Seokjin stood at the bottom of the stairs, trying to listen for any sounds of life. It was hard to tell if anyone was awake with Taehyung and Hoseok arguing over Cocoa Pebbles versus Cocoa Krispies in the kitchen; they were both so loud. Seokjin gave up on listening in.
“Cookie! If you’re not dressed and downstairs in ten minutes, you’re going to miss your bus!” he shouted up the steps.
Jungkook didn’t respond.
Seokjin huffed out a sigh. Sometimes he couldn’t tell if Jungkook was asleep or if he was ignoring him in the morning. Regardless, Seokjin had four other kids to see off to school, and checking up on Jungkook any further would only result in a screaming match that Seokjin didn’t have time for.
Instead, he headed back to his kitchen. He stole the box of Cocoa Krispies out of Hoseok’s hands as he walked by. “It’s a school day, you need proper nutrition,” Seokjin said when Hoseok whined, shoving a box of Cheerios into his hands.
Before Hoseok could complain, Jimin piped up. “Jin? Can you pick me up after cheer today?”
“Of course!” Seokjin answered easily.
“Can you also drive Tzuyu home?”
Seokjin thought back to the rest of the cheer squad, managing to remember Tzuyu’s face and house amongst all the other girls. “Sure. She lives right by the school, right?”
Jimin nodded. “Uh-huh.” His cheeks bulged out as he crammed seven Mini Wheats into his mouth at once. Milk dribbled down his chin. Yoongi grimaced across the table and passed him a napkin. “Also, Chaeyoung needs a ride,' Jimin said as he wiped himself off.
Seokjin ran a hand through his hair: still fully black after all these years. “Geez, does the whole team need a ride home?”
“No, just me, Tzuyu, and Chaeyoung,” Jimin amended quickly before slumping in his seat sheepishly. “And also Sana...”
Seokjin huffed out a sigh. He stretched across the table to ruffle Jimin’s hair. “All right, you got it kid. Anything to support the Knights."
Jimin brightened under his touch.“Thanks!” he replied a little too excitedly. He sat up straighter as he spoke, nearly spilling his cereal bowl all over his homework.
“Jimin!” Yoongi cried, hand thrusting out to catch his bowl before he could make a mess. “Watch what you’re doing!”
But Jimin was already distracted. “Mmm,” Jimin hummed. He was too busy refocusing on his homework to reply.
Seokjin frowned. This year, it seemed like Jimin was always rushing to finish the last of his homework in the morning. He needed to find time to talk to him about it: maybe in the car on the way home from cheerleading, once all the other girls had been dropped off. And speaking of driving...
“Does anyone else need a ride home from school today?” he asked, knowing that Hoseok usually stayed late.
“Yep, yep, yep. I have programming and then dance,” Hoseok answered.
“So, you’ll be late tonight, huh?” Seokjin asked, already getting up from the table to pack Hoseok with some extra snacks. His lunch block was at 11; he would need an extra pick-me-up to get through computer programming club and a dance practice.
“Yeah, we have rehearsal for the homecoming parade, so it’ll be like... seven. I’m sorry, I know I should have told you earlier. I’m not gonna mess up dinner, am I?” he asked.
Seokjin waved him off. “No worries. I’ll just have Joonie pick you up.”
“What am I doing?” Namjoon asked behind a yawn as he trudged down the stairs. He looked like he had crawled into his suit; he was so rumpled. He had recently dyed his hair a silvery grey, and while the color looked great, it was piled up into a rat’s nest on top of his head. Seokjin grinned at him affectionately.
“You’re picking up Hoseok on your way home,” he said. He finger combed Namjoon’s hair into something more presentable. He was wearing it longer than usual on top, and Seokjin couldn’t stop running his hands through it.
“M’kay.” Namjoon collapsed onto Seokjin’s shoulder. “Mornings are so hard,” he whined.
Seokjin rolled his eyes. “There, there,” he said, not a trace of sympathy in his voice. He did pat Namjoon’s back a few times, however, and slipped him a travel mug of his favorite coffee. He glanced at the clock.
“Okay, kids, the bus comes in five minutes. Can one of you go yell for Jungkook again? Jimin, hurry up with that homework. Hoseok, don’t forget to rinse out your bowl, and Taehyung, how are you feeling? Are you up for school today?”
Jin sighed. “Good enough. You can always call me if you start feeling dizzy or disoriented. I’ll come get you if you need me,” he promised. Taehyung didn’t say anything, just pushed his cereal around his bowl.
Jin pressed his lips together. Taehyung had always felt nervous about going to school. He hadn’t grown out of his seizures like they had hoped he might, and Jin knew it was embarrassing for him. But while he had never liked going to school, he hadn’t always gotten quiet like this before the bus came. Seokjin didn’t like seeing him so scared.
Fortunately, Jimin was there to help cheer him up. “And I’m at school, TaeTae! No worries,” he said, bumping Taehyung with his shoulder.
Taehyung snorted and shoved Jimin back. “Yeah, but you’re annoying,” he complained.
Jimin gasped. “How dare you. I am a treasure. Tell him, Jinnie.”
“Taehyung, your brother is a treasure,” Seokjin agreed with a smirk. He turned to Namjoon -who was still slumped against his side- and forced him to straighten up. “Okay, you have your coffee. You need to get going. No more leaning on me,” he said.
Namjoon muttered but started off to get his shoes.
“Wait, um, Joonie?” Yoongi piped up. He stood up awkwardly from the breakfast table.
Namjoon hummed. “Hold on, Sugar,” he said, going to the laundry room to grab his shoes. He came back out a moment later and sat at one of the kitchen chairs to pull on his loafers. “Okay, shoot.”
Yoongi squirmed by his chair. The way he was kicking the floor made him look more like a toddler than a high school senior. “So, um... I have a paper due tomorrow, but I finished it yesterday, and it’s edited and everything, so I was just wondering if, well, I mean...” he trailed off.
“If what?” Namjoon asked, sharing a knowing smirk with Seokjin across the kitchen.
“If, well... The chorus teacher at school asked if I could help with some arrangements for one of the a cappella groups, but I don’t really know what I’m doing, so I was wondering if I could come to your office today and maybe... maybe we could try some things out,” he said, wringing his hands. “I mean, if you’re not busy, that is. Like if it’s okay. Because I finished all my other homework, so I have time, and just... yeah,” he finished lamely.
Namjoon’s eyes left Seokjin’s, and he smiled up at Yoongi. “Sure thing. Why don’t you come over right after school? You can come on my show.”
“Your radio show?” Yoongi asked, standing up straight.
“Yeah, kid,” Namjoon replied, obviously trying not to laugh. Seokjin was just as amused. Yoongi was always wheedling to go visit Namjoon at work. He loved music, and it was no secret that Yoongi looked up to Namjoon a little more than he looked up to Seokjin. Namjoon was his role model –that much was obvious- but Seokjin couldn’t figure out why Yoongi kept trying to make excuses about going to Namjoon’s office.
All he had to do was ask.
“Hey, the bus is here!” Hoseok shouted from the front of the house.
“Shit,” Yoongi swore, grabbing his book bag and making a mad dash for it. Seokjin frowned when he only counted four kids rushing towards the bus.
He ran to the bottom of the stairs. “Jungkook? Jungkook, are you coming?” he called. There was no answer from upstairs. Seokjin groaned.
“He didn’t even wake up, did he?” Namjoon asked with a knowing smirk. He was much more awake now that he had his coffee. Seokjin fussed with his hair again.
“I doubt it,” he answered. Now he was going to have to drive Jungkook to school again.
“We need Yoongi to get his license so that you don’t have to drive everywhere,” Namjoon mused, closing his eyes as he took a good long sip of his coffee. “Also, this is so good, Jin. You’ve outdone yourself. It’s so good.”
Seokjin snorted. “Joon, it’s coffee. Every cup I’ve ever made you for years has been nearly identical.”
“Yeah, but it’s so good today, Jinnie. It’s great,” he promised. He looked like he was two seconds from diving into his cup and drowning in it.
“Okay, sure,” he said dismissively. He was too focused on righting Namjoon’s collar to properly respond. “But you should probably get going, if you’re going to catch your train.”
Namjoon looked at his watch and groaned. “Ugh, okay, okay,” he said, kissing Seokjin’s cheek. “I’m off. I’ll see you at dinner?”
“Don’t forget to pick up Hoseok,” he replied. “Also, wait, wait, wait.” Seokjin grabbed Namjoon’s sleeve and pulled him back before he could walk away. He pressed a proper kiss to his lips. When he pulled away, he was smiling. “I love you. Have a good day at work.”
“I love you, too,” Namjoon said dopily. He pressed one more kiss to Seokjin’s nose for good measure. “To the moon and back. You’re the light of my life. Good luck with, Cookie.”
“I certainly need it,” Seokjin muttered as Namjoon left the house. He didn’t have the energy to chastise Namjoon for being so cheesy.
Jungkook was a terror in the morning.
Seokjin loved him. He had raised him from a tiny baby with curled fingers and tiny toes. He had changed all of his diapers; he had held him when he cried. He’d given him piggyback rides, and helped him with his homework, and played street hockey with him in the summer, and gone to all of his lacrosse games. He had loved him through every single minute of it, and he still loved him when he was dragging him out of bed by the ankles.
But that didn’t change the fact that Jungkook was a terror in the morning.
“Okay, Cook, it’s time to get up,” Seokjin said, entering his room without knocking. Jungkook was lying face down on his mattress. One leg stuck out from under the sheets. Seokjin opened his curtains, and even though Jungkook’s head was buried under his pillow, he still groaned when light filled his bedroom. “You missed the bus again.”
“Who cares?” Jungkook moaned.
“I do,” Seokjin replied. “I’m not a taxi service. I need you to catch the bus in the mornings so I don't have to spend my whole day driving.”
“You don’t have to drive me to school,” Jungkook muttered bitterly. “You could just let me sleep.”
Seokjin sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Jungkook, we’ve talked about this. I don’t care how mad you are at me and Joon; your education is extremely important. I know eighth grade doesn’t seem like it matters now, but when you’re older, you’ll be really upset with yourself if you don’t take it seriously. Don’t blow it off just to get back at your parents.”
Jungkook sat straight up at that, glaring. “You guys aren’t my parents,” he said, eyes narrowed into slits.
Seokjin pressed his lips together, the words ripping through him like a jigsaw. It wasn’t the first time Jungkook had said something similar, but that didn’t make it any easier. If anything, how often Jungkook said it made it that much harder.
“Okay. Okay, fine,” Seokjin said, his voice clipped. “But as your legal guardian, I am telling you that you need to get dressed and you need to go to school. Not optional.” He threw Jungkook some fresh underwear and socks. “Be downstairs in ten minutes, or I’m taking away your headphones.”
“Ten minutes,” Seokjin repeated, closing the door behind him. He rested up against it for a moment, staring at the ceiling. Why?
As soon as he was sure he heard Jungkook moving around and getting changed, he left the upstairs hallway for the kitchen. If he was going to make it through the rest of the day, he was going to need caffeine and a lot of it. He put on a kettle to boil as he waited for Jungkook, his eye on the clock.
The kitchen was a disaster. Somehow, feeding five teenagers was messier than feeding five preschoolers. It was funny that while most things were easier with older kids, some things had become increasingly difficult.
When Jin’s tea finished steeping, he called up to Jungkook. “I’ll be waiting in the car! You have two minutes!”
“Okay!” Jungkook shouted back.
“Grab a granola bar on your way out the door!” he tagged on. He waited to make sure Jungkook had heard him.
“Okay!” Jungkook replied, sounding as if Seokjin had asked him to clean his room instead of just eat breakfast. He sighed and tried to remember what his yoga instructor had taught him: breathe in peace, out happiness.
Seokjin repeated the mantra in his head as he sipped his tea. He waited in the car for Jungkook to join him. When he finally did, he was still in a bad mood.
“This van is so embarrassing,” he complained under his breath, throwing his backpack onto the floor with a little more force than necessary.
Seokjin turned the key in the ignition. “If you had ridden the bus this morning, you wouldn’t have to be seen in it,” he said gently; although, he somewhat agreed with Jungkook. If it weren’t an absolute necessity for their family, there was no way Jin would be driving a massive, 9-seater mini bus to and from the grocery store. It was too ugly and hard to park.
Jungkook didn’t say anything. Instead, he threw on his over the ear headphones and glared at his cellphone. He had been doing that a lot lately: tuning everyone out. It was frustrating, but more than that, Seokjin was worried.
He knew the adoption process had scared Jungkook. It wasn’t until he was thirteen that he had finally been able to be adopted. Thirteen years of waiting, and hoping, and praying, and Jungkook had finally been theirs, but at a heavy price.
Jungkook’s mother had held on to custody until the very end. She had been asking for visitation since Jungkook was two, begging to see him despite never going to rehabilitation to get her drug use under control.
Namjoon and Seokjin had only been allowed to adopt Jungkook when she died of an overdose.
It had shaken Jungkook, understandably. Even if he had never met his mother (aside from the day she gave birth to him), it had still been jarring. Seokjin wasn’t sure if Jungkook had ever wanted to live with his mom again –he had seemed happy living with them before his adoption papers went through- or if it was just scary to think about getting taken away from Namjoon and Seokjin before they gained custody, but regardless, it was affecting Jungkook’s behavior.
Jungkook had been so sweet growing up. He had the cutest little bunny smile, and he used to like snuggling something as he walked around, like his Elmo plushie or his teddy bear. He had been so cute.
And now he was so grumpy.
While Seokjin couldn’t blame him for feeling conflicted and angry, he was just about done with Jungkook’s attitude. He had raised four fourteen-year-olds. It wasn’t in their nature to be this angry all of the time. He needed to get Jungkook feeling better as soon as possible.
As he pulled the car up to a red light, Seokjin turned to look at Jungkook. He was wearing a tank top that showed off his scrawny arms. Seokjin smiled. He was sure Jungkook was beyond proud of the little muscle he had been able to build through lacrosse and hockey, but he was still growing. He was still lanky and goofy. Jungkook had always been all elbows and knees, and Seokjin couldn’t help but reach out to ruffle Jungkook’s gelled hair.
“Hey! You’re messing it up!” Jungkook yelled, quick looking in the flip down mirror to fix his hair. His headphones fell off.
Seokjin laughed. “Sorry, sorry,” he promised. He helped to smooth down Jungkook’s hair. “But hey, now that you can hear me... Jungkook, I know that me and Joon aren’t your biological parents-“
“Oh, God, spare me,” Jungkook interrupted, his face paling.
Seokjin ignored him. “But we love you. You know that, right? We love you so much, Cookie. No matter where you go or what you do, Namjoon and I are going to love you, and take care of you, and be there for you, okay?”
Jungkook crinkled his nose and was quiet for a minute. His silence proved that Seokjin had gotten through to him at least a little bit. “...Whatever,” he muttered after a moment.
Seokjin snorted. “Whatever,” he agreed, leaning over to ruffle Jungkook’s hair again. Jungkook squawked, his hands flying up to fix it. Seokjin pulled up to the middle school and unlocked the car doors. “All right, kid. Have a good day at school.”
Jungkook didn’t reply, only slammed the door behind him as he got out of the car. Seokjin smiled sardonically to himself. He loved Jungkook, but he certainly did know how to wear him out.
Jimin squinted at his homework. His homeroom teacher never remembered to turn on the announcements, and Jimin had started using the extra free time to finish up some last minute assignments.
Actually, all of Jimin’s free time had been going to homework, lately. High school wasn’t easy. His teachers had high expectations, and there was a lot more reading to do for his classes, and all the other kids were so big, and he was so small.
“Hey, Chim Chim, whatchya workin’ on?” Taehyung asked, sticking his chin on his shoulder. Jimin snorted and shrugged him off.
“Homework,” he answered, spinning around in his seat. “You wanna help me?”
Taehyung nodded and took Jimin’s worksheet out of his hands. The freshman homerooms were organized by last name, so Jimin and Taehyung got to share a class. Jimin sat in front, and Taehyung sat right behind him whenever he felt well enough to go to school. Jimin liked the days when Taehyung was with him much more than the days he came to school alone. He had a lot of friends in his class, but Taehyung was his brother. He could help him with his homework, and reading the white board, and copying down notes.
Jimin didn’t have to hide his difficulty reading when he was with Taehyung.
“Okay, this question wants to know what ‘AMU’ stands for,” Taehyung said, pulling out a pencil from behind his ear.
“Atomic mass unit,” Jimin answered.
Taehyung nodded. “Yep.” He flashed Jimin a big, boxy smile. “My Chim Chim’s a genius.”
“Shut up,” Jimin said, flushing. He definitely wasn’t a genius. He wasn’t even smart.
His hands gripped the back of his chair. Taehyung tapped his knuckles with the eraser end of his pencil. “Nah. You know the answers, you just have trouble understanding the questions,” he said, as if reading Jimin’s mind. “I think you could still be a genius if you wanted to be.”
“Just read the next question,” Jimin whined.
“How many shells does an atom with 13 electrons have?”
“Three,” Jimin answered.
Taehyung shot him another grin. “See? Genius,” he said, writing in Jimin’s answers for him. Taehyung wrote everything in complete sentences, even when he was filling out Jimin’s homework for him.
“I said shut up,” Jimin yelped. He had trouble believing Taehyung, but he was mostly complaining for the sake of complaining at this point. He was always yelling at Taehyung to stop complimenting him (even if it was one of the few things getting him through his day).
Taehyung shifted gears. “Hey, you know what?” he asked.
Jimin blinked. “What?”
“Your hair isn’t long enough to wear a cheer bow, is it?”
Jimin frowned. “Um... No? Why?” All of the girls on the cheerleading team were required to wear their team t-shirts and cheer bows on game days, but that wasn’t until Friday. Jimin didn’t know why Taehyung was thinking of it now, so suddenly.
“Because we should get you a cheer bowtie for the homecoming game,” Taehyung said, and promptly moved on. “What happens to the pressure in a sealed tube if you increase the temperature?”
“It’ll increase, but wait,” Jimin said before Taehyung could scribble down his answer. “A cheer bowtie?”
It was Taehyung’s turn to blink. “Yeah, like... a glittery one. Purple and gold. Go Knights!”
Jimin groaned. “Taehyung, that’s terrible.”
“I’ll convince you otherwise,” Taehyung replied, and Jimin couldn’t tell if it was a promise or a threat. “But we can’t keep talking about bowties all day, Jiminnie, we have to focus. You have homework,” he chastised. Jimin sputtered. Taehyung had been the one to bring up cheer bows in the first place! However, Taehyung pressed on before he could complain. “What does NaCl stand for?”
“Sodium Chloride,” Jimin answered, watching as Taehyung scribbled down his answer. For as weird as Taehyung could be, he certainly made up for it by helping him with his homework.
Yoongi was out of his seat and off the train the second it pulled into the station.
He hated train rides. He didn’t like sitting on the stained seats or cramming in next to strangers. He didn’t like having to touch the conductor’s hand when he exchanged his money for his ticket.
However, he loved visiting his dad at work. No matter how much he hated trains, it was worth the ride to go to his dad’s studio. Namjoon was always working on something cool, and getting invited to come on his radio show was an added bonus. As much as Yoongi loved making music, listening to it was even better.
(Especially if he got to listen to it with Namjoon, but he would never admit that out loud.)
Yoongi practically ran to Namjoon’s building. His dad’s show started at 3:00, and it was already 3:06. He rushed into the front lobby, his cheeks flushed and hair flying.
Fortunately, the security guard at the front desk recognized him right away. “Hey, Yoongi! You’re dad’s waiting for you. Go ahead up,” he said, waving Yoongi through towards the elevators. Yoongi nodded, ducking his head awkwardly. He wasn’t very good at talking to people, even the nice employees at Namjoon’s office.
He kept his head low as he rode the elevator to Namjoon’s floor. The “On Air” sign was dark when he reached Namjoon’s studio, so Yoongi let himself in.
Namjoon looked up when the door opened. “You made it!” he said, smiling.
Yoongi flushed and squirmed. “Um... yeah,” he said. “Sorry. I know you’re busy...”
“I’m never too busy for you, buddy,” Namjoon promised. “Why don’t you take a seat? You can help me chatter away the rest of this hour, and then we’ll take a look at your project.”
Yoongi stood up a little straighter, unable to hide his excitement. He quick grabbed a set of headphones and found a seat at the desk and a microphone. “I’m on two,” he said, reading the microphone’s number.
“Cool, cool,” Namjoon said, turning up the audio levels for his mike.
Yoongi shifted in his seat, pulling at his sleeves. His dad was just... so cool.
Most radio shows were automated or recorded in advance, but Namjoon was adamant that his production company needed to have a live show. He wanted their station to have hand-selected music –not just the typical computer-generated songs other stations played- and for DJs with great taste and real stories take over the prime time spots.
Because Namjoon had fought so hard for the station, he had a show at 2 o’clock every weekday, and Yoongi loved being part of it. Talking on air, choosing music, telling stories... It was the one time Yoongi felt confident in his voice. He could only hope that one day, he would have a radio show like his dad’s.
“All right. We’re going live in sixty seconds,” Namjoon said, flipping through the binder of advertisements he had to live read during his hour. “Anything you wanna talk about?”
“Ah, I dunno...” Yoongi said.
Namjoon looked up at him. “Maybe you can tell everyone why you’re here today. You can tell them about your chorus teacher and the arrangements you’re doing... That would be interesting.” When Yoongi blinked wide-eyed at Namjoon, his dad shifted gears. “Or we could talk about dinner last night. Taehyung was being a goofball.”
Yoongi nodded tersely. “That would be easy.”
Namjoon nodded. “Cool. Mikes going live in 3... 2...” Yoongi stayed quiet, waiting for the song to end. As Namjoon unmuted his microphone, the On Air sign in the studio lit up bright red. The song ended in Yoongi’s headphones, and his dad’s voice came through. “Hey, hey, hey, you’re listening to WWMR, 102.5, your station for vibing and riding. You’re listening to Rap Monster, and I’m playing all hip-hop and R&B until the end of the hour. I’ve got my son in the studio today. Sugar, why don’t you introduce yourself?” he said.
Yoongi took a sharp breath. “Hey, it’s me.”
Namjoon laughed, his DJ persona breaking as he looked at Yoongi. “Perfect. Great introduction,” he said flatly. Yoongi flushed. Meanwhile, his dad turned back to his microphone. “Hopefully you guys all know my son by now. He’s either got everything to say, or nothing at all.”
“Hey, I have plenty to say,” Yoongi interrupted, making sure to talk into the mike rather than at his dad.
“That’s true. You had a lot to say at dinner last night, especially,” Namjoon said, segueing smoothly. Yoongi followed his lead.
“Dinner last night was crazy.”
“It was crazy,” Namjoon agreed. “Why don’t you tell our listeners what your brother was doing.”
Yoongi groaned. “It was awful. Taehyung was using his spoon to freaking catapult huge globs of mashed potatoes at me whenever our parents turned around.”
Namjoon laughed. “Yeah, it was hilarious.”
“It was gross,” Yoongi corrected. “One second he was eating off his spoon, and the next he was flicking spitty potatoes at me.”
“That’s fair, that’s fair,” Namjoon promised. He ran his hand through his hair. “I’ll try to catch him next time he’s bothering you.”
“You’d better,” Yoongi muttered into the mike. Namjoon laughed again, and Yoongi sat up a little straighter. He was always proud of himself when he managed to make his dad laugh. It felt like such a big accomplishment, even when Namjoon was probably only doing it for the sake of their listeners.
“I’ll do my best,” he said. “But okay, I think we should get back to some more music. I’m gonna come at you guys with some new Kanye and one of my favorites: ‘Sober’ by Childish Gambino, but I’m gonna let Sugar pick the last song. What do you think we should listen to, kid?” he asked, looking at Yoongi.
Yoongi scrambled to think of a song. “Um... Um...” he stammered, but tried to talk through it. He knew people wouldn’t be able to see him thinking. “I don’t know what would fit well with that... Um... Um...” he puffed out a breath of air. “Can we listen to ‘The Fix?’”
“Oh, by Nelly?” Namjoon asked. He looked excited, and relief washed over Yoongi. “Sure, I love that song. That’s a great one to look forward to,” he promised before directing his voice towards the microphone again. “All right, stay tuned for ‘The Fix,’ but up first, here’s ‘Jesus Walks.’”
Namjoon threw on the song and muted their microphones. Yoongi wrung his hands together, waiting for his dad to say something.
It took Namjoon a second to look at him. He had to queue up Yoongi’s song selection into the playlist and set up their next break. However, once he was done, he had nothing but praise for Yoongi. “All right, nice work. Perfect song choice, too.”
“Ah, okay,” Yoongi said, feeling relieved.
“Yeah, it’s cool you came in. I like getting your input on this kind of thing,” he said. “Plus, this show is way more fun with someone to talk to.”
“Really?” Yoongi asked. He knew he crashed his dad’s show a lot. He was always worried he was annoying him by constantly hanging around, but he learned more about music at his dad’s studio than he did in any of his classes at school.
“Really,” Namjoon promised. He reached out to pinch Yoongi’s cheek. “And there’s nothing I love more than talking to my precious Yoongi,” he said in a goofy voice.
Yoongi grunted and pushed his chair away from Namjoon’s. “Gross.”
Namjoon let Yoongi slip away, but not before patting his back. “You’re a good kid,” he said, ignoring Yoongi’s complaining. “But okay. I have to practice reading this ad for the next break. Give me one minute,” he said.
Yoongi nodded. Namjoon started practicing his script. Meanwhile, Yoongi looked about the studio. The desk was covered with loose papers and pencils. It made Yoongi’s skin itch just to look at it.
As Namjoon read through the script a couple times, Yoongi occupied himself with straightening the desk. He turned the computer keyboard to line up with its monitor, making sure it was two inches from the bottom of the screen. He stacked up the papers properly. He stuck the pencils and pens in their cup. The papers went two inches from the bottom of the desk. The pencils went two inches from the top of the papers.
He was straightening the audio board when Namjoon looked up at him. “Just be careful, Yoongi. That board costs over ten thousand dollars,” he said gently, but didn’t otherwise comment on Yoongi’s straightening.
Yoongi nodded and let the board be as soon as it was straight. Namjoon reached out to ruffle his hair.
Yoongi squirmed a little in his seat. He didn’t like when things were messy, but it didn’t feel as stressful when he was in a place he was familiar with, like his house or Namjoon’s office.
“Yeah, I’m okay,” he promised, picking at his fingers compulsively. Sure, he was nervous, but when he was with his dad, it was usually okay to feel a little anxious. Namjoon made everything a lot easier.
Hoseok was sweaty.
He was sweaty as he ran through the group dance. He was sweaty when his teacher gave them a break. He was sweaty when he sat down for a drink of water, and he was still sweaty as he opened up the single serving bag of cashews his dad had packed him as an extra snack.
Jin was the best with snacks.
Hoseok had swallowed just about half the bag, when Oliver approached him. “Hey, wanna go to the vending machine with me?” he asked, flicking his sweaty bangs out of his face.
Hoseok scrambled to his feet. “Sure!” he answered. It was kind of embarrassing, but Hoseok would jump at any opportunity to hang out with Oliver.
Oliver was a senior, and Hoseok was a sophomore. That meant Oliver was older. The only seniors that hung out with Hoseok were the nerds in the computer science club and Yoongi (and Yoongi definitely didn’t count).
“Cool,” Oliver replied, sauntering away without looking back.
“Cool,” Hoseok squeaked before rushing after him. The vending machines were in the cafeteria, and Hoseok trailed Oliver through the halls. As the dance studio grew further and further behind them, Hoseok realized just how empty the school was. The only people left in the building were on the dance team, and Hoseok and Oliver had ditched them for M&Ms and potato chips.
“Hey, what are you even going to get?” Hoseok asked, trying to fill up the silence.
Abruptly, Oliver grabbed his wrist and pulled him into an alcove. “You,” he answered, leaning forward. Hoseok squeaked when –out of nowhere- Oliver bent down and kissed him. He shoved Oliver away from him.
“What are you doing?!” he yelped, eyes wide.
Oliver frowned. “JB said you were gay,” he said as means of explanation.
Hoseok didn’t even know how to respond to that. His mouth opened and closed like a fish. “I mean... I mean... Well, yeah, I guess. But how did he-“
“And you like me, right?” Oliver asked, cutting him off. Hoseok’s jaw snapped shut and his lips pressed together. His cheeks heated up. When he didn’t answer, Oliver continued. “Come on, Hoseok. I see the way you look at me. You’re always staring at me in the mirrors during dance,” he justified.
Hoseok laced his fingers through his hair. This was so embarrassing.
“So if you like me,” Oliver continued, “then let’s do something about it.”
He leaned down and kissed Hoseok again. Meanwhile, Hoseok’s cheeks were absolutely burning. This wasn’t how he had expected his first kiss to go.
But Oliver was right. He did have a crush on him. It was so easy to watch him in the mirrors during dance practice, to ogle at his strong arms and even stronger legs. Hoseok was just embarrassed to admit it.
However, he had no idea how JB had figured out he was gay. He hadn’t even told his parents yet.
Kissing Oliver felt stressful. Hoseok pulled away. “Hey, you at least have to take me on a date first,” he said, turning his cheek towards Oliver so he couldn’t try to duck in and kiss him again.
Oliver froze. “A date,” he repeated. He sank back, standing away from Hoseok. “Okay, a date. Where do you want to go?”
“The Melting Pot,” Hoseok answered quickly, and then bit his lip. Maybe it would be too expensive and Oliver wouldn’t offer to take him.
“You drive a hard bargain, Hoseok Kim,” Oliver said, winking and wagging a finger at him. “But okay. The Melting Pot. I’ll take you this weekend, and we’ll kiss after-“ he started, “But I a have a condition of my own.”
Hoseok squirmed against the wall. “What?”
“You can’t tell anyone about us,” Oliver said. “Not yet, anyway. And especially not your parents.”
Hoseok frowned. “Oliver, I have two dads. I don’t think they’re going to care if I kissed a boy.”
Oliver rolled his eyes. “Trust me, they won’t get it,” he promised. He stepped forward, closing in Hoseok closer against the wall. He grabbed both of his hands. “And anyways, I just want to keep this between us for a bit. It’s more romantic this way, all right? Take it from someone older.”
Hoseok blinked. “... Okay,” he agreed. “I won’t tell anyone. We’ll go to The Melting Pot, and then if –and only if- I have a good time, we’ll kiss after.”
Oliver grinned. “Don’t worry, Hoseokkie,” he said, “I’ll make sure you have a good time.”
Seokjin fell on his face when a loud clang startled him. Whoever was coming into the house must have thrown open the garage door so hard it hit the laundry machine.
A few seconds later, Hosoek flew through the living room. He took the steps three at a time and disappeared from sight. The door to his bedroom slammed closed.
Seokjin frowned. That was very un-Hoseok-like behavior.
Meanwhile, Namjoon and Yoongi were walking through the door. “What the hell is happening in here?” Namjoon asked.
Next to Seokjin, Taehyung grunted as his arms wobbled, his elbows threatening to give out. “Shut up, I’m a wheelbarrow!” Taehyung squeaked.
Seokjin winced from his spot on the floor. “It’s Yoga Tuesday,” he explained. Usually Taehyung and Seokjin did yoga together right after school before anyone else was home, but Taehyung desperately needed some new clothes to fit his growing arms and broadening shoulders, so they had gone shopping instead. “Is something wrong with Hoseok?”
Namjoon shrugged. “He was quiet when he got in the car, but he wouldn’t talk to me about it.”
Seokjin’s frown only deepened. Make that very, very un-Hoseok-like behavior. Usually when Hoseok was upset about something, he didn’t hesitate to complain about it. Seokjin was used to struggling to understand Hoseok’s words through snot and tears.
Their DVD’s yoga instructor had them switch to an extended side angle pose, and Seokjin decided to join Taehyung. They both groaned as they nearly toppled over.
“You guys aren’t very good at this,” Yoongi said, crinkling his nose as he hung up his coat and put away his shoes.
“It’s hard!” Taehyung replied. “You try it. See for yourself!”
Yoongi’s nose stayed scrunched. “I don’t have a mat.”
“Take mine,” Seokjin offered, standing up. “I have to check on Hoseok anyway.”
“Do you want back up?” Namjoon asked, while Yoongi took Seokjin’s spot. He could barely bend over, he was so inflexible, and Taehyung laughed at him. Seokjin smiled when Yoongi mimed pushing Taehyung over.
“Nah, I think I got it. You make sure these crazy kids don’t kill each other instead, how about?” Seokjin asked.
“Solid,” Namjoon agreed, jumping over the back of the couch to watch Yoongi and Taehyung nearly fall on their faces. They had moved into Eagle, and Yoongi was definitely struggling more than Taehyung was.
Seokjin gave them one last look before following Hoseok up the stairs. It was good to see Yoongi outside of his room. Usually, he locked himself away as soon as he got home from school, and Taehyung had to lie outside his door and whine to get Yoongi to spend time with him. Seokjin was happy to see them hanging out.
Or he would be, if he wasn’t so worried about Hoseok.
Seokjin knocked lightly on Hoseok’s door. “Hey? Hopie-Hopie, you busy?” he asked, popping his head in.
Hoseok looked up at him. He had big headphones covering his ears, and his computer was open on his lap. “Just coding,” he answered, scooting over on the mattress to make room for Seokjin.
Seokjin sat on the edge of Hoseok’s bed. “What does this one do?” he asked, gesturing to Hoseok’s program.
“I’ll show you,” he said, pressing ‘run.’ Five blank spots showed up on the screen, and a line of script prompted the user to guess a letter.
“Is this hangman?” Seokjin asked.
Hoseok shrugged. “Yeah. Or... it will be. I need to make it so it won’t accept numbers, but it’ll still go through the while loop,” he said, as if that made any sense to Seokjin at all. He supported Hoseok’s interest in computer programming –despite how different it was from his other passion: dancing- but he didn’t understand it at all. Namjoon was usually the one who got the most excited about Hoseok’s projects.
But today, not even Hoseok seemed excited about his project.
Seokjin hummed, taking in how limp Hoseok seemed against his pillows. He looked exhausted, and Seokjin reached out to feel for his temperature. “Hey, you don’t look so good. Are you feeling okay?” he asked, brushing Hoseok’s bangs off his forehead as he felt for a fever.
Hoseok squirmed. “Yeah, I just... Ugh.” He put his computer to the side and rolled to bury his face in his pillow. Seokjin shifted to make room.
Hoseok spoke into his pillow, and Seokjin strained to hear him. “What was that?”
“I said I can’t tell you,” Hoseok answered, lifting his face out of his pillow for just a second. As he hid his face again, Seokjin’s stomach knotted up in anxiety. Hoseok had never had trouble talking to him before.
“Hoseok...” Seokjin started. He floundered for a moment, unsure of what to say. “You can tell me anything. You know that.”
Hoseok wrapped his arms around his pillow. He didn’t resurface this time, but Seokjin was able to make out his words, even if they were muffled by his pillow. “You wouldn’t get it. You’re going to be mad at me.”
Seokjin held his breath for a minute. Hoseok was holding onto his pillow so tightly, it looked like his elbows might snap. Seokjin reached out to rub Hoseok’s locked shoulders. “I won’t be mad, okay? I’d rather help you than be mad at you.”
Hoseok didn’t answer, just hugged his pillow impossibly tighter.
“Oh, Hopie,” Seokjin sighed. He nudged Hoseok over and lied down in the bed next to him. He guided Hoseok into a hug, burying his nose into Hoseok’s hair as Hoseok buried his face into his chest. “You always talk to me when something goes wrong. What’s so different this time?”
“Because it’s weird.”
Seokjin arched an eyebrow. “Weird?”
“Yeah.” Hoseok’s nose scrunched up against Seokjin’s sternum. Hoseok seemed at war with himself for a moment before finally speaking up. “... I kissed someone.”
Seokjin sat up straight. “You kissed someone?”
Hoseok squirmed nervously. “Well, I mean... I mean, it was more like he kissed me,” Hoseok explained, backtracking.
Jin must have made a ridiculous face because Hoseok tensed up just looking at him. “A he? You kissed a boy?”
Hoseok grabbed his pillow and hid his face in it. “Don’t be mad.”
Seokjin shook the shocked expression off his face and pried the pillow from Hoseok’s hands. “Hopie!” he exclaimed. “Hopie, of course I’m not mad! This is so exciting! You’re first kiss!”
Hoseok looked at him fearfully but sat up in bed. “Yeah?”
“Of course,” Seokjin replied. “You’re growing up; you’re dating boys; you’re getting out there! Ah, I’m so excited for you, I really am,” he promised. He put his hands over his heart for a minute, tears suddenly springing into his eyes as he realized just how quickly Hoseok was growing up.
How quickly all of his boys were growing up. God, Yoongi was looking at colleges. Taehyung and Jimin were in high school, and Jungkook would join them soon enough. They were all getting so big.
“Jin, you’re getting weird,” Hoseok complained.
Seokjin covered his mouth with both hands. “I’m sorry, I’m just so happy for you,” he said, half-crying. “You’re so grown up, and I’m so excited for you, and I’m so proud.”
“Dad, what he heck, we haven’t even gone on a date yet,” Hoseok complained, but he was definitely cheering up now that he realized Seokjin wasn’t upset with him.
“Well, are you going on a date?”
Hoseok blushed and nodded down at his lap. “Yeah... to The Melting Pot.”
“That’s so fancy,” Seokjin gushed. “Is he paying? Or are you paying? What’s his name? How did you meet him? What grade is he in, how old is he, can he drive-“
“Well, okay, hold on, give me a chance to answer!” Hoseok squeaked, but the shy smile on his face said he was glad Seokjin was asking about it. “His name is Oliver. He’s older. He’s a senior, but he’s on dance team, and he’s gonna pay, I think.”
Seokjin smiled encouragingly. “Well, he sounds like a nice boy,” he said. His grin dropped after a second, however. “But why were you upset when you came home?”
Hoseok’s hopeful expression fell off his face. “Oh, um... That...” He seemed uncertain. “It’s just... Well, it’s all very sudden, you know? And also I was really scared you’d be mad.”
“Okay, that’s okay,” Seokjin sympathized. “Is it stressful?”
Hoseok blinked, looking a little dazed like he did when he was deep in thought. “... I’m not sure,” he answered truthfully. “I think so. I know what guys do with girls on dates, but I don’t know what guys do with guys on dates.”
Seokjin patted Hoseok’s leg. “I understand. First dates are hard, and first first dates are even harder. But –hey- if you want date ideas, you should ask Namjoon. He’s always coming up with fun things to do.”
Hoseok squirmed. “I guess...”
“Mhm,” Seokjin hummed encouragingly. “And other than that, don’t worry too much about what you’re doing. Just be yourself. And if it goes well: great! And if it doesn’t... Well, I mean, Hoseok, you’re a great kid, you know? The best kid. My kid. There will be other boys. And other girls, and other people, like... whoever you want, whichever way you swing, there’s going to be others.”
Hoseok took a shaky breath. “Okay,” he agreed. He seemed a little shaken, but his shoulders hung differently, like a weight had been lifted off of them.
The timer on the oven went off downstairs, and Seokjin stood up. “And that’s dinner,” he said, wrapping up the conversation. “Let’s go eat, okay?”
Hoseok picked himself up out of bed. Seokjin watched him as he saved his work, a bounce in his step that had been missing when he had stormed through the house earlier. He ruffled Hoseok’s hair as they left his room.
Suddenly, Seokjin felt a wave of anxiety rush over him. He looked down at his son. “Hey, Hopie,” he said, starting up the conversation again. “Remember, you can talk to me about anything, okay? Don’t ever worry about me getting mad at you. It’s my job as a dad to help you get out of problems, not make them worse.”
Hoseok looked up at him and threw him a blinding smile. “Right!” he agreed as if it was obvious, even if he had sounded differently a couple of minutes ago. “You’re great at helping.”
Seokjin huffed out a laugh. “Well, I try.”