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In hindsight, a cramped seat on a plane going eight hundred kilometres per hour probably wasn’t the best place to catch up on sleep. Which is why Chanyeol can’t be blamed when it takes three of Kyungsoo’s pokes for him to wake up. “Your Highness,” his advisor’s dry voice says, in that tone that makes the title sound more like you hopeless, hopeless being, “I have someone to introduce you to.”

“Bluh?” Chanyeol says back intelligently.

Kyungsoo looks like he’s trying very hard not to roll his eyes, if only because he’s in the presence of modern Korean royalty. Not like he hasn’t known Chanyeol since he was a snotty teenaged prince anyway. “We’ve landed, Your Highness. And I’d like to introduce you to someone, if you don’t mind.”

“Oh.” Chanyeol blinks the haziness out of his eyes. “Sure.”

“This is Byun Baekhyun, your new head bodyguard.”

Chanyeol looks up and stands. Then he looks down. Way down.

“Wow,” is the first thing he thinks to blurt. “You’re really short for a bodyguard.”

The man in front of him just lets out a surprised cough. Beside him, there’s the distinct sound of Kyungsoo’s hand coming up to slap at his forehead, but Chanyeol’s too caught up in staring to pay any attention.

That is, until he realizes what he’s said at the same time the man tilts his head. Chanyeol flushes. “I mean—”

“I can assure you, Your Highness,” Byun Baekhyun says politely. “I’m more than capable of protecting your safety.”

As far as first impressions go, it’s not the worst one Chanyeol’s ever made. That would go to the time he accidentally threw his bowl of seaweed soup at the Prime Minister’s wife, but as it stands, he ducks his head in embarrassment anyway. “Of course,” he says meekly. “It’s an honour to meet you.”

When he looks up again, Baekhyun is studying him. His eyes are sharp and amused and maybe the tiniest bit teasing.

“The pleasure is all mine.”

His voice is so smooth, all honey and chocolate, and oh, Chanyeol realizes. I’m doomed.

Baekhyun gets to prove his worth exactly two hours into his new job when a band of masked men tries to kidnap the Crown Prince at the airport. With guns. While yelling “Everyone hands up!” like they’re in a bad crime show.

That isn’t even the problem, though. The problem is that Baekhyun kicks a pistol out of someone’s hand with grace that’d put a figure skater to shame. The problem is Baekhyun throwing a man over his shoulder like he weighs nothing at all. The problem is the look in Baekhyun’s eyes when he pins the last criminal down, dark and intense and kind of sexy—

Chanyeol bonks his head on the suitcase he’s using as a shield. “My life is over,” he groans.

“Well, yeah, it kind of almost was,” his cousin Sehun says snippily, from where he’s crouched behind a metal detector. “You really owe your new guy over there. What did you say his name was again?”

“Byun Baekhyun.”

Sehun peeks his head out and nods approvingly. “He has a great ass.”

Chanyeol just groans again.

Having a bodyguard he finds terrifyingly hot isn’t the most inconvenient thing in the world, Chanyeol thinks. It’s not like he spends all his time drooling over Baekhyun or anything, or sneaking into the gym to watch Baekhyun train instead of doing his own workouts. Chanyeol’s just… distracted sometimes. Or a lot of the time.

But really, it’s not his fault, because Baekhyun’s job means he’s pretty much within a twenty-meter radius of Chanyeol at any given moment - which would already be distracting enough without the bonus of him being Chanyeol’s exact fucking type.

Chanyeol may be royalty, but he’s also only human and so, so screwed.

It all comes to a peak on a hot summer day. Chanyeol’s walking through a sectioned-off street in rehearsal for a charity parade when Baekhyun tenses, grabs his arm, and pulls him behind a hedge. “Did you hear that?”

“Hear what?” Chanyeol asks, and is answered by a noise that sounds suspiciously like a distant gunshot. He blanches. “Oh.”

“Sounds like there’s a disturbance nearby. We’re going to have to stay here until I can confirm it’s safe.” Baekhyun looks at him, contemplative. “Your Highness?”

“Yeah?”

“It’s dangerous, so get on your knees.”

What. Chanyeol opens his mouth then closes it. “I’m the Crown Prince,” he ends up saying, weakly.

Baekhyun arches an eyebrow. “Okay, Crown Prince, get on your knees.”

There’s something about the way he says it - half command, half challenge - that makes Chanyeol slowly obey, sinking to the ground even as his cheeks burn. Like this, he’s about face-level with Baekhyun’s thighs. It’s a ridiculously compromising position. Chanyeol’s pretty sure making the heir to the throne pop a boner is breaking every single part of bodyguard etiquette, but Baekhyun doesn’t seem affected at all as he speaks into his earpiece.

Eventually, he hums and looks down. “Just a truck backfiring. Sorry, you can get up now.”

There’s a glint in Baekhyun’s eyes. Chanyeol makes a noise of protest. “You totally did that on purpose!”

“I don’t know what you mean, Your Highness,” Baekhyun says, but the quirk to his mouth gives him away.

Chanyeol stares in speechlessness. Oddly enough, there’s something about how Baekhyun says the title, too. It doesn’t sound like a joke or an exasperated sigh; actually, with the playful edge to his voice, it kind of sounds like a secret.

Maybe this is his move, then. The first play. The surefire maneuver. The knight’s jump across the chessboard towards the king, waiting for an answering step.

Maybe it’s Chanyeol’s turn now - and he’s always been competitive.

So Chanyeol stands, sends a mental prayer to his blue-blooded ancestors, and leans down to close the gap.