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The 'Real Life Neko Atsume'

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Safe in their cocoon of a soft plushy cube, curled up like slightly larger versions of wooly caterpillars, are the kids. All seven of them.

It had taken Yoong about a half hour after getting home from work to find them. He had thought that they would swarm him like ravenous scavengers, yelling at him about how hungry they were. They like to do that, try and convince him with their glowing eyes of perpetual superior judgment that he’s neglecting them somehow.

It reminds him an awful lot of how Jeongguk looks at him every time Yoongi shows up to hang out with him and isn’t bearing food or whatever else it is Jeongguk has recently gotten into. Two weeks ago it was obscure candy.

Yoongi doesn’t want to know what this week is, especially not if he’s then expected to act on that knowledge and get him the next cool gizmo. Yoong has enough already, hands full with seven mouths to feed (excluding his own) and enough hair in the apartment to start a faux fur line.

That is, if Jimin wouldn’t get him blacklisted for it instantly for ‘sanitation’.

“I’m home,” Yoongi calls to his kids, watching the soft plushy cube for a sign of respect that he’s returned to them at all. Nothing, just a pair of lazy eyes blinking at him before a long yawn. “Alright, just take your time.”

It started out as Namjoon’s suggestion. Well, it was less a suggestion and more of Yoongi realizing that under absolutely no circumstances ever should Namjoon be made responsible to take care of another life form.

Namjoon can’t even take care of himself, sets his own stove on fire once a month, and is afraid of the vacuum cleaner. Namjoon is hopeless (and would probably be dead if Taehyung wasn’t excited about vacuuming and insisted on doing it just so he could do ‘the vacuum time dance’. Don’t worry, Yoongi doesn’t get it either).

Long story short, Namjoon got a kitten. Namjoon got a kitten and tried to feed it cereal. Namjoon got a kitten and Yoongi saved the kitten from certain death the exact same day.

So, even shorter, Namjoon got a kitten, which actually meant, Yoongi got a kitten out of overall concern of the kitten’s welfare being in Namjoon’s care. The fact that Taehyung keeps all of his pets with Namjoon is irrelevant, Yoongi saw a creature and danger and something just came over him.

It was similar to when he saw Jeongguk for the first time, but the kitten actually was a lot cuter than Jeongguk and didn’t make sarcastic comments about Yoongi’s hair.

Overall, Yoongi had found that a rescue of a kitten in harm’s (Namjoon’s) way had developed into his discovered like of cats. Then that like of cats had begun to progress, and Yoongi rescued the local cat with a broken paw, then the local mother cat and her two half grown kittens (getting all of them fixed), and finally, ‘the twins’. The twins are less ‘twins’ and more a panicked phone call from a friend who discovered his boyfriend was allergic to them and had no idea what to do.

So now, Yoongi has seven cats. All curled up on top of each other in the medium sized plushy cube that Taehyung had bought him and his ‘children’ when he’d found out Yoongi’s actual weakness was apparently four legged and had a perpetual attitude of ‘judgment’ and ‘psychadelic methods of play’.

They’re nice company though, and while Yoongi spends most of his time trying to figure out when to jump into conversation with the people he knows, cats don’t really give a shit. Yoongi can literally wake up in the morning with Fluffles (Namjoon’s hideous name, not his) on his chest and grunt out ‘Fuck Whippets’ in mid fart and Fluffles will just blink and accept him for who he is.

If that isn’t love Yoongi doesn’t know what is.

The seven cats have also given what Jimin insisted was always missing in his life: routine.

All arguments about how Yoongi had routine were usually punted out the window by Jimin with a pointed squinty look. Yoongi typically lost the argument anyway though because Jimin would inevitably ask when the last time was that Yoongi ate and that was just playing dirty.

With the cats though, Yoongi has to get up at six every day to feed them. If he doesn’t, Shubert (actually Schubert, but the lady at the shelter didn’t know to spell famous classical composers) will meow in his face and walk all over him until he gets up. This means Yoongi is never late for work and always has time for Breakfast (which he eats now). With the cats, Yoongi has to get home before eight every night and feed them.

If he doesn’t, there is a very high possibility that they’ll get noise complains and Bing Bing will eat the fake plant and throw it up in Yoongi’s shoes out of revenge. Yoongi doesn’t doubt this, it has happened before. It also means Yoongi eats dinner, every night, as his kids chow down on their food by the fridge in a huddles purring mass of cats.

Tonight, as Yoongi gradually sheds his layers of work stuff, shoes, jacket, and articles, Fluffles uncurls herself from the cube and pads after him.

As much as Yoongi doesn’t play favorites, Fluffles is probably his one of his favorites. She is the calmest and she loves to curl up with him quietly while he works and just keep him company. She listens to him when he has to work through a problem, and worries about him when he’s sick or too tired. She also never scratches.

While she’s not begging, she is following him into the kitchen, and Yoongi glances down at her as she sits and waits expectantly.

“You want up?” he asks, eyebrows raised at the cat. She licks her lips and chirps before springing up onto the counter.

When she’d learned this trick, Yoongi isn’t sure, but her favorite place is to be draped around Yoongi’s neck as he goes about tasks. She’s a thin and lithe cat, so she’s not particularly heavy, and as Yoongi is prone to chills, it’s nice having her warmth softly purring against him. She watches him as he looks over dinner, batting a paw towards the leftovers he’d brought home last night to help him decide.

She waits patiently while he gets dinner for the cats, watching them stream into the kitchen like fluffy eels, blinking up at him and meowing expectantly. “Yeah, I know, food is important.” Fluffles butts against his face as Shubert meows loudly at him.

They all eat separately, the cats in a huge fluffy congregation around the food bowls and Yoongi at his desk, digging through leftover stir fry and ddeok. By the time Yoongi is back to work, playing with a few mixes of his own rather than the work tracks, Fluffles is back and resting beside him on the couch, Trix and Flix curled up by his feet as Geronimo watches Bing Bing make herself high on a catnip satchel with intense fascination.

Sometimes, his phone will go off, vibrating on the table as he glances up from work, piecing together rhythms and sound bites. Sometimes it’s Namjoon, sometimes Taehyung or Jimin, and occasionally Jeongguk. Yoongi knows they’ll be asking him to come out, or check up on him.

The thing is, once, being at home alone on a weeknight would drive him out, wandering from place to place and finding himself out past hours without a way home, resigned to waste the hours until dawn with a drink or twelve.

Now, Yoongi smiles, reaching down to smooth his fingers against Fluffles’ head and get a soft nudge in return. Now, when Yoongi goes to his room at the end of the night, he finds Suga curled up by his pillow on the unmade bed, blinking sleepily up at him expectantly.

As Yoongi is getting ready for bed, his phone buzzes again. It’s Jeongguk.

11:56 – You’re actually one of those old cat ladies now, aren’t you?

For a moment, Yoongi almost considers texting back with a dry remark about how Jeongguk has the makings of an old lady’s pampered Persian before he realizes Jeongguk might consider that a compliment. And go find a cougar.

Ignoring it is a much better option, and he falls asleep curled up with Suga by his back, Fluffles curled up by his hand, and Trix and Bing Bing wedged awkwardly around his legs.

*

“You did this,” Jimin is saying, staring accusingly at Taehyung as aforementioned manchild spins himself in Namjoon’s vacated office chair with varying degrees of delight. “You turned him into-“ Jimin makes a while gesture that Yoongi would be offended by if he bother to give a shit.

As it is, there’s a music track deadline at noon tomorrow and Namjoon just ran to the bathroom to have a ‘personal moment’ which essentially translates to ‘shit my brains out and hope I die.’ Yoongi has a lot of things he gives a shit about, but Jimin’s apparently accusations about what it is he’s become aren’t really on the list.

Of course he has a list.

Now he’s got cats, he’s regulated.

“Me?” Taehyung asks before reversing direction in an aggressive spin.

“Yes!” Jimin declares. “You were the one that gave him that cat collecting game!”

“Neko atsume,” Yoongi clarifies. Not that he plays it still. He has real life neko atsume. But the game is still good for those ‘personal moments’.

“See!” Jimin almost looks personally attacked.

“You play it too,” Taehyung reminds him, spinning again with a large grin. “Don’t think I didn’t save every single picture you sent me of all the cats you got.”

“You didn- I didn’t send you any-“

“I have all 193 of them,” Taehyung says, before spinning around with a soft ‘whee’ just as Namjoon remerges with a guilty look on his face. “It’s a fun game, no shame.”

“If you need the bathroom,” Namjoon begins, apparently thinking people are paying attention to his grand entrance. “Don’t.”

“I need you to get your boyfriend out of your damn chair so you can finish this track with me,” Yoongi tells him with a pointed look. “If I need to shit, I’ll do it here. I care more about this deadline that how you stank up the bathroom.”

“That’s disgusting,” Jimin tells him flatly.

“Hardcore,” Taehyung adds, with none of the judgment from Jimin’s corner. “I’ll go for you, Yoongi. I don’t mind the smell of his farts.”

“Taehyung,” Namjoon says patiently, laying a hand on his boyfriend’s head lovingly. “Please get out of my chair before Yoongi kills you.”

“I won’t kill him,” Yoongi says as Taehyung slips himself out of the chair and lets Namjoon sit to get back to work. “I like him. He keeps you alive.”

“I told you he liked me,” Taehyung says, leaning down to prop his chin on Namjoon’s head as Yoongi watches and Jimin looks both envious and exasperated by the couple.

“I know,” Namjoon says, and reaches up to pat Taehyung’s cheek without looking away from the screen. “I’ll see you later.”

“Come hang out with us, okay?” Jimin calls, his eyes on Yoongi. “After work, we’re all getting food and drinks and seeing if –“

“I have to feed the kids,” Yoongi says, and stills, realizing his mistake.

“Kids,” Jimin repeats, and Yoongi very purposefully doesn’t turn around to acknowledge this lapsus linguae. “Kids.”

“Go eat lunch or something,” Namjoon calls to them, turning and flapping his hands in a dismissive ‘get the fuck out’ gesture to his boyfriend and his ‘truest bro’. Of course, when they leave, Namjoon makes a very obvious swivel in his direction with a massive grin on his face.

“Don’t say it,” Yoongi warns him in a low grumble, not even turning from his screen.

“Kids?”

“I hate you,” Yoongi sighs, and is extremely glad twenty minutes later when Jeongguk calls him for something that his phone is on silent. The last thing he needs Namjoon to know (and therefore Taehyung and the entire world) is that his ringtone is now ‘1-800-NEKOBLING’.

It had been funny, and had only taken, like, twenty minutes on his home computer and mixer to come up with. Geronimo kept rubbing his whiskered face on the screen and clearly thought it was genius.

Just like Yoongi.

“Papa cat Yoongi,” Namjoon coos at him.

“You’re not cute,” Yoongi tells him flatly, finally gracing him with a look.

“It’s okay to be a big softie,” Namjoon tells him in his consoling ‘philosophical therapist’ voice that Yoongi both hates and kind of finds hilarious. “It’s okay to love cats. It’s cute.”

“I’m glad you accept I like cats more than you,” Yoongi says calmly and watches as Namjoon’s expression withers slightly.

“What if I was a cat,” Namjoon asks.

Yoongi kicks his rolley chair across the studio and smiles when it almost hits the wall.

*

Usually, Yoongi’s apartment complex is blissfully quiet. It’s why he selected it, because if there is one person who prefers silence over noise, it’s Yoongi. Being surrounded by sound all day at work lends the solitude of quiet at home to be a necessity.

It also lends itself well to the cats, who prefer the quiet as well.

Usually, the apartment complex is relatively quiet, but tonight, there’s a soft familiar melody drifting from down the hall from one of the doors, propped open with a large box, other boxes scattered around as well.

It’s familiar and Yoongi pauses with his keys raised to unlock his apartment as he stares at the unit that is emitting the soft sounds of the Neko Atsume theme. It’s almost enough of a hook to get Yoongi walking down the hall and poking his head into the apartment, just to see who would play this theme.

It looks like a new tenant, too.

The a shadow moves from inside the apartment, and Yoongi shakes himself from his reverie, opens his door, and steps inside and directly on a jingle ball toy.

“Thanks Bing Bing,” Yoongi groans, flat on his ass and sore as his cats swarm around him and the mostly closed door. “Nice to see you too.”

Bing Bing puts her paws on his chest and head butts him in the nose, driving the theme from the hall from his mind with the distraction of cats.

It comes back full force when there’s a knock on the door a few hours later, and Yoongi peels himself away from a riveting experience of lurking on the group chat and not participating to answer it.

Fluffles draped around his neck in her favorite spot, Yoongi blinks at the stranger standing on the other side of the door. He’s taller than Yoongi, with shoulders that almost fill up the doorway and a kind and aesthetically pleasing face. He’s holding what looks like a plate of muffins.

“Oh!” he says, which Yoongi thinks he meant to come out as ‘hi’ but his eyes are wider and suddenly on Fluffles. Then he blushes, and Yoongi kind of forgives him (even if he’d never been annoyed. It’s a facial condition, according to Namjoon). “I’m- sorry, hello!”

“Hi.”

“I’m Seokjin, I just moved in down the hall and I thought I’d come around and meet my neighbors,” Seokjin says, the new neighbor, holding up a plate of muffins and smiling in a friendly way. Yoongi should do something.

“Hi.”

“Anyway, I don’t know if you like muffins or not, but these are cranberry walnut, but also gluten free, because I know some people are allergic.” Seokjin might be blushing, and Yoongi’s feeling a little anxious about holding his door open with seven cats that need to stay indoors. He’d step into the hall, but Fluffles is on him, and-

“Come in,” Yoongi says, and smiles as he steps back.

“Oh, I don’t-“

“No, I don’t want my cats to get out,” Yoongi answers. “I have to close the door.”

“Oh,” Seokjin’s eyes are a bit wider, and they now dart back into the apartment, searching. Yoongi feels a bit warmer, recognizing the look of ‘scanning for cats’ when he sees it. The difference is that it looks nice, calm and respectfully eager on Seokjin where as on Taehyung it’s positively ‘driven mad with thirst for cats’. Of course, somehow cats seem to view Taehyung as the cat whisperer, so Yoongi doesn’t really care.

So far, Fluffles has just remained curiously alert on his shoulders.

“Muffins, right?” Yoongi prompts, looking down at the plate in Seokjin’s hands.

“Oh! Yes, they’re gluten free,” Seokjin continues. “But that’s about it. I didn’t have much on hand so-“

“Why are they gluten free?”

“Oh, Hoseok is a Celiac,” Seokjin explains, like Yoongi knows what a Hoseok and a Celiac are. He blushes again, and it goes straight to his ears. It’s kind of cute. “Means he can’t eat gluten.”

“I see,” Yoongi says slowly, and watches as Seokjin waits for him to say more. It’s kind of cute, watching him stand there in his tall broad shoulders and large sweater that would be murdered under Suga’s long white hair (definitely a fur magnet). “Thank you.”

When Yoongi takes the muffins, Seokjin looks this pleasant mix of pleased, proud, and relieved, and Yoongi suddenly recognizes the feeling slowly blossoming in his chest.

Cat adoption.

On one hand, Yoongi knows he should be worried. On the other hand, Seokjin just looks so ready to be pet on the head or to curl up on the couch quietly. So, instead of thanking Seokjin and telling him to get out, Yoongi says, “this is Fluffles.”

When Seokjin extends his hand carefully for Fluffles to sniff at before he pets her, Yoongi finds himself smiling, watching as his kitty lets his new neighbor pet her. When Bing Bing and Geronimo trot out curiously, Seokjin looks enamored, crouching down to say hello as Yoongi watches and feels warm, Fluffles’ tail gently flicking against his neck.

“It was nice to meet you,” Seokjin says, his eyes lingering for a moment on the cats before he looks at Yoongi with a brilliant smile. “I hope you like the muffins, and-“

“If you want to visit them, just let me know,” Yoongi says, following Seokjin to the door to let him back in the catless hallway. “If I’m home, at least.”

“I’ll could call?” Seokjin says, and then fumbles for a moment, his soft black sweater half covered in cat hair from Trix and Bing Bing. “Hold on, I’ll get my phone.”

And that’s how Yoongi gave his phone number to a near complete stranger for a plate of gluten free cranberry walnut muffins.

*

The problem with Namjoon and Taeyung’s apartment isn’t that it’s small, it’s that it’s a normal sized apartment but that it looks like they tried to shove four apartments into it and then blew them all up at once. It’s kind of a beautiful chaos that somehow manages to remain clean despite, well, both of them.

“You didn’t bring us anything,” Taehyung pouts when he opens the door to Yoongi.

“I need to talk to Namjoon,” Yoongi explains himself as he steps into the apartment. “And I ordered pizza. It’ll be here in fifteen.”

“I love you most,” Taehyung tells him and sweeps him into a hug that Yoongi just allows. Yoongi learned from Taehyung’s cats: let the hug happen because if you struggle, it’s worse.

“Where is your boyfriend? I need to talk to him.”

“You saw him all day,” Taehyung says, releasing him and leading him into the massive apartment that somehow manages to feel like a very exciting cave. “At work? Did you forget something? Did a deadline come up? Have your systems been hacked by terrorists intent on pasting subliminal messaging into your kick ass tracks?”

“Having fun?” Yoongi asks, watching as Taehyung gets more and more animated as he speaks.

“Loads,” Taehyung grins at him, gesturing into the bedroom. “He’s lying down for a bit. Migraine. Shirt’s off because we were trying to work it out through acupressure and massage so just, you know, don’t get tempted. I know he’s hot.”

“I’ll do my best,” Yoongi reassures Taehyung, earning a seriously made salute, before he heads into the darkened room.

“Are you alive?”

There is a muffled groan from the prone shirtless figure sprawled over the king bed.

“I need help.”

Another groan, this time more insistent and possibly along the lines of ‘go the fuck away I don’t care about your problems.’

“I need a bigger bed.”

Suddenly, Namjoon is sitting up very quickly. He’s also swearing prolifically and holding his head with a pronounced wince. “Fuck, oh, damn, I hope you’re serious because I think I’m going to throw up on you if you aren’t.”

“I don’t joke about furniture,” Yoongi tells him flatly, watching as Namjoon regains control over his migraine and apparent pain induced nausea. “I need a bigger bed.”

“For who?” Namjoon asks, grimacing at him. “You haven’t been out in a month. How did you-“

“For me,” Yoongi says before Namjoon can assess his dating life. “I’m allowed to get a bigger bed. I need the space.”

“You’re hobbit sized.”

“I can start playing that new DJ Electro Jam bass-“

“No!”

“I just need a new bed, asshole. I was hoping you and Tae could help me move it in.”

Hands over his face, Namjoon opens his fingers, peering through them at his long time friend and co-founder of their music production company. “Are you sure there isn’t something else going on?”

“Me and seven cats is a lot to fit on a twin bed,” Yoongi shrugs.

That’s it. That’s all he needed to say for Namjoon to groan and flop back in all his shirtless glory onto the bed.

“Shit, you really are an old cat lady.”

“This is why I come to you and not Jeongguk for advice, because you end with this and he starts with the bullshit,” Yoongi says placidly, patting Namjoon’s knee comfortingly. “Thanks man.”

Initially, Yoongi had a lot of things he wanted to talk to Namjoon about, like cranberry walnut muffins and what other things have gluten in them that he doesn’t know about (because those muffins were amazing who needs gluten?). Like large sweaters that Yoongi might invest in but also with a lifetime supply of lint rollers. Or how to talk to someone who texts almost entirely in emoticons.

That’s the biggest one, especially since he knows Namjoon is so well practiced at that from being Taehyung’s other half.

But, considering the circumstances, he’ll figure most of this out, just like he figured out how and where to buy a new bed for himself. Himself, because it had been really uncomfortable to sleep on the couch when his neighbor had shown up after getting locked out by ‘Hoseok’ needing a place to sleep.

Seokjin doesn't need to know the bed he slept in wasn’t a spare bed that just happened to be covered in cats and socks.

“You okay?” Namjoon asks, reaching out with a frown at Yoongi’s prolonged silence.

“Fine,” Yoongi says, offering a smile. “Just thinking.”

“Don’t do that too hard, your brain needs a break sometimes,” Namjoon sighs, pushing his face back into the covers. “Or you’ll end up like me.”

“Doesn’t seem so bad,” Yoongi says quietly, eyes drifting to the doorway where Taehyung leans, watching them quietly with a soft smile on his face. “Anyway, I have to see a man about a mattress.”

“Good luck,” Namjoon calls feebly as Taehyung pats him reassuringly on the ass as he heads out. “Send Tae in on your way out.”

Yoongi doesn’t bother answering, knowing that by the time he says anything Taehyung has already flopped down next to Namjoon for ‘medicinal cuddles’.

*

The problem with cats is that there aren’t a ton of problems, but the problems that do exist are kind of large problems. Suga doesn’t really like people until she warms up to them, Flix is terrified of the vacuum, Shubert sees his reflection and goes territorial and hostile until Yoongi can calm him down.

And all cats, no matter who they are, are kind of assholes when it comes to knocking down important shit you don’t want knocked down. Then they look at you like ‘oh was that important? I don’t really care.’

Such is the case when Yoongi wakes up on a Saturday morning of sleeping in and maybe never getting out of his pajamas all day to a loud crash from the kitchen.

Water is everywhere. Water and broken glass and greens and flowers and hope.

By the window, Geronimo is washing his paws as if he’s never in the world known there was a beautiful vase of flowers on the counter that is suddenly a massacre on the counter and floor.

“Thanks,” Yoongi tells him dryly, throwing him a tired glare. It’s way too early for this, but Yoongi doesn’t want to walk on glass accidentally and, more importantly, he doesn’t want the cats walking on glass. Pulling glass shards from kitty paws doesn’t sound like fun, for him or the kitties.

“Kids, clear out,” Yoongi sighs, shuffling the cats that have gathered to watch and wait for food away from the disaster zone.

Managing to feed the kids in the living room on a temporary set up, it takes Yoongi about a half hour to get most of the glass and water up, salvaging the flowers. Then it’s time for the vacuum to get up tiny fragments, and by the time he’s able to get things cleared up, he’s sticky, tired, and hungry.

A knock sounds on the door.

“What?”

Seokjin blinks, eyes widening as he takes in Yoongi on the other side of the door, hair sticking up on one side of his head and still in his pajamas (an enormous shirt from Namjoon that Taehyung had personally cut holes in for ‘aesthetics and ventilation’ and… that’s it actually). “Bad time?”

Letting out a sigh, Yoongi pushes his irritation to the back of his mind and acknowledges the real thing that’s been bothering him all morning.

“No, it’s fine, I just- I’m cleaning up a mess right now.”

“Can I help?” Seokjin’s brows knit in concern, and he steps in automatically now, letting Yoongi close the door.

“No, I don’t want you to hurt yourself,” Yoongi sighs, leading the way to the kitchen. “They just- Geronimo I think really liked your flowers and ended up knocking it over.”

“Oh crap, I’m sorry,” Seokjin says, and Yoongi stops, turning to stare at him, incredulous. “I should have thought and brought a plastic vase with those. I wasn't thinking.”

“It’s not your fault,” Yoongi tells him, still a bit surprised at Seokjin’s response. “My cats are just assholes.”

“Not really,” Seokjin says, a soft teasing smile to his mouth as he follows Yoongi to peek into the kitchen. Geronimo is in the sink, shoving his face into the flowers Yoongi put there that Seokjin had brought over. “They’re very sweet most of the time.”

Yoongi isn’t really a flowers kind of guy. He never really gave people flowers (except his mother) and didn’t quite see the point. But somehow when Seokjin brought them over, it wasn’t like they were forced on him, and Seokjin had just smiled and commented about how they brightened up the apartment and would clear the air.

Yoongi doubted this but still it was… nice, somehow. He’d found himself smiling at the flowers every time they caught his eye on the counter.

It got the point where he’d thought of possibly getting more flowers in the future. For the cats. Like he got the bed.

It just made sense.

“Did you have breakfast yet?” Seokjin asks after he’s helped Yoongi get the flowers in another container and relocated the cats’ food back to the kitchen. He smiles, settling down at Yoongi’s table with his plate of muffins? Bread? Scones?

Breakfast sandwiches.

Amazing.

“I woke up to a masterpiece of glass and flowers, not much time to eat,” Yoongi admits. Eyeing the plate of food, Yoongi sighs and sits into his own chair, eyes flickering to the flowers. “Gluten free?”

“Just regular,” Seokjin admits, taking a sandwich for himself. “Hoseok has his own English muffins. I had extra, so I thought I’d bring some down.”

“Not eat with him?” Yoongi asks, poking at a sandwich.

“He’s already out for the day,” Seokjin explains, chewing slowly. “I thought you might enjoy them, and I don’t mind company.”

Curling his fingers around a sandwich, Yoongi watches as Seokjin fades into quiet, watching the flowers in their new vase (travel coffee mug – 100% metal). The sandwich is delicious, and Yoongi carefully picks his way through two of them, sneaking a few small scraps to Suga when the Persian winds her way from the bedroom.

“I don’t think I’ve seen her before,” Seokjin comments, looking down at the cat that’s nestled herself around Yoongi’s legs.

“She’s shy,” Yoongi explains, absently scratching behind her ears as her feather duster tail drifts lazily behind her. “She takes a while to warm up to people before she lets them in and see her. Even longer before they can touch her.”

“She sounds cautious,” Seokjin says, dropping his hand for Suga to come over and sniff, to approve of. There’s no push from him, no pressure, just the offer. Yoongi rolls his bottom lip between his teeth, licking off a bit of salt from the sandwich, watching as Seokjin sits patiently.

“She’s timid, but knows good people.”

“Well, I hope she approves of me,” Seokjin hums with a gentle sweet smile, eyes on Suga as her tail flicks in curiosity against Yoongi’s elbow. “She seems very sweet under all that hesitancy.”

“She is,” Yoongi says, and feels a little too warm. “She’s my girl.”

“And the others?”

“They’re all my kids too,” Yoongi smiles, meeting Seokjin’s eyes.

It doesn’t feel like Yoongi is being pressured or judged when he talks about how he came across the cats, and Seokjin just listens, accepting. There is no sarcasm, and Yoongi watches in amazement as Suga ends up finally walking over and carefully sniffing at his hand before she rubs her face against his fingers.

“She likes you,” Yoongi confirms.

“I’m honored,” Seokjin says with a soft laugh.

“Were you the one playing neko atsume?” Yoongi asks, and Seokjin looks up, a vague look of confusion on his face. “From your apartment.”

“Oh, the music,” Seokjin laughs lightly. “It helps me focus when I’m doing housework. Do you play?” Yoongi shrugs. “I’m pretty sure the live version you have is a lot better though,” Seokjin finishes and his smile isn’t taunting, just kind, sincere.

“It can be,” Yoongi admits.

Geronimo hops up on the table to try to steal the last of the sandwiches, and despite Yoongi’s admonishments, Seokjin still laughs and feeds him the last before the send him off the table.

There’s something lingering at the back of Yoongi’s mind when he watches Seokjin sit on the floor with Suga and Fluffles, playing with their favorite toys and cooing over them as he watches and brushes Trix and Flix.

The words “I want to adopt you” don’t really work that well in his head, and he’s not sure they’d fare any better out loud. So Yoongi sits, watching Seokjin play with his broad shoulders and sweet smile and laughter and fine blue sweater that is accumulating cat hair, and wonders what he wants to say.

*

“That’s why I use emoticons,” Taehyung explains when Yoongi shows up for ‘movie night’ at Jimin’s with ‘the gang’. “It’s so much easier to say what I want to say in a picture than in words.”

“You just send me pictures of clouds and frogs,” Jeongguk says, flopping down next to Yoongi and throwing Taehyung a dark look.

“Exactly,” Taehyung tells him with a wide smile.

“Don’t feel targeted, I get streams of recurring stars and hearts and poops,” Namjoon says easily, his arm fitting around Taehyung as he settles back into the couch. “Took me forever to figure those out.”

“But he got it eventually,” Taehyung says, fondness positively drenching his voice as he pats Namjoon’s chest.

“But Namjoon is like a certified prodigal genius, what about normal people like us?” Jimin protests, familiar pout pulling at his lips.

“Struggle,” Namjoon tells him with a pointed look before he grins. “Honestly, just pretend it’s Pictionary.”

“That doesn’t help,” Jimin grumbles as Yoongi sits on his patience and waits for the topic to get back to the important things: words.

“Who are you texting anyway?” Jeongguk asks, peering at him in that way of his. “Your cats? Cats can’t text they don’t have thumbs.”

“You text with just your two pointer fingers, are you a cat?” Jimin calls out, kicking Jeongguk in the hip with an even bigger pout.

“Maybe I am?” Jeongguk prompts, before turning back to Yoongi expectantly.

“Not important,” Yoongi says flatly. “What are we watching?”

“No, I think this is important,” Jeongguk says, turning to him. “Who are you texting? You never text me.”

“That’s because you’re rude, kookie,” Taehyung tells him gently while waving his foot in Jeongguk’s face.

“I’m just straight and to the point,” Jeongguk says and Jimin chokes on his popcorn violently. “Who are you texting?”

“My mattress salesman,” Yoongi deadpans. “Seriously, what are we watching?”

“You found a forum for cat lovers, didn’t you?” Jeongguk hisses, wedged into his side as the movie starts. Not for the first time, Yoongi wishes he’d put Jimin between himself and Jeongguk. It’d do everyone a favor if Jeongguk would just fulfill that dream anyway and sleep on Jimin.

“Watch the movie,” Yoongi tells him.

Predictably, Jeongguk dozes off about half way through the movie, and as Yoongi’s phone vibrates in his pocket, he manages to switch out with Jimin. It’s kind of sweet to see how Jeongguk curls into Jimin’s side, eventually sagging into Jimin’s lap and curling up to him as Jimin runs fingers through his hair, soft look falling over his face.

Catching Taehyung’s eye from where he’s nestled into Namjoon’s side, they trade a small smile and a thumbs up on Taehyung’s part. Well, at least that part of tonight worked.

The text from Seokjin is less successful.

9:32 – Something is wrong with Flix :C

*

The local emergency vet is way too many sounds and sights and scary things. Most of the time waiting has Flix puffed up like a porcupine, his tail enormous and growling at the slightest noise. It has Yoongi on edge, holding the carrier to his lap and trying to calm down the agitated cat who had been having seizures when Yoongi got home to a panicked Seokjin in his apartment.

He keeps getting updates from Seokjin, small stories about the other cats, how they’re okay, with little reassuring comments. It helps a little.

When they get to see a vet, Flix is even less happy about having to come out of the box and Yoongi wants to yell at the attendant to stop manhandling his cat. He keeps his mouth shut though, watching with hands balled into fists in his pockets as they prod and poke Flix and get him checked out.

He’s alright, just has a really severe blockage in his urinary tract, crystalized from food too high in phosphorous. There is a special kind of food Yoongi can give him, and they prescribe an antibiotic and painkiller for him with instructions he can have to take home if Flix can urinate.

10:54 – Suga keeps jumping at the moths outside the window and chirping at them and Bing Bing keeps trying to play music on your computer. We miss you~ I hope Flix is okay!

Stepping out of the vet room, Yoongi doesn’t really think before he’s raising the phone to his ear and closing his eyes.

“Hello? Is everything okay? Do you need me to come down-“

“He’s okay,” Yoongi calms before Seokjin can sound more upset and set him off. “Just needs to piss before he can come home. He’s backed up.”

“I hear that happens to us when we’re old,” Seokjin muses.

“What a future to look forward to,” Yoongi says, but finds himself smiling a little none the less. “Thanks for looking after the kids.”

“Anything for you,” Seokjin says and there it is, that whole thing where Yoongi hears words that mean things but he’s not sure if they mean what he thinks they mean.

Now is not the time to get into this.

“I’ll be home as soon as we get the clear.”

“Okay, we’ll be here waiting for you,” Seokjin tells him. “Give Flix my love.”

Walking back into the vets room and crouching down to his cat, petting behind his ears, Yoongi breathes out, trying to channel calm into this poor traumatized kitty. “Hey buddy,” he says gently. “You’re going to be okay. You’ve got a lot of people looking out for you. Even Seokjin sends his love, you’ve got it all.” The gray cat turns to him and meows pitifully. “You’re going to be okay,” Yoongi says, closing his eyes and petting his cat, breathing to keep them both calm and grounded.

“We’re going to be fine.”

*

They’re fine. Totally fine. In fact, Flix is so fine on the pain killers he’s tripped out fabulous running around the house like a maniac fine. Yoongi, on the other hand, is beyond exhausted.

Emotionally, physically, mentally, verbally, metaphorically, enigmatically, all of it. To tired to deal.

“Did they sedate you too?” Seokjin laughs when Yoongi collapses onto the couch next to him and sends Bing Bing leaping from Seokjin’s lap.

“No, this is entirely natural,” Yoongi mumbles, curling automatically closer to Seokjin’s warmth. “Genuine organic exhaustion.”

The sudden feeling of fingers brushing gently through his hair has Yoongi shuddering before it melts, relaxing and wonderful. He doesn't moan, it’s more of a whimper against the tired, or a vocalization against life.

Seokjin ignores it, whatever Yoongi denies it being, and just keeps petting him, lulling him into a state of calm. Seducing him with his fingers so that Yoongi gets wild lethargic thoughts like telling Seokjin he wants to adopt him or nap on him.

Or lick him.

Very tired, much tired. Emoticon levels of tired.

Yoongi doesn’t even realize he’s dozed off against Seokjin, fingers in his hair and gradually slipping to smush against him until Seokjin is gently pushing him off.

“’m’sorry-“

“I’ll be right back, I’m just giving Flix his medicine,” Seokin tells him quietly, warm hand at his shoulder and face too close when Yoongi cracks open his eyes. “You’re okay.”

And finally Yoongi knows the words he needs. “Thank you.”

Seokjin’s smile is a warm mix of beauty and gentility. “Of course.” He cards his fingers a few more times through Yoongi’s hair, just enough to have him going back to sleep, before he steps away.

*

When Yoongi wakes, it’s in his large queen bed, surrounded by cats, with a bottle of water by his bedside and a note from Seokjin.

Everyone is medicated. Food is ready to go on the counter. Flix can’t eat the normal food. Bathroom?

Hope you slept well~

Yoongi rolls over, pushing his face into Suga’s soft fur and breathing in comfort, pushing out the confusing mix as he drifts back to sleep to the ghosting feeling of fingers in his hair and soft humming against a warm chest.

*

Yoongi meets Hoseok on accident. It’s not even with Seokjin even, but because of work, and therefore, because of Namjoon.

“This is Hoseok,” Namjoon introduces right after Yoongi has taken a bite of a breakfast pastry.

“Sup?”

“You can call me J-Hope,” Hoseok tells him with a smile and a laugh.

“No thanks, but I appreciate the offer,” Yoongi says and Hoseok laughs loudly like he’s made a funny joke. “I’d offer some of my breakfast but-“

“I’m good,” Hoseok tells him, patting his tummy. “I’m off most breads. Or anything with gluten.” Yoongi stops mid chew. “No good for me.”

“You can’t eat gluten?”

“I mean, I can, but it’s unpleasant. For everyone including myself.”

“So you are Celiac?” Yoongi frowns. This couldn’t be the same Hoseok. The one that Seokjin lives with who is depicted as nice but never visits neighbors (not that Yoongi has tried to reach out either) and has an aversion to gluten and all things pertaining to ginger.

“I have Celiac’s disease, yeah,” Hoseok says, and looks extremely put out by it. “Sucks. Why?”

“Do you live with Seokjin?”

Now both Hoseok and Namjoon are staring at him, Hoseok in a strange sort of shocked mixture and Namjoon in slowly calculating confusion. “You’re the Real Life Neko Atsume!” Hoseok suddenly shouts, pointing to him with all the drama of Phoenix Wright.

“What the fuck?” Namjoon aptly says.

“I’ve had worse names,” Yoongi reminds him. Fortunately, Namjoon just shrugs because he knows it’s true. “Does he really call me that?”

“No, he just-“ Hoseok pauses, and then squints at him. “He just calls you ‘the cat guy’.”

“Again, you’ve been called worse,” Namjoon says with a few sagely nods.

“It worked the first time, don’t murder it,” Yoongi tells him.

“You can’t murder words,” Namjoon points out. “I mean, you can figuratively and in the conceptual sense of it but in a literal-“

“Shut up, I’m meeting Hoseok, it’s a bonding moment,” Yoongi tells him, half tempted to throw his coffee at Namjoon’s face. But that would be unkind. To the coffee.

“So you’re the guy my roommate is always hanging out with,” Hoseok muses, looking him up and down. It would feel like being checked out if Yoongi wasn’t slightly disturbed by Hoseok’s facial expressions.

“And I guess Seokjin is the one that Yoongi is actually texting,” Namjoon says. When he looks at Yoongi for a response, denial, anything, Yoongi just shrugs. If Namjoon knows Hoseok and Hoseok is rooming with Seokjin it’s only a matter of time before things coincide and they find out Yoongi has actually attempted to use emoticons.

It ended with him getting a slew of pictures of neko atsume while at work because Seokjin was bored on his shift. If Yoongi grinned about them stupidly at his desk while Namjoon was at lunch, no one needs to know.

“Do you know Seokjin too?” Hoseok asks Namjoon. “That’d be amazing. Usually, I’m the one who knows people before he does. This is kind of amazing you know him before me. But then, you never leave your house, and Seokjin’s weirdly protective of you.”

“Me?” Warm, very warm. Pink ears and soft smiles and fingers carding through his hair warm.

“I’m also possibly allergic to cats though so I guess he might be doing it to keep me alive, I never know though,” Hoseok continues, completely unaware Yoongi has stopped really listening. “Anyway, you should visit sometime.”

“Fine,” Yoongi says, decisively and ignores Namjoon’s growing curiosity. “Now can we get back to work?”

“I thought we were working,” Hoseok says, looking between Namjoon and Yoongi.

“No, that was introductions,” Namjoon says. “And I see a lot more in our future.”

“Working is silent.” Yoongi turns back to his computer, eyes flickering to his phone and the small notification showing a message. From Seokjin. Probably Seokjin.

Maybe Jeongguk, but probably Seokjin.

“We work at a music company though,” Hoseok points out.

“And headphones are God’s gift to mere mortals such as ourselves,” Yoongi explains, picking up his own pair and blocking out the world.

*

It takes a few weeks for Flix to get cleared up, most of it consisting of Flix taking his meals in the bathtub (because he refused to eat on the tile floor) with Yoongi in the room with him. When Yoongi tried to leave the room, Flix got extremely upset, cried, and tried to scratch the shit out of his door. So all meals for Flix consisted of Yoongi sitting on the lid of his toilet reading up on articles and playing Neko atsume while casually petting Flix with his free hand.

It was, in short, exhausting.

The good from all of it was the Flix made a full recovery, and that somewhere in between all of it, movie night stopped being at Jimin’s crammed apartment and Namjoon and Taehyung’s insane man cave and moved down the hall.

True to his work, Hoseok had made sure the introductions extended out, and it was barely a week before everyone knew him. Seokjin seemed a little shellshocked when a whole gaggle of people showed up for a movie night he had thought was just going to be himself, Hoseok, and Yoongi, but adapted quickly.

Their apartment is much nicer in comparison. A bit bigger than Yoongi’s with a lot more set up to accommodate people and company, a larger couch and a large television instead of just computer equipment and soundboards. As everyone catches up, bantering and getting properly introduced to Hoseok, Yoongi lingers back, away from the mess of noise, and finds himself wrapped up in bringing drinks and snacks to the table.

“Thank you,” Seokjin tells him later, leaning into his side as they all line up on the couch, Seokjin and Yoongi on one end, Namjoon and Taehyung on the other, and everyone else smushed between.

“Happy to help,” Yoongi says, smiling at him as the movie begins.

It’s a very cute movie, and it takes Jeongguk complaining before they all find out Hoseok’s tolerance of most things is broadened to ‘everything scares’. It’s a fun group though, and Yoongi finds himself laughing along, jumping into the games and foolishness with some of the old energy he used to have.

Once.

Before his life became Real Life Neko Atsume.

“How did you two meet anyway?” Jimin asks, while Hoseok ruffles through his movie collection with Jeongguk.

“Who?” Seokjin asks, looking vaguely confused as Jimin stares at them. At the pointed nod, Seokjin just lets out a soft ‘oh’ and Yoongi stills.

“He brought over muffins and I didn’t want any cats getting out,” he explains.

“That’s it?” Jimin asks, looking disappointed.

“Pretty much,” Seokjin laughs gently, warm and soft beside Yoongi.

“Our story is better,” Taehyung pipes up, grinning beside Namjoon.

Namjoon looks pained. “Do we really-?”

It’s pointless though, Taehyung launching into the epic saga of how ‘Namjoon and I met and started dating’ that is usually much more embarrassing for Namjoon than it is Taehyung.

“What about you and Jeongguk?” Seokjin asks when Taehyung finishes.

“We were friends first,” Jimin says, smiling as Jeongguk continues to pick out movies, but the telltale smile on his face gives him away to eavesdropping. “Then things just went from there.”

“That’s nice,” Seokjin smiles, and Yoongi realizes slowly what’s just swung around the room.

“I need a private moment,” he says, pulling himself up from the couch and excusing himself.

Down the hall, out of the unit, back in his own apartment, in the dark of his bedroom, it’s easier to push his face into Fluffles’ fur than to think of humans.

*

It takes a few days before Seokjin winds his way back into the world Yoongi keeps. A soft knock on the door just after the kids are fed and Yoongi opens to stand there with his body blocking the entrance for any risk obsessed kitties.

“Hi,” Seokjin says, looking a little sheepish with his red ears and oversized sweater Yoongi just wants to bury in, smelling of detergent and flowers from Seokjin’s life surrounded by them.

“Hi.”

“Is everything okay?” Seokjin asks, keeping his voice down.

It would be easier to lie, to just say ‘yes’ because that’s easier than digging deeper, than pulling up old stuff that’s long ago been buried at the bottom of his receipt drawers. It would be easier…

But in the last few days when Yoongi has shut out the rest to curl up in music and the darkness with his cats, he’s missed Seokjin.

“No,” Yoongi admits, and Seokjin actually looks relieved.

“I’m glad I wasn’t mistaken then,” he says. “Can I help? Did I do something wrong or-“

“I don’t-“ Yoongi pauses, and waits, trying to process the way to say this, what words he needs and finally, after it has been spinning for so long, just gives up. “I like cats more than I like people.”

“I kind of gathered that,” Seokjin tells him, and his smile is amused and fond, no judgment, just patient. It feels safe.

“But I like you,” Yoongi admits. “Which is weird.”

“Maybe I’m a cat.”

“You’re not,” Yoongi tells him and grimaces when Seokjin makes a silly face. “Stop it, that’s gross.”

“If it counts for anything, I like you too,” Seokjin says. “So, can we start there?”

Watching Seokjin for a moment, Yoongi steps back, motioning him inside first. Geronimo is already waiting on the couch when they get to the living room, and immediately arches up for pets when Yoongi walks near enough. Sitting down beside the cat, Seokjin sinks down on the other side, watching and waiting.

It’s easier to sit there, petting Geronimo and waiting as the rest of the cats finish up their dinner and wander in, curious about what’s going on. Trix jumps up onto Seokjin’s lap as soon as she notices him, Fluffles meandering up until she’s situated between them with Suga sits by the windowsill, her long tail swishing as she watches them.

They’ve all been there, watching, and slowly absorbing Seokjin into the apartment and their lives as if he belongs with them, as if he’s one of them. Or another human like Yoongi is their human, protective and affectionate towards him. Because he’s safe.

Bing Bing walks in last, her tail straight up in curiosity and she jump up to butt her head against Yoongi’s chest, begging for attention.

“When I first met you,” Yoongi begins, sliding his hand down Bing Bing’s back, her fur soft under his hands. “I got the same feeling I got when I took all of these kids in.” Seokjin remains silent, but he’s watching Yoongi when Yoongi turns to look at him.

“Compassion?”

“Adoption.”

“I don’t really want you to adopt me,” Seokjin says. “I think I’m a bit old.”

“Not-“ Yoongi sighs, closing his eyes. “It’s more like-“

He pauses, words faltering as he feels a hand rest over his own gently, fingers curling around his own reassuringly. “I get it.”

“Okay,” Yoongi says, letting out a breath. “So, yes.”

“Yes?” Seokjin repeats and Yoongi opens his eyes to look at him with a small tentative smile.

“We can start there.”

Fluffles’ loud purrs rumble through the air, an all Yoongi can do is smile as Seokjin’s own smile spreads over his face.

“Okay,” he says, and squeezes Yoongi’s hand once, just enough for Yoongi to squeeze back.

 

 

I can't believe I literally wrote this for absolutely no reason I have so many better things to be doing omg