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dusk, dawn, & chocolate

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Six months ahead

December 27 8:59 PM

 

bbh: so what you’re saying is that we’re breaking up?

pcy: i guess that’s what i’m saying yeah

bbh: so two years, down the drain? and you’re acting this cool about it? over text?

pcy: i mean it’s not all down the drain, baek. you’re still really important to me, i’ve just found myself in a situation where i don’t think a relationship is right for me right now.

pcy: i’m really sorry about it if that means anything to you

bbh: you’re really blind, you know that?

bbh: you can take that apology and shove it right up your ass, chanyeol.

__

Four weeks ahead

“Alright class. For your final project, I want each of you to create your own short film. Because this is technically an art class- and I know at least half of you are here to fulfill a humanities credit-” Chanyeol chuckled under his breath. His professor was indeed correct. As a college senior, he had in fact signed up for Film and Media 101 to fill an empty credit he had missed completing three years prior. A fluff class. An easy A.

 “-I’m giving you free reign. The only requirements will be that it has to be no less than six to seven minutes long, no more than fifteen. You can swear, but no slurs of any kind. That will constitute in an automatic failure. Same goes for sexual material, no private parts out in the open.” Several snickers echoed throughout the classroom, Chanyeol included. “Calm down, you guys are in college,” the professor sighed, waving his hands.  “Work in teams if you want, just have them approved with me first, but keep in mind I’m judging you on each of your performances, so if you play a dead body and your teammates have ten minutes of dialogue, your grade will be different from that of your group.” His professor continued. “Aside from that, if you want to make a silent film, go for it. Music videos are alright, too, just keep the performance requirements in mind. Aside from that, that’s it. Be creative, make it feel believable. It’s due the last day of class. Have a great afternoon.”

“Well, there goes my idea of filming a porno with you,” Chanyeol jeered, turning to find his roommate and best friend sighing from beneath the hood of his sweatshirt.

“Chanyeol, must I consistently remind you that this five-star ass belongs to Jongin Kim, and Jongin Kim only?” Sehun jested in return. “You can’t have any of it- without his permission at least. Which will more than likely be a no.” Sehun stood from his desk, waiting for Chanyeol to leave.

“Yeah, yeah, jokes aside, you’re down to work on this project with me, right?” Chanyeol asked, packing his notebooks into his tattered backpack. Like the good friend he is, Sehun agreed to sign up for F&M 101 with Chanyeol to save him from being alone in a room of pretentious freshmen who were dead-set in their beliefs of becoming the next Steven Spielberg. The pair of seniors took great pride in sitting in the back of the class, laughing at the kids who dissected the ever-loving shit out of every frame their professor, Dr. Junmyeon Kim, presented. They were pretty sure Dr. Kim hated them. Mostly because they also would whisper about how hot Dr. Kim is. A strong friendship the two shared, blooming since they were randomly paired to dorm together their freshman year.

“Yeah, of course,” Sehun said, Chanyeol standing and shrugging his backpack over his shoulders. “Let’s go grab some coffee and start thinking of shit. As good as I am at pretending to care, I don’t think I can pretend to care for a solid six to seven minutes straight, on camera.”

__

One week ahead

“Hey, Chanyeol,” Sehun called from beneath the man in question’s lifted bed. “When’s that film thing due again?

“The sixth, I think.” Chanyeol responded from above. The two were currently cramming for finals, and at this point Chanyeol was certain he had more shrimp crisp crumbs lodged in the folds of his torso and chin than facts lodged into his mind. “Why?’

“Duuude,” Sehun groaned. “That’s in, like, a week. We still haven’t started anything.”

“Shit dawg,” Groaned Chanyeol, running his fingers through his hair. “I’ve been so busy working on my Capstone, I forgot all about that, shit.”

“Yeah, shit is right.” Sehun groaned again. “Maybe we could do an art piece on Jongin’s dance final?” He asked, his voice piquing.

Chanyeol scoffed. “Yeah, if I knew you weren’t suggesting that purely for fap material, and the fact that we need dialogue, I might almost agree to do it.”

“Well, we’re running out of options here. What do you think we can make a film about for seven minutes?”

Chanyeol paused, pondering and weighing his options for a moment. “Maybe we could be meta as fuck and do a piece on two kids procrastinating on their film final and rushing to do anything, thus creating an array of works in like ten minutes.”

“Sounds gay, I’m in.” Sehun agreed. “I think it would make Dr. Kim hate us more.”

Chanyeol agreed, continuing to type away on his computer.

__

Four days ahead

Chanyeol hated himself. But most of all, he hated Sehun. And Sehun’s older sister.

“I’m really sorry dude, I’m getting ready to leave right now. I can’t film tonight. Or tomorrow, for that matter.” Sehun explained. Chanyeol could hear the rustling and zipping of suitcases through his speaker, and the unmistakable sound of drawers opening and closing as Sehun tried to find a clean pair of jeans.

“So you’re bailing on the project?” Chanyeol questioned, trying to keep his voice quiet in the echo-y halls of the open-plan science building. He had just been in a study session for his Theory of Computational Science 432 final and was actually feeling good about his decision in his degree, and then Sehun called.

“My sister’s going into labor, like, two weeks early. I have a two hour drive ahead of me, I don’t wanna miss my niece’s birth, you jackass.” Sehun quipped. “Call around, I’m sure there’s someone willing to bail on studying for finals to help you with the video. At least we got the script done.”

“True, but like, what about your grade? Dr. Kim has both our names down for this video and you’re not gonna be in it.” Chanyeol whined. He knew his fight was futile, but he couldn’t help but whine about the situation unravelling before him.

“Dude, we have like 98s in that class, I don’t think getting a D on a 100-level class final is gonna damage our chances of graduating any. Just put my name in the credits and tell Dr. Kim I had mono or strep or something.” Sehun pointed out. Damn his logic. “Cs get degrees or whatever. But I think not doing it at all would do something to our GPAs that wouldn’t be good.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” Chanyeol paused. He didn’t want to just not do the project at all. Just because his partner is bailing doesn’t mean Chanyeol has to bail, too. Besides, his parents didn’t raise no quitter. “Did Jongin do his dance final already?”

“No, but we’re too late on that. His performance is tomorrow, and he’s locked himself in the dance studio and doesn’t wanna be bothered. I haven’t gotten dick in days.” Sehun stated. “But maybe ask Yixing?” He suggested.

“Alright, I’ll go ahead and call him, then.” Chanyeol sighed. He supposed this is what he gets for procrastinating. “Enjoy the fresh baby. Congrats on becoming an uncle.”

Sehun laughed. “Thanks, weirdo. Good luck, sorry about having to bail.”

“It’s all good man, I’ll come up with something.” Chanyeol said. “Later, dude.”

“Later.”

Chanyeol hit the end call button, throwing his head back at the metallic ceiling of the science building’s lobby some thirty feet above. His parents hadn’t raised a quitter, but they had certainly raised a procrastinator.

Lifting his phone back up, he opened his contacts folder and scrolled until he saw Yixing’s name. After a few rings, Yixing answered. “Hey, Yixing? Yeah, hey, it’s Chanyeol Park. Jongin’s boyfriend’s roommate? I’m good, yeah, I have a question. I’ll buy you food if you can possibly help me out.”

__

Three days ahead

Well, Yixing hadn’t exactly panned out. Luckily the kid was nice and said that since he was too busy prepping for his own dance final, he knew a couple of people who might be able to help Chanyeol in his pinch.

First, Chanyeol had knocked on the door of a short kid called Kyungsoo who was a musical theatre student, and the kid said no. Something about him made something sit uneasy in the pit of Chanyeol’s stomach. He looked cute, like a little puppy or those fluffy white arctic seals, yet somehow vicious. Like a wild dog or a mother polar bear whose cubs were in danger. Weird, but somehow arousing all the same.

This lead Chanyeol back into the arts building, hoping maybe one of the acting students could help him out. This quickly made Chanyeol feel stupid, as he realized that it was finals week, and everyone was sweating as much as he was, especially all the kids that has lines to recite and moves to memorize. So, after a swift series of “Sorry, but no’s,” Chanyeol made for the exits.

“But Obi Wan Kenobi! You’re my only hope!” Chanyeol pleaded into his phone later that evening.

“I know, I know. Your situation kinda sucks, and I wish I could help, but I can’t.” Said Jongdae, one of Chanyeol’s many close acquaintances and drinking buddies. “It’s finals week, bro, you shouldn’t have procrastinated so hard.” He laughed.

As Chanyeol has done more this week than he’s ever had in his life, he groans. “Yeah dude, I fuckin’ know. I regret it immensely. You know anyone else?”

“Sorry, homie. I don’t.” Jongdae said. “This might be the end of the line for you.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” Chanyeol sighed. “I guess I’d better get my shit together and do this myself.”

__

One day ahead

Chanyeol absolutely cannot do this by himself. He doesn’t understand why- though at this point it may be the pressure of the shit-scaringly close deadline and minimal room for error- he can’t seem to get anything right. All of his exuberant confidence absolutely plummets as soon as he hits the record button on his phone. Nothing is going his way at all. He’s been filming himself for the past two days, and all he has to show for it is four and a half minutes of awkward film.

It is currently the evening before the assignment is due. He’s finished his other tests, began packing up the dorm (including Sehun’s side), and even managed to spit out his Capstone in time. All that’s left is this stupid movie and he’s officially done with college.

The only thing in the way of becoming a whole entire adult with a degree is this.

Staring at himself in the mirror with a shitty drawn-on mustache, Chanyeol admits defeat. He can’t do it; he’s ready to send Dr. Kim an email saying he and Sehun lost the file or something and to please just finalize their grades.

“Nope,” He whispered to himself. “The Parks aren’t a family of quitters.”

On one last whim of hope, Chanyeol flicked through his contacts list, in desperate search of some sort of beacon of hope.

Irene? Move-out crew. Can’t make it.

Jongin? Last final is tomorrow. Studying.

Minseok? Dr. Kim’s TA. Probably grading things and sucking Dr. Kim’s dick.

Baekhyun Byun.

No, absolutely not. Chanyeol thinks to himself.

Chanyeol hasn’t payed attention to Baekhyun’s name in months, more or less considered clicking it open and pressing call.

Therefore, Chanyeol isn’t surprised when the call ends and Baekhyun’s answering machine picks up. What he’s more surprised at-aside from the fact that he actually pressed call- is the text that follows just minutes later.

bbh: um, why’d you call me?

Chanyeol has no idea what to respond. He stares blankly at the keyboard for several minutes, his mind utterly and completely blank. After an obscene amount of time, his thumbs send out an empty (and not entirely false) emergency.

Chanyeol’s phone buzzes to life a few seconds after the receipt announces the message has been read, a call coming through.

“You must’ve gotten yourself into one hell of a mess to be calling me about an emergency.” Chanyeol’s throat runs dry and tightens. He hasn’t heard Baekhyun’s voice in months, and he hadn’t expected to hear it at all henceforth.

“Um, yeah, I guess you could say that,” Chanyeol spits out around the lump in his throat.

“Well, what is it?” Baekhyun says stiffly.

Chanyeol is quiet for a moment. “Well, I have this film final that, um, it’s due tomorrow at 2:30. Sehun and I were supposed to do it together, and he, like, bailed? Well not really bailed, but like, his sister went into labor and he had to leave, so like-”

“Can’t anybody else help you?” Baekhyun interrupts coldly.

“Oh, uh,” Chanyeol stammers. “No. Why else would I be calling you?”

The line goes quiet.

“Hello?” Chanyeol’s voice is dry. He hadn’t thought he’d be so affected by talking to Baekhyun again.

They had been together for two years and five months. He’d really loved the vibrant, sassy, little shit, but he found himself in a spot in his life where he needed change. He thought Baekhyun would understand, he tried really hard to get him to understand. The thoughts he had expressed were difficult to explain, and Baekhyun really didn’t understand. Yes, Chanyeol was sad to break up with him, yes Chanyeol still loved him. He just hadn’t envisioned the rest of their relationship panning out, however long it may have been. Baekhyun didn’t understand. And nothing upset Chanyeol more than knowing that Baekhyun would probably never understand and the message had been misfired. Talking to him hurt, and Chanyeol realized that’s likely what Baekhyun wanted.

“I regret answering my phone.” Baekhyun announced, the silence shattering like glass. “I thought you were in actual danger or something horrible happened to someone I actually cared about,” He articulated actually pointedly, jabbing Chanyeol straight in the gut. “But you put something off for too long and are here crying to me for help. Typical.”

“Look, I’m sorry for bothering you. But if you can’t, it’s fine, I’ll manage,” Chanyeol blurted awkwardly.

The line went silent again, the only sound a soft buzz in the receiver.

“My horoscope this month said that I’d do something nice, and I haven’t done it yet.” Baekhyun sighed. He hadn’t hung up.  “And I guess I can’t make the stars angry.” He sounded pretty reluctant and bitter, but Chanyeol supposed he had no room to complain. “Do you need me to come right now?”

“I-I mean, if you want-” To say Chanyeol was shocked would be an understatement. He shivered, his blood cold.

“Fine. I’ll be there in, like, twenty minutes.” Said Baekhyun, taut. “Now stop stuttering like a moron, or I’ll decide to piss off the stars.”

Chanyeol shut up immediately as the line ran dead.

Hour one, campus

Chanyeol’s legs are leaden as he rises to answer the door.

“Uh, hi.” He whispers, avoiding Baekhyun’s eyes.

He’s just as pretty as he remembered. His shaggy, dark hair has been combed back, his toned legs clad in dark wash jeans, and a crisp denim jacket was paired with a grey t-shirt. Classic and nice; Chanyeol was always jealous of how put-together Baekhyun looked. It was one of the many things that made Chanyeol feel like Baekhyun was too good for him.

“What’d I say about your stuttering? We aren’t gonna get through this if you keep it up.” Baekhyun snapped. Alarmed, Chanyeol stepped out of the way to allow Baekhyun into his dorm. “What is it you need me to do?” He asked, flopping down on Chanyeol’s well-loved beanbag chair, which was now resting against stacks of boxes.

Chanyeol wandered over to his desk, picking up the stack of stapled paper resting on top. “Well, here’s the script Sehun and I made up before he…left.” He stuck the script gingerly out towards Baekhyun. He half-expected his ex to snatch them out of his hands, given their recent interactions, and was startled when he did not.

Baekhyun, a performing arts major himself, bore holes into the script over the next several minutes as Chanyeol wrung his hands on the futon couch next to him, slipping between paying close attention to his own dirty socks and Baekhyun’s ruffled brow.

“Chanyeol, this sucks.” Baekhyun blurted about halfway through his reading. “If I’m helping you, I’m not partaking in this. I don’t need this bullshit on my resume. It reeks ‘I did this last minute.’”

Chanyeol knew the script wasn’t good, but he didn’t expect such feedback. “So, what does this mean?” He tried.

“It means either I’m leaving, or you agree to do something else.” Baekhyun said, tossing the script to the littered coffee table.

“Well, what would something else be?”

Baekhyun checked the time on his phone. “Well it’s currently 7:30. I don’t know what we could pull tonight, if anything to be honest.”

Chanyeol completely deflated, resting his head in his hands. “Well…shit.”

Baekhyun was quiet a moment, chewing his bottom lip. “Did your professor say it had to be anything specific?”

“Not really.” He ran his hands through his hair. “Just more than about six minutes and no swearing.”

“I’m thinking maybe we could do something artsy.”

“Like what?”

“Like a documentary, or something?”

“A documentary?”

“Or a music video.”

Chanyeol pondered for a minute. “If we can’t do a skit, how the hell do you think we can pull off a music video?” Chanyeol asked, flabbergasted. “If a song is usually, like, three or four minutes, what about the extra time?”

“Editing,” Baekhyun explained. “Also, I’m not talking like a rap video where there’s Lambos and girls with their tits out,” He continued. “Sometimes songs just evoke a certain feeling, maybe we could do something to emulate that?”

Wracking his brain, Chanyeol tried to think about what exactly Baekhyun was talking about. “I don’t really listen to many songs like that…”

“Well, open up your Spotify, ‘cause we’ve gotta find something.”

Hour two, campus

“Chanyeol, I’m not doing a music video to Gucci Gang, just give it up.” Baekhyun snapped. It might’ve just been Chanyeol’s imagination, but he swore he saw the hint of a smile in the curve of his lips.

“I’m just saying, it’d be easy.” Chanyeol mumbled. “We wouldn’t even have to go to a Gucci store, we could make it satire, like inside a Walmart!”

“No.” Chanyeol finally quieted down, slouching back into the futon.

“Here!” Baekhyun perked up, opening a song on his Spotify. “This is perfect!”

Baekhyun boosted the volume on his phone, and Chanyeol was greeted by a simple beat, followed by cheerful guitar. Moments later, a thickly-accented man began to sing, Chanyeol thought, unintelligibly. “What the heck is he saying?” Baekhyun shushed him, thrusting a MetroLyrics page into his face. At least the two were slowly becoming more comfortable with one another, though Baekhyun’s bossy exterior was still facing front.

~We go where nobody knows, with guns hidden under our petticoats
No we're never gonna quit it, no we're never gonna quit it no
Yeah, we're dressed in black, head to toe, with guns hidden under our petticoats
No we're never gonna quit it, no we're never gonna quit it no~

“What does this even mean?” Chanyeol asked, handing Baekhyun his phone.

“It’s just kind of about running and going on an adventure.” Explained Baekhyun. “What I’m thinking is that we can drive down to LA, make a few pit stops, and I’ll film the whole thing. I’ll take Sehun’s spot.”

“Well, this is gonna make the most awkward adventure music…documentary video thing ever.” Chanyeol scoffed, his eyes wide.

“Put some more black on, I’ve already got our first pitstop in mind.” Commanded Baekhyun. “Something to make this all a little less awkward…” He said under his breath.

“Alright, Mr. Director Baekhyun Sir,” Chanyeol stood, walking towards his closet.

“Shut the hell your mouth, I don’t wanna deal with your attitude on this long-ass night.”

“That you agreed to.” Chanyeol said pointedly.

“Yeah, don’t fucking remind me. I’d much rather be in bed right now.”

“But it’s only 8:45.”

“My statement stands.”

Hour three, off-campus apartments.

Chanyeol didn’t know there were any other foreign exchange students at his school other than Yixing. Though, now he knew there were three other kids from China, and they were all probably international drug lords.

On the awkward drive over to the off-campus apartments-about three miles in distance- Baekhyun had opened his phone and made a call to a guy named Kris.

“Hey, it’s Baekhyun. Yeah, mind if me and a…friend, um, stop over? Just some loud, yeah.” Loud? Since when did Baekhyun smoke loud? “Yeah, I have fifty dollars.” Chanyeol had awkwardly side-eyed him, pretending to look out of his car window, like that Chuck E. Cheese meme. “Mind if we smoke it there? We won’t take too long. Okay, cool. I’m on my way now.”

As Baekhyun hung up his phone and placed it in his cupholder, Chanyeol turned, clearing his throat. “Since when did you smoke?”

“Since New Year’s.” Baekhyun responded casually. For the second time that night, Baekhyun’s words punched Chanyeol right in the gut. New Year’s Eve was just four days after they had broken up. “Why?”

“I dunno, you just always seemed kind of straight-edge.” It was true. Chanyeol had always been the wild one in the relationship. Baekhyun drank, but never smoked or dropped or sniffed or anything like Chanyeol did. Another reason Baekhyun was too good for him.

“I was,” Baekhyun exhaled. “But sometimes things can change.”

The air became noticeably cold.

Silence filled the car, its tension palpable, until Baekhyun pulled up to apartment building M.

“This way,” Baekhyun nodded as Chanyeol stepped out of his sedan. Chanyeol followed him to a door with a slightly rusted “6,” where he could hear some muffled must and jest just through its wood. Baekhyun knocked, as Chanyeol awkwardly stood just behind him. Yeah, he smoked and did questionable things, but those were always at parties. There was something about this place seemed a bit… off. Then again, that’s probably what Baekhyun wanted.

“Your professor said no swearing or sex, but what about drugs?” Baekhyun asked.

Chanyeol was startled slightly. He hadn’t thought of that, obviously, as Chanyeol hadn’t expected to be doing anything illicit for this project. “I mean, as long as we don’t show that it’s weed, we’re probably fine?”

Baekhyun nodded.

Chanyeol could already smell the dankness wafting out from the crack beneath the door. Ah, yes. Nothing like a low-scale trap house run by college kids.

Just then, a very tall man, probably taller than Chanyeol, which was a lot, opened the door. He had huge, angry eyebrows lining the brim of a beanie, diamond studs in his ears, draped in a Bape sweatshirt. His eyes made his way to Chanyeol, hardening after a few moments. Chanyeol swallowed hard, intimidated.

“Sup, Baek.” The guy said, his voice deep and relaxed. “Come on in, Tao’s already grinding the next batch.”

Baekhyun bro-hugged Kris before walking inside. Timidly, Chanyeol made his way behind him, hoping not to be stopped by the man before him. Though, as he is Chanyeol Park, a massive hand pressed against his chest as his foot stepped inside the apartment. Baekhyun had already disappeared into a room.

Chanyeol peered up to see Kris looking down upon him. From this angle, Chanyeol could see a gold smiley piercing jutting out from behind Kris’s upper lip. “Don’t think I don’t know who you are.”

Chanyeol nearly shit his pants. “Yes.”

“You’re why Baekhyun started coming here. Don’t think we don’t get close to our customers.” Kris swung a heavy arm around Chanyeol’s shoulders, ducking head to whisper into his ear in the least sexy way possible. “And don’t think I don’t recognize you. I make most of my grind at parties, Chanyeol Park. I’ve sold to you before.” Sweat was forming under Chanyeol’s arms. “Anywho, man-to-man for a second.” Chanyeol was now 100% sweat. “Though I have tough exterior, I’m soft on the inside. But don’t tell no one that.” Kris glared again. Chanyeol nodded yes vigorously. “Baekhyun really loved you. But he also really wanted to forget about you. Take whatever the hell shit you’re doing right now seriously. If you fuck anything up, he will never let you back in. You’ll spend the rest of your life thinking about him like that one Katy Perry song.”

Chanyeol’s eyes darted around for a second. “Teenage Dream?”

“No, the other one.”

It hit Chanyeol. “The One That Got Away.” He whispered.

“Exactly.” Kris patted him rough on the back, leading him back into the room Baekhyun had dipped into. “Now, Indica or Sativa?” 

Chanyeol laughed. “Definitely Indica.”

Hour four, apartment M6

 

In a shoe-box of a bedroom, Baekhyun sat on the edge of a bed draped in a lime-green, ugly as hell tapestry with a joint between his fingers. Next to the bed, on an array of ottomans, the most opulent, striking man Chanyeol had ever seen sat grinding buds of marijuana on a tray stolen from In-n-Out Burger. It was quite the juxtaposition, Chanyeol thought. He had glittering rings on nearly every finger, and a jacket that probably cost more than his student loans would, with a red plastic tray on top of a pair of designer jeans. His name was Tao, Chanyeol learned.

In another corner, in a bean bag chair much like Chanyeol’s, Kris was sharing bong hits with a guy called Lu that looked rather young but was actually a year older. And, on the same rickety bed with the god-awful tapestry, Chanyeol sat up on the pillows away from Baekhyun’s personal bubble.

And, also, Chanyeol was as baked as a loaf of bread. He hadn’t remembered Baekhyun taking any videos and pictures for the project, but he thinks he might’ve. Maybe.

“You ready to go?” Baekhyun asked, his eyes soft and ringed with a touch of red. He didn’t seem as relaxed as he should’ve after two straights and a spliff.

“Where?” Chanyeol asked.

“The beach,” Baekhyun asked.

“Why are you guys going to the beach at 10pm?” Tao asked, licking the edge of a strawberry swisher.

“He needs my help with a thing,” Baekhyun answered, sighing. “So we’re going to the beach and down south for the night.”

“Jesus Christ, who did you kill?” Tao questioned.

“My dignity.” Baekhyun replied. He took one last hit of his roach and stood, tossing the nub in the trash. The shift in weight caused the mattress to groan, startling Chanyeol. “Come on, Yeol, let’s get this over with.”

Chanyeol’s chest ached. He’d called him Yeol. Baekhyun dusted off his pants and thanked the group for their time (and drugs) before heading out to his car. Chanyeol stood, blinking a few times to realign his center of balance.

“Thank you,” Chanyeol mumbled, bowing awkwardly. Wait, he wasn’t in Korea with his grandparents.

“Remember what I told you,” Kris reiterated, locking his eyes with Chanyeol.

“Of course,” Chanyeol mumbled once more before dashing out of the room.

As Chanyeol clambered his way back into Baekhyun’s car, he was surprised to see the former looking in his direction as he figured out how his seat buckle worked. Chanyeol looked up, meeting Baekhyun’s eyes. “What?”

“How are you feeling?” Baekhyun asked, his voice forcibly light.

“Shouldn’t I be the one to ask you that?” Chanyeol stated. Baekhyun blinked. “But… I feel alright. Thanks, for that.” He gestured back to the apartment.

“Yeah…” Baekhyun cleared his throat, switching his car into drive. “I just…I know I’m acting like a bitch, and I have every right to act like a bitch, thank you very much.” Baekhyun shot him a sharp look, and Chanyeol suddenly felt like a scared dog. “But if I’m going to be stuck with you until whatever time tomorrow morning, I don’t want anything to be more awkward than it has to be.”

“I agree,” Chanyeol said, slumping back into the seat. He didn’t really know what else to say.

Once again, the car fell silent, the only essence of sound coming from the rumble of the tires across the road and wind against the windows.

“So, like, are Kris and them all like… drug lords?” Chanyeol asked, cracking the mute void.

Baekhyun laughed, like actually laughed, and Chanyeol finally felt relieved for the first time that night. “No,” he snickered. “Well, not really at least.” He explained. “They run kind of like a catering service thing for parties, but like, with drugs instead of food.”

“Interesting.” Chanyeol pondered. “That’s why they were all dressed really nice.”
“Yeah,” Baekhyun continued. “They make a lot of money.”

“How haven’t they been shut down by the school?” Chanyeol questioned.

“Well, the president often gets stressed out, too, but let’s just leave that there.”

“Oh, damn.”

“Yeah,”

“So, like, I just wanted to ask-”

“Oh, god, Chanyeol.”

“Did you start going there because of me?”

Baekhyun’s lips became taught and straight, much like Sehun’s did when he became bored or displeased. The seconds ticked by and Chanyeol thought he ruined everything again. He almost took back everything before Baekhyun finally opened his mouth and said, “Yeah. Yeah, I did, Chanyeol.”

“Oh,” Chanyeol breathed. His clouded mind didn’t know what to do with the information. But what he could make out through the web in his head was Kris’s gruff voice echoing: If you fuck anything up, he will never let you back in. “Well, I’m sorry.”

Baekhyun just pursed his lips and blinked slow, turning onto the freeway.

 

Hour four, highway 101

Chanyeol didn’t want to say anything else after that. He didn’t know what to say. All he did was hope that Baekhyun took his apology to heart. So he let Baekhyun reach over and turn the radio on, allowing the noise to fill the gap inside the car. He watched as cars and trees sped by them in the dark as Top 40 artists serenaded the air around them. He and Baekhyun just couldn’t seem to keep the peace between them, no matter how close they came to resolving their tension. Chanyeol couldn’t help but blame himself for that.

After nearly twenty minutes, Baekhyun pulled off the highway into the small beach town close to their university. At this hour, there were stragglers and students traipsing along the sidewalks, bouncing from bar to bar, the crowds wearing thin as Baekhyun drove towards the town’s pier, its long wooden arm stretching into the black ocean.

“I was thinking maybe we could get some beach shots here?” Baekhyun stated, the hesitation in his voice making the direction seem more like a question seeking permission.

“You’re the director here,” Chanyeol prodded, a teasing smile just hardly present on his face. “Mr. Director Baekhyun Sir.” No more messing up. Parks weren’t quitters.

“Shut up,” Baekhyun huffed, swatting Chanyeol’s arm. There, too, was the glimpse of a smirk on his lips. “Get out of my car.”

The two exited Baekhyun’s car, Chanyeol awkwardly following behind as Baekhyun headed towards the steps that lead to the beach below the pier.

“So…what you do want me to do?” Chanyeol asked, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Just act normal.” Baekhyun answered, taking out his phone to record. “Like walk towards the water, I guess. Look brooding.”

Chanyeol followed his direction, making his way towards the water as best he could. His Vans weren’t faring quite well in the slippery sand. He stumbled a bit, hands in his jeans pockets and kneels buckling every few steps. He was most certainly still high.

“I said look brooding, not like a drunk dog.” Baekhyun barked from behind. Muffled steps approached behind Chanyeol, alongside a hand on his shoulder stopping his movement. “Here, like this.” Baekhyun handed Chanyeol his phone and began his walk towards the ocean. Chanyeol followed him with his phone, slowly following pace until Baekhyun reached the water’s edge.

And Chanyeol stood there, phone in hand, wind whipping his hair about his head as he watched his ex-boyfriend pose by the sea. His heart sunk deep into his stomach, aching, as Baekhyun stood there, so beautiful and so unaware. Pushing his hair back and out of his face, looking out towards the water, not knowing just how much it hurt Chanyeol to simply look at him. It might’ve been the weed, but it all felt like such an unfortunate dream.

“You okay, Yeol?” Baekhyun called out.

Yeol.

He was such a fucking idiot. “Y-yeah, I’m alright.” His voice cracked. “You’re doing amazing, sweetie.” He tried with false confidence in his voice.

“Don’t talk to me like I’m Kim Kardashian.” Baekhyun quipped. Behind his phone, Chanyeol smiled small. “Now get over here and you try, this is your project after all.”

Baekhyun marched through the sand, with Chanyeol and his clumsy feet meeting halfway. “Go,” Baekhyun huffed. “We have places to be.” Again, a small smile had made its way onto his lips. Chanyeol pretended he hadn’t noticed.

Back by the shoreline, Chanyeol decided he had no idea how to look pretty and pose as perfectly as Baekhyun had, so he did the next best thing he could think of: dancing. Terribly.

“Jesus Christ, Chanyeol,” Baekhyun groaned. “Knock it off.”

“I can orange justice in my project if I want to!” Chanyeol cried. “You can’t stop me!”

Somewhere in the midst of flossing and hyping, with Baekhyun staring at him like he was a goddamned idiot, Chanyeol felt something different in the air. Something damp. “Hey, uh… I think it’s raining.” He called.

“What the fuck?” Baekhyun said, holding his palm open in the air. “It never rains!”

Sure enough, as soon as the words left his mouth, the rain came pouring down, pummeling the sand below them. “The car! The car!” Chanyeol called, scrambling away from the water.

“Fuck, where did I put the keys!?” Baekhyun yelled, making his way out of the sand to the wooden steps. The two sped up the staircase onto the parking lot, Baekhyun digging through his jeans pockets all the while. “Shit where did I put them!?”
“Try your jacket!”

“Thank God!” Baekhyun cheered, ripping the fob from the interior pocket of his jacket, frantically unlocking the car. The two slipped inside, panting, half soaking wet. “I swear the universe hates me.” Baekhyun muttered, wiping water from his face with the back of his sleeve.

“If I remember correctly, the universe told you to come here tonight.” Chanyeol said, hoping to lighten the mood.

“Well you’re not wrong, but maybe I read the wrong horoscope, who knows.”

“Technically, if you read the wrong one, don’t you think you were meant to read it?”

Baekhyun looked at Chanyeol like he had eight heads. “I hate how even when you’re wrong, you still somehow come out right.” He jammed his seat belt into the buckle. “I’m wet and I want In-n-Out.”

“It’s been a while since I heard you say that.”

“Chanyeol, I swear on me nan’s grave.”

Hour five, highway 101

“So…” Chanyeol started, digging the last few straggling fries from the bottom of his bag, stuffing them into his mouth. “Did you ever get that internship with that conservatory?”

“I thought this was a video project, not an interview?” Baekhyun said, finishing off his animal-style double-double.

“Well, yeah, I just…” He trailed off. “Wanted to know.”

Baekhyun side-eyed him, cautious. Chanyeol was a second away from telling him never mind, it didn’t matter before he finally said. “Yeah, I did. Outreach acting. I start in a few weeks, actually.”

“That’s awesome, Baek.” Chanyeol grinned. “I’m proud of you.” A knot tightened in Chanyeol’s chest. He’d hoped he’d said the right thing.

Before they’d broken up, he remembered hearing just how much Baekhyun wanted an internship with a local performing arts conservatory, well-known across the state. He worked hard, was so talented at what he did that Chanyeol always knew he would have no trouble getting accepted. He was bound to do something big. In their two-and-half years, he’d gone to countless performances, Baekhyun always starring in one of the lead roles. His rambunctious personality allowed to him to take any role beneath the spotlight, his voice powerful and always full, proud, bellowing with pure emotion. He always took Chanyeol’s breath away. He’d always been so proud to say, “See him up there!? That’s my boyfriend!” Chanyeol missed those bragging rights, those nights spent practicing lines with Baekhyun until 4am, he missed the ridiculous costumes he’d eventually peel off between fervent kisses, and the thick, waxy makeup that would end up on both their faces.

 But all this, again, is why he had felt he would never be enough for Baekhyun.

Chanyeol was the biggest fucking idiot in the world.

“What about you?” Baekhyun asked quietly. “Did you get one?”

“Yeah,” Chanyeol cleared his throat, definitely not expecting Baekhyun to ask him anything in return. “I got one from one of those local startups, I just have to decide if I still want it.” He crunched his In-n-Out bag into a ball, placing it on the floorboard under his feet. “I still have a week or so to decide.”

“I think you should take it.” Baekhyun blurted.

“You do?”

“Yeah, I think that’d be good for you.” Baekhyun muttered.

Their eyes met, and Chanyeol could almost feel the slight spark of kindling beginning to burn. Before there was a chance of it catching light, Chanyeol flicked his eyes away, back towards the window. “Thanks,” He said. “That means a lot.”

For the umpteenth time that night, the air falls cold, a weight palpable in the atmosphere. The seconds ticked by in hours, the anxiety rising in Chanyeol’s chest and he couldn’t decipher why.

“Why…why did you ask?” Baekhyun asked, tepid.

Chanyeol rolled over how to respond in his mind. He inhaled before deciding, “Because I care.”

“You…care?” Baekhyun’s voice seemed tense.

“Yeah, I…do.” He didn’t know what else he could say.

“Do you…think you deserve to?” Baekhyun asked both gently and pointedly.

Chanyeol swallowed hard, sighing. The knot in his chest tightened, pulling at his heart. “No,” He admitted. “I don’t think I deserve to at all. But I do.”

The air changed, tilted on its axis. Baekhyun’s brow was still furrowed, less tense like he was no longer angry, frustrated. Rather pensive, his mind unwinding. Not wanting the atmosphere to warp back, Chanyeol did what he thought was best, reaching down and opening his phone.

“You mind if I open a playlist?” He muttered.

Baekhyun grinned, eyes closing for a mere moment as he turned through an exit. “No, that sounds great.” He whispered.

Hour six, the velvet jones

“Wait,w-are we?” Chanyeol stuttered, Baekhyun pulling into the back lot of what appeared to be a club. “Are we at a nightclub?”

“Kinda,” Baekhyun shrugged, putting his car in park. “It’s more of a venue than anything. I thought it would help the video if we stopped in for a minute. There’s usually a lot of cool performances going on here.”

Chanyeol blinked. He was beginning to learn a lot about how Baekhyun changed after their breakup. He couldn’t decide whether or not he should feel some sort of guilt about these discoveries, if maybe it was his fault. Should he feel bad if he changed; had he wanted to? Chanyeol shrugged these thoughts away, smirking, “I feel like this project is becoming more of a date than actual work.”

“In your dreams, Yeol.” Baekhyun rolled his eyes playfully. And there he goes again.

It was 1:15am when they got into the club, just fifteen minutes until last call for alcohol. Some semi-local, indie-electro band neither Baekhyun nor Chanyeol knew were playing, but apparently they were popular enough to have a packed venue. Chanyeol was practically squished against the bar, clutching his vodka-OJ against his chest.

“What exactly are we going to do?” Chanyeol shouted into Baekhyun’s ear, attempting to be louder than the deafening music bumping around them. Being this close to Baekhyun was amping up Chanyeol’s anxiety more than the high possibility of losing his hearing. “This place closes in like, thirty minutes.”

“I think just a couple shots will work,” Baekhyun shouted back, long island iced tea in hand. “Spending too much time here is not agenda-friendly.”

“Okay, cool.” Chanyeol nodded, taking a large sip of his drink. “What do you want me to do?” He still couldn’t decide if direct eye-contact was appropriate yet. Maybe this alcohol would help him find the answer.

“I dunno, stand there and look pretty I guess,” Baekhyun jested, eyebrows raised.

“I thought that was your job.” Chanyeol teased back.

Baekhyun responded by chugging his drink, saying “Shut up and start acting like you’re having a good time.”

“Okay, Mr. Baekhyun Director Master Sir.” Chanyeol said, raising his hands.

Over the next thirty or so minutes, Baekhyun and Chanyeol took turns filming video on Baekhyun’s phone, elbowing through the crowd to find the best shots. They danced, they downed their drinks and even managed to grab second glasses with two minutes to spare until the bar closed down for the night, and surprisingly, they shared laughs.

The band wasn’t too shabby, either, Chanyeol decided. Their tune went from dreamy and slow, the kind of song you would expect a Tumblr mood board to play if it played music, to upbeat and fast, kind of like in an 80s teen movie. At one point, while Chanyeol filmed shots of Baekhyun, the spotlights shone over where they stood, squashed amongst other sweaty bodies, illuminating Baekhyun in a fashion that make him look a lot like an angel. Sweat was dripping down his forehead, his face blushed from alcohol and at the same time washed out from the harsh lights. All pale skin and pink smiling lips, eyes glittering, and a crown of untamable hair. He’d never wanted to kiss someone so much in his entire life, never wanted someone back the way he just wanted to hold Baekhyun’s hand, pretend their breakup never happened, to stop his heart from aching. The most beautiful man in the room, and Chanyeol hoped he’d gotten that blip in time on film. It needed to be captured, for it was the moment he fell in love with Baekhyun all over again.

Just as quickly as it all began, it was over. The song ended, the band thanking everyone for coming before guards started ushering everyone out the doors.

“That was actually a lot of fun,” Chanyeol smiled as the two walked back to the parking lot. The cool air was a welcome chill against his hot, sweaty body.

“Yeah, yeah, it was.” Baekhyun said. Someone behind them yelled drunkenly, causing them both to jump. “Jesus.” He muttered. “But yeah, this…hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be.”

For the first time that night, Chanyeol’s stomach made its way out of his ass. “R-really?” He asked, shell shocked.

“Yeah, I…” Baekhyun started, unlocking his car before climbing inside. “I actually…” Chanyeol climbed in beside him, closing the door. “Shit, fuck,” He muttered, turning his keys into the ignition. His engine simply whined pitifully before turning over. “You have got to be fucking kidding me right now.” Baekhyun shoved his door back open, reaching to the floor to pop his hood before clambering back outside. Chanyeol watched as he looked hopelessly into the guts of his car, smoke billowing out from god knows where. “What the fuck is wrong with you!” He shouted from behind his windshield. Hoping he could be of assistance, Chanyeol climbed out of the car himself.

“I know next to nothing about cars but,” Chanyeol said, rubbing his neck. “Do you have jumper cables?”

“Jumper cables are not going to fix this, Chanyeol!” Baekhyun griped, leaning his head against the lip of his hood. “I don’t know what’s wrong with it! It was working just fine!” He sighed as he ran his hands through his hair. “What the hell?...”

“Do you have AAA?” Chanyeol tried.

 Baekhyun’s eyes lit up. “I do,” Instantly, he whipped his phone out of his pocket, flipping through his contacts list. As Baekhyun tried to get through the line, Chanyeol did his part-adding a snap to his snap story explaining their dilemma and looking for a place to eat. After several minutes of conversation on Baekhyun’s end, followed by a post-hang-up scream into the darkness, Baekhyun announced. “They’ll be here at 5am.”

“5am?”  Chanyeol asked incredulously.

“Yup,” Baekhyun sighed as he clapped his hands together. “I guess we won’t be getting down to LA…”

“I mean, that’s fine I guess,” Chanyeol shrugged with a soft smile. “Worse comes to worst, I can go with my backup plan and tell my professor the file was lost.” He laughed, slipping out his phone to open his maps app. “There’s a Denny’s like, two miles down the road if you wanna go?”

“Y-yeah, sure…” Baekhyun agreed. Chanyeol missed how shell-shocked his words left him.

Hour seven, somewhere off the highway

The walk to Denny’s began silently, the only sounds the distant waving of overgrown grass beyond the guardrails and the occasional whoosh of a passing car, the occasional narration of Siri telling them to turn right in 1.2 miles. Chanyeol kept side eyeing Baekhyun, trying the decipher the look on his face through the blackness. Everything seemed to be going okay, that maybe they could move past the break-up and continue forth with no bad blood, and maybe with a thread of hope get back together. Where had he gone wrong? Just when he thought his heart was right back where it was supposed to be, it fell deep into his abdomen once more.

In 0.5 miles, turn right.

“Yeol…” Baekhyun said, his voice stiff, yet still gentle.

Yeol. Chanyeol almost gave himself whiplash with how fast he snapped his neck to face him. “Yes?”

“I just...I dunno…” Baekhyun struggled to articulate everything that was going on inside his mind. “I wasn’t- I wasn’t your backup plan?”

Chanyeol furrowed his brows. “What do you mean?”

“Back at the car you said that your backup plan was to tell your professor that you lost your file.” Baekhyun explained, crossing his arms against his chest.

“Yeah,” Chanyeol said. “That was always my backup plan. I didn’t want to just give up on the project, y’know?”

“So I wasn’t your last chance?”

“Huh?”

“Never mind, it’s stupid.” Baekhyun said quickly. The gears in Chanyeol’s head began to turn.

“You weren’t my last chance, no.” Chanyeol said. “I have a 98 in the class, so it’s not like it would really hurt my grade to the point that I can’t graduate, but I just wanted to do it.” He explained, stopping to face Baekhyun. “I give up too easily.”

A thick blanket of silence draped itself over them heavier than it had at any point that night.

“You do,” Baekhyun whispered, his eyes piercing. “You do give up way, way too easily.” Chanyeol swallowed, he knew what was coming. “You gave up on everything that we had, and for what? Why? You never told me, you just left me cold and broken. Did you even know what you did to me?”

“I loved you¸ everything about you. I saw a future with you, a life with you. You were the best thing that ever happened to me, and when you said you didn’t want that, didn’t see us anymore, do you know what that did to me? Did you ever consider that, or did you just think about yourself, Chanyeol?” At this point, Baekhyun was yelling, pain clear across his face.

Chanyeol’s chest was hollow, his breath catching in his throat. “I-I thought you were too good for me. I thought I was just going to bring you down. I wanted to give you the chance to realize that and go live the perfect life you were meant to have.”

“But that perfect life I wanted was with you!” Baekhyun yelled. “You shattered that on that night! My future left when you did.”

Chanyeol had no idea what to say, so he kept listening. “Everything stopped for me. I thought it was me you didn’t want anymore, I thought there may have been someone else. I thought maybe you had gotten tired of me, that things just weren’t as loving and exciting as they used to be…”

“It was never you,” Chanyeol interjected. “It was me.” He asserted, heart pounding and tears threatening to spill. “I just kept seeing all the great things you were doing, and I felt like in comparison, what was I for you?”

“I’m a painfully average computer science student, my mantras the last four years have been ‘due today, do today’ and ‘Cs get degrees.’ I party way too much, every time I was hungover, you’d have to make sure I didn’t, I dunno, die? I’m forgetful-shit I forgot our anniversary once- I’m too selfish sometimes, fuck, like, I can’t even remember if I put on deodorant today, and I give up too much…I’m a mess and I just look at you, and I…” He sighed, hands thumping against his jeans in defeat. “I’m like, how is this the man that loves me?” Baekhyun blinked at the words, eyes falling the dirt somewhere below them. “You work so hard, always hound me to do better and I never did, and that kills me that I did that because I know it’s because you care, and I was so stupid.” At this point, the tears couldn’t be held any further, running down Chanyeol’s cheeks. “Seeing you be you always made me feel so proud, and I couldn’t help but think, what do you have to show off? ‘Hey everyone, this is my mess of a boyfriend? He’s dusty and crusty and probably smells of sweat, weed, and Takis?’” Chanyeol scoffed, taking a moment to wipe a stray tear from his chin with his sleeve. “Basically, I just… everything you were to me, I felt like I could never be for you.” His voice barely but a whisper.

Baekhyun just shook his head, chuckling under his breath. “You clearly don’t realize just how much you actually meant to me,” He breathed. “When I woke up next to you every morning, I knew that was what I wanted for the rest of my life.” Chanyeol’s breath caught in his throat. “I never cared that you were the person waiting until the last minute, I didn’t care when you forgot our anniversary, because I still knew you loved me and I knew you meant it when you made it up to me the next day. It never mattered to me that you weren’t as ‘smart’ as me or whatever, because you have the biggest heart I’ve ever seen in a person. It doesn’t matter that you’re never going to get your doctorate and your mom had to basically pull teeth to you into college, because you’re goofy and caring and keep me on my toes. You remind me that it’s okay not to be high strung and the world isn’t going to end if I did my laundry on Saturday and not Friday. You made me feel like the person I didn’t know I could be, you brought out a whole side of me I didn’t know was there-a good one.”

“That’s why it hit me so hard and hurt me so bad. Where did my giant greaseball go? Where is that heart that I loved so much? The constant inconsistency you brought into my life was gone, and I tried to chase it down and have it back. But it wasn’t the same because it wasn’t you.” And now Baekhyun was crying, and Chanyeol was sure that if he could see more clearly, he would see him shaking, too. “That’s why I was so bitter, that’s why- I just thought you didn’t care about me anymore.”

“I’m sorry, I…” Chanyeol tried, hiccuping. “Leaving you was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. I wish I could just-just take it all back.”

“I wish you could, too.”

Hour eight, denny’s

At a booth in the back, the only noise was the quiet clinking of Baekhyun mixing creamer into his third mug of coffee and the sound of Destiny Child’s “Lose My Breath” playing somewhere off in the kitchen. Somehow, the pair of them had made it to the Denny’s about fifteen minutes before 3am. They didn’t quite realize how they looked-eyes glossy, faces red and puffy, dressed all in black- until their waitress gave them an odd, sad look and came back with a free strawberry crepe, saying she was sorry for their loss. 3am was a weird time for a funeral, unless it was a funeral for a relationship, and she knew that’s what it was.

“Where do we go from here?” Baekhyun murmured, spoon clanking against his mug.

Chanyeol looked up from his half-eaten stack of pancakes, surprised. “Why are you asking me this?” He replied, confused. “Shouldn’t I be the one to ask you that?”

“You’re not wrong,” Baekhyun said, pausing to sip his coffee. “But the question still stands.”

Chanyeol tossed the idea around in his mind. He knew the way he wanted to answer- to apologize, decide how they were to make amends, work on their relationship. Love each other again. He knew that notion was there, that they could try again. In his mind, at least. Formulating words was suddenly a lost ability for Chanyeol. All he could do was look into Baekhyun’s eyes, pleading.

They stayed that way for what felt like several minutes, just looking, reading each other’s emotions, reading each other’s souls. Would Baekhyun be okay with this, was it okay to step this far? Was he asking too much, being too selfish as usual?

Just before Chanyeol’s heart could crumble, as he looked almost desperately into Baekhyun’s eyes, Baekhyun sighed, breaking eye contact. “I can’t deny that when we were together tonight, before all this, there was something there.” Baekhyun rested his cheek against his palm, running his index finger against the rim of his mug. “It’s like when it’s you and I, there’s no one else in the world. It’s like I don’t have to worry.” He said. “Without even trying, you broke me down; I couldn’t be mad at you again. I could tell you were wanting to do the right thing.”

“What are you saying?” Chanyeol asked.

“It was like we were together again, tonight,” Baekhyun said. “Like I loved you again.”

Chanyeol couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Under the table, he pinched his thigh to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. And it hurt, so he wasn’t. “Do you…?”

“Love you again?” Baekhyun looked up, finally, quirking his brow.

“Yeah,” Chanyeol whispered. “Because if I’m totally honest with you, I know I never stopped loving you.”

Baekhyun bit his lip, nodding his head. He was quiet for a moment before saying, “It’s scary for me,” he said. “To say that I never stopped loving you either.” Chanyeol perked his head up in disbelief. “Because it makes me feel vulnerable, that you could break my heart all over again if I gave you the chance.”

Chanyeol reached across the table, taking Baekhyun’s free hand into his own. Surprisingly, he didn’t try to pull away. “I promise you I’m not gonna do that again. Like I said, leaving you was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.” He said. “If anything, I’m going to prove to you that I still love you and won’t go anywhere again. I want to make it all up to you, if you let me.” Chanyeol shook Baekhyun’s hand, as if to accentuate his point.

Baekhyun’s eyes searched across the tabletop. “If you promise not to be such a giant asshole again.”

“I’m 6’2”, I can’t help but be a giant,” Chanyeol smirked. “But I can totally be a non-asshole.”

“Shut up,” Baekhyun said with a small smile.

The morning after

Chanyeol blinked, sunlight streaming in aggressively through the window. Lifting his head blearily, noting there were no boxes stacked aimlessly around room. There was a black Ikea dresser, matching nightstand, and with the grey striped duvet he was clutching, Chanyeol quickly realized the room was not his. Sitting up, running his hands over his face, he saw a pair of feet come into view from the foot of the bed. Leaning further, he saw Baekhyun, curled up under a blanket, clicking around on his laptop with his headphones in. He looked thoroughly exhausted.

“Did you ever go to sleep?” Chanyeol slurred.

“I did for a little bit around 11:30.” Baekhyun responded. “You got up to pee.”

Through his post-sleep haze, Chanyeol vaguely remembers a AAA roadside assistance van coming to fix Baekhyun’s car around 5:30, driving back to Baekhyun’s off-campus apartment and falling asleep near 8am. He couldn’t remember if Baekhyun had followed him. Slowly, Chanyeol began to remember bits and pieces of their night, their conversations on their way to and at Denny’s, but it all hadn’t been delivered back to his brain yet.

“Why did you do that?” He asked. “Wait, what time even is it?”

“Three o’clock.”

“SHIT!” Chanyeol yelled, leaping out from Baekhyun’s bed. “The video! It was due at 2:30!”

“Don’t get your panties in a bunch,” Baekhyun said, standing up. “I have it right here.” He placed the laptop onto the bed, open to some fancy editing software with the clips he and Chanyeol had taken the night before. “I feel like I’ve been sitting in a vat of grease, I’m gonna go take a shower.”

“Did you…did you edit this whole thing while I slept?” Chanyeol asked incredulously.

“Well I did take on the role of director, didn’t I?” Baekhyun called, opening the door to his bathroom. Chanyeol tried to argue back, but was met with, “Just watch it!”

Chanyeol hit play and was greeted with the upbeat sound of guitars, mixed in with clips of he and Baekhyun changing into their black outfits, mirror shots, clips of Baekhyun fluffing his hair into the lens of his phone camera, all overlaid with the title Dusk, Dawn, and Chocolate.

Hey now call it a split 'cause you know that you will
Oh you bite your friend like chocolate
You say, we'll go where nobody knows
With guns hidden under our petticoats
No we're never gonna quit it, no we're never gonna quit it, no

 

Now we run run away from the boys in the blue
And my car smells like chocolate
Hey now think about what you do, think about what they say
Think about how to think
Pause it play it, pause it play it, pause it

 

Chanyeol watched as the video progressed into clips of the two in the car, the sunset on campus, shots of clocks bearing the time, shoes against asphalt and trees speeding by through the window. He hadn’t realized how much footage Baekhyun had taken.

 

Oh we go where nobody knows, with guns hidden under our petticoats
No we're never gonna' quit it, no we're never gonna' quit it no
Yeah we're dressed in black from head to toe
We've got guns hidden under our petticoats
No we're never gonna' quit it no we're never gonna' quit it no

Now you're never gonna quit it
Now you're never gonna quit it
Now you're never gonna quit it
If you don't stop smoking it
That's what she said

 

The clips progressed to shots at Kris & Co.’s apartment, Baekhyun’s hand raking back a beaded curtain, even a shot of their chain necklaces, and a few clips of a clearly high Chanyeol blowing smoke from his lips, giggling in his high state of mind. Shots of their eyes (which Chanyeol didn’t remember taking at all), followed by their feet exiting the apartment.


She said we're dressed in black, head to toe
With guns hidden under our petticoats
No we're never gonna quit it, no we're never gonna quit it, no

Hey now we're building up speed as we're approaching the hill
Oh my hair smells like chocolate
Hey now you say you're gonna quit it but you're never gonna quit it
Go get it, go get it, go get it, go
And play it cool

The next scenes included their beach shots, Chanyeol stumbling intoxicated from both the weed he’d just smoked and from Baekhyun, looking vogue as ever. He couldn’t help but smile when he realized his shots of Baekhyun had wound up crooked, as he was clearly too busy staring.

 

Oh and you said we go where nobody knows
With guns hidden under our petticoats
No we're never gonna' quit it, no we're never gonna' quit it no
Yeah we're dressed in black, from head to toe
We've got guns hidden under our petticoats
We're never gonna' quit it, no we're never gonna' quit it no

 

As the video continued, there were shots of the two eating In-n-Out, jamming to the radio before the atmosphere in the car changed, and there was Chanyeol, stiffly staring out the window with worry and Baekhyun driving, eyes on the road.

 

Well I think we better go, seriously better go
Said it's better than hanging on
Seriously better go, oh oh
Well I think we better go
Said it's better than hanging on
Said Rebecca better know
Seriously better go…

 

Next came their impromptu visit to the Velvet Jones, jumping through the crowd and sipping drinks. Baekhyun looking like an angel and Chanyeol a sweaty mess, hair pressed against his forehead.

 

Surprised, Chanyeol kept his eyes trained to the screen as he listened to the song fade, their voices picking up as the screen turned to black. He couldn’t see anything, the occasional car passing lighting the scene for split seconds a time, trees bursting into view. It was them on the highway.

“You clearly don’t realize just how much you actually meant to me. When I woke up next to you every morning, I knew that was what I wanted for the rest of my life.”

“Leaving you was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. I wish I could just-just take it all back.”

Slowly, the song’s instrumentals came back to play, followed by a shot of the sunrise from that morning, incoming as their car drove further down the road. Slowly, the screen faded to black and the video was over. Six minutes and forty-five seconds. Just barely over the minimum time.

“Did you like it?” Chanyeol looked up to find Baekhyun standing by the bathroom door in a new pair of sweats, mussing his hair dry with a towel.

“Of course I did,” Chanyeol enthused. “It’s really great. Even though it’s late, I’m sure my professor will like it.” He said. “I really can’t thank you enough, Baek.”

“You’re an ass who waits until the last minute but,” Baekhyun said, walking closer to where Chanyeol sat on his bed. “But if you hadn’t, I don’t think things would’ve gone the way they did last night.”

“Wait, that wasn’t all a dream?” Chanyeol asked.

“Did you even watch the video I spent all morning editing?” Baekhyun teased.

“So wait,” Chanyeol started, shaking his head to try to get his brain to properly function. “We really are doing that? Getting back together?”

Baekhyun sighed, pausing a moment. “It’s going to take me a while to work through everything that happened, for my heart to fully trust you again, but...I think I do.” He said, looking Chanyeol in the eye. “I want to give us another try.”

Chanyeol grinned, bigger, brighter, and wider than he ever has. “I promise, Baek. I promise to do better this time.” He beamed.

“You better or I’m gonna chop off your dick and hang it from a statue in town square like the Viking ladies used to do,” Baekhyun joked.

“Sure, Jan,” Chanyeol rolled his eyes.

Cheeks sore from smiling too wide, Chanyeol wrapped his arms around Baekhyun’s waist, pulling him in for a kiss. The moment their lips touched, it was as if the moon, sun, planets, and all the stars came back into alignment. Just the way it was always supposed to be.

-

The love story doesn’t make up for the fact that your assignment was late. Ten points deducted for late work. An additional twenty points deducted for the marijuana. An additional twenty points deducted for your partner being absent for the project. 50/100. Your final grade is an 82.

-Dr. Kim

He was graduating, and with Baekhyun’s prodding, accepted his offer with the local start-up. But most importantly, Baekhyun was generous enough to stay in his life and work on getting their relationship back to where it was.

Chanyeol really could not have given less of a fuck about anything else.