“Yah! Jungkookie!” The wooden spoon thwacks! against the kitchen counter as Jungkook snatches his hand away in the nick of time. “I said no! This is for hyung!” Jin is smiling slightly, just a slight upturn at the corner of his lips, like he thinks this is some game they’re playing. Jungkook furrows his brow in confusion and annoyance. This is a “game” all of them engage in frequently with Jin - annoying dongsaengs trying to snatch food from their hyung - but can’t Jin tell that he isn’t playing? The smell of the hotteoks wafting up from the griddle is overpowering, making Jungkook’s stomach turn, but they smelled so good from down the hall and now Jin’s turned him down twice. He can’t back down now - backing down means he loses. JK doesn’t lose; he’s the golden maknae. He’s alpha. He deserves this. Why is Jin standing in the way?
Jungkook feels a vibration in the back of his throat, an alpha subvocalization that still feels weird coming out of him. Jin doesn’t react, either hasn’t heard over the sizzling pancakes or doesn’t care what the fuck, but a stillness in his periphery suggests that Namjoon has stopped scratching at his crossword and is watching the interaction closely from the kitchen table. Jungkook draws in a breath and straightens his spine until he’s standing at his full height.
“I don’t need your permission,” he growls. The beta turns away from the stove, frowning. “I’m an alpha now. I don’t need to ask you.”
“Excuse me?” Jungkook gets a sharp sense of satisfaction from the slack-jawed confusion showing on Seokjin’s face. His stomach turns again, but he ignores the nausea. “Jungkookie if you think that matters, you have another thing coming.” Jin’s eyes flit to the side, probably to Namjoon, but the alpha inside the maknae is incensed that the beta would look to a different alpha instead of just conceding. His vision narrows on the man in front of him. “We taught you better than that. In this pack, age is more important than instinct.”
Jungkook bares his teeth, feeling a heat building in his throat that he’s never felt before.
“ Hyung -” Namjoon’s hand clamps down on his shoulder from behind, startling him. Jin’s eyes widen briefly in surprise before narrowing and pinning the new alpha with an intensity he can’t remember ever feeling from the madnae before.
“Jeon Jungkook.” Jin’s voice is low, quiet. JK feels suddenly small - the smallest he’s felt since becoming an alpha three weeks ago. Jin’s scent - normally the calming center of the pack - is sour, the lavender sharp instead of soothing. Behind him, Namjoon smells much the same as usual, but with a slight tinge to it Jungkook can’t place. He still hasn’t figured out how to read emotions from his pack members’ scents, and the lack of insight sends alarm bells clanging through his brain. He feels a whine building up in his throat but tamps down on it before the noise can escape. “I know I did not just hear you try to use Alpha Voice on me.” Chest heaving as if he’d just come back from a run, Jungkook feels his body trembling with pent up aggression and adrenaline. He opens his mouth to retort, but Namjoon squeezes on his shoulder as a reminder of his presence.
“Jungkook.” Namjoon’s voice is serious, none of the usual playfulness with which he always treats his dongsaeng. “Go sit in your room. I’ll meet you there in a minute.” Jungkook rips his shoulder out of Namjoon’s hand, lets out another quiet growl, and stalks out of the kitchen. He’s scowling as the door shuts, but then he looks up into the startled faces of Jimin and Taehyung on the couch and feels like an ice bucket has just been dumped over his head. Tae’s right hand is cupping the back of Jimin’s neck, his left reaching across his body to circle Jimin’s left wrist. Both the beta and the omega are motionless, their eyes wide and lips thinned, staring directly at Jungkook. The alpha feels rooted in place, the spell only broken when he hears Namjoon ask Seokjin if the beta is all right. JK quickly looks down and away, keeping his eyes on the ground as he power walks to his room.
Once there, he shuts the door and sits on the edge of his bed. He stares blankly at the opposite wall, his thoughts careening around his skull. He feels...alone. Honestly, he’s felt alone for weeks now. He just - god, he just overreacted like some knothead, posturing in front of his hyung and freaking out over fucking hotteok . He didn’t even want it once he actually entered the kitchen - his nose had been sensitive even before presenting so now even something like caramelizing sugar is offputting. What the hell is wrong with me?! His eyes prickle, but he presses the heels of his hands into the sockets until the pressure becomes uncomfortable. He’s not going to cry . He’s not a child .
Jimin’s and Tae’s faces flash in his mind’s eye. He used to cuddle with them all the time, letting them baby him and cling to him like koalas. Ever since he presented...well. Alphas aren’t supposed to cuddle, are they. He’s been trying to avoid thinking about the uncertainty in Jimin’s and Tae’s eyes when the three of them are together. Clearly they don’t want him to cuddle now that he’s an alpha. Not that he’d even want to, anyway. He can’t stop thinking about their body language on the couch. Does he scare them now? His eyes prickle again. He certainly scares himself.
He clenches his fists, and tries to take deep steadying breaths. He feels out of control, has ever since he presented. What if Namjoon wasn’t in the kitchen to stop him? The thought of how Jin’s shock gave him satisfaction makes him shudder. He could have - would have - kept going. Would have hurt his hyung, someone who drives him to and from school and signs his permission slips and cooks him soup when he’s not feeling well. Over hotteok . What if he did that at an award show? God , what if he did it at a fansign ? What if -
A pause. Then, the door opens and Namjoon walks in, followed by Yoongi. Jungkook watches Yoongi walk up to the bed in confusion, while Namjoon shuts the door behind them.
“Hey, kid.” Yoongi’s not smiling, but his eyes seem sad instead of judgemental.
“Hyung?” Jungkook looks between Yoongi and Namjoon, who has moved to stand next to the omega.
“This is a conversation both of us need to be present for. As Pack Alpha and Pack Omega.” Jungkook shrinks into himself and looks down, somewhere around the vicinity of his hyungs’ hips. He’s in deep shit. He knows that. And yet, being alone in a room with the two highest-ranking members of the pack makes him relax instead of worry. He can feel tension begin to unspool from his shoulders, a weight lifting that he hadn’t realized he’d been carrying for weeks. For the first time since he presented, submitting is easy and natural. He feels like Jungkookie again. His hyungs both let out a quiet breath, Yoongi reaching out to run his fingers through Jungkook’s hair and scratch at the top of his head.
“Jungkook-ah, can you look at me?” He unclenches his fists and spreads his palms out on his knees a few times before finally looking up and meeting Namjoon’s gaze. “Thank you.” Namjoon smiles at him, his dimples barely showing. It’s a genuine smile, but not lighthearted. Jungkook tries to mirror the expression, but probably ends up with more of a grimace. “Yoongi-hyung and I have been trying to decide how to have this conversation for a while, to be honest.”
“A while?” Yoongi snorts lightly.
“Frankly, Kook, we’re shocked you’ve made it this long without an incident.” What?
“Jungkook-ah…” Namjoon trails off, seeming to search for words. The corners of his lips are turned down. Here it comes, the talk. Don’t disrespect your hyungs. Don’t use Alpha Voice when you’re being a brat. Yoongi lays his hand briefly on the back of Namjoon’s neck, and the alpha takes a deep breath. “Jungkook we want to apologize to you.”
Jungkook - feels like his brain has stopped working. His mouth is hanging open, his eyebrows furrowed. Bizarrely, between all the ??? ’s and ?!?! ’s zinging around his brain, the one thought that comes through crystal clear is ARMYs would have a field day if they saw my face right now .
“This conversation is always easier to have once you’ve already experienced the slide towards a loss of control. It doesn’t make sense otherwise, turns your instincts into a bogeyman you’re terrified of and keeps you from ever becoming comfortable in your own skin. You can’t be alert for signs or triggers you’ve never felt before. But, well, hyung is right.” Namjoon pauses and glances at Yoongi before turning back to Jungkook. “This usually happens within the first week. We figured Taehyung would push you off the couch one too many times, your growl would shift, and then we could talk about maintaining a balance with your instincts and not letting your subgender affect how you exist in the world. But then, nothing happened. You never even growled beyond a subvocalization here or there. We didn’t know what to do, so we figured we’d just stick to the plan. And I think that was the wrong decision.”
“We were so busy watching for something to happen verbally or physically. We were - we were too fucking impressed ,” Yoongi spits out the word like bile, “impressed with how much control you had even right after presenting. ‘There’s our golden maknae, look at Kookie being superhuman as per usual.’ But we missed how much you were struggling. Right before our goddamn eyes.”
“Hyung -” Jungkook wants to reassure Yoongi, convince him that the omega is overreacting, but he barely gets one word out before his hyung continues.
“Don’t even say it, Jungkook, you are not fine you have not been fucking fine .” Jungkook closes his mouth. “The transition is hard , Kook. It’s fucking hard. And honestly, it’s worse for alphas than it is for the rest of us. The instincts of a beta or an omega - they’re hard to get used to, sure, but they usually don’t involve rethinking and re-examining every interaction you have. They usually don’t involve figuring out how to reconcile who you are with this new angry voice roaring through your head. It’s a way smoother transition. And as if that weren’t enough, you’re the only one who presented post-debut - you’re under way more pressure than Tae was when he presented. You’ve been quiet and withdrawn lately and it’s only gotten worse as time passes. We should’ve seen it sooner.” Namjoon mirrors Yoongi’s earlier actions and comforts the omega with a hand on his nape.
“We could have been more involved with this process beyond just waiting for your first growl. We could have been explicit about being available to you for support, or questions, or advice. And for that, we’re sorry.”
There’s a pause while the three of them look at each other. Jungkook tries to put a finger on what he’s feeling, but only comes up with overwhelmed . His hyungs seem to understand, because Yoongi and Namjoon nod at each other before Namjoon begins speaking again.
“Okay. I know you’re still processing everything but we need to talk about what happened earlier.”
“I know. I’m sorry. It was so stupid. I don’t know what came over me I didn’t even want them anymore because the smell was just too strong but I couldn’t back down and as soon as I snapped out of it I started freaking out because it was just over fucking hotteok and what if you weren’t there to stop me hyung what if I do that again to an interviewer or a stylist-noona or a fan or -”
“Shhh, shh Jungkook-ah calm down take deep breaths.” Jungkook feels Yoongi’s hand on the back of his neck and suddenly realizes that he’d squeezed his eyes shut at some point. The pressure on his nape makes him feel like his entire spine is melting in this heady combination of lovedevotionprotectioncomfortpack - no wonder everyone does this to each other this feels amazing . An honest-to-god whine falls out of his mouth when Yoongi removes his hand, but he can’t bring himself to be embarrassed about it.
“Jungkook, why would it have been bad to use your Alpha Voice on Seokjin-hyung?” Jungkook furrows his brows as he looks at Namjoon. “Humor me please, I want to hear what you think.”
“Well it would be disrespectful because he’s my hyung. Even though I’m an alpha and he’s a beta, it wouldn’t be right to force him to do something he didn’t want to do.” Namjoon nods to himself, before turning to Yoongi.
“Jungkook-ah, we think it’s important that you fully understand the power of Alpha Voice and its ramifications. It would have been disrespectful, yes, but it would have been so much more. And it’s hard to explain it when we could just show you.” Yoongi shares another look with Namjoon and takes a deep breath. “We’re only going to do this with your consent. But I think the best way is for you to use your Alpha Voice on me, so you know how it feels to use it. And then Namjoon-ah will use his Voice on you, so you understand what it’s like to truly not be in control.” Both Yoongi and Namjoon stand silently in front of Jungkook, waiting for his response. Jungkook has seen his hyungs serious plenty of times, but this...the air in the room has a weight to it that wasn’t there a minute ago.
“I want to know. Do it.” Yoongi huffed, the corner of his mouth twitching.
“Ok Kook. First, use your Voice on me.” Jungkook opens his mouth, but his mind is completely blank.
“Hyung I don’t know what to do.”
“Jungkook-ah, try and focus on that part of your mind that is alpha. The alpha protects their pack. They want to command and dominate.” Namjoon intones, his voice slightly lower than normal.
“Then, why don’t you tell me to sit next to you on the bed. That’s simple enough, and something I want to do anyway.” Jungkook nods, and then closes his eyes. He doesn’t want to tap into the feelings he had in the kitchen; he wants to feel what Namjoon was talking about. He loves his hyungs more than anything. They are his family. His pack. He would do anything for them. It’s his job as an alpha to protect them. He feels a subvocalization rumble through his throat, an odd mixture of a growl and a purr.
“Very good, Kook-ah. I can already tell from your scent that you’re tapping into a different part of your alpha. Hyung’s proud of you. Keep going, and use your Voice on Yoongi-hyung when you’re ready.” Jungkook feels a smile steal across his face, his instincts preening at the pack alpha’s approval and his own pride shining at his hyung’s praise. He takes a few more deep breaths in and out, focusing on the feeling of an alpha aspect that isn’t angry or self-conscious, before opening his eyes and fixing them on Yoongi.
“ Yoongi-hyung .” He pauses, watches as a shiver passes through Yoongi. His voice is a low growl, far different from his normal tone. “ Sit next to me on the bed .” Yoongi takes a step forward and then sits on the bed, patting Jungkook’s thigh lightly and smiling tightly. Now that he’s not hopped up on adrenaline, he can feel how the words physically ripped their way out of his throat. It feels like he’s coming down with a cold, his throat sore and dry. He coughs a couple times, tries to swallow.
“It hurts, doesn’t it” comments Namjoon. Jungkook nods. “Everything has its price, although I still think that there isn’t much equivalency here.” Namjoon takes a small step away from the bed and visibly steels himself. “Ready?”
“ Jungkook-ah .” Holy shit. Jungkook feels a frisson of energy run through him. His entire focus is on Namjoon, his every cell seemingly waiting breathless for instruction. Namjoon’s voice rumbles out of him so low it almost feels subsonic. “ Stand up .” Jungkook stands. It doesn’t even occur to him not to stand. “ Walk up to me .” As an experiment, Jungkook tries to resist. If this is just going to be the Alpha Voice version of Simon Says, he wants to at least get the full experience. Namjoon nods, clearly picking up on his intention. It’s a strange sensation, to say the least. He doesn’t feel like he’s not in control of his body, he just feels like...like pausing here is simply delaying the inevitable. He steps up to Namjoon. Behind him, he hears Yoongi mutter something about “stupid self-flagellating idiot” but he doesn’t turn away from Namjoon. The pack alpha has a strange look in his eyes, a combination of sadness and resolve. “ Slap me across the face. Like you mean it. ”
Jungkook inhales sharply, his hand already raised to chest-level before he realizes and stops himself.
“Hyung, what? Why?” Namjoon’s gaze bores into him, and no matter how much he wants to he can’t look away. “Hyung?” His hand is shaking. He can’t lower it from where it hovers in the air. It’s not like he’s paralyzed, but more like he’s forgotten how to tell his hand why it shouldn’t slap Namjoon. “Hyung no, I don’t want to hurt you why would you want me to hurt you?! ” He can feel a cold sweat break out across his forehead and the back of his neck. He tries to reach for the alpha inside him again, a weak growl leaving his throat.
“ You agreed, Jungkook-ah. This is what Alpha Voice means .”
“Okay hyung I get it please okay I get the point please stop I don’t want to hurt you!” His hand has made its way up over his shoulder, vibrating with the tremors going through his whole body. He started crying at some point, tears dripping off his chin as he fights to prolong this moment as long as he can. Namjoon stands motionless. Jungkook already knows that he can’t fight this forever. He trusts Namjoon too much. He promised he’d go through with this. The stakes aren’t high enough for him to force a dominance battle, even if he did want to challenge Namjoon. “ Please , hyung.” He’s never begged before. The humiliation he thought he’d feel doesn’t even register.
“ Jungkook-ah .” Jungkook whines, high and long, a noise he’s never heard come out of his own mouth. Then, he brings his hand down across his hyung’s face.
He’s sobbing now, his view of the reddening skin of Namjoon’s face blurring out with tears. He’s not so much breathing as he is choking on wet gasps. He doesn’t know what to do with his hands.
“Jungkook-ah.” Namjoon’s hands are on his shoulders, sliding down to rest on his biceps. “Jungkook-ah why didn’t you want to hit me. I want to hear you say it out loud.”
“ Because you’re my hyung! ”
Namjoon bundles him in a hug, moving them both to sit down on the bed. He places his hand on the back of Jungkook’s head and brings the maknae’s face into his neck, letting Jungkook scent him. Yoongi scooches closer on Jungkook’s other side and runs his hands through Jungkook’s hair and across his back. Jungkook takes huge lungfuls of Namjoon’s scent, feeling it wash over him as he lets everything out - not just the feeling of being unable to stop himself from hurting his hyung, but also every insecure and unsure and scared thought from the last few weeks. Everything he’s felt since presenting as an alpha pours out, drenching the collar of Namjoon’s shirt as his hyungs make soothing noises around him.
“Jungkookie, I want you to remember this whenever you doubt yourself. You’ve been approaching everything as if subgender comes first, but it’s secondary to who you are and you already know this in your soul. You aren’t upset because I’m your pack alpha - you’re upset because I’m your hyung . You already prioritize our relationship over our dynamics, you just needed a little reminder.” Jungkook clenches his hands in Namjoon’s shirt, whimpering quietly.
“Jungkook-ah,” Yoongi’s voice rumbles from behind him as the omega continues to scratch patterns into Jungkook’s back. “You’ve been trying to act like the alphas in the dramas but that’s not who you are and that’s okay . You might have to put on more of a show in front of the cameras, but in here with our pack you don’t have to be something you’re not. This isn’t a new part of you - you’ve always been an alpha, you were just an unpresented one. You’re still our Jungkookie, you just have a shorter temper.” Jungkook hiccups a laugh, feeling Namjoon and Yoongi both huff on either side of him. “You can be an alpha AND be a brat who likes cuddles. And as your hyungs, we love you no matter what. You might be an adult in the eyes of the law, but you’re still our maknae.” Jungkook lets out another wet giggle, feeling lighter than he’s felt in weeks. He pulls back slightly from Namjoon, looking at the alpha’s collar and wiping his eyes.
“I got your shirt all wet, hyung,” he says. It’s both completely inadequate and exactly the right thing to say. Namjoon chuckles, his dimples winking from his cheeks.
“Nothing we can’t fix in the wash.”
“And don’t think you’ve gotten out of that chore!” Yoongi sounds like he’s scolding but when Jungkook turns to look the omega has all of his gums on display in a wide smile. “You might be a big bad alpha but laundry is still the maknae’s responsibility!”
“With great power comes great responsibility,” Jungkook intones. His hyungs both snort, but they meet his gaze. They all know he’s not talking about the laundry.
“Kookie, if you ever want to get advice on how to be an alpha, you can always come to Hobi or me. But if you want to know how to be a good alpha, you need to ask the other members.”
Jungkook takes a deep breath and rubs his face, trying in vain to seem less blotchy. “I need to go talk to Jin-hyung.” Namjoon nods, smiling.
“He said he was going to wait for you in his room.” Jungkook stands up and moves toward the door while his hyungs follow behind.
“Jungkook-ah,” he turns around to see Namjoon and Yoongi right behind him, their eyes glistening. “We’re proud of you, Kook-ah.”
“Hyungs, you’re gonna make me cry again.”
“As if you won’t be doing that in three seconds anyway,” Yoongi scoffs. Jungkook rolls his eyes turning away to the sounds of Yoongi grumbling about “the disrespect.” He walks down the hall, hearing the sounds of Hoseok, Tae, and Jimin horsing around in the den. Any other day he would follow their voices, but for now he continues walking until he stands in front of Seokjin’s door. He knocks quietly, waiting in the hall until he hears a quiet “come in” from inside. When he opens the door, he sees Seokjin scrolling through his phone on his bed, but the beta sets it down on the nightstand as soon as he sees Jungkook.
“Hyung?” An hour or so ago, Jungkook would have been embarrassed to hear this meek sound coming out of him. Now he just wants to make sure he’s welcome. Jin smiles and pats the bed next to him as Jungkook shuts the door. “ Hyung! ” Jungkook runs forward and tackles Seokjin to the bed, tucking his face into the crook of Jin’s neck and immediately feeling tears start to roll out of his eyes. “Hyung I’m so sorry I’m so sorry hyung -”
“Shhh, Jungkookie. It’s okay. Hyung’s here. I’m never going anywhere.”
“Hyung I’m so sorry I almost used my Voice on you I would never be able to forgive myself if I’d -”
“Jungkookie, I want you to listen to me.” Jin’s hands pause where they’ve wrapped around Jungkook’s head and back. “There is nothing you can do that I would not forgive you for.” Jungkook curls tighter into Jin, doing his best to completely merge with his hyung.
“I’m scared,” he whispers. “I’m scared of what I could have done if hyung hadn’t stopped me.” Jin hums, the vibrations in his chest working in tandem with his scent to calm Jungkook down and even out his breaths. After a few minutes, Jungkook feels him shuffle a bit before pulling the comforter over the two of them and turning off the lights. Jin gently tugs on Jungkook’s hair until the maknae pulls back enough to meet his gaze in the darkened room.
“Tokki, you can’t scare me. I raised you.” Jungkook feels a fierce rush of lovedevotionprotecthyungpack that startles him in its intensity, but Jin just smiles and gently brushes his hair back before kissing him lightly on the forehead. Jungkook allows himself to be tucked back in to Jin’s chest, letting the comfort of his hyung begin to finally finish removing the tension from his body. The emotional roller coaster catches up with him, and he yawns while fighting to keep his eyes open.
“You think you can scare me? When I raised you on my back all these years. The disrespect.” They both pause a moment -
And then break out into giggles, Jungkook’s entire body jostling with each of Jin’s squeaky laughs and making his own cackle come out even brighter. When they finally quiet down again, Jungkook wraps an arm around Jin and snuggles in to his hyung, taking deep inhales of the chamomile and lavender before shifting his neck so that Jin could scent him in turn. A muffled yell filters in from the hall, but Jungkook just closes his eyes and settles in. He’ll reacquaint himself with the rest of the pack in the morning.