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Jimin was eternally grateful for Jeongguk always encouraging him from his side, but never pushing him out of his comfort zone. 

He would encourage Jimin to try new things such as going out more. Jeongguk said he understands that Jimin liked being in the comfort of his home but he shouldn’t lock himself up and try to enjoy the world outside, that he couldn’t hide forever. How ironic, right? Jimin always told his students about it.

So today, Jeongguk dragged Jimin out for ice cream just around Jimin’s neighborhood. 

One step at a time.

Jeongguk waited for him at the corner of Jimin's street, and he felt like a high school girl going on his first date with his crush. 

The omega got himself chocolate chip ice cream while Jeongguk got mint choco and of course, they bickered about it. Jimin fake gagged and said it tasted like toothpaste or that cheap mouthwash at a convenience store and Jeongguk was scandalized, eyes as wide as saucers.

Jimin felt awkward at first being around so many people again and although it used to pain him when he'd see things that reminded him of his past, it didn’t bother him as much as it used to. He had accepted that things happened and that no matter how big the scar it had left in his heart, he was still happy during those times.

He had come to terms that there were people who weren’t meant to stay in his life forever, it was hard to keep people but it was okay. Life without him wasn't all that bad. He was happy and he hoped this happiness would last for a long time.

When they finished their ice creams and they were still not anywhere near Jimin’s house, they both had nothing to do. Jimin kept feeling Jeongguk’s eyes on him and he couldn’t help but laugh.

“What’s funny?” 

“You’re staring again. Do you always stare at people?”

“No, only you.” Jeongguk blurted out and Jimin enjoyed the pinkness on his cheeks that followed. “‘Cos you’re pretty.” 

Now it was Jimin’s time to blush.

“Shut up, that’s like, so cheesy. Are you in the ‘80s or something?” Jimin chided in a poor attempt to cover up for his racing heart.

“It’s the truth. Don’t you know you’re so pretty? Pretty pretty, the prettiest omega.” Jeongguk continued and Jimin had no idea when but the alpha was now in front of him, walking backward, brown doe eyes staring right into him. “ Prettiest .”

“I think you’re just buttering me up.” Jimin jested, eyes narrowed and nose scrunched up. “If you think that’s gonna earn you some points then you’re wrong .”

“Oops.” 

Jimin smacked the alpha’s arm, both of them laughing at their own absurdity.

Small quarrels were just a playful thing between them that came as easily as flirting. He felt genuine happiness whenever he spent time with Jeongguk, and he didn’t stop himself like before.

Jeongguk was capable of making him feel a lot of foreign emotions. Even though Jimin was afraid that one day all of these would be snatched from him, he didn’t want to care about it. 

͓

Jimin would never admit it but he didn’t want to be away from the alpha. He was too tired to do anything, but he didn’t want to bore Jeongguk too much, so his lame ass suggested they watch a movie, the only thing Jimin knew how to do without messing up. Jeongguk agreed with the biggest grin Jimin couldn’t help but compare him to a puppy.

The omega slouched at the plush sofa living room. Jeongguk let him pick a movie, and Jimin hesitated but picked Coco nonetheless, his favorite. Some might think that cartoons were just for kids but the omega begged to disagree. He loved how these films taught him and reminded him of something he already knew. 

They were a few inches apart at first, and Jeongguk was very stiff. His hands were in between his legs and he kept on chewing on his lips.

“Will you relax?” Jimin laughed.

“Oh.”

“C’mere,” Jimin patted the space beside him. Jeongguk did reluctantly though shyly.

Jimin’s omega purred, chest rumbling in satisfaction when a familiar fresh orange scent hit his nose. It was too late when he realized that he did it out loud, hiding his face in his sweater paws. Jeongguk snickered at his reaction. 

They gradually became closer as the movie continued. Halfway through the movie, Jimin let his head slowly fall on Jeongguk's shoulder. The alpha moved his arm to readjust his position so he could run his long fingers through Jimin’s hair, which made Jimin sleepier than ever. 

Jimin wasn’t really focused on the movie, just watching as the characters moved around and sang but when it was near the ending part, tears slid down Jimin’s face. It was inevitable that he would cry even if he had lost count of how many times he had watched this movie.

Jimin watched as Mama Coco carefully pulled a strip of paper from what seemed like a scrapbook that looked as old as her and languidly said: “I kept his letters.”

That particular scene never failed to tug a string in Jimin’s heart, and before he knew it, tears were flowing faster in his face and he was starting to wet Jeongguk’s shirt, but the alpha let him, petting his head, a gesture Jimin had come to love.

Jimin thought it was sad how there was so much time wasted on regrets, hatred, grudges, believing in things that weren't true. That time could have been spent loving and living beautiful memories, but then again, it was in people's nature to believe in the worst rather than the best. 

The film also teaches about the power and importance of forgiveness. Imelda, Coco’s mother, still couldn’t cross the gold-paved bridge because she still had a lot of hatred and pain for her husband. It reminded Jimin that by choosing not to forgive, he was trapping and hurting himself too. And he was hurting other people in the process too. He hasn't forgiven those who have hurt him and he hasn't forgiven himself for the things he caused that hurt other people. 

He missed his family too, and no matter how much they have scarred his heart he still loved them with all his heart, and there would always be part of him that would long for them. That was something that would never change.  

In the blur of tears, Jimin failed to notice the glossiness of the eyes of the alpha beside him. Jimin looked at Jeongguk through his wet lashes.

“A-are you okay?” he sniffled as the credits rolled on in the background. 

“Are you okay?” Jeongguk jested, rubbing the wetness in his eyes with his sleeve. Jimin’s lips quivered.

“‘S just... sad. Mama Coco r-remembers her dad.” Jimin mumbled.

“She does, she does,” Jeongguk replied as if he was talking to a toddler who needed reassurance that his favorite lollies would still be in the fridge the next day. Jeongguk rubbed his nose on Jimin’s cheeks making the omega purr. Jimin buried his face in the comfort that was Jeongguk’s chest.

͓

"So, are you gonna tell me anything or do you want to get in the ring first?" 

Jimin luckily had just swallowed the soup he was slurping or he would have it running from his nose like a dam. 

"What the hell Tae?" 

"You never tell me anything! I'm gonna have to fight you in the ring. If I win, you spill the tea." Taehyung wagered, throwing jabs at Jimin. 

"But I do," Jimin argued.

"No, you don't."

Jimin averted his eyes.

"See? Hah," Taehyung burst into laughter, smacking his hands onto the table catching the attention of some people in the cafeteria.

"Ugh, stop it. It's embarrassing." 

"Okay, get your gloves and get in the ring."

"Stop!" he giggled, eyes disappearing into beautiful crescents. 

"Hi, ahjumma!" Taehyung waved his hand enthusiastically at Mrs. Gong, a huge smile plastered on her face.

"How are you, kids? I brought you something for dessert." Mrs. Gong placed two small plates with chocolate brownies on them, grinning at them from ear to ear. She was wearing her uniform with a dark green apron on top of it, her hair was in a bun. She looked tired from all the work she had to do but she was energetic as always.

"Ah, I'm so full! Why did you only come now ahjumma!" Jimin whined, caressing his already bloated stomach but diving right into the brownies anyway. 

I'm so full!” Taehyung mimicked playfully.

“Tae! Can you not judge me for a minute?”

Taehyung and Mrs. Gong laughed. "Ahjumma 'ake a seat," Jimin said with a mouthful of sweets.

Mrs. Gong sat beside Taehyung, not before eyeing the place beside Jimin. "Where is Teacher Jeon?" she asked, a glint in her eyes.

"He went back to the faculty first, he had some stuff to submit today," Jimin explained, not taking his eyes away from what he was eating. And he wished he hadn't because when he did he saw Taehyung and Mrs. Gong with shit-eating grins. 

"What?" Jimin blinked at them.

The other two just shook their heads.

"How long have you two been dating?" Mrs. Gong asked with that same caring motherly gaze. Jimin knew she didn't mean to pry, but it caught him off guard. 

"I swear to God if you even dare to deny it-" Taehyung balled his fists and squealed

"I-"

"Excuse you but you literally reek of orange !" Taehyung said indignantly, rolling his eyes.

Mrs. Gong laughed. "Cut him some slack."

Jimin bit his lips, stabbing the brownies with his chopstick.

"Thirty-four days, and one night," he admitted sheepishly.

"Wow! He even has the exact days," Taehyung cackled.

Mrs. Gong and Taehyung laughed and clapped their hands as if they were overexcited seals. Jimin couldn't help the smile that spread across his reddened face. 

They continued teasing him for a while and Jimin just let them, laughing along and enjoying the rare moment he got to spend with them. With the school year only a few months from ending, they had gotten even busier.

"Jeongguk takes good care of you." Mrs. Gong stated, more serious this time. 

"He does, yes." Warmth spread through Jimin's chest to his stomach, waking up the dinosaurs that seemed to have taken residence there lately.

"I know you do too." 

͓

Jimin always had these weird cravings, and he wouldn't be at peace if he didn't get them and today he had suddenly craved beef barbeque. Jimin told Jeongguk so, he told Jeongguk a lot, and since it was a Saturday and their work ended early, Jeongguk suggested they should get some beef at Doma. 

Although they could order take out, Jimin knew Doma had the best beef, his mouth watered at the thought of the delicious meat touching his tongue, his stomach churning at having to be at a crowded place, Jimin nodded. 

One step at a time.

 

This Korean barbeque restaurant was an urban hidden gem. Well known by locals and enjoyed by everyone with the relaxed atmosphere surrounded by rustic homey touches but still cool enough to bring in new customers with the exposed pipes and chrome accents. It helped that they had the best beef in Seoul. The people came for the food but stayed because it made them cool and at home at the same time. Hard to pass that up in the big city.

It was a really well-known place so it only made sense that it was a little bit too crowded for Jimin's liking. The waiter took their orders, plastering his customer service smile. Jimin got himself True Rib Meet, that the restaurant had tried so hard to make a pun out of, while Jeongguk ordered Bottom Sirloin Triangle. 

He almost puked way too many times because the mix of scents was extremely overwhelming, especially when he'd smell flowers he could still feel the bile rising up his throat. Most of the time he wanted to just run away and hide, but he'd look at Jeongguk and realize he had so many reasons to keep trying. He was getting better, gradually, but there were progress and Jimin was happy about it. 

"I'm proud of you, you know," Jeongguk said while waiting for their food to arrive. They were seated at the far corner where there weren't too many people so Jimin wouldn't get too overwhelmed. 

"For what?" Jimin frowned, his plush lips jutting out. 

"For being so brave." Jeongguk extended his hand and reached for Jimin's hand on top of the table, caressing Jimin’s hand which was muscle memory more than anything.

"But I-I'm not." 

"Yes, you are. Look at you, going out— going to crowded places without your beloved scent blockers, and you're doing just fine. You're trying new things— doing things I know that scare you, but you're doing so well." Jeongguk smiled, lacing their fingers together, not failing to notice how tiny Jimin's hand was. “I’m proud of you, chicky.”

Jimin couldn’t help the smile that made his eyes disappear into beautiful half-moons, squeezing Jeongguk’s hand. Jimin had wanted to say something, maybe chide Jeongguk for being a damn poet, but when he opened his goddamn mouth, his lips trembled and tears slid down his eyes. 

Fuck.

Alarmed, Jeongguk sprang up and rushed to Jimin’s side, wrapping his hand on Jimin’s waist while using the other one to thumb away on the tears on the omega’s face.

“What’s wrong? Hm?”

“‘Cos you’re so sappy!” Jimin sniffled, biting Jeongguk’s index finger when he touched his pouty lips and called it a beak. Jeongguk squawked.

“I was telling the truth. You need to know how well you’re doing because you refuse to acknowledge it. Give yourself some credit.” 

“Y-you’re still a sap.” Jimin’s voice cracked. 

“Okay, you win, I’m a sap,” Jeongguk admitted, stroking Jimin’s side. Jimin rested his head on the alpha’s shoulder. 

Crying in public was not something Jimin would ever wish to do, but he didn’t have enough strength to help himself. He was overwhelmed with the various emotions making home inside Jimin without his permission, but they made Jimin stay in his place more than making him get up and run away from everything. It was the kind that made him sing with the birds at dawn while waiting for the sun to blossom on the skyline and warm his skin. It was the kind that made him want to live.

The food arrived later than expected, but it was worth it. Jimin’s mind was blown away by savory and lusciousness. Jimin was bad at handling hot food but for the first time, he didn’t care that it would burn his mouth. He dived right into it, he practically inhaled the food. Jimin enjoyed the food so much that he forgot about table manners, his mouth a mess. He wouldn’t have known if Jeongguk didn’t laugh and told him. Jimin didn’t have much time to be embarrassed when Jeongguk leaned forward and gently dabbed the tissue on his mouth to clean the mess. 

Jimin was entranced at the tenderness in the alpha's action, and at the way his eyes crinkled when he smiled and dimples appeared on cheeks. Jimin was still staring by the time Jeongguk leaned away.

"Eat slowly, the food won’t run." Jeongguk laughed.

"O-okay." 



Their stomachs were so full after finishing their meal. No leftovers at all. They loved the food, probably way too much if the way the button of Jimin's pants was about to pop out was any indication. They stayed for a while, waiting for the food to go down while they talked about everything under the sun.

"Do you still visit Busan?" Jimin asked. 

"Yes," Jeongguk replied, sipping on his drink.

"How often?" 

"Yearly. To pay a visit to him. Sometimes to see my parents, but they're always out camping or traveling. They love camping. I told them they should just sell the house and just live in a van since they love traveling and camping much." Jeongguk laughed airily, scratching his nose cutely. 

"That's so cool! My parents are so boring. I think my dad reads newspapers all day, and my mom cleans the house way more than she has to." Jimin missed his parents. "Do you want to go to Busan this year? With uh, me?" Jimin asked hesitantly, gnawing on his plump bottom lip.

The absence of Jeongguk's word made the omega anxious that he'd crossed a line. 

"I—"

"Okay, I'd love that." 

Jimin was brimming with happiness when Jeongguk dropped him off, skipping as Jeongguk walked him to his door. The bite of the cold wind made Jimin shiver but he was enveloped by a warmth that was Jeongguk. 

"Thank you for today!" Jimin grinned, looking up at the alpha beside him.

Jeongguk kissed his forehead in lieu of an answer. Jimin blushed furiously, hiding behind his palms. Jeongguk laughed, enjoying making Jimin squirm way too much.

Why was he palpitating? Did he drink too much coffee— he didn't drink coffee today. It must've been the stupid beef.

When they reached Jimin's door, Jeongguk said his usual "see you later". Jimin, feeling exceptionally clingy, waddled to the alpha to wrap his hands around him for a hug, resting his head on Jeongguk's chest. Jeongguk kissed the crown of his head, smiling. 

"Thank you Jeongguk," Jimin said, cheeks squished on Jeongguk's sturdy chest. 

"What are you thanking me for, chicky?" Jeongguk asked, playing with the hairs on Jimin's nape.

For being patient with me.

For accepting my flaws.

For sticking with me.

For never losing hope in me.

For making me happy.

"For everything." Jimin pulled Jeongguk closer, standing on his tiptoe to nuzzle the alpha's neck. Jeongguk tensed at the sudden show of intimacy but he calmed down just as fast, cradling Jimin's head and nuzzling back.

The gesture was so intimate that they were both red in the face when they pulled away. 

"Don't get all shy on me now." Jimin teased albeit being just as affected, if not more. Jeongguk ruffled his blonde hair, fondness swimming in his eyes.

Jimin turned the doorknob, waving at Jeongguk enthusiastically. "Bye Jeongguk!" 

Jeongguk's face drained of all colors.  

Bye Jeongguk.

Bye.

I've never hated that word more.

Realization of what he just said dawned on Jimin a bit slowly. He was too caught in his happiness he forgot about everything else. Jimin didn't mind his forgetfulness that much but right now it fucked things up. Jeongguk was shaking, eyes wide. He let go of the knob and rushed to embrace Jeongguk.

"Hey, I'm sorry. I-I'm here." Jimin cupped Jeongguk's face, hearing his heart shatter when he saw Jeongguk's unfocused eyes glistening with tears. 

"Baby, I'm here. I'm sorry. I'm here. I won't go." Jimin caressed Jeongguk's face gently, running his fingers from the alpha's eyebrow to his jaw. "I'm here, alpha." 

Slowly, Jeongguk surfaced back to reality, meeting Jimin's eyes. Jeongguk lifted his hands and placed them on each side of Jimin's face. Jeongguk's hands were trembling, they were sweaty and cold. 

"I'm sorry. I'm here… here." Jimin promised, watching as a tear fell down Jeongguk's face. 

Jimin had encountered the well kept hidden part of Jeongguk for the very first time, vulnerable… and scared. The alpha always stood strong among everyone. Jeongguk, who had a smile plastered in the toughest circumstances, confidence laced in his fingertips, like he knew the solution to every problem, was choosing to show a side of him to Jimin, and Jimin was flabbergasted. 

Perhaps, Jimin had been too selfish. He had forgotten that Jeongguk was fighting with his own demons too and that perhaps Jeongguk was standing up as happy but one could be happy and still have fears. There could be times where they want to cower and hide from the cruel world.

"I'm sorry, alpha. I'm here, won't leave you. Never." Jimin nuzzled Jeongguk's cheek, hoping to calm the alpha down. Jeongguk pressed their foreheads together, his eyes were shut. 

Jimin slowly grazed his lips from Jeongguk’s soft eyelid and dared to travel south to gently kiss his cheeks. Jimin shifted on his heels to make sure Jeongguk wanted it too and took in the sight of Jeongguk's eyes fluttering open, a mix of confusion and delight evident on his features. Jimin leaned in again, their lips meeting halfway. The sensation was entirely foreign to Jimin, but damn him if he didn’t want the warmth spreading through every inch of him as they got closer to feeling each other. He didn't know what had gotten into him, but right now he just wanted to give himself to Jeongguk. Jeongguk cupped Jimin's face, and Jimin wound his arms around the alpha's neck, their foreheads touching. The brushing of their lips was sweet and innocent and it conveyed passion words could never have.

 

It was enough to return the various shades of bright colors in Jimin’s life, convincing enough for him to get rid of the last piece of his painful past from the back of his door. 

*

Children were very complicated beings. One moment they were laughing together and getting along so well and the next they were throwing punches, pulling at each other's hair. Fights were inevitable in school. Throughout his teaching career, Jimin had lost count of how many times his students had fought and had to break them apart, lecture them, and then call their parents.

But they never get less draining.

"What's wrong with you guys? Did I not tell you not to fight? We're family here, remember?" Jimin was stressed, sweat was running down his temples. 

Jimin was at the infirmary standing in front of two of his students whose faces were bandaged up. He had asked the staff to give them a few minutes so they were by themselves. Jimin had aged 10 years in the past hour.

"Don't be rude Hanbin. I'm trying to understand you both." Jimin scolded when Hanbin snorted. "Now would you explain why the hell you fought?" 

Jimin expected Kira to talk first since he had always been easy to talk to, easier than Hanbin at least, but he kept his mouth shut. Jimin looked to Hanbin, expecting, waiting for anything, sighing when there was nothing. 

"Okay, don't tell me then." Jimin scoffed, losing his patience. Reverse psychology always worked. 

"Hanbin called me a freak for having two omega parents," Kira confessed, his hands balled into fists. 

Jimin's eyes widened in shock. "What? Why did you say that Hanbin?" 

"Because it's true," he said, but the way his voice wavered made it seem like even he wasn't convinced.

"You shouldn't have said that. That is not true, and it isn't acceptable in any way." Jimin's voice was higher than usual. 

"My parents told me that an omega should only be with an alpha. Anything else is wrong." Hanbin stated.

Jimin watched the way Hanbin picked on his nails, saw the tears that raced down Kira's face. Jimin sighed, his heart breaking for his students.

"I know we have different perspectives. Our beliefs might not overlap, and that’s okay. We are all different for a reason, I know.” 

Jimin surged forward by an inch, making Hanbin look up and meet his eyes. He should see Jimin when he says the next thing that he would pin it to Hanbin’s head. 

“That doesn't mean you can just— say things like that. You have to be considerate of other people's feelings. Words aren't just words. They affect people — they can hurt and damage people. Next time you say something, think about it first. Besides, the school year’s almost ending. I don’t want you guys fighting and holding grudges against each other, not now, not ever.”

Kira and Hanbin didn’t say anything after that, not even move. Their heads were hung down as if they were too heavy to lift. Jimin didn’t push them for it wouldn’t do any of them good. Most of the time, the scolding students receive from their teachers went to one ear and out the other, but it was still important to let them know what they did was unacceptable and that they were responsible for every action they choose to make.

 

Jimin cuddled with Jeongguk for hours after that.

͓

Today was exceptionally draining for everyone in the school, especially the teachers. Everyone had gotten a good amount of scolding from the school director for one teacher’s mishaps. Give it to Teacher Nam to pull everyone down with her.

Nam didn’t really get along well with the other teachers. She’d befriend some of them, act like she loved their company, only to talk shit behind their backs. She liked to meddle with other people’s lives and spread rumors about them, which Jimin experienced first hand. She was only good with people from whom she could benefit but even then, no one ever lasted with her. Jimin never thought too deeply about it. He was aware that these kinds of people, unfortunately… exist. 

Everyone thought Nam couldn’t get any worse, but today she proved everyone wrong.

The school director had called all the faculty stuff in the middle of the first-afternoon class. To say that everyone was confused was an understatement. They entered the conference room to see Nam already there, sitting in front of the fuming director with tears trekking down her flushed face. 

When they were seated, the school director broke it to them that Nam had beaten a child to the point that the poor kid bled. Everyone gasped in shock before boiling into anger. Jimin was all but seething. Jeongguk, who was seated beside him had to blatantly scent Jimin or he’d had claw at Nam’s fucking face.

Their school might be poor and old, but they cared and prioritized their students’ health and well-being more than anything else and Nam’s actions crossed so many fucking lines. Nam was humiliated in front of everyone which was so unlike the school director, but it wasn’t only Jimin but rather all the faculty knew that the bitch deserved it. She was crying all the while and Jimin just wanted to fucking rip her face off, but Jeongguk’s hold on him anchored him. 

In the end, Nam was fired and the director had said she’d file a report to the Division’s Office so they could have Nam blacklisted. The director put a warning to keep everyone from pulling shit like Nam, and after a few more minutes, they were dismissed.

As soon as they were out of the suffocating conference room, he hugged Jeongguk from behind, burying his nose on his back, relishing in the alpha's calming scent.

͓

Jimin had just wanted to dive into his bed and hide behind his duvet and sleep the tiring day off, but just as he was about to turn the lights off, his doorbell rang. Jimin blanched when he saw his father, mom, and sister on the intercom. The first thing he could think of was how did they know about his residence? But then he recalled that he had always lived there. 

He had planned to visit his family when he and Jeongguk would go to Busan for Christmas break. 

Things don't always go as planned.

Jimin had let them in. 

"What's gotten you here so late?" he asked while drying his hair with a towel.

"Is that how you greet your family now?" Jimin's father jested, enveloping him in a hug as if things didn't fall apart, as if they hadn't seen each other in years. Nevertheless, he still hugged him back, his throat suddenly dry. Bongcha rushed to hug him too as soon as his father let him go, smile about to rip her youthful face. When he wrapped his arms around though he noticed that her hair was longer, reaching her waist. She had always kept it shoulder length. 

"Your hair's longer," Jimin said when they pulled apart. 

"Yeah, I'm still hot though," she tucked her hair in her ears. As confident as ever.

Jimin laughed. "What changed?"

"Everything," Bongcha replied, flipping her hair and walking past Jimin to follow his dad who had started wandering the house. 

Jimin bowed down to his mom and managed a small smile because he had assumed his mom wouldn't want anything from him anyway. Jimin was about to turn around when his mom caught his wrist and pulled him into a hug. Jimin didn't believe that time could stop, but at that moment it did.

Jimin didn’t know how to save himself from an unpredictable situation, so he looked for his family to lead wherever they wanted to go. 

 

They ordered online for kimchi and some stew. Jimin had run out of stock last week, if he knew they would arrive today he would've gone to the market to get some groceries and restock.

"What brought you here?" Jimin broke the silence, chewing on a dumpling.

"Are we not allowed to visit you now?" Bongcha rolled her eyes playfully. 

You never did.

"That's not what I meant." 

After that, it was quiet again. Jimin took that time to look at the three of them. His parents were still the same, if not older. A lot could change in four years. His mom's hair was shorter, a pixie cut that Jimin thought was popular with the elders these days. Easier to manage. Jimin never thought she'd go for that look but it suited her because his mom was beautiful. His dad on the other hand still had the same taper fade and slicked-back hair, but it had turned all gray, a prominent sign of his age, but he never lost his charm. Bongcha's now long hair had bangs too, and it's red, a contrast to her natural jet black hair.

"Why is your house so messy, Jimin? And your pantry is empty. Do you even eat? What do you do?" There was the tone that Jimin hated the most that his mom so often used on him. The tone that made Jimin feel so small.

"I've been busy with work, but don't worry, I'll get to cleaning and shopping as soon as I have time—"

She scoffed. “You’re so busy that you can’t even find time to visit your family? You can’t even care enough to come to your mother’s birthday huh?”

“Mom—”

"But you have time to flirt, don't you?"

Jimin's father cleared his throat, a clear warning for them to stop. Jimin's stomach was twisted into knots, and he could feel the bile rising in his throat. He clenched his jaw, dropping his utensils on his untouched plate of food. 

"I'm old enough to do what I want to do,” Jimin said, trying to be as polite and calm as he could. ”Besides, I know what I'm doing. I’m not the child you think I am."

"You said that before, but what happened? You're divorced now, aren't you?" 

"Shinyoung." Jimin's dad slapped his palms on the table. “Can we please, for once, eat in peace like a normal family?”

"Haven't you learned your lessons yet? That alpha will leave you too.” Jimin's mom was not yet done. Jimin’s mom had gotten tired of him but not at berating him. “You may think he's different, that he's the one,  but he's not. Get that through your thick head Jimin!" 

Everything was still the same. The same faces, same situations. Jimin's mom tearing a strip off him, his dad intervening but not enough to make it stop, and his sister just staring at them all, brave enough to say something but didn’t care enough to do so. 

Nothing changed, except Jimin was not the same Jimin he was before. He wasn't the scared praise-hungry omega he was before, always wanting to be the perfect son, wanting to get the approval he so badly craved from his parents, always at their every beck and calls.

"Leave him, Jimin. You know what I'm saying is only the truth! No one would take an omega like you seriously. This is for your own sake. Why can't you just be like your sister?" She screamed, and the lines on her forehead deep from the way she frowned.

Amidst the shakiness of his hands and the blur of his tears, Jimin spoke up.  

"No.”

Every pair of eyes turned in his direction.

“You don't know anything, mom. Do y-you even know me?”

Jimin waited for a beat to watch his mother change her expression from the disrespect he was about to throw. 

“This is what you're good at, tearing me down, making sure I know that I will never be good enough. Honestly, you did a pretty good job at that, mom. Do you know why I don't come home anymore? Because I don’t want to see you. I don’t want to see my own family.” 

“I don’t have time for this Park Jimin-” her mom yelled but Jimin cut her off without a care.

“I feel so… unloved, so unaccepted like I don’t belong. I-I grew up thinking that maybe the reason why you bought Bongcha more toys was that she was better than me at school, always making you proud with her achievements while I only give you trouble. Maybe the reason why you always bought Bongcha new stuff and gave me her old ones was because we didn't have much money, not because she was your favorite.”

"I thought that maybe the reason why you never read me bedtime stories was because you were too tired because Bongcha took too long to fall asleep. That maybe the reason why you always sided with her when we'd get into a petty fight was because it was always my fault, not because you loved h-her more." Jimin sniffled, gripping the fabric of his sweats until his knuckles turned white. "That— that maybe you only combed her hair because she's a girl and I'm not. You always let her do whatever she wants, gave her whatever she wanted in an instant while I had to get perfect scores.”

“That’s not true,” his mom said through gritted teeth.

“It is mom. You know it is.” Jimin sobbed.

“Jimin—”

"I thought maybe if I stopped giving you trouble and started getting good grades then you'll pat my head or rub my back too,” Jimin said after a moment of silence, averting the subject. 

“I thought if I did whatever Bongcha was doing then, you'd love me too. But you didn't. Y-you stayed the same. Always had a soft spot for Bongcha while I had it rough. And when I married him, you never hated me more. You made sure I- we- had it clear. When you found out I was infertile, you said I was good as—as... dead. I was useless to you, can't even give you what you want, can’t even give my mate a family. Did— d-did y-you know how much that hurt m-me mom? It would've hurt less if you just… killed me then.”

Jimin stared and stared at his mom dead straight in her eyes, needing an answer more than ever. For once, he would like her to utter the words ‘that’s not true’, but maybe he had his hopes too high in the sky. 

"I've always wondered… you're my mom, so w-why can't I run to you when my heart h-hurts? Because you were the very first person who broke it, mom." Jimin sobbed. "Do you— do you know how happy I was when you'd bake me cinnamon rolls?" he laughed, more tears spilling from his eyes. "I was so happy sometimes I couldn't even sleep. I'd even hug the rolls you made me to sleep 'cos, wow, maybe mom loves me. S-she knows… she knows m-my favorite food.”

Jimin thought he heard his mother say that she loved him because he was her son, but was that even possible? For his mom to love him?

"It's okay, I had dad. He bought me toys, patted my back when I cried, kissed my forehead when I was upset, brought me to parks when I wouldn't stop sulking, sang me to sleep. Even though sometimes he would make me cry, he was always there for me. He made sure I knew how much he loved me and how he cared for me. B-but I w-wanted you to love— l-love me too, mom." 

"Jimin, everything I did- it was all out of love." Jimin's mom croaked out, her face was red from being rubbed raw. Jimin just listened.

With trembling hands, Jimin wiped his tears with the back of his hands. He looked up to see his mom's face wet with tears, the disapproving frown from her face was gone, replaced with sadness. Bongcha was crying too, her eyes as red as her lipstick. Jimin's dad on the other had his head hanging down. The room reeked of shame, sadness, and guilt.

"Jimin… I'm sorry…" Bongcha cried, her makeup running down her face. 

"I used to be so jealous of you. You're beautiful, strong, smart. You're independent, you've always known what you wanted in life. Most of all, you have mom's love. Do you remember when dad bought me a new coloring book? But because you liked it so much you cried the whole day so I was… forced to give it up for you… because mom said I should know how to give. So I did, but when it was me who wanted to borrow your new 64 crayon set m-mom she- told me that I shouldn’t be too greedy.” Jimin laughed amidst his tears. “And y-you're— fertile. I was so mad at you… because why couldn't it be me? I'd be a better omega, I would appreciate it more than you’ll ever do.” 

“I’m so sorry… my baby brother…” 

“I hated you— I think I know that now, and I know you hate me too. Someone told me it must be nice to have a sister to look out for me, but you didn’t. You always called me dumb whenever I got low marks or when I couldn’t find the stuff you asked me to look for. You still call me dumb even if you’re joking, and because you called me that like— every day, I believed it too. You always yelled at me, got mad at me for no reason so I was always afraid of making a mistake. I- thought you’re like mom, you’re just like mom. So when you suddenly became so… nice I couldn’t accept it. Maybe you pitied me too.” 

“I- I don’t hate you. You’re my baby brother and I never say it and I know I’ve been the worst sister ever, but believe me when I say I love y-you.” 

 Jimin looked up to her with pure surprise adorning his features for the first time. Bongcha went on. 

“I love you so much. I’m so sorry I was so harsh on you… you’re not dumb- you’re not. I took care of you the only way I knew how to. I’m sorry.” 

Bongcha looked into Jimin’s eyes, adding more weight to her words. 

“You know how some people treat omegas sometimes and I didn’t want anyone to hurt you or degrade you in any way, b-but it was me who did all that. I’m so sorry…” Bongcha hiccupped. “I regret everything. I regret all the things I did every time. I wish we can still be young so I can coddle you like you deserve, bring cinnamon rolls from your favorite bakery like you asked me every time I’d go out, but I never did— I’m so h-h-horrible. I’m sorry.” 

“It’s okay, I- I forgive you. I don't feel that way anymore." Jimin meant it.

Jimin knew his sister cared for him in her own way. Just like how she gave Jimin her 64 crayon set, saying she didn’t want them anymore which Jimin knew wasn’t true because Bongcha was a hoarder. Or how she would sneak into Jimin’s room to kiss his cheeks or forehead when she thought Jimin was asleep when in fact his eyes were just closed because he couldn’t sleep. Jimin knew his sister loved him, but it was easier to believe otherwise before.

Bongcha sobbed, reaching for Jimin’s hands across the table and squeezing them.

"Jeongguk- he-" Jimin hiccupped, digging the heels of palms on his eyes, a stupid attempt to stop the tears from spilling. "I was heartbroken because my mate cheated on me, thinking I wasn't worthy enough, can't give him pups, so I ran away and divorced him. I was broken- I didn't really feel or see what was going on around me, I just—let it all happen, moving from day to day without trying to live day to day. I had no one- the few friends I had got tired of me because no matter what they said, I was just getting worse. They got tired of me. Who wouldn't, right? You, my own family, weren't there for me. I thought, if this is what growing up is, I don’t want it

"I was lost for so long…but Jeongguk, I don't know how but he stuck with me no matter how hard I was on him, no matter how many times I pushed him away— he always came back to me. He would bring me cinnamon rolls every day, remind me that I’m amazing just the w-way I am. Without me realizing it, I- I started to live again… I'm far from being whole, but I've become a little less broken, and I… I want to love again. I- I want to live again. Jeongguk accepts me, loves me with all my flaws. He loves me.”

Jimin got up, stiffening everyone’s breath. “And I'm not letting any of you take that away from me. I'm not going to let any of you break down the me I tried so hard to build.”

"M-mom," Jimin looked at her, then, "dad," and then, "Bongcha. I- I'm happy. I'm so h-happy… so happy. I love Jeongguk. I l-love him." 

Jimin went his whole life thinking he didn't deserve to be loved for one reason or another. Either he wasn't good enough, or he was lacking in some way. He only knew of the type of love that came from others, so Jimin loved in the only way he knew to be right. However, the love he knew was the love that destroyed and took everything away from him. His love ruined relationships that had lost him the people he wanted to keep forever, and worse of all, it ruined himself. 

He didn't understand that love could come from himself. He had no idea that that kind of love was the strongest of them all. It took him some time, but now he knew, loving himself was the best love he could give.

“I love you son. I’m sorry I never stepped in, I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you but I’ll be with you starting from here.” Jimin’s dad promised, and Jimin didn’t know when but his dad was cradling his head against his chest. 

"Jimin, everything I did- it was all out of love." Jimin's mom croaked out, her face was flushed from rubbing her tears dry. “I’m sorry that my love has caused you all this pain. Mom has hurt you so much, hasn't she? I was selfish, for the longest time I thought all the things that I was doing were for your own sake but n-no, I only thought of myself, and mom is so sorry. I just wanted the best for you. I wanted you to be independent and to grow up to be strong and confident like your sister, but instead I became the worst for you. My love wasn’t enough, my love wasn’t always right. I will understand if you don’t want to have anything to do with me, but I- I want to make things right.” 

Jimin let his head fall on his palms, his body shaking with the force of his sobs. Jimin didn't know when but at one moment he felt himself being enveloped in warm hugs. He could crave the new sensations of the old feelings that were so carefully engraved in his mind when his parents and sister hugged him like he was the most precious human being in their lives. He was feeling the way he did all those years back, and he wanted to bask in the feeling without caring how long they would be valid. 

The next morning, he was greeted with a smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls. The sweet scent mingling with the late dawn breeze invited the warmth of golden rays poured through the gaps of window curtains. For the first time in so long, the emerging sun was smiling instead of mocking him in his face.  

͓

Damp and sharp cold December wind pierced through Jimin’s lungs when he inhaled deeply while standing on the sidewalk. Just in a few blinks, the same wind that carried the strong heat to burn everyone’s skin had calmed down and changed into something from swaying the yellow leaves with the flow to stabbing the cold in everyone’s flesh. 

Busan should be as white as a majestic land surrounded by glaciers, Jimin wondered.  

Even though they had two perfectly functioning cars and it would be easier to use them especially during a time like December, they decided to ride the KTX just to re-live the cold nostalgia.  

"I missed this," Jimin said, just enough for Jeongguk to hear. Jimin's head was resting on Jeongguk's shoulder, his lips curled upwards. 

"Me too.”

 

Jimin was like a teenager again with this Meeting His Parents For The First Time feeling, not an omega in his 30's. Jeongguk and he were in front of the alpha's family house, Jeongguk had just rung the bell. They were waiting for an answer. Jeongguk said his parents were probably asleep since it was already 7 p.m., Jimin supposed it was true what they said; as one grew older, they regressed back to being children. Because, who slept that early, really? 

He couldn’t help the way his stomach churned, he didn’t want to ruin this. But who would want a divorced and infertile omega for their son, right? 

"Stop being so nervous, chicky." The alpha probably noticed the way his scent had turned sour. “Who wouldn't adore you?" Jeongguk pressed the tip of his nose against Jimin's, the omega's eyes fluttering, a bubble of laughter escaping his lips. 

"Thank you," Jimin nuzzled back. Before Jimin could pull away from Jeongguk, the door swung open revealing two people who were wearing matching pajamas. Jimin was certain they were Jeongguk’s parents. 

Jimin was frozen on his spot, desperately trying to pull his hand away from Jeongguk’s hand to no avail. Jeongguk’s parents had probably seen Jimin smooching their son, and now their eyes were fixed on their hands.

“Calm down baby.” Jeongguk was amused, while Jimin was about to flip the fuck out. Jeongguk’s parents told them to come in, so they did.

The hanok was a place of subtle beauty and serenity. This traditional Korean house brings the outside in with the open concept kitchen and dining that opens to the courtyard and patio outside. Successfully allowing its human residents to coexist peacefully with the simplicity, beauty, and spirit of nature 

“Oh. Oh. Is he your baby?” Jeongguk’s mom chirped, realization hitting her belatedly. The alpha nodded in lieu of an answer, and his mom slapped his son’s hand away on Jimin’s waist and immediately pulled Jimin for a hug. Jimin hugged her back albeit stiffly.

“Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Park Jimin and I- uh, I like your pajamas.” Jimin greeted The Parents after The Hug, sinking his teeth on his bottom lip when it dawned on him how inappropriate it sounded. Jeongguk’s parents however just laughed. Jeongguk pulled him by the waist in assurance. 

“What a beautiful omega you are! Did my son force you to date him?” Jeongguk’s mother said playfully, brushing Jimin’s bangs back like he was her own son.

“Ma!”

Facing them straight, there was no doubt they were Jeongguk’s parents. Jeongguk got his youthfulness and the big doe eyes from his mother while the prominent nose was from his father. Jimin was astonished. They looked like they haven't aged a day over 30.

“N-no I- I like Jeongguk.” Jimin blurted. 

“He’s nervous.” Jeongguk giggled.

“Don’t be nervous, little one. You’re in good hands.” Jeongguk’s dad said good-naturedly, tapping on Jimin’s shoulder. “I’ll take your bags to your room.” Jeongguk’s dad offered since their bodies were both too exhausted from the long ride to refuse.

“Thanks, Pa.”

“I’m sorry if we woke you up,” Jimin said.

“It’s fine! Don’t fret over it. Jeongguk told us in advance that you’d be coming,” Mrs. Jeon said. “Should I cook for you? You both must be hungry.”

“No, Ma. Jimin can’t eat when he’s tired. We’ll eat in the morning.” Jeongguk informed. Jimin grabbed Jeongguk’s hand, trying to be subtle when he mouthed: “what about you?” Jeongguk shook his head. Apparently, they weren’t as subtle as Jimin thought because Jeongguk’s mom was smiling at them.

“Sweet young love.” She said, petting both of their heads. “I remember when it was me and Jeongguk’s dad. We—”

“Ma! Don’t! Just don’t!” Jeongguk looked like he wanted to evacuate to another planet while his mom, however, seemed pleased with his reaction.

She clamped her mouth shut, rolling her eyes at her son before saying, “We’ll be out early for a camp tomorrow with our organization. Don’t know when we’ll be back but your Pa just restocked the fridge yesterday, so you can cook whatever you want. I’ll go to bed!”

“Ma, no good night kiss?” Jeongguk pouted, Jimin’s eyes widened. 

What a baby!

“You’re too old for that, you punk." Jeongguk’s mom slapped the pout off Jeongguk’s lips. "Why don't you ask your dad?” She snickered.

“Ew! Dad doesn’t brush his teeth anymore,” Jeongguk groaned. Jimin was biting down on his lips, trying so hard to suppress a laugh.

“Jeon Junior I can hear you,” his dad screamed from the other room, his voice muffled but clear. 

“Ask Jimin for a kiss, plus you have the house all to yourselves, so do whatever you want.” She smiled suggestively, slapping their backs. “Good night pups.”

And with that she was gone, leaving Jimin speechless while Jeongguk cackled.

All of Jimin’s worries flew out of the window. At the end of the day, they carried that comfort inside to the beautiful low platform bed that overlooks the garden.

͓

As Jimin woke from his slumber, the first thing he noticed was the chilliness of the December air, and the familiar sweet scent of orange. The rays of sunlight penetrated the window, illuminating his face. Jimin yawned, raising both of his arms and spreading his legs to stretch as if he was making a snow angel. Jimin didn't have it in him to open his eyes yet, instead of shutting them tightly, turning to his side to bury his face on the alpha's neck. 

"Tickles," Jeongguk laughed airily. Jimin slowly opened his left eye, peeking at him.

"Is my alpha awake?" 

"Morning chicky." Jeongguk booped their noses together, holding Jimin close by the hips. “Should we get up?”

"Five more minutes," Jimin whined, his eyes fluttering close. Jimin loved the cold weather so much, it meant him being able to sleep more easily and longer too. Hence why the five minutes turned into an hour. Jeongguk had to tickle him to get out of the bed. 

"Get up pretty." Jimin flushed at the nickname, face planting on Jeongguk's pillow. He would never get used to it. Jeongguk slapped his butt before going to the bathroom to wash.

Jimin opened the fridge to cook breakfast, and then he saw a note that made him smile so big. It read:

I hope you both woke up with a smile. Focus on yourselves. Be happy. Merry Christmas lovely pups! —Pa & Ma. 

True to their words, Jeongguk's parents were gone the next morning. Jimin had asked the alpha if they usually go out even during holidays, and Jeongguk said that they were out more frequently during holidays. They did go camping a lot.  

Jimin cooked kimchi fried rice and some dumplings for their lunch. He also made some meals, packed them in containers, and placed them inside the fridge for Jeongguk's parents. He saw that the fridge was fully stocked like what Jeongguk's mom had said, but other than that, it was mostly empty, save for what he had assumed were dietary supplements.

As Jimin was scooping a cup of kimchi fried rice, he felt a pair of arms wrap around his waist. "Are you going to camp too?" Jeongguk teased, referring to the ample amount of food on the kitchen countertop. 

"No, silly. This is for your parents. I didn't get to be with them for long, but they were so nice and welcoming, so I thought it'd be nice to cook something for them." Jimin said, placing some dumplings on his plate. Jeongguk was quiet for a moment and if it weren't for the firmly wrapped arms around him, he would've thought he had left. 

"Thank you, baby," Jeongguk breathed, pressing a soft kiss on the column of Jimin's neck. "We'll have more time in the future." 

*

They left the Jeon residence on the 23rd of December to pay Jeongguk's past mate a visit on his grave and then catch a train back to Seoul on the same day. 

This exact day was Jaeshin's third death anniversary. Jeongguk and Jimin took a cab to the memorial cemetery. Jimin's eyes were the only visible part of him because of his baby blue beanie, his face buried in his scarf, and his hands covered with mittens his mom knitted for them. It was freezing even inside the cab. Jimin loved the cold, but he was weak with it. Jeongguk, on the other hand, was wearing a black trench coat on top of his long sleeve top, a bouquet of chrysanthemum lying beside him.

Jimin reached out for Jeongguk's hand to lace their fingers and sulked when he remembered that he was wearing mittens. Jeongguk understood and cracked a smile, pressing a kiss on Jimin's forehead before inserting his fingers inside the mitten to try and twine their fingers.

"Better?" 

Jimin beamed, letting his head fall on Jeongguk's chest.  

The omega had expected Jeongguk to be in a somber mood, which of course would be totally understood but the alpha was just his usual self, if not reminiscent.  

Jimin initially had a lot of fears. Jaeshin was an incredible omega, that he knew from all the stories Jeongguk told him about. Jimin wasn't jealous, no. In fact, he was scared— scared that he couldn't give Jeongguk the love he deserved, that he couldn't be as good as Jaeshin was to Jeongguk. Because he wasn't Jaeshin. But Jeongguk had kicked those demons out before they could drag Jimin to hell. Jeongguk had constantly assured Jimin, telling him how lovely and lucky he was to have the omega in his life. 

But Jimin felt lucky, more than anything to have Jeongguk. To be able to experience the love that was Jeon Jeongguk. Jimin told Jeongguk every time he had the chance how important he was to his life and how much he had helped him get back on his feet. Jimin wasn't the best with emotions, but he wanted to be better for himself because then he could be good to everyone else around him.  

"What are you thinking so loud about?" Jeongguk asked, scratching Jimin's ticklish palms.

"You," he admitted shamelessly and Jeongguk's eyes widened, a blush creeping up on his cheeks. 

"That's my line." Jeongguk pouted.

"But you're mine." 

Jeongguk averted his eyes, looking at the window. Jimin could see him biting his lip to stop a grin, and Jimin threw his head back in laughter. Jeongguk couldn't take the taste of his own medicine. Hah.

 

They walked hand in hand to Jaeshin's grave. If Jimin noticed the way Jeongguk's hand trembled slightly, he didn't say anything.

Jeongguk squeezed Jimin's hand before letting go and clutching the flowers on both hands before placing them down on top of Jaeshin's tombstone. 

"Hi.” Jeongguk smiled, looking down. "I miss you every day. Do you miss me too? You're probably upset with me about a lot of stuff, I know I made a lot of crazy decisions the past few years." Jeongguk's voice was loud enough for Jimin to hear, and he felt bad for intruding such a private moment, so he stepped backward to give Jeongguk space, but the alpha caught his wrist, and held his hand. 

"I—"

"Stay here." 

"Okay."

"But I know you're proud of me too because finally, I made the best decision for once. And that is being with Jimin. You know him right? I told you about him a lot of times, you're probably so done with me. He takes care of me a lot, makes sure I eat in time, scolds me when I do stupid things, kisses me when I feel down, so please don't come for him in his sleep." Jeongguk managed to joke, Jimin choked out a watery laugh. "You don't have to worry too much about me now. I'm happy, I feel very content with what I have and where I am now, and I know you are too, that wherever you are right now I know you're smiling big at me, and wiping your tears because you're a cry baby." 

Jimin watched as a tear slid down Jeongguk's cheeks. He immediately stepped into the alpha's space, tiptoed and wrapped his arms around Jeongguk's shoulders, and pulled him closer. A hug so warm that even the winter cold couldn't break them. Jimin had no words to say but just being there was enough.

"You're the best thing that has ever happened to me." Jimin cupped Jeongguk’s face, tracing the tears that had dried on his face with his fingers. “I love you. I love you so much.” Jeongguk’s lip quivered, and Jimin watched as tears escaped Jeongguk’s eyes.

“I- I love you too.”

They said that the eyes were the windows to the soul, and Jeongguk’s brown eyes had always been the dreamy passage to the most beautiful soul Jimin had gotten to know, but right now, Jimin was convinced that nothing could ever top the beauty of them. Jimin could see through them, and he could see the love that was undoubtedly there.

 

Never in his wildest dreams did he ever think of going back to Busan, not after all the things that happened for this place that held so many memories that he didn't want to remember. But now being here, sitting inside the moving train, was like a trip down memory lane.

Jimin had lost a lot of things, people that turned into fading memories. Some memories could bring you the best of sorrows and some could bring you the best of joys. That's just how life is, and he learned how to just accept how things were. He learned from his mistakes and was working on becoming the best version of himself. Although a lot of bridges had been burnt down and he had parted ways with a lot of people, it made him realize a lot of things that he didn't know existed, and he was grateful for that. Because somehow, those memories were once a big part of his life, and it hurt to let them go, but he believed the universe had a better plan for him.

It was hard to believe that he was here, leaving the place with new and beautiful memories with his fingers interlocked with the person he had come to love.

͓

As much as Jimin wanted to delay it, the last day of the final semester came faster than he liked, but much to his delight, none of his students failed any of their classes, not even Junseok which meant that he was graduating and that was like the biggest reward that Jimin could get. When Jimin announced this to his class, most of his students, including Junseok and him, shed a tear. It wasn’t only Jimin but everyone had been helping Junseok since the very start, his classmates were kind enough to teach him what he had trouble understanding, and were very patient with him throughout everything. All their hard work had paid off, and they couldn’t be happier with the result.

The past couple of weeks, Jimin had been busy, but thankfully, he finished the last batch of mountains of exam papers. He had been busy marking papers and computing grades. One of the hardest things about being an advisory teacher of a graduating class was that he had to collect all of his 35 students’ requirements, such as their birth certificate, form 137, form 138, and certificate of good moral while the list just went on and on. The thing was most of the time the students just didn’t take his words seriously when he said their requirements should be complete or else. Jimin had a problem with a few of his students, and since it was his first time handling graduating students Jimin was heavily distressed. He was always reminded that he didn’t work very well under pressure, but he always found a way to solve problems with the help of his seniors. 

Jeongguk had been with him throughout the excruciating two weeks. They had been helping each other with whatever they could manage like how Jimin helped Jeongguk organize some papers while Jeongguk helped him print out report cards of students. It made things more bearable in a sense, seeing Jeongguk’s lashes fanning against his soft cheek while jotting something down when Jimin looked at him.

And now that everything had been done and there was nothing left but the moving up ceremony, and Jimin couldn’t help but feel emotional. This happened every year, but it was still the most painful part of being a teacher; saying goodbye and having to let go of students whom he had grown attached to and probably never see again. Although they were also the constant source of his headaches. He believed it was part of teaching and love for his students all the same. 

He was at the cafeteria drinking his smoothie alone. He was supposed to go with Jeongguk, but he ditched him saying the IT Department had called for him. Out of nowhere one of his students, Byun frantically called his name. Jimin got up almost immediately, concern washing over him. 

"What's wrong?" Jimin blanched, his smoothie long forgotten. Jimin groaned inwardly, what could his students possibly have gotten themselves into this time?

“Jungkyung and Yeonsa—she—they are fighting!” Byun sputtered.

“What?!” Jimin almost yelped. “Where?” he squeezed the bridge of his nose, his head already pounding.

“C-classroom.”

Jimin marched to their second-floor classroom, eyebrows raised. What if someone was bleeding? Jimin screamed blasphemy in his head. His students will be the death of him. 

Jimin thought he heard Byun chuckle, but maybe that was just his imagination, so he ignored it. By the time they reached the room, all the curtains were drawn, the doors were closed, and everything was... quiet. Weird, since it should be all chaos and annihilation.

“Are you sure they’re...here?” Jimin questioned, perplexed.

“Yes, teacher, come inside.” 

He slowly opened the door and his instincts were correct. There was no fight (Jimin couldn’t believe he fell for it. After all these years of teaching, he believed he had memorized the students' antics but guess not), but thirty of his students are compressed together, some holding colorful banners, some holding heart-shaped balloons of pastel color and some were just...there, grinning at him. 

“Surprise!” 

They cheered in unison with big smiles on their goofy faces. Jimin was speechless. He looked around the room only to see that all corners of the room had been decorated. A We Will Miss You Teacher Park was scribbled in a cute font in all caps on the banners. There was also a table full of different types of food that Jimin could have mistaken for a Christmas party. And in the middle was Jeon Jeongguk with his bunny-like grin. Jeongguk waved at Jimin enthusiastically, and Jimin narrowed his eyes at him, bursting into giggles soon after.

Taking it all in, Jimin darted his teary eyes between the students who were wearing smiles. Jimin wanted to memorize their faces, for this might be the last time he’d ever see them. He wanted to thank them and say that he was so happy and that he really really appreciated the gesture, but things don't always go according to plan.

“Whose plan was it?” The words came out harder than Jimin would have liked, he blamed himself. He was trying to hold the tears back. His students fell silent, the joy on their faces replaced by horror. Jimin laughed, "fools," before he burst into tears. He quickly covered his face with his small hands, embarrassment gnawing at him. Jeongguk was on his side in a flash, stroking his blonde hair.

Jimin heard his students cooing at the same time before they hugged him, and cried harder. He didn't want to cry today, he said he wouldn’t but here he was. Jimin was moved by the gesture. It was so kind and thoughtful of his students, he didn’t think he deserved it but he was grateful nonetheless. It was not the first time it had happened because when a teacher was appreciated by their students, nice stuff was always a bonus in their career. Students could be as stubborn as hell, but they were just as loving. Their thoughtfulness touched something soft inside his heart and pushed him beyond his hindering horizon. 

After his humiliating breakdown, Jimin finally thanked his students and hugged them one by one. Everyone cracked up when they saw Jeongguk at the very end of the line, waiting for a hug with his arms wide open. Jimin slapped his arms and hugged him when he sulked and his silly students fucking squealed. Jimin was overflowing with love. 

Jimin wiped away his tears and joined them to eat the food his students had prepared for this little celebration. “You are all so dramatic." Jimin sniffed and rolled his eyes while he chewed on a cupcake one of his students baked. That thought alone made him want to cry but he held back. 

“Says the one who cried.”

“Hey!” Jimin feigned offense, which made the whole class laugh and he couldn’t help it either. He choked on the cupcake when he accidentally inhaled pieces of it which turned his students into a giggling mess. Jeongguk was just watching the interaction, chewing on a cupcake too, he had such a sweet tooth.

For the rest of the day, they talked about the love life of his students, "ah, sweet young love," Jimin thought, Jeongguk smiling at him from the corner of the room. He had his fair share of puppy love problems back in high school, so Jimin did his best to help in any way. They took a lot of photos too, Jeongguk took most of them for them, some he, too, included. Jimin was sure his students intentionally pushed him beside Jeongguk when they squeezed together to check the photos. Jimin’s face was literally a couple of inches apart from Jeongguk.

“Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” 

Of course, these little devils wouldn’t let him off the hook that easily. Jimin shook his head vehemently, stepping away from Jeongguk not because he didn’t want to do it but because he was embarrassed. Jimin’s face grew hot as they cheered, but when he looked up he saw Jeongguk laughing, Jimin didn’t know what had gotten into him. Maybe it was the way the redness of Jeongguk’s cheeks made his whole face glow or the way his eyes crinkled at the side when he smiled but Jimin pulled Jeongguk by the collar of his dress shirt and left a soft kiss on his cheek. 

The students cheered like they were a winning team in a soccer match.

 

A few of his students gave him handwritten letters. Jimin told his students that he woldn't read anything in front of them because he might cringe to death—a huge lie. In fact, he was afraid he would cry again, and he was accurate as he started to cry when he read the letters in his bedroom.

“I’m so glad I met you, Teacher Park. I wish you could be our teacher again next year.”

“Sorry for being so stubborn and thank you for being patient with me, even when my mother couldn’t...”

“All of my past teachers hated me for my attitude, but you didn't. You tried to understand me. Thank you for being my teacher. You’re the best.”

“Please take care of yourself, Teacher Park. Be happy! You are always beautiful, but you are the most beautiful when you smile.”

Jimin was practically drowning in his sea of tears by the end. His eyes burned from crying too much, his was nose blocked so he was breathing through his mouth. 

And just when he thought he couldn't cry anymore, he read the last letter.

“I don’t have a father, but I have you. I feel like I was able to become a better person thanks to you. Thank you for taking care of me. I love you, seonsaengnim.”

͓

Lately, he has started doing a lot of simple things that would make him happy. He had taken interest in succulents and had been caring for them for a while, he currently had two and named them Koo and Mimi. He talked to them while he watered them, his mom had told him that he should treat his plants like humans too because that’d help them grow healthier. 

Jimin had also started playing the guitar and using the guitar he got for Jeongguk on the occasion of their first anniversary. He was trying to see if he would be invested enough to buy one. Sometimes Jeongguk would teach him to play some songs but not without teasing him about how small his fingers were, and he would eventually make it up by kissing each of them afterward. 

Happiness didn’t have to be grand, it could be as simple as waking up Jeongguk and watching the fringe of his brown hair falling over his eyes. It could be as simple as laughing when Jimin lost a bet and would have to kiss Jeongguk thrice, pretending he hated it when it made his stomach flutter. 

It had also been half a year since Jimin had sold his old house and moved in with his alpha. The two of them had thought it out for a while, constantly asking each other’s opinions about it. They both worried that they were moving too fast but with the uncertainty of life, did it really matter? It was normal for them to worry a lot about some things but they had each other to share those thoughts with, so it became easier knowing they could say everything they wanted to without being judged.

Just like every other relationship, theirs wasn’t perfect either. They had gotten into fights, didn’t talk to each other for hours just to give each other the space they needed, waiting for their heads to cool down. Mostly, it was Jimin who needed time, and Jeongguk was always patient, ready to pull Jimin into his arms whenever, and Jimin had learned from Jeongguk how to set aside his pride and be kinder. Jimin’s love for him was stronger than his anger and fears. Their love was stronger than anything.



Jeongguk went home smelling like something other than his usual orange scent. It was sweet, like strawberries. He had been jumpy ever since Jeongguk came home, dizzy when Jeongguk hugged him and the smell intensified. Jeongguk didn’t wear perfume since his nose was sensitive to artificial scents so his mind couldn’t make out a possible reason as to why he smelled like that. He and Jeongguk didn’t work at the same school anymore because the alpha was transferred to another place. What if Jeongguk found someone else there? 

They were both sitting on the couch, a few inches away from each other. Jimin would usually cling to Jeongguk. Jeongguk’s eyes were closed, he usually took an hour or so before showering after going home. He had half a mind to just let it go and forget about it for now but keeping things to himself or from other people had never resulted in anything good.

“Jeongguk,” he wanted to run away as soon as the word left his mouth.

“Yes, baby?” Jeongguk asked, his attention fully on Jimin.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Shoot.”

“Why…do you smell like- like that?” Jimin turned away when he felt his eyes stinging. He trusted Jeongguk, he really did. He just couldn’t help but feel insecure. Jeongguk’s eyes snapped open at the tone of his voice, rushing to Jimin’s side.

“Hey,” Jeongguk’s voice was gentle, reading Jimin like an open book. He got up and went on the other side of the couch to face Jimin. “It’s a perfume sample. My co-worker sells perfume and he wanted to try these new scents he did, to check how long they last. We all kind of became part of his experiments.” Jeongguk said truthfully and Jimin… he felt so dumb. 

“I’m sorry-” he was about to leave but Jeongguk pulled him back.

“Hey now, it’s okay,” Jeongguk soothed, lacing their fingers together. He kissed Jimin’s cheek when a tear fell.

“I trust you… I just can’t help but- but feel scared. I’m sorry.” Jimin admitted, resting his forehead on Jeongguk’s shoulder.

“I know. We promised to tell each other when something bothers us, didn’t we?” Jimin nodded. “Thank you for telling me, you’re doing so well.” 

“I love you.”

It cost them a lot of arguments and breakdowns before Jimin finally accepted that allowing Jeongguk in the deepest recess of his fears and letting him find the worst of his insecurities didn’t mean he was weak, it didn’t mean he was burdening Jeongguk. He had the illusion that the trouble would weigh twice as heavy if shared with someone, but he failed to realize on his own that sharing trouble with the right person who cared would help him not only make everything weightless, but he might even overcome the hardest parts with a genuine smile.

 

Jeongguk was aware that his boyfriend was a stunning omega, and he was proud of it. Loved to remind Jimin about it all the time, loved that his omega knew how beautiful he was, but Jeongguk couldn’t help but hiss every time an alpha would stare for too long at Jimin. They weren’t mated, they both agreed that it wasn’t time for that yet but Jeongguk’s lingering scent on Jimin should be enough of a warning that he was taken.

Jimin had turned down so many alphas as politely as he could, and Jeongguk had glared and growled at too many alphas and it worked, but much to both of their dismay, that wasn’t always the case for alphas, a mating mark sometimes wasn’t enough for them to know their place. 

Those people pissed Jeongguk so much that Jimin had to pepper him with kisses until he had calmed down. Behind Jeongguk’s calm and composed demeanor hid a territorial alpha. Jeongguk rarely got jealous or upset about other alphas because he trusted Jimin and if he did get jealous, he would whine to Jimin just because he wanted to be coddled.

“I know you’re pretty- even I go crazy for you but damn you are mine. ” Jeongguk huffed, arms crossed over his chest. Jimin threw his head back in laughter. “Tell me you’re mine.”

“I’ve always been yours, silly.” Jimin kissed both of his cheeks. “Only yours.”

Jeongguk whined, burying his face on Jimin’s chest, brushing the tip of his nose against it making the omega giggle.

“Mine.”

“You’re the most handsome alpha I’ve ever laid my eyes on,” Jimin said, brushing the tips of their noses together. Jeongguk might appear confident but Jimin knew the alpha better than that. Jeongguk often worried about how Jimin saw him, appearance-wise.

Jeongguk blushed, blinking at him. “Really?”

“Really!”

“Even if I have this huge pimple on my cheek right now?” 

“Uh-huh, even if you are the pimple.” 

God, Jimin was so good at this, wasn’t he?

“Thanks, I guess.” Jeongguk glared at him before erupting into fits of giggles.

“No, but actually, I think you’re really really attractive. The first time I saw you, you caught my eye, but I was a bitter and heartbroken omega back then so I convinced my mind that you looked like Dante.” Jimin guffawed.

“Baby, that’s so mean but thanks, at least now I know that you’ve been thirsting over me since day one.”

Jimin kissed Jeongguk’s lips as yes.

“You’re the most handsome, sexiest, nicest, and strongest alpha. Mine!”  

͓

Jimin loved Jeongguk with all of his might, he put a great amount of trust in Jeongguk, in them. And he wasn’t afraid, because he knew Jeongguk was the person he could love to the greatest depth. But it had taken him an eternity to fight and bring down his own barriers to open up to someone and let them be a part of his life. Jimin did not regret his decision, he would never, but there was a part of him that Jimin was scared to get overwhelmed because sometimes he needed time to adjust to the pace of his life. 

He was loyal to his emotions, but he wanted some time before he could allow Jeongguk to be closer to him. Jimin somehow felt guilty over it, because he was always sliding on edge when Jeongguk’s behavior towards him had left no room to be skeptical, but he wanted to express how much his inner peace was important to him. Thus, the time. 

Jimin wasn’t ready to put down all of the barriers between him and Jeongguk, and Jeongguk had somehow understood him completely instead of bashing him. He had been utterly considerate towards Jimin’s feelings and even insisted Jimin take as much time as needed when Jimin would feel guilty over his choices. 

They would eventually get there one day, without all of Jimin’s restrictions. Jeongguk had assured him with all the confidence in the world.

That was why they had both agreed that staying together could lead to some situations that might create conflict in the future. As soon as the warm and powdery sweet scent grew stronger in the air, Jeongguk comforted him before staying away for a few days, and instead brought Taehyung to help him. Jimin had agreed instantly upon hearing Taehyung’s name because an omega’s company could have been a thousand times better than the alpha’s absence.

They knew Jeongguk’s absence was painful for Jimin because his wolf recognized Jeongguk as his alpha, his mate, but it was necessary. Deep down, Jimin would forever beat himself up for doing something he was not ready for. It was very easy to lose control when Jimin would be in a state of losing his capability of distinguishing his real world and his wolf’s needs.

He could not bear to disappoint Jeongguk along with himself.  

͓

Jeongguk was as consistent as he was since day one. He knew Jimin trusted him but he went out of his way to make sure Jimin didn’t worry, not even a bit. Jeongguk always checked in on him, texted Jimin important stuff like if he was going to be home a little later than usual, where he was, who he was with. Jimin told the alpha that he didn’t have to, afraid that he’d suffocate Jeongguk but the alpha had brushed it off, kissed the omega, and assured it was nothing, that if it would help Jimin just a little, Jeongguk would be the happiest. 

Despite their busy work life, they still found time for each other. As simple as going to a convenience store at three in the morning with their hands intertwined to buy bibimbap and chocolate milk made the dinosaurs in his stomach roar to life. There were times when they were too busy and too tired from work that they didn’t have time for each other except when they lay in bed, sharing each other’s warmth. There were no words exchanged, but sometimes that was enough. 

Their relationship wasn’t perfect, they had their bumps on the road, but the most important thing was that they had each other to motivate and lift up every single time. They were still learning about each other and they had so many things to learn about and they had all the time for that. Right now they were content with what they had.

 

“Hm, keep doing that.” Jimin moaned, eyes shut tight.

“Yeah? Like this?” Jeongguk asked, angling his hand better.

“Oh God, yes! Feels so good.” Jimin nearly screamed in pleasure. “I love it when you scratch my head like that.”

Jeongguk scratched his scalp harder, eliciting groans of satisfaction from Jimin. The omega planted his heel on the futon to push himself up, propping his head better on Jeongguk’s lap. Jimin rubbed his cheek on the alpha’s thigh like a needy cat, making him laugh. 

“You’re so adorable,” Jeongguk said, halting his scratching in favor of caressing Jimin’s cheeks, the omega preened, grinning at his alpha. Jeongguk continued scratching his head gently and focused his eyes on another Disney movie, Brave, thanks to Jimin’s fixation on Disney movies. But despite one of his favorite movies being played on the screen, Jimin couldn’t help but stare at Jeongguk.

“You’re not even watching the movie you begged to rewatch.” Jeongguk caressed Jimin’s cheek with his thumb, then this eyebrow down his eyelid. Jeongguk was always so gentle with his touches Jimin couldn’t help but blush.

"I like watching you more." 

The statement caught Jeongguk off guard if the way he sputtered was any indication.

"I can't believe I'm dating you. I think I saved a country in my past life." Jimin said, his hands in between each of Jeongguk's armpits. It was weird, yeah, but the alpha's armpits were warm (not to mention that Jeongguk smelt so fucking good) and Jimin liked the warmth. Jeongguk let Jimin do everything he wanted with him, not minding his peculiar habits. 

"I can't believe I'm dating you." Jeongguk bent down to leave a peck on Jimin's forehead. "You're the first… after Jaeshin." The confession made Jimin stop his antics, his hands falling on his stomach. 

He didn't know, they didn't talk much about their pasts. They decided that they didn't want to dwell on it anymore. Jimin didn't know what to say. He was grateful that Jeongguk trusted him even though he had his own setbacks, and Jimin was glad he had let Jeongguk in.

"You have something on your face," Jimin said. 

"What?" Jeongguk's big doe eyes innocently blinked at Jimin, waiting for the omega to do something. Jeongguk leaned down, "please remove—" the rest of his words were lost against Jimin's lips when the omega pulled him by the neck, slotting their lips together. 

“Hey—” Jeongguk laughed, pulling away for a breath but Jimin chased his lips, and kissed him. Once, twice, thrice. 

“Yum!” Jimin grinned, rubbing his face on Jeongguk’s toned stomach. Jeongguk guffawed and slapped Jimin’s ass.

 

The limelight from the wide windows and transparent glass doors of Jeongguk’s house glinted on their faces in shades as they stared at each other, content with their visions. 

“I was supposed to tell you this before but I keep forgetting.”

Jimin hummed as a response, nuzzling further Jeongguk’s neck to make him continue.

“I substituted for Teacher Hwang in one of his classes before,” Jeongguk said, carding his fingers through Jimin’s blonde locks, the other hand supporting Jimin’s back.

“Science Department?” Jimin looked up, straddling the alpha’s lap, his hands around Jeongguk's neck.

“Yep.” 

They had gotten more comfortable as their relationship progressed. Jimin had been shy to even initiate a peck on the cheek at first but now, their small fleeting kisses had managed to transform to him straddling Jeongguk's hips and grinding down on the alpha. Jimin was the more reckless one, while Jeongguk liked to keep their pace. 

It sent shivers down Jimin's spine and made his toes curl to see Jeongguk trying so damn hard to hold himself back. If Jimin was feeling a little bit playful, he'd like to push past his breaking point. It was fun to tease Jeongguk. 

"And what about it?" Jimin asked coyly, his eyes fluttering shut when Jeongguk's hand traveled up his thighs, giving them a squeeze. Jeongguk followed the action, kissing Jimin before nibbling on the omega's plush bottom lip, eliciting a moan from the two of them.

"I continued where Teacher Hwang l-left off his l-lesson so we were h-having a recitation—" Jeongguk gripped Jimin's hips when he wouldn't stop swiveling them against Jeongguk's, the alpha was straining himself trying not to thrust up. "Can you calm down baby?" he laughed, kneading Jimin's ass. 

Chuchu fucking barked, hissing at them before leaving like nothing happened. 

"See? Chuchu agrees." 

"I'm gonna spank your dog." Jimin pouted but he complied anyway, instantly halting his movements, cupping Jeongguk's face instead. Jeongguk wrapped his hands on Jimin's waist, pulling him closer. 

"As I was saying I covered for Teacher Hwang's afternoon classes because he was out for— I forgot what — I was holding a bunch of each students' index cards since I don't know them well. It was so tense because no one wants to be called. For the third question, I picked Junseok's — your favorite student’s — index card. Called to him, he got up from his seat, waited for the ques—" Jeongguk cackled, he was cackling so hard that Jimin's body shook from where he was seated in his lap.

Jimin smacked his arm. "Can you please finish what you were saying first, mister?" 

"I asked him: "what is the relationship—' laughter, smack "relationship between speed and t-time? Fuck-" Jeongguk threw his head back in laughter. Jimin didn't know what was up but he grinned at him anyway. 

"Tell me!" Jimin whined and pinched his nipples. Jeongguk hissed but the next second he was cackling again. 

"You know what he answered?" 

Jimin blinked at Jeongguk.

"Love team." 

It took a few seconds for Jimin to process the information but when he finally understood, he shrank into a giggling mess. He almost fell backward if not for Jeongguk's reflex catching him by the waist.

"I know you said Junseok is effortlessly funny but— I swear I almost melted on the floor. I laughed too hard." Jeongguk said after they calmed down, wiping a stray tear.

"Sometimes I don't know if he's doing things on purpose or what. One time he went to school wearing his pants inside out." Jimin facepalmed, remembering how everyone pretty much busted a lung on how hilarious it was. "Junseok himself was confused as fuck. I don't know how he didn't know that he was wearing the wrong way. When we told him about it he just— smiled at everyone then stared at his pants before rushing down to the bathroom. We weren't done laughing when he came back, he laughed along with us though." 

"He's a funny kid."

"But every time after I laughed I can't help but feel guilty so one time I just— asked him if he minds or if he feels offended about it. He said no, he loves making his classmates laugh." 

Jeongguk hummed against Jimin’s collarbones before mouthing on Jimin’s neck. Jimin moaned in response. Jimin tilted his head to give Jeongguk more room.  Jeongguk slowly grazed his teeth through the column of his neck to follow the curve and reach his collarbone, piercing his teeth through the warmth. Jimin let out a small whimper despite trying to hold back. his head lolling on Jeongguk's shoulders. Jimin turned around to face Jeongguk and reach his inviting lips, his fingers tangling on his soft brown locks. Jeongguk moaned into the kiss, letting his hand travel from Jimin's hips south to the swell of his ass.

͓

There were times where Jeongguk would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, tears running down his face, screaming for Jimin’s name. 

The first time it happened Jimin was in so much shock he could barely move. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do because Jeongguk had always been the stronger one between the two of them so when Jeongguk crumbled, Jimin was speechless. But if there was one thing Jimin had learned in life, it was that just being there was enough.  

“I thought y-you- Jimin I thought y-you were gone.” Jeongguk sobbed, his face buried on Jimin’s neck. Jeongguk was clinging onto Jimin so hard, and his nails dug in Jimin so hard it broke his skin.

“I’m here. I won’t go. Nothing will happen, baby, I’ll be here.” Jimin kissed Jeongguk’s shoulder, rubbing soothing circles on his back. It hurt him to see Jeongguk like this but he knew his alpha was strong.

"Please d-don't... don't go. D-don't d-don't l-leave m-me too. P-please."

"I won't baby, I won't okay? I'm here." Jimin soothed, lacing their fingers together. " Breathe, breathe."

"B-breathe..."

"Can you count up to 10 for me, baby?” 

“O-okay.”

“Good, I’m here. I love you."

Each time it happened, he would rush over to Jeongguk’s sides and pull him into an embrace, murmuring reassurances into Jeongguk’s ears. Jimin would talk to him to distract the alpha from his thoughts, holding his hand while he slept. Jimin made sure that Jeongguk knew that even this side of him was beautiful, that Jimin loved everything about Jeongguk, just as how Jeongguk loved everything Jimin was.

They both understood that healing completely didn’t happen overnight, that all the things that hurt them couldn’t just magically disappear like they were never there in the first place. They understood that it was okay to be sad, upset, and cry about the things they thought they had healed from. 

͓

Jimin was reading the book that Bongcha recommended to him when Chuchu started barking, it only meant one thing: Jeongguk was home. Jimin shot up from up the bed and tossed the book on the mattress, petting Chuchu’s head, “good boy,” and waddled to the front door.

“Hi!” he beamed as soon as he saw his alpha. Jeongguk was away for a two-day seminar and Jimin had missed him. Texting and FaceTime just weren’t enough to suffice for the warmth of his alpha. “I’ve missed you,” he said, hugging Jeongguk from his side who was taking his shoes off. 

“Missed you too chicky,” Jeongguk mumbled, caressing the hair on Jimin’s nape. Jimin grabbed the bags from Jeongguk.

“I’ll do it,” he said before scurrying off to drop them in the laundry room, he would take care of them later.

“Bad day?” Jimin asked when he noticed the alpha’s somber mood. Jeongguk nodded in lieu of an answer. Jimin pouted, brushing Jeongguk’s hair away from his face.

“Wanna talk about it?” 

“No. I’ll be fine,” he reassured, and Jimin knew sometimes it was better to not push it so he didn’t say anything, wrapping his hands around the alpha instead. 

Jimin pulled Jeongguk gently to the couch.

“Sit down,” Jimin smiled. 

Jimin leaped his way around the couch and stood behind the alpha, Jeongguk’s back to him. Jeongguk followed his movements, giggling at the omega’s bubbliness. Jimin wrapped his arms around the alpha’s shoulder, tucking his chin on his left shoulder. Jimin nuzzled the alpha’s cheeks before leaving a soft kiss on it before draping his hands over Jeongguk’s shoulders. 

He pulled the muscles upward with gentle but constant pressure, pressing the tips of his fingers and thumbs into the trapezoid on both sides, starting on the inside of the shoulders closest to the neck and then lifting and lowering his forearms and elbows with slow, gentle motions.

“Wow, that feels so nice baby.” Jeongguk gruntled, his eyes closed.

“Yeah?” 

“Yeah.”

Jimin tried to have a steady pace while massaging Jeongguk. He brought his arms up and released his grip, then lowered them and channeled the movement in small pulses from his fingers.

“Wanna take care of my alpha.”

Jeongguk suddenly reached back to wrap his hands around Jimin’s wrists.

“Everything alright? Did I press too hard?” Jimin fussed. 

Jeongguk shook his head no, resting his left cheek on Jimin’s palm. “I love you.”

Here came the dinosaurs somersaulting in his stomach again. They had been dating for a while now but Jeongguk would always affect him as if it was the first time.

“I love y-you more.” 

Jeongguk tackled him and attacked him with tickles, making Jimin yelp.

͓

"Are you sure you want to go?" Jeongguk asked, kneeling in front of Jimin. His hands were on the omega's knees hoping to give the omega some sort of comfort. Jeongguk had managed to button up his maroon long sleeve but Jimin was still seated on the mattress, fidgeting with his nails. "We don't have to if you don't want to. You know that, right?" 

It was Teacher Shin's daughter's second birthday and they were invited, like always. Jimin couldn't believe how much time had passed already, it was mysterious how it passed so quickly. 

Of course, it crossed Jimin's mind to refuse the invitation again. He could come up with a lot of excuses to avoid situations like these like he did before. But the thing was, he didn't want to, not anymore. Jimin was done hiding when there was nothing to hide in the first place. He had long accepted that he couldn't conceive and that wasn't something he should hide or be ashamed of. Instead, it was something he had learned how to embrace, and that all of him was beautiful

The path was shaky and he had stumbled so many times that he wanted to give up because he thought it was futile to try. But it was because he believed in himself and someone— Jeongguk— had believed in him that he was able to reach the light at the end of the tunnel. 

"No, I- I can. It's okay." Jimin cupped the left side of Jeongguk's face, brushing his thumb over his tan skin. "One step at a time, remember?" 

Jeongguk smiled. "Yeah," Jeongguk pushed himself on his knees and kissed Jimin's cheek. "Proud of you." 

"Thank you… for always believing in me, and for n-never giving up on me." Jimin's voice wavered. 

Jimin thought life was over when the people he had loved had given up on him. It was later in life that he had realized that as long as you didn't give up on yourself, you'll be just fine. 

Jeongguk came into his life at the most unexpected but most perfect time. He was there when Jimin was bleeding on the floor, mourning his broken wings. Jeongguk stayed with him and watched him heal and run to the end of the cliff to leap and fly. Jeongguk stayed even if there were a lot of times where Jimin stepped back and ran in the opposite direction because he was afraid of falling. Jeongguk was still there when Jimin spread his wings and flew freely. 

"Aw, is my baby gonna cry?" Jeongguk cooed, squishing his cheeks, and leaned in to kiss his eyelids. Jimin shook his head with a pout, and Jeongguk kissed the pout away.

"Do you know how much I love you?" Jimin said against his lips. 

"I do, and I love you too baby." Jeongguk breathed, nuzzling Jimin's neck. "You smell especially good today."

"Really? Like what?"

"You smell like home."