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Yang was ready for the news. He was a nightmare. He had probably bitten someone. (Again. But hopefully this time it didn’t require stitches.) He had terrorized the other dogs. There was a never-ending list of the horrors. Zwei just hated going to the groomers. Half of the reason she started taking him was the fact he would scream and struggle to get his nails done. Then there was the bathing and other grooming. As well behaved as he was the rest of the time, it had shocked her when he had acted like she was torturing him. And her sister just couldn’t take it.

The clerk offered a small wave as she entered the shop. “Welcome back, Miss Xiao Long. He's all finished and waiting for you.”

“How many people did he maim this time?” She attempted to joke with a small smile.

“Actually,” the girl said, looking over to her computer with amusement. “I heard the body count was zero this time. He took pretty well to the new guy. Seems he was docile the whole time, according to him.”

She paused for a long moment and stared at the girl. “Are… are you sure we are talking about the same dog? Little cute corgi who likes to bite anyone when he gets near water?”

The receptionist laughed before nodding, “Yes. Same dog, I promise. You can go back if you’d like. Pretty sure he’s in...” A quick glance over the screen prompted the answer of “the play room.”

The blonde kept her confused look as she nodded and headed in the direction. A few of the windows showed dogs in varying states of being bathed, shaved, and brushed. When she reached the designated room, there was a boy her age, tugging on a rope with her dog. Silver hair, dark eyes, and a beautiful face did as much good for her as the yipping and playful pup. She watched as he chased after Zwei while the corgi did laps around him, playing keep away after having freed the rope from the human’s hand. They both looked to be having fun.

She pulled open the door. Two sets of eyes turned to her as they both came to a stop. “Uh, hey. I’m here to pick up Zwei?”

The guy quickly recovered after the smallest look of disappointment, “Yeah, uh, he’s ready to go.” Zwei hopped up and put his front paws on the guy’s legs, toy in mouth. A hand went to scratch his ear. “Aren’t you, buddy? You ready to go with your Momma?” A shrill bark caused the groomer to look back up. “You have a really good dog.”

“You are the first person here to say that,” Yang laughed as Zwei pulled away. “He’s usually a little brat.” Little doggie ears popped up. The toy was utterly abandoned as he bolted towards her and yipped. She bent down to pet him and give him plenty of approving complements. She looked back to where the guy had decided to stand up. “I’m surprised. He’s not a fan of being groomed at all. What did you do?”

There was a slight shrug, “Nothing. They told me he was going to be a nightmare. If that is the case, then this job is going to be incredibly easy.”

She laughed at him before standing up again, “Well, if you can keep him from biting someone when it comes to his nails, you have to be a godsend. Thank you.”

“It’s my job,” he chuckled. Zwei got bored of the lack of attention and ran back to the newer human. He patted the dog. “I will be more than happy to work with him again.”

“I’ll have to remember that.” She watched for a moment before realizing. “I’m Yang, by the way.”

“I know. I’m Mercury. Mercury Black. It’s nice to meet you.” Dark, amused eyes met hers. It caused her to falter for a second. She couldn’t look away but the pretty face she stared at took away any thought of a reply. He chuckled before releasing her by turning his attention back to the dog. There was a tug on the rope and playful growling for a moment.

She went to break the awkwardness, “Your dog must get jealous when you leave here.”

“I, uh, actually don’t have a dog. My apartment doesn’t really allow it,” he replied. “So, gotta get my dose of puppies here.”

“Oh,” was her lackluster response. It went quiet for a minute as she tried to think of a proper reply. After a second, she lit up. “Oh! Well, you could always come with me. For Zwei, I mean. He seems pretty taken with you.”

Mercury gave an appraising nod, “Uh, sure. Yeah. If you would be up for it.”

“Yeah. He needs to go play more often. And it’ll be the perfect thing for him. I don’t get to take him to the dog park as much as I want to,” she confessed. “I work a lot so he doesn’t really get to go out much. And I can’t find anyone who wants to dog sit a few days a week.”

He chuckled, “Well, I’d do it for you if I wasn’t working.”

“I, uh,” she hesitated, “Would you? I mean, he already loves you.”

“Sure. Why not. I’m only here part time, anyways.”

She nodded some, debating, “Well, I will gladly pay you for your time.”

“Alright. That sounds good, then.” There was a pause before he reached into his pocket, “Yeah. Let’s do it. Here, go ahead and give me your number. I’ll text you later.” She grabbed for the phone to quickly type in her number, not forgetting to put her name. “Which side of town do you live on?”

She gave him a curious look as her eyes came off the phone for a second, “Northern. The dog park out there is pretty mediocre.”

Mercury nodded, “That’s what I’ve heard. But, the East side has a really great one. Never super crowded, but it always seems like there are a couple of dogs.”

She gave a confused face, “Where on the east side? I didn’t know there was one over there.”

He chuckled, “You know where that burger place is? Like, right next to the super fancy gas station?”

“The one with the great Tiramisu?”

“I wouldn’t know that,” he grinned. “But I guess so?”

Yang nodded, “Yeah. They have a little deli inside. My best friend works in the bakery.”

“That’s awesome. I’ll have to stop in.”

“Yeah. Tell Blake I sent you. She’ll probably send you home with the best of whatever you pick.”

He grinned, “Alright. But yeah. There’s one there. We could, uh, meet up there one day.”

“Yeah,” she returned the grin. “That sounds great. So, uh, yeah.” She handed the phone back over with a nervous chuckle before moving to hook a leash onto Zwei’s collar. “Let me know your schedule and we can set up a date.” The wording hit her less than a second after it left her mouth. “I mean, to go out. To the park. With Zwei.” Mentally, she groaned, mortified by her proposition.

He laughed and it was suddenly worth the humiliation.

“I'd love to. I'll text you when I'm free, alright?” His dark eyes went to the screen as he went to save the number.

“Yeah. Okay. Awesome.” When he looked back up at her, she nodded. “Thanks again.”

“Seriously. It was nothing. It's my job.”

She nodded again, “Yeah. But still.” She tugged on Zwei’s leash, getting him to move towards the door and away from her embarrassment. “I guess I'll talk you you later.”

“Yeah. Sounds good. See ya, Yang.”

There was a small wave over her shoulder as she headed back to the lobby to pay, unable to keep the little grin off of her face.