Actions

Work Header

the definition of everything

Work Text:

The unsuspecting duo had waltzed right into the life of Park Chanyeol when he deliberately ditched his homework to drag himself to the gaming café near his house. It wasn’t too small, nor too large, and it was quite cheap to play at every hour. Snacks were the main attraction, and they made everyone shamelessly come crawling back for more. That was, up until your mom grabbed you by the ears and scolded you ‘till you cried.


It was the sad truth for many, and especially for those who were already old enough to be married with kids— quite disappointing, their parents would often tell others during their neighborhood gossip parties.


The supposedly nearby café actually took little Chanyeol a good forty-five minute walk, making it seem farther away than it should’ve been. He'd always been a giant that towered over many, but even his long legs couldn't take off a few extra minutes. Hence why he begged and begged for a bike on his fifteenth birthday, just after discovering the benefits of playing video games in a room filled with strangers.


Needless to say, it easily became his favorite place to venture at in his free time.


And yet— to be completely honest, he didn’t do this often; going to procrastinate whilst having a desk full of homework at home. He was quite honestly nothing like the fools who just stopped caring in his class— he was still the student loved by the teachers and hated by tryhards, constantly being shown off by his parents like a trophy. He frequently ranked within the first two places of the top ten in the majority of his classes, although he ended up being fully incapable of looking at the list they posted after every exam without flinching, and scurrying away.


Park Chanyeol didn't have to shine to be the star, and he didn’t have to ask for the treatment he absolutely hated, either.


(Which was why if you were to ask him what his major was now, you’d expect him to say something like computer science, or even engineering. He’d then laugh at your assumption, and tell you that he’s majoring in baking and pastry arts.


And you wouldn’t believe it.)


Anyways, despite young Chanyeol and his promising work ethic, he was in desperate need of giving himself a break. Staring at papers all day made him feel like he was making poor attempts at trying to read and decipher gibberish, to which there was only a matter of time before he went downright insane. Thus, he called out to his mom with a shout and a half-hearted wave, who then shook her head and reminded him to be back before his father was home.


The minute he arrived, Chanyeol hurriedly dug out his monthly allowance and shoved it to the middle-aged man behind the counter. As he waited for a nod of approval, his eyes scanned the room skillfully, and it didn’t take him very long to make a silent agreement with a lonely, empty desk in the corner. He rocked back from the balls of his feet to his heels, unable to contain his emotions, as per usual. It was then that he nearly screeched in pure relief when the man finally bobbed his head with a low grunt, eyes never once straying from the money.


The place was heavily packed with people of all ages, and he recognized some from his grade. Squeezing down the uncomfortably tight isles, he made a beeline for the seat he saw just a moment ago. Despite it being in the back, he didn’t seem to really mind. The only thing that mattered was that he actually had a seat. Finding one was rare these days, especially since exams finished the week prior— people were unbelievable when it came to finding excuses to leave their houses.


Slipping into it gratefully, Chanyeol made himself comfortable and reached for the computer mouse with a sloppy grin.


When he logged into his favorite game, the moving dotted circle had him waiting until he was officially online. It left him terribly anxious, and he couldn’t help but bounce his leg in his seat. He had been anticipating this for quite too long now, to the point where it should have been addressed as “about time.”


Which was also why he didn’t expect the intruder behind him.


“Why hello there,” a rather soft voice said just behind his ear. Chanyeol jerked forward in his seat as his stomach dug harshly into the table, swearing at how that alone was nearly a close trigger for him to wet his pants. He whipped his head around with thoughts of murder running through his mind, but his anger soon dissipated as he made eye contact with perhaps the most precious-looking human being he’d ever seen.


The boy’s skin seemed to glow, despite the fact that he was yet another victim of puberty. His eyes were a lovely combination of round and friendly, with cheeks that were naturally rosy and quite plump, while his lips were glossy, but rather full.


By the looks of it, he was definitely younger than him.


All Chanyeol could think about was how much of an angel the other was, and he blushed when the other let out a cute giggle. He must’ve said something out loud, and the realization dawning on him made his eyes widen.


“Sorry to bother you,” the stranger hummed, flashing him a grin that made his heart skip a beat, gesturing to the thing he was sat on. “You kind of stole my chair, though.”


The sophomore gasped loudly as he scrambled to get up, only then seeing the bag he had missed that was lying beside it. He’d always been clumsy, so instead of getting to his feet in a graceful manner, his rather lanky legs hit the table with a painful smack, just like his stomach had previously. He dug his teeth into his lip with a wince, he never wanted to die more right then and there until that very moment.


“God, I’m so sorry—”


The angel laughed again, waving him off as if it were nothing. Chanyeol inwardly cursed himself for being like this, feeling deeply sorry for the other. “Oh, please, don’t apologize! I was just about to leave anyways.”


The other opened his mouth to respond, only to shut it when someone appeared behind the nice guy. His world seemed to stop, and when he met eyes with a droopy-eyed-puppy-boy, Chanyeol shivered as a foreign feeling seeped into his bones. It sunk in deliciously as his toes curled and his breath hitched. It was as if he were breathing different air, and he could’ve sworn he saw a glimpse of something before it disappeared right before his eyes. Looking directly at the short boy made him feel as though he were hanging off of the edge of a cliff, lost at sea, or helplessly stuck in a ditch. It was an intriguing sensation that left him oddly craving for the unknown. Confused and trying to stay focused, it was then sucked out of his body, leaving him emptier than he’d ever known was possible.


“I'm Byun Jungwoo,” the first one he met declared, holding out a confident hand for him to shake. “I’m a freshman.”


Frozen, almost, the older forcibly tore his gaze away from the newcomer and instead invested his everything in Jungwoo. Mirroring the grin with an effortless manner, he shook it politely, despite being torn between the shock of such admirable manners, and his companion. “I’m Park Chanyeol, a sophomore.”


“This is Baekhyun,” Jungwoo introduced cheerfully for the shortest, smile never once faltering. Chanyeol had decided from that moment on that the guy seemed like someone who was truly down to earth, seeing the evident happiness radiating off of him. The look of affection he instantly shot towards Baekhyun also indicated that he was someone whom he cared deeply about. Chanyeol merely glanced at him, caught his small wave, and nodded before turning his attention back to the angel.


Or at least, tried to. “He’s a freshman too, and my cousin.”


There was something about the said cousin that was as if he were... someone Chanyeol had known for a long time. Years, months, perhaps even… forever. He craved the feeling that shook him up only moments ago, but it was long gone. From the way Baekhyun timidly shuffled his feet, it wouldn’t take a genius to have been able to sense his discomfort. Chanyeol wondered if his staring was too overbearing and immediately looked away. It was apparent when he fiddled with the backpack on his shoulders and sniffled his cute nose, a clear sign he’d rather be elsewhere; his restless fidgeting made him seem even smaller than he looked before. “We should go, Woo.”


A voice so sweet and deeper than he imagined— Chanyeol fell short of breath for a split second, but was already yearning for more.


It was simple. Unfair, almost.


Baekhyun stole one last glance at him before ducking his head, tugging the boy out with him, and barely waving again before they disappeared out of the front door. Chanyeol was left with a loss of words, rushing to get ahead of himself as he bolted out to talk to them more, oblivious to the girl who gladly took his seat and of the money he had just wasted.





⋆⋆⋆



Irresolutely looking into the mirror across from him, the petit male takes his sweet time to reach up and brush the fresh mark resting on the left side of his neck. He does it with a delicate touch full of care— there’s a slight sting that annoyingly surrounds it, and that alone elicits a sharp hiss from him. However, such a thing doesn’t stop him from moving, although somewhere deep down, he aches to do so. He can’t help it, he’s fascinated.


Baekhyun truly had always been stubborn, but that's besides the point.


Like a fresh cut being exposed to water for the first time, whatever his fingers touch leave behind burning sensations. It’s also still fresh for a mark, and it’s something he’s bound to get used to. While it causes pain for him and many others now, it will heal faster than any known wound. It’ll be there, stuck until the day he dies, and will follow him up to the afterlife, tying him to his supposed beloved-before-love.


The perfect knot or sealed tie, it keeps him from escaping from the timely hands of fate.


The soulmark that has been gifted to him is shaped like a beautiful crimson phoenix with specks of amber, one that you can look at without feeling trauma from a past event, or stress; it’s at the most... enthralling. Comforting like cuddling by the warm fire with those whom you love dearly. In this case, it would be someone.


Where Baekhyun should be beaming and crying out in joy from being blessed with such a thing, the male frowns deeply and wonders what his family would say if they saw him like this. Ungrateful, most likely. Especially since his aunt woke up without a soulmark on her twenty-first birthday, a silent, yet horrid promise to wake up to.


Despite death alone rarely occurring, it still happens and unfortunate people are given the confirmation that they will die alone.


The male bites his lip as he cranes his neck to examine it more.


Beside the wondrous thing is where the unreadable ancient writing lies, and supposedly the words take the name of his soulmate— his other-half, his twin flame, the person who will be expected to love him for eternity, as well as also being the person he has to love, too. The thought makes him grimace as he traces the edges silently, and in a way that is comforting for himself. His mother used to tell him that the action helps relieve any sharp pain.


It does help, but the rational crying inside of Baekhyun craves an actual being.


You will be ready for your soulmate. It was honestly more like a command that his mother would say, something that she was determined will happen— it became her favorite thing to remind and nag him for until he proceeded his success in college in Seoul, leaving the family behind as he gladly took a step closer to adulthood.


Now that he has reached the ripe age of twenty-one, the time for him to be ultimately united with someone has arrived. In this world, you receive a fresh mark the night before your birthday when you are asleep. You don’t have to ask for it, for it arrives uninvited. That is why relatives tease and tell you to get some shut-eye as quickly as possible, because your special self-ceremony occurs during the time they call the beginning.


It’s quite hilarious to be told to make sure to sleep that night, because whether you like it or not, your body takes it upon itself to simply knock you out once it reaches midnight. And then there, you have the stupid tattoo-like thing that takes the shape of the family name of your soulmate, along with a lovely set of unreadable ancient writing, and you won’t know who has yours until… well, you just know when the universe deems that the time is right.


Some people take years, and others, maybe a mere day or two.


Baekhyun's mother awoke like him and everyone else on her twenty-first birthday with a mark of a star, the Byun soulmark, although she didn’t meet his father until she ran to bring his forgotten credit card to him— exactly six hundred and fourteen days later. She’d always tell Baekhyun, Baekbeom, and their cousin, Jungwoo, (When he’d visit), vast stories of how this happened, throwing in random details to paint a story of vivid color and feelings of finally seeing the true world. She did her best to make them feel exhilarated for the moment they finally turn of age.


However, her stories and other information only got so far before her youngest son grew bored, full of wonder of what might’ve been. He often wondered what it would be like to marry someone who is not theoretically his. When he voiced his thoughts to his birthgiver, she merely gasped and wondered where he had gotten such forbidden curiosity. Little did she know that Jungwoo’s best friend more often than not said things that made his guts tighten and heart drop, completely changing his mindset.


(And heart.)


Park Chanyeol, the stick-like bastard, was thoroughly convinced that his soulmate would be Byun Jungwoo, the son of Baekhyun’s other aunt. Not Byun Baekhyun, no— not at all, and it didn’t seem to matter that the latter had been crushing on him for many years prior. Chanyeol paid no heed to the possibility of his prediction being completely wrong.


In which the poor latter had always been certain he was completely mistaken.


With a heart so broken and unknowingly stomped all over, Baekhyun forced himself to let go of the little spark he had for the giant, whispering bittersweet nothings every night that his soulmate would treat him better. In fact, there was no law claiming that he had to be the other’s friend in the first place, nor did he have to speak to him as often. It only got worse when everytime he looked at the stupid guy, his insides twisted as he sighed. He was stuck and tangled up in his emotions, and so when he’d open his mouth, all that came out was the hurt he felt.


November twenty-seven— Park Chanyeol received a mark of his soulmate, but Baekhyun was forced to hang from the cliff until Jungwoo turned twenty-one. And that?


It wouldn’t happen until another two years.





____



He shivers at the memory, because the irony will always bring his downfall. It is now his turn, and all he can bring himself to do is endure it.


Making a near-desperate attempt to ease the pain, Baekhyun winces.


“Happy birthday to me,” he whispers with the traces of a hiss clinging to his words, eyes narrowing as he discontinues his ministrations of easing his pain. Curling his hand into a tight, punishing fist, he wants to lash at his own neck, and perhaps remove his own soulmark forever. Yes, that sounds like a splendid idea. The soulmark of his destined love is nothing but a Park mark. He pinches his arm to make sure he isn’t dreaming, but his efforts are completely useless since the burning from before merely confirmed it.


He suspects he knows who has his own mark, and the hatred bubbling up inside of him is rather indescribable. Nothing could ever compare to it.


Experts claim that the pain of a fresh soulmark lasts for only a couple of days, each body promising different things; what is expected to happen is it progressively lessens until his body barely notices it anymore— brief touches from his darling beloved act as short boosts. Although, it never quite leaves exactly. And since he is perhaps the most stubborn Taurus to be known, well, he’s stuck with the burning until his said darling beloved connects with him in the most intimate way possible.


It’s how soulmates accept each other and fuse, done with utmost beauty and precision.


Ah, the bond of love.


Years ago during the sex-ed curriculum while his teacher had told them to refer it to that, Baekhyun simply shrugged and read it out to the class as Dreamlike sex with your soulmate that helps satisfy your inner desires and craving. When he was given nothing but narrowed eyes and a detention slip, he simply chortled and said, That’s what I read from the textbook, put it in detention instead.


Needless to say, Baekhyun is proud to say he is much more mature now, although he doesn’t quite regret that one moment from his middle school days.


But still.


Why couldn’t it have been a Jung mark? Or even a goddamn Kim mark— sure, he’ll marry Kim Minseok, Kim Jongdae, Kim Jongin— anyone but a lousy Park.


Sighing in disappointment with the Universe, he shuts his eyes as tight as he possibly can. Baekhyun leans against the nearest wall, drowning himself in the image of the bare neck he had last night before falling asleep, and tries to recall the feeling of nothing there. When he opens them and peers into the mirror again, sure enough, the soulmark is gone, as expected and wished, hidden from the naked-eye.


The choice to hide the imprint on your skin used to be quite frowned upon back then, although it is a method used by a majority nowadays. The remaining majority? They’ve been connected with their soulmates already, and choose to flaunt their fused marks, a signal to others to back off. It is awfully similar to a wedding ring, although some do take the necessary steps to get married afterwards.


It’s the unsaid ancient law that you are forbidden to ask about the mark. If the person tells you themselves, then it is a privilege that you must accept with utmost support and respect.


A rather loud knock rapping against his bedroom door snaps him out of his trance. “Are you alive?” a muffled voice calls out, making him turn around sharply as if caught doing something he should not be doing. At least it isn’t him jacking off to porn—


“Get ‘yo ass up, buttercup!”


The old nickname would usually make him shout some sort of insult back with a chuckle, but all he can focus on is stealing one last glance at his reflection. Baekhyun glares at it like it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to him, because it is, before promptly making his way over to the door and swinging it open in a diligent manner.


Mother, are you proud of me yet?


There, in his lovely glory, stands his roommate who just so happens to be his close cousin. And no remains of his soulmark are there, which also meant that no questions are to be asked.


When the pair were young, they always dreamt about going to a great college, one with a beautiful campus that is deeply admired by people of all ages. Here they are now, and they both go to one of the most well-known universities in the world. The Byun relatives— both good looking, sweet little things, and being smart as fuck, you’d literally kill to know them. It being so bad that perhaps, you’d even break someone’s neck to bed them— still, no, barely anyone grasps that opportunity.


It’s just really too bad that they’re both as straight as a circle.


Jungwoo is barely two inches taller than Baekhyun, long legs being longer than their future, (Baekbeom’s words), and sports a full head of orange with speckles of blond. It looks absolutely stunning on him though, and as much as everyone wants to spatter and deny it wholeheartedly, they are incapable of doing such a thing. While he continues to charm various passersby, the latter has natural brown hair that shines in the sun, bringing out his hidden highlights like pools of sweet honey. He is truly beautiful, but with the biggest frown, stands ungratefully at a solid fun of five feet and nine inches.


Out of all seriousness, he isn’t short at all, but it’s just his luck that his life revolves around those who are blessed in height. It’s no secret that the oldest of the Byun cousins often finds himself weak in the knees for those who tower over him.


As for their ages, said oldest is so by a year, making the ginger, twenty. Since twenty-one is when you receive a soulmate, their friends call Jungwoo’s age the true time to bring out the gay inbedded in you before living hell. You may ask what it means, but it remains an inside joke for the time Minseok, the oldest among their friends, first turned that age.


And that is where you snap your fingers and conclude that perhaps their hair is the only straight thing about them.


Baekhyun always claims he doesn’t give a flying anything when being paired with the title of short, because he really isn’t, and wants to see it as a compliment. The mood that switches on when it does happen, although begs to differ— he is the kind of person who will not hesitate to eat your food during lunch with eyes full of utmost fury, even if he had eaten every scrap of his own— for a whole week. In short, don’t mess with him. Every single man in his classes may be the same six foot something, but he knows how to get what he wants, without literally anything in his way.


Grinning cheekily, Jungwoo punches his fist into the air, waving it around as he dances along to nonexistent music. The more he talks, the louder he gets, and the more he jumps. To see someone hype themselves up so naturally is quite amusing, and others would aspire to be that type of person. “Are YOU READY TO—”


“Yes! Oh my god,” Baekhyun laughs and cuts him off before the neighbors think they’re fighting, careful to be considerate as his eyes crinkle up into admirable small crescents. His ex-boyfriend loved that about his smile, and to be honest, he kind of loves that about his own features too. “I’m ready to do whatever you’ve planned for me today.”


Soon after saying that, he purses his lips and squints his eyes, seemingly catching his mistake. “I mean, just as long as it’s not eating some random shit, we’re good.”


“That was just one time,” Jungwoo whines, tossing an arm around his shoulders as he tries to get him to dance as well. Unintentionally, he puts all of his weight into his arm, a habit that will never die no matter how much the shorter begs for an end. “I promised I would never try to make you do it again, and I’m glad none of us stepped up to um… but anyways, today’s going to be amazing, Baek. Trust me on that.”


One of these days, either Baekhyun will die from his arm, literal shit ideas, or from the man himself.


“I don’t know if I should trust you with this stuff, but I’m definitely hoping for the best. And— not a good birthday, that was.”


“Yeah, no.”


He's seriously doing an excellent job at accidentally crushing the poor male, but said poor male doesn’t seem to mind. Baekhyun's mind is elsewhere, doing his best at somehow investing his everything in his body’s birthday present to himself, but also disregarding it too. There’s that little tickle where his soulmark is, but he ignores it like a professional. The urge to scratch it grows by the minute, like the feeling when your arm falls asleep; it makes him wonder how long it’ll take before it gets revealed.


How long will he really go without being questioned about it?


It also makes him surprised as to why Jungwoo never mentioned such a thing, especially since he’s pretty much curious about everything, and never knows how to stay in his own business. Three cheers for twenty-one— he’s now on his own journey to find the motherfucker who decided to take the other half of his soul, basically.


“Now, is what you’ve got planned more amazing than the best thing on Earth?”


“Yes, of course. In fact, it’ll be so good to the point where you’ll never fantasize about dicks any longer.”


Giggling at the comment, he places his hands on his hips. “Woah, okay. Surprise me.”


Only then does he fully notice that Jungwoo’s wiggling a black blindfold in his free hand, and he honestly looks more excited than the real birthday boy. The certain aura that surrounds him does nothing but make him look similar to a child, and that is merely the best part about it. Baekhyun thinks about how lucky Jungwoo’s soulmate will be in the future, and his heart pangs at the silent reminder.


“The time to live is here!” is all he gets as a warning before being engulfed in pure darkness.





____



That's how they end up in a large bookstore, Baekhyun being completely blind except for the light peeking through, and his only sense of direction is Jungwoo guiding him in. This home of books is one that is solely known for its wide variety of cheap textbooks to lure in fellow college students— but it’s very loved for a reason, obviously. The white building stands proudly at an impressive three stories tall, and from the outside, you can see why many people would want to go in. There are large, glass windows clean of any stains, and decorations littered all around that’re so very aesthetically pleasing to the eye.


Practically everyone itches to jump right in, and even if they don’t find reading enjoyable. It’s that kind of store. The dream store.


The minute they enter at the exact moment and beat, Baekhyun feels light-headed at the achingly familiar smell of fresh pages and... home, sweet home. Acting off of pure instinct, he squeezes the hand in his gratefully, and allows himself to be led somewhere inside as his heart rate races alarmingly high.


If this is what he thinks it is, then he’ll be over the moon.


When seated cautiously at a table, he bounces in his seat until his cousin clumsily rids the cover on his eyes. The sight that greets him is gorgeous, and satisfyingly familiar. His bottom lip trembles as his heart swells up with delicious gratitude. Various books by his favorite authors, the ones whose stories and novels he never got the chance to buy, lie in a little circle around him.


Slowly, as if afraid to look away, Baekhyun brings his gaze to Jungwoo with wide, hopeful eyes that gleam in silent question. Winking at him, the taller gestures to the lovely covers with a grin to top it off. “All yours.”


Feeling void of sanity, he is in too much of a shock to beam, but finds it in himself to hastily thank the man next to him. Reaching out to the closest book with a teal color and a single, pink tulip on the front, he begins to read. It’s not long before he engrosses himself in the world of characters who are perfectly written, and breathtakingly described. His cousin looks like he wants to get the hell out of there, but he stays put and forces an encouraging smile each time he looks up.


It's the birthday boy’s day. He's bound to be tolerant and patient.


Eventually, and much to Jungwoo’s gratefulness, they do make it out of the brick building with a backpack full of various books with many chapters, new beginnings, and endings; plot holes and twisted language. For Baekhyun, that was enough to make him smile, but he’s soon got his eyes covered once again as the orange-haired leads the way to their next destination with excitement bouncing in his steps.


After swinging by the pet store and playing with the new puppies, going to the mall and buying new jewelry and clothes, Jungwoo has successfully made the utter joy on the latter’s face permanent. It’s truly been a day, a wonderful one indeed, but the man is left to be shocked when told that it isn’t over yet. His relative drags him to their last and final stop. There’s a sweet chiming of a small bell when they walk in, and the scent of strawberries and butter drift to his nose. Baekhyun’s jaw drops.


“No way.”


He allows himself to be seated carefully at a table, an action familiar to the one back at the bookstore. The second his blindfold slips off, he pouts and fights the smile that turns the tips of his lips up. In fact, he feels as though he might burst into tears any second now. Wrapping his arms around him tight enough to suffocate, he whines. “Woo, you’re so stupid. You’re spoiling me so much, and I don’t deserve this at all—


“Ah, ah, ah,” Jungwoo scolds, interrupting him as he ruffles his hair. “What can I say? This is your favorite bakery, and despite being a shit, you’re still my favorite little shit. The favorites of Jungwoo always deserve this treatment, and yeah, I have a lot of those, but you’re above all. Don’t ever forget how wonderful you are.”


Seriously— one of his favorite things about the precious guy is that he blurts the sweetest of things, and doesn’t even realize how meaningful it might be to someone. It’ll slip out of his mouth randomly, and people’s hearts warm at his unintentional smooth-self. No wonder why he glows all the time. Despite his own heart warming, there’s a dark cloud in the back of his mind that nags at him. Baekhyun bites down hard on the inside of his cheek as his eyes dart around. He releases it every now and then when the pain gradually becomes unbearable, or close to drawing blood, but once it passes he soon goes back and continues.


Something felt off-putting the minute he entered, and his neck seems to agree, for his soulmark hasn’t stopped raging and aching for a while. With every passing second, it seems like it is getting more and more vigorous, and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes completely unbearable. Baekhyun suspects that he knows what’s going on, and he’d be coming up with ways to force them to go outside so he doesn’t have to face this, but he’s fighting the urge to groan or explode. His efforts unfortunately don’t go unnoticed. Jungwoo shoots him occasional worried glances paired with caterpillar-furrowed-brows.


Before he knows it, Baekhyun's sweating profusely as his breathing picks up— hyperventilating, almost, and the pressure in his heart aches. He claws at his hoodie to relieve the mark from its confinements, hoping to feel less suffocated. This all doesn’t compare to the constant and persistent burn his neck produces, though.


He probably looks horrible

.

“Baekhyun, are you—?”


Fate just so happens to be taunting him, because that’s when a giant walks in from where he had been in the bathroom. He is wearing a cream-colored apron, pink hair that is brushed out neatly with care, big brown eyes of warm autumn, abnormally large ears, plump and pouty lips—


Baekhyun stands up so quickly that he has to steady himself to keep from falling over. People near them shoot him weird looks at his abrupt movement and of the sound of his chair scraping against the floor. Jungwoo won’t stop gaping, although being completely oblivious to the situation. Hand clenched tightly around the side of the table in a way that turns his knuckles white, the panicstricken male silently pleads and begs for the taller to not turn around. It’s useless, and he understands, because this is what he’s been waiting for his whole life. This is what his young-self would’ve wanted, and definitely would have his mother cheering from afar if she’d known.


Baekhyun already knows what’s going to happen before it does, but it isn’t enough to prepare him for the wave of emotions crashing through his veins. It’s the same feeling he’d always felt around him, the subtle familiarity and bliss being replaced with more intense feelings. It seeps into his bones, grasping his soul and turning it inside-out, it’s graceful and his soulmark beeps like an alarm.


Time stops then.


The exact second their eyes meet, Baekhyun’s face flushes entirely and his soulmark sears his skin. As much as he wants to deny it, the feeling sucks him up deliciously and he hates it.


He’s pushing past his limits to hide it at this point, but because the only person his soul can’t bear hiding from is his soulmate. Glaring at such a man as his eyes tear up faster than they would if he were in pain, he’s running. Bolting. Getting as far as he possibly can from something he would’ve never been ready for.


Baekhyun curses the universe for thinking he’s ready, because shit— he’s not. He’s nowhere near it.


The brunet barely makes it about a block away before he halts to a complete stop, violently panting to recover, and truly unable to go any further without his gut flaming. With unfocused eyes, he slides down against a nearby rock wall. People of all ages are bustling around his distressed figure, and seeing the different colors of various soulmarks make him want to faint. He can distinguish the fused from the bare necks, and it causes him to tug at his hair as if that’ll make the adrenaline go away.


People with their own lives, living and breathing, loving unconditionally— connected souls, starting families, fate,

soulmates…


The tears clinging from before are rolling down his cheek when Baekhyun lets it hit. If only the phoenix on his left side appearing just slightly on its own isn’t enough, he chokes on a sob as he drops his head between his legs. He's crying, loud enough to be heard if others were to freeze and listen, but that alone won’t make him stop. Shoulders convulsing, he gnaws on his cheek.


Fucking coward. Quit acting like a weak bitch— man up. But… how could he possibly do so?


Park Chanyeol, his neck burns and burns, so much that it drives him into reaching for his phone and staring at his reflection through it. He ignores his revolting runny nose and swollen eyes, forcing himself to stop shaking. There his name lies, very much readable and the opposite of how it had been before. It is the exact confirmation, engraved in the side; he wrinkles his nose before he drops his device like it is too hot to hold.


Perhaps it left a dent, and where he’d usually cry out and whine out of worry, he curls in on himself instead and sobs wholeheartedly.


He forces himself to stifle another sob that threatens to spill, one that would most definitely embarrass him greatly if he let his guard down. Baekhyun is strong, too strong to let such a thing beat him to pieces.


“Shit—” he trembles, attempting to hide the evidence of the mark by cupping a hand over it. It barely makes a difference, but to him, it is more than enough. His heart threatens to rip out, events upon too stressful to have him take a deep breath and calm down. It's only when Jungwoo rounds the corner like a maniac does he shut his eyes tight, and will the soulmark to hide, leaving zero traces of what happened. However, all that happens to rack his mind is the touch his soul hungrily craves as more crystals pool down his cheeks.


His other half— of all people, why Park Chanyeol?





____



They were lying shoulder-to-shoulder, each one with their arms and legs spread out as their eyes stayed glued to the ceiling. The three boys were very quiet despite their surroundings, almost like they were in their own world. It was of effortless life then, the sounds of a clock ticking filled the room, each growing second seemingly relaxing them. They could hear the sounds of people chatting away just outside, the laughing, playful screaming, and music reaching their ears to leave them deep in thought.


Having lost himself prior, Baekhyun had a mini heart attack when the boy next to him spoke abruptly, voice rough and deeper than when he talked last. “Yoora learned the in-depth information about the bonding today.” the smaller couldn’t help the twinkling of his eyes when he snuck a glance towards him. “It made me think about soulmates. A lot.”


“It’s easy to forget how old she is sometimes,” Jungwoo replied, only to snigger after his next comment. “Gee, what a grandma.” The other two joined in on the laughter, the joy still hanging in the air even when the moment had ended. That’s how simple it was for them to connect without much effort, and Baekhyun swore he couldn’t have asked for better friends. Chanyeol then sighed loudly, stretching his arms out before he folded them just behind his head. The cousins on either side of him snorted, and moved to dodge his long limbs.


“What do you think about them?” Baekhyun asked him after a couple beats of comfortable silence, drawing patterns in the air with his thin fingers. “Soulmates, of course. Like— do you agree with it?”


“Are you asking if I like the idea of them?”


“... Sort of?”


Chanyeol hummed as he crossed his legs, merely shrugging. “I’m not so sure. My parents refuse to tell my sister and me too much about soulmates and soulmarks. I asked them why, once, and I think my mom said it’s an experience I need to go through on my own. She believes that we don’t need any prior information.” he waved his hand in the air as he talked, a habit that he couldn’t stop, even while not sitting upright. “It’s why we kind of rely on school, I guess. But I also won’t ever know when I see my soulmate, that they’re mine.


“But don’t try to teach me it, either. Believe me, I’ve tried to learn on my own, but now I’m kind of excited to be clueless.”


“Oh.”


“You’re really something else, Chanyeollie,” Jungwoo teased half-heartedly with a jab to his side. “You should see Baekkie’s mom, she loves to tell us all about it. The process is weird to me, but amazing. I can’t wait to meet my soulmate.” Baekhyun looked over at Jungwoo before his eyes went back to where they were, trained on the lanky dude to his right.


“Me neither,” Baekhyun said quickly.


“Do you think we know who our soulmate is before we come of age?” it was a simple question, yet both cousins immediately snapped their heads to look at him. His immediate reaction is to raise both hands and wave them in defense. “What? I’m just asking.” Just as the younger two were getting ready to respond, they heard the sound of the front door opening, and someone entering the house. The trio craned their necks to see who it was. When Jungwoo's older sister bounded into the room with a look of determination behind her round glasses, Jungwoo whined while the other two shared a look and chuckled in pure amusement.


Although, it was honestly more of Chanyeol’s doing as a distracted Baekhyun watched his dimple appear, that alone triggering his smile to grow from a sprout to a lovely tree.


The former rolled his eyes and arched an eyebrow at the newcomer. “What do you want, Jungsoo?” Big mistake— the girl, despite being slightly shorter— marched over and grabbed his arm, forcibly yanking him to stand on his feet. As the siblings bickered with no bite like always, Chanyeol and Baekhyun were left on the floor to either ponder, listen to them, or talk amongst themselves.


Taking the initiative, Baekhyun grabbed a strand of his hair and twirled it between his fingers as he voiced his curiosity. “Why did you ask us that earlier?”


It was no surprise that the giant asked him what he meant and turned to look at him, unknowingly and accidentally drawing a blush from him. (Of which he remained oblivious to, regardless of their close proximity.) “The ‘knowing about my soulmate’ thing—?” the younger nodded. “—Well, to be honest…”


Baekhyun rolled on his side too so that they were facing each other. “... I was talking to Kris and Luhan, and we came up with the idea that maybe our soulmates are our best friends.”


The younger’s mouth curled up slightly as his heart raced uncontrollably. However, keeping his cool, he gestured for him to keep going. Perhaps, did he mean him? Park Chanyeol thinks his soulmate is Byun Baekhyun?


“W-what do you mean?”


“I know, kinda weird. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how true it actually is. We were all comparing best friends, and we were pretty much shocked. I told them how Jungwoo is, and they congratulated me for having such a good soulmate. Luhan kept complaining about how annoying Zitao...”


Baekhyun shut his eyes as he laid on his back again, biting his cheek as he felt his heart drop. “... so I’m really sure that Woo must be united with me, which was why we met in the first place. It's kind of interesting, if you think about it. There's no other explanation for why I'm constantly thinking about him, and worrying about him. I really do think he’s my soulmate.”


All Baekhyun could find himself doing was nodding as the other prattled on and on, silently hoping he wouldn’t hear his heart breaking leisurely.


“Oh, and Baek,” Chanyeol grabbed his hand, worsening the conflicted emotions circling through his friend’s mind, breaking him so carelessly, yet still unaware. “Please don’t tell your cousin I said this. I want it to be a surprise for when I'm twenty-one and I get your family's soulmark.”


Baekhyun mustered up the last of his courage as he tapped his chest with his free hand, ignoring the brief moment his heart hammered against it. He wished it would stop, and secretly hoped that Chanyeol would shut up. “Your secret’s safe with me.”


“Thank you!” pang. He released his hold. “I’m so glad that I can trust you.”


Managing the sweetest smile he could possibly give him, Baekhyun’s eyes crinkled up but he kept his mouth closed. “Of course, Yeollie,” he whispered, never ever pinning the older as foolish until that very moment.





____



A towel forcefully jabs at his face to wipe off the sweat shining brightly on it.


“You had me worried sick, and honestly everything…” Baekhyun's barely listening to Jungwoo at this point, allowing him to have his way with him. While the younger drifts between the different emotions of fuming and distress every couple of seconds, his cousin still feels completely numb from the stunt he pulled prior. His legs ache terribly, and he wants nothing more than to chop them off angrily. He makes a mental note to resume to his morning runs again.


But the one thought that continues to cross his mind is the overwhelming realization that Chanyeol is indeed his soulmate. Back then, he would’ve guffawed like a maniac, pointed an accusing finger at the taller, and yelled something akin to ‘Told you so! but now, all he could do was sit there in defeat.


Park Chanyeol won a battle that he didn’t even know he was fighting.


Finding himself entirely void of energy, Baekhyun frowns at the fridge across from them when he recalls what happened in the café for the nth time. His heart skips a beat, but not because he’s thinking about the appealing pastries. It’s something entirely different, yet it makes his lips purse into a thin, straight line. His thoughts continue to stab him ruthlessly, and he grimaces.


Why is he happy when he should feel hatred?


“Stop that,” Baekhyun mumbles in a hiss, smacking his chest as if that’ll stop his heart from abnormally speeding up. Jungwoo retreats at his abrupt behavior, arms up in defense with a pair of furrowed brows twitching. He looks just about ready to retort something equivalent to a slap, but then the other is merely shaking his head as he slumps his shoulders. “No, not you.”


Throwing him a look and still feeling rather unsure, Jungwoo huffs and continues to lather Baekhyun up with the beige towel. The latter winces, but loses himself yet again.


There are over seven billion people in the world, yet of course, the Universe chose him.He's known Park since their freshman year of high school, while the other was a lousy sophomore. Well, he’s known of him. The two were never quite friends, but forced acquaintances. Jungwoo is his best friend, and Baekhyun is just the relative who was strolling along casually, only to be forced to get to know him.


At least, that’s what he wants to believe.


They were friends.(Notice the past tense.)


If anything, he saved himself, leaving Jungwoo behind who’d always told him to shut his trap whenever he brought it up. You don’t know what you’re saying, the younger would often scold him. Stop acting as though you’ve never envied him.


It’s been countless years since Baekhyun began to obsessively gather reasons to avoid being anywhere near Chanyeol, and people still don’t have a clue why. This theory of his has grown pretty vast and elaborate by now. It goes something along the lines of Chanyeol being a secret kidnapper who is going to drug him, and kill him in his sleep at any given point. He bets that he even has a knife collection beside his gun one.


And why is that? Well— Baekhyun’s a big coward who will be left in the dark to rot as his soulmate runs off with his cousin.


At times when Jungwoo just simply expresses his exhaustion towards his antics and stops responding, (Which is more often than not), his next resort is Jongdae, his lovely and trusted companion. It was splendid in the beginning, because he’d constantly agree with him without thinking twice. Now that they’re much older, Jongdae doesn’t dare hesitate to give him a vigorous smack when he attempts to bring it up. He always says that he’s stupid for even thinking so. With a pride that should be hurt severely by now, Baekhyun refuses to quit and give in, even if everyone around him is constantly telling him that he’s got it all wrong; Park is a great guy. A wonderful one, actually.


Yeah, he’s quite aware, and he hates that.


Baekhyun sighs as he wallows in self-pity, realizing Jungwoo has long stopped his ministrations and is waving around the towel as he continues to rant. You’d think he’d be done by then, but this is Byun Jungwoo. When he's upset, he’s a whole hurricane.


“...Chanyeol—” speak of the goddamn devil. “—offered to bring us home, but when I refused, he held me close and wow, was I crying hard. I thought I did something, my goodness, you should’ve seen the amount of worry on his face. No one was sure where you’d went...”


The brunet’s eyes cast downwards, wishing that he’d go deaf after hearing that damned name. He loathes how his heart gives a weak little pang in response to it, almost as if it is taunting him. Nothing can overpower his urges to snap at Jungwoo. He keeps going, never seeming to take the hint. It’s no surprise that Chanyeol was yet again the hero in everyone’s eyes, and it was painfully prominent to him that the said hero only cared about Jungwoo’s tears. It’s always about that angel, because if you saw the way the empty-headed pinkie looked at him, you’d realize it too.


Some people see stars in others, but there are only a few that make them see the whole universe.


It’s almost like his cousin can hear every thought circulating in his mind and doesn’t like it, because once again, he is abusing his face with the beige piece of cloth as he pours out his frustration. Shutting his eyes tight, Baekhyun willingly allows the guy above him to jab at his face some more.


He takes a deep breath in. “Thank you, and I’m sorry for worrying you.”


Instantly shutting up and freezing as soon as the whisper reaches his ears, Jungwoo shakes his head to steady himself, continuing with unhurried movements this time. “Well, I— you’re welcome,” he grumbles, making the man below him smile softly.


Oh, Jungwoo, the sweetest, most delicate thing, the person whom he spends most of his life with, and the one who’s got lover-boy head-over-heels.


It’s not too long before Baekhyun shifts uncomfortably at the sudden silence. Others may bask in an empty aura and the true beauty of not having to talk, but he doesn’t like the stiff feeling of the air in their apartment. Stillness may speak louder than words, but the man would rather much not be exposed in that sense. Crinkling his nose, he feels his mouth twitch as he eliminates the tranquility. “I’ll be honest, Woo, you smell like horse shit rolled in cinnamon and strawberries.”


Having the nerve to say this makes him receive a good ‘ol blow with the thing that was supposed to clean his sweat. Cracking open his left eye just a bit, he can’t stop the smile growing when he sees the latter rolling over and laughing. “Go. To. Hell, Baek,” Jungwoo gasps between giggles, and reaches out to hit him again. It does nothing though, because Baekhyun’s prepared this time around and stumbles to his feet, eyes glinting as he bolts wildly behind their kitchen counter.


He winks in an exaggerated way, shaking his hips playfully. “Come and get me— actually, ‘might want to watch your step. We wouldn’t want you tripping over those legs of yours.”


“Oh, you are so dead.”


After chasing one another around their kitchen like the fools they are, they end up sandwiched together and snuggled on the couch. As they argue over what movie to watch, the front door bursts open. While Jungwoo visibly relaxes and sports a hearty beam, Baekhyun’s mood goes from one hundred to negative in milliseconds.


“Yeol!” The youngest in the room waves excitedly as his eyes light up— he’d definitely known about this lovely guest, so this isn’t a mere coincidence.


Baekhyun feels the color drain from his face when he helplessly watches the pink fairy of a man toss his backpack on a nearby chair, and inwardly squeaks when he makes his way over to them. Impulsively, the birthday boy’s hand flies up to cover his soulmark that wouldn’t have been seen in the first place.


“Why didn’t you lock the door?” he shoots Jungwoo, a look that could kill, scoots away from the newcomer, and narrows his eyes when Chanyeol rudely plops down in between them. “It’s dangerous to leave it open like that, regardless if it is—” his hand slices through the air and he gestures towards the giant on his couch. “—that coming in.”


“Um, I have a name, you know.”


“Shut your fucking mouth—” one glance at Jungwoo shuts him up suddenly, but he can’t help but mutter the rest under his breath. “—pink... fairy princess.” If Chanyeol heard his comment, he doesn’t say anything, which does nothing but infuriate him even more.


The orange-haired merely shakes his head, and stretches for the remote. “Let’s get along, please. Baek, I know it’s your birthday, but— we used to do this all the time. Chanyeol said he wouldn’t mind celebrating with us today, and besides, the more the merrier!” Baekhyun snorts and bites his cheek, thinking about how reading sounded much more intriguing to him at that moment.


As he pouts like a child in his seat, Chanyeol turns to Jungwoo and asks about popcorn, to which the other nods his head eagerly in response. Smiling in the sloppiest way possible, (Baekhyun’s words), he stands up and places his hands on his hips, saying that he’ll go make some for all of them, including the birthday boy.


“Don’t start the movie without me!” the tall man calls over his shoulder, bouncing lightly in his steps despite his large figure. He looks way too excited to do something that’ll only take the most, five minutes. In all honesty, Chanyeol doesn’t have to try hard to seem equivalent to a child, which is quite ironic when said by someone who pouts like one. Baekhyun glowers after him, rolling his eyes to the back of his head. A hand flicks his forehead at that, and so he turns to see the frown cast across Jungwoo’s face.


His biggest weakness.


“Be nice,” the younger says, tilting his head to the side. “I know you don’t like him, but please, Baek.”


His eyes are big and pleading, and he grabs his hand to squeeze it. Baekhyun almost feels bad. Key word being almost, he makes use of the hand not in his tight grip to grab the remote and forcibly press play with an apologetic grin. There’s a gasp from the kitchen behind them, but Baekhyun casually waves him off.


“It’s my birthday, I get to do whatever the hell I want.” he feels Chanyeol’s eyes boring into him when the taller runs to get back, but the other pays no heed. With a satisfied and winning smirk, he thanks him for the popcorn, but flinches when his large hand brushes against his. Baekhyun’s chest erupts with sudden bursts of warmth, and the subtle tingling in his mark stops significantly for a good couple of seconds. All he knows is that he wants that. He craves it. He needs it.


Always having been someone with very little control over his expressions, he must be drooling when Chanyeol raises a brow in amusement, leaning in to whisper, “Do my hands turn you on?”


Flushing a lovely shade of pink as he attempts to distract himself with the movie, Baekhyun yanks the bowl away from the male next to him. Of course, even the food refuses to cooperate with him as some of the popcorn flies around them, but he ignores it, digging a hand into the side of the bowl.


“Your hands make you look like an ape,” he states dryly without tearing his eyes from the movie, scooting as far as the couch allows him to get away from Chanyeol. Luckily, Jungwoo is so engrossed in the animation that he doesn’t notice the two bickering.


“Do they really? ‘Must be why people say I'd be a good lover for the night. Not only is my dick big, but my hands mean jackpot.”


Baekhyun rolls his eyes again, because whenever Park Chanyeol is around, it is simply a natural reaction. However, the latter’s comment leaves his cheeks stained red, because it’s not like he thinks about his dick normally when feeling the need to get off, no, never. He clenches his fists, wondering how many people Chanyeol has slept with in the past month. Deciding not to care, he gives him the best glare he can manage.


“The last piece of junk I’ll be thinking about is yours, so shut your trap and let me enjoy the movie. You’re ruining my day more than what I bargained for.” And with that, he tries to ignore Chanyeol as much as he can, but the burn of his soulmark and the urge to touch him doesn’t let him forget his place.





____



Barely an hour later, Baekhyun's practically dying slowly from the weight crushing his poor body. What’s with everyone and wanting to make him feel small? Jungwoo had left about some— too many minutes ago, claiming he had to fetch some urgent mail downstairs. Baekhyun tried to send him warnings and pleaded with his eyes, but the younger wouldn’t even bother to spare him a glance when he shimmied out the door and left him alone with the pink-haired-fairy.


What a little shit. Jungwoo has not yet returned, nor has he answered his desperate amount of numerous calls and texts, and Chanyeol hasn't moved a single inch since then. From his abnormally steady breathing and his peace-ridden face, Baekhyun concludes that he is indeed being slept on.


Without permission, too, he might add.


Never in a million years would he have thought he’d be in this situation, and that’s all that is running through his mind to keep himself from going mad. Seven years ago, he definitely would’ve enjoyed this, and he’s ashamed to say that he would be fantasizing about the endless possibilities in which this could lead to something afterwards. However, as of right now, all Baekhyun can do is groan and complain about how numb his legs feel, because he’s got this grown ass man using him instead of the couch, and the movie is not yet done.


As the characters laugh and have a dreamy time together in the background, he makes a low noise in annoyance, trying his very best to pry him off. He's tried many times already, for this is number I-can’t-even-remember-nor-do-I-care.


This must be the lucky one, however, because Chanyeol suddenly stirs and makes him gasp in surprise. When they make eye contact, Baekhyun gets ready to scream a storm, but unfortunately, the other goes back to sleep unbeknownst to the irked cries from underneath him. The sounds of someone mowing the grass outside is loud enough to reach their ears, but he still continues to get suffocated.


“You sleep through everything!” He hisses as if he could hear him. Baekhyun has to bite down every sudden urge of wanting to smack him so bad with his hands. The guy shifts yet again, and the man below him purses his lips in quiet hope, but only to be let-down once more when Chanyeol does nothing but close his large fingers over his skinny wrist.


What the fuck. What kind of kdrama am I starring in?


Baekhyun gapes as his eyes bulge out of his head, but he is too full of pride and embarrassment to admit that his blood runs cold at the thought of accidentally waking the peaceful other. Frowning, he doesn’t understand why he cares if he sleeps or not. Something propels him to cast his eyes downwards, and he surprisingly does silently. He expects a head of rose hair that reeks strongly of a bakery, but all he can make out is a face along with subtle cologne that makes his head feel fuzzy.


Up close, Baekhyun can see the smoothness of his glass-like skin. There are very few imperfections on his cheek, but the man below him sees past all of that. The space just under his eyes is littered with the tiniest bit of freckles. They look just like sprinkles, and something about them is intriguing. Everything about Park Chanyeol is something remarkable, but he’ll never bring himself to admit that.


It takes Baekhyun quite a while to realize how the sight and touch of his soulmate does not burn at all. Instead, there’s reassurance and hope that everything is going to be alright. Suddenly, the air shifts slightly, his usual rocking boat is subsided by an anchor, and the breath hitting his collarbone— Baekhyun stares, stares, and stares, unable to stop, and seemingly unable to get enough of Park Chanyeol. While he sleeps soundly, Baekhyun takes notice of the small details that he’s never seen before. The right side of his face is pressed against his chest, but it makes him look like some sort of angel. The brunet always knew of the pouty lips the taller had, but seeing him sleep makes him coo at how they look like when he’s like this.


They’re slightly parted, and the sides of his mouth twitch at random points. It’s almost as if he wants to smile. A small trace of the dimple he may or may not look for all the time appears, but then disappears slowly. The cycle repeats, and the little show sends Baekhyun’s heart into doing somersaults. At this point, it seems like it’s the loudest thing in the room now. The rowdy noises outside have discontinued.


It’s just him and Chanyeol.


The shorter gulps helplessly as his Adam's apple bobs, recalling the thing he learned in class that if he is in close contact with his soulmate, he can force their soulmark to appear no matter how hard they try to hide it. It’s the way of nature, but they must be touching. Seeing the situation he is in, Baekhyun glances down at the hand that is tightly holding onto his wrist, and slowly shuts his eyes. He visualizes the giant on top of him, and basks in the feeling of warmth seeping through. His soul is calm and happy, the contact allowing him to know of the other’s emotions too. It's a bit overwhelming to be surged with sudden knowledge about someone like that, although he has to get used to it.


He steers his thoughts to focus on a cluster of midnight blue stars resting on the left side of Chanyeol's neck, and of the lettering etched symbolically beside it. While the phoenix on Baekhyun signifies the sign of the Park family and its powerful ancestors, the stars represent the Byun family and their just as heavenly bloodline. Cracking one eye open slightly, he’s rendered speechless as he opens the other.


The clarification lies there, right in front of his face. Park Chanyeol really is his soulmate— although he’s known this whole time, seeing the actual thing makes him want to tear up for various reasons. I’m not a cry baby, he’d say in a situation like this, but his throat feels constricted and drier than ever. The soulmark on Chanyeol is a combination of colors. One being the wondrous blue of the ocean, and the other of the night sky. They are indeed breathtakingly alluring. The longer baekhyun studies it, the clearer the lettering is, and he is now able to read it perfectly.


Byun Baekhyun.


If his arms weren’t being pinned to the couch, the shorter would be clutching his heart from the way it throbs throughout his entire being. Tilting his head down even more, something catches his eye— scarcely thin, the size of a shiny thread of a golden wisp so pure comes from Chanyeol to his own heart. It spurs something in him, building its own fire to create an explosion. He shivers. Their souls seek one another, overwhelming desire attempting to take over.


Beautiful. It’s enough to make him yearn for something else now, and soon enough, Baekhyun’s mind fogs up with the suffocation of endless craving. He wants nothing more than to crash his own lips onto those plump ones that promise sweet things, and to send his love through light, feathery kisses, to feel the other translating his teetering emotions through soft touches across his body, he’s been yearning to do this for so long—


Baekhyun’s cheeks burn in horror when he snaps out of it, realizing how close he was to ruining it all. Only then does their close proximity knock the air out of his lungs. He swears he sees the gold bond growing so big, bright enough for him to shut his eyes, and can literally feel the vigorous power radiating off of it.


It burns so bad, yet so good.


Before he can properly process anything, he’s violently shoving the giant off of him in a frantic manner and scrambling to get up. He should’ve done that earlier.


Baekhyun backs up far against the nearest wall, breathing erratically and stiffly. It’s too late, the damage is done; Chanyeol is awake now, and scans the room in confusion before his eyes rest on his sweat-drenched figure. His face morphs into a painfully blank stare. He looks awfully like the empty canvas of an artist unable to draw, and unsolved like a new page, chapter—


“How long have I been asleep, and— what? Why are you looking at me like that?”


For once, Baekhyun can’t bring himself to respond, focusing on trying to ignore the blue on the man’s neck. Except, he can’t. That's his own name there, providing any desperate needs of clarification, taunting him and making him sick to his stomach.


“Is there something on my face?”


Baekhyun refuses to look for even a second, choosing to turn around as he clasps a clammy hand over his mouth. His own soulmark is beginning to appear, because his restless soul craves, fighting to be seen by the dominating soul before him. He clenches his fists so hard they hurt, addressing absolutely nothing as he bolts up the short flight of stairs to his room, leaving Chanyeol to be dumbfounded at the sudden change of behavior.


The taller scratches his head and furrows his eyebrows as he watches Baekhyun hurry out of there, head full of questions that ask why he received nothing but wide eyes of potential... fear?


Byun Baekhyun loathes Chanyeol. Of all people, he doesn’t get scared of the person he’s voiced hatred towards for years.


When he slams the door shut and falls against it, Baekhyun puts his head in his hands and whimpers softly, cheeks aflame as his whole body aches and begs for the rest it never got. His soulmark only makes everything worse, but that doesn’t matter to him anymore. What matters is the single thought circling through his mind, the one that pulls at his heartstrings and makes him furious—


It’s not Jungwoo they chose for that bastard, oh no. They chose Baekhyun.





____



Sitting next to Jongdae would’ve been enough, in fact, it would’ve been very enjoyable. The man’s his best mate, for goodness sake. Hell, sitting next to Jungwoo would’ve been enough. Even if the latter usually slept like a rock during car rides, he could survive having him drool on his shoulder. Too bad that that guy is the one behind the wheel.


And Baekhyun?


Chanyeol, who is to his left, sneezes so noisily that it shakes the whole car. (Baekhyun’s words.) The smaller wrinkles his nose as he stiffens, giving a rather weak attempt to lean further away from him. Although, he can only go so far before the door stops him. From his peripheral vision, he barely catches his cousin shooting him eyes that hold some type of warning, but as soon as Baekhyun blinks, it’s gone. With a not so subtle tsk, he bites his lip and casts his gaze out the window.


Baekhyun engrosses his full attention on the hills and the way the lumps look, focusing on the healthy green that gradually turns the color of straw yellow the further they go. He considers murdering Jungwoo in his sleep tonight, because the guy never informed him that of all people, Mister fairy-princess had to tag along.


They’re currently on their way to Baekhyun’s parents house, a place full of memories and important things that should never be forgotten. Road trip! Jongdae had screeched when he turned up at their apartment one day, uninvited and with a suitcase in tow. Jungwoo merely cheered like it was the best thing he’d heard while Baekhyun stood there and gaped like a fish. Although, as much as he’d like to deny it, it only took one boba drink later for them to get the stubborn one to give in and pack his bags too.


Everything was fine then. That was, up until his most favorite person plopped down in the seat beside him.


“So, Baekhyun—” the said male shivers at the rather timbre voice, but doesn’t dare break his gaze from the outdoors. As he’s trying to focus on how beautiful the scenery is, he inwardly pleads for the pink-haired to not even try. Lately, he’s been feeling so drained that just being outside seemed like a nuisance, so Chanyeol making lame attempts to start something won’t ever result in success. Sending him threats through telepathy won’t work, especially since it doesn’t exist. Not even between soulmates, either.


No one knows how you’re feeling until you tell them, you know? That’s what Baekhyun’s father told him many, many years ago when he first experienced heartbreak and hid it from everyone, yet hoped someone would notice; it’s stuck ever since. We’ll get an idea, but never know why exactly. Not even your soulmate will know. I mean, maybe they’ll get the idea too, but they won’t know that you might be trying to tear yourself to shreds, and they also won’t know if you want to be with them forever.


So, voice it. Because everything is everything for a reason.


Maybe that’s why he’s gotten so good at showcasing every thought and emotion on his face like a book. Especially near a certain giant, because it’s the best he can do with communicating, but without actually doing it. The only problem is, he sucks at talking about and expressing those things called feelings, and will never ever tell Chanyeol how he feels. He’ll never tell anyone, and even if he’s stripped with nothing left. He refuses.


“—I heard you love the bakery I work at. I’m sorry that the only time you came when I was there, you didn’t have the best time. My coworkers that day liked you when you first walked in though, ‘said you looked cute in that cream colored hoodie. You come often, right? You should totally bring your soulmate next time—”


Baekhyun shakes his head with a sigh, squeezing his eyes shut. Bring my soulmate, my ass. “I really don’t have the energy to talk right now,” he whispers, ignoring how regardless of it being shamefully weak, his voice still carries venom when addressing the taller. “Park, I’d most definitely like you a lot better if you stayed quiet. There’s no point in trying, honestly, so please do us both a favor and not talk.”


There’s no point in trying to be someone’s soulmate when they’re hung-over another heart.


He doesn’t even have to open his eyes to know he hurt him. Baekhyun squirms as he hurriedly jams his finger down on the button to open his window, willing it to go down faster than it is already. Unfortunately, he still hears the plangent tone that comes as soon as it goes.


“Ah, okay. Um… sorry.”


The shorter curls in on himself when he catches a glimpse of Jongdae sighing, and when Jungwoo silently turns up the radio. Chanyeol respects him, doesn’t look or speak a word to him the rest of the drive, completely disregarding the fact that they’ve got two hours left ahead. The wind hitting his face isn’t as helpful as he thought it would be, because never in his life has he felt this claustrophobic.


Not even when Park slept on him. Now that was a different story.


Baekhyun’s guts cause a riot inside of him as he watches the other three have the time of their lives. While it’ll become a wonderful memory for them to look back at, the sulking one will recall it as his worst nightmare. Jongdae reaches over to change the song thrice, only to be slapped and have Jungwoo turn it all the way up. As if on cue, the giant in the car howls obnoxiously, rolls down his window, and dances in his seat to the song. When they all begin shouting the lyrics together, Baekhyun frowns and wills himself to just disappear.


Smiles, wide, and full of utmost joy— their eyes crinkle up into crescents in the most endearing way possible. Chanyeol looks like a child even more than usual, especially when he brings up his hands to strum a fake guitar.


His cousin once brought up that the man played it on the side when he wasn’t pursuing other hobbies. Ever since then, and little did he know, Byun Baekhyun has only wanted to hear and see one person play it. Nobody else, and he didn’t know why. When Jongdae asked him what he thought about guitar lessons once, he replied by telling him he seemed more like a violinist, not someone who’d play such a thing like the guitar.


Baekhyun can’t bear to watch them anymore, biting his cheek when he sees the guy beside him laugh loudly with the others— he clasps his hand over his neck out of instinct.





____



Despite being in a house that makes Chanyeol reminisce about his childhood at the sight of various frames and such— the two brothers, and their cousin— he’s got his full attention on the real thing that no picture can truly compare to.


There, through the crack of the door, his round eyes focus on his best friend’s figure. The twenty-year-old has got his hand clasped tightly around the blue curtains as he stares longingly out the window, the city lights reflecting in his brown orbs. It makes him look even more like a star, or some type of mesmerizing piece of art. Chanyeol flushes and backs away, wondering how much of a creep he may resemble, considering the fact that he should probably be in the guest room getting ready for bed. It seems as if he is intruding on a private moment and considers backing out, but his feet are rooted to the spot.


He can’t move.


Chanyeol’s mind wanders onto fantasizing about how wonderful it would be to finally see his mark of a phoenix on the other. It's been awfully long, and yet the ancestors continue to laugh at him as he grows impatient on the lack of knowledge towards his love life. His theory must be nothing but correct then, Jungwoo is his soulmate.


A privilege, is what Yoora, his older sister, called it when she said her vows in front of the altar the day she got married. A privilege that is meant to be proven you can handle until the universe deems you ready. And you— you, my love, make me ready to take on the unknown.


After watching as every guest in the room shed unstoppable tears at the beautiful exchange, he soon grew determined to find someone whom he could say those exact words to. Now that he has a soulmark of his own, he is just one step away from solving this seemingly endless riddle.


Too engrossed in quietly admiring the beauty that is him, Chanyeol does not take notice of the other pair of hopeful eyes that watch him from downstairs, nor does he catch the brief hurt that flashes in them.


It’s just like a flicker of light.


Somebody— someone who is very precious and seemingly small in this situation, whispers into the air that Park Chanyeol is the biggest fool, but no surprises there— it is left unheard. Unnoticed. Unacknowledged. Said fool doesn’t seem to be aware of the quiet shuffling of feet until something brushes past his shoulder. His soulmark tingles, and when he looks over, he is met with the back of a brunet’s tousled hair as the man makes his way into his and Jongdae's shared room.


He considers saying goodnight, but all he can do is open his mouth and let it hang open awkwardly. Although the other’s back is to him, Chanyeol can almost see the look on his face; furrowed brows with groggy eyes that droop even more than normal, thin lips jutting out into a tiny upside-down ‘w,’ and dried-up drool hanging off of the corner of his mouth.


A shaky hand reaches out to open the door, and the skyscraper behind him can only blink when the smaller pauses to turn around and stare at him blankly. Chanyeol thinks he hears him whisper a soft sleep well, but he’s sure it’s his imagination when the door slams, leaving him alone in the hallway.


This seems to grasp the attention of someone else.


“Chanyeol?” the angel turns around to see him by now, and waves him over excitedly. “Come inside!”


Eager, like a puppy, the latter beams and runs over. That night, they play video games together. Usually, he would never want to leave and would most definitely beg to “sleepover,” but while his best friend is screeching the minute he gets killed, all Chanyeol can think about is a head of brown locks and a certain whisper as game over flashes across the phone in his trembling hands.





____



“You should see him, god— he’s extremely irritating,” Baekhyun blurts out randomly, slamming his book closed as he tosses it on his bed before scowling out the window. He angrily watches Chanyeol chase after his, Baekhyun's, small cousins. Unfortunately feeding his audience’s ego, he eventually misses something by not being careful of his surroundings, and trips over a stray stick. Scoffing at that, said audience turns back to his friend.


“He’s clumsy as hell—” the older from afar throws his head back and laughs so hard that he shakes, leaving Baekhyun to roll his eyes when he sees him get close to taking another tumble. “—his laugh, it— it makes my skin itch. He also talks too much, so much that I have to constantly tell him to shut his mouth. It only works sometimes, and I think that’s the most annoying part about it.


“But oh— he constantly reeks of his bakery all the damn time, and it makes me super uncomfortable. He also looks like a pastry himself, honestly. And no, that’s not a compliment.”


He fixes his eyes back on Chanyeol in the midst of his passionate ranting, intensely observing the way he scoops little Yoonah up effortlessly with the assistance of his toned arms. Giggles spill out of the five-year-old’s mouth, and the man holding her tickles her lightly on her side. Biting his cheek to ignore the adorable visual, Baekhyun focuses on the way Chanyeol’s eyes are crinkled into crescents, void of any negativity and instead shine with affection towards the small girl.


The sweet intoxicating bond he’s always had with children has been around since forever, and it’s no secret that he adores being near them. Baekhyun has to look away because of the dangerous racing of his heart.


“Pink hair, the color of cotton candy… it always smells... like sweets, or maybe strawberries. And his dimple? Well, his dimple comes and goes, but when it appears—” he gulps unconsciously, running a hand through his locks. “I... he’s always pouting with those lips, and I swear, I just... I really don’t know anymore.”


There are a couple beats of silence that pass between them as they both watch the grown man remember what it’s like to be six again. It makes his soulmate shiver. Biting down harder on the inside of his cheek, he whips his head around to face Jongdae so fast that you’d think he’d get whiplash from the careless action. As he rubs his nape, he snaps. “Why aren’t you saying anything?” When the man just blinks at him, Baekhyun sighs and reluctantly picks up his book to return to where he had left off.


Then, the slightest murmur of a question is asked.


“He’s your soulmate, isn’t he?”


Baekhyun practically dies right there at the sudden and direct comment, instinctively bringing up the novel in front of his face to hide. “What—


Although he can’t find it himself, he freezes when he feels what Jongdae knows.


“I can see your mark, Baek,” the other hums quietly, gesturing towards the part of his neck that wasn’t tingling until that moment. Baekhyun curses himself for not being careful as his eyes grow wider and wider by the second, thinking about how escaping sounds absolutely wonderful. He has no clue of how he should deal with this, unsure of how to take the next step, and he doesn’t want to have to face it at this given time. Rushing to, perhaps, stand up, he doesn’t even make it to his feet before Jongdae merely shakes his head, and holds open his arms.


Wide, comforting.


The feistiness deep inside of him wants to retort something back or perhaps deny it, but there’s no use anymore. Giving in like the coward he is and slumping against him, he collapses like a deadweight in the safety of his arms. The younger suspects that it’ll be quiet for a while as he gives Baekhyun the comfort he secretly seeks, but is in for quite a shock when the twenty-one-year-old’s hands fist his shirt in a way that should be concerning, (He bought this recently), but he doesn’t dare make a peep.


“You know, I fucking hate it,” Baekhyun finally spits out, voice laced with no longer poisoning hate, but with the feelings of a true, crushed man. “I hate him too. I hate my soulmark and the way it burns as if reminding me of what can’t—” his voice cracks, making him keen in embarrassment, but Jongdae rubs slow and comforting circles onto his back. A face is buried into his chest, and yet he still asks in the softest tone, “What’s stopping you?”


It’s the kind of thing that makes Baekhyun want to cower away even more, because his friend sees right through him. The wall he has been keeping up has been successful, as it prevents everyone, except for a small amount, from seeing his true vulnerability. That is why he doesn’t like it, not at all, seeing the way that the other holds him and stares with eyes of pure worry. Or maybe he does like it, appreciates it wholeheartedly even, but only by a small amount and can’t find it in himself to voice it. “I…” answer truthfully, it’s not hard. “... he’s a bad influence, and he walks like a drunk—”


“Baekhyun.”


It shatters him. If he were to be honest, he would talk— no, scream about how Park Chanyeol breaks him so easily apart, one by one, and how he’s so damn good at it. The most horrible thing about it? He isn’t aware of any single thing he does to him. He remains an oblivious prick who’s got his head stuck in the clouds. Baekhyun's soulmark seems to register the lack of returned feelings, and yet it burns more than ever at the epiphany. Tears so innocent threaten to evilly prick the sides of his vision.


“Please, be honest with me. Lay your heart down, and I swear it’ll be alright. It’s just me and you, no one else. I’ve got no camera recording you, no one spying on us, and I won't say anything against you. I just need you to tell me what’s stopping you, because you’re hurting, Baek. It’s killing you, and you’re letting it rip you to shreds.”


His eyes hurt almost as bad as his heart does. He can’t believe he’s crying over that dumb giant, but the tears just fall on their own accord. He doesn’t want to say it, but he knows he’s got to when Jongdae knows how to hug him just right, so tight and full of promised security.


It’s almost as if their close proximity allows him to push through the built-up darkness to grasp his soul, simply shoving down every wall that Baekhyun tries his best to keep up. Sensing this, he shakes and scoots away to the edge of the bed, curling in on himself. Voice sounding as small as he feels, he hides his face and avoids his gaze.


Jongdae’s got those kinds of eyes that make him look like he’s in goddamn love with everyone he looks at. And he knows how much the other sees him like a brother, making him feel sick.


“I just… can’t.”


“Why can’t you?”


Three simple words, and yet that’s what sets off the trigger.


Shit, don’t you fucking understand?!” Exclaimed like the last drop of water falling that once clung onto the edge, Baekhyun surprises them both with his initial outburst, but continues as his voice grows softer and softer. He laughs bitterly when he not only glances up to see Chanyeol with the kids, but with Jungwoo by his side, taking pictures of them.


He’s in love with my cousin.” The air suddenly feels like it’s being lifted off his chest. It’s getting better, although still not the best.


“And… he’s like the light of his life, Dae.” his voice is a mere whisper at this point. “You should see it in his eyes, the way they twinkle when he sees him. That guy is truly so amazing, and I don't blame Chanyeol. I would be the same if we weren’t related— but it’s always him. Never me, but him.


“And the day he received his soulmark, there was hope written all over his face. And do you know what kind of hope, Jongdae? hope for himself and Woo. But guess who ended up with his phoenix?”


Baekhyun throws his arms up in defeat. “Me— fucking me.”


Jongdae lets him cry as he takes it all for him. At one point, his mother pops her head in with a tray of food, but spots them and raises her eyebrows. A true woman of her kin knows when one is upset, but keeping his promise, he glances down at Baekhyun and sends her a confident thumbs up. Don’t worry, I’ve got him this time.


Although Baekhyun wants to, he doesn’t bring up the fact that Chanyeol used him as a bed, but lets out something else that’s been at the back of his mind. “I-I was so close to kissing him. I'm… I’m terrified that one day I’ll snap and press my lips against his without his consent; what would I become if I really did grab that face and… oh my god—” it takes a painfully awful while, but once Baekhyun’s harsh breathing has turned into short sniffles, his dear friend sighs and plays with his hair.


“I won't say sorry because I know you don’t want pity, you never do, but you need to realize that I do care about you. Hell, I know him and I are friends, but you know I’ll beat the living shit out of him if this continues.


“You’re broken, Baek, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You’ve just been keeping this from not only me, but all of us for so long. Too long, in fact. Please, I need you to talk to me whenever you’re feeling like shit. It’s not good to hide, nor will it ever benefit you. That’s why I'm beyond glad to be the one you’re talking to right now. I’m going to help you.”


Baekhyun nods slowly with a sniffle as the words sink in. He lays his head on his shoulder and closes his eyes tight, worn out from everything at that point. Only when he’s fast asleep does Jongdae take a good look at Chanyeol. The latter is rolling down a hill with the girls, and he can only shake his head and chuckle. This is his friend’s soulmate, the man who will serve his duty for being the apparent other-half.


Eventually, he’ll be the one to wake up to Baekhyun’s lovely features, and he will be the one to kiss away any trace of a pout or frown. He’ll know what strong feelings he’d try to hide as well by the way the soulmark transmits their many emotions from a single touch. He'll know what he’s feeling almost immediately, as if they are connected. Theoretically, they are. Eventually, he’ll be the one to listen to all his venting and talks, but will also soothe him with a brush of his finger.


That’s when Jungwoo appears again at the top of the hill, and rolls down with them. Although his grin is wide and shining as he guffaws at Sooyoung’s candid, he remains completely oblivious to Chanyeol’s stare.


Jongdae shakes his head.


“He’ll come around soon,” the young man murmurs to no one but the air, frowning deeply at his friend.


Eventually.






⋆⋆⋆




It's been a little over a year, and Baekhyun still can't seem to get over the fact that Sehun was able to pass the semester, despite wasting all his time playing addictive video games and strolling into classes rather late, being completely unbothered by every professor’s disappointment. The whole friend group suspects that the only explanation is his parent’s closeness with the dean of the college. Sehun, however, strongly believes otherwise.


As time continues to win every race against all of them, and no matter how much he’d wish to deny it, Baekhyun has naturally been gravitating towards Chanyeol. He’s seriously a walking magnet at this point, not only attracting random strangers or passersby with his chiseled features and tall figure, but the shortie is rarely seen not trailing after him. Every excuse that tumbles out of his mouth sounds like utter nonsense once you see the way he lights up at the mere mention of his name.


Once, on a phone call, Jongdae had absurdly made the grave mistake of teasing Baekhyun about how grateful he was that the daily rants about Chanyeol had come to an end. Needless to say, the second he’d hung up, he learned his lesson when he received numerous amounts of panicked voicemails and a pissed-off Jungwoo nearly exploding at his doorstep.


Anyways, while Baekhyun would rather much prefer to avoid the other like the plague before this absurdity, now all his subconscious wants to do is to be around Chanyeol. And think about him. And smell him. And pretty much do anything related to the tree of a man. Call him whipped, or even lovestruck if you’re that daring. He'll happily bestow upon you a sturdy kick to the balls with a wink so infuriating you’ll scream. (And no, not only from the pain).


“Last time I checked, choosing the color of frosting doesn’t require that much brainpower.” Shooting him a dirty look, Baekhyun clicks his tongue and scoots even closer to the shelf. That is, after whistling and pushing their cart to send it rolling down the aisle. Chanyeol screeches, chasing after it like a maniac to prevent it from crashing into someone. When he returns with it seconds later, completely breathless, the shorter has got pink, blue, and yellow containers cradled tightly in his arms.


However, just before Chanyeol can open his mouth and express his irritation, Baekhyun hums, tossing the frosting inside. “That was for being clueless to a baker’s precision, by the way. And no, I'm not sorry.”


“... interesting. How come I feel like you’ve never made anything but cake? And not cake from scratch, but you bought cake mixes.”


“Still, Park,” Baekhyun insists wholeheartedly, crossing his arms as he quirks an eyebrow. “Some idiots can mess up and have the end result turn out horrible. I, however, know how to follow directions.” Shrugging as if he couldn’t care any less, Chanyeol steers the cart around to leave him there. Of course, this time, it is the other’s turn to run over to him frantically. (Short legs v.s. long ones; a lovely workout to catch up with the pink-haired.)


Pouting, the man beside him complains about always being left behind, and murmurs something along the lines of, Just chop off your legs to make things easier, will you?


Completely disregarding the comment, Chanyeol deadpans. “We took too long.” he doesn’t bother sparing him a glance despite the look of murder being shot in his direction. “If we keep lagging, we’ll be the last ones to get to Junmyeon’s.”


A deep sigh that is more dramatic than necessary— “You’re right.”


Chanyeol freezes then, stopping the whole cart to whip his head around to look at him. Baekhyun walks a little ahead before coming to realize he had stopped, and tilts his head with an annoyed huff. “You keep complaining about how late we’re going to be, yet you’re also the one who’s making unnecessary stops like that.”


Choosing not to respond yet again, the one with the cart simply shakes his head and continues power-walking.


After throwing in a few more things, (and Baekhyun sneaking in some of his favorite snacks), they eventually make it to the self-checkout. The shorter almost whines and pouts at the sight of the terribly long line, but keeps it in for the sake of everyone around them. Judging by the constant way Chanyeol keeps checking his phone to see the time, Baekhyun can’t help but watch in amusement— his feelings are mutual in this situation.


They get very close to the entrance, but on their way out, they witness a little boy and someone who seems to be his twin staring longingly at a box of doughnuts. A moment barely passes only for them to be found and tugged away by a distressed mother. “Yongguk, Yongnam, I’ve been looking for you guys! We need to go.” Her eyes follow to see what they’re looking at, and her gaze softens immediately. She sighs deeply before shaking her head. “We can’t, my loves. You know I’d do anything to buy you that, but right now I only have enough for a bag of rice and some milk for your sister. Let’s go— can I help you?”


Having been too engrossed in the pastries himself, Baekhyun barely registers his only companion moseying his way over to them before it’s too late.


“I know I should be minding my own business, ma’am, but I couldn’t help but notice the way your boys seem to be giving those doughnuts heart-eyes—“ Chanyeol digs for the leather wallet in his back pocket, and Baekhyun gapes from afar as he watches him slip out a clean twenty to hand to the just-as-shocked-woman. “—It reminds me of how I was when I was younger. Please, accept it. I want to feel like I’ve done something good for the world today.”


It takes a little more convincing until she finally takes it, but still then she is tearing up and hugging him tightly as she thanks him over and over again. “It's really no problem,” he says, eyes twinkling. “Just… keep the change, alright?”


The mother shakes her head in disbelief, although bows to him continuously. “God bless your soul, young man. Boys, what do you say?”


“Thank you, Mister!” Chanyeol beams from ear-to-ear, and Baekhyun’s sure his heart is racing from the children’s adorable squeaky voices, but maybe the reason is something else.


Or rather, someone.


When they reach the car, Chanyeol takes notice of the smaller’s rather soft smile in the reflection of the window. “Is there a reason why you’re smiling like that?” Said smaller shakes his head in response, running a hand through his locks as he grabs a plastic bag. “It’s nothing,” he laughs, swinging in his steps, his smile growing as he disappears briefly to place the bag in hand in the trunk neatly.


When Chanyeol turns his back to him, Baekhyun watches his figure, feeling his heart warm up significantly. Pang. “You’re quite the hero if I do say so myself, Park.”





____



“You’re smiling like an idiot again.” When Baekhyun doesn’t seem to hear him, let alone doesn’t even flinch at all, Jongdae rolls his eyes at the lack of attention, and jabs an unforgiving finger into his side. The latter snarls angrily at the contact, but it doesn’t take him very long to recover, and he’s back to resting against the couch, sighing dreamily with his head stuck in the clouds. He doesn’t even take notice of the fact that he’s practically sinking into the cushion.


He’s seriously hopeless, Jongdae mouths at an exasperated Sehun who merely shrugs. I told you, you can’t fix stupid. The pair both sigh loudly, turning their attention back to the debate going on between their friends. They’re all gathered together— Baekhyun, Chanyeol, Sehun, Junmyeon, Minseok, Jongin, Kyungsoo, Yixing, and Jongdae— at Junmyeon’s apartment, discussing their shared plans for Jungwoo’s upcoming birthday.


Crossing his arms in thought, Junmyeon purses his lips. “… doesn’t Jungwoo really like strawberries? I think we should definitely consider making the cake with that flavor.” Yixing cheers at the suggestion innocently while Jongin scrunches his nose as he squeezes his soulmate’s thigh, pouting like a child.


“Maybe not that?”


“Why not? Doesn’t Kyungsoo use a ton of strawberry-flavored things? I'm pretty sure you eat anything he whips up in the kitchen.”


Peering over at the person to his left, Jongin smiles sweetly. “... Soo’s cooking is different.” The two exchange sickeningly admirable glances as if they’re in their own world. Their newly fused marks, (That they are proudly showing off), glimmer beautifully in the light above.


“Thank you for the very unnecessary P.D.A.,” Sehun yawns, stretching his arms out to let them fall back by his sides again. Jongdae laughs boisterously as the couple roll their eyes.


“I don’t know, Jun—” Chanyeol joins in on the conversation. “—Baekhyun and I already bought a ton of cake mixes and even though we were both throwing in things, all of them were anything but that.”


“Oh. I thought Jungwoo was a fan of them?”


“I guess not anymore. His recent obsession is chocolate… of course.” He says the last part with a hint of a sneer, almost like he thinks that they should know this already. When everyone in the room gives him a weird look, and Junymeon looks taken aback, Chanyeol forces out a strained chuckle, scratching his nape. “I mean— sweet people like sweet things, right?”


Although some laugh in agreement, the air is quite awkward for the remaining time, effectively making them all restless. With a nervous smile, Junmyeon makes the executive decision to ajourne their meeting. They agree on making it a surprise party, and that the next gathering will take place at the home of the man who caused an early end in the first place.


As they file out and take turns exchanging goodbyes, Baekhyun continues to look like the smitten man he is.


“I'll take him home,” Chanyeol declares the minute he lays his gaze on him. Jongdae does a double-take, eyes widening at the odd statement, unable to believe his ears. Dramatically, he sticks a finger inside one to look for earwax, only to look back at him when nothing comes out. “What?!”


“... I-I know how to drive, if that's what you're worried about.” The other shakes his head frantically, waving his hands in the air as he unsurely bows in farewell.


“No, that's not— I was just surprised, you know? Kind of… unexpected, I guess. I'll get going, then. Uh, have a safe trip.” He steals one last glance at his best friend, who, of course, is still in his own world, before turning and leaving with mirth.


Baekhyun,” Chanyeol murmurs as he bends down to his face level. The smaller snaps out of it very quickly, his unique voice being the only thing to flick on the light switch, and gifts him an impulsive vigorous smack to the face. Clutching his cheek as Baekhyun explodes with countless apologies, Chanyeol’s lips form into a thin line and he rises up from the floor, backing away in slight fear.


“If you don’t hurry your ass now, then I’m not taking you home.” Despite them both knowing very well that Chanyeol would never leave him alone, Baekhyun clambers to get up and tails after him to his car.


The pair travel the roads in silence, the brunet gazing out the window as he observes the city being engulfed in pretty lights. They give off similar vibes to how a Christmas tree might look like during the holidays, or how aesthetically pleasing something may be with countless of fairy lights used as simple decoration.


Baekhyun sighs.


This morning, he had woken with such grogginess that it was extremely difficult to move, and when he glanced down to see the problem between his legs, he flushed a deep shade of ruby red as he willed himself to disappear.


Clutching the armrest of his seat, his eyes dart around in silent horror, his mind being very considerate enough to repeat every detail from his dream.


It went something along the lines of this:


Chanyeol’s soft lips mouthed down his neck with such fervor that it drove the man beneath him insane as he moaned his name out, loud and clear as day. His kisses were sloppy, yet just as he imagined. And fuck— those hands groping the flesh just above the small of his back pinched him deliciously, and it wasn’t long before he was then manhandled into a new position, bottom up and facing his hot soulmate.


“You’re so sexy, baby,” was all his said soulmate gave as a warning before pushing his fingers inside of his heat below, worsening the growing fires within the receiver who choked on a weak sob.


Baekhyun hated himself when he felt the warm welcome of his morning wood, screeching at it as he exclaimed, This is all your fault! He thanked the heavens that Jungwoo was deep asleep in the room across from him, and very shamefully shut his eyes as he stroked his length, hoping for the best.


Seemingly so caught up in his thoughts, he doesn’t realize that Chanyeol has long stopped the car and is staring straight at him. It takes a bit, but when Baekhyun’s skin itches as he grows uncomfortable for no reason whatsoever, he finally looks over.


What?” He takes in their surroundings, noticing that they’ve pulled into an empty parking lot. He tilts his head. “What are we doing here?” When Chanyeol doesn’t bother to give him a response and instead uses his hands to steady himself as he leans in slightly closer, Baekhyun sweats profusely and laughs nervously.


“Is… is this the part of the story where you murder me?” He pales when a large hand reaches for his neck, because it’s right where his soulmark lies. “I don’t think the readers would appreciate zero warnings— u-uh, Park—”


He inches closer and closer, turning a blindside to the smaller’s clearly evident panic, and continues until he is just a couple centimeters away, body seemingly folded awkwardly over the center console. The worst part of it all?


His face is as blank as a clean sheet of printer paper.


Baekhyun blindly searches for the car door to escape, although snaps his eyes open— when did he even close them— when a loud guffaw reaches his ears, only to see the piece of shit choking on his own laughter.


“What the fuck?!”


Chanyeol fans himself, relishing in the victory of something that he never thought he could accomplish. One thing’s for sure, Baekhyun takes note of how good of an actor the other can be, attempting to disregard the fact that he’s impressed. Only a little. Unconsciously, he pulls his hair to let it fall over his eyes, cheeks burning subtly. “Can you just bring me home, please? I don't see how this is necessary, and seriously, I’m too young to die. I still haven’t read my damn books that Woo bought me, I haven’t gone to Paris, and I also haven’t kissed Nam Joohyuk yet, and now you’re here, thinking you’re all that, and—”


Pouting slightly at the ongoing insults, the giant rummages for something in his back seat as quickly as possible. “You like Nam Joohyuk? What about Park Seojoon? His abs are the hot shit. But… I can't take you home yet, Baek. I wanted to do something first… aha!” he pulls out the thing he was looking for, and immediately flashes a boyish grin at Baekhyun, unknowingly making his heart skip a beat. “I wanted to play something for you— don’t ask why this is in my car— but… I wrote this, the notes, and everything.” His words are shy and timid, although the way he holds the instrument makes him seem like a professional.


Speechless at the sight of a guitar, the man in the passenger seat nods in pure shock.


Chanyeol takes a deep breath in before exhaling, raising his left hand to curl his fingers around the neck of his baby, and shuts his eyes. Wordlessly nibbling on the inside of his cheek, Baekhyun watches as he begins to strum quietly, the sounds of his strokes mesmerizing, although obvious that he’s holding back, hesitant touches and nervous vibes.


The shorter listens carefully and leans forward a bit, silently wishing the other would just give him his all. And soon, his wishes are granted when unknown confidence seems to possess Chanyeol. The music is honeyed and doting, emotions that were definitely being well-felt at the sight of him losing himself in the process.


Baekhyun doesn’t know how to react when he opens his mouth to sing, everything that he’d ever yearned for happening all too fast for it to be real.


when i look at the stars shining brightly,

it almost feels like i’m looking at you

i look at the sky and i can only see you,

the sky gave you everything, but baby,

the world gave you me—


“—sorry,” Chanyeol grunts, snapping out of his trance as he stops abruptly, holding his guitar to his chest awkwardly. “I… I was just supposed to play, not sing, um, I know I’m not good—”


“Shut your mouth, you dumbo. I love your voice, so please, keep singing.” The taller’s eyes widen at the request, although at the sight of Baekhyun's own shining bright, he shyly picks up where he left off. The familiar strumming that carries a perfect harmony compliments Chanyeol's sickeningly rich voice, twisting his audience’s gut as he feels everything, and allows the lyrics sink in deliciously. It paints a story of a lovestruck man being enamored for his significant other, leaving Baekhyun breathless for the secret intimateness of this moment.


tonight, it feels like i won’t be able to sleep

i never knew it would feel this nice,

i’ll be together with you who i’ve always

imagined


the night grows late as i stare at you,

i can’t help but want to stop time

don’t go far away, baby, won’t you stay?


Although he’s stopped singing, the younger doesn’t pay any heed to it, instead engrossing himself in the way he plays, moving his fingers with such skill. It’s painfully clear how much music means to the man with the guitar, this song leaving behind a hidden meaning, in particular. Once it ends, Baekhyun barely recovers, swearing to himself that he’ll never forget this day.


He realizes Chanyeol’s looking at him nervously as he bounces his leg, effectively shaking the whole car from his growing anxiety. “You... that was—” Baekhyun tries to put it into words, but he simply can’t explain perfection in just one sentence. “—you’re… stop shaking the car— No! I mean, you were… wow.”


The taller chuckles, relief seeping into his features as unknown feelings well up inside of him. He liked it. He glances at his watch, and looks at Baekhyun with a smile so broad, it hurts to look at it without feeling the urge to grab him and kiss him senseless.


“As much as I like playing for you, I should take you home before your cousin thinks I actually did murder you.”


When they reach Baekhyun's apartment building, the man can’t believe himself for not even wanting to leave. It’s almost like he’s glued to the seat, and truth be told, he wishes he was. Knowing better than to let his emotions take over, Baekhyun sighs and turns to thank him, but gets cut off with a familiar squeeze on his hand. He casts his eyes down to see that their fingers are intertwined.


It’s all too sickeningly familiar.


“Thank you,” Chanyeol whispers before letting go, completely oblivious to the wave of emotions crashing in the smaller’s body, and of the pink blush that spreads violently across his features. The dark makes the other look even more mysteriously handsome as he waves, beaming at him.


With a skip of his heart, Baekhyun himself skips into the building before yelling over his shoulder, “I hope you know how talented you really are!”





____



Tossing and turning, it seems almost impossible to go to sleep at this point, each attempt is useless as trying to hush a baby by watching it from afar. All that runs through his head is Chanyeol singing to him, the lyrics he wrote, and the way he performed it. Slapping his face once, twice, thrice, Baekhyun wills himself to get it together, but each time this happens, he can't stop the corners of his mouth from tilting up cheekily.


Rolling until he meets his pillow, his screams are muffled as he kicks his feet around. At some point, the blanket ended up on the floor, but he couldn't bring himself to really care when it did.


The second he’d arrived home, Jungwoo had already bought them smoothies and burgers prior, welcoming him with unbelievable bounds of energy. He accepted it all gratefully along with a wide smile, although when his cousin had asked how his day was, the other merely whooped and clapped his hands, but never actually answered the question. (Unfortunately.)


Looking back at his rash behavior, Baekhyun squints his eyes, recalling how he’d been laughing hysterically at every little thing the rest of the night. He wonders how Jungwoo puts up with him, and finds himself chuckling randomly again. He's about to scold himself before his phone rings loudly, and as if he was expecting this, he shoots up to grab it.


Park— “Hello?” His hands shake somewhat in anticipation, and he curls a nonexistent hair behind his ear.


“Baek? I— uh. Hi. You’re awake, huh?”


“Of course I am, why else would I answer?” Baekhyun rolls his eyes, but his tone is just bark and no bite. He is now twirling the nonexistent hair around his finger, lips pursing at the way Chanyeol laughs softly. “Anyways… why’d you call? I was just about to sleep. In fact, I was almost lost in dreamland.” It’s a small white lie in his opinion, because technically, he was daydreaming.


“Oh, really? Shit. Sorry, I can go now if—”


“NO!” The outburst makes Chanyeol's breath hitch on the other end, and Baekhyun himself is surprised, clearing his throat as he sits properly. “I mean, you can say what you wanted to say. I-I don’t mind.”


“Okay! er— great.'' The tone is happy, and it makes the smaller’s heart warm up. Tossing the pillow into the air that he’d screeched into not too long ago, he forces himself to listen. “Well, you liked my song, right?


“Yes, I loved it!”


“That makes me really happy, you know?” Baekhyun wants to cry pathetically at the way he can practically feel Chanyeol’s goofy smile. He snakes his hand up to pet his soulmark like a dog, finding himself grinning as well.


“Yeah?”


“Happy, because I wrote that song… I— I wrote it for Jungwoo! Yeah. For him!”


The shorter’s heart stops this time, and he sits up in disbelief, feeling like the sky that Chanyeol sang about is crashing down on him. “W-what?” Are you kidding me?


“Ha— yeah, you know, for his birthday? I figured—”


Covering his ears and unable to deal with the salt being rubbed into his wound, Baekhyun trembles as he rolls away from his phone. “It’s late, Park,” he says weakly, hugging himself tight and seemingly unable to gather enough anger to make his voice sound rude. It comes out weak, strangled even, and definitely forced. “Go to bed.”


“But Baek—”


“Goodnight.” he hangs up then, dropping his phone as he feels much colder than before. With a bitter frown as his heart breaks into a million pieces, he pats around the floor to grab his blanket, wrapping it around himself when he finds it as if it’ll keep him safe.


“I’m so tired,” he whispers into the air, and Baekhyun isn’t so sure if he’s referring to the fatigue eating away at him, or the ongoing pain that gets dumped onto his shoulders as he’s forced to withstand this heavy burden.





____



Chanyeol furrows his eyebrows as he stands up, the force of his abrupt movement sending his desk chair rolling loudly across the floor behind him. However, it seems to be more like a nuisance to himself than his neighbors. Agitated and confused, he tries to speak.


“But Baek—“


“Goodnight.”


Gaping at the phone with wide eyes, the only traces of his friend are the dark screen, and his own reflection staring dumbly back at him. He carelessly tosses it over his shoulder where it lands with a thud on his bed, and he falls into his chair with an exasperated groan. He covers his face with his large hands, muffling his inhumane screeching. They’d called for barely even—Chanyeol checks— his jaw drops at the sight.


Not even two minutes?! The pink-haired searches for his reflection on the floor-to-ceiling window this time, making him glare at it as soon as he finds it, pointing an accusing finger. “This is all your fault,” he grumbles, shaking his head as he crosses his arms in front of his chest. “What the fuck were you thinking, Chanyeol?!”


The small male had been so happy prior, he was glowing and his eye smile was for sure present (The other’s words and instinct), but then suddenly sounded nothing like his shining-self in just a mere matter of seconds. The reason for that? Park Chanyeol.


Scoffing, Chanyeol clenches his fists hard enough to leave angry crescent-shaped marks on his palms. “‘Oh, haha, I wrote it for Jungwoo’— bullshit!” Whining, he turns and flops dramatically onto his bed to give it a series of punches. It’s not a surprise when they turn grudging and unenthusiastic not too soon after. Panting, the giant of a man rolls onto his back, gazing up at his ceiling with a pout.


Although, a lone cobweb in the top right corner makes his nose scrunch up at the sight of it, wondering how long it’s been there. Despite the brief distraction, the little thing actually makes his mind wander— What if… he’s lying and didn’t like the song? What if he thinks he’s talented, but doesn’t like— Chanyeol shakes his head in dismay. No, he doesn’t actually think he’s talented. Chanyeol laughs out loud at himself, but it doesn’t take long for him to whine again and curl into a ball.


He shivers, but the sounds of the heater circulating through his room don’t go unnoticed, so why must he be like this? Were his lyrics too weird? Perhaps too cheesy? Nodding, he sighs. He must’ve creeped the living hell out of him.


Groaning again, Chanyeol starts to shut his eyes, only to freeze with them halfway open. Wait a second. He darts his gaze to the side, and bites his lip at his reflection.


Why does he even care? His leg bounces violently. This is Byun Baekhyun we’re talking about. Baekhyun wouldn’t give a single shit for him, so why does he, Amazing-Legend-King-Talented-Chanyeol, care about such a man?


Creeped out with himself now, Chanyeol grabs a nearby blanket and brings it up to his chin. Does he really care if he liked the song or not? And does he really care if he’s alright and if he’s safe and sleeping well and that no one’s breaking into his and Jungwoo’s apartment and if Baekhyun thinks he’s a good singer or not and that he wants him to think so?


He curls his toes and screams into the blanket. Yes, he fucking cares.





____



Sipping on the straw of his frappuccino rather obnoxiously, Baekhyun holds it close to his chest, remaining unbothered by the wet spot it leaves behind on his shirt. While it slowly grows and he begins to feel it seep through to tickle his skin, he chooses to pretend to tune-in to the conversation around him, finding it difficult to do such a thing. It may seem like something so simple, but he struggles to find a real good reason to pay attention.


Oh. It’s almost his cousin’s birthday, and the date is rolling unbelievably closer and closer. Jungwoo appears to be ecstatic about it, constantly reminding the other about his overflowing anticipation. He's like an alarm that’ll continue to go off no matter how many times you try to put an end to it. It's suffocating, really, the emotions that strangle Baekhyun as he forces the support and endless enthusiasm, energy being jerked out of him to leave him stripped of hope for a potentially good day.


He’s around Chanyeol more than ever now, quiet touches that hold many burdened secrets, wishing for what he could never bring up the courage to ask. He sucks up every laugh, smile, and memory to cherish them like the desperate man he is, all before the day Chanyeol will finally understand that he doesn’t want to see him ever again.


Time is running out.


Baekhyun has complained repeatedly to a weary Jongdae, a clueless Jungwoo who has an attention span of a goldfish, his brother who tries to be wise, his boring father, and even his obsessive mother, but there’s only so much they could do and provide for a vast heartbreak. They may not know, (Except for his best friend), of whom he is actually talking about, but they’ll do anything to make sure he’s alright.


His soul isn’t doing any greater, and all it wants to do is bond, to love, and to be loved. It’s taking a toll on the shorter, it seriously is, and the various sleepless nights that attack him fiercely only remind him of how much he really relies on his soulmate to live. No, he won’t die without him by his side, but he’s starting to feel so hollow that it’s utterly frightening.


Peering over at the man whom he painfully yearns for, Baekhyun sighs and wonders what will happen when the special day finally comes. Yixing, who is sitting beside him on the couch, senses his dejectedness and offers him a chip from his bag. The other shakes his head, but offers him a soft smile. Oblivious, he merely grins back and continues to stuff his face with more of the greasy snack.


Baekhyun quietly admires him.


They’re having yet another birthday meeting, but this time, they’ve gathered around at Chanyeol's place. Baekhyun hadn’t bothered to make any efforts of looking around when he got there, and instead stuck to ignoring how his heart rate sped up at the realization of finally being in the confines of something he wanted to call… home. He shuddered at the odd thought, and instead mustered up all his known willpower to focus solely on the clock against the wall, hoping the hour would go by faster so he could run and never look back.


“... Uh, he likes his showers hot and steamy, no excuses.” Baekhyun turns his attention to the owner of the apartment in confusion, but he too looks confused with his own words. “He also… he prefers penne over tortellini, although if he has to, he’ll eat it. He can’t stand a messy room, so you’ll never see him not cleaning.


“Frank Sinatra's New York, New York is the fifteenth song on his playlist, but his app always glitches when he presses shuffle— that song is usually the first one that plays.” The short man lounging on the couch observes everyone else, and sees that they’re all amazed at the amount of knowledge flooding out of his mouth. The remaining sounds that are in the room are of Chanyeol’s endless rambling, and of the only Chinese man in the room making sad attempts at munching chips as quietly as he possibly can.


“Woo’s favorite sleeping position is on his back, although every morning he wakes up curled at the end of his bed. He also—”


“We get it, you’re obsessed,” Jongdae interrupts with a playful hint in his tone, although almost automatically, he reaches out and massages Baekhyun's neck. Before, the older would have dodged it and pretended like everything was fine, but now, he lets it happen willingly as he leans into the touch. Neither of them seem to notice the way Junmyeon's gaze lingers, only to have his eyes trail off subtly to Chanyeol. It’s almost like he can sense the energy he gives off, deciding to try to save him.


“Uh, how about we stop—”


“What’s his favorite color?” Jongin ignores him and asks it in a form of a challenge. Chanyeol can’t help but narrow his eyes and smirk, emitting full-blown confidence that make his eyes twinkle until—


Slumping his shoulders in defeat, his gaze drops and his cheeks flush. “I… I don’t know.”


Every person in the room bursts out in laughter, clutching their knees, stomachs, each other, rowdily clapping as if those three words are the most hilarious thing they’ve ever heard. Truth be told, it’s not funny at all. When they calm down, Jongin wipes a tear from his eyes, grinning up at Chanyeol with a rough arch of his eyebrow.


“You were so confident earlier! What happened?”


Pouting, the giant crosses his arms. “Hey, you can’t expect me to know everything!”


“Oh, Mr. Genius,” Minseok sing-songs, giggling behind his hands. “I’m afraid that you’ve convinced us that you seem to know everything about Byun Jungwoo.” Opening his mouth to defend himself in embarrassment as everyone doubles over again, Chanyeol doesn’t get the chance to respond before Baekhyun's voice overrides his own.


“Honestly, Park, Minseok’s right. We’d expect you to know, and especially since you seem to invest your whole life jotting down every little thing about my cousin.” Despite his words holding a different meaning, almost like him strengthening the protective barriers around himself, they still hold intoxicating venom that’s strong enough to make them flinch. It’s drastically different from what the others said prior.


This isn’t a joke, it’s the wild truth.


It's Baekhyun’s turn to flick the switch that changes the atmosphere of the room. They grow silent one by one, glancing around nervously as the laughter dies out quicker than ever. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, although, sadly, familiar.


The pink-haired whips his head around so fast that it makes it seem like he’d forgotten about the other’s presence in the room. Their eyes meet in an unforgivable way, and Baekhyun swears that time appears to stop. Unfortunately for him and his faltering death glare that he struggles to keep, the giant is already glaring at him with unknown irritation that makes the other’s thoughts go straight to the phoenix on his neck.


Everyone else fidgets awkwardly, unsure of how to deal with the situation, feeling the heat from their staring contest. Sehun watches the exchange with a sigh, laying his head on Jongdae’s lap, who simply flicks his forehead. Yixing loses his grip on the bag and every chip inside tumbles out, and they all watch as Kyungsoo takes the opportunity to silently pluck the oily things off of the floor.


Chanyeol doesn’t even seem to care about any of them at the moment.


It’s scary to see your friends like this, the equivalent to barging into a private manner; the tips of Chanyeol’s ears have gradually turned into a piercing bright red, and the gaze he holds secretly sends chills down the bystanders’ backs, including the one he is trying to murder with his eyes. After what seems like a while, Chanyeol shakily gets up on his feet.


“I honestly don’t get what your problem is, Baekhyun.”


He’s shaking so hard and violently that Yixing and Junmyeon get up too, concerned, and ready to intervene at any time. Chanyeol resembles something that will explode, and maybe this time, he really is going to. “I don’t understand why I try to be friendly with you. All you do is make me feel like shit. Did you know that? Let me guess, no, you had no clue, and as you can see, I’m not surprised.


“You never try to hide your hatred towards me, and honestly? It’s just left me so fucking miserable these past couple of days.”


Baekhyun's hands curl into fists as the words seep in through his skin, tingling his bones and making his heart sink rapidly. The reason for that moron feeling that way lately? He, himself, has felt that way for ages now. There’s no doubt that they’ve been going too long without being properly together in a matter that will satisfy their hungry and greedy souls.


Park Chanyeol will never love you.


And yet, the man still does not realize how he is accentuating Baekhyun’s hushed point more and more.


“My best friend happens to be your close relative, and so I thought I’d do him a favor and try to get along with you.” he takes a step towards the smaller who is on his own feet now too. “I can’t believe how immature you are. You’re always on that damn high horse of yours, expecting everything and everyone to accept the way you treat me. Whenever I’m near you, it feels like I’m suffocating, and I just—”


“You have no idea.”


“—you…” Chanyeol heaves, and narrows his eyes, recovering from his emotional outburst. “What did you just say?”


Jongdae takes his hand and squeezes. Glancing down at him and expecting a shake of his head to tell him to stop, he gets a nod instead. A sudden unknown confidence fills Baekhyun up to the brim, giving him hidden power as it urges him to take his own step. He swallows a huge lump in his throat. All at once, no one else is around them. In his eyes, it’s just the two of them, similar to how it was back when the other fell asleep on him. It’s the same thing he feels whenever said other is in his presence, shining a spotlight.


“I said, you have no damn idea,” Baekhyun grits out. “You think that he’s going to have your mark, and you’re so fucking confident that you’re going to be the one to hold him tight every single night.” Even if he doesn’t bother mentioning anyone, they both know who he’s talking about. In fact, everyone being forced to listen to their heated argument knows exactly who he’s referring to.


He throws his hand up in the air. “It’s obvious how you look at him, and there’s no point in hiding your feelings. You don’t care about me. You’ll never care about me, Park, nor will you care about anyone else. All you do is think about you. Your fucking self. And so what? Call me a child, but why don’t you take one good look at yourself who waits obsessively for the day Jungwoo gets a mark.”


He unconsciously stalks towards him as he keeps going, unable to stop himself. The amount of hurt, forced hatred, anger, and distress in his tone is overwhelming. Jongdae squeezes even harder, arm stretching to its extent, and Baekhyun lets out a frustrated noise. Kyungsoo sticks his own arm out to stop Junmyeon from interrupting.


“What irks me the most is how persistent you are that it’s going to be yours that he bears, just because you got a Byun soulmark.” He’s about three centimeters away from him at this point. Jabbing his index finger in that rock-hard chest, he winces but keeps his ground, spilling out every ounce of the contained emotions he has kept in for so long. “Let me kindly remind you that he’s not the only one in the fucking family.”


Chanyeol’s soulmark appears briefly, taunting him, and Baekhyun curses for being so short that it’s about the only thing he can look at before it disappears. The other takes the opportunity over his distracted figure, and uses a sharp tone that no one is used to.


“Get out.” Gasps echo throughout the room, although Chanyeol pays no heed, staring down at Baekhyun in a manner that makes him feel intimidated and small.


Two words so powerful come like a splash of ice being thrown at his face. A knife cutting his insides, Baekhyun's eyes widen. “I…” even Jongdae, his long-supporter, has let go of him, and is gaping like the others.


The imaginary mixture of blood and water trickle down his sides, burning every inch of his skin with pain beyond compare.


“I think that’s enough,” Junmyeon murmurs, finally stepping in and holding his arms out. Baekhyun wants to cry out loud when he realizes that the newcomer is facing him, making it look like he’s blocking him off from Chanyeol.


Park fucking Chanyeol.


Tears well up in his eyes violently, and he’s not even sure if it’s because of Junmyeon, or the tall man. He forces them to stay in despite how difficult it is, because the last thing he wants is everyone to see him like this— for the soulmate he doesn’t deserve to see him in tears.


Baekhyun’s sure that Chanyeol feels the burn of him, the way that the pink-haired claws at his neck ever-so-subtlety makes him feel… pride?


“You know what?” He laughs a hollow chuckle, walking backwards until his back meets the front door, and God only knows how he managed to not trip over anything. His hand finds the doorknob pretty quickly, and at this point, he can’t even bear to look Chanyeol in the eyes anymore. “When his birthday comes, I’ll be the one to tell you that I told you so. Good fucking day, all of you, and I hope you’re happy, Park.”


And with that, as soon as he shuts the door behind him, he’s running. Running into an elevator that happens to be completely empty, and he wills himself to forget the pairs of eyes that were on him earlier. He wants to forget that that all happened, and wants to drown at the remembrance of Chanyeol's suffocating anger towards him. When he gets home he’ll take a long bath, and get rid of every ounce of anything he’s felt.


Sliding down the wall and collapsing to the floor hopelessly, Baekhyun hangs his head and claws at his locks. Chanyeol was right, he’s done nothing but be rude, and he hates himself for the truth that laughs at his foolishness.





____



Turning the page, the petit male’s eyes accidentally skip to the end and he reads what happens. Cursing himself, he pretends to be shocked when the girl finally realizes she’s in love, but also because it was painfully obvious from the start. Pressing himself deeper into his couch, he rolls his eyes and chuckles.


Straight couples and silly plots. Hugging the book close to his chest with perhaps the dopiest look across his features, he purses his lips.When will he experience his own romance?


The second Baekhyun had come home, the very first thing he did was poke his head into every room to see if Jungwoo was present. Sure enough, after seeing how the former had most considerately left behind an empty bedroom with the lights on, Baekhyun grumbled incoherent things and unsurprisingly made quite the show of shutting them off for him. His lovely cousin told him he was out with friends, and the shorter immediately assumed he was with Chanyeol.


Clenching his fists at that, Baekhyun’s teeth grind together obnoxiously as the activities from around two days ago resurface his memory. In the most impulsive manner ever known to be possessed, once he’d mustered up the courage to leave the elevator, he called his cousin to pick him up, and the two took a trip to their hairdresser that day. The shorter now sports a head of pure jet-black while the other is a shining blond. (His poor, poor scalp.)


Humming softly in relief at finally being alone, Baekhyun lets himself bask in the feeling of his soulmark, the phoenix slowly beginning to appear. It’s moments like these where he can truly be a teacup full of gratitude-tea. Not everyday does he get a chance to be— well, solo. Don’t get him wrong, he loves and feeds off of people and their overflowing energy, but every now and then, he needs his own time.


Baekkie time.


Besides, to hide his soulmark, it’s rather draining. And as much as he’d like to deny it, he’s also rather long-due for a bond. The lack of such a crude thing is physically and mentally exhausting, especially when his soul yearns to show itself to his soulmate all the damn time; its revenge being sent as consistent hell in forms of wet dreams that go along oddly similar lines.


Chanyeol kneading his ass cheeks as he showers him in bruising kisses, pushing in and praising his tight—


Yelling in a manner that could be perceived as absolutely worrying, Baekhyun forces himself to continue to read, ignoring the warm blush spreading on his cheeks as the dirty thoughts threaten to invade his mind. “Hell no,” is all he can manage to mutter as his grip on the book hardens.


“That dick is never going to get anywhere near this ass. And. You. Know. What?” He slams(closes it slowly) the novel shut before tossing(carefully placing) it beside him.


(He would never hurt a book.)


“I'm going to make myself cupcakes, because I'm a cupcake. I’m better than what that stupid asshole could ever get.”


Truth be told, about two hours later, Baekhyun is sprawled on his stomach across the kitchen counter, miscellaneous pots and cupcake wrappers surrounding him like some sort of offering. He whines to himself, because he’s just good at that, complaining and groaning wholeheartedly about his life decisions.


To spice things up and mainly to feel cute for once, he had even bothered to wear a light pink apron. (And no, he didn’t think of a certain giant when he put it on, and he didn’t smile like the whipped boy he is.) Laying his head down to feel the iciness of marble on his left cheek, he winces and stares at the wall blankly.


Baekhyun’s mind tumbles then.


The beige paint of the wall is still rightfully intact, and he can’t help but take pride in how much their apartment is being cared for. There's a photo hanging in a dark brown frame, not too small but not too large either. The picture— him, Jungwoo, Jongdae, Jongin, Minseok, and Sehun all hug each other tightly as they try not to fall over from laughing too hard. They look younger. Careless, hopeful, and free of worries of the world as they bask in the feelings of being adults. Each smile is completely genuine.


It’s the kind of photo that you look at, unprepared to find yourself stripped and reliving every emotion felt that day.


In all honesty, the quality is absolutely breathtaking, but it’s nowhere near a perfect picture. The reason for this is because the people in it are an utter mess; not all of them are sitting directly on their bottoms, nor are their arms properly curled around each other. The sand around them tells quite a lot, and from what you can see, some was flying through the air when it was taken.


Baekhyun's eyes soften, recalling the sweet memory that will forever be engraved in his mind. He doesn’t need the frame to remind him of the simplicity of his life prior.





⋆⋆⋆



This was before any of them had a soulmate— there they were, each one was around the bright and blooming ages of lovely eighteen and nineteen. (Minseok and Chanyeol being twenty.) The joy surrounding them was clearly evident, and any passerby would definitely crave to be a part of that. They were friends that had a special bond, one so indescribable and pulling— a true family.


Jongdae had happily stomped all over Jongin's sandcastle with his signature boisterous laugh that hadn’t changed a bit since day one. Helpless, Jongin collapsed in the grainy substance below him, whining so that the sounds they made mixed painfully together. This resulted in them chucking the sad remains at each other as they fought like kids.


Covering their ears, Jungwoo and Sehun, who were the youngest and the most sensible ones in the group, rolled their eyes and shook their heads at the chaotic scene that unraveled in front of them.


Minseok was snoozing soundly on top of a pink towel with a thin magazine open and over his face, shielding him from the rays of the summer sun that beamed down on them. Just beside him was Baekhyun who seriously couldn’t seem to get enough of his novel, because every second after another, he continued to inch it closer and closer to his face. Although, it may have also been a shameless cover to go unnoticed, because he was busy watching someone take pictures with a fancy camera.


Back then, Chanyeol absolutely adored snapping pictures at any chance he possibly could, but that was before he scored himself a job at a bakery. He insisted on starting an amateur hobby besides guitar-playing, finding happiness and clarity in capturing the moment of a given situation with a quick click.


Squatting down as he held his arms at a specific angle, the lanky male, (that was the opposite of muscular at the time), positioned himself perfectly, and squinted his left eye. Baekhyun watched, awestruck, and admired the self-taught professionalism, finding it adorable and inspiring.


A tiny white crab with a beautiful shell trotted past, and the sigh Chanyeol let out made his secret admirer’s mouth turn up at the corners. At that point, the book was pressed up against his thin mouth.


Click.


As he observed Chanyeol checking the photo, a lightbulb flashed in the latter’s head, and he quickly, yet carefully set down his novel and scrambled to his bare feet. Unfortunately, he was not cautious enough, and his beloved story tumbled onto the open sand. When he realized this, he screeched loud enough to not only wake Minseok up, but also attract attention to him from far away.


Baekhyun didn’t care, because all that sent him into panic was his precious book. He reached down frantically, harshly brushing off the nonexistent drastic stains that ruined it.


He looked up again, and it was out of true instinct when his eyes naturally searched for the only thing that would’ve made him really smile at that moment— Chanyeol merely glanced his way, and flashed him a bright grin before turning around. The recipient mirrored him weakly and felt himself flush a ruby red as his insides churned. His heart sped up dramatically, and he ignored the series of grumbles and curses that were being spat out from an annoyed Minseok.


Instead, Baekhyun called out to Chanyeol to get him to look in his direction again, voicing his suggestion with trembling hands hidden behind him.


Chanyeol winked at him with much confidence, (killing the smaller’s heart in the process), and cupped his hands around his mouth to let his voice carry. “Guys!” He called out, sure enough getting the six other boys to freeze and look at him. It was quite a mystery to how Park Chanyeol was strong enough to not explode into heaps of laughter at the sight of Jongin choking on sand like the idiot he was.


“Let’s take a picture!”


And that was how they ended up there, with the tallest of them all just a couple feet away, a big lens covering his face by a small bit. The only one not yet there was Jongin, who was making a poor attempt to rush over while wild coughs tumbled from his mouth. Having trouble calculating the distance and knowing when the exact moment would be to stop, he tripped over a groggy Minseok, sending the older with an almost mouthful of sand.


“Man, why are all of you so problematic—”


“One…”


“Girl, says you!”


“But I’m not—”


Sehun had caught Jongin as fast as he could with his quick reflexes, or rather stopped him from falling by tugging him onto his lap.


“… two…”


In the process, unfortunately, Jungwoo received a rough kick to his left cheek, Minseok was grabbing heaps of sand to throw it at Jongin, Baekhyun got smacked by Jongin’s hand, and Jongdae felt left out, so he turned and kissed Sehun’s forehead.


“... three!”


Click.


“How come you never—”




“—answer the door when you hear the doorbell?” Baekhyun jolts, clearly startled, and rushes to hide his soulmark as he sits up, snatching the pot nearest to him. He's just about ready to take a merciless swing with all his might before he sees who it is.


“Wait.” Baekhyun's eyebrows furrow and his head tilts slightly like a confused puppy, but he doesn’t bother lowering the weapon. It hovers in the air beside him as he slips off the counter he was once laid out on, and squints at the giant of a man like he can’t believe he’s actually there. And seriously, he can’t. Especially since they’re supposed to be angry at each other.


Sure enough, Park Chanyeol’s there in his six-foot-one glory, an annoyed look matted on his features. A seemingly annoyed one, because his eyes are soft and hold a whole other emotion that makes Baekhyun sweat subtly.


“So, your hair is black now, huh?”


But still.


“What the fucking flying flippity fresh are you doing in here?”


Chanyeol makes a weak attempt to grimace at the odd choice of language, but he’s visibly crumbling before him. It makes the other shift uncomfortably as he recalls the amount of exasperation he felt towards him before. It’s barely there, almost gone, if not at all.


How could he easily succumb to him? He hurt him. He doesn’t want him. Chanyeol wouldn’t die for him—


“Could you please put that down?” It comes out shaky and rather unguarded, definitely unlike him in a way that just simply cannot go by without being questioned. Baekhyun gapes at him with wide eyes, stiffening and backing up a little despite the rash craving throbbing in his soul.


But would Baekhyun die for him? He takes a deep breath, and shakes his head at himself. Yes, he would.


The giant scratches his arm awkwardly, and he smiles with closed lips as his eyes cast down to the floor. “O-oh, okay. Just please… don’t hit me with it, Baek, alright?” This time, he’s the one to back up.


Baekhyun waves his arms frantically at the misunderstanding, flushing as he sets the pot down. “I would never!” He exclaims with an outstretched hand that reaches for Chanyeol as if that’ll make him come close again. The taller eyes his hands with an unreadable expression, making Baekhyun flinch. Unconsciously, he retracts it to eventually fist his own shirt.


He doesn't like the fact that his idiot of a soulmate just accepts everything Baekhyun does and says, no matter how confused he may be. It drives him absolutely insane. “I mean— I'll let you go just this once, Cha— Park.”


The owner of the very name chuckles lightly at that, and shakes his head. It’s quiet. Deciding that the silence simply won't do for them, Baekhyun shares every thought circulating his mind.


“... Yes, my hair is black. But don’t you fucking dare say it’s ugly, because I look great. So shut up. And are you looking for Woo? Well, if you are, I hate to break it to you, doofus, but he’s not here. He hasn’t been home for quite a while now, and he’s actually out with friends. I thought he’d be out with you, because you know, he’s always with you, but obviously, he’s not this time. I don’t even understand— hey, Park—”


Smartly choosing to dismiss everything being said, Chanyeol shamelessly invites himself into the cupboards in the back of the kitchen, going through their secret stash of crackers with a victorious smile plastered on his face. He looks over his shoulder, and with a mouthful of them, he tries to talk. “Oh, hehy. Tde rheason why I’m hehre es because—” he swallows.


“—let’s go have a drink.”


This makes Baekhyun gulp down a sassy retort almost immediately, blinking dumbly at him like a deer in headlights. “Excuse me?”


“I’m asking you to come and have a drink with me.”


“I-I know that, but what makes you think—”


Baekhyun,” the taller murmurs, voice almost commanding and unnervingly firm that it sends a chill down his spine. Turning around and shutting the box, Chanyeol grins and places it on a shelf higher than it originally was. Eyes twinkling in a manner that makes Baekhyun itch, he turns around. “Just go with me, please. I feel like we have a lot to talk about.”


The smaller avoids his gaze and massages his neck. “But— we… really don’t.”


Chanyeol lets out a throaty laugh. It’s simple. The way he waves his keys in the air only adds to the playful look on his face; the tilt of his head, and the sight of his pink hair bouncing slightly makes Baekhyun’s heart throb mysteriously. Smiling boyishly, the left corner of Chanyeol’s mouth creeps up to give him young and mischievous vibes.


Baekhyun cries internally at the sight of that damned dimple.


“Quit being such a bore. Drinks, on me.”





____



“You know, when I said I was going to buy you a drink, I didn’t mean the crappiest one.”


Baekhyun rolls his eyes with the tiniest bit of a smile, twirling his straw between his fingers. The two of them watch it roll back and forth. “Park, I really appreciate the gesture, but I do have some decency.” he peers at the other through his eyelashes with a slight tilt of his head. “I also don’t feel like being in debt to anyone right now. You can keep your money.”


Grimacing at the yellow-colored liquid that honestly looks extremely unappetizing, Chanyeol bites down the urge to dismiss what he said to buy a different type of alcohol for him. “Seriously, Baek,” he runs a hand through his hair as he watches him take a short sip. “There’s a variety you could’ve chosen from. That just… that looks like piss.”


“Well, ‘guess I’m into that kinky shit.”


“That— don’t say that again.”


Throwing his head back, the black-haired laughs wholeheartedly as his eyes crinkle into small crescents. Chanyeol can’t help but observe in awe, wondering why he never noticed that feature of his. “What, Park? Got a thing for piss?”


Baekhyun’s cracking up at his own joke as if it’s the most hilarious thing on earth, and remains rather oblivious to the round eyes that follow his every move. Bringing his drink closer, he finally places the straw back into the liquid to take a longer sip than the last, only to frown as it burns his throat on the way down. He truly dislikes the faint taste of something that just isn’t anywhere near right.


“Damn,” the shorter one says as he wipes his lips with the back of his hand. “That was absolutely horrible.” He perks up, ready to joke around some more and perhaps have more fun by roasting Chanyeol a little, but then he notices something that makes his soulmark throb with utmost want. Baekhyun darts his eyes to the ground immediately, lips drawing into a thin line as he squeezes the tip of his straw.


He turns a blindside to his soaring heart, making sure his front is strong and confident. “Quit looking at me like that, Park.” This must snap the other out of it, because he flushes and scrambles to grasp onto his own drink, gulping down the majority of it frantically. “W-what do you, uh, mean?”


“You know what I mean.”


“No, I really… don’t?”


“Just—” Baekhyun sighs like an old man who is done with the world, slipping off of the barstool and standing upright to brush the nonexistent dust off of his thighs. “—stop looking at me with those eyes.”


He turns away swiftly, dropping a couple of bills on the table despite Chanyeol’s protests, and winks at the bartender who’d been eyeing him ever since they arrived. Bringing his drink in front of him as he begins to walk away, it’s almost like a shield, and Baekhyun locks gazes with him over his shoulder.


“Stop looking at me like you want me.” He excuses himself, leaving Chanyeol to sit there, dumbfounded and struggling to find the right words to respond as the bartender dreamily asks if he knows his number.


What the fuck are you doing, Chanyeol? Is what the giant grumbles in response, making the stranger raise an eyebrow. Um, my name isn’t Chanyeol!


It’s not too long after when Baekhyun finds himself wavering between being completely conscious of what he’s doing, and then simply being far away in some other world. He swears that someone had offered him a drink, and he accepted it willingly, downing it as the petit man ditched the shit-alcohol he had Chanyeol buy. Now, he can barely bother to think about him, because he’s dancing with someone who hasn’t yet taken his hands off of his curves. It might be the free-drink-giver, but he isn’t positive.


The dude has a tight grip on his hips, and it makes Baekhyun smirk when he gets tugged closer, chest against his back. The drunk hums rather loudly, the music spurring him on as he presses a delicate hand against the other, laughing at the muscles he feels underneath the flimsy shirt. There’s no reason why, he just finds everything hilarious right now.


When the guy suddenly grinds against him, Baekhyun responds by pushing back with a gasp, feeling hazy and unable to word his thoughts. The only thing he can think about is that as long as he gets laid, then he’ll be completely fine. Although, it’s pretty much forgotten when he thinks he is being searched for from the way his name keeps getting yelled out frantically, and he thinks it’s someone who is important to him, but he also isn’t completely certain about that.


These days, it feels like Baekhyun’s the one who looks and searches, but can never find the person he’s looking for.


Mr. Free-drink spins him around roughly and cups an uncomfortably large hand at the back of his neck, making Baekhyun whimper at the coldness of it. He finds himself craving for a different kind of touch, but he’s too out of it to deny himself of the physical contact. The stranger enchants him to lean in closer at the exact same moment a doe-like pair of eyes meet Baekhyun’s, and when they widen, Baekhyun closes his own and appreciates the strong lips against his.


The way they reek of soju and cigarettes set some alarms off in his head, and he is secretly glad when an arm grasps his own and yanks him away. “Please don’t touch my soulmate,” a deep voice resonates throughout the room, successfully stopping quite a lot of people around them from practically fucking. They watch, intrigued by the drama unfolding to see what will happen next.


If this would have been a regular situation, strangers would most likely ignore it, or would run off to continue their business elsewhere. However, when soulmates are involved, everyone knows that shit is going to be going down the drain, and it won’t be anywhere near smooth or pretty.


“Because he’s taken already.”


Baekhyun takes that moment to snap his eyes open, getting ready to yell at the jerk-newcomer, because he’s fucking nobody’s, but gasps and curses loudly when he realizes that said jerk is taller than Free-drink-guy.


And what can he say? Tall people who are also much more muscular than him are his true weakness.


Baekhyun’s mind processes that he must be getting scolded by his soulmate, and that thought alone makes goosebumps erupt all over his body. Thinking back with a bit of struggling, he takes pride in realizing he wasn't even the one doing most of the touching. To be frank, the other grinded on him, and kissed him first. Feeling determined, Baekhyun wants to speak his intake on what is going on, but all he can manage is a whisper of Wow, handsome boy; words tumbling out, slurred and jumbled together.


Baekhyun accentuates his point by letting out a series of giggles.


Handsome Boy meets his gaze with a scary look and doesn’t think twice before grabbing his hand, completely unprepared for the surge of emotions to travel through their connection, and the way his hand fits perfectly in Baekhyun’s— he ignores all of this. He remains oblivious to the petit who stares at him in horror, hidden traces of his sober-self pushing its way through.


Growing immensely uncomfortable, Baekhyun struggles to wrench his hand free.


Chanyeol’s grip grows tighter to prevent any more fiascos from happening, and arches his eyebrows at the stranger. If looks could kill, then the said stranger would be dead meat being served on a platter. “I can see that you have a mark too,” Chanyeol’s lips pull into a friendly smile, contrasting with his commanding and dominating presence, and gestures towards the other’s neck as if it's the most natural thing to do.


Mr. Free-drink stammers as his hand flies up to hide the left part of his neck, gulping subtly. “Well, I—”


“And I don’t think your other-half would appreciate you hitting on other men, especially if the men you thirst after already have their own lovers. Fuck off, and go give your soulmate the love they deserve.” Not wasting a single second, Chanyeol bows politely and spins around, ignoring the pounding of his head and the other kind of pain surging in his veins, instead dragging away a confused Baekhyun.


The shorter only adds to the mess by complaining and purposely stepping on the heels of his shoes every now and then, seemingly frustrated and annoyed over how his mood was killed. Chanyeol pays no heed, and in fact, his grip stiffens as he tries to walk faster.


The crowd has dispersed into minding their own business at this point, returning back to the unadulterated touches and downing of expensive drinks, although very few still watch them as they exit. Only when they exit the building does Chanyeol really release Baekhyun. His fingers fall one by one, making no comment about how the younger immediately tries to intertwine them again.


Distressed at this point, Baekhyun pouts. “Parkkie,” he whines, flailing his arms when the pink-haired all but accepts his touch, his drunkass not registering the nickname that he let slip out. He makes a greedy move to grasp Chanyeol again, only to get slapped away, making him whimper as he cradles his hands close to his chest awkwardly.


Chanyeol considers murmuring a sorry, or apologizing at least, but he can’t seem to bring himself to say just those two words. Aggravation clouding over, he huffs and clenches his knuckles. “I'm sorry I called you my soulmate back there, Baek, but I couldn’t think of any other way to get him to stop… molesting you. However, I can’t fucking believe you put yourself out there like that. That bastard could’ve drugged you, and you could’ve been seriously—”


A rather pretty, (Chanyeol’s words), finger flicks his forehead, and is quite spot-on for coming from a drunk. Baekhyun squints up at him with unfocused movements, too slow and sluggish to be anywhere near sober. “You are…” his hand glides down a little to harshly squeeze the tip of his nose, making him grunt in discomfort. “... so mean, you know? You took away my babe for the night… he promised to fuck me good—”


“Baekhyun!"


“—and he felt very strong too.” The short man pauses, taking a moment by wavering his hand in the air only to gasp soon after, eyes widening as he squints up at him again. “You’re such a— you motherfucker! I knew it, as expected. You’re ruining my night, Park. And worst of all—”


He sighs dramatically, teetering in his step before collapsing to the ground feebly, making Chanyeol curse as he tries to help him up a bit too late. “You’re ruining my entire life, and you lack too much brain to realize it!” Baekhyun kicks his legs out and rolls onto his stomach, feeling insanely upset towards such stupidity. A random wave of emotions attacks him and he suddenly wants to cry, wishing for the good feeling from earlier to come back.


“Come... back,” he croaks, repeating his thoughts out loud, and earning himself a confused glance.


“I-I’m right here, dumbass.”


This garners his attention, and makes him sit up as his head lolls to the side helplessly, arm shaking from the unbearable weight he puts into it. “Oh, so I'm dumbass now?” He giggles as though Chanyeol had just told him he’s the prettiest thing, trying to get up before plopping down and deciding that he likes the floor better. Baekhyun spreads his limbs out, melting into the ground as much as possible.


“Man,” he pats his cheeks. “I’m blushing.”


Chanyeol rolls his eyes and tells him to shut up, and get the fuck off the dirty floor.


“But I think I like the floor. The floor is always here for me,” Baekhyun slurs, eyes barely open at this point as he traces his fingers over the cracks of the sidewalk, hiccuping randomly and triggering himself into more fits of laughter.


“I should really take you home,” Chanyeol sighs, frowning at the sight of a grown-ass man curled like a fetus below him. The taller is quite surprised that he’s letting this happen right before him. “Should I take you to my place?” The statement, although he’d meant something totally different, earns him a scowl.


“Well, that’s really inappropriate—” Baekhyun points at him accusingly, eyes growing wide again to showcase the darkness of them as he gasps for the nth time. “—who knew you’d be that type of guy! Oh my goodness, all these... boys thinking they can have me. But you know, I think that’s okay with me, but I can’t— no… where’s Woo? You should go fuck him, yeah. He’s better…”


Jaw dropping, Chanyeol watches Baekhyun sniffle, voice trailing off. He slouches his shoulders in a way that would surely get him smacked by his mother if she saw him. The taller man makes a weak attempt to get him to stand up again when a group of girls walk past and laugh at the pair, but the black-haired keeps mumbling incoherent things and refuses to move. Giving up on moving a bag of bricks, Chanyeol sets Baekhyun upright against a wall to at least hear him better.


“... I wish you were less dumb. I don’t know why. It’s fine, I think right? You like everyone but me. You… you even said how I make you suffocate. I kinda hope you die though, ‘cause big elves can’t live without Santa!” Baekhyun cackles, hitting the wall repeatedly until he calms down. Chanyeol, despite clearly hearing what the shorter said, can't help but take quiet notice in the way Baekhyun’s eyes seem to shine in the moonlight.


“Wow, thank you,” forcing himself to talk, Chanyeol shakes his head and refuses to believe what he had just heard, staring down at the drunk with accusing eyes. “I did, well— do like you. I like you a lot, Baek, and I just wished that we were better friends—”


He stops himself mid sentence, because the man on the floor isn’t even paying attention. Instead, Baekhyun is clawing at his neck with a pained expression, leaving behind angry red lines. The giant bounces his left leg and bites his bottom lip, eyebrows furrowing as he realizes a crucial thing— Baekhyun’s got a soulmate out there somewhere, and here Chanyeol is, hogging him up.


Thinking of that makes his own soulmark burn, and he curses under his breath.


“My mark is being fucking annoying,” Baekhyun mumbles as if reading his thoughts, swatting at it as if misquitos are buzzing around the blank patch of skin, movements uncoordinated and consistently missing the spot where his mark would be. He freezes to hiss at his hand afterwards, complaining about something related to frosting that he forgot to put in his fridge, completely oblivious to Chanyeol who is yet again watching him.


Who the fuck is his soulmate?


Baekhyun glares at nothing, scratching his soulmark even more. “You know, it’s like a big ass alarm telling me when it like… it needs my soulmate. It tells me like ‘Ay, Baek, ya need to get bonded by ya soul fuckin’ stealer right the fuck now, or else ya gonna really die.’” He blinks up at Chanyeol with wide, innocent eyes despite playing around with tones, explaining everything intently. “Like, I get those vibes.”


The giant watches in amusement as Baekhyun switches between many types of personalities every second, chuckling at the way the other seems to mix up his emotions. Baekhyun whips his head in his direction with a cold, piercing frown. “What the fuck are you laughing at, you moron?!”


There’s the Byun Baekhyun he knows.


Said Byun staggers to his feet, and almost immediately falls forward, but eventually regains his balance by gripping onto Chanyeol’s coat. All of a sudden, there’s another abrupt change, and Baekhyun fiddles with his fingers like a small child asking for permission for something. And in theory— he is at this point. One could argue about how much living a zoo would suit him.


However, in a small voice that makes Chanyeol weirdly want to coo, Baekhyun asks a question. “Hey, Park, can I… can I touch you?”


The more he says the softer his voice gets, and once his words are processed, the pink-haired’s eyes bulge out of his head as he chokes on his spit. Not only is Baekhyun looking at him innocently as if he didn’t just ask a question that could suggest many things, but he’s also snaking a hand up his body, the only shield being clothing itself. It takes Chanyeol a bit to recover, and it doesn’t help that Baekhyun seems like his usual self— he’s sniggering uncontrollably and getting a kick out of him practically dying from damned saliva.


“W-what does touching me have to do with touching your soulmate?” Baekhyun blinks before a new kind of expression spreads across his features, eyebrows furrowed, lips turned down, eyes… Chanyeol’s heart pangs loudly, hoping that as he gets closer and closer the shorter won’t hear a thing. He's near enough that he can rest his chin on Chanyeol’s shoulder.


And so, he does.


“Everything.”





____



Around three hours and fifteen minutes later after lugging a short, yet deadweight male into his car when he passed out in his arms, it was still wide-ass-eyes-o’clock for Chanyeol. Yes, he has the keys to their apartment, and without a doubt, he could’ve brought Baekhyun home. Although the thought of disturbing and burdening Jungwoo made Chanyeol agree that his own place was better. Much better. No other reason. Even when the cousin called him, telling him he didn’t have to, Chanyeol still told him he was in good hands.


Literally.


And so, that was how they ended up here.


He’d even taken it upon himself to change Baekhyun out of his clothes, then hesitantly dressed him up in a clean set of his own, and tucked him cautiously into bed. Even after everything, it simply wasn’t enough to get the taller to sleep, because every time Chanyeol laid down, he merely became restless and itched to get up again. He’s fucking exhausted, especially after having to explain to various passerby that he meant no harm, and that no— he wasn’t going to bring an unconscious Baekhyun to his apartment to take advantage of him.


Groaning at his body’s own agenda, Chanyeol shoves his face into the stray pillow he’d brought for himself, tightening the blanket around him.


He can’t believe he’s sleeping on a stupid couch when he should be the one in bed. Not the other way around with Baekhyun in his room, sleeping soundly. Shaking his head in pure disappointment with himself, the giant of a man sighs deeply.


The clock on the wall ticks loudly as he plays with his fingers. Everything, Baekhyun had said to him.


Remembering the way he had rested his chin on his shoulder and whispered that word, all that happened in that short time frame rendered Chanyeol completely and hopelessly speechless. Not to mention, Baekhyun got close enough for it to be considered inappropriate, and of potential sexual harassment. He was one call away from being saved, but still, Chanyeol shut his mouth and allowed it to happen.


He shivers at the realization of not wanting it to have ended.


“Everything,” the shorter whispered. Confused, Chanyeol began to ask him what he meant, but he was soon cut off when Baekhyun grabbed his arm to turn his body around. His breath hitched dramatically when Baekhyun leaned in close as he cupped his cheeks with unfocused eyes, murmuring something about how he’ll never understand— himself, or Chanyeol?


That was when the latter drew him impossibly close, Chanyeol’s heart racing embarrassingly fast as he felt a warm breath against his own. He wondered if this was the end, or if the universe was really playing tricks on him, or if this was a true wake-up call. Baekhyun was tiptoeing to reach him, getting closer every time the shocked one blinked, and to be honest… it scared the crap out of him. But he couldn’t find it in himself to push him away, or to even back away, himself.


No muscle in Chanyeol's body wanted to move, and truth be told, neither did he have the desire to do so.


At that very moment, a pair of soft lips grazed the corner of his mouth. It lingered, and Chanyeol was ready to take action as he shot his hands up immediately, but he hadn’t even had a chance to do anything when Baekhyun’s body slumped abruptly against his. The little shit had fallen asleep— on him.


Chanyeol whines loudly and squirms, which only results in screaming in terror when he’s falling off the couch, noticing seconds too late. Despite catching himself in time with a strong hand steady on the floor, he immediately whips his head around in the direction of the hallway. He stills, waiting for any signs of movement or noises, but nothing sparks his senses.


Silently thanking the world as he plops back down, Chanyeol sighs in relief. “Wait a second,” he says, only to slap his face, growling at himself to stop.


He shouldn’t care, right? Turning onto his side, Chanyeol digs his teeth into his bottom lip. But still— what did Baekhyun mean…? Everything?


“This all makes no fucking sense!” He’s yelling at this point, uncaring about being quiet, and chucks his blanket across the room impulsively. It's something that doesn’t take him long to regret, and he frowns deeply when it hits the floor, leaving his legs bare and ice-cold. Flipping over onto his back and kicking them up in the air as if it’ll bring warmth, Chanyeol scoffs when he thinks about how if Baekhyun were here, he’d snort and tell him that his legs look like pepero sticks.


(Which Chanyeol would insist on not being true.)


Thinking about Baekhyun makes Chanyeol panic as his whole body tenses, breaking into a cold sweat and yet again shaking his head frantically. He sits up quickly, only to touch his mouth lightly with wide eyes, recalling the soft caress of such lips on the corner of his own. It burns, and it lingers in an odd way that no other kiss has left him feeling before. Darting his eyes around as if he’s embarrassed, slowly, yet surely this time, Chanyeol presses his fingers into the spot even more.


Technically, they never kissed.


However, they were, indeed, so close to properly kissing. He almost kissed him. He, Park Chanyeol, almost kissed the Byun Baekhyun who hates his guts. The sudden comprehension does not help at all with ceasing the endless nausea and queasiness filtering through his body.


Instead, an unexplainable pulse of some sort of feeling makes him gasp, its power surging through his veins. “I just need a massage,” Chanyeol tells himself, trying his best to relieve his own pain with his rough fingers. It goes away briefly, but it still isn’t good enough to satisfy anything. This sudden craving is dangerous and he knows it's waving through him like a fire, flickering and growing hungrier and hungrier.


“I need one, badly.”


But… hungry for what?


Some time later after the pain embedded in his neck finally subsides, Chanyeol is in his room standing next to the occupied bed awkwardly with a tray balanced in his arms. It's fifteen minutes until seven, and he hasn’t yet gotten any sleep. He is most likely supporting bags under his eyes and a permanent frown, but for some reason, he doesn’t mind.


Placed neatly on top of the tray is a glass of water, a mug of one of Seoul's best hangover teas, food that Chanyeol managed to find in his cupboards, and medicine to soothe the potential headache the younger could sprout in the early morning.


“What the hell am I doing?” Chanyeol asks himself and the wall quietly as he sets it down on his own bedside table, being fully aware of the automatic surge of wanting to cuddle next to Baekhyun before turning around to exit his own bedroom. He couldn’t even bother to look at the lump in his bed, because he knew it would only increase his own nausea.


(How he knew such a thing, he isn’t certain.)


Chanyeol makes sure to bolt out as rapidly as he can, not wanting some kdrama scene being reenacted where Baekhyun will grab onto him like a koala, forcing the taller to stay because his grip is like steel.


Not that he would’ve ever seen that happening between them.


Bringing up his hand as he uses the other to grasp the poor blanket from earlier, Chanyeol pinches his neck and groans, the deep sound resonating through his throat. He flops down on the couch with fatigue written all over his features. He’ll book a massage appointment tomorrow, for sure. Shutting his eyes, he lies down comfortably, hoping that this time, maybe he’ll actually get to sleep.


Needless to say, he doesn’t even get a wink of it.


Chanyeol sits patiently on the barstool adjacent to his kitchen counter, head tilted slightly as he taps his fingers across the surface repeatedly. He probably, no— definitely looks just like a madman; eyes bloodshot and terribly wide, he tries not to grin at the possibilities of scaring the male who is still getting sleep in the room next door. It irritates him to an unbelievable extent, having to wait this long.


Chanyeol can’t sleep no matter how hard he tries, and so he’s left to grumble incoherent things about the life he’s living.


Baekhyun's tea must be cold now. With a throbbing neck and an equally horrible headache, Chanyeol thinks about getting up and reheating it. As an alternative, he hunches over, finding himself afraid to go in there. While the giant questions his entire existence, the sun will always have the audacity to peek out onto the horizon, spilling its beautiful light and various colors across the sky, no matter the case.


He admires it for being so strong to keep rising.


It lures Chanyeol out to the balcony where he hasn’t gone in quite a while, making the creakiness of the floor beneath him cause him to break out in a sweat. He prays for the highly unlikely, yet still likely possibility of falling through to not happen. Determined to ignore this, Chanyeol relishes in the way the cold air tickles his toes. Wondering why this day keeps getting worse, he continues making his way to the edge of the balcony.


The pink-haired squints up at the clouds, taking in the sky before him that is tainted orange, pink, and yellow, the remains of the dark night lingering there, but barely.


The world above— it reminds him of someone, and immediately he goes to scratch at his soulmark, not even bothering to hide the cluster of stars just yet. Chanyeol knows he should, but it’s moments like these where… it feels right to be so open about it. His mark is singing, screaming at him, and he thinks he knows this feeling.


That's when it hits him.


He understands.


“What, are you going to start belting?”


Practically jerking out of his skin, he does the only thing an idiot like him would do in this situation; Chanyeol rushes and panicks, getting ready to get the fuck out of there as he swings a leg over the railing, finding himself with one foot up and the other dangling as his mind finally processes what he’s doing.


“Baekhyun?!”


Sure enough, the man who’s haunted his thoughts all morning stands there, eyebrows furrowed and mouth twisted, almost as if he’ll burst from trying not to—


Baekhyun spits out the laugh that he tried his best to contain, doubling over as he clutches his stomach, laughing so hard that it hurts. Hating himself with every fiber in his body at the moment, Chanyeol stumbles back down and flushes, clutching his heart and cursing under his breath.


“That—” the shorter heaves, wiping a tear from the corner of his right eye. “—was hilarious. Oh, sweet, sweet revenge, God, your face, I swear—”


“I get startled easily!” Chanyeol scowls as he brushes nonexistent dust off of his shorts, eyes narrowing as another wave of self-hatred crashes inside of him for yet again revealing such a thing to Baekhyun.


Little does he know that the man knew that already.


When his laughing dies out, said man seems to remember the fact that he’s hungover, and clutches the edge just next to Chanyeol. Shutting his eyes as tight as they can possibly go, he purses his lips and groans.


“Ugh, my head hurts.”


“Did you take the pills I left for you? And did you drink the tea? What about the water? And did you eat—”


Waving a finger in the air to shush him, Baekhyun sighs deeply. “You’re hurting my head by asking too many questions. Stop making my brain work. For your information, I did eat and drink everything. Even if the tea was cold, but…” he hangs his head. “... I— thank you, Park.” he says the last part in a quick whisper, but he’s sure Chanyeol hears it.


Baekhyun hears him murmur something in response to that, but doesn’t quite catch it. Cracking his right eye open, he squints. “Come again?”


“I said—” Chanyeol takes one long look at him, face blank and quite annoyingly unreadable, taking a step closer to reduce the distance between them to a mere amount of centimeters. “—I swear, you could’ve avoided this if you’d just stuck with the drink I bought you, as for me being a princess—”


“Princess?”


“—you thought I’d sing, right? But if I did this instead, then what would you say?”


“Do what—?”


Chanyeol looks pained as he reaches forward to brush the left side of Baekhyun’s slim neck. And there, even before his fingers touched him, as if emerging from the shadows, a mark as crimson as blood and rich as amber begins to show itself. The phoenix glows, returning some energy to the owner of it who feels every single thing being brought to him. It burns deliciously, each emotion so intoxicating— he fights it, he really does try.


But alas, the power of your soulmate will put out any fire.


Slowly, his walls he tried so hard to keep up are broken down effortlessly, all because of one touch, shattered and tarnished completely, the shreds leaving him behind. He's weak, vulnerable, and silly with a clean soulmark that itches, whispering for him to touch.


Baekhyun wants to explain. He opens his mouth and tries to voice his thoughts, but Chanyeol is just as speechless as him, gaping as swirls of gold immediately surround the shorter’s neck. Baekhyun is rendered helpless and rooted to the floor as the phoenix reaches its final stage, and he knows this is the end when a full name in ancient writing makes an appearance next to it.


He knows he’s read it, knows he’s realized it… and so, with a heart that threatens to be wrenched out of his soul to make him go back, Baekhyun ignores the harsh pounding of his head and how close he feels to throwing up. Backing away, the man turns and runs as fast and as far as his legs allow him to go.


Park Chanyeol, his soulmark identifies.


Trembling as he touches his own neck, Chanyeol knows. Byun Baekhyun— the mark adorning his skin burns as he watches his vixen leave him. Leave him there, to rot and to die alone. To leave him shaking on the floor and on his knees, bruising and sickening as the wind taunts him, blowing air onto his tear-stained cheeks.


The truth, the Universe whispers. Shines through, no matter what darkness tries to conceal it. In game, the truth wins and the aftermath is to be dealt with, or simply, buried with.





____



The overwhelming blasting of music in the background— although it’s one of his favorite songs— makes him feel sick to his stomach, and only adds to his growing desire to leave. Rocking back and forth from the tips of his toes to the backs of his heels, Baekhyun bites the inside of his cheek harshly and curls his hands into fists.


Except, he’s not mad. In fact, he’s nowhere near angry.


He forgets his feelings completely for a split second, forcing a grin with tight lips at the passerby who squeezes his shoulder, but once they’re gone he deflates like a balloon losing air. Baekhyun hasn’t lost anything yet, but it feels as though he’s the biggest loser in this prolonged battle of life against himself.


Everyone's smiling, laughing, drinking their worries away, getting laid, and having the time of their lives. Baekhyun should aspire to be them, and especially since it’s a rather special occasion. Although, not one part of him feels the energy which is radiating in through the room. Instead, his insides undergo utter numbness, the similarity of being forced into an ice bath unable to go away.


His friends would most likely tell him to get out of there if he really wanted to, but he is quite incapable of doing so for various reasons.


One, it’s his own apartment. Where else would he go? Two, this is the party they've been anticipating. Why would you let all the planning and waiting go to waste? Jongdae had asked him. However, deep down, they both knew that he was referring to all that time he spent with Chanyeol. Why would you waste precious moments?


Truth be told, Baekhyun wasted it, indeed. He hasn’t been anywhere around the older in ages. His neck aches, and he can’t shake the emptiness eating away at his heart viciously. Ever since the day he’d run from his soulmate, he’d turned from loving the outdoors, to becoming someone who rarely leaves his apartment at all. The only thing he desired to do was curl up into a ball on his bed, but he knew he needed to be a good cousin— although exhausted, he continued to rise every morning for Jungwoo. It was much more difficult than he’d ever imagined, and it took a lot more support provided by friends and family than he’d initially thought to be able to stay so strong.


What surprised him the most was when Junmyeon knocked on his door one day, balancing a tray of cookies in his arms.



“I’m going to ask you something,” he fretted, watching Baekhyun reach for one of the sweet things as he began to munch on it. “But… I need your permission before doing so, because it’s ancient law, and also none of my business. So if you don’t want to tell me, I’ll understand.” Hearing the pure solemn in his tone, the shorter swallowed the bite he took and set down the cookie, nodding at Junmyeon to continue.


Needless to say, he knew more than Baekhyun did, telling him that it wasn’t hard to put two-and-two together about who his soulmate was. As he was making his way out the door with assuring promises of never telling a soul what they’d discussed, Junmyeon suddenly stopped and smiled at him sadly.


“Chanyeol showed up at my doorstep at two in the morning the other day, and let me tell you that he was a complete mess.'' Junmyeon chuckled as he recalled what the taller one had looked like, making Baekhyun’s stomach tug unpleasantly at the fact that his friend got to see him, but he was still stuck imagining Chanyeol’s face like the coward he is.


“However, Baek—” Junmyeon paused, only to bend down to start tying his shoelaces. “—you need to talk to him yourself. I know it’s ruining you, but you have to remember that Chanyeol’s feeling the same as you right now.” He stood up then, and reluctantly stepped forward and kissed his cheek.


Shocked, Baekhyun stepped back as his face burned.


“He said his life depended on that.” turning, Junmyeon waved goodbye and left. “Please, go and talk to him.”



Shivering, Baekhyun barely registers someone springing up behind him. “Baekkie!” An arm slings itself across his shoulders, of course not at all being considerate about the weight being brought into it. Crushing the smaller slightly, Jungwoo hoots as Baekhyun grunts and rolls his eyes with a snort.


“Hey, birthday boy, you look like you’re having fun.”


Jungwoo spasms in his hold, making the other chuckle. “Fuck yeah, I am!” he tenses abruptly as if remembering something, and turns to him before smacking his lips against his cheek. Mortified, Baekhyun’s eyes bulge out of his head.


Why does everyone keep kissing him?


Jungwoo bounces to the music in the most obnoxious way possible, sticking his tongue out and wiggling his eyebrows at Baekhyun as if he didn’t just give him a shock. “Tell me I’m the most fabulous dancer you’ve seen since Chicago!”


“Chicago? Woo, we’ve never been out of Korea—”


Cutting himself off, he watches with a gaping mouth as the birthday boy climbs up onto their kitchen counter and pounds his chest with a robust yell like the idiot he is. Baekhyun sighs in disbelief as Jungwoo places his hands on his hips, and gives the strongest kick, or battement he can to the ceiling.


“They had it coming, they had it coming!” He sings in the tune of Cell Block Tango from the musical, Chicago, most likely jumbling up the lyrics. He whips his head around as he continues to dance in a sensual manner, throwing in random kicks whenever he possibly can. Baekhyun snorts at the comprehension of Jungwoo thinking that sexy-dancing just meant random crotch grabbing and uncoordinated hip thrusts.


“He only had himself to blame! If you'd have been there, if you'd have seen it, I betcha you would’ve done the same!” He gives his ass a loud slap once he’s finished, and the people nearby cheer him on.


“Baek, aren’t I the sexiest thing?!”


Jungwoo guffaws, perhaps a bit too loud, and the crowd all jerk their beers into the air, chanting his name. It makes the whole situation much worse, although Jungwoo soaks every drop up with his attention-sponge-self. Baekhyun, who is dying from secondhand embarrassment at this point, takes this as his cue to back away, and admires his cousin as he gets sucked into it— he’d always adored big groups, loved the eyes on him— Baekhyun is just the same.


But his head weighs millions of tons at the moment, so he’s beyond glad to leave.


When Jungwoo begins to whoop and screech, he hurls himself into the arms of a hollering Jongin who receives a scowl from a disgusted Kyungsoo. Watching the exchange, Baekhyun’s eyes grow to about the size of saucers.


“He… he’s drunk off his ass,” he whispers when it dawns on him.


“Took you long enough to notice. I mean, Jungwoo’s pretty wild, but I don’t know—’told Sehun and Yesung to quit encouraging him, but it only got worse.”


As if on cue, Yesung and Sehun run past them with bottles of alcohol. The younger of the two, however, stops, and looks at Baekhyun before planting his lips on his cheek. He doesn’t even bother waiting for the look of pure confusion being sent his way, because he’s soon running after Yesung again.


Another kiss?


Baekhyun glares at the person who stayed with him, flailing his arms and pointing at his cousin who is, still, drunk off his ass. “What were you thinking, Jongdae?! Now he’s going to be stuck like this for god knows how long.”


“He’s twenty-one, relax,” Jongdae waves him off with a heartless shrug, although he howls at the next thing Jungwoo has preoccupied himself with. “He claimed he wanted to be so drunk that the following morning, he’d wake with a spinning world.”


“And so you listened to him?! If you haven’t noticed, that man is an idiot— you’re not supposed to go through with what he says, even if he’s the birthday boy!” Baekhyun punches the other in the stomach lightly, shaking his head. Throwing his head back, Jongdae laughs again and sticks his tongue out at him.


“Baek, we both know that what you’re worried about is having to take care of him. And you know what?”


He points to himself with a strong finger and cocky smile, the smuggest look painted across his features. “This guy, right here, is the best fucking person in the world, because he got Junmyeon and Yixing to stay the night to take care of your sweet little cousin!”


“... You invited them to have a sleepover at my house?!”


Jongdae smacks him with a loud whine, stomping his foot. “You were supposed to say—” he imitates the Baekhyun in his fantasy, clasping his hands together with dreamy eyes. “Thank you, oh, God Jongdae, you really are the best!” He sneaks glances at him to catch his reaction, but frowns when Baekhyun looks even more horrified.


“Wow, what an ingrate. Jungwoo told me himself that we could spend the night if it meant treating his hangover, hence why I'm not drinking at all tonight.”


Jongdae gestures towards the unopened beer he is holding, and staying true to his word, he hands it off to a passing girl. She thanks him shortly, and he winks at her before arching an eyebrow at Baekhyun. “See, I know what I’m doing, thank you very much. So when I say I’m going to do something, you bet your ass that I’m doing it. Your cousin also wanted to give you a break, because he said that you’ve been upset lately.


“Which you have, so I agreed. Enough of being a lovesick baby— and besides, now you can go fuck Chanyeol, or something. Be thankful, babe, and don’t hesitate to express your kinks!”


Baekhyun chokes at his provocative words, and the other merely shakes his head, grasping his arm to drag him around the kitchen counter. Once they make it to the front door, he yanks it open and forcibly pushes him out. “Now, go get some fresh air. You look like a middle schooler on picture day. In other words, you’re dying and it’s obvious, so why don’t you go stink somewhere else.”


“Why do I even— um. Thanks, I guess.”


“Anytime, babe,” Jongdae winks at him this time, clutching his hand and lightly squeezing it.


“No, seriously, Dae, thank you. I owe you so much.” His friend’s eyes soften at that, and he ruffles his hair despite his protests. Flattening his hair, Baekhyun turns to leave.


“Don’t be stupid, you owe me nothing.” He flashes him his signature boxy-smile before considering grabbing a coat, but only to figure that he won’t need it. However, he never does get the chance to leave since Jongdae hasn’t yet let go. When his fingers don’t budge as Baekhyun attempts to pull away, he furrows his eyebrows and tries to leave his grip before failing once again. “Dae—?”


“Oh, and Baekhyun?”


“What? Can you stop, please? You were right, I want to leave. Thank you. Thank you so much for being the goddamn angel you are. There, happy? Can you let go? Please, I just want to go…” Jongdae releases him then, chuckling at the black-haired’s desperation. Baekhyun shoots him a weird look, rolling his eyes at the kiss that gets blown in his direction.


“Oh-kay, I’m just going to leave, then,” Baekhyun says, turning around to bask in the feeling of the long-awaited fresh air. It feels like he’d just gotten out of a plane, and in a way, he did in fact leave the confines of an abnormally stuffy atmosphere.


Suddenly, Jongdae bounds down the steps, chasing after him. The other barely gets a chance to turn around before lips are pecking the side of his cheek. Flushing as he wipes his face, Baekhyun fumes and continues to get out of there. Why the fuck does he keep getting kisses with no explanation, whatsoever?!


“Just remember that you can’t call him a fool, and then act like you’re not one yourself, either!” Jongdae calls out after him as he watches him walk away. Baekhyun freezes, because he knows exactly who he’s talking about.


The man just laughs at the hesitation in his movements, whistling in his own lovely, charming way. “In my opinion, Baekhyun, you’re the biggest fool of all.” The petit fails to notice the way Jongdae swiftly fishes out his phone and texts someone frantically.





____



Baekhyun’s eyes land on Chanyeol before he hears him, and he gladly accepts the solid five seconds the universe gifts him to hurry the fuck out of there. The other is lying on his back in the grass, limbs splayed out as he gazes up longingly at the stars. Cringing, Baekhyun takes it upon himself to walk even faster.


Unfortunately, as it is said, he only had five seconds.


The sound of a phone pinging reaches his ears, and then that’s when he hears Chanyeol getting up.


Shit. “Baekhyun?”


“Byun Baekhyun, wait!”


He doesn’t dare stop power walking, uncaring about how awfully close he resembles those grandmas in the early mornings. Neither does he give in to the way his soul whines for him to stay. He also doesn’t take a glance behind him, either. He wouldn’t want to see the handsome mess Chanyeol was in, with his surprisingly newly dyed head of chestnut brown brushed up nicely, clad with a navy blue v-neck dress shirt and pants that show off his impressive parts.


Unlike Jongdae, however, Baekhyun can’t stay true to his word, and curses loudly when he turns around to see the dork in his glory. Dork no more at this point— all-in-all, he looks ready to fuck anything, specifically Baekhyun, he bets, knowing it might happen if he asked— what— seriously though, the walking Sex God of Seoul, how lovely is that?


Baekhyun speeds faster than he’d ever thought he’d be capable of. “Byun Baekhyun, quit running from me!”


And the walking Sex God of Seoul is currently chasing after his Juliet that he lost a long fat time ago. Oh Well. What a shame.


“Baekhyun, please!”


He knows that Chanyeol has longer legs than him, and he’s also aware of the fact that the taller definitely has the potential to catch up to him in less than a second, so why is he taking so long?


“Park Baekhyun!” The shorter stops dead in his tracks, practically falling over from the sudden force. He shuts his eyes tight, expecting the blow from a certain giant crashing into him, but it never actually comes. Only when he feels a warm breath hitting his face does he snap his eyes open.


Baekhyun shoves Chanyeol back with all his might, nearly shitting himself when he realizes that the latter barely moved.


“F-fuck you, Park!”


Chanyeol grins his boyish smile, paying no heed to the fact that he just got an attempted shove. “Um, I’m someone who’ll gladly stick to being a top. But anyways, it was the only way to get you to stop, and it actually worked. And hey, that rhymes.” He seems proud of himself, and that’s probably the most aggravating thing about this. Chanyeol pats himself on the back, saluting like a soldier.


Baekhyun ignores the bead of sweat falling down his own neck, rolling his eyes, and chooses to turn a blindeye to the way his heart races erratically. Stepping around the older, he walks away as if nothing happened.


“Wait, where are you going?”


“Wherever my feet take me,'' Baekhyun responds nonchalantly, stuffing his hands in his jeans pockets. He shivers, regretting his earlier decision of choosing to disregard the jacket hanging on the coat rack. He could really use it now. Chanyeol’s instincts must go haywire, because he immediately catches up to him with worry laced in his tone. It makes Baekhyun flinch. “Hey, hey, hey, don’t go. You’re cold, and you can’t hide that from me.”


“No shit, sherlock. What are you going to do? Warm me up? Fuck me, like the top you are, on this pavement?” Baekhyun begins moving again, and to his disbelief Chanyeol simply follows like a puppy. “And you don’t even have a jacket to give me like those boyfriends in cheesy movies. How about you just go, because maybe I'll be warmer without you by my side.”


“Ouch. I deserve that, though, and it seems like a good idea, but I seriously doubt you’d let me go anywhere near your peach.” The taller keeps up with him effortlessly, and Baekhyun finds himself being ticked-off even more. “Besides, I want our bonding to be more memorable. And perhaps, more private. I’m not the possessive type, but I don't know, Baek, you’re doing things to me.”


Flushing a deep red at the comment, Baekhyun’s hand flies up to subtly scratch where his soulmark should be. The brunet beside him doesn’t miss a beat, eyes flickering from his cheeks to his neck, and the edges of his mouth curl up into a smirk.


“I’m just messing with you. But seriously, Baekhyun, why don’t you come over? My place is nearby, and I don’t want you to freeze out here.” Baekhyun’s gaze drops to the floor as he tries to pick up his pace. It doesn’t take long for Chanyeol to match it, nor does he ever stray from his side.


“Please, Baek. You may hate me, but we’re soul— I mean, I'm not someone to do such a horrible thing. So, pretty please— come over before I call Jongdae to come pick you up.”


“What’s with you being so desperate to get me to come everywhere? And… are you blackmailing me?”


“Ew, don’t come everywhere, that’s disgusting. But you’re welcome to come in my mouth, anywhere, anytime. And false, you’re wrong. I’m simply negotiating. Now, follow with me.”





____



Baekhyun tries to convince himself that he’s only in it for the heat and the free food that Chanyeol offered. Not because the phoenix on his neck burned in delight when their fingers brushed, and definitely not because he really wanted to go to his home again. And besides, it’s not like he missed him.


“Wow, you look stiffer than a hard dick,” Chanyeol comments minutes later when Baekhyun shivers violently the second they’re inside. He's already turned the heater up, so it shouldn’t be from the cold. Baekhyun scowls at him. Stifling a laugh, he extends his arms up into the air, turning in a circle.


“What? Do you like my crib?”


“Will you quit with the dirty jokes?! And— shut up.” The giant brightens up at this, almost like hearing those two lovely words mean the world to him. “You do, don’t you!”


Baekhyun can’t help but think about how much of a child Chanyeol actually is, and scoffs at the sight of his signature dimple making an appearance. “I’ve been here before. Twice. So just shut your mouth. But— where’s my food?”


“Such a whiny baby—” the shorter glares daggers at him. “—sorry— just sit patiently over there, and I’ll cook something up for you, Your Highness.” It’s no surprise that his request is left to be ignored and unacknowledged. It is Byun Baekhyun, afterall. Not anyone else. Chanyeol purses his lips in amusement as he makes his way into his kitchen, silently watching his guest wander around his home.


In spite of being here before, Baekhyun still finds a way to be amazed with the place. Chanyeol smiles softly, unmindful of the fact that his apartment is being snooped around. He thinks… it’s cute.


Wandering into the hallway with a transfixed expression stuck on his face, the black-haired admires the furniture that is the complete opposite to his own. This apartment, although occupied by one person, is too lively for that to be entirely true. There are various colors, different feelings— even the pictures in frames hold unbelievable emotions in them— Baekhyun finds himself looking away, afraid he’s intruding in on something private.


Why hadn’t he taken those chances to look around before?


He avoids the balcony with a frown, although his attention is drawn to the windowsill near it. The place is littered with various types of flowers and succulents of colors, sizes, and kinds. Baekhyun feels eyes boring into his back, so he turns around to bite the inside of his cheek. “I… I didn’t know you liked plants this much.”


Chanyeol shrugs, returning to the stove. “What can I say? They’re my children.”


“I feel like at some point, everything in this apartment was known as your child.”


“Well, I mean, you’re not wrong—” he grins widely. “—aren’t you going to ask who their mothers are?”


“I’m so sick of you already.”


Baekhyun wanders for god knows how long, finding out more about Chanyeol than he’d ever known through his many belongings. He doesn't fail to see that the man’s obsession with pictures still lives on— they’re everywhere, and in every potential spot you could imagine them to be. He's even fitted them in places that make baekhyun have to hold back a laugh. Studying the scattered pictures of chanyeol from the age of being born to the age of being able to pose with a diploma in hand, it leaves his heart feeling warm.


The corners of Baekhyun’s mouth twitch when he catches the sight of a specific one of Chanyeol, Jungwoo, and himself. Mouths stuffed with scattered blue and pink, they smile with their baby faces at the camera, cotton candy in hand. Grownup Baekhyun cringes when he leans forward to see his braces come into view, and shakes his head in disappointment.


Yikes, he’s had better days.


Having enough with everything that’s not the bedroom, Baekhyun waltzes into said room where he hums at the sheer untidiness of it, giggling uncontrollably at the stuffies that seem to have doubled since the last time he was there. Before he could pick one up however, something catches his eye, and sparks enough curiosity in him to avert his attention away from the cute Rilakkuma bears.


Chanyeol’s desk is neat and well-kept, causing Baekhyun to question why it’s like that when its surroundings are obviously being sadly neglected. He sputters when he takes notice of the pair of black boxers clinging on the edge of the chair, but forgets about them almost immediately. The short man gapes, and to say he is speechless is quite the understatement. Hanging in an aesthetic manner, dozens upon dozens of blank picture papers are stuck to the wall. Each one is accompanied with words in cursive that are quite sloppy, but still give the same feeling to read along with it.


That’s new. They weren’t there last time.


He realizes they’re in a certain order, an order so organized that it’s like a poem.


from the way you look at me,

and the way you smile too long—

i know there’s something,

something between your soul and that damned heart.

i hear you,

i see you.


Baekhyun’s eyes follow every picture, every thumbtack— it takes him a bit to notice the blankness of each photo. No one is there, neither Chanyeol, himself, nor a secret someone. However, these words seem to not just be for anyone.


from the moment i saw you,

my heart betrayed me.

i had eyes for another,

but you still made my strings pull.

just know that i’m always

thinking about my mistakes

of how i missed you when you were there—

i wish i could hold you,

i wish i could tell you,

but—

i’m too afraid.


After reading every verse, the more Baekhyun’s eyebrows scrunch up. Like a puzzle waiting to be solved, he wants to figure it out. No— he has to. The universe led him here, and he plans on knowing what the giant was trying to say, what emotions he felt, and whom he was thinking of.


“Oh, Baekhyunie~!”


you’re like the stars in the night sky,

you remind me of the moon,

the sun,

the painting on the horizon—

i can’t help but cry,

because i thought i’d always been aware,

but the fool of myself

never took the time to think—

to acknowledge,

to cheer.


“Baekhyun!”


i know i should’ve,

but there you go,

jet-black-haired,

‘love your smile,

did you know?

will you promise me you’ll stop leaving,

when it should be me who runs?


“I promise I won’t call you that again— where are you?”


Tears, like crystals, glisten in the night. Like the stars, like the moon, like every possible light; they’re greedy as they begin to seep in the corners of his eyes. His eyes find the last square, and his breath hitches.


to my soulmate.

this is my confession to you,

i see you,

beautiful you.

i hear you,

my soul shines just for you,

and only you.

“everything,” you said that night.

can i be your definition of everything?


Beneath it, in total contrast of the white picture theme, is a photo of a young adult with a book in hand, reading it while sitting on a pink towel at the beach. You can see someone’s legs in the corner, perhaps asleep.


“What the hell?! There you are! I've been calling for you for so long, but you never responded. You’re so deaf. Also, your food’s ready, and I— what’s wrong? Baek? What— oh.” Baekhyun whips his head around, eyes wide and alert, caught in the act. He takes one good look at Chanyeol, Park Chanyeol, Park fucking Chanyeol and his stupid self, stupid poem, stupid room, stupid home, stupid friends… a fool; he makes a decision.


“I need to go,” the black-haired forces out shakily, bringing up his shirt collar to wipe his nose. He drops his gaze to the floor where he can see their feet and the other’s piles and piles of clothes. “I need to go, now.” Food long forgotten, Baekhyun isn’t hungry anymore. The sickness and same exact nausea he felt prior circle back to him. His soulmark aches like crazy, although this time, this one time, his heart hurts more.


“Thank you for letting me stay,” he bows quickly, moves rushed and uncoordinated as he tries to make his way out. (Key word, tries.) Baekhyun’s heart drops when a firm hand grasps onto his own desperately, and slams him against the wall. Chanyeol barely gives him a second to breathe and ask a very alarmed What the fuck before crashing his lips onto his.


Oh sweet, burn.





____



The younger’s back throbs from the impact of the wall, but it’s merely forgotten when his mind processes their situation— the lips he’s fantasized about for so long are pressed against his.


Park Chanyeol is kissing him. His soulmate is kissing him.


And so, with heavily tear-stained cheeks, Baekhyun chooses to do what will either end his continued suffering, or prolong it even more; curling his slim fingers around Chanyeol’s nape to tug him closer, his sobs are muffled as he shuts his eyes tight, returning the kiss with equal passion and intense emotion.


If this is a dream, please, don’t let it end.


The latter’s face gradually becomes soaked by his neverending crying, but if he cares, he doesn’t show it. Instead, with a strong and somehow affectionate hold, chanyeol snakes his hands around his slender waist, grunting when their crotches press against each other. Their kiss deepens and it grows harder to pull away, Baekhyun finds himself sandwiched between the wall and the brunet.


Said brunet’s hands stay strictly where they are like a gentleman, although his whole body can’t seem to follow— Chanyeol presses up against Baekhyun as much as he possibly can, accentuating his blessed figure by towering over the shorter. As his hands travel from Chanyeol’s nape to his locks, desperate to hold onto something, Baekhyun’s brain still can’t process it, and he refuses to accept it, afraid of what will happen if he wakes up yet again with soaked underwear and crumpled sheets.


Alone. Yearning. Craving for what he can never have.


However, from the way Chanyeol never once stops bruising his lips with actions that overflow with much vigor and confidence, Baekhyun’s knees quiver. He knows that this is real. The epiphany is short-lived, because once the taller man sucks on his lower lip, a series of alarms ring in his head, and almost immediately, he jerks his arms out to push him away.


Similar to the situation that happened an hour ago, Chanyeol moves about an inch from the shove, if not at all. Panting as his eyes flicker down to the drool connecting their lips, he tightens his grip on Baekhyun to help himself cope. “Is… something wrong?”


The worry laced in his tone makes Baekhyun draw his hands back to fan himself with his shirt collar, (When did the room get so hot?), and the fire in his veins tells him to quit being such a coward. He considers it, giving into the urge to kiss the hell out of Chanyeol. Aware of what is best for him, Baekhyun holds his head up high.


“No, nothing’s wrong,” he manages, voice coming out much weaker than he’d meant for it to be.


“Did I hurt you?” Baekhyun lowers his head and shuts his eyes tight, hugging himself firmly. He tries his best to respond, but the younger knows he’ll start ugly-crying yet again if he does. Biting his lip, he ignores the regret pinching at him when Chanyeol puts some space between them as his eyes rake his body, stare agitated and reluctant.


“You’re shaking.”


And he’s right. As much as he wants to deny it, Baekhyun’s still trembling slightly with a frown stuck on his features.


“Baek, look at me.” With his whole being, Baekhyun can be as cold as he wants. He can say whatever he wishes to, act a certain way, and is fully capable of fooling people with a simple flick of a switch. His only problem is, he can’t control what his eyes do. It’s almost as if they’re their own people, making their own decisions left and right. If he opens his eyes, Chanyeol will see. He will know.


So, voice it. Because everything is everything for a reason. His father’s words echo in his head, and so he takes the step with hopes that he won’t regret it later on.


“What are you doing to me?” Baekhyun whispers brokenly, voice failing him at the end. He shakes as he opens his eyes, tears spiraling down and completely out of his control. He wants them to go back in, to stay where they should’ve been in the first place, but they keep coming. Falling, falling, falling.


Shakily, the black-haired reaches out to cup his face.


“You know your dimple? The one that comes and goes whenever it wants? I hate it so much. Shit, Park, it’s so annoying when I see you smile too, because it’s the first thing my eyes find, and— ugh. I hate how quickly drawn I am to it.” He presses his thumb against Chanyeol’s lips, the taller remaining frozen and letting him express everything.


“I also hate your freckles. They’re small and remind me of sprinkles, so now I can’t eat those things without thinking of you. Your ears— I want to pull them all the time. You know— your whole freaking face!” He cries, shaking violently at this point when Chanyeol kisses his finger softly, tenderly.


“It-it’s so annoying because I always look at you. I always see you. I only see you. Everything is about you, Park. Park fucking Ch— ugh, I… I can’t close my eyes without thinking of you, I can’t hold my breath without being nervous when you’re nearby; I’m the biggest piece of shit—”


Shoving at him again, Baekhyun sobs.


“—but you— you’re the biggest fool. The biggest of all. But you’ll never be bigger than me, Park. Never. I’ll always be the fool who doesn’t deserve you or this, I’ll always be the fool who smiles like a stupid idiot in the mirror when I see your mark there, I—”


Chanyeol yanks Baekhyun’s arms off of him, squishing him against the wall once more. Byun Baekhyun is all he murmurs before kissing him. It’s bruising and rough and ungentlemanlike and not what he’s used to and nowhere near sweet; it’s so many things you can name that make him so… endearing.


Baekhyun’s addicted, and fights the urge to wail when he detaches himself again, and it’s done almost as soon as it started.


Although, it is truly just the beginning.


Chanyeol places his elbow on the side of his head, effectively trapping him. Well, he can’t run now. With his remaining hand, he cups his cheek just like the shorter did to him. He wipes the lone tear that falls gracefully, catching it as he stares deep into his soul.


“Your eyes, Baekhyun, damn. You know? I love them. I always see stars in them, and don’t you dare deny it— they twinkle when you look at me. I’ve seen them. Wait, fuck, I’ve felt them on me.” He pauses to plant a chaste kiss on the other’s nose. It’s the opposite of the one he gave him prior, this one’s soft, delicate, and lingers like a rosebud.


“Your nose, Baek. God, I want to peck the tip of it every single day. I want to wake up everyday and shower it with kisses. But— of course, not as much as your lips.”


He traces the said feature with his forefinger, and baekhyun shivers as more tears threaten to fall. Chanyeol’s finger makes its way up to another part of him, never once leaving his skin. “Your ears… whenever you wear earrings, I always think about how much I wish I could be the one to buy and see you wearing them.


“And your soulmark,” Chanyeol’s voice is softer than a whisper now, making it clear that this is only for him. No one else. Private, intimate, and their secret. “Show me, baby. Show me where we’re bonded.” He swoops down to plant a burst of affection on the spot where his mark should be. And to his delight, Baekhyun whimpers as it gradually appears from where it’s hiding.


It’s the last straw.


Chanyeol pulls him to his chest, holding him tight, completely unbothered by the mixture of Baekhyun’s tears and snot gathering on the juncture between his head and shoulder.


He, too, feels his soulmark appearing.


They stay like that, in each other’s arms, promises whispered as their holds tighten. It’s better than comfort from a blanket, warm fire, or words of encouragement. None of those could ever challenge the power of a hug.


After a bit, Chanyeol hears Baekhyun mutter something unintelligible, sobs reduced to quiet sniffles, but it’s muffled and he can’t process it correctly. “Can you repeat that, baby?”


“I said, kihh mh.”


“Hmm?”


“... kiss me.”


Heart hammering in his chest, the man gives him one last squeeze before looking down at him. “Your wish is my command.” Apparently, he’s too slow, because Baekhyun’s glaring at him and tugging him close. Chuckling fondly, Chanyeol allows their lips to meet once again.





____



It wasn't long before, surprisingly, Baekhyun took the initiative and swiftly slid his tongue into Chanyeol's mouth, but he also didn’t get to enjoy it much before the giant took the lead and growled his dominance. Shocked yet instantly compliant, Baekhyun moaned meekly at this new Chanyeol.


At the sound of such a beautiful thing that tempted him, (Chanyeol’s words), he grew severely impatient, swooped up the smaller boy in his arms, showing off his impressive strength by effortlessly tossing him on the bed, and towered over him as if it were nothing. Baekhyun laughed in approval, but it soon turned into a high-pitched yelp when his ass was squeezed out of nowhere.


And so, there they were, hands touching and teasing everywhere, desperate for making up for the lack of attention and much-needed desires.


Mouthing down his neck obscenely, Chanyeol relishes in every addicting moan he elicits from Baekhyun, enjoying how getting his clothes off made him more open about their current situation. Immediately deciding that he wants more of that, he's unable to stop the growing smirk that appears when he nips above Baekhyun’s collarbone. Nonetheless, the taller man’s eyebrows rise in surprise at the reaction he receives.


“Your neck is so sensitive,” he comments bluntly, only to receive a weak slap and a sassy Get going with it.


He laughs at the retort, and Baekhyun can’t help but radiate his happiness— that is, up until a hot mouth rudely attacks his perky nipple, and makes him cry out noisily. “Stop doing that!” The receiver’s hands curl around the bed sheets at the sudden action, fisting them as moan after moan tumbles out from his lips.


Tempted by the challenge that is Byun Baekhyun, Chanyeol drags his tongue across the bruised mouth. “Stop what?” He asks innocently, long fingers splaying out to trail down leisurely to Baekhyun’s weeping cock, pressing his dull nail into the slit as he pinches his nipple with his other hand. Reaching to jerk him off, he pumps in a coordinated manner while his tongue draws a circle, taking the bud between his teeth abruptly.


“Park—!” Chanyeol tugs at it once, twice, releasing it with a kiss as if he were a chef and Baekhyun was his dish. Grinning at the new profound redness surrounding it, he deems it enough, and moves on to give the same treatment to the other. Blindly, he abandons Baekhyun’s lower region to stretch for the lube in his bedside drawer. Chanyeol tosses it beside them for later, and proceeds to leave a path of sloppy, wet kisses down his abdomen.


“Why aren’t you naked yet?” Baekhyun whines, bucking his hips up into the air with a heavy pant when Chanyeol’s rough hands squeeze his milky thighs. His touch is skillful yet quick, annoyingly experienced and enough to make the man beneath him hungry for more. Chanyeol just grunts in response, leaving behind different colored love bites all over his skin despite Baekhyun’s attempts at pushing his head away from the overbearing sensitivity.


He cries out, and Chanyeol sucks extra hard on one particular spot. “I love how plump you keep these.”

Vexed by the complete disregard to his question and the crude comment, Baekhyun closes his legs with a flush, hoping to get his attention.


Big mistake.


“Quit that,” growling low at the daring action, Chanyeol snaps them back open in a punishing way, diving his head back in to bite and nip at his innermost sensitive spots. Moaning and mumbling incoherent words, Baekhyun long-ditched the sheets and turns to fisting his hair. It’s too much.


“Please, please, please,” he gasps out, feeling his thighs quiver as Chanyeol’s attack seems to be rather incessantly neverending. “Ch— oh my god...” he tenses, tugging at his brown locks as the familiar feeling of something warm and hot licks curiously at the tip of his dick. Baekhyun barely gets the chance to glance down before the older goes straight, (or shall I say, gay), to engulfing the whole thing.


“Shit, I—” the sight drives him insane and it’s something that will forever be engraved into his mind. Perhaps it’ll be the next thing to visit his dreams later on as well. Chanyeol’s lips stretch to take him as he bobs his head, slowly, but enough to make him whine from the lack of satisfaction being fulfilled. He pulls off with a dirty pop, only to lick back up and down, treating it as if it were his favorite treat. Baekhyun can’t stop himself from bucking his hips up, thrashing around when the other hums, sending vibrations around his cock.


If he had felt anywhere near normal, Baekhyun would be awfully flabbergasted from the welcoming of his uncontrollable thrusting in Chanyeol's mouth, but he’s too drunk off of the feelings to really care.


“M-more!” He mewls brokenly, although instead of getting what he asked for, Chanyeol, being the cheeky lover he is, immediately stops his ministrations and pulls off completely. He blatantly ignores the endless needy whines and complaints. Instead, he crawls back up to engage in a heated makeout session, and in theory, it’s the continuation of earlier. Propping himself up with an elbow as he pets Baekhyun's hair, their kisses gradually get lazier and lazier, more chaste and lingering.


The brunet stops to lick his earlobe, whispering into it. “Baekhyun, I need to know something.” Shooting his eyes open when Chanyeol stops, he runs his hands up and down his biceps slowly in question at the shift in the air, struggling to stay focused when the Sex God of Seoul is over him like this.


A thin sheet of sweat acts as decoration, and Chanyeol’s comma-style-hair is completely messed up, fringe sticking to his forehead. Everything about him turns the smaller on; his pupils are blown and his lips are parted deliciously, asking— “Hello? Baekhyun? Have I lost you already?”


Scoffing at the realization, Baekhyun’s cheeks color a slight pink. “Shut up.” Smiling at him, Chanyeol leans his forehead against his, shutting his eyes and effectively shocking him for the nth time that night. Baekhyun can feel the other’s pulse from being pressed against each other so closely, its erratic racing making his features soften.


“Tell me you want this,” his soulmate whispers, sweaty palms holding him tight, almost as if he’s afraid he’ll break in his hold. He breathes in deeply through his nose, letting Baekhyun’s vanilla-like scent reach his nostrils. “Tell me you want this as much as I do. If you don’t, then hell— don’t hesitate to push me away. The last thing I want to do is be a dick—” Baekhyun forces himself up and instantaneously flips their positions, him on top and straddling Chanyeol’s hips.


He falls forward on his hands, smiling softly when hands immediately grip his waist again. “Park, believe me when I say that I want this. The amount of wet dreams I've had because of you is embarrassing, honestly, so… you’ll only be a dick if you don’t stick that— mmn!”


Squeezing his skin as he thrusts his hips to make him jolt, Chanyeol finds amusement in the simplicity of being able to rile the younger up so quickly. “You’re so interesting, you know?” he drawls out, not once stopping, because he’s noticed that Baekhyun basks in the feeling of his jeans rubbing against his leaking cock.


“Because you still refuse to call me by my first name, even when we’re like this.”


It’s no surprise when he feels like his pants are constricting him, his own dick begging to be released. Especially when he’s got Baekhyun moaning desperately like this, meeting his thrusts halfway. Proud of himself for being the only one to make Baekhyun into a mess, Chanyeol nuzzles into his neck next to the hickey he left earlier, biting it hard enough to bruise, and kisses it in silent hope of it staying for a while.


He stops their movements with an iron grip, pushing Baekhyun so that he lands on his back. Once again, their positions are switched. Chanyeol peers down at his jeans, tutting at the sight. “So dirty, filthy, stained in your juices…” He sits up and takes off his shirt with skilled hands, relishing in more pride as Baekhyun gapes at the result of his frequent gym visits. “You can touch, darling.”


Taken aback at the nickname, Baekhyun glares briefly as he traces an eager, yet hesitant hand over rock-hard abs, feeling every single muscle as if it were sculpted into his body.


“Strip me.” Strip him, Baekhyun does, hurriedly and impatiently. He reaches out for his belt, undoing it as quickly as he can, albeit struggling to do so when Chanyeol decides to occupy himself by connecting their lips once again. His pants barely meet his knees before they get kicked off frantically, the giant finding himself just as ready as him, self-control practically long forgotten.


Baekhyun hooks his fingers around the waistband of his boxers, snapping them back when the latter hisses into their kiss. He growls warningly, shoving them down himself as he pulls away from their liplock, erect cock immediately slapping against his stomach. Mouth watering at the sight, Baekhyun blinks helplessly at the massive girth, eyefucking it with a mischievous glint.


“I would let you have a taste, baby, but I want to get down to business already.” Chanyeol reaches for the lube, coating his fingers with a generous amount. It’s sticky, but also one of his favorite parts. Kissing Baekhyun’s forehead tenderly, he prods at his entrance carefully. “It’ll hurt, but I promise it’s worth me not hurting you in the long run.”


Baekhyun is about to hum a response before it gets drawn out into a loud whimper, making the older distract him with his lips once again. He'd forgotten how long it’s been since he’s gone all the way like this.


As their tongues dance, it serves as a nice way to take his attention away from the stinging of the stretch. No matter anything else in the world, Chanyeol will prefer kissing those soft and luscious lips day and night. By the third finger being knuckle-deep inside, Baekhyun’s long gone as he rides his fingers, moaning so obscenely and shamelessly that it makes Chanyeol’s dick twitch with anticipation.


“Holy shit,” he curses at the feeling of the smaller clenching down on him, fantasizing about how it’ll be like to drill into that. “Can’t wait to feel you, tight and just for me. All for me.”


“Please, Ch— please, ah—”


Chanyeol bites his lip. “Quit being a child, and say my name, Baek. Fucking say it like you mean it.” He thrusts his fingers inside ruthlessly, touching everywhere except the spot Baekhyun practically needs him to touch. He moans loudly, looking like the exact definition of a complete wreck, eyebrows raised and furrowed, mouth hanging open slightly as beautiful sounds tumble out continuously.


Stopping abruptly, the taller leans in close and hisses in his ear. “Why are you so goddamn stubborn? If you don’t say it, I’m not going to fuck you, and you know we both want it badly, so do us a favor and let me wreck you the way you want me to.”


Baekhyun shuts his eyes in pure embarrassment, cheeks flushing as his actions do the complete opposite— he whines loudly while he rocks back on Chanyeol’s thick fingers. It’s true, he does want more. This isn’t enough for him, and he’d do anything to get the real thing deep inside.


He must’ve taken too long in Chanyeol’s opinion, because suddenly his legs are being grabbed and split open harshly, voice dropping down two octaves more than usual. “Guess I’ll just fuck it out of you, then.”


And at that statement, he enters the black-haired slowly, careful to let him adjust, but also to secretly make sure he feels him everywhere. Both groan from the addictive feeling, and Baekhyun’s hands shoot up to claw at Chanyeol’s biceps, leaving behind angry lines and crescent-shaped marks. He thinks he’s bound to cry again, but this time, because of the overwhelming atmosphere and how it feels being full like this.


And the older isn’t even all the way in yet.


“Never would I have thought that we’d come to do this,” Chanyeol murmurs, each kiss sweet as honey as he plants them on the panting boy’s neck below him. Steadily, he pushes all the way in until he’s bottomed out. Being the gentleman he is, he fights the urge to go crazy, keeping as still as he could.


However, that doesn’t stop his hips from spazzing out randomly, unable to ignore the awaiting velvety walls. “Not that I don’t like it, no— I fucking love it, but I was confused. I knew you’ve liked me since forever, but I swore you hated me after my twenty-first birthday.”


When Baekhyun grows used to his size, he reaches up to play with his brown locks, taking some in between his two fingers and twirling them. Quietly and softly, he says as he casts his eyes to the ceiling, “I never really did hate you.”


“Really? That's a surprise,” Chanyeol spits out, eyes narrowing as he thrusts out of nowhere, gripping tightly on the insides of his thighs. Baekhyun jolts as his shoulders shake, gasping and clawing at his shoulders to definitely leave marks. “Because you gave me living hell, darling.”


“A-ah! Park, I— argh!” Chanyeol pulls out until the tip is the only part of himself inside, only to thrust back in, much deeper this time. He repeats the action, except hitting his prostate straight-on.


“Yet somehow, you and your bitch-self drew me in, and made me want you. Want you like this—” he picks up his pace, moving sharply, but not overwhelmingly fast. He wallows in every sound coming from the latter, panting and grunting when Baekhyun clenches down on him.


“Fuck, yeah.” He slips out completely, once again ignoring his protests, and flips Baekhyun over onto his stomach. He manhandled him up so he’s on his elbows with his bottom in the air. Chanyeol pinches his left cheek slightly, and Baekhyun cries out, tears falling from the pleasure and delicious sting.


“—can’t believe I’ve got the sassiest of them all to present themselves to me like this,” the older taunts, leaning in close to fit his cock between those milky globes, rutting against his gaping hole. “What a slut.”


Baekhyun shivers and moans at that, grabbing behind blindly in hopes of him getting what he wants. Chanyeol watches his restlessness, smirking, and kisses his back. Once. Twice. “I feel very honored.” He sits back and groans at the sight of Baekhyun’s soaked hole clenching on nothing, waiting to be filled.


“F-fuck! Chan… please,” the younger sobs, turning his head to the side and immediately getting attacked by the other’s lips.


“You almost said it. Say it again for me, Baek.”


Shamelessly rutting against him, Baekhyun whines for the nth time that night. “Fuck me right now! Fuck me so hard that I cry like a goddamn baby, god— please! Quit being a fucking prick, Park Chan-yeol—!”


Chanyeol chooses that moment to plunge into him, grabbing his hips to pull them back and meet his every thrust, each one reaching an impossible intensity inside. “Not what I expected, but damn, you begging without needing me to force you to do it makes this ten times better.”


Baekhyun shrieks, arms shaking before he falls on his face. Chanyeol places a large palm on his back, keeping him down and unable to arch into it. Moaning and sputtering endless curses, Baekhyun drools as he turns his head to the right to catch their reflection on the ceiling-to-floor window.


How dirty and naughty it is, the faint sight of Chanyeol looking down at him with lustful eyes as his cock slides in and out of his hole. He glances at himself, seeing his inability to shut his mouth with the slight red of his cheeks. Obscene noises fill the room of skin slapping against skin, liquid sloshing inside, and the bed creaking underneath them. The other must feel his gaze, because they make eye contact when he turns his head.


Unable to form words to explain himself, Baekhyun moans helplessly from those relentless thrusts and his killing stare. Who was this Chanyeol, and where had the other gone?


“Look at us, baby,” he whispers into his ear, breaths hot and voice deeper than what he’s used to. “Look at us sealing our fate. Look at the mess I’m turning you into. Byun Baekhyun, the little vixen who gets his way, turned into a cockslut who craves to be fucked.” Wrapping his arms around the frail boy, he forces him up and onto his knees so that his back meets his chest. With expertise and calculated movements, Chanyeol resumes his thrusting.


Each one hits his prostate dead-on, giving him waves of pleasure as he takes it all, including the annoyingly rough hands that twist his nipples left and right. “C-Chanyeol!”


Baekhyun can’t cry more tears at this given point, instead continues to scream and moan loudly, perhaps letting the whole floor know who was giving it to him good. He’s so out of it that he doesn’t realize what is coming out of his mouth, the giant seemingly feeding off of his neediness, smirking when he realizes that he really did fuck his name out of the smaller.


Deciding that they’ve had enough of this specific position, Chanyeol pulls out reluctantly, although leans against the headboard and grins in a menacing way.


“Come give yourself what you asked for, baby.”


Baekhyun crawls over, despite his limbs that scream and cry for him in protest. He whimpers as he adjusts himself to straddle his lap, heart racing from arousal and adoration when Chanyeol grips his hips carefully and helps guiding himself back in. Sinking down on his lap, Baekhyun throws his head back and almost right away, begins switching between bouncing and circling his hips.


Struggling to keep his eyes open, the smaller falls forward and continues riding his cock. “F-feels so good, ah— you’re ruining m-me, Park Chanyeol!”


The giant groans at the loud whine that turns into a scream, beginning to buck his hips up to meet his thrusts halfway. “Fuck, yeah, say my name.”


“Chanyeol! Chanyeol! Chanyeol!”


Seeing Baekhyun’s hips faltering and movement becoming more erratic, Chanyeol takes it upon himself to tighten his grip in a way that will hopefully leave bruises, and begins ramming up into him at a pace that challenges all of Baekhyun’s exes.


But who is he kidding? Park Chanyeol beats all of them to the point where they are simply amateurs, especially when it comes to being gifted in the ability to fuck his brains out.


Baekhyun claws at his chest, the friction from the taller’s abs against his cock as they fuck drive him insane, inching closer and closer to oblivion. “I-I’m close,” he manages to gasp out, shutting his eyes when the latter shows no mercy, unbothering to slow down for him at all.


“Shit—!” The amount of pleasure built up in his lower abdomen finally breaks free, and he comes harshly in ropes of white that shoot out, decorating their chests and a bit of Chanyeol’s chin. He pants to catch his high, heaving from the intensity of it all. He expects Chanyeol to finish soon after, but instead he pushes him on his back and towers over him again, cock still hard inside him.


The younger mewls from the oversensitivity, but takes it all, unable to find it in him to deny it. He’s waited for so long for this moment, and his soul seems to be firing itself away to give him the energy he needs to keep up with Chanyeol's demanding libido. Baekhyun takes his fingers to scoop up his semen, holding eye contact as he swallows his own juices.


“Shit, that’s fucking hot.” Chanyeol picks up where they left off, except this time, his thrusts grow slower, more intimate, and burn deliciously from the feeling. Baekhyun grabs him by the nape and pulls him in for a kiss, finding himself hard once again.


It’s a wondrous thing, really, to be caught up in something like this. The taller’s movements make him feel an overwhelming feeling well up inside, and he isn’t sure what to think of it. Baekhyun’s the one to pull away, throwing his head back and moaning, throat sore from all that screaming. There's a sudden change in the atmosphere like earlier when Chanyeol asked if he wanted to go all the way, although this time, it’s different.


Baekhyun feels warmth seeping through his veins, reaching his beating heart and making it soar. He stares up at the brunet, finding emotion he never thought he would find within them, but merely mirrors his gaze.


Saying nothing, Chanyeol reaches down to tug at his erection, and Baekhyun’s coming for the second time. Chanyeol follows suit, releasing inside of him with a grunt, and grinds his hips forward to prolong the feeling. It's quite a miracle as to how he doesn’t immediately collapse on the smaller. Said smaller mewls softly at the warm feeling spilling inside, catching their breath as they watch each other wordlessly, both coming down from their highs.


Baekhyun wraps his legs around Chanyeol's waist to keep him inside. He reaches up to caress his cheek, and the other leans into his touch. “... you know, the day I found out, I bawled like a child and ran away, because out of all people… me? For you? It seemed to make no sense.


“I was scared, Chanyeol. You’d always been so convinced that my cousin was for you, and… I thought that maybe, maybe, our chances were gone.”


Chanyeol, although seemingly exhausted, plants kisses on his forehead, nose, lips, and then his neck, tracing the phoenix there. “I’ve told you before, but my parents never once told me what I'd feel when I’d meet my soulmate. They wanted me to experience the feeling myself, and so when I met you and Woo for the first time back at the cafe, I felt a trace of something. I wasn’t sure what it was, though.”


He reaches down to smooth out his hair, and brushes the stray ones that fall over his eyes, uncaring of how drenched it is from their dirty activities. Baekhyun watches his every move with a quivering lip. “And then when I saw you on your birthday, you came to the shop— I felt it. The overwhelming wave of emotions that are all too familiar, the burning of my mark, only to see you run. But… I was dumb, Baek. I didn't know then, either.”


Tears that seemed impossible to fall again, fall, and Baekhyun stares up at him with those damned stars, biting his lip as he gives him a small smile. Chanyeol can’t help himself. He swoops down and leaves a long, chaste kiss on his lips, wiping his tears with his thumb.


“And that day on the balcony, I swear I felt so lost. I made you cry, too. I really am a dick.” They both chuckle, and a moment of silence passes between them. Nothing needs to be said, for they speak with their eyes, glimpsing into one another’s souls as their heartbeats sync. Baekhyun feels it before even seeing it— the familiar thinness of pure gold, a string so mesmerizing and beautiful connecting their hearts.


“Yeol, look.”


The power of it is present, for it shines to its full extent, coming up like an explosion of waves and stars like no other. They’re forced to shut their eyes tight at the growing brightness, basking in the euphoric feeling— together. Deeming it safe enough to look again after a bit, Baekhyun cracks his eyes open to see Chanyeol looking at him already.


Eyes as blue as his mark, there’s a specific touch of beauty that enchants him, showing his soul in ways that you’d never expect to see.


“Baek, it—” his eyes must be amber like his mark, then.


“The bond,” Baekhyun whispers to confirm for them, holding his soulmate close. “Chanyeol.” He bites his inner cheek, and decides to go for it.


His walls are forever broken down, and he won’t have to build them up again. Baekhyun’s falling down this endless tunnel, twirling ‘round and ‘round as his heart dances. The phoenix on his neck no longer burns, instead, it feels euphorically pleasing. Intertwining their hands, he says what he’d been dying to say since the first time he saw him. “I understand if you can’t say it back, but… Chanyeol, for so many years, I've loved you endlessly. And still now, I love you. So much.”


Chanyeol smiles softly for him. For them. For their blooming love. Then, as the colors fade, the lights still shine in their eyes. The taller leans in close, beautiful tears of his own falling on that pretty face below, making him whisper, in a voice so soft:


“Jet-black-haired, ‘love your smile, did you know?”


Baekhyun giggles, blushing lightly at the recitation.


“You’re so beautiful, baby.” Chanyeol cradles his face, voice cracking at the end as he bows his head to not let anymore tears fall on him. When he feels small hands hugging him close to his neck, the older cries and wraps his arms around him, holding on as tight as he can.


“I’m not going to run this time,” Baekhyun kisses the crown of his head lovingly. “I promise.”





____



Waking up to exactly forty-three messages, fifty missed calls, and forty-seven voicemails all from the same person should have been enough of a headache for Baekhyun. Especially when he made the mistake of playing one of them, only to have the sounds of Jungwoo’s screeching fill the room rapidly. He shut it off frantically, ears bleeding from such a tormented thing. The pain in his lower back said a lot as well, and peeling off the covers to reveal the constellation of marks across his body made him giggle.


He also should’ve screamed at the fact that he was completely naked and struggled to recognize his surroundings at first— however, nothing will compare to how he somehow wasn’t shocked the second he turned around, seeing a shadow looming over him.


“Hey, Yeol,” Baekhyun whispers into the night with squinty eyes still heavy with fatigue. His tone is nonchalant and calm, acting as though this were a regular occurance. What’s even more impressive, is the fact that he isn’t bothered at all by the slight possibility of him being terribly wrong on his assumption. If he gets murdered by some burglar, then that’ll be rather unfortunate.


“Jesus, what time is it?”


The shadow moves into his view, and the side of Baekhyun’s mouth creeps up. “It’s four in the morning, what could you possibly want?” His tone is obviously teasing as he reaches up to grab the drawstrings of his hoodie, tugging him close. When he doesn’t receive any reaction but a frown and furrowed brows, the smaller mirrors him and reluctantly lets go.


“What’s wrong?”


Chanyeol cards his fingers through his brown locks, plopping down at the edge of the bed opposite to him, eyes finding his own through the reflection of the window. (The very window that Baekhyun shamelessly looked at as he was being hammered into from behind).


The younger huffs, because this happened just a few hours ago, and now the older can’t even talk to him anymore. “Chanyeol?”


“Baekhyun, I need you to be honest,” Chanyeol murmurs, shoulders visibly tense as he says this all. “Be clear as that window, because either I’m overthinking, or maybe this is all full of shit and Junmyeon pep talks are shit too and I’m shit myself and maybe you really are going to tell me to forget about this tomorrow and we’ll act as we did before and—”


Standing up on the bed with a wince as he uses the wall to steady himself, Baekhyun’s eyes are wide and full of hurt. The taller watches him with his back turned. “What? What are you talking about?”


Chanyeol flinches. “I— were you… drunk, like at all?”


“Drunk?” Baekhyun throws his head back and laughs, throwing his hands in the air. “Are you kidding me? Do I fucking look drunk to you?” He awkwardly limps across the mattress, ignoring the way he sinks with every step and of the burning in his lower-half. “Do you think I stuttered when I told you I loved you?”


Chanyeol turns, then, looking up to meet his gaze. The latter is surprised to see the fierceness of his eyes, taking a step back as he purses his lips together.


“Come here,” he hesitates, patting the space next to him. It’s no shocker that Baekhyun complies immediately, rushing to sit next to him as if it’s the most natural thing to do. They don’t embrace each other, but they sit close enough to touch shoulders if either one of them moves an inch. Slouching, Chanyeol’s leg bounces moderately.


“Junmyeon told me to call him if I thought something was going wrong— fifteen minutes after you fell asleep, I just… I freaked out, you know? I was scared to death that you’d wake up and take one good look at me before telling me to forget this all happened. And no, I didn’t think you were drunk. I just…”


Baekhyun hums. “But would you want me to forget?” He tilts his head to peer at him, hands fidgeting despite knowing the answer already. Chanyeol looks at him intensely, making the shorter remember why he’s so sore.


“No,” he responds, not skipping a beat, voice sharp and firm.


“Exactly. Never will I ever go this far with you just to leave you hanging, Yeol. Remember what I said?” Baekhyun takes one of his pretty fingers and draws circles on his arm. Smiling softly, he rests his head on his lover’s shoulder comfortably, inwardly cooing at the way he hears Chanyeol’s breath hitch. “I’m not running this time. I want to be yours, just as much as I know you want me to.”


The older wraps an arm around him, squeezing slightly. “Baekhyun, I don’t know how long it’ll be, but I hope you know that I’m going to fucking fall in love with you, and once I do, I’ll tell the whole world about it. I'll be so bad that you’ll beg me to shut up, but I won't listen. Ever. Besides…” Chanyeol plays with his hair.


“... I’m falling quite fast, and I hope you catch me.”


“I don’t know, you’re pretty heavy.” They both laugh, but once it’s over Baekhyun and Chanyeol watch each other wordlessly through their reflections once again, speaking without any words needed. The smaller pouts, sticking his tongue out.


“I want to tell you to take your time, but don’t make me wait a whole lifetime. I’m impatient.”


“I know, don’t you worry about a single thing,” Chanyeol kisses his ear, saying softly, “I’ll be making love to you faster than you even realize it.” This earns him a punch to the stomach, and a giggle that clenches his heart in the simplest way possible.


“Ugh, don’t promise that, because then I’ll start craving you more often.”


Chanyeol smirks, hands traveling down to the swell of his bare bottom, groping it. “Bold of you to assume that I won’t crave that ass of yours— too tempting for me to pass up.” He receives a weak moan, and that is how Baekhyun finds himself gasping for the nth time underneath Chanyeol that night, both lost in their own world as the taller gives him his all, translated through intimate touches and sweet nothings.


“Baekhyun?” The man asks the black-haired as he wavers between being sane and still being on cloud nine, unable to take his eyes off of the angel next to him. Said angel lets out a melodic hum that is soft and showcasing of his satisfaction.


“Yes?”


Taking a deep breath, Chanyeol smiles so wide that Baekhyun can’t help but poke the dimple that appears. “I just wanted to say your name, ‘s all.” The chuckle he elicits from him makes him sigh, hugging him so close that he feels Baekhyun’s breath fanning his face, the smile never once faltering.


“Chanyeol?”


“Hm?”


The shorter doesn’t respond, and simply pecks his lips, shutting his eyes tight. Chanyeol assumes this means he should get to sleep as well, and begins to see black only to hear the softest words that will forever be stamped across his heart, more prominent than the soulmark on his neck, or his eyes that sparkle when he looks at him.


“Thank you.”


Although they are simple words, sometimes even a single word or two could mean more than a whole speech, or anything else in the whole entire world. Chanyeol, relishing in the way he gets to hold his soulmate, falls asleep with a connected heart, each and every thought about Byun Baekhyun only as the words seem to echo just for him.





⋆⋆⋆



The man blindly holds his arms out wide, basking in his surroundings. It’s effortlessly blissful, to be like this, allowing himself to loosen up completely. He digs his toes into the warm, crumbling sand, allowing some to spill onto his feet. The intense smell of the air that’s been touched with saltwater and seaweed travels its way into his nostrils. To be honest, the scent makes his nose scrunch up, but there’s something about it that brings him comfort as he reminisces about his younger days.


This very place— where they once went with friends, they’ve come back as just the two of them.


Beaming, Baekhyun sighs in contentment and wraps his arms firmly around himself. A cool breeze ruffles his hair, but he doesn’t mind. Instead, he opens his eyes to gaze out onto the horizon, quietly admiring the sunset-colored sky and the way the sea continues, stretching further than what he can see. It reminds him of where he’s come in his life, and how far he’s truly gotten.


No, the black-haired isn't the richest man, nor is he living the most perfect life. He doesn’t find millions of dollars on the streets, and he doesn’t have children of his own. He lives with his cousin and said cousin’s soulmate, along with his own lover, as well.


But alas, he has never been happier than the way he is today. Out of the twenty-five years of his life, Baekhyun’s felt more emotions than he can ever name; he’s rolled his eyes at sappy movies, laughed until tears at jokes that weren’t even funny, screamed at little things, shouted at inanimate objects, and has cried until he couldn’t anymore. But most importantly, Byun Baekhyun has hurt for a man he’d think about constantly, a man who haunted his dreams and his entire existence, the same exact person that has promised to be good to him.


And for Baekhyun, waking up everyday in his arms is enough. Seeing him smile, laugh, moan, shout, sob— everything… just knowing he’s been blessed to have someone to cherish who loves him equally as much, it’s just enough for the petit male. Actually, it’s more than what he could ever ask for.


Bringing the camera close to his face, Baekhyun turns around to snap a picture of his lover sleeping on a pink towel, but said lover is no longer there. A small basket is the only thing in his place, and the other huffs. He must be using the bathroom. He doesn’t take the device away, and instead busies himself by taking pictures of the wonderful ocean and of the darkening sky above.


The sound of someone singing grasps his attention, and Baekhyun uses the camera to look for the source. A voice that’s deep and charming, similar to the sweetness of a single drop of honey, fills his ears. Park Chanyeol’s hands strum his guitar as he sits in the middle of a candlelit half-circle, eyes trained on him as he sings what Baekhyun will never, ever forget.


you’re like the stars in the night sky,

you remind me if the moon, the sun,

the painting on the horizon,


jet-black-haired,

‘love your smile,

did you know?


The smaller is entranced, unable to snap a photo like he intended to, feeling himself falling once more for the person who makes his heart soar. He hangs onto their story, grasping it in his mind, helplessly making his way over to him with wide eyes.


my soul shines just for you,

and only you,

“everything,” you said that night,

can i be your definition of everything?


Baekhyun's breath hitches when Chanyeol sets down his guitar to take his hand, tugging him to lie beside him, arms immediately hugging him securely, safely, and promisingly. He finds himself tearing up, wondering what he’d done to deserve this. To deserve Park Chanyeol, the sunlight in his life, the person who’d take his heart out to help his own beat, the gem who shines when he can’t find it in himself to do so—







Park Chanyeol, his soulmate.







Park Chanyeol, his love.







Park Chanyeol.







The older’s eyes trail down to see the faint mark he gave him during the last time they made love, only to press his lips against it. Wordlessly, Baekhyun watches him move upwards where their bond is displayed on the left side of his neck, the fusion of a breathtaking phoenix with glittering stars. He kisses the soulmark that appeared back when they’d bonded at twenty-three, softly. Once. Twice. Thrice.


“I've always dreamt of this,” Chanyeol muses, propping himself up with his elbow as he uses his right hand to brush the hair out of Baekhyun’s face. “Of having my soulmate here by my side. I know you’re always telling me how you don’t deserve me, but darling, we deserve each other. I wasn't born to meet you, no, I was brought into this world to live.”


Chanyeol presses his lips against his forehead, and Baekhyun shuts his eyes. “But as an award for living, the universe brought me the person who’d make me want to shine just for them, and only them.” The smaller hears him shifting, although tells himself not to look just yet, relishing in the sound of the low timbre of his voice.


“Baby, I promise to choose you everyday. I promise to hold you close and love you dearly, sincerely, and however else I possibly can until my heart gives out.” Baekhyun peeks through his left eye, only to snap his other one open when he sees what’s before him.


Chanyeol is on one knee, holding a ring so beautiful that glints as the moon reflects off of it, tears rolling down his face. “But in the end, it’ll always be worth it. Every fight, tear, and drop of blood… Byun Baekhyun, you are my definition of everything. I know that this is just an extra step that barely anyone takes these days, but I want to take that step with you. Together. With my soulmate, my everything.”


Baekhyun's heart has never felt so full, trembling hands taking his lover’s. “And so, baby, will you—” he never gets to finish his sentence, because the other’s hands are flying up to cup his face, kissing him breathless.


“I-I’m yours, Yeol,” he sobs when he pulls back, only to be attacked by the pair of lips he’s grown to love.


And this, this is enough to satisfy the roughest storm, to warm the coldest heart, and to anchor any lost soul. This is what it means to live, to find your purpose and to cherish it. It doesn’t matter how old you are, who you are, or what you look like. Whether it’s someone or something, once you find what makes you— you, don’t you dare let it slip away from your grasp. Don’t lose it before it’s too late, although, if you need time, take it.


The things we were truly meant to love somehow always find their own way back to us.


And perhaps that’s how it is for Byun Baekhyun and Park Chanyeol, two soulmates who live in a world in which they thought they’d never love each other. Life continues to prove them wrong, though, and laying on Chanyeol’s chest as he listens closely to his heart beat, left finger wearing a piece of their love proudly, Baekhyun finally understands.


Although it’s an ambiguous word, he’s found his own meaning for it.


Everything.





– fin.