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Any Time Soon

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The first time they cross paths is on a Thursday night, when Yoongi steps out of his car well after sunset, having spent somewhere near fourteen hours in his studio. He had a tendency to hole himself up in there, blocking out the rest of the world while he carefully crafted tracks out of the tiniest bits and pieces. Tonight, though he’d been in sort of a block and spent most of his time counting the pixels in his monitor, was no different.

A chilly night breeze nestles up against his cheek and he shakes it off as quickly as he can, hastily locking his car and scurrying up the pathway to his building. The soles of his shoes scuff against the pavement, the sound quietly echoing off of the array of similar buildings as the rubber is worn down further. All he wants is to get back to his own apartment, to his own bed, to take just a quick power-nap, hopefully refresh his mind enough to actually be able to work on a track instead of huffing and pouting at his screen for hours on end.

He's halfway up to his steps before he glances up, just to make sure he doesn't trip over them like he's wont to do when he’s heading in from these late nights, and that's when he spots it. Or, rather, him.

A dog.

Well, a hybrid.

A dog hybrid.

A very thin dog hybrid sitting on the steps just in front of the door.

A very thin, almost sickly-looking dog hybrid with wild, unkempt hair that — even with only the aid of a buzzing street lamp and the moonlight — is clearly filthy, and large, floppy ears that are perked up to attention. His eyes are wide, lips slightly ajar, bony hands frozen as they clutch the step he sits upon, as if he's just as shocked to see Yoongi as Yoongi is to see him.

Yoongi vaguely remembers hearing chatter about a stray hybrid that's been loitering around their community, shying away from anyone who tried to come near. Some people had suggested calling Control, but decided against it due to apparent lack of threat, and, quite frankly, the fact that services like Control don't take shoddy city communities like theirs seriously.

Strays just exist in the city, they say. They'll come and go. Just let it be.

Their gazes stay locked for a few long seconds, neither of them daring to move a muscle in quiet fear of the other’s reaction, until Yoongi clears his throat. He wasn’t planning on speaking, but the way he kicks into gear almost makes him think he was. The hybrid scrambles to hop off of the steps, fleeing into the darkness between the buildings and leaving Yoongi with nothing but a blurry glimpse of his matted tail.

Yoongi momentarily keeps his eyes trained on the space where the dog had vanished into, wondering if maybe his sleep deprivation had caused him to hallucinate the entire event. He wants to lean towards that conclusion, but his brain won't let him believe he could imagine that degree of gauntness in someone’s cheeks, or that type of cold fear in their eyes.

With a heaving sigh, Yoongi trudges forward again, climbing the steps where the hybrid had sat. Something in his mind compels him to reach down and place his palm on the landing, just for a moment.

He definitely can't just be imagining the lingering warmth on the concrete.

———————

Their second encounter comes eleven days later, almost equally as late on a Monday night, after Yoongi had mostly forgotten about the prior one. It kind of stuck with him for a few hours the next day, but a few minutes in the studio and the fact that seeing a stray really wasn't anything special quickly pushed it out of his mind.

He’d spent nearly the same amount of time in his studio, glaring at the ingredients of a track on his screen, before Namjoon had finally rescued him from his own personal Hell. The younger had practically yanked him out of his chair and proclaimed that they were going to a bar to de-stress right this minute, to which Yoongi had questioned, though they’d been out together many a time, if he was even old enough to get in. He’d also complained about the idea of going to a bar on a Monday night, but Namjoon didn't budge.

Of course, come the end of the night, Yoongi did admit to having a good time, and certainly was grateful for the distraction. As much as he grumbled when he was as exhausted as work made him, he was glad people like Namjoon saw through that and gave him the chance to actually be him.

Yoongi steps out of his car in the parking lot of his building later, having sobered up enough to drive safely, the warmth of his good mood keeping his cheeks safe from tonight’s breeze. He tightly clutches the bag of fast food he’d acquired on a whim on his way home as he locks his car, then shuffles onto the pathway. His gait is lighter than it had been the past few days, but the bottoms of his shoes drag against the pavement either way.

As he rounds the corner to the short path leading to his steps, he looks up to the stairs and is stopped in his tracks. There, once again, sat on his steps, is him.

Dressed in the same sweatshirt and dirty jeans, with seemingly more knots in his hair and another few days’ worth of grime coating his skin, is the hybrid. Again, his ears are perked up, clearly on high alert, his body language resembling a textbook clip-art for fight or flight. He stays stock still, watching Yoongi closely, trying to decide which one he’ll have to use.

However, while Yoongi holds his breath and examines the situation, the harsh-yet-dim light reveals to him that the dog’s eyes aren't meeting his. In fact, they're locked onto a spot a few feet below his eye-line, just to his left. He follows the line of sight down to his hand, which holds the bag of still-hot fast food.

Oh.

This time, when Yoongi clears his throat, the hybrid jumps and meets his gaze, but he doesn't immediately bolt. Tentatively, Yoongi raises the bag and holds it out in front of him, a tilt of his head accompanying the silent offer. The hybrid doesn't take his eyes off of Yoongi’s, though his nostrils flare at the scent of fresh (well, as fresh as fast food can be) food drifting toward him. In the back of his mind, Yoongi wonders how long it must have been since this poor, skinny thing had eaten, let alone eaten something clean (again, as clean as fast food can be).

“Hungry?” Yoongi croaks, unable to form a full question. What he'd like to say would be something closer to, Are you hungry? You can have this, or I can get you something else, or make you something, whatever, you should eat, you look a little sick, but Hungry? works just as well, he supposes.

For a few seconds, the stray considers Yoongi’s offer, eyes darting between the bag of hot food held only several feet away from him and Yoongi’s eyes, seemingly testing his sincerity and assessing the threat level. Cautiously, he stands from the steps, never even blinking to let Yoongi out of his sight. Slowly — so, so slowly — he takes one step down, not making a sound as his foot touches the concrete.

Yoongi’s heart seems to beat hard in his ears, his lungs protesting how short his breaths are, but his brain wills them to quiet down. As the hybrid plants both feet on the ground, fully off of the steps, now, Yoongi risks a deeper breath and moves to step forward.

At the sudden movement, the hybrid’s flight response activates, and he quickly shakes his head before dashing, again, into the darkness between the buildings. Yoongi’s mouth pops open to call out, but he's already gone to the night.

Yoongi heaves a deep sigh, frowning and dropping his arm to his side once again. Disappointment pangs in his chest, his brain chiding him for failing his mission. He pegs a feeling drifting around his body as responsibility, and naming that feeling bothers him even more that he hadn't done his duty. All he had to do was feed this dog, and he couldn't even do that.

Good mood a little dampened, Yoongi shuffles up to his steps and drags himself up them. Before he opens the door to the building, he stares down at the spot that the stray apparently chose to make his little hiding spot and contemplates. It only takes a few seconds for him to decide to set the bag down there, tucking it a little bit behind the support beam. He hopes the dog comes back and gets the message.

With one last glance out into the darkness, Yoongi ventures into his building for the night. He stays awake in bed for a few minutes longer than usual, resisting the urge to go back out and see if the bag is still there, worrying about the all-too-thin hybrid’s health.

He can't resist, however, checking on the bag when he wakes up the next morning. Bag status: Gone.

———————

This time, only four days pass until their next meeting. On Friday, Yoongi decides to give himself a day off. Benefits of choosing my own hours, he reckons. His little producer-block hasn't quite cleared up, and he’d much rather stay in and try to slap himself back into shape rather than fry his brain in a silent studio for over half of a day.

Of course, being out of the studio didn't mean that the frustration of his situation would just magically vanish. Even just lounging around, trying to take this day to rest for once, ideas try to wedge their way into his mind but never seem to make it in. The tunes that do break through are discordant, or they don't match the style of the specific song he wants to work on, or they're great… but something he would never actually produce — something he would give to another producer to tinker with and make their own.

To top it all off, because why the fuck not, just throw in all of the stress right now, he can't get the stray hybrid out of his mind. There was something about him that intrigued Yoongi almost to a point of madness. Any sort of stray anything always got to his heart, but this specific hybrid was… something. He was something.

Maybe it was just how unhealthy he looked that really struck Yoongi. Maybe it was how close he was to his home. Maybe it was some sort of guilt at not being able to help all of the strays he’d seen before that made him upset that he couldn't help the one that was so close. Maybe it was his previous attempt of offering this hybrid some assistance and the resulting failure. Maybe it was just because he’d actually seen him up close, looked into his eyes, somewhat communicated with him, that made him feel some pull to help him.

The distant rumble of thunder gently tugs him out of his thoughts, prompting him to glance out his window. The sky above is murky and ominous, the leaves of one of the few trees scratching gingerly against his window screen. A frown etches itself upon his jaw at the turn of the weather.

At least I don't have to go anywhere.

A spike of arrogance at that thought permeates the dark little cloud that personally tried to gather around him. I don't have to go anywhere. Fuck it. I can stay right where I am and there are zero consequences. Suck shit, people who have to work today.

As the first few drops of rain tap against his window, Yoongi makes an executive decision to leave his apartment, just to stand on the landing under the protection of the overhang. Half of the decision is due to the smugness that comes with just being able to step outside at six-thirty in the evening with no consequences, and the other half is to test the theory that fresh air would do his mind good. It never seemed to work exactly like that in the past, but it's better than burrowing under his covers and trying to bake the ideas into his brain.

With a grunt he’d be embarrassed of if anyone else had heard, he lifts himself out of the much-too-soft couch cushions. His kneecaps pop when he stretches his legs, joints unhappy with the disuse and the way he’d twisted himself up from the morning until now. He fights through the stiffness of his muscles to his bedroom to gather up a jacket, and — as a split-second decision — a lap blanket, in case it's colder than he bargained for. He can’t be bothered to actually check the weather. It's raining. There's the weather.

Jacket on and blanket loosely tossed around his shoulders, Yoongi pads to the door and slips on his shoes before setting off into what has quickly become a downpour. A crash of thunder almost drowns out the sound of his footsteps as he descends the staircase, causing him to stumble a little bit onto the indoor landing. The window in the front door offers him a little bit of insight on the actual status of the rain — heavy, fat drops that practically explode upon impact. Water floods the curbs, the drains unable to funnel it into the sewers fast enough. Thankfully, the whipping winds seem to be pushing the rain in just the right angle to only wet the outer edge of the landing.

Sighing deeply through his nose, Yoongi shoves the heavy door open, the distinct air pressure difference causing it to fight against him even more than usual. Immediately, he's grateful that he’d brought the blanket with him; the gusts of wind feel bitter against any exposed skin, bright red immediately tinging his nose and cheeks and a wicked shiver racking his body. He's barely even a step out the door and he already knows the only thing he’ll gain from this experience is a cold, but he can't just scurry back inside, now — he's committed to testing this theory, and maybe something akin to frostbite nipping at the tip of his nose is what he needs.

Lightning illuminates the sky for a brief moment as another clap of thunder strikes, near enough to the city that Yoongi can feel it rattle his bones. When the thunder finishes up its final rumbles, there's one more short sound that reaches Yoongi’s ears. This sound, however, isn't natural — the storm couldn't have made this sound if it tried. It’s a pitiful sound that incites a tiny ache in his chest, coming from somewhere behind him, and he whips around to find the source.

Curled up in a ball, tightly wedged in the corner that the door covers when it's opened, is the hybrid. His tangled hair is absolutely drenched, sticking to his forehead and dripping onto his arms, which cover his face. His clothes are equally as soaked, hanging heavy on his now-much-more-noticeably-emaciated body. The usually-perky, floppy ears that poke out from his hair are laid back, plastered to his skull, and the tail Yoongi had only seen in a blur is tucked between his legs. He hadn't even glanced up when Yoongi had stepped out — not even any indication that he knew he was there, nor that he was planning on dashing this time.

Yoongi shakes himself out of his reverie when the next round of thunder starts, and that unnatural noise cuts through the din of the raging storm. This time, Yoongi can pinpoint exactly what it is and where it comes from.

It’s a whimper. A frightened, heart-shattering, spit-soaked whimper, muffled by the sleeve of the dog’s thin, sopping sweatshirt.

This time, Yoongi doesn’t engage in a stand-off. His instinct kicks in, forgoing the awkward can I come near you or will you run away? stage. He isn’t going to fail again. He isn’t going to fuck it up. He can’t, as a goddamn human being with a heart and a soul and feelings and compassion, leave this hybrid to die on his doorstep in the freezing fucking rain.

Without a second thought, Yoongi unwraps the blanket from his shoulders and drops to his knees next to the other’s shuddering body. “Hey,” he calls softly, just loud enough to be heard over the raindrops pelting the concrete mere inches away.

The hybrid doesn't even budge. His fingers tighten where they’re hidden in the sleeves of his sweatshirt, but he makes no move to run.

Frowning, Yoongi drapes the blanket over the dog’s shaking form. It won't do much to warm him up, seeing as how he’s still drowning in his own clothes, but it’s the first thing he can think to do. It’s something, at least.

Still, he doesn't make to run. This is… good?

“Hey, come on, come inside,” Yoongi gently orders. “You're gonna die out here.”

At this, the hybrid starts, his head lifting and eyes meeting Yoongi’s. They're red — almost terrifyingly so — and glassy to the point Yoongi feels like they could shatter at any moment. Tears stream past his prominent, pale cheekbones, the streaks converging on his chin, and snot leaks from one nostril. This fear isn't like the fear Yoongi’s seen on him thus far — no, this is a fear that the hybrid can't just run away from; a fear that rattles him to his core; a fear that renders him immobile, paralysed, unable to fight back.

Yoongi takes another risk, resting a hand on the blanket where he believes his knee is. “Will you come inside?” The hybrid doesn't even acknowledge the question, only swallowing thickly and holding steady eye contact. “Are you afraid of the storm?”

Finally, this pulls a response from the dog. It’s just a shift in his facial expression — a deeper furrow of his brow — and an almost undetectable nod — one that could be chalked up to a shiver if Yoongi hadn't been as near as he was. The horrible fear flooding his entire body is enough for his fight-or-flight response to deactivate, leaving him with only his honesty and the desire to escape the thunder.

“You’ll be safe inside,” Yoongi promises, offering a light squeeze to the other’s knee. “I’ll protect you.”

Fresh tears well up in his eyes and cascade down his cheeks when he squeezes his eyes shut. Just one more time, his chin jerks down in a subtle nod, and he buries his face in his arms once again. Thunder fills the silences between raindrops slapping the ground, the sound looming directly over their heads, and the hybrid makes no attempt to move from the corner.

Yoongi’s chest constricts at the sight, his brain swarming with questions on how he’s going to get this hybrid inside when he appears to be glued to the spot. He doesn't want to yank at him in any way, afraid of hurting him, and he doesn't want to try to just go ahead and scoop him up, afraid of startling him too much. There doesn't seem to be a decent solution, but he won’t retract his offer. He won’t fuck it up again.

As Yoongi racks his brain for any sort of plan, a fierce clap of thunder crashes above them, powerful enough to make Yoongi wobble on his knees. The hybrid nearly shrieks in terror, unfolding his arms to slap his palms over his ears. The sleeves of his sweatshirt make a wet smack as he does so, and Yoongi can't tell if the liquid that drips down his cheeks is rainwater or tears.

That's when Yoongi makes his decision, and he lifts his hand from the other’s knee in favour of dropping his fingertips onto the back of his hand. He waits for him to acknowledge the action, to indicate that it’s okay for him to go on, to let him get him out of the stinging winds. That indication comes in the form of his hand lifting ever-so-slightly from his ear, just enough to press his drenched sleeve against Yoongi’s fingers. In response, Yoongi circles his fingers around the hybrid’s wrist and urges him to pull it away from his ear. As he does, he cracks his eyes open to stare Yoongi down, wary of his next action.

Yoongi smooths his face into the calmest expression he can muster. “Can you stand?” The hybrid blinks. “I mean, I— I can just carry you if you want. It's up to you.”

At this, the hybrid jerkily shakes his head, tugging his wrist from Yoongi’s grasp. There's a moment of panic — oh fuck I fucked up I fucked it all up I shouldn't have offered I shouldn't have even been here I should have been at work today I can't help this kid I can't even do my job how am I supposed to help another living being fuck fuck fuck — and then the dog drops his hand from his other ear. Yoongi scoots back to give him ample space, and watches his hands flatten against the wall to steady himself. With jagged, frightened movements, the hybrid manages to lift himself onto wobbly legs, his shivering more apparent when he's not tightly curled into himself. The blanket that had been just loosely placed over him threatens to fall to the ground, but Yoongi captures it before it does, cautiously rising to his feet himself and, again, slinging the fabric over one of the other’s shoulders. He doesn't even flinch.

“Okay, good,” Yoongi hums, though the way the dog’s knees knock together and his shoulders stay hunched up doesn't feel good. “Let's get inside; it's getting dark out here.”

Just as Yoongi makes to step back towards the door, there's another crash of thunder, loud enough for Yoongi to believe the sky had just torn open. The hybrid’s hardly-existent resolve crumbles instantly and he begins to collapse, body attempting to curl itself into its safety ball once again. Faster than the lightning striking the skies above them, Yoongi lunges forward, hooking his arms under the other’s armpits and bearing the weight of his fall. The hybrid’s body slumps against him, hands immediately scrabbling on his back painfully in an attempt to cling to something.

“Hey, hey,” Yoongi calls out, shifting into a more comfortable position and tugging the other closer to his body. “It's okay, it's alright. You're okay. You're okay. You're okay.”

The hybrid sobs audibly, digging his fingers deep into Yoongi’s back. Yoongi shoves down the hiss that tries to escape, fearing any action that could cause him to turn away, now. Carefully, he tightens his arms further around his bony, waterlogged body and takes a step back. He's relieved when the dog mimics the step, burying his face into Yoongi’s neck and following him toward the door, trusting him just enough.

With short, shaky steps, never loosening his grip for a moment, Yoongi leads him to the door. The only time he even partially lets go is to pull the door open, and his hand flies back into position when it's cracked enough for him to shoulder it the rest of the way open. He manages to kick it just far enough to shuffle both the dog and himself inside quickly, and the second the door slams shut, the brutal rainfall becomes muffled white noise akin to TV static.

A soft sigh escapes Yoongi’s lips, fingers flexing in the soaked fabric of the dog’s sweatshirt in relief. The relief is short-lived, however, when he realises something dreadful: Blocking out the noise and being pressed so tight to the other meant he could hear every whimper, every sob, every sniffle, every shaky pant, funnelled directly into his ear and absolutely soul-shattering.

“You're safe,” Yoongi whispers, pulling the hybrid further into the building. “Just a few more steps, okay? Just up the stairs — come on, just up the stairs, yeah, and you're one-hundred percent safe, okay? Nothing’s gonna get you. You're safe. You're okay. It's okay.”

There's no protest when Yoongi back-steps up one stair, and he takes another step up before the hybrid follows, foot searching for the exact height to which it needs to rise. He stumbles a bit up the next one, clawing deeper into Yoongi’s back, but never trips on the way up.

As they ascend the staircase, Yoongi never lets go of the trembling hybrid, holding him tightly enough to support him but loose enough that he could escape if he needed to (though God knows he doesn’t want him to). They take slow, shaky steps up each stair, Yoongi cooing you’re okays and you’re safes and just a few more steps’ along the way. The hybrid’s eyes stay squeezed shut all the way up, his feet gradually learning the height they need to rise and becoming a little less timid.

Finally, the pair reaches the floor where Yoongi’s apartment is, and Yoongi breathes a sigh of relief into the other’s soaked, tangled hair. He clings to Yoongi tighter as he joins him on the landing, almost standing on his feet and shuffling to avoid doing so. Yoongi doesn’t halt his steps for a moment, all of his instincts screaming at him to help him get him in the apartment get him safe help him help him help him.

“Hey, uh—” Realising he doesn’t actually know the other’s name, Yoongi pauses, but skips past it in favour of just getting him inside. “Hey, just a little more, okay? Just a few doors down and then we’re there, alright? You’ll be completely safe. Nothing can get you inside. I promise.”

The hybrid doesn’t offer any indication that he’d heard Yoongi, but doesn’t make to escape, either. Yoongi takes this as a good sign and resumes his path to his apartment, thanking the lord above he didn’t lock his door for his trip to the front step. When he reaches his destination, he has to let go once more to twist the knob, then returns to his tactic of shouldering it open to squeeze both of their bodies inside. Once inside, he kicks the door shut, again not bothering to lock it as he drags the trembling stray further in.

However, once he’s stood in the middle of the living room with an armful of wet dog, he freezes. He had been so intently focused on his single goal of saving the hybrid from the storm that he didn’t think about what to do after the fact.

Do I just… let him go? Give him a towel? Give him some clothes? Food? Something to drink? Leave him alone? Talk to him? Offer him… Fuck, I don’t know— A place to sleep? A shower? Anything?

In a move very characteristic for the day, Yoongi’s arms loosen of their own volition from the dog’s body just enough to grant them some movement. His hands slide to his waist, where they stay glued as he pulls himself back the tiniest bit. The other seems to be completely petrified, not moving a centimetre with his arms still wound tight around Yoongi’s neck.

“Hey,” Yoongi calls in a whisper, attempting to peer at the hybrid’s face, though he can only see one floppy ear plastered to the side of his head. “Can you look at me?”

The ear in his sight twitches slightly, a sign that his request had been heard, and slowly, slowly, so very slowly, he removes his face from Yoongi’s neck. His arms loosen fractionally to allow him to lean back, feet shuffling jaggedly, fingers clawing at Yoongi’s skin as they crawl up the backs of his shoulders. For the second time, his tear-filled eyes meet Yoongi’s, though, this time, they’re squinted due to the grimace masking his jaw. Snot continues to leak from his nose and onto his upper lip, probably onto Yoongi’s neck, but his cheeks have gained a deep scarlet colour that makes an effort to bleed downwards as well, leaving blotches of red against the column of his throat.

“You’re safe,” Yoongi assures him, squeezing his waist tentatively. “I promise, you’re safe. Okay?”

With a sniffle, the hybrid nods carefully, blinking the tears from his probably-stinging eyes. Yoongi flashes a gentle smile to him, just the upturn of one side of his lips, and he responds only with another sniffle.

Cautiously, Yoongi pulls back slightly more. “We need to get you warmed up. And dry. You’re gonna catch a cold like this.” Gulping, the hybrid offers another nod. “I— Uh, I can get you some clothes. Do you… Do you want to take a shower? Or just…”

Glancing down, the dog nods once more. He appears to have regained a little bit of control over himself, and the lack of thunderclaps for the time being seems to have given him a little bit of a chance to recover.

Yoongi hums in approval as he tightens his grip on the other’s waist and begins walking once more, leading him down the hall. He pulls the hybrid through the open bathroom door, flicking on the light with his forearm. When the both of them are stood in the cramped room, he pauses, listening to the other draw in deep, shuddering breaths in an effort to even out his breathing once more.

“I’m gonna get you something to change into, okay?” Yoongi offers, though he makes no move to detach himself. “I’ll wash your clothes, too. But you, uh… I mean, you kinda need something to wear, y’know?”

At this, the hybrid finally takes a full step back, keeping close to Yoongi but giving himself enough space to slip away if and when he needs to. He nods, the movement a little wider than each previous one, and if Yoongi didn’t know better, he’d think the tug at his grimace caused by another sniffle was the ghost of a smile flashing across his face.

Yoongi mirrors the nod as he reluctantly drops one hand from the other’s waist. “You can use whatever you want,” he says as he gestures at the now-seemingly-copious amount of products crowding the ledges in the shower. “Let me, uh… get you something to wear.”

It takes a few seconds for the hybrid to find it in himself to unhook his claws from Yoongi’s back, still trembling noticeably as he stiffly unravels his arms from his neck. Once they have nothing to support them, they hang in the air for several moments, unsure of what to do, and then cross over his chest defensively. The single hand left on his sodden waist squeezes once, reassuringly, and then leaves him at last. It feels like the first time in a century the pair have been separated, and Yoongi has to block out the voice in his head screaming at him to get him back, pull him in, keep him safe, don’t let him go, protect him, protect him, protect him.

When the voice is reduced to only a muted hum, he makes to step out of the room. “Oh,” he chirps before he does, one hand on the door, “by the way, the knob— The faucet thing, the knob on the faucet, for the… the water. The shower water. The knob. It’s a little stubborn, so you’ll have to kinda jiggle it a bit. Like, pull it out and give it a little love-tap, yeah?”

The dog seems to loosen up a bit at Yoongi’s babbling, nodding understandingly while his hands drop from his biceps to his elbows. His ears rise from being flattened against his skull to just a slightly more relaxed position, a droplet of water falling from the tip of one of them to the floor. Yoongi stares for probably a second too long, half-hoping for the hybrid to say anything to him — request something he hadn’t thought of, ask him a question, tell him his name — but shakes himself from his potential-daydreaming state to do what he’d said he would do.

Dry clothes. Warm clothes. Clean clothes. Dry, warm, clean blanket. Dry, warm, clean bed for him to sleep in. Not dry but definitely warm and clean food, maybe-warm-but-maybe-not drink.

“Okay, give me just a second.” Yoongi begins to exit the room, holding one finger up as a visual indication. “I’m gonna get you some clothes, now. Just wait right here, okay?”

Before the other can nod again, Yoongi slips from the room and scurries down the hallway with haste. His still-shoe-clad feet shuffle against the carpet, nearly tripping him in the process of entering his bedroom, and he feels like he’s on a very strict time limit. What if he leaves? What if he realises he doesn’t feel safe here and he runs away? What if thunder strikes again and he collapses? What if he keels over right there? What if? What if? What if?

It was possible to muffle the panic before, with the dog in his sights, but with him several feet away in an entirely different room, it resurges tenfold, refusing to be silenced. His still-damp hands shake as they yank open a dresser drawer, rifling through to find a pair of boxers and some thick sweatpants that would hopefully fit the dog’s bony hips. When he settles on something, he shuffles quickly to his closet, plucking a heavy T-shirt that’s large enough for him to swim in from a hanger.

Dry. Warm. Clean. Very comfortable. Perfect.

Throwing all of the clothing over his shoulder, Yoongi starts to dash back to the bathroom, but is halted by an unseen force. The wind seems to be knocked out of him, leaving him gasping, struggling to force air back into his lungs. All of the past few weeks’ events occur to him at once, crashing into his skull like a freight train.

Fifteen days ago, he finally laid eyes on the fabled stray that had — according to all of his neighbours — been hanging around their complex for quite a while.

Today, the fabled stray is dripping rainwater all over his bathroom floor.

Everything seemed to happen too quickly. Yoongi’s certain that he’ll be awakened from this dream any time, now. He’ll fly up from his bed, fighting for air, drenched in a cold sweat and convulsing in time with the violent slamming of his heart against his ribcage, the muscle making a valiant effort to escape. It’ll be Saturday morning, tendrils of light creeping into the night sky, Yoongi having dragged himself to bed and passed out with no recollection of it.

The sound of the faucet in the bathtub roaring to life has him breaking free of his own anxiety-ridden thoughts, and the switch of the water flow to the showerhead kickstarts his legs. He dashes into the hall, silently hoping that the paranoia and terrible worry is left in the room behind him, and re-enters the bathroom. The hybrid is stood facing the bathtub, one hand held under the cascading water while the other is attached to the knob, adjusting it incrementally to find the perfect temperature. He hasn’t bothered to take off his already-sopping-wet sweatshirt, nor has he even rolled up the sleeves, just allows the warming water to spray his palm and the edge of his sleeve.

Softly, Yoongi taps on the doorframe, trying not to startle him. The effort ends up being in vain, since, as he’d already known, the dog is in a fragile enough state to jump out of his skin at any sound. Swiftly, he spins to face Yoongi, eyes as wide as they were the first time they met. His hands follow his body as he turns, the one that had been under the water flinging droplets around the room, which stick to the walls and the mirror.

“Sorry,” Yoongi says quickly, offering a small bow. “I brought you some clothes. I don’t, uh… I don’t know if they’ll fit, but…” He tugs them from his shoulder, holding them out for the other to see before gingerly placing them on the edge of the small counter. “Y’know. I mean, if they don’t fit, I can get you something else. Just let me know, okay? I don’t want you to be uncomfortable.”

As usual for the night, the hybrid nods, pulling his lips taut in what might have been a shot at a smile. More likely, the action was just him swallowing back his still-prominent terror.

Yoongi pats at the stack of clothes, free hand twisting into the hem of his own shirt. “So, shirt, pants, boxers,” he rattles off, tapping the fabric as he does. “Like I said, you can use whatever you want. Y’know, like, the soaps and stuff. And the towels, too. Just… Anything in this room is fair game.”

The hybrid, again, tilts his chin up and down in acknowledgement. Steam begins to rise from the shower behind him, and Yoongi watches one of his large ears twitch as the damp air sticks to the fur.

“Okay, well, I’m gonna make us some dinner,” Yoongi proclaims, strafing out of the room with a thumb in the air, jabbed in the direction of the kitchen. “Do you— Are you allergic to anything? Or is there anything you don’t really like?”

For the first time, the dog does something different than nodding — he shakes his head. It’s only the slightest change, but at least it lets Yoongi know he’s actually listening rather than just repeating a movement out of habit.

Yoongi blinks slowly and jerks his chin down. “Alright, good. I’ll get something started, then.”

With one last long gaze, Yoongi strides out of the room, gently tugging the door closed behind himself. When it clicks shut, he momentarily stares at the knob, the familiar panic that he’d left in his bedroom tiptoeing down the hallway, creeping toward him, waiting for the perfect moment to snatch him up and feast on his brain.

He doesn’t allow it to catch up to him, practically throwing his body out of the hallway and into the small kitchen. Each time anxiety taps a finger against his skull, he physically scurries away, moving on to another floor tile, another task, another mind-occupying action to keep the thoughts at bay.

Find something to cook. Ramyeon. Find something to cook it with. Pot. Turn on the burner. Fill the pot with water. Wait for it to boil. Wash the dishes. What if he slips? Add the ramyeon. Add the flavouring. Cover. Clean off the counters. Stir. What if he gets out of the shower and runs away? Rearrange some items in the cupboards. Stir. Find out if the eggs in the fridge are expired. They’re fine. Stir. What if thunder sounds again while he’s in there? Turn the burner off. Add gochujang. Crack egg. Crack second egg. Crack third egg. Cover. Move pot. What if he gets sick and he won’t let me help him? Wait for eggs to cook. Keep covered. Wash hands. Find bowls. Find chopsticks. Wait. Wait. Wait.

It’s a simple meal. It’s all Yoongi can make with what’s currently available. Hopefully, it’s enough for the hybrid.

Yoongi finds himself worrying over every little thing he possibly could. The full-blown panic hasn’t tackled him — he’s managed to evade it — but tiny inklings of anxiety trickle into his brain, boring pin-sized holes in each lobe, so small that Yoongi can’t figure out what to fill them with before another appears. He imagines his brain looking like a caterpillar-bitten leaf, the holes growing larger as the caterpillar feeds until the leaf becomes nothing but a skeleton, only the veins left to maintain a flimsy guise of structural integrity.

All he wants is to help this stray; to keep him safe; to make sure he doesn’t die on his front step; to give him a fucking chance to live. Even if he doesn’t want to stay here, he should at least recuperate here. He should at least let Yoongi help him.

He turns the burner that the pot of ramyeon is sat on to low heat. The clock on the stove ticks from 8:12 to 8:13.

Before his thoughts can consume him once more, he hears the steady hum of the running shower cease. The only sounds that ring through the apartment, now, are the simmering of the pot and the rain incessantly tapping at the window. The downpour doesn’t sound as though it’s slowed any, but the full-throttle thunderstorm seems to have passed over the city, moving on to torment its next victims.

For roughly ten minutes, Yoongi simply leans against the counter and listens to the sounds of the hybrid shuffling around over the beat of the raindrops pelting the building. Deep breaths keep his mind in check; they don’t keep it clear, but at least the worries are muffled and hardly intelligible.

Inhale.

Will he lea

Exhale.

Inhale.

Is he gonna get s

Exhale.

Inhale.

Click.

The bathroom door swings open, and the dog cautiously enters the hall. He takes slow, wobbly steps out of the hallway and into Yoongi’s line of sight. In his arms is a towel — presumably the one he’d used to dry off — filled with his discarded, rain-soaked clothes, which are wadded into a ball, his old, dingy shoes sat on top of it. He freezes when he catches sight of Yoongi, averting his gaze to the dirty laundry and toying with it in his hands.

He doesn’t mean to, but Yoongi stops for a long moment to just stare at the hybrid. There’s colour in his cheeks from the heat of the shower, but it’s not heartbreaking like the blotchy redness that took to his skin when he cried; his still-damp hair is free of grime and tangles, and it’s clear how long he’s gone without a haircut, now; his floppy ears are almost resting in a relaxed position, and the fur on them is dry enough to reveal that it’s long and fluffy and a little bit curly, leaving Yoongi questioning exactly what breed of dog he is; similarly, his tail is finally on display, not tucked between his legs or obscured by the night, and it’s beyond fluffy with a little white tip; he absolutely drowns in the T-shirt Yoongi had loaned him, the short sleeves mere centimetres from grazing his bony wrists; and the sweatpants, with the string tied tightly, hang off of his frame as well, though, thankfully, the legs aren’t long enough to cover his feet and trip him.

The hybrid clears his throat, and Yoongi’s eyes dart up to his face in a split second. For a hopeful moment, Yoongi thinks he’s going to speak to him for the first time, but, instead, he raises the ball of fabric up in a silent question.

“Oh, yeah.” Yoongi pushes off of the counter, briskly but quietly stepping to the other and holding his arms out for him to dump the laundry into. “Do you wanna sit on the couch? I can throw these in the wash real quick.”

Gingerly, the dog deposits his wad of laundry into Yoongi’s arms and nods. When his hands are free, he appears as though he doesn’t know what to do with them, so he opts to cross them over his chest once again. His actions seem to be growing smoother and larger, though there’s still a strong fear that lies under each one — his fight-or-flight response remaining active just under the surface, ready to be triggered at any wrong move.

Yoongi flashes a subtle but bright smile before trotting off to the laundry room, making quick work of tossing the clothes into the washer, not even bothering to spread them out evenly or remove his shoes. He pours enough detergent in for an extra large load, figuring the state of the clothing is probably not incredible, and lets it run on the heavy duty setting, electricity bill be damned.

Once he’s got the machine running, he scuttles out of the laundry room, catching a glimpse of the hybrid settling himself on the couch on his path to the kitchen. He doesn’t pause to watch, hurrying to the pot of (thankfully, still steaming-hot) ramyeon and quickly preparing a bowl for each of them. Two heaping servings hardly even make a dent in the pot, and Yoongi half-curses himself for overdoing it, half-praises himself for making sure he’d actually have some sort of prepared food in the house for a hot minute.

Leftovers for both of us, right?

Careful not to burn his hands, Yoongi scoops the two full bowls up, holding two packets of chopsticks he’d swiped from convenience stores and cheap take-out places over the months between his fingers, and heads into the living room. Upon entering, he finds the hybrid curled into the corner of the couch, knees drawn to his chest and arms wrapped around them. The position is eerily similar to the one he’d assumed on the landing outside, and Yoongi’s chest tightens painfully at the sight. The only things that keep him from running over and gathering him in his arms are the bowls in his hands and the way his ears perk up and nostrils flare when he notices said bowls.

With a smile that he hopes displays comfort rather than concern, Yoongi traipses through the room, setting one of the bowls on the coffee table in front of the clearly-starving dog with a pair of chopsticks beside it. As he settles into the other corner of the couch with his own bowl, he notices the other only eyes his food warily, not making any move to reach for it.

Anxiety bubbles up in Yoongi’s throat. “Hey,” he calls, catching the hybrid’s eye. “Do you not want it? It’s— I know it’s not really fancy or anything.” His eyes dart around the room, some form of guilt winding around his spine. “I don’t really do much real cooking. I’m sorry.” He cradles his own bowl in his hands, the heat of the ramyeon making the ceramic rapidly ascend into uncomfortably hot. “I can go out and get—”

“Thank you.”

Yoongi stops dead in his tracks. “What was that?”

The hybrid unfolds his arms and switches to a cross-legged position, then leans forward to lift his bowl from the table and place it on his lap. “Thank you,” he repeats, voice wavering as he removes the cheap chopsticks from the packet and weakly snaps them apart. He raises his tear-filled eyes to meet Yoongi’s, face appearing as if it’ll melt at any second.

The first thing Yoongi notices about the dog’s voice is that it’s hoarse — presumably from a combination of disuse and sobbing — and that it sounds painful for him to use it. The second is that it’s got a little twist to it — something that’s definitely far from Seoul but hard to tell exactly how far with so little to go off of. He wants to crack the second part’s code, but the first part keeps him from pushing it.

“Oh.” Yoongi blinks quietly. “Yeah, of course. No problem.”

Without further ado, the hybrid plunges his chopsticks into the bowl of ramyeon, gathering up as much as he could and stuffing it unabashedly into his mouth. He grunts through the mouthful of food, sighing heavily through his nose. His entire body curls around the bowl, eyes focused intently on the chopsticks as they scoop up another mass of noodles before he’s even finished chewing his first mouthful.

Yoongi can’t help but exhale a giggle through his nose. The hybrid starts, whipping his head to face Yoongi with noodles hanging from his mouth. His eyes are still filled with the remnants of unshed tears, cheeks stuffed entirely with a hazardous amount of ramyeon. The combination of his puffed-out cheeks and the way-too-large T-shirt draping over his body masks — if only for a moment — just how emaciated he is, and Yoongi almost forgets the grim fact.

“Sorry,” he chuckles, picking at his own food for a second. “I’m glad you like it.”

Swallowing down half of the food in his mouth, the hybrid nods bashfully. In contrast to his demeanour, he noisily slurps up the noodles that had been hanging from his mouth, leaving his lips puckered and shiny. When he begins chewing once more, Yoongi catches the sight of deep dimples poking into his cheeks each time he bites down, just near the corners of his lips.

Then, something entirely unrelated occurs to Yoongi: Not only does he not know the dog’s name, but the dog doesn’t know his name. They’re complete strangers.

“I’m Yoongi, by the way,” he introduces himself at last. He follows it up by popping his first bite of ramyeon into his mouth, chewing through a smile when the hybrid casts a glance to him.

With the last half of the food filling his cheeks swallowed down, the hybrid blinks rapidly. For the first time, the flickers of smiles that Yoongi had imagined throughout the evening come true. It’s just a tiny, nerve-filled, tight upturn of the lips that’s clearly used just to be polite, but it’s a smile nonetheless. His dimples that Yoongi had only just found out about are ridiculously prominent, and his eyes being trained on the barely-there smile allows him to discover a new feature — a tiny little mole on the right side of his upper lip.

Blindly, he gathers another bite on his chopsticks. “Hoseok,” he says simply, no louder than a stolen breath, then shoves his ramyeon into his mouth, almost as if to catch the name and force it back down his throat.

Hoseok.

“Hoseok,” Yoongi repeats, testing the name on his tongue. The hybrid’s — Hoseok’s — ears twitch at the sound. “Hoseok-ssi.”

At the second repetition, Hoseok jolts, losing his grip on his chopsticks and sending them clattering against the near-empty bowl. There’s a perplexed furrow in his brow, full mouth twisted into a questioning pout.

Yoongi blinks. “What?” Hoseok cocks his head to the side a bit. “Did I do something wrong?”

Hoseok gulps down his mouthful, fiddling with the ends of his chopsticks. “You… said -ssi.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Was that wrong?” Yoongi shifts a little where he’s seated, facing a bit more toward Hoseok. “Is it ‘Hoseok-hyung’?”

Even more confusion swarms Hoseok’s features. “I— I don’t—” He seems to be growing increasingly flustered, fingers fumbling over the chopsticks. “I’m not… your equal.”

Now, it’s Yoongi’s turn to draw his eyebrows together. “You’re not my…?” He trails off, needing another second to process the statement. “What makes you think that?”

Melancholy seeps into Hoseok’s face as he hangs his head, swirling with the confusion and creating something close to consternation. “I’m just a dog.”

Yoongi’s heart drops.

Just a dog.

He can’t be sure of it, but Yoongi thinks that sounds a hell of a lot like something Hoseok had been told rather than a conclusion he’d drawn on his own. The words are said in a flat tone, like he’s reciting the phrase from a rulebook he’d been given as a child and forced to memorise over the course of his life.

“Hoseok,” Yoongi calls out softly, leaving off honorifics for now, to be safe, “what year were you born?”

Lifting his head once more, Hoseok uses his massive sleeve to wipe away a tear that had escaped. “Does it matter?”

“It does.” Yoongi sets his bowl on the coffee table in favour of resting his empty hands on his knees. “It’ll determine what we call each other from now on.”

Hoseok blinks hard. “Ninety-four.”

“Just ‘Hoseok’ it is, then,” Yoongi declares with a wide grin. “I’m ninety-three. I mean, I was born in ninety-three — I’m not ninety-three years old.”

The hybrid looks as though he’s going to protest, but seems to give up on it before the words can form. Instead, he drops his eyes to his empty bowl and mumbles, “You don’t have to do that.”

Pangs of pain shoot into Yoongi’s heart, but he tries his best to keep Hoseok with him — to keep him from breaking down once again. “You can call me ‘hyung,’” he chirps, keeping a soft smile on his face all the while.

There’s a tense, seemingly-eternal pause. “Hyung,” Hoseok tests under his breath. Even though the syllable is practically hidden under the now-gentle tapping of the rain against the window, Yoongi feels just a small bit of warmth blossom in his chest.

Baby steps.

“Do you want some more?” Yoongi asks when the younger begins to look lost in thought. He gestures to the empty bowl in his lap once he looks up, tilting his head to emphasise the question.

Hoseok seems to consider his offer, but ultimately shakes his head no. However, his eyes stay trained to his empty bowl, a flicker of yen hanging around in them.

Again, Yoongi tries. “Are you sure? I made an honest-to-God fuck-ton.”

“I’m okay,” Hoseok insists, pressing the tips of his fingers against the ceramic in his lap. “You’ve done a lot already,” he sniffles in continuation. “I can’t take more from you.”

“You’re not taking, Hoseok,” Yoongi hums, crossing his legs and thinking of scooting closer, but deciding against it. “I’m offering. It’s okay to accept, y’know?”

It’s silent for the first time in a few minutes, the rain seeming to slow down by the second. Tension oozes into the room, thick and suffocating, as Yoongi simply studies the hybrid’s profile. He takes note of the slope of his nose; of the sharp line of his jaw made clearer by the lack of fat on his face; of the loose curls in his untrimmed hair and the slightly tighter curls in the fur of his ears; of the deep red flush on his cheeks, spreading down his neck and fading into a pale pink before it’s obscured by the collar of the shirt; of his ridiculously fluffy tail laid out across the couch cushions, white tip mere inches from Yoongi’s knee.

He looks… better. Definitely not great yet, but a lot better.

“I should go,” Hoseok finally pipes up, ear perked to pick up the gradual cessation of the rain. “I’ve taken up a lot of your time.”

Yoongi stiffens, panic shocking his muscles into place. “Where would you go?”

Hoseok shrugs. “I— I don’t know,” he admits past a lump in his throat. “I just don’t want to be a burden.”

“Stay here,” Yoongi proffers quickly, reaching a hand out and dropping it on the middle couch cushion, not wanting to risk touching Hoseok lest he think he was trying to trap him here. “What if it starts storming again?” Hoseok sucks in a sharp breath at the idea. “And your clothes are still in the washer. And”— Yoongi tilts his head —“there’s seriously a lot of ramyeon in there. I can’t eat all of that by myself. Might need someone to help me.”

A new woeful expression etches itself upon Hoseok’s face. No response comes from his lips, but he makes no move to stand up. His ears draw back, not quite flattening against his head, and a small shiver racks his body.

Now, Yoongi does risk scooching a little closer, stopping just before his thigh touches Hoseok’s tail. “You’re not a burden, Hoseok. I promise.” His fingers twitch with the willpower it takes to keep to themselves. “At least stay here tonight. Please. If you still want to leave tomorrow, I won’t stop you, but at least wait until it dries up out there. Please.

Hoseok mulls over his options for a long moment, tugging his bottom lip between his teeth and gnawing at it. “Okay,” he breathes at last, deflating as he does so.

“Okay,” Yoongi echoes, confirming the decision. “Okay, good. I’m glad.”

The hybrid straightens the chopsticks in his bowl and lifts it from his lap, gingerly placing it upon the coffee table. His thin fingers prod at the ceramic a few times, making sure it’s far enough away from the edge for his own comfort.

Yoongi clears his throat, turning and rising from his seat. “You can take my bed. I don’t sleep much, anyway.”

Before the younger can protest, as Yoongi imagines anyone would, he scoops the empty dishes from the table and strides to the kitchen. With little care, he tosses them into the sink, deciding to deal with all of the clean-up after Hoseok is tucked into bed. His top priority is making sure Hoseok is safe and sound, the organisation of his apartment lagging so far behind in second place it may as well just be disqualified. He does splash a bit of water in the bowls before he makes his exit, though, if only as a force of habit.

When he re-enters the living room, he finds Hoseok standing awkwardly in the middle of the floor. He’s rounded the coffee table, but, presumably, didn’t quite know what to do from there. His arms hang dead at his sides, fingers toying with the hem of the shirt in nervousness, and his head droops low.

“Hey,” Yoongi calls to catch his attention. Hoseok’s red, heavy-looking eyes meet Yoongi’s, and Yoongi jerks his head in the direction of his bedroom. “Follow me.”

Hoseok nods, his fragile legs taking light-footed steps toward Yoongi. When Yoongi deems him close enough, he turns to walk down the hall, ears straining to listen to each of Hoseok’s footsteps as he follows. He’s so focused on counting every step Hoseok takes, he almost runs into the doorframe, swiftly correcting his course and hoping Hoseok didn’t notice the close call.

As soon as he steps into his room, he jogs over to his bed and grabs his laptop, unplugging the charger from the wall and hastily winding the cord up. He tucks it underneath his arm, glancing over to Hoseok hovering in the doorway. The hybrid’s eyes don’t dart around his room or judge anything inside — instead, they stay trained solely on the unmade bed as if he’d never seen one in his life. His eyes take on a glassy state once again, and Yoongi vaguely wonders if the non-tear-filled times are just rest periods between bouts of crying.

Again, Yoongi demands Hoseok’s attention with a soft, “Hey,” and, again, the attention is granted. “You’re okay, now, yeah?” Hoseok’s face is iffy, but after a moment’s hesitation, he subtly nods. “You’re safe, here; I promise.”

Another nod is given by Hoseok, though it appears to be subconscious. With trepidation, he creeps to the bed, pinching the comforter between his fingers and tugging it down to create a space for him to slide into. He doesn’t do so yet, though — there’s still hesitation puppeteering each of his jerky movements, keeping him from collapsing into the bed as he so clearly, so desperately wants to do.

“Do you need anything else right now?” Yoongi questions, hiking his laptop further into his armpit. “Water, maybe?”

Hoseok considers the suggestion for a few seconds, then nods. The visible swallow he does makes Yoongi think he’d forgotten he was thirsty for a brief time, and he feels like an idiot for forgetting to bring him a drink even though it had been one of his first thoughts.

“Alright, I’ll get you some.” Yoongi whirls around to leave the room, throwing the next words over his shoulder. “Make yourself comfortable; this is your home tonight. Don’t worry about anything; hyung will take care of it all.”

He doesn’t wait for Hoseok’s reaction or reply, swiftly shuffling from the room and down the hall. He deposits his laptop on the couch first, not bothering to uncurl the cord yet, then makes his way to the kitchen. The pot of ramyeon stares at him from the stove top, lid set on the counter off to the side. Semi-reluctantly, he drops the lid back onto the pot and opens the fridge to find a space to stuff it into. It only takes a little bit of creative rearrangement to clear a space and he jimmies it onto one of the shelves, retrieving a bottle of water in the process.

Bumping the fridge door shut with his hip, he twists the cap on the bottle, cracking it just so Hoseok doesn’t have to waste any energy on it. Being so focused on Hoseok’s health and safety, he’d almost missed the bright green numbers on the stove’s clock display.

9:27.

He’d really spent over an hour just sitting with Hoseok. The time had flown by, Yoongi’s mind having gone into an almost paternal state and the need to protect overriding his sense of time. It had long since cleared up outside, only the sounds of the eavestroughs pouring out leftover water and the usual traffic buzzing through the walls. Yoongi takes a moment to breathe deeply, calming his now-noticeably-racing heart and reaching a hand out of the whirlpool of his mind.

Calm down. You’ve done it. He’s safe. Even if it’s just for tonight, he’s safe. Calm down. Deep breaths. Calm down.

Sighing heavily, Yoongi makes his way out of the kitchen, back to the bedroom. The hallway seems to stretch on further than usual, only the dim fluorescents from the kitchen lighting his way. His own shadow stretches down the length of the hall, passing through the doorway long before he, himself, does.

In lieu of just barging into the room, he raps his knuckles gently on the door frame and pokes his head in. What he doesn’t expect to find is Hoseok buried under the covers, curled into a tiny ball and snoring lightly into the otherwise-still air, but that turns out to be the image that greets him. He freezes at the scene before him, a victorious but soft smile playing at his lips.

Quietly, so as not to disturb the snoozing hybrid, Yoongi tiptoes over to the side of the bed and sets the bottle of water on the bedside table. He sneaks another look at Hoseok’s face — relaxed for once, yet somehow forlorn even in slumber. If Yoongi didn’t know better, he’d almost mistake the dog for a cadaver, seeing how skeletal just his face appears. He’s almost glad for the fact that he can’t see anything but his head and a sliver of his neck; seeing his bones laid out upon the mattress might actually shatter his heart.

One final glance of assessment is cast, and only when it seems like Hoseok isn’t going anywhere any time soon does Yoongi begin to back away. He does so slowly, sliding across the carpet in an effort to maintain the near-silence. It was hard enough to get Hoseok in bed — Yoongi wasn’t going to risk stirring him awake once more.

His fingers curl around the doorknob as he reaches the doorway, pulling it along with him as he makes his exit. When the door’s opening is reduced to just a crack, he whispers through it, “Goodnight, Hoseok.” He doesn’t close it all the way, in case Hoseok would feel trapped if he did.

He doesn’t allow himself to deflate yet, knowing he still has a few things to do before the night’s over, the first being switching Hoseok’s laundry before it starts to get mildewy. Hastily, he shuffles to the laundry room and does just that, finding a handful of loose change rattling around the washing machine as well. As he tosses the clothes into the dryer with several extra dryer sheets, he piles the change on top of the dryer, making a mental note to return it to him tomorrow.

When the machine is humming merrily, he scurries out, closing the door quickly and quietly. He casts a sleepy glance at the dishes still waiting for him in the sink, flipping a mental coin on whether or not to deal with them yet. Ultimately, he decides not to, exhaustion creeping into his bones just fast enough that he knows he would give up halfway through the simple task.

So, the dishes are left alone in the sink, Yoongi dragging his suddenly-heavy body through the apartment, into the living room where his bed is tonight. Remembering the rush he’d been in to get inside, he flicks his eyes to the lock on the front door and sighs. He trudges over and turns the deadbolt, then the lock on the knob itself, pushing at the door to ensure it’s fully closed for good measure.

Finally, when everything is squared away, he plops himself onto the couch. His laptop slides toward him a bit, prompting him to move it to the coffee table so he can stretch his legs out. For a split second, he deliberates on whether or not to pull it back to him so he can catch up on work he missed today, but the length of time it takes for him to blink seems to him a clear no from his own body.

Sleep doesn’t come quickly, but the muffled, constant rumble of the dryer combined with the strip of moonlight peeking out from the room where Hoseok sleeps keeps him calm enough to grant it to him in less than an hour, at least.