ℰmmi (seulpeo) wrote in galaxyabandoned,

{got7; jb/bambam} the soft animal of your body (iv)

Title: the soft animal of your body, part iv/v

part three

In the middle of the night, at some unknown trigger, Jaebum abruptly jerks awake - panting, his face and chest sweaty. His heartbeat pounds in his ears, too fast, like he is cornered prey, and it takes a moment before he can take catalog of his senses and figure out there's no real threat. A quick glance at his phone says it's late, almost 3 AM.

He wasn't dreaming, though, or just can't recall if he was. A muffled cry from the other room has Jaebum throwing off his blankets and bolting down the hall.

"Bambam?" Jaebum asks frantically as he flings open the door to Bambam's bedroom, and the sound of the door colliding with the opposite wall and bouncing back as Bambam whimpering in fear and curling even tighter into the ball he's tucked himself into. "Bambam, are you okay?"

He hovers, helpless, at the foot of the bed as he struggles to see in the dim lighting; tonight is a new moon, and Bambam is only a small, huddled shape among his blankets, most of which have been strewn around him and fallen to the ground, perhaps in Bambam's thrashing. But now he's stopped, trembling so hard the bed is shaking with his tremors, and still making that terrified keening under his breath. When he senses Jaebum approaching him, he flinches in his sleep so hard Jaebum automatically steps back. It's like he's expecting Jaebum to hit him - and that's the most worrying part by far.

When Jaebum's hands meet the curve of Bambam's back, Bambam lets out a violent gasp, breaks off into a sob of fear. "Hey, hey," Jaebum tries to soothe him, chest aching with how useless it seems. "Bambam, wake up - wake up, it's just me."

"No," Bambam cries, trying to scramble away, eyes squeezed tightly closed. "Oh, please - "

Jaebum manages to catch hold of Bambam's shoulders, gripping them when Bambam resists, and doesn't know what to do next. It doesn't seem right to try and shake Bambam awake, but otherwise the catboy is still caught in the throes of his nightmare, one so frightening it has his ears pinned flat against his head, tail fluffed and lashing from side to side, the rest of his body still shaking all over. "Baby," he whispers, the endearment slipping out beyond his control, but he can't even think about it. "It's okay, I swear. Wake up, Bambam - please - "

At his touch to Bambam's bare neck, so light and careful Jaebum is hardly making contact, Bambam's eyes fly open. "Hyung?" he chokes out, already reaching out to fist his hands in the thin fabric of Jaebum's tank top once he takes in the real scents around him. "Jaebum hyung!"

"I'm right here," Jaebum promises, pulling Bambam close, which is all the permission Bambam really needs to climb into Jaebum's lap and press his face to Jaebum's chest. The trembling won't stop, doesn't seem like Bambam can make it stop, and Jaebum runs his hand up and down his back in a poor attempt to console.

"I thought he t-took me away," Bambam sobs, and Jaebum is upset to feel the dampness of Bambam's tears seeping through his chest. "I thought - I thought that it was all over, and I'd have to go back to th-that place, and I would never - never get to see you ever again - and I was so scared he would hurt me a-again - "

"You're safe with me," Jaebum tells him, over and over, trying to put as much certainty in his voice as possible.

Bambam shakes his head and cries harder, beyond comfort. "He was right there," he mumbles between sobs, "right there, I could smell him, and you weren't there anymore!"

"That won't happen," Jaebum promises, petting the back of Bambam's head like he always has before and feeling his stomach sink when even that doesn't seem to help, nothing will help. He's never heard Bambam speak so much at once of his own accord - especially about his life with his previous owner - but he doesn't think he wants to hear much more. Domestic abuse is something that happens so easily with catboys because they have no voice in court; any human's word ranks over their word that there's no point in trying to bring a case to a judge or jury. There are rumors and scandals, of course, but Jaebum never really believed that these things actually happened. It's wrong to hit a pet, but the thought of someone raising a hand against a catboy as sweet and harmless as Bambam puts an awful taste in Jaebum's mouth. The injustice of it all only makes everything worse.

"Hyung, hyung," Bambam cries, reduced to that single word, and doesn't stop weeping until he falls back into a shallow sleep, having cried himself to exhaustion. Even in sleep, he still flinches and twitches often, occasionally tightening his grip on Jaebum's shirt like he's afraid someone will try to bodily tear him away from Jaebum.

Still holding Bambam in his arms, Jaebum scoots up along the bed until he can lean against the headboard, careful not to jostle Bambam back awake. He manages to doze off for a few hours with his head tipped back against the wall, and wakes up with a painful crick in his neck when Bambam shifts in his lap and whimpers. "You okay there?" he rasps, and Bambam startles at the rumble of Jaebum's chest against his own.

"I'm sorry" are the first words out of Bambam's mouth. "Hyung, I'm so sorry, I feel so bad - "

"Why would you feel bad?" Jaebum cuts him off, even though he never interrupts Bambam when the catboy musters the courage to talk. "It's not your fault that you had a nightmare." Or a shitty past owner, he adds in his head, his anger and disgust rising up again.

"I woke you up in the middle of the night," Bambam whimpers contritely.

Jaebum shakes his head before Bambam is even done with the sentence. "Do you think I mind that much? Bambam, you were crying out and shaking all over in your sleep, I didn't know how to wake you up without hurting you. I'm sorry if I scared you."

"No!" Bambam cries out. "You weren't scary, I swear. You were - you were really helpful. Once I realized it was you, it wasn't so bad. Your scent..." His voice trails off at the end, and he tries to hide his face against Jaebum again, this time not against some invisible foe in his mind.

"What about my scent?" Jaebum can't help but prod.

Bambam peeks up at him, so embarrassed it's cute. "You smell good to me," he says into the fabric of Jaebum's shirt. "Like warmth and home. It's different from what I'm used to, but comforting."

"Good," Jaebum says, disproportionately happy about that. He strokes his fingers through Bambam's hair and watches as the catboy closes his eyes to savor the sensation. The trembling has finally ceased, at least. "I'm glad."

They're quiet for a long moment. Bambam sighs a little against Jaebum's body, loosens his too-desperate grip on Jaebum's tank top, but doesn't move away. There's really never going to be a better time than now to bring it up, Jaebum thinks to himself, and says, "Bambam, I need to ask you about your past owner."

The change is instantaneous. Bambam seizes up, tail stiffening behind him, and whispers reluctantly, "What about him?"

Jaebum pets him until he relaxes back a little. "I know it's hard for you to talk about," Jaebum says softly. "But I need to know, so I can help you. Did he ever hit you? Or hurt you in any way?"

Bambam shivers. Jaebum can't see his face, can't see the emotions in his eyes when they're closed so tightly, but eventually, Bambam whispers, "Yes."

"A lot?" Jaebum can't help but follow up.

Another silence. Bambam doesn't answer this time, just presses his face more firmly against Jaebum and lets his lack of reply speak for itself.

Jaebum doesn't push him again, just lets the rhythm of his fingers lull Bambam back into relaxation, wondering if Bambam will fall back asleep if he doesn't want to keep talking. He's too alert to sleep again, though, his mind too full with images of the worst case scenario: this faceless past owner, striking Bambam, punishing him for no good reason. Bambam is so good, so earnest, there would be nothing to get angry at him for. He can't see reason in it.

"It wasn't too bad," Bambam says eventually, rewarding Jaebum's patience. "He wasn't... There were a lot of other catboys where I grew up. I thought - I thought it was normal, I didn't know most people only have one or two. And he would pick favorites and pay attention to more than others. Like - like Nichkhun." Jaebum doesn't comment on the unfamiliar name, waiting for Bambam to keep going. "But more attention meant bad attention, too. The time where he cared most was probably...probably during..."

"When?" Jaebum says, after Bambam stalls for too long. His voice seems to come out wrong, sticking in his throat.

"Probably during our heats," Bambam mumbles. "That's when he really cared about any one of us, if only for what we could do."

"Heats?" Jaebum repeats, too loud. He notices Bambam cringe from the sound of the word but he can't help it, can't help but feel furious at the very idea of Bambam being around that man when he's under the hazy influence of heat. He never even thought of the possibility, but if he tries to imagine it, he's going to be sick. Or he's going to go out and hunt the man down, and tear his hands off for ever laying them on Bambam's body.

"Yeah," Bambam says weakly. "He was never a very - very gentle partner. I think he only kept so many of us around because that way there'd always be someone at that time period."

Jaebum growls angrily and curls his arms around Bambam's body, can't help but think for the umpteenth time that Bambam is so small, so delicate. There's no way he could defend himself against someone so vile that they'd take advantage of catboys in heat. "There's no way you're going back to him, I swear. Bambam, I promise."

"I don't want to," Bambam whispers, the tremors beginning again. "I've never... I never had someone be like you before? The other catboys told me to just - treat heat as something I had to do. Just get past those days and he would go back to ignoring me, it wasn't a big deal. So when you - when you got so upset - "

"I must've freaked you out big time, huh," Jaebum says in horror. "Oh God, Bambam, I'm sorry."

"No, no, it wasn't you," Bambam says hurriedly, lifting his head and scrambling up so he can look Jaebum in the face. "I didn't...realize that having sex was something that important, and it's my fault, really."

"How can it be your fault?" Jaebum demands. "You've never known any better, and you never had the chance to."

"Yes, but - " Bambam cuts himself off, his usually cheerful features edged with frustration and embarrassment - and a determination to move past that embarrassment to tell Jaebum what he thinks. "Jaebum hyung, it's not yours, either! You showed me that it could, well, be something nice. Something to enjoy."

It's all very ironic, Jaebum thinks as he takes in Bambam's earnest face, that Bambam is the one trying to comfort him after Bambam was the one who had the horrible nightmare about his past owner. "Of course it's nice," he says softly. "It's something you share with someone you like, someone you're attracted to."

Bambam flushes. "I've never known what it was like to like someone, and I used to be scared of touching humans," he admits timidly, flicking an ear like it's a nervous tick. "But I think I like you, hyung."

He's so cute, he's seriously so cute Jaebum could die. "You're going to be the end of me," Jaebum tells him, and leans in to kiss the look of surprise at his statement off of Bambam's face, soft and easy.

When their lips meet, Bambam gasps into it, fingers scrambling for a hold on Jaebum's shoulders, but he whines in protest when Jaebum pulls back. "M-More?" he requests, shy. He doesn't release his grip on Jaebum's shoulders, like he's afraid Jaebum is going to push him away - but there's no chance of that, Jaebum will just have to prove it to him.

Jaebum gives him what he wants, of course, happy that Bambam wants it enough to open his mouth and ask for it. That mouth is a little busy now, though, as Jaebum cups the back of Bambam's head and gently coaxes him to tilt it to the side, letting their lips slide together more easily in this new angle. He lets Bambam take control and explore, this thing so new and sweet to him, and when they separate, it's only because Bambam needs air. "Feels good?" Jaebum asks, pressing a kiss to Bambam's temple because he can.

"Y-Yes," Bambam says, blushing harder than ever. The sun is beginning to rise outside, golden rays spilling their brilliance and warmth into the room they're in and onto Bambam's back, his shoulders and neck, and Jaebum doesn't feel tired at all even though he knows his lack of sleep will come back to bite him later. Sunrises are new beginnings, aren't they? Looking at Bambam, his radiant eyes and the outline of his cat ears traced with gold, Jaebum has no doubt this is their new beginning. It's cheesy as hell but he's surprised at how much he wants it - wants them.

"Looks like you're stuck with me," he whispers to Bambam, and Bambam only purrs at him in reply.

There's that one particular day, every month, that Jaebum dreads and hates with every fiber of his being, and now it's upon him - it's time to pay the bills.

For this month, it falls on a Sunday morning, and finds Jaebum in merely a t-shirt and boxers despite the winter cold, sitting at the kitchen table with his arms crossed and scowling down at the accounting books he tries his very best to keep together all month. He won't be distracted as he tries to figure out just where he can get the money to pay the rest of the bills, and Bambam knows better than to approach him, the confused catboy hovering anxiously in the doorway of the kitchen. It's a rather mundane task, and this is hardly the first time he's had to do it, but the stress and anxiety that comes with it always builds it up to a dramatic, painful event in Jaebum's head; Jinyoung used to laugh at him for it. But then again, that was during easier times, when two people paid the rent for a two-person apartment.

"Ungh," he groans, finally, when he concedes to the truth. He buries his face in his hands, shoulders slumping in defeat, and Bambam is at his side in an instant.

"Jaebum hyung? Are you okay?" Bambam asks, fretting so hard he's almost vibrating with it.

"Yeah, I'm okay," Jaebum sighs, and scoots his chair back so there's room for Bambam to sit on his lap. Bambam does so willingly, but not without blushing a little about it. "I need to take some from my savings for this month and work more next month, maybe call home for some help... I don't know, I'll figure it out."

Jaebum doesn't think Bambam will understand much of what he's saying, or the entire idea of having to pay to live in one place, when Bambam has lived as a pet with relative wealth around the humans for so much of his life. He still thinks there's value in telling him, though, and explaining what Bambam doesn't understand and just, point-blank, treating him like any other human; he didn't stop after the heat, didn't stop after the nightmare, and he doesn't intend to start anytime soon. Bambam appreciates it, he can tell.

"I hope it works out," Bambam says worriedly, peering at all of the papers and numbers and then glancing back at Jaebum's face.

"It'll be okay," Jaebum promises him, pecking him on the lips to comfort him, take his mind off of Jaebum's money troubles. Bambam makes a pleased noise and leans into him, chasing his lips for a proper kiss, and then pulls back. They tend to keep things decent for the most part - Jaebum because Bambam is still so achingly new to it all and he doesn't want to rush him, and Bambam because it seems like he isn't too sure how to ask for more, even when he does want it. And Jaebum doesn't ever want to make him do anything he doesn't explicitly want to do.

The previous morning, Jaebum had woken up with major morning wood, which was nothing new, really, and stumbled into the shower automatically, still half-asleep. Long story short, when jerking off under the sound buffer of the shower spray, he couldn't help but recall certain memories of his fingers working in and out of Bambam, or of the way that Bambam whimpered and moaned beneath him in time with Jaebum's thrusts, and soon Jaebum was coming a little too loudly, even with the water drowning him out. It hadn't been until he stepped out of his bathroom, mostly dressed and absently toweling off his hair, when he remembered that he had begun letting Bambam sleep in his bed with him to try and avoid repeats of the nightmare incident. And that Bambam could tell, from his keen cat senses, that Jaebum's heart rate was elevated, his skin flushed hot, after orgasm. And that, yes, Bambam's cat senses had enabled him to hear every muffled sound from Jaebum's shower, and now the catboy was peeking at him with red cheeks, burrowed in the middle of all of Jaebum's blankets, where they had once had sex. Sex that he had just gotten off to the thought of. Jaebum had wanted to melt into a puddle on the spot.

Neither of them brought it up, though, and Jaebum still doesn't, because he thinks that if he has to acknowledge it verbally, he'll die of mortification and remorse. Bambam doesn't either, even though he'd watched Jaebum with vaguely hopeful and - possibly, if Jaebum isn't imagining things - aroused eyes before Jaebum excused himself to go start making breakfast. And now they're like this, Bambam in Jaebum's lap when he's only in his boxers, but only allowing chaste kisses, mindful of the line that's been tacitly drawn between them. Jaebum doesn't mind too much, though; he would rather it be like this instead of something rushed, insincere.

The silver lining to the woeful task of paying the rent is that his lease is near its end, and Jaebum is free to start looking at cheaper options. "What do you think?" he asks Bambam later, when scrolling through a page about an apartment complex not far from Jackson and Mark's place. Judging from all the pictures, it doesn't look too shabby, especially for a price much more manageable for how much Jaebum works.

"It's nice?" Bambam says tentatively. He looks kind of shocked to be asked for his opinion, and shifts so he's closer to Jaebum's laptop screen. Jaebum's fully dressed, now, and they're on the couch together like usual, the television shut off this time. There's a novel on Bambam's lap instead, a simplified version of one of Jaebum's favorites he found among all the books on his shelves.

"It'd still be best if we could go see it, though," Jaebum decides, and sends an email to the landlord.

After collecting a few more promising-looking options, Jaebum calls it a day and goes back to reviewing hybrid laws, this time searching through the older amendments like Jinyoung suggested. It's been weeks since they started their search and they still have nothing, but his relationship with Bambam as of late is the best motivation for Jaebum to keep reading. If he wants to keep this happiness, this tentative sweetness, then reading through some stuffy legal jargon is nothing.

"Hyung, what does this say?" Bambam asks, an hour or two later. He holds his book up for Jaebum to read the words that have him pausing, saeng pa.

"That's short for saengil pati," Jaebum tells him. "Birthday party. See, it's the main character's birthday, and they're going to celebrate it with him."

"Birthday? What is that?" Bambam repeats in confusion.

Jaebum stares at him, surprised. "You don't know what a birthday is? That's the day you were born. It's a special day, because when it comes back around, you'll have gotten one year older. Like my birthday is January 6th, so I'll be one year older on that day."

"Ohh," Bambam says, nodding. "I see. So it's a good thing!"

"Yeah, it is," Jaebum says. "Do you know your birthday, Bambam?"

When Bambam shakes his head, Jaebum feels kind of heartsick, watching the catboy tuck himself back into the book and happily read about this little made-up character throw a party for his birthday, even though he's never felt that way in his entire life. Even though there's never been a day where Bambam woke up excited to be born, and spent the whole day feeling special, and got to have a cake and blow out the candles and make a wish. All of these mundane, ordinary things, and Bambam never got to experience it himself because he was treated as worse than a pet, kept only for his body. Jaebum swears to himself that the first thing he does once he figures out how to gain ownership of Bambam is that he'll find out what day Bambam was born and throw him the best birthday party ever, to make up for all the ones he missed.

They're both quiet as they continue reading. By the time Jaebum feels sleepy enough to give up, jot down his place and pick back up on the next amendment tomorrow, Bambam has already drifted off to sleep with his head in Jaebum's lap. Jaebum doesn't want to wake him up just yet, though, and rouses himself to read one last page.

It turns out to be the page that Jaebum has been looking for, after all this time, detailing how someone can fill out the specific paperwork and take ownership of an abandoned hybrid if and only if 60 full days (2 months) have passed without the hybrid's previous owner finding it and demanding it back. If the previous owner does not appear to collect their hybrid after the allotted 60 days, the new owner is allowed to send in newly filled out paperwork to the Department of Hybrid Affairs and assume their new ownership of the hybrid immediately. It's perfect, it's almost too easy. Jaebum can hardly believe it.

He manages to text Jinyoung with trembling fingers, directing him to the page number and asking him to verify its legitimacy. When he gets back a text saying hyung... i think this is it, Jaebum is gently shaking Bambam awake, unable to suppress his excitement when he whispers, "Look, look - I found it."

"Huh?" Bambam asks, disoriented in his sleepiness, but when Jaebum explains, his eyes grow wide. "But it - it's already been - "

Jaebum is already counting, going back to the Friday night when he found Bambam abandoned at the bus stop. "It's been 38 days," he says finally. "More than halfway there."

Bambam sits up immediately and flings his arms around Jaebum's neck, clinging tightly, repeating, "I want to stay with you, I want to stay with you, I want, I want," and all Jaebum can do is whisper back, "I know, me too," and bask in the very real possibility that they can have this. That they can stay together, with Jaebum as his rightful owner even in the eyes of the law, and Bambam can have a whole new life without ever worrying about his previous owner ever again. The thought is heady, better than the best drug in existence.

After Jaebum finds the law, there's not really much they can do besides print out the mentioned paperwork and fill it out to the best of their abilities. Jaebum figures out most of it and Bambam helps where he can, but besides that, it's just a whole lot of waiting and doing what they usually do. If there's a countdown on his cell phone for the day Jaebum can stop by the post office and mail out the envelope with the completed paperwork, Bambam's the only one who's seen it, and he can hardly blame Jaebum for his excitement when the thought of actually belonging Jaebum has him so emotional, Jaebum is afraid Bambam will cry.

Jaebum goes to school and work (for the latter, sometimes with Bambam in tow, to the vocal delight of everyone else on staff). Bambam reads his way through the collection of simplified books by what's probably sheer force of will and copious usage of a simple dictionary Jaebum picked up for him at his school's campus bookstore. In their off time, they still like to watch movies together, and Jaebum starts teaching Bambam how to cook, isn't too surprised when Bambam proves to be an excellent student, his sensitive nose perfect for the job. On the weekends, they'll check out possible new apartments, and Bambam finally gets to meet Mark.

"Maybe he won't like me," Bambam says worriedly on the way to Jackson and Mark's apartment; they were already in the area, checking out the rooms Jaebum had found online before, and Jackson had been eager to invite them over. Interaction with another catboy would be good for both Mark and Bambam, he promised.

"I find that hard to imagine," Jaebum tells him, laughing when Bambam pouts at him.

"You're biased!" Bambam accuses him, but he still doesn't let go of his hold on Jaebum's hand, fingers intertwined. He's too shy to really hold Jaebum's hand in public, or when they're on the subway, but when there's no one around to look at them oddly, he's surprisingly clingy, like any moment gone without touching Jaebum is a moment gone to waste. It feels nice to be wanted, and Jaebum wants nothing more than to reassure Bambam that he's here and he's not going anywhere.

Jaebum laughs and shrugs, checking Jackson's apartment number in his text messages with his free hand. "Maybe a little," he concedes. "We're here."

"Oh, no," Bambam says, his earlier nervousness back in full. He looks lovely anyways, Jaebum thinks, especially since Jaebum had finally gotten around to buying him new clothes so Bambam wouldn't have to wear Jaebum's sweats and other hand-me-downs all the time (though he still seems to prefer them, since they smell like Jaebum). Bambam's filled out some in these past weeks, no longer too skinny and fitting well into his new clothes, and he looks vibrantly happy nowadays. Jaebum loves it.

Jackson opens the door instantly at Jaebum's knock, thrilled to see them. "Come in, come in! I can't believe it took you two so long to visit together."

"It's good to finally visit," Jaebum laughs, and notices Bambam taking in the new, unfamiliar yet almost familiar scents with interest, ears perked and alert, tail relaxed and waving behind him. "This is Bambam."

"I've heard a lot about you, Bambam," Jackson says cheerfully. "Want to come meet Mark? He's inside."

Bambam nods vigorously. Jaebum trails behind as Jackson shows Bambam the way down the hallway and into Mark's room, worrying as Bambam disappears inside, but Jackson smoothly distracts him with snacks and conversation back in the living room. "Let's leave the kittens to their own thing, yeah?"

"Okay, okay," Jaebum says. Jackson seems confident the two catboys will get along, so Jaebum tries to borrow that trust and just settles in to talk to Jackson, who he gets along with even better than he really expects. Instead, he gets to hear about how Jackson came to buy a catboy in America out of all places, which was a wild adventure in itself involving a giant mix-up in plane flights and Jackson persuading Mark's past owner to pretty please sell him his red-haired catboy, he had fallen in love. The wealthy girl hadn't cared too much for all the effort that went into owning catboys, even though she had bought Mark and her other catboy only three weeks before, which was why Jackson knew all too well how quickly the elite got sick of the maintenance part of keeping a catboy. She had been all too willing to sell one of her burdens, and Mark hasn't been a burden ever since. Jaebum can tell that Jackson is the type to give his everything in all of his life endeavors, like he did in acquiring Mark in the past and loving Mark every day in the present. The evidence of how comfortably Mark lives is everywhere in the apartment, Jaebum can only hope he does this well for Bambam someday.

By the time Jaebum has to leave, or else he'll be late for work, they find Mark and Bambam curled up around each other and napping quietly. "Shit, that's cute," Jackson mutters, crossing the room to stroke his fingers through Mark's hair until the catboy wakes enough to squint at him.

"Jackson?" Mark yawns, delicately. He's always so graceful and quiet, Jaebum wonders what he and Bambam talked about when he heard the sounds of them conversing earlier.

"Time to let the little one go," Jackson tells him, fond as ever, and Mark frowns at him without pulling away from Bambam. Bambam snuffles in his sleep and huddles closer to Mark, and Jaebum wonders whether Mark is reminiscent of all the other catboys Bambam had around him while growing up, warm and comfortable. He's sort of jealous, if he's honest with himself; this is something he can never be for Bambam. But at least he found him Mark to fill that empty space in his life.

"He can stay a while longer, if you don't mind the intrusion," Jaebum offers. "I can swing by after work and pick him up. I'll even bring food if you want."

"That'd be great, actually," Jackson says, brightening, and Mark goes straight back to sleep once he hears the matter is settled. "Free food is always great."

Jaebum laughs and hurries off to work, apologizing to everyone when they're vocally disappointed Bambam didn't come with him today. The walk from Jackson's apartment building to the restaurant is longer than it is from his own apartment, but it's not that bad, definitely manageable. If Bambam can have cuddle sessions with a fellow catboy whenever his heart desires it, that apartment they looked at earlier today in Jackson's building is definitely a very attractive option. It'll be smaller than what he has now, but it's not like they need much - shelves of books, the television, a working kitchen and maybe not even more than one bedroom, given that Bambam won't sleep by himself anymore. It could work out.

The moment his shift is over, he grabs some food and bids everyone a quick goodbye, rushing back to Jackson's apartment to find everyone awake and waiting for him in the small dining space. "Food!" Jackson yells victoriously when he yanks open the door for Jaebum.

It turns into a party of sorts, with all the food in the middle and Jackson bringing out sofa and beer. Jaebum takes a Fanta, letting Bambam take a sip of the carbonated drink when he notices the catboy eyeing it curiously. When Bambam makes a startled noise at the bubbles, Jaebum can't help but laugh, watching fondly as Bambam wrinkles his nose at the weird sensation. "Not your thing?"

"No," Bambam says, shaking his head and frowning at Jaebum's soda can like it personally offended him.

Jackson has them crying from laughter with his endless repertoire of jokes and impersonations, even Mark, though he's bound to have heard them several times by now. The two of them still gravitate towards each other like they had the first time Jaebum saw them, bodies angled in the direction of the other and hands on hips, arms around shoulders. Jaebum's never seen anything like it. Even all of the human relationships he's ever known couldn't match up to this - everything he's seen since he met Bambam and now Mark defies what he's always been told, how catboys are nowhere as intelligent as their human counterparts, how they will always be governed by their animal instincts because they aren't pure human. Aren't actual people. But Jaebum hasn't seen anything more starkly human than the affection Mark feels for Jackson, it's so obvious in his eyes. He'd always thought only humans were foolish enough to love that strongly.

The night grows late and they have to go before the last subway train. In the near-empty subway car, Bambam leans against Jaebum in the plastic seats - no longer so confused and afraid when the subway starts moving like he had been the first time they took the public transport. When they reach their stop, Jaebum shakes him awake gently and half-pulls, half-leads Bambam out of the subway station, back above ground.

"Oh!" Bambam says in astonishment when they step outside, raising his hands into the air. The sleeves of Jaebum's old coat are too long and he hurriedly tugs them back to expose his fingers, his palms. "Look!"

"Oh, wow, it's snowing," Jaebum says, taking in the sight of all the little white snowflakes as they spiral down to earth. Snow always looks so fleeting and magical when it's falling, even though it's a pain in the mornings when Jaebum is rushing to get to the university and accidentally wore the pair of shoes. He tips his head back, too, taking in the sight - the snowflakes seem to glow, illuminated by the yellowy streetlights.

"I've never seen it snow like this before - it's so...pretty," Bambam says, wide-eyed and wondering, and stretches his hands out to try and catch all the snowflakes he can. They melt at once when they make contact with his warm hands, but Jaebum notices them settle intact on his ears and hair, glittering against the black fur. A haphazard crown of snow for the little prince.

Jaebum lets him marvel a little longer before continuing them on their way, worried that Bambam will catch a cold. Their apartment building is quiet, the elevator humming low in the background as they ascend to the third floor, and Jaebum is too relieved when he unlocks the door and sees everything in his home the exact way he left it. It's been a long day - class, looking at possible apartments, work, all that time with Jackson and Mark. That's not to say he didn't enjoy himself but sometimes a guy reaches a point where he just needs to rest, and Jaebum is definitely there.

Seeming to share the sentiment after a day much more eventful than he's used to, Bambam doesn't say anything when Jaebum suggests they go to bed, only obeys quietly and begins to go through his nightly routine. By the time Jaebum is done brushing his teeth and changing, Bambam is already in bed, watching him expectantly. He's wearing one of the shirts Jaebum gave him from his own closet, even though it's oversized and loose on his slender frame. The snow has all melted away.

"Hey," he says, once the light has been switched off and Jaebum has gotten into bed. He knows Bambam can see him better in the dim lighting, his human eyes adjusting even though Bambam's are already bright and clear, seeing him as more than the dark, indistinct shape Bambam is to him. Jaebum's used to it, though, knows his senses will never be as keen.

Bambam smiles at him, Jaebum more sensing the movement than seeing it. "Hi," he whispers back. After a moment of hesitation, he scoots forward and Jaebum automatically extends an arm to let Bambam pillow his head on Jaebum's bicep, snuggling close. "Hyung?"

"What is it?" Jaebum answers, a little too sleepy to talk. Bambam is so warm and comfortable against him, he can't really help himself as he begins to drift off.

"I was thinking..." Bambam cuts himself off and reconsiders. "I was talking to Mark ge today."

"Ge, huh?" Jaebum says, surprised to hear the Chinese, though he should've known Jackson would find a Chinese-speaking catboy. He doesn't remember much from his high school language classes, but that's one word he does recall. It's interesting to hear Bambam to use it.

Bambam nods but doesn't address it any further. "Mark ge told me..." he stops himself again. This time, Jaebum thinks he's blushing; he keeps avoiding Jaebum's gaze, even though Jaebum can hardly see it in the darkness around them.

Jaebum doesn't see it coming at all when Bambam lifts his chin and brings his lips to meet Jaebum's in the most shy, most tentative kiss Jaebum has ever experienced, so light Jaebum barely registered it before it was over - but that doesn't even matter, because Bambam just took the initiative to kiss him. His eyes snap open and he searches for Bambam's face, which Bambam has buried against his chest firmly. "Baby?" he asks in disbelief, no longer on the brink of dozing off. Maybe - maybe he just imagined it.

Bambam shivers at the endearment, but it's a good shiver, a pleased one. "Yes?" he whispers to Jaebum's collarbone in answer, like it's a secret rather than a proper reply.

"Will you do it again?" Jaebum requests, can't help himself. "You don't have to if you don't want to, but - I want you to." He shifts up onto one elbow, propping himself up, and Bambam looks up at him shyly like he's mustering the courage. Jaebum's given him an out, but it looks like Bambam isn't going to take it.

"O-Okay," he whispers at last, and stretches up again to bring their mouths together. It's careful and slow and so very tender, Jaebum curling his free hand against the back of Bambam's neck and holding it there, letting Bambam know he's there with the little strokes of his thumb along the column of Bambam's throat. Bambam whimpers against Jaebum's lips, and longing stirs in the pit of Jaebum's stomach, hot and deliberate. He always tastes so sweet, it makes Jaebum want more.

Bambam's hands tighten in the fabric of Jaebum's shirt and pull him in, probably without the catboy even realizing it, and Jaebum just lets himself be guided, tugged forward and closer, closer. He braces his elbows on both sides of Bambam's head and dips in to kiss him again, Bambam opening his mouth this time as if in welcome, and there's no way Jaebum can resist such a lovely invitation. "You are so - " he mutters roughly, but doesn't have the word to encompass Bambam like this, eyes dark and mouth wet and red.

"Hyung," Bambam whines, and Jaebum gives him what he wants, kissing him again. And again. And along the soft curve of his jaw, under his eyes, on the slope of his neck with a small nip that has Bambam arching in surprise under him. Then back to his lips, back to hot longing. They kiss and kiss, and it isn't until Bambam ruts a little against Jaebum's hip, searching for friction, when Jaebum comes back to his senses and forces himself to back away.

"Sorry," he gasps out, filled with guilt at the sight of Bambam's kiss-swollen lips and confused eyes. "Sorry, Bambam, I went too far."

"I didn't say anything, though," Bambam says, lost at this sudden turn of events. "You - you didn't have to stop."

Jaebum sits back on his heels and runs a hand through his hair, and the cold air around him helps cool his head somewhat. "I don't want to rush things between us and mess them up," he says finally. "You mean too much to me to do that." This is the most they've touched, the farthest they've gone, ever since Bambam's heat barely less than a month ago; Jaebum's been freaking out to himself for the last couple days, wondering when Bambam's next one will arrive and whether he's ready for it.

"But - " Bambam looks at his face in frustration and scrambles to sit up, too; Jaebum hurriedly finds a blanket to throw around his slight shoulders, and tries very hard not to look at the tenting between Bambam's legs. "But Jaebum hyung, I - I talked to Mark ge about it, about this," he waves an arm around between them vaguely, "and he told me that he and Jackson...have sex all the time. Even when he's not in heat. Because they like each other. That's normal, right?"

"Yeah," Jaebum concedes. "It is."

"Well, so do we," Bambam says earnestly despite his flushed cheeks. "And I want this, I really do. I told you before, hyung. Why - why can't we - "

Jaebum knows he's blushing, too, his face and neck awfully hot, but he can't help but appreciate how hard Bambam's trying to talk to him about this. "I get it," he says. "I do. Bambam, it's not that I don't want you, okay? It won't ever be that. I just...don't want us to do something we think we want and end up regretting it afterwards. I don't want it to be so awkward and distant that we can't fix it again." He remembers that too well, and the guilt weighs on him for a moment.

"I don't think I could even possibly regret it," Bambam tells him seriously.

"Neither could I," Jaebum admits, unable to resist kissing him chastely for that. Bambam makes a little eager sound in the back of his throat and kisses back immediately, pressing up against Jaebum's chest.

In the end, though, it's just that Jaebum is going to need some more time to get through this in his head, overcome the weight of the remainder they have until they reach 60 blissful days together. He just needs some time and mental space to convince himself that Bambam really does mean it when he says yes to him. It needs to be special, and perfect, and Jaebum wants to worship his body right and show Bambam that it means much more than what it does during his heats. And he fully intends to do so.

Bambam is understanding, at least, nodding as Jaebum struggles to express the knot in his chest as words, and he brightens when Jaebum tells him yes, he still wants to kiss Bambam very much. All the time. Whenever Bambam wants to. They fall back asleep with Bambam curled up against Jaebum's body, sharing their warmth - untouched by the winter outside.

part five
Tags: au: catboys, fandom: got7, pairing: jb/bambam
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