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For Yoo (Operation Santa)

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It was only with Jimin’s help that Hoseok could do what he did every year.  Whether it was putting on the padding to add a bit to Hoseok’s normally flat stomach, or helping add just a pinch of glitter and maybe a bit too much blush to his already prominent cheeks, or even setting up venues and finding people to volunteer—Operation Santa would never be a thing if it weren't for Park Jimin.  Sure, he may not be Santa—that was Hoseok’s job—but he was an elf and Santa’s manager… and maybe (or maybe definitely, considering the white gold diamond rings sitting snug on their left ring fingers) Santa’s Mr.—Hoseok had long since learned to never call Jimin the Missus—Claus.

Currently?  His help was needed to pull up Hoseok’s red velvet (“Velveteen,” Jimin always corrected Hoseok, “it’s fake.  Faux velvet.  Cotton.”) pants over the padding surrounding his legs.

Why do we do this every year,” Jimin groaned, shuffling the stubborn fabric over the semi-stiff padding, needing to adjust it consistently.  “Why do I help you?”  It was only the first gig, yet he was already complaining.

“Because you love me?  And the kids?” Hoseok hummed, chuckling as he watched over Jimin’s struggles.  Jimin only huffed, knowing he couldn’t really argue.  No matter how much he struggled to help Hoseok during the three weeks before the holiday, when they had multiple gigs daily, and when the stress and lack of sleep made him drag his feet, if only one child’s face lit up sitting on Hoseok’s—Santa’s—lap, it was all worth it.

It took a couple minutes before Jimin finished pulling up Hoseok’s pants, buckling them into place, and pulling the thick boots Seokjin had helped Jimin put together (white fluff trim and all) onto his feet.

“I think I prefer you on your knees for other reasons,” he hummed, rewarded only with a slap on his thigh and a dejected sigh.

“Let’s not talk about that when I’m helping you put on Santa’s suit.  My childhood isn’t going to be ruined.  Not on my watch,” the younger groaned, standing to snatch up a rather large white shirt to help pull over his husband’s head.

“As if we haven’t fucked with these pants around my ankles many times before,” Hoseok chuckled.  Jimin didn’t bother to reply, knowing he’d get nowhere.  He hoped his (half-hearted) glare conveyed his feelings about bringing that up.

Jimin simply moved onto the next thing: searching for that damned coat.  It was lost somewhere under the mess of sheets on their bed—really, it was just one large inconvenience for him: he still had to do Hoseok’s makeup, not to mention get ready himself.  Hoseok was useless enough once he was in the fat suit, choosing to waddle around the house and beg Jimin to do everything for him—it was too hard, and he had to save energy for the kids.  Figures.

“We should be bringing this suit back to the cleaners soon,” Jimin mumbled, fingers nimbly grasping onto the soft fabric of the coat, pulling it out of the tangle of sheets and inspecting it.  “Needs to be ironed and dry cleaned.  Pick up the other suit while we’re dropping this one off.”

“Probably,” Hoseok agreed, watching as the smaller’s careful gaze turned from the coat to him, barely hearing him mumble about how much left they had to do.  They had time, and Hoseok knew it; Jimin was just a worrier, a perfectionist.  They always had to be early and Hoseok always had to be the most convincing Santa.  No matter how grouchy Jimin was when dressing up Hoseok, sometimes the elder easily believed that Jimin cared more about this yearly tradition than Santa himself.

Jimin fussed, making Hoseok shove his arms into the thick sleeves of the coat, straightening any crease, buttoning up the miniscule buttons (sometimes his tiny hands really did come in handy), and buckling the larger belt that went taunt against Santa’s mid.  Soon after, he demanded that Hoseok sit down on their undeniably stiff bed (“We need a new one, hyung,” Jimin complained often.  Hoseok would only ever push it off; “It ain’t hurtin’ us.  What’s the bother?  I like it.  Got a lot of memories on this thing.”) so he could rush off to gather the bag of makeup.  There was no order to it, and it was stained after a bronzer had broken and gotten on everything, but it was what they had.  The bag was filled with colourful shadows, bright pink blushes, dark coal pencils (Jimin’s favourite), and glosses that definitely should have been thrown out two years prior.

“Now sit still,” Jimin instructed as he pumped foundation on the back of his hand, dipped a sponge in it, and carefully started to work on Hoseok’s face—a thin layer, only to smooth out his complexion.  Then it was onto the funner things: stacking on a pigmented blush to make his cheeks warm and his nose rosy, or packing on glitter (their home had long since filled with the loose pigment; ever since their first year doing this, they’d find glitter in the oddest of places throughout the year) to the tops of his cheeks inside of highlight.  Making Hoseok’s eyes a tad bit wider with a skin toned liner on the waterline (it was Hoseok’s least favourite part of the whole ordeal) was second to last, only coming before the red lip tint and clear gloss to coat his usually soft, brown lips.  “Good.”

“Where’s the beard?” Hoseok asked, glancing around the room.

“Tangled in the wig, I’d guess,” Jimin sighed, moving to search through a mountain of other supplies: multiple pairs of gloves, socks, hats, wiry glasses only used for Santa, a few other wigs, and there—the beard.  “Found it.”  Stumbling over the mess of clothes thrown to and fro—they didn’t have too much time to deal with cleaning up after themselves throughout the holidays—Jimin came back to help Hoseok put on the beard, wig, and hat.

“Want to put on the glasses?” Hoseok asked his husband.  It was a tradition, really, for Jimin to put his glasses on when preparing for the first gig of the year.  Brought good luck, or something, neither really knew; just that it meant something.  That the completion of Hoseok’s transformation from a dancer in his prime years to a much older man with a bellowing laugh and an overflowing gut; a transformation from an all around average late-twenty-something guy to Santa meant something.

With a hasty nod and shaky hands, Jimin slid the glasses onto his partner’s face, a small smile lifting the corners of Jimin’s plump lips.  It was a struggle not to lean over and kiss Hoseok right then and there; sweet and soft, a kiss that gave Hoseok every bit of his heart and more a sweet and soft kiss that communicated how much love he held for the man in front of him.  Whether as Santa Claus or Hoseok Park, his husband knew how to light up a room with pure joy, and that’s really what all of this was about; bringing joy to everyone they could leading up to the holidays, letting people experience the true spirit of Christmas.

“I love you,” Jimin murmured, staring at his husband in utter admiration.

“I love you, too,” Santa chuckled, smiling wide and sweeping up the smaller man into his arms as he stood.  Jimin shrieked, trying to push away Santa, but failed miserably.

“I swear if you ruin your makeup, you’re doing it on your own,” Jimin squawked, his fists hitting Santa’s shoulder, a silent demand to be let down.  “Let me get ready, ya dolt.  We don’t have all day.”

“But Santa needs his Mrs. Claus—” thwack “—to give him energy before meeting a shit ton of kids and getting stuck in a seat for hours on end.  Under a bunch of lights.  In a thousand layers.”  Hit after hit, Santa didn’t seem phased at all, only snickering softly.

“Santa won’t be making it to the kids if he doesn’t put me down right now,” Jimin grumbled, slowly beginning to give up on fighting back against the now much larger man holding him.

“Santa has no problem with that—”

“—he will if it means sleeping on the couch—”

“—okay, okay, down you go.”

Jimin rushed away from Santa, triumphant, with his bag of makeup and the bundle of clothes that had been hanging on the bathroom door.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an elf costume to wriggle into.”


 

“We’re almost there,” Jimin sighed, grip tight on the wheel.  Hoseok had not stopped pestering the poor elf, whether it was asking if they were there yet or telling him just how cute he looked with those fake pointed ears and the over-the-top green and red eyeshadow.  Not to mention the awful candy cane stockings and pointy slippers, or the loose green tunic that wasn’t the least bit flattering.

“Good,” Hoseok laughed, before returning to intentionally singing Christmas carols horribly.  Jimin swore Hoseok had an honestly pleasing singing voice on most occasions, but that moment was not one of them.  Granted, he also swore Hoseok was hell bent on annoying the living shit out of the elf.

“I’ll turn off the carols if you don’t stop singing,” Jimin threatened.

“No you won’t.”  No, he really wouldn’t.  He was, admittedly, weak when it came to Hoseok.


 

Set up at the venue was never too hard, considering it wasn’t their job.  Really, it just consisted of Jimin being picky and figuring out where they wanted Yoongi to set up his camera.  Namjoon and Seokjin only ever tagged along to obstruct this process, generally having something to do with Namjoon crashing into something and Seokjin lecturing him on being more careful.  Usually, if they ever bothered to show, they’d be dressed up as elves as well (Seokjin’s insistence, really—mainly after Jimin had complained about them standing by and watching on awkwardly the whole time).

It wasn’t a surprise, really, that after they had managed to get there a good thirty minutes early, they were stuck sitting around for twenty until the event opened.  This gig was always one of Jimin’s favourites, a yearly one.  It was hosted by a charity—a local one dedicated to children’s cancer awareness—with rides for kids and a “forest” of Christmas trees adorned with ornaments, tinsel and other various decorations scattered about for families to walk through.  Complete with Santa and his elves, of course.  It wasn’t unusual for orphanages to come by, or sometimes even groups of sick children from a nearby hospital.  Heartbreaking, but it was a beautiful thing to see how their eyes would light up as they spoke to Santa about whatever their little hearts desired.

“The ears are uncomfortable,” Yoongi grumbled, going to adjust them before Seokjin swatted his hand away.  The Parks had been amused to find that their photographer had been dragged into Seokjin’s antics, always one to never be able to say no to either of his boyfriends.

“You can live with it for a night,” Jimin scoffed, “I practically have to live in these things over the holidays.”

“Now that I’ve worn ‘em, Jin’s not gonna let me ditch them any other night,” the photographer said, messing slightly with the zoom and focus of his camera.  “You know it’s true.”

“Still, not as bad as every holiday season for the past six years.”  Yoongi’s nose scrunched up in distaste at the thought, and Namjoon sauntered up to him to gently rest a hand on his shoulder, expression sympathetic.  Seokjin only looked proud of himself.

Time ticked down, conversation between the group flowing with ease until the first small group of kids started trickling in.  Hoseok’s loud laugh, blinding smile, and comforting voice did their job, even the children originally frightened calmed down and had large smiles on their faces by the end of it all.  Parents thanked all of them graciously after receiving photos, and kids happily sucking on the mini candy canes Seokjin handed out at the exit.

It wasn’t until halfway through the night that the first group from the orphanage stopped by, caretakers lining all of the kids up.  It wasn’t too many, and most were around the same age (eight to nine, if Jimin had to guess).  It was sad, knowing that most of the kids had grown up without a clue what it was like to have a warm, loving family, a tree of their own and dozens of presents under the tree.  But at least they knew Christmas cheer.  At least there was still a smile on their faces as each one sat on Hoseok’s lap and hold him exactly what they wanted for Christmas.

Unsurprisingly, parents was the number one choice.

“I’ll see what he can do,” Hoseok would always reply, but the knowledge that no one could grant them their wish always seemed to hit him.  While nights like this were special to both Jimin and Hoseok, beautiful in a way, they were also some of the hardest nights of the season.  Sometimes they’d stay up late, limbs tangled together, just talking about what they could do to help.  It wasn’t uncommon for them to talk about at least adopting one, making one of their wishes come true.  It also wasn’t uncommon for them to shoot the idea down in the past years, always arguing that their life just wasn’t put together enough.  Whether they were building up the dance studio they owned together, or still enjoying partying on the odd day off, they had never been ready for kids.

This year, maybe it would be different.

Jimin was positive it wouldn’t be.

The group of orphans was done and over with before long.  The boys found themselves in a lull, with only a few stragglers coming in throughout the next hour.  Most people were probably watching the small performances put together by school choirs and bands, sometimes even by dance studios (the only reason their studio hadn’t done a recital there yet was because of Hoseok’s job as Santa and Jimin always being his faithful elf).  Or maybe most of them were walking through the Forest, looking at the decorations in awe.  Either way, very few were stopping by to see Santa and it gave them a chance to relax and talk a bit.

Hoseok was oddly silent, but Jimin wasn’t surprised.  The orphans often hit Hoseok the hardest.  Having grown up in a very loving, close knit family, he couldn’t imagine how horrible it must be to grow up without the loving caress of a parent’s fingers on their backs or soft lullabies sang to whisk them off into peaceful rests.

“You can’t save them all,” Jimin said softly, resting a hand on his husband’s shoulder.  Hoseok stiffly nodded—he knew that, but it didn’t mean that he didn’t want to.  “You’re making them happy, right now, okay?  They have smiles on their faces because of you.  Don’t forget that.  The little things matter too.”  He pressed a quick but soft kiss against his husband’s temple, hand on Hoseok’s shoulder squeezing gently, reassuringly.

Hoseok hummed appreciatively as he leaned into Jimin’s touch before it disappeared as the next group of orphans come up—this one younger than before—all anxiously anticipating meeting Santa.  Jimin could see every whispered wish in Hoseok’s ear sticking with him, whether it was for a new Barbie or that awesome bike they saw someone riding—doesn’t matter that they are much too young and much too small to properly ride one.  The smaller, younger ones who didn’t really understand always asked for easier things, fun things to entertain them.  Things they won’t have to share.

It wasn’t until a girl waddled up, brown hair tied up in a ponytail with pink rubber bands and chocolate eyes wide in amazement, that things changed.  With a bright, toothy smile, she introduced herself—Yoojung Choi—before spinning in her long sweater dress—a soft, muted pink with a bunny printed on front—and asking if Santa liked her outfit.

“It’s adorable,” Hoseok smiled, leaning forward and picking her up to sit her on his leg.  Her wide eyes glanced around curiously, landing directly on Jimin, and he barely kept himself from melting under her soft gaze.  So curious, so sweet—an odd mix of innocence and maybe a little bit too much knowledge of the world for a toddler to have.

“Sister Cat-rin helped me,” she said excitedly, turning her attention back to Hoseok.  Jimin could guess that she meant Sister Catherine, one of the nuns at the local orphanage.  “Want to be pwetty for Santa!  So I be on the good list!”

“Want to know a secret?” Hoseok looked around before leaning in and whispering in her ear, loud enough for Jimin to hear from right next to him, “you already were on the nice list.”  The little girl squealed happily, hurrying to hug Santa tightly, surprising even Hoseok.  But he took it, chuckling and patting her back.

“Does that mean my wish comes true?” she asks, bouncing excitedly on Hoseok’s knee.

“Only if you tell me what your wish is,” Hoseok leans forward, turning his head so she can whisper in his ear.  He nods as she speaks, and Jimin could see the surprise lining his features—now that was new, and he certainly would ask what her wish was later.

After making Yoojung sit still for a moment so Yoongi could take a photo, she was off to chatter with the other kids who had already talked to Santa.  Things seemed to go faster, and the day ended quickly.  With Yoongi set to send Hoseok and Jimin all of the pictures and Namjoon and Seokjin already dead tired (they really didn’t do much beyond pass out candy canes and call up the next kid), the group separated with the promise to see each other the next day at the next gig.

The ride home was quiet, Christmas carols playing softly over the radio.  It wasn’t an awkward or tense silence, simply comfortable.  Something that had just become usual on late nights after gigs, a period to wind down before they grab a bottle of wine and lay in bed with a Christmas movie on play that they won’t pay any attention to at all.

As soon as they arrived home, the suit came off and the bath was run, filling as the two washed off all their makeup.  Slipping into the hot water, Hoseok first and Jimin next, was comfortable, even in the small bath.  Relaxing as Hoseok’s hands massaged shampoo into Jimin’s scalp or when Jimin massaged Hoseok’s much too tense shoulders.  Soft kisses exchanged, revelling in the touch of their partner.  If there had been bubbles, there was no doubt that Jimin would have shaped a beard out of them on Hoseok’s chin and Hoseok would have dumped a bunch on top of Jimin’s head and called it a crown.

They slipped out of the bath with the same ease as they had gotten in, then continued drying off before throwing on their pyjamas: shirts stolen from the other’s drawers and loose boxers.  One went to grab the wine, the other turned on Frosty the Snowman, and soon they found themselves in a tangle of limbs, drinking from the other’s glass and giggling about anything and everything.

“So,” Jimin hummed, head tucked snugly into his pillow as he gazed at his husband.  From there he could see the start of laugh lines he knew he’d love as they aged and as those lines became more and more prominent, he could see the mole placed on top of his lover’s upper lip that he loved to kiss and stare at, and he could see the colour tinting Hoseok’s cheeks as the bottle of wine slowly drained between them.

“So,” Hoseok giggled back, leaning down to press his lips gently against Jimin’s.

“What did that little girl ask Santa for, hmm?  Yoojung was it?” Jimin asked, and Hoseok seemed to think for a moment before pursing his lips.

“She asked for the older kids to find homes,” he said softly, eyes becoming slightly unfocused.  “How old do you reckon she was?”

“Three, maybe four at the oldest,” Jimin said softly.

“Yeah, probably,” he says, before resting his head on the pillow beside Jimin.  “Do you think we’re ready?”

“For kids?” Jimin asks, brow wrinkling as Hoseok nods.  He just shrugs.  “I don’t know.  Maybe.”

“I think we are,” Hoseok says wistfully.  “I really think we are.  We’ve talked about wanting kids for years now.  We’ve been preparing for years.  We bought this damn house because we want kids in it.  I… I want to adopt Yoojung.”

“Hoseok, you know I’m ready for whatever you are, but are you sure about this?” Jimin asks softly, reaching out to gently rest his hand against his husband’s cheek.  No, Hoseok wasn’t sure he was ready.  He wasn’t sure he’d ever be ready to be a father.  But that was all that was missing in his life now, and there would truly never be a better time: their dance studio was continually doing better and better, and they had a little extra money coming in through the holidays.  They had almost stopped clubbing with Yoongi and his boyfriends completely as well.  Not to mention their house was certainly big enough; three rooms with a decently sized kitchen and living room.  He had no doubt Jimin would be the most amazing Dad the world had ever seen;

he would love and spoil any child who entered their lives.  What else needed to change for them to finally do what they’ve been wanting to for the past five years?

“Yeah,” he says softly.  “Yeah, I’m sure about this.”

“Then let’s call in the morning, see what we can do,” Jimin says softly, pressing his lips softly against Hoseok’s.  They were soft, even despite the fact the cold had kept them a bit chapped and the old gloss hadn’t done much to help.  They were familiar.  They were his past, his present, his future; Hoseok was his past, his present, his future.  As long as Hoseok was by his side, he could do anything.

“I love you,” Hoseok whispered against his lips before pulling away to press his forehead against his partner’s.  “I love you more than words could ever express.”

“I love you, too,” Jimin hummed in response, content in Hoseok’s arms, almost empty glasses on wine forgotten on the bedside table as they became lost in each other.  They were all gentle touches and kisses; never sure where one begins and the other ends.  It was purely them in that moment.  Two people so irrevocably in love, even after so many years together, that no matter how well they know each other’s bodies it’s always like the first time: discovering again and again what makes the other tick, what makes the other breathe in a sharp breath and out a soft curse.  Relearning every crevice of the other’s body and falling in love with every part of the other over again.


 

+

It took two years, a lot of stress, but here they were: walking out of the orphanage on a Christmas morning, a rosy-cheeked, giddy five year old between them.  Their daughter between them.  Jimin wasn’t sure which was better: knowing the surprise Yoojung would get as soon as she stepped through the door to their cosy home or knowing that Hoseok and he finally had completed their little family.

Truth be told, they’d been deathly afraid it would fall through; that while Yoojung let herself get so excited—she even started calling them Appa and Dad—she’d be crushed to find out that she’d never come home with them.  There was one obstacle after another throughout the whole process, but they’d pushed through even the most difficult one.  It was all worth it for their little girl.

Buckling her into a car seat in the back of their small sedan, Jimin paused for a moment to kiss Yoojung’s forehead.  “Ready to go home, Princess?”

“Yes Appa!” she giggled, and leaned forward to kiss Jimin’s cheek.

“Then let’s go,” he chuckled, before he moved the passenger’s seat, taking his time to buckle in before Hoseok drove off to their home.

 

(Once there, Yoojung squealed at the sight of the mountains of presents under their rather large and flashy Christmas tree.  Maybe it was the first year Hoseok hadn’t gone out as Santa, but it was also the first year that he truly understood what it meant to be Santa Claus.

“Santa made sure to drop off a lot of gifts for you here, Yoojung.”)