acatwhowrites: (Changjo♡love)
A Cat Who Writes ([personal profile] acatwhowrites) wrote2016-12-13 10:25 am

a life without one is a life diminished

title: a life without one is a life diminished
players: Kim Jongdae/Chen, Park Chanyeol, Kim Jongin/Kai, Oh Sehun
rating: PG (for a couple words)
word count: 3,120w
summary: Chanyeol likes cute dogs and cuter dog people.
a/n: The title is from Dean Koontz's Whispers: “Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one is a life diminished.”
I've never worked in a store, grocery or otherwise. I also really wanted to make all of f(x) into dogs. Krystal the Golden Retriever, Luna the husky, Victoria the Cocker Spaniel, and Amber the pug.
If you don't have a car battery charger or at least jumper cables, you really should. Especially with winter coming upon us.

Written for the second puppiesinlove fest.
Read on: AFF || AO3 || LJ





Chanyeol is 24 years old when he falls in love like for the umpteenth time.

He can't help himself, he reasons. He has a big heart! A big heart means lots of room and lots of love to give.

This is what he tells himself as he finds himself once again unable to resist the pull when a cute blonde in a beige minivan smiles at him.

"Hi!" he greets, voice pitched higher than natural. No one else is around to witness the bounce in his step as he approaches the minivan. "Oh my goodness, you are so cute."

Inside, a fluffy Golden Retriever wags her tail happily, not entirely sure what the stranger's saying but loving it nonetheless, because everyone else has simply walked on by without stopping to let her love them, but this biped is not only stopping, he's coming closer!

The front windows are both opened a few inches and smeared with nose schmuts. While it's definitely cooling off, a car sitting in the sun can still get plenty warm for a creature wearing a heavy fur coat. Chanyeol wiggles his fingers over the window's edge, and the dog eagerly struggles to her feet. He notices she keeps weight off her left hind leg; it's wrapped in pink vet wrap.

"Oh, poor baby!" Chanyeol coos as she licks his fingers. "What'd you do to yourself? Too much fun can be a bad thing. Gotta take care of yourself." She whines and reaches her neck further, so he pushes his arms inside the car more to rub at her ears and neck. "You're so silky! Such pretty fur. What a pretty girl you are. Yes." She pants happily. "So pretty!"

His phone buzzes in his back pocket, his final alarm set to remind himself that his break is over, and he still has another three hours of work before nightly freedom.

The dog whimpers when he removes a hand from her head, nudging the other one to keep moving its fingers behind that delicious spot behind her ear.

"I'm sorry, gorgeous," he sighs. "I gotta get back to work." She picks up on the tone and licks his retreating hand one last time before returning to her spot curled up on the passenger seat, head on her forepaws and eyes raised in innocence." It's that exact expression that Chanyeol always remembers and fears, because he is only a man who is weak to puppy-dog eyes and puppies. "Don't look at me like that, or I'll never leave!" He presses a hand to the glass, a little voice in the back of his head sighing in relief when the car alarm doesn't go off. "Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow... Or whenever we meet again. Because we will. I can feel it. We're soulmates." The dog smiles. She obviously agrees.

With heavy heart, Chanyeol finally has both hands in his pockets and starts to head inside—walking backwards, to look at the adorable dog just a few moments longer—before he starts receiving texts from his co-workers. He notices the headlines are on, and it illuminates an idea that will allow him to be both self-serving as well as a Good Samaritan.

He turns sharply and dashes into the grocery store. He yanks his sweatshirt over his head and shoves it into the locker he shares with Baekhyun, takes a moment to run a hand through his dyed hair—still a little fried, but it sits a bit more artfully messy than just-rolled-out-of bed—and dashes out onto the floor.

Chanyeol hops to his spot behind a counter, flips on the light, and picks up the phone to relay a message over the store speakers: "To the owner of the beige Toyota Sienna, your headlights are on, and your Golden Retriever smiled at me. Please come to cash register 4 and tell me what her name is, because I love her."

He greets each customer with a wide smile and enthusiastic Hello! Did you find everything alright?, anticipating the revelation of the dog-loving minivan driver, but no one mentions it. They all offer more reserved, but no less friendly, replies, pay for their groceries, pack up, and leave without a backwards glance.

Three people pass his counter in such a way, making it feel to Chanyeol like the most disappointing fifteen minutes of his life.

It's entirely possible, he reasons, that the dog in the minivan's human isn't even in this store. The parking lot spans the entire width of the strip mall.

It's an in-between off time, when there are few cashiers up front and more on break or stocking the store. No one's milling around the front, so Chanyeol uses his height advantage to look around and see if he can spot his target. He's positive he'll know them when he sees them, because dog people have a certain vibe, and Chanyeol thinks he's a very good read of character and vibe.

Jongdae's manning the information counter and lottery tickets, leaning over the glass with a window marker. He waves when he notices Chanyeol looking, and Chanyeol waves back.

The only customers are at the end of the row of check-out counters, the '10 items and below' line, which has been assigned to the new kid who started a couple weeks ago. His name is Sehun, and he's friendlier than he looks, Chanyeol's found. His resting scowl is natural and not helped by the strong eyebrows and dyed blond hair, but the whole package makes for a very handsome face that young and old women seem attracted to, if the pink in his ears is anything to judge by.

A trio of high school girls are giggling to one another and waving their phones as they try to chat him up. Sehun ducks his head and drops a bag of chocolates in his haste to scan things as coolly and quickly as possible. One of the girls apparently tries to give him something they just bought; he's shaking his head and rubbing his nose, a sure sign he's both embarrassed and pleased.

He does end up accepting something, and it looks like a bottled drink. The girls leave falling into one another and laughing as they ride their cute guy high out into the brisk afternoon.

"You at least get their numbers?" Jongdae calls from the front desk. He, like Chanyeol, takes great pleasure in watching their newest hire struggle, but there's a bit of bitterness, too, because neither have had the pleasure of being the reason for someone to come to the grocery store. Daily necessities trump their own beauty.

Another customer steps up to Sehun's counter, and now Chanyeol really is bitter and jealous, because they're a boy. A cute boy. And he is gorgeous from what he can see, which is his entire back side. He's tall even wearing ratty high tops, probably really close to Sehun's height, if he wasn't slouching, and his jeans look like they're vacuum-sealed to his legs.

Chanyeol dubs him CB in his head. Cute Boy.

Apparently, CB knows Sehun. They seem to argue about something before Sehun actually rounds the counter and pushes the cute boy by the shoulders, propelling him back down the aisle and around to Chanyeol's—who immediately starts putzing with the register, to mask his surveillance—so they must be friends.

Sehun declares he's on break and pulls a very convincing disappearing act. Here and then gone in a single blink. Chanyeol hears him talking to Jongdae and prepares to do his job without coming across as an unsocialised caveman. Cute people, like cute dogs, have a negative effect on his functionality.

A basket full of easy-to-prepare foods rode the conveyor belt to the scanning machine, and Chanyeol automatically reaches in with both hands to start unloading it all as he looks up to greet the cute boy, but his smile freezes and won't let an actual greeting pass.

If his back side was cute, his front not only doesn't disappoint, it puts his back to shame. The glint of overhead highlights a silver necklace. The pendent nestles between full lips, bouncing a little as the customer nibbles on it.

Attractive people come to the grocery store all the time. Even beauty must be nourished. CB must be a demi-god, though, an angel on Earth, because he looks effortlessly modelesque, and Chanyeol feels kind of self-conscious in comparison. Sure, he's tall and leggy and has large eyes, but his own dyed hair is fading from a gaudy red and styled in such a way that probably made his ears look even more pointed and awkward, and wearing a turtleneck makes him sweat. He needs ample breathing room.

"Hello!" He says it too loud, but it is better than nothing, and he starts scanning things double-time while trying to will the heat from his ears. Karma must be paying him back for teasing Sehun in his head. "Welcome," he greets the counter. "Did you find everything okay?"

"Yes, thank you." Oh God, even his voice is cute. Low and soft and adorably shy. Chanyeol loves shy people. When he makes them laugh, it is the absolute best feeling in the world.

Second only to the satisfaction of making a dog's tail wag so hard their butt wiggles.

Chanyeol works largely on automatic, having worked at the store full or part-time for three years. He kind of really wants to get CB checked out—meaning his food and things; he's already checked out the rest of him and feels kind of ashamed for ogling while literally within touching distance—but he nearly drops a can of tomato sauce when the attractive guy pulls the pendant a little ways from his lips and says, "About that announcement a while ago..."

Chanyeol's head jerks up, and he smiles widely. Not to stereotype cars, but he expected a soccer mom, not the hot soccer son. No complaints, though. "Yeah?! Is she yours? The dog, I mean," he adds quickly. Some guys like cars, after all, and perceive personalities for them. Personally, Chanyeol finds that kind of odd but also sweet. Everyone needs a passion.

CB nods a little, sucking on the pendant again. "Her name's Krystal. I'm borrowing the car," he adds, looking down sheepishly. "I ran out to turn them off. I'm not used to not having automatic lights."

"My sister's car is the same way. I drained the battery when I accidentally left them on overnight. It was awful. She made me get up and charge it and drive her to work using our mom's car. I saw the sunrise for the first time in years, though, because of that, so it wasn't all bad, I guess." He rubs the hanging stack of plastic bags together until they start to part and flaps his hand inside. "I just didn't want to get yelled at by my manager for using the speaker system just to ask about someone's dog." Again. "Krystal, though? That's pretty. She looks like a Krystal. A very pretty lady."

CB drops his head and smiles, and Chanyeol swear his heart stutters. He knows where the store defibrillator is, but he doesn't trust Jongdae or Sehun to use it on him properly, so he's grateful his heart gets a hold of itself and plays it cool.

"I promised her I'd be quick, but I couldn't decide what treats to get her."

Chanyeol looks at the items he's bagging. He didn't know dog cookies had sprinkles. "These actually look really good..."

"They look better than they taste, actually."

"Really? You tried them?" One of Chanyeol's uncles believes that anything he eats is also good for his dog, so she gets chicken, rice, cake, cookies, and whatever falls off the table. His dog is now obese and diabetic and blissfully unaware of the facts, just like her dad.

"I was really lazy one day, and they were right there, and I wondered what they tasted like, since she likes them so much." He tucks his chin into his turtleneck. It can't hide the dusky pink over his cheeks. "I couldn't even chew it. It was dry and disgusting."

"But they still look really good. I'd probably still try one, honestly. I am willing to experience the disappointment for myself and carry that regret with me. It's worth experiencing a taste meant for the purest creatures on this planet."

"You're a dog person, aren't you?" CB laughs, and Chanyeol's heart swells as his brain coos.

"I love dogs!" When he was in preschool, he proudly declared he was going to be a dog when he grew up. There are no dog degrees, so he's studying music composition, but he still lowkey kinda wants to be a dog, even though he thinks he'd be allergic to himself. Damn his dander. "Man's best friend. The ideal life, befriending all the men." His brain catches up with his mouth and trips over itself. "And women, like, the whole of human race. Not just men, but nothing against them. Us. I'm a man, too. Men are great."

Is it just him, or has time stopped to make sure he can thoroughly embarrass himself? He was doing so well before.

Everything's bagged, and Chanyeol couldn't even say what half of it was. His hand is its own entity, working the computer to add tax and display a final total. He recites it with a much more reserved tone than before, and CB's chewing on his necklace again, so the conversation—and most of the humiliation—is over.

CB hands over exact change, and Chanyeol manages to avoid touching his skin when accepting payment. The cash register dings; he bumps it closed with his hip and tears off the receipt, drops it into one of the bags, and sets them on top of the counter.

"Here you go. Have a nice day. Oh," he adds as an afterthought, "and sorry, but I stuck my hands in your car to pet her."

CB looks adorably confused for all of three seconds when a warm smile crosses his face. He smiles with his eyes, Chanyeol's brain points out unnecessarily.

"It's fine; she loves attention." He bows a little, takes his bags, and leaves. Sehun waves at CB from behind the counter with Jongdae, and Chanyeol could've sworn the new kid said he was taking his break. He watches until the Toyota Sienna leaves the parking lot, blonde Golden head sticking out the window.

There's a lull again. Customers are ambling up and down the aisles, but no one's finished perusing, yet. It's always very stop-and-go around this time, and Chanyeol both loves and hates it. He loves how it passes the time, and he hates how little time it passed. If he can rely on the giant wall clock glaring from over the huge store logo, the whole embarrassing-himself-in-front-of-the-cute-boy lasted three minutes.

"Well, Park?" Jongdae's chin is in his hands, elbows on the doodled glass counter. "What'd you learn?"

"Her name's Krystal."

Jongdae's eyebrows slant up even more than usual. "What?"

Chanyeol's eyebrows dip over his nose. "What what?"

"I'm talking about that last customer—"

"The handsome brunet you were checking out," Sehun supplies, adding more scribbles to the counter.

"—not the dog."

CB loves dogs, especially his own; he smiles with his whole face; and he is too precious for this world.

"Although I suppose I shouldn't be surprised," Jongdae sighs and walks through the small side office to enter the main floor. He claps a hand on Chanyeol's shoulder. "You'd only care about someone cute if they had a dog, anyway."

"I'd date them for the dog." And he isn't ashamed to admit it.

Sehun tosses the marker aside. "Now I'm going to take my break."

"Wait, Sehun!" The boy looks over his shoulder, probably anticipating the interruption. "What's his name?" Jongdae shakes is head slowly, not needing words to be condescending.

Sehun just scoffs. "You talked with him, an actual conversation, and you didn't even introduce yourself?"

"I'm wearing a name tag!" Chanyeol protests. He pulls the pin from his chest as dramatic emphasis. Sehun shakes his head and leaves without providing the vital information Chanyeol requested. Along with learning that he's popular with girls, Chanyeol quickly learned that Sehun is a disrespectful little shit, and that's how he shows his affection.

"Ah, young puppy love," Jongdae sings. He reaches around Chanyeol's shoulders with an arm and rocks them side to side a little.

Chanyeol doesn't think he falls in love easily. In like, sure. He goes through crushes like socks. In love, though? Nah. Even if his heart feels a little heavier when a crush doesn't progress beyond one-sided pining, he gets over it and moves on. This 'puppy love,' too, shall pass.

"There'll always be someone else. Dogs are very popular; thus dog people are, too," Jongdae explains affectionately, reaching to pet Chanyeol's hair. "Anyone who gives you attention, you attach to, and you're kinda sad when they're gone. You're like a puppy that way."

"I'm not like a puppy," Chanyeol grumbles, but he doesn't pout. He frowns a little and sulks, but he does not pout.

Jongdae's sympathy and interest has run out, and an elderly woman is standing at the end of the conveyor belt, struggling to pull out her cane and unload at the same. "Stop pouting, Chanyeol. You still have a couple hours left, and work will distract you from your puppy-dog crush."

Chanyeol doesn't flip him off, because the lady he's helping is old enough to be his grandmother, and he'd never act like that in front of his grandmother or anyone else's, but he plans to switch out the window markers with permanent ones next chance he gets.

As he starts the monotonous routine of scanning boxes and typing in memorised combinations for produce, he wanders back to that sweet Golden Retriever, cute golden boy, and beige minivan without automatic headlights. He should've written down the license plate, then he'd know when CB was back.

Or, he can just bribe Sehun for CB's name and phone number. He doesn't much like the first half of his plan, but the second part makes up for it.

He packs up the woman's bags in her cart and goes to her car with her to unload everything into the trunk, receiving a pleased smile and pat on his hand for his trouble. Pushing off the asphalt with a foot, he rides the cart into the corral and hops off as it crashes into the rest of its herd and practically skips back inside.