Seokjin rubbed sleep from his eyes, trying to pull himself together. It was 2:36 a.m. During the day, the house usually felt warm and cozy, but currently it felt freezing without four small bodies running around and warming everything up.
Seokjin pulled his robe a little tighter around himself.
He wasn’t a stranger to social workers calling him at all hours of the day, but a call this late at night was a first. Normally, he and Namjoon would help their new foster kids adjust to their house together, but his husband hadn’t even rolled over at the sound of the house phone ringing downstairs. Seokjin knew there would be no point in trying to wake him.
Seokjin quietly fixed himself a cup of tea while he waited. He had one ear trained to the baby monitor, listening for any noise from Jeongguk. All was quiet as he sipped his ginger tea.
He was combing his fingers through his hair in an attempt to look more presentable, when there was a knock on the front door. Seokjin winced, eyes flickering to the baby monitor. If Jeongguk woke up, then everyone would wake up, and Seokjin needed his boys well rested. He wasn’t in the mood to deal with five cranky toddlers tomorrow.
When Jeongguk didn’t seem to stir, Seokjin opened the door.
A police officer stood on his porch, a young boy hiding behind his leg. He looked to be about five years old. He was absolutely filthy; half of his body was caked with mud and his hair looked like it had never been washed.
“You must be Seokjin,” the police officer said. He nudged the boy forward. “This is Hoseok. We picked him up on the edge of the highway. He was lying in a ditch. Apparently, his mom forced him to get out of the car and left him behind. The EMTs gave him a clean bill of health, and now here we are.”
“Here you are,” Seokjin repeated, looking down at Hoseok. The little boy looked up at him, his mouth pulled into a deep frown. His eyes were shiny as he held back tears.
“Someone will call you with more details,” the police officer said. “We’ll see if we can find some family for him, but until then...”
“He’s safe with me,” Seokjin replied with a nod.
The police officer shrugged and turned on his heel. He didn’t stay for long. They never stayed for long, just dropped the kids off and came back to get them if they found any relatives to take care of them. Seokjin was the one who had to take care of the tears and answer all their questions. Seokjin was the one who made sure they felt safe and loved.
“So, Hoseok. My name is Seokjin, and this is my house. You’re going to be staying here for a while. Would you like to have a tour?” he asked.
Hoseok didn’t respond, but his lower lip wobbled.
Seokjin hummed and lowered himself to Hoseok’s level. He clasped his hands together as he sat back on his ankles. “You don’t have to see everything right away, if you don’t want to. You can go straight to bed; I have a room for you and everything,” he offered. He had picked up an exhausted Taehyung and moved him into Jimin’s room right after he had gotten the call. He’d even moved Taehyung’s name tag next to Jimin’s on the door to their now shared room. There was a bed with clean sheets waiting for Hoseok. “Or you can just take a break. Do you want to sit out and look at the stars with me?”
“I wanna break,” Hoseok replied, voice cracking.
Seokjin agreed straight away. “Okay, great! I love looking at the stars,” he promised. In a perfect world, Hoseok would be tired and want to go straight to bed. Then Seokjin could get some rest, too. But he’d learned from experience not to expect any sleep when kids first came to the house, and giving Hoseok a few minutes to process was absolutely imperative.
After all, his whole life was changing. If what the police officer said was true –if his mom forced him out of the car and left him lying in the mud on the side of the road- then he must be in shock, the poor thing. And now he was at this stranger’s house at three in the morning.
Hoseok should be sleeping, not getting torn away from house and family.
Seokjin led him out to some Adirondack chairs in the front yard. Usually, Seokjin and Namjoon would sit out here together while the boys played tag on the lawn or rode their tricycles around the cul-de-sac. Seokjin had planted a garden around the chairs and had set up a little table, even, for the eight hundred sippy cups and bottles he was always carting in and out of the house.
But now with Hoseok, everything seemed to have a different tone. There weren’t any happy giggles or excited shrieks as his kids played outside. Instead there were just tiny sniffles.
Hoseok climbed up into the seat. His little hands clung to the arms of the chair as he looked up at the sky, and Seokjin sat next to him, giving him some time to think.
After a while –Seokjin almost fell asleep twice- Hoseok turned to look at him, his big brown eyes wide and searching.
“How about that tour, now?” Seokjin offered. Hoseok nodded, but he looked exhausted. His big brown eyes drooped, and Seokjin couldn’t help but smile. He was certainly a cute little guy. “Do you want me to carry you?” he asked.
Hoseok nodded again, and Seokjin scooped him up. He carried him into the laundry room first, going into the house through the garage instead of the front door. “Okie dokie. So this is the laundry room. This is where I will wash your clothes later. It’s also where we take off our shoes,” Seokjin said. He gestured to the bins lined up along the wall. Each was labeled with a boy’s name. “You can have your own bin for your shoes, if you’d like. We can put your name on it,” he offered.
Hoseok’s head turned from the shoes to look at Seokjin hopefully. Seokjin picked up one of the unclaimed bins from the floor and passed Hoseok a piece of chalk. The labels were covered in chalkboard paint so Seokjin could change the nametags for the kids constantly coming and going from his home.
He rested the bin on top of the washer, and angled Hoseok so he could write. The little boy clumsily drew an ‘H’ in the middle of the chalkboard. The rest of his ‘letters’ were just funny little lines.
“Good job, Hoseok!” Seokjin exclaimed, not surprised by how poor his lettering was for a five year old. Jimin hadn’t known how to write when he came to stay, either. Kids in foster care often didn’t have parents who were willing to teach them the alphabet before they were thrown into the system. “Do you want to take off your shoes?”
Hoseok thought about it. “... Yeah,” he eventually squeaked, and Seokjin set him down. He let Hoseok undo the Velcro straps on his sneakers by himself. Hoseok had so little control right now. The least he could do was let him be in charge of the few possessions he had, however dirty they may be.
Hoseok put his shoes into his new bin, and Seokjin made a mental note to clean his tiny sneakers first thing in the morning.
“Okay, lets go to the next room!” he said. It was difficult to sound this upbeat when he was so tired, but he didn’t want to cause Hoseok any stress. He held his hand and walked him into the kitchen. “This is the kitchen, and this is where I’m going to cook you breakfast tomorrow morning. You can look in the cabinets if you want!” he offered.
Hoseok let go of his hand and started peeking around. Seokjin was careful not to let him slam any cabinet doors closed. There were too many little people sleeping for any loud noises.
Hoseok walked over to the pantry, and Seokjin smiled. “That’s where all the snacks are. My house is awesome because I always have snacks that taste good and are good for you! Are you hungry?”
Hoseok looked at him desperately.
“Okay! Here, let me lift you up so you can see, and you can pick what you want to eat,” Seokjin offered.
Hoseok picked out a single sized pack of pretzel sticks, and Seokjin helped him open it. He would have to go grocery shopping sooner than usual. He only had two packs left, and Yoongi liked to have pretzels in his lunch.
Seokjin let Hoseok eat at the kitchen table while he obsessively refreshed his email on the other side of the room. Hoseok undoubtedly still needed some time by himself, and Seokjin was anxious for news on his situation. Social services probably wouldn’t email him until normal working hours later that morning, but he had questions about Hoseok. He wanted to know how long he was likely to be staying.
Seokjin looked up from his phone. “Good job! You can eat more at breakfast tomorrow,” he said, and Hoseok nodded. He still had some pretzels left in his package, and Seokjin breathed a sigh in relief. Starving kids finish anything you put in front of them, even when they feel full. Well-fed kids leave behind what they aren’t hungry for. At least Hoseok’s mom fed him. “Do you want to see the rest of the house?”
Hoseok nodded, seemingly back to being shy, but he lifted his arms for Seokjin to pick him up. Seokjin complied immediately. Hoseok was about five years old. He was heavy in his arms, but Seokjin would never be able to deny a kid in need of physical contact.
He led the way into the living room. If they had come in through the front door, they would have ended up here. “This is the living room. You can watch cartoons tomorrow morning on the big couch, or you can play with toys,” he offered. “The door in the corner goes to a bathroom, if you need to use one while you’re downstairs.”
He carted Hoseok up the stairs. Normally, he’d let a new kid have a break to play with toys, but Hoseok was starting to yawn every other second and he desperately needed a bath before he went to sleep.
The first landing of the house lead to the master bedroom. It was sandwiched between the first and second floor on the other side of the house. “This is my bedroom. I share it with my husband Namjoon. He’s going to take care of you like I am, but right now he’s sleeping because he doesn’t know you’re here,” Seokjin explained. “My room is cool because I have a bathtub that bubbles! You can take a bath in my room if you want.”
Hoseok squirmed in his arms. “Bubbles?” he asked. He seemed excited.
“Yeah, you wanna see?”
“Good!” Seokjin walked into his bathroom, not caring about being noisy. Namjoon slept like the dead. The only thing that could wake him up was his own snoring.
Seokjin sat Hoseok on the edge of the bath while he filled it up with bubble bath and warm water. Hoseok seemed delighted to watch the bubbles foam up. He reached in with both hands.
“Whoops, hold on, buddy. How about you take your clothes off first, okay? I won’t look,” Seokjin promised. He knew privacy was important for kids when they were new to the house. Even if Hoseok was still young, Seokjin wanted to give him some space to do things on his own.
He turned around as Hoseok shucked off his clothes and left them on the floor. He listened as Hoseok climbed in the bath. “Can I turn around?”
Seokjin turned around and smiled when he saw Hoseok trying to scrub the dried mud off his face. “There you go, get all clean. You can have a wash cloth to help if you want, and here’s some soap.” Seokjin passed Hoseok a washcloth that doubled as a duck puppet, along with a bottle of coconut scented body wash. Hoseok lathered up all on his own. “Don’t forget behind the ears,” Seokjin said. Hoseok bit his bottom lip and cleaned behind his ears with the duck’s beak.
“Your tub bubbles?”
“Oh, right!” Seokjin said, snapping his fingers. “Do you want to turn on the jets?” Hoseok nodded eagerly. “Okay, just click that button,” Seokjin said, pointing to the on switch on the side of the tub. Hoseok pressed it. He giggled as the jets whirred to life.
He spent the next ten minutes laughing as he turned the bubbles on and off. Seokjin waited patiently, but when his watch struck 4:00 a.m., he decided it was time for bed. “Alright, Hoseok. It’s very late. Do you think it would be okay to head to bed now?”
Hoseok looked sad, but nodded his head anyway. “Okay, great. We can play in this tub again tomorrow,” Seokjin promised.
He helped Hoseok out of the tub and into a fluffy towel. He let him brush his teeth with a spare toothbrush and some Little Bear toothpaste in the upstairs bathroom. Seokjin carried him down the hall, pointing out his new brothers' bedrooms as they passed by.
“This is Yoongi’s room. He is seven. And this is Jeongguk’s room; he’s only two-years-old, if you can believe it. And then this is Jimin and Taehyung’s room. Jimin is four, and Taehyung just turned three! And here is your room. You can write your name on the white board, if you want,” he offered, extending the marker to Hoseok.
Hoseok blinked at him, straightening up in his arms. The hood to his frog towel fell off his head, but he didn’t seem bothered by it. Instead he grabbed the marker and made some scribbles on the board, not even trying to make an ‘H’ this time.
“Nice! Now let’s get you some pajamas.”
After letting Hoseok spend an excruciating amount of time picking out which of Taehyung’s pajamas he wanted to wear, he was finally ready for bed. “Okay. This is where you sleep,” Seokjin explained, peeling back the covers for Hoseok and letting him settle in. His PJ pants had little moustaches printed on them, and his shirt read “I moustache you a question.”
“You try to go to sleep, alright? I’ll be back in five minutes to check on you and see how you’re doing. If you need anything other than to use the bathroom again, wait for me because I’ll come back, okay?” Hoseok nodded, but his eyes seemed fearful. “Five minutes, I promise. And when you wake up tomorrow, you’ll see me, and you’ll get to meet everyone else who lives here; it’ll be really fun,” he promised.
“Five minutes?” Hoseok asked, his eyes wide and his eyebrows adorably furrowed together.
“Five minutes,” Seokjin repeated. He pulled out his phone and set a timer, resting it where Hoseok could see. “When the lock runs out, I’ll be back okay? I’ll make sure you’re still all right.”
Hoseok nodded, and Seokjin ducked out of the room. He didn’t go far, though. He sat down on the ground outside, preparing himself for a long night of getting up and checking on his newest foster son.
Hoseok was sweet, he could already tell. So much had been thrust on his narrow shoulders, but he was still being incredibly polite and kind. When Yoongi had come, he’d been an angry, aggressive mess. When Jimin had come, he’d done nothing but cry. Hoseok was being so stoic and calm, Seokjin’s heart couldn’t help but reach out to him.
Seokjin closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall. As selfish as it was, he hoped Hoseok didn’t have any family who wanted to take care of him. He was so cute; Seokjin wanted to keep him.
Basically, I really want to be a foster mom one day, and I've been talking about it with my mentor and doing a lot of research. And I figured I would apply it!
I just wrote this little thing because I couldn't get to sleep, but if you like it, let me know, and I'll write about the other boys. I have like... headcannons for all the kids, and also for Namjin and how they decided to become foster parents.
(There's a lot of reasons kids get put into foster care, and they all have different responses and are affected in different ways, so I'd be happy to delve into that. Just let me know who you're curious about!)
Chapter 2: Deceased...
Okay so here we have a Yoongi chapter. Whoop.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Seokjin never bothered to set an alarm clock. He didn’t need one: not since Jimin had moved in.
Every morning, Jimin would rush into his and Namjoon’s room and jump up onto their bed. If Seokjin was lucky, he could convince Jimin to snuggle with him while he remembered how to open his eyes. However, more often than not, Jimin pulled him out of bed before 7:00 a.m. to play or make breakfast. He was an early riser to say the least.
This morning, Jimin was squealing as he rushed into his dads’ bed. “Joonie, Joonie!” he yelped. He pounced on Namjoon first, but Seokjin woke up anyway. “Jinnie, guess what!”
“What?” Namjoon asked drowsily. Seokjin only groaned and crammed his head under his pillow. Hoseok had the hardest time getting to sleep last night, and Seokjin had only slept for an hour before Jimin had barged in.
This is why God made kids cute: to keep grownups from snapping their necks when they woke everyone up too early.
“I woke up, and TaeTae was in my room!”
The bed shifted as Namjoon sat up a little. Seokjin peeked out from under his pillow, adjusting to the early morning light. He watched Namjoon with one eye as his husband fished around for his glasses. “Tae was in your room?” Namjoon asked, finding his glasses and putting them on. Seokjin grinned a little at how good he looked in the thick black frames. It was enough to get him to sit up and join his family.
“Yeah, I had to put him in there,” Seokjin said. He leaned up against his pillows and let out a yawn. “Jimin, do you think you would be okay sharing a room with Taehyung?”
Jimin’s eyes widened comically. “Like when me and TaeTae have sleepovers?” he asked.
Seokjin nodded. “Yeah, just like when you and Taehyung have sleepovers. But instead of once in awhile, now you can have them every night,” he said, happy to sell the idea any way Jimin wanted to hear it. It probably wouldn’t be easy for him to live with Taehyung. They were best friends, but Taehyung was often exhausted and Jimin would have to keep quiet in his room when Taehyung was sleeping. However, as long as Jimin was generous –and Seokjin knew he could be- then everything would be fine.
“Yes! I want to share!” Jimin said, jumping off of Namjoon and into Seokjin’s awaiting arms. Seokjin smiled fondly and pressed a kiss to Jimin’s hair as the four-year-old graced him with some early morning snuggles.
“Wait, why do Taehyung and Jimin have to share?” Namjoon asked, pushing his glasses up on his nose.
Seokjin’s grinned mischievously. He cradled Jimin close to keep him still while he leaned over to give Namjoon a kiss. “Because we have another.”
Namjoon’s breath hitched. His eyes lit up with excitement. “Another?”
“Who’s turn is it to talk to Yoongi?” Namjoon asked. He was starting to crack eggs for French toast, while Seokjin snuggled a very nauseous and upset Taehyung. He had woken up with a tummy ache. He'd been sniffling into Seokjin’s shoulder for most of the morning, while the other kids played in the living room and waited for breakfast.
Hoseok was the only one who was still asleep. Seokjin wasn’t about to wake him, knowing full well how late he had been up last night. He’d cried and panicked until around 5:40 a.m. Seokjin could manage on an hour or so of sleep, but five-year-olds needed much more than that.
Plus, Hoseok sleeping made it possible to procrastinate telling Yoongi about their house’s newest member.
“I think it’s your turn,” Seokjin said, rubbing Taehyung’s back. “I want it to be your turn.”
“Right, well, I’m making breakfast, so...”
“And I’m holding Taehyung, so...”
Namjoon and Seokjin looked at each other for a second before they both dissolved into giggles. Seokjin was careful to not jostle Taehyung, while Namjoon accidentally crushed an egg in his hand, he was laughing so hard. “When did we become so scared of a seven-year-old?” Namjoon asked.
“Why do you always get eggshell into everything?” Seokjin teased, helping pick bits of shell out of the bowl with one hand. His other arm kept Taehyung attached to his side.
Namjoon bumped hips with him. “Hey, I asked you a question first.”
“You’re right, I’m sorry,” Seokjin apologized. He went to the sink to wash off the egg one-handed. Taehyung made an unhappy sound in his arms and Seokjin quickly dried his hand off so he could go back to rubbing the three-year-old’s back. “Yoongi is intimidating, though, isn’t he?”
“Maybe it would be best if we told him together,” Namjoon suggested. Seokjin wholeheartedly agreed.
Yoongi didn’t deal with change very well. He had seen so many foster homes; Seokjin couldn’t blame him for wanting some stability. Namjoon and Seokjin were working on putting the paperwork through to adopt Yoongi to assure that he wouldn’t end up in any more homes, but it was a slow-going process and it didn’t stop the constant rotation of foster kids coming in and out of their house.
Every time they had a new foster son come to stay, Yoongi threw a tantrum. Slamming doors, screaming, crying... all of which typically set off Jimin and potentially Jeongguk. Yoongi didn’t like when his family changed. Hopefully, Hoseok would be able to stay, and Namjoon and Seokjin could say their house was full. (Five kids had always been their maximum.) Then they wouldn’t have any more changes for a long while.
“Maybe let’s do it in his room. That way he won’t have anywhere to run,” Seokjin suggested. “Just give me a couple more moments with Taehyung.” He ran his fingers through Taehyung’s hair.
Namjoon grunted in agreement, focusing on pouring the right amount of milk into all of his cracked eggs. Seokjin didn’t comment when his husband definitely overdid it. It was just a pleasure to not have to cook for once, even if it likely wouldn’t taste very good.
Namjoon always made breakfast on Saturdays, and for that, Seokjin was eternally grateful. It was one less meal he had to make.
“And just how is my TaeTae?” Namjoon asked, directing his attention to Taehyung. The three-year-old made a whining noise, and Seokjin sympathized. The new medication he was on had been messing with his stomach ever since he had started taking it. Seokjin would definitely have to bring this up at his doctor’s appointment tomorrow.
“I don’t think we’ve found the right medicine yet,” Seokjin said with a frown.
Namjoon leaned over to pepper Taehyung’s cheek with kisses, pulling a little giggle from the boy. Seokjin grinned. He missed Taehyung’s smile. “We’ll find it,” Namjoon said, reassuring both his husband and his foster son. “And soon, Taehyung will be feeling much better.”
“No more tummy aches,” Taehyung practically whimpered, pulling at Seokjin to be held closer. Seokjin pecked his nose.
“No more tummy aches,” he promised. “But TaeTae, I do have to talk to your brother about having a new friend in the house, okay? So I’m going to have to put you down.”
Seokjin grinned. “Yeah, his name is Hoseok.”
“Okay,” Taehyung agreed. Seokjin sighed. At least Taehyung and Jimin had been easy. Jeongguk would likely be easy, too. Yoongi would be difficult, but Seokjin could handle it, especially if Namjoon was by his side.
“Do you think you can leave that for a little bit?” Seokjin asked, nodding towards the French toast batter his husband had been working on. Namjoon nodded and quick washed his hands, while Seokjin tucked Taehyung under some blankets on the couch.
All of the boys were in the living room, playing before breakfast. It was only eight in the morning, and already the living room was a disaster. They would have to do some serious tidying before they went to bed. Taehyung didn’t seem happy about Seokjin leaving him alone, but Jimin rushed over with a big smile and some matchbox cars, and that seemed to occupy Taehyung enough for Seokjin to leave him.
Seokjin turned around. Jeongguk was standing by Namjoon’s feet, holding up his Elmo plushie. Jeongguk loved showing off his Elmo plushie.
Namjoon squatted down to the two-year-old’s level. “Wow, ‘Guk. This is very nice,” he promised, petting Elmo’s head. Jeongguk pushed the plushie into Namjoon’s hands and clapped.
Seokjin couldn’t help but swoon at the cuteness. Jeongguk was adorable. They were lucky to have gotten him as a baby. Jeongguk had come to their house when he was three days old, and he had been with them ever since. It was exciting to see one of their boys grow up from being a newborn.
Namjoon gave Elmo a hug and passed it back to Jeongguk. “Thank you so much, but I have to go talk to Yoongi with Jinnie, okay? You be good.”
“Good!” Jeongguk exclaimed, raising both hands in the air excitedly.
Meanwhile, Yoongi looked up from his jigsaw puzzle, his eyes narrowed skeptically. “You have to talk to me?” he asked, his eyes darting between Namjoon and Seokjin. “Both of you?”
“Yep,” Namjoon said, walking over and putting a guiding hand on Yoongi’s back. He led him towards the stairs. “Let’s go to your room.”
“Am I in trouble?” Yoongi asked, turning to lock eyes with Seokjin, who was following them both up the steps. Seokjin shook his head.
“Of course not. Don’t worry, you haven’t done anything wrong,” he promised. However, even though Seokjin said he didn’t have to, it was obvious that Yoongi was worrying. The seven-year-old’s shoulders were pinched together, and he was wringing his hands nervously. Yoongi had a lot of anxious tics, more than Seokjin had ever seen in someone so young.
To be fair, Yoongi had a really hard start to his short little life. His parents had died when he was three, just barely old enough for Yoongi to remember them. He asked Namjoon and Seokjin countless questions that neither knew the answer to: all kinds of enquiries about who his parents were and why they had to die.
Yoongi’s grandparents were given custody. They took care of him for about three months before realizing they couldn’t keep up with all of Yoongi’s energy and emotional outbursts due to their old age. So Yoongi was thrown into the system, and Seokjin’s heart broke every time he thought about how many bad homes Yoongi had been put into.
The first had been overfilled. Yoongi worried constantly about too many boys coming into Seokjin and Namjoon’s house, no matter how many times they promised they would never take in too many.
His second had been cruel. The other kids had bullied four-year-old Yoongi to the point where he had to be pulled from the home. Now Yoongi worried about new kids being mean to him and calling him names. Seokjin and Namjoon tried to reassure him that they would never stand for that, that they would never let that happen.
His third home had been disgusting. The file they had on Yoongi didn’t give details, only that the house was uninhabitable for sanitary reasons. Apparently the building had been condemned after Yoongi left, and Seokjin didn’t understand how they could ever let him go into that home in the first place.
Now Yoongi liked things clean. Very, very clean.
Fortunately, Seokjin liked things clean, too. And he loved giving Yoongi positive attention. He loved putting his papers from school up on the fridge for Namjoon to see when he came home from work. He loved tucking Yoongi in and making sure he brushed his teeth. He loved buying Yoongi clothes, and taking him to movies, and spending as much one-on-one time as possible with him without neglecting the other boys. He loved Yoongi.
He just had to convince him that wouldn’t change. No matter how many boys came into their home, he would always love Yoongi and he would always take care of him. Maybe if Yoongi understood that Seokjin and Namjoon weren’t going anywhere, he would feel safe living in their house.
“Come here, kid, you look like you’re going to a funeral,” Seokjin said, impulsively swooping Yoongi up and setting him on his shoulders. He ran up the stairs with him, leaving Namjoon in the dust.
Yoongi laughed, giggles filling the whole house with noise as Seokjin tossed him onto his bed. Yoongi bounced a few times on the mattress. He fell back onto his dinosaur sheets with a bright smile on his usually terrified face. Seokjin didn’t want Yoongi to stop laughing.
“You know what it’s time for?” he asked, holding out his hands like claws.
Yoongi’s eyes widened. “No!” he squealed in horror.
“Tickle time!” Seokjin said, tickling Yoongi’s neck and stomach just to make him keep laughing.
When Namjoon walked into the room, Yoongi called for help. “Joo-Joo-Joonie!” he shrieked through his laughter. “S-Save me!”
“I got it, don’t worry,” Namjoon promised, sweeping Seokjin off of his feet. He carried him away from the bed and sat him in Yoongi’s desk chair. Seokjin rolled his eyes –Namjoon had always liked picking him up and showing off how strong he was- but his mood quickly mellowed out when he realized just what they had come up here for. Namjoon made Yoongi scoot over and sprawled out next to him on the twin-sized bed. He tucked Yoongi into his side. “All right, so we have some news for you, but we don’t want you to get upset.”
Yoongi’s sparkling eyes turned dark and flat in less than a second. “What?”
Seokjin and Namjoon shared a look, debating who should speak. Seokjin lost the staring contest. He sighed and folded his hands together. “Well... We have a new boy staying with us. His name is Hoseok.”
“He’s sleeping,” Seokjin said. “He got here late last night, and he needs to rest. But, Yoongi, before you get upset-“
“Why would you get another one?!” Yoongi interrupted, sitting up. His nose was scrunched up, and his face was red with anger. “You already have me, and Jimin, and Jeongguk, and Taehyung! Isn’t that enough? That’s four! That’s so many! Why do you have to keep getting more?! Just keep it the same!” he demanded. His tiny hands were curled up into fists and there were tears threatening to fall over his cheeks. Seokjin didn’t know if he was frustrated, sad, or both.
“Yoongi, Jin and I have talked about it, and we’re only ever going to have five of you guys at a time. That’s a perfect number, okay?” Namjoon reached out to rub Yoongi’s arm. “We have enough room in our hearts for five boys and then some, so you don’t need to worry about there being too many. If Hoseok stays with us, then he’ll be the last new brother for a long while,” he promised.
Yoongi looked between his parents, and his face crumbled up. His fists uncurled, only for Yoongi to start wringing his hands together so tightly that it looked like it hurt. A moment later, broken sobs started wracking through his tiny frame.
Seokjin felt like the worst dad in the world. It was awful seeing Yoongi cry. The guilt was too much to bear. Seokjin ended up crossing the room to get to his soon-to-be-adopted son. His heart felt like bursting as he scooped Yoongi up and put him in his lap. “Oh, sugar... Oh, honey, you’re okay,” he promised. “You’re okay. We love you so much, you’re okay.”
“I don’t want anyone else here! I don’t want anyone at all, just you and Joonie,” Yoongi sounded mad for a moment, before collapsing into tears all over again. “J-Just you and J-Joonie.”
Namjoon stirred and took Yoongi out of Seokjin’s arms. Apparently, it was too hard for him to sit back and listen to Yoongi cry. Seokjin felt the exact same way, but he held back as Namjoon hugged Yoongi, rocking him back and forth in his lap. “You’ll always have me and Jin, sugar. You don’t need to cry,” he promised.
But cry Yoongi did.
He cried for a long time, shouting all the while about how unfair it was and about how much he hated it when new people came to steal his dads’ attention. In fact, it went on so long that Seokjin started to grow worried about the other boys.
Jeongguk was two; he couldn’t leave him alone for more than a few minutes. And while Jimin knew to come get him or Namjoon whenever Taehyung was shaking, Seokjin didn’t like to leave Tae for long either. Plus, all of this noise had definitely woken up Hoseok, and Seokjin needed to check on him.
“Hey, I need to go make sure everyone else is safe and happy,” Seokjin said, playing with Yoongi’s hair all the while. “Will you hang out with Yoongi until he’s better? I can go finish your French toast.”
Namjoon nodded. “Yeah. You go. Maybe we can do something fun later? It is Saturday, after all,” he suggested. Seokjin smiled.
“Yeah, that sounds like a plan.” He stood up from the bed, but bent over soon after to plant a kiss through Yoongi’s hair. “I love you, Yoongi. Everything is okay. You can meet Hoseok later, I think you’ll like him.”
Yoongi made an upset noise, but Namjoon was there to shush him. Seokjin stepped out into the hall, only to bump into Hoseok himself.
“Someone is crying,” Hoseok said, blinking up at Seokjin.
Seokjin laughed a little, noticing the dirt still caked behind Hoseok’s ears and his crazy bedhead. He had huge circles under his eyes, too. It was probably for the best that he woke up, though. Otherwise, he would never get to sleep that evening. “Yeah, that’s Yoongi. He’s a little sad today,” Seokjin said easily. He extended a hand out to Hoseok. “I was going to go downstairs and make some French toast, though. Do you want to come?”
Hoseok nodded and grabbed Seokjin’s hand. They slowly made their way down the stairs, and Hoseok hid behind Seokjin’s leg when he saw all of the younger boys playing in the living room.
“Boys,” Seokjin said, getting all of his foster sons’ attention. “This is Hoseok. Can you say hi?”
Jeongguk and Jimin rushed over as fast as their legs could carry them, which wasn’t very fast in Jeongguk’s case. He looked like he was running through tall grass whenever he toddled around. His knees went up a little too high as he tried to figure out walking gracefully. Meanwhile, Taehyung made his way over sluggishly, his blanket trailing after him. He reached up his arms to Seokjin to be picked up, and Seokjin gladly obliged.
“Hi, Hoseok! I’m Jimin! TaeTae calls me ChimChim sometimes. You can, too!” Jimin looked ecstatic as he spoke to Hoseok. Seokjin smiled. Jimin was great at making friends with everyone who came to the house. Hopefully, he would go a long way in making Hoseok feel welcomed.
“Hello!” Jeongguk said, although his Ls sounded like Ys. The letter L was a hard one for Jeongguk.
Hoseok looked warily between the two boys, and Seokjin smiled encouragingly at him. “Hoseok, this is Jimin and Jeongguk,” he said, gesturing to each of them. “And this here-“ He bounced Taehyung in his arms a few times, “-is Taehyung. He’s feeling sick today, but don’t worry, you won’t catch it,” he promised.
Hoseok nodded. His eyes fell on the big bin of foam blocks on the other side of the room, and Seokjin once again found himself smiling encouragingly.
“I’m going to go make breakfast for everyone because I’m sure you’re all feeling hungry,” Seokjin said. “I bet Jimin would love to build with blocks with you, though! And Jeongguk likes blocks, too! Do you wanna do that?”
All Hoseok had to do was give the most timid little nod, and Jimin immediately pulled Hoseok over to the block bin. Seokjin’s heart swelled with pride. He was so thankful to have a foster son as sweet and caring as Jimin.
Seokjin carried Taehyung into the kitchen and laid him down on the bench he and Namjoon had made out of their big bay window. Namjoon had picked fabric to look nice against the wallpaper, and Seokjin had sewn and stuffed a big pillow to fit perfectly. Taehyung liked to nap there while Seokjin worked in the kitchen.
In the end, Seokjin threw out whatever mess of a mixture Namjoon had been working on, and instead made pancakes. They would be a little easier on Taehyung’s stomach. He added blueberries to some for Yoongi, and he added chocolate chips to another batch for Jimin.
As he waited for bubbles to appear around the edges of the pancakes, he listened to the boys in the other room.
“Jeongguk, no... No! It’s not ready to be knocked over yet. Here you play with these blocks over here,” he could hear Jimin say, and Seokjin listened for any sign of frustration in Jimin’s voice. As adorable and loving as he could be, Seokjin was still re-teaching him how to deal with his anger. (Jimin’s previous parents hadn’t been the best examples.) “Hoseok! That looks great! You’re so good at building!”
Seokjin sighed in relief. Jimin seemed just peachy. He didn’t have anything to be worried about.
“That doesn’t look like French toast,” Namjoon said, appearing in the doorway of the kitchen. He had Yoongi strapped to his back, and Seokjin was glad for it. Yoongi loved piggyback rides.
“Yeah, well, your eggs had gotten kind of gross, and Taehyung honestly might be dying, so I thought pancakes might be better for him.”
Namjoon snorted and looked to Taehyung. “Are you dying, kid?” he asked as Taehyung managed to smash his face further into the bench.
“No,” Taehyung said. “I’m already dead.”
Seokjin snickered. Taehyung was certainly a dramatic little thing. “You’ll feel better after a pancake, buddy,” he promised. “Namjoon and Yoongi would you mind setting the table, while I call everyone in?” he asked.
“We’re on it,” Namjoon said with a mock salute. Yoongi did the same, mirroring his foster dad’s pose. Seokjin kissed them both on the cheek before leaving the kitchen to rally all the younger boys.
“Okie dokie, boys. It’s time to eat breakfast. I have pancakes for everyone,” he said, picking Jeongguk up from behind. If he didn’t physically separate the two-year-old from his toys, he would never come to the table. Jeongguk’s legs dangled in the air, and he kicked them happily.
“Chocolate chip?” Jimin asked.
Seokjin nodded seriously. “Of course.”
Jimin rushed off to the kitchen right away. Jeongguk squirmed in Seokjin’s arms, and he let Jeongguk down so he could chase after his older brother. Jeongguk always wanted to do everything Jimin wanted to do.
Seokjin noticed the frown on Hoseok’s face and was quick to reassure him. “Don’t worry, Hoseok, I have blueberry and plain flavored pancakes, too,” he promised. When Hoseok’s expression didn’t change, Seokjin continued. “I also have oatmeal, cereal, eggs, toast, the little toaster waffles... Do you want any of those instead?”
“Well, it would be good for you to eat something. You were so hungry last night,” Seokjin pointed out. “Do you not like pancakes? Is that why you’re upset?”
Hoseok looked down at his toes. “Dunno what they are,” he mumbled, and Seokjin hummed in understanding. Right. He was pretty sure Hoseok’s mom had fed him, but maybe she hadn’t fed him well.
“Okay,” Seokjin replied, processing for a moment. “Well, they’re really tasty, I think you’ll like them. Normally, we don’t eat too many sweets in this house, but pancakes are a good exception,” he promised. “It’s like dessert for breakfast.”
Hoseok brightened considerably at that. “Really?”
Seokjin nodded. “Yes, really! And afterwards, me and Joonie were thinking about taking you all out to do something fun. Yoongi is going to pick it out.”
“The one who was having a bad day?” Hoseok asked. He had a surprisingly good memory. Seokjin thought back to his poor attempt at letters the night before. If someone would take the time to teach Hoseok the alphabet, he was sure he would learn to write in no time at all.
Seokjin nodded. “Yep. Let’s go meet him and Namjoon, how about?”
Hoseok agreed easily, and he followed Seokjin into the kitchen. Hoseok seemed a little shy in the face of such a big family, but Seokjin knew everyone would take care of him.
Jeongguk already had a bib on and was locked into his dining booster at the table. He had just outgrown his highchair, but he still needed a little lift to make it to table height. Jimin, meanwhile, was ready to go. He was banging his plastic fork on the table excitedly, and Namjoon and Yoongi were imitating him just to be silly.
Seokjin cleared his throat. “Namjoon, Yoongi... This is Hoseok. He’s going to be staying with us for awhile,” Seokjin announced.
Yoongi immediately slumped at the table, but at least Namjoon was excited to finally meet Hoseok. He stood up from the table to greet him. “Hey, buddy. I’m Namjoon, but you can call me Joonie. I’m so happy to meet you!” he said kindly, holding his hand out for a high five.
Hoseok looked nervous for a second. He gave Namjoon a weak high five.
Namjoon arched his eyebrow. “Oh, come on. Harder than that,” he said. Hoseok gave him a better high five. “Harder than that!” Namjoon said again.
Hoseok seemed to perk up a little in excitement. He smacked Namjoon’s palm with all of his might. Namjoon quickly pulled his hand away.
“Ow, ow, ow!” he yelped pretending to be hurt. “Wow, you’re so strong! Can I see your muscles?” Hoseok giggled, flexing confidently. Jeongguk mirrored him in his booster seat –still at the age where he mimicked everything he saw- while Jimin bounced in his chair.
“I wanna try, I wanna try!” Jimin begged. Namjoon let Jimin give him high five after high five while Seokjin helped Hoseok get settled at the table.
“Is it breakfast time?” Yoongi asked. They were eating later than usual due to all the drama that morning. Seokjin huffed out a sigh, feeling hungry himself.
“Almost, let me just get Taehyung settled.” He picked Taehyung up and locked him into his special seat. Namjoon had laughed when he had bought Taehyung a chair that kept him from falling during an episode at the kitchen table, but it had come in handy too many times to count. Seokjin kissed Taehyung’s head when everything was said and done. “Okay, now who wants what kind of pancake?”
Everyone shouted the orders that Seokjin had expected. He dolled out chocolate chip to Jimin, plain to Jeongguk and Taehyung, blueberry to Yoongi and Namjoon, and one of each to Hoseok and himself.
It took ages, but finally Seokjin could feed himself. He sat down next to Yoongi and across from Hoseok. The little boy seemed to love his pancakes, especially the chocolate chip one. In fact, everyone at the table seemed happy except for Yoongi.
“How are you holding up, small stuff?” Seokjin asked Yoongi, watching as the seven-year-old picked at his pancakes. “I thought blueberry pancakes were your favorite.”
“They are,” Yoongi said. He looked so forlorn, but he also looked so very anxious. Seokjin wanted to sweep him up into his arms and never let go.
“I’m glad,” Seokjin promised. “Wanna know why I made them?”
Yoongi arched an eyebrow. His mouth was drawn into a cute little pout, but Seokjin could see a flash of curiosity in his eyes. He smiled and nuzzled into Yoongi’s cheek.
“Because I love you.”
It was enough to get a laugh out of Yoongi. He started in on his pancakes again with a newfound enthusiasm. Namjoon and Seokjin shared a smile over Yoongi’s head. Maybe they still had a long way to go before Yoongi felt comfortable in their house, but at least they were getting somewhere.
One day they would convince Yoongi he didn’t have to worry about things changing anymore. Soon, the adoption papers would be through, and Yoongi would be all theirs. For now, though, they just had to prove they loved him without the paperwork.
What could be wrong with Taehyung?
What is Jeongguk's story?
How were Jimin's parents bad examples?
Why did Namjoon and Seokjin choose to become foster parents?
Literally pick what you wanna learn next and I will write it next chapter.
Also my tumblr is thecheekybrunette.tumblr.com. Feel free to drop on by!
“Okay, who still needs sunscreen?” Seokjin asked. When he had first become a foster parent, Seokjin hadn’t thought he would be the type of dad to dress his kids in matching swimsuits and use organic suntan lotion. But that was before he realized how hard it was to keep track of more than one kid and how many chemicals were in regular sunscreen.
It was also before Seokjin knew what it meant to love such little people so damn much.
“Up!” Jeongguk demanded, waving one arm in the air to be carried. His other arm was busy clutching Elmo close to his ribs. Seokjin carefully took the plushie away from him and set it down nicely on the couch.
“Hold on there, Gukkie. You know that Elmo can’t come to the pool,” he said. “And before I lift you up, you need some sunscreen.”
Jeongguk made a face as Seokjin smeared sunscreen on his forehead, nose, and cheeks. He didn’t stop pouting when Seokjin rubbed regular lotion on his skinny arms and legs. Seokjin frowned exaggeratedly to copy Jeongguk, hoping to get a smile out of him. Jeongguk giggled happily. “Jinnie!” he cheered, putting a hand on Seokjin’s frown.
“Gukkie!” Seokjin replied against Jeongguk’s fingers. Jeongguk’s hands were so cute. He was still young enough that he didn’t have any dexterity in his fingers; it was all he could do to close his hands into fists. He had just learned to use a spoon, and when he did use one, it was beyond messy. Still, Seokjin was proud of both himself and Jeongguk for the two-year-old’s ability to feed himself. They both had to work hard to do it.
“I have polkie-dots on my pants!” Jeongguk exclaimed, removing his hand from Seokjin’s mouth so he could grip at his swimsuit.
Seokjin grinned. “You do,” he said happily, turning Jeongguk around so he could get his back. “It’s exciting to have polka dot pants, huh?”
“Jin,” Namjoon said, getting his attention from the opposite side of the room. “You’re doing your crinkly-eyed smile,” he said fondly, and Seokjin beamed that much harder.
“I’m just excited to go to the pool,” he promised.
“Pool!” exclaimed Taehyung. He seemed to be feeling a bit better after breakfast and was currently running around the living room in circles with Jimin hot on his heels. “Pool, pool, pool, pool!”
“Caught you,” Namjoon said, plucking Taehyung up and off the ground as he ran by. “If you wanna go swimming, we have to get you into the car.”
Seokjin would love to take the boys to the pool every day in the summer, but there was no way he could do it without Namjoon. The kids outnumbered him five to one. Most of them were constantly on the brink of drowning. (Jimin loved to throw himself into the big kid pool without anyone there to catch him.) So even if Seokjin wanted to take the boys swimming on weekdays, he usually had to wait until the weekend when Namjoon was free to help out.
They carted all the kids out to the car. Seokjin was strapping in a new car seat for Hoseok –the rest of the boys were happily tucked into their seats- while Namjoon carried out a cooler filled with picnic equipment. Seokjin had packed so much -hummus, and pretzels, and carrots, and celery, and apple slices, and strawberries, and juice, and sippy cups...- that the cooler had become too heavy for him to carry. “Do you want to take the kiddie pool today? Or the big kid pool?” Seokjin asked Namjoon, but Yoongi answered the question.
“I want to go swimming with Joonie!” Yoongi demanded, and Seokjin nodded.
“I’m sure Namjoon would love to swim with you, sugar,” Seokjin promised. ‘Sugar’ was a special nickname for Yoongi and Yoongi alone. “Hoseok, do you think you would like going swimming with Namjoon in the big kid pool?” he asked.
Hoseok squirmed. He was wearing his dirty sneakers from the night before, but Seokjin had been sure to give him a swimsuit to match everyone else’s. He wanted to give Hoseok the chance to keep track of his own possessions, but he also didn’t want him to feel excluded. Who knew how long Hoseok would get to stay with them?
“I don’t want to swim,” he said awkwardly.
Seokjin frowned, dusting his hands off after the booster seat was strapped into place. “Well, you don’t have to. You can sit in the sun for a bit if you want. Or you can put your feet in the water with me while I watch Taehyung and Jeongguk.”
Hoseok hummed and touched his toes. “Just feet?”
Seokjin ruffled Hoseok’s hair when the five year old stood up straight. He let him climb up into his car seat on his own. “You could put just a toe in, and that would be okay,” Seokjin promised.
“Even just a pinky toe?”
Seokjin smiled. “Yep!”
“Even just a middle toe?”
“Even just a big toe?”
Hoseok was full on giggling now. Meanwhile, Yoongi looked displeased. He was in the back seat of their very full, nine-seater van. (Honestly, their family looked like a school field trip every time they left the house. Jin felt like he was driving a bus.)
“Yoongi, no pouting. We’re going to the swimming pool for you,” Seokjin reminded him. “And you’re going to swim with Namjoon, and you’re going to have lots of fun.” When Yoongi still looked upset –his eyes flickering between Seokjin and Hoseok- Seokjin waggled a finger at him. “I don’t have to come back there and kiss you do I? Do you need a kiss attack?”
Yoongi’s eyes sparkled. His face lit up as he laughed. “No!” he yelped, putting his hands up to ward off Seokjin. However, he forgot about Namjoon sorting things out in the trunk right behind him. Namjoon looped his arms around Yoongi from behind, leaning over the backseat to do it. He pressed at least thirty kisses to Yoongi’s cheek while he squealed happily. “No, no, no!”
Seokjin smiled. “Wow, Yoongi has had a tickle attack and a kiss attack in one day,” Seokjin said, seat belting Hoseok into place. “Who else needs kisses?”
“Me!” Jimin yelped, sitting up as straight as his car seat would allow.
“You got it, kid,” Seokjin promised, stretching over Hoseok to press a kiss to Jimin’s cheek. “You doing all right?”
“Yep!” Jimin said brightly. “We’re going swimming!”
“We are!” Jin replied enthusiastically. “Everybody watch your hands, I’m going to shut the doors so we can go,” he said, taking everyone’s fingers into account before slamming the door to the van closed. Within a few minutes, they were on their way to the pool.
“These sprinklers are new,” Namjoon said, hands on his hips as he watched their kids diving between all the new sprinkler systems. There were flowers spraying mist, geysers shooting up on irregular intervals, tunnels spurting water from all angels... Their family hadn’t even touched either of the pools yet; they were so occupied with all the new sprinkler equipment. Namjoon grinned. “They’re having the time of their lives.
“I was worried that all that work to get them ready wouldn’t be worth it, but look how much fun they’re having,” Seokjin said, happy to see that all of his boys were having fun. However, it was hard for him to smile. It was good to see Hoseok enjoying himself on his first day at their house, and Yoongi had definitely perked up, but-
“Taehyung is going to be fine,” Namjoon said, as if reading his thoughts.
“It only takes inches of water to drown,” Seokjin said, unable to help himself. “If he fell face forward-“
“You’d be there to pick him up,” Namjoon interrupted. “Or I would be there. Or a lifeguard. Or even Jimin and Yoongi, they’ve seen enough of Taehyung’s seizures to know to roll him onto his side.”
Seokjin frowned. He didn’t want to hold Taehyung back from having a full, happy childhood. The poor thing had been uprooted from his family when he was two and a half; the least Seokjin could do was let him have a fun day playing at the pool.
But Taehyung had epilepsy. And while his seizures only happened once or twice a week, it was still scary to take him out to places like these where he could so easily hurt himself. All Seokjin could think about was Taehyung falling face first into a puddle or pool mid-seizure and drowning.
“I just... I worry,” Seokjin admitted, and Namjoon put an arm around his shoulder.
“Honestly? Same,” Namjoon admitted. “But he shouldn’t be worried, you know? Tae’s such a happy kid, I think it’s important that we keep him that way.”
“Jinnie! Look!” Taehyung shouted from the other side of the sprinklers. It was like he knew his foster dads were talking about him. He was standing on a geyser so that the water bubbled out from between his toes. Seokjin smiled, and rushed through the freezing cold sprinklers to get to him.
“Wow, TaeTae! That’s so cool!”
“You try,” Taehyung demanded, grabbing Jin’s hand and pulling him to switch places. Jin’s much larger foot managed to clog the pipe entirely, and he felt the water pressure build up under his heel. “Jinnie! The water’s all gone!”
“You’re right! Stand back, Taehyung,” Seokjin instructed before moving his foot. The water shot up into the air twice as high as before, and Taehyung squealed when it fell back down on top of his head. His already wet hair was now dripping.
Seokjin stayed with Taehyung for a while. He always felt better when they were standing next to each other; that way he could be at Taehyung’s side in a moment’s notice if he were to have a seizure. But he also didn’t want to suffocate him. Kids needed time away from adults to learn how to problem solve and do things on their own. Seokjin couldn’t be with him all of the time.
But he figured playing in the sprinklers with his foster son couldn’t be that bad, especially considering the neglect Taehyung had faced in his last home.
Seokjin had never even heard of medical neglect until Taehyung was brought to their door. It had been the most stressful day of Seokjin’s life. Jeongguk had barely been a year old, Jimin was still having angry outbursts, Yoongi’s anxiety was at an all time high, and the social worker had told Seokjin that he had to somehow safely house a two-year-old with epilepsy.
Namjoon had to take off work for three days just to keep Seokjin from having a mental breakdown.
Fortunately, their baby proofing for Jeongguk had been helpful for keeping Taehyung safe. Seokjin was pretty sure Taehyung would be seventeen-years-old before he would dare to take the baby bumpers off the corners of the coffee table. Honestly, Seokjin would always be a little on edge when it came to Taehyung. However, he was pretty sure an overprotective set of foster parents was better than the biological parents Taehyung had before.
It had been Taehyung’s daycare counselors that had brought his case to his social worker. They had seen Taehyung have seizures in class. His parents refused to get treatment for him, always saying he was “fine.” But this became a problem when Taehyung was turning blue from not breathing and showing up to daycare with bruises from hitting his head and elbows when he fell to the floor.
It was obvious he had needed to go to the hospital, but his parents refused to take him. Their two-year-old son had purple lips from not breathing during his seizures, and they wouldn’t take him to the doctors’.
Seokjin had no idea why. He had never met Taehyung’s parents; they never cared to meet either him or Namjoon. They didn’t seem to care about Taehyung at all, which confused Seokjin to no end. He cared about Taehyung the minute he showed up on his doorstep. He had the biggest brown eyes and the cutest little face. It had only been so stressful to take care of him because Seokjin couldn’t stand the idea of seeing him hurt. He was definitely going to be the case of Seokjin’s first grey hairs, but he was worth it.
So, so worth it.
“Oh, Jeongguk, careful, careful,” Seokjin said, scooping him up underneath his armpits before he could throw himself into the shallow end of the pool. “Do you think it’s time to go swimming? Do you?”
“Yes!” Jeongguk said, kicking his feet until Seokjin set him on his hip. Jeongguk was soaking wet, but Seokjin didn’t mind holding him close. He’d held Jeongguk when he was covered in worse things than pool water.
Taehyung pulled on Seokjin’s swim trunks. Today, Taehyung was sticking as close to Seokjin as Seokjin was sticking to Taehyung. “Can we play submarines?”
“Of course,” Seokjin agreed. He had brought tons of little divers to throw into the bottom of the kiddie pool. Yoongi and Jimin liked them, too, but there were plenty for them to play with too when they got bored of the sprinklers. Namjoon would handle it. He was better with the older kids, anyway (if only because babies stressed him and he was still confused by dirty diapers).
Seokjin set Jeongguk down and grabbed both his and Taehyung’s hand. They walked at a snail’s pace to the kiddie pool. Seokjin couldn’t help but laugh at their tiny legs trying to motor as fast as possible. It was so cute.
“Careful as you get into the pool,” Seokjin said, keeping a hold on their hands as they maneuvered down the first step of the pool. Jeongguk immediately started kicking and splashing, while Taehyung took a second to sit down and chill out. Today was a big day for Taehyung. His epilepsy medication usually tuckered him out, so fun days at the pool usually left him exhausted.
“Can we still play submarines?” Taehyung asked, hanging off the side of the kiddie pool. Seokjin was sitting on the edge. He dipped his ankles in the water.
“Sure,” he agreed, throwing a pink diving ring into the pool. Taehyung grinned a goofy grin at Seokjin before sinking under the foot deep water.
“Me, too!” Jeongguk begged, splashing away from the new friends he had made on the other side of the pool. “Me, too!”
Seokjin laughed at Jeongguk’s hopeful face. He pressed a kiss to his forehead and tossed a couple of extra rings into the pool. It didn’t take long for all of the other toddlers in the pool to start collecting the rings, too. Fortunately, neither Taehyung nor Jeongguk seemed upset when Seokjin’s attention was divided amongst several other little kids.
“Geez, you make friends wherever you go,” Namjoon said, sneaking up behind him.
Seokjin twisted around. He grabbed Namjoon’s wrist and pulled him down for a kiss. “Kids love me. I’m cute and inviting,” he said by means of explanation. “But you’re also really cute. I love you with wet hair.”
Namjoon slicked back his baby pink bangs. “You’re more than cute.” He had a cheesy grin on his face. “You’re gorgeous,” Namjoon promised, before capturing Seokjin’s lips in a much more satisfying kiss. Only Namjoon would kiss someone like that by the side of a kiddie pool. He pulled away and kissed Seokjin’s nose, cheeks, and forehead. “I think it’s lunch time.”
Seokjin snorted. “I can’t tell if that’s a bizarre innuendo or if you’re actually hungry.”
Namjoon put a hand on his heart, affronted. His other hand was between Seokjin’s shoulder blades. “Jin... You would know if I was trying to come onto you,” he gasped.
Seokjin paused their conversation to toss some rings back into the pool for some waiting toddlers (including Taehyung and Jeongguk). He turned back to look at Namjoon. “I haven’t always known before.”
“You’re right, you’re right, I’m lying,” Seokjin promised. “I’m also hilarious, and hot, and you love me.”
“I also love your cooking, and so do our four children,” Namjoon replied.
“Five children,” Seokjin corrected, watching Hoseok run around in the sprinklers with no small amount of fear. He tried to stop imagining him slipping and cracking his head open on the sidewalk.
“Five children,” Namjoon agreed, nodding.
Seokjin smiled. “Are you as smitten with Hoseok as I am, then? Because I think I might fight his mom to let me keep him, he’s so soft spoken and cute,” he said. Seokjin was exhausted –exhausted- but he was still enjoying getting to know Hoseok. He had seemed a little reserved so far, but Seokjin could tell that once he opened up, he’d fit perfectly into their family.
“I’m definitely smitten, but he seems more energetic than soft spoken. He’s been running around, laughing, yelling...” Namjoon trailed off. “... Maybe he just needed to get sprayed by a giant, misting flower to show his true colors.”
“Or maybe he’s both,” Seokjin said. “Sometimes kids are both.”
“Sometimes kids are hungry,” Namjoon corrected just as Jeongguk swam over.
“Hungry?” Jeongguk asked, climbing out of the pool. Seokjin smiled, realizing that their kids definitely needed lunch if they were going to have any semblance of a schedule today.
“Yes,” Seokjin said. “Everyone is hungry, but first there needs to be some diaper changes. Both you and TaeTae.”
Namjoon rubbed his back a little. “You go change the boys and I’ll go set out lunch?” he asked, and Seokjin nodded.
“Sure! Everyone gets three carrot sticks, two celery sticks, a sandwich baggie of pretzels, and a little tub of hummus,” he listed as he collected their pool toys. “Except Yoongi has the package of pretzel sticks.”
“Oh, believe me,” Namjoon said. “I know what pretzels Yoongi likes.”
“Then we’re all set! C’mon, Taehyungie! Let’s got get a diaper change!” he said cheerily. Taehyung swam over, and Seokjin picked him up, blowing bubbles on his stomach. He somehow managed to stand with both Taehyung and Jeongguk in his arms. They stopped by their table to grab the diaper bag and headed off to the bathroom.
Taehyung should really be potty-trained, but it was difficult. He often had accidents during his seizures and the medications he had been on did nothing good for his digestive system. Seokjin didn’t want to put him in underwear until they found a medication that worked without giving him an upset stomach. He had thought he would teach Taehyung and Jeongguk at the same time, but Jeongguk was ready. Jeongguk was good to go. He could be potty trained by the end of the week.
It was looking like Taehyung would have to learn after Jeongguk.
“Okay, you boys know the drill. Don’t touch anything,” Seokjin directed as they stepped into the bathroom. He stuck Jeongguk up on the changing table first. Usually he would kiss Jeongguk’s toes while he got him changed, but right now they were a little muddy from walking across the grass to the bathroom. Instead he changed him quickly, worried that Taehyung would get into the trash or a urinal.
“This one has Mickey and Minnie on it,” Jeongguk said, pointing at the picture on the swim diaper.
Seokjin hummed. “You’re right! That’s because this one is special, it’s just for swimming- Taehyung, don’t touch that!” he said, cutting himself off. Taehyung looked back at him from where was reaching towards the trash for some dirty paper towels. Seokjin quick slipped on Jeongguk’s diaper and swim trunks. “Come here, Tae, let me change you.”
“It’s Mickey and Minnie!” Jeongguk exclaimed, tugging down his shorts. Seokjin huffed out a sigh, staring down at his pants-less two-year-old. Parenting was all fun and games until public restrooms got involved.
“Okay,” Seokjin said, white-knuckling the bottom of the passenger seat. “We’re going to get home. We’re going to put these kids to bed. Jimin won’t have an episode. Taehyung won’t have an episode. It doesn’t matter that everyone’s tired, and everyone’s screaming-“
“Jinnie! I’m hungry! I want chocolate almonds!” Jimin screeched from the back seat. His little face was bright red.
Everyone’s schedule was off by an hour. Seokjin really should have had everyone lying down for a nap twenty minutes ago, but he had thought with how late breakfast and lunch had been, the boys could stay awake a little longer than usual.
He had thought wrong.
“Jimin,” Namjoon said, his stern parenting voice activated. “We’ve already told you, no more snacks before dinner. It’s going to be naptime when we get home, and when you wake up, it’ll be time to eat again.”
“But I want a snack now!” Jimin wailed.
Seokjin opened his mouth to respond, but a crying Taehyung cut him off. “I don’t feel good,” he sniffled. He was limp in his car seat, crying his eyes out. Seokjin cooed.
“Oh, Taehyung, sweetie, I know. You’re just tired. This new medicine makes you sleepy, but you’re going to be okay,” he promised.
Jimin shrilled a little louder and a little higher in the back seat, frustrated that he wasn’t being paid more attention. He took his sippy cup and whipped it towards the front of the car. If Seokjin hadn’t been turned in his seat to talk to Taehyung, he wouldn’t have seen it coming. He also wouldn’t have been able to catch it before it sailed through the front windshield.
“Park Jimin,” Seokjin snapped, holding the sippy cup where he caught it: inches away from the side of Namjoon’s head. They could have easily gotten in an accident because of Jimin’s outburst, and there was going to be consequences. “You know that’s no way to behave. What do we do when we’re angry? Do we throw things?”
Jimin’s eyes were wide, alarmed by Seokjin’s tone. Normally, Seokjin was calm and patient. Jimin squirmed. “No.”
“No, that’s right,” Seokjin replied. “What are we supposed to do when we’re mad?”
“Use our words.”
“Right,” Seokjin replied. “What on earth were you thinking when you threw this cup up here?” Jimin didn’t answer. Seokjin held back a string of curse words. The kids weren’t the only ones who needed naps; the lack of sleep from Hoseok coming last night was really starting to catch up with Seokjin. He was about to pass out. “Jimin, we could have gotten in an accident. Everyone in this car would have been hurt, including you. You can’t throw things in the car; you can’t hurt other people.”
Jimin kicked at his car seat, his mouth pinched into a frown. There were twin tear tracks rolling down his face, and Seokjin sighed.
“When you wake up, you’re going to have a time out,” Seokjin said.
Jimin looked scandalized. “No!”
“Yes. You can’t throw things in the car. You know that’s not okay, we’ve talked about it,” Seokjin said. He usually gave warnings before giving out timeouts, but Jimin knew better and that had been dangerous. Seokjin had too many kids to worry about to let Jimin get away with throwing sippy cups in the car.
Jimin was wailing as they pulled into the driveway, but Seokjin was quick to pick him up and hold him close. He bounced him in his arms a bit, helping to calm him down.
Everyone needed baths before naptime, and Seokjin could have punched himself for letting their family get into this mess. “Two at a time. Jimin and Taehyung first,” Namjoon suggested, running the bathwater.
Seokjin agreed. He sung under his breath while they bathed the crying boys. He could hear Jeongguk chatting away with Hoseok while they played with toy trains on the floor of Seokjin and Namjoon’s bedroom. He wished he was out there instead of with a sobbing Jimin and Taehyung. They were so loud, and Seokjin’s head hurt so badly from exhaustion.
Once they were all dried and in pajamas, Namjoon offered to wash of Hoseok and Jeongguk if Seokjin would put Jimin and Taehyung down.
It was easier said than done.
Seokjin bounced Jimin and Taehyung in his arms until they both tired themselves out and fell asleep on his shoulders. Seokjin was pretty sure God made him broad-shouldered so that there was enough room for two little boys to fall asleep on him. He kissed away their tear tracks as he laid them down in their beds.
Namjoon peaked his head into the doorway of Taehyung and Jimin’s shared room just as Seokjin was tucking Jimin in. “You got it?” Namjoon asked quietly.
Seokjin yawned. “Yeah,” he whispered back. “Let’s let them sleep for as long as they want. Our schedule has been thrown out the window anyway.”
“You can say that again,” Namjoon mumbled as they snuck downstairs. Yoongi was lying on the couch. Seokjin nudged him over so he could lie with him.
“I think we need something relaxing to watch,” Seokjin suggested. “Yoongi, do you wanna watch Bob Ross? The painting show?”
Yoongi scrubbed at one of his eyes, and Seokjin noticed that he was in pajamas. He smelled like coconut body wash and orange mango smoothie shampoo: all clean. Seokjin held up his hand for Namjoon for a high-five. His husband really came through when it came to taking care of the kids.
“I like painting,” Yoongi said. He was seven-years-old, he didn’t need naptime, but Seokjin had a feeling that all the crying from this morning had really worn him out.
Seokjin pulled Yoongi up onto his chest, letting the younger boy lie on top of him. He pressed a kiss through Yoongi’s hair as he flipped on the show. Bob Ross was the most calming thing Seokjin could think of. Maybe both he and Yoongi could get some rest. “You’re a good boy, Yoongi. I love you so much, don’t you ever forget it,” Seokjin said, fighting back a yawn.
“I won’t,” Yoongi said very seriously.
Seokjin hummed. He fell asleep lying on the couch with Yoongi cozied up on his chest.
I feel like I need to add some varying prose style to this. Everything has kind of been the same.
There WILL be some minor drama to come. I swear this has a plot!
Let me know who you're curious about, per usual, and come hit up my tumblr @thecheekybrunette if you have questions or thoughts!
Chapter 4: Abused...
Hey, so this is like a freaking multi-media production over here! I have some audio and video for reference during this chapter!
2.Here is an audio post of me singing the song Seokjin sings for Jeongguk. (I actually hate myself, why did I do this)(Fun fact: I sang to a teddy bear to make me feel less weird.)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Hey, babe?” Namjoon called. Seokjin looked away from the kids for a moment. The boys were all out in the cul-de-sac with their tiny tricycles, and while the neighbors knew to check for kids before they pulled out of their driveways, Seokjin still worried.
There was a crashing noise from somewhere inside the garage. A split second later, Namjoon emerged with six bicycle helmet straps hanging from his hands. “Do we need all of these extra bike helmets?” he asked, wiping sweat off his brow with his elbow. The helmets clanked against his sides.
Seokjin huffed out a sigh. “Well, I mean... yeah. Gukkie’s head gets bigger every day; soon his helmet will be too small. Soon all of their helmets will be too small.”
“But do we really need six?” Namjoon asked. Seokjin didn’t answer verbally. Sometimes the right look could say more than words ever could. Namjoon huffed out a sigh. “Okay, okay, six,” he agreed, putting them into the pile of things they were keeping. He stared into their messy garage hopelessly. “Geez, when did we accumulate so much crap?”
“I don’t know, but I’m proud of you for sorting through it all,” Seokjin promised, blowing a kiss to Namjoon from his spot sipping iced tea.
Namjoon snorted. He had been grumpy all afternoon. It had been raining earlier, and he had been frustrated when he couldn’t pull his car into the garage. It was too messy, what with all the strewn about jump ropes and Frisbees. After a long day of music producing at his job in Philadelphia, the last thing Namjoon needed was a walk in the rain. Seokjin could understand why he was angry.
Fortunately, however, Namjoon had always been a man of action, so instead of complaining, he waited for the rain to stop and then immediately stormed outside to clean out the garage.
Seokjin, meanwhile, was taking a well-deserved break.
He loved Hoseok, but the house had certainly gotten louder after he had moved in. It had taken him a few days to open up, but now that he had, he was a whirlwind of energy. He was giving Seokjin whiplash. One second, he was happy and running around with Jimin, and the next second he was crying because he missed his mommy. It was hard work keeping up with him. Plus, Seokjin had four other kids to worry about, each with their own problems.
Seokjin needed an hour to sit and read, so he was taking one. He sat back in one of his Adirondack chairs. His eyes flickered between his book and his boys.
“By the way,” Namjoon said, interrupting his reading. “I was thinking that tomorrow I could come home a little early and let you get out of the house for a little bit. Wednesdays are usually slow for me, so it should be easy to sneak out of the studio,” Namjoon offered. Seokjin’s heart melted.
“That would be lovely,” he said. “And also very, very necessary.”
Namjoon nodded. “Yeah, you should treat yourself to a spa day or something... Or, you know, what? Maybe save it for Thursday and we can get a couple’s massage,” he suggested. Thursday was date night, and while it would be hard to wait, Seokjin would rather get a massage with Namjoon than alone any day.
“You’re full of good ideas today,” Seokjin said, his chest tightening. Sometimes he forgot how over the moon he was for Namjoon, and it would come crashing down on him all at once. “Seriously, like... This all wouldn’t work if you weren’t as helpful, and supportive, and accommodating as you are. I love you so much. You’re being so great, per usual.”
“Jin, are you kidding? You’re the one who holds this place together, I’m not even sure if I could survive without you.”
Seokjin felt butterflies in his stomach. It was nice to get some recognition for all of his hard work. Namjoon was so encouraging, and he always put credit where credit was due. “You’re ridicu- Jimin! Jimin, honey, no. You know better than that!”
Seokjin leapt off his chair and rushed over to Jimin and Jeongguk. Jimin had shoved the two-year-old off of his tricycle when Jeongguk had crossed into his path and refused to move.
Seokjin kneeled down next to the two boys. “He wasn’t moving,” Jimin said with a pout.
Seokjin huffed out a sigh and picked up a crying Jeongguk. “Do you need ice? Or just a snuggle?” he asked, brushing Jeongguk’s bangs off his forehead.
“J-J-J-Just a-a-a sn-snuggle,” Jeongguk stammered, and Seokjin cooed.
“Oh, Gukkie... Don’t you worry, I’ve got plenty of snuggles to go around.” He kissed Jeongguk’s cheek. He was dirty from rolling around in the wet grass earlier and he was salty from tears, but Seokjin only held him closer. “You’re okay... You’re okay, I’ve got you. I’m right here, you’re okay.”
As Jeongguk’s gasping sobs turned into cute little huffs on Seokjin’s neck, Seokjin turned to Jimin. The four-year-old looked traumatized, his big eyes blown as wide as they could be. “I didn’t mean to!” Jimin said, his face screwed up in a frown. “I didn’t mean to make him sad, I didn’t!”
Seokjin nodded. “I know you didn’t, pumpkin. Just hold on, we’re going to have a talk, okay?”
Jimin’s nose crinkled, but he didn’t complain. Meanwhile, Jeongguk seemed to relax. He was a sturdy little guy; he was just shaken from being pushed over. He kicked his way out of Seokjin’s arms. “Ready,” he said, toddling over to his bike.
“Up you go!” Seokjin scooped Jeongguk up and sat him in his tricycle. Once he had peddled away, Seokjin decided to deal with Jimin.
Jimin seemed so scared and guilty. Seokjin huffed out a sigh. “Jimin, sweetheart, you know what you did was wrong, right?” he asked. Jimin nodded, sniffling a little bit. Seokjin thought for a moment. “Okay, how about we play our favorite game?”
“The guessing game?” Jimin asked, going from scared to excited in two seconds flat.
Seokjin nodded. “Yeah. Why don’t you go sit in my chair, and I’ll go get our things, okay?”
“Okay!” Jimin agreed, immediately doing as he was told. Jimin was obedient; he did everything Seokjin asked. He used to obey just because he was scared, and sometimes Seokjin felt like he still might be. However, he seemed to trust Seokjin and Namjoon not to hurt him.
Jimin had every reason to be worried, though.
When Jimin had showed up on Seokjin and Namjoon’s doorstep, he had been covered in bruises. Covered.
His social worker had mentioned that she had her eye on Jimin for a while. His neighbors had called the police multiple times about a toddler walking with a limp and sporting black eyes. However, it wasn’t until the neighbors saw Jimin’s parents push him down their deck stairs that social services were able to remove him from the household.
Jimin’s social worker had found him lying in the grass at the bottom of the steps. He hadn’t moved since his parents pushed him.
Jimin was brought to their home after a stop at the hospital. Seokjin had never held someone more carefully. Jimin had a purple cast on his shin and an orange one on his arm, and every inch of him had looked like it was hurting. But despite how much pain the then two-year-old must have been in, there was still a giant smile on his face.
Jimin still smiled. And Seokjin was still careful when he held him.
“Namjoon, watch the kids while I go get some things for Jimin,” Seokjin asked as he walked through the garage and into the house. It was already looking much cleaner from all of Namjoon’s hard work.
“Sure thing!” Namjoon said, leaving the basket of kneepads he had been sorting through to keep an eye on the boys. When Seokjin came back outside with Jimin’s things, Namjoon was giving Hoseok a piggyback ride while Taehyung, Yoongi and Jeongguk chased him on their bicycles.
“Okay, Jimin you turn around, okay? I’m going to touch you with one of the things from this box, and you have to guess what it is.”
Jimin nodded quickly, a smile pushing up on his chubby cheeks. “Yes, Jinnie!” he agreed. “I can do it!”
Seokjin smiled. “I know you can.”
Seokjin pulled a feather out from the box and used it to lightly brush against the back of Jimin’s neck and arms. It was a stupid activity, but it was supposed to help with aggression in young kids, and Seokjin was desperate.
Jimin was the sweetest kid. He sang happy little songs while he played; he listened to everything his foster parents said. He always tried new foods and ate his vegetables, and he never complained when Seokjin washed his hair. But he had a tendency to use violence to get what he wanted.
It wasn’t Jimin’s fault. His first set of parents had always hit Jimin to make him behave. As a baby, Jimin was taught to be good with aggression, and it showed, even though Seokjin had been teaching him otherwise for the past two and a half years.
This activity was supposed to help Jimin learn what touch was supposed to be like: gentle and caring. Every time they did it, Seokjin had to admit that he saw a difference in Jimin’s behaviors. He had caught him lightly petting Jeongguk’s hair and rubbing a sleepy Taehyung’s side; actions that would usually involve a little more force if Jimin was left to his own devices.
“That one’s easy!” Jimin said, twisting around. He grinned. “You always do the feather first!”
“I do, don’t I?” Seokjin said. “Maybe I’ll have to be more tricky.”
“This game is easy,” Jimin said proudly, turning around again. He was holding onto his ankles, and Seokjin had to be careful not to coo about how cute he was. Jimin was so small and sweet. Seokjin hoped one day, Jimin would be softer with his hands to show how kind and adorable he was to people who didn’t know him as well.
“All right, well what’s this one?” Seokjin asked, using a paintbrush on the back of Jimin’s neck. He was careful to be gentle.
“That feels good, Jinnie,” Jimin said distractedly. He scrubbed his nose on his arm. “Maybe it’s the paint brush?”
“It is the paint brush!” Seokjin exclaimed. Jimin started cheering immediately, proud of himself. Seokjin was proud of him, too. “Okay, okay, now hold on, what’s this one?” he asked, using a little stuffed octopus’s tentacles this time.
Jimin frowned. “Um... Um... I don’t know.”
“You can do it, Jimin. You’re so smart!”
“Is it fingers?”
“No... I’ll give you a hint. It lives under the sea.”
Jimin gasped and whirled around. “It’s an octopus!” he exclaimed.
“You’re right!” Seokjin replied, catching Jimin when the four-year-old threw himself into his arms. He planted a bunch of kisses into Jimin’s hair. “You did so good. Do you wanna keep playing?”
Seokjin kept playing the silly little game with Jimin in his lap. He noticed the way Jimin lightly caressed his knee as they played, and Seokjin smiled. Jimin was definitely learning. Even if it was slow going, he was learning how to touch nicely, and that was definite progress.
It was humid, but Seokjin wrapped his arms around Jimin anyway, trapping him in his lap. Jimin squirmed and squealed as Seokjin peppered the back of his neck with kisses. “Jinnie! Jinnie, stop!”
“Okay,” Seokjin agreed, but he didn’t let Jimin go. Instead, he slung him under one arm. Jimin laughed, his legs and arms dangling by Seokjin’s hip. “I think you and me should go make some dinner, what do you say?”
“Mmm, I was thinking pasta with broccoli and chicken. That would be good for everybody,” Seokjin said. Pasta was good for everyone –from two-year-olds to thirty-year-olds– and with everything cut up and mixed in, everyone would be more likely to eat their vegetables (Namjoon included).
“Can it be the curly noodles?” Jimin asked. Meanwhile, Seokjin turned him around in his arms to sit him upright. Jimin’s smile only grew as Seokjin bounced him on his hip. His cheeks were just so big and precious. Seokjin could eat him up.
“If you want curly noodles, then we’ll have curly noodles,” Seokjin replied, smiling just as squinty-eyed as Jimin.
Yoongi squirmed next to Seokjin. “Jin,” he said, pulling on Seokjin’s shirt.
Dinner would only take as long as it took for the pasta to boil, so Seokjin left Namjoon outside with the kids. He would call them all inside when everything was almost ready to give them some time to take off their helmets and shoes.
However, Yoongi had followed Seokjin inside already. Yoongi was Seokjin's shadow. The seven-year-old was always pressed to his side and following him around. Sometimes Yoongi got under his feet, but for the most part, Seokjin didn’t mind having a little buddy with him all the time.
“Yes, Sugar?” Seokjin asked distractedly. He was a little busy stir-frying broccoli and chicken for the pasta.
“Do you love me?”
Seokjin dropped what he was doing immediately. He turned down the heat so the food wouldn’t burn before turning to his foster son. “Yoongi, honey, of course. You don’t have to keep asking,” he promised, crouching to put a hand on Yoongi’s shoulder and look him straight in the eye. “I love you so much.”
“But you have Hoseok.”
“Because Hoseok needs a place to stay,” Seokjin explained.
Yoongi pouted. “You say that every time.”
“Because every time it’s true,” Seokjin said, feeling a little panicked. He picked Yoongi up and sat him on the counter. He looked directly at him, not letting Yoongi look down at his toes when he tried. “Yoongi, you remember how hard it was for you before you came to live with me and Namjoon right?” he asked. Yoongi nodded hesitantly. “Well, would you want Jimin to live in a house like one of yours?”
“...No,” Yoongi replied.
“Okay, well what about Taehyung?”
“No.” Yoongi’s face screwed up. “But there are nice houses that aren’t here! Hoseok should go to one of those. This is my house, and there’s gonna be too many people, and he’s gonna be mean to me, and he’s messy, and- and- and-“ Yoongi’s bottom lip wobbled as he started to cry.
“Oh, sugar... Sugar, no,” Seokjin cooed. “Hoseok is a sweet kid. And Joon and I have enough room in our hearts and house for him. And he’s just as messy as Jimin, Taehyung, and Jeongguk, but that’s okay. That’s okay because we clean up here. We clean up when things are messy.”
“But what if you stop?” Yoongi sniffled. “What if things keep piling up and then there’s toys and clothes all around, and I’m in the middle?”
“No, that’s not going to happen,” Seokjin said definitively. “Namjoon just today cleaned the garage up because it was getting a little messy. When things are messy, we clean them.”
“But what if Hoseok doesn’t?”
“He will because I will tell him to, and I’m the adult,” Seokjin promised.
“But what if Hoseok is mean?”
Seokjin sighed. He pressed his forehead against Yoongi’s for a second. “Yoongi. I am going to protect you, okay? That’s why Namjoon and I are adopting you: so you can stay with us, and we can look over you. This is a good house. You can trust us.”
Yoongi was breathing hard as tears streamed down his face. It hurt Seokjin to see him so anxious. This isn’t what he wanted for Yoongi. He wanted him to be a happy smiley kid, despite what had happened to him. Jimin and Taehyung... They both were so cheerful and giggly even after everything, but Yoongi was constantly living in fear. “I just want you and-and-and-and Joon,” he sobbed. “No one else!”
“Yoongi, sugar. You have me and Joon. Just calm down, okay? You’re okay. Everything is okay.”
Seokjin stayed with Yoongi until he calmed down. When he started sniffling, Seokjin turned back to dinner, but he kept one hand on Yoongi’s knee, rubbing circles into his skin with his thumb.
Eventually, Seokjin called everyone in to eat. The rest of the boys were all smiles around the table. Taehyung seemed to be feeling much better than usual. He was taking huge bites of broccoli.
“Tae Tae, is you’re tummy feeling better?” Namjoon asked.
Taehyung made a happy noise around his fork in response. Seokjin was glad to hear that Taehyung wasn’t feeling as nauseous as usual. He was so young and energetic, it was sad that his epilepsy slowed him down.
At least Taehyung’s seizures didn’t hold back his sense of humor. Taehyung started sucking on one of his cavatappi noodles like it was straw. His cheeks hollowed out, and he crossed his eyes goofily. Jimin collapsed into giggles just looking at him, and Jeongguk followed suit even though he didn’t know why he was laughing. It was good to see Taehyung being silly and making his brothers laugh.
However, as happy as Seokjin was to see Taehyung doing well, it was obvious that Yoongi was still doing poorly.
Yoongi was drooped over the table, his little face still pulled into a frown. He hadn’t even picked up his silverware yet to eat dinner. Seokjin stabbed a piece of chicken with his fork and held it out to Yoongi. “Here, cupcake, have something to eat.”
“No,” Yoongi replied.
Namjoon met Seokjin’s eyes over the table. He looked worried. Seokjin shrugged a little, not sure what to tell him. Little mugs had big handles. Anything Seokjin said to Namjoon across the table would definitely be picked up by all the tiny ears sitting around them. “Why don’t you come sit with me, then. We’ll eat dinner together,” Seokjin offered.
Yoongi was seven. He could sit on his own. However, he happily crawled up into Seokjin’s lap when it was offered to him. He seemed to cheer up a little as Seokjin wrapped an arm around him.
He snuck a hand up over Yoongi’s chest, feeling his heartbeat. It was racing.
Seokjin frowned, hating how anxious Yoongi was. He tucked his chin over Yoongi’s head. “All right, you eat your dinner while I eat mine, okay? We’ll do this together,” Seokjin suggested. Normally, he left his kids to eat on their own. It would be too much to have to spoon-feed five kids at every meal. However, Yoongi didn’t usually get upset like this at meal times, and it was very important that Seokjin make sure that he ate his dinner.
Jeongguk, Taehyung, Jimin, and Yoongi were all underweight. Seokjin still had to get Hoseok to the doctor’s to see how he was growing, but the kind of abuse and neglect the other boys went through... The anxieties they faced, the trauma they’d been put through... They all had developmental problems, as anyone would after making it through that kind of situation.
Needless to say, Seokjin’s fridge was filled with PediaSure. He had to make sure Yoongi ate dinner, it would only further set him back if he didn't. He was so small for a seven-year-old, and Seokjin worried constantly.
“I’m not hungry,” Yoongi said, sniveling a little bit.
Seokjin patted his back. “Yes, you are, you’re just sad. It’s okay to be sad when you’re going through changes, but it’s not okay not to eat.”
“That’s right, Sugar. You have to eat so you can have big strong arms like mine when you grow up,” Namjoon said, flexing. Hoseok’s eyes widened when he realized how strong Namjoon was, and he clapped a little bit, clearly impressed. Once again, Jeongguk followed one of his brothers’ lead and clapped too, even if he didn’t know why.
“I have strong arms!” Taehyung said, flexing.
“Me, too! Me, too!” Jimin said doing the same. Jeongguk held his arms out to his side, his face determined and his fist clenched in his poor attempt at a flex. Seokjin couldn’t help but laugh, and Namjoon ruffled the two-year-old’s hair.
“You all look like superheroes with those strong arms,” Namjoon said, squeezing Taehyung’s muscle when he flapped his arm in Namjoon’s face.
Seokjin pinched Yoongi’s side. “So what do you think, kid? You wanna try to eat something for me?”
“...Okay,” Yoongi agreed.
He picked at his food and Seokjin gave him a squeeze. “I’m proud of you for trying,” he said honestly, running his hand through Yoongi’s hair. Yoongi made an acknowledging noise around a piece of broccoli.
Seokjin sang as he got Jeongguk into a diaper and some fresh pajamas. “You are Gukkie, I am Jinnie, and I love you today... You are Gukkie, I am Jinnie, and I love you always. I love your smile, your face, your belly-“ He interrupted himself to tickle Jeongguk’s tummy. “I love your fingers and your toes! I love your diapers though they’re smelly. I even love you’re little...” he trailed off, looking at Jeongguk expectantly.
“Nose!” Jeongguk exclaimed, filling in the gap.
“That’s right! Nose!” he cheered. He finished the song as he pulled Jeongguk’s pants up. “You are Gukkie, I am Jinnie, and I love you today. You are Gukkie, I am Jinnie, and I love you always!”
“And-And-And-And I love you always!” Jeonggukie yelped.
Seokjin nodded and pulled Jeongguk up into his arms. “And I love you always,” he sang again. He planted a massive kiss on Jeongguk’s cheek. He was still a little warm and damp from his bath. He was so cute; Seokjin could hold him like this forever.
But it was nighttime, and Jeongguk needed to sleep. Seokjin couldn’t snuggle with him for much longer, even if he wanted to.
He gave Jeongguk an extra couple kisses before laying him in bed and tucking him in. It always took a little while to get Jeongguk to sleep. He was clingy whenever Seokjin tried to lay him down, and they usually had to share a million goodnights and ‘I love you’s before Seokjin could leave him.
When he did, though, the house was quiet. All the kids were in bed, courtesy of Namjoon. Jeongguk had needed a bath before bed; he’d been so muddy. Seokjin had taken on bathing and clothing the riled up two-year-old, while Namjoon made sure everyone else was dressed and tucked in.
Seokjin walked down the hall and smiled when he heard Taehyung and Jimin talking behind their closed door. They were supposed to be sleeping.
“Don’t be scared of monsters, Chim Chim. You saw Joonie’s muscles.”
“But what if they get me before Joonie can come?”
“Then I’ll get ‘em! I’m strong, too!”
Seokjin smiled. Yes, they were staying up past bedtime, but sometimes you had to let your kids get away with things. Seokjin passed by their door, unconcerned. He peeked in on Yoongi one last time before heading downstairs to his own bedroom.
“Hey,” Namjoon said in greeting. He sounded tired. He was under the blankets with his computer in his lap and glasses perched on his nose.
“Hey,” Seokjin said. He got changed out of his jeans and into a clean t-shirt before crawling in bed beside Namjoon. “You’ve had a long day, huh? You did good work in the garage.”
Namjoon grunted in reply. Seokjin rubbed his arm a bit before pulling out his book again. He had left off in the middle of a chapter, and he wanted to finish it. However, Namjoon spoke before he could start reading. “Hoseok’s social worker finally emailed us.”
“You sound annoyed.”
“Well, it took them a long time,” Namjoon said. Seokjin hummed. He knew how much Namjoon hated the way the social work system operated, but it got them their five amazing kids, so Seokjin tried to cut it some slack.
“You know how overworked they are. I’m sure they got to us as fast as they could.”
“Hoseok should have been their top priority,” Namjoon grumbled. Seokjin laughed a little, leaning over to clumsily kiss Seokjin’s lips.
“You’re just saying that because he’s your kid,” Seokjin teased.
“So what if I am?”
“Okay, okay, settle down.” Seokjin laced their hands together, and Namjoon finally turned away from his screen to look at him. “What did they say? Did they find his mom? Is he going back?”
“They didn’t find his mom, no,” Namjoon replied. “No one has come forward, and it’s unlikely that anyone will.”
“But that’s good,” Namjoon said, squeezing Seokjin’s hand. “I like Hoseok.”
Seokjin’s heart thumped wildly in his chest. “I like Hoseok, too,” he said quietly. He scooted over so that he was more lying on top of Namjoon than next to him. “We have such great foster kids.”
“We do,” Namjoon agreed, throwing an arm around Seokjin. He did seem happy about Hoseok, although Seokjin could still see tension in his shoulders. “Now if only some social workers would get back to us about all the adoption papers we have floating around-“
“Shh, we’ll get there. No one is thinking about moving any of our kids; our house is perfect.”
Namjoon huffed out a sigh.
Seokjin let his fingertips trace up and down Namoon’s sternum. He was concerned. Namjoon had seemed so huffy today, and while he was never one to let his frustrations show to his family, Seokjin could tell that he was upset about something. “Hey,” he said, closing Namjoon’s computer and setting it off to the side. He took the laptop’s place on Namjoon's lap. Seokjin’s legs caged Namjoon in on either side, and he held his husband’s face in his hands. “What’s going on with you today? You’ve been a great dad, but you don’t seem like you.”
“I’m not like me,” Namjoon admitted with a shrug. He looked exhausted. “I just... Yoongi’s been off. He’s so anxious about things changing. I want to be able to promise him he has a proper home with us, but these social workers can’t get anything done, and I’m so tired of waiting-”
“I can understand that. I’ve been ready to adopt Yoongi since day one... I’ve been ready for all of them since day one,” Seokjin sympathized.
Namjoon grunted in agreement. He sniffed once and took off his glasses so he could better sweep back his hair off his face. “He keeps asking me if I love him, and the answer is obviously yes. He’s like my Mini Me, I need him around... And I need Jimin; Jimin is so over the top and fun. And Taehyung is so funny and small, and Jeongguk has been with us for so long, I feel like I’ve raised him. And now there’s Hoseok who has wormed his way right into my heart, like... Like I can feel him lodged up in there, and it’s so frustrating.”
Seokjin’s eyebrows furrowed together. “It’s frustrating?” he asked.
“Yeah, it’s frustrating,” Namjoon looked off to the side. “I don’t know, Jin. Like... I feel like I finally have this perfect family –the one I’ve been waiting for– and now I have all these hoops to jump through.” He reached out to grab onto Seokjin’s waist with both hands. “I don’t know why this whole family thing has to be so hard.”
Seokjin offered Namjoon a watery smile. He knew exactly how Namjoon felt. They had such great kids, but they had no control over them or where they went. At any moment they could be snatched away. It was hard to think about.
“It is hard,” Seokjin agreed. He let Namjoon sit for a moment, toying with the hem of his husband’s sweatshirt before speaking again. “But hey. I’m easy.”
“Seokjin, babe, not now-“
“Not like that,” Seokjin sputtered, leaning forward to press a kiss to Namjoon’s lips. “I meant, like... You won me over so fast, and now here we are.” He wiggled his ring finger in the air, showing off his wedding band. “We’re going to be together forever. Neither of us are going anywhere. There’s nothing to worry about when it comes to us, you know? You have a family that won’t ever leave you, even if it’s a small one.”
Namjoon hummed. “What we share isn’t small.”
Seokjin snorted. “See? There’s the lyricist in you.”
“Our love is so big, it makes mountains tremble,” Namjoon teased.
“You’re such a goofball,” Seokjin said, rolling his eyes. He was about to complain about how cheesy Namjoon could be, but his husband cut him off by flipping him onto his back. Seokjin squealed as Namjoon climbed on top of him.
“You. Take. Up. Too. Much. Room. In. My. Heart,” Namjoon said, kissing Seokjin between every word. Seokjin smacked at his chest.
“Namjoon, we’re already married, you don’t have to woo me like this anymore.”
“Our love is bigger than the solar system,” Namjoon exclaimed, sweeping Seokjin up into their longest kiss yet. Seokjin wanted to fight it, but he couldn’t help but melt into Namjoon as his husband pressed him back against the mattress.
“You couldn’t take up more space in my mind even if you tried,” Seokjin said, breathless as Namjoon pulled away. Namjoon laughed and flopped back down on his pillow.
“Geez, you’re right, that is cheesy,” he said, and Seokjin pinched Namjoon’s hip playfully.
“Now you get it.”
Just in case you missed it:
2.Here is an audio post of me singing the song Seokjin sings for Jeongguk. (I actually hate myself, why did I do this)(Fun fact: I sang to a teddy bear to make me feel less weird.)
Also: Namjoon and Seokjin have some backstory too if you couldn't tell! I may do Namjoon before Jeongguk, we shall see!
Seokjin grabbed the toast out of the toaster and started smearing it with butter. Meanwhile, Namjoon stood next to him, flipping eggs before he had to leave for work.
“Looks good, babe,” Seokjin complimented, instinctively leaning over for a kiss. Namjoon hardly spoke on weekday mornings, but he made up for it by completely smothering his family in kisses. As expected, Namjoon kissed Seokjin’s cheek while blinking away sleep.
“Whoops!” Jimin said, looking down at the floor where half his egg had landed with a splat. Seokjin laughed and made his way over to the table. He gave all the boys a half a slice of toast (cut into triangles because that’s how Hoseok liked it) before sweeping Jimin up into his arms and tickling his tummy.
Jimin squealed. “Stop it, stop it!” His hands pushed at Seokjin, but not enough to hurt.
“I can’t! You’re just too cute! And all dads have to tickle their cute kids,” Seokjin exclaimed. He hoisted Jimin up into the air, holding him under his armpits so he could blow a raspberry on Jimin’s chubby belly.
“Jinnie!” Jimin wailed.
“My turn, my turn!” Taehyung said, clutching onto Seokjin’s t-shirt. He was strapped into his special seat at the table, so he couldn’t crawl up Seokjin’s leg like he would usually try to do.
Seokjin rested Jimin on his hip and tickled Taehyung’s neck, making him squirm against his harness. Taehyung was still laughing when the telephone started to ring.
“I got it!” Seokjin offered. Namjoon only grunted in response as he started cutting up a fried egg for Jeongguk. Seokjin picked up the phone on the third ring. “Hello, you’ve reached the Kim residence.”
“Hi, Seokjin, I was hoping I would reach you! This is Jenny, Jeongguk’s social worker?”
Seokjin frowned. He shifted Jimin up on his hip a little. The four-year-old seemed unsettled by how upset his foster dad looked, and Seokjin pressed a reassuring kiss to his forehead. He left his nose buried in Jimin’s hair as he spoke on the phone. “Ah, well you have me. Is something wrong?”
“No, no, everything’s fine, it’s just...” Seokjin held his breath. “Lisa was hoping for a supervised visitation.”
Lisa was Jeongguk’s mother. She had been addicted to cocaine during her pregnancy with Jeongguk and was deemed an unfit mother by the doctors who delivered him. She hadn’t even been allowed to take Jeongguk home from the hospital before social services took him away.
“I wouldn’t worry about it too much,” Jenny promised. “If you’re concerned about keeping Jeongguk, that is. She’s rejected all of our offers for counseling and rehabilitation, and I don’t think she’s made any personal progress in getting off drugs or going back to work.” Seokjin’s throat felt like it was closing up, but Jenny kept talking. “Obviously, that’s not the kind of thing we root for in the social work field, but it’s probably relieving for you to hear, seeing how long Jeongguk has been in your care.”
“Since he was a baby,” Seokjin said in case she forgot. Jeongguk had been theirs for so long.
“Right,” Jenny said. “Right... So, anyway. We denied supervised visitation for now considering how... unstable Lisa still is. I just wanted you to know that she is still interested in looking after her son and that she might put up a fight for him at some point, given how often she asks for visitation privileges. So... So just know, there’s a chance Jeongguk will be placed back with his biological mother. A low chance, but a chance nonetheless.”
“Well, of course. That’s what foster care is. It’s a... temporary thing,” Seokjin said, holding Jimin closer. Jimin made a whining noise in his arms, clawing at Seokjin’s arms and shoulders to pull their chests closer together. Seokjin hummed into his hair to try to calm him down.
“Temporary. That’s a good word for it,” Jenny mused. “But, okay! That’s it, really! I just wanted to keep you informed! How is Jeongguk doing?”
Seokjin smiled weakly. “Gukkie is great,” he promised. He turned to look at his foster son, who was currently locked into his high chair. He was twice as messy as Jimin was. Egg was smeared all over his arms and cheeks. He had even gotten it stuck in his hair, making his bangs stick up funny. “He’s having eggs for breakfast, and he’s gotten them everywhere. Just like my Jiminnie,” Seokjin said, holding the phone between his ear and shoulder so he could get a paper towel to clean him up a bit. Jimin made a face. He had egg yolk smeared on his cheek.
“Well, that’s good to hear! I think we’ll probably drop by for a quick house inspection around the end of the month. Does that sound okay?” Jenny asked.
“We’ll be here,” Seokjin promised. He was a little distracted as he tried to clean off a fidgety Jimin’s face.
“Okay! I’ll call with some finalized details when we’re a little bit closer.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Seokjin agreed.
They exchanged pleasantries before ending the call. When Seokjin hung up the phone, he realized Namjoon was nearby, listening in. “So Jeongguk’s mom wants to see him, huh?” he asked, taking a sparkling clean Jimin out of Seokjin’s arms. Seokjin snorted. Somehow, Namjoon only ended up holding the kids when they were clean.
“It’s not a great sign, is it?”
“No,” Namjoon admitted. He put a hand on Seokjin’s lower back. “But don’t worry. We’ve proven to be a great home for Jeongguk, and he’s grown up with us. They’d have to find someone unbelievably amazing to ever justify taking Jeongguk away.”
“Jeongguk’s going ‘way?” Taehyung asked, overhearing. Seokjin wrung his hands together. How was it that kids always managed to hear what they weren’t supposed to?
“No, no one’s going anywhere,” Seokjin promised, hyperaware of Yoongi’s eyes boring into the side of his head. “Except Joonie. Namjoon has to get going or he’s going to be late for work,” Seokjin said, with a pointed look at his husband. Namjoon looked down at his watch, and Seokjin could practically see him start to sweat.
“Oh, shoot! Gotta go!” he said, handing Jimin back to Seokjin and rushing out the garage door. Jimin laughed.
Seokjin smiled, trying to keep his worries about Jeongguk to himself. “Yes, he is.”
Seokjin took a deep breath.
Was the sun shining just a little bit brighter? Were the birds chirping just a little bit sweeter? Was the breeze blowing just a little cooler? Because -for once- everything felt completely peaceful to Seokjin.
He all but melted into the couch. He loved having a houseful of toddlers. Honestly, Seokjin lived for sticky fingers and chubby smiles. However, with Jimin’s violent tendencies, Taehyung’s seizures, Hoseok’s mood swings, and Jeongguk being only two-years-old and needing near constant supervision, Seokjin appreciated the respite naptime gave him.
Plus, the phone call this morning hadn’t helped matters. If anything, it had only added more stress to Seokjin’s day. He needed a nap almost as much as his kids did. The only little one left awake was Yoongi, and he was happily doing a jigsaw puzzle on the floor.
Seokjin lazily stretched a hand out to play with Yoongi’s hair. The seven-year-old didn’t acknowledge him, but the tiny smile on his face proved that he liked the extra attention from Seokjin. Seokjin blew in Yoongi’s ear and laughed when he squealed.
“Shh, you’re going to wake the little kids,” he said, barely managing to speak through his laughter. He smoothed Yoongi’s hair into place. “What’s your puzzle of?”
Yoongi’s eyebrows furrowed together. “Um...” He peered at a couple of the puzzle pieces before thrusting one into Seokjin’s face. “I don’t know, it’s furry, see?”
Seokjin took the piece from Yoongi’s hand and brought it close so he could see it better. He hummed when he had gotten a good look at it, and passed the piece back to Yoongi. “You’re right,” he said. “It does look an awful lot like fur. It’s white, so maybe it’s your polar bear puzzle.”
“I love that puzzle!” Yoongi exclaimed, hurriedly going back to matching pieces up. Seokjin smiled. Whenever they were alone like this, Yoongi didn’t hesitate to be outgoing and excitable. Seokjin wished he could be himself around his foster-brothers instead of just around his foster-parents.
Seokjin decided not to worry about it for now. The house was quiet, and he was determined to use this opportunity to recharge. Seokjin threaded his fingers back through Yoongi’s hair but closed his eyes. He just needed a couple seconds to relax.
He had almost drifted off to sleep, when the baby monitor by his head went off. Crying echoed both from the little speaker and from Jeongguk’s room upstairs.
Seokjinn’s feet hit the floor before he had even opened his eyes.
He rushed up the stairs, leaving Yoongi in his wake. Whenever the baby monitor went off, Seokjin’s could only think about Jeongguk, and his well being, and how he was feeling, and how he would get him to stop crying-
Seokjin didn’t realize he was stressing out over nothing until he reached Jeongguk’s bedroom door.
He took a deep breath to calm himself down. Jeongguk was fine. He wasn’t a little, helpless cocaine-addicted baby anymore. It had been a long, long time since Jeongguk exhibited any withdrawal symptoms, and Seokjin had to remind himself that Jeongguk was safe and healthy now. He was okay.
Seokjin tried to relax for Jeongguk’s sake. He knew from experience that barging into a two-year-old’s room half-panicked only ever made things worse. Seokjin forced his expression into something light and happy for Jeongguk before entering the room.
“Well, hello there, Gukkie. Did you just wake up?” he asked brightly, tamping down his anxiety.
Jeongguk’s bottom lip wobbled, and he seemed confused to see Seokjin. He was always a little disoriented after a nap. However, once he recognized his foster-dad, his tears started to slow. He lifted his hands to be picked up.
“Oh, pumpkin, yes, hello, hello, hello,” Seokjin cooed. He swept Jeongguk up and out of his crib and held him close to his chest, bouncing him a little in his arms. “You don’t have to cry. Jinnie’s here. Everything’s okay. Don’t cry.” Jeongguk’s loud crying turned into sniffling and his eyes slipped closed again.
Seokjin didn’t dare try to lie Jeongguk back down in his crib. Instead, he rested his chin in Jeongguk’s hair and let himself breathe for a minute, his anxiety subsiding.
Namjoon sometimes said that Seokjin loved his babies too much, and honestly, he couldn’t help but to agree. Any of their kids could be taken from them at any moment and put in another home or back with their original families. It was devastating to think about.
It was equally devastating to think about the terrible things his kids had gone through before getting put in his care. For example, it physically hurt Seokjin to think about Jeongguk’s mom snorting crack while she was still pregnant with him.
The very thought made his chest ache. Cocaine had so many devastating affects on babies. Jeongguk had been so, so little when he was placed in Seokjin’s care. He had still been exhibiting signs of withdrawal, and he would wake up crying every two hours. No amount of coddling, or feeding, or diaper-changes could stop his tears.
But he had been the cutest baby. He had been born prematurely (most likely due to his mother’s use of cocaine) and he had been so tiny and cute. His head could fit easily in one of Seokjin’s palms.
But he had been harboring more pain than Seokjin would ever know.
Nearly every time the baby monitor went off, Seokjin’s heart threatened to beat out of his chest, but it was only because he loved Jeongguk so much. Each static-y wail brought him back to the time where Jeongguk would never stop crying, no matter what Seokjin did. He would never be able to shake the pained screeches that filled their home when Jeongguk first came to stay.
He loved Jeongguk too much to hear him crying. He loved him too much to let him feel that kind of pain. He loved him too much to see him go back home to his mother.
“Oh, Jeonggukie... Oh, honey,” Seokjin hummed quietly, letting Jeongguk sleep against him. “My baby... I’ve got you, you’re okay.”
Seokjin snuggled Jeongguk for a little bit longer in his nursery. Namjoon had painted it light blue, claiming the color was “calming.” He had said it was for Jeongguk, but Seokjin had a feeling it was more for him. All the soft finishes and soothing colors in their house... they were great for kids, but they were equally great for Seokjin.
Eventually, Seokjin walked himself and Jeongguk downstairs. He kissed Yoongi’s hair as he walked by to sprawl out on the couch again. He let Jeongguk lie on top of him.
Yoongi got up from his spot and stood next to his foster-dad and foster-brother. His face was about two inches from Jeongguk’s. “Is he sleepin’?” he whispered, his eyes trained on Jeongguk’s slack face.
Seokjin let his fingers trail up and down Jeongguk’s spine. “Yeah, Sugar. He’s sleeping.”
“But he’s okay?”
“Mhm,” Seokjin said, kissing Jeongguk’s forehead through his messy hair. “He’s okay.”
Seokjin got another twenty minutes of rest before Hoseok, Taehyung, and Jimin woke up. Yoongi was quiet as he put together his puzzle, and Jeongguk slept for a short while longer on his chest.
Everyone was absolutely wired after their nap, but that was to be expected. Kids could sense when their caregivers were stressed or upset, and Seokjin certainly felt overwhelmed today. It was taking everything he had not to swoop up all his kids and lock them up in a never-ending hug.
But even if he wanted to hold them all, they were too whiny and cranky to let him. Seokjin felt like he was drowning in yelling, running, and crying kids. It was crazy how the house could go from so quiet and peaceful to so loud and noisy within a few minutes.
“You know what we need?” Seokjin asked, after Jimin had tackled him for the third time in as many minutes.
Taehyung, who was busy squirming over one of Seokjin’s shoulders like a snake, looked up at him curiously. “What?!” he asked. He giggled when Seokjin poked his nose with his index finger.
“I think we need to go outside and play with bubbles.”
“Bubbles!” Taehyung cheered. His little hands tried to find each other and clap, but his motor skills were underdeveloped for a three-year-old and he missed on most of his attempts. Seokjin just smiled and bopped his nose again.
“Yeah, you love bubbles.” Bubbles were a good way to focus Taehyung’s attention and keep him from being over-stimulated. A tired, overwhelmed Taehyung was prone to seizures. Some bubbles might be a good way to keep him safe.
Plus, Seokjin couldn’t stay inside with all these screaming kids for a second longer.
It took a couple minutes to get everyone’s shoes on without Namjoon’s hands to help out. Yoongi could put on his own, and Hoseok tried his best, but his sneakers ended up going on the wrong feet.
“Oh, honey, that must not be comfy, huh?” he asked, kneeling in front of a very bewildered Hoseok.
“I don’t know what’s wrong,” Hoseok said. Seokjin had to stop himself from awing. Hoseok’s voice was so small and cute.
“They’re on the wrong feet, silly goose!” Seokjin said, pressing away the crinkle between Hoseok’s eyebrows with his thumb before reaching down to undo the Velcro on his sneakers.
Hoseok frowned. “Oh... Sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry!” Seokjin said brightly. “It’s okay to make mistakes. But here, let me show you-“ He held up the sneakers so that the toes were curling in towards each other. “Your shoes are like best friends, so they want to be all cuddled up together,” he explained. He switched the shoes so their wrong sides were together. “If you have them the wrong way, then the toes are super far apart! But if you have them the right way, then the toes are facing each other.”
Hoseok nodded in understanding. He reached out for the shoes and situated them on the floor in front of him so that the toes were touching properly. He crammed his feet in soon after.
Seokjin watched and clapped when Hoseok was all sorted; however, honestly he felt a little worried. Hoseok shouldn’t need help figuring out which shoe went on what foot. He was five years old.
Seokjin made a mental note to see if they could put off Hoseok going to kindergarten in the fall. He wasn’t ready for it. He was way behind where a boy his age should be knowledge-wise. He was worse off than Jimin, who was a year younger than him.
Seokjin couldn’t think about it now, though. The kids were acting off because he was acting off. Seokjin needed to calm down and keep a level head.
Maybe bubbles would help him, too.
“Okay, who’s ready to go outside?” Seokjin asked, already opening the door to the garage. Jimin –the go-getter he was- immediately ran for the little plastic table Seokjin usually used for outdoor activities like bubbles. Seokjin laughed as he started to drag it out towards the driveway before the garage door had even opened. “You’re so strong, Jimin!” he said proudly.
Meanwhile, Taehyung struggled to stretch up tall by his side. “Can I?” Taehyung asked, standing on his tiptoes to reach for the button that opened the garage door.
“Of course, love,” Seokjin said, scooping him up by the armpits. Taehyung pressed the button and cheered when the door started lifting automatically. When Seokjin put him down, he rushed to help Jimin.
Yoongi was already grabbing the bubbles. He was the only one of the boys who was tall enough to reach them. Hoseok seemed happy to hold the bubble wands when Yoongi shoved them into his hands.
Seokjin looked down at his ankles, where Jeongguk was lying on the laundry room floor. “I say we join them. What do you think, kid?”
“All right!” Seokjin cheered. He grabbed Jeongguk’s hand and they slowly made their way over to the other boys. “I’ll take over from here,” he said, grabbing the gallon-sized jug of bubble solution from Yoongi.
He had little plastic dishes for bubble solution: color-coded for each boy. Everything in the Kim household was color-coded. Their cups, their shoe baskets, their name plates on their doors... Seokjin had even color coded their sheets, which weirded Namjoon out. But with five kids, it was important to have an easy way to know whose was whose.
Seokjin dished out the bubble liquid, and coaxed Hoseok to release his tight grip on the bubble wands. Soon, everyone was blowing bubbles (or trying to, anyway).
Taehyung blew into his bubble wand, but it was spitty and too short of a breath. He whined. “How come Sugar’s so good at it?!” he complained, while Yoongi blew a steady stream of bubbles at him from across the table.
“You have to blow long and slow, TaeTae,” Seokjin explained, blowing some bubbles of his own for Hoseok to pop. He liked stomping on them when they landed in the grass.
Taehyung tried again. To his credit, he did do a better job of blowing this time around, but it still was a little too hard and fast to form any bubbles. Seokjin sent a stream of bubbles his way to keep him smiling, while Hoseok busied himself stomping out the others that landed on the front lawn.
“Jinnie, look!” Jimin shouted, up to his elbows in suds. He had dumped out his dish of bubble solution and was currently working it into a lather on the tabletop. White foam clung to his fingers and elbows.
“Jimin, we’re going to have to hose you down,” Seokjin teased. “Jeongguk, you too.”
Jeongguk looked up with wide eyes. His little toddler tummy stuck out enough to hit the edge of the table, and he had a wet patch on the front of his triceratops t-shirt. He lifted a hand, and before Seokjin could stop him, Jeongguk stuck his soapy fingers into his mouth.
Jeongguk made a face.
“Gukkie, you and bubbles don’t get along do you?” he asked, grabbing Jeongguk’s hand. He cleaned it off with the hem of the two-year-old’s t-shirt before pulling him into his lap. Jeongguk nuzzled his face into the crook of Seokjin’s arm.
“Yucky,” he said, and Seokjin smiled weakly.
“Yeah, yucky,” he repeated, trying to stop himself from thinking about Jeongguk getting taken away from him. He had raised Jeongguk. He had been with him through the first and hardest week of his life. He had been the one to switch his bottles to sippy cups, he had been the one to change his diapers. He had been the one to pick out his clothes, and wash his hair, and sing him to sleep, and love him with all his heart. He was there for Jeongguk every minute of every day.
Jenny had said that it was unlikely Lisa would ever be in a position to take Jeongguk back. And even if she did get her life together, Namjoon was right. They were the parents Jeongguk knew and loved, and their house was well managed. It would take a lot for him to be moved.
But foster care really was temporary.
“Ouch,” Jeongguk complained when Seokjin squeezed him a little too tight.
“Ah, sorry,” Seokjin apologized, finger-combing Jeongguk’s bangs to lie flat against his forehead. His hair got out of place so easily.
“Blow more bubbles!” Taehyung said, pulling on Seokjin’s pant leg.
Seokjin took a deep breath, trying to find his center, before looking down at Taehyung. “Sure thing,” he agreed, ruffling Taehyung’s hair. “Anything to keep you boys happy.”
Seokjin blew bubbles until it started to rain, and he had to bring the boys inside. He glanced at the clock. 4:30. Namjoon wouldn’t be home for another hour and half.
Seokjin swore inwardly. Today was really hard. He needed Namjoon back to help him calm down. Honestly, he couldn’t keep up with five toddlers today. It was too much.
“Hello, hello!” Namjoon said when he walked through the door. Seokjin turned just in time to see Namjoon’s face fall as he took in the sight of their kitchen. There was artwork drying on every flat surface in the kitchen, even the floor. Meanwhile, their table and chairs were all covered in a rainbow of colored paint. “Wow, what happened in here?”
“We tried making you some pictures,” Seokjin explained, tossing Namjoon a damp paper towel so he could help him clean up. “But I think that finger painting is a two-parent job.”
Namjoon snorted and started to wipe down the kitchen chairs. Hoseok, Jimin, and Yoongi were all playing in the family room. Seokjin had taken out the train tracks to occupy them. Jeongguk was still in his high chair, mixing colors together on a sheet of paper. He was a mess, but someone could clean him up later when he was bored with painting.
Taehyung was slumped on the window bench.
“Hey, what’s going on with you?” Namjoon asked when he noticed Taehyung. He dangled his paint-covered paper towel in Taehyung’s face. The bottom corner brushed his nose.
“Go away,” Taehyung said tiredly, brushing away the paper towel. Namjoon looked to Seokjin, concerned.
Seokjin huffed out a sigh. “It’s been a long day,” he explained. “For all of us.”
Namjoon pressed his lips together and stepped across the room to where Seokjin was washing out paint dishes in the kitchen sink. “Hey,” he said. “Are you okay? What’s going on?”
Seokjin rubbed a hand over his forehead. “I’m just really tired,” he explained.
Taehyung piped up from the opposite side of the room. “I’m tired, too, Jinnie!” he said. “It’s not any fun, but sometimes you just have to deal with it!”
Seokjin’s gaped for a second in surprise. He turned to Namjoon, whose jaw was also hanging wide open. Namjoon turned to look at him, but after a second of eyecontact, they both started laughing. Leave it to Taehyung to say something so grown up in such a little voice.
“You’re right, Taehyung,” Seokjin eventually managed to agree, wiping tears of laughter from his eyes. “Maybe you and I should deal with it by a quick nap in my room, huh? And Joonie can make dinner for a change.”
Namjoon made an affronted noise. “Hey, I make breakfast –like- all the time.”
“And I make lunch actually all of the time. I was gonna make chicken tacos. I think you’re more than capable of taking over after we get this kitchen cleaned up.”
Namjoon floundered for a minute. To be fair, he wasn’t a confident cook at all, and it was kind of cruel of Seokjin to throw dinner on him last minute like this. But Seokjin had been running himself ragged all day, waiting for Namjoon to come home and save him.
Namjoon seemed to sense how desperate he was for a break, and pressed his lips together again. “How about I just call in for pizza, huh? Then there’s no clean up, no mess... I can’t burn it, and we can cut it into little pieces for Jeongguk and Taehyung, and then everyone’s good to go.”
Seokjin huffed out a sigh. “Pizza doesn’t have vegetables.”
“I think our kids will manage one night without broccoli or Brussels sprouts on their plate,” Namjoon replied. Seokjin glared, and Namjoon sighed. “Okay, I’ll wash some grapes for them to eat with it.”
Namjoon snorted. “Go take a break, crazy. You look dead on your feet,” he said, and Seokjin couldn’t agree more. He grabbed Taehyung, who all but melted against him, and headed for his bedroom. He supposed he could make tacos tomorrow... And it would be okay to feed their kids pizza just this once.
Sometimes, it was important to take care of yourself before you tried to take care of someone else. Seokjin was too worn out to fuss over his babies anymore. Tonight was a night where the bare minimum would have to cut it.
“Jinnie, I feel peelywally,” Taehyung said as they lied down in the dark. Seokjin had kept the lights off to help with his own headache and the headache Taehyung probably had, too.
“I know,” he cooed sadly.
“Do you feel peelywally, too?”
Seokjin frowned. “Sort of... It’s a little different than your peelywally, though,” he said, not sure how to explain his anxiety to someone so young. Taehyung didn’t seem to mind, he just crawled up the mattress a little to lie his head right next to Seokjin’s. His breath was warm on Seokjin’s face, and after a minute, he realized that Taehyung was asleep.
Seokjin took a deep breath. If Taehyung could go to sleep with his head pounding and his stomach sick, then Seokjin could to. After all, his kids were all safe and under one roof. He had to stop worrying so much.
I am so sorry for the long wait! I've rewritten this chapter at least 800 times, and it's still not what I want it to be (obviously).
But I can't keep you guys waiting, and I can't keep changing it around and redoing it. I'm sorry if this chapter feels low quality, especially after waiting so long! I hope to start the next chapter straight away and just finish this thing.
Rain pattered on the windowpane. Seokjin buried a little further under the covers: book in one hand, tea in the other. It was around 9:30 at night, and all of the kids were tucked up in bed.
Seokjin had been planning for a nice peaceful night in. However, if the way Namjoon had slotted his leg between Seokjin’s was anything to go by, Namjoon was clearly hoping for a little something more.
“Babe,” Namjoon said, pressing a couple kisses to the underside of Seokjin’s jaw. Seokjin hummed in response, too immersed in his book. Namjoon didn’t let his lack of attention discourage him. “You know what this weather reminds me of?”
“What?” Seokjin asked. He felt Namjoon smile against his skin.
“Our wedding night.”
Seokjin put his tea down. He turned to look at his husband, his glasses bumping Namjoon’s nose. “It was pretty awful, wasn’t it?”
Seokjin had planned an outdoor wedding in a beautiful garden between their hometowns. The plan had been to get married amongst the flowers, but it had poured rain. They ended up having their entire ceremony in the tent they had rented for the reception. The only flowers in sight were the clipped ones in their centerpieces.
Namjoon smiled, happy to have Seokjin’s full attention. “I wouldn’t say awful,” he promised. He stretched up to press a kiss to Seokjin’s forehead. “The rain sucked, but it couldn’t ruin the best day of my life.”
Seokjin snorted, but let Namjoon sweep him up in a kiss. It was almost old hat now, Namjoon’s lips on his, but Seokjin would choose their familiar rhythm over something new and strange any day.
Namjoon kicked back the covers and adjusted himself so he was leaning over Seokjin. He straddled his waist. “You know... You were a gorgeous groom,” he said, reminiscing. “And now you’re my handsome husband.”
“Oh my gosh, you’re too much,” Seokjin laughed. He slipped his hands up under Namjoon’s shirt. His long fingers stretched across the small of Namjoon’s back as he pulled him close for another kiss.
A crack of thunder broke them apart.
“Shit,” Namjoon swore.
There was a beat of silence. Seokjin sat up straight, listening to see if the storm had woken up any of the kids and crossing his fingers that it hadn’t. Everything seemed quiet.
A second later, their bedroom lit up with another flash of lightning. Thunder came quickly after: so strong it rattled the windowpanes. Before the house had even stopped shaking, Jeongguk’s crying rattled through the baby monitor.
Seokjin groaned and fell back against his pillow.
Namjoon rubbed a hand over his face. “Okay, how about this: you go get Jeongguk because he loves you more than me-“ Seokjin smacked him with a pillow. “-and I’ll go check on Taehyung and Jimin.”
“He doesn’t love me more than you,” Seokjin grumbled, but he got up to check on Jeongguk anyway. He ran to the nursery before Jeongguk’s crying could wake up the rest of the house (that is, if the thunder hadn’t woken everyone up already).
When he opened the door to Jeongguk’s room, he could just see the shadow of Jeongguk standing up in his crib. Lightning flashed again, illuminating the room enough to see the tear tracks on his baby’s cheeks.
“Oh, Gukkie,” Seokjin cooed. He rushed over to Jeongguk, knowing that he wouldn’t feel calm until he had Jeongguk in his arms. He hated hearing Jeongguk cry; it made him so anxious.
Jeongguk relaxed as soon as Seokjin picked him up. Seokjin relaxed, too. Jeongguk had never been afraid of storms, he just didn’t like being woken up. As soon as the storm quieted enough for him to fall asleep, he would be back to his normal, happy self.
Jeongguk sniffled in Seokjin’s arms, and Seokjin pressed half a dozen kisses to his salty cheek. “You must be so tired,” he sympathized, holding Jeongguk close. He swooned when the two-year-old’s tiny fists balled up in his shirt.
Lightning flashed several times in a row, making the room flicker like a strobe light. Jeongguk made a whining noise. It was looking more and more like Jeongguk would be sleeping in his and Namjoon’s bed tonight, at least until the storm was over.
“Hmmm... Jeonggukkie, let’s go check on Joonie and your brothers, how about?” he asked, pressing a kiss to the two-year-old’s head. Jeongguk’s hair was longer than usual, and it tickled Seokjin’s nose.
Seokjin carried Jeongguk out of his nursery to spy on Namjoon with Taehyung and Jimin from the doorway to their bedroom. Namjoon was sitting on the edge of a very shaken Jimin’s bed.
The four-year-old’s eyes were wide with fear. Jimin was inconsolable when it came to storms. Poor Namjoon was trying to rub his back and calm him down, while simultaneously holding a very weepy Taehyung in his lap. Jimin flopped forward so his face was buried in Namjoon’s thigh. “It’s scary, Joonie.”
“I’m tired, Joonie,” Taehyung added on. Seokjin’s heart broke for both of them. Taehyung was already exhausted all of the time, he didn’t need anything disrupting his sleep. And while Jimin was all confidence and bravado while he was playing with his brothers, Seokjin knew how scared and uncertain he was beneath it all. This storm was too much for their family, especially so late at night.
(Anything after 9:30 was painfully late with a houseful of preschoolers. Seokjin stopped being a dad at 8:30 pm. After that, everyone was either in bed or in trouble.)
“Well, I’m scared, and I’m tired,” Namjoon said, pretending to cry. “And I’m just a person with feelings and needs, and I want to go to sleep, and I want someone to hold me! Hold me!” he yelped, flopping on top of both of his boys and pulling them into a hug.
It made both Jimin and Taehyung giggle for a moment before thunder shook the house again. Even Seokjin jumped this time. The storm must be directly overhead.
Seokjin looked down to find Hoseok pulling at the bottom hem of his t-shirt. He hadn’t heard Hoseok come out of his bedroom, but he looked nervous. His lips were pressed together and he was holding his new teddy bear –Mickey- in a death grip.
It wasn’t often that Hoseok came to Seokjin for anything. Seokjin felt his heart swell up in excitement. He loved having opportunities to help Hoseok and build up the five-year-old’s trust in him. He crouched down to meet Hoseok’s eyes. “What’s up, bud?”
Hoseok let go of Seokjin’s t-shirt and started wringing his hands together. “Um... Um...” Thunder struck again, and a shiver rolled down Hoseok’s body from his shoulders to his knees. Even if he wasn’t comfortable enough to tell Seokjin how he was feeling, it was obvious that he was scared. Seokjin jumped at the chance to protect him.
He reached for Hoseok’s hand and laced their fingers together. “How about you and me go snuggle in my bed?” he offered, before Hoseok had to try to explain himself. He turned towards Namjoon. “Or maybe we can all go cuddle up in our bed.”
Namjoon looked exhausted by the very thought of squeezing their whole family onto their king-sized mattress, but he didn’t argue. “How does that sound, boys?” he asked Jimin and Taehyung. “TaeTae, do you think you could sleep if you were lying on top of me?”
Taehyung made a pitiful noise into Namjoon’s shirt.
Jimin white-knuckled Namjoon’s forearm. “I don’t wanna be by myself. Wanna be with you,” he said. Namjoon and Seokjin shared a look, distressed to hear Jimin thinking for a second that they would leave him alone.
“Jimin, honey, you’ll be right with us, okay? Me and Joon will protect you from the storm, you don’t have to be worried. Everything is okay,” Seokjin promised from the hallway. However, even as he spoke, thunder, wind, and rain beat against the house, drowning out his words. Jimin squeaked as thunder boomed in the sky and the house groaned against the wind.
“We need to get snuggled up. Stat,” Namjoon determined, scooping Jimin up.
Seokjin followed Namjoon, his eyes trained on Taehyung and Jimin clutching onto his husband from either side. Hoseok had gone from holding his hand, to hugging Seokjin’s arm close to his scrawny chest. Meanwhile, Jeongguk was nodding off in Seokjin’s arms. At least there was one calm person in their family.
As they were passing Yoongi’s bedroom, his door creaked open. “Joon?” he asked, his blanket around his shoulders.
“Come on, Sugar. We’re all going into Jinnie and Joonie’s bed,” Namjoon said, and Yoongi nodded before quickly scrambling after them. He held onto the back of Namjoon’s shirt as they made their way down the half flight of stairs to Namjoon and Seokjin’s room.
It took a long while to get settled, but eventually they all found a spot in bed. Yoongi had the edge of the mattress next to Namjoon, who had Taehyung sprawled across his chest. Jimin was on the opposite side of Namjoon, clutching onto one of his arms: terrified. Jeongguk was in the middle -passed out cold- and Hoseok was next to Jin, squirming anxiously.
“Hey, hey, hey,” Seokjin said, carding his fingers through Hoseok’s hair to get his attention. “You’re okay.”
Hoseok sniffled. “I... I miss mommy,” he said, bottom lip wobbling. Seokjin ignored the feeling of his heart breaking, and instead rubbed his thumb over Hoseok’s quivering chin.
“I’m sure you do,” he said. “It’s okay to miss your mommy. But don’t be afraid, okay? Namjoon and I are going to take such good care of you; you don’t have to be scared.”
“Not of thunderstorms?”
“Not of anything,” Seokjin reassured. Hoseok blinked at him a couple times before collapsing into tears, disturbing Jeongguk. Seokjin cooed and pulled Hoseok on top of him. He rubbed his back and hummed a little bit, hoping that his singing voice would help everyone to relax, not just Hoseok.
“Hey, babe, why don’t you sing the song Jimin likes? I think that would help him feel better, huh?” Namjoon suggested. He was too busy trying to take care of Taehyung –who was whining about his stomach, now- to give Jimin the attention he needed.
Seokjin immediately switched gears. He picked Jimin up and held him and Hoseok close to him. He kissed both of their foreheads before singing. “It’s a beautiful morning-“ Thunder crashed. Seokjin was starting to get worried about the trees falling onto the house. “I think I’ll go outside for awhile. An-”
“And just smile,” Namjoon chimed in, giving Seokjin the chance to take a shaky breath.
“Just take in some clean fresh air, boy. Ain’t no sense in stayin’ inside, if the weathers fine and you got the time.” He pointed at Namjoon, so he could take over.
“It’s your chance to wake up and plan-“
“Another brand new day-“
“Either way,” Namjoon finished. “It’s a beautiful morning.”
Seokjin sang the rest of the song from there, anxiety quelling. Namjoon kept quiet so Taehyung stood a shot at falling asleep. Yoongi was already drooling on Namjoon’s pillow, his blanket stuffed up under his chin. Jeongguk was somehow sleeping, too, despite the wind still rocking the house. His limbs were thrown across the mattress, fingers curling naturally against the sheets.
Jimin was still shaking, even as Seokjin finished the song.
“Another one,” Hoseok said, chewing on his teddy bear’s ear. Seokjin scrubbed at one of his eyes and looked over to Taehyung. The three-year-old looked miserable. There were deep purple bruises under both of his eyes.
Seokjin frowned. A tired Taehyung was more prone to seizures. He would have to watch him closely tomorrow to make sure he didn’t hurt himself.
“Another one,” Jimin repeated. He buried his face into Seokjin’s neck.
“Anything for you two,” Seokjin promised before starting in on a very quiet rendition of “Just My Imagination” by the Temptations. He had no idea how Jimin had gotten a taste for such old music, but whenever Seokjin sang him sixties music, he seemed to settle right down. “Each day through my window, I watch her as she passes by...”
Around the second verse, Jimin gave him one last squeeze before rolling onto his back and snoring. Namjoon laughed a little, trying not to move Taehyung too much. Jimin was sprawled across the bed, little snores and huffs making him twitch in his sleep.
“He’s a hot mess, even when he’s sleeping,” Namjoon said quietly, lightly dragging his knuckles up and down Taehyung’s spine.
“Shhhh,” Seokjin giggled. He reached across Jeongguk and Jimin to lightly smack Namjoon’s shoulder.
Namjoon moved to retaliate, but Taehyung made a whining noise before he could. “I’m tired. I feel yucky. No one cares,” he said pathetically, and Seokjin had to hide a laugh.
“TaeTae, I care,” Namjoon said. “That’s why we’re snuggling.”
“You don’t care. None of you care. I’m tired,” Taehyung repeated, sounding at least twice his age. Seokjin put a hand up to cover his smile. Namjoon didn’t look far off from laughing, either.
“Taehyung, how can I help you sleep?” he asked.
“Stop the thunder.”
Namjoon hummed sympathetically. “I wish I could, buddy. I think you and Hoseok would feel a lot better if I could.” Seokjin looked at the slope of Namjoon’s profile and knew he meant it.
Namjoon was a great dad. There were times where he doubted it, Seokjin knew, but he really was incredible. He had a strong connection with Taehyung and Yoongi especially, but all of the boys loved him. It was obvious that they felt safe around Namjoon, and that was a big deal for boys who had been abused and neglected so early in their lives. Seokjin suspected it was partially because of how well Namjoon could empathize with them.
Namjoon had grown up in the foster care system. His biological parents had been neglectful, and Namjoon was taken away from them when he was eleven-years-old. His foster parents hadn’t been much better, but at least they fed him. (Still, Seokjin had always known Namjoon to be a little too skinny, even all these years later.)
So much of Namjoon’s childhood still stuck with him: his fear of losing his family, his craving for constant attention, his need to do everything by himself... He was better at letting Seokjin help him now, but Namjoon had always been one to do things on his own.
After all, he was a self-made man. Namjoon made his way to the top of the music industry by promoting himself, and now he was responsible for writing and producing multi-million selling songs for pop artists and rappers.
Seokjin had seen him through all of it. He had seen him struggle and fail, but he had also seen him succeed, and he was so unbelievably proud of him for it. It was because of Namjoon that they had their beautiful house and their adorable family. Namjoon supported all of them in the hopes that none of their foster kids would have to work as hard as he did.
Fostering had always been on Namjoon’s heart. Seokjin was happy to share the dream with him, and he was happy to keep reminding Namjoon that he was a great dad, despite having terrible fathers to look up to. He was so attentive and caring. He was amazing.
Namjoon was amazing.
Seokjin reached out to card his fingers first through Namjoon’s hair and then Taehyung’s. “Joonie would do anything for you, TaeTae,” Seokjin promised, looking up at Namjoon meaningfully. “How about you just close your eyes and see if you can sleep?”
Taehyung huffed indignantly but he close his eyes anyway. Hoseok seemed to be on the cusp of falling asleep, and now Taehyung was at least trying.
“Another one,” Hoseok said, pulling weakly at Seokjin’s clothes. Seokjin’s eyebrows furrowed together, not sure what Hoseok was asking for, until he remembered that he had been singing earlier.
“Oh right,” he muttered more to himself than to Hoseok. “How about some Frank Sinatra?”
Hoseok made a noise of agreement, barely conscious enough to talk. Seokjin smiled down at him. He started singing “The Way You Look Tonight” under his breath, and looked over to Namjoon who smiled at him thankfully.
Seokjin blew him a kiss as the storm settled.
Seokjin stopped Namjoon as he walked into the kitchen the next morning. “You look awful,” he said, holding Namjoon’s face in both hands.
“Just need coffee,” he replied. Seokjin frowned but wordlessly passed his husband his travel cup, already filled to the brim with his favorite coffee (disgusting non-dairy creamer included). Namjoon snatched it up gratefully. “You’re the best.”
“You have bags under your eyes,” Seokjin pointed out. He still had one hand cupping Namjoon’s cheek. He let his thumb glide over one of the purple bruises marring Namjoon’s otherwise perfect complexion.
Namjoon closed his eyes for a moment, shutting out the world as he had his first sip of coffee for the day. When he blinked his eyes open, he seemed more present. “Taehyung kept waking up. Plus, Yoongi must have kicked me at least half a dozen times,” he explained.
“Did not!” Yoongi shouted from the living room.
Namjoon and Seokjin both snickered. “Did, too!” Namjoon yelled back as soon as he had composed himself.
Namjoon left the kitchen to find Yoongi. Seokjin followed. He sat in their giant overstuffed chair and watched as Namjoon dropped onto the couch between Yoongi and Jeongguk. “Did, too,” Namjoon repeated. He ruffled Yoongi’s hair, being careful not to spill his coffee on his suit.
“Joonie, Bubble Guppies is on!” Jimin exclaimed, crawling over Jeongguk to get to Namjoon.
Namjoon caught Jimin’s hand before he could push Jeongguk out of his way. “Gentle, Jimin,” he reminded. He looked up at the television screen. “Jin is letting you guys watch TV, huh? That’s pretty exciting.”
“We all had a long night,” Seokjin said as means of explanation.
Namjoon nodded, suddenly looking absolutely exhausted again. “Long is a good word for it,” he agreed. Namjoon closed his eyes for a second, resting his head against the back of the sectional, before standing up. “But okay. Time for work. Goodbye, boys! I love you,” he promised, kissing each of their foster children on the forehead. He planted an extra kiss on Seokjin’s cheek before leaving to catch his train.
Seokjin stayed leaning against the doorframe for a second, just resting. He was exhausted. He had hoped that Jimin would be able to sleep in since he had been up so late the night before, but he still jumped on Seokjin’s chest in the wee hours of the morning.
Seokjin opened his eyes (When had he closed them?) and looked down at Jeongguk. “Elmo!” he mimicked, swooping Jeongguk up into his arms. His hands and face were still sticky from playing with his banana at breakfast. “How about if we get you cleaned up so Elmo doesn’t get yucky, huh?” he asked, gently taking the toy out of Jeongguk’s hands.
“Clean!” Jeongguk repeated, throwing his arms around Seokjin. Seokjin smiled and rested his chin on the two-year-old’s shoulder. He hoped Jeongguk never grew up. Seokjin could cuddle him close like this forever.
“Jin! Jinnie, look!” Jimin called, holding up a fistful of twigs. “I found so many!”
“You did!” Seokjin cheered. He gave Jimin a thumbs up as he toddled off to find more sticks to pick up. The storm had shaken loose all kinds of twigs and branches from the trees in their yard. Both the front and back lawn were covered in sticks, and all of the kids were helping to clean up.
Seokjin slung a particularly large branch over his shoulder, and looked down at Yoongi. The seven-year-old seemed distressed by the state of the lawn. His breathing seemed a little labored, and he was practically glued to Seokjin’s side.
“Hey, buddy, it’s all right. Messes aren’t a problem as long as you clean them up,” he said. Sometimes Yoongi just needed a reminder that Seokjin didn’t let clutter pile up.
Yoongi nodded, but he still looked a little pale. Seokjin huffed out a sigh and carded his fingers through his hair. “You’re okay. We’re going to get this cleaned up in no time,” he promised.
Honestly, Seokjin wasn’t that worried about the tree branches or about Yoongi. Namjoon had promised to cut up the bigger branches into firewood when he got home, and Yoongi would calm down as soon as everything else was cleaned up. Seokjin was confident he would be okay.
However, he was really worried about Taehyung.
The poor kid seemed exhausted. His movements were more sluggish than usual, and his eyes had drooped closed at lunch, his cute little chin resting on his chest as he slept between bites. Eating in general had been hard for Taehyung today, both because he was tired and because he had been complaining about a stomachache all day.
It was the perfect storm for a seizure, and Seokjin had hardly taken his eyes off of Taehyung all day.
Seokjin was pulled out of his anxious thoughts when Hoseok showed up at his feet. Jeongguk was hot on his heels with a stick in one hand. “Excuse me?” Hoseok asked politely. “Where do these go?” He held up an armful of branches, and Seokjin made a big show of gasping in surprise.
“Hoseok! Are you carrying those all by yourself?!” he asked, doing his best to sound amazed.
Hoseok giggled. “Yes!” he exclaimed.
“Yes!” Hoseok yelped again, bouncing a little bit with pride. Seokjin put a hand over his heart.
“Well, you must be so strong!” he said, earning another boastful smile from Hoseok. “Do you think you’re strong enough to carry your sticks all the way over there?” Seokjin pointed to the edge of their yard, where their short-cropped grass ended and the edge of the woods began.
Hoseok nodded, determined, and ran off with Jeongguk in toe. Seokjin, meanwhile, busied himself with collecting the sticks that were too heavy for the kids to carry. He was just setting them next to the tool shed when he heard Jimin calling for him again.
“Jinnie?! Jin!!!” he yelled.
Seokjin heard the panic in Jimin’s voice before he could see it on his face. He whirled around, only to find Jimin pointing at a frozen Taehyung. Across the yard, Seokjin could just make out the tear tracks on Taehyung’s cheeks, and fear swept over him.
Taehyung fell over like a tree trunk, but Seokjin was already running towards him.
“TaeTae!” Jimin wailed, collapsing onto his knees next to Taehyung as he started convulsing. Seokjin couldn’t get to them fast enough. Jimin took the sticks Taehyung had been carrying out of his hands without Seokjin even having to ask him.
“Good boy, Jimin. Good boy,” Seokjin said, blindly kissing Jimin through his hair. He was more focused on taking care of Taehyung.
Seokjin carefully rolled Taehyung onto his side. It was painful to see Taehyung like this: his cheeks flushed and his pupils blown wide. A pitiful, garbled sound fell from Taehyung’s mouth, and even though he couldn’t speak clearly, Seokjin understood.
“I know, TaeTae, I know,” he cooed, helpless as the seizure ran its course. At the very least, he could stay calm for Taehyung. Taehyung was already scared; he didn’t need Seokjin making him feel any worse.
“It’s just grass,” Jimin said. “It’s just grass around Taehyung.”
“That’s good, Jimin. You did a great job, thank you,” Seokjin promised, glancing at his watch. Taehyung’s seizures typically didn’t last longer than two minutes, but two minutes felt like ages when he had to watch Taehyung shake and jerk like this.
Seokjin looked up when he had noted what time it was –any longer than five minutes, and they’d have to call an ambulance- and realized that Taehyung had attracted quite the crowd.
“Okay, boys, let’s all back up so Taehyung has some space,” Seokjin said. “Yoongi, would you mind getting my phone from the kitchen table? Just in case? And Hoseok, don’t worry, Taehyung’s fine. He just has seizures sometimes. I can answer your questions about it when he’s feeling better.”
Hoseok nodded, and Yoongi was already running towards the house. Jimin was still on his hands and knees, peering at Taehyung. “He’s drooling,” Jimin said.
“Yep,” Seokjin replied. “He can’t help it.”
Taehyung made another gurgling noise, and Seokjin felt his chest constrict with worry. Taehyung was going to be the death of him one day. “Oh, honey... Oh, TaeTae, it’s okay. You’re okay. It’ll be over soon,” he promised, glancing at his watch. Sixty seconds had passed.
Yoongi came running out of the house with Seokjin’s phone and Taehyung’s pillow from the bay window in the kitchen. “Oh, good thinking, Sugar!” Seokjin said, slipping the pillow underneath Taehyung’s head as soon as Yoongi passed it to him.
Yoongi and Jimin both knew just what to do when Taehyung had a seizure. Seokjin had been sure to teach them how to take care of Taehyung, just in case he wasn’t there during a seizure. The steps were simple: call Jin or Joon, make sure there wasn’t anything hard around Taehyung, cushion his head, and roll him on his side.
Jimin was particularly attentive when Seokjin reminded him of what to do. He could spot a seizure just by the tension in Taehyung’s shoulders before he collapsed. Meanwhile, Yoongi always seemed to somehow fill in the gaps that Seokjin was missing.
Jimin peered at Taehyung closer, and Seokjin gently pushed him back. “He needs space, Jimin.”
“No buts. Just let him be; he’s all right,” Seokjin promised. Jimin looked stricken, but he sat back on his heels anyway. Meanwhile, Taehyung was still shaking but only on his left side. His right eye darted around wildly while his left eye stared straight ahead, unblinking. “There you go, Taehyung! You’re almost there,” Seokjin said encouragingly.
Taehyung made a wailing noise this time and closed both of his eyes. His neck ceased jerking and his leg stilled. Taehyung’s eyes scrunched and a couple tears leaked down each cheek.
“TaeTae, you’re okay,” Seokjin promised; although, he knew Taehyung was probably too disoriented to understand. Finally, his left arm stilled and a massive sob erupted from Taehyung’s tiny chest.
Seokjin looked at his watch. One minute, forty-two seconds.
“Oh, honey... Honey, come here. I’ve got you,” Seokjin promised, picking Taehyung up and holding him close when he was sure his seizure was over. He kissed Taehyung’s salty cheek as he pulled him flush against his chest. “Don’t cry... You’re okay. I’ve got you. Everything’s okay, I’m here. Jin is here. You’re okay.”
Seokjin ignored Taehyung’s full diaper for a moment, knowing that Taehyung needed a hug more than a change right now. However, he also knew that the sooner he got Taehyung clean, the sooner he would feel normal.
Taehyung wept loudly into his chest while Seokjin picked them up off the grass. “Okay, boys, let’s head inside so I can take care of Taehyung, all right? We’ll come back out to finish cleaning up soon,” he said, directing his voice first to all the kids and then just to Yoongi.
Everyone headed inside. Taehyung continued to cry. He probably felt confused and anxious, but that was okay. He had every right to be scared. Meanwhile, Jimin stayed hot on Seokjin’s heels, following him closely even when Seokjin carried Taehyung up to his changing table.
“TaeTae still wears diapers,” Jimin said, peering over the edge of the changing mat.
Seokjin frowned: devastated to have to lay Taehyung down for even a moment. Taehyung was staring at him sobbing. His little arms stretched out to be picked up, but Seokjin couldn’t hold him and change him at the same time. “Yeah, he has accidents during his seizures,” Seokjin said as means of explanation; although, he was a little preoccupied with Taehyung.
Jimin reached over the lip of the mat to hold Taehyung’s hand. It seemed to help as Seokjin made quick work of getting a clean diaper on Taehyung. “You’re okay... You’re okay,” Seokjin promised the entire time. He kept reminding Taehyung he was all right over and over. “You’re okay, Taehyung, you’re just really tired. Let’s go take a rest,” he offered, picking Taehyung up the second he had his diaper tabs secured into place.
He left Taehyung in just a t-shirt, diaper, and socks and carried him downstairs to the couch. The three-year-old had calmed down a little bit, but the sooner Seokjin had them both lying down, the better.
At some point, Seokjin had stuffed his phone in his back pocket. He took it out as he walked downstairs, Jimin still trailing after him.
He needed Namjoon to come home early. He couldn’t take care of a disoriented Taehyung, a confused Hoseok, a stressed out Yoongi, a hovering Jimin, and a two-year-old Jeongguk all at the same time. Especially not when he was this worked up. Seokjin was the first to admit that seeing Taehyung have a seizure took a toll on him. He felt like crying just as much as Taehyung did.
Seokjin closed his eyes as the phone rang, praying that Namjoon wasn’t in a meeting. Fortunately, Namjoon picked up on the second ring.
“Hey, babe...? Yeah, you might have to come home a little early.”
Here is a good time to note what Seokjin usually gives the boys for breakfast (because I think kids' meals are so cute, so I want to share)
1) Half a banana and some oatmeal (chocolate chips stirred in on special occasions, but usually it's apples and brown sugar or a little bit of peanut butter)
2) One egg with half a piece of toast
3) Half a bagel with cream cheese and strawberry jam
4) A whole piece of toast with peanut butter and honey on top and fruit on the side
5) Half a ham and cheese omelette
So cute, right? UGH. Little meals for little people.
Also I am so sure that they eat so much apple sauce. Like I know for a fact that Seokjin makes it through the day by giving all the kids tons of snacks, especially because so many of them are having trouble growing. So like apple sauce, pretzels and humus, carrots and peanut butter, apple slices, half a banana, cucumbers and soy sauce, and raisins, and like... sweet potato fries if they're lucky. And oatmeal chocolate chip cookies if they're REALLY lucky.
Okay I'm going to stop there. I think maybe two more chapters of this at the minimum, but we will see. There's a lot to get done!
Jin's story is up next, whoop!
Namjoon came home, his suit rumpled from the train ride. Seokjin wasn’t used to seeing his husband so anxious. Fortunately, Namjoon’s features relaxed when he saw Taehyung sleeping soundly on Seokjin’s arms. He started towards him, but Seokjin shook his head and pointed to the kitchen silently. He didn’t want to talk and wake up Taehyung.
Namjoon looked where Seokjin was pointing, his eyes falling on Yoongi.
Ever since coming inside, Yoongi had been hovering by the back door. His hands left prints on the sliding glass; his nose left a foggy mark. Jimin, Hoseok, and Jeongguk were all playing quietly, seemingly unaffected by Taehyung’s seizure. However, Yoongi was upset about the state of the backyard, and Seokjin needed Namjoon to help him tidy up before he had a panic attack.
Namjoon nodded at Seokjin and made his way over to Yoongi. Seokjin listened in on their conversation while pressing a couple kisses to Taehyung’s forehead.
“Hey, Sugar. You okay?”
“It’s messy outside, Joon,” Yoongi answered, his voice a little more high pitched than usual.
“Well, then we’d better clean it up!” Namjoon said easily. His voice changed as he addressed the younger boys. “Come on, kiddos. Let’s go clean up some sticks. Hoseok, I bet you can hold a lot, huh? Jimin, how about you?”
Both Hoseok and Jimin shouted in affirmation and ran outside the second Namjoon opened the door. Jeongguk toddled after them. He looked confused but happy.
As soon as Namjoon closed the door behind them, Seokjin all but melted into the couch. He had been trying to keep calm in front of the other boys, but now that they were gone, he could let his anxiety show. He squeezed onto Taehyung.
He felt like such a failure. He shouldn’t have called Namjoon home to help him. Namjoon had a job; he worked hard to provide for their family. Seokjin was supposed to hold down the fort at home, so that Namjoon didn’t have to worry about the kids while he was at the office.
But it wasn’t easy to raise five boys. While Seokjin could keep calm under pressure, sometimes it was scary to be a parent. Watching Taehyung have a seizure had left Seokjin shaken, and it was near impossible to keep Yoongi happy, Hoseok occupied, Jimin out of trouble, and Jeongguk safe while he fussed over Taehyung.
Seokjin couldn’t do it all on his own today. He needed his husband to help, even if it made him feel unbelievably guilty.
Fortunately, Taehyung slept soundly for a full hour as the boys cleaned up the lawn. It gave Seokjin the opportunity to calm down and just hold him for a little while as he tried to remind himself that even if Taehyung was sick, he was in good hands. He was safe. Seokjin didn’t have control of Taehyung’s seizures, but he did have control over how Taehyung was cared for, and he was doing a decent job of making sure Taehyung was as happy and healthy as possible.
When the boys came back in, Namjoon walked straight over to Taehyung. “How’s this little guy?” he asked, reaching down to card his fingers through Taehyung’s hair.
“He threw up on me twice,” Seokjin answered. He didn’t know if Taehyung felt nauseous after seizures or if he just upset himself to the point of vomiting, but he usually got sick after his epileptic episodes.
“Aw, TaeTae...” Namjoon cooed. He played with Taehyung’s hair for a minute before his eyes shifted from Taehyung’s peaceful sleeping face. He looked up at Seokjin. “And how are you?” he asked.
Seokjin took a shaky breath. “Not well.”
Namjoon sat on the edge of the couch. His hand cradled the back of Taehyung’s head, but he was still staring at Seokjin. “Yeah? What’s going on?”
Seokjin looked down at Taehyung and then to the other kids, who already had strewn toys around the living room. He chewed on his bottom lip. “I wasn’t a good dad today,” he answered, his voice shaking. It was taking everything he had not to cry in front of the boys.
Namjoon hummed. He kept one hand on Taehyung, but he used the other to gently cradle Seokjin’s cheek. “You’re always a good dad,” he promised. And then, because he was Namjoon and he knew Seokjin better than Seokjin knew himself, he got to the heart of the issue without ever having to ask why Seokjin felt the way he did. “You’re the one who’s always telling me that it’s okay to ask for help. I’m glad you called me. I know how stressful it is for you when Taehyung has a seizure.”
Seokjin brushed Namjoon’s hand away. “Right. Stressful for me.”
“Stressful for us,” Namjoon corrected. He looked back to Taehyung. “It’s terrifying to have a kid who’s so sick.”
“Yeah,” Seokjin agreed. His arms wrapped a little tighter around his baby. Taehyung’s tiny mouth was hanging open, and there was a puddle of drool on Seokjin’s shirt. Seokjin’s heart ached; he loved Taehyung so much. “...Still. I’m sorry I made you come home early.”
Namjoon snorted. Seokjin bit his bottom lip. It wasn’t often that he made Namjoon frustrated. “Why?” Namjoon asked.
Seokjin turned his head away from Namjoon. “Because,” he said. “You work hard all day. You have a job. This is my job, and I haven’t done anything today. I was supposed to vacuum, and do the laundry, and make dinner. But it’s too late to make the chicken tortellini soup I had planned, and I don’t have anything else to make, but I don’t know when I’ll be able to go to the store-“
“Hey,” Namjoon said, cutting him off. “Don’t worry about dinner. We can make mac and cheese.” Seokjin frowned, and Namjoon groaned. “Jin, babe, our kids can eat mac and cheese,” he said, distressed.
“But it’s not healthy,” Seokjin argued.
“Not every dinner has to be healthy.” Namjoon’s eyebrows furrowed together. “And not everything has to be perfect. It’s okay if you couldn’t vacuum today. Taehyung had a seizure.”
Taehyung stirred in his sleep. Namjoon covered his mouth when he realized how loud he was being. When he settled back down, Namjoon continued, albeit in a much quieter voice.
“Taehyung had a seizure,” Namjoon repeated. “Dropping everything to help him? That was the right decision. He needed you. And you needed me as backup, and that’s okay. You made all the right decisions today, Seokjin. I’m proud of you, so stop putting yourself down.”
Seokjin crinkled his nose and turned his head a little further into the cushion. “I dunno,” he said. He didn’t want to admit Namjoon was right.
Namjoon snorted and leaned down to kiss Seokjin’s cheeks. “You’re a great dad,” he promised. “These kids are so lucky to have you, you know? No one has ever loved them like you do. Like we do. And if sometimes there’s not a vegetable at dinner or if sometimes the bathroom is a little dirty, then that’s okay. I know you just wanna be a provider and all, but a good dad is measured by how much he loves his kids, not by how much TV his kids watch or how clean his house is.”
Seokjin looked to Namjoon and their eyes locked. Honestly, Seokjin felt like crying. Today felt like it was stretching on for an eternity, and Namjoon was making too much sense. He opened his mouth to reply –maybe to tell Namjoon how much he loved him- but Yoongi interrupted before he could.
“But I like things clean!” Yoongi said, his little face pinched up.
Seokjin gaped for a second before a laugh fell from his lips. “Oh, Sugar, I know,” Seokjin promised, beckoning Yoongi over. He pressed a kiss through his hair.
Namjoon stood up. “Let me go put the little ones down for a nap. And then we’re going to snuggle on this couch together. And then I’m making mac and cheese. Because it’s delicious.”
“Mac and cheese!” Jimin cheered, stretching his arms up joyfully. Namjoon took the opportunity to sweep him up into his arms and blow a couple raspberries onto his tummy. Jimin squealed happily.
Jimin’s happy giggles caught Jeongguk’s attention, and the two-year-old toddled over to Namjoon. He pulled on his pant leg, and Namjoon scooped him up as well. “All right, boys. Let’s take a quick nap, I’m sure you guys are exhausted,” he said. Seokjin winced. It was definitely long past naptime. “Come along, Hoseok.”
Hoseok scrambled up from his block tower. He seemed to like Namjoon; he followed him upstairs with a happy smile on his face.
Yoongi crawled up onto the couch next to Seokjin. His small socked-feet nudged Seokjin’s knees. “You won’t let things be messy, right?” he asked. One of his hands held onto Seokjin’s t-shirt, just under where Taehyung was resting.
“No, Yoongi, of course not,” he promised. “But if things are ever messy, it’s okay. You don’t have to be scared of messes.”
Yoongi made a disgruntled noise, like he didn’t quite believe Seokjin, but he distracted himself by peering at Taehyung. “Is TaeTae ‘kay?”
Seokjin smiled weakly. “Yeah, TaeTae is just fine. He’s sleeping now,” he said, putting a finger to his lips. Yoongi copied him so they were both shushing each other. Seokjin smiled, and Yoongi smiled back. Seokjin pulled a funny face, and Yoongi made a face back.
A weight lifted off of Seokjin’s shoulders. He hadn’t realized how worried he had been about Yoongi until right this second. It was good to see him laughing. “You’re cute, kid,” Seokjin said, quick kissing Yoongi’s cheek.
Seokjin had always loved kids.
He worked in a daycare in high school, and he went to college for early elementary education. He managed to find a job as a second grade teacher as soon as he graduated, and while the school he worked at was in a dangerous neighborhood, the kids were adorable. It broke Seokjin’s heart to know that so many of them came from abusive homes or absent parents.
It was simultaneously the best and worst job Seokjin had ever had. The kids were so ill-behaved, and despite heroic efforts from their kindergarten and first grade teachers, their reading and math scores were all over the chart. Some of the kids only knew a handful of letters. Most failed at simple addition.
It had been years of struggling to teach noisy kids during the day and coming home to cry into Namjoon’s arms at night. However, it was all worth it. Seokjin was so proud whenever any of his students learned a new word or math problem. He brought in snacks for his class, he made behavioral charts, he doled out praise and affection.
And then he was fired.
The school had been going through serious budgeting problems. Seokjin was one of the newer teachers, and while the administration assured him that he had been a great addition to the staff, he had been one of the few without tenure.
At first, Seokjin hadn’t known what to do with his time. Substitute teaching was an option, but not a good one. Seokjin grew tired of bouncing from desk to desk, and he missed having long lasting relationships with kids.
That’s when Namjoon brought up foster care.
Seokjin had known that Namjoon always planned on fostering, but he couldn’t have predicted how well it would work in their family. Seokjin was a great teacher; he was good at helping kids unlearn bad behaviors and adjust accordingly. He was well educated on childhood development. More than that, Seokjin just loved kids.
Seokjin hadn’t jumped on the idea immediately, but after watching the Disney movie Up and crying more about Russell’s dad not showing up to his Wilderness Explorers meetings than Ellie dying, he knew that foster care was the only option. Every kid needed a dad.
Every kid needed a dad.
Seokjin and Namjoon had started the process of becoming foster parents the day after watching the movie. Seokjin would never regret it: not when Jimin kicked at him during a tantrum, not when Yoongi suffocated him with his constant hovering, not when Jeongguk’s screams woke him up in the middle of the night, not when he was cleaning Taehyung’s vomit off his neck, and not when Hoseok mood shifted from smiles to tears in the middle of the grocery store. Not ever.
As often as Namjoon told him that their kids were lucky to have a dad like him, Seokjin felt the opposite. He was lucky to have them, not the other way around.
Seokjin felt the air get knocked out of him when Jimin jumped on his stomach. He woke up gasping for breath. Jimin’s short arms wrapped around his neck, and it took Seokjin a full minute to recover enough to hug him back. “Good morning, Jimin.”
Jimin pulled back a little, his face almost on top of Seokjin’s; he was so close. Seokjin closed his eyes. Jimin always woke him up so early.
Jimin’s breath was warm on his cheek, and Seokjin cracked one eye open. A huge smile stretched across Jimin’s face. “Hi,” Jimin said.
Seokjin smiled back. “Hi!” he chirped, and Jimin giggled, ducking his head into Seokjin’s chest. Seokjin grinned and pulled back the covers. He settled him and Jimin so they were both lying on their sides, facing each other. Jimin always looked adorable, tucked into the crisp white sheets with his eyes sparkling. Seokjin didn’t know how he was so awake. Jimin was the only morning person in their family. “Hey, what do you think we should do today, Minnie?”
Jimin’s eyes widened and a hopeful look took over his features. “Can we go to Sesame Place?!” he asked excitedly.
Seokjin laughed. “No. Joon has to work today, and we can’t go without him,” he replied. Honestly, Seokjin would probably die if he tried to take 5 kids to Sesame Place by himself. Plus, Yoongi was getting a little old for it. Maybe Seokjin would take the younger boys when school started back up and Yoongi was in class. He could always take Yoongi on his own special trip later.
“Oh...” Jimin looked downcast for a moment; however, he brightened quickly. “Can we go to Target?” he asked instead.
Seokjin’s smile only grew. “Target?” he asked.
“Target!” Jimin exclaimed.
Seokjin had no idea why Jimin wanted to go to Target, especially as a substitute for Sesame Place. If he wasn’t so tired, he was sure he’d be crying laughing. Instead, he smiled into his pillow, eyes closed. “We could... Or we could do something more fun. It’s summer, we should do something outside.”
“Like the playground?” Jimin asked.
Seokjin nodded. “We could go to the playground,” he offered. “Hoseok really liked the slide last time we went. He would probably want to go, too.”
Jimin gasped in excitement. The sight made Seokjin grin. All of the kids had adorable features, but Jimin definitely had the cutest mouth. It made Seokjin want to smush his cheeks together, so he did. Jimin squealed and his little feet kicked hard at Seokjin’s stomach.
“Hey, hey, careful. Gentle, gentle,” Seokjin said, catching Jimin’s tiny feet in one of his hands. “Is that a yes, then? You wanna go to the playground?”
“Yes!” Jimin exclaimed. His face turned serious. “But not now. Everyone’s sleeping.”
“Right, of course,” Seokjin agreed just as seriously.
Jimin blinked and then grinned. He snuggled closer to Seokjin, and Seokjin wrapped an arm around him. He smiled when Jimin stuffed his face into his t-shirt. His flat nose all but disappeared against Seokjin’s sternum.
“You okay?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Jimin answered quietly.
“Are you sure?”
“Mhm.” Jimin closed his eyes. Seokjin ran a hand up and down his back. Jimin seemed to enjoy the feel of it, and he left his eyes closed while Seokjin tried to remind him how nice gentle touch could be. When Jimin spoke, he spoke suddenly. “Jin, you’re really nice.”
Seokjin startled. “Am I?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Jimin said. His eyes blinked lazily; Seokjin’s hand on his back calming him down. “This house is different than other houses, I think. And I’m glad you’re here, and that you’re my dad.”
Whatever trace of sleep Seokjin still had in him felt like it had been kicked out of his chest. He was fully awake now.
While he wasn’t sure that Jimin knew what he was talking about or if he remembered his last house, Seokjin was still unbelievably grateful to hear Jimin say something so validating. He wanted his household to be as different as possible from Jimin’s last home. He wanted Jimin to be comfortable; he wanted to be Jimin’s dad. Even if he hadn’t filled out the adoption paperwork yet, he wanted to be Jimin’s dad. “I am your dad,” Seokjin promised. It was just a matter of getting written confirmation. “Jimin, I’m so glad you’re here.”
“Of course,” Seokjin said. “I love you so much, Jiminnie. You’re so important to me. You always will be, no matter where you go or what you do.” Even if Jimin moved away to stay with different foster parents, Seokjin would still be there for him night and day.
“Oh,” Jimin said. He took a shaky breath. “Jinnie, I want chocolate oatmeal for breakfast.”
Seokjin managed a watery laugh. He pressed a kiss through Jimin’s hair. “Sure, kid. Anything you want.”
Once Seokjin was awake enough to face the day, he sat Jimin on his hip and carried him downstairs. During the day, Jimin was so rowdy and full of energy that it was nearly impossible for Seokjin to snuggle him. All the other boys wanted hugs and kisses all day long; however, Jimin was strictly a morning cuddler, and Seokjin wasn’t going to waste the opportunity. He nuzzled Jimin close as he walked him downstairs.
Seokjin might as well have been on autopilot. His arms reached for the instant oatmeal and peanut butter without having to be told. Jimin squirmed a little in his arms. “Are you getting the chocolate chips?” he asked.
Seokjin smiled fondly at Jimin’s tiny voice. “Yeah, buddy,” he promised, reaching up into the baking cabinet. He let Jimin sit on the counter as he made breakfast. Jimin kicked his feet against the cabinet door as he waited. Seokjin caught one of his feet on the backswing. “Be gentle with the cabinets, Jimin,” he said as a reminder, and then pretended to eat Jimin’s toes just to soften the sting of it.
Jimin giggled brightly as Seokjin mimed nibbling Jimin’s foot like a corncob. “Jinnie, no!”
“It’s tasty!” Seokjin replied, before pressing kisses all over Jimin’s clean toes and the sole of his foot. The microwave beeped, and Seokjin took out Jimin’s oatmeal. He stirred in a little peanut butter and a lot of chocolate chips. When it was cool, he passed it to Jimin. He listened to Jimin babble as he started working on everyone else’s breakfast.
“When I grow up I’m going to have glasses,” he said, taking a big scoop of oatmeal. He made happy noises around his spoon at the combination of chocolate and peanut butter. “Nonny has glasses.”
“From Bubble Guppies,” Jimin explained, taking another bite. Seokjin hummed and stirred up another bowl of oatmeal. He passed it to a sleepy Yoongi as he stumbled into the kitchen, still scrubbing his eyes. Jimin prattled on. “He has glasses, and he looks really cool. Also, sometimes Joon wears glasses. And I want glasses, too, just not the square ones that Joon has, I want the round ones like Nonny and Hairy Otter.”
“Harry Potter,” Seokjin corrected. “Tell your brother good morning.”
Jimin took another, dramatic bite of oatmeal. “Good morning, Yoongi!” he said with his mouth full. His feet started kicking at the kitchen cabinets again.
“Good morning,” Yoongi replied. He grabbed a spoon and took his oatmeal to the end of the table. Jimin kept waffling on as Yoongi tried to wake up and Seokjin continued with breakfast. Seokjin kept an ear out for Jeongguk, knowing he would probably want to get out of his crib soon. However, he seemed to be sleeping in this morning because Hoseok woke up first.
“Hello,” Hoseok said meekly. He hovered at the doorway to the kitchen, and Seokjin smiled at him invitingly. Hoseok was still nervous to join the family in the morning or otherwise. Seokjin tried to make him feel as welcome as possible.
“Good morning, Hoseok!” Seokjin said brightly. “Sit at the table, and I’ll bring you some breakfast.”
Hoseok seemed relieved by the invitation and quickly climbed into his seat. Seokjin put his bowl on the table and sprinkled on his chocolate chips right in front of his eyes. Hoseok’s whole face lit up. He grabbed his spoon excitedly. Seokjin beamed as he watched him gobble it down as fast as possible.
The baby monitor buzzed behind him.
“Okay, boys,” Seokjin said, checking the time on the microwave. He had two minutes. “No choking while I go upstairs to get Jeongguk and Taehyung,” he said, picking up Jimin and sitting him properly at the table. He dashed upstairs, knowing full well he wouldn’t beat the microwave but wanting to try anyway.
Jeongguk wasn’t crying, so Seokjin didn’t feel anxious as he picked him up out of his crib and quick changed his diaper. He was worried about Taehyung, however. He didn’t want to wake him up, but he had been sleeping for ages. If he didn’t wake up soon, he’d never go down for his nap that afternoon, and then he’d be just as tired as before.
“Rise and shine, TaeTae,” Seokjin said gently as he flipped on the lights. Taehyung buried a little further under the covers. “No, no, none of that.”
In one practiced motion, Seokjin managed to pick Taehyung up in one arm with Jeongguk in the other. He carried them both downstairs, singing to them quietly to try to wake them both up. Taehyung blinked grumpily as Seokjin buckled him into his special seat.
“Here, let me help with that,” Namjoon said, grabbing Jeongguk so Seokjin had two hands to strap Taehyung in. Jeongguk made a whining noise and reached his arms out for Seokjin. “See, I told you he likes you better,” Namjoon said, passing Jeongguk off as soon as Seokjin had his hands free.
Namjoon was all dressed for work, minus his tie. It was draped over his shoulders, and Seokjin pressed a kiss to his cheek. “He doesn’t like me better. He likes us both. I’m just his snuggle buddy today,” Seokjin said. He pressed a kiss to Namjoon’s cheek. “Also, it’s good of you to join us this morning.”
Namjoon winced sheepishly. “Yeah... Getting out of bed was harder than usual.”
“You always have a hard time waking up,” Seokjin commented airily. He set Jeongguk into his high chair and gratefully accepted the finished oatmeal Namjoon had made and split into two bowls for Jeongguk and Taehyung. He gave it to Jeongguk with a spoon. “I’m starting to think your job is too stressful.”
Namjoon gave Taehyung his breakfast. “It’s worth it, if it means taking care of all my little friends here. Hoseok, high five!” Namjoon said, giving Hoseok some attention.
Seokjin had noticed Namjoon had been more intentional than usual with Hoseok lately. He was always trying to include him and make him feel like he belonged.
Hoseok managed a weak high five, and Namjoon pouted. “Aw, come on, Hoseok, harder than that,” he said. Hoseok smiled and hit Namjoon’s hand harder. “Ow! So strong!”
“I am strong! I’m like... super strong!” Hoseok said, and Seokjin grinned. It was good to hear Hoseok talking voluntarily. It was also good to hear Namjoon reaffirm just how much he loved their kids. He knew he loved them, but after talking with Jimin that morning, Seokjin was starting to realize just how much he wanted this to be permanent. He wanted these kids forever.
“You are super strong,” Namjoon agreed.
“Joon, I want a high five!” Jimin demanded.
“Okay,” Namjoon agreed easily. He held out a hand for a low five. “Jimin, harder than that! ...Harder than that! ...Come on, as hard as you ca- Ouch!” Namjoon shook his hand out, like Jimin had stung him. “Wow, you really are strong! Good job!”
Jeongguk squirmed in his high chair. “Ah! Me!” he yelped, leaning over the plastic table top to his car seat. His spoon nearly clattered to the floor, but Seokjin caught it before it could drop.
Namjoon laughed, his smile just as gorgeous as it had been when Seokjin met him in high school. “Of course I need a high five from Jeonggukkie!” he exclaimed. This time, he held his hand out towards Jeongguk. He let Jeongguk hit it as many times in a row as he wanted.
Meanwhile, Seokjin turned on the Keurig and brewed Namjoon a cup of coffee. As he got out the creamer and sugar, he watched his kids all sit around the table. His heart ached and swelled for each and every one of them.
Seokjin had become a foster dad knowing that the situation was temporary. However even Hoseok, whom he had only had for a few weeks now, had wormed so deeply into his heart, that he couldn’t imagine letting him live with anyone else.
Hoseok seemed to catch Seokjin’s eye. He shrunk in his seat for a little, and Seokjin winked at him to let him know he wasn’t doing anything wrong. He could see the energy and brightness Hoseok was bridling back. Hopefully one day soon, Hoseok would feel comfortable enough to be himself around his new family.
Actually, hopefully one day soon, they would be a real family.
“We’re still goin’ to the park today. Right, Jinnie?” Jimin asked.
“The park?” Taehyung questioned.
“Yep,” Seokjin replied. “I think it will be fun to all go together.” Although, it would be fun to do anything together with boys as great as Seokjin’s. Something stirred in his chest, and he realized that he wouldn’t be able to sit on this feeling for the rest of the day. Something had to be done.
Seokjin was filling out forms when Namjoon came home from work. Namjoon peered over his shoulder. “What’s that?” he asked, gesturing to the paperwork spread over the kitchen table.
Seokjin grunted. His glasses balanced precariously on the tip of his nose. “Adoption papers.”
“For Yoongi?” Namjoon asked. He grabbed one of the thick stacks of papers, obviously confused by the sheer volume of forms. Seokjin adjusted his glasses and looked up at Namjoon.
“No,” he said hesitantly. “For all of them.”
Namjoon blinked. His eyes were puffy after a long day at work, and his tie was slightly askew after the long train ride home. Seokjin held his breath, until a smile swept over Namjoon’s face. He positively beamed at Seokjin. “About time,” he said, and Seokjin flushed.
Seokjin leapt up from the table and jumped on Namjoon with a massive hug. “Hey!” Namjoon yelped, dropping his messenger bag, but Seokjin hardly heard anything Namjoon was saying. (He was too busy kissing him.)
Ugh, have this subpar chapter that took 4 days longer than I initially planned for it to take.
Also important update:
I think I am going to start another work in this series, so the next chapter won't be for a little because I'm going to start that one before I finish this one.
But the next one is going to be about when they're all teenagers (you all won't even BELIEVE some of the headcanons I have), and even though they're older, it will still be VERY family focused. We'll get to see how some of their problems have manifested, and what their interests are as young adults. And while this story was supposed to be about Hoseok finding a place in the family, the next one will be about Jeongguk not really understanding his role in the fam.
(Because he'll be frustrated that he can't see his biological mom, and he'll be all upset with namjin, like "YOU GUYS AREN'T EVEN MY REAL PARENTS" kind of upset, and like tell me you don't want angsty teen Jeongguk? TELL ME.)
But yep! And if you want more preschool stuff, don't even worry. I wanna have a ton more stuff. I'm thinking I'm going to do one with the family discovering some mental health problems I've sort of been touching on with Yoongi, and like... also potty training with Taehyung and Jeongguk (which will be so cute) and like... Jimin and Hoseok working on letters and reading. So there is more to come. I love this universe!
Chapter 8: ...One Big Happy Family
I've never stepped foot in a Family Court/Court of Common Pleas, so excuse me for any inaccuracies, I researched as much as possible.
Also if you want to hear the actor that plays Sam in "Lord of the Rings" (David Shannon) read the book that Seokjin reads the boys for bedtime, then click here. I was so weirded out when I found it! So cool!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Jinnie?” Jimin asked, his arms looped around Seokjin’s neck.
“Hm?” Seokjin hummed as he carried Jimin and Taehyung back to their shared bedroom. He had just given them both a bath, and now it was bedtime. Jeongguk had gone to bed a half an hour ago. Everyone’s pajamas were fresh from the drier –all warm and snuggly- but Taehyung and Jimin’s hair was still a little damp. Seokjin’s shoulder was wet where Taehyung’s head was resting.
Jimin squirmed a little, his chubby fingers gripping at the hem of Seokjin’s neckline. “Do we have to go to sleep now?” he asked, his eyes wide.
Seokjin snorted at the hopeful look on Jimin’s face. “Yeah, buddy. It’s bedtime,” he said.
Jimin whined. His arm flew out, his fist balled up and ready to punch, but Seokjin bounced him on his hip before he could hit him or Taehyung. “Hey, hey, hey, gentle, gentle. Everything’s okay,” he said, pressing a kiss to Jimin’s cheek. “It’s fun to fall asleep, remember? I’m gonna read you a story, and then give you lots of kisses, and then you’re going to dream about all kinds of things.”
Jimin pouted and Seokjin kissed his stuck out lip. He smiled when Jimin pulled back, surprised.
“Do we have to read a story?” Taehyung asked. He looked absolutely wiped. He’d been exhausted lately –probably due to his most recent seizure- and Jin’s smile softened with one look at Taehyung’s droopy eyes.
“We’ll read in your bed,” he promised. “And then you can just fall asleep if you want to.”
Taehyung let out a pained huff into Seokjin’s neck. He certainly had a flair for dramatics. But fortunately for Taehyung, that was one of Seokjin’s favorite things about him.
Seokjin managed to kick open the door to Taehyung and Jimin’s room. He set Jimin down on his feet while he tucked Taehyung into bed. The poor little thing was limp against the sheets the second Seokjin laid him down. “Oh, Taehyungie, oh no,” Seokjin cooed, brushing a few damp strands of hair off his forehead. “You’ll get to sleep so soon.”
“Got a book!” Jimin cheered from the opposite side of the room. He pulled out his picture book from the shelf, accidently pulling out a couple of other books with it. They toppled to the floor.
Jimin ignored them in favor of running over to Seokjin, his knees knocking into his book with every step. “Let’s see what you picked,” Seokjin said, catching Jimin easily when he jumped into his arms. The book got stuck between them. Jimin wiggled it out so Seokjin could read the title. “A Bad Case of Stripes.” He gasped. “My favorite!”
Jimin giggled. “You always say that.”
Seokjin shrugged. “Maybe you always pick really good books,” he said, settling back against Taehyung’s headboard. He balanced Jimin in his lap. The book rested open on Jimin’s knees so he could flip the pages, and Seokjin used his free hand to play with Taehyung’s hair as he fell asleep.
“’Camilla Cream loved lima beans,’” Seokjin started.
“I like lima beans!” Jimin exclaimed.
“Like cereal,” Taehyung muttered, and Seokjin knew just what he meant. He usually gave the boys lima beans in a little bowl with milk poured over top.
“Lima beans are good,” Jin said, kissing the back of Jimin’s head and giving Taehyung’s hair a ruffle. He kept reading. “’Camilla Cream loved lima beans, but she never ate them. All of her friends hated lima beans, and she wanted to fit in.’”
As Seokjin read, Jimin started to slump against his chest. He always made a fuss about going to sleep, but as soon as Seokjin had him in his lap, he started to get drowsy. Seokjin rubbed one of his cute, pudgy arms.
The book started to reach its climax, and the boys started growing more and more sleepy. Everyone was winding down. Seokjin was just about to wrap up the book, when Namjoon threw open the door.
“Jin,” he practically shouted, startling a very sleepy Taehyung upright in bed. “Look.”
Seokjin blinked, just as surprised as Taehyung was. Namjoon didn’t even give him a moment to process, just shoved his phone into his face. It took him a minute to register what he was looking at.
He snatched the phone out of Namjoon’s hands. “Is this-?”
“Read the email, Jin! Read it,” he exclaimed. His hands were clenched in excitement, knuckles white as his nails dug into his palms.
Jin read aloud. “Dear Mr. Seokjin and Namjoon Kim, we are happy to inform you that you have received a hearing to place seven-year-old Min Yoongi in your custody-“ Seokjin looked up sharply. “Joon,” he breathed.
Namjoon’s smile was so wide it nearly split his face in half. “I know, I know.” He paused, trying to regain his cool before another smile splayed across his face. “God, I know.”
“Have you told him?” Seokjin asked.
Namjoon shook his head. “No, I came straight to you.”
Taehyung made a disgruntled noise. “Why is everyone shouting?” he asked, hiding his face in Jimin’s leg. Jimin patted his head.
Seokjin looked down at the two of them –his boys- and couldn’t help but pull them into a massive hug. “Because we’re all going to be a family,” he said.
Jimin frowned. “But we’re already a family,” he said, pointing to all the pictures he had drawn hanging above his bedframe. They all featured Seokjin, Namjoon, Yoongi, and Jeongguk. Some more recent pictures had Hoseok in them as well.
Seokjin laughed, too joyful to do anything else, and squeezed Jimin a little tighter. “You’re right, you’re right, but now it’s going to be official.”
They had waited so long to have a court date set to adopt Yoongi. The paperwork had taken hours, and the processing had taken months. But finally –finally- they were going to be interviewed by a judge to have Yoongi placed permanently in their care.
And if they could do it for Yoongi, they could do it for all the other boys.
“I’m gonna get him,” Namjoon said. “Wait right there, hold on.”
Seokjin was happy to stay where he was, even when Jimin seemed to find his second wind. He laughed when Jimin tackled him, forcing him into the pillows. “Help me tickle, Tae Tae!” Jimin yelped.
Taehyung threw an arm out, but it only laid flat against Seokjin’s stomach, he was so tired. Jimin, meanwhile, tried (key word: tried) to tickle Seokjin’s neck. Seokjin laughed anyway.
Namjoon came back quickly with Yoongi and Hoseok in toe. “Okay, okay, hold on boys, let Jin up,” he said, always the knight in shining armor. Seokjin was grateful to be saved, even if Jimin and Taehyung’s tickling usually felt more like scratching. “Who’s gonna tell him? Do you want to?” Namjoon asked, swooping Yoongi up to sit on his shoulders. Yoongi seemed confused as he clutched at Namjoon’s hair for stability.
Seokjin snorted at the pleading look on Namjoon’s face. “I think you ought to tell him, babe. It seems like you want to.”
Namjoon lit up at that. “Okay!” he chirped. He tilted his head back to look at Yoongi. “Guess what’s finally happening kid!”
Yoongi frowned. “I don’t know, but can you put me down?” he asked nervously.
“Sure, sure,” Namjoon answered. He set Yoongi on the bed next to Seokjin. Every movement Namjoon made was a little too much, a little too overexcited. “But okay, so, it’s still not official, and I’m not actually sure, so I don’t want to promise anything, and we have to answer a few questions before it’s all said and done, so don’t think of it as final quite yet, and-“
“Namjoon, spit it out!” Seokjin demanded.
Namjoon ran his hands through his hair real quick before grabbing both of Yoongi’s knees. “We’re going to get to adopt you,” he finally finished.
Yoongi blinked. “What?” he asked.
“What?” Hoseok echoed.
Namjoon looked flustered. Seokjin felt the same way. He had expected Yoongi to be more excited. “What do you mean ‘what’? We’ve been talking about it, remember? Your caseworker finally approved Jin and me as your parents. We’re going to adopt you,” Namjoon said.
Yoongi’s bottom lip wobbled. “What?”
“Yeah, Jinnie, what?” Jimin asked, tugging on Jin’s sleeve.
“Hold on, boys,” Seokjin said, not ready to answer all the little ones’ questions yet. He put a hand on Yoongi’s shoulder and turned him so they were making eye contact. “Adoption means you don’t have to go to any new houses, remember? You can stay here. It’s supposed to be exciting. We thought you’d be happy, Sugar,” he said, worried. If Yoongi didn’t want to be theirs, then-
“But I am happy,” Yoongi said before Seokjin could start worrying. His voice was wet with tears. He sniffled. “I’m really, really happy,” he said before his shoulders started wracking.
Namjoon looked alarmed. “What’s wrong?” he asked, but Yoongi couldn’t answer.
“I think he’s just relieved,” Seokjin said, awkwardly side-hugging Yoongi with Taehyung clutching to one arm and Jimin squirming in his lap.
“Relieved...” Namjoon said. He blinked owlishly. “Oh, Sugar. Me, too!” he promised, swooping Yoongi up under the armpits and spinning him in a circle. He hugged him close, and Yoongi’s feet dangled in the air. “I’m so relieved you get to stay with us.”
“Wait,” Hoseok said, shuffling over to Seokjin as Namjoon snuggled Yoongi. “’Adopshun’ means staying?” he asked.
Seokjin smoothed Hoseok’s hair flat on his head. “Yes,” he answered. “It means that Joonie and me get to be your parents, and you get to be our kid, and you can live here for as long as you want, and we’ll get to help you and be there for you your whole life long.” Hoseok looked nervous, and Seokjin was quick to reassure him. “Namjoon and I are going to take care of you no matter what, but adoption makes it official.”
“I want to be official,” Hoseok said, his tiny mouth having trouble fitting around the big word.
Seokjin nodded. “Okay,” he said because he fully intended on adopting Hoseok the second the courts allowed him to. However, he wanted to make sure Hoseok felt the same way. “You want to be here? You don’t miss mommy?”
Hoseok’s wavered. “Um... Um...” A crease appeared his eyebrows, and Seokjin reached out to hold Hoseok’s hand. “I miss mommy,” he started, “But... but I don’t think I like mommy.”
Hoseok might as well have kicked him in the chest; the feeling would have been the same. Seokjin squeezed his hand. “Okay. That’s okay,” he promised. “I wish your mom had been nicer to you,” he said honestly. Not for the first time, he wondered just what Hoseok’s last home had been like.
“So I can stay?”
Seokjin threaded his fingers with Hoseok’s tiny ones. “Of course,” he promised. “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure you get to stay with me for as long as possible.”
It would be hard to adopt Hoseok, considering his circumstances. It was doubtful they would be able to get custody unless Hoseok’s mother stepped forward. They had no other way to find and contact her or her relatives otherwise.
But Seokjin had meant it when he said he would do everything he could to keep Hoseok as long as possible, and if that meant jumping through bureaucratic holes, he would do it.
Hoseok seemed happy, but Jimin seemed distressed. “I don’t wanna be left alone,” Jimin said, pouting. His big bottom lip stuck out, and Seokjin nudged it with nose.
“That won’t happen,” he promised. “Namjoon and I want to adopt you, too. And Taehyung.”
“Me?” Taehyung asked.
“What about Gukkie?” Jimin demanded, kicking one of his feet. His heel slammed into Seokjin’s shin.
Seokjin reached out to grab Jimin’s toes. “Gentle,” he reminded him again because Jimin had been a little more aggressive than usual tonight. Maybe tomorrow morning they would do some more of their exercises before the other boys woke up. “But Gukkie, too. All of you, honest. Namjoon and I have even started the paperwork, it’s just going to take a little while for your social workers to look over it.”
Jimin’s nose crinkled. “Annie?”
“Yes, that’s your social worker,” Jin said.
Jimin settled down then. He relaxed against Seokjin’s chest and stared at the wall. “Okay,” he agreed. “I’m not going anywhere else,” he said, like he had any say in the matter. Seokjin wished he did, that would make this all a lot easier.
“Okay. Are you okay?” Seokjin asked. Jimin nodded, shifting a little to get comfortable in Seokjin’s lap. “And is Taehyung okay?” Seokjin asked, turning to find Taehyung half asleep on his arm.
“I’m never okay,” Taehyung pouted. “My tummy hurts.”
Seokjin huffed out a laugh. “Okay, well that’s probably because of your medicine. It’ll get better when you go to sleep,” he promised. “But do you wanna stay here? With me and Namjoon.”
Taehyung blinked, waking up a little at that. He nodded. “Mhm. Yes,” he said, lifting his arms like he wanted Seokjin to pick him up. Seokjin used his free arm to pull Taehyung into a side hug instead, his arm wrapped around his tiny shoulders.
“And how is Yoongi over there?” he asked, checking up on everyone.
Yoongi was too busy laughing at something Namjoon had said to answer, and Namjoon shot Seokjin a smile. “Of course!” Namjoon answered. “He’s with me, we’re having a great time.”
Seokjin rolled his eyes. “Okay, well why don’t all the big boys have a great time somewhere else, so us little kids can go to sleep.”
“I’m not little,” Jimin argued, his head lolling back into the crook between Seokjin’s arm and ribs. All the excitement was catching up to him.
Namjoon took one looked at him and cracked a smile. “Okay, right, yeah. Out we go. Come on, Hoseok. Show me that block tower you were building. It looked really cool.”
Hoseok scurried off, following Namjoon like a duckling as he carried Yoongi out of the little boys’ bedroom. Seokjin stood up with Jimin and tucked Taehyung in. He quick pressed a kiss to his head before getting Jimin settled in bed as well.
“Goodnight, boys. I love you,” Seokjin said. He flipped off the lights. As he closed the door, he heard two little voices call back to him.
“Love you, too!”
“Night, love you!”
Seokjin’s heart swelled. It was crazy how much he could love such little people, but standing on the opposite side of Jimin and Taehyung’s closed bedroom door, he was positive he would give up everything just to protect his kids.
The whole house smelled like cinnamon. Whenever Seokjin was in a good mood, he felt like baking, and as it was, he currently had three loaves of zucchini bread in the oven. Every time he thought about finally getting to adopt Yoongi, he felt so excited he just had to do something.
Jeongguk stood with his hands and nose pressed against the glass door of the oven. His eyes were wide as he watched the bread rise.
“Watch out, Gukkie. That’s hot,” Seokjin said, moving him away from the oven. He put him up in the Learning Tower he had set up next to the island. Seokjin gave him a pinch of the pizza dough he was kneading. “Here, why don’t you help?” he said.
Jeongguk stuck a little ball of raw dough in his mouth and spit it out. “Yuck.”
Seokjin crinkled his nose, copying Jeongguks’ disgusted face. “Yeah, it’s not good when it’s not cooked,” he agreed. Folding and flipping the majority of the pizza dough for dinner, Seokjin thought about what he would put on it. Maybe pesto and chicken, Namjoon liked that. Yoongi liked spinach and tomato sauce.
“I’m squishin’ it,” Jeongguk said, interrupting Seokjin’s thought process. Seokjin looked over to Jeongguk’s station. He had dough oozing through his fingers as he squeezed it as hard as possible.
“You are,” Seokjin agreed. He grabbed a piece of pizza dough and rolled out a snake for Jeongguk. “See what other shapes you can make.”
Jeongguk held up the snake. Very focused, he pulled it apart into tiny sections. Seokjin smiled.
Jeongguk was so cute. Today, Seokjin had dressed him in a big t-shirt that could probably still fit Taehyung and short pinstriped overalls that hugged his cute diapered bottom. His hair was messy from where it had pressed up against the oven door, and he now had flour around his mouth from trying to eat the pizza dough. His tiny hands fought to carefully tear his snake apart, despite their lack of dexterity.
“Look!” Jeongguk said, holding up his broken pieces. Seokin was already looking.
“I see!” he said. “You made lots of little snakes.”
Jeongguk shook his hands and the dough stretched out.
As Seokjin started stretching the pizza dough out into circles over his knuckles, he glanced at the timer on the oven. His zucchini bread still had ten minutes. He was running perfectly on time.
Yoongi and Hoseok had helped grate the zucchini and level off measuring cups while the other boys took their naps. It had been nice to see them getting along, and if Seokjin listened carefully, he could hear them coloring together in the other room.
(“Hobi, you gotta put the caps back on the markers.”
“No, that’s the blue marker. You need the blue cap, not the yellow one.”
“Uh-oh, whoopsie daisies.”)
Jeongguk seemed to hear the boys, too. He turned and stilled for a minute, looking over the half-wall to try to see into the living room. “Hobi...” he said.
Seokjin smiled. Jeongguk had been the one to start using Hobi. He had a hard time saying Hoseok, and most of the other boys had cutesy nicknames, so it had stuck. It was cute that even Yoongi had taken to using it. “Do you wanna go play with Hoseok and Yoongi?” he asked.
Jeongguk turned around and blinked. “... No.”
“Okay. Just let me know if you want to get down,” he said.
Jeongguk lifted his arms. His sticky hands made grabbing motions at Seokjin. “Up.”
Seokjin frowned and pressed a kiss through Jeongguk’s hair. “Not right now, lovie.” Gotta finish making dinner.”
Seokjin finished stretching out the dough onto two cookie sheets. He searched his pantry. “I think we’re gonna have to do tomato sauce on our pizza today,” Seokjin said just as Jimin and Taehyung rolled through the kitchen.
They were both on Fisher-Price riding toys, although Jimin was a little too big for his. Taehyung still fit well (he had trouble eating with most of the medicines they had tried, and it was affecting his growth). Neither of them let their respective sizes slow them down, however, and they circled around Seokjin’s feet.
“Trapped you!” Jimin exclaimed.
“Oh no, I’m caught!” Seokjin said. He dramatically laid one hand over his heart and another on his forehead.
Taehyung smiled, for once seeming energetic. “Got you!” he said, happily.
“No, I got you,” Seokjin corrected before picking Taehyung up and planting a million kisses to his tummy. Jimin stood up quick, whining. He pulled on Seokjin’s pant leg. Seokjin put Taehyung down once he had him giggling and picked up Jimin instead. “Got you, too!” he exclaimed, slinging Jimin over his shoulder and bouncing him a few times. Jimin squealed laughing.
Seokjin put Jimin down when he asked, and went back to searching the pantry as soon as he and Taehyung raced away. He returned to his workspace with a jar of tomato sauce, mozzarella, and leftover roasted chicken from the night before. There was frozen spinach draining in the sink.
Jeongguk reached for the cheese.
“Hold out your hand,” Seokjin instructed, sprinkling some cheese into Jeongguk’s hand. Jeongguk ate it with a smile as Seokjin spooned tomato sauce across his pizzas. Hoseok and Yoongi seemed to be getting along well in the living room still.
(“Yoongi, what are you drawing?”
“A dragon. What are you drawing?”
“See, it’s you playing baseball.”
“I haven’t played baseball.”
“But I think you could.”
“Oh. ...You’re a good drawer, Hobi.”)
Seokjin smiled as he finished sprinkling toppings all over the crust. The timer went off, and Seokjin watched for any wandering kids before opening up the oven and taking out the zucchini bread. “Can we eat it?” Jeongguk asked. He sounded a little stuffy, and Seokjin grabbed a tissue.
“Not yet. Tomorrow for breakfast,” he answered, holding out the tissue for Jeongguk. “Blow!” Jeongguk blew his nose, his round eyes looking up at Seokjin. He was so unbelievably cute. “Kid, you’re killing me,” Seokjin cooed. “Let’s wash our hands and get cleaned up, okay?”
“Okay,” Jeongguk answered. As the youngest of five, he was usually pretty agreeable. Seokjin pinched his cheek. He was so lucky to have such great kids, and Jeongguk was one of them.
Seokjin squeezed Namjoon’s hand. “Okay, are you nervous? I’m nervous,” Seokjin said, wringing his hands together.
He’d been excited all week for Yoongi’s adoption hearing. Seokjin had been almost frantic, cleaning and baking and being productive. He had been in such a great mood; he’d turned the house over, looking for things to clean and laundry to wash. Every time he thought about finally having custody over Yoongi, he was filled with energy.
But now that he was here, he was so worried about something going wrong. What if he said the wrong thing? Or what if Yoongi changed his mind and said he didn’t want to live with them? What if they weren’t fit parents?
“Why are you nervous?” Yoongi asked.
Seokjin looked down at him. Yoongi was dressed up in his new suit, about to see a courtroom for the first time. Not for the first time, Seokjin was struck with how much he had grown in their short time together. Seokjin bit his lip. “I’m... Well...” he trailed off, unsure of what to say. He didn’t want Yoongi to be worried, but he also didn’t want to lie to him. “I’m just scared I won’t be able to explain how much I love you when the judge asks.”
“Yeah, we love you more than words can say, Sugar,” Namjoon promised, and Seokjin elbowed him in the side for being corny.
“But you think it’ll be okay, right?” Yoongi asked. “You think it’ll be okay?”
“Of course. We’ve made a good home for you, Yoongi. They’ll see that,” Namjoon promised.
“They’ll see that,” Seokjin echoed, trying to convince himself. He knelt down and fussed with Yoongi’s hair, trying to make it lie perfectly against his head. “And you’re sure you want to live with us, right? You’re positive?”
Yoongi nodded frantically. “Yes. Forever,” Yoongi said. He squirmed. His little suit looked stiff on his body. “And you think it’ll be okay? This is gonna be okay?”
Namjoon snorted and ruffled the hair Seokjin had just spent so long fixing. “Listen to both of you guys, double-checking over and over. Everything is going to be okay, I promise. We all want to be a family, and as long as we say that, it’ll be okay. I promise you,” he said.
Yoongi took a deep breath, seeming assured. Meanwhile, Seokjin couldn’t help but notice the tension in Namjoon’s shoulders.
“But you think it’ll be okay?” Yoongi asked, compulsively asking again.
Seokjin managed to pull himself together. “Yes, Yoongi, it’ll be okay.”
Yoongi grabbed his shirtsleeve. “I don’t want to get moved.”
“I know, Yoongi, it’ll be okay,” Seokjin promised.
They waited in the hallway for a while before they were called into the courtroom. Yoongi kept asking over and over if everything was going to be all right, and Seokjin felt terrible for mentioning he was nervous. Yoongi had already been worried, and Seokjin had known that before he spoke up, and now Yoongi was twice as scared.
Fortunately, the first half of the trial went smoothly. The judge reviewed their paperwork one last time and made sure that everything was in order. Yoongi was –in fact- up for adoption, and his caseworker had confirmed that Seokjin and Namjoon had a suitable house for Yoongi to stay in.
Seokjin had been relieved that everything had been filed correctly, but he hadn’t been worried about whether or not the judge would verify their petition.
He had been worried about the short answer portion of the process.
“Now why is this adoption in the child’s best interest?” Judge Baker questioned.
Namjoon fielded the question easily. “Yoongi has lived in five homes before coming to ours, three of which were state-assigned housing that were unsuitable. My husband and I agree with Yoongi’s caseworker that it would be helpful for him to have a stable home.”
“And what about his parents?” Judge Baker asked.
Seokjin cleared his throat. “Dead, your Honor. He lived with his grandparents for a while, who have now died as well.” Yoongi gripped at the table next to him, his eyes wider than Seokjin was used to seeing. He rubbed his back to help him relax.
The judge nodded, confirming with her notes. “And from whom were you awarded custody?”
“The state,” Seokjin answered.
Namjoon nodded. “Yoongi has been living with us for three years now.”
The judge grunted and leaned over her desk. She looked at Yoongi, her face open and friendly now that she was talking to a kid instead of adults. “And have you liked living with your foster parents, Yoongi?”
Yoongi nodded and clutched at Seokjin’s arm. He seemed pale. “Yes,” he squeaked nervously. Seokjin patted his head with his free hand, hating how pale Yoongi looked.
The judge smiled at Yoongi’s answer. “Okay, that’s good. You should like living with the people who want to adopt you,” she said. Her gaze lifted to Namjoon and Seokjin. “And why would you as parents like to adopt?”
Seokjin and Namjoon looked at each other, both ready to answer. Namjoon nodded at Seokjin, and Seokjin floundered for a second before speaking. “Ah, well, honestly, your Honor, we’ve both fallen in love with Yoongi during the course of his stay. He had a hard time of things before coming to our house, and I hate the idea of him going to another house that is unable to care for him properly. I think we know what Yoongi needs, and we want to be able to give that to him.”
“Plus,” Namjoon said, straightening his tie. “Growing up, I had a similar experience in foster care as Yoongi. So personally, I can relate to what he’s been through, and... and so I think I can be helpful to him, especially considering how much I care about him.”
“But you have four other foster children,” Judge Baker mused, flicking through their paperwork.
“Right,” Namjoon said.
“But it wouldn’t impede on our ability to take care of Yoongi,” Seokjin promised. “We’re very purposeful about spending individual time with all of our boys.”
Namjoon put a hand on Seokjin’s elbow. “And Seokjin has done a great job of setting up a very structured household. The boys all have set responsibilities and schedules, so it’s very organized how we, like..., care for all of our kids, including Yoongi,” he assured.
The judge hummed. “Okay. Well, it seems as though everything is in order. Your caseworker has written you a glowing review, so as long as Yoongi is happy with the decision-“
“I am!” Yoongi helped, interrupting.
The judge looked at him. “Are you sure?” she asked. “You want Namjoon and Seokjin to be your parents?”
Yoongi nodded confidently. “Yes, I’m sure,” he promised.
The judge nodded. “Then it’s decided,” she said, taking out a pen and the proper form. Yoongi was still clinging to Seokjin, and Seokjin wrapped and arm around him in an awkward hug. “Congratulations Seokjin and Namjoon Kim. You’re parents.”
“I feel like we should be drinking champagne, not milkshakes,” Namjoon mused, stirring his strawberry shake with his straw.
“It’s what Yoongi wanted,” Seokjin said. “We can do champagne and sparkling cider later. Maybe we can throw a party with my parents, and my sister, and her husband and kids.”
Namjoon smiled. “Her kids... Yoongi’s new cousins.”
“New cousins,” Seokjin repeated, smiling around his milkshake straw. He had gotten chocolate covered-banana.
Yoongi had asked to go to Sonic for milkshakes and mozzarella sticks to celebrate his adoption. They had picked up all the other boys –who had been home with a babysitter- and took them to the park before giving them their snacks. (Seokjin would not have spilled milkshake all over his car.)
Currently, Yoongi was standing at the top of the playground, peanut butter milkshake in hand as he waited to go down the slide. Taehyung was taking up the bottom of the slide, sprawled out and giggling as Jimin tickled him. Hoseok was trying to climb the little rock wall on the play set, and Jeongguk was at Seokjin’s feet, pulling grass out and piling it up on the toe of Namjoon’s sneaker.
Hoseok jumped off the wall and ran over to take a big sip from his milkshake. His cheeks were already flushed.
“What’s it taste like, Hobi?” Seokjin asked, smirking as Hoseok chugged it down eagerly.
“Strawberries! And... and... And bananas!” he said. His hands barely fit around the mini-sized cup.
“That’s good. It is a strawberry banana milkshake after all. It should taste like strawberries and bananas,” Namjoon said, bending over to share some of his milkshake with Jeongguk. They had been taking turns. For every sip Namjoon had, Jeongguk had one too.
Jeongguk’s eyes crinkled up happily at the taste.
Hoseok took a big breath before going in for another long sip. Meanwhile, Yoongi made an upset noise and Seokjin looked up. Taehyung was still lying at the bottom of the slide.
“Hey, Taehyungie, come have some milkshake,” Seokjin called from his spot on one of the park benches. Taehyung looked confused, but as soon as Seokjin held up his drink, he ran over. Yoongi slid down the slide and followed after Taehyung, Jimin hot on his heels. “Here you go, TaeTae,” Seokjin said, holding the drink out to Taehyung.
“Where’s mine?” Jimin asked.
“Right here,” Namjoon answered, holding up Jimin’s drink before he could get upset. Jimin had gotten chocolate peanut butter, and he had been very excited about it. He had almost crushed the paper cup in his hands when Seokjin had passed it to him.
Seokjin smiled at his boys. “All right, this is exciting, huh? What a big day!”
“The biggest!” Yoongi exclaimed.
“Yoongi is adopted,” Jimin double-checked, looking to Namjoon for confirmation.
“Yep. And you’re next kid,” Namjoon answered, reaching out to tickle Jimin’s tummy. Meanwhile, Yoongi climbed up into Seokjin’s lap. “Where are we going to have to take you to celebrate, Jimin? Yoongi wanted milkshakes.”
Jimin tapped his chocolate-covered chin. “Um... Target.”
Seokjin snorted, his arms looping around Yoongi. “That’s so silly. Jimminie, you love Target, huh?” he asked.
Jimin tried to answer, but Taehyung talked over him. “Can we go to the library when it’s my turn?” Taehyung asked, stumbling over the word ‘library.’ “I like books.”
Seokjin nodded. “I’ll do you one better, kid. I’ll take you to the bookstore, and then you can keep your picture books instead of giving them back after you read them.”
Taehyung gasped, eyes disproportionately wide. “Wow,” he said seriously, before stretching his mouth open to try to find his milkshake straw without looking. Seokjin laughed into Yoongi’s shoulder.
“And I get to have a party, too? I’m gonna have a turn, too?” Hoseok asked over the sound of Jimin giggling. Namjoon was still tickling his tummy.
Seokjin looked at Hoseok, smiling when he realized how at home he looked standing in the center of all his other boys. Hoseok simply fit. And even if Seokjin knew the paperwork would be tough, he also knew how much work he was going to put into adopting Hoseok. “Definitely, Hoseok,” Seokjin promised. “Definitely.”
Because even if Hoseok came last, even if his mother hadn’t wanted him-
Even if Hoseok had been abandoned, and even if Yoongi’s parents were deceased. Even if Jimin had been abused, and Taehyung had been neglected, and Jeongguk had been addicted to drugs when he was born. Even if Namjoon had been bounced around and hadn’t known what family felt like before making his own-
In spite of all of it, no matter what, they were one big, happy family.
If you want to hear a reading of "A Bad Case of Stripes," click here.
Also, while this story is over, the series is not, and fortunately for you all, I have already started the next work. It's called "Big Kids, Young Adults" and it's about the boys as teens, so you can see how they all grew up!
I also think I may end up writing stories for all the kids in this fic, so stick around because I'm not done with preschool Bangtan, even if this particular story is finished. THIS AU WILL LIVE ON, HONEST!
Here is a link to "Big Kids, Young Adults"