“Great job, Tae,” Seokjin calls, glancing down to check the memory on his Canon. “Is Jimin ready?” he asks nobody in particular.
However, Jungkook, always nearby, answers. “It’s Hobi-hyung next,” he tells the elder, passing Seokjin a memory card, already anticipating. “Then Jiminie. Yoongi-hyung is last, today.”
Seokjin hums, flashing a smile at his assistant - thank God for Jeon Jungkook.
While Jungkook moves on to adjust the set, switching out props and changing the backdrop, Seokjin humors his youngest model, loading the memory card on his laptop to show him the shots he got.
“ Ohh .. wow,” Taehyung breathes, his lined eyes wide. “I like these, with the chair.”
The elder nods, patting the other on the shoulder. “Yeah, I like those the best, I think. The ones with you against the wall are hot, too. Great shoot today, Tae.”
The younger grins, beaming with pride. “Thanks, hyung,” he giggles, before disappearing off the set, already shrugging out of his sheer, periwinkle tank top.
Seokjin smiles after him, taking some time to sit down, rest his feet, while he inserts the new memory card. Jungkook takes a seat next to him, his job for the moment done, and the elder watches him take a moment to call his son’s daycare, forever over-protective.
It’s crazy to think that a twenty-year old can even have a son who’s three - Seokjin still finds it hard to believe, if he’s honest. Hell, he hadn’t even known about Jungkook’s son until three months after the other began working as his assistant. Jungkook, still a bundle of nervousness back then, had politely asked that he be excused for an entire weekend. When Seokjin asked him why (after giving him the weekend off, of course), Jungkook had explained that it was Yongsik’s third birthday - Seokjin had been floored.
He’s still kind of floored, admittedly. He’s met Yongsik a handful of times, on occasions where Jungkook has brought him by when picking up his check, or stopped by to drop something off to Seokjin or one of the others on his days off. There’s no doubt about it, either - the kid is definitely Jungkook’s little boy; he’s Jungkook’s spitting image (understatement), all big, curious eyes, and soft features. HIs nose is even the same size as Jungkook’s, funnily enough. The only way to tell them apart (aside from the obvious), is Yongsik’s hair is a glossy brown, in contrast to his father’s raven-black; a trait from his mother, no doubt.
Seokjin doesn’t know the details, though, concerning Yongsik’s mom. He likes Jungkook, really likes him - Seokjin thinks he’s cute, honestly, in an oddly sexy way, and he’s been nothing short of amazing to work with. But Seokjin stays firm in his role as Jungkook’s boss, refusing to let his mind stray further than a business relationship (though on occasion, they do all go out drinking together - he does let the line blur a bit, then).
He does know Jungkook is single, though. Seokjin has heard him talk to the others about dates with “someone new”, but, the elder refuses to do anything with his information; not to mention, Jungkook has a kid, so Seokjin can’t help but just assume it means that the younger is as straight as they come.
Doesn’t stop him from appreciating when Jungkook comes to work looking more like a model than his actual models. But he keeps it professional - he’d never forgive himself if he hurt the other, or made him feel uncomfortable. They’re both adults, but Seokjin is the elder, and he takes it upon himself to act as such.
However… Seokjin is, proudly, what Namjoon likes to call Gay As Fuck - he’s never denied it, either. He likes his LGTB+ novels, he likes his pink wardrobe, his mani-pedis. He gets his rocks off watching porn from the Gay category on PornHub, enjoys grinding up against hot, smoothly-shaved guys at a gay club. He has his cookbooks, his mini-vegetable garden on the back patio, and his collection of 80s, 90’s, and 00’s female pop-star discography.
All of this, along side his Burger King coupons, his Neapolitan ice cream, and his indie/pop/screamo rock albums, of course - Seokjin likes being an enigma. Keep ‘em guessing, all that.
Any of this, on it’s own, or even all of it, really, doesn’t really point to Seokjin being gay. But, paired with the fact that he get’s a raging hard-on for cute guys with thick thighs, definitely means he’s gay; to the As Fuck power, at that.
(For the record, Jimin is safe - Seokjin loves his friend to death, but Jimin’s never really been his type, especially considering he’s known the boy since he was thirteen, chubby, and just coming into himself - Jimin is just a lovable little brother to Seokjin.)
“I’m here!” Hoseok sings, rushing from the back rooms. “Sorry, there was an unexpected issue with the pants being too tight.”
Seokjin just rolls his eyes, letting out a small, amused huff. He’s busy adjusting the settings on his camera, as Jungkook moves to dim the lights - Hoseok’s shoot is going to be a little edgier than Taehyung’s had been, a little sexier.
“Don’t tell me you ripped another pair of pants, hyung,” Jungkook sighs, motioning for Hoseok to sit on the ground, surrounded by sheer black curtains that clash sharply with his glittering, orange sherbet-toned shirt.
“Can’t help that my dick is huge, Jungkookie,” the other coos, reclining back against a velvet brown, Victorian-era style couch.
“If your dick is so huge,” Jimin cuts in, appearing from the back, already dressed (the orange-haired cherub is always on time, a blessing to Seokjin), “then why did the pants rip at the ankle, not the crotch?”
Scowling, Hosoek ignores him, as Jungkook cackles, moving back to Seokjin’s side, checking that the lighting is to the elder’s liking. Jimin grins and blows kisses to his sort-of boyfriend (they aren’t actually dating, but nobody is oblivious to the way they dance around one another, or show up late together to some shoots). Seokjin takes a couple test shots, and Jungkook corrects the set and lighting to the elder’s instruction, while Jimin and Hoseok continue to lightly bicker.
The theme for the shoot is supposedly “Neon Summer” or something like that. Namjoon and the brand came up with the idea, but it was Seokjin’s job to bring to life the aesthetic, which Namjoon trusted him to do. If he’s honest, the entire thing is a little silly to him, considering the brand didn’t use real neon - the line is full of soft, glowing pinks and violets, gentle maroons and peaches; apparently, the brand director calls it pastel neon .
What an oxymoron, right?
“Okay, okay,” the elder calls out, “that’s enough. Focus, Hobi; quiet, Jiminie.”
The set falls quiet, then, to Seokjin’s bemusement. Not only is he the eldest, but this is also his territory, his little slice of this world. Namjoon may employ the models, but they’re under Seokjin’s command here; they may banter with him, drink with him on the weekends, send him funny memes throughout the day, but here, they know who’s alpha, when the time comes.
Seokjin isn’t sure how to explain what he feels when he’s taking photos, especially not when he’s taking them for a shoot, not just casually taking photos around town, or with his friends. On the outside, he’s been told it’s as if his brain shuts down, like he’s operating solely on autopilot. Jimin once described it like working with a automaton, one that groans orders and doesn’t have the AI to do anything but its assigned task, as perfectly as possible. Seokjin still isn’t sure if that was a compliment or just a poor comparison, but he knows that none of it’s really true.
When he’s in serious-photographer-mode, it’s more like his entire brain comes to life, his entire consciousness blooming all at once. He doesn’t just see lighting, models, the set - he sees shapes, colors, lines, axies, everything mapped out before him like some 3D model of the world that is his to manipulate. Through the lense, he can see everything, all at once, the best angles, the best lighting, how to pose a model, set up a shot. It is true, however, that he isn’t aware of where he’s moving, or how he’s moving - for all he knows, he could be scooting across the floor on his ass, snapping shot after shot. His friends like to joke about how cold and mechanical his voice gets, barking out orders to Jungkook, the models - Seokjin doesn’t even realize it’s happening, he’s too in the zone, lost in his art.
This is where Jungkook comes in, full-blown blessing that he is. When Namjoon suggested (read: pressured ) Seokjin to find an assistant, as the online magazine began to pick up, the elder had originally been pretty set against the idea. He was too comfortable in the way he worked, that being solitary and efficiently, to want to worry about training someone, having to work around any carelessness or disorganization. But he didn’t want to recruit someone still in college, either, full of potential, but dripping with haughtiness, unaware of how the real photography world worked.
Seokjin needed someone who could catch on quick, who wasn’t looking for praise after doing little more than setting up a light. He needed someone with flexible hours, who could work with as little distraction as possible, who had experience, but didn’t feel as if it made him king of the world.
Jungkook came into their world the same way all of them had - he knew someone who knew someone.
Namjoon started this entire thing, it was his dream to run a modern and sexy men’s online fashion and lifestyle magazine, centered towards the LGBT+ community; from there, Seokjin joined him, mainly out of affection for his friend and his personal investment in the cause, but also out of the desire to expand his horizons, and try photographing people, instead of places, for a change. Seokjin had finished up his other projects abroad, moved back to the city, and had even helped Namjoon hunt down real estate properties for the studio and office space.
Namjoon had also recruited Yoongi, a long time friend, and although he’d come unwillingly at first, he’d proven himself to be a more than wonderful model, taking full advantage of his sensual pout and languid eyes, his slim, lightly-muscled body; Seokjin likes to think it’s due to all his own encouragement, partly his hard-earned skill of bringing a photograph to life, but he knows not to take all the credit. By now, Yoongi enjoys modeling, though, as long as their shoots don’t interfere with his music.
Yoongi brought in Hoseok, a dance student at the local university who needed the work to help pay for things. Hoseok came in with a bit of experience, gained from modeling for art students for a few bucks a session (usually naked, Seokjin is sure - Hoseok is too comfortable with his body to not have modeled naked). Hoseok brought edge to the photoshoots, harsh beauty mixed with a brilliant smile, wrapped up in one warm-toned, angled body.
Seokjin, in turn, brought in Jimin; he’d grown up next door to Seokjin, the little brother he’d adopted, and they’d kept contact all throughout Jimin’s school years, and Seokjin’s years abroad. Jimin brought a new facet to their team, sexy, yes, but also cute, capable of anything, from dangerously sensual, to heart stoppingly adorable - he became their secret weapon, and Seokjin can’t help but think each one of them is a little bit in love with him.
Taehyung picked Jimin up from a shoot, once, and that was it for him - Seokjin recruited him on the spot, with his honey-toned skin, his dark, long lashes, framing deep eyes that seem hold all the mysteries of the world. He offered a hazier side, a lazy, relaxed air to Seokjin’s photos - it pleases the elder to no end, taking photos of the youth who isn’t even aware of his own natural grace.
Thus their team was complete - with Namjoon running things, Seokjin taking the photos and helping with layouts and other behind-the-scene things, and their models, who all brought something different, filling out their issues with diversity, and beauty.
Or so they’d thought.
Jimin introduced Jungkook, a friend he had through his brother, who’d gone to school with Jungkook. Jimin said, afterwards he’d subtly introduced him, that Jungkook was in desperate need of a job, and he even had a little bit of photography experience, gained from a handful of years using a DSLR leisurely. And although Seokjin had been adamant that he was fine on his own, it didn’t take long for him to cave - he needed the help, he finally admitted, and he brought Jungkook in for a week-long trial run.
At first, Seokjin hadn’t been sure what to think about the guy; he was a little cocky, but willing to listen, intently at that, and he was a quick learner. It was a little disconcerting, too, that Jungkook was just as tall as Seokjin, but several years younger, his face cute, but his body like some sort of Greek god - if he were honest, Seokjin would rather have had him as a model, even now, really. But Jungkook proved himself an able assistant, more than able, and now, finally, their team is complete.
Seokjin thinks it’s best if he doesn’t give the glowing crush he has on Jungkook any attention - maybe if he ignores it, it’ll go away. Maybe. He can hope, and he does, praying that any interaction he has with Jungkook stays well away from flirting or uncomfortable accidental workplace sexual harassment. Thus far, it seems to have worked.
As expected, Hoseok’s shoot goes well; towards the end, Jimin even saunters on set, smirking. Seokjin gets two-dozen shots of Jimin with his arms around Hoseok’s middle from behind, two more dozen with Jimin on Hoseok’s lap, and another few of them dangerously close to kissing - thankfully, Yoongi appears, and scolds the others. Seokjin was too lost in doing his job to even think to, honestly.
“Get your perverted asses off the set,” Yoongi laughs, smacking at said asses left and right. “My turn. And damn, Jungkook, why didn’t you stop them? You know Jin is going to keep going. Not even the set bursting into flames could stop him.”
The elder hah s - Yoongi is not wrong, at least; once, while abroad, he was so focused on taking a shot of the misty morning dawn over a massive lake, he didn’t hear a bear come up on him. To his, and probably the bears relief, because Seokjin has Skillz, the bear paid him no mind - it makes for a great story, though, as long as one asks anybody aside from Seokjin’s mother.
Seokjin is laughing, while Jimin and Hoseok play off the fact that they almost became pornstars. But Jungkook is visibly blushing, hands shoved in the pocket of his hoodie. “I, uh, wasn’t paying attention,” he mutters, moving away to fiddle with one of the large studio lights.
“Lie,” Jimin giggles. “You were watching so intently, Kookie, even I felt a little scandalized.”
“You were point-two seconds away from giving Hoseok head, you should feel scandalized,” Yoongi points out.
To his credit, Jimin blushes this time, scrunching his nose at the other. Yoongi is too busy getting comfortable on set to notice, but Seokjin does, as does Hoseok. With Seokjin unknowingly creeping, he watches as Hoseok pulls a face, before kissing the pout from the younger’s mouth; the action is possibly the single most-sweetest thing that Seokjin has ever witnessed, and he immediately looks away, calling for Jungkook to help pose Yoongi.
Apparently Yoongi’s theme is fishnet - he’s wearing fishnet tights under his distressed jeans, a fishnet top under his electric-blue, faux-leather t-shirt; even a fishnet choker around his pale neck. Seokjin honestly doesn’t understand who in their everyday life needs that much fishnet, and he makes a mental note to bring this up to Namjoon later. It isn’t really his place to question the brands, or Namjoon and his stylists - he takes the pictures, builds up the models, hears any concerns the others may not want to go to Namjoon with; he’s okay with this, too - just don’t expect him to decide to switch to a fishnet wardrobe, despite how good Yoongi makes it look.
Jungkook stands to the side, ready to assist, but, unsurprisingly, Yoongi’s shoot goes smoother than those before. The elder is languidity, without a doubt, lazy-but-dangerous, everything Namjoon loves about fashion; his body barely moves, just here or there as Seokjin moves around him. But his eyes, Yoongi’s eyes nearly burn the camera in Seokjin’s hand, his gaze strong, proud, sensual. It’s at such a contrast with his body language, complete opposites - Seokjin does his best to capture it, over and over again.
He’s suddenly jarred out of his concentration as a phone rings, generic and shrill; thankfully, his reflexes have developed enough to where he doesn’t drop his camera, but he does almost definitely pee on himself.
“Ah, shit, shit, sorry!” Jungkook hisses, reaching into his pocket. “It’s the day care-”
Seokjin waves him off with a smile, turning back to Yoongi. “Go, Kook, I’m almost done here.”
He waits a moment, just long enough for Jungkook to answer the phone and disappear through the back door, before he lets himself dive back into work-mode. He doesn’t notice when Jungkook comes back, though, or when Yoongi raises his eyebrows, talking to the younger in low tones - he’s focused on the shadows falling across Yoongi’s pale hair, the smooth, straight lines of his limbs.
But when Yoongi stands, disrupting the shot, Seokjin definitely notices.
‘What’s happening? Fire?” he asks, feeling like he’s surfacing from the ocean depths. “There’s no alarm…?”
Jungkook speaks up, glancing back and forth from Seokjin to his phone, nervously, chewing his bottom lip. “Hyung, uh… are we almost done? I’m… ah, I’m so sorry, but I have to pick up Yongsik by six….”
It’s equal parts amusing and heart-wrenching, to see how worried Jungkook is about displeasing Seokjin - not that he has anything to worry about; Seokjin cares about him too much, and though he personally has no experience with the matter, he doesn’t want to think about how hard Jungkook must have it sometimes.
“Yeah, I can finish up by myself, it’s okay,” Seokjin tells him, flashing an encouraging smile.
“Are-are you sure? I’ll come in early tomorrow and clean up, don’t worry about that,” the younger says, visibly spazzing - it’s like his body wants to go one way, his mind is telling him to go another, so he just ends up shuffling around the same square foot area, his head spinning.
To save the other from himself, Seokjin moves closer, tugging the younger to a halt with both hands on either of Jungkook’s shoulders. “Jungkook,” he says, holding back laughter, “go. Be careful, and I’ll see you in the morning.”
With a brief, slamming hug, Jungkook rushes off, grabbing his bag from the table in the back - then he’s gone, the door clattering shut behind him.
“Something’s up with him,” Seokjin muses outloud to Yoongi, who’s standing nearby, eating a snack-sized bag of cookies (Seokjin has no idea where they came from).
The other nods, blond hair falling into his eyes. “Yeah, I noticed. He seems….?”
“Stressed,” he finishes for the younger. “For a while now, I think. A month, maybe? But I think it’s getting worse.”
“How so?” Yoongi asks around bits of chocolate chips.
Seokjin thinks a moment, hands automatically fiddling with the strap on his camera. “He’s been… rushing out, but he comes in really early, around eight, most mornings, when I don’t even come in until ten.”
The other looks absolutely shocked, though it doesn’t even have anything to do with Jungkook. “We don’t even start shoots until two! That’s too early, fuck that.”
“You don’t even get here on time, stop bitching,” Seokjin laughs, gently stuffing his camera back into it’s case. “Just be glad we don’t have shoots everyday, you’d really be complaining then.”
“I can’t help that my profession keeps me out late,” Yoongi grins. Seokjin snorts, knowing that the other meant his words to sound exactly like they did. “But anyway,” he continues, tugging at the hem of his shirt, “I’m kind of worried about him. He asked me if I knew any places for rent midtown, but, for one, I don’t think so, and for two, that area’s really shady.”
“So he’s having money problems?” Seokjin wonders, looking at the door Jungkook disappeared through a while ago. “I wonder how bad?”
“I dunno. Jimin couldn’t get anything out of him, and usually Jimin can bewitch anyone into doing anything he wants.”
“.... is that what happened to you that weekend we thought you had the flu?”
“I don’t wanna talk about it.”
Before Seokjin can tease his friend any more, Jimin appears at at end of the hallway, back in his usual jeans and hoodie, his hair damp and his face shiny where he’s washed all the day’s product away.
“Yoongi-hyung, the stylists have to have the clothes packed up and overnighted back to the brand! They’re about to start a man-hunt for you!”
“I’m coming, kid,” Yoongi calls to the younger, before turning back to Seokjin. “Do you want me to try talking to him? Jungkook I mean?”
The elder shakes his head. “Nah, I’ll handle it. Just keep the boys wrangled just in case Jungkook needs a little less pressure.”
After Yoongi gets dragged along by Jimin, the younger already trying to tug him out of the clothes, Seokjin heads to his office to drop his camera and laptop - he won’t be needing them at home tonight, he’ll just meet Jungkook early in the morning, and work on everything then.
Speaking of - Seokjin checks his phone; he doesn’t know much about his assistant’s routine, his personal life, but he knows that Jungkook takes the subway back to his side of town, and picks up Yongsik from the local daycare, before either walking or bussing back home. He only knows this because he has a hopeless crush on the boy, but even so, it’s good information to know, especially now, when there’s a lack of information.
So before he heads to his car, he sends off a quick text to the younger, hoping Jungkook sees it before going to bed - the younger isn’t the best at checking his messages.
Meet me @ 7, I’ll bring breakfast. Night Jungkookie~, the message reads; it’s a touch more personal that Seokjin usually goes for, but he sends it regardless. At least, if it’s money Jungkook needs, showing up early will help him get that little extra bit of cash.
* * *
It isn’t until a couple of weeks later that Seokjin figures out a little bit of what’s going on - and it’s by complete accident, because trying to get Jungkook to open up about his personal life is harder than trying to get the perfect shot of a hummingbird in flight; which is ironic, considering a humming bird is exactly what Jungkook resembles these days.
He flits around the studio, half-formed sentences on his lips, always checking and double checking his phone; he’s gone the moment they're done working, or shooting, promising to clean up the next morning, or come back a little later. He does still show up early, and it seems that no matter how hard he tries, Seokjin just can’t get to work fast enough to confront the younger. They only meet three or four times a week as it is, and unless he calls and calls Jungkook’s phone, he isn’t even likely to talk to the other when they aren’t at the studio.
Aside from Yoongi, none of the others really seem to notice. They all adore Jungkook, of course, but none of them spend enough time with him to pick up any differences - unlike Seokjin, who notices every small detail on a level that makes him feel a bit like a stalker; a concerned one, though, not a creepy one.
If it had only happened that once, or even two, three times, Seokjin might not have found it so weird - Jungkook is still, even after months of working together, a great mystery to the elder. He knows Jungkook’s surface personality, knows that the younger is a little cocky, but only because he’s so shy and needs to feel a little like he’s in control. He knows that Jungkook likes iced black coffees from the cafe across the street, but otherwise, he makes his coffee strong and adds a ton of sugar. Jungkook’s birthday is in September, his son’s is in July, Jungkook’s favorite color is red, but he really likes green, and he hates that Christmas has taken those two colors hostage. Jungkook is a decent photographer, a decent singer, likes going to noraebang when he has time, and loves grilled pork and lamb.
This sums up what Seokjin knows about Jungkook, aside from things that pertain to work, such as his reliability, his competence, his knack of being able to read the elder’s mind and anticipate his next direction. He’s got a good eye for setting up a shot, too, which Seokjin finds incredibly endearing, almost.
Even so, Jungkook, and his personal life, is shrouded in a thick mist of question marks - Seokjin doesn’t think they’d even know Jungkook has a son, if it weren’t for his own personal curiosity, for him asking that time. And although he wants, he really wants, to know more, for Jungkook to let him in, even a little, Seokjin isn’t able to make himself cross that slim, delicate line - he’d rather keep Jungkook in his life as his assistant, than try to make them something more and ruin everything; despite his worry, he tries to stick by this unspoken, self-imposed rule.
But on a Tuesday, when Jungkook isn’t at work before Seokjin, the elder really begins to worry - his previous behavior aside, this is yet another change that he hadn’t been expecting. Everyone else is due to arrive around eleven, get their hair and makeup done for phase two of Neon Summer, and everyone should be ready and accounted for by one -
-... except, Jimin and Taehyung have just arrived, and Jungkook is still nowhere to be seen.
“Damnit,” Seokjin hisses, tugging his phone from his back pocket. “This kid.” He leaves the half-prepared studio before he hits the call button, locking himself in his office just down the hall. The warm, bright sunlight pours in through the high windows, bathing the small, cozy space in an almost otherworldly yellow. Seokjin calls Jungkook twice, and when the call goes to voicemail for the second time, he falls to sit on the plush, suede couch in the corner of his office. “Damnit,” he repeats.
Before he can call again, his phone begins vibrating, and Jungkook’s photo (one of the younger pulling a silly face, a laptop in front of him), taken one late night in the breakroom, flashes on the screen. Seokjin answers immediately, and Jungkook’s apologies are already flowing through the line before the call even fully connects.
“-I’m on my way, oh my God, I’m so sorry. I swear, this is never going to happen again, I just, I can’t explain right now, but we’re two stops out so I’ll be there in the next thirty minutes-”
Seokjin waits for an opening, but when it doesn’t come, he raises his voice the slightest bit, speaking over the other. “Jungkook, hey, calm down. Hey! Kook, is everything okay?”
“Everything is fine, hyung,” Jungkook sighs after a moment. Seokjin can hear other people speaking in the background, some of the voices so close that they seem to be a part of the call. Behind the voices, he can hear the screech of brakes, the sounds of traffic. “I’m… I’m sorry.”
Seokjin runs a hand over the cushion next to him, unsure if he should chastise the younger, as his boss, or gush about how relieved his is that Jungkook is simply okay . He finds himself holding his breath, for some reason.
“Okay,” he finally says. “We’ll talk about… whatever when you get here, then.”
The other breathes into the phone, and Seokjin can all but imagine Jungkook’s face, nodding, eyes wide. “Thanks, hyung. I’ll be there soon.”
After the call ends, Seokjin has to take a second to compose himself. Not that simply talking to Jungkook has a strong effect on him, but he’d actually been genuinely worried, so worried that he has to take a few deep breaths, and remind himself that Jungkook is fine, that he’s on his way. He feels a little silly, honestly, but there’s nobody here to see him, so he pushes these feelings away.
When the tightness in his chest passes, Seokjin remembers that he might finally get an answer to Jungkook’s weird behavior, and this thought sets his heart to racing all over again.
With a bit of effort, he does eventually chill , mumbling to himself the entire time. He mumbles even louder when he catches sight of himself in the little mirror he has next to the door; his cheeks are a little flushed, just a tinge of pink streaked across his cheekbones, but thankfully it’s fading. Seokjin can’t even fathom why he’s so… unnerved, or maybe he’s anxious, he isn’t sure. He’s used to feeling at least mostly in control, but when it comes to Jungkook, he feels the exact opposite. He’s felt himself slowly unhinging, ever since he first met the younger, inch by inch, and it seems to be catching up to him fast.
But oh well, he thinks. Maybe he can’t control it, but he can roll with it; he’s good at adapting. So after smoothing down his hair, finger-combing through the thickness, he leaves his office, rolling up his sleeves. He might as well distract himself and finish setting up; when Jungkook gets here, he’ll let him adjust it until it’s right, but for now, he can manage.
When Jungkook does arrive, Yoongi and Hoseok have just gone back for hair and makeup, both of them with dark sunglasses covering their faces, and steaming cups of coffee in their hands.
Seokjin has his questions regarding those two, but he forgets everything the moment Jungkook pulls open the wide double doors that lead to the parking lot; he isn’t alone.
Jungkook is dressed like he always is for work, light wash jeans and a button up (usually white or blue, sometimes grey or beige), the sleeves pushed up, converse on his feet; he’s dressed the same as always, except today, he has a mini-Kook with him.
Yongsik looks remarkably like his father, his wide eyes the only thing visible at first - he’s dressed almost the same, in a tiny pair of jeans, a navy button up, with grey snap-on bow tie at his neck.
He’s even wearing tiny little Converse highs.
The kid is tall for three, too, coming up to Jungkook’s mid-thigh, looking like he should be in kindergarten, not day care - and speaking of, why isn’t he in daycare? This thought sends a sizzle of worry plunging into Seokjin’s gut.
But before he can say anything, there’s a deep ‘weeee’ sound from the other side of the room, and Taehyung is bounding across the floor, making grabby hands for Yongsik.
The next few moments are a little chaotic, though not in a bad way; Yongsik squeals as Taehyung scoops him up, and Jimin, having heard Taehyung’s shout from all the way in the dressing rooms, comes barrelling into the studio, his hair in pins and his makeup half done, and makes a beeline for them. After this, the others, Namjoon included, all flood into the space, cooing over the toddler, taking turns hugging him and making him the smiliest kid in the world.
“Yongsikie, you’re almost as tall as Yoongi-hyung!” Hoseok says with a big smile, hugging the kid and squeezing him almost too hard. Yoongi subtly steps on his toes, and tugs Yongsik from his grasp, perching the toddler on his hip and asking if he wants a snack.
While the others occupy him, Seokjin makes eye contact with Jungkook, and gently smiles, tilting his head towards a quieter corner. After a fond smile to his son, Jungkook makes his way over, hands shoved in his jeans pockets.
“And I was worried he’d be a disruption,” Jungkook sighs, leaning against the brick wall.
Seokjin shrugs, leaning next to him. “Well, next to Jimin and Taehyung, he blends in.” Jungkook laughs at this, but Seokjin can hear the nervousness in the sound, buried under a layer of exhaustion.
Jungkook’s eyes are dark, too, faded and disconcerting - it’s strange, because one of Seokjin’s first observations had been that that the younger seemed so bright, so lively.
“Jungkook,” he says, searching the other’s profile. “Tell me what’s going on. You’ve been off for weeks, and… I’m worried.”
It takes a solid five minutes for Jungkook to reply - mainly because Yongsik runs over to share the chips that Yoongi gave him with his father; Jungkook squats down to his son’s level, and lets the kid pop a chubby handful of bacon and cheddar flavored Lay’s into his open mouth, smiling and thanking him.
“You’re welcome, daddy,” Yongsik says like it’s an obvious thing, smiling back. He walks away after handing Jungkook his little backpack, and this time, he heads over to offer Namjoon a handful.
Leaving the backpack at his feet, Jungkook straightens up, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand. “It’s nothing you need to worry about, hyung,” he finally tells Seokjin, smiling in a way that doesn’t reach his eyes. “And sorry about today. I didn’t plan on bringing him, but when I realized what time it was, I figured it’d just be best to bring him with me. He’ll nap soon, anyway, especially after all this excitement.”
It almost, almost hurts, that Jungkook won’t open up and just tell Seokjin what’s going on, that he doesn’t seem to trust him with his personal life. But Seokjin doesn’t take it personally - he can respect that some people are just reserved, that they won’t ask for help.
But that’s not going to stop him from trying.
“Why isn’t he in day care?” he asks instead, knowing full well he just hopped over that invisible like, no fuck’s given. “Is it a money thing? Because I can-”
Jungkook stops him, finger’s lightly closing around the elder’s arm. “No, no, it’s nothing like that,” he laughs. “He, uh… well, he got suspended, which I didn’t even know they did in day care. But he bit another kid, and then when the caregiver got on to him, he bit him, too.” He moves his hand from Seokjin’s arm to run his fingers through his hair, and the elder has to fight the urge to pout.
“They suspended him for biting a kid and a teacher?” Seokjin remembers when he was a kid, he was always biting and getting bit - that’s just how kids are .
But Jungkook, still giggling, just nods. “He bit the kid and it was whatever, but he bit the teacher hard . He doesn’t like him, never has, he only comes in and watches them when the primary caregiver is out. I mean, I get that he shouldn’t bite people, but I don’t blame him for biting that jerk.”
Seokjin hums in agreement. Even as an adult, there’s a few times a week where he wishes he could just bite someone, not that he’d ever do it, or say these thoughts out loud to someone; but he can relate to Yongsik, despite how he feels for Jungkook’s situation.
“Anyway,” Jungkook continues, “my mom usually watches him, but she had to take my aunt to the dentist, but it’s across town and we don’t have a carseat, because we don’t have a car, and there’s nothing for him to really do there. I dunno, I just didn’t want to bother her with it, so his mom offered to take him for a couple of days. But then she got called into work, she works at a restaurant so she couldn’t bring him with her, and she forgot to call, so I was just sitting at the park with him, waiting for her to show up.”
He stops talking suddenly, his mouth snapping shut, like he’s realized how much he’s just said, how much he’s exposed. Seokjin doesn’t mind, it’s more information than he’d expected, but Jungkook turns a little pink, and shrugs. “Anyway, it won’t happen again. He promised me that he won’t bite anyone anymore, or he won’t get to go to the zoo this month, so… hopefully he’ll be back in daycare next week and everything will be fine.”
Seokjin doesn't know what to say; he still has so many questions. “I’m sure it’ll be okay,” he says as reassuringly as he can. “He’s a good kid, and I’ve heard that zoos are great incentive for kids.” He pauses, swallowing. “So his mom is taking him tomorrow?”
Jungkook nods. “Yeah, she called and she has someone to cover for her the next few days. I mean, I could have left him with her, her boyfriend or whatever, but….”
“You don’t like him?”
“Nahh, Yugyeom is cool, but he’s… he doesn’t know kids? Like, if she were there with him, that’s fine, but he’s just inexperienced and I’d rather play it safe.”
“Got it,” Seokjin says, clicking his tongue. “If you ever need any help, you know you can ask. Me, or anyone here, we’re all super nice, you know.”
Jungkook smiles, showing teeth, and it’s the most genuine smile Seokjin has gotten from the younger in way too long. “Thanks, hyung. Is it okay if I take him to your office to get him to sleep?”
Seokjin nods, biting his tongue on the rest of his questions.
It takes a little wrangling from Jungkook, but eventually, Yongsik agrees to naptime, letting Jungkook hoist him up; the others have to leave the room first though, and it’s good timing, because their two stylists come to the end of the hall, figuratively tapping their feet - Taehyung was the only one done with hair and makeup, and Jimin, who’d run out halfway through the process, sheepishly retreats first, ducking his head and mumbling apologies through his smile. The others soon follow, hiding their smiles, waving goodbye for now to Yongsik and Jungkook.
The toddler settles his cheek on Jungkook’s shoulder, his arms hanging loose, his eyes drooping. When Jungkook comes over to retrieve Yongsik’s backpack, Seokjin returns his sleepy, hazy smile, and pats his head, smoothing down his glossy, wild hair. “Sleep tight,” he tells him, and Jungkook smiles, looking like he could use a nap himself.
And despite the fact that Seokjin wants to insist that he do nap, that he lock himself in Seokjin’s office with Yongsik and get some rest, he keeps it to himself - as much as he hates to admit it, and as much as he hates to be selfish, he needs Jungkook on set with him; they’re a team, and this is their job. No matter what’s going on with Jungkook, what’s happening outside of the studio that he’s struggling with, Seokjin has to keep himself firmly on the professional side of the line.
At least for now.
In the face of previous delays and disarray, the shoot goes smoothly. After getting Yongsik to nap, Jungkook comes back into the studio like a tornado, fixing the set, adjusting lights, making sure everything is plugged in and double checking that Seokjin has all his memory cards, his lenses. He takes a couple minutes before the others come back out to go check on his kid, but he’s back in no time, ready to stand by, his stress from before held at bay by his determination.
When both Taehyung and Jimin come out, donned in matching teal silk suits and velvet black ties, over pristine white shirts, Seokjin rolls his eyes - he really doesn’t understand this concept, on any level - but he quickly hides it. Instead, he asks who’s first.
Taehyung and Jimin frown, glancing at one another. “Uh,” Jimin starts.
“It’s both of them,” Jungkook pipes up, appearing at Seokjin’s shoulder. “Doubles today. Tae and Jiminie-hyung, then Yoongi-hyung and Hobi-hyung.”
“Oh.” Seokjin nods, feeling his face warm; now he remembers, he and Namjoon had talked about it before the weekend, just a few days ago. He doesn’t usually forget things like this, but, apparently Jungkook’s situation had been weighing on him more than he’d thought. “Right,” he says quickly. “Well, come on.”
He doesn’t miss the way Jungkook smiles and looks away, and before he can stop himself, he’s blushing - he can feel it, feel the heat travel from his neck to his ears. He turns away, fiddling with the camera to hide it, calling for the other two to get on set. He hears their clicking footsteps travel across the floor, hears Jungkook turning the lights and positioning them. When he’s sure his face is back to normal, and he’s ready to get on with work, Seokjin turns back, raising the camera.
“Ready?” he asks, not bothering to wait for an answer.
The set this time is simpler, brighter, but meant to be sensual in its own way. Layers of white carpets cover the floor, and a dozen or so chandeliers, spray painted a brassy gold, hang from the metal scaffolding meant for stage lighting left over from the previous tenants; they aren’t lit, but after a little editing, they’ll glow like pixiedust. The backdrop is plain, a soft, cool grey, with spirailing, ornate designs stenciled in black.
It’s pretty, but Seokjin doesn’t get it - so he focuses, literally and with his camera, on what he does know: taking the shot.
Taehyung and Jimin stand, looking like millionaires, with their hands in their pockets, their hair curled just the slightest bit, just enough to look a little messy and windswept. Taehyung is pouting, while Jimin smirks, staring down the camera while cocking his head - they look good, but Seokjin doesn’t see this yet, or maybe he does, but it’s just a layer of the entire picture, so to speak; he sees the way the color cascades over Jimin’s orange hair, the way Taehyung’s lined eyes smoulder and shine; he kneels, and in the back of his brain, he’s aware of Jungkook telling them to look to the left, to tilt their faces - the resulting shots of their jawlines, their necks and clavicles, is going to make Namjoon very, very happy.
Seokjin gets some shots of them leaning on one another, limbs loose and languid, some of Taehyung sitting, one knee bent, his head turned towards Jimin’s thigh, and in turn, Jimin’s fingers tangled into Taehyung’s hair, his rings glinting in the lights. Jungkook brings over a step stool, and Taehyung sits on the bottom rung, while Jimin perches on the top, letting the other nestle between his legs, arms draped over Taehyung’s broad shoulders.
The only thing that pulls Seokjin out of the moment is the beeping of his Canon, warning him that his memory is almost full. He gets a couple more sneak-shots of Taehyung and Jimin smiling, high fiving each other, before the screen goes to the menu, warning him, once again, to change his memory card.
Jungkook moves over to switch out the cards, while Seokjin stretches, loading the photos on his laptop.
“How are they?” he asks, setting the camera down on the table.
Seokjin squints at the screen, scrolling through them slowly. “They’re good. I hate comparing, but sometimes I think that Taehyung and Jimin were born to model, especially together.”
The younger nods, giving Seokjin an assuring smile. “I know what you mean. They’re hot together. Don’t tell Hoseok I said that, though,” he laughs, sweeping his hair from his eyes. “I’m gonna go check on Yongsik, I’ll be right back.”
“Sure, Kookie,” Seokjin responds, but it’s an automatic response.
His brain is too busy screaming, repeating Jungkook’s words; “ they’re hot together, they’re hot together ”.
What the hell is that supposed to mean ? he thinks to himself, and where the hell did it come from ? Did it come from a place where Jungkook is chill and cool about half their crew being into men, or did it come from a different place, a place Seokjin doesn’t even want to think about, can’t think about.
It’s too dangerous; way, way too dangerous.
Because if Jungkook is somehow not totally, wholly straight, like Seokjin had been assuming, it means that the elder may have the tiniest, most miniscule chance of wooing Jungkook - not that he could, or would, or hell, should ; but having the possibility there is sticky territory, very, very sticky territory.
But he doesn’t get a chance to panic over for very long; Jungkook returns, Yongsik reclining in his arms, still looking like he’s half asleep. “He woke up,” the younger says by way of explanation, but he bites back his exhale, letting it come out shaky, but even. “Can you help me grab that chair, hyung?”
While Jungkook sets his son up on one of the chaise lounge chairs left in the corner from their previous shoots, Yoongi and Hoseok stroll onto the set, and once again, Seokjin almost rolls his eyes; these two are matching, as well, except they’re the inverted versions of what Jimin and Taehyung had been.
Their suits are black velvet, but black is a dull term for the color that seems to breathe, clinging to Hoseok and Yoongi’s lithe frames like a second skin. The shirts, a light coral that’s almost irridescent, are unbuttoned at the throat, exposing Yoongi and Hoseok’s milk and honey-toned skin, respectively. Seokjin takes it back: these two are hot, too.
Jungkook is moving the stool offset, and bringing the lights in closer, when Yongsik calls out to him.
“Daddy,” he mumbles, rubbing at his face, “I’m thirsty.”
“Crap.” Seokjin hears Jungkook mutter under his breath. “We’ll get something on the way home, buddy,” he continues audibly, “I’m almost done with work.”
With Jungkook trying helplessly to soothe him, Yongsik starts to fuss, whining and squeezing out a few tears. And while it isn’t any of Seokjin’s business, he can’t stand to one, see Yongsik upset, or two, watch the frustration on Jungkook’s face.
“Hey, Kook, just go get him a tea from the vending machine down by the insurance place next door,” he says, having to raise his voice a little to be heard. “I’ll watch him.”
Jungkook frowns, looking like he genuinely might burst into tears next to his son. “No, we need to finish up here,” he says, adamant as ever. “He’ll be okay, we can get through the shoot.”
Seokjin can sense his stubbornness, can tell that it’s unbudgeable.
But he can be stubborn, too.
“I’m not done with these settings, yet, so go. Get me one, too,” he tells the younger, turning away to click away at the camera settings. He can feel the tension that shudders through the air, and he can feel the anticipation from Yongsik, who’s currently staring up at his father, wide-eyed, wondering.
Jungkook knows it’s a lie, and Seokjin knows that he knows - Seokjin is always ready, his settings always perfect. Keeping up with Seokjin was the only thing he struggled with, when he first started; Seokjin is always prepared, can adjust his camera settings on instinct with his eyes closed at any time. Even so.
“Fine,” Jungkook finally says, sounding defeated. “I’ll right back. Yongsik, behave.”
His frustration is obvious, as he stands and hurries across the room, bursting through the double doors and taking the sidewalk at a run; Seokjin almost feels bad, for pushing him, for stepping in, but not bad enough to regret. He doesn’t know what’s going on with Jungkook, and regardless of the younger’s unwillingness to let his personal life bleed into work, Seokjin can’t help but try to reach out, to try and sooth him; he’s the only one who’s still keeps himself locked up, keeps himself separate from them all. Maybe it’s selfish, maybe he shouldn’t try, but Seokjin wants him to open up.
Turning around to actually double check that his settings are right, Seokjin catches Yoongi’s eye; the younger’s face doesn’t change, doesn’t give away what he’s thinking, but Seokjin can guess well enough - and he agrees; there’s something going on with Jungkook that runs a little deeper than the setbacks of a single parent.
Hoseok seems oblivious, busy pulling funny faces at Yongsik, and as far as Seokin can tell, aside from himself and Yoongi, Jungkook’s managed to mask his turmoil enough that the others haven’t noticed. Which is probably for the best, all things considered, but it doesn’t mean that Seokjin isn’t going to keep trying to find out what has Jungkook looking so tired, leaving work early, and having his patience at near zero.
To kill some time, Seokjin plops down next to Yongsik, helping him hold up the camera that looks like a truck in his tiny hands; Seokjin shows him how to take pictures, letting him aim it towards Yoongi and Hoseok, then at Seokjin, the ceiling. During this, the door bursts open, and Jungkook strolls back in, his nose tinged pink from the chilly spring air.
Finally, Yongsik aims the camera at his dad, who smiles, then scrunches his face up, shaking the bottles of tea until Yongsik returns the camera and reaches for his. Jungkook helps him take a few sips, while Seokjin chugs his - he really was thirsty, apparently.
“Okay,” Jungkook says, handing over his phone, a game pulled up, to his son. “Let’s get this done. It’s getting late.”
It’s barely three, actually, but Seokjin just nods, and gets the photoshoot going. He’s a little antsy at this point, too, but at least everyone else seems calmer.
Yoongi and Hoseok photograph like the sun and the moon, but not in the sense that one outshines the other; no, that isn’t true at all.
No, they orbit around each other, both shining like celestial beings, sharing the light. They lean, back to back, Yoongi’s pale hair mingling with Hoseok’s dark strands, day and night, one in the same. Unlike the others, they don’t need much direction; they take over their own shoot, taking their direction from instinct, from each other. Hoseok moves to stand behind the other, the fingers of one hand curling around Yoongi’s neck, the other concealing his eyes, and later, Yoongi stands next to Hoseok, hand around his hips, nearly folding into the other.
Seokjin can vaguely hear the the sound of the game on Jungkook’s phone, and he can almost pick up the sound of Yongsik talking, of Jungkook gently shushing him. It doesn’t fully register, not with the camera to his face, not with Yoongi reclining across Hoseok’s lap and tilting his head back, like some wild, mountainous snow leopard. Seokjin can’t help but fixate on the art in front of him, when it’s happening, when he’s in this mindset. He’s able to carefully move his worries about Jungkook to the back of his consciousness, not forgotten, but on hiatus. He knows, without looking, without being fully aware, that Jungkook is getting more and more anxious as time passes, the most he can do for the younger, right now, is finish the shoot timely and effectively.
Fortunately, Yoongi and Hoseok basically have the whole modeling thing down, and within the hour, right as Seokjin’s camera begins beeping it’s low-memory warning, they’re done; it’s a wrap.
As he comes back into himself, his senses returning like sluggish water, Seokjin doesn’t even have to turn around to know Jungkook is bouncing on his heels, ready to go do… whatever it is keeping him busy these days.
“Hyung-” he begins, wringing his wrists.
“Go, Kookie,” the elder says, lifting his head and smiling, trying to force reassurance into the action. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
The younger looks a little shocked, but he nods, gathering up his bag and Yongsik. “Tell them bye, buddy.”
Yongsik, standing and holding his dad’s hand, waves a little shyly, like he hadn’t spent the last few hours in a room with them. “Bye~” he says, hiding his face behind Jungkook’s leg.
“Bye-bye~” Seokjin sings back, grinning at the mini-Kook.
They say goodbye to Hoseok and Yoongi, and send their goodbyes to the others; then they’re gone, Jungkook asking what Yongsik wants for dinner, who replies with what Seokjin thinks is “pancakes”.
Later, after a quick, early convenience-store dinner, Seokjin knocks on the door to Namjoon’s office, his laptop under his arm, a paper bag in his hand. He’d left the studio sort of a mess, knowing that it’ll be the first thing Jungkook wants to do in the morning, but he can’t put off going through the photos, not when there are so many.
Namjoon, hunched over his own laptop, glances up, blond hair shoved away from his face. The glare on his square, black-rimmed glasses conceal his eyes, but then he sits up, groaning, and now Seokjin can see his eyes.
“Hey, Jinnie,” he greets. “What’s up?”
“You busy?” the elder asks, hoisting up the paper bag. “I brought happy hour.”
Namjoon laughs, taking off his glasses to rub at this eyes. “I was just replying to emails. What’s the occasion?”
Seokjin moves over to the wide table against the windows, used for conferences and meetings, and sets his laptop down. “It’s less of an occasion, and more like a bribe. Remember back in the day when it was just you and me, here after midnight, choosing photos to use in the layout?”
“Considering it was like, two years ago, yeah, I remember, hyung,” the other laughs, appearing with two short, round glasses. “Where’s Kook?”
He holds his tongue, until they’ve opened the whisky and taken a shot each, both of them scrunching their nose at the burn; the familiarity is comforting. “Fatherhood called,” Seokjin says. “Or, well, I think that’s what happening. He has something going on, that I do know.”
Namjoon’s face morphs into concern, one eyebrow raised, a small frown tugging at his mouth. “Is everything okay?”
“I’m not sure, but I’m working on it. Either way, here we are, two memory cards of photos to go through, and a bottle of whisky to finish. You up for it?”
“Yeah, hyung,” the younger smiles, “I’m up for it.”
Seokjin will figure out what’s going on with Jungkook, in time, and he’ll find a way to help; but for now, his hands are tied, both by Jungkook’s reserve, and by responsibility. He may not get to the crux of the matter tomorrow, this week, or even this month, but he’s patient, and he can wait, wait forever, if he has to. Jungkook is more than just an assistant, he’s a friend, or he’s becoming one, even if he’s a little unwilling to depend on others.
But he has to admit, it’s nice, to be reminded of the beginning, when it was just him and Namjoon, working late hours, trying to get the magazine some recognition. Namjoon’s passion for fashion (and men), rivals his own feelings for photography (...and men), and it’s refreshing to catch up with the younger, to talk about how far he and Namjoon, and the others, have come in their respective duties. Seokjin isn’t sure if it’s something he wants to be doing forever, but it’s definitely something he’s content with doing right now.
He wonders, idly, as they move on to the second memory card, to Yoongi and Hoseok’s shoot, what Jungkook had planned for his future, before Yongsik became that future; he’d never asked, never wondered, really.
He will, though, he decides; he’ll ask, the next chance he gets.
tissue warning ahead ♡
“Hyung, I’m sorry, I just, I can’t make it today,” are the first words he hears bright and early Monday morning.
Seokjin sits up, groaning, and glances around his dark bedroom, wondering what time it is; it’s bright enough to be morning, but the light is weak, pale - it can’t be later than eight AM.
“What? Jungkook?” he asks, shoving his hair out of his face. “Are you okay?”
The younger sniffles. “Not really. Yongsik caught something at daycare, and the little brat passed it on to me.” He pauses, sighing. “I have to stay home with him, but to be honest, I don’t think I’d be able to come in anyway; I’m like, dying here.”
Although his tone is light (light enough, through the mucus and snot), Seokjin can hear a hint of distress in Jungkook’s voice; he might be imagining it, sure, he is still trying to properly open his eyes, but his gut tells him otherwise.
“It’s okay, Kook,” he says, “don’t worry. We’re not shooting today, anyway.”
“I know, but we are doing those final edits this week and I promised Namjoon-hyung that I’d help with layout, and I still need to ship those boxes back to-”
Seokjin has to cut him off before he hyperventilates - which he sounds very close to doing. “Jungkook, it’s okay,” he stresses the last word. “I swear, I’m old but I know how to ship a box or two.”
“There are five,” Jungkook replies, but he gives a small laugh at Seokjin’s shitty, early-morning attempt at humor. “I just… if I had my work computer, I could work from home…”
“Rest is more important right now.”
“Yongsik is sleeping, now. We ran out of cough medicine, so it was a rough night, but hopefully he can sleep this off most of the day. I just need a nap, I’ll be okay.”
Seokjin almost hesitates - and as much as he cares about Jungkook, and Yongsik, and their well-being, he is, still, human, and therefore selfish at times. In other words, he doesn’t want to go without seeing Jungkook for the entire day, or week, because in truth, Jungkook does sound like shit. If it were him, Seokjin wouldn’t leave his bed for days.
“I’ll bring the laptop,” he suggests, “and I can stop and get you guys some meds. Do you need food?”
The call goes silent for a moment, and it’s one hell of a nerve-wracking moment for Seokjin; he can all but hear the word no bouncing around the younger’s skull, hear Jungkook wanting to turn down his offer.
“Okay,” he finally says, “thanks, hyung.”
Ignoring the urge to fistbump the air, frankly because one, he’s a grown ass adult, and two, it’s too damn early for that, Seokjin smiles. “Just text me the address and what you need. I have to stop and get my lunch anyway, so it’s no trouble.”
After thanking him again, and ending the call, Jungkook does. He doesn’t live too far out, so Seokjin struggles out of bed, and heads off to shower.
It’s been a month, roughly, since Seokjin had tried to broach the subject of whatever it is keeping Jungkook busy and on edge; it’s been a month since they released the issue with that ridiculous neon summer bullshit, too, but it turns out their readers loved it - hence why they’d taken on the same brand again for this month. This time, the theme is ‘Soft Focus’ - which translates, in fashion, to furs, fleeces, and feathers, but not in material, only texture. The theme is literally ‘stay warm this summer’, and Seokjin wonders, everyday, if fashion editorials are going to be his end. He loves his job, but if he never again has to photograph his friends in tank tops covered with sequined feathers, he’ll be extremely grateful.
This time last month, they’d been too preoccupied with cuts and layouts, making sure their free-lance writers had their final drafts submitted for the articles, making sure the site was ready for release, servers up-to-date and working smoothly. To help out Namjoon, Seokjin usually takes on the role of assistant editor, meaning sometimes certain assignments fall on Jungkook, as well, so everyone had been up to their ears in emails and spell-checks. It’d been a rough week, but fulfilling - afterwards, Jungkook had been in a good mood, and Seokjin had been happy to see him that way. Maybe he’d hoped it would last, or maybe he just chickened out - either way, he’d been skirting the situation, unwilling to confront Jungkook until they’d had time alone (which never happened).
Now, though, even if the circumstances suck beyond belief, Seokjin has his chance.
He’s showered, dressed, hair dried, concealer under his eyes and on that one pimple that pops up every time this week comes around, and ready to go in an hour. Luckily for him, there’s a market at the end of the street, where he goes first to pick up food; he sticks to microwavable soup, some fruit cups, and he grabs a couple jugs of orange juice and some water; just in case.
Even more convenient is the pharmacy next door, and Seokjin slips in, grabbing the medicine from the list that Jungkook texted him - children’s cough syrup and Motrin for Yongsik, heavy-duty shit for Jungkook, and, just in case the organic, freshly-squeezed orange juice he bought isn’t enough, vitamin-c gummies.
Afterwards, he lugs his shopping bags thirty seconds back down the street to his townhouse; Seokjin loves his little neighborhood, so much.
Seokjin takes his car, as usual, since he lives in an outlying, nearly-suburban part of the city, and the studio is more in the city-center, while Jungkook’s apartment is even further, in one of the residential areas. He takes the highway, ambling steadily along in the mid-morning traffic, slightly regretting his decision to wear a sweater. The material is thin, cozy, but it’s turning out to be a warm day, warmer than they’ve had. So he pushes the navy sleeves up to his elbows, before the takes the exit that’ll lead him to the studio.
Not staying long, but aware that Namjoon is somewhere in the building, Seokjin pops in and out of his office, grabbing the laptop they bought so that Jungkook can help them work on different things. He’ll be back to help Namjoon later, but right now, there’s someone else that needs him.
This time of day, hazy sun yawning down on him, finding parking near the front door of the tall building is easy - Seokjin uses the code Jungkook sent him to get through the residents’ gate, and backs his car into a spot, hoping that since they aren’t numbered, he won’t get fined. Five minutes later, he’s gently tapping on Jungkook’s door, aware that Yongsik is sleeping, shopping bags over his shoulder, laptop case in his hand.
It takes him completely by surprise, for some reason, so much so that he spends a solid ten seconds staring - Jungkook opens the door, and, for once, he doesn’t look like the human embodiment of a god; in reality, he looks bad, like he hasn’t slept, showered, or shaved in days.
He’s still cute, though.
“I know,” Jungkook sighs, standing back so Seokjin can come in. “I told you, I’m dying. I know I look like crap.”
Seokjin ducks his head, kicking off his shoes. “I said nothing.”
Jungkook leads him into the tiny space, lit up by sunlight filtered in through the balcony doors. Once again, Seokjin is surprised; he’d thought Jungkook lived with his mom, but the apartment looks barely big enough for Jungkook, let alone for the three of them, including Yongsik. The kitchen takes up half of one wall, just inside the apartment, then there’s a door, Seokjin guesses the bathroom. The rest of the apartment is visible to the eye, just a narrow seating area, taken up by a sectional, a TV on a low stand, and a coffee table. There’s another door to the right, probably the bedroom.
There are flowers, everywhere - faded, rose and gold-toned florals on the rugs, cherry-red tulips on the dishtowels. There are even purple and white flowers embroidered on the towels that Seokjin can see hanging on the balcony to dry, and he wonders if Jungkook really likes flowers that much. To his knowledge, Jungkook stays with his mom, saving money to afford a large down payment on his own place - but this place is way too small, so perhaps he’s wrong.
“It’s a mess, sorry,” Jungkook says, his voice thick and dry from coughing, moving a pile of clothes from the couch to the floor before sitting down. “My mom usually cleans up after us, but she’s staying with a coworker to avoid this.” He gestures to his red nose, before sighing. “I was trying, but standing and bending over makes me dizzy.”
Well, that answers that.
“Here,” Seokjin hands over the bag of meds, “take some of this, and please, take a shower. I’ll hang around a bit, put up the food and make you some soup.”
Jungkook takes the bag, but his eyes fall to the floor. “You don’t have to, hyung.”
“I know,” is all the elder says, hoisting the shopping bags to the countertop. “Go, shower.”
Either he’s learned to accept Seokjin’s persistency, or he’s too sick and tired to try, but either way, after downing some medicine for his cough, and some for his headache, with a giant glass of orange juice, Jungkook takes a towel from a shelf by the bathroom, a shirt and pair of shorts from the pile of clothes he previously moved to the floor, and disappears into the bathroom. While he’s gone, Seokjin puts the food up, using context clues to guess which cabinet to put the soup and crackers in. The rest of it, the fruit cups and juice, he shoves into the fridge, moving a box of pizza that looks a little too old to the trash.
Not able to help himself, and with Jungkook unable to talk him out of it, Seokjin tiptoes around the apartment, gathering dirty dishes, plates and bowls, a sippy cup or two, before depositing in the sink. He uses another tissue as a barrier to pick up the thousands of used ones strewn over every surface, then promptly washes his hands, moving fast as to not disturb Jungkook’s shower.
It doesn’t take long to clean up, in truth - the apartment is small enough that it doesn’t take much time at all, though Seokjin has no idea what the bedroom looks like; he’s still a bit shocked that three people live in such a small space, if he’s being honest. It’s crazy.
There’s a little box, between the window and the TV, with Yongsik’s name painted on the front in bright red - this is where Seokjin drops the random toys and books, the occasional large, blocky puzzle piece; he assumes most of the toys are in the bedroom, because it doesn’t seem like Yongsik has much.
It also seems that, while the system is a little flawed, Jungkook does manage to put his dirty clothes in the hamper next to the couch, while his clean clothes stay in a pile somewhere around the room; so Seokjin folds them quickly (thankfully, there’s no underwear in the pile, though Seokjin can’t decide if that’s a good sign or not), leaving them on the coffee table, before he hunts around for the broom. After that’s done, he finds a clean bowl, a clean spoon, and shoves some soup in the microwave for the younger, apparently timing it perfectly; as the microwave beeps, Jungkook emerges from the bathroom, his hair a tangled, damp mess, his face shiny and freshly-shaved - he looks several times better than before, albeit still tired and dull, but it’s definitely an improvement.
He takes one look around the semi-clean apartment, and offers Seokjin a weak smile. “Thanks,” he mutters, dropping his dirty clothes in the hamper. “I just… it’s been a weekend.”
“No problem,” the elder says lightly, offering Jungkook the bowl of soup. “Here, eat something.”
He stares at the bowl for a second, expression tired. “I’m almost not even hungry,” he groans. “But-” he takes it, before Seokjin can say anything else. “I’ll eat.”
While he eats, slowly but surely, Seokjin washes the dishes; he doesn’t ask before he does so, and Jungkook doesn’t try to stop him. At this point, they both know that Seokjin isn’t going to listen, and Jungkook probably doesn’t have the strength to resist. The elder’s going to take advantage of that while he can, if only for now.
Jungkook brings the bowl over when he’s done, just as Seokjin is finishing up; taking it and reaching for the sponge again, Seokjin glances at the younger. “Feel better?”
“Feel sleepy, and I can actually breathe.” As if to emphasis this, Jungkook takes a deep breath, only wheezing a bit. “I have a couple of things to do, then I need to nap, I think, while I have the chance. Then I can work on the last batch of cuts for you.”
Mindful that he may be pushing his luck, Seokjin keeps quiet; he finishes up his mini-cleaning tirade by wiping down the counters, before drying his hands on a sunflowery kitchen towel, feeling more accomplished than he ever has while cleaning his own kitchen.
When he turns around, he finds Jungkook sprawled across the small couch, arm thrown over his eyes to shield them from the light. He doesn’t look necessarily peaceful, and Seokjin can still hear his wheezing, but he looks comfortable, at least. He yawns, toes pointing outward, and Seokjin is about ready to head over and ask him to talk, when a wailing sob starts up in the single bedroom.
Jungkook is on his feet in the amount of time it takes Seokjin to pinpoint the sound as a crying Yongsik; the younger opens and slips through the door, softly cursing, leaving Seokjin standing in the main room.
He doesn’t know what to do, truthfully. He can hear Yongsik crying, even now, though the sound is more muted, and he can hear the gentle sound of Jungkook consoling him; but Seokjin can’t do anything but stand there, feeling much more like an outsider than he had a moment ago.
Should he go in, he thinks, or wait? He doesn’t really want to go in, as there’s nothing he can do but be in the way, but Jungkook is exhausted, and as sick as Yongsik - he should be resting, not stretching himself thin to take care of his son, and do a hundred and one things for Seokjin, Namjoon, and whomever else. It wouldn’t be a problem for Seokjin to make a quick call and stay at the apartment, help Jungkook out.
Seokjin bites his lip, looking around the small space. He’s about to say screw it, and go in to offer to get Yongsik back to sleep so Jungkook can get his own nap; but, his eyes land on the shopping bag still sitting on the counter, and he heads for that instead.
How both he and Jungkook had forgotten that Seokjin’s purpose for coming was bringing medicine (as far as Jungkook knows), is a mystery, but he’s remembered now.
A few minutes later, Seokjin shuffles quietly into the room, a sippy cup of orange juice in one hand, a bottle of cough syrup and motrin in the other, and a box of tissues under his arm - just in case. The scene before him hurts in a way he hadn’t expected.
Jungkook is sitting cross-legged on a small twin bed, Yongsik in his arms, and he rocks side to side, one hand running circles on his son’s back. Yongsik has stopped crying, but he’s still sniffling, breathing heavily - Seokjin’s chest tightens in sympathy, as he meets Jungkook’s tired, defeated eyes.
“Here,” the elder whispers, squatting down. He hands the sippy cup over, before uncapping the medicine. Yongsik takes it like a champ, only scrunching his upturned nose (a trait from his father) despite the plasticky, unnatural tastes of the medicines.
After he’s downed half the juice, haltingly because he can’t quite breathe, Seokjin stands and reaches for the kid.
“You should probably come, too,” is all the elder says, as Yongsik, warm with a low fever, rests his cheek on Seokjin’s shoulder.
He takes them to the bathroom, where he turns the shower on, knob turned as far left as it’ll go, before turning the shower head away. Jungkook seems to get the idea, closing the door behind them.
At Seokjin’s offer, he sits on the closed toilet, while Seokjin leans against the sink. “I don’t know why I didn’t think of this,” the younger sighs. “Fuck’s sake.”
Feeling Yongsik relax in his hold, Seokjin gently shushes him, patting his shoulder with his free hand. “It’s okay, Kookie, just breathe. You need this, too.”
As the bathroom fills with steam, it gets harder to take deep breaths, but it does help the two sick ones in the room breathe a little easier, clearing their passages of congestion. Yongsik falls asleep, breathing easier against Seokjin’s shoulder, and Jungkook’s wheezing fully vanishes; Seokjin himself feels like he’s been completely cleared of early-spring allergies, as his hair begins to stick to his forehead.
He’s massively regretting his choice of clothing, now, too.
They spend a while in the steam, even after Seokjin’s switched the water off, just soaking up the remnants - it feels like an hour passes, though Seokjin has no way of knowing. He finds it hard to think past the sleepy weight of Yongsik, which seems to be steadily growing, and the fact that he’s boiling alive in his sweater. He’s almost positive that his concealer has melted off, too; so much for looking like he’s not a vampire that spends too much time going through photos and reading toe-curling LGBT+ romance novels until dawn.
Jungkook, who’s been sitting sideways on the toilet, back to the wall with his eyes closed for the majority of the time, slowly opens his eyes when Seokjin mentions that the steam is dispersing.
“Yeah,” the younger says, standing, “here, I’ll put him back in bed.”
Back in the fresh, slightly chilly air of the main room, Jungkook pauses, nodding towards the stack of folded clothes on the coffee table. “Feel free to grab a shirt, your sweater is like, completely soaked.”
Glancing down at himself, Seokjin snorts a little. “Thanks,” he says.
Seokjin helps himself to the clean pile of clothes, pushing all semi-creepy, highly inappropriate thoughts that immediately come to mind, while Jungkook is in the bedroom; he quickly peels off his damp sweater before shrugging into a big white shirt, then he slips onto the balcony to hang up his sweater - hopefully it’ll dry; otherwise, he’ll be going home later in Jungkook’s shirt, and he tries not to think about that.
He’s sitting on the couch, sending a text to Namjoon letting him know that he’s probably not going to make it to the studio today, when he hears the bedroom door shut. “My computer is down in the car,” he mentions, not looking up from his phone, “so I can work here today, help you finish up.”
Not noticing the silence drags on until he’s sent the text to Namjoon, Seokjin looks up, looking around - he isn’t expecting what he sees.
Jungkook stands, back to the bedroom door, and he’s crying. He’s not sobbing, not making a sound; but tears leave glistening streaks down his face, before they crash to his already wet t-shirt. He pushes a hand through his hair as he notices Seokjin staring, and it stays, sticking up in half a dozen different directions. “Sorry,” he tries to say, but it comes out as a whisper. “I’m just… I hate when he’s sick.”
It’s more than that, Seokjin can see - he doesn’t have to ask.
A few moments later, as the rest of the tears finally surface, Seokjin has the younger next to him on the couch, and he has his arm firmly around Jungkook’s shoulders. He cries silently into his hands, hunched over with his elbows on his knees, but he doesn’t shy away from Seokjin’s touch; if anything, he leans closer, nearly turning into the elder.
It isn’t a breakdown, nor is it ugly, so Seokjin doesn’t say anything. He does nothing more than offer Jungkook his presence, through the soft storm - it seems to be enough.
The tears come from exhaustion, Seokjin thinks, from the weight of being a parent, a young one, at that, and from somewhere else, somewhere Jungkook keeps concealed behind a cackling smile and graceful evasion. He hasn’t broken, only cracked, but it was bound to happen - Seokjin only wishes he’d been able to help sooner.
As Jungkook runs out of tears, Seokjin stands, quickly retrieving the younger a glass of water, as well as a handful of (much needed) tissues. Sitting back down, replacing his arm back around a pair of slender shoulders, Seokjin decides it’s now or never.
“So,” he says, leaning back against the cushions, gently tugging Jungkook back with him. They’re pressed together, now, their knees bumping, and Jungkook seems comfortable nestled under his arm. There are butterflies in Seokjin’s chest, but he ignores them, for now. “Tell me what’s going on, let me help.”
Jungkook sniffs, all the work that the hot shower did made useless by the crying, and sighs heavily, moreso due to the fact that he can’t breathe, rather than a reflection of his actual mood. He drops his head back to Seokjin’s arm, kicks his feet up onto the coffee table, and with one last, shaky breath, he finally tells Seokjin everything.
When Yongsik was born, Jungkook dropped out of school and worked at a warehouse full-time for his uncle, doing what he could to support Yongsik and his mother - they hadn’t been together, when she got pregnant, Jungkook says; they’d been friends who hung out once in awhile, and one night, things just happened, though the way Jungkook explains it, Seokjin can’t help but think it’s one of those things that was always bound to happen - regardless, when she came to him with the test results, he was willing to pool his money with hers, and move into a small studio-style apartment just off campus. He continued his education as long as he could, working part time, then, to save, and as he finished his sophomore year, he became a father.
“It wasn’t as hard as people told me it would be,” Jungkook says, pausing to take a sip of water. “Nari and I got along fine, and, I dunno, we weren’t like, in love or whatever, but we were content, for a while. It took me way too long to realize she wasn’t happy, though, and by the time I did, she’d already come up with a plan.”
He keeps telling the story, and it’s bittersweet, at most. Nari, Yongsik’s mother, wasn’t happy, as Jungkook mentioned. She loved her son, but she didn’t love the life she was leading - she was also unwilling to give up her future for the sake of her family.
“She wanted to keep going to school, which was fine with me,” Jungkook explains. “It was okay at first, just hard. Yongsik wasn’t even a year old and any money she made at the restaurant went to her tuition, so I was responsible for everything else, which, yeah, I get, but… my mom could only do so much in the way of babysitting, and her parents had noped out of her life when she told them she was pregnant - I think that has a lot to do with her decision, too, but it doesn’t matter now. Point is, daycare is expensive, and it just got harder and harder to afford to live like we were.”
Seokjin listens, without speaking for the most part - he’s almost too paranoid that Jungkook will stop talking if he’s interrupted.
“We started fighting, but not really fighting? Just… we had to start working out who would be home what day, who would drop Yongsik off, pick him up, who would miss a shift or miss class to be home with him. I started working overnight shifts, just so that I could be home with him during the day, but it was so hard. I’d pass out the moment Nari got home, but she had homework, papers to write, and it just made things tense.”
“That wasn’t fair to you,” Seokjin says, unable to contain his annoyance. “You were trying so hard, and she just-”
“She was trying, too, hyung,” Jungkook assures him with a shrug. “I guess she maybe thought I was trying to hold her back, which I wasn’t, but I did get upset when she seemed to choose school over us. I didn’t want to accept that she was trying to be a better mother in the only way she knew how, I guess? I loved her, I think, in a way, but it was ridiculous to think we could just, be a family, you know? We barely knew each other as people, let alone parents.”
Seokjin shakes his head. “Not so ridiculous, Kook.”
The younger tilts his head, offering Seokjin a smile. “Maybe not,” he mutters, before he gives a small laugh. “But, of course, we drifted apart. I think we’d both realized we wouldn’t be together much longer. She met Yugyeom at work, never hid how she felt about him, for months, and I still don’t know just how long they were together before we broke up, but it’s not something I can be angry about, not now. He made her happy, then, when I couldn’t, and I think he was what she needed. When Yongsik turned one, and our lease was up, she moved in with him, and I moved back here, with my mom.”
There are two things, at this point, that Seokjin is dying to ask. The words are on the tip of his tongue, still unformed, but they burst from his lips anyway. “I can’t see how you live here with your mom. There’s only one bedroom, where… do you sleep?”
“Here,” Jungkook pats the couch cushions. “My mom and Yongsik sleep in the bedroom. I sleep on the couch.”
While his brain processes this, his second question doesn’t hesitate before verbalizing itself. “Why doesn’t Yongsik live with his mom, then? I mean, did she go to court, or?”
“No, we didn’t need court,” the younger responds quickly. “We may have been shitty at being together, but with that expectation gone, we were pretty good at talking things out. Even now, we manage, and she even sends me some money when she can, for clothes and stuff for Yongsik. But, in the beginning, he did live with her.”
Jungkook goes quiet, now, and Seokjin forces himself to do the same. If it’s something Jungkook wants to talk about, he will. If not, then the conversation will move on. Biting his lip, the elder waits, heart beating steadily faster as time passes.
Finally (thank God), Jungkook continues.
“It… was really bad, for me. It was just bad in general, to be honest, because no matter what, we’d gotten used to, well, being together. We both knew it was the best thing to do, but officially breaking up was hard, and it was really hard on Nari; she told me, before she left, that she felt like she’d completely failed, as a mom, as a person, basically. She was having a hard time with school, she felt like she hadn’t been there for Yongsik, and, despite everything, she felt like she was giving up on me. I couldn’t help, I was just as upset, but when she brought up who Yongsik would live with, it seemed… wrong for me to take him. I mean, shit, hyung, she gave birth to him, she went through that. So I told her I’d take him on weekends, and he could live with her.”
Pausing to blow his nose, Jungkook sags further into the couch, his words softening. “It was too much for her, I think, with school, work, Yongsik, and a relationship - she was basically back in the same position. Yugyeom is a great guy, and he loves Yongsik to death, but he was awkward with him, I guess. He was fine with being with Nari, with her being a mother, but he wasn’t quite okay with suddenly being a stepfather so soon.”
“Understandable,” Seokjin comments. “But he should have expected that it would happen.”
“I agree, but it wasn’t because of him that Yongsik moved back in with me,” Jungkook continues. “Nari came over one night, she was a mess, crying and shaking. She told me she couldn’t do it, she couldn’t be a mother, not yet. She’d tried, I knew she had, she tried so hard, but it wasn’t right. She loves him, she’d give her soul for him in a second, but, in her words, she had so much to do before she would ever be ready to settle down and raise a child.”
He can’t help it - Seokjin curses, shaking his head. “That’s fucking stupid. When you have a child, you raise that child, unless you are physically incapable of doing so-”
“It’s not that easy,” Jungkook says sharply, interrupting him. “As far as I’m concerned, she made the right decision. I was dying without him, hyung, and she was dying trying to find a balance. Yeah, life screwed up with us and put us in a shitty position, but we both did the best we could - the ‘right’ way wasn’t the right way for us.”
Seokjin’s mouth snaps shut - Jungkook hasn’t moved, they’re still, for all it matters, cuddling on the couch; but the tone in the younger’s voice catches Seokjin by surprise. In retrospect, he should’ve seen Jungkook’s reaction coming from a mile away - he waits for Jungkook to speak, but when he doesn’t, Seokjin thinks it’s best if he apologizes.
Clearing his throat, he lifts his arm a bit, slightly jarring the younger. “Sorry,” he tells him. “I didn’t mean to say shit about her.”
Jungkook only shrugs. “It’s okay. I know how it looks like, and you’re not the first to think she took the easy way out. My mom, she hates Nari, but… just because someone has a kid, doesn’t mean they’re meant to be a parent. I mean, yeah, my current situation might be a little easier if I… if I had someone, someone like her, but she helps as much as she’s able and I can’t ask her for anything more than that.”
Jungkook sneezes suddenly, sitting up. Seokjin passes him a tissue, his heart melting at the grateful smile the younger gives him.
“Okay,” the elder says, “speaking of current situation; tell me what that is, so you can get to bed.”
“Ah, yeah,” Jungkook nods, shifting until his legs are folded beneath him. “I kind of told you my entire memoir, there.”
“I don’t mind.”
Jungkook smiles again, and it reaches his red, tired eyes this time - it makes him look like an entirely different person. “Well, long story short - better late than never - I started college again. A few months ago, night classes, mainly, a couple weekend courses, one online class.”
“Hey, that’s a good thing!” Seokjin cuts in. “That’s really good. What major?”
“Architecture,” the younger replies with a small grin. “With a minor in photography.” He starts to fidget, Seokjin notices, wringing his hands and smoothing his thumbs across his palms. “The school is really trying to work with me, with my situation and all, and it was fine until my mom got a promotion.”
It makes sense, now - not all of it, but most of it. “Night classes don’t allow kids to tag along, I’m guessing,” Seokjin comments.
Jungkook shakes his head. “Nope. My mom was watching him, but with her promotion, she works until eight or nine now, and I do use the on-campus daycare, anyway; I love it, for the most part. But after a certain time, they charge double an hour, and that’s just… too damn expensive.”
“So, money is the problem?” Seokjin asks, getting to his feet. He pours himself a glass of juice, as well as one for the other - he has the suspicion that, thought it might take a week or two, he’s going to catch whatever Jungkook and Yongsik have; nothing wrong with starting some preventative measures, now.
When he returns to the couch, Jungkook breathes hard, through his mouth, eyes on his glass. “Well, no? Not really, I mean. I have the money. Daycare is good for him and all, but I don’t want him staying there all day? I dunno, just… I don’t like the idea. Even if I wanted to, though, I’m really trying to save up for a deposit on our own place.”
The distressed, anxious look is back in Jungkook’s eyes now, and Seokjin wishes he knew what to say. Even if he did know, Jungkook doesn’t give him a chance before he’s sighing, and speaking again, depositing his glass on the end table and reaching for his laptop, still in its case by the table where Seokjin dropped it.
“I’m sorry,” he says, and it’s so sudden that Seokjin’s mouth falls open. “I know you and Namjoon depend on me for certain things, and I thought I had it under control. I can finish these edits up today, don’t worry.”
Seokjin watches Jungkook reach back into the bag for the USB with the photos on it. “It’s not that big a deal, Kook.”
The younger doesn’t seem to hear him; or want to, rather. “I’m working on figuring it out, I promise,” he continues, steering dangerously close to the land of tangents. “Please, don’t… I’m going to get this done, today. I just need a little more time, maybe I can find a babysitter. Nari takes Yongsik on the weekends, so I can catch up on school work, but-”
“I can watch him.” The words literally launch themselves from Seokjin’s chest, without him even thinking. The only thing he can fathom at the moment is finding someway, any way, to get that look of defeat from Jungkook’s face; the expression seems to age him, from twenty, to fifty, and it breaks Seokjin’s open, if not slightly cynical, heart.
This gets Jungkook’s attention. He turns to Seokjin, eyes wide and a little glassy. “You… what?”
The elder feels his face warm, and can only hope Jungkook doesn’t notice in his tired, medicated state. He clears his throat, trying to actually think before he speaks this time. “I mean, I’m free after four pretty much everyday. I don’t mind picking Yongsik up and watching him while you’re in class.”
“Hyung, I can’t ask you to do that-”
“You didn’t,” Seokjin points out with a smile. “I offered.”
He expects Jungkook to smile back, or at least look a little relieved; but he only seems to sink deeper into distress. “I don’t want to be anymore of a problem than I already am, hyung.”
Once again, Seokjin is struck by surprise; but this time, he refuses to be silent.
He reaches out, taking Jungkook’s hand in a firm grip, and makes sure the younger is looking him dead in the face. “Jungkook,” he begins, “there is nothing problematic about you. You’re part of the team, you have been for months, and I promise, all of us are willing to help. You’re not going through this alone, okay?”
Jungkook looks like he’s going to cry again, his nose turning pink as he holds it back. He nods, dropping his eyes. “Thank you,” he says. “But… I don’t want the others to know.” He looks back up, eyes shining. “I just… I don’t want them to worry, because I know they will.”
“They will,” Seokjin admits. “But if you let me help, then I won’t tell them.”
It takes all of thirty seconds before Jungkook, with a deep, relieved (finally) sigh, agrees. “Okay,” he breathes, nodding. “Okay.” He turns back to the laptop, fingers still on the keyboard. “You’ll have to come down to the daycare with me, so I can put you on the list… oh, shit, you’ll need a carseat-”
In one swift move, that impresses even himself, Seokjin has the laptop in his hands, and tosses the blanket from the back of the couch at Jungkook’s face. “We’ll go when you two are better, and I’ll borrow a car seat from my sister. You,” he points at Jungkook’s startled face, “sleep. I’ll stick around and edit, and check on you both in a bit.”
“Are you sure?” the younger asks, though he’s already shaking the blanket out around him. He’s tired, too tired to even put up much of a front anymore, that much is evident.
Seokjin nods. “Yep. I’ll wake you up in a few hours.”
Jungkook stands, the blanket wrapped tightly around him. With the laptop on his knees, Seokjin settles in, but before he can disappear into the dark, deep void of editing, Jungkook speaks up.
“Hyung,” he mutters, eyes peeking over a fold in the blanket as he pauses next to the bedroom door. “Thank you.”
“No problem, Kookie.”
Surprising absolutely no one, the morning after they successfully get up this month’s issue, Seokjin wakes up mid-morning with a tightness in his chest and a slight cough. But after a visit to the doctor that takes ten minutes, a shot in the ass and a three day dose of antibiotics, Seokjin is fine, back to his daily routine of pushups and sit-ups in the morning, sassing Namjoon back at the office at noon, and trashy movies with a greasy dinner by eight.
Except, that’s going to change, now.
“Okay, I think this is all of them,” Jungkook says, passing Seokjin a jumbo sticky note with names and phone numbers scrawled across it. “My mom, her work, the daycare - office and the caregiver’s cell - Yongsik’s doctor, Nari’s cell and work, and this,” he passes another slip of paper across the counter to the elder. “Is my class schedule, just in case you need to call or find me, or, like, if you can’t watch him on a certain day you’ll know ahead of time when I-”
“Jungkook, please,” the elder sighs, pointing his chopsticks at the plate in front of the younger that’s bound to be cold by now. “I worked very hard on this lunch, so eat, please.”
Eyes wide, Jungkook nods. “Right, right, sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry, just be fed. I’ll take these,” Seokjin takes the notes, “and put them in the office.”
He leaves Jungkook sitting at the island (Jungkook had been chattering nonstop, they hadn’t made it to the dining table) chowing down on the jajangmyeon Seokjin made them for lunch, and goes to his office off the hall. He saves all the numbers in his phone before he tapes the notes on his desktop, smiling because Jungkook, even with his spastic, over-thinking, is cute as hell.
They stopped by the daycare earlier in the day, adding Seokjin to the list of people allowed to pick up Yongsik; he’d had to fill out a form, give them a copy of his ID, and they even took his license plate number. While Jungkook sat on the floor of the play room with Yongsik climbing all over him, as well as a dozen other children, Seokjin sat at a tiny-tiny table with the head caregiver, where he got a strict lecture on pick-up times, drop off times (just in case), what he’d need to do if there were any accidents or emergencies and Jungkook or his mom were unable to come.
He even got a list of what to include in Yongsik’s daypack on the chance that he’d be responsible for packing it - it was a little intense, admittedly, but all things considered, Seokjin is glad for it, for Jungkook and Yongsik’s sake.
Then they’d gone back to Seokjin’s house, installed a baby gate at the bottom of his stairs, baby-proofed the rest of the bottom floor, and made a list of things Jungkook would need to bring by that Seokjin may need for the kid: some toys, extra diapers (they’re in the middle of toilet training, but it’s a touch and go process), sippy cups, a few outfits, some of his favorite movies. Then, Seokjin had made them some lunch, hoping to get Jungkook to stay a little while longer.
Shuffling back into the kitchen, sunlight streaming into the room through the blinds on the patio doors, Seokjin is happy to see that Jungkook’s plate is just about licked clean; it’s a good sight. “Good?” he asks, taking the dirty dishes to the sink.
“Mm.” Jungkook quickly swallows down the last bite with a gulp of soda. “So good, hyung, thanks.”
“No problem.” Filling the sink with soapy water, the elder turns, resting his hip against the counter. “So, what’re you doing the rest of the day?”
“Uh, I have to stop by campus, I need a couple of books for a paper due next week. Then I’m meeting Tae because he wants to use my student card to order some art supplies, and after that… I think I’m just picking up Yongsik and going home to study- oh no, I have to meet Nari so we can all have dinner.” He sighs, the snorts, laughing a little at himself. “Shit, I almost forgot.”
One emotion that Seokjin hadn’t expected to come from all of this is the sinking, slightly hot jealously. Stress, yes, frustration, sure; he’d even anticipated that gross, clammy, slightly nauseating feeling that comes with having a crush on Jeon Jungkook - but the jealousy, even though it’s a small, pin pricking emotion, blooms somewhere between his chest and his stomach and startles him as much as it annoys him.
“Hyung? Did you hear me?”
“No, sorry, what?” Seokjin almost drops the dishtowel into the water in his attempt to turn around. “My brain exited for a second, what’d you say?”
The younger is smiling, giving him that rosey-cheeked look. “I said,” he begins, crossing his arms on the counter. “Nari wants to meet you. I, uh, told her, about you offering to take Yongsik and all, and she thinks it’d be cool if you two met.”
More of that pricking envy slithers its way under Seokjin’s skin. “She doesn’t like it?”
Jungkook shakes his head. “Oh, no, it’s not like that. She just wants to meet you, say hello and all that.”
Seokjin shrugs; he can’t really say no, not that he would. “Okay,” he agrees.
“Do you… want me to ask if you can tag along tonight? I have no idea if Yugyeom is coming or not,...” he trails off, eyes on the elder. “It’s last minute, I know, so if you have something planned tonight, I get it.”
He could say no, he thinks; he could put it off, say he has plans - it’d be a lie, outright. Seokjin has nothing planned aside from a date with a cucumber sheet mask, a beer, and a browsing session of the Gay category on Netflix.
He’s too old for this, really.
“Yeah, sure,” he nods, offering Jungkook a smile. “Just gimme the time and place, I’ll be there.”
Later, Seokjin spends some time (with his planned facemask) going through some photos he took last year on his trip to the Philippines; most of them are good, because he took them, but only a dozen or so are unique and refined enough to really live up to his standards. He adds fifteen photos he took at Kayangan Lake in Palawan, most of which were taken in the early, early hours, with the sky a pale, dusky violet, to a separate folder to be lightly edited.
There’s a magazine that’s been hounding him for these photos, for a month, but he just hasn’t found the time to sort through them all; he still doesn’t have the time, if he’s being honest, but he really should make the time.
He’s going to be even tighter on time helping Jungkook out, but if that’s the source of his lack of time, he’s not going to complain. At least he can say he’s busy being productive, rather than just binge-watching Disney films (as per usual).
It’s a quarter to four, and Seokjin is just adding the finishing touches to one of the last photographs, when his phone lights up, buzzing harshly on the acrylic surface of his desk. It actually causes him to startle, his chin slipping from his fist as he jerks, cursing; he rolls his eyes at himself, as he reaches for the phone.
Jungkook [3:47PM]: hyung do u like seafood?
Me [3:49PM]: only like, a lot
Jungkook [4:01PM]: lol I thought so. we’re going to captain jack’s, do u know where it is?
Me [4:03PM]: sure do.
Jungkook [4:04PM]: meet us there at 6? it’s just Nari, Yugyeom is working tonight.
Jungkook [4:05PM]: thanks again for doing this hyung
Me [4:07PM]: :D see you in a bit
Leaving his phone on the kitchen counter, Seokjin goes upstairs to his bathroom, peeling off the sheet mask that he’s had on entirely too long. As he goes through the motions of brushing his teeth, styling his hair, addling lip balm and a tiny spritz of cologne, he let’s his mind wander.
In all honesty, meeting Yongsik’s mom is the last thing he wants to do - he understands why he has to, of course, and he has no plans to back out or avoid it. And he knows he’s being just slightly childish about the whole thing. He’s just Jungkook’s boss, his friend; he has no right to feel jealous or be angry at the woman who broke Jungkook’s heart, who put the younger in this tough situation. Jungkook had explained it as something the two of them did, together, that nobody was at fault, but Seokjin had grown up with three sisters, making him somewhat over-protective in nature. He truly can’t help the bubbling in his chest that’s reminiscent of heartburn when he thinks about Nari, about Jungkook raising that little boy alone, barely an adult himself.
Staring at his closet, Seokjin sighs, willing himself to behave; Jungkook isn’t his to protect, not his at all, actually, so being grumpy and guarded won’t do shit for anyone. Picking out a soft-beige sweater, and a pair of his best jeans, Seokjin decides it’ll be best if he’s polite to Nari, a little indifferent to Jungkook simply to hide his feelings, and mostly attentive to Yongsik. He can’t go wrong if he’s busy showing a three year old how to crack into a freshly steamed crab leg.
He didn’t plan on it, but he arrives just after six, power-walking down the street because he decided to bus instead of drive and busses sometimes make too many stops or pause too long at stop signs. His heart nearly swells to the size of a watermelon when he spots Jungkook, standing just outside of the restaurant in a hoodie and black jeans, looking for all the world like he belongs on Seokjin’s set. The younger smiles in turn when he sees him, tugging one hand from his pocket to wave; Seokjin is grateful for the cool night - he’s been jogging for a block and half, almost, and he’s glad it isn’t as hot as it’s been getting during the day.
“Hey, hyung,” Jungkook greets, his hand coming out to rest against the elder’s arm. “Sorry we’re a little out of the way for you, but Yongsik loves this place.”
Seokjin shakes his head, casually attempting to catch his breath. “Because of the arcade? Uh, yeah dude, me too.”
“Thank God I’m not the only one.”
The restaurant is busy, most of the tables taken, but not all, so there’s a little room to walk, to squeeze through those seated. Seokjin follows Jungkook to their table, where Nari must be waiting with Yongsik; he passes servers hoisting platters of food, from grilled shrimp and fried fish, to jeongol and miyeokguk, and he almost falls over, mouth watering.
He spots Yongsik first, standing in his seat, leaning this way and that, presumably looking for Jungkook. He’s dressed in a plain white t-shirt and jean overalls, tiny little boots on his feet - he definitely looks like Jungkook’s son.
Then Seokjin spots the girl sitting next to him, her cheek resting on her fist, and his stomach swoops with nerves, sudden and unbidden; her expression is soft, indulging, this is the first thing Seokjin notices.
The next thing that makes itself incredibly apparent is that Nari is cute - she’s downright adorable, full cheeks and wide eyes lined gently in black, her hair swept behind her ears. On the surface, she looks like a kind person, sweet and meek, more likely to bow out of confrontations before they even happen - but as they get closer, Seokjin inadvertently orbiting closer and closer to the back of Jungkook’s head, he can see the steel in her eyes, the no-nonsense, don’t-even-think-about-it glint held therein; she’s a badass, no doubt about it. Regardless of her past and her choices as a parent, Seokjin can’t help but acknowledge that she’d go down swinging for her son, and perhaps even Jungkook.
“Hey, kid,” Seokjin laughs, managing to catch Yongsik as he launches himself into the elder’s arm.
“He tried three times to go after you,” Nari says, taking a sip of water. “Tried to con me into playing hide and seek just to do it, too.”
After introductions, which are short and sweet, thankfully, Seokjin scoots into the booth across from Nari, once Yongsik is back in his seat. He experiences a moment of panic, where he isn’t sure which is worse, sitting next to her, or across from her - he decides he’d rather have Nari stare at him, than be accidentally bumping elbows the entire night.
It helps that Jungkook scoots in next to him, and immediately passes him a menu claiming to be starving - it helps a lot to bury his face in the sticky plastic-covered cardboard.
As it turns out, he worried for nothing, which is the case with him pretty much ninety percent of the time; Nari pays most of her attention to her son, but when her regard does turn towards him, she’s perfectly nice, all smiles.
With their food ordered and on its way. Yongsik suddenly stands, pointing one little hand off into the distance. “Daddy. Potty,” he says with a deep look.
A split-second later, he and Jungkook are walking hand in hand, away from the table, leaving Seokjin alone.
“So,” she begins, tucking stray hairs behind her ears. Seokjin looks up at her, waiting for her to continue - but she’s just staring, considering him with some sort of knowing, secretive look.
“So…?” he prompts, clearing his throat. “I guess potty training is going well?”
“Oh, yeah, Jungkook’s doing a really good job with him. We’re trying to be fully and completely done with diapers before the end of the year,” Nari tells him. “You’ll… have to help with that, you know.”
Seokjin nods, ready for the interrogation; before he can speak, however, Nari changes the subject - it takes a sharp turn into what?
“He wants to start dating, I think, or at least, he’s mentioned it, to me and to Yugyeom. He hasn’t dated, well… for the better part of our son’s life.” She looks off in the direction that Jungkook had taken Yongsik in, her lips curving as she catches the no-doubt confused look on Seokjin’s face. “Do you mind? If he dates?”
Technically, he would, considering. But he’s not about to tell Nari this. “No, of course not,” he tells her instead. “He should date.” And it’s true, Jungkook should go out, get his youth back, even if it’s just for a few hours every now and then.
“Really,” the other mutters; it’s not a question. Her eyes dart around the room, once, before the settle back on Seokjin, and he can see the shadow in them, the burdens; he wonders if she means to let it show.
“I do think he should date,” Seokjin reiterates. “I mean, he does so much, with work, school, Yongsik… he-he deserves… it.”
Nari nods, then shifts in her seat, sighing. When she looks back at him, her eyes are darker. “I don’t know what he’s told you,” she says, “though knowing him, it can’t be much… but he’s ten times the parent than I could ever be. I can only imagine what you must think of me, our… arrangement. Just please know, if anything, that I truly think it’s the best thing for Yongsik, above all. But it’s best for Jungkook and I, as well.”
“I know,” is all Seokjin can say.
He can see the side of her she must hide from the world, he thinks, the side that holds her doubts, her insecurities. Seokjin can almost reach out and tangibly touch her regrets, her second-guessings - as bad as it is, as wrong as it sounds, he likes her better like this, now that she seems a little more human. He can’t help but assume she’s making an effort to be as candid as she can with him. For a moment, Seokjin sees what Jungkook must’ve seen, years ago, when he decided that he’d give their family a chance.
Suddenly, Seokjin feels as if the secret crush he’s harboring for the other is completely ridiculous; he wishes Jungkook and Nari had been able to work things out. He doesn’t think two people could have tried harder than they had.
“Well,” Nari continues. “I’m really glad you’re helping him. I know he’s reserved, pretty bad at saying what he feels, but I hope he figures it out soon.”
Now that they’re back in safer, albeit slightly more confusing, waters, Seokjin cocks his head, playing with his napkin. “Figures it out? Are you talking about school, or-?”
“No, I’m talking about you.”
Question marks, dozens of them, float around Seokjin, bumping into his face. “He… I’m sorry, what?”
Nari lifts her eyes, almost smiling. “He talks about you, a lot, Seokjin. All the time, actually. Hyung did this , or hyung did that , or you should’ve seen the photo shoot hyung did today . Don’t let the shyness fool you, he’s totally into you.”
The buzzing starts somewhere in Seokjin’s gut, making it’s way to his chest, his arms, causing his hands to shake, before it settles in his ears. He’s aware that his mouth opens and closes, several times, but he manages to clear his throat before the cooks decide to add him to the menu.
“I don’t know what you mean,” he mutters, touching the hair by his ears. “He’s… you…. Yongsik.”
He can’t vocalize the thought, the assumption that Jungkook has a kid with her, so he’s obviously straight - but Nari seems to understand, only passing him a withering, amused look, before smiling at something behind him.
“Sorry, sorry,” Jungkook says, falling back into the booth. His knee bumps Seokjin’s, causing the elder to physically shudder. “Bathroom was successful, so we played a quick game of basketball in the arcade.”
Everyone’s attention is on Yongsik, praising him for a job well done, while Seokjin reels in silence. It isn’t until the drinks and food arrive that Jungkook spots the, what must be utterly shaken, look on his face.
“Just really hungry,” Seokjin croaks, when the younger inquires.
Nari hides her smile, as she passes the shrimp.
The remainder of dinner is less earth shattering than the pre-dinner had been; Nari asks the important questions, with Jungkook present: where do you live, do you have any experience with kids, do you know what to do if they’re choking, etc. Seokjin answers them all, despite Jungkook’s attempts to fend her off - they’re necessary questions, and, despite the feeling that Nari does like him, he doesn’t want her to have any doubts about his child-rearing capabilities.
As they’re finishing up their dessert, Nari assisting Yongsik with his spoon, Seokjin finishes telling them about his sister and her good, or bad, depending on how you think about it, luck.
“I cannot believe,” Nari says, “she had twins twice in a row. Man, her house must be loud .”
“I don’t even want to imagine,” Jungkook sighs next to him, looking weary just thinking about.
“I don’t, either,” Yongsik comments solemnly, effectively ruining the mood as the entire table giggles.
Afterwards, with the bill split and paid roughly three ways, the four of them make their way to the arcade, where Seokjin wows them all with his massive talent for Just Dance; he doesn’t really impress the adults, but Yongsik, on his shoulders squealing, seems to get a kick out of it.
The arcade isn’t huge, so it’s not very easy to lose anyone inside, but it’s massive to a tiny human like Yongsik; the kid runs from game to game, one of the adults trailing after at all times, until his eyes are drooping and he’s yawning. Even after, he insists on a dozen more games, and his mother complies, sitting with him on her lap as they play a racing game (Yongsik controls the wheel).
An hour or so in, Seokjin gives the tickets he won to Yongsik, and leaves him with his parents at the prize counter, while he steps out onto the street for some air. He’d eaten entirely too much, and between the arcade, with its machines that play loud music, beeping, shrill sirens, dim lights, and Jungkook’s giggling smile, cute and sexy in a way that makes no sense, Seokjin feels like his face is melting off.
The younger joins him after a few moments, shining that face-melting smile on him. “Hey,” he greets, shoving his hands in his jacket against the chill. “You okay?”
“Yeah, just really loud in there,” Seokjin admits, stretching his arms above his head. “It’s like that one machine is just trying to make your skull explode.”
“The pinball that like, sounds like an ambulance? Yeah, that thing is really fucking loud.”
“It breaks the fourth wall.”
Jungkook laughs, moving to lean against the wall next to the elder, too close, yet too far. Seokjin’s mind jumps back where he’s been avoiding going all night, to Nari’s words, and he wonders, for the fifteenth time in an hour, if she has any idea what she’s talking about.
Jungkook clears his throat, wide eyes turning towards him. “She likes you,” he states casually. “I mean, I didn’t think she wouldn’t, but… she does.”
“I’m glad she does,” Seokjin tells him. “Makes it easier. She’s cool, too.”
The younger shuffles where he stands, a bit, chewing his lip, and Seokjin knows it coming. “I didn’t mean to leave you two alone for so long, earlier… I, uh, what did you talk about?”
“You, mainly,” Seokjin begins, mostly to tease. “And Yongsik, a little. Mostly you, though.”
He watches, waiting, but Seokjin pretends not to notice. “What about me?” he finally asks, “Was it good or bad?”
“It wasn’t good or bad, just talked about you.”
“Hyung,” Jungkook whines, and the sound goes straight to places that it shouldn’t. “Tell me what you talked about.”
“Nah,” Seokjin says with a grin, smiling harder at Jungkook’s pout.
The younger reaches for his arm, shaking it playfully, and Seokjin lets it fall limp. “Why won’t you tell me?” Jungkook laughs, his fingers closing around Seokjin’s wrist as his arm shakes like a wet noodle. “Tell me~”
The elder is laughing, while he turns his hand, his fingers momentarily tangling with the other’s; they struggle, for a moment, for the literal upper hand, giggling the entire time. “Jeez, okay,” he groans through his smile. “We talked about how good of a dad you are, how you run around the house with your underwear on your head, and… how you should date.”
It takes the younger a moment to get through the underwear on the head part, his brows pinched together, mouthing the words; but then he does, his face smoothing out into an expression of mild shock, his arm now limp in Seokjin’s hand.
“You… what?” he asks, eyes searching Seokjin’s face.
The elder shrugs, refusing to lose his smile. “You work really hard, so you, you know, deserve it. Some time to yourself to just, well, have fun,” he explains, feeling Jungkook’s pulse beneath his thumb. “To be happy,” he finishes softly.
The moment that passes between them is strong, but it’s swift, gone in an instant as the door opens a few feet from them. A couple walks out, hand in hand, mentioning something about a late movie, and, suddenly aware that he’s toeing the line (again), Seokjin gently releases the younger’s arm.
Moving back to the wall, Jungkook sniffs, rubbing the back of his hand against his nose. He’s silent, too silent, and for a moment, Seokjin is worried.
Then the younger bumps his shoulder against the elder’s. “I don’t run around with my underwear on top of my head,” he says.
“Oh, right,” Seokjin nods, “that’s me.”
The other snorts, then they both turn and look, as Nari, Yongsik at her side, steps out onto the sidewalk.
Turning back to Seokjin for a split-second, Jungkook grins, his eyes unreadable. “It has to be you, hyung,” he mutters. “I don’t wear underwear.”
“Daddy, got Simba!” Yongsik shouts, holding up a stuffed lion twice his size.
“Oh, cool!” Jungkook says to him, turning his back on a borderline-hyperventilating Seokjin. “That’s awesome, baby. Can I hold him while you say bye to mama?”
Yongsik nods, handing over his prize. “Be careful,” he warns. “Simba bites.”
“I’ll be very careful.”
While Yongsik leaps into his mother’s arms, hugging her tight, Jungkook stands to the side, a backpack over his shoulder, giant stuffed Simba under his arm. Meanwhile, Seokjin is still leaning against the wall, in a state of moderately stunned, doing his utmost to ignore the visual of Jungkook with no underwear that’s flashing in his mind’s eyes.
He’s going to Hell. He has a first class ticket and a parade just for his descent.
“It was nice to meet you,” Nari says with a wry look, bursting into his self-inflicted bubble of pain. “You have my number, right, just in case.”
“Yeah… yeah, Jungkook gave me all the numbers I need,” Seokjin tells her, leaning down to lightly kiss her cheek. “I’ll send you mine, too.”
“Thanks,” she says.
She moves on to hug Jungkook, and, surprisingly, nothing has ever made Seokjin less jealous; they hug like old friends, like brother and sister - whatever they’d had before, it’s gone now, their only bond simply their son. “I’ll see you tomorrow, baby,” she says to Yongsik, leaning down for one last hug and kiss.
After Nari’s hailed a cab and is gone, Jungkook turns back to the elder; the only shimmer Seokjin can see in his eyes is one of gratitude. “Thanks again,” he says sincerely.
“Stop thanking me,” Seokjin tells him, lifting Yongsik with an exaggerated groan. “You’re making it sound like I’m doing this for you, and not to spend time with this one.”
“Hyung, can I bring Simba over to your house?” Yongsik asks him as he hugs him, his tiny arms wrapping around Seokjin’s neck.
“Of course, buddy, as long as it’s okay with your dad.”
“Fine with me,” Jungkook tells him, watching them fondly.
Yongsik is yawning, now, nearly falling asleep where he stands next to his father, Simba held tight in his arms. Seokin can see just as much of Nari in him as he can Jungkook, now; his mother is in the lightness of his hair, the curve of his cheeks and the darkness of his eyes. He gets his long ass lashes from his dad, though, no doubt.
“I’ll see you Monday, hyung,” Jungkook tells him, hand ruffling Yongsik’s hair. “I need to get him home.”
Seokjin nods. “Want me to grab you two a cab? I’m not so sure how Simba is going to fit on the subway.”
Laughing, Jungkook shakes his head. “Nah, we’ll catch the last bus down on the corner. It goes five minutes from the apartment.”
He watches the other two walk away, towards the bus stop. They only get halfway there, before Jungkook has to hoist his son up, the kid too tired to walk, Simba stuffed under one arm. It makes Seokjin smile, warmth blooming from his chest all the way to his toes, as he turns and heads for the subway, for his own home.
Soon, his house will be taken over by the short one; he’ll have toys and children’s books scattered across every surface, cartoons and carrot sticks always within reach (though that’s always been true). He’ll have less time for himself, no chance at having anyone over for… fun, and no time to sprawl across his bed with a beer and porn.
But he doesn’t mind, not in the least; all he can see is Jungkook’s smile, all he can hear is Jungkook’s chattering cackle, the look on his face when he’s carefree and happy, the face that he passed on to his son.
His time and his home are the bare minimums of what Seokjin would sacrifice to keep that smile on Jungkook’s face.
FINALLY I'M SORRY PLS FORGIVE ME
Things are happening, though; one more chapter to go, after this. thank you so much for your support, thus far ;;
“No… you’re not daddy!”
Seokjin sighs, for the fifteenth time in as many minutes - of course Yongsik would go for the cliche - and takes a bite of his own food, raising his eyebrows at Yongsik; the other is currently scowling at him, his big brown eyes wet from his latest tantrum.
“I know I’m not daddy,” he tells the kid, smiling despite his frustration. “But daddy asked me to take care of you, so you need to eat, Yongsikie.”
The toddler’s face smooths out a bit - but then it scrunches up again, and Yongsik turns in his seat, his bottom lip sticking out. “No.”
Another sigh. “Okay,” Seokjin says. “But if you’re not going to eat, you’re going to have to take your bath and go to bed.”
At this, Yongsik’s fit cranks up to full power - he starts crying again, wailing, really, pouting and shoving his bowl across the table. Seokjin doesn’t stop him, he lets him go at it for a few minutes. He knows the kid is just tired, his teacher said he’d been restless during their nap time this morning, but Seokjin also can’t consciously allow Yongsik to go without dinner.
When the tears stop, and he’s left hiccupping, Yongsik looks at him. “I don’t like it,” he mutters, congested. “It tastes bad.”
It’s a slap to Seokjin’s ego, but he knows he can’t base his culinary prowess on the taste of a three-year-old.
He decides to try and compromise before he throws in the towel on this one.
Standing, he leans across the table, using his spoon to separate Yongsik’s food, transferring a quarter to his now empty bowl. “How about this: you eat this much,” he sets his bowl down in front of the kid. “And then you can have carrot sticks and some grapes.”
Yongsik seems to be debating, looking at the food in deep concentration - then he shakes his head.
“Then it’s time to take your bath.”
“Eggs,” Yongsik says suddenly. “I want eggs.”
Seokjin attempts not to fistbump the air in victory. “Then eat this,” he repeats, “and I’ll make you some eggs.”
Watching over his shoulder to make sure Yongsik holds up his end of the deal, Seokjin scrambles an egg for him. As soon as he’s satisfied with how much Yongsik’s eaten, he clears the table, replacing Yongsik’s bowl of dongchimi-guksu with a plate of eggs.
In truth, Seokjin is lucky; Yongsik rarely throws fits, and when he does, they’re few and far between, and easily dissipated. Today, he’s just grumpy, and Seokjin had given in, but at least Yongsik won’t go to bed hungry, and the elder considers that a win.
It’s been a month, almost, and Seokjin is genuinely happy with the way things have gone - aside from tonight and a few others, Yongsik behaves like an angel, perfectly sweet and cute, full of smiles and affection. Everyone has their off days, though, and Seokjin can’t fault the toddler for being human, too.
And in general, he enjoys the evenings he spends with the other - Seokjin isn’t sure if it’s good, or not, but Yongsik has his heart; he looks forward to spending time with him, watching him grow, helping him name his colors and sing the alphabet. Seokjin lives for after-bath bedtime stories, lives for that pride the swells in him when Yongsik can point out words and read them aloud.
Seokjin’s never thought of himself as the father type, really, never seen himself raising a child. He has his sister’s kids, of course, to love and spoil, and he does every chance he gets. He loves them to pieces, would give his own soul to see them smile - but with Yongsik, it’s much the same, but also so, so different. Yongsik is so much like his father, so much like Jungkook that it actually hurts, sometimes; he has his cackling giggle, his smile, his same curious disposition. Hell, Seokjin is pretty sure he gets his tantrums from his father, too.
As for Jungkook… there’s no hope for Seokjin when it comes to him.
After Yongsik eats his eggs (all of them, happily), Seokjin treats him to a popsicle, and they go out into Seokjin’s small backyard for a while. Seokjin lets the younger take his frustrations out on a big purple beach ball, kicking it this way and that, back and forth, and thirty minutes in, Yongsik’s face is dry; he’s laughing, too.
“Oh no!” Yongsik cackles.
Laughing at just how bad he misses his turn to kick the ball, Seokjin jogs after it, into the darkness that the patio light doesn’t reach; when he returns, ball in hand, he catches the other yawning.
“Okay, buddy,” he calls, holding out his hand. “Time for your bath.”
“‘Kay, hyung,” Yongsik calls back, rushing over to take his hand.
Seokjin’s heart melts, and he scoops the younger up into a hug.
After Yongsik has bathed, brushed his teeth, been read to and tucked in, Seokjin slips from the dark room, and creeps back into the kitchen to clean up. The dishes don’t take him long, and picking up toys from the living room only take a minute or two - then he takes his own shower, makes a quick cup of tea, and brings his laptop to the couch to work.
Namjoon is planning a deal with a new company, a clothing line that’s geared towards the youth - like most editorial fashion, it’s a little wild, a little eclectic, but it’s Seokjin’s job to design a shoot. He goes through the brand’s website, through photos of leather jackets, ripped, faded jeans, t-shirts in every color - each price tag makes his wallet cower in fear - and he scribbles down ideas in his notebook, words and props that they would need. He needs to have an idea ready in a couple of days, so Namjoon can pitch the shoot to the designers and score the deal, but it’s easy this time; he likes the clothes he sees, likes the vibes he’s getting, so he has a page full of notes to discuss with Namjoon in no time at all.
‘No time’ really means a couple of hours, though, long enough for Seokjin’s eyes to burn and water from yawning, long enough for his back to go stiff from hunching over his computer. He doesn’t realize just how tired he is, though, until he tries to drink his wireless mouse - at this point, he stands, walks around the kitchen for a while, and makes a second cup of tea.
At ten-twenty, he fills up a bowl with leftover soup, warms up some rice and veggies, and lays it out on the table - at ten-thirty, using the key Seokjin had made for him, Jungkook walks into the house, obviously exhausted, but grinning.
No matter how many fits Yongsik throws, no matter how tired Seokjin is at the end of the day, how not in the mood for Power Rangers or cartoons he is, the newfound, stress-free aura in Jungkook makes it all worth it.
“Eat,” he tells him, pointing at the table. “Your son says it tastes bad, but he’s three and wrong.”
Dropping his backpack in an empty chair, Jungkook gives the elder a sympathetic laugh. “Was he bad today?”
Sitting with the younger as he eats, Seokjin shrugs. “Nah, he’s never bad, he was just tired. But he ate, we played outside for a little while, then he passed out.”
Without being prompted, Jungkook fills Seokjin in on his day as he eats, talking low and soft - Yongsik has some sort of supersonic hearing for his dad’s voice - and the elder listens easily, not minding in the least. Hearing Jungkook talk about classes, about teachers and essays, about whatever, is one of the highlights of the elder’s night. The younger seems happier, with his burdens lessened, seems to be genuinely enjoying school, enjoying paving he and his son a better future. Seokjin is honored to be a part of that, in truth - he can’t take all the credit, though; all he does is give a helping hand - Jungkook does all the hard work on his own, puts in the effort to be a good father, a good employee, a good student. Seokjin can’t imagine the stress that the younger has to deal with; he’s just glad he can help.
After he’s made sure Jungkook is fed, the younger gently rouses his son, gathering him up, and Seokjin drives them home. Seokjin has considered asking Jungkook to stay, but one, the elder isn’t sure if he’s ready for that (read: he isn’t sure if his heart can handle that much Jungkook), and two, he doesn’t feel like Jungkook would be comfortable with it; not yet, at least. He’s only just accepted Seokjin’s help, only just began to feel like he didn’t, for all of his independence, have to do everything alone.
Seokjin lives a twenty-minute bus ride from campus, as opposed to the two twenty minute bus rides that Jungkook would have to take to get home; it isn’t a perfect system, but it’s the easiest. Seokjin picks up Yongsik when he needs to, Jungkook meets them back at the elder’s after classes, and Seokjin drives them both home - it works.
This late, there’s no traffic, the city is sleeping, so it’s always a quiet ride. Yongsik dozes in his car seat, while Jungkook and Seokjin speak softly, Jungkook half asleep himself. Yongsik doesn’t seem to be bothered by the interruption to his sleep - Jungkook says that each time, he puts Yongsik back to bed, and the toddler sleeps the rest of the night away.
Seokjin pulls up to the front door, putting the car in park, and stifles a yawn while Jungkook scoops up his son, settling the snoozing toddler over his shoulder. Jungkook walks around the front of the car and leans down, prompting Seokjin to roll down the window.
“Thank you, hyung,” he says, eyes bright in the semi-darkness - he says it every single time. “Be careful going home. I’ll see you Wednesday?”
Seokjin smiles, bigger than he means to. “Yes, sir. Get some sleep, okay?”
The younger nods, offering Seokjin his own sweet smile, then he gives a little wave. Seokjin waits for him to disappear inside the lobby before he pulls away from the curb, his car suddenly feeling desolate.
Instead of heading immediately home, like he knows he should, he takes a left and heads towards McDonald’s - there’s a large order of fries calling his name; he turns on the radio, humming along to songs he doesn’t quite know, and fights the raging butterflies in his chest.
He knew it would happen, and there’s no way to stop it, not that he would’ve if he could’ve; before, Jungkook was just his cute assistant, someone that made his hands shake, made him want to burst into flames and crumple into the ground in a pile of mushy, in-love ashes.
Now, Jungkook is his cute assistant who has opened up to him, who rouses him with a small smile when he accidentally falls asleep on the couch waiting for him to come pick up Yongsik, who comes to him with a math problem or an issue with camera settings he can’t figure out. Now, Jungkook is more like his friend, but also not, because Seokjin wants to grab him by the front of his shirt and kiss him, kiss him until they’re both falling over, breathless, high on the taste of each other.
And maybe it’s too soon - and maybe it’s too much - but now, Seokjin wants Jungkook to come home and stay , to climb into bed with him and lay near, wants Jungkook to wake up next to him with soft, stale-breathed kisses; he wants to wake up to Yongsik’s sass, his giggles, wants to drop Yongsik off at daycare then ride to work with Jungkook, holding hands at red lights, making plans for dinner.
And he wants, god he wants , to tell Jungkook how he feels.
He will, he’s already decided - it’s just too soon, he thinks. Jungkook is knee deep in figuring out this school thing, and it’s only been a month since he let Seokjin in, even a little bit. They talk a lot, late at night, with Yongsik asleep in the guest bedroom, about school, about work, about Yongsik - they’re friends, Seokjin would definitely consider them that, but they haven’t gotten to the point where they actually do friend things. Aside from that dinner with Nari, aside from occasional drinks with everyone, they don’t spend a ton of time alone .
Not that they really can, with Yongsik, and that’s fine with the elder, he loves the kid, but before he even thinks about maybe thinking about confessing his stuttering heart to Jungkook, he’d like to at least have spent time together, outside of work-related things and Jungkook picking up his son.
Nari’s words come back to haunt him occasionally, which one-hundred percent does not help - he’s totally into you , she’d said, and maybe he’s watched too many obscure foreign Netflix romances, or too many dramas, but it plays in his mind when he lets his guard down, nearly driving him insane. She’d honestly believed what she’d said, and had thought telling him would make… something happen, that’s all Seokjin can take from it.
But Seokjin has been too afraid to think about it, more afraid to act, especially with everything moving so fast and getting Yongsik settled into a new routine.
Pulling back into his driveway, bag of fries in hand, Seokjin thinks maybe it’s time for something to happen - maybe it’s time he invited Jungkook and his son out somewhere - he makes a mental note to ask the younger how a day trip to the zoo sounds.
“Why is nobody ready, or here, for that matter?” Seokjin asks, but Taehyung is the only one there to answer him.
“Must be hump day blues, hyung,” the younger says, reclining back on the made bed that is their set for the day. “Wednesday is the second Monday, you know.” Seokjin snorts, agreeing with him.
Taehyung is the only one ready for the shoot today - Hoseok is AWOL, Yoongi and Jimin are under the care of the stylists, having only just arrived (two hours late), and Jungkook…
Seokjin hasn’t heard from Jungkook since he dropped him off, two nights ago - needless to say, he’s feeling a bubbling whirlwind of worry in his sternum.
Before he can descend into full worry, Jimin rushes into the room, his orange hair parted and swept back, his makeup freshly done. “Hoseok is on his way, his alarm didn’t go off this morning,” he tells him, guilt at his own tardiness still evident on his face. “He’s on the bus, now, but apparently there was an accident on the main road, so traffic is backed up.”
Seokjin nods, ready to ask how close Yoongi is to being done with his makeup - they can at least get started - but his phone starts buzzing on the table, and he trips over his own feet to get to it.
“I am so fucking late, and I am so fucking sorry,” Jungkook half shouts when Seokjin answers. “I’m on the bus, but there’s-”
“An accident, I heard,” Seokjin breathes, his eyes closing in relief. “You’re okay, right?”
The younger makes a small sound that might’ve been a laugh. “I’m okay, hyung, yeah. Apparently a taxi slammed on brakes to avoid one of those big orange traffic barrel things, but he stopped in the middle of an intersection and caused a bunch of minor… bumper cars. Nobody is like, really injured, though, it’s just late morning traffic and trying to get cops and tow trucks through is taking a while.”
Jungkook is babbling, Seokjin realizes at the same time the younger does - his nervous habit.
“Okay, Kookie,” the elder sighs, more relieved now. “I’m glad everyone is okay.”
“Me, too. I’ll be there as soon as I can… I might give up and just walk, though.” Jungkook curses under his breath, probably not intending for Seokjin to hear. “I’m so sorry, I promised I wouldn’t be a late again and-
Shaking his head, even though the other can’t see him, Seokjin cuts him off. “It’s fine, you’re not the only one late, and it’s not a big deal. Whatever you do, though, be careful. There are killer barrels out there, apparently.”
With Jungkook’s whereabouts and safety known, Seokjin calls Taehyung to attention, informing him he’s first today - he tries not to show that he’s irritated, not at anyone in particular, but just at the way the morning has gone - and sends Jimin off the set. “Let me know when Hoseok gets here, you’re after Tae.”
Taehyung does his best to be as malleable as possible - he does a good job, too, but even still, it’s hard for Seokjin to work alone, after months of Jungkook by his side, anticipating his every need and managing the set better than he could ever imagine.
But they cope.
Seokjin, honestly inspired by Taehyung, also does his best - he keeps the set simple, not worried about moving anything around or coaching the younger too much. He trusts Taehyung’s instinct, and reminds himself that if there’s anything he doesn’t like, he can always re-shoot Taehyung later. So, with little else to do than move the lights closer, Seokjin begins.
Today’s theme is a little different, but it’s a good different, Seokjin thinks. Instead of clothing, it’s an accessories brand - watches, belts, glasses, jewelry, Taehyung is decked out in a little bit of everything, silver and sapphires glowing against his tan skin. He’s wearing white jeans and a white button up (unbuttoned - completely), reclining on white silk sheets, staring up at the elder; Seokjin stands on a step-ladder, hovering over the bed, camera angled down - he captures every pout the younger offers him, every lip bite, every shot of the pale yellow watch on his wrist as he tangles his fingers in his wild hair.
Seokjin isn’t sure if the brand was going for sensual to this degree, but Taehyung makes it work, and Seokjin just lets the photographer in him take over, moving to the side to get the younger’s profile, framed in black.
He has Taehyung move to sit against a pile of pillows, one knee drawn up to his chest, his chin on his palm as he peeks at the lense over a pair of rose-tinted, round glasses. He focuses on the shot, and the shot only, grabbing the younger’s best expressions, his best poses - he’s acknowledged it before, and he’ll say it again: Taehyung was born to model.
Working helps the elder’s stress levels slowly sink back down into safe, normal-Seokjin territory. Working with Taehyung really helps, the younger is such a natural, and when Jimin comes out, dressed in a thin, tight black sweater and grey jeans that barely seem to fit, his neck, fingers, and ears decorated with all sorts of pretty jewelry, Seokjin finally relaxes - his models, his friends, are all capable (though sometimes late) individuals; the final photos will turn out fine, he reminds himself.
Fifteen minutes into Jimin’s shoot, just as Seokjin is honing in to get a shot of the necklace nestled between the defined muscles of the younger’s chest through his shirt, Jungkook comes jogging in from the back, flushed and panting, eyes wild.
“Hoseok is in hair and makeup,” he says in a rush, dropping his bag and attempting to smooth down his sweat-dampened hair. “We said fuck it and ran for it.”
Seokjin raises an eyebrow at him, and knowing the younger as well as he does, or wants to, at least, he jerks his head towards Jimin and the set. “I’ve gotten the close ups, but I need that bed moved and that black chair brought in.”
Already moving, Jungkook nods. “Got it.”
He’d been right - putting Jungkook to work helps ease the younger’s frayed nerves, his guilt at being late, despite it not being something he could really help. Seokjin himself is long past feeling any irritation; like Taehyung had said, Wednesday is the second Monday, and Mondays are sometimes shit. Seokjin, for one, hates them, mostly because Monday morning radio is the worst, and also because it’s like, a societal sin not to hate them.
With Jungkook and his eye for aesthetic doing most of the behind the scenes work - posing Jimin, moving props, adjusting lights - Seokjin is able to focus solely on snapping photo after photo, orbiting around the set, around Jungkook and Jimin, on instinct alone. Once again, aside from his steadily increasing feelings for the cutie with the body of a god, Seokjin is so, so thankful for Jeon Jungkook, for how well they work together, for how damn driven and steadfast Jungkook is.
If not for his work ethic, his passion for being on set, his eagerness to do his job and do it well, Jungkook would just be a cute guy, with an ass just as cute, and a personality that makes Seokjin see stars. But the fact that he is, actually, a hard worker, good on his word, focused and talented, makes Seokjin swoon harder than he’s ever fucking swooned in his life.
And he’s a proud habitual swooner, not only for Jungkook, but also hot anime dudes, because c’mon .
After Jimin is done, it’s Yoongi’s turn; the other, dressed in loose, muted beige and creme, isn’t plagued by nearly as much guilt as Jimin is, for being late, but he’s docile, soft. He lets Jungkook arrange him against a purple curtain backdrop, listens intently to the younger’s directions, Seokjin’s suggestions. He models the delicate silver against his throat with more professionalism than he’s ever shown, his own form of apology, and does a damn good job making an unassuming pair of black aviators look like the only pair of sunglasses to matter, ever.
When Hoseok comes out, his sheer white shirt tucked into deep burgundy jeans, he still seems half asleep, eyes drooping, lips puffy. It adds a lazy, almost fuckboy charm to his shoot though, as he kneels on dark sheets, thumbs hooked into his belt loops to show off the stitched leather belt that hangs low on his hips, and the assortment of jewels and metals that circle his wrists.
It isn’t until all the solo shoots are done, and it’s just Seokjin and Jungkook alone in the studio while the others go back to change clothes and have their makeup touched up, that the elder notices the way Jungkook is chewing on his lip.
Gently placing his camera down on the workbench, he motions for Jungkook. “Hey,” he says. “You thirsty?”
At the younger’s nod, not fooled in the least by Seokjin’s attempt at casual prying, the elder leads the way to his office. Once there, he perches Jungkook on his sofa with a bottle of water, and sits across from him, on the coffee table, taking a sip from his own bottle.
“So,” he begins, crossing his legs and reclining back on his palms. “What’s up?”
Jungkook sighs, his head lolling back against the couch. “Nothing, just… today sucks,” he huffs with vindication. “Everything about today sucks.”
The elder feigns offense. “Well, shit. I thought my outfit looked pretty good, and my hair doesn’t like, suck, but I guess I was wrong.”
This makes the other giggle, his eyes squeezing shut. Without opening them, he shakes his head, hair clinging to the suede behind his head. “No, hyung, you look good, you always do.” He cracks his eyes, grinning, and Seokjin struggles to breathe. “Okay, everything else about today, sucks. Better?”
“Better,” the elder chokes, the sixteen-year-old inside of him running in circles screaming he said I look good, he said I look good ! Composing himself, he kicks out, gently knocking his foot into the other’s knee. “What sucks in particular?”
“Well,” Jungkook shrugs, sitting up. “I fell asleep studying last night, woke up late. Then the whole traffic thing, this morning, and I have a test this evening that I’m definitely going to fail.” He pauses to chug half the bottle of water in his hands, then clears his throat. “I… really wanted to stop by peer tutoring before the test, but, well, everyone was late today, and the shoot is running late, and… today just sucks.”
Seokjin agrees with him - even though the elder’s day hasn’t been quite as sucky, he can still concur with the other. “How important is the test?” he asks, cocking his head. “Can you afford to fail it?”
“I mean, I don’t want to fail it, but it’s just like, a chapter assessment thing. It’s not a huge grade.” Jungkook pulls a face, one that Yongsik pulls often. “Stupid fucking microeconomics.”
“Hey! If it’s micro, I can help! I’m good at that shit,” Seokjin beams, bouncing a little. “How about this: we wrap up the shoot, you run like the wind to get your tutoring and take your test, and tonight when you come pick up the mini-Kook, we can have our own review, just to see? Go from there? If you’re taking a test, that means you should get out of class early, right?”
The younger stares at him, mouth slightly open, for a moment, before nodding. “Yeah, that’s what I was told, at least. Are you sure, hyung?”
“Yep,” Seokjin assures, getting to his feet. “We better hurry then,” he groans, dragging the younger from the couch. “C’mon, hurry, gotta get you to class.”
If anyone picks up on the fact that they’re being rushed from pose to pose, props all but flying across set, none of the others mention it; most importantly, though, it doesn’t show on camera. The photos look great, and in forty minutes tops, Seokjin is shooing everyone back off to the dressing room, loading his memory cards into his laptop to sort through later.
Jungkook hesitates for just a minute, shrugging into his backpack and adjusting his shirt where it rides up his back. “Hyung…,” he mutters, brows pinched together. “Do… um…” He pauses, sighing.
Seokjin waits, eyes on the younger, curious. “Yes?” he prompts.
But the other just shakes his head. “Nothing,” he smiles, heading for the door. “Uh, I’ll see you tonight!” Before he makes it five steps, though, he turns on his heel. “And thank you!”
Then he’s gone, the back door crashing shut behind him, warm, sticky spring air the only thing left in his wake.
Seokjin just stands there, lost, confused, but smiling, his heart a little fluttery.
As it turns out, Jungkook doesn’t do as bad as he’d expected to; or they don’t think he does, going by how well he understands the chapter when it comes to their review. Grades won’t be up until Friday, though, so with nothing else to do about it, Seokjin makes sure the younger eats, then he takes Jungkook and Yongsik home.
It’s unsettling how close he comes to asking the younger to stay, this time.
He doesn’t even know why he wants to ask - it’s not like anything would happen, at least nothing profound or game changing. Jungkook would more than likely sleep in the guest bedroom with his son, not cuddled up against Seokjin in his king bed, and there’d be no whispered confessions or stolen kisses.
Seokjin is brave, brave enough to scale cliffs for the perfect shot, brave enough to swim with sharks, to tell his parents that he was gay at thirteen; but, he’s not that brave.
The thing is, Seokjin knows that his feelings for Jungkook, while not anything spectacular or mind blowing, are genuine - he knows that the fluttering in his chest, that began as just a warm little thumping, means something . It isn’t just that Jungkook is cute, it isn’t just that he is, minus a tattoo or two, or a couple of more years, Seokjin’s type - yes, he’s attractive, dangerously so, even, and yes, Seokjin has, on occasion, had to catch himself before his mind wandered to places involving the other naked and flushed beneath him.
But it’s more than that - it’s this trickling tap tap against his ribs any time Jungkook is around, it’s a weightless sense of excitement any time the other smiles - especially when Jungkook smiles in his direction, because of something he says, does, or just because.
It’s also knowing that, despite the fact that he’s an adult, despite that Jungkook was a father so young, Seokjin is still five years older than he is - Seokjin has been literally around the world, has been in forests and canyons and cities that made him feel like he was on a different planet, has worked and lived and managed to finally pay off his car and a quarter of his mortgage.
Seokjin has lived with men, has slept with men, has broken hearts and had his crushed. He’s been hospitalized for snowboarding straight into a crack in the mountain, hidden by heavy snowfall.
Jungkook is, at his core, strong; he’s kind, authentic, gorgeous, intelligent.
But, compared to Seokjin, he’s a kid - he’s a kid who chose, from a pile of shitty options, to roll up his sleeves and become an adult too soon, before he had to, before he knew completely how to even be the adult version of himself. But he’s also a father, so far ahead of Seokjin when it comes to that, that the elder can’t help but feel a little terrified.
It’s not that Seokjin thinks Jungkook is in any way immature, or that he isn’t able to be in a relationship, not in the least. Seokjin isn’t even sure why he needs to think about this right now, considering he doesn’t even know if Jungkook would even be interested in returning his teensy baby glow of a crush, let alone act on it.
And of course, most importantly, there’s Yongsik.
Seokjin has fallen in love with the bubbling three year old, all of him, his sleepy cuddles, his tired fits, his squealed laughter that echoes through Seokjin’s house when they play hide-n-seek. He’s enamoured by Yongsik’s intelligence, the way he can instantly pick up the elder’s mood, the way he carries over his favorite book and can point out all the characters and some of the words.
It really comes down to the kid, in the end: Does Seokjin care enough about Jungkook, about Yongsik, to be a father at this point in his life?
Does it matter?
In his bedroom, lights off, house muted, Seokjin lets out a frustrated sigh, one that sounds more like a roar, and rolls over, tugging his blankets with him.
It would probably be easier, he thinks, if he’d met Jungkook under different circumstances, if they’d dated in a way separate from Jungkook’s home life - but they hadn’t, and Seokjin is just as attached to Yongsik, as he is to Jungkook.
He cares about them, a lot - he wouldn’t say he loves Jungkook, love takes two people to nurture, to grow, but he thinks he could.
He wants to.
It wouldn’t be hard to blurt out the words - I like you - but would it be worth it? If Seokjin is wrong, if Jungkook feels at all uncomfortable about it, if Nari didn’t mean what Seokjin thinks she did, he would not only have put Jungkook in a difficult position with work, but he’d also force Jungkook back to where he was, a single father trying to go to school, with nobody to help take care of his son.
The last thing Seokjin wants is Jungkook, stressed and alone, doing his best but getting nowhere.
But there’s this tiny, trembling throb in his chest, just below his sternum, and it whispers to him. It’s telling him that confessing his affections to Jungkook is the right thing to do - it’s telling him to have hope, to take the jump, to close his eyes and leap.
Seokjin hopes that his instincts, which have never failed him before, don’t decide that this would be the perfect time to screw him over.
Thursday is a droll day of edits, Seokjin and Jungkook sitting in the office, eyes glued to their computer screens. The don’t talk about school or Yongsik, they don’t talk about economics tests or the weekend; they stay focused on working and working only, doing their best to finish up their side of things so that this month’s issue can go out on time. Seokjin knows, though, from a conversation a few weeks ago, that Jungkook is coming up on midterms, too - so for the younger’s sake, as well as Namjoon’s and the magazine’s, Seokjin closes off all other outlets, and works harder than he has (ever).
The only respite the two of them get is lunch, escaping the quiet of the offices for the bustling crowd at a nearby cafe, where they order croissants and too many muffins (they bring some back for Namjoon and the writers working on site this week); they sit outside in the sun, iced Americanos between them on the table, and Seokjin decides to take a pre-jump of faith hop.
“When midterms are done, and this issue goes out, we should celebrate,” he mentions, willing his entire countenance to be as casual as possible. “Nothing crazy, I was thinking the three of us could go to the zoo, or something.”
The younger, mouth full of food, seems to consider it - Seokjin watches his expression, pleased beyond belief that, in spite of his late nights and early mornings, his work, his full class load, Jungkook’s dark circles could be worse, his skin could be duller. But, as it stands, he glows, eyes bright and focused, mouth quick to jerk to the side in a smile, teeth always visible.
God, Seokjin just wants to kiss him silly, sometimes.
Finally, after he’s swallowed and washed down the croissant with coffee, Jungkook nods. “That would… actually be really cool, but you know, the museum is doing this exhibit on dinosaurs next month - they’re supposed to have cool 3-D videos and even a dirt pit where kids can excavate bones and stuff.”
“Oh,” the elder breathes - he tries to stop himself, but the words fall from his face in record time. “Fucking yes, oh my god, we have to go. I love dinosaurs, do you think Yongsik would like it?”
Jungkook informs him that yes, Yongsik would, but apparently not as much as Seokjin would - his laughter rings through the shaded patio of the cafe, bouncing off faded brick walls, lighting up Seokjin’s world.
They pick a day two weeks and some days away, when they should both be free from the duties of school and work.
Friday is much the same, except not, because Seokjin has to abandon Jungkook in his office, while he goes down the hall to Namjoon’s office, to speak to the younger.
Their hard work paid off - Namjoon signed a six-month contract with 21st Century Clothing, in which their deal goes into effect immediately.
“I’m so sorry, but they really wanted to debut this month,” Namjoon tells him; the younger sounds entirely too excited for his apology to come off as sincere, however, but Seokjin gets it. “I’ve already got writers running around town doing interviews, and I’m personally going to handle the layout. The issue goes out next Friday, so I thought maybe we could come in Monday, finalize what we need, and have all the guys come in Wednesday to shoot.”
The younger’s last sentence is meant to be a question, Seokjin knows, but it comes out more like a demand - good thing that, while he is technically Seokjin’s boss, Namjoon is a really good friend.
“Sounds good to me,” Seokjin nods. “I’ll let Jungkook know. You wanna call the others, or should I? It’s probably best we tell them now, before they incapacitate themselves this weekend thinking they have the week off.”
At this, the other laughs, shoving two fingers under his glasses to rub at his eyes. “Yeah, no, you’re right. I thought I had the chance to let loose, too, I was hoping to, you know…. But yeah, I’ll call Yoongi, you take the others?”
“Got it,” Seokjin agrees, standing to leave.
He has his phone out, Jimin’s number pulled up, as he walks back into his office - but it turns out he doesn’t need it, because for some reason (he’ll surely find out), both Jimin and Taehyung are in his office.
“Hey, hyung,” Taehyung greets, flashing a grin at the elder. “We’re not harassing him, I swear.”
Jungkook, however, laughs at his words. “Uh, yeah, you are....”
“Not really,” Jimin says, crossing his legs. “If we were harassing you, we’d have drums or silly string or something.”
Seokjin just moves back to his desk, smiling and shaking his head at them - they’re due for a break, anyway, so it’s not like Jimin and Taehyung are really disrupting anything.
As for harassing Jungkook… both of them are on the couch, on either side of the youngest, and it certainly seems like harassment to the elder.
“Fifteen minute break starts now,” he announces, reclining in his chair, phone opened to Instagram. “Harass away.”
After several minutes of denying that harassing Jungkook is what they’re doing, Jimin and Taehyung begin to do just that - Seokjin, silent, feels his heart start to ache the further the conversation goes.
Jimin is speaking, embellishing his words with his hands. “When was the last time you went out, got some? Hell, forget sex, when was the last time you even kissed someone?”
“Jiminie is right,” Taehyung says, running a light hand against the crown of Jungkook’s head. “You’re a dad, yeah, but you should still be able to have fun.”
“We know you have needs, dude, we all do,” Jimin adds. “And we don’t know what, but we can tell something has had you super stressed, and we just want to help.”
“But only if you want to,” the other finishes, nodding at Jimin. “If you don’t want to, then that’s it, we’ll drop it.”
Jungkook however, just bites his lip and stares at his lap - he occasionally glances over at Seokjin, but the elder pretends not to notice, his throat tight.
He agrees with them, though, and that’s part of why this sucks; Jungkook should be out, with other people, people his age, kissing and dancing and doing whatever else it is he wants to do - he shouldn’t be trapped in an office with Seokjin, at one in the afternoon, only to have to rush off to class, where he’ll be all evening, before picking up his son and finally going home.
When Jungkook makes no indication that he’s down or not, Jimin pokes him in the ribs, earning a sharp giggle. “Do you want to go out with us tonight, then? Just us, I mean, you don’t have to talk to anyone else or even look at them. We can get some drinks, play some games, whatever.”
Taehyung nods, humming. “It’d be really fun,” he agrees.
Jungkook, his eyes once again darting towards Seokjin, just shrugs. “I… dunno. I can’t tonight, anyway, I, uh… Yongsik, I mean. But… maybe when his mom takes him? I guess… it would be fun.” He smiles, passing it to both of his friends. “I’ll, I’ll call you, let you know when I’m free.”
High fiving over the other’s head, Jimin and Taehyung join together in a victorious screech. “Awesome,” Taehyung giggles. “Back to work, then,” he says.
“About that,” Seokjin cuts in. “Another spread’s been added last minute. Be here on time Wednesday for the shoot.”
Judging by the looks on all three of the others’ faces, his words came out just as short and sharp as he’d been attempting to prevent them from doing - oh well.
“Okay,” Jimin nods. “I’ll let Hoseok and Yoongi know.”
After they’re gone, all Seokjin wants to do is get back to work, pretend the conversation he’d been present for hadn’t happened. Jungkook, after giving him a strange look, one that Seokjin can’t decode, goes back to work as well, stretched out on the sofa, his feet on the coffee table. They work in silence until Jungkook has to leave for school, at which point he hands over the hard drive filled with his edits, tells the elder he’ll see him tonight, and slips from the room.
As soon as Seokjin is sure Jungkook is far enough from the room, the building, even, to hear him, he grabs a stack of magazines from the corner of the desk, and smack himself in the forehead with them, groaning.
He’s jealous, he knows he is, there’s no other name for the glittering emerald lava in his chest that poofed into existence the moment Jimin mentioned Jungkook meeting someone.
It isn’t Jimin and Taehyung that Seokjin is jealous of, no, Taehyung is like a brother to Jungkook, and Jimin has his (sort of) relationship with Hoseok, and whatever the hell they do with Yoongi that keeps them out so late together.
No, Seokjin is seeing red at the idea of Jungkook turning his teasing smile on another person, man or woman, Seokjin still doesn’t fucking know if Jungkook is gay or straight or somewhere in between; but he’ll be damned if he isn’t feeling like he wants to throw up at the idea of Jungkook kissing either.
Damn those kids, he thinks, meaning Jimin and Taehyung. Their intentions, of course, are sweet and selfless, they’re just being the friends they think Jungkook needs - and maybe Seokjin should just put on his adult undies and confess to Jungkook, but he isn’t ready and everything is just happening too damn soon and he hasn’t even decided if he’s okay with trying with Jungkook.
“Shit sprinkles”, he sighs, face down on his keyboard while his computer beeps and yells at him for it.
Grass, in every direction, in the purest shade of jade - this is all Seokjin can see, all around him. He runs his hands through it, floating, the cool, dewy blades dragging across his skin.
He can smell something, something clean, fresh, soft; it’s reminiscent of cotton towels straight from the wash, like those minuscule powder blue flowers that Seokjin’s older sister always has sitting on the counter in her bathroom.
But it’s hot, so hot, and despite his best efforts, Seokjin can’t seem to sit up - he can’t feel the ground beneath him, but he can see the sky above him, dark and starry, at odds with the brightness around him, and he knows he’s lying down. He struggles, frowning at the stars, willing his body to cooperate-
“ Hyung ?”
Seokjin grunts, startled, and rolls, falling to his chest on the living room carpet, right at Jungkook’s socked feet.
“Shit, sorry, hyung, I didn’t mean to scare you,” the younger says, kneeling and wrapping his fingers around the elder’s elbow. “You okay?”
“Fine,” Seokjin groans, the sound muffled by the carpet. He counts to ten, willing the insane thumping of his heart to calm, for the blood to drain from his face.
Falling asleep on the couch is one thing, Seokjin has done it before. Being woken up by Jungkook, that isn’t new either.
However, having a weird disembodied dream, then falling off the couch in front of Jungkook, that’s a first.
Groaning one more time, just because he’s somewhere between irritated and embarrassed, Seokjin allows Jungkook to help him up, his ass back firmly on the couch. “Thanks,” he sighs, rubbing at his face. “What time is it? It feels late.”
“It is,” Jungkook tells him, easing onto the couch next to him with a dark sigh.
Seokjin doesn’t need to look at him to sense the turbulent waves billowing off him - so he waits, yawning and attempting to wake up. He glances towards the kitchen, to see if the door to the guest bedroom is closed; it is, thankfully - the avalanche that is himself hadn’t woken up Yongsik.
Finally, after a good ten minutes, Seokjin is tired of waiting. “Kook, what is it?” he asks, turning towards the other. “Something’s up, talk to me.”
Jungkook’s face is just as stormy as his mood, brows drawn together, lip red and torn.
Seokjin is right - something is definitely wrong.
Before he can ask again, Jungkook shakes his head, quickly, jerkily. “Sorry, hyung,” he grits out, making to stand. “It’s late, you can just take us home if you-”
Seokjin takes his hand, a little too firmly, probably, and drags him back down to the sofa. Jungkook’s ass hits the cushion and he makes a small sound of surprise, his eyes wide.
“I’m not taking you home until you’ve eaten and told me what the hell is wrong.”
The elder watches the surprise fade from Jungkook’s face, only to be replaced with an angier, rebellious look - but this, too, fades, into a sad, defeated look, before finally settling on tired.
“I’m always complaining to you,” he mutters. “I don’t… I don’t like that. I’m a grown man, I shouldn’t… I should be able to handle this.”
Seokjin stares at him, actually kind of genuinely offended. “Are you kidding me? Jungkook, I’ve come to work on multiple occasions complaining about my coffee being too hot, or my hair being frizzy. Hell, dude, I bitched for hours once because I had a fucking ingrown hair two inches from my dick that I thought was going to kill me.” The elder shakes his head again, snorting. “People complain, we bitch, we moan, that’s humanity for you.”
He can’t tell if Jungkook is pissed or just trying not to laugh - but the younger looks away, obviously thinking. When he speaks, again, his voice is small, ashamed.
“I… that exam, I failed it. I just… completely failed it. In the worst way,” he mutters, eyes averted. “The professor made me stay after class, he was acting all concerned like it mattered, but, I don’t know, the way he talked and what he said, it was like he wanted me to drop the class.”
“That asshole,” Seokjin huffs, rolling his eyes. “Fuck him, Jungkook, no. Don’t even listen to that. It’s one test, we’ll go over again, you’ll get it-”
Jungkook cuts him off. “No, hyung, it… actually isn’t a bad idea. I’m taking five classes, dropping one wouldn’t really make a difference-”
“Giving up would make a huge difference,” Seokjin tells him, tugging on Jungkook’s hand, until he turns to look at him, eyes sad. “Don’t give up, yet. Okay? Try again, and if it’s still too much, we’ll go from there.”
“We?” Jungkook says the word so quietly that Seokjin almost misses it. “Hyung, you’re… doing too much, as it is. You’re falling asleep on your couch waiting for me, because you’re so exhausted. You’re rushing photo shoots and driving me home four nights a week, you’re listening to me be a big whiny bab-”
“There’s nothing I’d rather be doing, Jungkook.”
Seokjin’s words seem to have the same effect like a slap to the face to the younger - he stills, eyes wide, his throat bobbing as he swallows the rest of his own words.
Taking the silence to his advantage, Seokjin continues. “I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: you’re not alone, in this. I’m here for anything you need, Jungkook, anything. Hell, even Tae and Minnie, they have no idea what’s going on, but even they want to help do something.”
Jungkook nods, finally giving the elder a small smile, then it fades. “I feel so guilty, not telling them, sometimes. I just… it’s my… problem.”
“I think you should tell them,” the elder offers, “but that’s just me. I mean, I’m not saying I mind talking to you, but you know, they’d listen, too, Kookie. They love you, too.”
He doesn’t know what he’s said, what it sounds like, until a couple of moments later, when Jungkook turns to look at him, eyes soft; Seokjin’s heart speeds up, as he realizes where they are, what it looks like, what it could look like.
It’s dark, of course, he’d been on his computer, abandoned it on the coffee table at some point, and it’s quiet - Jungkook is half in shadow, his eyes the only trait that stands out clearly, and he’s looking at the elder, his gaze soft but heavy all at once.
Seokjin can’t breathe, can’t even think about breathing, because he wants to lean forward, kiss that look off Jungkook’s stupid handsome face, drag him to the comfy couch cushions beneath them and kiss every single worried thought away. He wants, so badly, to tuck the younger against his chest and let him bitch about everything, let out every negative feeling, until he’s smiling, giggling, in the mood for something more, something happier.
They’re alone, for the most part. Yongsik is asleep in the other room, oblivious - it would be so easy to lead Jungkook upstairs, tell him everything, tell him everything about him that makes Seokjin’s gut tight, makes his heart feel like it’s going to explode like a confetti canon.
He thinks he imagines it, but then it happens again, and he’s even more afraid to breathe - Jungkook’s hand tightens in his, just a fraction, warm and solid, and his eyes, those dark, bright eyes, dart around the elder’s face, settling for just a split moment on his mouth.
It’s a moment, they’re having a moment, the moment, and Seokjin is fully committed to seeing it through -
Then a sound, small and pitched, sounds from the guest bedroom, and the moment is gone, just like that.
Yongsik comes barrelling through the door, and as soon as he spots his dad, he’s running, smiling, squealing.
“Daddy~” he sings, climbing up into Jungkook’s lap, pressing his chubby hands into the elder’s cheeks. “Home~.”
Beet fucking red, Jungkook tugs his hand from Seokjin’s, almost like the elder’s hand is on fire, to hug his son. Seokjin, pretty sure he is on fire, nervously runs said hand through his hair, and stands, nearly knocking over the coffee table in the process.
“I’ll, I’ll make you something to go,” he says shakily. “Then I’ll take you home.”
He can feel Jungkook’s eyes on him as he moves to the kitchen, even while the younger talks with his son, about colors and the pictures he colored with Jinnie-hyung today.
It’s been less than twenty-four hours, and Seokjin is still kicking himself into the ground.
He’d chickened out, and he knows he did, and he’s ashamed that he did - but he had, and there’s nothing he can do about it, now. After Yongsik had woken up, Seokjin packed Jungkook a quick container of leftovers, shoved his feet into his shoes, and drove them home - all the while, Yongsik was going on and on to his father, in cute half-baby chatter, giving them little chance to talk themselves.
Well, as far as doing something, he could drive over to Jungkook’s, right now, wail on the door until he answers, and kiss him - but that’s too grand even for Seokjin.
“Twenty bucks, each, handsome.”
Seokjin smiles at the man in glimmering eyeshadow, hair styled into a fancy faux-hawk, taking his compliment as he hands over his money - of course Namjoon would drag him to a club with the highest fucking cover charge.
This entire street is lined up and down with club after club, mostly gay clubs, a few lounges, one or two simple bars, and Namjoon goes for this one.
Of fucking course.
Not that Seokjin actually cares - he’s only here tonight so Namjoon wouldn’t have to go alone, so he could wingman and run interference for the younger. He, unlike Namjoon, has no intentions of going home with anyone tonight, no intentions of making any new friends or friends.
He’s here to hang out with his friend, drink free booze, and get Namjoon some dick.
Half an hour in and Seokjin is just cracking into his second beer, watching Namjoon chat up the bartender. He’s tried three times to send Namjoon over to a cute guy, one guy in particular, who’s dressed in a way that suggests he knows exactly what he’s doing and what he wants - but Namjoon is so immersed in his conversation with the bartender (Seokjin doesn’t even know what they’re talking about), that he doesn’t seem interested in any of the hot, cute, half-clothed men strutting around the dance floor.
More than a few have raked their eyes over Seokjin, but he does nothing more than smile politely at them; the only guy on his mind is Jungkook, his smile, the way he looked at Seokjin like he wanted to kiss the elder.
Groaning under his breath, Seokjin kicks himself, again, for letting Jungkook get out of his car, without even an attempt at… something . He could have reached out and taken his hand, could have told Jungkook they’d finish talking later. Hell, he could have fucking kissed him, just went for it - but he let Jungkook get out of the car and disappear inside, and now, he’s probably going to spend all night, all weekend, wishing he’d run after him.
Seokjin doesn’t want to call him, either - he does, but he doesn’t - because the weekend is when Jungkook gets any significant time with his son, just the two of them, and Seokjin can’t interfere with that.
Or at least that’s what he thought, because it seems like he was wrong - at least about this weekend.
He hears a familiar giggle, first, lilting and musical - it’s Jimin, and Seokjin turns towards the sound, automatically searching for his old friend. He isn’t sure why, but the conversation he’d heard, in his office just yesterday morning, is nowhere in his mind.
So it’s a shock, like being tossed into boiling, choppy waters, when he finds Jimin, and Taehyung, too, and between them, Jungkook, head tossed back as he laughs.
Seokjin’s first instinct is to rush over, drag Jungkook into a dark corner and confess everything, pour out his regret at letting Jungkook leave last night, leave before Seokjin could tell him.
His second instinct is to disappear, to abandon Namjoon (he’s almost sure the younger got the bartender’s number), and leave, run, let Jungkook enjoy his night.
Because he looks so happy out there with the other two, so Jungkook , the Jungkook Seokjin first fell for, back before the stress, the worry, before the late nights spent anxious about the next day.
He’s not drinking, Seokjin doesn’t think, there’s a can of Sprite in his hand, the other wrapped around Taehyung’s arm as they shimmy and shake to the thumping bass. But the other two are halfway to smashed, cups of bright pink in their hands, matching the flush on their cheeks as they laugh and stumble into Jungkook, who takes it with a smile just as big.
Seokjin’s chest aches, aches for so many reasons - his legs shake, and he leans on the bar to stay upright. Jungkook looks so good, in tight jeans and a loose tank top - he looks like a model, like a boyfriend, like a twenty-year-old college student, and Seokjin aches.
Despite every cell in his body yearning to go over, Seokjin stays put, too scared to actually leave. He’s afraid, too, that going over there will ruin Jungkook’s night, will bring back the previous night, what didn’t happen, what should’ve, maybe. He’s torn between wanting to dance with them, between wanting to leave and let Jungkook have his fun, unburdened by Seokjin’s awkward, slightly inappropriate crush.
He does nothing, though, aside from stay put, knuckles white around his beer, turning to watch occasionally. The others haven’t noticed him, and Seokjin isn’t sure what he’d do if they did, but the longer he stands there, the calmer he gets.
All the bars on this street, all the places any of them could have gone, and they’re all here - Seokjin begins to think, maybe it’s fate - maybe he fucked up last night, maybe not.
Maybe this is his second chance.
At some point, Jungkook finishes his soda, and later, he moves away from the others, untangling himself, flushed and giggling. He makes his way over to the bar, but before he gets there, another guy, one that Seokjin has seen making the rounds, is suddenly in his path, smiling sweetly, and Jungkook is smiling back.
The man points at the bar, then points off to the opposite wall, where there are tall tables set up, for resting after a dance, or just sitting, chatting. Jungkook follows his hand, and even from where he stands, through the darkened crowd, Seokjin can see him bite his lip, see him duck his head shyly, considering.
As Jungkook tends to do, when he’s nervous, he glances around - Seokjin stays still, ready, this time.
Seokjin doesn’t make a move, as Jungkook’s eyes find him, as the younger’s gaze meets his own; he seems surprised, at first, then afraid - then he smiles, lighting up, setting Seokjin’s heart on fire.
This time, Seokjin doesn’t let the moment go - he sets his half-full beer down, and pushes away from the bar, standing straight, and begins making his way over to the other, through bodies, through faceless people he can’t care about right now.
Somehow, Jungkook understands, understands completely - as Seokjin moves closer, Jungkook turns back to his suitor, and shakes his head, gently declining. The other, with a smile, just nods and walks away, not too beat up over it.
Not that Seokjin would care if he were.
It doesn’t take long before they’re face to face, silent, both of them too afraid to speak. Jungkook is chewing his lip, again, looking at Seokjin though eyes heavy with expectation, with hope, with something Seokjin can’t quite identify.
Tired of the silence, of his own trepidation, Seokjin holds his hands out towards the other. “Dance with me?” he asks, managing a smile through the storm in his chest.
Jungkook beams, eyes disappearing, and he takes Seokjin’s hands, tugging him backward, back to the dancefloor, back into all those faceless bodies - Jungkook is all Seokjin can see, all Seokjin can feel.
He keeps his hands light on Jungkook’s slim hips, his skin scorching through the thin fabric; the elder doesn’t think he can handle anything else, yet, and Jungkook wraps his arms around the elder’s shoulders, his hold loose.
He’s never been this close to Jungkook, he’s never felt this close to anyone, and it makes him ache, makes him afraid - but Jungkook is solid, contentment passing from his skin to Seokjin’s, and it helps calm the elder. He breathes into Jungkook’s hair, knocking his own temple into the younger’s, as they rock to the song, hips swaying, hearts thumping louder than the beat.
Seokjin isn’t a dancer, not like some of his friends, but he can do this, he can slow dance. As the song shifts into something smoother, something more mellow, he feels the exhale Jungkook releases against his cheek, and he allows himself to hold the younger a little tighter, his fingers a little firmer on Jungkook’s hips.
Jungkook pulls back to look at him, at the same time Seokjin proverbially kicks himself in the ass, tells himself to make the move, to do it. Jungkook looks at him, just a inch shorter, his eyes bright, his expression open, accepting, ready - Jungkook wants, Seokjin realizes, just as much as he does.
Then Jungkook’s arms shift, and his hands come up to rest on the elder’s neck, fingertips scratching lightly at the back of his neck, and Seokjin has never, in all his twenty-five years, never been so fucking afraid.
He’s been thirty feet under water, nothing but a steel cage between himself and two dozen sharks, as he attempted to take shots for a college magazine.
He’s been hanging off the side of a cliff, in the middle of the rainforest, his rope only a few strands from snapping; he’d had to scramble as fast as he could up the rocks before he plunged into the canopy, to his sure death.
He’s been the only gay kid in school, the only gay kid in the dorms at university; he’s been in the middle of a raging forest fire as a result of a lightning storm, been in an underground cave with no map, been three seconds away from being mauled by a bear.
Seokjin has been afraid, before - but Seokjin has never been as scared shitless as he is now, with Jungkook looking at him like this, like Seokjin is the only person in the room.
His eyes have turned playful, questioning, and his pink lips part in anticipation - Seokjin feels faint, his legs close to giving out beneath him.
But fear, uncertainty, has never gotten in his way before, never stopped him from taking the shot - it won’t fucking stop him now.
Seokjin moves closer, closes his eyes, and presses his lips gently, firmly to Jungkook’s, even as he trembles, even as Jungkook exhales hard, through his nose, his fingers sliding into the elder’s hair.
It’s terrifying, the way Jungkook breathes him in, the way Seokjin is suddenly insatiable, pressing them closer, tasting Jungkook’s giggle.
It's terrifying - it’s intense, it changes everything, forever.
“What’s up, Yongsikie?” Seokjin asks, turning on his shower because no way is he picking up Jungkook and his mini-Kook not looking his absolute best.
“I love you.”
“I love you, too, buddy.”
There's really no excuse for how long this has taken me. My personal shit aside, I don't even know if this chapter is worth the wait.. but I do hope it ends the story well ;;
Thank you everyone for the kindness and patience you've shown me. I love all of you so much ♡
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Kissing Jungkook is nothing like Seokjin had thought it would be - it’s worlds better, everything he had wanted, all things he hadn’t known he wanted.
But nearly half of an entire week has passed, and Seokjin isn’t sure if he’ll ever feel Jungkook’s lips on his again.
“TaeTae, just a bit further to the- yeah, good, okay.”
Seokjin takes picture after picture, capturing the younger’s pose, his skin glowing with warmth against the pastel green of the blazer he’s modelling. Jimin is sitting off to the side, already done for the day, his hair still styled back from his face; he watches Taehyung with brotherly pride, knees drawn to his chest as he sips iced coffee.
With his camera beeping low storage, Seokjin doesn’t even have to ask before Jungkook passes him a new memory card, his gaze down, cheeks pink.
He’s adorable, infuriating, and Seokjin’s inner self is screeching at him to kick everyone else off the damn set so he can just talk to the younger.
Kissing Jungkook had been one-hundred percent worth it, out on that dance floor - it had been mind-numbing, heart-shaking, and Seokjin has relived it over a thousand times since it happened.
But Jungkook, Seokjin has no idea what he’s thinking; the younger’s mind is a complete mystery to him, obscure and vague and several other adjectives that Seokjin can’t think of.
Seokjin just wants to kiss him again.
When they’d kissed, they’d really kissed - Jungkook hadn’t hesitated to lick into the elder’s mouth, press against him and give his all. Seokjin had happily drowned beneath him, forgoing air and public decency because it had been so fucking perfect, exactly what had needed to happen.
They’d kissed and kissed, pent up feelings bubbling and rolling between them, from both of them - until Jimin, drunk and giggling had stumbled into them, and Jungkook seemed to emerge from a dream, eyes wide and cheeks blazing.
He hasn’t really even spoken to Seokjin since.
Jungkook had disappeared before the elder fully regained his ability to stand on his own, leaving him there with a shocked, extremely inquisitive Jimin, Taehyung popping up shortly after. He’d been gone, hadn’t called, hadn’t texted, and had shown up to work Monday without even a blink of acknowledgement in regards to the kiss.
Monday and Tuesday have been hell, hectic and nothing but gogogo as they’ve attempted to squeeze a week’s worth of work into three days - everyone knew about the kiss at that point, even Namjoon, who Seokjin assumed had already disappeared with the bartender by the time it happened, and the air had been tense, curiosity dancing along the edges. All it had done was make Seokjin worry that they were all judging him, worry that they’d all think Jungkook would be filing sexual harassment charges against him.
He knows better, of course, no matter what his miniscule insecurities try to tell him. He’s known Jungkook long enough, spent enough time with the younger to know that he’s only retreated back out of shyness. Or hell, maybe Jungkook thinks it was all a big mistake, maybe he thinks he went too far in kissing his boss .
Seokjin’s own shyness doesn’t help one bit, either - the boldness, the sureness he’d felt kissing Jungkook was struck down the moment Jungkook ran away from him. He’s not so much offended by it, as he is worried that he’d offended the younger.
But he’d felt how sure Jungkook had been, how much he wanted the same thing; Seokjin just thinks, now, that maybe they weren’t fully on the same page. Maybe it was too soon - maybe it was too intense of a kiss, before they’d even spoken their feelings aloud; but it is what it is, now, so all Seokjin can do is try to shush the wailing voice in his head, and wait for the moment to come where he can speak to Jungkook.
They finish up with Taehyung’s shoot, and Yoongi’s afterwards, in relative silence; it drives Seokjin crazy, everyone in the damn room knowing that he and Jungkook had kissed but not saying anything. Maybe part of him had hoped Jimin, or Taehyung, would demand answers and force them to talk no matter what; but that hadn’t been the case. Neither of them said a word to him. In fact, neither of them have even insinuated that they witnessed it; no jokes, no snickering, no lewd sounds.
It’s unusual, and if Seokjin wasn’t so focused on not making any sudden movements at Jungkook in case he spooks him, he might realize this - but as the shoot wraps up, and Jungkook starts breaking down the set, Seokjin can’t focus on anything but his slamming heartbeat.
He’s so determined to not pay Jungkook any special attention that he jumps when the man in question creeps over to where he’s sitting at his laptop, and claims he’s leaving.
“I have to get to class,” the younger mutters, swinging his backpack over his shoulder.
Seokjin, jumping a little, nods, attempting to meet the other’s eyes. “Yeah, okay. Yongsik-”
“He’s with his mom. Still. Nari, uh… had him this weekend so I could… he’s staying with her tonight, too, since she had the night off anyway.” He bites his lip, chest expanding as he takes a deep breath. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
He doesn’t even wait for Seokjin to respond before he turns on his heel and makes a speedy retreat for the exit. The elder lets him go, without a word, because he doesn't know what to say if he were to say anything at all.
Turning back to his laptop, he sighs - then he looks around, worried, but realizes he’s alone. He isn’t alone for long, though; Yoongi strolls in, in a baggy t-shirt and jeans, his face shiny where he’s washed off his make up. He sits across from Seokjin at the makeshift desk, and hands over a small styrofoam cup of steaming black coffee.
“Thanks-” the elder begins, cradling the cup.
“So you kissed the kid,” Yoongi cuts him off, taking a sip of his own coffee. “In a club. On the dancefloor.”
Seokjin sighs, forgoing caffeine for the moment. “You weren’t even there ,” he whines, knowing how prepubescent he sounds. “How the hell did you find out?”
“Jimin told Hoseok, then Hoseok told me, then Jimin told me, and Taehyung mentioned it while we were getting our makeup done. Oh, and Namjoon asked if I’d heard about you kissing Jungkook in a club on the dancefloor.”
Of course; Seokjin smacks both hands over his face and releases the longest sigh of his life. “Man, I fucked up.” He rubs at his eyes some, the image of Jungkook’s face moments before their kiss flashing behind his lids. “The worst part about the whole thing is that it was… the perfect kiss, Yoongi. It was the perfect kiss and now Jungkook is creeped out and I’ve ruined-.”
Yoongi laughs at him, the sound less mocking and more sympathetic. “Hyung, you didn’t let me finish,” he says, leaning back in his chair and crossing his legs.
Seokjin glares at him through his fingers. “Well?” he prompts.
“ Well, ” the other continues, smirking, “when I asked Jungkook about it, he confirmed it, and he nearly passed out he was smiling so hard. I thought I was talking to a clown, too, his cheeks got so red.”
Thumpthumpthump - Seokjin stares, not quite believing what Yoongi is saying; or rather, he doesn’t want to believe what Yoongi is saying.
If he’s even understanding what Yoongi is saying.
“You didn’t fuck up,” the other clarifies. “You just… need to talk to him.”
“I want to!” Seokjin sighs again, finally taking a sip of his coffee - it’s hot and bitter, just like him - and looks at Yoongi. “He’s barely even looked at me, though.”
“That doesn’t change the fact that you need to talk to him. He’s, he’s Jungkook, hyung. You know him better than any of us, I mean… he’s not the most forthcoming about his feelings.” Yoongi shrugs, checking the time on his phone. “And no offense, but neither are you.”
He’s right, Seokjin has to give him that; the elder sits back in his chair, his hands in his lap.
Just because he can, Seokjin sighs again, pinning the other with his most dramatic, pitiful stare. “He was really red?” he asks after a moment.
Yoongi barks out a short laugh, nearly spilling his coffee. “He was really, really red. I didn’t even know anything was going on with you two, but… yeah, I dunno what’s going on, but he’s totally into you, hyung.”
It gives Seokjin a sliver of comfort, at least.
The next day, despite his best efforts, Seokjin chickens out hardcore with the whole talking to Jungkook thing.
He gets to work early, setting up in his office with a scribbled list of shit to do from Namjoon, with his heart set on locking both himself and Jungkook in the room until they’ve talked everything out. He has a box of mini-cupcakes on the coffee table, bottles of banana milk in his mini-fridge, and he’s wearing a dark cotton shirt to hide the fact that he’s sweating to death with nerves.
But when Jungkook arrives just before nine, looking just as nervous as Seokjin feels, the elder is in the midst of a server crash and it basically sets the mood for the entire day.
And it’s a long, long day.
Between being on the phone with the tech guys, calling a grumpy, bed-rumpled Yoongi in to help understand the tech guys, and juggling his todo list between himself and Jungkook, Seokjin barely has any time to pee - he can’t even fathom trying to have an actual, heartfelt conversation with the younger.
So Seokjin compartmentalizes, works his ass off to meet their rushed deadline, and by six PM, he’s so exhausted he might end up just sleeping at the office.
He’s coming out of the bathroom down the hall when Jungkook finds him.
“Hyung,” the younger mutters, clearing his throat. He meets Seokjin’s eyes, for the first time since they kissed, and the elder can feel his already tired brain melting to mush even more. “I, uh, are we done? I mean, I can stay, if you need me, but Nari isn’t feeling well and I don’t want Yongsik to get sick, so…”
Jungkook’s eyes are clear, and nevermind that their day had been filled to the brim with stress, he doesn’t look nearly as stressed as Seokjin knows he can be; he looks healthy , he glows, and aside from the nervous way he chews on his cheek, he’s calm - comfortable.
“No, we’re done, don’t worry. I just need to help Namjoon make sure the final draft is ready to go and I’ll be done, too,” Seokjin tells him; he makes an attempt at a friendly smile, trying so hard to find that boundary that they had crossed, and pull his expression from there.
Jungkook offers his own awkward smile, but it’s still so endearing to Seokjin that for a moment, he’s speechless - then Jungkook blushes, and drops his gaze. “We need to talk,” he says quietly. “Sometime.”
Remembering how to breathe , because the words sink to the bottom of his gut and squeeze, the elder steels himself. “We will,” he agrees, his fingers feeling cold. “Sometime.”
TOO SOON OH GOD - Seokjin shuts his inner drama queen up and forces himself to smile with as much confidence as he can muster. “Yeah, Kook, this weekend. Just call me.”
Jungkook actually seems visibly more relaxed by the elder’s words, and he nods. “‘Kay, hyung. I’ll talk to you then.”
Then he turns and makes his way down the hall, bag over his shoulder, black hair a mess; Seokjin, no matter the awkwardness and the shyness, no matter the long talk they no doubt have ahead of them, finds that he still wants nothing more than to press his lips against Jungkook’s and stay like that, for as long as they can.
He knew it before, and he knows it now - his feelings for Jungkook mean something, something that’s real and genuine, and even if they had maybe crossed a line just kissing like they had without talking first or leading up to it, that kiss had meant something, too.
What, Seokjin isn’t sure, but he’ll find out.
He’s taking a step towards his office, when he hears the door to Namjoon’s open.
“Hyung,” Namjoon whispers, voice straining with stress. “How do you spell applique ? I’ve suddenly forgotten every word ever, swear to fucking God I’ve forgotten how to spell my own name.”
With a laugh that does wonders for his own stress, Seokjin spells the word for his friend. “I’m going to run out and get coffee and snacks, I’ll be back soon.”
“Okay, hey, grab a dictionary while you’re at it.”
After a stressful week (even a short one), Seokjin likes to reward himself by making a big hullabaloo with turning off his morning alarm; it’s usually accompanied by a glass of wine, a little butt-wiggling dance, and reruns of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. It really is a big deal to him, getting to sleep in, get every last second of beauty rest he can in his old(ish) age.
So when his phone starts screaming at him TooDamnEarly on Thursday, a generic Apple ringtone because he can’t bring himself to set any of his favorite songs out of fear that he’ll grow to hate them, Seokjin is one, confused, two, a little pissed, and three, startled half to death.
He’s startled all over again when he sees Jungkook’s name and photo on his screen, and the fact that it’s barely after seven.
“Hello?” he answers, rolling until he’s sitting up. “Jungkook, everything okay?”
Seokjin is startled for a third time in thirty seconds because the voice definitely does not belong to Jungkook.
“Yongsikie? Buddy, what’s wrong?”
Seokjin has to strain to hear, equal parts humored and annoyed, as the toddler whines into the phone, over the sound of what is unmistakably Jungkook throwing his own tantrum.
“Daddy said we weren’t going to see the dinosaurs!”
Yongsik if you do not open this door right now!
“I wanna see the dinosaurs with you and daddy, hyung!”
Son, I’ve busted through doors before, I’ll do it again.
“Can we go, please? Please, please, please?”
Give daddy the phone, Yongsik. Do not make me ask again.
Rubbing at his sleep-puffed face, Seokjin laughs, mostly to himself. “Let me talk to daddy, Yongsik.”
Yongsik, though, tries to strike a deal. “First promise, Jinnie-hyung.” All the while, Jungkook is making a racket in the background, and the elder finds himself increasingly curious as to what’s happening on the other end of the line.
“I can’t promise, buddy, not until I talk to your dad.”
With a sigh so angsty only a three-year old could be capable of, Yongsik listens. There’s some bumps and rustles on the line, and Jungkook’s voice comes louder and clearer - do not ever lock yourself in here, son, if something happened and I couldn’t get to you - before Seokjin hears Yongsik’s unphased tone relaying what the elder had said.
There’s a moment of silence, before Jungkook speaks. “Hey,” he breathes, a lilt of embarrassment evident in the word. “He, uh, stole my phone and locked himself in the bathroom.”
“Yeah, I figured it was something like that,” the elder laughs, stretching as he stands, heading towards his bathroom.
“Sorry, hyung. I completely forgot about the dinosaurs after…” he pauses, the line falling quiet. “Yongsik,” he finally continues, sighing, “did not.”
He waits a moment, just in case Jungkook is going to spring for the obvious, but when he doesn’t, Seokjin decides he will. “We could still go,” he suggests, checking his face in the mirror, phone pressed to his ear. “I mean, I hate to let my little buddy down.”
“You still want to go?” Jungkook sounds surprised, and the elder smiles at his reflection.
“Hell yeah, I do. Nothing has, well, not nothing, but almost nothing has changed, you know? I’m still one-hundred percent into spending time with you and Yongsikie.”
Three seconds pass before Jungkook responds. “Okay,” he breathes. “Okay, yeah. I have to shower and-and stuff, but… yeah.”
Butterflies swarm the entire room when Seokjin hears the smile in the other’s voice. “Then I’ll pick you up at, nine?”
“That works,” the other agrees. “Uh, Yongsik wants to talk to you, hold on - do not move, kid, talk to hyung right there -”
“Hyung?” Yongsik’s small voice comes on the line.
“What’s up, Yongsikie?” Seokjin asks, turning on his shower because no way is he picking up Jungkook and his mini-Kook not looking his absolute best.
“I love you.”
“I love you, too, buddy.”
It’s turning out to be a stifling, sunny spring day, but Seokjin is dressed for it this time; the sun is blaring down, smiling, and hot as sin, but he’s comfortable. He decided to wear his favorite pair of jeans, light washed and ripped from mid-shin to mid-thigh, and a soft, thin t-shirt with sleeves that fall to his elbows. It’s a pale pink, loose-fitting so he doesn’t suffocate, but he’s tucked it in the front of his jeans to accentuate his long legs.
Oh boy, does he look good - at least in his own humble opinion.
And Seokjin feels good, too, as he pulls into the parking lot of Jungkook’s apartment just before nine, stealing a spot close to the door. He feels good about today, this trip, seeing Jungkook. He has no idea if they’ll get a chance to talk today or if he’ll be too preoccupied with fossils and 3D T-Rex renderings and chasing Yongsik around, but he hopes they’ll get a moment or two to themselves to at least clear the air. Maybe the entire day could serve that purpose, even.
He leaves his sunglasses in the center console and climbs out of the car, planning to head inside - but he makes it two steps down the sidewalk when the foyer door flies open, and Yongsik comes barrelling at him at full-toddler speed.
“Hyung!” he squeals, grinning. “Jin-hyung!”
Unable to help his own squeal, Seokjin scoops him up, hugging him tight. “Hey there, kid,” he mutters, squeezing. “I’m so happy to see you.”
Jungkook hurries through the still-open door as Seokjin carefully drops Yongsik back on the sidewalk, looking out of breath and worried, but happy.
“He’s excited,” he pants, hiking his backpack further up his shoulder. “And fast. We were coming to meet you, though, you didn’t have to-”
“I was coming up to get you,” Seokjin adds, swallowing, attempting to give Jungkook a subtle once-over.
He looks good, too, in the elder’s utterly biased, infatuated opinion, in grey jeans and a white t-shirt, high-tops on his feet; but his jeans cling to his legs, and the thin material of his shirt leaves no illusions to the breadth of his shoulders, the thinness of his waist.
Seokjin is suddenly dying for a drink of water.
“Let’s go oooo ,” Yongsik huffs, breaking the silence; he’s already opened the backdoor of Seokjin’s car and is climbing into his carseat, completely oblivious to the whisper of awkwardness between the adults.
“Coming, son,” Jungkook replies, but his eyes are still on Seokjin, wide, wondering.
Seokjin has no idea what he’s wondering, but he could probably guess if he wanted to; he took a shot once and it so far hasn’t turned out too terrible, he decides, so he can do it again.
“Hey,” he says, smiling. “Rough week.”
The younger nods, his knowing smile shy and cute with his dark hair falling into his eyes. “Hey, yeah, real rough week.”
“It started off pretty well, though.”
“Yeah… yeah it did.” Jungkook’s eyes search the elder’s; it’s clear he knows what Seokjin is talking about, but there’s still a hint of unsure there that makes Seokjin crazy. “Are you… sure you still wanna go today?”
Knowing he should’ve done this a long time ago, Seokjin finally finds the courage he knows he’s capable of.
“I like you,” he says without embellishment. “I probably should’ve told you before I kissed you, but… well, I do. I have, for a while now, and…” he trails off, suddenly nervous at the sight of the small smile on Jungkook’s face. “And, yeah. I’m sure I still wanna go today.”
Seokjin holds his breath - his heart stills for three seconds, then explodes, as Jungkook’s smile turns up to full brightness and he laughs.
The younger steps into his chest, his chin resting perfectly in the crook of Seokjin’s neck, the arm not holding the strap of his backpack wrapping around him. Seokjin hugs him back, both relieved and excited, knowing for sure that Jungkook can feel his heart thundering out of his chest.
When they pull apart, Jungkook’s fingers travel down Seokjin’s arm until they find his own, tangling together.
“Well let’s go,” Jungkook tells him, and Seokjin is sure he can hear a hint of breathlessness in his tone.
The half-hour drive is almost fun, even though traffic is heavy and there’s nothing on the radio (Seokjin forgot to grab the CD he made of Yongsik’s favorite cartoon themes); they stop for coffee and snacks, which makes both his boys happy, then they’re on their way, taking the highway across town. Jungkook, between buzzing with his own excitement, and turning around to entertain his son, passes Seokjin small, glittering smiles at intervals that set the elder aflame, even with the A/C on full blast against the blazing sun.
“So,” the younger mentions, slouched in his seat with his eyes glued to his phone. “The website says there’s a movie showing at eleven-forty-five… “Birth of the King”, wow, okay, is that about T-Rex or Jesus?” he snorts, shaking his head. “Anyway, movie at eleven-forty-five, they have - oh my god-”
“What?” Seokjin asks, glancing in the side mirror before he switches lanes. “What is it?”
Jungkook makes a strange sound, like a low whine of excitement in the back of his throat. “They have a pack of robotic velociraptors, ” the younger breathes. “It’s a show, I think.” Jungkook rotates his phone, as sounds flood from the speakers, and he laughs, nodding. “Yeah, it’s a show. They have the raptors walk around this arena while there’s a presentation going on, and apparently you can get pictures with them and stuff.”
Without taking his eyes from the road, Seokjin makes a wild sound of excitement, Yongsik doing the same from his car seat.
“Pictures with the dinosaurs?” the kid squeals, kicking his legs. “Oh my God, Daddy we gotta!”
Seokjin most definitely agrees.
Twenty minutes later, they’re pulling into the parking lot behind a line of cars, and Seokjin is fishing his wallet out to pay for parking.
“I got it, hyung,” Jungkook passes him a few bills. “And don’t say no.”
The elder laughs, mainly to hide the nervous giggle threatened to escape as his fingers brush Jungkook’s. “I wasn’t planning to, I actually don’t think I have any cash on me.”
“That’s bad,” Yongsik comments.
While they wait in line, Jungkook finishes reading some of the online brochure - there are the 3D movies, the velociraptor presentation, and of course the dirt pits (which Seokjin is most excited for - all 25 years of him); but there’s also the game room, the fossil exhibits, and no way are they missing lunch.
They find a parking spot, Seokjin already complaining about all the walking he’s going to have to do to just get to the front door, while Jungkook laughs and works out a game plan. “So, we’ll do the velociraptors, get our pictures, then swing by the movie… spend some time at the dirt pits, make our way through the exhibits-”
“-then get lunch and finish off with some games for a bit?” Jungkook finishes for him, helping his son climb out of Seokjin’s car.
“Sounds good to-” the elder begins, retucking in his shirt, but he’s cut off as Yongsik grabs his hand, all but dragging him down the blacktop.
“Good plan, let’s go hyung,” he commands in his small voice, eyes squinting determinedly against the sun. “C’mon daddy, you, too.” He holds his other hand out to his father, lips pursed impatiently, his nose, so much like Jungkook’s, scrunched up.
Jungkook smiles shyly, his eyes flicking towards Seokjin’s, bright in the sun. “But what if I wanted to hold hyung’s hand, too?” he asks his son, and Seokjin feels himself blaze, his fingers tingling.
Yongsik gives him the most offended look, one eyebrow arched, lip curling, but he doesn’t speak - father and son stare at one another, seconds pass - then the three-year-old tosses his head back and sighs. “ Fine ,” he huffs. “You can hold hyung’s other hand.”
“So gracious of you, son,” Jungkook teases, rolling his eyes. “Thank you.”
Seokjin waits, a smile on his own face at their exchange, but Yongsik, it appears, has reached the absolute end of his patience. “Hyung c’mon , hold daddy’s hand! Let’s gooooo .”
Jungkook, basically trying to devour his entire bottom lip in an attempt to hide his smile, moves to Seokjin’s side, gently sliding his fingers between the elder’s. He meets the elder’s eyes, his own soft. “Kid said so,” he mutters, pink on his cheeks. “As his father, I feel a responsibility to make him happy.”
Yongsik leads the way across the fifty-million-mile long parking lot, his little Converse smacking against the pavement; Seokjin follows, with Jungkook, praying that his hand isn’t sweating in a gross way, because he, under no circumstance, wants to let go of Jungkook.
They buy their tickets and their photo ops behind a Kindergarten class of thirty, all in matching green and white uniforms; Yongsik stares at the older children with equal parts curiosity and disdain, but he’s quickly distracted as his father scoops him up so they can make their way inside and onto the escalator.
The open, bright interior of the convention center is all sorts of dino’d-up; there are banners and posters, cardboard standees of all the popular dinosaurs scattered across the geometric carpet - T-Rex, Triceratops, Brontosaurus, Apatosaurus - there are even painted, wood and plaster Pterodactyls mounted on top of the upper floor railing, looking down over the sizeable crowd. Yongsik tilts his head back, mouth open as he stares, and honestly, Seokjin is right there with him - but the elder jumps a little, brought back to reality when Jungkook’s hand folds itself in his own again.
He looks at Jungkook’s profile, but the younger merely smiles. “You know,” he says softly, “I always felt really… young, with you, it’s weird, I know, I guess it’s the age thing, but… I like seeing the child in you, hyung. I like how it… it reminds me growing up isn’t always losing that.” He looks at his son, then, who Seokjin thinks is five seconds away from booking it out of Jungkook’s arms and towards the huge, lit-up display promoting the velociraptor show. “I hope he doesn’t lose it, either.”
Clearing his throat of nerves, the elder squeezes Jungkook’s hand. “I never thought of you as a kid,” he assures him. “Young, yes, but not like that, I don’t want you to think this is weird for me.”
“I know.” Jungkook looks at him then, something in his eyes leaving Seokjin breathless. “Honestly, I thought about it, before, sometimes, but… when you kissed me, I knew then.” He shrugs, smiling. “I just knew.”
Seokjin almost stumbles as they step off the escalator, but Jungkook keeps him standing.
The velociraptor show gives Seokjin so much anxiety that he ends up hiding behind Jungkook for most of it - nobody told him that the “handlers” would be walking through the crowd gathered in groups of a dozen across the wide auditorium floor, the robots following them; the animatronics are so realistic, so fucking creepy, that all sane-thoughts exit the building as they loom past, rumbling and grumbling loud enough to hide the mechanic whirl that identifies them as definitely not real .
At least they don’t do anything dumb, like charge as if they’re going to attack.
Yongsik loves them, though. He names them all, as they pass, his eyes wide as he cackles and claps in his father’s lap - the big one, leader of the pack, he calls Red, probably because of the streaks of red markings across his back. The next one, smaller in stature but bulkier, he calls Truck, and the other three, nearly identical, he names Kookie (“ he looks like you, daddy.” “Uh… okay, son.”) , Marble, and finally, Pebble.
Seokjin doesn’t ask, he’s more concerned with giving the handlers the evil eye, watching them carefully just in case they decide to fuck with the crowd; the elder put too much effort into his outfit today, the last thing he wants to do is ruin it out of fear. He’d have no chance with Jungkook, if that happened - he’d have to change his name and move to Mars.
“Hyung.” Yongsik states out of nowhere, clambering out of Jungkook’s lap to relocate to Seokjin’s. “Don’t worry, hyung, they’re really nice. They don’t eat people,” he tells the elder, taking his hand in his own small one. “I’ll protect you, though, don’t worry.”
He smiles so hard it hurts, his chest aching; Seokjin hugs the boy to him, and drops a kiss on his dark hair. “Thank, buddy.”
“I guess I’ll fend for myself,” Jungkook laughs, blushing when he’s shushed by someone nearby. “They are kind of scary, though,” he adds in a whisper, leaning closer and giving Seokjin a look that tells the elder he’s not the only one disconcerted. “I didn’t think they’d be so real .”
The elder nods with conviction. “Oh my God, right ? Their eyes, do you see their eyes? ”
After a disgruntled kid, no older than six or seven, rotates her entire body to stare them down, Seokjin and Jungkook fall silent, grinning at each other like teenagers caught making out at the end of the driveway. Yongsik, oblivious to all but the oversized, predatory animatronics, sits snuggly in Seokjin’s lap, listening with his eyes and mouth wide. All he wants is a chance to reach out and touch the dinosaurs as they pass; on the other side of things, all Seokjin wants is to reach out and take Jungkook’s hand.
But there are borderline rabid children and grumpy parents all around them, not to mention the six-feet tall robots, so, Seokjin doesn’t reach for the other’s hand; instead, he keeps Jungkook’s son firmly in his lap, and lets his shoulder brush softly against the other’s, just a gentle reminder that he’s there.
He does sneak a look at Jungkook’s face, though, and his stomach swoops like a crashing wave when he sees the younger smiling - it’s enough for him, for now; but just like always, Jungkook surprises him, in time.
After the forty-minute presentation is done, those who’d purchased photo-op tickets get in line along the back wall of the presentation hall; along with Seokjin, Jungkook, and the mini-Kook all but bouncing out of his little converse, there are about fifty of them in total (and not all are accompanied by kids, A.K.A., Seokjin’s people). The line moves quickly, people posing for two quick shots with the real-but-not-really dinosaurs, before taking their ticket stub to the next room as the pictures are printed. After a while, after Jungkook has to chase after his son for jumping the gun twice, it’s finally their turn - Seokjin almost runs away twice, but he’s heading for the door, unlike Yongsik.
“I wanna up!” Yongsik proclaims, reaching his hands up towards Seokjin with a wild look in his eye.
The elder looks at him, then to Jungkook, then to the animatronic’s handler. “Is… is that allowed?” He whispers, as Yongsik tugs on his hands with enough force to almost pull him over.
“He’s small enough, yeah, just hold on to him. We’ve got their mechanisms locked, only audio right now,” the man in the blue polo responds with a smile, obviously one of the good guys in love with his job. “Put him on the big guy, the red one.”
Seokjin nods, but when he goes to give Yongsik to his father, Jungkook cocks an eyebrow. “You’re taller, hyung,” the younger says. “You can reach, better.”
It’s a simple, plan fact - but the way Jungkook says the words, the way his eyes shine, Seokjin feels weak.
Despite Jungkook’s suggestive tone, Seokjin knows he’s right; in no time, the elder has the toddler perched on Red’s neck, his chubby arms wrapped tightly around the animatronic’s head, his legs wound just as tight; the elder keeps his own arm tossed over the robot’s neck, his hand firmly under Yongsik’s butt to keep him from sliding down.
“Okay,” the photographer says, glancing at his viewfinder. “Everyone say “rawr”!”
Jungkook springs the ultimate question two hours later, after the movie, while they’re off to the side as Yongsik is busy getting scales and 2D spikes painted on his round face.
“Are we dating?” Jungkook asks, offering Seokjin the bottle of water they bought at the kiosk outside of the theatre. “I mean, well, not this particular outing, but, in general…”
Seokjin is caught off guard, as he often is when it comes to Jungkook, but he recovers relatively quickly despite the water that drips from his chin. “This could totally be a date,” he says, smiling despite the bubbling giddiness in his chest. “I’m enjoying it, at least.”
“Well, so am I, but that’s not really an answer, hyung,” the younger laughs, pushing lightly at Seokjin’s shoulder. He gives the elder a look, then, one that shows too much just how vulnerable he still feels. “I’m serious, though, Jin… the kiss, before, I just… I wanted to do it so bad, you know, I didn’t think what it would mean for us.”
“It means we… jumped the gun, I guess.” Seokjin moves a little closer, aware of the other people around them, aware that this might not be the best place for this conversation, with the din of dozens of other conversations around them, the cries and giggles of children; but it’s happening.
Jungkook gives him a glance, once that says he wants him to continue, while keeping his full attention on his son a few feet away. “Yeah?”
“Yeah,” Seokjin mutters, subtly turning to the side, to face the younger. Keeping his body turned, he slips his hand into Jungkook’s, his eyes downcast. “I guess I thought about making the move for so long that it just… happened, I didn’t mean to freak you-”
“You didn’t!” Jungkook cuts him off, squeezing his hand. “You didn’t,” he repeats, softer, giggling. “I was so sure, when I saw you at the bar, and I was so sure, in the moment, but afterwards I worried I’d freaked you out.”
Seokjin wraps his sizzling mind around the words, his own laughter bubbling, startling a little boy passing them to get back to his mom. “You avoiding me is what freaked me out.”
The younger visibly winces, but their conversation is cut short as Yongsik comes running back over, his face painting in different shades of green and ivory.
“Daddy, look, I’m a ‘ceritops!”
“I see,” Jungkook tells him, smoothing down his hair. “You look like a real dinosaur, son.”
Yongsik rolls his eyes, and makes grabby hands at Seokjin. “Up, hyung, please! Let’s go dig.”
Seokjin lifts his pseudo son up, groaning because he’s getting too old for this - his stomach makes a complimentary sound, and Jungkook giggles at him.
“We should get lunch,” the younger suggests, pausing to tug at Yongsik’s arm. “Then we can go dig.”
“I’m not hungry yet, daddy,” Yongsik says with a tiny shrug, a frown to match. “If we don’t go now all the dinosaurs will be dug up.”
Seokjin mimics his frown. “He’s right,” he tells Jungkook. “We should get to the T-Rex before someone else does.”
With an amused sigh, the other concedes, and they leave the foyer of the theatre for the west wing of the convention center. Eventually, Yongsik urges Seokjin to let him walk alongside him, his chubby fingers in the elder’s hand, and Jungkook takes it upon himself to fall into step with the elder, their arms brushing.
“You’re spoiling him, you know,” he chuckles, peeking around Seokjin at his son.
“I know,” the elder preens, resting his palm on the small of Jungkook’s back as they sidestep a large family. “It’s kinda my thing , right?”
He doesn’t expect Jungkook to catch his hand, and slip his fingers between the elder’s - he should have expected it, though, at this point.
“I don’t mind,” he tells the elder. “As long as you’re around to help me deal with the inevitable tantrums your knack of over affection will cause.”
This time, it’s Seokjin’s turn to do the whole surprise! thing.
They stop, just outside of the bone room, a volunteer with a bright smile attending the door.
“Hello!” he says, mostly to Yongsik. “We have aprons and goggles right over here to get our diggers ready.” He looks to Jungkook then, holding his hand out to Yongsik. “I can take him inside, the volunteers can get him suited up and find him a good spot.”
“Thank you,” Jungkook begins, “but we’re coming in, too-”
“We’re gonna need some equipment, too,” Seokjin cuts in, beaming. “You think we’re missing out? Oh, hell no.”
The attendee stares for a moment, then laughs. “Okay, then.”
Jungkook makes to follow him, but Seokjin holds him back, their hands still interlocked.
“Yes,” he says, before Jungkook can question him, before the volunteer or Yongsik even realize they aren’t following. He repeats the word, and smiles at Jungkook’s look of amused confusion. “Yes, we’re dating, and yes, I’ll be around to deal with the tantrums,” the elder clarifies, searching Jungkook’s face for any sign of uncertainty, or even a sign of anything resembling oh no . “If you want me to be,” the elder adds. “I’d be very, very happy… if you did.”
He can tell it takes Jungkook by surprise, completely, and he takes a gentle, internal thrill of victory from it; but Jungkook’s face smooths out, blank, as he stares, his lips parting, eyes wide. Ten seconds pass and Seokjin’s palm, still pressed hard against the younger’s, begins to sweat.
Then Jungkook grins, laughter bursting from his chest. “Yeah,” he gasps, eyes glittering brighter than the sun itself. “There’s, well, a few things I still want to talk about,” he warns. “But it can wait. So can the kiss I’m going to give you, because there are too many children around for me to risk it.”
“I look forward to it,” Seokjin breathes.
The elder nearly jumps out of his skin as he’s tugged to the side by two tiny hands. “Hyung, daddy! C’moooon!”
Yongsik, decked out in oversized rubber gloves, clear plastic glasses, and a blue apron with the words Dino Digger embroidered on the front, is staring up at them, pouting.
“We’re coming,” Jungkook tells him.
Seokjin follows his boys inside.
Alongside a pair of ten year old twins, the three of them spend an hour and a half successfully excavating a set of tyrannosaurus rex remains (read: aluminium rods covered in thick plaster and spray painted to resemble old, fossilized bones) from a glorified sandbox, and contrary to what Seokjin is sure Jungkook expected, Yongsik enjoys himself much more than the adult.
Not that the adults, both of them, don’t have a blast, too.
After the T-Rex is exposed, Yongsik drags Seokjin over to an abandoned pit where the left leg of a dinosaur the elder has never heard of lays, begging for someone to help uncover the rest of him. While the toddler uses all of his concentration to gently scoop small handfuls of dirt and sand from the “fossils”, with Seokjin following his cute orders, Jungkook sits off to the side, his gloves piled in his lap so he can maneuver his phone. He takes photo after photo, videos that have to run at least ten minutes apiece, all the while smiling like the Proudest Dad in the World. The elder almost feels left out, not that he minds, as it seems he’s forgotten in the moment, in the face of Jungkook’s adoration for his son.
At one point, Yongsik stands, patting dirt from his butt, and moves to the dinosaurs head with a small brush, cooing as he reveals the creature’s face; Jungkook is suddenly at Seokjin’s side - the front-facing camera on his phone is pulled up.
They look cute, Seokjin admits as they smile for the picture, cheeks against cheeks, equal parts giddy and vain - he doesn’t do one-a-day facemasks for the hell of it; he’s scolded by Yongsik, however, who tells him he’s slacking on his digger duties.
Two hours, two dinosaurs recovered from the passage of time, and all fifteen-megabytes of Jungkook’s phone memory later, Yongsik yawns - then announces he’s hungry.
“Oh thank god,” Seokjin groans, his stomach all but eating itself and his ass and legs numb from squatting and kneeling. “Let’s eat.”
“Let’s wash up,” Jungkook corrects, making a point to look the elder up and down. It’s not out of lust, however, it’s one of pure amusement at the sheer amount of dirt covering the elder’s legs, sticking to both his jeans and the readily available skin through the rips and tears.
Laughing at himself, the elder can feel himself warm. “I guess I need a shower.”
They find the bathrooms, relatively empty considering there’s a good thousand people still at the convention center. Jungkook takes his son to the far stall, and Seokjin kicks off his jeans and shakes them over the trashcan, expelling as much of the gritty grossness as he can - thankfully, most of the dirt is dry and easy to get rid off.
He washes his hands in the sink, then, using damp paper towels to rid his bare legs of dirt, and that’s when he hears Jungkook’s cackle.
He turns to glance at the younger, who is struggling to help his son wash his hands while trying to reign in his laughter. “Yes, Kookie, what is so funny about a grown man half-naked in the men’s room?”
Now Yongsik is laughing, mostly because his father is, not because he can grasp any sort of hilarity from the situation; once his hands are clean, Jungkook spends some time trying to finger-comb dirt from his son’s hair, as Seokjin steps back into his significantly cleaner jeans.
“Well?” the elder prompts, slightly glaring at the man in front of him.
Jungkook bites his lip, and hoists his son back to the floor. “Nothing!” he squeaks, making a mad dash out the door - laughing himself, Seokjin follows.
He can’t run forever, though - they pause outside of the elevators that’ll take them up to the onsite restaurant as it closes, already full of people. Yongsik bounces around them in circles, singing the song that had been playing in the bone room, something cute and not at all Seokjin’s taste.
Jungkook breaks down into giggles again, before finally telling him. “Pink,” he pushes the words out through his breathlessness, his cheeks bright. “Your boxers, they’re like, the same pink as your shirt.”
“I don’t get the ha-ha part of that,” Seokjin pouts, pinching at Jungkook’s hip.
“Because they match ,” the younger tells him, as the elevator comes back down. “Like, perfectly,” he adds, before calling Yongsik over to them.
Seokjin finally gets it - now he laughs. “My boxers always match what I’m wearing,” he informs the younger with a sly smile - he most definitely hasn’t forgotten that Jungkook doesn’t even wear underwear - as they step onto the elevator.
At this, Jungkook laughs even harder, but the whole ride up, Seokjin can feel the other’s gaze on him; and he has no doubt that Jungkook is going through every single outfit he’s ever seen the elder in, imaging what was happening beneath the top layer. By the time they’re stepping into the smell of food and the clattering voices of dozens upon dozens of people, Seokjin is lightheaded again.
“Oh, wow,” Jungkook sighs, as they see row upon row of the buffet laid out before them. Kitchen staff is everywhere refilling platter after platter as the exhibit-goers pick them clean. Seokjin’s gaze is pulled towards the ten different kinds of noodle selection, by his nose, and Jungkook physically starts gravitating towards the barbeque grill.
“Buffet for three?” the hostess asks them, already searching for a table before Seokjin can answer her. “Is the patio okay? All our small tables inside will be taken for at least another forty minutes.”
“The patio is perfect,” Jungkook answers for them. Seokjin hands over his card; once the meals are paid for, she smiles, before she motions for them to follow.
It’s just after four in the afternoon, Seokjin realizes; the sun isn’t quite setting, but it’s lowering, taking it’s scorching heat with it. It’s comfortable on the patio, not too hot or too loud, and their hostess leads them to a table that’s technically for two, but she steals a third chair from a vacant table for Yongsik.
“Fountain drinks are free with the meal,” she tells them, “and endless refills. The nearest one is back into the dining room and immediately to your left. But there is a bar, we have wine, beer, anything really.” She produces a little round contraption from her smock, and passes it to Seokjin. “If you need anything, just buzz, and someone will be out to see you.”
“Thank you,” the elder tells her, Yongsik echoing him.
Once she’s gone, Seokjin drops the buzzer on the table, and smiles as Jungkook. “Want a beer? You take Yongsikie and I’ll get us drinks and meet you back here.”
“Okay, hyung,” the younger agrees, taking his son by the hand. “C’mon, buddy, let’s eat.”
“ And eat and eat and eat ,” Yongsik adds, as if he’s never seen so much food before in his 3 years on this planet.
It can probably be blamed on the fact that they waited so long to eat, or on exhaustion, or maybe because Yongsik just loves dinosaurs so much , but he’s absolutely unamused when he finds out that there’s a kid’s menu and it’s dinosaur themed - it’s all the same food as what’s on the other platters, but each meat dish is named in a way to suggest they’re actually eating dinosaurs, and it pushes Yongsik into the worst fit Seokjin has ever seen him throw.
It’s a full thirty-minutes of Yongsik wailing, crying, refusing to eat and refusing to even look at Jungkook; not that there aren’t a ton of people already looking at them anyway. Once Yongsik has cried himself into a tired mess, it takes Jungkook another ten minutes to carefully explain to him that they aren’t actually eating dinosaurs, that it’s just a name, a joke.
It’s a wakeup call, for sure, for the elder, who realizes he hasn’t grasped even a fraction of what it means to be a parent, especially a single parent like Jungkook. It isn’t just about Yongsik, though, Seokjin realizes - there’s the stigma, too, the people around them, seeing Jungkook’s age, giving him looks that aren’t so subtle, passing judgment on his life with zero thought.
It doesn’t bother Seokjin, who has never and will never give a fuck what other people think about him, but he sees the way Jungkook’s eyes dart around, knowing that it’s him people are muttering about. He can’t even scold Yongsik for acting out, either, because the kid is genuinely upset, his nose and cheeks bright red, lashes damp.
Finally, he seems to understand.
“Not dinosaurs,” he mutters, sniffling, glancing at the bone-shaped chicken nuggets on his plate.
“Not dinosaurs,” Jungkook assures him, looking twice as tired, and twice his age. “I promise. But you don’t have to eat it, daddy can get you something else. They have burgers, do you want a burger?”
Yongsik nods, and accepts the napkin Seokjin passes him, scrubbing at his face. “And grapes?” he asks, turning his big eyes on his dad. “And carrots?”
At least he loves his fruits and veggies.
Jungkook nods, and stands, but Yongsik won’t let him go - Seokjin reaches for him, then. “C’mere, baby,” he says, and Jungkook gives him a grateful smile.
Yongsik folds himself into Seokjin’s chest, his damp face warm against his neck, his hands fisted into Seokjin’s t-shirt. The elder rocks him back and forth, making a point now that Jungkook is gone to shoot everyone a dirty look for their stares, satisfied as they all look away guiltily. It’s hypocrisy at it’s finest, considering everyone here is here with kids, and they should know, better than Seokjin at that, that you can’t predict everything when it comes to children.
The rest of their late lunch (practically dinner, at this point), goes well. Seokjin keeps Yongsik with him while they eat, and once his plate is cleared, he dozes in the elder’s arm, his small snores puffing into Seokjin’s shoulder. Jungkook devours three entire racks of ribs, two burgers, and they share Yongsik’s abandoned chicken nuggets - the conversation is light, flirty even, but as Jungkook downs the last of his beer, he sighs.
“I’m sorry, about earlier. I should’ve guessed he’d freak out,” he says, looking at his son with a little sadness. “I know-”
“You don’t need to apologize,” the elder tells him, knocking his foot into the other’s leg under the table. “It doesn't bother me, I love this kid. Almost as much as he loves dinosaurs.”
This makes Jungkook smile, some of the sadness dispersing. “I just… don’t want you to, I don’t know, change your mind about us.”
Seokjin looks at him, takes in everything, the way the early evening sun reflects off Jungkook’s dark hair, the way his lashes cast shadows over his bright eyes, his cheeks. He takes in the paleness of Jungkook’s skin, that will no doubt deepen into gold during the summer, and he counts the scattering of acne scars across his jaw.
He allows himself a glance at Jungkook’s narrow shoulders, bulky despite their slimness, before he returns his gaze to the younger’s; there’s so much there, thoughts and feelings, worries and secrets, hidden joys and plans. Seokjin loves Yongsik, loves him so much it physically hurts him - he doesn’t know what it’s like to be a father, had never thought about with much depth, but recently, that’s changed, and he has no regrets; he never could, and he wants a chance to love Jungkook, too.
“Nothing can change my mind, especially not this,” the elder finally says, “especially not Yongsikie. This won’t work if you’re afraid of me seeing everything, the good and the bad, all of it, no matter how hard or so not fun it is.”
“I know, hyung,” the younger begins, but Seokjin shushes him gently, with a hint of sass.
“I told you months ago, but I don’t mind saying it over and over until you trust me - you’re not alone - I know you have been, and I can’t imagine how hard it was, and it’s probably going to keep being hard but with the two of us, it’ll be okay.” He takes a deep breath, momentarily distracted by the shine in Jungkook’s wide eyes. “I love Yongsik, Kookie, I’d die for him,” he adds, realizing his voice is thick with emotion - he doesn’t want to cry, not so soon - so he swallows, and drops a kiss on Yongsik’s silky hair. “No matter what happens with you and me, this kid will never go without as long as I can help it.”
Seokjin manages to breathe his tears into submission, but Jungkook isn’t as successful - moisture wells and crashes to his t-shirt, and he nods, his face crumpling; the elder watches, his throat tight, while the younger composes himself enough to speak.
“I want us to work,” he says, all shyness tossed aside. “I really do, but I know if we don’t that I’ll be okay. But Yongsik… I couldn’t make it work with Nari, you know? I tried and she tried and it’s not her fault but Yongsik, he deserves so much more than I can-” he cuts himself off, before Seokjin can. “He’s a really happy kid, and I’m so lucky that he’s healthy and that my mom is willing to help as much as she does, but it’s never going to feel like I’ve given him enough…”
The younger nods, offering Seokjin a teary smile. “I don’t know what I’m trying to say anymore, but I think it was something like I’m really happy to give us a chance because I know that no matter what, you’ll put Yongsik first, just like I would. And that means everything to me.”
At this, Seokjin laughs, passing Jungkook a paper napkin. “Well, good.”
With a couple hours until the convention center closes it’s doors for the night, they decide to forgo the game room, and instead, spend some time browsing the fossils exhibits. Yongsik is half asleep in Jungkook’s arms the entire time, father and son having reconciled, and his soft, sleepy sounds of awe have Seokjin melting; that, along with Jungkook’s fingers at home in his, have him floating, warm and weightless.
Maybe they should’ve talked about their feelings before, God knows there were several moments over the past weeks where either one of them could have opened their mouth and broken the ice; maybe this could be their tenth date, not their first, and maybe Seokjin could have kissed Jungkook a million times by now.
Or maybe not, maybe things happened exactly the way they were supposed to. Seokjin has never been a huge believer in fate; he can appreciate luck, and coincidence, he’s been in too many situations where one small shift could have meant a very different outcome to think otherwise, but even so. He’s always been of the mindset that life is what you make it, and he chose to put things off over and over until he finally walked out on that dancefloor and kissed Jungkook.
He’d do it over the same way, a thousand times if need be.
Seokjin will never know if anything would have been different, but he can only believe that the time they spent dancing around each other, the time spent with confessions on the tips of their tongues only served to bring them closer - to ensure the trust between them.
At least now, they’re on the same page, in sync, holding hands through the dark, carpeted exhibits without caring what people think.
When they near the end of the Cretaceous Period, Yongsik is well and truly asleep, this time for the long haul; so, both of them just as tired, silently decide it’s time to go home.
Until they’re passing the gift shop on the way to the exit.
“Do you see what I see?” Seokjin asks, coming to a sharp halt. “Oh my god, that’s just unfair.”
Jungkook snorts, moving towards the store. “Unfair, yes, but we should still buy him one.”
The item of offense is a onesie, a dinosaur onesie - or rather, a whole herd, right on display in the enormous gift shop window, between embroidered throw pillows, dinosaur shaped coffee mugs, and t-shirts.
Seokjin can definitely admit he is one-thousand percent jealous as they pick out a red and blue raptor onesie for Yongsik, a little baggy so he can grow into it (they both know he will). There’s a line at the checkout counter, so Jungkook wanders off with his sleeping child who is unaware of the gift he’ll be given; Seokjin stays behind to wait in line, pouting at a display of T-rex footprints keychains at just how unfair it is that kids get all the good shit.
Yes he’s an adult and yes, he want’s a goddamn dinosaur onesie.
Hashtag: no shame in Seokjin’s game.
He’s next in line when he hears Jungkook calling him. “Hyung, uh, you need to get over here, now,” the younger whisper-shouts, waving him over to the other side of the store. “Like, right now.”
Frowning, Seokjin excuses himself from line, and rushes over, running a hand through his hair. “What’s the mat- holy shit.”
This has hands down been the best day of Seokjin’s life (with the day he kissed Jungkook a very close second), because right there, in front of him, is the most glorious thing he’s ever seen - aside from himself in the bathroom mirror after a shower.
“I want one, too, the black one, but here, this one is pink-”
Seokjin snatches the XXL-Unisex pink Triceratops onesie from the rack so fast he almost knocks the entire thing to the floor - Jungkook, laughing as silently as he can manage, passes him the black one he chose, and the elder marches himself over to get back in line.
Best day ever - and it keeps getting better.
The car ride home in the early evening light is muted, comfortable; it’s stop and go traffic, which would be a bitch on any other day, but today, it means just more minutes ticking by that Seokjin gets to sit and talk with Jungkook. Yongsik is sleeping peacefully in his carseat, drooling a little, and Seokjin loves him but the small moments his sleeping gives the elder alone with Jungkook are just as precious.
They don’t talk about anything serious, though they should. Seokjin keeps one hand on the wheel - Jungkook still has his other hand, and is tracing shapes across his palm as he speaks. Topics range from their favorite dramas, to Jungkook’s near-obsession with Iron Man and Overwatch (they argue about who is the best character to main), and they touch lightly on past relationships.
“I’ve dated maybe three times since Yongsik was born,” Jungkook tells him, slouched in the passenger seat, Seokjin hand in his lap. “Just casually, just to get out of the house, you know? But people tend to steer clear when they find out I have a kid.”
“Kind of silly, if you ask me. Silly and petty, they’d have loved him if they’d bothered to know it.”
The younger looks at him and grins, giggling a little. “I don’t blame them, none of them were soulmates or anything. Not everyone is as awesome as you, hyung, and not everyone is kid-friendly.”
As Seokjin takes their exit, Jungkook presses his lips to the elder’s knuckles, and it’s the warmest feeling Seokjin’s ever experienced.
Seokjin parks as close to the front door as he can, but it doesn’t actually matter.
“Hey, it’s my mom.” Jungkook points to someone walking down the semi-lit sidewalk, phone pressed to their ear - sure enough, it’s Jungkook’s mom; Seokjin’s only met her once, but the sharp kindness in her features is recognizable instantly.
The younger clambers out to flag her down, while Seokjin carefully extricates Yongsik from his car seat. They greet each other briefly, Seokjin likes her, but he can tell instantly that her motherly instincts are telling her about the shift in his relationship with her son.
“I’ll take him upstairs,” she says, taking Yongsik from the elder. “You coming inside, Seokjin?”
“We’re going to go for a walk, actually,” Jungkook cuts in, biting his lip. “If that’s okay, mom? I need to talk to hyung about midterms and stuff.”
His mother smiles, half rolling her eyes. “Of course it’s fine, baby. Have you eaten? I’ll make us something after I put this one to bed.”
Jungkook nods and kisses her cheek, dropping a kiss on Yongsik’s hair, too. “Yes ma’am, thank you. I’ll be quick.”
After she’s said goodbye to Seokjin and disappeared inside, Jungkook takes the elder’s arm, and leads him around the building to the small park nestled between it and the next building. There’s a path of smooth stone that winds through blooming spring flowers, down towards a pond and small seating area. This is where Jungkook takes him, and aside from an older couple several feet away, walking further in the opposite direction, they’re pretty alone in the dull streetlamps.
“I forgot about midterms,” Seokjin points out, parking his old, tired ass on top of a picnic table; it’s painted blue with tiny yellow daisies scattered across the surface, probably a project of the local elementary school.
“I sure didn’t,” the other points out, stretching. “I’ve been dreading them, studying my ass off. They’re going to kill me, you know.”
Snorting, Seokjin reaches out, and his heart skips several large beats as Jungkook comes to him, smiling. The younger settles his hips between Seokjin’s open legs and slips his fingers between the elder’s, smiling in a way that’s both blatantly bold, but enticingly shy.
“So,” Seokjin breathes, tilting his face to meet Jungkook’s eyes. “What did you want to talk about?”
He watches the breath catch in Jungkook’s chest, watches his throat bob - then Jungkook licks his lips, and it’s all Seokjin can do to keep his head from floating off into space.
“I really, really like this,” the younger begins, glancing briefly at their hands, “and I really like you . I kept thinking it was just a crush, you know? Because you’re, well, older and you’re an amazing photographer, and you’re hot as fuck. Your salty-ass sarcasm always makes me smile even if it’s meant for me, but you’re also like, the sweetest guy ever.” He pauses, blushing - he never talks this much at once.
“I like us, too, love,” Seokjin assures him. “I’m on board, you don’t have to worry about that. I know it’s new but you have me, completely.”
Jungkook blushes even harder (Seokjin isn’t much better) and gently tugs his hands away, only to slide them to rest on either side of the elder’s neck; Seokjin wonders if he can feel how rapid and erratic his pulse feels, against the warmth of his palms.
“I just,” he continues, biting his lip - he’s not even making eye contact anymore, his gaze is honed in on the elder’s mouth. “I’m not doing this for the free childcare,” he finally breathes. “I’m in this too, is what I’m trying very unsuccessfully to communicate.”
“The thought never crossed my mind,” Seokin tells him, a half moment before Jungkook smiles, ducking, and their lips meet.
Somehow the second time is even more amazing than the first.
Seokjin wraps his arms around Jungkook’s waist, disregarding the awkward sharp angle it leaves his neck in; he completely disregards the slight pain when Jungkook parts his lips and breathes harshly, his fingers slipping into the elder’s hair, tugging ever so gently.
Something snaps like a firecracker through Seokjin’s chest, and he stands, pulling Jungkook firmly against him; the younger inhales, hard, while he forgets to breathe, caring about nothing save the sweet warmth on Jungkook’s tongue.
They pull back for a moment, only to deepen the kiss, again and again, fingers pressed softly against skin, chests bumping together. Contrary to every past experience, every previous fantasy of kissing Jungkook, Seokjin finds himself completely unaroused - all he can feel is a deep, bubbling pressure in his chest, making him feel like he’s five seconds away from floating away and taking the breathtaking sensation of Jungkook’s lips on his own with him.
Their second kiss lasts for at least a full ten minutes, before they part for good, both of them gasping for air, and giggling like children. Jungkook’s hands find their way back to the elder’s neck, and Seokjin presses their foreheads together.
“So,” he breathes, words very difficult suddenly. “I’d say I’ll see you at work Monday, but I think Monday is very, very far away.”
Jungkook nods, pressing forward for a small, chaste kiss. “You could come over for lunch Saturday.”
“It’s a plan.”
The weekend is filled with bright, ringing laughter, precious stolen kisses, and so much of that bubbling, aching happiness that Seokjin thinks he’s gotten a dozen new wrinkles by Sunday evening just from smiling so much.
Monday is the fucking apocalypse - or a fashion photographer’s equivalent, at least.
Seokjin winces and pulls the phone away from his face for the fifth time in five minutes, Yoongi’s pitiful, gross retching echoing from the speaker once again.
“I’m so sorry, hyung, I swear I’m not hungover, it’s just bad chicken,” the younger wheezes. “I swea-”
“It’s okay, Yoongi, just take some Pepto and get some rest. We’ll figure things out over here, don’t worry.”
Jungkook, who had been busy setting up, appears at the elder’s side as soon as the call ends. “What’s up? Yoongi coming?”
“Food poisoning,” the elder sighs. “Really bad food poisoning, poor guy, he sounds like shit.”
The younger wrinkles his nose (Seokjin wants to kiss it) and walks away to finish lining up the backdrop; Seokjin watches him for a second, smiling slightly, just smitten as fuck per usual.
Then he realizes something - they’re a model short.
Seokjin doesn’t pause as he rushes towards the offices, not even when Jungkook shouts at him. He hauls ass straight to Namjoon’s office, and barrels through the door - he doesn’t even bother knocking, not now.
“Namjoon, how important is the shoot today?” he asks, watching the man in question pick himself off the floor where he’d fallen when Seokjin startled him. “Because if I remember correctly, it’s a last minute, very important, very expensive deal with an even more important, even more expensive client who liked our last issue so much that they skipped over their own photographers and models just to commission us.”
Namjoon nods, puzzled. “Yeah, why?”
Jungkook appears then, poking his head in the door. “What the hell is happening?” he asks, looking just as concerned as Namjoon. “You just… ran.” He leans against the elder, not even bothering to explain the skinship to Namjoon - Seokjin’s anxiety levels are rising too quickly for him to spare the contact any thought.
“Yoongi is sick, he can’t make it in,” he tells Namjoon. “The clothes, they’re fitted to perfection, right? What are we supposed to do without him? We can’t postpone, they’ll cancel, and this is too big to risk being flakey-”
“Hyung, calm down,” Namjoon stands, shaking his head. “Slow down, hold on, let’s think.”
“There’s no time to think, Namjoon, the others are already getting their hair-”
Seokjin is muted as Jungkook’s hand smacks lightly over his mouth, silencing him with surprise more than out of actual force; the elder glares at him, but all he gets is a smile in return. “He said think, love, not babble.”
Namjoon gives them an amused look (Seokjin doesn’t understand why he’s not as panicked as the elder), and props his ass on his desk, hands in his lap. “Well… we need a fourth model.”
“Couldn’t Jimin just take his spot? They’re the same size and all,” Jungkook suggests, refusing to move his hand from Seokjin’s face; Seokjin considers licking him but he’s not sure if they’re that comfortable in their relationship yet.
“He’s not, though,” Namjoon muses. “He’s smaller than Yoongi, not as broad. Hyung is pretty buff too, under all his layers, especially recently.”
Jungkook huffs, then makes the vocal equivalent of a light bulb appearing over his head. “Jin is broad,” he says excitedly. “We may have to make some adjustments to the clothes, but they’d be minimal, right?”
“ Nmmph !”
Namjoon cocks his head, and smiles. “Yeah… yeah that could work. I mean we could just reschedule, do the shoot tomorrow, but… good idea, Jungkook.”
Seokjin, finally freeing himself from a cackling Jungkook, vehemently disagrees. “No, not good idea, Jungkook, terrible idea, the worst idea-”
“What’s so bad about it, hyung?” the younger asks, not put off at all by Seokjin’s attitude, still all smiles. “You’re hot as fuck and I know you can pull it off if you try.”
“Because I’m a photographer ,” Seokjin stresses, looking to Namjoon, still hoping against hope that his old friend will take his side. “I don’t do the modelling, I take the pictures! I’m the photographer, I’m-”
Jungkook touches his arm, lightly, his smile fading just a little. “I can take the photos,” he mutters, his mood suddenly shifting. “I… won’t be as good as you, but I do know how, at least.”
His words take Seokjin completely by surprise - of course Jungkook knows how to take photos, he’s more than capable, and the photos he’s shared with him have been beautiful; the elder recognizes the look of insecurity in his boyfriend’s (cue Seokjin’s inner squeal) eyes, and he makes it his personal mission to make it disappear forever.
He guesses it’s time to admit defeat - for Jungkook, of course. “Well,” he begins. “Nobody is as good as me, because I’m me and I’m the best,” he grins. “But... You take amazing photos, Kookie, so I think we’ll be more than okay.”
Seokjin thinks Jungkook would kiss him, if not for Namjoon three feet away - but the other stands, moving back to his chair. “Glad that’s settled,” he says. “I’ll finish up with this email and then see if I can help you guys out there.”
Back out in the hallway, before sending Seokjin off to get his hair and makeup done, Jungkook does steal a kiss, and it’s a little less chaste than it should be while they’re at work; it makes the elder dizzy, Jungkook’s mirth like sugar on his tongue.
“I’ll try not to do a better job than you, hyung,” the younger teases, his excitement evident in the way he all but bounces away, all teeth and wrinkled eyes. “I can use your camera, right?” he adds suddenly, almost tripping he pauses so hard.
“Sure, baby. Just don’t touch my settings.”
By the look in the younger’s eyes, Seokjin knows he’s going to definitely touch his settings; but he doesn’t have time to even pretend to be peeved. He’s too busy having his eyes lined, his hair teased and molded into a regal slicked back shine, his shoulders measured for the clothes he’s due to model - a long faux-leather and black velvet trench, a heather grey down-filled vinyl number, and oh, his favorite : a fitted denim vest with fur sleeves.
Seokjin will never understand fashion - but hopefully he’ll never have to be on this side of it in the future.
Jungkook is busy with finishing up set preparations when the elder walks into the studio, with intentions of helping out until it’s his turn, at least. To his surprise, Namjoon is there, lifting one side of a plush leather couch while Jungkook lifts the other; they move it to sit in front of a stark white backdrop, making sure it’s even, and Jungkook notices Seokjin.
“Oh, damn,” he breathes, eyes wide.
Jimin, on the other side of the room sipping a coffee with Taehyung, whistles. “Damn, hyung, you’re fucking hot.”
“Shut up,” the elder grumbles, grabbing a set of lights. “Move your ass onto this set, too.”
Jimin actually listens, giggling the whole time, to Seokjin’s satisfaction. Taehyung, however,...
“No, he’s right, you’re like, a god,” the younger says, stepping close to Seokjin and grinning. “I’d totally kiss you, too.”
Seokjin just groans, but the others have varying reactions - Jungkook snorts, making an I dare you comment, Jimin laughs so sharply he squeaks, and Namjoon, rolling his eyes, chastises the younger.
“What did I say, Tae?” he asks rhetorically, raising an eyebrow - or maybe it isn’t rhetorical, because he stares the other down until Taehyung blushes, looking down.
“Not to mention the kiss,” he finally answers. “So we don’t make anyone uncomfortable.”
“I knew it!” Jungkook shouts, raising a finger and pointing it between the two. “I knew you had to have something to do with the silence!”
Namjoon seems the opposite of contrite - in fact, he looks smug . “Well, I’ve been rooting for you two for months, I wasn’t going to let you idiots get in the way of fate, so I threatened their jobs.” He grins at Seokjin, finally looking maybe a little sheepish. “Sorry I didn’t say anything to you, hyung.”
Seokjin just sighs - he doesn’t know why he hadn’t seen it coming. “Thanks, Joon,” he laughs. “You fucking romantic.”
Taehyung tosses an arm around the other, making kissy faces at him. “You are so a romantic, hyung. Ah, it makes my chest ache. In a really gross way.”
Laughing at the band of loons he calls friends, Seokjin moves towards the table where his equipment is laid out - before he can make it within three feet of his camera, because he fully intends on running this shoot until he has to get on the other side of the camera, Hoseok appears in the doorway to the back, his hair in curlers and loose powder baking on his cheekbones.
“Oh, Seokjinnie-hyung~!” he sings, waving the elder over, shit eating grin present and blaring. “Time to get dressed up like a god, love.”
“No buts, unless it’s yours in leather. C’mon, now, the stylists are waiting, and let me tell you from experience, you make them wait and they will rip a limb off getting you dressed.
Jungkook is there, suddenly, camera in hand. “I can do this, hyung,” he mutters, eyes smiling. “Remember, trust, yeah? I trust you with my kid, you trust me with your camera.”
The elder frowns, because, uh… “That’s not really the same thing, Kook,” he points out. “You know I trust you, I’m just…”
He trails off because in truth, he’s run out of things to say. He could repeat fifteen thousand times that he’s not a model, that he’s worried that he’s going to screw up this whole thing because of that fact. But he has all of the faith in Jungkook, who, even if he didn’t have the raw talent he does, could probably do the job well with sheer determination if he had to.
And Seokjin knows he looks good, he always looks good, damn good; but this is about more than looking good, this is way to technical for him.
“Remember,” Jungkook begins, cocking his head, “when I wanted to quit. When I thought about dropping classes because it was too much?”
“Don’t get philosophical on me, baby, you know I hate that.”
The younger laughs, tossing his head back - from the corner of his eye, he can see the others look over, curious. “I’m not, I’m not,” Jungkook assures him. “I’m just saying, take your own advice. Don’t give up until you know you can’t do it.”
Seokjin takes a deep breath - he can’t argue with his own advice. “You better be glad you’re cute,” he says, acceding. “Fine, fine.”
Jungkook, with a grin that makes the elder’s toes curl in his socks, shoots forward and kisses him once, solid and loud.
The ensuing cheers makes Seokjin glad for the thick layer of makeup on his skin.
The shoot itself is a certified disaster, but the outcome isn’t actually all that bad; it’s pretty good, truth be told. Jungkook does an amazing job, he knows how to take a shot, how to get the best lighting and angles. The others stash their teasing long enough to listen to his directions, putting in the extra effort that the team needs to get the job done well.
Seokjin, however, sucks at it.
He has no idea what to do with his hands, even on a normal day, especially when they aren’t holding his camera, in Jungkook’s, or around a big ass bowl of jajangmyeon - so being on set, lights bright and Jungkook hovering with the camera, he’s a mess.
It’s hot, in the winter wear, in front of the lights - and he’s nervous, so he sweats, and they have to pause several times so one of the stylists can dry and touch up his face. Jungkook’s directions are good, though Seokjin fumbles a bit trying to follow them. More than once the younger has to set the camera aside just to physically reposition the elder, giggling and grinning at him.
“Your facial expressions are exactly what we need, at least,” he observes at one point, using light fingers to tilt Seokjin’s face to the side. “Okay, stay just like that.”
But they make it through it, although it takes twice as long as any of the others. After he’s scrubbed his face clean and changed into his own clothes, Seokjin collapses onto the couch in his office, Jungkook next to him.
“That was oddly exhausting,” he yawns, patting Jungkook’s thigh. “You can model, next time.”
“Sure, hyung,” the younger laughs, grinning at him. “I have to go, though. Class.”
Seokjin scowls, glancing at the clock on the wall. “Holy shit, I didn’t know it was that late already.”
“Time flies when you’re having fun. We can go over the photos in the morning, right?” Jungkook stands, hunting around for his backpack. “Or tonight, I should be out early since half the class is going to be a review for the midterm.”
“Ah, yeah, tomorrow is fine. When’s your first test?” he elder asks, groaning himself to his feet - he needs to pick up groceries before he goes to get Yongsik, which means he needs to stop for coffee because he is In Need.
Jungkook curses. “Fucking Saturday. My luck that’d I’d have a Saturday morning mid-term.”
They say their goodbyes, which involves a kiss that has all of Seokjin’s fatigue running in fear, and then Jungkook is gone, rushing off to catch his bus.
The elder, despite his previous no-philosophical bullshit stance, stands there in the fading sunlight in his office, his face feeling a little too tight from washing it with the hand soap in the bathroom (he’s going to get like 48374 zits from it, he just knows it), with a smile on his face - it’s kind of amazing how dramatically things can change when one takes the first step.
Or in his case, first kiss.
Their routine throughout the week is mostly the same, with some added delights - all morning, Seokjin and Jungkook work, per usual, before Jungkook rushes off to school in the afternoon, his kiss still thrumming on Seokjin’s lips. The elder picks up Yongsik and hangs out with him for a while, before they have dinner and baths, Yongsik dressed in his new dinosaur onesie. Seokjin spends his quiet time before Jungkook gets there, working on side-projects, emailing back and forth with Namjoon about upcoming deals, and possibly moving into a bigger location sometime in the next year.
The company they worked with on their winter campaign is thrilled with the shoot, and everyone gets a three-hundred dollar bonus on their checks - Seokjin puts his away in savings with plans of a trip to the beach with his boys, possibly everyone - and there are contracts for future collaborations in the works.
In the quiet, late evenings when Jungkook slips in the front door, exhausted but smiling, Seokjin still hands him a platter of leftovers, making sure he eats as he talks about his day, while they go over various notes and shoots and photos.
But afterwards, when the clock is nearing midnight, they usually end up horizontal on the couch, or vertical against the wall, hands roaming and whispers breathless. They haven’t gotten very far, it’s mostly a lot of kissing (Seokjin’s gone through an entire tube of lip balm this week), and bodies pressed together, getting familiar with the softness, and the hardness, of one another.
Tonight, they didn’t even make it out of the kitchen - Jungkook has Seokjin pressed against the island, and the elder thinks he might have a bruise forming from the sharp edge; he gives zero fucks.
“Ah, shit,” Jungkook sighs, his lips on Seokjin’s jaw. “I have to go, I have an exam first thing in the morning…”
Seokjin hums in agreeance, but that’s all he can do; Jungkook’s fingers are tucked into the waistband of his sweatpants, warm against his skin, and they’re moving lower and lower - the elder realizes he’s shaking in anticipation, silently begging Jungkook to touch him.
He keeps his own fingers tangled in the thick strands on the back of the younger’s hair, fighting the urge to turn them both around and press his boyfriend chest-first to the counter. But Seokjin wants, so so bad, and Jungkook wants - hell, the fat little cherubs flying around them with arrows dipped in lust are begging them to just go for it.
But it’s still too soon, and it’s late, and Jungkook does need to get some sleep; Yongsik is in the next room, snoozing away, but for how long, neither of them know.
Before Seokjin can do the responsible thing and help douse the fire raging between them, Jungkook crashes their mouths together, his lips slick and swollen, and his hand presses hard against the elder’s erection.
The muted sound Seokjin makes is almost embarrassing, if not for the identical sound that tumbles from Jungkook’s tongue onto his own. Seokjin’s mind goes completely blank, all he can focus on is the way Jungkook cups and massages him, with bold strokes against the thick fabric. He breathes hard into the kiss, clutching Jungkook to him, trying not to be too obvious about the way he’s moving his hips, grinding up into the younger’s palm.
Then Jungkook’s hand hesitates to a stop, and the younger chuckles, pulling away, his forehead tucked into the elder’s neck. “Sorry,” he breathes, words scalding Seokjin’s collarbones. “I’m… nervous, it’s been so long, I have no idea what I’m doing.”
Managing to pull himself together, Seokjin untangles his finger’s and grabs the edge of the counter, letting his head drop back. He breathes, deep, clearing his head - Jungkook has taken over all of his senses.
“Don’t apologize,” he chokes, blinking at the dim ceiling. “I’m good, we’re good. By all means, take your time, baby.”
Jungkook laughs again, his tone a little steadier. “I do like how much this turns you on, though,” he teases, nipping at Seokjin’s neck. “But I really do have to go. My mom is doing me a huge favor watching Yongsik in the morning, and she’s probably already in bed.”
“Yeah, okay,” the elder breathes, lifting his head to smile at the other. “You wanna meet for lunch tomorrow? Pre-celebrate the A you’re going to make?”
“I don’t want to jinx it, hyung.”
Laughing they pull apart, and Jungkook moves back to the table, packing up the notes they’d gone over earlier. He seems calm, aside from his flushed cheeks, his kiss-redden lips, the tangle of his hair left by Seokjin’s eager hands. Seokjin takes the younger’s empty plate to the sink, and watches his from across the room, unaware of the smile hovering on his mouth.
He seems calm, but Seokjin knows that look, burried in the warmth of his eyes, so he takes a deep breath, and makes a split decision.
“Hey, don’t worry about the test, you’re gonna do fine. And I have a huge tub, a stockpile of bath bombs and bubble bath, and a case of beer, all yours for the taking. You could… you know, stay?” he offers, wincing as his syllables break off nervously at the end.
Jungkook turns to look at him, surprised, halfway through zipping his bag up. “Stay?” he repeats.
The elder nods, searching Jungkook’s face. “Yeah, stay… the night. Here. With me. If you want.”
He doesn’t have to wait long for an answer - Jungkook’s blazing smile says it all.