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When You Need A Hand

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(Jun 25) Summertime blanketed the woods like a wet towel and smelled similar. It smelled like Yunhyeong mostly, but like Donghyuk when he took the shortcut through the park in the rain. Like moss and the cat Junhoe liked to hang out with near the wooden bench. Like dirt and walked foot trails. Hanbin’s ear twitched, could not stop catching the gentle tune of a guitar played on a balcony somewhere in the nearby neighbourhood. Distant and ghostly. He kept sniffing. The woods smelled plentiful and deep.

He focused, continuing on the search. Donghyuk ran ahead and insisted he knew where he was, where they were when he lost track of him. Hanbin just tried to be the anchor in the dirt as the pack slipped and bounded through it.

“I got him!”

Yunhyeong’s voice sounded like a slipped bow-induced note screeching across the strings of a violin. Hanbin tuned out the distant guitar and hyper-focused on where the voice came from. Jinhwan sped forward from behind him in full-wolf form, though Hanbin was forgoing it for the time being, needed more control over his fine motor functions to feel like a competent expedition leader. He followed as close behind and he could.

They came upon a steep hill, Hanbin barely throwing out an arm in time to keep Junhoe, also in full-wolf form, from tumbling down. Bobby lied at the bottom next to a rock, still in his own wolf skin.

Donghyuk ran up the side of the incline, all juice-diet and core strength and adrenaline, kicking dirt down onto Yunhyeong and Bobby on the ground. Yunhyeong made a scrunching expression. Hanbin hoped Donghyuk was not expecting a compliment for finding Bobby in the same place he dropped him. Jinhwan carefully crawled his way down.

Well fuck,’ Junhoe cursed, still in full-wolf form, and Hanbin was startled at the barking sound.

Hanbin made a growling sound in response, and although it did not carry the same lingual significance in a human throat, it conveyed the right feeling. You’re not helping. Junhoe rolled his eyes and licked his snout. He really looked like a punk at the moment, dark hair all spiked up due to the moisture in the air.

“He’s out cold,” Yunhyeong announced. He stood over Bobby in a loose outfit, worn to make the shift easy. “We need to get him some help.”

Chanwoo, in half-wolf form – and loose clothes as well – spoke, “Why is he unconscious? Don’t we have accelerated healing?”

“We’re not superhumans, kid,” Hanbin explained. Chanwoo was still getting the hang of the wolf thing. “He’s probably just lucky to be alive.” Hanbin felt the words catch in his throat, swallowed them harshly. “You need me down there?”

“Depends,” Yunhyeong examined the wolf. He was just lying there, but breathing, and he was wearing a loose shirt and sweatpants with a hole for the tail, so they could be fairly sure it was Bobby. Hanbin was not sure what more there was to find. “Do you think his neck is broken?”

Hanbin’s stomach dropped and he held down the bile. He was outwardly not impressed by the question and all but rolled his eyes. “He’d be dead or disfigured. Hayi taught me that much.”

Yunhyeong nodded, and his lips curled into a contemplative frown as he looked back down at Bobby. Jinhwan took Bobby’s scruff in his mouth and started dragging Bobby towards the steep hill.

“Hey, Jinhwan hyung,” Yunhyeong held out a hand to stop him. “You don’t want him to get hurt even more.”

Jinhwan, the stubborn thing he was, made a gruff sound with his nose and continued backing up, defiantly pulling Bobby along.

Hanbin sighed. “Jinan,” Hanbin called. “Let Yunhyeong and Donghyuk help. One of them will carry him and the other one will push. You’ll pull from the front.”

“Excuse me,” Donghyuk raised his hand. “But does that mean one of us has to have Bobby on top of them? He’s heavy. I don’t want to be the one under him.”

“Relax,” Chanwoo said, crossing his arms. “Hanbin hyung does it all the time.”

Jinhwan’s jaw dropped, and Bobby fell from it, landing limply on the ground. Junhoe literally howled in laughter, and Donghyuk and Yunhyeong slowly broke down as well.

Hanbin heated up in rage, ears and nose twitching irritably. “You know what? Change of plans. Chanwoo, you get to practice the full shift today.”

Chanwoo’s smile fell and his wolf ears drooped.

Hanbin organized the rescue team as best he could. Jinhwan again took Bobby by the scruff at the back of his neck. Yunhyeong changed into his full-wolf form. Chanwoo (full-wolf form) nosed at Bobby’s butt and pushed him onto Yunhyeong’s back while Jinhwan pulled at the other end. Once Bobby was draped over Yunhyeong, Jinhwan continued pulling, helping take some of Bobby’s weight up the hill. Chanwoo stayed behind and pushed Yunhyeong’s butt with the side of his neck, whimpering all the while.

It was quite a sight to see: Three wolves in human loungewear, two only dressed in their fur coat, one in half-wolf form acting as Hanbin’s anxious co-expeditor, one bearing the weight of two wolves by a wolf-butt, all assisting to help an unconscious wolf up a cliff-side. This was Hanbin’s pack. This was his pride and joy.

Once they got a decent amount of the way up the perilous hill, Junhoe pitched in, biting down on Jinhwan’s tail and tugging. It was useless, but at least he tried.

Hanbin held Jinhwan by his scruff, and Donghyuk grabbed Bobby’s fur to help Chanwoo, to assist in pulling him up.

Eventually, the team managed to pull all the werewolves over the edge of the hill and onto elevated ground. Jinhwan smacked Junhoe with a paw and licked at his injured tail. Junhoe nosed at it apologetically and got another paw in the face. Chanwoo walked three steps and collapsed, wheezing and complaining.

Hanbin gave him a supportive but sarcastic pat on the back and said, “Good work, maknae.” Chanwoo huffed.

“Assuming we didn’t just kill him,” Donghyuk spoke, “we really need to get Bobby hyung some help now.”

Hanbin swallowed down his panic again and nodded. “Let’s go, I need to get signal somewhere.”

Jinhwan insisted on carrying Bobby the whole way to the edge of the forest on his own back. At the van, all the wolves (barring Bobby) shifted back into their human forms. Chanwoo got into the van with Donghyuk. Yunhyeong and Junhoe helped to lay Bobby across Donghyuk and Chanwoo’s laps. Hanbin and Junhoe jumped into the middle seats, Yunhyeong called shotgun and Jinhwan hopped into the front seat to drive.

Jinhwan quickly pulled his pants and shirt on, forgoing underwear. “Call Hayi,” he said.

The pack usually just wore loose clothes to make the shift easy – over-sized shirts, baggy sweats, commando – but Jinhwan and Junhoe had run out in a panic when Donghyuk burst in yelling about losing Bobby in the woods, and they just all sort of ran out. While the others were in relaxed clothes, Jinhwan and Junhoe had been dressed up to go out, so they had just left their clothes in the car.

“Already doing it,” Hanbin confirmed. To Junhoe, he said, “You get dressed too, you naked freak,” and then he put the phone to his ear. Junhoe sighed loudly and reluctantly struggled to pull his skinny jeans back on.

After a few rings, their emissary answered, grumpily, “What.”

“Bobby fell down a hill and hit his head on a rock and is currently unconscious.” Not what Hanbin wanted to happen in the dead of night either, but there they were.

He heard the sound of Hayi gasp, heard bedsheets rustle. “Bring him here.”

“We’re on our way,” Hanbin confirmed, and hung up.

They drove straight to Hayi’s house, and Hayi welcomed them at the door. She already had a blanket and pillow laid out in the foyer. The pack gently set Bobby down on the makeshift bed.

The emissary immediately got to work, eyes still heavy from sleep. Her hair was tousled and sticking up in every which direction, falling into her face. Hanbin stood behind her and held her hair back, and Hayi thanked him. Yunhyeong was sent to find a hair tie.

She carried out her examination. Having received the hair tie, Hanbin tied her hair up while she worked. At the end of it, she had a messy ponytail and her preliminary results.

“We’ll keep him in the home infirmary overnight,” Hayi said. “I’ll do whatever I can, and I’ll get Taehyung over here. He was injured as a wolf, right?”

“Yeah,” Donghyuk confirmed. “We were playing.”

“Who goes out running in the woods at night?” Junhoe shook his head. “Seriously…”

“We were blowing off some steam,” Donghyuk argued. “You could afford to exercise every now and again.”

“I’m not going to go out into the woods and—”

Hayi cut in, “Guys…”

“We were just playing and we—”

“He has broken bones.”

Donghyuk and Junhoe turned to Hayi. “What?”

Hayi sighed and shook her head. “I don’t want to jostle him or drag him, I felt broken bones in his arms. It’s lucky his neck isn’t hurt. Can you guys help me carry him to the infirmary? It’s just around the corner.”

Hanbin nodded, organized his team once more. Hayi called Taehyung, the 24-year-old veterinarian-in-training that treated werewolves on the downlow. Hayi was a great emissary to the pack, but in terms of her as a medical practitioner, her specialty lied in alchemy and digestive teas.

Bobby was set down on the white bed in the infirmary next to the kitchen, a converted dining room closed off by French doors. Hayi’s parents came downstairs then, sleepy and apprehensive. Hayi explained the situation to the two tea-store owners and they headed back up to bed. Hanbin wondered what it must have been like on the night their daughter told them she’s a witch doctor for things that go bump in the night.

But back to the current issue at hand – Yunhyeong and Hanbin adjusted Bobby on the bed, pillow under his fluffy head, blanket pulled up over his body. “How’s his temperature?”

“He’s totally fine in that regard,” Hayi said. “Don’t worry.”

“Why hasn’t he woken up?” Chanwoo asked. He looked so nervous, Hanbin almost felt bad for how he treated the kid earlier. This must have been a big first crisis for the little – or, big but young – guy.

Hayi said, “He’s in a coma. He’s probably healing a concussion while he sleeps. Accelerated healing is good, but not that good. The process time varies. Taehyung and I will keep a close eye on him and make sure he recovers well, try to have him back home in a few days.”

“Thank you,” Hanbin said. His heart was absolutely racing, and if his pack was not tuning it out, they would be able to hear it. He wondered what the point of appearing strong was if everyone knew he was freaking out like some teenaged puppy on the inside. For dignity? For what dignity? He wished he was better.

As if reading his mind, Hayi placed a hand on Hanbin’s arm. “You did really well. The whole pack seems calm and in order. That’s not easy in a crisis.”

Hanbin shrugged and said, “They’re good people.”

Hayi said, “You’re a good leader.”

Hanbin swallowed. He placed his hand on Hayi’s arm and squeezed. “Please take care of him.”

He was not confident, not strong, did not actually know what he was doing. He always just needed to take control of the situation and do his best in the moment, whether Donghyuk was choking on a chicken bone, Chanwoo was crying because of a nightmare, or Bobby was healing a smashed skull.

Hanbin shivered and his stomach turned.

Hayi nodded and said, “I know I can’t tell you not to worry, but I will take care of him.”

Hanbin nodded again and herded his pack out of the room. He cast one final glance in Bobby’s direction, looked over the boy’s messy, matted black fur and dried blood crusted along the side of his face. He saw how small Bobby looked, even at 180 centimeters in length. Moonlight blanketed him like a silver salve.

Yeobo, Bobby and Hayi’s cat, grey as the moon herself, strutted through the doors. She jumped on the bed and lied down next to Bobby.

Hanbin blinked to keep the tears at bay and left.

Chanwoo walked alongside Hanbin with his head hanging. “I’m sorry for teasing you earlier, hyungnim.”

Hanbin let out a heavy breath. He put an arm around Chanwoo’s shoulders, slumped low enough for Hanbin to reach around them. A leader is only as strong as his team, can only function if his team can hold it together. He never regretted recruiting Chanwoo. “We needed it at the time. It kept our heads clear. Good work.”

Chanwoo straightened out and looked at Hanbin with wide, shining eyes. He even smiled a little.

Hanbin reassured, “But you’re a real brat.”

Chanwoo gave an insincere laugh and hung his head again.

Hanbin, heart still pounding against his ribs, heavy and exhausted, led his pack home and put them to bed. Jinhwan kissed Junhoe on the cheek, apparently deciding that the grudge was not worth it tonight. The boys fell asleep in Jinhwan and Yunhyeong’s room. Hanbin fell asleep in Bobby’s bed, alone.

-♥-

In a way, Hanbin supposed that it was that nice university was out for the summer, because it meant the whole pack could be together in these trying times. Chanwoo still attended high school and lived with his parents, but was welcome to visit at any time. He should arrive soon, actually. As much as Hanbin had wanted Chanwoo there for the night, he could just not snatch a boy from his parents in the night. He had dealt with emotionally traumatized parents before, ones who begged his previous alpha to let their child come home, unsure if he was safe or kidnapped or dead, and Chanwoo was actually Hanbin’s fault, so… he went home. The werewolf thing is a big adjustment for most families.

Hanbin woke up first to an empty bed, an empty room. He kind of felt like his heart was empty too. He hoped Bobby would be okay.

Yunhyeong had already made breakfast by the time Hanbin trudged out of his room, and Jinhwan sat at the kitchen table, drinking coffee with Junhoe and Donghyuk, all still in their pajamas. In a way, he supposed it was bad that university was out for the summer, because Donghyuk and Junhoe had moved in from their dorms, and having six guys live in a two bedroom apartment was crowded, especially at mealtimes.

“Move over,” Hanbin complained. Junhoe, ostensibly deciding he would rather not deal with the bad vibes, bitchfaced and left the room. Jinhwan folded up the morning paper, sighed, and carried his coffee out to the living room to sit on the couch with Junhoe. Hanbin took a now empty seat.

“Good morning, sunshine,” Yunhyeong said, and sat down at the table with his food. “Are you hungry?”

“Not really,” Hanbin said, swollen lips in a pout. He pushed a grain of salt around on the table with a wolf claw.

Guiltily, Donghyuk put down his fruit juice and whole-grain toast and hung his head in shame. Hanbin acknowledged the sentiment and went back to his salt.

Bobby, Bobby, Bobby. Bobby was usually on his mind. It usually hurt. But this was unusual, a new hurt, and Hanbin could not compartmentalize his thoughts and feelings to cope with it.

If Bobby died it would be his fault no matter how much he wanted to blame it on Donghyuk. He was the alpha, their leader, they were his responsibility. If Bobby died then Hanbin would lose his best friend.

Just as the Anxiety Death threatened to undertake him, there came a knock at the door. Probably Chanwoo. Hanbin got up to answer it.

Bobby stood in the doorway in the spare t-shirt and sweatpants they had kept at Hayi’s place for emergencies. A dumb, stupid stretched over his entire face, and bandage wrapped around his dumb, stupid head. Hanbin stood there, stunned. Bobby said, “Hi!”

Hanbin was so fucking mad. He could not have grabbed Bobby, yanked him inside, and hugged him hard enough. But damn it, he hugged as hard as he could.

“Ah, my…” Bobby gasped. “My ribs are broken.”

“Ah!” Hanbin quickly released him.

Bobby was still smiling. “Don’t worry, just two on this side,” he gestured to his right set of ribs. It was then Hanbin noticed that both of Bobby’s hands, wrists, and forearms were completely wrapped up in strategically knotted bandages.

Before Hanbin could say anything else, the pack bounded in, tripping over themselves and each other. Hanbin appreciated the fleeting moment they had given the two alone, for whatever that was worth.

Jiwon!

Donghyuk ran and jumped at them. Hanbin let out an involuntary screech and pushed Donghyuk to the floor before he could tackle Bobby. Donghyuk landed with a distinctive thud that echoed through the room. Yunhyeong and Jinhwan gasped and froze.

Hands up, Hanbin defended, “He has broken bones! Just… take it easy!”

Donghyuk picked himself up off the floor, rubbed his tailbone, and sent Hanbin a judgmental, but understanding bitchface. Hanbin hung his head, proverbial tail between his legs, and stepped aside. The pack swarmed and coddled Bobby while Hanbin supervised the interaction from a safe, non-emotionally-invested distance, and pouted.

Junhoe and Bobby shared a quick Christian side-hug. Then Bobby looked frantically around the room, and asked, “Where’s Chanwoo?”

“He’s at home,” Yunhyeong said. “I just texted him to get over here.”

“Ah, good!” Bobby’s eyes disappeared behind his smile again. “I love that kid.”

Hanbin did not know why his melodramatic heart had to scream whenever Bobby mentioned his love for another person, but, alas. Hanbin seethed.

“So what’s going on?” Donghyuk asked. “Where are you in the healing process?”

“Ah,” Bobby explained, “I’m doing well! I woke up pretty early this morning. Hayi made sure to give me lots of moonlight and like, a moonstone witchcraft ritual… thing. So I healed well overnight. I’m gonna make a full recovery!” He beamed, and everyone cheered.

“How long?” Jinhwan asked.

“My ribs should take about two weeks, and my wrists should take around four. Taehyung said my skull fracture is pretty simple and will heal on its own since it’s not depressed, but they can’t give me an exact time frame. Maybe a week.”

Hanbin blinked in confusion. Luckily, Junhoe muttered to Jinhwan for him, “Your skull can be sad?” to which Jinhwan mumbled back, “It means his skull didn’t cave in,” to which Junhoe said ‘ah’ and nodded, and the pack pretended they did not have heightened hearing.

“Hayi said she would try to have you home in a few days, though.” Hanbin raised an eyebrow.

Bobby shrugged and said, “I didn’t want to wait that long.”

“Alright,” Hanbin asserted himself once again. “That means you need to rest here to make sure the healing process goes well.”

“Dude,” Bobby immediately argued. “I can’t just stay in bed for a month.”

“You’re staying in bed for a week,” Hanbin said, crossing his arms. “And after that, you’re housebound. The convenience store is fine. No woods. No gym.”

“NO GYM?!” Donghyuk and Bobby demanded in unison.

Hanbin narrowed his eyes. What the fuck would Bobby even do at the gym in this state. “No. And that’s not all. Both of you are grounded.”

“Grounded from what?” Donghyuk asked, frowning and drooping.

Hanbin thought about it. He wanted to teach them a lesson that would stick. Hm. “No…” he went over the situation, and aha! came up with a decent punishment, “No Bobby.”

Donghyuk demanded, “NO BOBBY?!”

Hanbin turned to Bobby and said, “And no Donghyuk.”

HEY!” Bobby argued.

Hanbin pointed a stern index finger and said, “That’s that!”

Donghyuk and Bobby’s shoulders fell in sorrowful unison.

Great, now that everyone was reminded of who wielded the Alpha Dick in this family, Hanbin squared his shoulders and addressed the lot of them. “Since Bobby-sshi is officially bedridden—” Bobby made an unhappy groaning noise, “—the pack will rotate being his bedside nurses.”

Yunhyeong lit up. “I’ll make an excel document.”

Hanbin nodded vaguely in his direction, “Yeah, just try and keep it in your pants, Yun hyung.” He again addressed the whole group, “Do I make myself clear?”

Everyone mumbled in the affirmative. Yunhyeong then skipped to his bedroom, presumably to acquire his laptop.

Donghyuk, letting out an emphatic sigh, said, “I’ll take the first shift, since this is mostly my fault.”

Hanbin said, “Noble, but you’re grounded.”

Donghyuk sighed, “This is cruel and unusual.”

Bobby agreed, “Seriously.”

Hanbin said, “Junhoe will take the first shift.”

Junhoe asserted, “THIS IS CRUEL AND UNSUAL.”

Yunhyeong reentered the living room, laptop open in his hands. He sat on the couch and typed. Junhoe smelled angrier upon realizing that was probably his name written into the schedule.

Bobby asked, “Wouldn’t it be better if someone else took care of me? No offense,” he quickly raised his bandage stubs as an action of peace, “I just mean, you don’t look… excited.”

Junhoe sighed. “It’s fine.”

“Being a pack means being there for each other in our times of need,” Hanbin said. Junhoe had the decency to look visibly moved, and he looked down. Hanbin continued, “Junhoe, remember when you cried about dance class and Jiwon hyung hugged you and told you everything would be okay?”

Junhoe and Bobby both flushed pink. Junhoe muttered, “Yes.”

“Good,” Hanbin smiled, “and I’m sure everyone in this room can think of one good reason to care about Jiwon.”

“That’s touching,” Jinhwan commented, voice coloured by sarcasm, but Hanbin ignored that.

“So let’s all band together and help our packmate recover,” Hanbin finished his pep talk.

Bobby looked very shy and very embarrassed, mortified even, so Hanbin felt his job was done here.

The pack was then excused, and they all ventured into the kitchen to eat breakfast and talk about… valerian root, apparently, last time Hanbin tuned into the conversation. He promptly tuned out at the mention of bone reconstruction. He figured he would have to hear about that later anyway, but he would rather hear it from Hayi or Taehyung. Hanbin sat on the couch with Yunhyeong to make the schedule.

Sometime later, another knock was heard at the door. Hanbin could already smell it was Chanwoo. Oh, he suddenly remembered, he could not smell Bobby from that distance anymore? The guy was probably saturated in medication, inside and out. Maybe Hayi enchanted him to help him heal. Hanbin hoped it wore off soon.

Hanbin did not even have a chance to plant his feet on the floor and attempt to stand before Bobby and Donghyuk reached the door. Bobby apparently remembered that he did not have any use of his hands at the last moment, skidded, and crashed into the door. Hanbin winced. Hayi had spiritually fortified that wood to strengthen it against attackers.

Although Bobby seemed fine, Hanbin raised his voice to say, “You’re supposed to be healing!” but his censure was drowned out by the happy cheers of Donghyuk, Bobby, and Junhoe, and Chanwoo, who was now inside.

Hanbin grumbled. He wanted to join in on the fun, but he had leader stuff to do, like pretending to understand Microsoft Excel, ugh.

Jinhwan walked over to the couch, coffee still in his hand, and gently sat down. “Don’t be so grouchy,” he said. “You were a kid once.”

Without taking his eyes off the screen, Hanbin replied, “I was born at age nineteen.”

Jinhwan sipped his coffee and said, “Of course.”

The sound of bodies hitting the floor, and not in the fun Lil Jon way, alerted Hanbin to the scene unfolding. Junhoe and Chanwoo were rolling around on the floor, Chanwoo’s wolf ear in between Junhoe’s still very human teeth.

Ju-ne,” Hanbin scolded, “stop being kinky.”

Junhoe spit out Chanwoo’s ear, disgusted, as if realizing it was in his mouth for the first time. Chanwoo’s nose scrunched in equal disgust, and his ear twitched, probably to rid itself of Junhoe slobber.

Hanbin remembered being young. He remembered losing control so easily like that.

He was the second wolf bitten for the New Pack, right after Jinhwan. Bobby was third. They were such children then, set off by the slightest poke to the ribs, the softest giggle. They would jump each other on the bed and wrestle until the mattress was destroyed and the blanket was left in torn ribbons of fabric, they would dent the floors and the walls, break furniture, (one antique), fight until covered in blood and grass stains, cotton stuck to their hair…

Jinhwan and Hanbin matured before Bobby did, but Hanbin was the youngest, and Bobby kept him young.

Hanbin remembered Bobby laughing with him about something funny, a joke they made about something that happened at school. Bobby nudged his shoulder, and Hanbin tackled him. Bobby laughed wildly as they rolled around on the floor of Hanbin’s childhood bedroom, Hanbin a still a senior in high school at the time and Bobby in his first year of university. They destroyed two of their notebooks, a quarter of a rug, and quite nearly the leg of Hanbin’s desk before Bobby pinned Hanbin to the paper-littered floor by his wrists. Hanbin caught his breath, looked up at Bobby with a smile. Bobby looked down, smile on his own cheeks, and a far-reaching twinkle in his eye, something that went to the moon and back.

Hanbin’s heart raced. Bobby kept him going.

“You good?” Yunhyeong laughed.

“Yeah,” Hanbin said. He rubbed his eye with his fist. “Just tired.”

“You’ve worked hard,” Jinhwan complimented. “Go rest. Your shift doesn’t start until tonight.”

With a wistful, angry feeling in his heart, like something had been taken from him, Hanbin nodded. He stood up to head to his room.

Bobby jogged in front of Hanbin on the way there. Hanbin startled to a stop.

Bobby said, “I’m gonna be okay, Bin,” and smiled a dumb, stupid smile.

Hanbin nodded stiffly, tried to push past Bobby as gently as he could.

Bobby stopped him again with his bandage stump. “And… I’m sorry,” he said, and the smile fell off his cheeks. “I know you worried.” Hanbin’s heart leapt into his throat and he swallowed it down. “I didn’t mean to do that to you. I’m seriously gonna be fine though, alright? So please don’t worry.”

Hanbin sniffled, and oh no, he was not doing this, he was not crying about this now. Bobby was literally fine. He could stress-cry in the dead of night under the uncaring eyes of God, like always.

“Hey,” Bobby’s voice was soft and… a little husky, Hanbin thought. Hanbin laughed at the pun he made in his own head.

Bobby smiled softly at Hanbin’s laugh. He wrapped Hanbin up in a hug, much gentler than the one Hanbin had inflicted upon him. It took a moment, but Hanbin fell into it, just as gentle. He buried his face in Bobby’s shoulder.

“You’re an idiot,” Hanbin whispered.

“I know,” Bobby whispered back.

Hanbin’s heart bled dry and his stomach burst into a flurry of a hundred honeyed butterflies. He grabbed the back of Bobby’s shirt so tight he made new holes with his claws in the fabric. Bobby petted Hanbin’s back in return. Hanbin inhaled, as deeply as he could, to catch Bobby’s scent mingled with the medicine.

“Go rest,” Bobby nuzzled his nose against Hanbin’s temple.

Hanbin kissed Bobby’s cheek. Bobby pulled away, scrunched his nose, hunched his shoulders and weakly snuffled in Hanbin’s direction, as per his usual reaction to Hanbin’s kisses.

This was the usual hurt.

“You rest too,” Hanbin said, and pointed a finger to prove he was serious.

Bobby, still blushing and reluctant to engage him any further due to the physical contact, just snuffled again and bashfully snapped his wolf jaws at Hanbin. He was quickly smiling at the floor again. The wolf in Hanbin howled for more affection as he accepted what his life was, who this person was, (and who they were not), and shut his bedroom door behind him.

-♥-

Since Hanbin and Bobby roomed together, Hanbin agreed that it would be fine for him to take the night shifts for Bobby. Jinhwan excused himself and gave Hanbin a pat on the shoulder as he left. Bobby had been laughing, but quieted and looked down when Hanbin entered. Hanbin had avoided putting them both in the same room all day. He supposed they both felt awkward.

“Do you need anything?” Hanbin asked on impulse.

Bobby looked up, blinked. “Oh, no, that’s okay,” he smiled. “I can still use my hand stubs.”

Hanbin sighed. “But you shouldn’t be using your hands at all.”

Bobby shrugged. “I can’t be helpless. And I cannot have a bathroom attendant.”

“Point taken, but not my issue,” Hanbin said. “Stop trying to type.”

Bobby pouted and pushed the very tip of his claw down onto another key. His hands were entirely bandaged, his wolf claws only poking through the top of the fabric. If he had been pressing all the keys individually for the whole time he had been using his laptop, well then, Hanbin could only admire his determination. He let it go, accepting that he could not very well just tie Bobby down to the bed.

Oh. That was a Bad Thought. He quickly stopped thinking about that.

Some time passed, and Hanbin finally decided it was time to forcibly herd Bobby into bed. Bobby sighed and logged off his computer, took his earphones off his neck, and Hanbin scolded him once again for picking up and carrying objects when he was not supposed to. Bobby grumpily dropped the headphones on the desk with a clattering sound.

He stood up, attempted to move his arms, then stopped. “Hey,” Bobby said. “Can you take my clothes off?”

Hanbin’s eyes widened. “Pardon?”

“Can you…?” Bobby pushed up his shirt. “Help me?”

“Uh…” They had been naked around each other before, of course, but Hanbin could not really remember a time he had… disrobed the other boy. The worst he had done was a jovial pantsing. This was a new concept.

He swallowed dryly, stood up to do his job. “Sure.”

“You can leave my boxers on,” Bobby smiled shyly. “I’ll handle that myself. If I’m almost naked it’ll be easier to shower tomorrow morning.”

Hanbin sighed. “You don’t have to do that alone.”

“I have two broken wrists, I’ll be a nuisance,” Bobby said. “Besides, it’s so hard to pee in the toilet like this. I need some space.”

“Sometimes I hate that you can’t lie to me,” Hanbin sighed. “You’re cleaning the whole bathtub when your wrists heal.”

“Won’t it be too late by then?”

“Not the point.”

“I know.”

Hanbin carefully grabbed the bottom of Bobby’s shirt, pulled upwards. Bobby raised his arms, and Hanbin pulled the shirt off as gently as he could. The fabric got caught slightly on Bobby’s bandages, as Hanbin was too concerned about hurting Bobby should he tug. He just stood there, shirts in his hands, linking him to the other boy. He stared at Bobby’s hands, a little past to the band of his boxers, at the smooth skin under his navel…

Bobby slightly pulled his arms backwards, causing Hanbin to look up. Bobby’s head was tilted, and he stared at Hanbin, eyes soft and shining. A tiny smile tugged at one corner of Bobby’s lips. The moonlight was so good to him.

“Bin,” he said, and tugged again on the fabric that bound them.

Right, Hanbin returned his gaze to the issue at hand. “Let me know if I’m hurting you, alright?”

Bobby laughed softly and said, “I’m hurting all over. This won’t make much of a difference.”

Hanbin’s heart hurt for the boy. “You’re a stupid idiot,” he said, eyebrows furrowed.

“I know,” Bobby said.

Hanbin coaxed the shirt over Bobby’s bandages with the utmost care in his movements. After a little sliding and shimmying, the fabric fell fully into Hanbin’s hold.

Bobby said, “Thanks.” His eyes were squished and crescent-shaped. “It didn’t hurt at all.”

Hanbin nodded, threw Bobby’s shirt across the room and onto Bobby’s bed. Bobby paused for a moment, presumably just to give Hanbin some time, which he needed. The moment timed out into a minute passed, and Bobby, reaching the end of an unspoken agreement of patience, gently nodded downward. Hanbin avoided looking for as long as his eyes could hold out. Then they dropped to the waistband of Bobby’s sweatpants.

“Bin?” Bobby prompted. “I can kick these off if you really don’t want to...”

“Yeah,” Hanbin quickly responded. He breathed. “I know.”

He placed his fingers on the top of Bobby’s sweats, feeling the wash-roughened cotton below his hesitant fingertips. He trailed his hands along the garment until they reached the center, the knot at the drawstrings.

Hanbin really did not have to do this. He told himself as much.

He pulled the strings free of their entanglement and let the fastening fall limp.

He saw Bobby breathing and heard as much, the sound of air through his ever-stuffy nose. Being a werewolf unfortunately did not cure rhinitis. It was only unfortunate depending on who you ask, however. Bobby’s stuffed nose was just a part of Bobby, and Hanbin liked Bobby for every part of him.

Hanbin hooked his fingers under the waistband of Bobby’s sweatpants and pulled down. The elastic squeezed the fabric of Bobby’s underwear close to his body, outlining the lines of his thighs, of… him. Hanbin let go when the hard part was over.

Hanbin was sixteen and curious when he was bitten, Jinhwan was eighteen and exploring. They listened to songs with swears and watched music videos with half-naked men and women grinding on one another to the beat of a heady tune. Hanbin pretended his heart pounded at the thought of girls and chased down images of boys hidden safely behind the female lead of a drama, under the guise of aspirations and music taste.

It was harder to hide when they were in a bedroom together. There were things that just could not be hidden behind posters and drowned out by music played loud and beguiling. Hanbin always looked, always saw, but he never let it get to him. He just wanted to get through high school a little less of a freak than he had to be.

He always had a feeling Jinhwan purposely showed off.

Bobby moved back to South Korea for university and was recruited to the pack in his first year. He was not good at making friends, was not beautiful or confident. It had been easy to persuade him to accept the gift that Hanbin’s old alpha was offering.

Hanbin was seventeen and Bobby was eighteen and by then Hanbin figured they had both gotten good at drowning out unnecessary thoughts in loud music. They got along well, became friends quickly. They shared many of the same loves (barring anything romantic, but Hanbin was content to keep that for himself).

It was easy to see Bobby in just his boxers, half-hanging off the side of his bed, half-hard and lazing around without a care about it because sometimes there’s just nothing to do about a random boner. Hanbin would throw a pillow at him and land the hit. Bobby would groan but they would both laugh. Heartbeats were kind of gross and hard to listen to all the time, and easier to just… tune out. To willfully ignore.

Bobby quickly shook his pants all the way down, and the change of pace threw Hanbin off track, caused him to blink and recollect his bearings. Thank goodness. He promptly collected the fallen pants and tossed them onto Bobby’s bed as well. Why the fuck had he been so dramatic about that? Ridiculous. It was just Bobby, no matter how ripped he was. Hanbin hoped he could hold it together.

He could not bear to meet Bobby’s eyes, so he just flopped back down into bed. Bobby said, “Thanks,” and Hanbin nodded in his general direction.

They went to sleep some time after that. Moonlight poured in through the window and put Hanbin’s soul at ease. It was summer, a constant rainstorm, but somehow the moon managed to find them. Hanbin liked to believe he could personally will it out from behind the clouds. Power was a comfort to him.

Hanbin jolted upright in fear at the sound of screaming.

He threw the blanket off, ran to Bobby’s bedside. He was seemingly in pain based on how he was writhing, face contorted and teeth clenched, tears streaming down his cheeks. Hanbin hesitated, hands shaking, and he called Bobby’s name over and over.

Jinhwan burst into the room. “Shut him up, shut him up!

“I can’t!” Hanbin said. Bobby’s wolf fangs had grown out, blood on his lips, and Hanbin was not sure what would do more harm than good.

“Gag him!” Jinhwan demanded. “I’m calling Hayi.”

“Gag him?!” Hanbin demanded right back, but Jinhwan had already stepped out.

God, Bobby was still screaming, the neighbours would surely call the police or bang on their door to scold them for their ‘nasty habits’ (again) soon. Hanbin ran to get a bandana from his dresser drawer, folded it, and ran it back over. He shoved it into Bobby’s mouth, and Bobby bit down on it, hard, almost gratefully. He still made loud, whimpered cries of pain, but he seemed to be calming himself down.

Hanbin stroked his hand through Bobby’s hair, discovered the boy had sweat beading at his scalp. Hanbin just pet him and tried to get him through it.

Hayi and Taehyung showed up after… Hanbin was not sure how long. He was not even sure what time it was. He checked Bobby’s phone and saw it was 2:10am by the time Hayi and Taehyung actually stepped into the room. Hanbin returned Bobby’s phone to the nightstand.

“Okay, Bobby, okay…” Taehyung cooed. He presented Bobby with a flask. “Drink all of this, okay? Drink all of the pieces in it. Everything.”

He removed the gag, and Bobby did as he was told. Taehyung sat next to him on the bed, holding the flask for Bobby and feeding him like a baby with a bottle. Bobby drank it all down while Hanbin stood beside Hayi, stunned silent.

When Bobby finished drinking, almost instantly, he dropped to the bed, unconscious.

“Oh good,” Hayi said. “It worked.”

Taehyung checked Bobby’s pulse and smiled. “Yup!” he confirmed. “It worked.”

Regaining the strength to speak now, Hanbin asked, “What… just happened?”

Taehyung said, “Your friend’s bones are trying to switch back into their human structure, but since they were broken as a wolf, they’re having trouble switching back.”

Hanbin blinked. “That’s… those are his paws, under there? That’s not even possible.”

“Generally no,” Hayi explained. “Usually only the claws remain in a half-shift. But because he was injured in his wolf form, his bones can’t, like… figure out how to reposition themselves. We need Bobby to heal in his human form, or his bones will heal disfigured, but for now, his bones are still trying to heal enough to become human again.”

“He heals faster at night, when the moon’s effect is stronger on you,” Taehyung said, “so he must be going through a lot. Shifting between forms already hurts. What’s happening now is called ‘bone reconstruction’. In my research, I’ve learned… it hurts like a bitch.”

Hanbin asked, “Like a bitch?”

Taehyung confirmed, “Like a bad bitch. I call it the Lee Chaerin of healing processes.”

Oh man. “There are other kinds?” he could not help but ask.

Taehyung just let out a long huff of air, ruffling his bangs with it, like, welcome to supernatural-veterinary world.

Hanbin asked Hayi, “What did you just give him?”

“It was a mix of valerian root tea, lavender, a liiitle bit of Valium, and powdered wolfsbane, so the Valium can work,” Hayi said. “It’s moon-dried, so the toxins are like, 90% drained. It should just sit in his stomach like a rock until he throws it up tomorrow morning.”

Hanbin pursed his lips. “Great.” He supposed Bobby would have his wish granted to shower alone.

“This is confirmation enough that his wrists are broken,” Taehyung said. “We’ll get my buddy Kim Seokjin to get him his treatment. Don’t worry, he has a great mentor, he can falsity and omit info from medical records, no problem.”

“Kim Seokjin?” Hanbin blinked. He heard of this doctor-in-training. He was new on the scene like Taehyung, around 27 years old, and he helped werewolves on the down-low as well for the modern wolf generation. They had not needed the doctor to assist them yet, as usually Taehyung was enough. “Can’t you do it?”

“A vet’s specialty is animal casts,” Taehyung said with a frown. “My mentor said to not give casts to werewolves because of the bone reconstruction thing. You need proper evaluation and treatment.”

“And this Seokjin guy…” Hanbin gestured vaguely with a hand, “You trust him?”

“I do,” Taehyung confirmed. “We kind of teamed up. Both our mentors are doctors and vets for the older gen, too. They’re training their protégés up really well.”

Hanbin nodded. “Okay.” That was enough for him. He did not have many options. “Please make sure he gets the help he needs.”

“We will, Bin,” Hayi tapped Hanbin’s arm.

He knew the kids were standing next to the doorway, and Hanbin finally acknowledged them. “It’s alright, guys. He’ll be okay.”

Jinhwan, Donghyuk, and Yunhyeong tentatively entered the room. Jinhwan and Yunhyeong nodded, kept their heads up, but Donghyuk just looked so sad.

Perhaps it was hard on both the youngest ones in the house, because Junhoe was not even there.

“Is Junhoe alright?” Hanbin asked.

“Junhoe?” Donghyuk asked in response. “Oh, Junhoe didn’t wake up.”

Hanbin sighed, a deep and abysmal sound.

-♥-

The puppies all wiggled around on the couch and swarmed Bobby with pens in their eager paws. Bobby giggled and offered out his two shiny new splints for decoration. They were not ideal for drawing on, but Seokjin made them white (at Bobby’s request), so the colour would show up.

“Move over,” Donghyuk elbowed Junhoe. “Best friends get to sign first.”

“In that case, you move over,” Jinhwan elbowed Donghyuk. “Because I was his best friend first, and I’m the oldest.”

“And you’re grounded,” Yunhyeong added.

Jinhwan nodded. “And you’re grounded.”

Donghyuk humphed loudly and Junhoe stole his pen to hand to Jinhwan, as Junhoe was a go-getter and already had his own. “This is SO unfair.”

“Don’t worry man,” Bobby said, “best for last.”

Donghyuk smiled. Bobby gave him playful wink. Yunhyeong complained about being his ‘actual chingu!’ and drew a unibrow between Bobby’s eyes as revenge for hurting his feelings.

Hanbin loomed. If all was right in the world, he would be signing the casts first, because HE ALONE was Bobby’s Best Friend, but he could not seem too desperate in the current situation.

Seokjin was a pretty capable doctor-in-training, and his mentor seemed like a cool guy. Bobby’s switch back to his full human form was the hardest part. They got in and out of the hospital without any attention drawn to them, and a promise that they would only have to return to the hospital for the splint removal in a few weeks to make it seem like a legit, totally normal human injury.

“Taehyung and I are confident you can take them off in four weeks,” Seokjin had said to Bobby. “But you’ll have to pretend to wear the splints a little longer than four weeks so the records look legitimate. This situation is…” he melodramatically sighed, “irregular.” He shook his head, “Ah, so complicated, but we have to stay strong, you know, for the medical records.” His final instructions were, “Right, so, just stay in bed for at least a week to heal your head, but try to move around a little to prevent blood clots, although, yeah, I guess you’re not as prone to them, I haven’t been doing this long enough… but still, exercise! Have fun, get your heart rate up! Eat chocolate! Endorphins are good for pain. But remember to eat healthy as well to help the healing process.” He beamed as he waved them off. “Have a safe trip! Haha, sorry, just a little broken wrist humour. Take care.”

So it had gone… well? Hanbin supposed so.

He clapped his hands to break up the murmured laughter and chatter and headed over. “Okay everyone, hurry up, Bobby needs to get back to bed.”

Bobby sighed. “Come on, Bin, I’m not straining myself here.”

Hanbin crossed his arms. “Doctor Seokjin and Doctor Taehyung both said it’s a good idea for you to stay in bed until your head heals. So you have to, no questions asked.”

Bobby pouted. “It’s boring.”

“Don’t be stupid next time you have fun, then,” Hanbin said.

Donghyuk and Bobby both sighed and hung their heads.

Junhoe got up off the couch, having already signed the splints to his satisfaction. “I’ll walk you to the café, let’s go, Jinan.”

Jinhwan huffed a little at the informality, but stood and straightened out his shirt. “You coming, Donghyuk?”

Donghyuk sighed. “Got nothing to do here,” he pouted, and got up to hang out with the others. He and Bobby shared meaningful eye contact until Donghyuk was forced out of the apartment to take Jinhwan to work.

“Alright, party’s over,” Hanbin said. “Get to bed, Frida Kahlo.”

Yunhyeong laughed, helped Bobby stand up. He walked Bobby to the bedroom, as it was his shift.

Bobby’s sad puppy eyes passed over Hanbin’s harsh glare where they made eye contact in the hallway. Bobby sadly looked down and carried on, Yunhyeong’s arm around his back. Hanbin felt like there was a hand around his throat.

Hanbin took his laptop to the library and worked on some music there, since his room was being occupied at the moment. The record label that he, Bobby, and Jinhwan were signed to was indie, established to be the exact opposite of the mainstream entertainment industry. Artists could stay low-key in this entertainment company, which was very beneficial for people with complications in their lives, such as lycanthropy, or if their dad was arrested for embezzlement crimes.

He and Bobby loved to work on their tracks together. They would bounce ideas off one another and create better work with both their brains working in harmony. They were a good pair. They always talked about making it out there in the music industry together.

They started writing songs together soon after they first met. Bobby lived in the dorms at his university, and although that changed since, being apart had never stopped the two from being together. They would rap and sing and rave to their own music in the basement of Hanbin’s house, in the old alpha’s house when Jinhwan was included in their hang-outs.

They loved Jinhwan, loved to write him into their music, but it was still their music. It was a talent they shared. It was a love they created together, with their own hands and lips and sweat running in rivulets down their necks. Their passion that could only be reflected in the eyes of their other half.

In the song playing through his earphones, Hanbin heard Bobby’s lips kiss each lyric onto the guide track, like wolf-bitten hickeys down the length of his spine. Like chills.

In a teen drama sense, Bobby made a really fucking good werewolf. Jacob Black could eat his heart out in Hanbin’s opinion.

He worked as best he could before heading somewhere for dinner, then home for the night with a bag of kimbap from the small restaurant Yunhyeong worked at, just in case no one remembered that bed-ridden idiots needed food too. Hanbin hoped that Junhoe had made it home for his shift. Hanbin stopped into the pharmacy to buy Bobby a decent fluoride mouthwash too. He dodged questions and shortened phone calls from his mother to avoid giving details of the situation.

Chanwoo and Donghyuk were playing video games when Hanbin arrived home. He patted Chanwoo on the head before taking Bobby’s kimbap to the bedroom. It was weird how much Hanbin missed the maknae nuisance when he was not around. Chanwoo was the first and only werewolf that Hanbin had ever bitten, so maybe it was an attachment thing.

On Bobby’s bed, it seemed that Junhoe was force-reading Bobby poetry from a book, and probably Junhoe’s own compositions. Actually, though, Bobby looked into it. He was focusing intently on the page the book was open to, and his ears were tuned into Junhoe’s commentary beside him, Hanbin could tell by the way his head was slightly tilted. He tried to turn the page with his splinted hand and crinkled it. Junhoe sighed, flattened out the paper as best he could and turned the page for him.

Hanbin liked poetry too. They could read it together. It was time for Junhoe to go anyway.

“Hello, Hanbin,” Junhoe said. “Will you be joining us?”

“You’ll be getting out,” Hanbin said, not missing the lack of respect. He threw the bag of food onto Bobby’s bed.

Junhoe took the paper bag and inspected it. “Why’s that?”

“Your shift is over.”

Junhoe popped a piece of kimbap into his mouth. Bobby opened his mouth, and Junhoe popped a piece into his mouth as well. “So?” he asked. The two ate together and continued reading. Continued ignoring him.

“Did you both skip dinner for poetry?”

“No?” Junhoe responded, confused. “We ate dinner.”

Of course they did.

“Out,” Hanbin commanded. “Time to go be annoying somewhere else.”

Junhoe’s nose wrinkled and he sent Hanbin a bitchface. Bobby said, “Seriously, Bin, it’s okay…”

Was it Annoy Hanbin Day or something? Who did these two think they were?

Hanbin said, “I am the alpha, and I decide what happens. Junhoe, go.”

Junhoe grumpily closed the poetry book and scooted his way off the bed. He and Bobby shared a brotherly knuckle-bump. He shoved another piece of kimbap into his mouth for the road. He muttered to the floor, “You’re the alpha, but you’re really a bitch, too.”

“Funny,” Hanbin rolled his eyes. “You’re such a comedian.”

Junhoe slammed the door behind him. Bobby looked awkward, like a couple just had a fight in front of him, and he was not sure how to react. Hanbin grumpily put his laptop on his bed.

“Have you been resting?”

“I have been…” Bobby muttered. He sniffled. “We weren’t doing anything strenuous.”

Hanbin did not trust Junhoe nor Bobby to know the definition of ‘strenuous’. Hanbin just grumpily changed out of his clothes and into pajamas.

As Hanbin changed, Bobby said, “I think you’re overreacting a little, Hanbin.”

Hanbin’s nerves snapped. He clenched his jaws together, low growl rumbling in the bottom of his throat. Bobby really had to say that, huh? Even though he knew that the pack was Hanbin’s number one priority, and that he cared about everyone before himself, that he did everything in this goddamned house—

Before Hanbin could go off on a parental rant, Bobby hastily added, “Sorry, just listen to me, okay, please? I’m okay. I’m going to be okay. Why are you being this way?”

He sounded genuinely curious. “There’s a schedule,” Hanbin answered. “If I don’t enforce the schedule, I lose power. The pack will walk all over me, our camaraderie will fall into chaos and anarchy, and the new renegades will collapse the pack hierarchy system. I can’t let that happen.”

Bobby’s head tilted to the side. “I know. I mean, I know that’s how you feel. I know you feel like this is somehow your fault.”

Hanbin stopped moving, frozen, hands still on the hem of the t-shirt he had just pulled on.

 Bobby continued, “I know you’re all upset over this because I could have died and you think that makes you a bad leader. But it doesn’t, Hanbin. I was just stupid.”

Something about Bobby’s words clued him in, very suddenly. His head snapped up. Startled, Bobby shrunk back.

Hanbin seethed, “Because you ‘could have died’. How can you say that so casually?!” Hanbin picked up the pair of sweatpants he had intended to put on just to throw them on the floor. “Do you know what I would do if I lost you? Do you know what I would do if you died? If that was MY fault?!

Bobby was silent.

Hanbin wailed, “I would go crazy!” Tears welled up in his eyes. “I would lose my mind because I should have known better, I should have been there for you because that’s what partners—” Hanbin choked on the word. “That’s what packmates are supposed to do!

Bobby stared, eyes wide, glassy. Hanbin sniffled and rubbed his eyes.

“And I almost wasn’t there for you.”

Before he could do something dumb like healthily communicate his emotions, Hanbin hastily changed out of his pants and underwear and retrieved the pair of sweatpants he had thrown to the floor.

Then, Bobby sniffled, and said, “Hanbin… come here.”

Hanbin turned to look at Bobby at the command. Bobby held his two casted arms open and ready for a hug.

Hanbin felt his shoulders fall as he drooped. Sadly, Hanbin could never deny him that hug. Bobby needed care, after all, and that’s what Hanbin needed to ensure he got. It was Hanbin’s turn with his Bobby now.

He pulled on his sweatpants and trudged over. He awkwardly kneeled on the bed in between Bobby’s uncrossed legs, and wrapped his arms around Bobby to hug him. Bobby wrapped his arms around Hanbin, dropping the weight of two heavy, fiberglass splints onto Hanbin’s back, and embraced him. Hanbin could not help but smile at the weight he felt. Bobby was such a big, dumb idiot. His big dumb idiot.

Hanbin mumbled into Bobby’s shoulder, “It’s my shift.” Not Junhoe’s. His. He hummed his complaints incoherently against Bobby’s shirt.

Bobby squeezed Hanbin tighter. “You haven’t lost control over us. You’re a good alpha.”

He pulled Hanbin down and they fell on the bed in each other’s arms, Hanbin on Bobby’s chest. Hanbin caught himself on his arm and was mindful as to which side of Bobby’s ribcage he rested his weight on.

Although touched by Bobby’s reassurance, in the atmosphere of the moment, Hanbin could not help but joke, “Are you just doing this to convince me to let you read poetry?”

“No,” Bobby easily responded.

“To let you play video games?”

Bobby pulled away with a gleam in his eyes. “Can I play video games?”

Hanbin laughed. “Maybe tomorrow, if you heal well tonight.”

“Yes, Sir,” Bobby said, and immediately lied down on his back. He shuffled to get comfortable, then went still. He smiled a smug, close-lipped grin at Hanbin.

Hanbin sat up and smiled back down at him. He caressed Bobby’s cheek, something meant to be sweet, trailed his hand down Bobby’s neck, his chest. Hanbin’s hand stopped at Bobby’s stomach. He cupped a hand around Bobby’s unbroken ribs, swiped his thumb across them.

Hanbin was never great with the concept of ‘boundaries’.

Bobby’s smile fell slightly at the corners, eyes widened – no, only the pupils. He turned his head to break their eye contact. The side of his cheek and neck were both painted pink by Hanbin’s fingers.

He was so cocky one moment and shy the next. Hanbin hoped this was just Bobby’s personality, Bobby’s dislike for touchy-feely affection, and nothing to do with Hanbin himself. He always tried to keep his touches unmotivated by Bobby himself. He always tried to make it appear that way.

Together, the two finished Bobby’s kimbap and worked on their song together until the dreaded bedtime striptease. It was just as hard this time, pun intended. Hanbin used the bathroom this time before he went to sleep.

-♥-

The pack was all really happy that Hanbin was out of his dark mood, or his Sergeant Major Depressive Mode, as Chanwoo called it, and got a clap on the back of the head for it. Junhoe laughed, but Hanbin figured he was owed a laugh for how Hanbin treated him the previous night, so he let it go.

They ate breakfast together, all making sure Bobby drank his pain medication (Hayi dropped off a bunch of tea bags portioned and ready to boil the other day), and did not strain himself while moving. They laughed and made sure Bobby was entertained and having fun, even made sure he ate chocolate at the end of breakfast.

“Not too much chocolate, though,” Hanbin instructed. “Bobby is on a healthy diet until he can exercise properly again.”

Bobby said he appreciated the concern but he was not happy about it, and Hanbin giggled at him over the rim of his own teacup.

Chanwoo escorted Bobby back to his bedroom as it was his shift. Hanbin sheepishly thought he should have had more faith in his pack to handle this well.

Sometime later, Hanbin entered the bedroom. Bobby was lying down, doing nothing, although that was likely an act.

“I healed well,” Bobby said. “Can I play video games now?”

Two light brown bruises coloured a spot on his ribcage, stubbornly persisting against the healing process. As usual, Bobby had decided to not wear a shirt. He was not humbled by his condition. But he had no reason to be. He could not exercise well now, but he was certainly not hurting for crossfit. Although used to it by now, Hanbin wondered if seeing Bobby bare would always feel as fizzy in his gut as the first time.

Needless to say he looked fine enough to push buttons on a game controller despite the injury.

Hanbin sighed. “I seriously don’t know how you expect to do that without moving your hands, but…” Hanbin shrugged, “Sure, you’re free to try.”

Bobby sprung up and Hanbin promptly slowed him down by placing two hands on his shoulders. Bobby sat. Once Hanbin was sure Bobby understood he could not strain himself, Hanbin let go, backing away with trepidation. Bobby slowly stood up, raising his eyebrows at Hanbin as if for permission. Hanbin nodded.

Bobby smiled and Hanbin noticed him trip over his heel a little, barely stopping himself from running. Hanbin followed him out to the living room with a tiny, inconsolable smile dimpling his cheek, because Hanbin was too weak for this dork.

“Alright, Bobby hyung!” Donghyuk cheered. “You can play with me.”

“No,” Jinhwan said. He took the controller out of Donghyuk’s hands. “He can play with me.”

Chanwoo sighed and accepted his turn was over. He patted Bobby supportively on the shoulder, then went to the kitchen, probably in search of a snack.

“Nice try,” Hanbin commented, cleaning up a little around the coffee table. Where did Junhoe even get this many hotbars? He was a snack machine. “You’re still grounded.”

Bobby and Donghyuk held hands as Donghyuk walked away. “DON’T LET GO, ROSE,” Bobby actually screamed.

Donghyuk fake-cried and said, “I’ll never let go, Jack.”

From the couch, Junhoe pompously bitched, “Have either of you ever actually seen Titanic?”

Hanbin laughed and just continued cleaning up around the house. Bobby all but smashed the controller to pieces, but he was never especially graceful with the game consoles to begin with. As long as he had fun, Hanbin figured; that was the important thing. And as long as he did not strain himself, that was the non-sentimental most important thing.

-♥-

Nighttime rolled around again. Bobby took baths in the evening now with another pack member so he could actually get clean, but he always wore a shirt after, claiming he got cold, maybe because of the medicine or something. Hanbin did not know enough about witchcraft to dispute it. He had a feeling that Bobby just liked to make things hard difficult for him, though.

Despite his doubts in the way of necessity, Hanbin helped Bobby undress. He pulled Bobby’s shirt off and laughed when it got stuck coming off his head. Bobby laughed too, tried to struggle out of it. The shirt popped off with a floof of his hair. Hanbin wanted to ruffle it so bad, but Bobby combed it back with his fingers.

It had been funny to learn how Bobby had been brushing his teeth with the splints on. He just gripped the toothbrush as tight as he could with both sets of fingers and did his best. Hanbin had laughed at him. It startled Bobby, caused him to laugh too and spit toothpaste foam onto the mirror, which Hanbin had to clean, and although it was his fault that it happened, Hanbin did not appreciate how Bobby seemed to find a way to make Hanbin’s life more difficult in every situation.

But Hanbin also loved feeling Bobby’s existence in his life in any way possible.

Bobby sipped his mouthwash through a straw, swished it around, and spit it out. He smiled as wide as he could at the freshly cleaned mirror. Hanbin’s heart fluttered and forced a laugh out of his chest.

Now Bobby was all ready for bed, stripped down to his underwear. He flopped down onto his mattress – Hanbin did not know when a reprimand would actually affect Bobby in any way, he was losing hope. He gave Bobby a kiss on the cheek and headed to his own bed.

“Hey,” Bobby called after him. “Stay here.”

They had often shared the little single bed, but Bobby did not have two broken ribs and wrists to worry about then. “I can’t,” Hanbin said with a small giggle. “I could roll over on you and hurt you. The splints will hurt me.”

“Come onnnn,” Bobby said. He smiled. “I’m not even tired yet. Just hang out for a bit.”

“It’s late,” Hanbin told him, but found himself walking back over to Bobby’s bed anyway.

Bobby, knowing he won, smiled. Hanbin lied down.

Bobby must have been lonely lately. The pack loved to crawl in a puppy-pile and snuggle, found instinctive comfort in cuddling and scenting, and it had been difficult to accommodate Bobby as of late.

Bobby practically melted against Hanbin’s side when they touched. There was comfort in the fact that both of their hearts were pounding in their chests, not just Hanbin’s. Maybe Hanbin could play it off as excitement, or high blood pressure. He was not sure what Bobby’s excuse was though; probably just happiness at having someone to entertain him. His head dropped to rest against Hanbin’s shoulder and Hanbin was content despite the nervous tension that Bobby would figure something out.

Nah— he would have caught on already if he was ever going to.

Hanbin pinched Bobby’s cheek. “You’re so cute, hyung.”

Bobby grabbed a handful of Hanbin’s face and shoved him to the side. Hanbin laughed at his bashfulness.

They played with Hanbin’s phone, listening to music, writing notes, talking, until an alarm of Hanbin’s went off, alerting him to a calendar event.

“Oh, shit,” Hanbin remembered. “I have this tea party thing tomorrow, with the Upper Northside pack.”

“Ah,” Bobby frowned. He dropped his earphone. “Are you taking anyone with you?”

“Maybe Jinhwan,” Hanbin said. It was always a power move to bring a date to these functions. “Ah, no, he works early on Tuesdays.”

“Bring me!” Bobby volunteered.

All that naïve energy was too cute for Hanbin to scorn. “Hyung, you have two broken wrists and a skull fracture.”

“Yeah,” Bobby said, “they’ll feel bad for me and like, give us VIP access to the specialty creamery in rich-town.”

Hanbin responded, “That is not at all how turf distribution under our alliance works. You can go there at any time as long as you respect the house etiquette.”

“And what’s the house etiquette?”

“You can know once you heal. I’m not giving you a reason to leave this bed.”

Bobby groaned. “UGHHHHH, HANBIN, YOU WON’T LET ME DO ANYTHIIIING.

“Shh.” Hanbin said, and placed his hand on Bobby’s cheek.

Bobby shushed.

He abruptly rolled over on his side and said, “Get your beauty sleep, then.”

Hanbin pouted and cooed, “Are you mad at me?”

“No.”

Hanbin smiled, tried to roll Bobby back over, “Then smile…”

Bobby yanked his arm out of Hanbin’s hold. Hanbin’s smile fell. That reaction actually worried him a little bit.

“Sorry,” Bobby said. “I’m just… really comfortable like this.”

“Oh…” Hanbin resolved to let this one go. Bobby seemed to know what he wanted. “Okay.” He gave Bobby’s hair a little fluffing, experimentally, and thankfully, Bobby let it happen. “Good night.”

“Good night.”

“See you tomorrow,” Hanbin said, “after the tea party.”

“Yeah,” Bobby said. His voice was a little strained. “See you.”

Hanbin felt odd leaving things how they were, but if this is what Bobby wanted… he respected that. He also respected how hard it must have been to find a comfortable sleeping position with that many broken bones. Yeah. Bobby was just in a comfortable position.

Hanbin told himself this was not about him and tried to get some sleep.

-♥-

Hanbin woke up late, of course. He already had trouble sleeping at night, and paired with the awkward tension that would not let him relax last night, he did not stand a chance. He hurriedly shoved a piece of toast in his mouth like a goddamn anime character, collected his bag, and headed to the door.

“What’s going on, hyung?” Chanwoo asked.

“It’s a tea party,” Hanbin said. “It’s like, a conference. I’m meeting up with the pack on the Upper Northside to maintain peaceful relations and whatever.”

“They’re an all-girl pack,” Yunhyeong commented, raising his eyebrows suggestively. “Maybe Chanwoo wants to go with you.”

Chanwoo blushed and ducked. “Wait,” he raised his head, “all girls? Are all packs divided by gender?”

“Nope,” Yunhyeong said. “Their alpha is just a huge misandrist.”

“Oh,” Chanwoo said. “Why are we all guys?”

“Because our old alpha was a huge misogynist,” Hanbin said, “and I picked you because I thought you would be a good addition to the team, not because you identify as a boy. Okay? Gotta go. Love you. Be good.” He gave Chanwoo a quick kiss on the head and barreled out of the apartment.

Hanbin made it to the location on time. It was a Victorian-looking place, had a magical feeling to it. It was very pink and white and intimidating in that way. Hanbin wished he had worn a better outfit, but he thought he could not go wrong in the classic black dress pants and white dress shirt, right?

Jisoo looked super pretty, in her far superior pink dress and hair bows. Hanbin was thrilled her alpha skipped out on this one. They bowed, shook hands, and sat together. Jisoo asked how Hayi was doing, and Hanbin asked about their emissary, Chanhyuk. Hanbin really liked Chanhyuk. He suggested they all meet up for ice cream at the fancy place in the Northside, and Jisoo ethusiastically agreed, gushing about how much she loved that place. They ate lunch together and maintained a peaceful relationship that would make their former alphas seethe in oppressive rage, so all was well.

“You know what?” Jisoo asked. “You should come over to my house in August for my inauguration as alpha. Jennie, Chaeyoung, and Lalisa will all be there, with a few of our friends. It’s like, a little get-together. Bring your whole pack!”

“Ah, the date is coming so soon,” Hanbin smiled. “You must be so excited. Of course, we’ll be there.”

“I’ll send an invitation!” Jisoo beamed. “Just to be formal.”

“Of course,” Hanbin smiled. He really liked this girl. Formality, structure, and organization? Hanbin trusted her as an alpha already.

“Of course,” she said. “Now, let’s go over the peace treaty.”

Oh joy.

At the end of the snooze-fest, he walked Jisoo to her cab, the two travelling arm-in-arm. She patted his arm and thanked him for being a gentleman, that her alpha would really ‘appreciate it’. Hanbin laughed at the… compliment. Seriously, he could not wait for Jisoo to take over her own pack.

Hanbin got home late into the afternoon.

“Woah, it really is Hanbin!” Donghyuk jeered right as Hanbin walked in. “I thought we had a Playboy coming to visit us.”

Hanbin raised his eyebrows and Yunhyeong snorted a laugh. “Heh?”

“You smell like a rich girl,” Donghyuk commented from his seat on the floor. “Like, we could smell you coming down the hall, dude. She was all OVER you!”

He was sure that Donghyuk, like the whole pack, had caught onto Hanbin’s gender preference by then, so Hanbin assumed what they were doing right then was joking. Ha-ha. Junhoe hid a smirk. Hanbin just laughed, shook his head, rolled his eyes.

Hanbin asked, “Where’s Jinhwan?”

“He’s out doing some shopping with Chanwoo for dinner,” Yunhyeong said.

“Will you be hungry, Hanbin?” Donghyuk raised his eyebrows. “I think you might’ve already had dessert.”

“Aish,” Yunhyeong scolded, and smacked Donghyuk in the back of the head while Donghyuk hollered in laughter. “Don’t be a pervert.”

Literally at the same time, Junhoe and Donghyuk loudly spoke over each other, saying something akin to, “Oh YoU’rE OnE to TaLK.”

Hanbin held his hands out to calm the fighting. “Hey, who’s nursing Bobby? Please forget I worded it like that.” Hanbin rubbed his forehead to fend off the regret-headache.

“What are you talking about?” Junhoe asked, and pointed a finger at the end of the couch. “He’s right here.”

Oh? Hanbin looked around Yunhyeong and saw that Bobby was sitting there, cuddled up to the elder. He also seemed to be purposely making himself look smaller. With a thin, culpable-looking grin, Bobby waved.

At least he had his head on a cushion.

Hanbin sighed. Whatever, Hanbin needed to go shower and change. He had no idea how a werewolf could stand such a potent perfume.

Washed, changed, and content, Hanbin spend a few hours at the desk on his laptop. Bobby did not return to the room. Hanbin did not have the strength to care too much about where Bobby chose to rest anymore, just as long as he was resting. Hanbin considered this a mark of personal growth.

At dinner, Bobby did not talk much at all. Maybe he thought he was in trouble. That was funny, in a cute way. Hanbin kicked Bobby under the table. Bobby was startled, looked at Hanbin with wide eyes. Hanbin winked, and Bobby shyly hid his feet under his chair and focused on his food.

“Good news,” Hanbin spoke conversationally. Two wolves were not in the kitchen, instead eating in the living room, but that did not matter. “Jisoo-sshi has invited us all to her coming-of-alpha celebration.”

“Ah, you did do well at lunch, then,” Donghyuk teased.

Hanbin smiled and shrugged like it was nothing. He laughed with the others. He noticed that Bobby’s giggle was quiet, halfhearted.

“Also,” Hanbin added, “if any of you fuck up the pack relations, I will have Doctor Taehyung neuter you.”

The laughter immediately died down.

Hanbin got ready for bed at the usual time. He was a little thrown off his rhythm when he discovered that Bobby was not waiting to be undressed. He was just lying in bed with his phone, dressed in his t-shirt and sweats, lazily scrolling SNS.

“Hey,” Hanbin went over to him. “Don’t you need help tonight?”

Bobby shook his head. “I’m good like this.”

Hanbin bit his lip. “Is something wrong?”

Bobby shook his head.

Yunhyeong had texted Hanbin after dinner: he’s been like this all night.

Pouty, reserved. Hanbin wondered what was wrong.

He patted Bobby’s butt. “Jiwon hyung…”

Bobby rolled over. He pouted.

Hanbin asked, “What’s wrong?”

Bobby mumbled, “Will you stay with me for a little while?”

Hanbin could not help but laugh at Bobby’s expression. “Of course,” Hanbin sat on the bed, “but why are you sad? Did you miss me today?”

Bobby rolled over slightly to hide his face in his pillow. Hanbin’s heart melted.

“It gets lonely,” Bobby said.

He smelled a little bitter due to muted anger that emanated from a selfish place deep in one’s soul. Bobby was jealous. Awh.

“The pack is making sure you rest a lot,” Hanbin said. He combed his fingers through Bobby’s hair. “You have to heal well.”

Bobby sniffled. Hanbin lied down beside him.

“Here,” he said. “I’ll keep you company.”

Bobby’s heart rate picked up ever-so-slightly. Hanbin smiled and cuddled closer.

“Hanbin,” Bobby suddenly spoke. “Hanbin, stop.”

What? That was weird, Bobby usually was cool with cuddles. “What? Why?”

“I…” Bobby rolled on his side. “I don’t…”

“Don’t what?” Hanbin asked. Don’t want you to? Hanbin hoped that was not it.

Bobby sighed and said, “I don’t… feel comfortable with that right now. Can you leave?”

Oh. Hanbin retracted his arms from around Bobby’s torso. Sadness surely radiated off of him.

“No, Bin,” Bobby quickly tried to make amends. “It’s not that. It’s not…” he struggled to find the words, “it’s not about the cuddling. I like the cuddling. It’s just…”

Hanbin raised an eyebrow, prompted, “It’s what?”

“It’s…” Bobby struggled, “I just… I can’t… like, I can’t do anything about… myself… so I’m… sensitive.”

Hanbin raised both his eyebrows. Bobby was usually sensitive, though. What was he even talking about?

Hanbin gasped and choked on the air he inhaled. Oh fuck.

“You…” he trailed off.

“Yeah,” Bobby deadpanned. “I can’t do anything. DO anything.”

Hanbin got it loud and clear now. He had not bothered to really smell the pheromones in the air last time Bobby shut Hanbin out, because he was too hesitant to learn the reason for it. “Shit, Bobby…” he had not even thought about the issue of Bobby getting off. Well, he did, but not in this context. Bad Thoughts. Hanbin forcibly thought of… Donghyuk. That worked.

“Yeah,” Bobby said. “It’s just super annoying, and I get random boners all the time anyway, so now that I can’t help myself out…” he exhaled grouchily. “It’s like headache but in my dick. I’ve tried using the bed, or a pillow, but… someone always walks in, because, you know, nurses.”

“Oh…” Hanbin actually felt really bad for the guy. “That… that’s not good.”

“No, it’s not. So can you just… not…” Bobby sighed and did not finish that sentence. Hanbin did not blame him.

“Yeah, sorry,” Hanbin scooted over.

Bobby muttered, “Goodnight.”

Hanbin knew he should have gone to bed. He knew this would be a bad move. But his brain insisted that he was Bobby’s bedside nurse until morning, and he needed to help him out. He wanted to help him out. It was his noble responsibility as a caring, altruistic, selfless bff, his bro for life, his ride or die. (And also the love of his life, sue him.)

“Uh…” Hanbin started, seductive and eloquent. “If… if you really need help…” his heart beat into his throat. “I could help.”

Bobby froze for a moment. He asked, “…Are you sure we should do that?”

“Yeah?” Hanbin said, very unsure. “We’re friends, right? Friends help each other out. Just call on me brother when you need a hand. You know? Literally.”

Bobby laughed into his pillow at that, but did not turn around. “Honestly? I really want to say yes. No homo. This problem is just really annoying.”

“Hey, no shame in that,” Hanbin tried to make light of the situation. “It’s natural.”

Bobby rubbed his face with the tips of his fingers. “Uhm… dude, if you would seriously do that, thank you. I promise I won’t be weird about it.”

“Shouldn’t I be worried about that?” He was. Hanbin was so worried about that. “I’m the one who offered.”

“Nah, it’s… nice of you. You’re a good friend, bro.”

God bless obliviousness. “It’s nothing, man.”

He leaned over to Bobby’s nightstand drawer to squeeze some lotion onto his hand. The cold feeling of the lotion on his palm woke up him to the reality of the situation: he was really going to touch Bobby’s dick. For medicinal purposes! But still. Maybe that was worse actually. Oh God.

He warmed the lotion in his hand. Bobby shifted, seemingly trying to pull his pants down with his two splinted hands.

Hanbin sat upright, stopping Bobby’s movements. “Hey,” he said softly. “Let me.”

He did not notice until his words processed and echoed in the depths of his skull that he sounded really sensual there. Oh boy.

With his available hand, he worked Bobby’s sweatpants down slightly, just over the curve of his butt (his cute butt, Hanbin’s mind duly reminded him), so they would not get in the way. He figured that would be enough.

He lied down again, shuffled down a little lower to get a good angle. Once they were spooning, he reached over Bobby’s groin. Paused. Lingered.

“Are you sure this is okay?” Hanbin asked.

Bobby muttered, “It is for me, but you don’t sound sure it’s okay for you.”

“What?” Hanbin responded. “No, I am! I want to.”

Silence passed over them. Hanbin lingered on.

“Uh…” he tried, “I mean, I meant, I have no problem—”

“Stop talking.”

“That’s a great idea,” Hanbin said, and promptly stuck his hand down Bobby’s boxers.

Bobby gasped as soon as he felt Hanbin on him. Fuck, Hanbin reacted to that. Bobby slipped an arm under his pillow and lifted it hold the pillow against his mouth. What was that for? To keep him from making noise? Oh, Hanbin was not going to make it through this. This was a ride and die situation.

Hanbin moved his hand. They were at an easy angle, natural, so Hanbin moved as though he was jerking himself off. He tried to de-romanticize it.

Bobby moaned, the sound muffled by the pillow, and Hanbin reacted, moved his dick against Bobby’s ass.

Bobby was too distracted to notice and Hanbin was too distracted to care.

He stroked Bobby slow at first, adjusting them both to the feeling. Hanbin turned his wrist, rubbed his thumb in circles around the head of Bobby’s cock. Bobby’s moans were consistent and grew ragged as Hanbin worked him up. Hanbin brushed his thumb over the head, and Bobby exhaled. He went quiet, breathing steady as Hanbin began stroking him again.

Hanbin pushed his forehead into the back of Bobby’s neck, let out a heavy exhale of his own. He gripped the bedsheet underneath them to keep himself grounded – it was so hard to not move his hips, to not grind his cock against Bobby’s ass that was right there, right against him… Hanbin indulgently rolled his hips forward once and pumped Bobby hard to distract from it. Bobby made a grunting sound into the pillow.

Hanbin literally bit his tongue to keep from whispering an expletive as he worked Bobby closer to his edge, listened to his heart pounding in time with Hanbin’s. Bobby moved his hips into Hanbin’s hand. God… Hanbin bit Bobby’s shirt between his teeth to keep his mouth shut. He moved his hand faster along Bobby’s cock.

Bobby was quiet now, but panting against his pillow. Hanbin paid only attention to him, how hard he was breathing, how he shifted every so often, subconsciously as it seemed…

Hanbin made a muffled sound against Bobby’s back. He felt the vibrations run through both of them. Bobby’s heart pounded against his lips.

How did Hanbin get here?

Bobby shifted again, but it felt different this time. After a few more ardent stokes of his hand, Bobby tilted his face out of the pillow and gasped, “Bin.”

Bobby came in his boxers right after, over himself and Hanbin’s hand. And he let out a loud – not obscured by the pillow – moan. Hanbin vowed to care about that in a few seconds. Right then, he just stroked Bobby through his orgasm, just did his best to hold it together and breathe.

His movements slowed. Stopped. They both caught their breath. Hanbin was half in a state of total euphoria and half in a state of desperate, aching need for a release (the sweet release of death or an orgasm, either one would be fine).

Bobby whispered, “Fuck.”

Hanbin whispered back, “Sorry,” because he had no idea what to say.

“You think the kids heard that?”

Yes. Hanbin simply replied, “Not Junhoe.”

Bobby groaned, not out of pleasure this time. “Thanks for that, bro,” he said, but that sounded genuine.

Hanbin lit up again, glowing in the… pre-after-glow. “No problem, dude.”

“You should get cleaned up.”

“Oh, right,” Hanbin said. He moved slowly, as though not to jostle his bedmate. “I’ll bring back a wet towel for you. Can you kick your own pants off?”

“Yeah. Thanks, Bin.”

Hanbin locked himself in the bathroom and immediately went to the toilet. He still had some lotion, and yeah, cum on his hand. He was depraved, so despairingly irredeemable that God probably looked down on him with pity. He jerked himself off with the lubricant left on his hand, hard and quick. It did not take long for Hanbin to come in hot ribbons, white stars behind his vision, hand supporting himself on the bathroom wall.

He caught his breath. Holy fuck. There had to be frat rules against this. There had to be a bro code that regulated sex with your bros. Would this fall under the condition of loyalty, or would it count as betrayal? Hanbin just could not figure it out, not now, not when he was jerked out and reeling and exhausted from not sleeping the previous night. Hopefully not ever if he could help it.

He cleaned up, wet the cloth, and brought it back to their room. Bobby was already falling asleep, so Hanbin helped him out. He helped Bobby shimmy out of his underwear and it was less weird than Hanbin thought it would be. He was kind of already in a dream, so his consciousness was not all there.

Bobby cleaned up, and then dropped the towel beside his bed.

“Do you have to pee?” Hanbin asked.

“Nah,” Bobby said, eyes already closed, voice low and drowsy. “Just went before bed.”

Hanbin kissed Bobby on the head, said goodnight, and collapsed into his own bed. He fell asleep before he hit the mattress – it was easier than it had been in a long time.

-♥-

Hanbin thought that if people lived in eternal night there would be no regrets. There would never come a morning to suffer through. He envied the brilliant mind of Tim Burton. Chanwoo sensed his emo suffering and suggested he channel his sadness into a ballad so it could be useful for something – why did Chanwoo only live to roast? – and Donghyuk laughed when Chanwoo got hit again.

It was early afternoon and they had all – except for two – driven in the van down to the woods on the outskirts of town. Hanbin stood by the tree with the branch that grew low, close to the ground, and sent his wolves over it as a hurdle. They had only been caught out there once, and since the news spread that there was a wolf pack in the community woods (even better, since the rangers would never find them, they were known as Ghost Wolves, which was a very good band name), the flow of visitors had dwindled considerably. So that was good.

He and Bobby did not even glance at each other in the morning. Bobby did not even shower, he just got up to pee and brush his teeth or whatever before heading back to bed and hiding under the covers. Hanbin hid under his own covers until he could have access to the bathroom.

Their clothes lay in a pile next to Hanbin. It was far easier to jump as the wolf when clothes were not restricting their movements, even with the assless sweats.

Donghyuk got a running start and leapt gracefully over the branch in his path, although his landing was a little awkward. Donghyuk was sinewy and stable, made for leaps and landings, the structure of a dancer. Hanbin was not worried, the kid just needed a bit more training.

“Nice job, Donghyuk, but work on your landing.”

Donghyuk nodded and stood tall and proud on strong paws.

Junhoe was left at home to take his shift with Bobby. Hanbin would have to catch the boy up on training later. The summer was meant to be used for rigorous training, but alas, Bobby’s condition put a rain check on the group training activities (figure of speech, as the monsoons could not stop their training). Hanbin decided to just do his best with skill development, and for that, he could divide the pack in groups, no biggie.

Yunhyeong took his running start, crashed into the branch, and fell to the ground with a whimper. Donghyuk cackled. Yunhyeong just lied there on the forest floor.

“Depth perception,” Hanbin said. “Work on gauging.”

After a little while longer of no movement, Donghyuk trotted over to Yunhyeong and licked his face. When that did not work, Donghyuk just stood over him and tilted his head.

Jinhwan had already passed this test, jumping over the hurdle and landing with ease, so he was currently relaxing next to Hanbin, observing the team. Jinhwan barked, “Ye!” which was ‘Yunhyeong’, as each of their names had a specific sound in the wolf tongue.

Yunhyeong muttered, make a show of forcing himself to stand upright, injured and weak. He shook leaves and ground debris off his brown coat and trudged back to the starting line.

“Thanks for the assistance,” Hanbin said to the wolf, known as Hwa.

Jinhwan asked, “Mneh, Wowo?

Hanbin was curious about Junhoe and Jiwon too. “I’ll train June with Yunhyeong later,” he responded. “Jiwon… will catch up eventually.”

This was really far from an ideal situation. Bobby needed particular attention paid to him, like Junhoe. Junhoe was agile and good on his feet but not athletic, and Bobby was athletic but inelegant and unenthusiastic about hard physical labour. These vices set them behind the others.

Chanwoo took his running start, leapt over the branch, but tumbled to the ground and rolled. He huffed.

“Good effort, Chanwoo,” Hanbin said. “But remember that you probably have an easier time jumping the hurdle because you have long legs. That gives you an advantage. Don’t think you know what you’re doing just because you made it over. Your technique needs serious improvement.”

Chanwoo huffed again, louder.

Oowoo!” Jinhwan cheered the maknae on.

Yeah, ‘Oowoo’ was not Hanbin’s first choice for Chanwoo’s wolf name, but they were working with a limited amount of lip and tongue shapes in the wolf form.

Haba?” Jinhwan addressed Hanbin.

Hanbin looked down and answered, “Yes?”

Jinhwan tilted his head and asked, “Woo oway?”

“Of course I’m okay,” Hanbin said, crossing his arms tighter, more defensively. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

Jinhwan blinked. Their communication was clearest in non-verbal cues.

Hanbin sighed. “Kinda maybe made a bad call last night. I’m handling it.” The worst lie he ever told.

Jinhwan scoffed and looked forward to the group again. How rude.

Donghyuk jumped the hurdle again, nearly sticking a perfect landing. Yunhyeong tried again and made it over this time, but tumbled to the ground as Chanwoo had. He decided to sulk on the woodland floor again. Chanwoo ran, jumped the hurdle, and rolled directly on top of Yunhyeong. “Worrweh,” Chanwoo apologized, and Yunhyeong just groaned.

They trained for a few more hours.

The kids started getting restless at around 4:30, nearing dinnertime. A few minor scraps broke out. Jinhwan was being bitchier than usual, snapping his jaws at trivial matters like Donghyuk missing a command and Hanbin’s tempestuous waves of depression. Donghyuk began forlornly munching on the foliage. Hanbin could not work with a team of hungry wolves. In a proverbial sense, it was just not going to happen.

“Okay,” Hanbin clapped his hands. “Good effort today. Everybody, shift and get dressed. We have to get dinner.”

The wolves howled and cheered. Yunhyeong shouted, “HUUUUU,” calling for Donghyuk to hurry up. Hu bounded over with the rest of them and tackled Chanwoo at the clothing pile.

They shifted back, dusted themselves off and got dressed. Hanbin supposed the only acceptable place to show up in this state of disarray was the American-style waffle house nearby. He herded his pack into the car and let Jinhwan know the destination.

They merrily arrived at the place of food and ate the same way. Jinhwan ordered a fancier dish for Junhoe, French toast and fruits and this maple-y meat, but Hanbin went simple for Bobby. A big breakfast, lots of eggs and potato and fruit, but allowed the boy a sample of greasy meat, because he was not heartless.

They arrived home, and filled to the brim, the kids immediately dispersed to relax. Chanwoo and Yunhyeong went to Yunhyeong’s room to nap, Donghyuk plopped down on the couch with Jinhwan. Hanbin put Junhoe and Bobby’s food on the table.

Attracted by the smell of food, a slightly damp and fresh-smelling Junhoe entered the kitchen with no prompting. He ‘ooo’d happily at Jinhwan’s menu choice for him, got right to eating it.

“Can you put coffee on?” Hanbin asked. He was just going to run and get Bobby real quick.

Junhoe snuffled, neither a yes nor a no, but Hanbin trusted that Junhoe was the least bit grateful to Hanbin for making sure he was fed. Hanbin left him to the task.

“Jiwon?” Hanbin called. He knocked the bedroom door, and Bobby let him in.

He smelled like a fresh shower. He was clean and glowing, hair slightly damp as he looked up from his laptop and beamed in Hanbin’s direction. Hanbin’s heart fluttered.

“Food’s here,” he said.

Bobby broke into a huge, toothy smile. Hanbin could not help but mirror it.

He closed his laptop, headed over to Hanbin as if waiting for him so they could walk out together. He was sweet. Hanbin had to tease him a little bit. He fixed Bobby’s hair and said, “So, you and Junhoe took a shower together?”

Bobby laughed breathily and hid his face. “Bin…”

Hanbin grinned and said, “That’s progress! I’m so proud of you.”

Bobby smiled, tight-lipped. Hanbin grabbed his face, gently, and nuzzled his nose into Bobby’s cute cheek. Bobby’s facial hair was thin and minimal, but he was a little rough, as neither Bobby nor Jinhwan when assisting could shave the whole shadow off at their awkward angles. Hanbin liked the soft burn of the friction – Bobby was cute like a litchi. Bobby snuffled and whined and tried to squirm out of Hanbin’s grasp.

Ahhh!” Bobby resisted, and finally pulled away.

Hanbin just felt so happy that Bobby was happy and not tense around him anymore. He breathed it all in.

…Wait. He grabbed Bobby’s arm to stop him from leaving.

He caught a scent.

“What’s that smell?” Hanbin asked.

Bobby tensed. Hanbin could feel it and smell it.

“What smell?”

“That smell in your mouth,” Hanbin said. He had caught a whiff when Bobby laughed in his face, and now he could smell it in the room, as though it was slowly permeating.

Bobby kept his mouth closed and shook his head. His heart rate increased.

Hanbin would not play this game. He sniffed, sniffed…

He gasped. “Choco-pie.”

Bobby looked like he had just been found guilty of murder. He frantically shook his head.

“Stop that!” Hanbin held Bobby’s head in place. “You’re healing!” Bobby stopped. Hanbin continued, “Why do I smell Choco-pie?”

Bobby looked down. He mumbled, lips closed, I ‘unno.

Hanbin sniffed. He let go of Bobby, marched over to his bed. “Hanbin!” Bobby yelled, and quickly followed behind.

Hanbin lifted Bobby’s mattress and produced the empty, flattened Choco-pie box. He held it up in Bobby’s face. Bobby whimpered.

Hanbin had strongly forbidden the pack to bring sweets into the house while Bobby was on his diet. They had to eat whatever they bought right after they bought it so Bobby would not feel tempted. “Who did this belong to?”

“Hanbin…”

Hanbin narrowed his eyes.

“Was it Donghyuk’s?”

Bobby made no response.

“Was it Junhoe’s?”

Bobby’s heart rate sped up.

Of course. Seriously, where did Junhoe even GET so many snacks?

“Hanbin please,” he caught Hanbin’s arm, “I asked for them, he was doing me a favour.”

“Junhoe smuggled in Choco-pies for you?!”

This was not a moment of weakness on Bobby’s part, then, this was planned. Of course it would be Bobby and Junhoe to conspire behind Hanbin’s back, the two who defied him most. Hanbin supposed this was his fault for not seeing it coming. He had trusted two scorpions not to sting him.

Hanbin heard the front door open and close. Hanbin sighed. The traitor could run, but he could not hide, not forever.

“When did this happen?”

Bobby muttered, “Today.”

“TODAY?!”

Bobby winced.

Hanbin was beside himself. “You are the whole box in one day?! That is very BAD for you, Jiwon!”

Bobby pouted at the wall, avoiding Hanbin’s eyes. “I only ate six.”

Hanbin dropped his face into his hands. “Oh my god.” And they were doing so well, too.

Bobby muttered, “You’re making a big deal out of it for nothing…”

That was so unfair. He would not have made a big deal if Bobby was eating extra chocolate after breakfast. This was borderline menopause crisis territory, and that lack of will to stay fit worried him. Hanbin did not want to care about Bobby more than Bobby himself did. It would not help anyone.

“You cannot,” Hanbin stressed, “give up on your health just because you’re bored, especially in the crucial stages of your healing.” He continued, “You have to care about your own recovery. And you cannot push yourself to stay on a diet to the point of a BREAKDOWN.” Not everyone could be blessed with Donghyuk’s unyielding motivation. “Just talk to me if you’re struggling and we can find a solution together. Okay?”

Bobby looked down, nodded. “Okay.”

That was a bit too easy. “Really?”

Bobby nodded. “I’ll pay more attention to my health.”

Well… at least they were in a good place now. This was fine. Hanbin smiled and pet Bobby’s face. “Okay.”

Bobby’s eyelashes fluttered. He blushed. Hanbin continued, “And now you’re double-grounded. No Donghyuk or Junhoe.” He patted Bobby’s cheek. Bobby muttered and groaned some more. “Also, you won’t have nurses anymore. You get to take care of yourself, since that’s apparently what you want.” He patted Bobby over the head with the flattened box.

Bobby shut up. His shoulders fell. Hanbin smiled at tapped the box against Bobby’s head until Bobby batted it away.

-♥-

Hanbin just checked up on Bobby every now and again to make sure he was not flat-lining and went about his day. This tough love thing was almost therapeutic for him, actually. Let Bobby feel the all-consuming need for affection for a change.

What Hanbin did not expect was to find Bobby staying in his room all day. Maybe he only left when Hanbin was not home, to spite him or something.

At dinner time, Hanbin walked into their bedroom. He had been out with Donghyuk and Chanwoo most of the day, and Jinhwan was out somewhere supervising Junhoe, and Yunhyeong had his own life, so Hanbin assumed that Bobby would enjoy some interaction.

He did not. It surprised Hanbin that Bobby was just lying as a bump on the mattress when he had been cleared for light crossfit, too. When Hanbin baited him with food, Bobby did not even budge. Weird.

“What is this, a hunger strike?” Hanbin crossed his arms.

Bobby muttered something incoherent.

Hanbin smiled. “You know I’m not going to let you die.”

Bobby kicked his feet angrily and turned on his back. He glared at Hanbin with a pouty frown.

Hanbin just laughed at him, pulled off his shirt to change. “You sure you’re not in the mood for anything?”

And Bobby just… froze.

Hanbin waited for a response for a few seconds. His smile fell. He grew curious. What was going on?

Bobby swallowed dryly, eyes roaming Hanbin’s body. Hanbin flushed, and became aware of the room temperature draft on his skin as he heated up, feeling colder. He quickly found a nice sweater and pulled it on.

Bobby’s eyelashes fluttered and he averted his gaze. He rolled back over on his side and used his fingertips to pull the covers back over him.

There was a pervasive tension that returned to the room that Hanbin was eager to escape from. Hanbin bit the inside of his lip, collected his wallet, and left.

On the seventh day of Bobby’s sentence to bed-rest, Hanbin made sure that Bobby stayed in bed all day to use every last moment he had to heal before he was sent back into the world to get hurt all over again (and he would, make no mistake, he would). He had recovered from his bout of grumpiness, so he was far more vocal than he had been the day before, demanding more things of Hanbin: banana milk, a lighter blanket, entertainment, attention.

“Bobby,” Hanbin said, “you are a grown man.”

Bobby hugged his Pooh bear in both arms and sulked.

Hanbin struck a straw in Bobby’s milk, set up Bobby’s laptop on his lap, gave him a pat on the head and neck – Bobby grumbled – and left him to his entertainment.

Han-BIN,” Bobby shouted as Hanbin tried to leave.

Hanbin turned around. “Yes?”

Bobby had looked so mad when they first made eye contact. As their gazes held, Bobby’s expression softened. He looked down at his lap and humphed.

Regardless of his disciplinary motivations, Hanbin was doing this because he cared. He knew more about injuries than all of them, had made a point to study common injuries and treatments with Hayi back when they first met through Chanhyuk and his emissary mentor, back when it was just Hanbin, Jinhwan, Bobby, and Junhoe, falling over each other, bruising and spraining wrists that healed in a few days.

There was a time shortly after Junhoe arrived when Hanbin realized he was going to be the alpha of this New Pack his former alpha hinted at. New blood, he always said, of the new blood, you’re the best. And Hanbin was sure that no matter who else joined the pack, it would not affect his standing in the ranks. He was the best of them. He was the best of anyone. His former alpha chose the new pack around the chemistry they had with Hanbin, not himself.

Hanbin took this idea of him being a leader very seriously. He began to hold himself back during playtimes, knew that he had to be stronger than the rest, healthier, knew he would have to carry the kids home if it came down to that. It was then the look in Bobby’s eyes started to change when he looked at him. At first it was all uneasiness, uncertainty; why won’t you play with us anymore? With me?

Then it changed. He matured. Where the fond twinkle in his irises once lived there was a new glimmer in the dark of his pupils, dilated and filled with admiration. Hanbin knew Bobby looked up to him as a leader, and trusted him as one, because he understood. Bobby knew he cared. Bobby knew that Hanbin had to force them to take care of themselves when they could not do it on their own.

So he shut up and grumpily sipped his banana milk and typed on his computer, one key at a time. He quickly gave up and dropped his casted fist on the keyboard and key-smashed it. Hanbin let him be.

“I miss you,” Bobby grumbled, almost inaudibly. Hanbin’s ear twitched when he picked up the sound.

Hanbin flippantly replied, “You can have the pack back tomorrow,” and began to walk out the door.

Bobby mumbled, softer, “I miss you.”

Caught in the momentum of the action, Hanbin simply kept walking.

Chapter Text

(Jul 2) Hanbin stood in their room in front of Bobby’s bed. Donghyuk stood in the doorway in a ready position like a track star. Bobby eagerly sat up on his bed.

“Three, two,” Hanbin counted down, “…one. You are officially… un-grounded.”

He stepped aside. Donghyuk immediately dashed into the room and pounced on Bobby, knocking him down onto the mattress. They both screamed at each other as they hugged, wrestled, tangled themselves up the blankets, proclaiming their love and how much they has missed each other, how big Donghyuk had grown since they last met.

They acted like Hanbin had not even let them hug each other all week, seriously… the grounding had only been to keep them from hanging out and having fun together. Was this their idea of fun? Was it any wonder why Bobby was in two splints? Hanbin rolled his eyes and walked out of the room.

-♥-

Werewolves get hurt. It seems as though this comes with the territory (werewolf pun intended).

It is important for all werewolves to be able to control their shift in high pain and high pressure situations, especially those who have to complete obligatory military service. The chemical warfare training would be impossible to complete without shifting for survival without proper preparation. And so, the training starts as soon as the alpha feels appropriate.

Hanbin had to take over that training when he became the alpha of his own pack. He took his wolves in a boxing ring, which involved Hanbin punching his opponent with boxing gloves and his opponent not fighting back. They were basically made into wolf-skin punching bags. It was tough with everyone. Yunhyeong had a surprisingly hard time with this. It took upwards of a year of sessions with Jinhwan to train him to stop reverting to jiu-jitsu when he trained with the old alpha. He still got angry enough to go for a wrist lock every now and again with Hanbin. Junhoe was a nightmare, but what else is new.

Outside of training too, there is pain to be felt. Junhoe fell in the woods while playing and sprained his ankle. He had also sprained his wrist and fractured his collarbone. Donghyuk sprained his ankle and hurt his knee. Most of Jinhwan’s injuries occurred in the past, but he still got banged up every now and again. The kids got scrapes and bruises while roughhousing all the time. Yunhyeong had burned himself making rigatoni and needed Hayi to make him a salve. Chanwoo fell off the bunk bed a couple weeks back while wrestling with Bobby and Donghyuk, and Hanbin was sure that he honest-to-God felt the raw terror that could only come with being a mother.

Hanbin hated to see his kids in pain. But when emotion and basic human decency were taken out of the equation, this situation was fucking hilarious. Bobby literally broke both of his fucking wrists.

He was currently in the kitchen trying to open a packaged sandwich he got at the convenience store. He just would not give up on it. The plastic kept slipping out of the weak grip he could get his fingers on it, and he had turned it in every direction, trying to find the best angle (to no avail). Hanbin leaned on the doorframe and observed in sheer awe.

It was funny to see Bobby up and about like a regular person because he looked so out of place. When Bobby was confined to his room, he looked like a man on his sickbed. He looked like he belonged there. But out here? Bobby was just a normal guy, but the kicker was that he was a normal guy trying to do basic human tasks without the use of literally both of his fucking arms. It just did not work right. The situation felt innately comical. Hanbin felt a primal need to smile at Bobby’s struggle, and he was not proud of that, but it was how it was.

Bobby complained and asked, “What are you lookin’ at?”

Hanbin gave a short laugh and said, “You.”

“Fuck off,” Bobby grumbled.

Hanbin just laughed again and said, “You can use your teeth, you know.”

Bobby again tried to rip the plastic open with his hands and failed. Pouting like a toddler, he muttered “No.”

Hanbin figured this was about the principle of the matter. He was like that sometimes. He was determined to accomplish his goals, and he truly believed he could achieve anything, so long as he wanted to. He could dead lift a park bench with Donghyuk and Junhoe on it. He would attempt to lift the whole pack at once if you were to challenge him to, because he believes in his arm strength. But if you were to challenge him to a zumba competition, for example, he would claim that he had only danced once before in his life and attempting to do so again would kill him on impact.

This convenience store sandwich had challenged Bobby on a personal level and Bobby would not back down from the fight.

Hanbin ducked out of the room to leave him to it. He had seen every one of Bobby’s tactics by then and it had gotten old.

Some time passed. Hanbin heard the sound of growling, and a little bit of mauling. Hanbin went to investigate.

Bobby stood there, half-shifted into his wolf form, tiny shreds of plastic surrounding him like transparent snowflakes. The entire sandwich was shoved in his cheeks, and he, apparently, was trying to figure out how to chew it. Drool dripped off his fangs and onto the tile as he foamed at the mouth.

“Bobby,” Hanbin deadpanned.

Bobby just stared into the void with his Angry Eyes.

“You can’t eat the whole thing,” he calmly finished.

Bobby bit down on the sandwich, inhaled, and attempted to swallow it whole. He coughed vigorously and had to spit it out in the sink. Hanbin patted his back.

Jinhwan took Bobby back to his room to cool off. Bobby did not typically get angry like that. Hanbin figured the stress of not being able to fend for himself made him touchy.

After cleaning up Bobby’s mess, Hanbin called Hayi.

She listened to Hanbin’s worries well before responding.

“So, if I understand correctly, you’re worried about Bobby straining himself?”

“Yes.”

“Hm,” Hayi spoke thoughtfully. “I can see why you’re worried, but since you haven’t reported any more screaming in the night, I think it’s safe to say he’s healing well. The average beta werewolf heals at two times the speed of a human being, give or take ten percent. It’s not a perfect science. So even if he did cause a strain to his hand or arm doing basic things like that, it would heal basically overnight. I would not recommend he lifts weights or carries in groceries. Tell him not to make fists and throw hands, either. He is very impressive, but to me, not a concern.”

Hanbin sighed. “Thanks. I’m worried about something else too. I think he’s… frustrated. He’s getting angry and being aggressive. He hates not being able to fend for himself.”

“That makes sense. I can’t imagine what it would be like to not have proper use of both my hands. It would be so annoying, I would get frustrated too. Just try to keep him relaxed.”

“Ah… I don’t really, uhm, have a lot of ideas on how to do that.”

“Seriously? But you guys have lived together for so long, I would have thought he let something slip by now.”

“What…?”

“Just do your best with the hand you’re dealt.”

Hanbin almost asked what she was referring to but ultimately decided that the mystery was easier to cope with. He thanked her and hung up the phone.

-♥-

Hanbin entered the bedroom and immediately crawled into bed beside Bobby. He placed a kiss on his fuzz-shadowed cheek. Bobby blushed and hid under the blanket. Hanbin smiled at him, heart soft.

Werewolves needed solo beds to retreat to when necessary, but otherwise, they preferred to puppy-pile. They often tried to sleep with as many wolves congregated on the same surface as possible (they had made it up to three on the single beds). And now with Donghyuk, Junhoe, and Chanwoo working at Hayi’s tea shop for the summer along with the other working wolves? Bobby must be so lonely during the day and night.

Hanbin draped an arm around Bobby’s ribcage, gently. Maybe he could just hug the tension out of him. “Hey.”

Bobby grumbled, “Hey.”

“You miss cuddling, right?”

Bobby pouted and nodded.

Hanbin shifted to get closer. “Mm…” Bobby grumbled. He pulled away.

Hanbin asked, “Again?”

Bobby grumbled, “It’s not like I can’t handle it. It’s just, it’s been a few days….” he swallowed. “I’m just so bored all the time. I’ve never been this bored in my life. I’m just lying around so I can’t help but notice, and I want to do something about it, but… I usually don’t.”

“But you’re alone more often now, so aren’t you able to take care of yourself at all?”

After a moment, Bobby shrugged. “I guess I can, but… it’s kind of gross and hard to clean up. And like… it’s gonna start to hurt. Not really worth it.”

Hanbin pushed his nose against the back of Bobby’s neck. “Poor baby.”

Bobby let out a shaky breath. “Don’t say things like that.”

“Fine,” Hanbin amended, “poor idiot.”

“Hm,” Bobby pondered aloud. “Maybe the other name is better.”

Hanbin laughed softly.

Mumbling, Bobby continued, “It’s easier with help.”

With help… wait. Was Bobby asking what Hanbin thought he was asking? Was God finally taking pity on him?

He had to clarify.

“I’ll help,” Hanbin just forced the words out. That was even harder than he had psyched himself up for. “I can help whenever… if that’s what you’re saying.”

“Really?” Bobby asked. Hanbin nodded. “I feel like a jerk for even asking for it one time.”

“Don’t feel like that,” Hanbin said. “We’re bros, right?”

After a moment, Bobby responded, hesitantly, “Yeah…”

Hanbin hugged him and said, “We are!” That stung. “I’m not just your alpha, we’re best friends, dude, so just… don’t worry!” Was he crying? God this was so fucking hard. “Just ask and I’ll give you a hand.”

Bobby snorted after a moment of silence. Hanbin slowly started to laugh at his own pun, and Bobby followed, both boys breaking down into an immature bout of laughter.

“Please stop talking to Yunhyeong,” Bobby said.

“That’s a good idea.”

“You sure about this, bro?” Bobby lied on his back and raised his eyebrows.

Hanbin nodded a little too fervently. In contrast, he replied, “It’s chill, dude.” He shrugged. “You know, you need endorphins and all. Whatever.”

“If that’s how you feel…” Bobby tilted his head.

Hanbin nodded again. “Better than you destroying things, right?”

Bobby laughed. “That had nothing to do with it.”

Hanbin laughed nervously with him. “I don’t know. You can get kind of intense when you’re in a mood, bro.”

Bobby groaned and covered his face. “Aish, werewolf senses are seriously… aghhh!” He kicked his feet. “The worst.”

“You’re not the one who has to live with you,” Hanbin said. “You have no idea how hard it is for me, dude.” Ha-ha. He had to have been crying by now.

Bro,” Bobby said, almost begging. Hanbin’s dick twitched and he rolled over on his stomach.

“Whatever, man,” Hanbin spoke nonchalantly, and it was nonchalant. It did not actually mean anything. Might as well just do it. “Get your boxers down.”

“Help me, dude,” Bobby said. He gave Hanbin a mischievous smirk. “You don’t want me to strain myself, right?”

Hanbin narrowed his eyes. Bobby smiled, eyes disappearing into happy, self-satisfied crescents. How could a traitor be so cute? It really was unfair.

Hanbin tugged the band of Bobby’s boxers and let it snap against his skin. Bobby yipped a little in surprise and that made Hanbin smile.

Bobby threw a hand over his mouth to cover it. Hanbin’s ear twitched, listened. From the other rooms he heard the muffled sound of video game effects, of music playing in earphones, of gentle snoring. It was as safe as it would ever be.

“You’re good, fam,” Hanbin assured. He squeezed the lotion on to his hand. “Now roll over. No homo.”

Bobby laughed quietly and rolled onto his side.

Just like the first time, Hanbin helped Bobby slip his underwear down just enough to allow access. Bobby was not wearing pants this time around, so… Hanbin tried not to think too hard about it.

Bobby let out a satisfied breath of after Hanbin stroked Bobby’s cock once. Hanbin’s heart fluttered. He was making Bobby happy. He could never want anything more.

It was surprisingly easier than the first time. Hanbin jerked Bobby’s cock in moderate movements, twisting his wrist and swiping his thumb over the head of Bobby’s cock how Hanbin liked to feel it on himself. Bobby’s hips stuttered, gently, but seemingly involuntary. Hanbin pushed his forehead against Bobby’s back and tried to keep his breathing even, but despite his efforts, it sped up to match the pace of his hand. As least it sounded natural.

Bobby came fairly quick, but quieter than last time. Thankfully, the novelty of the situation had seemed to wear off for both of them. Bobby breathed heavy and contented. Hanbin breathed the same way, but through a smile that tugged at the corner of his lips. He moved up, pressed his lips and nose against Bobby’s neck for a moment, pretended he was allowed to kiss him. If he was allowed to notice, the touch would feel like silk.

Hanbin moved away before his lips could move on their own accord and let Bobby’s cock fall against his thigh. Bobby inhaled deeply at that as if roused.

“Bathroom?” Bobby asked. He shifted onto his back. “I’ll come with.”

“Ah…” Hanbin stopped him. He kind of had something to… deal with. “Lemme go first? You can come in when you hear the toilet flush.”

Bobby blinked, seemingly in confusion. He looked so soft under the glow of the moon; his scruff-shadowed skin blurring around the edges, obscured by a blanket of sweet, white gossamer. He looked touched and unmade, someone Hanbin had unraveled and wrapped himself up in.

The light faded.

“Oh,” Bobby hid his face. “Yeah, alright.”

Hanbin let the sheets fall empty on the bed as his body left them cold. He quickly finished himself in the bathroom, flushed. Bobby joined him after that.

So they were doing this now. This was going to be a regular thing. This is what Hanbin had gotten himself into. Great. Upon gaining a deeper understanding of what this meant, Hanbin confirmed that God really did not care after all.

They wished each other goodnight as though it was easy.

-♥-

As a lazy Sunday in, the group decided to have a living room picnic during the aired music show on television. Hanbin and Chanwoo currently monopolized most of the space in front of the television, trying to follow the choreography of the girl group on screen. Junhoe and Yunhyeong wiggled nonchalantly in their seats, but were not quite as into it. Jinhwan just laughed at them. Hayi cheered them on.

As Hanbin’s protégé, Chanwoo had many things to learn, and girl group dances were one of them. The pack training was usually quite intense, they and needed a healthy, unapologetically fun outlet for energy in contrast to all the heavy-duty workouts, and this entertainment came free. Perhaps Hanbin was a bit more into it now than when he began, but whatever, it really was fun. Hanbin and Chanwoo threw their asses in a circle and earned a chorus of lascivious cheers.

Junhoe’s phone began to ring. Junhoe asked Jinhwan to get it, as he was busy. Jinhwan sighed and answered the phone, trying to stifle a giggle as he watched Hanbin and Chanwoo both butcher the same sexy move. Hayi still whooped her support for them.

Catching them in a heartfelt shimmy, Jinhwan walked over to the two dancers. “I hate to break up this father-son bonding moment,” he said, “but the kids are being asked to go into work early today.”

“What?” Donghyuk demanded. His turned his attention away from whatever he had been focusing on with Bobby and looked at Hayi.

Hayi’s mouth dropped in shock. “Don’t look at me! This sucks.”

“They’re your parents,” Junhoe bitched. “Why didn’t they call you?”

“Her mother said she’s been dodging their calls,” Jinhwan said.

Hayi threw her arms out like yeah?! duh! “It’s Sunday!

Hanbin was super beaten up over this, but work was work, they had a duty to the community. “Come on guys, get ready,” Hanbin muted the television. They all groaned and flopped around on the furniture they were seated on as an act of protest.

He eventually wrangled the three kids into working clothes and out the door. He did not push his luck with Hayi and trusted her to follow.

“I better get a free tea for this,” Junhoe grumbled. “With jelly.”

Hayi gave the others a hug before she left. While hugging Bobby, she responded to Junhoe, “Will do. I’m sorry!”

“I’ll come with you,” Jinhwan said. He emerged from the room in a nice shirt. “I don’t work until tonight, but I’ll help you keep them in line. Junhoe is typically the biggest issue.”

Hayi thanked him. She fluffed Bobby’s hair before running out to accompany her fellow employees to the tea store, Jinhwan following behind and shutting the door.

The apartment was suddenly quiet. Hanbin had forgotten how quiet it could be when the population was down to only one or two. For some background noise, he put the volume back up on the television. He gently tossed the remote back on the coffee table and turned to Bobby. Bobby looked at him with his lips in a flat smile. Hanbin laughed at the expression and plopped down on the couch, arm finding its way around Bobby’s shoulders. Bobby leaned his head on Hanbin’s chest.

“Want to watch something else?” Hanbin offered.

Bobby shook his head. “This is fine.”

The previous song ended, and a new one came on. The sound was melodic in a way that made Hanbin want to move to it. Hanbin began to sway, moving Bobby with him. Bobby got tired of being jostled and removed Hanbin’s arm from around his shoulders. Hanbin laughed and got comfy alone. Bobby leaned his head on Hanbin’s shoulder instead. Hanbin rested his hand on Bobby’s thigh.

They fell into a state of mutual peace. They sang along to the music softly, maybe subconsciously. Hanbin listened to the beating of Bobby’s heart.

At some point, Bobby shifted again. He rolled his hips and seemed to readjust himself in his pants. Hanbin tried so hard to convince himself he had not seen that in his peripheral vision. To do so was harder than he thought.

The song that came on the music show next was downbeat and heady. The stage visuals were somewhat romantic, seemingly hypnotic when in sync with the fluid movement of the dancers. It was easy to immerse oneself in. Easy to get lost in.

Hanbin moved his hand up Bobby’s thigh. His breathing halted for a moment. Then he nudged Hanbin’s hand into his lap with a bump of his splint.

Hanbin hooked his hand around the waistband of Bobby’s sweats and pulled them down. Bobby helped. It was probably better to leave his boxers in place, it seemed they had both silently decided on that.

Hanbin palmed Bobby through his underwear. He kept his eyes forward, looking past the television, somewhere between the show and the off-white wall. He zoned out.

Bobby dropped his head back to rest on the couch, eyes shut. Hanbin dropped his head to rest against Bobby’s and continued to rub Bobby through his underwear. It was almost relaxing, despite the odd angles. This just felt like a casual activity. Hanbin worried about how far he was checking out of reality.

But not enough to stop. Hanbin slipped his hand into Bobby’s boxers and stroked him. To lubricate him a little, Hanbin moved to lick his hand, but stopped.

He coughed. “Uhm… I don’t want to be gross, but…”

Bobby’s eyelashes fluttered open. Hanbin thought this is what fairytales must look like when they took on the form of a boy, dewy-eyed and princely in the regal structure of his bones. Bobby made a very good werewolf.

He smirked and said, “You’re already gross, bro.” He reclosed his eyes and nuzzled his head against Hanbin’s again.

Just for that, Hanbin made an obnoxious moaning sound as he licked his hand, and Bobby laughed through his nose.

Hanbin reclosed his fist around Bobby’s cock and continued jerking him off. He spent more time around the head, rubbing circles around it with his thumb to the peak of overstimulation, collecting beads of precum to add to the lubricant on his palm. He moved slowly.

Subconsciously, he checked to see if Bobby’s eyes were still closed. When he confirmed they were, Hanbin slipped his hand under the waistband of his own sweatpants and palmed himself. He was already half-hard. Not that this would take long anyway, given the circumstances. The music show played on but he was not paying attention to the finer details of it. The listless sound, grey noise, just carried him through.

He was getting to know the details of Bobby’s body; how he felt when he was close, how his whole demeanor shifted so subtly you could only tell if you were hyper-focused on the sound of his breath, the pattering of his heartbeat. How his undertones glowed pink, young and sweet, strawberry-flavored lust.

Bobby’s breathing hitched. His moan sounded more like a guttural growl. Hanbin quickly wrapped his other hand around his own cock and squeezed, hard and coaxed quickly to an edge. It was awkward to use his non-dominant hand, but awkward was not enough to inhibit the pleasure.

Bobby spilled first. Hanbin was quick to follow.

Bobby's breathing slowed. He pushed his nose into the crook of Hanbin’s neck. Hanbin felt a smile against his skin.

They were escalating, Hanbin thought. So this might turn out bad for Hanbin in the end. Chances were that it would. He turned his head and pressed his lips to Bobby’s hair to have this moment, as happy as it was supposed to feel.

At the end of the day, the kids returned from work with a tray of cold teas. Junhoe grumpily sipped his sweet-smelling drink and closed himself in his bedroom.

Bobby got one that tasted a bit like honey, so that was nice, probably a much-desired change from his medicine. Hanbin got something aromatic, earthy but sweet, carrying the scent of a flowery perfume. Bobby let Hanbin taste his. Although unsure if Bobby would even like it, Hanbin let Bobby try his when he asked for it.

Bobby’s nose scrunched a little in displeasure at the taste, and Hanbin could not help by laugh, silvery and fond. Bobby pulled his lips off the straw… slow, pouty. He held Hanbin’s eyes. Hanbin swallowed. Bobby licked the straw before handing it back over.

Hanbin… supposed that was payback for being gross earlier. Right.

Bobby raised his eyebrows. “Wanna take this to the bedroom?”

Hanbin raised his eyebrows in return. “Our tea party, you mean?”

Bobby smirked. “Of course.”

Hanbin’s lips curled downward to keep his dopey smile at bay.

From the living room, although Hanbin was not quite paying attention, he heard Donghyuk’s voice demand, ‘What the fuck? Why does the couch smell like sex?’ to which Jinhwan choked, and Yunhyeong scolded Donghyuk, saying something about living with seven robust guys with natural pheromones and don’t jump to weird conclusions about it, blah blah.

Bobby pulled Hanbin into their room by the waistband of his sweatpants and closed the door to muffle their roommates’ unwanted noises.

-♥-

A packet of onigiri dropped into the shopping cart. While Hanbin tried to figure out what was happening, Bobby had swept his arm across the shelf, knocking four more into the cart with his splint.

Bobby had been growing impossibly stir-crazy being trapped in the house for so long. On Monday Hanbin agreed it would be healthy to get him out of the house. So, Hanbin wrangled up him and Donghyuk, because they had some sort of package deal going on, and took them on the convenience store run. Hanbin intended to keep his hand on Bobby’s lower back the entire time.

“Sure, we can get some of those,” Hanbin deadpanned, knowing that Bobby had no intention of asking for permission. He gave Bobby a look. Bobby smiled from ear to ear and sniffled.

And then Hanbin had to look away before he smiled back and lost all authority over Bobby for good.

Donghyuk returned to the cart and placed two boxes of beer in it. Bobby cheered. Hanbin sighed and pulled Bobby’s sleeves down to demand he make himself less conspicuous.

The kids returned to searching around the store and filling the cart to their wallets’ desire. Hanbin checked his messages. Bobby tried to run ahead and Hanbin grabbed a fistful of Bobby’s shirt to anchor him close. He typed with the other hand, telling his mother he was out at the moment and would text later, and of course, that he loved her and Hanbyul. Bobby wriggled and complained the whole time.

Eventually, Bobby yanked himself free of Hanbin’s grasp. Hanbin growled. Bobby skipped behind Hanbin and wrapped his arms around Hanbin’s waist, clasping his fingers together to lock him in a back-hug. Hanbin felt his cheeks heat up.

And then Bobby pressed himself against Hanbin’s backside, and oh no. Oh No.

“Are you,” Hanbin hissed, “not wearing underwear?”

Bobby sniffled, asked, “You got a problem with that?” and sounded too smug for his own good.

Because of the excessively baggy, splint-concealing shirt, Bobby’s shorts were practically hidden, so Hanbin had not noticed a thing. Bobby was really trying to kill him. His own best friend. Et tu, Jiwon?

Hanbin just humphed and refused to answer. He pulled Bobby along as he walked through the shelves, determined to not give Bobby the satisfaction of feeling bothered. They were pretty much in a perpetual state of undress in the apartment, but this was not proper public etiquette. Bobby went commando as some kind of protest again Hanbin’s leadership, he just knew it. Not today, traitor, not today.

Come on, grandpas,” Donghyuk bounded over like a hyperactive fox. He grabbed Bobby’s hand and pulled.

Without meaning to, Hanbin batted Donghyuk’s hand away. He only processed his action after he had done it. He froze. His eyes flicked up from their hands to Donghyuk’s face. Donghyuk looked shocked.

Hanbin swallowed dryly. “I… he’s healing.”

Slowly, Donghyuk rolled his eyes to the ceiling and shook his head. “Seriously…” he mumbled, and ventured back into the store on his own.

Hanbin hung his head in shame. Bobby tightened his hold on Hanbin for a moment, giving him a little squeeze as he said, “Bin… I’m fine.”

Hanbin muttered, “I know.” He had not meant to get possessive. It was Bobby’s fault for making Hanbin feel all hormonal and… mate-y.

He looked down at Bobby’s fingers that had refastened around the front of Hanbin’s body. Hanbin gently pulled them apart and placed his hands on top of Bobby’s. He laced their fingers together as well as he could. Bobby gently curled his fingers to lock Hanbin’s in place.

Hanbin sighed, I know. But he still cared too much.

They completed their convenience store run and brought the items back to the apartment. Bobby did his best to help put them away. Hanbin honestly felt like Bobby was trying to bump into him and remind him that he was not wearing underwear.

Bobby got a kiss on the cheek for his efforts and threw another embarrassed snuffling fit about it. So there was like, literally no such thing as subtle hints with Bobby. Hanbin had no idea what he expected or wanted at this point.

That night, after they finished in the bathroom, Bobby growled and bit Hanbin’s shirt with his fangs, tugging him towards the bedroom. He let go and ran ahead to throw himself into bed and hide under the blanket.

So maybe Hanbin sometimes knew what Bobby was hinting at.

Hanbin closed the door behind them and jumped into bed after Bobby, landing on top of him and wrestling him on the mattress, tangling them both up in sheets.

This time, Hanbin put music on and let it quietly play to help drown out the sound of their activities. They had been at this thing for a little while now. They got better at it.

And maybe Bobby was onto something, because no underwear really did speed the process along.

-♥-

“Yah, move your elbow, jerk,” Junhoe bitched.

“I’m not doing anything to you,” Chanwoo argued back.

Hanbin sat on one end of the couch, leaning on the armrest with a pillow behind his back. He read a book that sat in his lap, not quite waiting for his turn, because he did not care much for the game, but keeping himself occupied in the time he was not offered a controller to face off against one of his babies. Bobby sat on a pillow on the floor to watch the game and wait for his turn down there. He cared more.

Due to recent events, the pack got this weird, tense feeling about them when they saw Bobby and Hanbin near the couch together, so, Bobby sat on the floor.

Suddenly, Chanwoo growled, “Don’t push me, asshole!”

“Yah, rude kid!” Junhoe admonished. “Hanbin hyung, do something about him.”

Hanbin sighed. Because the kid was still in the hazing process, affectionately, he asked, “Chanwoo, what are we?”

Chanwoo sighed back and slumped. “Werewolves, not swear-wolves.”

“Right,” Hanbin said. “So think of a better name to call your asshole brother.”

Game on pause, Junhoe glared at Hanbin over his shoulder. Chanwoo took the moment of hostile silence to think. Junhoe turned back around. Chanwoo muttered, “Don’t push me, Big-Head.”

“Ohh, excellent!” Hanbin approved. Creative and appropriate. “Bonus points for the wordplay on his narcissistic complex.”

Chanwoo smiled. Junhoe snuffled. He threw the remote down. “Games are stupid,” he complained. He stood up to trudge back into his room.

“You’re stupid,” Chanwoo argued, “which is why you don’t know how to play games.”

Junhoe turned back around and growled. Chanwoo seemed unfazed. Bobby simply scooted into the now vacant seat and picked up where Junhoe left off, resuming the game with Chanwoo.

“Junhoe,” Hanbin spoke softly. “No mauling. If you need to let off steam, go for a walk.”

Junhoe glared at Hanbin and said, “I wouldn’t have all this anger inside me if you just let me keep doing jiu-jitsu.”

Of course he would weaponize any resource he could get his hands on. Junhoe was crafty like that. Clearly the kids all took after Hanbin, and Hanbin was so proud.

In the moment, Hanbin just glared at him. “You know DAMN WELL—”

“FINE,” Junhoe bitched back, obviously not wanting Hanbin to have the satisfaction of telling him off. He stormed off to his room and slammed the door.

Teenagers were hard. Hanbin rubbed his hands over his face. In the distance he heard Donghyuk say something incoherent and casual, to which Junhoe responded, loudly, ‘I DON’T WANT TO TALK TO YOU.’

Hanbin sighed again and just resolved to return to his book. Junhoe could not be comforted when he was mad at the world. Better to just let him be.

Donghyuk entered the living room with a sour expression on his face. He saw Hanbin on the couch. His eyes flicked from Hanbin to Bobby, and the air felt tense.

Hanbin actually made an irritable noise as he exhaled.

Lips pursed, Donghyuk turned his attention to the video game on the screen. “Anyway, I don’t get how Junhoe and Jinhwan can date without ripping each other’s heads off.”

“But that’s exactly why,” Hanbin responded. “They can only tolerate each other on this Earth.”

“Jinhwan hyung likes me,” Chanwoo said.

From the bedroom, Hanbin heard Junhoe seethe, ‘Do you want to get your head ripped off?!’ and Hanbin quickly said, “Hey, let’s get pizza for dinner,” to get Donghyuk and Chanwoo out of the apartment, because it would be too difficult to make Chanwoo stop antagonizing Junhoe. It was 3:00pm at the moment, and the pizza should take around 30 minutes to order, wait for, and take home… so dinner would be at around 4pm today. Great.

“Can I come?” Bobby asked. He blinked a pair of puppy-dog eyes at Hanbin.

Hanbin jogged over to Bobby and placed a kiss on his head. “It’s only day 3, so just keep resting a little longer, okay? For your health?” Bobby snuffled, disinterested. Hanbin tried, “For me?”

Bobby sighed and loosened his shoulders. He slumped. He accepted.

Hanbin smiled. He gave the back of Bobby’s neck a little squeeze before running out to make sure he did not lose sight of his kids.

-♥-

Junhoe got home from work at night. When Hanbin checked on the kids before heading to his own room for bed, he saw Junhoe and Chanwoo tangled up in each other on the top bunk. Hanbin supposed they had been fighting and fell asleep in the same position. Junhoe still had his fangs lodged in Chanwoo’s shirt as he snored and soaked the younger wolf in slobber.

Ah, to be young again. Hanbin made sure to text Chanwoo’s parents that he would be sleeping over, and that, thankfully, he was fine.

The resident old man trudged into his room and plopped on his bed. Bobby was awake in his own bed, on his laptop. Hanbin heard a quiet beat in Bobby’s headphones.

“Working?” Hanbin asked.

Bobby shrugged. “Kind of.” Their work was also their leisure when it came to music, so Hanbin supposed Bobby considered ‘real work’ to be the part-time job he got during the school year to send some money back home. Hanbin slipped out of bed and headed over to Bobby’s to see what the boy was composing.

Bobby scooted over and Hanbin sat on the bed with him. Bobby took off his headphones and unplugged them so Hanbin could hear it so far.

They were working on this one together. Hanbin liked the instrumental. He was really into synths and indie guitar melodies lately. Bobby was good at turning any of Hanbin’s overly emotional melodies into a feel-good bop. The song was incomplete, but the feeling was there. The piano sounded like raindrops on a xylophone and it made Hanbin happy inside.

He heard Bobby gasp. Hanbin turned to him, their noses almost bumping. Hanbin turned pink. “What?”

Bobby blinked. He had the fondest look in his eyes, Hanbin almost felt out of place in his own reflection. “You’re smiling.”

Was that surprising? “I smile.”

“Not lately.”

He looked a little guilty. Hanbin just gave an airy laugh and said, “I’ve been stressed, but I smile. You just don’t look.”

“I do, though,” Bobby said. He quickly closed his lips and looked down. Hanbin’s heart almost exploded. The butterflies in him had wings that beat like dragons. Bobby muttered, “Bro.”

To be fair, Hanbin did smile more when he was looking at Bobby, so there were many smiles that Bobby did not see.

Hanbin played the song over again. The recording equipment was connected to the desktop, so they were only working on the laptop with information put on USBs. They should work on their music again soon. Hanbin did not realize until now how lonely it got when his head was not full of the music they made together.

Hanbin touched a key to hear the piano again. Bobby placed his hand over Hanbin’s, seemingly very aware of his weight, and careful. He almost hovered.

Hanbin turned his hand over, palm up. Bobby placed his hand in Hanbin’s, letting the weight of his splint fall. They laced their fingers together. Hanbin silently thanked Bobby for indulging him.

Then Bobby moved their joined hands. He placed them on Hanbin’s thigh.

Hanbin turned his head to look at Bobby, but Bobby did not look back at him. He heard the beat of Bobby’s heart like a carillon, the pitter-patter of steady rain. It luckily did not take a genius to figure things out from here.

Hanbin smiled, pushed his forehead against Bobby’s, his bangs a soft buffer to the touch between them. Hanbin slid his hand under the waistband of his own sweatpants.

They had been doing this for a while now. They had gotten more comfortable. Hanbin did not care anymore if Bobby pretended to not notice.

-♥-

On Sunday, two weeks into Bobby’s recovery, the pack was in various areas of the house when there sounded a knock at the door.

Hanbin saw Junhoe, on the couch, raise his head first, ears perked up. Hanbin heard sniffing all around him.

Junhoe then said, urgently, “I don’t know him.”

Donghyuk asked from the kitchen, “WHO IS IT?”

Hanbin tried to get the situation under control. He reminded them, “Guys, it’s Doctor Seokjin,” but his placation was drowned out by five wolves frantically barking from all corners of the house, “WHO IS IT? WHO IS IT? WHO IS IT? WHO IS IT? WHO IS IT?” over, and over, and over…

Hanbin sighed and stood up. He left Jinhwan poised on the couch on all fours, attempting to stand over Junhoe in a defensive stance. Donghyuk and Chanwoo ran to the kitchen doorway and poked their heads into the living room to get a good look at the front door, curious and clearly afraid. Yunhyeong bounded in from his bedroom on high alert. Honestly, the heightened sense of smell was pretty fucking useless in the case of genuine safety concerns.

Hanbin answered the door. Seokjin stood there with his hands clasped behind his back, a bright smile on his cheeks. Taehyung stood next to him with a smile equally bright.

“Oh,” Yunhyeong commented, “I smell Taehyung.”

Slowly, all the wolves looked into the foyer to evaluate the newcomers. Hanbin welcomed Seokjin and Taehyung inside.

“Guys,” he introduced, “this is Doctor Seokjin, he’s here to check on Bobby’s wrists.”

“Oh,” the pack said in unison. They all calmed down. Well, mostly. Donghyuk stared at Seokjin with his tongue hanging out of his mouth, panting. Yunhyeong’s entire demeanor changed as he skip-trotted back to his room. He must have been doing something to make him happy, like folding or whatever.

Before the hormones could be detected by even a human nose, Hanbin hurriedly ushered the two handsome doctors into the patient’s room.

They were met with a lump of blankets. Bobby poked his head out, sniffing the air. “Oh,” he uncovered his body. “It’s you guys.”

“Hey, Bobby!” Doctor Seokjin cheered. “Sorry if we scared you.”

“Nah, just naturally defensive,” Bobby explained. He raised his arms. “Especially with these on.”

“That’s why we’re here!” Seokjin said. “To check on you.”

“Have you been feeling the urge to inappropriately half-shift?” Taehyung abruptly asked. Hanbin noticed he had a binder and pen in his hands.

“Nope,” Bobby said. “I’ve been feeling normal.”

Taehyung wrote that down. “Have you experienced any more extreme pain at night?”

“Nope, not extreme,” Bobby said. “It just kind of always hurts. Hayi’s medicine helps.”

Taehyung wrote that down as well. “Have you or any of the wolves noticed that you smell like pestilence and/or death?”

Bobby blinked owlishly at that one. “Uh… I… haven’t noticed…” he looked to Hanbin. Hanbin quickly shook his head to confirm he did not smell anything of that variety either.

“Just a little musky under the splints,” Hanbin said. Bobby nodded.

Taehyung wrote that down as well. “Well, that’s the werewolf examination done with. You got any questions for him?”

“Just the boring human ones,” Seokjin smiled. Bobby actually did smile back. “Do the splints feel looser?” Seokjin asked. Bobby shook his head. “Okay, they told me your swelling probably went down the night after you had that intense bout of bone reconstruction, but I just have to make sure.”

Seokjin told Bobby to hold his wrists still. Seokjin held each splint and tested them.

“These actually are a little too loose,” Seokjin said.

“Oh,” Bobby said, “sorry, I didn’t notice.”

“No, that’s good,” Seokjin said. “That just means you’re healing well. Let me just adjust these for you now really quick. This will hurt a little.”

Bobby nodded. Hanbin stood beside Bobby to offer a sense of protection. Seokjin completed his procedure while Bobby held his breath during the more painful parts, and Hanbin kept his hand on Bobby’s neck and shoulder through the whole thing, keeping him steady.

Seokjin happily recorded his notes. “Great! We’re all done. Taehyung?”

“Oh,” Bobby examined his wrists. “That actually does feel a little better.”

Seokjin was absolutely glowing with pride.

Taehyung stepped forward to take his place in front of Bobby, where Seokjin had been. He took Bobby’s hand in his own. “Can you just grow your claws for me please?”

Bobby did as he was told. Taehyung gently squeezed his hand, as if massaging it, and recorded his findings when he was done. He did the same to the other hand. Seokjin watched the process intently with a hand on his chin.

“Lookin’ good,” Taehyung confirmed. He smirked and gave Bobby a playful wink. Bobby laughed shyly and ducked his head. If they were not all professionals here, Hanbin might have felt a tad jealous. Wouldn’t that be something.

But seriously, doctors had no business being this good-looking.

Taehyung and Seokjin both examined Bobby’s head just to be on the safe side. They questioned him about light-headedness, dizziness, and headaches, and Bobby confirmed he felt fine.

“I think it’s safe to let him out and about now,” Taehyung confirmed. “Just be careful not to get the splints wet.”

They gave Bobby a lollipop to end the visit, and Bobby got out of bed to personally escort Seokjin and Taehyung to the front door. Five pairs of enchanted eyes followed them all the way out. Bobby and Hanbin bowed, the wolves did the same, and Donghyuk waved, half in a daze.

As soon as they left, Bobby turned to Hanbin and beamed. “Can I go out today?”

Ah… this was happening fast. The two weeks only just came to a close, Bobby’s ribs should still be tender. Hanbin said, “You can go to the lobby to pick up the Chinese food for dinner?”

Bobby slumped and huffed. Hanbin laughed, apologetic, and wrapped Bobby up in a hug. Bobby sniffled and dropped his chin on Hanbin’s shoulder as he hugged back.

-♥-

“Oh,” Hanbin said. “I got a text from Jisoo. She wants to meet up.”

Bobby slumped down on the couch with a pout on his face. Like, a real, genuine pout. He was sad and frowning like a child. Hanbin raised his eyebrows to marvel at the sight. They had received their invite to the inauguration that morning and Bobby had been a tad touchy since.

Bobby pushed Hanbin’s arm down so he would stop looking at the text. “Are you going to meet her?”

Hanbin shrugged a shoulder. “Didn’t you want to get ice cream?”

Instantaneously, Bobby sat upright, back straight and wide eyes on Hanbin’s. He blinked. “You’ll bring me?”

What was going on here? “Of course…” he inquired, “Why are you surprised?”

Bobby hung his head, looked at the floor. “I thought… you would want to be alone.”

“Oh,” Hanbin had not even thought of that. “I just assumed she would bring her pack.”

Bobby asked, “So?”

“So what?”

“So do you want to be alone with her?”

Hanbin shook his head. “Not really.”

Bobby’s eyes met Hanbin’s again. There was a dim glow reflected in them, soft and gauzy under the light that filtered in through the translucent curtain.

Hanbin let out a dubious laugh. “You seriously believed what Donghyuk said about her liking me? She was being nice.” Going for flippant and jokingly self-deprecating, Hanbin added, “Girls don’t like me.”

Bobby shrank behind his shoulders, said, “You don’t know who likes you…”

Another breathy laugh escaped Hanbin’s throat. He flopped backwards to rest on the couch, eyes looking past the television as he said, “But it’s okay. I don’t like them either.”

A moment passed in silence while Hanbin’s brain caught up with the words he subconsciously spoke. The silence was broken by his soft intake of breath.

He had never admitted that out loud before. He really never had a plan for how to do it, rather relied on his packmates figuring it out on their own, on Bobby never figuring it out for himself, on Hanbin never having to make himself vulnerable to Bobby by actually coming out to him.

Alas.

Eyes wide, Hanbin turned to Bobby. Bobby had this look on his face like he was petrified. His heart was racing as Hanbin’s was.

“Bro,” Hanbin quickly tried to rectify their friendship. “Dude, it’s not—I never meant for it to be like that when we… when we did stuff. I’m really sorry.” He stood up to head to his room. “I’m really sorry, man.”

Bobby grabbed Hanbin’s shirt. “Hey,” he said. He sounded… eerily calm. “It’s not weird. I know whatever you did you did it for me. So thanks for that still. No big deal.”

Hanbin’s eyelashes fluttered, eyelids perhaps trying to un-stick themselves after being wide open for so long. “O-oh…” he said. He breathed.

“Yeah,” Bobby said. His tone was flat and empty. “You made your feelings clear. So don’t worry.”

“I…” Hanbin’s tongue was heavy, reluctant, sticking to his teeth like chicle. “I don’t think I did.”

“You did,” Bobby assured. “Don’t worry, bro. You’re good.”

Bobby smelled sad. He smelled hurt. It was salt and unprocessed anger just waiting to boil over, hot and metallic.

Wilting, Hanbin chanced, “Are you disappointed?”

Bobby did not answer. Hanbin was not sure if he was going to. Ah, Hanbin should not have expected a better reaction. These things were tough to hear about any friend, nevermind someone bound closer to you than family. Bobby was owed his time to feel weird about him.

Hanbin gave him time but Bobby did not end up answering. Hanbin took his silence as an affirmative. He went to the laundry room in the apartment to hide beside a washing machine and drown his thoughts in the roar of the spin cycle and cry.

Around 30 minutes later a pair of legs walked in front of him. Hanbin had stopped crying by this time. He had his knees up to his chest, arms around his knees, head down. He stared at their clunky shoes.

Junhoe lowered himself to the floor and sat down. He handed Hanbin an ice cream cone. Hanbin accepted it and raised it to Junhoe as a thank you before uncapping it and sticking it in his mouth.

Junhoe ate his own cone. After a few licks passed in silence, Junhoe said, “Do you think stuffed toys feel like they’re drowning when you put them in the washing machine?”

Hanbin thought about it. “We’re all drowning in our own washing machines, really.”

Junhoe’s lips curled around a contemplative ‘hm’ as he nodded in agreement.

After another minute passed, Junhoe said, “But seriously, about Mr. Snuffles…”

Hanbin asked, “You put him in your mouth again, right?”

Junhoe nodded at the floor. He produced a stuffed bear from the pocket of his basketball shorts and placed it on the floor in front of him.

Hanbin nodded back. So they would have to spin-cycle Yunhyeong’s poor teddy bear again. Must have been another play-fight gone bad. Yunhyeong was probably sulky over it again. Hanbin would deal with that later.

Hanbin and Junhoe pushed the toes of their shoes together and ate their ice cream.

At the end of a long day, Hanbin dropped into bed, spent and short a few dollars from the Laundromat. Kids were tough but rewarding and beautiful creatures. Plus, Hanbin had been able to avoid being around Bobby most of the day, so that gave him time to heal. Not completely, but the wound closed. He could carry on now.

A butt sat down on Hanbin’s bed and the person it belonged to smelled like Bobby. Hanbin turned around and saw his keen werewolf senses were in fact correct. This was Bobby’s butt. Why? Hanbin raised his eyebrows. Bobby reciprocated the look and threw his legs on the bed to rest his back against the headboard.

Hanbin sat up. “Uh, hi?”

Bobby responded, “Hi,” and wiggled his feet, knocking them together.

Not getting much out of that, Hanbin pressed, “Uh… what are you doing here?”

Bobby gave him a questioning look. He seemed to realize something, and his expression fell. He looked at his hands. “Do you not want to do stuff anymore?”

That was surprising. Hanbin leaned forward, rapt. “I thought you didn’t want to do stuff with me anymore.”

Hanbin was again held under Bobby’s questioning gaze. “Why would you think that?” Bobby asked. In a stronger, more assertive tone, Bobby assured, “It’s okay, Hanbin! Seriously, it’s not weird, man. I don’t want to stop doing stuff if you don’t. I get that it doesn’t mean anything to you.”

Hanbin perked right up. He ignored everything after ‘it’s not weird’. Beaming, he threw his arms around Bobby and cheered, “Really?! Oh my god.” He pulled Bobby on top of him while Bobby laughed. “I thought you didn’t want to be friends anymore.”

“What?!” Bobby pulled away so he could look Hanbin in the eyes. He probably had not meant to, but he punched Hanbin in the stomach with his splint and winded him for a hot second. “Are you going crazy? Bro, of course I want to be your friend! I could never lose you as a friend…” his eyes softened, smile fell at the corners. He looked soft. He felt soft in Hanbin’s hands cupped around his slender waist.

And Hanbin felt the same. They got each other. He just pulled Bobby back down and hugged him against his chest. As best as he could, Bobby hugged back. They just wanted to stay friends no matter what. While that hurt Hanbin more than it hurt Bobby, Hanbin gladly accepted the pain.

And now not all of Bobby was soft in Hanbin’s arms. There was definitely something Not Soft against Hanbin’s thigh. Hanbin cleared his throat, said, “Uh…”

Bobby hid his face in the crook of Hanbin’s neck. “Stop,” he mumbled, “you know this is why I came here…”

Hanbin laughed. “So I’m just your booty call now?”

“Yup,” Bobby said. Hanbin scoffed and smacked Bobby’s ass. Bobby laughed and wiggled off of Hanbin’s body to defend himself. “You started it.”

“You shut up,” Hanbin argued back. “I only offered to help you.”

“You still started it.”

Hanbin warned, “I could finish it.”

“You could finish me.”

Hanbin glared. Bobby’s complacent smirk reached his eyes.

In almost no time at all, Hanbin broke down in laughter. He pushed his forehead against Bobby’s bicep to hide his shame. Bobby laughed with him and wiggled around on the bed.

“Why are you so wiggly?” Hanbin asked. He lifted his head to see Bobby squirming around on the mattress.

Bobby did not even answer. Not really. He just made a heheheh noise and continued wiggling.

This is what Hanbin had fallen in love with. He sighed.

When Bobby finally found a comfortable position to lie in, he stopped wiggling. His eyes fluttered open and he looked up at Hanbin with a smile. His two casted arms rested on his tummy.

Hanbin giggled as he asked, “Are you waiting for something?”

Bobby replied, “You.”

Hanbin’s heart skipped a beat. He shoved Bobby and said, “Don’t be sappy, bro.”

Bobby made a growly noise and said, “Agh, I’m setting the mood! Fine, just do it.”

“Demanding,” Hanbin said, and was not sure if he was scolding.

Bobby’s bottom lip jutted out. Fine, fine… He plopped his head down on his pillow and got to work on pulling Bobby’s pants down. Bobby lifted his butt off the bed to help. They had gotten pretty good at this. Hanbin could remember feeling nervous about taking Bobby’s pants off but could not actually remember the feeling itself.

Bobby rolled on his side, nearly flush against Hanbin on the single mattress. Hanbin thought it was perfect for the two of them.

Hanbin squeezed some lotion onto his hand but skipped warming it in his palm this time. He closed the gap between them and wrapped his hand around Bobby’s cock. Bobby hissed through his teeth a little at the sensation, but the sound quickly softened into quiet laughter. Hanbin smiled and placed a kiss against Bobby’s back.

This would be so much fun if they were in love, Hanbin thought. This teasing would be so romantic. They would do this to flirt. Hanbin would smile against Bobby’s skin as the lotion in his palm heated up against the length of Bobby’s cock. Bobby would giggle in response to Hanbin’s antics because he liked the puppyish playtime.

Hanbin stroked Bobby’s cock in his hand in slow, full movements. His smile remained pressed against the back of Bobby’s shirt. He placed another kiss to the thin layer of fabric between them, warm against Bobby’s skin. Bobby placed his hand on top of Hanbin’s as if moving with him.

The moment passed in relative silence, save for breathing and hearts beating. “Mm, bro…” Bobby said, and a moment later Hanbin felt Bobby come, coating his hand in warmth.

Bobby repeated the word a few times, but it sounded more like, “Bin, Bin…” as though Hanbin’s name was drawn out of his lungs, up the column of his throat and leaking out the corner of his lips like milk as Hanbin’s hand worked the last droplets of come from his cock.

They stayed like that for a moment. Sounds that sounded like Hanbin’s name quieted in Bobby’s mouth. They both caught their breath.

Bobby moved first to get some toilet tissue from Hanbin’s bedside nightstand and clean himself and Hanbin up. He probably did not do a very good job, but it was the effort that counted.

“Thanks, baby,” Hanbin said. He kissed Bobby’s shoulder. He then sat up, threw his leg over Bobby’s body, and stepped off the bed to head to the bathroom. He gave a weak, tired wave and said, “Night.”

“Night, man.”

The whole thing was so routine that Hanbin did not even notice his slip-up. The pet name felt as natural as everything else by that point. He found some solace in the fact that Bobby had not found it worthy enough to comment on.

-♥-

Donghyuk walked past the others into the living room. Hollering immediately ensued, whopping and mocking him for the rated show.

“What?” Donghyuk asked. He immediately sighed. He seemed to understand he put on the wrong pair of sweatpants.

Bobby wolf-whistled. “Nice ASS!

“Not in front of the kid, Donghyuk,” Yunhyeong scolded. From beside him, Jinhwan covered Chanwoo’s eyes. Chanwoo grumbled, “I’m an adult…”

“Seriously, I’m wearing underwear…” Donghyuk sighed loudly and began trudging back to the room to change into a pair of pants without a hole cut for the tail.

As he left, Bobby shouted, “WORK IT, BABY.

And Hanbin thought about what it meant to have a pack. To have those who love you unconditionally, bound deeper than friendship, than mutual like, sometimes even mutual tolerance. To weave an unbreakable bond between people with a string of supernatural DNA. Whether they were fighting, snuggling, mocking one another for wearing assless sweats, they were a family. Is this determined by the bite, or is it built by the bitten pack members?

Hanbin had asked why alphas look for young people to start a pack with. His old alpha had told him that young people are still pure, for the most part, still able to be nurtured and acclimatized into a new family. They were also unspoiled, he said, in the way of selfishness, of sociopathic gluttony. Young people were more likely to be loyal, to develop a sense of loyalty, where adults may already be spoiled by the world, by their own corrupt moral compass. You could never trust them not to turn on you.

Mindlessly, having heard the buzz, Hanbin wandered to the apartment intercom and opened the front door of the apartment. He wandered back to his seat while his wolves played with and teased each other.

And Hanbin wondered what that was all about. Were younger kids easier to brainwash, or did this world really wear people down, maul and mutate them under the pressure of success, the lust of wealth? Were kids just easy targets? Or was it their pureness that really made them eligible, an attribute all on its own? One not to be exploited, but cherished? Was it simply valuable, or necessary?

Hanbin liked to believe it was unselfish love that bound them regardless of age.

He breathed in and almost smelled his blood. His biological family. He felt he should be better to them.

He heard a knock at the door. Wait a second.

“I smell… Hanbin,” Junhoe scrunched his eyebrows. “I smell more Hanbins.”

Jinhwan laughed, “It’s Mrs. Kim and Hanbyul, dummy.”

Everyone grew excited, barking, “HANBINS! HANBINS! HANBINS! HANBINS!” and Hanbin was so happy! His family was here! His sister! His mother!

…Oh no!

“Bobby!” Hanbin said. “YUNHYEONG, WAIT.”

Yunhyeong froze with his hand on the doorknob.

Hanbin turned to Bobby and said. “Hide in the room. She’s gonna get stressed out if she sees you like this.”

Bobby gasped, realizing the gravity of the situation, and hurriedly jogged to their bedroom. He closed the door behind him.

Hanbin got up off the couch and went to the front door. He opened it with Yunhyeong.

“Oppa!” Hanbyul cheered. Hanbin broke into a huge, toothy smile, picked his little sister up and gave her a big hug. Yunhyeong ushered his mother inside. Hanbin nudged the door closed with his shoulder.

“Hey, guys!” Hanbin said. The wolves bowed, invited Hanbin’s mom to sit on the couch. Jinhwan went to the kitchen to make tea. Chanwoo fluffed a pillow and slipped it behind her back. “What are you doing here?”

Taken from her Chanwoo-induced trance, Mrs. Kim turned her attention back to Hanbin as if startled. “Oh,” she said. “Well, Hanbin, you haven’t really been forthcoming on the phone… it’s Chanwoo, right?” Chanwoo nodded and bowed again. “Right. Where are the—”

She did not get a chance to finish the question before Donghyuk and Junhoe bounded into the room in full-wolf form, panting and wagging their tails. Hanbyul screamed.

“Hey, look, Byul-ah!” Hanbin tried not to panic. His wolves knew what they were doing, right? This would be fine. This would not end badly. “It’s my dogs, Hu and Mneh.”

Hanbyul hesitantly turned to look at them. Donghyuk had his butt in the air, wagging his tail. Junhoe dropped to the floor and rolled on his back, tongue flopping out.

Hanbyul said, “The doggie wears pants, oppa.”

“He sure does!” Hanbin said, bouncing Hanbyul in his arms. “Hu wears pants! And Mneh… doesn’t.” Hanbin glared at Junhoe. Junhoe blinked at him with big, innocent eyes.

Hanbyul wrestled Hanbin to be let down. She jogged over to the wolves and gently patted Donghyuk on the head. Donghyuk licked her hand and Hanbyul screamed again, but she did not run away. She fell to her knees and rubbed Junhoe’s stomach. Junhoe wiggled around in pure joy.

Jinhwan entered from the kitchen, a tray of tea in his hands. He laughed softly and shook his head at the sight of the kids. He and Hanbin sat down with Chanwoo, Yunhyeong, and his mother on the couch.

Hanbin felt eyes on him. He looked between Yunhyeong and Chanwoo. They stared at him, eyes watering.

Hanbin sighed. “Yes, you can play.”

Yunhyeong and Chanwoo leapt off the couch and dashed down the hall. They reemerged soon after in full-wolf form, Yunhyeong fully clothed, but Chanwoo had stripped down to only his white band shirt. Hanbin introduced them to Hanbyul as Ye and (unfortunately) Oowoo. Hanbyul was having the time of her life and yelled about how these doggies wore shirts too and threw her arms around Chanwoo to hug him.

Hanbin returned his attention to his mother. He took a cup of tea. “Sorry about that. You know kids.”

“I… do,” his mother hesitantly replied. Hanbin understood where the misunderstanding came from.

“So how are you, mother?” Jinhwan asked.

“I’m doing well, Jinhwan-ah, thank you,” she said. “How are you all? Hanbin won’t tell me.”

“We’re doing well!” Hanbin said. “We all have jobs now, and we’ve been training a fair amount this summer. Just waiting for the monsoons to be over.”

“Yes, but,” his mother pressed, “how is your health? Are you all eating your vitamins? Should I be worried?”

“Oh no,” Jinhwan said. He shook his head. “Not at all. Do you need any sugar?”

“Hm?” she looked at her tea. “Oh, no, this is fine, thank you.” She looked up, seemingly wracking her brain for a missing thought.

Hanbin played off of Jinhwan’s distraction. “This is from Hayi’s family’s tea shop. We should go sometime. They make bingsu with their own green tea. The kids all work there now.”

“Their products are really top quality,” Jinhwan said. “Hanbin, we should take Hanbyul sometime to get bingsu.”

“I’d love to!” Hanbin said. “We’re a little busy today, but let’s plan something, okay? I’ll call you, mom.”

At least the peace conferences had really improved their deflection and summarization skills. They could get discussions done with in no time.

“It was great to see you, mother,” Jinhwan said with a smile.

“I missed you, mom,” Hanbin said, and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you for stopping by.”

“Oh… right,” she said. She placed her tea back on the tray. “Well, it was great to see everyone.”

“Would you like to take any of that tea home with you?” Jinhwan offered. “It’s full of vitamin C.”

“We should be worried about you, mom,” Hanbin said, “not the other way around. Are you getting enough sun? Are you taking your vitamins? Are you eating well?”

Hanbin’s mother smiled. “I’m fine. I just wanted to check on you all, because honestly, Hanbin, you sounded like you were avoiding me.”

“Oh, mom,” Hanbin said, flippantly waving a hand. Pffft.

“Come home sometime, okay? You never come home anymore.”

“Will do,” Hanbin promised.

“And tell the kids…” she paused. She looked over at the group of wolves gently nosing at Hanbyul and letting her tug on their ears. Her eyes narrowed, seemingly examining them. “Wait, where’s Bobby?”

Seriously? She noticed all of their eyes? Do mothers have like, a sixth sense for trouble?

“He’s probably napping,” Jinhwan easily said. “He had a late night last night.”

“Oh?” she asked. “Doing what?”

“Music,” Hanbin and Jinhwan said in unison. They side-eyed each other. So… Jinhwan had heard the music part of the night. Hanbin was not going to ask what else Jinhwan heard and he was sure that Jinhwan was not itching to tell him.

Hanbin’s mother accepted that. She told Hanbyul that she only had five minutes left with the doggies while she finished her tea. Hanbyul whined and defiantly latched onto Yunhyeong’s leg. Yunhyeong, playing along, protectively wrapped around her. She just drank her tea with taut lips.

In the time Hanbin spent with his mother – their fun little mother-son silent tea party – Jinhwan set his mother up with a sample of Hayi’s organic tea in a hex bag. Hanbin’s mother did not need to know what the bag was called. Hanbin told her to enjoy the pouch. She was adjusted, but not that adjusted.

They hugged at the door. Donghyuk carried Hanbyul on his back and delivered her to her mother. With a strained ‘thanks’, Hanbin’s mother lifted her daughter off the wolf’s back. Donghyuk bowed and backed away. Hayi waved to him.

“Tell Jiwon I said hello,” she said. “Bye all.”

“Bye oppas, bye doggies,” Hanbyul waved them all off. The wolves sat down and waved back, making Hanbyul laugh one last time before the door shut behind them.

The wolves, in unison, all turned to Hanbin for a reaction.

Hanbin sighed. “You didn’t fuck up. Good job.”

The wolves excitedly jumped around, wrestled, and rolled down the hall into their rooms. It was always thrilling to successfully avoid a reprimand.

Hanbin went to the bedroom to check on Bobby.

Bobby was drooping, wolf ears grown out and shoulders slumped. He sniffled.

Hanbin said, “Sorry about that. You can play with my sister as soon as you heal. We’ll go home together.”

Bobby just sniffled again and nodded.

Hanbin felt so bad for him. He offered, “Want me to pretend I can’t hear you play WWE with Donghyuk and not barge in to stop you?”

Bobby straightened his back, lighting up. He smiled.

Donghyuk bounded in, half-shifted and now wearing a shirt and sweatpants with the ass intact. He tackled Bobby to the mattress. Bobby growled and snuffled at him with zeal.

Unselfish love. They were bound by something much more than matching scars made by fangs in their skin.

Bobby laughed. Hanbin gazed at him and worried that he had been selfish lately. He wondered if that was okay as long as his intentions were pure. He wondered if he was still pure in spite of all he had done…

The smile on Bobby’s face was all-encompassing and irresistible.

…In spite of all he would continue to do.

He shut the door and let Bobby smile without him.

-♥-

As he healed, Bobby liked to test Hanbin’s patience when it came to the splints more and more.

A few nights later, Hanbin was awoken by the sound of Velcro. His ears perked up.

“Leave it on,” he mumbled.

Bobby made a noise of frustration. “Just leave me alone.”

“Leave the splint,” Hanbin instructed.

Bobby grumbled, “It doesn’t take a lot of effort to jerk my dick.”

Hanbin said, “Don’t touch the splint.”

Hanbin heard the sound of the bed creaking, heard covers being pulled up. Bobby whimpered and grumbled something incoherent, but it sounded rude.

Hanbin sighed. “Why don’t you want to heal?”

“I’m fine,” Bobby said. “I won’t do anything to my wrist.”

“You don’t know that,” Hanbin said. “You will hurt it if you take the splint off.”

“No I won’t,” Bobby argued. “I can handle it. I’m strong enough.”

“No,” Hanbin said, “you’re not. I know you think you are, but you’re not.”

“How would you know?”

“It’s my job to know how strong my pack is, and I know you’re not strong enough to heal this one on your own terms.”

Voice muffled by either a blanket or pillow, Bobby grumbled, “Screw you, you don’t know anything about how strong I am.”

Hanbin sighed again. He took off his blanket, stood up. “Yes I do.”

Bobby stayed quiet.

Hanbin continued, “I know you’re strong. I know you’ve survived a lot. But breaking your wrists is not the same thing as being lonely in Korea.”

“You don’t know what it’s like,” Bobby muttered. “I had nobody. I had a distant cousin somewhere halfway across Seoul. I had to do everything by myself. I had to get sick and hurt by myself. I got better by myself.”

“You met Taeoh-nim in the booth of a Bibimbap shop a block away from your university,” Hanbin spoke slowly, carefully, “crying into a bag of bungeoppang. And he told you he could help you, and you jumped on it.”

Bobby sniffled. “So?”

Hanbin approached Bobby’s bed. “I believe,” he said, “that you can handle anything life throws at you. You’re strong. You’re the strongest person I’ve ever met. But you’re not magic. Werewolves are not magical, we just heal fast. You still need medical help. You still have rhinitis. I still have… my issues.” Bobby shifted a little, perhaps to involve himself a little more in the conversation. “We need help sometimes. And you know that.”

Bobby just sniffled again.

Hanbin kneeled on Bobby’s bed. He placed a hand on the blanket.

“So just… let me help you.”

Bobby rolled on his back. Hanbin’s hand slid along the blanket to the spot atop the fabric where Bobby’s cock would be. Hanbin pressed down. Bobby stared at him for a moment, eyes on his eyes, and then rolled his hips up against Hanbin’s palm.

Hanbin pulled the blanket off along with Bobby’s boxers as fast as he could. Bobby helped him, lifting himself off the bed to make it easier. Bobby then knocked a bottle of lotion out from under his pillow. He was probably planning on doing this no matter what Hanbin told him. Hanbin gave him a scolding look, but squeezed lotion onto his hand, warmed it in his fist.

He supported himself on his arm. He wrapped his other hand around Bobby’s cock.

Bobby inhaled a deep breath, let it out, then pushed Hanbin down. Hanbin dropped onto the bed, back on the mattress and head on the pillow, exactly how Bobby positioned him, how he wanted him. He kissed Hanbin’s cheek, held his lips there, pressing kiss after kiss after kiss… Hanbin, lips lax and parted, moved his hand. Bobby kept kissing him, slow, hard, and Hanbin moved in sync with it; the same strength, the same languid pace.

A kiss was pressed onto his jaw and Hanbin felt fangs graze his skin. He gasped, wrist jerking from the rush of pleasure. He turned his wrist around the head of Bobby’s cock, worked that for the moment, moved his hand back down along the length. Bobby kissed him again, softer. It put him at ease.

Hanbin let out a breath. “Why do you do this to me?” he whispered. “Why can’t you just make it easy on me? Why can’t you be good?”

Bobby thrust once into Hanbin’s fist, licked a spot over Hanbin’s skin, kissed it. “Why do you pretend you don’t like it?”

Hanbin did not respond for a moment, could not respond until he caught his breath. “I don’t always.”

Were they talking about Bobby’s insistence on being independent, Hanbin wondered, or how Hanbin tried to hide his feelings? Maybe both. He would not ask for clarification.

Bobby shuffled downward and pushed Hanbin’s head to face the opposite side. He pushed his lips into the crook of Hanbin’s neck and kissed all the way down. Hanbin quickened the pace at which he jerked Bobby’s cock, the ardency.

After a few more strokes, a few more kisses down Hanbin’s neck and ceasing at the top of his clavicle, Bobby gasped and moaned. Hanbin felt fangs against his collarbone. He pushed his forehead against Bobby’s, hand still working Bobby’s cock, both breathing in time with the motions. Lips ghosted over lips.

“Put those away,” Hanbin instructed, “if you’re going to bite me.”

After a moment, Bobby nodded. He then bit into Hanbin’s shoulder, human teeth bruising skin through his cotton shirt, and Bobby came with a muffled moan into Hanbin’s hand.

Hanbin slipped his hand under the waistband of his own sweatpants, no underwear to hinder him, and jerked himself off in his pants. A few quick motions pushed Hanbin over his edge, coating his hand a second time, lungs still panting at the same pace as Bobby’s. When Hanbin’s eyes fluttered open, he saw that Bobby’s were trained on the spot where Hanbin’s hand disappeared under his sweatpants.

Hanbin slowly pulled his hand out, wiping it on the fabric of his pants as he did so. There was no saving them anyway. Bobby’s heart skipped a beat when he saw it. Hanbin searched for the expression on his features. Bobby was doused in the moon and glowed as though glossed over with water, a yakamoz effect on his skin, in his shining eyes.

Hanbin lifted himself onto his forearm. Bobby rested his head on his pillow, angled his head upward. His gaze settled on Hanbin’s. His lips were swollen into a rosy pink pout and Hanbin could not tell if Bobby was happy or just lost in numbness.

He looked perfect. How could Hanbin resist? He leant down and kissed Bobby’s lips, hand falling to touch Bobby’s abdomen. Bobby moved his lips against Hanbin’s. Hanbin thought this is probably what imploding felt like.

They kissed and Hanbin pulled back first to break them apart. Bobby’s eyes, shining and dark, opened to catch the moonlight once more. He looked exactly as he did before, swollen and glossy and perfect and expressionless, like Hanbin did not affect him for a second.

That was the wake-up call Hanbin had needed. He abruptly sat upright and noticed for the first time that there was cum drying on his hand, in his pants, and on Bobby’s abdomen where he had smeared stray droplets. Bobby really did put Hanbin in a dream state. But Bobby was just in the afterglow, and Hanbin needed to get over himself.

Sheepish, Hanbin rubbed the back of his neck. The bruises forming along the length of it would be gone by morning. How easy it must have been for Bobby to not have to commit to his love, not even the remnants of it, while Hanbin lived with so much of his own that Bobby did not even have enough skin for Hanbin to scar it on.

“Heh,” Hanbin awkwardly laughed, “that was… that was done in the heat of the moment, sorry.”

Bobby blinked. He almost looked like he was waking up from a daze. “What?”

Hanbin fake-laughed again and said, “You know, what I… just… did.”

“What you just did?” Bobby blinked again. He gave a short laugh. “Oh. You’re a good kisser, bro.”

Was he serious? Hanbin forcibly kept his fake smile on. “Ah… thanks, man. I, uh, I guess hormones are really hard to control in the afterglow, right? Because… that happened. I didn’t mean to do that.”

Bobby’s expression fell as though he was disappointed. He stammered, “No—no big deal, man.”

And that was just what Hanbin wanted to see: post-sex disappointment. Great! Hanbin needed to ditch this conversation. “Yeah. Sorry. Let’s clean up.” He practically jumped out of bed. “You want to come with me?”

Bobby sprung upright as if startled. “Uh, yeah,” he nodded and quickly shuffled out of bed, pulling his boxers up once standing, “yeah to both.” He tip-toe-hobbled alongside Hanbin into the bathroom.

Hanbin’s ears picked up murmurs coming from the kids’ bedroom.

“How do you even have sex with two broken wrists?” Yunhyeong whispered.

“Carefully,” Donghyuk responded.

Junhoe snored, although his heart rate suggested he was staying out of it rather than sleeping. Jinhwan was definitely awake, listening to the gossip.

Hanbin closed the door bathroom behind them and shut the others out.

 -♥-

The packs divided up to use two of the booths in the ice cream parlour. Hanbin, Bobby, Jisoo, Hayi, Chanhyuk, Junhoe, and Jinhwan took one booth, and the rest of the packs took the other. Jinhwan sat on Junhoe’s lap to make space. Hanbin held Bobby’s ice cream cone to make it easier for him to eat.

“I’m so glad we finally got to do this,” Jisoo beamed, spooning her strawberry ice cream into her mouth. “How are you guys?! I mean, other than that.”

She nodded to Bobby. Hanbin sighed and ate another spoonful of his ice cream – dark chocolate ripple, made in a cave in Belgium and kissed by Aphrodite herself of something. It was expensive, but good, and Jisoo treated Hanbin’s maknaes, so maintaining pack relations was more important than being frugal here.

“We’re doing well,” Hanbin said. “The kids all work at Hayi’s tea shop now,” he nodded to the gift given to Chanhyuk, a sample of healing potion, “except Jinhwan and Yunhyeong, they have their regular jobs. And Jiwon and I are working on music.”

(Chanhyuk’s gift – some horrific-looking specimen preserved in jelly, thanks Chanhyuk – sat next to Hayi, but she did not seem at all afraid it would break out of its confines and slaughter them, so that brought Hanbin a bit of comfort.)

“Wow, so many kids to keep track of,” Jisoo smiled and shook her head. “I only have three, I can’t imagine six.”

“Well,” Hanbin reasoned, “Jinhwan is my second-in-command, and Junhoe only listens to Jinhwan anyway, so it’s more like four kids.”

Jinhwan laughed, Junhoe grumbled. Jisoo cheerily said, “Still, young wolves are so playful, and I thought I was playful. And I guess… the food finishes quickly at your place too.”

She seemed to giggle in Bobby’s direction again. Hanbin looked over—

“Ah!” He examined the cone, empty with a bite taken out of it. “How did you eat that so fast?!”

“I saw him do it!” Jisoo excitedly pointed at Bobby. “It was amazing!”

Bobby bowed to acknowledge the praise.

Hanbin sighed. He just shoved the rest of the cone in Bobby’s mouth.

Impressively, Bobby took it all, but Hanbin put that out of his mind.

The kids laughed in the other booth about something. Jisoo asked, “It must get rowdy when they’re playing games.”

“Tell me about it…” Jinhwan sighed.

While they exchanged anecdotes about playtime and brawl sessions, warning Jisoo about the upcoming struggle of being an alpha, Hanbin felt his cup of ice cream being worked out of his grasp. He looked down to see Bobby attempting to move it in front of him with his splint.

Hanbin, without thinking much about it, offered Bobby a spoonful. Bobby happily ate it. When Hanbin spooned ice cream for himself and realized what he had done with the previous spoonful, he simply decided it would be better than spending money on another cone.

Chanhyuk said, fondly, “I love how you guys take care of each other. Super cute. I mostly just want to punch my pack, especially my sister.”

Hanbin looked up to acknowledge him. Chanhyuk’s eyes were soft and smiling with him. Hanbin asked, “What?”

“It’s cute how you give him your dessert.”

Bobby and Hanbin both froze. Hanbin breathed as he understood. Somehow they both misunderstood Chanhyuk’s words… it must have been closer to the forefront of their minds, both of their minds, than Hanbin thought. He just laughed awkwardly. Bobby said nothing.

Chanhyuk raised a brow. “Uh, am I missing something here?”

“Only you,” Hayi answered him.

Well that was cryptic. And implicating. Hanbin glared.

“How could you miss,” Bobby said, and Hanbin nearly got whiplash turning to face him, “that I have two broken wrists?” He shook his head. “Of course he’s feeding me.”

“Yeah,” Jinhwan played along. “What kind of an alpha lets their wolves starve when they can’t fend for themselves?”

Junhoe snorted. He fed Jinhwan a spoonful of ice cream and Jinhwan thanked him. Hanbin sometimes wished his pack was on his side.

“Ah,” Chanhyuk nodded. Hanbin deflated on the inside.

“Hopefully you have a speedy recovery,” Jisoo beamed. “There’s a full moon tonight, right? It’s a great time for healing. The girls and I are having a spa night.”

In a nasally, mockingly feminine voice, Chanhyuk said, “You know it, honey.” Jisoo laughed and put her arm around him.

They continued to talk casually. Later, Bobby said he needed to use the bathroom, and Hanbin said he would come with. The kids continued to laugh amongst each other and Hanbin hoped they did not break anything.

Hanbin and Bobby used the bathroom, Bobby insisting he was fine on his own. Hanbin was not sure what his boundaries were about helping him in public, but he was not going to find out today.

“Okay,” Hanbin said when they were done. He took out the travel bottle of hand sanitizer and squeezed it on his and Bobby’s hands. Bobby carefully sanitized his fingers. Hanbin rubbed the sanitizer into his skin at light-speed. He needed to make sure his pack was still behaving. “Okay let’s get back to the kids and make sure—”

Bobby got in Hanbin’s space and pushed him against the wall. He pressed himself against Hanbin, not hard, but definitely not appropriately soft, either. Oh my god, Hanbin thought, this is so against the etiquette.

“Bobby,” Hanbin whispered. He hyper-focused on the area outside the door, listening for approaching footsteps or voices. “No, Jiwon, no, not here. I’m sorry.”

Bobby pouted. “But I need help.”

“Can’t you survive without getting us banned from an ice cream parlor and ruining an alliance?!”

Lips still puffed out in a plush frown, Bobby backed away. Hanbin sighed in relief and brushed a hand through his own hair. Look what you do to me, traitor.

Bobby looked Hanbin up and down with a cocky smile. “You sure you don’t want any help?”

“You be quiet,” Hanbin pointed a finger. He was stressed. “This is so against territorial etiquette.”

“How would I know?” Bobby asked. “You never told me.”

Hanbin gave Bobby… a Look.

“Don’t be mad,” Bobby smiled.

“No,” Hanbin turned his back to Bobby. “I’m mad at you now.”

“Don’t be maaad…” Bobby walked behind Hanbin and pinched his waist.

Hanbin batted Bobby away and denied him attention.

Bobby followed behind and tugged the waistband of Hanbin’s jeans.

At home, Hanbin tugged Bobby’s jeans off.

-♥-

Donghyuk’s head shot up as he was called to attention. He sniffed. “FRIEND.”

At the door, the wolves all barked, “FRIEND! FRIEND! FRIEND! FRIEND! FRIEND! FRIEND!”

Hanbin, as excited as everyone, happily skipped over to the door to open it. He was so happy that he forgot to tell Donghyuk to not attempt to mate with Seokjin. Oh well. Doctor Seokjin and Taehyung stood there smiling wide as ever.

“Welcome back, guys,” Hanbin greeted.

The wolves all bowed and shook their hands at the door, barring Jinhwan, who everyone thought should have been turned into a werecat. Jinhwan bowed from a respectful distance away and offered to make them coffee.

“That’s really nice, but we’re just making sure Bobby healed,” Seokjin said.

“Nice to see you, Jinhwan!!” Taehyung called and waved, and then the two were escorted to Bobby’s room.

Bobby greeted Taehyung and Seokjin with fist-bumps. “Good to see you, man,” Seokjin smiled. “We just want to make sure you’re doing better.”

Bobby smiled with his eyes. “I’m doing okay!”

“Great,” Seokjin said. “I’m just going to take one splint off, okay? Then we’re going to test your wrist to see how you feel.”

Bobby nodded. Seokjin took one splint off, instructed Bobby to move his fingers and his wrist. Seokjin gently felt the area, and so did Taehyung.

“Looks good to me,” Taehyung said, and recorded something in his notebook.

“Same here,” Seokjin said. “I think it’s fine to take these off now.”

Bobby’s smile dimmed.

Hanbin furrowed his eyebrows in confusion.

“Ah…” Bobby said. He held his wrist. “Actually, it still hurts a little.”

Seokjin and Taehyung blinked. “Well, that’s probably normal. The bones are still tender.”

“No,” Bobby shook his head. “I think… I think I should just keep them on.”

Hanbin’s eyebrows shot up on his forehead.

A moment of silence passed over them. It was broken by the sound of fluttering papers. Taehyung flipped anxiously through his binder. “My calculations…”

Seokjin placed a hand on Taehyung’s shoulder. Taehyung looked distraught. “Hey, it’s okay, Tae,” Seokjin comforted. “His healing rate was probably affected by the factor of loose splints during the first two weeks of recovery.”

Taehyung bit his bottom lip. After a moment, he scribbled something into his notes. He nodded. “That’s likely.”

“Sorry…” Bobby muttered. “I didn’t mean to mess up your calculations. I just want to be sure I’m better.”

Seokjin placed a hand on Bobby’s shoulder and gave him a gentle smile. “Your recovery the most important thing.”

Taehyung laughed, “Sorry? No way, man. This is the coolest job ever.”

Although halfhearted, Bobby smiled back.

Seokjin placed the splint back on Bobby’s arm. Hanbin felt bad for the guy – he was probably so bummed out that he had to have these annoying things on for another whole week. Hanbin would make sure he was properly cared for.

Seokjin then gave Bobby a lollipop and left with Taehyung. The wolves all made sure the kind doctors were properly escorted out.

When Hanbin and Bobby returned to the bedroom, Bobby’s stance was almost guilty. He held his arm and looked down.

Hanbin asked, “You okay, man?”

Bobby looked at Hanbin under his eyelashes. “I’m good,” he spoke around the lollipop candy in his mouth.

Hanbin figured that Bobby was just in a mood because of the splints. He must have kept them on to put Hanbin’s mind at ease or something. Hanbin suddenly felt culpable in this, and he left Bobby alone to sulk in peace.

Nighttime found Hanbin back in Bobby’s bed. He delicately lifted the covers and crawled under them, draped an arm over Bobby’s side to cuddle him. He decided against mentioning the splints.

Bobby rolled on his back and turned his head to meet Hanbin’s eyes. Were they naturally that shiny? Did the moon live in them? Taeoh could really not have picked a better werewolf.

A smile found its way up Hanbin’s cheeks on its own accord. “Hi.”

Bobby whispered back, “Hi.”

Hanbin lowered his hand to rest on Bobby’s hip. Bobby slipped his hand under Hanbin’s shirt and splayed his fingers across Hanbin’s stomach, as wide as they could go in the splint. It was cute. Hanbin wondered if he wore a shirt to bed because he was still trying to create a barrier between them or because he was afraid to admit that the shirt did not help much.

Bobby helped kick his pants down. Hanbin almost forgot lubricant. He palmed at Bobby’s cock only until Bobby hissed through his teeth, bit his lip, and Hanbin realized the hot friction he felt against his palm. He squeezed the lotion onto his hand – the subtle scent of milk that was stained onto his skin by now. He rubbed both hands together and slipped a hand down his own underwear.

Both lying on their backs, it was somewhat an awkward angle for Hanbin, but only because his eyes were focused on the dip of Bobby’s neck to avoid seeing what he was really doing. He was used to employing his non-dominant hand. Bobby pushed his forehead against Hanbin’s temple.

He jerked them both off in time with each other, music playing softly where the mp3 sat on the blankets, nearly slipping under Hanbin’s body.

Then Hanbin felt claws trail sideways along the length of his abdomen. He shivered.

Bobby said, “Finish first.”

Dazedly, Hanbin mumbled, “Hm?”

“Just finish first,” Bobby said. He cupped Hanbin’s face in his hand. Hanbin felt wolf claws against the apple of his cheek, just under his eye. He kept his eyes closed.

And he did as he was told. He jerked himself off, hard and fervent, feeling Bobby’s forehead against his and Bobby’s heartbeat reverberating through his ribs. He felt dirty at the same time he reasoned that if there was ever a time to think about his best friend while his hand was on his dick, it was now.

He must have given some sort of hint that he was close, because Bobby knew. Bobby nuzzled against Hanbin’s face so he could kiss Hanbin’s cheek. His lips were still pressed against Hanbin’s skin as Hanbin choked on a moan and came into his boxers.

“Bin…”

Hanbin wrapped his fingers around Bobby’s cock and immediately recommenced stroking him. He gripped harder now, moved faster. Bobby moaned and nosed against Hanbin’s cheek, pouting and brushing lips against skin but missing the kiss each time he went in for it, as if disoriented. His hands trembled where his fingers trailed over Hanbin’s ears, and only when he heard the rustling of fur did he realized his wolf ears had shifted. His heart wanted to hear everything.

His heart wanted everything.

Hanbin lifted himself onto his forearm. Bobby’s eyes fluttered open.

He blinked. “Bin?”

Hanbin closed the distance between them and pressed his lips against Bobby’s. Bobby kissed him back, hard. So he seemed to have reoriented himself.

They kissed over and over, hand stroking him in time with the slide of his lips against Bobby’s, strong and ardent as Bobby enveloped him and sucked his bottom lip, human teeth against Hanbin’s lips, wrist twisting around the head of his cock. Hanbin closed his lips over Bobby’s and held him there, pinned, until he was dizzy and breathless. Bobby broke the kiss and breathed. Hand still on his cheek, he dragged Hanbin down again as quickly as he could.

His orgasm spilled over while his moan was caught in Hanbin’s throat. Bobby’s head fell back to gasp and breathe. Hanbin kissed him although Bobby did not kiss back, kept pumping Bobby’s cock until Bobby whined for him to stop, cum dripping down the back of his hand and cooling by then.

He had no idea how he could feel so fucking wired after getting spent like that.

Hanbin nudged his forehead against Bobby’s before pulling away. Their noses bumped. Bobby’s nose had gone flat, cheekbones protruding, half-shifted as well. Perhaps Bobby’s heart wanted the whole experience too. It was a nice experience, Hanbin could never hold that against him.

It should never have to be over. Hanbin hated that they were both letting go and feeling everything because everything was too close to being over.

Bobby’s eyes tiredly fluttered open. “Woah,” he breathed.

Hanbin shyly giggled. “Yeah…” his eyes flicked from Bobby to the wall. “So, uh… maybe we shouldn’t have done that.”

“Maybe.”

“That was intense.”

“Yeah… it was.”

Slowly, their eyes drifted to land on each other’s once more. Hanbin threw two proverbial middle fingers to the heavens and dove back down to push his lips against Bobby’s again. Bobby kissed back. He kept all ten fingertips on any part of Hanbin’s body he could get his obstructive hands on.

-♥-

They wordlessly decided to play the No Explanation game after that, but wordless was, in fact, the only way to play the game.

-♥-

Hanbin enjoyed kissing his wolves on the face. They were generally displeased by it, but Hanbin felt it was a crucial part of showing his love. He could be a little distant as the alpha because he usually had to maintain control and composure, but he did not want to feel distant. He wanted the others to feel his love as much as he wanted to give it.

The wolves were cleaning up after their bedtime snack, helping to wash dishes and pick up garbage. When Donghyuk was done with the dishes, Hanbin kissed his face and sent him to bed. Donghyuk grumbled and ran away.

Bobby stood up straight after picking up a fallen napkin and threw it in the garbage. Hanbin praised him for his efforts and kissed him on the face.

Except this time he did not kiss Bobby’s cheek. He placed a kiss directly on Bobby’s lips. He only noticed his fuck-up when he returned his attention to Bobby and the boy was staring at him, lips parted and eyes wide. Jinhwan and Junhoe stood behind him wearing a similar expression. Jinhwan ducked out of the room and pulled Junhoe along with him.

“Oh,” Hanbin covered his lips. “I didn’t realize.”

Bobby sniffled, cleared his throat. He looked down. He did not say a word, just smiled shyly and speed-walked to his room.

Hanbin dropped his elbows onto the table, dropped his face into his hands, and screamed at himself under his breath.

-♥-

Hanbin took a punch. He felt the skin on his cheekbone break and heal itself in the span of a few seconds. He was hit again, and this hit sent him tumbling to the floor. Lights blurred as he fell and disappeared behind blackness as he shut his eyes. He felt a kick to his ribs, sent him rolling onto his opposite side like a ragdoll. A foot stepped on his chest, gently, as though teasing him, coaxing him to do something. To fight back.

Hanbin’s head lolled to the side and he did nothing, ribs putting themselves back together next to his heaving lungs, his pounding heart.

A hand was pushed against Hanbin’s. Hanbin gripped the other wolf’s wrists and he helped Hanbin pull himself to his feet. Hanbin felt a friendly nudge with a boxing glove hit his newly healed cheek.

“Hey, good on you, kid,” Taeoh complimented. He slipped off his boxing gloves.

The world stopped spinning after a few blinks. “Thank you, hyungnim.”

Taeoh patted Hanbin’s back and led him to the couch to sit down. The basement of his house was modest, concrete, had a kitchen with a bar and a couch in the otherwise empty living room. Paint cans sat along the far wall – they seemed to be light pink in colour, a stark contrast to the steely blue the walls currently were.

Taeoh waited for Hanbin to catch his breath before he continued talking. “I made a fine alpha out of you.”

Hanbin gave a breathy, hollow laugh. Jiwon never quite let Hanbin catch his breath completely. “My wolf broke both his wrists.”

Taeoh shrugged. “Bones get broken, especially as a wolf. And did you know, most broken bones occur during puberty? Growing into your wolf-hood is like puberty on steroids.”

Hanbin sighed. “I just feel like… sometimes things happen and it’s my fault. Junhoe gets mad that he can’t compete in jiu-jitsu anymore, the wolves fight each other, they try and keep secrets from me sometimes… I feel like maybe I’m not enough for them.”

Taeoh shook his head. “I think you have the wrong idea about it all. Junhoe will mature. Packmates need to get their tension out just like all friends do. And about the secrets, I doubt it’s a reflection of your character. People just want privacy sometimes.”

Hanbin admitted, “I don’t handle things very well all the time.”

Taeoh said, “People do stupid things in poor taste all the time. I do. Bad choices are just a part of life.”

Hanbin’s poor decision was actually the catalyst of his breakdown, but he did not really feel comfortable going into all the dirty details with his old alpha. It was not the kind of thing you drop on someone akin to your trainer after a workout. Hanbin just shrugged at that. Taeoh patted Hanbin’s back again.

“I’m lost, hyungnim,” he said. “I made a really bad choice and I don’t think I can recover from this one.”

“You will,” Taeoh said, as though it was simple. “Fine wolf you are,” he spoke softly, maybe even to himself. “Fine alpha.”

Hanbin tilted his head, stared at the wall ahead of him. “What made you pick me?”

“To be the alpha?”

“To join your pack.”

Taeoh shook his head. “You made that decision on your own. I only offered it to you.”

Hanbin remembered it well. He was sixteen and unsure of what he wanted to do with his life, unsure if he would ever reach his dreams, unsure if he just was not good enough to. He was a rich kid with too much money and not enough merit on his name. He was lonely and needed support. He had needed a boost.

Taeoh worked for an entertainment company. He had seen something special in Hanbin during the boy’s short years of training there. The rest was history.

“Okay, sure,” Hanbin shook his head. He supposed it was something like what Hanbin had seen in Chanwoo, but that had been the most nerve-wracking and unconfident decision Hanbin had ever made, so? He still did not fully get it. “What about the alpha thing?”

“You’re the best of the new blood,” Taeoh said. “That was all you as well.”

Hanbin rubbed his hands over his face. “Please help me. I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“You know,” Taeoh said and nodded. “You’ve always known. All new experiences are learning curves; you think you have a handle on things one minute, and the next minute one thing changes and you have to adapt all over again. But you have a natural talent for figuring out what to do. You’ve always known what to do, even when you hated to.”

Hanbin turned to face his old alpha. “Hm?”

Taeoh just gave Hanbin a look.

You know what you’re doing, even if you hate what you’re doing. Even if you hate yourself for doing it.

Hanbin stopped pressing for a deep, inspiring answer that would set his life back on track. Taeoh was just a normal wolf like he was. “How’s your wife?”

Taeoh smiled, “She’s good, thank you. I’ve been waiting for this chapter of my life for a while.”

Hanbin tried to give him a smile. Taeoh was making a new pack now, a personal pack, like a regular family unit. He would be making some kids, perhaps adopting, uniting with a few cousins, a few lifelong friends. He would be painting his basement pink and hiding the cocktail glasses. Family was the next chapter in a werewolf’s life after the Breeding chapter. In the Breeding chapter, an alpha wolf creates new wolves to carry on the species bloodline. The beta wolf in the Breeding chapter will have a family with the pack until they choose to move on and make their own. The pack usually comes to a mutual agreement on when it is time to do so. After that, in the Family chapter, they settle down and carry on their own pack. The torch is passed to their chosen alpha of the New Blood.

It was not ceremonious, not Hollywood. In regular cases there is no enmity or severing of personal bonds. Everyone just moves onto the next phase of their lives. That is just how it goes, naturally and peacefully.

Hanbin smiled wistfully at the prospect of a future. Maybe Hanbin would like that, a husband and some kids. There would be some lifelong friends, too. And a younger sister. Maybe he would have a cat. Maybe he would be so lucky to.

“How’s your new baby?” Taeoh asked with a smile.

Hanbin smiled back. He had informed Taeoh he was making a new addition to the pack two months ago. Hanbin had felt like he had been given a pack, that it did not really belong to him, not yet. Hanbin did not want to be handed anything in life. He only wanted the strength to build the life he wanted for himself.

One day he was at an internet café and saw a dark boy with chubby cheeks playing on his laptop, empty cup sitting next to him. Hanbin thought he looked like a choco-ball. He smelled anxious. Might have been the caffeine. Hanbin stood up and walked over to the kid.

He asked, “Maybe you’d like something decaf?”

The boy jumped in his seat, startled. Hanbin immediately backed off. The boy caught his breath and said, “No, no, it’s okay. Thank you. I should get going.”

“Oh,” Hanbin gave a nervous laugh and rubbed his neck. He felt bad. “I didn’t mean to scare you off.”

“No, no,” the boy quickly amended. He bowed in his seat. That was cute. Hanbin liked this one. He wanted this one. He had not entered the café with the intention of finding a new wolf, but he was always ready to. “Sorry, I thought you were the café manager coming over to kick me out.”

Hanbin laughed again, more genuine. He sat on the seat opposite to the boy. “Why would they?”

The boy shrunk, making himself smaller. “I only bought one coffee.”

“Lost track of time?” Hanbin smiled. “You could just buy another.”

The boy sighed. “I… it’s okay. I’ll just be going now.”

Taeoh had trained him for this moment, when he would have to charm his way into a potential recruit’s heart. It was easier than Hanbin imagined it would be. Hanbin felt at ease around this one, like they were already familiar somehow. “Are you okay?” Hanbin asked. He put on the puppy-dog eyes.

Eventually, the boy introduced himself as Jung Chanwoo. Chanwoo smelled like a good person, to the core of him. He was soft and sweet, unsteady and honest, so genuinely innocent that he could not hide his innocence if he tried. Chanwoo explained that he needed to work on his essay, to get good grades and get a scholarship, because these days, money was even too tight for coffee.

“Do you need help?”

“I couldn’t,” Chanwoo shook his head. “You’re kind, hyung, but I couldn’t accept that. Thank you anyway.”

“Maybe,” Hanbin spoke slowly, “you could hear what I’m offering?”

Chanwoo lifted his head and raised his eyebrows.

“Your head still spinning?” Taeoh broke into his reverie. “Can I get you a drink? Can’t imagine it’ll do much for you, but I like the burn.”

Hanbin reentered reality. He gave another laugh, a little stronger, more genuine. He nodded, “A drink would be nice.”

Taeoh patted Hanbin’s shoulder as he stood up. Perhaps it was better that the alcohol would not affect him. He wanted to be sober for what he was about to do. It had to be done. Being a good leader was hard work.

-♥-

“We need to talk.”

Hanbin texted Jinhwan to wrangle up the kids and get them out of the apartment by the time he was home. Jinhwan did not require much of an explanation. Hanbin wondered if he and Bobby were the only ones who did at this point.

He shut the door with his shoulder and stood in the foyer to wait for Bobby to show up. Bobby answered Hanbin’s call for him a few seconds later with a confused expression creasing his eyebrows.

He asked, “About what?”

Hanbin stepped forward. He was doing this now, no time to get comfortable. “Jiwon, I’ve been a terrible person.”

Bobby raised his eyebrows. “What did you do?”

Hanbin took a deep breath, let it out. “I…” God this was so hard. He choked out, “I took advantage of you.”

Bobby blinked. He slowly shook his head, “No you didn’t.”

“Yes, I did,” Hanbin continued. “Because I—I like you.”

Bobby’s lips parted. Hanbin heard his heart rate speed up. An emotion poured off of Bobby, something hot and terribly close to panic.

“I did it for myself as much as I did it for you. And I’m sorry.” Hanbin looked down. He lost confidence after that. “I… It’s okay if you don’t forgive me. I understand. But you should know I’m not proud of myself. I knew that what I was doing was wrong and did it anyway. I am truly sorry, Jiwon.”

The apology hung untouched in the air.

After a moment of silence to let it properly sink in, for both of them, Bobby spoke. “Hanbin.”

“…Yes?”

“You didn’t take advantage of me.”

Hanbin looked up at Bobby under his eyelashes.

Bobby still had that shocked look on his face, and Hanbin was starting to wonder if he was interpreting Bobby’s emotions incorrectly. He had always been hard for Hanbin to read.

Bobby said, “I like you too.”

Hanbin straightened out his back at that to meet Bobby at eye level.

Bobby stepped forward. “I…” his voice caught in his throat. He shook his head. “I didn’t think it would work. It worked?” He seemed to realize what he said right after he said it. He gasped. “It WORKED?!

Hanbin’s eyes widened. He barely had time to wonder what was going on here before Bobby threw himself at Hanbin and hugged him. Hanbin instinctively hugged him back. He still was not quite sure what was happening.

“Oh my god,” Bobby exclaimed. “I… dude!” He laughed. “When? Since when? Why didn’t you tell me?”

Hanbin moved back, and so did Bobby. He actually twirled away to give Hanbin some space. Hanbin stumbled to catch his balance now that Bobby was not there to keep him steady.

“Uh…” Hanbin attempted to calculate it in his head. He was so gay and bad at math. “We’ve known each other for about two and a half years now, so… since, like, July 2014.”

It took Bobby a moment to process that. “WHAT?

“Yeah. It was summer, you were in bed naked. You know how it is.”

“Since… Hanbin,” Bobby sounded short of breath. “I’ve been trying to get you to like me since you came out to me.”

Hanbin’s heart dropped. “WHAT? WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME?”

“WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME?!

Touché, Hanbin supposed.

“I made it obvious!” Bobby continued. “HOW COULD I HAVE MADE IT MORE OBVIOUS?!

“You made it obvious?”

Bobby held his hands out, palms up. “Everything I did for the past two weeks I did to make you want me.”

“Everything?

Yes. You think people just act like that with their friends? At first I thought I didn’t have a chance, so I just flirted with you like I always do, but when you came out… I thought, maybe? If I try really hard? I could get you to like me. I tried SO HARD and I was literally about to give up. OH my god.”

“Oh,” Hanbin felt really bad now, shit. “I’m sorry.”

Bobby rubbed his hands over his face. He whined, “I’m exhausted.”

Poor baby. Hanbin walked up to him and wrapped Bobby up in a supportive hug. Bobby hugged back and dropped his face onto Hanbin’s shoulder. He sniffled. “Why are you so dumb?”

Although Bobby’s voice sounded lethargic, his hug was anything but.

Hanbin said, “To be fair, I liked you for two years without you figuring it out.”

Bobby sniffled again. “That’s fair. But you never tried to flirt with me.”

“Yes I did,” Hanbin argued.

“I mean in a not-weird way.”

“Bite me,” Hanbin laughed under his breath. Bobby hid his laughter in a sigh. “So… you actually tried to flirt with me?”

Bobby just exhaled.

Hanbin could not help but laugh a little. “Oh. Sorry.”

“Don’t be happy right now,” Bobby grumbled. “I’m annoyed.”

“Shouldn’t I be happy right now?” Hanbin asked, smiling. “I just got the best news of my life.”

He could not explain how, but Hanbin physically felt Bobby’s demeanor change. He became lighter, happier. Bobby pulled back and seemed to be fighting a smile.

“Also,” Hanbin said, “I don’t really like you anymore. I love you.”

Their hearts seemed to beat in time with one another’s. And Bobby did not smell like panic anymore. He never had. He smelled like adrenaline, arousal. His heart was racing out of love.

Hanbin smiled. “I really love you, Jiwon.”

Bobby’s eyelashes fluttered as if he was drowsy. “I love you too.”

Their foreheads dropped against each other’s. Hanbin held Bobby’s jaw in the palms of his hands, titled his head, and kissed him. Bobby kissed back, and Hanbin felt little touches press against his body where Bobby tried to get a comfortable hold on his waist.

Eventually, Hanbin had to giggle at the feeling of Bobby patting him down. It was probably difficult for Bobby to find a place for his hands, because Bobby was a dumb stupid idiot with a splint on each wrist.

Bobby sighed. “Sorry…” he pinched at the fabric of Hanbin’s shirt again, bashfully. “I would hold you better if…”

Hanbin brought Bobby’s lips forward to meet his own again. You will.

“Wait,” Bobby pulled back again. He looked down at his hands. “So you’re telling me I didn’t need to break my wrists to get you to like me?”

Hanbin froze. “You didn’t seriously break your wrists to…”

“No,” Bobby quickly clarified. He smiled again. “Of course not, but I thought I finally had an asset.”

Hanbin tilted his head in disbelief. “You have plenty of assets!”

Clearly fishing for compliments, Bobby asked, “Like what?”

And Hanbin did not mind giving compliments. “Do you think I’m joking when I tell you you’re cute?” Hanbin asked. Bobby smiled shyly and ducked his head. “You’re very cute, hyung!”

“Shut up,” Bobby mumbled.

Hanbin continued to insist. Bobby hooked his fingers in the waistband of Hanbin’s sweatpants and walked him into the bedroom. Somehow the feeling of the moment was almost the same as before.

-♥-

Hayi’s tea shop was a lovely little place. It was chic despite the homey, log-cabin feel of it, too. The bottom half was a café, the loft area an elevated seating level and mini-library. Hanbin sat up there with Bobby, reading a yellowing book on herbs and edible flowers while Bobby enjoyed a cup of tea with his (their) bingsu. The sweet scent of green tea and vanilla and spices wafted around the shop.

They went in late to finish their date around the time that Hayi would be done her shift. Hanbin and Bobby accompanied her home.

Hayi excused herself to bed as soon as they got in.

“Thanks for letting us hang out,” Hanbin said.

Hayi patted his arm and smiled. Hanbin smiled back. He was incredibly happy that of everyone in the world he could have gotten as an emissary, it was her.

Her hand slid off his arm and she dragged her feet upstairs to bed.

Hanbin joined Bobby in the living room. Bobby had already dropped to the floor to sit on his butt. Yeobo rubbed against his knee.

It was a shame they’d had to give Yeobo up. Bobby adored her. The pack loved her too, but there were just too many territorial disputes with her and the wolves. Bobby agreed that it would be cruel to force her to share a home with six dogs that overwhelmingly monopolized the space. But she was still half his and Hayi was still pack. Yeobo just had to live outside the pack apartment.

Bobby liked to see her often. He scratched behind her ears with a smile.

Hanbin sat down next to him. He gave Yeobo a thorough pet of his own, dragging his hand down the length of her back. She purred.

Bobby frowned. He looked at his splints as if weighing his options. He started to pull at the Velcro.

“Bobby,” Hanbin hated that he had to stop him.

Bobby said, “I have something to tell you.”

Hanbin raised his eyebrows.

Bobby confessed, “My wrists have been fine since the full moon on the 20th. I felt them heal overnight. They felt a little weird after, but Taehyung and Seokjin hyungs said that was normal. I’m fine.”

That… did not make sense. “Why would you lie about that? …For me?

“Yeah,” Bobby said.

Hanbin fell forward, slumping and ashamed of his over-protectiveness.

He continued, “But not why you think.”

Hanbin was listening. Bobby sighed and said, “I didn’t want to stop doing stuff. I thought you only did it with me to help me, so… I wanted to drag it out as long as I could.”

Hanbin let out a small, wheezy laugh of disbelief. “We took advantage of each other?”

Bobby laughed as well, but his shoulders slumped in shame with Hanbin’s. “We didn’t… we both wanted to do it.”

Hanbin nudged him and said, “Yeah, I know. But I still feel bad, like, objectively, because it was still a poor decision.”

“Don’t,” Bobby said. “You consented and I consented, even if we both didn’t know we actually liked each other. We both could have said no.”

Hanbin sighed. “Yeah. We should have talked about it, though.”

Bobby just gave another breathy laugh and shrugged a shoulder. “I couldn’t risk it.”

“Risk what?”

“Losing you.”

Hanbin placed a hand on Bobby’s face and squished him against Hanbin’s lips to kiss his cheek. Bobby snuffled and turned his face away.

“You couldn’t lose me even if you wanted to,” Hanbin said.

“I’d never want to,” Bobby said to the floor. He pulled the Velcro loose and dropped his splints, stretching his wrists. They smelled very clean considering they had both been in a splint for weeks. Hanbin sighed and wondered when Bobby would stop acting like Hanbin did not have heightened senses.

Maybe it was a cuter vice than Hanbin would let himself believe at the moment.

“So you won’t get tired of this?”

“Nope.”

“So you like kisses after all.”

“No,” Bobby said, “but I don’t want you to stop.”

And at least Taeoh was right about that – Bobby never lied about important things. He never lied at all. Sparing Hanbin some grief was probably something he thought to be considerate.

Bobby was sweet.

Hanbin turned Bobby’s head and pushed their lips together. Bobby tasted like milk tea. The kiss was broken by Hanbin’s smile.

Bobby continued to pet Yeobo. Hanbin dropped his head onto Bobby’s shoulder and held Bobby’s free hand, finally able to hold him completely, undeterred, and laced their fingers together.

Moonlight blanketed the three of them and Hanbin felt like a family photo graying in the pages of an album.

A few evenings later, Hanbin brought his pack family home to visit his biological family. Bobby was especially excited, precariously bounding around in full-wolf form on his wrists without a care in the world. His mother monitored them carefully over the rim of her teacup, but Hanbin knew she was coming around to the idea of them, of this.

Hanbin joined in. He loved to play. He hoped for this to be the rest of his life.

-♥-

For the formality of it all, Hanbin sipped from a flute of rose gold champagne. The whole house looked quite fancy – long curtains on the windows, statue décor, and furniture cleared from the main room, save for the velvet, indigo couches situated along the high, white walls. The rest of the house was just as well put together from what Hanbin saw upon glancing around. The girls had knowledge of colour theory as it seemed, installing a working palette throughout the house of white and blue, black and pink.

Hanbin sighed. He was turning into a Pinterest mom like Yunhyeong.

At his side, Bobby downed another glass of something deep red and smelling of cherry. Hanbin leaned close to him and warned, “You’re going to have to go to the bathroom.”

Bobby shrugged. “So?”

“So, it’s rude,” Hanbin said, “to needlessly mark someone else’s territory.”

Bobby shrugged. Hanbin nudged him with an elbow to needle him to not do his weird scenting thing here of all places. Hanbin did not understand why Bobby and Yunhyeong were so intense with that. Perhaps it had something to do with being born in the year of the wood pig? Whatever it was, they were negatively influencing Chanwoo.

Speaking of bad influences… “Where’s Jinhwan?” Hanbin looked around the room, but only saw Chanwoo and Junhoe sitting on a couch and talking with Lalisa. Yunhyeong had just gone into an adjoining room with Chaeyoung and Seokjin, and Donghyuk was conversing with Chanhyuk (and Hanbin hoped they were not playing a drinking game, but they were not too unsuspecting).

“Guys!” Jisoo cheered. “You made it! Sorry, I was just getting the cake ready when you got here. Thanks for your help, Jinhwan oppa.”

Jinhwan stepped out from behind her with a proud smile. Hanbin nodded in Jinhwan’s direction to acknowledge his efforts. Bobby sniffled and smacked his lips, clearly interested in this cake Jisoo had mentioned.

Oh, right, Bobby. There was a purpose for their matching suits. Hanbin slipped his arm through Bobby’s. Bobby was startled for a moment, confused, but after gauging the PDA level, relaxed into it.

Jisoo beamed, covering her wide smile with both hands. Hanbin smiled back. He felt very satisfied with the situation right now. It was always power move to bring a date to these kinds of functions, after all.

“Well,” Jisoo said, taking on a voice that sounded like she knew something scandalous, but she was not trying to SAY anything about it. “I’m glad you both could come together.” She blanched. “Could make it!”

Hanbin’s jaw dropped at the same time he heard Donghyuk choke and whine from nearby. He was clearly listening in. Wolves are so nosy – Hanbin wished he could tell him off, but he could only clench his jaw in a strained smile.

Jisoo hid her face in her hands. Jinhwan and Bobby both bit their lips against a laugh. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t intend it to come out like that at all. I’ll give you both big slices of cake to apologize. You guys eat cake, right? You must like cake.” Her eyes widened again. “Not like that!”

She almost made Hanbin laugh there, but he held it in to be polite. Jinhwan and Bobby really struggled with that one.

Unfortunately, Donghyuk did not have the same self-control, and spewed alcohol all over the couch-side table he was next to. He and Hanbin met each other’s eyes. Donghyuk covered his mouth. He was petrified. Chanhyuk had jumped backwards to avoid the spray of liquid and currently stared at the lot of them with an open-mouthed smile.

Hanbin’s pack all bowed, even Junhoe and Chanwoo from across the room. Hanbin said, “I am so sorry about that, Jisoo-sshi, oh my… oh no.”

Jisoo quickly held up her hands. “It’s nothing! No, seriously, it’s just wood and tile, the drink will come off easily.”

Donghyuk quickly ran into the kitchen with Chanhyuk. He emerged with Chanhyuk and Hayi, and Chanhyuk carried a towel in his hands, insisting he would handle it. Hayi stayed with him to help and apologize for her wolf. Jinhwan excused himself to return to his post monitoring the kids, joining a conversation with the maknaes and Taehyung, who had recently shown up.

“Again,” Jisoo said, “I am so sorry if my words came out wrong.”

At that, Hanbin finally let himself laugh. “They didn’t. You’re polite and hospitable, and you’re going to make a great alpha.”

Jisoo perked up again, beaming with pride.

She had to leave after that to mingle with the other guests, leaving Hanbin with Bobby, and Donghyuk, who was now sentenced to his left side until the celebration came to a close.

Hanbin and Bobby got cake together. Bobby fed Hanbin a forkful, and Hanbin kept Bobby’s arm entwined with his whenever he could for as long as he could, exceptionally happy that there was no longer any fiberglass to hinder him. Donghyuk behaved well, and Hanbin considered letting the young wolf keep his balls, but Hanbin would not let him get his hopes up yet.

Hanbin swiped frosting across Bobby’s lip like a moustache and Bobby licked it off. Hanbin laughed. He could not believe this dork was actually capable of using his tongue in any sexy way.

Bobby slipped an arm around Hanbin’s back. “Want to come to the bathroom with me?”

Hanbin sighed. “You’re really trying to ruin the one good alliance Jinhwan and I have worked so hard to forge, aren’t you?”

“Fine,” Bobby smiled. “Will you come with me anyway?”

“You don’t need a baby-sitter anymore,” Hanbin replied. He complacently ate another forkful of cake. “If you break both your wrists again, then I’ll come with you.”

Bobby paused for a moment and tilted his head. He looked at his hands.

Hanbin quickly grabbed Bobby’s healed wrist. “I was joking. Please never do that again.”

The smile that crossed Bobby’s cherry-stained lips could only be described as soft. His eyes were half moons and glowing.

He placed a kiss on Hanbin’s head and said, “I won’t.” He then slipped his wrist out of Hanbin’s grasp and headed out of the room.

Hanbin could not help but delicately place his hand over the spot that Bobby had kissed. He brushed his hair behind his ear, eyes bashfully finding the floor.

There was no more usual hurt. They healed.

Chapter Text

Somewhere in Incheon, Kim Jisoo and her alpha sat at a table in an upscale restaurant, the smell of bread rolls wafting into Jisoo’s nose and melding beautifully with her rosewater perfume.

The alpha of a neighboring city pack, east Incheon, was at the table with them, negotiating a territory deal.

“I’m so glad we could finally sit down and do this,” he said, a smile crossing his lips. He was an older, but still a young alpha, thirty-one. He had a certain kindness in his eyes, despite his age, his wisdom. Jisoo sipped her wine peacefully.

“As am I,” her alpha said. “It’s very neighbourly of you to concern yourself with the affairs of our territory.”

“There is no avoiding our close connection, Seoul and Incheon,” he responded. “I’d rather have a map should I ever find myself in an unfamiliar space.”

Jisoo raised her glass to that.

“Are you planning on making a trip to Seoul?” Jisoo asked.

“I am,” he responded. “My pack is. We want to see the sights.”

Jisoo smiled.

The alpha continued, “We still have a few negotiations to make, though. The lower Northside, the Midlands…”

“Oh,” Jisoo put down her wine with a little hiccup. “You’ll like Kim Hanbin.”

The alpha tensed up. Jisoo swallowed the residual taste of cherry on her tongue.

Pah,” Jisoo’s alpha scoffed. “Kim Hanbin. The scoundrel’s child.”

“You know him?” the alpha asked.

Jisoo straightened up in her chair. “I do. He’s a very good leader and a kind person.”

“I will be totally transparent with you, dear,” the alpha continued, swirling his wine. “I have heard otherwise.”

“They’re mistaken,” Jisoo said definitely.

The other alpha raised his eyebrows. “I’ve heard he bends for no one. Seems like a waste to expect anything of him.”

Despite her efforts – albeit inhibited by alcohol – a smile pulled upward on Jisoo’s lips. “That’s not true. We have a deal on our famous Ice Cream Shoppe and their little tea store. It’s who you pitch your deal to that matters. Everyone in Seoul knows he bends for only six others. One of those in particular is a special case.”

The alpha leaned forward, interested. “So you’re saying that there’s a weak link?”

Jisoo shook her head. “Not at all. There is not one weak link in Hanbin’s pack.”

“So this ‘special person’,” the alpha pressed. “Is he the key to Kim Hanbin?”

Jisoo, lightheartedly, scoffed. “You’d like to get to Hanbin through this person?”

The alpha gave a noncommittal nod. “Theoretically.”

Jisoo raised her glass to him, then took a sip of wine. “I’d like to see you try.”

-♥-

Bobby was mad behind on training. He had grown all whimsical and emotionally flaccid during his time in the homemade ICU, and Hanbin did not take that lightly. Hanbin walked through their woods with his feet firmly pressed on the ground and his chest out. Bobby pranced through on his newly healed wolf paws like a dog in mittens.

Hanbin groaned. How would this creature ever be able to defend him in a fight? Bobby himself was unbreakable, but Hanbin? Hanbin would be the sacrifice. He would give his life and his next life for Bobby while Bobby stood unharmed and drooling slightly—“Eww…  Jiwon…”

Bobby licked his own snout and transferred the drool to his face. Lovely. “Haba.”

“Don’t speak with drool in your mouth.”

Bobby panted. Hanbin could tell he was smiling. For a person who hated hiking with such a burning passion as Bobby did, the wolf was really excited to be outdoors. Cabin fever, Hanbin supposed, will do that to you.

“You’re a mess,” Hanbin shook his head. “I’ll have to register you for obedience training. You’ll have to wear a collar.”

Ow-ow!” Bobby cheered, suggestively. Hanbin glared. Bobby winked.

Hanbin shook his head. “Forget that.” He said, “We’ll do swim training today.”

Bobby froze where he stood a few steps beyond Hanbin. A whimper sounded from Bobby’s throat. His ears drooped. He turned to face Hanbin with as wide eyes as Bobby could manage – which was not very wide at all, as eyes do not change in the wolf form, albeit he looked pretty cute pushing against the confines of his well-defined monolids.

“What is this supposed to be, puppy eyes?” Hanbin scoffed. “Do you know who you’re trying those on?” Hanbin could weaponize his quail eyes to the likes of which no one could ever prepare themselves for.

Bobby snuffled, angrily jerked his head to turn his body back around to continue walking to the riverbank. Hanbin smiled to himself and followed.

Ah wo wom my you wa,” Bobby said. “Wof eaha.”

I don’t know why you walk. Wolf easier.

“If I didn’t walk I’d be reduced to you,” Hanbin responded without missing a beat.

Hh!” Bobby gasped, looking at Hanbin with naturally wide eyes this time. Hanbin broke down laughing.

“Haba…” Bobby said, distressed. He nosed at Hanbin’s stomach, which Hanbin was bent over and clutching.

Hanbin batted Bobby away. “Let’s go.”

Bobby made grunting sounds and reluctantly followed.

The woods were so beautiful. Hanbin had no idea how it just appeared here, as if by magic. It existed just outside the city, and the trees grew tall as buildings. It seemed so deliberate, but like it existed beyond anyone. Such a place could not have been put there, could it? It smelled of aged wood, dead wood that should have burned but grew roots and germinated anew. It smelled like generations of wolves only left imprinted in footprints buried deep under new soil. Taeoh had given Hanbin the woods. Sometimes Hanbin caught his scent in the fodder.

A butterfly flew past Hanbin’s peripheral vision. When he turned to see it off, his foot slipped on a mossy root, and he tumbled to the earthen floor.

“Ow.” He mumbled.

He suddenly felt warm shade hover over him. Dare he look up? He chanced it.

Bobby looked down on him, snout inches from Hanbin’s nose. Bobby smiled and showed all his wolf teeth. Such a horrible, stupid creature. And defective too. No one’s incisors should be as long as their canines.

Bobby had a lot of rip and tear about him for such a dopey cretin.

Hanbin wrapped his arms around Bobby’s neck. After stalling for a moment, Bobby backed up, very gently, dragging Hanbin to his knees. Hanbin planted one after another on the ground, then pushed himself upright by the muscle on Bobby’s shoulders.

Which, hot.

Hanbin smiled, gave Bobby a scratch on the neck. Bobby wiggled his ears. Hanbin giggled.

“Mm, my Jiwon…” he cooed. Bobby closed his eyes. Hanbin gave him a fond scritch under the chin. “Always know how to get your alpha up.”

Bobby choked on nothing and opened his eyes. He stared at the ground.

Hanbin laughed. Slowly, Bobby broke down in teary-eyed laughter as well.

“Ha-BAAA!” Bobby howled. Loud enough to confuse some jogger or another.

“Shhhh,” Hanbin clasped a hand around Bobby’s snout. “Or should I get that muzzle?”

Bobby stared up at Hanbin, silent. His tail wagged.

After a moment of realization, Hanbin pulled his hand from Bobby’s mouth. “I’m a terrible leader,” he scolded himself, then stepped over Bobby to continue walking. Bobby bit and latched onto Hanbin’s pants. Hanbin dragged Bobby through the woods for the whole few steps it took for his pant leg to rip off at the calf.

“Jiwon-ah…” Hanbin said, calmly, “are you going to start being a functional living being again? You might as well still have two broken wrists.”

Bobby mumbled some wolfy jibberish that was incomprehensible to even a fellow lycanthrope.

The path they were walking cleared into a running river. It was calm that day – a challenge, but nothing Bobby could not fight against.

“Well,” Hanbin smiled complacently. “Get in.”

Bobby did not budge. He inclined his head in the direction of the water as if asking Hanbin to get in first.

Hanbin sighed. “You know what?” He grabbed the hem of his shirt. “Maybe you do need some guidance on your first day back.”

Hanbin set his rucksack down onto the ground and then pulled his shirt over his head. By the time he did so, Bobby stood before him in half-wolf form, and he had not worn any clothes into the woods.

“Woah,” Hanbin marveled. “That was fast.” Bobby had really improved his transition time.

Bobby’s smile pulled up at one corner of his mouth and he nonchalantly shrugged. Apparently the shrug hurt, because he winced and massaged his shoulder. “Like ripping off a band-aid.”

Hanbin nodded to acknowledge him and patted Bobby’s other shoulder, which made Bobby wince again. Hanbin scoffed. Bobby rolled his shoulders and Hanbin heard two deafening cracks as the bones fell into place. Ouch.

“That’s why I’m concerned about the training you missed,” Hanbin said. “You can’t skip arm day.”

Ha, ha,” Bobby mocked, and shoved Hanbin’s spleen. Hanbin’s eyebrows knitted together to express a moment of pain, but it passed, and he sheepishly smiled. He had that one coming.

“Are you going to let me get undressed?” Hanbin demanded. He looked up at Bobby under his eyelashes, popped the button of his jeans open as if it were a question.

Bobby licked his lips, canines visible over his bottom lip, where he sucked it in past his incisors.

“Is that a ‘no’?” Hanbin asked.

Bobby’s eyes flicked upward to meet Hanbin’s. He moved forward.

“You did so much for me over that past few weeks, baby,” Bobby crooned.

The burger in Hanbin’s stomach from lunch instantly liquefied into something black and vicious, and flipped.

Bobby placed his hands on Hanbin’s wrists, mindful of his wolf claws, which had collected a considerable amount of dirt after he insisted on traipsing through the woods on them.

“Let me help you out.”

“I’m not the one who can’t take care of myself,” Hanbin countered, and he hoped Bobby could not smell the want on his breath, not yet.

“Mm, you can,” Bobby agreed, “but you shouldn’t.”

Oh goddamn shit—” Hanbin grabbed the back of Bobby’s head and pushed their lips together and—“fuck,” he said against Bobby lips.

Bobby immediately fell into the kiss, sucking at Hanbin’s bottom lip. Hanbin felt the pressure of Bobby’s teeth against the plush of his lips, and fuck, the thin skin the only barricade between Bobby’s fangs and Hanbin’s blood – he loved it.

“You can go harder,” Hanbin whispered.

Bobby grabbed the back of Hanbin’s head with greater strength, tangling Hanbin’s hair in his claws, but the kiss stayed the same. Bobby had more control than Hanbin gave him credit for.

Hanbin pushed Bobby against a tree trunk. Bobby moaned into the kiss and Hanbin kissed him deeper, hands trailing over Bobby’s stomach.

“Have you ever not been shredded,” Hanbin whispered into Bobby’s mouth, “in your life?”

“For a time after I was born,” Bobby said. He flexed. “Before I was old enough to hit the nesting blocks.”

“You must have killed it on the baby bouncer,” Hanbin commented.

“Highest record in my division,” Bobby announced.

Hanbin laughed. Bobby had been such a chubby baby. Puberty really hit different for this guy.

“Now that my head’s on right,” Hanbin said, and shoved Bobby’s face to the side, “get in the water.”

“I feel a chick flick moment coming on,” Bobby mused.

“I didn’t know you paid attention when Junhoe and Jinhwan chose the movie.”

“I only woke up because Ryan Gosling took his shirt off.”

“If you expect me to ask nicely, you’re wrong,” Hanbin warned.

“Not a chance,” Bobby said, and smirked. Hanbin swallowed.

Bobby gestured a hand out. “After you.”

“So much for helping me out,” Hanbin rolled his eyes, then slipped his jeans off and tossed them aside. His slipped his underwear off next.

Woo-woo,” Bobby wriggled his eyebrows. “Guess you’re happy to see me?”

“Shut up,” Hanbin grumbled. “It was all this talk of Ryan Gosling.”

“Oh, I’m sure. Same thing just happened to me.”

Bobby’s smile reached his eyes.

Hanbin shifted into his wolf form and tackled Bobby into the water.

Bobby kicked at the current, and when his head beached the water level, he gasped for air. He grabbed onto the fluff at Hanbin’s neck until his transformation was complete and only his claws pierced Hanbin’s skin. At that point, Hanbin shook him off.

The two paddled against the current together. Bobby’s splashing was a lot louder than Hanbin’s dog paddle. Still, Hanbin enjoyed himself. He enjoyed the cool water filtering through his fur and easing the bruise forming on his shin where he fell, easing the ache in his ankles from standing guard as his wolves trained for hours and hours.

Training was hard work, but necessary.

Training was important for two reasons: Discipline and Territory.

Discipline keeps wolves in check, both physically and mentally. Lack of discipline leads to wolves roughhousing more frequently, and at inappropriate times, acting impulsively on animalistic instincts. Mental discipline allows the wolf to take control of that, to recognize but reign in their impulses to live a more functional and respectable life. From the alpha’s standpoint, discipline administered to the pack by their authority figure keeps wolves in line, and keeps everything running smoothly from the unanimously recognized center of power. However, this leadership also saves the beta wolves from alienation, and it keeps the pack happy and cohesive. It also encourages wolves to take things in stride and make good choices. It is important for wolves to have the mental fortitude to develop a code of conduct, or in the very least, have a backup moral compass, lest a full moon arrives and the wolf decides it particularly riveting to tussle with the family pet.*

*It is a misconception that wolves go feral on a full moon. They simply feel their power’s peak on the full moon, and they feel most at home in their wolf skin. This makes them feel more alive, and sometimes, living life to the fullest involves slaughtering your little sister’s gecko – Frank – whilst she sleeps. Even the most rambunctious werewolf will not hunt prey or kill for pleasure, but, unfortunately, shit happens. At their wildest, a wolf will engage with anything that does not stand its ground (will be elaborated on). Bad choices are made, but entirely voluntary.

Leading into the next point – training is necessary for defending territory. This does not mean defending from attack – this is very rare among lycanthropes. Disorganized and unruly wolves are simply easier to steal territory from because they lack the tools to diplomatically defend themselves. Opposition can tell by the way a wolf carries themselves whether or not they will defend what is theirs. Training builds strength and confidence. Strength and confidence lands an anchor in territory.

Fortunately, Bobby was born with an innate sense of confidence that led him to believe he could fly if he wanted to, which was handy as of late, as he had missed so much training.

The two paddled together for a while. They did not tread water the whole time – they swam around, splashed, dove underwater, let current take them near the point of no return like a water slide.

It was easier to train when the pack was altogether. They functioned best as a unit.

As the sun set, Hanbin estimated they had been training for around three hours by then.

Hanbin crawled out of the river, shook off his fur. Time to go. Tired. Hungry. Smell like musk. Gross. Do not like. “Wowo!”

Bobby snuffled in return. He put his paw on the riverbank and pushed himself up. He slipped and was carried down the river, legs kicking in the air. He flipped over, paddled back to the edge of the river. He gripped a handful of grass in his claws and tore the greenery up by the roots and he hauled his water drenched body onto land.

Hanbin smiled. Good wolf. Strong wolf. Good mate. I love you.

Bobby glared for a moment at Hanbin’s smile before shaking out his coat for an unreasonable amount of time. Hanbin worried for Bobby’s last two braincells.

Hanbin slipped into his half-wolf form, and by this point in practicing, the bones shifted under his skin like the turning of gears. It still hurt like an absolute bitch, but it was quick and uniform. When you spend a whole week shift training with your alpha, intermittently vomiting and passing out from the agony, it becomes a old wound. It was a standard pain.

Bobby chose to flop over and sunbathe.

“Shift back,” Hanbin demanded, poking Bobby’s side with his foot. “You’re going to smell like a wet dog. I’m not taking you out like that.”

Bobby fixed Hanbin with a look. Hanbin gave him one right back. As a final show of defiance, Bobby rolled around in the grass and dirt like a hyperactive terrier, then covered in Earth, shifted back into his half-wolf form.

He stared up at Hanbin with grass stains on his back and leaves in his hair.

“Was it worth it?” Hanbin asked.

Bobby growled. “Get down here.”

“Absolutely not,” Hanbin said. He opened his rucksack, fanned out a pair of sweatpants without the tail-hole in the butt.

Bobby’s eyes narrowed. “Get on the ground.”

“I’m sorry, who is whose alpha here?” Hanbin slipped on the sweatpants.

“Depends.”

“We’re not in bed,” Hanbin said. “And even then, don’t act like I’m a perfect switch. You know you can’t push me around.”

Bobby wrapped his hand around his cock.

“Don’t do that,” Hanbin said.

Bobby raised his eyebrows.

“If you think I’m touching your day-old-gym-towel cock, you are terribly mistaken,” Hanbin said, and slipped on a crewneck t-shirt. “Terribly mistaken.” Hanbin tilted his head. “Ah, so wrong.”

Bobby eventually stood up. Hanbin was already dressed down to his shoes and waiting with Bobby’s pile of clothes held out to him. Bobby slipped on his pair of sweats.

“Nothing?” Bobby asked in disbelief. “I got you suck my whole dick with my clothes on by just looking at you. Would you really not fuck in the woods, or am I being disciplined?” He adjusted the elastic band at his ankle.

“Of course not,” Hanbin insisted. “This is not the right place for sex.”

Bobby spoke with his shirt between his teeth as he slipped his shoes on. “I think anywhere is the right place as long as yo body talkin’ like that.”

“Well it’s not,” Hanbin simply replied.

Hanbin simply adjusted his rucksack on his shoulders. Come on, he was not that bad of an alpha. Sex on training ground was entirely inappropriate. And if he did succumb to his instincts, he would be the exact wolf he trained so hard not be, the opposite of the alpha that his betas needed to teach them not to follow the very same instinct. Besides, if he soiled his sacred ground, he would never know peace again.

Alpha,” Bobby scoffed indignantly. “Who would ever want to end up with that gig? Such a waste.”

Yet it wasn’t. The sacrifice was worth the benefits. Hanbin could never see himself in any other place in this world than at the head of his pack.

Bobby put on his shirt, ruffled his curly hair. He stretched out a crick in his neck and pushed one canine back into his gums with the palm of his hand, then licked his new teeth. He picked a rock out of his molars and flicked it onto the ground. He sniffled. He then looked at Hanbin. “Ready?”

Hanbin sighed. Bobby smelled like sex and wet dog and looked like he had just been ravished by the horniest Baba Yaga on planet earth. He had a leaf stuck in his hair and Hanbin chose to leave it there.

This would have to do.

Hanbin held out his hand. “Dinner?”

Bobby looked at the hand. His eyes softened. He clasped Hanbin’s hand in his. Hanbin smiled.

Bobby leaned in close and said, “I’d like a piece of that,” and grabbed Hanbin’s ass. Hanbin yelped slightly, startled by the sudden change of pace. Sue him for wishing Bobby would be cute for once.

“You get breakfast,” Hanbin said, “or you starve.”

Bobby made a pfff sound. “Guess I’ll die.”

Hanbin decided to make an executive decision here. They would go to the waffle house, because the people who worked there had seen hell in a group of college kids from Seoul National University at 4am on a Wednesday, and they could care less about eco-hippies at this point.

Hanbin was quite fond of the place. Although he felt a close territorial bond with the tea shop, Hanbin hoped he would get the waffle house in the transfer of territory to his successor.

They exited the woods at the gate that separated it from the city. Before they continued on, Bobby caught Hanbin’s cheek in his hand.

“Hey,” he said.

Hanbin looked over at Bobby and his eyes landed on the leaf sticking out of his head like a signal. “Yeah?”

Bobby leaned in and gave Hanbin a soft kiss. Hanbin’s eyes fluttered shut, and he just let himself be kissed. He let himself be loved.

“I’m sorry, I’m still not used to it,” Bobby said. “How you switch so fast. One second you’re my boyfriend and the next you’re my leader. I don’t keep up. I don’t want to. I guess that’s why Taeoh-nim didn’t pick me. Anyway,” Bobby pulled away, their noses still touching. “What I’m tryin’ to say is you’re a good alpha, and I’m not easy, but you do good anyway.”

Hanbin blushed. “Thank you, Jiwon.”

“And I’m not just saying that,” he continued, “because I want your breakfast sausage.”

“I’m getting whiplash here, Jiwon...”

“And I’m not just saying it because I love you.”

Hanbin’s heart leapt into his throat.

Bobby stroked the side of Hanbin’s cheek. Hanbin dropped his face to rest in Bobby’s dusty palm.

“I’m saying it because it’s true.”

Hanbin smiled. Bobby smiled back, his eyes crescents. He sniffled.

Hanbin lowered Bobby’s hand from his face and intertwined their fingers. They recommenced their journey to food.

As they approached the waffle house, Hanbin noticed that something was off about the air. There were pheromones, there was wolf, but he did not recognize where the scent was coming from. As they grew nearer and nearer to the establishment, Bobby’s nose scrunched up, and he looked at Hanbin, now finally drawing Hanbin’s attention away from cautiously drawing a path.

Hanbin took a moment to rub Bobby’s arm. Bobby’s elbow snapped into place. Hanbin scrunched his eyebrows in a come-on-man sort of pleading.  Bobby hung his head to apologize and rolled his shoulders. When nothing popped, Hanbin continued inside.

The door shut behind them.

Before Hanbin was even done scanning the room, a man stood up from a booth, fixing his jacket. He was about thirty, in Hanbin’s opinion, and well put together. He fixed Hanbin with a smile, and his eyes were so kind it threw Hanbin off for a moment, and Hanbin wondered whether or not to trust him.

“Table for two?” the hostess asked.

“Ah, no,” Hanbin said, keeping one eye on the man. “We’re joining someone.”

The hostess turned her head. The man waved. The hostess smiled and led Hanbin and Bobby to the table.

The man did not sit, and neither did Hanbin or Bobby.

The hostess said, “I’ll leave you to it,” and turned on her heel to flee.

Hanbin and Bobby looked up at the man.

Bobby stepped closer to Hanbin.

“Ah,” the man said through his canines, “now, I understand.”