pairing: baekhyun/chanyeol (side: jongin/sehun & baekhyun/yifan)
length: ~17,600 words
warnings: unprotected sex, (possibly dubcon) knotting, rimming, language
summary: wolf au. baekhyun's always wanted a dog. chanyeol is close enough.
notes: originally posted at thebaekfest here for wild_jinx! in case anyone is interested, here is a playlist i made that consists of the songs i listened to the most while writing this monster. (it's a monster for me, okay.) a big thank you to drankcontrast and poussieredetoi for being my betas!
no one is born to be lonely
Baekhyun is dreaming when Jongdae wakes him up.
Something about the woods.
"You always look so tired lately. Three and a half years of college finally catching up to you?"
Jongdae takes a seat next to him, setting his tray down on the table with a loud clatter. Baekhyun jerks into attention at the startling noise, but his muscles are too sore to react properly and he immediately regrets it. With a groan, he lets his head fall back into his folded arms atop the table.
"Jongdae, please," Sehun says over his textbook, his permanently disgruntled expression unchanging except for the slight narrowing of his eyebrows, "I'm trying to study for government. I have an exam in thirty minutes."
Baekhyun shifts a little, turning his cheek to rest against his forearm and blinks sleepily. "Mmm, I guess so," he says belatedly in reply to Jongdae's question, ignoring Sehun.
Jongdae jerks his head in Sehun's direction. "This is the campus food court, Sehun. How can you even read with all the noise? Go to the library next time." He turns back to Baekhyun. "You nearly fell asleep in classical literature. It was one in the afternoon."
He lifts his shoulders in a shrug before wincing, letting them slump back down. "I just haven't been sleeping much."
"Yeah, I gathered. But why?"
Well, Jongdae, that's an excellent question, he's tempted to shoot back. But I can't tell you because you'd think I'm crazy.
It isn't like he can just confess to his friend that he's been running around the woods with a wolf every night. It always sounds like a good idea at the time, but when the adrenaline wears off and he wakes up in the morning, he feels his body reprimanding him. He wonders if Chanyeol ever has any problems, but he probably doesn't: as a werewolf-shapeshifter-thing, he's been doing this for a while.
Maybe he just needs more exercise.
So he keeps his mouth shut because if he doesn't, Jongdae will drag him to their school's counseling center and book him an appointment for later that afternoon, claiming urgency.
"I have something for your eye bags, if you want," Sehun offers, but his voice doesn't sound very helpful.
"No, thanks. What if you accidentally give me foot cream, or something."
"It wouldn't be on accident."
Jongdae sniggers a little, but doesn't get an answer out of Baekhyun because suddenly there's a hand ruffling his hair, so large that it nearly dwarfs his entire head.
"Hey there, kiddo."
Baekhyun perks up a little and lifts his eyes, but ends up having to tilt his head back so he can see the tall boy hovering above him. Whenever Jongdae and Sehun are being dicks, Yifan never fails to make him smile.
"Your eye bags are something fierce," the Chinese student murmurs, gently brushing one of them with his thumb. The sensitive skin beneath his eye twitches at the touch.
"Gee, thanks, hyung." He's a little hurt. He knows the older boy is just concerned about him, but he's never been one to point out Baekhyun's flaws.
"You okay? Getting enough sleep?"
"I've been reading The Histories by Herodotus. I'm not okay." He sighs for what seems like the fiftieth time that day. "But yeah, I'll be all right." I just have to actually start reading, instead of going on midnight rendezvous, he thinks to himself.
"Get some rest, all right? Don't wear yourself out. It's not even finals week yet," he jokes. "I'll see you later." Giving him a reassuring pat on the back, he moves away, heading for the exit. Baekhyun doesn't fail to notice his ever-present entourage following close behind, three boys that never say much, at least not to Baekhyun and his friends. He's also quick to note that one of the boys' eye bags are even more profound than his own. He holds back a snort.
Jongdae watches them leave. His disapproving gaze flicks back to Baekhyun.
"He always babies you? It's sort of disgusting?"
Sehun makes a faint noise of amusement, stirring in his seat.
"Shut up, both of you. He's nice," he counters, feeling his cheeks heat up slightly.
"Whatever. He's kind of weird. Him and his thugs."
"Thugs!" He can't help the incredulousness in his voice. "Really, Jongdae?"
"Baekhyun's weird, too," Sehun observes. "They'd go well together."
"Like how," Baekhyun mumbles, averting his eyes and thrumming his fingertips on his heaping copy of The Histories, hoping they don't notice his blushing. He feels not unlike the Spartans, outnumbered and overwhelmed by the swarm of Persians and their allies.
"Like a wolf and a rabbit," Jongdae concludes, and Baekhyun tries not to flinch at his word choice.
"You're all against me."
Jongdae laughs and reaches over to pet his hair, mimicking Yifan's gesture, as he holds a slice of pizza in his other hand. "Poor Baekhyunnie is so misunderstood, right?"
"That isn't—" But he gives up, frustrated, running fingers through his hair and pushing Jongdae away. "Finish your food before you speak, barbarian."
His friend laughs again, flecks of half-chewed food threatening to fly from his mouth. He maneuvers his body to avoid the tiny missiles, squawking with displeasure. Tuning out their awkward tussle, Sehun yawns dramatically and stands, announcing his departure.
"I'm outta here. Later, losers."
Jongdae sticks his leg out at the last minute, successfully causing Sehun to lurch forward ungracefully. The boy glares at him, lips pulled into a tight frown. The elder smirks.
"Good luck on your exam, dork."
With Sehun gone (all though his presence isn't as distracting as a certain music major's), Baekhyun resumes resting. He needs to be at work in an hour.
He closes his eyes and sees flashes of yellow, something that shouldn't be familiar. He drifts off to the drone of Jongdae's mirthful humming, the thudding of paws against the forest floor and heavy, panting breath.
It happened a little less than a month ago.
After a late-night get-together full of video games and drinking at Baekhyun and Jongin's apartment, Jongdae proposed the ingenious idea of wandering (tripping) around the woods at one in the morning while pleasantly buzzed. No, scratch that: they were all pretty fucking drunk. No one's judgment is perfect after downing multiple rounds of beers and shots, and so they had set out into the dark, laughing, stumbling into the thicket, holding onto each other for some semblance of balance.
Somehow, Baekhyun had gotten separated from the others. The awkward gurgle of Sehun's laughter was just a distant echo and soon all he could hear was the buzzing of crickets and the sound of his crunching footsteps and timid breathing. He was caught in that stage of drunkenness where he still felt brave, but was actually stupid, and not quite at the next stage – the one of panic – which involved calling for his mommy and pissing his pants. Maybe his body was acting ahead of his brain, all though sluggishly, and that would explain the uneven rhythm of his breathing.
Though housing a university of a decent size, they lived in a relatively small town, and it bordered a particularly massive forest. Even drunkards knew better than to fuck around in the woods, alone, at bumfuck in the morning. What if there were bears? Later that afternoon, if his friends were kind and not sporting hangovers of the century, they might go looking for him and find only his remains strewn across the forest floor because he'd been shredded by a hungry beast. Serves them right. It'd be a sight that would hopefully traumatize them for life.
He progressed further into the underbrush, mindlessly clenching and unclenching his hands into fists, probably to reassure himself that he still had some fine motor skills left. Baekhyun couldn't tell if it was easier or harder to walk when he wasn't clinging to another staggering body, because he had already tripped what he thought was a thousand times. His jeans were covered in dirt and small twigs and leaves, and the jutting tree roots were relentless. He should probably start heading back in the direction from which he had come; that would have been a grand idea, if he hadn't already turned himself around a countless amount of times.
He wondered what his friends were doing now: he wondered if they even noticed he was gone. Sehun and Jongin were probably making out somewhere, rolling around in the bushes and getting even dirtier than Baekhyun was, and Jongdae was probably passed out against a tree trunk. Some friends. He didn't know if it was his fault or theirs that he had gotten lost, but he just wanted to be back home, in his bed, sleeping off his drunkenness and not out here in the dark where he couldn't see shit.
It was cold, too, and all he was wearing was a jacket made out of thin material, more for looks than usefulness. He brought his arms up to his chest and shivered, sniffling pathetically. He'd die out here, all alone. Lost, cold, and drunk. What a way to go.
Then, a noise. It was something other than his quickened breathing and his own footsteps, and it made him freeze in place. Was it – another person? It sounded too big to be an animal.
He tried, his voice coming out as a feeble croak. He made his decision to fall silent and wait for an answer, another sound of movement. None came.
There was a brief moment of hesitation, and then bolting footsteps.
"Hey, wait! Guys!"
He cried out, lunging forward instinctively. He wasn't scared anymore, he just wanted someone to show him the way home, maybe give him a piggyback ride, god willing.
Baekhyun followed the sounds as best as he could, stumbling across the unsteady terrain and blinking back tears of frustration. His friends would piss if they knew he'd cried.
He was shit at catching up to whatever it was that he was trailing after – they were fucking fast and obviously did not want to be seen – and he was about to give up and collapse to the ungodly forest floor when the movement ahead of him stopped. He prayed they'd changed their mind and would help him.
What he didn't expect was the gleam of yellow eyes in the thick, velvety darkness, and the enormous silhouette they belonged to. Baekhyun heard himself gasp before he felt very dizzy – copious amounts of alcohol plus wandering around in the woods aimlessly at night and then going on a wild goose chase does that to you – and his vision began to black out. He tried blinking, attempting to steal another look before losing consciousness, but what he saw was no different from before.
Baekhyun thought he could faintly hear a low growl come from the figure, but then he was on his knees and thudding against a hard surface and all that was left was blackness.
He woke up with the blush of dawn filtering through the trees, nestled in a bed of dewy grass. As romantic as the sight would seem, he felt like hell.
Baekhyun propped himself up with a groan, wincing at the crack and pop of his joints, and looked around. He was at the edge of the forest, right where the trees disappeared into a small clearing. Upon further inspection, he gathered that he was not three minutes from his apartment. By some incredible feat, he had somehow made it out of the woods alive last night; or maybe someone had carried him back. He swallowed dryly, his throat protesting because he was clearly dehydrated, and there was an acrid taste on his tongue as though he'd thrown up.
He dug through his jeans pocket and checked his phone. It was lit up with seven missed calls, three voicemails, and eleven texts. All from Jongdae. Of course, he thought. The younger guys wouldn't be awake yet, and there was no service in the woods.
The boy slowly rose to his feet, massaging the crick in his back. Once he reached the apartment, he glanced into Jongin's bedroom and spotted him and Sehun draped across each other on the bed in a tangle of limbs, still dressed in yesterday's clothes. He figured their neighbors could hear their opened-mouth snores clearly through the walls. Baekhyun shook his head and retreated to his room, sitting down on the bed and pulling out his phone once more.
He called Jongdae.
"Baekhyun? Where are you?"
His friend's worried voice floated through the line, and he felt a wave of relief wash over him, and a twinge of annoyance.
"I'm at my apartment. I'm fine," he added, knowing Jongdae would ask.
"Oh, okay. Sorry about your phone."
"My phone . . . Sorry about ditching me, you mean," Baekhyun said, hurt.
"We didn't ditch you? You wandered off and we couldn't find you? We tried calling your name and looking for you before it got too late. We were kind of drunk."
"Yeah, I know." He sighed. Before thinking better of it, he said the next few words.
"Hey . . . did you see anything in the woods last night?"
There was a crackle of static before Jongdae replied.
"In the woods? Like what?"
"Like . . . an animal? A big animal. Like a dog, maybe."
"A big dog? Like a wolf?"
"Fuck, I don't know." He suddenly felt very stupid. There hadn't been wolves in Korea since god knows when – if ever. "Never mind."
"You were drunk, it was dark, and you were lost. You were probably just seeing things."
"Yeah." He rubbed the back of his neck. "Yeah, you're probably right."
"Get some more rest. I'm going back to sleep."
"Yeah, okay. Thanks for caring. Bye."
Baekhyun set down his phone on his lap and stared at his knees for a good fifteen minutes, mulling over what he could remember from last night, and what Jongdae had said.
He decided not to tell the others. They'd just make fun of him, and that wasn't something he needed.
Rolling over onto his side to face the wall, he sighed.
And dreamed of yellow eyes.
A few nights later Baekhyun was lazing back on the same spot in bed, beer in hand and sipping pensively.
He hadn't told his roommate, Jongin, or Sehun. No; they wouldn't believe him. There was no use in trying. He had seen it with his own eyes – albeit through the haze of tears, alcohol, and exhaustion – and he still didn't believe himself.
An empty bottle lay on the ground by his dangling foot, and finishing his current bottle, he let it roll from his hand onto the floor next to the other. He wasn't drunk this time: just drinking to think. Sometimes you need a little push to get your brain working.
Or maybe he was trying to confuse himself into believing. It could go either way.
He'd thought of the possibility of it being a stray dog, but no dog was big enough to fit the bill. A wolf, then – what if one had escaped the zoo that was about an hour away? – but Baekhyun didn't think even wolves were as large as what he'd seen. That idea was ruled out quickly and without proper Internet research to see if there were any news reports about such an escape. This thing was like a miniature horse, but no horse he knew of had eyes which glowed like a predator's in the dark.
Maybe it had been a bear, or perhaps something feline, but those notions seemed – wrong. He couldn't place his finger on it, but he knew they weren't right.
Baekhyun slowly rose from his bed, crossing his room and the living room, where only the sounds of Jongin's soft snoring could be heard. He glanced back over his shoulder toward the darkened room, took a deep breath, and fumbled for his keys.
In less than a minute he was out the front door and hiking into the forest.
It was stupid, but he swore he wasn't drunk. Baekhyun was by no means a heavy drinker, but two beers were only going to get him buzzed, and a little daring. He needed the courage.
However, sobriety mixed with a lot of curiosity and determination is sometimes more dangerous than drunkenness.
Curiosity killed the cat. Those yellow eyes in the back of his mind, taunting him. You're Little Red Riding Hood walking right into the Big Bad Wolf's trap.
He supposed it was a shitty idea. Setting out into a sprawling forest you aren't entirely familiar with, one in which you got dreadfully lost in just a few nights before, this time without telling anyone where you're going. And – and! – he was chasing a stupid hunch that was probably as real as Bigfoot, but if it was real, then it was potentially really fucking dangerous. But he was going to make good use of his phone's flashlight and compass. So that was something, at least.
Baekhyun had never been gifted with grand ideas. Sure, he did things he thought were great ideas at the time, but they ended up getting him into trouble more often than not. Like that one time in high school, when he and his friend Kyungsoo had decided to reenact the frog dissection scene from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. They ended up being the only two students in class yelling at their (already dead and thoroughly soaked and reeking with formaldehyde) frogs, and got a detention for disrupting the learning process. He should have known that real life wasn't like the movies.
After wandering in the woods for over forty minutes and finding nothing – no mysterious noises that sounded like they came from a horse-wolf hybrid monster, no footprints telling that something large and inhuman had been there – Baekhyun was about to give up and turn back. Part of him was relieved by the lack of evidence, reminding him that his expectations were stupid and unrealistic, but there was a twinge of regret, from wasting his time and being so sure—
Then suddenly, to his left, he heard a twig snap.
Baekhyun froze in place: slightly crouched, poised and listening, ready to pounce at another sound. His disappointment bordered on trembling anticipation, waiting for the hidden beast's next move.
A cautious whisper of motion, and then the muffled padding of footfalls, fleeing.
Baekhyun whipped around, lunging in the direction of the action, hoping to corner his target. He broke through a screen of trees and leapt directly in front of his prey.
The small doe reared up, startled, and steered away, leaving a string of droppings in her wake.
"Hah . . ."
He balled his hand into a fist. Damn. Fucking deer.
Behind him, there was a low bark, coupled with a flurry of movement. His entire form went rigid, tensing, and he held onto his breath. He wasn't going to fuck this one up.
Baekhyun sprung into mobility, chasing after whatever it was he had come here for. The muscles in his thighs screamed in protest as bursts of adrenaline coursed through his veins, but he ignored the burn, focusing solely on the dark figure ahead of him.
It took several turns, leading him further into the heart of the woods, so he wouldn't be able to find his way back. It would slow down occasionally, letting him catch up, as though it were leading him somewhere.
He couldn't believe it. The thing was playing with him.
With heavy footsteps, he began to trail further and further behind, his breath coming out in harsh, heaving pants. He couldn't see the shape anymore, couldn't hear it, the blood was rushing in his ears so loudly and his head was throbbing. Baekhyun bent over and put his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath as he coughed for air.
In an instant, it was in front of him. There was another loud bark, this time almost booming, and he fell back on his ass. It sounded angry.
Instinctively, his hands flew up to cover his eyes. This was it. He had enraged the beast and now it was going to eat him. He pinched his eyes shut and braced himself for the feeling of sharp teeth sinking into his jugular, ripping it out in one fluid coup de grâce.
Instead, he heard a deep voice addressing him.
He popped one eye open, peering through a crack in between his fingers to see a tall boy standing in front of him, holding out his hand.
"I'm not gonna hurt you. Sorry I scared you."
A boy. Offering him his hand. In the middle of the woods. At night. What the hell.
Feeling like he was in a daze, Baekhyun tentatively took the offered hand and let the taller boy effortlessly pull him to his feet. Baekhyun didn't weigh much, but his strength surprised him.
"What happened to the . . . ?" Mystified, words failed him as he looked around. The area was deserted except for the two of them. The boy was watching him with large eyes, patiently waiting for him to continue. Baekhyun shook his head faintly, unsure of what to say. Then he noticed something about the stranger was off.
"Oh." He blinked, glancing down briefly at his state of disrobement. "Right. Clothes." Baekhyun couldn't detect any embarrassment in his voice or expression, which worried him slightly.
The boy turned away from him and began picking around the tree trunks, looking for something. Probably the aforementioned clothing. Baekhyun watched him for a moment with stark fascination, wondering just what was wrong with him, as his skinny bare ass stalked around the forest without any shame. He shut his eyes, willing away the sight that was imprinted on the backs of his eyelids.
This was all way too weird. He must have drunk more than he thought. This person too, perhaps; why else would there be a naked giant in the woods? He'd heard stories of feral children and babies being raised by wolves in the wild, but this was real life – this was his reality – this wasn't A Werewolf Boy and this guy could speak and understand Korean perfectly. Things like that don't just happen, and if they do, it isn't Byun Baekhyun who's caught up in the middle of them.
The boy let out a loud whoop, startling him from his thoughts. "Found them!"
He crooked an eye open, seeing him stoop over to pick something that looked like a bunch of rags up off the ground. The long arch of his back descending into the curve of his ass had him promptly closing his eyes again, his cheeks hot with mortification.
When he thought he was safe, he saw the last bit of struggle as the boy hiked his jeans up, letting them rest snugly around the well-defined line of his hips. Apparently clothes to him meant only pants and no shirt. He turned back around, walking toward Baekhyun. He rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly as he approached, slightly hunched over as to not appear as intimidating.
"Sorry about that." He wore an apologetic lopsided grin that was strangely endearing. Baekhyun felt his heart flutter in his chest in apprehension.
"Who are you." Baekhyun paused to correct himself. "What are you," he tried again, letting his hands fall to his sides in set determination.
The boy gave a toothy grin, a suggestive gleam in his eye. "I'm a wolf."
"No, really. What are you."
The boy – wolf – person blinked twice, his grin disappearing. "I just told you."
He guessed it made sense. Almost. If anything like that would ever make sense. There had been a wolf of sorts in front of him not five minutes before, and then when he'd opened his eyes after making sure he hadn't pissed himself, there was a boy without any clothes on. Had he transformed in that short amount of time? Or had the wolf fled and the boy taken its place?
"I don't . . . get it," Baekhyun admitted slowly, taking a step back. The other boy's frown deepened.
Hesitating, Baekhyun tried another question.
"Are you what I saw a few nights ago?"
He let his breath out carefully, as though he was contemplating answering truthfully. "Yeah. Sorry I ran from you, I just didn't know what to do."
Baekhyun thought for a moment. Or at least, he tried to think. "Did you carry me out of the woods?"
The boy perked up slightly at his question. "I did." He looked proud, before his expression showed that he remembered something, and concern etched across his face. "You seemed sick." His nose scrunched up, characteristic of a canine showing distaste. "You even threw up a little. I'm glad you're okay now, though."
Imagining the sight of this gangly boy, probably naked, carrying him through the woods made Baekhyun feel partially amused and somewhat uneasy. He appeared to have good intentions, though. He seemed almost harmless. Baekhyun figured they could be friends, even, if not for his penchant for nakedness and being part-wolf.
"What's . . . your name?" He decided to skip such formalities as saying thank you, all though he was grateful someone had been around to take care of him. If not for this strange young man, he could have been in worse condition.
"Chanyeol. What's yours?"
So the boy did have a name. He wasn't some nameless idiot, even if he insisted he was a wolf.
He considered not telling him, but he reasoned Chanyeol couldn't do anything questionable with the bit of information.
"It's nice to meet you, Baekhyun!" Chanyeol yipped, the grin he was wearing so wide that he thought his face would break.
He started laughing. Chanyeol's lips tilted into a frown of confusion, looking like a lost puppy. "What's wrong?"
"This is . . . this is ridiculous? I must be going insane," he said in between sputters of laughter, head reeling. He felt giddy.
"I'm telling the truth." The corners of his mouth twitched into a more serious grimace. "I'll show you."
Baekhyun suddenly really, really did not want Chanyeol to "show him;" he wanted to leave, he wanted to go home, this had been a bad idea, this—
Without knowing he was saying something, his lips were moving and words he didn't want being said were tumbling from his mouth. Had he just said okay?
"Don't be afraid."
But his heart was jittering in his ribcage and he felt like falling back down, he didn't want to deal with this, he wasn't ready—
The shift wasn't anything grotesque like the movies painted it to be. It was quick and looked painless – at least, it was too quick for Baekhyun to see if it had hurt him – and where a boy had previously stood, in just the blink of an eye, there was a wolf. Wolf was relative: what hulked over him was much larger than any Grey Wolf, roughly the size of a pony, but it appeared purely canine with its chiseled, angular features and thick fur atop rippling muscles. The phosphorescent glow of his phone's flashlight illuminated the rich colours of his coat, cinnamon and sienna and earthy browns fading into a creamy beige underside. The light began to wobble and Baekhyun realized his hand was shaking. He was awestruck at the sight of a creature so gorgeous and imposing, unable to hold back from hesitantly reaching out with his free hand.
"Can I . . . ?"
The wolf's jaw dipped in a nod, and Baekhyun brushed his fingertips against the soft fur around his muzzle. Warm amber eyes closed as he let the curious human stroke his fur, content. It was so surreal, but Baekhyun had never felt more alive.
Two nights later he felt even more alive, running beside the loping wolf, jumping over roots and forest rubble to match his stride. And when Chanyeol nudged him in the ribs gently and let him grab tufts of his fur along his nape and hoisted him up onto his back, letting him ride him through the trees, he felt the most alive. Low-hanging branches threatened to ram into him, but Chanyeol always expertly avoided them, and Baekhyun crouched low and pressed up against the wolf's back, arms wrapped around his neck for a sturdy grip.
He stayed out much too late every night, laughing breathlessly whenever Jongin was still awake and stopped him to ask where he'd been, and his roommate was beginning to think he had gotten a lover but he couldn't be more wrong. But he couldn't tell Jongin, and he couldn't tell Jongdae when he asked at school, and he couldn't tell Sehun, but that was okay, because he was happy and unwilling to share his newest discovery.
"So what actually are you?"
They were laying in a clearing together, one of those meadows that start showing up out of nowhere once the elevation starts to steepen, and the trees give way to overgrown and unkempt grass dappled with wildflowers. The serene atmosphere and the quiet babbling of the brook around the bend made Baekhyun sigh, feeling relief from the tension and soreness of his muscles. He felt like this was a bit too much like a scene out of Twilight, only Chanyeol wasn't a vampire that sparkled in the sunlight and they weren't staring at each other with sappy twinkling eyes.
The boy glanced over at the resting wolf, absent-mindedly stroking the fur along his broad shoulder blade. The sun's rays warmed him, but the wolf's sizeable shadow cast him in a pool of shade, and he soaked up the warmth radiating from his body. He opened his golden eyes slowly, silently assessing Baekhyun and his question. There was a communication barrier whenever Chanyeol was in this form, and so Baekhyun rolled onto his other side, turning away and allowing Chanyeol to phase and cover himself without someone watching him. The wolf boy was absolutely unfazed by nakedness, having no real sense of physical modesty, and Baekhyun wasn't a prude but he'd seen enough in locker rooms that he assured himself he had no interest in seeing others of his own gender naked. None at all.
He felt Chanyeol poke him in the back between his shoulders to alert him of his decency, and he turned back to face him.
He hadn't been expecting an immediate answer, but he figured he'd given Chanyeol enough time to think of how to categorize and explain his identity.
"Well . . . I've been like this since I was born, I guess. I mean, I always had it in me," he began belatedly, trying to find the right words.
"Like your parents are like you?"
"My parents . . ." There was a hesitation, an unwillingness to speak of his parentage. Baekhyun could sense it.
"You don't have to talk about them. Just talk about you," Baekhyun responded quietly, not trying to offend.
"When you're born into this . . . this thing," he clarified to the best of his ability, gesturing helplessly with his hands, "you first start phasing when you hit puberty."
"So you aren't a wolf when you're a baby or a kid?"
"Nah, it comes later."
"So while you're dealing with hormones and your voice cracking all the time, you're also dealing with being a wolf for the first time?"
"Yeah. Right." He laughed a little. "It's rough."
"Did it hurt?"
"The first couple of times, yeah. But then you get used to it. It goes by quicker, more easily, the more you do it. Your body has to adjust."
"It goes so fast, you know, I can't even see it. It's like one second you're you and the next you're a wolf."
"My wolf form is also me," he reminded him. "It's just what I am part of the time."
"Mmm. Yeah, okay. But you can shift whenever you want?"
"Uh-huh. Well, we have to shift on a full moon, but we can shift at any other time if we want. It's actually a good thing to shift every once in a while, because if you go without transforming an entire month before a full moon, you sort of go crazy when it happens." His lips tightened into a thin line, almost disappearing. "Your instincts take over. It's a dangerous and reckless thing to do."
"So you're a werewolf."
"No, I don't think so. I'm just . . . a wolf." He shrugged. "That's what we call us."
"How many more of you are there? Is this common? Is it some sort of secret?" Baekhyun wondered if there were any more wolves in his town, maybe even attending his university. He'd never met one, even heard of one, until now.
"There aren't many of us . . . not around here, anyway. There are others in the more secluded parts of the country. We aren't . . . really supposed to tell anyone, because there have been incidents, but." He bit his lip. "I wanted to tell you. I felt like not telling you wouldn't be right."
"Yeah, you'd scare the shit out of people." Chanyeol looked worried. "I'm not scared of you, though," he added quickly. "Like I was – for maybe like a second, before you phased – but I'm not anymore."
"You kept looking for me, so I figured you weren't gonna give up until I showed myself. I didn't want you to get hurt or lost again." The taller boy rapped his knuckles against his temple and ruffled his hair playfully, and Baekhyun made a fuss, batting his hand away and smoothing it back into place.
"So," he said, flopping onto his back and putting his arms behind his head, "you can't spread this whole being a wolf thing by biting someone or anything, because you're not a werewolf."
"I could still bite you," Chanyeol said in a low, almost suggestive voice, crawling closer so that Baekhyun could feel his hot breath on his neck. He jumped up half-way, knocking his elbow into his ribs and his victim fell back, laughing. "But no, it wouldn't do anything like turn you into a wolf."
"Can you die?"
Chanyeol blinked. "You want me to die?"
"No, stupid. I mean, you're not like immortal or anything, right? The only way to kill you is a silver bullet through the heart?" He jabs his index finger into his chest for emphasis.
He let out a short bark of laughter, brushing the intrusive finger away. "Man, I wish I was immortal," he said wistfully. "Nah, I can definitely die, but I can heal quicker than humans. I can take more damage; I'm stronger, faster," he explained.
"D'you eat deer and stuff? And rabbits?" He wrinkled his nose a little, trying to imagine how those things were supposed to taste raw. Maybe it wasn't so bad when he was in wolf form.
"Sometimes, when I don't feel like going to the store or cooking," he joked.
"So you're basically normal, that's what you're telling me," Baekhyun concluded, looking off in the other direction and feigning disinterest. A gust of wind from the nearby mountains made the tall grasses sway, stray blades tickling his cheek.
"Normal?" Chanyeol's voice sounded small, far away – hopeful. "Yeah, I guess I'm basically normal, if that's what you think," he said quietly, but his tone held faint amusement.
"And you aren't gonna imprint on me or something weird and nonconsensual like that, right?" He said teasingly, flicking one of the boy's large ears.
"Never mind." He rolled his eyes, mentally cursing himself for the reference. His cousin, who was like a sister to him, had once forced him to sit down and watch the Twilight movie with her while he was visiting. Days later, when he returned to his apartment, he dragged Jongin into the living room and they watched the rest of the series on his laptop. They had shed a few manly tears. It was a very heterosexual experience.
Baekhyun scoffed, propping himself up on his elbows. "Weird! I take offense to that! You're the weird one!"
"Hey, you're the one who just called me normal, remember?" Chanyeol nudged him with his arm, eyes wide.
"Whatever." He huffed, settling back down onto his side and pouting. "You should turn back into a wolf. I'm tired of hearing your voice."
Chanyeol studied him for a lengthened moment, visibly puzzled by the boy's actions. Then he uttered a drawn-out sigh, running fingers through his hair. "You're lucky I like you," he mumbled, transforming obediently.
Baekhyun curled into the wolf's side, breathing in the scent of earth and grass and Chanyeol, the musk he was quickly becoming more and more familiar with. He had lied; he wasn't really tired of Chanyeol's voice, he liked Chanyeol's voice, it was low and deep and rumbly, but he liked using wolf Chanyeol as a pillow. He didn't feel as comfortable using the lanky boy as a cushion for his small form: he imagined there were too many knobby bones that would get in the way.
"'m gonna take a nap now," he yawned, stretching out his limbs before snuggling back up against the wolf's plush side, feeling a sense of security in their closeness. Chanyeol's breath fanned over his hair, steadily matching his breathing with Baekhyun's as he drifted into a slumber.
Baekhyun finishes another semester of university as an anthropology major despite managing less than five hours of sleep every night, thanks to his and Chanyeol's midnight runs. The no-longer-a-junior barely scrapes by in classical literature after writing his term paper over the legend of Romulus and Remus, the product of one of many all-nighters. He's just glad he doesn't have to deal with Herodotus, Plato, or Homer anymore. Especially Socrates, because Socrates is bullshit.
Jongdae throws a celebration at his apartment to congratulate them on their success, which means more drinks and wandering around the woods late at night, despite what happened last time. Sehun has a firm grip on his pinky finger and won't let go, and Baekhyun thinks it gives away the younger's feelings. He hadn't shown any emotion except for indifference towards the incident, preferring to remain aloof. Jongdae had confronted him about it, briefly, and Baekhyun was told that Sehun had gotten slightly annoyed with him, saying Baekhyun was pinning the blame on them when it was he who had gotten lost. But his hold on Baekhyun now seems like he's making up for his blunder, not letting him leave his sight.
Baekhyun is grateful for Chanyeol, if not for his unfortunate grades, but for showing him around the forest so that getting lost would be more difficult this time around. The boy sticks close to his companions, feeling like he's the one watching over them more than they're watching over him.
After a very mature game of hide-and-seek, in which they stuck close to a designated spot – a fallen hollowed-out tree that Baekhyun recognized, as he and Chanyeol had leapt over it countless times before – his friends' gaits were listless, and they were ready to head back. Baekhyun follows close behind, but once they near the edge of the woods, he pauses and clasps his hand on Jongdae's shoulder, leaning in close so he can hear his words clearly.
"I'll meet you guys later, don't wait for me," he advises, beginning to drift behind them.
Jongdae turns his head, faint worry painted across his face. "What's wrong?"
"Don't get lost again, hyung," Sehun warns, without looking back.
"I'll be fine! I just left something, I've gotta go get it," Baekhyun assures them, and with a scrutinizing gaze from Jongin – like he can read him – Baekhyun turns on his heels and hurries back to the fallen tree.
He usually met Chanyeol earlier, and he'd told him he was going to be out with his friends that night, so he didn't know if he'd be around or not. But he wanted to share his happiness with his new friend, and inform him that he'd actually gotten a decent mark on his essay, which had been partially (okay, a lot) inspired by him. All though his overall average in classical literature had suffered, he'd gotten a B+ on his paper, which was pretty damn good, if he says so himself. Someday he'll let Chanyeol read it.
After walking for what felt like an hour, intermittently calling out his friend's name, he feels something stirring in his gut, like indigestion, but he hadn't drunk or eaten that much. He thinks maybe it's disappointment, and he turns back, kicking a stray root in frustration.
He yelps as the branch gives way to faulty soil, the ground crumbling beneath his feet. Baekhyun slides down a rocky slope that was masked by darkness, tumbling over brambles and boulders that sting and slice. Just as soon as it begins, it's over, and he's lying on his back, spread-eagle and coughing from the impact.
"Shit . . ." He groans, gingerly rolling onto his side. He winces at the tweak in his shoulder and looks down at his foot, which feels like it's twisted. Great.
His shirt caught on something on the way down and sports a large tear, where a bright red gash across his pale stomach shows itself angrily. The rest of him is covered in scratches and blossoming bruises. He heaves a sigh, and the simple action makes his ribs feel like they're on fire. His head thunks back on the cool earth and he pulls an arm over his eyes, willing the pain away so he can move. Eventually he'll get there.
And he feels stupid, because he'd just been thinking about how well he knew the landscape, but he hadn't known there was a cliff right there in front of him, and now he's hurt and it's hard to even sit up. As he lies there, he hears the faint padding of footsteps drawing closer, and is soon greeted by a deep voice.
"Chanyeol," he croaks, a mixture of embarrassment and relief flooding over him. He's saved.
"Baekhyun, you stupid kid," his friend hisses under his breath, gathering him up in his arms. He imagines this is like when he'd first gotten lost in the woods, only then he had been unconscious, and he didn't think he was going to vomit this time. Chanyeol isn't wearing a shirt (of course) and the heat from his skin is stifling in the summer night. He imagines Chanyeol is warmer than most humans, his body works at a different temperature, and Baekhyun has half the mind to start spouting some crap like him being his own personal space heater, a la Twilight. Except he really doesn't have any need for a space heater right now, but the warmth is appreciated anyway, and he rests his head against his friend's chest, probably bleeding on him with the cuts on his cheek.
Baekhyun marvels at how Chanyeol carries him like he's holding something fragile and doesn't even break a sweat, all though his skin has a sheen of moisture, but it's probably from the hot summer air and not from carrying a light-weight Baekhyun. He isn't sticky and gross and he smells like he usually does, like wilderness, and it's a strange comfort to Baekhyun. He carefully sets the smaller boy down on a stunted tree trunk, sitting next to him, and begins to inspect his wounds.
"Tsk," he clucks, not unlike a fretful mother hen, and drags the pad of his thumb ever-so-gently over a scratch on his cheekbone. Baekhyun recoils lightly, and Chanyeol quickly withdraws his hand.
"What were you doing?" His voice isn't very reprimanding but he cowers regardless, shame spilling over his damaged form. He slings an arm across his stomach, eyes trained on the ground.
"I was looking for you," he mutters, sulking. The wolf boy attentively combs leaves and tangles out of his hair with his fingers, plucking a twig from his temple.
"You're a mess," Chanyeol says, and Baekhyun doesn't know if he's referring to his physical state or to him in general.
"I know," he replies, all though it was probably a rhetorical question, and he can't keep the misery out of his voice.
"I'm gonna do something. Tell me to stop if you don't like it, okay?"
"Wha—" Before Baekhyun can properly react, Chanyeol's wrapped his steely arms around his torso and is nuzzling into his neck. His heated breath exhales in small puffs against the tender skin between his throat and shoulder, and Baekhyun feels the sudden wetness of his tongue press against a cut. It stings for a second, but the pain quickly fades into blessed relief. It's as though the wolf boy's saliva is a salve, soothing and healing as his very soft, very smooth tongue sweeps across his skin.
Baekhyun tenses up at first, his entire body going rigid. But the sensation – initially weird, but then undeniably pleasant – eventually makes him go slack in his arms, passively letting himself be cleaned. He's lucky there's no one around, because they'd probably misconstrue the gesture, because it must look like Chanyeol is making out with him. Which he isn't; he's just giving him a tongue bath. In a completely helpful, non-sexual way. Baekhyun is still too roughened up from the fall to protest, or to lecture him on how humans don't give each other baths with their tongue, they just use hydrogen peroxide and bandages, so he sits still and anxiously waits for him to finish.
Chanyeol laps up the smeared blood along his clavicle, and much to his horror, a small moan escapes past his lips that somehow bubbled up in the back of his throat. It feels strange, wrong, but it feels good, a mixture of therapeutic and arousing, and Baekhyun squirms in Chanyeol's arms, uncomfortable with just how comfortable he's starting to feel. Chanyeol's fingertips, which had slipped beneath his shirt and were dancing up his stomach, come to a halt.
"Am I hurting you?" The concern in his words makes Baekhyun feel guilty. He's not hurting him at all; he's just unintentionally making his dick hard.
"N-No . . ." He stills, his mind foggy. Maybe he had drunk too much, after all. "K-Keep going," he encourages breathlessly, trying to keep the desperation out of his voice and ultimately failing. Chanyeol obeys, lifting his ruined and ragged shirt over his head (Baekhyun squeaks as his shoulder cracks) and carefully lays him back, one large hand supporting the small of his back and the other gripping his uninjured shoulder. He leans over his chest, tongue swiping across a long, jagged scratch on his pectoral. His mouth is precariously close to his nipple, which is perked up and sensitive to the breath that fans out from Chanyeol's nostrils, Baekhyun notices grimly.
But Chanyeol doesn't pay it any attention because this isn't the same situation for him, and Baekhyun tends to get horny after a few drinks when he isn't overly-pseudo-thoughtful or falling over ledges. His mouth is hanging open and his breath is coming out in short, shallow pants, and he swallows, trying to calm down. Chanyeol noses lower, hovering over the gash across his abdomen, and Baekhyun whimpers, hoping he ignores his now rather obvious arousal. The wolf gives his wound several kittenish licks before sucking on it lightly, fully stopping the idle bleeding. A choked sob catches in Baekhyun's throat and he closes his eyes, hips lifting off the wood impulsively.
Chanyeol places his hand flat on his chest, pushing him back down. "Stay still," he cautions, and his voice is rumbling and authoritative and intrusive to his ears. Chanyeol's lips have left his skin, so he takes the opportunity to lift his hand and brush against the cut along his stomach experimentally. He gasps. There's nothing there.
"It's – it's gone—"
Chanyeol emits a low, throaty chuckle. He rubs his nose against his cheek, tongue flicking out to wipe away another scratch. Baekhyun's hand flies up to his face to feel for it, some kind of roughness to indicate a scar. There's only a slight dampness: the skin is smooth and untouched. The scrape has disappeared.
"Why do you think I'm doing this? Wolf saliva heals wounds."
His lips catch his earlobe, tongue laving over a small cut that had trickled blood down his neck. Baekhyun's breath hitches; he wants Chanyeol to bite it, tug on his lobe with his teeth, mark him—
He whines quietly and shakes the thoughts away, trembling with lust. Chanyeol is almost done: they're face-to-face, and Baekhyun can't tear his eyes away as he watches the wolf boy's tongue slide out from between his lips and lick along the rim of his lower lip, where he'd been cut. Baekhyun moans wantonly, so close to kissing him, but Chanyeol pulls away and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.
Baekhyun feels like crying.
"I can't do much about your ankle, I'm sorry. You should wrap it when you get home."
"It probably isn't even sprained," Baekhyun mutters dejectedly, his eyes downcast.
He yelps as he's suddenly being picked up again, seemingly weightless in Chanyeol's arms. "I'll still carry you back, though." The boy can hear his grin without having to search for it.
They part ways at his apartment's doorstep, and Baekhyun is half expecting him to stoop down and kiss him good night, but that would be ridiculous. Chanyeol either hadn't noticed Baekhyun's (what he thought had been) blatant desire, even though his superior sense of smell had probably been the first to alert him of it, or he was really good at ignoring it. That's what friends do; or they constantly tease you about it, but Chanyeol isn't the type to be vicious, or to reciprocate misplaced (and hopefully fleeting) feelings.
Baekhyun sees him off, watching him phase and bound back into the trees.
"You were gone longer than I expected," Jongin drawls when he limps through the front door, fortunately boner-free but also missing his shirt.
"I got lost again," Baekhyun uses as his excuse, kicking off his shoes and wincing. Ankle. Right.
Jongin narrows his eyes at him from his spot on the sofa. Sehun is sprawled out and asleep on his lap. He strokes his light-coloured hair absent-mindedly, but there's always this hint of protectiveness to his actions and Baekhyun feels his throat begin to clog up with jealousy. He'd never been actively jealous of Jongin and Sehun's relationship, but tonight's a night of new discoveries. Baekhyun wants something like that, deep down, in a more insecure part of him that not many people get to see.
"You know, fucking in the woods was never my style, but you should really consider doing it somewhere else," Jongin says, looking him up and down. Despite Chanyeol's thorough tongue, he's probably still covered in dirt and traces of blood.
"I'm not fucking anyone," Baekhyun says icily before stalking off into the bathroom to take an extremely long shower. There's bitterness in his words that he wishes didn't betray him.
He lets the hot water beat down on him, scalding once it hits his skin, and fills the room with steam. The sound of the water drowns out the loudness of his thoughts.
Two nights later, after making sure walking on his foot won't cause him any further harm, Baekhyun and his friends go to a bar downtown. Drinks at Jongdae's just isn't working out anymore, as his selection of alcohol isn't as extensive as a proper bar's, and so Baekhyun finds himself at a small dinky table hiding under dim lighting and the smell of cigarette smoke clinging to his clothes. It isn't very crowded, as most have gone home to their families for the summer. Jongdae and Sehun will be leaving soon to visit theirs, but Baekhyun and Jongin will remain at their shared apartment. He's admittedly a little nervous to spend the summer alone with his roommate after their confrontation, but he has Chanyeol and – and he's really nervous about that too, actually. He hasn't seen Chanyeol since that night, attempting to sort out his jumble of feelings and overcome his embarrassment. Baekhyun thinks he's starting to feel better about it, though, and maybe he'll visit him tomorrow night, but he'll stay far away from sudden drop-offs.
His friends are reminiscing about the semester they just completed when he feels a large hand clap his shoulder. The bad one. He curls in on himself, trying not to make his grimace too noticeable. Yifan notices, however, and quickly removes his hand. Baekhyun turns his head and the look of concern on his friend's face makes his stomach churn uncomfortably. Jongin is distracted from the conversation and watches him and Baekhyun closely.
"Sorry, did I scare you?"
"No, hyung, I just—I hurt my shoulder," he explains hastily, delicately rubbing the affected area.
"That's too bad," the older boy muses, pulling him to his feet and into a brief, bone-crushing hug, though considerately avoiding his injured arm. Baekhyun peeks out from behind Yifan and spots his cronies. He isn't surprised. The pretty one – Luhan, he thinks – is at his heels, while the other two are occupied with ordering drinks. The one with the profound eyebags glances over in their direction and holds eye contact with Baekhyun for a few seconds. His eyes are dark and his expression is unreadable, and Baekhyun feels like shrinking behind Yifan (not a hard task) for protection from his impenetrable stare. He senses he's being judged for something but doesn't know what.
The upperclassman's chest rises and falls against his slight form as he inhales deeply, resting a possessive hand on the top of his head. He pauses and Baekhyun looks up curiously, puzzled by the frown he sees. Yifan's nose twitches and he purses his lips, furrowing his brow.
"You're not going home?"
"Nah, I'm staying at mine and Jongin's apartment for the summer." He tactfully detaches himself from the elder, glancing again at the two boys at the bar. The taller one, who is seated, says something to the shorter and takes a sip of his drink. There's a sour look of distaste on his face and Baekhyun doesn't think it's because of the clear liquid he's ordered. Shorter boy murmurs something to him and raps his knuckles on the side of taller boy's head, and taller boy snaps lightly at his withdrawing fingers with his teeth. Shorter boy chuckles and pets his hair, leaning in close and mumbling something into his ear. Taller boy is still frowning. They're too far away for Baekhyun to pick up anything they're saying.
"Stay out of trouble, okay?"
Yifan's voice brings him back, and he's caught off-guard.
"Um . . . okay?"
Does he know?
Maybe he's just deducing that he'd gotten in trouble, somehow, because of his shoulder.
Luhan says something in Mandarin to Yifan in jest and Yifan's jaw sets as he nods firmly. Luhan smiles wryly at Baekhyun and slips away to the others.
Baekhyun has never felt more mentally lost.
After Yifan excuses himself and moves back to the counter, where he and his friends begin to discuss a topic of unknown importance to the boy, he searches for Jongdae's attention. He discovers that his group of friends is staring at him, expecting him to say something. Jongin looks suspicious and unimpressed, Sehun's eyes are uncharacteristically wide (Baekhyun thinks that maybe Jongin's been telling him things), and Jongdae feigns disinterest.
"Jongdae," he says, and Jongdae's eyes clear. "Do you know what he said just then?"
His friend is taking Mandarin, and though he knows it'll be hard to get the truth out of him, he makes an attempt.
Jongdae crosses his arms and grunts, reclining in his chair. "The pretty boy?"
"Why d'you wanna know?"
Baekhyun narrows his eyes.
"Jongdae, you stubborn asshole, just tell me."
"Who's the stubborn asshole around here?" Jongdae retorts, but then settles back with a sigh of defeat. "Something about a dog. I don't know. I wasn't really listening."
A dog. Baekhyun recalls when Yifan had breathed in as though he had smelled him. Is it possible that to him, Baekhyun stinks like a dog – or rather, a wolf? He'd taken a shower twice since he'd been with Chanyeol, so that's unlikely. Unless . . .
Unless he doesn't know anything, and is just uselessly speculating.
Baekhyun props his chin with his hand and doesn't say much more that night. The chatter of his friends is distant and he feels the other boys' eyes on him too much as they continue to talk about whatever it is they're talking about.
He thinks he'll see Chanyeol tomorrow.
☾ part 2 ☽