Mark hums. “Are you sure?” he says. “‘Cause it kinda looks like you’re posing for their cameras.” He grins around his straw.
“Dude,” Jackson says. “You’re lucky you paid for these, otherwise I would definitely ditch your ass.” He pouts at Mark until Mark rolls his eyes and tugs Jackson’s hat down sharply. “Hey!”
He’s still fumbling to set his cap straight as Mark nudges him out the door, away from the fans and their camera phones. It’s beautiful out, almost too warm for the hood that Jackson has pulled up over his head, but a bit of cover is always nice these days. Feels kind of surreal, having these teenage girls trail them everywhere. Makes him feel like maybe they really are idols.
Mark nudges him with an elbow as he’s rattling around the ice in his plastic cup. “Leader says time to come back,” he says, wiggling his phone in Jackson’s direction. Jackson doesn’t need to look, though, he already heard the chirp of a notification from his own pocket.
“Only allowed out of the practice room for an hour,” Jackson grumbles, but it’s not Jaebum he’s complaining about. Jackson’s not stupid, he knows how much Jaebum carries on his shoulders. “Let’s take the long way home.”
Mark nods, matching Jackson’s lazy pace and bumping a hip up against him companionably. Jackson knows he probably shouldn’t be complaining. At least they still can leave the dorms without being mobbed. Some of their sunbaes aren’t nearly so lucky. Sometimes he feels like he’d go a little stir-crazy if he and Mark couldn’t slip away every once in a while, even when it’s just for a coffee.
They’re a couple of blocks from home, drinks long gone, when Jackson spots a dog at the side of the road. It’s huge, big and fluffy, with great big expressive eyes. “Dude!” He jabs Mark in the side. “Look!” He takes a few steps forward and the dog eyes him but doesn’t shy away. “C’mere, buddy.” Jackson loves dogs. If they’d let him keep a pet at the dorm, he’d totally get one of his own. As it is, he’s lucky if they get a visit from Jaebum’s cat. Nora is pretty cute, though.
He drops to a crouch, one hand out, palm up. The dog is strangely still, eyes trained on his face rather than sniffing his hand. Jackson’s never had much caution, though. He scratches the dog under the chin and grins. “Good boy, good pup.”
The dog tolerates it for a moment and then lunges forward. Jackson yelps and rocks back on his heels but he’s not fast enough to pull his wrist out of range. The dog’s teeth sink in deep, tearing through skin and Jackson yells, pushing fruitlessly at the dog’s head and mouth, trying to kick it off. It doesn’t even hurt at first, but it’s terrifying, how the dog digs its teeth in and shakes, refusing to let go. He can see the blood seeping out and down his arm, dripping onto his jeans, and Mark is shouting, kicking at the dog.
There’s a final jerk and it lets go, finally, stumbling back with a wet, red snarl. Mark lurches forward and screams at it and it disappears down a sidestreet with almost unnatural speed. Jackson is left on the pavement, clutching at his wrist. “Jackson?” Mark says, voice tight, and when he touches Jackson’s shoulder, that’s when Jackson realizes that he’s shaking. “Holy shit, that’s. That’s a lot of blood.”
Jackson feels it now, the burning ache in his wrist, and when he takes his hand away, he can see a perfect set of teeth marks torn into the skin. “It’s not that bad,” he says, forcing a smile. “See?” There’s an ahjumma on the corner, watching them warily, and Jackson waves at her with his good hand. Can’t have a scandal, not when comeback is in a couple of weeks.
He yanks his sleeve down and squeezes it tight over the wound. The bleeding has already slowed, and he’s glad he’s wearing black right about now. “Let’s go,” he says quietly. It’s better if Mark doesn’t know how shaken he is right now. “Better to get back to the dorm, where the only one who might bite me is Jinyoung.” He shrugs and laughs, voice wobbly, and tucks his arm in close to his side.
It’s good that they’re already so close to home. He hides his arm when he sees a few sasaengs loitering around, ignoring the phones they raise and the way they call his name, and ducks into the building. In the elevator, Mark reaches for his arm, turning it over. “That looks nasty,” he tells him.
Jackson yanks his hand out of his grip, hissing with pain. “It’s fine,” he says tightly, still smiling. Mark’s known him too long, though, and he doesn’t smile back. He just looks worried.
Jaebum’s worse. “Aish, what have you gotten yourself into this time?” he asks, immediately pushing Jackson down onto the couch and refusing to let him get up. “Jinyoungie, call manager hyung. Someone needs to have a look at this.” Jinyoung nods and pulls out his phone.
“I guess this is what I get for petting weird dogs,” Jackson says, but Jaebum doesn’t look too amused at his attempt at humour. “Right before comeback, too. Sorry, leader.”
Yugyeom emerges from the bathroom, arms loaded down with towels and the first aid kit. “Got them all, hyung,” he says, and he kneels down at their feet, holding them out. He looks so young right now, so scared. Jackson pets his good hand through Yugyeom’s hair and smiles down at him, his other wrist captive in Jaebum’s lap.
“What do you know about first aid, huh?” Jackson asks Jaebum, all forced joviality. “I thought you wanted to direct movies.”
Jaebum looks up from his hands, and Jackson feels a weird lurch in his gut when he sees the blood on Jaebum’s fingers. “Ah,” Jaebum says, and the tense lines of his face soften. “A good leader has many skills, Jackson. Don’t tell me you doubt me?”
He lays a towel across Jackson’s wrist and presses down gently. It’s a pretty sad attempt at making Jackson feel better, but that doesn’t mean it’s not working. “No way,” Jackson says. “Never.”
They get a medic in pretty quickly, and Jackson’s wrist is wrapped up nice and neat within half an hour. Their manager looks pretty furious, though, spends the next hour on the phone, trying to figure out if they’ll need to rework the choreography. “You’re pretty lucky,” the medic says as she tightens the wrappings on his arm. “It broke the skin but it doesn’t look like any muscle or bone got damaged.” She relinquishes his arm. “Dogs’ mouths are pretty dirty, though, so I want you to keep an eye on it, make sure it doesn’t get infected.”
“Yeah, of course,” Jackson says. He flexes his hand, and his wrist aches, but it doesn’t burn anymore. His whole arm feels odd, tingly.
“Yeah, keep it clean,” Jinyoung says, flopping down on the couch next to him and elbowing him. “You don’t want to lose your arm. Then we’d have to make Jaebum hyung do the flips, and he’s way too old.”
The medic stands, tidying up her things, and Yugyeom settles on Jackson’s other side, gingerly snaking an arm around his waist and dropping his chin onto Jackson’s shoulder. His grip is tight. Yugyeomie has always worried a little too much. “Way too old,” Yugyeom agrees. He’s so much taller than Jackson is but he’s always known how to fold up next to him and fit into his side.
“I would never do that to you guys,” Jackson says, and he pats Yugyeom’s knee. “Pinky swear.” He looks up and Jaebum rolls his eyes, smiling a little. There’s still a smudge of blood on the back of his hand. Jackson closes his hand in his lap again.
He wakes up early the next morning. On the bunk below him, Mark is still dead to the world, sprawled out on his belly and his blankets scrunched up in a worm across his back. He’s snoring a little. Jackson rubs at his eyes. The ache in his wrist is dull and distant, only flaring up when he presses down against the bandage with his thumb. He listens to someone moving around in the dorm, probably Jaebum, and tries to gather himself. He’s never been a morning person, but somehow, today, he’d just snapped awake, like a switch had been flipped. He’s not sure he likes it.
Idly, he pushes at the edge of the bandage, peeling it up so he can peek at the damage. It’s alright, right? He’s gonna have to clean it and rebandage it anyway. Except...maybe not. Underneath the bandage is dark, dried blood and pink, clean skin. No wound. He stares down, motionless. “The fuck?” he mutters. He leans over to look down at Mark, who shifts restlessly but doesn’t wake. This is too weird.
When he licks his thumb and smudges it across his wrist, all he exposes is more healed skin. There’s a ragged row of scars, a perfect bite mark etched into his arm. It’s kind of surreal. Maybe...maybe it wasn’t that bad? Maybe he’d had a really good paramedic. He presses down against the scars and a twinge shoots up his arm, making his fingertips tingle.
There’s a brief knock at the door before Jaebum sticks his head in, and Jackson hastily flattens his bandage down again. “You’re awake,” Jaebum says, surprised. He yawns and drags a hand through his hair, stepping over the mess on the floor. “How do you feel?”
“Like a brand new man,” Jackson says, and Jaebum rolls his eyes. It’s not far off, though. He feels well rested and wide-awake, and the pain in his wrist is so long gone it’s practically an afterthought. He holds out his hand and flexes his fingers a few time, twisting his wrist. “See? Good as new.”
Jaebum stoops to shake Mark awake, and Jackson listens to Mark groan and whine. “Don’t be stupid,” Jaebum warns when he straightens, resting his chin on the edge of Jackson’s bed. “If you need a break, I need you to tell me.” Jackson has to wonder how much sleep he got last night. Jaebum looks pale and wan, the lines around his eyes deep.
“I’m fine,” Jackson insists. “Scout’s honour.” He’s not really sure what a scout’s honour entails so he holds up a bunch of fingers and lays his injured hand over his heart.
With a snort, Jaebum flicks Jackson's forehead. “If you say so,” he says, eyeing Jackson’s bandaged wrist. Jackson’s sure he can see the way the tape’s peeling up, but he can’t do much to hide that now. For a minute, he considers telling Jaebum the truth, but it’s just too weird.
Bambam sticks his head around the door, rubbing at his puffy eyes. “Hyung,” he mumbles. “Jinyoung is hogging the bathroom again.”
Jaebum laughs and knocks his knuckles against Jackson’s nose one last time. “Alright,” he says. “I’m coming.” He throws a look over his shoulder when he pauses at the door, pointedly raising his eyebrows at Jackson. Jackson isn’t quite sure what he’s trying to say, but he’s pretty sure it’s some leader-y thing about not doing anything dumb. Jackson salutes.
He’s already wide awake, so there’s no real point in wasting time and rolling around in bed. They’ve got schedules, after all. He scrambles down off his bed, and he’s not thinking when he uses his injured hand. Mark frowns at him and Jackson ignores it, slipping out the door to dodge his questions. The last day or so has been strange enough already.
Other than an echo of an ache, the dog bite doesn’t give Jackson any more trouble. It’s too weird to talk about out loud, so Jackson spends a couple of weeks refusing any help with his bandages, locking himself in the bathroom to ‘clean his wounds’ every morning. It’s just easier that way, easier to deflect and pretend like he’s still healing up.
The scars on his wrist are still stark and white, standing out against the tan of his skin when he stops bothering with the bandages. He notices it sometimes, the way that Yugyeom’s eyes flick to his arm, his lips tight with worry, but Jackson shrugs it all off. He covers the scars with sweatbands and pushes his smile wider. After all, what is there to worry about? His arm’s kinda tingly sometimes, and he’s felt a little off since then, like everything’s a little too bright, but it doesn’t stop him from practicing. It’s not a big deal.
At least, he thinks it’s not.
Comeback is in less than a week, and Jackson is half asleep in the shower after a long, hard day of dance practice. They don’t have a second to breathe anymore, they just eat, sleep, and dream the new choreography and lyrics. Jackson likes this track, and he doesn’t have to do a flip this time around, thankfully. The whole acrobatics thing was getting kind of old by the second track.
“Hey.” Jackson doesn’t spare Mark much more than a glance as he wanders into the bathroom, swiping a hand across the mirror and reaching for his toothbrush. “Don’t nod off, alright? Sleep is for bed.”
Jackson grunts and yawns. “Don’t worry,” he says. “I’m not gonna injure myself even more. Promise.” The heat of the shower is making him feel foggy and strange. He can hear every tiny shift Mark makes at the sink, the splatter of toothpaste against the drain. He shakes his head. “Man. I think I practiced too hard. I feel way weird.” He turns his face under the spray and he’s hyperaware of the way the water hits his face and runs down his chest. It’s so strange.
Mark is strangely silent. “Dude, what?” he asks, twisting and wiping the water out of his eyes. “It’s not like you’ve never seen me naked before.”
“Jackson,” Mark says slowly. “Is that a tail?”
“Very funny, man,” Jackson says, except Mark doesn’t look like he’s joking. He’s frozen by the sink, toothpaste dripping off his brush, his feet getting wet, and he can’t stop staring. “Listen, man,” Jackson says uneasily. “If you want to look at my ass, just go ahead, you don’t need to make excuses.”
Except when he turns, he feels the shift of something weird behind him, and he reaches back to touch fur. “What the fuck?” he yelps, and he twists instinctively, trying to look at what appears to be an actual tail. “Mark?”
Wordlessly, Mark points up, at the top of his head. Jackson slides his hands through his wet hair, fearful, and his hands encounter pointed ears. He shrieks and flinches, his feet slipping out from underneath him and he lands painfully on the slick, tiled floor of the bathroom. “What the fuck!” He pulls at them tentatively, and it hurts, and holy shit, those are his ears. No wonder everything sounded strange. “What is this?”
Mark drops to a crouch, avoiding the still-running shower. “You smell like wet dog,” he informs Jackson, wiping the trace of toothpaste off the corner of his mouth. “It’s pretty gross, man.”
“Why do I have a tail?” Jackson wails. Mark reaches out and grabs the end of it, curling his fingers into the fur and pulling, hard. Before he even thinks about it, Jackson jerks forward, snapping his teeth and growling.
“Whoa.” Mark scuttles back out of reach and scrambles to his feet. “This is. Too weird.” He backs out of the room, eyes fixed on Jackson like he’s going to do something scary, like attack. Jackson whines guiltily, rubbing his hands across his face.
Mark has a point, though. This is weird as fuck. Jackson ignores the increasingly cool water and tries to figure out exactly what has changed. His nails are inexplicably long and sharp, and when he runs his tongue along his teeth, he finds them too pointed. He’s kind of freaking out.
He shouts again when the door slams open and then all of a sudden, it’s like his entire group is crowded in the doorway, staring down at him. Jaebum’s in the lead, but the rest of them are jammed in around him, heads sticking through, six pairs of eyes blinking down at him. “Huh,” Jinyoung says, peering over Jaebum’s shoulder. He looks at Mark. “He does smell like wet dog.”
“Guys,” Jackson whines, trying to cover himself up. “I am having a crisis.” He gestures at them with a flap of his hand. “I’m not an exhibit at a zoo!”
“You kind of look like it,” Youngjae says, but he shrinks back behind Jinyoung again when Jackson glares at him.
None of them speak for a while, and Jackson folds his legs up in front of him, dropping his head onto his knees. “I’m all weird and hairy now,” he says mournfully, and even his whine is beginning to sound kind of like an animal. “This is taking the whole wild thing way past sexy.”
“Um, hyung?” Everyone turns to Yugyeom when he speaks. “It’s, uh. Isn’t it a full moon?”
It takes Jackson a few seconds for that to sink in. “No,” he says firmly. His teeth are starting to feel too big for his mouth. “I am not a werewolf.” His whole body itches, feels too small. He squirms uncomfortably and wishes he’d remembered to turn the water off before it’d gotten cold.
“You did get bitten by a really weird dog,” Mark points out.
“Werewolves don’t exist,” Jackson says. It’s getting harder and harder to sit here, the angle too uncomfortable to keep up. He pushes forward to rest on his palms. “This isn’t happening.”
Jaebum laughs a little. “I don’t think that denial will make it stop,” he says gently.
Jackson’s spine makes a crack and he hates the way they all flinch away. If they think it’s scary, what about him? He’s the one it’s happening to! His hands are curling in on themselves and he looks up at Jaebum, eyes wide.
“Alright, show’s over,” Jaebum announces. He shoos the rest of the group out of the bathroom and then reaches over to turn off the shower. By now, Jackson can’t even speak, his jaw and nose pushing out with a bizarre crunching noise. All he can do is whine, shoving past Jaebum on his hands and knees and fleeing to his bedroom.
He’s too big, now. He can’t climb the ladder to his bunk with paws instead of hands, and Mark would be so mad if he gets his wet dog smell all over his bed. He tries to squirm underneath the beds, claws scrabbling at the floor, but he can’t squeeze himself underneath.
He lets out a piteous little yelp and tries not to panic too much. He can’t be a werewolf. What kind of idol turns into a wolf on a full moon? He squeezes his eyes shut and tries to ignore how he can smell everything, the cologne sample in the magazine that he tucked under his pillow last night, Mark’s gross dirty socks, absolutely everything. This is too much.
There’s a knock on the door, and then someone comes in. His footsteps are light, but he smells familiar, like Jackson should know who he is. Clean and masculine. “Hey.” Jaebum. “I think you’re a little too big to fit under there, you know.”
It takes way too much wriggling to get himself back out again. Jackson’s not used to being down on all fours, to the way that these limbs work. He’s especially not used to not having hands. It’s a real pain in the ass. When he finally manages it, he sits back on his haunches and he huffs. He hates not being able to talk. “This is so strange,” Jaebum says softly, folding himself down into Mark’s bunk. “You’re a wolf, but -” He tips his head. “Same eyes. Huh.”
Jackson butts his nose up against Jaebum’s knee, growling a little. How is he so calm? They can’t come back if Jackson is an overgrown dog. “Sorry,” Jaebum says. He holds out his hand and grimaces a little when Jackson slobbers deliberately all over it. “I know it’s gotta be freaking you out worse than us.”
That’s an understatement. Jackson snorts and flattens his ears, resting his chin on Jaebum’s knee. At least, he supposes, he doesn’t have any weird bloodthirsty urges to maim or howl at the moon or whatever. He kind of just wants to curl up with his head in Jaebum’s lap and go to sleep. He smells so good. Is that new? He just smells super comforting, and when he hesitantly pets a hand down Jackson’s spine, Jackson can feel some of the tension bleeding away. Maybe this whole furry monster thing could be kind of okay.
“You’re just as much of a cuddle monster like this,” Jaebum tells him, and he scratches under Jackson’s ears. Mortifyingly, Jackson feels the urge to kick his leg. Isn’t he supposed to be a werewolf? This is lame. “See? Not that much different.”
The door eases open and Jackson jerks to attention as Mark pokes his head into the room. “Sooooo…” he says slowly, eyeing Jackson. “This is a thing that’s still happening, huh?” He steps inside when Jackson doesn’t move, taking in his whole wolfed-out form. “Whoa.” It takes Jackson a second to place the scent, but Mark is nervous. He makes Mark nervous. That’s stupid. He drops down on his haunches again, ears drooping.
Jaebum clears his throat and Mark blinks. “You’re smaller than I thought you’d be,” he says. It’s not much of a joke, but Jackson steps forward carefully, swatting a paw against Mark’s leg, a little too close to his balls. “Easy,” Mark says, but the sharpness of his nerves is fading. “It’s not my fault you’re a midget.” He reaches out, but he doesn’t pat Jackson, just taps him on the nose. “Good dog,” he says. Jackson growls.
“Well,” Jaebum says after a moment. “I think it’s pretty safe to say that Jackson can’t sleep in his bed tonight.” Jackson looks up mournfully at his comfy comfy bunk and Jaebum scratches idly behind his ears again.
Mark looks alarmed. “No,” he says. “I’m not sharing my bed with him.” Jackson headbutts him, none-too-gently. “Dude,” he says. “You’re all…” he gestures vaguely. “And it’s like thirty degrees out. And it’s weird.”
If Jackson could speak, he’d be complaining about how he resents whatever it is that Mark is implying, and loudly. But he can’t, so he settles for looking pointedly away. He hopes Mark understands that he’s giving him the cold shoulder. “He can sleep in my room,” Jaebum suggests. “Youngjae and I sleep on the floor.”
Sounds uncomfortable. “Okay,” Mark says. “Yeah, sounds better to me.” He’s a terrible roommate. Jackson wonders for a moment if he can get away with peeing on Mark’s shoes if he’s all furry like this. “Want your pillow?”
No, what Jackson wants is his hands back. And his old mouth. And no tail. He huffs and Mark grabs the pillow, tossing it at him. It bounces off Jackson's nose and lands on the floor and Jackson stares at it. If he grabs it with his teeth, it’ll be all slobbery. Do werewolves even need pillows? He nudges it with his snout and whines a little.
“I’ve got it,” Jaebum says. He tucks the pillow under his arm as Mark climbs into his bed, pulling off his shirt. Show off, Jackson thinks. “Sleep well, Mark.”
Youngjae isn’t pleased about the switch in sleeping arrangements, but he complies easily enough, and Jackson takes comfort in remembering that Youngjae makes really strange noises in his sleep. Youngjae toddles off to Jackson and Mark’s room with his blankets in hand, grumbling and yawning, and Jackson trails after Jaebum into the room he shares with Youngjae.
“This isn’t a big deal,” Jaebum says firmly, pulling out his blankets and setting up his bed. “The full moon only lasts for one night, right? I’m sure you’ll be way less wolfy in the morning.” He settles back and grins at Jackson, one of those smiles that’s blinding in its surety, a leader special that Jackson doesn’t entirely trust.
He circles a little and then lies down at the edge of Jaebum’s bed with a thump. He’s not sure how to get comfortable anymore. Is he even going to be able to sleep through the night? He’s a wolf. He whines a little, ears flopping down as he tucks his nose under his paws.
“Jackson,” Jaebum says, and Jackson’s eyes flick up. “It’s so weird with you being so quiet. Come here.”
It’s pretty warm in Jaebum’s room, even with a fan going, but he gestures for Jackson to come forward and Jackson does, squirming forward on his belly and dragging all the covers with him. He settles down beside Jaebum, presumably where Youngjae sleeps, and he’s startled when Jaebum tucks his pillow under his chin. “If you drool on it, you’re the one doing your laundry,” Jaebum reminds him.
Lying on all those blankets with Jackson’s new fur isn’t really all that comfortable, but they smell like Jaebum, and that seems a whole lot better than whatever alternative he might have. It could be worse, really.
Though, it does get worse when Jaebum scratches a hand across Jackson’s head. “Good night,” Jaebum says sleepily, and he watches Jackson for a beat, like he’s expecting him to reply. He rolls over, back pressed against Jackson’s side, and it’s a little too hot, but Jackson likes it.
Jackson’s drooling when he wakes up. He feels almost as good as after a good work out, a good dance practice, or a good lay. His muscles are sore in that well-used way, and he feels relaxed and refreshed. Which is strange, because when comeback approaches, he mostly ends up feeling exhausted and drained. It’s nice.
Until he realizes that it’s not his pillow that he’s lying on. It’s Jaebum’s belly. He’s drooling all over Jaebum’s stomach. And his morning wood is pressed up against Jaebum’s shin because he’s not wearing any clothes - Jackson rears back, his feet tangled in his blankets, and ends up sprawls out on his ass. “Haaaaaaaaaahahahaha, fuck, sorry, I’m…” He gropes around for his pillow and shoves it in front of his dick. “I’m just gonna go? Now? And like, put clothes on. And be not here.”
Jaebum blinks at him, creases from the pillow pressed into his face. “I kinda miss the not talking thing,” he mumbles, sleep-slow. They give Youngjae a lot of trouble for it, but it’s not like Jaebum has ever been a morning guy, either. He’s rubbing furiously at his eyes and yawning at Jackson. Even while Jackson panics about being naked and hard in front of him, there’s a part of him that dimly registers how unfairly hot Jaebum is. His sleep shirt is old and worn, the collar stretching too low and exposing his sharp collarbones. Stupid. Jackson feels a flush creeping up his cheeks.
“Yeah, well,” Jackson says, struggling to get to his feet and also not expose his dick. Again. Why is this his life? “Just wait for next month, or whatever, since being a werewolf is kind of like the period of monster curses.” Jaebum laughs, turning over to bury his face in his pillow. Jackson is just praying that he doesn’t notice the massive wet spot on his shirt from Jackson’s drool.
He feels around on the floor with one bare foot for something, anything, to put on. With a bit of trouble, he manages to dig out a couple of shirts and pulls one over his head. Jaebum’s, he knows, even without looking. Is this gonna be a thing now? The whole smelling thing? At least Jaebum smells good. There are worse people to smell. Like Jinyoung.
“Go wake up the kids,” Jaebum says into his pillow. “We have a schedule in an hour.”
Jackson is definitely not fixated on the way Jaebum’s shoulders look in that paper-thin shirt. “Since when am I your servant?” he asks, a bit indignant. He’s swapped his pillow for a shirt, one of Youngjae’s, it looks like. Smells like him, too. Jackson is a bit annoyed with himself for knowing that. “That’s your job, leader.”
Jaebum only raises his head to level a baleful eye on Jackson and Jackson groans, pulling a hand through his messy hair. He probably does owe Jaebum for the whole not-freaking-out-when-Jackson-grew-a-tail thing. Especially since it was pretty much the only thing that kept Jackson from doing the same. “I’m protesting this,” Jackson tells him, so he knows, and all he gets for his trouble is the corner of Jaebum’s smile poking out from underneath his pillow and a thumbs up. Great.
Nobody wants to be tasked with dragging Youngjae out of bed in the morning but it turns out that Jackson’s got a secret weapon. “Is that my shirt?” Youngjae asks, going from half-asleep to shrill and piercing in like, zero seconds flat. Jackson grimaces. “On your dick? Why?” He lets out a wail and Jackson throws the shirt at his face. Problem solved.
Later, in the van on their way to a radio station, Jackson tucks his chin onto Jaebum’s shoulder. The rest of the members are either asleep or have their headphones in, but he keeps his voice low anyway. “How did you know?” Jackson asks. “That like, I wouldn’t turn all bitey and maul you to death or whatever.”
Jaebum’s quiet for a moment, and then he shrugs. “You’re all bark and no bite,” he says, and then he twists to meet Jackson’s eyes. “I know you wouldn’t hurt me.”
For once, Jackson doesn’t have a reply to that.
The next full moon goes okay. Things have eased off now that they’ve released their track and it did pretty well, and Jaebum manages to convince their manager to get them out of practice early. It’s just in time, too, because by the time he climbs out of the van, Jackson’s teeth are starting to feel too big for his mouth. Jackson clamps his mouth shut and lets Jinyoung wind an arm around his waist, steering him inside. He spends the night curled up in Jaebum’s room, nose pressed to Jaebum’s wrist. He always smells good, but Jackson’s finding out that as a wolf, Jaebum smells irresistible.
It’s the one after that that gives him trouble. He’d known that they were headed back to Japan, obviously, between recording tracks for their next Japanese mini and preparing videos to promote it. He just hadn’t really registered when.
It turns out the next full moon lands right on their first night. They’ve got a sort of dorm for the next three weeks, and everything smells funny, sharp and chemical and unfamiliar. Jackson doesn’t even have time to get used to it before they’re being dragged out to a fansign, and then he’s got to paste on a smile and try to remember the three Japanese phrases he’s memorized. He’s starting to notice the change earlier, which isn’t exactly a comfort. Right now all it means is that he can smell every person in this room, their excitement and their happiness and their nerves, all rolling at him like a wave. Camera flashes are blinding, and he clenches his hands against the tabletop, grin tight as he tries not to flinch with every one.
Next to him, Bambam looks at him funny. “Are you okay?” he whispers, handing him a water. “You look kind of pale.”
It takes Jackson a moment to register that he’s been asked a question. “Oh, hey, whatever, I’m fine,” he says, and then he waves at a girl in the front row with a camera with his name on it. It’s only a little while longer, right? It’s been nearly eight months since they were last in Japan, and there are so many fans here. The mall looks packed to the brim. He can put up with this for a little longer. “I guess I must be jetlagged or something.”
Bambam pulls this completely disbelieving face, probably because their flight this morning wasn’t even three hours long. “Okay…” he says, turning around to Yugyeom and shrugging.
Jackson tosses his marker onto the table and pulls off his snapback, running a hand through his hair. He feels so on edge right now. He’s not changing, not yet, but like. He feels it. His skin prickles and itches and he feels like he’s on sensory overload. He hopes the whole language barrier thing is enough to cover for the way that he drastically misspells the next fans name. They think that kind of thing is cute, right?
A hand falls onto his knee, thumb rubbing up against the seam on the inside of his thigh. The line of fans is still moving, but Jaebum takes a moment to catch Jackson’s eye and give him a smile. “You’re looking a bit wobbly,” he says softly. “Are you okay?”
It’s too embarrassing to say “I am now”, so Jackson settles for nodding and looking away. It’s getting a little bit weird, how all it takes is Jaebum’s touch and he’s melting down into a Jackson puddle. That feels pretty dangerous.
He forgets all about it when they’re back at home. Jackson had thought it’d be easier, but everything smells weird, like not-home. By the time that he’s down on four legs, he’s even more tightly wound, and he hadn’t even bothered to unpack. He curls up in the corner of his bedroom and tucks his nose under his tail, trying to block it all out. Maybe he’s whining a little, but he’d never admit it. No matter how much he waits, sleep doesn’t come.
He’s kind of freaking Mark out, he knows. Mark crouches down by his head. He smells like body spray and fresh cotton. Jackson lashes his tail. “Um,” he mutters, and he hesitantly traces a hand down Jackson’s back. It’s worse than the whole fansign, makes him raise his hackles and growl without thinking. Mark jerks his hand away, looking hurt. “Sorry,” he says. “I was just trying to help.” He stands again, scratches at the back of his head, and then heads out of the room.
Jackson only raises his nose when he hears the door open. “He’s been like that for like an hour,” Mark mutters, and Jackson thumps his tail once in irritation. “I’ve never heard an animal cry before. It’s weird.” His voice is strange and tight, like he’s worried, and that’s the worst. Jackson isn’t some pity case, he’s an impressively large monster with sharp teeth and he just happens to be having an off day.
A really off day.
He doesn’t have to look to know that it’s Jaebum who settles down next to him. “Wimp,” Jaebum says, digging his fingers into the ruff on Jackson’s neck. Jackson doesn’t really plan it, but right now it seems like a good idea to squirm his way into Jaebum’s lap, his weight heavy on Jaebum’s thighs and his nose shoved up into Jaebum’s armpit. He smells so good. “Aish, you big mutt,” Jaebum says.
Jackson’s not a mutt. He’s a majestic fucking wolf. He nips at the soft skin at the underside of Jaebum’s arm and Jaebum jerks, laughing. “You know you’re heavy, right? You’re a werewolf, not a lapdog.” He doesn’t push him off, though. He lets Jackson breathe him in, scratching his fingers behind Jackson’s ears while he scrolls through his phone. It’s turning Jackson boneless, tension seeping out with every stroke of Jaebum’s hand. He’s got no idea how it’s working, but it is.
As he drifts off, Jaebum muttering something about how his feet are falling asleep, Jackson does his best not to think about how he’s not really even sure Jaebum would let this happen, if he weren’t a wolf right now.
“So, what’s it like?” Bambam asks around his chopsticks at lunch the next day.
Jackson is yawning into his bowl, scrubbing at the back of his neck. Jaebum had only pushed Jackson off when he was ready for bed, but they’d ended up in Jackson’s bunk together, Jackson curled up around Jaebum’s feet. It’d seemed like a good idea until he’d woken up with his face mashed into the back of Jaebum’s knee. At least he was starting to get used to Jaebum getting a great view of his morning boner. He didn’t leap out of bed, this time, and he only turned half as red. That’s sort of like character growth, right? “What’s what like?” he mutters, scrubbing at his eye with a knuckle.
“The whole...wolf thing.” Immediately, Jackson shrinks down in his seat, looking furtively around the restaurant. What if someone overhears? Like, a fan or something? No one is looking at them, but that’s beside the point. Bambam frowns. “I thought it’d be cool, or at least scary, but all you do is grow a tail and nap.”
“Well, it’s not like I can just go run free in the wilds of Seoul,” Jackson says, and he vengefully steals a mouthful of Bambam’s rice. “I can’t even date anyone, much less go on a murderous wolf-y rampage.”
Bambam shoves him, but only a little. He’s figured out the whole hyung-dongsaeng thing now. “It’s still disappointing,” he says.
“Yeah, but I look pretty great, right?” Jackson asks. He looks around the table for support. “Like, super majestic, right? Fearsome and awe-inspiring.”
“Definitely,” Yugyeom says, and he flashes Jackson a thumbs up. Which is encouraging but also not, because Yugyeom agrees with almost everything he says. What a great kid.
“Kinda small, actually,” Jinyoung tells him. “But that’s to be expected.” He grins.
Small. Jackson grimaces. He doesn’t feel small when he’s a wolf. He feels like he doesn’t fit anywhere anymore. “Whatever,” he says. “I know I look awesome.” He doesn’t, but that’s kind of beside the point. He hasn’t yet mustered the courage to look at himself in a mirror when he’s shifted, because he’s not even sure he wants to. It’s already so jarring to just look down and see paws instead of hands, fur instead of skin. Too weird.
“He can be scary,” Mark says, and when Jackson looks over at him, he won’t meet his eyes. Ah, shit.
Jackson shifts uncomfortably, then he puffs out his chest and grins. “See? Mark’s got my back. Thanks, bro.” Mark nods, but he doesn’t smile. Jackson’s getting the sneaking suspicion that he’s going to have to fix this, which is like, his least favourite thing in the world. He glances at Mark again, but he’s studying his bowl, and Jackson’s stomach turns uncomfortably.
“Less talking, more eating,” Jaebum says, tapping Bambam’s elbow. “We’ve got filming soon, and I don’t know when we’ll get to dinner.” He’s got good timing, because there are fans raising their cameras a few tables over, and because Jackson’s feeling a little put out by the rest of them. It’s not like he asked for any of this, and now they’re making him feel like he’s not a good-enough werewolf. He steals another choice bit of meat, this time from Jinyoung. He’s so hungry today.
They’re given cameramen and sent out to wander around Japan on some kind of scavenger hunt, and Jackson’s paired with Mark. Usually Jackson’s stoked on the dream team, but neither of them have, uh, really been keeping up with their Japanese studies. Jackson hunches over his phone, squinting at the tiny map that the PD had sent them. “I think it’s this way?” he says, gesturing vaguely down a street. Of course, Jinyoung has already sent him a flurry of victorious line messages, so it’s just them against the maknaes. Jackson would be pretty sad if they beat him and Mark this time around.
“Are you sure?” Mark asks. He leans over Jackson’s shoulder but keeps a careful distance between the two of them. That stings a little. The guy with the camera is right there, and Jackson had thought that Mark had gotten used to the whole skinship thing by now. Maybe he’s fucked it up. “Are you sure it’s the right way around?” He nudges Jackson towards the next street over. “I think, uh, the signs match?”
“Really should’ve studied more,” Jackson mutters, but Mark is right. He was reading the signs wrong. “Forward ho!” he shouts in English, and then they’re marching on.
After a while down the street, their camera guy lowers his camera, waving them forward. There’s only so much footage of them walking that they can use, and even though Jackson’s been doing his best, Mark’s been pretty reticent today, quiet and monosyllabic. It’s not really entertaining. It’s weird and uncomfortable and Jackson hates it even more than what he’s about to do.
“Hey, uh, I’m sorry,” he says quietly. Mark looks at him. “For the whole…” he bares his teeth, “...thing.” He rubs a hand across the back of his neck. “I know it’s all weird, but like, I never meant to be so mean to you.” He really hadn’t. He’s still trying to adjust to the whole werewolf thing and Mark is his best friend. It’s not like he’d planned the way that only Jaebum’s touch calms him down. “It’s nothing personal, I swear.”
Mark nods. “Okay,” he says, but it doesn’t really sound all that much like he’s accepting the apology. He’s paying a lot more attention to the phone in Jackson’s hand than to Jackson himself, and even if there wasn’t something wrong, Jackson would be offended on principle.
“I mean it,” he says, pocketing the phone, and Mark finally looks at him. “Dude, this is so fucking weird for me.” Mark raises his eyebrows and says nothing. “I mean like, haha, funny, I smell like a dog, but it’s pretty scary when you’ve got no control over what’s happening to you.” He exhales and shakes his head. “I know you don’t mean me any harm, though, alright? I’ll try not to take it out on you.”
Mark has always taken his time with his words, something that Jackson doesn’t really understand but he’s gotten used to it by now. And it’s no different, the way that he drags his heels against the pavement, silent and just a little too far away from Jackson for comfort. It takes a whole lot of self-restraint for Jackson to stay quiet with him and wait. He wants an answer now.
They’re nearly three blocks away when Mark finally speaks. “Yeah, it’s cool,” Mark tells him, and he offers Jackson a bit of a smile. “I don’t think I’d be really cool with everything in your place, either.”
Jackson throws his hands up in the air. “It’s so...like, I grow a tail, once a month? What the fuck is that?” He laughs a little. “Strange shit, man.” Their camera guy is watching them, but it’s kinda nice, having that language barrier there. At least he doesn’t have to worry about people overhearing. At least, too much. He glances at Mark. “Is it too much?” he asks. “Like, is it too weird? I can always swap rooms or something.”
Mark’s silent for long enough that Jackson starts worrying again. “Nah,” he says finally. “Dude, I’ve lived with you for like, years now. This isn’t even the weirdest thing I’ve seen you do.”
His smile is sly, and Jackson is suddenly reminded of one night back when they were trainees, his birthday. He claps a hand over Mark’s mouth, even though the street is empty and the camera is off. “We do not speak of that,” he hisses.
Mark peels his hand off. “See?” he says. “You can’t eat me. I know all your dirty secrets.” Jackson’s not sure of that logic, but he’s okay with the outcome, anyway.
They round a corner, his phone GPS announces another turn, and the camera man flicks on his camera again. “Alright,” Jackson says dramatically, and he reels Mark in with an arm around his neck. “So we have successfully made it two whole blocks. Applause, please.” Obligingly, Mark claps, and Jackson’s grin is wide and bright.
It’s when they’re back in Korea that Jackson starts noticing the changes are sticking around, even when it’s not the full-moon. They’ve only been in the van for a few minutes when Jackson grimaces, wrinkling up his nose. “Dude,” he says, twisting to face Youngjae. “What did you have for lunch? That shit is rank.”
The thing is, he’s a full row in front of Youngjae. He feels a tiny bit bad when Youngjae shrinks, trying to be discreet when he breathes into his hand and smells it to check. Jinyoung and Bambam, sitting on either side of Youngjae in the back, exchange a look. “He smells fine,” Jinyoung frowns. “Leave the poor kid alone.”
Jackson resents the implication there. “I’m not making this up!” he says. “I’m trying to nap, but like, all I can smell is garlic.” He fans his nose. “Sorry, but like, toxic environment here.”
Bambam leans in really close to Youngjae’s face, sniffing. “I don’t really smell it,” he says, pulling away again, and then his eyes get really big. “Oh, wait, hyung, is this a werewolf thing? Whoa.”
“What?” Jackson blinks. “No, I just...is it?” He inhales, but the garlic is still there, getting stronger when Youngjae turns to face him. Oh man.
“Lamest superpower,” Jinyoung says. “Can you smell crime?”
“No, just your feet,” Jackson replies, and he snaps his teeth at him.
It probably wasn’t the best choice, because then Jinyoung just hauls off his shoes and twists around in his seat, pushing his feet over the headrest and trying to touch them to Jackson’s face. It’s disgusting and Jackson shrieks and lunges forward, pressing himself against Jaebum’s seat. In the front, their manager is nearly shouting at them, not nearly as entertained as Jinyoung is, and it takes a couple of minutes before Jinyoung finally retreats and puts his shoes back on. The damage is done, though. The entire van reeks of feet, and by the time they get to the JYP building, Jackson’s got a headache and feels like he’s got the taste of it stuck on the back of his tongue. Bleh.
It’s not just smells, though. They’re filming a CF and Jaebum and Jinyoung are tucked away in the corner, waiting for their turns while Jackson himself is filming his own solo part. He’s supposed to be catching a can of soda and taking a refreshing drink, but Jackson’s distracted from the first throw by Jinyoung’s voice. “Do you think we should tell manager hyung? About the whole...deal...with Jackson?”
Jackson’s head whips around and the can sails by him, smashing onto the ground. “I am so sorry,” he says immediately, looking helplessly at the spray of sticky soda spreading across the polished wood floor. When he risks looking up again, he shrinks under the PD’s unimpressed gaze. “I am so sorry,” he squeaks again, bending into a sharp, apologetic bow. They’re still rookies, he can’t afford to give them a rep of being hard to work with. “That was entirely my fault, please, let me try again. I will work harder.” The man sighs and nods, waving forward one of the assistants to clean up the mess.
He can feel the weight of Jaebum’s eyes from the other end of the room but he shrugs it off and tries to focus on what he’s doing. He can’t miss this again.
A stylist is fixing his hair when he hears Jinyoung speak again. “I mean, isn’t this kind of thing serious? It could mess with the group.”
Jackson clenches his teeth and then turns, smiling for the camera. He knows that Jinyoung has a point, but he doesn’t want to tell anyone. Who would believe it, anyway? A werewolf idol. “Relax,” the PD says. “Don’t look so stiff.”
“Sorry,” Jackson says again.
When they start filming again, most of Jackson’s focus is on the two in the corner. He’s kind of terrified of what Jaebum will say. “It is serious,” Jaebum agrees after a moment, and Jackson catches the next can, beams at the camera after a refreshing drink. “But I think it’s up to Jackson. It’s his secret, not ours.”
Jackson lets out a breath he didn’t even know he was holding.
“Is it really that much different from any secret an idol keeps?” Jaebum asks, his voice suddenly pointed. Jackson gets a glimpse of him as the cameras are adjusted, but it’s Jinyoung who catches his eye, face abashed. “Like who he chooses to sleep with?”
It surprises Jackson that he can faintly hear Jinyoung’s heart speed up. “I guess not,” he says.
“I’m sorry,” Jaebum says, reaching out to touch Jinyoung’s elbow. “That was harsh.” The PD clears his throat and Jackson turns around again, bobbing his head in apology. He’s really not doing well today.
“No, I understand,” Jinyoung says. Jackson steals a glance and Jinyoung’s relaxed again, nudging Jaebum back. “Leader.”
They both laugh before a PD swings a camera into their faces and then they snap to attention. The tension seeps out of Jackson’s body as he listens to Jinyoung complain about how long he’s taking. Safe for now, at least.
The PD dismisses him and Jackson nods, thanking everyone for their time as he slips away. He wants to get out of this stupid neon orange jacket, anyway. It’s Jaebum who gets called up next, and as he passes, he raises his eyebrows at Jackson. Jackson can’t help but grin back.
“What are you doing over there?” Jaebum drops down next to Jackson, eyes curious. They’re shooting another season of Real Got7, and right now, Jinyoung and Youngjae are in the confessional. “You look very deep in thought.”
“Shhhh,” Jackson says sharply, not looking up. He’s focused on his hands instead. “I’m trying something out.”
“Using your brain? Dangerous.” Concentration broken, Jackson scowls and elbows Jaebum in the ribs. Jaebum just grins, rubbing his hand over the spot. “I don’t see anything happening.”
“Shut up,” Jackson groans. He shakes out his hands, flexing his fingers, and then he stretches them out again. “Okay. Okay. Just watch.”
Jaebum leans back in his chair and spreads his arms, gesturing to Jackson to continue. It’s a bit patronizing but Jackson decides to ignore it, because he’s got more important things to think about. Like the job at hand. He stares at the back of his hands, and as he focuses, his skin starts to itch. The tingling starts at his nails and works back, bone deep and almost intolerable. They’re getting longer, sharper, his fingers curving in. “Oh, wow,” Jaebum says softly.
“Right?” Jackson raises his clawed hands up towards Jaebum and bares his teeth, growling a little. “I’ve been practicing some for a while now.” He hadn’t even considered it, at first, because like, why would he want to be a wolf if he didn’t have to be? But one night during dance practice, when they’d been there for hours and Jackson was worn out and exhausted and sick of being snapped at for each little slip or misstep, he’d felt that itch again. When he’d looked at himself in the mirror, he’d seen his eyes flash amber, and when he’d yawned, his teeth were too sharp. “Cool, huh?”
Jaebum tips his head. “It’s almost like a superpower, now,” he says. “Jackson Wang, Wolf Boy.”
When Jackson quits focusing, the tingling recedes and his hands straighten, nails blunt and short once more. “Wolf Man,” he says, frowning. “Majestic.” He puffs out his chest. He doesn’t need to shift to be sure that he’s got the best body in the group. Well. He eyes the broadness of Jaebum’s chest and his cheeks warm a little. Maybe second best. Still the best thighs, though. “Admit it.”
“Hmm.” Jaebum strokes his chin. “Maybe a tiny bit.” He holds his fingers up, an inch apart. “But only a little.”
“Are we talking about Jackson’s dick?” Mark asks, taking the seat on Jackson’s other side.
It’s probably years of practice that taught him to dodge away from the fist Jackson sends his way, but it’s Jaebum’s hand on Jackson’s knee that stops him from swinging a second time. “I think,” Jaebum says, his eyes dropping meaningfully towards Jackson’s crotch for a moment, “that we both know that I’m not.”
Jackson had been studiously pretending that Jaebum didn’t get a good look at any of his equipment on the nights that he shifted, but this pretty much blows that all out of the water. “Oh my God,” he says, torn between being mortified and a little bit turned on. Mark throws back his head and laughs. “Shut up, man, come on.”
“Leader is very kind,” Mark says solemnly, and Jackson uses the buzz of irritation to turn his eyes wolf-amber, baring sharper teeth. “Whoa!” Mark leans so far back in his chair that he nearly falls out. “Whoa.”
“It is a nice party trick,” Jaebum tells Jackson, and when he’s called to his time for the camera, he pats Jackson’s knee one last time and gets up.
Free of Jaebum’s influence, Jackson punches Mark in the knee. “You’re a dick,” he says. “Like, the biggest one ever.”
Mark grins at him, ostentatiously adjusting his pants and leaning back in his chair. Jackson hates him. “Dude,” Mark says. “You’re so in love.”
“We’re not talking about this,” Jackson says, pulling at his snapback. “We’re not talking about this, and also you’re dead to me. My dick is great.” He frowns down at his crotch. It is great. Motion of your ocean and shit. He’s going to jerk off into Mark’s sock drawer as revenge.
Mark shrugs and stands. “Jaebum definitely thinks so.” He tips his head and smiles at Jackson, heading off to throw an arm around Yugyeom’s shoulders and mug for the behind the scenes camera. Jackson would follow him over there, but he’s got half a chub in his pants to will down before his turn in confessional and all he can think about is the considering way that Jaebum looked him over. This is terrible.
“Hyung.” The way that Youngjae is hissing at him is apparently supposed to be conspiratorial but he’s mostly drawing the attention of everyone around them. “Jackson hyung.”
The stylist dusts off Jackson’s shoulders one last time, and then nudges him towards the rest of the group, standing and waiting for their call. “What, Youngjae?” Jackson grimaces. He’s still not used to these stage pants. It’s like everything is way too tight. He pulls at his slacks.
“Don’t look now, but you are being watched.” Youngjae digs an elbow into Jackson’s ribs and jerks his chin towards where Girl’s Day are preparing for their own stage. “See?” He jabs his elbow in harder and raises his eyebrows almost all the way to his hairline.
He’s not wrong, though. When he turns and peeks at the four of them, he gets a little jolt of excitement when he finds that Hyeri is kind of staring him down, eyes wide and intense. They’ve never really met Girl’s Day, just rotated past each other during promotions and exchanged bows in the corridors. So this is really weird and also super cool. “Dude,” he hisses at Mark excitedly. Jaebum glances at him, face unreadable, but Jackson ignores the way his stomach lurches a little in favour of Mark’s thumbs up.
It’s still a little bit surreal that they get to rub elbows with people like Hyeri. Jackson can’t forget being a trainee and lying on his belly in the dorms, watching the music shows and deciding who dances best, who’s hottest. And now here he is, trying to deal with the fact that Hyeri is watching him like she’s trying to give him an x-ray with her eyes. He can’t decide if it’s a compliment or kinda scary. It’s definitely a little bit weird, though.
He gets it when they’re all crowded onstage for the final stage. He doesn’t listen much to the announcement, since IU came back a week or two ago, and it’s pretty obvious who’s gonna be getting the trophy tonight. What he is interested in is the scent he just caught. He’s used to the hairspray and makeup and all the other chemicals he smells on a daily basis on shows, but this is something else entirely. It’s warm, female, and not like home, not quite. It’s - Hyeri. And she’s staring at him again. It takes him a moment before he gets it. She’s one too. He doesn’t know how to classify the rush he gets, part relief and part fear. He swallows hard.
She corners him the instant they’re all offstage. “Jackson Wang, right? I didn’t know you were a wolf!” she says breathlessly, eyes big and excited. She’s gripping his wrist, surprisingly strong. He doesn’t even know her. “How did you hide it from me for so long?”
She’s not even trying to pitch her voice quietly and Jackson tenses, watching everyone around them. A few feet away, Hyeri’s groupmates are monitoring them carefully. Sojin is looking at him like he pissed on her shoes. It’s terrifying. “It’s, uh, it’s kinda new.”
Hyeri’s eyes get even bigger. “Seriously?” she asks, covering her mouth with a hand. Up close, Jackson realizes that she smells like someone he should know. Like a place he’s been before. It’s so strange. “Oh wow. I’ve never met a bite case before. Did it hurt?”
“I was bitten by a big dog,” Jackson tells her. “What do you think?” He turns over the hand she has captive and pulls up his sleeve, exposing the scar. It’s still as perfect as it’s always been, stark and white and obvious. “Bite case?”
Sojin clears her throat meaningfully and Hyeri wrinkles up her nose. “I’ve got to go,” she sighs, and Jackson’s heart clenches. This is the closest he’s come to having answers in months, and now she’s slipping through his fingers. “I’ll give you my LINE ID.” She holds out a hand for his phone impatiently and types it in for him before handing it back. “Message me, okay? Promise?”
He nods and her group whirls her away and she wiggles her fingers over her shoulder in goodbye. Jackson’s left mostly kind of dazed, phone held loosely in his hand. “There you are,” Jaebum says. His leader smile is on a little too tightly. “Got her number, huh? Good for you.”
“Sort of,” Jackson says. He rubs absently at his scar. “It’s.” He shakes his head. “Never mind. I’ll explain it later.” Right now, he’s just feeling a little too wobbly to talk about werewolf idols and to deal with the odd play of emotions on Jaebum’s face.
“Okay,” Jaebum says after a moment. “Alright, come on. We’ve got a radio show to get to and Yugyeom’s practically falling asleep standing up.” He gestures towards where the rest of their group is waiting, but he doesn’t touch Jackson, and that, that feels pretty weird.
Messaging Hyeri was kind of a mistake. It’s cool that he’s got someone to talk to now about all this werewolf stuff, except she doesn’t really seem to want to talk about it? If he’s not busy, she is, and most of her messages consist of flurries of animated stickers that he’s got to decipher. He’s pretty sure that angry dog, dog with bow, and three thumbs up is a good sign.
He’s nodding off near the end of dance practice one night when his phone trills with a call. Jackson’s so startled he drops his water bottle on the floor, splashing water everywhere. Jaebum throws him a tired look and Jackson pulls a face, vaguely apologetic. “Busy?” Hyeri asks.
Jackson looks out at the room, at Jinyoung leaning up against a wall with Yugyeom’s head in his lap. They’re probably about done. “I guess not,” he says. He raises his eyebrows at Jaebum who shrugs, getting unsteadily to his feet and starting to herd everyone to the door. “I, uh, didn’t really expect a call from you. Who uses the phone anymore?”
“It’s a lot harder for a sasaeng to hack a phonecall,” Hyeri says cheerfully. “Duh. Such a rookie.” How she has this much energy at like, buttfuck o’clock at night, he’s got no idea. He grabs a towel and throws it over the puddle he made, sliding it around with a toe. “So. Tell me everything.”
Her tone is conspiratorial, gossipy, like he’s her high school bff with a new crush. It’s so...familiar. Like the moment she scented him, she adopted him. He rubs at one eye and yawns. “I’m not a rookie anymore,” he insists. “We debuted like two years ago. Come on.” His bite itches. Jaebum taps his elbow and gestures towards the door with his chin. “What did you want to know?”
“Have you shifted yet? When were you bitten?” He hears her shift around, making herself comfortable. “Does silver bug you? My sister can wear whatever she wants but every time I put on anything I get all itchy.”
It takes Jackson too long to gather up all of his stuff, trying to juggle his phone pressed to his ear as he throws his bag over his shoulder. “Uh, I don’t think so?” he says. Bambam blinks at him sleepily, face mask hanging off one ear. He points at the phone, mouths ‘Hyeri?’ and then flashes a big ole double thumbs up. Jackson flaps a hand at him. It’s so not like that. “And yeah, I’ve, uh, shifted a few times? It was kinda scary at first but now it’s mostly like having b-list superpowers.”
“B-list!” Hyeri sounds outraged. “The bite is a gift, you know.” He hears voices on the other line and whispered Korean, too fast for Jackson’s soggy brain to follow. He hears something about a ‘wolfboy’ which he finds a little bit offensive. “Sorry, unnie’s trying to sleep.”
“It doesn’t feel like a gift,” Jackson grumbles. Mark pushes him into the van ahead of him. “Mostly feels too hot. With the fur and stuff.” His eyes find the back of Jaebum’s head in the front seat, and well, maybe there are a few perks.
“Please,” Hyeri scoffs. “Don’t tell me the whole stamina and endurance thing doesn’t come in handy as an idol. Plus we heal faster, and can work for longer. How is that not super cool?” She clicks her tongue.
In the van, Jinyoung is leaning way too close to Jackson, trying to listen in. Grimacing, Jackson digs a finger into Jinyoung’s side and switches ears. Behind him, Bambam’s talking to Mark. “Does Jackson hyung count as an upgrade from Tony An, or a downgrade?”
“An upgrade?” Yugyeom says on Jinyoung’s other side, and Jackson reaches across to give him a high-five. He loves that kid.
“Hmm, downgrade,” Mark says. When Jackson whips around to glare at him, Mark raises his hand to rub his fingers together. “No money.”
It’s too awkward an angle, so the best that Jackson can manage is throwing his snapback at Mark’s head. “I am a total catch,” he hisses.
“Uh, what?” Hyeri asks.
“Nothing,” Jackson says hastily. “Nothing, it’s. My group is a whole bunch of dickbags.” She laughs, and that’s gratifying, definitely.
They make small talk during the rest of the ride home, because Jackson just can’t bring himself to talk about this kind of thing with all the guys breathing down his neck. Every time he looks at Bambam, all he does is wiggle his eyebrows suggestively.
He kicks Mark out of their room and throws himself down on his bed. “So, uh. This whole werewolf thing is for life, huh?”
Hyeri’s silent for a moment. “Well, yeah,” she says. “There isn’t a cure. It’s kind of a forever thing.”
Jackson wasn’t even expecting her to say anything different, but he still exhales in a gust, eyes sliding shut. “Shit,” he says, mostly to himself.
“Sorry,” Hyeri says. She doesn’t get it, though. She’s had a whole lifetime to get used to weird full moon nights and being able to smell someone’s socks from the other side of the room. This is all still so new and raw to him.
“No, it’s…” He shrugs, even though she can’t see it. “It’s whatever. I already debuted, what could be harder than that?”
“Exactly,” she says.
They’re both quiet for long enough that it’s awkward and uncomfortable, and Jackson can’t even remember the last time he was on the phone with a girl. Being an idol has ruined his dating life. “Alright,” Jackson says. “So am I always gonna have to get all wolf-y on the full moon, or is that something you can control?”
Hyeri launches into a complicated explanation of the way she learned to control her shifting when she was thirteen, complete with rambling tangents about her baby sister and some guy she had a crush on who was three years older than her. It’s kinda soothing to listen to her talk, partly because it’s nice to finally get some answers, and partly because it’s all weirdly normal. It turns out that the movies have most of it right. Full moon, howling, transmitted by bites, the whole nine yards.
A thought hits Jackson suddenly. “Wait, but like, if I start chewing on someone’s arm, am I gonna end up giving it to them?”
That stops Hyeri dead. “Why would you be chewing on someone?” she asks. “You’re not a pup, it’s not like you’re teething.”
Jackson doesn’t think about Jaebum. Definitely not. “Hypothetically speaking!”
“No,” Hyeri laughs. “Your hypothetical love bite will not turn someone into a werewolf.” She yawns. “You have to have intent. And break the skin. Please, please don’t tell me that you’re into like, blood and gross stuff.”
“I’m not!” Jackson says indignantly. “Isn’t that kind of personal to ask?”
Hyeri’s voice is matter of fact when she responds. “Well, you’re kind of pack now,” she says. “I mean there are traditions and ceremonies to follow, whatever, but you totally count. I even talked to my mom about it.”
“You told your mom I’m a werewolf?” This is definitely officially the weirdest conversation he’s ever had, but it’s also kinda cool. A couple of days ago, he didn’t even know anyone else who was dealing with this. Now he’s got a ‘pack’?
“We have to look out for our own,” Hyeri says, and Jackson makes a little noise, curling in on himself. This is kind of cool. He feels all warm and fuzzy. It’s nice to know that he’s got something to fall back on. “And it’s not like we want to let some stray run around Seoul on our turf! Bad for business.”
Jackson laughs out loud, rolling over on his back to stare at the ceiling. “Right,” he says. “Wouldn’t want that.”
There’s murmuring on the other end of the line, and Hyeri sighs. “I have to go, unnie says it’s time for bed,” she says. “But stay in touch, alright? If you need anything, let me know.”
She says with enough force that Jackson believes her, and something expands in his chest. “Yeah, will do,” he says. “Sleep well.”
She hangs up and the door creaks open, Mark’s head peeking into the room. “Is it safe?” he asks. “I’m tired and Jinyoung won’t leave me alone.” He pouts a little and then he squeaks, eyes wide. “Please,” he hisses.
Jackson snorts. “Quick, before his wandering hands get wandering-er,” he says, flapping a hand to invite Mark in.
They’re both settling into bed, lights off, when Jackson speaks. “She’s one too,” he says. “A werewolf, I mean.” It’s still kind of astonishing to him, that he’d find someone else backstage on a music show. Caught her scent. Man, this werewolf thing is so weird.
“Whoa.” Mark sounds sleepy, but when Jackson pops his head over the edge of his bed, Mark blinks up at him. “So like, are you gonna run off to join the wolves or whatever?”
Jackson throws a pillow down at him. “No,” he says indignantly. “GOT7 is a family, remember?”
He kind of hates that Mark has the coordination to toss the pillow back. “Good,” Mark says, and he grins. “‘Cause even if you get all wolfed out, I like having you around.”
“You better,” Jackson says, clutching his pillow to his chest. It’s not like he doubted it, but. Well, it’s nice to hear it.
Jackson pulls at his shirt again, and he frowns. “Jackson Wang,” Jinyoung calls from the kitchen, looking smug. “You’re not nervous, are you?”
“Of course not,” Jackson says, like he hasn’t been flicking his phone case open and shut for the past few minutes straight. “I’m great. They’ll love me. Why would I be nervous?”
He’s kinda terrified. He’s done a few solo schedules, sure, but he’s never been the only guest on a radio show before. He’s gonna have to be funny and entertaining and fill the air and he’s got a lot of confidence in his ability to bullshit, but that’s a lot of talking to do. He straightens his snapback again and wonders if he should change. This shirt is too tight, he feels like he’s being strangled.
“He’ll do fine,” Jaebum says firmly, holding out a hand for the mug of coffee in Jinyoung’s hand. Jinyoung purses his lips and hands it over. “Maybe you should focus on your own schedule.” He raises his eyebrows and Jinyoung groans, throwing up his hands and trailing out of the room.
When he’s gone, Jaebum turns to Jackson and he looks suspiciously like he’s readying a peptalk, so Jackson slides past him, pulling his snapback off. “I’m gonna change,” he decides, already stripping his shirt off as he heads into his room.
The problem with changing is that he, uh, doesn’t really have clean clothes right now. He’s got a handful of fan gifts he hasn’t gone through yet, but he wants something comfortable, familiar. He’s digging through the mess in his closet when his hands fall on a hoodie that is definitely not his. He recognizes Jaebum’s scent immediately and then he’s pulling it on almost without thinking. It’s well-worn, the wrists fraying and the collar stretched almost entirely shapeless with age, and their manager is gonna kill him for putting on something old, even if it’s just for a radio show. It feels right, though. And it smells right, which is a little embarrassing, but Jackson is just going to have to acknowledge that there’s something about Jaebum that makes his presence and scent calm his nerves.
When he comes out again, Jaebum pauses, mug halfway to his mouth. “That’s mine,” he says, not quite curiously.
“Yes, it is,” Jackson tells him. He runs a hand through his hair and then he slides on his snapback again. “Better learn to share, leader.” He stares Jaebum down, daring him to say something.
Jaebum doesn’t. He just smiles a little, raising a shoulder. “Whatever,” he says, “it’s not like you listen when I say no, anyway.” He pushes Jackson towards the door with one warm hand against the small of his back. “Better get going, or you’ll be late.”
Their manager waits at the door with Jinyoung, looking pointedly at his phone and distinctly not pleased. Jackson jumps into whatever shoes are closest, making his apologies, and completely ignores the way that Jinyoung wiggles his eyebrows at him as they head out the door. “So,” Jinyoung whispers, slinging an arm around Jackson’s shoulders. “About this whole wolf thing.”
Jackson elbows Jinyoung in the side, eyes fixed on their manager’s back, but he doesn’t turn around. “Shut your big mouth,” Jackson mutters.
“Does this mean you’re gonna be like, peeing on things to mark your territory?” Jinyoung continues, dodging Jackson’s second swing. “Should we be worried about Jaebum hyung’s shoes? Are you gonna start humping his leg?”
“I’m going to murder you,” Jackson says pleasantly, clenching his hands futilely at his sides. “Like, to death. Really painfully, too.”
“You’ll have to catch me first,” Jinyoung says, and then he darts forward, dashing past their manager towards their van. “Too slow, Wang!” He turns, batting his eyelashes and blowing a kiss, and Jackson lunges after him. He’s going to kill him.
Their manager rubs his forehead and sighs.
It’s a bad day. Jackson can tell it’s a bad day, because Jaebum is even being brittle around Yugyeom, who is basically a beacon of all that is bright and sweet and good in this world. They’ve spent all day on rehearsals, a new set of choreo for a special stage they’re doing in less than a week, and they’re all tired out. “Yugyeom,” Jaebum says, his voice all sharp angles. Yugyeom flinches like he’s about to get hit. “Please clean up your mess now, so that the rest of us can leave and get some sleep.”
The mess he’s talking about is a half empty water bottle and his sweater, tossed neatly into one corner. “Sorry, hyung,” Yugyeom mumbles, shoulders drooping, eyes fixed on the floor.
Their manager herds them out the door, and Jackson watches Jaebum shrug off Jinyoung’s hand, face tight. Jackson doesn’t know a ton about Jaebum’s family, but he does know that he’d gotten a phone call this morning, one that had made his face shutter down and made him mostly silent all day, only speaking to keep them all in line. Something’s up.
At the van, Youngjae stumbles, nearly taking a header into his seat, and Jackson catches Jaebum’s sharp inhale before he speaks. “Hey,” he says. “Hyung.” Jaebum’s eyes snap up. “Maybe you oughta try to catch some sleep in the front seat, huh?”
Jaebum doesn’t like the suggestion. He narrows his eyes and purses his lips but at least he doesn’t go after Youngjae, too. He sighs and turns, climbing into the front. Youngjae gives Jackson an awkward little bob of his chin before he clambers into the back and curls up next to Yugyeom.
Jackson tries again when they get home, but Jaebum’s good at being cold, hard, and Jackson’s always been completely shitty with feelings and stuff. Even Jinyoung is only circling around, looking apprehensive but saying nothing. “Listen,” Jackson says, but Jaebum cuts him off with a quick shake of his head.
“Go to bed,” Jaebum says. Jackson doesn’t move and Jaebum rubs at his eyes, expression softening. “You worked hard today.”
“So did everyone else,” Jackson points out, and at least Jaebum’s got the good grace to look embarrassed.
Jackson’s never been any good at following orders, though. Jaebum heads off to take his turn at the shower, last tonight, and Jackson hunts down Youngjae. He finds him nodding off next to Yugyeom, his head on his shoulder. “Let’s swap beds tonight,” Jackson says.
“What?” Youngjae asks. He scratches a hand through his shower-damp hair and yawns. “It’s not. It’s not the full moon again yet, is it?”
This is embarrassing. At least Mark and Jinyoung aren’t around to watch this happen. “I know,” Jackson says, doing his best to fight off a flush. “But like, let’s just do it. Okay? You get the bed tonight. How great is that, right?”
Thankfully, Youngjae is too sleepy to really put up much of a fight. “O...kay?” It takes him a few seconds to lever himself up off the couch but Yugyeom helps, steadies him before he nods off on his feet. Jaebum really worked them hard tonight.
Jackson claps a hand on Youngjae’s shoulder. “Sleep well tonight, buddy,” he says. As Youngjae toddles off to Jackson and Mark’s room, Yugyeom looks up at Jackson, head tipped in question. “Don’t worry about it,” Jackson says. He really doesn’t feel like explaining himself right now.
Even Jaebum doesn’t waste time in a cold shower, so Jackson doesn’t waste any either. He strips out of his clothes quickly and drops down to his hands and knees. A full shift is different than what he’s done before, outside of the full moon. He has to screw his eyes shut and focus, to force the wolf out from under his skin. There’s something really satisfying about how quickly he can make his teeth sharpen now. His bones shift noisily, crunching around until finally, they settle, and he can take a breath.
Just in time, too. Jackson is circling around on Youngjae and Jaebum’s bedding, readying to lie down, when the door opens. Jaebum pauses in the doorway. “Jackson…”
Jackson huffs, flopping down, and tucks his nose under his tail. He’s just a guy trying to catch some sleep, right?
Jaebum doesn’t make much noise as he moves around the room, getting ready for sleep, and Jackson’s tired enough that by the time that Jaebum drops down next to him, he’s already dozing too. “Move over, you big mutt,” Jaebum says, but he doesn’t make any attempt to shift him.
Instead, when Jackson raises his head, Jaebum buries his face in the fur of Jackson’s ruff. He doesn’t say anything, but he’s starting to shake, and he must’ve been holding it in all day. It’s a good thing that Jackson can’t speak right now, because it means he’s got an excuse for not asking Jaebum if he wants to talk about it, or whatever. Instead, he noses at Jaebum’s neck, settling his chin on Jaebum’s shoulder.
He’s pretty exhausted, but Jackson stays like that, no complaining, until Jaebum’s breathing evens and he can feel the tension leak out of his body. By the time that Jaebum shifts away to lie down, the only light in the room is coming from the small, high window and his phone. Jackson shuffles over next to him, rests his head on his paws right next to Jaebum’s face, and he’s pleased to see that while he looks tired, he doesn’t look nearly so drawn.
Jaebum doesn’t say anything to him after that, but he does scratch Jackson under the chin before he rolls over and makes himself as small as he can. Jackson looks at Jaebum’s shoulders for a long time, and tries to focus on what he’s done tonight, and not on how he had to shift to do it.
The week before the next full moon, Jackson’s phone goes off non-stop, Hyeri messaging him nearly every free minute. She’s invited him to the pack night, but he’s got an early flight the next morning, and there is no way their manager will let him go anywhere. He doesn’t, ah, have the best track record with these things. Instead, he runs into her again backstage at Inkigayo, three days before the full moon. He gets an ominous text, asking him what he’s wearing, and while he’s staring down at his phone, trying to formulate a response that’s like, appropriately flirty but in a friendly way, and all of a sudden she’s there. “Go,” she hisses, pushing him back into his dressing room just as her manager turns to look in their direction. “Ugh, I’ve only got a few minutes.”
He can see it in her, the pull of the moon. Her eyes are brighter, and she’s almost glowing. He wonders if he looks the same. “I got your messages,” he says. “All five bajillion of them.” The rest of the group is watching them, as subtly as they can manage, so not at all. Bambam flashes him an enormous double thumbs up and wiggles his eyebrows. Jackson scowls at him. This is super not the time.
She rolls her eyes. “Are you sure you can’t make it? If we’re gonna do the whole pack shebang, Mom definitely wants to get to know you. Protocol and stuff.” Her eyes flick to the rest of the group. Jinyoung is watching them over the top of his phone. “So are they like, cool with all of this?”
“Yeah, it’s fine,” Jackson says dismissively. “We’ve got a tour starting and I’m pretty sure my manager won’t take ‘running with the wolves’ as a good enough reason to go out tonight.”
“Ugh.” Hyeri wrinkles up her nose. “Whatever. Next time, alright?” Her eyes widen suddenly and she leans in, sniffing. Does he smell? “Oh my gosh, congrats!” She shoves him a little, eyes all sparkly and delighted. “I had no idea! Why didn’t you tell me?”
Jackson frowns, eyebrows furrowed, and tips his head to sniff at his shoulder. He doesn’t think he smells any different. “Tell you what?” he asks slowly, his gut rolling uneasily. He’s almost afraid of what her answer will be.
“That you imprinted,” Hyeri says, like it’s obvious. “You and Jaebum, right?” Jackson goes cold, and he shushes her immediately. How did she know about that? Is he that obvious? “What?” she says.
There’s no way he’s going to have this conversation in here. “Let’s -” he nudges her towards the door and they head outside again. “What are you talking about?”
“You imprinted, right? Congrats.” She grins and punches him in the arm. “You guys totally stink of each other, it’s so cute.”
Jackson’s entire mouth just dries up, words caught in his throat. He’s got no idea what she’s talking about, but it definitely does not sound good. “Uh, what. What does ‘imprinted’ mean?” he asks slowly.
The way that Hyeri’s pleasure slowly fades to horror just makes Jackson feel even worse. “What do you mean what does it mean?” she asks. “Oh my God.” Her mouth works and finally she just snaps it shut and stares at him.
“You’re freaking me out.” Jackson scowls.
“It’s mutual!” she says. She presses a hand to her forehead. “Ugh, no wonder mom is always talking about how much work bite cases are.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I suck,” he says, waving a hand in the air. He’s trying to keep his breathing even, because he’s got his suspicions, and he’s starting to get really scared. “Can you explain to me exactly what’s going on?”
Hyeri hesitates, and Jackson sucks in a breath, bracing himself for impact. “Imprinting is when you choose the one person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with,” she says, and she touches his elbow gingerly, like she’s afraid he’s gonna break. He just might. “It’s, um, kind of a forever thing.” He swallows hard. “You can’t take it back,” she says.
“Ohhhhhh shit,” Jackson says in English, too loudly, sagging against the wall. “Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.” He can’t touch his hair, because it’s already carefully styled, and he can’t rub his eyes, because of the makeup, so he settles for pulling at his collar instead. “Fuck.”
“Please don’t feel bad,” Hyeri implores, her hands fluttering uselessly in front of her. “It’s kind of one of those fate things? Like, it’s inevitable. If he’s the one for you, once you turned, you wouldn’t really have stood a chance against it.” She hesitates. “Trust me on this one.”
Fate or not, this sucks so much. “This sucks so much,” Jackson says. “I have to go on stage with him in like, twenty minutes. How am I supposed to look sexy when I just found out he’s my ...werewolf soulmate?” He feels like he’s either gonna throw up or shit out his heart or do something else equally uncomfortable and gross.
Laughter bubbles up out of Hyeri, but she smothers it quickly with a hand. “Sorry, not funny,” she says.
“No!” he agrees, nearly shouting. “No, it’s not.” He gives in and presses his hands to his face. “I haven’t even told him yet,” he says miserably. “And now, like…”
Hyeri’s manager appears at the end of the hall, and he doesn’t look pleased. She grimaces. “Okay, listen,” she says, and she squeezes his wrist to emphasize her point. “Jackson, you smell like him, but he smells like you, too.” She raises her eyebrows at him before spinning to face her manager, already making excuses.
She leaves him there, in the hall, and even if she sends him a whole bunch of ‘hwaiting!!!’ stickers, he still feels a little bit like he’s been hit over the head. He’d been perfectly happy when he could pretend he didn’t know, and that no one else knew either. This whole werewolf thing is fucking absolutely everything up, and he hates it.
He sits down on the floor, ignoring the creases that’ll probably turn up in his pants. He’s just not really sure he knows how to go back into the room and face Jaebum right now.
He doesn’t know how long he’s there before the door bangs open. “Oh, hey,” Mark says, and his grin fades a little. “Whoa. You okay?”
The answer is a pretty resounding no, but also the thought of talking about his feelings kinda makes Jackson even more nauseous, so he just shrugs and stands. “Yeah, it’s cool,” he says, offering Mark a smile. Mark isn’t buying it, so he follows it up with a shove of the shoulder. “Just needed a breather, you know?”
Mark eyes him. Jackson never needs a breather. He likes to stick himself right in the middle of everything, right where he’s most likely to get everyone’s attention. “Yeah, sure,” Mark says, but the way that he narrows his eyes makes Jackson think that he’s just being patient. He’s gonna wait Jackson out. Hurray.
“Aren’t we on in a few?” Jackson says. “What are you waiting for? Let’s go.”
When he heads back into the room, Jaebum is silent, and he doesn’t ask. Jackson can’t figure out if he’s relieved.
It takes Mark nearly a week to crack. They’re in Japan by then, and three concerts down, and Jaebum is still eyeing Jackson funny every time he picks up his phone. After their third show, Mark corners him in their room in their Japanese dorm. “Okay, so like.” Mark’s freshly scrubbed after his shower, newly pale hair fluffy and hanging in his eyes. “What...is up with you?” He frowns. “You look like someone kicked your dog but like, to death.”
Jackson would laugh, except Mark looks deadly earnest about it. “I don’t have a dog,” Jackson says, “so I guess I’m fine.”
The problem with having been friends with Mark for years is that he doesn’t fall for any of Jackson’s tricks anymore. It takes more than a slick smile for Mark to let something slide, and he doesn’t this time. “Come on,” Mark says.
Jackson doesn’t want to talk about this. Jackson doesn’t even want to think about this. He’s spent the entire week doing his best to erase it all from his head, so he can go back to pretending that he’s not in over his head. “Nothing to talk about,” Jackson says stubbornly. “I am a-okay. Issue free. Except for like, Jinyoung’s smelly feet.” He points a finger at Mark. “I think we should stage an intervention.”
“Dude.” Jackson has always been kind of impressed with Mark’s ability to imbue a few syllables with like, an entire sentence worth’s of meaning. In this case, it’s about four degrees of exasperation and three of irritation.
“Duuuuuuuuude,” Jackson replies with a shit-eating grin.
Mark doesn’t say anything, just narrows his eyes and closes the door behind him, so they spend the next few minutes in silence, staring each other down. Finally, Mark wrinkles up his nose. “Fine,” he says. “You’ve got until the count of five before I go tell Jaebum about the time you got drunk and spent an hour talking about how pretty his dick must be.”
Jackson nearly takes a header off his bunk. “You fuckin’ wouldn’t,” he hisses.
Mark’s smile is beatific. He holds up a hand, fingers spread. “One.”
It only takes Jackson until ‘two’ to launch himself off his bunk and tackle Mark to the floor. There are definite perks to the whole werewolf thing, and speed is one of them. “Alright, alright,” Jackson says, using his weight to pin Mark to the floor. “Shit, you don’t play fair.”
There’s not a lot of room for Mark to breathe, much less speak, but his grin is somewhat triumphant. “No,” he agrees.
Jackson eases off, but only enough for Mark to catch a breath, not escape. There is no way he’s giving him a chance to run. “You’re really shitty at this whole best friend,” Jackson tells him. “Like, you’re supposed to be supportive and nice and stuff.”
“Best friends don’t let best friends act dumb,” Mark says, wrestling his way out from under Jackson with a well-placed elbow to the solar plexus. “It’s my duty.”
“I hate you,” Jackson says, and Mark hums, looking at him expectantly. Clearly, he’s not going to be misdirected, which is a pain in the ass. Jackson sighs. “Listen, it’s not that big a deal.”
“Sure,” Mark says, and he doesn’t move.
Jackson really doesn’t wanna say it. It’s embarrassing enough on its own, and that’s without anyone else knowing. “It’s stupid,” he says.
Mark’s grin gets really wide. “Dude, it’s all stupid.” His yelp when Jackson slugs him is super satisfying.
“Shut up,” Jackson tells him. “You wanted to know, now listen!” Obligingly, Mark settles down and blinks up at Jackson, waiting. “It’s...okay. So, you know the whole, uh, thing. With Jaebum.”
“The thing where you’ve been jonesing for his ass for like, your entire life?” It’s like Mark just blossoms under the light of Jackson’s scowl. “I mean sorry, go on.”
As a further precaution, Jackson plants a hand over Mark’s mouth. “Okay,” he says. “Well, uh, it turns out that I imprinted on him.” Mark raises his eyebrows and shoulders at the same time, and Jackson assumes he’s asking what that means. “It’s like, a werewolf thing where I pretty much picked him as my one true love or whatever for the rest of my life.”
He’s half expecting Mark to laugh, but his eyes just get really, really wide. He pries off Jackson’s hand. “That’s intense,” he says softly.
“Right?!” Jackson groans and drags a hand through his hair, throwing himself backwards. “It’s fucking unreal. I didn’t even know that was a thing that came with the whole howling at the full moon package.” The more that he thinks about it, the more his stomach turns with anxiety. He’s not old enough to be choosing forevers. This shit is scary.
Mark’s quiet for a moment. “So,” he says. “Are you really, like, in love with him?” It’s a question, but he looks like he already knows the answer.
He does. “Well, I must be,” Jackson says a little miserably. The word feels too big and too small all at the same time, but maybe if Mark says it, not him, it doesn’t count. “This, this is.” He covers his face with his hands. “Ugh.”
“Yeah,” Mark agrees. “Pretty much.” He flops down on the floor next to him. “What are you gonna do, though?”
“Absolutely nothing,” Jackson says immediately. “How the fuck would I even begin to explain that to Jaebum? He doesn’t even know I like him, much less…”
“Much less that you’ve chosen him to be your…” Mark screws up his face. “...mate?”
Jackson rolls over to muffle his screams in his arms. “Never say that again,” he says. It makes him sound like, well, an animal. He doesn’t like it.
Mark pats his shoulder and peers down at him. “That’s pretty rough,” he says, and after a moment, he adds: “I uh, won’t tell Jaebum. About the thing with his dick.”
“Gee, thanks,” Jackson says, but Mark knows sincere gratitude even when it’s kinda cloaked behind being an asshole, and he flashes Jackson a thumbs up.
They start to get ready for bed, but Jackson doesn’t really feel all that lighter for having shared his secret. He mostly feels like it’s crystallized it, made it real. How can he pretend when other people know, right?
They’ve got filming for a CF first thing tomorrow, but it still takes Jackson forever to fall asleep. His avoidance tactics are getting harder and harder to use these days. He wishes he never saw that dog at all.
“Who’s the best-looking member?” Jaebum smiles for the camera, slick and pretty, and he slings an arm around Jackson’s shoulders. “Ah, I think that has to be our Jackson.”
The rest of the group make noises of agreement, and Bambam says “wild and sexy! Wild and sexy!” Normally, Jackson would be all about this, but mostly he just feels weighed down by Jaebum’s arm, and his praise. He just feels over-sensitive to Jaebum’s presence, like everything is too much, even if none of it is new.
He takes too long to reply, to plaster on a grin and spread his hands. “Of course,” he says, ignoring the flicker of concern in Jaebum’s eyes. “As it should be.” If he wasn’t on camera, he’d shrug off Jaebum’s touch and shrink away. It’s all too much right now.
Jaebum gets the hint, though, and his arm slides away. The backstage interview moves on, and soon enough, they’re pushing Yugyeom for a girl dance demonstration. For once, Jackson’s glad to have the attention shift off of him. Since talking to Mark, Jackson has done his absolute best to avoid going anywhere near Jaebum. He’s not any good at being subtle, he never has been, and it’s just hard to be close to Jaebum right now. It seems like every day, he just smells better and all Jackson wants to do is lean in and bury his face in his neck and that is probably not a good idea. He’s not dumb, he knows that outside of that one day a month, he’s not allowed anything like that.
The interview ends, and Jackson can’t get away from Jaebum fast enough. Mark is a pretty convenient barrier when he needs to be, and he tolerates Jackson draping himself bodily over his shoulders while he taps away at his phone. “You know,” Mark says, “you can’t avoid him forever.”
“Watch me,” Jackson says, face tucked into Mark’s shoulder. He doesn’t smell right, but he does smell like Jackson’s, so it’s kinda close enough. He gets this itch under his skin when he’s around Jaebum, like he’s being pulled in two directions at once. He wants to get closer and he shies away at the same time. Mark is different, though. Mark won’t ever go anywhere. Also he doesn’t want to suck Mark’s dick. Gross.
He glances up across the room, and Jaebum is nudging Youngjae towards the stylist, his eyes fixed on Jackson. His brows are furrowed, like Jackson is a puzzle he hasn’t yet figured out, which is kinda weird. Jackson doesn’t really think of himself as complicated. He looks away, cheeks warming, and focuses instead on reaching over Mark’s shoulder to swipe at his phone with a finger and fuck up his game.
“Dick,” Mark says, without heat. He slaps Jackson’s hand away. “He’s gonna notice, you know.”
Jackson can’t decide if he thinks that’s a good thing or not. “So?” he says. He risks another glance, and this time Jaebum is looking away and Jackson knows that the way his mouth turns down at the corners is all his fault. His stomach shifts unsteadily. “Whatever,” he says. “He just...I don’t know. I feel funny.”
Mark twists as best he can to look Jackson in the face. “Use your words, you big baby,” he says. He pokes Jackson with an elbow. “You’re gonna have to deal with it eventually.”
“No, I won’t,” Jackson says stubbornly. “I’m never gonna deal with it. Ever.” That seems like the wisest course of action right now. And for the entire rest of his life. Then he never has to risk anything and he can always keep Jaebum around.
“You’re an idiot,” Mark says, part fondness and part irritation, but at least he’s not talking about it anymore. They’ve got a few minutes before they get to go to dress rehearsals, and Jackson would rather not spend it thinking about how he can smell Jaebum even from here. That just seems unfair. He catches a glimpse of the tight twist of Jaebum’s mouth and pretends it doesn’t make him feel guilty.
It’s nice to be back in Korea again. No roaming charges, his room smells like home. Jackson had swapped with Youngjae on the flight home so that he wouldn’t have to sit next to Jaebum, which he kinda regretted, just a little bit. Jaebum can be boring, but he never objects when Jackson falls asleep on his shoulder.
That doesn’t mean that things are any better, though. Mark was right, Jaebum has noticed, and it sucks. It was bad enough when Jackson had to avoid him for his own protection, but now Jaebum’s dodging him too. It’s not like they’ve never fought before, but Jackson doesn’t remember the last time Jaebum was so chilly towards him. He chooses Jinyoung for everything, for quests on Real GOT7, for rooming, and the only time he touches Jackson is in interviews. Jackson feels horrible.
They’ve got a special track coming out for their six hundred day anniversary. Jackson doesn’t really get a ton of lines, which means that he’s whiling away time in the studio while he listens to Youngjae go over his part, again and again. He’s not alone, though. Bambam and Yugyeom have gone to grab some snacks, so Jackson has parked himself on the couch with Mark, the two of them squabbling over a game on his phone. “Jinyoung,” Jaebum says, looking up from his Japanese studies, and Jackson hates himself a little bit for the way that he immediately snaps to attention, tracking Jaebum’s movements. “Hand me that water?”
“Hmm,” Jinyoung says. He’s spinning in his chair, tapping his fingers against his lips thoughtfully. “What will you give me for it?”
Jaebum rubs his fingers across his eyes, and Jackson wonders how long it’s been since he had a good night’s sleep. “It’s just a bottle of water,” Jaebum says, amused, and he flaps a hand at Jinyoung. “Please?”
Instead of handing it over, Jinyoung snatches it away. “I’ll trade it for a kiss,” he says, grin wide and teasing as he taps a finger against his cheek. His eyes dart to Jackson and Mark for a moment and then back again. “Come on, leader.”
Jaebum rolls his eyes, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get up and lean over Jinyoung, pressing his lips to Jinyoung’s cheek in the briefest peck as he snatches the bottle away. At once, a growl echoes through the little room, sharp and possessive, and it’s only when everyone turns to look at Jackson that he realizes that it’s him. He claps a hand over his mouth.
“Did you just growl?” Jinyoung asks, astonished.
“Uh,” Jackson says. He tries on a smile. “I mean, maybe? Probably, uh, some werewolf stuff. Getting close to the new moon.” Jaebum is staring at him and it makes Jackson want to squirm.
“Dude, when you said you’d imprinted on him, I didn’t know you were gonna go all feral on Jinyoung for touching your man.” The second it leaves his lips, Mark’s eyes get wide. “Oh no, oh shit, Jackson, man, I’m so fucking sorry.” Jackson would be pissed off, except Mark looks absolutely stricken and he’s too busy feeling terrified to the point of being numb.
Jaebum is frozen, half-standing with the bottle clutched in his hands, still staring at Jackson. “Imprinted?” he asks slowly, and then, more hesitantly, “‘Your man’?”
Jackson makes a strangled, garbled noise that’s probably somewhere in vicinity of a laugh, struggling to breathe. This is the last thing he wanted, and the absolute worst thing that could’ve happened. “I’m, I’m gonna…” He bolts, tearing out of the studio and away.
He has a vague idea of finding the maknaes, but instead, he finds himself in a bathroom stall two floors down, his face buried in his hands. He can’t stop thinking about the horror on Jaebum’s face and the realization that now, he’s going to work with him, even though Jaebum can’t stand him. He’s going to be tied to him for the rest of his life. Jackson ignores the buzz of his phone in his pocket and tries not to throw up.
He gets exactly four hours of peace, spent strategically dodging Jaebum so he doesn’t have to talk about it, before they get home. Jackson’s planning on hiding in his room, even if it means he can’t shower. It’s probably (definitely) not the most adult way to handle things, but also the idea of having to explain this embarrassing situation makes him feel nauseated and terrified, so he’s decided that he’s never, ever gonna do it.
That plan lasts until Jaebum walks into the room, expression unreadable. He’s freshly showered, his hair damp and messy, skin clean and pale. He looks over at Mark, but Mark is already moving, scrambling off his bunk and ducking out the door. Jackson watches him go. Traitor. “I was just going to bed,” Jackson says loudly, avoiding Jaebum’s eye, He turns his back to Jaebum and throws his blanket dramatically over his head. “Long day. Very tired. Good night!”
Unluckily for him, he doesn’t hear Jaebum move an inch. “Jackson.” It’s weird to hear Jaebum sound unsteady. “You can’t hide from me.”
“Yes, I can,” Jackson says. “You can’t see me, right? Hidden.”
“Alright, sure.” There’s a little shift, and Jackson gets a brief moment of hope, only to have it dashed when Jackson sits down on Mark’s bed instead. Damnit. “I think we should talk about this,” Jaebum says.
Jackson considers snoring for a moment, but he’s pretty sure that Jaebum won’t be dissuaded. “We don’t have to talk about anything,” he says instead. “Things are way easier if we pretend nothing happened at all, you know.” It’s getting kinda overheated underneath his blanket, but it feels safer, so Jackson would rather stay and sweat.
“I want to know,” Jaebum says, and there’s a tiny little part of Jackson that’s hoping it’s for a good reason, and not because Jaebum is leader and wants to know so he can protect the group. So he can evaluate the damage and act accordingly. Jackson stares at the faded print of his sheet and tries to steady his heartbeat.
“It’s not important, leader, I promise,” he says. “I won’t get us into any trouble. It doesn’t matter.”
There’s a long pause, and Jaebum laughs a little. “You growled at Jinyoung,” he says, and Jackson scrunches his eyes closed. “Your friend. You guys have always gotten along. What’s going on?”
He can’t do it. Jackson can’t say the words out loud. “Guess I just, like, let out the beast a little.”
“Jackson.” Jaebum says his name and Jackson hates the stutter it sets off in his chest. “Is it some werewolf thing? Like.” He hesitates, and Jackson tries to swallow back the dread. “Do you have feelings for me? Is that what this is?”
It sounds so impersonal this way. ‘Have feelings’, like it’s not love, like Jaebum isn’t the only person he’ll ever love, now. When Jackson chuckles, it’s dry and humourless. “Yeah, I guess you could call it that,” he says crisply. He really, really needs tonight to be over already.
Jaebum is silent for so long that Jackson half wonders if he’d managed to slip away while Jackson was thinking. “Oh,” Jaebum says.
It’s not like he was expecting anything more, but it still feels like Jaebum’s punched a hole in his chest. “See?” Jackson says. His voice betrays him with a wobble. “Like I said. Doesn’t matter.”
Jaebum doesn’t say anything else, and that only makes it worse, makes the hole in Jackson’s chest fester and ache. Jackson hears him get up off Mark’s bunk and pause for a minute, and he wonders if Jaebum’s looking at him. It doesn’t matter, though, because after a moment, he slips out the door, and Jackson’s alone.
He stares at the wall for a while, until the door opens again and he scents Mark, freshly cleaned, but still distinctive. “So,” Mark says.
Jackson’s voice has died in his throat. He doesn’t have the energy to play it off as okay, not right now. He should at least get the chance to sleep before he has to pretend again.
“Jackson?” Mark’s voice is closer now, but he’s not expecting it when he hears him climb up the ladder, worming his way onto the mattress next to Jackson.
“You don’t fit, jackass,” Jackson grumbles, voice rough, but Mark’s unfazed.
“Move your fat ass,” Mark says. The tiny twin cot barely fits Jackson on a good day, and here Mark is, making room for himself by pretty much shoving Jackson into the wall. He only settles down when Jackson is squashed and too hot, Mark’s arm heavy across his waist. It’s not nearly as nice as Jaebum, but there’s something comforting about having the warmth and smell of someone familiar.
Mark pulls the blanket up over them and sighs, body relaxing. “I can’t breathe,” Jackson tells him.
“Okay,” Mark says sleepily, and he tightens his arm. It helps, if only a little.
It’s harder this month to dodge Hyeri with excuses, but there is absolutely no way that Jackson is going to do the whole big pack initiation thing when he feels this terrible. He’s not even sure what it involves, because every time he asks about it, all that she says is how long and boring they are. He wonders if there are like weird blood sacrifices and howling at the moon. He doesn’t feel too ready to embrace his feral side right now.
“Jackson-ah,” Hyeri says sweetly, and Jackson grimaces, pushing sweat-drenched bangs out of his eyes. “I know I said you were practically pack but you do have to follow protocols at some point, you know. There are rules.”
On the other side of the room, Jaebum is pulling his damp shirt away from his chest and laughing at something Jinyoung says, and when Jackson swallows, his heart aches. “I know,” he says. “But like...this is all new for me, alright? Just give me another month before you throw me into the deep end.”
He catches the way that Jaebum’s eyes narrow when he sees him on the phone. “Ugh, fine,” Hyeri says. “Don’t be boring, Jackson. You’ve got no idea how fun it is to run on the full moon.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” Jackson says. He’s not looking forward to tonight’s moon, that’s for sure. It’s not like Jaebum has even spoken to him much outside of his normal leader things, telling him to adjust his posture, to check his positioning, to remember to smile for the camera. That last one hadn’t always been such a problem for him, and now, all of a sudden, Jackson’s gotta remember to turn it on. Imagine that.
“Next month, alright? I’m gonna hold you to it.” When she hangs up, Jackson sighs, propping his elbows up on his knees and lets his eyes slide shut. This whole werewolf thing is ruining everything, already. He can feel the itch under his skin already, and there’s only ever been one thing that helps. Too bad this month, Jackson’s on his own.
“Jackson.” His chin jerks up without his volition, another uncomfortable reminder of the whole wolf deal. He’s not expecting the softness in Jaebum’s expression. “Just a few more times, and then we’ll go home. Alright?”
It seems a little unfair that Jaebum’s gonna be nice now, after all of that. “Yeah, okay,” he says, tossing his phone with his hoodie. At least, if he’s tired enough after this, he won’t have to worry about tonight. He’ll just go to sleep. He takes his place in the line and won’t meet Jaebum’s eye in the mirror.
It’s not too late when they get home, so Jackson has time to beg Mark to give him the room for the night. It’s not that he doesn’t want Mark around, it’s just that...well, he doesn’t want anyone around right now. He skips his nightly shower in favour of dragging his blankets down off his bed so he can create a sort of nest on the floor, away from Mark’s dirty socks.
It’s the worst shift yet. It seems to take forever, each of his bones cracking into place with agonizing slowness until finally, he can curl up in his blankets and try to get some sleep.
It’s worse than the first time, it’s worse than Japan. He just feels so unsettled and out of place, shifting uneasily against the mess of blankets on the floor. He can smell everything in the room, including Mark’s dirty laundry and whatever overpriced cologne the fans have sent him this time, and unfortunately, the trace of Jaebum still sticking to the hoodie Jackson had borrowed. He whines a little in the back of his throat and tucks his nose under his tail, feeling sorry for himself. It’s not hard to hear the noise of the rest of his group still moving around, Youngjae’s braying laughter matched with Yugyeom’s, but he hates the way he seeks out Jaebum’s voice. Like it matters now.
It takes hours before he drifts off, having squirmed halfway underneath his blanket, but he’s startled awake as soon as the door opens, hope flaring into life in his chest. That dies the minute Mark steps into the room, his scent clear in Jackson’s nose. “Sorry,” he whispers. “I just had to grab my pillow.” Jackson feels like an idiot. He huffs, turning around so his back is towards Mark, but he still gets a quick stroke down his spine before Mark slips out the door.
He should be grateful for what he has. He’s a werewolf now, and he’s lucky enough to have friends who are sticking with him and helping him make it work. It’s stupid to get worked up over something like this. It’s not like he asked Jaebum before the whole imprinting process.
Except, it’s not like he got asked, either, and now he’s pretty much got confirmation that he’ll never be able to have another real relationship in his entire life, so that’s fun. He drops his chin to his paws and stares at the wall. It’s probably good that he’s a wolf right now, because then he can’t do anything embarrassing, like cry.
He wishes that Jaebum were here.
“You look like a kicked puppy,” Jinyoung whispers, poking Jackson in the side and Bambam nods, laughing a little. They’re filming some variety show today, but Jackson hasn’t been able to muster up his usual enthusiasm for this kind of thing. He didn’t sleep well, he hasn’t slept well in weeks, and now he’s just finding it so hard to pretend like everything’s fine. Like, being around Jaebum isn’t kinda like walking on glass. “Don’t look so glum, chum.”
Jackson wedges his fingertips into the corners of his mouth and props his smile up. “Better?” he asks. Bambam recoils.
“Uh,” Jinyoung says. “Something like that.” He frowns a little, though, and Jackson knows he’s being weird. It’s hard not to get to know someone when you live and work with them, spend every waking minute with them, and Jinyoung’s one of his closest friends. Of course he knows that something’s up.
The camera swings back their way and Jackson shakes his head minutely, dropping his hands and plastering on his best idol smile. Now is definitely not the time to get into this, no way.
Instead, now is the time for them to be goofy and charming and pretend like they’re buying into this stupid We Got Married thing. Up at the front of the room, Suzy is raising her glass and smiling prettily at whatever actor they got to play her husband, and all Jackson can think about is getting out of here and out of this stupid suit. He wishes they had practice, because even if Jaebum is there, at least he gets something to do. This is so boring and Jackson is so antsy and fidgety.
Across the room, Jia raises her drink and wiggles her eyebrows at him, grinning a little. At least she’s having fun, he thinks bleakly. He wishes they’d given them real champagne. No one should have to attend a wedding sober, fake or not.
He jerks when a hand lands on his elbow. “I need to talk to you,” Jaebum says.
Jinyoung and Bambam are watching them intently. “Now?” Jackson asks, but then he follows Jaebum’s gaze to their manager, caught up in conversation with a pretty PD. Between that and the way that all the cameras are pointed towards the front of the room, it’s actually ideal.
“Please,” Jaebum says, and where Jackson was expecting leader sternness, he’s only hearing a question, a quiet request.
That’s probably why, despite every one of his best impulses saying ‘don’t be stupid’, he instead finds himself saying, “Well, sure, I guess.”
They duck down the hall, and when a PD raises an eyebrow at them, Jaebum offers her his most gracious smile. “Sick,” he tells her, and Jackson jerks when he wraps an arm around his waist. “Just taking him to the bathroom.” Jackson does his best to look appropriately ill, which is kind of easy when Jaebum’s touch makes him this unsteady.
She waves them off and Jaebum pulls him into the bathroom, locking the door behind them. “So,” he says.
“So,” Jackson echos, crossing his arms over his chest.
Jaebum shifts from foot to foot before settling on leaning back against a sink. “About that day…” he says.
A day that Jackson is apparently gonna have to relive over and over. He shrugs. “Over it,” he says. “Was that all? Can I go back to my fake champagne now?”
Jaebum rubs delicately at his temples. “Were you serious about that?” he asks. “With the whole…” Jackson waits for him to finish his sentence, but he never does, just looks up at Jackson expectantly.
Jackson barks out a laugh staring at him. “Does it look like I was kidding?” he snaps. He knows it’s too harsh when Jaebum flinches, looking hurt, but Jackson doesn’t feel too guilty about it. He was the one who’d had his biggest secret revealed to everyone, like it was some kind of joke. He’s pretty sure that he’s got the moral high ground on this one.
Jaebum’s quiet, quiet for long enough that Jackson starts eyeing the door. If all Jaebum’s going to do is stare him down, maybe he can make a break for it. Even the cameras and lukewarm sparkling water is better than this. “So, imprinting,” Jaebum says finally, and he licks his lips. “Is it, um, something to do with mating?” Jackson wrinkles his nose. He hates that word. “You said it was a werewolf thing.”
“Yeah,” Jackson says. He doesn’t smile. “I guess you’re my one and only.”
Jaebum exhales noisily, his head falling back against the mirror. “Wow.”
“How do you think I feel?” Jackson mutters. He pulls at his collar. He really hates these stupid suits. They’re never comfortable.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Jaebum asks, and Jackson throws him a dark look. He’s pretty sure that’s one question that doesn’t need any clarity. “Right, okay,” he says. “Sorry.”
Jackson hunches his shoulders and turns towards the door. How much longer does this ‘talk’ have to last? “Look, I get it, okay? I know it makes you uncomfortable or whatever, so let’s just forget this whole thing ever happened.”
“That’s not how adults deal with their problems,” Jaebum points out. Everything he says feels tense, like he has to force the words up and out of his chest, and it’s not making Jackson feel any better. It’s making him feel like he’s a problem that Jaebum is forcing himself to solve, and that really, really sucks.
“It’s how I’m dealing with my problems,” Jackson replies. The air in here is stifling. He pulls his tie loose, ignoring the exasperated look that Jaebum throws at him. He feels like he can’t breathe. “So I guess you’ll just have to live with it.”
They’re at a standoff, now. Jackson scuffs his toe against the linoleum and looks everywhere but at Jaebum’s face. Maybe if he just like, doesn’t say anything ever again, Jaebum will let it drop, and he’ll be free of having to discuss his feelings. It’s pretty obvious by this point that talking about this kind of stuff only leads to awkwardness and unhappiness.
“What if…” Jaebum frowns, but Jackson is pretty sure that it’s not directed towards him, at least. The sentence dies in Jaebum’s mouth and instead, Jackson is startled to see him reach out and curl a hand around the back of Jackson’s neck. In spite of himself, Jackson finds himself being reeled in.
“What if what?” Jackson asks, and when Jaebum leans in to close the distance, he has to plant his hands against Jaebum’s chest and push him away. “Whoa!” he shakes his head, his heart rattling around in his ribcage. “Don’t fuck with me, man.” There’s a lot that he can’t handle right now, but having everything he wants dangled in front of him and then yanked away, he doesn’t think he can do it. “This is a forever thing for me.”
“I’m not,” Jaebum says, and he shakes his head. There’s something about the way that Jaebum scowls at himself, dragging a hand through his carefully styled hair that makes Jackson profoundly hopeful. “You. Forever is a big word, you know.”
Jackson pulls away. Of course Jaebum doesn’t get it. “You think I don’t know that?” he asks. “Man, I’m the one who didn’t have a choice here. I got bitten by some asshole, now I turn into a wolf on the full moon and now surprise! I’m the one who got the whole bullshit fate soulmate thing.” He blinks back the hot tears that are threatening at the back of his eyes. “You think I don’t know how big forever is?”
“I didn’t even know you felt the same way,” Jaebum says, “and now you’re telling me you want to be with me forever. I’m sorry if it’s taking me a bit to process that.”
“I never said -” The truth of what Jaebum is saying hits Jackson mid-sentence and his words stutter to a halt. His eyes get wide and he stares. “Wait, what?” he squeaks. Ah, that’s dignified.
“I’m not saying yes to forever,” Jaebum tells him. “But, I mean, maybe…” He reaches out again. “Can I?”
Jackson has thought about Jaebum finding out about how he feels about him a lot, gone over all of the outcomes, ranging from them being totally okay and continuing their friendship to Jaebum loathing him and never speaking to him again. Thing is, he never considered this option. He never thought Jaebum might want him too. He thinks about what could happen, if Jaebum decides he doesn’t want this. He’s pretty sure it’d break him into little tiny pieces, in a way that he’ll never be able to fix. “Yeah,” Jackson says, leaning into Jaebum’s touch. What the hell, right? He’s never had much sense, and he wants this so bad.
Jaebum kisses him carefully, one hand on either side of Jackson’s face, holding him steady. It’s a good thing that Jaebum’s got him, because Jackson feels like he might melt away into nothing. It’s like every nerve in his body is singing, so pleased with Jaebum’s touch, and he grips Jaebum’s hips and pulls him in. He catches the plush shape of Jaebum’s bottom lip in his teeth, tugging a little and he grins when he lets go. “I wanna do that again,” Jackson admits, chasing after Jaebum’s mouth when he tips back. “Again, and again, and again, and again…”
With a quiet laugh, Jaebum bumps his nose up against Jackson’s. “Later,” he says. “We’ve been gone for too long already.”
They pull apart, and Jackson feels shaky for a million different reasons. There’s a wary sort of happiness in the way that Jaebum smiles at him, and Jackson definitely understands that feeling. “Okay,” Jackson says after a moment. He feels a little bit like someone oughta be pinching him. On the other hand, his wildest fantasies probably wouldn’t include their first kiss happening in a bathroom, so maybe this is real. Maybe Jaebum really does want him too. “Okay. Let’s, uh. Get out there. Cut a rug and stuff.”
Jaebum takes a moment to fix his hair in the mirror, and he straightens Jackson’s tie while he’s at it. “Sounds good,” he says quietly, and Jackson looks at the shape of his mouth when he speaks. He kissed him, he thinks. Jaebum actually kissed him.
They head back out to face the cameras, and Jackson does his best to keep this happy feeling from slipping through his fingers. Jaebum slips off to check on the maknaes and Jackson finds Mark in the corner, juggling at least three glasses of fake champagne. “Hey,” Mark says. “You left me alone.”
“Yeah, sorry,” Jackson says, tugging the most full glass out of Mark’s hands. “Something to do.”
Jinyoung pops over Mark’s shoulder and grabs the other one. “So, your little ‘chat’ went well, huh?” he says. He grins over his glass. “I think that’s an actual real life smile I see. It’s a miracle.”
“It went pretty good,” Jackson allows, but he lets the corners of his mouth curl up when Mark nudges him with an elbow. “I guess.”
Everything feels precarious, like he’s sitting on a bubble. Across the room, Jaebum speaks earnestly to the camera touches his elbow and smiles, and Jackson wonders when it’s gonna burst.
It turns out that a kiss didn’t actually change all that much.
Well, that’s not true. It did and it didn’t. Jaebum isn’t avoiding him now, but it turns out that Jackson has no idea how to date a guy. He’s always been pretty confident with girls, but it’s a whole different ball game when it’s a guy and his leader to boot, someone who’s always set Jackson just that little bit off balance. Do they go back to the way they were before, or do they hold hands, or like, what? It’s confusing as hell.
So mostly, they’re just kind of...circling each other. Jackson startles with each tentative touch of Jaebum’s hand against the small of his back to steer him towards the stage, or when he presses up next to him to squeeze into the camera frame too. It’s nice, in a way that Jackson is hyperaware of and isn’t certain he should be enjoying. The specter of that whole imprinting thing is hanging over his head, and Jackson just desperately needs this to work. If he scares Jaebum off, that’s it. That’s all he’s got.
Of course, their job doesn’t help anything either. They’ve got a photoshoot today, winter wonderland theme, and they’re all supposed to be paired off for individual shots. Jackson reaches for Mark without hesitating, because Mark is comfortable, easy. He can sit on Mark and the fans will love it. The PD shakes her head, though. “No, Jackson,” she says, and he feels a faint sense of dread when she point at Jaebum with her pen. “We want you with Jaebum today.”
The one person in the group who’s got the power to make Jackson a complete nervous wreck, and he’s stuck with him for the entire shoot. “Oh, okay,” he says, and he flashes a thumbs up with both hands, like he’s not freaking out about being so close to Jaebum right now.
Winter theme means they’re all dressed in these oversized sweaters, which suits Jackson just fine. Except for the part where Jaebum looks so good. Even a grey knit can’t disguise the breadth of his shoulders, and he’s got this soft white beanie on over his dark hair, and it’s just, well. If Jackson was a wolf right now, he’d be curling up into Jaebum’s lap for a nap. He just looks so nice.
But he’s not, and there are cameras and PDs everywhere, and a woman carefully nudging his bangs into place, so that’s definitely not gonna happen. It feels weird, climbing into one armchair with Jaebum and putting on happy smiles. His wolf side is pretty happy about it, though, with the warm press of Jaebum’s thigh against his and the weight of his arm around his back. They take a few shots and Jackson shifts so that his arm is behind Jaebum’s, letting him tuck his chin over Jaebum’s shoulder. “Might as well be in my lap,” Jaebum grumbles, but he tips his head to press against Jackson’s, and that feels pretty good too.
Jackson takes in the director’s considering eyes and he laughs a little. “Don’t give them any ideas,” he says. He’s starting to relax some into Jaebum’s body, the way he used to. This is okay, he can do this. He can figure out how to be around Jaebum again. Definitely.
“Closer, please,” the PD calls, like they’re not practically on top of each other already, but Jackson obliges, tentatively slinging his arm over Jaebum’s shoulder to rest his palm flat against his chest. “Good, good.”
Jackson grins for the camera, nice and broad, and then twists so his mouth is close to Jaebum’s ear. “Is this okay?” he asks, his other hand fluttering nervously against his thigh. “Is it too much?”
The camera flashes stop and they have to get up again. “I promise to tell you if it is,” Jaebum says, and he uses the shield of Jackson’s body to slide his hand up under the hem of Jackson’s sweater to press a thumb against his hip. The touch sends shivers down Jackson’s spine and he grins at Jaebum, more wide and real than he has in a long time.
“Deal,” he says.
After their final schedule of the day, another radio show, they head out to the van to go home. Jackson yawns and rubs at his eyes, but he doesn’t miss Jaebum leaning in towards Jinyoung to whisper something, gesturing towards the front seat. Jinyoung grins at them both, that big, mischievous one that makes his eyes disappear. “I call shotgun,” he announces, elbowing past Jaebum to climb into the front.
“Guess you’re stuck with the rest of us, leader,” Jackson says. Mark and Bambam are in the back row, and Bambam’s already dozed off, mouth wide open. They’re all pretty good at falling asleep wherever they can, these days.
Jaebum steadies Youngjae as he follows in after him. “I guess so,” Jaebum says, a faint smile playing on his lips. “Too bad, huh.”
Yugyeom bumps his head against the van doorframe and whines, stumbling backwards. “Careful, Yugyeomie,” Jaebum says.
Jackson ends up in the middle row, squished between an unconscious Yugyeom, drooling on his shoulder, and Jaebum, scrolling through his phone. It’s the first time they’ve sat together in the van in a long time, and Jackson’s missed the warmth of Jaebum’s body, pressed up against his. Even sweaty after a long day of practice, he smells so good and Jackson leans back in his seat and just kinda...drinks it in.
He’s tired, worn out, and Yugyeom’s head is heavy on his shoulder, but it’s funny how just Jaebum’s presence can make Jackson feel like he’s all in one piece again. He lets his hands rest in his lap, close to Jaebum’s leg but not touching, and out of the corner of his eye, he sees Jaebum smile. Yeah, today was pretty okay.
With no Korean track to promote right now, there’s a lot more time for individual schedules. Jinyoung’s been tapped to host Inkigayo, now that those guys from EXO are gone, and Youngjae’s got his first role on a drama, and Jackson’s making the rounds on variety. Today, after a morning of dance practice, he had a late night radio show, this time with a couple members of VIXX. He thinks it went pretty well, but that doesn’t mean he’s not entirely wiped out now.
He gets home long after everyone else should be in bed, and he takes his time kicking off his shoes, his every movement sluggish and slow. All he wants to do is get out of his clothes and flop face first into bed. He’s gotta catch as much sleep as he can.
The lights are on, though. And someone’s on the couch. “Hey,” Jackson says, letting his bag drop to the floor. “Why aren’t you in bed?”
Jaebum is bent over his tablet, eyes half-lidded and sleepy. “I had some things I needed to get done,” he says, all casual, but he glances down at the spot on the couch next to him.
Jackson knows how to take a hint. He throws himself down next to Jaebum, and he grins, smug. “You stayed up for me,” he says. It’s not a question. Jaebum may have more responsibilities than the rest of them, but that doesn’t mean that he’d need to stay up this late. “You waited up until I got home.”
“Well, I am leader,” Jaebum says, but he reaches up slowly, curling his fingers around the back of Jackson’s neck. Jackson lets himself be tugged down into Jaebum’s lap and does his best not to feel too pleased by it. Jaebum’s sweatpants are soft and worn under Jackson’s cheek, and when he looks up, Jaebum’s eyes are fond.
“You don’t stay up for anyone else,” Jackson points out. “You only stay up for me.” Now that he’s lying down, warmed by the heat of Jaebum’s thigh, his nose filled with his scent, Jackson is pretty sure he’s about ready to fall asleep.
He looks up again when Jaebum pushes careful fingers through his hair, slow easy strokes that remind Jackson of when he’s a wolf. “Only for you,” Jaebum agrees.
Jackson makes a little noise in the back of his throat and he slides forward, pressing his face against Jaebum’s belly and inhaling. This is just where he wants to be, always. He hums happily and yawns, pulling at Jaebum’s sweatshirt. “Good,” he says, pleased.
“Hey.” Jackson yelps when Jaebum tugs a little on his hair. “Don’t fall asleep on me. I’ve got to get to bed too, you know.”
Jackson scrunches up his face but he sits up again, sighing. “You’re such a buzzkill,” he says.
“Someone’s got to be,” Jaebum replies, grinning.
He really should get to bed. They’ve got some fansign event in the morning, and Jackson’s finding more and more that he’s gotta prepare himself to deal with it all, the smells and the noise. Still, he hovers, just a little too close to Jaebum. “Can I?” he asks quietly, and Jaebum’s smile gets bigger. He nods, and Jackson closes the distance between them.
Jaebum tastes like honeyed tea, the same kind he drinks for his throat after a long day of vocal training, and he holds Jackson still with one hand on his face. Jackson goes pliant and boneless as Jaebum gently coaxes his mouth open, tongue slick and sweet, and when Jaebum pulls away, Jackson feels wobbly and dazed. “I think I’m gonna have good dreams tonight,” Jaebum says softly, and he taps a finger against Jackson’s nose.
“They’d be better if you came to bed with me,” Jackson tells him. He knows he’s pushing his luck, but it’s definitely worth it for the way that Jaebum snorts and rolls his eyes, nudging Jackson away.
“Nice try,” he says. He pulls Jackson to his feet, but he lets Jackson steal another quick kiss before he pushes him towards his room. “Go,” he says. “Get some sleep.”
“I like this,” Jackson says suddenly, and he flushes when Jaebum raises his eyebrows, smiling at him. “Like, I just. I like this. I like you.”
Jaebum reaches out to push Jackson’s hair out of his eyes. “Me too,” he says, and it sends a rush of warmth into Jackson’s chest, makes him soft enough to let Jaebum nudge him away, and towards his room.
Maybe he sleeps alone, but he sleeps well that night.
Man, Jackson loves kissing. He’s always liked it, kinda, but there’s something completely irresistible about kissing Jaebum. They don’t get a ton of time to do it, obviously, between Jaebum’s new post on Immortal Song and Jackson’s variety shows, but they manage to snatch a few moments here and there, and Jackson makes certain that they take advantage of each and every one.
Like this morning’s empty dorm. Jackson had been sprawled on the couch, trying to muster up the energy to either make himself breakfast or shower or something, but then Jaebum had walked by, and he’d gotten a better idea.
“I should get ready,” Jaebum says, but he makes no move to leave. That doesn’t stop Jackson from tightening his knees around Jaebum’s hips and pulling him closer, mouthing at the sharp line of his jaw. “So should you,” Jaebum adds, but he tips his chin down for Jackson’s lips, and Jackson is more than willing to oblige.
He could stay like this forever, probably, pinned down by the weight of Jaebum’s body, letting him lick into his mouth with careful, determined skill. He’s good at this, good enough that he’s got Jackson going absolutely boneless underneath him, focused on nothing but the heat of Jaebum’s lips and each precise shift of his hips down against his. Jackson’s breathless with pleasure and warmth, chasing Jaebum’s mouth with his own every time he pulls away.
“We’ve got time,” he tells Jaebum, even though he’s not even sure that’s true anymore. He’s almost drunk on Jaebum’s smell and his taste, giddy enough that Jaebum laughs too. Jackson slides his hands up Jaebum’s sides and pulls him even closer. “Or let’s just quit. You could go pro at this, I swear.”
Jaebum snorts, bumping his nose up against Jackson’s. Jackson’s wolf side is definitely pleased. “Somehow, I don’t think you’d be so much into sharing,” he says, and he kisses Jackson again, slow and leisurely, pressing him down until he’s pliant and easy beneath him, making happy little noises. “You’re like a puppy, you know that?”
“I am not,” Jackson says, as indignant as he can be when he’s half-hard and wondering if Jaebum would let him take his shirt off of him. “I’m a wolf,” he insists. “Majestic, remember?” He stretches up to nip at Jaebum’s lip.
Jaebum laughs. “Yeah, okay,” he says. “Majestic. Awe-inspiring.” He slides a hand up to cup Jackson’s cheek, and Jackson noses into it. “Big bad wolf.”
“Don’t you forget it,” Jackson says.
Right now, like this, under Jaebum, he doesn’t think he could be any more content. Jaebum seems pretty determined to ruin that, though. “Manager hyung is gonna be here any minute,” he says regretfully, sitting back on Jackson’s hips.
There goes that dream of getting Jaebum’s shirt off. “You’re a dream-killer,” Jackson sighs.
Jaebum slaps his hand down against Jackson’s belly. “Every day,” he agrees. He climbs off him slowly, his grin only widening when he catches sight of Jackson’s half-hard dick through his paper-thin sweats. “Come on.” He holds his hand out for Jackson to take.
Not for the first time, Jackson feels the urge to tell Jaebum that he loves him bubbling up in his chest. The thought of actually saying that out loud is terrifying, though, so he just hikes up his sweatpants and frowns at Jaebum. “Gonna hold this against you for the rest of your life,” he says.
Jaebum doesn’t let go of his hand just yet. “Sure,” he says. “But can your grudge wait until after we’re done with practice?” He rubs his thumb against the inside of Jackson’s wrist, and grins. “I’ve got things I need to get done.”
“I don’t like you,” Jackson says, but before he can pull away to get ready, Jaebum reels him in again and kisses him again. “Alright,” he amends, “maybe you’re okay.”
“I thought so,” Jaebum says, and he grins.
He knows that something’s wrong the moment he lands the flip, his foot slipping out from underneath him. He hears something in his ankle pop and all of a sudden, pain flares up his leg, hot and sharp, and Jackson has to bite his lip and squeeze his eyes so he won’t cry out. They’re nearly done filming this stage and he doesn’t want to ruin it for everyone. They all fall into their ending pose for the last shot, and then Jackson just crumples, grabbing at his ankle.
He’d thought that being a werewolf meant that he didn’t get hurt anymore. He hasn’t had so much as a cold in months, and now this. It feels like something’s snapped, something vital, and even shifting toes makes his entire leg erupt with pain. Tears prickle at the corner of his eyes and he gasps, clutching at his ankle.
“Hyung?” Yugyeom says, eyes wide, dropping to his knees next to Jackson. “What happened?” He touches Jackson’s shoulder and Jackson flinches, another spark of fire arching up his leg. The rest of the group has gathered around him, except for Jinyoung, sent off in a run for one of the staff medics. “Are you okay?”
It’s not the first time Jackson’s hurt himself doing their acrobatics, but it’s never been this bad, and it’s never been in front of the fans. He glances past Youngjae’s legs to the crowd of fans, strangely quiet, and he flashes them a thumbs up and a tight smile. “It’s not that bad,”
Mark crouches next to them. “You’re lying,” he says mildly, but he holds up his hands in defeat when Jackson shoots him a look. Now is so not the time.
The medic that runs up after Jinyoung is brusque and efficient and completely impersonal. “How does this feel?” she asks, twisting his foot to the left, and when the pain comes, the snarl rips out of his throat completely unbidden.
Instantly, Mark is shifting forward to shield him from the fans, mouth tight and nervous, and Jaebum is only a step behind, his shoulder cutting off the medic’s view of his face. “Jackson,” he says.
It takes Jackson a moment to feel it under the pain, the itch pushing at the back of his eyes, and he runs his tongue across too-sharp teeth in his mouth. Fear sinks into his gut and he clutches his hands to his chest until his claws turn back into nails. “Sorry,” he says, and Jaebum shifts back. The medic has an eyebrow raised, her hands still on his ankle. “It really hurts. Sorry.”
Yugyeom tucks his chin over Jackson’s shoulder and Jackson inhales, trying to use his scent to anchor himself through the pain and the sudden sick dread that’s making him sick. He’s never lost control like that before, and to do it in front of everyone - he catches sight of the the tense expression on Jaebum’s face and he feels even worse.
The medic is frowning. “I think it’s only a bad sprain,” she announces after a moment, though she doesn’t really sound sure at all, and she gestures for them to help Jackson up. “Let’s get you out of here.”
With Mark on one side and Yugyeom on the other, Jackson hobbles off the stage, making sure to wave goodbye at the fans over his shoulder. He feels kind of awful, for more than one reason. He’s probably got his new werewolf blood to thank for the way that the pain is ebbing in his ankle, but that just leaves more room for his shame and embarrassment.
He’d thought he had this whole werewolf thing under control, now. He was getting the hang of sleeping when he can hear Youngjae snoring next door, or eating when he can smell Jinyoung’s gross feet. And the whole thing with Jaebum, he felt like maybe that was working too. He’d been wrong, embarrassingly so. He gets his ankle wrapped up backstage, listening absently to the sounds of the next group’s stage, and he clenches his hands in his lap.
The worst part is how disappointed Jaebum looks with him. It makes Jackson feel physically ill, even as the pain eases in his ankle. He was supposed to have this under control, and here he is, acting like a fucking fool in front of all of their fans. He props his injured ankle out in front of him and stares at it. What if this happens again? What if next time, it’s not a growl, but a bite? Is he sure he knows it’ll be fine?
He looks up at Jaebum again, and he hates the tight line of Jaebum’s mouth and knowing he caused it. No wonder Jaebum got so skittish about the whole imprinting thing. Forever’s an even bigger word when it means being stuck with an idiot like him. He grips his thighs, his heart hammering in his chest. How can he ever ask Jaebum to deal with this for the rest of his life?
The van ride home is silent, and Jackson presses his cheek to Yugyeom’s shoulder. Maybe he should’ve taken Hyeri up on that offer this month. Maybe he needs someone keeping him in line.
Up in the front seat, Jaebum stares out his window and never once looks back.
It’s frustrating, watching the rest of the group run and jump around for the Real GOT7 cameras when he’s gotta sit down and prop his foot up, pretending to still need rest. He wants to be in the thick of it, but he’s still not really sure how ready he is to broach the whole ‘I’m a werewolf’ topic with their management. He’s pretty sure it’d just end with him being put on indefinite rest while the company figured out how to explain why they were kicking him out of the group in fan-friendly terms.
It looks fun, too. They’re all doing some silly game with punishments, and while Jackson knows that someone’s gotta sit out anyway, because there’s seven of them, that doesn’t mean that he’s not annoyed that it has to be him. He doesn’t wanna ref and shout commentary. He wants to get to have fun.
Jaebum gets eliminated from the current round, and he comes over to sit next to Jackson. It’s been hard to talk to him, since the whole thing onstage, so Jackson mostly figures that Jaebum’s doing it for the cameras. Gotta play nice. He’s surprised when Jaebum leans in close and taps his knee. “How’s the ankle?” he asks. “All better?”
It’s stupid that just that contact has Jackson tilting towards Jaebum like a goddamn flower towards the sun. “Yeah,” he says, trying not to sound too sullen about it. “This is pretty lame.”
The rest of their group shout and cheer as Bambam emerges from behind a curtain in a silly, over-sized bear costume, looking glum. Jaebum jerks his chin towards him. “Are you sure you’d rather be out there with the rest of them?”
“I don’t lose,” Jackson says, and Jaebum has to clap a hand over his mouth to muffle his laughter. Dick.
They both fall silent for a moment, watching Bambam whine for the camera and Yugyeom and Youngjae, clinging to each other while they howl. “‘m sorry,” Jackson says abruptly, and Jaebum turns to look at him. “It was stupid, the other day. I nearly fucked everything up.”
Jaebum’s tongue darts out to wet his lips, and he takes a while to respond. “It was scary,” he admits, and Jackson’s stomach sinks. “I didn’t know what you were going to do.”
That hurts more than Jackson ever thought it would. “I thought you said you weren’t afraid of me,” he says, voice small.
“I’m not,” Jaebum says with certainty, and when Jackson doesn’t look at him, he repeats it. “I’m not.” Jackson remembers the cameras, tries to wipe the hurt off his face, in case someone catches him. “But, I guess, I just worry.”
Jackson hums, but he doesn’t believe him. “Sorry that I made you worry,” he says. “I’d never - I couldn’t -”
“Hey.” It’s funny how Jaebum’s voice just makes him snap to attention. “Relax. You act like I’m about to lock you up in a cage.”
“Maybe you should,” Jackson mutters. He sees the cameras swing their way and he manages to muster up a whoop and a quick insult of Mark’s drawing skills before they point away again.
Jaebum snorts, and when Jackson looks at him, he catches him roll his eyes. “You’re such a drama queen,” Jaebum says. Jackson scowls, and Jaebum shoves him a little. “Jackson. The first time you ever turned into a wolf, you tried to crawl under your bed.” Jackson pushes him back, cheeks getting hot. “You’re not nearly as scary you think you are.” Jaebum pauses, rubs his palms down his thighs. “It’s just, you freaked me out, that’s all. You freaked us all out.”
Across the room, it’s Youngjae’s turn to get stuffed into an animal costume, and he’s wailing with dismay. “Sorry,” Jackson says again. “I know this is like, a lot to deal with.”
“And you’re doing pretty well,” Jaebum tells him. That wasn’t what Jackson had meant, but Jaebum’s smile makes it clear that he knows that.
Still… “I get it, if you don’t wanna…” Jackson frowns as he trips over the words. This is all so stupid.
“Shut up,” Jaebum says, with surprising fondness. “I promised you I’d tell you, didn’t I?” He shifts closer until they’re pressed together, shoulder to knee. “You’ve got to do better than that to scare me off.”
Jinyoung and Bambam are arguing noisily about the outcome of the last challenge, and Jackson’s whole heart feels like it’s too big to fit in his ribs. “I am too scary,” he says, and Jaebum just laughs, knocking his knee companionably against Jackson’s. “Just you wait.”
“I bet I’m going to be waiting a long time for that,” Jaebum says. The MC calls Jaebum’s name and gestures for him, and Jaebum stands, holding out his hand. When Jackson takes it, he squeezes his fingers tight, and that warm feeling in Jackson’s chest only gets bigger.
Youngjae is getting a lot easier to persuade to swap rooms these days. “It’s not the full moon,” Jaebum says, but he doesn’t object in the slightest to Jackson throwing his pillow down next to Jaebum’s and squirming in next to him. “Are you starting to miss me, Jackson?”
“No,” Jackson says, winding his arms around Jaebum’s waist. “I’m an independant woman.” The difference in their height is obvious when he has to stretch up to bump his nose against Jaebum’s a silent question. Jaebum answers it by rolling his weight onto his chest and kissing him, slow and lazy.
Maybe there’s something weird about that, about how Jackson’s part wolf now but nothing makes him so content as Jaebum pinning him down, holding him steady with his hands in his hair and his knees around his waist. Jackson doesn’t much care. He’s pretty sure he left weird behind a good six months ago and now all he wants to think about is chasing the taste of Jaebum’s weird toothpaste off the back of his teeth and pressing close, close, close. He loves being caged in by the weight of Jaebum’s body, he’s so greedy for it, but he just can’t help it. He wants to believe what Jaebum told him so bad. He wants to believe that Jaebum isn’t going anywhere.
It’s been a while since they’ve been able to steal a moment like this, between their conflicting schedules and getting home and just being too tired to do anything at all, and Jackson’s still a little bit surprised that Jaebum’s the one taking the lead. He likes to think he’s got some skills in the kissing arena, but Jaebum is something else. It’s like he kisses with a kind of determined precision, sucking Jackson’s lower lip into his mouth and grinding down until Jackson is breathless and whining underneath him.
It should be embarrassing, the fact that he’s already getting so worked up, but Jaebum doesn’t seem to find it funny. He looks pretty into it, actually. Jaebum slides a hand up underneath Jackson’s shirt, thumbing at his nipple, and Jackson’s cock jerks where it’s trapped between them. The friction is nearly painful but he’s pretty sure he couldn’t stand to let Jaebum pull away for long enough for them to get naked anyway. He drags his hands down Jaebum’s biceps and arcs up, hard.
“Easy,” Jaebum laughs, and Jackson ducks his head down, licking at Jaebum’s collarbone before he sucks, hard, hard enough to leave a mark. He grins at the sight of it, red, turning purple, and then licks over it again. “Did you just give me a hickey?” Jaebum asks, and Jackson can feel his chest shake with laughter. “The stylists are going to be so mad at me.”
“Let them,” Jackson says, and he pulls Jaebum’s hips down to meet his again. He’s got to admit, his wolf side is really pleased with marking Jaebum up, marking him as his.
He pushes his face into Jaebum’s shoulder and rolls his hips up urgently. There’s a part of him that’s distantly aware of the fact that he’s pretty much grinding up against Jaebum’s thigh, borderline desperate to get off. “What’s the rush,” Jaebum asks, bending to kiss him again.
Jackson squeaks when Jaebum brings his leg up just right against his cock. “Because you get pissed off when you don’t get enough sleep,” he says, grinning into Jaebum’s skin. “Wouldn’t want the old man to get cranky.”
He should know better than to tease Jaebum when his boner is involved. Jaebum drags a hand down Jackson’s chest to cup his cock through his sleep pants, stroking agonizingly slow. Jackson only spares a second to wonder where he got so good at this before he’s gasping into Jaebum’s mouth, jerking up into his touch. “Wouldn’t want that,” Jaebum agrees. After that, Jackson can’t even really speak, too focused on the hot pleasure coiling in his gut and the slick press of Jaebum’s mouth.
Jackson comes embarrassingly fast, shaking to pieces under Jaebum, gripping his arms hard enough to leave marks behind. “I can’t believe that just happened,” he mutters, and he can already feel himself flushing, all the way down his throat and across his chest. “If you ever tell anyone I’ll kill you.”
When he flops back on the blankets, though, Jaebum is looking down at him with something like awe. “Do I really get you that worked up?” he asks, eyes teasing, and Jackson groans, covering his face with his hands. It’s a lot harder to be embarrassed when Jaebum is stroking a hand across his belly and kissing at the only parts of Jackson’s face that he can find around his hands. “I’m flattered.”
“I hate you,” Jackson says, letting his hands fall and parting his lips willingly under Jaebum’s.
Jaebum’s still hard and pressed up against Jackson’s hip when the door swings open. Jackson dives under the blankets, mortified. He peeks out. “Hey, before you sleep - oh.” Jinyoung clamps his lips together, clearly trying to swallow back a laugh. “Well then,” he says. A grin stretches across his face, and he fans in front of his nose dramatically. “What’s that smell?”
“Park Jinyoung,” Jackson says, and the threat of his voice is probably lessened by how muffled it is under the blanket. “Do you want to die?”
“You’re adorable,” Jinyoung tells them, and his grin doesn’t slip even an inch as he heads out the door again.
“Well, that was nice,” Jaebum says, shifting until his mouth is pressed against the top of Jackson’s head. “I think my hard-on just died.”
“I can’t believe I came in my pants,” Jackson groans, and Jaebum starts laughing all over again.
Hyeri was right. Running on the full moon is something else. He’d been a bit apprehensive about it, going into it, especially since he still has to get up and head to the practice room tomorrow morning, but he feels amazing. He digs his nose into the snow and throws it up towards Hyeri, who barks her laughter. She’s smaller than he is, lighter and leaner, but she’s been throwing him around all night, slamming into him and sending him tumbling to the ground. It’s pretty impressive.
Through the trees, a howl sounds, and Jackson pulls to a halt, ears perked. He may be new to this, but he’s pretty sure he could recognize his alpha’s voice in a heartbeat. The sky is starting to turn grey as the sun rises, and she’s bringing their run to an end. Hyeri licks at his muzzle and then she’s off, bolting towards the carpark where their rides wait.
She wins the race, which he’ll never admit, and by the time he pulls up after her, she’s already back on two legs, naked and barefoot in the snow. Behind her, Sojin holds out a pair of big furry boots and a thick coat, frowning at Jackson again. “Slowpoke!” Hyeri tells him, tapping him on the nose as he walks up. “Gonna have to do better than that if you’re gonna be in this pack, you know.” A little further back, Jaebum is leaning against the hood of a company car, eyes carefully averted as the pack changes back. Jackson had known he’d be there, but there’s still something about the sight of him that warms his chest, even in the winter cold.
It’s the first time he’s shifted back of his own accord and it takes time, more time than he’d like. He feels like he’s behind everyone else, already climbing into their clothes again, and he closes his eyes, pushes it faster. Slow as it is, there’s something easier about a shift tonight. Maybe it’s having the pack around him, maybe it’s the night’s run, but soon he’s standing again, shivering in the morning wind. Werewolves might run hot, but that doesn’t make winter weather pleasant when you’re not wearing clothes. “He did well,” Hyeri’s mother says, laying one hand on his shoulder. “He’ll make a good addition to the pack.” She pulls him down to press her forehead to his for a moment and he bends easily under her hand, eyes closed. “Congratulations.”
She steps away to talk to some of the other pack members as Jackson shakes off the last of the shift, teeth receding and spine cracking back into place. He turns to Jaebum and flaps a hand at him, gesturing him forward. “Don’t make me run in the snow,” he whines, rubbing his bare arms and doing his best not to think about what the cold is doing to his junk. Jaebum’s probably seen worse. Right?
“I’m coming, I’m coming,” Jaebum laughs, wading through the snow to wrap a coat around Jackson’s shoulders. “You look like you had fun.”
Jackson shakes the snow off his feet and shoves him into the boots Jaebum hands them. “It was amazing,” he gushes, and he can’t keep the grin off his face. He doesn’t know how to translate the exhilaration of it, or the rush he gets when he howls and everyone answers. “Ah, Jaebum, it was so good.”
“Sorry you couldn’t come to the ceremony,” Hyeri calls, walking over. She’s got Sojin’s hand stuffed in her pocket. “It was just a pack thing, though. You understand.” The rest of the pack is calling out goodbyes and heading off, leaving just the four of them and their cars left.
“Of course,” Jaebum says, voice stiff. Jackson pulls the coat tighter around his shoulders and eyes Jaebum sidelong. It takes him a moment to realize that the faint distaste in the way he’s looking at Hyeri is jealousy, and then he grins. His hands tucked in his own pockets, he leans over to hook his chin on Jaebum’s shoulder. Jaebum is jealous. He can’t believe how pleased he is.
“This is exciting,” Hyeri says, and she bounces up and down. “I’ve never had anyone else who’s an idol and a wolf before! Maybe we can carpool or something.”
That finally cracks the sour look on Sojin’s face and she laughs, tugging on Hyeri’s hand until she jumps over and kisses her, quick and easy. “Haven’t you already learned your lesson about men and cars?” Sojin asks, raising her eyebrows. “That’s a scandal waiting to happen.”
Hyeri grimaces and sticks out her tongue. “Ugh, don’t remind me,” she says, and she pouts, nosing at Sojin’s cheek. “Well, fine. I’m still excited.”
Jackson can feel the tension melting out of Jaebum’s shoulders. “We should go,” Jaebum says, and his hand finds Jackson’s, warm and solid. “Before it gets too late. We’ve got a long drive ahead of us.”
“Us too,” Sojin agrees, and when she glances at their hands, she smiles at Jackson for the first time. “Congratulations,” she tells him.
Before they can turn to head to their car, Hyeri darts forward and presses her forehead to Jackson’s for a moment. “I’m glad you came,” she tells him, and then she and Sojin are off, hands swinging between them.
The car ride back into Seoul is long enough for Jackson to get sleepy, yawning and folding his legs up under him in the front seat. “You know,” he says, and Jaebum glances at him. “You didn’t have to wait for me. “I could’ve gotten a ride with one of the pack or something.”
“I couldn’t let you be the only one with dark circles today,” Jaebum says, the corners of his mouth pulling up. “Now we’ll match.”
It had to have been pretty boring, spending the entire night in the car, in the dark, waiting for Jackson to show up, but Jaebum had done it. It’d been his idea in the first place. Jackson tucks his nose under the thick, furry collar of his winter coat to hide away his grin. He can’t deny how good it feels when Jaebum looks after him like that. “You’re dumb,” he scoffs. Jaebum hums, smile broadening. “And,” Jackson adds, “you were jealous.”
It’s fascinating, the slow creep of red up Jaebum’s cheeks. “I was not,” he says. “Don’t be silly.”
They stop at a red light and Jackson squirms over to tuck his head into the crook of Jaebum’s neck and rub his nose up against his jaw. “You shouldn’t be,” he says. “I’m pretty one-track these days.”
Jaebum tips his head to press his lips to the top of Jackson’s head. “Good,” he says, and Jackson shivers from the warmth of his breath and smiles.
Jackson yawns, raking a hand through his hair before resettling his snapback back on his head. “I think I’m going home,” Jinyoung says, nudging a sleepy Yugyeom to his feet.
It’s getting late, and they’ve all been in the studio pretty much all day. Jackson is pretty sure studio days are worse than dance practice, if only because he has so much less to do, and he ends up bored to tears. Theoretically, he could work on his Korean, but he’s pretty certain that he learns better through practice, anyway, so he mostly ends up napping and playing with his phone in between takes. “Yeah, you go on ahead,” Jackson tells him, and he jerks his chin at the door to the studio. Jaebum’s still inside, working through his parts on his solo track. “Gonna wait for him.”
“Oh, of course,” Jinyoung says, wiggling his eyebrows. Yugyeom giggles, one hand pressed over his mouth. “We won’t wait up for you.”
Jackson scowls. “I wasn’t asking you to,” he snaps, but Jinyoung just looks serene, grinning wider. He wiggles his fingers in goodbye, and Jackson wonders what exactly he could do in revenge to get that smug smile off his face.
He’s very seriously considering peeing in Jinyoung’s closet on the next moon when the recording booth door opens. “That’s enough for today,” their producer says, which is good, because it’s already one in the morning. Jaebum thanks him politely with a quick bow, and then throws himself down on the couch next to Jackson as the man leaves.
“You sounded good,” Jackson says, because Jaebum looks wiped out, and because he did. Of course, to Jackson, Jaebum always sounds great, but that’s beside the point. “Gold star, leader.”
“Shut up,” Jaebum says. His voice is scratchy with use, and Jackson twists around to push his feet into his lap. Jaebum raises an eyebrow but allows it, hands settling onto Jackson’s ankles. “What are you still doing here?”
Jackson shrugs. “You know,” he says, and then he never finishes the thought. He digs his heel into Jaebum’s thigh and smiles at him. He hasn’t had much of a chance to just be around Jaebum today, and even this little contact is making his wolf side sing, pleased. “Want me to call a car?”
While Jackson makes the call, Jaebum stretches over his legs to grab his thermos of tea, and drains nearly half of it. Jackson watches the bob of his throat and almost forgets to hang up the phone. Thank God the staff had already hung up.
Jaebum catches him watching and laughs a little, wiping at the corner of his mouth with a thumb and then knocking his knuckles against Jackson’s knee. “So,” he says, with the tone of someone about to dig into something serious. Jackson tenses. “What’s the deal with the whole imprinting thing?” He licks over his bottom lip. “Like, what’s the next step? Towards, ah, being mates.”
He’s not quite meeting Jackson’s eye, and Jackson’s stomach is doing a whole series of acrobatic formations. It’s a sick combination of hope and fear and Jackson’s getting real tired of that particular blend. “Well, uh, Hyeri said, ‘cause like, her and Sojin. Well.” He takes a deep breath. “With regular humans it’s kind of different?”
“How so?” Jaebum says slowly.
“I guess with two wolves, you just exchange bites and then bam, mates for life.” Jackson rubs a hand over the back of his neck. “There’s a lot of power, I guess? In intent. So, if it’s a step someone’s gonna take, it has to be like, this conscious choice by both of them.” When Hyeri had told him that, he’d been really relieved, honestly. There was a part of him that was always a little bit scared of the idea that one day he might use a little bit too much teeth and then they’d both end up in a situation they’d never wanted.
Jaebum hums. “Is there some kind of ceremony?” he asks.
Jackson pulls a face. “I hope not,” he says, and Jaebum snorts and squeezes his ankle.
Of course, while Jaebum’s asking his questions, Jackson’s got one great big one of his own, and it’s got everything to do with why this topic is on Jaebum’s mind. His tongue is kinda paralyzed when it comes to actually trying to voice it, though. Jackson’s gotta settle for bumping his knee up against Jaebum’s chest until Jaebum leans over and kisses him.
There’s a knock on the door and they spring apart, and Jackson has never been so glad for frosted glass before. “Ready to go?” the staff says, poking his head around the door.
Jackson hopes they don’t look too disreputable. “Super ready,” he says, jumping to his feet.
He still wants to know where Jaebum was going with that train of thought, but the moment has passed, and there’s no way they’re gonna talk about it in front of the driver. Plus, any hope he had of talking it out tonight goes six feet under when they’re in the van and Jaebum nods off, chin tucked against his chest. Jackson settles for staring out at the street lights, chest tight, trying to swallow back the words pressing up in his throat.
Just after Christmas, they finally get some time off, one whole glorious week, and even with everything going on, Jackson takes full advantage of it and heads back to Hong Kong for the week.
It’s been nearly a year since the last time he got to see his parents, and even his brother’s home, along with his fiancé. There’s something really weird about coming home, especially with a nose like he’s got now. It’s not like Jackson’s really grown all that much since he left home (he’s probably lost some muscle, if anything), but somehow everything just feels...smaller. There’s gotta be a word for it, when a place is familiar and strange, all at the same time. His bedroom is probably no smaller than the one he shares in the dorm with Mark, but it feels tiny, like it’s crowded with memories. His parents look smaller, too, but maybe that’s just part of the price of growing up.
Everything smells weird, too. It’s not like he doesn’t remember his mother’s cooking, or the path from his room to the bathroom at night. It takes him until the third night, when he’s digging through his suitcase for something to wear, to realize what it is. “I didn’t pack this,” he mutters, pulling out Jaebum’s old sweater. He didn’t pack it, but...he raises the hoodie to his face and inhales, and all of a sudden, he’s drowning in homesickness.
He drops his hands and stares at the worn sweater in his lap. When did he stop thinking of this room as home? It’s not like he’s spent much time here in most of a decade, but it’s always been kinda hard to think of a cramped, dirty dorm room as anything other than temporary.
Now, though? He’s always had the idol thing, but now he’s got something more. He’s got a pack and he’s got...well. Maybe. He tugs the sweatshirt on over his head and then pulls the collar up to cover his nose until all he can smell is Jaebum. He’s certain he didn’t pack this, he knows he didn’t. Jaebum must’ve snuck it in. That thought is the kind of thing that’d set Jackson’s tail wagging, if he had one around.
He reaches for his phone. He knows that he should be taking advantage of the time that he’s got with his family, especially since he’s got no idea when he’ll next get the chance to come visit again. Thing is, he’s never been any good at fighting that pull in his chest, and it’s only gotten worse since he left. so how boring is korea without me?
The reply comes fast. it’s so peaceful without you here, it’s nice. It’s quickly followed up by a shot of Jaebum’s cat, Nora, eyeing the camera balefully. Jackson feels the tug again, worse than before. Kinda dumb, that he’s been waiting for a trip like this for months, and now that he’s here, he mostly just wants to go home again.
my mom’s a better cook than you are, Jackson replies, because it comes out a lot easier than ‘I miss you’. After their interrupted conversation the other day, they’d never really gotten back to it, which means that every time Jaebum messages him, he just feels this unsteady wobble of hope and nerves and fear. Mostly leaves his stomach a mess. He sends Jaebum a selca of his face with his cheeks pushed out. im gonna come home real fat.
i hope so ^^.
Jackson tucks his chin into his chest and grins. His mom’s calling him down for dinner but for just a moment, he’s just gonna enjoy this.
His flight back was late, and there had been a ton of fans at either end, too. Which on the one hand, sorta flattering, but mostly it just made going anywhere a headache, and Jackson hates having to smile when he’s just gotten off an airplane. He can’t fly without falling asleep, which means that in the airport, he’s always groggy and his hair looks really stupid. Ugh.
By the time he gets back to the dorm, it’s dark. Half the members are still at home, taking advantage of that one last night before they have to get back to work, and it’s weird and quiet. Even on holidays, Jackson’s usually had at least Mark and Bambam to hang out with, but tonight, the dorm is only half-lit and nearly silent.
He heads to his room to throw down his bags, before he sticks his head out the door. “Hellooooo,” he calls. “I’m home.” There’s no reply, just the tinny noise of Bambam’s headphones coming from his room. It’s a little disappointing. No warm welcome.
“Whatever,” Jackson mutters, turning instead towards the bathroom. If nothing else, he can at least wash his face before bed. He pulls at the frayed cuffs of Jaebum’s sweater and yawns, feeling a little bit put out. He spent a week in Hong Kong feeling out of place and strange and now that he’s back, no one’s even here. Lame.
He’s coming out of the bathroom and pushing his damp bangs out of his face when hands collide with his shoulders. “Whoa,” he laughs, as Jaebum pushes him back into the room, the two of them stumbling over the doorjamb. “Hey, there you are. Didn’t know you were home.”
Jaebum backs him up against the sink, hands sliding down to his hips to hold him there as he leans in to kiss him. Jackson can’t really help the the little pleased noise he makes as Jaebum nips at his lip and then kisses him hard and urgent, like he needs it to breathe. It’s dizzying. Hands clutched against Jaebum’s ribs, Jackson spreads his knees so that Jaebum can get between them. “Missed you,” Jaebum mutters against Jackson’s throat, breath hot, and Jackson shivers.
“Never would’ve guessed,” Jackson says, which gets him the edge of teeth against his throat. It sends sparks up his spine and makes him tighten his grip, bumping his nose up against the sharp line of Jaebum’s cheekbone. “Hey.”
He can feel the shape of Jaebum’s smile against his skin. “Did you miss me too?”
Jackson is pretty sure his entire heart is melting away under the warmth of Jaebum’s affection. “I don’t know,” he says slowly, and he hisses when Jaebum’s mouth slides up to the underside of Jackson’s jaw and sucks. “Oh, shit.” Between the heat of Jaebum’s kiss, his overwhelming scent and the weight of his body, Jackson is already well on his way to hard. Jaebum rolls his hips up and Jackson’s breath shudders in his chest. “Well,” he says, looking down. There’s no way Jaebum hasn’t noticed yet. “Part of me missed you.”
Groaning, Jaebum grimaces and pinches Jackson’s hip. “Please stop,” he says, and he catches Jackson’s mouth as a follow-up, swallowing whatever smart-ass reply he would’ve had. Now this is the welcome back he’d been looking for.
He slides one hand up into Jaebum’s hair and pulls, just as the door bangs open. “Hey, Jackson,” Jinyoung says, barging in. “What’d you bring me - oh. It seems I’m interrupting.”
Jackson is getting super tired of Jinyoung’s broad, shit-eating, I-totally-just-cockblocked-you grin these days. “Dude, really?” he says, and he hates the way that he flushes even more as Jinyoung’s eyes fall on what is probably a massive mark blooming on his throat. “Get out already!”
“Good thing Youngjae stayed home another night, huh?” Jinyoung’s smile, impossibly, gets even wider. “I’m gonna go turn my music up really, really loud. Use protection. Good night!” He slams the door behind him, but it’s not like that stops them from hearing his laughter.
There’s a very good chance that if Jaebum wasn’t holding him still, Jackson might’ve leapt off the sink and strangled Jinyoung. “I hate him,” Jackson tells Jaebum, who looks unconcerned. “Like I’m gonna give him his souvenir now.”
“He’s got a point, though,” Jaebum says. He tilts his head to the side, and the half-lidded way he’s eyeing him makes Jackson feel overheated and lightheaded.”I do have the room to myself.”
Jackson shoves Jaebum back and snorts when Jaebum blinks at him, bewildered. “So why are we in here, huh?” He locks his fingers around Jaebum’s wrist and drags him out of the bathroom. Even if it hadn’t been ages since he last got laid, this is Jaebum. He doesn’t think he’s ever wanted anything this bad.
Jaebum’s been messy while everyone else is gone. His blankets are still spread out on the floor, and Jackson throws himself down, reaching up for Jaebum again. “Thanks for this, by the way,” he says, pulling at the collar of his sweatshirt. “Don’t think I didn’t notice.”
“You’re welcome,” Jaebum says, dropping to his knees next to Jackson. “I know you like the way I smell.”
He lets Jackson climb into his lap and push him down, pressing up as close as he can. Jackson’s always liked the intimacy of kissing, and it’s only worse with Jaebum, now that he’s been away. He can smell himself on Jaebum, still, but not nearly as strongly, and all it makes him want to do is pin him to the floor and rub all over him. “Shut up,” Jackson mutters. “You make it sound creepy.”
Jaebum pushes his hands up under the hem of Jackson’s sweatshirt. “I kinda like it,” he says, dragging his nails up Jackson’s ribs and smiling, pleased, when Jackson shivers and whines. “I’m like werewolf catnip.”
“Only for me,” Jackson says fiercely, straightening to rip his shirts up and over his head. He’s never had any patience with teasing. Shirt peeled off, he bends low again, licking deep into Jaebum’s mouth. He’s absolutely certain that he never wants to be anywhere else but right here, dizzy with Jaebum’s scent and flush with his warmth. This is absolutely perfect.
He curls his hands around Jaebum’s face and keens as Jaebum rakes his nails down his back. “Only for you,” Jaebum agrees. He squirms a hand down in between them to cup Jackson’s cock, and Jackson can almost taste his smile.
Nosing at Jaebum’s throat, Jackson grinds down into the touch, breathless and shaky. Doesn’t matter what Jaebum does, he always leaves Jackson too hot, and with his head spinning. “Good.”
When the friction gets to be too much, Jackson sets himself to ridding them of their clothes. He gets naked himself, and then turns to Jaebum. It takes him a moment to pull of his shirt, and then he tucks his fingers into Jaebum’s briefs and drags them down, drinking in the view. “Yeah,” he says, reaching out with a careful hand to stroke once up the length of Jaebum’s half-hard dick. “Yeah, I can work with this.”
Jaebum pulls him up again so that they’re nose to nose, and the slide of his cock against Jackson’s makes Jackson groan. “I’m so glad,” he says dryly, and Jackson nips at his jaw.
Jackson is so used to the way that his group lets him push them around, that sometimes he forgets that he’s not the only member with a little muscle. Jaebum locks his knees around Jackson’s hips and rolls them over, settling back on his thighs. “Whoa,” Jackson says. It’s not a complaint, though. There’s nothing he likes better than Jaebum holding him down, caging him in. He arches, trying to rub a little against the soft skin of Jaebum’s belly, and Jaebum laughs. “Touch me, damnit.”
“I think we both know better than that,” Jaebum teases, and when Jackson starts to flush, he leans down to close his teeth against his collarbones. Jackson shakes with each nip, cock twitching against Jaebum’s thigh. There’s no room for embarrassment when Jaebum’s hands are everywhere, thumbing over his nipple and dragging down his thighs. “I want you to get a chance to enjoy this.”
He only lets go of Jackson long enough to stretch over him, digging through his bag to come up with a condom and a bottle of lube. There’s no doubt that Jackson wants this, but...he still eyes it warily. “So,” he says, and he swallows.
Jaebum frowns, flattening one palm against Jackson’s belly. “Hey, it’s cool if you’re not up for this.”
“No,” Jackson says immediately, grabbing at Jaebum’s wrist, and Jaebum snorts. “Look, I kind of really want you to fuck me. I’ve, uh, just never done this before.” He laughs, though he’s not fooling Jaebum for a second. “I have no idea what I’m doing.”
There’s something really soft in the way that Jaebum looks down at him. “You’re a virgin?” he asks gently, teasingly, and Jackson punches him in the knee. “Relax,” Jaebum says. “You already came in your pants once. It can’t get much worse than that, right?” He’s still smoothing one hand against Jackson’s belly, making no move to do anything further, a smile playing on his lips.
“Keep your voice down,” Jackson groans, and after a moment, he spreads his legs a little further, raising his eyebrows in challenge. If there’s anyone he trusts with this, it’s got to be Jaebum.
That proves to be a pretty good idea, too. Jaebum opens him up slowly, deliberately, mouthing at the mark under Jackson’s jaw and jerking Jackson’s wilting hard-on. The stretch is strange and unfamiliar, and even as Jackson adjusts to the wet slide of Jaebum’s fingers inside him, he’s not sure he’s super into to it. “Okay?” Jaebum asks, and then he crooks his fingers up.
Jackson’s entire body arches up, white hot pleasure sparking up his spine. Oh, yeah, he definitely gets the hype now. “Okay,” he agrees, and he squirms down to meet the next thrust of Jaebum’s hand. “Like, super fucking duper okay. Do that again.”
He’s got to bite down on Jaebum’s shoulder to keep quiet as Jaebum pushes in a third finger, deliberate and focused. It all makes Jackson feel so hot, the weight of Jaebum’s gaze and the way that he takes his time, always careful, precise. “Please,” Jackson mutters, “please, c’mon, I’m gonna come.” Each stroke of Jaebum’s fingers up makes Jackson whine and sob, cock jerking against Jaebum’s thigh.
“Slow down,” Jaebum says, and he slides his fingers out, reaching for the condom. “You’re gonna miss the final act.”
Jackson grips Jaebum’s shoulders as he lines his cock up and pushes inside him, and for a moment, he forgets how to breathe. “Holy shit,” Jackson gasps, and Jaebum doesn’t stop, fucks in deep until his hips are pressed up against Jackson’s ass. It’s overwhelming in the best way possible, Jaebum hot and thick inside him, and Jackson drags Jaebum’s head down to kiss him sloppily. “Holy shit.”
“Yeah,” Jaebum agrees, and there’s something deeply satisfying about the way his voice shakes, his arms trembling as he holds still, waiting for Jackson to adjust. “Yeah.” He pulls out again and Jackson makes a noise like it’s punched out of him. It’s too much and not enough all at once, and he digs his heels into Jaebum’s thighs, urging him on.
It’s not long before Jackson’s so hard it aches and they’re not so much kissing anymore as panting into each other’s mouths. Jackson is beyond words, reduced to the little noises that escape from his throat with each stroke in. Jaebum pushes his face into Jackson’s shoulder, his breath shuddering hot against Jaebum’s chest, and Jackson pulls him closer, closer, closer. “Jaebum,” Jackson gasps, and Jaebum thrusts in just right, setting off fireworks behind Jackson’s eyes as he comes, earth-shatteringly hard and completely untouched.
Jaebum follows a second later with a grunt, collapsing on top of Jackson, uncaring of the mess between them. He’s heavy, but Jackson doesn’t mind it, idly petting at the sweaty hair at the back of Jaebum’s neck as he struggles to catch his breath. “Okay,” Jackson says, and Jaebum shifts just enough to eye him questioningly. “Okay. Yeah. I missed you.” That earns him a dig in the ribs and he groans, completely, and utterly content.
Jaebum’s alarm goes off at the crack of dawn, and it’s way too early. Jackson growls, turning his face into Jaebum’s chest and trying to ignore it. “Don’t wanna wake up,” he mutters, his nose precariously close to Jaebum’s armpit, and Jaebum shakes with laughter. “Make it stop.”
It takes a moment for Jaebum to shake off sleep, feeling around blindly for his phone. Jackson, of course, does nothing to help him find it. He’s pretty sure that’s his right, because every part of him aches. It’s a really good ache, the kind of thing he’ll be feeling all day. “Mmmm,” Jaebum says sleepily, dragging his thumb down Jackson’s bare hip again and again. “Morning.”
Jackson yawns and wrinkles his nose, grimacing. The entire room smells like sex, which could be because his nose is sensitive or because the whole room stinks like sex. That’s a satisfying thought. Less satisfying, though, is Jaebum. Even after last night, Jaebum still doesn’t smell quite right. Jackson rubs his nose into the soft skin of Jaebum’s ribs, making his way up towards his throat and chin. “What are you doing?” Jaebum asks, looking away from his phone to stare down at him, perplexed.
“You don’t smell like me,” Jackson says, mouth finding the spot behind Jaebum’s ear. “Gotta fix that.” Jackson shifts to sprawl across Jaebum’s chest and relaxes. It’s better now. He can’t distinguish between their scents, almost, and that’s just the way he likes it. He hums and lays his head on Jaebum’s chest, eyes sliding shut.
He’s about to doze off again, lulled by Jaebum’s heartbeat, when he realizes how still and quiet Jaebum’s gone. He rubs at his mouth and looks up at him. “What?” he asks. “Sorry, I know the wolf shit is kind of weird.”
Jaebum is staring at him, lips parted, and he looks absolutely thunderstruck. “Jaebum?” Jackson says slowly, trying to sit up. Jaebum looks like he’s having an absolute crisis, and Jackson’s stomach churns. If he’d known that Jaebum would react this badly in the morning, he never would’ve slept with him. “Are, uh, you okay?”
“I think I’m in love with you,” Jaebum says hoarsely, like a revelation, and Jackson makes a strangled noise. His heart is doing its level best to hammer its way right out of his chest. “I mean, I’m. I’m in love with you.”
Jackson straightens, one hand pressed to his forehead. “What?” he says. He scrubs at his eyes like he’s still asleep, like he’s dreamt all this up. “Wait, you think?”
Jaebum doesn’t laugh, which only feeds that hope bubbling up in Jackson’s gut. “No,” Jaebum says, shifting up to rest on his elbows. “No, I know.”
Before he even thinks about what he’s doing, Jackson’s lunging forward, a hand on either side of Jaebum’s head as he catches his mouth in a kiss. He only pulls away because he’s grinning too hard to kiss him anymore. “Me too,” he says, and Jaebum grips his waist and kisses him back. This close, Jackson can feel the way Jaebum’s heart races. It feels a little like freefall, the relief and the rush of finally having those feelings returned.
They stay like that for a moment, just breathing each other in, until there’s a knock on the door. “Time to get the kids up,” their manager calls, and Jackson spare a moment to be grateful that he doesn’t come in.
He butts his nose up against Jaebum’s cheek and frowns. “I don’t wanna get up,” he says again, and what he mostly means is ‘I want to stay right here forever’.
Jaebum tips his head just enough to brush his lips over Jackson’s, and Jackson can feel his smile. “We’ve got to go,” he says, making no move to push Jackson off him. If anything, he’s holding onto him just a little too tight, like he’s afraid Jackson will run, which is insane. It’s only Jaebum now, for him, and if he’s honest, it’s only ever been Jaebum. He slides his fingers across Jaebum’s ribs and leans close, just for one more moment.
“And here’s a question for you, Jaebum-ssi,” the host says cheerfully, tapping her little cue cards on her knee. “You just had your twenty third birthday, right? As you get older, what do you see for your future?”
It’s not like it’s not a question they’ve never gotten before. Jackson fidgets in his seat, blinking under the too-bright lights, and prepares himself to ignore the answer. These interviews are always so scripted and Jaebum always has the dullest answers, and he’s a lot more interested in the fluttery bedroom eyes the host keeps sending Mark’s way. He never notices these things. It’s amazing.
“I see myself with GOT7, of course,” Jaebum says smoothly, and his hand falls easily onto Jackson’s leg. “I didn’t always expect this was where I would end up, a singer, a leader of an idol group.” Jackson looks over at him, interest piqued. That’s a bit off the script. “I’ve spent years with these guys, training, studying, learning, performing, and, well. When I say that they’re my family, I mean it.” He glances at Jackson, and he smiles, just a little. Jackson claps a hand on his shoulder and flashes him a thumbs up. It takes too long for Jaebum to speak again, and when he does, he sounds thoughtful. “I couldn’t imagine a life without them.”
“It’s a good thing, too,” Yugyeom says, reaching over to squeeze Jaebum’s elbow. “Because we’re not going anywhere.” Jackson always likes the smile that Jaebum directs back at Yugyeom, fond and indulgent.
The interview moves on, with the host asking Mark something about his workout habits using thinly veiled come-ons. Next to Jackson, though, Jaebum has gotten quiet. It’s different from the months after debut, now they’re all pretty good at smiling for the camera and rattling off the right answer, they don’t need Jaebum to do all the talking for them. Still, that doesn’t mean that Jackson doesn’t notice the absence of it. He taps a finger against the back of Jaebum’s hand, still on his knee, and Jaebum nudges him back, shaking his head a little.
It doesn’t end when they get backstage again. “Hey,” Jackson says, raising his eyebrows. It always makes him nervous, when Jaebum pulls back into his shell, behind that cold and chic leader thing. “What’s the deal?”
“It’s fine,” Jaebum says, although that’s clearly not quite true. “Don’t worry about it.”
If Jackson was any good at this stuff, if he knew what the right question to ask would be, he wouldn’t be listening to Jaebum right now. He doesn’t, though, so he just purses his lips unhappily and says nothing.
Jaebum turns to Youngjae to help him with his warm-ups before their stage, and Jackson frowns, watching them. There’s a part of him that wonders, since Jaebum told him how he feels, if maybe he should know better how handle this kind of thing. They’ve known each other for so long, shouldn’t he know what to say by now? He pulls off his cap, runs a hand through his hair and sighs.
At least, it’s not just him. In the van ride home, Jaebum is back up in the front seat, forehead pressed against the window, watching the lights. He doesn’t pick up his phone once. Jackson crosses his arms over his chest, eyes fixed on the silhouette of Jaebum’s ear, and does his best to take Jaebum’s advice. Don’t worry. Sure. Right.
By the next day, it seems that Jaebum’s shaken it off, but Jackson’s still wary about him. Jaebum may have told him he loves him, but that doesn’t mean he can’t take it back. Jackson’s pretty sure that the whole werewolf thing would be a dealbreaker for just about anyone, so he still half-expects it from Jaebum, too. He wonders if there’s a word for getting cold feet about being bonded for the rest of your life to your werewolf bandmate. Probably in German.
After their final stage for the week, they head home early, for once, and Jackson full intends to get a full night’s sleep. While the rest of the group goes about their evening rituals, Jaebum settles himself on the couch with his legs folded up underneath him, tablet in his lap. Jackson’s got no idea what he could even have to get done, and he pulls a face when he sees the way that Jaebum presses his fingers against his throat. Pushed himself too hard, as usual.
He sets the kettle on while he’s brushing his teeth, so that when he’s out, he can make a cup of Jaebum’s usual tea to soothe his throat. Lots of honey, just the way that Jaebum likes. He takes care when he carries it out to Jaebum, so he doesn’t spill any. “Hey,” he says, covering his yawn with his free hand. “Don’t stay up too late, leader.”
“You made me tea,,” Jaebum says, surprised. “Thank you.” He takes a hesitant sip, and then raises his eyebrows. “Honey. You remembered.”
Jackson shrugs a shoulder, cheeks getting warm. “Yeah, whatever,” he says, and he hopes that none of the others come out in time to see it. He’s pretty sure they wouldn’t ever let him live it down. He’s not really sure when he got so soft.
He turns to go, and Jaebum stops him with a hand on his wrist. “Hey,” he says. “So, hypothetically speaking, if I said yes to this whole werewolf bonding thing, how would it happen?”
Oh. Jackson swallows, throwing himself down on the couch next to Jaebum. This is the kind of conversation that he wants to be sitting down for. “Well, um, Hyeri said it was pretty straightforward. As long as you consent and everything, all I have to do is mark you. It’s, um.” His flush deepens. “It’s like a claim, but permanent. A symbol, I guess.”
Jaebum licks over his bottom lip. “What if I wanted to claim you too?” he asks. Jackson has to wrestle down the hope rising in his chest. This is sounding less and less like hypotheticals and he wants it so bad. “Like a tattoo or something. It just seems fair that I would get to do that too.”
“I would do it,” Jackson says instantly, and he knows he sounds too eager, but he can’t keep it in. “I’d love that.” Since this whole imprint thing began, he’s liked the idea of marking Jaebum as his, sure. But the idea of being marked himself, of belong to Jaebum? He shivers.
There’s a smile growing on Jaebum’s face, slow and easy. “Would you?” he asks, like he hadn’t seen the way that Jackson had reacted to the hickey he’d left behind.
“I mean, yeah,” Jackson says, and he shrugs, doing a bad job of feigning nonchalance. “As long as it wasn’t something super tacky, like, I dunno. Like a great big heart that says ‘I love Im Jaebum’.” He pushes his lips out thoughtfully. “I think the fans might catch on to that one.”
Tablet left in his lap, Jaebum holds out his hand and Jackson takes it. “Darn, and I’d just gotten my hopes up, too.” Jackson likes the softness in Jaebum’s eyes right now, the sweetness of his smile. It makes him feel like his heart is gonna tapdance right out of his ribcage. “I thought for sure it was a winner.”
Jackson shifts forward on the couch until his knees bump up against Jaebum’s thigh. “I don’t care what it is,” he says honestly. “Doesn’t matter.” If it weren’t for the anchor of Jaebum’s touch, he’d probably be shaking. He bites his lip for a moment, and then pulls his shoulders straight. “Are you ready,” he asks, feeling reckless. “Do you want this?”
Jaebum smiles, crooked and sure. “I don’t know when it happened, but I stopped being able to imagine a life without Jackson Wang a long time ago” he says, and Jackson pumps his free hand in the air and whoops, careless of their sleeping groupmates.
Even with Jaebum’s tea in his hand, Jackson worms his way into Jaebum’s lap and he’s trembling, practically vibrating with the nerves and the happiness. “You won’t regret this,” he promises.
“No, I don’t think I will,” Jaebum agrees, and when he tips his head up to kiss Jackson, he tastes like honey and sweet tea.
The whole process only takes a few minutes, because the tattoo is small, and Jackson’s artist is skilled. “There you go,” the woman says, sliding her chair back so that Jaebum can peek over Jackson’s shoulder at the finished product. “All done.” She swipes an antiseptic across the tattoo before covering it with a bandage and walking Jackson through the basics of aftercare. It’s unlikely that he’ll have much of a problem, anyway, considering the position of it, small and just over his heart.
Jackson’s never been good with the whole patience thing, but he’s waited so long for this that he knows he can wait another day more. He doesn’t peel that bandage off until the next day, in the bathroom, when the edges of it are curling up and the new tattoo doesn’t even ache much anymore. “How does it look?” Jaebum asks.
Jackson turns around. “What do you think?”
The tattoo isn’t much at all. Jaebum had chosen it, something small and unobtrusive, not suspicious if the fans saw it. It’s a star. “The North Star,” Jaebum had said when he’d suggested it. “Because it will always lead you home.” Jackson had never heard a better idea in his life.
“Perfect,” Jaebum says, stepping forward. Gently, he presses his hand to Jackson’s chest, over the tattoo and over his heart. Jackson’s can hear the blood rushing in his ears. He reaches out in return, tracing fingers over the new mark on Jaebum’s shoulder. A perfect set of teeth, already healing up.
The instant Jackson touches Jaebum, it’s like there’s a shift, like something clicks into place in his chest, and in his mind. It takes him a moment to place the echo he hears, a steady rhythm just a fraction out of place with his own heartbeat. From the crease in Jaebum’s brow, he hears it too. It’s Jaebum’s heartbeat. He can hear him. “Whoa,” he says, breath catching in his throat. They don’t quite line up, but it’s clear and loud and it makes Jackson’s own heart speed up.
This is it. When he slides his hand down, hovering over Jaebum’s chest, it’s the strangest thing, feeling his pulse in his fingertips and in his own ribcage, as close as his own. There’s no going back now, they’re pretty inextricably linked for the rest of their lives. It’s not scary, like he thought he might be. Instead, everything feels...bigger. Like Jaebum just threw open every door in the world. He’s pretty sure that he will never feel as happy as he does right here, right now.
Jaebum pulls him forward, eyes closing as he presses their foreheads together. “Forever’s not so bad, huh?” he asks, and Jackson grins and pulls Jaebum to him.
“Forever’s gonna be great.”