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 i.

 

“what do you miss the most when it comes to exo?”

 

it is a simple question; something he should have looked forward to, given that he’s been in the industry for twelve years. he should have known how these kinds of interviews worked.

 

but as soon as he hears it, he freezes, his tongue feels heavy in his mouth. he expects a warm hand to find its way on his thigh or back, to give him support, but it never comes. of course, there is no baekhyun or junmyeon or kyungsoo beside him who would have done that for him.

 

“huh,” he trails off, eyes quickly sweeping through the cameras pointing towards him as if he’s looking for those familiar faces to appear behind them.

 

his members, who mean everything to him. thousands of thoughts and memories cloud his mind and his heart gradually plummets.

 

“everything,” he says. from the warm glances to those welcoming arms he would walk into whenever he would feel like it. he misses the protective tones he has heard for the past years, also the teasing ones he listened to growing up. he misses those smiles he has witnessed, those occasional hair ruffles, and them saying how he worked hard, the way they would dote on him. the feeling of being the youngest. he misses everything.

 

it has been easy to keep that child inside him alive when he is around them, with the way they treat him, to be the youngest of the group. now that he has no hyungs to lean onto, it feels like he has to grow up, to stand on his own. alone and cold, with no comforting smiles or warm touches.

 

“i miss everything i had when i was in exo,” he says, no idea how he makes eye-contact with the camera as he speaks. he knows they might watch it. they promised they would, and that is why guilt gnaws at his skin. because no one asked him to miss them. they still say nothing has changed between them but only sehun, only sehun knows what has become worse. and it’s all on him.

 

it’s all on him that he chose to distance himself.

 

then he remembers why he opted for that option. he remembers a certain pair of eyes, eyes that he used to love, still does, and the familiar feeling comes back to him, ache grips his heart with its icy fingers, and sehun forgets to breathe a little.

 

again, he has no other choice but to put that distance—because he wants to be selfish for once and wants to put his sanity before others’ feelings. perhaps he doesn’t regret it as much as he thought he would.

 

he mindlessly listens to the host moving on to the other questions. he wishes he had read the script when his manager told him to do so back there in the waiting room. but the silence and emptiness that loomed around him hasn’t been something he was used to and he had been dwelling on it too much to pay him attention. he had been too confident with years of experience working with the media that he thought he could handle any type of questions. he was so wrong.

 

“is there something that 30 year old oh sehun regrets?”

 

another question that takes him by surprise because he hasn’t prepared anything. he cannot just give an ambiguous answer. he cannot think too long with the camera in his face. so he says without thinking too much. 

 

“nothing. i regret nothing.”

 

he thinks maybe he would regret one thing—having a heart that loves too much when he isn’t supposed to because it only causes him pain. maybe he wouldn’t really regret it. he doesn’t know.

 

“what is exo to you?”

 

he thinks about all those times he got to perform on the stage and all the love he got from all around the world. he remembers some fans telling him he comforted them and how precious he is to them. he thinks about his family being proud of him. he thinks about how he saw jongin dance on his first day as a trainee and how he wanted to be that cool too, and how the passion for dance grew throughout those years. he thinks about his members he got to meet, how he got to earn their love, their support and how they got a permanent place in his heart.

he thinks about chanyeol.

 

“if i can, i would relive it, every second of it, with the same people.”

 

 

 

===

 

 

 

on the last day of a march, sehun stands with eleven other boys, ready to enter the grand stage where their debut showcase is going to happen, everyone with mixed feelings; anxiety, fear, nervousness, excitement, joy.

 

sehun rehearses his introduction once again, even after repeating it for like twenty times already. his voice is still shaky, and the growing chatter from the crowd outside isn’t helping at all. a hand lands on his shoulder, and he sees chanyeol behind him, the one who is supposed to stand on his right. “you okay?” he yells into his ears and earns a big nod. sehun almost tears up at how ridiculous the elder’s hair is.

 

out of blue, he remembers all those times he wanted to give up.

 

there are times he used to stay back during dance classes because he was afraid he’d mess up the steps again, not wanting to be the subject of hasty glances sent towards him or to be yelled by the trainer. there used to be times when he saw jongin dance and thought he would never be that good. he once cried alone after junmyeon, who was the senior trainee, told him to work hard if he really wants to debut. there used to be times he felt exhausted and wanted to give up.

 

he used to hide in one of the empty rooms in the building and contemplate if it was really worth—becoming an idol. the thoughts that followed would always mess his mind. he would skip dinner to avoid running into junmyeon or jongin or the other trainees. he used to feel like a fish out of water, as if he wasn’t qualified enough to be a performer.

 

if there was one thing that made him stay, it would be chanyeol and his way with words.

 

it’s always chanyeol who found him, always managed to find him, no matter where he would hide. he would barge into the room saying how long he was looking for him and he would buy him something he would eat. mom says you shouldn’t think too much with an empty stomach, he would say.  and he would stay until sehun finished everything (sometimes he would threaten that he would tell junmyeon) and he would listen to whatever sehun had to say.

 

sehun never knew if it was because he had eaten or because he had voiced out his thoughts to chanyeol, but by the end of the day, he would feel lighter, and he could see a little bit light just in front of him.

 

chanyeol would just keep it simple. “sehun-ah, sometimes you need to put a little faith in yourself. if this is something you want to do, then you should fight everything, even if it includes yourself. with a little self-confidence, you might surprise yourself.”

 

after all those years of hard work, after all those sleepless nights he used to practice and after all those times he chose to stay instead of giving up, here he is. his first stage. the back of his eyes sting a little and he turns towards chanyeol. “i made it, didn’t i?”

 

chanyeol smiles with a little too much pride and yells, “yes and this is just the beginning!”

 

on cue, the host of their showcase calls them on stage. the crowd cheers louder, if that is even possible. they go on to the stage and sehun holds his breath in upon seeing the crowd. 

 

when asked to introduce themselves, their leader, the one who sehun used to be so scared of but who he respects the most now, kim junmyeon leads them, “we are one! we are exo!”

 

those twelve nervous yet excited voices resonate into sehun’s ears and he finds his smile getting wider. he is glad that he didn’t give up anywhere, for he is where he feels he should be, in front of that crowd, with the rest of them and shouting out their chant junmyeon made for the team just a few days ago.  

 

when his turn comes, he inhales a deep breath, and feels the tremble as he introduces himself to the world for the first time, “i am exo-k’s maknae, oh sehun.”

 

 

 

 

being a new boy group, sehun loses the sense of time between work, practice and sleep, or the lack of it.

 

sehun never thought being an idol was easy but he never realised it can get overwhelming at times, both in good and in it’s worse sense. every time he hears someone shouting his name from the crowd, his heart races, every single time, he feels a sense of pride. seeing the support his group gets, he thinks about how he wants to do well, work hard and deliver everything as best as he can.

 

it has its downs too; from the pushing of crowd in airports when fans get too excited, forgetting their boundaries (some do that on purpose and they can’t freely express their displeasure as they have to keep their image) to dealing with the scary fans that go to the extent of following the members to places they aren’t even supposed to be. they always have to be on guard, have to be well aware of their surroundings.

 

in no time, the members become people he would call his brothers—they grow closer to his heart and he takes an important place in theirs. they become people he prays for every night. they become the people who he shed tears in a broadcast while being asked to tell something to them.

 

with every passing day, sehun sees how each other grows closer, that the relationship from a mere business arrangement transforms into close friendships, into brotherhood— a family . sehun sees how he gets emotionally attached to them.

 

sometimes the thought of what could have happened if he wasn’t scouted at the tteokbeokki stall and if he never made it into exo scares him because he feels like he wouldn’t have felt belonged anywhere else. exo starts to feel like home—a place where he can feel belonged to.

 

it feels like their showcase happened yesterday. he blinks and it’s already the night they stand on the stage to receive their first ever daesang, but he doesn’t knows it is going to be first of many more that has to come. he feels so proud that night as he sees their seniors applauding for them with their fans. cheers fill his ears, and he hears junmyeon talking but he cannot register the words, with all the blood rushing to his ears. it takes some time to process everything.

 

and for a brief second, when he catches chanyeol’s eyes, slightly moistened but his smile ever so bright, everything feels real. we did it, he mouths and sehun nods once, his heart feels it could burst at any moment.

 

when they get off the stage, chanyeol locks him in an embrace. “we did it,” sehun repeats, his voice cracking at the end but they both laugh as they part from each other. chanyeol goes to jongin next with a last pat on sehun’s back and the feeling of his hand lingers for so long. as usual, sehun pushes the foreign feeling to the back of his mind as he finds baekhyun to cling to whose eyes are red from the tears earlier.

 

 

 

that night when the members gather in chanyeol and kyungsoo’s room to celebrate, sehun takes a look at everyone, watches how everyone relishes in the sense of achievement. jongin tears up a little as the leaders talk about how proud they are, how they didn’t think they would get it tonight and kyungsoo smiles a little too wide from baekhyun’s shoulder before he answers yixing who asks if his ankle is alright now. yixing still massages gently at the spot where kyungsoo is hurt.

 

that makes sehun all warm inside, what they all have for each other, the fondness they grew for each other and it makes sehun think, maybe the award isn’t the only thing he feels grateful for that night, it’s also the presence of other 11 members who are with him, to share the same emotions despite having their own differences.

 

it’s exo that makes him feel so proud that night.

 

ii.

 

sehun doesn’t know what he was thinking when he asks kyungsoo whether he can come over for food when the latter calls to check up on him. all he had to do was ask if he had eaten and sehun suddenly missed his cooking. kyungsoo is never the one to say no and he happened to be free that day.

 

but he regrets it now, when kyungsoo doesn’t try to hide the curious look on his face.

 

“i think i have eaten your food the most next to my mom’s,” he says in an attempt to distract kyungsoo from whatever he is thinking. “it never gets old.”

 

he hears kyungsoo hum but his gaze doesn’t waver under those thick rimmed glasses. sehun tries to focus on the rice and beef soup in front of him but kyungsoo’s intense staring scares him, as if he’s looking right through him. “can you not stare at me like that?”

 

the elder shrugs, “i am just thinking.”

 

sehun looks into his eyes and he knows what’s gonna come next. he chose the wrong day to miss kyungsoo’s cooking.

 

“i watched the radio interview.”

 

of course, he did. they all would have watched it by now.

 

he wouldn’t have agreed to that interview if it wasn’t for junmyeon’s constant pestering. “you haven’t made a public appearance for six months, the fans would want to know how you are doing,” he said and sehun thought it wouldn’t cost much to do one interview. he might have been wrong.

 

“and?” sehun asks, feigning nonchalance.

 

“junmyeon hyung is still holding up the offer.”

 

sehun looks down at his food, putting on a smile. “oh no,” he says, earning a chuckle from the elder.

 

“oh no? do you hate the idea of working with him that much?” here they go again.

 

he shakes his head, putting down the chopsticks. “it’s not that i hate the idea. it’s just i don’t want to now—haven’t we talked about this already, hyung? it’s just i want to rest a little. take a break from the cameras, spend some time with my family.”

 

on the day sehun got discharged from the military, an article about junmyeon’s new agency got published. the next day, they gathered for their post-enlistment ritual dinner and sehun dropped the bomb.

 

it had been a shock to everyone when he said he won’t join junmyeon’s agency immediately. i think i need a break, he had reasoned while he tried to avoid looking at a certain someone. it had been difficult to make junmyeon believe he wasn't pulling a joke on him. he had to emphasize again (that he needs a break) for them to believe him. still junmyeon kept asking him every two months if he had changed his mind.

 

the rest of them had already decided what their roles under junmyeon’s agency were going to be except chanyeol and yixing. while yixing had his own company in china, chanyeol said that he would just make songs for now and that he can work for both of them.

 

now minseok is a lead in a musical and kyungsoo is filming two movies at the same time. baekhyun, jongdae and jongin had each released an album and jongin just started his world tour. kyungsoo had been telling him about how baekhyun and jongdae were asked if they wanted to be hosts of a nightly radio broadcast. sehun thinks it would suit them. 

 

kyungsoo stares at him, something shifting in his gaze, though his voice sounds the same, as if sehun would give in if he pushes in a little more, “is that the real reason?”

 

they have known each other for almost fifteen years and it would be surprising if he hasn’t bought that. but knowing him for that long, sehun also has the advantage to convince him. “why else would i refuse his offer?”

 

kyungsoo remains silent while looking at him, as if he is picking out the reason why sehun would say no. he won’t come up with anything. because he doesn’t know. they’d never know.

 

and sehun intends to keep it that way.

 

 

 

he asks kyungsoo for a selca and sends it to jongin, just to mess with him. he knows that jongin will do the same once he finishes his tour. sixteen hours later jongin sends that screenshot to the group chat, adding a few crying emoticons and sehun sees chanyeol having read the messages even before himself. chanyeol replies under the picture jongin attached, that he can cook well too, as if to remind everyone how competitive he can get.

 

everyone leaves him on read and so does sehun.

 

 

 

===

 

 

 

chanyeol isn’t so hard to like.

 

that guy wears his heart on his sleeve and shows so much love that sometimes it gets to be too much—it took sehun so long to get used to it and react according. he is always hyper and always brings laughter wherever he goes. he is so confident in himself and still he doesn’t hesitate to throw genuine compliments at others. chanyeol is a person you could warm up to almost immediately, even if you are not a people person. chanyeol just has that charm in him.

 

sometimes it would be his silly antics that sehun is secretly growing fond of. sometimes it would be his annoying competitiveness. sometimes it would be his loud, carefree laugh that finds its way to his heart. or it would be the way he would ask him to feed the stray kittens behind their dorm because he can’t go near them.

 

it’s a blur, when and how it starts, but being around chanyeol does something to him; he notices how his eyes always finds chanyeol among the others and how everything else fades into the background, how he only sees chanyeol and nothing else. how he is aware of the way his hand always tends to reach out to the other, to hold, to feel the warmth of his cheek; to just have a touch of his skin under his fingertips.

 

sehun used to be confused with such sudden urges. he knows they are innocent and he also knows he shouldn’t feel like it—he used to feel like a kid being handed a quiz he didn’t prepare well enough for. he used to be clumsy with the new found feelings, not sure how to handle them or what to do with it. but as time passes, he learns to accept them and embrace those feelings. he is just too fond of chanyeol, something he would never let the other know.

 

when he is alone, he finds himself drowning in long thoughts and he knows , he knows he should not dare to wander deep down there, should not try to find a name for what he has been feeling but when he recalls chanyeol’s soft smile that he would offer in the early morning when they get ready for the day, something inside him twists in a way he doesn’t understand, he isn’t sure if that’s something he likes or hates to an extent it scares him.

 

during practice, he doesn’t let those thoughts find him, as he focuses on the choreography but when he catches a certain pair of eyes across the room, the world seems to stop spinning and he swallows the bubbling feeling in his throat, moving his foot one beat later.

 

then one fine afternoon, when he goes back to the dorm with jongin after being cooped up inside the practice room, practicing for hours, the first thing his ears register is chanyeol’s laugh, it catches him off guard how his heart knows it’s him even before his brain could work. sehun sees chanyeol sprawled on the floor laughing at something kyungsoo shows on his phone. it churns, his heart , out of his control and sehun isn’t sure how to stop feeling that way for chanyeol. he likes him so much that it hurts.

 

falling in love with chanyeol is even easier.

 

 

 

maybe because being too occupied with getting into terms with his feelings, he doesn’t notice the way someone else looks at chanyeol.

 

he doesn’t see how baekhyun listens to the story chanyeol said at his birthday party, something he had told them before at least hundred times, about how they first met and how there was a spark, but still baekhyun listens to every word as if it’s his first time— as if it’s something he doesn’t want to forget. he doesn’t notice the way his eyes shine that day, when he admits it is chanyeol who helped him to open up his heart on a radio broadcast. he is busy wishing the question was for him.

 

he doesn’t see how baekhyun looks at the other, as if he has been put under a spell, as if he can’t see anything that isn’t chanyeol.

 

he doesn’t see how baekhyun shies away from chanyeol’s touches when he clings onto the other members with zero hesitation. he doesn’t see the way baekhyun listens to the other, always anticipating, always wearing that half-shy smile even though chanyeol is the one he’s closest to in the group. sehun doesn’t see it.

 

until one day, he sees how baekhyun looks at chanyeol;

and everything turns into a nightmare.

 

it once again dawns upon him how easy it is to fall for chanyeol.

 

iii.

 

that one time he doesn’t join their monthly dinner because he had to drive his mom to her sister’s house, his phone beeps non-stop. he realises that the members take too many photos and text too much. surprisingly, it’s minseok and kyungsoo who do that lot— take a ton of pictures and spam the group chat. it’s amazing how they turned out to be clingier after their military service, endearingly so.

 

sehun smiles to himself as he goes through the chat room after getting back home. jongin whines about his absence and junmyeon offers another dinner for sehun (exclusive for sehun and jongin sulks at that too). he knows the dinner would have been rescheduled if not for yixing who has flown to korea just to meet them. all of them are so busy one way or another that they look forward to getting together so much, to talk about old times. everyone had become sappy and open about how they miss what they used to be.

 

sehun would be lying if he says he feels otherwise because they are like his family and they practically watched him grow up and spent their youth with each other as brothers.

 

they’d say how nothing has changed, even now when they are not exo anymore; that it's the same when they gather. the chatter, the laughs, the harmless jabs at each other and the warmth. at least that’s what they think. because they don’t see what’s wrong.

 

they don’t see how sehun would choose the farthest seat from chanyeol or how he would try to divert the topic of how he is still single. they don’t see how he has gotten sensitive, how he masks the hurt with faux indifference. they don’t notice how he’s dying inside a little every time when they all meet, the guilt of ruining something that was, and in a way, still is precious to him. they don’t see through his little pretence. 

 

they don’t see how chanyeol would act as if everything is alright between them, when it clearly isn’t. he would look at sehun and joke about how he still has his baby features, as if sehun hasn’t been ignoring his texts, as if he won’t reject all his calls. it has been god knows how long since they last talked properly and yet no one knows, not even baekhyun. sehun is good at making excuses, and chanyeol is good at covering up for the both of them. all those little white lies, they throw here and there, would rip sehun’s heart apart when they have to smile at each other when their eyes meet across the table. none of them would be real.

 

sometimes, guilt would gnaw at his heart with its cold fingers, because he has been falsely leading everyone that things are alright between them. they could stop putting up a front and tell them they aren’t on talking terms. it wouldn’t take much time. but the few hours of seeing his members laugh and talk about old days would be worth all that ache he has to go through.

 

chanyeol must have had his own reasons to play along with him. and sehun doesn’t want to think about it.

 

more than half of the chats are pictures just like what he had guessed. half of them from jongdae and junmyeon because they have a knack to capture pictures aesthetically. they really take too many pictures because sehun spends the next half an hour going through each one of them.

 

he sees the one where jongdae and minseok are talking to each other, probably not knowing junmyeon is taking a picture of them. the next one in which junmyeon plays with jongin’s hair, photo bombing yixing who stands behind them still posing for kyungsoo. the next one is baekhyun smiling brightly at the camera. and the  one after that makes sehun  stop breathing. it’s chanyeol and baekhyun holding hands, not aware of being photographed.

 

his heart grows heavy.

 

he shuts his eyes, couldn’t bring himself to stare at them without resenting how he feels inside. if he had joined the dinner, he would have looked in the other direction. he would have to take care of the way he looks at them. but now that he’s alone and his phone displays a picture of them being happy, he is scared he might feel bitter about how they turned out to be. he is scared he might have to admit to himself that it still aches seeing them in love, that he hasn’t moved on. he’s scared that his heart might deceive him, make it look like it’s chanyeol’s fault.

 

what did chanyeol even do? it’s not his fault, or baekhyun’s. it’d never be.  

 

he once again feels so lost, as if he is losing his grip over his sanity. as if he’s the fifteen year old boy who felt jealous because chanyeol hyung is close with everyone , that it’s not just him he likes to take care of. maybe he never grew up from that fifteen year old boy, not being able to move on, holding grudges for too long.

 

he’s scared he’ll never grow up. he’s scared that the time when he’ll look at them and feel genuine happiness will never come. but he believes in time. they say time will heal anything.

 

perhaps it would take time; much more time than what he thinks, perhaps there would be a day it won’t matter anymore. it won’t hurt anymore to talk to baekhyun about how lucky he is to have chanyeol. there’d be a day when he can properly look at chanyeol and think how good he has been to him. perhaps there would be a day when he’ll find it in himself to love someone else.

 

perhaps.

 

it is all those perhaps he holds onto when he opens chanyeol’s chat to text him. what do you want for your birthday? he wonders if it’s too sudden or too out of the blue but he doesn’t know any other way to make up with him. he thinks this is his way of asking chanyeol whether they can try going back to the way they once were.  

 

chanyeol reads it too soon, causing sehun to forget to breath. buy me a house, he replies and sehun lets out a sigh, giving in to the small smile that creeps on his face.

 

it’s chanyeol. chanyeol makes everything easy for him. except for the ache that follows when he recalls what kind of face chanyeol would make right now.

 

 

 

===

 

 

 

it’s the first time he writes a letter to the members. he never thought it’d be that nerve-wracking. he reads through the words as slowly as possible when in fact he just wants to get it over with because it’s sappy. looking at their faces, he already knows they won’t ever let this die.

 

he reads it by their age order and when it’s chanyeol’s turn, his heart picks up its pace and it beats against his ribcage, threatening to fall out. “also chanyeol hyung. hyung please stop joking around now. since we are all adults now. it’s sometimes irritating, hyung.” there is a lot he wanted to write to him. about all those things that makes him likeable. but sehun can’t do that. he looks at chanyeol who playfully throws a punch to the air, as if telling him he’s going to smack him.

 

“it’s a joke. i think it’s really nice to have a hyung around especially when we are tired, because hyung helps to lighten the atmosphere and helps to release tension. you’re a really really good hyung.” he reads the last part in one breath because he wants to read the next line without delaying because he thinks he’d chicken out in the end or that others might analyze the weight of the words he’s gonna say next. “i love you, hyung.”

 

and he drops the letter even before he gets to read his message for baekhyun because his hands shake too much.

 

 *

 

“what was the question?” he hasn’t been paying attention because he’s reading the comments from the fans on his phone. chanyeol has been on vlive and sehun joined because he thought it’d be fun.

 

“which one of my previous hair colors did you like the most?” chanyeol repeats the question.

 

sehun gives it a serious thought. he glances at chanyeol who is reading the comments and thinks if he should be honest. “can i be really honest?” he lets chanyeol choose it.

 

chanyeol gives him a brief questioning look, maybe wondering what’s he up to but mutters a yes. “just don’t say nothing,” he adds as a quick after thought.

 

sehun licks his lip, “i liked them all.” he braves himself to look at the other and watches a smug smile blooming on his face. chanyeol raises his hand and sehun accepts that high-five.

 

he doesn’t know what gets into suddenly and he blurts, “sometimes,” and chanyeol looks like he’s listening to him. “i just think to myself…” he pauses, wondering what the hell has he been drunk on, “that when i look at you…”—because he’s been sputtering some non-sense and it’s really dangerous—“it gives me a thrill of joy.”

 

chanyeol’s eyes get clouded and he isn’t able to say what it is but he hears him say, “go on.”

 

and the nonsense just speaks for itself. sehun’s brain to mouth filter must have been broken. “why? why do i feel this way about a guy? i also thought about this too.” or it could be just those thoughts that don’t leave him alone, clouding his head. “and um,” he thinks and thinks, not knowing where to take this, forgetting that they are in a live broadcast, “ i really don’t know.” he doesn’t know why he’s feeling like crying.

 

chanyeol just shifts a little so that only he can be seen by the fans and covers up for whatever sehun spilled, “okay, that was sehun’s crazy talking. for me, i liked the ash grey for call me baby—“ and sehun zones out.

 

chanyeol doesn’t ever bring that up. 

 

 

 

they are in the practice room, taking a break after learning the whole choreo for their new song obsession. sehun doesn’t remember how they end up challenging each other on flipping the bottle games but he finds himself filming chanyeol and baekhyun fooling around with each, seeing who could kick the bottle cap off and splashing around water on each other.

 

he watches them laugh at each other, being happy in their own bubble. as usual he ignores the pang that he is too familiar to bother with.

 

then junmyeon announces that he is going to buy wonton soup for them and sehun says he’ll pass. he doesn’t feel like eating at all, whether it is because of the comeback tension or chanyeol, he doesn’t want to think.

 

he helps in cleaning up the practice room with everyone and tries to return a joke even when he feels tired. all he wants to do now is lie down and close his eyes. at some point, he does while the members become occupied with their own things.

 

but then he hears chanyeol call his name, opens his eyes to see chanyeol crouching in front of him holding a dumpling that junmyeon ordered for them “try this,” he says with a smile that fits his face so well. sehun heart twists in a pleasing way that even if he dissipates into thin air, he wouldn’t mind.

 

he shakes his head. his heart throws a tantrum reminding how chanyeol used to practically feed him back then. sehun used to pretend that he hated that.

 

“eat it,” chanyeol insists. “you look tired.”

 

sehun wants to ask if chanyeol can read him just like that? but the possibility of that scares him to death.

 

he opens his mouth playfully as if to tease chanyeol but before he could take the chopsticks from the elder, he freezes as he notices how chanyeol’s eyes soften and how he brings the food closer to feed him. then jongin calls him to show him something and he runs to him, leaving sehun alone.

 

sehun feels like he’s nineteen all over again. 

 

iv.

 

everything between them goes downhill starting that one particular night.

 

chanyeol’s inactiveness in their group chat isn’t something to overlook. without his silly memes and funny anecdotes, it's weird for sehun to see no notifications from the exo group chat. it has been like this since the past two months. it’s because of baekhyun’s absence, everyone knows that. chanyeol had been fine at the beginning. contrary to the present state, he acted so clingy towards the members and invited them to hangout often. but after a month, he fell silent and no one dared to point it out. he hasn’t seen much of chanyeol except that one night at junmyeon's welcome dinner party  and sehun suspects if it’s only because he can’t avoid that.

 

when he brings it up to kyungsoo, expecting some kind of assurance that the man of the subject is okay, the elder only tells him to let him be because chanyeol might need some space since he’s going to start his enlistment in a few weeks.

 

sehun tries to ignore the restlessness that arises when he thinks about chanyeol and he thinks he’s holding it well but one night, when chanyeol doesn’t reply to jongin’s spam of his date with his nephew and niece, he ends up calling the other. 

 

“do you want to drink tonight, hyung?” he asks in lieu of a greeting and after a moment of silence chanyeol agrees.

 

 

 

even though there aren’t many stars that night, sehun consoles his heart with the city lights. they are currently sitting at the rooftop of chanyeol’s studio, where he happened to be when sehun called. sehun leans back to the wall they are sitting against. a cold whiff of air ruffles his hair gently yet his cheeks feel warm because of the two shots of soju he just gulped down. he looks at chanyeol who looks lost in thoughts and his second glass of soju unfinished.

 

“what’s with the long face, hyung? you look like you are going through a break-up,” he starts first, since chanyeol doesn’t show any signs of opening up.

 

chanyeol doesn’t look at him but sehun doesn’t miss the way his eyes move from the glass to the floor. he looks weary and sehun ignores the familiar pinch in his heart. chanyeol rarely shows this side of him, always wearing that toothy smile of his, always bright and now when he does, sehun feels helpless, not knowing how to coax him out of the state he is in.

 

to think that this is because of baekhyun, it awakens something—something that sehun learned to tame down a long time ago.

 

he reminds himself that it hasn’t been easy for baekhyun and chanyeol to reach where they are now, that he watched with his own eyes how they fought their own battles before they got together and the feeling simmers down, just a little. he reminds himself why he is there; to make sure chanyeol is okay.

 

“you can just say that you just miss him, you know,” sehun says, unaware of why his voice grows gentle. maybe chanyeol senses it because he sighs softly and takes a sip from his glass.

 

“i do,” he admits without much thought, “this is the longest time we have been apart ever since i met him and it feels like he’s so far away, somewhere unreachable. i haven’t felt like this even when we were seas apart.”

 

this surprises sehun. like chanyeol said, they have been apart from each other due to individual schedules and sub-unit promotions. never once did chanyeol complain aloud, neither did baekhyun. they would always find time to talk not caring about their time zones or if it’s within their country, chanyeol would drive to wherever baekhyun was at, not minding the time. it’s as if time and distance were never something that could keep them apart. this is the first time he hears something like this from chanyeol.

 

he waits for chanyeol to continue but he goes in to fill their glasses. suddenly it tastes more bitter on his tongue than before. he gulps the content and decides he should take it slow. as much he hates being sober for this talk, he wants his head to stay clear enough to make something coherent out of his messy thoughts. 

 

chanyeol continues, "i know it is just me. i just miss him so much and there are these thoughts, what ifs and what nots, messing up my head. i know this is nothing, i am just being silly but i can't help it." his shoulders seem to loosen up with each word, as if he’s placing down his burden.

 

sehun hums, eyes flicking to the sky. "hyung," he calls and stares at the black starless horizon. only when chanyeol looks at him he continues, "it's not silly. what you are feeling—" he gestures at him without really looking at him, "—is valid. it hasn't been easy for you both and if there’s a reason why you guys made it here then it would be your trust for each other. it’s still strong, and i doubt it will wither away anytime soon. so it might be cliche for me to say this, but the truth is, you are going to be okay. these two years will pass like nothing—remember how quick minseok hyung came back, it's gonna feel even quicker when you go in."

 

what kind of a lame monologue is that? thank god they are drunk because he has booze to blame for this mushy talk.

 

"plus you are gonna see him now and then, even if it’s going to be a quick meet-up, you will see him. when you do, just tell him whatever you felt when you missed him," he adds, as an afterthought.

 

for the next few seconds, it’s just the buzz of the late night of the city and nothing else but then chanyeol speaks up. "thank you, sehun.” when sehun looks at him, meeting eyes, they are no longer dim. not as bright as sehun likes them, but it is better than what it was a few minutes ago. “for being here tonight," chanyeol smiles, voice earnest.

 

sehun revels in the little pride that tickles his heart. he has made him smile.

 

chanyeol gives up with the glass and goes for drinking directly from the bottle. sehun lets him. they don’t talk further until chanyeol finishes half of the bottle.

 

"hyung." sehun knows he'd rather talk about baekhyun to revive the light in the other’s eyes than let their night die away like this. so he prepares himself for what he’s about to do to himself. "tell me, why do you love baekhyun?" the question burns his tongue a little, maybe it’s the alcohol.

 

he expects chanyeol to not miss a beat to answer but the time he takes, eyes flicking between the sky and the bottle in his hand, it feels like an eternity, "everything about him?"

 

sehun manages to let out a snort. “i expected something long, hyung. you write songs for him.”

 

chanyeol hums, wearing a nostalgic smile and sehun senses what he should expect. “remember the first day he came in?”

 

ah, of course.

 

sehun remembers it so clearly—how he heard other trainees talk about these two boys who competed against each other and gave a tough competition to each other and all the others who auditioned. how everyone was so sure that one of them might get selected and how both of them got in because they are so good.

 

sehun had been curious ever since he first heard it from kyungsoo. and chanyeol has always been excited to meet new people and make them feel comfortable around him. a trainee from bucheon, other trainees pointed to the boy who was standing at the farthest corner of the practice room, all by himself. sehun would never forget the glint he saw in chanyeol’s eyes and how he took a step forward saying “let me go talk to him.”

 

chanyeol had been the one who brought the new trainee to where sehun and kyungsoo were standing and to introduce his new friend, byun baekhyun, and the boy smiles warmly, eyes crinkling. sehun remembers how kyungsoo had already sported a smile and how he himself was getting relaxed when the boy greeted them. there was something about him, something warm and easy, something that told sehun he is going to be one of the people he’ll end up liking.

 

it didn’t take much time to see what baekhyun is really like; loud, playful, clingy, witty with words yet the most caring, humble person sehun has ever met.

 

even after learning about baekhyun’s feelings for chanyeol, even after knowing that chanyeol loves baekhyun, sehun had never had it in him to have something ill-natured towards baekhyun. he could never bring himself to hate that guy who only gave him warmth and smiles and happiness. it had never felt like chanyeol and the man he loves. it has always been chanyeol and baekhyun for him. 

 

“there were sparks,” sehun says it for him and chanyeol nods for emphasis.

 

“it’s not only the sparks, but it was how i felt scared, how i didn’t know what to say for 20 seconds,  i felt the need to look good in front of him, i felt ‘ah this person is gonna be someone special’, i felt like he would be my best friend or something but ended up finding everything i need in a person i want to spend my whole life with.”

 

this is where the burning reaches his heart and sehun resists the urge to move his hand to his chest. 

 

"your whole life, huh?"

 

"i have known him for almost half of my life already, i don’t think i can live a day being a chanyeol that doesn’t know a baekhyun." the words come out slurred at this point and sehun tries to take the bottle from his hands.

 

it is an attempt for distraction, to ease the ache that sears through his chest. but as soon as chanyeol leans back and looks at him, expectantly, as if he’s waiting for a reaction, his mouth betrays him, "marry him, hyung."

 

"should i?" it’s funny how the conversation escalates with each word and sehun wants to laugh at the ridiculousness of how it is him who asked for it. chanyeol’s shoulders droop as he says, "if only this country allows it."

 

"maybe in a decade or two."

 

sehun steals a glance at the other. chanyeol’s gaze is far away, perhaps looking into the future where there is baekhyun and sehun just wants to go home. go home and stare at his ceiling and let those numb feelings eat him up till he forgets everything. chanyeol adds, oblivious to his inner turmoil, "maybe i should just register our names somewhere where it is allowed. i always wanted to get married in barcelona."

 

"doesn’t baekhyun hyung like that place so much?" anything that would distract the topic from wedding and being with baekhyun and just baekhyun.

 

"he does, a lot. i am gonna make it a summer wedding, or a spring one. a white wedding. near the seashore, with a pretty sunset. the pictures will come out good." chanyeol just rambles at this point, without a direction to steer their conversation and sehun keeps his eyes on the cold floor, not wanting to see the look on his face.

 

when chanyeol doesn’t say anything, sehun thinks it’s his time to speak. "photos? why don’t you just hire me as your wedding photographer. you know i take pretty pictures." it is just him teasing. 

 

chanyeol falls silent, looking lost in his thoughts. sehun nudges his shoulders to wake him up from whatever trance he’s in and chanyeol looks at him with sad, a little sobered eyes.

 

"i don’t want to,” he says, looking anywhere but sehun.

 

“don’t want to what?” hire him? the wedding? don’t want to talk about this anymore?

 

chanyeol lets out a frustrated sigh and sehun has no idea where it comes from. but when chanyeol speaks, it becomes the least of his worries. “if i ever have a wedding, even if i end up inviting you, don't come, sehun. you shouldn't."

 

it feels like someone sucked out all the air out of his lungs, he forgets how to breath. he searches for any trace of playfulness in the other’s face, to see if it’s because he wanted to tease him but there’s nothing and chanyeol looks like he’s getting sober. "why… why would you say that?"

 

sehun almost doesn’t hear his reason because chanyeol speaks to himself, as if he’s speaking to himself instead of sehun. almost. "because you'd sit through everything like you are doing right now. you'd put on a smile as if watching me with baekhyun won’t break you."

 

that second, blood rushes to sehun’s head and the buzz that goes off doesn’t even let him hear chanyeol’s sentence fully. the world turns dead silent, as if it stopped, to give sehun the time to process what just left chanyeol’s mouth, to let him remember to breathe again. but sehun doesn’t get it. the more he stares at chanyeol’s glistening eyes, the more real it gets and sehun wishes the world stops for good. “how did you…” something pricks his throat and he can’t say more than that.

 

chanyeol looks as if he’s in pain. this is nothing like how he looked earlier, this is something sehun cannot bear. this look is ripping his soul apart from his body, slowly. "how could i not, sehun?” his voice cracks with every word and just at time, sehun feels the back of his eyes getting hot. “i have known you for thirteen years, sehun and you think i can’t recognise the way you look at me?"

 

sehun wants to go back, take all those things he said, because this is turning into something worse than all his nightmares combined.

 

 

it could have been five minutes. it could have been an hour. sehun doesn’t know how long they sit like that; him trying to wrap the fact that this is real and chanyeol gripping his hand tight and apologising to him.

 

“i am sorry, sehun-ah, i really am.”

 

but sehun doesn't understand .

 

"how long?" is all he asks. that’s all he wants to know. he doesn’t want to know why he is sorry.

 

"sometime after debut." 

 

sehun wants to hate chanyeol. he wants to curse at him. maybe break his nose twice if that is possible. but he needs answers. he wants to know why chanyeol is still there, sitting with him, talking and apologising . "if you had known it around that time, why did you… do this?"

 

chanyeol looks like he’s lost with words. and it gives sehun time to think. but not coherent enough to make sense out of it.

 

"was it fun watching me make a fool out of myself?" is all he can come up with. is that what it is? chanyeol’s eyes flash hurt and sehun wants to take those words back. ah, too much for someone who wanted to be a little selfish.

 

“i thought, maybe, maybe if i pretend like i don’t know, it would be easy for you to get over me. to move on.

 

sehun tastes bile when he hears that and his vision gets clouded. his head feels heavy out of nowhere and all he wants to do is, wake up from whatever the fuck is this.

 

  easy for me? you were making it easy for me…” he isn’t even aware of how gritted his words come out.

 

“what else do you expect me to do, pick fights with you?” perhaps it would have made sehun feel better if chanyeol grabbed his collar the moment he learned about his feelings for him. not this. this is making sehun feel sick—like he went through all those things for nothing.

 

“you could have, i don’t know, at least, told me off?”

 

“it wasn’t easy for me, sehun, not as much you think it was.” i never said it was, “say, if this had been the other way around, and you had known it all, do you think you would have confronted me about it, when all you want is not lose what we have and not hurt me?”

 

sehun gets it now. chanyeol had held this in all these years, just because he didn’t want to hurt sehun in any way. it only tightens the air in his chest, it aches. and sehun doesn’t want to do this anymore. he doesn’t want to stay there and let chanyeol watch him break little by little. he doesn’t even want to show his face to the other, shame kicking in too late, now that he has his answers.

 

he gets up abruptly, knocking off a bottle or two (it’s wonder how he didn’t break any of them), and walks away from chanyeol.

 

 

 

only after he slumps down against his bedroom door, it hits him, slowly and excruciating; chanyeol has known for so long. as if that’s the missing piece he needed, everything falls into place and it makes sense.

 

the reason why chanyeol never initiated any talk that involved baekhyun when it comes to him, the reason why it has always been the others that knew much more about baekhyun and chanyeol than he knew. the reason why it felt like chanyeol was being cautious around him when it came to baekhyun, the way sometimes he would look at sehun—apologetic and gentle, as if he doesn’t want to hold him accusable.

 

sehun hates it, now that he knows why. 

 

===

 

“it’s important not to get hurt,” ten pairs of eyes look at him, something familiar shining in them; dreams, hopes, ambition, all those things sehun had when he was about to debut. “take care of your well-being because you can’t help but feel sorry if your members have to go on stage without you, it would feel empty even if one of you is missing.”

 

when junmyeon asked him to meet the boys who are going to debut as the first boy group under his agency, sehun didn’t have much to think about. he just agreed. but as soon as it is his turn to tell them something as someone who used to be an idol, he feels responsible.

 

“even if you make mistakes, don’t dwell on it too much,” he is sure the boys have been told these things by their trainers, by junmyeon but still he tells them, voice gentle as not to scare them away. “take them as pointers on where you should enhance your performance. awards and music show wins are important but they aren’t everything. it’s important to enjoy what you do, to give something your audience could relate to and to find the thirst to keep improving yourself, that’s what's important if you ask me.”

 

“they said they want to be a group like exo,” junmyeon pipes up from behind and sehun playfully scoffs at how fond he sounds when he comes to them. like a proud grandfather.

 

“to be a group like us…” he trails off, “you have to put your team first, you have to trust each other at difficult times. and your leader,” he shares a knowing look with junmyeon, “whatever it could be, put your trust on him because he is going shoulder most of the things you have to go through. he shields you from most of the scolding and punishment and he’s the one who is going to listen to you when you are troubled. so you guys should make sure to take care of him too. so that’s it. the rest of the things, i am sure you will figure out.”

 

junmyeon looks pleased with what the way he has spoken so he must have said something useful, or something wise. he then moves forward to talk with the kids, ask them about their practices and their preparation for the debut and sehun just watches from behind. junmyeon looks like he’s born to do this, to lead, to guide people to their dreams.

 

they are in the practice hall that looks a lot like the one they used to learn dances at, skies painted on the wall (junmyeon must have chosen to be sentimental about it) and the kids looked like they fit there when he watched them perform earlier. this place causes him nostalgia even though he is here for the first time and sehun doesn’t know he missed the practice room this much.

 

just when junmyeon asks the boy if they have eaten, a click of the door opening echoes and sehun turns around with no rush. when he does, his breath hitches a little. chanyeol’s head peaks from the little gap grinning widely at junmyeon. it takes a few seconds for the other’s gaze to fall upon him and the grin fades away, more in disbelief than anything else. then a slow smile makes its way to his face, almost not there. sehun’s head registers all those details in excruciatingly slow pace and before he knows, chanyeol is already in front of him.

 

“hey,” he says and for once, sehun’s first instinct isn’t to take a step back. of course, chanyeol’s presence right now is too much, it’s too soon but he feels a little lighter. it isn’t as difficult to breathe like it was days before. chanyeol must have sensed that, he always does, because he gives him another smile, a brighter one this time and sehun returns one.

 

“hey hyung,” he manages to reply, eyes looking at anything but chanyeol, “didn’t expect you to be here.”

 

sehun realises belatedly that the trainees are taking their leave and he just nods at them, their voices sounding too far away and junmyeon is next to them, speaking on chanyeol’s stead. “i asked him to drop by whenever he’s free so we could talk about making a single to release on my birthday. it’s good you came now,” junmyeon tells chanyeol, “i was going to ask sehun to eat with me, you can join us.”

 

before any of them could agree to it, junmyeon’s assistant excuses herself and tells junmyeon something about a producer being on call. junmyeon asks them to wait in his office for a while, that it is going to take at least thirty minutes and exits the practice room, putting on his professional face.

 

sehun doesn’t follow junmyeon out nor does chanyeol. it’s just the two of them left alone after god knows how long. sehun waits for chanyeol to say something but chanyeol only stands there checking his phone so he decides it’s his turn to initiate. he just walks to the back of the practice hall to slump down, leaning against the wall, well aware of the eyes that follow him.

 

“this place makes me feel good. i wanna stay for awhile,” he says when chanyeol looks at him. it doesn’t take more than  a few seconds for chanyeol to sit beside him.

 

“this place does take you to old days, huh?” chanyeol agrees, before taking off his snapback to run his hands through his hair and wear it again.

 

the casualty in the talk doesn’t feel strange. sehun is thankful how the atmosphere isn’t tense like he was worried. he ponders over why he doesn’t feel like running away now.

 

they sit in a comfortable silence until chanyeol starts fiddling with the music app on his phone, trying to come up with a melody. he eventually does and sehun gets a little lost among those notes. at some point, it stops abruptly and it startles sehun causing him to look forward, only to meet eyes with chanyeol through the mirror.

 

the gaze doesn’t weigh on him like it once did. he doesn’t know whether it is him or it is chanyeol’s eyes that have grown to become softer. he doesn’t know whether he deserves it but it does make everything a little bit easier.

 

“what are you thinking about?” chanyeol asks him.

 

“nothing,” he lies, when in fact he has been thinking about all the stories he would write for what chanyeol was playing. he holds the eye-contact through the mirror because it feels like the illusion would shatter if he faces the real thing.

 

“are we going to talk?” chanyeol stops skirting around.

 

sehun braces himself, “do you want to?”

 

the look chanyeol gives him, sehun cannot decipher so he turns to look at him, to look at him properly after all this time and sees the sadness in his eyes, something he’s responsible for. “it’s been so long since we last talked.”

 

upon hearing that, every bit of him burns in guilt, it hurts so much to hear chanyeol talk with such remorse and sehun wants to rip himself apart. “hyung, i am…” the words of apology are right there, on the very tip of his tongue but he swallows them. he is not going to apologize for the time he’s taking, he needs it. “i am here now,” he says instead, trying to assure.

 

“i know…” chanyeol tells him, his eyes are earnest and sehun melts a little at the smile he gives him. “it felt like you were drifting too far away. it frightened me when you didn’t even meet eyes when you came back. but now you are here.”

 

sehun gulps once, twice, to soothe the pain that is gripping his throat. chanyeol’s fear had been about losing sehun. it’s not the first time he’s hearing it but it doesn’t feel right, what he’s paying back for a heart like that.

 

“i am trying, hyung.” he really is. “i know i am not supposed to push you away, not supposed to distance myself from you. it’s all on me. but i am trying.”

 

“i know, sehun-ah. it’s okay,” his voice quietens half way, “i understand.” these words are enough to bring tears to his eyes. he holds them because he doesn’t want to make chanyeol watch him cry again.

 

another wave of silence falls upon them and sehun doesn’t particularly hate it, he feels lighter. it's a wonder he would never get; how talking to chanyeol would always make him feel like this.

 

 

 

“how is baekhyun?” he asks chanyeol, as they walk towards junmyeon’s office after getting a text from him.

 

“he’s doing well,” chanyeol replies, albeit a heartbeat later. we are both doing well. “yeah.”

 

i am happy for you, that’s what sehun wishes he could say but his chest constricts at that thought of it and he settles the conversation with a nod. it’s too soon.

 

but he trusts the power of time. there’ll be a day he’d tell chanyeol that he’s really happy.

 

 

 

“i want to ask you how you are doing from time to time and how it is going with baekhyun hyung. i am trying ,” sehun emphasizes it once again, once they are at the parking lot, where chanyeol insists that he’ll see off sehun, “i am trying to properly look at you,” and not ache while at it, “trying to be there for you. and i will get there, get back to you.”

 

chanyeol nods at him, telling him he’s listening and the soft eyes assures sehun that nothing is going to change the way chanyeol loves him. as much as it causes his heart to burn, he acknowledges it.

 

“i just need time, hyung. will you give me that?” he sounds as if he’s pleading for his life but that’s what it is. he can’t think of a life where chanyeol isn’t around.

 

chanyeol’s hand is on his hair, gently ruffling and the next second patting his cheek once, “i am not going anywhere, sehun-ah.”

 

and sehun keeps trying.

 

final.

 

the melody he heard chanyeol play that day in the practice hall kind of gets stuck on his head. sehun gives it some time for the music to fade away but it doesn’t, instead it only gets louder each time sehun unconsciously recalls it, begging to be written something out of it and sehun tries his best to resist the itch to grab a pen and jot down the words circling around his head.

 

(it had been something that chanyeol suggested. you never know what kind of a song they will turn into, chanyeol used to say. that’s how it became a habit and sehun actually wrote a few songs and learned he loves being poetic.)

 

after a few days of having the song stuck in him, he gives up and scribbles down words after words, staring at nothing in particular, crossing a few lines to rewrite them to make them fit better and in an hour and half, he ends up with something. it’s about a man who is trying to let go of something that had felt like home.

 

he feels like he should let chanyeol read it. perhaps it’s out of habit more than anything.

 

he quickly finds his phone to snap a picture of it to send it to chanyeol because he doesn't know how long he’ll feel good about this. he texts chanyeol the attached image before he changes his mind for good.

 

chanyeol reads his text almost immediately. with each tick of the clock, dread settles on sehun’s stomach like rocks and the wait feels like an eternity. chanyeol replies to him with a string of messages.

 

wait…

you wrote the whole lyrics??

for a song that hasn’t even been made??

and it’s great?! seriously

 

sehun wonders how he should take the reaction as. and why he feels relieved more than anything.

 

it’s around midnight when he’s catching up with minseok’s on-going drama, with a sleepy vivi curled up by his side, chanyeol sends him an audio attachment.

 

it’s him singing the lyrics he sent with the real music he probably had made after sehun sent him that. sehun plays it again and again and again . until it feels like it’s his own song and it’s so beautiful when he listens to it as a song. he doesn’t even know why he is crying. vivi presses his snout at him as an attempt to comfort him.

 

he sees what chanyeol has written with the audio. do you wanna sing this?

 

it doesn’t sound bad now. singing and getting back to business, he realises how much he actually misses it—meeting fans, listening to them shout his name, the looks on their faces, the light in their eyes when they see him. that’s what made him love his job after all.

 

one day, he replies. one day, he thinks. a promise to chanyeol. a promise to himself. 

 

 

 

time doesn’t heal. but it does teach you how to live with it. sehun thinks he is in the learning process.

 

the ache is still there whenever he takes chanyeol’s name in his mouth, it does, still all the same but that doesn’t stop him these days. he talks to chanyeol on phone whenever they are free. he’d ask him about baekhyun. he’d talk to baekhyun without the weight that had been there before. he’d meet them together and talk about his life.

 

he proposes to junmyeon the idea of wanting to work as a choreographer. he has been feeling it since he met the kids who are making it into the headlines of entertainment news, articles after articles about how they are the climbing up the list of best performers among the sea of idol groups (junmyeon cried like a kid when sehun called to congratulate him and sehun would be lying he didn’t had his eyes wet the whole call). junmyeon agrees almost immediately as if he’s been just waiting for sehun to put forward something like that.

 

he feels like everything is falling on its rightful place. even if takes a little time, he learns to get used to it.

 

 

 

it rains one particular night when sehun stares at his ceiling, thoughts running wild in his head, too fast to catch up with one another. he hates rain because it makes him think too much and none of them would even make sense afterwards. vivi must have given up on him to coax him to play with him, he’s nowhere in sight. he’s just there, laying on the bed as he thinks about it.

 

about what chanyeol has meant to him all this time and how kind and patient he has been with him. about how much he’s trying, to look past the love he harbours for him. how much he’s willing to be happy for chanyeol and baekhyun. about how he’d be there for them, wishing for their happiness, if they ever hold a wedding in barcelona. he thinks about how it’ll feel to tell chanyeol that he’s happy for them.

 

but he also thinks about how he hasn’t felt wrong to fall for a man like him and how he doesn’t have any regret, not a single ounce of it. he had worries back then, about something that might change between them. but not regret. how chanyeol hadn’t looked at him like he should be sorry, not even once. about how chanyeol had accepted him, let him take his time. about how chanyeol didn’t want to lose him.  

 

 

 

when the rain stops, sehun stands on his balcony, watching the half moon. the skies have cleared themselves and so does sehun’s mind.

 

he realises that there are all those reasons why he has been in love with him, why he still might be. because he’s chanyeol.

 

chanyeol, whom his fourteen year old self liked on the first day of training because no one ever seemed friendly like him.

 

chanyeol, whom his sixteen year old self felt comforted by.

 

chanyeol, who had become a reason why he didn’t give up as a trainee.

 

chanyeol, with whom his nineteen year old self fell in love.

 

chanyeol, who looked at him with sad but gentle eyes, with no kind of ill feelings behind them when he said he knew about his feelings.

 

chanyeol, who waited for him. chanyeol, who had been scared to lose him.

 

maybe what he is feeling would wear down with passing time. maybe the flame that is inside, that used to be a burning fire, would die down to just a spark. what used to be an unbearable yearning might die down to just a dull ache but it’d last forever. he knows it will be there no matter how much time passes.

 

he thinks it’s beautiful. that he can love someone this much. 

 

he watches the moon and thinks how it is similar to chanyeol. how it is always there, bright and lighting up sehun’s dark night. sehun loves the moon so much that at one point he longed to have a touch. but it’s unreachable just like chanyeol. the moon belongs to the sky and baekhyun has always been chanyeol’s sky.

 

but that doesn’t stop anyone from loving the moon, does it? at the end of the day, you end up longing for the moon. you look at it and you admire it and you miss it when you can’t see it. sehun thinks chanyeol is his moon.   

 

he doesn’t feel sad anymore. because he knows the moon isn’t going anywhere. nor will it expect you to be sorry for yearning for it.

 

he ends up taking a picture of the moon, blurry because he can’t take a good picture for his own good. he still loves it. he uploads it on his instagram, captioning it with one of the lines from the song he is going to release as a comeback, the song he had written. for others, it will be just a spoiler, a hint or whatever. they’ll never know that it’s a closure he’s giving himself.

 

 

 

// there must be a reason why

i can’t reach out to the moon,

as i am looking for a home

where there is never one. // 

 

 

  

***