Actions

Work Header

Good Dogs Don't Bite

Chapter Text

Woojin decided that getting hit by a bus would be exponentially better than having to go back to work in the morning. He had just gotten off, and he had a glorious, wonderful, nine hours before he had to be back in. It was technically illegal to have him close then open, but his manager didn’t care. He used to work good hours, then management changed and now everything has gone to hell. In the last month, Woojin has lost seven coworkers when there were only ten to begin with when he started working at the diner.

It wasn’t worth it, but he couldn’t quit. Not with how his landlord just increased his rent.

His chest felt tight. He needed to go grocery shopping, but his rent was due in a few days and he barely had enough for that. If he budgeted, and snuck leftovers from the diner, he would be able to get at least one meal a day - and that was a major if, depending on if his stupid, ugly, bad breath manager stopped breathing down his throat for one fucking minute and let him do his damn job-

Woojin froze. He glanced over at the alley he was passing, not sure if he really heard what he thought he heard. It wasn’t unusual to have strays in the area, but nothing would have been… big enough to have made the sound he thought he heard.

He took a breath. He must have imagined it. He was exhausted after all - they made him work a double even though he had worked a double the day before. He shook his head a little to clear his mind before leaving.

Woojin froze again. That wasn’t his imagination. That absolutely wasn’t his imagination. That was a real life whimper, and whatever made it sounded big. Big and in pain.

He knew he should just walk away. He knew he needed to get home, but whatever made that sound…

Woojin closed his eyes, counted to three and turned, walking straight into the alleyway.

“Damnit me, why can’t I mind my own fuckin business?” He whispered, looking around. Thankfully, the streetlight had been fixed so he wasn’t completely blind. “Hello?”

“Go away.” A voice growled, and Woojin thought he was actually going to throw up in fear.

“Jesus fuckin- a person?”

“Get out of here.” The voice growled again.

“Did you make that sound? Are you hurt?”

“I’ll fuckin kill you-” The figure stepped into the light and Woojin was instantly less intimidated. He was shorter than Woojin, with his hood pulled up. He was pale, with large eyes and a wide nose that Woojin wasn’t used to seeing on people where he grew up. His lips were plush but pale, and Woojin could see blood seeping into the side of his grey hoodie. The boy tried to look scary by snarling, but Woojin could see how his lips were trembling.

“You’re hurt,” Woojin took a step forward. The boy growled, something sweeping behind him. Woojin glanced down, and everything made sense. “You’re- you’re a hybrid, aren’t you?”

“Don’t come any closer-” He said, cutting himself off with a wince, his hand went over his side, and Woojin could tell he was using all his energy to stay upright. Woojin noticed how his fingers were filthy, dirt caked under his nails. The scary part was that it looked like there was red mixed in with the mud.

“Judging by the tail, I’d say a canine,” Woojin muttered, taking another step closer. He was aware of hybrids - how could he not be? - but he never owned one. They were always seen as a luxury pet, and that pissed Woojin off more than anything. How could someone own another person like that? They weren’t like cats or dogs. They could speak and write and work. They were humans, with extra features, and yet they were treated like pets, and the idea of owning another person sounded too much like slavery for Woojin’s taste. Not that he could do much. Not many people thought the way he did, apparently. “Where… where do you live? I can take you back, and your family could patch you up?” He hesitated using the word owner.

“If you take me back I’ll kill you,” The boy growled, his eyes flashing in the streetlight. “I’d rather die than see those bastards again.”

“Oh…” It took Woojin a second to realize what he meant, and when he did he wanted to scream. Whatever happened to this boy… his owners were the ones that did it. “Alright, you don’t have to go back. I live nearby. Why don’t you come home and I can clean up your wounds and make some food-”

“L-leave me alone.” He stumbled back, somehow paling more.

“I don’t want to hurt you, I just want to help.”

“I don’t need your fucking help,” He growled. “Humans never want to just help us. They always want something from us.”

“Yeah, well I’m not like them,” Woojin took another step forward. “I’m not gonna-”

“Please leave me a-alone-” He took another step away, but backed into the wall. Woojin saw fear fash through his reflective eyes when he realized he was trapped.

Woojin didn’t know what to do. He was faced with a runaway canine hybrid who was quickly losing blood and was too afraid to let Woojin help him. He flipped through his metal rolodex of useless trivia in hopes of finding something that might actually be useful in this situation.

“I’m real sorry for this.” He said, seeing the fear melt to confusion. He shot his hand out, pinning the boy against the wall by the throat. The boy instantly started thrashing, but Woojin pressed a little tighter - not tight enough to hurt him, but tight enough to prove his dominance. He recalled when his uncle was trying to train his new puppy, and how he would have to pin the dog down when he acted up. According to his uncle, wolves would use their mouths to pin each other by the throat to prove who was in charge. If he was right, hopefully the boy would consider him the alpha and let him help.

True to what his uncle said, the boy instantly stilled, staring up at Woojin with wide eyes. Woojin hesitated, too caught up in how pretty the boy’s eyes were, before quickly pulling his hand away. The boy pulled back again, his hood falling down to show his ears. They were silvery, blending into his blond hair, and pressed tightly against his skull.

Even his tail was tucked between his legs, the tip of it wrapping gently around his ankle.

“What’s your name?” Woojin asked gently. The boy tensed before taking a half step towards Woojin.

“Bangchan.”

“No, not the name your owners gave you.”

“Oh… I’m- Chris. It’s Chris.”

“I’m Woojin,” He smiled softly, holding his hand out. Chris looked down at it as if he was waiting for it to hit him. When it didn’t, he reached out and took it. “Would you like to come back with me Chris?”

Chris didn’t verbally respond, but he nodded. Woojin saw water running down Chris’ cheeks, but he didn’t say anything. He just laced his fingers through the blond’s and tugged him towards the small apartment he called home.



“Shit, sorry.” Woojin winced, even though it wasn’t his side that was sliced open. He cuts weren’t deep, but there were a lot of them and they were bleeding pretty badly.

“It’s alright, I’ve had worse.” Chris said, but Woojin could tell he was just pretending to be brave. Ever since the alleyway, where he had to pin Chris to the wall, the blond had been by his side. There wasn’t a single moment where he wasn’t close enough to touch the brunette.

“What happened?”

“I got into a fight with my owner,” Chan growled deep in his throat as Woojin passed over a particularly deep cut. “He kept… kept calling me ‘it’ and I got sick and tired of it… I knew he would do this but I couldn’t handle it anymore.”

“How did he…?”

“Broken bottle. Normally he just hit me, but this time he was extra angry for some reason. He threw me out in the backyard by my doghouse and left me to lick my wounds. He probably expected me to bleed out or something. Guess he didn’t expect me to be able to dig my way out from under the electric fence.”

“Electric fence?” Woojin was furious. “Fuck that shit. Tilt your head.” He said, grabbing the pair of scissors from the top of the cabinet that he usually used to trim his own hair.

Chris did as he was told and exposed his neck to show the thick black collar. Woojin could see where there was red chafing and even some pale scars, most likely from where Chris fought against the collar and cut into his skin. Woojin hacked at the fabric part of the collar, desperate to get it off the boy.

The second it fell to the floor, Chris started sobbing. Woojin didn’t know what to do, so he just held him as he cried. He was still bleeding, and his hands were filthy. When Woojin was doing a preliminary check of his wounds, he saw Chris’ fingers had been ripped up from the digging, the tips sliced and bleeding.

“You okay now?” Woojin whispered as soon as Chris’ sobbing calmed.

“For the first time in years I feel like I can actually breathe again…” He sniffled, his eyes swollen and red.

“Look Chris,” Woojin didn’t look at the blond, focusing more on bandaging his side. “I’m not going to force you to do anything. You’re free to leave as soon as I patch you up if you want, but you’re also free to stay here. My apartment is kinda crappy, and small, but it’s a safe place. I won’t send you back to your old owners or back to some pound. You can stay here and you’ll be safe.”

“Why are you doing this? What do you want from me?” Chris asked, his voice wavering. Woojin didn’t respond at first. Instead, he gently took one of Chris’ hands and dipped it in a bowl of warm water. He placed the bowl on Chris’ lap and carefully began to rub the dirt away, making sure to hurt Chris the least amount possible. After his first hand was cleaned, he replaced the water and started cleaning his other hand.

“Why am I doing this?” Woojin asked, his voice soft. “Because no one deserves to be treated like a lesser being because of the way they look. As for what do I want from you? I just want you to be okay.”

“Okay?”

“I want you to be safe and happy.”

“But why? You don’t know who I am. You don’t know who I am.”

“You’re right. I don’t know who you are, but I still took the time to save you because I could tell you were hurt and no one should be alone when they’re hurt.” Woojin gently wrapped each of Chris’ fingers with bandages, making sure each one was secure.

“Can I really stay here?” Chris sounded so scared, and it broke Woojin’s heart.

“For as long as I can keep paying the rent,” Woojin chuckled, and Chris smiled the smallest bit. Woojin noticed Chris had dimples, and had the sudden urge to make the hybrid smile more. “I don’t know this complex’s policies on hybrids, but the landlord doesn’t give a shit what we do as long as we pay rent on time. If we get kicked out… well I guess I’ll just have to look for a place that’ll take us both.”

“Us…”

“Yeah, us,” Woojin looked up at Chris, who looked away. “Look man, we don’t know each other yet, but no one deserves to be alone and… honestly I’m tired of being alone too. I’ve been living alone… I don’t have any friends… I don’t do well on my own.”

“So you want me as a pet?” Chris asked, not sounding bitter but resigned.

“No, as a friend.” Woojin laid a hand over Chris’, causing him to look up quickly.

“A friend, huh?” He sounded choked up.

“Yeah, friends.”

“That sounds… nice.” He smiled, showing his dimples again.

“Well, you’re all set,” Woojin stood, his knees cracking loudly. “You hungry? I don’t have much, but I can throw something together.”

“Sure.”

“Cool,” Woojin helped Chris stand. He watched with a small smile as the hybrid adjusted his tail, brushing the fur so it was all going in the same direction. “Here, I’ll get you a change of clothes. We look about the same size.”

“Thank you Woojin,” Chris caught the human’s sleeve. Woojin could feel him shaking gently, his fingers barely holding on because of the bandages. “For everything.”

“That’s what friends do.” Woojin smiled warmly, reaching up and running a hand through the blond’s bangs. Chris leaned into the touch, his tail waving gently between his legs. Woojin smiled wider, scratching the base of his ear a little. Chris closed his eyes, his tail moving a little more.

“Ah, sorry,” Woojin pulled his hand away, his cheeks warming. “I should have asked-”

“Um, it’s alright,” Chris was blushing too, the red on his cheeks more obvious than Woojin’s. “I haven’t been pet like that in a long time… it felt nice.”

“I can… pet you, if you’d want me to?” Woojin offered, and Chris instantly perked up.

“Really?” His ears shot up, swiveling to face Woojin.

“Of course,” He chuckled a little. “Humans like being pet too, so it makes sense that you’d like it.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Chris pouted a little, his cheeks still red.

“You seem like the kind of guy that like skinship is all.” Woojin smiled wider.

“Oh…” Chis said quietly, his eyes widening.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s just… this is the first time I’ve been treated like… like a person in years. It just… catches me off guard a little.”

“Let’s get you changed and get us fed,” Woojin pulled Chris out of the bathroom. “We can talk more later.”

“Okay.” Chris smiled, letting Woojin tug him around. For the first time in years, he felt safe.



“Yeah… I can’t come in today,” Woojin lied into the phone, his voice cracking naturally. He just woke up, so his words were gravely and rough. His manager started screaming, but he couldn’t understand what the man was saying. “I’m sick sir, if I come in I could infect the customers-” More screaming, some cursing. “Wh-what? You can’t- yes sir, I understand… I’ll turn my uniform in as soon as I get healthy again…”

“Woojin…” Chris watched as Woojin hung up the phone. He just wanted a single day off to help the hybrid settle in, and ended up getting fired.

“It’s… it’s alright Chris,” He tried to smile but he couldn’t help his eyes from watering. That job was his only source of income. Sure, he had been meaning to get a new job for a while now, but he was so scared that nowhere else would hire him. Sure, the diner treated him like shit, but at least he was sure to get some sort of check at the end of each week.

Now he had no income, rent was due in a few days and now he had another mouth to feed. His breathing started picking up, and he knew he was started to lose control of himself. His vision started to blur as he cried, dropping his phone on his bed. The bed he and Chris had shared the night before because the blond was too afraid to be left alone.

He suddenly felt a weight on his chest. Not the kind of weight he normally felt when he had a panic attack - a literal weight on his chest, knocking the breath out of him. He blinked a few times to clear his vision and realized that Chris had knocked him down and was laying across him, his face hidden in Woojin’s neck.

“Chris? What are you doing?” He asked. It was a little hard to speak, seeing how there was a fully grown hybrid laying directly on his chest, but it wasn’t like it hurt.

“You were having a panic attack,” He said softly. “I was trained to help stop panic attacks.”

“Wait, were you trained to be a service companion?” Woojin asked, sitting up. Chris slid from his chest into his lap but didn’t try to move. Hybrids were mainly kept as pets, but like normal cats and dogs, they were starting to be trained to detect things like regular service animals can - panic attacks, allergies, seizures.

“Y-yeah, that was my original purpose…” Chris’ ears pressed flat against his skull, his tail tickling Woojin’s bare legs.

“You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” Woojin could hear the hesitation in his voice and wrapped his arms around the other boy’s waist. It was a knee-jerk reaction - he just wanted Chris to be comfortable. He didn’t think twice about how intimate the position could seem. “You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to.”

“I don’t mind,” Chris sniffled, his ears still flat. “It’s not like I’ve told anyone else about any of this… I was trained to be a service dog for a girl that was about my age. I finished my training when I was twelve and went to live with her. She had really bad anxiety and depression, and I was supposed to comfort her through therapy until she was better. She was my best friend for seven years… but I wasn’t good enough. She killed herself when we were nineteen. Her father was… furious. He blamed me for not doing my job well enough. He lost his job, we had to move. His wife had died before I was brought in, which was one of the main reasons she needed me in the first place. He took me with him because he said he spent too much money me to just throw me in a shelter. Said I could make myself useful by doing work around the house, but it was never good enough for him. He would hit me, and curse at me. Starve me if I didn’t do my chores perfectly. Last night… last night was the three year anniversary of her death and he was extra mad and… took it out on me.”

“Oh god Chris… I’m so sorry,” Woojin held him carefully. He didn’t know how the hybrid was able to throw himself over the human with the wounds covering his body. “But you don’t have to worry about any of that ever again. You’re safe here.”

“If I had my papers, I could help you get a job but everything is back at his house…” Chris scowled, resting his head on Woojin’s shoulder.

“It’s alright, you don’t have to do anything. Just focus on healing right now, okay? I’ll figure something out for us.” He smiled down at Chris, who looked up at him with wide, yellow eyes.

“But-”

“No buts,” Woojin gently slid Chris off his lap and onto the bed. “I’m going to change your bandages, make us some lunch then I’m going to see if there’s any jobs open downtown. I’m sure I’ll be able to find something by the end of the day.”

“But what if-”

“You have to promise me you won’t put yourself in danger though,” Woojin knelt between Chris’ legs, placing a large hand on the hybrid’s knee. “We have to take care of each other now, right?”

“Right.” He nodded hesitantly.

“Good, now go into the bathroom,” He said, standing back up again. “I’m going to make you some food.”

“Alright.” Chris stood and went in the direction of the bathroom. It upset Woojin a little how easily he followed orders. That was something else he was going to have to work on with the other boy. He quickly got changed before going to the kitchen and looked in the fridge, his stomach sinking.

He pulled out the last of the fried rice in the tupperware container, he dumped it into a bowl and placed it in the microwave. Putting the container in the sink, Woojin took a deep breath. It was going to be okay. He still had some packets of ramen and some cans of veggies in the pantry. He had some milk and a block of cheese that was starting to mold, so he could probably make some sort of bastardized version of mac n cheese for dinner.

As long as there was enough for Chris, it was okay. Woojin had gone a few days without food before. This wasn’t anything new to him.

He took the bowl and grabbed some chopsticks, going to meet Chris in the bathroom. The blond had already taken his shirt off - the shirt he borrowed from Woojin. He was going to have to get used to wearing slightly baggy clothing because Woojin didn’t have the funds to get him his own wardrobe. The bandage was slightly stained, but wasn’t soaking which was a good sign.

“Sit on the edge of the tub, okay? It should be easier this time, I swear.” He smiled softly as he handed Chris the bowl. The hybrid nodded, taking the bowl and moving to sit straddled on the edge of the tub. Woojin carefully unravelled the bandage around the boy’s torso. The deeper wounds started bleeding again as the gauze was peeled from them, but it was slow and easily cleaned. Chris didn’t blink as the wounds reopened - didn’t make a sound at all - and Woojin would have though he was fine if it weren’t for his ears pressing down and his tail twitching in time with Woojin’s movements.

Woojin replaced the bandages on Chris’ side as the blond boy ate, then the bandages on his fingers once he was done. By the time all the bandages had been changed, Chris’ eyes were drifting shut.

“Why don’t you go take a nap?” Woojin suggested. “I’m going to run out to talk to a few places but I won’t be out too long. I’ll leave my phone number if you need to get a hold of me, alright? Don’t worry about bothering me. Call me if you need anything, okay?”

“Alright.” Chris sat on the bed. Woojin could tell he was hesitating, despite how sleepy he was.

“Go to sleep,” He gently pressed on the hybrid’s shoulder so he’d fall back onto the mattress. “If you wake up before I get home, your free to look around or get something to eat. This is your home now too, so you should be familiar with everything. Not that there’s much here, but I have nothing to hide so you can go wild.”

Chris nodded and smiled, his tail wagging slowly as his eyes slipped shut. Woojin reached forward and ran a hand through the blond’s hair gently before taking a deep breath and grabbing his jacket.

He made sure to lock the door behind him and made his way downtown. Thankfully he could just walk. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best part of town so he had to walk quickly with his head down. The first place he came across was a cafe. After working at the diner, he felt he’d have a good shot there. He slipped in and gave his information to the barista, who said she’d call if they got an opening.

He moved shop by shop, from the hardware store to the shore store to the small candy shop on the corner. A few told him outright that they weren’t hiring, while the others took his contact information. Woojin left his information with almost twelve businesses, and he felt even less confident about getting a job than before.

If he had a tail, it would have been hanging between his legs as he trekked back to his shitty little apartment. Just as he passed a wide alley, he noticed a sign for a music store.

He peered down the alley, seeing another sign halfway down. Taking his chances, he went to check it out.

The bell overhead dinged as he pushed open the door. He was instantly hit by the smell of records, soft music playing overhead. There was no one in the store at all, not even behind the counter. There were valuable records behind a glass case, as well as rows and rows of alphabetized ones. There were racks of CDs and movies and even some cassette tapes next to the counter. The walls were covered in vintage posters, covering the peeling paint.

Woojin walked up to the counter, looking around at everything there was to see - and there was a lot to see. As he looked, he noticed there really wasn’t anyone there.
He glanced down and saw a bell on the counter. He rung it, the ding echoing through the store loudly. There was a moment of silence before the sound of scurrying. A head poked up from behind a curtain on the far wall, a boy looking at Woojin with wide eyes.

“Ah shit! I’ll be right there!” He said, quickly running over. He was shorter than Woojin, with large round eyes and even rounder cheeks. He was wearing a black beanie and a large black hoodie that was easily four sizes too big for him. He looked up at Woojin, bouncing from foot to foot as if standing still wasn’t something he agreed with. “What can I help you with?”

“Ah, I was wondering if there was a job opening?” Woojin said with as friendly of a smile he could muster up. The boy blinked at him, tilting his head before quickly spinning around and shouting.

“BINNIE HYUNG! COME HERE!” He screamed back to the curtain. As he moved, Woojin noticed something moving under his hoodie. Something that seemed almost… tail like.

“Hey, are you… a hybrid?” He asked innocently, wondering what sort of hybrid the boy could be. Hybrids weren’t allowed to work by law, and if any hybrid tried to work would be detained. He didn’t mean for the boy to tense and spin around, and he most certainly didn’t mean for the boy to look at him with absolute horror in his large eyes.

“H-hyung! HYUNG!” He screamed again, his voice shaking. A figure shot out from behind the curtain, moving to stand between the boy and Woojin.

“Who are you? What do you want?” he growled, his inky black bangs hanging in his eyes.

“He knows what I am-” The boy whimpered, hiding behind the new boy. His eyes widened before hardening again.

“You’re gonna walk out of here, and you’re never going to breathe a word of this to anyone. Or else.” He said, his voice low. Woojin felt goosebumps on his arms at the smaller boy’s tone, but there was something that peaked his curiosity.

“My name is Kim Woojin,” He said carefully. “I just came in to see if you were hiring.”

“We don’t need help. Get out.”

“Alright, but just for the record I don’t have anything against hybrids,” Woojin held his hands up in surrender. Both boys tensed but stared at him with guarded eyes. “I actually just got a roommate who's a hybrid.”

“Your roommate?” The boy with the black hair relaxed a little, his shoulder loosening but his face still cold.

“Yeah, his name is Chris. He was hurt but I patched him up. I’m actually looking for a new job because I need to be able to get food and clothing and stuff.”

“He’s your roommate?” He asked again, and Woojin didn’t know why.

“Quite literally, since my apartment only has one bedroom.” He chuckled lightly. The boys exchanged a look before turning back to Woojin.

“Not your pet?”

“Absolutely not,” Woojin said firmly, frowning hard. “God, I could never own a person like that are you kidding me?”

The boys relaxed a little more, glancing at each other again. It was as if they were having a silent conversation, Woojin completely excluded from the entire thing.

“I’m Seo Changbin,” The boy with the black hair said, his face still blank. “This is Han Jisung. If you’re looking for a job, this is probably your best chance. You and Chris both, if you’re interested.”

“What? Really?”

“He’d have to hide his ears like Sunggie does, but there’s no reason hybrids shouldn’t be able to work like we do, right?”

“You’re right,” He felt a little light headed. “I- thank you… you have no idea how much you just saved my ass oh my god-”

“We open at nine in the morning and close around seven most nights. Right now it’s just me and Sunggie, but with two more people the hours will be less obnoxious. Come in for opening tomorrow and we can work through a schedule for the two of you.”

“Thank you so much,” Woojin bowed deeply, unable to keep the grin from his face. “Thank you!”

“Yeah, yeah,” Changbin waved off the thanks, his ears burning red. “Don’t thank me yet. It’s going to be tortue working with this one.”

“Hey! I’m a fuckin gem!” Jisung squeaked.

“Language!” Changbin scolded, but Jisung was already bouncing to a shelf to check on something.

“Thank you again, Changbin-ssi.”

“I said no more thank yous,” Changbin frowned, but Woojin was starting to realize his frowns weren’t something to be intimidated by. “Just be here by nine tomorrow.”

Woojin nodded and bowed again before rushing home. He couldn’t wait for Chris to hear the good news.

Chapter Text

“CHRIS!” Woojin threw the door open, making the other boy jump a foot in the air. He slammed the door and rushed over to him, his face bright. “You’ll never guess what happened! Oh my god!”

“Jesus fuck-” Chris was crouching on the floor by the couch, his ears pressed tight agaisnt his heat and his tail puffed up.

“Ah, sorry,” Woojin helped his new roommate back to his feet. “Did I scare you?”

“Yeah, a little bit!” Chris huffed, placing a hand over his chest. “Why did you come back screaming?”

“Oh yeah!” Woojin pulled Chris to sit on the couch with him, instantly running his fingers through Chris’ hair. There was something comforting about the way the hybrid boy leaned into his side. “I found us a job.”

“Us?” Chris froze, but Woojin’s nails kept gently scratching at the base of his ears.

“I found a music shop and they offered us both a job,” He couldn't stop smiling. “He said you’d have to hide your ears and stuff, but you’d be working with another hybrid.”

“I’ve never worked before…” Chris whispered, his tail starting to wag gently.

“He wants up to come in tomorrow morning to train I guess… I’m just- I got a job! I won’t get evicted… We can stay! Maybe we can even find a better place!”

“What are they like?”

“What?”

“The people at this shop?”

“Hm, I didn’t really talk all that much with them, but they seem cool. Changbin is the owner, and he’s tiny but kinda scary? I think you’ll like him because he almost beat the shit out of me when I realized Jisung was a hybrid cuz he thought I was gonna go to the police or something. And Jisung is really cute! You’re gonna like him too. He has these huge eyes and the roundest cheeks I’ve ever seen.”

“Sounds cute…” Chris said, his eyes wide. Woojin smiled at him, wondering how many sides there were to the boy in his arms. If he hadn’t seen Chris baring his canines and growling in the alley the night before, he never would have believed the blond could possibly be anything but soft.

“I should find something that covers your ears,” Woojin mumbled, brushing his fingers along the back side of Chris’ ears. “Jisung was wearing a beanie and a large hoodie, but I think yours are larger than his.”

“Hmmm…” Chris closed his eyes, letting Woojin play with his bangs.

“I do have a large hoodie that might cover everything if you keep the hood up,” Woojin said, thinking hard about what’s in his closet. “I do have some beanies, but they might not work. I have a baseball cap, but that might squish your ears too much. I don’t know how that would work- Chris?”

He looked down and saw the hybrid fast asleep on his lap, his tail still twitching slightly as he breathed deeply. Woojin sighed but smiled. He’d have to wake the boy up so he could go make dinner, and he was worried if Chris slept too long he have trouble sleeping that night.

“Look at me, fussing like he’s my kid,” He said to himself, softly playing with Chris’ hair still. “When was the last time I was close with someone? Maybe meeting you was good for me… And now I’m talking to myself… alright time to make dinner. Come on Chris, wake up.” He said a little louder, shifting his legs until the hybrid’s eyes fluttered open.

“Hmm you made me fall asleep.” He muttered, rubbing a hand down his face.

“My bad?”

“I haven’t fallen asleep around someone in years…” Chris trailed off, standing and moving away from Woojin.

“What do you mean?”

“He’d get mad at me if he caught me sleeping,” Chris whispered, his ears dropping. Woojin felt his stomach drop as well. “Said I was being lazy. Had to train myself to only fall asleep when I knew I was safe I guess.”

“Well, you’re safe here,” Woojin noticed how the wolf froze. “I’m not going to hurt you. You can sleep whenever you want and eat whatever you want. This is your home now too.”

“Might take a little while to get used to that.”

“That’s alright,” Woojin smiled and stood, cracking his back loudly. “Take all the time you need. There’s no rush.”

“You won’t get-”

“Get what?”

“Frustrated with me?” Chris refused to look him in the eye.

“Of course not,” Woojin took Chris’ hand. “Look, we both have… scars and things that make us feel like we’re broken, but we aren’t. Did you judge me for having a panic attack?”

“Of course not.” Chris scoffed, and Woojin gave him a pointed look.

“Exactly. We both have things that make us… hesitant and scared, but we’re going to be okay, right?”

“Right…”

“Now, I don’t think we have any food left,” Woojin smiled sheepishly. “Do you wanna come with me to the store to get some dinner? We can’t get anything fancy but now that we have a job lined up, we can splurge on the good stuff soon.”

“Am I allowed to go with you?”

“What?”

“I was only allowed to leave the house if I was on a leash.” Chris sneered, his ears pressing back again. Woojin felt a spike of rage go through him.

“Fuck that,” He said, standing and going to his small bedroom. “You’re never gonna have to be put on a leash again.”

“What are you doing?”

“Here, put this on,” Woojin threw the hoodie at Chris, who caught it with wide eyes. He hesitated for a moment before tugging it on over his head, his ears getting caught on the hood. Woojin went over and fixed the hood, tucking his ears gently into it so they were completely hidden. He reached behind Chris and took his tail, wrapping it around his waist and pulling he hoodie down. “How does that feel?”

“Not awful,” Chris moved from side to side with a small frown. “Not great but not bad.”

“It’ll probably take a little while to get used to it, but this way you can go into public and no one will say anything.”

“What about my eyes?”

“Shit..” Woojin bit his lip, thinking. “I have facemasks, but your eyes… maybe you could wear sunglasses, but that might look a little suspicious. When we get some money in I can get you contacts?”

“That could probably work.”

“It’s a shame though,” Woojin frowned with a sigh. “Your eyes are beautiful. Having to hide them should be a crime.”

“I-” Chris flushed, his pale skin lighting up red. He pulled the chords on the hoodie and the fabric scrunched to cover his face.

“Come on, let’s get some food.” Woojin laughed, not expecting Chris’ reaction. Chris nodded, still hiding his face in the scrunched hoodie.



“Wow, I haven’t thought of him in years.” Chris grinned, as he picked up an old record.

“You like that kind of music?” Woojin was a little shocked. Chris, who preferred to dress in dark colors and took a liking to the jewelry Woojin used to wear when he was in high school - the chains and leather and spikes - holding an Elton John record wasn’t the first thing Woojin would have guessed he would see.

“Well, Sonnie liked it, so we listened to a lot of his music.” He said, putting the album back carefully.

“Sonnie?”

“The girl I was a service companion for.” Chris smiled, but it was sad.

“Ah…” Woojin trailed off, not knowing what to say.

“There you two are,” Changbin came out from the back room, dressed head to toe in all black again. This time, it was black skinny jeans, and a black short-sleeved button up that had little cats on it. He was wearing round glasses and his hair was falling in his face. If he wasn’t wearing all black, he might have looked almost cuddly. “Jisung’s in the back now sorting through some boxes, but I’ll call him out in a second. We have to go through hours, responsibilities and payment, and then answer any questions you might have,”

“Sounds good.” Woojin said with a warm smile.

“Something smells weird.” Chris said, pulling his face mask down and sniffed the air. Just then, Jisung came rushing out of the back with a record in his hands.

“Hyung! Check this out!” He screeched happily, his eyes shining as he shoved the album in Changbin’s hands.

“Oh shit, this is worth a lot,” Changbin’s eyes widened. “And this was in the donation box?”

“No, this was from that grab box we bought from that storage unit,” Jisung was vibrating in excitement. “The rest of it is junk but this definitely makes up for it!”

“Good job Sungie,” Changbin smiled softly and patted the top of Jisung’s head, carefully not to shift the boy’s beanie out of place. “I’m guessing this is Chris?” he asked, glancing at the boy in the oversized hoodie.

“It’s nice to meet you.” Chris held his hand out and Changbin shook it, an unreadable look on his face.

“You keep your claws trimmed.” Changbin remarked casually, making Chris snatch his hand back.

“I- uh…”

“Ah shit, I thought something smelled weird,” Jisung hid behind Changbin, staring at Chris with large brown eyes. “You’re a dog, aren’t you? I don’t like dogs that much.”

“Technically I’m a wolf,” Chris huffed, looking away and pouting. “I’m not a dog.”

“Wolf, dog… same thing.”

“Not the same thing!” Chris snapped, a growl growing in his chest as Jisung cowered back.

“See! All the same,” He pulled his beanie down to cover his face. “Think they’re all tough shit cuz they got claws and fangs and shit…”

“Hey-”

“Chris, stop,” Woojin placed a hand on Chris’ arm and the other boy instantly relaxed. He could see Chris’ ears moving under his hood, and made a note to talk about his friend about that. “We aren’t here to pick a fight. We’re just a little on edge because we’ve both gone through a lot of changes in our lives recently.”

“Don’t mind Jisung,” Changbin said, waving Woojin’s apology off. “Rodents tend to dislike canines and felines. He’ll be hanging off you by the end of the day.”

“Rodent?” Chris asked, his golden eyes wide with curiosity.

“I’m a squirrel, asshole!” Jisung pouted, his cheek puffing up with his pout. Chris stepped forward and poked Jisung’s cheek gently.

“I’ve never met a squirrel hybrid before,” Chris commented, pulling his hand away before gently poking his cheek again. “I was kept with other canines, and wasn’t allowed to play with the others…”

“Were you in a shelter or something?” Jisung asked, any anger from before completely erased from his face as he looked up at Chris with curiosity.

“Jisung-” Changbin started to scold him when Chris laughed slightly.

“It’s alright, I don’t mind the questions,” He smiled, his lips together. Woojin noticed how he didn’t show his canines when he was in public. “Um, I grew up in a breeder nursery. I’m a pure blood, and they trained me to be a service companion when I turned eight.”

“Oh shit… that’s intense.” Jisung blinked.

“What about you? The nursery only had canines, and I’ve only seen other hybrids in passing. This is actually the first time I’ve talked to another hybrid.” Chris’ cheeks warmed slightly.

“I came from a pretty normal family I guess,” Jisung shrugged. “My mom was a squirrel hybrid and I never met my dad.”

“Was?”

“She was killed when I was ten,” Jisung’s face dropped. “I was taken away and thrown in a shelter for a few years. Surprisingly, no one wants a rodent hybrid with an undiagnosed attention problem. Shocking, I know.”

“So how did you meet Changbin?”

“My parents brought me to the shelter to find a companion a few years ago,” Changbin grimaced a little. “They thought I had trouble making friends and figured a hybrid that had no choice but to be my friend what was I needed to become more sociable. Turns out, I just didn’t want to talk to any of their shitty socialite friend’s kids.”

“So he’s your owner?” Chris asked, his head tilting to the side a little.

“He’s my friend,” Changbin snapped. “No one owns him.”

“Oh- sorry…” Chris looked away, wringing the sleeves of his sweatshirt.

“No, shit,” The shorter boy rubbed the back of his head. “It’s not your fault. You’ve been hurt by this whole industry more than most of us. I just… hate that term so fucking much. No one should own another person.”

“Hyung, it’s alright,” Jisung whispered and wriggled his way into Changbin’s arms, making the older boy hug him. “We’re okay.”

“Cute…” Chris whispered so only Woojin could hear him. The taller boy smiled and took a step closer to the wolf hybrid.

“Anyway, I can show you how to work the register and the catalogue computer, the Sungie can show you what he does with the physical records - alphabetizing and shit - then how to restore records if they’re scratched and stuff. We normally close the shop between noon and one-ish for lunch. After today we can work on who works when so all four of us are working from opening to closing but today we’ll all be here the whole time I guess.”

“Sounds good boss.” Woojin grinned, his eyes turning up more when Changbin’s cheeks flushed at the name.

“Whatever, let’s get to work.” He huffed. Jisung squealed and clung to Bin’s arm, bouncing in excitement.



“Um, hello?” The door opened and the bell overhead dinged. Woojin looked up from the pile of CDs he was sorting through to see a smallish boy with fluffy blonde hair, dark freckles and bright blue eyes.

“Ah hello,” Woojin smiled and put the case he was holding down. Changbin, Chris and Jisung went to pick up lunch, leaving Woojin to mind the store while they were out. “Did you need help with anything?”

“Um, yeah actually,” The boy smiled. “I’m looking for a cd but it’s kinda old so it’s been hard to find.”

“What’s the name of it? I can check our records, and if we don’t have it we can keep an eye out for if it comes in.” Woojin walked over to the boy, who showed him a picture on his phone. Woojin noticed the boy’s hands were small, his nails perfectly filed.

“I... used to have it when I was a kid but it got thrown out or lost or whatever at some point and I’ve been feeling really nostalgic recently.”

“Hm… it doesn’t look like we have it, but if you write down your name and number we can give you a call if we ever come across it.”

“Really? You’d do that?” The boy looked up at Woojin with wide eyes and Woojin felt warmth shoot through his chest. The boy really was adorable, with bright eyes and pretty freckles and dainty earrings dangling from dainty ears.

“Yeah, it’s no problem,” Woojin smiled at how happily surprised the boy looked. “I’ll let the others know too, so if they see it when they’re out they can grab it for you.”

“Thank you so much!” The boy bowed slightly, his cheeks pink. “I’m Felix, by the way. It really means a lot that you’d help me.”

“Woojin,” He held his hand out for Felix to shake. “If you ever have any other albums you’re looking for, we’d be happy to help you with those too.”

“Ah, I should be heading out, but thank you again!”

“Hopefully you’ll be hearing from us soon,” Woojin grinned. “Have a good rest of your day Felix.”

Felix grinned and waved before slipping out of the store. Before the overhead bell finished it’s ring, Woojin was tucking Felix’s information next to the computer and going back to his task. He was sorting through which cds were good for sale, which ones needed to be cleaned and which ones were too scratched up to be played.

Changbin told him to put the lattermost ones aside. Something about an art piece he wants to finish and hang from the ceiling of the shop eventually.

Before long, the door was opening again and the missing workers came bustling back in, bags in hand.

“Any customers?” Changbin asked, placing the food on the counter.

“A boy named Felix came in asking for a cd but we didn’t have it,” Woojin said, pulling out the orders. “I took his information and told him we’d keep an eye out.”

“Good job hyung,” Changbin grinned. “You’re a natural at this.”

“Fuck yeah! They gave us an extra eggroll!” Jisung grinned, his eyes sparkling.

“I’m gonna switch the sign,” Changbin went to the front door and flipped it from open to close. “We can take a little longer for lunch today. I’m sure Jisung’s going to want to get to know you guys.”



“I’m exhausted…” Chris yawned as they climbed the steps to Woojin’s apartment.

“Same, but in a good way.” Woojin couldn’t stop smiling. Working a single day at the record shop with Bin and Jisung was more rewarding than the entire time he worked at the diner. Changbin gave them each a cash payment, saying he owed them for the time they put in for training. Woojin tried to protest, but Changbin made him promise they’d eat well when they got home.

“I don’t even wanna eat,” Chris said, his pout evident in his words. “I just wanna go to bed…”

“I know, but I can order us takeout while you shower.” Woojin offered. Chris considered the offer for a moment, but his stomach growling loudly made the decision for him.

“Sounds good- oh shit, sorry,” Chris said, stumbling back. He had walked into someone walking in the opposite direction of them. The boy he bumped into looked up from under his hood and growled, his eyes catching the light and reflecting back green. Chris blinked, but before he could say anything the nameless boy was gone, pushing through the door towards the stairwell. “Who was that?”

“Huh?” Woojin looked back, having gone a few steps ahead of Chris. “I think that was Lee Minho. He lives a few apartments down from us. He’s real quiet. I don’t think we’ve ever spoken, but I’ve seen his mail cuz his mailbox is near mine.”

“Minho…”

“Why?”

“He’s a hybrid.” Chris whispered, causing Woojin to freeze.

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely.”

“Hmm…” Woojin didn’t comment as he unlocked the front door. There was more to Minho than Woojin ever expected. “Come on, go wash up. Binnie wanted us back around 11 and you look like you’re about to pass out.”

Woojin placed an order and met Chris in the bathroom. The hybrid was having some trouble taking off the bandaging, and Woojin smiled a little at the frustrated pout on his face. Chris looked over, saw him standing in the doorway and flushed.

“Could you… help me?” He asked awkwardly.

“Of course,” Woojin smiled and undid the wrappings. “Maybe a bath would be better than a shower. It might hurt if the water hits your side too hard.”

“A shower is fine,” Chris stood with just his pants on, glancing at the wounds in the mirror. They were already closing up, healing faster than Woojin would have been able to. Perks of being a hybrid, Woojin guessed. “They barely hurt anymore.”

“Even if they don’t hurt, you should still be careful,” Woojin let his fingers trail gently against Chris’ skin, not close enough to the wounds to cause the blond any pain. “I’ll wrap it back up when you get out.”

“You don’t have to,” Chris said, the back of his neck warming. “You’ve already helped me so much.. I feel kinda bad cuz I haven’t done anything in return-”

“Chris, you don’t have to feel guilty and you don’t have to do anything in return,” Woojin frowned as he pulled out a clean towel for the hybrid to use. “You’re my friend, and I help my friends. That’s what friends are for. My friendship isn’t conditional. It’s not going to go away if you don’t do things in return- oh!”

Woojin was cut off by Chris burying his nose in the taller boy’s neck, their chests flush with one another. His arms instinctively came around Chris’ waist as the blond hid his face. His tail moved gently back and forth, the soft fur brushing against Woojin’s leg.

Neither spoke for a while, instead opting to enjoy the other’s warmth in silence. It wasn’t until there was a knock on the door that Woojin finally pulled away.

“That’s probably the food,” He said, his whole face on fire. “Um, I’ll go grab that while you shower. We can eat when you’re done.”

“Sounds good.” Chris’ face was also bright red, which made Woojin feel a little better about being flustered himself. He left the bathroom to pay the delivery guy and started setting the table. By the time he was done, Chris was walking out. He was wearing a pair of Woojin’s sleep pants, the waistband tugged down a little so his tail could lay over top it. Woojin tried not to notice how the pants seemed to showcase Chris’ muscles - especially the ones on his stomach and the faint trail of blond hair under his belly button - as he called the blond over.

Without another word, he sat Chris down and started drying his hair for him, the way Woojin’s mom used to when he was a child. He was careful around Chris’ ears, but by the way the hybrid’s eyes were closed and how he was leaning into the touch, Woojin assumed his friend was enjoying it.

“So, dinner?” He asked with a small smile once Chris’ hair was properly dried.

“Dinner.” Chris laughed, his dimples showing proudly. Woojin was thankful his skin tone hid his blush most of the time.

Chapter Text

“Wow, this place is so cute!” A voice called out as the bell over the door rang loudly. Woojin looked up from the stack of records he was putting into place and smiled, only to feel his face freeze. “Almost as cute as you Innie.”

“Welcome, is there anything I can help you with today?” Woojin asked the two boys that walked in. They were young - Jisung’s age if not younger - one human and one hybrid. The human had soft brown hair and round cheeks, while the hybrid had large tan ears and sharp cheekbones. Both were dressed well, Woojin could tell they were wearing designer clothing from across the shop.

“Ah, we just saw the sign and got curious,” The human said with a smile. He had the hybrid’s leash around his wrist, and Woojin’s stomach clenched at the sight. “Do you sell trot music here?”

“Um, yeah,” Woojin forced the smile to stay on his face. “Over here we have records, cds and a small selection of cassettes.”

“See Innie, I told you we’d find some.” The boy said excitedly.

“Will your parents be okay with this?” The hybrid - Innie, Woojin assumed - said nervously, his ears twitching.

“Who cares,” The boy scoffed, looking through the cds. “They’re never home anyway. Besides, if you like it I wanna like it too.”

“Minnie…” The hybrid’s eyes started to shine just as Jisung crashed through the back curtain - something Woojin realised was a daily occurrence. The squirrel hybrid didn’t know how to walk calmly anywhere.

“HYUNG! CHRIS HYUNG’S NEVER SEEN THE OCEAN WE GOTTA GO ON AN ADVENTURE HE CAN’T NOT SEE THE OCEAN-” He only stopped yelling when he slammed into Woojin, the only thing keeping him from falling on his ass was Woojin’s quick reflexes. The elder wrapped his arms around the smaller boy, catching him just before he sprawled across the worn carpet.

“Wow… you’re like me.” Innie said, already large eyes widening even more.

“I think you’re mistaken,” Woojin smiled gently, trying to casually tuck Jisung behind his back. He and Chris had only been working at the record shop for about two weeks, and he would absolutely fight for Jisung and Changbin already. “Jisungie, why don’t you go check to see if those new displays were delivered-”

“What kind of hybrid are you? I’m a fennec fox but most of the time people think I’m some sort of exotic cat.” Inni said, bouncing a little. Jisung just stared at him with large, frightened eyes.

“Jeongin, you’re not supposed to call others out remember?” The boy said in a loud whisper. Jeongin’s ears instantly fell flat against his hair.

“I’m sorry hyung, I just got excited.”

“I know, but it’s dangerous to out hybrids,” The boy frowned. “Especially in places like this.”

“Sorry hyung,” Jeongin hunched his shoulders a little and looked up at Jisung. “I’m sorry for being so loud… I just got excited.”

“It’s alright…” Jisung mumbled, his cheeks pinkening. “Just be careful. People aren’t always as nice as the ones here.”

“Are there other workers?”

“There’s four of us working here,” Woojin answered, not sure how much information he should give out. “The other two are in the back. The shop belongs to Binnie - he bought it with his own money and everything.”

“Wow…” Jeongin’s eyes were wide.

“That’s pretty impressive,” The boy said with a raise of his eye brow. “What’s-”

“Jisung, I swear you run away as soon as there’s real work to be done-” Changbin came out of the back, just to freeze. The boy also froze, staring at Changbin with wide eyes.

“What’s going on?” Chris came out as well, looking confused at the sudden tension in the shop.

“Changbin hyung, I didn’t… it’s been a while.” The boy said, looking down.

“It’s almost like I purposely left or something,” Changbin looked at the boy, face blank. It scared Woojin a little, how intimidating the smaller boy was when he wasn’t laughing and smiling. “Did mother send you to try and bring me back or-”

“No!” He said, head shooting up. “I didn’t even know this was your shop! I just- Innie was curious and-”

“You guys know each other?” Jisung asked, peeking around Woojin’s back.

“Seungmin is my mother’s friend’s kid,” Changbin scoffed a little, shoving his hands in his pockets. “She wanted us to become friends so we’d fuck off and play when they had their stupid charity dinners.”

“Hyung was never one to like things like that…” Seungmin laughed awkwardly.

“You still friends with Jinnie?” Changbin asked, trying to sound bored but Woojin could hear the strain behind his words.

“Um, yeah,” Seungmin looked down again. “Haven’t seen him since he went off to school though. It’s hard to keep in contact.”

“Ah, so they finally convinced him to go.”

“More like forced him,” Seungmin scowled. “Threatened to cut him off completely if he didn’t go. All they care about is that their son looks good. They don’t- don’t care that Hyunjin fuckin hates them.”

“Join the club,” Changbin shrugged, his eyes glassy. “I had the same ultimatum and look at me.”

“Is that why you disappeared?”

“They told me to shape up or get out,” Changbin took his hands from his pocket and put them on the back of his head, stretching his back. “I took what I could and bounced. Sold most of it and bought this place. Sungie and I live in the apartment above and even though we don’t get a whole lot of customers, it’s enough to survive. Plus I managed to withdraw like, a fuck ton of cash in the months before I was disowned. I knew it was coming and wanted to be prepared, you know?”

“I wondered why everyone treats your name like some sort of profanity,” Seungmin bit his lip. Jeongin reached over and placed a hand on his arm. “I thought maybe you… ran away, like you always talked about doing.”

“I mean, I basically did,” Changbin shrugged again. Woojin took note that the younger boy shrugged a lot when he was upset, just like Jisung chewed on the strings of his hoodies and Chris scratched at his arm. “I knew if I waited for them to officially kick me out they’d try to take back the shit I was packing so I left after they went to bed, two days before my deadline.”

“Deadline?” Chris asked, tilting his head.

“I had until that Friday to either shape up and become a proper son, or they would kick my ass to the curb with nothing. So Wednesday night I rented a uhaul truck, packed my shit in it and drove away. Mother always takes sleeping pills so she was dead to the world by eight, and father wasn’t even home. Only the staff knew, and they all supported me running away. They saw how my parents treated me. They patched me up when my dad’s temper got out of hand and fed me when I was sent to my room without dinner.” Changbin’s voice had a bitter edge to is, boarding on sarcastic, but everyone could hear the pain behind them.

“Don’t worry hyung,” Seungmin said quietly. “We won’t tell anyone you’re here. Honestly, I’m a little jealous…”

“Jealous?” Changbin let out a bark of laughter. “Jealous of what?”

“I wish I could just… run away too, but I’m not brave enough,” Seungmin smiled, but it was such a sad smile that it broke Woojin’s heart. “I… I love my parents. I hate their lifestyle, and the expectations they have for me… but I love them. I could never leave, even if I wanted to. That’s why I treasure times like this, because for a few hours I can feel like a normal teenager.”

“I mean, a normal teenager doesn’t have an exotic hybrid companion but go off.” Changbin grinned, causing Seungmin to laugh a little.

“Jeongin’s my best friend, I don’t go anywhere without him,” Seungmin said, grinning at the fox hybrid. “Even if it pisses mother off. Speaking of hybrids, I thought you said you’d never get one hyung.”

“I… yes, I got Jisung from a shelter, but he’s not my hybrid,” Changbin said, his smile dropping quickly. “He’s his own person. He can do what he wants. We’re friends.”

“I offered Innie the chance to hide his ears and walk around normally, but he said he liked being true to who he was.” Seungmin said with a small shake of his head.

“It’s not that bad, really,” Jeongin said with a bright smile. His tail swished from side to side as he looked from his friend to Woojin and the others. “The leash is actually pretty helpful because Minnie hyung gets distracted a lot and it’s a good way of keeping track of him.”

“So technically he’s the one wearing the leash?” Woojin asked with a chuckle.

“Pretty much,” Jeongin laughed. “And I kinda like it when people call me cute and ask if they can pet my head, even if Minnie hyung gets jealous.”

“I don’t get jealous!” Seungmin pouted, his ears warming. “I just… you’re my best friend. I don’t like it when strangers touch you.”

“Jealous~” Jeongin sang, poking Seungmin’s cheek. The human swatted his hand away but the blush on his cheeks spoke volumes.

“Look, I know we were never that close before,” Changbin said, his face neutral but his red ears gave away his real feelings. “But like, if you ever want to get away from your parents, you're free to come here. We don’t have a spare room, but we have a pullout couch that’s actually kinda comfy, and you could help out around the shop if you wanted-”

Seungmin cut him off by tackling Changbin with a hug. Jeongin jumped towards the two to keep from being choked but smiled nonetheless.

“Thank you hyung,” Seungmin said, trying not to sob into the older boy’s shoulder. “I just- fuck thank you so much… It’s been forever since I had somewhere to go…”

“Like I said to Woojin hyung,” Changbin said, hugging the boy back. “No thank yous. Just prove I didn’t make a mistake.”

“Of course!” Seungmin stood upright and wiped his face with the back of his hand. He grinned, despite how red his eyes were.

“Now, do you have to be home soon or would you wanna stay a little longer?” Changbin asked. “We just got a new box of donations that needs sorting, if you wanna help Sungie with that.”

“Um, yeah! We’d love too!” Seungmin grinned wide.

“Unfortunately, Jeongin will have to stay in the back,” Changbin said with a slight frown. The fox hybrid deflated a little. “Not anything against you, but even though you’re not a worker here there’s still a chance you’d get caught and taken. Chris hyung and Sungie stay hidden so they blend in more, but you…”

“Don’t exactly blend in much,” Jeongin finished with a laugh. He gestured to his expensive clothing and large ears. “Shocking, I know, that I don’t blend in with what I look like.”
Woojin couldn’t help it. He let out a loud snort, covering his mouth instantly. Jeongin looked at him in surprise before laughing along.

“Come on,” Changbin walked towards the back curtain. “Lemme show you what to do.”



“You think we should start looking for another apartment?” Woojin asked as he and Chris climbed the stairs to their current one.

“You think we can?” Chris jumped a little as a cockroach scurried across the step he was about to put his foot on.

“I mean, with our shared income from Changbin, we could definitely find a place at least a little better than this one,” Woojin grimaced as his hand accidentally brushed the perpetually slimy handrail. “I started renting here because it was the cheapest in the city, and because the contract is per month so I wouldn’t get tied down with an actual lease.”

“Are they allowed to do that?”

“Honestly? I don’t know but it’s been helpful for me,” Woojin shrugged. “Plus that means we can move out whenever we want. No waiting for our contract to be up or paying a fee or whatever.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty helpful.” Chris said, itching the top of his head through the hood. Woojin noticed he did that more the longer his ears were covered. He knew Chris was dying to be back in the privacy of their apartment so he could strip and be comfortable again. His nose twitched and his eyes zeroed in on something down the hall that Woojin couldn’t see.

“Everything alright?”

“Someone’s down there,” Chris said, his ears moving under his hood. “I don’t think they’re bleeding but they aren’t moving.”

“What?” Woojin instantly walked faster, towards whoever was at the end of their hallway. As he neared the end, he saw a figure slumped against a door. The figure was completely covered, expect his hand which still had his keys in it, as if he passed out trying to open the door.

“It’s the guy from before,” Chris said, pulling his facemask down. “Minho, the hybrid.”

“Fuck, he’s passed out hard,” Woojin said, pulling Minho up. Woojin almost threw the other boy, not expecting him to be so light. The other boy’s hood fell back, exposing limp ears. Woojin could feel a tail wound around his waist under his jacket, but what concerned him the most was the smell of alcohol oozing from Minho’s small body. “Get the door. At least he can wake up somewhere that isn’t the fuckin hallway.”

Chris nodded and grabbed the keys as Woojin slung Minho over his shoulder. The cat hybrid stirred but didn’t wake up as Woojin placed him down carefully on the ratty couch. Chris relocked the front door and put Minho’s keys on the table in front of him.

“We should probably take this jacket off.” Woojin said, not sure where to even start. It wasn’t like he had ever spoken to Minho. The most interaction they’ve ever had was making eye contact in the hall before slipping into their own apartments. He had no idea Minho was even a hybrid until Chris said something.

He unzipped the jacket and tugged it off Minho’s shoulders. The cat tail unwound from around his waist and laid still along Minho’s thigh. Woojin felt his breath catch at how skinny the boy on his couch was. He thought Chris was thin when he first found the other boy in the alley, but Minho was a whole different level. He was wearing a large t-shirt, which hung off his frame in a way that made it painfully clear the cat hybrid was dangerously underweight. No wonder he was so fucked up from drinking.

“Is he okay?” Chris asked, staring at Minho from the kitchen. His ears were perked and pointed forward, and his pupils were dilated.

“He’s just really drunk,” Woojin sighed. “And really underweight… I’ll make some food and set it on the table with some water and painkillers… I have no idea when he’ll actually wake up, but I can’t think of anything else to do.”

Chris nodded and went to shower as Woojin made a sandwich. They didn’t have a whole lot in their fridge, but a sandwich was something he could spare. He wrapped it up and grabbed two water bottles along with the bottle of advil, putting all the objects on the table next to Minho’s keys where the other boy would instantly see them. As a final thought, he put a bowl on the floor next to Minho’s head and tilted him so he was on his side. Woojin had dealt with too many black out drunks to leave Minho laying on his back. He quickly draped a blanket over Minho’s shoulders, making sure his feet were tucked in before turning away.

“Everything settled?” Chris asked as Woojin went into the bedroom. The wolf hybrid never showered long after work - the long showers were saved for his days off where he could soak foud hours - so he was already dressed and drying his hair.

“For now,” Woojin sighed. “Left him some advil, water and food, and put a bowl out in case he gets sick. Are you sure you don’t want me to cut some tail holes?”

“Huh?” Chris blinked at the sudden change of subject, twisting to look at how his tail was propped up by the waistband of the sleep pants he was wearing. “Nah, it’s fine. I don’t want to ruin your clothes. Besides, I don’t mind wearing things a little lower. It’s kinda comfy.”

“R-right,” Woojin blushed, quickly turning his back to his friend. In the almost two weeks they’ve been living together - and sharing a bed - Woojin couldn’t help but admire Chris. The blond was chiseled and muscular, but even better, he was starting to gain a little weight in his face. Chris was also starting to smile more, and Woojin couldn’t stop the back of his neck from heating up whenever Chris shone his dimpled grin in his direction. He knew he shouldn’t let his chest flutter when the blond woke up, shirtless with puffy eyes and puffier hair, but at the same time where was the harm it in? Where was the harm in admiring how handsome Chris was? The harm in letting his ears warm when Chris giggled? “But uh, I don’t mind. I own more sweatpants than I do jeans, and if it would be more comfortable to have a hole I don’t mind. You basically own half my wardrobe anyway.”

“Sorry about that,” Chris’ ears dropped. “I promise I’ll get my own clothes soon-”

“No! I mean, I really don’t mind,” Woojin mentally smacked himself. “I think you look nice in my clothes- shit-” He flushed, actually smacking himself as he turned away again. Chris stared at Woojin’s bare back as the taller boy slipped on a shirt with wide eyes before breaking into a grin. He managed to squash the grin before Woojin turned around.

“If you say so.” He hummed, climbing into bed. Woojin slid in after him, his tanned arm instinctively wrapping around his waist as it did every night. Chris smiled as his tail twitched between their legs, which naturally tangled together. He didn’t know how he managed to get so close to the brunette, but he wasn’t going to risk it.

“Night Chris.”

“Night Wooj.” Chris buried his nose in Woojin’s neck and instantly fell asleep.



“He’s gone already?” Woojin asked, almost horrified. It was only nine in the morning, and Minho was not only awake, but completely gone. The sandwich was missing, both bottles of water were gone and the bowl had been put back in the dish drain. He even folded the blanket and left it over the edge of the couch. The only thing that showed someone slept on their couch was an old receipt with the word ‘thanks’ scribbled on it.

“He must be good with hangovers.” Chris commented, gathering the empty bottles and bringing them to the kitchen.

“I know I shouldn’t pry, but I’m worried about him,” Woojin frowned, thinking back to how skinny Minho was. “He’s too thin.”

“You’re too good of a person,” Chris said, pausing. “If it would make you feel better, we can put off finding a new apartment and start making another serving of whatever we’re having. I doubt he’ll let us actually help him seeing how he’s a cat hybrid, but if we leave it outside his door be might accept.”

“What do you mean because he’s a cat hybrid?”

“Well, even though I haven’t met many hybrids, I was taught about each type,” Chris shrugged. “They wanted us to be knowledgeable about other hybrids in case we ran into them on duty. Cats are pretty isolated, especially if they have past trauma. Some cats can be very sociable if they’re raised right, but I don’t think Minho was… He probably has some really painful emotional wounds, especially if he lives alone.”

“Shit…” Woojin felt as though the wind had been knocked out of him. “I can’t just leave him…”

“You’re such a good person…” Chris mumbled, wrapping his arms around Woojin’s waist and resting his cheek on Woojin’s shoulder blade.

“I just… won’t let anyone feel abandoned if I can help it,” Woojin sighed, leaning back into Chris’ above average warmth.

“I’m glad you found me,” Chris sighed, closing his eyes. “I don’t know where I would be without you.”

“I’m glad you found me too.” Woojin said, hoping Chris couldn’t sense how much he loved being in the hybrid’s arms.

Chapter Text

 

Woojin walked down the hallway, a large portion of the dinner he and Chris just made tightly packed in a disposable tupperware container. He wished he knew his neighbor a little better. He guessed the sandwich was okay, but he didn’t know if Minho had any kind of food allergies or dietary restrictions. They made chicken, which Woojin decided was a safe option for most people, especially for a cat hybrid.

He paused, not sure if he should knock. He leaned a little closer, not even knowing if Minho was home. His eyes widened a fraction when he heard not one, but two voices talking in a hushed tone behind the door. Woojin frowned, knowing there wasn’t enough in the bag for two people. He rushed back to the apartment, bag in hand.

“What’s wrong? Did he say no?” Chris asked from the kitchen. He was still washing the dishes from their meal.

“There’s someone else there,” Woojin frowned. “There’s not enough for two people.”

“Maybe it’s just a guest,” Chris shrugged. “I didn’t smell any new scents recently.”

“Which means whoever this is has been there since you got here,” Woojin frowned. He turned and grabbed an old notebook, ripping a page out. “I’ll leave a note.”

‘We made you some dinner but didn’t realize there wasn’t going to be enough. Next time we’ll make sure there’s enough for two.’


Woojin went to the cabinet and pulled some granola bars and what snacks he could spare and put them in the bag with the note. He took a deep breath before leaving once again and making the trek down to the cat hybrid’s door.


Before he could chicken out again, he looped the bag on the door handle and knocked on the door, turning and starting to walk away before anyone answered the knock. Unfortunately, the door opened instantly, and Woojin was face to face with someone who absolutely wasn’t Minho. It was a boy, with soft black hair and the prettiest face Woojin had ever seen.


“Uh, hi?” He said, looking nervous.

Woojin’s ears burned as he took a step back.


“Hi…”


“Was there… something you needed?”


“Uh…” Woojin didn’t know if he should talk to the boy or just run away.


“Hyunjin, who’s there?” Minho asked, coming to the door. His hood was up, but Woojin could see the outline of his ears under the fabric. He must have quickly covered them rather than the way he normally hid them. “Oh… it’s you.”


“You know him hyung?” Hyunjin asked, turning to look at the other boy.


“He’s my neighbor,” Minho said, sounding bored. “We’ve never really talked before.”


“Um… how are you feeling?” Woojin asked, rubbing the back of his head awkwardly. Minho stared at him, as if deciding how to answer before blinking slowly.


“Better,” He said, looking down and picking at his nails. “Thanks for that, by the way. It was a nice chance.”


“A nice change? Do you get that fucked up-”


“Anyway, was there something you needed?” Minho cut him off. Woojin noticed how panic flashed through his feline like eyes, and how Minho glanced at Hyunjin before turning his attention back on Woojin.


“Oh, right… um, we made some extra dinner and I brought some over…” He said, tugging the bag off the door handle. “I was just gonna leave it, but you answered the door too quickly.”


“Why?” Minho asked, not in an accusing way, but in a way that said he was genuinely curious why Woojin - a stranger - would help him.


“Well, I noticed how skinny you were and I got worried,” Woojin felt himself blushing a little. He was trying his hardest not to sound like a creep, but he wasn’t sure if he was succeeding or not.

“And since you live right down the hall, and since I just got a new job, I figured it couldn’t hurt to share a little.”


“I’m not that skinny,” Minho said, sounding the mildest bit defensive. He hesitated and sighed slightly. “But thanks. I’ll make sure Hyunjin gets some too.”


“Minho… not to be that person but you’re way too thin,” Woojin frowned. He didn’t like how flippant the other boy was about his health. “I thought Chris was skinny when I met him but you’re…”


“Oh, the mutt? It’s fine. I’m naturally thin.” Minho said, his gaze fixated on his hands again.


“I almost threw you because you were so light.” Woojin argued, frowning harder. Minho looked up at him with hard eyes, almost daring him to say something else.


“Hyung… you told me you’ve been eating at work…” Hyunjin said softy. Woojin almost forgot the other boy was there.


“I have been,” Minho’s voice was suddenly much softer. “Don’t listen to him, okay? I’m fine-”


“Minho, you’re not fine,” Woojin resisted the urge to shake Minho. “You’re going to collapse if you don’t-”


“I’m fine!” Minho snapped, his eyes flashing.


“Hyung… have you been giving me all your food?” Hyunjin asked, gripping Minho’s sleeve. His head was done, and his bangs were covering his eyes.


“I- it’s fine Jinnie,” Minho whispered. Woojin could see his ears move under his hood, and he guessed they were flat against Minho’s head. “It’s fine.”


“Hyung…” Hyunjin whispered, and Woojin saw tears dripping into Minho’s sleeve.


“Look, we’re neighbors,” Woojin said, his chest burning. “Why don’t you guys come over for dinner? We can make sure we have enough for everyone, and we can pack some extra for lunch or something… it won’t be much, but it’ll be something.”


“Why? Why do you care so much?” Minho hissed, his eyes flashing green.


“Because no one should suffer alone,” Woojin closed his eyes for a second before opening them again. “Look, we’re all fucked up. We all have demons following us, but that doesn’t mean we have to face them alone. Chris and I… Neither of us are perfect, but we can be your friends and you won’t have to do things on your own anymore.”


“People don’t just… help others without wanting something in return,” Minho sounded small. “What do you want from us?”


“You know, Chris said the same thing,” Woojin commented briefly. “I just want you to be happy.”


“But why?”


“Because you deserve to be happy.”

Woojin said with a smile, and he could see the moment Minho’s resolve broke.


“I normally get home around five.” He muttered, looking down.


“Our schedule changes daily but the record shop closes at seven so we’ll never be much later than that. But yeah, sorry there isn’t a whole lot tonight,” Woojin frowned again. “I thought it was just you, but tomorrow I’ll make sure there’s enough.”


“Thanks…”


“Woojin,” he supplied with a small smile. “Kim Woojin.”


“Right, thanks Woojin,” Minho said, smiling at the older boy for the first time ever. “We’ll… be around, I guess.”


“See you around.” Woojin grinned. The encounter went much smoother than anticipated. He made his way back to his own apartment, already mentally budgeting how he was going to feed four people.



“Hey, isn’t this the cd that someone asked for?” Changbin asked, holding up a cracked case. Woojin took the post it note from the computer and went to meet the smaller boy.


“Yeah, looks like it,” Woojin smiled. “Is it playable?”


“I dunno, it was kinda scratched but with some restoration it might be good.”


“What kind of music even if this?” Woojin asked, looking at the back of the case. The song titles were pretty generic, and gave him no clues about what it could possibly be.


“Here, I’ll see if Sungie can restore it and then we can give it a test play,” Changbin said, taking the case back from Woojin.

“Wait until we know if it’s good before calling that kid though. We don’t wanna get his hopes up if every track skips.”


“Oh, this shouldn’t be too hard,” Jisung appeared out of nowhere, snatching the cd from the older boy’s hands with no warning. “I could see it before. The scratches didn’t seem too bad, plus I want it to work so I can meet this Felix boy. I’m still jealous Woojin hyung got to meet an angel without any of us here.”


“I never said he was an angel-” Woojin blinked.


“No, but you said he had cute freckles and a laugh like a wind chime so basically he’s an angel and I wanna MEET HIM.”


“Well, if you can get it to work he’ll be in soon.” Chris chuckled from the counter. He was ringing up a girl’s order, who came in to get some records for her new record player. She had spent almost two hours browsing the shelves and was leaving with two bags filled with used records.


“Yes!” Jisung scampered back through the curtain and Woojin couldn’t help but grin. There was something about Jisung that made everything lighter.


“What was the name of the cd?” Chris asked after the girl left. Woojin handed him the post it note, and Chris’ brow furrowed.


“What’s wrong?”


“This name sounds familiar but I don’t know why,” Chris murmured, desperately trying to remember why this album name rang some small bell in the back of his mind. “Maybe it’ll jog my memory when Sungie plays it.”


“Until then, would you mind lending me a hand?” Woojin asked, gesturing to the big box of cd cases he was sorting through.


“Sure.” Chris came over and sat across from Woojin on the floor, crossing his legs as he dug into the box. They were sorting which ones were playable, possibly able to the restored and the ones that were trash - for Changbin’s project.


“Look at this fossil.” Woojin chuckled as he tossed an old cd to Chris, who easily caught it.


“Jesus, how is this case still in one piece?” He asked, carefully opening it. As he spoke, the plastic snapped and the front half of the case broke in half, the plastic falling onto Chris’ lap. The hybrid blinked for a moment before laughing. “Guess I spoke too soon.”


“I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume that cd is trash?” Woojin laughed as Chris checked the cd in the light. Woojin laughed again when he saw the blond’s expression, knowing he was right without the other saying anything.


“Chuck it in the Binnie box.” He laughed. Chris tried to fit the case back together and tossed it towards the cardboard box already half way filled with old cds that were deemed too scratched up to be used again. The frisbee toss almost made it into the box, but bounced off the edge and crashed on the ground.


“Fuck-” Chris scrambled towards it as Woojin laughed louder. Chris was the first person in years that made Woojin laugh so freely. Sure, Changbin and Jisung made him laugh too, but it was always Chris. It was Chris first, and Chris the most. Chris made him laugh and smile and feel light, even with little things like the look on his face when he missed his throw.


“Alright, I think I got it!” Jisung trilled as he threw the curtain aside. He bounced over to the cd player behind the counter and put it in, pressing play. It took a second for it to start, and when it did Woojin couldn’t help but make a face.


“This is…” He trailed off, not sure how to describe it.


“This fuckin sucks.” Jisung pouted.


“I wouldn’t have said that but… yeah,” Woojin chuckled a little. “It sounds like the music they’d play at a shitty grocery store.”


“Angel has bad taste in music.” Jisung muttered with a betrayed expression. Woojin turned to smirk at Chris, expecting to see a funny face or hear a stupid comment, but he wasn’t prepared to see the hybrid’s face pale as snow.


“You okay Chris?” Woojin asked, going over and placing a gentle hand on his arm. Chris jumped a little at the contact.


“What?”


“Are you okay? You look like you saw a ghost.” Woojin tried not to sound worried but he couldn't help it. He was worried.


“I just…” Chris took a shuddering breath, his eyes going glassy as he stared into space.


“Chris?”


“This was the music they played at the nursery.” Chris whispered, no emotion in his voice.


“Oh…” Woojin knew very little about how Chris was raised. He knew he was born specifically to be a companion, and grew up in a nursery that educated him and trained him to be what they wanted him to be.


“It’s weird hearing this shit again,” Chris laughed faintly. “Giving me a nasty case of deja vu.”


“Jisung, turn it off-” Woojin was cut off by the door’s bell ringing. Whoever opened it slammed it shut behind them, making the bell ring even louder. All eyes were on the boy who was panting and gasping for breath. Woojin’s eyes widened when he realized it was the boy from the other day - Felix, Jisung’s supposed ‘angel’.


“Please,” Felix gasped, his large eyes filled with tears. “They’re gonna get me I have to hide-”


“Go through the curtain,” Changbin said without a second thought. “Jisung, Chris go with him. Woojin, change the music. Don’t make a sound.”


Jisung didn’t waste a single second, scooping Felix from the front door and sweeping him into the back. Chris raced in after him, the curtain swishing faintly. Woojin went and took the cd out, replacing it with one of the usual ones they played on the speakers.


Moments later, a group of men pushed through the door, the bell ringing again. Woojin tensed but tried to stay neutral as they walked up to the counter.


“Excuse us, but did anyone come through here?” The man in front asked. “He was about eighteen with blond hair and freckles?”


“Sorry, I don’t think anyone matching that description came by,” Woojin said, his voice pleasant. “Is he a friend of yours?”


“Uh, n-no-” The man stuttered, looking taken aback by the sudden question.


“Is there a problem gentleman?”

Changbin came over, arms filled with records. Nothing screamed normal like a boy doing his job.


“We’re pursuing what we believe is a rogue hybrid,” The man said, pulling out a badge and flashing it at them. “As you know, it’s against the law for a hybrid to be on the streets without an owner or proper paperwork, and we’ve been instructed to bring him back to the shelter-”


“I’m sorry, but no one’s come by except a girl a few hours ago who bought some records,” Changbin said, handing the stack in his arms to Woojin, who placed it in the hold pile. “And even if we did, I believe the law also states you need a warrant to private property.”


“Well, yes, but a place of business is-”


“I technically own all of this, and if you want proof I’ll happily go get the deed to the plot-”


“Th-that won’t be necessary, sir,” The man said, again looking shocked. “If you haven’t seen the boy, we’ll just be on our way. If there’s any suspicious activity, report it to the authorities. We need to keep our neighborhood safe.”


“Of course sir, have a nice day.” Changbin said, watching the men walk out of the shop again. They pretended to sort through more albums until Chris came out of the back, a grimace on his lips.


“They’re gone,” He growled, his pupils thin. “They’re nasty ass scent is far away now.”


“Oh thank god,” Woojin let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding. “I thought I was going to throw up, jesus fuck.”


“That was terrifying,” Changbin rested his forehead on the counter. “I was afraid they were gonna ask to search the back.”


“Th-thank you…” A timid voice rang through the small shop. Felix and Jisung walked out behind Chris, the freckled boy tucked carefully under the hybrid’s arm.


“Felix, right?” Woojin asked gently, going over to the boy. He looked like he was about to collapse, and Woojin was worried. “Are you alright?”


“Just- just a little shaken.” He whispered, his face still pale.


“Okay, shop closed,” Changbin said, moving to turn the sign and locking the front door. “We’re going up to the apartment and we’re going to talk.”


The five boys made their way into the back, through the small room where most of the real work took place, to the small staircase that lead up to where Changbin and Jisung lived. Woojin had never been up there, but he caught Jisung once, who was about to crack his head open as he fell down them.


Woojin liked their apartment. It was cute, with two closed doors that he assumed were the bedrooms, a small bathroom, a cute sitting room and a kitchen. It honestly wasn’t much bigger than Woojin’s apartment, but it was much nicer.


“Sungie, make some tea?” Changbin asked and the other boy nodded, scurrying to the kitchen. He took off his beanie and tossed it on the counter before putting the kettle on the stove.

Woojin couldn’t help but stare - he had never seen Jisung without his beanie. The boy’s ears were adorable and round, just barely poking out of his fluffy hair.


“Chris, you can take your hoodie off if you’d be more comfortable,” Woojin said softly. “I don’t think you need to be on guard here.” Chris looked around, pausing when he noticed Jisung pulling off his own hoodie. The boy’s tail was fluffy and curled, just like the squirrels Woojin saw in the park. How Jisung kept that thing tucked up, the older boy didn’t understand at all.


Chris stripped his hoodie but kept it held tight in his arms. Woojin felt himself relaxing a little when he saw his friend’s ears. Something about seeing them told his brain he was safe, because Chris only ever had them exposed in their apartment.


“Felix, what happened?” Changbin asked as Jisung carried out two mugs. He handed the mugs to the boys on the couch before going back and grabbing two more for Woojin and Chris.


“I dunno,” He sniffed, his eyes red and swollen. “I was just… walking, and they started chasing me. Calling me a hybrid, saying they needed to take me back to the shelter and-”


“Why did they think you were a hybrid?” Changbin was confused. The boy next to him didn’t have any animal features at all. Felix rubbed his eyes, with the back of his hands and sniffled again.


“I- I don’t know-”


“Felix, your contact…” Chris whispered, making the freckled boy freeze. He slapped his hands over his eyes, shaking.


“I don’t wear c-contacts-”
“Felix, it’s alright. You’re safe here.”

Woojin said softly, sitting on the other side of the smaller boy. Felix shrunk away as much as he could, not moving his hands.


“I’m h-human,” He whispered. “I swear, I’m hu-human.”


“Felix, are you a hybrid?” Woojin felt his heart stop. The boy looked up quickly, and Woojin saw the bright blue of his eye off center to expose a golden iris underneath.


“I-” He put his hands over his head - right where hybrid ears would have been.


“It’s okay, we won’t get mad.” Woojin tried again.


“Not anymore,” Felix said, his fingers tugging at his hair. “I’m not a hybrid anymore. I’m human now. I- I can go to school and- and get a job and-”


“Oh god…” Woojin thought he was going to be sick. From where he was sitting, and with the way Felix was pulling his hair down, the older boy could see something that made his stomach churn.


On his head, hidden by his hair, Felix had two stubs cut down to his scalp. They were healed over, but Woojin could see the jagged edge of the flesh.


“Felix…” Woojin breathed, his face going white. “What did you do?” Felix just whimpered again, hiding his face.

Chapter Text

“Felix, how old are you?” Changbin asked gently, shooting Woojin a look that told the other boy to be quiet for a little bit. Felix was shaking so Changbin let his hand hover around the boy for a moment, asking for permission. When Felix didn’t reject Changbin’s comfort, he put an arm around the boy’s shoulders. Felix’s shaking seemed to soften with Changbin’s warmth pressed into his side.

“Eighteen.” Felix whispered, eyes glued to the table. Jisung pushed the mug towards Felix a little more, not enough to nudge it off the table but enough to get the blond’s attention. Felix blinked and took it, his face relaxing a little from the heat against his fingers.

“Where are you staying right now?”

“Um… At this motel downtown,” Felix murmured and Woojin winced. He knew how awful the motels there were. He stayed in one for almost a month as he looked for his apartment and it was disgusting. “It’s not that bad…”

“Have you eaten yet?”

“Not yet… I was going to get something later,” Felix shrunk in on himself. “I… I was on my way to cancel my hold when those men saw me.”

“What happened with them?”

“They had a dog hybrid with them… he must have smelled me or something.”

“Smelled you?” Changbin asked, glancing to Chris.

“You don’t smell like a hybrid,” Chris said, his nose twitching a little. “You kinda smell like… flowers and vanilla. It’s really nice actually.”

“Heh, thanks,” Felix’s mouth quirked up at the corner. “I uh… don’t really know why… I use a lot of perfume to try and mask it…”

“What happened with those men?” Changbin asked again, trying not to push too much. He could tell the boy tucked under his arm was scared. He was starting to calm down, but he was still shaking and was tense.

“They started chasing me. Didn’t even look to see if I was a-a hybrid… I didn’t know what to do so I came here…”

“No one is going to turn you in,” Changbin rubbed Felix’s arm gently. “You don’t have to worry. I mean, look around. Two out of four of us are hybrids who work for a wage. We’d be shut down in a heartbeat if anyone found out.”

“You don’t have to tell us anything you don’t want to,” Woojin chimed softly. “We won’t judge you for anything you’ve done in the past. We all have secrets, and that’s okay, but I also know that sometimes we bottle things up and refuse to tell anyone because we think it’s going to make the problems go away. We think it’ll make things better, but then the bottle overflows and we get hurt. If you wanted to unload on us, we’re here.”

“Why are you being so nice?” Felix sniffed, glancing up at the older boy with red rimmed eyes.

“Because you deserve to be happy.” Woojin felt a sense of deja vu when Felix’s eyes started watering up again.

“I don’t… I really don’t…” He sobbed quietly, thick tears streaming down flushed cheeks.

“You do.” Woojin took his hand, marveling at how small Felix’s fingers were laced between his much larger ones.

“No.. I’m a liar… I’m a- I’m a fake! I’m a fuckin liar! Me just… just existing is bad!”

“How are you bad?” Changbin asked. Chris handed the smaller human a blanket, and Changbin draped it over Felix’s shoulders.

“I’m lying to everyone… I can- I can’t sleep anymore because I’m so scared someone’s going to find out and-”

“And what?”

“Euthanize me…” Felix hucciped as everyone froze. “I’m defective… everyone knows it! I deserve to die-”

“No one deserves to die,” Woojijn cut him off, his chest hurting so badly that he couldn’t take a breath. “Especially not you.”

“I’m not a human… but I’m barely a hybrid,” Felix’s sobbing was getting louder. “I thought- I thought it would make things b-better but- but it DIDN’T-”

“What happened to your ears Felix?” Woojin asked carefully, almost afraid to hear the answer. Felix sobbed even harder, doubling over. It took a few minutes of Woojin and Changbin trying to calm him down before the freckled boy was able to breathe well enough to speak again. As soon as he opened his mouth, Woojin felt bile rising in the back of his throat.

“Wow, lucky! I’ve always wanted a hybrid but mother says they’re too expensive.” The boy said, his nasally voice not bothering Felix all that much. He had finally been bought from the nursery and was more than excited to have a real home. The other boy - his new owner - just scoffed.

It’s not like I wanted one,” He said, looking bored. “They think if I have one, I’ll learn responsibility but they know deep down that the staff will do all the work.”

“Aren’t you excited?”

“Are you kidding me? I’ve heard it’s like having a fuckin kid,” Felix’s owner grimaced but the freckled boy tried to keep his smile bright. He was trained to be pleasant at all times. To be cuddly and cute and to be the best cat hybrid money could buy. “That’s the last thing I want.”

“At least you got a cute one.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You know,” His owner’s friend wiggled his eyebrows. “Hybrids are known for… being a good fuck, if you know what I mean.”

“I mean, I guess,” His owner glanced at him with disdain. “He’s pretty I guess. Maybe he’ll be useful to me that way.”

“Master, I’ve been trained to be your companion,” Felix said, not entirely comfortable with the way the conversation was going. “I don’t know if I-”

“Shut up,” His owner hissed, grabbing Felix’s right ear and pulling on it hard. Felix’s tail puffed up as pain shot through his skull. He hissed and lashed out, scratching the boy’s hand. He instantly realized what he did and started crying, apologies dripping from his mouth faster than the tears falling from his eyes. “I said SHUT UP!”

He slapped Felix across the face so hard he sprawled across the tiled floor. The boy’s friend laughed a little, looking at Felix’s form with a smirk.

“Careful, his face is all he’s good for,” he laughed, which caused his owner to scoff yet again. “His face and his ass.”

Felix’s owner walked over to him and knelt next to him, tugging the hybrid’s hair so he could look in his eyes.

“You know why you’re in this position?” The boy asked, almost pleasantly. Felix couldn’t have nodded or shook his head even if he tried from how hard the boy’s grip was. “It’s because you’re a filthy fuckin hybrid. You’re my new toy because you’re a freak with fucking cat ears,” He pulled on Felix’s ears again with his free hand, causing him to cry out again. “And you’ll never get away because you’ll always be a freak. You’ll never be able to do anything because you’re nothing. You’re a pet at best. You’d be lucky to have the honor of being my fuck toy because you’re absolutely worthless.” He pulled on Felix’s tail so hard that he could feel a crack right at the base of his spine. He screamed, trying to scramble away from the boy, who just laughed.

“Let’s go,” His friend said, sounding bored. “I want ice cream.”

“You better be here when I get back, freak.” His owner spat, leaving Felix to cradle his tail. Pain was radiating up his spine, and he was scared that something might have snapped when the boy pulled on it. The boys slammed the door behind them, leaving Felix all alone in the room.

 

He hated his ears. His owner hadn’t gone through with his threats to use Felix’s body for his own pleasure, but he had taken advantage of the freckled boy’s extra appendages when he was frustrated. In the week Felix had been living in the mansion, he quickly realized the boy’s favorite hobby was pulling on his hybrid’s ears and tail. He kept taunting

Felix, saying he was going to remove his cat parts and use them as a halloween costume, or rip them off so Felix would finally be human.

The boy was out for the weekend. He told his parents and the staff that he was going to a birthday party of one of his school friends, but Felix knew better. He heard the boy talking on the phone. He was going clubbing all weekend, and he knew the boy was planning on doing awful things to unsuspecting girls there.

Felix didn’t know what to do. It had only been a week, but he couldn’t stand it anymore. He would rather throw himself off the roof than face his owner again. His chest felt tight at the thought, but it wasn’t a bad sort of tight.

His feet moved without him, his hands reaching for something without him meaning to. He walked, but he didn’t know where he was going. Before long, he found himself on the roof of the mansion. Every night after his owner went to bed he would go up onto the roof and watch the night sky and imagine - just for a little bit - that he was as free as the stars.

He looked over the edge of the roof and wondered what it would be like to fly. He would watch the birds during the day and the bats at night, wondering if they ever realized how lucky they were. It was a three story drop onto concrete. Felix felt a little dizzy, but he didn’t back away. He wondered what his owner would say if he fell - if he tried to fly.

His owner would probably complain about the mess, even though the staff would be the ones to clean it up. He’d complain that his main source of entertainment was gone. He’d complain that he never got the chance to see how tight Felix’s little ass was-

Felix looked down at his hands and flinched when he realized what he grabbed. It was the pair of fabric shears his owner had stolen from his mother to alter some of his shirts for his clubbing excursion. They were thick and sharp and the cold metal sent tingles through Felix’s shaking fingers.

He started sobbing, the sound bouncing off the roof. He took the scissors in his hand properly and acted without thinking.

His owner said he would never be worth anything because of his ears, so he cut them off. He screamed and sobbed as the blades cut through the sensitive skin. Hot blood coated his head as it ran down his neck.

He would be human, if only he didn’t have this pesky tail.

The tail was what hurt the most. The shears cut through the bone and Felix threw up. He could feel himself blacking out. His vision went dark, and right before he passed out, Felix prayed to whatever god had abandoned him that he’d never wake up again.

 

“You’re awake,” A soft voice whispered. Felix cracked an eye open only to turn his head and throw up on the floor. Why was he alive? “Here, have some water.”
He looked through his tears and saw one of the kitchen workers, holding a bottle of water up to his lips. He took a sip without thinking, still trying to understand how he was alive. He knew he had bled so much-

His hand shot up to the top of his head. His fingers came in contact with thick bandages wrapped around his skull. He shifted and felt something tight wrapped around his hips. Memories came flooding back and he threw up the few sips of water he managed to stomach. Oh god, what did he do?”

“It’s alright Felix,” She whispered, rubbing his back. “I’m glad I found you when I did… you would have died if I had been any later.”

“Why didn’t you leave me?” Felix’s voice was deep and gravely.

“What?” She blinked, clearly shocked.

“I- why didn’t you let me die? Why- why did you save me?” He started crying, which just made his head hurt even worse. “Why didn’t you let me die-?”

“I’m going to get you out of here,” she said firmly, putting a hand over his. “My family has a beach house down the shore you can stay at, and I can smuggle you supplies until you heal. It won’t be a lot, but it’ll be enough to get you far from this place.”

“Why are you helping me?” Felix asked, feeling lightheaded.

“Because no one deserves to be treated this way. Now sleep for now. You lost a lot of blood and you’re probably in a lot of pain.”

 

“You can’t stay here much longer.” she said sadly. Felix had been hiding for a little over two months, healing slowly. They told his owner that he had an episode - that he cut off his ears and tail and ran away. According to her, Felix’s owner didn’t even blink.

“I figured.’ Felix chuckled a little. He had been spending his time reading the textbooks that were in the beach house. One of the girl’s cousins was a chemist, and left his books from college around mainly so the bookshelves less bare.

“I’ve managed to stash together some cash and some things you can pawn off once you leave,” She handed him a bag. “That little bastard doesn’t notice when things go missing. He probably doesn’t even care… entitled, self absorbed piece of shit.”

“Thank you so much for helping me,” Felix whispered, his eyes stinging painfully. “I can’t repay you for this-”

“You don’t have to,” She cut him off with a watery smile. “Just get out of here and never come back, okay?”

“Thank you-” He was cut off by soft lips pressing against his. She pulled back, tears streaming down her face.

“I hope we never meet again Felix.” She choked, pushing him out the door. He looked back only once before going to the bus stop. He had no destination in mind, but figured the last stop on the route was a good place to start.

He shouldered the bag and set off, hoping no one would notice the slight nub at the base of his spine or the scarred slits under his hair. He knew he’d have to grow his hair out to cover where his ears were. It had taken him a while to get used to not hearing as well, and walking took some effort because his balance was completely thrown off, but he was confident he seemed like every other human on the bus.

He put his headphones in and closed his eyes, wondering if he’d find someone who’d accept him.

 

“Oh Felix…” Woojin felt like the boy had punched him directly in the stomach. At some point during the story, the freckled boy calmed down and seemed to have been talking on autopilot.

“How long ago did you leave the beach house?” Changbin asked, sounding shaken.

"Um… it’s been about two weeks,” Felix muttered, leaning heavily into Woojin’s side. It was clear to everyone in the room that he was exhausted. “I’ve been looking for a job but I’ve been so anxious someone will find me out.”

“Felix, you can’t keep staying at that motel,” Woojin said, pulling him closer. Felix was so damn small in his arms. “I know how shitty they are…”

“It’s not that bad,” Felix chuckled a little. “I can take warm showers, and there’s a convenience store across the street…”

“Would you want to stay with us?” Chris offered quickly. Woojin looked at him and he could see the hybrid begging to let Felix stay with his eyes.

“We don’t have a spare room, but we have a couch that’s probably better than the mattress at that nasty motel.” The human said, and he felt his heart jump a little at the look on Chris’ face.

“I can’t do that.”

“Please?”

“Why would you want me to stay with you?” Felix whispered, hiding his face in his hands.He was shaking again and Woojin was worried. “I’m worthless… I’m a- a freak-”

“Don’t you ever call yourself that again,” Jisung snapped, speaking up for the first time since entering the apartment. “I never want to hear you call yourself a freak again.”

“But-”

“No,” Jisung cut him off, the normally smiling boy looking more serious than Woojin had ever seen him. “Just because you were born with extra bits doesn’t mean you’re a freak. It means you were blessed with something human’s don’t have. Hybrids… we’re always put down as the lesser being. You know why? Because we’re faster, and stronger than humans. We can hear better, run farther, see more… they’re afraid of us, so they beat us down and make us think we’re worthless. They call us freaks and pets and lock us up in shelters because they don’t want to acknowledge that if we were to work together we could easily take over.”

“Jisung…” Chris muttered, putting a hand on the squirrel’s arm, but Jisung shook off the touch.

“I was lucky enough to find Binnie hyung, but I know that I’m a minority when it comes to that because the rest of us get stuck with shitty humans that treat us like garbage, or humans that think they’re treating us well but act like we’re stupid animals. We’re not stupid animals. We’re hybrids, and we’re stronger than them and they’re afraid. Even if you don’t have your ears or tail anymore, you’re still my brother. We’re still connected through experiences and through the nightmares we share and through the scars we all have. You don’t have to worry about not being fully hybrid or fully human because as long as you survive, you’re already proving them wrong and showing them how resilient you are.”

Felix just looked at Jisung with wide eyes for a second. Woojin was convinced the freckled boy was going to start crying again but instead he clenched his jaw and nodded before taking a deep breath.

“Yeah… yeah you’re right,” he nodded again. “I just…”

“It’s alright, you don’t have to say anything else if you don’t want to,” Woojin jumped in quickly. “You’ve talked a lot and-”

“I just,” His shoulders slumped. “I sometimes wish I was never born. I wish I never grew up in that damned nursery and sold to some asshole kid… I wish I just didn’t exist at all.”

“I didn’t even know the nursery had a feline section.” Chris commented softly. Felix looked up and gave the wolf a small smile.

“They kept us separated. Said if we mingled we’d get ‘ideas’ but I think they didn’t want us to make friends with other species because it would make us question things. Make us question why we were born and why we were trained.”

“What were you trained for?”

“To be a pet,” Felix spat. “To be quiet and cute and to entertain my owners… what about you?”

“To be a service companion,” Chris said it with almost no emotion. “I was trained to detect panic attacks and to remind my owner to take her medication… it’s weird, being a service dog with no one to help.”

“What happened to your owner?”

“She killed herself because I wasn’t good enough.” Chris shrugged, but Woojin could see the tension in the blond’s jaw.

“Chris…” Woojin left Felix’s side and pulled Chris into his chest. The wolf hybrid hesitated before leaning into Woojin’s familiar warmth. “You are good enough. What she did has nothing to do with you. She was hurting, but it wasn’t because of you.”

“I…” Chris didn’t say anymore. He buried his face in Woojin’s neck and took a deep breath. The scent of the other boy calmed him - reminded him of home.

“If you can help me act more human, I can get a job and help pay for rent and stuff,” Felix said softly, grabbing Woojin’s attention. “I don’t mind sleeping on the couch. Anything is better than the cat bed my owner made me sleep in.”

“Cat bed? That’s fucked up…” Changbin growled, his face darkening.

“Here, finish your tea and then we can go get your things,” Woojin smiled to Felix, his arms still firmly around Chris. “Binnie can help you find the best places to sell things and we can help you get a job.”

“You could work at the record shop if you want,” Changbin offered. “I can’t pay you a lot because we don’t get a whole lot of income but you’re more than welcome here.”

“I’ve been thinking of applying at the used bookstore down the street,” Felix said, actually smiling for the first time. “I like the vibe of the place, and it would nice because it’s not super busy and I can sort books and talk to customers and stuff…”

“I think you’d be great there,” Woojin watched the boy smile wider. “We just need to work on your confidence a little.”

“Thank you…”

“Why don’t we go home then,” Woojin said, pulling away from Chris only an inch. “We can stop and get stuff for dinner. Minho and his friend are coming over starting tonight, and it’ll be good for you to get to know more people.”

“And if you ever need anything, you can come here too,” Changbin said, putting a hand on Felix’s back. “Woojin hyung’s apartment, and our apartment… they’re both places you can crash if you need to.”

“Thank you,” Felix sniffled, tears running down his face again. This time, however, he was grinning brightly through his tears. “Thank you so much.”

“Of course Lix,” Jisung scurried over and pulled the boy into a hug. “We’re family now! And family takes care of each other.”

“Family…” Felix grinned wider, letting Jisung hold him.

Chapter Text

“Do you want to change?” Woojin asked as he pushed open the apartment door. “I don’t have a whole lot, seeing how Chris shares half my closet, but I can definitely lend you some until we can buy you more stuff.”

“Um, I have some clothing,” Felix mumbled, lifting the backpack that he was carrying. It only took the freckled boy about ten minutes to pack everything from the shitty motel room into a backpack and a duffle bag. “Thank you though.”

“No problem Lix,” Woojin smiled at the boy in hopes of making him feel a little comfortable there. “If you need anything, let us know okay?”

“Alright hyung.” Felix kept his eyes on the ground, but Woojin could see his ears turn red.

“When is Minho and Hyunjin coming over?” Chris asked, putting the grocery bags onto the counter. They stopped in quickly to grab things for dinner, pretending they didn’t see the sideways glances shot in their direction - they weren’t the most normal looking group to go through the store, with Chris being completely covered and completely dressed in black, Felix with his bags and Woojin smiling at everyone.

“Um, around seven I think,” Woojin checked his phone but didn’t see any new messages. “And if we end up finishing cooking before that I can just go get them.”

“How did you meet them?” Felix asked, setting his bags down on the couch.

“Uh-” Woojin hesitated.

“Minho was passed out drunk in the hallway and Woojin brought him back here to sleep it off,” Chris chimed in easily. “He left before we woke up but Jinine wanted to make him some food. He met Hyunjin when he dropped the food off. They’re roommates.”

“Ah, I see.” Felix nodded, not seeming phased by the unusual way the elder boys became acquaintances.

“Felix, come help me make dinner?” Woojin called over to the boy, who eagerly bounced into the kitchen. “Here, can you wash and peel the potatoes?”

“Sure.” he went over and washed his hands, seeming to relax some now that he had a purpose.

 

“You’re right on time,” Woojin smiled as he opened the door. Minho had knocked just a minute shy of seven. Chris had just taken the pan off the stove and was in the process of putting it into bowls.

“Thank you for having us.” The cat hybrid muttered, looking at his feet.

“And thanks for the food yesterday,” Hyunjin grinned wide. “It was delicious.”

“Ah, I’m glad you enjoyed it,” Woojin pulled the younger boy into a hug, which Hyunjin eagerly returned. “Hope you don’t mind, but we have another guest joining us tonight.”

“Um, hi,” Felix said from the kitchen. “I’m Felix…”

“Hi Felix, I’m Hyunjin,” The boy said, smiling at the blond. “How old are you?”

“Eighteen…” He answered, his eyes wide at how aggressively happy the dark haired boy was.

“No way! Me too!”

“Hyunjin, let the poor kid breathe,” Minho said, a tired smile tired smile tugging at his mouth. He took a step closer and his eyes narrowed a little. “Have we met before? You look kinda familiar…”

“Uh… I don’t think so?” Felix said, but it was more of a question. “I haven’t really been in the city long-”

“You were a nursery kitten, weren’t you?” Minho asked, his eyes widened at the sudden connection. Felix paled and took an unconscious step behind Woojin.

“I- Uh-”

“You were brought in right before I left,” Minho nodded, an indescribable look in his eyes. He smiled again, but it was… sad, almost. “I remember you because I had never seen a hybrid with freckles like yours… I had hoped you’d end up better off than me but I’m guessing if you’re here, you didn’t.”

“If you’re a hybrid, where are your ears?” Hyunjin asked, looking at Felix with innocence and curiosity.

“Ya, you don’t just ask someone-” Minho hissed as Felix offered a small smile.

“Hng, it’s alright I guess,” He chuckled awkwardly. “I um… c-cut them off-”

“Oh god, I’m so sorry!” Hyunjin paled, eyes widening. “Hyung was right, I shouldn’t have-”

“It’s… fine now,” Felix tried to give Hyunjin a reassuring smile but he could feel how shaky his lips were. “Um, why don’t we sit down? Chris hyung, do you need help?”

Dinner was a nice time. They chatted and ate and got to know each other a little more. Woojin found out that Minho worked as a janitor at one of the many businesses farther into the city, mainly because the uniform was a baggy jumpsuit and a cap, which hid his ears and tail without much discomfort.

He found out that Chris liked to write music, which was something he didn’t know about his roommate until the wolf hybrid brought it up when Felix started talking about how he liked to sing. Woojin had just stared at his friend, a little hurt that Chris had never mentioned this particular hobby of his to Woojin.

No one brought up the fact that Minho recognized Felix. No one mentioned that Minho had come from the nursery. No one commented on the fact that this meant Chris, Felix and Minho were all bred, raised and trained for a specific task. No one dared talk about what particular task Minho had been trained for.

Felix helped Woojin clear the table as Chris chatted with Minho and Hyunjin in the living room. While everyone got along fairly well, there was some unknown tension in the air that Woojin couldn’t name.

“Minho, I packed some leftovers in the fridge for you,” Woojin called over. “Make sure you take it with you for breakfast or lunch or whatever.”

“Ah, thank you hyung,” Minho called back. He was relaxing more and more as the night progressed, smiling and laughing along with the others. He turned and grinned at the elder, his eyes turning up, and for the first time Woojin noticed how even Minho’s smile, with how it turned up at the corners, was cat like. “When do you want us to leave?”

“You can stay as long as you want,” Woojin put the dirty pan in the sink and filled it with hot, soapy water to soak before going to join the others. “We’re off tomorrow so it’s whenever you need to go.”

“I have work tomorrow but not until noon.” Minho said with a nod. Woojin sat on the floor across from the couch, next to Chris. Felix, Minho and Hyunjin were sitting on the couch, but Woojin wasn’t upset with having to sit on the second hand rug he found at a thrift shop. He kinda liked sitting next to Chris anyway. The hybrid was warm.

“I have an opening shift…” Hyunjin groaned, letting his head fall onto Felix’s shoulder causing the freckled boy to giggle. In the time they were together, it seemed like Felix and Hyunjin had hit it off instantly, becoming close friends in a single evening. Woojin smiled to himself at the thought - he was happy for them. He hadn’t known either very long, but he knew having the other was good for them. Especially since they now lived right down the hall from each other.

“Where do you work?” Felix asked, leaning into Hyunjin’s side some.

“I work at a cafe in town,” Hyunjin closed his eyes. “I actually really love it, I just hate opening shift because I have to be there at five in the morning.”

“Are they hiring?” Felix asked, partially as a joke and Hyunjin perked up.

“Yeah, actually they are,” He grinned brightly. “Oh my god Lix we can be coworkers and bitch about customers together.”

“Please?” Felix pretended to cry, his eyes sparkling.

“Yes! I’ll ask tomorrow,” Hyunjin cheered, pulling Felix into a hug. “Ah fuck yeah this is gonna make things so much better. I’m so excited!”

“Hey hyung, can I talk to you?” Minho asked quietly, sliding to sit next to Woojin as Hyunjin and Felix squealed on the couch.

“Yeah, what’s up?”

“Somewhere private?”

“Let’s go to the bedroom,” Woojin stood and nodded to Chris to keep an eye on the two younger boys who were giggling to each other. They slipped away and Woojin closed the door behind them “What’s wrong Minho?”

“I just… Do you know what Felix was trained for?” he asked quickly, his face stoney, Woojin furrowed his brows faintly.

“Um, I think he said it was to be… cute and pleasant or something? He said he was supposed to be a pet.”

“Oh thank god…” Minho breathed, sitting heavily on the edge of the bed.

“Why?” Woojin sat next to him. He rubbed Minho’s back gently, feeling the hybrid’s lungs pumping rapidly.

“I just… I don’t know what I would have done if he was in the same program as me,” Minho sounded close to tears. “I… I could never look at him the same way…”

“How many programs were there? Chris said he was trained to be a service companion. To detect panic attacks and stuff.”

“Him too? What are the odds…” Minho laughed, but there was no humor behind it. “There were a few different programs, but the main ones were housepets like Lix, service companions like Chris hyung, police work, and sex work. Like me.”

“Minho-” Woojin felt the air knocked out of him. He knew the dirty side of Hybrids - who didn’t? There was an entire category of hybrid porn on every single site on the internet. There were lounges in the shady part of the city where you could buy an hour with one of the hybrids there. No one considered it prositution because the hybrids weren’t citizens and while people have tried to argue that it’s beastiality, others argued back that they were sentient, therefore it was morally fine.

“I was bought the day I finished my training,” Minho sighed, sounding resigned. “They brought me to this room in the back of a bar and threw some clothes at me and told me to get ready… it was like that for about three years before I…”

“You don’t have to-”

“I need to,” Minho sniffed, and Woojin realized he was about to cry. “I need to get this out… I’ve been holding this in for years and it’s been eating away at me… I don’t know who else to go to because anyone else would get me arrested.”

“You can tell me anything,” Woojin said softly, pulling Minho closer to his chest. The younger boy curled into Woojin’s warmth, almost as if his body moved without him meaning to. “I won’t judge you for anything.”

“Hyung… hyung I killed someone. I’m a murderer.” Minho whispered, tears spilling from his eyes. Woojin felt his heart drop, but didn’t move away from the hybrid. He ran his hand up and down Minho’s arm, hoping that it would comfort him. He knew how much pets comforted Chris, and cats liked being pet just as much as dogs, right?

“What happened baby?” Woojin asked softly, hoping to show his support.

“He… He kept hurting me,” Minh hiccuped through his sobs. “He wouldn’t stop and I- I just snapped. I lashed out and ripped his throat out with my claws… I panicked and took his jacket because I was wearing some slutty lingerie. I ran away and left the body in the room… I realized after about an hour of running that his wallet was in the pocket of his jacket. I took the cash and his card… went to the atm and took as much cash as I could before snapping it in half and tossing the entire wallet. I skipped town and came here… I got some clothing at a thrift shop and managed to get this apartment with the cash. I started working to survive… I don’t make a whole lot but it’s enough to keep my home and eat at least once a day… then I ran into Hyunjin… he was a fucking mess. He had run away from his school and had literally nothing. I couldn't just leave him so I brought him back and have been taking care of him. It’s been rough because I barely kept my head above water on my own… which is why I’ve been giving him all my food even when it leaves me with nothing…”

“Oh Minho… you’re so strong,” Woojin whispered, his eyes watering. “You’ve gone through so much… you didn’t murder anyone. It was self defense, okay? Would you have done it if he hadn’t been hurting you?”

“Of course not!”

“Exactly. You’re not a bad person,” Woojin let the tears fall as Minho wrapped his arms around the elder’s waist and buried his face in the human’s chest as he sobbed. “God Minho, you’re not bad.”

“I don’t know what I’m doing anymore,” He sobbed. “I feel like such a failure… I was bred to be fucked but now it scares me so much… I can’t even watch a fucking sex scene in a movie without tensing up.”

“You’re alright Minnie,” Woojin hummed, running his fingers through Minho’s hair. “It’s okay. You’re safe now. You have me and Chris and Hyunjin and Felix now… you aren’t alone.”

Minho didn’t respond. He poured everything he had been holding in for almost two years out all at once. Woojin let him cry, rubbing his back and whispering comfort to him in hopes of offering some support. As Minho’s sobs softened, a knock came from the door.

“Hyungs?” Hyunjin poked his head in and frowned at the sight that awaited him.

“Jinnie,” Woojin whispered. He tried not to startle Minho, but the hybrid looked up anyway. “What’s wrong?”

“We should be getting home,” he said, his expressive eyes screaming sadness. “I was looking for Minho hyung…”

“Right, let’s get you to bed.” Minho sniffed, rubbing his eyes roughly as he stood.

“Hyunjin, go say bye to Felix and Chris,” Woojin said quickly. “Minho, wait a second.”

“Alright…” Hyunjin closed the door, leaving Minho and Woojin alone again.

“What’s up hyung?” Minho asked, trying his hardest to sound like he hadn’t just been crying and failing miserably.

“If you ever need anything, please come find me,” He said, standing and pulling Minho up with him. He tugged the hybrid into a hug, tucking his cheek against his shoulder. “I’ll always be here for you, okay? You don’t have to be afraid around me. I’m so proud of you.”

“Thank you…” Minho whispered, holding back tears again. “I… I have to go-”

“Come find me later, yeah? We can talk about anything you want whenever you want.”

“Thank you hyung, I mean it.” Minho sniffed again, offering Woojin a smile that warmed the older boy’s chest.

“Don’t forget your food, okay?” Woojin gave him an extra squeeze before letting Minho go.

“Right,” Minho took a deep breath. “Same time tomorrow?”

“I sure hope so.” Woojin smiled brightly, causing Minho to chuckle a little.

“Sounds good.”



“Felix asleep?” Woojin asked as Chris slid into bed with him.

“Yeah, I don’t think he realized how tired he was,” The wolf hybrid said, snuggling into Woojin’s warmth under the covers. “He almost fell asleep in the bath.”

“I’m glad he’s comfortable,” Woojin sighed, pulling Chris closer to him. There was something about having the other boy close that put his mind at ease. “I was worried it would take him a while to settle in.”

“He’s a good kid,” Chris sighed, his body melting against Woojin’s. He fit against the human so perfectly. “I hate what he went through, but I’m glad he came to us…”

“Me too,” Woojin felt his lips ghosting against Chris’ bare shoulder blade. “It feels like… we were supposed to meet him. Him, Minho and Hyunjin, Seungmin and Jeongin, Binnie and Jisung… it’s like we were all supposed to get together somehow…”

“Like fate.” Chris breathed, his eyes falling shut.

“Yeah, exactly like fate,” Woojin felt his ears heat up. Chris felt hot in his arms, like the hybrid’s skin was on fire. “Just like meeting you.”

“What?” Chris blinked and turned around, his nose almost touching Woojin’s.

“Meeting you was fate too,” Woojin smiled even though Chris probably couldn’t see it in the dark. “I’m glad I met you.”

“You have the prettiest smile in the world.” Chris wiggled so he could press his thumb against Woojin’s lips.

“You can see?”

“I can’t see in complete darkness, but my vision is definitely better than yours,” Chris laughed. He could feel Woojin’s breath against the pad of his thumb and his heart skipped a beat. “Though even if I wasn’t a hybrid I’d probably have better eyes than you. You need to get glasses.”

“I do not!” Woojin whisper-yelled despite his laughter.

“Do too,” Chris retaliated, pressing his thumb against Woojin’s lower lip, making the human part his mouth a little. Woojin sucked in a breath at the feeling, his heart fluttering at the gesture. “Wooj-”

Woojin didn’t think, because if he did he absolutely would have panicked. He pressed his lips firmly against Chris’ thumb, kissing it gently. He could feel how the blond suddenly got a few degrees warmer against him. He smirked against Chris’ thumb, knowing he had gotten the other to blush.

“Woojin…”

“Yeah?”

Chris didn’t answer. He pulled his thumb away and Woojin began to panic. Had he gone too far? Was he reading too much into Chris’ touches? Did he just ruin the best thing that had ever come into his life-

Chris pressed his lips against Woojin’s softly, breaking the older boy from his thoughts. He pulled back just a fraction before Woojin chased after him, kissing him again equally as gentle.

“Good night.” Chris finally whispered, after another handful of soft kisses.

“Night Chris.” Woojin’s face was on fire, and his heart felt like it was going to give out, but he was smiling brightly. Chris tucked himself into Woojin’s arms, as he did every night, as quickly fell asleep, leaving Woojin to relive the ghost feeling of the hybrid’s lips on his.

Chapter Text

“Hey guys!” Woojin grinned as two familiar faces came into the shop. It had been only a few days since Jeongin and Seungmin last came in to hang out and waste time, and it was seeming a little dead in the store without their loud voices bouncing off the walls.

“Hyung! We had a great idea!” Jeongin jumped into Woojin’s arms, wrapping his arms around the elder’s waist as he let Woojin catch him fully.

“What’s that Innie?” He grinned, setting the boy down and ruffling his hair, right between his ears.

“Well, Minni hyung can technically work even if I can’t,” He said easily, not noticing Woojin’s sudden slight frown. Sometimes Woojin almost forgot about the laws that shackle the hybrid population. “And we were thinking! If he applies for me to be a service companion like Chris hyung, I’ll be allowed to stay with him at the shop! And if I happen to help out here and there, it’s not like I’m actually working, you know?”

“And we can use Jeonginnie’s cute factor to draw in new customers,” Seungmin chimed in, grinning wide. “We can stand out front and hand out flyers and being new people into the shop!”

“And they can’t do anything about me being here cuz we’ll get the proper paperwork and everything.” Jeongin grinned proudly.

“You really thought this through, huh?”

“Well, we wanna help out more,” Seungmin deflated a little. “I know you guys are working your assess off to pay for rent and stuff, and you were telling us about your neighbors the last time we were here and I wanted to do something.”

“Aw, Minnie you don’t have to-”

“But I want to,” Seungmin cut him off a frown. “Hyung, you don’t have to do everything alone.”

“I-”

“Let him help if he wants Wooj.” Chris said softly, resting his head on Woojin’s shoulder. Neither addressed their relationship after their shared kisses in bed, almost two weeks ago, but they weren’t unhappy. In fact, even without confirmation, they were the happiest they had ever been. Sure, they didn’t label anything, and they didn’t move past kissing and one instance of grinding that left them both awkwardly bothered when Felix knocked on their door, but they were happy, and that’s what mattered.

“I don’t know how comfortable I’d be taking your money though,” Woojin frowned a little at Seungmin’s puppy eyes. “If you’re working to earn it, you should spend it on what you want for yourself, not on me-”

“Please?” Seungmin’s lower lip trembled slightly and Woojin felt his resolve crumbling quickly. “Besides, I already get a good allowance from my parents, and I’ve been looking through my closet for things to sell like Felix did. I have so many stupidly expensive things that I’m literally never going to wear again and they’re taking up too much space.”

“We were talking about getting you a better apartment but Seumgin hyung said you’d never let us.” Jeongin said, hopping up to sit on the counter easily. Woojin choked on his own spit, whirling around to stare at the fox hybrid that was now eye to eye with him.

“What-” he coughed, resting his hands on his knees as he died. Chris chuckled as he patted the human on the back.

“That’s really sweet, but that’s too much for us to accept.” The wolf hybrid said with an apologetic smile. Seungmin just pouted but sighed.

“I figured, but I’d still do it…”

“Thanks for thinking of us Minnie.” Woojin smiled once he finally able to breathe again,

“You guys work too hard.” He pouted, crossing his arms.

“Yeah, well-” Just then he was cut off by his phone ringing. Confused, he pulled it out and saw Minho was calling him. Why was Minho calling him in the middle of the day? “Minho? Everything alright?”

“Someone’s in your apartment.” He whispered. Woojin felt his heart stop.

“It’s probably just Felix-”

“Not Felix,” Minho cut him off. “Smells human. Middle aged at least. Smells like alcohol and smoke. He cracked the front door open.” For the first time, Woojin heard Minho sound afraid.

“Oh fuck- Don’t do anything. I’m on my way,” Wojin said quickly, ignoring the questioning looks from the others. “I have to go-”

“What’s wrong?” Chris asked, trying to follow Woojin out the door. The human panicked, the only thing on his mind was how much danger the blond would be in if he went to the apartment with him. He didn’t think before acting and pushed Chris back, so hard that he would have hit the ground if Seungmin hadn’t been right behind him.

“Stay here,” Woojin said, his panic growing. “I’ll be right back-”

“What’s going on?” Changbin came out from the back curtain. He had heard Woojin raising his voice, which was something he never thought would happen.

“I have to go.” Woojin said before running from the store. He could hear his friends shouting after him, but the blood roaring in his ears was enough to block most of it out. He ran as fast as he could, jumping around pedestrians walking on the sidewalk and ignoring their angry yells as he bumped into them. The only thing on his mind was getting to the apartment.

Part of him knew he should call the police, but if they got involved there was the chance they’d find out about Chris and take him away. And if he let this man go without doing anything, he could come back and find Chris and Felix and get them taken away.

Woojin had just started to find his family. He wasn’t going to let anything happen to them.

He burst through the door leading to his floor, panting and gasping for breathe. There, three doors down on the right was his apartment - the door wide open. His heart was pounding as he rushed forward, his mind only on protecting Chris and Felix.

“Hey!” he shouted, seeing the figure of a man in the bedroom. The living room was trashed, as was the kitchen. Woojin couldn’t even imagine how much it would cost to fix everything.

“You!” The man spun around. He was visibly drunk - eyes glassy and swaying from side to side. His hair was wild and his shirt mostly unbuttoned to show random scars across his body. He lurched towards Woojin, who jumped to the side. “Give me back what’s mine!”

“You broke into my fucking apartment!” Woojin yelled.

“You stole my fuckin bitch!”

“I should call the cops on you-”

“I know you won’t,” The man grinned, and Woojin felt his stomach sink. “You have my hybrid. I have all the paperwork, and if you call the cops I’ll have you arrested for theft! You can’t do shit-”

The man was cut off when Woojin’s fist connected with his nose. He screamed as blood started gushing down his face, but that wasn’t enough to make him stop. He instantly threw himself at Woojin, his fists trying to make contact with any part of the boy’s body. Woojin tried to fight back, but the man was easily fifty pounds heavier and half a foot taller.

Woojin grabbed the man’s upper arms and used his weight to push him back. He clipped the edge of the bed and tripped, so the man was under Woojin. He used this to his advantage by landing a few blows of his own.

The man yelled and kicked Woojin off him, causing him to tumble back and slam his tailbone on the hard wooden floor. Before Woojin could gather his bearings, the man was on him again. He managed to block a few of the hits, but most of them landed either on his ribs or face. He could feel his skin stinging from the blows but he couldn’t give up.

Just as he thought he was getting the upper hand in the tussle, the man took his head and slammed it into the corner of the bed frame. Woojin’s vision went white and heat started gushing down his temple into his mouth. The taste of the metal and the sudden blinding pain made his stomach lurch, and he threw up all over the man.

“You killed him!” A voice screamed from the doorway. Woojin’s head hurt too badly to think about who it was. He wanted to move, his he felt frozen as pain radiated through his body. The man backed away from Woojin’s still body.

“N-no! I didn’t mean to- to kill-”

“I’m calling the police! Oh my god you murdered him!” The voice called again, sounding hysterical. The man sprinted from the apartment, leaving Woojin and the voice alone. He felt warmth by his side as cool fingers touched his face. “Fuck, hyung please open your eyes. You’re okay, he’s gone.”

“Jin?” He muttered, his eyes finally focusing on Hyunjin, who had tears streaming down his face.

“Oh thank god,” he sobbed. “I was hoping to scare that guy off but I was so scared he actually killed you-”

“I’m alright,” Woojin tried to sit up, only for the room to spin. “Fuck, my head hurts though.”

“No fucking shit!” Hyunjin shouted, causing Woojin to wince. The pain in his head spiked, as if the boy had shoved a nail through his skull. “Fuck, sorry… but seriously hyung, He tried to bash your head in! You need to go to the hospital-”

“No,” Woojin said instantly, forcing himself to sit up properly. “No hospital… can’t afford it…”

“Hyung, this is serious-”

“So am I,” Woojin closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to calm his rolling stomach. The last thing he needed was to throw up again. “I’ll be fine. I’ve dealt with head trauma before. I know how to handle a concussion.”

“Hyung-”

“Jesus fuck, what happened-Hyunjin?” Minho walked into the room, his nose curled from the smell of blood and bile. “I told you to stay in the apartment! What are you doing here?”

“I heard Woojin hyung yelling,” Hyunjin defended himself weakly. “I… I got scared he was in trouble.”

“And what would you have done, huh?” Minho fired back, narrowing his eyes as he grabbed a slightly damp towel from the back of the door that Woojin had used during that morning’s shower and started dabbing the human’s face gently. “What if whoever broke in had a gun? Ot what if it had been a bunch of people? You would have both been killed and I would have been left all alone again-” He cut himself off abruptly, blinking back tears as he continued to dab at the blood.

“I’m sorry hyung,” Hyunjin sniffed, tears soaking into his shirt again. “I was just… I couldn’t just sit there and listen to Woojin hyung get hurt-”

“You shouldn’t have put yourself in danger,” Woojin said, his voice a little faint. “Thank you for coming to help me, but I’d rather have actually been killed than have anything happen to you-” he cut off at a particularly harsh touch from Minho.

“You shouldn’t talk about your life so casually hyung,” The cat said stiffly. “Life is precious… you shouldn’t want to throw yours away so easily…”

“I’m sorry Minho, you’re right,” Woojin felt dizzy. “I need… I need Chris… need to make sure he’s okay-”

“Alright hyung, can you stand? We’ll take you to Chris hyung okay?” Hyunjin asked, helping Woojin to his feet. Minho grabbed one of the hoodies that Chris had claimed - one of the few that had a zipper - and helped Woojin put it on. He pulled the hood up to cover the blood he hadn’t been able to clean off.

“The record shop,” Woojin leaned heavily on Minho. “In the alley by the cafe…”

“Let’s go hyung.”



“It’s been an hour,” Chris was pacing frantically in the back room. As soon as Woojin raced out, he tried to follow but Changbin held him back. He told the blond if there was a reason for Woojin to tell him to stay, it was probably a good one. “I just- what if something happened to him?”

“Like what?” Jisung asked, watching Chris pace.

“Anything,” His eyes were starting to burn. “He could have been hit by a car, or stabbed by a mugger, or kidnapped, or-”

“Hyung, breathe.” Changbin said firmly. Chris took a deep breath, tears finally slipping down his cheeks.

“I can’t lose him…” He whispered, covering his face with his hands. His head shot up when the bell over the door rang and almost threw up when the scent of Woojin and blood and Woojin’s blood hit his sensitive nose.

“Shit-” Jisung was the first to react, rushing forward to help the two strangers who were holding Woojin up carry the mostly unconscious boy into the shop.

“Hyunjin?” Seungmin gasped, staring at his friend.

“Fuck, Seungmin? Jeongin?” he asked as Jisung and Minho brought Woojin up to the apartment, Chris following close behind them. “Ch-Changbin hyung?”

“What are you doing here?” Seungmin asked. Changbin quickly moved to change the sign in the window before ushering everyone up the stairs.

“I- it’s a long story.”

“What happened to hyung?” Jeongin asked, his nose twitching.

“Someone-” Minho started to answer when they heard banging coming from the front door. Woojin started panicking - in his haze, he thought that the man had found him and was going to take Chris away from him.

“I’ll get it.” Changbin said quickly. “There’s a first aid kit under the sink.”

Chris nodded and rushed to the bathroom, grabbing the heavily packed kit and running back to the couch where Woojin was lying down. Someone had taken off the hoodie and Chris thought he was going to be sick. There was already dense bruising along Woojin’s temple, surrounding a nasty looking gash right above his eyebrow. He could see where there were streaks of blood, and guessed either Minho or Hyunjin tried to wipe the crimson away before bringing him to the shop.

“Idiot…” Chris whispered, his tears splashing on Woojin’s skin as he tried to clean up the blood that had been missed. Woojin didn’t open his eyes, but Chris watched his hand feel around blindly until it came in contact with his own. Woojin’s fingers laced through Chris’ and it was as if all the tension drained from the human’s body.

“I’ll be alright,” He whispered, giving Chris’ hand a light squeeze. “It’s just the shock… I’ll be alright soon.”

“You idiot.” Chris whispered again, crying even harder. He held Woojin’s hand tightly and brought it up to his lips. He kissed the back of Woojin’s hand gently, letting his lips ghost over the warm skin a moment before pulling again.

“Hyung! I smell blood, what’s-” Felix burst through the apartment door, Changbin close behind him.

“Shush! He has a headache.” Changbin hissed and Felix winced, looking at Woojin with wide eyes.

“Wh-what happened?” He whimpered, looking close to tears.

“Someone broke into the apartment,” Woojin said, his voice a little stronger than it had been before. “I was scared they’d try to get Chris… he bashed my head into the bed frame but ran away cuz he thought he killed me…”

“Who was it?” Jeongin asked, looking scared. His ears were pressed down and his tail was twitching anxiously. Seungmin saw his friend’s distress and started running his fingers through the hybrid’s dusty bangs.

“I think… I think it was…” Woojin trailed off, looking nervously at Chris. The blond’s nose twitched again. Now that the scent of blood was gone, there was something horrifyingly familiar along with the comforting scent that was Woojin. His face paled, and Woojin felt like crying.

“Oh god-” Chris thought he was going to throw up, even worse than before. He could feel his stomach rolling dangerously.

“I think he was Chris’ owner.” Woojin whispered, looking down.

Chris bolted to the bathroom and threw up what was left of his lunch. After everything he had done to get away, he had been found.

And his owner wasn’t going to stop until Chris was his again.

Chapter Text

“You know, I’ve been meaning to ask you,” Changbin started as he began packing up the first aid kit. He had patched Woojin up with Chris’ help - the hybrid had a lot of experience with first aid and head trauma apparently - while Felix helped clean up the packaging from the bandages now adorning Woojin’s body. “Why did you come to the shop the day you were being chased? Not that I’m upset or anything - in fact, I’m glad you came here instead of anywhere else. I just… I dunno, I just guess if I were in your position a place I had only been to once wouldn’t be my first thought, you know?”

“Ah, well I was already heading here anyway,” Felix responded easily. “I… the first time I came in, I wanted to put that CD on hold because I knew it was the one that played at the nursery. The thing is, I honestly really liked being there. I had a lot of friends and we got to play a lot and I was groomed a lot… I guess I was nostalgic for that stability after running away and coming to this city. That day, I was freaking out because I was thinking about the nursery and I decided I didn’t want to be connected to it anymore. They were the reason I was in this position in the first place, you know? And I guess I was just really angry about this whole situation, so hearing the music wouldn’t have been nostalgic, it would have made me even madder, so I was on my way to cancel my hold when those men saw me.”

“I get that,” Changbin hummed as the two walked to the bathroom. Changbin could hear Jisung, Hyunjin, Seungmin and Jeongin in the squirrel hybrid’s room but didn’t want to pry on their conversation. Minho, Chris and Woojin were in Changbin’s room, getting the human comfortable for the evening. “I used to have this… I don’t want to call it a trigger because I don’t think that’s what this is, but whenever I see masquarade masks I get so fucking mad that I want to- to punch something.”

“Why masks?” Felix questioned, sitting on the edge of the tub as Changbin struggled to fit the first aid kit back under the sink.

“My parents used to throw all these charity galas that I was forced to go to,” He explained, closing the cabinet door but remaining crouched. “They thought masquerdes were the coolest fucking thing ever because you could show off how fucking rich you were with your masks. They’d have themed galas and everyone would spend a fuck ton on a new mask to match the theme and I wanted to gouge my eyes out every time they hosted one because being their son, I had to be present from the time the first guest arrived to the time the last guest left, so I was stuck in uncomfortable suit, wearing a mask worth more than my apartment, for hours and hour - and this happened at least once a month. It was disgusting, and even now just seeing a mask makes me so- so angry, but also a little scared because it reminds me of how trapped I was when I still lived with my parents.”

“I’m so sorry hyung,” Felix whispered, his throat tight. “That must have been awful.”

“It’s nothing compared to what you and Chris hyung have been through.” He muttered, his ears flushing

“Just because we’ve been through shit doesn’t mean your past is any less painful,” Felix said solemnly, sounding much too serious for Changbin’s taste. “One person’s suffering doesn’t lessen another’s.”

“Where did you learn that from?”

“Myself, I guess,” Felix sighed, his hand subconsciously running through his bangs. Changbin could see the freckled boy’s small fingers hesitate a moment over the stumps of where his ears once were. “I hate my owner, don’t get me wrong, but I know there was something else under everything. He has some anger management issues, which is a serious thing, so I guess I don’t entirely blame him for how he treated me. He couldn’t help but take his anger out... It also didn’t help that he was raised by parents who had the same mentality… Ah, I’ve gotten off topic. What I’m saying is, my being hurt doesn’t diminish the fact that your parents used you as something to show off. You have every right to be upset and hurt and stuff, even if it’s been years.”

“And I’m supposed to be the hyung?” Changbin let out a chuckle as he stood, his knees cracking loudly. “I guess you’re right. I just… If I tell myself my problems aren’t as bad as other people’s, I guess I convince myself that everything is alright, if that makes sense.”

“It does,” Felix smiled and stood, going over to the older boy. “But you don’t have to go through everything alone. I know you have Jisung, but you don’t seem like the kind of guy who’d easily talk about stuff to someone younger.”

“I try not to bring him down,” The human admitted with a lopsided smirk. He wouldn’t meet Felix’s eyes. “He’s always so… happy. I don’t want to make him upset with stupid things that happened forever ago.”

“He’s a lot stronger than you give him credit for,” Felix said, hugging Changbin softly. Changbin froze for a second before returning the hug. There was something so soothing about holding Felix, like the boy’s warmth was making the darkness in him leave. “And so are you. You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for.”

“It’s just stupid rich people problems,” Changbin frowned, looking away. “I don’t… I don’t want to…”

“Hey hyung, it’s alright,” Felix said softly. “Wanna go make some food? If we’re quiet, we can eat before anyone comes and takes it.”

“Sure, sounds good.” Changbin let himself smile a little as the freckled boy tugged him towards the small kitchen.



“Hyunjin, what the fuck are you doing here?” Seungin asked. Once the excitement in the living room died down, Seungmin finally realized who the new person in the apartment was. It took him a second to recognize his friend seeing how his hair was much longer than the last time he had seen him, and he wasn’t used to seeing Hyunjin crying, but that was his friend alright - no doubt about it.

Once Minho helped Chris take Woojin to Changbin’s bedroom, Seungmin grabbed Jeongin and Hyunjin - one in each hand - and followed Jisung to his room to interrogate the other boy.

Hyunjin looked at his hands and shrugged a little, not looking at Seungmin. Jeongin and Jisung were sitting up by the pillows while the humans sat near the end. There was just enough room for them, seeing how the hybrids were basically in each other’s lap.

“Um… good to see you too?” Hyunjin laughed awkwardly but Seungmin wasn’t amused.

“Do your parents know you’re in the city?”

“Well… about that…”

“HYUNJIN-”

“I couldn’t do it anymore!” Hyunjin shrank back a little. “I just… I fucking hated it there and my parents threatened to disown me if I didn’t go and get good grades and I just- I just couldn’t take one more fucking day there.”

“So you what? Ran away?”

“Exactly,” Hyunjin sighed. Jisung sensed the human was upset and snuggled up to his side, his tail wrapping around his front for him to hold as Hyunjin leaned into his warmth. “I packed my stuff a bag at a time and hid it in the bushes by the back entrance. After a few days I snuck out and grabbed my shit and ran. I took the first bus and took it as far as I could go. I ended up here…”

“Where did you stay?” Seungmin looked like he had a thousand other questions that he didn’t know how to ask. “I know this part of town is cheap but you couldn’t have had that much cash on you when you ran…”

“I, uh, slept in a halfway house for the first two nights,” Hyunjin was picking at the loose string on his shirt. “They couldn’t let me stay a third night so I made a little makeshift tent out of an old tarp I found in the trash and used my bags as a bed. Thankfully Minho hyung found me the next morning.”

“He found you?”

“He was taking the trash out for the building I was in the alley for,” Hyunjin smiled softly, his eyes shining a little. “I think he was going to ignore me at first, which was what I was kinda hoping he would do because then he wouldn’t turn me into the cops for being homeless but then he… I honestly don’t know why he helped me. He told he to wait until three when he got off, and since I had nothing better to do, I waited. He brought me back to his apartment and let me stay with him. I couldn’t pay rent or anything, but I cleaned the place when he was working, which seemed to make him happy.”

“How long have you been staying with Minho hyung?” Jeongin asked. He had been listening closely because he was friends with Hyunjin a well, but hadn’t spoken up until then. Hyunjin glanced back at him before smiling awkwardly again.

“Uh, it’s been… almost a month?” he said quietly.

“A MONTH?” Seungmin shouted, causing Hyunjin to chuckle quietly.

“Yeah, maybe a little less.”

“And you never told me? Never thought to call me?” Seungmin looked close to tears. “I could have- have snuck you money or food or clothes or something! I could have helped but you didn’t-”

“I wanted to,” Hyunji cut him off, his eyes wide. He reached out and took Seungmin’s hands. “I swear I wanted to Min. I just… I was too scared you would have told someone who would have told my parents. It’s not that I don’t trust you, I just couldn’t risk something accidentally slipping out… you understand, right?”

Seungmin was silent. Hyunjin started tearing up. His best friend - his only friend, really, hates him now doesn’t he? He betrayed Seungmin. Hyunjin started to pull his hand away when Seungmin quickly laced their fingers together, stopping him from pulling away.

“I understand,” He said softly, smiling at Hyunjin. The other boy instantly relaxed, almost in tears as Seungmin gave his hand a squeeze. “I’m still a little mad that you never called me but I get it.”

“Thank you Minnie.” Hyunjin whispered, tears rolling down his cheeks. “God, I’ve been so lonely… I love Minho hyung but he’s out of the house so much and I’ve been all alone and I just- I don’t know what I would do without you too…”

“You don’t have to be alone anymore Jinnie,” Seungmin pulled the taller boy into a hug. Hyunjin started sobbing into his shoulder as Jisung rubbed his back.
After a few moments, Hyunjin finally started so calm down as he straightened back up again. Jeongin handed him the box of tissues that had been on the bedside table and Hyunjin blew his nose loudly.

“Hyunjin hyung,” Jeongin said softly. “What was so bad about this school?”

“It’s full of prissy assholes,” Hyunjin snapped, his face twisting in frustration. “They all flaunt their money like it’s a competition and it pissed me off so much. I couldn’t stand it! They all tried to- to suck up to me because I have more money than them and it was awful because they were all so fake! And the worst part was that I don’t even want to study business! My parents want me to learn fucking BUSINESS because they want me to keep scamming people into thinking we’re charitable and shit. I don’t want to be like them… every single day I was in those classes… I felt a little piece of me dying.”

“What do you want to do then?” Jisung asked gently.

“Huh?”

“Instead of business? What do you want to do?”

“I want to… I want to be a dancer,” Hyunjin said with a sad smile. “I just… feel so free when I’m dancing, but it was always a hobby my parents never really approved of because according to them I should have been spending my time better… I just, I don’t want to spent the rest of my life doing something I can’t fucking stand.”

“I’m proud of you,” Jisung pulled Hyunjin into a hug. “I know how scary it is to go against what you’re expected to do. Hybrids like me are expected to lay down and roll over and do whatever we’re told, so when Binnie hyung offered me a chance to get out of that… I was scared as hell. I couldn’t help but stress over what would happen if I ever got caught, but after a while I realized it was worth the risk. I was living with my best friend, working and goofing off and living my life. Right now you might be scared, but it’s never a bad thing to follow your dreams. Besides, life is a miracle. We shouldn’t dread waking up.”

“That’s exactly why I left,” Hyunjin closed his eyes. “I couldn’t stand the fact that I literally despised waking up anymore. There were a few times I considered taking a bunch of pills or something to make myself sick so I could spend the day in the infirmary or get sent home… I wanted to so badly but I was too scared…”

“Don’t worry Hyunjin, you’re safe with us,” Seungmin hugged his friend firmly. “I’ll make sure your parents don’t find out, and if you need anything please just tell me, okay?”

“I will.” He smiled.

“Wait, if you’re living with Minho hyung, that means you’re the ones Chris hyung and Woojin hyung have been feeding right?” Jeognin asked, blinking wide eyes at the older boy. Hyunjin flushed and looked away.

“Uh, yeah,” He said almost sheepishly. “I didn’t know Minho hyung had been giving me all his food until Chris hyung called him out and I just… I felt so guilty. Thankfully we all have dinner together and they send us home with two extra servings for lunch the next day.”

“Let me buy you guys groceries.” Seungmin said suddenly, taking both of Hyunjin’s hands.

“What? That’s too much-”

“Please? Woojin hyung won’t let me help him pay for anything and I know he stresses about money. I just really want to help you,” Seungmin begged. “I… I couldn’t help you before, so please let me help now. Besides, my parents won’t notice money missing. You know how they are. A couple hundred dollars means nothing to them.”

“Fucking rich people.” Hyunjin chuckled, causing Seungmin to grin.

“Fucking rich people,” He agreed. “So whenever I get the chance, I’m going to buy you as much food as you can fit in your apartment, okay?”

“You’ll have to talk to Minho hyung too, but I know there’s no stopping you when you get your mind on something.” He laughed again, smiling brightly at his friend. Seungmin laughed and tackled Hyunjin in a hug, causing both Jisung and Jeongin to be squished into the hug as well.

“I’m glad you’re back,” Seungmin whispered, hugging Hyunjin a little tighter. “I’ve missed you, idiot.”

“I’ve missed you too,” Hyunjin laughed through the sob he was desperately trying to hold back. He didn’t know when he turned into such a cry baby. “It’s good to be back Minnie.”



“How’s your head?” Chris asked softly, his face taut with worry. Woojin smiled at him and sighed.

“The same as it was two minutes ago,” He laughed gently. Sure, his head fucking pounded, but just being around Chris - knowing Chris was safe - made him feel so much better already. “You don’t have to worry about me. I’m more worried about you.”

“You- you idiot.” Chris choked out, tears finally streaming down his face. He had been strong for the entire time, but now that he knew Woojin was okay, he broke.

“I’m going to go lock up our apartments and come back,” Minho said quietly. “I don’t know how much damage was done to your door, but I can tell the landlord it was a random drunk and see if he’ll replace it.”

“Thanks Minho,” Woojin smiled. The action caused a spike of pain to shoot through his skull but he didn’t let it show. “Be safe, okay? Who knows if that asshole is hanging around.”

“Probably not,” The cat said easily. “Hyunjin was pretty convincing when he started shouting about you being dead… Even I believed him for a second.”

“Minho…” Woojin breathed, feeling like the hybrid had punched him in the stomach. His slumped shoulders weren’t anything new - of Woojin didn’t know better, he’d say Minho was as relaxed as he normally was - but it was his tail that gave him away. It was flicking violently back and forth, and Woojin knew what that meant. “I’m okay. We’re okay. Hurry back okay? Hyung won’t be able to sleep until you’re back safe.”

“Hyung isn’t supposed to be sleeping at all,” Minho snapped, but Woojin could hear the worry lacing his sharp words. “I’ll be quick. Want me to pick anything up while I’m out?”

“Um, painkillers,” Woojin said after a moment of thought. “And dark hair dye. Dark brown or black works.”

“Hair dye?” Minho questioned, both he and Chris sending Woojin matching looks of confusion.

“That fucker knows Chris is in the area,” Woojin said, his fingers digging into the fabric of the blanket tightly. “I can’t exactly move us right this second, but I can dye his hair so he’s less noticeable. As much as it pains me to say, bright blond is a little bit obvious babe.”

Woojin chuckled and reached over to run his fingers through Chris’ hair, being gentle around the hybrid’s ears. Chris closed his eyes and took a deep breath, his shoulders sagging some at the feeling.

“Alright hyung, painkillers and hair dye.” Minho nodded before leaving Woojin and Chris alone. Woojin heard him poking his head into the other room to ask the boys there if they wanted anything as well before turning his full attention to Chris, who was leaning into his touch more and more with each passing second.

“I’m glad you’re safe.” Chris whispered once Minho was gone. Woojin chuckled softly and gestured for the hybrid to lay next to him. Changbin’s bed wasn’t huge, but it was large enough to fit the two boys as long as they slightly overlapped.

Chris crawled under the blanket, resting his head on Woojin’s chest and wrapping his one arm around the human’s waist. He listened to the other’s heartbeat, savoring the sound. It never crossed his mind that there might come a time when he couldn’t hear Woojin’s heart beating anymore, and the sudden realization was beyond sobering.

“I wouldn’t leave you,” Woojin whispered, leaning down to kiss the top of Chris’ head. His hair tickled the older boy’s nose. “Especially not because of that asshole.”

“Please be careful,” Chris sniffed but refused to cry. He needed to be strong for Woojin now. “I know how far this- this bastard is willing to go… if he sees you again…”

“I won’t let him hurt me,” Woojin smiled and pulled Chris closer to him. “And I absolutely won’t let him lay a single fucking finger on you ever again, even if it kills me-”

“No!” Chris sat up abruptly, causing Woojin to wince at the sudden movement. “Fuck, sorry… just, don’t talk about your life like that. You’re so, so important to me… I can’t lose you. I don’t care what happens to me but please be okay.”

“We’ll take care of each other,” Woojin whispered, his eyes stinging a little. “Soon, all of this will blow over and we’ll get a nicer apartment together and we can kiss all we want and we don’t have to worry about psycho assholes or food or rent… just you and me and some fuzzy blankets.”

“That sounds nice.” Chris closed his eyes and leaned into Woojin’s warmth.

“Look at me?” Woojin asked, and Chris didn’t waste any time to fulfill his request. Woojin kissed his softly, smiling when he felt Chris sigh into his lips. There was something so calming about kissing Chris, as if the world around them dissolves for a moment. All that mattered was Chris’ lips again his and Chris’ smile against his and Chris’ body against his. Woojin wished he could hold the blond even closer, but despite how close they already were, he still tried to pull Chris closer which resulted in them bumping noses.

They pulled apart and laughed, staring at each other and smiling more. God, Chris’ eyes sparkled so brightly that Woojin’s breath caught in his throat.

“You’re so beautiful,” Woojin whispered against Chris’ throat. He could feel the hybrid take a sharp breath as he kissed along his jaw. He bit gently, causing Chris to gasp. Woojin wanted to hear all the sounds he could coax from Chris’ lips. “You’re ethereal Chris. I’ve never met anyone so amazing.”

“Woojin-”

“I can’t believe how lucky I am,” Woojin continued, leaving bites along Chris’ collarbones. His head was hurting again, and he knew the bandage around his head was starting to soak again but he needed to make sure Chris knew how loved he was. Chris was more important than anything in that moment. “I’ve never felt so comfortable with someone in my entire life before. It’s like the universe wanted us to meet.”

“Ah- Woojin,” Chris gasped again, a tear rolling down his cheek. No one had ever spoken so gently to him. No one had ever spoken so gently about him. Woojin was treating him like he was made of glass and Chris never wanted the feeling to end. Woojin’s lips against his skin felt like flame kissing him. Woojin’s fingers on his lower back felt like cables grounding him. Chris had never felt so alive before. “Fu- I love you.”

Woojin froze. He couldn’t remember the last time someone had loved him. His parents… they never said those three words to him - not that he could remember at least. Chris seemed to notice Woojin’s internal panic and tried to pull away, his golden eyes filling with fear.

“Fuck, Woojin I-”

“I love you too,” he whispered, his voice cracking. When was the last time he said those words to someone? Had he ever? Chris jumped a little, his mouth falling open. Woojin leaned in and kissed him again, feeling Chris’ fangs scrape against his lips but he didn’t care. In fact, it sent a spark down his spine. “I love you Chris.”

“I-” Chris couldn’t finish his sentence. He hid his face in Woojin’s neck so the human couldn’t see the tears running down his cheeks. Woojin could feel heat soaking into his shirt as he held the blond.

“It’s okay baby, I’ve got you.” He whispered with a soft smile. Just holding Chris in his arms made everything better.

A few minutes later Changbin poked his head in to see Chris sleeping peacefully in Woojin’s arms and frowned.

“Couldn’t you have waited until you weren’t concussed to be all gross and cute and shit? Jesus, I can see the blood from here how did Chris not notice?” He whispered as he walked in. Woojin gently placed Chris on the bed next to him and stood, stabilizing himself on the headboard when the room began to spin.

“Everyone settled in?” Woojin asked with a tired smile.

“The kids are all sleeping over in Jisung’s room, and Minho hyung is on his way back. I made him add my contact before he left so he could let me know he was okay.”

“Good,” Woojin let Changbin lead him to the bathroom. “I’m glad we’re all together.”

“Yeah… it’s all thanks to you, you know,” Changbin undid the bandage on Woojin’s head and carefully began dabbing the drying blood away with a washcloth. “None of us would have met anyone else without you.”

“I’m sure that’s not true.” Woojin tried not to wince.

“Well, if you weren’t at the shop when Felix came in, he would never have requested the CD because we would have been closed, but since you were here he came back when he was being chased. Seungmin and Jeongin would have come in, exposed Jisung and I would have flipped my shit at them for putting Sungie in danger but that didn’t happen because you and Chris were there to stop it from escalating. Minho hyung and Hyunjin would never have come to the apartment. It sucks that you had to get hurt, but Seungmin never would have been reunited with him friend. Minho might have died if you hadn’t stepped in and started helping him and stuff… and don’t even get me started on Chris hyung. We talk a lot when we’re working in the back together. He told me about how you literally saved his life. He would have died if you hadn’t helped him that night…”

“I just… want everyone to be happy.” Woojin smiled despite the headache that was coming back full force.

“Well, it’ll be rough but I think we’ll get there at some point,” the younger boy put a new bandage on and grabbed some pain killers from the cabinet. “Also, I know you don’t wanna go to the doctors, but I’ll personally pay for it myself if it means you get checked out. I’m really worried about you.”

“I’ll be fine Binnie,” Woojin chuckled as he threw back the little white pills. “Like I’ve said. I’ve had worse.”

“You said that… which worries me even more,” Changbin frowned. “Hyung, what happened to you? You’ve… never talked about your past all much.”

“Ah, that’s… it’s nothing,” Woojin smiled and stood. “It’s really nothing special. It’s basically like every other childhood. We should go to bed soon though. We’ve all had a long day. You can have the bed with Chris, I don’t mind the recliner.”

“Absolutely not,” Changbin looked at Woojin as if the older boy had suggested he sleep upside down in the closet like a bat. “Hyung, you literally had your head bashed against a bedframe today! I’m not going to let you sleep in a recliner.”

“But it’s your-”

“If you try to fight me I will pick you up and tie you down to the mattress.”

“Kinky-”

“BED!”

“Night Binnie,” Woojin grinned. “And thanks for everything.”

“Whatever,” He tried to frown but Woojin could see the corners of his mouth tugging up despite his best efforts. “Night hyung.”

Just as Woojin was about to open the bedroom door, Jisung’s door flew open to show a frantic looking Seungmin holding his phone to his chest.

“It’s my parents,” He whispered, his eyes wide and the phone away from his face so whoever was on the other end couldn’t hear him. “They think Jinnie’s missing.”

“What?” Woojin’s eyes widened as Hyunjin came to the door looking confused.

“What?” the boy in question asked again.

“Your parents reported you missing to the police,” Seungmin whispered, his voice getting a hysterical edge to it. “They asked my parents to ask me if I knew anything! They think you’re been kidnapped!”

“Oh shit…” Hyunjin paled. Woojin took a deep breath. This just got so, so much more complicated.

Chapter Text

It was all his fault. Chris shut his eyes tight and begged himself not to cry again. Fuck, it was all his fault and the chances of Woojin getting hurt because of him again were so high that it terrified him.

He had woken up when the human gently placed him aside. He heard Changbin talking and felt his stomach drop. How did he not notice the blood melding with Woojin’s familiar, comforting scent? Had he really been so focused on how Woojin’s lips felt on his skin that he completely missed the fact that the other boy was literally bleeding while kissing him?

Chris growled and bit his lip. His ear twitched as he listened to Changbin and Woojin go into the bathroom, but once that door closed he couldn’t make out what they were saying anymore.

It was all his fault Woojin got hurt. The only reason he was injured was because that bastard was looking for Chris. If he had never meet Woojin, the human wouldn’t be bleeding from a head wound. He wouldn’t have a possible concussion. He wouldn't have an extra mouth to feed and he wouldn’t have gotten fired.

Part of his brain argued that he wouldn’t have met Changbin and Jisung without Chris. That he’d still be stuck at that horrible diner job, without any friends, all alone, and he would never want Woojin to be in that situation again. He couldn’t help but blame himself though.

His claws dug into his side, right under his ribs. He hadn’t had the chance to trim them recently, so they were sharp - as canine and feline hybrid claws tended to be. He and Felix kept theirs trimmed, but Minho left his a little longer. He said it was helpful to have something sharp when working as a janitor.

He bit his lip harder when his claws cut into his pale skin. The pain shot through his torso but he didn’t stop. He dragged his claws down his side, sobbing silently into the pillow. He deserved this, his mind screamed at him. The pain in his side was nothing compared to the pain Woojin must be in.

The pain Woojin is experiencing because of him. Because it’s all Chris’ fault. He could feel the blood caking under his claws and soaking into the fabric of his black hoodie but he wanted more.

He deserved more.

He made another set of scratches, these hurting more than the first. Maybe it was because of how close they were to the first set - the skin sensitive and inflamed already. He wanted to sob loudly - get everything out - but he couldn’t. He couldn’t risk the younger boys hearing him, or worse - Woojin himself hearing.

Chris wanted the pain. Things had been too good for too long, and he needed to remind himself what he really was. He wasn’t a human. He wasn’t good.

He was a filthy hybrid, and Woojin would realize that sooner or later. Woojin would realize that Chris was worthless and send him to a shelter when he got bored or worse - send him back to his bastard of an owner. He started shaking at the thought. Woojin, driving him back to his old house. Woojin, shoving him towards the other man with a smile.

Woojin, driving away, leaving Chris behind.

He dug his nails in deep, the pain knocking him back to reality. He gasped loudly, covering his mouth with his free hand. He panted as he listened carefully. God, what would he do if he had to explain this to someone?

There were voices in the hallway. It sounded like… Seungmin? Chris frowned. Hadn’t Seungmin and the others gone to bed a while ago?

He shakily wiped his hand clean on his sweatshirt, thanking past him for only ever wearing black, and stumbled into the hallway.

Woojin’s eyes instantly shot to him, and Chris could see the worry that was already there flash to panic as he took in the hybrid’s red eyes. He moved to be closer to Chis, causing the blond to panic. What if he somehow knew Chris had hurt himself just by being near him? In his panic, Chris took a step away from Woojin, causing the human to freeze. They stared at each other for a second before Seungmin’s voice cut into their moment.

“What do I do?” he asked, in tears.

“Tell them that you don’t know but you’ll see if you can contact him in the morning,” Woojin said, glancing away from Chris and towards the boy. “Where do they think you are?”

“They’re out of the country right now,” Seungmin sounded jittery. “With Hyunjin’s parents. Apparently his parents had gone home early and saw all the messages from the school… I don’t know why it’s taken them so long to call me.”

“Just tell them you’ll try to call Hyunjin in the morning, and that you’ll keep an eye out.” Woojin repeated calmly. Seungmin nodded and put the phone back up to his ear.

“Yeah, sorry about that,” He said, glancing around nervously. “I was texting Jinnie about all this. I haven’t heard from him since he left for school…. Not really, we don’t call each other much…. Yeah, I’ll see if I can call him in the morning…. No, I really haven’t heard anything…. Yes, I’ll let you know if anything comes up… Goodnight mother.”

“So they finally noticed, huh?” Hyunjin huffed, looking down at his socked feet angrily. “Took them long enough.”

“Well, Minnie said something about them being out of the country-” Minho said before Hyunjin cut him off.

“They’ve always been like this,” He snapped, “They go… galavanting off for few months, forgetting they have responsibilities… then come back as if nothing happened. I bet if mother hadn’t gotten ill off of too much damn caviar again - because I can guarantee you that’s what happened - they wouldn’t have realized I ran away for at least another month. They’d wait until right before break to check in on me and realize I’ve been missing for weeks… god I can’t stand them-”

“That’s not true,” Woojin said gently, pulling Hyunjin into a hug. The boy angrily buried his face in the older’s shirt. “I know you’re angry, but I also know you. You’re not the kind of person to hate anyone Hyunjin. You’re such a kind soul.”

“I’m just… why don’t they love me?” Hyunjin sobbed, breaking everyone’s hearts. Woojin felt his own eyes burn as he held the boy closer. “I do everything for them and they still don’t- still don’t show me they love me… I don’t know why they hate me so much-”

“No one could possibly hate you,” Minho said, placing a hand on Hyunjin’s back carefully. “You’re literally the most likable person I’ve ever met. They’re just… clouded by their ways. They don’t hate you, they just suck at showing their affection…”

“You guys have shown me more love than they have in my entire life,” He sniffed sadly. “I just… I don’t know why I can’t be better for them.”

“You don’t have to be better,” Woojin said firmly. He pulled Hyunjin away from his chest so the younger could look him in the eye. “You’re amazing Hyunjin. Never let some shitty adults make you think otherwise. They might not appreciate you the way you deserve, but we sure as hell do, and we won’t let anything happen to our family.”

“Thank you hyung...” Hyunjin’s eyes turned up as he smiled, tears making them sparkle more than usual.

“Now, we should all try to get some sleep and in the morning we’ll figure out what to do - together. Sound good?”

“Yeah,” Hyunjin sniffed again. “Sounds good.”

“Alright then, I’ll see everyone in the morning,” Woojin grinned as everyone said goodnight. It was like they really were one big family. “Chris… come here a second?”

“Huh?” Chris flinched a little. He hadn’t meant to, but he accidentally zoned out during Woojin and Hyunjin’s moment. His side was throbbing and he could feel the blood soaking into his sweatshirt more than he thought it would. He was lucky Minho seemed occupied with Hyunjin, and that Jeongin, Jisung and Felix stayed in the room. He hoped if any of them smelled the blood, that they would have assumed it was from Woojin.

“I need to check something,” The other boy said softly. “Can you help me?”

“Sure Wooj.” He instantly moved towards the bathroom with Woojin, not thinking much of his request. As soon as Woojin closed the door behind them, his smile dropped. Chris felt his stomach twist.

“Chris, take off your hoodie.” he said gently. He didn’t sound angry at all, but the words still sent a bolt of fear down Chris spine.

“Why?” his voice cracked. He could feel the fabric pulling where the blood dried to the cuts as he backed away. Woojin’s face fell when he saw the panic in his friend’s face. That was all the evidence he needed.

He knew something was wrong when Chris came out of the bedroom. He was standing oddly, with his shoulder a little slumped and his side turned away from everyone. It wasn’t until he moved and Woojin saw the front of his hoodie was wet that he started to panic. He could only see the wetness because the light from the hallway reflected in it, which meant it wasn’t just water.

It was when he saw red on Chris’ fingers that Woojin knew for sure.

“I’m not mad,” He promised. “I just want to make sure you’re okay.”

“I’m fine.” Chris couldn’t meet his eye.

“Then you should be fine taking off the sweatshirt.”

“Woojin-”

“I promise you Chris,” Woojin took the blond’s hand and turned his palm up, exposing the drying blood on his fingertips. “I promise I won’t be upset. Please, I just want to make sure they’re bandaged properly.”

“I’m s-sorry…” Chris’ voice cracked again as he tugged his hoodie off. It stung to rip the fabric away from the gouges. He let it fall onto the ground as he closed his eyes. He didn’t want to see Woojin’s face when the other boy saw his stomach.

“Chris… oh love,” Woojin breathed, his fingers ghosting against the skin next to the cuts. “Why?”

“I just… this is all my fault,” He was surprised he wasn’t crying. Maybe he had cried out all the tears that had been stored in his body before. “You getting hurt? It’s because of me. If I never forced myself into your life, you’d never have gotten attacked by that bastard… and now you’re going to be a target because of me. You’ll always be in danger because of me… it’s all my fault… should have died in the backyard that night-”

“Never say that again,” Woojin cut him off. He knew how important it was to get toxic thoughts out, but he couldn’t bear to hear the boy he loved say a single word more about that. “Never, ever think coming into my life was a bad thing. Meeting you was the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

“But-”

“But nothing,” Woojin dabbed the drying blood away. He was relieved to see the cuts weren’t that deep, but they were long. Six lines ran from the bottom of his ribs down his side towards his hips. “Meeting you… you keep saying I saved your life, but it’s the other way around too. You definitely saved my life as well.”

“Woojin…”

“I hated my life Chris,” he sighed as he taped a bandage onto the hybrid’s side. “Waking up fucking sucked. Breathing fucking sucked… being alive sucked. Before I met you, I didn’t have a reason to live, really. I had no ambitions, no goals, no anything… then I met you, and I had a reason to fight. I needed to get up everyday to make sure your bandages were changed and to make sure you ate. I had motivation to find a new job. You changed everything.”

“I don’t want you to be hurt anymore, but it’s inevitable as long as I’m near you,” Chris’ eyes started to sting again. His vision started to blur as tears clouded his view of the human. “I… I know I should l-leave and go back to that bastard because then you wouldn’t be in danger anymore but I’m too selfish to do that… I love you so fucking much and I’m too fucking greedy to let you go-”

Woojin cut him off again, this time with a kiss. Chris attempted to pull away for a moment before letting himself melt into Woojin’s lips. God, Woojin could make anything better with the simplest touches.

“I don’t care how much danger I’m in,” He whispered against Chris’ mouth. “I don’t care what happens next, but I’d rather die than lose you. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

“I’m so sorry,” Chris sobbed, the tears finally falling. “I’m so sorry you got hurt because of me. I love you so much- so much it hurts. I don’t want to lose you but I’m so scared of you getting hurt again.”

“I won’t get hurt again,” Woojin smiled. “I promise. Everything is going to be okay. We’re going to get our apartment together and we’ll all be happy and there won’t be any stress or fear or anything to hurt us. Just you and me and our fuzzy blankets, remember?”

“God… that’s all I could ever ask for.” Chris laughed a little, the tears running down his dimpled cheeks. Woojin fell in love all over again.

“Let’s wash your hand and go to bed,” Woojin suggested gently. “We can go to bed and in the morning we can dye your hair and figure out what to do next.”

“Okay.” Chris was suddenly very, very tired. He let Chris wash the blood out from under his nails with warm water and let Woojin tug him towards the room.

Woojin pulled the blanket up over Chris’ shoulders and curled up next to the hybrid. Chris instantly nuzzled into Woojin’s warmth, as he did every night. It was subconscious at this point - he didn’t even realize he was doing it anymore. He just knew he wanted Woojin’s comfort. His side hurt but he didn’t care. He just wanted Woojin to hold him tightly and promise him that everything was going to be okay.

“I love you Chris,” Woojin muttered, his voice filled with affection as he pulled Chris closer. “No matter what.”

“I love you more.” Chris whispered back, his body relaxing instantly. Woojin really did make everything better.



“Bleach?” Woojin asked, taking the boxes of dye out of the bag. Seungmin and Jeongin had gone home after breakfast, while Hyunjin, Felix and Minho were out at work. Hyunjin had forgotten about his shift, making them push their plans for helping the boy with his parent-situation back until he got home. Changbin had decided to keep the shop closed so he and Jisung could help Woojin dye Chris’ hair.

“Probably for you,” Changbin said absentmindedly as he read through the directions for the brown dye. “If that asshole knows what you look like now, it would make sense to change your appearance too. At least, that would have been my first thought.”

“I guess…” Woojin said hesitantly. “I’ve never dyed my hair before though-”

“I can do it!” Jisung bounced over in excitement. “I’ve dyed my own hair a ton of times! And I’ve watched a lot of tutorials on how to bleach hair so I think we’ll be okay.”

“That’s not very reassuring.” Woojin groaned.

“No! It’ll be fine,” Jisung said again. “Please hyung? Please, please, please, please-”

“Alright,” Woojin finally caved. “You can bleach my hair.”

“YES!” He cheered. “I’m gonna grab some shit shirts so we don’t fuck up our own! I’ll be right back don’t start without me!”

Woojin watched Jisung scamper into his room with an exasperated smile. He loved the squirrel hybrid, but he didn’t know how Changbin managed to live with him. Woojin would have been exhausted after a single day.

“I can do your hair hyung,” Changbin offered to Chris, who was watching with anxious but excited eyes. “It’ll be a little hard for Woojin hyung to do it if Jisung has his squirrely fingers pulling at his hair.”

“Hey, I heard that!” Jisung came rushing back with a pout. “I have cute fingers, thank you!”

“If you say so.” Changbin snorted, pulling his shirt off and tossing it onto the couch as he took one from Jisung. Woojin did the same, trying not to blush when he could feel Chris’ eyes heating his skin up. Jisung had no problem changing either - in fact, he got distracted after taking his shirt off and ran off to the kitchen half dressed. Going by how Changbin just sighed, Woojin assumed this was a common occurrence at their apartment.

“Hey pup, if you want to change in the room, it’s okay.” Woojin said softly when he realized Chris was just holding the new shirt in his hand. Chris had no problem walking around naked from the waist up around Woojin, but it wasn’t just Woojin this time. Not only would his scars be on display, but the cuts from the night before would be out in the open too.

Chris’ ears twitched as he thought for a moment. He nodded and slipped into Changbin’s room. Woojin noticed the blond didn’t comment on the pet
name, which he took as a good sign.

“Where’s hyung?” Jisung asked as he finally tugged his shirt on over his head. Woojin watched with an amused smile as his ears twitched to clear the hair that covered them from the shirt messing up the boy’s styling.

“Went to change,” Woojin said, knowing Jisung was going to ask more questions that Chris probably wouldn’t want Woojin answering for him. “Why don’t we get started now? Since the bleach will probably take longer than the brown dye.”

“Yes! Meet me in the bathroom!” Jisung’s eyes shone as he ran back to the kitchen. He came back seconds later with the box of tin foil, and Woojin had the sudden feeling maybe agreeing to letting Jisung dye his hair wasn’t such a good idea.

 

“You know, that’s a good look on you.” Chris snickered. Woojin just wrinkled his nose, which resulted in Jisung slapping his shoulder for the nth time that hour.

“Hyung! Stay still!” The younger boy scolded, his gloved hands tugging on a lock of hair. Woojin’s whole head was covered in tin foil at this point, just the piece Jisung was working on currently was left.

“Sorry Sungie.” Woojin muttered, sitting still as he could.

“I’m almost done. I just have to put the bleach on your roots and then we have to let it sit for about twenty minutes.” Jisung said happily. If the world wasn’t so cruel, Woojin could easily see Jisung working as a hairdresser. The boy was personable and even though normally he had trouble focusing, he seemed to have no problem giving Woojin’s hair his full attention.

“And you’re just about done too hyung,” Changbin said, turning the older boy’s head from side to side. “I was trying not to get too much on your ears, but I attempted a bit of an ombre effect to make it look more natural.”

“I’m sure however it looks will be perfect.” Chris smiled at the younger boy, who flushed and scoffed.

“Don’t get your hopes up too much,” He said, squirting the last of the dye into his hands and massaging it into wherever he thought might be a gap. “It’s not like I’m a professional or anything.”

“Yeah, but whatever you do will be a hundred times better than if I tried to do it myself.” Chris laughed, and Woojin felt his heart stutter. It killed him that the hybrid didn’t see how amazing he was, because all Woojin could see was how lucky he was to have Chris in his life.

“Alright, you’re good,” Jisung said, pulling his gloves off with a flourish. “And I’m starving. Binnie hyung help me make lunch.”

“Okay,” Changbin took his gloves off in a much calmer fashion. “Set a timer for twenty minutes and shower. I’ll leave some fresh clothes by the door. Hopefully by the time you’re done, food with be ready.”

“Thank you Changbin,” Woojin smiled warmly. “For everything. You’ve done so much for us.”

“That’s what friends are for,” Changbin shrugged but Woojin could see him smiling. “Don’t take too long, or Sungie will eat everything.”

“SLANDER!” The hybrid in question cried from across the apartment. Changbin just sighed again and closed the bathroom door behind him, leaving Chris and Woojin alone again.

“How are you feeling?” Chris asked, breaking the silence first.

“Better,” Woojin took a deep breath and smiled. He really did feel better. “My head still aches a little but it’s nothing compared to yesterday. I told you all - head wounds look way worse than they actually are.”

“Can you blame us for being scared though?” Chris asked quietly.

“No… I’d be just as terrified if you walked in covered in blood.” He admitted with a small smile. He was just thankful that he was the one that got hurt and not Chris.

“Exactly…”

“How’s your side?”

“Oh… doesn’t hurt much anymore,” Chris’ hand hovered over where the bandages were hidden under the shirt. “They’ve mostly healed already. They weren’t like the wounds from before. These’ll be gone by dinner.”

“That’s good at least,” Woojin nodded. “The less time you’re in pain, the better.”

“Woojin… can I ask you a question?” Chris sounded so unsure that it broke Woojin’s heart.

“You can ask me anything,” He said quickly. “I don’t have anything to hide from you.”

“I just… what did you mean you had worse before?” Chris looked away. “Did.. did you get hit or something?”

“Oh,” That hadn’t been anywhere close to what Woojin had expected the other to ask. He coughed a little. “Um… I guess? Erm, my parents were always strict when I was growing up, so their punishments were reflected that I guess.”

“You’ve never talked about your parents before.” Chris pointed out, and Woojin felt his chest ache.

“I don’t have the best relationship with them,” He said casually, despite how much it hurt to say. “I haven’t really spoken to them in a while.”

“When was the last time you saw them?”

“Um… about two and a half years ago?”

“That long?” Chris blinked, surprised.

“Yeah, that was when they found out I was gay,” Woojin breathed in deeply through his nose, the smell of the bleach stinging a little. “They… didn’t take it that well.”

 

Who was that?” Mrs. Kim asked suspiciously. Woojin spun around, his heart pounding.

“Moon Bin, from my biology class,” he wasn’t lying. “We have a test coming up and he didn’t do that well on the last one so I was helping him study.”

That wasn’t a complete lie. He had helped Bin study - for about twenty minutes before making out with the other boy for the other four hours he was there.

“Oh… I’m glad you’re helping your friends then.” She said, relaxing. Woojin saw the suspicion leave her eyes and felt his heart start to beat normally again. He went to his room like normal and finished his homework, waiting for dinner. His dad didn’t get home until late most nights, but they still waited to eat together.

Woojin didn’t hate his dad, as much as he wanted to. He knew his father had some aggression issues, and that he was trying to fix them. He took medication and went to therapy for it, but that wasn’t always enough. He would stop taking his medication randomly, when he felt like it wasn’t helping. Woojin realized quickly when his dad was off his medication, because he always ended up with new bruises. It was okay, though, because when his dad calmed down he always apologized to his son so genuinely that Woojin couldn’t stay mad. It wasn’t his dad’s fault, after all.

He sat at the dinner table, telling his parents about what happened at school that day when the doorbell rang. Woojin didn’t know who would be at their door at this hour, but his stomach sank as his father went to answer it.

“Who are you?” he heard his father ask.

“B-bin,” Woojin’s stomach sank to the floor. “Moon Bin… please, is Woojin here?’

“Woojin? What do you need with my son at this hour?”

“Please, I need to see him-” Bin cut himself off when he saw Woojin coming down the hall. Woojin wanted to throw up.

Bin’s eye was blackening, and his lip was split. He could see bruising around the other boy’s neck, large fingers stained into the beautifully tanned skin he had been pressing kisses into just earlier that day.

“Bin-”

“I’m s-sorry,” he gasped, tears streaming down his face. “I shouldn’t have some I just-”

“What’s going on?” His father demanded.

“It’s alright dad,” Woojin said quickly. “I’ll take him up to my room. I’ll help with the dishes in the morning.”

“Woojin-” His father started to say, but his son and the strange boy were already hurrying up the steps.

“What happened?” he asked in horror once they were safely in his room.

“My parents,” Bin sobbed, his voice cracking painfully. “They- they saw the hickey on my neck after you left and figured out you- you gave it to me and- and they were so pissed oh my god Woojin I thought they were going to kill me.”

“You’re safe now,” Woojin wanted to cry, but he had to be strong. He pulled Bin into a hug and pressed a soft kiss to the corner of his mouth, away from the split. “We’ll figure something out. You aren’t alone Binnie. You have me-”

“Woojin, what is the meaning of this?” His father’s icy voice came from the door. The boys split apart, neither having heard the knob turn.

“Dad, I-”

“Get out of my house,” he said, eerily calm. Woojin felt his world shattering. Bin started to stutter but was cut off. “I said get OUT.”

Bin scampered away, sobbing as he raced out of Woojin’s house. Woojin tried to run after him, but was stopped by a heavy hand on his shoulder. All he could do was watch Bin run down the street as his father’s fingers dug into his flesh.

“Son, tell me what I just heard was a lie,” His father whispered menacingly. “And you better tell me the truth.”

“Dad-”

“Tell me my son wasn’t… fucking around with some filthy faggot-”

“Don’t call him that!” Woojin snapped, pulling away from the man’s grip.

“Woojin, you are never allowed to speak to that boy again,” His father grabbed him by the collar and pulled him close. “Do you understand me?”

“He’s my friend-”

“No, he’s dead if he ever tries to soil you again.” His father growled. When Woojin tried to say something, the man cuffed him in the side of the head. Woojin fell to the floor with a thud. His ears rang, but all he could think of was what would happen to Bin now. They had been dating in secret for almost three months because none of their parents would support them.

And now they knew.

“I’m going to be finding you a therapist come morning, understand me Woojin? They’re going to straighten you out and help you forget all about this… experiment of yours.”

“It’s not an experiment,” Woojin started crying. He couldn’t let his dad send him to conversion therapy He knew what happened there. They were going to destroy him there - take everything that made him who he was and shred it to pieces. “It’s not something you can get rid of! I’m gay! So what? It doesn’t affect my grades and I’m still the same person I was-”

“Never say those filthy words again,” His father said, murderously calm. His mom poked her head into his room, her face paling in horror at what she said. “Never- NEVER SAY THAT AGAIN!”

He kicked Woojin in the ribs, punctuating his words with each blow. Woojin tried to shield himself, only to he kicked in the arms as well. He could faintly hear his mom screaming, but all he could focus on was the ringing in his ears. Why was it so loud? His head hurt so badly.

“Stop! He’s bleeding!” His mom screamed, finally pulling his dad away from him His father didn’t try to fight her. “Oh god, I’m calling an ambulance-”

“Don’t you dare-”

“MY SON IS BLEEDING FROM HIS HEAD.” She screeched, which just made his head hurt more.

“Fine, but don’t tell them anything,” his father stormed out of the room. He heard his mom sobbing, but then his vision faded and Woojin fell asleep.

He woke up in the hospital. They told the doctors he fell down the steps, but they knew. Woojin knew they knew, but no one said anything. He was released after three days. His father never tried to visit him. The night he came home, his mom told him that Bin had killed himself the night after they had been discovered. He slit his wrists and bled out, and his parents didn’t take him to the hospital. Woojin didn’t cry until he was in his locked room.

It was all his fault. Woojin packed everything he could. He knew his dad wouldn’t be home for at least three more hours, and that his mom was too ashamed of not being able to stop what happened that she wouldn’t bother him.

He stole as much money as he could, as well as the valuables that he knew were stashed around his dad’s office. He took everything he could and slipped from the house. His body ached, but it was nothing compared to the pain in his chest. On his way out of town, he stopped by Bin’s house. No one was home. It looked exactly the same as he remembered, as if Bin could just… walk out and hop in his car and they could drive off somewhere for a few hours together.

But Bin was gone. Forever.

Woojin drove away from the town where he grew up, a few bags in the back seat and tears streaming down his face. There was nothing left for him there.

 

“I came here,” Woojin finished his story. His eyes stung but he didn’t cry. He was tired of crying over what happened. “I stayed in the motels that Felix was staying at for about two weeks while I looked for an apartment. Found the one we’re staying at now. Got my job at the diner right after. Everything was the same until you came.”

“Oh god…” Chris looked like he was going to be sick, and it warmed Woojin’s heart a little to know the hybrid cared so much.

“It’s okay now,” Woojin reached over and took his hand. Chris was shaking. Woojin was calm. “I.. I miss him still. Of course I do. But I know this world was… too cruel for him. I just hope he’s in a better place now…”

“I’m sure he is,” Chris laced their fingers together. “And so are you.”

“Yeah, I am,” Woojin felt a weight he didn’t know was on his shoulder leave. “I have you know.”

“I love you.” Chris smiled, his eyes sparkling.

“I love you too-” Woojin’s confession was cut off by the alarm on his phone going off. Both boys jumped at the sound, laughing as he turned the alarm off. “Wanna shower together?”

“Oh, how scandalous.” Chris teased, his ears warming.

“I mean, as boyfriends, showering together is just one of the many scandalous things we’ll end up doing, right?” Woojin asked casually, trying to gauge Chris’ reaction. The hybrid’s cheeks lit up bright crimson but he nodded just as casually.

“I guess you’re right,” He said after a moment. “Boyfriends do tend to do those sort of things… and seeing how we’re…”

“Boyfriends?” Woojin supplied hopefully.

“Yeah, boyfriends.” Chris smiled softly.

“I could get used to that,” Woojin grinned. “Could you help me take the foil out so we can shower? The bleach is starting to burn my head.”

“Of course.” Chris smiled wider. He would do anything for Woojin.

Chapter Text

“We probably shouldn’t take too long.” Woojin said softly as he turned the shower on. He tested the water, making sure it was hot enough that they would both be comfortable.

“Yeah, I can smell lunch.” Chris tugged his shirt off, grimacing at how the dye stained the collar. He knew Jisung gave it to him specifically to be ruined, but he still felt bad. His ears were starting to burn a little, even though Changbin had been careful with the dye on them.

“Um, if you want to go first I can wait…” Woojin looked away, his cheeks warming.

“I thought we were showing together.” Chris smirked, watching Woojin’s face redden more.

“R-right.” he stuttered. He stripped, letting the clothing fall into a pile. Chris’ eyes widened a little before quickly glancing away. While they had been living together for months and have been sharing a bed, Chris had never seen Woojin completely naked before. Chris followed Woojin’s example and stepped into the shower.

The hot water burned his scalp as it rinsed the dye away. The drain swirled brown as he ran his fingers through what was once blond hair. He was careful around his ear, trying not to stare at Woojin, who was leaning back to let the bleach run from his own hair.

“Pretty…” Chris whispered, his eyes glued to the older boy.

“You’re really pretty yourself,” Woojin didn’t open his eyes but smiled brightly. He could feel Chris staring at him and it made his chest flutter. “Have you looked in a mirror recently?”

“Woojin…” Chris blushed, unable to form a full sentence with how flustered he was. The water was hot, but the warmth coming from Woojin was hotter.

“Here, let me…” He trailed off as he piled the special conditioner in his hand and began massaging it through Chris’ hair. The hybrid closed his eyes and breathed heavily, leaning into Woojin’s chest as the human worked the conditioner around the base of his ears. He could feel Woojin’s heartbeat against his own chest as they pressed together.

Chris’ eyes flew open when he realized something.

“Fuck, Woojin-” how could he possibly blush any harder?

“I could always... help you with that if you wanted,” Woojin offered sweetly as his eyes flicked down, which only aided in flustering Chris more. He was trying to will his dick to calm itself but Woojin’s large hand was on his arm and his breath was ghosting against his neck. “Though I don’t know how much more time we have.”

“Hng… Woojin…” Chris’ eyes fluttered a little as Woojin’s hands ran down his stomach, stopping right at his waist line. The hybrid whined, his soaked tail wagging softly behind him. If Woojin was going to tease him like this-

“What do you want me to do pup?” Woojin asked, nipping at Chris’ neck gently. Chris sucked in a breath, bucking his hips forward a little. Woojin held his hips still, keeping him from moving.

“I- I want you to touch me-”

“HURRY UP LUNCH IS READY!” Jisung banged on the door loudly, making Woojin and Chris jump apart. In their panic, Woojin lost his footing and slipped. Thankfully Chris was able to catch him before he slammed his head on the edge of the tub, but he hit the small of his back into the many bottles of shampoo, which was absolutely going to bruise.

“Fuck… that’s gonna smart…” Woojin groaned, rubbing his back with a scowl.

“Here, let’s finish up and get dressed.” Chris sighed. Any arousal he might have been feeling was absolutely gone now. He was going to have to pinch Jisung as a thank you for ruining their moment.

Woojin pouted a little as he quickly conditioned his own hair and rinsed it out. He was almost afraid to look in the mirror as he stepped out of the shower, but he was more than willing to openly gape at Chris.

His curls were still dripping, but the dark brown made his face seem even softer than before. Woojin wanted to fast forward about an hour so he could see just how cute Chris was going to be with the dark curls.

“Wooj…” Chris stared at him with wide eyes and an open mouth. Woojin could see his sharp canines poking past the lips he loved so much.

“What? Does it look bad?” Woojin ran a hand through his damp bangs, even more afraid to turn around and look in the mirror.

“It doesn’t look bad but…”

“But?”

“It’s..”

“It’s what?”

“It’s blue.”

“What?” Woojin shouted, spinning around. Chris was right, his normally brown hair was blond - with a slight blue tinge. It was still blond, but looked like they tried to give it a cool undertone, which Woojin was absolutely not freaking out about.

“How did it-”

“I don’t know-”

“Hurry up! Binnie hyung won’t let me eat until you guys come to the kitchen!” Jisung slapped the door again, whining.

Chris and Woojin looked at each other before laughing loudly. It was going to be an interesting day.



“You guys look so cute!” Hyunjin’s eyes sparkled as he burst into the apartment. He had gone back to his and Minho’s apartment after his shift to shower and change before heading to Changbin’s.

“Thanks,” Chris grinned. “It’s going to take some getting used to though.”

“You too Woojin hyung,” Hyunjin bounced. “How did you get it to be like, blueish?”

“Uh…” Woojin smiled awkwardly. Three hours later and they still weren’t entirely sure what happened. It was either something in the cheap tinfoil, the conditioner, or the bleach itself that wasn’t quite right.

“It’s a secret.” Jisung winked at Hyunjin, who grinned in response.

“So you fucked up somehow?”

“Exactly.” The squirrel nodded casually.

“Anyway, how was work Hyunjin?” Woojin asked, trying to change the subject. Hyunjin’s whole demeanor dropped.

“It sucked…” he sighed. Jisung came over and wrapped his arms around the boy’s waist to comfort him some. “I was so paranoid my parents were going to come charging through the door and drag me back home…”

“Have you eaten yet?” Changbin asked.

“No, not yet.”

“I can make you something while we wait for Seungmin to get here,” The smaller boy suggested. “It’ll be easier to settle all of this if everyone involved was here.”

“I’ll text him.” Hyunjin pulled out his phone and sent a quick message.

“I have a question,” Jisung piped up, getting Hyunjin’s attention. “If your parents called Seungmin’s parents, and they called him… why didn’t your folks just call you?”

“They don’t know my number,” Hyunjin said easily. “If they ever needed to get a hold of me, they had one of the staff do it, and since they probably sent the staff away while they were on vacation, there’s no one at the house that would know my number.”

“That… sucks.” Jisung pouted.

“I’m used to it,” Hyunjin smiled, but Woojin could see the bone deep sadness in his eyes. He was too young to be used to this sort of treatment. They all were. “Minnie said him and Jeongin will be here soon.

“Good, until they get here, we should start brainstorming.” Woojin gestured for everyone to sit in the living room. His phone went off - a text from his landlord saying a new door would be put in this afternoon. Woojin knew the only reason the landlord was actually doing anything was because if Woojin went to the police for a break in, they’d see how shadily run the apartment complex was and shut it down.

“What do we know so far?” Changbin asked, pulling out a notebook from under one of the couch cushions.

“Well, we know Hyunjin’s parents know he’s missing and are looking for him,” Chris said, giving Changbin a chance to write it down. “We don’t know how far they’re willing to go to get him back though.”

“Or how genuine they are,” Hyunjin sighed. “They might just want me back so they look better to their friends. I doubt they actually care all that much about-”

“Don’t say that,” Woojin’s heart hurt seeing how casually Hyunijn spoke of his parents not caring about him. “I’m sure they-”

“They never cared before,” he laughed humorlessly. “Why should they suddenly start caring now?”

“Hyunjin…” Woojin trailed off, not sure what to say next. It wasn’t like he had the best parental influences that could help him in this situation.

“Seungmin’s here.” Hyunjin said quickly, standing to let the other boy in, leaving Woojin on the couch.

“How’s everyone’s day been?” He asked as he and Jeongin stomped through the front door.

“Oh just peachy.” Hyunjin laughed, causing Seungmin to roll his eyes.

“You could have just said bad,” he huffed, slipping his shoes off. “My parents have called me three times since last night and I’m so close to just turning my phone off.”

“What did they say?” Changbin asked from the couch.

“Asking if I got in touch with Hyunjin, freaking out over what could have happened to Hyunjin, making me promise I won’t run away from them like Hyunjin.”

“I’m so sorry.” Hyunjin snickered, laughing harder when Seungmin stuck his tongue out at him.

“It sounds like they’re desperate to find you though,” Seungmin sighed. Jeongin’s ears pressed against his head, sensing his friend’s unease. He wrapped his arms around the older boy and rested his chin on Seungmin’s shoulder. “My parents mentioned something about a missing person’s report and a reward for any information.”

“Wait, really?” Hyunjin sat forward, shocked.

“Yeah, and it wasn’t a small amount,” Seunmgin nodded. “They’re offering two million for the safe return of their son.”

“Jesus… that’s enough to retire…” Changbin’s eyes were wide. He knew Hyunjin’s parents were rich, but he somehow forgot they were rich-rich.

“Yeah, they said they were putting out the reward to friends and family first before putting it out to the public,” Seungmin continued. “Something about hoping Hyunjin would be close enough to home that they wouldn’t have to involve the police.”

“Okay, so… first thought is that we disguise Hyunjin too,” Chris said with a slight frown. His hair had finally dried and Woojin had to restrain himself from vaulting over the coffee table and running his hands through the hybrid’s curls. If Chris was attractive as a blond, he was a thousand times more so as a brunette. Woojin fell in love with him more and more every single time he caught a glance of the other boy. “He’d have to quit his job, but if it’s to protect him it’s for the best.”

“I can get a second job to make sure you and Minho have enough to eat,” Woojin offered easily. “I’ve been looking into working at the bookshop with Lix anyway, so Hyunjin you don’t have to worry about that-”

“Turn me in.” He whispered, stunning everyone in the room. Jisung dropped the cup he was holding in the kitchen - thankfully it didn’t break but the crashing sound echoed through the suddenly silent apartment.

“Haha, I think I need to clean out my ears,” Jisung picked up his cup quickly and tugged on the small brown ears that hid in his messy hair. “For a second, it sounded like-”

“You heard me,” Hyunjin wouldn’t look anyone in the eye. “Turn me in and collect the money. You could get a nicer apartment… maybe even one big enough for everyone. You wouldn’t have to stress about rent or food or bills ever again.”

“What about you?” Woojin asked softly, shocked that Hyunjin would even suggest them turning him into his parents.

“I mean, I’d go back to the main house, get chewed out for running away… get sent back to school probably…” Hyunjin scowled, looking at his hands. “I fucking hate that place, but I’d go back right this very second if it meant you guys didn’t have to worry anymore.”

“You don’t have to do that,” Changbin said. “You don’t have to sacrifice yourself… if you go back to that school, it’s going to break you again, and this time you won’t be able to escape so easily. You’ll be trapped.”

“What’s worse? Being trapped or constantly needing to hide?” Hyunjin covered his face with his hands. “No matter what I pick, I’m going to be trapped…”

“There has to be another option,” Chris argued. “You can’t just… we won’t let…”

“They’ve thought of everything,” Hyunjin sounded resigned. “They know I’m going to come crawling back sooner or later… there’s no point in fighting it.”

“What if we turned the tables on them?” Woojin asked slowly, his mind working a thousand miles a second.

“What do you mean?” Hyunjin asked, everyone in the room blinking at Woojin as if he was speaking a different language.

“Well, they think they have everything set,” Woojin smiled a little. “They think they have checkmate, but what if we have a secret play up our sleeves?”

“Like what?”

“What if we set the ultimatum?” Woojin grinned. “They’re so desperate to get you back… they’ll do anything, right?”

“Apparently.” Hyunjin blew at his bangs.

“Tell them you want the reward money, and that you want to stay in the city to go to school here,” Woojin told Hyunjin with a smirk. Hyunjin just stared at the older boy with a shocked expression. “Tell them they’re going to let you do what you want, or you won’t come back at all. You’ll disappear for good if they don’t fulfill your demands.”

“Hold yourself hostage.” Chris let out a single barking laugh, grinning at his boyfriend as if he couldn’t believe the words coming from Woojin’s mouth. Only he would think of an idea like that.

“That’s… ridiculous,” Hyunjin shook his head. “There’s no way that would work. R-right?”

“If they’re as desperate as they’re making it seem they are, they’ll do anything to get their son back,” Changbin looked at the notebook in his hand. “So if their son told them he’ll only come back if they give him his freedom to do as he wants… there’s a pretty good chance they might actually go through with it.”

“And if they don’t?” Hyunjin countered.

“Then you don’t have to worry about them ever again, because denying your requests is basically them agreeing to leave your life for good.”

“They threatened to disown me if I didn’t go to their perfect school,” Hyunjin said bitterly, sneering angrily. Woojin thought the boy was still pretty, even when he was angry.

“Why would this situation be any different? I didn’t do what they wanted, and now they’re putting on a show for their friends.”

“I think… they threatened to disown you because they wanted leverage over you,” Woojin tried to reason. “But this isn’t something they ever thought would happen. With the whole school thing, they knew what was going to happen but this isn’t some scripted argument. You going missing is real.”

“Maybe you disappearing is what they needed to get their ass in gear to treat you like their actual son and not like some toy to show off.” Seungmin said, almost mockingly. Hyunjin just scoffed, refusing to look away from his hands.

“It’s up to you Hyunjin,” Woojin placed a gentle hand on the boy’s shoulder. “We won’t do anything if you don’t want us to.”

“Say I call and give them my demands,” Hyunjin sounded small. “They’d obviously want to see me… I don’t think I could do that alone.”

“Who said anything about being alone?” Changbin asked, only a little offended.

“Of course we’d all go with you,” Woojin smiled at the younger boy. “All of us that can take that day off at least.”

“You’d do that for me?” Hyunjin’s eyes snapped up to meet Woojin’s kind smile.

“We’d do anything for you,” Woojin ruffled the boy’s hair softly. “We’re family now. Family does anything for each other.”

“I… It’s worth a shot.” Hyunjin sniffed, trying to hide the fact that he was about to cry.

“You can use my phone,” Seungmin offered. “If they recognize the number they might not try to track it, and even if they do it’ll be tracked back to me.”

“What would I even say?” Hyunjin took the phone with shaking fingers. “I don’t… what if I mess up and ruin the whole plan?”

“Would it help if we wrote out a script or something?” Chagbin asked, holding his notebook up. “If we make a list of the demands, you won’t forget any.”

“What should the demands be?” Jeongin chimed in.

“Firstly, he doesn’t have to go back to that school, and can pursue whatever degree he wants.” Woojin said instantly.

“He should get the reward money too!” Jisung shouted.

“He should also get financial support from them for his schooling,” Changbin added. “If he gets the money for the reward that’s great, but then it’ll go towards an apartment and food and rent and bills and other expenses. If he doesn’t have to worry about tuition, things will be much better.”

“What if they say the demands are too much?” Jeongin’s ear twitched as he watched the list grow.

“We can compromise,” Woojin took the notebook and started a new list. “Tell them something like… Hyunjin will attend family events as long as he doesn’t have to return to his old school. He’ll pursue the degree of his choosing, but get a minor in what they wanted. Compromise, so no one side feels cheated. Does that sound fair?”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Hyunjin frowned more.

“If there was anything else you wanted, this is your chance to get it,” Jisung sat on the counter. “Ask for a new car and an expensive watch while you’re at it. You can get anything you want out of this.”

“This is too much,” Hyunjin pulled his knees up to his chest and hid his face. “I don’t want to deal with this right now.”

“I know love, but if we don’t call soon they’re going to get the police involved and everyone in town will know who you are.”

“Fuck… Guess I should make the call, huh?” He looked up, his large eyes glassy and filled with fear.

“We’re here for you, no matter what,” Woojin sat down next to Hyunjin and pulled him into a hug. “Anything you need and we’ve got it covered.”

“Alright… here goes nothing…” He took the phone from Seungmin and typed in the familiar number - just because his parents didn’t know his number didn’t mean he didn’t know theirs - and hesitated. His thumb hovered over the call button, his whole body tensing. It wasn’t until Woojin wrapped his arms around his waist that he was able to take a breath again. He pushed the button and the put the phone on speaker.

It rang once, twice, three times before the call was answered.

“Hello? Seungmin? This is your number, correct?” A woman said. Judging by the way Hyunjin flinched, everyone could draw the conclusion that it was his mother that picked up the phone.

“Mother, I heard you were looking for me?” Hyunjin said, sounding calmer than he actually was.

“Hy-Hyunjin?” She screeched, causing everyone to jump a little. “Oh my god- Hyunjin baby, are you alright? Please tell me you’re alright! Honey I’m so sorry we didn’t realize sooner! As soon as you come home we’ll-”

“I’m not coming home,” Hyunjin cut her off. “Not yet at least.”

“What- what do you mean?”

“I have some demands that I need us to compromise on before I even consider coming back,” he closed his eyes and took a deep breath, waiting a moment before opening them again. “And if you don’t want to compromise, you’ll never see me again.”

Chapter Text

“Oh god, I can’t do this.” Hyunjin said, looking like he was going to be sick. He had already thrown up once that morning - much to Changbin’s dismay, seeing how the breakfast the younger boy had tried to eat ended up back on the couch again. Hyunjin apologized profusely as Changbin spot-cleaned the cushion.

“She already basically agreed to everything,” Seungmin said soothingly. “This is just a formality to get the check, remember?”

“What if this is a trap?” Hyunjin started to breathe faster. His eyes glazed over and everyone could see the pure panic in his face.

“How could it be a trap?” Woojin asked from behind the wheel. Out of the nine boys, only Hyunjin, Chris, Seungmin and Jeongin were able to go with Hyunjin. Jisung and Changbin had to stay back with the shop, seeing how it had been closed so often recently. Felix had to cover Hyunjin’s shift at the coffee shop so Hyunjin could even go to meet his mother, and Minho had work that they wouldn’t let him skip.

“I dunno… what if she locks me in my room and tells you guys I changed my mind and won’t let me leave? Or she gives us the money then reports it stolen so we get arrested?”

“Do you really think she’d do that to her only son?” Jeongin asked from Hyunjin’s other side.

“That’s just it - I don’t know,” Hyunjin rested his head on Seungmin’s shoulder. “I have no idea what to expect. She’s never… cared this much before. I can’t help but feel like it’s all fake. Like it’s a trap or a- a joke or something. There’s no way she actually cares enough to go through with all our stupid demands.”

“Or maybe the thought of genuinely losing her son knocked some sense into her overly botoxed head.”

“Maybe… that sounds too good to be true though. I don’t want to get my hopes up.”

“Well, we’re almost there,” Woojin said, glancing at the boys through the rearview mirror. His heart ached for Hyunjin, but he knew this is what the younger needed. It would be awkward and scary, but in the end it was what needed to be done. “You have the notebook, right?”

“Right here hyung!” Jeongin held it up, his ears twitching in either excitement or nervousness - Woojin couldn’t quite tell.

“Good, now remember the plan Jinnie,” He looked over to Chris, who had been quiet throughout the whole trip, then back to Hyunjin again. “You’re going to do the talking, unless you need me to step in.”

“I remember.”

“And the signal for me to step in it?”

“I tap my leg three times,” Hyunjin recited. The original signal was going to be looking over to Woojin, but the elder quickly realized Hyunjin was going to need some sort of comfort without him stepping in and changed it. “Hyung, I’m scared.”

“You’re going to be okay Jinnie,” Chris said, speaking for the first time since getting in the car. “You’re going to show your mom that you aren’t a toy, and that you’re an adult now, and that no matter what she tries to do, you aren’t going to be used anymore.”

“And no matter what, you aren’t alone.” Woojin chimed in, wanting to make sure the boy knew that he had backup.

“Oh fuck… there it is.” Hyunjin hid his face in Seungmin’s neck as they approached a small gate house that lead up to a long driveway. Woojin pulled up and lowered his window, giving the man at the guardhouse the most pleasant smile he could muster.

“Hello, I believe we have an appointment with Mrs. Hwang?” he said, trying not to sneer at how the man was looking at him with disdain.

“Name?” he asked, sounding bored.

“Just let us in, please?” Hyunjin called from the backseat. Woojin’s smile dropped when he heard how close to tears the boy sounded. The guard seemed to notice it as well, as his look of boredom morphed into one of concern.

“Master Hyunjin,” he said with a nod. “Of course, we’re expecting you.”

“Thank you.”

“We’ve missed you.”

“I-”

“Good luck speaking with the mistress,” The guard peered through the window back towards Hyunjin. “I know how you don’t always see eye to eye.”

“Thank you.” Hyunjin said again, his voice small. The guard nodded again and reached into the station to open the gates. He waved to Hyunjin as they drove through, but Hyunjin’s face was securely buried in Seungmin’s neck again.

The drive up to the main house took a surprisingly long time. Woojin parked the car a little ways away, not really willing to get his junker of a car anywhere near the fancy cars closer to the building. Just one of those vehicles was worth more than Woojin’s whole apartment and everything in it.

“Hyung?” Hyunjin’s voice shook as he tugged on Chris’ sleeve.

“Yeah Jinnie?” The hybrid asked gently.

“Hold my hand?” Hyunjin’s whisper was almost drowned out by the sound of the front doors opening
“Of course.” Chris reached over and took Hyunjin’s trembling hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze as they ascended the marble stairs.

“Welcome home Master Hyunjin,” A maid said sweetly, bowing to them. “The mistress is waiting for you in the East Wing sitting room.”

“Thank you, I’ll show everyone the way myself.” Hyunjin’s demeanor made a 180. The quiet, scared Hyunjin was gone, replaced with the overly formal, almost cold son of the one percent.

“As you wish, young master,” She said, bowing again. “Refreshments will be brought shortly.”

Hyunjin just nodded and started walking. Woojin was trying his hardest not to gape at the interior of the house. Everything was creams and golds and marble. He knew Hyunjin was rich, but he wasn’t expecting this.

They followed Hyunjin through several hallways, up a grand staircase and under marble arches towards what they assumed was going to be the East Wing sitting room. Chris’ hand never left Hyunjin’s, and if it weren’t for how tightly the boy was gripping Chris’ hand, Woojin would have honestly thought his nerves had vanished.

He only took his hand back from Chris as they approached a set of glass doors that let out onto a greenhouse patio. He took a deep breath before pushing the doors open and letting himself in. The others filed in behind him, all standing in a loose semi circle around him protectively.

“Hyunjin…” His mother stood suddenly, the book in her hands tumbling to the ground. She rushed towards them, cupping Hyunjin’s cheeks with her well manicured hands. Woojin could instantly see the family resemblance, but he also noticed how Hyunjin looked away as soon as his mom touched him. “Oh thank god you’re alright baby. We were so worried-”

“If you were so worried, why didn’t Father come home with you?” Hyunjin asked, sounding overly formal and cold. Woojin didn’t like it - his Hyunjin was bubbly and silly and sarcastic. He didn’t like this Hyunjin much.

“You know your Father,” She chuckled awkwardly. “He’s quite busy-”

“He doesn’t even know, does he?” Hyunjin stepped away from his mother’s touch, his voice sounding sad.

“Baby-”

“It’s alright Mother, I expected this from him.”

“You shouldn’t speak about your Father that way,” She scolded, and judging by how Hyunjin just rolled his eyes, this was a conversation the two of them had exchanged several times. “Oh, I don’t want to fight right now… I’m just so glad you’re safe.”

“I’m safer now that I ever was at that hell school you sent me to.” Hyunjin said, his words flat. Woojin could hear the venom behind them, though, and it was clear that his mother heard it as well.

“Honey, all we ever wanted was for you to succeed-”

“No, you wanted to show me off to your friends like a doll you had custom made,” He stopped her before she could lie anymore. “You knew I never wanted to go to that school. You knew I hate business. You KNEW how much sending me away was going to hurt me, and you did it anyway so you would look better.”

“Baby-”

“You have no idea how awful it was there,” His voice turned sharp. “Everyone was so- so fucking fake! They were trying to use me, just like you always did! You want to know why I ran away? Because I would have killed myself if I had to stay there any longer.”

“Now Hyunjin, you shouldn’t joke like that-”

“Trust me when I say it’s not a joke, Mother,” He hissed, eyes narrowing. “I was so depressed… I hated waking up… You have no idea how many times I almost threw myself from my dorm window… the only reason I didn’t was because it was only the third floor and there was a small chance of surviving, and I didn’t want to risk not dying.”

“Hyunjin…” His mother had tears running down her face.

“The first time I woke up and I didn’t want to die was in Minho hyung’s apartment,” Hyunjin’s bangs covered his eyes. “I woke up on a pull out couch, covered by a ratty old blanket, in the apartment of someone who literally had nothing in his fridge, and I was happier than I ever was here. Minho hyung… he had nothing. NOTHING. And yet he still took me in and made sure I was eating and helped me get a job… and every day it made me realize that I was never happy here, and that you never cared that I was unhappy. All you cared about was how your friends thought of us-”

Woojin cut Hyunjin’s rant off with a gentle hand on the shoulder. Hyunjin froze, breathing heavily. After a moment, a single tear ran down his cheeks, his eyes still hidden.

“It’s alright Jinnie,” Woojin whispered. “You’re okay.”

“And who are you?” his mother asked scathingly. Hyunjin’s head shot up to yell but Woojin carefully stepped between the boy and the woman.

“My name is Kim Woojin,” he said with a charming smile. “Hyunjinnie here asked us to come with him for moral support.”

“Why would he need moral support while talking to his mother?” She hissed, and Woojin realized how two faced the woman really was. “I’m his MOTHER-”

“Maybe because you’re a wicked person who used her son like a pet.” Chris snapped, a low growl coming from the back of his throat. The woman’s face instantly paled at the sound, looking between Chris and Hyunjin.

“You brought a hybrid here?” She asked, sounding betrayed. “You know your father’s rules-”

“Jeongin was always allowed,” Hyunjin cut her off. “Why would Chris hyung be any different?”

“Because Jeongin is a purebred, exotic hybrid,” She said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “We don’t want… mutts in our home.”

“I’m a purebred too, you ignorant bitch-”

“Chris.” Woojin turned, cutting his boyfriend off. Chris frowned and took a deep breath, glaring at Hyunijn’s mother. If looks could kill, she would be long dead.

“Hyunjin, I don’t like the people you’re surrounding yourself with.”

“Good thing you don’t have a say in who my friends are anymore,” He said, his tone back under control. “Which is the main reason we’re here. You promised on the phone, remember?”

“I was really hoping I would be able to convince you to come home-”

“After what you just said about my friends, that option is off the table for good,” Hyunjin grimaced. “You remember the demands?”

“You sound like you’re ransoming yourself.” She scoffed.

“I’m ransoming my freedom,” Hyunjin shrugged. “This is my only chance to take control of my life.”

“Was it really so awful? Living with us?” She whispered, turning her back to the boys.

“Not always, but I never felt like I belonged. You and Father made me feel like a toy that you only remembered existed when you wanted to show me off. You didn’t even realize I was missing until you came home from whatever stupid vacation you were on,” Hyunjin’s voice shook. He was going to cry, despite his best efforts. “I was gone for a month, mother. A MONTH. And you only just now realized I was gone…”

“If I had known-”

“What would you have done? You wouldn’t have pulled me from school. You would have guilted me into coming home and take away what little freedoms I had to begin with.”

“I never wanted you to hate us,” Her shoulders slumped. “I thought I was raising you well… I had nothing before I married your father, and I tried giving you everything I never had. I guess I ended up pushing you away instead, it seems… Fine. I accept your demands… on one condition.”

“What condition?” Hyunjin was on edge. There was no condition last night. His mother took another deep breath and turned around to face her son.

“I just want you to come visit,” She said softly, a gentle smile on her face. “Even if it’s just for lunch… I realize I pushed you away, but I don’t want to lose you. You’re my pride and joy Hyunjin, even if I never made you feel like you were… I’ll give you the money. I’ll give you a card under my name and sign for a new apartment and pay for your schooling… just give me another chance.”

“I-” Hyunjin was shocked.

“You’re okay Jinnie,” Woojin whispered. “You can choose to do whatever you want. It’s your life.”

“I accept,” he said, his voice cracking as if his throat was dry. “I’ll come to visit, if that’s your only request.”

“Thank you Hyunjin,” She sobbed and rushed forward, pulling her son into a hug. “Thank you so much for giving me a second chance.”

“Everyone deserves a second chance.” He whispered back, trying not to sob as well.

“Ah, everyone sit,” She said, pulling away and patting her cheeks dry with the back of her hands. “I’ll have the staff bring refreshments as I gather the things for you.”

“Thank you Mother.” Hyunjin said as they say on the wicker furniture.

“Of course, baby,” She smiled warmly at him. “And I promise I won’t disappoint you anymore.”

“Thank you.” He whispered again, tears running down his cheeks once more.




“Well? How did it go?” Felix asked as soon as they walked into the apartment. Seungmin and Jeongin went home, while Hyunjin went back with Woojin and Chris. Minho was still at work, so the younger boy was staying with the elder boys for the time being.

“Surprisingly well,” Woojin grinned as he toed off his shoes. “Not only did she give us everything we asked for, she even gave me a preloaded card to use to take care of Hyunjin and Minho.”

“Hyung almost pitched a fit,” Hyunjin giggled. “He didn’t want to take it, but Mother can be quite persuasive.”

“So she didn’t add any kind of conditions?”

“Just one, but she said it was the only condition,” Hyunjin smiled softly. “I don’t have to do the stupid parties or minor in business or anything. All I have to do is visit twice a month for lunch with her.”

“That’s… so cute,” Felix blinked. Woojin noticed the boy’s eyes were red and irritated. His contacts must be bothering him again, he realized. “And she just gave you everything?”

“Yup, we can start looking for a bigger apartment in the morning!” Chris grinned.

“How big?”

“At least four rooms,” Chris’ eyes sparkled. “You and Hyunjin, me and Woojin, one for Minho, and a spare for Seungmin and Jeongin if they wanted it.”

“What about Changbin hyung and Jisung?”

“They’re more than welcome to live with us, but I think they’re content in their own apartment for now,” Woojin said with a laugh. “Though they could possibly rent it out and make a little extra while living with us.”

“Wow… this is so exciting!” Felix bounced on the pull out mattress. Woojin still felt a little guilty that the boy had to sleep in the living room, but Felix never complained - not that he would complain even if there was something to complain about.

“So hyung…” Hyunjin drew his sentence out with a sly grin. Woojin looked over at him questioningly, instantly feeling uneasy at the impish smile on the boy’s face. “Mother gave you a card to take care of me… does anyone else hear barbecue for everyone?”

“B-B-Q!” Felix chanted, throwing his arms around Hyunjin.

“I dunno-”

“Come on Wooj, what harm could it do?” Chris grinned, taking Woojin’s hand and kissing him on the cheek. Woojin melted instantly and sighed.

“Alright,” He chuckled at how everyone cheered instantly. “Lemme message the chat. I think the one in town is open until three in the morning.”

“Fuck yeah!” Hyunjin pumped his fist in the air. “Let’s eat!”
Woojin laughed, his chest light. So many things could have gone wrong that day - and with their track record, the chances of something going wrong were higher than everything going right. Yet they beat the odds and finally have something to celebrate.

He pulled out his phone and slyly took a picture of Felix and Hyunjin, who were grinning and jumping around in excitement. He wanted to capture as much happiness as he could. He blinked when Chris took the phone from him, only to blush crimson as Chris took a selfie of the two of them. Chris pressed his lips against Woojin’s red cheek just as the camera flashed, smirking a little as he did it.

Woojin didn’t even have to look at it. He already knew it was his new favorite picture.

Chapter Text

“Are you sure we can get anything we want?”Jeongin asked, eyes wide under the brim of his hat. Unfortunately, the youngest had to hide his ears and tail, and he looked even smaller as he drowned in one of Woojin’s oversized hoodies.

“I’d be insulted if you didn’t.” Hyunjin placed a heavy arm around Jeongin’s shoulders. Somehow, he managed to get his hands on some soju, and was already in the middle of a drinking competition with Jisung, Minho and Changbin. Woojin watched from the corner of his eye, knowing it was going to end poorly but not wanting to stop it just yet because he also knew he’d get some good blackmail from this adventure.

“Wouldn’t she see the charge?”

“She won’t notice a bill this small,” Hyunjin shrugged, throwing back another shot easily, as if it was water. “I’d have to buy like… a car or something for her to care and even then she’d probably just tell me to take care of it.”

“In that case, I’ll get two orders of the beef,” Jeongin grinned and danced a little in his seat. Jisung cooed at him, rubbing his cheek on the younger boy’s shoulder. His face was already flushed, and if Woojin was going to play bets he would be putting his money on either Changbin or Hyunjin - not Minho, seeing how the hybrid was already blinking sleepily, his chin resting on the table.

“Five on Changbin.” Chris whispered almost silently into Woojin’s ear.

“Match on Hyunjin,” Woojin whispered back. They seemed to be going neck to neck, but Woojin had a good feeling about the younger boy being able to hold out. He might have been skinnier than Changbin, but he was taller so who knows.

“We could always… spice up the bet.” The smirk was audible in Chris’ voice and it went straight to Woojin’s dick. He shifted, trying to prevent an incident from occurring right there in the barbecue restaurant.

“How so?” he played along, wondering what his boyfriend could possibly have in mind.

“Hmm… you know, I’ve been wondering lately,” Chris played with Woojin’s fingers as they waited for their food. No one paid much attention to the eldest two, who were close together. “We’ve been living together for a while, and are finally officially dating… we’ve kissed, but we’ve never gone any farther.”

“Yeah?” Woojin’s ears burned. He had an idea where Chris was going, but he wanted the hybrid to just say it - to stop teasing him in public.

“How about whoever wins the bet gets to take charge for a night,” Chris grinned, showing off his sharp canines and causing Woojin to bite back a groan. Woojin never had a biting kink before meeting Chris, but look where he was now. “We can send Felix over to sleep at Hyunjin’s… have the apartment to ourselves… what do you think?”

“You’re on.” Woojin grinned back, kissing Chris’ cheek innocently - which was the exact opposite of the thoughts running through his mind.

Chris grinned wider and took Woojin’s hand under the table before turning to Minho and striking up a conversation. Woojin bit his lip to stop from smiling like an idiot - any more than he already was - and looked around.

Chris and Minho were talking about what they want in their new apartment. Woojin hadn’t seen such a glimmer in the cat hybrid’s eyes, even with them being clouded with alcohol. True to his initial feeling, Minho had already tapped out of the drinking game, leaving just Jisung, Hyunjin and Changbin still going.

Jeongin was fidgeting slightly as he talked to Felix. He still wasn’t used to having his tail and ears hidden, and Woojin could guess it wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world - at least, based on how Chris acts when he can finally untuck his tail from under his hoodie after a day at work. Felix was talking about a show he was watching on Woojin’s old laptop, both Seungmin and Jeongin listening with wide, curious eyes.

Jisung was cheering and waving an empty bottle in the air, shouting at Hyunjin, who was eyeing the shot in his hand with distaste. Changbin was staring at the table with a blank expression, his face flushed and his eyes glassy. Woojin figured he’d wait until Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest finished their game before helping himself to the soju.

Woojin watched his friends with a fond smile. They had gone through hell - each and every one of them had gone through their own versions of hell - and yet there they were. Together, laughing, unafraid for at least the next few hours. They were scarred, and haunted by the past, but in that moment they were free.

The food came and everyone cheered loudly, the three musketeers louder than everyone else combined. The waitress asked if they wanted more soju and Woojin quickly said they were cut off for the night, but he wouldn’t mind a bottle for himself.

“Hyung why-why did you tell her that?” Hyunjin slurred, his cheeks so flushed it looked like he had a fever.

“Because the food just arrived and you’re already wasted.” He laughed, reaching to grab some of the beef from the platter and placing it on the grill in the middle of the talbe.

“Am n-not!” Hyunjin said, burping loudly and letting his forehead slam on the table.

“Looks like I win-” Chris started to say before Changbin tried to stand and fell on his face the moment he was on his feet again. Felix quickly helped him up, but judging by the way Changbin was laughing hysterically, he wasn’t too hurt. Only Jisung was left, it seemed, and the squirrel was grinning from ear to ear. He knew he was won.

“Who wins now?” Woojin snickered, watching Felix help Changbin to the bathroom, wondering if he should go with them. When he saw Changbin try to slip his hand into the cat hybrid’s back pocket, he shook his head and turned back to Chris.

“I honestly don’t know,” He said as the waitress came back with two green bottles. She handed them to Woojin and cleared the empty ones before bowing slightly and going to help another customer. “We can rock, paper, scissors?”

“Technically Hyunjin tapped out before Changbin, so Chris hyung won the bet.” Minho hiccuped slightly, his glazed eyes barely focusing on the elder two boys next to him.

“You-” Woojin flushed. How had he hearn them making the bet?

“Hybrid hearing hyung,” Minho grinned and reached for some of the chicken that had finished cooking. He looked like he was already starting to sober up - something Jisung and Hyunjin couldn’t say for themselves. “I’m sure Jisung and Jeongin heard you too. Don’t know about Lix though… I wonder if his hearing is messed up because of what happened? I mean, it would make sense if it was, but that would suck. I can’t even stand wearing a hat because everything is so muffled…” he rambled on, lazily chewing some meat. Woojin realized drunk Minho talked a lot more than sober Minho.

“I’ve been curious about that too,” Chris said, glancing towards the direction of the bathrooms, where the two missng members of their party had yet to return from. “But I don’t want to bring it up incase it upsets him, you know?”

“Maybe one day, when he’s comfortable about talking about everything, we can ask, but you’re right. We shouldn’t push,” Woojin sipped his soju, the strong taste covering his tongue. It had been a while since he drank. “Wait, you think Jeongin heard us?”

“Oh fuck-” Chris’ face flushed bright red as he glanced up. Jeongin glanced away, but the youngest couldn’t stop the grin that bloomed on his face - and not an innocent grin. No, it was a mischievous grin that told them the younger had some dirty thoughts running through his mind thanks to them.

“He absolutely heard…” Woojin ran a hand down his face, mortified. Jeongin, little baby Jeongin, heard them making a bet about who would top. He would never live this down, would he?

“Guess we should just… perish,” Chris chirped, taking a shot and instantly downing it before pouring himself a second one. “It’s our only option now.”

“You’re so dramatic.” Woojin shook his head with a smile. He took Chris hand under the table again and watched the hybrid’s face soften and his smile widen, all without him even glancing over at the human.

“But you love me.”

“I do.”

“Woojin hyung!” Felix cried as he and Changbin made their way over to table again. Everyone instantly noticed the sudden red splotches on both their necks and a flush on both their faces, not to mention their shy, matching grins but no one said anything.

“You okay Lix?” Woojin asked, only slightly distracted by how Chris was tracing light circles into his inner wrist with his thumb.

“Um… could I sleep over with uh… Jisung tonight?” he asked, not looking Woojin in the eye. Woojin glanced over to Jisung, who was shoving the barbecued meats into his cheeks, his face flushed from his victory shots that he downed once Hyunjin tapped out. Jisung didn’t even look up.

“Sure Lix,” Woojin said easily, trying not to smirk at the younger boy. “You wanna come back to get some stuff at the apartment first or-”

“Changbin hyung said I could borrow some of his clothes.” Felix glanced back at the older boy with sparkling eyes.

“Changbin!” Woojin called over to get the other human’s attention. Changbin stood straight as a pole at the sound of his voice, his face paling a little as he made eye contact with Woojin.

“Y-yes hyung?”

“Don’t keep him up too long,” He winked, and both Changbin and Felix flushed bright red. “We’re starting our apartment hunt and I’d like for him to come with us.”

“Yeah! Of course!” He tugged at his sweatshirt, eyes flitting around the table. “He’ll be back bright and early.”

“Not too early,” Chris snickered. “I have a hunch we’re going to want to sleep in.”

“Oh… of course,” Woojin’s face burned. “Let’s shoot for lunch.”

“Sounds good.” Changbin squeaked more than said.

“Perfect, let’s eat then!” Felix sat back down, and if anyone noticed that the cat boy managed to squeeze himself in next to Changbin, they didn’t comment on it.



“Hyung… this place is amazing.” Felix’s eyes were wide and Woojin could see him vibrating. They had just gotten the keys from the landlord and were going to start moving in as soon as they got the chance to stand in the middle of the empty apartment with their hands on their hips and grins on their faces.

“It’s perfect.” Jeongin bounced around from room to room. Minho had been the one to spot this particular apartment. They had gone to the building to look at another one that Chris had seen a listing for, when the cat hybrid asked to see the one down the hall. No one knew why he asked, but were in awe when they saw what was behind the door.

There was an open living room area when they first walked in, with a fairly large kitchen separated by a counter. Down the hall was four rooms - a master bedroom with a full bathroom, and three smaller bedroom with a second full bath. There was a closet between the second and third bedrooms that had a small washer and dryer which came with the apartment. There was no furniture, but it was perfect.

“Are we sure we can afford this?” Chris asked, sounding a little wary. He had been nervous about moving in the first place, and even though Woojin had assured him several times that the apartment was within their budget, the hybrid was still worried.

“It’s actually slightly below what we figured our max would be,” Woojin took Chris’ hand and tugged the slightly shorter boy closer to him. “Plus, we’re reusing a lot of the furniture from ours and Minho’s apartments, and then thrift what we still need.”

“My mother offered to fully furnish all the rooms, remember?” Hyunjin chimed in, for the third time since they started looking for a new place to live.

“I know, but thrifting gives a home a personality,” Woojin smiled warmly. “We can piece our home together the same way we pieced our family together. Besides, I don’t want to spend too much incase something comes up and we need to make a big purchase.”

“What kind of big purchase?” Jisung asked, turning away from the large windows looking down on the street five floors below them.

“Well….” Woojin trailed off, glancing to Changbin.

“Purchases like… online classes for you, if you want them.” Changbin shrugged casually, as if he was suggesting buying the squirrel boy lunch. Jisung blinked once, twice, before his knees gave out. Felix and Seungmin rushed to Jisung’s side, helping the small boy up. Tears were running down his round cheeks, and he seemed to be in shock.

“Wh-” He whispered softly.

“We were talking, and I might have looked into registering you at the same college Hyunjin is going to,” Woojin grinned. “You wouldn’t be able to… attend classes in person. Not yet at least - unless you think you can hide your ears and tail well enough - but we can start with two or three online courses if you wanted.”

“I’ve never even been to school before…”

“Which is why we’d help you get up to speed,” Changbin went over to his closest friend and pulled him into a hug. “And you don’t have to, if you think it’s too much. I know it might be overwhelming, but you’ve always talked about wanting to try going to school and if it’s online you could take a few at least.”

“I’ll have to think about it.” Jisung buried his face in Changbin’s neck.

“Why? I thought you would be excited.” Jeongin pouted a little.

“I am! I just… I know it would probably be too much,” Jisung pulled away with a frown, tears continuing to fall down his face. “Not money wise, but there’s nothing I can do with a degree. I’m a hybrid. No one would let me take classes if they knew, and even if I did a whole program online, the degree will just gather dust because I could never use it.”

“You don’t have to get a full degree,” Changbin rubbed his hand up and down Jisung’s arm to comfort him a little. The squirrel was shaking in his arms. “If you wanted to take some lit classes for fun, we could easily pay for it. I know how much you love reading.”

“I do love reading…”

“Take your time to think about it,” Woojin went over and patted the younger boy’s bangs softly. “You don’t have to decide right now. We just wanted to let you know it was an option, you know?”

“Thank you hyungs.” Jisung closed his eyes tight and bawled, one arm wrapped around Changbin and the other wrapped around Woojin.

“We love you Sungie.” Woojin smiled, hugging the boy back. Before anyone could blink, there were six other pairs of arms wrapped around them. They stayed that way for a few moments, until Jisung started wiggling in the center.

“We- we should start getting your shit moved in, right?” Jisung sniffed with a watery smile. “Don’t want to leave the U-Haul truck parked in front of the building for too long.”

“Right, let’s go!” Woojin cheered. The others joined in the cheer and filed out of the empty apartment, laughing and singing loudly as they headed to the elevator at the end of the hall.

Woojin smiled as he watched them all pile into the metal box, only breaking free of his thoughts when Chris tugged on his hand.

“They’re going to leave without us.” he laughed.

“We’ll take the next car down!” Woojin called over. Before anyone could reply, the doors were already closing. Looks like someone was too impatient, Woojin shook his head with a smile before turning to Chris.

“Wooj…”

“Come here pup.” Woojin pulled him closer and slotted their lips together. His skin felt like it was prickling - like kissing Chris was sending electricity through every pore of his body. The hybrid tilted his head slightly, deepening the kiss as he laced their fingers together. Woojin could feel Chris’ heartbeat against his own chest, and his soul felt light.

They broke away, and Woojin rested his forehead against Chris’, smiling into the hybrid’s own. He was about to lean back in when the elevator dinged again. They jumped apart and laughed as Minho poked his head out.

“I fuckin knew it!” He called, his voice light with mirth. “Come on homos, we have a lot of heavy lifting to do and you’re the only ones of our group that have any muscles.”

“Don’t let Changbin hear you say that.” Chris called as they made their way into the open elevator doors.

“I’d like to see him try something,” Minho smirked, pressing the ground floor button. “He might be stronger than me but I have something he doesn’t have.”

“Which is?”

“Height.” Minho’s grin widened, showing off his canines. Chris laughed as a thought struck Woojin suddenly. He stared at Minho, taking in the boy in front of him.

In just the few weeks he had known the hybrid, Minho had easily gained fifteen pounds. His cheeks were full and looked even rounder when he smiled. The bruises under his eyes had faded, and his skin seemed to glow with life again. He laughed more, and smiled more - not only more often and more easily, but it was more genuine too. Woojin also was lucky enough to get to know Minho’s particular brand of humor in the past weeks as well. At first, he seemed humorless and cold, but in reality Minho was funny and a little weird. He would show his affections in strange ways, but those ways were never unwanted. He told jokes that took a few seconds to process, but once they understood the joke, they never laughed harder.

“Do I have something on my face?” Minho asked, breaking Woojin’s musings.

“Yeah,” Woojin reached over and pretended to wipe away something on the cat boy’s cheek. He widened his eyes comically and rubbed a little more. “Oh shit, it’s not coming off. I think it’s permanent.”

“What is it?” Minho asked, looking at the elder with wide eyes.

“It’s the ugly,” Woojin whispered sadly, turning away so Minho couldn’t see him holding back his laughter. “And it seems stuck on you.”

“HYUNG!” Minho whined loudly, smacking Woojin’s back with his fists just hard enough to make the elder’s snickers hiccup.

“Oh, would you look at the time,” Woojin said as the doors opened. “I have to go.”

“GET BACK HERE-” Minho raced after Woojin, who was sprinting away from the elevator and towards the front. Chris watched with a grin. He really had found his family, hadn’t he?

“Hyung, come help me with this!” Jeongin called over to Chris. He was trying to carry a large box, but accidentally almost stepped on his own tail. Chris managed to catch the box in one hand and Jeongin in the other, so neither crashed to the ground.

“Here, help me carry it?” He asked, knowing the younger hybrid would pout if he wasn’t able to help.

“No problem!” The fox grinned, his eyes turning up happily.

“Alright sluts! Let’s get this shit DONE!” Jisung yelled loudly, hoisting several bags up at once. The boys cheered and all grabbed something, taking turns on the elevator as the others unpacked the rest of the rented truck.

 

 

“This is weird.” Chris whispered. It was late, and those that weren’t living at the apartment had left just recently. They didn’t have much, unfortunately, but it was enough to start their life.

Chris and Woojin were still sharing the bed from the old apartment, though the elder boy promised not only his boyfriend but also himself that they would invest in a bigger, nicer, newer mattress as soon as they could. Minho had his own bed from his old apartment, but neither Hyunjin nor Felix had a real bed. Right now they were sharing some blankets and sleeping bags - lent to them so kindly by Seungmin. Woojin already told the two boys getting them beds were their first priority.

They didn’t have a shower curtain yet, but there was a plastic sheet stapled over the bar until they got one - seeing Jisung with a stapler was more concerning than Woojin thought it would be. They had a fridge, but it was old - that was also on the list to be replaced. They didn’t have a kettle, because Woojin’s was rusted and Minho never owned one to begin with. They had meager food in their cabinets, yet had a surprisingly vast collection of bowls, plates and cups - none of which matched in the slightest.

They had a couch, but Woojin wanted to replace it soon because there were more unknown stains than springs left. They didn’t have any decorations, but Changbin promised he’d be able to fix that soon. Woojin wasn’t sure what that meant, but the younger boy just shushed him when he asked.

They didn’t have much, but it was a start.

“Yeah, I can’t believe I got so used to the sound of the traffic that I can’t sleep without it.” Woojin chuckled softly, pulling Chris closer to him. As old and worn as their bed and blankets were, they were familiar. They smelled like him and Chris and home.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this,” Chris said, his voice vibrating through Woojin’s chest and warming the human from the inside out. “But I kinda wish I was a feline hybrid.”

“What? Why?”

“Because then I could purr and help you fall asleep,” Chris turned around so he was facing Woojin. Light streamed through the window, illuminating the human’s sleepy face. Chris thought Woojin was more beautiful than ever. “I want to help you sleep.”

“Just hearing your heartbeat helps me,” Woojin kissed Chris’ nose gently. “Though getting a fan or something couldn’t hurt.”

“We can add it to the list in the morning.” Chris said, his sentence cut off by a large yawn. Woojin smiled and gently poked his finger in Chris’ mouth just before he could close his jaw. The hybrid froze, his teeth just barely touching Woojin’s skin.

Woojin chuckled and pulled his finger away and kissed his boyfriend’s nose again.

“Night baby.” Chris said with a smile and a short shake of his head.

“Night pup,” He kissed Chris properly before letting his head fall onto the pillow. “I love you.”

“Love you more.”

“You wanna know something?” Woojin whispered. Chris hummed but didn’t open his eyes. “Waking up next to someone I love has been a dream of mine for years, and now I can live my dream every single morning.” Chris opened his eyes and snuggled into Woojin’s chest even more.

“Cheesy.” he said, the sound of tears heavy behind his words.

“Don’t cry pup,” Woojin kissed his head, right at the base of Chris’ ears. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“Not upset,” Chris muttered into Woojin’s shirt. “I just… never thought I’d ever find someone to love me, and I’ve been telling myself that this is all a dream too… and I’m afraid I’m going to wake up and I’ll be back in my dog house-”

“You’ll never have to go back there,” Woojin held his boyfriend firmly. “You never, ever have to go back to that man ever again. I’ll make sure you’re safe. No matter what.”

“I love you…” Chris’ eyes started to flutter shut. Woojin was a little surprised that the smaller boy was still awake. Chris had worked harder than any of them with the move, and even with his hybrid endurance, he should have passed out hours ago.

“Go to sleep baby boy,” Woojin kissed Chris’ forehead gently. Just before Chris fell asleep, Woojin whispered softly into the hybrid’s furry ear. “I love you more.”

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe this is actually working.” Changbin said with a short laugh. Never - not once since the shop opened - had it been so crowded. There were easily fifty people crammed in the small record store. There was barely enough space to walk, and Woojin had a line at the register.

“Innie and Minnie were right,” Jisung laughed as he pulled a record out for a customer. Seungmin and Jeongin were out at the end of the alley, calling people out as they walked down the street and handing them flyers for the store. Hyunjin and Felix promised to help as soon as they were done their shifts at the cafe, which would only draw an even bigger crowd. “We’re going to run out of inventory.”

“I doubt that’ll happen, don’t worry,” Chris came out from the back, balancing two large boxes on top of each other. Thankfully those in the way saw him coming and quickly moved aside. “We have plenty in the back still.”

“Bin! Can you come help me for second?” Woojin called over. There was a problem with someone’s card, and Woojin felt bad that there was such a long line forming.

“Be right there!” Changbin called back, his eyes shining.

“Sorry for the wait everyone, our computers aren’t used to so much traffic,” Woojin joked, lightening the mood of those in line. “If anyone is paying with cash, I can help you while Changbin fixes the card reader.”

Chris watched Woojin smile and laugh as he helped customer after customer with a soft expression. There was something about the other boy - maybe it was the way his bangs fell in his face or how his eyes lit up when he saw a record he recognized or maybe it was the way he would occasionally glance over at Chris and smile at him before turning his attention back to the person he was helping - but Chris was absolutely enthralled by the human. He was transfixed. He was absolutely, completely, head over heels in love with Woojin.

“Um excuse me?” A young woman asked, breaking Chris from his thoughts about his boyfriend. “Do you have any other CDs by this artist?”

“If we have any out, it’ll be over there, somewhere on that third shelf,” He said, pointing to their wall of CDs. “If there aren’t any out, I can always check the back. We get new CDs and records in daily, so there’s always stuff we haven’t had the chance to sort through yet.”

“Thank you so much.” She chirped before bouncing over to the shelf Chris had pointed to. He chuckled a little and went back to the job he had been doing before Woojin and his perfect smile distracted him.

“Have you had lunch yet?” Changbin came over to him, placing a hand on the wolf’s shoulder.

“Nah, but I’m not hungry,” Chris said, not taking his eyes off the records in his hands. He wanted to get the two boxes alphabetized before any more customers came in. “Ask Wooj though. I know he hadn’t eaten yet.”

“Ah, you sure? You’ve been working hard.”

“Yeah, I’ll take a break when it calms down a little,” He chuckled again and slotted the last record in his hands into the N section before bending down to grab another armfull. “If I stop now, I’ll never get back into this groove.”

“I get that,” Changbin smiled. Chris had seen Changbin happy before, obviously, but this was something new. This was the look performers had on their face when they heard people cheering their name for the first time. This was Changbin, watching his passion project - his baby of a store - explode and grow. “I’ll talk to Woojin hyung now, but don’t wait too long to eat okay? I need you to be able to work!”

“Aye aye captain!” Chris saluted with his free hand, causing Changbin to wrinkle his nose and stick out his tongue before gently making his way up to the counter again. Chris turned back to his work, the thought of a nice hot bath after the store closed sounded nicer and nicer as the clock ticked on.

 

 

“Everyone set?” Changbin asked the group gathered in the shop. The store itself officially closed two hours ago, but to celebrate such a successful day Changbin had treated everyone to dinner, including Minho - who only managed to come after his shift.

“Thanks for dinner hyung!” Seungmin said, his eyes soft with exhaustion.

“You guys worked hard,” Changbin laughed happily. “If it weren’t for you four, I don’t think this store would have ever seen so many people.”

“We can come back tomorrow!” Jeongin offered, clutching onto Seungmin’s arm.

“And I can be there the whole time cuz tomorrow is my day off.” Hyunjin chimed in.

“Lucky, I have an opening shift.” Felix muttered, pouting towards the other barista.

“Don’t worry, I’ll come in and bother you,” Hyunjin grinned and slung an arm over Felix’s shoulders. “Make you give me free shit.”

“As if I wouldn’t already.” The freckled boy laughed and let Hyunjin ruffle his bangs - careful not to touch the stubs.

“I work again tomorrow but I’ll be sending positive thoughts your way,” Minho added as he picked through the leftovers. “Especially if it means another free meal.”

“Moochers, the lot of you.” Changbin scowled, but everyone could see the affection in his eyes as he did so.

“Well, you know we’ll be here tomorrow,” Jisung said from on top of the counter. “We’re always here.”

“Exactly, so there must be a reason I keep you around.” Changbin swatted at the younger boy’s thigh.

“See you in the morning Binnie.” Woojin pulled the shorter boy into a hug.

“Thanks for all your help hyung,” Changbin whispered, so only the older boy could hear. “This was all thanks to you, you know. We’d never be here without you.”

“Love you Bin.” Woojin was afraid if he said anything more, he’d start to tear up.

“Come on,” Chris yawned loudly and scratched his ear before putting his beanie back on. “We should head back. I’m beat and I’ve been drooling over the idea of a bath since noon.”

“See you guys!” Felix waved as they, Hyunjin and Minho left the store, the streetlights the only illumination besides the moon itself to guide them home.

 

 

“Oh fuck yeah,” Chris moaned as he slid into the hot water. He had never been more grateful that their bedroom had a bathroom to itself, because if he had to wait for Felix to stop singing in the shower, he was going to have a full meltdown. “God it feels so good.”

“Having fun without me?” Woojin teased, slipping his shirt off over his head.

“Why don’t you come join me and find out?” Chris teased right back, sitting up in the tub to make room for his boyfriend. They found out on their first full day at the new apartment that they could both fit, as long as Chris was practically sitting on Woojin’s lap.

Not that either of them minded.

“Oh shit, you were right,” Woojin closed his eyes as the hot water enveloped his sore body. He didn’t even realize how achy his limbs were until the heat was beating away at the pain. “This feels amazing.”

“I didn’t realize I was so tired until I got warm,” Chris yawned, leaning and resting his cheek on Woojin’s bare shoulder. “I just wanna fall asleep here.”

“Then you’ll get sick, and Binnie will be down two workers.” Woojin laughed a little, splashing Chris gently with the pink tinted water. Woojin had never used a bath bomb before, but Chris was obsessed, so in the last few weeks in the new apartment they had the opportunity to try many of them.

“Two?”

“You think I’d go to work when you have to stay home sick?” Woojin asked, grabbing Chris around the waist. “Leave my beautiful boyfriend to fester alone will his illness? I don’t think so pup.”

“I’ve never had someone take care of me while I was sick,” Chris muttered, leaning into Woojin’s touch more. The water may have been hot, but the feeling of skin on skin was even hotter. He let out three obviously fake coughs and looked up expectantly at the human behind him. “Oh no, I’m sick. Take care of meee.” He whined, trying to lean up and kiss Woojin, who easily avoided the smooch.

“Well, if you’re sick I can’t kiss you,” he said playfully, grinning at Chris’ sudden frown. “If you get me sick, who’s gonna take care of you, huh?”

“I’m not sick anymore,” Chris turned so he was straddling his boyfriend, his knees pressed tightly against the edge of the tub but he didn’t care. Just seeing Woojin’s sudden flush made it worth it. “So kiss me?”

“Was that a question or a demand pup?” Woojin grinned, his hands resting firmly on Chris’ hips. He could feel the heavy weight of his boyfriend’s tail resting on top of his shins under the water, and could see Chris’ dark bangs starting to curl.

“Both?”

“Hmm so needy,” Woojin teased, leaning in to kiss Chris. He nipped at Chris’ lip, causing the hybrid to growl in the back of his throat. Woojin loved to tease the other, seeing what sounds he could coax from plump, kiss reddened lips. “Good thing that’s exactly how I like you. Needy, whimpering, begging for me.”

“Woojin…” Chris’ golden eyes flashed, his ears pressed down flat against his skull. Woojin could feel his boyfriend grinding down on him and grinned.

“So needy that you can’t wait for me, huh?” Woojin teased some more, his hand trailing down to cup Chris’ ass gently. Chris closed his eyes and inhaled sharply.

“Please-”

“Please what pup? Use your words for me.”

“Please touch me-” Chris ground down again, only to be stopped by a large hand on his hip.

“Remember what happened last time we tried in the tub?” Woojin asked with an amused smile. Chris thought for a second before cringing. How could he forget? Woojin had a bruise the size of a grapefruit on his lower back for almost two weeks after he fell trying to prep Chris in the water. “Come on love, let’s enjoy the rest of the hot water and go to bed. If you’re still feeling up to it we can enjoy the comfy new mattress.”

“We’ve had it for like a month,” Chris giggled a little, sliding down again so his back was flush with Woojin’s chest. Woojin’s arms snaked around the hybrid’s waist easily, as if they were meant to hold him. “How long is it going to be new?”

“Well, seeing how the other one was a thrifted purchase, it’s gonna be new for a while.”

“How long is a while?”

“At least a year.” Woojin smiled, but Chris grew quiet.

“You think we’ll still be together in a year?” He asked quietly.

“I sure hope so,” Woojin kissed the back of his damp neck. “I’d have to be a complete idiot to give you up.”

“Not just us - like, you and me,” Chris’s shoulders slumped. “I mean all of us. The nine of us together. Do you think…. Woojin, a lot can happen in a year. I don’t want to lose any of you guys.”

“I think we’ll still be together in a year,” Woojin said confidently. “Sometimes you meet someone and you just know. Just know that they’re going to be an important part of your life, and that their always going to be there. Minho, Hyunjin, Felix, Changbin and Jisung, Seungmin and Jeongin...they’re special people pup. They’re meant to be in our lives, just like we’re meant to be in each other’s, and nothing can take that away from us.”

“I love you.” Chris whispered, turning his head to plant a soft kiss to Woojin’s collarbone.

“I love you more.”

“Not possible.”

“Why don’t we dry off and let me show you I love you more.” Woojin grinned, cutting Chris’ complaint off with a deeper kiss. It always worked, Chris melting into the kiss like his life depended on Woojin’s lips being on his.

Sure, Woojin was exhausted, but he had more important things to do than sleep. Mainly showing Chris how much he adored him.



“Wow, it’s so quiet…” Woojin murmured, almost afraid to speak any louder - as if he would break whatever silence spell was placed over their apartment.

For the first time since moving in, everyone’s schedules just happened to align in such a specific way that Woojin and Chris were alone in the apartment. For the entire day.

“It feels like we’re forgetting to do something.” Chris whispered back, eyeing the empty living room.

‘“I mean, this is our first day off together in… two weeks,” Woojin hugged Chris from behind, resting his chin on the other boy’s shoulder. “It feels weird not going down to the shop, but at the same time I’ve missed being able to sleep in.”

“I love having the opportunity to work,” Chris leaned back into Woojin’s touch, his tail swishing almost silently between his legs. “But sometimes being able to do nothing all day is just as good.”

“Wanna make some breakfast together?” Woojin asked, pressing a kiss into Chris’ shoulder.

“It’s lunch time.” Chris laughed, his dimples showing on round cheeks. Woojin loved his smile more than anything. It was so bright and his entire face would light up.

“How about some breakfast fried rice?” Woojin suggested, digging through their fridge.

“Never had it.”

“It’s really good,” Woojin started piling ingredients onto the counter. “I found the recipe randomly when I first moved out of my parents house. One batch is enough for six people so I would make it and save it for breakfast and lunch for the next day.”

“What can I do to help?” Chris asked, his tails falling limp behind him. He didn’t miss how Woojin phrased his sentence. ‘When I moved out of my parents’ - Chris remembered what Woojin had told him. He hadn't moved. He had run away.

Chris chest burned as he started the rice cooker. His Woojin - kind, caring, compassionate, funny, loving Woojin, was chased from his home… A spike of rage shot down his spine. If anyone threatened to hurt his Woojin again, he wouldn’t hesitate.

He finished cleaning the rice and put it in the cooker before turning and wrapping his arms around Woojin’s waist and resting his head on the human’s shoulder. Woojin hummed happily as he cut up the ingredients. They still had some time before the rice was ready, so once Woojin washed his hands, they made their way to the couch.

“I could stay like this forever.” Chis sighed, closing his eyes and letting Woojin pull him closer. The hybrid laid on top of Woojin, his breath hitting the human’s throat comfortably. Their legs intertwined together and their fingers laced.

“Hmm you’re comfy.” Woojin nuzzled Chris’ cheek with his nose.

“I bet I’m crushing you.” Chris wiggled but Woojin wouldn’t let him leave.

“You weight like ten pounds,” Woojin grinned. “It’s like there’s a pillow on me.”

“Liar,” Chris whined louder. “You’ve made me gain so much weight.”

“And you look adorable,” Woojin’s eyes turned up as he smiled. “You’re soft now and I love holding you and kissing your stomach and feeling your thighs around my ears-”

“Wooj!” Chris whined, blushing and cutting him off.

“It’s true though! I think you’re amazing,” Woojin whispered, pulling Chris into a kiss. The hybrid instantly submitted to Woojin, melting against the human’s lips without hesitation. He opened his mouth, letting Woojin’s tongue run along his canines. He pulled away and kissed along Chris’ jaw. “Perfect, and amazing, and wonderful and gorgeous-”

“Ah, Woojin…” Chris whimpered, his eyes watering. He didn’t think he would ever get used to hearing such sweet words coming from Woojin’s mouth. He’d never get used to hearing someone as perfect as Woojin speaking so softly about someone like him. Someone so flawed and broken as he was.

“My pup,” Woojin kissed down Chris’ throat. “My angel. My Chris.”

“I don’t wanna get up ever.”

“Then don’t.” Woojin didn’t open his eyes as his tongue ran along Chris’ neck, causing the hybrid to shudder.

“But-but the rice cooker beeped-” He tried to keep his voice steady. He couldn’t give into Woojin’s touch yet. He needed to make sure the older boy ate before they did any sort of strenuous exercise.

“Who cares.” Woojin groaned, holding onto Chris’ waist tighter.

“I care, because you haven’t eaten yet today,” Chris wiggled, this time managing to squirm his way out of Woojin’s arms. He landed heavily on the carpet, both boys moaning for different reasons - Chris in pain and Woojin in disappointment. “We have all day together, and I want to cook with you.”

“Since you asked so nicely.” Woojin smiled and stood, stretching and cracking his back. He reached out for Chris’ hand and went towards the kitchen. Woojin put some upbeat music on and they started cooking. They danced around each other as they threw things into the frying pan and kissed to the beat of whatever song was playing. By the time it was time to eat, Chris’ cheeks hurt from smiling.

“Oh fuck Wooj…” Chris groaned into his first mouthful. “This is so good.”

“And there’s plenty, so eat up,” Woojin smiled, watching Chris shovel a few more bites into his mouth before starting on his own bowl. They ate in silence for a while, content with just sitting next to each other on the couch. “We should probably clean up, shouldn’t we?”

“Nah,” Chris said through a full mouth. “We have time. Leave the pan to soak and one of us will get to it eventually.”

“That’s setting a bad example.” Woojin couldn’t help but laugh at the look on Chris’ face as he set his chopsticks down.

“It’s our day off,” he complained, his ears twitching as a car honked outside. “We can do whatever we want, and we don’t wanna do the dishes right now.”

“What do we want to do instead?” Woojin asked, raising an eyebrow.

“I don’t know about you, but I’d like to do you,” Chris sai casually, draining his cup. “Or rather, I’d like for you to do me.”

“Well, since you asked so nicely.” Woojin grinned and stood abruptly, scooping Chris into his arms. Chris yelped and held onto Woojin’s shirt tightly as they rushed towards the bathroom, their dirty dishes forgotten in the living room.

Woojin gently threw Chris onto the bed, pulling his shirt off and throwing it onto the floor. He’d deal with it later. Right now there was a hybrid in his bed that needed to be showered in love.

He attacked Chris with kisses, his heart soaring at the sound of the other boy giggling from the barrage of smooches. He stopped for a second and pulled back, grinning down at Chris and taking in the image in front of him.

Chris, his bangs messy and his cheeks red and his dimples on full display. This was the Chris that Woojin loved the most - happy and content and loved.

He kissed Chris deeply, getting lost in the feeling of tongue on tongue and teeth on lips. He blinked and suddenly Chris was straddling him, his own shirt now missing as well. He grinned - he liked it when the hybrid took over, even if it was usually fairly short lived. Woojin learned quickly that because of his past, Chris liked to be taken care of and treated softly more often than not.

Chris took over the kiss, only letting Woojin hold onto his hips. If he tried to touch anymore, the brunette would pull back and smack the older boy with a smirk. There was something so… freeing, knowing they didn’t have to rush, or be silent. They could be as loud as they wanted. They could spend all day lavishing each other in affection if they wanted.

Woojin never thought he’d find someone who could make his skin feel like it was on fire just from pressing a kiss to it. He thought talk of soulmates was bullshit - that no one could complete someone so perfectly.

No one could make his eyes roll back with their tongue or make his heart skip a beat with the sounds they make as he touches their body. No one could make Woojin feel like he was meant to exist.

Then he met Chris.

He gave Chris’ tail a gentle tug, right by the base where the grey-blond fur blends in with his pale skin, making Chris shiver. Woojin loved how he could turn the normally so confident and strong hybrid into a quivering mess. Only he affected Chris this way.

“Oh?” Woojin raised an eyebrow as his finger slipped easily into his boyfriend. Chris’ pale cheeks flushed bright red as he buried his face in the blankets.

“I, uh… prepped ahead of time,” He muttered, his human ears red and his canine ears laying low. Flustered Chris was high up on Woojin’s favorite Chris list, right next to sleepy, hungry, pouty, enthusiastic, competitive - the list went on and on. “I know we have more time today but I just… I wanted you to be close as soon as possible.”

“Oh pup, you’re so good to me,” Woojin whispered, watching Chris’ tail start to wag lazily. “I’m just going to do a little more prep, so I don’t hurt you.”

“I really don’t need it-” Chris started to whine until Woojin started working him open again. Woojin’s fingers were longer and thicker than his, and the human couldn’t help but smirk at how Chris jerked and writhed under his touch.

“Ready love?” Woojin asked, peppering Chris’ face in soft, light kisses. Chris whimpered and nodded, his face stained red.

Woojin slipped the condom on and gently pushed in, making sure to go as slow as he could handle. Just because he prepped Chris didn’t mean he could be rough. Chris bucked back, trying to be filled faster, but a firm hand on his hip kept him still. Once Woojin bottomed out, he leaned over Chris’ back and started kissing his shoulder blades.

“Woojin- please…”

“Please what pup?” He asked, pulling out just a fraction.

“Don’t make me beg…”

“No begging,” Woojin teased. “I just want you to use your words for me, gorgeous.”

“Hng, not fair,” Chris whined before turning his head so he could look Woojin in the eye, his face even more flushed. “Please move. I want to feel you.”

“Anything for my pup.” Woojin began slowly thrusting, feeling Chris’ skin heat up under his tough. There was something so special about being with Chris. They weren’t fucking - they had never ‘fucked’.

They were making love, as cheesy as Woojin thought the saying was. It was cheesy, but it was fitting.

Chris really was his other half. Woojin wondered once, before they even moved, what his life would be like if he had never gone into that alley that night, and felt his eyes start to sting. He couldn’t even begin to picture how colorless his world would be without the boy in his arms, and their obnoxious, loud, lovable friends.

“Woojin-” Chris panted, his nails digging into the sheets. Woojin easily flipped him over - partially wanting to see his boyfriend’s face as he came undone and partially to keep Chris from ripping yet another set of sheets with his claws.

“My pretty pup,” Woojin left marks down Chris’ neck. It was always a shame when they would fade overnight, but it just gave him a fresh canvas the next morning. “My beautiful baby. My good boy.”

“Ah- Wooj-”

“Such a good boy,” Woojin watched fondly as Chris’ muscles started to strain. He knew when his boyfriend was getting close. The ears on the top of his head would press against his sweaty hair and his muscles should shake from the strain. “My good boy. My pup. My baby boy. Love of my life.”

“I- I love you-” Chris sobbed, tears running down his cheeks. The tears had scared Woojin at first, thinking he had hurt Chris, but he quickly realized they were good tears. It meant Chris was happy and overwhelmed by how Woojin was making him feel.

“Ah, pup-” Woojin didn’t even have to say any more. He used his elbow to prop himself up just enough to capture Chris’ lips in a deep kiss as he used his other hand to push the hybrid over the edge. He moaned as Chris bit down, his orgasm making him lose his senses for a moment.

Woojin came inside Chris, closing his eyes tightly as the hybrid clenched around him until they were both panting. He collapsed next to his boyfriend, gently pulling out and kissing Chris’ face as he winced at the feeling.

“Sorry,” Chris said, smiling softly at Woojin. He reached over and wiped a bead of blood from his lip. “I didn’t mean to bite.”

“Normally good dogs don’t bite, but I like it when you do it.” He smirked devilishly, causing Chris to blush and bury his face in Woojin’s damp chest.

“...” Chris muttered something that Woojin couldn’t quite hear.

“What was that love?” He asked, pulling away so he could look the other boy in the eye.

“I love you a lot,” He whispered again, smiling despite the tears threatening to fall once more. “It feels like a dream, being with you.”

“Wanna take a nap together? We can clean up and sleep for a bit.” Woojin offered, propping himself up slightly.

“I have a better idea.” Chris grinned.

“What is it?”

“Take a guess.” He pounced on the human, attacking his lips again. Something Woojin was still getting used to? Hybrid endurance. He grinned into the kiss, feeling his dick start to twitch back to life.

Oh the things Chris did to him.



“If one more thing goes wrong today…” Woojin growled to himself. He was in the back room of the record shop, ready to punch a wall.

Everything that could have gone wrong, had gone wrong. First, his alarm didn’t go off, so he was awoken oh so delicately by a call from Changbin - who wasn’t happy with his employee not being at work. Especially when they had a big shipment come in.

He didn’t eat breakfast, and his coffee was too bitter to enjoy. Chris had off because he was helping Felix with something, so Woojin had to rush off alone. As soon as he got to the shop, he was swamped. Between customers and sorting the new records, he barely had a chance to breathe. It didn’t help that apparently the sign in the window read ‘bring in your worst attitude and take it out on the workers please’.

He was screamed at, called stupid, called ugly, said he should be fired - all for the stupidest reasons too. The CD was scratched, the record wasn’t in the right place, he couldn't give a refund for the album the customer broke after purchase.

He was almost done though. Just one more box of CDs had to be gone through, then he could go home. He opened a cracked plastic case and cursed loudly. The broken plastic slit his thumb down to the meaty part of his palm, and blood instantly started dripping down his hand.

“Shit, fuck-” He tried not to yell, but the cut was starting to hurt like a bitch. How deep could it have cut? Pretty damn deep, apparently.

“Why are you cursing with customers- oh, shit,” Changbin’s eyes widened when he saw Woojin clutching his hand, blood gushing onto the worn carpet. “Fuck, I’ll get Jisung to help patch you up. You can go home once you’re not… dying.”

“Thanks Bin.” Woojin grimaced and made his way up to the apartment. By the time Jisung cleaned and bandaged his hand, it was past his time to leave anyway. He waved goodbye and practically sprinted from the shop.

He got back to the apartment and was greeted by the wonderful sound of shouting. He toed off his shoes, a headache already pounding behind his eyes.

“Why would you request off that day?” Felix yelled, his eyes flashing gold in the light of the living room. “You KNEW I had something planned!”

“I didn’t know it was that day,,” Hyunjin shouted back. “I wanted to go to the museum that day because there’s that new exhibit-”

“I KNOW ABOUT THE EXHIBIT,” Felix screamed. Woojin flinched, never having heard the younger boy raise his voice. “I WAS GOING TO TAKE CHANGBIN HYUNG THERE FOR A DATE BEFORE YOU RUINED EVERYTHING!”

“HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW?”

“I’VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT IT FOR DAYS-”

“Obviously it’s not that important to you,” Hyunjin huffed. “Otherwise you would have taken off forever ago-”

He didn’t get the chance to finish before Felix was throwing himself at the other boy. Hyunjin barely had time to put an arm up before his friend was throwing a punch right at his face. The blow glanced off Hyunjin’s arm, but the boy still cried out as he stumbled back. He glared at Felix, who was panting heavily.

“ENOUGH!” Woojin bellowed, causing everyone to freeze. “NO FIGHTING.”

“But hyung-”

“NO BUTS. I had a shit day and I’m not going to let you fucking duke it out over something so- so petty.”

“But-”

“Hyunjin! Go to Minho’s room. Felix, go to the spare room. NOW.”

“Why can’t I just go to my own room?” Felix fumed, looking close to tears.

“Because, then Hyunjin would get upset,” Woojin’s headache spiked. “I said go.”

“But-”

“And don’t come out until you’re ready to apologize!” He shouted, sending the two scrambling away.

“Woojin? Are you alright?” Chris came out of the bedroom, a damp towel draped over his head. He was only wearing sweatpants - the pair that Woojin cut a hole in for his tail.

“Just tired pup.” He muttered, instantly collapsing into Chris’ arms.

“What happened?”

“Work sucked. All the customers sucked. Slit my fucking hand open…. I just want to go to bed and not wake up for at least three days.”

“Well, I can arrange for a few hours but three days is too much,” Chris chuckled lightly, petting Woojin’s head. “I’d miss you too much.”

“Hmm I love you,” He stood and started to dry Chris’ hair, being careful of his ears - as he always was. He frowned, noticing just how far Chris’ natural blond had grown in. Normally it wouldn’t be a problem, because he wore a beanie or hood when he went out into public, but it was getting to the point where the blond would start to show from under the hats. “We need to redye your hair soon. Your roots are growing out way too much.”

“I was thinking of just bleaching it back to blond,” Chris wrinkled his nose a little when Woojin tugged on his hair. “Maybe going silver?”

“It’s too dangerous pup,” Woojin frowned. “It’s safer to just keep it dark for now-”

“But Wooj, it’s been months since he broke in, and we’ve moved. We’re not in the bad part of town anymore,” Chris frowned, taking the towel from his boyfriend. “There’s no way he’d be able to find us, and besides, it’s just hair-”

“It’s not just hair though,” Woojin’s heachache was back with a vengeance. “It’s so much more than just hair. It’s about your safety Chris. It’s about your safety, and the other’s safety.”

“We’re safe now,” Chris tried to reach for Woojin’s hand but the elder pulled away. “There’s nothing to be scared about-”

“Nothing to be scared about?” Woojin shouted, causing Chris to flinch in shock. “Do you have any idea how many nights I couldn’t sleep because I was so scared of you being abducted in the night? How many nightmares I’ve had about coming home and finding you gone? Or worse! Finding you dead on the fucking bedroom floor?”

“Woojin-” Chris’ golden eyes were wide.

“And it’s more than just us now! What about the others? What if they get dragged into this? We need to be careful or they’re going to get hurt too!”

“But-”

“It’s not just about you, Chris,” Woojin didn’t know what he was saying. God he wanted to stop, to take the words back - to snatch them back from the air before they could reach Chris’ ears, but he was mad. He was furious. Every small inconvenience that made his blood boil was hitting him all at once and he was spilling over. “What if it’s Jeongin next, huh? Or Felix? What if it’s me again Chris? Don’t you care about us?”

“Of course I care!” Chris screamed, any fear replaced with anger. “How could you even ask that? You guys mean everything to me!”

“Oh really, but all of a sudden we don’t have to worry about anyone else though? We don’t have to be concerned that a fucking psycopath might break into this apartment and kill everyone in it anymore?”

“I-”

“You’re so selfish sometimes!” Woojin clenched his fists so tightly he could feel blood beading up in the crescent indents. “I do everything to keep you safe and this is how you thank me? By telling me to fuck off and stop caring?”

“I never said that!”

“But you fucking implied it!”

“Who are you?” Chris asked, eerily silent.

“What?”

“Who are you?” A tear ran down Chris’ cheek. His normally bright eyes were dark. “Because I know my Woojin would NEVER talk to me like this.”

“Maybe you didn’t know me as well as you thought you did.” Woojin’s chest hurt. God, why couldn’t he stop TALKING-

“Fuck you Woojin.” Chris hissed, storming past his boyfriend towards the front door. He grabbed his hoodie from it’s perpetual spot on the back of the couch and slipped on his shoes, all while Woojin watched in shock.

“Wh- wait, where are you going?” All the rage in Woojin’s body evaporated at the same time.

“Out.”

“It’s late-” He couldn’t even finish his sentence. Chris slammed the door, leaving Woojin alone in the living room, staring at where his boyfriend had just been. He could hear Felix and Hyunjin crying in their rooms and his knees gave out.

What had he just done? How could he- how dare he say those things to Chris? To the one person Woojin really, truly loved?

He just wanted Chris to be safe, but he drove him away instead.

Woojin crawled onto the couch and sobbed into one of the pillow, his whole body aching with the howls that wracked his body. He didn’t realize he was falling asleep until it was already upon him.

 

 

“Hyung? Hyung wake up.” Minho poked Woojin, who shot up.

“Chris-”

“Just me hyung,” Minho looked at the older boy, concerned. “You look like shit hyung, what happened?”

“Got… got into a fight with Chris,” He sniffled. He went to rub his eyes when he realized there was dried blood caked on his hands. Dried…? “Minho… what time is it?”

“Almost two in the morning,” Minho hung his coat by the door. “How long have you been on the couch?”

“Two in the-” he shot up. Chris left almost five hours ago. He ran to the bedroom and threw the door open, but to his horror the bed was empty. The bathroom was empty. He found Felix and Hyunjin talking quietly in their room, arms around each other, but no Chris. No Chris in Minho’s room. No Chris in the spare room. No Chris in the second bathroom.

Chris’ shoes were still missing. Woojin called him, but Chris didn’t pick up his phone. Woojin felt his knees give out again for the second time that night. It was two in the morning and Chris still wasn’t home. He had driven the only good thing in his life away.

Chris was gone, and it was all Woojin’s fault.

Chapter Text

He was a mess, and it was only five in the morning.

Everyone was either already gathered in the apartment, or on their way - namely Changbin, who had the unfortunate task of waking Jisung up and dragging them both over so early in the morning.

Minho was bouncing from boy to boy, asking if they were hungry or if they wanted a blanket. He was fussing because he was worried, but that was the least of Woojin’s problems. He had no idea what to do next. Chris - his Chris - was somewhere in the city. He knew the hybrid was strong, and that he could defend himself if needed, but he was still terrified. What if he got shot? Or hit by a speeding car? Or mugged? What if the police found him and took him to a shelter?

What if his old owner found him?

So many things could have gone wrong. He had been gone for almost nine hours already.

Woojin’s eyes stung again. He had been crying since Minho woke him up on and off. Sometimes he sobbed, sometimes it was silent tears rolling down his face and sometimes he was so numb he couldn’t cry at all. Never in his life had he gone through so many emotions in such a short amount of time.

“Sorry it took so long,” Changbin said, letting himself into the apartment. “We missed the bus and had to wait for the next one but since it’s so early they don’t come by that often.”

“What happened to Chris hyung?” Jisung asked, his eyes puffy and glassy from sleep. Woojin could see the fear radiating from the boy.

“Hyungs got into a fight,” Hyunjin muttered, knowing Woojin wasn’t going to say anything. He had been trying for three hours to get Woojin to say something other than ‘this is all my fault’ but it was hopeless. “And then Chris hyung just… walked out. No one’s heard from him since and we’re freaking out because chris hyung would never j-just leave us-us like this… I’m just so- so scared something b-bad happened-”

“Hyung’ll be alright Jinnie,” Jisung pulled Hyunjin into a hug. “He’s stronger than any of us.”

“What’s the plan then?” Changbin asked, sitting between Seungmin and Jeongin, who had no problem sneaking out of their house. Their driver brought them right to the apartment - no need for buses and no questions asked.

“I dunno… start by looking for him I guess.” Woojin’s voice cracked painfully, and everyone winced a little at how broken he sounded.

“Where should we start?”

“Well, where would he have gone?” Changbin offered. “There has to be places he would always go on a normal day right?”

“There’s the convenience store around the corner, the cafe, the music shop but you would have seen him there,” Woojin started listing places. “He really likes the-” He stopped.

“What?”

“The park!” He shouted, running to the door, not even caring that he was wearing slippers.

“Wait for us!” Someone called, but Woojin was already out the door.

 


“We’ve looked everywhere,” Hyunjin said softly, watching Woojin frantically search the dawn lit grounds. “If he was here, we would have found him-”

“I’m going to call him again.” Woojin pulled out his phone, trying to ignore how badly his hands were shaking. He held the device up to his ear, each ring making the anxiety and fear bubble in his stomach more and more. What if they never find him? What if he-

“Do you hear that?” Jisung asked, his head whipping in the direction of the sound. Woojin turned in the direction Jisung was looking and felt his heart drop through the ground.

The ringing stopped, as did the sound.

“Call again.” Minho urged, his eyes focusing through the dim light. Woojin hit redial and waited. After a few moments, the sound was heard again. Felix made it there first, picking up Chris’ phone from under a bush.

The screen was shattered to the point where you couldn’t see anything being displayed. Woojin hung up his phone and took the other one from the younger boy, looking at it closely. There was a huge dent in the top corner, as if it had been thrown.

“It smells like blood.” Minho whispered.

“Well, we know he was here,” Seungmin bit hit bottom lip. He didn’t want to be too cynical - for Woojin’s sake - but it wasn’t looking good. A broken phone discarded under a bush in a dark park, smelling of blood and the owner nowhere in sight? “Now we have to figure out what to do.”

“We can see if there are fingerprints on the phone!” Jisung said quickly, his eyes bright with hope.

“Even if he had the resources, Felix and Woojin hyung both touched it too, which means it would be hard to get anything solid,” Minho said regretfully. “Besides, Chris hyung isn’t Woojin hyung’s hybrid. If we went to the police, he could be arrested for property theft and then we’d never find Chris hyung.”

“What if we never find him?” Woojin whispered, hot tears splashing onto the broken screen, dripping in between the cracks. “What if- if the last time I saw him I- I was yelling at him and s-saying such awful things-”

His knees gave out, the dew on the grass soaking into his pants but he didn’t even notice. He held the phone close to his chest and sobbed. Chris was gone, and he may never come back. Woojin had finally found something worth fighting for. Something worth holding onto. Someone worth coming home to.

“Come on hyung, let’s go back,” Minho placed a gentle hand on Woojin’s shaking shoulder. “We can brainstorm more when we’re not out in the cold.”

“I’ll make some breakfast,” Jisung offered, trying his best to hold back tears, but everyone could see he was close. “We can- we’re gonna find him. We’re gonna find Chris hyung and we’re gonna bring him home.”

At the word ‘home’, Woojin cried even harder.

 

“Okay, now what?” Hyunjin asked after putting the last plate in the dishwasher. Woojin had finally calmed down some, but he was still sniffling every few seconds. He barely touched his food, despite the others urging him to eat.

“We need to think of something to do.” Changbin shrugged, as if that was going to be easy.

“We could start by going around to different hospitals to see if anyone matching Chris hyung’s description had come in?” Jeongin suggested. “We could say Woojin hyung’s hybrid had run away, or that he was stolen so they’d be more sympathetic?”

“That’s- that’s a solid idea,” Seungmin smiled faintly at his friend. “We can split into groups to cover more ground.”

“Groups of two could work, as long as we look human,” Minho said with a frown. “They wouldn’t believe that someone with more than one hybrid would have lost one, or that a hybrid would be out looking for another on his own.”

“Most hybrid hospitals don’t open to the public until ten,” Hyunjin commented. “They have emergency services all night but reception won’t be open for almost three hours.”

“What do we do until then?”

“Practice our stories so they sound realistic, I guess.” Woojin squared his shoulders, a new fire burning in his eyes.



“Hello, I was wondering if my hybrid was brought in?” Woojin felt bile in the back of his throat everytime he had to refer to Chris as his hybrid, but he needed to. He and Minho had already been to the main hospital with no luck, and were now looking at the smaller clinics in the area. Jeongin and Seungmin went to hospitals near their neighborhood, Jisung and Changbin went to the West most side of the city while Felix and Hyunjin went north. They’ve been checking in with the chat and so far no luck.

“What breed is he and can you provide a physical description?” The receptionist asked politely.

“He’s a grey wolf, around my height with curly brown hair and blonde roots and dimples,” Woojin knew he needed to keep his composure but it was hard when every minute was being wasted. “We think he was taken sometime this morning and I’m scared he was hurt.”

“Unfortunately, sir, no wolf hybrids have come through our systems at all recently,” She said, clicking around her computer screen. “There is another clinic about twenty minutes away if you wanted to check there. I can give you the address.”

“Yes please, thank you.”

“Between you and me, it’s not the best place,” She whispered, writing down an address on a scrap of paper. “If your hybrid was stolen, that’s probably where he was taken. They do a lot of shady work there. We’ve been trying to get them shut down for years but they always managed to talk their way out of it.”

“Thanks for the heads up,” Woojin smiled, despite the unease in his stomach. “We should get going. Have a nice day.”

“Good luck kid.” She waved as they left the clinic. Woojin waited until they were on the sidewalk to let his shoulders drop. He leaned against a nearby wall and slid into a crouch, resting his forehead on his knees. He dug his nails into his hand, reopening the cut from the night before.

“What if we can’t find him Min?” He whispered, his throat tightening with the threat of tears. “It- it feels like this fuckin city is so big… how are we ever going to find him?”

“We just have to keep looking,” Minho reached out to help Woojin stand. “First thing, we check out this shady clinic. If they don’t have information we find another. Once we go through all the clinics, we make up some story and go to the police.”

“What sort of story?”

“I dunno… we saw a loose hybrid running around and ask if they have any information on someone matching Chris hyung’s appearance?”

“That could work…”

“Come on, the other’s are gonna be done soon.” Minho held Woojin’s hand tightly as they walked towards the clinic. They ignored the looks they were given - that they were used to.What was more important was giving each other comfort in that moment. Who cared what some judgemental asshole thought of two boys holding hands when they had a friend to save?

“We’re almost there.” Minho encouraged, praying to whatever gods were above that they would finally get a lead.

The receptionist had been right - nothing about the building in front of them said quality care. The one window was boarded up, the steps were missing some bricks and all the plants outside were dead. There was just a small plaque on the wall next to the door saying what the business even was - no other signage or telling details.

Woojin pushed the door open and walked up to the front desk. The girl behind the counter looked bored and exhausted. She just looked at him and frowned harder.

“What do you need?” She said apathetically.

“My hybrid was stolen last night and we’re trying to see if a clinic has seen him,” Woojin lied through his teeth. “He’s a grey wolf with curly brown hair and blond roots and dimples. He goes by Chris or Bangchan?”

She looked at him for a second before typing something into her beat up looking computer. She popped her gum as she looked, and Woojin was about to jump over the counter and take the gum out of her mouth when he finally responded.

“Yeah, we had a mutt matching that description come in around… eleven last night. The man that brought him in said it was his hybrid that had been stolen from him…” She glanced up at Woojin with a raised eyebrow, but Woojin didn’t care. He could hear his blood rushing through his ears. Chris had been here. Chris had been here just a few hours before. “He was pretty beat up but the guy said it was from whoever stole the kid in the first place. Had some procedure done but it was off the books.”

“What did the guy look like?” Woojin asked, his rage barely restrained.

“I don’t know if I should-” The girl stopped when Minho threw some large bills onto her keyboard.

“Finding this hybrid is very important to us,” he said, sounding almost bored. “If you tell us what you can, you can keep the money and you won’t hear from us again.”

The girl took the money and counted it carefully before tucking it in her shirt and looking back to the boys in front of her.

“He was about six foot, kinda heavy set. Smelled like a damn brewery. Had the papers for the hybrid but we see fakes all the time. Kept calling the kid Bangchan and the wolf would whimper. He hit the kid when he thought no one was looking.”

“I know who that is…” Woojin thought his hair was standing up with how furious he was - with how much rage was coursing through his body. “That’s the fucker that broke into my apartment and tried to smash my head against the bed frame.”

“Him?” Minho blinked, his ears reddening with anger. “Of course it was him. I’ll fuckin kill him-”

“I told you what I know, now leave.”

“One more question,” Woojin said quickly. He took the girl’s silence as permission. “Did the man leave any kind of address?”

“No, but he said he was from the other side of town, by that old abandoned factory.” She shrugged.

“Thank you.” Woojin said before running from the building, Minho trailing behind him.

“We have a lead.” Minho said, laughing in shock.

“Get everyone back to the apartment,” Woojin said, his heart beating fast enough to be borderline painful against his ribs. “We have a lead.”


 

“That narrows it down, but not by much,” Changbin muttered, frowning at the map on his phone. “There’s still like a… ten block radius.”

“Well, we know it’s a house because it had a backyard,” Woojin said, trying to remember any details Chris might have let slip about his life before. “Chris said there was a dog house out back where his owner would force him to stay, and that he dug his way out from under the fence the night he escaped.”

“A house with a fence and a structure in the back large enough to a grown human to sleep. Possibly on a corner or the edge of a property because it would have been difficult to dig under the fence into someone else’s yard and still escape.”

“Plus I was there after that asshole broke into the apartment,” Minho added with a wrinkle of his nose. “I’ll probably remember his scent if I smelled it again.”

“So we go there and casually walk around the neighborhoods until we find a house that matches the description?” Seungmin asked with only a little bit of sarcasm.

“I mean, we don’t really have any other options, do we?” Hyunjin sighed.

“Minho and I will go,” Woojin said, standing. “The rest of you wait here.”

It was instant pandemonium. The other six boys started talking at once, shouting and arguing. Woojin ignored them as he slipped his shoes on and grabbed his jacket.

“You can’t expect us to just wait around until-” Changbin started, only to be cut off.

“Minho is the only one that can track his scent,” Woojin said, making sure he had his keys in his pocket. “It would be too suspicious if we all went, and if we have to break Chris out, we need to be able to get away fast and we can’t do that with a small crowd.”

“What if something happens to you?” Jeongin asked, his eyes wide and scared.

“I promise that Minho and Chris will return here.” Woojin’s voice was firm, but his wording send a blanket of panic over the room.

“What about you hyung?” Hyunjin asked, sounding small.

“I’ll do anything to make sure they make it home.” he responded simply, not elaborating. Not that he needed to. They knew what he was implying.

“Keep us updated.” Changbin said after a pregnant pause. Woojin could tell no one was happy with his decision, but he could also tell they understood there was no point in fighting him. He had made up his mind, and nothing was going to change it.

He was going to get Chris back, even if it killed him.



“Well, this is the last block,” Minho said, checking his phone. They were both exhausted and their feet were sore. They had been walking about for almost three hours, just wandering the neighborhoods around the old factory with no results. Thankfully since it was just the two of them, they didn’t raise any suspicion and Woojin actually learned a lot about Minho had he never knew before. “Just this stretch of houses and like, three more around the corner-”

Minho cut himself and whipped his head to the left, staring at a house that looked all but abandoned. If it weren’t for the lights flicking from the television inside, Woojin never would have guessed anyone lived there.

“There?” Woojin whispered, his entire body tensing.

“I think so,” Minho’s nose twitched as they crossed the street. “Look there.”

He pointed to the fencing that faced the road. There was a new pile of dirt there, packed in tightly. They were wrong - the house wasn’t on a corner, and Chris didn’t dig into a neighbor’s yard. He escaped and ran straight for the street.

“How are we gonna do this?” Woojin asked, trying his best not to run up and kick the damn door down.
Minho was already walking though. Woojin jumped and ran to catch up to him. Before he could say anything more, the younger boy knocked on the door loudly.

“Minho what the fuck-” Woojijn hissed, just as the door opened. Woojin thought he was going to pass out.
Standing at the door was Chris, but not his Chris. This Chris was beaten and bruised, barely an inch of uncovered skin its natural, soft white. He had a dead look in his eye, and his head was completely shaved, only a short peach fuzz left which left his ears exposed and on display.

“Woojin…” He muttered, not looking Woojin or Minho in the eye. “You-”

“Chris-”

“Go home Woojin,” Chris whispered, looking down. Woojin could see dried blood on the back of his head. “You-”

“I’m not leaving without you.” Woojin said firmly. Chris paused and started to close the door, all without looking up. Woojin shoved his foot in the door frame just in time to hold it open. It hurt, but what was a broken foot bone or two when it came to getting Chris home? Chris hesitated again, as if he was running on low battery. Finally, he opened the door slightly and finally looked at Woojin.

His tired eyes raked from Woojin’s shoes all the way up to his face, stopping just above his eyes. Chris looked emotionless.

“I don’t want to go with you,” He blinked slowly. “Leave.”

“I’m not-”

“Who’s there, bitch?” A gruff voice came from behind Chris, who flinched. The man came up and stood behind Chris, resting a grubby hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Huh, looks like you really did survive.”

“What did you do to him?” Woojin growled, hot tears rolling down his face. It had been less than a day! How could he have broken Chis so much in only a few hours?

“I just put him in his place,” The man grinned and wrapped his arms around Chris from behind. Chris looked like he was going to be sick, but otherwise didn’t react. “Now, learn your place and leave before I call the police.”

“What did you do to him!?” Woojin demanded again, feeling more and more helpless with every passing second. He pushed into the house, Minho close behind. The door slammed shut, trapping them in the house with Chris and the man.

“What did I do? What I should have done years ago,” The man growled. “Got the fucking bitch fixed and put him in his place.”

“You…” Woojin suddenly felt ice cold.

“Plus some crushed valium in his water and he’s a perfect pet,” The man grinned. “I’ve put him back in his place, after you spoiled him-”

He couldn’t finish seeing how Minho was ripping deep, bloody lines down his face with his claws. The second the man’s hands were off of Chris, Woojin pulled the hybrid into his arms. Chris fought weakly, but easily gave in to Woojin’s hold.

The man screamed, but he was helpless against a cat’s claws. Woojin held Chris tightly, hiding his face in his shoulder as the man’s screams became softer and wetter sounding. He whispered comforts into Chris’ ear, trying to block out the sounds.

“And stay down.” Minho spat blood onto the body that was once Chris’ owner.

“We need to clean you up so we can go home,” Woojin said, surprisingly unphased that Minho just killed the man that had broken his soulmate’s spirit. “Here baby, take my hoodie. You must be freezing.”

Woojin tugged off his jacket and handed it to Chris, to took it but just stared at it. He was only wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants, and now that Woojin was looking closer, the pants weren’t quite fitting him right.

He felt a spike of rage as he remembered what the man had said.

“I’ll be right back,” Minho said, wiping some crimson from his cheek with the back of his hand. “If anyone finds him, they’ll assume it was a hybrid attack and won’t look into it.”

“How do you know?” Woojin asked as he helped Chris slip the jacket on.

“I know the kind of people who live in an area like this,” Minho shrugged. “They mind their own business.”

“Go wash up,” Woojin said, pulling out his phone and calling Changbin. “It’s going to be a long night.”

Chapter Text

“They should be back soon,” Changbin said to the remaining members of their group. He had just gotten off the phone with Woojin, who had given him a vague rundown of what happened. “Woojin hyung said it’s… kinda bad, so we can’t crowd Chris hyung. Don’t shout or yell or cry or touch him, okay? We need him to remember he’s safe here.”

“How bad could it be?” Seungmin asked, biting the inside of his lip nervously. “I mean, he was only gone for a day… right?”

“Hyung didn’t give me any details, but he said they should be home any minute,” Changbin swallowed thickly and smiled at the boys. With Woojin, Minho and Chris gone, he was the oldest now. He had to be strong for them. “It’ll be rough at first, but this is the first step to everything being normal again so be patient.”

“What if-?” Jisung’s question was cut off by the sound of a key jingling at the front door. Everyone froze as the door swung open and the three boys entered the apartment.

“I’m going to take a real shower,” Minho said before anyone else could open their mouths. “I can still feel the blood under my nails.”

“Take your time Min,” Woojin didn’t take his attention from Chris, who was tucked under his arm carefully. “It’ll take a while to explain everything.”

“Welcome home hyung,” Changbin said softly, directing the greeting at Chris, who continued to stare at the ground. Woojin had pulled the hood of the jacket, so only his bruised face was visible. “Are you hungry?”

Chris just continued to stare at the floor, his eyes glazed and unfocused. Woojin pulled him closer to his chest when he felt the hybrid swaying.

“Here, let’s sit down for a second, okay pup?” Woojin suggested, and Seungmin instantly jumped up from the armchair. Woojin helped Chris sit before kneeling in front of the smaller boy, taking Chris’ hands in his larger one. “Can you hear me Chris? Do you want to eat anything?”

After a moment, Chris shook his head. Woojin felt his gently tighten his grip on his hand.

“What happened?” Jeongin asked, sounding horrified.

“Well right now he’s probably in shock,” Woojin said as his thumb rubbed comforting circles into the back of Chris’ hand. “That, mixed with however much sedative he was given… it’s going to take a little while before he’s back with us.”

“He was drugged?” Hyunjin choked out.

“Drugged, beaten and…” Woojin couldn’t bear to think about it.

“And?” Changbin pressed, unsure if he should have just left it.

“That asshole he- he said he had Chris ‘fixed’ last night,” Bile rose in the back of Woojin’s throat. He could hear the gasps behind him. “I- I don’t know exactly what that means but.. Whatever it is, it can’t be good.”

“Jesus fuck-”

“Chris, are you in pain?” Woojin asked softly. “Do you want some advil-?” Chris started shaking his head frantically, his eyes widening in fear. Woojin held his hands tighter, realizing his mistake. “No more drugs pup, I promise. I’m not going to drug you.”

At that, Chris calmed down, going back to staring blankly at his hand being held oh so carefully by Woojin.

“Do you want some water hyung?” Changbin asked, kneeling next to Woojin. Chris stayed frozen, and Changbin almost thought he hadn’t heard the question, until he finally nodded gently. “Alright, I’ll be right back.”

“Are you cold pup?” Woojin could tell the hybrid was chilly from how he was holding his arms close to his body and how his tail was puffed up at his side, but he was hoping to get an answer. Chris hesitated again before nodding, just like he had with Changbin’s question. Woojin smiled and kissed the back of his hand softly before grabbing a blanket off the back of the couch and placing it over Chris’ lap, making sure to tuck it in under his thighs.

“Here hyung.” Changbin took Chris’ hand and put the cup in it, making sure the older boy had a solid grip on it before letting go.

“After you finish your water, do you want to go to bed?” Woojin asked, not wanting to overwhelm him anymore than he already was.

Chris nodded, and Woojin felt some of the pressure leave his chest. He was responding more quickly, and was drinking the water without spilling any of it which were good signs. That, and he trusted Woojin enough to be alone in the bedroom, which was another.

“We’re going to head home,” Seungmin stood, Jeongin close behind. “You’re probably exhausted and I want you guys to rest up.”

“Us too,” Changbin said, which caused Jisung to whine a little. “Well, just me I guess. Jisung’s been wanting to sleep over with Hyunjin and Felix for a while. If he causes any trouble just kick him out. He’ll find his way back to the shop eventually.”

“Thanks for everything you’ve done today guys.” Woojin smiled - it was a tired smile, but a genuine one as well.

“Changbin hyung is being mean again.” Jisung whined louder, draping himself over Felix, who laughed and scratched the base of the squirrel’s ears carefully.

“Is he wrong though?” Hyunjin asked, naturally falling back into the banter with his friends.

“Betrayed…” Jisung whispered, sounding hurt. “Betrayed by the ones I trusted… thrown to the cats like some sort of- of mouse.”

“Hey!” Minho walked in just in time for him and Felix to cry out at the same time. Jisung opened his mouth to say something else when the sound of faint laughter made them all freeze. They glanced over and saw Chris chuckling to himself, his face still mostly blank but his shoulders bouncing slightly.

“Alright, everyone who doesn’t live here except Sungie, out,” Woojin said, his heart lighter than it had been since the day before. “Come back later though.”

“Aye aye captain!” Seungmin saluted, running away just in time to avoid Woojin’s brotherly smack to the back of the head.

“Come on pup, let’s go to our room.” Woojin helped Chris stand as Minho saw the others out. Chris walked with him without a fight, which worried Woojin at first, until he saw a bit of focus in the golden eyes he loved so much. It wasn’t a lot, but he could tell Chris was aware of where they were, which meant the drugs were starting to wear off.

“Woojin…” Chris muttered once the door was closed behind them. The human jumped a little, not expecting to be addressed so suddenly.

“Yes pup? Did you need something?” Woojin was doing his best to keep the fear from his voice but it felt like an impossible task. So much had gone wrong in such a short period of time. Who was to say it wouldn’t happen again? That something even worse would happen?

“Sorry… for leaving,” Chris wouldn’t meet Woojin’s eye. “Don’t wanna fight.”

“No more fighting, ever,” Woojin pulled Chris into a hug. “We don’t have to worry about that asshole ever again, and I found your papers before we left. You don’t have to be afraid anymore baby. You’re safe here. I’ve got you.”

At those words. Chris burst into tears - loud, heaving sobs that were instantly muffled by Woojin’s shirt as the younger boy buried his face in his boyfriend’s shoulder. Woojin didn’t hesitate to hold Chris close, making sure Chris knew he was loved and that he was safe and that he was never going to be alone again.

“Wanna go to bed pup?” Woojin whispered after Chris had calmed down. Eyes puffy, Chris nodded slowly. Woojin smiled and kissed the top of his head before gently tucking the covers around Chris’ body. “Goodnight Chris. I love you.”

“Love you too.”



“How’s he doing?” Changbin asked. It had been a month since they brought Chris home, and neither he nor Woojin had been back to work at the shop. Changbin completely understood, and with Seungmin and Jeongin helping out, everything was running smoothly.

“So far so good,” Woojin sighed a little. Chris was napping in the bedroom, so he was taking the chance to catch up with Bin on the phone while he made them some lunch. “The doctors said he should be healing up fine after a few days. The infection was bad for a while but it’s finally cleared up and they were able to undo the vasectomy without complications. Now he’s just a little sore and emotionally drained.”

“God, I bet,” Changbin’s frown was heard in his voice. “When you first said that freak got him fixed I almost-”

“Me too…”

“I can’t even begin to try and comprehend how that- that monster thought he could do that to hyung.”

“I’m just glad he’s safe now.” Woojin smiled a little, the memory of him running shampoo through Chris’ barely there curls warming his chest.

“Did the paperwork go through yet?” Changbin asked, changing the subject a little.

“Not yet, but it should be approved soon,” Woojin started putting away the ingredients he didn’t need anymore. “All we had to do was lie a little about what happened and they were more than happy to switch Chris’ ownership to me legally.”

“Does he know yet?”

“No… but I’ll tell him soon,” Woojin felt a pit in his stomach. “I just… want to cover our bases, incase anything comes up again… I want to be able to protect him as much as I can, and this is just one part of that.”

“I’m sure he’ll understand,” Changbin said reassuringly. “He loves you, and knows you’d never hurt him.”

“Has he talked to you much?” Woojin asked suddenly, hoping to get an answer other than what he knew he was going to get.

“Not really,” Changbin said, to neither of their surprise. “He chats with me sometimes when we’re all together, and he’ll send laughing emoticons when I send him a meme or something, but it’s not like it used to be.”

“It’s going to be a long process, but it’ll be okay,” Woojin believed that if he said it enough, he could bring it into existence. “He got really fucked up that night… sometimes he still won’t let me touch him. He wakes up sobbing at least once a week. I’m starting to get bits and pieces as he starts to open up again and it’s… not great.”

“What- what happened?” Changbin knew most of what happened - the whole group did - but Woojin had been hesitant to divulge the more… personal details.

“Apparently on top of being beaten, drugged and ‘fixed’, that asshole tried to brainwash him,” Woojin felt anger growing in his chest as he talked. “Told him that I was trying to groom him to be a toy, and that I was going to get bored of him soon. Said I was going to start beating him and- and raping him-”

“Jesus fucking shit-” Changbin hissed. Woojin heard a muffled whack, and guessed the younger boy punched something nearby. “That’s so fucked.”

“We’ve been working through things though,” Woojin took a deep breath. “I’m telling him how much I love him as much as possible and talking him through panic attacks. I found a therapist that works with hybrids, and I was going to ask him if he wanted me to make an appointment soon. I think it’ll do him a lot of good to talk to a professional about what happened, you know?”

“Do you think we can get Lix in too?” Changbin asked softly, after a moment of silence.

“I can ask. Why?”

“He’s… I know he’s good at being all smiley and bright when he’s with everyone but he’s been getting really depressed recently and I’m worried,” Changbin sounded like he was biting at his lip. “He’s also been complaining that his stumps are hurting, which worries me.”

“I can give you the information if you want to talk to him about it,” Woojin offered, not wanting to make that decision for Felix, even if it was a good idea. “Honestly, I’ll talk to Minho too. I know it’s been a while since everything happened with him, but I get the feeling that I’m the only person he ever really confided in and I don’t want him to think he has to bottle everything up.”

“Honestly? We should all go see a therapist,” Changbin chuckled a little. “With all the shit we’ve been through? We deserve some peace of mind.”

“The place I was looking at for Chris was kinda small, and I doubt they’d let the same therapist see all nine of us, but I agree,” Woojin put some dirty dishes in the sink. “It’ll be like getting a fresh start.”

“When are the others getting home tonight?”

“I think Minho is the last one back, and he’s off at… five?” Woojin checked the little dry erase calendar on the fridge. Felix’ schedule was written in orange - he wanted the black marker but Woojin designated that one for non work related events. Hyunjin’s was written in red, Minho’s was written in light blue, Woojin’s was purple and Chris was pink. It helped them keep things organized slightly.

“Perfect, Sungie and I will come over with some food and movies.”

“Sounds good, I’ll let Seungmin and Jeongin know,” Woojin smiled. “Wouldn’t want them to feel left out and hold it over our heads for the rest of our lives.”

“They would too…” Changbin pouted a little. “Ah, I gotta get back to the shop. I’ll see you tonight hyung!”

“Have fun.” Woojin chuckled as he hung up. Just as he was grabbing the two bowls, Chris walked out of the bedroom. His sweatshirt covered his boxers, showing off his toned thighs that Woojin loved so much and his tail that Woojin adored even more.

“Morning Wooj.” Chris yawned, his canines showing before he clacked his mouth shut.

“Perfect timing pup,” Woojin grinned and placed Chris’ bowl down at his unofficial assigned seat. “I was just about to wake you for lunch.”

“Who was on the phone?” Chris lazily brought a bite to his mouth and chewed slowly, his eyes dropping from sleep.

“Changbin,” Woojin sat across from Chris, using one hand to hold his chopsticks and the other to reach across to hold Chris’ hand. “Him and Sungie are gonna come over once Minho gets back and we’re gonna have a movie night.”

“Good, I miss everyone.” Chris’ voice was gravelly and deep, and boy did it do things to Woojin.

Woojin smiled as he watched Chris eat. “I wanted to talk to you about something, actually.”

“What’s up?” Chris tensed. Woojin could feel Chris freeze under his fingers.

“Nothing bad,” Woojin clarified quickly. “I was wondering how you would feel about going to see a therapist once or twice about… well, everything.”

“A therapist?”

“Honestly, Changbin brought up a good point,” Woojin traced soft patterns into the back of Chris’ hand. “We should all go see someone for our own various traumas. I wouldn’t mind going myself… the anniversary of Moonbin’s death is coming up and I’ve been thinking a lot about my parents because of it and… well, talking to someone who’s like, licensed to help me with that sort of shit sounds kinda nice.”

Chris was silent for a moment before he laced his fingers through Woojin’s.

“Alright,” he smiled. “If you think it’ll help, I’ll go.”

“I can call tomorrow,” Woojin felt some of the pressure on his chest vanish. “But right now I wanna eat with my beautiful boyfriend and go cuddle and watch some anime.”

Chris just laughed, joy flashing in his eyes.



“I miss Seungmin…” Jeongin whined from the couch. The older boy had only gone off to college less than a week ago, and the hybrid had been lamenting the loss of his friend every second since then.

“Innie, he’s literally coming home on Friday,” Chris chuckled. The apartment vibe had been changing a lot recently, and even though it was so different, it was fun. Changbin finally took Woojin up on his offer to stay in the apartment with the others while renting out the one above the shop. He had been hesitant at first, but after he changed his mind he pulled Woojin aside and explained himself.

“I’m worried about Jisung,” he had said to the older boy. “I don’t want him to feel isolated or left out, you know? Everyone else lives here, and we’re all the way over by the shop. Besides, if he’s going to go through with taking a class or two, he and Jinnie can walk to campus together.”

Woojin completely understood, and honestly felt better having the two under the same roof. He’d prefer having all nine of them together, but he knew that wasn’t possible yet.

Even though Jeongin still technically lives at the main house, he’s started asking the driver to take him over to the apartment so he can complain about how quiet everything is without Seungmin’s cynical comments.

“When do Jisung hyung and Hyunjin hyung come home?” the youngest asked, laying upside down on the couch so his ears flopped onto the floor and his knees were over the back - Chris was ever impressed how the fox hybrid seemed to keep growing. At the moment, it was just the two of them in the apartment.

“It’s Wednesday, so their last class ends at 3:15.” Chris checked the schedule written on the fridge. He was grateful that Woojin insisted having everyone write their plans down. Helped make his life easier - instead of panicking when someone wasn’t home for dinner, he could check to see if they were supposed to be missing. So far, there hadn’t been any situations where he needed to panic when they weren’t supposed to be gone.

“I wanna go out and do something.” Jeongin said abruptly.

“Like what?”

“I dunno… go to the river? It’s going to start getting cooler out, and the park is really pretty in the fall.”

“What if we did dinner in the park?” Chris suggested, grinning as Jeongin tried to jump up, only to forget he was upside down and flipping onto to carpet, just barely missing the corner of the coffee table on his tumble down.

“Can we?” The boy’s eyes were sparkling so bright it almost blinded Chris. “Please?”

“I don’t see why not,” Chris laughed a little. “Everyone should be home by four other than Minho and I can text him to meet us there.”

“Fuck yeah!” Jeongin cheered, his tail swishing happily behind him.

“Ya, did I hear an explicit come from the mouth of our baby?” Felix came out of the bathroom, water still clinging to his bangs.

“Hyung, I’m like a head taller than you.” Jeongin deadpanned and Chris stifled a snicker. He and Seugmin really were two peas in a pod, huh?

“Let a guy live, damn…” Felix flushed and started drying his hair properly. Jeongin giggled and went over to wrap his arms around Felix. The older boy leaned into the embrace before yelping and scrambling away.

Jeongin had tickled his sides, the angelic smile on his face contrasting the absolute betrayal on Felix’s.

“Hyuuuuung,” Felix whined, hiding behind Chris. “I want a new maknae. This one’s mean to me.”

“We’re stuck with this one, sorry,” Chris laughed, giving Jeongin a sly thumbs up which caused the youngest to nod slightly, his fangs biting his lower lip to stop him from grinning at Felix’ expense again.

“Honey I’m home!” Woojin called as he unlocked the door. Even though it had been almost nine months since… the incident, Woojin insisted on Chris doing whatever he wanted. If he wanted to come into the shop he was allowed, but he didn’t want the world hybrid pushing himself in any aspect. In fact, Woojin had been pushing Chris to explore his own interests instead.

They didn’t have to work to survive anymore, which meant Chris had the opportunity to write music and possibly record some of it with Changbin and Jisung’s Frankenstiened equipment. Woojin could never forget the pure excitement on Chris’ face when he found out Jisung and Changbin rap together in their free time. In fact, the three of them had started working together, and were performing at the cafe’s open mic night later that week.

“Welcome back baby.” Chris abandoned Felix to Jeongin and rushed over to his boyfriend, who was just hanging up his jacket.

“How are you feeling today pup?” Woojin asked, holding his arms open. He did it subconsciously at this point.

At first, Chris would flinch at any touch, so Woojin quickly learned to let Chris come to him, not the other way around. Chris noticed this - how even nine months later Woojin still wouldn’t touch him first or without explicit permission - but he was almost… grateful for that because it wasn’t always so perfect.

Sometimes he still had nightmares. Sometimes he had flashbacks, or would zone out and forget where he was. Sometimes when he and Woojin were getting intimate, between his legs would ache and he would have to stop, and Woojin would kiss his tears away and offer to call a doctor even though it was just phantom pains at this point.

“Better now that you’re home.” Chris answered honestly, instantly hugging Woojin tight and hiding his face in the elder’s neck, letting his lips ghost against Woojin’s tanned skin.

“Did you want to do something special for dinner?” Woojin wrapped his arms around Chris’ waist, pulling the smaller boy closer and kissing the top of his head. His curls had grown in, and Woojin was surprised to see it was a soft silvery color to match the color of his ears. He hadn’t realized the blond when they first met had been added color since the brown made Chris’ roots seem darker when it was growing out.

“Innie wants to have a picnic in the park with everyone.” Chris pressed soft kisses to Woojin’s neck, enjoying how the human’s voice vibrated through both their chests.

“That sounds pretty special,” Woojin grinned. “Want to help me make some food then?”

“What about us?” Felix called over, knowing better than to interrupt Dad and Dad’s lovey dovey moments.

“You can help too,” Woojin laughed finally looking up from Chris. “It’s going to take a few extra hands to make enough for eight people.”

 

 

“I feel like we made too much.” Jeongin muttered as he carried one of the baskets. Woojin carried another in one hand while holding Chris’ hand in the other. Jisung and Hyunjin carried the third cooler together, chatting about something that happened on campus as they lagged behind a little. Felix and Changbin were in charge of carrying the blankets. Minho said he would meet them at their usual spot in ten minutes with drinks.

“I dunno, I think it looks like a good amount.” A voice called from under their tree - the one that they always sat under when the sun would beat down on them or when the rain cleaned the heat from the cement walkways.

“Seungmin!” Jeongin put the basket down and ran towards his friend, jumping into the human’s arms, wrapping his legs around the older boy’s waist.

“It’s only been a week Innie,” Seungmin laughed, hugging the hybrid tightly. “It’s not like I went overseas or anything.”

“I know I just…” Jeongin’s voice cracked a little. Seungmin set him down on his feet and wiped one of the tears running down the youngest’s cheek. “This is the longest we’ve been apart ever.

“What do you mean Innie?” Woojin asked as he placed down the second basket under the tree.

“Seungmin and his family adopted me four years ago and- and I’ve never been away from Seungmin for more than a night since then,” He sniffled, clinging to Seungmin as if the older boy would disappear. “This week sucked.”

“I’m sorry Innie,” Seungmin hugged his friend again. “I guess I didn’t realize how hard it would be for you.”

“I’m just glad you’re back early.” Jeongin grinned brightly.

“I’ll come home to visit as much as I can, I promise,” Seungmin stuck out his pinky for Jeongin to wrap his own finger around. “And if I can come home, I’ll see if you can come visit. It’s only an hour drive away.”

“I’m glad hyung texted me ahead of time and told me you were coming,” Minho said as he jogged down the hill towards them, several bags dangling from his fingers and a smile on his face. “Otherwise we wouldn’t have enough drinks.”

“Hey Minho hyung,” Seungmin waved to him, one arm still wrapped around Jeongin. “Long time no see.”

“I know, right?” Minho teased the younger, putting the drinks and ruffling his hair.

“Now that we’re all here, let’s set up and eat,” Jisung demanded. “I’m starving!”

“What happened to all the food we ate on campus?” Hyunjin laughed, taking half of one of the blankets to help lay it out.

“That was HOURS ago,” Jisung pouted. “I’m a growing boy. I need sustenance.”

“If Jisung grows anymore, I’ll eat my belt.” Minho scoffed as he handed out cold drinks.

“Sorry Sungie, but I’m not gonna bet against that,” Chris giggled. “I think you’ve about finished growing.”

“Nuh-uh!” Jisung pouted more somehow. “My professor said boys don’t stop growing till their mid twenties and I’m only twenty!”

“I mean, technically you’re nineteen.” Felix muttered. He had been very confused when he first heard of Korean ages. He had been excited that their birthdays were so close, but thought he was doing the math wrong when Jisung called himself twenty the first time.

“Even better because that means I have an extra year to grow taller than all of you!” Jisung declared through cheeks filled with rice.

“Godspeed, soldier.” Minho saluted lazily, causing Jisung to whine again.

Woojin watched his friends bicker with a small smile. Minho was opening up more than ever before. He was able to joke around and tease the others without a second thought.

When he and Woojin first met, Minho was so closed off it seemed like they would never be friends. Now, Minho seemed more comfortable with them than ever before. Sure, there was still a lot that he hid - a lot that only Woojin knew - but he was slowly opening up to his friends.

Felix was the same. He was being more open and happy. Sometimes he would knock on Woojin and Chris’ door in the middle of the night if he had a bad dream, or during a particularly bad storm when his ear and tail nubs hurt so badly he couldn’t sleep. When that happened, the two oldest let him sleep in between them on their large mattress, cuddling the smaller boy from both sides. Woojin was happy that he had Changbin. Sure, the older boy seemed a little prickly at first but they worked well together. Woojin was glad they had someone to rely on.

Hyunjin and his mother’s relationship was getting better. She even came over to the apartment for their weekly dinner a handful of times. The others were wary at first, but quickly warmed up to her when they realized how genuine she was in wanting to fix the relationship between her and Hyunjin. Woojin thought starting school again was good for Hyunjin too. Finally, he was doing something he wanted to do, with the support of his friends and mom. He seemed to smile even more than before, and those smiles seemed to glow even brighter than ever.

Changbin had been working harder, but at the same time seemed more relaxed than ever before. A few weeks before he moved in, he gifted Woojin and Chris with an art piece to hang on their wall - a large whale positioned to make it look like it was in the middle of swimming, made out of the old CDs that were too scratched to play. Woojin hung it up immediately, and now their living room was coated in rainbows every night when the sun set. Changbin still owned the music shop, but was renting the apartment above to some students that went to the same university a Jisung and Hyunjin.

Jisung was just as hyper as ever, chattering endlessly about class and school and life and the cute dog he saw on the way home. The moment he walked through the door of the apartment, it was like the air itself came alive. As much as he tried to hide it, Woojin knew moving was a hard transition for him. He was used to living with Changbin, with his own room. Now he shared a room with Changbin in an apartment with six other people. It was obvious the transition threw Jisung off a little, but the boy accepted the change easily and went with the flow of his new life.

Seungmin called when he could. Their group chat was still alive and active. They were constantly sending each other silly pictures they took of the others or memes they found online. Seungmin would update everyone on big events in his life, like when he was asked out for the first time. According to him, he panicked and quite literally ran away. Minho was the one to call him and give him some flirting advice.

Jeongin was always in and out of the apartment. He said it was because he was bored at the main house, but everyone knew it was because he was lonely and missed them - not that anyone minded. They all adored their youngest, and he loved them just as much. He was getting better at hiding his ears and tail, and would sometimes tag along with Jisung and Hyunjin to their school, sitting in the on campus cafe with his sketchbook while he waited for them to get out.

Chris was recovering in strides. Woojin was amazed everyday by the sheer amount of life and determination in his boyfriend’s eyes. He knew that Chris was still struggling - they were all still struggling with their own things - but therapy was helping. Chris would come home and recount each session to Woojin, who listened carefully to see if Chris said anything that the human could use to help his pup in the future. It broke Woojin’s heart to hear Chris cry, especially when his scars got too much to bear. He knew when Chris was feeling his scars hurt, Felix would be coming in soon. What hurt Woojin the most was seeing Chris wince when they made love. He would try to stop - hurting Chris was the one thing Woojin was afraid of the most - but Chris insisted that he was fine. Insisted that it was just sore from the botched surgery. Woojin made sure to be extra gentle those nights.

Woojin himself was… getting better too. He sometimes had nightmares of his friends getting hurt because he wasn’t there for them, or because he wasn’t good enough, but Chris was always there to comfort him after. Sometimes, when he got stressed, he would snap at them. They knew by now that it wasn’t because he was actually mad at them, but because he was overwhelmed and panicking. Chris went with him to visit Moonbin’s grave, about two months after the anniversary. Woojin had honestly been expecting to sneak out and get back before anyone noticed, so imagine his surprise when he saw Chris standing by the front door, waiting for him, flowers in hand.

Chris held his hand as Woojin cried. He told Chris that it was the first time he had visited Moonbin since he ran away, because he was afraid. Afraid and guilty.

“I don’t think he blamed you,” Chris had whispered as Woojin sobbed over the grass covering his first love. “He loved you, and he loved you until the end. He never blamed you, Woojin, so you can’t blame yourself.”

The wind had blown just then, kicking up some of the loose petals from the bouquet placed carefully on top of the headstone. One of the petals landed on top of Woojin’s head, resting softly in his brown locks.

“See?” Chris had said, kneeling next to Woojin. “He agrees.”

“Thank you for coming with me,” Woojin buried his face in Chris’ jacket. “Um, Bin? This… this is Chris. He’s my entire world. I- I love him more than anything… I loved you, and now I have someone I can love openly… I hope you found someone to love you too, wherever you are now.”

The wind blew again, another petal brushing against Woojin’s cheek before getting whipped away farther into the cemetery.

“It’s going to rain baby,” Chris tugged on Woojin’s sleeve after a little while. “We can come back another day, if you want.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Woojin wiped his face and stood, bowing once more towards the grace. “Did- did you want to get something to eat-”

Woojin froze, paling. Chris’ eyes followed the human’s and he felt his stomach drop. There was a fresh grave, a few plots away with a very familiar surname on it. Chris hoped it was just a coincidence, because even if Woojin and his father hated each other, it was hard losing a parent.

Woojin walked forward, leaving Chris by Bin’s grave and knelt by his father’s. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He felt like he should say something, but his mind was blank. He only opened his eyes when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He glanced back at Chris and returned the soft smile before looking at the head stone.

“I’m sorry we never saw eye to eye,” He said softly. “I know if things had been different, we could have had a really great relationship. I…”

“Come on Woojin, it’s alright.” Chris said softly. Woojin nodded and stood, knowing he had nothing left to say to the man that was supposed to be his father.

“Thank you, for everything.” Woojin told Chris on the way back to the apartment.

“Of course,” Chris smiled brightly. “I’d do anything for you.”

“I love you.” Woojin took Chris’ hand and rested his head on the hybrid’s shoulder. The bus was almost completely empty, and Woojin felt the same way. Empty.

“I love you too.” Chris leaned down and kissed Woojin softly. Woojin hummed and let his eyes close.

“Let’s go home.”

“Yeah, home.” Chris kissed him again, keeping Woojin’s mind focused solely on the love being poured into him.