As Renjun hears a door slam open for the third time in the past hour, Renjun sighs, pausing his drama again as he pulls out one earbud.
“For the third time today Yukhei, yes a boy calling you a ‘tall drink of water’ is considered flirting, and no I will not help you come up with a reply. Just kiss him so he stops talking, because at this rate you’ll never get anything done. I mean, who actually runs half a mile to a vet office just to scream at their friend just because a boy is small and cute? You have a phone, and with the amount of memes you post, you clearly know how to use it. As a matter of fact, why don’t you—” Renjun finally looks up from his drama, grabbing his phone from his pocket so he can demonstrate to Yukhei exactly how to send a text, when he finally sees who’s at the door.
“Is this all Kun-gege hires you to do? Handle my company’s interns and watch dramas while he slaves away doing paperwork?” Sicheng asks, twirling his id card with his fingers as he smiles at Renjun. And of course he would be there, it’s Thursday, why wouldn’t he be there? He had reminded Dr. Qian just an hour before that Sicheng was supposed to show up soon. If anything, Sicheng was actually late for picking up Dr. Qian for his weekly “business” lunch with him and Ten. Although, Renjun doesn’t think there can be much business talk between a veterinarian, a marketing director, and a tattoo artist, but hey if it means he gets an extra hour for his lunchtime nap, he’s not going to say anything.
“Gege, you know as well as I do that Dr. Qian just puts everything on post-its and then hands everything to me to digitize it. If anything, me handling that and your stupid intern every day deserves some kind of award and you know it.” Renjun says, scoffing as he closes the browser window. Picking up the stack of patient files he had rewritten and digitized this morning, he starts walking to the file room, counting down in his head. “5, 4, 3, 2…” , and side steps promptly, narrowly avoiding the door that suddenly swings wildly open as his boss rushes into the reception room visibly disheveled.
“Renjun why didn’t you say it was nearly time for Sicheng to come? I would’ve been up and waiting already?” Dr. Qian says, trying and failing to button his shirt while his tie slips from where it was around the back of his neck straight to the ground.
“I did Dr. Qian, three separate times. Each time I told you, you woke up, screamed at me to find a new tie,then I‘d come back to see you asleep again with the tie in your cup of coffee again. So I would replace the tie and then try again, but you kept doing it boss. Maybe you should try working during normal hours? I think I heard that could help in saving ties.” Renjun says, shifting the files he’s still holding as he tries maintaining a straight face even as Sicheng starts snickering next to him.
“Oh really? I’ll have to look into that I guess. Now, do you happen to have one that stayed clean?” Dr. Qian says absent-mindedly as he keeps fumbling with the buttons on his shirt. Renjun sighs, bending down and setting the files on the ground before walking to his boss and unbuttoning the entire shirt.
“Boss, just leave it like that without a tie, you have a shirt underneath. You’re only 24, you deserve to dress like it at least once in your life. Plus I think anyone that sees you will like it quite a bit. Now go on before Ten-gege starts yelling at you for being late.”
It’s this that finally makes Sicheng crack, bowling over in laughter as Renjun’s boss turns a bright red. Renjun only smiles, turning back to grab the files before finally going into the file room. He hears a few murmurs before finally the telltale sound of the front door opening sounds and he lets out a breath. Finally alone, he relaxes his shoulders and looks around at the room, sighing as he takes in what could only be a disaster zone caused by one veterinarian during another four-coffee, late night paper frenzy. Renjun can only groan, knowing that at least an hour of his break is now going to be spent cleaning up the file room for the second time this week.
It’s not like he regrets his decision to become a veterinarian. If anything, getting his computer science schedule accidentally switched with a veterinary student’s schedule was a happy accident that he doesn’t think he would ever try to reverse, even if it means having to take care of a 24 year-old who doesn’t know how to work any of the technology he specifically bought for his own clinic. He actually enjoys it, enjoys meeting all the adorable pets that come in, enjoys helping Dr. Qian in healing any ailments, heck he even enjoys giving all the pets baths. But right now, clutching his throbbing head and staring at the boy dressed in all white, or what would be white if not for the blood covering his entire front, that had just burst through the front door, he’s starting to regret ignoring his mom’s suggestion to add a minor to his degree.
He just wanted a nap. It took him well over an hour to finally clean up the file room, leaving him with only 30 minutes to get in a good nap, the other 15 to hide away his pillow and blanket and seem somewhat put together for when Dr. Qian walked back into the clinic. He crawls underneath his desk, making sure to duck his head as he crawls towards his makeshift bed. As he finally settles in, he sighs, setting an alarm to go off in 30 minutes, before pulling on his sleep mask and slowly drifts off to sleep. What feels like ages later (which, he later finds out was only 5 minutes. 5 freaking worthless minutes, god he hates men), he’s jarred out of sleep by the door slamming open, causing him to shout as he throws himself up into a sitting position. That is, only to shout again a second later as he ends up slamming his head into the desk. Clutching his head, Renjun makes his way out from underneath the desk, already ready to give Yukhei his absolute worst death glare for interrupting what he knows is Renjun’s only real time to get good interrupted sleep.
But as soon as he glances at the boy at the door he freezes up. Out of all times for a crazy murder to show up it’s now? He cries internally, both at the situation and for his poor aching head, as he tries to see if the boy is holding any kind of weapon. He looks at him, taking in the blood-stained white clothes and the cap covering the boy's face as the boy stands with his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. Thank goodness, it doesn’t look like the boy has a weapon. Wait, this is his chance. Renjun quickly looks around, trying to find anything that he can use as a weapon. Perfect! He grabs the scissors lying on his desk before turning back to the boy at the front door, lifting them up and pointing them just as the boy finally raises his head and oh . Oh no, murderer boy is cute .
“Of course the one time I meet a cute guy he’s actually insane.” Renjun mutters to himself as he looks up into the corner to make sure the camera is still turned on, missing how the boy’s eyes widen for a second at the scissors before a smile covers his face. He curses as he sees that, yet again, his boss forgot to turn on literally the only thing that could possibly help the police solve his murder. That train of thought is quickly lost as he hears the guy take a step towards him, and Renjun quickly whips his head back around, and is suddenly face-to-face with an angel. He’s at a loss as he stares, trying to figure out how a boy with blood covering his face and entire front can look that angelic when smiling. He doesn’t know how long he keeps staring (or how long the boy weirdly keeps staring back with that stupidly cute smile on his face), but it gets broken as they both suddenly hear the sound of a weak bark. At the noise, the boy suddenly seems to snap out of it.
“The vet is in right?” The boy says, looking at Renjun. Renjun pauses, trying to understand what just happened.
“No actually, he just stepped out, but I can call him if you need me to? Let me go find the phone.” Renjun says, dropping the scissors and frantically looking around for the phone that he could have sworn was right next to the computer. Ah there it is, underneath his pillow. He dials up Kun’s number, swinging back into the direction of the boy.
“What happened anyways? Why are you covered in- oh he’s gone” Renjun says as he finally glances up, just as he gets sent to Kun’s voicemail. What on earth was that?
“Am I on acid or something? What was it that broke me? Before I truly need to lose it I need to know, was it Yukhei? Please tell me it was that dumbass, that’s all I need to know.” Renjun says to himself, scrunching his eyes closed as he clasps his hands together. That’s when the sound of the door slamming open scares him for the second time, causing him to scream as his eyes open again only to see a massive ball of reddish fluff coming at him at full speed. God, why does the universe want me to die in such a weird way? Renjun sighs, clutching his head and crouching down. Maybe he shouldn’t have messed with Yukhei’s love life so much. But honestly, he was doing him a favor. Someone as hopeless as Yukhei should just leave it to the professionals. Not that he’s a professional, hell he’s about to die without having even kissed a guy yet. God, why can’t death just come faster?
“Uh, are you not going to help?” A deep voice interrupts, causing Renjun to snap out of his thoughts, looking up only to see the same blood covered boy, holding a gigantic fluffy pinkish dog.
“Because it seems like the poor girl’s been bleeding for a while and it hasn’t stopped in the time I’ve been with her.” The boy continues. Renjun blushes as he stands up coming closer to examine the dog. Renjun quickly begins to ignore the boy though as he begins to quickly examine the dog. Spotting a dark tint on one part of the dog, he slowly moves aside fur until he can fully see the wound.
“Oh no, you really hurt yourself there pretty girl. Why don’t we go and see if we can’t fix that for you, huh?” Renjun says as he lightly strokes the dog’s head. He then turns, walking towards examination room one. When he doesn’t hear footsteps behind him, he turns only to see the boy still standing in the exact same spot.
“Don’t just stand there, hurry up before the problem gets more serious.” Renjun says as he gestures at the boy to come. Opening the door, he gestures the boy inside, telling him to set the dog on the examination table. The boy gently sets the dog down, stroking the dog’s face as it begins to whine.
“Easy cutie, don’t worry. I’m going to just stitch you up real quick, make you feel all better I promise.” Renjun says as he grabs his tools and begins to stitch up the wound.
“Thank goodness it seems to be just a flesh wound, and we don’t even need to shave you, you massive fluffball.” Renjun says smiling as he closes up the wound. He smiles as he pats the dog, laughing as the dog licks his palm.
“Looks like your dog is going to be just fine!” Renjun says, finally looking at the boy, who looks at him confused.
“Oh she’s not mine, not at all. But thank you so much for helping her! She seemed so sad when I saw her while I was out on my break.” The boy says, giving Renjun a full smile. Renjun looks at him amazed, unwilling to believe the boy actually had a better smile than the first one. The boy just keeps smiling at him, both of them ignoring the dog wagging its tail between the two.
It’s right at this moment that a chime sounds off, causing the boy to pull out his phone and glance at it. Renjun, still staring at him, barely even registers the boy’s face pale rapidly.
What he does notice is the sound of the stupid door slamming one more time as the boy races out, shaking him out of whatever trance that boy had put him under.
“Stupid men.” Renjun mutters as he shakes his head, cleaning up the mess he made before he checks on the dog again.
“Hey Renjun, sorry I took longer than usual, anything happened while I was gone?” his boss asks, unaware that Renjun had finally collapsed back on his chair only a few minutes prior after putting away the newest addition to the clinic into her cage. Dr. Qian watches in complete bewilderment as Renjun, the most level-headed intern he’s ever had, just groans and slams his head onto the desk.
“An angel visited.”
Two weeks. Two weeks of double-checking his surroundings, of skipping his lunch breaks in favor of sitting at the desk and waiting for the boy to appear again. Even on Sundays, his day off, Renjun made sure to walk by the clinic and briefly pop inside on his way to meet Yukhei, hoping to catch a glimpse of the angelic boy checking in on the dog he brought in. It’s not until the second Sunday that Yukhei finally says something.
“Dude this is the second time you’ve been late and you’re never late,” Yukhei comments, taking a huge bite of his bagel. “Does it have anything to do with that Angel you mentioned?”
“First of all, don’t speak while eating. I know for a fact your mother would smack the back of your head if she could see you now Yukhei, and I’m not above acting as her stand-in,” Renjun states, smiling in satisfaction when Yukhei chokes as he tries to rapidly swallow the food in his mouth. “Second, I already told you about Angel, you begged me for hours yesterday until I sent you a video of her playing fetch.”
Yukhei gives him a look, “ You know that’s not what I meant.”
“Angel boy”— Renjun sighs and drags his hands over his face—”Angel boy hasn’t appeared once . I thought maybe he would come to check up on Angel, but nope.”
“It really be like that sometimes huh.”
“What? I’m trying to be supportive!”
“If you want to be supportive,” Renjun smirks, leaning back on his chair, “Why don’t we talk about how you’re going to ask your coworker on a date.” He bursts out laughing as Yukhei’s foot slips from where it was resting on the legs of the table, his chair topples backwards, and Yukhei and the chair end up on the ground. Renjun watches as Yukhei’s face turns bright red as he pulls himself off the ground, refusing the helping hand the waiter offers.
“You’re the worst, you know that right? Anyways, we’ve discussed your plan before and you know I…” Yukhei complains, continuing to speak even as Renjun tunes him out, thoughts drifting back to the boy. Was that really the last time he would ever see him? And what was with him anyway? Why could he not stop thinking about a boy he saw once? Why was the boy invading his thoughts, ruining his sleep? All these thoughts kept swarming around in his head throughout the rest of his day: as he walked home, as he watched his drama, even as Renjun lied down to go to sleep that night it was like he couldn’t get rid of him.
“I need to just give up already.” Renjun whispers out loud as he shuts his eyes, drifting to sleep with the image of the boy’s smile still playing in his mind.
When Renjun walks into the doors of the clinic the next day, he’s immediately greeted by the sight of his boss asleep, slumped in one of the lounge chairs in the reception room, a bucket full of dirty water precariously balanced on the armrest of another. He stares at the sight in front of him in bewilderment, he knows Sundays are pretty much the one day his boss doesn’t accidentally stay at the clinic overnight because despite being anti-religion, his boss insists that ‘No one should work late on god’s day’ (Renjun just thinks it’s his boss’s excuse to leave and go get drinks with his friends). It’s not until he finally looks back towards the kennels and sees the trail of dirty paw prints leading from them to the washroom that he remembers the massive storm that happened Saturday night. The huge downpour must have ruined the outdoor space. And, knowing his boss, Renjun is almost positive Dr. Qian forgot about the storm and went out to give all the adoptable dogs their weekly obedience lesson, and then spent all last night trying to wash the previously pristine dogs and passed out in the reception room again. Letting out a sigh of defeat, Renjun slowly walks over and carefully grabs the bucket with both hands, moving the bucket out of harm’s way before walking back to Kun and gently shaking his shoulder.
“Hey boss, you did it again,” he says, watching as Kun sits up, decorative pillow clutched in his hands as he blearily opens an eye. “Do you want me to finish up washing the rest of the dogs?”
“Renjun? What are you doing here? It isn’t time to open yet,” Kun mutters, shutting his eyes and pulling the pillow closer to his chest. “Come back when it’s 7 like you’re supposed to.”
“Boss, it’s currently 8, if anything I’m late.”
“ What? ” Dr. Qian shouts, eyes flying open as he jumps up, pillow flying into the air and landing right into the bucket causing dirty water to fly all over the carpet. Renjun winces, that's an hour from his lunch break gone.
“By the way since when was I supposed to be coming in at 7?” Renjun asks, walking to the bucket, pulling out the soaked pillow and setting the bucket upright. “For the past five weeks, it’s been 8, you said that I need to ‘appreciate sleep while it's still a familiar concept’ when you first gave me my hours.”
“I could’ve sworn I sent you a text last night asking you to come in early and help me clean the rest of the dogs?” Dr. Qian loudly mutters to himself, pulling out his phone. “Oh I forgot to send it.”
“Which dog did you stop at?” Renjun regrets asking almost immediately as he watches Dr. Qian’s face pale rapidly.
“I’ll help you clean them Renjun, let me just go and change into my swim trunks”
“No it’s fine boss, I’m ahead of the paperwork and cleaning the dogs is one of my jobs anyways. Just go take a nap, I’ll wake you up if I need help.” Renjun insists, lightly grabbing Dr. Qian’s arm and pushing him in the direction of his office. Renjun watches his boss like a hawk as he drags himself into his office, waiting for him to disappear before he can let out the groan he’s been holding back since he walked in.
“If anything—” His boss starts, hands grabbing the door as he pops his head out to look Renjun in the eye.
“If anything happens boss, I promise to get you. Now please go and let me do my job” Renjun says, leveling his boss with a glare. Finally, the door fully shuts and Renjun crouches down, sets his head in his hands and groans. He stands back up, deciding to wait and clean up the reception room and halls after he’s finished giving baths.
“Let’s see how bad this even is.” He mutters to himself, swinging open the kennel door and preparing himself. “Nice, it’s a fucking disaster.”
Four hours and nine dogs later, Renjun puts Ruby back into her cage, breathing a sigh of relief as he turns and looks at the last cage.
“Alright Angel, let’s try to finish up quick and maybe I’ll have enough time to take a nap before Boss-man wakes up and starts freaking out” Renjun says to Angel as he opens her cage, laughing when she immediately runs out of the kennel room and sits by the washroom door, tail wagging. He walks over, opening the door and sighing as he finally gets a look at her underbelly, now a deep brown from all the mud caked there. He loves Angel, he really does. She’s a sweet dog, always happy to see him and a quick learner, but man does she love to get dirty.
“You’re by far the best behaved dog, aren’t you Angel? But maybe that’s because we do this three times a week.” Renjun says, ruffling Angel’s mud-crusted coat and smiling.
“You’re so cute but such a little mess aren’t you?” Angel gives a little bark and Renjun sighs. If only Yukhei listened to him this well, maybe he’d have a boyfriend by now. He turns on the hose, humming as he holds his hand underneath the spray of water, checking the temperature before he starts to methodically spray up and down Angel’s back. Watching as the water turns murky and spirals down the drain, he can’t help but to think that he really deserves a pay raise at this point. He honestly still has no idea how Dr. Qian was functioning in his clinic before he appeared and took over the paperwork. Maybe he should give a speech to his boss when he wakes up, and make sure Dr. Qian understands how much he contributes to the clinic. It’s in the middle of him drafting his third point (if you refuse to hire a receptionist or accountant, at least compensate me for doing it for you), when his phone starts to ring, startling him and ruining his train of thought. Renjun sighs, dropping the hose back into the sink. He wipes his hands on his swim trunks he had grabbed from his locker, and nearly slams his head into the wall in frustration as he sees ‘Annoying Idiot’ flashing on the screen.
“What do you want now Yukhei?” Renjun says as soon as he swipes ‘accept’ and turns on speakerphone. “Did you actually listen to me for once?”
“Like fifty percent?”
“How the hell? Dude I literally said go up, call him cute and ask him to lunch. Doing just one of those is such a cop-out Yukhei and you know it.” Renjun says loudly as he reaches for the shampoo next to him and pours some into his hand. “So which half did you end up saying to him?”
“I called him cute and oh. My. God. Renjun! he! He turned so red!” Yukhei screams the last part into the phone, causing Renjun to wince as he’s rubbing the shampoo into Angel’s fur.
“And? What did you do?”
“I ran to the stairwell so I could call you and scream?”
Renjun holds in his own scream, breathing deeply and petting Angel in the hopes of calming himself down as he sends a glare to his cell and speaks as clearly as he can, “Listen here Wong Yukhei, as soon as this call finishes, you are walking up to him and asking him to go to lunch with you tomorrow or so help me I will march myself down there and do it myself, and we both know you don’t want that right?”
“Look I gotta finish giving Angel her bath, we can talk more on Wednesday during my lunch break about how your date went” Renjun cuts him off, picking back the hose up to quickly wash the rest of the bubbles off the dog.
“Wow Huang Renjun? Taking his lunch break for once? Are you sure you didn’t give yourself brain damage when you slammed your head a few weeks ago? I mean your head isn’t even that–”
“Goodbye Yukhei.” Renjun ends the call, turning back to look at Angel, still covered in bubbles. He smiles, patting her head as he turns the hose back on, making sure to check the temperature is alright before he sprays her down.
“Now, let’s try to be calmer this time Angel, can you do that for me?” Angel shakes her body, causing bubbles to fly everywhere. “Of course. What else did I expect?”
By the time Renjun finishes washing all of the dirt and soap off of Angel, he’s completely soaked, body covered in random patches of suds. He resigns himself to the fact that he’s probably going to stay like this until he dries Angel off and cleans up the rest of the mess spread throughout the clinic. He plugs in the dryer and pats the table, satisfied when Angel jumps up and sits. As he turns it on and slowly begins to try and dry this massive fluffball of a dog, he can’t help but to think that he would’ve preferred to just hopelessly stare at the entrance like a lovesick fool instead of spending the time washing ten different dogs. At least then he’d be warm and dry instead of soaking wet. It’s just as he finishes up and is about to put her back into her crate that he hears the sound of the bells jingling above the entrance, signalling that he now has to go deal with a client while looking like a sad drowned cat. He sighs and closes Angel’s crate, making sure to give her one last pat on the head before he locks it and heads back to reception.
Not looking up as he walks into the room, he starts to speak mindlessly, “Hello and welcome to Dr. Qian’s veterinary clinic where our first priority is your furry friend’s happiness. I’m Renjun, how can I help you?”
“Hey uh we met last time, you helped me with a huge dog? Fluffy? Covered in blood? I was walking to meet someone for lunch when I spotted this cat and I remembered this place and I thought maybe you can help him?”
At that, Renjun’s head shoots up, mouth dropping as he takes in the boy that hasn’t left his mind in two weeks smiling sheepishly at him, a black kitten cradled in his arms. Of course this is what he gets. Of course when the boy finally shows back up he’s absolutely soaked, covered in dog fur and bubbles. Out of the thousand different scenarios Renjun had dreamt up over the past two weeks, this was definitely not one of them. Renjun couldn’t help but to start panic. Should he try to change quickly? Maybe close his eyes and wish really hard to become invisible? Pray for time to rewind so he could’ve at least toweled off before walking in? Millions of thoughts rushed into his head as his face started to pinken, his mind going so fast that he barely even remembered that the boy was still standing there, waiting for him to respond.
“So, Renjun was it? Do you think you could help?” The boy says, head tilting as he looks at Renjun.
Renjun pauses his internal freakout and takes a deep breath before he looks up to the boy and speaks as calmly as he can. “Follow me to the exam room, let me see if I can figure out what’s wrong with him.”
“So are you working alone again?” The boy questions, striking up a conversation as Renjun directs him to the same exam room as last time.
“My boss is currently in the fifth hour of his ‘nap’ so pretty much, yeah” Renjun says, breath hitching when the boy laughs brightly. Looks like he was right in dreaming that the boy’s laugh would light up a room in an instant. Shaking his head, Renjun directs the boy to set the kitten down on the table so he can better examine him. The kitten meows in protest, curling up into a ball as soon as the boy sets him on the table. He starts his initial examination, stopping when he presses lightly on the kitten’s stomach and the kitten lets out a loud meow, claws coming out and nearly scratching his hand. Renjun frowns.
“Did you see anything next to him? Like a bowl or something?” Renjun asks, an idea forming in his head.
“No? But there was definitely some diarrhea nearby and he vomited while I was heading over here,” the boy responds, a worried look starting to form on his face. “Is he ok? Do you know what’s wrong?”
“I have an idea. Based on his age and what you just said, someone probably fed him cow’s milk, they probably didn’t know some cats are allergic to it and some aren’t. But with some fluids and monitoring, he should be fine.” Renjun says, stroking the cat with one hand, smiling when the boy’s face lights up in obvious relief. The boy stares at him blankly for a while, before grabbing Renjun’s open hand and opening his mouth, clearly about to say something when the door flies open. Renjun nearly jumps in surprise, turning his head only to see Dr. Qian stroll in, actually dressed like a veterinarian for once, a frown on his face.
“I told you to wake me up if something happened, Renjun.” Dr. Qian says, eyeing his intern who has one hand softly stroking the cat, the other still being softly held by the boy. Renjun follows his boss’s eyeline, blushing bright red and yanking both of his hands to his side when he realizes what Dr. Qian is staring so intently at.
“Sorry Dr. Qian, I didn’t want to wake you up and this has been the only emergency case that’s come in all day so I thought I would try and handle it and then grab you if I got lost.” Renjun states quietly, head bowed as he tries to avoid the disappointed stare he knows for a fact Dr. Qian has painted on his face.
“You can’t keep doing this Renjun, this is the second time in two weeks. Please let me know,” Kun says quietly, walking over and patting his intern’s head. “Now take our customer and let him know about his kitten’s recovery process.”
“Actually I — ”
“You got it boss!” Renjun practically shouts, cutting off the boy mid-sentence as he grabs him and exits the room as quickly as he can. He practically drags the boy, moving the both of them until they’re right by the entrance of the clinic. He breathes a sigh of relief, letting go of the boy’s hand and finally standing up straight, mouth turning up into a smile.
“Sorry about that but it’s best to let my boss get his parent-lecture out of the way as quickly as possible or else we would’ve been sitting there for an hour,” Renjun says, laughing to himself as he remembers the last time he got a lecture for not eating a proper lunch. “He may be a bit scatter-brained at times, but man can he lecture like a parent who just saw their toddler say ‘fuck’ for the first time.”
“Oh wow, kind of sounds like my boss. He gets pretty upset whenever I run over my lunch time. But I mean who enforces that lunch break ends at 1 anyways? I mean, really — ” The boy complains.
“Uh, not to alarm you or anything, but the last time I checked it was 1:05.” Renjun notes as he cuts the boy off, watching as the boy whips out his phone and starts cursing under his breath.
“Fuck, fuck, god I’m going to get in so much trouble, this is my second strike in two weeks,” The boy mutters, typing something rapidly on his phone before he turns to Renjun and catches him offguard in a hug. “Thank you again for helping me! I promise I’ll repay you next time!”
Renjun freezes up at the hug, his mind whirling so fast that he can only watch as the boy races out of the clinic, the boy stopping outside just briefly enough to turn and wave goodbye before running off. Renjun barely even registers it, still stuck on what had happened only seconds prior. But as he’s just about to fall asleep later that night, the boy’s words finally sink in.
“Wait. What the fuck did he mean by next time?”
Renjun didn’t expect next time to come so soon. If anything, he expected to wait months before running into the boy again, and certainly not as the result of being dragged into the weirdest double date he’s had the misfortune of experiencing.
“Stupid fucking best friend, I should’ve ditched him back in preschool when I had the chance.” Renjun mutters under his breath, stomping to the cafe address Yukhei sent him last night. When he got the call in the morning, he had been hopeful that his best friend actually followed through for once and got himself a date. But as soon as he picked up the facetime call and saw Yukhei’s younger brother smiling cheekily at him through the screen, he knew that once again, Wong Yukhei fucked up.
“Chenle,” Renjun sighs out, glancing at this watch before tossing his phone on the bed and turning his attention back to the buttons of his shirt. “What am I doing this time, it has to be bad if you decided to piss me off at 7 in the morning.”
“Nice to see you too! To be real, I have absolutely no clue what he got himself into this time, just that Mom smacked him instead of me for once.” Chenle snickers.
“Well maybe if you stopped getting Ten-hyung to draw fake tattoos on your arms, maybe she would focus more attention on the actual problem child.” Renjun states as he finishes and picks back up his phone, suppressing a smile when the first thing he sees is Chenle shoot a pained look at him and clutching at his heart.
“Brutal hyung, just brutal.”
“DID YOU GET RENJUN ON THE PHONE?” Renjun looks on in awe as Chenle doesn’t even flinch at the scream, just turns his head and yells back.
“YEAH HYUNG DO YOU WANT ME TO SWITCH THE CAMERA?”
“Guys, you really don’t need to yell, I assure you my hearing is perfect” Renjun mockingly reassured, smirking when Chenle shot him a glare. Renjun watches as the camera view jerks and shifts as Chenle starts walking, holding back a comment when he hears his friend’s brother mutter curse as he stumbles over a pile of clothes. Then the camera flips and Renjun slowly closes his eyes as he feels a headache begin to form, taking in the sight of his best friend in the middle of a giant clothes pile, holding two tops in his hands as he mindlessly mutters to himself.
“Black long sleeve? Simple yet sexy. Great for any occasion,” Yukhei ponders aloud, and then turns his gaze to the other top. “But what if he dresses fancy? This one would be better? Wait, would it?”
“Yukhei, dude. Why in the everloving fuck are you holding two of the exact same shirt?” Renjun groans out, flopping down on his bed and holds his phone up in the air, mentally preparing himself to listen to the absolute dumbassery that’s about to come out of his friend’s mouth.
Yukhei finally turns around, leveling the camera with the most disgruntled face Renjun has ever seen on his friend. “Dude, one is silk .”
“Yeah hyung, haven’t you ever seen silk before?”
“Oh my god, please just leave the phone with Yukhei, Chenle. It’s too early to handle both of you” Renjun pleaded, breathing a sigh of relief as the screen goes dark for a brief moment.
“FUCK,” He yells as the camera view switches to a close-up of his friend’s nostrils, dropping his phone flat on his face. “Jesus christ Yukhei, you did not need to put it that close!”
“Oh sorry man, I didn’t — ” Yukhei pauses in his sentence, looking up past Renjun. “You can leave now Chenle.”
“But I want to hear how you fucked up.” Renjun hears Chenle whine in the background.
Renjun holds back a laugh. “Chenle, I’ll text you the details later, just leave your brother alone for now.” Yukhei shoots him a look of betrayal, making Renjun burst out laughing. He doesn’t stop, even as he vaguely hears the sound of Yukhei whining and a door shutting on the other end.
“You can stop now Renjun, really he’s gone there’s no need to fake that anymore.” Yukhei grumbles, making Renjun crack up all over again.
“No—Yukhei it’s not—It’s—Oh my god please stop making that stupid pouting face before I pee myself.” Renjun chokes out between laughs, trying to calm down. As he’s rolling with laughter on his bed, he manages to catch a glimpse of the clock. 7:45. Fuck. He sobers up quickly, snatching up his phone and running down the stairs, ignoring Yukhei’s noise of confusion as he shoves on his shoes and grabs his bag before racing out the door.
“Okay listen, you have the 15 minutes to tell me your problem and offer my advice. Be quick” Renjun huffs out, switching his gaze between his phone screen and the sidewalk as he jogs towards the clinic.
“Wait what? I can’t possibly—”
“15. Take it or leave it.”
“Ok, ok. So problem 1 what do I wear on the date,” Yukhei asks, Renjun glancing back at the screen to see that Yukhei has moved the phone and is now standing a bit away, holding both shirts to his torso. “I managed to narrow it down to these two, but I’m not super in love with either.”
“Neither. Yukhei, you have work in like 30 minutes. Go find one of your white work shirts, put it on and spend the rest of the time walking to your office and figuring out how in the fuck you’re going to hold a conversation with someone you barely even managed to ask on a date.” Renjun spits out, rounding a corner and spotting the clinic sign four doors down. He slows down, then stops as he catches his breath. 5 minutes until 8. He sighs internally as he glances up at the store next to him, no time for his weekly bagel at 12/7 Coffee.
“Uh yeah, about that,” Yukhei mumbles, making Renjun swing his head back down, only to look at Yukhei rubbing his head sheepishly. “You’re probably going to be helping with that seeing as you’re coming with me.”
“ What ”
“Listen I tried my best! I started off just like you said! I walked up to him and asked if he wanted to get lunch.” Yukhei spills, his words jumbling together as he rushes out his explanation. “But then he said he already ate, so I was like ‘tomorrow?’ and he just looked at me with a sad face and said Tuesdays are when he meets with his friend who works in the IT department. Apparently, they’re super strict about lunch hours, who knew?”
“ Yukhei. ”
“And he just looked so sad and you know I can’t handle people who are sad! You watched me try to buy Chenle a horse after I accidentally hit his ice cream and it fell on the ground! And that was a month ago! So I was like ‘that’s fine, he can join us’ and his face lit up Junnie. It was so cute you can’t hold this against me!”
“Okay so I can see how you ended up with a third-wheel, but how in the absolute fuck did you end up dragging me into it?” Renjun asks, trying to hold back a laugh as Yukhei’s face blanches.
Yukhei gulps. “Well you see, he just looked so sad at the thought of making his friend the third wheel so I kind of, maybe, sort of, offered to bring a friend so his friend would have someone to talk to!”
“No fucking way, I am NOT acting as some random guy’s pity date.”
“Okay, but what if I told you it’s at your favorite coffee shop and that I’ll buy your food?”
Renjun sighs. “What time am I meeting you?”
Incredibly, for once, Renjun is the one that arrives last. He bursts into 12/7 Coffee, doubling over as soon as he enters, panting. He’s well-over twenty minutes late at this point. And he hates being late. He takes a deep breath in, trying to listen to the rest of the shop. At the sound of Yukhei’s larger-than-life laugh, he breathes a sigh of relief. Looks like they’re still here. Renjun stands back up, looking across the shop and making sure to catch Yukhei’s gaze before walking over.
“Hey, sorry I’m late.” Renjun says as he sits down, looking at Yukhei.
Yukhei leans in, whispering. “Dude what took you so long? You hate being late.”
“My stupid boss wouldn’t stop asking me where I was going and then his friends joined in and kept asking why Huang ‘lunch breaks are nap breaks’ Renjun was actually leaving the clinic for lunch.” Renjun whispers back harshly, glaring at Yukhei. This is all Yukhei’s fault, if anyone should be blamed it should be his best friend, not him.
“Glad to see you weren’t actually lying about bringing your friend Yukhei.” Renjun smirks at that, turning his gaze from Yukhei to the person sitting diagonally from him. So this is Lee Donghyuck. Renjun gives him a quick glance-over, nodding in his head. Exactly how he had pictured Yukhei’s crush.
“Lee Donghyuck I’m assuming?” Renjun says, watching as Donghyuck’s face transforms into a smile.
“Oh, now that voice I’d recognize in a heartbeat. You must be the best friend that Yukhei has his loud phone calls with in the stairwell. Your voice sounds a lot nicer when you’re not yelling, I have to say.”
“Wait, you could hear those?”
Almost as if they rehearsed it, Donghyuck and Renjun both shook their heads, staring at Yukhei in exasperation.
“I’m pretty sure Jaemin could hear you and he’s 10 floors below us.” Donghyuck giggles, patting Yukhei’s cheek.
An unfamiliar voice in front of Renjun joins in the mix. “Sorry dude, but he’s right.”
“See Yukhei? Not only does your date agree but—” Renjun finally turns and looks straight ahead, stuttering when he finally catches a glimpse of his own date. “e-even his plus-one does.”
“Oh that’s right. Jaemin, Renjun. Renjun, Jaemin.” Donghyuck says, thoughtlessly gesturing between Renjun and angel boy. Renjun doesn’t say anything, eyes still locked on the boy— on Jaemin like a lion watching his prey. Renjun barely even hears Donghyuck and Yukhei continuing the conversation on their own, he just lets it slowly slip into the background until it’s just him and Jaemin. Jaemin who’s sitting across from him, mouth tilted into a soft smile and staring at him. Jaemin, who looks even better dressed in black than he did in white. Renjun doesn’t want to tear his gaze away, afraid that if he looks away for even a moment, Jaemin will disappear just like he did twice before. Renjun winces at the thought, eyes tearing away from Jaemin as quickly as they latched on as he forces himself to focus on something, anything except for the boy across from him.
“Order 116! 116!”
The sudden shout rips Renjun out of his thoughts, head whipping as he takes in the barista, who he vaguely recognizes as the same guy who hands him his Tuesday bagel, calling out an order. The barista catches Renjun’s eyes, face lighting up and waving at him, gesturing at him to come to the counter.
“Be right back.” Renjun says, avoiding eye contact with Jaemin as he stands up.
“Grab your order while you’re up.” Yukhei dismisses him, hands shooing him away while still completely focusing on Donghyuck, mouth curling into an embarrassed smile as Donghyuck whispers something, eyes glinting. Renjun huffs at the gesture, spinning around and beelining straight to the safe haven that is Lee Jeno and the eye-smile that heals all. As he approaches, he can hear Jeno whispering to his boss, begging for a quick break.
“Please Doyoung-Hyung! I just want a minute, that’s all.”
Jeno whips off his apron just as Renjun finally reaches the counter, handing Renjun his order before hopping over the now-empty counter and beaming at the smaller boy. Renjun takes a bite of the bagel he’s been craving all morning, moaning at the taste.
“Missed you this morning. Thought I was going to have to wait until next week to hear you complain about Yukhei and his boy-troubles, only to see him walk in with two? I thought you said it was hopeless.” Jeno whispers, his eyes gazing over to the table Renjun had just left.
“It still is,” Renjun whispers back, eyes drifting back to the table. “Or at least was. He seems to be doing fine now. Small miracles am I right?”
Renjun turns back to Jeno, eyebrows lifting in surprise when he notices the frown gracing Jeno’s face. Jeno never frowns. Renjun follows Jeno’s gaze, turning back and locking eyes with Jaemin again. He whips his head back around, nearly bumping headbutting Jeno, whose eyes now shine with understanding.
“Oh. Oh I see,” Jeno says, eyes starting to form little crescents as he grins mischievously at Renjun. “Looks like someone has their own boy problems now?”
Renjun jabs Jeno in the stomach, ignoring the groan of pain his friend emits as he tries to cover his reddening cheeks. He quickly glances around, trying to see if anyone heard Jeno. He pauses as his gaze passes the booth his friends were sat at, eyes widening in horror as he realizes the table is now completely empty.
Renjun nearly lets out a yelp, body jumping backwards and falling only to be caught by a pair of strong arms. Suddenly blinded by the ceiling lights, Renjun raises an arm, trying to cover the light so he can see. And oh. He’s staring straight into Jaemin’s eyes. He can feel his face flushing even further as Jaemin continues to gaze at him, eyes softening as Renjun sheepishly smiles at him.
Renjun, completely forgetting about Jeno, nearly throws himself out of Jaemin’s arms, looking at his friend whose jaw is dropped along with half of the customers in the shop. Renjun had no idea what to do. He was used to being in this kind of situation because of Yukhei, it was usually his job to just apologize and help Yukhei escape before his best friend could embarrass himself even more. Renjun, in an act of desperation, turned to Jaemin and nudged him, trying to get the other boy to do something. Jaemin looked at him quizzically, head tilting in confusion as Renjun started to try and communicate with his eyes, trying to signal Jaemin to get them out of the cafe. Renjun was about to lose all hope when he suddenly felt someone step right behind him and lean over. Looking up, he saw Jeno whispering to Jaemin. As soon as he stepped away, Jaemin’s eyes lit up in understanding and he slightly bent down, lips brushing Renjun’s ear as he whispered.
“Sorry for this.”
“Sorry for—WOAH” Renjun shrieked as Jaemin suddenly grabbed him and threw him over a shoulder before turning and walking away. Looking at the people behind him, Renjun didn’t know whether to cry or laugh as he saw at least three different people with their phones whipped out, obviously recording the entire thing. Giving out an embarrassed whine, Renjun readjusted, wrapping his legs around Jaemin’s waist and hiding his head in Jaemin’s shoulder as Jaemin walked out of the shop and started heading down the street.
“Did you really have to do that?” Renjun whispered as Jaemin continued to walk down the street, keeping his head hidden as they passed people.
“Sorry Renjun, your friend just said to get you out of there as soon as possible. And this was the first thing that came to mind.”
“Throwing me over your shoulder like a garbage bag?”
Renjun feels Jaemin’s chest shake with laughter. He fails to hold back a smile at the sensation as Jaemin keeps moving, following Renjun’s directions to a park nearby. At Renjun’s insistence, Jaemin finally sets him down once they reach the lake in the middle of the park. Finally on his own feet, Renjun looks up at Jaemin and grins.
“Had to carry me the whole way?”
“It was the only way I could guarantee that you wouldn’t leave me so fast. What else is a guy supposed to do?” Jaemin teases.
Renjun lets out a giggle. “Ask politely?”
“But now I’ve got you this close to me.” Jaemin whispers, taking a step closer until their faces are just centimeters apart.
Renjun stares up at Jaemin. His gaze starts at Jaemin’s eyes that are staring straight into his before slowly drifting down, pausing briefly on Jaemin’s nose before finally settling on Jaemin’s lips. He can’t help but to think how close they are, if he just slightly lifted his feet, their lips would be touching. He blushes at the thought, eyes shooting downward as a light blush slides over his cheeks. Suddenly, he feels his head being lifted up and looks to see Jaemin staring at him, a determined look covering the normally smiling boy. Renjun watches as Jaemin slowly bends his head down and comes even closer, breath hitching as Jaemin finally stops, lips millimeters away from his own. He closes his eyes, leaning forward when all of a sudden his ringtone starts blaring. Renjun jerks his head up, startled by the sudden noise, only to cry out in pain when his head collides with Jaemin’s.
“Ow fuck,” Jaemin yells, clutching his head. “Why is your ringtone Work by Rihanna?”
“It’s my boss’ ringtone,” Renjun whines as he steps back, rubbing the spot on his head Jaemin slammed into. He turns around and takes a few steps back, accepting the call. “Hello, Dr. Qian?”
“Ah Renjun, where are you? Mr. Lee’s cat seems to have gone into labor early so I need you to get back here as soon as possible.”
Renjun sighs when he hears Mittens, Mr. Lee’s cat screaming in the background. He turns back around, ignoring Jaemin’s inquisitive look as he looks around, realizing that they’ve luckily been walking in the direction of the clinic. He turns his attention back to his phone.
“I’m about 5 minutes away Dr. Qian. I’ll be there shortly,” Renjun says, cutting the call and looking at Jaemin, who has closed the gap between them once again. “Sorry Jaemin, but I need to go.”
Jaemin shrugs, stepping back. “It’s fine. See you around?”
“For sure!” Renjun says as he pockets his phone and starts jogging in the direction of the clinic, mind battling between how to handle Mr. Lee screaming at him about his cat’s well being for the next six hours and whatever the fuck just happened.
Renjun doesn’t know whether to be jealous or smitten that Jaemin has come in at least ten times over the past three weeks. On one hand, this is the most Renjun has ever seen Jaemin. Not only that, but it means that he’s gotten to talk to Jaemin about more than animals. Which brings him back to the problem. He’s fucking jealous of animals. Throughout his entire veterinary student career, Renjun doesn’t think he’s ever had more malice for a dog until it became the reason Jaemin visited the clinic twice in one day. Jaemin has to be some kind of animal magnet. At least, that’s Dr. Qian’s current theory after Jaemin managed to guide an injured deer into their tiny clinic a few days ago. Renjun disagrees. The universe is punishing him. There's no other explanation for this Jaemin situation or for Yukhei getting a boyfriend before him other than cosmic forces acting against him. Renjun pauses at that thought, his mind suddenly remembering his lunch with Yukhei and his boyfriend last week, specifically the part where Donghyuck moved and plopped right into Yukhei’s lap, smiling like he had just won a million dollars. Maybe that second one is more the power of Lee Donghyuck than anything else.
Speaking of the devil. Renjun watches as Yukhei walks into the clinic, Donghyuck wrapped around Yukhei’s back like an octopus. As Donghyuck starts whispering into Yukhei’s ear, Yukhei reddening by the second, Renjun wants nothing more than Jaemin to walk into the clinic. Even if it means postponing his lunch break to handle another animal emergency.
“Hey Renjun are you—” Dr. Qian starts, exiting his office. But then his boss looks up and sighs. “oh. Hi Yukhei. Here to get Renjun?”
“Dr. Vet Boss Man! Nope, just here to pop in and say hi. Today’s a lunch date with my boyfriend.” Yukhei practically screams the last part, making everyone except Donghyuck fix the giant boy with an exasperated look.
“For the third time this week.” Renjun mutters.
“Bye Jun! Don’t forget our weekly facetime is tonight.” Yukhei says, not even noticing Renjun sliding down in his chair defeated as he looks at his best friend. Dr. Qian pats Renjun’s back as they watch the couple leave, Donghyuck still attached to Yukhei like a barnacle on a boat. Once they disappear from sight, Renjun slides further down his chair, letting out a groan and staring up at the ceiling. Where was his Donghyuck? Not that he wants someone clinging to him that much, but it’d still be nice to have someone that happy to be with him. Sure, Jaemin always smiles at him when walking into the clinic, but Renjun’s pretty sure that’s just Jaemin being Jaemin rather than Jaemin being happy to see him. At the sound of his boss coughing, their signal that a client has come in, Renjun slides back up, putting on his customer-service smile as he turns his gaze to the door.
“Nice to see you again Jaemin” Dr. Qian utters fondly. Renjun stares at Jaemin who’s just walked into the clinic, frown on his face as he holds something in his arms. That’s new. In the number of times Renjun’s seen Jaemin (which is a lot over the past month), he doesn’t think he’s really seen Jaemin look upset before. Or pout. Renjun’s not quite sure what he would call the look Jaemin has on his face. All he knows for sure is that it’s definitely a look that only someone as stupidly handsome as Jaemin could pull off without looking like a total idiot. Standing up, he walks over to Jaemin, taking a look at the animal.
“I found her trying to hop down the road, but something seemed wrong with her leg.” Jaemin explains, one of his hands moving to stroke the bunny’s leg while explaining, still sporting the same expression from before. Renjun nearly cries as the bunny finally wriggles its head out of Jaemin’s arms, its face an exact replica of the expression on Jaemin’s face. Caught off guard, he doesn’t even realize Dr. Qian has already walked next to him and grabbed the bunny until he hears his boss start to speak.
“Alright, I got it from here. Renjun you stay here and keep Jaemin company while I go check out our little friend here.” Dr. Qian says softly, Renjun glancing over to see his boss softly stroking the bunny’s head. As Dr. Qian begins to walk away, he stops right next to Renjun.
“If you want anything to happen with him, you better stay here. Also Renjun, in the future please be aware that you’re really not as quiet on the phone as you think you are.” His boss whispers, before starting again and making his way to the exam room. Renjun can only stare blankly at the door his boss just went into, mind emptying out at his boss’ confession. He manages to turn to Jaemin and jerk his head in the direction of the chairs next to him. Flopping into the one closest to him, he waits for Jaemin to join him.
“So...another one?” Renjun finally asks, looking over at Jaemin who’s now sat in the other chair in the reception area.
“Trust me it wasn’t my intention.” Jaemin mutters, eyes shifting to the floor and not elaborating further. Completely fine with the sudden change in attitude, Renjun doesn’t respond, just goes and joins Jaemin in his silence. The two sit there for a while, neither saying anything as they wait for Dr. Qian to come back from his examination. Staring off into the distance, Renjun sees a movement out of the corner of his eye. He turns his head, barely holding back a groan as he sees Mr. Lee marching towards the clinic. He stands up, ignoring Jaemin’s questioning glance as he walks to the door and greets Mr. Lee.
“How can I help you today Mr. Lee?”
Mr. Lee huffs a sigh, gesturing behind him. “Bruce hurt his leg while on a walk and now refuses to leave his stroller.”
“Mr. Lee, you are aware this is a clinic right?” Renjun asks, trying to look behind him for the stroller.
Mr. Lee sighs, shaking his head at Renjun. “Where else would I bring my cat?” Renjun’s eyes widened. So he’s that cat dad.
“I’m going to go grab the stroller so you can take a look at him.” Mr. Lee says, turning back around to go and grab the stroller.
“Okay, Okay Universe! I get it,” Jaemin shouts, causing Renjun and Mr. Lee to jump at the sudden outburst. Jaemin turns to Renjun, staring straight into his eyes. “Will you go on a second date with me?”
Renjun chokes on his spit. “What does the universe have to do with us going on a date? Wait, scratch that. When did we even go on a first date?” Renjun stares at Jaemin in absolute confusion, barely noticing Mr. Lee quietly slip out of the clinic.
“The park three weeks ago? I mean we don’t have to count it if you want, but that means I have to wait longer before asking you to be my boyfriend.” Jaemin says, smiling shyly at Renjun. “I’ve already been trying to ask you out for three weeks.”
“Three weeks? But I’ve only—”
“Seen me bring in animals?” Jaemin completes Renjun’s sentence, sighing. “That would be the universe trying to ruin my love life. Every time I tried to come down here to ask you out, I would run into an animal that needed help.”
“Oh.” Renjun whispers, gazing up at Jaemin as a smile slowly creeps onto his face. He slowly walks closer to Jaemin, only stopping once he’s right in front of him. In one fluid motion, he joins Jaemin in the chair, legs on either side of Jaemin’s hips as he kneels on the chair, staring down at a flustered Jaemin.
“What are you—” Jaemin gets cut off as Renjun presses his lips against Jaemin’s, trying his hardest not to smile as Jaemin immediately starts kissing back. Renjun slowly slides further down as Jaemin presses his mouth against Renjun’s harder, hands drifting to Jaemin’s neck as he responds in kind.
“Renjun, as lovely as this is for you, I would really appreciate it if you didn’t chase customers away.”
Renjun practically leaps out of Jaemin’s chair, kneeing the other boy in the crotch in the process. Ignoring the groans of pain coming from below him, Renjun rubs his hand over his mouth, face bright red as he looks sheepishly at his boss.
“Sorry Dr. Qian, my boyfriend was just leaving!” Renjun blurts, ignoring the look of surprise from both Jaemin and his boss as he grabs Jaemin’s arm and drags him to the door.
“Hand me your phone so I can text you.” Renjun whispers, quickly glancing at his boss while holding out his hand.
“Since when did we take the leap to become boyfriends?” Jaemin whispers back, passing his phone over to Renjun who begins to enter in his number.
“I can take it back at any moment.” Renjun responds back dryly, holding back a laugh as Jaemin rapidly shakes his head.
“Nope! Text you later boyfriend!” Jaemin practically shouts, pecking Renjun lightly on the cheek before racing out of the door, leaving behind a bright-red Renjun and a very confused Dr. Qian.
“WIth all due respect sir, please shut up before I walk out and leave you to do your paperwork alone.”
Renjun walks into his room later that night, not even bothering to change before pulling out his phone and tapping a contact, propping his phone on a pillow as the facetime call connects. He doesn’t even bother looking into the camera as he talks.
“You win. Next Friday. You brings yours, I’ll bring mine and we’ll go on that stupid double date you planned last year.”