"You can go first, I’ll do the closing."
"Okay, thanks, hyung !"
He took the back door of the café that led to the alleys they usually took to go back to the pack. They were dark and he could barely see anything but he wasn’t too scared. Not anymore. He knew he could defend himself if anything happened. He also knew that if he was too scared he could always brighten up his surroundings thanks to his powers.
Suho hyung told you that you shouldn’t worry. You’re safe here, Baekhyun. They are here for you.
Even though he was getting accustomed to his new lifestyle in Japan with the pack, with being a shape-shifter, with having superpowers and with working in a café as well as a music school part-time, he had to keep repeating reassuring sentences to himself.
He was sure Xiumin was trying to help him by sending him off alone. That way, Baekhyun could understand by himself that he was safe now, even when the pack members weren’t there.
He came to realize, as he continued on his path, that it didn’t contain any danger, that no monsters were hidden at the corners and that the shadows weren’t dangerous.
Taking a deep breath he walked, constantly reminding himself that everything would go as usual and that he wouldn't meet a single dishonest soul as they rarely frequented these alleys. In fact, people in general rarely did so.
Except, this monologue that he had been repeating to himself was sprinkled with lies.
Baekhyun stopped, unable to continue to breathe without the support of his moving legs. His ears had caught on sounds that weren’t supposed to be there, differing from the vent vibrations that usually inhabited the narrow paths: someone breathing in, breathing out, whining, groaning, crying?
He concentrated on the sounds, trying to understand what was happening. The person was clearly breathless. They have been running? If they aren’t moving anymore, does that mean the danger is gone? Or are they the danger? Should I go help? Ignore?
Then, he heard the person talk. He knew it was Mandarin - he had heard the Chinese members speak in their native language before – but he couldn’t understand what they were saying. From the intonations, he would have said they might have been cursing but then again, Mandarin is an expressive language.
He decided to go see. If there was any danger, he thought, he could always blind them and run away.
He followed the sounds to their owner and was stopped by a loud: "Don't get close to me!" The voice was pretty high pitched but Baekhyun still guessed it belonged to a man.
He heard him struggle, most likely wishing to distance the both of them even more.
"Hey, I don’t wanna hurt you. I just…I heard you and you sounded like you were having a tough time so I came to see. You okay?"
"If I sounded like I was having a tough time, then I am most likely not fucking okay."
"Then, I’ll help you..."
Baekhyun got closer and, as he saw the person wasn’t trying to move away, he went by his side.
With the little light that was illuminating the alley, he could guess a few of his facial features. The stranger was breathing heavily while staring at the Korean man with his dark eyes. His face was badly bruised. It was stained with dark spots and bumpy from the swelling of some. Baekhyun had thought at first that he had two shinners but had then realized that the man just had really prominent dark circles under his eyes twined with his aegyo sal.
"Shit…Does it hurt?"
"Are you fucking kidding me. It hurts like a bitch and I wanna cry."
"Maybe I can…"
He took a tissue he had on him and went to sponge the man’s head bleeding wound but the later grabbed his hand quickly and twisted it on his back.
"Don't touch me!" He wailed.
The grip was unbearably painful and Baekhyun wished for him to let go. He had understood he shouldn’t touch the new face but how would he be able to help him without doing so?
The hold on his arm loosened and he heard the Mandarin speaker fall on the ground. He turned rapidly to see what had happened and saw that the one who had brutalized him a few seconds before had lost consciousness.
I should bring him to Lay.
"Well, guess I’ll have no choice but to touch you, Mr. Stranger."
He took him in his arms - the poor boy was pretty light for his height - and carried him princess style all the way back to the pack.
When he arrived at the door that led to the hangar, he wondered how he was going to open the door when his hands were occupied but, as he heard the commotion inside and the quick footsteps that were approaching, he simply decided to wait.
The door opened to reveal a worried leader: "Baekhyun are you…" he didn’t finish his sentence as he saw the boy in his arms. "Oh my god, Baekhyun! What happened?"
"Sorry, but I'll have to answer your questions later, hyung."
Baekhyun might have been strong thanks to being a shapeshifter but he had been carrying the man around for a bit and he wanted to put him down. Suho apologized and let his dongsaeng enter. He was, then, again, stopped, this time by the other leader.
"You know we don’t permit humans to enter just like that, Baekhyun."
"Oh come on, Kris, can’t you see he’s injured."
"And what do you want us to do? He’s not our responsibility."
"You're heartless, Kris," Suho scolded him. The latter was surprised by his fellow leader's insensitive reaction but now wasn't the time to question it. "Let Lay heal him."
The Korean man gestured his boyfriend to take the boy. He did as he was told.
"How are we going to explain the guy that his wounds just magically disappeared?"
"We’ll just have to not heal him too much and make him believe that Lay just tended his wounds like some normal person that has basic first aid knowledge."
"Don't touch me!" Came their impromptu guest's scream.
The stranger had been laid on the couch and had awoken before Lay had started healing him. He was struggling to prevent the healer from touching him. Lay put a hand on his thigh while shushing him as he would do to a baby.
He put him to sleep.
Kris just sighed as he saw that Lay had already started healing the stranger. He sat down nervously and watched silently.
"Where did you find him?" Chen asked.
"He was in one of the alleys on my way back. I heard him cry so I went to see."
"So, he’s a complete stranger?" Kris interrogated him.
"Will you please stop," Suho reprimanded him.
"You’re acting more like a mom than Suho or even D.O here," Chen claimed, mocking the Chinese leader's unusual behavior.
"Do you know his name?" D.O asked, ignoring Chen's comment.
"Oh no, I didn’t think of asking. I’m pretty sure he’s Chinese though."
"How do you know?" Chen questioned.
"Please don’t make any racist comment," Kris demanded.
"Nah, I can’t think of any. I just heard him speak and recognized Mandarin."
"How do you know it wasn't Cantonese?"
"Does that really matter? Both are Chinese languages, no? Anyway, don’t Cantonese people usually add 'ah' at the end of their sentences?"
"I swear to god Baek..." Came Kris' exasperated sigh.
"Babe, can you help me here?" Lay suddenly asked and Baekhyun stopped smiling.
"Sure, my love, what can I help you with?"
Lay only reached for Suho and grabbed his hand. He was relying on his mate’s powers.
"He had several broken bones in his arms and legs and a broken rib. I have to fix that and his internal bleeding due to the rib breaking."
Baekhyun was impressed by the fact that, even with broken bones, the guy had enough strength to run away or even to twist his arm. He thought of what could’ve happened to the boy for him to be so badly injured and it sent shivers down his spine.
Chen, noticing his reaction, leaned to him and whispered in his ear, which made him jump out of his thoughts:
"You can go if you want. I’ll stay to make sure they treat him well."
Baekhyun reflected on the proposition for a couple of seconds but then answered his friend that was still looking at him :
"No, it’s okay. I’ll stay."
They all watched silently as Lay healed him.
Xiumin came back shortly after and, seeing that everyone was assembled around the couch in the back of the hangar, he wondered what was happening. Kris went to explain him sulkily that Baekhyun had brought a wounded Chinese stranger home and that Lay was healing him. The fragile man that was lying down on the pack’s couch was the center of attention.
Suho was resting his head on his boyfriend's shoulder while still holding his hand when he suddenly raised it only to ask D.O to prepare food for the boy since he thought their guest would probably be hungry when he would wake up. Kris, that had been shaking his foot nervously all this time, went to help him.
Lay stopped and rested his head on his boyfriend’s chest. "I think that’ll be enough.
"Yes, honey bear, you did more than enough."
He proceeded to kiss the latter's head.
Chen faked puking. God, these two can be cheesy.
They waited for the stranger to wake up.
Kris and D.O came back with food, mostly meat because D.O thought he would need proteins.
Baekhyun had had the time to fall asleep on Chen’s shoulder before the boy finally opened his eyes.
"Oh! He’s awake!" Lay announced and the boy jerked back whining.
"Nǐ shì shuí?" The said boy cried out in Mandarin.
Normally, Baekhyun and Chen would probably have laughed because of how cute the man acted but, seeing the legit terrified eyes of their guest, they reconsidered.
"Don’t worry, we don’t want to hurt you," Xiumin reassured him, addressing him in the same language, "our friend brought you back here because you were wounded and we healed you."
Xiumin gestured to Baekhyun and seeing the face of someone he’d seen before did nothing. He panicked and tried going even more back on the couch even though it was impossible to go further for he had already reached the wall after climbing on the piece of furniture.
"I don’t trust you!" He yelled but then looked at his arm that was resting firmly on the backrest of the couch and stared back at them, suspicious.
"If you keep breathing like that you’ll hyperventilate," Lay declared, "you should calm down."
He relaxed and sat back on the couch, still keeping his guard up.
He probably had just assumed Xiumin was the leader or something since he kept speaking to him:
"What do you want from me."
"We don’t want anything from you except maybe that you feel better soon and that you don’t attack us."
"I don’t believe you."
"That’s your choice. I won’t push the truth on you any more."
"What are they saying?" Suho asked his boyfriend since he wasn’t following the conversation, as it was in a language he didn’t quite comprehend.
"He thinks we want something from him and Xiumin-gē is explaining to him that we don’t."
"Listen," Xiumin continued, "if you want to leave: it’s your choice. We won’t restrain you from doing so."
"Now he said that he could go and that we wouldn’t keep him from doing so," the healer explained to his partner.
"Wait," the latter stopped him, "no! You should rest! We have food for you as well if you are hungry! You’re our guest, you can at least stay the night."
"Suho!" Kris opposed. "We don’t even know his name! Now he’s our guest and can stay over and steal our food?"
"I'm Tao and no, I won’t be staying over and stealing your food. Thank you for tending to my wounds." The boy spoke in English which slightly surprised them all.
He tried to raise himself from the couch but Suho pushed him back down:
"I insist. Don’t listen to this dumb cheese pile over there, he’s overprotective."
"You’re one to talk," Chen whispered in the back.
"We have enough food to feed you, don’t feel like you are bothering us."
"I insist." He stood up. "I’m not staying. Thanks again. Farewell."
He walked in direction of the hangar’s front door but the leader once again stopped him by saying: "At least let us walk you back to your house so we know you came back safely!"
Baekhyun felt his heart clench. He felt, no, he knew that if he had found the boy crying in an alley alone he probably had chosen not to go home or he would have gone there in the first place.
There was an awkward moment and Suho slowly understood what he had made a mistake. He wanted to use his powers at that moment and just drown himself but, gladly, Chen came to his aid:
"D.O here has no friends and has never had a sleepover so he would gladly want to see what it’s like."
He winced as he felt D.O pinch him. Oh god. I’m lucky this dude’s there and that he’s a guest. I could have been killed just now.
"It really doesn’t bother you?" Tao said timidly, most likely well aware of Chen's lies.
"Not at all," Suho smiled tenderly, happy that he didn’t have to drown himself.
Suho could hear Kris grumble in the back but he just continued smiling at Chinese boy.
"Well, if you’re gonna stay here then, we should introduce ourselves!" Xiumin started. "I’m Xiumin and I’m the eldest here. Some people like to call me Baozi as well because, apparently, I look like a bun. It’s nice to meet you."
Tao bowed to him while he heard a "you do look like a bun" from the next person to talk.
"I’m Chen, I’m Chinese like Xiumin-gē as well as Lay-gē that healed you and as this sulky person over there, Kris-gē." The last one he mentioned was physically his type, he thought. He looked like he hated his guts though so he would probably try to avoid him and sass him when he would be mean.
That sounded right.
"I’m Suho!" Said man beamed.
"We call him 'eomma' though," Chen added, "it means 'mom' in Korean. You can call him that if you want."
"You’re Korean?" Tao investigated.
"Yes! Actually, the three of us are."
He gestured to a man with big eyes and the other one that found him.
"That’s D.O and that’s Baekhyun."
"'That’s'," Baekhyun repeated, laughing.
"Sorry. He’s D.O and he’s Baekhyun."
"We call D.O 'eomma number two'," Chen commented.
"I see…Well, I’m Tao. My parents are Chinese but I grew up here, in Japan."
"Oh! You must be pretty fluent in Japanese then," Suho inquired.
"Well, we arrived here two years ago," Suho looked at Kris, unsure, "so our Japanese is pretty basic. We understand and can talk with others, but let’s say we wouldn’t write a book." He chuckled at what he just said and Tao returned it awkwardly.
There was a silence and as Tao was looking around not knowing what to do, Xiumin intervened by saying to Lay:
"He should probably rest, no?"
It took a moment for Lay to realize that his gēge was talking to him and when he finally turned to him he raised his eyebrows and went: "Huh? Oh! Yeah, yeah. He should rest."
"Kris’ll lend you PJs for you to sleep in since you’re basically the same height."
"Wait, Suho. I don’t want to lend him my clothes they are fucking expensive," the latter protested.
"It’s not like he’s going to ruin them and we’re not letting him sleep in those dirty rags. Anyway, we both know you don't sleep in PJs so stop whining."
"Here," Kris tossed his pajamas in Tao’s arms.
"Thank you very much," the latter answered.
"Yeah. You’re welcome."
"Hum…If I want to wash up..?"
"There’s a shower in the room to your left when you get out of here"
Kris started leaving but Tao stopped him. God, I wish I wouldn't be scared in front of him in particular but I can’t do anything about it.
"May I ask a service?"
"What do you want?"
Fuck you and your attitude, asshole. Wait no, try being cute, you need him for that.
"I’m scared to take showers alone."
"Then, take a bath."
Oh.My.God. You fucking dick.
"That’s not the problem."
"Listen, I don’t feel like showering with a stranger."
The taller man wouldn't even look at him when he spoke.
Tao tried his best to seem cute and not show on his face that he actually wanted to kick the dude in the balls. Kris, who had turned to look at him, sighed:
"Is standing outside okay?"
"Yes, sure! Thank you very much."
And so, Tao went in the shower and Kris waited for him outside, hating himself for succumbing to the boy’s cuteness. His pleading look had been so adorable that he even thought of agreeing to his first request if Tao had insisted more.
He sighed again. It seemed like sighing had been the only activity he had practiced that day.
"What’s with that sigh?" Baekhyun, who had just entered the living room of the first floor, giggled.
The floor was supposed to be occupied by the Chinese members of the pack, although, as Suho was sleeping with Lay, it wasn’t the case anymore. Not like it had ever been.
"Your friend is making me stay in front of the bathroom while he showers."
Baekhyun didn’t laugh. He knew what it was to be scared of the world and of the things that lived in it to the point that even showering alone was a terrifying thought. Instead, his expression showed pity.
"Do you want me to take over the watch?" He proposed.
"That would be very nice."
Baekhyun sat down next to the door and waited for their showering guest to come out while Kris went back to the others.
What happened to you, buddy?
Tao finally came out after a pretty short shower.
"You could’ve taken longer if you had wanted to, you know?"
"No, didn’t feel like it."
"Alright. So, for tonight we have a guest room so you can sleep there if you want. And we have couches as well…Except, I don’t think Suho will let you sleep on a couch."
Oh god, why must I be such a scaredy-cat?
"Or you can sleep with me if you want. I don’t mind." Tao looked up to Baekhyun with hopeful eyes.
"Oh my god, thank you."
"Oh! Hum...What- What do I do with my clothes?"
Baekhyun looked at said clothes: they were ripped and stained with blood.
"They are...quite ruined, don’t you think? Do you still want to keep them?"
Tao liked his clothes even though he didn’t attach any emotional value to them. They were nice and expensive but as they were completely ravaged –and not in a fashionable way - he decided that it was better to throw them away. They were, after all, something that would only bring back bad memories.
"Okay! Well then, let's put them in the trash."
They took the stairs that led to the second floor and Baekhyun escorted him to his room not forgetting to show Tao the kitchen, that was just on the left when they entered, and the bathroom. They threw the Chinese boy's clothes away and went to bed keeping sufficient distance between them for it not to be too awkward.
When Baekhyun started whining, minutes after they had gone to bed, Tao jolted. He had gotten used to the silence of the room and the smaller man had just broken it. Far from being mad, he had asked him if he was okay. As he didn’t get any answer, he turned around and acknowledged the Korean man's sleeping state.
What he assumed was a sleeping habit amused him and, without noticing he calmed down; he hadn't even realized he had been tensed.
He closed his eyes thanking life for making the Korean man find him in that alley. He wasn’t stupid. He knew he wouldn’t have been able to make the night alone.