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A Cat Who Writes ([personal profile] acatwhowrites) wrote2016-09-21 11:35 am

Homefront

title: Homefront
players: Kim Namjoon/Rap Monster, Park Jimin, OC
rating: G
word count: 4,460w
summary: There were times Jimin felt a lot and didn't feel at all. Times before he was a dad that he'd rather never forget and times he'd rather never think of again. Times when he was alone and choking on ash and slipping in mud made of blood and exposed dirt.

Times before dancing with his daughter to animated guitar music and planning dates to pick flowers in the park.
a/n: Chanyeol was almost a phoenix, saved from being a simple ingredient by the kind-hearted-and-kind-of-magically-inept Jongin. I thought a dog was funnier and less witch-like.
Written for BTS Rare Pair.
Read on AFF || AO3 || AO3 || LJ





There as a time when he lived on autopilot, going through the motions like a robot. His body stayed strong through routine, but his mind ran around itself in circles and trapped him in its darkest depths.

There was a time when he believed love was dead. People didn't spend any meaningful time together. They survived and conquered and ran and tried to move on.

There was a time when he wanted to die, even before the nightmares plagued his sleep and waking terrors rocked the nation.

There was a time before Jimin found Kyungran, but that time no longer matters. Even as a toddler, Kyungran seems to emulate the sun, warm and bright and sometimes too hot to handle. Jimin never had to deal with childish temper tantrums, so he's doubly grateful for Seokjin, who stayed with him even in his darkest moments. When Jimin stumbles, Seokjin's right at his side to help him upright and continue forward, taking some of the load from his arms and watching with a love in his heart that's been all but destroyed in their world.

Within the steel and glass walls of the city, birds still sing, flowers still grow, and children still laugh. Jimin keeps his past tucked in the back corners of his closet and readily catches each of Kyungran's running embraces.

He's a dad, now. The war can wait.





The weather finally warms up enough that Jimin doesn't wrestle Kyungran into a jacket before leaving their apartment. She grabs a pretty yellow cardigan after much deliberation, saying it matches her green dress. Like petals to a flower stem, Jimin thinks, and he suggests a yellow hat to be the flower's sun.

Kyungran shakes her head and stands on her tip-toes to pull the levered door handle down. "Papa's my sun."

She grabs his fingers, waves goodbye to Seokjin, and they walk to the elevator together. The neighbour at the end of the hall holds the door for them, fluffy white dog waiting with eager patience for the attention Kyungran always lavishes on her.

Their building stands in the inner circle of the city, clean and untouched thanks to air filtration systems throughout as well as sound-deafening barriers around the perimeter. There's a pristine little park nearby, with a playground and pond and wide concrete walkways that some performers still busk on or vendors set up carts.

Kyungran obediently holds onto Jimin's hand and only rushes onto the grass after making sure he's right behind her. She ambles around for a while, Jimin following close behind and watching curiously, because there's no telling what's going through the little girl's mind, and stops right behind her when she halts abruptly. Spinning fast, skirt flying, she points to the grass at her feet. "Papa, sit here."

"Right here?" Jimin points.

She nods. "Right here."

So Jimin sits, and Kyungran takes off across the green. Other children are out with their caretakers, scrambling over the network of pipes and beams in the jungle gym or piling sand together to make their own civilisations. Kyungran ignores them and only walks by to reach certain wildflowers and pretty weeds. She never seems to have any interest in kids her own age, or kids in general. She clings to Jimin or Seokjin but hides from Jimin's parents the few times they visit. It's worrisome, but she's still very young. If she's anything like Jimin, she'll want nothing to do with adults soon enough.

He leans back on his hands and tilts his face towards the sun, checking Kyungran every few minutes. It's a clear day, no clouds or smoke obscuring the sun. Flocks of birds pass between the trees, and he wonder where they go, if they ever leave the city. Migration patterns have changed since the war started, effected by altered climates and humans tearing through their usual habitats to try and destroy each other.

A shadow cools his face--he didn't realise he'd laid down--and Kyungran stares at him curiously. Her hair tickles his face. "Papa, you sleepin'?"

"I must be," he gasps, "because I see an angel!" He raises his arms reverently, and Kyungran giggles, turning to run but easily being caught and wrapped in a tickling embrace. Jimin sits upright, planting kisses all over her face until she finally grasps his wrists and cries for him to stop between gasping fits of laughter.

"Oh, wow," Jimin says, looking at the mess of flowers over his lap and before his knees. "Did you pick all of these?"

"Yeah." Kyungran slips from his hold and starts picking each flower up again.

"What are you going to do with them?" He leans his elbows on his knees. "Gonna open a flower shop?"

"Nuh-uh." She holds them between her arm and chest and takes one of Jimin's arms. He sits back, understanding that she wants him upright again, and she plants herself in the space made by his criss-crossed legs. "It's a surprise." She pouts, concentration drawing her little eyebrows down over the bridge of her nose, and Jimin can't help but tickle her cheek. "Don't do that!" she shrieks, returning to her project. "I'm working."

It's cute. Jimin watches her braid stems together, tying the too short ones or stuffing them into the weave. It's a lot of work for tiny, less coordinated hands, but the frown leaves her face the longer she's at it, and she's soon singing a nonsense song that only makes sense to her and the flowers.

He rests his chin on her head. "Are you done, yet?"

"Nope."

He hums, nodding and jostling her a little. "How about now?"

She giggles, and Jimin swears the sound could cure the sickness of the world with its effervescent clarity. "No!"

"How much longer? Papa's bored." He could probably watch her like this all day.

"Just wait." She tucks the stem of a yellow flower next to a cluster of tiny white ones. "I'm almost done."

Children on the jungle gym shout at each other and leap to the ground to chase their friends and kids they've never met. The adults sit on nearby benches or watch over their shoulders while waiting in vendors' lines. There seem to be more carts than usual, ones Jimin doesn't recognise. More and more people are trying to move farther into the city. The outskirts are getting crowded and falling apart, but there is plenty of construction work opportunities until the walls and dome are completed.

On his lap, Kyungran finally grunts with satisfaction and shifts, shimmying until she's facing Jimin with her hands behind her back. "Close your eyes!" Jimin smiles and puts his hands over his face. He parts his fingers just enough to make her gasp and hit his arm lightly. "Don't ruin the surprise!"

So he closes his eyes and waits. Something musses his hair, tiny fingers pushing strands behind his ears and off his forehead. "Okay."

"Okay? I'm opening my eyes and am gonna look..." Kyungran quickly readjusts the flowers on his head and waits eagerly while he pulls out his phone and checks his reflection.

It's messy and too small, but it's obviously a vibrant flower crown that sports unique fullness thanks to long grass braided with the stems. "It's so pretty! Thank you, Kyungranie." He puts his phone back in his pocket and leans down a little, lips puckered. The girl giggles, gives him a quick kiss, and struggles to crawl off his lap. He lifts her to her feet, and she takes off again.

He watches Kyungran busily collect more flowers, maybe planning another crown. She wanders through the grass that's tall enough to tickle her shins, stopping every once in a while to crouch down and inspect a coloured bud. She passes more than she picks, putting great thought into her arrangement.

She returns and hands them to Jimin.

"For me?" Kyungran shakes her head and points to the vendor behind them.

"Oppa."

Jimin didn't notice it at first, but there's soft music playing, something his grandparents would've listened to. The vendor is restacking kitschy knick-knacks along the sides of the wide counter. Bobbly things and wind chimes hang from the metal overhang. It looks like a lot of junk, really, but people peddle what they can, and people buy what they can to keep a grip on familiarity and avoid the new normal.

"You want me to give these to him?" Kyungran nods. Oh boy. "Will you come with me?" The girl considers for a few moments but nods and holds out her hand, walking next to him until the vendor looks up and smiles.

"Hi!" The vendor has deep dimples in his cheeks, and Jimin feels like he's a teenager again, heart racing because of a pretty girl.

"Hello, um..." He looks down to his daughter for support, some sort of reasoning for giving a stranger a bundle of flowers picked out of the public park lawn, but she's abandoned him and is hiding her face in the backs of his thighs.

The vendor's patient. "What can I get you?"

"Oh, um, nothing. Thank you. It's just-- My kid wanted me to give these to you..." He holds out the bouquet of wild flowers. Kyungran smiles shyly from behind Jimin's legs.

"Wow! Thank you!" The vendor pushes his sunglasses up his forehead to look at Kyungran. He has narrow, expressive eyes. "There are so many; you picked them all yourself?"

Kyungran nods.

"Wow... You worked hard." He grabs an empty cookie tin and sets them inside. They fan out, looking scraggly. "Thank you so much. I'll get them water, soon."

Kyungran grins and hides her face, clinging to Jimin's pantlegs with dandelion-stained fingers.

Jimin pats her head. He knows how to talk to people; he's very good at socialising, but he's good when he has reason to be social. He's delivered the flowers; he should be heading home before Kyungran gets grumpy.

"I like your crown." The vendor grins when Jimin's hand touches the flowers. "She knows how to put flowers together; the colours look good."

"Yeah." He can talk to anyone about Kyungran, no problem. "She's very good with colours and always helps me pick my ties. Papa, this goes good with the grass. It's springtime. Wear green. It's gonna rain; wear pink, Papa, so people are happy."

"She's cute." Kyungran yawns and tugs at Jimin's fingers. He wordlessly lifts her to his hip. She puts her little arms around his neck and nuzzles her face behind his ear.

"Did you..." It might be rude to ask. New people are emotional moving into the city. "Did you just move here?"

The vendor shakes his and shrugs a shoulder. "I'm from just outside the inner city; I was...outside." The wall.

"Oh. Well, welcome back." Jimin bows briefly, readjusts his grip on his daughter, and tries to walk away without looking like he was fully aware he'd just made an ass of himself.

He doesn't see the vendor cross his arms over his counter and smile.





Kyungran's awake again by the time they reach the apartment. She spurs Jimin to run with her on his back, throwing back her head and shrieking when he lopes up the stairs. "We're home!"

In the depths of the apartment, Jimin hears a muffled "Welcome back!" as he crouches to let Kyungran off his back. She kicks off her shoes and runs ahead. Jimin takes his time untying his shoes and setting them aside with Kyungran's.

"Hyung, what's for dinner? We're starving."

Seokjin turns around from the stove, Kyungran clinging to his back like a backpack. "The little koala wants French toast. You okay with that?"

"Sure." Kyungran is easy to feed until it comes to desserts. She is very particular about her sweets. The more pink and frosted, the better.

Jimin sits on the island countertop and makes faces at Kyungran until Seokjin tells him to set out plates. The man must have eyes in the back of his head; even when they were kids, he'd just intuitively know when Jimin was getting too close to something he shouldn't or rolling his eyes rather than behaving himself at the social functions his parents dragged him to.

"Your mother called, by the way." Seokjin backs towards Jimin to remove Kyungran. Her bouncing on his kidneys with her arms around his neck made cooking and breathing difficult. "Did you leave your phone?"

Jimin flashes it from his pocket.

"Is it on?"

Of course it's not. Jimin gets enough propoganda from the posters plastered over walls. No one ever calls him unless they want something, namely money or his life.

"There's an event this week," Seokjin continues. He says an event tonelessly, as thrilled about it as Jimin is. He shuffles a spatula under some bread, checking its colour. Kyungran's bouncing beside him, single-mindedly watching the food. "The General and your stepmother are going and would like you to make an appearance." He offers Kyungran a large strawberry, holding it for her to bite into. They usually try to avoid talking anything about the war, or even Jimin's parents, when Kyungran's around, but with food in sight, any attention to her hearing is redirected to her senses of smell and taste.

Jimin doesn't offer any sort of reply, staring someplace between his nose and his daughter, happily licking fruit juice from the corner of her mouth.

"Kyungran made a friend today."

"Oh?" Seokjin knows Jimin's deflecting but lets him.

"She picked flowers for a vendor oppa." Kyungran grins, teeth stained pink.

"Did you make your papa's crown, too?" She nods. Seokjin ruffles her hair and flips another piece of toast. "It looks very good! I noticed it when you first came in, and I told myself Ah, Kyungranie was busy today!"

"Papa needed crown, because he's my prince!" she declares.

Jimin gasps. "Then where's the princess's crown? Go get your crown, and we'll eat!"

"Will you go?" Seokjin asks softly. They hear Kyungran in her bedroom, ransacking her closet and singing to herself.

"Yes. I have to at least make an appearance, but this is important. If I can convince even one family to support an end to the war..."

Seokjin sighs and piles the toast onto the plates. "Everyone wants it to end, Jimin." Bowls of fruit follow the set plates.

"But end it sooner. I don't think half the nation even knows what they're fighting for, anymore." He leans back and rubs his hands over his face. "How many more kids like Kyungran are going to be left behind?"

"You don't need to be telling me. I love her, too." Seokjin reaches over the island and takes Jimin's hand, giving it a squeeze. He's lucky in that he was already a part of Jimin's family when his parents were claimed by the fighting. Few people are so lucky. "You'll be needing a suit cleaned, then, unless you'll wear your uniform." Jimin makes a face. "Will you take her?"

"She'd never forgive me, if I don't."

Kyungran returns to the kitchen as demurely as a five-year-old can, hand on her hip and head tilted back so the lights caught the plastic gems of her crown. Jimin stands and bows with a flourish. "We've been waiting, Highness." The facade breaks when he lifts her to her seat. She barely finishes giving thanks for the food before taking her fork in her fist and stuffing a cut piece of toast in her mouth. Powder sugar dusts her nose. She'll definitely need a bath.

"Princess," Jimin says after a bite of food, "the king and queen have invited us to a party." Kyungran's eyes gleam. She loves parties. "Will you go with me?"

"Yef!"

Seokjin frowns and wipes up the spit food with a napkin. "Don't speak with your mouth full, please."

She doesn't apologise and kicks her feet in excitement. "I'll wear my pink dress! And Papa has to wear pink, too, so we match, and no one else can wear it."

Jimin eats maybe half of his food, spending the rest of dinner watching his daughter and making sure she doesn't choke on her meal. She's a voracious eater, even after so long.

After dinner, Kyungran plays in the bath and plays in her room. She's okay by herself, seeking out Jimin or Seokjin when she wants company or an opinion or feels like they need her. For someone so young, she's intuitive. Luckily for Jimin, she's just as cuddly as he is, and doesn't mind just sitting on his lap and being hugged.

It's that kind of night. Jimin sends his mother a video message saying he and Kyungran will be attending the event. He doesn't say for how long, but she knows he only intends to make an appearance.

He's exhausted after that, and he's just set his phone aside and closed his eyes when there's a weight on his lap. "Hi, Papa," Kyungran greets softly. "You sleepin'?"

"Yes."

She says, "We'll be quiet," and shushes her stuffed lion.

They shouldn't sleep upright--Kyungran ends up sprawling sideways across his lap--but Jimin falls asleep anyway. He thinks he hears booming in the distance, but he imagines it's thunder.





There's no sign of clouds for the next few days.

Jimin handles letters and communications he's still tasked with. Seokjin makes sure he doesn't starve. Kyungran drags him out to the mall, the movie theatre, and even a bar, because the bartender is a friend of Seokjin's and always treats Kyungran to weird candies. Jimin never drinks, then, although he's sorely tempted when surrounded by clean suits and the smell of fruity mixed drinks.

At least once a day, Kyungran makes sure they go to the park. She likes the grass there, she says, because it's hardly ever mowed and feels nice. The vendor always accepts her bouquets with a wide smile, the days he's there, and he and Jimin chat.

Kyungran finally admits that "Papa should see other people," but he's hopeless, so she's helping him meet people. Even if "people" is just one person.

Jimin really hopes she doesn't have a crush. He's not ready for that, yet.

He's not much more ready to face the brass and gossip, but his stepmother's acknowledged his message, and there's no way to gracefully bow out of going. He could use Kyungran as an excuse, but the General would ask why she doesn't just stay with Seokjin and Jimin come alone. And Jimin would have to be on his deathbed before he could call in sick.

He holds Kyungran's hand as they make their entrance. Kyungran takes even steps, three for every one of her dad's, and keeps her head high with a bright smile on her face. She looks like a little princess, pink dress ruffled and laced with sparkling pearls sewn into the bodice matching the baby pearls braided into her hair. Jimin's tie and pocket square match the pink of his daughter's dress, complete with a pearl tack to hold the tie in place. They're a handsome pair, and their smiles show they know it.

They pass through the crowd with bows and pleasantries. Kyungran charms everyone with curtsies and dimpled smiles. She sticks close to Jimin, though, even when they're face to face with Jimin's parents, and his stepmother opens her arms to her. She's a nice woman, a little older than the General, but Jimin never felt close to her. Kyungran must have picked up on that.

"She's just shy," Jimin excuses. He won't ever say it, but he feels better with her clinging to his hand.

She hangs off of him while he talks to other military and political personnel. Some old acquaintances try swapping battle stories, but Jimin excuses himself.

They're just about an hour into their appearance, paying more attention to the soft music from the commissioned quartet than anything else, and Jimin's considering leaving. His hands are empty, though. He spots Kyungran at the table set with hors d'oeuvres and tiny desserts, standing on a chair to reach something topped with frosting. They ate before they came; any sugar she has now will keep her up until morning.

A staff member steps onto the raised stage and taps the microphone briefly. "Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, but I'd like to take this time to thank you all for taking the time to join me and the royal family tonight, and thank you for your patronage. We all know the value of money and the lives of those brave men and women fighting for our families and freedom.

"As a special treat, we have a very special guest tonight. Some of you may have thought he was gone, but you can rest assured that he is still alive and well and talented as ever. Ladies and gentlemen, it's my honour and great pleasure to introduce Mr Kim Namjoon."

Kyungran pulls at Jimin's hand. "Papa, that's the street vendor oppa!" she exclaims.

To a round of applause and pleased shouts, the vendor approaches the stage with a smile and a guitar. He accepts the stool offered to him and makes himself comfortable. He's tall enough he can extend his leg out and still touch the floor. The pantleg of his suit rides up a little, showing off a pink sock. Without preamble, he picks at the strings and begins a familiar song.

"He looks really handsome," Kyungran whispers shyly, and Jimin has to agree. Namjoon's hair is all dark again, not the bright bleached blond he sported at the park, neatly trimmed and styled away from his face. The scruff is gone from his jaw and upper lip. His suit fits well.

He looks good.

Kyungran's enamoured enough that she doesn't whine when Jimin removes her from the table of food. A few people find something in them that had been buried under the weight of anxiety, and they dance in the middle of the room. It sets a notably different mood, and Namjoon switches to a waltz.

Jimin lets Kyungran step onto the toes of his shoes and moves with an easy grace that awakens his muscle memory of lessons as a child. She follows the steps with her eyes, trying to memorise them for the day she'll be big enough to dance on her own.

With a more upbeat rhythm, Jimin sweeps Kyungran off her feet and into his arms. She holds onto his neck and giggles. He's pretty much dancing by himself, now, but neither of them mind. So close, it almost feels as though it's just the two of them, and they're not in a ballroom of dignitaries and politicians and old money funding a war that took Kyungran's birth parents.

Jimin's out of breath from dancing, and Kyungran's out of breath from laughing. He dances her to an open chair and collapses. He's never smiled at one of these events and meant it.

Kyungran waves to someone over his shoulder. "Hi..." She hides her face in Jimin's shoulder.

The vendor, Namjoon, grins and takes the seat beside them. His guitar is in an open case at the edge of the stage. The musicians are taking a break. Without the soft soundtrack of strings, conversation is louder. Namjoon leans his elbows on his knees and leans forward to be heart. "I didn't think I'd see you here." He tickles Kyungran's cheek. "Having fun?" She flinches and giggles, ears bushing red. He looks at Jimin with a soft sort of expression, not at all taken in by the jewels and medals around him. "I'm Kim Namjoon. Never introduced myself."

"Park Jimin." He reaches around his daughter to shake Namjoon's hand. He's always known he has small hands--his dad commissioned a custom service weapon for him--but it's more noticeable compared to Namjoon's long fingers. Definitely a musician's hands. "This is Kyungran. She's not so shy once she knows you."

"She's cute." He tilts his head to meet her eyes. "Unfortunately, the flowers you gave me have all dried up. Maybe we could pick some together?" She blinks, considering, and nods. "Yeah?" He holds up a hand, little finger extended. "Promise? Because I got a lot of compliments for having such pretty flowers." Her ears are so hot Jimin can feel the warmth on his face. It seeps into his chest when they link pinkies and seal the promise.

"You play well," Jimin says. "I didn't expect that."

"And I didn't expect you to be such a good dancer." Namjoon laughs when Jimin mumbles, "So you saw."

"'Music is the language of the spirit,'" he replies. "'It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.' More people should dance like you."

"They probably would, if someone like you played for them." The back of Jimin's neck burns. He knows he's blushing, but he's beyond hiding in embarrassment. He surprises himself, however, by giggling.

His hand flies to his mouth, and he feels his cheeks get hot. Something changes on Namjoon's face and in his posture. He's staring, smile so small it's barely there, but Jimin sees it and blushes even harder.

"You should get her home," Namjoon comments softly. He's imagining things, probably, but Jimin thinks the vendor-slash-musician was going to say something else.

"Huh?"

Namjoon tickles Kyungran's cheek again. She mumbles in her sleep--having lost interest in the conversation a long time ago--and turns her head away. "She's had enough excitement for the day. She'll sleep well."

"You don't know my daughter," Jimin scoffs affectionately. "She'll be awake and running around the moment we're home."

Namjoon hums. "Still. It's late. You're probably tired, too."

He is. He didn't even notice until then, hiding a yawn behind his hand. Cradling Kyungran, Jimin carefully gets to his feet. His thighs tingle, but they'll slowly wake up once he's walking.

Namjoon stands as well, much taller than him even without the height of the vendor cart. "I'd walk you out, but I promised to play another set."

"If I get lost, I'll shout for you." It's a lame joke, but they laugh. Neither moves. "Well." Jimin bows. "We'll be seeing you."

"Tomorrow?" He sounds hopeful. Jimin grins and starts to back towards the doors.

"We'll see." Probably. Kyungran loves going to the park.

Namjoon smiles, all teeth and deep dimples.





There were times Jimin felt a lot and didn't feel at all. Times before he was a dad that he'd rather never forget and times he'd rather never think of again. Times when he was alone and choking on ash and slipping in mud made of blood and exposed dirt.

Times before dancing with his daughter to animated guitar music and planning dates to pick flowers in the park.