“Hey, baby, it’s been a day now... It’s time to take off the costume.”
“...B-But I don’t want to. I’m a shark!”
“Yes, you are, but if you don’t wash it, then it-”
“I don’t want to take it off!”
Jimin hardens his jaw, but swallows the growing desire to yell at the Little who is being so stubborn-
Namjoon, shark costume and all, bolts away when he has a chance while Jimin is putting the lid back on his boiling pot.
Jeongguk pauses in his sentence, looking at the empty spot that Jimin seems to be burning holes into.
It wasn’t supposed to be a very big deal. A couple hours? Sure. Until bedtime? Why not?
Overnight, through the next day, all the way until dinnertime?
That’s sort of pushing it.
“You’re going to stress yourself into Little Space, Namjoon,” Seokjin hums lowly. Namjoon crosses his arms. “It’ll be fine.”
“I just don’t like knowing what I’ll be wearing, that’s all,” he huffs back, hand itch-threatening to tune out his hyung with his earbuds.
“I’m sure whatever it is, it’ll work out,” Yoongi assures. “It’s not like they would choose something we look horrible in, right?”
Well, that’s true.
For their special mini performance, they get to wear animal costumes. Well, everyone but Jeongguk. Once he saw the carrot costume, he’d ultimately called dibs.
Yoongi went with a squirrel (or flying squirrel?), Seokjin with a hamster, Taehyung with a dinosaur (or a dragon, he claimed it’s up for debate), Jimin as either a bear that got dipped in blue dye or some sort of random crossbreed, Hoseok chose a bunny-slash-rabbit, and Namjoon had the choice between a sort of cat-dog or a shark.
“What’re you going to be, hyung?” Taehyung asks, adjusting his undershirt, his costume hanging at the waist. Namjoon shrugs. “I think you’d be really cute as a shark.”
“Okay,” he says, taking the shark costume off the rack and humming, going to sit down and put on the bottom part.
“Aw, hyung!” Jimin says. He’s ready, with his blue hood over his head. “You’re a shark.”
“Um... Yeah.” He huffs, pushing away his headspace. Just for a little bit. The performance isn’t that long. Just a few hours, and he’ll be distracted until it’s over.
He gets the rest of his costume on, takes a deep breath, and gets ready to perform.
No one is sure if he slipped halfway through or not, but he’s definitely little and, apparently, definitely a shark.
“Appa!” he yells, grabbing right onto Jimin. Jimin stumbles a little, already out of his costume. “‘m a shark!” He makes a growling noise that Jimin assumes is supposed to be scary, but it ends up being cute instead.
“My baby shark, so scary!” he gasps, holding a hand to his chest. “It’s time to take it off, though, sweetheart-”
“No!” Namjoon whines out, drawing out the word as long as he can. “No, please, I don’t want to yet, I’m a shark!” He grabs Jimin’s arm and shakes it in desperation, hoping if he begs enough, he’ll be able to wear it for longer.
Jimin looks to the noonas, who’re getting the rest of the clothes ready to be packed up again, and they shrug.
“He can keep it,” one says, and Namjoon lights up, looking back at the noona before looking at Jimin hopefully.
“Just let him wear it for a little longer, Jimin,” Hoseok says. He shuffles towards them and pinches Namjoon’s cheek, shaking his head. “Cute little shark baby deserves it because he did so well today!”
“Hobi-hyung says I deserve it!” Namjoon presses, and Jimin’s resolve crumbles.
“Okay, you can keep wearing it,” Jimin agrees.
He doesn’t know what he’s getting into.
A couple hours have passed. It’s nearing dinnertime, with Seokjin cooking (and since Namjoon is little, he’s making bulgogi), and Jimin has asked for the help of his members to convince Namjoon to remove his shark costume before they eat.
“If you don’t take it off, it’s going to get really dirty,” Jeongguk tries to convince, but Namjoon shakes his head, crossing his arms.
“It’s not going to,” he says firmly, raising his chin in the air. They know it’s a lie because he’s always messy when he’s little. “I’ll be super neat!”
“We need to wash it, too, hon,” Taehyung joins. “Don’t you want it to be all nice and clean? Yoongi-hyung is going to do laundry later.”
“Is not! Yoon-hyung did laundry yesterday!” Namjoon counters, and they curse.
“Will it hurt to let him wear it for a little longer?” Jeongguk hums, and Taehyung shrugs.
“I mean, he is so cute,” Taehyung huffs, smiling a little.
Jimin chose the wrong people.
In the end, Jeongguk and Taehyung return Namjoon to the living room, still shark-ified and ultimately happy that he’d been able to convince the two biggest pushovers to let him be a shark for longer.
When Jimin comes to retrieve him for dinner, he’s expecting (more like hoping) that Namjoon’s been at least stripped down to his underclothes, maybe pyjamas or some of his Little lounge clothes.
But, he is sadly greeted with the sight of shark-Namjoon.
He’s giving up for now.
“Alright, baby shark, dinner’s ready,” he says, and Namjoon bolts to his feet to go to Jimin, giving him a hug and a kiss on his cheek before he’s in the dining room and on the floor with his legs crossed, waiting for Seokjin to put all the food on the table.
“Here comes the big school of fish!” Seokjin chants as he hovers the bulgogi in the air between his chopsticks. Namjoon holds his mouth open and waits, bouncing a little bit and Seokjin makes animated noises before feeding Namjoon the piece of meat.
“Hyung,” Jimin huffs. “Don’t encourage it.” Seokjin hums and eats his own food.
“Sorry, he’s really cute,” he mumbles, and Namjoon frowns when Seokjin doesn’t do another plane.
“Appa,” he moans in distress, knowing it’s his doing for stopping the fun of dinner. “You’re being a meanie.”
“I’m being a meanie?” Jimin sputters, eyeing the shark hood over Namjoon’s head. “You are the one who’s not listening to your-”
“Jimin,” Yoongi huffs. “Don’t start a fight, not right now.” Jimin shuts his mouth and pouts, which makes Namjoon giggle. His cheeks heat up at having lost his cool. He probably looks like some kind of perturbed hamster as he stuffs his mouth with food.
Namjoon does keep his promise, mostly. He gets exactly one small spot of food on his costume, but other than that, he’s neat and collected, his food making its careful way to his mouth until his plate his clean.
“Appa!” he shouts. “I’m all done!” Jimin smiles. Sometimes it’s a hassle to get Namjoon to eat all his food on the plate, but since he seems to be in such a good mood (and he has the idea that sharks eat everything in sight), he’s finished right after Seokjin.
Okay, so one good thing has come out of this.
Namjoon helps cleaning up by carrying all the chopsticks to the sink. Seokjin would probably have him carry the chopsticks even when big, though. Little Namjoon doesn't seem to mind, however.
He takes the time to set each chopstick down individually into the sink as everyone else helps in putting the plates away, Taehyung practically licking his own clean on the way. He gives a ruffle of Namjoon’s hood and Namjoon laughs.
“Thanks, baby shark,” he says. Namjoon smiles Taehyung’s way. “Such big shark teeth. You should get them nice and clean for your next big shark meal.”
Namjoon purses his lips now. He’s never been a fan of brushing his teeth when Little, finding it a time-waster when he could be doing something else. Like eating candy. Or drinking Jeongguk’s banana milk. Or chewing on building blocks.
But when Namjoon pouts, Hoseok catches it and hums.
“C’mon, Joonie, a baby shark like you needs to brush his teeth,” he says as he puts his bowl in the sink. “Or else you won’t have those sharp white shark teeth.” Namjoon still continues to pout. “Oh, baby, I don’t think you want the other baby sharks to all have clean teeth, and you to be the baby shark who doesn’t, do you? Let’s get them clean so they’ll be the scariest of all!”
Namjoon huffs but nods, and Hoseok leads him to the bathroom.
Jimin’s already informed everyone to try to get Namjoon out of the costume as soon as possible, any way they can, so now it’s Hoseok’s turn to try.
To edge Namjoon into brushing his teeth, he gets his own toothbrush ready and they face the mirror together, brushing away. Hoseok eyes Namjoon’s costume as the Little is distracted with getting every tooth covered, wondering if he’d be able to slip it off without Namjoon noticing too much.
He reaches over to the back where the zipper is and tries zipping it down, but Namjoon whines and moves away, flopping his arms to the side and slouching where he stands, holding his toothbrush in his mouth.
“Hobi-hyung!” he says with a cry. “I don’t want to take it off!” Hoseok leans to spit out the toothpaste and wash his mouth and his brush off, putting it away in his things.
“Honey, I’m sorry, but it’s almost bedtime,” he says, going for a direct method. “Appa let you wear it for even longer than you were supposed to, so I think you need to accept it and take it off for bed.”
Hoseok leans and starts tugging at the zipper, but Namjoon flails, struggling against Hoseok’s arms. Hoseok’s trying to be gentle about it, trying to pry it in the least mean way possible, but Namjoon doesn’t budge, pushing Hoseok’s arms away with force.
“No, no, no!” Namjoon repeats, pushing Hoseok’s arms off over and over again. “Don’t want to!’
“Namjoon-” Hoseok begins, but stops when he sees Namjoon’s tears.
“Hobi-hyung, y-you’re being mean,” he says, with a little sob.
Hoseok won’t fall for it. He knows they’re fake, crocodile tears.
He won’t fall for it.
He’s not...going to fall for it.
He’s already falling for it.
“Hobi-hyung!” Namjoon cries out, his tears falling for real as he sobs out, “You’re being mean, stop hurting me!”
“Okay, okay, okay!” Hoseok says, holding his hands away. “Joonie, don’t cry, I’m sorry. You can be a shark for a little bit longer, okay? It’s alright.” Namjoon sniffs before he nods and continues to brush his teeth, finishing and showing off his pearly whites to Hoseok, who hums and nods approval.
Hoseok tucks him into his bed, still in his shark costume, and hums, knowing Jimin will be on all of their cases for being such pushovers for the Little.
“All set?” Hoseok asks, and Namjoon hums.
“Yoon-hyungie?” he says quietly, and Hoseok chuckles to himself. Namjoon prefers the elder to cuddle when he’s Little and feeling particularly affectionate.
“I’ll go get him,” Hoseok promises, kissing his forehead and leaving for a few moments before returning with Yoongi.
“Hi, baby- Hoseok,” Yoongi begins to coo at Namjoon until he sees he’s still a shark, and gives Hoseok a pointed look. “I thought maybe you of all people could get him to take it off.”
“He started giving me tears, I didn’t want a tantrum,” Hoseok huffs. “All you.” He pats Yoongi’s shoulder before he leaves, Namjoon staring up at Yoongi with big, hopeful eyes under his shark hood.
He takes a deep breath and sits on the edge of the bed,
“Sweetheart,” he says slowly. “You know that your Appa is upset with you, right?” Silence.
“No,” Namjoon finally says after a few moments. “Appa loves me.”
“He does, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be upset with you.” Yoongi breathes in. “Do you know why?”
“Nope,” Namjoon answers the same way, shaking his head. Good lord.
“It’s because you’re not listening to him, Joonie,” Yoongi explains.
“But we’re not fighting,” Namjoon says back. “‘nd Appa was mean first.”
“Well, yes, but-”
“And Appa didn’t say I was being bad.”
“I... Well, no, he didn’t, not exactly-”
“You don’t think I’m... I’m bad, do you, hyungie?”
And how the guilt-tables have turned.
“No,” Yoongi assures, shuffling up on the bed. “No, of course not, sweetheart, I wouldn’t ever think you were bad-”
“B-Because I don’t want you to think I-I’m bad. I'm not bad, don’t say that.”
“I’m not, you’re good, it’s okay. It’s okay, baby. Let’s go to bed, alright?” Namjoon makes a show of sniffing before nodding and scooting over to let Yoongi have room to spoon him under the covers, which the elder does, making sure the nightlight is lit before closing his eyes and hoping Jimin doesn’t ream them all too much.
“I’m going to punish every single one of you,” Jimin steams. The five other members frown.
“Just because you’re his appa doesn’t mean you’re also ours,” Hoseok huffs, crossing his arms.
“I might just have to be,” Jimin presses on. He looks at Namjoon in the kitchen, who’s happily munching on goldfish in his rumpled up shark outfit, making noises in the air until he roars and tosses the cracker into his mouth.
Jimin paces back and forth.
“I asked for one thing,” he says. “I asked all of you to get Namjoon to take off the costume. But you all just-” He throws his arms up in the air. “You all are so whipped for him!”
“Oh, my God,” Seokjin groans. “Don’t even act like you aren’t, too! We all saw!”
Jimin puffs up his cheeks in embarrassment. Okay, so they’re all pushovers. But six heads against one - a little one at that - should be more than enough. So it’s baffling how Namjoon’s managed to convince them all to turn the other cheek.
Well, it’s not like his IQ decreases. 148 is still 148, little or big. He’s a genius and can outsmart anybody, whether it be with a clever remark or a cute expression.
“Whatever, just-” Jimin huffs, cutting himself off.
“You’re the main caregiver,” Yoongi nods, “you go talk to him.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Jimin nods back, turning towards the kitchen (Namjoon is now trying to pour himself juice. Not well, considering the sloshes over the counter).
“Appa!” he yells loudly at the sight of Jimin, holding out his hands and making grabbing motions. He bounces in his seat and smiles when Jimin gives him a warm grin.
“Hi, baby,” Jimin says, and reaches automatically for a rag to wipe up the small spills around his cup. “How’d you sleep?”
“I had a dream we were all sharks!” Namjoon gushes. “And- And we swam, and we ate marshmallows, and there were sea crabs!” Jimin chuckles, putting the rag to the side.
“How d’you feel about a bath or a shower?” he asks. “I’ll get your strawberry soap.”
“Took one already,” Namjoon hums, sipping his juice. “I got up real early!” Jimin squints a little. He’s too smart.
“Alright, look, Joonie, you have to take off the costume,” he says firmly. Namjoon frowns with a mouthful of juice, his cheeks puffing out. He shakes his head, making a defiant noise with his throat. “Yes, Namjoon.”
“I don’t want to,” he replies after swallowing. “Shark, Appa.”
“You’re not a shark.”
“No, Namjoon, you’re not a shark. You’re Namjoon and I’m your appa and you’re taking off the costume. Now.”
It takes a moment for it to process. To figure out that Jimin isn’t kidding, isn’t going to say that he’s just joking and that Namjoon is his little baby shark and that he loves him so much.
And he’s calling him Namjoon.
He isn’t Namjoon. He’s Joonie, he’s Jimin’s baby.
Jimin reaches for his hood but Namjoon shies away, ducking and pushing his glass of juice onto the counter.
A pause sits in the air as Jimin freezes.
“Go away, Jimin!”
Namjoon gets out of his chair and hightails it towards the bedrooms, hiding himself away from everybody.
Jimin sighs from the hallway where he stands in front of Namjoon’s bedroom door.
“C’mon, baby, I’m sorry,” Jimin tries once more. “I’ll get you some kimbap from the store?”
There’s no response from Namjoon, and Jimin doesn’t blame him.
In all honesty, Namjoon’s never been the best with confrontation when he’s little, unlike his regular adult persona where he tends to try and solve everything. When Namjoon’s little, he lets everything go and acts under the assumption that nothing bad can go wrong when it involves him.
And now he won’t talk to Jimin.
Namjoon listens as Jimin’s footsteps pad away from the door, his shadow disappearing from underneath, and Namjoon hugs the hood of his costume further, afraid if he doesn’t keep hold of it it’ll get taken away forever.
He sits up in bed and looks around the room for something to distract him before he finds himself looking in the mirror, really looking.
His costume isn’t as clean as it was before. There are dirty spots here and there, and the cloth shark teeth on his hood are already threatening to fall off. His hair is dishevelled and his eyes are puffy and red from crying.
Is this what Jimin’s looking at? Because if Namjoon’s being honest with himself, he doesn’t look very cute anymore. He looks scary, actually scary. As if he’d crawled out from the tunnels to attack people.
He backs away from his reflection a bit, scaring himself for a moment before he finally turns away.
It’s cliché, but there’s a picture on his side table, of him and all the rest of the members. He himself is standing next to Jimin, his appa, with the biggest smile on his face. Jimin’s looking at him like he holds stars in his eyes, no shark costume to be spoken of.
Maybe the reason Jimin doesn’t like his costume is because that’s not the Joonie that he’s been taking care of. His Joonie doesn’t talk back to him, or refuse direction.
Jimin’s Joonie isn’t a shark, not really. Jimin’s Joonie is Joonie, Little Joonie, the one Jimin gives the whole world to no matter what.
Before Namjoon can think, he’s standing up, sniffling a bit as he opens his bedroom door and pads down the hallway towards Jimin’s room. No one’s in it. Jimin must’ve left because he was so upset, Namjoon belatedly realises.
He fights back tears, no matter how much they want to escape, and goes to the closet to find the biggest sweater and some shorts that smell enough like Jimin to make it feel like he hasn’t left.
He slips off the shark costume for the first time in days and slips into the sweater and shorts, throwing the costume across the room so he doesn’t have to look at it. As he goes to lie down in Jimin’s bed, under the sheets on the soft pillows Jimin insists on having, he wonders.
Is Jimn ever going to come back? Or did he upset him so much that he’s not Jimin’s baby anymore?
“Jimin!” someone whisper-shouts as Jimin steps into the dorm.
“Hm,” he hums back, looking up to see Taehyung standing in front of him, looking like he’s about to burst if he doesn’t speak. “What? What happened, is Namjoon okay?”
“What? Yeah,” Taehyung furrows his brows, nodding. “He took off the costume.” Jimin raises his eyebrows in surprise.
“What, how? When?”
“I don’t know, but I went to check on him earlier and I found him asleep in your bed. In your clothes, too.” Taehyung pats his shoulder. “I think he misses you.”
“God, is it- Is he awake yet?” Taehyung shakes his head.
“No, but I think he’ll talk to you now.”
Jimin slips away his shoes haphazardly, the kimbap in his hand dropping onto the coffee table as he heads down the hall to his room, knocking lightly before heading in when no one answers.
There Namjoon lies, sleeping soundly despite the flush to his face from crying, in one of Jimin’s favourite large sweaters and hugging one of his pillows to his chest. He looks down to see the shark costume crumpled and dirty on the floor, forgotten about completely.
Carefully, he makes his way to Namjoon’s side and gently prods him.
“Joonie...,” he whispers. “It’s Appa. Are you awake?”
Namjoon stirs awake slowly, sniffing and turning before widening his eyes at the sight of Jimin looking down at him.
“Appa!” he shouts, scrambling up to sit before reaching to hug Jimin as close as he can, burying his head in his chest and making himself small in his arms. He starts crying immediately, prompting Jimin to rub his back and rock them both side to side.
“Hold on, baby, I’m here,” Jimin assures. “Did you think I left you?”
“I t-thought you left me,” Namjoon sobs out, clutching at the back of Jimin’s shirt. “Because you were m-mad at me.”
“I wasn’t mad at you.”
“Yes, you were.”
“...Okay, I was a little mad. But I’m not mad anymore, I promise you.” Namjoon sniffs once more before pulling back. Jimin wipes the tears from his eyes and holds his face in his hands, squishing it a little but earning no smile.
“Appa, I-I don’t want to be a shark anymore,” Namjoon says.
“What? Why not?”
“Because sharks- Sharks are scary and I was scaring everyone,” Namjoon explains. “I scared everyone away and made everyone sad.”
“No, honey- Listen,” Jimin huffs, and Namjoon gives his full attention. “You weren’t scaring us. You were actually really cute, the cutest shark in the sea. But when you’re a shark for too long, it starts to take over. You start to neglect everyone else for yourself. You know what that means?” Namjoon shakes his head. “It means you were pushing everyone away and not listening because you just wanted to do what you wanted to do.”
“A-And everyone got sad.”
“Yes, everyone got sad, and upset. Like me. We weren’t telling you to take off the shark costume because we don’t like it. We just wanted Joonie back, our Joonie. Our Joonie who likes to take bubble baths and eat strawberries and colour pictures.”
“So... I can keep the shark?”
“Yes, you can keep the shark. But you have to leave it be sometimes. Let it stay put away. Not all the time, but sometimes. Like if we leave to go out or when we eat. And it should get washed regularly.” Namjoon chances a glance at the costume on the floor before looking back at Jimin. “Okay?”
“‘kay,” Namjoon huffs, and Jimin squishes his cheeks again, this time making Namjoon giggle. Jimin leans and nuzzles his nose against Namjoon’s before kissing his forehead.
“I know something with sharks that’s really fun we can do,” Jimin says as he lets Namjoon go.
“What is it?” Namjoon asks, reaching up to wipe his eyes and nose. Jimin reaches into his pocket and pulls out his phone before a song starts to play.
“‘Baby shark, do-do-do-do-do,’” he sings with the music, and Namjoon laughs when Jimin makes the little chomping motion with his fingers before pinching his nose.
Namjoon copies him as the song continues on, all the way through to the end with all of the little dance moves. When it ends, Namjoon bounces on the bed.
“Can- Can I show everyone else?” he asks pleadingly, and Jimin’s taken aback for a moment before he nods and hands Namjoon his phone, watching Namjoon bolt from the bed and to the door, swinging it open hastily and sliding down the hall before shouting, “Hobi-hyungie! Watch me!”
In the moment, Jimin’s glad that Namjoon isn’t upset, and had learned his lesson. But he thinks he’s just started a new trend around the dorm that they’ll no doubt get sick of. He just hopes that this time, Namjoon will realise it sooner rather than later.
(Spoiler alert: He doesn’t.)