there’s going to be a new surprise they just throw at him and he’s not sure he can dodge anymore. 

The hammer to the knee takes only a few seconds for each knee and when he’s done, they’re forcing him to lie down. He complies and lets the doctor stretch his leg back and forward, rolling his ankles in his hand. “How much has he been walking?”

“Not much,”

“Any pain or discomfort in the legs you’ve noticed?”

“If there has been, he hasn’t said anything,” Eomma looks down at him, “sweetie, do your legs feel funny at all? Do they hurt?”

They don’t and Jidwi isn’t going to lie about it because god knows what they’ll do to him if he does. He shakes his head. Of course his legs are going to be weaker if he’s not walking and running around like he has been for over the last two decades but that’s normal. It’s not worth mentioning. And Doctor An seems to know that. 

“I’d like to check his eyes, so Ahro, if you could hold him,” Doctor An goes back to the counters and Jidwi tries to peek over his shoulder. He spots the ophthalmoscope and blinks. Why did he need to be held for this? 

He quickly realizes why when Doctor An is pressing his fingers over Jidwi’s temple to hold his eye open and it immediately waters under the light and he’s pressing back into Eomma unintentionally. God, has it always been that awful? “Look up for me, Jidwi. Look up. Good, just like that. Can you look to the side now?”

Tears are running down Jidwi’s eyes now but he does his best to look to the side. He hands Eomma a tissue to wipe his eyes before continuing to the next one and Jidwi tells himself it’s only a little while longer before they can leave. He tells himself he needs to try and escape while Eomma is wiping down his eyes. He really does. 

“I know that wasn’t pleasant but thank you for cooperating with me.” Doctor An puts the ophthalmoscope away. When he doesn’t grab anything else, Jidwi takes a breath of relief. “Do you think he’d be able to give a urine sample?”

This is never gonna end, is it?  

“I’m not sure . . . Jidwi, honey, do you think you can go potty for me if I ask?” Eomma asks, and he immediately shakes his head. He’s not sure what giving a urine sample will entail. There’s a chance he might be able to use the toilet by himself, which would be nice. But there’s also the chance they might make him piss in front of them and while he hates wearing diapers, he’s unable to pee in front of anyone. It would just be borderline torment. It’s humiliating and makes him feel gross and he refuses. “I guess not.”

“It’s fine. We’re taking blood so it’s not really vital,”

“If that’s it then, I’d like to ask about the message I gave you the other day?” Eomma’s voice changes in an instant, becoming less babyish and more professional. Doctor An nods and gives the both of them a smile.

“Right. I’m going to do a whole lab on that and you’ll see the results as soon as they come in. Give it a few hours. As for counseling, have you decided which route you want to take?”

Counseling? Was that a code word they’re using or do they actually expect Jidwi to go to therapy? He’s never been to therapy in his life, despite probably needing it, but if there’s anyone in this awful town who thinks they’re going to help him while he’s taken hostage then they’re shit out of luck.

“We think that it’s a smart route for a little later down the road. But we’re definitely interested,” Appa confirms. 

“Right. I’ll keep in touch about it, then. I’ll go tell Sunwoo to get ready and then you’re all set,” Doctor An stands, giving Eomma a side hug. He bends down again and ruffles Jidwi’s hair. “It was nice meeting you. I’ll see you again soon outside of the office.”

Jidwi doesn’t say anything. When Eomma asks him to say goodbye he just stuffs his fist in his mouth and decides that it’s good enough to keep him satiated without looking childish. But when the whole room laughs at him, he takes it out of his mouth in a fit. He’s tired, he’s still not wearing his shirt, and he just wants something to suck on. 

“Hey, do you have his pacifier? I think he needs it,” 

Appa unzips a pocket in the front of the bag, holding one out for Eomma. He gives a Jidwi a look when he starts to shake his head. “Jidwi, don’t you want your pacifier? It’ll help.”

No, no, it won’t. It’ll just play into their fantasy and the fantasy of everyone around them in thinking that he’s a baby. And after the discovery of his fantasy uncle and fantasy grandpa, he can’t play their games anymore. He clamps his mouth shut when they try to slide the pacifier between his lips. 

“Okay, no pacifier then.”

The door opens with a bang and Jidwi jumps. Makmoon is pushing a tray and stops to give him a grin before closing the door behind him with a foot. “Everything okay in here?”

“It’s fine,”

“Well, just need to take some samples and then you’re good to go. Okay?” Makmoon directs the last part at him with a silly smile. He’s wearing gloves and scribbling on labels that he attaches to three different test tubes. When he’s done with that, he’s grabbing a band and asking Jidwi to ball his hand into a fist which he has no problem doing. He fights his urge to throw a fit and give them a hard time because he doesn’t want to prolong this any longer. 

“There’s going to be a pinch but it’ll only be for a few seconds,” Makmoon is working on the needle now, speaking in a sing-song voice. “Ahro, hold him, please,”

Jidwi feels her hug him from behind once they stick the needle into his vein and he’s glad because it’s so uncomfortable . It doesn’t necessarily hurt too much but he can feel the needle intruding and it feels much too present and weird and he really wants to rip it out. Makmoon undoes the band on his arm and waits for the little tube to fill before switching it to the next one.

“You’re doing so well, baby, just a little more.” Appa is praising him from the side now, probably sensing his extreme discomfort, and Eomma is smushing her cheek against his head while holding him still. 

“Just one more. He’s really good, huh?” Makmoon switches the last tube. 

“He is. He’s a very good boy,” Appa’s babying him now and Jidwi grits his teeth. Once the needle is out Makmoon is pressing down with a cotton swab and sticking a bright green bandaid onto his arm. 

“Perfect! You’re done! You were so good today,” he’s packing up the tray now, “I’ll get these to--wait, Ahro did Dad tell you--yeah, he did, okay. You’ll get the results, soon, I promise. But he looks fine,”

Jidwi wants to know why they’re asking for his blood results so impatiently but then he remembers how many times he’s been drugged in the last few weeks. So, that’s probably it. They probably want to make sure they haven’t hurt him. He knows that it’s not a real drug, it’s something organic or holistic or something he’s heard the term of here and there, but he can only assume that’s why. At least, he hopes that’s why. 

Makmoon washes his hands and changes his gloves while Appa gets him dressed again. He offers Jidwi a lollipop but only giggles when he doesn’t take it. He’s not going to literally take candy from a stranger. 

“I think he’s the first baby to not want candy. Wow.”

“I don’t think he needs it, but I’ll take it, thanks,” Appa takes the lollipop and sticks it into the pocket of his bag. “I think that a lollipop is enough sugar. Let’s get you home, huh?”

Jidwi nods, allowing himself to be picked up and carried out of the room. He never wants to come back here.



Chapter Text

Suho loves Banryu.

He says this all the time; to anyone who listens, makes off-hand comments about it, whispers it to Banryu when he’s napping or when he puts him to bed at night. But it’s a weird feeling inside his chest sometimes that threatens to have his heart burst. Not only does he love him but he’s whipped for him. He’s been whipped for him since the beginning, since he wanted to grab him and throw him over his knee in college. He’s always had a weird soft spot for Banryu but at least now he knows why. It’s all worked out according to his plan and he’s justified every move he’s made up until now. Given, not everything is always smooth, not everything is sunshine and rainbows, but as Suho’s cradling a sleeping Banryu in his lap, he thinks to himself that he wouldn’t have it any other way and thank god for that day in April. 

Banryu is sitting backwards on his lap, his chin resting on Suho’s shoulder, and he’s in such a deep sleep that he’s not reacting to Suho’s humming. He doesn’t react when he’s shifted closer or when Suho rests his cheek atop his head. Banryu’s hair is so soft and silky and smells like his fruity shampoo and Suho just takes a deep breath. Sometimes when he’s like this he thinks back to his college years. Those years had been cut short for Banryu but he knows just how much better he’s doing now. He doesn’t need college. He has Suho.

 

 

Banryu had been . . . angry, to say the least. He had a lot of anger built up inside him that no one could really see and Suho thinks that it was possible Banryu himself had not even known about the resentment and frustration bubbling up inside of him. He was much too competitive to not be considered a perfectionist and too power hungry, so much so that it tormented Suho. Tormented him because he was always stuck in the middle of Banryu’s wrath but also saddened him because Banryu really just needed a friend, and a good therapist. 

Never in his life did Kim Suho think that he’d be swirling around a love-hate dynamic during his final year of his masters. He considered himself a responsible millennial but there was something about Park Banryu, captain of the soccer team, the son of some up and coming politician that just drove him up the wall. It was everything about him that drove him up the wall. It was the dirty looks he threw him, like he was better than Suho, the lack of formal speech, the excessive partying, Banryu’s tiny temper tantrums; all of it made his head swim. He didn’t hate Banryu, he felt for him, but the more he reached out the worse he made it. Banryu didn’t want his help (Suho knew he needed help but he would never admit it). And what really made Suho feel worse was the odd sense of pride he got from Banryu. Every time he scored a goal or did something good for himself or, hell, even when he responded to Suho without a biting remark or a roll of the eyes. He always let Banryu know that he was there for him whenever he’d need it that he wasn’t going to use that against him. That he wasn’t weak . And he knew Banryu hated him for it, but he just couldn’t help it. 

He just didn’t know how much of an influence he’d had over Banryu, until he showed up on his door-step late at night, too drunk to keep anything down anymore. Both food and his feelings. It was the first time Suho had ever seen him that shit-faced, but it wouldn’t be the last. Not by a long shot.

Suho remembers it because it had been somewhat of a remarkable memory for him. He’d been on his couch in his tiny apartment, working on fixing a laptop a freshman had paid him for, when the excessive knocking began. With the force of it, he thought maybe it had been the police or someone in trouble but when he swung the door open he just froze.

Drunk Banryu was much meaner than Sober Banryu. 

He was immediately greeted with a shove and if it weren’t for the fact Suho had been bracing himself for something, Banryu would’ve toppled over onto him. 

“Whoa, okay, uh, hey buddy, what are you doing here?” Suho held him by the shoulders to steady him and Banryu slapped his hands off of him with such precision that Suho was impressed. He may’ve been walked in zig zags but he still had good aim. 

“I’m not your buddy . . . I’m'n't--you’re jus' . . .”

“Banryu? How much have you had to drink?” Suho pushed his hair back to get a good look at his eyes, unfocused, dilated. He smelled like cheap beer mixed with something fruit, with just a hint of body odor. He had probably just came from one of the college parties he attended, that Suho usually skipped out on. “Did you take anything else?”

“Fuck off,”

“I need to know in case you die on my living room floor,”

“ 'M not weak,” he breathed out, grabbing Suho’s wrist. “Don’t act like I am.”

“I never said that,” Suho frowned, “I’m just trying to make sure you don’t have alcohol poisoning. You reek of it.”

“Yes, you did, you did and I know th-tha's what you think, what you think of me,” his speech slurred but Banryu was trying to speak as sharply as he could, face screwed up in vexation, and Suho tried not to coo at him. “You’re alw-you stare at me. You watch me. You act like you’re smarter and better and--fuck, I don’t know, smarter than I am”--

“You already said smart”--

“See? And you look down at me like 'm some dumb pity party you’re the mayor of and I’m sick of it and I’m sick of you and if you look at me ever again I’m going to beat t-the shit out of you .”

“Okay, well, that metaphor made no sense but I can tell you’re really upset and very drunk, so please just . . . Banryu let me help you sit down--Banryu, stop!” Suho tried to grab him to get him to sit down but Banryu just slapped him away, stepping on his foot, trying his best to get out of his reach. Suho grabbed his face. “Banryu, I swear to god, please let me help you,”

Suho reeled when Banryu spit in his face. He saw red for a minute, wiping his face off to get ready and just punch Banryu in the nose because he probably deserved it at this point, but he stopped when he noticed the tears streaking down his cheeks. His anger deflated inside of him, replaced with guilt. 

“Hey, what”--

Banryu wiped the tears away with the sleeve of his hoodie. “Jus’ cause you’re older doesn’t mean you’re better than me. No one’s better than me,”

Suho sighed. “No one is acting like they are, Banryu, life isn’t a competition. If you just compare yourself to people you’re never going to be happy,”

“I’ve never been happy so who cares,” Banryu let Suho sit him down now and he leaned against the older, giggling to himself while he cried, “everyone hates me, and I hate everyone, and I hate you but you . . . keep--you jus' keep botherin' me. Why? Why don’t you leave me alone? I hate you ,”

“Well, I don’t hate you. You need some help, Banryu, and that’s okay,” Suho patted his face, jerking back when Banryu tried to bite him. 

“M’not dumb and weak and I don’ need your help. ‘Kay?”

Suso literally cringed in pain. “Who says these things? Do you think maybe it's anxiety talking? It's okay if you feel like these things are true but I can reassure you that I don't think you're weak.”

Banryu looked up at him with red, watery eyes, licking the corner of his mouth, “everybody talks. Say how you look at me . . . and you always . . . do that thing, makes me mad.”

Banryu’s speech was beginning to deteriorate and Suho was barely hanging on to understanding him. “Do what thing?”

“With your words, be all nice and shit, hate it. Treat me like a dumb kid . You’r-you’re not much older. Hag.”

Suho snorted and wrapped an arm around Banryu, pulling his closer. “I don’t. I just want you to know I’m here for you. You don’t seem to have very nice friends, Banryu,”

Banryu was fully crying now; his nose running, tears spilling from his eyes, his pale cheeks reddening and Suho offered him a tissue he didn’t take. 

“Fuck do you know,”

“Everyone can see how fake your friends are. I know it’s hard; you’re in college, you have parents to please, you’re captain of”--

“Mmm, you don’ know, you don’ know,” Banryu leaned against him now, breathing through his mouth, sniffling, “why d'you treat me this way?”

“I’m not sure what you’re asking, hun,” Suho tried to sit him up. 

“Like, the way you do,. Jus' tell me you think I'mmm . . .” 

Banryu didn't finish his sentence but looked at Suho for the first time in a very long time. Actually looked at him. He didn't look him up and down and he wasn't sizing him up, just stared, waiting for a response. His eyes were clear despite being glossy and he looked straight into Suho’s eyes. Suho bit down on his lip. He denied treating Banryu the way he did but if he was saying he didn’t feel bad for Banryu in that moment he’d be lying . He did feel bad. Felt bad for him. But he decided that maybe Banryu was asking him to feel bad with him. He’d come to his apartment under the guise of threatening him but Suho thought maybe he was just seeking out comfort. He could’ve gone back to any of his teammate’s places, could’ve slept in the bathtub of the house that had thrown the party. He could’ve just gone home . Maybe he really did mean to beat Suho to a pulp. Or maybe he just wanted to lean on his shoulder while he cried. Suho really didn’t know.

Suho let him cry silently, rubbing the back of his head. He wasn’t really sure where to go from there. But he knew that it was hard; Banryu was a rich kid, surrounded by other fellow rich kids, with their rich kids problems, disappointing their parents no matter what they did, hating his friends, maybe even disappointing himself. He had to be perfect, and if Suho was right about his upbringing, perfect wasn’t good enough. He needed to be better than everyone else because that was the only way to win affection. He had to put others down because he probably didn’t have such high self-confidence, and he faked it til he made it.

Despite being a confusing drunk, Banryu was easy to read. 

“So, are you still going to beat me up?” Suho asked. Banryu mumbled something, face still tucked into Suho’s shoulder. “Okay, bud, just relax. You’re okay, you’re with me, you’re safe. Not like I’d hurt you, but my apartment is a safe space, okay? It's safe here. You can cry or be whoever you are or whatever you want. Just, try not to throw up on me, okay?”

Banryu groaned.

“And you’re not weak. No one thinks that. I mean, you gotta be strong to get really drunk and walk all the way here for some comfort right? Okay, not the time to joke, but I’m serious. It takes guts to ask for help. That’s what you’re doing, right? Asking me for help?”

“No.”

“Then what do you want? Comfort? Advice? Just someone to”--

“Jus’ s-stop talkin’,”

“Got it,” Suho whispered to himself. He let Banryu be for a few minutes, watching him start to fall asleep. For the first time since he’d ever laid eyes on him on the soccer field, he looked to be at peace.



Chapter Text

Hey folks, the one shots collection is up so if you have any requests you want me to write please let me know! Send me a message on cc or twt! Here's the link

https://archiveofourown.org/works/20728799/chapters/49247342

Chapter Text

The following day after the doctor’s visit (the grandpa visit?) the two caregivers tried to spoil Jidwi. He certainly didn’t feel spoiled, but he knew then that the ball was in his court. They fed him rice cakes and didn’t yell at him when he fussed in his high chair, and he didn’t refuse when given a small piece of fish cake. He didn’t like that Appa had hand fed him a few pieces but he endured for anything fried. It was only a few pieces though because after Eomma had taken the dish from Appa, scolding him about fried foods and how they would hurt his stomach. But the fish hadn’t hurt him at all. 

Eomma spends time with him on the rug while Appa works, holding him close to lean against her. She’s cutting out leaves from construction paper, using children’s safety scissors, cutting along the big, bold dotted lines. 

“It’s going to be fall soon. And then we’ll hang these around the house, and maybe make a wreath for the door. Does that sound nice?”

Jidwi doesn’t answer, just letting her trap him while she cuts leaves around his body. He’s a little sleepy but not enough to drift off right now. But her talking in his ear definitely doesn’t help. 

“Eomma has developed a pinterest obsession,” Appa comments from the couch.

“I think I’d like a country look for the house, hm?” She rubs Jidwi’s tummy playfully and he quickly tries to jerk away. He’s too tired for her shenanigans, so he whines in a grouchy tone and she laughs. After kissing his cheek she begins to cut the leaves again. 

“I think that they would look nice with some glitter around the edges--don’t give me that look”--

“We have too much glitter!” Appa whines. “How much more will you use? It’s bad for the environment, you know”--

“I was just making a suggestion!” She hisses, “don’t be so loud, you’re going to put the baby in a bad mood. Jeez, Appa always tries to ruin my fun.”

She whispers softly in his ear now and Jidwi could laugh’ they sound so much like an old married couple fighting over their actual child. Eomma gently leans back to allow Jidwi to lean against her now. “I think that the leaves should be decorated at least. Maybe, we can hunt some acorns together? Would you like that?”

She’s asking him to go outside? Jidwi thinks about it while she alternates between stroking his hair and cutting out more paper leaves. He watches Appa through unfocused eyes as he types on his computer, frowning, muttering to himself. It’s not the usual busy poker face he wears.

“Ahro; I think that Thursday is non-negotiable for us. I even got a call from Suho and Dansae-hyung, and I’ve received their emails. Would you be okay with that?” 

“Oh, the meeting? It’ll be fine. I can have Sunwoo cover for me and rearrange my schedule. It’s only two days,” her hands are playing with his hair now, “besides, maybe then Jidwi and I can have a playdate! We can see if Banryu wants to stay over then, since Suho has to go in as well. Huh, Jidwi? Do you want to see your cousin again?”

Jidwi would not like to see Banryu again. But the topic they’re discussing sounds interesting enough and beneficial to him so he listens closely. A meeting, in which Appa has to be gone for two days? It’s perfect . He can find a way to figure out the alarm code so he can escape. And if only Eomma is home, then he doesn’t need to worry about them teaming up against him. A small wave of excitement hits him as the continue to talk over his head as if he’s not even there.

“If you can handle it, sure. I’ll give him a call. But right now they need me in, so I don’t think I can get out of this one.”

“Just go, it’s two days. Is it at the same place?”

“Yes. It seems to be.” Appa is scrolling through his laptop and reading. Eomma coos in excitement.

“Then, steal me some of the fancy hotel chocolates! Make the best of it while you’re there!” 

"I will," he chuckles.

"I love you."

Jidwi’s eyes focus in on Appa’s now and he jostles when Appa slides off the couch to crawl over to him. He’s been caught. He tries to hide his face in Eomma’s blouse but he can’t fully turn with her legs on either side of him.

“Jidwi, baby, come here. Come to Appa.” Appa sits with his legs out, holding out his hands, but Jidwi ignores him in favor of hiding half his face. His cheek is smushed into Eomma’s shoulder and she laughs out loud.

“He doesn’t want you,”

“Why are you so mean today?” Appa is obviously talking to his wife, using his regular, deep, ‘grown-up’ voice. Jidwi hates that. “Jidwi, we need to tell you something. Are you listening?”

“He’s listening,” Eomma tries to move him again, “baby, can you sit up? We need to talk about Appa taking a small trip for two days. It’s very important.”

Jidwi sits up a little, ready to finally hear the good news himself. He can do this. He’s definitely going to use this opportunity to get out of here, once and for all. 

“Good boy,” Appa comes closer to touch his cheek, rubbing circles soothingly with his thumb, “Appa needs to have an important business meeting with some of his employees. It’s going to take place at a two day event a couple hours away from here. That means I’ll be gone Thursday during the day and Friday during the day, and I’ll come back Friday night or Saturday morning. That’s two days and one sleep. You’ll be with Eomma the entire time, okay?”

“Okay,” Jidwi’s voice is so gentle that it surprises him. 

When Appa praises him and presses their noses together, Jidwi doesn’t fight him. He knows that in 72 hours he’s going to be leaving so he doesn’t mind it. It’s like a wave of relief washes over him and everything that’s been weighing down on his chest lightens. He never has to see them again; he’s going to escape and move far away and never have another bath or another playdate. He’s no longer going to wake up to them patting his head and he’s going to use the bathroom himself and eat real food and, god , maybe he’ll even drink alcohol and listen to bad club music and sleep on a couch and not a crib or a foam playmat. He almost can’t wait. Thinking of all the things he can do once he has his freedom back is the first taste he’s getting and he’s almost buzzed from it.

He’s so excited to leave them.









Chapter Text

Jidwi’s excitement for Thursday vanishes the next morning when he’s woken up early and realizes that because the meeting is so close, the two caretakers work schedules are going to be hectic. He immediately knows something is going on when he’s woken up, a little before when he would normally rouse from sleep on his own. Appa is petting his head awake, shushing him every now and then calmly. “Hey, baby, it’s time to get up.”

Jidwi slowly opens one eye, peering up at Appa who’s smiling a little too widely. Something’s wrong. He knows it. “Mm?”

“You have to get up, sweetheart. I have to talk to you. Okay?”

This wakes him up a little more and he allows himself to be lifted up almost immediately. When Appa places him on the changing table he writhes around to express his displeasure but Appa immediately places a hand on his stomach to hold him down while tugging down his sleep pants with one hand. Yeah. Something’s definitely up.

“Sto-stop”--

“Jidwi. I’m not going to ask you more than once to keep still. I need to get you changed, dressed and fed before we drop you off at Uncle Suho’s today. Eomma’s gone to work due to a last minute call and Appa needs to be in his office today. I know this is sudden, and it’s a lot first thing in the morning. I’m sorry about that. But I need you to be good for me, okay?”

Appa’s trying to change him as fast as he can and Jidwi at least appreciates that. But the fact he didn’t even realize he peed himself in the middle of the night is really toeing the line for an emotional outburst and Jidwi isn’t sure where to channel that energy. It’s like Appa has a sense for these things, because as he wiping Jidwi down he pops the pacifier into his mouth before Jidwi can say or do anything he’ll regret. Jidwi takes a deep breath and lets Appa change him into a dry diaper before immediately pulling sweatpants onto him. He tells himself to relax, that it’s only a few more days of this nonsense, and then he can escape . He barely glances down at the pants he’s wearing before Appa has his shirt off and he’s pulling on a sweater to match.

“Alright, let’s get your bag and then we’ll give you a bottle for the car ride. How’s that sound?”

Jidwi just hums in response, as Appa’s pulling him onto his hip, grabbing his day bag with his other hand. He’s never seen the man juggle too many things like this at once and he almost seems like he’s a little bit of a mess, but he’s coping. It takes him a lot longer to make the bottle with one hand but soon enough he’s shaking it while toddling towards the car with Jidwi, his bag, and his keys in tow, and Jidwi really has to hand it to him, he’s got this down . He tells Jidwi to hold his own bottle like a good boy, and Jidwi does, because he knows this is the only food he’s getting for breakfast. He’s used to it by now. 

The car ride over is quiet and it doesn’t take too long. He’s almost finished with his bottle by the time they’re pulling into the driveway. It’s maybe a ten minute ride which doesn’t really surprise Jidwi. Of course Suho lives close; they’re family after all, right? And they’re all kidnappers, so of course they need to stick to their tight knit community.

He doesn’t fight Appa when he pulls him up and out of the carseat, or when he grabs his bag. He’s still holding his own bottle. Appa barely has time to knock before the door is immediately yanked open and Jidwi is met with a . . . mess of a Suho. That’s the only way he can describe it. Suho’s wearing a tired smile on his face, hair askew with a dangerous version of bedhead, still in flannel pants and a sweater that has . . . something on it. Jidwi would guess it’s oatmeal. It doesn’t really look like puke and he hopes it’s not, especially since he feels Appa trying to hand him over. Suho gives him a small “hi, baby,” before taking the bag from Appa and placing it on the side table. He then reaches for Jidwi, whose brain short circuits as he clings around Appa’s neck in a panic. He wasn’t thinking. He just didn’t want to be picked up.

Two more days, two more days--

“Jidwi,” Appa’s voice is tired but he tries to sound patient, “Appa needs to go to work now. You’re going to have a lot of fun with your cousin, right? We’ll be back before you know it. I love you so much, okay?” he kisses Jidwi’s head and transfers him into Suho’s arms, giving him one last kiss on the cheek. “We’ll be back very soon, okay? Don’t be scared. You’re alright,”

It’s not that he’s scared, it’s that for some reason, this is leaving a bad taste in his mouth. He’s being tossed around like a hot potato and he’s barely even awake enough for this. “You’re fine,” Suho breathes, rocking him gently.

“Thanks again for doing this so last minute. I know you told me about Banryu and I’m sorry that”--

“Nah, he’s fine. You know this angel is always welcome, huh?” Suho says the last bit in a gross cooish baby voice, before switching back to his ‘grown up voice’. “Besides, it might help to have him around. Banryu could use some company.”

“Right. So. Um. Everything he needs is in his day bag, I packed some random snacks--I kind of just grabbed stuff--he sometimes naps at noon for thirty minutes but not anymore because he won’t sleep at night, he’s got his toys in the bag, don’t give him any juice because we haven’t yet and I don’t know how he’ll react, he has extra everything in the bag but if he needs”--

“I got it. Dude, go. Before you’re late,” Suho laughs and Appa nods, finally allowing himself to look weary. “We’ll be fine. And you can shoot me a test or an email,”

“Alright. Goodbye. Jidwi, be good for me, okay? I love you so much,”

Appa kisses him again on the side of the head near his ear(he’s not really aiming the kisses anymore, Jidwi thinks) and before Jidwi blinks he’s off and Suho is shutting the door behind him. He bounces him a couple times before making his way to the living room. Jidwi starts drinking his bottle again, too tired and hungry to be embarrassed by it. He’s already in the arms of a stranger, who has his own captive-baby. He can’t sink much lower than this. 

“Banryu. Look who’s here,” Suho announces in a playful sing-song voice. Jidwi stares down to the plush maroon carpet where Banryu is lying in the middle of the floor, arms crossed, like an actual toddler. His eyes look red and puffy like he’s been crying a good amount and he’s still in his pajamas, so Jidwi suspects this is something he’s woken up to. He’s not one to judge. The amount of times he’s woken up screaming or crying or heck, even because he’s wet himself once or twice leaves him no room to be allowed to judge his fake-cousin, maybe-friend. Banryu glances at them but he doesn’t move. He doesn’t really . . . look great. His hair, like Suho’s, clearly hasn’t been brushed and he seems lethargic. There’s a weird look in his eyes Jidwi recognizes and he guesses that Banryu must be burnt out

“Is . . .” Jidwi lets part of the question slip out before he can stop himself. Suho looks at him for a moment.

“It’s okay, everything’s alright. Sometimes, Banryu has a lot of emotions he doesn’t know how to properly express, and he gets overwhelmed. That’s all this is. It’s something we’re still working on every day, aren’t we?”

Banryu doesn’t contribute to the conversation but Jidwi feels a small amount of guilt for being here, intruding on this moment. He knows what it’s like to have people intrude during a time where he needs privacy. He doesn’t like that he’s doing that to Banryu, even if he hasn’t been given a choice. 

“I think that we need to all sit down and take a breather. Yeah?” 

He sets Jidwi on the floor several feet away from Banryu, before he sits down next to Jidwi. Everything is quiet and it’s a little unsettling. “Jidwi, go ahead and finish your bottle, it’s okay,”

Jidwi’s too nervous to think about that now. He watches Suho crawl his way over to Banryu, whispering softly to him. Banryu shakes his head at something that Suho says. Suho just places a hand on his tummy and rubs it for a few moments. He says something else now. Jidwi tries not to watch or listen but he can’t really help it. It’s different when you’re an outsider looking in. Watching from another perspective . . . is weird. Is that what he looks like? He knows how Banryu feels, but yet, he doesn’t really . He barely knows Banryu, or why he’s here, or why Suho ‘chose’ him, or even how long he’s been here. Is he here willingly? Was he kidnapped like Jidwi? Was everything about him an act, or was it real?

This, Jidwi thinks, looks too real to be an act. 

Then, he feels really bad about it. 

“Banryu, can you sit up now? I’d like you to try and sit up for me,” Suho’s voice is low and gentle and he’s still rubbing Banryu’s stomach. Banryu shakes his head. He catches a glimpse of Jidwi but he looks away, obviously ignoring him. Suho doesn’t seem to notice. “Banryu, your cousin is here. Don’t you want to say hi?”

“No thank you,” his voice is soft and shaky and his nose sounds clogged. Suho leans over and kisses his forehead, whispering something that Banryu nods to. Suho grins then.

“Okay, Jidwi. Your Appa tells me you’re allowed to watch movies. Did you want to watch a movie while you finish breakfast?” Suho gets up and heads towards the television, the stand hosting a pile of DVD’s and VHS tapes. Jidwi hasn’t seen anything in VHS in a hot minute.

Jidwi decides a polite shrug is the way to go. Suho giggles at him before shuffling expertly through their movie selection. When Jidwi spots the familiar red face, he makes a noise.

“Ummm, please just . . . no Elmo,”

“No Elmo?” Suho raises his brows, obviously confused, but accepts the statement without judgment or laughter. “Okay, no Elmo, that’s fine. We have Pororo; do you like Pororo?”

Jidwi nods this time; Pororo is a safe bet. He’s not planning on actually watching it but it’s much better than the possible shrill vocals of Elmo. He’s too focused on his guilt for Banryu to really pay much attention to anything but the floor. He holds his bottle, observing the contents, the lines and ridges of the raised plastic, his name scribbled onto the side in a decorative fashion. Eomma really did have a pinterest obsession. 

Maybe it’s the sudden switch of environment he finds himself in but he allows himself to lie down to drink his bottle, hoping that somehow he’ll drift off beside his cousin. Banryu still is paying him no mind. Suho sits between them, speaking soft words of encouragement to them both. Jidwi is quiet but he hopes that Banryu knows what his actions say, and hopes that Banryu realizes what he wants to tell him. That he’s here, and he gets it.

Banryu never looks his way.

Chapter Text

Hello everyone, it's autumnacorns here! I've decided to continue this pic on anonymous despite the fact I'd like for it to come OFF anonymous.

 

However, I also made a separate works for Banryu's stories so I don't clog Jidwi's story! And that isn't anonymous, but it's still me, don't worry no one is stealing my works lmao.

 

That being said, I've decided that all the positive feedback and reactions from you have helped me ease my mind a lot and so that I will no longer be publishing the rest of the stories under anonymous! It's a lot of work.

 

But I do plan on writing for this storyline for a long while and some people have even asked me for Banryu's individual story in addition to the one shots so I'm considering! But please note to all my banryu lovers, his new works are here:

 

https://archiveofourown.org/works/20916851/chapters/49725236


Thank you!!!!

Edit: IT DELETED ALL YOUR WONDERFUL COMMENTS NOOOOOOO forgIVE ME

Chapter Text

Jidwi isn’t sure when he’d drifted off, but it’s only for a few minutes before he’s awoken by screaming, and the sound of something being thrown. It’s not really a smash or a shatter--maybe a clatter? He’s not sure. It takes him a good minute to remember where he is; on the floor of the living room in Suho’s house. He must’ve fallen asleep watching Pororo. He doesn’t really remember when he fell asleep, but the show is still going, so it must not have been for long. He does know, though, that the scream is Banryu. And that the voice he barely hears is Suho. He doesn’t really understand the words coming from either one of them, but Banryu’s voice is louder and shriller and he’s speaking in a dialect Jidwi can’t quite catch. But he knows by the tone and the pitch that he’s probably using a few select words that probably aren’t sitting well with Suho.

Jidwi keeps his eyes shut just in case, listening harder now. He hears Suho’s heavy footsteps in the kitchen, rounding to another side of the house. He’s going up the stairs now. Maybe he’s taking Banryu to his room. God, he hopes so. Banryu in a calm state of emotion was hard for him to be around, he can’t imagine being around screaming Banryu. 

He hears some slams from upstairs and he flinches. A couple more vocal protests and Suho’s saying something in his deep voice. It’s quieter now. He thinks Banryu’s crying. 

A couple minutes go by before Suho’s footsteps come back and into the living room. Jidwi pretends to be asleep in order to . . . protect Banryu’s dignity? Save himself from an explanation? He’s not sure. Even if Suho knows he’s faking, he doesn’t hear him say anything or wake him up, and he hears Suho cross the living room. Maybe he’s sitting on the couch now. Jidwi keeps his eyes closed. He thinks of Banryu still as he drifts off once again. 

              ✨         ✨         ✨

The second time Jidwi wakes up, he’s sweating. He’s not sure why but it’s uncomfortable and he wipes at his face with the back of his hand. Ew. He feels gross now. 

“Are you awake?”

Suho’s voice carries over from the other side of the room and Jidwi tilts his head upside down to find him. Suho is sitting in the corner with Banryu, who’s in a new set of pajamas now, hair brushed and braided neatly out of his face. Suho’s shirt is changed, and his hair looks neater, but not really brushed. He probably combed his fingers through it. 

“Good morning. Did you want to join your cousin?” Suho strolls over to him and lifts him up by his armpits. Jidwi whines.

“Okay, grumpy. Don’t you want to play blocks with your cousin?”

He bounces Jidwi for a moment. Jidwi nods. Anything to get out of his grasp. He’s placed onto the floor across from Banryu who looks up at him with a much softer look in his eyes. He looks a little sad, still, quiet. The type of quiet look when someone’s afraid of what the other is going to say. Jidwi knows that look all too well. 

“Here,” Banryu hands him a foam block and Jidwi takes it. He’s too mesmerized by his cousin’s face to pay attention to Suho snapping shots of them on his phone. He’ll save that for later to antagonize himself over. Right now, he kind of wants to be nice to Banryu. 

“Banryu, play nice with Jidwi while Daddy goes to finish up lunch, okay? I’m right in the other room if you need me. Come get me for anything,” he ruffles Jidwi’s hair and places a hand on Banryu’s cheek before leaving the room. Jidwi exhales out and tries to say what’s on his mind. 

“Um . . . a-about before. Sorry,”

“For what?” Banryu narrows his eyes and Jidwi feels his skin heat up. Oh no.

“I feel like I was, you know, intruding.”

“You’re not. Sorry you had to see that,” Banryu is stacking his blocks neatly now, before knocking them over. His voice is quiet and no longer has a cutting edge to it. “But I’m not sorry that it happened.”

“Huh?”

“I can’t really . . . control it. Panic attacks and all that.”

Panic attacks? That was a panic attack ? Jidwi is a little surprised but he does his best not to show it. He knows anxiety isn’t just rocking back and forth hyperventilating or crying. He knows anxiety is sometimes . . . smashing mirrors or punching holes in the wall or feelings of numbness and being out of your body. So, yeah, it was probably a panic attack. Banryu’s panic attack makes a lot of sense to him now. Banryu isn’t mean, he’s in control. He’s trying to be. He’s learning to be, just like Suho said before. Banryu isn’t mean, he’s just anxious. 

Maybe Jidwi’s misjudged his cousin.

“Why are you staring at me ?” Banryu snaps. Jidwi tries to think of a way to deflate the situation before Banryu’s screaming again. 

“Sorry! It’s just . . . I get it. It’s okay, it’s okay,” Jidwi breathes, “you’re okay.”

Banryu just nods, his eyes no longer focused on anything but the floor. Jidwi takes a block from him and just observes it. It’s wooden, all the sides a different elementary color. There’s some foam blocks mixed in as well but this one fits right in Jidwi’s hand, the weight rough and sturdy. If he threw it it could cause some serious damage. He chooses to stack it on top of the other block now and pretend to play with his cousin. Banryu isn’t all that bad.

They play with the blocks for a while, Jidwi trying to make some sort of four point tower, fitting the blocks together whichever way they can go. Banryu helps him, tapping his blocks into place, taking them out when it looks like they’ll fall and Jidwi doesn’t complain. He’s not having fun he tells himself but it’s nice to finally get along with someone who understands what he’s going through.

And as if that wasn’t a reminder, Suho finally reappears to let them know it’s time for lunch and before Jidwi can react he’s being picked up. He’s still holding on to one of the blocks and he’s uncertain what to do with it.

“Daddy, the block,” Banryu points to Jidwi and Suho takes it from him as if it’s a choking hazard.

“Uh oh; those aren’t allowed in the kitchen. We’ll leave it here, okay?” Suho tosses the block onto the playmat and carries him into the kitchen. Jidwi isn’t surprised to see a high chair pushed into the far corner of the kitchen. Disappointed, but not surprised.

The kitchen is smaller than his own (if he considers it his own) and much more homey. The walls are a soft yellow, with dark cabinets and orange and white tiles along the sink. The floor is tiled the same pattern but it’s not tile because Suho’s bare feet barely make any noise against them. It sounds soft. There’s half white lace curtains hanging around the windows, and it reminds him somehow of a warm witchy kitchen that he’s seen before, with plants in the window sill and weird salt and pepper shakers on the table. There’s a large white pitcher housing some utensils on the counter and cheesy country styled potholders on the table. The bowls are colorful (and plastic he notes) with childish patterns. There’s side dishes on the table with a bowl of rice but Suho walks right past it and easily pulls the high chair closer to the small kitchen table with one arm. Jidwi takes a mental note of his strength and doesn’t put up a fight once he’s placed in the high chair. He’s too afraid of what Suho might do, despite his literal lack of observation. 

“Banryu, are you going to eat at the table?” Suho asks while he mixes some peas and carrots with rice in a bowl, mashing it just a little. It’s phrased like a question but has a suggestive tone behind it.

Banryu nods, not seeming to care whether or not Suho’s paying any attention to him. He grabs a large plastic spoon and sits at the table cross legged, turning his chair away from Jidwi. What a relief.

“I know your Appa said you’re a little stubborn when it comes to feeding but I know you’ll be good for me, hm?” Suho giggles and smiles at Jidwi, who just stays silent. He’s found it’s easier to stay quiet and let them do what they want. But having Suho feed him is causing his heart to race. It really shouldn’t matter if Suho is a stranger because Appa and Eomma are strangers and they feed him every day but he’s still scared and still flinches back when Suho goes to feed him the rice. “It’s okay, baby, it’s just rice. It’s not hot, see?”

Suho takes a bit off the spoon with his teeth and Jidwi decides then he really doesn’t want to be fed from that spoon. Not after Suho’s put his mouth on it. He turns away with disgust after Suho tries to feed him again, hoping he’ll take the hint. 

He doesn’t.

He opens his mouth to say something but he shuts it when Banryu comes over with a different spoon for the mashed rice. He rips the other one from Suho’s hands before offering the clean spoon and Jidwi decides right there and then Banryu is his savior.

“Banryu! You don’t take things like that, it’s rude,”

“He wants a different spoon.”

“Then you offer a different spoon. You do not snatch things from me. Go sit down and eat.”

Jidwi hates being caught in the middle of their bickering but the distraction gives him enough time to mentally prep himself to be fed by Suho. Hopefully he doesn’t have to eat or drink too much. He’s trying to avoid using his diaper at all until he’s home, with his Appa. 

He’s trying to push that thought from his head.

Once Banryu sits back down with less of an attitude he again ignores Jidwi. Suho offers him his rice again with a different spoon and in order to make sure Suho doesn’t repeat himself he accepts. It’s weird to have someone else feed him and feed him without distractions. Usually, Appa is only half paying attention to him while he talks to Eomma or Eomma isn’t always facing him. But Suho’s not as distracted as them, even with Banryu feet away from him. He sometimes glances over from the corner of his eye but it’s never for more than a second or two. He seems to know Banryu well enough to know if he’ll need something. Will Jidwi ever become like that? 

The thought makes his stomach clench and he pulls back again, only having been fed maybe half of the little raccoon bowl. He doesn’t want to play into Suho’s sick fantasy anymore.

“Are you done? You don’t want anymore?” Suho asks, waving the spoon around. Jidwi shakes his head, frowning. He hasn’t minded Suho up until now but he can sense the familiarity of hatred in his gut. He’s starting to hate Suho, too. He’s just as bad as Appa and Eomma. Underneath his puppy smile and his warm brown eyes, he’s just as twisted as them both. “Okay, okay, let me wipe your face and I’ll take you out. Just hold still,”

Suho grabs one of the wipes from the table and runs it over Jidwi’s mouth before he can shake his head too much, and he laughs, but quickly discards the wipe once he’s decided that’s clean enough. “You’re okay, you’re okay,”

Jidwi is very much not okay and he kicks his legs now. He doesn’t really care if Suho throws him back into the living room he just wants out of the high chair. Suho’s giddy smile stills now and his voice is less babyish. “Buddy, I can’t pick you up if you’re kicking. If you want out, you have to behave.”

Jidwi stops kicking. He isn’t happy when Suho picks him up but he’s happier to not have to sit in that stupid contraption of a chair anymore. Suho ruffles his hair a bit. “See? You just wanted attention, huh? Wanted to be held?”

He didn’t but seeing as Suho’s not going to put him down anytime soon, he lies his head down. He only has to deal with him for a few more hours before Appa will come pick him up and then he can finally go home

Well, not his real home, that’s not his real home, but it’s just a saying. Going home.