The dawn before sunrise is darker than anything
But never forget the stars you hope for only appear in the dark
– ‘SUGA’s Interlude’, Halsey & SUGA
Seokjin smoothes the wrinkles in his facemask and sinks into the couch, sighing. The house is peaceful. For once. The kids are outside doing who knows what, but as long as they’re not bothering Seokjin during his once-a-week allocated Jin Time, he’s happy. He can feel the moisture soaking into his parched skin. He sighs and rubs some of the liquid further into his neck.
The doorbell goes off.
Seokjin stills, glancing towards the front door then back at his timer. It’s only been nine minutes. He needs to keep this on for at least thirty minutes. And there’s no way he’s taking it off and ruining it – it was one of his expensive ones.
“Taehyung!” he yells.
He frowns, head cocking to the side as he sharpens his hearing.
His shitty omega senses pick up nothing.
Four knocks again.
“Fucking fuck,” Seokjin grumbles, standing up and shuffling towards the door. He tightens his bathrobe around himself and goes to open the door—
His sense of smell isn’t good for a wolf, but he knows exactly what’s on the other side of his door.
Alpha. And not a familiar one, either.
His shoulders tense. He takes in one steadying breath, then throws open the door.
“Can I help you?” he asks, pasting a fake smile on his face.
The alpha in front of him has his hand raised to knock. He blinks stupidly at him. He’s slightly taller than Seokjin, which is annoying. About his age as well, with long legs and golden warm skin. Even more annoying is the strength of his presence, his scent spreading through Seokjin and into his house as if he owns it.
“Oh, uh, yes. Kim Seokjin?” His voice is low, a little raspy.
“Yes.” Seokjin’s eyes narrow a little. “And you are?”
“Oh!” The idiot alpha blinks at him again. “Kim Namjoon. I’m the new pack alpha for—” His nose twitches. “Hey, what’s that sme—”
And then a shrill scream.
Seokjin is off without another thought. He bursts out of the backdoor in time to see—
Colours. And lights.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
“Kim Taehyung!” he growls.
There are fireworks. In his backyard. They shoot up from the freshly mown grass and explode in spatters of light above. Despite the afternoon sun, the colours are vibrant. Taehyung is standing in the middle of the yard with a big grin on his face, staring up at the sky. Jimin is rolling around a fair distance away, giggling. The kumquat tree is… smoking? There’s ashy black lines across the yard leading back to the pile of fireworks at Taehyung’s feet. A few are smoking and one is turned over on its side.
“Kim Taehyung,” he says again, voice low and dangerous, and he finally gets the teenager’s attention.
His eyes widen guiltily, mouth forming into an ‘o’.
“It wasn’t me,” he says, smiling dreamily. The long lighter, meant for the BBQ, is still in his hand.
“Oh really.” Seokjin stomps down the steps. “Fireworks? Seriously? Are you guys fucking kidding me. Park Jimin get your ass over here!”
“Swear jar!” Jimin chirps, popping onto his feet. As he jogs over, dead grass falls from his clothes. Seokjin’s nostrils flare, breathing in their scents – no pain. Nothing but excitement and adrenaline in the air. And—
“You gave these children fireworks?”
The alpha from the front door. The alpha who’d come through his house uninvited. His voice is thick with disapproval. Seokjin turns around slowly and sees him descending the steps into the yard, eyes darting around the destruction.
“Children?” Taehyung echoes, glancing around himself. The alpha ignores him, eyes locked on Seokjin.
“Do their parents know you’re giving them fireworks?”
Seokjin’s blood freezes. He feels his kids go still next to him. If Seokjin actually shared blood with Taehyung or Jimin, the alpha would’ve been able to smell it. And he’s only a decade older than the kids – too young to be their biological parent. Still, they’re covered in each others’ scents. The alpha should be smart enough to realise that.
The thick chemical smell of the fireworks hangs in the air.
How did this alpha know his name and address, but nothing else?
Seokjin feels the moment Jimin gets angry.
“Who the fuck are you?” Jimin snarls, stepping in front of Seokjin as if he needs protection. It’s a little bit adorable when his alpha instincts come out like this. The only alpha Seokjin will allow it from.
“Swear jar,” Taehyung whispers.
Namjoon blinks down at him. Jimin’s throwing out some serious pissed off pheromones. It makes Seokjin’s throat constrict a little.
But the alpha doesn’t rise to the bait. Calmly, he says, “Pack alpha Kim Namjoon. I came to introduce myself since I’m new in town. Who are your parents?”
Jimin bares his teeth and his eyes flash red. “Who do you fucking—”
“Okay, that’s enough.” Seokjin quick-steps around Jimin, placing a hand on the pack alpha’s arm and leaning close. He dials up his pheromones to peak ‘omega in distress’ and sees Namjoon’s eyes dilate a little. “All of these chemicals are making my head spin. Do you mind walking me to the door?” For added effect, Seokjin tilts his head to display the length of his neck.
“Of course. But are the kids—”
Seokjin nudges him to get his eyes away from his family before he gives in to the urge to claw them out.
“They’re fine, but I might pass out.”
Seokjin steers him into the house and towards the front door, not listening to his concerned blabber and just making vague noises to pretend he’s listening.
“Do you need— Oh are we meant to be—”
Seokjin gives him a more forceful nudge and he goes stumbling out onto the front porch.
“Lovely to meet you,” Seokjin grits out, dropping the sweet veneer. His face turns hostile. The alpha blinks at the sudden change, going still. “But you can kindly fuck off now. We’re not interested in joining a pack and we never will be.”
Seokjin leans forward, stabbing him in the chest with a finger. “And those are my kids there,” he hisses. “If I decide to give my kids fireworks, that’s my choice, not yours. Got that?”
“I don’t actually care about your opinion on it.” Seokjin steps back and grabs the door. “Don’t come back here again.”
He slams the door. The windows shudder satisfyingly.
Seokjin holds his breath. He hates the shiver of fear that makes its way down his spine. He shouldn’t be scared. He doesn’t need to be scared. This is his land, his family. No alpha can just stomp in here and take it.
“Jinnie? Are you okay?” It’s Taehyung’s voice, tentative.
Seokjin breathes out and unclenches his fists. The alpha is gone, he realises. Only a trace of his scent remains.
Seokjin turns around and fixes a baleful eye on Taehyung.
“Fireworks?” he growls. “Fireworks, Taehyung?!”
“It was my idea!” Jimin chirps, popping around the corner and stepping in front of Taehyung.
“No it was my idea,” Taehyung says, shoving Jimin to the side so he can step in front of him.
“No, I found the recipe and all the ingredients—”
“—no I got the oxidiser and the fuel—”
“—no you didn’t I got all of it—”
“—no I did it all—”
“Which one of you decided to mix it in my expensive tupperware?” Seokjin plants his hands on his hips.
They both go silent. Seokjin’s face darkens.
“That was my best tupperware! I almost got sucked into a pyramid scheme for it. How are you going to replace that?”
Two pairs of wide, innocent eyes stare up at him.
“We’re sorry, Jinnie,” Jimin, the most manipulative one, says. His eyes begin to water, the demon. It may have worked when he was younger, but he’s too old for it now. “We were just trying to further our education by learning about the chemical properties of—”
“And you almost fried my kumquat tree!”
“That was already like that,” Taehyung says quickly, shuffling his feet.
“Yep.” Taehyung nods his head fast, his ridiculous mullet flying all over the place. Seokjin really should take some scissors to it while the kid is asleep.
“I leave you alone for five minutes. Five minutes! And you almost set fire to the house!” Seokjin stomps past them, heading back to the yard to expect the damage. “Who even let you have oxi— oxer— ugh, firework ingredients. Who gave you them?”
His tupperware is pretty much unsalvageable, all blackened and melted in places. The other containers have some kind of powders in them. Seokjin doesn’t really want to be using them for food anymore.
“It was way longer than five minutes,” Jimin mumbles.
“This is meant to be Jin Time,” Seokjin goes on, stomping over to his beloved kumquat tree. It’s quite scraggly, some of the branches dead. He needs to prune it. He’ll definitely get to that. One day. A few kumquats are half-eaten on the ground, rotting. He nudges one with his furry slipper, frowning. Only a small section of the trunk is smoking. It should survive. “This is the only time during the week I can have Jin Time!”
“You have Jin Time every day when we’re at scho— ow, Tae!”
Seokjin turns and pins them down with a frosty gaze. “Good instincts, Tae,” he says. “You don’t want to finish that sentence, Jimin.”
Jimin scowls down at the ground but obligingly shuts up.
“So. Here is what’s going to happen.” Seokjin looks between them. They both stare hard at the ground. “You’re going to clean all of this up. You’re going to give me all of the ingredients and the unused fireworks – I counted them so don’t think of stealing one – and I’m going to dispose of them properly. Then you’re going to wash up and get ready for dinner, where you will both watch me finish off your portions of the lemon meringue pie and think hard about the decisions you’ve made today. And how you could’ve seriously harmed by kumquat tree.” Seokjin pauses. “And yourselves, I guess. Got it?”
“Yes, Jin,” they chorus.
“Good. Now get to cleaning.”
Taehyung scrambles to obey. Jimin hesitates.
“Who was that?” he asks, tiny frown pulling his eyebrows down. Seokjin can feel traces of his alpha anger still lingering in the air. “That alpha who just came in here. The asshole.”
Seokjin reaches out, combing his hand through Jimin’s hair and scent marking him lightly on the neck. Jimin’s frown disappears as he arches into it a little.
“Swear jar,” Seokjin says mildly. “For that and for before.”
“You also owe the swear jar. No cheating!”
He sighs. “I won’t.” He uses his hand on Jimin to spin him around and steer him towards Taehyung. “Go clean up.”
Jimin takes a step, then “Jinnie?”
“He won’t make us join his pack, will he?”
“No.” It comes out more forcefully than he meant. He takes a moment to breath in through his nose. “No,” he says, more measured. “He can’t do that.”
“But he’s a pack alpha. A strong one.”
“He is,” Seokjin agrees. “But you’re my kids and you know what, Jiminnie? I’m a very strong omega. Did you see the way he groveled at my feet? He won’t be making any of us do anything we don’t want to.”
Jimin smiles a little. “Yeah, when you touched his arm he looked like he was about to c—”
An alarm goes off.
Shit. His hand comes up to touch his face – his slimey, gooey face. The face mask.
The whole fucking time, he’d been wearing the face mask.
“Oh my fucking god.” Seokjin wants to die a little bit.
“Swear jar!” Taehyung trills, hands piled with tupperware containers. Jimin giggles and jogs off to join him.
Seokjin sighs. At least it wasn’t a wasted mask.
Two pairs of eyes watch him hungrily. Seokjin takes his time piling lots of pie onto the spoon, so much he worries for a moment it won’t all fit. But then he opens his mouth and shovels the whole thing in and knows he worried for nothing.
“Mmm,” he garbles through the pie. “Notes of zesty lemon. Touches of sweet. A pinch of salt—”
“Can we please be excused?” Jimin whines. “This is lame. And stupid.”
Seokjin swallows down the rest of the pie and points his spoon at Jimin, glaring. “You know what’s stupid? Being burnt to death by a rogue firework. Can you imagine how terrible a burnt kumquat tree would look in my backyard?” He pauses. “Or kid, I guess.”
Jimin makes a face. “I’m sixteen. And I wasn’t going to get burnt. I was fine.”
“And what about my kumquat tree, hmm? She’ll bear those scars forever. She doesn’t have magical werewolf healing, Jimin.” He shovels another heaped spoonful into his mouth. “Mmm, crispy meringue. Wow, this is actually so delicious. I’m glad I have it all to myself.”
“This is stupid,” Taehyung says.
“You know what? Maybe we should add stupid to the swear jar list.”
All their eyes turn to the mason jar in pride of place on the counter, filled with money. It has one post-it note stuck to it, fees scrawled illegibly from this distance. There’s about five more post-it notes taped to the bottom, all with added rules. All of their initials are next to each rule to make sure every party of this household agrees to it.
“Nooo,” Jimin whines, flopping onto the table dramatically. “It’s already so long! This house is a prison! You’re limiting my freedom of speech—”
Seokjin’s phone goes off, which is lucky for Jimin because Seokjin could feel a whole rant coming on.
“I’ll get it!” Taehyung jumps up.
“No, I’ll—” Jimin lunges towards Seokjin’s phone next to the counter. Taehyung elbows into him. Jimin goes stumbling, knocking into the swear jar.
“Watch out for the jar!” Seokjin yells at the same time Taehyung answers the phone, saying, “Hello, this is— oof!”
Jimin snatches the phone as Taehyung doubles over.
“This is Seokjin’s slave labour secretary, how can I be of service?” Jimin’s voice is sugary sweet.
Seokjin sighs and takes another enormous bite of his pie.
“Oh. Yoongi,” Jimin says flatly. “Here.” He holds out the phone to Seokjin.
Seokjin covers the microphone.
“Thanks, now make yourselves more useful as my child labour and clear the table while I take this.”
Seokjin walks into the living room to the sound of their groans.
“Yoongles,” Seokjin coos into the phone. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“There’s always something chaotic going on when I call,” Yoongi grumbles into the phone. “Your house is exhausting.”
Seokjin sniffs. “Thank you for the compliment. Any reason for this delightful call?”
“Yeah.” Yoongi sighs and his tone turns heavy. Seokjin’s spine straightens. “How soon can you get to my office?”
“Ten minutes,” Seokjin says, grabbing his keys. The kids feel his mood change and peek out of the kitchen, alert. “What is it?”
“I have a kid for you.”
Seokjin pauses. His heart hurts. Another kid. The last time Seokjin had gotten a call like this was three years ago. And he’d ended up with Jimin and Taehyung. Seokjin was only ever a last resort. Jimin and Taehyung had bounced around half a dozen foster parents before they’d ended up with Seokjin. And stayed with him.
That meant this kid was hard to place, just like Taehyung and Jimin had been. Hurt. Scared. Been through who knows what. Seokjin’s heart throbs in his chest.
“I’ll see you soon,” he says softly and hangs up the phone. He stares down at the empty screen.
Taehyung whines a little, snapping Seokjin out of his daze. He looks up to see them both shuffling in front of him, anxious and unsure. He breathes out and lifts his arms. They come to him in an instant, burrowing their noses into his neck.
“I have to head out for a bit,” he says. Their scents wash over him, trying to soothe the jagged edges inside of him. It works a little. “When I come back… we might have someone else joining us, okay? Another kid.”
“Like us?” Taehyung asks quietly, glancing up.
“For how long?” Jimin asks.
“I’m not sure yet. We’ll know more soon. Keep cleaning up, okay?” He untangles himself from them. They stare at him with matching wide eyes and nod.
The drive down to Yoongi’s office is a blur. It’s raining, hard enough that the road is a little flooded in places. It winds Seokjin up tighter.
It’s a Saturday night, but he’s not surprised to see the lights in Yoongi’s whole office on. Social workers rarely have weekends. It’s not as busy as normal, at least. There are a few kids hanging around, both wolf and human. Cubicles with Yoongi’s colleagues in them, on the phone or working on paperwork. Seokjin’s been here enough times to know the way to Yoongi’s cubicle without being shown.
When he gets there, Yoongi isn’t alone.
“The fuck?” he blurts out, blinking.
Swear jar, Taehyung choruses in his head. He squishes the thought down. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.
The alpha from earlier glances up at him, frowning in confusion.
Then understanding dawns on him. His mouth drops open.
And Seokjin remembers he’d had that fucking face mask on last time, probably looking like that serial killer from Friday the 13th. It’s touching that he’d still managed to manipulate the alpha through it. And it’s touching the alpha is looking him up and down in shock, now that he’s not in a bathrobe and fluffy slippers, either. Seokjin likes his clothes. Seokjin likes his body. He likes looking great in his clothes and he likes making stupid alphas agree that he looks great.
“You two know each other?”
Seokjin’s gaze darts to Yoongi who is swivelling around in his chair, frowning at them both.
“Yeah, we met earlier—”
“What’s he doing here?” Seokjin plants his hands on his hips and scowls at the alpha.
“He’s the local pack alpha.” Yoongi doesn’t look surprised at Seokjin’s crankiness. He’s used to his attitude towards alphas by now. “You’re not part of his pack, I know, but he still needs to be brought across new wolves coming into his territory.”
“We’re barely in his territory,” Seokjin mumbles. That had been the appeal of the house when he’d bought it years ago – it’s right on the edge of two pack territories. A grey area.
“Oh,” the alpha says, blinking his big stupid eyes between the two of them. “Oh. Foster parent. Of course. I apologise for my earlier—”
“Save it, alpha,” Seokjin snaps, making sure there’s enough acid in his tone so everyone knows ‘alpha’ isn’t being used as an honorific. “You’ve been informed of the new wolf. You can go now.”
Yoongi clucks his tongue. “Settle, Jin. Namjoon is staying. How about we get through this without anymore pissing fights?”
Seokjin folds his arms and doesn’t say anything. He can feel the alpha watching him with wide eyes. His scent feels a little guilty. Good. The bastard deserves it.
Yoongi sighs again.
“Get a seat. I’ll take you through his file. Trust me, you’ll need it.”
The kid. Seokjin breathes out and unclenches his fists. This is what he’s here for. He can ignore any overbearing alpha for the sake of a kid.
He settles down.
But he still keeps a solid distance between himself and the alpha. It doesn’t take long for Seokjin to forget he’s even there.
The kid is called Jungkook. His eyes are wide in his photo, hair a scruffy mess. His mouth is twisted angrily. Deep circles are beneath his eyes, cheeks a little hollow. Seokjin’s heart hurts. He’s 14.
And he’s an omega.
Seokjin understands why Yoongi had called him.
He gets through half of his file before he feels too nauseous to read any further. The neighbours had found him howling, locked in a cupboard, his mother and her boyfriend long fled. He’d been in hospital. Seokjin skips over the list of injuries.
His recent history is less painful. He’d gone into the system three months ago but already had a long record of group homes and foster parents that hadn’t worked out. Up until he’d landed on Yoongi’s desk.
“Do you see why I called you?” Yoongi asks softly.
Seokjin blinks back into awareness, looking up from the psychologist’s brief notes.
“Yeah,” he says softly. His chest is on fire. This kid needs him. He can help him.
“Yoongi,” the alpha says. Seokjin’s head snaps to him, glare back in place. “Is this the best decision? Kim Seokjin already has two foster children and…” He glances at Seokjin. “Please don’t take offence to this. I wouldn’t pass judgement if there wasn’t a child involved. But, are you sure you can handle another one? Especially one needing this much care?”
Words boil up inside Seokjin. His breath comes out harshly.
“What makes you say that?” Yoongi’s voice is a little sharp. He glances between the two of them. “What happened?”
The alpha turns to Seokjin. “Would you like to explain?”
Seokjin would rather tear out his throat. But he can’t do that.
“Fireworks,” he grits out.
“What?” Yoongi frowns.
“Taehyung made fireworks today. One hit my kumquat tree.”
“Kum-what? Jesus, not the important part.” Yoongi sighs. “Taehyung. I’m not surprised.” Yoongi turns to the alpha. “Namjoon, I can assure you that there is no one better suited to this omega than Seokjin. Despite first impressions, I have complete faith that Seokjin will provide Jungkook a safe, stable environment he can heal and grow in. Okay?”
Seokjin would never admit it aloud, but Yoongi’s words warm him from the inside out. It also settles something that had been rattled ever since the alpha had barged into his house with his judgemental gaze and asshole words. Seokjin is good at this. He’s a good parent.
The alpha looks slowly between Seokjin and Yoongi. Seokjin feels like he’s being assessed. He sets his jaw and hardens his gaze. Eventually, the alpha nods his head.
“I want what’s best for Jungkook,” he says. “I’ll trust your judgement in this, Yoongi. You know this situation and Seokjin better than I. Seokjin, please know that I want to do everything I can to support this transition. Especially in situations where an alpha is needed.”
Seokjin’s eyes narrow.
“And what situations would those be?” he asks, acid-sweet.
Namjoon looks startled.
“I meant no disrespect—”
“Thank you, Namjoon,” Yoongi cuts in. “I’ll forward your number on to Seokjin so he can reach out if he wants, okay? Thanks for coming in.”
It’s not a very subtle dismissal. The alpha takes it gracefully, bowing his head a little and standing.
“Good luck,” he says, and then he’s gone.
“Good luck,” Seokjin imitates, sinking down a little in his chair.
Yoongi whacks him on the leg with the file, making him yelp.
“Stop being a brat,” Yoongi says, turning back to his computer to type something. “Namjoon’s good. I like him.”
“Well I don’t,” Seokjin says. “Why is he even here, anyway? Isn’t there already a pack alpha? Old whatshisface?”
“Joowon stepped down a few months ago.” Yoongi doesn’t look at the screen as he types, frowning down at the keyboard instead. “Namjoon moved here last week to teach at the university. He grew up here, I think.”
“Sounds pretentious,” Seokjin mumbles and manages to duck out of the way in time so the files bounce harmless off the chair.
“Give him a chance, Jin.” Yoongi finishes typing up and spins back around. “Everything I’ve seen from him so far I’ve respected.”
“He barged into my house, Yoongi. And asked where Jimin and Tae’s parents were.”
Yoongi winces. “Okay, I see that that wouldn’t put him in the best light.”
Yoongi ignores his sarcasm. “But he’s a good alpha. He just wants what’s best for the wolves under his care.”
“Jimin and Taehyung are mine. Not his.”
Yoongi stares at him. “We’re getting off topic. C’mon, I’ll show you the kid. Hopefully he hasn’t destroyed anything else.”
Seokjin’s eyebrows perk up, but he decides not to ask. He follows Yoongi to one of the offices.
A kid is spinning around in the chair, leg flying out to kick against the wall to go faster and faster. Black scuff marks cover the white wall.
Yoongi sighs. When Seokjin goes to open the door, he stops him with a hand on his arm.
“This is his last chance,” Yoongi says, face serious. “If this doesn’t work out, he’ll be sent to juvie.”
Seokjin nods. The kid had a fairly lengthy record.
“We’ll be fine,” Seokjin says.
He opens the door and steps in. The boy’s leg flies out and thunks into the wall. The chair stops dead. He spins around a little so he’s facing them and his eyes latch onto Seokjin.
His lip curls back in a snarl.
“There is no fucking way I’m living with an omega.”
After the initial tantrum, the car ride home is silent. Jungkook stares moodily out the window, scowl etched deeply into his face. Seokjin had tried to draw him into conversation a few times, but given up pretty quickly. Jungkook did not want to chat.
Jimin and Taehyung are sitting on the porch when they pull into the driveway. Jimin is in wolf form, lounging across Taehyung’s knees, but he jumps up and shifts when he sees the car, ducking into his clothes quickly. Seokjin sighs – he’s told them to stop shifting where the neighbours can see. He’s had several complaints about his pups running around naked.
Jungkook glares at them suspiciously, bag hugged tight to his chest.
“Who are they?”
“The little pink-haired one is Jimin. The taller one with the mullet is Taehyung. They’re your foster brothers.”
“Not my foster brothers,” Jungkook mutters, sinking down into his seat. “I’m not going to be here long enough for that.”
Well. Only time can change his mind. Seokjin turns off the car and jumps out.
“Kids,” he calls. “Come meet Jungkook. He’ll be staying with us.”
“Temporarily.” Jungkook stomps out of the car and scowls at them.
“I’m Jimin!” Seokjin’s whole chest warms as Jimin offers him a sunny smile. “And this is Taehyung! We’re excited to have someone else here, temporary or not. Now we can gang up on Jinnie easier.”
Jungkook blinks at Jimin and looks a little shell-shocked. Taehyung hides a little behind Jimin.
Jungkook’s nostrils flare. He leans forward a little to scent the air.
“Is that… another omega?” His lip curls with disgust, but there’s a little confusion in his eyes. Taehyung’s scent doesn’t quite fall into one sub-gender.
Taehyung shrinks further behind Jimin. His scent peaks with distress. Jimin reacts instantly, eyes going red.
Seokjin steps between them quickly.
“No – Jiminnie is an alpha and Taehyung is a beta.”
Jungkook’s angry scowls falters. His nostrils flare again.
“Taehyung is a beta,” Seokjin repeats. The air is tense.
Then Jungkook scoffs, folding his arms and muttering, “Whatever.”
Crisis averted. Seokjin pastes a bright smile on his face and turns to the kids.
“How about we get Jungkook set up, yeah?” He strides off towards the door. “Let’s give him the full tour. And then you can choose your room.”
Jimin and Taehyung race ahead of him into the house. Jungkook drags his feet behind him.
Jungkook doesn’t say anything the whole tour. Jimin and Taehyung buzz around him, adding on extra facts to everything Seokjin says.
“This is the kitchen—”
“One time Taehyung and I were making slime and it caught on fire and that’s why there’s that black mark up on the ceiling over there, you see it?”
“—the living room—”
“Taehyungie likes the middle chair and I like the left side and Jinnie likes the right, but we can fit you into the middle too! Or you can have the armchair, it’s so comfy, we call it the old man chair because Yoongi always sits in it whenever he comes over and Seokjin tries to use it but he always ends up—”
“Invite-only,” Taehyung whispers to Jungkook as they look out the window at the workshop, “or Jinnie gets cranky.”
And so it goes on for the rest of the house until they’re back in the hallway again.
“So,” Seokjin says, “which room would you like?”
Seokjin’s eyebrows raise. “Are you sure? This is your house, you know. You have the power to pick any one you like.”
“Ooh, pick the one on the other side of mine!” Jimin says. “Seokjin snores. You don’t want to have the room next to his.”
Seokjin sniffs. “I’m too beautiful to snore. Stop spreading filthy lies.”
“You can share my room, if you’d like,” Taehyung offers. “It’s too big for just me.”
Seokjin’s heart melts. Even after the mis-gendering, Taehyung is still willing to put himself out there. His pup has a heart of gold.
Taehyung’s eyes are eager, only a touch of the earlier wariness present. He doesn’t mention that he and Jimin end up in a puppy pile in the same bed most nights. Or that it’s sometimes in Seokjin’s.
Jungkook looks a little startled for a moment, then goes back to his scowl.
“I don’t care. My mum will be back soon and I’ll be gone.”
Both Jimin and Taehyung deflate.
“How about we leave Jungkook to have a look at the rooms himself to decide which one he wants?” Seokjin cuts in. “You two interrupt so much I could barely hear myself think. Go get ready for bed.”
They scamper off. Seokjin turns back to Jungkook.
“I’ll be in the kitchen,” he says softly. “Let me know when you’ve chosen and we’ll help clear it out.”
He leaves Jungkook there, still scowling. Jimin and Taehyung had done a half-assed job at cleaning up, but Seokjin doesn’t really blame them. He’d spoken with them about this possibility before and he knew they were excited. As he packages up the pie properly – he has to wrap it instead of placing it neatly in tupperware because all his big containers had fallen victim to the firework incident – and wiping down the counters, his mind follows Jungkook. The new pup pads quietly through the house, pausing at each of the rooms.
He doesn’t come back into the kitchen.
Seokjin gives him enough time, then heads in his direction. Two heads poke out of the bathroom as he passes.
Jungkook is sitting in the dark in one of the corner rooms, back against the wall and staring out the huge windows. Seokjin had had a feeling he’d choose this room after reading his file. It has the biggest windows in the house and with the view of the backyard, makes it seem like you’re actually outside.
Luckily, it’s the room Seokjin uses for guests and not one of the ones he uses for storage, so there’s little he needs to do.
“Good choice,” he says softly, flicking the light on. “You shouldn’t be able to hear the other two arguing from here, too.”
“Hey!” two voices cry out and Seokjin smiles.
“Make yourself at home,” Seokjin continues. “Sundays are for waffles. I found some honeycomb at the market this morning, so it’ll be a good one.”
“Don’t forget the rules!” Jimin yells.
Seokjin sighs. “Yeah, the rules.”
Jungkook looks at him warily, eyes darting to the windows every few moments. Seokjin doesn’t doubt the kid already has a dozen escape routes in his head.
“Rules song! Rules song!” Jimin chants. “Ready, Taehyung?”
Seokjin cringes a little bit. He regrets ever making it into a song. What kind of dumbass idea was that? The kids haven’t let him forget it, either. They can tell how much it makes him cringe.
“No drugs no vi-oh-lence,” they sing together, warbling out the long note, “these are the rules of the house! Respect ev-ry-one untilprovenotherwise. But most of all, most of all! Most of all! Don’t fuck with Jin’s Time!”
Seokjin slaps his forehead, muttering, “Swear jar, both of you.”
“You can’t make us donate to the swear jar if we’re only swearing because we’re repeating you,” Taehyung says, popping his head into the room. He has a toothbrush sticking out of his mouth. “Remember article 2b, part one?”
Seokjin sighs. “Can’t say I’ve memorised all of the rules and all of the addendums. But this is a good time to introduce the swear jar. Jungkook, you can read all the rules in the morning at breakfast. You’ll need a good sleep to deal with it.”
Jungkook just stares back at him and doesn’t say a word. Seokjin doesn’t really mind. The two others are loud enough for a busload of people.
“I’ll let you get to it. Bathroom’s down the hall.” He hesitates at the door. “This is a fair household, Jungkook. Treat everyone with respect, and you’ll be respected right back, okay?”
Jungkook looks away, scowling. “Whatever.”
Seokjin takes that as a win.
Jungkook isn’t any more talkative at breakfast the next morning. He sits in silence and barely picks at his salted caramel, honeycomb and banana waffles. The kids talk over the top of his head, yapping about everything from the fireworks yesterday to Seokjin’s dating life.
“—and I was thinking, what about my gym teacher? I’m sure he’s gay, Jinnie.”
“Agreed,” Taehyung mumbles around a mouthful of waffle. Seokjin grimaces at him.
“It’s not nice to speculate about someone’s sexuality. If he is gay and he wanted you to know, then he’d let you know. Which he probably wouldn’t since he’s a teacher and you’re just a bunch of horny 16 year olds.”
Jimin pouts. “But you should see the shorts he wears. They’re so short! Very short shorts.”
“I hear you gossiping with Yoongi all the time about who you think is gay,” Taehyung adds.
And that’s… probably true.
“Do as I say, not as I do,” Seokjin says sagely. He stands and starts gathering plates. “Go get ready. We’re going to go shopping for Jungkook.”
Jungkook flinches up from where he’s been staring at Taehyung.
“What?” His eyes are wide.
“You can decorate your room.” He takes Jungkook’s full plate, deliberating for a moment before wrapping it up and putting it in the fridge. “And we can get some more clothes. Your backpack doesn’t fit much in it.”
“I don’t need anything.”
Seokjin shrugs. “Okay, well, I need a few things. If you see something you like along the way, it’ll just be a bonus.”
Jungkook, unsurprisingly, stays a dark, angry presence the entire trip. Taehyung and Jimin pick out a few clothes for him, which he seems less resistant to than when Seokjin had tried. Unsurprising, really. No one can stand up to the two of them together.
They’re in the homewares section of a department store, Jimin and Taehyung over by the letters shelf making rude words out of them, when Seokjin sees a woven rug that’s the perfect pattern for Jungkook’s room.
“Ooh,” he coos, gravitating over to it. “Jungkook, what about this for your room? That could be nice.”
Jungkook, shockingly, scowls.
“No. It’s ugly.”
Seokjin pouts at it.
“Oh, well. What about this?” He points at a framed image of a flower. “Could brighten up your room and if you find an image you like, we can print it and frame it instead?”
“I said no.” Jungkook’s voice rises for the first time since they’d met. People around them look over. “Are you fucking deaf or something? I don’t want any of this lame omega shit!”
Taehyung and Jimin have frozen, both staring over with wide eyes.
“You can decorate your room however you’d like.” Seokjin glances around, frowning. “Is something monochromatic better?”
His non-reaction seems to infuriate Jungkook further, which wasn’t the point at all.
“All of this shit is dumb! And ugly! I’m not doing anything to that stupid fucking room because I won’t be at your stupid fucking house for long!”
“Okay, we don’t have to decorate your room if you don’t want to. But you do have to respect my rules while you’re in my house, Jungkook, and you’re violating one of them right now.”
“What are you going to do?” Jungkook’s face twists. “Beat respect into me?”
Seokjin doesn’t rise to the bait. He keeps his voice even when he says, “No one will ever raise a hand to you when you’re in my house. C’mon, we’re heading back to the car.”
Jimin and Taehyung immediately start whining.
“But we only just got here!” Jimin pouts, dragging his feet. “And you promised us food court lunch!”
“We got here an hour ago,” Seokjin corrects. “And you’ve both got some donating to make. Spelling out swear words still counts, as per article whatever.”
“Jungkook swore a lot,” Taehyung says. “Like five times.”
“Jungkook needs to do some chores first before he gets any pocket money and then he can donate. Don’t worry, Jungkook, I’ll give you a loan. I won’t even charge you much interest.”
They get in the car, Taehyung up front and Jimin and Jungkook in the back. Seokjin clicks in his seatbelt and twists in the chair to face Jungkook. His face is a little less red than before, less angry. Still pinched, though. He stares out the window and won’t meet Seokjin’s eyes. He’s throwing off upset pheromones, enough to make Jimin and Taehyung shift uncomfortably.
He stays where he is. His shoulders tighten.
“Jungkook, can you please look at me?”
“What?” He snaps around.
“This is the last outing we’ll have until you apologise for how you behaved in there, okay?”
“I’m not going to apologise to— to some weak-ass omega.”
Jimin gasps. Taehyung shrinks back.
One of Seokjin’s eyebrows ticks up. “And for that, too. That wasn’t very nice or respectful.”
“I don’t give a shit.”
“Swear jar,” Taehyung whispers. “That’s seven times.”
Jungkook crosses his arms and scowls. Seokjin watches him carefully, but the boy doesn’t lash out at Taehyung. It’s only Seokjin. Not surprising, really, when he hasn’t ever been able to trust any of the adult figures in his life.
“I’ll let you think on it.” He turns back to the front and starts the car.
It’s silent for a few moments. Then Jimin pipes up.
“Can you let him think on it while we listen to the radio? Silence sucks.”
Taehyung jolts up, grin spreading across his face. “Ooh, I’m choosing the station!”
“Nooo,” Jimin wails. “I take it back!”
But it’s too late. Taehyung already has the radio on and has navigated straight to the international station. Some language Seokjin has no idea of fills the car, two people having a fast dialogue.
Jimin sinks down into his seat with a groan. “Jiiin, please change it.”
“Nope, you know the rules. Front seat gets to choose the station.”
“But no one can even speak whatever this is!”
“It’s called immersing yourself,” Taehyung says, eyes closed and smiling as he listens.
“You don’t even know what language you’re immersing yourself in,” Jimin mutters, sinking even lower.
When they’re almost home, he sees Jimin nudge Jungkook with his foot.
“Hey,” Jimin mumbles, obviously trying to go under the radar. Seokjin pretends that he, too, is completely immersed in whatever’s happening on the radio.
“Omegas aren’t weak, you know.”
Jungkook scoffs. “Okay, sure.”
“Just wait until you see how many alphas Jinnie has wrapped around his little finger. Then you’ll see.”
Jungkook doesn’t reply and goes back to glaring out the window. Seokjin smiles a little to himself.
Seokjin spends the whole next day waiting by his phone, expecting it to ring. He’d dropped off Jungkook at the school this morning and gotten all of the paperwork sorted out. He had a batch of lavender-scented soap to make today but he was taking five times longer than usual. He’s worried. Jungkook had been suspended multiple times at his previous schools.
But the entire day passes, he finally gets the soap into the curing rack and his phone doesn’t ring once.
He almost sprints to the door when he hears them tramping up the driveway. He stops himself from flinging open the door and instead pauses in the kitchen.
When the door finally opens, he casually strolls out, hands in his pockets.
“Oh, you’re all back? Already?” Despite his laidback posture and tone, he scans Jungkook quickly. The scowl is forming back up on the omega’s face, so everything seems normal.
Jimin snorts. “Very believable,” he says. He pauses on his way to the stairs, though, and lets Seokjin scent mark him. “What’s for dinner?”
“Ooh, I wonder who it’ll be this time!” Jimin giggles as he takes the stairs two-by-two.
Taehyung hugs into his side, nuzzling a little into his collarbone.
“How was your chemistry quiz?” Seokjin asks. “Did you get to use my mnemonic device? ‘How he likes bears but can’t’—”
“I don’t need a mnemonic device to learn the periodic table, I’m not Jimin.”
“Hey!” Jimin’s voice calls down. “Take that back!”
Seokjin turns to Jungkook.
“How was your day?”
“Fine.” Jungkook stomps past him and up the stairs.
Seokjin stares after him, left alone in the entryway. He sighs and heads back to his workshop.
Taehyung’s head pops around the door half-an-hour later.
Seokjin perks up. “Ooh, excellent timing.” He strips off his gloves, leaving them on the counter and locking the workshop door behind him. It’s more a formality, since both Jimin and Taehyung can pick locks.
He heads back into the house and sees the door open, Angelo standing there carrying a tray of food. He looks awkward. Jungkook is standing at the bottom of the stairs, not saying a word.
It reeks of discomfort. Seokjin has to work to make sure his smile just says ‘bland welcome’ rather than ‘I’m enjoying this very awkward situation’.
“Who is this,” Jungkook says, keeping his eyes fixed on Angelo.
“Oh, uh, I’m—”
“This is Angelo, one of our lovely neighbours.”
“He’s an alpha.”
“Why yes, he sure is.”
Angelo visibly preens at Seokjin’s words. Taehyung muffles a laugh in a cough. Seokjin stops in the doorway, leaning against the frame to block Jungkook’s view.
“Hello, darling,” Seokjin purrs. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”
“Uh.” Angelo shuffles on his feet. The aluminium tray in his hands crinkles. “You mentioned earlier you didn’t have anything for dinner yet. So, I, uh… I had some spares.”
Seokjin peeks into the tray and his smile widens.
“Oh, a potpie? You shouldn’t have.” Seokjin plucks the tray from his hands. “Looks delicious.”
“Yeah, actually, I’d love to share it with you—”
“Now isn’t a good time, maybe another night? Thanks, bye!” Seokjin slams the door closed. “Dinner’s ready! Is the table set?”
Jungkook stares at the plate in front of him suspiciously.
“Alphas just… give you food?” He pushes the piece of pie around the plate.
Seokjin beams. “They sure do! Idiots.”
“Because,” Jimin says, swallowing his mouthful and waving his spoon in the air, “they all want to be Seokjin’s alpha.”
“You don’t have an alpha?”
Seokjin snorts. “Where did you think I kept him, in the basement?” He pauses. “That actually wouldn’t be too out of character. No, Jungkook, I don’t have an alpha and I don’t intend to ever have one.”
“But every omega has an alpha.”
Seokjin pauses. So do Jimin and Taehyung.
“Ew, no. I’m fourteen!”
“That’s perfectly legal in some areas,” Seokjin says. “Omegas don’t need alphas. That’s what they want omegas to believe to make us all beholden to them. But here’s a tasty little truth for you, Jungkookie—”
“—alphas are the ones obsessed with omegas. Darling neighbour Angelo has been sniffing around me for years. Don’t get me started on the others—”
“—the others that shall not be named,” Seokjin says loudly over the top. “All of them, dumb alphas. None of them understand the meaning of the word ‘no’. They think it doesn’t apply to them because they’re genetically dominant and society respects overt displays of power. Might is right, and all that. So now we’ve worked out a mutually beneficial arrangement where they do stupid things like cook me dinner or fix my house because their archaic beliefs think I’m incapable of doing anything except laze around, waiting for them to impregnante me. And I allow them to do these dumb things and get to slam the door in their faces.”
Jungkook looks a little shell-shocked. Jimin and Taehyung are much more used to it.
“Not all alphas though,” Taehyung says, shooting a smile at Jimin.
“Of course not.” Seokjin reaches over and ruffles Jimin’s hair, who brightens and preens. “Some are perfectly normal people who understand and respect boundaries.”
“Exactly like you.”
“It doesn’t seem like a very even arrangement.” Jungkook still looks frown-y.
“I know.” Seokjin huffs a sigh. “I shouldn’t even have to talk to them.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“Respect everyone until proven otherwise,” Seokjin repeats. Jimin starts chanting the rule song under his breath. Seokjin ignores him. “That’s my golden rule. Those alphas? They proved they weren’t worth my respect.”
Jungkook frowns and looks down at his plate. The conversation goes elsewhere. Jungkook moves his food around, but barely eats a thing. Seokjin frowns.
Jungkook stays a grumpy, scowling presence for the rest of the week. Every night, Seokjin stays a little longer in the shower, biting his lip and thinking about how to get through to him. There’s very few places in the house Seokjin can get peace and quiet, and the shower is one of them. So he ends up taking very long showers.
When they settle down to watch TV at night, the kids piled on top of him and all sharing affection, Jungkook sits stiffly to the side. He barely eats anything at dinner. Seokjin would be more worried, but he’d set up a system where Jimin and Taehyung sneak him food later and make him think Seokjin has no idea. So at least he is still getting the food he needs.
He’s always quiet, but he goes dead silent when shifting is brought up. Jimin and Taehyung shift almost daily, zooming around the yard and play-tumbling in the grass after school. Jungkook sits inside and refuses to even watch. A kid his age should be raring to shift as much as possible. But Jungkook is fighting every single one of his instincts.
Seokjin can see when his omega instincts rise up in him sometimes. Omegas tend to be very affectionate, always seeking skinship. And Seokjin, an omega himself, is very willing to give out physical affection with his kids. He likes to scent mark them before and after school. He likes to mark his house, arrange it and nest.
But Jungkook’s room is still bare. He hasn’t even unpacked his clothes from his backpack. He carts the entire thing to school with him every day, as if worried he might need to take off at a moment’s notice.
It worries him. He still keeps his phone next to him at all times throughout the day.
He also isn’t sure if Jungkook truly hates the omega side of him, or if he’s just been taught to by his family. The psychologist’s notes hadn’t gone into detail – only the vaguest outline is given to the social worker. If Jungkook isn’t feeling comfortable in his sub-gender like Taehyung had felt, if it doesn’t match with who he really is, then Seokjin has a whole other conversation on his hands.
The thing that gives him hope, though, is the kids.
It’s the small things. One night he walks past Taehyung’s room and pauses – Jungkook’s in there, listening quietly as Taehyung excitedly shows him the solar-powered torch he’d made out of a deodorant stick.
On another night he sees Jimin absent-mindedly reaching out to Jungkook to scent mark him, then freezing when he realises. But Jungkook doesn’t say anything. Just allows it.
So Jungkook still might hate him. But Seokjin thinks he’s opening his heart up to the kids. And that’s a good first step.
It doesn’t stay peaceful for long. In the second week of Jungkook’s stay, Seokjin gets a call from the school.
He blasts onto the school grounds, slamming the door to the office open with a satisfying bang. He takes in the scene in less than a second.
Jungkook is curled up in a chair, glaring. He has an icepack pressed to his face. His eye looks like it’s well on its way to swelling. There’s also a tiny butterfly bandage keeping his split lip together. Flecks of blood are on his shirt – Seokjin can tell more by scent than anything else, because Jungkook refuses to wear anything but black.
There’s two others in the chairs on the other side of the office glaring right back at Jungkook: an equally beat-up alpha teenager with his beta mother rubbing his back.
“What’s going on here?” Seokjin asks, voice deadly serious.
The receptionist pops her head up, eyes going a little wide when she sees him.
“Ah, Mr Kim, the principal will be ready in just—”
“Why is Jungkook sitting here when he’s obviously injured? Where is the nurse?”
“The nurse has already seen him.” Seokjin narrows his eyes and the receptionist wilts a little bit. “But I can call him back?”
“Unless you think blood would help the decor of this dreary place,” Seokjin hisses. She ducks behind the desk again and Seokjin levels one frosty look at the other teenager before coming towards Jungkook.
He clucks his tongue and reaches out. “Where are you—”
Jungkook flinches back.
Seokjin freezes. His hand drops.
They’re both still for a moment, staring at each other. Then Seokjin crouches down, keeping the same distance.
“Tell me what happened.”
“It wasn’t my fault,” Jungkook mutters, scowling.
“I never said it was.”
“You didn’t have to—”
The door opens. Alpha hits Seokjin’s senses a second before he realises the scent is familiar. He spins around, getting to his feet. He unconsciously plants himself between Jungkook and the newcomer.
It’s the asshole alpha who thought he was a terrible parent.
“What are you doing here?”
“I called him,” the principal says, finally opening her door. “Any incidences involving wolves warrants a call to the territory’s pack alpha.” She looks Seokjin up and down, and gives a weary sigh. “I’d hoped to never see you again.”
“Lovely to see you too, Fran,” he says with narrowed eyes and a fake-as-hell smile.
She hmphs and disappears back into her office. “Get in here, all of you.”
Seokjin turns towards the pack alpha as soon as the principal disappears.
“School policy is to call. You don’t have to actually be here.”
The alpha looks calmly back. “I have a vested interest in this.”
“Mr Kim!” the principal calls. “Today would be nice.”
Seokjin scoffs, mimicking, “vested interested,” under his breath as he enters the office.
“Please, take a seat,” the principal says.
“I’d prefer to remain standing,” Seokjin replies, folding his arms. Jungkook shrinks into a seat in the corner. Both alphas also sit, but the beta mother mirrors Seokjin’s pose.
“Of course you would,” the principal sighs. “You know, it’s been a nice few years since you were last in this office, Mr Kim.”
“It’s been several months. At most.”
That incident had been when Taehyung had built a wrist-mount crossbow and brought it to school. The time before that had been when Jimin had covered the basketball court in soap after some of the team members had laughed at Taehyung.
His kids have personality. Seokjin doesn’t blame them.
“I wish it had been longer.” She gives a short, sharp smile towards him before fixing her beady eyes on the rest of the occupants. “Alpha Kim, thank you for joining us on such short notice.”
“Namjoon is fine. And I always have time for the younger members of my pack.”
“Jungkook is not in your pack,” Seokjin snaps.
The alpha opens his mouth, but Fran cuts in.
“How about we focus on what happened here today, hmm? This school has a strict no fighting policy. Especially between werewolves, no matter the delicate situation one is in. That puts all of our students, particularly our humans, at higher risk.”
“A great policy to have,” Seokjin cuts in. “One that’s meant to make both students and parents feel safe, right? But how am I meant to feel safe sending my pup – my omega pup – to a place where he ends up like this? Left bleeding out in the reception chairs as bureaucratic nonsense is placed above my child’s welfare!”
The principal sighs. “Both Jungkook and Ellis have been cleared by the nurse.”
“Then perhaps we should be calling the nurse in here to face some hard questions as well. What qualifications do you need to be a nurse at this school? Especially since there’s such a high werewolf population. Does he know proper wolf medicine? Was my child given the opportunity to shift to heal his wounds?”
Now, obviously Jungkook was never going to shift. The boy refused to talk about it at all. But no one else in this room knew that and Seokjin needed every advantage he could get.
“I can personally vouch that our nurse is fully qualified to help both human and werewolf students.” Fran is beginning to look exhausted, Seokjin notes gleefully. The beta mother is staring at him with wide eyes, hands dropped to her sides. The pack alpha’s mouth is open. Seokjin is in his element. If he was any good at boring stuff like studying, he would’ve made an incredible lawyer.
“You can vouch all you want, but I have the right to see what qualifications and experience he brings to the job. Especially if my pup is at risk of being bullied.” At this, he casts a narrow-eyed look at the mother and son.
The mother scowls and finally finds her words.
“What? Bullied? That omega hit my son first!”
“‘That omega’?” Seokjin repeats. “I was under the impression this school didn’t stand for discrimination either, Fran, unless I’m wrong there too?”
Fran is very characteristically unimpressed.
“There is no discrimination here,” she says sternly. “We’ve had multiple eye-witness accounts that Jungkook threw the first punch. We don’t stand for bullying here.” Well, damn. That makes it a bit harder. But not impossible. “Now, if I can have my meeting back, I called you both here today to discuss punishment—”
“I’m sorry to interrupt, Fran, but are we really going to gloss over the distancing language that’s been used by that woman? This is exactly how alienation of sub-genders starts. From that alone, it’s easy to see that her son verbally harassed and assaulted Jungkook before anything physical happened at all. Verbal harassment should be taken just as seriously as physical.”
“My son would never—”
“Jungkook, what did this boy say to you?”
All eyes turn to Jungkook. He’s got his knees to his chest, arms around his legs and staring daggers at everyone in the room.
“He said omegas are only useful when they’re on their backs and to go back to where I came from,” Jungkook mumbles, gaze falling to his knees. “So I punched him in his stupid fucking face. I’m not some weak omega.” His eyes flash blue as he bares his teeth.
The pack alpha shifts a little in his seat. And Seokjin—
Okay. Seokjin wasn’t really all that mad before. He was just saying what he needed to get this sorted. But now he’s furious.
“Is this the kind of education you’re giving kids at this school?” he says. He can tell he’s pouring out angry pheromones. Fran is human, so isn’t feeling a thing, but the other wolves in the room twitch a little.
Fran’s mouth thins. Disapproval radiates from her.
“Ellis? Is this true?”
Ellis glares down at his fists in his lap and shrugs. He shrinks a little bit away from Seokjin.
The principal sighs.
“It seems this is a situation where both parties are at fault.”
“Just both parties? I would like to know what’s being taught in your sex and gender classes if this is an example of the discrimination omegas face at this school. Should we also talk about the inherent racism in a statement like ‘go back to where you came from’?”
Fran fixes him with a warning look. “Don’t push it, Mr Kim.”
Seokjin shifts his weight onto his other leg but doesn’t say anything. He’ll probably say something that’ll get them both thrown out of the school. He knows when to shut up. Sometimes.
“This is what is going to happen,” the principal says, looking at each of them in turn. “In light of the harassment on both sides, both of you will be serving in detention. Ellis, I’ll also be scheduling five mandatory hours of sex and gender education outside of class on top of it. Is that fair? Mr Kim, you’re not who I’m asking. I’ve heard enough from you today.”
The beta’s face looks pinched. She darts a glance at Seokjin then nods.
“If this happens again, the punishment will be a lot harsher. Again, I want to reiterate that this school is a safe environment and we don’t stand for bullying of any kind, whether physical or through words. You’re all free to leave. Mr Kim, I don’t want to see you in here again any time soon.”
“Always a pleasure,” Seokjin says with a fake grin, before storming out of the office. He can feel Jungkook trotting to catch up behind him. As soon as they’re out of the building, Seokjin whirls around. Jungkook freezes.
“Are you okay? Did he get in any hits somewhere else?”
Jungkook looks surprised, but his immediate reaction is to firm his jaw and snap, “I’m fine.”
“Where else did he hit you, Jungkook?”
“I said I’m fine! This is nothing.”
Seokjin presses his lips together and waits. Jungkook’s eyes are a little wild. Well, one eye, because the other is pretty much swollen shut now. Seokjin waits for the tension to drain away a bit from Jungkook’s shoulders.
“I trust you to make your own judgements about your body,” Seokjin says softly. “But I’ve got a first aid kit at home if anything is still painful.”
“Aren’t you going to make me shift? So I can heal?”
“Not if you don’t want to.” Seokjin straightens up. “Keeping a swollen eye wouldn’t be my first option, but then again, maybe I should give it a try. I wonder how many alphas would still be bothering me after they saw it.” He turns to head to the car and stops. The pack alpha is there. Far enough that Seokjin hadn’t sensed him, but close enough to probably hear with his stupid heightened alpha senses.
He has to walk past him to get to the carpark.
“Thanks for all your help in there,” Seokjin says, frowning at him as he passes. “Maybe next time just take the phone call and don’t bother.”
And he walks off to his car, trying not to let his smirk show. If there’s one thing Seokjin loves more than anything else, it’s getting the last word. Especially over stupid alphas.
The car ride is quiet. Seokjin taps along to a perky pop song. He can feel the tension rising higher and higher in the car, all from Jungkook. When they finally park in the driveway and Seokjin looks over, he thinks Jungkook is about to explode.
He gives Jungkook space to tell him.
He stays silent. His leg is bouncing almost out-of-control at this point.
Eventually, he sighs and says, “Okay, what is it? Is it because I only got you detention and not completely off? Look, I tried, but detention is a lot better than being suspended. It also won’t go on your record—”
“What’s my punishment?”
Seokjin blinks. “What?”
“Just tell me already and get it over with. What is it?” Jungkook’s face is pale and drawn and a little bit bloody, but determined.
“You mean detention?”
“No, your punishment.”
Seokjin blinks again. Oh. Oh. His head tilts to the side.
“There is no punishment,” he says softly. “You didn’t do anything wrong. I won’t ever be angry at you for defending yourself. Besides, your face looks like it’s punishment enough. You definitely should’ve punched the other guy harder.”
He hops out of the car and strides up to the house.
“Hey, wanna play Super Smash Brothers until the kids get home?” he asks, toeing off his shoes.
Jungkook is quiet for a moment. And then he mumbles, “Fine.”
Seokjin grins at the wall.
That night, Jungkook eats his dinner.