Words, words, words. So many words.
The tiny letters on the textbook began to blur together as a dull ache on his temples throbbed insistently. Taeyong had been reading the same paragraph over and over again, losing focus after the second sentence and forgetting all about the first, in hopes that something would engrain into his memory. With a groan of defeat, Taeyong leaned the chair back dangerously, carding his hands through the faded blue strands that fell into his eyes.
It had been only two, maybe three hours since he sat down in the library to revise yet the male felt like he was already running on 5 watts. Taeyong’s attention was called elsewhere when subtle vibrations ran through the table and under his palm. Grabbing the forgotten phone, he winced at the notification– “Taeilmato 🍅 - Missed calls (5)”
I’m never going to hear the end of this.
Whenever exam season rolled around, the blue haired male would hold himself up in the library where it was (obviously) quieter; arguing that he found himself to be more productive when subconsciously peer pressured by other focused people. This is where Taeil, a beloved brother-figure who happened to also be his nosy neighbour, was to call and break the student out of the hyper-focused trance he often fell into.
“You’re insane.” Taeil had both hands on his hips when he spotted the younger wobble back home just the night before, “There’s no point in stomping harder on the gas when the engine is on fire, you’ll crash and burn.”
Taeyong had dismissed the analogy until it came back to bite his ass today in the form of one mind splitting headache. Nothing he read was processed and an energy boost was desperately needed if he were to pick up on his revision later at home. Shoving all his books and stationary into the worn out bag, Taeyong typed a quick apology to Taeil as he jogged down the stairs out into the busy street.
All it took was a 5 minute walk from the library and a little coffee shop came into view. The warm yellow lights streaking out from the windows appeared brighter in contrast to the darkened sky above. Taeyong walked faster, drawn to it like a moth to a flame. He could already smell the roasting coffee beans before stepping in yet was caught off guard when the scent hit him at full force as he pushed the door open.
“Welcome!” called out a barista, popping out from behind the counter at the tinkle of the bell above the entrance, “Oh wow, you look dead.”
A soft scoff left Taeyong’s lips, “Hi Doyoung.” No matter how many times the student frequented the shop, he would never tire at the sight of its owner. Ever since Taeyong stumbled upon the shop, it had been a heaven on earth. Not only did it come with great treats, but he also had the pleasure to meet one of its angels. His eyes trailed the younger’s face, from the curve of his sharp eyes to the frown overtaking his adorable smile.
“Were you studying?” Doyoung tore his eyes away from the dark circles forming under Taeyong’s eyes as the other nodded, “So no green tea. Coffee then, I assume?” As usual, the barista guessed his order without as much as a peep from the elder. Doyoung was attentive in a way that might scare others, as he had once confessed in one of their short exchanges, but that further piqued Taeyong’s interest in the icy male.
The barista’s soft voice reciting his order slowly filled his brain with the softest of clouds and having it lull him into a nap sounded amazing. For now, the male would only nod– Keeping quiet seemed to be the best option else he might say something too honest, like how Doyoung’s hands look like they’d fit his perfectly.
“Hazelnut latte with an extra shot of espresso for Taeyong.”
With a shake of his head, the fuzzy clouds of thought broke away and Taeyong found himself leaning on the pick up counter with no recollection of when he got there. A low chuckle came from the dark haired barista at his visible confusion, sliding the cup and a paper bag across.
“I didn’t order this.” the elder stated, peering into the brown bag. Half a dozen pink cookies stared back at him and his mouth watered. They were the shop’s famous strawberry macarons– coming a close second on Tayeong’s list of favourite sweet things. An eyebrow arched on the customer’s face when Doyoung cleared his throat, refusing to meet his eyes.
“They’re on the house. You’ll need the energy if you’re going to study again at home.” A pink tint crept onto Doyoung’s cheeks as Taeyong’s gaze lingered on as his brain lagged a few seconds behind. A second more and the barista snapped, grabbing Taeyong’s hand to manually wrap his fingers around the bag. “Aish! Just take them and go!”
The corners of Taeyong’s mouth pulled upwards into a bright smile that brought life back to his face, leaving with a promise to pay the barista back for the sweet treat and new knowledge that Doyoung’s hands indeed felt perfect around his.
◑ ━━━━━ (U・ᴥ・U) ━━━━━ ◐
It’s a Saturday for god’s sake .
The footsteps had been going on for half an hour now– pacing left, then right, then left again. Taeil lifted his cup to take another frustrated sip of tea only to find it empty. Grumbling, he placed his red pen down from where he had been grading worksheets to knock on his neighbour’s door.
“Taeyong!” the door cracked open before his fist could land another hit.
“Oh, Hyung. What’s up?”
“I could hear you worrying.”
The younger laughed timidly and the bud of annoyance in Taeil quickly wilted away. He welcomed the redhead inside and brewed some tea while the other settled in the living room. He quickly noticed the open laptop sitting on the coffee table, the logo of Taeyong’s university displayed on the corner of the webpage above “Results to be announced soon.” written in a large font.
Taeil glanced at his phone; as he guessed, it was only 3 in the afternoon, “When do your results come out?” asked the man when the student returned from the kitchen with two steaming mugs.
Taeyong chewed on his lip, looking painfully guilty as Taeil took a slow sip, “At 7?”
“That’s still four hours away.”
“I know! I’m just really nervous.” Taeyong’s leg bounced against the floor before the redhead stopped it with a hand on his knee. The younger’s lips curved further downwards as Taeil shot him a sympathetic look.
“You’ll do great, Yongie. You studied so hard,” he spoke in the softest tone he could manage, usually reserved for the kids at the kindergarten, “I almost had to haul your butt back home, remember?”
A shiver ran down Taeyong’s spine when the grip on his knee tightened for a brief second. The earful he got that night replayed in his mind as he nodded obediently, “I know...But I’m so-” he waved his hands around in the air in a vague description that had Taeil more confused than before, “I can’t stop thinking about it.”
“Maybe distract yourself?” Taeil’s hand on Taeyong’s knee retracted to tap on his chin. Something to do , the elder’s eyes scanned the room for any hidden inspiration. “How about…” A green object caught Taeil’s attention and the bulb above him lit up with a ding. “The dog park?”
“The dog park.” Taeyong repeated, casting a questioning look. But the longer he thought of it, the more contemplative his expression grew.
The next time Taeil entered Taeyong’s apartment, a little friend was waiting for him. Standing just below his hip, the Australian Shepherd buzzed with energy, if his feet tapping on the ground was any sign. The elder wasted no time to coo at the pup; He was already soft for Taeyong but he was a goner for those crystal clear blue eyes staring up at the human until he noticed the collar in its mouth.
The collar was a gift from his mother and to say he loved it was an understatement. The green of the material had faded with years of use. On it was Taeyong’s name, carved into a coin-sized tag along with a phone number; It used to be his parent’s number back when he was a pup, but now it has been replaced with Taeil’s.
The elder looped the collar around the Aussie’s neck, scolding Taeyong when he wiggled too much from his lack of a tail. Like most of his friends, the younger didn’t need a leash but it was common courtesy to be on one as the two approached the dog park. His keen ears picked up the different barks and people speaking which added more fuel to his burning excitement.
Taeil huffed after holding onto the leash with all his might when Taeyong had been seconds away from running off, chuckling at the dopey grin on the Aussie’s face.
“Okay, okay, hold on.” the click of the metal hook coming off led Taeyong to bark, jumping on his hind legs to give Taeil a final lick of goodbye before he dashed off first. Chuckling, he casted one more look at the pup before retreating to his favourite spot; he usually opted to sit on the sidelines, content with supervising him from the benches where the trees shaded him from the afternoon sun.
Since it was a weekend, the park was especially packed. So many friends to play with, who to choose? The grey Aussie decided to stroll around the fenced area, scouting both the new and old visitors. A flash of brown darted past him, and another as Taeyong blinked to find a Corgi whizzing through the park with an equally quick German Spitz on its tail. Big and small dogs alike mingled and played in the grassy area. The last time Taeyong visited the place was with Jaehyun and Johnny– so the pup sat a little awkwardly now that he was there alone.
As he decided to approach a group of dogs, it hit him. A small whiff. So familiar yet Taeyong couldn’t put a paw on it. It was heavy and rich, mixed with something so human .
The Aussie shot up from the grass and pointed his nose up high, running faster when the scent began to slip from his grasp. When it faded from the air, Taeyong bent down low to sniff the grass. It was much stronger, meaning they were nearby. He chased after the trail faster and faster until it had him crashing against an unwavering obstacle.
The collision wasn’t hard enough to hurt but Taeyong still wobbled backwards onto his tush. A shadow casted over him and the male found himself frozen under a pair of sharp piercing eyes; Paired with its tall stature and jet black fur, the Dobermann was no less of a beauty. You couldn’t blame the pup for staring.
The canine stalked around him in a poised manner, poking his nose near Taeyong’s neck as a small curious whine sounded from the Aussie’s throat. His feet dug at the soil below in an attempt to hold them back from tapping– it’s not everyday that you’d find another weredog in the neighbourhood so his excitement was more than justified. The small distance between them allowed Taeyong to relish in the other’s scent.
He must really like coffee.
When the Dobermann returned to stand before him, Taeyong took his chance to bend down on his front legs in invitation. Play? A wide grin crept across his face, sticking his tongue out with a cheeky tilt of his head. The other paused in thought before returning the gesture, mirroring his position and groaned in reply.
I won’t go easy.
The Aussie wagged at the challenge. Everyone knows the first rule of a playfight– Don’t let your guard down. Taeyong pounced forward, his hind legs kicking with enough force to take the large black dog down. The series of barks and playful growls merged with one another as the two rolled around on the grass. The Dobermann ended up with his back on the ground and the other on top, nipping at Taeyong’s ear with a dog’s equivalent of a laugh.
Tag you’re it.
Taeyong jumped off the Dobermann before he had a chance to get up. The Aussie was careful to move away from the smaller pups, weaving between the other clueless park visitors. A handful of them, both humans and dogs alike, grew either excited or terrified at the game of tag. Yelps followed as Taeyong left a gush of wind when he ran in between a visitor’s legs, too preoccupied with his heart pounding harder and harder to notice the trail he left behind.
The Shepherds had been built for herding and Taeyong knew he was easily one of the fastest among his friends, but apparently not fast enough. A dark shadow crept along the corner of his eye, a shot of surprise running through him to find the Dobermann had caught up and was running next to him. With a swerve, the larger canine sent them tumbling down again.
Even the lush grass couldn’t soften the fall. A small pain registered on the Aussie’s left shoulder as the two ended up in the same position, only Taeyong was lying on the bottom with his belly exposed. A victorious bark was heard above him but was quickly bitten back when the Dobermann heard the male’s hurt whines.
What happened? Are you okay? A nose poked at the area where Taeyong tried to reach the wound with his tongue, relieved he wasn’t met with blood. Added with the speed they were going at, the fall was strong enough to leave a bruise.
Ow! The Aussie yowled when a rough tongue licked at the wound. He whimpered in protest, swatting at the Dobermann with his free paw. An annoyed grunt returned the gesture– if a dog could roll his eyes, Taeyong reckoned that’s what the other was doing. More growls came from the black dog; So not only was he hurt, but the Dobermann was nagging at him too.
Speaking of nagging, a striking head of red could be seen shooting up from the benches. Taeyong could already hear Taeil’s voice in the back of his mind but he couldn’t care much when his view was obstructed by a worrywart licking up his face in an apology. Stop! It tickles! Taeyong pushed at the Dobermann’s chest, urging the dog to look down, his head tilted in inquiry.
The words (or more accurately, an attempt at them) fizzled out of his brain as they locked eyes. The sharpness in those brown pupils thawed away and Taeyong could almost recall a face with the exact same ones before a loud yell crushed the moment. Both dogs perked up at the voice as Taeil screeched to a halt at a safe distance away from them, eyeing the Dobermann, “Taeyong! Are you okay?”
Relief washed over the human’s face as the Aussie rolled back onto his legs, shaking anything that might have gotten stuck to his back before joyfully padding to the redhead. The sting had subsided to a mere inconvenience yet Taeil had no plans on letting him walk home. Despite his howls of protest, the pup was lifted into the air with a huff.
Your back will break, Hyung. The younger grunts even if the other couldn’t understand.
“I’m taking you home, right now.” Taeil groaned from the weight but the stern tone had Taeyong barking softly in acceptance. Before they turned to walk out of the park, Taeyong glanced over the elder’s shoulder to find his new found friend sending one last woof at him.
I’ll see you again.
“You had fun?” the elder pushed the door close behind him with a foot before letting the pup down. Taeil truly was a man of his words– Having actually carried the conveniently large pup all the way back to the apartment, giving the Aussie enough time to wonder about the Dobermann. Along the way, Taeyong voiced his thoughts to Taeil who nodded anyway, following each of the dog’s sounds with an attentive “uh-huh” or “oh wow.”
“It’s good you made a new friend. Although you should be more careful next time.” The elder raised a finger, crouching down to his knees and patting it to call the pup over, “You better get that wound checked after you shower. Here, let me take your collar off-”
The Aussie tilted his head when a curious expression drew onto Taeil’s face. The elder ran his hands through the thick fur around Taeyong’s neck once, then twice with his eyebrows slowly knitting together.
“Taeyong, where’s your collar?”
◑ ━━━━━ (U・ᴥ・U) ━━━━━ ◐
To no one’s surprise, Taeyong’s results were nothing short of incredible. Taeil was there with him when the notification pinged at 7 sharp. Yet as the male stared longer at the screen, his mind continued to go back to the missing weight around his exposed neck.
“We can go back tomorrow. It probably fell off when you were playing, someone must have spotted it.” Taeil massaged the tension out of his shoulders, offering a gentle smile, “We’ll find it.”
But they didn’t.
After circling the park two times, checking every nook and cranny, Taeyong and Taeil ended up empty handed. Jungwoo and Jaehyun lended their noses as well but none of them could sniff out the faded green collar.
“Oh Yong,” Taeil stroked down Taeyong’s back as the four walked away from the park, “I know how important it was to you, but maybe it was time to get a new one.”
Taeyong deflated with a sigh. Fortunately, Jungwoo stepped in to sound out what was on the male’s mind, “It’s not that easy, Hyung. Remember when Jaehyun broke his favourite bone? A dog doesn’t just get a new one .” The youngest bent his fingers to form air quotes, earning an understanding nod from the redhead; That’s what Taeyong loved about Taeil, that he had been so open to learning about him and the others.
The group eventually parted ways with Jaehyun back to his shop, Jungwoo and Taeil back to the kindergarten to prepare for tomorrow, and Taeyong was once again walking the streets alone; Although it did come with a bit more convincing as the three were reluctant to leave the blue haired male to sulk all by himself. A little into his aimless strolling, Taeyong had begun to regret his decision before realizing that his feet had brought him to his little safe haven.
Staring through the clear window, the place was having one of its more peaceful days with only a handful of customers. The scent of coffee beckoned the male inside; Taeyong could really use a treat right now, all the sulking and running around drained his body. Pushing the door open, his arrival was announced by the bell.
“Welcome! Oh, Hi hyung!”
“Jisung,” he ruffled the head of brown and blonde streaked locks until the younger backed away with a grin. “Yeah, I really need a sugar fix right now.”
“Doyoung-hyung isn’t here yet.” Jisung stated, having caught the slight disappointment in Taeyong’s tone upon entering. The elder paused in the middle of reciting his order and the boy didn’t need to look up from the tablet to know his face was heating up.
“Who said I was looking for him?” Taeyong crossed his arms with a huff.
A laugh bubbled out of Jisung, earning him another ruffle of his hair, “But he was looking for you though.”
Me? Why would Doyoung be looking for him anyways? Before Taeyong could ask, someone cleared their throat behind the blue haired male, urging him to hurry up. Jisung bit back his tongue and got to work, handing the receipt to the elder with a cheeky smile.
Since it wasn’t as packed, Taeyong opted to eat his snack inside the coffee shop for a change. Usually he’d get them for take away to indulge in the comfort of his home away from the hustle and bustle of rush hour but that always came at a heavy price of not getting to see a certain barista for a bit longer. And on the day he did stay, the object of his interest wasn’t there. Fate was truly a cruel mistress.
Choosing a corner in the farthest end of the shop, Taeyong slumped into the cushioned chair with a finger tracing the rim of his cup. Jisung approached not long after with a plate of his re-heated cookies, offering the elder a thumbs up and a hesitant pat on the back.
“Cheer up Hyung, I’m sure it’ll be alright.” He didn’t want to pry on what Taeyong was going through, but the boy couldn’t stand the sight of anyone being down. A sigh left the elder’s lips as he eyed the plate– more specifically, the little brown molten goops that sat on the cookies. When Taeyong thought his day wouldn’t get any worse, they just had to run out of his favourite strawberry macarons thus he settled for chocolate chips.
No collar, no Doyoung, no macarons. Great.
“Please don’t eat too much.” What an odd thing to say to a customer, Taeyong wondered as Jisung shot him a pleading look, “You know what it does to people like us.”
Being in the intersection between the venn diagram of canine and human, Taeyong and the rest of them weren’t immune to some side effects that came with being a dog. Where most of them avoided chocolate, he enjoyed the bittersweet delight, even if it meant rendering the bathroom occupied for the next few hours. Jisung gave one last look of warning, as if he had read Taeyong’s mind, before the boy shuffled back to work.
Time passed and the blue haired male was reaching for his fifth cookie when a sharp sting came down on his hand.
“Ow!” Taeyong yelped, clutching his hand close. He was already having a pretty bad day, at least let him snack guiltily in peace. Mustering up his nastiest glare, Taeyong whipped his head at the perpetrator.
“You know you shouldn’t be eating that.” Doyoung’s voice sliced through his surprised daze, cold and sharp. Instead of a brown apron, he was dressed in a grey sweater and skinny black jeans that did lean physique wonders– not that Taeyong was staring.
“Why not?” Taeyong’s question went ignored as the male silently took the seat across from him, bending down to dig at something from his bag. When the younger sat back up, a tupperware came sliding across the table.
“Eat these instead.” Taeyong barely caught the container as eyed Doyoung who beckoned him to get on with it, eyes casted to the crowd outside as he cautiously opened the lid. Inside sat six pink macarons with a hefty layer of cream piped in between them, neatly arranged to fill the container.
Upon realizing what they were, the male’s mouth fell open in a small gasp, “Thank you?”
“You don’t sound so sure.”
“No! I really mean it.” Taeyong’s heart fluttered as Doyoung’s facade cracked, his stern face breaking into a fond smile that felt like sunlight caressing the petals blooming in his chest. “Thank you.”
The words came out with a breath of air that had him blushing with how dreamy it sounded. Doyoung wasn’t unaffected either, eyes widening for a brief second before darting away.
“Did you make these for me?” Hope itched in the corners of Taeyong’s mind that maybe, just maybe, Taeyong was special in Doyoung’s eyes. He took one of the macarons and nibbled on them to occupy his mind when a pregnant pause settled on the two-person table.
A slow nod came from the dark haired male after what felt like an eternity, “Jisung texted me that you were in the shop.” So I came here as fast as I could , Doyoung bit back as Taeyong’s eyes flashed with mirth.
“Did he tell you about my chocolate allergy too?” The blue haired male eyed him curiously. He set down the half eaten macaron to cheekily pick up a cookie as Doyoung glowered at him. Not one to back down, Taeyong was set on eating it until Doyoung’s hand gripped his wrist, teeth snatching the treat out of his fingers.
“I told you don’t eat it.” Taeyong’s eyes turned into saucers, staring on as Doyoung chewed in irritation. “And no, he didn’t.” The dark haired male rummaged through his bag for a second time while Taeyong was still rendered speechless. His skin still tingled where Doyoung grabbed it– seeing the younger pissed had his going a hundred miles an hour. God he hoped it didn’t awaken anything in him.
Taeyong’s train of thought was put on hold when he spotted the faded green collar in Doyoung’s hands.
“You found it!” The elder shot up from his seat, alerting some of the customers to which Doyoung bowed in apology to. He traced the lines of his name carved into the metal tag when it was handed to him and slowly, Taeyong’s radiant smile returned, infecting Doyoung as well.
“It came off cause you rolled around too much.” The younger’s lips quirked upwards as he snatched the macarons away. Taeyong whined but slowly calmed down as the missing pieces began to click together in his mind; Doyoung’s grin grew when he pinpointed the exact moment the cogs in his head started turning in the right direction.
“Hey wait, we rolled around too much. You tackled me!”
At that, the smile fell from Doyoung’s face as he leaned forwards, his delicate eyes taken over by concern. “Does it still hurt?”
The blue haired male shook his head. Lately, those frowns had overstayed their time on Doyoung’s face; Taeyong’s hands itched to cup the younger’s cheek and manually tug his lips up to a smile.
“You kissed it better, remember?” The words came with a playful grin, recalling how the Dobermann wasted no time to lick at the minor wound. Heat rushed to Doyoung’s cheeks as trembling eyes looked everywhere other than the person before him. Taeyong took the chance to grab the macarons back with a tongue sticking out in taunt.
Now that the cat’s out of the bag, it was as if a weight lifted off their shoulders. Taeyong felt closer to the male in a way– one less secret to hide from each other but now more questions popped up.
"How did I never notice?"
“Maybe because your sense of smell is terrible.” The younger flinched when a foot kicked his shin underneath the table, “Okay! Our coffee is strong enough to cover up our scents, including those from our customers. So I didn’t know about you until the dog park either.”
“Why? Only we can smell each other.” Taeyong pursed his lips, pondering over what he just said when the customer next to them casted a wary side glance.
“It’s to prevent any unwanted...attention.” Doyoung frowned from the lack of a better term. Just like humans, not all weredogs were the best of people. Some allowed their instinctual animal side to overpower the logical humane side– Leading them to be more violent, more aggressive, more territorial.
"Unwanted attention?" Taeyong's eyes widen and he points a wary finger at himself.
"What? No!" Doyoung shook his head profusely, dark hair bouncing with each turn.
"Am I wanted attention then?"
Taeyong threaded his words carefully. His attempt to fill the silence by eating was spoiled when his hand reached into the container, only to find crumbs. To add to his distraught, Doyoung’s hand reached forward to swipe a thumb over his lips as the red in his cheeks grew darker in shade.
“You eat like a child.” grumbled the younger. He sure had a habit of dismissing Taeyong’s words, but the blue haired male allowed it if it meant getting to see more more sides to this flustered version of the male.
A hum of thought left the elder, brainstorming ways to prod at the right buttons, before Doyoung cut him off, “Are you free tonight?”
“I said,” he spoke slower, “Are you free tonight? I want to make it up to you for hurting your shoulder.”
The excuse had Taeyong chuckling, “Are you making up reasons to ask me on a date?”
“Aish-” Doyoung’s frown flipped into a scoff of disbelief, barely concealing the smile peeking behind his hand, “Shut up. Yes, I’m asking you on a date. Do you want to go or not?”
Taeyong made a pleased noise as he pulled out a pen from his bag. It took all of his willpower to stop his feet from tapping on the ground when Doyoung’s face lit up as he handed the napkin with his number scribbled on it.
“I would love to. Text me after your shift?”
◑ ━━━━━ Bonus ━━━━━ ◐
Hyung !! I found my collar !!
AND the doberman from the park
I knew he was one of us
And he asked me out tonight!
Ahhh i'm so nervous ><;;
Taeilmato 🍅, 17:07
I'm so happy for you!
Have fun on your date :D
I will! o(≧▽≦)o
Moon Taeil, 17:07
So you finally asked him out ;)
Please don't tease me.
Moon Taeil, 17:09
I’m glad your plan worked out
Though you could’ve just given me the collar asked him out in person
S M H
You’re not planning to tell him, right.
Moon Taeil, 17:09
Maybe in the future when you two get together
Moon Taeil, 17:12
Free cinnamon rolls for a week if you don’t tell him.
Moon Taeil, 17:13