Jaehyun knew that it was going to be slow since things were shut down for the virus, but PetSmart was still considered to be essential (for whatever reason, he supposed that getting animal food was important, but he didn’t understand why dog grooming was still open), and having to still work forty hours a week was boring as hell when nobody was bringing their sweet, adorable puppies in for him to groom.
Beside him was Jungwoo, who was also leaning against a metal table, scrolling through his phone and making soft noises every so often as he cooed over his newest TikTok crush (some Canadian-Korean named Mark who played guitar, was extremely awkward, and was apparently single but had given no suggestion as to what his sexuality was). Jaehyun rolled his eyes and ran a hand through his light pink hair, making a face as he looked at himself in the reflection of the glass door and making a silent note to buy more hair dye online to get delivered to his front step since all the salons were closed.
“How are we supposed to just keep showing up to work and doing nothing?” Jaehyun asked into the mostly silent air, looking at Jungwoo as the other snickered quietly. “What? I miss the puppies, I know you do too, I just feel like this is pointless.”
“Jae, be lucky that we’re still working right now. A lot of other people aren’t, you know,” Jungwoo said with a raised eyebrow, looking at him for only a moment before going back to his phone and giggling over the most recent TikTok Mark had uploaded (which had only been a couple of days ago, but Jaehyun had already heard Jungwoo complaining about it for sixteen hours straight at work), the elder quickly being forgotten once again.
“I know.” Jaehyun sighed heavily as he slumped back against the table he was leaning on, pouting slightly as he thought about the stress his roommate, Yuta, had been putting himself under recently as he scoured the internet in the hopes of finding a job that would take him during the stay at home order they had been given.
Turning to his right, he noticed a small child peeking into the room, and Jaehyun tilted his head with a curious look in his brown eyes as he took in the little boy. It wasn’t a rare sight at all for children to be roaming around in the store, the various animals they took care of for possible adopters in the building something to be marvelled at when it came to the younger ones. But since the lockdown had started, children had been a rarity, if they were even in the store.
The boy looked up at him and brightened up, shining like a miniature sun as he bounced excitedly. Jaehyun laughed quietly when the kid lifted up a tanned hand to wave, his other hand clutching tightly onto a pokeball, and he wiggled his fingers back in response as he smiled widely enough for his dimples to show. The boy turned around to tug on the pants leg of a much taller person, and Jaehyun let his eyes follow that leg up to see who was with him—
The man standing there was breathtakingly gorgeous—tall (most likely taller than him), full lips, clad in only jeans and a casual t-shirt but still looking as though he had walked off of the pages of a magazine. Jaehyun watched in awed silence as the little boy captured his attention, and the man turned to look down at him before following his outstretched hand to where he was pointing.
His eyes bore into Jaehyun’s for a long, excruciating moment before he smiled, lips moving as he looked back down at the boy to speak to him, but the pink haired male was already completely enamored. Those eyes had read into his soul for just a moment, but he knew they were going to stay with him for a long while after this.
“Hey Jae, I’m gonna go into the back and try to occupy myself with doing some sort of inventory.” Jungwoo’s voice broke through his thoughts, and Jaehyun looked over at the other male to see him blinking dazedly at his phone before shoving it into his back pocket. Frowning slightly, he opened his mouth to ask, but then decided against it—it was most likely just Jungwoo panicking over Mark Lee from TikTok uploading something new.
“Sure thing, Woo,” Jaehyun said, watching as his coworker walked into the back and shut the door before turning to look back out the window. The man and boy were no longer standing there, however, and the pink haired male sighed heavily before looking back down at his phone which had been resting on the table in front of him. He decided to just leave it there as the bell for the door to the grooming center went off, and he ran a hand through his hair and closed his eyes for a moment to try and calm himself back down.
“Excuse me?” A voice asked, and Jaehyun lifted his head to look at who had just entered the center, only to see that it had been the man and boy that he had been focused on just minutes before. “Are you still open for business?”
“Of course!” Jaehyun cleared his throat as the two of them approached the counter at the entry. He moved quickly to meet them there, knowing that he wasn’t allowed to let them back into the grooming area even if there were no animals around. “What can I do for you today?”
“Go on baby, ask the nice man what you wanted to.” The man encouraged with a small smile, fingers running through the boy’s dark hair, and Jaehyun’s gaze reluctantly tore away from the (delicious) man standing in front of him to look at the child at his side. The little boy instantly looked up at him with big, sparkling eyes, using both hands to hold up his pokeball, and Jaehyun could see that it had been opened, with a tiny Oshawott plush tucked carefully inside of it. And yet, he didn’t say anything.
“Did you have something you wanted to ask me?” Jaehyun asked quietly, lowering his voice so the boy wouldn’t be scared off. However, he still let go of the pokeball with one hand to halfway hide behind the man’s leg, and the latter chuckled while ruffling his hair.
“Hyuckie wanted to know if you heal Pokemon here.” The man explained, and Jaehyun’s heart skipped a beat at both the honey toned voice and the purity of the question. He wasn’t sure where it had come from, but a glance at the wall opposite the glass door had him realising quickly.
They liked to take pictures of the animals that came through every month and put them up on their wall. Since Pokemon Go started, the groomers had taken a picture of each of them with a new Pokemon, and it would cycle through the Pokemon every month as they continued on with the joke even years later. The boy must have seen the picture of Dejun with a Gastly and mentioned it to his dad.
“Of course we do,” Jaehyun said smoothly, looking back down at Hyuck and leaning down slightly to be closer to his level. “Why don’t you give your Pokemon to me, and I’ll go and get it all healed up for you, okay?”
Hyuck looked between him and the man for a moment before carefully holding out the pokeball, and Jaehyun took it from him with gentle fingers as he stood up straight again. He carefully closed the pokeball before moving towards the back to hide in the backroom for a moment, knowing that the dryer was very loud and he could pretend it was healing the Pokemon. Jaehyun turned it on and left it on for a bit, jumping slightly when he felt the tap to his shoulder and turning to look at Jungwoo.
“What are you doing?” Jungwoo asked, frowning slightly, and Jaehyun tried not to notice the tight grip on his phone as it looked like Snapchat was open.
“This little boy came in asking me to heal his Pokemon because he saw the picture on our wall of monthly guests.” Jaehyun hummed as he lifted the pokeball, turning off the dryer, and he laughed quietly when Jungwoo’s eyes instantly became shiny.
“Jae, that’s literally the cutest thing I’ve ever heard!” Jungwoo squealed, and he instantly brought his phone up to type out a message to whoever. Jaehyun laughed in response and opened the door, leaving the backroom and approaching the two visitors with a smile. He gently went through the small gate to be on the same side of the grooming center as Hyuck and the man, crouching down and holding up the pokeball with a small smile.
“Here you go, Hyuck. One perfectly healed Oshawott,” Jaehyun said, and Hyuck squealed before detaching himself from the man’s leg and launching forward to latch onto the pink haired male tightly. He laughed and let his arms wrap around Hyuck for a moment before the little boy was already pulling away to take the offered pokeball from him, ducking his head at the many thanks the boy was giving him and standing up straight, fixing his shirt.
“Sorry for the bother, he was just so insistent on coming in here to ask you that.” The man apologised as he took a step towards him, and Jaehyun laughed while waving it off.
“Really, it’s no trouble!” Jaehyun shook his head and rubbed the back of his neck, hoping that it wasn’t noticeable how nervous the handsome man in front of him was making him feel. “This is the most action we’ve had in here all week, if I’m being honest. Your little brother is really cute.”
“Oh, he’s actually my son.” The man said, and Jaehyun’s brain shorted out slightly as he held out a hand towards him. “His name is Donghyuck, and I’m Johnny.”
“Jaehyun.” He blurted out, reaching out to take the offered hand and shaking it firmly. As he went to let go, Johnny stepped closer as Donghyuck played with his Pokemon, offering them no attention and allowing the other to do this. “I have to go, we have some more errands to run, but I hope you wouldn’t mind it if I gave you my number?”
Jaehyun’s breath hitched at the question, and he chewed on his bottom lip with a shy smile and burning red ears as he nodded jerkily. The door to the backroom burst open, and Jaehyun laughed nervously and let go of his hand suddenly as Jungwoo entered the grooming center with a screech just barely suitable for indoors.
“Jae, Mark Lee noticed me on TikTok and added me on Snapchat!” Jungwoo yelled loudly before coming to a halt, seeing how close Jaehyun and Johnny were and clearing his throat. “Never mind, you keep flirting, I’ll tell you later.”
“We’re not—” Jaehyun tried to save himself, but he wasn’t quick enough as the backroom door shut, and he looked up at Johnny as the other tried to hide the fact that he was laughing. “Oh my god, that was so embarrassing.”
“Nonsense.” Johnny waved it off and pulled out his phone, offering it to Jaehyun with a somewhat demure look through his eyelashes, and the pink haired male took it to type in his number and text himself before handing it back.
“Save me as whatever.” Jaehyun mumbled shyly, shifting on his feet as their fingers brushed against each other, and Johnny laughed softly before calling out for Donghyuck. “And you better text me too, okay?”
“Sure thing,” Johnny said easily, a smile on his face (were those dimples on the apples of his cheeks? Was this man even real??) as Donghyuck’s tiny hand slipped into his. He pocketed his phone before bending down to scoop Donghyuck up without even a groan, and the little boy squealed excitedly as he went up. “Duckie, say goodbye to Nurse Jae.”
“Bye bye Nurse Jae! Thank you for healing my Pokemon!” Donghyuck exclaimed excitedly, voice much too loud for the small space that they were in, but Johnny didn’t even flinch at the volume of it right next to his ear as he picked up their PetSmart bag and directed them out of the store. Jaehyun’s cheeks almost hurt from how wide he was smiling, and he shook his head at himself as Jungwoo finally came out of the backroom.
“Look at you, getting all close with a single dad.” Jungwoo teased with a grin, and Jaehyun turned to him with a raised eyebrow as he walked back through the gates to lean against his claimed metal table and save Johnny’s number in his phone.
“Shut up,” Jaehyun teased in reply, typing in a playful, “Gym Trainer Johnny,” in his contacts and sending him a cute blushing emoji before locking his phone and looking back up at Jungwoo. “So tell me about Mark Lee.”
Jungwoo squealed again and hid his face for a moment before launching into the details of what had happened as Jaehyun was flirting with the hot, single dad, and he glanced at the picture of the Pokemon they had put up for that month before smiling to himself.