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Neverland

Chapter Text

I.

 

'Here Hyunnie, this one is for you!'

The friendly tone and the glass filled with an amber-coloured drink shake Baekhyun out of his daydream.

'What is it?' The boy enquires while accepting the glass.

'Apple juice. It's not that easy to find non-alcoholic drinks in this kind of event, I had to pretend it was for General Lee's pregnant wife.' The other teases.

'Thank you hyung.' He acknowledges with a stiff smile, before sighing, his eyes on the assembly. 'It seems there is not a lot of people of my age.'

'Well, not every teen in the town is invited to the celebration of a minister's appointment. Abeoji must be insanely proud of you, baby bro.'

'You think so?' The teen wants to tame the sparkle in his eyes and the hope in his voice, but the mere thought of his father feeling something akin to pride towards him is exhilarating.

'Of course! Why else would he have brought you in such an official event?'

Because Umma did not want to leave me alone at home so he had no other choice but to let me tag along, the younger mutters in his head.

'Hey,' Baekbeom nudges him, as if sensing his doubts 'you always get the best marks at school, even last month you won second place to this big national writing competition. You're amazing Hyunnie, don't you dare think otherwise.'

 

Byun Baekhyun basks in the comfortable silence he can only share with his older brother, while his eyes wander around the large room. As usual he is surrounded by nothing but sophistication and wealth: crystal chandeliers, fine wines, gold decorations and cocktail dresses. Somehow he is grateful his parents have less frivolous tastes. This thought is enough to summon the man they were talking about earlier.

They both took after their mother's soothing features, dropping eyes and plump cheeks. Their father is full of sharp angles, not even his glasses are round. One of his aunt once said he inherited his rectangular smile from his father, but the teen is not sure when he last saw his father smile.

By his side stands another man which bears the aura of someone who is used to due respect and attention.

'What are you two doing, hiding in a corner? Let me introduce you to the Minister of Justice. Minister Min, here are my son Baekbeom and his younger brother. Baekbeom is currently attending Seoul National University Law School.'

'Oh well there is no better school to study Law, isn't it? Young man do you aim of being a lawyer, a prosecutor? …'

Baekhyun does not hear much of the rest of the conversation, his mind only repeating over and over the same sentence.

Not 'my sons'. Not 'my eldest son and youngest son' either. Just 'my son and his brother'. What am I, who am I to you? He has nowhere to express his anger, trapped in this room full of people far more relevant than he is, the burn of humiliation fades to move on to a sheer feeling of dejection. When will I cease to disappoint you, Byun Haebom...

 

 

The ring of his alarm startles him. Baekhyun sits up straight on his bed, fresh beads of sweat rolling down his forehead. He is not fourteen anymore, he does not live under his father's roof anymore. He does not have to suffer indifference and disdain anymore. This is both reassuring and constricting, the fact that he can still dream about it seven years later, and remember the scene so vividly...

But right now is not the time to linger on the past, he decides after checking the hour. He has classes to attend to, and a mock exam this afternoon. As if he had a sixth sense for this sort of thing, his phone vibrates to signal a new text and Baekhyun does not even need to check who it is to know.

 

From: Dae [8:01 AM]

Get up asshole, you have notes to give me for theory of state. See ya at the cafe in 20

 

This has the merit of making him crack a smile. He leaves behind him the sheets wet with bad dreams and walks resolutely to his wardrobe. His fingers brush against wool, silk and cashmere. He throws a longing glance to his fancy suits and classy shirts, but this is not something for daytime. Tonight he is going out, it's settled. For now he will do with classic graphic t-shirts and large sweaters.

 

 

If you asked about Byun Baekhyun to the other students of his year group, they would answer that he is quite the average guy, not the head of the class but still a brilliant element as for no-one studying their forth year of Political Science in Seoul National University could be consider as a dummy. He was rather loud and merry, always accompanied by his two sidekicks: the composed Kim Minseok, and the facetious Kim Jongdae.

He did not talk much about personal stuff but he seemed to have a classic background. Overall he blended in with the crowd, and was perceived as a typical student, no more no less.

Nobody would think to associate him with Byun Haebom, the Principal Private Secretary of the Prime Minister, the former South Korean ambassador to China where Baekhyun lived all his childhood. An illustrious shadowy figure that students, even majoring in Political Science, did not know about to the great relief of his youngest son. He assumes most of his professors know, but fortunately they never address the subject with him. Thus he can live quietly his student life, not trying to stand out by using his money and family fame.

 

 

'About time!' Jongdae exclaims as he enters their usual cafe.

'No one asked you to skip the last two classes of Theory...' Baekhyun replies lazily, taking his time to sit down. That does not prevent the other from snatching his bag in order to search for the precious notes. 'Excuse you, I had urgent matter at hand!'

'I would hardly call “taking care of Kim Chungha's sexual needs” an emergency.' The third one takes part.

'Not you too Min! Two years that I was waiting for it, Theory could wait.' 'Yeah, we all know you prefer practice anyway!' Baekhyun snorts.

They fall in a comfortable shallow conversation and light banter.

 

Somehow Baekhyun is glad Jongdae came to him on their first day of college, later introducing him to his long time best friend Minseok. They help him to keep his feet firmly on the ground of the real life, far from schemes, state secrets and society dinners. With them he learnt the simple pleasures of sharing cans of beer, of going to the cinema late at night where there is only the three of them being as loud as they wish, of just being silly and himself without a care.

 

 

'I hate Theory of State...' Jongdae groans as they exit the room.

'Well, nine pages to learn in seven hours you were looking for trouble, dude.' Baekhyun replies without an ounce of compassion. He aced that exam and he will not let his friend spoil his mood. 'You always pull that shit and you still manage to get good grades, so quit the dramaqueen act already!' Minseok adds.

'Yeah, I know I'm that good, but we're talking about Satan herself. Pr Jung hates my guts! Even if I managed to answer most of the questions, it would choke her to give me more than a fifty-five percent...' The student mumbles.

His old friend locks his head into a tight embrace, exerting an offended scream out of him. 'Aren't you in a victimisation mood, Dae?'

After walking for a few meters in this uncomfortable position and gathering some suspicious looks from other students, the younger speaks up again. 'You know what, we should definitely go out tonight, clear our minds a bit. Byun, you're in?'

The said man sweeps nonchalantely the crowd with his eyes, taking in the bright weather of April, the shy sun warming their faces and the casual laughters of the people around them. 'Sorry I already planned something.'

His friends sigh in unison, they are only too used to this answer. 'Seriously, ditching us for a game night again? You nerd!'

If you knew my dear Jondgae, if you knew, Baekhyun smirks to himself.

 

 

A few hours after the shadows engulfed the capital, he finds himself in front of Exodus, one of the most high ranked club of the city. There were two rules to enter the building: to wear for more than six millions wons and to be introduced by a customer. Baekhyun could never thank enough his old family friend for recommending him, he spent in this club some of his best nights.

Tonight he went for audacity: he was only wearing his silver watch Chopard, black loafers and a suit of a deep purple shade under which his glistening skin was glorioulsy displayed. He styled his chestnut hair up, put on eyeshadows matching his suit and a thin line of eyeliner. If Jongdae ever sees him like that, he will choke for sure.

 

He passes by the bouncer of the entrance, nodding in his direction. The other nods back, his goggling barely visible, but still there for Baekhyun to notice with a grin. He is not here to play, he is here to win. After all, Baekhyun has a deadly reputation to hold in there.

As soon as the doorman opens the doors for him, he feels at home. A home in which he is neither the disappointing son of a rich man nor the average student enjoying a simple life. He is a man yearned for, the incarnation of sin and pleasure. The booming music and smell of tasteful cigars oddly comfort him. He gazes over the club, before making a beeline for the bar.

 

'Hi there Baekhyun, I guess it's your weekly visit?' One of the barista welcomes him.

With his sharp eyes and towering figure Baekhyun mistook him for a snake the first time they met. Later, he realised the blonde guy was rather a friendly panda.

'Hi Tao. Is Yixing here?' The shorter asks over the loud beat. 'Well, I didn't see him yet tonight. Why not text him?'

He does not have to order anything, as soon as he saw him the barista prepared his usual glass of bourbon.

'Don't have his number.' Baekhyun replies lazily after sipping his drink. The other makes an incredulous face.

'Huh? But I've seen you guys hooking up for over a year now!'

 

Baekhyun scans the dancefloor, the booths, the bar, everything. From this particular stool he can size up the whole first floor of the club. And nowhere is he seeing the face he is looking for. If the chinese guy is not here, he is either at the second floor or somewhere else in the city. In the first case it means he is discussing business where the ambiance is more fitting to serious exchanges and that he does not want to be bothered, and if it is in the second case, well it is his loss.

 

'We have a strictly from-club-to-bedsheet relationship, nothing more. Well, since he's not there I'll have to settle for someone else tonight.' He punctuates, hopping off his stool.

'Good chase! Be merciful.' Tao jokes, waving him off. The brown-haired man throws a predatory smile over his shoulder.

 

'Oh dear, you know I won't be.'

 

 

He knows he is playing with fire, but somehow he does not care. He grips his hands on a firm waist all the same. No sensual curves, no fruity perfume, no silky skin. He goes for muscles and hard, flat chests. Around him a couple of women are locked into a heavy french kiss, and men are rubbing against each others.

This club is notorious for allowing all kinds of mores, and being photographed entering the building could be fatal to a lot of people. Baekhyun is aware it is dangerous, being the son of such a notouriously incorruptible man, and for his own future career in the political field. Someone with bad intentions could threaten him, bribe him even. But nothing will prevent him from living his well-deserved youth, as he grins into the ear of his dance partner, and whispers,

'Why don't we take this elsewhere?'

 

 

Fuck fuck, how could it be this late? He thinks dressing up as fast as he can. He still has to make a stop at his flat to change and take his stuffs for the day. Fuck!

This is why it is so comfortable to fool around with Yixing. They know nothing about each other, except their first name and what they do of their lives. The chinese music producer is considerate enough to think about the little details. The hotel they go in is not far from Baekhyun's flat, the breakfast is always ordered before he wakes up, and he always drops Baekhyun to his apartement block, never asking why he lives in such a humble neighbourhood while he can afford luxurious clothes.

Moreover, he is the perfect lover. He knows when to be pliant under Baekhyun's ministrations, how to surrender like an offering. And when he is the one in charge, he delivers the hip trusts of a professional dancer, always knowing how to make him feel good and adored.

Sometimes Baekhyun dreams about 'what ifs'. What if they decided not to favour their professional lives anymore, what if they were ready to commit? Would the two of them be happy together?

But the time is not fit for daydreaming, he escapes the hotel room without a glance to the lump on the bed, praying not to be late for class. Furthermore, it is a optional class that neither Minseok nor Jongdae chose, he cannot rely on anyone to take notes for him.

 

 

All in all, he leaps on the classroom at the same time as the professor, who glares at him. His hair is all over the place and he is pretty sure he looks like a hobbo right now, but at least he is here on time.

Of course it is too good to be true, his usual seat is taken and he has no other choice but to sit at the last available place: second row just behind the gigantic nerd of the class. Baekhyun never undestood why he sits so close to the board when he is taller than the rest of the class. For the time being he is condemned to have no visibility of the board whatsoever. At least it obliges him to pay closer attention to what the professor says.

Eventually, the big head is not as annoying as he anticipated. Its sticking ears are rather entertaining, and the nerdy boy seems to feel obliged to bend over the table in such a drastic manner that Baekhyun has a clear view of the board. Without even seeing his face, the furious scribbling gives away his frown and attentive stance. A chuckle escapes Baekhyun's mouth. This day does not begin so badly after all.

 

 

 

'HAPPY BRITHDAY DUMBASS!'

Damn, that is precisely why he should never accept to sleep at Jongdae's when he knows this kind of

 

shit happens.

'Shut up,' he groans, the head deeply buried in his pillow. 'It's like, four in the morning or something. My birthday is not so important that it must cut my sleep.'

'You ungrateful brat, to think that I was planning to prepare you a birthday-breakfast!' His friend whines.

Minseok's voice booms from the other side of the room, 'Go to sleep Kim Jongdae or I swear I'll chop your dick! Being twenty-two isn't a big deal anyway, let's just celebrate over lunch.'

'Why only lunch? We could go out tonight!'

'You know I always spend my birthday with Hyung, Dae.' Baekhyun reminds him with a tired voice. Then, he tries to pat the younger's cheek, but apparently he misses his target in the dark, if Jondae's yelp is any clue. 'Though it's kinda sweet of you Jongdae-yah, I appreciate your dedication, truly.'

The other mutters something, jumps on his bed and that's it. He is back to sleep already, when Baekhyun knows it will take him some time. So to busy himself he switches on his phone, full of notifications and birthday messages. Baekbeom's and his mother's greetings bring a smile to his lips, when his attention is caught by something else.

 

From: Junmyeon hyung [1:17 AM]

Hello Baekhyun, I wish u a very happy birthday! Can I join u and Baekbeom tonight? I want to give u smth

 

Junmyeon was a bit like a fairy Godfather to him. Or rather, a kinky Godfather. He was the one who introduced him to Exodus, and to encourage the debauched aspects of his life. Their mothers were long time friends and he grew up with him by his side. Only older by a few years, he was both a second brother to him and his most reliable friend.

But the business man was very busy, he was both surprised and flattered Junmyeon wanted to meet him. He hastens to accept the request and to inform Baekbeom along with his thanks. It is going to be a good evening.

 

 

It seems weird sometimes, this feeling of belonging to two differents worlds. A few hours earlier he was celebrating his birthday with his friends in a pojangmacha, unsteady candles stuck on greasy dak-kkochi and surrounded by noises.

Now he is sipping red wine over a four stars meal, with a band of jazz as background music. The three men make the most of their reunion, after all the last time they caught up was months ago. When Baekbeom leaves to the toilets, Junmyeon finally comes closer to Baekhyun. He casts a glance over his shoulder and begins to talk in a hush tone, 'So, I think that by now you experienced everything you could experience at Exodus, therefore I wanted to submit a new recommendation to you.'

The older man slides a business card to the student. The card is nicely done, without embellishment just arabesques framing a name and an adress.

'Elyxion,' he reads aloud. 'What is it, another club?'

'Not quite, rather a place where you can enjoy the company of charming people, in a great location, in exchange of money. Usually there is only women in this kind of... Establishment. But at Elyxion there is a male staff and they're really alluring, so I thought of you.'

Baekhyun is taken aback for a moment until things start to add up.

'A brothel?!' Baekhyun whisper-shouts, furious. 'For fuck's sake hyung you're trying to send me to prostitutes?'

'Relax Baek, don't be so judgmental! I don't tell you to pay to fuck a dude, so loosen up. I personally always stay in the lounge, where people gather to flirt and to watch the whores doing shows, without sexual intercourse. But really, some prostitutes are fun to talk to, the atmosphere is nice and entertaining.'

Baekhyun is stubbornly facing the opposite of his friend, arm crossed and frowning. He watches the waiters going back and forth in the restaurant, trying to block whatever Junmyeon is saying.

'Come on Hyunnie! I'll never force you to go there but I think you should. It is an establishment as respectable as it could be, I promise nothing bad will happen to you. There are truly hidden gems in there, people so beautiful I didn't know they could exist... Honestly some of the guys are so hot it made me question my sexuality, so for you it would be feast! Your eyes and right hand would be grateful to me forever...'

The birthday boy buries his face in his hand, beyond embarrassed.

'Please hyung, never make a correlation between you and my right hand ever again...' The other laughs heartily.

'Alright alright, not another word. But think about it.'

'Think about what?' Beakbeom asks while sitting down, back from the toilets.

'About an internship with someone Junmyeon hyung knows.' Baekhyun answers quickly hidding the card in what he hopes is a subtle move.

'You know our little Hyunnie, Beom. He wants to do everything by himself!' Junmyeon exchanges a conniving smile with the older brother.

'Stubborn as ever!' Baekbeom punctuates, affectionately ruffling the hair of his outraged little brother.

 

 

Baekhyun never suspected a piece of paper could weight so much. For the past week he had the impression to carry a pound of lead in his pocket.

It obsesses him wherever he is: in class, with his friends, or alone at home. Should he tear the card in two and forget about it, or should he actually go, just for the fun, just for once?

Prostitutes. Whores. Tarts. Sluts. People selling their bodies for money. This is wrong in so many levels, to use his money to support people who were probably desperate, abandoned by the system, judged. This is not for nothing that this shit is illegal.

But Junmyeon said the establishment was respectable and respectful. Knowing him, Elyxion could never be a cheap motel with women suffering from STDs and assaulted by the most cruel form of life. His old friend knows him like the back of his hand, he never suggested something that unpleased Baekhyun.

And still. Laying down on his bed, Baekhyun suddenly shouts in his pillow.

He must acknowledge that the only way to get it out of his system is to drop by the brothel, quickly.

Do it for the fun, Byun Baek, he swears to himself.

 

 

He really went on a whim. He just jumped out of his bed and dolled himself up a bit, going for a turtleneck and a Valentino blazer, with a sutble eye make up. And there he is, outside on a Thursday at nine o'clock in an area he never went to before.

Baekhyun takes a double check at the address on the card Junmyeon gave him when he finds himself in the yard of a notorious lane of Itaewon. This is nothing like the older’s tastes. He thinks about continuing on his way, until a man dressed in a suit passes by, he brushes past him before throwing a questioning look over his shoulder, as if looking for a sign of recognition. He seems to find what he was looking for when he addresses a nod to the young man.

There is only a second of hesitation before he decides to follow the assured steps of the man, leading to a door of bricks hidden in the shadows. The man does not hesitate twice before crossing the threshold. A flash of sounds and lights crosses the sinister street. This is it. He still can retrace his steps. Junmyeon’s words come to his mind. Something he never experienced before... Hidden gems... Eventually his curiosity wins over his doubts. He takes a last deep breath and seizes the doorknob.

 

The inside seems old fashioned, but still very classy. Bursts of laughters are coming from thick curtains of a deep crimson, and the subdued lights coming from the chandeliers gives the impression of being in an occidental brothel at the end of the nineteenth century.

 

He sees the other man addressing the receptionist, 'I'm here for Joy.'

'Alright Sunwoo-nim, she is waiting for you. Ren will take you there.' The man punctuates while pressing a button. Seconds after, someone crosses the curtains. They are terribly attractive, like an androgynous angel, dressed in a sensual tunic which lets show their collar bones. The person gestures the man to follow them towards the stairs.

'Enjoy your night, Sir.' the receptionist concludes, before facing Baekhyun. ‘Good evening Sir, welcome to Elyxion. My name is Woozi, how can we help you tonight?’ Up close the man is actually really tiny. His baby boy face does not really match the place they are in.

‘Hello. Huh actually it is my first time here, my first time in this sort of place full stop. So I don’t really know the codes or what is expected from me.’ Baekhyun admits shyly, scratching his head. ‘Well it is quite simple,' the petite receptionist beams. 'Since we provide you high quality source of entertainment, we expect from you to enjoy your stay with the members of our staff. Your can either share the company of our colleagues in the lounge, or to require more private services, exclusive or plural, the whole in exchange of some financial support.’

Baekhyun can only dumbly nod his head.

‘Let’s end the boring part by stating it right from the start. We highly value the health of our colleagues, so the number one rule is to not harm our employees, violence is strictly forbidden, or else our Mingyu here will promptly escort you to the exit and you will be definitely banned from this establishment’

 

The Mingyu in question turns out to be a very tall and serious-looking bodyguard that Baekhyun did not notice at all, draped in the shadows and posted at the entrance. The guard throws him a both impassible and wicked look. Well, if Baekhyun had any intention to mess with the security, it is over now.

 

‘Each employee has different level of tolerance and personal tastes that we record here, so you are informed if your choice allows BDSM or not for instance.’ Woozi continues calmly, as if he did not implicitly threatened him moments earlier. ‘May I ask what your preferences are, Sir? Female, male, threesome? Blondee, brunette? Here is the catalogue of our employees. You are lucky this is not our busiest night, so there are some people still available.'

The receptionist blabbers, seizing a book and showing it to the other man. He first points to an etheral creature, looking quite like the reincarnation of Snow White.

'You have for instance the delicious Irene, our ice princess of an unrivalled beauty. She is fond of bondage of all sorts, but generally at the end you'll be the one tied down. Or here is the licentious Hyolyn whose curves will send you to another universe...' he continues showing the suggestive portrait of a golden goddess.

Baekhyun feels obliged to cut him. He begins to feel a bit ill at ease, he cannot say to the dude that he cannot imagine paying for sex.

‘I’m more into guys actually...‘

'Then you came to the right place, our boys are all amazing! If you enjoy flexibility and a grace beyond compare, we have two amazing dancers who are not booked for now, let me lead you to the lounge, Taemin and Kai must be entertaining the other guests.’

 

The receptionist passes by him and opens the curtains, inviting him to follow him. As he passes the barrier of fabric, he enters in another world once again. Leaving behind the occidentalism of the 1880s, he is now in a luxurious harem, filled with incense and oriental rugs. Customers and prostitutes are lasciviously lying on sofas, their eyes directed in the same direction and bearing a look of fascination. It is at this moment that Baekhyun notices the two dancers on the stage.

They both look strangely alike, not quite like twins but they share an undeniable similarity. Or perhaps it is the way they move, as if they did it together all their lives. As if they were the same body.

One of them had a porcelain skin, silver hair and was wearing a sparkling white outfit. The second one was dressed the same way, only his outfit was golden. His skin was of a deep chocolate shade, just like his hair was brown.

The first one was the Moon and the second one the Sun.

Baekhyun does not know what captivates him the most: their features sculpted on the model of Greek Gods or the hypnotising dance they were doing. Indeed, Woozi was not wrong to talk about 'a grace beyond compare', all of their moves seem both millimetric and so free. The moving bodies were telling the story of the Earth and the Sky, of love and hate, of hope and despair. It is fortunate that their act was ending, because Baekhyun did not notice he had stopped breathing.

 

‘Impressive isn't it? I never get tired of it...' The forgotten receptionist speaks up. 'Oh my, I didn't remember he was free at this hour.' He mutters, as some commotion shakes the room out of its torpor. 'You are especially lucky Sir, our number one prostitute is available for the next hour! Here he is, our jewel: Pan.’

And once again in a matter of a few minutes Baekhyun is left breathless. The creature who entered the room is nothing short of gorgeous.

He is tall, taller than the other males in the room. His skin is of radiant light tan, shining under the chandelier. His permed dark hair gives him a juvenile look, along with large ears sticking out like an elf. He has large brown eyes deepened with a dramatic eyeliner, a proud nose and lips of a blood- red shade. There is on his face an expression of reserve, but the dimple caused by his shy smile promises an ocean of wonders. How can someone look both so pure and seductive, Baekhyun wonders. How can someone so big seem so delicate?

Baekhyun's eyes begin to roam over the male's body, and his head is suddenly spinning. The prostitute is wearing nothing more than a suspender belt and underwear in black lace, the whole covered with a silk négligé. Defined abs, muscular thighs and arms, the Adonis seems carved from marble. His body proportions might be less perfect than the dancers', less gracious, but the mere contrast between his baby face and hard body was enough to create desire. At that moment, Baekhyun wants nothing more than to delicately remove the suspender belt from his long legs and to cherish them along the way. His ass is a bit flat but Baekhyun swears a butt never seemed so enticing.

The hair and sticking ears reminds him of someone though, but Baekhyun is too lost in a cloud of lust to think it through.

 

Not looking away from the prostitute who is now chatting with customers, Baekhyun clears his throat and asks with a voice a bit strangled, ‘Why the name Pan?’

‘Because of his youthful features and mouth full of pearly teeth, he is our Peter Pan.' Woozi answers easily. Then adds lowers his voice to add with a less formal tone, 'And well, he says it's to display his pansexuality.’

 

At this moment, a shadow comes between the two of them, 'Good evening, Sir. Woozi-yah my dear, you can go back to the reception desk, I'll take care of mister.'

'Certainly! I hope that I will see you again soon, Sir. I'm available to answer all your questions.' The receptionist bows before leaving the room.

The newcomer is a bit taller than him, dressed in refined clothes. His features do not betray his age, with a face so smooth he could be twenty-five like he could be forty.

'It is a pleasure to meet you, I'm Yesung, the owner of Elyxion.' the other bows, salute that the brown-haired man hastens to mimic.

 

'Nice to meet you too, I'm…' Baekhyun hesitates.

'You don't have to give me your real name if you don't want to. Yesung is not my real name either.' the man politely smiles. He does not know why but he feels oddly at ease with the man. That's why he answers, 'I'm a friend of Suho, my name is Hyun.'

'You're friend with Suho-nim? Well in that case it is really a pleasure indeed. We highly appreciate decent men with respectful manners like your friend.'

'Indeed Ju– Suho is nothing but a gentleman.' Baekhyun smiles.

After a short gap, the owner asks, 'Have you made your choice for the night, Sir?' 'I'm a bit intimidated. For a first time I think I'll just stay in the lounge.'

Until now the young man was pretty sure it would be a one time visit, but after witnessing the beauties of the establishment he thinks he would not mind coming back.

'As you wish Sir. Have a pleasant evening. If you change your mind you know where to find our receptionist.'

'Good evening Yesung-nim.'

Before leaving the room the owner calmly calls out his star.

'Pan my boy, please come with me for two minutes, I'd like to talk to you.'

The prostitute raises his head towards Yesung, and doing so he ends up locking gaze with Baekhyun.

It is probably the most intense eye contact Baekhyun ever had. The second the round eyes get tangled in his, a flow of emotions crosses them: surprise, panic, fear and most of all... Recognition. If Baekhyun did not recognise the other, the taller was faster to put a name on his face. The prostitute averts his eyes immediately, trailing the owner of the establishment in quick steps, the head lowered under the disappointed sighs of the audience.

It all comes to Baekhyun's mind: the tall figure, the permed hair, the ears...

 

The nerd of his sociology class. The tall one who always sits in the front row.

 

Certainly the last person he would have imagined as a sex worker! It's just crazy... Other thoughts assail him: he must think I'm some perv, going to a brothel like that! But he might also suspect I'm wealthy, this is not a cheap establishment affordable to students... At least he had the certainty the guy will not tell anyone, he had much more to lose.

 

The weight of such revelations makes him feel dizzy. With a long sigh he lets himself fall on the nearest sofa. He is not left alone for long though, after a few seconds a voice rings at his left, 'Hi sweetheart, it's your first time here isn't it?' A woman asks him.

She is very skinny, with a diaphanous complexion and long dark hair. Her eyes are clear and decided. No doubt, she does not possess the same ingenuousness as Pan, she has the look of someone who knows exactly what she is doing.

'Don't listen to the old hag darling, she's just looking for young flesh.' Another woman says, sitting at Baekhyun's right. A banter begins between the prostitutes.

'What are you talking about, I'm not a day over twenty-eight!' The first woman pretends to be outraged. With a second look Baekhyun notices that she indeed has fine lines around her eyes. 'More like three thousands days over it!' The brunette mocks. She is not extraordinarily beautiful, but she emanates such self-confidence and sensuality that you could not prevent from being charmed.

'I'm surprised you know how to count Hyuna...' The older one does not match the ardour of the brunette. The latter bends over Baekhyun in a daring move and whispers in his ear, 'Careful, she might want to suck the youth out of you...'

'I don't think he'd rather go upstairs with a snake like you. Careful Hyuna, you're turning green already.' The prostitute states nonchalantely.

Baekhyun resolves to interrupt their exchange, 'Well, you're very attractive, and I'm flattered… But pardon me I'm rather into men.'

The brunette named Hyuna fixes him for an instant before whining to her co-worker, 'Sunmi-unnie, really! You let me fight over a customer whom you knew he was gay!'

'If you were more observant Hyuna you'd have noticed how awestruck he was when Pan entered the room.' The woman named Sunmi smiles warmly.

'Not fair, after all even straight men are attracted to him.' Hyuna huffs.

A third brunette wearing a pink babydoll sits next to them. She seems troubled and bites her long manucured nails.

'What's wrong with Tiffany?' Sunmi asks with concern.

'She's waiting for her CEO.' Hyuna answers, before sassily adding, 'Not here already? Are you being stood up Tiff?'

The brunette comes back down to earth and snaps, 'Shut up, Yesung knows I'm booked all night every Mondays and Thursdays, he cannot make me go with someone else. Surely the traffic...'

At this point, Baekhyun is pretty sure he is considered as one of the girls. He witnesses the conversation comfortably sat between them, as if he knew them personally, as if he were a part of their circle. He is even wondering whether he is supposed to say something to comfort the said Tiffany, when the latter jumps on her heels.

'Taeyeon-ssi!'

The brunette falls in the arms of a short... Woman. The blonde is absolutely stunning, with the delicate face of a doll and a suit flattering her silhouette. Baekhyun never heard of it before, a woman being a customer in a brothel. In any case the prostitute seems overjoyed, and the other woman looks back at her with nothing but adoration. She pats the prostitute, her finger scrapping the other's scalp.

'Sorry Tiff, negociations took more time than usual. Did you wait for long?'

'I knew you'll come ultimately. I'd wait for you all night if I had to.' Tiffany answers sweetly. Then the two women leave the room, walking to the stairs.

Sunmi sighs, following them with a concerned gaze. She mutters to herself, 'I'll have to talk to her, she's getting too attached.'

 

'So! Mr Customer, what are you doing with us if you're interested in the people from the other side of the room?' Hyuna asks, facing him again.

'Well, I didn't know this side of the room was reserved to straight people!' Baekhyun weakly protests. He feels so dumb, not knowing how to act.

Sunmi bursts out laughing, 'It isn't darling, not at all, it's just us who jumped on you! And now the boys probably think you're into us since you didn't go to them.'

Baekhyun shyly smiles as the girls chuckle.

'In fact,' he continues 'do you mind keeping me company for a bit? I'd rather embarrass myself in front you than in front of someone I'd like to charm.'

'Oh darling!' Hyuna exclaims, cupping his cheeks like a mother to her child. 'You're so adorable! So what, do you want us to spill tea on the dudes for you to decide the one you'll fuck later? Why not, my next customer is for eleven!'

'I bet you want information on Pan, don't you?' Sunmi adds with a knowing smile. 'You know about his form already?'

'His... form?' Once again Baekhyun feels ridiculous under the round eyes of the two women. 'Woozi certainly told you about the descriptive forms for each sluts, didn't he?'

 

He slightly winces. It is a thing to hear that term from someone lambda, it is another to hear it from the woman herself. She had probably been called that name hundreds times, and she is saying it now with such a detached tone. He wonders if she feels the same detachment about her job.

 

'Oh well, he briefly showed me Irene's and Hyolyn's but that's all.' 'The small bastard, I knew he played favourite!' Hyuna mumbles.

'You're lucky boy, we know more than those forms anyway!' Sunmi chirps.

 

She leans on him and whispers, her eyes on the men a few meters away from them, 'Have you seen the dancers earlier?'

He nods, trying to subtly watch them. Pan is back in the room, sticking close to the said dancers. Baekhyun might imagine things, but he gets the impression that the prostitute seems slighlty nervous. In any case he is turning his back to the student. He does not mind, it gives him a better view on his ass.

'The one with white hair is Taemin and the other is Kai. The androgynous one leaving the room with that old man is Ren. There are also Ten and Jay, but they're with customers right now. Pan is the oldest male slut, the leader of the Lost Boys sort of, and Ten is the youngest. All of them are legal though.' She winks jokingly.

 

'So about Pan, he is to say the least... Versatile. Pan is a switch, he doesn't care.'

'With his beefy charms and build he can take care of all your needs, but he'll moan like a bitch if you want him to.' Hyuna whispers to his other ear.

It is like a lullaby, the sensual and hypnotic murmurs surrounding him. His gaze pierces the man's back.

'He accepts pretty much everything except hardcore BDSM. He has a soft spot for furries, so if you're into that as well he'll turn either into the softest cat or the horniest bunny.'

'Pan likes to dress prettily, so don't refrain from asking for roleplay and cross-dressing, he has such nice dresses.'

'Treat him like trash, he'll gracefully surrender. Spoil him he'll purr under your hand.' 'Oh you should see him wearing only pearls and stockings.'

The smell of incense makes his head spin, it's infectious. He can see it unfold under his eyes, the materialisation of his fantasies. He wants it so bad, the hot breath on his cheek should not be Sunmi's. His fingers are itching.

'Hard chest and callous fingers, but a skin oh so smooth.'

Pan is now seated on some man's lap. The dude looks so full of himself to have the gorgeous prostitute all to himself, rubbing his disgusting chubby hand on Pan's bare legs. He says something and Pan bursts into a boisterous and graceless laugh. It should be awkward, but the client looks at him with enamoured eyes.

'How an innocent looking and gangly giant can be the number one prostitute in a brothel containing such fine specimens?'

'People queuing to get to spend a mere hour with him, what has he that is so special?' 'The kid is lucky we like him, he is a dangerous client-stealer...'

'Once you taste his skin, they say you cannot shake his flavour out of your mind.'

The prostitute excuses himself and get out of the client's lap. After the plump man lands a slap on his ass that makes Baekhyun's blood boil, Pan leaves the room, his negligé floating behind him.

'He must get ready for his next client...'

'Mr Kang is so wealthy and generous! I bet he'll leave whip's marks on Pan's skin again, especially if Pan wears the bondage stuffs Mr Kang bought for him. I remember when he was my client, he is a bit rough but very doting on aftercare. He makes us scream of pleasure so loudly...'

That's more than enough.

'Excuse me.' Baekhyun mumbles, promptly standing up.

There is something heavy on his chest. It is sweat on his own forehead?

A mere second after he is at Woozi's desk. He throws banknotes on it without even looking.

'Here is for tonight, name the bill “Hyun”. I'd like to book an hour with Pan.' He says with a laboured breath.

He nervously taps his fingers on the wood.

The receptionist seizes a file, 'Well, he is not available until... In four days, at ten o'clock. Is it ok with you?' Woozi asks, his pen hovering the piece of paper.

'Monday night? I'll be there.'

Baekhyun rushes outside. The fresh air suffocates him, filling his lungs and head with a rationality he lacked for the past minutes. What has he done? Booking a prostitute was certainly not part of the plan! He feels like throwing up. He walks away as fast as possible. Not only had he booked a prostitute, but it had to be one of his classmate! For God's sake, what are you doing Byun Baekhyun?! He admonishes himself.

A nervous and strangled laugh escapes him. One of the passerby throws him a surprised glance.

Kim Junmyeon, I hold you responsible for this crazy one.

 

 

'… Baekhyun? Baekhyun!'

Fingers snap in front of his eyes, waking him up from his daydream. 'What?' He curtly answers.

His friends look at him over the table, a bit worried.

'Are you sure you're okay Baek?' Minseok asks. 'You've acted edgy all day. Is there something on your mind?'

'Everything's fine guys, don't worry.' He refutes with a stiff smile. 'Well, that doesn't sound convincing!' Jongdae frowns.

'Fine,' Baekhyun sighs, looking for a believable lie. 'It's just an assignment in my sociology class that I don't really understand, I'll get through it.'

Minseok hums, 'Hey, if you want I think we know someone from your class! Park Chanyeol, remember him Dae? He was in high school with us, I think I saw him leaving the room once when we waited for you at the end of your class. Quite a shy nerd, but very nice. If you ask him for help I'm sure he'll agree.'

Baekhyun pales at Minseok's words. The professor often calls his name to answer when no-one else finds the solution, but he forgot about it.

Park Chanyeol.

The infamous Pan. That is enough to write his name in flames in his mind.

The fact that they share the last class of the week made him sick all day long. He does not feel ready to face the student/prostitute so soon, but he must sort it out.

'Thanks Min, I'll think about it...'

'Wow, dude! You're beginning to freak me out, you look ill.' Jongdae's frown intensifies. 'Yeah Dae is right, you should just go home if you feel unwell!'

'It's okay guys, maybe I ate something expired. I'll just get some fresh air.' Baekhyun stands up.

He waves at his friends one last time before crossing the cafeteria. He needs to get out of here. God, he is so nervous...

He ends up finding refuge in the library where there is nothing but the noises of pages turning over and pens' screeching. He has an hour of break until his next period, and at least he did not lie about having an assignment.

He exhales a long breath and begins to work.

Focus more on your degree and less on your sex life Byun Baek. Do at least something right.

 

 

The library helped him a bit, but it would be a lie to pretend he was not a mess as he entered the room of his sociology class. As usual, Park Chanyeol was seated at the first row, resolutely fixing the board.

At least one of them seems unbothered. The tall student does not move an inch as Baekhyun enters the room, and the class unfolds as usual. Well, the only difference is that Baekhyun's eyes are rather on Park Chanyeol's nape than on the professor. With the instensity he fixes it, the permed guy should be minutes away from combusting, but he does not show whether he feels uncomfortable or not.

However he must have sensed something, since the second the class ends, Chanyeol bolts out of the room when he usually takes his time.

 

Baekhyun quietly curses. So many questions came to his mind since last night, he must see him up close, just once.

The brown-haired student rushes on Chanyeol's heels, half runing to match the taller's steps. 'Park Chanyeol, wait!'

The gangly dude freezes in the middle of the hallway. Baekhyun did not expect this result but he won't complain. When he is a mere meter away from the other student, the latter slowly turns his head towards him.

Baekhyun breathes deeply, trying to chase the nervousness away as he faces the tall student. It's the first time he sees him from so close so he takes his time contemplating him.

During daytime he seems so different from Pan, if not for the ears he might have never recognise him. His large brown eyes are no longer adorned with eyeliner but framed by thick glasses, his sculpted body is hidden by large hoodies, and his confident seducement is replaced by a sheer awkwardness. Shoulders hunched as if to disappear, eyes jolting nervously from one point to another but never on Baekhyun.

The brunette's heart squeezes in his chest. He does not want to afraid the giant puppy in front of him, he feels like such a bad guy right now.

'Hey...' He quietly breathes out.

The other does not answer, his eyes resolutely fixed on his own shoes.

'I just wanted to say... I won't tell a soul you know, for yesterday. Your secret is safe with me, I promise I'll never use it against you.'

After a span of seconds, Chanyeol nods.

'And huh, my name is Byun Baekhyun. I thought it would be only fair for you to know at least something about me since –'

'I know.' A deep but quiet voice cuts him off. Baekhyun blinks with confusion.

'Excuse me?'

'I already know your name.' Chanyeol repeats.

The student never really paid attention before, but this voice... Park Chanyeol is an amount of contradictions, he decides.

His baby face and behaviour do not match either his muscular body or his deep voice. Finally, the perm-haired boy shyly dares to meet his eyes. Just like the night before, Baekhyun loses himself in these big unsure orbs currently filled with hesitation, suspicion but also something akin to curiosity.

 

'Yeol!' An unknown voice shouts, efficiently breaking the moment.

The brunette jolts and spins around. Over his shoulder Baekhyun follows his look which lands on another tall man. Baekhyun wonders whether he always has this frown on his face or if it's because of the present situation he is witnessing.

He takes it as his clue to leave the kid alone. Baekhyun brushes past the male prostitute whispering, 'I've booked an hour with you on Monday. Thought you should know.'

He does not wait to see the other's reaction and scurries away. He passes by resting-bitch-face dude who looks at him with mistrust.

'Everything okay Yeol?'

It's the last thing he hears. The urge to run straight into a wall and to bury himself under a ton of garbage is overwhelming. He bets his face is as red as his favourite sweater.

Fuck fuck fuck. He swears inwardly. He spends far too much time regretting his choices those days.

 

 

The rest of the weekend goes uneventfully. Just Baekhyun trying to distract himself and failling miserably. He did everything he could think of: study, going out with Minseok and Jongdae, even going as far as to clean up his whole flat.

If you're so reluctant to go there it doesn't matter, just don't go the voice of reason resonates in his head.

 

The problem is that he was not reluctant per say. If anything he was way too eager, and that's what scares him. His moral and desire fighting each other so fiercely. For the past three nights he dreamt of Pan's body arching underneath him, surrendering to him so nicely. For the past three mornings he woke up with guilt twisting his guts and a leaking morning wood.

It is now Sunday evening and he is as lost as ever.

At least he is comforted by the fact they won't run into each other tomorrow, having no class in common on Mondays.

 

 

Eventually he goes for a stroll, and inevitably his feet lead him to a well-known place. The bouncer watches him walk in dumbfounded but not daring to stop him. He just entered Exodus in a plain hoodie and tracksuit, and somehow he does not care.

'Good evening, what can I... Wow! Baekhyun?' Tao exclaims, astonished. 'A glass of bourbon please Tao.' He orders wearily.

'You okay? What's with the couch potato outfit?' The barista frowns. 'Not really in the mood for anthying but a drink...'

The tall blonde leans his elbows on the counter, 'Want to talk about it?' 'Not really, thanks.' He sighs.

'And with me?' Someone takes the stool next to his.

Baekhyun would recognise this voice and its light accent anywhere. 'Hi Yixing.' He answers with a tired smile.

At this, Tao hands him his glass and goes busy himself at the other side of the bar.

'How are you Baekhyun? It's been a while.' Yixing leans on him a bit, his handsome face carrying a look of slight concern. As sweet and considerate as usual.

'Great as you can see!' Baekhyun retorts with an ounce of irony. 'Something unpleasant in your mind?' The chinese producer calmly asks.

'Well,' Baekhyun sighs again 'I only took an appointement with a prostitute that I know outside of his job.'

He barely hears a sound of acknowledgement. Yixing is unimpressed, to say the least. 'Who never went looking for hookers at least once?'

'But I don't want to be this kind of person!' Baekhyun indignantly exclaims. 'And yet, you still went.'

He has nothing to retort to that. Junmyeon's excuse “just for the fun” is laughable at this point. A comfortable silence sets in.

'The only advice I could give you is to be respectful and to not mingle personal feelings with what is a work for him. Keep it professional and everything will be alright, no need to be awkward about it.' Then after a short break, 'So I guess you're not in the mood to go to the hotel?'

The student shakes his head, a light smile on his lips. 'I'll pass for this time Xing, but thanks.'

 

 

'Good evening, Sir. If I'm not mistaken you're here to see Pan. Hyun-nim, right?' Baekhyun merely nods, not managing to match Woozi's bright smile.

He is long gone, the manizer, the playboy who can win any heart when he enters Exodus. He has got the unpleasant feeling of being a virgin before his first time. Except that in a few minutes he will not meet a teenager beset by acne in his childhood room, while the parents are out to the cinema. He will meet a gorgeous man nothing alike to unexperienced.

He tried his best, but wanting to stay simple. Jeans, a leather jacket over a white shirt and minimalist make up.

The receptionist presses a button and there is some movement behind the thick curtains. 'Sunmi will lead you to his room shortly.' Woozi continues to smile to him.

Another man goes down the stairs, his business over as it seems. He wonders if the just comes out

 

of the room he is going in.

'Good bye Mr Lee, we hope to see you again.' Woozi sends him off after the man silently paid.

 

Suddenly Baekhyun feels a pressure on his arm. He meets a familiar face, smiling brightly at him. 'Pretty boy, you came back! Hyuna and I were worried we scared you away.'

'Sorry for rushing out like that. I had.. eh things to do.' He apologises sheepishly. 'Sure you had.' She smirks knowingly. 'Now if you would like to follow me...'

Finally they take the stairs. From the stairs to the hallways, everything is covered in navy blue carpeting. Each door they pass by is decorated in a different way. The woman stops in front of one of them and half opens it, letting him take a look inside.

It's very soberly arranged, a traditional but elegant japanese bedroom.

'This one is mine, in case you don't find what you were looking for.' She winks playfully.

As she closes her door, another one opens. Baekhyun recognises the blonde woman from the other night, blowing a kiss to the person still inside before she closes the door. She wears a glowing smile on her face, which sobers up meeting Sunmi's eyes.

'Good night Taeyeon-nim. I guess we'll see you on Thursday.' Sunmi greets her, although it seems a bit fake.

'At least Tiffany will. Good night Sunmi-ssi.' The blonde woman responds, matching the polite but forced greeting.

She brushes past them and that's all. The prostitute addresses him another bright smile, trying to dissipate the awkward atmosphere.

Finally they stop in front of a carved wooden door. Trees and fairies orn the door.

'Here is Neverland, enjoy your night darling.' Sunmi cheers him on before retracing her steps, leaving him alone with his doubts.

 

He gathers his courage and softly knocks on the door. He waits for ten seconds and eventually crosses the treshold.

Immediately the lingering smell of sex enters his nostrils. The lights are softened, so it takes him a few seconds to accommodate his eyes. This room is fancier than Sunmi's: a huge canopy bed occupies most of the space, but he can also see a dressing table with various objects on it at his left. He does not linger over them, already sensing a blush creeping up his neck.

He hears a sound from the other side of the room and his gaze lands on a wooden screen. A movement, a hand, and he appears.

Baekhyun dreamt about it a dozen times but nothing prepared him for the view that greets him.

Pan stands there gloriously, leaning on the screen. The chest he caught a glimpse of last time is now hidden by a sumptuous burgundy corset, which outlines a narrow waist he is burning up to grip and which highlights the contrast with his strong arms. So manly and sexy at the same time. The student takes in Pan's hairless legs splendidly clothed with fishnets, a bit bowed but really they are the perfect shape to wrap around Baekhyun's bust. He truly is a treat for the eyes, and it becomes even more difficult to swallow. His breath is definitely taken when he meets the prostitute's smooky eyes. His look is even deeper and more seductive than last time, subtle glitters sprinkling his face and the rest of his body. The man in front of him exudes confidence, the total opposite of the sheepish pup he cornered in the hallways.

 

'Good evening, Hyun-ssi.' His mere voice triggers a chill along Baekhyun's spine. 'You wrote nothing when you booked this shift. So without any indication I chose something I liked.'

'Perfect, nothing against lingerie.' The shorter mumbles hurriedly. 'You... you're really pretty.'

Pan seems briefly surprised, but he smiles softly. Slowly he walks towards his client with a predatory aura. Baekhyun just has the time to blink before Pan grips his collar, arranging it neatly.

His delicate flowery scent is overwhelming and the more he leans on Baekhyun, the more the latter feels on the verge of passing out. The plump lips brush past his cheeks, whispering sensually in his ears, 'Did you bring something for me?'

 

Oh, Baekhyun realises suddenly. He must allude to the envelope he holds in his left hand. He cannot prevent himself from stuttering a little, intimidated. 'Well, we have this test in socio next week, so I thought we could revise together. Since when you work it prevents you from studying, I though why not...'

The prostitute moves away, his eyes wide open and astouned. Abruptly the brunette bursts into laughter. In an instant he loses all his sexy demeanour. His whole body is shaking, he claps his hands, throws his head backwards. It's so loud, so carefree that Baekhyun can only watch him with entranced eyes. After a good minute, the tall man wipes his eyes and chuckles, 'You really booked a prostitute just for the sake of sociology? Just how bad of a study-buddy are you?'

Then the prostitute tries to get a grip on himself, and goes on with the charming act he displayed earlier. His large palms find Baekhyun's hands and he holds them tenderly.

'Since it's our first encounter, you'll have to tell me your preferences.' 'Whatever you are comfortable with.' Baekhyun answers in a heartbeat. Pan tilts his head, inquisitive, 'What about your kinks?'

'My kinks are the ones you're comfortable with.' The shorter repeats more confidently.

It only makes the other snort, 'Such a smooth talker, but you're not making it easier for me you know.'

Despite his words, he looks at his client with a gaze that seems almost... fond?

Swiftly the tall brunette switches their positions, and forces Baekhyun to stumble backwards, bringing him where he wants him to be: on the bed.

In a daze, Baekhyun lets himself be manhandled and sits docilely on the edge of the mattress. His whole body is warming up, and the instensity of Pan's stare does nothing to cool him down. In a graceful move, the prostitute kneels in front of him, never averting his eyes. His entire face is an invitation, and suddenly Baekhyun's lips are on his, as if the laws of gravity themselves made him lean on, a course drawn by the universe just for him to fall on those inviting crescents of flesh.

The shorter man marvels at their softness. So pliant, so plump, so… bitable. And he does just that, sinking his front teeth in the tender flesh, exerting a quiet moan out of the prostitute.

The sweet contact turns fierce: napes are gripped, hair is pulled, hands touch skin.

Pan lets his tongue hanging out of his mouth, panting softly. And oh how Baekhyun likes playing with that tongue, devouring it, sucking it, fighting it with his own tongue. It so so messy already, but spit never seemed so attractive, dripping on Pan's chin.

 

When he pulls back they are both red and out of breath. Carefully massaging Pan's nape, Baekhyun asks suddenly, 'You can kiss on the mouth?'

'We're not in Pretty Woman!' The prostitute snorts playfully.

'I guess not.' Baekhyun chuckles. But before he can claim the other's mouth back, Pan pushes his shoulder, making him lying flat on the flat.

'Cha– ' The prostitute is quick to put a finger on his mouth, preventing him from going further. His face is not playful anymore, a serious frown on his forehead. 'Shhh. This person doesn't exist here. Leave him alone.'

The brown-haired man does not make another sound, watching with a lustful attention as the prostitute begins to unzip his trousers. A low groan escapes him as Pan starts groping his dick through his underwear. The prostitute mouthes the garment and all his blood runs south.

'Take it off!' He hiccups. And the sex worker does so, taking his sweet time to remove the trousers and shorts. Instantly his penis stands proudly, already starting to leak to Baekhyun's greater shame, how could he be so affected by a mere making out?

If the young man was not already hard, the hungry stare his dick is being the subject of would do the job.

'Please, Pan...' He moans pathetically.

The other does not need more encouragement, as he nuzzles his client's cock almost cutely if the picture was not so lewd. He is a pup after all Baekhyun thinks as he is being at the receiving end of slurpy licks. The same longue he sucked earlier is now wrapped around his dick and he could never

 

wish for a better development.

By the time the prostitute resolves to take him in his mouth, Baekhyun is already a shivering mess. The cavern is so tight, so warm, the look on Pan's face is so sinful... He is actually embarrassed of how turned on he is. His hands come to grip tightly the prostitute's hair, and all his self-restraint goes out of the window.

The brunette's lips are just so pretty wrapped around his cock like that, glossy because of the saliva. His moans are louder the more he thrusts shallowly into Pan's mouth. The dirty sounds of squelch coming out of the prostitute's active work on his dick, his own breathy gasps, the lights on Pan's face, everything is too much. The reality escapes him, he can already see his end.

'Pan...' He warns. 'Pan I'm gonna–' It only spurs the other on. His sucking becomes more and more aggressive, relentless until Baekhyun is emptying his load into his welcoming mouth. He takes the time to swallow everything, and to have the nerve to fix right into Baekhyun's eyes while doing so. His eyes are so dark, so deep, the student feels powerless. His hungry stare roams the prostitute's body. If his face is already messed up, the rest is too neat for his liking. It's until his eyes fall on the buldge of the other's panties.

Baekhyun wants to believe it's because he affected him, but he has to be rational. Obviously prostitutes cannot have so many ejaculations in one night, viagra and stuffs are here to help, to make the client feel as if he could turn a gorgeous man on.

But if it's there, he will have to make the most of it. Taking back control, he manhandles the prostitute to lay underneath him. Pan certainly did not expected it, if the small yelp he makes is any clue. Baekhyun does not wait a second to undo the taller's corset, his avid mouth soon enough attacking the errect nipples, and his right hand fumbling with the other's panties.

Moments later Pan is a panting mess, his hair is stuck on his sweaty forehead, his gaze is unfocused as Baekhyun jacks him off faster and faster. The taller is so warm and heavy, so big in his delicate hand that Baekhyun groans at the sensation.

All he can do is to wish that this is not an act, that Pan is really experiencing pleasure. With a renewed ardour he sucks particularly hard the nipple he has in mouth, extracting a strangled gasp out of the prostitute.

It's time to level up the game, he decides. The brown-haired man presents his fingers to Chanyeol's pliant mouth, who does not waste a second to suck them docilely. Baekhyun cannot prevent from associating him with a big drooling puppy again. With a shaky breath he covers Pan's neck with passionate kisses. He does not understand a thing, how can everything about this man can make his head spin so much?

Once there is enough drool and saliva on his fingers he slowly extracts them from Pan's mouth, who makes a noise of protest which stops when he feels them circling carefully his entrance.

The prostitute had for sure welcomed bigger thing inside this part of his body, but this does not prevent Baekhyun from taking his time, attentive to every reaction and sound Pan makes.

Finally, with a fierce grip on his dick and three fingers hitting his prostate, the prostitute comes in a strangled noise.

The prostitute stays on his back, fixing the ceiling and working on his laboured breath. Baekhyun doubts his will manage to even for the night.

 

'I should let you rest.' He says slowly after a moment of silence.

At that, Pan raises on his elbows and throws him a seductive smile. 'Well, we still have time.' Baekhyun shakes his head. No matter how much he enjoys what they did, he cannot imagine doing more for now. For now, he surprises himself to think. He dispels the naughty ideas which threaten  to invade his mind and comes with an hesitant proposition. 'Can I just... Kiss you?'

'Sure thing Hyun-ssi.' The prostitute chuckles.

Silently Baekhyun crawls over the other's body, never breaking their eye contact as Pan lowers himself again. Delicately the shorter places his lips on the prostitute's, sharing a chaste contact of chairs.

They spend the next fourty minutes lazily making out. Sometimes, Baekhyun stops just to stare at

 

Pan's face. He just likes so much how the other blushes a little under his penetrating look. Their semi-nude bodies pressed against each other is not enough and he punctuates his kisses with some caresses on Pan's face. The student surrenders to the taste of honey and the comfortable warm wetness, somehow praying for this moment to never end.

 

 

The next day, the Political Science student is euphoric. When four days ago he feared his sociology class, now he cannot wait to see the brunette again. He is early for his first class of the day, and if his friends could see him bouncing like this they would seriously worry for his mental health, when he seemed so anxious only twenty-four hours ago.

Like the good student he is, Park Chanyeol is already seated at his usual spot. However, when Baekhyun walks towards him a bright smile on his lips, the other throws him a glance so blank and indifferent that he stops in his track. Feeling undesired, the brown-haired boy slowly withdraws to his usual seat at the back of the room.

Baekhyun may well glance at Chanyeol as much as he wants, his attempts of making eye contact are vain. No bashful smile, no endearing shyness, not even a sign of acknowledgment. If he had not the picture of the other's lips around his dick so distinctly engraved in his mind, he would have questioned last night's events. The message is clear: what happens at Elyxion stays at Elyxion, and the young man feels silly for having wished for more. For a reason he could not explain, a lump settled in his throat.

 

 

'You seem a little down these days, is everything alright?' Minseok causiously asks one day during lunchtime.

The taller of the three – by only an inch would protest Jongdae – is absently picking at his japchae under the preoccupied gazes of his friends.

'Last week you were so fidgety, and since Tuesday you just spend your time daydreaming gloomily.' Jongdae adds.

'It's nothing guys, just a bit worried about the applications to master's degree, I'll get over it.' Baekhyun sighs.

The two longtime friends exchange a doubtful look.

'You know we're here for you, right?' Minseok says with a soothing voice.

'I know, you guys are the best.' Baekhyun raises his head to address them a reassuring smile, and freezes half way.

Over Jongdae's shoulder he can see Park Chanyeol goofing around with his tall friend, the one who threw him a dirty look last time. The latter seems to complain about something, throwing his arms around in a dramatic manner, which elicits a sparkling smile and a rumbling laugh that should be lost in the crowd, but somehow he hears it perfectly. Baekhyun's own forced smile falters a little.

 

After all, Peter Pan barely goes to the human world. He goes there just to gather some boys who fall out of their prams when the nurse is looking the other way, boys who blindly follow him to Neverland to never leave it.

So if he must go to Neverland to see him, let it be.

 

 

 

Baekhyun both loves and hates the new routine that gives rhythm to his life.

 

He loves it when Pan is cladded in daring pieces of fine lingerie. Collars, corsets, suspender belts, make-up, wigs, cuffs, everything suits him. He loved it the first time he pushed inside the other man, to feel his warmth surrounding him. He loves seeing the hard muscles of Pan's back in

 

action as his dick is sunk in the other's ass. He loves it when Pan eagerly rides him with his bunny ears on.

 

He loved it very much when after a month, Pan seemed more at ease with him, perhaps because he was now sure Baekhyun would not use his activity against him.

That time, the prostitute was waiting for him, straddling the bed, his back turned but his head in his direction. Pan was wearing nothing more than crotchless red lace panties and a sunset as eyeshadows.

The brown-haired man must had been looking blissfully at him for too long, because Pan protested, 'You said that you wanted to do things that I was comfortable with'.

It was rare for prostitute to look this flustered in front of him, his tone almost accusing but an unsure pout on his lips, as if defending himself from accusations Baekhyun did not even utter. Baekhyun remembers having smiled fondly at that. He gawked a little more, thinking that yes, red really looks the best on him, before heading to the bed. 'Show me more of that pretty ass you want me to eat out, then.' And he did splendidly so, revering all the whimpers he could extract from that big baby boy, working dutifully his expert tongue inside the walls of the other's butthole.

 

He loves to place smooches on Pan's tummy to extract gleeful giggles out of him.

He weirdly loves the smell of Pan's lube and the sound of condoms unwrapping, do not ask him why.

He loves it when he is the last customer of the night and that Pan allows him to stay a bit as he prepares himself to retreat for the night. He loves watching him erasing his make up, it's feels like it is the only moment when Pan and Park Chanyeol are both present.

 

He loved it when one time he dared to bring Pan a present. He was so shy and unsure of what to do with the small packet in his hand. The brunette had curiously titled his head, in that puppy way he likes so much.

'It's... Huh I noticed you wear them quite often, it's not much but...' He had stammered. The prostitute was not even listening to him anymore, cautiously unwrapping the gift.

It was a black chocker quite plain with golden knots to tie it. Rather discreet but with a touch of fantasy. Embarrassed, he tried to explain what he wanted to mean with this present.

'You don't have to wear it when we're together, if you like it just wear it whenever you want... Just not with other customers!' He added hurriedly.

Pan observed him trying to sort it out, a beaming smile enlightening his whole face. 'Say Hyun, can you help me to tie it?' His hands still a bit shaky, Baekhyun came by side. He left a swift kiss on the other's neck before tying the knot, eliciting a shiver.

Pan wore the chocker everytime after that.

 

He loved it the most when one time Pan suddenly sneezed as Baekhyun was giving him a blowjob. The unexpectedness and intensity of it made them laugh for at least five minutes. He remembers the soft look the brunette gave him as Baekhyun had a hard time recovering his breath.

 

Overall, he loves the illusion of sharing something precious with their unhurried intercourses, filled with sweet kisses and knowing laughters.

 

 

But he hates the fact that Park Chanyeol never talks to him, no matter how much Pan surrenders himself to Hyun. He hates that the only thing he sees when their eyes meet is coldness. He hates going to the brothel, to take appointments with Woozi, even though the receptionist is nothing but friendly.

 

He hated it when the second time he went to see Pan, he did not wait for Woozi's signal. As there was no trace of the petite receptionist at the desk, he just went to Pan's room. And as he arrived in front of the door, it opened, a tall man exiting the room. He hated it, that the guy looked so handsome and confident. He heard a, 'See you next month, Kris!' from the bed. He hated it, the way that Pan's eyes widened, clearly not expecting him, and a bit panicky because he did not have the time to wash the traces of sex out of his body. He learnt the hard way that you should always wait for Woozi's signal.

He hates sharing Pan's body heat with other men.

 

He hates the nasty voice at the back of his head asserting it's all fake, that whatever he does is just an act Pan must laugh about with the other sex workers; just like he hates the reasonable voice from another corner of his mind, advising him to just go back to Exodus, to stop paying for a body trapped in such a place.

 

He hates it the most when he closes the door behind him. He hates the impression to drown in the reality when he steps outside the room he considers his personal Neverland. Whatever childish lust he feasts on there is caught up by the harsh material truth of the bill. He hates the feeling of his heart squeezing in his chest, producing a dull muffled sound to his own ear, a heart whose beat only fastens when he places his hands on Pan's body.

 

Overall, he hates that he cannot let go of the illusion he came to cherish so much.

 

 

They are in the middle of the summer break when everything shatters.

For the sake of his mother the student came back home for a week to share 'quality time' according to her. It is safe to say that it's rather synonymous of dread for the young man.

Fortunately it is their last meal together before Baekhyun can finally go back to his apartment, his 'dump' as his father would say.

They are sitting opposite, the sound of the chopsticks against their bowls as sole conversation. To Baekhyun's relief he did not see his father too much during his vacations in their residence, the man was as busy as usual. If only he could have spent this last dinner with his mother only...

'So Baekhyun, I've seen your results.' The man begins, not even looking at him. His son already knows he will not appreciate the rest and his jaw clenches instinctively. 'Tell me,' He finally raises his head, fixing him with a cold stare. 'How do you expect to make a name for yourself with such disappointing marks?'

The student can already feel his blood ready to boil.

'An average of eighty-nine percent is not bad, I'm amongst the best of my school year...' He tries to defend himself.

'But you are not the best, so what is the point?' His father cuts him short. 'Your marks in optional subjects are good, but what about your seventy-five percent in Political Philosophy? You know how important this course is...'

'I'm sure he does, darling.' His mother tries to pacify the conversation. Baekhyun still wants to show his worth, however he senses it's a losing battle.

'At least my lecturers all say they are expecting me to get my degree in February with great results and to continue smoothly with my master's degree.'

The man scoffs, unimpressed.

'They are flattering you because they know your relations, don't let yourself be fooled by this boot- licking. Professors these days are not as incorruptible nor demanding as they should be.' He pauses a bit. 'Sometimes I wonder why you did not choose an easier field of study, something more accessible, to your level.' He sighs with an air of finality. 'I don't know what you're trying to prove Baekhyun, but you're clearly not succeeding it.'

 

The ride back is agonising. The young man just want to shout his frustration, but the traffic is not helping him to relax one bit. He wishes he would care less, but the burning shame of being a bad son to his father is something he spent already two decades trying to ignore.

'Change of plan,' he says to the driver. 'I have an appointment in Itaewon, and if this continues I will not have time to head back in Gwanak.'

Their family driver nods and enter the GPS coordinates Baekhyun gives him, a few streets away from the brothel.

 

Baekhyun has been visiting Elyxion for two months already. From now on he knows all habits and customs, he is acquainted to every prostitute even though he only ever visited one.

Somehow a feeling in his gut warns him that this is not the right time to go to the brothel, but he already scheduled an appointment.

 

The same guts contract as he enters Pan's room, but he dismisses it. Even though Woozi assured him he could go, the prostitute is not ready yet. To be honest, he is a mess, and as Baekhyun takes it in he can feel his anger increasing. He sees it all, what he usually does his best to ignore: his bare body covered with lovebits and red marks, the swollen entrance, the dishevelled hair...

Pan is lying on his bed, the face buried in his pillow, his breath a bit shallow if the way his back heaves is any indication. He must have not heard him enter since he does not make a move to acknowledge his presence.

 

It is as if someone else took possession of his body. Before he knows it, he is straddling Pan's thighs, holding him down. In a swift motion he undoes his belt and unzips his trousers, not even removing them completely, just lowering them enough to free his dick. He promptly grabs his meat and jerks off. The weight on his body alerts Pan who is trying to face him.

'Hyun? You are...'

'Shut up.' A cold voice he does not recognise cuts him off.

Everything is a blur, his unlubed fingers forcefully work Pan's entrance open, who does not protest and just lies there. Baekhyun goes for the bare minimum, after putting the condom he spits on his palm and jerks off one last time, before shoving his dick inside the prostitute's ass.

His hip thrusts are rough and unforgiving, and his grip on the other's hips will leave bruises. Pan has still his face on the pillow, moaning softly. A slap on his butt and he arches his pelvis up. His reactions only fuel Baekhyun's anger.

'So you like it after all? You like it when I force upon you? You enjoy being a powerless slut?'

His rhythm speeds up, seeking for a quick release as Pan's whimpers get louder. A few groans and dirty slaps of skin against skin later, Baekhyun releases inside of the condom.

 

It's an electroshock, the bitterness of his climax appalls him. As he regains his breath he progressively realises what he just did.

His shivers are not due to any post-sex symptom, it is the shame invading his entire being.

Pan did not move at all and he realises he never saw the man's face since he entered the room. Cautiously he places his trembling hand on the prostitute's shoulder, tilting him on his back. Baekhyun's breath is caught on his throat when he notices that Pan's eyes are wet.

 

'What have I done? I'm sorry Pan, so so sorry.' He whispers, his voice full of remorse.

The male only responds with a blithe motion of his hand, as if to erase his apology. 'Don't be, I'm used to it.' He seems so detached about it, while the student cannot prevent himself from thinking he has just betrayed the unspoken trust and tenderness they share.

'But you shouldn't,' Baekhyun vehemently retorts. 'Of course you shouldn't. Please let me make it up to you...'

 

And after seeking a glint of consent in the other's eye he begins to delicatly kiss all the expanses of skin he can access. He spends the rest of his hour cherishing the other's body, and when Baekhyun is back to full hardness, he enters the prostitute again. This time it is unhurried, long deep thrusts that take Pan's breath away, Baekhyun makes sure of it as he never looks away from his face. Eventually they both come, with their breathes intertwind and swollen lips.

 

 

Baekhyun exits the establishment with a heavy heart. He is well aware that everything changed tonight. For the first time he totally dismissed Pan's needs to only think about himself. He can no longer pretend that he does not treat Pan as a prostitute, even though he always made sure to please the brunette and tried to lure himself into believing he was not using the other, he truly was the customer of a brothel. He does not want to put Pan through this ever again. Nobody deserves to be treated like a sex toy.

He never felt this ashamed to pay, he was barely able to look into Woozi's eyes.

 

 

So days flow by under the scorching heat of July. Minseok and Jongdae are both with their families and Baekhyun is by himself, counting his own drops of sweat in his small flat.

 

It seems crazy, but he ended getting a head start of the next semester while listening to X Japan, a group he saw on one of Park Chanyeol's sweater. He must recognise it, they are good. It makes him chuckle, he can imagine neither the sultry Pan nor the nerdy Park Chanyeol liking a Japanese rock band from the eighties.

Park Chanyeol is definitely more than what meets the eye.

An umpteenth sighs escapes his lips. It's unhealthy, he cannot go on like that for too long. He perfectly knows he is not entitled to miss the other, and yet...

He misses the taller's warmth, his plump lips, his fresh and flowery scent, his obnoxious laughter, his big expressive eyes...

As 'Forever Love' is blasting in the background, he is aware he got too attached to the other male. When it is only the two of them, he forgets Pan is not his to keep.

He went there for fun and he got carried away. He is growing feelings for a chimera, for a beautiful being who might not exist at all, played by someone he does not know after all.

This addiction must end, that's what he has been trying to convince himself of for a week.

 

But he is a weak man, and he does not last ten days before calling the brothel and scheduling a meeting.

 

 

It is a Wednesday night, and even though the sun set two hours ago, the streets are still giving off a humid heat.

When he enters the brothel, Woozi seems a bit tense. He quickly understands why when he catches sight of a figure next to Mingyu, he can feel all his blood leaving his face.

It is Kang Dungwoo's body guard, and it can only mean one thing: the businessman is in there with Pan.

After hearing his name being whispered in every corner of the brothel, Baekhyun made his researches about him. He is the vice president of one of the biggest firm of the country, and reputed to be a ruthless person in business, without scruples when he needs something.

And he seems to be the same in his privacy.

 

Indeed the man goes down the stairs minutes after, buttoning his fold-less suit. He does not spare

 

either Woozi or Baekhyun a glance and exits the establishment while the bodyguard pays and follows him quickly.

The receptionist seems to relax significantly after his departure and joyfully motions Baekhyun to go upstairs.

 

When Baekhyun enters the room, the prostitute is pretty much in the same state as the last time he saw him. It is obvious that the brunette is exhausted, but he still managed to freshen up a bit, to try to fix his appearance. But the student will not let himself be fooled, not this time. He carefully sits on the bed.

'Hi Pan, how are you?' He places a cautious hand on the other's thigh. 'Evening Hyun, it's been a while.' The tall man answers cheekily.

His heart squeezes out of joy to see that Pan noticed his absence, but he tries not to be distracted. He roams his eyes on the prostitute's silhouette, who oozes of exhaustion. He notices red and purple marks along the way, a view that makes him frown.

'You alright handsome?' Pan makes him focus back on his face.

'I should be the one to ask you that...' Baekhyun mumbles. 'Kang didn't go easy on you, did he?' Pan's tensing is so subtle and fast that it almost goes unnoticed. Almost.

'He is allowed to do as he pleases, just like you are.'

And wham! Baekhyun is rightfully put in his place. After how he acted last time, he has no comment to make.

'Well,' he moves to hover over Pan, making him lying down. 'Tonight it is your turn to be pleased.' He claims the prostitute's lips before the latter has the time to ask him anything. For once, he wants to do things right. So he takes his time to tenderly mould their lips together with the righful amount of tongue and bites. Their mouthes dance in rhythm, theirs, the one they shared so many times now. Baekhyun can already feel himself growing hot with Pan's unabashed moans and soft whimpers.

 

Once their lips are swollen enough, the student uses them to shower the other's skin with kisses and lickings. And as usual Pan lets himself being taken care of, surrending gladly under Baekhyun ministrations.

Every inch of skin receives a stroke, a kiss, a nipping. He is especially attentive to the zones covered with blows and marks, kissing them lightly.

The sounds Pan makes and his small shivers of pleasure are a melody to Baekhyun, one he wants on replay. But he only has fifty minutes left, so he better enjoys it while he still can.

 

Pan gasps when Baekhyun takes his shaft in his hand and begins to stroke him gently. Moments later the shorter is between the prostitute's legs, taking him in his mouth, never letting his thighs deprived of sweet caresses. He can feel the other arching his back a little, his hands grabbing the sheets desperately, never daring to touch him. So he takes the initiative to place Pan's hands on his head, to let him take control of his pace. However the brunette does not take advantage of it and does little more than stroking his hair, a gesture which makes Baekhyun's heart swell in his chest.

He tries his hardest to please the other, bobbing his head as fast as he can with the right amount of sucking. The pitches of 'Ahs' and 'Please mores' get higher, and when Baekhyun feels Pan tense in his mouth, he makes the mistake of looking at him. The sight is so erotic, Pan's entire face is flushed and contorted in pleasure, he cannot prevent himself from groaning around the prostitute's cock. The reverberation makes Pan brutally hiccup and he pours his load in Baekhyun's cavern.

The student swallows, his eyes never leaving Pan's blissful face. While the other recovers, he begins to let lovebites on the prostitute's tender thighs.

Yes, it is selfish but he wants to create at least a temporary memory of this night.

Once he senses Pan recovered from his high, he gently moves the other on his stomach. He stays silent, too used to be manhandled.

Baekhyun lifts his ass a little, offering a perfect view on the other's entrance. Pan flinches at the unexpected contact.

 

The student regrets they did not do it more often, it is so obvious that Pan likes it in the way he shakes his bottom, seeking for more. So he obliges him, lapping eagerly the pink flesh until the prostitute is a panting mess under him.

'Bae... Baek...' He cries when he starts tongue-fucking him forcefully. The tall brunette comes undone in less than five minutes, untouched.

There are a few tears in Pan's eyes that Baekhyun is prompt to lick before they can make ridges on his skin.

They do not exchange a word for the rest of the hour.

It's just Baekhyun cherishing Pan's body and the latter looking at him. When he gets tired of pampering him with kisses, he rests on Pan's chest a bit, playing with their intertwined fingers. And he starts all over again, licking everything in his path.

Baekhyun does nothing to relieve his raging boner, the prostitute made him release too many times in the past. He deserves to get blue-balled a little.

 

Eventually the clock reminds him of his allocated time. He stares at the other, hoping that a gaze could convey a fragment of his feelings. He gets drunk of this sight: Pan's wide smoky eyes blinking at him, his strong but abused body resting on red silky sheets. His defined muscles which shades play with the softened light. His soft baby features asking unspoken questions but never revealing anything about himself.

Baekhyun places a chaste kiss on the other's forehead, playing with his hair a little.

'Get some rest Peter Pan, you need it.' He whispers, before adding with a soft smile: 'Take care.'

Pan stays mute, his round eyes follow him as he crosses the room with heavy steps. It takes him every bit of courage to not turn around, to not look at him one last time before closing the door behind him.

 

The last time.

 

It's decided, he won't set foot in Elyxion ever again.

 

It is the end of conflicted times, he cannot take it anymore. He does not want Park Chanyeol that way, the way so many abuse of. He cannot bear seeing him in this poor shape after rich people had their way with him. It's too hard, and he is no-one to decide for Pan, no matter how much he wants him out of here he knows nothing about him.

 

'Hyun-nim, we hope you enjoyed your night here.' Woozi greets him as he arrives at the reception desk. 'Do you wish to plan another meeting?'

'No I don't, in fact...' He does not know how to voice it. 'I'd like to pay for the rest of Pan's night.' The receptionist is dumbfounded. 'You want to... But...'

Baekhyun's arm is gripped by a hand of steel. It is a customer waiting at the desk, looking quite pissed.

'Hey, I'm the next to do him, it's not up to you to decide dude!'

Baekhyun removes his arm, offering with an accomodating voice, 'I'm ready to pay thrice the price to refund his other customers.'

'If I may Sir,' Woozi takes part in his favour. 'Taemin and Jay are available right now.'

'Thrice the price you said?' The other man ponders. 'Doesn't seem too bad to be overpaid to fuck a whore, it's a deal.'

Baekhyun refrains from making a face at the rude person, and faces the receptionist again. 'Well, here is the cash for the other customers. I rely on you Woozi, let nobody enter his room.'

The latter looks at him with soft eyes. He must know how tired is Pan these days and gratefully complies with the client. 'Duly noted Sir. Have a good night, Hyun-nim.'

'You too Woozi, take care.'

 

When he hears the lock of the door closing behind him, muffling the noises and lights from the establishment, he knows it's the end of a period. Only a couple of months in his entire life, but so intense he doubts he will ever forget it.

 

The heart-squeezing feeling is back. Compressing. Again. And again. Until his organ is the size of a peanut, to the point it makes his head dizzy.

He does not cry in the taxi. Nor when he arrives at his apartment. What for? What use is it to cry for a person who does not feel a tenth of the pain you suffer from? He has been foolish enough. He will cherish the memories he has of this room, but he won't try to revive them.

 

 

It not until two days after that it hits him. The student went jogging, music blasting in his eardrum as he runs along the Han river. An energetic Bigbang song comes to its end and the shuffle goes on with some piano notes. Stop. Suddenly he cannot breathe anymore. Distraught eye. Closed off lungs.

Forever Love.

It's so silly really, but everything comes back. The exact spot of every item of the room. The texture of the sheets. The touch of his skin. The sound of his pants.

His eyes burn him. Wetness. Distress. Why does he feel that way? This is the worst he hates it he hates it. He hates it damn it, he furiously wips his eyes. But who is he kidding? He does not have the strenght to be angry. He must accept it.

Baekhyun sits down in the slope of grass bordering the river, he needs to recollect himself. The calm swell of water is relaxing, its twinkles let imagine a game of hide-and-seek with the sun. His cardiac rhythm slowly goes back to normal. Better things will happen. Acceptance is the first step to move on.

 

 

The second step is to find a summer job. The young man cannot bear his apartment anymore, and earning your crust is a pretty good distraction from futilities.

At first it is not easy, it's already mid July after all, all the student jobs have been taken for a while. To add to the difficulty, Baekhyun never worked before, so his CV is pretty empty. The judgmental looks of the managers of the shops he applies to say a lot about what they think of his idleness, and he ends his first day of job-hunting a bit ashamed.

Fortunately, he manages to find a vacancy in a cafe not too far from his place, one of the employees fell and broke her ankle. The owner of the cafe does not look too closely to his unexperience, too eager to find a replacement.

 

The following three weeks are essentially composed of sweat and backaches. He gets it tough, having his fair share of petty clients and heavy cases to carry. He spends his days running from left to right, but he gets out of it grateful.

A taste of the real life, of the difficulty to make money, he needed it more than anything.

 

 

August arrives and with it his friends come back. A back hug, shining smiles, a 'What have you been up to rascal?' and the Earth is round again.

The spleen is not trendy anymore, it's not complicated to be happy. To believe it one should forget everything. And he does so.

 

 

It is the last semester before his degree's graduation, he cannot allow himself to be distracted anymore. Classes and weeks come one after the other. To his great misery he still shares the same class of sociology with Park Chanyeol, so he allocated himself a rule: one glance. He is not allowed

 

to glance more than once per class at him. You know, just to make sure his hair is still fluffy. And it is. No big deal.

 

 

Well, it becomes a big deal when during the only-one-allowed-glance he happens to catch Park Chanyeol staring at him. The eye contact only lasts for a second, the tall brunette looks away immediately. Baekhyun is too astonished to do so, and he watches with perplexity Chanyeol's ears turning pink.

 

No need to say that with the burning curiosity to know whether the stare is a recurrent occurrence or not, the “one glance rule” goes down the drain. At the end, it turns out that the brunette does glance at him quite often. It makes Baekhyun's heart beat a little faster but he does not know what to do with this piece of information.

After all, Chanyeol never makes a move to talk to him. He settles with quick glances from the other side of the classroom.

 

 

This little game could have gone on for months if not for a unpleasant incident.

It is mid-September already, and Baekhyun is on his way back from a late homework session at the national library where he needed to refer to a specific article. He is longing a store, nearly at his bus stop when he hears some noises from what seems to be a car park dimly lightened.

People seem to be arguing and threats echoes a little between the walls in concrete.

'… your own business… thought I could trust you... You fake the good friend but you only want to fuck Sooyoung, heh Chanyeol?'

The last word stops him, stricken. Alright, it is not a very widespread name but what would be the odds for it to be him? Why would Park Chanyeol be so far from both the university and the brothel at this hour...

 

Out of curiosity he silently moves in the darkness to peek at the car park. His blood freezes at the sight unfolding in front of him.

Two guys are showering with blows a hunched silhouette on the ground, the impact of the kicks extracting pitiful whimpers.

The whole scene is hidden, but a street lamp highlights messy curly hair and a purple sweat he knows too well.

'Hey you!' He steps forwards without a second thought. 'Don't you think it's very cowardly to fight at uneven number?'

One of them turns to face him, blocking the view. 'It's none of your business dude so you better clear off!'

'Leave him alone!' Unfazed, Baekhyun tries to overtake him to calmly reach Chanyeol still on the ground.

Until a crushing pain in his jaw sends him on the asphalt. He looks up, astonished. The guy just punched him and seems ready to turn his back, convinced it's enough to scare him away.

He is not the first to underestimate Byun Baekhyun but oh boy, he should not have. In a second the young man is back in his feet and throws his right foot with all his strenght to crush the man's skull. Ten years and a black belt of hapkido are finally useful in the real life.

The male lies knocked out under the dumbfounded look of his side-kick. Chanyeol takes advantage of it to grab the man's ankle and pulls it, making him lose his balance.

But the surprise effect does not last for long, and the other is already throwing kicks back at Chanyeol who barely had the time to stand back up.

'You son of a bitch!' The stranger curses while he throws his fist to the brunette stomach.

'Well that's just a plain fact, try something else.' Chanyeol coughs. There is a fierce spark in his

 

gaze, but he is too weak to handle more.

That's the moment Baekhyun chooses to step in, blowing a powerful punch in the man's sternum which makes him fall backwards.

'You okay?' He asks, kneeling in front of Chanyeol.

'Watch out!' He frightfully whispers, his wide eyes on the man he just beat up.

And indeed the douche is already trying to extract a knife from his pocket. Promptly Baekhyun crushes his hand, and the other shouts of pain.

In a swift motion the criminal grabs his foot and uses it to make him topple. In a second he is pinned to the ground, immediately Baekhyun headbutts him but if it destabilises his opponent, it does not make him loosen his grip. A knee crushing his private parts though...

As the man writhes in pain Chanyeol quickly helps him to stand up and drags him by his wrist.

 

They run until they are sure they are not being followed. They are already by the Han river, both exhausted and out of breath.

Baekhyun leans against a building to support himself, gosh his head is spinning so much. Both the race and the fright shook him up.

Park Chanyeol is not in a better shape, bent over his knees. 'Thank you...' He pants with difficulty.

'No problem.' Baekhyun answers.

 

Once they cooled down a bit the taller approaches him. Old emotions turn his guts upside down, the political science student stays frozen under Park Chanyeol serious gaze. Delicately he raises his hand to brush Baekhyun's forehead who winces slightly under the touch.

'You're hurt.' Chanyeol states.

'Nothing serious really,' Baekhyun dismisses. 'Just my forehead but I asked for it and I scratched my hands a little but I'm in a much better state than you... God those bastards didn't go easy on you.' Indeed the brunette is covered with blows and his left cheekbone iss bleeding. The sight makes the shorter shake with fury, how dared they?! All tall but defenseless Chanyeol does not deserve such a treatment.

'You should go to the hospital, I'll bring you there...' He presses him.

But the brunette immediately shakes his head in refusal. 'I can take care of it myself. Want me to... To care of it for you too?' He offers uncertainly.

He should not. He really should not let a spark of any hope bloom, but the opportunity to get closer to the male is too tempting.

'Why, well, not... Not that I'm that hurt but well thank you...' He mutters, embarrassed. 'So you coming or not?' Chanyeol is already walking ahead, leading the way.

They cross the bridge and head to Itaewon side by side in silence. So many questions tumble out in Baekhyun's head but he knows the timing is not right. The tall brunette seems concerned and meditative, he does not dare to disturb his train of thoughts. And the subjects he wants to discuss are certainly not fitting to the streets. So he settles for subtle glances towards his classmate. The taller tries to hide his light limp but his grimaces of pain betray him.

Baekhyun debates with himself, sighs, then with a hesitant hand he takes Chanyeol's left arm to put it around his own shoulders, and grips the brunette's waist.

'You can lean on me, I'm strong enough you know.' He mumbles without daring to look at his classmate, even though he can feel the other's surprised eyes on him. Unlike his expectations Chanyeol does not protest and accepts his help.

 

After a twenty minutes walk they finally arrive to a place Baekhyun swore he would never enter again, but they pass in front of it without slowing down. Chanyeol finally stops in front of a door a few meters away, belonging to the same building. They enter without a word what seems to be a perfectly normal house. As Baekhyun removes his shoes, he hears a gasp of surprise, 'Hyung?! What happened to you?!'

 

It is Kai, one of best-known dancer and prostitute of the brothel standing in the living room, an appalled expression on his face.

'Evening Jongin, I just ran into Taejoon.' The taller sighs. 'Sooyoung's boyfriend?' The dancer's eyes open wide in surprise.

'Ex-boyfriend. I'll tell you everything, just not now.' Chanyeol rubs his eyes, clearly dejected.

Kai – or should he say Jongin – finally notices his presence. 'Hyun-ssi?! Indeed we'll have to talk seriously hyung.' He directs a murderous glare at his colleague.

'Anything you want Jongin but please not a word about this to anyone. You never saw him here, understood?' The brunette begs without any pride left.

'Fine, but you better have a good explanation.'

And with a last stare full of both concern and irritation the prostitute leaves the room.

An umpteenth sigh escapes Chanyeol's lips. 'It's this way.' He points the staircase out and loses no time to climb it.

The shorter follows him to the first floor where Chanyeol is already opening a door covered with rock band stickers and it does not need to be a genius to guess what it is and whose it is.

 

The bedroom is quite cramped but cosy. While Chanyeol rummages through a drawer, Baekhyun observes the place with an acute gaze.

There is no definite theme, everything blends in, a testimony of the young man's several stages of life.

The walls are covered with posters of bands, games and animes. A One Piece flag takes a large space above the desk where a gaming computer takes centre stage. There are mini figurines of Marvel heroes on the shelves of his bookcase and an acoustic guitar leaning back against the wall. Rilakkuma dolls surround the bed, sat on Zootopia bedsheets.

 

He thinks he will never cease to be surprised by the person that is Park Chanyeol, everything Baekhyun discovers only lead to further questionings.

 

'So I guess this is the real Neverland?' He says while taking a seat on the bed.

His classmate chuckles tiredly 'I guess, yeah. You could say that.' Finally he faces him again, a first- aid kit in his hands.

Chanyeol brings his desk chair to sit in front of Baekhyun and starts treating the wound of his forehead with a focused expression.

 

As much as Baekhyun does not want to break the peaceful atmosphere between them, the curiosity is burning his lips.

'Could you explain to me what was this all about?' He finally asks in a whisper.

'It really has nothing to do with you Byun Baekhyun, it's a very private matter.' Chanyeol frowns with a judgmental look.

Actually it only takes a pout and a subtle motion to Baekhyun's wounds for the brunette to spill it all, distractingly relating the story while taking care of the shorter's hands.

Park Chanyeol is a sort of gossiper it seems.

 

'So I think you might know Sooyoung, I mean Joy? She is a coworker and friend of mine. The others only have the brothel, but Sooyoung and I chose to continue to study. She is not at SNU but she still studies in a college. She met Taejoon there, the one with the knife. I don't know the other guy you threw your foot at. Awesome move by the way! You know martial arts? Anyway, they became friends and later they began to date. Sooyoung hesitated a lot at first. She really liked him but with her job and all you know... It's difficult for people like us to date, she was afraid he would not understand, that he would judge her. Oh, does it sting? I'm sorry... But yeah, he made her very happy so she went with it. She introduced us and we became friends rather quickly. I don't have many friends outside of the brothel but Taejoon was one. At some point we grew very very close.

 

Sehun often complained about it. You know Sehun? Looks like a bitchy bean but this brat is in fact very sweet, we hang out a lot...'

 

Sehun, so that must be the tall guy he always sees by Chanyeol's side. It's cute, the way the brunette blabbers, lost in his story. Who knew he could be this talkative, when they sometimes spent hours without speaking?

 

'Anyway, Taejoon and Sooyoung were two of my best friends and everything was perfect until two months ago.

They had been dating for almost a year, and Sooyoung suddenly grew very anxious. Well to be fair she began to have doubts within the first month of their romance but she could not bear it anymore. She felt so guilty for sleeping with other guys for a living, she felt like a cheater.

For a year she considerably reduced her activity, trying to spend several evenings per week with Taejoon. Yesung has been rather accomodating with it, but in consequence she was earning less money. And... Well that's really not my story to tell, but she has her reasons to desperately need it. Everyone here has. And it's sad to admit but prostitution earns a lot. So it became more difficult for her but she could do it she said.

She said she wanted to drop her job at the brothel, no matter if she would have to take three, four student jobs to compensate for it. She cried a lot about it, she confided in me how hard it was for her to be with so many men when she was in love with Taejoon, how ashamed she was feeling. Plus, around this time Taejoon began to be distant with her. She wanted him back so she seriously considered quitting. It broke my heart to see her like that, especially... Especially when I knew why Taejoon was more distant.

He admitted it to me, he was cheating on her. Regularly, with different girls. He did not care at all. He laughed about it, it was all a game. He said he was in love with Sooyoung, but not that much for him to stop having fun. So I kept it to myself for weeks, but seeing Joy so sad from one side, and Taejoon so unapologetic from the other... I gave in, I told her everything. It broke her heart even further, but there were so many lies from both sides... It could not go on, so she broke up with him. It was not worth it anymore.

He must have conclude it was me who revealed everything to her. I should have seen this coming, but I never thought he would go to this extent, since we've been close friends... I knew he had a dangerous side but I never thought he could harm the people he cared about. He threatened her, told her that if he saw her with other guys he would hurt her and so on. He was not a good guy after all...'

Chanyeol ends his tirade with a long sigh.

'I'm sorry you ended up tangled in this shit, it's went so far for a stupid story...'

 

For the most part Baekhyun was stuck on Chanyeol bubbly mouth, his unconscious pout and the fluttering of his eyelashes but if he understood well, it was mostly about the doucheness of a guy and of the difficulties to have a love life when you work at Elyxion. That sucks.

 

'Well, thanks. Can I help you now?' Baekhyun offers pointing at Chanyeol's multiple injuries.

'I know how to treat it, no problem.' Chanyeol blushes slightly, avoiding his prying gaze. It seems that once he has nothing to recount he comes back to an introvert behaviour. 'But you can be my assistant if you wish.'

'At least that's something I master.' The chestnut-haired man smiles cheerfully.

 

They treat Chanyeol's wounds silently, not daring to address the elephant in the room.

That is until Chanyeol clears his throat while Baekhyun spreads ointment over a blow on his left ribs.

'It's been weeks since you last showed up at Elyxion.' He states tentatively.

'Yeah... I don't think I'll ever go there again to be honest.' The other does not meet his eyes, trying

 

hard to seem unbothered.

'That's a shame, you were one of my favourite clients. We had a good laugh or two.' Chanyeol lets his words sink in, before asking with a shy voice:

'Did you... Get bored of it?'

 

Get bored of me is what it really means, and both of them are aware of it.

It's time for Baekhyun to be honest. He raises his head and does not divert his gaze anymore. He must do his best to convey his sincerity

 

'I just became sick of it, of the way you and your colleagues are treated. It felt like I was supporting it, and I didn't like what I was slowly becoming. I couldn't recognise myself anymore sometimes. So yeah, it's better that way.'

 

A smile slowly blossoms on Chanyeol's lips. 'You're not that bad Byun Baekhyun.'

'And I think you're rather intriguing Park Chanyeol.' His classmate retorts, a smirk in the corner of his mouth.

 

They stopped in their motion minutes ago and Baekhyun is still pressing his hand on the other's skin. He restarts rubbing the cream, debating with himself.

He takes a deep breath and asks a question which burned his lips for months, 'Do you think... We could become friends?'

 

The wide expressive eyes he came to know so well open in surprise.

'Friends? You mean people you hang out with? Wouldn't it be awkward?' He is dubitative to say the least.

'Not if we don't make it awkward.' Baekhyun shrugs casually. 'That way you would have a friend who knows about your profession and who doesn't judge you for it. Unless maybe this Sehun is aware of it too?'

'Sehun? Oh god no...' Chanyeol gasps dramatically. 'But why do you want us to be friends?'

'I don't know, I think you're cool. I have figurines of Iron Man myself and my friends can't bear it when I talk about gaming. I believe we could get along.'

 

Chanyeol pauses for a while, biting his lips in questioning. His vis-a-vis deflates, clearly it's not an appealing offer for the brunette, and he can understand why.

 

'If we become friends, you can absolutely not be my client anymore though.' Chanyeol ends up by saying with a firm tone.

'I told you I didn't want to be.' He states hurriedly. 'Okay, let's try.'

'Really?' Baekhyun makes sure, dumbfounded. 'Really.'

Chanyeol addresses him a wide, beautiful smile. One that shows his teeth and makes his bright eyes shine even more. One that makes his head dizzy and his heart swell with want.

 

It's a new chance for them to take a better path. He cannot wait.

Chapter Text

II.

 

 

Easier said than done, they rightly say.

 

Baekhyun could not say they really became friends, but at least Chanyeol does not ignore him anymore and always greets him when they cross path, either with an endearing smile or a shy wave.

 

'You said once that you knew Park Chanyeol, right?' He asks his two friends before one of their morning classes.

'Yeah, why?' Minseok answers by another question.

'When you use the verb “to know”, you don't mean that you bullied him or did shit to him?' He squints, his voice full of doubt and mistrust.

'What? Of course not! Who do you take us for?' They both look absolutely scandalised.

'It's just that we kinda talked a little and I was wondering if I could invite him to eat his lunch with us one day, or if it'd be awkward.'

'Yeah you totally should!' Jongdae exclaims. 'He used to be a bit withdrawn in high school but hey we're going to get him out of his shell.'

'Okay great, well I'll ask him.' Baekhyun thinks out loud with a detemined gaze, his pep talk not going unnoticed by Minseok's suspicious eyes.

 

 

It is a bit awkward, but not for the reasons he expected.

When he asked Chanyeol if Sehun and him would like to join them for lunch he became a gibbering mess, saying he did not want to bother Minseok and Jongdae. After some negociations and assurance that “Yes, it was perfectly fine” he finally agreed. And it went pretty well. The tall brunette was a bit stiff at first but he soon found himself laughing at Jongdae's jokes as the three of them were exchanging anecdotes from their high school lives. No, the weird part comes from Oh Sehun, the tall-but-not-as-tall-as-Chanyeol guy with a murderous glare which did not leave Baekhyun's face for the past twenty minutes.

The political science student tried to lighten the mood by making conversation but he only got short answers out of Sehun, as well as a small humiliation.

'So, Sehun, what's your major?' 'Same as Chanyeol.'

'Which is...?'

'Social Welfare. You mean that you're getting all “friendly” with him but you don't even know what he's majoring in?'

Touché. Baekhyun never even thought about asking Chanyeol about his studies. As he watches the latter animately talk about his plans for the future with his friends, he realises once again how shallow their relation is. He does not want to discourage himself but they do have a long way to go.

 

 

'Why does Sehun hate me?'

'Sehun? Why would he hate you?' Chanyeol's eyes bulge in surprise.

'That's what I'm asking.' Baekhyun sighs. 'He just seemed really guarded yesterday during lunch.'

 

They ran into each other in front of the university after class – stratch that, Baekhyun actually waited for half an hour. He is lucky Chanyeol's height is so noticeable in the middle of a crowd – and were walking together to the next bus stop.

 

'I guess he is just a bit protective of me.' He brunette shrugs. 'Protective? For what reasons?'

 

This time Chanyeol makes a pause before answering, looking a bit embarrassed.

'I don't know if you noticed but I'm a little socially awkward, and it happened that people were slighly judgmental. Whatever, Sehun seems to care about it more than I do to be honest.'

'But why did he seem supicous of me and not of Minseok or Jongdae?' Baekhyun continues. 'I-I'm not sure... He might have heard about you...'

'From whom?! I'm irreprochable to the eyes of this school!' The shorter takes offence. He may be a little... alternative during his free time but hey, he worked hard to blend in the student life!

'Who knows?' By now Chanyeol is looking everywhere but at him. That for sure raises the other's suspicion.

'You told him something about me, didn't you?' Baekhyun squints his eyes and raises his face to meet his classmate's gaze.

'What? No! I mean, what is there to say, right?' He laughs nervously with wide arm gestures. 'Come on man, tell me!' The brown-haired man whines.

'No, there is nothing!' Chanyeol exclaims. He would almost seem convincing if his ears had not turned pink.

'Fine I'll drop the subject for now. Do you want to... come to my place? I'd show you the game I was talking about last night.' Baekhyun uncertainly asks. He does not want to scare the other off.

'Well thanks but I'll take a rain check today, my shift begins in two hours and I've homeworks to do before that so... Oh here is my bus! See you Baekhyun!' He waves him off with a large toothy- smile before rushing towards his bus.

'Alright, see you Chanyeol!' Baekhyun is not sure if the other heard his shout but at least he tried. Yes, he tried, he tells to himself, fighting against his disappointment and worries. He does his best to chase the knot in his stomach which appeared at the words “my shift” and heads to his own flat.

 

 

To: Chanyeol [11:47 PM] Hey, you still up?

 

They exchanged their kakaotalk two days ago and Baekhyun already established the – clingy – ritual of texting the other before going to sleep. Just when he is about to give up and switch off his phone, the notification light finally appears.

 

From: Chanyeol [12:02 AM]

My shift just ended but YOU mister should be asleep by now!!

Bossy, Baekhyun grins to his phone. To: Chanyeol [12:03 AM]

Well, I may or may not have stayed up to unblock level 154 in LoL ^^'

 

From: Chanyeol [12:05 AM]

Omg Byun Baekhyun Jongdae was right you ARE a geek!!

 

To: Chanyeol [12:06 AM]

Hey I'm not the one who quotes Deadpool and the Avengers movies all day long!

 

From: Chanyeol [12:08 AM]

.. Fair enough

 

Is it the end of the conversation? Should he say something else? Baekhyun feels like a teenager worrying about silly thing like... Basic communication.

 

From: Chanyeol [12:13 AM] Jongin says hi btw

 

To: Chanyeol [12:14 AM] Oh hi to him too!!

 

From: Chanyeol [12:15 AM]

He doesn't like the fact we're talking, but at least he's grateful that u helped me that day, so he tolerates

 

To: Chanyeol [12:16 AM]

Remind me: who is the hyung between the two of you :p?

 

From: Chanyeol [12:18 AM] haha -.-

 

To: Chanyeol [12:20 AM]

hey, yesterday I realised I didn't know about you being a major in social welfare. I didn't get everything you said to Min and Dae about your plans, would you mind sharing it with me?

 

From: Chanyeol [12:26 AM]

sure, anytime. But tbh I'm dead tired rn, so let's talk about it later?

 

To: Chanyeol [12:27 AM]

Yeah yeah of course, sorry. Sleep tight! ^^

 

From: Chanyeol [12:28 AM] Good night Baek ^^

 

Baekhyun stays still for a few seconds, his eyes glued to the screen. Baek. It would be a lie to say he did not like the sound of that. A soft smile addressed to nobody blooms on his mouth. Time to go to sleep.

 

 

As days go by, they get to become closer. Chanyeol and Sehun gradually blend in their trio, and soon enough Baekhyun does not need to ask the two friends to join them anymore.

'It's just so we can increase the average height of this group, right?' Sehun sassed one time. The kick Jongdae gave him in the shin prevented him from doing this joke ever again.

Speaking of the tall bean, Baekhyun is still the target of a suspicous glare from time to time, but overall he seemed to get used to the political student, or at least he was less wary of him.

 

 

At the release of “Bohemian Rhapsody” they were all dragged by an over-excited Chanyeol to the cinema. That was... Very enlightening to say the least.

The film was great, but Baekhyun must admit he spent his time glancing to the seat next to his, Chanyeol's reactions being quite entertaining. The student got to see his new friend in multiple states: overjoyed, a huge smile lightening his whole face and his hands clapping the infortunate thighs of the people the closest to him. Baekhyun understands now why Sehun insisted to sit as far as possible from Chanyeol. The intensity with which he gripped his seat during the concerts scenes. The way he sniffled at the end, his big eyes rimmed with red. And the aftermath... Oh god. The brunette could not stop blaring Queen all day long. He even dragged Baekhyun in the music club after class. He spent days by his side, pretending to work but one of his eye watching him learn how to play Another One Bites the Dust with the bass.

Baekhyun discovered that Chanyeol is quite spontaneous, that he likes to organise impromptu outings, he is an “outdoors sort of nerd” as Jongdae says. And weirdly enough it's him, the known “homebody” that humours him the most.

 

However, no matter how much time they spend together, Chanyeol is on the defensive with him. It is always a hard blow when he sees how relax he is with their three other friends. How he would snuggle into Minseok's neck, how loud he would laugh at Jongdae's jokes, or how conniving he was with Sehun. A few grunts, nodding of the head and movements of the eyes and they seemed to hold a very detailed conversation.

Baekhyun does not think it is intentional, but somehow he always finds himself as the “fifth number”. The one with no opposite person when they were at the coffee house or at the barbecue.

He sees how the brunette restrains his gestures when he laughs with him, how he makes sure to be at a certain distance from him when they play video games at Baekhyun's flat.

He does his best to make Chanyeol comfortable but he guesses it is not very effective. He tries to not be too pushy, to let Chanyeol his personal space – even when the latter gladly invades other's – and to be patient. It's already a victory in itself that Chanyeol asks him to join him in his little excursions and that he accepted to go to his flat.

He just misses the touches and the feeling of being comfortable around each others.

 

 

'Why are you so defensive around me?'

They are at the music club room again. It's empty and the sun set several hours ago. One of Chanyeol's clients cancelled his appointment so he does not have to be at Elyxion before nine o'clock. Chanyeol has been elated to know that Baekhyun could play the piano and they have been rehearsing Bohemian Rhapsody for an hour. Baekhyun at the piano and Chanyeol at the guitar. The budding musician raises his eyes from said guitar, cut in the middle of his part.

He does not even pretend to not know what Baekhyun is talking about.

'Well, you're my ex-client. And I know you're a nice guy, but you still used to pay to put your cock in my ass.'

Baekhyun does not get it, how this giant puppy could be blushing about asking for a pen but could talk about crude things without flinching.

'Perhaps...' The shorter tries. He has been wanting to acknowledge the elephant in the room for weeks but now he is not even sure about what to say. 'We know each other too intimately as bodies but not enough as persons. Not gonna lie, I'm curious about you. You're a bit of mystery and I have many questions I don't dare to ask.'

'You have many sides that I don't understand either!' Chanyeol suddenly bursts. He does not look mad, just a little frustrated. 'From one side you act all suave in Armani suits and from the other you come to college with a “Proud coachpotato” sweater. Sometimes you act like a dork and then you turn all contemplative and serious. It's like you play the moodmaker to blend in, but that it's nothing more than an act, a scheme for people not to discover who you truly are. Am I wrong?'

 

Well, not entirely wrong, no. Baekhyun swallows nervously, squirming on the piano stool. Chanyeol stands up, puts the guitar at its place and comes closer to the piano, stopping just in front of him. Their feet almost touch. The brunette hovers over him but his voice turned soft.

'You don't dare to ask what you want to know? Well, I do: why do you hide how wealthy you are? Why does none of your friends know about your habit to go to gay clubs and brothels? Who do you pretend to be?'

'So... I'm the one who has to tell his story first?' Baekhyun chuckles nervously, his head backwards to meet the other's eyes.

'You think your sob story is worth mine?' The taller teases.

 

'You son of a bitch!' 'Well that's just a plain fact, try something else.'

 

'Well, I guess not.'

If the words he heard from him are true, Chanyeol's story is certainly more complicated than his. The other sits next to him on the piano stool, his attention entirely focused on the brown-haired man.

 

Baekhyun breathes in. He never told it to anyone. At last, he never needed to draw up a review of the past twenty-two years, the people the closest to him witnessed it, had bits after bits of the story as years went by. His friend nudges him gently.

'I'd like to tell you to take your time but I only have forty minutes left. If you're not ready you can tell me later.'

'No it's okay. I'm the one who brought the subject anyway, and it won't be easier later. So... here goes nothing.

 

It's a typical rich kid story I guess, quite clichee. My father... His name is Byun Haebom, he's the Principal Private Secretary of the Prime Minister. Before that he has done a lot of stuffs but he mainly was the ambassador to China. We lived in Beijing for like, ten years or so.'

'Oh so you speak Chinese?' Chanyeol cuts him excitedly.

'Well, I received a South Korean education, but I'm rather fluent in Mandarin and I know a few sentences in Cantonese.' He quite smugly explains.

'So yeah, he is pretty big on politics. And the kind of man who cannot comprehend or accept the term “failure”. We've never been close, you see my older brother has always been more successful, more gifted than me so I guess that's why he didn't bother paying me too much attention.

Apart from that it was okay, my mother and brother are great people and we get along well. But it's the other rich kids that I never stood. For a long time I've been tricked, I genuiely thought that they approached me because they wanted to be friends, but every time it was because of my father. Parents can be awful about it, deciding who their children would hang out with in order to create connections with other powerful families. Even my father wanted me to become friends with some sons of ministers and business people. It's all facade, and the only friend I had for a long time was a family friend, he is a bit like my second brother.

I guess the most pitiful part happened when I fall for someone because of it. It's so stupid really...'

 

He groans, his face buried in his hands. He can feel the brunette hesitating, before finally rubbing his back.

'It's okay Baek, I won't judge. I can hardly judge anyone.'

After a few seconds, Baekhyun straightens up. It doesn't hurt me anymore he tries to convince himself.

 

'His name was Lee Junki. I was seventeen at that time, and he was twenty one. He didn't have any link with the school at all, I met him by chance in a cafe. The place was crowded so he asked if he could sit with me, I said yes, we talked and that's it. He was just... A normal dude, working in a convenience store who liked prawns and going to the cinema. He had no idea about the best investments to make with Japan nor the ropes of geopolitics it was so refreshing, so new. I thought “that's it, I finally have the opportunity to make a real genuine friend!”

We would hang out twice a week, and weeks after weeks I began to notice how attractive he was. I finally understood why it never lasted with the few girls I dated. He had a delicate face and cat eyes. He was nice and funny, attentive. I was disappointed he only saw me as a younger brother but it didn't deter me.

The thing is... I talked about my family and confessed only two days after, suddenly our friendship was overloaded with too many changes. I should have seen it in the way he responded to my confession. Confused but pleased, like a nice bonus he was not expecting. I must admit, he had been smart about it.

Nothing much changed at first, we were holding hands when it was dark enough. Suddenly he wanted to see where I lived and would walk me home. Then he began to complain about how hard it was for him financially speaking. He would protest when I paid for our dates, saying he wanted to treat his boyfriend too. After a while he stopped protesting and I didn't notice, it was only dinners and cinema tickets after all. He talked about how he regretted not having the opportunity to go to college, that if he had money he would invest it in a marketing degree. I thought it was a great idea and offered to help him. Of course, like the dates he argued that he could do it by himself, that he didn't feel allowed to ask that from me. Bullshit.

Fifty thousands wons here, three hundred thousands wons there, I didn't even notice. He was so charming. He was my first love, our relationship stayed quite chaste because he said he didn't want to “rush things”, but still. Finally kissing was not gross to me, I came to enjoy making out a bit too much, I felt so alive with him.

Until after three months, when I was sooo into it, so ready to drop the “I love you”, I heard him on the phone. He was waiting seated on a bench, and I wanted to surprise him so I approached him from behind silently, and then,

'Yes, got a “date” with the rich kid I'm seeing. […] Yeah, me neither! But at least he is loaded so I don't mind acting a little gay.'

The world crumbled. Yeah, this guy didn't befriend me because of my parents, but he still used me for money and it sucked so much. All my illusions about having a healthy, normal relationship shattered.

Honestly I just wanted to crawl under my quilt and cry for days, but instead I manned up, carried my balls, and broke his nose. I guess he didn't expect it from a “kid” like me. The way he stared at me blankly, his phone in one hand and his bloody nose in the other... Worthed it.

So when I entered SNU I decided I never wanted to live this anymore. That if I wanted genuine friendships I had to “blend in” like you said, and I just pretend to be a regular student, nobody knows my father nor how loaded he is and it's perfect.'

 

They stay silent a moment before Chanyeol asks with a soothing voice, 'But you've known Minseok and Jongdae for almost four years, don't you think you could tell them?'

Baekhyun sighs at that. 'I know they are nothing like the people I knew back then but... I'm just really scared. Money does change people. Junki wasn't like that before I told him I was wealthy. And it's been so long... They could resent me for not telling them sooner.'

'It won't get better the more you wait, you know. Plus, you told me!' He did not notice sooner, but the brunette has put a comforting arm on his shoulder. A welcomed warmth to be honest.

'That's because you saw my “rich kid” self, otherwise I would have told you on my deathbed!' The shorter scoffs.

'Well, I agree it was indeed a clichee rich guy story. I give you a B+ for the pathos and insecurity.' Chanyeol teases, earning a punch in the ribs and a falsely hurt “How dare you, brat!”. His giggling dies down and he adds with a solemn tone, 'But seriously Baekhyun, thank you for sharing this with me. It means a lot. I still don't understand why you need to go to clubs, books prostitutes and all but it will do for now.'

Baekhyun exhales a noisy sigh.

'Forget it, I'm not out of the closet for most people I know, and what can I say? To doll myself up and pick up guys in classy clubs is my guilty pleasure. As for Elyxion... I never thought about doing that before... Before I saw you. It was the only time. I swear.'

'So people don't know you're gay?' Chanyeol frowns, pretending he was not slightly blushing from Baekhyun's previous words.

'Well, my brother and the old family friend I mentionned before know. Unfortunately I think my father knows as well. One time that Junki brought me back home he was behind the door. He never acknowledged anything, but the disappointed way he looks at me is now tinted with a delicate touch of disgust...' He bitterly mocks.

The frown on Chanyeol's face intensifies. 'You know, for someone who claims he wanted genuine relationships, you hide an awful lot from your friends! Are you that afraid of rejection?'

'Can we talk about something else?' He is irritated now, great. Such a nice topic of discussion.

The sharp tone seems to deflate Chanyeol's boom of confidence, in no time he is back to his shyer self, fumbling with his hands and hesitating words coming out of his mouth. 'Sure, sorry. I didn't want to sound rude. It's just... I think you're a great guy Baekhyun. With or without the fancy suits. You're handsome, smart, funny, it's not fair you don't let people see it completely. I know it's still difficult to come out in this coutry, but I'm sure that if you made it more obvious that you're gay, guys would be queuing to take you on dates.'

'Would you?' He lets it slip and immediately bites his lips punishingly by way of retaliation. Smooth Baek, really smooth.

Chanyeol's soft smile is wiped off his face. 'I gotta go. I'm really gonna be late.'

He does not stop him, does not apologise, does not say it was a joke or a misunderstanding. Baekhyun just watches him gather his thing and wave him off.

Once the taller gone, he leans on the piano and sighs for what seems the millionth time today.

 

Baekhyun had no torturous doubts, he never tried to deny his feelings. Maybe he had a slight epiphany the first time Park Chanyeol really smiled to him, but that's it. It has not been difficult to get to like Chanyeol and he did not cower from it. He just accepts it and lets his thoughts wander about it from time to time. What ifs. But it is too soon to begin to court Chanyeol, their situation is too peculiar. He has to give time to their friendship, to earn the taller's trust. Then he could try to imply something else.

 

 

What if. What if he never went to Elyxion, and one day decided to ask about something he did not understand to the tall nerd of the class since Minseok said that they “know him and he'll be cool about it”. Would he have sensed it? Would the way Chanyeol scrunches his nose have torn him apart? Would he have been attracted to those large orbs at first sight like he has been with Pan? Or would it have taken more time... They would have become friends and one day, while Chanyeol is carefreely laughing with ice cream melting on his dimple, Baekhyun would have given in and kissed the ice cream away.

 

 

He knows Pan's red shades. The passion, crimson curtains and passionate embraces. He knows Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat and whimpers of desire, tired pants. He knows the scratches on a burning skin. He knows the fire that suffocates his entrails and guides him in the night. He knows closed room, incense and asphyxia. He knows the forbidden, the hidden shadows, the contrast of extravagant clothes on a pale skin. He knows the aether, loud sounds coming from the inside, the rhythm of an unruly heart and the feeling of being out his body. He revered the red, sold his soul for it.

 

But now he wants to be acquainted with the lilac shades. It does not matter if he does not understand the meaning behind every secret smile, he just wants to marvel at them forever. He wants to learn how to play the guitar, leaning on a warm body who shows him how to hold the neck. He wants Way Back Home by Shaun, fingers linked under the table and cuddles in front of the TV. He craves for fresh air and weekends at the beach, for boisterous laughters rebonding on the sparkling water and foam trapped in messy black hair. He wants hiccups of adoration and heart squeezing out of fondness. He wants questioning gazes and opened rosy lips. He wants to coo at Chanyeol's antics as the latter is blushing until his face hurts so much it makes him cry. He longs for confessions under the blankets and an unwavering trust. He wants to remove peels after peels out of Chanyeol's heart to dive in its core. He craves the unattainable lilac he wishes he could cherish.

 

He definitely grew way too soft for gangly limbs and awkward smiles.

 

 

Nothing changed the next day. Neither the storytelling nor the slip seemed to have a fateful impact. If anything, the only noticeable gesture was a brush of shoulders Chanyeol did not scare away from.

And somebody else noticed it.

 

'You're gay, right?' Minseok casually asks him at the end of lunch break.

That. Is unexpected. He nearly gets a whiplash at his friend's words, staring at him like a deer caught in headlights.

'What...' Baekhyun is doing his best not to choke on his dessert. 'What makes you say that?!'

There is only the two of them and he knows they are out of earshot, but it does not make him less anxious. His heart is beating crazily and he can already feel drops of cold sweat forming on his back.

'You never look at the girls but you check men's butts sometimes – not as subtly as you think it is by the way – and... I don't know I guess I always sensed it, in a way.'

Baekhyun takes a deep breath, ready to ask the question that twists his bowels, 'And you're okay with this?'

'Not my business who you fantasise about.' The older shrugs, as if he just did not drive his friend to the edge of a heart attack.

That is comforting for sure, and it calms him a little. However another thought comes to his mind, one that he might dread even more, 'Does Jongdae know?'

'Not sure...' Minseok hums thoughtfully. 'I think he has suspicions. You know him, he is too deep into vaginas and a bit uncomfortable with relationships between people of the same gender, but if you talk about it to him I guess he'll just awkwardly pat your shoulder in a way that screams “No homo bro!” but that actually means “I don't care I still love you dude.”… Gosh, wait Baekhyun, don't cry!!'

Minseok's alarmed shout makes him realise there are indeed tears falling on his cheeks that he hurries to wipe. His friend moved to his side, placing a protective arm around him. Baekhyun is a bit ashamed by his behaviour, but the look in Minseok's eyes is nothing but patient and void of judgment. When he trusts his voice not to crack, he tentatively explains, 'It's just... I trust you guys but I didn't want to make things weird between us, I wasn't sure how you'd react...'

'What did you think we'd do? Throw stones at you? Really there's nothing worth crying over.' The older shushes him.

He gives out a strangled laughter in return, 'I know, I'm just relieved that's all.'

'Well, now that it's cleared and that we're past the emotional part, let's talk about what I really wanted to ask: are you serious about Chanyeol, is there a little geeky romance blooming? Or are you just after his ass?'

Minseok has always been quite straight-forward but seriously what has gotten into him today?!

'A blooming romance?' Baekhyun splutters 'Don't know about it, that would imply it could be two sided.'

His friend stares at him for a few seconds as he can feel his whole face slowly heating up in discomfort.

'At least you're not trying to deny, that's good.'

'What is there to deny dude, I can feel it when I blush you know...' He mumbles, looking away. 'So you admit you like him?' The other insists, a mischievous light in his eyes.

'I guess I do.' He finally sighs, 'But the way he stays at arm distance from me gives it away, he doesn't.' His tone is firm, he knows better than to let himself have hope.

However his friend sounds doubtful. 'I don't know... It's true he seems a bit wary of you, but at the same time he stares at you with such an intense gaze when you're talking to someone else, it's confusing. In fact I think you should go after him, test the waters a bit and bim!' He bangs his fist on the table, attracting other tables' attention. 'Sweep him off his feet!'

He indeed has great friends, Baekhyun thinks as the older continues to talk with such a supportive enthusiasm.

If Minseok knew how complicated it truly was...

 

 

'Chanyeol's birthday is next week,' Sehun says one day as he sits at their table, 'so you're invited at my place guys. Usually it's only the two of us but this year I thought we could do a sort of small surprise birthday party.'

'Sure, when do you want to do this?' Minseok asks. 'Next Sunday around noon.'

'That's not a party, that's lunch.' Jondgae scrunches his nose in distaste.

'Well he has his part-time job at the hotel most evenings, so he isn't available any other time.' Sehun retorts with a deadpan expression.

Hotel, sure. That's how he explains the fact he is busy every night.

'Who do you plan to invite?' Baekhyun diverts the subject.

'There will be us,' The taller counts, 'a friend of mine he gets along with, and I'll try to get in touch with his friend Sooyoung, see if she can come. So normally we'll be seven.'

'Any ideas about what to do? What to eat? Decorations?' Baekhyun can see the machinery of Jongdae's brain in action, excited by the prospect of a party no matter how small it is.

'You know what, I already welcome you in my home,' Sehun dramatically accentuates, 'I think you can take care of the rest.'

'What?!' Jongdae protests, 'But you know him better and it's your idea, it's not fair that we have to do everything!'

'Oh no, he's coming. I guess it's settled then!' The brat sighs happily. '... Yeol, over here!'

 

 

It's a miracle Chanyeol remains gullible, because according to Baekhyun nothing is more suspicious than their behaviour for the past ten days. From the interrupted conversations when he is nearby to the “But what do you really want to have these days Chan?” he thinks that even the baristas at their favourite cafe understood what they were planning.

It did not went without some frictions, but finally they are ready at 11:49am in Sehun's flat decorated with Deadpool banners and balloons, and a cake in the fridge with a weirdass Nick Wilde as frosting.

'It looks more like the poop emoji than a fox' Jongdae commented, to what he hissed back 'Well why didn't you draw it then?'

 

The doorbell rings and they all begin to hide, when they hear a voice which does not sound like Chanyeol's at all, 'It's me guys, open up!'

Sehun opens the flat to Joy, or rather Sooyoung, and Baekhyun can sense Jondgae gasps by his side. Of course she is gorgeous, but she looks so tired and dishevelled that it worries Baekhyun a little. Her gaze surveys the room and falls on him. The intensity of her stare makes him wonder how much she knows. Certainly a lot. Fortunately she seems more curious than hostile, so Chanyeol might have not spent his time cursing him with his friends. She lightly bows 'Hi Baekhyun oppa', to what he bows back.

'You know her?!' Jongdae whisper-shouts at him, a firm grip on his arm and a look in the eyes which clearly states You better introduce me to her dude!

'A little.' He vaguely answers, trying to escape his friend's steel grip.

'Guys this is Sooyoung, a friend of Chanyeol, Sooyoung these are Minseok, Baekhyun, Jongdae and Taewoo!'

 

Nice to meet yous are exchanged and Baekhyun uses a second of distraction to approach Sooyoung as she pours herself a glass of juice.

'Hey, is everything alright? You seem exhausted.' He asks cautiously.

'Tiffany eloped.' She drops without a care, like Baekhyun was part of Elyxion's staff and entitled to know these kind of information. She drinks her juice as if it was a shot of tequila, and her grimace gives away that she would have preferred it to be a real shot.

She continues, not even looking at him, her eyes busy searching for an alcoholic beverage, 'All hell broke loose, never seen Yesung so pissed before. Gotta hire another girl but we have to cover her shifts for now, it's exhausting. It went until dawn, I only slept four hours before coming. Why does Sehun live damn far from Itaewon...' She sighs, before her eyes light up when they catch sight of a bottle of soju.

Then knocks on the door are heard and they hide again behind the only couch Sehun has.

 

 

The look of surprise on Chanyeol's face is priceless, Baekhyun cannot prevent himself from finding his dumbfounded eyes cute. Soon enough he is grinning madly but his unfocused gaze betrays the same exhaustion Joy must feel. He has a good laugh at Baekhyun's decoration of the cake and he enjoys the banners very much.

'Truthfully Baekhyun invested himself a lot,' Minseok grins, effectively attracting the attention of everyone, 'he was the one to come with the ideas of a Marvel theme, he trained himself to frost cakes for days, and the joint gift was also his idea.'

'Yeah so if you don't like it he's the guy to blame.' Jongdae adds. Baekhyun can feel the taller's big brown eyes on him, filled with curiosity. 'Really, you did all that?' He asks with a soft voice, apparently touched.

'No big deal.' Baekhyun shrugs, doing his best to appear detached while Minseok is oh so not subtly

winking at him.

'And I'm the host. You're welcome.' Sehun does not forget to boast.

'Yeah sure how could we not mention it.' Chanyeol ruffles his friend's hair with the right amount of both irony and affection. 'So, there is a gift you said?' And here he is excited again.

 

This is how Baekhyun wants to remember him. With sparkles in his eyes, a crooked party hat on his head, sat down on the carpet, his big limbs taking all the space but with a childish smile as he delicately unpacks his present. It's like they are celebrating his twelfth birthday and not his twenty- second but nobody cares as long as the birthday boy does not lose his mirthful behaviour.

He takes a lot of pictures. Always discreetly, always standing a bit apart, turning into a paparazzo. Chanyeol with his gift, blowing his candles, messing with the already messed up Zootopia frosting, laughing with Sehun, frowning and dead determined to win every game he could. He is a competitive ass. Maybe he will print these pictures as a decoration for a future birthday, and once again Baekhyun catches himself making plans. Picturing a future where he is by Chanyeol's side, as a friend of whatever. He wants it, so much.

 

 

'Thank you...' Chanyeol softly says to him as they are all getting dressed to leave Sehun's flat. 'I know I talk about music a lot, but the fact that you remembered and managed to find that vinyl... I tried to buy it myself but it was so difficult to find and when I could it was expensive. It means a lot that you suggested it as a joint gift.'

Well, he did spend hours on ebay in the middle of the night to find this rare and limited edition, but Chanyeol's cry of joy was worth it.

'Don't thank me yet,' he playfully kicks the other's ribs. 'I have something else for you. Do you have time to pass by my apartment? It's not a big detour from Itaewon.'

 

'Yeah sure, it's my night off of this week, let me just warn Sooyoung I won't go back home with her.'

 

A few minutes later they all head to different directions and it's only the two of them, Baekhyun can finally asks something which itched him the whole afternoon, 'You okay? Joy told me about Tiffany...'

Chanyeol's head turns so fast he fears a whiplash for the other. 'What? She shouldn't have!' He cries in disapproval, frowning.

'Too bad, she did. But why did Joy use the term “elope”?'

'She said that?' Chanyeol seems a bit surprised. He hesitates for a few seconds, sighs and lets his gossip side get the best of him. 'Well it's because she left without telling anyone. She just hugged each of us really tight on Friday night before going to sleep, and yesterday morning she had disappeared. Should have seen that coming... Anyway we suppose she left with one of her clients, we all suspected they were in love...'

'With the blond girl, Taeyeon?' Baekhyun asks, interested.

'Wow, you do know your way around Elyxion. Nothing is certain though, I just wish her the best. It's simply... an unfortunate event for business. She had loyal clients.' He sighs again, visibly sad at the outcome of events. 'Truthfully everyone is on edge, I'm not in a rush to go home.'

 

Home. It is the second time he hears Chanyeol use this word to describe the brothel and it makes him more curious than ever about the younger's attachment to Elyxion.

 

'Well, I offer you a shelter for the night in exchange of your story.' It's a shot in the dark but at least he is trying.

'Easy tiger,' Chanyeol laughs it off, 'Let's get this cool present you were talking about first, we'll see after.'

 

There is something about the fact that Chanyeol does not waste his time to remove his shoes and to drop his coat on the coach that warms his heart a bit. He knows his way around and seems so at ease in the political science student's flat, just like he was in Sehun's.

'Please sit down and close your eyes, I'll fetch it.' He requests.

The taller docilely sits on the edge of the couch, but when Baekhyun looks back at him he catches him with one eye still open and following him.

'No peeping!' Baekhyun scolds, to what Chanyeol complies with a mischievous chuckle.

 

He knows his friend will enjoy his present, but he still fears the other's reaction. Is it too much, will it make him uncomfortable? The packet is quite heavy in his arms, and he comes closer to the taller cautiously.

Chanyeol bats his eyelashes, focusing slowly on Baekhyun until his eyes buldge at the sight of the packet. Even wrapped, its form betrays it right away, so he carefully takes the present, mute but his gaze clearly expressing his astonishment. When he opens the guitar case he stays stunned. The more he remains speechless, the more Baekhyun grows restless.

'They hadn't the brand you like for the amplifier, so I thought I could buy it later and deliver it to your address. In the meantime you can still bring it to school and use the amp of the music –'

 

All air leave his lungs as he is tackled on the ground, firmly held by a tight embrace.

'Thank you Baekhyun, thank you so much...' Chanyeol fervently whispers in his neck. Baekhyun pats his back soothingly, abandoning himself in this welcomed cuddle, until he feels his skin getting wet.

'Oh my god Chan, please don't cry!' He turns his head to try to see his friend obstinately hidden in his neck.

Eventually he raises his head orned with an ugly face which makes you doubt whether he is crying or laughing. 'Sorry, it's just... It's the best gift I ever had!'

 

'I'm glad you like it then.' Baekhyun gently runs his hand in the other's hair, a soft smile adorning his lips.

'Of course I do!' Chanyeol retorts with an offended tone, as if he was suspected of not fully appreciate his gift. He straightens up, leaving Baekhyun cold and lying on the floor, and goes back to reverently hold the replica of the electric guitar of hide, the late Japan X's guitarist. 'Look at her, she's beautiful.' The taller begins to tune it, but without an amplifier it does not sound much. Baekhyun contemplates the brunette with a pleased expression while the other contemplates the instrument between his arms, until the latter turns to him, eyes bright and sincere. 'Really Baekhyun, it's awesome. I want to protest that it's too much but at the same time I want to keep it so...' He laughs merrily. 'It's fortunate that my room is isolated, the others would curse me to no end, they're already sick of Coco sometimes, you know my accoustic guitar, so a babe like this... They would go crazy!'

'What do you mean, your room is isolated?' Baekhyun asks, frowning.

'Well, the others sleep in the bedroom they receive their customers in. I'm the only one to have a private bedroom...'

'Privilege of being the number one?' He teases.

'Not really, I just had it a long time ago and Yesung authorised me to keep it, it's complicated.' He sighs.

'Alright.' It would be a lie to pretend Baekhyun was not curious, but he does not want to scare the other off with his questions.

'Why did you offer me that though? Not that I'm complaining, but it's a very fancy gift for people who haven't been friend for a long time.'

'You are the only one with a fair idea of the numbers of my bank account, I couldn't fake that I can't buy you something like this.' He shrugs. I just wanted to spoil you a little, offer you something you could cherish and remember me by. Is what he really wants to say, but again he tiptoes around the boundaries of their relation.

Chanyeol seems suspicious but he eventually drops the subject. 'I can't wait to bring it to school and try it!' He smiles brightly.

 

The night finally fell, Baekhyun goes to close the curtains. 'It's raining.' He observes absent- mindedly.

'Oh damn, is it?' The other curses. 'I didn't bring an umbrella.'

'You can stay a little, how does Thaï sound for you?' His friend offers.

'You'd order takeout with this weather?!' Chanyeol gasps horrified. 'You have no pity for the poor delivery guy! Let's see if I can do something with what your cupboards have.' He stands up and walks towards the kitchen.

'Good luck with that.' The owner snorts. Amused he leans his elbows on the kitchen counter as the other rummages through his kitchen, looking pretty defeated.

'Well... I guess it will be fried rice for tonight.' The taller sighs in renunciation.

'If you manage to do this much with the little I have I'll be impressed, not gonna lie.' He teases. It does not take more to light up flames in Chanyeol's gaze. 'Challenge accepted!'

 

Baekhyun sits down on a stool, Chanyeol takes the frying pan and they start to chatter about anything under the sun, the simmering oil as background noise. A question arises about their previous sociology lessons and here they are, half cooking half doing their homeworks. As Chanyeol tilts his head mere centimeters from his to show him something on a copy, Baekhyun forces himself to not think about how domestic it all looks. He rejoices in the intimacy and closeness while it lasts.

Chanyeol is delighted to see he bought the Deadpool 2 DVD so they take place in front of the TV with their plates. A risky iniative, Chanyeol's enthusiasm is always bad news for breakable items as well as for his thighs and shoulders, but he does not dare to refrain him and just tries to avoid what will surely transform as blows.

 

At the end of the movie, as Chanyeol cleans their mess he goes to the window to check on the weather.

'It doesn't seem like it will stop raining any time soon...' He frowns, 'I can lend you my umbrella if you want.'

'And take the risk that this baby goes wet?' Chanyeol protests, protectively hugging his new guitar. After a few seconds, he stiffens a bit. Baekhyun carefully watches as the other fumbles with his fingers, a light blush on his cheeks. Finally he dares to ask, 'Does... Does your offer to let me stay tonight still stand...?'

'Of course!' Baekhyun hurriedly answers. The mood shifts a little, suddenly they both seem shyer and more embarrassed than they should be. 'It's only nine o'clock, do you want to watch another movie?'

'Well, I'm pretty tired from last night, I wouldn't mind going to bed if it's not a bother.' Chanyeol softly says, scratching his head to hide his discomfort.

'Not at all! You know where the bathroom is, I'll fetch you something to sleep in. Normally there is an unused toothbrush in the cupboard as well as a clean towel. Make yourself at home!' He shouts as he rushes to his bedroom, cleaning it as fast as he can, throwing everything under the bed.

His hands shake a little. Chanyeol is going to sleep here. Just the thought of the taller man's presence in his room makes him nervous as hell. Be cool Byun, it's just a sleep over between friends.

He manages to find an old t-shirt belonging to Baekbeom and a pair of tracksuit trousers a bit distorted that could do the trick for Chanyeol's bigger frame. Fortunately the taller is still brushing his teeth with the door ajar, saving him the embarrassment of knocking on the door without knowing whether the other is naked or not.

 

 

From: Min [6:10 PM]

Sooo you invited Chan to your place or what? (¬‿¬)

 

To: Min [9:06 PM]

He's still there actually

 

From: Min [9:07 PM]

...What?????! It's been hours, what have dONE??? (⊙…⊙ )

To: Min [9:08 PM]

Nothing, we just watched a movie ^^' It's raining too much for him to leave anyway

 

To: Min [9:08 PM]

Hes done with the shower gtg, see u tmrw

 

From: Min [9:09 PM] THE SHOWER????

 

But his friend is left unread, Baekhyun is too absorbed by the sight in front of him. The pyjamas are a bit too small for Chanyeol, nonetheless he does not look ridiculous in it. He looks rather like a treat, all tightly hugged and shape highlightened, the clothes letting nothing to the imagination.

Chanyeol looks elsewhere with a whisper 'You can go now.' Baekhyun flushes when he realises the has been caught checking him out so blatantly, and hurries to take his turn to the bathroom. A cold shower is well deserved...

 

When he exits the bathroom, he sees Chanyeol lying on the couch staring into space, lost in his thoughts.

'What are you doing here?' He frowns. 'Take my bed if you want to sleep, you're the guest after all.' He firmly cuts Chanyeol's noises of protest with a stern gaze, 'No arguments.'

He does not remember if the taller ever entered his room, probably not if the way he is checking everything is any clue.

It's rather quick, his bedroom is quite void and unpersonal compared to Chanyeol's. No pictures on the wall, no posters, just his bed, the desk and a wardrobe. You really don't give anything away, do you he can almost hear the other joke. But the thing is, since he asked to stay Chanyeol did not utter more than ten words, nor did he look at him more than five seconds.

The atmosphere is too uncomfortable to bear.

 

'Well, I put some blankets on the desk chair if you're too cold. Good night.' He awkwardly says, ready to leave the room.

He is stopped by a grip on his sleeve. Surprised, he turns to a blushing Chanyeol. The latter is looking at the blankets, clearly ill at ease, 'I don't take that much space, the two of us can sleep there. Moreover we agreed I'll tell you my story in exchange of a shelter, didn't we?' He shyly mumbles.

Slowly, Baekhyun sits on the edge of the bed, 'You don't have to.'

The other raises his head, a determined glint in his eyes, 'But I want to. Well, I'm not really enjoying relating it, there is nothing I'm proud of, however... You told me yours, you try your best to make me feel comfortable, and after everything you've done today... You always do so much for this friendship to work, I have to play my part as well...'

He leans on the headboard and wraps his arms around his legs.

They stay quiet for a minute, nobody dares to break the intimate silence. Eventually, Chanyeol takes a deep breath and starts,

 

'So you see, prostitution is kind of a running business in the family.' He chuckles nervously, 'My mother, well she started working at Elyxion twenty-five years ago when she was only seventeen. The most I learnt about her was from Sunmi-noona and Yesung-hyung. She was noona's best friend and hyung's mentor, a couple of years older than them.'

 

He sees the way Baekhyun's eyes widen in surprise.

 

'Yes, Yesung-hyung had been a prostitute for years before taking over the business seven years ago. In any case, she was twenty when she got pregnant. She never said from whom. Sunmi-noona said that she was seeing someone around that time, but nobody is sure whether I'm the fruit of a short- lived romance, or only the offspring of some client. Apparently using protection wasn't so important in the nineties.

Anyway, she took a break from the business when her pregnancy became too evident, and gave birth to yours truly somewhere around Namyangju. There, she encountered a foster family and left me to their care when I was six months old.'

 

He gets up, goes to his coat and rummages through his wallet. He comes back with an old picture and holds it out to Baekhyun. 'There, that's her, Park Yeeun.'

Carefully, Baekhyun takes it. On the picture he can see a child, probably around six years old with a schoolbag. Large ears and big grin are even more endearing on a kid, he notices. Apparently Chanyeol was quite a chubby child but he looks adorable, all calm and smiley. He stands straight next to a beautiful woman kneeled by his side, both of them looking at the camera.

She does not look like Chanyeol, he did not inherited his big eyes, wide smile and cute elfish ears from her. And yet, the more he looks at her, the more her face seems familiar. There is a certain glint in her eyes, a certain crooked smile, a mix between awkwardness and happiness. She seems to be a very sweet person.

 

'To her defense she usually visited me thrice a year and it was always a big deal. She bought me huge cuddly toys and lots of ice creams, brought me to fairs, amusement parks, we even went to the beach once. I waited for her visits with impatience since I knew we would have a lot of fun. But she never really was a mother to me, rather an absent big sister.

The Chois, they were my real family. They were the ones who would comfort me when I would fall, who would scold me when I would do something stupid. They came to every school event, chased all my nightmares, baked big cakes for my birthdays.

When I was young, I didn't have many friends. I guess people found me a bit scary, because of my ears and big mouth they used to call me “the ogre”. It went better after some time, but I spent most of my early childhood with Yoora-noona, the Chois' older daughter and by myself. I think that's  why I turned a bit nerdy, who needs toddlers when you can have cool heroes friends? I had such a huge collection of comics and mangas.' He smiles to himself, lost in his memories. 'When I began to grow taller than the other kids I thought I was becoming elastic like Luffy! I also used to be really into animals. I used to drive Haneul-ajumni crazy with the amount of wounded animals I would bring back home. I even had ferrets you know? These creatures are not as appreciated as they should be... Anyway. Yoora-noona has been my real first friend.

The Chois wanted a second child but Haneul-ajumni could not bear another pregnancy, so they gladly accepted to take care of me. You know, when I was a toddler I had trouble understanding why noona could call them appa and umma, but I needed to call them ajussi and ajumni. When they explained to me that my real mother was the pretty woman who visited me from time to time I was pissed. I have no recollection but apparently once I asked Yeeun if she could stop being my mother so I could call ajumni “umma”. Such a brat.

I think motherhood was so unexpected to her, she never knew how to take care of a child. And I resented her so much for it when... Sunmi-noona related me how excited she was to take short vacations just to see me. How anxious she was for not being enough. How hard she worked so she could pay the Chois and buy me fancy gifts. How she... she would slip meals for a day or two, to save money for my birthday. How proud she was to show pictures of me to the other prostitutes. How she kept every letters the Chois sent her about me and read them before going to bed.'

 

Chanyeol pauses for a bit, his glassy eyes unfocused. He gulps and goes on,

 

'But I didn't know all of that then. I just thought that my biological mother was too busy in the city, that she did not care enough about me to take me with her. I wanted the Chois to be my parents so bad...

Until one day I learnt the truth. Or rather, only the ugly part of it. One of my classmate came to me with his friends and cornered me after school. I think I'll always remember his sneer,

'So then your mom is a whore?' 'What are you talking about?'

'Mrs Choi said it to my mom yesterday when she came over for tea. Saying it was such a shame that a “sweet boy” like you was the son of a prostitute.'

I remember punching his face and running back to home with tears in my eyes: 'Is it true?' The Chois were so embarrassed but they didn't deny it. Soon everybody in school knew, and I lost the few friends I had. You know how immature teenagers are, being thirteen sure is a hassle. I felt so mortified. I wrote to my mother, to Yeeun that I never wanted to see her again, that I felt ashamed of being her son. She came three days after, begging to see me. I could hear her in the living room but I never opened my door.

And you know what,' he scoffs, 'for once my wish had been granted.'

 

Chanyeol closes his eyes, breathing deeply. 'I've never seen her again. She died of a heart attack two years later, because she was too busy taking care of my needs to pay for an operation which could have fixed her weak heart. I was only fifteen then. She was a good person you know.'

 

As his voice begins to crack a little and tears threaten to fall, Baekhyun throws all his doubts out of the window and takes Chanyeol's hand in his. The other does not hesitate to squeeze it. Hard.

'I agree... She really seemed so.' He says with a soft voice.

 

But it does not do much to calm Chanyeol, he writhes and lets out a short sarcastic laughter.

'And you know the worst of it? It's when the Chois came to me two weeks after the funeral to announce me that now that I was an orphan they could not foster me anymore, since there was nobody to pay my maintenance. I never felt this betrayed of my life. Foolishly I thought that now that my biological mother had passed they would adopt me. But it was quite the contrary, the people I considered as my family did not see me that way. Yoora was outraged, but their situation wasn't stable enough to sustain a forth person. Especially when she was about to go to college...

Fortunately, it's around that time that Yesung visited me. He presented himself as my late mother's friend. He had become the owner of Elyxion less than a year before, and he said that he would gladly become my guardian, since he was so close with my mother. Well, my legal guardian is Kim Heechul, his older brother. And the adress written in the administrative records is also Heechul hyung's because it's more, you know... respectable that way.

Yesung has provided me everything I needed. My private bedroom, food, clothes, tuition fees, and more importantly, a sense of belonging. The prostitutes were all fond of me and cherished me as their friend's son.

From that time, only Sunmi and Hyolyn noonas are still here as well as Hyuna. She was a newbie when I moved in here, quite far from the smart ass she is now. People quit and new ones signed up. Really, I owe hyung so much, I don't know what I'd have become without him...

But nothing is free forever, I learnt it with the Chois' horrible experience. So when three years ago the business was going bad, I offered my help. Yesung was reluctant at first since I was a virgin and all, but they needed new prostitutes and I just got accepted in SNU. I could not ask him to pay for my tuition fees and iddle in my room, you know?

Not gonna lie, it was very scary at first. Finding the right balance, how to involve your body to please the client and detach yourself from it. Very tricky. In the end I'm okay with it. Nobody finds me desirable in the real life, but when I'm Pan... Sometimes I just wish I could show this side of me to someone who cares. But well I'm just a slut.'

 

Baekhyun wants to disagree so so bad, but Chanyeol is not quite finished and he needs to let it go. 'The irony... I rejected her because I was ashamed of her job and now I'm doing the same...'

The sobs the taller has been holding back finally burst. Gently Baekhyun gathers him in his arms, placing a comforting hand on his head and directs it in the crook of his own neck, the other hand rubbing his back. Chanyeol snuggles closer. 'It's been years, I'm sorry I don't know why I react like that...'

'Sssh, it's alright. What happened to you and your mother is terrible, your feelings are perfectly legitimate, you're entitled to feel sad.'

Baekhyun does not know how long they stay like this, with Chanyeol curled up against his chest while he tries to silently comfort him with sweet strokes.

 

It's like a piece of his heart breaks at every sob Chanyeol lets out. He cannot even imagine how hard it must have been for his friend. How isolated, rejected he must have felt. Nobody deserves this, but to think that a person as sweet as Chanyeol has gone through it... It is still difficult for him to accept the idea that he willingly became a prostitute and that he considers Elyxion as his home. However it makes more sense considering his crave for belonging to a family and his constant seeking of approbation.

 

Eventually Chanyeol calms down and his breathing evens. After much hesitation and as cautiously and as he can Baekhyun ends up asking a question which torments him, 'You said you were a virgin before becoming a prostitute...' He can feel the other nod against his skin. 'So you.... Your first time was with a... a client?' God, even his tongue refuses to say this.

'Oh no!' The taller refutes, emerging from his chest. Baekhyun relaxes for a second, but he is not prepared for what comes next. 'Fortunately Yesung-hyung took care of that. He took my virginity and then taught me how to use my body and to take care of him. I was very sore at the end of the week, but at least I've been well trained.'

His hold around Chanyeol's body tightens. The sly bastard. What twisted relationship is that? Taking a lost soul under his wing, treating him like a younger brother and then selling him out, even taking advantage of the opportunity to bed him? He could be Chanyeol's father for fuck's sake! And the way the younger man is talking about it, as if it was perfectly natural, makes him wonder how much he trusts the former prostitute turned pimp, how gone is Chanyeol on Yesung.

 

There are too much information to process, that's a lot to wrap his head around. Until an unexpected move breaks his distraction.

Lips on his.

Warm, soft, wet and demanding.

He is taken aback to say the least, he stays petrified under Chanyeol's ministrations. Time has stopped. The brunette pulls back.

A thunderbolt suddenly lightens up the room, displaying in a tenth of second Chanyeol's desperate and lustful face. And Baekhyun is a weak man, he dreamt of these lips for months.

In a instant they are caught in a heavy liplock. There is too much saliva and teeth bumping but none of them cares. Chanyeol is not outdone, he aggressively graps his nape and moans wantonly in his mouth. They have never kissed so intensely before Baekhyun absently notices, for once the taller is not surrending and following the lead of the customer. They both want it, he realises.

Everything is too hot and hurried, Baekhyun is caught up in their kisses when he feels a hand on the hem of his pyjamas trousers.

'Wait!' He pulls back, out of breath. They stare at each other in the dark, panting and immobile. 'It's not a way of thanking me for your birthday, is it? You know I don't expect anything from you, right?' He wants to get things straight.

'No, I just...' He has the nerve to whine. 'I want you Baekhyun. Don't you want me too? I can act more like Pan if you prefer...' He seems so small and desperate.

'No no gosh,' He hurries to reassure him, holding his head between his hands and gently stroking his cheeks with his thumbs. 'I want you so much Yeol, you have no idea... But I also don't want you to regret it.'

'I promise I won't,' he grips tightly Baekhyun's shirt with a pleading tone, 'please Baek, please,

make me feel good.'

Really who is he to deny such a precious boy. All cautions are thrown out of the window as Baekhyun pushes Chanyeol on his back and rolls on top of him. Hastily they undress each other in uncoordinated motions, nobody knows whose piece of clothes they hold and it's a mess but they eventually manage to lay naked together. It's as if their hands were discovering the other's body for the first time, exploring every inch of skin.

Baekhyun nearly loses it when Chanyeol's hand wraps around his half hard on.

'Stop! First...' He pants with difficulty, 'Please let me... ahhh... Let me grabs the things.'

Suddenly a horrible doubt invades his mind. He crawls on the bed to reach the bedside table. He easily finds the lube in the top drawer but... 'Please be there please be there...' He desperatly mutters.

Chanyeol's warmth is overwhelming against his back. He feels a kiss on his shoulder, as the other is hugging him from behind. 'What are you looking for?'

'Yes!' He lets out a victorious cry, waving proudly a small silver package. 'You don't usually have condoms?' Chanyeol snorts.

 

'I never bring men here.' He explains to justify himself, turning back to the man.

'Oh.' Is the only thing the brunette can answer before Baekhyun captures his lips. This time it's slower, more tender in the way they hold each other.

Baekhyun takes his time to cherish Chanyeol's collarbones, he sucks and mouths at patches of skin eliciting the most delicious sounds out of the taller's plump lips, while his right hand wanders further down. He traces circles around his shaft, then his scrotum to finally poke at his entrance. 'Can I...?' He breathes softly.

Chanyeol only nods, his chest fastly rising and falling. The shorter puts some lube on his fingers and rubs them to warm it up a little before circling the other's hole again. The taller clenches around his finger and sighs contentedly. But he is not happy with the pace and soon the second digit is not enough. 'Come on, give me more!' Chanyeol whines in protest, impaling himself on the other's digits.

'Slow down pretty boy...' Baekhyun groans, trying to keep his arousal at bay. He adds a third finger and conscientiously scissors them looking for a certain bundle of nerves.

'Enough already!' Chanyeol grumbles, his hand blindly trying to grip his friend's cock.

Bossy much... Baekhyun mumbles fondly. It's so different from their previous intercourses, Chanyeol is not afraid to say what he wants or when Baekhyun does something he does not enjoy. 'Hold on for a sec.' The older chuckles while swatting the other's greedy hand away. He fetches a pillow that he places under Chanyeol's hips, lifting them a little. 'Better isn't it?'

Chanyeol answers by a vicious grip on his neck to bring him down and kissing him fiercely, while Baekhyun does his best to put the condom on.

Breathless, the shorter man leans on his elbows hovering over the brunette. They stay silent, a silence which means “Are you sure you want this?”. Another thunderbolt lightens the room, enabling the two men to decipher the emotions the other displays on his face. Desire, lust, fondness and an ounce of apprehension. It's this ounce that makes Baekhyun link Chanyeol's hand with his. A gesture which elicits a small smile from the other. He spreads his legs a little more, 'You can go.' Is whispered.

And Baekhyun does just that, a hundreds of emotions choking him as he slides home. He is slow, taking his time to fully enter the other who whines softly. 'Move.' He pants after half a minute and wraps his long legs around Baekhyun waist.

The other understands the message and picks up the pace, his trusts deep and fast. 'You're so beautiful all wrapped around me like this...' He breathes against Chanyeol's skin, their sweaty chests sliding against one another. The brunette squeezes his hand harder and his whimpers get louder.

One of the advantages of Chanyeol being so tall is that he still can have access to the other's nipples in this position without contorting himself too much. And he knows how much Chanyeol loves having his nipples milked as he hits his prostate dead on. His reaction is immediate from the moment Baekhyun puts his mouth on the errected flesh and shifts a little to align himself perfectly, as if he knew the taller's body better than his own. 'Aaaah...' Chanyeol grabs his hair desperatly and moves his hips to meet the other's thrusts. Baekhyun detaches himself from the hot skin, 'Look at you, so impatient... Breathe cutie!'

But he only sobs and shakes his head. 'Too much it's too much!' Chanyeol's eyes roll in their orbits as a hot liquid spurts to cover their chests. The brunette is such a sight to behold in this state, out of breath, covered with sweat and cum but he still manages to look like the purest and the most celestial being Baekhyun has ever seen.

He puts all his weight on the arm and hand that holds Chanyeol's and caresses the brunette's face with the other, his thrusts never losing their rhythm. 'You're so good foal, you did so well. Please, hold on a bit for me.'

The brunette whines at the over sensitivity but does not withdraw from their embrace. From the way he clenches around him Baekhyun knows he won't last long. It's the feeling of his ass being grabbed that does the trick, and he releases in the condom with a strangled moan which sounds like Chanyeol's name.

'Fuck...' He mumbles breathless, slouching on the other's chest. He turns to Chanyeol, his eyes pleading as they drown into his friend's. 'Do me please.'

The taller eyes widen as his hand tightens his grip on the other's ass by reflex. 'Okay.'

 

There is no time for cleaning, Baekhyun blindly throws the condom somewhere on the ground and searches a new one. He generously puts lube on his hand and loses no time to jack Chanyeol off to full hardness.

Chanyeol takes advantage of the fact he is focused on him to prepare Baehyun. The latter hisses at the sensation. It's been a while since he last bottomed. Fortunately Chanyeol's kisses offer a pretty efficient distraction.

Soon enough he is straddling Chanyeol's hips, ready to ride the treat in front of him. He knows from experience of past blow jobs that the other is nowhere near the small size and the stretching burns like hell, but the look of wonder Chanyeol holds and the thumbs rubbing gently his hips are worth it. 'Take it easy Baek.'

He gives a faint smirk, 'Don't worry about me, I'm the best rider of this side of the river'.

The other's laughter is lost in a groan of pleasure as Baekhyun begins to move his hips. 'My God you're so tight...' Chanyeol moans, 'Don't you even dare to clench!' He adds with a scowl.

'Wouldn't want the fun to be over so soon.' The shorter sasses, but really with the way he pants it loses half of its credibility.

His thighs quivers a bit, but soon he manages to build up a rhythm which sends jolts of electricity in his entire body. He wonders why they never tried this before. Furthermore this position gives him an excuse to grab Chanyeol's nicely developed biceps and to rest his hands on his firm abs. He feels glorious under the brunette's hot stare and makes sure to make a show of his bounces, not shying away and staring back seductively. 'You truly have the thighs of a stallon', Chanyeol breathlessly marvels while running his large hands on the other's legs.

'I told you I'm...aaah an exceptional rider.' He retorts after a fashion.

But then Chanyeol trusts up to meet his hips and he cannot contain his moans anymore. Incoherent words leave his lips as he speeds up, his prostate being hit so strongly that it makes him lose his balance. Chanyeol senses it and takes over, inversing their positions. 'Baek... God...' The taller is as desperate as he is. He throws Baekhyun's legs over his shoulders and the new angle makes it all so much deeper and intense that the shorter has trouble breathing. It's all too much and he only needs a flick of Chanyeol's wrist on his cock to spill everything, the brunette coming with a groan a few seconds after.

By the time Baekhyun recovers his breath Chanyeol is fast asleep by his side. After all, he said he was tired.

The shorter goes to the bathroom and takes a wet cloth to clean them both, before going back to bed and admire Chanyeol's peaceful features. It is with this angelic vision that Morphee takes over him.

 

 

It's nice to wake up in a bed so comfortable, so warm... Too warm in fact. Confused, Baekhyun opens a groggy eye only to meet a large back and dark hair spreads on his pillow. As he becomes aware of his own arms wrapped around another waist, the past night comes back to his mind. The realisation freezes his bones.

Oh fucking shit.

He stays immobile and freaked out, he does not dare to move afraid it would wake Chanyeol up.

 

They cannot even blame it on alcohol, he mentally whines. But Chanyeol was distraught, in a state of mind of vulnerability and despite that he still had sex with him. So really he feels as shitty as someone sober taking advantage of a hammered person.

Was this pure moment of lust worth it? What if it changes everything, what if Chanyeol never wants to see him again after that and they go back to square one?

 

Deep in thought he does not notice that the body in his arms begins to squirm, to turn to his side. He probably looks like a deer caught in headlights while Chanyeol cutely bats his eyelashes awake and pouts. When he catches Baekhyun's eyes on him he blushes slightly and gulps before whispering a shy 'Hi...'.

Baekhyun can only stare in awe. It's the first time he gets to spend the whole night with Chanyeol and to wake up by his side. His hair is a mess, the pillow left a trace on his cheeks and the corner of his lips is covered with dry drool, but he still manages to make Beakhyun's heart beat faster.

Eventually he realises he has not answered and that he still has his arms wrapped around the taller's waist. He removes them slowly. 'Hi. You're... Okay?' Chanyeol sheepishly nods.

An awkward silence follows. Chanyeol's expression gradually transforms and he ends up frowning, before dropping a 'Sorry about last night.'

'Why?' Baekhyun is confused and sits straight in the bed, leaning on the headboard. Chanyeol imitates him and the intimate mood is definitely gone. 'If anyone should apologise it's me!' He protests.

'Do you regret what happened?' The taller asks. There is nothing which could show he feels deceived, betrayed or ashamed. And it's not what the student expected at all.

'Depends... Do you have regrets?' Baekhyun warily answers with another question in order to put out feelers.

'We're going nowhere.' The brunette scoffs running a tired hand in his hair.

 

He can feel it, how Chanyeol begins to close off, how he tries to hide something which looks like disappointment. And he thinks that maybe, maybe he can be honest this time.

He faces his friend, clears his throat and says with as much confidence as he can gather, 'Ok well, I'll start. I feel bad because you were tired and vulnerable and I should have just buried you in blankets with a hot tea. However... I don't regret it because it felt fucking amazing.' Chanyeol blushes a little and his gaze flickers. 'And you know what, screw this.' Baekhyun takes a deep breath, his heart beating like crazy. That's it, it either makes or breaks. 'I don't want you to believe that it was just a one-night stand for me because it meant so much more. I want you Park Chanyeol. I like you. I want to hold your hand, to bring you to dates, to do cringy stuff that would make Jondgae gag.' Chanyeol opens his mouth but he cuts him, he has to get it off his chest or he will never say it. 'So it doesn't matter if last night was casual to you, if you don't see me that way. I'll woo you Park Chanyeol, just you wait. I'll make you like me, you'll see.'

The brunette stays dumbfounded for a minute, his gaze fixed on his own hands, so the shorter lets him take all in.

'That's... Very assertive.' He finally chuckles. 'It is.' Baekhyun does not back off.

'I see I don't have much choice. Woo me then.' He raises his head and addresses him a cheeky smile. He adds after a moment of silence, 'It was nice. It's the first time I'm not paid for having sex if we don't count Yesung's training.'

Baekhyun bangs the back of his head on the headboard, and sighs, 'There are so many wrong things in your sentence.'

'Welcome into my world!' Chanyeol laughs good-naturedly. He giggles softly, fumbling with his fingers. However, when he raises his head to look back at Baekhyun his face is dead serious.

'But really Baekhyun, what do you want from me?'

'Huh?' Cut him some slack, there is only this much of eloquence he can display per day.

'You said you want me, but do you know what that means? That most of nights I'll be in other men's bed, that I can never truly be yours.'

'I don't care you're a prostitute...' Chanyeol raises a doubtful eyebrow at this.

'Okay it does bother me a little, but you won't do that all your life. And I want to be there for you, even though it makes me crazy when people go too hard on you and that I can do nothing about it. I want to be there to comfort you, to remind you that you're a student entitled to live your youth like anybody else. When it's getting too much I'll just go to Minseok's gym and punch some things around.'

 

Chanyeol hides his beginning of a smile and switches back to full uncertainty and more hand- fumbling, 'How could you... I don't get it. Why would you inflict that to yourself? Why me? Is it because we're already friends so it's comfortable? At work I'm a slut, and at college I'm only a nerd in hoodies. You could do better than –'

'No. You're far more than Chanyeol or Pan. You're far more than a nerdy musician who collects Deadpool's figurines or than a seductive prostitute who can make any man cum within a mere moan. You're not trapped in this duality.

You're a great person, sweet and caring. I think the only reason you're this big is to make some space for your even bigger heart. We have the same sense of humour and this is a relief to know that at least someone will laugh even if my joke is lame. You're very passionate and... Quite competitive, it almost frightened me yesterday. You are so so talented, you invest yourself so much in the things you like it's inspiring. You're smart but you'll rather help the others than to be a show off about it. You get cocky sometimes but that means you're comfortable enough and that warms my heart.

And the statement that you're only desirable when you're being Pan? Totally wrong! I admit it took me some time to notice you, but to be fair it's impossible to see your face in class. You have the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen, they are so expressive and pure, I've lost myself in them more times than I could count. Your face is a wonder of perfection and ingenousness. Everything is endearing about you and the way you often squirm just makes me want to cuddle you more. But you also have this sexy side with a voice that makes me hot under the collar and –'

'Okay okay I get it no need to be so cheesy.' Chanyeol presses his hands on the shorter's mouth. At this point his whole face turned scarlet, Baekhyun fears he could burn of embarrassment. He delicately removes the hands from his mouth and takes them into his.

He gently continues, 'Well, stop being insecure and I'll stop. I get it, you're scared. People left you behind before, but I promise you I won't. I'm way too crazy about you. Admittedly I've never been in a serious relationship – well apart from Junki but that doesn't count – but that's because I've never felt this way before.

I never found someone I connected to this much, someone I care about this much. You've haunted every single of my dreams for the past six months. It's not a phase I know it. I don't want mindless hookups anymore. I don't want anything that's not related to you. Amazing you. Chanyeol, I promise you you're worth staying for.' And as he says so he firmly grips the other's hands, his look deep and intense trying to convey the sincerity of his feelings.

It takes a minute to Chanyeol to finally give a small smile. 'So... You like like me, huh?' 'Glad you get it.' He rolls his eyes before smiling fondly.

'It's... Wow. I'm not sure this is going to work but... Being liked is a nice feeling.' The taller giggles sheepishly.

'We're not anything if it's too soon for you.' Baekhyun hastens to reassure him. 'I asked for the permission to court you, remember?

'Ah yeah right, you have to woo me. I'm fine with it.' The brunette is still slightly red but his grin widened and that's a good sign. Then unexpectedly he throws himself in Baekhyun arms to share a tight hug.

'Did I mention you have a body worth dying for?' His voice is muffled into Chanyeol's hair but the other still hears it and softly laughs. 'Shut up... Oh my God Baek is that the actual time??' He shrieks, hastingly straightening up.

 

In the middle of this they somehow totally forgot it was Monday and that they were supposed to have class. Shit. There is nothing they can do about the first period but if they hurry they might make it on time for the second. 'Want to save some time and take the shower together?' Baekhyun offers with a grin.

'That seems rather improper for courting, don't you think?' The tall brunette cutely sticks his tongue out at him.

Baekhyun playfully raises his hands in sign of surrender. 'Alright! Go take a quick shower I'll grab something we can eat on our way.'

 

They make it somehow but not without some sacrifices, when they arrive in front of the building they are both out of breath and pretty dishevelled.

 

 

'Sooo,' Minseok begins without missing a beat as soon as Baekhyun sits down by his side. Fortunately the teacher is not there yet. 'Sehun texted us that Chanyeol was late as well, and oh! Last update, he just arrived and is in a state comparable to yours apparently. Care to update us about last night?' He teases and wiggles his eyebrows.

'What? What am I missing?' Jongdae knits his eyebrows, confused.

'Nothing, we just overslept.' Baekhyun answers, pretending to be busy by taking his things out. 'Don't think I forgot how you let me hanging yesterday night.' Minseok scowls with a fake hurt tone. 'Guys, what's going on? I don't understand a thing!' Jongdae whines louder, trying to get their attention.

'The class is starting so shut it, both of you!' Baekhyun shushes them firmly.

But he can still see them silently exchanging hand gestures. He sighs inwardly. How to tell them what he is not sure of? Are Chanyeol and he still only friends, lovers, boyfriends-in-probation? He said he was going to court Chanyeol but truthfully he never had to do that so he is a bit lost about the drill. Fortunately he has a perfect Casanova to hand...

 

 

'That's... Nice.' Chanyeol comments hesitantly, squirming on his chair and looking everywhere.

'Treat them nicely, invites them to a restaurant, bring them little thoughtful gifts.' Jongdae advised, so Baekhyun invited Chanyeol to a nice restaurant, not too expensive but certainly more chic than what the latter was used to. The decoration is sofisticated and sets an intimate mood between the clients. 'I heard that their crab is really delicious.'

 

Now he can see the problem. It's not presents that Chanyeol needs, it's reassurance. More often than not being treated or receiving gifts mean that he will have to show his... Gratitude. What Baekhyun must do is to prove him that he can be trusted, that he is genuine.

 

'When is your next day off, foal?' The older asks in the middle of their meal.

'Mm I'll be free not this Wednesday but the next one. I still have an essay to write but I'm almost done with it.'

'It's nice that you have free time like that sometimes, isn't it?'

'Want to know a secret?' Chanyeol retorts with a tone of conspiracy. They both lean on the table to get closer.

He explains in a hushed voice 'I'm not that busy. It's just that I don't work every night to keep up with my study work, and that I don't work after eleven on week days to get enough sleep. That's why there is a waiting list to spend a night with me, but people think it's because I'm so great that I'm overbooked. Helped to build the myth.'

'The myth no less.' Baekhyun playfully snorts in return. 'Be nice or I won't grant you a date.'

'Who said I wanted to take you on a date?' The Political Science student teases. 'Oh... It's just since you asked, I thought...' The younger deflates, embarrassed.

'And you were right,' Baekhyun reassures him by placing his right hand on Chanyeol's, a fond smile on his lips. 'Wednesday you're in for a date with me, foal. A lot nicer than this one I hope.'

'This one is nice already...' The other protests.

'You truly think so?' Baekhyun raises a doubtful eyebrow.

'Well I'm not entirely comfortable, mostly because someone' An indignated look is thrown his way, 'didn't warn me in what kind of restaurant we would eat and that I feel like a sore thumb, but... You're not a bad company.' He shyly adds.

 

'I'm glad then.' And he truly is, his grin is too heartfelt to be hidden, and it only widens when Chanyeol mimics him, and turns his palm to link their hands. It does not matter if it obliges him to eat with his left hand for the rest of their date, he won't complain.

 

 

'So, where are we going?' Chanyeol excitedly asks, his cute ears red because of the cold. Second official week of courting, the awaited Wednesday has come. They met half way from both of their homes.

'Foal, have you ever been to Lotte World?'

'Yeah years ago but... In December? You sure it's a good idea?' He does not seem too thrilled.  'Come on it will be fun! The park won't be too crowded, plus it will oblige us to share body heat.' He exaggerately wiggles his eyebrows, a gesture which makes the other laugh. 'You sly fox!'

'But more serioulsy my backpack is full of hotpacks, I won't let you freeze to death on my watch.' 'You're the date master after all, lead the way.'

 

A few minutes later they are seated on the bus, when Chanyeol takes his earphones out, 'Want to listen to some music?'

'Sure, let's ear the Bohemian Rhapsody OST album! It only will be the hundredth time.' Baekhyun mocks without a bite.

'You know what, why don't we listen to your playlist for once?' The brunette challenges. 'What? No, nothing beats Queen.' His date retorts quickly, suddenly less smug.

'Come on, show me!' The taller adorably pouts.

'I either have mainstream music or ballads, so I'm not sure if you will enjoy it mister Indie Rock.'

'I listen to Coldplay, that's pretty mainstream to me.' Chanyeol rolls his eyes and snatches Baekhyun's phone from his grip. '5 Seconds of Summer, for real?'

'Easy Freddie, their last album is great okay?' He cannot help getting a bit defensive.

'I said nothing! I just didn't peg you for a boysband fan.' Chanyeol pacifies. And yet soon enough they find themselves mouthing the lyrics...

Talk fast romance won't last I'm okay with that. Burn. Crash. Romance. I'll take what I can get from you.”

 

 

'No way I'll set foot on that Byun Baekhyun!'

So far the date went great, they went into at least three interactive cinemas, they did dark rides and even a carrousel under Chanyeol's pleas. To comply with every clichee of a date in an amusement park Baekhyun won him a plushy at a rifle range. It had not been easy though, hours of practice in video games did not make him an experienced shooter to his great dismay. But when Baekhyun offered to try the Gyro Swing the younger vividly refused.

'It seems really scary and dangerous, I don't want to throw up!' A distressed Chanyeol argues.

'I swear I got your back foal, I won't let go of your hand for the entire ride. Do you trust me?' He asks with a gentle smile and offering his right hand.

 

'Hahaha that was hilarious!' Chanyeol is in high spirit laughing at a traumatised Baekhyun. Once again the situation backfired, while he wanted to appear like a cool and reassuring guy, he ended up shouting at the top of his lungs, half sobbing for the ride to stop as Chanyeol enjoyed the thrill very much. He had offered his hand but at the end he was the one crushing Chanyeol's. He exited the swing with wobbly legs and feeling nauseous.

'Laugh all you want but for God's sake give me a minute.' He leans on his knees. 'So much for being reliable.' He mutters, mad at himself.

'What do you mean? It was great seeing you vulnerable for once!' The other grins widely. 'You seem adamant on looking tough but it's good to know that I can take care of you as well.'

'I don't know if “laughing at my misery” can be labelled as “taking care of me”...' Baekhyun squints and gives him a death stare.

Chanyeol's grin only widens. 'Here, while you were busy agonising I bought you a bottle of water.' The shorter thanks him and avidly brings it to his lips.

'So, what's next?' The younger asks.

'What about another interactive cinema? Or perhaps do you want to grab a bite?' Baekhyun offers. 'Oh no, you know what we should absolutely do? The rollercoaster!' Chanyeol excitedly claims. The thought of it alone makes the brown-haired man turn white.

'Really...?' He moans with a quiet voice.

'Oh yeah, if you come with me that would definitely prove me you're serious about me, about us.' And he happily walks towards the ride they can see from afar. 'Come on you pussy, the end of your probation period is at the end of the ride!'

He only takes ten steps before Baehyun holds on to his sleeve. 'Would it be that easy?' He quietly asks.

The taller offers him a gentle smile. 'You got into your head that I needed a lot of convincing. But hey, you could have a lot of people and you chose to stick with me? Despite the situation? I'm already swooned by the gesture. Moreover you're not the worst person I ever encountered.'

'So I give detailed explanations about why I like you, but I only deserve the term of “not the worst person ever”?' He pouts with a fake hurt tone.

'Come on Baek, we have a ride to take!'

 

This is scary as hell. The older man can feel his heart climbing up his oeusophagus every time they are at the top of a slope, seconds away from hurtling down at full speed. However Chanyeol is here, a his warm gloved hand holding his just like in the Swing, and he seems so damn happy that it is worth the sickening feelings. At least if he dies he would be happy.

 

'Wow!' Chanyeol breathes out as the wagon stops. 'It's been a while since I went to an amusement park, I had no idea this was so enjoyable.' He turns towards Baekhyun, 'Thanks for bringing me here.'

'You're very... Welcome.' His eyes caught sight of something under Chanyeol's coat. Something he never expected to see again around his neck. 'Is it...?' He hesitantly asks designating what he thinks is the chocker he offered him months ago.

'Well you said I could wear it whenever I want. And I really like it so...' Chanyeol scratches his neck and his ears turn slightly pink.

'I'm very glad you do, then.'

Something switched in the air. The playful mood is tinged with tension that Chanyeol tries to clear, 'So I guess if this is a clichee date it's the moment we go in the ferris wheel and we kiss away from prying eyes?' He chuckles.

'No time for that.' Baekhyun mumbles, takes his hand and drags him in a nook between two rifle ranges.

 

There is urgency in the way he presses his body against Chanyeol's, desperate to reach those shiny lips. Small puffs of cold air are coming out of his gaping mouth, his eyes are feverish and his whole face is a call to lust.

'Can I kiss you?' He whispers not trying to hide his desire, and fortunately Chanyeol seems to be in the same state, if the way he clings to Baekhyun's coat is any clue. 'Please do...'

 

It's hot and cold. Hot like Chanyeol's cheeks that he can feel through his gloves as he cups his head between his hands. Cold like Chanyeol's nose when it bumps his. Hot like their tongues when they begin a frenzied dance. Cold like the clouds their mouthes produce every time they break apart and heavily pant just to meet again. There are shoutings of children and metallic sounds from the attractions in the background, a scent of greasy street food floats in the air, but somehow it is just perfect.

 

 

From then on it's all about sneaking out and shy smiles. Jongdae gives suspicious glares at what he calls his “happy dumb face” but he does not seem to have added two plus two yet. Minseok is way too smug about it and Sehun seems more wary than ever. After two weeks of their little game he even comes to Baekhyun to give him the infamous “don't hurt my best friend or you're dead meat” talk. Two months ago he would certainly have been terrified but since then he understood Sehun is just a big ball of fluff with a bratty attitude.

 

Some things do not change too much. They still hang out spontaneously except now they call it “dates”. They still stay at Baekhyun's to play games and watch movies except now Chanyeol puts his head on Baekhyun's lap while the latter plays with the former's hair. They still meet at the music classroom and play together except now they exchange sweet kisses between two songs.

 

No need to lie it always makes Baekhyun's stomach churn when he discovers new blows and scars on his lover but he sticks to what he promised. He helps healing them and covers them with light kisses. So he grits his teeth and counts the days until Chanyeol gets his diploma and leaves this hell hole. After all the brunette only needs to snuggle up against him and he remembers it is worth it.

Every night they spend half studying half making love is worth it. Every time they find themselves sprawled on the couch and talking about the future is worth it.

 

Baekhyun loves it when Chanyeol enthusiastically exposes how he dreams to be hired to work on the Basic Livelihood Security Programme, to help people in need, he had such big plans to improve the system.

He would move his arms in all directions and his eyes would be so bright. But then there is always a moment when his voice goes quieter, his arms fall and his gaze would turn sad. So Baekhyun would stroke his cheek and praise him, saying he is the best student of his school year and that anyone would be a fool to not hire him. And usually Chanyeol would give him a small smile and they both would pretend that the only obstacle is his grades and not his controversial background.

 

 

'Is it because of your father that you study Political Science?' His lover asks one time.

Baekhyun takes his time to think about it. 'At first, yes. I didn't tell him I applied to this course, I wanted to surprise him and make him proud for once. It was quite the opposite, actually. He said it was foolish of me, and not within my reach.

So then I wanted to prove him wrong, but at the end the more I studied it the more I became passionate about it. I really like my major, even though I didn't choose it for the right reasons. However I don't want to become a diplomat like him, I'd rather like keeping a bit of independence, you know? I'm not sure yet, maybe a policy analyst or a political consultant. Or an intelligence analyst,' he adds excitedly, 'I'd move in the US and work with the CIA, knowing cool stuffs about national security and all!' He grins.

'So you want to live abroad?'

'Well, I love Korea but sometimes I just want to get a change of air if you see what I mean... So yeah why not living abroad for a few years and coming back later on! What about you?'

'I get it, the change of air.' Chanyeol agrees. 'I only ever knew Korea and it would be scary to move out, but sometimes I wish to get a fresh start...' He says pensively.

'And where would you go if you had the occasion?' His lover asks. 'Japan!' He answers without missing a beat.

'Why did I ask, of course I should have seen this coming.' Baekhyun playfully snorts. Chanyeol chuckles, not offended a bit. 'Yeah I guess it wasn't very original of me.'

They stay awake for hours, talking about unknown cities, unexpected marvels and perfect worlds where they could be whoever they want to be. Amidst these crazy adventures Baekhyun wonders if the brunette pictures those scenes with him by his side...

 

 

He has no doubt that Chanyeol enjoys his company. He can see that in the warm smiles and prolonged gazes he gives him. It seems decades ago that the taller restrained himself to touch him, nowadays he was all over Baekhyun whenever he could. He found himself caught in big hugs or with his shoulders serving as a prop for the taller's head more times than he could count.

He can see that when the brunette ditches plans with his friends to spend more time just the two of them. Sehun would then look daggers at Baekhyun, but it was not too difficult to see that he was in fact quite pleased with the recent developments.

 

Baekhyun thought he would cry when one evening Chanyeol surprised him by pulling out his electric guitar – that he rebaptised Judy – and played “Hypnotised” by Years & Years  for him. It was rather a piece made for piano, but with Chanyeol's voice and his cute english accent it sounded just perfect. The older did not remember saying it was one of his favourite song, but Chanyeol told him he actually hums it absent-mindedly quite often. It took him a moment to find the title, the brunette shyly admitted. Baekhyun's heart felt so full for his precious lover. Let's say the musician earned a well-deserved blowjob between the drums and the piano of the music club.

 

 

He felt it when Chanyeol was animatedly recounting the time when Sehun and him went to the swimming pool and that the former dove into the empty pool without realising that employees were cleaning it because a child threw up in it, and exited the water covered in shame and vomit. Baekhyun could only watch with captivation as Chanyeol was laughing and making big gestures with his arms. He was so pretty, so amazing, so loveable. He felt a pang of adoration, it was ready to be blurted so by reflex he took a big mouthful of pizza.

 

He also felt it when he was deep inside his lover's body. The latter was drenched with sweat, his hair stuck to his forehead and out of breath. But to Baekhyun's eyes he was glowing. Every spasms of pleasure and every moan of Baekhyun's name were an entrancing music. He felt so overwhelmed, so freaking lucky, so in... He kissed the other man on the lips, hard, to swallow it.

 

But the time it slipped was behind a convience store where they stumbled upon a kitten. Chanyeol truly was a goner for cute animals even though he was allergic to their fur. They were both kneeling in front of the small cat, cooing at its adorableness. After a few minutes of petting Chanyeol suddenly sneezed, causing the cat to jump in surprise.

Baekhyun does not know if it was his laugh, the way he was reassuring the kitten, the dusky sun of January illuminating his beautiful smiling face, the cold wind in his hair or the way his eyes sparkled when he turned towards his lover but before he could stop it, it fell from his lips,

'I love you.'

Chanyeol stayed stunned for a few seconds, his hand hanging awkwardly with the kitten trying to reach it in order to restart the petting. His big grin turned soft, and he gently pecked him on the cheek before turning his attention back to the demanding kitten.

 

They never address the matter, even when Baekhyun blurts the three words a few more times, cursing himself everytime.

It was early February, their graduation was nearing and they had other things to think about.

 

'I got it foal! I've been accepted in the major I wanted!!' He yells waving his paper of acceptance in the air.

'Congrats Baekhyun-ah, I knew you could do it!' His lover hugs him with a proud grin.

 

'I'm so glad we'll both get the degrees we wanted.'

'Wait a minute the courses haven't even begun yet and you talk as if we already got our diplomas.' Chanyeol teases.

'You know what I mean!' Baekhyun rolls his eyes in fake annoyance.

 

They all got accepted in their master degrees, except Sehun who still got his second choice. Things were beginning to materialise, in a few years they would be out of college ready to take over the world.

 

'I'm so excited for graduation!' Chanyeol claps his hands cutely. 'Will your parents come?'

'I think my mother will, perhaps Baekbeom as well if he is not too busy. Do you... Would you like me to introduce you to them?' He asks tentatively.

'Introduce me? To your family? Why?' The taller opens his eyes wide, clearly taken aback.

'I can introduce you just like a friend if it makes you uncomfortable.' He hastens to reassure the other. 'Even if Baekbeom would probably get it anyway.'

'Why not...' The younger shyly agrees.

 

 

'Aaaand dunk!!!' Chanyeol shouts victoriously, marking the sixteenth point. 'Damn Oh Sehun you're tall as well, why can't you do that?' Jongdae whines.

'I warned you I sucked at playing basketball!' The younger grunts, exhausted.

'It's ridiculous, we outnumber them but they still humiliate us.' Baekhyun remarks gloomily, watching as Chanyeol and Minseok were celebrating. Sixteen against two points, it hurts.

'I forgot Minseok was so damn good at it, I should have traded you for him.' Jongdae grumbles, eliciting a “Hey!” of protest from his friend.

'Don't “hey” me Byun Baek, Sehun might suck but at least he's trying, you on the other hand aren't focused at all!'

Who could blame him to be distracted when Chanyeol is looking that hot?! Covered in sweat, only dressed with shorts and a top tank gloriously displaying his muscular arms. Moreover, he is so concentrated when is playing, looking almost ruthless... It gives him goosebumps.

 

They are face to face, Baekhyun tries to block his lover who is dribbling, ready to bypass him, when the older whispers loud enough for him to hear, 'You better fuck me after we're done.'

The taller freezes, caught out of guard: the perfect opportunity to snatch the ball and not even a second later Baekhyun is dribbling towards the adverse basket. 'Chanyeol?! What are you doing' they can hear Minseok yell but it's too late, Baekhyun already shot and scored.

'So who is out of it again?' He grins proudly towards Jongdae. 'Well done Byun, keep it up!' His friends gives him the thumbs up.

 

At the end, despite Baekhyun's techniques of distraction his team still lamentably loses to Chanyeol and Minseok at twenty-two against ten.

'That was exhausting!' Jongdae comments. 'Shit, the showers of this gym are quite reduced, I don't think we all can take our showers...'

'That's fine, go take it, Yeol and I will take ours while you go buy the food, then let's meet at Minseok's place!' Baekhyun says, subtly pushing them towards the shower stalls.

'You're sure?'

'Yeah yeah, there's only three stalls anyway what can we do!'

'What do you have in mind?' Chanyeol asks with a tone full of suspicion when the others are out of earshot.

'Well, I thought I made my intentions pretty clear, foal...' Baekhyun retorts with a sly smirk, already feeling his lover up.

 

'What? You crazy we can't do that in here!' Chanyeol splutters in a blushing mess. It does not stop Baekhyun from rubbing his pelvis against the taller's thigh.

'Come on foal, you were so sexy back there, I love when my pretty baby boy turns all caveman style. I've been playing with half of a hard on for the past twenty minutes...' The older whines with his most effective pout.

'Oh my god, you're a horny mess.' His lover whines in despair and hides his reddening face in his hands. 'We don't even have lubs or condoms!'

'Speak for yourself...' Baekhyun wriggles his eyebrows.

'You're unbelievable...' Chanyeol seems appalled to say the least.

'And you are so gorgeous, I have to be prepared at all time.' The shorter winks back.

 

True to his words, Baekhyun throws himself on his lover as soon as their friends step out of the gym. They are lucky it is empty this afternoon.

'This goes...off!' The older pants, barely parting from Chanyeol's mouth and furiously undressing the other. 'Not... Time...'

In spite of his previous reservations the taller is not outdone and grips Baekhyun's ass to carry him and presses him against the cold shower wall. The shorter hisses at the sensation but goes back at nipping his lover's neck. They are so sweaty and slick, so aroused. Fuck Chanyeol is just too sexy like that.

'Yeol, take me...' Baekhyun whines, humping the other.

'Not prepared...' Chanyeol breathlessly protests despite the urgency of his touches. 'Forget it, just put some soap on your dick, I can take it.'

Too much, too urgent, too intense, and when Chanyeol pushes in Baekhyun cannot prevent a cry of pain. Fuck that shit hurt but it's too late to regret it.

'Baek?! You okay?' The taller worriedly pants.

'Fine, just move for heaven's sake.' Baekhyun grits through his teeth.

The brunette adjusts his grips on Baekhyun's thighs, securises his legs around his waist and slowly builds up a pace. Aaah... The angle is just too perfect despite the uncomfortable position, the bundle of nerves inside Baekhyun is way too teased.

In a harsh flinch Baekhyun accidently hits the shower button, drenching them but not enough to cool down their fervour. Soon the stall is a mess of grunts, mist, high pitched cry of pleasure and sounds of skin against skin.

'There foal, again... Harder!' The shorter moans, desperatly wrapping his arms around his lover's neck to bring him down for a kiss.

 

As they exit the stall they run into a petrified Sehun. He looks positively traumatised and redder than anyone should be. 'I-I, we wanted to know what you wanted to eat but wha-whatever.' And he awkwardly escapes the room. Baekhyun can feel a laughter building up in his throat, totally in opposite of Chanyeol's grunt of despair. 'Oh gosh, how much did he hear?!'

'Relax foal, it's only Sehun, who cares?' Baekhyun shrugs it off.

'We do! That's it, no more public sex you exhibitionist!' Chanyeol firmly says, frowning and with an accusing finger pointed out in his direction.

'Alright, I admit it was a bit risky, but I couldn't help it... You're so ripped,' he sighs dreamily feeling up the other's arms, 'I'm in constant awe.'

The taller visibly softens under the compliment and gives a small smile of satisfaction. Him and his praise kink... He still detaches himself from his lover and walks towards his locker. 'Well, it demanded a lot of sweat and sacrifices. I like the result, but boy do I hate working out.' He sighs. 'Why doing it then?' Baekhyun frowns, dressing up beside him.

'Yesung required it, nobody wants a prostitute with a podgy tummy.' Chanyeol rolls his eyes.

'Oww you had a little tummy?! How cute it must have looked!' Baekhyun cooes excitedly at what he is picturing. His lover sends him a pissed off look so he does not add anything.

 

However there is something bothering the political science student, something awaken by what the younger said. Obligations, sacrifices. He tiptoed about the situation for weeks, this moment is as good as any, so he tentatively asks, 'About it Yeol, I was thinking... Why don't you quit?'

'What do you mean?' Chanyeol's head is stuck in his pullover, he can only catch sight of his surprised gaze. 'Where am I supposed to live if I quit, with what money?' He says with a muffled voice.

Gently Baekhyun approaches him and helps him to free his head, 'You could live with me for a while, I'll help you to find a place and I'll take care of you.'

'I don't want to live off your money.' Chanyeol stiffens and sends him an irate look. 'Then just the time you find another part-time job!' Baekhyun exclaims, almost pleading. 'Why do you bring the subject?' His lover sighs and runs a tired hand in his hair.

'It just makes me crazy thinking about the things you must do against your desire to please clients and... I don't know isn't it normal that I want you out of there?' He feels stuck between sadness and confusion.

Chanyeol crosses his arms and rubs them soothingly, appearing suddenly smaller than he is. Obviously he feels ill-at-ease and Baekhyun regrets to put him in this situation, but he still needs answers.

'Baekhyun... I don't expect you to understand. I know it sounds crazy... But they're my family. I see them as my siblings, my aunts, my... The job is hell sometimes but most of the time it's not that bad, Yesung established standards and we receive a lot of care. We're not treated like cheap stuff.'

'So explain the blows and cuts? Explain that bastard of Kang?' His lover raises a doubtful eyebrow at Chanyeol's allegations.

'There are people too influent to be denied, but most of my clients are respectful. At some point you take things into consideration. It's not me they spend the night with, I can distance myself from that. My coworkers though, both my friends and family...' He emphasises, 'I trust them with my life, I'd give one of my kidneys if any of them needed it. They have their flaws, they're peculiar stained flowers and most of “decent people” would find them weird and broken, but... They know me better than anyone. One day I'll quit. One day, I'll have the opportunity to leave this realm of shadows and I'll leave to work in the “real world”. But please don't ask this from me for now. I'm not brave like Tiffany, I still need them.' He deflates.

'But you could resign and still visit them!' Baekhyun stresses.

'No I couldn't.' It firm and doubtless, 'Drop it please, I don't want to argue about this with you. Please let me a bit longer.' He begs, visibly shaken by the subject.

 

Baekhyun sighs in resignation, fine. They finish to dress in silence. By the time they leave the sports hall Chanyeol already moved on and is animately talking about a piece he composed with Judy. Baekhyun is still pensive about their conversation but he understands he has to let it go, at least for now. It does not matter how unhealthy he finds Chanyeol's attachment to Elyxion, he is not entitle to comment the younger's life choices.

 

 

The day has arrived, they all formally received their bachelor's degree dressed in their blue dresses which are a bit short for Chanyeol and Sehun. Minseok is suspiciously eyeing Jongdae who is talking to the former's younger sister, surrounded by their parents. The four of them have known each others for a long time and are pleasantly discussing. Sehun is also busy talking to his parents and his older brother who cannot stop from messing with his hair.

Even Chanyeol received the unexpected visit of Joy, Kai and Ten who came to support him, almost making the giant cry of joy. They brought two bouquets of flowers, one from them and one from Yesung who could not come. It's fortunate, Baekhyun does not imagine the consequences if Yesung saw Pan's former customer by Chanyeol's side. People glance awe-stricken at the three of them, obnoxious of the attention they are gathering. They are wearing normal clothes but they still look more attractive than most of humans.

 

Baekhyun sighs, wondering if anyone will come for him when he hears a shout 'Baekhyun!' He turns around and catches sight of four people. Way more than what he expected, including one he would have gladly done without.

His mother holds a bunch of flower out to him and kisses his cheek. Behind her two of his hyungs stand proud. While his father... Well it is not difficult to guess his wife pestered him to come and he does not bother to hide his wish to be elsewhere.

'Umma, abeoji.' He bows to his parents. 'I'm glad you could come.'

'Of course, we have to be there for our baby!' Her mother cooes. His father nods his head in return. 'Nice to see you Hyung!' He high fives his brother. 'Junmyeon hyung, I didn't expect you! It's been a while, thanks for coming.'

'Come on, I wouldn't want to miss it!' His friend grins.

'Baekhyun we'll be... Oh please excuse my rudeness.' Chanyeol looms. He gets slightly flustered at his carelessness and bows to each of them as Baekhyun introduces his visitors.

'Yeol, these are Byun Haebom, Moon Eunja and Byun Baekbeom, my family, and here is Kim Junmyeon an old family friend I think I already told you about. Guys, here is Park Chanyeol a dear friend of mine and the valedictorian of the Social Welfare course.' He proudly introduces him.

 

Chanyeol had been elated to be the valedictorian, but he also panicked a bit at the idea of giving a speech. However to Baekhyun's opinion he did wonderfully. Well he might be a little biased because of his love for the brunette and because he helped him writing it, but it was a great speech nonetheless.

 

'Nice to meet you Chanyeol-ssi!'

He totally misses how Chanyeol tenses and the flash of recognition between him and Junmyeon, as his father speaks for the first time, 'The valedictorian? Congratulations Mr Park, it's impressive even in Social Welfare. And what was your ranking, Baekhyun?'

'Abeoji, please.' Baekhyun hisses through gritted teeth.

'Mr Byun?' One of his professor takes part. 'Dr Park Jeongsu, it's an honour to meet you.' He bows deeply. Instantly his father is wearing his most professional smile and bows back. 'Same goes to you Dr Park, I read a few of your reports, they were very enlightening.'

'Thank you a lot, I don't want to bother you further. I imagine you must be pleased by your son's results. He is one of my best student.'

'He could have done better, but it's not too bad indeed.' The old man laughs it off.

 

It takes a discreet stroke of Chanyeol's hand on his clenched fist to realise how stiff he is. Suddenly he sees it all. How his family is standing out in the middle of the crowd dressed with fancy suits and pearl necklace, even their stance screams 'Wealthy'.

He can see the way his mother is looking at Chanyeol, it's not entirely condescending but she seems to slighly pity him, and it makes the taller squirms in discomfort. He can see Jongdae and Minseok not too far away looking at him with questioning eyes.

Obviously the Byuns are not the only upper class family present, but it does not prevent people from glancing at them. After all, how could these people be connected to good old Byun Baek, proud owner of sweat-shirts only? They did not seem to belong to the same world...

 

'So Chanyeol, are you parents here as well? What are they doing for a living?' She begins to question him.

'Hmm I don't, I'm an... Excuse me Mrs Moon it was nice to meet you but I must go. See you later Baek!' And he scurries away.

Great, Baekhyun inwardly sighs. He cannot blame Chanyeol for taking to his heels, he would do the same if he could.

 

'Shouldn't we head to a cafe and chat a bit there?' He desperatly offers, trying to drag them out of the campus.

'And leave so soon? You never introduce us to your friends...' His mother has the nerve to look disappointed.

'With all due respect umma, when I do you make them run away so what's the point?' Her second son sighs.

'What on Earth did I do?' She protests.

Trust her to not even notice it, he thinks tiredly.

 

He finally convinces them to get away, and the four of them end in a tea house. His father had to leave for a meeting and he won't complain about it.

As his mother and brother are caught in a particularly animated conversation on the topic of marriage, Junmyeon takes the opportunity to lean towards Baekhyun and whispers, 'Baekhyun, did you went to Elyxion, the place I talked to you about at your birthday?'

'Let's not beat around the bush hyung, Pan is one of my classmate okay, I know about it.' He casts a last look around them before adding with an even quieter voice, 'Please hyung don't tell this to anybody. People in real life, people at Elyxion... No one!'

'Who do you take me for? Of course I'll keep this a secret. You know I only want the best for you... So please be cautious about it.' He looks at him with a worried gaze.

'Thanks hyung, I will.'

 

 

'Yeollie, I'm so sorry on their behalf! I feared they would be embarrassing but not to the point of being rude...'

Yesung gave Chanyeol his night off as a gift for his graduation, so after celebrating a little with his friends he came to Baekhyun's flat.

'Tell me about it! You talk about your father, but your mother is scary too!' The taller whines, 'At least your brother seemed nice...'

He stays a few seconds silent before tentatively muttering, 'By the way Baekhyun, I think I should tell you something. You see...' He takes a deep breath and blurts, 'Your family friend, he is a customer of Elyxion, he calls himself Suho.'

Baekhyun smiles fondly, 'Don't break a sweat over it foal, I know. In fact he is the one who talked to me about the brothel.'

A small Oh... of understanding escapes the brunette's lips. Suddenly a horrible doubt seizes his lover, 'Has he ever... done anything to you?'

'Oh no,' The other brushes it off, 'he sticks to women and most of the time he just stays in the lounge.'

'Okay good,' Baekhyun sighs in relief, 'There is only so many pictures I can live with.'

He turns towards his lover and manhandles him to sit on his laps. Chanyeol is so clumsy but somehow he always falls so smoothly on him. 'Back to you, I didn't get to congratulate you for your speech Mr Valedictorian.' He seductively smirks, stroking Chanyeol's firm thighs.

'Yes you did!' Chanyeol argues, frowning in confusion. So cute chuckles Baekhyun.

'Not properly, you didn't get your “congratulation kiss”.' The older whispers brushing their lips but avoiding the contact. A spark of comprehension crosses Chanyeol's gaze and he begins to stroke his lover's nape.

'Oh, you're right. It was such a good speech... Pretty sure it deserves a “congratulation rimming”...' He adds mischievously. The look of greed on his face is so funny, Baekhyun cannot help but to laugh at it.

'You're lucky I love you.' Like everytime it escapes his mouth so naturally but it is always followed by a second of paralysis, an agonising second where he knows that Chanyeol won't respond to his feelings.

A second of unease for his lover, and even though he does not want to rush the brunette and he understands that people do not fall in love at the same rhythm, it still crushes him. Will Chanyeol ever love me? So he hastens to press his lips against the taller's.

Too bad he did not hear the soft “For sure I am...”

 

 

It happens about ten days after that. They were supposed to meet at Baekhyun's place and from there head to the barbecue place they had been wanting to try for a while.

From the moment he answers the intercom Baekhyun senses there is something off with Chanyeol. It is only confirmed when he opens the door and that a closed off man enters. No big grin, a half- assed greeting kiss and a permanent frown on his face.

 

'Is something wrong foal?' He asks with concern.

He does not answer right away, instead he fumbles a little with his hands a little, takes a deep breath and drops it, 'I think we should stop.'

He does not understand, does not want to understand at the risk of playing dumb.

'What do you mean, “stop”? You don't want to eat barbecue after all?' He asks artlessly, his heart beating fast in his chest.

'No Baekhyun, “this”' he designates both of them and sighs, 'I think it's better if we stop seeing each other like that.'

'You think? Care to explain it to me? Everything was perfectly normal the last time we parted, what changed so fast?' Baekhyun knits his eyebrows.

'To be honest I've been thinking about this for a while. It hit me when I met your parents. So important, so used to perfection, so out of my reach. They'll never accept me...' He angrily looks at the ground.

'I was not aware you were dating my parents.' The older scoffs.

'Don't joke about it!' He raises his head and throws him a fed up glare. 'You're not the one feeling contempt just by being looked at!'

'Are you serious?' Baekhyun exclaims feeling more and more annoyed, 'I thought I talked plenty enough about my father for you to know that you don't have to be from a lower social class to be perceived like shit!'

'But it's still your family, the background you grew up in. Sooner or later you'll share the same opinions... If there is a thing that I learnt through those years, it's to stay at my place. We aren't from the same world Baekhyun. Those things can't stay a secret forever, your parents have the means to investigate about me and what will they think? No matter what I might become, to your folks nothing gonna change the fact that my mother was a damn whore and so am I!!' Chanyeol bursts out, his deep voice echoeing in the whole flat. It would have made Baekhyun flinch if he was not so pissed and hurt.

'Wow, such a point of view you have about me!' He snorts with irony. 'You seriously believe I could turn into a douchebag overnight and judge you?'

'Don't lie, you already do.' Chanyeol spits with a venomous tone. His whole face is contorted with anger and disdain.

'What? When haven't I been supportive and comprehensive about your job?' He cries out dumbfounded.

'You already forgot when you called me out in the locker room, and pestered me about quitting.' The taller mocks, 'You said you were fine with me being a slut, so what changed?'

'Don't tell me you want to do that all your life, you have so many projects!' Baekhyun can feel his blood boiling. This quarrel does not make any sense.

'What if I don't? What if people discover about me and I never get a job, and that I sell my body for a living for years like Sunmi?'

'Listen Chanyeol, this is crazy.' Baekhyun sighs tiredly. 'We already had this conversation, we're getting worked up about nothing, I don't even know why we became so acrimonious. Let's go eat, we'll talk about this later.' He walks towards the coat rack. He just wants to get out of here, and calmly tackle the subject. Baekhyun has not idea was is going on in his lover's pretty head, but he needs to know where it comes from. It was so unexpected...

 

Until Chanyeol's composed voice cuts his train of thought. 'I thought I was being clear. I won't change my mind. We're breaking it off.' He is so firm and cold, so different from his usual self, as if he truly thought about it for a long time. Baekhyun feels so damn betrayed.

'You say “we” but I don't think I've been consulted about it! I know I've always been the one more into this relationship, but.. Chanyeol, you promised you'll try.' He ends up with a plaintive tone.

His hands start trembling. Is Chanyeol really serious after all? Isn't it a bad dream, a mere petty fight?

'Well I tried and it doesn't work.' The taller shakes his head, fist clenched. 'How so?' Baekhyun is lost, torn between anger and despair.

'You don't understand me!' Chanyeol explodes, frustratingly messing his hair.

'But I want to, please I want to know you more so bad, let me a bit longer... I promise if you tell me how I'll get better.' He begs shamelessly, anything to stop his heart from beating so erratically. Please don't leave me.

'It's too late.' Chanyeol stresses with a definitive tone.

'Who do you think you are, saying you're done trying but not even letting me try!' Baekhyun angrily shouts. It drives him mad to see how he is so emotionless about it. The brunette only reflects annoyance and anger, not an ounce of sadness or regret.

'Let's be realistic, what we have won't last so it's better to end it before anyone gets too caught in a relation doomed to failure.'

'Well I think it's too late judging by the repeated times I told you I was in love with you.'

It's wrong, damn wrong. He swallows, trying not to choke on the feelings squeezing his throat.

'For fuck's sake we've only been fooling around for three months, there is nothing to even fight for.' Chanyeol rolls his eyes with a sigh.

'Nothing to fight for? Fooling around?' The shorter male shouts at the top of his lungs, seething with anger. 'Is that all it was for you?? Are you fucking serious?! Were the heartfelt conversations, the dates, the love making nothing but a mere pastime?'

'It was just hanging out and fucking. Please don't make up what wasn't.' Chanyeol snorts with a look full of contempt.

'You mean to tell me you never felt anything for me? Not even an ounce of liking?' Baekhyun with a small trembling voice he has trouble to identify as his own.

'Like you said, you were more into it than I was.' The other has the decency to look away, seeming almost sorry.

'Alright. I get it.' Baekhyun runs a shaking hand on his face, trying to calm down. 'We're not even breaking up because we never were anything. Fuck buddies at best. Alright. You only humoured me. I get it. I hope you had a good laugh at me and my pitiful feelings then. I don't hold you back. You can leave.'

He does not look as the sounds of the door being pulled and when he opens his eyes the flat is empty.

 

Empty.

 

He takes a deep breath, fights against the tears he can feel forming in his eyes. Calm down. It's a stupid, baseless fight. Chanyeol will come back. He will apologise, they both will. He will send a text. It cannot end up like this.

 

So he waits in front of the door for twenty minutes, half an hour, an hour, two... He checks his phone every two minutes, and make sure the battery is high.

 

It's surrealistic, it cannot be. Nothing comes.

That night he sleeps huddled up on the couch. His cheeks taste like salt.

 

 

“We said we'd both love harder than we knew we could go, but still the hardest part is knowing when to let go. You wanted to get higher higher higher, burn too bright now the fire's gone, watch it all fall done, Babylon.”

 

 

 

'Baek... Did something happen between you and Chanyeol?' Jongdae cautiously asks as they exit the classroom. 'Sehun and him haven't come to eat with us for three days, we talked to Chanyeol and he said you weren't in speaking term anymore, and... Not to be rude but you look like shit. When was the last time you had a decent sleep?'

He can see the worry in the eyes of his friends.

'We fought about something stupid.' He shrugs evasively. 'Maybe we'll come around one day, but hurtful things had been said so... Not sure about it.'

'Do you want us to talk about it with him?' Minseok offers. 'No, please don't. Really there's no point.' He sighs.

 

His mind plays on loop the scene from four days ago. It's an obsession, his brain dissects every word that was said, every expression and he still does not understand what led to this. Thus the weight in his stomach won't leave him alone, narrowing his throat. He feels like he is in constant apnoea, one that prevents him from eating and sleeping. It's ridiculous to lose sleep over this, and yet... He was truly in love, he still is. A part of him just want to go to Chanyeol and discuss it again.

 

He wants to believe it's all a farce, that Chanyeol has a hidden agenda. But his own insecurities get the best of him. Chanyeol never really reciprocated his confessions after all. It may have been just a fling like he said and he got tired of Baekhyun's incessant clinginess and love declarations. Perhaps was he just an annoying friend with benefits.

 

The second day he gathered his courage and tried to talk to him, but seeing him laugh so freely with Sehun from afar... It stopped him in his track. Chanyeol did not look affected at all, and who was Baekhyun to bother him further. He thinks he saw Sehun sending him a pained look, but he was already retracing his steps.

 

 

'Hey Baek, do you want to talk about it, just the two of us?' Minseok suggests as Jongdae goes to the bathroom.

'Don't really want to talk about it Min,' he sighs 'he didn't feel anything for me so he dumped me. No big deal. Let's have a drink though, my treat.'

 

After the graduation's unfortunate event Baekhyun related his family story to his friends, only hidding that Junki was not just a friend who betrayed him but his ex-boyfriend.

They seemed a bit offended but still understanding. Nothing changed, they just said he should not expect to get treated anymore.

Chanyeol was right, he truly has the best of friends.

 

 

'Damn boy who never grows up...' Baekhyun drunkenly mutters. 'What? Who are you talking about?' His friend frowns in confusion. 'Peter Pan, who else?'

As promised they met in a bar in Gwanak. How unfortunate that they do not have the same alcohol tolerance, he knows he will look like a professional drunkard before Minseok's cheeks will even get to flush.

'Didn't know we were talking about Disney...' Minseok does not seem less lost by his friend's explanations.

 

They barely talked since they arrived and Minseok got his friend's intentions pretty quickly: to get as drunk as possible. It saddens him to see his younger friend in this state, especially when he is so secretive about his break-up with Park Chanyeol. Byun Baekhyun always had his part of mystery but it hurts him he does not trust them more.

 

'You know, I always thought Peter Pan was a bit wicked.' The chesnut-haired man continues to speak in riddles.

'The Once Upon a Time version you mean?' Do not judge him, Minseok likes to catch up with all kinds of TV shows, even the western ones.

'No, the Barrie one. The book. The cruelty of a child, self-centred, egotistic, forgetful. He's just... He doesn't think, he just does what suits him the most. And the people who care about him? He doesn't care about them at all... He moves on, next.' He angrily bangs his bottle of soju on the table.

'He never forgets Tinkerbell though.' Minseok points out after a minute.

'Yeah, I guess. Tinkerbell is one lucky bitch...' Baekhyun snorts. 'What d'you think? Am I Wendy or Tinkerbell?' He suddenly asks his friends.

'I'm... Not sure if I'm following the right trope...' The brunette begins hesitantly, 'But anyway, do you know what makes Tinkerbell different?' His friend shakes his head, 'No matter what she never gives up on Peter Pan.'

 

Yeah... He could choose who he wants to be. He could let his heart heal and move on. Or he could fight for the one he loves.

 

 

“Now I wish we never met, 'cause you're too hard to forget. And I know that you don't, but if I ask you if you love me, hope you'll lie to me.”

 

 

 

None of them had much to do on Christmas, and Yesung being christian he closed the brothel for a day. So they spent a few hours together walking on the illuminated streets, looking for the best decorations. They stopped to drink a hot chocolate, bought some street food and Baekhyun put Chanyeol's hand with his in his pocket in less frequented streets, even sneaking a kiss or two.

It was a wonderful day, winter suited Chanyeol so well. Cute red nose, big fluffy clothes and snow in his permed hair. His wide eyes were even brighter than usual, like a child in awe in front of the magic of Christmas. He was the happiest when Baekhyun bought him a red wholly hat with fake reindeer antlers. They were seated on a bench in front of the Han river.

'I got you something...' He shyly said.

'What?! I didn't know, I didn't get you anything!' Baekhyun panicked.

'The hat and Judy for my birthday were more than enough. I'm actually scared by the awesomeness  of your gifts, so it's better if I take the lead and offer more of my cheap ones. Anyway, it's not much but I hope you'll like it.' Chanyeol blushed, holding out to him a flat square in a cute snowmen wrapping paper.

Baekhyun thanked him and took his time to remove the paper, amused to feel Chanyeol bounce in both excitation and apprehension by his side. 'Stop the teasing or I'll unwrap it myself!' He whined. It only made Baekhyun laugh, a laughter which died in his throat when he caught a glimpse of his present.

'What? Do you hate it?' Chanyeol anxiously asked at the lack of reaction from his lover. 'It's... It's perfect foal, thank you so much!' Gosh, he could almost feel himself tearing up.

It was an album, a mixtape to be more precise. The album art was covered with cute scribbles and sweet messages like “Think about me while you listen to it♥” or “I hope it will make you smile, yours is wonderful!”.

'It's some of your favourite and my favourite songs, the quality is not the best, but those are the best covers I could do in a few weeks. I also put “Hypnotised” even if I already played it for you, it was a kind of test and you seemed to like it sooo...' The musician scrapped his nape to hide his embarrassment.

'You covered them all?! When did you begin?!' Baekhyun shouted and made a dumbfounded face. He could not believe the other could have learn how to play seven pieces and recorded them in such a short period.

'I started after my birthday party.' Chanyeol explained, still blushing a little.

'But how did you record them?' Baekhyun was so incredibly touched. Chanyeol really took the beginning of their relationship seriously, already planning such a considerate gift so ahead, one that demanded a lot of work. In spite of that he still managed to find time to hang out with him, to study hard and to spend most of his nights at Elyxion.

'There is a small recording studio room next to the music club classroom, I managed to use it with their permission.'

'I don't know what to say Chanyeol. It's incredible! You're incredible... It's the best gift ever.' He grinned. Chanyeol cooed at his face, he must have looked ugly crying with his big smile. Baekhyun took the brunette in his arms and squeezed hard. When Chanyeol leaned on him and snuggled his head on Baekhyun's shoulder like a cute puppy seeking for warmth and affection... It was the first time that the realisation he was in love with his amazing man stabbed him.

 

 

 

Baekhyun wakes up on his bed still half dressed. Desorientated, he looks at the clock. 11:49am. Gosh he slept like a rock. He does not remember how he got back to his flat, but the glass of water and painkillers on his bedside table let him guess that Minseok brought him back. He will have to thank his friend.

He sighs and massages his temples. It's alright, he is not too hangover, but he still straightens up and swallows the painkillers, just in case it worsens.

 

The memories of his dream about his Christmas with Chanyeol come back to his mind. It seems such a long time ago... So just because he must be some sort of sado-masochist, he switches on his small hi-fi and inserts the mixtape.

The first chords of accoustic guitar invade the room, followed by a deep voice he likes so much... “Sumeul keuge swieobwayo dangsinui gaseum yangjjogi jeorige”

It is still beautiful but tinted with a bittersweet taste, one that breaks his heart a little...

 

No, he could not believe this man only used him to fool around. He does not know what forced Chanyeol to end their relationship, but it was not indifference. Perhaps he truly feels insecure with their differences of social background. He should not, but Baekhyun knows how insecurities are wild, either too rational or too emotional. If it is only about insecurities, he will wait until Chanyeol comes along. However in the meantime he must make sure Chanyeol is not in danger, or being manipulated. Soft-hearted Chanyeol sometimes trusts the wrong people, it was proven with the Chois and Taejoon.

Chanyeol repeated how important Elyxion is too him, but he cannot prevent his suspicions. Baekhyun experienced it himself, how better he felt after leaving Elyxion. Even if he was depressed to not see Pan anymore, not being plunged in the atmosphere and the sensations provided by the brothel was a wake-up call. It was like awaking from a bad dream, as if he had been numbed by sleeping incense which made him feel as if he were in control, as if he were happy. It took weeks before his crave for the place disappeared.

 

He could report the brothel to the police but it would just expose Chanyeol, to lead him to jail even and the latter would never forgive him. No, he might be forced to act by the back door...

 

There is something about Yesung that he does not like. Regardless of what he did to Chanyeol, his brothel seems too clean to be true. If she could resign, why did Tiffany feel the need to leave without warning anyone? That might be nothing, but it is enough to bother him.

 

He types “Seoul CEO Taeyeon” on Naver, and he quickly comes across pictures of a familiar blonde woman. The President of Kim Electronics Corporations, one of the most influential Korean firms in the field of electronics. The more information he reads about her the more he realises how difficult it will be to get in touch with her.

He cannot stalk her, that's the fastest way to jail. Trying to obtain an appointment using his name? No, there are too many risks that his father will hear about it if he uses him as a reference. Unless... Unless he tries with another Byun. That's a shot in the dark, but he starts to look for older articles and searches in all the websites mentioning the corporations.

After half an hour, he gives a faint smirk. Bingo. I won't give up on you Park Chanyeol...

 

 

'Hyung, I beg you –'

'No Baekhyun, Kim Taeyeon's company is one of the most important clients of my law firm. At least tell me why you want to meet her, but you're too mysterious about it.'

'Come on, you know I'll never do anything that could jeopardise your career! I swear it's both very important and very private, you need to get me an appointment with her!' He whines.

He can hear his brother sigh on the phone.

'Fine, but I can't promise she'll accept. What do I even say to her? My baby bro says he need to meet you?'

'Just tell her that one of Pan's friends wants to talk to her. She'll understand.'

'… You're not involved in something dangerous, are you?' Baekbeom asks suspiciously. 'Not that I know of... For now.' Baekhyun teases.

'Oh my God Umma is going to kill me if anything happens to you!' He dramatically gasps. 'Nothing will happen to me hyung, relax. So, this appointement?'

 

 

A week later he is waiting on a velvet chair at the highest floor of the head office of a powerful company. It is late but it was Kim Taeyeon's only time slot available, and really he is grateful that she accepted to see him. I owe Baekbom one. He won't lie, he is impress. Everything he has seen so far exuded prosperity. He tries to not fidget on his chair. He must appear cool and confident. Finally the secretary lets him know that the CEO is ready to receive him. He bows to her and enters the office.

 

It is a spacious room with obviously large windows that display a breathtaking view of the city. He slowly comes closer, the woman at the desk has not yet raised her head from the papers in front of her. He takes advantage of it to take a closer look at the office, when he suddenly notice a framed picture on the desk. It's a close up of Taeyeon and Tiffany posing together, looking rather domestic and definitely happy.

 

Eventually Taeyeon focuses on him and he hastens to bow deeply. She returns the gesture and invites him to sit down. 'So, Byun Baekhyun-ssi? I know you.' Her gaze is sharp. She is wary of him, he realises.

'We met several times in the hallways of Elyxion, Ms Kim.' He answers assuredly. 'Indeed, you said you were one of Pan's friends after all. What can I do for you?'

He takes a short breath. That's the moment he must make an everlasting impression. 'I want Pan out of this place. But I sense it's not as easy as it sounds, except for you since you managed to get Tiffany to quit. So I ask you,' He leans on the desk, firmly fixing her, 'Is there something I should know?'

She does not divert her gaze, and returns a stare as hard and impassible as his.

'Yes, you should know that once you enter Elyxion, you don't get out of it. I'm sorry but your undertaking is doomed to failure. Now if you'll excuse me I have papers to fill...'

'What do you mean they can't leave? Cha... Pan told me he knew people who retired.' He presses her. He has not come this far to back off now.

'They retired from prostitution, but they're still working for Elyxion. Just not at Elyxion.' 'How do you know that?'

'I just do.' She sighs. 'Listen, this business is not a bedtime story. Trust me you don't want to get involved in this, it's better for you if you forget about your friend.'

'How do you dare to say this to me? Shouldn't you have forget about Tiffany then?' He is starting to lose his temper.

This time the CEO takes a few seconds to answer and her tone is less firm, 'It was different.'

'Well, I don't know your story but I love Pan, okay? I'm fucking in love with him and I'll do everything it takes to get him out of there, especially if he could be in danger!' He slightly pants after his tirade. He is standing up, frowning and shit. He may have gotten angry at the wrong person.

Fortunately the woman does not seem to take offence. She only sighs, this time more of sympathy than of annoyance. She gently answers, 'I understand but nothing can be done.'

Screw this, he has no dignity left at this point. 'Please Ms Kim, I beg you. At least explain it to me, I'll be the judge of whether I can do something or not.'

She lefts him hanging for an agonising minute before finally giving up. 'First of all I'll need more details. For how many years has he been there?'

'He's been living there for seven years, and working as a prostitute for almost four years.' 'What do you mean, living there?' She asks, clearly surprised.

 

He explains succintly that Yesung took him in after Pan's mother passed away, leaving in the dark the details and personal aspects of Chanyeol's story.

 

'That's a singular situation...' She underlines pensively. 'And you say that both Joy and him are authorised to go to college? Very peculiar indeed... Because you see, they want the prostitutes to have the impression of being free but they are not. At least the prostitutes with a stage name are in a better situation than the others, it means they are still blessed by ignorance. But the prostitutes who are called by their real name... There is no way they will ever get out of Elyxion. Well, apart from Yesung, but it's different his pseudonym is for hidding. Anyway from what you said, Yesung seems incredibly fond of Pan. That's both a good and bad thing, that makes Pan his weakness but at the same time he'll do anything to keep him by his side.'

'Earlier you mentioned people without naming them and talked about “ignorance” and all, but what do you mean? Who are “they”?' He is confused.

'Let's say that there is more to Elyxion than what meets the eyes. There are powerful people behind all this. It took me weeks to organise Tiffany's evasion, and until now it's still not over. I only managed to get her out because my position as the CEO of this corporation enables me enough power. However we still have to be careful, Tiffany cannot leave my house and has to be protected at every hour of the day.'

'Then help me to defeat them.'

'What?' She is taken aback to say the least.

'Don't you want her to be safe? There are good people, Tiffany's friends, in this brothel who deserve to be able to start a new life.' He argues.

'Of course I want her to be safe, but I don't want to kindle their anger furthermore by sticking my nose into their business. It could be dangerous for you too, you know.' The CEO warns him.

'Trust me to be sly about it. It may take some time, but with your power, my motivation and the police by our side I'm sure we'll neutralise them. Please Taeyeon-nim, for Tiffany.'

'The police...' She scoffs. 'You must prepare yourself for some desillusionments Baekhyun-ssi.'

He does not flinch, his glare does not lose the slightest of its determination and focus. She finally sighs, defeated. 'Alright, let's do this.'

Chapter Text

III.

 

 

The beginning of the semester had gone uneventfully so far. He already knew most of the professors, he fortunately was in the same class as Sehun again, and the programme seemed interesting. Chanyeol cannot believe it was the last year of their bachelor's degree.

'I should have chosen sociology as well, I hate ethics.' Sehun mumbled as they were walking in the hallways.

'It's only two hours a week, you'll get over it.' Chanyeol patted his shoulder comfortingly.

'You seem so eager to dismiss me, doesn't it break your heart that we'll be separated?' The younger clenched his chest in a dramatic manner.

'Go to your class, moron. I'll see you in an hour.' The brunette rolled his eyes at his friend's antics.

 

He was only a few meters away from the threshold of the class when someone exited it, talking on the phone.

'No hyung I swear I have no idea where it is! […] Why don't you ask umma? […] Listen my lesson starts in a minute so if you could –'

He was lucky the other was absorbed in his conversation, or else he would have caught the dumbfounded look the taller gave him. Chanyeol almost stopped walking to bide more time to admire the beautiful male.

The stranger was shorter than Chanyeol however he was not petite per say. He had large shoulders and a strong build even though his sweater did not do him justice, but Chanyeol became an expert at evaluating others' bodies. He was entrancing to say the least, chestnut hair, rosy lips with a peculiar triangular shape, full cheeks, delicate fingers and droppy eyes like ones of a puppy. And Chanyeol was a sucker for cute puppies.

Blushing and intimidated he past by the other. It was the first time in three years that he noticed him, so surely he was either new or from another major.

Gingerly he sat two tables away from what he supposed was the handsome stranger's table, being the only one with a notebook on it without anyone seated there. And indeed a minute later the stranger came back and sat there.

It was bad, very bad. Chanyeol spent the whole hour glancing at the handsome man, the way he licked his lips every so often, how he would tilt his head or tap his beautiful fingers on the table.

That won't do, he decided. If he did not want to fail this course he would better sit at the front row, that would be far less distracting. A silly unrequited crush would do him no good. He knew better than to let himself be diverted by gorgeous – and probably straight – men who would never pay attention to him.

 

It took him two weeks to catch his crush's name, when his friends met him at the end of their shared class. Chanyeol recognised them as former high school classmates, Kim Minseok and Kim Jongdae if he was not mistaken. Based on his memories they were studying Political Science, so it might also be the case of his handsome stranger.

'Byun Baek, over here!' Jondgae called him out.

Byun Baek, a pretty name for a pretty crush...

 

 

It was a Thursday like any other when he had the shock of his life. One of his clients just left so he took a quick shower.

Kris was a good customer, very charming and attentive to his needs. Moreover he was quite young and dashing compared to most of his other customers. They knew each other pretty well now after two years. It was a shame the tall man only passed by Seoul once per month, the business man being pretty busy in China and North America.

 

The prostitute hesitated. He had an hour of free-time, should he rest or should he visit the lounge? It had been a while since he last did it, he was pretty occupied now with his studies and his very busy schedule of customers.

Yes, he decided while pulling a suspender belt and a negligé on, it would change his mind before receiving Mr Kang.

 

He could still hear the music of Kai and Taemin's show, it seemed to be the end of their act.

He was not going to lie, he enjoyed the fact that his presence was so rare that he would gather all the attention every time he would enter the lounge.

'Pan, how are you doing tonight?' One of Jay's customers seductively asked while stroking his back. 'Just fine June-ssi.' He smiled pleasantly.

People were already surrounding him when he heard Yesung's voice, 'Pan my boy, please come with me for two minutes, I'd like to talk to you.'

He raised his head to pinpoint where this voice came from, when he noticed a silhouette next to the well-known one of his guardian.

 

There.

He thought his world was going to end right then.

Gloriously standing there, looking like sin itself, was Byun Baekhyun.

 

He was way too shocked to decipher his crush's expression. There was no way he could have recognised him, right? It was no like they were on speaking term, but if he did recognise him... Chanyeol was so screwed.

He followed his hyung in a daze, barely listening when Yesung made him sit in his office and asked him about how his week was going, if he had no particular problem with the customers. Yesung was like that, always making sure his employees were comfortable. Chanyeol blurted the usual answers, preoccupied by other matters.

 

Why was Byun Baekhyun here, in this sort of place? He had never seen his crush in other clothes than casual ones and it was already enough to make his heart beat faster, so when he was looking like a model out of magazine like that... He blushed just by remembering the gaze they exchanged, his classmate's eyes piercing his...

 

Wait, it was not the moment to fantasise about Byun Baekhyun, but rather to wonder what the fuck he was doing at Elyxion! Was he loaded pervert after all? Anyway, whether he wanted it or not he should come back to the lounge...

When he reached the room, his crush was seated on a couch with Sunmi and Hyuna. The prostitute was both relieved his classmate's attention was taken elsewhere, and a bit disappointed. So he was into women, eh. What a bummer.

He tried to stick as close as possible to Jongin and Taemin, and entertained a customer for a bit.

As he left the room he gave himself a peptalk. After all he was so different when he was at Elyxion, there was no way Byun Baekhyun would make the link between Park Chanyeol and the prostitute Pan, right?

 

 

Not right, not right at all. Abort the mission, abort the mission. Where was Sehun when he needed him? Chanyeol cursed, half running in the empty hallway.

He felt it when Byun Baekhyun had entered the classroom and let his eyes linger on Chanyeol. He felt his stare on his back for the whole lesson and did his best to look oblivious but he was nonetheless sweating profusely. At the moment the bell rang he bolted as fast as possible from his seat.

 

'Park Chanyeol, wait!' That voice full of authority stopped him. A voice he rarely heard but somehow it was deeply engraved in his chore.

He knows my name!! But wait… He knows. He knows it was me. He will laugh at me, mock me, ridicule me. Farewell sweet life, how to survive the fact my crush knows I'm a whore?!

He was on the verge of having a panic attack when his classmate arrived at his level. So he said his last prayer and slowly faced the shorter man.

The other was already scruting him with a gaze so deep and relentless that it made him even more nervous, therefore he hunched by reflex and tried to avoid Byun Baekhyun's eyes.

'Hey...' The chestnut-haired man finally began.

As for Chanyeol he was too petrified to say a word.

'I just wanted to say... I won't tell a soul you know, for yesterday. Your secret is safe with me, I promise I'll never use it against you.' Byun Baekhyun went on.

An ounce of anxiety left Chanyeol's shoulders. It was reassuring to hear, he just hoped the other was not an asshole and would respect his promise.

'And um, my name is Byun Baekhyun. I thought it would be only fair for you to know at least something about me since –'

'I know.' He could not prevent from cutting him off. Damn, why would he say it? That was like blatantly admitting he was interested in the handsome guy...

'Excuse me?' Baekhyun adorably asked, confused.

'I already know your name.' Chanyeol repeated, he had nothing to lose at this point.

'Yeol!' Saved by the bell! Chanyeol could recognise this shout anywhere. Promptly he spun around and threw a cry of help through his gaze to Sehun. The tall man was fast to sense the situation was fishy and made his infamous bitch face.

The taller had almost forgot Byun Baekhyun's presence when the other brushed past him and whispered, 'I've booked an hour with you on Monday. Thought you should know.'

 

The revelation stabbed him. What. Woozi did not warn him he would have a new customer. And not any customer.

Strong emotions fought inside him, and random thoughts came to his mind: “Oh so he is in fact interested in men, great!” “Wait, did he say he booked me?” “I'll sleep with Byun Baekhyun!!” “I can't believe he'd step so low...” “He found me attractive enough to book me oh my God!” “So after all he is the kind of guy to pay for sluts”

He was overwhelmed by disappointment. He could not deny part of him was excited, but none of his fantasies with the shorter man included him being his customer...

 

'Everything okay Yeol?' Sehun's worried voice brought him back to Earth. 'Wasn't it your crush, Byun something? Why do you look like you just saw a ghost?'

'It's nothing,' Chanyeol forced a smile, 'He just asked for my notes and it surprised me that he knew my name.'

'You sure? He didn't try something on you?' His younger friend seemed suspicious, 'Until now all the people you had a crush on were massive douchebags.'

'This one is okay for now,' Chanyeol laughed softly and put an arm around Sehun's shoulders, 'Let's go, I'll buy you some ice cream!'

 

 

Chanyeol truly got lucky the day he met Sehun. It was two months after they had begun college, the tall blonde had come to him one morning asking if he could sit next to him. Chanyeol did not know what had made Sehun want to befriend him, but once he started to tag along he never stopped. Contrary to Chanyeol, Sehun was a social butterfly. He had lots of friends and went to parties quite often. Chanyeol admitted one time he felt bad holding the other down, that he should meet with more people of their class and the other only answered, 'I have enough friends as it is, I don't need more from SNU.'

He was a bit bratty sometimes but he was the best friend Chanyeol could ask for. He was surprisingly perceptive, he understood Chanyeol was pansexual before the latter even thought about admitting it, and he was very supportive and tolerant as well.

He had tried to introduce him to some of his friends, but apart from Taewoo and that guy Joonhyuk he was a bit uncomfortable with them. Once, one of Sehun's friend had mocked him, saying he should losen up or else nobody would take interest on him, and Sehun had lashed out against him so violently it made Chanyeol shake. From that day Sehun had become very protective of him and did not force him to meet new people.

The fact that through the past three years Chanyeol indeed took a liking to girls and boys who proved themselves unworthy did nothing to ease Sehun's protectiveness.

Sometimes he reminded him of Jongin who would also be wary of Chanyeol's safety. It was a shame his dongsaengs treated him like they were the hyungs.

 

 

Monday night came all too quickly, Chanyeol had been a nervous wreck all day.

However, as soon as he put some gloss on and began to cover his body with glitters, he left all his apprehensions behind. It was Pan that Byun Baekhyun wanted? Then he would have him, and he would get his money's worth.

 

Hyun, that was the name on his field, was no more than another client. It was not because they knew each other outside of Elyxion that he should get personal with him.

He had been surprised when Woozi said his new customer left before even trying to give instructions. Usually, customers had a pretty clear idea about what they wanted and would not hesitate to make the prostitutes recreate their fantasies.

The rest of his appointments went just as usual, it gave him a bit of confidence, and when Hyun knocked on the door, he was ready.

 

 

Or not. Nothing could have prepared him for the innocence and unease Hyun displayed at first. It seemed pretty obvious that it was Hyun's first time with a prostitute, and he appeared as much conflicted as Chanyeol felt. He was quite good at reading the desire in people's gaze, and Hyun's desire was... Consuming, devastating. Nevertheless he restricted himself so much, tiptoeing around was he thought he could do and what he could not. He had been so cautious and respectful with Pan, it became difficult for him to stay detached.

 

It proved to be even more challenging as weeks flew by. It was safe to say Pan never had a  customer like Hyun, so devoted to make him feel good and comfortable. It was nice for a change to not execute creepy fantasies. Every gesture Hyun made provoked butterflies in his stomach, and little by little he let his guard down.

After a month, it became difficult even for himself to know where were the boundaries between Pan and Chanyeol when he was with Hyun. He never experienced such tender and intimate sex before, and it frightened him to no end.

 

After all Hyun was there for Pan, not Park Chanyeol and the prostitute made sure to keep that in check by staying at as far as he could from Byun Baekhyun.

 

 

It all changed one summer night. He was deadly tired, he hated summer sometimes for its flow of customers. Pan was not use to handle this many hours and his body let him know that. So he laid there defenceless on the bed, comforted by the idea that Hyun was his next customer.

 

It was unexpected when the prostitute felt a weight on his body, he did not hear anybody enter the room and panicked a little, was it... 'Hyun? You are –'

'Shut up.' A cold voice cut him off. It was Hyun, he could recognise his touch and his scent but at the same time it was like he was an entirely different person. Pan was too stunned to protest or make a sound, and when the customer began to roughly finger him all hell broke loose.

 

A God damn wake up call. In the end Byun Baekhyun was like any other man: what he wanted he got, using him like the trash he was. He felt both relieved and devastated. At least he won't fall for him anymore, but at the same time he felt betrayed to have thought this man was different.

 

All parts of him that belonged to “Park Chanyeol” disappeared to only let place to Pan. A prostitute moaning no matter what and unbothered by slut shaming.

He saw how horrified his customer looked after the act, but he dismissed it. There was no use for apologies when the prostitute should not have hoped for more than that. And even though the young man tried his best to shower him with his usual tenderness, the harm had been done.

A reminder that he should not give his heart carelessly.

 

 

The rest of July went by, August as well. Hyun never came back. His final visit let an everlasting memory on Pan's mind, never had the man displayed so much care, so much love dared he say. Pan felt consumed by this attention, like an idol cherished by his most fervent believer.

The pull was almost too strong to bear, it took him all his willpower to not betray himself and to keep in mind what the shorter had done to him.

Years of being treated this way, and Hyun only did it once so part of him wanted to forgive his  crush his moment of madness. However he sensed at the same time that he should be more inflexible with the handsome man.

Nonetheless, when Hyun went missing from his schedule he had doubts. Was the other on vacations out of Seoul? Or was he gone for good...

What had Pan done or not done?

It would be a lie to say Pan did not miss his favourite customer, their laughs and hand holding in the intimate bedroom.

 

 

Byun Baekhyun seemed... Different. Or should he say indifferent. When during the first semester he could often sense the other's stare on him, the political science student did not grant him his attention anymore and seemed to pointedly ignore the taller's presence.

Obviously the man was as handsome as ever, however he did look a bit thinner to Chanyeol. Had the other lost weight? Lost in his thought he noticed too late that the object of his attention was looking his way. Flustered the Social Welfare student promptly turned away.

Caught red handed.

 

To be fair the curly haired man did not know what was the most embarrasing: being caught everytime he looked at his classmate, or the fact that he could not prevent himself from doing it.

 

 

'Hey Hyung, can we meet?'

'I'm a bit busy Taejoon...' He answered with hesitation, his phone pressed between his ear and shoulder while he was rummaging through paper homework.

'Please, it won't take long!'

Chanyeol sighed inwardly. He felt a bit guilty about talking to Sooyoung behind Taejoon's back, therefore he should maybe grant his friend's wish. 'Alright, where?'

 

Truthfully he should have seen it coming. From Taejoon's tone on the phone, the location of their meeting, the late hour and the mere fact Sooyoung ended things between them the eve, he should have predicted the trap.

The first punch hit him by surprise all the same. He could have expected the shouts, the anger, to be held accountable. But to be cornered in an empty parking lot and being showered with blows by someone who said he was like a brother to him? Never.

Indeed he stayed petrified against the assaults and curled up the best he could, unable to retaliate.

 

'Hey, you!' An unexpected voice intervened.

It all happened so fast, before he knew it Byun Baekhyun had sent Taejoon's friend on the ground. Too confused to try to understand the situation he was only driven by the thought, “Help him!” So by reflex he grabbed Taejoon's ankle to make him fall, but it was not very efficient and right after his former friend punched him in the stomach.

'You son of a bitch!' So ironic.

 

A knife, Baekhyun in danger, the taller could not react. Only when Taejoon writhed in pain Chanyeol came back to his senses and driven by pure adrenaline rush he grabbed Byun Baekhyun's arm and motionned him to run.

 

Weirdly enough their run cleared the brunette's mind. He had been attacked by a friend. His former customer appeared from nowhere and saved him. Now they were both injured and in need of first aid. Great.

 

 

Honestly Chanyeol did not know how they ended in this situation. What possessed him to offer to Baekhyun to treat his wounds? Worst, to bring him at Elyxion, in the prostitutes' private part of the building, in his own damn private room?! He got lucky that Jongin was the only one who saw them, he could be in big troubles.

 

With shaking hands he searched his first aid kit, while his classmate sat on his bed. Byun Baekhyun was in his bedroom, he almost squealed at the thought.

'So I guess this is the real Neverland?' The shorter man commented.

'I guess, yeah. You could say that.' He chuckled with the kit in his hands.

He did his best to not look directly at the handsome male and to focus on the wounds he needed to treat, yet the other had none of it, 'Could you explain to me what was this all about?'

And for real, Chanyeol did not mean to spill it all, but his classmate had the nerve to pout and he was a weak man.

Before he knew it Baekhyun was aware of the whole story, a pathetic one with hindsight.

'I'm sorry you ended up tangled in this shit, it's went so far for a stupid story...' He apologetically sighed.

'Well, thanks. Can I help you now?' Baekhyun offered.

Chanyeol was used to take care of his wounds when it happened that a customer went a bit too far, however the mere idea of having Baekhyun's hands on him... Too tempting.

 

It took him a good minute of peptalk before daring to bring the subject of Hyun's absence. He hated how obvious and needy he sounded, but fortunately his classmate did not pick him up on it.

Instead Baekhyun opened up and shared his point of view on what they were doing. Chanyeol felt his heart speed up a little, the gaze they were exchanging was too intimate.

 

So his former customer did not get tired of him, it was just his moral which caught him up.

 

He was busy analysing these new information when Baekhyun's next question caught him off guard. 'Do you think... We could become friends?'

'Friends? You mean people you hang out with? Wouldn't it be awkward?' That sounded naïve and mistrustful even to his own ears.

Baekhyun's arguments were appealing, however... Was he ready to gamble his heart on it? There was also a chance that by learning more about it each other he would stop idealising him. After all, he had been a little attracted to Sehun at first and now this idea seemed completely ridiculous to Chanyeol.

He would just have to keep alert and lock any romantic attraction in a buried box of his brain. Baekhyun's bright smile and crescent eyes when he finally accepted were the best reward he could ask for.

 

 

'So Hyung, what happened?' Jongin asked as soon as Baekhyun left the house, entering the other's room.

The dancer was already dressed for his performance of the night. He had a worried frown on his forehead.

'Shit, that's a nasty cut on your cheekbone!' The younger cursed, brushing delicately the wound. 'Wait to see my ribs...' The older sighed.

'You'll have to warn Yesung hyung, you won't be able to cover your shifts tomorrow with damaged face and body...' He commented.

'Yeah I guess I should go to him as soon as possible.' Chanyeol rubbed his head, frustrated. 'But first you said you'd tell me, so quick hyung I only have half an hour!'

 

So Chanyeol updated his friend with the latest details about Sooyoung and Taejoon's relationship. However when Jongin demanded clarifications about Baekhyun's situation... The older gave in and confessed that Hyun was in fact one of his classmates and that now the latter wanted to become friend with him. Jongin looked already horrified, so Chanyeol preferred to hide the tiny little fact that in addition to all this, the prostitute had had a crush on his classmate turned customer.

In fact he did not need to, Jongin knew him all too well. 'You like him, don't you?' He asked suspiciously.

'I did, I'm not sure anymore. We had an... Unpleasant encounter once and it changed my opinion about him. He tries to make amends but you know, I think I need to stay alert.' The permed hair guy explained.

'Of course you must be on your guard!' The younger exclaimed. 'Saw what happened with Taejoon? If he turns petty like that, think of how much damage he could do to you with all the things he knows! Alright, he saved you when he could have just gone on his way so I guess it's a good point for him, but,' at that he pointed an accusing finger at Chanyeol, 'Hyung you trusted the wrong people too often. Please be careful.'

 

 

Easier said than done. For two months Chanyeol had a hard time trying to not fall in love with his new friend. At least Jongdae and Minseok were very friendly and easy-going, they made it easier for him to open up.

However it was a constant struggle for him to bear Baekhyun's proximity. Like a game of push and pull, he was seeking the other's presence and always dragged him in his getaways when nobody else would join him, and at the same time he was doing his best to keep his distance. His body was itching to lean on Baekhyun's, to smell his musky scent and to feel his body heat. That was why everytime such thoughts would cross his mind, Jongin's frowning face would appear and keep him on the right track.

 

So when Baekhyun called him out one evening, demanding explanations for his defensive behaviour Chanyeol did not hesitate to counterattack. The shorter man was usually known for his merriment, but Chanyeol was surprised to observe that he was quite secretive, as if his carefree attitude was not a hundred percent honest.

 

He listened carefully Baekhyun's story and secrets, and honestly it explained a lot of things. He felt himself boiling while hearing about his past boyfriend and Baekhyun's lack of confidence due to his father's contempt. For the first time he had the impression to really see Byun Baekhyun but he wanted more. He wanted to know everything, why the brothel, why keeping his sexual orientation secret? He was too greedy.

 

'– more obvious that you're gay, guys would be queuing to take you on dates.' 'Would you?'

The question took him by surprise. I mean, yeah I would but... Would you want me to?

Was Baekhyun hitting on him, was he interested? The taller was triggered by his friend's intentions. He was aware he should not delude himself, he took to heart signs of affections too much in the past. Perhaps his friend was only missing the sex with Pan.

Disconcerted he flew out of the room without a glance towards Baekhyun.

Please don't mess with my heart more than you did...

 

 

'You're getting your bachelor's degree in two months, right? Take it as far as you can Yeollie bear...' Tiffany had whispered to his ear, hugging him tight.

The next morning when he knocked on her door to tell her breakfast was ready, she was gone.

 

'I'm sad she left without telling anyone, but at least now I hope she'll be happy.' Jinhwan sighed. 'You think she left to be with Taeyeon-nim, her dreamy CEO?' Chittaphon murmured with a secretive tone.

The youngsters, as they were called – that is to say Taemin, Minki, Jongin, Jinhwan, Chittaphon, Sooyoung and him – were confined in the living-room while the others were taking care of the crisis.

What a mess! Tiffany's most loyal clients would be furious, and within such a short notice they would have to divide the customers between the other prostitutes. That meant more work and messed up schedules, Chanyeol did not know whether Jihoon had already been warned or not, but their petite receptionist would go berserk for sure. After all, he would be the first one to suffer from the customers' anger.

 

'Noona!' Minki exclaimed as Sunmi entered the living room. They all quickly stood up to surround her. 'Noona, what did Yesung say?'

'Alright munchkins, it's been sorted out. All the customers of tonight had been called. Some said they won't come back but no need to worry it won't affect the business too much. Schedules have been rearranged but most of yours guys haven't. Soo sweetie you can go check yours, three customers asked specifically for you to replace Tiff.'

The brunette gravely nodded and exited the room. Sunmi turned towards the taller man of the room, 'Yeollie two customers asked for you as well.'

 

 

Chanyeol remembered when he entered Elyxion the first time. Yesung only showed him the private parts at first, that is to say his bedroom, the living room, and the kitchen. He was surprised to have his own bathroom, because all prostitutes' bedrooms were equipped with a small bathroom. At first he stayed in the private parts and only after he got rid of his preconceptions he explored the other parts of the huge building. The areas where the customers were received, the secret places, the offices and hidden corridors... There was much to see and he got lost more than once.

Fortunately there was always a good soul to chuckle at his misery and to lead him to right path.

At that time there were only females since Yesung had been the only male prostitute and had retired to run the business; years later the pimp would change it all and hire a mixed staff. Nobody knew male prostitutes would turn out to be so successful.

 

Anyway, he felt like a little prince in the middle of a harem sometimes. Nobody could replace his Yoora-noona in his heart, but he was not lacking in noonas either and he never complained about it. Jinah, Hara, Gain, Dara, Hyolyn, and the others were all very doting with him.

There was only Hyuna who could be a bit mean sometimes, but he knew she did not mean it. Everything was new to her as well, and she thought she had to play the tough one to be respected.

The ones who had been there for a long time though, they were always giving him sweets like a kid, poking his cheeks and cooing about how cute he was. 'Just as cute as Yeeun said you were!' They would say and then look elsewhere with wet eyes.

The prostitutes all missed their friend.

 

Despite everyone's care and attention, Chanyeol's favourite noona had always been Sunmi-noona. When he felt he was lacking affection he would go to Sunmi's room and would relate his day, curled on her lap. She would soothingly stroke his hair, listening with kindliness at all his petty troubles. Then when the time would come for her to receive her customers she would jokingly chase him out of her room.

She had good stories about Yeeun, funny and emotional ones. Even though it was way too late he finally got to know his biological mother a little.

 

Even now when Chanyeol needed affection and support he would go to Sunmi's sanctuary, it was his safe place. A den for broken soul neeeding the gorgeous woman's strenght. He did not dare to talk to her about Baekhyun because he did not want to worry her, moreover the brunette was not sure if she could keep it to herself. The young prostitute knew she loved him to no end but her loyalty laid with Yesung.

 

Now she was almost fourty and still managed to keep going. 'I can't abandon my munchkins!' She would protest with a warm smile.

'We live on borrowed time.' She would sometimes add with melancholy.

 

Whether it was at fifteen or twenty-one years old, Chanyeol never truly got it but the sentence still stuck to his mind, like an indelebile warning. We live on borrowed time.

 

 

 

Chanyeol almost wanted to cancel his appointment with Sehun, he was so damn tired by the last night's events, but he knew he would never hear the end of it if he dared to stand Sehun up.

Let's say he did not regret at all when he discovered the amazing surprise his friends had prepared for him. The brunette felt even more touched to know that most of it was the result of Baekhyun's ideas and work. Truthfully he had a good laugh seeing his Nick Wilde cake.

 

He could see his friend, looking at him from afar with a fond smile and taking pictures. The shorter man was such a considerate person, he felt overwhelmed by gratitude thinking about all the efforts the other made to be part of his life. He got out of his comfort zone many times, confided in him, always listened to him. And it was only proven by his gift, the vinyl he coveted for months.

 

'Thank you...' Chanyeol softly said as they were getting ready to leave Sehun's flat.

'Don't thank me yet,' Baekhyun playfully kicked him, 'I have something else for you. Do you have time to pass by my apartment? It's not a big detour from Itaewon.'

After all it was his night off and the mere mention of a present made his ears twitch.

 

 

'Please sit down and close your eyes, I'll fetch it.' Baekhyun requested once they were in his flat. The taller felt curious and excited, he imagined a thousand of possibilities but nothing prepared him for Baekhyun's true present.

 

Numbness took possession of his body as he discovered the unthinkable: hide's. Freaking. Guitar. He could ear Baekhyun's rambling somewhere and did not even try to be rational, he outright jumped on him, beyond grateful and a bit teary. He could not wait to try it!

 

Then it was raining and Chanyeol had no other choice but to stay at Baekhyun's. Well, he could have left but he did not want to. And he did not regret it, they spent a nice evening, cooking, doing their homeworks and watching one of his favourite movie.

Evenings at Baekhyun's are the best, and that night Chanyeol felt especially driven to him.

 

'It doesn't seem like it will stop raining any time soon...' Baekhyun commented, 'I can lend you my umbrella if you want.'

At that offer it hit him. No, he truly did not want to step in the rain. He did not want to leave Baekhyun. It was awfully embarrassing, but he gathered all his courage, 'Does... Does your offer to let me stay tonight still stand...?'

Of course Baekhyun accepted like the polite guy he was and he provided him all he could need.

 

Once under the shower Chanyeol splashed cold water on his face. What was he thinking, what was the plan?

'I offer you a shelter for the night in exchange of your story.' Baekhyun had said. He did not bring the subject again but, what if... What if tonight was the big time Chanyeol should reveal his somber past. If there was anyone he felt like telling to, it was him, he realised. With all his gestures for the past two months Baekhyun earned the right to know.

 

The tall man felt a bit ridiculous in these clothes, but the way Baekhyun looked at him awoke old memories, a time when Hyun looked at Pan with the same burning desire. However, he was not dressed with daring pieces of lingerie or in a seductive costume. Could plain-tracksuit-Chanyeol attract Baekhyun?

 

 

It required a lot of inwards struggle but eventually he did it. He held Baekhyun back, and told him everything. From his lonely childhood to his enrollment as a prostitute. He told him about the absent mother who cared about him more than the ones who raised him. He expounded his regrets, his shameful behaviour, his fears of abandonment and other issues. He revealed how broken and pathetic he was before breaking down in front of his friend. The latter only held him tight, never scurried away instead he provided him with constant strokes and sweet compassionate words.

 

He needed it, the attention, the caresses, the affection and somehow he needed more... Driven by pure lust he claimed Baekhyun's lips.

 

Want want care want affection love, they were kissing as if it was their last night on Earth.

 

When Baekhyun pushed him and asked stupid questions about repayment or whatever, he panicked. His friend's gaze when he exited the bathroom made him hope but did he get delusional again?

'I want you Baekhyun. Don't you want me too? I can act more like Pan if you prefer...' He desperatly offered, he needed Baekhyun right now, no matter what it would take.

'No no gosh,' Baekhyun hastened to reassure him, looking appalled by the idea, 'I want you so much Yeol, you have no idea... But I also don't want you to regret it.'

Who cared about regrets? Baekhyun wanted Park Chanyeol, he waited for this ever since he laid his eyes on the handsome man nine months ago.

 

Chanyeol had never been so eager during sex, but well it felt like a first time considering how different it was from usual. Hyun was more intimidating than Baekhyun who was so cute like that, looking desperatly for condoms.

'You don't usually have condoms?' Chanyeol snorted. 'I never bring men here.' Baekhyun explained.

Oh. Right, the great Byun Baekhyun preferred hotel rooms. But he was about to have sex with Chanyeol in his bed. He did not have the time to feel like a special snowflake, Baekhyun was already claiming back his mouth and all thoughts evaporated.

 

 

Chanyeol felt on cloud nine, waking up in Baekhyun's arms like this. 'Hi...' He shyly whispered when his eyes finally focused on his lover of the night. However he only met a panicked look, and a mute Baekhyun. Maybe he needed time to remember what happened, so Chanyeol let him. When his friends dropped his arms from around his waist though, it smelt fishy. The brown haired man seemed unable to find his words.

Perhaps he did not realise but he forced Baekhyun last night, perhaps the latter was not so into it... After a minute of silence, Chanyeol ended apologising, 'Sorry about last night.'

 

At that Baekhyun protested that he should be the one apologising.

So what, they would both take the “blame” as if they thought the other was regretting the past events? They truly had trouble being on the same page, Chanyeol sighed inwardly.

 

Just when he started thinking he really should not expect anything from Baekhyun, the latter blurted the most beautiful thing.

'I don't want you to believe that it was just a one-night stand for me because it meant so much more. I want you Park Chanyeol. I like you. I want to hold your hand, to bring you to dates, to do cringy stuff that would make Jondgae gag.'

That was amazing. That was precisely what he wanted to hear and even more. Overwhelmed, Chanyeol opened his mouth, ready to confess as well but Baekhyun was not finished.

'So it doesn't matter if last night was casual to you, if you don't see me that way. I'll woo you Park Chanyeol, just you wait. I'll make you like me, you'll see.'

He had trouble wrapping his head around the idea that his friend liked him back. What were the odds? These kind of things never happened to him usually. So then Baekhyun did not suspect at all that Chanyeol could like him? Interesting. Being courted? Even more interesting.

 

However he remembered Taejoon and Sooyoung's story. Would Baekhyun be able to take it, dating a prostitute and all? What was on the right side of the balance for him?

 

He did not expect that Baekhyun would be so adamant to prove him wrong, nor such a detailed confession. The shorter shamelessly described all the things he liked about the brunette as if it was not killing Chanyeol of embarrassment and joy mixed.

 

He thought he could die of happiness right there right then.

'People left you behind before, but I promise you I won't.' Baekhyun asserted as if he could read mind and see Chanyeol's fears as clearly as he could see his material body.

'So... You like like me, huh?' Chanyeol finally found the strenght to utter. 'Glad you get it.' Baekhyun fondly sassed.

 

 

The three months that lasted their relationship were nothing but a bliss. Going to dates, waking up extra early to use the record studio before classes, sneaking kisses... His heart felt full just by looking at his lover.

The intimacy and tenderness were great, but it was not only that, they learnt more about each other as weeks flew by and progressively connected on another level.

 

And yet... Chanyeol could not contain his anxiety. It all felt like a dream, he wanted to enjoy the most of it but he knew it would not last.

We live on borrowed time.

How long did he have before Baekhyun got tired of the situation?

To be honest he took no pleasure in offering his body to other people than his lover, but it was his job, it did not mean anything.

He felt slightly shameful when he would present his body covered with marks to his lover, but Baekhyun never looked at him with digust for that. So he dared hope it really was alright for the shorter man...

 

That was why he got tense when Baekhyun asked him about why he would not quit Elyxion. He would, eventually but now was too soon. He needed the financial and emotional stability Elyxion was providing him. Furthermore, he could not admit that between his lover and the brothel he would choose the latter one.

Better choose the harsh reality than an ephemeral dream.

Baekhyun was not perfect with his flaws and insecurities but still destined for a brighter future than Chanyeol's. He had the cleverness, family background, the strenght and audacity.

Baekhyun was the flame slowly and deliciously burning Chanyeol's wings, and he knew from the start that he would have to leave before he could not fly anymore.

 

 

Surely Chanyeol heard wrong, surely he was not serious? How could someone as awesome as Baekhyun be in love with someone like Chanyeol, right?

Soon enough he would show some common sense and forget about him, right?...

 

The past few months as a friend then as a lover proved him how incredible Byun Baekhyun was. How sweet and caring he could be even though he would not openly show it at first. He was always attentive to what Chanyeol could say or do, nothing he did fell on deaf ears. Baekhyun was there for the beautiful and ugly parts of him, he would not shy away in front of Chanyeol's demons and would only hold him tighter. Enchanting laughter, bright eyes, funny, smart, dedicated, sociable...

Moreover he was unbelievably handsome and an amazing lover in bed, but that was not new. In short, Chanyeol did not deserve him.

Therefore he wanted to believe it when his lover would promise things to him and evoke the future, so much. But you will get tired of me, whether you want it or not.

 

Baekhyun's confessions made him both overjoyed and sorrowful. The urge to reciprocate was overwhelming but he had to fight it with a hug or a kiss. We live on borrowed time. He believed it would hurt less if they kept it without involving too many feelings.

 

He felt guilty enough to hurt Baekhyun by letting his confessions unanswered.

 

You think you love me. It won't last.

 

 

The final blow came with their graduation. That day began magnificently though.

They received their diploma and he got to deliver a speech as the valedictorian. Chanyeol felt very anxious when he went on stage, but Baekhyun's proud eyes on him gave him wings.

As a bonus Jongin, Sooyoung and Chittaphon made the trip to see him and brought him flowers. He had never been happier, finally he felt as if he achieved something important, surrounded by the right people.

Speaking about the right people... He turned towards Baekhyun, a few meters away. Elated he walked to his lover without thinking.

He was so delighted he could kiss him right there right then.

 

It felt like a cold shower when he noticed who Baekhyun was talking to. Even without being introduced he could have guess who they were, Baekhyun, his mother and his brother all had physical similarities, as for the gloomy man by their side he was exactly like Chanyeol had imagined him.

However he was not prepared to face Suho, one of Elyxion's customer. What could he be thinking? What a mere prostitute was doing in college, being friend with someone like Baekhyun at that?

 

It was too much, between Suho's sharp gaze, the banter which began almost instantly between Baekhyun and his father, the unease and anger of the former, and Mrs Moon's no less sharp gaze, assessing him like some people assess pets in dog shows.

'So Chanyeol, are you parents here as well? What are they doing for a living?'

She did not want to be mean, but obviously she could not prevent it either. To judge someone and estimate the benefits he could bring to her family. It reminded him of what Baekhyun said about his parents choosing the people he should hang out with.

So he did the best thing he could think of: he escaped.

 

 

The day of the graduation messed with his head, no doubt about it. He could see the scene unfold on loops, the refined clothes, the judging stares and obnoxious words.

He could not imagine how Baekhyun had to deal with that for years, but what if as years would pass by he begins to ressemble them?

He knew Baekhyun was not like that, but the worst ideas clouded his mind late at night. When the last customer would leave his room and that he was laying inert on the bed of the crimson sheets, a surge of apprehension and self-depreciation would eat him alive.

And every night as Yesung would do his rounds to check on him he would surprise him shedding some tears.

 

That night, the pimp sighed and sat by his side, 'Chanyeol my boy, you seemed especially down this past few weeks. Why don't you wash and go to your bedroom, I'll join you in half and hour and we'll talk, yeah?'

The prostitute could only nod at the words of his guardian. Talk.

The owner of Elyxion was incredibly lenient with him but there was no way he would approve of what he was doing with Baekhyun, so he would have to find a believable lie.

 

 

True to his words, knocks were heard precisely half an hour later. The man entered cautiously the room. 'It's been a while since I've been there!' He joked, looking around. He frowned when he caught glimpse of an unknown element, 'Since when do you have an electric guitar?'

Shit! Chanyeol chastised himself, he forgot to hide Judy!

'Huh all of my friends saved up to offer me this for my birthday.' He prevented himself from stuttering.

'Really? That's very good friends you have, it makes me a bit self-conscious about the coat I bought you...' Yesung said thoughtfully.

'Don't be crazy hyung, I love it! I wore during the entire winter, a Tommy Hilfiger at that!' The younger exclaimed.

'I'm glad then, after all I promised to Yeeun-noona I'd take good care of you.' His guardian gave him a gentle smile.

 

They stayed silent a little after that, the older caught in his memories of his late mentor and noona. Then he finally turned back to Chanyeol fidgetting on his bed. 'So Chanyeol, what's wrong? I'm not here as your boss but as your hyung, so you know you can tell me anything, right?'

'Of course hyung,' Chanyeol chuckled nervously, 'It's nothing serious, I'm just worried about beginning my master's degree.'

'You know that if college is too much for you you can drop, right?' Yesung hesitantly asks.

'What?' The student was shocked to hear such a thing from his guardian. 'Why would I drop college?'

'Sometimes I feel guilty about offering you to stay here.' The pimp sighed without really answering. 'But I'm really grateful though, where would I've been if not for you?'

'Did you know that Hyolyn has a master's degree in marketing?' Yesung avoided the question once again.

'What, for real?' Chanyeol grew more and more confused, what was it all about?

'Yeah, but she had not been hired right away after her studies so that's how she began to work at Elyxion.' His guardian explained, 'It was supposed to be temporary, but people learnt about it and she never managed to find a job... I'm afraid that will happen to you and Sooyoung as well.'

'That's what you feel guilty about? That I'm doomed?' The brunette asked softly. Yesung nodded, regrets written all over his face.

'Don't worry about me hyung, I'll try anyway, I won't be defeated so easily!' He cheerfully assserted. 'It's not only about your career, the rest as well, like a love life for instance.' His hyung sighed again. '… What about it?' Chanyeol gingerly inquired. Did he have suspicions, would he bring Baekhyun's subject?

Instead Yesung said, 'Did I ever talk to you about my boyfriend Ryeowook?' His ward shook his head, so the quadragenarian continued,

'We knew each other since we were children, he had always been my best friend but around high school I grew feelings for him. Lucky me, he shared the same ones and we dated for five years. When I ran out of money and began to work at Elyxion he supported me and accepted it even though it was difficult for us. However, we inexorably grew apart, and when we both came back from our military service he did not answer my letters anymore.

One day I caught a glimpse of him by chance, he was holding a woman by her waist. I managed to contact him one last time and confonted him. He said that our story could not go on indefinitely, that nobody could date a prostitute for too long, that the real life was waiting for him.

I never loved anyone else after that.'

 

They stayed silent for a minute, Chanyeol felt full of empathy and dejection on his hyung behalf.

'I had no idea, I'm sorry to hear you had to endure that, hyung. But not all people are like that Ryeowook...'

'Do you think so? Can you imagine someone willingly spend his life with a prostitute?' The pimp retorted.

'Well, if they love you, if people love each other so much...' Chanyeol argued ill at ease.

'Would you impose it to someone you love? Can you imagine how the person feels thinking about you spending your night and body with other people? Not only that, but they would have to bear the judgments and criticisms on your relationship. Do you think it's fair to do that to the person you love and consciously ruin their lives? All in all I'm glad Ryeowook broke up with me, we would have suffer so much more if our story had gone on...'

His hyung's gaze got lost in reminiscences.

'I'm afraid I stained you, Chanyeol. I wanted to give you a family without thinking that one day we would not be enough anymore...'

 

 

Were they enough? Chanyeol asked himself after Yesung's departure. Were Yesung, Jongin, Sunmi, Sooyoung, Taemin, Chittaphon, Joohyun and the others enough?

 

They were his nightly source of strenght, his siblings in arms. Selfless, comforting, understanding, an unwavering source of mental and emotional support. How could he leave the people who enabled him to feel confident?

 

But on the other hand there was Baekhyun, the only man who ever made him feel this protected and desired, the only one who made his heart beat so fast.

After all, if he left Elyxion we would not need so much emotional support, right?

And yet Yesung's words came to his mind. Was he not too selfish to keep the promising man to himself?

Until then Chanyeol only thought about protecting himself, but not Baekhyun's reputation or feelings.

He never deluded himself into thinking that what they had was made to last, so maybe it was time to end things now, before Chanyeol finally reciprocated his lover's confessions, before they made too many plans for a condemned future.

The mere thought of breaking up with Baekhyun brought tears to his eyes, but if he truly cared about the latter he should not drag him in his fall.

 

His dreams that night were inhabited by sneers, rectangular smiles, hateful gazes, melodies, wet tears, gentle strokes and hands dropping his. A light leaving him in the dark.

 

You can find another me but I can't. When the moon is gone I'll let you go.

 

 

 

 

And here they are. It has been two weeks since he broke up with Baekhyun. They do not share a class anymore so they barely run into each other, Chanyeol only catches glimpse of the trio once in a while.

 

It caused a shock to Sehun to learn about their separation, even though he was quite sceptical about it at the beginning, he came around the idea to the point to say he was glad, and that Chanyeol had never seemed so radiant before.

Chanyeol had to assure him that “It was all his fault so please don't hate Baek he did nothing wrong” for him not to throw a tantrum.

 

He will not let anyone badmouth his ex-lover, not even his friend, when he is the one who said the most aweful things to Baekhyun.

It causes a pang to his chest everytime the devastated face of the other comes to his mind, he cannot believe he managed to close his heart so efficently and to belittle all the moments he cherished, to make up stupid arguments.

Chanyeol must have been convincing enough though, Baekhyun did not try to reach him since.

He had braced himself to receive texts and calls of supplications but his phone never displayed his lover's name. He is not sure whether he should feel relieved or disappointed.

 

He misses everything, so much. He wishes they could go back to the early stage of their friendship, the five of them hanging out and enjoying their student lives. However, he knows he will end up begging Baekhyun to take him back and that should not happen. It would do good to none of them.

 

So he goes on with his life. Except that now he does not pass by the music club anymore, it holds too many bittersweet memories. His life is reduced to going back and forth the college and Elyxion, and he tries to persuade himself it's for the best.

After all, he never studied that much.

 

 

The first blow comes almost two months after their break-up.

Chanyeol honestly wants for Baekhyun to move on and to enjoy his life at the fullest, but that does not prevent his world from crumbling when he spots his ex-lover eating one-to-one with a stranger.

 

He could have brushed it aside if the said stranger was not the most beautiful man Chanyeol has ever seen.

The man is slightly taller than Baekhyun, slim, with a fair complexion and blond hair. He has a delicate face and large doe eyes.

Chanyeol is deeply in love with the shorter man, but he is not blind and if he finds Baekhyun awfully handsome this stranger is other-worldly.

 

'So Yeol, do you go in or what?' Sehun's voice behind his shoulder brings him back on Earth. 'Wait, isn't that Baek at the table on the left? Who's the guy with him, I've never seen him on the campus... My God he's gorgeous as hell!!' His tall friend annoyingly yells.

 

It crushes his heart, how perfect they look together and how anyone could see that.

 

'Can we go somewhere else?' He hates how his voice cracks at the end of the sentence. Sehun throws him a concerned gaze.

'Hey cheer up Yeol, it's not because they're eating together that they're on a date!... Wait a sec they're coming this way!'

Nimbly Sehun grabs his arm and throws them both behind the walls of another store, as if they were in some badly played spy movie.

The duo exits the cafe with the stranger's hand on Baekhyun's back, and they both hop on the blond man's car.

Chanyeol can feel Sehun on the verge of flagging down a taxi and to shout 'Follow this car!' but really the movie must stop. It is the reality, and even though he does not want to read too much into Baekhyun's behaviour, it seems like he is erasing Chanyeol from his life.

 

 

I know I'm the stupid one who ended it, and now I'm the stupid one regretting it. I've been thinking bout you lots lately. Have you been filling empty beds just like me? I've been thinking about you lots lately, or are you moving along?”

 

 

The second blow hurts way more than when Chanyeol saw Baekhyun with the blond God. 'Hyung,' Jinhwan comes to him one night where he is off-duty and doing his homework in the private living-room. The petite prostitute is still sweaty from his last encounter, 'One of your former customer is back. We haven't seen him for months and out of the blue he books Taemin, weird right? What's his name already... Ah yeah, Hyun!'

It is as if all blood left his face and that his brain was deprived of oxygen.

'What? Hyun is here? To see Taemin?' He mumbles stupefied. It takes him a few seconds to get a grip on himself and to stand up, urgently asking for more precisions. 'How are you so sure it was him?!'

After all he has dozens of customers, Jinhwan can have mistaken him for someone else.

'Well, I know it's been roughly a year but at that time he came pretty often. Plus it's difficult to forget a face like his.' The cute prostitute states.

'But what happened, did you see them together?' Chanyeol presses anxiously.

'I'm on a twenty-minutes break right now, so I left my room to grab something to eat quickly and I ran into Hyun as he was exiting Taemin's room, that's all I know.' Jinhwan shrugs. 'Hey Hyung, what's wrong?' He shouts as Chanyeol races to the door that indicates the boundaries between the brothel and their private section.

 

The student hugs the walls to not be spotted by clients and sneaks behind the receptionist's counter. 'Pssst, Jihoon!' He whispers-shouts.

'Cha... What you're doing here?! You scared me!' Their petite receptionist jumps. 'Is that true that Hyun booked Taemin?'

'Well he did, why?' Woozi frowns.

'And when is Taemin's next break?' Chanyeol insistantly asks.

'Wait a sec,' the receptionist checks his notebook, 'he has a fifteen minutes break at 11.45PM, but why all those questions hyung?'

'Thanks Hoon, see you.' And Woozi only has the time to blink that Chanyeol is already out of his sight.

 

The tall man strides from one side of his small room to the other, in deep struggle. The clock indicates 11.40PM. He should go to sleep, he has an early class tomorrow. Moreover it is absolutely not his business what Baekhyun chooses to do or who he chooses to see.

But his ex-lover swore that he would never come back to Elyxion, that he would have never thought of booking a prostitute if not for Chanyeol.

Was it all a lie?

He bits his lower lips to fight whatever negative emotion might flow his way. You asked for it Park Chanyeol so let it go.

 

And yet he climbs the hidden stairs that lead to the prostitutes' rooms, waits for Taemin's client to leave and knocks on his door two minutes after.

'Hyung! What are you doing here?' Taemin exclaims when he opens the door, still half naked. 'Please can I go in quickly Taeminnie, I have something to ask.'

'Sure, come in!' The other shifts.

There is half a minute of silence and of fidgetting before Chanyeol dares to ask, 'What did Hyun-ssi do here?'

'Well, according to you hyung, what does someone do in this kind of room?' Taemin retaliates, surprised.

'So you two really... Had sex then.' The taller states with a strangled voice.

'Does it bother you because he used to be your customer? You have so many customers so I didn't think you'd mind, but I understand your loss, he's a great lay.'

 

God knows he loves Taemin dearly, but man does his fist itch to crush his nose right now.

 

'Forget it, see you tomorrow Taemin.' He exits the room at full throttle. A little longer and he will have the illusion to be able to smell Baekhyun's scent in Taemin's sheets.

 

It is something to imagine Baekhyun going back to his old habits of hooking up in classy bars but to imagine him fucking one of his own brothers... His skin feels to small to contain all his frustration and despair. He wishes that tearing his eyeballs off would be enough to erase the images in his mind.

 

 

Oh my God oh my God, what on Earth am I doing here? The brunette paces back and forth in front of the building.

'Chanyeol, what are you doing here?' Someone mocks.

Yep, exactly what he is asking himself. His head snaps towards the well-known voice. What a terrible idea to want to corner Baekhyun at his flat.

 

Up close his ex-lover is as handsome as ever, but the pissed off and frowning look on his face does not suit him at all. Chanyeol does not remember to have seen him so annoyed before.

He does his best to calm down the somersaults of his heart and to look as detached as he can.

'Baek, what's up? So man, I came to tell you that you can do whatever you want with your dick but Taemin is out of –'

The look of pure anger he meets cuts him half way through his sentence, Baekhyun's face is distorted by aversion and it is efficient enough to make him lose his cold demeanour.

'Piss off Chanyeol, I don't want to see you in front of my house ever again, you hear me! Nothing I do is your business so get the fuck out of here!' The shorter man yells suddenly and points his arm in the other direction.

 

Tears well up in his eyes, he did not expect Baekhyun to act so mean, a fair backlash to Chanyeol's past behaviour. What a stupid idea, who did he think he was to demand that Baekhyun does not go to Elyxion anymore. He spins around and runs away with wet trails on his cheeks.

 

Chanyeol did not see the worried glances Baekhyun threw discreetly, nor his sad look as he left.

 

 

Two weeks after his first visit, Baekhyun comes back to see Taemin. This time Chanyeol does not need to be warned, he runs into his past customer himself.

He lost his favourite cream eyeshadow and was going to borrow some from Irene between two customers when he almost collided with Hyun.

'Sorry Hyun-ssi,' Pan apologises sweetly.

The client only shakes his head and walks towards Taemin's room. Pan breathes deeply, he has no time for the poundings of his heart, he is on duty.

 

'Hyung, did you hear?' Jongin enters his room like a shot. Fortunately he just wrapped up his last shift.

He almost chastises the younger when he notices his panic-stricken face. 'What is it Nini, something wrong?' He frowns.

The sunkissed man closes cautiously the door and explains to him in a secretive tone. 'Your ex, apparently he got beaten up in the nearest street!'

 

The shock of the news makes him lose his balance, he falls heavily on the bed.

'What?' Chanyeol only has the strenght to whisper. Baekhyun? Beaten up? Why? How?!

'Yeah I heard Taemin and Hyolyn-noona talking about it. Apparently she was in the living room and she saw by the window Hyun exiting Elyxion, when four or five silhouettes dragged him in the shadows and began to beat him up! Fortunately someone saw them and they ran away, but still he is in a pretty bad shape. Taemin was shaking as Hyolyn told him.'

Chanyeol can only stay dumbfounded as Jongin finishes to fill him up.

'It's kinda secret, they don't want to afraid the customers, imagine if people knew they could get beaten up out of the brothel! But I thought you should know... Are you okay hyung?'

'Thanks Jongin...' His voice is not very convincing, but why lying? He is not okay.

He passes by Jongin, hurries to his own bedroom, dresses up with decent clothes and cautiously exits the building. It does not take long to find the exact spot though the street is back to its calmness.

 

There is blood on the concrete.

 

 

Although he has no right to hear from Baekhyun anymore, it drives Chanyeol crazy to be kept in the dark like that.

He spent a terrible terrible night, the shadows under his eyes are a proof of it. So perhaps it is the fault of his lack of sleep that forces him to go to Minseok and Jongdae without even a proper reason explaining how he is aware of the situation.

'Hey guys, I heard Baekhyun was injured? Do you know how he is?' He rushes to them as soon as he spots his friends.

They both look very tired and anxious. The two men exchange a look and Minseok sighs, gently explaining to Chanyeol, 'His brother called us last night, Baekhyun was beaten up and brought to the SNU Hospital. He just got out of intensive care this morning. No irreversible injuries but he lost consciousness for hours and he had a bad head contusion.'

The taller can feel his face turning paler at every word Minseok utters. The older puts a comforting hand on his arm. 'Want me to give you the number of his room?'

'Yes please...' He softly mumbles eventually with tears in his eyes.

 

All day long he could not concentrate, his mind was too busy creating the worst scenarios, mostly involving an unconscious Baekhyun lying on white sheets.

What if he had died? Chanyeol would never forgive himself, it would not have happened if they were still together...

It is too late anyway, Baekhyun apparently moved on and he certainly would not forgive Chanyeol not matter what but...

The student cannot avoid some thoughts: Baekhyun could have died without even knowing that Chanyeol loves him.

It reminds him way too much of his mother passing away with feelings left unsaid, he could not let that happen a second time, he has enough regrets for a lifetime.

That is what he is trying to convince himself as he walks towards the hospital. There is only two hundreds meters left.

Yes, he can do that. He will enter Baekhyun's room, check up on him and if he is in a good enough shape he will confess. Come what may.

His heart will be either crushed or healed, but he must say it.

 

Chanyeol can almost see the entrance doors when his phone rings. He has half a mind to ignore it, but the caller seems pretty insistant. Yesung Hyung is the name displayed.

He picks up, 'Hello, hyung?'

'Chanyeol my boy, where are you?' The taller might imagine things but his guardian sounds slightly stiff.

'Huh in a bookstore, why?' He invents a quick lie.

'Come back to Elyxion, please. Now.' The voice is stern. But Chanyeol must see Baekhyun, he is not sure he will get the courage later on. 'Can't it wait hyung, I've something to do right n–'

'I said NOW Chanyeol!' Yesung shouts, making his dongsaeng jump in fright.

It is the first time Yesung loses his patience with Chanyeol, and it is enough for the latter to know that he should not test it.

With a heavy heart he turns around, puzzled on how he acted wrongly for his guardian to be angry at him.

 

 

'What are you looking at Min?' A bandaged Baekhyun asks from his hospital bed. His friend turns away from the window and addresses him a pained smile, 'Nothing!' Just thought someone would come... He adds inwardly.

 

 

 

Something is wrong, Chanyeol notices. To be honest this feeling has been lingering for a month now, ever since Baekhyun's beating up. Speaking of him, the shorter man spent two weeks in the hospital before coming back at SNU, and his left arm got freed of its cast just a few days ago.

He looks now as good as ever, but he did not set foot in Elyxion since, to Chanyeol's great relief.

 

No, the wrong feelings is about Elyxion itself. The atmosphere is not as carefree as it once was. Yesung looks on a razor's edge these days and it impacts on the whole establishment.

Furthermore it is now forbidden to leave Elyxion, except for Chanyeol and Sooyoung but they still need to head directly to the brothel at the end of their class. Hanging out is not allowed anymore. 'Until they find the people who beat up that Hyun guy, nobody goes out there. I don't want a psycho to target either my customers or my workers!' He said.

 

Curiously it is only then that Chanyeol realises he never saw some of his colleagues outside. Sunmi, Taemin, Hyolyn, Hyuna, they never leave the walls of Elyxion. Consequently they are the only ones to not daily sulk about their lack of freedom, but at the same time they seem even more tense about the recent events than the rest of the team.

 

 

He has been sighing for a least ten minutes while trying to compose something with Judy. It is the end of June for God's sake, he would give anything to go outside, walk on a park, get a coffee, chill under the sun, anything! He cannot bear to be trapped like that. Furthermore, as he is on holiday he has more customers than usual. His nights are doomer, hotter, longer, more exhausting and he really needs some fresh air.

They finally found a replacement for Tiffany, a sweet girl going by the name of Rosé, but she is still new and has to build her clientele, so their workload is still more important than before Tiffany's departure.

 

'It's not for you.'

'What?' He turns towards Jongin, disconcerted. They are in Chanyeol's room, him with Coco and Jongin lying on his bed while reading a novel. Years ago Chanyeol had been surprised when he learnt that the sunkissed man was in fact a bookworm.

 

The younger drops his book and sits on the bed, his eyes dives firmly in Chanyeol's.

'Deep down, this world is not for you. I don't care you're Mr Hotshot Number One Prostitute whatever. Since you've been restrained here you begin to see it. You need to get out. Amongst us you're the only one who can make it out there.'

He opens his mouth to protest but his dongsaeng cuts him, 'Come on hyung, you have the brain, the ambition... The only thing holding you back is that you don't dare to fight for your dreams.

There are a bunch of reasons that point you'll make it but you keep on discrediting yourself. Nothing you do is enough for you but guess what? It's enough for other people! So stop thinking you're different, that everyone could do it except you.'

'That's very out of the blue, do you want to get rid of the competition?' He half-heartedly jokes. Jongin does not laugh though, he looks like a man on a mission, 'You got it bad when you broke up with your Casanova. It went worst when you've been placed under house arrest, but since your summer break began? You're a nightmare, so if I hear you sigh one more time I swear to God Park Chanyeol, hyung or not you'll get my foot deep in your ass!'

'I appreciate the concern Jongin, but I'm okay. You guys are the only people I need in my life right now, I can't even imagine leaving you behind...' Chanyeol adds with a weary voice.

His friend sends him a sympathetic look, and goes on gently, 'Man, we know you love us but this is not enough to stay here. None of us wants you to rot in there.

You think you're strong enough, that you manage to distance yourself from the business but we can see how you lose a part of yourself each passing night. If you continue like that you'll forget about your dreams, you'll get caught in the pit of self-depreciation and you'll never dare to leave. You want to end up like Sunmi-noona, to never see the sunlight? You gotta escape before you're trapped too deeply, hyung.

You like to mumble her motto to yourself, but to live on borrowed time doesn't mean every good thing that happens to you will end! That means you don't have time to lose on crap!'

 

The younger seems quite angry and tormented. His words come as a bombshell, but the older can sense it is not only about him.

'What the urgency Jongin? Did something happen to you?' He is getting worried.

The other stays silent for a minute and looks elsewhere before dropping, 'Yesung begins to say that Irene and I should use our real names. I'm afraid of what it means... You remember when Taemin was still called Ace? He changed when he began to be known by his real name.' He raises his head and addresses to Chanyeol the most serious glare the younger ever bore, 'You better get out before Pan disappears and that Chanyeol is laid bare for everyone to see.'

 

 

He needed that. He needed to hear those words from someone who could understand the situation. Someone from the same boat.

Of course Baekhyun was right, however it was different to hear the same remarks from Jongin. Chanyeol needed the reassurance, the confirmation that no his family would not resent him for leaving the nest.

 

Obviously other people could help him to land on his feet. Bloody Sehun would let him crash at his flat for six months without batting an eyelid.

He will do it. He will quit, redeem himself, find another part-time job. If he needs to leave the country to be employed, so be it.

And who knows, perhaps when all his sins will be cleaned he will knock on Baekhyun's door.

 

In the meanwhile it is on his boss's door that he is knocking, his self-confidence at its peak. 'Come in.' A blunt voice answers.

Yesung's desk is like his hair: messy. The older seems overwhelmed and worried, uptight even. 'My boy, what can I do for you?' He gives a faint smile, barely looking at Chanyeol.

It's now or never. The taller takes a deep breath. 'Hyung, I wanted to inform you that I intend to resign.'

 

'What?' It has the merit of earning Yesung's immediate and undivided attention. 'I want to quit hyung.' He asserts with more assurance.

'Yes, sure you will. But at the end of your studies, right?' Yesung nervously asks for confirmation. 'No, I think I must leave as soon as possible, or else I will never.'

'Why the rush though? You know decisions taken harshly can backfire, right?' The pimp leans on cautiously.

'I can't stay locked here hyung, I'm suffocating.' The student explains calmly.

'If you're locked it's only to keep you from harm, you know that.' His guardian states with his most persuasive voice.

'I know, but it's not only that. Hyung, I think I'm losing myself here, I'm losing the purpose of my life.'

'The world can be a cruel place, are you sure you want to abandon the support of your family? Are you sure you'll find people open-minded enough to embrace your past?'

Baekhyun's smile flashes in his mind. Yes, he found one. And he had been stupid and insecure enough to let him go.

'I met someone like that, once. This person cannot be the only exception.'

'Anyway, you can't leave now we're already short-handed. Chaeyoung is not entirely ready yet, so if we lose our star I can't imagine the results, this could have a terrible impact on Elyxion... You don't want your co-workers back in the streets without a job, right?'

Yesung is talented at making him feel guilty and self-conscious he realises. After all, his guardian is aware of all his weaknesses.

'No, of course not. But please hyung start thinking about a way to palliate my departure. Because I only stay by gratitude, eventually I'm not here for long.' Chanyeol insists, he has a point to make.

'I let you time to consider it again.' Yesung concludes, focusing back on his papers. Is he dismissing Chanyeol's will? Does he not take him seriously at all?

'I'll leave whether –'

Yesung suddenly bangs his fist on the table positively exploding. 'I told you before Yeeun, you can't leave!' He shouts, his voice booming against the office's walls.

The prostitute stays petrified in front of his boss's wrath. The latter is slowly coming back to his sense and realises his mistake.

'I-I mean... Chanyeol, my boy.' He gives a stiff smile, but his voice is unsteady. 'Please think about it. At least stay for the rest of the summer. Plus the annual party with the investors is next week, Pan cannot miss it.'

'Alright, see you boss.' Chanyeol takes his leave. For the first time in his life he dreads to be in the same room as the man who gave him everything.

 

 

'Noona?' He uncertainly asks through the opening of the door left ajar. 'Come in Yeollie bear!' Sunmi invites him to enter with a bright smile.

'It's been a while since you visited my room, you don't need your noona anymore?' She continues as he takes place on the bed and curls to her side.

'You know I'll always need you noona.' He pouts playfully. She giggles at his antics and begins to pet his hair.

'Tell me noona, did you have a fake name when you began?' The question crosses his mind suddenly. His discussion with Jongin bothered him a little.

Sunmi stays still for a few seconds, taken aback. Then she restarts her soothing motions. 'Yes. Miya, for sixteen years.'

'Why did you change?' He innocently asks. Chanyeol only wants to understand.

The prostitute tenses more clearly this time. 'I don't know, it was easier to just call my name.' She laughs it off, clearly lying but he lets it pass.

'And my mother?'

Her voice is now tinted with emotions, 'Heartfelt.'

 

He expected something like Sugar or Venus, something cheap, so really he is surprised. 'That's a bit weird for a prostitute name, no?' He frowns.

'You can talk Peter Pan!' She chuckles and pinches his belly. He might well yell in protest, she only laughs more. 'Anyway, that's who she was. A heartfelt person. I think it suited her perfectly.'

 

They stay silent, basking in each other's warmth. Finally Chanyeol admits after ten minutes, 'I want to quit noona, I already informed Yesung hyung.'

She freezes, 'You... you want to quit? And you said it to Yesung.' Sunmi seems worried.

Suddenly she holds him closer to her, leans on him and whispers in his ear, 'Yeollie bear you should have told me, I'd have helped you.'

Then she moves backwards and asks aloud, 'But why would do leave?'

 

He begins to explain to her how he feels, he does not mention Baekhyun but he still evokes acceptance, future, dreams that need to be chased. Her cheeks are wet when he is over.

'Oh Yeollie bear,' Sunmi says aloud, 'it will be horrible if you leave us...'

Afterwards she leans on his ear just like before and adds in a hushed voice, 'I'll try to help you anyway. Yeeun never wanted for you to end here.'

 

 

The annual 'investor party' is a big deal. The building flows with bodyguards and everyone is busy. The room for meetings at the back of the building is rearranged, decorations are put everywhere and the prostitutes rehearse the show they will display.

They are Yesung's bosses from what Chanyeol understood, the people who help the owner of Elyxion to stay in the shadows.

Chanyeol is positive that there is more illegality than dust particles in the air of the brothel.

He hates the investor party, it only reminds him of how wrong everything is in his life, furthermore the investors often act as if they were entitled to grab any part of the prostitutes' bodies as they wish. In these moments Chanyeol feels like a horse being assessed before a race. Fortunately he was not the one to deal the most with them, he usually only caught a glimpse of four of them, was groped by two, and then he could hide in his room.

However Yesung has apparently plans for him today since he told him to pay extra care to his look.

 

This year especially the atmosphere is so heavy and tangible it could be cut with a knife. He caught Hyuna begging Yesung to postpone the party, to what Yesung answered that they did not have much choice.

Yes, this party is by far the weirdest they organised.

 

Lost in his thoughts he does not see the person standing in the hallways as he turns left. 'Oh, excuse me Sir!' He quickly apologises. Damn, the dude is short but he is strong, he almost hurt himself in the collision when the other barely bulged. The guy only nods and keeps his position.

Chanyeol cannot prevent himself from checking out the man. He has big brown eyes, bushy eyebrows, very plump lips and jet black short hair. His stance and clothes betray the fact he is a bodyguard. Quite attractive if he may say, but almost all bodyguards are. Something about the suit perhaps.

 

'Pan my boy,' Yesung hails him and puts his hand on the small of his back, 'Can you please bring more beverage, please? I don't think we prepared enough.'

'Sure hyung!' He gives a tense smile.

It might be an optical illusion but he could swear he saw from the corner of his eyes the bodyguard he noticed earlier slightly frown. Weird.

 

He runs into Sunmi in his way to the kitchen.

'Yeollie bear!' She instantly comes to him. She is beautiful in her sexy black outfit. In these moments the prostitute would look thirty at most. His noona grabs his face in her manicured hands, 'I heard you're part of the show with the investors tonight!' He can only nod, she presses his face too much for him to open his mouth without looking like a fish. Her gaze is anxious and apologetic. 'I'm so sorry Yeollie bear, endure it as well as you can and I promise I'll do my best to divert their attention if they become too handsy. Whatever you might see...' She sighs and looks elsewhere, ashamed. She does not dare to elaborate and it begins to frighten the younger. 'My poor bear cub, I'm sorry for everything.' She hugs him suddenly.

His build is twice bigger than hers, but somehow he indeed always feels like a cub in her arms.

'I must go, be strong Yeollie.' Sunmi strokes his cheek and addresses him a sad smile before leaving the room.

 

 

It happens only ten minutes after. His hands are holding a tray of flute of Champagne as he enters the meeting room. Yesung spots him and comes closer to lead him in the center of the room. The pimp clears his voice and speaks aloud to gather everyone's attention. 'Gentlemen, one of us is not here yet but I think we can start anyway. This year again I'm happy to –'

 

It only takes a second for the room to turn into chaos.

 

'Police! Nobody move!' Someone shouts. Suddenly a dozen of armed people flow by every entrance. Defeaning sounds, people tackled to the ground, guns, detonations, Chanyeol does not even notice the broken flutes at his feet. His whole body is unresponsive, and when he hears someone yell, 'Chanyeol lie down!!' He cannot bring himself to do so. Mainly because he recognises this voice, and it does not belong here.

Awaken from his trance his eyes desperatly scan the room to find a sturdy silhouette, brown hair and a button nose.

 

Brown eyes meet his. They are worried and fervent, his are relieved and passionate.

 

It does not last though, the cold sensation of the barrel on his temple brings him back on Earth. 'Don't move or I'll shoot him!'

The room is silent again. All the “investors” are either handcuffed or aimed at. They have all been taken down, except the man pointing his gun at Chanyeol's head and holding him tight.

 

Yesung.

 

However the only thing Chanyeol can see is Baekhyun. Baekhyun whose hopeless eyes cannot leave his face. He must think Chanyeol is in danger, that he is scared. But his hyung would never hurt him, right?

 

'Kim Jongwoon, drop your weapon, slowly.' One of the policemen orders. His gorgeous face and blond hair seems familiar, but it is not the right time to play “guess who”.

 

Yesung's hold on Chanyeol's neck tightens and they can hear the click of the trigger guard being pulled. A foreign sense of fear suffocates the brunette. Yesung would never, would he?

'Why don't you drop yours instead?' Yesung's mocking voice resonates in the room.

'You've lost, you're alone in this. Be reasonable and let the boy go.' The officer calmly goes on.

'Oh no I don't think so. You value the boy too much, right Byun?' The pimp's teasing targets one of the member of the assembly. Unarmed and helpless Baekhyun whose fists are white and eyes furious. 'Too bad Yeollie chose me. Right Yeollie, you'd rather stay with Hyung than with Mr Gold Spoon who would never understand where you come from, hmm? I'm the trustworthy one.' He pretends to whisper in Chanyeol's ears. The latter cannot see his face but the craziness he can detect in the other's voice in enough to make him tremble.

A suffocating force gradually invades his lungs. It's a nightmare, it must be. There is no way in hell that Yesung could hurt anyone, Chanyeol trusts him with his life. It is this said life that his guardian is coming after.

Breathe in and breathe out. His panic-stricken eyes are seeking Baekhyun's. He is not going to die, right? He has to fight against the dizziness, it is not a fitting time to faint. Breathe in and breathe out. His heart is going crazy.

'Hyung, please...' He tries plaintively.

The barrel only presses harder on his temple. 'Shhh you don't want hyung to get mad Yeollie, right? Stay quiet. We'll both slowly get out of here so you all don't move and let us lea–'

 

Explosion. The bushy-eyebrows bodyguard has loomed.

 

In a second the tight hold and the gun are gone, Chanyeol is projected forwards. Fear, relief, confusion.

'Foal!!'

Someone is kneeling by his side. The brunette can perceive a familiar musky scent. With difficulty he bats his eyelashes. From a corner of the room he can see Hyuna and Sunmi being handcuffed.

 

Nothing makes sense anymore. He finally loses consciousness.

 

 

They were lying on Baekhyun's bed, a phenomenon which happens only too often but nobody complains.

The older was spooning him from behind, his softening cock still deep in the taller's ass. He was drawing abstract patterns on Chanyeol's skin.

'Baek?'

The other humed, indicating he was listening. 'Why “foal” as an endearment?'

'You don't like it?' Baekhyun propped his head against the younger's shoulder.

'I do, it's just... Uncommon.' He explained. His lover laughed softly and kissed his neck conscientiously, almost reverently.

'It's because you're a clumsy foal tripping on your own longass legs sometimes. But you'll become a big strong horse one day.' He added, punctuating his words with some groping on his ass and arms, which elicited some giggles from Chanyeol.

'It's just my luck you're an amazing rider then.' He chuckled cheekily.

'Precisely. A rider who has found his charger.' And Baekhyun's smile was so wide he could feel it pressed against his skin.

 

 

He wakes up surrounded by soft sheets and a soothing scent. Chanyeol knows this place, he barely dared to hope to be there again.

 

Groggily he looks at the clock: 10.14am. What is he doing at Baekhyun's, moreover at this his hour of the day?

Suddenly the events of last night come back at full speed. He sits up straight, as if seated on springs. Elyxion, Yesung, investors, Sunmi, what happened to his family? Are they going to jail, is he?

 

He is on the verge of a panic attack when a pretty face and broad shoulders appear from behind the door.

'Chanyeol? You up?' A gentle voice calls him out.

His eyes must have emitted a cry for help because in an instant Baekhyun is seated on the bed and holding his hands. He does not look away, it is like his kind brown eyes are speaking directly to his soul, 'Breathe foal, everything is okay. You're safe.'

Safe. He has been in danger. But Baekhyun is here now.

 

His former lover cautiously sweeps his sweaty bangs and rubs his forehead.

'Do you need anything? Here, I brought a glass of water earlier. Do you want something to eat? Or perhaps you wish to sleep some more?'

Chanyeol gratefully gulps the water under Baekhyun's watchful eyes, unable to utter a word. He finally clears his parched throat, 'Answers. What happened? I need to know.' He asks with a husky voice.

Baekhyun seems to ponder for a minute, before nodding, 'In that case there are people in the kitchen that you need to meet.'

 

Five minutes later and dressed with clothes too small for him, Chanyeol joins the figures he can perceive from the living room. He distinguishes three voices: Baekhyun's recognisable one, a clear and joyful one, along with a deep and serious one.

Intimidated he clears his throat and makes his presence known.

Three heads turn towards him. Baekhyun gives him a kind smile and gestures him to sit by his side, while the two others stare at him with curiousity.

 

It takes him a few seconds but he finally identifies the two men: the stern looking bodyguard with heart-shaped lips, and Baekhyun's blond date who is as well the officer who summoned Yesung to surrender.

 

'Chanyeol, here are agents Do and Lu. They've been working on Elyxion's case for a while now.'

 

They are both in civilians clothes and looking dead tired. Probably they have been up all night. Agent Lu is still the most beautiful man Chanyeol has ever seen with his blond locks and the bright smile he addresses to the prostitute. Agent Do is not less intimidating without his fake bodyguard attire, but kindness can be perceived in his big eyes.

Though it is not difficult to guess who play the “good cop/bad cop” in the duo.

 

'Nice to meet you Chanyeol-ssi, we heard a looooot about you!' Agent Lu teases with a cheeky look in Baekhyun's direction.

Said Baekhyun retorts with pink cheeks something like 'Play nice Han hyung!'

Chanyeol follows the exchange with interest and a slight dread, were they really dating after all?

 

'So hyungs, Chanyeol wants answers and I think he deserves them. But first, someone has to apologise.' Baekhyun throws a dirty look towards agent Do.

'Right Soo-yah, you play with fire too much.' Agent Lu ruffles his partner's hair, but the other is prompt to dodge the importunate hands.

'Fuck off Lu, I got an earful from the chief already. That crazy bastard was too incontrollable anyway, someone had to do something.'

 

Chanyeol is a bit lost, and it must be evident because Baekhyun explains to him, 'Kyungsoo-hyung is the one who shot Yesung's gun, forcing him to drop his weapon. A very dangerous move if you want my opinion. He could have shot you, or he could have missed his target and Yesung would certainly have shot and hurt you in retaliation.' He finishes with a serious expression.

He needs a few seconds to digest the information, but a conclusion is essential, 'You saved me. Thank you.' He heartfully addresses the agent.

The officer only shrugs, unfazed, 'No worries. I'm a good shooter anyway.'

'It's incredible, he is blind as a bat but he can reach the tiniest target from ten meters. I swear he aims with his third eye!' Agent Lu adds excitedly.

 

'Anyway, you won't like to hear what we have to say, foal. You better brace yourself.' Baekhyun puts a comforting hand on his. His eyes hold a severe amount of pain and compassion, Chanyeol can feel his throat tightening in dread.

It's agent Lu who takes back a straight face and begins with a serious face,

'Chanyeol-ssi, Agent Do Kyungsoo and I have been assigned to Elyxion's case three years ago when the dead corpse of a woman had been pulled out in the Han river. She was identified as Im Jinah, does it ring a bell?'

Brown hair and a blinding smile flash in his mind. This cannot be, Nana left for a better life, there is no way she is... 'J-Jinah is... dead?' The prostitute stutters, astounded. He only spent a year with the woman, but he will always remember how funny and beautiful she was. One time he thought he would die of laughter as she was imitating a drunk Yesung. 'W-what happened to her?'

'It had been a hassle to identify her body, but thanks to some informants from Itaewon we managed to identify her as a former prostitute from the brothel “Elyxion”. Clues on her body let us believe this was only a tiny ice cube from a gigantic iceberg, and after more than eight months of investigations we managed to prove she was working for an illegal organisation called White Noise. All led to think that she had been assassinated by members of the said White Noise.'

 

That is a lot to take in, but Chanyeol is not sure where all this is going. All that happened after Jinah left Elyxion in any case.

Agent Do takes over, and he does not sugar coat the reality. 'Chanyeol-ssi... The thing is, Elyxion is the part of a dangerous network. Not only prostitution, but also drugs dealing, police forces corruption, as well as human trafficking.'

 

What. The hell. Bullshit, he lived there for seven years he would know about it...

 

'White Noise linked several other brothels in Seoul and Elyxion was the pretty, classy window amongst the crappy ones. The crappy ones in question were filled with poor women from Laos, Cambodia and Bangladesh. Homeless women without a family abducted in the streets, then sold as sex slaves in the biggest capitals of Asia. White Noise did that. Kim Jongwoon aka Yesung isn't the boss of the organisation, that's the job of some JJY that we arrested yesterday along with other big shots of White Noise.'

 

This is pure madness. Bile is running up and down his oesophagus, filling his whole body with a sour taste.

Human trafficking. Misery. Sex slave. They live in the twenty-first century nobody could let such revolting things happen.

 

'They introduced drugs in the brothel, it was a sleight of hand between some prostitutes and clients. And how did they manage to do all that? Corruption. Only seven months ago we found out that a member of our own team was a mole. Hard to trust anyone with this business. It might belong to an even bigger scale, we midly suspect that some politicians have dirty hands in this. Now that we caught JJY and the others it will be easier to track them down.' Agent Do concludes.

 

'I don't understand... Prostitutes... We have no idea about it, we're innocent, I'd never!!' Chanyeol's hands are shaking, if he knew he would have done something, they have to believe him! Panic and bile does not mix up well. 'Baekhyun you gotta trust me, I had no idea!!' He sends a pleading look towards his friend. What if Baekhyun thinks he is that kind of disgusting person? Moreover he knows every one of the prostitutes, they are good people. His family. They cannot be guilty of such a felony.

However he never thought Yesung could be able to point a gun at him either...

 

'We know. There is much to say about it, I think Baekhyun can do that for us.' Agent Lu Han soothingly intervenes.

'Right, how the fuck did you get in the middle of this?' He knows his voice turned hysterical but he does not care right now.

'Foal you should calm down, we can continue this discussion later.' Baekhyun rubs his hands with a worried gaze.

'No, tell me, I want to know! What makes you think any of us is linked to that dirty business!?' Baekhyun hesitates for a while, clearly concerned about Chanyeol's mental state. He finally sighs and begins,

'Well... I know you said I shouldn't get involved, that is was your family and so on, but I couldn't shake the feeling that you might be in danger so... I contacted Kim Taeyeon, Tiffany's girlfriend. She pulled a few strings, made sure we got in touch with the right team – thus introducing me to the two hyungs over here – and overall helped a lot. Tiffany as well, I don't think we'd have got this far without her courage to testify.'

So at least Tiffany is doing okay and has a caring girlfriend. That's a source of relief in the middle of this mess. Baekhyun continues, 'The thing is, did you notice how the prostitutes using their real names would never get out of Elyxion?'

'To be honest I only noticed that very recently.' Chanyeol admits.

'That means they were aware of the dirty business. Tiffany, Sunmi, Hyuna, Hyolyn and Taemin, they knew. Some were more active than others, and the majority of them were enrolled against their will. Bad place, bad timing, and before they know it they're part of an organisation without being able to back out. The prostitutes like Jinah that you said they retired... They were just moved to other parts of the business, monitoring the sex slaves, dealing at full time... As Taeyeon said the first time I met her, “once you enter Elyxion you don't get out of it”.'

'That's crazy...' Chanyeol drops his head in his hands. The room is spinning. Sick. 'How could they force them to do that?' He eventually asks with a tired voice.

'Fear, threats, surveillance.' Agent Do answers. 'Tiffany revealed that chips were introduced in all the prostitutes' phones, that way they know where you are every moments of the day.'

Baekhyun takes over, 'That's probably how they noticed you spent a lot of time at my place, they must have followed you at some point and discovered you were hanging out with an ex-customer. Didn't you notice a change in Yesung's behaviour, leading him to persuade you to break up with me?'

Chanyeol can only nod in shame. Played.

It's agent Lu's turn to speak up, 'Did you experience sudden peaks of anxiety, headaches, episodes  of slight paranoia or depression maybe? We found traces of drugs in Tiffany's system and we suspect they injected them one way or another to all the prostitutes, a mean to keep the flock docile.'

 

Wow. Actually that explains a lot about his crisis of self-hatred, mood swings and other sudden insecurities.

 

Baekhyun clears his throat, embarrassed. 'There is something else... The rooms were equipped with huh... Microphones. That way they could make sure the prostitutes were not planning things that could endanger them. Plus, they could sell the records of some... Encounters to customers

 

sometimes. To keep jack-off material I guess.'

 

Sunmi speaking aloud and then whispering in his ears. Makes sense. Everything makes bloody sense.

Watched. Played. Betrayed. Pawns. Lies. Lies lies lies.

Family, guardian, friends... my ass.

It's too much, his body flies to the toilets. God knows where his mind is right now. Rage, disappointment, betrayal, shame: those four emotions fiercely do battle to win the position of the most predominant one.

His body waves and rises. Trails of tears on his cheeks and vomit at the corner of his lips.

 

A familiar warmth beside him to rub his back and cheeks. Doesn't he get it? Chanyeol is fucking dirty. Some cheap porn shit only good enough to become a slut or a dealer apparently.

'Shh foal, it's okay. Let it out as much as you want, I got you.'

 

How long does he spend watching Chanyeol throwing up his empty bowels and hysterically cry? Ten minutes, an hour, who knows. The only thing Chanyeol is sure about, it's that once he expelled everything he could, Baekhyun is there to bring his head against his shoulder.

He feels digusting but the other does not seem to care and reverently washes his face.

 

'Do you want to go to bed?' The shorter gently asks.

'Yeah... Gotta see the agents first, I still don't know what happened to Jongin and the others...' He stands up with difficulty.

'Take it easy foal, my bathroom is not big enough for you to trip in it.' Baekhyun lightly jokes.

 

The agents are still in the kitchen talking, but they put their jackets on, ready to take their leave. Agent Lu sends him another reassuring smile and pats his shoulder. The guy is even more breathtaking up close.

'Chanyeol-ssi, we know it was a lot of information to digest, so take your time but you'll have to come to give us your testimony. No worries though, Baekhyun already negociated your case. His cooperation implied you were not to be prosecuted and your criminal record will stay clean.'

 

Huh? Baekhyun negociated what? Yeah, it is a serious case after all. Obviously there will be trials and justice and prosecutions...

 

'What? Not prosecuted but... And the other prostitutes, what will happen to them? Where are they?' 'They are being interrogated right now, and we set special rooms up for them. I can't promise anything, but probably the innocent ones who had no idea will be released quickly, and helped to reintegrate the society. For the others, it will be judged case by case. Except for Kim Hyuna, we have solid evidence she took an active and deliberate part in the business.' Agent Do answers.

'Y-you talked about Baekhyun's cooperation, what did he do?' He glances at Baekyun who suddenly pretends to find the ceiling fascinating.

'Ah yeah, we didn't evoke it yet. Well, he'll tell you, a true knight in shining armour.' Agent Lu teases before whining, 'When will you do that for me Soo-yah?'

His partner only rolls his eyes, half fed up, half used to the other's antics.

'Shut up Lu, let's go now I want to sleep a little before carrying on with the interrogations.'

 

The door closes on the noises of their half-hearted quarrel.

'You know what, despite the age difference I think Sehunnie and Luhan hyung could get along.' Baekhyun points out.

Unease lingers in the air for a few seconds, none of them truly knows what to say.

'You said you wanted to sleep a little, you should do that. We'll talk later, okay foal?' The older suggests, not really looking at him in the eyes.

'Baek...' He fumbles a little. 'Can you, can you stay by my side? Just until I fall asleep.' He quickly adds.

'Anything for you, foal.' Baekhyun smiles fondly.

Boy he still is a sweet talker, making Chanyeol blush like a teenager.

 

It should be awkward but it is not. Chanyeol fits in Baekhyun's arms just as perfectly as he used to. The way Chanyeol deeply breathes Baekhyun's scent from the valley of his collarbone still provokes goosebumps to the latter.

Before he knows it the younger is lulled to sleep.

 

 

The absence of warmth by his side is strangely disappointing. Darkness has invaded the room, it is now 9:07pm. It takes him a few seconds to focus, but quickly enough he can perceive metallic noises in the background. It's not Baekhyun struggling with pans, right? Because if it is true they are both in trouble, he cannot let his host burn his own flat, the shorter man does not even know how to cook eggs.

In fact Baekhyun is busy with the stove, at least he looks like he is trying to switch it on. 'What are you doing?' He asks worriedly.

The other flinches and addresses him a relieved glance. 'Wow you surprised me foal! I'm frying rice.'

'Sure you are!' Chanyeol scrunches his nose in distate. 'Step away from the stove, I'll take care of it.' The other does not protest, and settles with setting the table. They work in silence, but it is not uncomfortable per say.

 

'So, what is the matter with your “cooperation” mentioned by agent Lu?' Chanyeol asks at soon as they are seated before their plates.

'Eat first foal, you haven't swallowed anything for the past twenty-four hours at least.' Baekhyun scolds lightly.

He did not notice, but now that his friend mentions it, he is famished.

 

Once the political science student made sure his plate is empty, he finally begins his explanations.

 

'At first my cooperation was only the one of a witness, as a former customer of Elyxion. But I didn't notice anything back then, I was too caught up with huh... Well, you.' He has the decency to blush a little and to look elsewhere. Baekhyun clears his throat and continues, 'However they still found me a usefulness and I personally participated to two operations. The first time they needed information that could only be provided by a worker of Elyxion. They tried to approach other prostitutes before but it had been a dead end. Since I frequented the brothel before, they figured it would be less suspicious for me to go. People working at Elyxion knew I was gay, and the only male prostitute implicated was Taemin, that's why I booked him.'

 

Chanyeol suddenly feels overwhelmed with relief. 'You didn't sleep with him?' Damn the obvious delight in his own voice makes him cringe.

 

'No, but we still had to...' The older seems embarrassed as he scratches his head, 'Well, I said the room were equipped to microphones, so we vocally faked it while exchanging written messages. Taemin was a bit scared, he knew how dangerous it was but fortunately he didn't need too much convincing, he hates White Noise to the core. He promised he could obtain some incriminating evidence within two weeks.

However, Yesung and members of White Noise still suspected something, hence me being beating up after my second visit. They were disappointed to not find any proof on me though, I had already taken pictures of the evidence in Taemin's room and sent them to Luhan and Kyungsoo hyungs.' He snickers, obviously proud with himself.

 

'Y-you've been attacked because of the investigation?! It was so risky, how could they send a civilian like that?!' The taller exclaims, dumbfounded.

'It wasn't that serious, my arm hurt like hell but I recovered quickly.' Baekhyun shrugs it off.

'You've been unconscious for hours!!' The other explodes. 'Gosh Byun Baekhyun I'm so mad at you, so mad at them!! Why did you involve yourself in such a mess, you're not a cop for fuck's sake!'

 

The brunette stands up and strides across the kitchen.

He seethes with rage. How dared they to touch if only a hair from Baekhyun's scalp! The bastards! Pretending it was an attack from outsiders and locking them in. No wonder Taemin looked so on edge since then.

 

'You sure seemed concerned about me.' Baekhyun points out flatly.

Touché. Rage lets place to guilt and remorses. He sheepishly turns towards his friend.

'Yesung prevented me from seeing you. I thought they were coincidences but as you said he apparently knew where I was going.' He breathes deeply and bares his heart, 'I'm sorry you had to live all that to help us. I'm very grateful but I beg you, don't do that ever again.'

I couldn't live with myself I anything happened to you.

'Then stop running away from me just to take shelter in dangerous places.' Baekhyun sasses without a bite.

 

Tears are pooling once again in his eyes and before he knows it, he is throwing himself at Baekhyun. It's uncomfortable to hug someone seated on a chair but he does not care.

'You could have died! I'm so sorry for everything Baek...' He ungracefully bawls.

The other manhandles him on his laps as well as he can, and pats his back, 'Shhh foal it's okay, we both are. It's all that matters right now.'

They snuggle up to each other for ten good minutes, Chanyeol shaking like a leaf and Baekhyun constantly whispering words of comfort.

 

'And huh I meant to ask... One time I saw you with agent Lu in a cafe... Were you on a date?' He wonders shyly, his head stuck in the crook of Baekhyun's neck.

'Well, Luhan hyung is great but I thought you'd figured out by now that I did everything because I love you. So no, it was a professional meeting.' Baekhyun answers effortlessly.

Chanyeol only wishes he could talk about his feeling while appearing so unfazzed. He does not reply, he only snuggles up closer. He is not so surprised at this point, just making sure he read the signals correctly. Probably the time Baekhyun yelled at him for going in front of his building was to protect him, being geolocalised and all.

 

'And... The second operation you joined?' He finally comes back to their initial subject.

Baekhyun stiffens. His tone loses his warmth. 'No physical sequel this time, but it was much worst. You are not the only one who has been betrayed by someone close...'

 

 

 

'No, you're taking the wrong way. I've known him forever, he is very upright. Like everyone he has his flaws and... sometimes questionable guilty pleasures but that's all.' Baekhyun stubbornly asserted.

During the two weeks he spent at the hospital the team apparently found a new lead, someone who possessed the documents they needed.

 

'In that case searching his office will only prove his innocence, right?' Luhan reasons.

Baekhyun wanted to cross his arm in sign of refusal but, hello cast. He still pouted, making his new friend sigh.

'Baekhyun, you're the closest person to him we know, it will be a piece of cake for you to get in, it will raise less suspicions since you know his secretary, his passwords and everything.'

'Less suspicions, you said it last time as well.' The student sneered.

Luhan dropped his head in surrender. 'We're very very sorry about this. This time we will watch you more closely and secure your safety. You'll have an earpiece and we'll be in contact during the whole operation.'

'Chanyeol better gets total immunity.' He grumbled.

'He will, we already promised months ago.' Luhan affirmed.

Bloody doe eyes, how could he refuse anything to his hyung when he looked at him like that? 'Fine, when?' Baekhyun eventually sighed.

It was then that Kyungsoo finally spoke up, 'In a few weeks. The eve before the annual meeting Taemin told you about. If our allegations are correct we will have enough material to lock them away, they won't be able to escape despite all the crooks they have on their side.'

'If you are right. And I say he has nothing to do with it, so what? What are the other leads, you won't have enough evidence and we'll have to wait until next year. They could kill Chanyeol ten times!' He exlaimed, frustrated.

'Trust us with this Baekhyunnie.' Agent Lu firmly put his hand on his shoulder. Confident, reasssuring.

'You ask me who I trust the most between someone I know since birth and you guys that I've only known for months?'

'Come on, you said yourself you spent more time in this office than in your own flat these past few months, I thought we were closer than that!' His blond hyung whined while opening his arms to designate their office.

Damn right, he still struggled to find where the pepper was in his cupboard, but somehow he knew exactly where Luhan's stapler was kept – by the way, it was in agent Amber Liu's coffee mug, don't ask him why.

'Honestly I don't know if I should pray for you to be right or wrong at this point...'

 

 

'Evening mister Byun!' Ms Jung welcomed him warmly.

'Evening Jessica. Is your boss in his office?' He asked naively. He knew perfectly where the other was.

'No he is still in a meeting for an hour, I'm sorry.' The beautiful woman apologised.

'No problem, I have plenty of time, I'll just wait for him in his office.' He laughed lightly. He hoped his nonchalance looked convincing enough, because he was sweating buckets inside.

The secretary seemed to ponder his words for a minute before nodding. Her boss knew Mr Byun very well, there was no trouble to let him stay there.

'Do you want me to bring you something? A coffee, cakes?' She pleasantly offered.

'Oh please spare yourself the trouble Jessica, I'm perfectly alright.' He waved it off, and with assured steps he went to the door of the office and unlocked it. Yes, he knew the passwords. And he was about to betray the trust the other placed in him.

'It will only prove his innocence!' He muttered to himself.

 

'Light to Bambi, do you copy?' The student whispered, pressing his earpiece. '… I still don't get my code name.' He eventually heard.

'Owl to Light, we copy you. Focus, you freaking Bambi.' Kyungsoo's annoyed voice took over. 'Light, he could cut short his meeting knowing you're here so you better be fast. Check his computer and the top drawers of his desk first.'

'Got it.' He replied shortly.

 

The drawers revealed nothing out of the ordinary, only paperwork linked with the firm. 'Hurry Light, you have half an hour at most.'

'Why don't you do it yourself?!' He whisper-shouted. He was not a spy for God's sake.

Inwardly he gave a sour laugh. Baekhyun remembered months ago when with Chanyeol he was dreamily imagining that he could work for Intelligence Services. Well, it was less fun than it seemed, he would prefer to stay a mere analyst, thank you very much.

 

The computer then, obviously locked. A chance that Baekhyun knew perfectly its owner, the birthday date of the boss's mother, and the computer was open.

'Light, the folder is certainly either drowned in all his business stuffs or in the miscellaneous ones.' Kyungsoo pointed out.

'Oh, weird...' He muttered to himself. 'What?'

'A folder... “Halmeoni and Halabeoji's 50th anniversary”. It's impossible that they celebrated their 50th anniversary, his grand-father died eight years ago.'

Luhan's excited voice invaded his ear, 'See Owl, I told you the kid would be precious in that case.' 'Well, don't rejoice too quickly Bambi, I need a code to open the folder and I don't manage to crack it.' Baekhyun frowned.

Damn, no brithday dates seemed to work this time and he only had one try left.

Think Baekhyun, think. If he had something essential to hide, what kind of information the password would contain?

Out of idea, he looked around him until his gaze stopped on the bookcase. Books, DVDs... Bingo! He was such a geek and a Conan Doyle fan, of course it had to be...

Fervently he typed the man's measurements. Just like Irene Adler in season two episode one of the TV show “Sherlock”. The few seconds of identification took his breath away, but that was it.

'Owl, Bambi... Guys, I cracked it.' He mumbled in awe.

'Great, you're doing a fantastic job Light, now tell us what it contains!' Agent Do pressured him. '…

Light... Light? Do you copy?'

 

His throat got too dry to be used. In front of him were hundreds of files with women's profiles. Pictures of their misery, dates of shipments, details about the shippings. Women, drugs, tax evasions. He did not know where to start.

 

'Light!' Agent Do's firm voice brought him back to Earth.

'It... Guys. It's huge, it's...' He brokenly whispered. He could not believe the man he knew could play a part in that horrendous business.

'Send it to us as quickly as you can! Connect the flash drive we gave you, there is a special system of transmission, we'll receive the information directly in our computer.'

Baekhyun complied with shaky hands. 'The folder is very heavy, apparently it will need six minutes to totally copy.'

'Bloody hell, be caref–'

'Baekhyun, what are you doing here?' The owner of the office entered the room. The usually composed business man looked quite jittery.

Baekhyun stood up straight and adopted a fierce posture. He should seem embarrassed to be caught like that but after what he found out, there was no way he would pretend to feel guilty for breaking in.

'Hyung. Well, it's been a while so I came to see you.' He mocked.

The older's face closed off. None of them was there to play, he understood that. 'Step away from my computer, now.' He ordered with a cold voice.

'No.' Baekhyun merely retaliated.

'I'm serious Hyunnie, I don't want to hurt you.' His hyung walked cautiously towards him. 'So am I Kim Junmyeon. So you'll have your computer over my dead body.'

 

His tone was calm and firm. Justice shall be done.

'Light, keep distracting him, we're coming for you.' Agent Do's hurried voice reached him through his earpiece.

'Don't do anything stupid.' Agent Lu seriously added.

'I don't understand Jun, you're already rich and successful, why on Earth would you meddle in that crap?!'

'I don't know, boredom?' Junmyeon shrugged, still coming closer. 'Power and wealth are fickle things, addictive. Here I'm just a pawn for my father, the heir he can control as he wishes. But with White Noise? I can play the master's role.

Come on Baekhyunnie, I know you want to change the rules of the game as well, to spat on almighty Byun senior. You could be part of this world too if you'd let me take care of it for you.'  The older gave a predatory smile. His facial features had nothing in common with the gentle and carefree Junmyeon he knew. These ones were rather threatening and honestly slightly maniacal.

'So what, you're just a narcissitic pervert?' Baekhyun scoffed. 'There are other means to get back at your father, but the innocent people reduced to the state of slaves for rich pigs' entertainment? And the ones that will have their lives ruined by drugs? Don't you care about them at all?!' He exploded. He could not believe his hyung could be capable of this nonsense.

'So that's what it is about, morals? Why would I care about destitute women who would have been beggars anyway. At least we feed them, so it's not really worse. As for the junkies they are not strong enough for this society if they let themeslves be controlled by mere heroin.' There was not an ounce of passion in the other's tone. It seemed so obvious and natural to him.

'You disgust me how can you be so contemptuous towards your peers?' The younger spat.

His hyungs stayed unfazed. The lights of the sunset through the windows gave a bloody shade to his face.

'Now step aside Baekhyunnie, if this is about Pan I can negociate for him to be your exclusive whore.'

'Don't you even dare to say his name.' Baekhyun seethed, his fist clenched.

'Come on, who is he? I know you like the back of my hand Baekhyunnie, we've been friends since you were born, what is twenty-three years of friendship compared to a few lays?'

Too preoccupied by his friend's hypnotising words he did not notice the other was only a few centimeters away from him and that his hands was subtly brushing past the flash drive.

 

Bang. Coming back to his senses he threw his fist at his oldest friend's nose. Junmyeon seemed confused before pouncing on him. An audacious move but he was quickly pinned under his younger friend. Junmyeon had always been the brain, not the fighter. Baekhyun leant on his squirming hyung and whispered brokenly, 'When they said you were guilty I didn't believe them. I trusted you hyung.'

A mere second after familiar figures invade the office. Luhan knelt by their side and handcuffed the business man.

'Kim Junmyeon you are under arrest for your participation in human trafficking, drugs dealing and other main charges. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. You have –'

 

It was like his head was wrapped in cotton, all the sounds were muffled. He did not notice his whole body was shaking.

 

'Quick, we have to make sure he didn't have the time to warn anyone about your presence here, if they come to know he's been arrested they will cancel tomorrow's meeting... Baekhyun, you okay?' Kyungsoo enquired with concern.

'No I'm not.' He did not feel the strenght to lie about that. He was breaking down in a crucial moment, surrounded by intelligence agents doing their best to resolve the situation as quickly and smoothly as possible. Who cares. 'He was like my brother. But he is a criminal. How am I going to live with myself knowing that?' He hollowly uttered.

The agent sighed and crouched down. He put a gentle hand on his shoulder and said,

'Listen Baekhyun... Time is the deadliest weapon, it can erase and destroy anything. It changes people, it dismantles relationships. But it's a salutary force as well. You'll heal and forget. Trust yourself. We haven't known each other for long, but I know you're strong enough to overcome this. Now I have a case to solve, so stand up kid.'

 

 

 

'I'm sorry to hear that...' Chanyeol mumbles after a while.

'It's been awful and...' Baekhyun lets out an annoyed sigh. 'God I'm so mad at that piece of shit, however it's difficult to go from trust and unswerving care to total hatred. Whatever will happen to him... He'll deserve it but I won't be able to stay indifferent, you know? He's still my friend, I owe him for various reasons. Nonetheless kindness towards one person doesn't erase years of crime and harm towards hundreds of others. I guess you get it.'

'You bet I do.' Chanyeol laughs grudgingly. 'It's so unreal... I thought I had found people I belonged with, unconventional ones alright, but caring. At least I guess the ones who were as clueless as me were honest, but the others... Yesung and Sunmi especially. Where did their lies start and end? Did they care if only a little about me, or was I only a tool for future use? I knew I was used, but not to that extent and without my consent. The geolocalisation, the audio recording, the drugs, the manipulation... I just feel sad. And dirty. And betrayed.' He bitterly guffaws. 'In fact I feel too many things, and it's painful.'

 

His friend only nods and holds him tighter. They share a peaceful warmth, until Baekhyun voices out, 'Foal, it's not that you're heavy or anything, but maybe we could go to the couch or the bed? My legs are killing me right now.'

Right, Chanyeol almost spent an hour on his laps. 'Of course, sure!' He mutters and tries embarrassingly to get up. Bloody clumsy long legs.

'Oh hey you want to know another plot twist?' Baekhyun speaks up, certainly to prevent any weird mood from settling. 'Hyuna and Junmyeon were apparently lovers. A pretty efficent couple of criminals.'

'Really? Like, with feelings and all?' Chanyeol exclaims, eyes wide opened.

'Looks like it.' The shorter shrugs as they walk towards the bedroom. 'Luhan hyung found pretty soppy love messages in Junmyeon's office.'

'Hyuna used to pretend to make gagging noises whenever Tiffany would evoke Taeyeon, I guess she was gagging material herself.' The brunette laughs to himself.

 

Is it okay if they cuddle? That's basically what they were doing in the kitchen, but now that the “spur of the moment” is gone, would Chanyeol come up as too clingy if they lie beside each other? Baekhyun quickly dissipates his doubts though, when he opens his arms with a light 'Come here, foal!'

So the taller nestles gladly against the other's chest. Boy did he miss that.

 

'Say Baekhyun-ah, after discovering that Junmyeon was linked to White Noise, didn't you have... Doubts about me as well? I could have been aware and participated in this as well.' That's a legitimate question, as for Chanyeol he is up to suspect pretty much anyone in the future.

Baekhyun does not need to ponder for too long, 'Mm naah. When I opened Jun's folder I was chocked and disappointed but not that surprised. He always had a little pervy side, I thought it was harmless and under control but apparently I was wrong. You though, I had no doubts. You have Zootopia bedsheets for God's sake, doesn't sound like a criminal mastermind to me.'

'True enough.' Chanyeol giggles in glee.

 

'What am I going to do now?' The prostitute wonders aloud. He hope he will at least see his friends again... Oh, and that the agents will let him take Judy and Coco back!

'You mister, will carry on with your master's degree.' Baekhyun pats his head comfortingly. 'You can live with me, or at Sehun's if it makes you uncomfortable. Find a part-time job, get your own place, whatever. Then when your studies will be over, you'll look for a job. Well, you'll have to enlist as some point.' He rectifies. 'But when you'll be job-hunting, have no fear. If the recruitement consultants look into your past – and trust me they'll have to dig – your stay as Elyxion will be registered as “an undercover job for an investigation”.'

The taller extracts himself from Baekhyun's arms and looks at him, dumbfounded. 'How do you know? Did you... negociate that as well?'

'Let's say I have my ways... I'm almost a cop by now.' The older proudly grins. 'I think the NIS would hire me as their intelligence analyst in a heartbeat if I applied after my graduation.'

'Well if it's for you to get your arm broken again, I wish they won't hire you.' Chanyeol complains with an upset pout. 'You mentioned the military service, do you know when you'll go?' He shyly asks afterwards. He admits he never really thinks about it.

'At the end of next semester. I applied to enlist around March.' There are no more hints of mischief in Baekhyun's voice.

'Oh...' March. That's eight months from now.

 

The room gets quiet. Shadows cross the chamber as a result of the cars' headlights, but for once they do not even hear them.

It is the defeaning silence one gets after the storm, leaving the survivors dull of hearing and heavy with dizziness. The tension left their shoulders but nothing is there to replace the missing feeling.

Baekhyun's chest rises and falls evenly, the sort of rhythm it gets when you are almost gone to Dreamland. Chanyeol slept plenty today but he does not know what Baekhyun has done in the meantime.

 

'Well, now that all exterior elements have been solved, what about us?' The brunette mumbles to himself.

Chanyeol does not expect Baekhyun to stir nor to hear him answer with a furred voice, 'I don't have much to say. I love you, I missed you. That's it.'

Nope, Chanyeol does not blush. It's dark anyway, nobody can prove it. 'You used to be way more lyrical about this.' The taller nervously chuckles.

'I don't want to scare you again, after all I'm sure about nothing concerning your own feelings, foal.' Baekhyun's voice is void of playfulness. 'Plus, I don't want to force any of them to you, under the mere pretext that I help you out, or anything.'

'Hey, everything I'm feeling is not triggered by gratitude.' The younger protests. Here goes the moment of truth. Baekhyun had been nothing but brave during their relationship, it's his turn. 'You're not forcing any feelings to me. I've had a crush on you since our first sociology class.'

'You had?' Baekhyun raises his head in surprise before grinning widely.

'It's been a pretty scary year, really you made me feel a rollercoaster of emotions mister Byun.' He pretends to chastise the other. 'From a crush to a customer to a friend to a sort of boyfriend... But at every step I guess I liked you. Very much so.'

Even though the room is dim, Chanyeol can perceive the stars in Baekhyun's eyes as if it was daylight. 'Yeah?' The older exhales painfully.

Screw it, he is too adorable anyway and he owes him that much, 'Okay, well, I love you too. Happy now?' He sighs.

'Wow, what a crappy confession... But I guess I am.' Baekhyun addresses his most blinding crescent-eyed smile and holds him even tighter.

'I'm sorry for everything. For letting my insecurities lead my behaviour, for pushing you away. I didn't mean a thing I said to you that day.' Chanyeol sheepishly admits.

 

'Honestly I forgave you long ago, although I'm glad to hear it... However the more I think about it, the more I realise it was for the best. Yesung would have tried to get me out of the picture by any means, the sooner we broke up the sooner I managed to get you out of Elyxion.'

Makes sense.

'So, what are we now?' That's the ten millions won worth question, and then he does not dare to ask it louder than a whisper.

His friend strokes his hair reassuringly, 'We don't have to be anything for now. Your whole life got upside down, I'll be there whenever you need me, but it's certainly better for you to center on yourself rather on a relationship. Let's take our time, foal.'

'You became awfully mature these past few months.' Chanyeol sasses fondly.

Baekhyun bursts into a short laughter, 'Perks of hanging out more with cops than with Jongdae I guess.'

When their laughters slowly die down and that only a warm comfort is left, Chanyeol dares to raise his head and to properly face the older. 'Can I... kiss you?'

It's a wonder, how the smile slowly blooming on Baekhyun's face can enlighten the whole room and make his heart stop.

'Be my guest.'

 

Their wet lips are full of promises and hope. The hands that grab their napes, cheeks, hair, skin; they are full of reverence and relief. Yeah, they could work with that. Get their shit together and share tenderness.

 

 

The rest of Chanyeol's summer is very busy. He stayed two days in the reassuring nest of adoration that is Baekhyun's bed before finally daring to step outside to give his deposition.

 

The succession of events happens in a blur. In the NIS headquarters a lost Jongin throws himself in his arms. All the “oblivious” ones are here. Joohyun is the only one older than him, the rest are his baby siblings so sue him but when they crowd him and begin to cry, he cries as well.

 

The agents on the case worked well, in a few days almost all White Noise is dismantled, at least the South Korean branch. They still have to take care of the overseas extension of the business.

When they are certain that nobody will threaten the former prostitutes, they release them. Due to the circumstances they are not even prosecuted for prostitution. As for Taemin, thanks to his cooperation in handing crucial evidence Kyungsoo is pretty sure he won't be imprisoned for more than a few months. The others though, they are in for a long time...

 

With their savings Jongin and Chanyeol decide to rent a flat not far from SNU. Of course Baekhyun dresses up in his most serious suit to vouch for them.

 

He is also there when Chanyeol gets to retrieve his stuffs at Elyxion. It's like walking on a devastated battleground. The agents did not ruin the place during their searches per say, and a lot of spots stayed intact but it still feels like a field of debris. Wreckage of a past life perhaps.

He barely spares a thought to Pan's room, there is nothing worth getting back there, they just make a beeline to his own room and take everything they can. Priority to Judy and Coco of course.

 

Chanyeol did not know what to expect: would the eight of them stay in contact, or would it be a too painful remembrance of their past?

Eventually they need each other, Chanyeol just hope that in the long run it won't keep them down. Minki, Jinhwan and Chittaphon move in together, as well as Joohyun and Sooyoung who take Chaeyoung under their wing.

 

It is indeed a source of comfort to crawl into each other's bed whenever they wake up all damp with nightmares in the middle of the night. Or to not be judged when they feel the irrepressible need to check the flat in every nook and cranny at random time, just to make sure there was no microphone nor camera. Jongin and him get each other's back.

 

Speaking of Jongin, he found a job as a dance teacher in a dance school of the neighbourhood, the one Sehun goes in. They quickly became friends but that's not a surprise. Chanyeol knew the two of them were meant to pair up against him.

Sometimes Jongin comes back from his classes sighing dreamily about one of his student, some Jennie who makes his heart swell while Sehun stays unimpressed. The latter is too busy acting all charming and witty whenever Luhan-hyung is in the vicinity anyway.

 

When the semester started they merged the Social Welfare duo with the Political Science trio again, to everyone's great pleasure. Jongdae still did not completely seize the situation, but whatever. Moreover their group of friends diversified somehow, with the two agents dropping by sometimes. Or rather, with Luhan dragging Kyungsoo in his wake. Of course the serious hyung would only admit under torture that they were friends, but the feeling was there.

 

 

Before they know it it's already Chanyeol's twenty-third birthday, even though he would rather celebrate Judy's first birthday. Once again they gather in Sehun's flat which is more crowded than the last time.

Some things have changed in a year, some have not.

Baekhyun still has a soft smile while he takes pictures of him from the distance. His skills at cake frosting got better though.

 

Baekhyun, who is leaving in less than four months. Baekhyun who helped him to get a job at the cafe he worked in himelf the previous summer, and who always fetches him at the end of his shifts with his favourite meals. Baekhyun from whom he was meant to spend twenty months apart. Baekhyun whose hands linger against the small of his back when they feel frisky, and whose tongue sometimes loses itself in the taller's dimples. Baekhyun who is his boyfriend but not quite.

They hold hands, wait for each other at the end of their classes, and blame it on the alcohol when they find themselves locked in a heavy making-out.

 

Baekhyun, Baekhyun, Baekhyun. It has always been Baekhyun.

 

There are in love but still living on borrowed time. The both of them will enlist within the next months, what was the use to promise each other the moon and its stars.

 

 

Especially when reality likes to check on him. Christmas is in a week when he receives a phone call.

'Hello Chanyeol, Agent Lu Han speaking.' Agent, that means it's a professional call. His hyung voices sounds embarrassed.

'Hello Agent Lu, how are you?'

'Fine fine, listen it's a... Delicate subject, but Lee Sunmi requires to see you.'

Now he understands why. Chanyeol stiffens, and it does not go unnoticed by Baekhyun, who is studying at the other end of the couch. It's been months since they last heard about the case, his wounds are finally starting to heal. And Chanyeol has no wish to reopen them.

'And I don't want to see her.' He states firmly.

'Chanyeol, I know it's none of my business, but she confessed the matter she wants to discuss with you and... I think you should come.'

 

It's awfully rude but he hangs up on the agent. At least he knows his hyung won't hold it against him. Chanyeol's thoughts are a mess.

 

'Foal, what's wrong?' Baekhyun crawls next to him.

'Sunmi asked to talk to me.' He mutters, his face burried in his hands. 'I can't see her in the visiting room of a prison Baekhyun-ah, that's beyond me.'

Gently his (boy)friend takes his hands in his, forcing him to hold his gaze. 'Foal, the last time you saw her she was handcuffed, that's not a very flattering “last impression” either.' He smiles faintly but continues more seriously, 'Look, Sunmi was a noona very dear to you, maybe to hear her out will help you to get a closure.' Baekhyun reasons. 'It's a one-time visit. You get to walk out, she doesn't and with her all your troubles stay in jail.'

'The trial didn't happen yet, not sure if it's the end of this story.' He points out.

'So see it as a warming-up.' The older smiles softly. And he is bloody weak for his smile.

 

 

Chanyeol waits in a gloomy square room. No window but a mirror who is certainly a two- ways one. The brunette feels like in an interrogation room of a crime movie. Finally the door opens, and two people enter. Chanyeol pays little to no attention to the guard and focuses on the woman.

Even in a jail uniform, the former prostitute is stunning, though she looks her age more than ever. Chanyeol does not know if it is the lighting or the results of her new life, but Sunmi never seemed so wrinkled before. Moreover he can notice some white hair in her brown mane.

'Yeollie bear...' She is shaking as she sits down, her eyes never leaving his face. 'Noona.' He replies curtly.

'I'm so glad you came... How are you doing?' She fumbles with her hands, he can sense she wants to reach him but does not dare.

'Better. You?' He asks out of courtesy.

'I only get what I deserve.' Sunmi does not deny.

An awkward silence settles, before she finally continues, 'My poor Yeollie bear... I'm so sorry, for everything.' Her eyes are wet. 'And I'm even more sorry for what I am about to tell you, but it must be told...'

The woman bites her lips and lowers her head. Emotion is thick in her voice.

 

'First of all, I want you to know I never supported White Noise's business. That's mainly why I insisted to go on with my prostitute job, and did my best to never come short of customers. I didn't want to take a more active part in their traffics. It is up to you to believe me or not. However, I admit I turned a blind eye on it when I should have tried to stop their schemes. My sole excuse was the fear.'

She takes a deep breath and holds her trembling hand to his. Chanyeol's hands stay firmly flat on the table. He does not make a move backwards nor forwards. Her hand stills in the air, and she lowers it slowly, to rest it at equal distance from both of them.

 

'You see, Yeollie bear... Elyxion was not always like that. Before Yesung took over, it was a mere brothel amongst others. But then Yesung went into partnership with strangers, people from outside of the business who always scared us a bit. When he finally replaced BoA, the former owner, they began to prowl in the building more than ever. And your mother...' She shakes her head. 'Yeeun did not like that at all. She sensed a crappy business was building up, a business who would go beyond us. Who would ruin more lives. So she argued with Yesung, again and again. He looked up to her a lot, she had always been his mentor since he arrived, so she thought he would listen to her. Honestly, I think he was in love with her in his disturbing, control freak way.'

 

Her breath turns shallow, too quick to be normal. Chanyeol's body acts on its own and covers her frail white hand. The student cannot feign indifference anymore, he is entranced by her tale and his whole being is leaning around her words.

 

'Yeeun had a weak heart, that's true. Only, she didn't have a heart attack.' She closes her eyes to prevent the tears from falling. Chanyeol contorts anxiously. He knows he won't like it but he cannot back out.

 

'And one day... One of Yesung's friend came in the lounge with pockets full of white powder. Yeeun could not let it pass so we both went to Yesung's office. She told me to wait outside, she wanted to settle it by herself. I knew I should have gone with her...'

 

Her free hand covers his mouth. Sunmi swallows a sob and goes on,

 

'I didn't hear everything, but it was not really difficult to guess. Yeeun reproved him about his doings, she said that if he did not break off all ties with his obnoxious friend she would leave and tell the police.

I don't know what frightened him the most, Yeeun turning him in or Yeeun leaving him.

It's when I heard noises of fighting that I understood how serious it had gone. I tried to enter the room but it was locked.

And then, and then...'

 

The woman cannot hold her tears back anymore, a satiny stream hurtles down the cracks of her cheeks.

 

'Yeeun was screaming to Yesung to stop, she screamed and screamed, I screamed too, called for help but none of the workers were in this part of the building. It was only the three of us and Yeeun's screams which still haunt my dreams.'

 

Sunmi chokes on her own sobs. Chanyeol strokes her hand gently while she tries to get a grip on herself. He does not notice that his own eyes burn.

 

'When Yesung finally opened the room he was dishevelled and his gaze was crazed.

Next to his desk, Yeeun was lying on the ground. Her whole face was blue. I shall never forget this sight. There was no trace of abuse, up to this day I'm still not sure how he killed her. Poison, strangulation... Then Yesung leant on me and whispered, “If you ever tell this to anyone Lee Sunmi, you're dead. You may well try to runaway, my breath will always be at the back of your heels.”

He staged her death, and all the other prostitutes, as well as the authorities, effectively believed she indeed had a heart attack.'

 

A hammer blow. Will his life ever cease to be a lie? What more does he not know about the people around him? To think that he let the killer of his own mother touch him intimately...

Chanyeol is not sure whether the tears blinding him are ones of sadness or of rage.

 

'I've lived the past eight years in fear and guilt, and the last one will follow me until my last breath. I wish I were as brave as your mother, but I'm not. And now I'm just an old prostitute afraid of death.' Sunmi mumbles with a strangled voice.

'I have a lot of regrets: to let people destroy many innocent lives, to not have avenged my best friend's murder, but most of all... I regret to have let Yesung bring you at Elyxion.

I lured myself into thinking he was eaten by guilt, and that he wanted to make it up to Yeeun's son. He treated you so well the first years, I thought you could be safe. Until he grew too fond of you and recruited you as a prostitute. At that moment I knew you were doomed, and I should have said something...

But I'm weak, despite loving you so much Yeollie bear. Having you by my side was like having my best friend back, however you were so different at the same time. Our bubble of joy and kindness, our bear curb... I've been terribly selfish, I thought I could protect you when I should have tried to make you escape.'

 

She sighs heavily and stares at him with fervent eyes, an intensity he did not suspect she could possess.

 

'Overall I don't ask for your forgiveness Yeollie bear, I don't deserve it. And I didn't reveal all that to torment you even further, it's just that... You can think whatever you want about me, but I couldn't let you doubt your mother. Yeeun would never have...' She fights a last sob. 'I'd rather take your hatred than to let her memory be tarnished.'

 

 

Chanyeol strides along the hallway in a daze. Honestly, he did not even think about his mother's implication before, but it is still a relief to know that she fought against Yesung's plans. If only she did not pay the highest price there is...

 

The sunlight blinds him as he exits the building, and his eyes only have the time to adjust before they meet another sunlight.

'Hey foal, how did it go, are you okay?' Baekhyun walks towards him and enquires softly.

 

Suddenly the prickling feeling in his orbs is back, so despite being in public he wraps his arms around his friend and finds refuge in the other's neck.

 

They share a tight embrace for a few minutes, Baekhyun even rocks them a little to keep them warm.

'Do you want to talk about it?' The older eventually whispers. 'Yeah... No here though.'

 

So they head back to Baekhyun's appartment and Chanyeol shares Sunmi's story over mugs of hot chocolate.

'That's... Some crazy shit.' A dumbfounded Baekhyun utters.

'Yeah well... I just hope that it will be taken into account when Yesung will be judged for all his wrong doings. He must pay for what he has done to her. To all of the victims as well, sure... But I hope he'll get extra years for this murder.' He states bitterly.

'And how are you feeling?' The older cautiously asks.

'I don't know... Atrophied, anaesthetised? She's been dead for the past eight years, getting over her passing has been a long process of regrets and guilt. And now the reason of her death is different from the one I was mourning for. I think I don't realise yet. I feel sad and angry, but it hasn't fully kicked in.'

He turns towards Baekhyun and gives him his softest smile, 'Thank you for being there though.' 'Anything for you foal.' Baekhyun answers just as fondly.

 

There is a beat of hesitation before the chestnut-haired man lowers his face and delicately moulds their lips together. Not sure if hot chocolate can be blamed the same way alcohol can be. I does not matter though, the contact is too precious to be broken. The taller can feel Baekhyun's arms around him, pulling him along his fall on the couch.

Their kiss stays chaste in a tender embrace.

'You're so strong and brave my little foal. You went through so much...' Baekhyun mumbles through a kiss on his forehead.

 

Yeah, he – they – went through so much. All this pain, shattered illusions, mistrust, insecurities, abuses... But for the first time, cuddled up in Baekhyun's arms, he thinks the result is worth it.

And yet there is this annoying part of his brain which can only remind him that good things never last, not for him.

'Do you think time will erase us?' Chanyeol absently mutters. 'What do you mean?' The shorter frowns.

'What Kyungsoo said to you, in Junmyeon's office... That time was a both healing and destructive weapon... Do you think time will tear us apart?'

'You're obsessed with the concept of time, aren't you?' Baekhyun playfully pokes his ribs. 'Can't blame me, I'm not supposed to grow up after all.' He chuckles good-heartedly.

The older strokes his hair some more and teases lightly, 'Well, I say that after all we've been through it'd be a shame to let time or distance separate us. Now that you accepted the fact that I don't care about my parents and that they won't be enough of an obstacle to break us up, you want to tackle immaterial things?'

'I can't boot-lick time like I can with your mother.' Chanyeol shrugs.

'It won't be effortless, and it will have to go both way. Let's not focus on how we'll drift apart, but rather on how we'll make this work. I want this to work.' Baekhyun adds with a slightly weak voice. It drops a weird weight on Chanyeol's heart. This sort of vulnerability does not suit Baekhyun, he decides. Did Chanyeol's words make him unsure about his lover's implication? Does he think he will be the only one to fight for them?

He straightens up and stares confidently at his lover's eyes, 'Me too. I can't promise anything, but I'll try because I want to. I want to love you till kingdom come.'

 

 

'I love you but I gotta admit the shape of your head is not very attractive without hair on it.' 'Shush you, I bet yours won't look any better.' Baekhyun frowns and turns towards their friends, 'Sehunnie, I rely on you to snap me a picture of his bold head.'

'Consider it done hyung.' Sehun seriously agrees.

'Hey, I'm also older than you, why don't you ever call me hyung?' Chanyeol protests. 'D'you really want me to answer that?' His friend sends him an unimpressed look.

 

Baekbeom, his mother, Minseok, Jongdae, Sehun, Luhan, Kyungsoo, even Jongin... They all came to send him off.

It's just eighteen months, he keeps repeating himself. Three semesters. Two pregnancies. Shorter than the waiting time for Lee Hi to release an album.

 

His only regret is that he won't be there for Chanyeol during Yesung's trial in two weeks. Fortunately, he knows he can rely on Jongin to take care of him.

Since Chanyeol enlists in a month and a half, they will spend twenty months physically apart. The twenty-fifth of November, that's the date of their reunion.

 

 

'I don't want to get my hopes up, so don't promise me anything. I just wish you'll be there that day.' Chanyeol had whispered in the dark snugness of his bedroom the night before.

They had made love until the crack of dawn, got drunk on each other's skin, acted like dramatic lovers.

 

 

The members of his future batallion exchange a last farewell with their families and walk towards the training center.

'I gotta go...' Baekhyun sighs heavily, and starts to say goodbye to each of his friends and family members individually, saving a tall foal for the end.

 

He desperatly wants to kiss Chanyeol but the latter said he did not want him to get into troubles, none of them wants Baekhyun to be bullied for months because of his homosexuality. So he settles for a tight, long hug, one that forces the brunette to hunch forwards.

'I'll miss you Baekhyun-ah, take care.' Chanyeol mumbles with a muffled voice. 'Same goes to you, foal. Love you.' He whispers against his lover's temple.

Chanyeol's big orbs glance quickly around them before dropping a kiss on his forehead, 'Love you too.'

Their smiles are fond but pained, their eyes convey a dozen of emotions. Finally Baekhyun looks away, and with a last wave to his crew, he turns away.

At each step separating him further from his lover, he wonders how many times they turned their back to each other already. He cannot wait for them to face the same direction again.

 

 

neol chajaganda chueogi bonaen tingkeobel
[I’ll go looking for you to Neverland]
ttaranaseotteon Neverland geugose naega
[Following Tinkerbell sent by the memories]
neowa barabomyeo utgo isseo
[There, you and I are smiling at each other]
nan yeongweonhan neoye piteopaen
[I’m am your eternal Peter Pan]
geu shigane meomchun ni namja
[Your man who has stopped in time]
seotuljiman neomu saranghaetteon
[I may be clumsy but I loved you so much]
naye neoyege danyeoga
[And I will run to you]

 

 

Orange and reddish leaves scatter the road, reminiscences of the trees' summery finery. Baekhyun always liked the fall, even more now that he can make a parallel between the brown shades of the nature and the eyes of his greatest love story.

Three years ago a boy who wouldn't grow up kissed him in this season. Those were the good days. Three years and a half of knowing each other and only a few months spent as dating.

Will time turn them apart, Chanyeol had asked. They fought against time, they texted, called, facetimed each other, but it was never the same.

 

His hair has grown back to his great relief, he has not dyed them yet. Maybe he got used to the black.

Baekhyun did not hate the military per say, he made some friends, he toughened up. But boy was he glad to be back. In February he will begin the last year of his master's degree and then he will be off to office work. He is better at scheming and analysing political speeches than as crawling in the mud, thank you very much.

 

Jongdae, Minseok and Sehun are not back from their own enlistments so he found himself lurking in the offices of the NIS more than ever. It's cute how Kyungsoo hyung still pretends to be mad about it.

 

He also happens to be invited in the Kim residence from time to time. During the investigations he became a good acquaintance of Kim Taeyeon, and Tiffany is a bubbly girl who grows attached to people quickly, so she is quite fond of him. It is funny how the serious CEO turns into a dork whenever her fiance is in the vicinity.

Taeyeon and Tiffany got engaged and will hold a private ceremony in Hawaii, since Tiffany is half American there will be at least one country in the world where they will be married.

Their love story is kind of romantic and sweet, Tiffany excitedly related him that they were childhood friends who had been separated when Tiffany moved back to the US, and that Taeyeon had hired detectives to find her first puppy love fifteen years after. She went on and on about how Taeyeon had not turned her back at her learning she became a prostitute, and did her best to save her.

No need to say that Taeyeon was an embarrassed blushing mess during the whole story.

 

As for the Elyxion case, all the trials have been succesful led, it took some time but all the people linked to White Noise including the corrupted authorities have been arrested.

Taemin was released a year ago, but the other were still in for a long time. People like Sunmi or Hyolyn have only three years left to serve, but most of the higher-ups received a thirty years of jail sentence. Junmyeon only got fifteen years, and Baekhyun wonders who he must suspect for this leniency.

Anyway, they are not worth of a thought anymore.

 

The jolts of the bus are noisy and distracting, so Baekhyun turns up the volume of his cellphone. In his headphones blares a song he listened to a million times. A song written, composed, sung and recorded for him. His lifeline for the past year and a half. Not a ballad but just as cheesy, it is rather a cheery song about love and fairytales.

 

 

The bus finally halts at his stop, and he promptly hops off.

He is nervous to say the least, what if he is not expected anymore? The venue is almost completely cleared. Has he left without him?

 

A small ball of fear slowly takes the available space in his throat. That is until he sees a figure hunched on a bench. A beefy stature but a childish pout. Elfish ears no longer hidden by voluminous hair.

 

Were they finally ready to be together? They both considered what they had as something which will be stolen from them, they never had really faith in the longevity of their relationship.

The thing is, they both pretended to be the judge of the other's feelings' validity instead of listening to their own.

The thing is, no matter how bumpy the ride is, Baekhyun cannot picture anyone else by his side on the road that is his life. He just hopes the other feels the same.

 

'Hey foal, what are you sulking for?'

The man raises his head so fast Baekhyun fears he gave him a whiplash. His bulging eyes look both stupid and adorable. And to think that he is turning twenty-five in two days.

In a heartbeat the taller man stands up and opens his arms in which Baekhyun falls gladly. 'You're late Baekhyun-ah, I got scared.' Chanyeol grumpily mutters.

'We always meet again, don't we?' Baekhyun grins cheekily. And without a care in the world he claims the other's lips.

 

shigeye taeyeop doneun sai

[While the clock’s springs were turning]

eolmana dallajeosseulkka

[How much did you change]

neol sseo naeryeogan majimak

[I turned the last page]

han jangeul neomgyeotjiman deo

[That is written about you]

ilgeo nael yonggiga an na

[But I have no courage to read it]

seulpeun geureun jiweo nael kkeoya

[I will erase the sad words]

uri yaegin kkeuchi anil kkeoya

[Our story is not over]

dashi manna bol tenikka

[Because we will meet again]