Chapter 1: Baby? Baby.
The loud hiss of the bus brings my attention to the large vehicle. I clamber on and head to the back where the seats are more accommodating to the large backpack accompanying me. Yoongi waves to me as he heads to the dorms on the west wing of campus. With my parents having a bountiful income I was fortunate enough to have my own apartment a bit away from campus so not as to be restricted by the harsh curfews. Not that I am a party animal, I just prefer to do what I want and so my father agreed to pay for living in the city of Seoul, the land of opportunity.
I originally planned to be the next big idol and even was scouted for my unmatched beauty, but my heart ultimately yearned for pediatric nursing. It was a happen chance passion of mine. The school was doing orientations for the different majors when my music major self stumbled across the seminar. The ladies conducting the talk were giving the usual pros and cons of nursing when a guy a bit older than I stepped up with a little toddler perched on his hip. Immediately I decided she was the cutest thing and I needed to know what these nurse people were doing. My heart hadn't been prepared for the story that was told, the little girl, Ji Ah, had a terminal illness and if it weren't for the man holding her she would not have lived. My mind was made that day, I could sing and save myself or I could go into nursing and save the lives of children like Ji Ah.
Thinking of the cute girl a smile settles on my lips and I lean my head on the window basking in the fading daylight. I have always loved the sun on my skin and miss the days of my youth frolicking about the waves of the ocean and family full of laughter. We are about two stops from my complex when I feel someone sit next to me, their bag bumping into my left leg. I lift my head and notice a young girl next to me with a baby clutched to her bosom. I can't help but watch as a tiny fist emerges from the soft cloth protecting him from the cold and grab the pendant hanging from my backpack. I can't help but chuckle as little doe eyes become enchanted by the jingling the little Mario figurine makes. The girl looks hastily in my direction and blushes as she attempts to get the baby's hand away from the 'toy'.
"Oh oppa, I am so sorry. Jungkook hajima!" I can't help but chuckle at her distressed tone and seeing the little boy, Jungkook, who looked no older than 6 or 7 months, not about to let go I simply unclip the pendant and let him continue to make noises of happiness.
The young mother looks surprised and I wave my hand showing it was no big deal. " He seems to be enjoying it more than I ever could, I mean who could say no to such a cute boy." She smiles towards me and I proceed to make a fool of myself by cooing and making the impressionable Jungkook giggle. Sadly my stop comes too quickly and I bid farewell to Jeon Soo-Min, the young mother who may or may not have the cutest baby. Well, not as cute as I was of course.
As soon the door clicks shut behind me I throw my backpack towards the couch and head to my small kitchen in search of cold takeout Yoongi and I got the other night. Once my fine dining was set I settled in for dinner at my tv tray. Falling asleep quickly on the couch as a sappy kdrama plays on through the night I wonder how someone so young is navigating the world seemingly alone with a 6-month-old complicating things.
"Come on man it's Friday night, stay at my place we can go get pancakes tomorrow at the diner with the fancy coffee." I can see the war on Yoongi's face as I mention coffee and the exhaustion pulling his shoulders makes him want to go to his dorm. "We haven't had a night in for at least 3 weeks! I miss your sarcastic comments and cursing even." He and I can't help the laughter that ensues.
"Jinnie please let me stay tomorrow or even Sunday I just want to sleep and so me going over is pointless. I'll even help you with that math project as an apology." Yoongi uses his little cat eyes knowing I can't resist them, not since we met as nieve 8th graders. I exhale giving in and the younger boy all but scurries away as I tell him to come over tomorrow for brunch.
"Aish, that kid will be the death of me..." I mutter climbing on my usual bus. Usually, it's a pretty dull route with only a passenger or two so I can get a brief nap on the 30-minute journey home, however, Jeon Soo-Min sits with Jungkook in the back where I typically sit. I smile and wave towards the soft looking pair and sit close to her with my backpack between us. It has become a routine to chat as she has been taking a similar route as mine, but today she has arrived earlier at a different stop. In the last two weeks, I learned Soo-Min was 20 years old and had an office job for a corporate company. The baby stayed at a daycare near there and they live at the edge of town. I, in turn, explained my passion for pediatric nursing and that's why I couldn't help the constant coos at Jungkook.
Today, the young mother looks exhausted and frail in the golden rays shining through the bus window. Noticing that today was not a good day for pestering, even if it was friendly, I decided to rest my head against the plush seat back and wait for stop 403 to announce over the intercom.
As the brakes squeak and the driver rasps over the speaker I begin to blink the sleep from my eyes. However, this proves difficult as a warmth has enveloped my lap and chest. I don't remember getting a blanket out. Movement causes me to become fully aware, and I look down to see Jungkook nestled in my lap with his little hand bunched in my periwinkle colored sweatshirt. Being as gentle as possible I lift the sleeping baby and look for his mom. Jeon Soo-Min is nowhere to be seen and all that leaves a trace of the young girl is the powder pink diaper bag resting atop my backpack. "Hey, kid wake up. this is your stop." The stern older man grits out at my shocked form.
With renewed fervor, I gather Jungkook into my arms and slip my pack across my shoulders. Hastily I remember the pink bag and clamber towards the front of the bus. "Sir, you didn't happen to see a young girl get off, did you? This is her son and I didn't know she left." The driver only scowls in my direction mumbling something about young couples and shoos me off. With confusion in my gait, I head to my apartment with a baby in tow.
"What the fuck? Where did the baby come from?" The lisped voice of my best friend wakes me up from my restless slumber. I knew giving a key to him was a mistake. I attempt to sit up and untangle myself from the nest of blankets and pillows I made around Jungkook and me, so he would not fall off or get away, and look at the shocked expression of the intruder, Min Yoongi.
"No cursing!" I whisper-yell so not as to break the finally calm child's sleep. Yoongi can only look at me incredulously before throwing his hands up and leaving the bedroom. I give one last look at Jungkook breathing softly amongst the cream-colored blankets and follow Yoongi. He sits at the kitchen table looking at me expectantly and I can't help but stall the inevitable as I turn on the coffee maker. It's not until two mugs of steaming liquid are clutched in my hands that I actually make eye contact with my friend's judging stare.
"So are you going to explain the midget or are we going to pretend there's not a baby in your bedroom?" Finally accepting defeat I explain how I met Jeon Soo-Min and Jungkook on the bus, then our conversations for the last few weeks, and lastly the tradeoff last night. "You're telling me this lady just left her baby in your lap? What if you were a bad guy or a murderer? Hyung you can't just keep the baby, we gotta find his mom..."
"You don't think I haven't thought of that. I know I can't keep him, but he can't just get taken by the protective services. Jungkook could end up in an unsafe home that way, at least with me he is in good hands." Yoongi blinks his kitten eyes at me, seizing up my words and seems perturbed by his findings.
"You're attached to it aren't you?"
The silence stretches between us, mine from shocked realization and his from deep set concern. I open my mouth to try and explain when a whimper and cry breaks the tension. Quickly I spring up from my seat to comfort the baby in question. Surprisingly Yoongi follows me to the bedroom to look at the small tearful Jungkook. "Oh, Jungkook-ah no tears," I coo picking the small boy up and putting him on my hip. The small boys tear almost immediately subside and a giggle brightens his plump face. I look over to see Yoongi watching us with a glint in his eye and a small smile at our interaction.
"You know Hyung you don't even have to answer, I can see how you feel. The right thing to do though is visiting the police station to look for his mother." I can't help the pout that purses my lips, no matter how right he is I don't feel right about leaving Jungkook with another stranger so soon. I mean his mom just left him with me, what kind of childhood is being passed from one place to another. A little hand pats at my lips and I look into little doe-like eyes and realized for the first time what Shakespeare was hinting at. Parting really is such sweet sorrow.
We spent most of the afternoon playing with Jungkook and learning how to make formula then changing the aftermath. There may or may not have been a moment where Jungkook had his diaper on backward, but we aren't all experts. After getting all the stuffies I own in the living room and making a mess, the little guy began to yawn so I put him down for a nap about an hour ago.
Getting hungry we leave the couch and venture to the kitchen. I leave Yoongi so that he can look in the bedroom to check on the sleeping babe. Looking over the menus decorating my counter I decide to order takeout for an early dinner. I pick the noodle shop a block away that has pretty decent japchae and write down our usual order then ring up the old couple who run it. With the order placed I look around the living room to see it a mess of random things Jungkook found interesting to toss around. Surprisingly the apartment has a soft hush about it and even the television has finished playing whatever cartoon Yoongi played on Netflix. I head to the bedroom to tell said friend that the food should be here in a bit and that I did order the spring rolls he always convinces me he 'needs'. However, the sight before me stops me in my tracks. The tough as nails Yoongi is curled up with Jungkook, in nothing but a diaper, cuddled to his chest. Both sound asleep and wearing peaceful expressions.
Grabbing my polaroid camera I capture the moment so not as to forget the inexplicable happiness in my heart. I take the printed picture and place it in my vanity table drawer and head back to the living room. Soon the buzzer sounds announcing the arrival of dinner and I quickly pay the delivery boy bringing the bags to the table. I take my time setting the food up so that Yoongi can get a bit of rest since he played with the baby most of the day. For someone so keen on getting Jungkook to his real family, he sure has become close to him. With everything set up, I go to wake the two napping boys.
When I reenter the bedroom Jungkook is awake and playing with the strings on Yoongi's hoodie and when they enter the baby's mouth I intervene grabbing the silly kid. With baby on hip, I begin to poke at the sleeping figure below me. "Come on, naptime is over Yoongi-ya. Let's go eat some japchae." I say in a sing-songy voice making Yoongi groan and Jungkook giggle. After some finagling, the grumpy boy finally drags himself out of bed and into a chair at the table. We dine like an odd little family and it warms my heart. I have known Yoongi since middle school and I've seen him grow into the sarcastic boy he is now and it makes me smile as he interacts with Jungkook like second nature. Who knew the usually reserved Mr. Min would be so easy going with a child.
As the evening darkened and embraced the presence of the moon we discussed what to do with the little Jeon. Yoongi and I decided tomorrow morning that I would take Jungkook to the police station with me to start the process of finding his mother and Yoongi would go to the store and buy a few baby necessities to tide us over until a decision has been made.
"You sure you can handle buying diapers and formula Yoongi-ya. It won't ruin your street cred right?" I can't help the windshield wiper laugh that bursts throughout the shared space. He just gives me the middle finger and heads towards the spare room disappearing for the night. I shake my head and burrow into my bed turned nest with Jungkook nestled to my broad frame. The stars shine especially bright tonight and I can't help but make a wish that no matter what the future holds the child in my arms will grow in a loving home with the support he needs to become a great man someday.
It was not the first time I found myself getting strange stares as I stand in the middle of Lotte Department store, I just so happened to be checking the time when I hear a young couple whisper as they pass by. Looking at me you would never guess my intentions for shopping today. My black ripped jeans hug my small legs and the sweatshirt rolled up shows the tattoos decorating my forearms not to mention the tattoo on my thigh exposed by said jeans which is what occupied the adolescents' opinions.
My legs carry me through the familiar route to Kitty Korner, the store for little things. I know I will be able to buy what Jin wanted for Jungkook. Diapers, formula, and some toys to tide him over until we figure out where Jungkook is going to stay until his mother is found. This is the store my friend Taehyung and I met each other a few years back, he works here and I text him to tell him I was shopping. Taehyung is the only one who knows about my 'little' secret, in fact, he's the one who has purchased and or made most of my wardrobe for little Yoongi.
Having been frequently to the store I know exactly where the stuffies and cute clothes are, but diapers and formula I am less sure of. I grab a shopping cart and browse the furniture meanwhile looking for an associate so that I buy what baby Jungkook needs. A younger girl sees me looking and must be surprised as to why someone dressed such as myself is looking at little blue bunny patterned blankets and pillows. "Uh sir, can I be of any service to you?" Her tight smile shows her questioning of my intentions as I obviously lack a child and the usual appearance of a parent.
Giving her a similar smile I retort, "My best friend has a six-month-old son and I wanted to buy him a few things since he's also a college student with limited funds. The mother..." I casually lean in as though I have a big secret, "...left with a foreigner. So to get the boys accustomed to their apartment I wanted to get the baby some new things." She gasps and I know I won this round. Sly Min Yoongi, 1, nieve sale girl, 0. For being kinda slow on the uptake she sure does convince me to fill my cart pretty quickly. The little blue bunny pattern seems to come in just about every item imaginable and is needed in some shape or form for the young Jeon who has wormed himself into my heart and wallet in less than 24 hours. By the time I get to the register diapers, formula, bottles, clothes, a bunny the size of a toddler, blanket, pillows, and even a white and dove gray playpen get rung up. Jin gave me his credit card to buy the necessities and so I used it for those things, but the plush and playpen amongst other random buys I charged on my card because it was my idea to splurge. I couldn't help myself, the little Yoongi inside loved to buy these things and since he couldn't have them why not pamper a real baby.
Upon finishing checking out I find myself tackled into the embrace of a very enthusiastic Taehyung. "Hyung, I have missed you so much! You know, I was going to ambush your dorm tonight for some much-needed catching up. Follow me to the back I may have splurged again." I barely have time to return the hug let alone any sentiments as he pulls me through the baby haven in which he works, with purchases knocking into my legs it is an awkward procession. As we get to the employee lounge he looks around so not as to be caught and slips us through the door and to the row of cubby like lockers decorating the back of the spacious room. He unlocks his wacky stickered locker, pulls a cornflower blue papered package, and thrusts it into my hands. "Daddy bought these beautiful blue gems that would look so cute with your kitty eyes that I had to make you something. Don't be mad, I did go overboard, but I missed you and knew how long it had been since you ordered anything..." I can't help but flash my gummy smile as he rambles on with his boxy grin.
Interrupting I take the package from the younger boy, "Thank you Taehyunggie. I have been meaning to call you, but my semester has just started and Jin Hyung needs a lot of help right now. Hey, I have to drop these things off, but I'm free tonight. Come over and we can have dinner or something." My phone buzzes and I see Jin's number flash across the screen. Taehyung sees as well because he nods and we agree to meet up at seven.
Just as I finally make it past the displays and other customers' into the open mall Taehyung yells from the store entrance, "No peeking Hyung! Open it when I get there..." Giving the embarrassing boy a nod I start making my way to the exit so that I can call Seokjin to see what is going on with Jungkook. As I almost get out of the crowded shopping mall a kiosk catches the corner of my eye. I slow down to look and before I can retreat the elderly lady recognizes me and beckons me with a wave.
"Oh dear, I haven't seen you in a while. How's schooling?" I can't help but return the pleasantries and look as she shows me the new items on her cart. "I got some new compacts in and thought of you as soon as I got them. Here pick whichever one you want." I can't help but blink up in confusion but the older woman just winks and opens the box. Inside nestled must be about 6 cat shaped compacts, I grasp a pearlescent pink one with a winky face. She gives me a knowing smile and wraps it up safely. "Oh, I almost forgot that sparkly stuff you like so much is restocked go look," she whispers as another customer requires her attention. The older lady working at the kiosk stand knows about my peculiar habit of buying little things, Tae being the charmer he is introduced us and now she goes out of her way to be kind to me. At first, I was apprehensive until I learned she was his Aunt and knew about his lifestyle.
Not wanting to disobey her I head to the left side of the cart to see the holographic-like lipgloss overflowing the display. A girl who looks about 14 stands looking at them and I feel ashamed to be shopping for the same product as the preteen. However, another text buzzes in from Seokjin so I hurriedly side up next to her so that I can get the sunset pink one. Oddly, she and I reach for the same one colliding fingers. "Oh oppa, sorry I didn't see you..." the girl gasps as blush decorates her cheeks.
"Mun-hee didn't I teach you not to flirt with strangers." Before I even look at the intruder I recognize the annoyingly bright voice. Jung Hoseok, the boy who has made my life hell for the last two weeks. At the dancer's words, Mun-hee, the lipgloss girl, turns and so do I but a lot less energetic. "Hyung?" a surprised laugh passes heart-shaped lips as I fix my eyes on the redhead. "What are you doing buying lip gloss?" It's my turn to blush now.
"It is of no concern of yours, but I am buying a gift for my niece. Now that you have bothered me I will get what I need and be on my way." Giving a huff I turn and grab three tubes of the product in question. Before I can lose my cool or dignity I pass the lavender shade in my hand to Mun-hee, "This is the one you need, lavender will make your eyes pop." I wink and head to Aunty paying for my pickings. Without looking back I leave the mall and finally call Jin.
Okay, now we get a bit of insight from Yoongi and his habits. Throughout the story, I will alternate between Yoongi and Jin to give two perspectives on how things play out, plus some separate Namjin or Sope moments.
Chapter 3: Cuddles Bring Comfort
“Jungkookkie! Let’s put you in your outfit now. We can’t go to the station in just our diaper now can we?” I pick up the giggling baby and bounce him on my hip as I make my way to the living room. The little pink diaper bag lays open on the couch from Yoongi and I’s search for a clean diaper. I put my semi-sitting up companion next to me on the couch and once again rustle through the contents. Finding a little yellow onesie patterned with carrots I begin to wrangle the wiggly Jungkook into the article of clothing. “Come on Jungkook-ah I can’t help you find your mama without putting you in something warm. Did she at least leave you with a coat?” All I get is babble in response as I finally button up his onesie. It wasn’t super cold, but there was a bite to the air and I didn’t want him to get chilly so I slip on a pair of gray pants and socks so he has more coverage. As for a coat, all I have is the little blanket his mother had him wrapped in when she left him in my lap.
“Yoongi-ya, when you are out today Jungkookie needs a coat. It will be fine today, but I can’t have him getting cold.” My quiet guest mutters an affirmative as he slips his shoes on and opens the door. “I’ll call you when I finish at the station and we can reconvene here!” I call and scoff as he only nods slipping out the door. “What are we gonna do with Mr. Grumpy? Huh, Jungkook-ah?” Again little laughs leave my tiny companion and I sweep him up in my arms blowing raspberries on his cheek. Making him burst with happy shrieks we make it towards the kitchen table so I can gather our belongings.
The walk from my apartment to the police station is short but full of surprised faces as a tall man such as myself parades down the street in a long pink wool coat. Not to mention a baby perched on my left hip clutching a lapel of said coat. Upon entering the quiet station a younger officer greets me at the counter. “Hello, sir what brings you here today? If you are wanting a copy of his birth certificate the records office just a building over is what you need.” His chipper smile but quick assuming rubs my conscious the wrong way.
Returning a tight-lipped smile I set Jungkook on the counter, his little legs bouncing in excitement. “Actually I am looking for his mother. This is little Jeon Jungkook and he was accidentally left in my care. His mother got off the bus we just so happened to be sharing and placed him in my arms as I slept. Now as silly as it sounds she really left and I want to get this little guy to his home.” The officer looks perplexed and opens his mouth to speak but nothing comes out. Waiting for the young man to get his resolve I take the pen Jungkook is attempting to eat from the curious baby’s fist.
Watching me carefully the officer begins to type on his computer. “So what you are saying is that the boy’s mother abandoned him on public transit. You were fortunate enough to come across the child and there is no connection of bloodline in any way?” I continue to answer the man’s repetitive questions however, both myself and Jungkook were getting bored. I could keep my cool, but the six-month-old began to try and twist around to see the opposite side of the counter. In keeping him from escaping I once again held him, but Jungkook decided to instead pat at my cheeks and lips.
“Jungkookkie, hajima! Be a good boy, Jinnie is trying to find your mama.” The female secretary to the right of officer 20 questions, giggled at our combined antics. In my fussing, I hadn’t noticed an older woman appear beside me. She gestured towards Jungkook and I gave her a confused look. “Um, can I help you, Ma’am?” Her eyes soften and my panic subsides maybe a millimeter. Are they trying to take him from me so soon? Where will they take my Jungkook-ah?
“Mr. Kim I am a specialized pediatric doctor. I am here to give the child a look over to ensure he is a healthy baby. It won’t take but 20 minutes, in the meantime Officer Hyuk wants to speak with you.” The woman this time has me follow her to the door hidden just passed the row of counters. Once we reach a separation of hallways practiced hands slip him from my arms before I can protest. “See you soon Mr. Kim..” As she leaves I find myself alone in the hall feeling a pang of loss settle in my bones.
“Mr. Kim? Please follow me.” Appearing almost out of nowhere an elderly officer guides me to a lounge looking sitting area. I kind of slump into a plush chair across from who I am assuming is Officer Hyuk, feeling weird without a squirmy baby encased in my arms. “So we have created a case file for you and baby Jeon. At this time we do not have any further information other than what you have already given us. I am personally taking the case. What can I say I have a soft spot for babies…” The man’s easy tone brings me into conversation easily. We discuss the process moving forward, and how Jungkook will stay with me until further notice from the station. I will come back in at the end of the week unless new developments occur.
The conversation has hit a comfortable lull when I hear the unhappy wails of Jungkook. I immediately jump to my feet and attempt to save him. However, Officer Hyuk grabs my arm to settle me back into my seat. He tries to bring me back to calm conversation, but all is lost as my leg jiggles restlessly. The wailing gets steadily louder and more hysterical and my heart constricts every second I just have to sit and wait. “I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds, most babies don’t like to get their check up. Baby Jeon will be just fine.” His reassurances fall on deaf ears as the woman who took my baby reappears with said child screaming such as I have never heard before.
I run forward and pull the tear-stricken baby from the evil doctor’s arms. “Jungkookkie!” Little fists grab at my coat and sweatshirt in an attempt to get closer to my broad frame. As I coo and coddle Jungkook his tears begin to subside and he calms laying his head on my shoulder. “It’s okay the evil lady won’t hurt you anymore,” I whisper and turn back to the aforementioned doctor and Officer Hyuk. “I think he’s calm now, and I should take my leave. It has been a strenuous day on the both of us. Officer, you have my number if anything presents itself, otherwise, I’ll be back Saturday.”
“Mr. Kim, I in no way wanted to upset you. I simply had to ensure he was up to date with his medical records. The baby seems to be in perfect health and I have updated his profile so that you will not have trouble in the future.” The lady doctor attempts to pat Jungkook on the back but he screeches and I have to step back. All I can do is a nod towards her respectfully as I reach for the diaper bag and my phone, slipping the latter into my pocket. The kind Officer Hyuk walks us back to the front and bids us adieu promising everything will be as it should soon.
The sun has made an appearance peeking out from behind the clouds and shining on our faces. The gentle breeze and warmth from the sun make it seem like the cool morn was a thing of imagination. I pull my phone from my pocket and call Yoongi, but the phone never picks up. So not as to clog the walkway I begin to walk towards the small shops further into town. “Hmm, what shall we do Jungkook-ah? Are you hungry? Come to think of it I gave you a bottle at 8 this morning and it is,” I look down at the time flashing across my phone screen and gasp, “One o clock! Let’s head to the cafe and I can pick up a quick lunch so I can head home and feed you.”
The baby still seems shocked by the whole experience and I feel terrible making him wait so long to eat and even take a nap. He almost seems weary of people, especially when I try to shift him from one hip to the other. Jungkook gripped harder to me like he thought I was just going to pass him off again. I quickly order a sandwich, soup, and two iced Americanos and make my way back towards my apartment. Again I try to text Yoongi but no answer comes through from the out and about music major.
I have a bit of difficulty trying to open the door with a baby on one side, the other a diaper bag and hand holding the food from the cafe. Luckily the young girl from down the hall sees my struggle and unlocks the door from me. “Thank you, Daisy!” I call as she heads off to work at a fashion magazine photography center. When I first moved in she baked me cookies and has been a friendly face every once in a while. Upon entering I set the food and baby on the table, then place the diaper bag by the couch. Oddly he begins to fuss and I quickly scoop him back up.
We routinely make his bottle then I sit at the table with him resting on my legs so that I could eat as he drinks. As I am finishing my meal I notice little eyes fighting to stay open and hands loosely holding his bottle. “Oh dear, is somebody sleepy? Jungkookie I think it’s nap time.” Once again I lift my little companion into my arms, but this time head to the couch. I lay down and place the sleepy boy on my chest. With careful maneuvering, I pull the afghan from the back of the couch and drape the lavender colored blanket over us. Soon droopy eyes decorate both our faces and soft baby breathing lulls me to rest. Before consciousness makes his departure I place a plush kiss to Jungkook’s head whispering, “Sweet dreams, Kookie…”
“Eomma, I’m home!” The jovial shout of Yoongi returning home jars me awake. I look around blearily still cocooned with Jungkook nestled to my chest. The loud boy enters the living room with a mountain of bags from some place called Kitty Korner. The little guy begins to stir and I try to motion to Yoongi to keep quiet so not as to wake the baby, but alas my efforts are futile. “You’ll never guess who I ran into at the mall today, Hyung.” Rummaging can be heard as he searches the fridge for a snack. His voice carries and Jungkook begins to blink looking up into my eyes. Drinking the coffee I bought him, Yoongi saunters in and sees how we were obviously trying to nap and stands there awkwardly.
“It’s okay Yoongi-ya. He’s already awake. Now just how much did you buy. I know I let you use my card but this is a bit excessive.” Yoongi at least has the decency to appear sheepish and shuffles his feet.
“Don’t worry Eomma, I didn’t charge up your card. In fact, I bought most of this…” I begin to sit up and unwrap from the blankets as he starts unloading the packages onto the coffee table. Jungkook still grips my sweatshirt but seems less upset. I feel like it is my fault, the poor kid has been through a lot of changes these last few days.
As more and more items appear both Jungkook and I get excited. “Wow, this is the cutest pattern I have ever seen!” He must have just gotten everything they had with it too. My whole apartment will be covered in blue bunny print. Heck, even the new diaper bag is lined in it. Once the bags have been emptied, we begin to organize everything into piles. Clothes, toys, food, diapers, and random cute things. As we do this I explain how the trip to the police station ended traumatically. This whole time Jungkook stays glued to my hip and won’t let me put him down for even a second. Not even the toys could distract him. He must just need the reassurance of love.
We move to the couch after a while, me sitting on one cushion with the baby nestled to my side and Yoongi sprawled on the other explaining his awkward encounter with Hoseok, the boy from his dance class. As the clock strikes 6 and the younger boy jumps up like he was electrocuted. “Hyung, I have to go. Tonight my friend from the mall is coming over to spend the night.” I watch as he once again scrambles to get his shoes on and head towards the door. Sadly before his grand departure, I catch his sleeve.
“What, you think you can leave without a proper goodbye?” He purses his lips but makes his way over nonetheless. Giving a sloppy goodbye he hugs me and boops Jungkook’s nose. The door clicks shut and without prompt Jungkook waves at the door. “Oh look at you? A smart boy aren’t you? How about I give you a bath, with new pajamas I’m sure you will feel even better huh?” Happy babbles gurgle past his lips as I give him Eskimo kisses down the hall towards the kitchen.
While at the store Yoongi bought baby soap and this flower thing that was supposed to sit in the sink so that the baby doesn’t slide around. When he opened it we were surprised to find a pink one inside, apparently, the girl talked him into this kind because it was one of the safest systems, but failed to mention it was for girls. Personally, I thought it was adorable. I have never bathed a baby before so I just try my best and place it in the sink side near the faucet. Next comes the difficult part, take the clothes off of said baby. I set him on the counter laying down so I can wriggle his pants and socks off. Getting the onesie and diaper off was easier as it was just a couple of snaps and tabs.
Watching him play in the water and bubbles is probably the cutest thing I have ever seen. I snatch my polaroid camera from the counter and catch him mid-giggle. Too soon the washing is through and the water runs cool. I wrap Jungkook up in one of the cotton towels my mother bought me while traveling abroad. Then I dry him off and put him in a footed sleepsuit with little crescent moons decorating the dark blue fleece. I even go so far as to fluff up his fuzzy head of hair making him look silly. Once again the little guy looks sleepy and probably is as he had to handle a lot today including an interrupted nap. Taking him to my bedroom I lay him down and side up beside him so that he can lull into sleep. Because of his state, it doesn’t take long.
I take advantage of his sound sleeping to get a bit more organized. Starting with the hardest I try to find places in my pantry for the cans of formula and little jars of starter baby solid foods. Next, I take the old diaper bag and remove all its contents across the kitchen table, from this location I can see and hear Jungkook should something happen. Switching and adding items I begin to set up the new stylish bag. Yoongi picked a sturdy one made of brown leather, mature outside but baby inside. Little blue bunnies smile up at me as I stuff a few more diapers into the spacious cavern.
In my quick assessment of the contents of the pink bag, I had not seen a folded group of papers fall to the ground. If not for a pacifier trying to get away I wouldn’t have seen it near my chair. Unfolding the literature it seems to be a handwritten letter. I hastily scan the note to see what it could possibly mean and tear up at its message. Ms. Jeon was a young girl not ready for such a responsibility and headed to the states for an opportunity to find herself. She left little Jungkook with me because she felt my heart was in the right place to give him a loving home. The air seems to leave my lungs and I all but collapse into the wooden chair beside me.
Traveling to the states? Me being the only choice for the young boy? My head and heart swim with all the implications of this letter. Before I can even begin to process these revelations, Jungkook must have felt my absence because he begins to whine. I stumble to his side and scoop him up cradling the tiny child to my wide embrace. Am I really the only one who loves him enough to stay? No father and now no mother, how can a college student such as myself really be the best fit?
Chapter 4: Good Boy
“Yoongi hyung! Wake up already I’m hungry.” My eyes slowly open and I am greeted by the boxy smile of Taehyung.
“Off off, you’re heavy,” I mumble snuggling closer to the kitten pillow nestled next to my head. This only causes him to hop up and down nearly toppling both of us off the tiny twin bed. Finally giving up I sit up and rub my eyes trying to enter the waking realm. “Time time, Taehyunggie?”
“The sun has been awake a long time Yoonie. It’s nearly nine!” At his words, I shuffle off the bed and land with my socked feet on the plush carpet. “Let’s make pancakes Yoonie, Daddy taught me how.” My eyes simply follow the other little with curious blinking.
“No cook, hot hot.” I try to warn my excitable friend. He simply waves me off and begins to bustle around the kitchen. The dorm quickly warms as the sights and sounds of pancake making begin. Being somewhat helpful I set out toppings and plates so we can eat like big boys. “Taehyunggie, help help?” I ask as he begins to flip the pancakes like an eomma.
“No Yoonie, why don’t you get dressed in that outfit I made you? I really want to see you all cute.” I can’t help but giggle. I look down at the frumpy tee and sweatpants I wore to bed and head to the bathroom to change. Last night we played toys well into the night and so I didn’t get to try his gift on. So with renewed vigor, I pull the pretty cornflower blue knit sweater, scattered with indigo gems across the sleeves and chest in varying sizes, over my fluffy bedhead. The little shorts that come with it are the same indigo color and just cover my thighs. Taehyung cuts it close every time. I am about to leave when something falls from the box to the tiled floor. Confusion furrows my brow as I pick up a bedazzled pair of cat ears. Not one to pass up a chance to wear a cute accessory I slide them into place on my head.
The reflection looking back at me is the quintessential ‘little’. Soft looking clothing and a small grin. This is the real Yoongi, quiet and little, not the gruff no-nonsense facade I wear during the day. He is a part of me, but little me is who I want to be. “Yoonie, breakfast is ready!” With one last parting glance I smile a gummy smile and head towards the smell of pancakes wafting through the kitchen.
We dine on our breakfast quite messily. Orange juice and syrup dots scatter the table. Big Yoongi won’t like having to clean the mess but little Taehyung and Yoongi are having too much fun to care. As I scoop another spoonful of strawberries into my mouth the key code to my dorm room beeps to life. Only one other person knows my passcode, Jinnie eomma has come to play.
Taehyung looks startled as Seokjin pushes through the door like he owns the place. “Yoongi-ya, I need to talk to you. I smell food, did you cook?” I don’t have time to process the implications of Jin coming at such a time. My small mind is just so happy to see him and Jungkookie.
“Eomma!” I call and jump up from my present seat to smush myself to the side not already occupied by a baby. Words slip passed my lips without consequence in happy syllables, “I can’t cook Eomma! Funny funny. Taehyunggie make pancake. He my friend. He stay all night. We played many toys.” Jin looks at me unsure, but a smile decorates his plush lips. I notice his eyes take in my new clothing. “Blue blue, you like?”
I finally let the man go and twirl so that he can get the full visual. “Oh Yoongi-ya, you look so cute. What happened to your only wearing black complex?” I giggle and Jungkookie claps his hands together just as jovial. “Oh, look at both my boys being so adorable. Hi, you must be Taehyung. I am Kim Seokjin, Yoongi’s friend from way back, and this little guy is Jungkook, my pseudo son.” I watch as Taeyunggie stands up becoming big Tae.
He smooths his clothing of wrinkles and extends his hand towards Jin in a very grown-up manner. “Hello, hyung. I am in fact, Kim Taehyung. I have known Hyung for a little bit and am so glad to finally meet the infamous Jin. Pseudo son? He is a cutie.” My two worlds collide as friends from both sides of Yoongi shake hands. Oddly, the two get along easily and I am left standing there feeling lonely. It is at this moment the sniffles begin. Yoonie hates to be left alone, so the tears begin to make their trek down my cheeks.
Jin must really have a good sense of emotions because the tears have barely passed my nose and he tries to console me. “Oh, Yoongi-ya what’s the matter. Did Eomma not give you enough love? Here let’s sit at the table and you can finish your breakfast.” I nod my head and shuffle along as he sweeps us into the small kitchen with a table adjacent. With the baby still on hip, he makes sure both Taehyung and I are seated. “I’m sorry boys for interrupting your meal. I am just so used to getting up early that I assumed Yoongi would be ready. How could I forget you are my little sleepy head.”
The rest of the morning passes quickly as Eomma Jin easily converses with us and we even get Jungkookie to eat pieces of banana. I got to feed him as Jin held him at the table. The sound of a cell phone ringing to life catches the mismatched group off guard. Taehyung skips over to his bag and answers the phone just in time. “Daddy…” he answers and nods along as the conversation continues. Quickly enough he ends the call and rushes to gather his belongings. “Daddy called, he says that playtime is over and he wants me home. Yoonie thank you for letting me come over.” Looking at Jin his tone changes as he once again becomes big. “Thank you as well, Hyung. Could you walk me out, my ride should be here soon.” I watch as Jin nods his head and passes an unsure baby to my arms.
The two guys gather Taehyung’s backpack and duffle, making their way across the living room to the door. “Yoongi-ya, I will be right back. You and Jungkook be good, no trouble right.”
“Yoonie, good good.”
“Yes, good good.”
It seems to be taking Jin a long time so I take Jungkookie to my bedroom so he can see my bed of plushies. “Look, this one is Meow Meow and this one is…” Being a good host I show him my bed and even my closet full of little things. We are currently seated in said closet playing with a set of soft blocks when Jin comes in hands on his hips.
“Okay boys, playtime is over. Let’s go to my apartment and we can watch cartoons on the big screen.” I bounce in excitement. Big screen? That’s right Eomma has that big t.v., maybe we can even get ice cream. Jin picks up Jungkook from my lap and I quickly stand to follow him to my bed. “Yoongi-ya, can you pack a bag? I think Jungkook would like you to be at home with us for the next few days. I think you have clothes because you half live at my apartment, but uh… I’m not sure you would find them adequate for you at the present.” I process Eomma’s words and blink up at him.
“Yoonie wants to help help, baby. He can’t fix mind, so he try to be good for Eomma.” I quickly grab my backpack and black leather bag. My backpack always has things for when I go to Jinnie’s home, but my black bag is for little Yoongi. I put in things that make me happy when in this space, like my blankie and paci, then some clothes. It doesn’t take me long to pack and Jin simply watches me bustle about a pensive look across his face. “Y...yoonie ready.”
Leaving the dorm proves difficult as I still wear the outfit from Tae and we have to walk across the lobby in order to leave. In order to preserve status in my building, I slip on a pair of jeans over my shorts then get swallowed up by Jin’s long padded coat. Without further adieu, the baby gang sets foot towards the bus stop. Once standing at the bus sign the vehicle is quick to approach us. However, before we can set foot on the public transportation, Jungkookie begins to go wild. He cries loudly and starts climbing up Jin’s body to hide in his neck. Little Yoongi is so scared that big Yoongi quickly calls to action.
“Hyung, we need to let this bus continue on. I will call us a cab you go sit on the bench under the oak and calm him.” My normal scruffy voice startles Jin but he listens nonetheless. I approach the bus and call up to the driver. “Sorry sir, you can head on. We apologize for the inconvenience.” The grumpy man simply grunts and the door shuts with a hiss and the bus rumbles on to collect whoever waits at the next stop. Placing a call to the taxi service the kind lady estimates that a car will collect us within 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, Jin seems to have calmed the young Jeon. Seeing such distress from the small human snapped me out of small space and I am ready to set things straight with my closest friend. I walk a short distance and sit next to the picturesque pair. “Hyung, the taxi should be here soon, how is he?”
“Oh Yoongi, I don’t know what is going on. I hate to see him so upset, but no matter what I do there is something awry. Maybe I’m not a good fit for Jungkook, but I can’t bear to just hand him off to someone else. Plus, I don’t understand what you are feeling. You seemed different earlier, but know you are just fine. Am I losing my mind or have I always been this clueless.” Jin cradles the baby closer and has such a stricken expression that I put my arms around him in an attempt to comfort both of them.
“Jin, you are doing the best you can, given present circumstances. A lot has been thrown your way in the last week. I even feel the stress and it is only second-hand exposure. That’s why I was acting the way I was earlier. I will explain everything when we get home, let’s just get our things and we’ll put Jungkook down for a nap so we can talk.” Just as the words leave my lips a beep from the street catches our attention. “Oh that’s us, let’s go Hyung.”
The ride to his apartment is spent in a comfortable silence not forced but needed as we collect our thoughts. I know Jin is an accepting person, heck back in junior year when I came out to him he was so happy for me that he nearly threw a party. Being a little is very different, but I have always had these tendencies it’s just more focused now. Telling Jin was not what I was afraid of, it was the reality that went with it. I would finally be coming to terms with Little Yoongi, someone I have tried to suppress time and time again.
Sadly, this confession comes at a time when Jin needs big Yoongi more than ever. Jungkook came into our lives for a reason and while with us it is our responsibility to give him a cohesive home. I just hope that along the way, little Yoongi can be a good boy.
Chapter 5: Love Heals Us
As Yoongi unlocks the apartment a gentle scent of lavender comes to greet us. It helps to calm my racing mind. Going through the motions I put the diaper bag across the couch cushion and take the coat off Jungkook so that he isn’t swallowed up by the navy padding. It is reaching midday so little eyes become droopy in preparation for his daily nap. I let Yoongi set up his room and head towards the now permanent nest I used to call a bed. By now we know the routine and I place him on his back and give him his newfound obsession, the little blue bunny paci. I only let him have it to sleep because I don’t want him to become dependent, but after a rough encounter at the bus stop I can’t help but indulge him. “Sleep now, Jungkookie. Jinnie will be here don’t you worry.” I run my finger gently up and down his forehead to the tip of his nose and it’s a losing battle. I laugh as his breathing evens and he is out like a light.
I make sure to place the body pillow close on the side I usually occupy so that he doesn’t feel an empty presence. The distinct whirring of the kettle alerts me to the whereabouts of my now seemingly normal companion. “Yoongi-ya?” The boy turns but simply waves me away gesturing to the dining table just a bit away from him. I take the hint and sit, as I wait I can’t help the nervous tick and bounce my leg up and down. Yoongi gives me an apprehensive look as he places green tea in front of me and a black coffee before himself. My bouncing leg immediately stops and we give each other awkward smiles.
We both try to explain ourselves at once and laughter breaks the tension, finally allowing us to fall into our comfortable relationship. I gesture for him to continue as I am still trying to recover from the duration of the morning. It is not every day you see the tough as nails Yoongi seated before you sparkly kitten ears adorning his black mane and small frame nestled into a sweater that is just as sparkly and childlike. “Hyung, I have some explaining to do.” I can’t help the scoff and roll of my eyes at the understatement of the century. He scowls but continues seriously, “This morning I was, in fact, acting differently than you usually see me. Taehyung and I both were in something called little space. It’s where one reverts to this childlike state of mind and wants to be treated as such. I know it sounds weird, I never meant for it to go this far. I just…” I can see a kaleidoscope of emotions flicker across his face finally settling on one seemingly of remorse.
Seeing the strong boy before me begin to crumble, I reach out and clasp his hands within mine. “Yoongi…” My soft tone is what finally breaks whatever barrier that held him back from truly feeling, and tears rush down his full cheeks. Gathering strength for both of us I wipe at his tears and cup his face. “I want you to listen to me Min Yoongi,” he sniffles and nods his head just barely.
“I, Kim Seokjin, love you. You hear me? We have been best friends since before we even knew what that truly means. I loved you when you went through a rainbow of hair dye in high school. I loved you when you got those tattoos your parents still haven’t forgiven me for. I loved you when you chose the music program instead of being a business major like everyone thought. I love you when little kitty ears decorate your head. We are family and that means every part of who you are is loved by me, even that grumpy guy who likes to say ‘fuck’ as an answer to everything.” Little giggles erupt from him and a gummy smile emerges as I sit back in my seat.
“I lov...love you too Hyung. I know I don’t say it enough, but I really mean it. I was scared to tell you about being a little because even I don’t understand what it means for me. It began as a regression when I was super stressed. I would hole up in my room and cry not understanding why I was feeling the way I do. Then I accidentally met Tae, I was buying a gift for my young aunt’s new baby, and he asked me if I was shopping for myself. I didn’t understand, he had assumed I was a little and was explaining how he had been one for some time. Things just kinda spiraled after that. It was two weeks later I got my third tattoo.” I look at him confused, I only knew about the ones decorating his thigh and forearm. Sighing the younger boy stands up and pulls his top off baring his back to my widening eyes. Decorating the expanse of milky white is a brightly colored kitten inked on his left shoulder blade. “I don’t know what possessed me to get this one, I think it was my mind trying to get me to fully accept ‘little’ Yoongi. If it’s inked on my skin then it really can’t be pushed away so easily.” I run my hand across the purple and back around to the little cat.
“Wow, even your rebellion is adorable.” He roughly pulls his sweater back into place and sits, a pout smudged across rosy lips. I laugh at the display of grumpy Yoongi. “You know I mean no harm, I rather like this part of you. I have always been worried about you, you presented this emotionally constipated rebel to the world and only on rare occasions showed me what you really feel. I know growing up as you did was hard and I admire your ability to rise against the odds. I want you to understand that this is a safe place. If little Yoongi needs some love then you are welcome here any time. I mean if you feel comfortable enough to be around me when you are little.” I see a heavy weight finally release from his shoulders, and he sips at his coffee.
Following suit I sip at my now cool tea and await his response. After almost downing most of his coffee he gives me his usual coy smile. “Thank you, Hyung. I actually hate being in that dorm by myself when I regress. That’s why when Tae was there I did it after months of just getting along. This whole debacle with Jungkook has made little Yoongi jealous…” Small chuckles decorate the kitchen and he sits back arms crossed behind his head. “I even overbought for him because I know I could never do so for myself. Speaking of the midget, I was really worried about him today at the bus stop. It’s actually the reason I was able to leave little space and think logically again. Jungkook really has been through it rough hasn’t he.” Yoongi’s words make me look in the direction of the sleeping baby, still dreaming peacefully.
Without prompt a single tear rolls down my cheek and I wipe it away shocked. Despite Yoongi’s shoulders finally unburdened, mine though so broad feel like collapsing under the weight. “Hyung?” He sits up and blinks his kitten like eyes up at me and I turn back to him and breathe in deeply trying to calm myself.
“Jungkookie has been through so much, and like I said at that stupid tree. I can’t seem to make things right. I want more than anything to give him the home he needs, maybe it just isn’t with me. I’m a student right now with classes and exams, how am I supposed to care for him when I have such a crazy schedule. I don’t want to be just another person who abandons him. I felt his tiny heart race when that nurse came back with him and again at the bus stop, his little fists clutching at me like I was the only one who could save him. My heart aches for him, seeing him so upset. I have studied child psychology as part of my pathway and know that he trusts me as his caretaker. I can’t and won’t ruin the bond forged, no matter that it came to be in so little a window.” A knowing look passes across Yoongi’s thoughtful face. “I am the only one he has Yoongi-ya. I usually have the answers, but I am so lost right now.”
I stand up and bring my cup to the sink busying myself in the kitchen like I usually do when stressed. One can only clean a single teacup for so long. Yoongi comes to stand beside me at the counter putting an arm around my waist in an uncharacteristic show of affection. I take it willingly and rest my chin atop his black treses. “Things will work out Hyung. I can see how much Jungkook means to you. Hell, he means a lot to me as well. Classes shouldn’t be a problem, we have only one class that overlaps because we share it. Otherwise, I can watch him when you have class and obviously he’ll be with you when you don’t have class. My dorm as you have seen can accommodate the little guy easily. You go back to see Officer Hyuk at the end of the week right? Then you can hopefully get an answer. Don’t stress Eomma, just as you have been here for me I will be here for you.” I can’t help but smile at his sweet words. The stress has been barely manageable these last few days, but together we will try to make it.
The apartment is shrouded in a comfortable silence as we lounge in the living room. I am sitting in my overstuffed armchair and Yoongi is sprawled across the couch dozing. “Maybe I should have put you down for naptime too, Yoongi-ya.” After an expressive middle finger is thrown my way I hear a bit of stirring from the bedroom. Being a dutiful Hyung I get up to check on Jungkook. The little boy is wide-eyed and bushy-tailed sucking away on his paci. His little arms reach out for me as soon as I step through the threshold. “Aww, my little Jungkookie. Did you miss me?” I snatch him up and make a big show of giving him little kisses all over his face. Little belly laughs fill the room and said paci falls to the floor. I pick it up and we make our way to the sink. “Uh oh, did we drop our paci? I have to clean it, so no fussing.”
Hearing the coos and soft words Yoongi comes to meet us in the kitchen. “Hello midget, did you sleep well?” I finish washing the paci while Yoongi talks to the baby on my hip. “Hyung does he have one of those clippy things for his pacifier, you know the one that makes it so that they don’t fall to the ground.” I try to rack my brain of all the items that were bought from Kitty Korner, but shake my head as I can’t remember. “Oh well, I’ll order one after practice today. I have to meet that Jung Hoseok for class today. Remind me why I chose dance instead of ceramics or something. He really expects us to be like real dancers or something. I am a music major for a reason, I write to compositions not move to them.”
We have had the same conversation since the beginning of the semester, now six weeks in the mentality has not changed. His counselor is making him take arts credits not from the music major to give him a well-rounded degree. That is how we ended up in the same creative writing class this semester. I was just needing another English credit before I can graduate at the end of the spring semester, which is simply my hands-on experience semester. Luckily for my lethargic friend, in three weeks, we have a week-long holiday. My hope is that by then we will have figured out what to do with Jungkook. I would hate for his first Thanksgiving and Christmas to be in a makeshift home. He deserves to be spoiled and photographed to preserve those special memories.
All three of us sit at the table, Yoongi and I write up schedules for the week so both of us know where to be and when each day. Jungkook sits on the table, his back to my chest as he abuses the poor paci and tries to play with my writing hands. Luckily, my Monday schedule is empty or else today would have been a lot more difficult. For the most part, it seems like we won’t have a problem keeping up with Jungkook, even his nap schedule. The only hiccup is when both of us have class on Thursday for 4 hours. I contemplated just bringing him with me, Kookie is a quiet baby when with me and it would be during most of his nap time so he would be asleep anyway.
However, I am already in deep water with the Professor. I may or may not have fought with her assistant about the score of my second writing assignment. The altercation ended with my grade staying the same and a blemish on the impression I had given the teacher. Not to mention the glares and snubby comments I receive during class from the aforementioned assistant. I guess I have my own Jung Hoseok, but he goes by Mr. Kim. We will cross that bridge when we get to it, hopefully, I can find somewhere to put Jungkook. Too soon the clock strikes five and Yoongi begins to gather his things for class.
“Okay, hyung I will be home around 7 or 8. Maybe I will bring home some Kimchi from that 24-hour campus restaurant, it sounds good for dinner. If you think of anything else just call and I’ll bring it home. Alright, bye midget. Bye Eomma Jin.” I laugh and follow him to the door with Jungkook hugged to my right side.
“Bye Yoongi-ya, don’t get into to much trouble today. Maybe if you were nice he would be easier on you. While you’re gone I’ll probably finish writing up schedules and put them up…” Yoongi gives a parting scowl and trudges towards the on-campus studio, backpack in hand. I lock the door behind him and take us back to the living room. There are plenty of toys for Jungkook to play with but I don’t have a mat for him to play on set up. I think Yoongi bought a floor mat playpen that looks kind of like fencing. It is cute but requires assembly and I can’t really put anything together with a baby on my hip.
With the current dilemma on hand, I think of the wrap thing my cousin had when she had her son. She basically wore her baby and was able to still watch her older kids without putting down the youngest. I sit on the couch placing Jungkook in between my legs and pull up the information for the baby shop Yoongi visited. “Hello, uh yes. I would like to purchase…” My mind gets so occupied with taking care of Jungkook and finishing the call that I don’t pay any attention to the note burning a hole in my sweater on the hall tree. It’s not like I was occupied a good part of the day. Little did I know the implications those three pages had on my life.
Chapter 6: Secret Baby Hugs
“You can’t bring a baby to class, Hyung,” Yoongi says giving me a once over. I am holding Jungkook on my hip and have my backpack upon my shoulders. “One cannot just sneak a baby into a lecture, even if Professor Heo is an old lady she is bound to see a small child on your hip.” Scoffing, I enter his dorm room and swing my backpack onto the oak table and begin to rummage. “Unless you have an invisibility baby blanket I don’t understand what you are doing.”
Not humoring him I continue my search. “Aha, here it is. Ready for spring roll, Jungkookkie?” The little baby babbles in response and I pull the long piece of pink fabric from its confines. “Here hold him, I have to wrap this like…” I trail off in concentration as my friend simply stares on in confusion. Once I have the pink cotton wrap around my waist and on the support of my shoulders, I make grabby hands for Jungkook. He quickly responds and leans towards me knowing that he will get to be close to me once again. With practiced grace, I finish the sling and little blue-clad legs bounce in happiness as his little doe eyes crinkle with the same mirth.
“Damn, you turned the baby into an accessory. If any guy could pull off a pink wrap baby holder then it is you Hyung. Heck, it pretty much matches your jumper, except the obvious side profile and chunky baby legs swinging around.” Again paying my grumpy friend no mind I head to the freezer and grab the little duckie ice pack I left here on Tuesday. Slipping it into the insulated pocket of my backpack next to Jungkook’s milk I once again don my backpack. “Okay, I get it you know what you are doing. Let’s just get to creative writing…” I smirk and follow him out the door.
“Okay, we are here early which is a good thing, let’s just sneak to the back like we always do. I have his paci with me so he should be quiet and eventually fall asleep as we get closer to noon.” We enter the quiet classroom and scamper to the back with not one look in our direction from Professor Heo or Mr. Kim. I carefully sit so not as to jostle Jungkook too much. The height of the desk is perfect and his bottom rests on the cool worn wood. I begin to get my notebook and pencil bag out when Yoongi taps me on my shoulder.
In his hand rests an orange box with a fancy silver signature embossed across the top. I look at him confused and he holds it out towards me and points at Jungkook. I pull the top off and softly gasp at the cute little clip inside. Removing it from its confines I look at its sweet detail. The pacifier clip is the same fabric as most of his things but stitched in silver metallic is Jungkook’s name in a script like font. I look at Yoongi with wide eyes. He smiles and I turn towards him not believing that he bought such a special gift. “Hey, don’t get sappy Hyung. I got tired of picking up his paci every other minute,” he whispers giving me a wink. I take the gift and clip it to Jungkooks yellow onesie placing the paci in said baby’s mouth. I am about to whisper thanks to Yoongi when a cough sounds to gain our attention. Let me guess, Mr. Kim, to ruin the moment.
I notice the pink-clad man enter the classroom along with his small friend Min Yoongi. I always notice when Seokjin enters, there is this aura of positive energy that exudes from his broad frame. I have had this pointless crush on the older guy since freshman year of college when we shared Intro to English, but he didn’t notice me until this semester. We fought over the 85 I gave him on a paper and he glares at me every chance he can and scoffs at my attempts at conversation, not that they’re much as I always get nervous and come across rude.
The two boys head to the back and I shuffle papers to appear busy and not like I was waiting for Seokjin to enter. The only time I see a smile on his face is from afar, just once I would like to be the cause for a grin to cross his plush lips. I head to the lecture podium and glance over Professor Heo’s lesson wondering what the topic is for this section. Whispers begin to start up and I see that Seokjin is the main culprit, it’s not a rule to be quiet until lecture begins it’s just that Seokjin gets carried away and can be heard in his hushed tone as he gets worked up. His pink form is turned to Yoongi so I can’t see his expression, but the other students seem to be giving them odd stares. Deciding to remedy the situation I approach the whispering pair. To be polite I cough to get their attention rather than tapping at a broad shoulder.
I can see the tension shudder through Seokjin and my heart constricts the tiniest bit. Up close I notice a weird scarf thing wrapped around his back and tied at the waist. Is this some fashion statement that I missed the memo on? I am about to ask the two students to quiet down as Mrs. Heo approaches the podium, however, Seokjin slowly turns towards me. At first, I think the man has gone insane and brought a pillow blanket thing to class, but I look closer and two little doe eyes blink up at me. Smiling around a blue sparkle decorated pacifier is a baby attached to Seokjin. I make eye contact with the small child his small legs bouncing lightly and then my eyes slide to the older, widened beyond compare.
“What, never seen a baby before Mr. Kim? I do believe the class is starting so if you would so kindly stop staring I would like to focus.” His expression dares me to cause a scene when nothing has really come to the attention of the Professor about his tag along, son? I look over to Yoongi and see barely concealed mirth sparkle in his eyes and know I have lost any upper hand I had delusions of. There is no one-upping Seokjin.
“Oh, of course, wouldn’t want to be a distraction now, would I. This is a professional environment wouldn’t want any little disruptions. I simply came to inform you that you will need to stay after class for a bit, I need to speak to you about your grade.” Confusion and finally determination cross his eyes as he nods still keeping eye contact. I do a slight bow and return to my station oddly at the back of the classroom not too far from the man wearing a child.
The class begins without a hitch, but I can’t seem to focus on the kind teacher. My eyes always land on the pink swaddled baby. With Jin wrapped up in the lesson, he doesn’t seem to notice which is lucky for me. The child seems to be less than a year old and sleeps with his face pressed to Seokjin’s chest. Having to sit at a desk and work around the baby seated on the edge seems to be second nature. The elder simply moves with practiced ease, the way a mother knows her child like the back of her hand. Could the doe-eyed little boy be in fact Seokjin’s child? How did the nursing major become entangled with a baby, not to mention have to bring him to class? I hope that things are alright at home and Seokjin isn’t shouldering the burden of a child on his own.
The lecture finally wraps up after 3 ½ hours and the students begin to stir as Professor Heo explains the homework and what is expected for next Thursday. I see out of the corner of my eye a little hand pop up into view. The odd site causes me to look over, the rather well-behaved baby seems to have awoken from his nap and demands attention. Seokjin is trying to write down the assignment and the little guy has now wriggled enough to get both hands free. One tiny fist pulls on the collar of Seokjin’s jumper and the other pats at his pursed lips. A small smile blossoms on my face a the sight of such a domestic scene. I do feel bad because Seokjin stops writing and kisses the restless baby’s forehead, giving in to the irresistible charm.
Despite the apparent annoyance between us, I don’t want his grade to suffer so I take my copy of the assignment and plan on giving it to him after class. It even has my lecture notes so maybe it will help him with the mid-term in a week and a half. The Professor didn’t ask to see him after class it was actually me who wanted to clear the air, the baby was just an added concern. Seokjin was capable of getting an A easily, but could the small child jeopardize his chance?
The class has finally come to an end and we survived the lecture just barely. Jungkook was asleep most of the class, but right at the end he woke up and started playing with my mouth. I was trying to get the homework, but he was adamant that I pay attention to him. Who am I to neglect such a cute face. I look at Yoongi and he gives me an exasperated look, “Hyung, I hate this forced creativity. I feel my brain melting.” I laugh at this antics and I see Mr. Kim looking at us from over Yoongi’s shoulder. “Do you want me to take the midget back to the dorm? We could meet there and then you can head to the apartment. I have class in the morning as you know, so it makes sense that I stay here tonight, but I will head over at around two so you can head to your class.” As he discusses the plan I begin to unwrap Jungkook from the sling so he can move around a bit more.
“Okay, Yoongi-ya. I will just keep Jungkook with me though, you know how he gets. Not that he doesn’t like you, I just don’t think he will understand me not being there. Ugh, I feel the glare of Mr. Kim so I should probably go see what I have done now.” Yoongi nods and gathers his backpack, putting it on his shoulder. I place mine on the desk and shove the pink wrap into the pocket of my backpack. Seeing me mess with the pockets of my bag Jungkook starts pulling on the black material. “Is someone hungry? Okay, let me get your bottle.” I quickly open the insulated pouch pulling the bunny decorated bottle and handing it to the small hands ready to accept it. I finish gathering my things and follow Yoongi to the front of the hall.
Mr. Kim gives us an odd look as the baby rests on my left hip sucking away at the banana milk I bought him to start getting away from just formula. I just continue on my way to the front, giving Yoongi a parting glance as he makes his escape. The teacher’s assistant waves me over to a table off to the side where a folder rests in his hands. Taking my time I walk over to him and place my unoccupied hand on my hip, giving the boy a stern look. “Okay, you called me over for my grade? I thought we had already discussed the paper.” A sigh escapes the taller boy and his expression falls. I look at him confused as he fiddles with the red folder in his hands looking down at the floor.
I feel kind of bad about speaking so harshly and open my mouth to remedy the situation. Before I can speak, Jungkook pulls the bottle from his mouth and reaches chubby arms towards the sullen Mr. Kim. Both of us look at each other in perplexed wide-eyed stares. Mr. Kim doesn’t move and just looks at the child desperately trying to get his attention. I step forward as Jungkook nearly falls from my arms trying to reach the awkward man.
“Jungkookkie, do you want hugs? Jinnie can give you all you need.” I take him from my hip and hold him under the arms in front of me looking him in the eye. The small boy simply babbles and I place him on the opposite him to give my side a reprieve. However, he is closer to Mr. Kim now and bops his arm with the bottle making it dribble on his jacket. I quickly move away and pat at the spot, “Mr. Kim, I’m so sorry. I really am, he never acts like this.” Already making a fool of myself I just keep speaking, “I also want to apologize for my behavior during this semester. I want to start over, we are adults and I should act like one.”
A wide smile emerges on the English major’s face showing a pair of dimples that leave me breathless. It seems to have affected Jungkook to as he giggles and repeats the hitting of Mr. Kim’s arm. “Oh uh, Seokjin I would like to start over as well.” He stands up straight and extends his hand, “Hello, I am Kim Namjoon. Your baby is cute, can I hold him?” Playing along I shake his hand and my loud laugh bursts around us.
“Call me Namjoon, please.” He hesitantly interrupts me and I can’t help my small smile.
“Namjoon, it suits you more than ‘Mr.Kim’. I am Jin and this is Jungkook my naughty baby who seems to like you. I don’t mind you holding him he seems to be demanding it anyway.” I once again take the headstrong baby and approach Namjoon. He hesitantly reaches his hands out taking him from me and holds the baby to his hip emulating how I held Jungkook. To my surprise, Jungkook immediately puts his bottle to his mouth and rests his head on Namjoon’s shoulder. Our eyes meet and smiles once again break across our faces. The almost domestic moment is ruined when an exclamation of surprise bounces around us. Even the baby startles in the other man’s arms.
“Mr. Kim, when did a baby get in here? You know this is a professional environment. Nothing must go about this room without permission from me first.” Professor Heo marches herself over in glorified waddles and eyes the three of us. I am sure we all have the found guilty look embossed across our faces. After a second of intense staring, she drops her hands from her hips and smiles up at us. “I’m kidding, Mr. Kim. I love babies, makes me miss my grandchildren when they were this squishy.” She tries to reach toward Jungkook, but he recoils slightly towards Namjoon and she takes her hand back in retaliation. Ah, there’s the usual cautious child. I really am surprised how easily he took to the Professor’s assistant.
I step forward towards Jungkook and he seems to calm down. “I’m sorry Professor Heo, he is actually mine. I don’t have anywhere to take him so he tagged along for class today, and maybe until further notice. Namjoon was just holding him.” The older woman gives our trio a calculating look and I feel the boy next to me tense up. I look at him and he has Jungkook in an almost protective embrace, not to mention the baby clutching his jacket lapel with one tiny fist and the other wrapped around the bottle in his mouth.
“Oh, the baby was here during class? I didn’t even notice. I don’t mind him being in here, you are a good student so I feel like it shouldn’t be a problem. I understand having trouble finding a sitter so as long as you can keep up in class then the little tyke can attend too. Okay, boys I actually have to me across campus right now so I trust you can lock up Mr. Kim?” He nods his affirmative and the eccentric woman bids us adieu.
Now that it is just the two of us and Jungkook, the air becomes awkward once again. “I guess we should be heading out too. I have to meet Yoongi at the dorms to get my diaper bag and today’s homework.” At my words, Namjoon’s face brightens up, and he thrusts the red folder in my direction, adjusting Jungkook in his arms.
“Oh hyung, I already wrote it down for you. I noticed you struggling after class and wanted to give you my copy of the notes, so you could study. I actually asked to see you after class because I wanted to tell you I am willing to help you study for the midterm. Not like you need the help, but I thought I could clear the air between us. I was wrong about the grade thing anyway, Mrs. Heo gave the final grade on it, not me.” A red blush has consumed the quiet boy and I take the folder placing it into my bag. “Here is your baby, I’m sorry you almost got in trouble because I was holding him…” He tries to pry said baby from his side, but stubbornness once again prevails.
“Oh Namjoon, thank you. I really appreciate this. I might just take you up on that study offer, with the baby I don’t see myself getting any quality studying getting done before that Mid-term. I’ll take him from you, honestly, he is never this clingy with strangers.” I finally have Jungkook returned to my arms. We give gawky goodbyes and he writes down his number on the notes to hopefully meet up within this next week.
The cool fall sun warms our faces as Jungkook and I make our way across campus to the dorms. I try to understand what just took place in the span of 30 minutes after class. I made amends with Namjoon, got scolded by the Professor, allowed to bring the baby to class, and given notes that may or may not have an attractive boy’s phone number scrawled across the top. I hadn’t had a decent conversation with the boy but one moment with Jungkook and we laugh like good friends. I look down at the little guy in question and he happily sucks away at his paci having finished his milk during the awkward exchange.
Maybe Yoongi was right, things will all come together. This morning I was so worried that I would have to leave class because of Jungkook, but there was no way I was going to just drop him anywhere. I was placed in this baby’s life for a reason, whether for a season or forever I know we will impact one another indefinitely. The dorm begins to come into view and I hum the rest of the walk feeling happiness settle my conflicted heart.
Chapter 7: A Little Modern
It's no joke! During the month of April I will update twice a week in celebration of my birthday. Thank you for reading A Boy Named Kookie, I hope to see you Wednesday.
It is weird waking up in the dorm, the box-like space is so quiet. At Jin’s apartment, there is always the warmth of noise whether his incessant humming, little coos from Jungkook, or the soft trills of the television. My room is pretty standard in terms of decoration, adding personal touches requires too much work. I simply eat, sleep, and sometimes study in the sanctioned accommodation. The only part of the dorm that reflects any inkling of personality is my bed and the rather large closet that takes up the westward wall. My closet is the haven for little Yoongi, plush, toys, clothing, and other little space necessities overflow its confines. The room I use at Jin’s apartment has the most decoration and that’s because Jin insisted that I make the space mine. It wasn’t until recently that, that included little Yoongi.
Yesterday was borderline stressful, what with trying to sneak a six-month-old child into a college class and pretend he wasn’t there. I still haven’t gotten the full story from Jin but apparently, he was able to work it out with the Professor so that Jungkook could stay with Jin as long as he stayed focused during class. Jin came by and we ate some pizza I had ordered and then took Jungkook home so they could do their regular nightly routine. I didn’t really want to stay in the lonely dorm, god knows little me didn’t, but since class begins at 10 today I decided it made more sense to sleep here than commute so early.
Speaking of class, my phones alerts me that it is 9:30 so I grab my workout bag and the rest of my scattered belongings heading to the door. I only have to walk two buildings over to reach the dance studio, but I like to get there early and snatch up a spot in the back row. The class isn’t even a real class, it is some intro to modern dance where we flop around and assume people can see the deep meaning despite looking intoxicated. Most of the class entails learning how to portray emotion through movement so the instructor, the insufferable Jung Hoseok, gives us music to make a story to with our bodies. I, Min Yoongi, barely know how to speak feelings let alone move my arms to tell you my lover has left me to some harp piece. This is why I head to the back so said instructor cannot see me fail miserably. Most of the time he leaves me alone, but after I told him where he can put his ‘leaf’ like hand movements he makes sure to make his way over to my corner and critique.
The trek takes a little over 10 minutes so I head to the open studio and place my things where I usually do and stand doing minimal stretches so that I appear willing. My facade quickly gets caught as when Hoseok enters at the front of the room he zeros in on my frumpy form. He makes a come here motion and I simply pretend I didn’t see him and reach towards my water bottle. Thinking I bypassed an awkward encounter and drinking the cool liquid, I never saw the shadow side up beside mine. So when I spin around a squeak leaves me. Jung Hoseok stands with his hands clutching at my arms, folded against my chest, trying to steady my toppling form.
“Careful, hyung. Wouldn’t want you falling for me.” A smirk splits his lips and I jerk myself from his grip.
“Let me go!” I hiss.
“Woah, I didn’t mean to overstep my boundaries, I wanted to let you know that I will be in the studio next week for practice sessions. I know you have been struggling, so I wanted to give you a chance to learn without the pressure of a full class. Your first exam is a little over a week from now, just give it some thought.” His mocha colored eyes crinkle and a stupid heart-shaped smile give him an almost understanding expression. His sympathy makes big Yoongi want to punch him, but little Yoongi needs the reassurance of his kind eyes. The two clash and I step back blush coloring my pale complexion.
“I..I’ll think about it, but the class should be starting. Go do your job, dancing boy.” With a parting glance, he spins on his heel and addresses the class starting the stretch routine. I feel like dying, well, more than usual. No matter what I do, I look like a dumbass in front of him. I get a couple stares from surrounding students, but we quickly start toe touches and my focus shifts to actually breathing and not passing out from the exercise. Who said music producers were athletically gifted, oh right, no one.
Three hours later and I lay on the ground my limbs melted from the exertion of trying to keep up with the never tired Hoseok. People begin to get their belongings and step around my starfished form. The cool laminate almost feels refreshing if it weren’t for the sweaty sweatshirt clinging to my torso. Luckily I wore shorts and so my legs receive the air blowing from the rinky fan off to the side of the studio. Deciding to sit up I take the gross sweatshirt off and reveal my black tank top. In the mirror, I can see Hoseok talking to another student so I take my time standing and slinging my bag over my shoulder.
“Ah, Mr. Min the last student, something I never thought I would see. You usually run off before I even dismiss the class.” I just give him a stern look and he guffaws a good-natured laugh meeting me in the center of the room. “Okay… wait are those tattoos?” His eyes widen and an incredulous look scrunches up his face. I immediately feel defensive and stand up straighter. He throws his hands out towards me, “Wait, don’t take that the wrong way. I just didn’t see you like someone to have them, can I see?” Not sure how to proceed I turn my left forearm over to show the black and aquamarine paint splatter design that reminds me of a mix of both Yoongi’s now that I look at it’s soft but harsh curves.
“Oh uh, this is my first one. I got it my junior year despite the wishes of Jin, my mom like best friend.” I still as the dancer runs his fingers across the ink staining the milky white. He looks up at me with an awed expression. Little Yoongi perks his head up at the attention and before I can stop my self I pull the leg of my shorts up so he can see the tattoo on my right thigh. This time the paint like design is slashed in an erratic fashion. The black curved lines look angry yet sad, describing the way I felt hiding the little space from myself and Jin. My mother was an artist before life got in the way and as a way to recapture her, I chose the paint emulated designs. I watch the fascinated boy fight to not trace the second unveiled tattoo. “This is the second tattoo I got my first year of college, as you can see it was a rough time.”
I try to laugh it off but the other boy’s expression is too emotional and I feel the anxiety set in. Before his fingertips can make contact I jolt back dropping the pant leg back into place. “I have to go, Jin needs me to babysit” The words rush past my bitten lips. I turn keeping my emotions barely in check. The door is within reach when his voice calls out.
“No, I can’t waste anymore time.” I don’t even bother to look back at the confused boy. My mind made up. The modern dance guy is going to wreck little Yoongi, so it is up to big Yoongi to keep the boy at a distance. What I’m really afraid of is both of us will let him into our fragile heart and Hoseok will make a mess of the barely together pieces wrecked by childhood abandonment. I can’t bear to allow anyone in other than Jin who has loved me since the beginning, broken and all.
Chapter 8: Rain Washed Reality
I busy myself about the kitchen making lunch as Jungkook finishes his nap. Whenever I feel stressed I always cook because it reminds me of my mother. She always made food if we came home upset and talked to us as we filled our bellies. The savory smell of gimbap wafts across the kitchen as I finish plating the just cut circles. I have been working since late morning, but I couldn’t help making the complicated dish to calm my ever-churning mind. With the food finally finished I put away the dishes in the washer. Yoongi always makes fun of me for being so domestic but growing up so close to my mother it was instilled at an early age.
I think of Jungkook, who will he emulate as he grows older making a life of his own? I know I won’t be in his life forever as he needs to be with a real family, but a small part of me hopes that I’ll leave an impression on the young boy. Looking past the counter through to the living room I smile as I see the playmat set up scattered with plush and toys. I can’t imagine the apartment without the baby’s things thrown about. A bottle here, a blanket there. It has only been a week since Jungkook was literally placed in my care, but it feels like it’s been forever. Tomorrow we go to the station to meet with Officer Hyuk and see what progress has been made with Ms. Jeon.
As soon as the thought passes through my mind I lurch forward towards the hall tree. The note I found in the diaper bag lays wrinkled and forgotten in the pocket of my green sweater. The other day I went to tell Yoongi about the ominous letter, but things spiraled into a whole new realm. I met little Yoongi for the first time and it never crossed my mind again. Turning to look at the oven clock I see that Yoongi’s class should be over and decide to call him. The phone barely rings twice when a breathless Yoongi picks up. Before he can speak I rapidly utter, “You are coming, right? I just remembered what I needed to tell you Monday, his mother left a note in the diaper bag. I didn’t see it as we were unorganized, and then other things occupied my mind. Try to get here as soon as you can.” He gives an affirmative and I drop the phone to the couch and head to the kitchen for gimbap to eat until Yoongi comes home.
When Yoongi finally lets himself into the apartment half the gimbap is gone and Jungkook has woken up from his nap. We reside in the living room, I on the couch and Jungkook in the playpen sitting closest to me playing with a bunny the size of himself. “I’m sorry Hyung it took me so long I had to grab something from the store.” The smaller boy whips out a package of ramen and pack of beer. I look at him incredulously, we can’t drink with a child to watch. “Oh Hyung, we’ll need this trust me. If not tonight then tomorrow.” He continues and puts the beverages in the fridge coming back with a piece of gimbap in hand. “Hey midget, alright let’s see this note.”
I scoot over and let him sit before thrusting the literature into his hand. Seeing Yoongi, Jungkook gets whiny so I stand and stoop over the fence like enclosure picking him up. I once again perch upon the plush cushions with the child nestled in my arms. The music major’s face portrays a range of emotions as he reads the letter. It is only after he finishes that his eyes meet mine. What surprises me the most is the tears glittering in his eyes as he puts the letter on the arm of the couch and reaches for Jungkook. I willingly offer the child towards his awaiting arms watching as Yoongi hugs the baby to his chest a saddened look furrowing his brow.
“Yoongi-ya, what do we do now?” It takes a moment before he looks at me again. Determination colors his eyes mixing with the sadness making him appear ready to take on anyone or anything. I reach forward and clasp my hand on his leg beside my own realizing why he is taking the letter so hard. “I promise that I will do everything in my power to keep what happened to you from happening to Jungkook.” My words must have been the catalyst because suddenly I am looking into the eyes of little Yoongi.
“Eomma, Yoonie loves Kookie. Eomma and Yoonie are Kookie family now. Baby can stay long time. No go, no go. Kookie has happy here.” His pleading tone makes my heart even sadder. Not only are we gambling with the life of a child, but that of our own. Jungkook has affected both of our lives. I take said child and put him back in my lap so Yoongi can lay his head on my shoulder needing the same affection as Jungkook.
“It’s okay Yoonie, I will love both of you boys for a long time. I will never leave because we are a family.” When the words permeate the air I realize their truth. In the span of a week, we have become a mismatched family. I make dinners and stay home when Yoongi has class, he helps shop and watches Jungkook when I go to college. The same determination I saw in Yoongi’s eyes has settled in my heart. Tomorrow at the station I will give the note to Mr. Hyuk and let him know that I assume responsibility for Jungkook.
“Hello Seokjin and little Jeon, it is so nice to see you in good spirits.” Officer Hyuk greets us but has no idea the great lengths I have gone to keep Jungkook from having a fit about seeing this place once again. I once again wear him in the pink sling and have the paci from Yoongi pinned to his shirt and bobbing away in the baby’s mouth. “Please follow me this way, we will just speak in the lounge from the other day. I nod and follow the portly man to the calm sitting area and sit in the red overstuffed chair as I did before. In my seated position it places Jungkook in my lap and his little face within eye level smiling up at me. Officer Hyuk sits across from us and assumes a smile at the way we must look all bundled together.
“Officer, before you tell me if you received any information from the mom I think you should see this. I found it in the diaper bag earlier this week, but only remembered yesterday as things have been so topsy turvy.” I pull the folded papers from my pocket and pass them to the now serious man. He looks them over and shuffles while looking at me in a calculating fashion. Finally, he folds them back and looks a little forlorn. Before he can speak I beat him to it. “Mr. Hyuk, I know that the note says she entrusted me with his care. I want you to know that I will accept the full responsibility of Jungkook. Within the last few days, I have come to the realization that I can be the guardian of him just as she intended. I am 24 years old, attend college, maintain a steady income, and want nothing more than what’s best for him. If I have to prove with the Child Protective Bureau that I have adequate accommodation and ability to raise a child then you will not find a more willing man.” As I speak a sort of knowing sadness accumulates upon his face.
As I spoke Jungkook wriggled his hand free from the sling and began to play with the silver piercings decorating my ear. I look down at him and kiss his forehead earning a little giggle in response from around the bunny decorated paci. The clearing of a throat brings me back to the conversation at hand. “Son, I really wished you had brought this letter sooner. It could be too late, a home may have been found for the boy with his maternal grandparents.” The air leaves my lungs and I can barely process his words.
“B...but… how,” I stutter.
“In our attempt to reach the mother we were in communication with her parents and told them the situation at hand. They are wanting to take the baby off your hands and raise him as their own. I knew that you wanted him to be with his blood relatives, so I told them you were willing to cooperate. I had no idea that things would present themselves as it is. They will be traveling from Busan to Seoul next week to get the process rolling. Speaking of the legalities the child should go to his next of kin, however, the mother wrote a document explicitly giving you ‘custody’.” I can’t help but shake my head at his words that wreck the careful happy world I’d built with the child in my arms.
“So they arrive next week, does that mean I have to say goodbye then? Must they come so soon?” The kind old man nods seeing my composed outward appearance begin to crumble and show the cracks from beneath. I close my eyes to try and get my emotions in check. “Officer Hyuk, I want what is best for Jungkook, even if that means saying goodbye. If things continue as they are, will I at least get to visit him after his grandparents take custody?” His brow quirks in concentration.
“As of yet, they are simply coming up to be present as the case continues on. Being next of kin means they should be taking care of little Jeon and so they would have to take custody of him as soon as possible. I don’t know if it will be goodbye or if you will be able to visit the child. It’s all up to his grandparents.” My head nods, but my heart screams. I love Jungkook more than anything so with a heavy heart I accept that his happy home may not be my quaint apartment.
With the dump of information upon my shoulders, there is not much else to discuss other than the plan concerning Jungkook’s custody. The elder Jeon parents will arrive in the middle of next week and want to see the baby just as quickly. I tell the officer that I can have the baby’s things packed and ready by then so they can get him adjusted without issue. I bow to Officer Hyuk, “Thank you, sir, I appreciate you personally overseeing the case. Please keep me posted so that I may make things as smooth possible for my little guy.” I can’t help but see the sad glint to his smile as he waves goodbye the letter that could have changed everything folded in his palm.
The walk home is somber and even Jungkook can feel the change in the air as he clutches closer to my chest. Seeing his doe eyes blink up at me with trust and as much love as he can understand makes tears spring to my own eyes. Too soon the apartment door comes into focus and I know on the other side is Yoongi waiting for good news about Jungkook and his mother. I unlock the door and walk into the living room beginning to undo the sling. Just as I finish, my pseudo roommate pops up and wraps his arms around my waist. “Hyung, you and Jungkook are home finally. I have been anxiously waiting for you guys. Heck, I even ordered chicken which you know I only splurge on when stressed.” He lets go and comes to face me looking up seeing the upset expression pursing my lips. “Hyung? Everything is okay right?”
I can’t begin to explain the news delivered at the station so I simply slip past him and put Jungkook in the playpen to move around. Turning back to the perplexed boy I call to him, “Yoongi-ya open that beer. You were right about needing it.” Still unsure he heads towards the kitchen. I make my spot on the couch and watch as Jungkook plays his toys. It’s funny how just last night things were eerily similar except tonight an impending anguish colors the air. Soon the pitter patter of rain knocks against the bay window almost like mother nature feels the same turmoil within her heart. A single tear treks down my cheek, but I quickly wipe it away as Yoongi enters bottles clinking in hand.
Chapter 9: Pacified Impressions
The trill shrieking of Jungkook echoes throughout the apartment and I am beginning to feel like joining in. The atmosphere has been that of somber attitude since Jin came home Saturday. We ended up drinking away the night and sleeping altogether in Jin’s bed with Jungkook nestled between us knowing that moments like those were soon to end. He couldn’t tell me the whole story that night, but as we fumbled towards the kitchen hungover and hungry he finally opened up as the coffee steamed between us. Tomorrow our little guest would be making his leave, the Jeon grandparents are taking custody of the six-month-old. I have had a hard time dealing with the news, little Yoongi chipping away at my conscious. However, Jin is taking it harder than anyone, his eyes lack their usual mirth and his shoulders sag in defeat.
I try to keep Jungkook distracted as he continues to try to get away from my arms in an attempt to find Jin. “Jungkook, Jinnie will be back in a minute.” That brings me back to the current issue, every time Jungkook is even a foot away from Jin he begins this sorrowful wail and only calms down once Jin has him in his embrace. I believe that Jungkook can sense the impending separation and is coping in is own way just as we are. Finally, the bathroom door opens, Jin steps out freshly showered and the baby’s wails simmer down to a gentle cry. “See, Kookie! Jinnie is back now.” The aforementioned man steps close and relieves my tired arms of the reaching child.
“Thank you, Yoongi. I feel better now. I am off today and have to finish packing…” His voice cracks and this is the first time I see the older man begin to crumble. He has always been this pillar of strength in times when I break easily, it hurts me to see him so torn up about separating our mismatched family. Clearing his throat he blinks his eyes back to mine, “Yoongi-ya you have practice today right? I don’t want you behind, you know Hoseok won’t take too kindly to you missing practice again.” I try to open my mouth to argue but he simply pushes on my shoulder turning me towards my room. “Aish, I am not taking no for an answer. I have plenty to do here so you get your self in gear or else Yoongi-ya.” The little part of me immediately took action, but the big part wanted to tell him that he has no jurisdiction over me, however, given present circumstances I go change into my sweats.
With the weather getting warmer I simply don a short sleeve and a pair of joggers. Jin has put Jungkook in the pink sling and attempts to pull the clothing from the chest of drawers where we folded all of the baby’s things neatly. I guess he was right, I can’t bear to watch the apartment slowly morph back into the simple home it was before it softened with Jungkook’s belongings. My bag is by the entry hall and I slip the backpack onto my thin shoulders heading towards Jin to say goodbye.
“Eomma, I mean Hyung? I am leaving for practice and will probably be back before dark. You are going to be okay here, right?” The tall man straightens up and brings me in for a hug, no words pass between us because I know he won’t really be okay but sometimes being alone helps the pain. I stretch up on my tippy toes and kiss his cheek, then lower to kiss Jungkook’s forehead. Before I fully cross the threshold I turn and call, “Yoonie love you guys.” Parting smiles decorate our faces probably the last time for a while.
The late afternoon sun lights my way as I walk from the bus stop towards the dance studio. Hoseok had asked me to attend practice yesterday and today before the midterm check-in takes place next week. I purposely missed yesterday as I couldn’t get big Yoongi to take control and attend the mandatory practice. I know Hoseok won’t understand, but having Jungkook taken away so soon after we got into a steady routine makes me remember the days of my youth. Ones I have buried beneath the surface so that I can forget what shaped the need for little Yoongi.
“Min Yoongi, you have finally decided to grace us with your presence.” A sneer greets me from the blonde boy standing at the front of the room before I can even take my backpack from my shoulders.
“Kyuhyun, don’t forget the reason you are here. Yoongi may I see you in the hall.” I look at Hoseok and see not an angry look, but one of concern. Oh right, last time I saw him I ran out and then missed my practice without any inclination as to why. He leads the way out of the mirrored studio and into the warmly lit hall. “I just want to make sure things are okay, you seemed upset last I saw you. I know I am your instructor, but you can trust me to understand if you need anything. I know you were a no show yesterday, but I will forget that. Just next time please let me know.” I can barely look into his eyes because if I do I that little Yoongi will win, tears already fill my eyes so not trusting my voice, I nod. He looks at me for a long pause but eventually turns acknowledging that I will not speak until I’m ready. I follow him back into the room, head hung in shame.
Without further delay, Hoseok begins the practice. A light base fills the room from the speakers connected to his phone as the three of us begin the arduous task of stretching. My mind begins to calm as I go through the familiar motions and I feel my uptight body relax. I find that in the small more intimate setting I am able to follow his movements easier, the flow of his limbs almost captured by my own. The goal of this class is to be introduced to the dance style not perfect it, so the midterm is simply to see that we can show a mastery of a few basic motions. During the class, I flail about hoping some of it looks similar, but today the movements come easier as I carefully track Hoseok’s body. He was right, coming to these extra practices may very well allow me to at least pass. Kyuhyun however, is not having such luck.
After running through the routine like sequence of motions for almost two hours, a knock at the door startles our peaceful practice. I initially worried that something happened with Jin and he has come to collect me. The thought flees my mind as a 20 something girl from the studio across the hall calls for Hoseok. The young instructor flashes his heart-shaped smile in our direction telling us to take a break until he comes back. I put my hands on my hips and breathe evenly simply waiting as he said. Kyuhyun walks to the water cooler and gulps water like he was stranded in the desert. I give him a funny look as he meets my gaze in the front facing mirrored wall. A smirk smears across his lips as he approaches me in the middle of the room.
“Who do you think you’re lookin’ at boy? Just because you think you can suck up to the teacher doesn’t make up for the fact no one else likes you.” At his words, I stand up straight and channel the tough persona I have worn for the last fifteen years. I meet his eyes just as defiantly showing that his words do not have their desired effect. Seeing that I was not cowering like he hoped he grabs the front of my shirt eyes glowering with rage. “Aww, little Yoongi thinks he can be tough and stand up to me. Listen here you will never be anything you worthless imp. If you think for one moment that Hoseok cares about you, you are mistaken. Who could love a pitiful thing such as you.” I try to pull away from his grasp but he only jerks me closer. By now my adrenaline has reached its peak and I finally get free, my shirt ripping in the process. I close my eyes as my body hits the ground, a loud slap echoing about the room.
“Lisa, the music system seems to work fine in my studio, I need to get back to my class. My students have come here for extra practice, I will come to look at it when they leave…” A loud thud can be heard from the room and I quirk my brow at the barely shut door. A cry then sounds and before Lisa can say anything I burst into the room. The sight before me is one of pitiful proportions. Kyuhyun stands over a whimpering Yoongi, on the floor in fetal position, his fists poised in a vicious manner. I move quickly putting myself in front of Yoongi. “What do you think you are doing? This kind of behavior is unforgivable. You need to leave immediately before I call campus police.”
“Bu...but. I…” The blonde menace is startled by my tone and backs up eventually turning and leaving.
I don’t bother watching the troublemaker leave and I look down at the still cowering Yoongi. His shirt is torn, ripped from the left shoulder exposing his chest. Angry marks kiss his milky skin and at first, I think Kyuhyun had clawed at him as well, but as I step closer my stomach turns as I recognize the scarring of cigarette burns. I kneel on the floor by Yoongi, but he tries to move away from my outstretched hand crying, “Appa, please don’t...they will see the marks.” I gasp and place my hands on his shoulders in an attempt to break him from the horrors gripping his mind. Instead of stopping his crying he looks at me startled and clambers to his hands and knees. Before I can stop him he stumbles to his black bag. By now I am standing as he gives one last watery look and disappears from sight, running from the studio.
I run a shaky hand through my hair and look about the now emptied room. I know that being an instructor means staying professional when it comes to students, but there is nothing that will keep me from uncovering the mystery that is Min Yoongi. Feeling trapped because I can’t help the boy as he runs at any chance of opening up, I growl in frustration. I shouldn’t have left the room, Yoongi looked fragile before we even started, now he looked shattered. From the beginning when I couldn’t help the snarky comments because of how attractive I found him, I knew that he was someone who needed, but didn’t know how to accept, affection. Based on the revelation I saw today, he has a gruesome past that inhibits him. I just wish that I could get through to him and unravel the real Yoongi.
Traipsing to my backpack I search the front pocket for my keys attached to the crowded ring of keychains. I need to head home because I’m too emotionally constipated to continue dancing. When I unzip the black bag instead of feeling the jumble of memorabilia I grasp an embroidered piece of fabric. “What the..” I pull the item in question from its enclosure and bring it into my line of vision. In my hand is a pacifier clip with kittens decorating the fabric that leads to the matching pacifier. Turning the item over not believing my eyes I’m startled to see Yoongi’s name written in black typewriter like fashion. I hear a creak outside the room and I shove the clip back into the bag and sling it across my shoulder. I wanted to speak to Yoongi to get things into perspective and I just found my conversation starter. Who knew the boy with biting remarks was actually a little with a tragic past?
The tears stream down my face and I can barely see as night has fallen. My feet take me to the quad and before I can hightail it to my dorm the campus police step into my line of vision. Little Yoongi has stopped, dear in the headlights at the sight of them quickly approaching and big Yoongi has no control whatsoever. “Hey, there boy. You seem to be in a hurry, and your shirt appears to be ripped, did someone attack you?” The taller of the two, steps closer to me as he speaks and I step back in alarm. “Oh, no worries kid we just want to see that you are safe.” Again he attempts to appear reassuring and places his hand on my shoulder but I jerk way. By now the second officer has approached and watches me carefully.
“No no, I need Eomma…” The words gurgle forward, the clash of syllables barely indistinguishable. I clutch my backpack close to my chest, having fled from the studio so quickly I never had time to put it in place upon my shoulders. My breathing now has become erratic and I feel myself about to bolt. Both men look at me with suspicion, and Yoonie has just made the decision to run when the shorter officer grabs at my bag.
“Boy, do you mind if we search your bag? Just let us have a look then we can let you go home. It is nearing curfew so let’s be swift about it.” The man’s tone has a gruff hint to it and I pull on the straps of the backpack as he tries to pull the front towards himself. “I simply want to conduct a search, if you continue to cause a fuss we will have to take you in.” By now I have lost all control of my little side and begin to play a pseudo-round of tug of war with him repeating ‘Eomma’ over and over again. The sound of sneakers slapping across the concrete skids next to us and I am afraid reinforcements have arrived. My desperation only intensifies.
“Oh, Min Yoongi there you are! I told you I was going to meet you at the dorms. The class ran a little late, I’m sorry.” Our trio freezes as the suave voice of Hoseok glides across our intense encounter. He places his hands over mine on the straps of the backpack and addresses the officers. “You know how it is, you just get so caught up teaching others the passions of your practice and time seems to still. Oh did Yoongi drop his backpack? You guys are so kind, taking time from your duties to assist my clumsy friend.” Without either the officers or I noticing he slipped the bag from the aggressive man’s grasp and held it in his careful hands.
“Uh yes, we’re just help…” The kind officer stutters along, but Hoseok’s sure voice interrupts once again.
“Oh my, it is almost curfew! I need to get you home before we get in trouble. Excuse me Officers’ we must head to student parking before the gate closes! Thank you, again. I appreciate all that you have done for me and my friend.” I can only go with the guiding hand at the small of my back as the dancer boy waves the campus police away, tugging us to the student lot. Once we are out of sight of the confrontational men Hoseok steers us to a red Santa Fe, a little worse for wear, and stops us near the passenger side. “Oh, Yoongi hyung are you okay!?” Before I can process what is happening the younger boy drops our backpacks to the ground and throws his arms around me. Once again the tears begin and sobs wrack my body.
“H...hoseok-ah, I..i sorry.” In my muddled mind, I try to make him understand that I didn’t mean to make such a mess.
“Hush now, let’s get you home. You live off campus right?” I don’t want to leave the warm embrace of Hoseok and clutch to his shirt making us impossibly closer. My tears have finally run dry and my breathing starts to slow. “Oh a cuddler huh, I never took you for one.” The hearty chuckle that reverberates through his chest gives me the strength to finally step back enough to look in his eyes. I must look a pitiful sight, shirt ripped and hanging loose on my thin shoulders, hair wind-tousled, and face blotchy from crying. A small smile still graces Hoseok’s heart-shaped lips and I find myself lost in the warmth conveyed within his mocha eyes.
I look down to grab my backpack that lays on the ground and notice a similar one next to Hoseok’s feet. “Umm, this one is mine right?” A sheepish smile now decorates the dancer’s lips at my words.
“Well, Hyung we may or may not have switched bags. I promise I didn’t look through it just realized that when my keys weren’t in the front pocket it was yours.” A stab of realization pierces my heart. Front pocket? That is where I keep the paci for when I can’t control my emotions with Yoonie. He must see the fear crackle across my features because he once again places his arm around my shoulders. “I didn't look through your things if you’re wondering.” I can see the truth in his eyes and my fear resides. “You need to know that no matter what, I will be here for you. What happened with Kyuhyun will never happen again as long as I am around. No one deserves to be harassed as such, and if anything else like this happens, you come to me.” His tone holds no room for negotiation so I let the tension relax from my shoulders and take my bag from Hoseok’s hand.
We then file into the red car, he opens my door and waits until I hop in to head to the driver’s side. I keep my backpack crushed to my chest as we pull out of student parking. The man in the booth lets us through, but as soon as we cross he closes the gate for the night as curfew has passed. I quietly give Hoseok the directions to Jin’s apartment and we travel in companionable silence otherwise. I catch him looking at me a few times, but instead of acknowledging him I simply stare ahead.
“This is my building…” To my surprise instead of bringing the car to a stop in front of the apartment to let me out, he goes around and searches for a parking spot. “I can go by myself just fine,” I pout. Hoseok just gives me a no-nonsense look I swear is from Jin’s bag of tricks and continues to park. Once the car is stopped I quickly exit the vehicle in an attempt to get away, but he suspects my escape and catches my elbow.
“Just where do you think you are running off to. It is late and you have had a rough night, there is no way I am letting you scamper away again in the dark. Stay by my side, as soon as you get to your door I will leave you alone. What, it’s not like your mom is waiting up for you.” He chuckles as he once again steers me around, little does he know what lies behind the apartment door. My eomma and a very stubborn baby.
The elevator ride to our floor is quiet as I worry about what Jin will do when he sees my state of dress and the boy I have been complaining about for the last few weeks. Sadly, the ride is soon over and we approach Jin’s home in nervous energy. “Okay, Hoseok-ah thank you for bringing me home, I really appreciate…” He must have heard the sound of my voice because before I can save Hoseok, Jin opens the door expression dark and child yawning on his hip.
“Where have you been? It is way after dark, and why is your shirt ripped? Who is that boy, I told you not to just bring random people here Yoongi-ya.” The deluge of words cause little Yoongi to once again make his presence known. I hang my head and begin to sniffle. I immediately see Jin calm and reach a hand towards me. “I’m sorry, we have an early call tomorrow so let’s get you inside. Say goodbye to whoever that is, I’m going to put Jungkook to bed.” The broad man leaves the doorway but watches us until he disappears into his bedroom.
I finally look at Hoseok and he has a weird expression on his face. “I guess this is good night Hoseok-ah. I need to get to bed and you are right, I had an emotional night and feel drained. I’ll see you for class on Friday, hopefully.” A mumbled bye passes his lips and I wave shutting the door as I turn to the living room. Tonight was horrible, I guess it makes sense, for the second time in my life my family was breaking and all I could do was shatter with it.
The door shuts with a hint of finality and I feel the air leave my lungs in a breath I didn’t know I was holding. Who was that man? He obviously knew Yoongi well, but he had a child, Oh right, Jin, Yoongi mentioned him the other day after class. Initially, I thought Yoongi was dating him when the man opened the door giving me a putrid look.
I make my way through the moonlit night to my red car, deep in thought. Practice did not go at all as planned. Kyuhyun attacked Yoongi while I stepped out for the briefest of moments. I know that the blonde has a horribly concealed crush on me, but I had no idea he would harm another student just for being at practice. Seeing Yoongi curled on the floor whimpering in pain, shirt torn from the exchange, I wanted to take on the world. A wave of anger I didn’t think I was capable of surged through me. I mostly calmed when Kyuhyun left, but then I saw the scars of abuse from Yoongi’s father pockmarked across the pale flesh of the boy’s chest and a deep sadness marred my heart.
Growing up my childhood wasn’t the most wholesome, but I learned to stay positive because otherwise, the weight of things would have crushed me. I think of the first time I met Yoongi, a small boy dressed in black, a sinful mouth telling the world his opinions. Was it all a front to protect himself from anyone getting close because of the pain of his childhood? I then think of the defensive boy at the mall, who kindly helped my niece despite not knowing her, to the boy who fumbled in class hoping to just get it over with, and finally said boy’s cat-like eyes full of a sadness not easily shaken. Who is Min Yoongi and why do I want to save him from this destruction?
Luckily the ride home almost calms me, I can’t wait to fall into the comfort of a warm bed, my heavy heart causing me to feel a deep set exhaustion. I don’t know much about the whole paci thing or why he acts the way he does but seeing as Yoongi has coped by being little makes me want to learn more so that I can take care of him.
Chapter 10: Forever Farewell
OMG, i just finished an ECON exam and I am literally dead. Please pray for me that I pass!!!! This class has been such a hassle, like everyone is struggling to stay afloat.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
My phone rings to life announcing the alarm I set to get up this morning at eight. I quickly dismiss the application so not as to wake the sleeping babe. The alarm was not needed in the end for I have been awake all night keeping Jungkook close, his little breaths fanning across my collar bone as I snuggle him to me. He has been so clingy these last few days, not that I blame him I have been just as bad. I know to have his grandparents raise him is in the best interest of Officer Hyuk, but I can’t help and wonder if Jungkook were to be my own. Lord knows I have spoiled and loved him so. Things may be a bit wild, however, everything Yoongi and I have done has been in the mindset of providing the best for the young Jeon.
Not wanting to be late and look irresponsible I stretch and carefully climb off the bed. Luckily the child only stirs and I begin to dress for the day. I want to appear like a professional individual so as to give a good impression of the man who was taking care of their grandson. My attire consists of a camel colored cashmere sweater and nice slacks. I have to don my glasses, my eyes already stinging from the weight of unshed tears. Since I’m dressed I stand by the bed and pick up Jungkook to wake him up. The small boy blinks up at me sleepily and I blow raspberries on his chubby cheeks waking him up with giggles. I pick out a dapper little outfit Yoongi bought, a light blue sweater and matching pants to dress him in. Usually around the apartment or when he is in the sling I keep him in comfortable onesies so he can move around not restricted by difficult clothes. Today though I wanted him to look as cute as possible so they can see the adorable baby I have come to know.
The time nears 8:30 and we finally emerge from my bedroom my phone and the diaper bag in my hand while Jungkook rests on my left hip. Yoongi sits on the couch huddled under a kitten patterned throw sipping a mug of chocolate milk. “Morning, Yoonie.” At my words, he startles a bit and emerges from the hovel and makes his way to me and Jungkook. I can tell that he has fully fallen into little space as he has clipped his paci to an oversized sweater of mine, and little ruffle socks cradle his feet. “Yoonie, I have to go to the station this morning. Can you kiss Kookie goodbye, we might not see him for a while.” Even as I try to soften the blow I can see the damage reflected in his eyes that pierce my own heart. The little shuffles as close as possible and kisses the younger boy on the cheek. I begin to pull away having bent down a bit to accommodate Yoongi’s height when said little makes small whining noises and starts pulling on my sweater. “Yoonie, no pulling. I have to go, trust me I would rather stay and play. Now I am taking Kookie to his grandparents, please be a good boy while I’m gone.”
I have to forcefully pull away from him and attempt to make it to the door. However, fate is not so kind. Just as my hand makes contact with the small pink suitcase, covered in stickers, I feel hands grab at my pant leg. “Eomma no go! Kookie live with you, he stay stay.” Yoongi has taken it upon himself to wrap around my right leg preventing me from leaving the apartment. “Baby no go. Eomma stay stay!” A yowling like cry escapes from the younger boy and I see tears trickle down the blondes face.
“Yoongi-ya, please let go. I can’t deal with you being like this. I know you are upset, but being naughty won’t fix it. I give you two seconds before I have to be mean.” My words make him sniffle and slowly untangle from his viselike grip. He stays seated on the floor paci now rapidly bobbing away and gaze unwavering. “I am leaving now, no more trouble Yoonie. Eomma loves you and I promise to make things right again. Kisses.” Once again I bend down and he kisses a chubby check then mine. I crush him into my embrace along with Jungkook knowing this is the last hug with both of my boys. Stepping away I roll the small case behind me and emerge from the apartment of memories and into the journey of returning my pseudo child.
The cab I had sent for earlier, luckily, still sat waiting on the curb despite my late arrival. Clambering into the back I signal him to forge ahead, Jungkook nestled in my lap with small hands fisted in my sweater. I had gone ahead and placed his paci clip on his shirt in case he needed it, but seeing as it lay limp Jungkook must feel at ease. This only furthers my unease as I know that things will turn topsy turvy for the baby as he moves homes once again. Pushing the thoughts from my mind I snuggle him closer and enjoy the brief calm before the storm.
“Welcome Mr. Kim, please follow me.” A young girl greets me as we enter the station, child and luggage giving an interesting entrance. I follow her as she leads us to a bigger looking office rather than the lounge. Looking in the window I can see why. Mr. and Mrs. Jeon sit stiffly across from Officer Hyuk at the conference style table. Bowing at the girl, I take a deep breath and open the door as she skitters away.
The judging eyes of the grandparents Jeon watch me as I enter the room coming to stand next to Officer Hyuk. “Hello son, this is Mr. and Mrs. Jeon. Sir, ma’am, this is Kim Seokjin. He is the young man who has graciously taken care of baby Jeon as things were being settled.” I smile at the elderly couple and give a small wave. The only response I get is a twitch of the lips from the Misses. Seeing the awkward stares the officer attempts to bring conversation. “Oh my, look at his suitcase. You did acquire quite a bit for him, didn’t you Seokjin.
I can only run with the safe topic of conversation and pull the small luggage onto the table. “Oh yes, my friend you see, bought lots of things for him. We kind of got carried away, but I believed you would like to have a good start on baby necessities, so I packed it all up.” I open the case and display the neatly packed clothes, formula, and other random toys or bottles. Seeing the assortment of colorful things Jungkook leans over and tries to grab at a fluffy bear plush I bought from the campus store when I first started school. It had been in my bed since, but he had taken such a liking to cuddling it when sleeping I decided to part ways. I pluck the plushie from the luggage and hold it towards Jungkook. “Kookie, you want your bear?” He babbles a reply and enthusiastically grabs it from my hand and flops his head onto my chest, paci now at work. I laugh, but quickly stop seeing as the rest of the room seems to still be in intense silence.
I move the case forward and pull a chair close, now sitting eye level with the Jeon’s. Mr. Jeon simply glares ahead not specifically in my direction, but not impressed nonetheless, and Mrs. Jeon has a blank expression decorating her weathered face. I feel a sense of unease settle in the pit of my stomach, do I really want Jungkook to live with such emotionally nonexistent people? Before I can contemplate their ability to love him as I do, the older woman speaks up. “I want to hold my grandson, pass him over boy.” I blink at her harsh tone and slowly call to action.
My response must not have been quick enough because before I can pull Jungkook from my chest Jeon Senior grabs at the baby, pulling him from my grasp with a jerk. “She said she wanted to hold him.” The gruff man passes the baby to Mrs. Jeon and within seconds the paci drops and cries fill the room. Jungkook seems to go berserk within her arms, pushing away and reaching out towards me. My heart breaks and I can only watch as the little boy gets more upset by the minute. A scowl fills Mr. Jeon’s face and he reaches over to put the pacifier in Jungkook’s mouth. “Hush boy, we are your family now.” The baby doesn’t take too kindly to the pacifier shoved in his mouth but sucks away. The older woman continues to struggle with him wiggling in her arms and finally settles for holding him where he is facing me. Upon making eye contact he calms a bit but reaches his chubby hands towards my stooped figure.
“So Mr. and Mrs. Jeon, you are the guardians of Jeon Jungkook, seeing as his mother is your daughter and is unable to care for the child. Official paperwork still has to be filed so that the arrangement has legal backing. The official documentation should take 24 to 48 hours to process.” The kind man continues to explain the process and what it takes for the legalities to process. I am beginning to get lost and Jungkook is still fighting his grandmother. Again ignoring the tense atmosphere Officer Hyuk continues to conduct the meeting. “Due to Jeon Soo-Min giving the young Jeon into the care of Mr. Kim, who is a trustworthy young man, we were fortunate to get the child to his blood relation guardians. There is not much else we can do in terms of finishing the process and so I think it best you take Jungkook with you and begin to get him used to his new home.” At his words I startle, is it really time to say goodbye? I feel like the whole exchange was moving so quickly.
Officer Hyuk stands and so do I, the Jeon’s soon join us. I begin to zip up the small suitcase and set it back on the ground so that Mr. Jeon can take it without pause. He gives me a sideward glance, muttering under his breath, “What man has pink luggage, no grandson of mine will grow up to be a freak like that. Stickers all over it, like a teenage girl..” I pretend not to hear, but inreality, I feel each word like an arrow ripping through my positive exterior.
Our mixed company begins to move towards the door leading to the separation of our families. I can’t stop myself and blurt, “Will I get visit him? I mean, maybe on holidays or something. I don’t want to intrude, but I have grown to really care about Jungkookie.” Mrs. Jeon finally turns and barely acknowledges me. Looking at the youngest Jeon I notice he is still trying to worm his way out of her hold and it only worsens as I step closer.
She moves away, a sneer like smile on her lips, “I don’t know if that is in the best interest of the child. He has already been through so much. I don’t think coming around and playing father would fair well for him. It might be best that this is goodbye.” I nod suddenly feeling small. I try to reach out and hold him, but she simply stiffens.
Forgoing personal space, I lean over and kiss him on the forehead. “Jungkook, you might not realize it, but you have made me a very lucky man. In just two weeks you showed me that love can come in many forms. I love you Kookie. Yoonie loves you too, and I wish he could have said goodbye as well.” I look down into his doe eyes and feel mine fill with tears. One more kiss and I step away before I disregard legalities and take him back home. My heart breaks as he begins his pitiful wails as the elderly couple walks to the lobby. I can’t bear to watch them leave with my Jungkookkie. My hand instinctively reaches out and I feel it fall as the trio makes it around the corner out of sight.
Once I can no longer see the Jeon’s in the hall I finally crumble. Days of unshed tears and pent up anxiety finally bubble to the surface. A loud crash can be heard as I fall to my knees having hit one of the chairs on my decent. My vision blurs and my glasses fall to the floor as I wipe furiously at the salty burden of tears. I can still hear the cries of Jungkook and I know that letting him go so easily is the biggest mistake of my life.
So yeah, that just happened....
Please don't hate me,
I promise that things will get better!
Chapter 11: Sippy Cup Sadness
sorry for the short chapter, I just felt it needed to flow as such
As the door clicks shut behind Jin, I feel a sense of dread wash over me. The hopeless thoughts begin to swirl around my mind, and Yoonie doesn’t know how to handle the onslaught of emotions so fat drops spill down my cheeks. I shuffle back to the couch and wrap up in the quilt Tae had given me for my birthday, it was plush and covered in kittens just what I needed for comfort. My heart can’t seem to understand why Jungkook has to be taken away. Jin has been the happiest I have seen him in almost two years. The midget really did bring warmth to us and even the apartment. Everything baby had been packed up, well except for my stash, all but for the playpen. It would have been too difficult to pack the large item up and so Jin decided it would be easier to just take care of it when he gets back. Now I find myself looking at it and wondering if I could sit in it.
I shake my head and look at the forgotten cup of milk on the coffee table. I am going to need something stronger in order to make it through the day. With paci in mouth and quilt around shoulder, I shuffle towards the kitchen. Jin always has alcohol hidden around for emergencies and I have deemed my emotional storm a state of emergency. I look in the cupboard by the fridge and come up empty, he must have moved it higher because of our recent houseguest. No problem, I have some hidden of my own. Making my way to the fake fern resting in a tangerine-colored vase on the tv hutch, I pull the leafy plastic imposter from its confines to reveal a mostly full bottle of malt whiskey.
I pluck the bottle out of the vase and carry it to the couch along with a sippy cup I stole from the ones bought for Jungkook. Setting both incriminating items before me I contemplate just how I got to this point. My small frame shrouded in mint colored material of a stolen sweater, legs bare except for my boxers, paci clipped to said sweater dangling uselessly, and alcohol sat before me, I have hit rock bottom this very morning. I can’t help but laugh at the pitiful sight. Why does everything have to crumble at once? Jin is losing his source of happiness, I can’t seem to crawl out of my pit of emotions, and Hoseok has seen my deepest kept secret: Yoonie. Deciding that enough is enough I reach for the alcohol and take its cap off and open the sippy cup just as nonchalant. Without adequately thinking through my actions I slosh the malt whiskey into the sunshine patterned cup and cap both containers as I look at the mess made.
With sippy cup in hand, I gather both myself and blanket to clamber over to the playpen. I take a long swig from the sippy cup and throw caution into the wind stepping over the fence and making myself comfortable within its confines. The padded bottom and random plush scattered about making the space a perfect place to drink away the pain and pass out comfortably. With the sun shining brightly through the bay window I once again bring the cup to my lips.
Chapter 12: In My Feelings
Officer Hyuk tried to console me with kind words and smiles, but I couldn’t look at him without feeling anger gurgle forward. Despite tear tracks and messed emotions, I pull myself together enough to leave the station with a semblance of dignity. The whole ordeal was not even three hours, so I find myself shielding my eyes from the noon sun. I don’t want to head home, seeing Yoongi upset and the apartment devoid of little coos, just makes me depressed. Instead of being responsible and comforting both myself and Yoonie, a bar down the street catches my eye. For the second time in a week, I want to get wasted. I, Kim Seokjin, never drink. The feeling of not being in control doesn’t seem appealing. However, with a sober mind right now I am in just as much control of my feelings as when I am under the influence.
Deciding that it is normal for a 24-year-old man to drink it up every once in a while. I cross the street and make my way to the shadier part of the business district. A bell rings as I enter the soju haven. Due to it being early in the day only a few patrons mill about eating ramen and gimbap. Ignoring the stares I make my way to a lonely table for two. Before I can perch fully on the stool a grumpy older looking man approaches. “What will it be, kid? You better have money cause I ain’t wasting business on a cheap kid.” I smirk and pull 20,000 won wadded from my wallet and throw it down to the worn wooden surface. He squints at me but nods as I order two bottles of soju.
I can’t help but think about Jungkook, I mean he has occupied my waking hours for the last two weeks. I just want the best for him, even if it means breaking my heart in the process. An unsettling feeling blooms across my conscious as I recall my encounter with the Jeon’s. The cold stares and almost robotic composure makes me worried about Jungkook’s new home. His mother must have had a reason for not having him raised by her parents, why else would she have given the baby to me on a bus of all places.
The man returns placing the cold bottles in front of me, I smile in thanks as he returns to the bar. Twisting the cap off quickly, I down a good portion before slamming the bottle back down to the table. I sit back and watch as drops of condensation run down the glass, mirroring the tears that I shed as Jungkook left in the arms of his grandmother, wails echoing on repeat in my mind. My tears have now dried and a hollow pit has replaced my aching heart. How could I have let things end like this, Jungkook taken by his uptight grandparents, Yoongi trapped in little space alone, and me numbing the pain with cheap drinks.
Knocking back another swig of soju I begin to feel the effects of the alcohol on my brain. The first bottle is quick to go, but as I begin the second I start to sway. The bartender looks at me funny, but I can only bat my eyelashes and throw a hand kiss his way. The grumpy man scowls and goes back to wiping the counter. By now I can’t even recall what brought me to this point in time. Looking around, the small establishment seems to be quickly filling as the afternoon marches on. My phone buzzes, but I ignore whoever’s trying to get ahold of me. In doing so I catch a glimpse of the time and the digits flash 1:30 before the device makes its way back into my pocket.
Having finished the first and most of the way through the second bottle I call said bartender over. “I’m gonna need another round. It’s been a rough few days, man. You get it?” I swipe my hand across his shoulder and he harshly shoves my inebriated form back towards the table.
“Look here boy, I will bring you one more. Once you down that, get out. I don’t want some drunk making a fool of himself.” His words roll off my shoulders and I simply blow yet another kiss while giggling. The man leaves as fast as he can and barely returns long enough to balance the soju in front of me. Having been refreshed with a new one I quickly chugged the rest of the second bottle causing a coughing fit to ensue. I have always been a terrible drinker, all through high school Yoongi would laugh at my inability to hold my alcohol. Yoongi? Why does my heart skip a beat when he crosses my mind? Not being able to recall why I twist the cap on the new soju and play with the empty one laying beside it.
Again my phone begins to ring and I pull it from my slacks pocket. The call ends by the time I focus on the screen, but when I do a picture of myself and a smiling baby pops up. Baby? Oh yeah, Jungkookie! What am I doing here, I need to get home and take care of him. Without much thought, I tip back the bottle taking a final swig before dropping 22,000 won on the counter towards the unsmiling bartender. He frowns in my direction but takes the money nonetheless. I stumble towards the door and burst into the cooling afternoon sun. Looking around I realize that the bar wasn’t too far from the apartment, maybe a 10-minute walk. Trying to appear stable I walk near the shops so not as to wobble about in the way of the quick-paced passerby. Several people give me stares but I simply smile and keep on my way.
I make it to the complex after having difficulty crossing the street. The damage was minimal, just a few curses from frustrated men and women. I take the elevator up and pray that I can pull it together enough to take care of Jungkook. Once the doors open I stumble off but stop in my tracks as a figure already stands before my apartment. Unless Yoongi got a growth spurt I don’t recognize the trenchcoat-clad figure. “Hey, buddy whatcha doin at my door?” At my words, the man turns and I am shocked to see Mr. Kim smiling down at me. “Oh, someone lookin like you can come to my door anytime,” I slur. Confusion mars his expression, so I step forward and wrap my arms around his lanky frame. “Hmm, you even smell nice Joonie…” My tipsy mind loves the feeling of the calm strength that surrounds him. However, the moment quickly ends when he moves away to hold me at arms length.
“Hyung? Are you drunk?” His brow quirks as he takes in my frumpled figure. My coat hangs oddly and my sweater is bunched from the sprawled position I sat in at the soju place. “Let’s get you inside, water and rest will do you some good.” Why is he treating me like a child? Frustrated I twist from his hold and roll my eyes.
“No fun you are, Joonie!” Taking my keys from my pocket I unlock the door and wave him in with a wink. He follows, though reluctantly. Making my way to the kitchen at an angle I misjudge the table and slam right into the corner. I stumble from the impact and due to my inebriated state, my tall frame crashes to the linoleum. The world becomes blurry as beautiful wide eyes swim across my fading vision.
As Seokjin begins to fall I rush forward, but he hits the ground in a jumbled heap. I drop down next to him and gather his upper half into my lap. His eyes blink rapidly and I attempt to get him to respond. “Hyung! Please wake up!” My words must have roused him enough to stay conscious because he mumbles something about a baby. Oh right, Jungkook his cute little boy. I look around and see a playpen with a good sized lump within its confines. Okay, the child seems to be fine, but why did Seokjin come home drunk? I never took him for someone to behave in such a manner. Speaking of, the older man shifts in my lap and nuzzles close to my side. “Hyung, you have to get up. I will get you something for your head, but in the meantime let’s get you to the table. A pout crosses Seokjin’s lips, but he ultimately gets up and I help him into a chair at the dining table.
“Uh, I feel like I was hit by a train..” Seokjin groans holding his head and laying across the cool surface of the table. “Joonie? What are you doing here? I need to check on Kookie.” With jerky movements, I watch as he pushes away from his seat and heads to a bedroom on the left. I follow to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself again, when I enter the room Seokjin falls to his knees, sobs racking his broad frame. “H..he’s gone… Everything is gone. How could I let this happen?” The man’s words are torn from his body and cradle us in a morose air. Coming to kneel beside him I put my arms around his shoulders, he sniffles and lays his head upon my chest. “I thought he was still here. I shouldn’t have drunk away the day, it only numbs the pain for so long. Yoongi needs me and I need me to be strong now that Jungkook is gone.” A deep sigh leaves him, as do the tears and we sit together in a gentle quiet both in our own minds.
Once Seokjin had gathered enough strength we made our way back to the kitchen. Now as we sit, hot tea steaming between us, I get a good look at him. His glasses are smudged and his sweater lays in odd wrinkles, and a puffy red decorates his eyes. I see reflected there a broken man trying his best to get it back together. Questions swirl around my head, but I refrain from pestering him with their inquiry. A sleepy look crosses Seokjin’s face and a yawn escapes him. I smile at his cute expression and attempt to hide his obvious exhaustion. “I am sorry Namjoon, you came here and it has been nothing but hectic. I want you to know that I am not normally so all over the place. Recent events have made me act out. I appreciate you being here though, I don’t know how, but I appreciate it.” A smile now decorates the man’s lips.
“Oh, I came over because we talked about meeting up to study. Tomorrow is the Midterm so I figured you might want to review. Hoseok, one of my friends, said he knew where to find you so I decided to come here. I knew you might have trouble with the baby so I didn’t want to inconvenience you by meeting elsewhere.” At my mention of Jungkook, a quiet gasp leaves his mouth, and I immediately feel guilty for touching on a sore topic. Seokjin simply nods and another yawn erupts between us. “Seokjin Hyung? You should probably go rest, you have had a rough go of it. I will just make my way home so you can rest.” I begin to get up, however, he grabs my wrist stilling my movements. I look at him confused. I know last time we made amends, but it is weird for him to be so open with me.
“Wait, I don’t want you to leave…” He looks at me so earnestly I can’t help but sit back down. “You’re right though I should get some rest, and you probably have plans tonight. I don’t want to be a bother any longer. I want to thank you for helping me, I still feel a little off, but much better.” Seokjin smiles his award-winning smile and I feel any resolve I have crack. Maybe I could…
“What if I stayed?” The words tumble past my lips before I could stop them. He looks just as surprised as I feel. “I mean… I brought the papers that need to be graded with me and I make a mean hangover soup. You could get some rest and I could run things. If that’s not imposing, I mean.” I duck my head in embarrassment and soon the apartment is filled with barely concealed laughter. Looking up I see his eyes filled with mirth and not snark.
“Oh Namjoon, I haven’t had hangover soup since I was a high schooler. My mom was so upset with Yoongi and me. Ahh, you are very kind. My apartment is open to you anytime, I wouldn’t mind you staying. In fact, it would be nice to have someone here. I am not feeling up to par and I haven’t seen Yoongi since this morning.” We both share a smile and stand from the table, I grab my briefcase and he makes his way to the bedroom. Just as he enters the room he turns, “Thank you again, anything here is open to you. I trust you, so please wake me whenever dinner is ready or if you need to leave. If Yoongi comes home just tell him that I was feeling sick so I called you over. I don’t want him to know that I was stupid and got drunk on soju.” I wave him off and once again settle in at the table.
I am two-thirds of the way through my first stack of Composition I’s essays when I hear movement from the living room. I look towards Seokjin’s room, but he is still tangled in the sheets. Paying no attention I continue grading the pesky papers. Just as I put away those graded and move to a new stack I hear a quiet groan. Again I look towards Seokjin’s room but he is still sleeping like the dead. With careful movements I rise from the table, the living room looks just as unbothered as before, but my eyes zero in on the playpen. Before I can come any closer a ruffled head pops up.
Shrouded in a blanket, a blonde boy with a serious case of bed head and paci in mouth, narrows his eyes at me. I make eye contact with him and he looks panicked. Thinking he is unsure of a stranger I coo, “Hello. I am just making dinner for Seokjin hyung. Who are you, little guy?” Again a worried look passes over his features. I approach and make my way to the couch, it is not too far from the playpen, but a reasonable enough distance that I don’t seem intimidating. Sitting down I recognize a bottle of liquor on the coffee table. Where did this come from? I am still looking at the glass container when a sleep-ridden voice grits out an answer.
“That’s mine.” I look at the boy now sans paci and grumpy. “I am Yoonie and you are not welcome here.” His gruff words startle me and he seems to be angry at my presence. Being this close I start to recognize the boy sitting amongst pillows. Min Yoongi, the boy in black who could cut glass with his words. I gasp at the realization and he sits up looking at me. “Where’s Eomma, you no belong here.” Just staring at him I notice makes him upset as he blows out air and puts the paci back in climbing over the small enclosure. I only watch as the grumpy boy shuffles to Seokjin’s room. I look around for a semblance of an answer and come up empty-handed. Deciding that things would make sense eventually, I head to the kitchen in search of ingredients. A missing baby and a grumpy little? A lot more is going on than Seokjin is letting on. I don’t know if hangover soup can fix this mess.
Why is the teacher man sitting in the living room? He shouldn’t be here at the apartment, Jin probably knows, but I need to be sure. I tiptoe to Eomma’s room to see if he has in fact returned from the station. I don’t even know what time it is, after passing out from the effects of the whiskey I hadn’t looked at my phone. I’m pretty sure it is still in the playpen, but I don’t want to go back in there with the teacher man walking about. I slowly enter the bedroom and see that Eomma is fast asleep, his limbs sprawled about and little snores leaving his parted lips. He looks so peaceful that I decide not to interrupt him as lately sleep has been elusive for the older man.
The teacher man is bustling around the kitchen as I leave Jin’s room. I try to quietly make my way towards the playpen to retrieve my phone when the tall man approaches. “Yoonie, is hyung still sleeping?” I scowl as the teacher man tries to coax me into acknowledging him. Moving past him I continue on my path and once again situate myself within comfy confines. Not realizing my silence means to go away, he lumbers after me and stands to look down at me. “I am going to ask again. Is hyung still asleep, Yoonie? I am here to help and I can’t do that if you’re being difficult.” His no-nonsense tone stops me from sticking my tongue out at the younger man. I am taken back by his dominating presence and feel myself begin to slump, giving into the obviously in control adult.
“Eomma, sleep sleep. Yoonie no want trouble. Yoonie will listen to teacher man.” At my quiet tone, his features soften and he nods his head. I am surprised that he doesn’t question Yoonie but simply goes along as though he isn’t my professor’s assistant who knows big Yoongi. “You have eat?” I ask the unfamiliar man.
“Yes, I am making dinner. Do you want a snack? I saw some cookies earlier if you want them.” At the mention of food, my stomach growls and I scramble to get up. He holds a hand out to help steady my toppling form and I shyly put my smaller hand in his as I step over the enclosure. “Follow me, my name is Namjoon by the way, but you can call me whatever makes you comfortable.” I simply nod and head to the kitchen behind his long stride. He heads towards one of the cupboards and I sit on the counter where I always do when Eomma makes coffee in the mornings. The man, Namjoon, turns with a little pink bowl full of animal shaped cookies and I gladly accept them. “Do you want a drink?” I nod once again and begin to munch on the yummy snack as he walks to the living room, but before I can remember what I had done, Joonie returns with my orange cup.
His face scrunches as the stench of alcohol emits from the sippy cup as he twists the lid off. Without commenting he simply rinses the cup but reaches for a different one to give me. No words exchange as he digs in the refrigerator and finds the apple juice to pour into the new cup. “Joonie, you nice. Did Eomma bring you here?” I look up at him as he turns and hands me the filled cup. He simply goes back to the arrangement of foods he has set about the counter next to my right hip to begin what I assume is dinner.
As he begins to chop vegetables he once again strikes up a conversation. “I came to help Jin hyung study for the Midterm tomorrow. He happened to arrive at the same time I did and asked if I could stay awhile to help with dinner as he wasn’t feeling well. It seems both you boys had a rough day, right Yoonie?” I nod my head quickly as he gives me a reassuring smile. “I was surprised to see you Yoonie. Hyung said you might be home later, but you were here all along.” He sets down the knife and looks into my eyes which I quickly turn away from. “If you need to talk about anything I am here to listen, I know that I am not super close to you or Hyung, but I would like to be, at least to the best of my abilities.” His calm strength brings peace of mind to my whirlwind emotions. A mess of tears rush forward to my lashes, but I try to blink them away.
“Yoonie is sad, Joonie. His friend had to go bye bye and Yoonie doesn’t think he will come back. You came at an unhappy time. Eomma cries too. You bring happy, a little bit.” I hop off the counter and give the teacher man a side hug. He chuckles but returns the embrace nonetheless. “You gave Yoonie a snack so you can’t be bad guy. Yoonie still not sure about teacher man. But you make Eomma sad, Yoongi will make sure you pay.” I let go and shuffle over to the kitchen table with snack in hand so I can watch the tall figure make dinner. He expertly moves about like he is in his element, kind of like Eomma. I remember looking at a similar scene except boisterous laughter and a baby sling decorated the moment, not a somewhat tipsy little and an unfamiliar teacher man.
Remembering the soft pink sling I think of Jungkook. Since waking I have tried to push the thoughts of the small companion from my mind or the tears will begin again. Watching Eomma leave with the baby this morning and leaving me all alone left a heart-wrenching feeling in my chest. I know that Kookie needs to be with his family, but what was wrong with ours. Eomma loved him so much and I did too. These last two weeks had been good for Eomma, he was lively and bustling about a smile upon his lips. He usually has a smile gracing his face, but not all reach his eyes like those shared with Kookie. He has a hard time expressing it but Eomma has a lot of unhappiness too. I didn’t see those thoughts even when we were unsure as to what was going to happen with the baby, instead, he focused on taking care of Kookie. A brightness had overtaken both the apartment and us at the addition of the small boy.
Everything seemed to hit the fan when Saturday passed. The warm glow dimmed and the sadness returned to Eomma. The policeman had told Eomma that Kookie’s grandparents were to raise the small boy. Having to give away Kookie after bonding so intensely with him tore up the Kim-Min household. I have been Yoonie for several days now especially after the dance practice from hell. Hoseok saw Yoonie for the smallest of moments, but that doesn’t matter because my already crumbling safe place demolished when the door locked this morning.
Just as dark thoughts begin to creep back into the edges of my conscious a shuffle sounds from the direction of the bedrooms. I look up and see a very disheveled Eomma heading to the chair across from mine. “Yoongi-ya, how are you faring? I’m sorry for not checking in. I, um, was unwell and needed a rest.” The freshly awoken man seems to still have a sadness clouding his eyes, but the circles prevalent from the last few nights seem to have faded. As he sits I hop out of my chair and throw my arms around him. Yoonie needs the attention and Jin needs the affection. “Oh Yoonie, you have no idea how much your love means to me. Promise you will never leave…” A choked sound leaves the emotional man and the floodgates open as his tears rush past his sorrowful eyes. I can’t help but feel myself crumple with him.
“Hyung? I thought I heard your voice. Oh, I’m sorry...um.” Joonie had strolled to the dining area, but now stands awkwardly looking at the blue colored scene. I feel Eomma stiffen in my embrace so I uncurl from around his broad frame. The teacher man shuffles a bit more and begins to turn back to the kitchen but Eomma stops him.
“Namjoon-ah, thank you for staying. I appreciate you being here as I obviously can’t. Yoonie didn’t give you any trouble did he?” At the mention of my name I huff and tap my bare foot against the plush carpet that begins the separation of living room and kitchen. Joonie wears a goofy grin and approaches the table with measured steps, well somewhat measured because as soon as he makes contact with my abandoned chair his foot catches and he topples forward. Before he can right himself Eomma has stood up and grasps his shoulders with practiced grace. I watch as a smile blooms upon plush lips and I narrow my eyes in scrutiny. “Are we going to make a habit of falling around each other?” Eomma asks with mirth brightening his eyes. Laughter erupts from the pair and I can’t help feeling awkward standing by as they flirt. It is good to see a burst of happiness from Jin, but I still feel blindsided by the events that transpired this week.
Finally noticing that they have been staring into one another's eyes a touch too long, the two tall men break apart. I roll my eyes and take my sippy cup with me as I make my way to my haven, the playpen. Jin gives me a surprised look, but I simply wave him off and settle back into the pillowy palace.
Blinking my eyes up toward the person who prodded at my shoulder I growl in warning. “Oh Yoonie, don’t be like that. I just wanted to let you know that dinner is ready.” Jin stoops over the fence-like perimeter and removes the blanket that I was huddled under. Now that my senses have awakened I can smell the savory aroma of homemade soup filling the apartment. I begin to quickly unwrap myself from the blankets and hop over the outer edge to stand beside Jin. He laughs at my antics but puts his arm around my shoulder and guides me to the delicious smelling kitchen.
As we approach the table, the teacher man rounds the corner with pot in hand. He carefully sets the heated pot down on the trivet and displaces his oven mitts beside it. Jin and I take our seats at the table as Namjoon bustles about bringing the ladle and bowls to set the table. I watch as he begins to fill the bowls with soup but he pauses as he turns to look at me. “Yoonie, will you eat this? I made hangover soup. I can get you some if you want, but I can always get you something else.” The teacher man looks at me hesitantly once again, as though he isn’t sure how to approach me. Instead of speaking I simply point at the pot and nod. Namjoon smiles and continues the task at hand.
“Namjoon-ah, I can’t thank you enough for making such a nice meal for us. It smells delicious and Yoongi and I are excited to see your culinary expertise.” Jin gives his award-winning smile and by the blush that attacks the teacher man then it has definitely hit its mark. I used to tell Jin that his smile was as poisonous as cupid’s arrow. Now Namjoon fumbles a bit but manages to pass out the filled ceramics without fault.
Soon our trio eats away and comfortable silence blossoms in between the slurps of eating. I have gotten a good amount eaten by the time Jin has finished his first bowl. You wouldn’t be able to tell by his frame, but man can that boy eat. He stands and fills his bowl once again and the teacher man seems pleased by the fact. The amount of sappiness permeating the air makes me want to choke, but I continue to sip away at the much-needed comfort food instead.
After waking from my nap I feel better, like more of myself than earlier. I still feel like Yoonie, but a bit more like Yoongi. I still feel the sadness clinging to my heart, but seeing the happiness radiate from the teacher man and even from Jin makes it a little less noticeable. Before I even realize the soup is gone and the table begins to clear. I look up at Jin as he takes my empty bowl and uses a napkin to wipe at my face. “Eomma, no… I can do it myself.” He laughs as he takes the cloth from my lips and puts his hands on his hips.
“Yoongi-ya, you are a silly boy. Go put a movie on, we will join you in a bit.” He gives me a warm look and so I push away from the table and run to the entertainment center. We haven’t gotten to watch a movie in forever and so I make a mess of disks across the carpet. I can hear the clank and splash of washing dishes from the kitchen as I shuffle through the movies. I like the sights and sounds of such domestic things. It makes me wish things were like this every day. I finally pick one of the few cartoons that survived the last DVD purge. By the time the title screen is blinking across the tv both Jin and Namjoon walk into the living room. They go ahead and sit on the couch and I crawl over to sit in front them. Bright colors and music burst across the screen and I am immediately engrossed in the film. Yoonie loves to watch movies and especially with other people. Midway through I snuggle close to Jin’s legs and he smiles down at me playing with the messy strands of my blonde hair.
“Eomma, that was a good movie. Watch again?” I sit up and turn to get a nod of confirmation, but before me is a sight of almost every drama I have been forced to watch. Namjoon has his head against the back of the couch and an arm around a just as passed out Jin curled to his side. If not for the open-mouthed snores of the teacher man then it would have been perfect. I giggle to myself and get the afghan from the side of the couch and drape it over the sleeping men. Waking them would probably be the best seeing as Namjoon probably needs to head home, but the domestic air surrounding them makes me ache for the pseudo-family we could have had with Jungkook. Instead of being responsible I restart the movie, a little quieter this time, and make myself comfortable in my nest within the playpen. Within a few short hours, it has become a somewhat crib for little Yoonie, one that Yoongi can’t help but enjoy as well. A smile graces my lips as I lay my head to rest, the stars giving the dark apartment a soft glow.
***Now it's that time in the program where I shamelessly plug myself...
If you haven't already please follow me on Twitter @og_yoonji ***
Back to regular programming ;)
I am so thankful that you have stuck with me through this journey
A Boy Named Kookie has been a lot of fun to write and I can't wait to see where it takes us
Once again, many thanks
With Love, Mina