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.
“Um. What is that.”
Three sets of eyes turn to stare at him. Well, maybe two and a half is more accurate. The swelling around Jungkook’s eye is still going down. He immediately looks away, anyway, scowling down at the ground.
“Nothing,” Taehyung says, smiling innocently up at him. Jimin tries to shove the poster back into the cupboard, but Seokjin darts forward and snatches it up.
“Hey! Give that back!” Jimin jumps to his feet, hands grasping. Seokjin holds it up higher. Maybe one day Jimin will have a growth spurt and this trick won’t work anymore, but that day is not today.
“Is this a… oh my god.” Seokjin’s name is printed in the middle in glitter pen. Surrounding him are the names of various alphas, betas, omegas and even humans. All have tiny notes scrawled below them. Lines point everywhere, more words written across them.
“Is this meant to be my dating history?”
“Wait, did you date someone here?” Taehyung pops up to read the poster over his shoulder. “Was it Kang? I knew that was a date!”
“That was not a date.” Seokjin peers closely. “Is this Ray’s schedule?”
Jimin finally jumps up high enough to grab it back. Seokjin lets it go before it rips. Jimin clutches it close and glares at him.
“This is private,” he says. “Go away.”
“That’s my life! What are you trying to do with that?”
“None of your business!”
“My name is literally written on it, that makes it my business!”
“Well, maybe if you got yourself a boyfriend we wouldn’t have to do this!”
“I never asked you to do this! I also don’t want you to! You little creeps!”
“I have a right to express my artistic potential and this is how I want to do it.”
Seokjin gapes at him. Then his mouth clicks shut.
“You’ve got me there,” he mutters. Jimin smirks.
“You taught me too well,” he says haughtily.
Seokjin’s eyes narrow.
“I’m going to make it my life’s mission to burn that poster to the ground.”
Jimin plants his fists on his hips and says, “I’d like to see you tr—”
The doorbell goes off.
They all stare at each other.
“Delivery?” Taehyung asks.
“Not that I’m aware of.” Seokjin frowns, wracking his brain. “Unless… hm, no. I’m not expecting anyone.”
They were meant to be getting ready for a movie marathon. Saturdays are for family dinner – this was very much a no-interruptions time. Yoongi has already left and he has a key, anyway.
Seokjin wouldn’t have dropped hints to any alphas about it. Especially since he’s in his slumber party get up, which consists of a rainbow unicorn onesie. It’s so ugly that it goes beyond disgusting, and back into being cool as hell. Unsurprisingly, the kids didn’t agree when he first debuted it, but he doesn’t trust the opinion of hormonal teenagers.
Seokjin moves towards the stairs, saying over his shoulder, “I came up here to tell you to hurry up. The movie’s ready.”
“Make sure to tell us who’s at the door,” Jimin yells after him. “For reasons completely unrelated to what you just saw!”
Seokjin sighs. This is why he should’ve crushed any and all signs of artistic talent when he’d first seen them. Nothing good ever comes from creativity mixed with teenage angst.
He opens the door and immediately wishes he hadn’t.
It’s that dumb pack alpha.
“Oh.” He frowns. “It’s you. Again.”
“Hello.” The alpha smiles nervously. Dimples appear. What the fuck.
Giggles come from behind Seokjin.
“Are you here to be humiliated by Jinnie again, mister pack alpha?” Jimin taunts. “Are you one of those kinds of alphas?”
Seokjin looks up at the ceiling.
“Jimin, I swear, if you’re not dressed in theme yet—”
Jimin gives another giggle and his footsteps disappear back up the steps.
Seokjin is left staring at the alpha, unimpressed.
“He seems like a really sweet kid,” the alpha says.
“Thanks for letting me know your opinion. I didn’t ask for it.” Seokjin observes the alpha closely, waiting for those signs of anger. The stung pride.
He doesn’t see any of that.
“You’re right, I’m sorry,” he says instead and Seokjin’s eyebrows jerk up in surprise. “I came here to apologise for all of it, actually. Firstly for coming into your house uninvited – although I thought one of your pups was injured, so I’d do the same again, but it’s still worth an apology. And secondly, for casting judgement on a situation where my judgement was neither merited nor needed. Thirdly—”
“Okay, jeez, I get it, you can stop. You’re sorry.”
“I am, though. Sorry, that is.”
“Did you write down that apology like a speech and memorise it?”
“I can submit it to you double-spaced in 12 point Times New Roman, if you’d prefer it that way.”
That almost surprises a laugh out of Seokjin. Almost. He’s not going to fall for this alpha’s traps quite so easily. Not after he’s spent days stewing in righteous indignation.
“Perhaps you should mail it, next time. Thanks for dropping by.”
Seokjin slams the door. His heart warms a little. He loves slamming doors.
“Jokes aside,” the alpha says loudly. He’s still outside, which is not what’s meant to happen at all. “I truly am sorry. And my offer of support was genuine. Please let me know if you need anything from me. And this isn’t some kind of scheme to get you into my pack. I want to help every wolf in my territory, if they need it.”
“Right now, you can support me by getting off my porch,” Seokjin calls back.
“Oh, yeah,” he hears him mutter. “That’s probably a good idea.” Then, louder, “Goodnight, Seokjin. Nice onesie!”
Snickering start up behind him. He turns around and sees all three kids sitting on the stairs. Jimin is curled into Taehyung’s side, laughing with his whole body.
“It’s not that funny,” Seokjin grumbles, stalking into the living room. There’s bowls of popcorn on the table. The whole house stinks of it now.
“Is he on the list?”
Seokjin pauses with a handful of popcorn part-way to his mouth. It was Jungkook who had spoken. The kids also seem a little shocked, but they recover faster.
“No, but that’s a great idea! I can’t believe I forgot.”
“Let’s do it now—”
“No,” Seokjin cuts in, “you will all sit your asses down and enjoy this movie. Now.”
“Swear jar,” Jimin and Taehyung chorus.
The kids manage to bully Jungkook into sitting on the big couch with them, the one that’s meant to fit only three people. By the end of the first movie, they’ve all migrated closer together. Seokjin is sprawled out, Taehyung’s head in his lap as he cards his hands through his hair. Jimin has his toes shoved under Seokjin’s thigh, shoulders leaning into Jungkook. Jungkook seems to be spending equal amounts of time gazing at the movie then gazing down at Jimin’s pink head of hair. It’s weird seeing him without his scowl on. Nice.
Maybe Seokjin will allow the kids to keep that heinous poster of his love life. Maybe.
“I’ve been thinking,” Seokjin starts, flipping the french toast at the stove.
Jimin grumbles from where he’s collapsed face-down at the table.
“Always a bad idea,” he says, muffled.
“Hey. That felt an awful lot you weren’t being respectful. Need I remind you of the rules of the house?”
Jimin grumbles. Taehyung and Jungkook are also at the table. Jungkook looks like he’s fallen back asleep. All of them have splashes of water on them – it had been a ‘wake up with water gun’ kind of morning. That always happened on Mondays.
“Taehyung, you have your science club and all your experiments.”
Taehyung blinks slowly at him. “Are we… stating facts?”
“And Jimin, you have your babysitting and all your sports.”
“Why. What is the point.”
“Jungkook.” Seokjin turns to him and is met with a startled, wide-eyed look. “How about your hobbies? What do you like to do?”
The wide-eyed gaze melts into a scowl.
“Nothing? At all?”
“Not even gaming? You played a lot of Overwatch last night for someone who doesn’t like it.”
Jungkook crosses his arms.
“Nothing,” he repeats.
“Okay then.” Seokjin turns back to the stove. “If you think of anything, let me know.”
Later, when Seokjin is cleaning up all the mess he’s made and the kids are getting ready for school, Taehyung pads over and whispers into his ear: “Dance. I think he likes dance. I’ve caught him watching choreography videos a few times.”
Seokjin straightens, thinking.
“Huh,” he muses. “Dance.”
A few days later, Seokjin picks all the kids up from school.
“Who’s ready!” he yells, pumping up the music. Yoongi, in the seat next to him, grumbles and sinks down lower.
“You’re so embarrassing,” Jimin hisses, ducking down so no one can see him getting in the car.
“I’m ready!” Taehyung calls, sliding in next.
Jungkook stops outside the car, glaring at Yoongi.
“Why is he here?” he asks. He fidgets a little on his feet, hands gripping the straps of his backpack. Seokjin can smell the anxiety pouring off of him.
“No official business,” Yoongi says. “It’s my day off, actually.”
“And he’s very kindly decided to accompany us to this dance studio he recommended. A friend of his owns it.”
“Dance and martial arts.” Yoongi frowns, turning the volume down.
“Same thing. In you get!” He reaches over and turns it back up.
“Both are stupid,” Jungkook mutters but gets in anyway. All three squished in the back are cute. Jungkook starts pressed up against the door, but slowly melts into Taehyung’s side. Taehyung, who’s cheerfully singing along to the radio while Jimin is hiding his face from the window.
The dance studio is colourful and vibrant. People are gathered in the reception area, stretching and chatting. There’s a group of people breakdancing in the corner, heavy bass thudding out of their speaker. Seokjin watches them in fascination – if he tried that, no amount of werewolf coordination could save him from breaking something. Probably in his own body.
They approach the front desk.
“We’re here for the—”
“Yoongi!” A beta in a colourful shirt bounds up to them, huge smile on his face. His hair is pushed out of his face with a fluoro yellow headband. And then he just—
Seokjin stares at them in shock. He’s known Yoongi for years. They’ve been through some really fucked up stuff. He can count on one hand the number of people Yoongi lets touch him freely like this and he’d still have fingers left over.
And he doesn’t even know who the hell this is.
“Hey, Hoseok,” Yoongi says into his shoulder. When he pulls away, Seokjin’s jar drops even further. He’s blushing.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were dropping in? I didn’t see your name in any of the class lists!”
“You will never get me into one of those classes,” Yoongi says with a snort. “I came down to show Seokjin the studio, though. Have you two met?”
Hoseok turns to him and his eyes narrow a little.
“We haven’t met, no. But I’ve certainly heard about you.”
Seokjin’s eyes dart to Yoongi, who puts his hands up.
“Not from me. I have better things to talk about than you.”
Hoseok’s arms fold across his front.
“You might be familiar with my pack alpha, Kim Namjoon? I’m his second.”
The name… doesn’t really ring a bell. But pack alpha certainly does.
“Oh.” His smile drops. “How… lovely.” He turns to Yoongi. “This is the only studio you know?”
“Passes are non-refundable!” Hoseok chirps. “Don’t worry, I’ll take great care of you all. Are these your pups?”
As they all introduce themselves, Hoseok’s eyes linger on Taehyung. Then they dart to Yoongi, and back. Seokjin watches it all – Hoseok knows. Beyond sensing that Taehyung’s scent isn’t quite right. He knows like Yoongi has told him. Seokjin directs a meaningful look at Yoongi. Yoongi refuses to meet his gaze.
“Anyway, I need to go now,” Yoongi says loudly, stepping away from Seokjin.
Hoseok turns immediately to him with wide, sad eyes. “Aw, already? I have a break after this class if you’d like to get a coffee.”
Yoongi hesitates. “I guess I can go to do my groceries while I wait.”
Hoseok beams. “Great! See you soon!”
Yoongi nods at him, then turns to the kids. “Bye, runts.” He ruffles Taehyung’s hair, who beams. He looks at Seokjin, but doesn’t say anything.
As soon as Yoongi is out of sight, Seokjin rounds on the beta.
“Coffee? At 6pm at night? Where is even going to be open.”
Disappointingly, Hoseok doesn’t take offence to Seokjin’s words or tone.
“I have faith we’ll find something!” He’s so damn chipper. “Now, who’s ready for hip hop foundations?”
Jimin and Taehyung cheer. Jungkook tries to scowl, but he’s looking around with too much interest to pull it off. Seokjin feels resigned. He is good at many things, but coordination? Not so much.
By the end of the class, he is regretting his decision to join even more. He couldn’t get the short choreography at the end even once and ended up bumping into people more often than not. Weird parts of his body hurt.
But Jungkook’s eyes are shining as he slides smoothly through the complicated footwork that seems a bit much for a beginner class. There’s no scowl in sight.
So it’s worth it.
When Seokjin slams into the school office this time, the principal’s door is open.
“Come right in,” she calls.
Yoongi is already slouched in one of the seats.
“What is this about?”
“How about you take a seat, Mr Kim?” She gestures at the one next to Yoongi. “There’s no need for the posturing today. There’s been no fights.”
Seokjin narrows his eyes at her.
“In class, like he should be. Please take a seat.”
Seokjin slowly lowers himself down. He makes sure to sit primly on the edge of the seat so she’s aware he’s under duress.
“Now I’ve asked you both—”
“Where’s that pack alpha? Isn’t he always invited to these things?”
The principal fixes him with a dirty look.
“If you stop interrupting me, I’ll be able to explain.”
Seokjin gives a fake smile and waves his hand genially. “Don’t let me stop you.”
She glares at him for one moment before fixing her glasses and continuing.
“I’ve asked you both here today not for any kind of punishment, but to help Jungkook. Since joining our school, almost all of his teachers have reported that he’s having difficulty in the classroom.”
“That’s vague. What does that mean? That could mean anything.”
“Academically, he’s not achieving at a high enough standard. If this keeps up, we may have to consider dropping him down a grade. I wanted to bring you both in now so we can find a way to help Jungkook, rather than let it drag on. We don’t want him falling further and further behind.”
Seokjin frowns, sitting back in his chair. Jungkook had never said anything. Neither had the other kids, but they’re two years older than him. Still, they did their homework together each night. Taehyung was always helping out Jimin. Would he have said anything to them?
It makes Seokjin’s chest hurt. He remembers exactly what it feels like, sitting in classrooms all day and not being able to keep up. Feeling it all pile up. He’d hated it. Hated it. Seokjin doesn’t want that for Jungkook.
So it’s with all bravado gone from his tone that he asks, “What can we do to help him?”
Seokjin storms out of the office, fists clenched.
“Absolutely not,” he spits.
Yoongi jogs to keep up with him.
“Seokjin, you’re being unreasonable.”
“I think I’m being perfectly reasonable. I don’t want an alpha, particularly that alpha, around my family.”
“He apologised to you. He’s a nice guy, Jin, and a great alpha.”
Seokjin stops in the middle of the path, sudden enough that Yoongi almost runs into him.
“How do you know he apologised? I didn’t tell you that.”
“He told me that.”
“You two are friends?”
Yoongi sighs in exasperation. “He’s my pack alpha.”
“I thought that old Yang dude was your alpha.”
“Jowoon stepped down months ago. I told you this.”
Seokjin makes a sour face. “So? Doesn’t mean you have to be in this new guy’s pack.”
Yoongi closes his eyes for a moment, then opens them. His expression clears.
“We’re getting off track. We need to focus on Jungkook. Namjoon is your best option and he’s willing to help out.”
“What? You already told him?” Seokjin is working himself up into a rage.
“No, not without your permission, Jin, settle. He’s doing something similar with one of the other pups. And he’s always asking after Jungkook.”
Seokjin scoffs. “Oh, I bet he is. Making sure I’m capable of fostering him, huh? Haven’t—” Seokjin’s face twists, “—neglected one of my pups?”
Yoongi’s face stays stubbornly blank.
“He apologised for that. He’s asking because he cares about Jungkook.”
“He doesn’t even know him!”
“You didn’t know him either before you signed up as his foster parent. You know it’s not as simple as that.”
Seokjin scowls, because Yoongi has a point.
“What makes him such a good teacher anyway? What kind of dumb alpha job does he have.”
“You’re awfully prejudiced for someone so against prejudice,” Yoongi muses.
“He’s a professor at that university on your side of town.”
Seokjin blinks – he hadn’t expected that. At all. That university consistently ranks in the top of the country. Seokjin had been researching it for nearby options for his kids. It’s damn expensive.
So it’s impressive, but Seokjin isn’t convinced. Alphas are alphas. They don’t change.
“I don’t see why I can’t just tutor him.”
The look Yoongi gives him is gentle and it makes Seokjin want to claw something apart.
“You didn’t graduate high school, Jin,” he says softly. “You wouldn’t be able to help him with this.”
“Then we’ll hire him a tutor. It’s not like I don’t have the money.”
“It’s going to take time to find a tutor that’ll fit with Jungkook properly. Time where he’s falling even further behind.”
“We don’t know if this alpha will be a good fit.”
“He knows Jungkook’s history. He’ll treat him fairly. I have complete faith in him for this.”
“Well I’m glad you do—”
“Do you trust me, Jin?” Yoongi’s voice is dead serious. “After everything we’ve been through, do you trust me?”
Seokjin clenches his jaw. He hates when Yoongi pulls out their history like this.
“Of course I do,” he grits out.
“Then trust me that this is the best choice for Jungkook. I know what I’m doing.”
Seokjin’s lips press tight. He puffs a breath out of his nose. He’s not happy about this. But… It’s Yoongi. He owes him his life. More.
“Fine,” he eventually concedes. “Fine. I’ll give him one chance. But as soon as he steps a foot wrong, he’s out.”
Yoongi brightens up.
“And he won’t fuck with anything to do with my kids. He’s got to understand that this is not his pack.”
“He needs to control himself at all times. I don’t want his alpha stench sinking into the house.”
“He’s a pack alpha, not a pup, Jin.”
“I don’t care. I’ve kept my house clear of alpha bullshit so far. It better stay that way.”
“He has one! One! Trial session to see if he’s any good. After that, if I say he’s gone, he’s gone. Got that?”
“I would expect nothing less.”
“Well then. Fine. You organise it with him. I don’t want to talk to him unless I have to.” He steps past Yoongi and stalks to his car.
“Very petty, Jin!” Yoongi yells after him.
Seokjin slams his car door in reply.
“Did someone order delivery?” Jimin yells.
Seokjin uncurls himself from the seat with a sigh. This weekend is the full moon and it’s affecting him more than normal. He wants to burrow down and nest in his wolf form, but instead he has to deal with this.
“Where’s your offering?” Jimin is asking the alpha at the door. “Books? Jin doesn’t like books.”
“I… have no idea what you’re talking about,” the alpha says.
“It’s fine, Jimin, no delivery for us today.” He takes the door from Jimin, who looks between them slowly. “Go away.”
Jimin smirks and slinks away.
“Hello.” The alpha smiles at him and his dimples wink into existence. Ugh. “I’m excited to get started. Thanks for letting me into your home.”
“I have no other choice,” Seokjin says bluntly. “You have one session to prove you’re capable of this.”
“That’s fair. I’ll see how Jungkook and I—”
“No spreading your alpha stink in my house,” Seokjin cuts in. “And none of your pack bullshit. This is my house with my pups. Not yours.”
“Seokjin,” the alpha says quietly. “Of course I will respect your boundaries. If I do anything that makes you or your pups uncomfortable, let me know, okay? I’m here to help Jungkook as much as I’m able. Not to be an asshole.”
Seokjin hmphs, angry at the reasonable answer. He’d expected to see some of his alpha arrogance again. Then it’d be easy to kick him out and find a better tutor for Jungkook.
But Namjoon just seems calm. So far, at least.
“Fine. Come in. But I’m just warning you, Jungkook isn’t happy about this.”
That’s a bit of an understatement. Jungkook hadn’t spoken to him since he’d broken the news yesterday. He’d also refused to eat anything at dinner last night.
Jungkook is still being sulky when Seokjin leaves Namjoon in the dining room with him. He chose the dining room because it’s open on two sides, meaning Seokjin can pretty unobtrusively spy on them without it looking like he is, in fact, spying on them.
He wanders in and out of the room at first, bringing them snacks and tea. The alpha accepts it all gracefully, while Jungkook just sits there with his arms crossed.
When Seokjin settles into the armchair that has a direct view of the table, he notices the alpha has glasses on. It makes him look… kind of attractive, actually.
Fuck no. Not going down that route. It’s too close to the full moon. And of course Seokjin would be reacting in strange ways to seeing an alpha being gentle with one of his own. It’s just his dumb omega instincts.
It takes about forty minutes for Jungkook to uncross his arms and begin looking down at the book in front of him in interest. He’s still not saying much, but he nods every once in a while to what Namjoon is saying.
And Namjoon? He looks animated. Like there’s nothing else he’d rather be doing than trying to tutor a reticent 14-year-old omega. He doesn’t ever speak down to Jungkook – he talks to him directly, exactly the same as he would with Seokjin. He waits patiently for Jungkook to, eventually, stutter out what he wants to say.
He’s a good teacher.
Seokjin’s back relaxes.
Instead of pretending to play on his phone, he plays for real. Somehow, he ends up on Instagram. Somehow, he ends up on Yoongi’s profile, searching through his followers for someone in particular.
It ends in disappointment. Like a coward – and probably unsurprisingly – Namjoon’s Instagram is on private.
“We’re all done here.”
Seokjin startles so hard his phone goes flying.
“Oh, let me—”
“I got it!” Seokjin yells, lunging after the phone and scooping it up before Namjoon can see his shame. A waterfall of pillows and blankets fall to the floor – everything Seokjin had unconsciously started burrowing beneath. They both stand there and stare down at it all.
Seokjin goes a little red. He desperately looks around for a distraction.
“He mentioned something about Overwatch. I think he went upstairs.”
“Unsurprising,” Seokjin mutters, bending down to scoop everything up and deposit it back onto the armchair. He sees Namjoon twitch forward like he wants to help, but he thankfully doesn’t. He probably knows Seokjin doesn’t want his alpha scent all over the things he uses to nest. That’s way too intimate. “How did it go?”
“I think it went well! He’s a good kid.”
Seokjin pauses and looks at him with his eyebrows raised. “You can tell me the truth.”
“I mean it. He’s rough around the edges, but I didn’t expect any less. He can also learn just fine. I suspect he finds it difficult to concentrate in the classroom with so many others around him. And he has little motivation to try, which I don’t blame him for. As long as I can keep tying it to things he’s interested in, we’ll move fast.”
“Oh. That’s… that’s good.” Seokjin feels a little vulnerable. He wishes suddenly that he’d had someone in his life like Namjoon all those years ago, someone willing to put in the time to help and not just label him as an idiot.
But that’s a long time ago. And instead of getting someone like that, he got an alpha who ruined his self-esteem so badly, he couldn’t trust his own thoughts.
So that’s that.
“Talk to Jungkook and let me know if you’d like me to come back,” Namjoon says. “I’m more than willing, but Jungkook is the most important person here. Here, let me give you my number.”
Seokjin holds out his phone automatically then quickly snatches it back when his brain catches up. Namjoon blinks at him in surprise.
“Ah ha. Oops.” Seokjin unlocks his phone and swipes out of Instagram. “Here you go.”
Namjoon programs his number in then hands it back to Seokjin.
“I sent myself a message so I have your number.”
“Give out your number a lot?”
“I always like for people to have an open line of communication with me.”
Which is… not what Seokjin was getting at. Wait, fuck. Has he been…? Flirting? Oh fuck no. This fucking full moon.
“I’ll let you know,” Seokjin says abruptly. “You can leave now.”
Namjoon doesn’t look offended. He smiles and bows his head, murmurs a goodbye, and leaves.
Seokjin hears a giggle and running footsteps.
“Don’t you dare add that to your stupid poster!” he yells.
“Too late!” Jimin giggles back.
When Seokjin asks how the tutoring went, Jungkook shrugs one shoulder and mumbles, “Fine…”
Which in Jungkook speak is equivalent to singing his praises.
When he goes into Namjoon’s new contact to let him know, he sees the message Namjoon had sent himself.
Seokjin squints down at it then sighs. He does not find it cute.
Hello this is Seokjin
Namjoon replies too fast.
Ah, I wasn’t sure. Thanks for clearing that up 😊
Seokjin’s fingers pause when typing his message and he frowns.
We’ll be going ahead with the tutoring sessions
Was that meant to be sarcastic? Funny??
Can’t wait! I’ll see you tomorrow at the same time, yeah?
Seokjin stares down at the messages for a while longer, but only gets two thumbs up in response. He groans and throws his phone to the side.
They set up a schedule after the next tutoring session – Namjoon will be over three afternoons a week for an hour and a half. Jungkook doesn’t seem very happy, but he also doesn’t complain. Seokjin takes this as Jungkook-speak for being ecstatic.
Seokjin is less so. He doesn’t know how to feel about Namjoon and his stupid alpha-ness. Namjoon has been nothing less than respectful – Seokjin can barely feel his presence when he’s in the house. That means he’s either too weak to exude much, or he’s powerful enough to control it like Seokjin can his own. Seeing as how Seokjin has felt his presence before, it has to be the second one.
Seokjin doesn’t know what to make of him.
The other kids love him, though. Seokjin has to shoo them out of the room so Jungkook can actually learn something. He lets them shift in the backyard and chase each other around.
Afterwards, Namjoon comes up to him.
“The full moon is this weekend,” he says.
Seokjin looks out at the kids who are even more excitable than normal, tumbling in a blur across the grass.
“You don’t say?”
“You’re more than welcome to run on our pack lands, if you wish.”
Seokjin’s head snaps back to Namjoon. His eyes narrow.
Namjoon quickly adds, “I mean nothing by it! I’m not trying to make you join my pack, although of course you’re more than welcome. But you’ve made your position clear and I respect that. I’ve been inviting all the pack-less wolves in the area. There aren’t too many places around that’re as perfect as the pack lands for a full moon run.”
Seokjin’s eyes stay narrowed.
“I’ll think about it.”
“Sure! No pressure.” He smiles and yep, there are the dimples. “Let me know. Or don’t. You can just show up, if you wish. Yoongi knows the address.”
Seokjin makes a vague sound that could mean anything. Namjoon doesn’t seem offended.
“Bye Jimin! Bye Taehyung!”
The kids fall apart, two heads popping up to stare at Namjoon with pricked ears. Then they come racing across the lawn towards them. Taehyung weaves himself through Seokjin’s legs, but between his normal growth and the hormone therapy, he’s getting a little too big for that. He smacks into Seokjin’s knee, making him stumble a little. Jimin butts his head against Namjoon’s leg and Namjoon smiles down at him.
It makes something ugly take root in Seokjin’s chest.
“Bye Namjoon,” he snaps out. At his tone, Jimin leaps to his side and leans into his leg. Seokjin’s hand buries itself into his fur. As an alpha, his wolf is big enough to comfortably do that. He still has to bend down a little to do the same with Taehyung.
“I’ll see you this weekend,” Namjoon says, voice gentle. “Maybe.”
Seokjin is wound up tight until he hears the front door slam shut. Then he sinks down and buries his hands into Jimin’s scruff.
“Traitor,” he mumbles. He rubs his scent all over Jimin until there’s no trace of Namjoon. “He is not your alpha.”
Jimin whines, butting his head against Seokjin’s chest. Taehyung hooks his head over Seokjin’s shoulder.
“No getting attached to any other alphas,” he says, grabbing Jimin’s head and looking him in the eye. “It’s just us. That’s all we need.”
Jimin’s tongue shoots out and laps him up the face.
“Ugh!” Seokjin falls backwards onto his ass. Then Jimin is off and Taehyung is following, sprinting out across the yard.
It was Yoongi in the end who convinces Seokjin to go to Namjoon’s pack lands for the full moon. He’d stayed up too late deliberating and eventually decided it was a terrible idea. But then Yoongi had come over and mentioned it in front of the kids, who gave Seokjin no choice but to go. He’s supposed to be their omega. They’re supposed to do what he wants. But here he is, putting his car into park and glaring out at the gathered people.
The kids throw open the door and zoom out, leaving Jungkook and Seokjin in the front seat. Jungkook has his arms angrily crossed. They’d already had three fights this morning. Nothing to do with what was really putting Jungkook in this mood. Just minor things. First, he hated dinner (despite being fine with the same thing a few days ago). Next was not having enough time in the bathroom. And finally it was what Seokjin had tuned the radio to.
Even through the car door, Seokjin can feel the scents of all the pack members like a warm simmer. Namjoon’s presence shines like sunlight – the full force is out today and even Seokjin can’t help his response to it. He can feel the anticipation of the pack, the joyfulness. He spots a few other people hanging on the sidelines, obviously not part of the pack like them. So Namjoon hadn’t been lying about that.
“I’m not shifting,” Jungkook says abruptly, jolting Seokjin so violently from his thoughts that he jumps. He has to blink a few times to get his head switched back on. This is something that he’d anticipated.
Jungkook is staring out the front windshield. His face is pale. He still has his backpack with him.
“That’s fine,” Seokjin says. “You don’t have to. But it would be nice to still have you around. The kids would be very sad if they didn’t see you on a full moon night.”
Jungkook’s head whips around.
“You’re not going to force me to shift? Like, Command me, or whatever?”
“One, Commanding is for alphas. We omegas just suggest. Strongly.” Manipulate, Seokjin adds in his head. “And two, shifting is your decision. No one else’s.” He holds eye contact with Jungkook until he looks away. “It won’t be that comfortable, but I brought a sleeping bag for you. You can sleep in the car or out with us.”
Jungkook is silent for a moment.
“Sounds uncomfortable,” he says with a scowl and jumps out of the car.
Seokjin sighs and follows him.
The kids are all hanging over Yoongi and Hoseok. He looks between the two suspiciously. He still hasn’t managed to get any answers out of Yoongi. Which means it’s definitely a thing.
“So Hoseok,” Seokjin says, strolling forward innocently, “do you plan to spend tomorrow with Yoongi?”
Yoongi chokes a little. Hoseok goes wide-eyed.
The full moon has an interesting effect on adult wolves. It made them want to either fight or fuck. Seokjin doesn’t really understand the science of it – or care – but it relates to their connection with the moon. Any other time he shifts, the urge isn’t there. But there’s often fights the morning after a full moon. Or wolves sneaking off in pairs and groups to find a secluded area.
“That’s none of your—”
“Seokjin!” Namjoon comes over, waving at them with a big smile. Seokjin’s stomach does something funny. He can’t tell if it’s nerves or if maybe he shouldn't have eaten so much dinner earlier.
Namjoon is in more traditional full moon garb – just a red silk robe with probably nothing beneath, if the deep, golden V of his chest is anything to go by. Something that’s easy to take off before shifting.
Seokjin feels cheap in his sweatpants, despite them being from a big brand and perfectly fitting his long legs.
Namjoon greets the rest of the kids and even gets a semi-reaction out of Jungkook.
“I’m glad you could make it,” Namjoon says, straightening up to focus his gaze on Seokjin. It feels like Seokjin has all of his attention. It always feels a bit like that with Namjoon, but now it’s more pronounced – especially with his scent permeating the air around them. Seokjin hasn’t felt this way over an alpha in a long time. It’s not a very welcome feeling.
Fucking full moon. Fucking strong alphas.
“It’ll be good for the kids to stretch their legs on all this land.”
“Well we’re just waiting for a few other pack members, but we should be good to go by sunset. You can—”
Seokjin recognises the voice and sighs. An alpha is jogging over to them, eyes fixed hungrily on him. Despite being familiar, Seokjin can’t remember his name. If he ever bothered to memorise it in the first place.
“I didn’t know you’d be here,” the alpha says. His nostrils flare as he breathes in Seokjin’s scent. It makes him want to die a little bit.
“I don’t see why I would’ve told you,” Seokjin says cooly, folding his arms. “This is my time with my family.”
“Oh, uh—” The alpha’s gaze darts around all the people now staring at him. “Right. I’ll let you at it. Come find me on the run. Or afterwards.” He winks and jogs away.
Seokjin wants to gag.
He turns back and realises Namjoon hasn’t left yet.
“Uh, as I was saying. You can leave all of your—”
Seokjin closes his eyes and begs for the run to start already.
“You look perfectly lovely,” the new alpha purrs, closing in on them. “Very cuddly.”
Seokjin burrows a little deeper into his pink fluffy jacket.
“How nice of you to notice,” Seokjin says. “And come over here to inform me.”
The alpha doesn’t take the hint.
“And your children! How sweet! What were their names again?”
“They’re teenagers, not babies. You can ask them directly.”
“Jungnam, thank you for joining us,” Namjoon cuts in.
The other alpha seems to finally register him and bows his head deeply.
“Come, tell me about your new business you launched. How was opening day?” Namjoon leads him away, but not before shooting Seokjin a tiny smile over his shoulder. Seokjin… doesn’t really know how to deal with that.
“Woah.” Hoseok’s gaze is darting between Seokjin and the retreating pair. “What the? Does that happen often?”
Jimin bursts into laughter. Yoongi sighs.
“Only every time an alpha gets his scent!” Jimin says, hands over his mouth to try and contain his giggles. “You should see all the courting gifts we get.”
Seokjin frowns, crossing his arms.
“It’s annoying. They’re all annoying.” Seokjin doesn’t even bother pretending to be nice half the time and yet they still keep coming back.
“Must be a hard problem to have,” Hoseok says, eyes wide and saying it like it’s not much of a problem at all. “And like, I don’t mean this in a bad way because obviously you’re like… a perfect specimen of a human being, even after that dance class where you looked like you were about to pass out, but… really?”
Seokjin’s head jerks back. “I was not about to pass out,” he says haughtily.
He definitely was.
Yoongi sighs even louder. “It’s the face plus the scent plus the kids. It’s like an aphrodisiac to alphas. To them, Seokjin’s scent is like… times a thousand.”
“And…” Seokjin leans in close to Hoseok, who goes a little cross-eyed. “The kids show I’m ready to be locked up and pumped full of some alpha’s come until I’m popping pups out left, right and centre.”
If they knew truth about his ability to have pups, they wouldn’t be interested. Seokjin’s mood dampens a little.
“Noooo!” Taehyung wails, covering his ears while Jimin gags. Jungkook looks very serious, frowning at the ground. Yoongi looks up at the sky like he wants to be anywhere but here, while Hoseok just looks intrigued.
“Wow, really? Like, I can tell your wolf is strong but I can’t tell all that other stuff.”
“If only more alphas were like you.”
“I’m a beta.”
“Exactly,” Seokjin sighs. Hoseok looks like he wants to ask more, but a piercing whistle interrupts them. It’s Namjoon. They all gather around closer, but Seokjin stays on the edges. There’s got to be about thirty or forty wolves here.
“Thank you for joining me on this full moon,” Namjoon says. His voice is quiet, calm, and his scent rolls across the wolves like a ocean breeze. “Whether you’re in my pack or not, all are welcome. Rules are the same as always. Safe fights only. Try to run with at least one other person. You’re welcome to rest anywhere on the lands, but I’ll be coming back here. And if I see anyone having sex on the road in the morning, pack or not, I’ll kick your asses out. Got it?”
People laugh. Seokjin blinks. He’d seen small glimpses of this confident, assured Namjoon, but he’d always seemed just a little too anxious to be truly commanding. Especially not like this. He’s a steady, assured figure in front of the crowd. Seokjin almost can’t correlate them – this Namjoon with the one that nervously complimented his house the other day.
The crowd disperses. Wolves start undressing, shifting. Surprisingly, Namjoon heads back over to them. To Jungkook, more precisely.
Seokjin leans a little closer to overhear.
“I’d appreciate it if you found a good place for us all to come back to. Somewhere in this clearing, but not too close to the cars. Do you mind doing that for me?”
Jungkook looks a little wild-eyed.
“Oh, uh… I’m not shifting, though.”
“That’s fine,” Namjoon says with a soft smile. “That’s what makes you perfect for this. I always like to have someone standing guard back here to watch over everyone returning. A sentinel, is what they used to call it.”
And now the emotion on Jungkook’s face is verging towards hero-worship.
Two furry heads bump into his legs and he’s jolted from his eavesdropping. Jimin dances around, tail wagging madly. His wolf always makes Seokjin laugh a little, since he’s white but tinged a little pink from his dyed hair. It looks ridiculous. Like a cotton-candy wolf. His eyes gleam blood-red. Taehyung is a lot sleeker than Jimin, smaller, with a silvery hue. He looks like the moon’s reflection on a lake at midnight. He’s started to bulk up, loosing the classic omega delicacy. It makes him somewhat unsteady on his feet. His eyes look more beta gold each time he shifts. There’s only a trace of the blue left.
They’re both pretty pretty wolves, but they have way too much energy. Another reason he’d given in so easily – there’s much more land here that they can tire themselves out on, without bothering him the whole time.
“I’ll see you out there,” Namjoon says and Seokjin’s head comes up when he realises that soft tone is directed at him.
“Maybe,” he replies.
Namjoon smiles, dimples cutting into his cheeks, and walks off. Seokjin stares after him for a moment before breathing out. He turns to Seokjin.
“I’ll be checking in frequently, okay?” he says. “You need anything, you let me know. We don’t have to stay the night if you’re not comfortable.”
Jungkook’s face transforms back into his usual scowl.
“I’m fine, god. Go away.”
By this time, most of the wolves have shifted. Namjoon is talking quietly to a family next to a station wagon. He’d lost track of Yoongi and Hoseok a while ago.
He unzips his jacket and shimmies out of his pants. His skin prickles in the cool evening air. The sun has set by now and the world is cast in shades of grey. He can feel the energy from the moon rushing through him. He breathes out and grasps onto it.
For weaker wolves, the shift is a slow process – shuddering, grinding, painful. But it shimmers over Seokjin like water and suddenly he’s on all fours. His sense of smell heightens, the individual scents of all the gathered wolves popping out. His sight flattens out, becomes duller but sharper.
He shakes his head to clear all the smells. It’s been a while since he’s been around so many wolves on a full moon.
It would’ve been even longer for Jimin and Taehyung, if ever. They bound around him, shaking with excitement.
Seokjin feels the moment Namjoon shifts. It’s like a pulse through his pack.
Then his howl goes up – long and eerie. Other howls join it. Seokjin sits back on his haunches, waiting. Jimin and Taehyung join in with excited yaps.
Then the pack is off.
Each full moon feels like the first one. Memory always dilutes it. It’s freedom incarnate – wind rushing through his fur, paws flying over the forest floor, the moon singing in his veins. Jimin races ahead and Seokjin is happy to follow his lead.
Seokjin doesn’t know how long they spend running. Time blurs, especially with the full moon pulsing overhead. Other wolves fade in and out, none staying for very long. Yoongi joins them for a while, then slips back away.
They end up in a tiny clearing, one with a small stream in the middle. Jimin and Taehyung take turns leaping over it, then Taehyung pushes Jimin in and there’s water everywhere. Seokjin sits a careful distance away, head on his paws and just watching them. His sides heave. He’s not used to having this much free space to roam in. Damn Namjoon.
And as if his thoughts summoned him, Seokjin picks up on a familiar scent. His head perks up, ears forward, just as Namjoon pads into the clearing. He’s big – much bigger than Seokjin. His fur is a sleek, tawny colour. He’s much more graceful on four legs than Seokjin’s ever seen him with two.
Seokjin stays as he is, muscles vibrating. As a wolf, it’s harder to resist his omega instincts. And they’re saying roll over, submit yourself, give the alpha anything he wants.
It’s enough to make Seokjin a little sick.
Namjoon must sense the change in his scent because he pauses, one leg in the air. Carefully he lowers his head to the ground. His eyes stay locked on Seokjin. And the overwhelming alpha pheromones in the air quieten.
Seokjin breathes out, some of the tension leaving him. His gaze is still careful as Namjoon slides closer, his butt high in the air behind him, tail moving slowly like a metronome. The kids yip and splash in the background.
Namjoon moves closer, closer, closer—
Seokjin lunges forward, nipping right in front of his nose. Then he dances back, panting out a laugh at Namjoon’s startled expression. He doesn’t remain surprised for long, though. Then he’s the one lunging after Seokjin. Seokjin barks and races away – not far, though. He can’t leave the kids.
Namjoon hurtles through the underbrush after him. Seokjin curves back around to the kids. They burst into the clearing again. Seokjin sees the stream—
And throws himself to the side. Namjoon doesn’t have fast enough reflexes – he tries to balk, but his momentum carries him right into the muddy stream. The kids look up from their play fight and immediately start yipping.
Seokjin settles back down, crossing his paws in front of him. Namjoon is covered in dirty water. Dripping. He stares down Seokjin. Seokjin stares right back. The bigger wolf pads forward and Seokjin realises what he’s about to do just before he does it.
But by then it’s too late.
Namjoon shakes, water spraying everywhere. It smacks right into Seokjin’s face, stinky and wet and gross. He can hear Namjoon’s wheezy dog laugh as he rubs his head against his paws, trying to get all of that nasty shit off.
Namjoon yips at him once and trots out of the clearing. Seokjin jumps up after him, growling. The kids chase after them.
Seokjin wakes slowly when the sky is shining red and orange. The sun isn’t visible over the treetops yet, but it’s enough to light the sky on fire, even with his wolf sight. He feels totally blissed out. Zen. His mind hums. Taehyung and Jimin are pressed up close to him, heads pressed together so tightly they’re breathing the same air.
And in between them—
Jungkook. Curled up in his sleeping bag with his head resting on Taehyung’s flank and one hand fisted in Jimin’s fur. His face is turned towards Seokjin, body curved around Jimin so his feet almost graze Seokjin’s tail.
Seokjin closes his eyes and just breathes.
Not long after, the kids wake up. They jostle Jungkook as they squirm about. Jungkook scowls, even in his sleep, rolling away and curling up in a tight ball. The kids shift back to two legs, running naked to grab their bag of clothes. Shrieking is involved. Seokjin sighs – his previous bliss is gone.
He stands up, pushing back into a deep stretch. The rest of Namjoon’s pack are scattered about, some still in wolf form, some shifted. He sees someone dragging another person over to the backseat of a car.
An alpha pads closer and Seokjin curls his lip back from his teeth, snarling. The alpha keeps walking.
He shifts back and everything slams into him, leaving him reeling for a moment. His senses aren’t as heightened anymore, but now he’s got this restless energy coursing through him.
Fight or fuck.
He forces it down and takes a deep breath. Then he grabs his pants, hopping around to get them on. He shrugs into his jacket but is too lazy to zip it up properly. He looks over and sees Namjoon not far away. Several wolves surround him. Some quite close.
He looks away.
“Looking for company?”
Seokjin sighs and doesn’t even turn around to face the voice.
“There’s nothing I want less. Keep moving along.”
Thankfully, he leaves. Then—
The wave of anger hits him first. Then the raised voices. It’s deep, tinged with omega and furious. But most of all, it’s familiar – Jungkook.
He takes a second to locate him, another few seconds to run over, and by then all the anger is gone. What’s left is cold, cold. Chilling emptiness, echoing with rage.
Jungkook is crouched on the ground, hands over his ears. He’s shaking. There’s an alpha in front of him, face twisted with contempt.
“Back the fuck off!” Seokjin snarls, shoving him hard. The alpha stumbles back. “I will tear your fucking head off.” He bares his teeth – he can feel Jungkook right behind him, his pain. As much as he wants to lunge at the alpha, he needs to protect his pup more.
“Oh there’s another one! At least you can shift.” The alpha’s face is ugly. The full moon is riding him hard. Then his voice deepens, scent becoming like a physical force as he Commands, “Step aside, omega. Let the pup shift.”
Jungkook whines from behind him.
Seokjin’s legs jerk for a moment, then stay firm. He’s faced down much stronger Commands than this.
The alpha, though – he isn’t used to anyone refusing his Commands. His eyes go wide when Seokjin doesn’t move.
“Nice try, you piss weak excuse for an al—”
“Luca.” Namjoon’s voice rolls through the clearing, containing all the power the alpha in front of him had lacked. “Back down. Now.”
The alpha stays strong for a moment, sweat breaking out on his forehead. Then he shudders and caves in, shoulders rounding in submission as he stumbles back.
“Don’t move,” Namjoon says to him, striding past and towards Seokjin.
Seokjin can barely see straight. He spreads his legs and snarls. The shift hovers just beneath his skin. His eyes are glowing blue.
Namjoon stops dead. His eyes flare red, then he blinks it away.
His voice is entreating, lacking all of the earlier dominance, when he says, “Seokjin, Jungkook—”
“Shut up. Great alphas you have in your pack, huh?” His fists are clenched so hard his nails bite into his palms. He wants to tear into something with his teeth. He wants to hurt. Waves of pain are still rolling off of Jungkook.
It’s Yoongi, stepping forward. He’s the closest to pack Seokjin has outside of his family. But even he feels grating, covered in Hoseok’s scent.
“Stop,” he says, throwing out his hand. “Both of you. Stay the fuck back.”
Namjoon nods slowly. Seokjin’s eyes fly to Yoongi, who bows his head. Then he spins around, dropping to his knees in front of Jungkook. He has to close his eyes for a moment, breathing in and trying to wash away the rage. He locks it all down. Instead, he pushes out his comforting pheromones. The ones that go through you like honey, relaxing and soothing.
Jungkook loosens, hands dropping to his sides.
“Hey pup,” he says softly, hovering close but not touching. “You’re safe now, okay?”
Jungkook’s chest shakes as his breath rattles out. His eyes are wild as they meet Seokjin’s, too large for his pale face.
“He— He— I can’t— I can’t shift—”
“You don’t have to,” Seokjin whispers, “No one can make you. Not when I’m here. I’ve got you.”
Jungkook shakes and shakes. Hesitantly, Seokjin reaches out and cups Jungkook’s shoulder. The reaction is instant – he throws himself forward into Seokjin’s arms. Seokjin grasps him tight, feeling Jungkook’s breath panting against his neck. His nose brushes against his scent gland, right where Seokjin’s comfort pheromones are most potent.
His body goes lax.
Seokjin gathers him up, slipping a hand under his knees and standing up. Jungkook’s head stays buried against his chest. The rest of Namjoon’s pack is arrayed around them, watching with wide eyes. Namjoon himself stands a few feet away, eyes careful.
“You promised a safe environment,” Seokjin says, voice low. Jungkook whines a little at his tone. He has to force himself to calm down.
“Seokjin, I am deeply—”
Jungkook cradled close, Seokjin strides to his car.
Jungkook stays quiet for the next few days. Seokjin keeps waiting for him to lash out at him, to blow up, but he just… doesn’t. He eats, he hangs out with the other kids. He responds when he’s spoken to. He’s just very, very quiet. Seokjin hates it, but he knows not to push it. He’d done what he could at the time, even though he should’ve been paying closer attention. But that’s in the past. Now all he can do is give Jungkook a safe space to work through it.
Three days later, the night before Namjoon is meant to come over for tutoring, Jungkook appears in his bedroom door just as he’s peeling off a face mask.
“Wah!” he yelps, flinching so hard the mask goes flying. It makes a wet sound as it smacks into the wall. Both he and Jungkook stare at it for a moment.
Seokjin clears his throat. “Jungkook. Didn’t, ah, see you. Standing there.” He thinks about going to pick up the mask, but decides it’s too late now. Just gotta steamroll forwards. “What’s up?”
Jungkook doesn’t get the memo, though. He looks at Seokjin, then looks back at the crumpled face mask on the carpet.
“Are you gonna leave that there?”
Seokjin crosses his arms. “Yep. It’s exactly where it’s meant to be.”
Jungkook looks back and forth between them again.
“Okay…” he says slowly. “Whatever. I wanted to ask you—” Jungkook cuts himself off. His lips press together tightly.
“Yes?” Seokjin gently nudges. His hands fall down to his sides. Open body language. He can do this. Softly, subtly, he lets out his pheromones.
“That alpha. When he Commanded you – it didn’t affect you. At all. But you’re just an omega like me. Weak. How?”
Seokjin observes him for a moment. Takes in how worked up he is. His face is a little red, fists clenched tightly. He’s shifting from foot-to-foot like he is being hunted. His gaze keeps darting around Seokjin’s room, which he’s never really been into before.
“Let’s get some tea,” Seokjin says finally, sliding past him out into the hallway.
“Tea sucks,” Jungkook mutters, but follows along regardless.
Seokjin boils the kettle and prepares the teapot.
“This is my bestseller, you know,” he says, breathing in the smell of the dried tealeaves and sighing happily. “I call it worldwide relaxation. Because people all around the world buy it, you know? It was my first international product.”
“That’s a terrible name,” Jungkook says flatly.
“Ah, I love your positivity.” Seokjin hums. “Maybe I’ll let you name the next one. Do you think people will buy it if it’s called ‘tea sucks’?”
Seokjin chuckles to himself. Jungkook stays silent, so that joke didn’t land at all. Jimin can always be counted on for a giggle, but he’s in bed. Where Jungkook was meant to be.
He waits for the tea to steep and settles down at the table. Jungkook stays hovering defensively by the fridge, so he waves at the other seat. Jungkook perches on the edge.
“Tea is good for conversations like these.”
“I don’t care about tea. I just want the answer to my question.”
Seokjin pauses with his hand on the teapot and looks up at Jungkook, eyebrows raising slowly.
“Sorry,” Jungkook mumbles, squirming a little in his seat. Which is pretty shocking, since Seokjin doesn’t think he’s ever apologised for being rude before.
“Well, I need tea for this.” He pours a cup and hands it over to Jungkook anyway. Once his cup is in, he breathes in the delicious floral scent. “Jungkook, there’s two things I want to address in what you said.”
Jungkook sighs and slumps back in his seat. He cradles the cup close to his chest, at least.
“The first is something you’ve mentioned a few times, but I think I proved wrong on the full moon. Omegas are not weak, Jungkook.”
“Yeah they are, they’re at the very bottom of the pack. They just get bossed around by alphas all the time.” His lip curls up in a silent snarl.
“Omegas are equally as important as alphas.” Jungkook snorts, but Seokjin ignores him. “Alphas might be the ones who lead and protect the pack physically, but we’re the ones who bind it together. Our instincts are all geared towards nurturing. We can calm wolves down where alphas only agitate them.”
Jungkook doesn’t look impressed.
“I don’t have any nurturing instincts.”
“You’re still growing, Jungkookie. You have lots of time to understand your body. I don’t think you’ve had the opportunity to do that in a safe space, so far.”
Jungkook twitches, face clouding over.
“I don’t need a safe space to know omegas are weak,” he spits. “Any alpha can Command us and makes us do what they want!”
Seokjin sips his tea and waits for Jungkook to begrudgingly settle down and do the same.
“Alphas have their Commands. And we have our pheromones.”
Jungkook scowls. “Everyone has pheromones. Even betas.”
“But not as strong as ours,” Seokjin says with a wink.
“What’s this got to do with resisting Commands?”
“Just a related sidenote. I wanted you to understand that omegas have our own kind of power. As for how I resisted his Command,” Seokjin shrugs, “he was a weak alpha. It didn’t take much. I’d have more trouble if someone strong like Namjoon Commanded me.”
“But he Commanded me and I couldn’t say no.”
“To start, that’s a violation of consent. And sadly a grey area of the law.” Seokjin frowns, thinking of that alpha and ramming something through his face.
“Seokjin,” Jungkook hisses.
“The stronger you are as an omega, the easier it is to resist a Command,” Seokjin finally says. Jungkook’s mouth opens but Seokjin talks over him. “Yes there are some things we can do to build up your strength. A lot of it will come from the natural strength of your omega. Which, if you accept your omega side more, I think you’ll find is quite strong.” He sits forward, placing his mug on the table. “But Jungkook… if you feel like you can’t be comfortable with your omega side, like it doesn’t feel right to you… that’s okay too. We can talk through it. But I want you to think about how you feel about it, rather than what you’ve been told.”
What his mother told him, more accurately. But Seokjin can’t be that brutally honest yet. He thinks Jungkook’s only ever been taught that omegas are weak. Seokjin has now given him several examples of how that’s not the case.
It’s up to Jungkook, now, and how he feels.
Jungkook is thinking hard, brows furrowed.
“You mean…” he says slowly. “Like Taehyung? How he’s omega but not?”
“Taehyung is a beta.” Seokjin keeps his tone measured, not too chiding.
Jungkook’s eyebrows furrow down lower. Seokjin sits there patiently and watches him turn everything over in his mind.
“So…” he eventually starts. “If I want to be a… strong… omega. Like you. You’ll tutor me?
Seokjin smiles. “Not quite. More meditation, than tutoring. I’ll see you at 6am in the morning.” He gets up and puts his cup in the sink, washing out the teapot.
“6am? What? Why?”
“Gotta build up that mental strength somehow. Now, it’s way past your bedtime. Get to sleep.”
Jungkook grumbles as he slumps out of the room. He leaves his mug on the table instead of washing it up.
Seokjin answers the door before anyone else, for once. Might have something to do with him sitting right next to it, waiting for this.
“Ah, Namjoon. What an unexpected surprise.”
The pack alpha blinks at him.
“Oh, I thought we agreed on Tuesdays? Either way, I wanted to—”
Seokjin can hear footsteps creeping closer, so he takes a step outside and closes the door behind him. It puts him right in Namjoon’s personal space. Namjoon’s eyes widen and he takes a hasty step back.
“Let’s get something straight,” Seokjin cuts in, leaning in close and narrowing his eyes. The pheromones he’s putting out are not comforting. “That thing that happened on the full moon? Never happening again. If you or one of your alphas tries to Command anyone in my family, I’ll rip out your fucking throats.”
Namjoon nods, face grave. “If that happened again, I’d probably let you.”
Seokjin blinks and straightens up. “What?” He’s not used to being caught off-guard. He doesn’t like it.
“What that alpha did was a violation of our pack laws. He’s been cast out. I’ll do my best to make sure it never happens again. Jungkook might not be part of my pack, but he deserves to feel safe during a full moon run with them. I apologise I failed in this.”
“Cast out?” Seokjin parrots dumbly.
“He violated a pups consent. It’s the worst punishment I can legally give without getting the authorities involved.” Namjoon looks a little unsure for a moment. “I assumed you didn’t want them involved? It’s okay if you do.”
Seokjin crosses his arms. He can’t help the scowl that takes over his face. He’s annoyed. He’s meant to be the one yelling at Namjoon. He has days of righteous anger built up. He didn’t expect Namjoon to be like this. It’s annoying.
“You betrayed all of our trust.”
Seokjin watches him closely for any signs of the typical alpha ego.
“I know and I apologise. Words aren’t very helpful after the fact, but it’s all I have. I understand if you don’t want me near Jungkook anymore, but I would like to apologise to him as well. If he’s comfortable with that.”
Seokjin stares at Namjoon so long that he starts fidgeting.
“If… if not, that’s also—”
“How are you real?” he blurts out before he can stop himself. Namjoon looks shocked. And then a little unsure. Seokjin can’t bare to look at him anymore. He’s so, just… ugh.
He spins around and throws open the door. Jimin and Taehyung go sprinting away.
He stops a few feet in and sees Namjoon hovering in the doorway.
“What are you doing?”
“Oh, did that mean—”
He leads Namjoon in to where Jungkook is already set up at the dining room table, legs kicking back and forth. He perks up when he sees Namjoon, eyes going wide.
Seokjin leaves them to it. He fiddles around in the kitchen for a moment before curling up in his armchair with some tea. He pretends to flip through a magazine as he watches them both.
Namjoon finishes speaking and Jungkook goes really red. He stares down at his books and jerkily nods his head. Namjoon smiles, and they start their lesson like nothing is wrong.
Seokjin isn’t at the same level of comfort. Jungkook goes back to normal, but Seokjin stays there to keep a close eye on them. If Jungkook displays any signs of being uncomfortable, he’s kicking Namjoon out and never letting him back in again.
But he doesn’t. Namjoon is soft and helpful, never getting offended or rising to the bait when Jungkook gets frustrated. He’s respectful.
It makes Seokjin mad. He’s only met a few alphas who have as strong a presence as Namjoon. All of them had been assholes. Pretty much all alphas are. But so far, Namjoon is just being Namjoon. Ugh.
When the tutoring finishes up and Jungkook has scampered off to find the other kids, Seokjin walks Namjoon to the door. Seokjin is quiet. Completely different to how he’d been when he’d answered the door. He’s just… confused. Namjoon is confusing.
“You know,” Namjoon says when he’s on the front porch. “You do a really good job with those kids. I’m glad you took Jungkook. He’s really settled in here.”
Seokjin stares at him. He knows he’s doing a good job. He doesn’t need anyone else to tell him. He knows. But hearing it from Namjoon – it’s different.
To his absolute horror, he feels his cheeks going red.
“I don’t need your validation,” he snaps. “I know this is the best place for him.”
Namjoon just smiles at him like he easily sees through Seokjin’s bullshit. His dimples deepen, eyes disappearing in happy little curves.
“Okay, Jin,” he says. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
If Seokjin’s cheeks go even redder as he watches him leave, he’ll never admit it.
The next few weeks fly by as they finally fall into a semi-comfortable routine. Jungkook settles in. And while he doesn’t open up much to Seokjin, they fight a lot less. Now, it’s a general level of grumbling and a lot less ‘weak omega’ comments.
The biggest difference is with the kids. They’ve all become attached at the hip. Jimin and Taehyung are the same age and Jungkook a few years behind, but that doesn’t stop any of them. They spend their free time either either playing video games or tumbling around outside. Jungkook still refuses to shift, but he seems happy enough to play-fight with the two wolves as if he is.
Seokjin spends his days making soap and tea and whatever new fad has caught his fancy to sell through his online store. He’s less paranoid about his phone, now. Jungkook gets a few more detentions, but as long as he’s not suspended, Seokjin doesn’t mind. He doesn’t tell Jungkook that, of course.
Namjoon is still over three days a week with his patient confidence and annoying dimples. Seokjin watches him like a hawk, but he does nothing untoward. He’s the perfect gentleman. Seokjin can’t quite trust it. But maybe that’s just because he’s noticed Jungkook looking at Namjoon with naked hero worship in his eyes and it sets all of his jealous instincts off. Seokjin hates it. But Jungkook’s grades are slowly improving, so he can’t say anything.
But apart from that, everything’s fine. Which means something has to give.
It starts off as a normal morning – Seokjin yelling five times from downstairs that breakfast is ready, no one moving so he has to get the water gun out. Taehyung’s bed is empty, however.
“Where’d he go?” he asks Jimin with a frown.
Jimin’s eyes are barely open as he stomps past him. He’d been out with friends the night before at a party. Taehyung had stayed behind, as he often does when Jimin hangs out with his extremely extroverted group of friends. “I dunno. Bathroom?”
Seokjin’s frown deepens. He knocks on the bathroom door.
“Taehyung? You in there?”
He knows Taehyung’s in there. He can feel him. But something’s wrong – his usual bright aura feels muted, dull. Grey.
“Taehyung, I’m gonna come in, okay?” Seokjin keeps his voice cheerful, makes sure his pheromones are nothing but comfort.
He cracks open the door and his eyes immediately zoom in on Taehyung. He’s in the shower in his pyjamas, knees clutched to his chest and completely sopping wet. The shower isn’t on. He’s shivering and his eyes stare vacantly at the wall.
Seokjin’s nose flares. Beneath the water, he can smell the faint tang of slick. Coming from Taehyung’s shivering body.
Seokjin’s heart lurches. He works to not let any of his distress show. Since he’d started the hormone therapy, his heats had begun to peter out. They’re mostly gone, now.
But not completely.
Each time is just a reminder to Taehyung that he was born in the wrong body. And everything he went through because of it.
“It’s one of those days, huh?” he says softly, grabbing one of the fluffy towels. He kneels in the shower, pants getting wet. “Let’s get you in some better pyjamas, these ones are soaked.”
Taehyung is like a rag doll as Seokjin works off his wet, heavy clothes and leaves them on the tiles. He gathers him up in the towel and rubs him all over, trying to get some pinkness back into his skin. The scent of his heat is faint – but it’s still there. The slick is a bit stronger, but that won’t completely go until the surgery.
Jimin is at the door, eyes wide and anguished.
“I didn’t realise,” he says in a strangled voice.
His scent curls into the room like electricity, frantic and upset. Taehyung stiffens up in response, nerves raw. Seokjin pivots so his body is between Taehyung and the doorway.
“It’s okay, Jimin. Do you mind making sure the omelette hasn’t overcooked?”
Jimin’s mouth opens. His eyes are wild. Then he snaps it closed and nods. He disappears. Seokjin can hear him pulling Jungkook downstairs with him.
As soon as he’s gone, Taehyung relaxes again. Seokjin scuffs the towel over his head and chuckles at his fluffed-up hair. Taehyung blinks slowly at him. Seokjin leans down and nuzzles into Taehyung’s neck, scent marking him. Taehyung relaxes a little bit more.
When Taehyung gets like this, he’s still functional. He’ll still eat, drink and get dressed if he’s prompted. But it’s like what makes him him has disappeared for a little bit. Like he’s working on auto-pilot. He’s quiet and distant.
As Taehyung gets changed, Seokjin makes a call to the school and pulls all the kids out of class for the day. He also checks in with Taehyung’s doctor.
Taehyung follows docilely behind as they take the steps downstairs. Jungkook and Jimin are already sitting at the table. Jimin looks up with forced cheer, while Jungkook just looks confused.
Taehyung takes a seat at the table and Jimin is immediately all over him, leaning into him and plaiting his hair.
“I thought we could have an us day today!” Seokjin says, dividing up the omelette and handing it out. He cracks some eggs for the next one – now that Jungkook is eating properly, he consumes a lot. “Maybe you can show me that game you’ve all been playing? Underworld?”
“It’s Overwatch,” Jungkook says crossly. He hasn’t touched his meal. He’s staring at Taehyung. Taehyung is eating his food mechanically. “What’s wrong with him?”
“Taehyung is having a quiet day,” Seokjin explains. “As we’re all allowed to have, sometimes. So let’s respect that.”
Jimin cuts in with a frantic note in his voice. “I can’t wait to show you the game!” he yelps. “I’m pretty good, but Jungkookie is really great. Which is annoying, because he only started playing a few weeks ago, but whatever. You’re gonna be really bad at it, Jinnie, I can’t wait.”
Seokjin adds in some cheese and vegetables to the omelette as it sizzles away.
“I’m good at games,” he says, affronted. “I beat you at Super Smash Brothers last week. I beat all of you!”
Jimin snorts. “You’re good at one game. And it was luck that you beat us, anyway. You always pick the dumb weak characters.”
Seokjin sniffs. “Kirby is not a weak character.”
“You only like him because he’s pink.”
Seokjin looks down at himself – indeed, he’s wearing a lot of pink. His sweatpants are navy, but his hoodie is soft and baby pink. He was a striped pink and white apron over the top. He’s not going to apologise for it. He looks good in pink.
“There’s nothing wrong with pi—”
The doorbell goes off.
Jimin and Jungkook swivel around. Taehyung blinks slowly.
Seokjin can scent the alpha from here. He sighs in frustration, plating up his omelette and dumping it on the table.
He throws open the door with an unimpressed look.
“Now’s not a good time,” he cuts in, frowning. He can’t remember what this guy’s name is. Maybe Tim? Maybe something that rhymes with Tim? Jim? Fin? Whatever. Seokjin goes to close the door but the alpha’s hand shoots up.
Seokjin’s breath catches.
“That’s fine, I’ll be quick.” The alpha smiles. “I was wondering if you were free for lunch today? I also have some jam I handmade for you. It’s peach.” He holds up a jar with his free hand. A courting gift.
And Seokjin— normally he’d flirt a little. Act ditzy. Play with the dumb alpha who is so obviously taken in by a pretty face and a strong scent. But one of his pups is inside hurting and he can’t deal with this today.
He narrows his eyes, very deliberately looking at the hand propping his door open. The pheromones he’s sending out are cold, cold, cold.
The alpha twitches and drops his hand. “So, uh… yeah. I’ll pick you up at 1pm.”
“Not interested,” Seokjin snaps. “Get off my porch.”
Then he slams the door shut.
He takes a moment to let out a long breath. Shake off the ugly pheromones he’s putting out. Then he pastes a smile on and walks back into the kitchen.
“Why won’t you say anything?!”
Seokjin freezes. Jungkook has stood up, chair flying back to thunk into the wall. His fists are clenched, face red. He’s glaring down at Taehyung.
Taehyung is curled in on himself, trembling. Jimin is between the two, half-crouched, eyes red and face snarling. Seokjin takes this all in in an instant.
He turns to Jungkook. For the first time, Jungkook’s eyes are a bright omega blue. He’s wild-eyed, panting.
“Jungkook, you need to go up to your room, okay?”
“Now.” Seokjin’s voice rolls through the house like thunder.
Jungkook’s eyes dart around the room. He doesn’t say anything, just spins and runs up the stairs.
Seokjin immediately drops to his knees beside Taehyung. Taehyung crawls into his lap, clinging. His breath is wet and fast against his neck.
“It’s okay, sweetheart,” he murmurs, brushing back Taehyung’s hair. It’s still a little wet. “He’s just confused. You’re safe here, yeah?”
He looks up. Jimin’s eyes are still red but his face has crumpled. Tears shine in his eyes. Seokjin holds out a hand and gestures him closer. Jimin falls into them with a whine, wrapping his arms around them both like a koala.
Seokjin pushes out as much warmth as he can. His other hand rubs Jimin’s back. He whispers comforting nonsense into Taehyung’s neck until his trembling has eased.
Eventually, Jimin says in a tiny voice, “Why did Kookie do that?” He sniffles. “I thought he liked us.”
“He didn’t mean it,” Seokjin says. “He’s just scared and so young. A family like ours is very scary to him and when he doesn’t understand things, he’s going to lash out. I can tell he loves you both very much.”
Jimin whines a little. “He felt so angry.”
Seokjin nods. “I felt it too. Jimin, do you mind going and getting him? He shouldn’t be alone now he’s calmed down.”
Jimin squirms and says, “Do I have to?”
Seokjin raises his head to meet his eyes.
“He is your pack brother. He needs us all now just as much as we need each other.”
Jimin’s eyes steel and he nods solemnly. The red has drained out by now. He leaves. Seokjin’s side goes cold.
Seokjin shifts Taehyung a little on his lap.
“When Jungkookie gets here, everything will be better,” he says, voice soothing. “We’ll spend the day together and—”
“He’s gone.” Jimin races into the kitchen. “I can’t find him! His window is open and his scent has gone out and he’s gone.”
Seokjin stops breathing. Then he’s handing Taehyung off to Jimin. “Stay here,” he says to them. He takes the stairs two at a time. Jimin was right – Jungkook’s window is open and he can’t feel him anywhere. His backpack is gone.
He jogs downstairs and straight out the door. There’s a jar of jam on the porch that he kicks in his haste to circle around to Jungkook’s window. Jungkook’s aura is just faintly there, but Seokjin’s sense aren’t good enough to follow him. Especially when it mingles with all the scents of the sidewalk. Fucking fuck. Jimin’s too young to really be of any use, either.
He sees Jimin and Taehyung hovering at the door, eyes wide and twisted around each other.
Jungkook is gone.
Seokjin spins around, pulling out his phone and bringing up a contact with trembling hands.
He doesn’t want to ask for help. That’s not who he is. Especially from an alpha. But Jungkook’s gone and finding him is more important than any of that. Jungkook is pack. Right now, he’s out there alone and scared and hurting. If someone else gets to him first, he could be sent to juvie. Seokjin will never let that happen.
He hits the call button.
“Hello?” Namjoon’s voice is deep, assured. Against his will, Seokjin relaxes the tiniest bit.
“Please. I need your help.”
It doesn’t take Namjoon long to get there. Only a few minutes later and his car is coming to a stop in the driveway. Seokjin is hugging himself, still in the same spot, with Jimin and Taehyung hovering behind.
Namjoon’s eyes meet Seokjin’s as soon as he gets out of the car. His scent is calm, assured. He walks towards them with brisk steps.
“We’ll find him,” he says without any other greeting. “Okay?” He holds out his hand and Seokjin automatically meets him, linking their fingers together. Namjoon holds out his other hand and the kids come stumbling forward. His presence feels like the sun, like comfort and warmth rolled up into one. Seokjin hadn’t even realised he’d lost control of his pheromones and had just been broadcasting distress.
Namjoon looks at each of them in the eye.
“We’ll find him,” he says again. Seokjin’s breath shudders out of him and he bites his lip, nodding.
“Of course we will,” he says, the bravado false and bitter on his tongue. Jimin nods his head frantically next to him.
Namjoon squeezes his hand then drops them both.
“Which window did he climb out of?”
It doesn’t take long for Namjoon to find his scent. His eyes glow red. Seokjin hovers close behind. He can barely scent Jungkook now with his and the kids’ distress tainting the air. He shifts a little closer to Namjoon and breathes in. He won’t ever admit it aloud, but the alpha’s presence calms him down. Just a small amount.
Namjoon glances over at him, eyes red and dark. “This way,” he says.
Seokjin nods and calls over his shoulder, “Stay put. For real this time.”
They don’t talk as they jog down the street. Namjoon is sharp and focused. Worry is eating Seokjin up inside. What if something happens to Jungkook? What if some other pack grabs him?
After a few blocks, the surrounds are getting more densely populated. More apartment blocks and convenience stores, less gardens. Seokjin realises where they’re headed.
“The bus station,” he breathes, breaking out into a run and overtaking Namjoon. A lot of longhaul buses leave from there. They’re terrible at checking ID. Jungkook could have gotten on any of them.
He bursts into the station, looking around frantically. He feels it before he sees it – sour, omega distress. He beelines towards it before his eyes even register what he’s seeing. There’s a form bundled up in a black hoodie, pulled low across his face, arms clenched tight around his waist. He’s in the back corner, no one sitting near him. Both humans and wolves alike shoot him vaguely concerned glances.
Seokjin makes a noise. Jungkook looks up. His eyes are shining, red. Face lost. He shrinks back when he sees Seokjin.
“Kook!” Seokjin exclaims, sweeping him into a hug. He buries his nose into his scent gland and breathes in. He smells like clean, pine forest air. The sourness isn’t as thick anymore.
Jungkook’s body jerks as a sob escapes.
“‘M sorry,” he mumbles. “I ruined everything. You hate me. Taehyung hates me. Minnie hates me.”
“Shh,” Seokjin says, drawing back a little. He stays on his knees in front of Jungkook. His fingers card through Jungkook’s hair to the back of his head, holding him gently so he can’t escape Seokjin’s gaze. “You didn’t ruin anything, Jungkook,” he says firmly. “No one hates you.”
“I scared Tae. I yelled at him. I don’t know why I yelled at him why did I—”
“Take a breath, Kook, a big one with me. Okay?”
Seokjin breathes in and Jungkook tries to match him. His breath hitches in, then shudders out. Seokjin does it again and Jungkook follows. It takes a few of theses before the wildness seeps out of Jungkook’s eyes. Now he just looks lost.
“You’re allowed to be scared,” Seokjin says softly, fingers gently running through Jungkook’s hair. “You’re even allowed to lash out. I do it sometimes. Mostly at dumb alphas.” Jungkook huffs out a breath that can’t really be counted as a laugh. Seokjin takes it as one anyway. “But you always have to be around afterwards to apologise. You can’t run away.”
Jungkook’s head ducks down. Seokjin doesn’t stop him. His hands fall to rest on his shoulders instead.
“Am I going to be sent to juvie?” he asks in a small voice.
Seokjin inhales sharply.
“No,” he says, voice hard. “Absolutely not. No pup of mine is getting sent to juvie.”
“Is…” Jungkook takes in a careful breath. He peeks up. “I-Is that what I am? One of yours?”
Seokjin makes a face and shoves his shoulder. “Yah, are you serious? After all the pancakes and waffles I’ve made you, you have to ask that?”
Jungkook is still looking at him with wide, vulnerable eyes. So it was perhaps too early for a joke.
Seokjin softens again, saying, “Of course you’re one of mine, Kook. As soon as you stepped into that house, you became part of the family. And we won’t give you up lightly.”
Suddenly Seokjin’s arms are full and he’s almost falling to the floor – Jungkook has thrown himself at him. He clutches tight to Seokjin, nuzzling into his neck. Seokjin lets him scent, his own eyes falling closed. Something within him smoothes over a little. He thinks maybe he’s finally gotten through to Jungkook. All the kid needs is a home he can trust. As long as he has that, he’ll be able to grow properly into the wolf he’s meant to be.
Seokjin really, really hopes Jungkook is realising that now.
Eventually, Jungkook draws back and sniffles a little. His face is blotchy and swollen.
“I guess I’ll stay with you,” he says, chest puffing out a little as if there aren’t still tears in his eyes. “At least until my mum comes back.”
Seokjin smiles and smoothes down Jungkook’s hair.
“However long you’d like,” he says. He hasn’t heard anything from Yoongi or the police about Jungkook’s mother or her boyfriend. He doesn’t think they ever will. If they do, she’d be going straight into prison.
Now isn’t the time to have that conversation with Jungkook.
Jungkook’s eyes shift past Seokjin and widen a little.
“Namjoon? Why are you here?”
Seokjin glances over his shoulder – Namjoon is standing closeby, watching them patiently. His body blocks them from most of the peering eyes.
“He helped track you down,” Seokjin says softly.
Jungkook’s head cranes around, looking for something. He mustn’t find it, because his head ducks down quickly. His scent turns disappointed.
Seokjin makes an educated guess.
“I told Jimin and Taehyung to stay at the house. Do you feel up to heading back?”
The distress peaks in Jungkook’s scent. Seokjin automatically reaches out to soothe him.
“I can… I can try?”
The walk back to the house takes a lot longer than the way there. Jungkook is quiet, dragging his feet and nibbling on his lip. He doesn’t look up from the pavement. Seokjin keeps pace with him, Namjoon following silently behind.
Jungkook comes to a dead stop just before the house comes into view.
“I can’t do it,” he blurts out. “They hate me.”
Seokjin hums, turning to face him. He places his hands on Jungkook’s shoulders. The touch calms both of them down a little.
“They don’t hate you.”
“Let me tell you something, okay? About Taehyung.”
Jungkook’s mouth pinches together and he nods.
“I don’t know if the kids have told you this. The details are theirs to share, but I think it would help to understand the reason why Tae sometimes is like that. You’ve guess that when he first presented, it was as an omega. But that’s not how he identifies.”
Jungkook’s eyes are intense, focused. His brow flickers down, like he’s thinking hard.
“You said he’s a… a beta,” he says.
“Right,” Seokjin says. “Because he is. But transitioning takes time and there are a few omega characteristics that haven’t fully gone away yet. Like his heat.”
“His heat started today?”
Seokjin nods. “Yes. It’s not a good time for him. He knows, and we know, that he’s a beta. But his body is still catching up. And when he has a heat, it reminds him of a time when he didn’t have a support system like us around him.”
Jungkook’s hands twist in the pocket of his hoodie.
“Jimin said they used to live on the street.”
“They did, for a while. Taehyung ran away from a bad situation. On days like today, he’s reminded of that place. Especially at night. That’s when he needs his pack around him most.”
Jungkook sniffs. His eyes are watery.
“Oh,” Jungkook says softly. “That’s why he likes to cuddle so much at night.”
Seokjin snorts. “He’s like a tick. He won’t let you go once he latches on.”
Jungkook frowns at him. “I don’t care, he cuddle me all the time.”
Seokjin smiles and squeezes his shoulders. “That’s how I know you’re one of my pups. So. Are you ready to apologise?”
Jungkook’s jaw clenches. His eyes drop to the ground.
“But I— I yelled at him. C-Called him a freak.”
Ah. Well. That explains why Jimin had been so furious.
“They were words said out of fear,” Seokjin says, “but you need to take responsibility for it. Taehyung deserves to hear your apology himself. He needs to know you didn’t mean it. Unless you did?”
Jungkook’s head flies up, flinching back.
“No,” he blurts. “No! I don’t think that. I would never think that.”
“Then tell that to Taehyung.”
Jungkook’s face steels. He gives a jerky nod, then strides past Seokjin like he’s marching to his death. Seokjin shares an amused look with Namjoon.
When the house comes into view, Seokjin sees Jimin and Taehyung curled up together on the front steps. Jimin bounces up immediately, flying forwards.
“Jungkookie!” he yells. He throws himself at Jungkook so hard he goes stumbling back a few steps. “How dare you run off!”
Taehyung follows at a slower pace. Jungkook mumbles an apology in Jimin’s hair. Jimin makes a face and draws back a little, shifting so he’s clutching on to Jungkook’s arm with his chin hooked onto his shoulder. His face is tilted slightly towards Jungkook’s scent gland.
Jungkook’s fists tighten as he looks at Taehyung warily.
“I-I’m sorry for—”
Taehyung keeps moving forwards so he collides into Jungkook, arms wiggling around to clutch him in a hug.
“Oh,” Jungkook breathes, looking down at Taehyung with wide eyes. His cheeks are red.
Taehyung tilts his head up. Seokjin sees his lips move, but can’t hear what he says. Whatever it is, it makes Jungkook jerk his head down into Taehyung’s neck and hold him tight. Jimin coos and snakes his arms around both of them.
Seokjin feels Namjoon’s presence move up next to him.
“I should go,” he murmurs.
Seokjin looks at Namjoon and his insides clench up. He’s not used to relying on an alpha. He doesn’t like it, but… Namjoon had been kind. Hadn’t said anything. Hadn’t gotten in the way, either. Namjoon gazes back, eyes steady.
Seokjin finds himself opening his big mouth and offering, “You can stay, if you want. Have some coffee?”
Which, what the fuck, the only alphas he’d let into his house were doing repairs or odd jobs he couldn’t be bothered doing. Now he’s inviting one in?
Namjoon smiles, eyes crinkling up at the sides.
“Thank you, but I have a lecture I need to get to. Perhaps another time.”
“What? Are you late?”
Namjoon waves his hand. “It’s fine, someone else in the department is covering until I get there.”
Seokjin’s mouth drops open. This fucking alpha. They weren’t even in his pack.
“Oh, uh…” Seokjin hates being flustered and yet here he is. “Thank you. For this morning. For coming over here even though you have class. Helping with Jungkook. You were… you were the only one I could think of.”
Namjoon’s smile warms.
“Of course. I’ll always help however I can. A scared pup is my top priority, whether in my pack or not. But, Seokjin.” Namjoon makes a move like he’s going to reach out to Seokjin, but stops at the last moment. His face turns a little more serious. Seokjin’s stomach clenches. “You’re doing a wonderful job with that kid. With all of them. Don’t doubt that, okay?”
And then he smiles, murmurs a soft goodbye and walks back to his car. Seokjin is left gaping after him as Namjoon puts his car in reverse, gives them a wave and drives off.
“Fucking alphas,” he mumbles aloud, stalking back to the house. His insides feel all warm and gooey and not at all like he’s used to feeling. He feels caught off guard. A little bit frantic. A little bit out of control.
“Swear jar!” Jimin chirps, jogging up behind him.
Seokjin huffs and almost trips over the jar of jam on the ground. He scowls down at it and kicks it even further away.
“Stupid jars,” he mumbles. “Who even decided the swear jar was a good idea, anyway? It’s all my money going into it.”
Jimin giggles. He skips past him into the house. Seokjin stays at the door, letting Jungkook and Taehyung in first. He scrutinises them as they pass. Jungkook is looking more settled now, less like he’s about to burst into tears at any moment. He holds Taehyung’s hand, but shyly hides it from Seokjin when he sees him watching. Taehyung gazes down at the floor, blinking slowly but with a tiny smile on his lips.
“Hey, so,” Jimin says, bouncing from foot to foot. “You and alpha Namjoon, huh?”
Jungkook perks up. “I’ll add it to the board!”
Seokjin growls. “That’s it, I’m adding that to the swear jar rules. No more talking about Namjoon and I.”
“Overruled!” Jimin says, jumping up the stairs. “C’mon, let’s add it!”
Seokjin sighs. Within moments, he’s left alone in the entry. He can hear them all thumping about upstairs. He glances over his shoulder. The road is empty outside. Namjoon is gone.
Seokjin’s brow furrows as he breathes out slowly.
Perhaps… perhaps he’s not so bad. For an alpha.
Seokjin keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop, but when Namjoon shows up for the next tutoring session, he’s the same as always. The only difference is as Namjoon and Jungkook settle down at the table, Namjoon grabs something from his bag and makes a sound of surprise.
“Seokjin! I almost forgot. Jungkook always talks about your extravagant breakfasts and I thought this could go well with it.” He produces a box from his bag with a soft ‘aha!’. Seokjin wonders over from the kitchen.
“Oh,” he says when he has it in his hands. It’s honeycomb, covered in dark chocolate. The wrapping makes it look fancy and homemade. Like something you’d get from a farmer’s market.
“I hope you don’t mind,” Namjoon says and Seokjin’s eyes fly up to his. His scent has spiked a little. Nervous. And is that a faint pink dusting across his cheeks? “I really can’t stop myself sometimes when I’m at the markets. And you popped into my head, so… yeah.”
“Oh,” he says again, looking back down at the honeycomb. He feels warm inside. Namjoon’s scent spikes again and Seokjin rushes to say, “Thank you, it looks really good. I have a few things in mind with it already.”
“Can we eat some now?” Jungkook cuts in, wiggling forwards in his chair. Seokjin blinks and it feels like a spell has been broken – Jungkook’s here too. Right. He knew that. Yep.
“Absolutely not,” Seokjin says. “Now is study time. I’m not paying Namjoon to sit here and eat delicious homemade honeycomb treats.”
“You’re not paying me at all, actually,” Namjoon says, smile crinkling his eyes. Seokjin spins away before he can get a good look of those dimples.
“What, allowing you into my home isn’t payment enough?” Seokjin sniffs. “Ungrateful.”
He heads out to his workshop and realises he still has the honeycomb clutched in his hands. He eyes it for a moment, before sighing. He sets it aside and gets back to working on his latest batch of soy wax candles.
Taehyung knocks on the door later on, poking his head in.
“There’s a delivery,” he says, grinning. “Joon’s confused.”
Seokjin strips off his gloves. “What do you mean confused? He’s been here before when it’s happened, surely.”
“Nup!” Taehyung says, running ahead. “Never!”
Stepping back into the main house, Namjoon’s confusion washes over him, followed by the scent of a less familiar alpha. Namjoon is at the table with Jungkook, but he keeps glancing towards the door. The alpha is bouncing on his heels just outside, looking a little uncomfortable. Probably because Jimin is in the doorway staring at him with his arms crossed, looking adorable even though he’s trying to be intimidating.
Definitely not a great combination.
“Seokjin!” the alpha calls, face morphing into a smile when he catches sight of him.
“Hello, uh…” Seokjin wracks his brain. He can’t remember his name. “You,” he settles with. Taehyung snickers behind him. The alpha’s brows flicker down in confusion. Jimin’s eyes narrow. He can feel Namjoon just blatantly staring at him now. He needs to control this situation ASAP. “Lovely to see you!” He pastes a smile on his face, tilting his head to lengthen his neck. The alpha’s eyes zoom right in on his scent gland. “To what do I owe the pleasure?” He pushes past Jimin and steps out the door, poking the alpha in the chest to make him back up a few steps.
He slams the door shut behind him.
“Seokjin— Jin.” The alpha’s eyes crawl all over him. “I was wondering if—”
“Seokjin’s just fine.” Seokjin walks past him, down the steps. The alpha follows along.
“Oh, yes, Seokjin. Am I pronouncing that correctly?” The alpha’s voice is a purr and it makes Seokjin want to bleach his brain. He doesn’t even wait for Seokjin to reply. “I was wondering if you’d like to accompany me to my work’s end of financial year party? It’s at the Hayden Centre. Very expensive. And I was just promoted to Chief Compliance Officer.” His chest puffs out. “Which came with a generous salary boost.”
Alpha posturing is so much fun.
“Ooh,” Seokjin coos. “How much?”
The alpha blinks. “H-Huh?”
“How much of a boost? What are you making now?”
“I, well, it’s a bit uncomfortable to talk about—”
“Where do you work again?”
“Oh, at Helpsly? I told you about—”
“Hmm, never heard of it.”
“We’re a startup who—”
“How many courses is the dinner?”
“Uh, I don’t think it’s sitdown, so just canap—”
“I think I’m busy that day.”
“I don’t think I told you the day—”
“Fully booked.” Seokjin smiles and shrugs shyly. “The kids, you know.”
The alpha’s eyes soften at the mention of pups. Ugh.
“Yes, you’re a wonderful parent.”
Seokjin’s suddenly reminded of Namjoon’s words. You’re doing a wonderful job with that kid. That had left him feeling warm inside. But this? This is just greasy and gross and wrong. This alpha’s never even seen him interact with his kids. Seokjin could be a terrible foster parent, for all he knows, but he just assumes every omega is built to be a compassionate caretaker.
His kids are evidence that isn’t the case.
Playing with the alpha is suddenly a little less fun.
“Oh, is this for me? Thanks!” He reaches over and grabs the bottle of champagne from the alpha.
“Yes, I thought it could be nice to have before the—”
“Oh, what a dear,” Seokjin coos, reaching out to pat him on the cheek. The alpha blinks in surprise, but doesn’t flinch away. His cheeks turn red. “Too bad I’m busy, huh? Thanks, bye!”
He spins and walks back to the house. He sees four faces pressed up against the window next to the door. They catch him looking and disappear.
The alpha calls out behind him, “Wait, uh—”
“Thanks!” Seokjin says again, then slams the door behind him.
He puts his hands on his hips and surveys the scene. Namjoon and Jungkook are perched awkwardly on their chairs. Jungkook’s book is upside down. Taehyung is wiping down a photo frame with his bare hand. And Jimin—
Seokjin’s nostrils flare. He follows Jimin’s scent a few steps to the left, then bends over. Jimin is crouched beneath the side table, knees almost touching his ears. Seokjin levels him with an unimpressed look.
“Comfortable?” he asks dryly.
Jimin smiles his most angelic smile.
“Yep!” he chirps. “Just peachy.”
“What’re you doing down there, bud?”
“Uh, just, searching for something I dropped. An earring. That I dropped.”
Seokjin looks at him. Jimin looks back, blinking innocently.
“Don’t let me interrupt you.” Seokjin stands back up. “Jungkook, your book is upside down. Taehyung, you’re leaving smudge marks on that glass. Namjoon, I don’t think I’ve ever seen your eyes wider. Can you all please put a little more effort into pretending you weren’t eavesdropping?”
“Fine, we were eavesdropping,” Jimin says, popping up from under the side table. His knees crack and it makes Seokjin wince. “What’d you get? Gimme!”
“Not for babies,” Seokjin says, holding the bottle of champagne away from Jimin’s grabby fingers. He has to move a few things in the fridge to find a place for it. “Why do we have three bottles of opened banana milk in here? You little monsters.”
“I’m not a baby!” Jimin protests.
“We can legally drink in many countries,” Taehyung says, hopping up onto the kitchen counter. His heels bang against the cupboards. “Many studies have been done saying it’s best to introduce teenagers to alcohol in a safe environment so we’re not encouraged to binge drink.”
“Yeah, exactly, do you want us to binge drink?”
Seokjin opens one of the banana milk bottles, sniffing at it. “This one is off! Why would you put it back in the fridge?” He throws it into the bin and moves onto the next.
“If the others are having alcohol, can I have some too?” Jungkook asks, wandering in. He grabs the banana milk out of the bin and sniffs it. “It smells fine.”
Seokjin freezes mid-smell of the next bottle and levels a finger at Jungkook. “That’s worrying. We need to check on your sense of smell. Aren’t you meant to be studying?”
“Which ones are the champagne glasses, the big ones or the really narrow ones?” Jimin is on his tippy-toes, peering into the cupboard next to Taehyung’s head. Taehyung strains around the cupboard door to see it.
“I think it’s that really wide one—”
“No one is drinking!” Seokjin yells. “No one is having alcohol in this household! You’re all babies! No underage drinking!”
Taehyung frowns at him. “Didn’t you let us have a sip of your wine at Jimin’s birthday a few months ago?”
Seokjin darts a nervous look at Namjoon, who is hovering in the doorway. Namjoon’s lips are pressed tightly against laughter, dimples appearing.
“No underage drinking has ever gone on in this household. What are we doing? You’re all meant to be studying! Jimin, Taehyung, get upstairs, I know you both have homework. Jungkook, don’t make me remind you again.” He claps his hands and a chorus of groans goes up, but they all disperse.
Seokjin breathes a sigh of relief when he’s alone in the kitchen. Almost.
“So, that alpha,” Namjoon says, and Seokjin jumps a little. He turns to face him. Namjoon is leaning against the doorway now, arms crossed. “I didn’t realise you had a suitor.”
Seokjin’s eyes widen. Jungkook, out of sight at the dining table, snorts and says, “One? Try a thousand. There’s a different one here every day.”
“It’s not every day,” Seokjin rushes to say, glaring at the spot on the wall where the dining table is. “And it’s not a thousand.”
“Fine, a hundred,” Jungkook mumbles.
Seokjin doesn’t deign to answer.
“They’re not suitors,” he says to Namjoon. He doesn’t know what to do with his arms so he ends up mirroring Namjoon, crossing them. “I don’t have any suitors. Or any that I want. They’re just… alphas.”
“Alphas?” One of Namjoon’s eyebrows rises.
“Yeah, you know… going crazy for the closest unmated omega. Showering me in gifts to prove they can care for me, as if we’re all still cavemen. It’s a competition to them, I think.”
“Oh.” Namjoon’s face gentles. “Are they bothering you? I’m not sure if any are from my pack, but I can talk to the other pack alphas and get them to stop.”
Seokjin’s mouth pops open in surprise.
“Oh,” he echoes. “Oh.” He hadn’t expected that. “Ah, no, it’s okay. I like it. The gifts, at least. It means I don’t have to cook dinner that often. I can handle everything else. It’s fun.”
Seokjin shrugs. Namjoon’s gaze on him feels intense, but Seokjin can’t tell if it actually is intense or if it’s just in his head. Either way, it makes his breath come a little harder.
“The attention is nice.” He smiles slowly. “And it’s fun to see what some of them will put up with because they believe the stupid omega stereotypes.”
“Ah.” Namjoon breaks their eye contact, glancing down. Red spreads across his cheeks. Seokjin watches it with fascination. “Like I did the first time we met?”
Seokjin’s first reaction is to deny it. To comfort him. But that’s just because he knows Namjoon well now and knows that he was well-meaning. Knows that he’s, incredibly, one of the very few good alphas.
So he says, “Yes. Like that.” And waits for Namjoon’s reaction.
Namjoon smiles ruefully, pushing upright. “I definitely deserved it. But… let me know if it gets too much. Or reach out to Hoseok, if you’re not comfortable with the alpha pheromones.”
Seokjin stares at him. Slowly, he nods. Namjoon shoots him a smile and turns back to the dining table.
“How is that reading going? You better be at least two pages further in,” he says to Jungkook. Jungkook mumbles something back, but Seokjin isn’t paying attention. His eyes are still glued to the spot Namjoon left. Tingles spread across his body. His face feels a little hot.
“Ugh,” he mumbles, shaking himself out of it. He stomps back to his workroom. “Stupid alphas.”
Jin Time is the absolute best time of the week – a whole hour to do whatever he wants with no interruptions or obligations. Seokjin’s had many great ideas in his 29 years of life, but this is up there with the best of them. It’d taken a little while to bully the kids into respecting it, but it was worth it. Perhaps he could have set Jin Time for when they’re at school, but he likes using that time to work on his online store. And he likes Jin Time when he can feel the kids close by. He can never fully relax when they’re at school. Especially not with Jungkook in the mix.
For today’s Jin Time, he’d shifted and found a warm spot to soak up the sunlight. There’s nothing better than sun-warmed fur. This way, he avoids the sun darkening his skin. And also skin cancer.
It’s nice to spend time in his wolf form, too. His changed senses gives him a different view of his backyard. He’s a lot shorter, for one, and the smells are more intense. The colours are different too, flatter but with more shades.
His eyes are closed, ears twitching at sounds, when he hears Jungkook bang out of the backdoor and stop short. Seokjin stays still, only his tail moving to swat away flies. Jungkook stays like that for a few minutes. Seokjin can feel his eyes on him.
He sighs internally. He’s still meant to have twenty more minutes of Jin Time. But he can tell Jungkook is working himself up to something.
Jungkook stomps down the steps and stops in front of Seokjin. He clears his throat. Seokjin peels one eye open. Jungkook has his hands on his hips, scowl on his face.
“Seokjin. I have something to say,” he announces. Seokjin doesn’t move. “I’m thinking about… no, I know I… I think. Ugh. Are you even listening to me?”
Seokjin’s eye slides shut.
There’s a scraping noise as one of the back windows is thrown open.
“Jungkookie, it’s Jin Time!” comes Taehyung’s voice. “We’re not allowed to disturb him, remember?”
Jimin’s voice sings in the background: “But most of aaaaaall, most of all!”
“But it’s important!” Jungkook yells back. Seokjin’s ears twitch, flatten a little.
“Most of all!” Jimin yells.
“It doesn’t matter, it’s the golden rule!”
“Don’t fuck with Jin’s Time!” Jimin finishes off, wailing the last note.
“I need to ask something!” Jungkook stamps his foot. “Something important! Go away!”
Jimin’s giggles float out into the backyard.
“Don’t say we didn’t warn you,” Taehyung says, then the window slams closed.
The backyard is peaceful again. All except for Jungkook’s presence. His scent is anxious, twitchy. Seokjin can feel him vibrating out of his skin.
All of a sudden, Jungkook plops down onto the grass with an annoyed huff. Seokjin opens one eye to observe him again. He’s pouting down at the ground, tearing up the grass with one hand.
“I just—” Jungkook cuts off in another huff. “I just. I don’t want you to say anything. That’s why I’m asking now, okay? Because you can’t respond.” He tears off another big chunk of grass and throws it away. “I just— I was thinking… I want you to teach me. How to shift.”
Both of Seokjin’s eyes open. His ears swivel forward. Jungkook is glaring at the grass, angrily gnawing on his lip.
“I don’t want to actually shift, okay,” he rushes to say. “I just want to learn.”
Seokjin sits up. Jungkook doesn’t look up. Seokjin leans forwards and licks a big stripe up the side of his face. Jungkook yelps, falling over backwards.
“Ew, ew, ew!” he cries, squirming on the ground, scrubbing at his cheek. “Ew! Why!”
Seokjin huffs out a laugh, tongue lolling out the side. He calls to his human form and feels the shift wash over him.
“I can teach you how to shift,” Seokjin says, leaning over Jungkook’s still-prone body and peering down at him. “And you don’t have to do it yet, that’s fine. Or at all.”
Jungkook makes a face, scrambling away and pushing himself upright.
“Whatever, but do you have to be naked?” His face scrunches up even further.
Seokjin laughs and stands up. “C’mon. Let’s go somewhere more out of the way of the house. The other kids are too nosy.” He holds down a hand to Jungkook.
Jungkook eyes it suspiciously.
“Fine,” he says, grabbing onto it. Seokjin smiles and hauls him upright.
After the disaster of the first dance class, Seokjin hasn’t taken another one. He’d only done it to get Jungkook into it, anyway, and Jungkook had told him very clearly to never take one again. He was pretty relieved by that. Seokjin could do many things very, very well, but he was not willing to make dance one of them.
Regardless, he still ends up hanging around the studio when he needs to drive Jungkook home after class. Today, though, he’s early.
“Hello, Seokjin!” the receptionist says brightly, his hair in two pigtails and bouncing around even more when he jumps up to greet him. “You’re early!”
“I am,” he agrees. “Don’t mind me. I brought some work with me to do.”
The receptionist leans across the desk, blinking brightly. “You’re welcome to have a look around if you’d like. Your Jungkook is in studio two, but there’s ballet in studio one and wolf self-defence in studio three.”
Seokjin is convinced everyone who works here is on some kind of upper that keeps them bouncing off the walls. Between this guy and Hoseok’s sunshine personality, coming to the studio is exhausting. He wants to huddle in a corner and answer customer messages, but one of the classes catches his attention.
“I’m sorry, did you say wolf self-defence?” Seokjin frowns a little. That sounds a little problematic. Like a class full of humans petrified of wolves, who are convinced they’ll be attacked on the street. Not very progressive at all. The last thing he’d expect from a place owned by a wolf.
“Yes! It’s quite popular amongst wolves, especially since the pack alpha himself teaches it. It helps us control our strength and instincts, you know?”
“Maybe work can wait. Studio three, right?”
“Yep! Down the hall to the left!”
He glances in at Jungkook’s class on the way past. He’s in the back corner, sweat pouring off him and eyebrows furrowed as he runs through a fast combo. Seokjin feels dizzy just looking at it.
There’s a lot of competing scents here, but Namjoon’s cuts through them all. Seokjin peeks through the window.
It’s definitely Namjoon in there. He’s grappling with someone – the wolf is pinning both of his wrists to his sides. In one smooth movement, Namjoon’s ankle hooks around the wolf’s leg and they just— blur. The wolf hits the ground, Namjoon spinning around to face him and sinking into a defensive position. The class circled around him cheers. Namjoon grins at them, then reaches over to help the wolf up.
Seokjin can’t hear what he’s saying. He can’t hear anything above the dull roaring in his ears. Namjoon is stripped down to just a pair of loose shorts. His skin is golden, glistening with sweat. And he’s strong. He has these lean muscles that wouldn’t be shown in any of his usual dorky professor clothes. Dorky is perhaps too harsh of a term – he dresses just fine – but Seokjin’s brain can’t handle anything at the moment. He just keeps replaying how smooth Namjoon had moved when he’d taken that other wolf down. How his muscles had rippled beneath his skin. The focused look on his face, brows pinched together.
And— fuck, Namjoon and the wolf are squaring off again. This time running through how Namjoon had gotten free more slowly. Namjoon’s eyes are attentive as he works through the steps, glancing at his students often to check for understanding. His voice is a low timbre that sinks into Seokjin’s bones.
Oh fuck. Oh shit. Warmth is pooling down low in Seokjin’s abdomen. He twitches, shifting his legs and it’s enough to know— he’s starting to slick up. He’s somehow, incredibly, turned on. By this.
Seokjin has seen so many displays of alpha strength he’s immune to it by now. Every alpha wants to show off to him, like they’re part of a David Attenborough documentary and he’s the mate they need to attract. It’s always been amusing at best, annoying at worst.
None have made him feel like this.
The worst part is, Namjoon isn’t even trying. He’s just teaching a class. A very physical class. With lots of sweat and bare muscles and quiet competence. And Seokjin, in this moment, wants him more than anything else in the world.
“Seokjin? What are you doing?”
It feels like cold water splashing over him. He jerks around. Jungkook is standing there gripping on to his school bag, frowning.
“Why do you smell weird?” Jungkook’s nose wrinkles, then he pauses. “Hey, is that Namjoon?”
“We need to go,” Seokjin says, jumping into a power walk. “Now. We need to go right now.”
“Wha— I wanna say hi!” Jungkook jogs after him.
“Nope, no,” Seokjin says, “Not happening.” Because he’d just gotten worked up in a dance studio with babies like Jungkook around and this was not okay.
It’s easier to breath when he bursts outside, far away from Namjoon’s scent.
“You’re so ridiculous,” Jungkook mutters.
“You’re welcome to walk home, darling,” Seokjin says, but he’s too distracted to inject the usual level of saccharine sarcasm into his tone.
He throws himself into the car and slams the door. Then takes a deep breath.
And comes to terms with the fact that he wants to fuck Namjoon. An alpha.
Jungkook slides into the car at a more measured pace.
“Can we go get McDonald’s? I’m hungry.”
Seokjin blinks. Breathes out and turns the car on.
“Over my dead body,” he replies. Takes another breath. “We have food at home.” And slowly, slowly, begins to feel a little bit better. He’s fine. It’s no big deal. So he wants to fuck an alpha so bad he slicked up in public? Psh. It’s fine.
He doesn’t hear anything else Jungkook says for the whole ride home.
Several days fly by and Seokjin does an amazing job of ignoring his revelation. Namjoon comes to the house once during that time to tutor Jungkook. Seokjin stays in his workshop. He comes out and finds Jungkook munching on a block of chocolate.
“This is yum,” Jungkook says around a mouthful. Seokjin gets a great view of his chocolate-covered teeth. “It says strawberry but it tastes kinda weird.”
“Where did you get that?” Seokjin comes over and grabs the packet. Jungkook had torn messily through the brown packaging, but it still looks fancy. It’s freeze-dried strawberry and milk chocolate. Seokjin pops some into his mouth – it is yum.
“Namjoon. He told me to give it to you.” Jungkook snatches it back and breaks off several more squares.
Seokjin slowly looks up at him.
“So you ate it?”
Jungkook shrugs, chewing happily. “Safe passage fee.”
Seokjin looks down at the chocolate for a moment before sighing. He grabs another chunk and heads back to his workshop.
So it’s a Saturday night – not a tutoring night – when the doorbell rings and it’s Namjoon standing on his porch.
Seokjin blinks at him.
Namjoon blinks back, then smiles tentatively. He extends the bottle of wine in his hands.
“Hey, I brought a red, hope that goes with what we’re having?”
Seokjin doesn’t take the bottle. His mind is still trying to catch up. Namjoon is a little more dressed up than he normally sees him – chinos cuffed to show the delicate curve of his ankles, linen shirt with enough buttons open to get a peek of his collarbones. It makes ignoring his attraction a lot harder.
“Uh… hmm.” Seokjin narrows his eyes, trying to think of the best way to word it. “Not to sound like a bitch, but why are you here?” He winces immediately after because really? Was that the best he could come up with?
He feels doubly as bad when Namjoon’s brow crumples.
“Oh, sorry, did I get the wrong day? God, that’s so embarrassing. Wow. Sorry! I swear I’m normally better at reading text messages. Here, take this anyway—”
“Wait, text message?” Seokjin cuts in. “What?”
Namjoon freezes, wine bottle held out in front of him.
“The… the one you sent me? Earlier today. Inviting me for dinner?”
Seokjin’s breath freezes in his chest. Then he spins around.
He hears a loud thump from upstairs, then laughter. Jimin peeks over the bannister, smiling sweetly.
“You called?” Jimin’s face looks funny and it takes Seokjin a moment to realise his eyebrows are gone.
“Wha— did you shave off your eyebrows?”
“What?” Jimin’s hand flies to his forehead. “Oh. No. Ha. No. They’re just glued down. We’re doing drag makeup!”
Seokjin holds a hand to his forehead.
“You were meant to be setting the table.”
“We did. And now we’re doing drag makeup.”
Seokjin can see the dining table from here. Everything looks thrown haphazardly. He sighs.
“Really? Before dinner?”
Taehyung’s head pops into view beside Jimin’s. There’s a gluestick in his hand and his eyebrows are missing too.
“Jinnie, do you think red or bronze would suit Jungkookie more?”
“I said I want black!” Jungkook yells from one of the rooms.
“Bronze,” Jimin says. “Everyone looks good with bronze. Jungkookie, black will make you look like an emo! Like you’ve been rejected from a shitty punk rock group!”
“Swear jar,” Seokjin says.
“No, bronze is too weak. Jungkookie needs red.” Taehyung waves the gluestick around as he talks. “Something bright! Vibrant! To really make his eyes go kapow!”
“I don’t want—”
“Excuse me!” Seokjin cuts in. “Can we please get back to the matter at hand?”
Taehyung’s mouth snaps shut. He frowns. Jimin leans forward over the bannister.
“As in, my eyebrows?” he asks.
“No. Would you like to explain how Namjoon received a text message from my number, inviting him to family dinner?”
Both Jimin and Taehyung have the same reaction – their eyes go wide, lips pressed together tightly, cheeks puffing out to try and keep in the giggles.
The sound is soft from behind him and Seokjin jolts. He’d forgotten Namjoon was still standing there. He spins around and sees Namjoon looking at the ground with a sad smile on his face.
“Sorry, I should’ve known.” Namjoon looks up and meets Seokjin’s eyes. His face loses the upset lines, becomes more kind. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll see you on Tuesday, yes?”
Namjoon turns away and Seokjin reacts on instinct. He jumps forward, grabbing onto his wrist to stop him.
“No, please—” Namjoon’s wide eyes meet his own and Seokjin breathes out. “It’s all good. You can stay.”
“But I wasn’t invited.”
“Yes, but…” Seokjin casts around for a good excuse that’s not just I want you to stay. Because that wouldn’t be right. “You brought wine. The only one I have has been open for a few days. So… you should stay.”
Namjoon’s eyes curve as the smile spreads across his face.
“And you have no other wine,” he says.
Seokjin thinks of his fully-stocked wine fridge.
“Nope,” he says, smile mirroring Namjoon’s. “None at all. So you’ll have to stay and share that one.”
“Okay,” he agrees softly.
Seokjin’s breath hitches. He realises he’s still holding Namjoon’s wrist, long enough that their scents have mixed a little. He drops his hold and steps back.
“Well, come in. I have to check on the pork to make sure it hasn’t burned.”
The kids are still hanging over the bannister when they come back in. They cheer when they see Namjoon, which makes Namjoon’s cheeks go red.
“Can we glue down Namjoonie’s eyebrows too?” Taehyung asks. The skin where his eyebrows should be wiggles.
“Come set the dinner table properly,” Seokjin demands, striding back to the kitchen. “And no more talk of drag makeup until after dinner. Namjoon, don’t let them bully you into doing it. It’s annoying to scrub off.”
“No, I… I think I will.”
Seokjin glances back and Namjoon is still standing in the entryway, smiling at the kids as they bounce down the stairs.
Seokjin determinedly looks away.
Later on, they’re sitting on the floor of Jimin’s bedroom with makeup spread across the carpet. Jungkook is scowling at his reflection in a handheld mirror, stabbing at his face with eyeliner. He looks like he’s going to audition for a Kiss tribute band, but still baby. Jimin and Taehyung are crouched on either side of Namjoon, each with different implements in hand. Jimin is dabbing gold glitter onto his eyelids while Taehyung is sculpting his cheekbone contour.
Seokjin had avoided all makeup and is simply painting his nails. He’s not having much luck, because his gaze keeps getting drawn back to Namjoon. Namjoon is completely at ease, like he’s going for a massage instead of having two pups crawling all over him, poking him with makeup brushes. He leans back on his hands, head tilted up so the kids have the best lighting. It leaves his neck long and exposed and fuck, since when did Seokjin have a thing for Adam’s apples?
And Seokjin thinks… fuck it.
He’s going to seduce Kim Namjoon.
Unfortunately, like with many things in life, this is easier said than done. Seokjin’s first attempt is that same night, where he walks Namjoon to his car. His face is scrubbed clear of makeup now, but it had taken a while. Just as Seokjin had predicted.
“Thank you for letting me stay,” Namjoon says, “even if the invite was fake.”
Seokjin smiles slowly – not his normal smile, but his knowing smile. The one that makes him look the best. The one that makes people go cross-eyed.
“It was lots of fun,” he purrs.
Namjoon nods and smiles and has no other reaction.
Okay. He can still work with this.
He takes a step closer, lifting a hand up to rub his thumb against Namjoon’s jawline.
“Oops, sorry,” he breathes into Namjoon’s space, “you missed a spot. Glitter.” His fingers trail down Namjoon’s jaw as he pulls back.
“Oh, really?” Namjoon cranes his head back and peers down at Seokjin’s thumb. “I didn’t think about that! I bet I’ll be finding glitter everywhere for months.” He smiles warmly and his dimples appear. “Thank you again. I’ll see you on Tuesday?”
And then he’s gone.
Seokjin is left staring after his car, disgruntled.
His second attempt ends up somewhat the same.
It’s a coincidence he’s getting out of the shower when Taehyung yells, “Namjoon’s here!” from the bottom of the stairs. He’s normally a morning showerer, but today’s experiment in the workshop had gotten a little messy. And smelly. So he’d ended up needing to scrub himself clean.
Seokjin stares at himself in the mirror, eyes narrowing. He leans close and pokes at his face. His skin is flawless. Glowy after the serum he’d just applied. His lips aren’t dry in the slightest. His hair is still thick and black. Despite finding a few hairs in the drain, he’s not going bald yet. Or hopefully ever. He looks good. He knows he looks good. Very fuckable.
He just has to make Namjoon see that. And then they can fuck and Seokjin can get the alpha out of his system. Maybe even get a heat partner out of it, if he feels like it. He hasn’t spent a heat with anyone in a while and it might be nice.
So he runs product through his hair, blow dries and styles it. Rubs a little on his scent glands to kickstart his scent spreading into the room again. Shrugs into one of his favourite silk robes, baby pink and soft. Gives himself a narrow-eyed look in the mirror – this should be irresistible to any alpha.
He pads downstairs, liking the feel of the silk against his thighs.
“Oh, Namjoon,” he sees, pausing next to the dining table as if surprised. As if he had no idea at all that Namjoon was here, exactly the same as every week. “Would you boys like some tea? I was about to put on a pot.”
Jungkook doesn’t look up from where he’s writing furiously, scowling at the paper. Namjoon looks up and blinks at Seokjin. His face goes blank. Seokjin tilts his head to the side, crossing one leg over the other in a way that makes his legs look even longer. Namjoon’s eyes dip down then fly straight back up to Seokjin’s eyes. His cheeks go red.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” Seokjin says with a slow smile. He spins and makes it one step into the kitchen before Jungkook finally speaks up.
“Namjoon brought tea. I want some of his tea. Yours is too fruity.”
“Oh!” He hears fumbling around and turns to see Namjoon going through his bag. “I can’t believe I almost forgot. Here it is – pu’er. I think you’ll like it—”
“I’ll make it!” Jungkook jumps up, snatching the packet and running past Seokjin into the kitchen. “You sit down.”
Seokjin sighs wearily. Again. He slumps into the chair next to Namjoon, no longer in seduction mode.
“Huh,” Namjoon says, “he must really want to avoid finishing that question.”
Seokjin leans his head back further.
“No, he’s been doing this all week,” he says softly. He eyes Jungkook bustling around the kitchen, peering at each mug to make sure they’re not chipped. “He keeps aggressively offering to help me with things.”
“Ah.” Namjoon chuckles and sits back. “Yeah. He’s in that stage.”
Seokjin glanced at Namjoon in surprise, but of course he’d know. He’d tried complaining to Yoongi about it, but he hadn’t been the best listener. He hadn’t really understood what was going on.
But Seokjin did. And, surprisingly, Namjoon did as well.
For the past week, Jungkook had been just as surly as before his runaway incident. But now he’d been aggressively trying to help Seokjin. It was a slightly twisted way of showing affection, but that was just Jungkook’s love language. He showed someone he appreciated them through action. Seokjin was somewhat the same. Jimin showed his love through touch, whereas Taehyung showed it through words. Jimin had definitely gone through the same phase as Jungkook where he’d tried to violently show his love by trying to do everything for Seokjin. Taehyung, thankfully, hadn’t been similar.
It had been hilarious when Jimin had gone through it. With Jungkook, it’s begun to wear a little thin. Especially when it gets in the way of his ‘seduce Namjoon’ plans.
“I thought, since he’s an omega, he’d be less annoying about it than Jimin was,” Seokjin says. “But no. He’s just as bad.”
Namjoon’s smile glows. “It’s adorable. It’s good to see him settling in so well.”
Seokjin sits up a little, tilting to face him.
“It’s a pain in the arse.”
Namjoon’s eyes crinkle up further so they’re only happy slits. “Don’t lie to me. You love it.”
Seokjin raises his eyebrows, huffing. “It’s better than the alternative, I guess.” He recrosses his knees. “I can relax more this way.”
Namjoon’s head cants to the side and the gleam in his eyes says he sees right through Seokjin’s bullshit.
“Jungkook is happy. Comfortable. You’ve done a good job with him.”
WIthout his permission, his cheeks warm.
“I don’t need your validation. I know I’ve done a good job.”
“True. But I’m giving it anyway.”
Seokjin huffs, but before he can answer, Jungkook slowly walks back into the room, balancing two tea cups.
“Here you go,” he says, slowly slowly placing it down onto the table. He runs back into the kitchen and grabs his own, bringing it a lot faster to the table. Tea spills all over his hand. It makes Seokjin wince. “Okay! Now I’m ready to continue.” He tentatively tastes his tea, makes a face when his tongue gets burnt, then focuses back on the messy scrawl in front of him. Namjoon and Seokjin share an amused glance as they sip on their pu’er tea.
It doesn’t take long for Jungkook to ask a question and for Namjoon to focus solely on the pup, explaining everything in a calm tone. Seokjin feels a little forgotten about in all his half-naked glory.
Seokjin pouts. He sips crankily at his tea.
Another failed try.
Attempt three comes in the form of doing yoga in the backyard when Namjoon shows up. He normally does yoga in the morning, but he makes a special exception to show Namjoon just how flexible he is. Namjoon takes one look at him as he stretches into a downward facing dog, then pushes into a standing half-split, and goes red. He disappears from the back door almost immediately. Which is very fucking frustrating, because Seokjin’s standing half-split is a work of art. His legs form one straight, long line behind him, toes pointed up to the sky. His nose brushes against his lower leg. There’s no better position to show off his pliant limbs.
But Namjoon barely notices.
Seokjin gets more and more desperate. He unearths a straw from deep storage and makes eye-contact with Namjoon while sipping a glass of juice, hollowing his cheeks. Namjoon turns red, but does nothing. He brushes against him whenever he can – leaning onto Namjoon’s shoulder as he peers at Jungkook’s work, fingertips brushing when he passes him water or some tea. He even ends up hand feeding Namjoon some of the fancy triple-cream brie on a cracker he’d brought over. But Namjoon’s lips barely brush against his fingers and he’s left pouting and alone again.
It’s getting to the point where Seokjin is convinced he’s no longer attractive to alphas. That he’s lost whatever je ne sais quoi he’d had before.
But it takes one time biting his lip while making an eye-contact with an alpha, then that alpha walking into a wall, to realise it’s just a Namjoon thing.
He’ll just have to try harder. And perhaps, somehow, without the kids around.
End of semester rolls around and suddenly Namjoon is swamped with work from the university.
“I’m so sorry,” Namjoon says on the phone, sounding stressed. “I wouldn’t ask this if it wasn’t the last option. If this isn’t ideal, we can find another day, perhaps?”
Jungkook spends most of his other days at dance class, so Seokjin isn’t eager to switch things around. Especially since Jungkook had finally decided to like him. Replacing Jungkook’s dance classes with tutoring would lose him a lot of brownie points.
“It’s fine,” Seokjin says. “My work hours are flexible. I can bring him to the university and you can tutor him there?”
Namjoon argues for a little, but not very strongly. Seokjin doesn’t mind driving Jungkook in and waiting around the university campus – anything to ensure Jungkook’s grades keep going up.
He just… hadn’t expected the effect Namjoon would have on him when they arrive. Namjoon had given him a campus map with his department building circled in yellow highlighter. He’d written down his office number, too, but as soon as he’d entered the building, he’d traced Namjoon’s scent and voice to one of the lecture theatres on ground level.
The door is propped open.
It’s packed. Every seat has a person in it. There are even a few sitting on the aisle steps.
Namjoon looks small at the front, pacing back and forth. The slides are projected onto three screens behind him. It’s just a load of gibberish to Seokjin, with moral agency written on the top. Namjoon says something and the crowd erupts into laughter.
Namjoon looks completely at ease in front of all of these eager students. In his element. He jokes back-and-forth with the students. Questions are called out to him and he answers each one calmly. The students closest to Seokjin stare at Namjoon with hero worship in their eyes.
It’s just so different to the Namjoon he knows. The one who is a little bit dorky, a little bit nervous. But then again, this calm strength is familiar.
Maybe Seokjin’s not used to so many others lusting after Namjoon’s attention. Or maybe it’s the different environment. Seokjin feels completely drawn in to Namjoon even though he doesn’t understand any of the nerd shit he’s going on about. It’s weirdly… hot?
“Woah,” Jungkook breathes next to him. “Namjoon is cool.”
And, yeah, maybe he is hot. At that moment, as if he heard him, Namjoon’s nostrils flare and his eyes suddenly meet Seokjin’s. Seokjin gives an awkward little wave. Namjoon’s face melts into a smile and Seokjin’s breath comes short – even with everyone else in this room, Seokjin has all of Namjoon’s attention. It’s heady.
And then Namjoon glances back up to his slides and clicks to the next one, and the moment is gone.
“Remember he walked into the kitchen door last week.” Seokjin spins and walks out of the lecture theatre. “He’s not that cool.” Which is a bald-faced lie. Seokjin has to blink to clear his mind. He glances around and finds a sign with Namjoon’s office number.
“He’s cooler than you,” Jungkook mumbles, dragging his feet. “You just make soap all day.”
“My job is definitely cooler,” Seokjin says, nose going up in the ear a little. “It’s not just soap. Today’s batch had puns on it.” The line had been called soap opera. He’d spent the day engraving musical notes into the different soap scents.
“That’s way nerdier than being a professor. Which I didn’t think was possible.”
Seokjin ignores him as he peers at the numbers he passes. Jungkook is a baby. His opinion doesn’t count. Seokjin’s job is way better.
“Can I help you?”
Seokjin glances up to see a woman blocking his way. Her hair is cut razor sharp just below her ears, glasses perched delicately on her nose. Her alpha scent washes over Seokjin, cloying and strong.
He wrinkles his nose a little.
“I’m looking for Namjoon’s office.”
“Namjoon, huh?” Her head tilts to the side. “He always get the pretty ones. Follow me.”
She takes them up another flight of stairs, which… dammit. He thought he’d been a little closer than that.
“So,” she says, slanting a look at them. “I didn’t know he’d started letting children into his lectures.”
“I’m fourteen,” Jungkook snaps as they stop in front of a closed door.
“We’re not students here.” Seokjin snorts a little at the image. He hadn’t even finished high school. He is very out of place here amongst this intellectualism. “Namjoon is… a friend.”
She leans against the door, gazing at him through lowered lashes.
“A friend, huh? I can smell him on you, but I’d know you if you were pack. What did you say your name was?”
“I didn’t give it,” Seokjin says with a sweet smile.
Her smile suddenly widens and she leans forwards.
“Ooh, you’re that one. The omega.”
Seokjin raises an eyebrow. “Last time I checked.”
She leans in even further. Seokjin holds his ground.
“I can see why he likes you so much. Why they all do. If I had lips like yours, I reckon I’d get away with murder.” She leans back. The sudden loss of her scent makes Seokjin blink. “You don’t even have to do anything to look that good. You know how long it took me to put on my face this morning?”
Seokjin narrows his eyes. “No. And neither do I care.”
She laughs. “I wasn’t asking you, prince omega. I was asking the baby. So? How long.”
Jungkook stares at her wide-eyed and completely blank. Seokjin has to press his lips together to stop the laughter.
“F-Five? Minutes?” Jungkook says.
“Ugh, men,” she whines. “No. Forty minutes, including my hair. This is some bullshi— bullship.”
Jungkook’s face sours again quickly. “I said I’m fourteen!”
“Is there a point to this?” Seokjin cuts in.
She laughs again. “Oh, you’re going to make him work for it, aren’t you?”
“Soyeon.” Namjoon’s voice rolls down the hallway. “What are you doing?”
“Oopsy,” she whispers, winking at Jungkook, who immediately goes red. “Just had to show your omeg— sorry, your guests to your office.”
Namjoon comes to a halt beside them. Seokjin can’t help the way his nostrils flare to breath in his scent, comforting after Soyeon’s electricity.
Namjoon’s eyebrows jump up.
“How altruistic,” he says. “I can always count on you to not have ulterior motives.”
“How could you expect me to ignore this delicious omega wandering the hallways lost?”
Seokjin rolls his eyes and she laughs again.
“Okay, I know where I’m not wanted.” She holds her hands up in surrender, slipping out of the way of the door. “Omega, women are normally my favourite but I’d make you one of my exceptions if this doesn’t work out.” She winks at him and then she’s gone.
“Sorry. She’s a bit over-the-top.”
Seokjin stares after her with narrowed eyes.
“I can’t tell if I’m terrified or want to be her.”
Namjoon snorts. “One of her is enough. Come on in, sorry, I didn’t mean to make you wait. That lecture ran a little long.”
Namjoon unlocks the door and lets them in. Seokjin breezes past him, snooping immediately. Namjoon’s office perhaps shouldn’t be as surprising as what it is. Or maybe Seokjin’s just very interested in it. He wouldn’t know what a professor’s office is meant to look like, but in the movies they’re always very stuffy and messy.
Namjoon’s office is the opposite of that. He has big windows that let in lots of light. The table, cupboards and bookshelf are all made from the same light-toned, sturdy wood. Expensive looking. There’s a rug on the ground, a simple white and grey pattern. Everything is clean. Nothing is out of place.
Seokjin steps over to peer at the figurines lined up on one shelf between books. He snorts. Namjoon is such a nerd.
“Ooh, you have a tree? Is it real? It looks fake— oh.”
Seokjin whirls around. Jungkook has his hand on the bonsai tree on Namjoon’s desk, looking up in horror. One of the tiny branches is snapped off in his hand. Jungkook begins to shrink back. His scent spikes.
Seokjin’s eyes widen. He crosses the room, already sending out comforting pheromones, but Namjoon beats him to it.
“It needed a haircut, anyway,” he says, despite there now being a very obvious hole in the bonsai’s carefully crafted foliage. Namjoon looks up from where he’s dragging a chair over behind his desk and smiles. “Come take a seat, I want to hear about your test today.”
Jungkook blinks. He carefully puts the broken branch down at the base of the bonsai tree. He looks a bit wary, but no longer on the brink of terror. Seokjin breathes out.
There’s a bench against one wall that Seokjin settles down against, pulling his laptop out. It’s easier than he thinks it would be to settle into a rhythm, sorting out his cashflow spreadsheet. Namjoon and Jungkook’s voices fade into a familiar cadence.
He doesn’t realise how much time passes until Jungkook is in front of him, kicking him in the shin.
“Hey. I’m hungry.”
Seokjin blinks a few times, brain slow and sticky after all the numbers.
“Yeah, sorry, I’ve got 150 assessments lefts to grade, otherwise I would—”
“Can we go, I’m hungry,” Jungkook whines, stomping out of the office.
Seokjin sighs. Namjoon smiles.
“He’s such a brat,” Seokjin says.
“A brat that’s doing better in school. And no more fights, right?”
“Not any that I know about. But he’s a crafty kid.” Seokjin breathes in slowly. Namjoon’s scent is strong in this room – sun-warm and comforting. He wants to sink into it.
“Ah, actually.” Namjoon shifts a little on his feet. “I wanted to ask you. How would you feel about getting dinner soon?”
“Oh.” Seokjin blinks. “Of course – that’s a great idea.” Namjoon’s shoulders melt down. Seokjin hadn’t even realised he was that tense. “The kids loved having you over last time. Saturdays are our normal family dinner time, but it’s technically family dinner every night. Saturday is just a little more extravagant.”
“Family dinner,” Namjoon repeats.
“Saturday does sound good, actually. You can take a break from all this academic stuff.” Seokjin smiles. He’ll have another chance to corner Namjoon alone if he comes for dinner again. “Great idea! I’ll see you then!”
“See you then,” Namjoon says quietly, but Seokjin’s already out the door. His eyebrows knit together, thinking about what he should wear. At least he’ll be able to prepare, this time. But he can’t prepare so much that the kids realise he’s prepared – they’d be so obnoxious. Them and their dating poster. Seokjin can pull in his own alphas without help from babies, thank you very much.
He’d show that on Saturday night.
Sometimes, Yoongi disappears for a few days. Seokjin doesn’t see him more than once a week normally, but they’re always texting. Yoongi keeps Seokjin sane when the kids are driving him up the wall. Neither Seokjin nor Yoongi would ever admit it, but Yoongi is part of Seokjin’s little family. Even if he’s missed several of the last family dinners.
So Seokjin notices quickly when Yoongi goes silent. He sends him a few texts, but they go unanswered. He doesn’t pick up when Seokjin calls.
He gives him one day of peace.
And then he’s over knocking on his door when the kids are all at school.
“Yoongi?” he calls. “I know you’re in there. I can smell you. And let me tell you, it does not smell good. It smells like…” He takes some loud, dramatic sniffs. “Is that… illicit dru—”
The door flies open. Yoongi is standing there, body swallowed up in an oversized hoodie, face puffy and scowling.
“Stop trying to spread rumours among my neighbours,” he growls, voice rusty.
His scent isn’t good. It’s sour, diminished, the same way it always gets when Yoongi is having one of those days.
“Why not?” Seokjin says loudly. “Do you not want them to know about our hot and steamy sex life—”
“Get in here,” he hisses, grabbing Seokjin by the wrist and flinging him inside. Seokjin giggles. He fixes his hair as he surveys the tiny apartment. Yoongi’s social worker salary is shit. And he’ll never accept any of the money Seokjin’s tries to give him, despite Seokjin having so much left from his parents that he wouldn’t need to work a day in his life again.
Yoongi’s normally not a very clean person, but this is messy, even for him. Plates are stacked up in the sink. Empty takeaway containers are balanced on top of the bin. Blankets are covering the couch, like Yoongi had emerged from a cocoon to answer the door.
“Why are you here?” Yoongi grumps, even though they both know exactly why.
Neither will say it, though.
“Why didn’t you answer your phone? Where is it?” Seokjin roots around for a bit before he finds it shoved between the cushions of the couch. It’s dead. “I need your help.”
“Fuck off.” There isn’t much heat to it. Yoongi goes to burrow back into the couch, but Seokjin quickly sidesteps between them.
“Nope, you owe me for missing family dinner. C’mon, I can’t pour these candles properly by myself.”
“Get Jimin to help you.”
“That kid gets distracted by everything.”
“You know he’ll wander off halfway to make some insane device to do the job for me.”
“Would you trust that kid with anything yet? He’d probably pour it all over my new shoes and call it an accident.”
“Why do you think I wouldn’t?”
“Because I would make your life hell. And start even more rumours for your nosy neighbours to feed on. I know a lot of weird sex things, Yoongi. Don’t force me to be inventive.”
Yoongi stares at him blankly.
“What do you want?”
“First, you need a shower.” Seokjin’s nose wrinkles. “I’m not getting in a car with you like that.”
“I never asked you to,” Yoongi bitches, but he shuffles off to the shower regardless. He sheds clothes along the way until he’s naked and slamming the bathroom door closed.
Seokjin puts his hands on his hips and sighs. He surveys the mess. When Yoongi’s like this, he probably won’t get out of the shower unless prompted, so Seokjin has lots of time.
He gets started.
By the time he’s banging on the bathroom door, the apartment is as shining as he can make it. The sink gleams. You can see the floor. The clothes in the wardrobe are neatly folded, rather than just being crammed in there.
Seokjin takes that as an invite and lets himself in. Yoongi is in the shower, arms clutched around himself and shivering.
Ah. Seokjin always forgets about the shitty hot water here.
“C’mon,” Seokjin says softly, reaching in. He winces a little when the water hits his sleeves. It’s bitingly cold. He draws Yoongi out, grabbing a towel and rubbing it all over. Yoongi’s skin is going blotchy and red. Yoongi lets himself be manhandled around. Seokjin sneakily rubs his scent all over him where he can. Yoongi’s shoulders relax a little.
“I’m too fucked up,” Yoongi says suddenly.
Seokjin pauses only for a moment before continuing to dry down his leg. “Mm?”
“For Hoseok. I’m too fucked up.”
Seokjin doesn’t glance up from his kneeling position. “Mm.”
Yoongi stares at a spot on the wall.
“Doesn’t matter anyway,” Yoongi mutters. “He’s probably found someone else by now. Someone less fucked up.”
“We weren’t anything, anyway. It doesn’t matter.”
Seokjin stands up, throwing the towel over his shoulder. He grips Yoongi’s bony shoulders and forces him to make eye contact.
“If you talk about my Min Yoongi like that again, I’ll tear out your eyes and force feed them to you with pancakes. Got it?”
Yoongi cringes back and yeah, perhaps he’d come on a little too strong.
“Come on,” he says. “Get dressed. These candles can’t wait all day for your slow ass.”
They don’t say much more until Seokjin has man-handled Yoongi into the car.
“You’re not fucked up,” he says, steadfastly staring out the front windscreen. Yoongi’s head is tilted towards the window so he can’t see his expression. It’s probably sour. They don’t do serious very well. “We’ll sort out this Hoseok thing when you feel better. Or I can just get Namjoon to kick him out his pack after I’ve seduced him and fucked all reason from his mind.”
Yoongi’s head swivels around to face him. Seokjin can see his dead stare out of the corner of his eye.
“After you’ve what.”
“Seduced him.” Seokjin hums to himself, flicking on the indicator and glancing over his shoulder before changing lanes. “That’s my plan, regardless of the Hoseok thing. I’m going to fuck it out with Namjoon and then I can go back to normal and everything will be great again. Maybe I’ll even get a heat partner out of it.”
Yoongi’s long silence is louder than words. Seokjin turns the radio up. It’s still set to what Taehyung had it at yesterday – a bright pop song in what sounds like Hindi floods the car. It takes barely a second for Yoongi to slam his hand on the off button. Silence falls.
“That’s a terrible idea.”
“Okay, rich coming from you right now.”
“Ask him on a date.”
Seokjin bursts out laughing, accidentally squeaks a little.
“What?” His shoulders shake. “Why would I? Do that? Yoongi. C’mon.”
Yoongi stares at him. Seokjin’s guffaws die down. The car is quiet. Seokjin drums his fingers against the steering wheel. Yoongi’s silences are always so damning. Seokjin’s never been able to master this skill, but he likes to imagine how powerful he’d be if he could.
But he knows Yoongi too well by now. Knows how he likes to use his silences to force others to speak. But Seokjin’s too wise for this game and he never manages to get to him, so—
“I’m not going to date an alpha,” Seokjin blurts out. Fuck. Dammit. Again. “Can you imagine? No. No way. How could you even ask me that after what happened?”
“That was years ago.”
“Nooo no no. I can’t think of anything worse than dating an alpha. No. I just need him to knot me then I’ll get rid of him.”
The silence is damning again. Seokjin bites down hard on his cheek to stop himself from filling it again.
Eventually, Yoongi turns back to the window.
“That’s the dumbest fucking idea ever,” he grumbles.
“Well. You get no say in it. So.”
Yoongi crosses his arms.
Later, much later, after Yoongi’s helped him with dozens of candles and packaging up his pun soaps from the other day, after the kids have returned home and dinner has come and gone, they sit out on the back porch. Seokjin swirls his red wine in the glass, inhaling the scent. He can faintly hear the kids arguing over who gets to use Taehyung’s latest invention first – it’s a stationary bike you ride to charge up your electronics. Seokjin doesn’t see why they need it when they have perfectly functional electricity outlets. But he kept that to himself.
Yoongi is in his wolf-form, collapsed across his lap and breathing deeply. Seokjin cards his fingers through his coarse neck fur. He loves Yoongi’s wolf form – he’s pure white, sleek and powerful. His eyes are closed, but Seokjin knows he’s not asleep. His scent is still a little on-edge. The sourness from earlier has faded, but not quite gone away yet.
This happens every few months. Kind of like Taehyung’s episodes, but this is all from Yoongi’s brain. Sometimes it just knocks him out like this. They don’t talk about it much. Seokjin knows Yoongi has a therapist he sees every few weeks, pills he takes. But sometimes the sadness creeps back in anyway and it’s hard for him to even leave his bed.
Seokjin catches it most of the time and will drag Yoongi to his house to be surrounded by his close-knit, if slightly dysfunctional, family.
They don’t ever say it aloud but right now, Seokjin looks down at Yoongi and thinks: I love you, I love you, I love you. Seokjin may have made a home for his three pups, but Yoongi had done the same for him long before all of this. He’d rescued Seokjin. Gotten him out of that toxic situation, held him each night as he’d built himself back up. As he’d relearnt how to be him, alone, with no one breathing down his neck.
Yoongi had rescued each of his pups from the bad turn they’d been dealt by the foster system. Taught Taehyung about what it means to be a beta.
Each of them owes Yoongi so much. Everything.
If only Yoongi would accept any of the unconditional love they’re all lining up to give him.
He sighs and ruffles Yoongi’s ears. Yoongi growls, jerking his head to the side.
“You silly wolf,” he whispers to him. I love you.
Yoongi settles back down again.
After another unsuccessful seduction attempt – where Seokjin had fed Namjoon some of the raspberries he’d brought along and Namjoon had blushed and stuttered but done nothing more – Seokjin has retreated to his backyard. He’s currently frowning at his kumquat tree, spraying it with insecticidal soap. Some of the leaves have become infested with mealybugs, so they look dusted with white. He’d come out here to harvest and had discovered this. It had made his mood even worse.
He hears the back door swing open, then shut. His head perks up when he catches Namjoon’s distinct scent.
Namjoon’s long legs carry him across the grass towards Seokjin. His hands are buried in his pockets. He looks around, eyes bright as they catch on Seokjin’s workshop off to the side.
“I was wondering where you’d gotten off to,” he says, smile curving up his lips. Seokjin blinks and spaces for a bit – Namjoon’s smile is just so nice. His eyes curve up into little happy crescents, his dimples cutting deep grooves into his cheeks. It just seems so genuine. Way more genuine than Seokjin’s own – he only has a fake smile or his obnoxiously loud laugh. No in-between. Seokjin likes Namjoon’s smile. He likes the way it lights up the room, how it makes people turn towards him. He likes the way it sets his chest glowing.
And when they finally fuck, he can get rid of all of these stupid warm feelings in his chest and go back to normal. He can’t wait.
“My kumquat is being eaten alive,” he says, giving the tree several more sad squirts.
Namjoon’s eyes go adorably wide. “Your… what?” Seokjin also likes to see him like this – wide-eyed, nervous, confused. He’s so open. Seokjin can’t think of another alpha he’s met that is this genuine and open with their emotions. It’s really fucking attractive. To Seokjin, at least.
“My kumquat. My tree? This one.”
Namjoon blinks slowly at the tree, then his eyes narrow. “Huh. That’s not an orange tree?”
Seokjin bursts out laughing.
“No, they’re two completely different things.”
Namjoon leans in close and peers at one of the oval-shaped fruits.
“Looks kinda the same to me.”
Seokjin scoffs. “You’re a citrus amateur.” He bumps Namjoon out of the way with his hip so he can spray the next infested area. “This baby is my pride and joy.”
“Didn’t I see it almost get burnt down? That time with the fireworks?”
Seokjin’s face transforms into a scowl at the memory.
“Yes. You can still see the scars on the trunk. See?” Seokjin squats down and moves some branches out of the way. “There.”
Namjoon squats down next to him. His fingers reach out and trace over the black marks.
“I can’t believe they made backyard fireworks,” Namjoon says, then snorts. “If this is what they do now, imagine what they’ll do when they’re older.”
“They’ll either bring about world peace or total anarchy.” Seokjin stands up. His knees crack. “I’m betting on the latter.”
Namjoon laughs, pretty teeth flashing. Seokjin’s body goes a little limp.
“Hey,” he says abruptly. His mouth is moving before his brain can really catch up, but he’s always had his best ideas on the fly. “Want to fuck?”
Namjoon, half-way to standing up, coughs and stumbles. Seokjin watches with eyebrows raised. Asking directly had been at the bottom of his list, but he’s exhausted all other options. There’s only so many ways he can tilt his head and bite his lip at Namjoon before he gives up. He’s never had to ask before, but whatever. He’ll make an exception for Namjoon.
“What?” Namjoon’s eyes are even wider than before as he looks at him. Seokjin’s hand tightens on the spray bottle.
“I want you to fuck me, Joon,” he says. He raises an eyebrow. “Is that a no?”
“It’s a— what. Are you being serious?”
Seokjin folds his arms. “I’ve been dropping hints for weeks. Yes, I’m serious.” Seokjin hates the small kernel of nervousness lodged in his throat. He’s Kim Seokjin. He doesn’t get nervous. He has alphas lined up around the block. He doesn’t need to get scared over asking one alpha to sleep with him.
“Oh.” Namjoon’s face melts into a soft smile. “Well. So have I.”
Seokjin blinks. “What?”
“I’ve been trying to court you for weeks.” His eyes shine, everything soft soft soft. “I wasn’t sure you’d noticed.”
Seokjin’s stomach drops.
“Court me?” he repeats. “I didn’t say anything about courting.”
Namjoon blinks, eyebrows scrunching. “Oh. What?”
Seokjin finds himself drawing back.
“I don’t date alphas. Especially not pack alphas. I just want to fuck.”
The expression drops from Namjoon’s face. His scent turns sharp, hurt, before he gets it under control.
“Oh,” Namjoon says softly, and Seokjin isn’t sure what his chest is doing. It feels tight. Namjoon is upset. He hadn’t meant to make him upset but… really? Courting? The thought of being controlled by an alpha like that again makes him ill. Namjoon continues: “I apologise. I misunderstood.” He bows his head and he’s so formal, Seokjin wants to scream. “I thought… it doesn’t matter.”
Seokjin wraps his arms around himself, shoulders tight.
“So, what? Is that a no?”
“I think we want different things.”
Seokjin laughs. It’s a sharp, cold sound. “Do we? Fucking is the same as courting but without all the pretense. Most alphas would kill to fuck me with no strings attached.”
“Alphas aren’t all the same.”
Seokjin scoffs. “Okay, sure.”
Namjoon’s face is unreadable.
“I think… maybe I should leave.” His voice is so measured it makes Seokjin angrier. “We’re just getting upset.”
“Ah, there it is.” The laugh that rips out of Seokjin’s lips tastes bitter. “That alpha condescension. You think you know best, huh? Better than a stupid little omega like myself. Next you’re going to Command me.”
Namjoon’s eyes flash. “I never said that.” His voice is like steel. “And I wouldn’t Command you. You know that.”
“You didn’t have to say that, it was implied,” Seokjin sneers. “What are you even getting out of courting that you wouldn’t get from just fucking?”
“I like you, Seokjin. I would get you. I want to create a relationship that’s about more than just sex.”
Seokjin’s eyes narrow.
“So it’d be about, what, the pups? Taking my pack for your own?”
“I would never—”
“It’s what you’ve pretty much said before, right? That I can’t handle Jimin and Taehyung, let alone Jungkook. Don’t deny it.”
“I’m not going to apologise for wanting to make sure Jungkook gets the best care possible.” Namjoon’s voice is low, fierce. It sends shivers down Seokjin’s spine. Not unpleasant ones. “I may have been skeptical at first, but you proved me wrong. I think they’re all great kids. You did a—”
“Okay, so let’s make one thing clear. Those kids, in there?” Seokjin’s finger stabs out at the house. “They’re mine, Namjoon. Not yours. Not part of your pack. Mine. So you can take your courting bullshit to some other clueless omega. Got it?”
Namjoon is silent. The fire burns burns burns in Seokjin’s chest.
Namjoon says softly, “Loud and clear.” He bows his head. “Thank you for your answer.” Then he turns and walks back to the house.
Seokjin crosses his arms angrily. “Stay away from my kids, alpha,” he calls after him. Namjoon doesn’t acknowledge him.
And then he’s left alone, spray bottle still in hand, shaking next to the kumquat tree.
He’d made the right choice. He knows it. It’s better to hurt a little now than later on. He doesn’t have any regrets.
He gives himself one breath. One breath to feel all the hurt and rejection and confusion. Then he clenches his jaw and gets back to spraying his tree.
Namjoon doesn’t show up to family dinner on Saturday night, of course. Seokjin hadn’t been expecting him. He hadn’t been stiff all night, darting quick looks at the front door.
Yoongi is back to having a good day. He laughs and trades jibes with the kids. He even gets up to verse Jungkook in Just Dance, which is hilarious for everyone involved except perhaps Yoongi himself.
“I don’t see you doing any better,” Yoongi bitches, falling onto the couch next to him, red-faced and sweaty.
“Yeah, because I’ve learnt my lesson. Trying to beat Jungkook in any game is a bad idea. But a dancing one? You idiot.”
Yoongi grumbles to himself.
Later on, they’re sitting on the back porch again, feet dangling off the edge. This time they’re both sipping wine – it’s a dessert wine that Seokjin had been given during the week. He’s quite enjoying it and likes how fancy he feels drinking it. Not that he’d ever tell the alpha that.
“I think I’m going to ask Hoseok out,” Yoongi says abruptly. “Properly, this time.”
Seokjin glances over in surprise. Yoongi’s face is as blank as ever. He doesn’t look back.
“That sounds like a good idea,” Seokjin says. “I didn’t realise you hadn’t asked him out properly in the first place.”
“We were just fucking. But…” Yoongi shrugs. “I’m going to ask.”
Seokjin grins into his tiny wine glass, knocking his shoulder against Yoongi’s. “Good for you.”
Yoongi’s cheeks are faintly red.
“I will not. I’m excited. My little Yoongi, about to have his very own boyfriend? Cute.”
“Shut up. He probably won’t say yes.”
“He will,” Seokjin says with full confidence. “He’d be lucky to have you. He’s definitely punching above his weight.”
Yoongi makes a face and shoves him. Seokjin cackles.
“Whatever,” he grumbles, taking an angry sip of the sweet wine. “We’ll see.”
Seokjin’s laughter fades and it’s quiet again. The light from the house doesn’t quite illuminate the lone kumquat tree, but Seokjin’s eyes travel there regardless. Heaviness enters his chest.
“What about you?” Yoongi breaks the silence, voice low. “How is your genius plan going?”
Seokjin makes a non-committal sound.
“Is that… a no? A yes?”
“It’s a ‘I have interviews for a new tutor lined up tomorrow’.”
Yoongi straightens up, glass thunking onto the ground.
“What do you think happened? It’s the same with all alphas. They’re assholes.”
Yoongi’s lips press together. He looks troubled. Seokjin doesn’t say anything else and Yoongi slowly sinks back into his normal slouch.
“Well. I thought he was one of the good ones.”
Seokjin laughs, then cuts off abruptly when he realises it’s a bitter, cold sound. “There are no good ones. All that alpha narcissism fucks up their brains.”
Yoongi’s eyes stay on his glass, watching the liquid as he swirls it around. He says slowly, “You always talk about how toxic omega stereotypes are. Yet you typecast all alphas the same?”
Seokjin meets Yoongi’s eyes with steel. “Are you saying I don’t have a reason to think that? Besides, I haven’t been proven wrong yet.”
Yoongi’s eyes are troubled. “What about Jimin?”
Seokjin flaps his hand. “Obviously not Jimin. I’ve raised him properly.”
Yoongi hums, eyes narrowing. Seokjin waits for the retort.
But Yoongi’s mouth just softens and he sighs.
“Okay. I’m sorry it didn’t work out between you two.” Yoongi pauses. “He seems like he would’ve had great dick game.”
“Oh, fuck, don’t even start.”
“Like an enormous di—”
“No more or I’ll ban you from the house!” Seokjin hisses.
Yoongi chuckles, then silence settles over them once more. Seokjin loves many things about Yoongi, but the silences are one of his favourites. They’re always comfortable – neither feels the urge to fill it with anything. They’re comfortable chatting or just sitting. It’s nice. It makes him feel warm inside when all week he’s been feeling cold.
“You should invite Hoseok to family dinner,” Seokjin says.
Yoongi glances at him in surprise. Seokjin ignores it. Yoongi relaxes back onto his palms.
“Maybe,” he says. “Give it a few dates, though. If he says yes. I’m not subjecting him to this insanity until I know I have him locked down.”
Seokjin sniffs. “I don’t know what you mean.”
In a stroke of perfect timing, he hears a muted bang from the house and three voices yelling in unison. Then giggling.
He sighs and downs the rest of his drink.
“If this is another weird invention, I swear to god…”
Yoongi laughs as he follows him back into the house.
The new tutor isn’t even a wolf at all. She’s human, studying her masters at the same university Namjoon works at. She’d come with some great reviews and seems a sweet girl, if a little shy. And boring. Jungkook had taken one look at her and scoffed, then hidden in his room. After her interview, they’d had a huge fight.
Seokjin had eventually won. But needless to say, on Tuesday afternoon when the new tutor shows up, Jungkook is sulky and quiet. She’s early, which Seokjin considers another vote in her favour. And she doesn’t seem too put off by Jungkook’s terrible attitude. Seokjin brings them both tea.
Jungkook doesn’t touch his.
He’s heading back to his armchair when there’s a knock at the front door.
Immediately, Jungkook straightens up and his gaze zeroes in on the door. Seokjin freezes. His nostrils flare, trying to get any scent and—
“Stay.” He stabs a finger at Jungkook, then strides across to the door. He throws it open and—
Yep. It’s Namjoon.
His brown hair is pushed back off his face, eyes wide and a little nervous as he stands there. Seokjin’s heart does a funny thing in his chest. He pushes it down.
“What are you doing here?”
“I was hoping what happened last week didn’t affect our tutoring arrangement.”
Seokjin’s eyes narrow.
“When I told you to stay away, was I unclear?”
Namjoon flinches back.
Seokjin’s shoulders tense up. He can feel the judgement in Namjoon’s tone. As if he’s not doing a good job.
Seokjin’s breathing speeds up.
“We won’t be needing your tutoring anymore.” He gives a fake, sugar-sweet smile. “Thanks.” Then he slams the door closed. His chest burns hot.
He can feel Namjoon on the other side. His scent is still frustratingly familiar. And right now, it’s spiked with distress.
He stamps down any instinctive response to it. Purposely relaxes his shoulders. Turns around.
Jungkook is scowling down at the table. The new tutor looks awkward. Jimin and Taehyung are peering over the bannister with wide eyes.
“Would anyone like some tea?”
“Oh, uh…” The new tutor points at her full cup. “All good over here.”
“Right.” Seokjin smiles. “I’ll be out back if you need me.”
No one says anything as he strides through the house.
“Jinnie,” Taehyung says from behind him, slow and thoughtful.
Seokjin is at the stove, flipping the eggs.
“I have a question.”
He heads to the toaster, grabbing the toast out and arranging it on four plates.
“Go for it.”
“What, uh…” Taehyung’s hesitation makes Seokjin pause. He turns around. Jungkook is sleeping on the table. Jimin is texting on his phone. Taehyung sits between them, back ramrod straight and eyes wide. “What happened with Namjoon?”
Jimin’s texting stops. Jungkook tenses.
Seokjin smiles, easy as can be.
“Nothing happened, really,” he lies. “We just came to a mutual agreement that he wasn’t the best person for us at this time.”
“Did you have a fight?”
“Of course not.” Seokjin turns back to the stove. The eggs are done. He focuses on lifting them off the pan and onto the plate next to the bacon. His scent doesn’t betray anything.
“Then why are you so sad all the time?”
Seokjin freezes. It’s only a moment, and then he’s back in motion: sweeping up the plates and putting them in front of each of them, plonking Jungkook’s one down extra-hard even though he’s definitely no longer asleep.
“Sad? What do you mean? I’m perfectly fine.”
Jimin scoffs, slamming his phone down. No one has touched their cutlery yet.
“We’re not idiots, Jin. We can tell when you’re upset.”
“Yeah, you’re not as good at hiding it as you think,” Taehyung says.
Seokjin carefully settles himself at the table, picking up his cutlery and cutting into the eggs.
“I’m not upset,” he repeats. “You should all eat before it gets cold.” He delicately takes a bite and chews.
Seokjin jumps when Jungkook’s hands smack onto the table.
“Did he hurt you?” Jungkook’s irises are electric blue. He’s sending out waves of aggressive pheromones.
Seokjin drops his cutlery, leaning over to curl his hand over Jungkook’s hair and cup his jaw. He makes his scent as calming as possible.
“Kook, no,” he says softly. “He didn’t hurt me.”
“Why are you lying,” Jungkook says. To Seokjin’s surprise, he doesn’t pull away. Instead, he leans heavier into Seokjin’s hand. “We all know something happened.”
Seokjin sighs. Fuck. Fuck. He’d wanted to avoid this.
“I’m sorry.” His thumb strokes over Jungkook’s cheek. The frown lines disappear from his face. Now he just looks wide-eyed and scared. “I don’t— I don’t want to stress any of you out. It’s nothing.”
“It’s not nothing if it’s making you this sad,” Taehyung says, leaning into Jungkook’s side. “We’re meant to be a family. We don’t hide things.”
Seokjin looks at each of them. They all look so grave. So concerned for him. It makes him squirmish. He’s not used to this. He’s used to taking care of others. It’s uncomfortable for the roles to be switched around like this. Yoongi, at least, he can handle. They both have their quiet way of communicating. But the kids? Not so much.
“We… had a disagreement,” Seokjin says carefully. “I don’t trust him around us anymore.”
Jungkook’s eyebrows slam down. “What does that mean?”
Seokjin sighs through his nose, eyebrows knitting together. The last thing he wants to do is discuss this. But he’s always tried to be open with the kids. They wouldn’t trust him otherwise. He can’t betray that now.
“Alphas can be…” He presses his lips together as he thinks. “Controlling. They can be controlling and have antiquated ideas about what makes a pack.”
“Namjoon is like that?” Taehyung asks.
Seokjin nods. “Alphas just want to control everything. It’s instinctual.”
Taehyung’s eyes dart quickly to Jimin then away. Seokjin realises that Jimin is studiously staring down at the blank screen of his phone.
“Not you though, Jimin,” he hastens to add. “You’ve been raised properly to respect other sub-genders. Most alphas don’t have that. All they have is people telling them how powerful and faultless they are. So then they turn out to be real jerks.”
“Like Namjoon?” Taehyung asks.
“Like Namjoon,” Seokjin repeats with a nod.
Jimin chews on the edge of his nail, frowning at the table before he lifts his eyes to Seokjin and asks, “Is this about that alpha? The one who hurt you?”
Seokjin’s breath catches in his throat. There’s a dull roaring in his ears.
His voice is too even, too flat, when he says, “Who told you about that.”
Jungkook lets out a whimper. It’s enough to make Seokjin flinch and take a full breath. He realises his scent is seeping out of him, laced with acrid emotion. He closes his eyes and forces himself to be calm. To push the memories back down. He’s not here. It doesn’t matter. It was years ago. Fuck.
“Sorry.” Seokjin reaches over and draws Jungkook closer to him, who immediately relaxes. Omegas are always more susceptible to scents. Jimin’s eyes are flashing red, while Taehyung just looks upset.
“Who told you about that?” he repeats.
“Yoongi. Months ago. Only because we asked. He didn’t tell us much more than that.”
Seokjin’s breath hisses out. Yoongi. He hadn’t even given him a heads-up. He only would’ve told them to help in some way, but that doesn’t help him now.
“What alpha?” Jungkook asks, squirming out of his grasp and scowling at him. “Another alpha hurt you? Where are they?”
Seokjin’s hand slams onto the table.
“We’re not talking about that alpha. Not now, not ever. Now go get dressed or you’ll be late for school.”
The kids all stare at him with wide eyes.
“Now,” he snarls, eyes flashing blue. They scamper up, leaving their plates behind. Seokjin stares after them. Follows them with his ears as they race upstairs. His hands are trembling.
Slowly, slowly, he sinks down onto the ground. His ears are ringing. His hand tingles from where he’d hit the table. He’d been violent. Fuck. Even after all these years, that asshole can still get in his head.
He curls up tight, trying to keep it contained. He doesn’t want his inner turmoil sinking into his scent, getting upstairs. Then the kids would never leave. His breaths are harsh and panting in his ears. He digs his fingernails into his arms, head between his knees.
Slowly, the pinpricks of pain get through. His breathing shudders, but evens out. His head comes up, hands clutching at his hair.
He lets out a long exhale, trying to push all the stress out with it. He finger-combs his hair into place, then rubs feeling back into his cheeks.
He stands up.
By the time the kids come back downstairs, he has the kitchen cleaned, untouched eggs scrapped into the bin.
“I’ll see you after school,” he calls. Usually, they sail out of the door with barely an acknowledgment. Today, though, each one comes over and scent marks him.
“I’m sorry,” Jimin whispers. “I didn’t meant to upset you.”
Seokjin smiles and brushes his hand through Jimin’s pink hair, fixing it up.
“Have a good day at school.” He drops a kiss on his head.
And then they’re gone and Seokjin is left alone with his thoughts.
One of Yoongi’s social worker colleagues opens the door for him. She blushes when he smiles at her. He doesn’t pause to chat like he normally would, however. He’s too angry for that. He doesn’t stop at any of the others that greet him, either. He strides down the row of cubicles until he gets to Yoongi’s.
Yoongi jumps when Seokjin appears, then scowls.
“Yah, did you have to sneak up on me? What are you doing here?”
Seokjin doesn’t say anything. Just grabs Yoongi by the wrist and drags him into a spare meeting room.
“What is it?” Yoongi asks, a lot more serious now. His nostrils flare a little as he takes in Seokjin’s agitated scent.
Seokjin doesn’t delay. He crosses his arms and says, “You told the kids about Benji?”
Yoongi’s eyes narrow, face steeling. His arms cross in front of him, mirroring Seokjin.
“Yes, I did.”
Seokjin waits. Yoongi is silent.
“Why?” he bursts out. “Why the fuck would you tell them that? It’s not your story to tell. And behind my back, too!”
“It’s not your story alone,” Yoongi says, eyebrows raising judgmentally. “I didn’t tell them much, either. Just what they should know, since you were never going to.”
“Why?” he cries again. His hand comes up to push through his hair, then drops to his side. “I don’t understand why. That shit is all over. There’s no point bringing it back now.”
Yoongi observes him. It’s that particular look he has that cuts right through you. Makes Seokjin think Yoongi can read every internal thought he’s ever had. Seokjin hates it. His shoulders grow more and more tense. And then Yoongi speaks again.
“Jimin came to me a few months ago,” he says. His voice is quiet, eyes half-lidded. Seokjin can’t read any emotion on his face. “And you know what he asked? If you hated him.”
Seokjin— blinks. Stares at Yoongi wide-eyed.
“He thought you hated him because he’s an alpha.”
Seokjin’s eyebrows slam down. “What? Why? I’ve never said anything like that about him.”
Yoongi gives him an unimpressed look.
“Not about him specifically, no. But you’re very clear on what you think about that entire sub-gender. It doesn’t matter how many times you say ‘except for you’. After a while, it’s going to sink in that he’s part of the sub-gender you hate so much.”
“I don’t hate Jimin,” Seokjin says, still wide-eyed. “I could never hate Jimin.”
“I know that. And you know that. But Jimin is a teenager battling a shitload of hormones and instincts. And he’s seeing you treat every alpha you come across like trash.”
“So you’re saying I should let them act like they own me? Like I’m a brainless omega salivating after their knot?”
“Of course not. I’m saying you need to be aware of your prejudices and how they affect the kids you’re looking after. We went through this before Jimin and Tae were put in your care, remember? Being a foster parent, especially to wolves, means you need to be aware of how every action of yours affects those under your care. And you’re self-aware enough in every aspect except for this, Jin. I was hoping Namjoon would help change your perspective.”
Seokjin’s jaw is clenched tight. He pointedly ignores that last sentence. “So you told him about Benji.”
“I waited for you to. I’ve been telling you to do it for months, Seokjin. Well over a year. You ignored me. So when Jimin came to me, angry and upset, yeah, I told him.”
“Why didn’t you tell me? Or even told him to speak to me about it. I’m his primary carer, not you.”
Yoongi’s meets his angry gaze unflinchingly. “If he wanted to ask you, he would’ve.” Seokjin flinches a little. “He didn’t want me to tell you, either.”
Seokjin’s teeth grind together. “I’m the one raising him, I should’ve—”
“Seokjin.” Yoongi’s voice rolls through the room. “You’re letting him get in your head again. Stop it.”
Fuck. Seokjin’s angry, but he’s not angry enough to ignore what Yoongi’s saying. Any mention of that fucking alpha always makes him lose his mind. Even now, after all these years, he’d thought he’d gotten better.
He clenches his fists and tries to even out his breathing.
Yoongi notices the change in the room. His eyes soften. “Seokjin, he just needed—”
Yoongi’s phone goes off.
He glances down at the ID, then swears.
“Sorry, I have to take this,” he says, hurrying out of the room. Seokjin catches the beginning of his professional-answering-the-phone voice.
He leans against the table and sighs. His hand beats out an agitated rhythm against the wood. He hates that Jimin hadn’t felt like he could come to him. He hates that he’d made Jimin feel like he didn’t love him with his entire being. He hates that Yoongi is right. It makes sense that Jimin would go to Yoongi about it. And… he can perhaps admit that Yoongi would be the right person to talk to. He would’ve explained Seokjin’s fucked up years with Benji in the simplest way possible, sparing Seokjin the trauma of reliving it.
But fuck, any mention of Benji still gets under his skin.
He sighs, shoulders slumping all the way down. He thought he’d gotten better at this. Grown, maybe. But he still can’t have a normal reaction.
The door opens and Seokjin glances up, an apology on his lips. It fades when he catches sight of Yoongi – face pale, lips drawn tight. His scent is bitter with emotion. Seokjin straightens up.
“What happened?” he asks, voice low and urgent.
Yoongi stares at him and clutches his phone.
Seokjin’s phone goes off. No caller ID flashes across the screen. He frowns at it, mind immediately flying to the school.
“Kim Seokjin speaking.”
“Hi, this is Antoinette from the police department. Are you the foster parent of Jeon Jungkook?”
Seokjin’s hands clutch the steering wheel tightly. He takes the turn into the school a little too sharp. When the car is parked, Yoongi reaches over and touches his wrist.
“Take a moment,” he murmurs. “Your scent is all over the place.”
“And whose fault is that?” Seokjin snaps, then flinches. “Shit, sorry, sorry. You’re right. Fuck.”
He breathes out. Yoongi’s scent fills the car, warm and familiar. It’s quiet as Seokjin closes his eyes and gets himself back under control. He’s had a hard morning, but Jungkook is about to have a worse one. He needs to get his emotions under control so he can be there for Jungkook.
“Okay,” he says.
Yoongi follows along behind him to the office. The receptionist pales when she sees Seokjin.
“Oh! Uh, Mr Kim. Yes. Hello. Did we…? Uh.”
“There’s a family emergency,” he says. “I need to pull Jungkook out.”
“Oh, yes, certainly! If you could just fill this in, I’ll arrange it all. Yes!”
Jungkook frowns when he sees them both.
“What’s going on?” he asks suspiciously, hovering in the office doorway.
“I’ll let you know at home, okay?”
Jungkook stays planted. His eyes dart between Yoongi and Seokjin.
“Am I in trouble?”
Seokjin softens. “No, Kook. You’ve done nothing wrong.”
The car ride home is tense. Seokjin tries to fill the silence with bright, inane chatter, but Jungkook is a scowling presence in the backseat and Yoongi never wants to make small talk. Seokjin isn’t one to give up, though, no matter how awkward.
“So are you gonna tell me now?” Jungkook snaps, throwing his bag next to the staircase and planting his fists on his hips. “Or are you just gonna keep rambling on about some fake shit again?”
Seokjin looks at him reproachfully. “Swear jar. Why don’t you come have a seat?” He pats the couch next to him.
Jungkook’s scowl somehow darkens.
“No. Tell me what’s going on.”
Seokjin glances at Yoongi and finds he’s not sitting either – he’s leaning against the wall to the kitchen. Seokjin huffs and stands up, resting against the back of the couch.
“Jungkook. We got a call from the police today,” he says carefully. He pauses, lips pressing together. “They found your mother.”
Jungkook’s face freezes. Then he perks up.
The hope in his voice breaks Seokjin’s heart. Jungkook still refuses to talk about her. Or any of the abuse she put him through. Seokjin only knows what the file and his own experience tells him, and it’s not good. Despite all that, Jungkook still loves her. He comes across so jaded most of the time, yet still holds onto the belief that no matter what she did to him, he’d deserved it. Perhaps it’s because he never had her love that he was so desperate for it.
It’s too late now.
“She died of an overdose. They found her two days ago.”
Jungkook’s eyes are wide. His face has gone bone-white. His scent has turned so bitter it makes Seokjin’s nose twitch.
“No. She— She couldn’t have. They got the wrong person.”
“Jungkook—” Seokjin reaches a hand out, stepping forward. Jungkook jerks back so violently he slams into the door. His eyes are vibrant blue.
“No!” he yells. “It’s not her! You’re lying. You just want to— to trap me here! In this stupid, fucked up, fake family!”
Seokjin takes another step closer, lowering his voice.
Jungkook lets out an agonised cry, hunching over. His skin ripples. Then he screams. The shift sweeps through him, bones snapping and muscles distending. Seokjin’s never seen one so violent. Jungkook’s voice goes hoarse, chokes, stutters out into a broken howl. He falls to the ground, twitching, hair sprouting from his body. The sounds are gruesome – it makes Seokjin nauseous. And then the twitching stops and Jungkook lies there in wolf form, half-hidden beneath his clothes, black as night.
He doesn’t move.
Seokjin takes a hesitant step. Yoongi is hovering behind him. He pushes out as many comforting pheromones as he can.
“Kook…” he says softly.
It happens in a blur – Jungkook leaps onto all-fours and lets out a blood-curdling snarl. He throws himself forward. It’s too fast for Seokjin to move. Jungkook’s claws slash across his chest, digging deep. Then his teeth are in Seokjin’s face. Snarling, sharp. Seokjin smashes into the ground. Air thuds out of his chest. He gets an arm up in time to block Jungkook’s teeth. They sink into his forearm instead. Adrenaline courses through him. He throws his arm out, dislodging Jungkook. His claws leave red-hot pain as they scrape out of his chest.
Seokjin staggers into a crouch, holding his hand out. The shift surges under his skin, but he doesn’t let it take over yet.
“Jungkook.” His voice is urgent. He feels light-headed. Wetness is gushing down his front. “Jungkook, listen to my voice. Please concentrate on my voice.”
Jungkook is wild-eyed in the centre of the living room, blood dripping out of his mouth. He’s feral. All his limbs shake. The sound coming from his throat is a scared whine.
“It’s okay, sweetheart,” Seokjin murmurs, inching forwards. “I’m here for you. Just listen to my voice. You’re safe.”
Jungkook’s eyes are terrified. There’s nothing human in them. But he stays still as Seokjin slowly, slowly comes closer. Seokjin barely breathes. He keeps his eyes locked on Jungkook. He can hear the blood dripping off his arm.
Then his knee catches in a pool of blood and slips a little. Jungkook leaps away, paws skittering across the smooth floor as he runs to the backdoor. It’s closed. He jumps up onto the counter then goes through the window. Glass smashes everywhere.
Seokjin jumps up, calling the shift.
Yoongi grabs onto his uninjured arm.
“No, Jin,” he says urgently. “Let him go. Chasing him now will make it worse.”
Seokjin whirls around, arm flinging free.
“I need to— he’s—”
Yoongi grabs onto his shoulders, stopping his erratic movements.
“He needs space,” he says. One hand comes up to cradle his neck, brushing against his scent gland. “He’s not going to hurt anyone else or himself. We’ll get him soon. Okay?”
Seokjin’s chest is heaving. His eyes keep darting around until Yoongi tightens his grip, and then he’s drowning in Yoongi’s gaze. His eyes are beta gold.
“You need to shift and heal yourself first.”
Seokjin tries his best to calm his breathing. Slowly, everything else filters back in. His body is aching. Every breath pulls at the claw marks across his chest. He can’t quite feel his left hand. Blood is thick in the air.
He shifts, the change washing over him like water. Within moments, he’s back in human form. The cuts still sting a little, but they’re closed up. Like they’d been healing for weeks instead of minutes. He scoops up his blood-soaked clothes and puts them in for a cold wash. By the time he’s back downstairs in clean clothes, Yoongi has his phone out. He’s watching him with dark eyes. The gold has faded now.
“What are you doing?”
“We need to call Namjoon,” Yoongi says without preamble.
“Absolutely not. This is my family. Some random alpha is not getting involved.”
Yoongi’s voice is like a whip when he snaps, “Put your fight with him aside. For now, at least. You have a feral omega out there, covered in another omega’s blood—”
“—you should’ve let me go after him!”
“That would’ve made it worse.” The hand with the phone stabs out. “He’s in Namjoon’s territory. He needs to know. He’s also an alpha Jungkook trusts. He’ll be able to get through in a way you, as an omega, can’t.”
Seokjin’s shoulders heave. “We don’t—”
“We do and you know it. Think about what’s best for Jungkook. Not about yourself.”
Seokjin rears back. Yoongi's face remains implacable.
Not about yourself.
Seokjin’s teeth grit tight. Jungkook. Lost and terrified out there.
“Fine,” he snaps. “But if he steps one foot wrong—”
Yoongi is already stepping away, phone to his ear. Seokjin listens to their short conversation. His fingernails bite into his palms.
Yoongi hangs up and comes back into the living room. “He’s at the university but he’s leaving now. He should be here soon.”
“Great,” Seokjin mutters, twitching. He surveys the room – the floor is wet with his blood. It’s already drying and going sticky in some places. Glass covers the kitchen floor. If the kids come home and see this, they’ll freak out.
He looks out the broken kitchen window. He wants to find his pup now. But Yoongi’s right – if he senses someone hunting him, he’ll spook even further. Perhaps hurt someone else.
“You can help me clean while we wait,” he says, striding off to the laundry room.
They’ve mopped the living room floor and have started sweeping the kitchen when Yoongi’s phone rings. He picks it up and his eyes go wide.
Seokjin stops what he’s doing.
“Yeah,” Yoongi murmurs into the phone, “yeah, okay. See you soon.”
“Who was that?” Seokjin demands immediately. “Was that the alpha? He should’ve been here fifteen minutes ago, the university isn’t that far—”
“He has Jungkook with him.”
“Jungkook ran to him at the university.” Yoongi’s eyes are soft. Sympathetic. He knows this is destroying Seokjin’s heart. “He found him when he was getting into his car. He’s driving him over now.”
Seokjin’s chest does something funny. His hand grips the broom handle so hard it splinters.
He has to clear his throat to speak.
“Well.” His eyes stare at a shard of glass next to the toaster. He makes a note to check inside the toaster for more glass. It could be anywhere. “That’s… good. He went to Namjoon.” He looks down at the floor. Starts sweeping.
“Seokjin.” Yoongi has moved closer. His hands close over Seokjin’s, stopping his frenetic sweeping. “I know what you’re thinking. And this is no reflection on your parenting or Jungkook’s relationship with you.”
Seokjin shakes him off and goes back to sweeping.
“I know that. Of course.”
There’s a dead cockroach just out of reach under the fridge. He needs to get that, too. He’ll have to come back with a dustpan and brush anyway.
Yoongi steps in front of him, jerking Seokjin to a halt. He scowls down at the shorter wolf.
“Whatever you’re thinking stop it.” Yoongi’s voice is sharp. “This isn’t Jungkook choosing him over you. This is Jungkook going to the closest place outside of this house he finds safe. It’s instincts.”
“You’re in the way.” Seokjin’s eyes narrow. “Do you want me to miss a shard and for one of the kids to cut up their feet?”
“Seokjin.” Yoongi’s face is set unhappily, like he knows exactly what’s going through Seokjin’s head.
“Move,” he hisses.
Yoongi lips press together. He frowns up at Seokjin. Seokjin stares back. Neither moves.
Then Yoongi sighs and steps back.
Seokjin keeps sweeping.
Only a few minutes later, Seokjin hears a car pulling into the driveway. He drops the broom where it is. Strides outside. Namjoon is crouched beside the open passenger-side door. Jungkook’s black wolf huddles down in the seat, making himself as small as possible. He shrinks back even further when he sees Seokjin come down the steps. Namjoon twists to look over his shoulder, still crouched down. Seokjin keeps his eyes firmly on Jungkook.
“Kook…” he whispers, taking slow steps.
Jungkook’s eyes are huge and electric blue. He’s trembling. Seokjin’s instincts are at war – he wants to shove Namjoon away, but knows Jungkook needs him. So he takes it as slow as he can. When he’s close to the car, he drops to his knees.
“Please come back,” he begs.
Jungkook whines, shifting in the seat. His ears press back onto his skull. His head swivels from Seokjin to Namjoon, and back again.
Namjoon nods his head. Jungkook leaps out of the car and crashes into Seokjin’s arms. Seokjin gasps at the pain on his freshly healed wounds, but clutches close to Jungkook’s fur. Now he can smell Jungkook through the blood and chemical stench of the cleaning products. He buries his face into the thick fur at Jungkook’s neck. Jungkook whines, trying to wiggle as close as possible. Seokjin can feel the fast thump of his pulse.
“Thanks for bringing him back,” he hears Yoongi say.
Seokjin’s back stiffens when Namjoon replies softly.
“It’s no problem. I’m glad I could help.” Something in the air changes. Seokjin glances up. Namjoon’s eyes are red and locked onto him. It makes a shiver go down Seokjin’s spine. “You’re injured,” he says, voice sharp. Jungkook lets out a whine, making Namjoon glance at him. He visibly softens and says, more gently but no less urgently, “What happened? I smell blood and pain.”
“It’s fine,” Seokjin cuts Yoongi off. His voice is cold. “Thank you for bringing Jungkook back. You can leave now.”
Namjoon’s mouth opens but he hesitates. Then he nods his head. His eyes look so, so sad. Seokjin disregards it.
“Let me know how he is when he shifts?”
Seokjin doesn’t say anything. There’s a long pause until Yoongi jumps in to answer for him. Seokjin ignores them, hugging Jungkook close again. He doesn’t allow his mind to think when Namjoon’s car starts up, then pulls away. He stays curled up with Jungkook until Yoongi gently tugs them both back into the house.
Jungkook takes four entire days to shift back. The kids take it like heroes – chattering away to him like he can talk back, playing games with him outside. Jungkook stays glued to their side when they’re here, or Seokjin’s when they’re at school. Seokjin becomes used to working with a wolf leaning against his leg or draped across his feet. At night, they all curl up together in a puppy pile in Seokjin’s massive bed. Sometimes shifted, sometimes not.
Seokjin walks in on Taehyung whispering into Jungkook’s ear about his own parents once. He quietly leaves before they notice him.
When an omega is sad, it saturates the house. Jungkook’s mourning settles across everything like night falling. It upsets Jimin the most – that, and the frustration of not being able to do anything to fix it. Seokjin can see his instincts riding him hard. He makes an extra effort to allow Jimin to do things for him, to praise him and let him help. Keep him busy.
Seokjin keeps his mind focussed on his kids and his work, only. Nothing else. He doesn’t even answer the door to the random alphas that come knocking. He can’t stomach it.
And then finally, on the fifth morning, they wake up in Seokjin’s bed huddled around a teenaged boy, instead of a gangly wolf.
Jungkook’s eyes blink open. He’s managed to bury himself in the middle of the bed, everyone splayed around him. His legs are open in a diamond, arms akimbo. It’s his usual weird sleeping position. It warms Seokjin’s heart.
“What— What’re you all doing?” Jungkook’s voice rasps harshly against his throat.
“Jungkookie!” Jimin yelps, throwing himself across Jungkook’s spread legs and flinging his arms around his shoulders. Taehyung slithers in, nudging Jimin slightly out of the way. The kids giggle and flail. When they devolve into play-fighting, Seokjin slips from the bed and hides in his bathroom. He turns the shower on and sheds his clothes. He gets under the spray and throws some soap around to disguise his scent.
Then he sinks to his knees and cries.
He calls Namjoon the next day.
He debates with himself all night, back and forth. He doesn’t want to talk to him. He doesn’t deserve to know. But now his emotions are so snarled up that he can’t tell wrong from right. Namjoon wants to steal his pack. Namjoon wants to steal Jungkook. Seokjin doesn’t trust him. Yet he’d brought him back and left without an argument.
For that, he dials Namjoon.
Namjoon’s voice makes his skin break out in goosebumps. Namjoon sounds breathless, like he’d rushed to answer the phone. He had picked up pretty quick.
Seokjin clutches the phone tighter.
“Jungkook shifted back,” he says. He stares unseeingly down at his workbench.
Namjoon’s breath of relief sounds genuine, but what would Seokjin know.
“Good. That’s good. How is he?”
Seokjin’s throat tightens up.
Seokjin freezes. His brain scrambles to find something to say.
“Fine,” he ends up repeating and wants to bash his head against the table.
“Okay.” There’s a ghost of laughter in his voice. “I’m glad. I’m always happy to help, okay? No matter what happened between us personally.”
Anger rushes through him.
“Sure.” His words are clipped. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Before he can hang up, Namjoon quickly asks: “Do you have plans for the full moon? You’re welcome to use our land again.”
An incredulous laugh startles out of him.
“What? After last time? After everything that’s happened?”
“No thanks, we’re fine.”
Then he hangs up.
Seokjin is abruptly awake, shocked out of his pleasant dream. Remnants of it linger around his consciousness – he’d been invited to an all-you-can-eat buffet filled with cuisine from every region in the world. He’d been up to a dry curry from a southern region of India and it had been tasty.
He definitely needs to stop watching food shows before bed.
He blinks his eyes open and realises Jungkook is hovering at the edge of his bed. His finger is extended like he’s going to poke Seokjin in the face. Seokjin jerks back.
“Don’t even think about it, pup,” he says, voice raspy.
Jungkook’s hand drops.
The room is silent. It’s dark, only a little moonlight filtering in through the windows. It’s enough to make out Jungkook’s face in front of him. He doesn’t quite know the expression he’s wearing, though.
“What is it?” he eventually asks. “Is everything okay?” He pushes into a seated position.
“It’s fine,” Jungkook says. The moonlight shines in his big eyes. Seokjin hopes he never grows into them because they’re so dang cute.
That doesn’t explain why he’s in Seokjin’s room in the early hours of the morning, though.
“Okay,” Seokjin says.
“Yep,” Jungkook replies.
They stare at each other. Jungkook is like a ghost in front of him. About as talkative as one, too.
Seokjin heaves a put-upon sigh, scooting sideways into the cold patch of his enormous bed.
“Here. Get in.”
“I don’t want to,” Jungkook says, but he’s already climbing into the bed, wiggling to get comfortable. Seokjin rolls his eyes, curling his knees closer to his chest until he warms up.
The room falls silent again. Seokjin’s eyes drift closed, ears listening to Jungkook’s soft breath. It’s soothing enough to fall back asleep, but he doesn’t think Jungkook has said all he needs to. Or anything, really.
His mind falls into a meditative state – listening to the sounds around him, feeling one of his pups’ scent so close. And then Jungkook whispers:
“I hate her.”
Seokjin’s heart stops. Then thumps back into motion.
“That’s okay,” Seokjin murmurs.
“But, I loved her.”
Seokjin breathes out slowly.
“That’s okay too.”
“Is it? Can you hate someone and love them at the same time?”
Seokjin thinks of Benji. Thinks of how terribly he’d treated him and the lengths Seokjin would go for him. There was one point where he would’ve done anything for him. It scares him, now. It hadn’t back then.
“Yeah,” he says. “You can.”
Jungkook’s voice is suddenly vicious: “She was a bitch.”
Seokjin stays silent. He can feel the agitation in the room, pouring out of Jungkook. Jungkook huffs, turning over onto his side.
“She was horrible.” His hand slaps against the mattress between them. “She’d— She’d let that asshole do things. She’d encourage it. She’d lie and lie and I could never do the right thing and I hated her.”
Seokjin wants to reach out and gather his pup into his arms, soothe his hurt away, but Jungkook’s too jagged for that right now. He wouldn’t accept it.
Jungkook’s breathing is getting faster and faster, more upset.
“Why—” Jungkook’s voice cracks. He curls up into himself. “Why did she leave me?” he finally asks. His voice is tiny. Heartbreaking.
Seokjin can’t hold himself back anymore. He reaches out and wraps his arms around Jungkook, tugging him into his chest. That seems to be the permission Jungkook needs – one hiccuping sob leaves him then more, tearing out of his chest. Seokjin hugs him close. Jungkook’s hands scramble at his chest, fisting into his night shirt. His nose presses into Seokjin’s neck, face wet.
Seokjin hums deep in his chest, rubbing circles over Jungkook’s back. Lets him cry into his neck. Lets him get all of his grief out. His confusion. His anger. Tears gather at the corner of his own eyes, but he doesn’t let them fall.
Eventually, Jungkook wears himself out. He lies limp against Seokjin. His legs are tangled with Seokjin’s beneath the blankets. Jungkook’s breath still stutters a little as it goes in, then out.
And then, just when Seokjin thinks Jungkook may have dropped into an exhausted sleep:
“Please don’t leave me too.”
Seokjin’s eyes slide shut. Clench tightly closed. Several tears drip down his face. He tucks his face further in.
“I wouldn’t,” he says, working with all of his strength to keep his voice even. “I promise. I won’t ever leave you. Neither will the kids.”
“Okay,” Jungkook whispers, voice just a thread of sound. “Okay.”
And then his breathing evens out against Seokjin’s neck.
It takes Seokjin hours to fall asleep again.
The full moon hums beneath his skin, but it’s not so bad in the early morning sunshine. Seokjin grabs a trolley and scans his list. He rips off the bottom half.
“Taehyung, Jungkook – this is your half. Jimin and I will take the rest.” The two boys grab it and run off to the produce section. They don’t even grab a basket. Seokjin sighs.
He starts off in the fridge section in front of all the meat, because he has a suspicion Jungkook’s already enormous appetite is going to be even bigger after the full moon tonight. Jimin floats along behind him, tapping on his phone and not really paying much attention to anyone. He and Taehyung had gone to a party last night and Seokjin suspects he’s a little hungover. He’d tried to scrub it off, but the sour smell of old alcohol still floats around him.
Seokjin peers down at the hotdogs, trying to find the biggest pack. He frowns and inches forwards—
His trolley bangs into someone.
He glances up, apology on his lips. It dies.
There’s an alpha in front of him, leaning against his trolley and smirking. His hair is shaggy and falling into his eyes, blond. He’s on the pale-side, face sculptured into all hard angles. His expression brims with arrogance.
He couldn’t be more different to Namjoon if he’d tried.
“Ni hao, lovely,” the alpha says, leaning close over the edge of the trolley and Seokjin immediately wants to spew everywhere. “This might be a long-shot, but I saw you and knew I had to try. You’re the hottest Asian I’ve ever seen. Can I get your number?”
Seokjin tries to muster up his usual enjoyment of humiliating alphas. Pictures exactly what he’s going to say, how he’s going to move to make the alpha drool over him and lose his mind, only for Seokjin to drop him like a bad habit.
But it just feels grey. Dull. He has a list of food to buy and he wants to prepare it all before they drive out of town to the Airbnb he’d booked for the night, purely for the sprawling farm it’s on. He doesn’t want to have to cook anything tomorrow when he’s exhausted from the full moon and driving back. The moon itself doesn’t help either, pulsing under his skin.
And the guy had said ni hao. Ni hao. As if Seokjin would fall at his feet because of his incredible grasp of the Chinese language. As if Seokjin could speak any language other than English.
Why do white guys always go straight to Chinese?
Seokjin narrows his eyes and sets his teeth.
“No,” he says, jerking his trolley out of the alpha’s grasp and striding past.
Seokjin whirls around and pokes him in the chest.
“No means no, alpha. Learn to listen when others speak instead of assuming you know everything. Now fuck off.”
He ends up in the cleaning section, none of the meat he’d wanted in his trolley. He sighs at the washing powder. Alphas. Racist, shithead alphas.
He glances back at Jimin. He looks uncharacteristically nervous, shifting on his feet.
“You… you really don’t like alphas.”
Seokjin doesn’t really think much of it when he snorts, saying, “What gave you that idea—” And then Yoongi’s words come back to him and he stops short.
He thought you hated him because he’s an alpha.
Dammit. He’s done it again. He takes a breath and turns to face Jimin fully. Jimin looks uncomfortable. He won’t meet Seokjin’s eyes. He’s turned to the bottles of carpet cleaner, peering at them as if he’s ever cleaned a carpet in his life.
“Jimin.” He waits for the teenager to nervously face him. “I don’t…” He huffs, carding a hand through his hair. “I don’t hate all alphas. You’re an alpha and I love you, and there’s not one part of you that I don’t love.”
Jimin frowns and mumbles, “Stop it,” but he still blushes.
“I’m just…” Obviously a supermarket isn’t the best place for this but if Seokjin keeps waiting for the right time, he’ll put it off forever. And he won’t have one of his pups feeling like shit when he could’ve made it better. “I’ve had a bad run with alphas. I can be pretty judgemental. Sometimes.”
Seokjin rolls his eyes. “Fine, a lot of the time. The point is, I’m prejudiced. I know that. But I’ve recently realised that I haven’t thought about how much it hurts those around me. And myself. So… I’m working on it. I just need to meet more alphas like you, my little Jiminnie.”
Jimin’s blush goes darker still, but he valiantly ignores it.
“What about Namjoon? He’s a good alpha.” Jimin’s chin raises.
Seokjin goes cold.
“This isn’t about Namjoon.”
“Isn’t it? He seemed… I liked him. Kookie did too, and Kookie doesn’t trust easily. He’s sad about his mum, but before that he was sad about Namjoon, too. He just won’t say anything because he trusts you.”
“And you don’t trust me?”
Jimin’s brows are drawn low.
“I do. But maybe not with this. You won’t even tell us what happened.”
“Because it doesn’t matter,” Seokjin snaps, trying to keep his cool. “He’s irrelevant.”
Jimin scoffs. “Okay, whatever. Fine. I’m going to meet some friends. Enjoy shopping.” He stalks off down the aisle.
Seokjin gapes after him for a moment. Just as Jimin is about to disappear around the corner, he yells, “We leave at 4pm! Don’t be late!”
Jimin doesn’t reply.
Seokjin stares after him, frustrated. He’s not even sure when he lost control of the situation. Probably Namjoon’s fault, as well. And teenagers can be so hormonal.
He sighs, grips the trolley and heads back to the meat section. Maybe he’ll have better luck this time.
Jungkook hasn’t been speaking much, but when the others shed their clothes and shift for the full moon, he follows. They run together as a full pack beneath the moon. Seokjin tips his head back and howls at the moon, and three others join him. There’s none of the lingering sadness from the past few days. None of the new tension. Instead, they’re in unison.
One that no alpha can take away. His pack.
The week passes in a pleasant haze. It always feels like this after a full moon, when they’ve had the chance to stretch their legs and run properly with the moon’s power at its height. Jimin acts like their fight never happened and Seokjin thinks its best to let it rest. For now. He does try to be less openly scornful of the alphas who show up to his door, but it’s hard when he thinks they’re literal garbage. He tries, at least. No one can fault him for that.
Taehyung makes a robot spider about the size of a hand and sets it loose in Seokjin’s workshop. The video of Seokjin’s resulting shriek and smashing of all glassware on the bench ends up on Taehyung’s social media. He won’t take it down or show Seokjin. And Seokjin has never been able to get social media to work past the sad Facebook page he has for his online store, so he has no chance of seeing it. He just gets to hear it, constantly, at every dinner time as the kids play it over and over.
He thinks Taehyung may have edited his voice to make it sound more shrill. He does not sound like that.
Jungkook is… Jungkook. Often, Seokjin will wake to find Jungkook sitting on the porch outside in the darkness. He never knows how long Jungkook has been sitting out there, face blank and eyes unblinking. Seokjin makes them chamomile tea and they sip it silently under the stairs until Jungkook’s eyelids are drooping. Then he tucks Jungkook into bed. They don’t talk about this. Jungkook doesn’t bring up his mother again and Seokjin doesn’t want to force it yet, so it sits like the elephant in the room.
Once, Jungkook comes back from dance class and Seokjin can smell a faint hint of alpha. Not just any alpha – one that makes his heart race. Namjoon.
“How was class?” he asks, eyes narrowed suspiciously at Jungkook. He glances at the time – it’s a bit later than he usually comes back after class, but not before the curfew Seokjin had set.
Jungkook’s chin juts out.
“See anyone fun?”
Jungkook’s eyes narrow but his face remains like stone.
“Just the usual.”
They stare at each for several long moments. Seokjin quickly realises he’s going to get nothing out of Jungkook. And what does he care, anyway? Namjoon is a dick, but he’s not dangerous. He would never hurt Jungkook. And Jungkook obviously still likes him, since he’d run to him when he’d been upset.
Seokjin’s heart pangs.
He turns back to the stove.
“Have a shower and set the table,” he says over his shoulder. He gets a grunt in reply.
“So,” Yoongi says as soon as he opens the door, “where’s that robot spider at? I wanna see you scream again.”
Seokjin stares at him. “What? How did you see the video? Did they send it to you?” His voice rises incredulously.
“What? No. It’s on Instagram.” He leans in close and wiggles his eyebrows. “Get with the times, old man.” Then he slides in past Seokjin to greet the kids.
Seokjin is left glaring after him. “You have my kids on Instagram?” But he’s talking to an empty space.
Family dinner goes the same as ever. In that, most of it is Yoongi and the kids ganging up on him. Taehyung brings out the spider while Seokjin is getting dessert and he almost flings the chocolate self-saucing pudding at the fucking thing when it pops up on his seat.
Jimin and Taehyung disappear upstairs afterwards to get ready for a party they’re going to. It makes Seokjin a little anxious to think of them surrounded by hormones and drugs and alcohol and stupid decisions, but he’s talked to Yoongi about this at length. He needs to chill. He trusts his kids. They’re smart. They’d also done worse when they were on the streets. Mainly, he trusts them to trust him – they’ll call him if they need help.
So they come down covered in glitter and tight pants Seokjin doesn’t remember buying and leave a sticky kiss on his cheek, and then it’s just him, Yoongi and Jungkook. Jungkook sits on the couch, sulky since he realised he’s not going to the party since he is a baby.
Seokjin plays cards with Yoongi, sipping from his big glass of red wine. They’ve gone through a bottle already. No one is allowed to judge him – he’s had a hard week. And his wolf metabolism will eat through it faster than he can blink.
Jungkook doesn’t last long before he sulks his way upstairs to play some computer game.
“It’s your turn,” Seokjin prompts when Yoongi takes a while. But Yoongi doesn’t move – he’s sat back in his chair, swirling his wine and scrutinising Seokjin with narrowed eyes.
“Oh fuck, not again.” Seokjin sighs, sitting up and pouting.
“What? I haven’t done anything.”
“You haven’t done anything yet. But I know that look.” He crosses his arms, glass dangling from two fingers next to his bent elbow. “This is going to be another motivational talk. ‘Talk to Namjoon. Stop letting your prejudices cloud your judgement. Get yourself some alpha dick’.”
One of Yoongi’s eyebrows raises delicately.
“I’ve never said anything about alpha dick.”
Seokjin takes a sulky sip of his drink.
“That feels untrue. Anyway, my heat is coming up.”
Yoongi’s eyes crinkle. “Ah. That adds up.”
“Exactly. So I don’t need you,” he points his wine glass at Yoongi, “giving me anymore speeches. I’m sick of them.”
“Good thing I don’t listen to you then, isn’t it?”
Seokjin groans, sinking back into the couch.
“Can’t we just sit in silence like normal? I like the silence. I miss it.”
“No. I gave you your silent time. Now it’s action time.”
Seokjin narrows his eyes.
“Fine. Let’s cut to the chase. You’re going to tell me how wonderful he is, how great he’d be for me and the kids. But I don’t want to be another fucking trophy omega for him to have in his pack. I’m not going to let him come in and take my kids. So you can all stop harassing me about it.”
Yoongi looks so sympathetic that Seokjin wants to hurl his glass at him.
“I wasn’t there for your fight, so I can’t say anything about it. But that’s never been the impression I’ve gotten from Namjoon. Or the impression I got from him when he brought Jungkook back last week. He cares about you and the kids. Deeply. I don’t think he wants you all as a prize. He’s not Benji.”
Seokjin’s hand tightens on the stem of his glass. He’d at least known this was coming, this time.
“You just said you weren’t there,” he says coldly. “So I’d appreciate if you kept your opinion to yourself.”
Yoongi sighs. “You should talk to him, Jin.”
“I don’t need to do anything, actually. My kids are happy and so am I.”
Seokjin’s breath catches. Yoongi continues.
“Are you really? You’re good at hiding your emotions, but your scent doesn’t lie, Seokjin.”
He grinds his teeth together.
“I don’t want to be part of his stupid pack. I shouldn’t have to.”
“Maybe he wants to be part of yours.”
Seokjin’s mad, but not so mad his heart doesn’t warm at the acknowledgment. His. His pack.
“I don’t trust him. Not with my pack.” He gets a shiver as he says the words.
Yoongi sighs and leans forward, eyes intense in that way that means that Seokjin isn’t going to like what’s going to come out of his mouth.
“I think you do trust him with your pack,” he says. Seokjin can’t look away from his stare. “I think it’s you you don’t trust.”
“That’s bullshit.” Seokjin scowls.
“Swear jar,” Yoongi says. Then he shuffles to the edge of his seat to look down at the card game, which means the interrogation is almost over. “I’m not going to fight with you about it. You’re stubborn and I know you work best through your problems alone, in your head. But I just want you to think about it. Is it really your pack you don’t trust him with?”
“That’s a stupid question,” Seokjin mumbles, taking a big gulp of his wine. It’s warm on the way down.
“And this is a stupid game. Let’s play Just Dance. I want to beat all your scores again.”
Relief sweeps through him. He can trust Yoongi to never harass him for long about something. He says what he wants, then he moves on. It’s good, especially in times like this when he doesn’t want to think about it. Not now, at least.
So he gets up and starts the game, play-fighting with Yoongi as they choose the song.
Later on that night, though – once the kids have returned from the party and Yoongi is in a taxi home, Jungkook threatened into bed so he’ll stop playing his computer games – Seokjin thinks.
Is it really your pack you don’t trust him with?
He doesn’t want to consider the answer. But he does.
Seokjin’s heat hits a few days later. With no one that he’s sexually attracted to around, he just ends up in an aching, miserable lump on the couch. Seokjin’s heats have never been that bad. He just gets a little territorial, a little more sulky than normal. It means he’s unable to work for the first two days, but his online store is more a hobby at this point. He doesn’t need the money.
However, alone in the house and aching for a warm body next to him, his mind turns to a certain alpha. It’s annoying, because he could have had that alpha dick to help him through it but instead, Namjoon ruined it all by bringing up courting. Seokjin had never even mentioned courting! He hadn’t even realised that was what Namjoon was trying to do. Perhaps he shouldn’t have accepted all those gifts… But it’s not like he’d realised they were courting gifts.
Despite instantly recognising it from all other alphas.
So maybe, deep down, he just hadn’t wanted to acknowledge it. Had wanted the attention of an alpha he admired.
He huffs and buries himself deeper into his blankets. He’s watching a Korean drama, but he just can’t get pulled in by the melodrama today. It’s probably making him feel worse, actually. He doesn’t need the sappiness to remind him that his own love life has been burnt to the ground. Scowling, he switches over to a documentary series about an omega serial killer.
That’s how the kids find him hours later when they bang into the house.
“Hey— oh.” Jimin comes to an abrupt halt in the entryway. Taehyung bumps into him. Jungkook slithers around the side, taking the stairs two at a time up to his room. “You’re in heat.”
“Yes,” Seokjin says miserably.
“And you smell like… sadness,” Taehyung says, nostrils flaring.
“Yeah,” he agrees again. “That sounds about right.” The documentary had certainly been more engrossing than the sickly-sweet love story of the kdrama, but now he’s just depressed things like this happen.
On the screen, crime scene photos flash across the screen before fading to a police lieutenant giving a serious piece-to-camera: “We can’t speculate why this omega only targeted other wolves of his sub-gender, but we do know that they are the most vulnerable su—”
“Nope,” Jimin says, popping the ‘p’. He jumps over and wrestles the remote from Seokjin. Seokjin whines and puts up a small fight, but Jimin’s annoyingly strong. He exits out of the documentary and plops onto the couch next to Seokjin. “Why would you watch that? You know what true crime does to you.”
Seokjin huddles deeper into his blankets. He feels like a scolded child.
“I like it,” he mumbles.
Taehyung disappears into the kitchen and Seokjin can hear him turning the kettle on.
“I don’t like how creepy you get when you watch them. Remember when you woke me up last month by standing in my room at midnight to make sure I hadn’t been kidnapped?” Jimin tuts to himself. “Now, lemme in.” He grabs Seokjin’s blanket, wriggling underneath so the side of his body is pressed up against Seokjin. The physical touch sends a wave of calm through him. “And when you’re in heat too? That’s just dumb. Jungkookie! We need you!”
The yell makes Seokjin flinch away. Loud noises are also hard to deal with in heat. Jimin looks unrepentant.
Jungkook’s heavy boots stomp down the stairs. “What.” He scowls at them with his hands on his hips. “Why do you smell weird.”
“Heat,” Seokjin mumbles.
“Come join us, Kookie,” Jimin coos, patting the seat beside him.
“This is stupid,” Jungkook says, but he comes over to Seokjin’s side. As he burrows under the blankets and up next to Seokjin, movements eager, he’s still mumbling: “I could be playing games, I’m so close to level 50, this is so dumb…”
“Let’s watch Cinderella Story,” Jimin announces.
“Not again,” Seokjin groans, ignoring Taehyung’s ‘yay!’ from the kitchen. “We watched it like two weeks ago.”
“One, you don’t have a say,” Jimin says. “And two, that means it’s time to watch it again. Everyone agrees with me.”
“I don’t agree…” Jungkook mumbles. He has shucked off his boots and curled right up next to Seokjin with his cold toes wiggling under his thigh.
Jimin’s head slowly turns to face him. “Excuse me?” he questions coldly.
Jungkook’s scowl darkens. “Nothing. I said nothing.”
Jimin’s face brightens scarily fast. “Great!”
Seokjin thinks he has created a monster.
“Tea is ready,” Taehyung calls, brow furrowed as he carefully walks over to hand them the mugs. “It’s super hot, be careful.”
“Ow,” Jungkook mumbles, spluttering after trying to take a sip right away. Jimin rolls his eyes. Taehyung comes back in with the final two mugs. Instead of settling on the couch on either side of Jimin or Jungkook, he lowers himself to the floor. He barely spills a drop of tea. Then he scoots back so he’s pressed against Seokjin’s legs.
“Ready!” he shouts happily.
Seokjin is pressed in on all sides by his pack. His whole body melts. Safe. Home. If he tears up a little, he blames it on his heat.
He has a whole range of mood-swings, but by the third day his heat has finally broken and he feels less like a hormonal teenager. Jimin and Taehyung had been a great help, as they always are, but Jungkook had been downright adorable. He’d whined a lot, but he was always first to help Seokjin with anything he needed or to just cuddle up with him. Seokjin loves it.
So it’s a little bittersweet when it breaks. He no longer has a reason to pull Jungkook close and make the baby omega snuggle with him, but he’s no longer an emotional wreck. He feels much more clear-headed and steady.
Up until he runs into Namjoon in the post office.
His arms are piled high with orders he needs to ship out, ones that accumulated while his heat lasted. He can barely see over the top of it. So when someone opens the door to him, he breezes past with a simple: “Thanks.”
And then freezes when he gets a whiff of the scent. He lowers the boxes in his arms. Namjoon is standing in front of him, holding the door.
“Oh,” he says dumbly. He blinks. Last time he’d seen Namjoon, he’d been frantic and emotional. Had had fear and jealousy raging through his body, arms full of Jungkook. Now, post-heat, he looks at Namjoon’s kind eyes, tanned skin, strong features, and feels… sad. Wary.
“Seokjin,” Namjoon says, voice deep. Then he freezes – his nostrils flare.
Seokjin’s heat still clings to his scent. Faint, but enough to have several alpha heads twisting to follow him as he passed. For a moment, Namjoon’s gaze darkens. A slight red haze falls over the brown irises. Seokjin’s in public, but he can feel his breath coming short. His hair stands on end. His heat is gone, but the remnants are still there. And it’s electrifying to be around an alpha you’re attracted to during a heat. Completely changes the experience.
But he’s wary. Alphas get territorial about it. And Namjoon had wanted to court him. Would he…?
But then Namjoon just smiles, nodding his head, face bright once more and dimples flashing. Unconcerned.
“It’s good to see you’re well. How is Jungkook?”
Seokjin’s eyes narrow. He has to tell himself he’s relieved Namjoon didn’t get all territorial. He wouldn’t want Namjoon to. He hates alphas like that. But.
Maybe it’d be nice.
“He’s fine,” he says instead. “But you’d know that.” His head tilts to the side. “I’m aware that he still talks to you.”
“He visits the university, sometimes.” Namjoon hesitates. “I can ask him to stop. If you’d like.”
Irritation flares up. Namjoon isn’t meant to be nice like this. He’s meant to petty. Mean. Alpha-like.
But instead, Seokjin is being the petty one. Dammit.
“No, it’s fine,” he says, annoyed that Namjoon isn’t giving him anything to be annoyed about. “As long as you’re not getting ideas.” He raises his eyebrows significantly.
Namjoon’s head jerks back a little and he blinks.
“I don’t— I wouldn’t— Jungkook’s not part of my pack. I know that. I wouldn’t ever presume that.”
“Mmm, I’m sure.” Seokjin looks him up and down while Namjoon shifts. “It was… interesting seeing you. Bye.”
And he strides off. He can feel Namjoon’s eyes on him as he approaches the counter and congratulates himself on getting the last word.
It feels hollow.
Seokjin taps his foot, impatiently waiting for Jungkook’s dance class to be over. The perky receptionist keeps glancing at him with strained cheer. He’d tried to create conversation, but Seokjin’s answers had been clipped and short. Seokjin knows he’s annoying the other people waiting, but he doesn’t really care. His head is on a swivel, searching for Namjoon.
He doesn’t think he’s here. He hasn’t smelt him. But he was here last time and Seokjin remembers that. His smell also isn’t great at the best of times and it’s worse in a crowded place like this, with sweat adding another masking layer.
Not that he cares. He’s not looking for Namjoon. He doesn’t even want to see him.
Finally, the music in Jungkook’s room cuts out and people begin spilling out of it. Jungkook comes last, walking beside Hoseok and listening to him with a tiny concentration frown on his face. It’s adorable.
Jungkook stops short when he catches sight of Seokjin.
“What are you doing here?” he asks.
“Picking you up. Like the great person I am.” Seokjin waggles his keys at him. “You’re welcome.”
“You never pick me up anymore.”
“Whaaaaat?” Seokjin says loudly. “Sure I do.”
Jungkook’s eyes narrow suspiciously.
“No, you don’t. You’re here for a reason.”
“The reason is because I love my baby omega so much and want him to get home safe. Is that such a bad thing? You’re coming across very ungrateful, Jungkookie.”
The other two studios are empty now too, all the students gone. Namjoon wasn’t teaching. Seokjin deflates a little. He hadn’t been trying to see him anyway. He’d just wanted to do a good deed for Jungkook.
“This is stupid,” Jungkook mumbles, but his cheeks are tinged red. The best way to shut him up, Seokjin has realised, is to overtly show his love. Jungkook can never handle it.
“Seokjin,” Hoseok says, nodding his head. Seokjin blinks – his voice is cold. Hard. He doesn’t think he’s ever heard it like that to anyone. Hoseok’s face is blank, eyes maybe a little narrowed when he looks at Seokjin. Then he turns to Jungkook and claps a hand to his shoulder, face softening. “Good work today, Kookie. Just practice the footwork on that second count of eight and you’ll get the rest downpat.”
He shoots another cold look at Seokjin before disappearing into one of the studios. Seokjin blinks after him.
“Is it just me, or does he hate me now?” Seokjin asks.
Jungkook sighs loudly, walking past him. Seokjin trails along behind.
“Looks like he hates you.”
“What? Why?” Seokjin is affronted. Jungkook lets the door shut in Seokjin’s face on the way out, making Seokjin huff and jog to catch up. “How could anyone hate me? I’m great.”
“Why do you think?” Jungkook tries the car door, but it’s locked. “Can you unlock the door?”
“What do you mean? Because of Namjoon?”
“Duh. Now, the door?”
Seokjin stares into the distance. “But it’s not my fault.”
“It’s pretty much all your fault,” Jungkook snaps. “Ugh, whatever, I’ll get the bus home.”
“No, no! See, unlocking the car now. Nothing’s wrong. All is well.” The door clicks open and Jungkook immediately throws himself inside.
Seokjin is slower to come around to the driver’s side. Perhaps he’d been lying a bit. Perhaps it maybe was his fault. Somewhat.
Seokjin’s done a lot of soul-searching recently. Thought more about Benji than he’s ever wanted to, especially since that asshole is in prison and it’s all so far behind him. Thought a lot about Namjoon and his constant, un-asshole-alpha-like reactions to things. His kind smile. Those fucking dimples.
He’s not saying Hoseok’s crankiness is justified but also… maybe it’s not entirely unjustified.
Seokjin climbs up the final steps and looks around. He’s fairly sure this is where he’d been last time—
His eyes lock onto the alpha in the hallway and he immediately wants to go back down the stairs.
Soyeon’s eyes are lit up, mischievous smile on her face. She gives him a slow up-down, smile growing and growing. She’s carrying a bunch of papers on top of a laptop, hugging it all to her chest.
Seokjin pastes a confused smile on his face.
“Sorry, have we met?”
She lets out a full-bodied laugh, head flying back.
“Ooh, I like you so much, omega! What are you doing right now? Have time to squeeze in a drink?”
Seokjin rolls his eyes, moving past her.
Unfortunately, she spins to follow him.
“That’s fine, it just adds to your charm. I do love the unattainable. And you seem quite set on that alpha.”
Seokjin gives her a sharp look, but doesn’t comment on it. He pauses outside one office door, frowning. Why don’t they have any names on them? Isn’t that meant to be a professor thing? They have names in the movies.
He wracks his brain and tries to remember, but he can’t think of the office number. It’d been written down last time.
“Is this the right one?” he finally asks.
“Depends what you’re looking for,” she purrs.
“Ha!” she crows. “I knew you remembered me! And even my name, oooh. Are you sure you don’t want to hook up?”
A head pokes into the corridor, eyes wide with shock. It’s Namjoon, a few doorways down. Seokjin had been very wrong.
Namjoon glances at Soyeon and frowns a little, then glances back to Seokjin.
“Thank god,” he mutters, striding over. “Why are there no names on the doors?”
“I’ll talk to you later, darling!” Soyeon calls out. Her cackles follow Seokjin into the office as he strides in – Namjoon backing up quickly – then slams the door shut.
Namjoon’s eyes dart between him and the door.
“Oh, did I… interrupt?”
“What? No. She’s a nightmare.”
Namjoon still looks a little uneasy.
“It’s fine, you know. If you are here to see her. I have no claim over you and I’d never begrudge—”
“What?” Seokjin snaps again. “No! Why can’t you— Ugh. No, I’m here to talk to you.”
“Oh,” he says softly, and it makes Seokjin’s heart melt before he can stop it. Namjoon looks so lost in front of him, eyes wide and searching. Seokjin just doesn’t get it – he’s never met a person like Namjoon. He’s just… soft. Soft and warm and safe, the same as his scent, and it’s getting into his head. Yet at the same time, just seeing the alpha puts him on-edge. Hurt and fear mix together in his chest, making it harder to breathe.
And perhaps… perhaps he doesn’t really understand why he’d be interested in Seokjin in the first place. Seokjin knows he looks good. Knows his scent is particularly alluring to alphas. Knows his kids are incredible. But Namjoon doesn’t seem like one to be taken in by a pretty face and that’s where his soul-searching has come to a halt. Without his kids in the equation, why would Namjoon want Seokjin?
He folds his arms, as if that would help keep himself together.
Namjoon leans against his desk. His eyes turn wary.
“What would you like to talk about?” he asks, voice careful.
Seokjin narrows his eyes. “Why did you even want to date me?”
Namjoon’s face goes blank. “That’s… not what I expected you to ask.”
Seokjin huffs. He feels antsy, like he’s all electric on the inside. He paces the tiny office. Namjoon sits up a little straighter against the desk.
“Well?” he asks. “Answer me.”
Namjoon’s head tilts to the side. He tracks Seokjin with his eyes as he strides across the tiny office.
“I like you,” Namjoon says simply.
Seokjin makes a cranky sound. “Okay, why?”
“It’s a hundred different things,” Namjoon says. “I like how you are with your kids. I like how protective you are of the ones you love. I like your confidence in putting anyone in their place. I like that no matter what you do, you think of your kids first. I like how strong you are, but how soft you are when you think no one’s looking. I like—”
“That’s enough!” Seokjin isn’t blushing. He’s not. “I didn’t ask for a poem. What the hell.” He pauses to get his face back under control. “So that’s why you wanted to court me? Because of… all that?”
“Of course.” Namjoon shifts, palms coming back to rest on the desk. “I thought I made that clear.”
“But it’s nice that I’m an omega, right? With my own pups. Lost, stranded, waiting for an alpha.”
Namjoon looks unimpressed. He gives him a very dry look. “You know, I didn’t like you much at first.”
Seokjin scoffs. “What? As if. I know when an alpha wants to fuck me.”
“I thought you were beautiful, yes,” Namjoon says, even though that’s not what Seokjin had said. And now his face is heating up again. “But I also thought you were high-strung and perhaps a little cruel.”
“And now?” Seokjin stops pacing, turning to face him with his hands on his hips. “I’m not saying I’m high-strung but I’m also not… not high-strung.”
Namjoon smiles and his eyes crinkle up.
“You’re just Seokjin,” he says softly. Seokjin’s breath comes short. “I saw you with your kids. Properly. And then I had the full picture.”
Seokjin runs his hand through his hair, then pauses.
“So you’re saying you didn’t like me until you met my kids.”
Namjoon is still for just a moment before he pushes upright. His long legs take two steps across the room and he’s in front of Seokjin.
“Jin,” he says softly. His hands come up as if he’s going to touch Seokjin, then drop. Seokjin feels the loss keenly. The gap between them feels huge. “I don’t think of you like an object. I don’t think of your kids as just potential additions to my pack. There’s no ulterior motive here. I just want to court you. I want to learn more about you and yes, I want to learn more about your kids, too, because they’re part of who you are. But I don’t expect you to join my pack.”
“Ever?” Seokjin’s voice is incredulous.
“Probably not ever. I would love if, one day, you felt comfortable enough with a pack to join mine. But that’s up to you, not me.”
Seokjin’s brain flies – picking apart everything Namjoon has said, turning it over and gleaning every meaning possible. Searching for the similarities to Benji.
“I don’t trust alphas,” Seokjin says abruptly.
“I’ve realised.” Namjoon’s eyes are like burnt caramel, deep and soft.
“Are you going to ask me why?”
Namjoon shrugs. “That’s up to you. I know you’ve been hurt in the past. You can tell me about it when you feel comfortable.”
Seokjin’s mouth drops open. He quickly clears his throat and shuffles on his feet. He feels tense, uneasy, but… that’s just his reaction to anything emotional. Namjoon feels sincere. He thinks… he thinks maybe he does trust him. With himself, at least. He might need a bit longer to get used to being comfortable with him around his pups.
“Okay. So. What now.”
Namjoon blinks at him. “What now what?”
Seokjin huffs in frustration. “What do we do now? I don’t know how courting works.”
Namjoon’s mouth drops open. Seokjin feels happy he’s made him so stunned. One of his many side-effects on others.
“Is that what we’re doing? Courting?”
Seokjin’s arms fold tight against his chest. It’s like a barrier. Namjoon is still so close.
Namjoon’s hands come again but this time he doesn’t hesitate. He holds Seokjin’s wrists in a feather-light grip and unfolds his arms, then links their fingers together between them. Seokjin blinks down at them.
“Seokjin,” Namjoon says softly, laughter evident in his tone, “I can’t read your mind. I don’t even understand what’s going on in there, most of the time. You’re going to have to use your words a little more.”
Seokjin’s brow furrows.
“So you don’t want to court?”
Namjoon squeezes his hands.
“I never said that.” His voice is gently chiding. “I want us to start out on the right foot, with no assumptions about what the other is feeling. That’s how we got into trouble last time.”
Seokjin’s fingers twitch.
“Fine. You might have a point. I don’t…” He huffs. He doesn’t really want to say this, but Namjoon is in front of him holding his hands all earnest and open, so he should. “I don’t fully trust you yet. With… everything. Just so you know.” He eyes Namjoon warily.
But Namjoon just smiles.
“I wouldn’t expect you to. And I’m happy to wait.”
Seokjin wants to sink into Namjoon and never leave. Wants to wrap himself around him and never let go. Namjoon’s affections aren’t an overwhelming force like he’d expected – it’s more like a soft whisper, the flutter of a butterfly’s wings against skin. But completely immersive. A gentle counterpoint to the chaos of Seokjin’s normal thoughts.
“Can I scent you?” Seokjin breathes.
Namjoon doesn’t answer aloud – one hand runs up his arm, his shoulder, to the back of his neck and tugs him in. Seokjin goes eagerly, tilting his head so he noses along Namjoon’s neck. This is where his scent is the strongest. It fills Seokjin up, makes his head go a little dizzy. He wraps his arms around Namjoon, feels him doing the same. Feels him nosing down Seokjin’s own neck until his forehead rests against his shoulder.
Seokjin’s head slowly raises, blinking. It feels like he’s drunk.
“I want to…” He trails off, lets his actions speak instead. One hand grips into Namjoon’s hair, tugging his head up, and then they’re kissing. Namjoon’s lips are warm and dry against his before they part, and Seokjin angles his head to deepen the kiss. Seokjin kisses like he wants to live inside Namjoon, whereas Namjoon is slow, patient. His hands graze his jaw, tilting him in a certain way, thumbs running soothing circles over his throat. He’s slow to Seokjin’s fast, making him take his time.
Seokjin presses closer, running his hand up Namjoon’s strong back muscles. He ends up pushing Namjoon a few steps back until they’re against the desk. He can feel when Namjoon’s butt hits it, then when he hops up to sit on the edge. His legs wrap around his waist, drawing him in, and Seokjin’s mouth goes lax. His hands drop down to grip Namjoon’s hips. He can feel himself slicking up between his legs.
Namjoon’s hands drop from his jaw, going to his shoulders and gripping. Seokjin lets out a tiny whine at the feeling. Then Namjoon is pushing him back, chuckling.
Seokjin’s eyelids flutter. His lips feel wet, a little puffy. He can taste Namjoon in his mouth.
“What?” He pouts. “Why?”
Namjoon’s eyes crinkle fondly. “We’re in my office.” He leans back on his hands. “And the door isn’t locked.”
“I can lock the door.” Seokjin eagerly moves away, but Namjoon’s legs snake around and pin him in place.
“Not my point.”
Seokjin’s pout deepens. “Why not?” he whines. “Office sex sounds so hot.” Namjoon’s eyes darken and Seokjin presses his advantage, leaning in and dropping his voice. “Whenever you’re here, you’ll think about how good I look when I come with your name on my lips and—”
Namjoon’s hand shoots out, covering his mouth. “Stop it.”
Seokjin’s tongue darts out, licking his hand for a split-second before Namjoon snatches it away.
“Gross,” he says, wiping it on his pants.
Seokjin’s eyebrows arch. “You won’t be saying that when it’s your dick in my mouth.”
Amazingly, incredibly, Namjoon’s cheeks go a little red. Seokjin wants.
“Not quite my point either, though I really don’t want my office stinking of sex or to be listening out for someone approaching for our first time. I want… I want to take this slow. I want our foundation to be about more than just sex. I want to prove to both of us that this isn’t just fucking. I’m serious about what’s between us, Jin. I really hope you are too.”
Seokjin’s eyes scan Namjoon’s face, but he seems completely open. Finally he lets out a long breath, face screwing up. He steps back.
“Fine.” He watches as Namjoon slides off the desk, straightening out his clothes a little. He’d been so close to getting his hands on some serious skin. “You’re lucky you’re smart and make some valid points.” He pauses. “So just to confirm – we are courting now?”
Namjoon snorts out a laugh.
“Yes, Seokjin. We’re courting.”
Seokjin’s head nods dumbly as he backs up towards the door.
“Cool. Great. Good. Guess I’m gonna go home and get myself off before the kids come home.” He spins to open the door, then pauses. Looks over his shoulder. “So… tomorrow? Lunch?”
“Sounds good,” Namjoon says softly. “I have a break at one.”
“Okay. Cool.” He stays paused, hand on the doorknob. Namjoon looks steadily back at him, maybe a little confused. “Fuck it,” he mumbles, striding back across the room and throwing himself at Namjoon. Namjoon makes a surprised sound, then kisses him back. It’s just as good as the first time. Better, maybe, as they gain more familiarity.
“Okay,” Seokjin says again when they’ve broken away. “Yep. Done.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” Namjoon’s eyes are half-lidded and Seokjin doesn’t know how he expects him to walk away when he looks like that.
“Tomorrow,” Seokjin repeats.
Namjoon’s eyes disappear as he chuckles.
“You have to actually leave if we’re to meet again.”
“Good point.” But Seokjin darts in to press one more kiss to the corner of his lips. Just before he steps back, he rubs his wrist a little against Namjoon’s scent gland to make sure he’s covered in Seokjin’s scent. “Okay.”
“Okay,” Namjoon repeats, soft as a whisper.
Seokjin opens his mouth but he knows if he keeps talking, he’ll never leave. So he presses his lips closed and beelines to the door. His last glance over his shoulder is of Namjoon, lips a little swollen, clothes a little rumpled, leaning against the desk and smiling.
His heart thumps.
The thing about being courted by Namjoon is… it’s hard. It’s really fucking hard to deal with. He has to resort to drastic measures, like dragging Yoongi into a meeting room at his office and yelling for ten minutes straight.
“—and his hands, Yoongi! His hands! How the fuck did I get horny just from watching him write? Who even writes with a pen nowadays? It’s so pretentious. But he has all these veins and it made me—”
Yoongi stands up, slamming his hands on the table.
“Seokjin, I have work to do. I also don’t care about your hand fetish. Text me or leave me a voice message. That way I can ignore it easier.”
“It’s not a fetish,” Seokjin says hotly, then pauses. “Although, it might be a kink. I hadn’t thought of that.” He thinks of Namjoon’s hands and bites his lip. His scent spikes. Yoongi’s spine goes ramrod straight.
“No, this is not happening.” He comes around to Seokjin’s side of the table and jerks him up, marching him to the door. “Get out of my office. I’m glad you’ve sorted yourself out, but I don’t want to hear anymore about it.”
“But Yoongi,” Seokjin whines, trying to dig his heels in. Yoongi has a lot of strength for someone so tiny. “I don’t have any other friends! Who else will listen to me?”
“That’s your problem, not mine.” He throws open the door and pushes Seokjin out. Then stabs him in the chest with his bony finger. “Now, get out of my office. And stay out.” With that, he spins and stalks back to his cubicle.
Seokjin can’t help it. He finds almost everything Namjoon does sexy. The worst are the ones that are completely mundane, like writing with a pen or reading a book with those stupid glasses. Seokjin knows he’s getting in deep, but… he’s going to let himself go. Just this once.
They take turns coming up with date ideas. Namjoon’s are always super chill. They spend an afternoon in a record store. Has Seokjin ever cared about records before? No. But Namjoon’s enthusiasm is infectious and he loves hearing how excited he gets as he explains the meaning behind certain songs. Even better is the blissed out expression he gets when the song hits a certain part and his mind seems like its catapulted from his body.
They watch a foreign coming-of-age film curled up in Seokjin’s living room, feet nudging at each other, about a girl in Iran. Seokjin had laughed when Namjoon had suggested an animated film, then had quickly become so engrossed he’d forgotten entirely about the popcorn in his lap.
They grab coffee between Namjoon’s classes and walk the long way back to his office, so Namjoon can get a proper break from his latest submission to some academic journal.
The dates Namjoon organises are always peaceful and sweet.
Seokjin’s? Less so.
The first date he sets up is at his favourite arcade. The one that has the bumper cars. They spend at least an hour looping the rink, with Seokjin cackling maniacally as he rams his car into Namjoon’s, and Namjoon getting stuck in reverse every few minutes. He’s tragically bad at it and doesn’t improve at all, which makes Seokjin feel a little bad by the end. Enough that he lets Namjoon chose the next game. When he decimates Namjoon at that, he feels no guilt – Namjoon had chosen it, after all.
The second is mini golf. The third is an escape room.
Seokjin is a lot more competitive than Namjoon, as it turns out. Namjoon takes it all in stride, never caring too much as he comes last each time.
And perhaps Seokjin is still testing him out. Just a little. Just to see if Namjoon will ever react with that alpha violence he knows so well.
Namjoon never does.
The first date they take the kids along with them is to the local fair. Seokjin had spoken to them all previously about this. Jimin had squealed, Taehyung had danced around the room and Jungkook had frowned.
“Does this mean he can be my tutor again?”
Which – not yet. Seokjin doesn’t want to mix their lives together again like that until he feels more secure in their relationship. Jimin had run upstairs and that night, they’d ceremoniously burnt the poster of all the potential alpha matches for Seokjin, and scattered the ashes to the breeze. A bit dramatic, but Seokjin lives for drama.
The kids race onto one ride after another. After a while – and a lot of fairy-floss – Seokjin lags behind with Namjoon and watches them. They hold hands, which is lame and sticky, but makes his cheeks go red.
They watch the kids on the pirate ship ride that goes upside-down. Jimin’s scream is shrill enough to be distinct above all the others. Seokjin shades his eyes against the sun. Namjoon is a warm presence next to him, tied to him with their hands.
It bubbles out of him before he can stop it.
“I probably can’t have biological kids,” he says.
He can feel Namjoon freeze beside him. He pointedly doesn’t look.
He continues before Namjoon has the chance to say anything.
“I’m not— I’m not sad about it anymore. Not all the time. I have my kids and there’s more kids out there that need someone to give them a home. I’m no less of an omega because of it. Family isn’t always biological. Yoongi taught me that.”
He swallows and keeps his eyes fixed on the pirate ship as it swings one way like a pendulum, then the other. His words are more certain than how he feels. It’s how he wants to feel. How he feels most of the time. But not all the time. That’s the way trauma works, though – it doesn’t go away. You just get stronger.
Namjoon still hasn’t spoken, but Seokjin doesn’t need him to do. Perhaps he senses that Seokjin only needs his silent support.
“My ex knocked me up and pushed me down a flight of stairs. I had a miscarriage. That’s why I can’t conceive.”
Namjoon’s hand goes tight. Seokjin’s head jerks over to him. His eyes are blood-red, full alpha. Then he blinks and it’s back to his normal brown.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to—” Namjoon gestures at his eyes, face distressed.
Seokjin squeezes his hand. “That’s the first time I’ve seen you go full territorial alpha.”
Namjoon huffs, small smile on his face. “It does happen, you know. I don’t like being ruled by my instincts, but it’s harder when someone I care about has been hurt.”
Seokjin breathes a little easier. He shifts so he’s facing Namjoon. His free hand comes up, pushing back a little of Namjoon’s hair fondly.
“It was a long time ago.”
Namjoon catches his hand and presses a kiss to Seokjin’s knuckles. His breath catches.
“Maybe,” he says, eyes tender, “but it’s still painful now and that’s okay. It’s important to acknowledge. Thank you for telling me this. I know it wasn’t easy.”
Seokjin swallows against the sudden lump in his throat. He’s annoyed. He was doing just fine until Namjoon had validated him like that. And now he has tears gathering in his eyes except he’s in public and at a fair, of all places, and he shouldn’t be feeling like this. He’d wanted to just get it off his chest to give Namjoon fair warning of his shortcomings, and he’d responded like this.
He jerks his hand out of Namjoon’s grasp, using it to punch his shoulder.
“You asshole,” he mumbles, ignoring Namjoon’s surprised laugh. He swipes all evidence of weakness from his eyes. “Don’t do that.”
“Do what?” Namjoon grabs Seokjin’s hand and uses it to draw him in so they’re pressed close, arms looping over his shoulders. “The bare minimum in a relationship? You don’t need to thank me for accepting all parts of you, even the painful ones.”
“I never thanked you.”
“You didn’t have to.” The smile slowly leaves his face, turning serious once more. “Seokjin. You’re one of the strongest people I know. I’m so thankful I can get to know you. All of you. I want you to have a safe space with me.”
His eyes are watery again.
“You’re so lame,” he breathes.
“Maybe,” Namjoon says with a smile. “Probably. But I’m not going to stop unless you tell me to.”
“So lame. You asshole.”
“You like it.” Namjoon closes the space so there’s only a breath between their lips. “You haven’t told me to stop.”
“Maybe we’re both idiots, then.” He presses a kiss against his lips, then breathes, “I love you.”
“The kids are done!” Seokjin yells, drawing back quickly. He takes off at a run, dragging Namjoon along behind him. “Can’t let them get lost!”
“They’re teenagers,” Namjoon says, but his voice is dazed. Seokjin smirks. He likes being the non-blindsided one, for once. If Namjoon hadn’t known this before, he knows it now – platonically or otherwise, when Seokjin lets himself love someone, he goes all in.
They don’t get another moment alone for the rest of the day. Namjoon’s gaze stays on him the whole time, hot as the sun. He feels it as they move onto the arcade games, as Seokjin plays that stupid game with the moving clown heads that’s his favourite. Jungkook wins big, as per usual, and presents Seokjin with a giant Kirby. He can barely meet Namjoon’s eyes. He feels embarrassed. Shy. He hates emotions. His own emotions, at least. He loves getting the kids to show emotions. But his own? No thanks.
He doesn’t regret telling Namjoon and doesn’t need him to say it back. Beneath all of that surface-level embarrassment, he’s happy. Namjoon knows, now.
It’s not until they get to the car at the end of the day and the kids and Kirby all pile into the back that Namjoon traps him against the door.
“You love me,” he whispers.
“Don’t let it get to your head,” he mumbles. “I can still beat you at any game in both—”
“I love you too,” he says, cradling Seokjin’s head and smiling into his eyes.
“Oh,” Seokjin says dumbly.
“Oh,” Namjoon agrees.
“You didn’t have to say it just because I did.”
“Do you really think that’s something I’d do?”
“Oh,” Seokjin says again.
“Oh,” Namjoon repeats, slow grin spreading across his face. Hello dimples.
A fist hammers against the window next to them.
“Hey! Hurry up, I’m tired!” It’s Jungkook’s voice, muffled and cranky. Namjoon steps away, letting Seokjin turn in time to see Jungkook being shushed by Jimin. Taehyung looks like he’s filming it all on his phone.
“We don’t run on your time, pup,” he says, pointing a finger at Jungkook. Jungkook scowls, crossing his arms as much as he can with the Kirby in front of him.
“I’m tired,” he repeats.
Seokjin turns back to Namjoon and his heart goes a little funny.
He forces the feeling away.
“I said it first so I win. Ha!”
Namjoon is still standing there with a confused look on his face by the time Seokjin has buckled himself in. He turns on the car, puts down the window.
“The little prince is tired, Joon. Get in before he starts sulking any louder.”
“I am not sulking.”
His pout gets even stronger.
The first time Seokjin goes to Namjoon’s house, he is defensive. Guarded. It had taken him a while to realise Namjoon lived in a pack house. His pack is pretty relaxed, so he’d assumed he’d… well, okay, he hadn’t really thought about it. Maybe he thought he lived out of his office and only emerged to harass Seokjin.
But no – on the edge of the pack lands, he lives in a beautiful, sprawling timber house. There’s another, smaller house behind it. Namjoon looks uncomfortable as they get out of the car and Seokjin’s mouth drops.
“What— you live here? Why are we always over at mine?”
“Well, Joowon let me move in so I wouldn’t quite call it m—”
The door slams open.
“I smell freshly plucked omega!” Soyeon grins toothily at him, hands on her hips. She’s in tracksuit pants and an oversized shirt, but still just as intimidating as she’d been in her heels.
“Soyeon,” Namjoon sighs. “Didn’t I tell you to behave yourself? Where’s Hoseok?”
Soyeon sniffs, nose in the air. “I don’t need a babysitter. Don’t be offensive. Besides, he got distracted by a phone call from his boyfriend.” She makes a face at this.
Namjoon sighs. “Please try and be a little more normal.”
“Okay, one, he’s already met me in all my glory. Two, he should know what he’s getting into. Three, if he can’t handle little old me, then does he really belong here?”
Seokjin narrows his eyes, folding his arms.
“Are you still out here for a reason?”
“What, I can’t give my alpha’s new hot boy toy a warm welcome? Do they teach you manners when you’re packless?”
Seokjin’s stare flattens. “Do they teach you manners when you’re in a pack?”
She throws her head back, cackling.
“Touché! Fine, I’ll leave you alone. For now.” She disappears back inside. Namjoon winces as he faces Seokjin.
“Sorry. She’s just… Soyeon.”
“I like her,” Seokjin says, smiling at the empty doorway.
Namjoon jerks a little. “What?”
“Well, now I know there’s nothing between you two, I’m pretty into her. I’ve always liked women who terrify me a little.”
Namjoon stares at him, then shakes his head.
“You’re… huh. You have an interesting view. C’mon, I’ll give you a tour.”
It turns out there’s seven people living in Namjoon’s house with him, mostly full-time: Hoseok, Soyeon, a mated couple who give him the same terrifying female vibes as Soyeon, a waif-like boy called Taeseob, and the old pack alpha Yang Joowon and his mate. Unsurprisingly, Namjoon’s pack has the greatest number of wolves from Korean descent in the state. Maybe even the country. It’s why the old pack alpha had really tried to get Seokjin into his pack when he’d first moved into the area. Seokjin was younger, freshly escaped from Benji and a lot more brutal towards the old alpha than he was to Namjoon.
Joowon chuckles when he sees Seokjin.
“I didn’t believe it when Namjoon said he was courting you. I’d given up all hope of you ever joining a pack.”
“I haven’t join any pack,” Seokjin replies. He slides a glance at Namjoon. “Yet.”
Well,” Joowon says, “at least now I’ll no longer have to deal with regular complaints about you.”
“No, from every alpha in the pack who’s tried going after you.”
Seokjin smiles primly, turning warm when Namjoon’s arm settles over his shoulder and squeeze tight.
“They deserved it,” Seokjin says. “It could make future gatherings quite awkward, though.”
“I wouldn’t say that. These wolves respect Namjoon too much for that.”
Namjoon makes a sound of protest.
“Not as much as you—”
“Eh, stop it.” Joowon flaps a hand. “You’ve earned your place here. Your style is different to mine and they respect you all the more for it. Just like they’ll respect your choice of omega.”
Namjoon goes a little stiff and bows his head, then withdraws. The kitchen is empty, just filled with the scent of the roast Namjoon had put on earlier.
“I’m sorry about that,” he says with a sigh. “He can get very traditional. I don’t like how he ignored all of your own agency and just—”
“—just assumed I picked you and you were happy to go along with anything I say because I’m an alpha? Which isn’t how anyone should build a functional relationshi—”
“Namjoon,” Seokjin says firmly, stepping in close and cupping Namjoon’s face. “I get it. It’s okay – I don’t need you to fight every time someone says something like that. I’m used to it. All I need is your support. Okay?”
Namjoon’s eyebrows tilt unhappily.
“I know you can handle yourself, but I don’t want to sit silently when someone treats you like that.”
“I can handle Joowon. He was around long before you, remember? He’s a traditional old fart and I’ve had my fun messing with him, but… he’s not the worst alpha. I think it’s admirable you’re willing to share the same space as the old pack alpha. I’m surprised your ego can handle it.”
Namjoon snorts. “That’s because my ego is non-existent.”
Seokjin smiles. “I know. One of your contradictions. You have all this natural dominance but you never use it. You just listen.”
Namjoon’s cheeks flush.
“A product of overthinking, more than anything el—”
“Shh.” Seokjin leans in, pressing the words against Namjoon’s lips. “If you keep being so humble I’ll get hard in your pack kitchen.”
Namjoon is surprised into a startled laugh.
“What, really? That’s what gets you?”
“Mhm,” Seokjin says, trailing his nose down to the junction of Namjoon’s neck and shoulder, breathing in deeply. “And your scent.” One hand travels down to interlace their fingers. “And your hands. You know I got turned on watching you grade a paper, yesterday?”
Namjoon sucks in a breath.
His other hand dips into where Namjoon’s dimples would be if he were smiling. “And these. These got me first, probably.” He taps his finger against his cheek.
“My dimples? Really?”
“Yes.” Seokjin kisses his way back up Namjoon’s neck. “Your stupid—” kiss “—annoying—” kiss “—dimples.” Then he reaches Namjoon’s mouth. His lips are already parted, allowing Seokjin to sweep right in. Kissing Namjoon now feels as familiar as breathing. So does the simmer in his gut, the need to press in close and feel him properly. With no clothes between them. Find out what Namjoon sounds like when he comes.
Namjoon always pulls away, just as he does now.
“This honourable bullshit, though? I don’t find it hot at all.”
Namjoon chuckles. “Yes, you do.”
“No, I don’t,” he sulks, stepping back. “This is bullshit.”
“Swear jar,” Namjoon tutts, tapping him on the nose. Seokjin wrinkles his nose, crossing his arms and trying to calm his racing pulse.
“Whew! It stinks in here!”
It’s Soyeon, head stunk around the door and grinning.
“Don’t stop on my account though. Just act like I’m not here!”
“If only I could,” Seokjin says, glaring at Namjoon. Namjoon is over at the oven, peering in at the roast.
“Soyeon, did you set the table? We’re almost ready.”
Both Soyeon and Seokjin sigh at the same time.
So Seokjin is feeling somewhat… sex-starved. Not that he’d been having a lot of sex before, but he hadn’t had a hot alpha dangling in front of him then, had he? He even gets desperate enough to start sending Namjoon photos. Not full nudes, because he doesn’t want to give Namjoon a heart attack, but almost there. He sends one when he’s just woken up, eyes hooded and sleepy, lips pouting. He sends one after he’s flushed from his pilates workout. His favourite one is after a shower, where his hair is slicked back and water droplets decorate his shoulders.
The most he gets back is: Very beautiful!
Yes, he knows he’s beautiful. But it’s been several weeks and he wants his boyfriend to fuck him.
He’s beginning to feel a little unwanted. And Seokjin doesn’t act too rationally when he feels unwanted.
The lock clicks when Seokjin lets himself into Namjoon’s office. Namjoon glances up, eyes wide and surprised.
“Seokjin? I didn’t realise you were coming in.” A smile spreads across his face as he pushes away from his desk. “Wait, what are you—”
Seokjin pushes Namjoon’s chair back even further, straddling him. Namjoon’s eyes go wide. His hands fly up in the air like he’s not sure what to do with them.
He bends down so they’re eye-level, scowling.
“Are you attracted to me?”
“What— What kind of question is that?”
“One that you need to answer,” Seokjin snarls.
“Yes! Of course I am. Seokjin, you— I’m sorry for what I did to make you doubt that—”
“No,” Seokjin says shoving his finger in Namjoon’s face. Namjoon goes a little cross-eyed and it’s not adorable. “No emotions. None of that here. We’re not getting derailed like that again. Here is what’s going to happen.”
“I wasn’t finished speaking,” he hisses. “This is what’s going to happen.” He pauses, but Namjoon just looks at him quietly. He nods to himself. “Good. This is how it’s going to go. I am going to suck your dick like I’ve been wanting to do for months and there’s nothing you can do to stop me, got it?”
Seokjin starts wiggling off Namjoon’s lap, but Namjoon’s hands on his thighs stop him.
“Seokjin. I get where you’re coming from but… in my office? Really? I was hoping our first time together would involve more… roses. Romance. Maybe even a bed.”
“Yes in your office. If we put this off any longer I’m going to explode. And what if we get interrupted again? I’m not leaving it up to chance anymore.”
Namjoon looks around, stressed.
“It’s not even tidy in here—”
“Namjoon,” Seokjin says firmly, pressing his hands onto his cheeks to get him to look at him. “I get it. You like me. You want it to be special. But we have so much time for that. Right now, I’m horny as hell and want to suck your dick. Let me do this.”
Namjoon’s mouth pops open.
“Well. When you put it that way—”
Seokjin doesn’t give him a chance to finish. He’s swooping in for a kiss that quickly turns dirty, open-mouthed, tongues sliding.
Namjoon gasps. “Did you—” He pulls away a little. “Lock? Door—” Seokjin chases after him.
“It’s locked,” he says, mouthing down Namjoon’s neck. He finds where Namjoon’s scent is strongest and lightly bites his teeth around it. Namjoon goes rigid, gasping. Seokjin giggles, sliding off Namjoon’s lap and hitting the floor. He doesn’t waste time in undoing Namjoon’s belt and pulling down his pants.
“Up, up,” he mumbles, hitting Namjoon’s thigh when his pants get stuck. Namjoon lifts up enough that Seokjin can shove both pants and underwear down. Then he gets his first look at Namjoon’s cock and smiles.
“I knew it,” he says.
“What?” Namjoon blinks dumbly down at him. His eyes have gone hazy. Seokjin breathes in deeply – Namjoon’s scent is spiced with arousal, now. Because of him. He licks his lips.
“I knew you’d have a big dick.”
“How could you— fuck.” Namjoon’s head slams back, because Seokjin has grasped him in one hand and licked a big stripe up the underside of his cock. Seokjin smiles, letting his lips drag against it.
“I want you to look at me,” he says, voice low.
Namjoon’s eyes lock onto his.
“Jin,” he says, and his voice is already wrecked. He lets out a low moan when Seokjin lets saliva drip from his lips down onto his cock. Seokjin smirks as his hands work. He loves this – being in control, making Namjoon fall apart. He’s just as pretty as Seokjin had thought he’d be. He bites on his lips, trying to muffle his moans. Breaths pant out from his nose. His eyes are electrifying, locked solely on Seokjin.
Seokjin can feel his own slick gathering between his legs. He shifts, shuddering from the slight movement. Then he takes Namjoon into his mouth properly. Namjoon’s breath hisses out as Seokjin sinks as far down as he can. There’s still room between his hand and his lips. But Seokjin will work up to it.
His eyes slide shut as he concentrates on Namjoon – his aborted moans, his gasps, the way his muscles clench up when Seokjin tightens his grip just so. His mouth is full, so full. He can barely move his tongue when he takes Namjoon deep enough to hit his throat. He gags a little, pulling off to get a better breath. Saliva drips down, making it perfectly slick as Seokjin continues pumping.
“Am I good?” he asks, looking up at Namjoon, darting his tongue out to lick at Namjoon’s tip. It’s salty, his scent concentrated into taste-form.
“So good, baby,” Namjoon breathes. “Your lips are unreal.”
“Good.” Then he sinks back down, deeper this time. Namjoon’s groan makes him release a whine of his own, completely unbidden. Namjoon’s moans are like music. He’s loosing himself in the arousal of his alpha. He pulls off, kissing down the side of his dick, all the way down to where his scent is strongest. His hair tickles Seokjin’s nose, but it’s not a wild mess. It’s all neat, clean, like Namjoon himself. He continues across to the meat of his thigh and bites down.
“Jin,” he gasps as Seokjin sucks. He pulls back with a grin and looks at the mark. It’s already going a beautiful red, bright against the light gold of his thighs.
“Your thighs are one of my favourite parts, you know.” He tilts his head as he inspects it, then looks back up at Namjoon. He’s in more of a sprawl now, lips bright red and swollen.
“I’m going to come.”
“Already?” Seokjin taunts.
“I’m no saint,” he pants, “not against someone as beautiful as you.”
Seokjin’s hand stutters. Fucking hell. He doesn’t want to be blushing during sex, yet here he is. He’s meant to be seducing Namjoon. Not the other way around.
“Suck up,” he mutters, secretly pleased. He feels warm and gooey inside. Every movement he makes is getting him hotter. He can feel how wet he is and it’s just heightening everything. “I’m already giving you a blowjob. You don’t need to flatter me more.”
Namjoon smiles down at him, eyes twinkling mischievously.
“But you love being flattered.”
Seokjin leans down and nips at the darkening bruise on his thigh. Namjoon stutters out a broken “a-ah”, thighs straining.
“Enough of that,” Seokjin says, licking his lips again. “I want you to come in my mouth.”
His hand goes faster and he ducks back down onto Namjoon’s cock, tightening his lips around the head. He twists his hand at the top. Namjoon’s moans are coming faster now—
And then he comes.
His cock pulses, in his hand and then his mouth, and then he can taste him on his tongue. Seokjin’s mind goes blurry, whining as he sucks it all down. He pops off, twisting to lick up the side for anything he missed.
Namjoon’s hands card through Seokjin’s hair, pushing it back from his eyes. Seokjin looks up at him.
Namjoon has a soft smile on his face, looking blissful.
“Come up here,” he says. Seokjin scrambles to obey, climbing back onto the chair and folding himself so he’s small as Namjoon’s arms come around him. Namjoon guides his head up, brushing back his hair again and smiling into his eyes. He chuckles. “You’re very persistent.”
“That’s the thanks I get for giving you the best blowjob of your life?” He’s joking, but he feels a little unsettled inside.
But then Namjoon presses a light kiss to his lips and whispers, “You’re incredible,” and everything feels right again. He preens, smirking.
“Good. That’s what I thought you said.”
Namjoon’s hands run down his back, pause over his ass. Seokjin shudders.
“We’ll have to do something about this, though.”
Seokjin arches his back, presses his ass into Namjoon’s hands even more. Namjoon’s eyes watch him carefully as his fingers skim the waistband of his pants, ducking only a little inside.
“Is this okay?” he asks softly. Seokjin wants to groan, but he’s too turned on. Trust Namjoon to be just as considerate in the middle of sex.
“Do what you want,” he breathes into Namjoon’s ear. “I trust you.”
Namjoon places a soft kiss beneath his ear before one hand slips in completely. The tips of his long, long fingers graze against Seokjin’s crack. A breathless whine leaves Seokjin’s lips. He shifts his legs wider. Namjoon’s fingers swipe down, right through where his slick has gathered. Then the hand retreats.
Seokjin scowls, sitting up face-to-face with Namjoon again, in time to see him stick his fingers in his mouth. His eyes slide shut, deep groan vibrating through his chest. Seokjin watches it all, mouth open and stunned.
Namjoon’s eyes crack open and he smiles.
“You taste just as good as I knew you would.”
Seokjin’s speechless for a long moment. When he speaks, it comes out in a jumble, “Fuck me. I want you to fuck me.”
“I don’t have a condom,” Namjoon says, tapping him on the nose. “And I’ve got something better in mind. Lean against the desk.”
Seokjin frowns as he gets up, leaning against the table. It presses his pants uncomfortably against his slick. He can feel it spreading further. Namjoon stands up, pulling up and buckling his pants. Seokjin squirms with impatience.
“What is it? Hurry up, I wanna come.”
Namjoon’s eyes crinkle. He leans in close and bites into Seokjin’s mouth. Seokjin goes pliant. He doesn’t realise Namjoon is tugging his shirt up until he pulls away, tugging it all the way off. Seokjin’s skin pebbles in the air-conditioned room.
“So beautiful,” Namjoon breathes. He presses a kiss to Seokjin’s collarbone, then takes his nipple into his mouth. Seokjin arches, gasping. Namjoon’s teeth gently graze over the nub. His legs fall open further. And then Namjoon is moving on, lips and teeth grazing different parts of his body. He pauses for a moment at the vertical scar in the middle of Seokjin’s abdomen. His birthing scar. Not as big as it should be – he hadn’t carried to term. Seokjin tenses up, but Namjoon just presses a gentle kiss against it before moving on.
He crouches, pulling Seokjin’s pants down. He ends up knelt all the way on the ground to slip Seokjin’s shoes off. His thumbs sweep over his delicate arches and Seokjin shudders. He can’t believe he now has a foot kink to add to his hand kink. Yoongi’s going to love hearing about it.
With his shoes gone, Namjoon works his pants and underwear off. And then he’s naked in Namjoon’s office. Namjoon is fully clothed, knelt before him. He smiles up at Seokjin, eyes half-lidded.
Seokjin tries not to be too eager as he does. Namjoon’s hands run up his thighs, over his back. Everywhere he touches, Seokjin’s skin erupts into shivers. Then he presses down on Seokjin’s lower back. Seokjin lets himself drop onto the table, propping himself up with his elbows. Without his pants on, he can feel his slick begin to drip down his inner thighs. He glances over his shoulder, but he can only see the top of Namjoon’s head.
“Wider,” Namjoon cuts in, nudging at his knee. Seokjin shuffles his legs out. “More.” Seokjin complies, huffing, feeling a little like he’s about to do the splits. Perhaps a tad dramatic, but—
Namjoon ducks his head between Seokjin’s legs, licking his slick all the way up to his hole. Seokjin chokes on a loud groan, hands scrambling at the desk. Papers go flying.
“Ever heard of a warning, J— Joon!”
He can barely breathe. Namjoon has spread his ass, tongue laving at his rim. He sucks onto Seokjin’s hole and Seokjin whines. His hands finally grasp onto the opposite edge of the table. Which is lucky, because Namjoon spreads him open even further. His tongue slips inside. Seokjin’s back arches, pushing himself back into Namjoon. Namjoon’s fingers flex against his ass, keeping him in place.
“Joon, Joon, Joon,” he pants like a prayer. He can feel Namjoon’s whole face pressed up against him, his nose grazing against his crack. The stretch in his legs just adds to it. He plants his feet even wider, trying to grind his ass back a little. Namjoon’s hands keep him firmly in place, though.
He devolves into a mess of sensations, whimpers dripping from his throat. Namjoon is good at this. Like he truly loves doing it. Loves the taste of Seokjin on his tongue. That knowledge makes it even hotter.
Then he slips a finger inside and Seokjin has to bite back a shout. His fingers crook, hitting that spot inside him that makes him see stars almost instantly. Seokjin cries out, hiking one leg up onto the table to spread himself even farther. Namjoon gives one long lick then pulls away.
“Are you close, sweetheart?”
Seokjin can feel Namjoon resting his face against his asscheek. It’s wet.
“Y-Yes,” he pants out. “So close. So good. Fuck, Joon.”
Namjoon’s head tilts and then his teeth bite into the fleshy bit of his ass. Seokjin’s head slams against the table.
“Yes,” he hisses, “I’m so close. All because of you, alpha.”
He can feel how Namjoon pauses at that. Then a second finger slides into him.
“Then come,” Namjoon says, simple as anything. Then his head ducks back into Seokjin’s ass to lick up his crack.
And Seokjin does. It hits him like a truck, bowling him over. His vision greys out. Pleasure pulses through him, stealing the breath from his lungs entirely. He comes down the front of the desk, hips jerking forward for more contact. Namjoon licks him through it, fingers withdrawing.
Seokjin goes lax against the desk, completely spent. He realises he has tears in the corner of his eyes. Namjoon is peppering tiny kisses across his ass. A soft, deep sound comes from Namjoon’s chest. A purr.
Seokjin’s hearing comes back slowly and he realises Namjoon is whispering against his skin: “so beautiful, so good for me, you make such beautiful sounds, my beautiful omega.”
“Well,” Seokjin starts, and his voice cracks.
Namjoon laughs, rising up. Gentle hands turn Seokjin around to face him. He’s still fully dressed. Seokjin is naked. He throws his arms around Namjoon and cuddles in close. He likes the feel of clothing against his naked skin. Likes that they’d just fucked in Namjoon’s office, where he has to sit all day and think about it. He wants to purr in contentment.
“Was that okay?” Namjoon asks, fingers stroking Seokjin’s hair. Seokjin jerks up, eyes narrowed.
“Is that a joke?”
Namjoon looks a little uncertain.
“You big idiot,” he says fondly, slapping his shoulder. “I’ve never been more wet in my life. Does that answer your question?”
The smile that spreads across Namjoon’s face is pure, satisfied alpha. His eyes glow a faint red.
Seokjin laughs, collapsing against his chest once more.
“Sure, alpha,” he teases. Pauses. “How many of your colleagues do you think heard us?”
“Jin,” Namjoon whines. “Why can’t you just let me enjoy this moment?”
“Because I’m sticky and covered in slick and come, and I’d really like to have a shower with you back at the house.”
“But… my papers,” Namjoon protests weakly.
Seokjin arches an eyebrow, pushing him back so he can jump to his feet.
“You’ll make it work.”
Namjoon’s eyes follow him as he dresses. He might be putting on a little bit more of a show than usual, stretching to put his shirt on, bending over to get his pants and making sure Namjoon gets a nice view of his ass.
“Ready?” he finally asks, smiling flirtily.
Namjoon blinks like he’s waking up. Heat rises to his cheeks, despite having his face shoved into Seokjin’s ass not long ago.
“Yeah,” he says. “You’re right. I’ll fix it all tomorrow.”
Seokjin leans in and bops him on the nose.
“You should probably open a window, though,” he says, then flounces out the door.
Walking down to the carpark, Seokjin’s heart feels… settled. Right, in his chest. He looks at Namjoon next to him. Namjoon catches his glance and gives him his heartbreaking smile. Seokjin reaches out and grabs his hand.
“If the kids haven’t started dinner by the time I’m home, I’m going to ground them all,” he says.
“Your ass is grass,” Jungkook snarls, bouncing around on the balls of his feet.
Seokjin dribbles the ball slowly towards him.
“Oh, is it? I’d like to see you try, pup—”
Jungkook lunges at him. Seokjin feints one way, then spins and goes the other. He dodges around Jungkook, giggling as he does. He can’t believe it worked. His stride lengthens as he heads towards the goal—
His feet get knocked out under him. He flies onto his back. Air thuds out of his lungs. He strains up in time to see Jungkook spring to his feet, taking the ball and running back the other way.
“What!” Seokjin cries out. Jungkook is, of course, preternaturally good at this and dodges around all the other wolves, scoring quickly. His whole team jumps up and down.
“Umpire, did you see that? He threatened me! And illegally tackled me!”
Namjoon comes over with a grin, offering a hand.
“Not an illegal move. Backyard rules, remember? And didn’t you pull the same thing on Taeseob a few weeks ago?”
Seokjin scoffs, ignoring the hand and pushing himself up alone. He tries to gather his dignity as he brushes himself off.
“This is slander,” he mumbles. “What’s the point in sleeping with the umpire if he’s not biased towards Team Kim Seokjin?”
Namjoon captures his hand, tugging him in closer.
“You’re asking me, a professor of ethics, to betray my ethical duty as the pack umpire?” He tutts. “You don’t know me at all.” His hand brushes through Seokjin’s hair and Seokjin leans into the touch, just as enamoured with this alpha as he was when he confessed all those months ago. Until he realises Namjoon is actually just brushing grass out of his hair.
He rears back, slapping Namjoon’s hand away. Namjoon laughs.
“Betrayal,” he mutters, striding away.
“You’re still covered in grass!” Namjoon calls after him. Seokjin ignores him. He heads over to where Jimin is flopped on a picnic rug, head resting on Taehyung’s stomach as he squints at something on his phone.
“Let me in,” he mumbles, dropping to his knees.
“No room,” Jimim says absently. “Taehyung is completely used up— oof.”
Seokjin smiles up at Jimin from where he’s now laying against his stomach. Jimin glares down at him.
“You’re a child,” he mumbles, rolling his eyes and going back to his phone.
Taehyung grins over at him. “You could fit on my other side, Jinnie!”
“Suck up,” Jimin mumbles.
“Very sweet of you, Tae, thank you, but I’m quite comfortable here. Jimin, you’re beginning to sound like Kookie. And we can only have one cranky puberty wolf in this household at one time.”
“Are you whining because you lost?” Jungkook appears, smirking and looking obnoxious as anything.
“Team Kim Seokjin didn’t lose,” Seokjin says haughtily, lifting his head up from Jimin’s stomach. “Team Kim Seokjin never loses it. Now go get us some of that tasty BBQ. You’re the baby of the family so you have to.”
“I don’t have to do anything.” Jungkook scowls, spinning and walking off. One of Namjoon’s younger pack members trails along after him, hero worship in his eyes. Seokjin rolls his eyes.
Yoongi and Hoseok joins them after a while, plates piled high. Seokjin tries to sneak some food, but Yoongi is too fast for him. He pouts. A few others join them, the smells heavenly, but he still doesn’t want to get up. His body is tired and sore from running around a soccer field after kids younger than him.
Soyeon very nicely rips up half of her bread roll for him. Then Namjoon comes over with plates for both him and the kids, and he sits up and happily munches away. When Namjoon is back with his own plate, he settles down next to Seokjin. Seokjin leans into his side without even thinking about it.
Namjoon’s pack is spread out around them on their own picnic blankets, talking and eating and laughing. Seokjin, shockingly, feels safe. Settled. Something he’d never expected to feel in a pack ever again. In a few hours, they’ll clear the area and get ready for the full moon to rise. Together, as a pack – even if Seokjin would never say it aloud. This is his fifth full moon with the pack, and he’s been to uncountable pack events. No one pushes him about it, though. He’ll do it when he’s ready.
Namjoon is a solid presence beside him, arm wrapped around his waist. He talks to someone next to him. Seokjin is happy to just make his way through the food. Afterwards, he stands up with a groan.
“Bathroom,” he murmurs when Namjoon looks at him inquiringly.
“I’ll join,” Namjoon says. Seokjin’s eyebrows arch.
“I don’t need help wiping,” he says.
“We’ll know if you bang!” Hoseok calls out. Catcalls and jeers start up. Namjoon rolls his eyes, tugging Seokjin away as he laughs.
“As nice as this is,” Seokjin says, letting them into the house, “it’s kind of weird. Like, I’m not against it. I can totally make you come so fast they won’t believe you had time for it and we can be out there like nothing had happened, but I do really need to pee—”
“I was thinking,” Namjoon says, looking uncharacteristically nervous, stopping in the hallway. Seokjin pauses, looking back at him.
“That’s either a good thing or a very very bad thing.” Seokjin narrows his eyes. “Which is it?”
“Either. Depends on you, really.”
“Hmm. Ominous.” But he moves closer to Namjoon, interlocking their fingers. “I love you, but not enough to pee my pants. What’s the matter?”
Namjoon’s gaze is intense, looking right into Seokjin. Seokjin is used to it. He tilts his head and waits.
“I was wondering,” he blurts, “about your thoughts on being mated. To me.”
Seokjin’s breath catches. Warmth rushes through his chest, down to his toes and making them curl. He sways towards Namjoon, tightening his grip on his hands. He’s surprised by the intensity of his reaction, but also… is he? Really?
He’d thought about this a lot. More and more, as time went on. He knows what he wants. He’d just expected to ask Namjoon first, so he’s a little miffed about that.
He does like to win, after all.
But maybe just this once, he’s fine with not winning.
“Joon,” he breathes. He can’t help but lean closer and press their lips together. “I love you. I would love to be mated to you. But your timing is atrocious.”
“Huh?” Namjoon looks a little dazed.
“I’m not joking about being about to piss myself. If something hits my bladder, I’m done for. So right now, I’m not saying yes. I expect you to ask me again with lots of romance and drama, as is befitting for someone like me.”
Seokjin pulls his hand away to pat Namjoon’s cheek.
“Yes, sweetheart. Ask me again with the necessary romance, and I’ll say yes.”
“You’re so high-maintenance,” Namjoon growls, pushing Seokjin back against the wall, but his eyes are fond. Seokjin laughs until he’s silenced by Namjoon’s lips against his. Euphoria is running through his body, bubbling up. Mated. For Namjoon to be his, and for him to be Namjoon’s. Completely.
Seokjin arches up into the kiss and accidentally jostles his bladder. He hisses, crossing his legs and shoving Namjoon back.
“Oh, you really weren’t lying,” Namjoon says, laughter in his eyes. Luckily, he’s smart enough not to laugh aloud.
“Shut up,” Seokjin says, walking very quickly down to the bathroom. “Or I’ll say no to your proposal.”
“You wouldn’t,” Namjoon says with quiet confidence. Seokjin slams the door in his face, rushing over to the toilet. He sighs in relief. “Seokjin?” Namjoon’s voice suddenly sounds a lot more nervous. “You wouldn’t, would you?”