Jin was moving into a new apartment in Daegu, a city known for its high population of cat hybrids. He knew it was a socially risky move to live in Daegu, as he was a dog hybrid. It might’ve been less worrisome if he had been the kind of breed that was considered “domestic,” though the idea that some breeds were more wild than others was completely false and quite frankly racist, but that’s just the kind of world he had to live with. His was a husky-hybrid who was often mistaken for a wolf-hybrid, a breed particularly risky to be born as in some areas.
Moving to Daegu, as one could imagine, was a difficult decision for Jin. He worried that he’d face discrimination, even if people had been over the years becoming more accepting of hybrids and all the breeds in between, but racism was never something anyone would live without experiencing. People of all kinds, hybrids or not, faced hardships just because of who they were. It was mostly hybrids, he admitted to himself, that were targeted (even by other hybrids), but nonetheless there was plenty of judgement to go around.
This led him to believe he shouldn’t let other people rule his life. So what if he as a dog were to live in Daegu? There were no laws against it, and even if some people had a problem with it, he could always tell them to go fuck themselves. Even so, why go looking for trouble? Why would he take such a risk just to live in a particular city? If he could avoid unpleasant encounters, why wouldn’t he?
Well, that was because Kim Seokjin, a dog-hybrid, had a bit of a fetish for cat hybrids. He discovered this in his youth thanks to some very specifically designed porn websites, dedicated to all different kinds of hybrids. He at first stayed on sites that featured dog-hybrids- bitches with bitches, hounds with hounds, and of course hounds and bitches together (gender was never a big deal to Kim Seokjin)- but occasionally he looked at sites that featured cat-hybrids.
He told himself that it was just because he was curious as to if cats intermingled differently than dogs. That excuse never really held up well as the only differences between most hybrids were their ears, eyes, and tails (sometimes noses, depending on the hybrid), with the occasional facial ornament such as whiskers. None of those things really changed how sex worked. That excuse, if ever scrutinized even slightly, would crumble apart within seconds. And one day it did.
By accident, Jin had found a video of a bitch and a tomcat. The thumbnail had only shown the female riding some male, with her large breasts taking up most of the picture, so how was he to know she was riding a tomcat? The video title didn’t mention it, so it was a complete surprise to him. More surprising, however, was how he responded to what he was seeing. He was horny as fuck, and in his hormonal teenage haze, he didn’t think about the details until after he had finished taking care of himself. In fact, he took care of himself dozens of times as he watched this kind of content before he really faced the nuances of his interest in hybrid-mixing porn.
It had taken a few years to really understand his attractions and if he was okay with them, but as an adult approaching his mid-twenties, he understood himself very well and though he was afraid of what others would think of him, he was most certainly not judgemental towards himself.
He had long since gotten over his sexual awakening and cats were no longer just something for him to fetishize (though he did that, too, sometimes). He had no intention of ever settling down with another dog. He wanted to fall in love with a cat, to get married, and maybe adopt children together or something. If he ever got over his fear of imprinting all his flaws onto impressionable youngins.
That was his dream. Well, it was one of his dreams, but an important one nonetheless. He was almost twenty-five. There was still time to find someone- plenty of time, especially since anyone at any age in their adult life could search for and find love- but he couldn’t wait any longer. He wanted to find his life-partner now- soon- and live happily forever after.
So he decided to move to Daegu, the city with the largest cat-hybrid population in all of South Korea.
It had been hard to find a good place to live. No one could reject his applications just because he was a dog, but as long as they gave some other excuse (or even simply rejected him without a specified reason) they could get away with it. It took a lot of searching, and a lot of uncomfortable conversations with unsure renters and landlords who clearly weren’t digging his ‘moving to Daegu’ plan, but eventually he found a decent one-bedroom apartment within a complex wedged between a bakery and a flower shop that wasn’t too expensive. He figured at least it would always smell nice. And the renter, a man named Kim Namjoon, never made him feel uncomfortable. He seemed to be genuinely open-minded and accepting of all kinds of species. Not just for a human, either. He also didn’t ask too many personal questions, which made Jin feel respected and comfortable.
He had enough money to pay for the first six months of rent even if he didn’t have a job, but on the big day of his move he noticed a help wanted sign posted in front of the bakery that neighbored his apartment complex. Perhaps he wouldn’t even need one month to find a job. He was an incredible cook, and he dabbled in pastries, too, so he assumed he would get hired there if he applied. He wouldn’t have to worry about transportation either since it was so close to his new home. Things seemed to be coming together quite nicely, despite everything being so new and unfamiliar.
“I think I’ll apply for a position in that bakery,” he said as he carried boxes with his friend, Hoseok, another dog-hybrid. He was a chocolate labrador, to be exact, with the cutest folded over floppy ears.
“Oh? I’m sure you’d love that, Jinnie. They’d be fools not to hire you, as well. You fucking masterchef genius,” he said back, bringing a small smile to his friend’s face. His smile faded slightly when he saw in the bakery a few cats working. He wondered if they would hire him, after all.
It was early in the morning when they started taking boxes into the complex, having to climb two sets of stairs both on their way up and back down because the elevator was broken, but Jin wasn’t the richest guy and didn’t have many things to take up in the first place. The furniture took the longest to transport, but really the biggest items they had to bring in were a couch, a coffee table, and a nightstand. It was nearly noon by the time they finished and Hoseok crashed himself down onto the couch they had just brought up to the living room to finally relax.
Jin situated himself in the kitchen, which had no wall separating it from the living room, just countertops high enough to put in stools on the other side of them if he so wished. He liked being able to see his TV from the kitchen in this new apartment, as the kitchen is where he did most of his relaxing.
“Thanks for helping me move in, Hobi. Would’ve taken me all damn day without your help. I would make you lunch as thanks, but I don’t really have groceries yet,” he said apologetically.
“Nah, it’s alright. I’m fine.” Just as he said that his stomach growled loud enough for Jin to hear it. “Well, maybe you could just order something?”
“Yes, of course,” Jin replied with a smirk. “I was gonna do that anyways. I’m not gonna make you do a bunch of manual labor without making sure you’re fed. That’s just immoral.”
“That’s kind of you- sorry- decent of you, hyung, but I did this out of the kindness of my own heart. I know you couldn’t have gotten this couch in here even if you tried all day. Your broad shoulders tell broad lies about your strength, Jinnie.”
“Gee, thank you for that,” Jin deadpanned.
“No problem, hyung.” Jin stared over at his dongsaeng for a moment, his brown tail wagging back and forth so obviously, and smiled.
“Hey, do you wanna go out to eat, actually? I don’t really feel like fast food right now and you’re gonna be here all day anyways, right?”
“Yes. I assumed I was spending the night just to make sure no one tries to break in here and kill you in your sleep.”
“Hoseok, there are other dogs that live here; it isn’t like I’m the first dog ever to live in Daegu.”
“Still, I worry. I didn't see a single other dog in this apartment complex. And plus I’m gonna miss you. So I have two reasons to force you to share that twin sized bed of yours.”
“I don’t have a problem with you staying- I want you to. I was just asking if you wanted to go out.”
“Gasp! My teenage heart flutters with excitement! Did Kim Seokjin finally ask me on a date?” he joked.
“Are we going out or not?” Jin said through chuckles.
“Of course. Do you even know what’s around here, though?”
“We can always look around and try something new, Hobi-ah. Do you wanna go now, or do you need to rest for a while?”
“I am very hungry, but five more minutes would be nice.”
“Alright. I’m gonna go drop off the security deposit to my landlord real quick.”
“Sure. I’ll be here awaiting your return,” Hoseok said, throwing an arm dramatically over his face as he continued to lay on the entirety of Jin’s couch. The elder laughed and headed out the front door into the hallway. His room was on the third floor, right across another tenant. He wondered who lived there, if they’d make good neighbors, or if he’d even want to be friends with his neighbor, or neighbors now that he thought of it.
He didn’t distract himself from his current mission, though, and he headed down the stairs, which only highlighted how his legs were beginning to ache from the day’s work, to drop off his security deposit to the front office. On his way he saw the apartment complex’s post office: a wall of little boxes with numbers corresponding to apartment floor numbers from 1-4 and letters from A-D (his was apartment 3-B).
There was a black-haired tomcat there signing for a huge package. He was dressed in tiny denim shorts and a starry gray crop-top. He couldn’t help but notice his cute little tail swaying back and forth ever so slowly as he talked to the delivery woman, and how his midriff was not so subtly showing, a view of his belly-button poking out, too. The tomcat’s ears twitched a little (cute, Jin thought) as he laughed and began to blush under the woman’s gaze.
Needless to say he was getting a little worked up at the sight of this male. He had been staring for only a few seconds, but it was enough to embarrass himself before he made it into the front office.
His landlord was actually working the front desk for some reason. He looked up from his computer and greeted Jin with a smile.
“Hello, again, Mr. Kim. You moving in alright? Is anything wrong?” he asked.
“Oh, no- hello- everything is fine. I just came to drop off my security deposit, actually.” He held it out with both his hands and bowed a little, to which the man nodded and took it into his own hands.
“Thank you. If you have any problems in the future, you can come up to this office for help. I don’t usually work in here, but my dear Lisa is on vacation, so- here I am.”
“What kind of things could I get help with?” he asked.
“Well if something breaks, you can notify someone here and we’ll schedule a mechanic to go fix it, or if you see any bugs- you shouldn’t, our complex is clean- but if you should see a concerning number of them you can get help with that, too. Or if you need an extension for your rent- say something unexpected and expensive comes up and you can’t pay on time- you can apply for that here. That’s only for emergencies, though. And if you have a dispute with another tenant- say someone threatens you- you can report that here, too. We have a no violence policy.”
“Th-thank you, sir. That’s awfully considerate of you. I’ll be sure to come for help if I should need it,” Jin said, quite shocked by the rent extension and protection policies. He really got the best landlord, didn’t he?
“That’s good to hear. Please don’t hesitate either, okay? I’m not gonna charge you more money or kick you out if you need help with something.”
“Is that all you came in for?” he asked, placing Jin’s envelope next to him on his desk.
“Uh, yes, sir.”
“Alright. I hope you enjoy living here in Bangtan Village.” With that he returned to his computer, inputting something clearly important by the way his face scrunched up in concentration.
“Actually,” Jin started, causing him to look up again, no annoyance in his eyes, “Do you know of any good places to eat around here? I’m new in town, and my friend and I wanted to get lunch...”
“Ah, yes. Are you picky? Looking for something in particular?”
“No, anything will do, as long as it’s good.”
“Right,” he said back with a smile, “There is a bakery- you may have seen it on your way inside- that does actually serve things other than cakes- I had some really good gumbo there, just saying- so perhaps that would work for you. Or there’s a bulgogi place a block down on the right hand side of the entrance gate- they’re pretty good, and serve generous amounts of meat, just saying, though they'll have you cook all your own food. Does that help solve your lunch inquiry?”
“Yes, I think it does. Thank you again, sir,” Jin said.
“No problem. Make sure you eat enough. See you around.” Jin bowed and then headed out of the front office, feeling pretty good about his new home.
He walked passed the wall of mailboxes and looked to see if the pretty tomcat from before was still there, but he wasn’t. This disappointed him a little, but he was sure he’d get to oggle him again on another occasion. They both lived in the same complex, so surely they’d see each other at some point.
He headed up the stairs again, feeling pretty hungry himself as he thought about the gumbo his landlord had mentioned. He wanted to try it, and since he had been given a recommendation from his very kind landlord, he thought it was safe to assume that the cats that ran the place wouldn’t judge him. Unless Mr. Kim was a naïve person who didn’t even think about the possible interactions that Jin might have with those who lived here, but he wouldn’t bet on that.
His thoughts were interrupted when he made it to the second set of stairs and saw halfway up them the pretty tomcat from before, struggling to carry the large package to the top. Jin for a moment forgot he was even there existing at the bottom of the stairs as he stared at the cat’s butt from such an angle, his tail barely wiggling from his concentration.
“Maybe I should take a rest here,” the cat mumbled to himself, his breath a little labored.
“Do you need help with that?” Jin asked. The tomcat’s tail straightened out, showing that Jin had startled him, before he turned his head and ears a bit to discover who was behind him. He couldn't make out who it was due to the huge box in his hands. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Oh, n-no. That’s okay. I’ll gladly accept your help, please.” Jin hurried up the steps to meet him face-to-face, where he then took the box out of the cat’s hands. He hoped he wasn’t being too obvious, but as he stood next to him, he could smell the cat very easily, and he smelled incredibly good. Like a strawberry tart. Jin could get used to a smell like that. “You- you have two different colored eyes,” the tomcat said blankly. Jin lifted his brows at the random statement. “I mean- sorry- that was rude of me. I’ve just never seen that on someone before.”
Jin shrugged in response and continued up the steps, unbothered by the statement. Most people he made acquaintance with would mention his heterochromia at one point or another, asking if they were real or saying how pretty his single sky blue eye was next to the other dark brown. It wasn't uncommon for husky breeds to have two different colored eyes. It was considered a sign of playfulness, and sometimes immaturity.
Yet the tomcat followed with his arms folded over one another, seemingly nervous to be around such a wild-looking dog-hybrid.
“You should lead the way,” Jin said. “I don’t know where to drop this off.”
“Oh, right, it’s this way,” the cat said, his shoulders starting to cave in a little. Jin followed him wordlessly, trying not to scare him any more than he already had (though it saddened him to think that his appearance had scared him).
He looked down at the box in his hands to try and make himself smaller and noticed a label was pasted onto it.
“Do you make music?” he asked.
“Music? What makes you ask that?”
“This box is labeled sounding equipment.”
“Oh, um, I sing and occasionally record things, but that's not what this stuff is for,” he said shyly, his ears wilting under his embarrassment. Jin decided to leave it at that. He was just making the poor thing feel worse and worse somehow.
It soon became clear to him that he was following this tomcat back to his new apartment. He thought perhaps he lived passed him, but once they got to his door, the cat stopped and began unlocking the door across from his. He motioned for Jin to go inside, which made him only a little concerned at first, until he realized he just wanted the box dropped off in his living room and that he hadn’t just invited him into his apartment.
“Thanks for helping me with that,” the tomcat said as he showed Jin back through the front door. He leaned in the doorway as he rubbed his arm before adding, “I’m sorry about the eyes comment. I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“No, you didn’t offend me. It was just unexpected.”
“Oh.” He perked up at that, straightening his shoulders and leaning in a more loose pose, one that was more relaxed. One that showed off his stomach a bit more, Jin couldn't help but notice as a warmth spread through his cheeks.
“I’m Kim Seokjin, by the way. I actually just moved in right over there,” he said, looking over at his front door directly across from them.
“I’m Kim Taehyung. It’s nice to see a new face around here. I’m glad you’re my new neighbor.” Taehyung stretched out his hand to shake the other’s, a boxy smile creeping up onto his face. Jin thought he saw the other flashing his lashes at him, but it was for such a brief second that he must've just imagined it.
“You’re awfully friendly.”
“It’s just that you were so nice, helping me out there and whatnot. That’s a good sign. Could’ve been some jerk moving in next door to me, you know?”
“Well, I’m not a jerk, so... guess that’s a good thing.”
“Yeah,” he said back. There was an awkward pause then as Taehyung stared at Jin with a strange pucker in his cheeks, probably wanting to go inside and open his package. His tail was slowly curling around, and Jin couldn't tell if it was a sign of nervousness or not.
“If you should ever have trouble carrying another package, I’ll be right across from you. Feel free to call on me. I won’t be bothered,” he said in an attempt to wrap up their conversation before it grew too stale.
“I’ll be sure to do that. Thank you, Jin... hyung?”
“I’m gonna be twenty-five in like 3 months.”
“Jin-hyung,” he said more confidently. “See you.”
Jin waved goodbye as Taehyung, the pretty tomcat, his new neighbor, shut his door. He was awe-struck.