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Somewhere Over The Rainbow

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At age twenty two, Chanyeol and Baekhyun got married, back when life was easier and full of dreams, the uncertainty of the future still blurry and exciting. That hadn’t deterred them, though, and they’d taken every obstacle and every challenge life threw at them head on, giving each other support through it all. They’d been young, of course, and had their fair share of fights and misunderstandings, but they’d thankfully been able to get through them.

With the years, they’d learned to mature together, to explore themselves as individuals and together as a couple, and to grow as time went by, taking each experience and taking every new aspect like a lesson to be used to better their relationship. It had taken time, of course, but thankfully, their bond only grew stronger. They’d given each other time to establish themselves financially too, focusing on work as much as possible, while also learning to divide their time between work and each other.

They learned to communicate better, to speak when something bothered them, to not go to sleep after a fight without speaking things out and fixing them. They gave each other time to love, to learn, and to enjoy each other as a couple.

At age twenty eight, they decided it was time to have a baby together. They prepared each other accordingly, Baekhyun as the carrier bettering his diet and taking the necessary supplements, while Chanyeol learned more about parenting, reading books and seeking advice from his mother.

It was a  new journey and when they finally felt ready, they started to try. The sex was wonderful and the idea of having a /baby/, the idea of /impregnation/, made the sex even better than it used to be. It was filled with more passion, with more need, and with more /love/, the idea of creating a life together making the moment more exciting.

After three months of trying, the big news came. A pregnancy test and a visit to the doctor later and they found out Baekhyun was expecting.

The experience was exciting and scary, and as time kept passing by and the bump kept growing, the excitement only became higher. Even more changes were made, a room was prepared for the baby and baby clothes were bought.

And after nine months of preparations and expectation, Park Kyungsoo was born. With the most beautiful eyes the first-time parents had ever seen, Baekhyun and Chanyeol welcomed the new member to the family.

At age thirty, the family welcomed a second baby, Park Jongin, and very unexpectedly, at age thirty three, they welcomed Park Sehun.

Years passed, the children grew as the parents continued to love and to learn along with them. Every new experience was cherished and every memory was locked away in a special, guarded, careful recess of their brains. There were tears, fights, smiles and laughter, and each and every moment was precious.

First days of school, graduations, first loves and moving out of the house came by. Seeing their children grow up was sad, of course, but knowing they had grown to be good, hard-working people was more than the couple could ask for.

But time didn’t only bring that. Old age hit them eventually, it was inevitable. Sight loss, hair growing gray and sparse, wrinkles, and pain in places that had been okay before started to appear.

Oftentimes, Chanyeol would find Baekhyun looking at himself in the mirror with a frown. and each time, Chanyeol would wrap his arms around Baekhyun and would reassure him that he was still as beautiful as the day they met, if not more. And every time, Baekhyun would light up and kiss him, thanking him for loving him all the years they’d been together.

Love prevailed and grew with time, the years together only making the bond they shared and formed even stronger than before. No matter the age they had or the time that passed, they learned something new about each other every day, and with every new thing, they learned to grow and to love.

Their love was beautiful, the kind that’s rare to see. It was pure and patient, the way all love should be. It was understanding and strong and endured time the way most didn’t manage.

It was perfect, the way they got to spend time by themselves again, travelling and going new places and making new memories as a couple without the responsibility of raising children. Not anymore, a least.

Of course, they looked after their grandchildren from time to time, but it wasn’t the same. From being the ones in charge of teaching and disciplining, they were now the ones pampering and playing and helping pull pranks.

It was beautiful, the way life continued, and painful as time went by and the idea of death seemed much more present to both of them. And it only became more real as the visits to the doctor became more frequent, along with common comorbidities that came with adulthood.

It was when Chanyeol’s body started having abnormal symptoms that Baekhyun became extremely worried, though. The doctors ran many tests, looking for a possible cause, and when they got the answers they were looking for, the couple and their family were absolutely devastated. Baekhyun tried to remain strong as the head of the family, but it was tough, especially at night, and Chanyeol held him tight as he cried.

Still, even through the bad news, Chanyeol was determined to live his last moments freely and well, doing what he enjoyed with the one he loved the most by his side. The trips became more frequent after this, both taking the opportunity to visit places they never had before.

Despite the old age, the sex was still as amazing, still as full of love and passion as when they were younger. They indulged in each other’s bodies while they still could, making sure to show the other that, despite the many years they’d spent together, the flame of love that had been lit back in their twenties wasn’t only still very much alive, but burning even brighter than before, stronger now than it had been back then.

Sadly, their trips slowly started to diminish and life’s pace slowed down as Chanyeol’s health deteriorated. That didn’t stop him from smiling brightly all the time or from reminding everyone just how much he loved them all. He was still boisterous and easily excitable, but the way his body couldn’t keep up with him was obvious and affected the way he moved around.

It was heartbreaking for Baekhyun to see his husband’s health deteriorate, what life he had in him slowly dimming with every day that passed by. His previously endless energy slowly depleted and the bright light in his eyes slowly died down.

Weeks went by, and Chanyeol only got worse. Slowly, he lost his ability to walk without falling, his memory became faulty and his attention span was shorter. He could barely eat, could barely sleep, and he had to be helped when performing the most mundane of tasks.

Baekhyun didn’t mind looking after him, of course, but it hurt to see him like that. It hurt seeing him slowly become someone he wasn’t, the one he loved slowly slipping away as time went by.

Many nights, Baekhyun had to hide in the bathroom to cry. It hurt knowing his husband, the love of his life, the only man he’d ever loved, would soon leave him and that before the time came, he had to suffer.

In front of Chanyeol, though, Baekhyun remained strong, always with a smile on his face, always cheerful and optimistic, even if deep inside his heart was breaking the more time passed.

“Love, would you sing for me?” Mumbled Chanyeol one afternoon as he lied in bed, his voice weak with exhaustion.

Chanyeol had always loved it when Baekhyun sang for him. Be it in the car, in the shower, in the kitchen, or before going to bed, Chanyeol adored Baekhyun’s voice. He once claimed it was the best medicine to treat any of his ailments, be it a cold or stress or anything else.

Baekhyun understood then that Chanyeol was feeling scared again. It had become a common occurrence for his husband to ask him to sing and Baekhyun had come to understand he needed some reassurance that everything would be okay. It hurt knowing Chanyeol felt like that, that he knew what was coming any moment now, and that there was no way Baekhyun could help him feel any better about it. After all, there was no solution for death, no way to run away from it. Once it set its eyes on you, there was no going back.

Taking a deep breath, Baekhyun took Chanyeol’s hand -ignoring how cold and weak it felt in his own- and ran his free fingers through his now grey, frail hair. A knot formed in his throat, but he tried his best to ignore it as he started to sing the song they’d danced to during their wedding. The memories flooded him as the words left his lips, the melody one that brought him peace and reassurance that everything would be okay.

Once he was done, silence took over, Chanyeol’s labored breath the only sound in the room. Baekhyun didn’t let go of him, his fingers still playing with his hair  and his beautiful ears and the grip on his hand still firm and strong.

“Love, I’m so tired,” mumbled Chanyeol as he looked at Baekhyun, his eyes portraying exactly what he was saying. “But I can’t rest, not yet. I don’t want to leave you alone.”

Baekhyun’s eyes filled with tears at that, knowing deep down that he should tell him that it would be okay, that he could let go now...but he couldn’t do it. Not yet, at least. It hurt too much to think that his love would leave him.

Seeming to sense this, Chanyeol smiled -or at least tried to- and weakly ran his thumb over Baekhyun’s fingers. “It’s okay Hyunnie, I can wait.”

“I’m sorry,” mumbled Baekhyun as he tried his best not to cry. “I-I’m just not ready. I’m sorry.”

Weakly, Chanyeol moved his arm and immediately, Baekhyun lay down next to him, his face now buried in his husband’s chest as his tears fell silently.

Hours later, after Chanyeol fell asleep, Baekhyun sat down to speak to his sons about the situation.

“H-he,” he said, but had to stop as his throat started to hurt. “He’s ready, but…” Biting his bottom lip, Baekhyun looked down at his hands. “He just wants me to be okay. And I-I want to give him what he wants, I want to let go, but I can’t, I’m not ready.”

Tears started to stream down his cheeks, his lips trembling with every word that he spoke.

Not liking to see his papa in such a state, Kyungsoo embraced him as Sehun and Jongin each grabbed one of his hands. “It’s okay papa, it’s okay.”

Baekhyun hated showing such weakness in front of them, he was supposed to be the strong, collected one after all. He was the father figure, the older one. He wasn’t supposed to lean on his children like this. If anything, /they/ should be the ones leaning on him in such a sad situation.

Yet...he couldn’t be strong. Not when the love of his life, his companion for over sixty years would leave him anytime now. How was he supposed to live without him? How was he supposed to continue without his unconditional love and support? What would be of him without his Chanyeol next to him?

He felt like a coward for feeling this way. for not being able to let Chanyeol rest the way he so badly deserved after the brave fight he’d faced with his illness. But Baekhyun couldn’t do it, not yet at least. He needed a couple more days.

And so, he spent the following days next to his husband much like before, reading books for him, watching TV as he cuddled him, and singing his favorite songs to him.

The doctor came to check on him regularly and the look in his eyes said enough: Chanyeol was ready to leave any moment, but Baekhyun was holding him back.

Baekhyun felt so selfish, but letting go...was hard, it was painful to think of being alone after so many years together. How was he supposed to function without his other half?

He finally accepted, though, on a Saturday afternoon when the sun was bright outside, filtering through the blue curtains of the bedroom they’d shared as a couple since the day they got married. Baekhyun was sitting on a chair next to Chanyeol’s bed, reading one of Chanyeol’s favorite books as his fingers played with the taller’s ears. Sehun was sitting on a chair next to Baekhyun, an arm around his shoulders as he listened to his papa reading to his dad. Kyungsoo was taking full advantage of the old desk the couple hadn’t used in years, working diligently on his laptop while Jongin sat on the floor watching TV.

It was a peaceful atmosphere as Chanyeol’s eyes remained close, the only indication that he was awake being how he would smile softly from time to time whenever Baekhyun’s touch tickled him.

“Love, would you sing for me?” Asked Chanyeol, using the exact same words he’d been using for the last months.

Immediately, Baekhyun put the book on the bedside table and proceeded to sing their wedding song once again, just like he’d done every other time Chanyeol asked. He sang softly as his eyes filled with tears, much like they did every time this happened. He didn’t let them fall though, and instead looked into Chanyeol’s eyes, preferring to focus on /him/only.

Something in Chanyeol had changed, though. Something in his eyes was different, resembling more the Chanyeol from the past, a younger Chanyeol, and in that moment, Baekhyun understood.

It was time to let go.

Holding on tightly to Chanyeol’s hand, he continued to sing as he showed him just how much he loved him while also trying to reassure him with just his words and his touch that he could leave. Chanyeol seemed to understand since, for the first time in a long time, he looked energized. That bright beautiful smile Baekhyun had missed so much appeared and Baekhyun’s heart started to beat like it did the very first time they saw each other.

And when the song was over, he leaned down and kissed Chanyeol’s forehead, his cheeks, his nose, and finally his lips. It was very soft and short, but it was still full of all the love Baekhyun had felt for him for the last sixty two years.

“Love, I’m so tired,” mumbled Chanyeol.

Smiling through the tears that wanted to spill, Baekhyun nodded as his fingers played with his hair. “I know Yeollie, I know.”

Seeming to understand it was time, Kyungsoo and Jongin took Chanyeol’s free side as Sehun held on even closer to his papa.

“It’s okay, love. You can rest now,” said Baekhyun through the lump that was choking him. “I’ll be okay, I promise.”

“We’ll look after him, dad,” murmured Kyungsoo. “We promise we won’t leave him alone.”

“He’ll be okay. You don’t have to worry,” added Jongin.

Smiling softly, Chanyeol looked at each of his sons. “Thank you,” he murmured as he closed his eyes, taking a deep breath.

Baekhyun leaned closer and planted a soft kiss on his cheek. “I love you, baby. You can go now.”

And in that moment, with that final reassurance, Chanyeol took his last breath.

Everything was silent for a moment as they all stared at Chanyeol’s peaceful form. Anyone would’ve thought he was asleep…

And that was when it hit Baekhyun.

It was like a fire ignited inside him, a pain so potent that it consumed him whole as he finally understood that Chanyeol, /his/ Chanyeol was gone. And while he’d been the one to let him go, it still hurt.

His love had left and his heart broke into minuscule pieces, wave after wave of pain taking over his senses. Sobs escaped his lips as realization truly hit him, his frail frame shaking with the force of them.

Immediately, Sehun and Jongin wrapped their arms around him while Kyungsoo, as the oldest sibling, slipped outside for a moment to make the necessary arrangements.

Baekhyun barely registered any of it, though. He was too far gone in his pain to concentrate on everything going on around him.

Memories of his time with Chanyeol, from the moment they met in high school to the many years of marriage they shared flitted through his mind. It was like every situation he’d been in with Chanyeol decided to cross his mind, heightening the pain, making him realize that there would be no more new memories, no more new lessons to learn. Everything they lived through together would remain in the past, nothing but bittersweet memories of what was, but could never be again.

He didn’t calm down for what felt like hours, and the only way he did was after the doctor gave him some medication to help him. Baekhyun accepted it gladly, needing to rest and to travel to a faraway land where Chanyeol was still by his side.

He dreamed of his husband that night, memories of their first date running through his mind all night long. He woke up crying the following morning.

He promised himself he would try to be stronger, though, at least during the funeral, but he failed. It was too much for him to watch the casquet be lowered to the ground. It was like reality truly sank in, the body of his husband now buried, not to be seen by him again.

He had to be sedated again, his children and the doctor afraid of the consequences the situation could have on his already frail health.

The following days went the same, with Baekhyun waking up feeling alone, cold, and heart broken. Tears would fall every other hour and sleeping became a problem that not even medication could treat.

He tried to open up to his children, he tried to spend time with his grandchildren, and even tried to interact with his children's spouses, but the looming dark cloud that stood over his head, following him around, along with the lack of his husband’s presence, made it tough. He grew tired easily and would have to dismiss himself too early before he collapsed in front of them all.

As expected by everyone, his own health deteriorated drastically a couple of months after. He tried his best to remain strong, to make Chanyeol proud, but his heart ached too much. He was too drained after losing the love of his life. It was all too much for someone his age.

He soon fell ill, having to stay in bed for weeks as his own life slipped through his fingers.

Could someone die from a broken heart? Baekhyun never thought it possible and a younger version of  himself would have laughed at the possibility, but lying in bed as he saw his life leave his body made him understand that perhaps...perhaps it /was/ possible.

He tried to fight of course, for the sake of his family who lost one parent already, but he couldn’t seem to find the energy to do so. Any energy he ever had was taken away, gone the moment Chanyeol left.

“I’m so sorry,” mumbled Baekhyun weakly as he tried to focus his eyes on his children, who were surrounding his bed the way they all had with Chanyeol. “I should’ve tried harder.”

“It’s okay papa,” whispered Jongin as he caressed his cheek. “We understand. It’s okay.”

“You can go meet him now,” added Kyungsoo. “I bet he’s waiting for you.”

“Yeah, papa. Don’t worry, we’ll be okay,” said Sehun.

Baekhyun knew they were all crying, especially Sehun. They’d all pampered him too much and seeing his parents leave like this must be hitting him hard. And really, Baekhyun wished he could stay with them, that he could hold them in his arms and reassure them that he would live many more years, that he would be okay, but that would be a lie.

“You can let go, papa,” reassured Kyungsoo as he leaned down to kiss his forehead.

Jongin and Sehun followed suit before they all lied down with him, the way they’d done when they were young and would spend the night in his and Chanyeol’s room watching movies.

Baekhyun felt warm and contented at the love he was receiving from his children. It gave him the reassurance that, indeed, they weren’t upset with him.

“I love you,” he murmured with the last remnant of energy left in his body before he finally felt himself let go, his body relaxing as finally

.../Finally/…

He would go and join his love.

><><><><

There was a story Chanyeol told him once, before they got married, about a rainbow bridge that stood as the entrance to heaven. According to Chanyeol’s words, after you crossed the long rainbow, you would reach a vast field of grass and every single pet you owned in your life would welcome you.

Baekhyun was surprised to see that it was much like his husband once described it...but much more magical and beautiful.

He strode down the long colorful bridge, taking in the beautiful blue of the sky above him as the cleanest breeze ran around him. He didn’t have to look in a mirror to realize that he looked much like in his younger days. It made him giddy to think that he probably looked youthful again.

There was a peace that had taken over his body as he strolled along. He felt guilty for having left his children so early, but he knew they would be okay without him. His time on Earth had come to an end, as it did for everyone else at some point.

The more he walked, the closer he got to seeing the beautiful field Chanyeol had mentioned before, filled with flowers of all colors, shapes and forms, while trees were scattered here and there.

Baekhyun didn’t really know what -or who- would be waiting for him when he arrived, and the anticipation prompted him to walk faster.

As soon as he stepped foot on the grass field, a Corgi came running towards him and jumped into his arms.

“Mongryong,” he exclaimed as he giggled, glad to see the dog he’d owned back in university welcome him.

Soon, Toben -Chanyeol’s dog back when they started dating- ran towards him too and Baekhyun sat down to play with them. They jumped all around him, licking his face and barking in excitement at seeing him after so long.

“I thought it would take you longer to come,” he heard that deep voice he’d been yearning to hear once again say.

Immediately, Baekhyun stood up as his eyes met his husband’s, who looked just like he did the day they met. His black hair was healthy and shiny, his big eyes were filled with love and joy and his skin looked rejuvenated, not a single trace of wrinkles on it.

Breathless, Baekhyun ran towards him and jumped into his arms, relaxing as soon as Chanyeol’s very characteristic smell hit his nose. It was all too much, the feeling of finally being back home hitting him like a ton of bricks. He really couldn’t stop the tears from falling, not when the situation was so surreal and overwhelming.

“Hey Love, I missed you too,” murmured Chanyeol as he planted a soft kiss on Baekhyun’s forehead before he embraced him tightly.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t keep my promise. I said I would be okay without you, but I missed you too much. It hurt,” murmured Baekhyun as he met Chanyeol’s eyes with his own.

Smiling down at him brightly, Chanyeol wiped away his tears. “It’s okay, I understand. What matters is that you are here with me now.”

Grinning up at his husband, Baekhyun sighed as he took a moment to study Chanyeol’s features properly. Yes, he /really/ was there with him, in his arms. They were finally together again.

“I love you,” said Baekhyun as he puckered his lips.

Getting the hint, Chanyeol leaned down and kissed his lips softly, lingering for a moment. “I love you too.”

And with that they walked through the field together, hand in hand, their pets following along, as they spoke of the past, of the memories they shared and the lessons they learned. They expressed how proud they were of their children and of how they would look after them.

And just like that, they spent the rest of eternity together, in love, creating new memories, learning new lessons, and just being /happy/ together

… somewhere over the rainbow.