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don't try to hide it (i'll be on your side)

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Hoseok shimmied out of his apron, folding it carefully before placing it back into its designated spot in his work locker. His feet ached from standing for hours on end, and he couldn't wait to get home and take the fattest nap possible before working on his research paper well into the night. Well, after one minor detour.

He grabbed his backpack, fishing out his lunch pail as he waved goodbye to Jimin who was leaning across the counter flirting with his usual six o'clock customer. Jimin wiggled his fingers before turning back to the man, who looked like he was put under a spell, and Hoseok supposed he was. Jimin had that effect on people. It was the slowest it had been all day, anyways, so it wasn't like Jimin had anything better to do than render weak men speechless.

Hoseok pushed out the front door, smiling politely as he shuffled into the moving crowd. He made a quick turn to the right as soon as he spotted the alleyway, dipping in and looking around to make sure no one followed him. The coffee shop was in a good part of town, right outside their university, but Hoseok's mother had raised him to always be aware of his surroundings.

He dug into his lunch pail, giving a sharp whistle, and as soon as he saw the furry black figure come out from behind the dumpster it was like all the exhaustion from the day melted away. "There you are!"

The dog bounded up to him, its paws thudding powerfully on the ground as it came to rub its cheek against Hoseok's leg. Hoseok cooed, dropping down to a squat and petting his fingers through the dog's fur. "You're probably hungry, hm?"

The resulting whine made Hoseok laugh, and he pulled out the leftover meat he had from lunch. He kept it in a separate compartment from what he actually ate, since he didn't want to feed the dog any spices and give it an upset stomach, and his lips curled into a grin as the dog gobbled up his offering straight from his hand.

"I know it's not much," Hoseok said, regretfully. "It'd be much easier if I could take you home, hm? Too bad my landlord won't let big dogs in the apartments..."

Hoseok sighed, and the dog licked its maw before nuzzling into the warm area of Hoseok's torso. He really was a huge dog, unlike anything Hoseok had ever seen before, but Hoseok thought he was gorgeous even if he was a mutt. Hoseok had only ever grown up with little dogs, like poodles and shih tzus, but with a personality so sweet and friendly how could he not want the stray?

The dog whined again, and Hoseok smiled as he pet down its back. "You're always so clean," he said with a hum. "Such a good pup, huh? Taking care of yourself out here."

The resulting thump of the dog's tail against the ground was enough to make all of the stress from Hoseok's day evaporate.

 

 

"What're you doing?"

Hoseok blinked, looking up. Jimin was done with his lunch, scrolling on his phone with his legs crossed underneath him. Hoseok wasn't sure how he balanced on the thin folding chairs their work provided them for their lunch break, but he knew better than to question the things Jimin was capable of doing. "Eating."

"No you're not, hyung." Jimin furrowed his brow, before his eyes lit up. "Oh! Are you still feeding that stray?"

Hoseok's cheeks reddened as he looked back down at his lunch. The meat he kept separate for the stray was untouched, kept in its own container. "Yeah. I feel bad, leaving him out there like that. He's a good dog."

"Seems like it." Jimin got a funny look on his face, but it was gone as soon as Hoseok noticed it. "Well, keep feeding him. I'm sure he enjoys your company."

Hoseok snorted, finishing off the last few grains of rice in his container. "I will, then."

"Speaking of! You know my friend Taehyung?"

Hoseok couldn't help his grin as he leaned back against his chair. "Mhm, you know I know Taehyung. Not sure what that has to do with the stray, though."

"Anyways," Jimin said, waving his hand, "I think he's stopping by today after his classes. I'll make sure you serve him, hyung. You always seem so happy when he comes by."

"Jimin-ah, what're you plotting?" Hoseok said, shaking his head with a laugh. "Taehyung's nice, should I not be happy when he comes?"

Jimin hummed, grinning behind his iced coffee. "Whatever you say, hyung. But don't say I didn't warn you!"

True to Jimin's word, Taehyung rolled into the coffee shop a quarter past four o'clock. He looked...gorgeous as ever, with his peach colored hair set perfectly on top of his head and a flowy top that accentuated his collarbones. Hoseok wasn't staring, at least not as much as he wanted to, but he could admit that he picked up his walking pace when he saw Taehyung approach the front counter.

Jimin snorted, waving to Taehyung from where he was heating up a pastry for the previous customer, and Taehyung waved back before beaming at Hoseok. "Hi, hyung."

"Hi, Taehyung-ah," Hoseok responded, his ears turning pink when Taehyung's eyes settled on his lips. "Same order as usual?"

"You remember?" Taehyung tilted his head, biting on his lower lip. "I haven't been in here in a while."

"You're my favorite customer, 'course I remember," Hoseok said with a smile. He rang the order up on the cash register, and Taehyung looked down at the counter with a hidden smile of his own.

"I should stop by more often, then."

"I'd like that," Hoseok said, watching Taehyung push his card into the reader. "Jimin gets boring after a while, y'know?"

"Hyung," Jimin huffed, wandering over with his arms crossed over his chest. "Taehyungie, you're not even going to defend me?"

"Nah," Taehyung said, laughing when Jimin reached over the counter to pinch his cheeks. "Aw, I'm kidding, Minnie!"

"Go sit down," Hoseok said through a laugh. "Let me make your drink in peace."

Taehyung hid his giggle behind his hand, nodding and heading to the usual window spot he claimed whenever he came to the shop. Hoseok ignored Jimin's teasing grin as he went to make the drink, and he ignored the way his heart jumped when Taehyung came to retrieve his coffee.

If he had to focus on cleaning the counter to avoid looking at Taehyung every chance he got, that was on him.

 

 

"You know," Jimin said, looking at his phone, "I think Taehyungie likes you."

Hoseok looked over his shoulder, furrowing his brow. Their only customer had just left, and it was just the two of them inside the coffee shop. "Jimin. Aren't you betraying your soulmate friendship code by telling me that?"

"Nah." Jimin shrugged his shoulders. "Is it a bad thing I want my best friend to be happy? I know you like him too, hyung."

Hoseok sighed, leaning against the counter and crossing his arms over his chest. The tie from his apron was digging into his back, but he didn't make a move to adjust it. "We're barely getting to know each other. The only time we see each other is when he comes to get coffee. I don't want to rush anything."

Jimin's eyes softened, and he came to stand beside Hoseok. Their shoulders pressed together, and Hoseok sighed. "That's sweet of you, hyung. I'm just saying, you've known each other for months now. Wouldn't it be nice to maybe ask him out on a date?"

"I feel like we're in elementary school," Hoseok said, snorting. "You're asking me to ask out your best friend."

"We're gay, hyung," Jimin deadpanned. "If it weren't for me forcing you to talk about him you'd probably still think Taehyung was straight."

He had a point, but Hoseok didn't want to see Jimin's triumphant face at five o'clock on a Tuesday.

 

 

Despite working up his nerve to ask Taehyung out all night, he didn't show up for coffee the next day. Jimin had shrugged his shoulders when Hoseok casually (not so casually) asked where Taehyung might be, stating that Taehyung was always somewhere doing something. Hoseok made Jimin pinky promise that he wouldn't let Taehyung know about anything until Hoseok was ready, so he knew that wasn't it.

So, he wandered to the alleyway in search of his favorite distraction.

"Ah, there you are," Hoseok sighed, dropping into a squat as soon as the dog came bounding up to him. He laughed, welcoming him into a hug and nuzzling his face into the dog's fur. It was soft, well taken care of, and not for the first time Hoseok wondered if the stray was really just a neighborhood dog with a knack of getting out of its owner's backyard. "What am I supposed to do, hm?"

The dog thumped its tail lazily against the ground, looking up at Hoseok with its big brown eyes, and Hoseok smiled.

"What am I, a kid? Getting upset about the boy I like..." Hoseok sighed, petting the dog's ears back and smiling when it wiggled closer. It tilted his head, as if asking Hoseok to continue, or maybe that was all in Hoseok's head. A past professor's voice rang in his head, reminding him not to assign human traits to animals, but he ignored it. "His name is Taehyung. I wanted to ask him out but he didn't come by today. It's not like he rejected me, so why am I like this?"

Hoseok laughed as the dog stared at him, the tail thumps stopping, and he rubbed the side of his head. "I sound ridiculous, don't I? Jimin just got me excited, so I worked myself up."

The dog wiggled itself forward some more, and Hoseok laughed when he ended up with a lap full of fur. "Okay, okay. This is about you and I, not some boy, hm? I didn't forget your food."

He reached into his backpack, pulling out the container with meat, and he had to admit that he felt a lot better seeing the dog dig in. He pet the stray's ears back with a sigh. He was overreacting. He needed to spend less time with Jimin.

 

 

To Hoseok's surprise, Taehyung came in the next day.

"Oh," he breathed, taking in Taehyung's appearance. He looked frazzled, unlike himself, in plain jeans and an oversized t-shirt and his hair tucked under a black cap, but Hoseok thought he still looked gorgeous. "You never come in on Thursdays?"

"Uh," Taehyung rubbed the side of his neck, his cheeks pinking up. "I couldn't focus in the studio, so. Figured I'd come over for some fuel."

"Studio?"

"I'm working on a design," Taehyung said, smiling gently. "I'm a fashion major, dunno if I ever told you?"

Hoseok's lips curved into a smile. "No, you didn't. That's really cool, Taehyung-ah. So you're, uh, free for the rest of the night?"

Taehyung's shoulders tensed up, and for a second Hoseok wondered if he had done something wrong. Taehyung's smile brightened, though, and he leaned against the counter. "I am, hyung."

Hoseok bit his lip, trying to reel in his excitement as best as he could. "That's good. Would you want to get dinner with me, maybe?"

It slipped out before Hoseok could figure out a smoother way to ask, but Taehyung laughed all the same as his cheeks turned pink. "I'd like that, hyung. When's your shift over?"

"In, uh—" Hoseok glanced down at his watch "—an hour and a half. That okay?"

"That's more than okay," Taehyung said, biting his lip. "I'll just work on homework and wait for you?"

"Yeah," Hoseok said, his confidence swooping back in like a breath of fresh air. "Okay, cool."

"Cool," Taehyung repeated. "I'll pass on the coffee, then. Wouldn't want to ruin my date."

He walked over to his usual spot, winking as he turned, and Hoseok did his best not to choke on his spit as Jimin cackled in the background.

It was most likely the hardest shift Hoseok had ever been through, what with Jimin teasing him every step of the way and Taehyung glancing up at him while he tried not to burn the coffee he was brewing. He practically flew to the break room when Jimin informed him that it was time for him to go, and Taehyung's resulting smile when he came back out was well worth the wait.

"Quick bite sound okay, hyung? I don't think either of us are well dressed for a nice restaurant," Taehyung said, gesturing to his clothes and backpack.

Hoseok looked down at himself, noting the creamer stain on his right pant leg, and wrinkled his nose. "Uh, yeah. That's probably for the best. I know a place that had good cold noodles around here if that's your thing."

Taehyung smiled, latching onto Hoseok's arm and making Hoseok's heart fall to his ass. "Show the way, hyung."

Hoseok had known Taehyung for a few months, sure, and Jimin had told him enough stories to make it feel like they had known each other for longer, but nothing was quite like getting to sit across from him and really learn about the kind of person he was.

"I really want to see you dance one day, hyung," Taehyung said, his mouth full of noodles. He looked drastically adorable, and Hoseok was wondering just how far gone he was to think a kid who talked with his mouth full was cute. "Jiminnie says you're one of the best."

"Jimin's the best, too," Hoseok said, smiling as he placed a bit more meat on Taehyung's plate. He ignored Taehyung's affronted noise, moving his plate back so Taehyung couldn't give it back. "You should come to a showcase some day."

"I've been wanting to go but it never works out with my schedule," Taehyung said, biting his lower lip. "I guess if I had seen you dance I wouldn't have been able to resist asking you out first."

Hoseok sputtered out a laugh. "What do you mean?"

"I didn't want to ask in case you felt obligated to talk to me," Taehyung admitted, not meeting Hoseok's eyes as he pushed around his food. "Y'know, since you worked there and since I'm Jiminnie's friend. It would've made it awkward for you."

Hoseok reached across the table to place his hand on top of Taehyung's free one. He rubbed his thumb against Taehyung's knuckles, and a smile bloomed across his face when Taehyung finally met his eyes. "I didn't want to rush. It's hard to tell if someone's being friendly or flirting with you. But I do like you, Taehyung-ah."

Taehyung let out a soft breath of air. "Good. I like you too, hyung."

Hoseok didn't kiss him when he walked Taehyung home that night, but his heart was warm enough with affection that by the time he was wrapped up in his bed at home he was already texting Taehyung to ask him out again. To his delight, Taehyung said yes.

 

 

"Hyung, you're still feeding the dog?" Jimin asked, locking the front door behind them and peering over Hoseok's shoulder as he fumbled with his lunch pail.

Hoseok hummed, making a small sound of triumph as he located the container of meat. "Yeah, 'course I am. I've been taking care of him this whole time, haven't I?"

Jimin looked like he wanted to say something, but he nodded and stepped back. His apartment was on the other side of town, and Hoseok didn't envy his commute. "Mm, you're right. Well, have a good night, hyung."

"See ya, Jimin-ah."

Hoseok slipped into the alley with a pep in his step, whistling under his breath. He was in a considerably good mood, since he had gone on a date with Taehyung that morning before his shift, and he was planning on messaging him once he was done with the dog to see if he wanted to go see a movie. It was a bit late, sure, but it was Friday.

He called out for the stray, pouting when the dog didn't come out of the shadows to greet him. Maybe it wasn't out today? It had happened before, but Hoseok wanted to make sure that the dog was fed for the weekend since he wouldn't be back until Monday.

Hoseok walked deeper into the alley, and his nerves spiked when he heard a soft whimper near the trash bins. His feet led him to the sound, and a gasp ripped its way out of his chest as his eyes landed on the pile of fur bundled up against the wall. The wounds were evident, blood matting down the fur on its legs, and Hoseok cursed as he fell forward on his knees.

"Shit, shit. What happened to you?"

The stray whimpered again, lifting his head and thumping his tail against the ground at the sight of Hoseok. Hoseok's heart broke, and he brushed his fingers through the clean fur on top of its head. "Okay, okay. I'm...shit. I'm going to take you home, okay?"

It was late, way too late for any vets to be open, and it wasn't like Hoseok could afford to take a stray to the vet anyways. There was no way he could take the dog to the pound, either, and—

"Your wounds look pretty shallow," Hoseok said, the shakiness to his words betraying his nerves. "I'll take you home, okay? Take care of you."

The dog huffed, resting its head against Hoseok's knee as Hoseok continued to pet him. That was enough to get Hoseok moving. He took his jacket off, grabbing his phone to call a cab. Hoseok never took cabs, thought they were a waste of money, but it wasn't like he could smuggle a full sized dog onto the bus.

He thanked his past self for buying jackets that were way too big for him as he wrapped it around the dog, never minding the stains that would be left on it, and groaned as he lifted the dog up. The cab was supposed to be coming any minute, and he needed to be ready.

Hoseok let his backpack slip down to the side, concealing the bit of fur that the jacket didn't reach, and prayed he got a cab driver that didn't ask too many questions. The dog stayed silent, thankfully, and Hoseok hobbled over to the street to wait. He tried his best to keep his cool, smiling at the people that passed by and raked a curious gaze over his mysterious parcel, and he let out a sigh of relief when the cab pulled up.

He struggled to open the door, not wanting to drop the dog and ruin everything, but the cab driver did little but raise an eyebrow at him once he was finally in. They took off, Hoseok's heart going faster than the car itself, and Hoseok bundled up his precious package to his chest at an attempt to soothe the pup.

To his luck, the dog kept silent the entire ride. Hoseok wasn't sure if that was necessarily a good thing, given the circumstances, but he managed to thank the cab driver and make it out without another questioning glance.

He smiled at the receptionist as always, and her half hearted hum was for once welcome as he speedwalked to the elevators. No one else was waiting for it, thankfully, and Hoseok let out a groan of relief once they were safely inside.

"Almost there," he whispered. His heart broke at the soft whine that followed.

The hallway was empty as well, and Hoseok's heart continued to race even once they were inside his apartment. He carried the dog over to the living room, carefully setting him on top of the couch and spreading out the jacket so none of the blood stained it. Despite how close they were, Hoseok knew that Namjoon would draw the line at blood stains.

"Okay," Hoseok breathed, leaning over the couch as his heart tried to catch up with him. "Okay, okay. Stay, please? I'll be right back."

The dog looked pitiful, but it did as it was told and rested against the back of the couch as Hoseok ran to the bathroom to search for their first aid kit. A quick google search told him what was okay to use and what wasn't okay to use, and he raced back to the living room.

The cuts didn't look that deep, thankfully, but there were a lot of them. Hoseok got to working, doing his best to disinfect them and wrap them with gauze. He didn't feel confident enough to shave the fur away from the wounded areas, but the dog looked so spooked that Hoseok wouldn't have wanted to anyways.

"There," Hoseok said, his heart finally calming down as he took in his final work. "All better. Right?"

The dog answered with a resounding thump of its tail against the couch, and Hoseok laughed quietly. He leaned forward, pressing his forehead against its soft belly. "Thank god."

Hoseok laughed a bit louder when the dog pressed its nose against his forehead, and he pet down its side. "Well, I guess you're staying here for now, huh? Oh, jeez, what'd I get myself in to?"

He reached for his phone again as the dog slowly lifted itself up, pacing on the couch until Hoseok patted his rump and told him to get down. He sent a flurry of text messages to Taehyung, sneaking a picture of the pup, in hopes of any advice. Hoseok didn't know anyone that could take in a huge dog, but maybe Taehyung did.

A response didn't come, and Hoseok figured Taehyung was asleep. It was late, really, and Hoseok knew Taehyung had worked hard all week on his projects. Maybe it was for the best they didn't go out on a date.

"Come on," Hoseok sighed, rubbing a hand over his face. "You need to eat."

The dog glanced at the door as it followed Hoseok to the kitchen, but it settled down happily as Hoseok fished in his backpack for the meat. It gobbled the meat down greedily, and Hoseok pet its ears with a happy sigh.

"I'll get you taken care of, I promise," Hoseok said. "For now, let's sleep."

Another glance was sent to the door, but Hoseok didn't have much time to think it over before the dog was bounding after him to get ready for bed. Admittedly, Hoseok slept much better when he had a big fluff ball for a pillow.

 

 

Hoseok woke to a hand cupping his cheek, and his lips curled into a easy smile as he was greeted with the very man he had wished to see. "Mm, am I dreaming?"

Taehyung laughed, and it wasn't like the laughter Hoseok was used to hearing from him. "No, hyung. You're not dreaming."

Hoseok blinked, again and again, until the room around Taehyung became less fuzzy. He bolted upright, hands flying around him, until Taehyung grabbed onto them with a nervous smile. "I— How did you get in here?"

He didn't have a shirt on, and from how low the sheets were hanging off of his hips Hoseok would guess he didn't have any pants either. "Calm down, hyung. I'll explain everything, I promise. Please?"

That was easier said than done, but Hoseok nodded as his mind tried to catch up. "Okay. Okay, but—" He looked around, and his heart fell. "Where's the dog?"

"Hyung." Taehyung was starting to sound just as nervous as Hoseok did, but he squeezed Hoseok's hands in his. "Please, let me explain."

"Please do," Hoseok said, his brows furrowing with confusion. Where was the damn dog? His door was still shut, so it couldn't be anywhere else. Namjoon would have called for him already if he had seen it. How did Taehyung get into his apartment?

"There's something you don't know about me," Taehyung started, staring down at their intertwined fingers. "I-I couldn't tell you, not right away. I just wanted to get close to you."

"You're going to have to be more specific, Tae," Hoseok said, squeezing his hand. Taehyung wasn't a bad person. Hoseok knew that, but he was confused. He needed answers. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Taehyung's gaze drifted down to his arms, and when Hoseok realized what he was looking out his mouth went dry. There was gauze wrapped all along his arms, some well secured and others threatening to fall off at any moment. "You haven't been taking care of a stray dog, hyung. That was no dog. It was a wolf."

Hoseok's blood ran cold. "A-A wolf? Taehyung-ah, there's no—"

"I can show you proof," Taehyung said. He brought Hoseok's hands up to his lips, and Hoseok couldn't help but remember the first kiss they shared a week ago. Taehyung had walked him home after their second date together, and Hoseok couldn't help but kiss him before he left. It had been a good memory, chaste and sweet, but Hoseok's nerves were muddling it up. "All I wanted was to keep you company, you know? I'm sorry I lied."

"What did you lie about?" Hoseok frowned, shaking his head. "Tae, what—"

"Do you trust me, hyung?" Taehyung asked, dropping their hands back to his lap. "I know we've barely been seeing each other for a few weeks, but—"

"I trust you," Hoseok interrupted. "I want you to tell me the truth."

"That wolf was me, hyung," Taehyung said, blurting it out in a flurry of words so fast that it took a second for Hoseok to digest the words.

He stared at him, unsure of what he had heard, before he looked back down at the bandages on Taehyung's arms. The dog— the wolf?— from last night had only been injured on its four legs. "That's not— what?"

"I can show you," Taehyung said, averting his eyes. "I can prove it to you."

Hoseok shivered, and Taehyung's grip on his hands faltered. But, still— "Okay," he said, despite himself. This was a joke. Taehyung was joking. "Show me."

Taehyung released his hands, and Hoseok watched as he shimmied off the bed. He took the sheet with him, hiding himself, and Hoseok watched as the boy he had started to fall for morphed into the dog— the wolf— he had pledged to take care of.

It wasn't gruesome in the way Hoseok had read in books and seen in movies. The shift was quick, without much fanfare or blood or pain, and Hoseok gasped as those familiar brown eyes looked up at him. The stray he had cared for so much over the past few months came up to the side of the bed, resting its head on the edge, and Hoseok reached out to pet his ears before he could think it through.

The wolf— Taehyung— let out a soft whine, and Hoseok's heart melted all the same. "Oh, Tae."

Taehyung backed up before Hoseok could realize he was moving, and within a minute he was back to the same boy Hoseok thought he was dreaming of. "I'm sorry, hyung. If you want me to leave, I will. I'm not—"

"I don't understand," Hoseok said, cutting him off, "but I don't want you to leave. You're still someone I care about, Tae, even if I am confused."

Taehyung sat down on the edge of the bed, the sheets secure around his waist, and he let out a shaky breath. "You weren't supposed to find me like that last night. Some assholes from another pack found out that I've been seeing you and tried to pick a fight, and I was trying to recover before going back home. You weren't supposed to find out like this."

"But you did want me to find out?" Hoseok asked, resting his hand on top of Taehyung's covered knee. Taehyung looked down at it, before meeting Hoseok's eyes again.

"I did, yeah. Jimin's, um, like me. We're not supposed to tell people about who we are unless we really trust them, so I wanted to wait a little longer. But, the fact that you risked bringing me here to make sure I was okay proves your character to me. I don't mind that you know, hyung."

Hoseok's heart swelled, and he risked pressing a kiss to Taehyung's forehead. "Then I'm glad. I don't want to stop seeing you, Tae. It's going to take a while for me to understand, but...Jimin being a wolf in sheep's clothing isn't very surprising."

Taehyung took the joke with gusto, laughing loudly as he wrapped his arms around Hoseok's waist. "I really got lucky with you, hyung. But I can't believe you thought I was a stray dog."

"What else was I supposed to think? Why would a wolf be in an alleyway outside of a coffee shop?"

Taehyung snorted, and Hoseok brought him in tighter as they laughed together. "I guess you're right."

"I'm just glad I get to have both my dog and my boyfriend now," Hoseok said, freezing once he realized what came out of his mouth.

Taehyung pulled back, his lips parted and eyes wide. "Did you just say that?"

"I did," Hoseok said, a bit of dread in his tone. "That wasn't supposed to be how I asked you to go exclusive with me."

Taehyung shook his head, laughing as he rubbed his hands up and down Hoseok's sides. "Maybe spontaneity is just our thing, then. No, hyung. I think that was perfect. I'd love to be your boyfriend."

Hoseok's smile brightened up again, and he couldn't resist the urge to lean in for a kiss. Taehyung's lips were soft, and Hoseok knew that if he wasn't careful he was going to fall, and fall hard. Taehyung leaned into it, tightening his grip on Hoseok's night shirt. "Boyfriends it is, then."