SixTONES, Pack Animal

Title: Pack Animal [Shintarou, Hokuto]
Rating/Warnings: G
Summary: Shintarou figures out how to change Hokuto into a chinchilla too.
AN: For some reason this felt way weirder to write than the other bits, so if it has a weird vibe, I’m sorry? Every time I’m too exhausted from school this weird chinchilla stuff comes out. Also we decided Hokuto is a black velvet chinchilla because ofc he’s all pretty and showy and fancy.

Pack Animal

“Clean up in here and we’ll get started,” Shintarou says, looking around Hokuto’s room in mild distress. He gives an especially pointed look to the heap of laundry spilling over the edge of the basket, and Hokuto scratches the back of his head sheepishly. “I don’t want to lose you in here. Assuming it even works.”

Clearing the floor is the most important thing, so Hokuto dutifully straightens up, piling magazines on his desk and consolidating the laundry into a more solid heap, jammed down into the basket. Shintarou shuts an armful of belts and other accessories in Hokuto’s closet, safely out of harm’s way. Once they sit on the floor, Shintarou flattens himself against the floor to look under the bed, and pulls out a couple pens and a textbook Hokuto’s been looking for for a week.

“I didn’t think to look under there,” Hokuto confesses.

“You will after this, trust me,” Shintarou says. He gives a last look around. “Okay. No, wait, the water glass on your desk.”

“Ah! Stupid,” Hokuto agrees, standing back up. There’s only half the glass left anyway, so he just drinks it quickly before setting the glass back down, back far enough that it won’t get knocked off the desk. Once he’s settled back down, Shintarou looks him over, wondering how to start and half-distracted as always by the warm brown of Hokuto’s eyes and the way his hair flops softly over them.

“I really don’t know if anything will happen,” Shintarou warns again. Hokuto nods and says he knows, but Shintarou is still nervous. He doesn’t want Hokuto to be disappointed. Hashimoto said it should work if they were both relaxed and didn’t think about it too hard, but Hashimoto’s a jerk who can make anything go his way if he wishes hard enough.

Shintarou doesn’t even fully understand the mechanics of changing himself to a chinchilla and back again. Just because he can do it, doesn’t mean it still isn’t mostly a mystery.

“Are you sure you even want to do this?” Shintarou asks for probably the tenth time. Hokuto nods.

“I guess I want to understand what it’s like for you. What should I do?” Hokuto asks.

“Relax.” Shintarou draws a slow breath, willing himself to do the same. He tugs Hokuto’s sleeve. “Come here.”

Hokuto leans easily into Shintarou’s side, their backs against Shintarou’s bed. Hokuto loops his arm through Shintarou’s and rests his head against Shintarou’s shoulder. The cuddling is nice and familiar. Ever since Shintarou had started letting Hokuto pet him as a chinchilla, it doesn’t seem weird for them to be close even when Shintarou’s human. Hokuto is so sweet and gentle, Shintarou never feels anything but safe with him, even when he’s a soft-ball-sized prey animal.

“I’m gonna try,” Shintarou says, feeling as relaxed as he ever does. He lifts a hand to pet Hokuto’s hair and tries to do what Hashimoto said, to think about Hokuto at the same time as he thinks about turning himself small. If he does it just right, if they’re close enough, he might be able to take Hokuto with him. Shintarou thinks about Hokuto’s hair turning softer, him being small and cute and shy with the same big dark eyes, but with long sleek whiskers and tiny pink paws…

Shintarou feels himself start to change over, the tingling sensation rippling over his skin, but he doesn’t dare open his eyes until it’s over in case he just changed himself like usual. The smells strike him first, as usual; he can smell Hokuto’s laundry much more clearly, and the lingering scent of Hokuto’s cologne almost stings his nose, making him wrinkle it. He doesn’t smell anything else strange though, and Shintarou thinks, with the distant back part of his brain that isn’t busy sniffing for danger, that it must not have worked.

But when he opens his eyes, there is another chinchilla staring back at him, all dark fur and eyes wide with panic. Hokuto is holding perfectly still, not even whiskers twitching.

Shintarou turns himself back, sending Hokuto skittering under the bed, and has to take a second to shake his head clear. His heart is racing from changing back and forth too quickly and from the shock that he actually managed it. Part of him wants to change right back again, now that he has somebody to play chase with. Chinchillas are herd animals after all, which is most of the reason Shintarou agreed to try in the first place. But it isn’t safe for both of them to be chinchillas at the same time with nobody watching them, they already agreed. It’s too easy to forget and let all the smells and sounds and the need to chew take over. The last thing they need is for Hokuto to electrocute himself chewing a lamp cord.

From under the bed, Hokuto makes a weird, panicky wheezing noise. It’s the “I’m scared” noise, which Shintarou has made himself but never heard as a human, and suddenly he understands why Hokuto says he doesn’t like it when Shintarou makes it. Shintarou drops down flat to the floor to peer at Hokuto under the bed, trying to flatten himself invisibly against the wall.

“Aw, come on, it’s okay,” Shintarou coaxes. “It’s safe, I promise.”

It takes a lot of patience, but that’s all right since the others had to be so patient with him at first. Shintarou just keeps using that same even, gentle voice to talk to Hokuto. His cheek is asleep from being pressed against the carpet by the time Hokuto shuffles over cautiously, eying Shintarou beadily and ears flat to his head. Shintarou is ready, holding up a Cheerio just out of reach, and finally Hokuto comes out far enough that Shintarou can get a good look at him.

Shintarou wasn’t expecting the black fur, but it suits Hokuto, his white belly a cute contrast when he sits up on his hind legs to take the Cheerio and shove it in his face. Of course Hokuto has some fancy show-chinchilla coloring.

“Show off,” Shintarou accuses, letting Hokuto take a steady stream of Cheerios out of his hand. Hokuto is starting to relax, and anyway, if he comes back to normal a little chubbier, so much the better in Shintarou’s opinion. He wishes he’d had the brains to leave his phone out so he could take a picture, but he doesn’t dare risk making a grab for it now and scaring Hokuto back under the bed.

What he does do is draw his hand back steadily, until Hokuto is forced to step up onto Shintarou’s leg to keep reaching the treats. Absorbed in the food, Hokuto doesn’t seem to mind, even when Shintarou cautiously runs a hand over the arch of his back. Chinchillas really are as soft as the others keep saying; no wonder everybody gets so grabby with him.

“Hey, any chance you know how to turn back?” Shintarou asks. He guesses he’ll have to do it the same way as he made it happen in the first place, by imagining it. He wraps his thumb and forefinger around the base of Hokuto’s tail to keep him from darting off.

At first nothing happens except for Hokuto squirming, and Shintarou has to swallow a bubble of panic that he’s just ruined their unit by turning one of their frontmen into a rodent permanently. Shaking the thought off, Shintarou takes a deep breath and focuses on thoughts of regular Hokuto, much less furry and with a much bigger grin. Finally it works, and Shintarou gives an “Oof!” when Hokuto’s weight turns from a couple of ounces to sixty-plus kilograms straddling his leg.

“Hi,” Hokuto says, sounding a bit fuzzy and tipping forward against Shintarou’s chest.

“Okay?” Shintarou asks, glad the bed is right behind him to take some of Hokuto’s weight. Changing Hokuto back has left him tireder than usual, and Shintarou can see that doing this too often is an even worse idea than spending too much time changed over himself.

“Guess so? I feel weird, but not sick or anything.” Hokuto sighs, settling more comfortably against Shintarou’s chest. “You did it! Thanks for working hard.”

“Tcht,” Shintarou says, but he’s smiling, eyes slipping half-shut. “Next time Kouchi can babysit and I’ll show you how to take a dustbath.”

“It’s super weird how appealing that sounds,” Hokuto chuckles. “Maybe I’ll do my laundry and everything.”

Shintarou snorts. That’ll be the day.

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