It’s very common to wake to Hoseok’s distinct screaming and Taehyung’s boisterous laugh, Jin’s squeaking laughter that sounds like windshield wipers and Namjoon and Yoongi’s bickering, but what isn’t common is waking to a nearly silent dorm.
Jeongguk is typically the last to wake, so it’s a surprise when he wakes before dawn and before anyone else when the dorm is still and quiet, peaceful. He’s wide awake, even though he hardly got any sleep the previous night from their schedules running late, but he’s awake and he doesn't know why. He hasn’t been able to sleep well recently, not since Taehyung started to avoid him.
Well, not outright avoid him, but he doesn’t look Jeongguk in the eyes as long, and he definitely doesn’t approach him if there are no other members around. He wonders if he said something wrong, if he somehow made Taehyung uncomfortable, but whenever he tries to bring it up, Taehyung bolts up and stutters something about being late, or having to do something that he forgot about.
It’s infuriating, to say the least.
Jeongguk is an awkward person, but not with the members. He knows he can always be himself and not be afraid, but he can’t help but wonder if he went too far with Taehyung, or if there’s a part of him that Taehyung doesn’t like. He doesn't know, but it’s been swimming in his head for weeks now.
He sits up with a sigh, eyes trailing over the lump that is Namjoon, curled up in a cocoon of blankets, and realizes that he won’t be going back to sleep anytime soon.
It’s when he’s sitting up, stretching his arms over his head, that he hears it.
Hoseok screams, a short, distinct one that sounds very panicked and very scared, not at all like his usual noises, and Namjoon jolts beside him, the sound like an alarm in their ears. Jeongguk doesn’t bother to pull on pants, stumbling out of his bed in nothing but boxers and yanks open the door, Seokjin at his door as well, eyes wide.
“What was that?” He rasps out, voice still thick with sleep, and Seokjin just shakes his head, eyebrows knit together.
Jimin’s panicked voice can be heard through the thin walls, something about calming down and to not wake everyone up, but Jeongguk is tailing Seokjin to the shared room of Jimin, Hoseok, and Taehyung, Namjoon making his way across the dorm and joining them two, concern evident on his face.
Seokjin doesn’t bother to knock, opening the door quickly, mouth open to ask what’s wrong, but the sight before them has all of them stopping in their tracks, eyes wide and jaws clicking open in pure shock.
“What the fuck?” Seokjin hisses and Jimin shushes him, eyes blown and orange hair a complete mess.
Between Hoseok and Jimin’s bodies, asleep on Taehyung’s bed is a small, squishy child.
A child. A fucking baby.
Jeongguk faintly wonders if he’s still dreaming.
“Why the fuck is there a kid in your room?” Namjoon questions like he’s not really surprised, and Hoseok throws his hands up.
“I don’t fucking know. I literally woke up to this two seconds ago, don't ask me,” Hoseok hisses back, eyes wild, and Jeongguk comes to a dizzying realization.
“Where’s Tae?” Jeongguk’s sharp voice cuts through their conversation, and Jimin’s eyes go wider, if possible. “Jimin, where is he?”
“Don’t ask me! We all went to bed like we usually do, I saw him—he didn’t sneak out. And why would there be a kid in place of him, huh?”
“Guys,” Jeongguk says, “Guys, turn him over.”
Seokjin shoots him a surprised look, and Hoseok looks faintly scandalized.
Nobody makes a move to touch the sleeping, small child, still curled up in Taehyung’s blankets on Taehyung’s bed, thumb between soft lips. Jeongguk groans, annoyed, “Fine, since you guys are too scared, I’ll do it.”
Noises of protest chorus around him, and he pushes past Namjoon to make his way over to the kid, baby, whatever the fuck it is, and reaches out a tentative hand, resting it on his shoulder, and pushes at the soft skin until the child squirms, turning over onto his back, splayed out in a starfish position, completely swamped in the blankets and so small, so soft. Jeongguk feels his breath catch at the familiar flutter of long lashes and the slope of his nose with a mole at the tip, lips pursed around a thumb, black hair cut into a hairstyle that looks so, so familiar, and Jeongguk stumbles back in shock.
“Why does he look like Taehyung,” Hoseok states, “Why the fuck does he look like a three-year-old version of Tae—”
“Oh god, what the fuck, he even has the same moles—”
“I’m still dreaming, right? Namjoon, pinch me—”
They all quiet when the child shifts, making a soft, confused noise, lashes fluttering open to reveal wide, chocolate brown eyes, eyes that Jeongguk would know anywhere, filled with sleepiness and staring right at him.
Everyone is holding their breaths, waiting for what the child will do, and a high, twinkling voice fills their ears. “G-gukkiiie.”
Jeongguk jolts in place, eyes wide, and the child reaches out a small hand, large, doe eyes staring up at him, filled with stars and dreams, and Jeongguk doesn’t know what to do. When the child’s lip wobbles, eyebrows pulled together, Jimin shoves him down hard onto the bed, Jeongguk letting out a protest.
“Y-yeah?” He says, and the child crawls out from underneath the blankets, swamped in what looks to be Taehyung’s nightshirt, rosy cheek creased from the pillowcase, and Seokjin lets out a soft cooing noise, Jeongguk’s heart melting at the sight. He has no idea how to deal with kids, absolutely no fucking clue, and the child presses a tiny hand over the top of his bare thigh, crawling up and into his lap, curling up against him so easily that Jeongguk feels his breath catch and his heart stutter, frozen.
His hands come around, tentative, to embrace the child, surprised at how small he is compared to Jeongguk, and Jimin chokes out a strange noise.
“Excuse me,” Seokjin whispers in a sweet voice, seating himself on the bed next to Jeongguk, “Can you tell me your name?”
The child peeks out from Jeongguk’s chest, hands splayed over Jeongguk’s abdomen, before burying his face in Jeongguk’s chest again, rubbing his cheek against the warm skin, and Hoseok coos.
Seokjin gives him a pointed look, and Jeongguk groans internally, trying to ignore Jimin’s face and the way he’s holding back laughter.
“Hey, uhm—can you tell them your name, please?” Jeongguk murmurs, and he makes a soft, whiny noise, face heating up against Jeongguk’s skin.
“He’s blushing,” Jimin squeaks; quiet, completely lost to the child’s charm.
His nails scrape against Jeongguk’s stomach, and he raises his head, just barely, lips brushing against Jeongguk’s broad chest when he whispers, “Taehyung.”
The confirmation hangs in the air, heavy, confusion and shock rushing through all of them. How the fuck Taehyung turned into a kid overnight, how he’s still Taehyung, they don’t know, and it’s very worrying now that one of their members is a fucking child.
“Oh god, what are we going to do,” Hoseok moans, “What have we done in our past lives to deserve this—”
“Shit, fuck, we have a schedule today and one of our lead dancers is a child who can’t even fucking talk.” Jimin groans and Jeongguk shoots them a death glare over the top of Taehyung’s chocolate brown locks.
Taehyung makes a scared noise at their loud voices, curling into Jeongguk’s chest, and Jeongguk spits, “Can you guys maybe shut the hell up? And not cuss around him, please?”
Namjoon nods, “No point in scaring Taehyung. He’s just a kid, remember, guys? And where the hell is Yoongi hyung?”
“Taehyungie, baby, do you know who we are?” Seokjin murmurs, leaning closer to look at Taehyung, but he shies away, curling into Jeongguk.
“F-family,” Taehyung stutters, and his breath whooshes out of him.
“Oh my god, I’m actually crying,” Hoseok squeals, and Jeongguk rolls his eyes, “Real tears guys, real tears.”
“I called manager hyung,” Yoongi rasps from the doorway, and they all whip around to face him, surprised at his sudden appearance, “He’s bringing clothes and… Utilities. Apparently, this is a common thing for Taehyung.”
“How the fuck is turning into a child a common thing?” Jimin hisses and Jeongguk shoots him a withering glare, “Shit, sorry. I mean, sorry.”
“Jesus, Jimin, can you watch your language for like three seconds? Fucking hell,” Yoongi mutters, and Jeongguk doesn’t even bother to correct them at this point, running his fingers through Taehyung’s silky locks.
“Aegi syndrome, or baby syndrome. It happens once a year to him, but I guess, this time, we caught it.” Yoongi mutters and Seokjin looks like he’s going to have an aneurism. “Manager said it happens to other idols too because of extreme stress.”
“And we’re just now figuring this out?” Jeongguk questions and Yoongi shrugs, “We’re always with him.”
“Remember all those times he would go away to ‘visit his family’?”
“Oh, shit,” Jimin mutters, and Yoongi rolls his eyes.
“Yeah, shit. I don’t think it lasts more than a week.” Taehyung shifts nervously in his arms, making a strange noise, and Jeongguk tightens his hold on him unconsciously.
“Hey, Tae, how’re you feeling?” Jeongguk murmurs, leaning down to whisper in his ear while the other members talk over them, and Taehyung whimpers, digging his chin into his chest, eyes squeezed shut.
“S’loud, Gukkie,” He mumbles, and Jeongguk resists the urge to press a kiss to the top of his head, “Wanna nap. In there,” He points over to the doorway, “Yours.”
“My bed?” Jeongguk asks, and Taehyung nods, shy. He’s surprised—he would have thought a three-year-old Taehyung would be much louder, but he seems shy, a faint blush dusting over his cheeks.
“Wanna be with you. Mine,” Taehyung’s hand curls into a fist over his chest, scraping his nails against his skin like the marks of his nails will brand him.
Jeongguk smiles weakly, “Yeah, okay, baby, we can do that.” He’s never heard Taehyung refer to him as his.
“Jeongguk, you have a schedule soon with Hoseok and Jimin,” Namjoon reminds him, still perched against the doorway, “It’s only for a few hours, but a few of us can watch over Tae until you come back. Yoongi managed to get the rest of the day cleared for you.”
Jeongguk smiles, “Thanks, hyung. What about Tae? Is he going to be like this… Forever?”
Yoongi shakes his head, “Nah, a week max. I guess this happens to some idols that get too stressed and reach their limit. Apparently, it’s happened to Jaebum and Youngjae, Mina, Hyeri, Jiyoung—”
“Yeah, I got it,” Jeongguk holds up a hand, and he can feel Taehyung’s head bobbing like he can’t hold it up, “I guess we’ll just have to deal with it until then?”
“We’ll have to take turns taking care of him,” Namjoon says, “We can avoid schedules but not for long. If we all disappear off the radar then fans will start to worry. Jeongguk, go and get ready, alright? Me and Seokjin can handle him.”
Jeongguk sighs, “Tae, hey, I’ve gotta go now, okay?”
Taehyung whines, clinging tighter to him, desperate, and Hoseok is grinning knowingly. “Don’t go! Gukkieee, don’t leave me,” He sobs, tears welling in his wide, almond eyes, and Jeongguk feels his heart lurch, a strange feeling overtaking him at the sight of Taehyung so distressed. His sudden strong reaction is shocking, and the other members seem surprised too to see tears welling in Taehyung’s eyes.
“It’s only for a little bit, okay? I’ll be back before you know it,” Jeongguk murmurs, trying to calm him down, but Taehyung wails, reaching out to tug on his ear, his other hand splaying over his collarbone.
“Wanna go! Please?” Taehyung pouts, staring up at him with wide, swimming eyes, and god, how is he supposed to say no to that face?
“You can’t go, baby,” Jeongguk says, and Taehyung lets out a little sob, “People will be surprised if they see that you’re small now.”
Taehyung sniffles, and Jeongguk wipes at the stray tears over his soft cheeks, heart stuttering strangely. “I can’t be lidde? W-why?”
“You used to be big, sweetie, so people will be confused. They still love you, but they aren’t used to little Taehyungie.” Jeongguk explains in a soft tone, careful not to upset Taehyung anymore than he already is.
“I’m not used to Jeongguk acting nice,” Jimin mutters, and Hoseok lets out a noise of agreement.
“It’s kind of gross and cute. I’m trying not to gag,” Hoseok responds in a whisper.
“B-but,” Taehyung’s lower lip wobbles, and Jeongguk shushes him with a kiss on his small nose, and he clams up, a pretty pink blush rising in his cheeks, a squeak escaping his lips.
“No buts. Jin and Joonie hyung will take care of you while I’m gone, okay?” Jeongguk murmurs, and Taehyung nods, pacified. He grants Taehyung a smile, and Taehyung looks dazed, wet lashes fluttering over his doe eyes. He’s surprised with himself on how he’s acting, but it’s Taehyung, and it just seems to come naturally, but the longer he stares into Taehyung’s eyes; the less and less he wants to leave him.
“Actually, can you clear the rest of my schedule for today?” Jeongguk asks, eyes wide and trained on Taehyung’s, unable to tear his gaze away, and Seokjin makes a noise.
“I mean, do you think it’s necessary?” Yoongi asks, and Jeongguk still doesn’t look away, crumbling at the sight of Taehyung’s pleading eyes, his pouty lips.
“Um. I mean, what if you don’t take care of him right?” Jeongguk asks, brushing a brown lock out of Taehyung’s eyes, running a thumb over his soft cheek.
“You’re about as clueless as us when it comes to taking care of kids, you dipshit,” Jimin says, and Hoseok barks out a laugh.
He scrambles for a better excuse, and when he can’t come up with one, he turns to face them, “Can you just clear it for today? I can’t think of a better excuse.”
“Well, at least he’s honest,” Seokjin mutters, and Yoongi sighs.
“Whatever. I’ll see what I can do,” Yoongi says, and Taehyung breaks out into a sunny smile, the first one of the morning, letting out a gleeful noise, giggling as he jumps in his spot, smile so wide and beautiful and pure.
“Holy shit, he’s so cute, oh my god,” Jimin moans, wiping at his face dramatically, and Seokjin nods in sympathy, Jeongguk agreeing internally.
“’M hungry,” Taehyung jumps again, giggling, tipping forward dangerously, and he plants his small hands on Jeongguk’s thighs so that he doesn’t fall, sticking his butt out to balance, and a laugh bubbles out of Jeongguk’s throat.
“What do you want to eat, baby?” Jeongguk asks, the pet name slipping out of his lips so easily, and Taehyung plops back down, staring up at him with happy eyes.
“F-food… Pancakes!” He exclaims like the sudden thought is the best thing he’s ever come up with, eyes lighting up, and Jeongguk makes a humming noise, already sensing Seokjin leaving the room.
“Seokjin hyung is going to make you some, all right?” Jeongguk says, and Taehyung nods quickly before his face sets in determination, nose scrunching up cutely as he leans forward and squishes a hand against Jeongguk’s cheek, poking his nose, and Jeongguk grins, letting Taehyung touch curiously, his soft hand surprisingly gentle.
“P-pretty. Gukkie is pretty,” Taehyung mumbles, a rosy blush washing over his cheeks and nose, and Jeongguk chokes, Taehyung’s fingers pressing down on his lower lip, and he lets out a nervous laugh, holding Taehyung’s small waist so that he doesn’t fall face first into Jeongguk.
“I can’t believe this,” Hoseok chokes back a laugh, and Jeongguk feels an embarrassed blush rise up his ears and neck, and he jerks away from Taehyung, lips parted. Taehyung pouts in confusion, hand still outstretched.
“Uh. I need to pee,” He announces, and Namjoon is grinning, Jimin holding a hand over his mouth to hide his smile, and he bolts to the bathroom, passing Seokjin on the way.
He doesn’t hear the way Taehyung chokes on his name, doesn’t see the way he hangs his head and wills away tears that form in his eyes, and definitely doesn’t see the way Jimin goes to hold him, arms that aren’t his circling Taehyung’s small, crumpled form.
He spends a good amount of time brushing his teeth and trying to not worry too much about how the other members are taking care of Taehyung. Seokjin is the only one who has some inkling of an idea on how to deal with kids, but when it’s Taehyung as a child, it somehow comes naturally to him, and he tries not to think too hard about why that is.
“Jeongguk!” Jimin’s voice shouts, and he jolts, spitting into the sink quickly and yanking on some sweats on the floor of the bathroom and hopes these are his as he stumbles out of the bathroom, sliding over and into the kitchen, eyes wild.
“What? What happened?” His voice comes out panicked, and he ignores the looks of amusement on Namjoon and Seokjin’s faces, eyes picking out Taehyung’s small form curled in Jimin’s chest, staring at him with wide eyes.
“Taehyungie wanted you,” Jimin shrugs, bouncing Taehyung on his hip slightly, and Taehyung reaches out with small hands for him, making a desperate noise in the back of his throat when Jeongguk isn’t quick enough, and he lifts him from Jimin’s arms easily, Taehyung’s arms and legs wrapping around him completely, burying his face in his neck, a content sigh breaching his lips.
“Isn’t it a little weird that all Taehyung wants is Jeongguk?” Hoseok asks, a shit-eating grin on his face, and Jeongguk scowls. It’s not weird. He’s just… He just happens to be good with the kid version of Taehyung, for some reason.
Taehyung rubs his cheek against Jeongguk’s exposed neck, squirming in his arms to latch on tighter, and Jeongguk feels faintly uncomfortable with all of their eyes on him, knowing grins plastered on their faces.
“The fuck are you looking at?” He grunts, and Jimin winks at him.
“Nothing, nothing,” He sing-songs, and Jeongguk rolls his eyes.
Taehyung throws a fit when he tries to put him down in a chair by himself, plastering a pout on his face that he seems to know Jeongguk can’t resist, and when Jeongguk asks where he wants to sit, he says his lap. Jeongguk really, really can’t resist when Taehyung tugs on his ear, small hand splayed over his neck, and whispers a small ‘please?’
So this is how he ended up with a small Taehyung in his lap, mouth wide open to be fed by Jeongguk, eyebrows furrowed in concentration, mouth closing over the fork and cheeks puffing out to chew the pancakes, eyes crinkling cutely and cream smeared over his mouth.
Jeongguk wipes it away with his thumb, dabbing at Taehyung’s mouth with a napkin, and Taehyung keeps chewing, malleable and pliant in his hands now that he has food in his stomach. He takes a bite for himself when Taehyung looks at him with expectant eyes, and feeds Taehyung \\a strawberry, his eyes crinkling and full of so much purity and happiness that Jeongguk feels it as well, deep in his chest when Taehyung makes little content noises when he feeds him.
“Good?” He asks, ignoring the eyes on him and Taehyung, and he nods quickly, swinging his feet back and forth in Jeongguk’s lap, still clad in only an oversized shirt that is definitely Taehyung’s.
It’s later that their manager is at their dorm with a backpack full of kids clothes and Taehyung’s favorite toys, an apologetic smile on his face, and offers to take Taehyung to his parents, but when Taehyung catches wind of that he scrambles over to Jeongguk and latches on, shaking his head furiously, and Jeongguk is in the same boat.
“They’re inseparable at this point,” Jimin whispers to their manager when Jeongguk isn’t paying attention, showing Taehyung how the iron man doll’s chest will light up if you say the right words, an animated grin on his face when Taehyung giggles in surprise, clapping his hands together.
“Christ, what did Jeongguk do to him?” He mutters, and Jimin laughs.
“Nothing, actually. Taehyung was like that ever since he woke up,” Jimin shrugs, but there’s a knowing glint in his eyes, a smirk on his face. “Let’s just say, Taehyung might favor Jeongguk just a bit.”
At some point they were left alone, Taehyung giggling when Jeongguk pretends to fly away as iron man, hands shooting up in the air with grabby hands open wide, and Jeongguk pulls him up and into his arms, spinning him around to show that they’re flying.
“Fly, Gukkie!” Taehyung screams, a high pitched laugh escaping his lips when Jeongguk lifts him up further, so incredibly light and small, and runs around with Taehyung’s arms out as if they were both flying, laughing and smiling.
It’s when they both have collapsed on the living room floor, panting and laughing, that Taehyung curls up into his chest like he can’t stay away, and Jeongguk feels so pleased. Taehyung has been avoiding him for weeks before he turned into a child, and now that he isn’t, it feels so good and he worries that when Taehyung goes back to normal he’ll continue avoiding him.
“Hey, can I ask you something, Taehyungie?” He says, and Taehyung makes a noise, squirming to latch onto Jeongguk’s chest tighter, molding against him so perfectly.
“Do you remember what it was like when you were big?”
Taehyung blinks, thick lashes tickling his skin, and says, “Y-yes. T’was sad. I was tired, and my throat and tummy hurt.”
Jeongguk feels his throat tighten, a frown pulling at his lips. Taehyung never told him he was in pain. “Can you tell me why you weren’t talking to me for a little bit?”
Taehyung clams up, burying his face against Jeongguk’s chest, and he sighs, running a hand through his silky locks, a comforting gesture that Taehyung leans into, eyes fluttering like he can’t stay awake, but there’s a blush dusting across his cheeks.
“Hmm?” He prompts, and Taehyung huffs, pouting.
“Cause you’re… Pretty.”
Jeongguk blinks. “You didn’t talk to me cause I’m pretty?”
“Mhm,” Taehyung nods his head like he’s trying to convince himself, and Jeongguk suddenly regrets trying to have a conversation with a three-year-old.
It’s when Taehyung is dozing off in his arms, mouth parted and drooling slightly on his chest, that Yoongi comes out into the living room with a frown on his face.
“Sorry, Kook, I couldn’t get your vocal lessons canceled. It’s only for a few hours, and it looks like you tired him out, right?” Yoongi makes his way over to them lying on the living room floor and reaches out for Taehyung. He has to resist the urge to pull Taehyung closer, and lets Yoongi pick him up, sound asleep now.
“Yeah, yeah that’s fine. Just make sure someone watches him, okay? And get him dressed in something else.” Jeongguk says, huffing when he stands, and Yoongi grunts, taking little Taehyung into his shared room with Seokjin, and Jeongguk pushes away the churning feeling of worry. It’s fine, it’ll be fine. He has no reason to worry, not when he trusts his members with everything, and as he pulls on clothes and makes his way out of the dorm with a teasing Jimin, he tries to convince himself that Taehyung will be fine.
Everything is not fine. When he comes home to a quiet dorm with Jimin beside him, a sick feeling overtakes him, a weird sensation, and he makes a beeline for Seokjin and Yoongi’s room, eyes wide.
He shoves open their door, and when there’s no Taehyung in sight, Seokjin and Yoongi curled up and sleeping, he goes over and shakes them awake, Jimin standing in the doorway.
“Yoongi. Yoongi, where’s Taehyung?” He says, and the panic hasn’t hit yet. He could be anywhere in the dorm, in any room, and Yoongi groans, rolling over to glare at him.
“I don’t know—he was sleeping with us. Have you checked the other rooms?”
He’s out the door before Yoongi can finish his sentence, checking every room in hopes of finding Taehyung, hands frantic as they strip the beds of blankets, checking under the beds and looking in the bathrooms, throat tightening the longer he looks and the longer he doesn’t find Taehyung.
“Taehyung? Taehyung, baby, this isn’t funny,” He calls, and Jimin is already speaking into the phone, probably to Hoseok and Namjoon, and his hands begin to shake, his breath coming quick, and he shuts his eyes as an attempt to calm himself down before he starts yelling.
“Namjoon doesn’t know where he is. They’re at a radio show—” Jimin cuts off when Seokjin and Yoongi make it into the living room, eyes wide and scared, and Jeongguk directs his glare at Yoongi, uncaring that he’ll get an ass whooping later for yelling at his hyungs, but he doesn’t care, Taehyung is missing.
“I was gone for three hours and you fucking lost him?” Jeongguk’s voice raises at the end, not quite a shout but shaking with anger, fear, and Seokjin shakes his head, biting down on his lip.
“He was sleeping with us, Jeongguk, where could he have gone—”
“You tell me!” He throws his hands up, and wracks his brain for where Taehyung could possibly be, and oh god, he’s so fucking small, if he went outside a car might not have seen him, he could have tripped and hurt himself, and he’s grabbing his phone and jacket, slamming the door open and shouting Taehyung’s name, praying that he’ll show up, racing down the road to the first place that he can think of, Jimin calling after him.
He’s choking with fear now, running as fast as he possibly can to make it to their practice room, calling Taehyung’s name and checking every corner just in case he got scared on the road, and when he bursts his way into the dance room, panting and gasping, Taehyung cries out for him, tears sliding down his cheeks as he lets out gasping wails.
“Oh, god, Taehyung,” He chokes out, taking shaky steps right up to Taehyung’s small form before he collapses and pulls Taehyung close, squeezing him so hard and gasping, relief washing over him in dizzy waves. “Taehyung, oh my god, baby—”
“I’m s-so sorry, Gukkie,” Taehyung sobs, clutching at his shirt, and Jeongguk pulls back, brushing his hair back frantically to look into his eyes.
“Why did you go by yourself! You can’t do that, Tae, please don’t ever do that again—” He chokes out, and Taehyung sobs harder, shaking his head.
“What if you got hurt?” He shouts, chest rising and falling quickly, so fucking relieved but so scared, what if Taehyung got hurt because of him—
Taehyung cowers, “I-I’m s-sorry, Gukkie,” He cries out, and Jeongguk chokes on a whimper, pulling Taehyung close to him and shushing him, pressing kisses over the top of his head, his wet cheeks and nose, cupping his face.
“I’m sorry, baby, I didn’t mean to yell,” He coos, rocking Taehyung back and forth, and Taehyung hiccups on several sobs, trembling, “I was so scared, I’m sorry, I was just so scared sweetie. It’s okay now, everything’s okay, you’re fine, I’m here, I’m here, I’m—” He presses his mouth to the top of Taehyung’s head, and Taehyung whimpers, wrapping his arms and legs around Jeongguk, and he strokes his hair, shaking with relief.
“I t-thought you left me,” Taehyung chokes out, and Jeongguk shakes his head, squeezing Taehyung tighter.
“I would never leave you, baby, I promise. I’m always going to be here for you, okay? I promise I always will. I’ll be here for you no matter what, even when you’re big, even when you’re small, okay? Just don’t do something like that again, Tae, I love you—”
Taehyung pulls back, eyes wide, “R-really? You… love me?” He whispers, blinking and Jeongguk nods quickly, a smile cracking his face, and he wipes away the stray tears on his cheeks.
“Yeah, Tae, of course I do,” He says, and Taehyung’s beautiful, beautiful eyes stare up at him with wonder and awe.
“You love big Taehyungie?” Taehyung asks, and Jeongguk pauses for a moment.
“Of course. I love every Taehyungie, I love you when you’re little and big and everything in between,” He admits, and Taehyung breaks out into a gleaming smile, lashes clumped together from stray tears, and Jeongguk thinks he’s the luckiest person to know someone like Taehyung, someone as wonderful and amazing as him.
“Taehyungie loves Gukkie too,” Taehyung says, shy, and Jeongguk grins, pressing a kiss to Taehyung’s forehead, letting his eyes slip shut to try and calm his racing heart, so full of relief.
They sit there for seconds, minutes, hours, wrapped up in each other until they both stop shaking, and Jeongguk can’t stop running his hands over Taehyung, checking to see if he’s alive and well, if he’s still there, pressing kisses all over his face until Taehyung giggles tiredly, leaning into the affection with a loopy smile.
“Baby, we have to get back, okay?” Jeongguk says, and Taehyung sighs, a flicker of something much more mature flashing in his eyes before it’s gone, and Taehyung latches himself onto Jeongguk, demanding to be carried. He indulges him easily, not wanting to let go of Taehyung himself, and they walk back to the dorm, Jeongguk listening with patience to Taehyung’s dream about iron man.
When they make it back to the dorm, they’re flocked immediately, the worried faces of their members filling his vision, and he lets them fawn over a sleepy Taehyung, relief evident on their faces, Jimin nearly dying with relief.
“I guess Jeongguk is better with kids than we thought,” Namjoon says later after they’ve all settled down and are getting ready for bed, and Jeongguk shakes his head.
“Nah, just Taehyung,” He murmurs and leads Taehyung into his room, “Just him.”
He brushes his teeth with Taehyung, showing him how to hold the toothbrush properly, wiping away the mess when Taehyung forgets to spit into the sink, washing his face with a washcloth even when Taehyung pouts, gripping at his bicep to try and push him away, Jeongguk smiling at his scrunched up face.
When Jeongguk falls into bed, completely exhausted with Taehyung attached to him, he feels a hand reach out and touch his face, trying to get his attention, squishing his cheek.
“Mm?” He mumbles, turning over to face Taehyung, and he nibbles on his lower lip, suddenly nervous. “What’s wrong, Tae?”
“Will you give kisses to big Taehyungie too?” He whispers, soft, and Jeongguk smiles.
“Of course I will. I’ll give him all the kisses in the world, and I’ll tell him how amazing and special he is, and that it’s okay if he’s stressed out sometimes. I’ll tell him that I’ll always be there for him and I’ll make him tea if his throat hurts. But you have to tell big Taehyungie to not avoid me anymore, okay? Can you do that?” He says it like it’s a secret, whispering it, and Taehyung giggles, curling his small hand into a fist between them, eyes bright and glittering, even in the dark.
“I can,” He says, determined, and Jeongguk gives him a warm smile.
“Let’s sleep now, okay?” Jeongguk runs a hand through his hair, pushing it away from his forehead, Taehyung blinking up at him, sleepy.
“Cuddles?” He asks, soft like that’s the only thing he could ever want, and Jeongguk hums, pulling Taehyung into his chest, pressing a kiss to the top of his head.
“Goodnight, baby,” He murmurs into his hair, and Taehyung curls a fist in his nightshirt, rubbing his cheek against the exposed hot skin of his neck.
“Goodnight, Gukkie,” Taehyung responds, and he lets himself fall into the rhythm of Taehyung’s breathing, his small warmth pressed against him, fall into the blankets of unconsciousness.
When he wakes, Taehyung isn’t beside him.
He wakes up quicker than he ever has, shooting up from his bed and nearly falls out of it, stumbling out and into the living room, panic surging through him again, and shit, shit, did Taehyung try to leave again? Fuck, how long was he gone, he’s probably at the studio again—
He freezes, spotting a familiar form in the kitchen, tall and broad, and makes his way over cautiously, heart still racing.
“Taehyung?” He says, cautious, and Taehyung turns to flash him a bright smile, and oh. Taehyung is back to normal.
“Hey, Gukkie,” Taehyung says, his deep, smooth voice washing over him, the familiar crinkle of his warm eyes and his soft mouth sending a wave of peace through him, and he takes a shaky step forward, worried that Taehyung will avoid him again, and when he doesn’t, Jeongguk reaches out at the same time Taehyung does.
Jeongguk presses him close, fitting together like two puzzle pieces, and Jeongguk feels a sigh of relief escape him, winding his arms around Taehyung to hold him closer. He loves little Taehyung, but he’s missed big Taehyung more than words can describe.
“I’m sorry for avoiding you,” Taehyung rumbles, nuzzling into his neck, and Jeongguk shivers.
“Will you tell me why?” He asks, and Taehyung huffs a laugh against the soft skin of his neck. He pulls back, eyes crinkled and glittering, and Jeongguk feels his breath catch, feels his heart stutter in his chest.
“Because I like you,” He says, looking down at his feet, and Jeongguk lets out a choked laugh, surprised but completely happy and content.
“It’s a good thing I like you too, you asshole,” Jeongguk murmurs, and Taehyung’s head shoots up, eyes wide. “You’ve put me through hell, you know?”
Taehyung pouts, strangely similar to the child version of him, “I’m sorry. I didn't mean to—”
“Hey, hey, it’s okay,” He soothes, running a hand through Taehyung’s hair, “It was really cute, actually. Little you doesn’t talk as much.”
“Shut up,” Taehyung shoves him lightly, laughing, and Jeongguk grins. “So, did you really mean it?”
He looks nervous, now, and Jeongguk cocks his head. “Did you really mean it when you said you would always be there for me?”
Jeongguk’s lips part, “Of course I did, Taehyung. I’m always going to be here for you, okay? And the next time you’re stressed like that, let me know. I’ll always try to help.” He brushes a thumb over Taehyung’s cheekbone, gentle, and Taehyung leans into the touch easily.
“Will you give me kisses too?”
Jeongguk chokes on a laugh, “Yeah. Yeah, I will,” He whispers, and teases Taehyung’s lower lip with his teeth before they kiss, a gentle one full of light and something that tastes so, so sweet, and Jeongguk can’t get enough of it, the taste of Taehyung incredibly addicting. When they break apart, foreheads pressed together, Jeongguk thinks that he’ll go through anything to see Taehyung happy and smiling with no care in the world like he was when he was a child.
“Hey, Tae?” He asks, and Taehyung hums. “Any reason why that iron man toy was your favorite?” He grins, and Taehyung rolls his eyes, punching him lightly on the chest.
“Oh, shut up,” He says, and kisses him to silence him, arms intertwined behind his neck and mouth so, so warm, laughing happily against his lips.
"It's okay. Iron man has nothing on you."
It might be very common to wake to Hoseok’s distinct screaming and Taehyung’s boisterous laugh, Jin’s squeaking laughter that sounds like windshield wipers and Namjoon and Yoongi’s bickering, but what isn’t common is waking before the members with Taehyung in his arms and Taehyung’s mouth on his, and what definitely isn’t common is Hoseok’s cat calls and Jimin muttering an I fucking knew it.
“You owe me, you shit,” Hoseok snickers, shoving Jimin lightly, and Jimin groans. “Pay up.”
“Fuck you. If turning into a baby will get my crush to notice me, then I might just have to do the same thing,” Jimin mumbles, mostly to himself, and Hoseok gives him a strange look.
“Huh? What crush? Why have I not known about this?” Hoseok sounds faintly hurt, and Jimin rolls his eyes, sighing.
“No crush, hyung, I was kidding,” He groans, even though he wasn’t, and makes his way back into their room, Hoseok tailing him.
“Wait, I need to know everything about this right now,” Hoseok calls, and Jimin crosses his arms.
He can’t exactly tell Hoseok he has a crush on him, and has for a while, and he can’t avoid him either, so when he wakes later that day feeling significantly smaller and less like he can form complete sentences, a whimper escaping his lips, he internally smacks himself.
And so it begins again.