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Can't fight these bad intentions

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It would be an understatement to say that Baekhyun is pissed the first time he hears his new neighbor.

If there is something that Baekhyun utterly dislikes, it’s being disturbed while he’s having a successful surge of inspiration. Normally, said inspiration is a little bitch that chooses to bite him in the ass at the worst times possible. Like when he’s having his bi-monthly, compulsory club outing with Jongdae, as he’s struggling to find balance between shaking da booty and avoiding being elbowed to the ribs by some random dude who’s had one too many mixed drinks. Or when he’s grocery shopping, dragging a trolley-full of way too much junk food for someone his age along the frozen aisle, looking for ice cream. Or when he’s in the shower. The proverbial plot bunny almost always decides to waggle its fluffy, taunting tail at Baekhyun at times when it’s literally impossible for him to have his hands on a keyboard in the immediate future.

So, if by miracle, random inspiration strikes him when he’s lounging at his apartment doing basically nothing but hanging out with himself, a can of lite beer, a bag of sour-cream-and-onion Lay’s and his Netflix queue, Baekhyun knows better than to not take the bait, run to his laptop and start typing furiously until his fingertips go numb.

This is exactly one of these precious, eerily exceptional moments that some huge Asshole (capital A) happens to interrupt.

There had been loud racket going on earlier in the hall just outside Baekhyun’s front door, but he’d dismissed it quickly, guessing it was a drunk neighbor getting back home and trying to remember how to function on two legs without colliding with walls (and obviously failing to do so). It’s a Saturday morning, after all, and there are plenty of college students in Baekhyun’s apartment complex who have yet to learn how to hold their liquor. But when, instead of dying down after a few minutes, the loud banging intensifies and becomes dangerously close—in an apartment-next-door kind of closeness—it’s impossible for Baekhyun to tune it out. Too bad he’d been in the middle of typing the intricate description of a futuristic car engine that he has a hard time figuring out himself. Now, the sentence is painfully truncated, cut in half, and the little bar on the Word doc is blinking at him, nagging him. If there wasn’t a guy moving around what sounds like the entirety of Ikea next door who he’d rather throw all of his anger at, Baekhyun would probably swear at his computer like the mature twenty-six-year-old he is.

It’s when Baekhyun has made up his mind about giving his neighbor an earful—after moments of mourning what would have been a nice, productive writing session—that the noise finally comes to an end. He waits for several minutes, curled up on his desk chair, not wanting to move for fear that it might, by some supernatural bad luck, wake up the beast next door; but there’s nothing. Just Baekhyun’s frustrated sighs.

Yes, Baekhyun is frustrated. Tremendously so. Because he knows that all hope of getting any extra word in is long gone for the day. He’s been having the worst kind of a writer’s block for a few weeks now, and the rush of inspiration he had a few minutes ago is as fleeting and evasive as loose mercury, already washed away; and it’s hopeless to think of grasping it again.

So, when Baekhyun reluctantly gets down from where he was perched on, sitting uncomfortably and soaking in his own misery, it’s only to take a few steps and flop onto his couch, browsing Netflix aimlessly and hissing curses under his breath at nothing in particular. So much for a productive day.

When Minseok texts him a few hours later, on Baekhyun’s professional phone, waking him up from his I-got-nothing-better-to-do nap, his heart gives a familiar, unpleasant jolt, which is soon turned into full-on anxious palpitations at the sight of the single word ‘deadline’.

Baekhyun gets up and drags his feet towards his computer again. He sits down and opens another pending document, feeling about 154 percent mentally unprepared to resume his writing of the crappy romance novels that are currently his only source of revenue. Hey, a man’s got bills to pay and a shit ton of comfort food to buy. And it’s not his unfinished dystopian novel that does. Unfortunately.

So Baekhyun frowns at his screen, acknowledging that today officially sucks big time and that he shouldn’t have gotten out of bed at all.

And as if it couldn’t suck more, Asshole Next Door decides to choose this particular moment to test out his hi-fi system. Baekhyun throws his arms heavenward in a mix of utter annoyance and pained resignation. He buries his face in his elbow and whines pitifully. He can’t even tell which kind of music Asshole Next Door is listening to, because only the (loud, thumping) bass is coming across.

If this is going to be Baekhyun’s daily life from now on, he’s considering moving out.

Or doing something about it. Yeah. That might be a solution too. But it would involve actual interaction with Asshole Next Door and Baekhyun’s not ready.

He wonders if he’ll ever be.

--

Luckily, Baekhyun’s neighbor has been laying low for a few days after the moving-in Armageddon-like thing. Baekhyun has even stopped dubbing him asshole in his head, as he’s been busy typing, trying hard to meet his deadline. He’s even managed to knock out a few paragraphs for his sci-fi novel, so he’s mostly satisfied with himself, or at least as satisfied as an aspiring novelist can be, considering he writes Harlequin-like gay romance for a living.

It’s a Sunday night around nine, and tomorrow’s the first day of class for college students, so it’s generally quiet in the complex. Tomorrow also means back-to-school for Baekhyun, because he’s taken up a teaching assistant position at the college a few blocks away, and honestly, he’s not looking forward to it. He’d rather wipe a baboon’s ass than deal with hipster lit freshmen again. But hey, he’s in dire need of the fluid assets if he doesn’t want to be kicked out of his apartment, and all the gay-dudes-who-only-get-to-third-base-implicitly writing doesn’t drag as much cash in as he wishes it did. Fortunately, he won’t be giving actual classes—he’ll be mostly grading essays and, to his great dismay, helping students sort through academic paperwork, registration and all that jazz, because college first-years are fresh out of freaking high school (Jesus Christ!) and they have no idea what they’re doing whatsoever.

Consequently, Sunday nights before back-to-school are supposed to be calm in a neighborhood mostly inhabited by students. ‘Supposed’ being the key-word here.

Baekhyun knows he’s in no mental state right now to do any productive writing. He’s done his heart’s content of texting Jongdae about his ‘comfy couch’ and his ‘perfect-for-a-Sunday-night-in TV show collection’, because he can, because Jongdae is his BFF and he’s currently stuck working a night shift at the hospital ER. And what are BFF’s for if not taunting each other and earning insults in return? Jongdae’s also a pro at giving them, thank you very much, and they wouldn’t have what they’ve had for years without all the playful bickering. After receiving Jongdae’s ‘got a chick to stitch up, tty, jackass’, Baekhyun drops his phone and starts a random episode of Scrubs.

Obviously, his neighbor picks this time to call his best bud or whoever else on the other end of the line makes him laugh like a walrus on crack. Because Asshole Next Door (yeah, instant-return of the infamous nickname, capital letters and all) is fucking loud, and his low voice (holy cow!) reverberates through the walls and it’s plenty inconvenient when you’re watching a show that’s basically made up of satirical dialog. Yeah, Baekhyun would need to actually hear something to enjoy the show, and he can’t right now, what with the dying whale (he leveled up on the sick marine mammals scale) bursting out laughing, like, right behind the wall.

Baekhyun inhales sharply, trying to remain calm. It’s doing little to nothing to his already high-strung nerves (back-to-school, deadlines, etc.), so he gets up and starts pacing his living-room, trying to find a rather diplomatic way to make his neighbor tune it down that doesn’t include banging on the thin wall between them. Because Baekhyun is a reasonable adult, and there has to be a reasonable, adult way to deal with this. Which is not calling the cops for night-time disturbance, even if Baekhyun’s fingers itch to dial at the moment, for lack of a better thing to do. He knows he’s being immature and irrational, he knows students are probably more stressed out than him—Baekhyun’s basically just on secretary duty tomorrow, for God’s sake, this is a no-pressure job—they have the right to call their folks and share and laugh and vent out. But despite all this reasoning, Baekhyun is still irritated, and Asshole Next Door is now running his mouth noisily and endlessly. Either he’s always lived in a big-ass house with no one inside a five-mile radius or he’s been surrounded by old, deaf people if talking that loud at night is any kind of okay to him.

Before Baekhyun has time to muster all of the little courage he possesses and push his cowardice away, though, Asshole Next Door sing-songs a merry-sounding ‘lateeeeer’ (yeah, Baekhyun can make out that one) and hangs up, if the sudden lack of noise is any indication. Baekhyun sighs as his shoulders sag in relief, which is short-lived, since mere seconds later, there’s clanking and rattling echoing next door. Baekhyun almost growls (growls!), but he shakes his head and forces himself to reason: it’s not worse than the loud conversation. He can live through it. Probably.

(He can’t.)

He’s not fooling anyone, especially himself. But the problem is that Baekhyun is a coward and he’d prefer enduring daily noise than confront his jerk of a neighbor and risk being laughed at and consequently humiliated. Baekhyun has dignity. As if.

He goes to his bedroom, leaving the pending Scrubs episode for later, knowing he won’t be able to sleep until a few hours later, but hoping that another wall between him and Asshole will make him forget that he can now only long for his peace and quiet.

--

But Baekhyun can only take so much of his neighbor’s shit.

He’s had a crappy day. He should have known, because he used to be one, that literature students and rational, down-to-earth thinking are not a matching combination on any level. Registration, schedule and curricular organization are about as abstract to them as binary logarithm. So, Baekhyun’s day was basically made up of giving clueless students a crash-course on how to deal with all that stuff, trying as hard as he could not to snap at them and their general inability to process basic information. Baekhyun briefly wonders if he was as helpless as that a few years ago and hopes it’s just a matter of generation.

When he finally arrives home, he’s drained. He slips into his pajamas and the only thing he wants is to crawl under his blankets and sleep for twelve hours straight. It’s not possible for two reasons: firstly, it’s been ages since Baekhyun slept more than seven hours in a row because he’s an adult with a job and responsibilities (huh) and he’s also a little bit of an insomniac, and secondly, there’s loud music and voices blaring through the paper-thin walls separating him from Asshole Douchetastic Neighbor.

That is completely rude on so many levels (it’s a Wednesday night, it’s the first week of school, there are people living in this apartment complex who don’t necessarily share dubious taste for thumping underground rap music), and this time, the moment of contemplation on whether to intervene or not is totally lost on Baekhyun as he rushes out of his apartment and stops in front of his neighbor’s door before he knows what he’s doing.

Baekhyun bangs on the wooden panel angrily. After about a half minute of mental rehearsal of what he's going to yell at Asshole Next Door, the door is slammed open. First, his vision is momentarily reduced to nothing due to a heavy cloud of smoke, smelling like something that’s legal in Colorado, but not in California, where they live, unless it’s on prescription. And then, emerging from it, there’s that tall dude.

Baekhyun stares open-mouthed. Because while the guy's height and his ugly-ass, shiny red shorts say 'I play a douche-y sport called basketball', his face screams 'hi, I'm fresh out the crib, care to baby-sit me?'. Seriously, the guy (boy) is probably not even twenty, for Christ’s sake! And his bare chest tells another story entirely, what with the defined muscles and the obvious six-pack, along the lines of 'hot bod here, tap that?'. Well no, actually, that was Baekhyun's dick.

He is so unprepared for this.

“Hey buddy,” the guy says (did he just call Baekhyun ‘buddy’, what the hell?), a lopsided grin stretching his lips, “I haven't seen you around, are you pledging for Beta Pi? Sehun and Jongin are already here,” he adds, and Baekhyun is so dumbfounded that he can't speak at the moment. But his neighbor is totally okay with filling in the blanks by himself, as it seems. “I guess you're not joining the basketball team, huh,” he says, while giving Baekhyun a shameless onceover.

This has to be some kind of bad prank. Where are the candid cams? Where is Jongdae?

Baekhyun is livid. Not only did this jock just mistake Baekhyun for a freaking freshman pledging for some dumb frat; but he had the nerve to make a size joke.

This is so not going to end well.

“Uh, I’m not pledging…”

Seriously, dude, from all the witty comebacks in your store, that was your best shot? Baekhyun chastises himself inwardly, whereas tall guy’s eyes continue to rake over Baekhyun’s body in a pretty disturbing way, his tell-tale grin growing wider and sharper. Baekhyun gulps uncomfortably. This isn’t exactly how he pictured things turning out; he’s got no plan B, but then again, how can he have a plan B when there was no plan A in the first place?

“So, are you coming over or not?” the guy asks after a long, probably inebriated intake of air.

“I’m not, uh, coming over, no,” Baekhyun says, instilling just a touch of contempt in his words, but he guesses it’s certainly lost on his neighbor, given his current state. “And it’s a school night, so could you please tune it down a little?” Baekhyun sighs with relief and high-fives himself mentally for being so polite when his neighbor is clearly being a major dick. He can be a reasonable adult, after all.

“We were about to head out, anyway,” the guy says, still smiling. “Sorry about that.”

“Yeah, right. Bye,” Baekhyun blurts out before saying something rude. He starts walking away to his door a few steps up the hall when the guy calls out to him. “Nice pants, by the way!” then he shuts the door.

Baekhyun looks down at his pajama bottoms and grunts. A few seconds later, though, the music stops.

At least, the not-plan worked.

--

“He laughed at my Star Wars pants!” Baekhyun whines. Jongdae, always the great friend, cackles at that. Minseok merely pats Baekhyun’s hair, reaching across the table and over their half-finished pints.

Friday nights are for chicken and beer, one of the only remaining Korean habits that Baekhyun and his friends stuck with. It’s the awesome combination of comfort food and booze anyone could ask for. So it’s convenient to be of Korean descent if only to justify stuffing your face with fried goodness and getting yourself pleasantly buzzed.

Tonight, Baekhyun has had one too many beers and it’s one of these nights when he gets whiny and complains about everything. Everything being reduced to Asshole Next Door at the moment, though, so Minseok is wise enough not to comment on anything. He simply nods or hums when prompted. As for Jongdae, well, he’s many things, but wise surely isn’t at the top of the list of his qualities.

“But he’s hot, though, isn’t he?” he insists, leaning drunkenly on Baekhyun’s shoulder, the freaking lightweight! More importantly, when did Baekhyun mention that Asshole Next Door is a sexy mofo? He doesn’t remember telling his friends that.

“When did I say he was?” Baekhyun asks, looking at Minseok, for Jongdae is too gone already to answer properly.

“Uh, you said he had chocolate abs about five times and once that you’d be okay with licking them.”

Baekhyun startles and peers inside his cup. “How many drinks did I have?” he slurs, realizing he’s more drunk than he thought and that his bladder is about to explode.

“Obviously too many,” Minseok says calmly, still sipping his beer while helping Baekhyun getting to his feet with his free hand. “You should talk to him, sober, and let him make amends.” Minseok stares at Baekhyun, as if trying to decipher if he’s being understandable or not.

“Gotta take a leak,” is the only reply he can muster without appearing as a dysfunctional human being.

After emptying his bladder and splashing some lukewarm water on his face, Baekhyun feels a little more aware. When he comes back to the table, Jongdae is snoring into his plate and Minseok is looking down at him, a mix of fondness and exasperation in his eyes.

“Feeling better?”

“You don’t say,” Baekhyun sits down, his mind clearer.

“So, you’re going to leave your neighbor a chance, I hope?”

“A chance for what?”

“I don’t know,” Minseok shrugs. “Maybe you should have a chat with him. I mean, he’s probably more than a loud kid with a six-pack.”

Baekhyun cringes at that. “Bang him!” Jongdae yells from his slouching position. Wasn’t the fucker supposed to be sleeping?

“Well, FYI he could be one of my students,” Baekhyun argues. “And I’m not banging anybody, dammit, Jongdae!” He shoves him, for good measure, and grins triumphantly when he gets chicken grease on his cheek and whines loudly. “I’m not talking to him, anyway, and I don’t plan to. He’s a brat who smokes pot, plays basketball and he’s just a kid, I mean, I don’t even know if he’s legal yet, for Christ’s sake!”

“Listen to yourself,” Minseok says, smiling slightly. “You sound like an old fart. You’re not even twenty-seven yet. And you had your fair share of weed back in college, too.”

“Yeah, and I smuggled that!” Jongdae laughs, then he drifts back to snoring again.

“If you want to be the grown-up so badly,” Minseok adds, ignoring Jongdae’s comment, “suck it up and stop complaining. And be tactful, for both your sakes.”

When Baekhyun goes to bed that night, he doesn’t feel better about himself one bit. Minseok can act all wise man, but his advising sucks. Jongdae’s even worse.

When he closes his eyes, he panics briefly at the idea of writing while hungover tomorrow and doesn’t dream of chocolate.

--

Surprisingly enough, Baekhyun gets up to write bright and early on Saturday morning. After a compulsory cup of coffee and swallowing a tablet of Aspirin, he sits down at his desk and manages to make significant progress in his novel. He’s finally able to concentrate because there’s no sound coming from next door, his neighbor probably being sleeping in after a party. It’s nice and quiet and it makes Baekhyun giddy. He’s at it again all Sunday, and if he wasn’t in dire need of caffeine to carry on writing through the night, he’d stay stuck to his desk chair, typing away.

When he decides to go out, albeit reluctantly, to buy coffee and snacks, he realizes he hasn’t heard his neighbor all weekend, and that’s definitely weird. He shrugs and overlooks it, preferring not to think about it too much, for fear of jinxing it and making his luck go away.

Ten minutes later, Baekhyun is going back home with a hot latte and Danish rolls in a paper bag when he spots his neighbor sitting with his back against the front door, head bobbing to the (loud) music coming through his (huge-ass) headphones. He notices Baekhyun as he’s about to unlock his door. He must have been staring, for the guy takes off his headphones and greets him.

“Hey, uh, neighbor,” he says, permanent grin still in place. Being called ‘neighbor’ sounds a bit ridiculous, Baekhyun thinks. He nods once in return.

“What are you doing here?” Baekhyun asks.

“Locked myself out taking the trash downstairs. So much for being helpful, huh,” the guy answers. Baekhyun already regrets having asked. “My roommate isn’t due till nine, so I figured I could wait here. Twenty minutes isn’t that long, anyway.”

“Uh, wanna come in instead of waiting outside?” Baekhyun offers and immediately wants to swallow back his words. His mom was right when he was a kid and she told him to ‘think first, talk later’. He still hasn’t learned anything, as it appears.

The guy looks up at him and his features morph into an exaggerated mask of total surprise. Does Baekhyun give off such douchebag waves that his neighbor can’t believe he’s offering hospitality? “Nah, man, I’m good, I don’t want to bother you.”

“Oh, come on, it’s just twenty minutes,” what? What? “You said so yourself.”

Baekhyun doesn’t let him time to protest and unlocks his door, leaving it open in a silent invitation. The guy gets up, still looking surprised, and follows him inside. “Alright, thanks, buddy.” Again with the ‘buddy’ thing; it’s getting old pretty quickly, Baekhyun thinks.

“It’s okay,” he says as he puts the food down on his desk. “Take a seat,” he points to the couch. His neighbor obeys and sits down as gingerly as his gangly limbs allow him to. He’s ditched the basketball shorts in favor of washed-off skinny jeans that do good to his long legs and he’s wearing a triple-x large camouflage hoodie over them, making him look younger than he must be, if that’s even possible.

“I’m Chanyeol, by the way,” he calls out, looking around him at Baekhyun’s apartment. It’s strange to put a regular name on that face, when it’s been dubbed quite rudely for more than a week.

“Baekhyun.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” he adds. “Properly, I mean. Sorry about the noise the other night, we tend to be a bit loud when the brothers are over.”

Not only when they are there, Baekhyun wants to rectify, but he doesn’t, because that wouldn’t be tactful. Too bad Minseok isn’t here to give him a medal for his effort.

The silence starts to stretch itself, so Baekhyun sips his coffee (and winces at the lack of syrup), to ease his discomfort and get something to do with himself.

“So, having breakfast at night, huh?” Chanyeol says, grinning. Baekhyun wonders if it’s just his default face, if he’s making fun of him or if he’s judging him in an impossibly bratty way. It could be either, and Baekhyun is completely unable to tell which one.

“I’m working on a project, I need the extra boost,” Baekhyun answers.

“Deadlines are a pain in the ass, I feel for you, dude.”

“Something like that,” Baekhyun agrees, deciding to ignore the ‘dude’ part. He doesn’t know why, but he prefers remaining evasive and doesn’t contradict him when Chanyeol implies he’s working on some school assignment. “Want something to drink?” he asks to change topics, but prays he’s got something non-alcoholic to offer. He’s not so sure.

“No, it’s okay. Don’t mind me, do your stuff,” Chanyeol dismisses as he fishes his phone from his giant hoodie’s pocket and starts texting. Baekhyun is okay with that and sits down again, but nothing good enough to write comes to his mind.

“So, uh…you play basketball?” Baekhyun asks a few minutes later, not nearly satisfied with his choice of icebreaker, but still liking it better than awkward silence. Chanyeol’s face lights up at the attention.

“Yeah. I’m in the college team. The captain’s a real bitch, but otherwise it’s pretty cool. What’s your major?”

Before Baekhyun can panic and tell him that he’s already past the post-grad stage, Chanyeol’s phone text tone chimes cheerfully. That was a fine example of ‘Saved by the Bell’. Baekhyun sighs to himself and ‘forgets’ to answer, seeing Chanyeol engrossed in replying to the text.

“Roommate’s home,” he says as he jumps off the couch and starts walking to the door. “Thanks again…uh, Baekhyun, right?” Baekhyun nods as he gets up and follows him. He shakes Chanyeol’s hand when he reaches out for him, and man, are his hands huge! Then again, that’s what you can expect from a basketball player. They’re also kind of callous, and Baekhyun shivers imperceptibly—almost getting mental whiplash with his unexpected reaction.

“See you around,” Chanyeol says as he waves out to Baekhyun, who only nods again, dumbly.

Later, he can hear Chanyeol talking and laughing loudly with his (much softer-voiced) roommate, and gives up trying to get any more words in tonight. So much for the over-priced coffee. At least, he’s got danishes to chew on while he watches Sunday night TV shows and tries to tune out his definitely too-loud neighbor.

This is going to be a long year.

--

The next days are dull and numbed by too much coffee and too little shut-eye. He’s got this chapter to finish and send by midnight, and he’s probably gotten less than six hours of sleep over the last couple of days, what with grading literature essays and struggling to write making out scenes and convey the right feel while keeping it PG-13. He juggles between the two—when scratching off papers in red ink has taken its toll on him, he returns to the faux-bad boy and the twink exchanging heated looks, and back again.

Minseok has been a thorough editor, restlessly checking on him for different reasons: has Baekhyun eaten, has Baekhyun finished his chapter, has Baekhyun slept last night, and the likes. There are perks and downsides to working for your friend: they’re considerate of your health and well-being, but they’re also prone to pester your ass on any occasion. And that’s exactly what Minseok has been doing for the last few hours, sending text after text, asking about Baekhyun’s progress and other annoying things like acknowledgments, approval for the book cover (as if Baekhyun actually had a say on that), and so on. Baekhyun is exhausted, but he manages to send everything by eleven fifty-one, shuts down his laptop and crashes into bed, unwashed and still wearing his day clothes. They’re not too far from pajamas, anyway, so they’ll do.

He’s woken up the next day at fuck o’clock in the morning by the sound of a dish being broken. He doesn’t need to be totally aware to know the noise comes from next door. Baekhyun buries his face in his pillow to try and get just a little more sleep, but his efforts are fruitless, because a mere moment later, Chanyeol starts singing in the shower. Of course he would. When Baekhyun though he’d maxed out on douchebaggery, Chanyeol just proves him wrong by leveling up, again.

Today is hump day, Friday is as far and unreachable as the horizon, and it’s already started in the shittiest way possible. There better be a miracle to make up for it. Too bad Baekhyun isn’t a believer.

Baekhyun should have known it: when a day starts off badly, it can only go downhill afterwards. If he thought he’d reached the pits of hell with a mix of sleep-deprivation, a severe headache and a terrible case of ‘bad hair’, Baekhyun couldn’t have expected what was waiting for him in his TA office. Yeah, he’s on office duty today, which means counseling students slash lost puppies getting the hang of university life. Normally, they’re pretty compliant and listen to Baekhyun as if he were translating the Word of God, but of course, today is not any day, especially if you add Baekhyun’s-life-ruiner, spawn of Satan extraordinaire, a.k.a. Kyungsoo Do, to the freaking picture.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Baekhyun screams silently as he drops his briefcase on his desk, staring desperately at the wide-eyed, falsely-innocent looking kid sitting on the chair in front of him.

“Missed me?” the little shit asks, smirking ever-so-slightly. Baekhyun falls heavily into his desk chair, still looking at Kyungsoo. “I’m a student here, Baekhyun. I chose literature as my minor, and oh, what a surprise, you’re my professor’s assistant.”

“I don’t know what you’re doing in literature, since I don’t recall you having any interest in the subject, unless it’s for the sole purpose of ruining my existence, which is already crappy enough without you in it, thank you very much,” Baekhyun hisses in one breath.

“Cute,” Kyungsoo coos. “You really think I’d choose to waste my time on this university benches just for you? I have my reasons, which are none of your business, by the way, and I was just here to warn you.”

“Why now, warn me?” Baekhyun scoffs, refraining from pinching himself to wake up from this nightmare. “Who do you think you are, you little brat?”

“I wanted to warn you that if you happen to be marking one of my papers at some point, and even entertain the idea of grading me unfairly due to our ‘history’,” he air quotes, and Baekhyun wants to bitch-slap the punk’s face, “then I’ll make you regret you were even born.”

“What is that? A threat?” Baekhyun fakes a laugh. “You’re not in Game of Thrones, why do you think you got any leverage on me, you dipshit?”

“Insulting a student, are we?” Kyungsoo deadpans. “I got more blackmail material on you to last for several lifetimes, idiot. So, be a good teacher’s assistant and give a boy his subscription form.”

Baekhyun sighs loudly and rummages through his drawer for the file. He hands Kyungsoo the paper but holds on to it as he reaches for it. “You’re gonna regret this,” he says under his breath.

“Am I?” Kyungsoo smiles coyly and gets up. He flips Baekhyun off before leaving the office. If there was any energy and will-power left in Baekhyun, it’s officially drained out now. What did he do in his previous lives to deserve that?

To Jongdae:
kyungsoo’s one of my students. fck me.

From Jongdae:
lmao that’s just ur luck.

To Jongdae:
kill me now.

From Jongdae:
what did u do to the brat that he hates u so much anyway?

To Jongdae:
nothing! i have no interest in a kid who’s nearly 9yrs younger than me!

From Jongdae:
maybe he’s interested in u. try it out.

To Jongdae:
u nuts. what’s with u wanting me to hook up with kids? plus he’s my parents’ friends’ son.

From Jongdae:
u think he’s cute?

To Jongdae:
screw u.

The rest of the day is, hopefully, uneventful. Baekhyun clocks out at four sharp, not willing to spend any extra second in his office. When he gets home, his apartment is warm and welcoming, and after a long-overdue shower, he decides to lounge on his couch and watch the Hunger Games with a well-deserved Ben & Jerry’s tub. He inhales the first mouthfuls so quickly he gets a brain freeze, but it’s nothing in comparison with the shitty day he just had. Well, he’s cold now, so it kinda sucks. Just as he’s putting away the tub, his doorbell rings.

He opens his door to a Starbucks-stamped paper bag smelling like a one-way ticket to heaven. Behind the bag is a mop of dark brown hair and a pair of nerdy-looking, oversized Ray Bans.

“Chanyeol? I think you’re one door down.” Baekhyun says.

“Hi! May I come in?” Chanyeol asks, already pushing the door and letting himself in.

“Uh, now’s not really a good time…” Baekhyun says weakly. Chanyeol ignores him and takes off his huge Jordan’s in the small hall.

“Why? What are you doing?” he asks, looking around with a small smile. His face lights up when he sees the TV screen. “Oh, I see! You’re having a date with Katniss. I’d come back later, but this would get cold,” he says, taking out a venti Styrofoam cup and handing it to Baekhyun. “To thank you for letting me in the other day, and sparing me from freezing to death.”

“Which is a likely hazard in northern California in late August,” Baekhyun answers, smiling a little. He accepts the coffee cup. “You’re welcome and thanks.”

“Don’t mention it,” Chanyeol takes a seat on Baekhyun’s couch, uninvited. “Are you gonna resume this? I’ve already seen it more times than I’d like to admit, but I can’t say no to Jennifer Lawrence.”

“Uh…alright?” Baekhyun sits down at a reasonable distance from Chanyeol but before pressing play, he turns to his unexpected guest. “Don’t you have homework to do?”

“Ugh, please, I don’t need to be reminded that… I have a paper due tomorrow but I’m already halfway through and it’s more important to watch teenagers kill each other, isn’t it?”

Baekhyun scoffs. “If you say so,” he rearranges himself in a more comfortable position and resumes the movie. “What’s your paper about, by the way?” He figures Chanyeol won’t be too bothered to talk a little, if he’s already watched the movie.

“CSS and JavaScript. Total bummer,” Chanyeol sighs. “Sometimes, I regret taking computer science as a major, but you have to admit that I’m more likely to find a job after I graduate than if I’d continued playing the drums in my neighbor’s garage.”

“We need IT,” Baekhyun reasons. “If you like what you do, at least a little, I guess it’s not a completely crappy choice.”

Chanyeol shrugs. “I’m not too bad at it,” he turns to Baekhyun, eyes bright and genuinely interested. “What’s your major? You never got around to telling me the other day.”

Shit. Time to reveal the truth. Baekhyun focuses on the TV again. “I’m not a student. I graduated a few years ago, and now, well, I’m working to pay my bills.”

“You graduated from high school, is what you mean, right?” Baekhyun can feel Chanyeol is starting to look at him funny, and he doesn’t like the path they’re going down on.

“I graduated from college, and now I’m a TA and I also…write things,” Baekhyun sighs, defeated. “Grown-up routine, nothing fancy.”

“Seriously, dude? How old are you?” Chanyeol sounds both startled and curious. Baekhyun doesn’t know if he’s hearing right, but he can’t detect any kind of judgment in Chanyeol’s voice.

“I’m twenty-six.” Baekhyun takes a burning-hot sip of coffee, and although he can’t feel his tongue for a few seconds, he’s pleasantly surprised that the coffee is just overly sweet like he’s used to having it.

“Woah,” Chanyeol says. “I thought you were a freshman, because I didn’t see you around last year and…”

“Don’t say what you’re about to say,” Baekhyun chuckles humorlessly. “And yeah, I figured when you thought I was pledging. Sorry to disappoint.”

“What are you talking about, man? That’s awesome! If you’re writing ‘things’,” (what’s with youngsters and the air quotes, seriously?) “Then it means that you’re doing what you like. And I totally dig that.”

“Well, it’s not exactly what I pictured when I was in college, but it’s alright. I guess,” Baekhyun figures that a little white lie can’t do too much harm. He doesn’t want to crush all the hopes and expectations that college students still carry when they’re not too disillusioned.

They continue chatting over the last forty-five minutes of the movie, Chanyeol being the one doing most of the talking, and Baekhyun is totally okay with this development, because he’s not too keen on sharing his own life story. He learns that Chanyeol is in second year of computer science, that he’s a first liner in the basketball team and that he apparently likes to talk shit about his captain (who sounds like a major douche, by the way). He’s also a brother in some frat, but he had to leave the frat house because his current roommate isn’t in the frat and they had promised to live together through college. Chanyeol goes on and on, talks about his upcoming game, about how he hates studying and loves cats but is allergic to them, and Baekhyun doesn’t even feel the need to tune him out, for once. It’s nicer when he actually understands what he’s saying, instead of hearing his muffled low voice through the walls.

This goes on until the ending credits roll up the screen and Baekhyun realizes he didn’t pay much attention to the movie. It’s okay, it’s not his first time watching either. A guy has to appreciate some J Law goodness once in a while, hasn’t he?

Chanyeol finally gets up from the couch and stretches his back. A thin strip of smooth-looking belly skin is revealed in the process and Baekhyun’s throat goes Gobi-desert dry in a matter of seconds. He shakes his head quickly, detaching his eyes from the sinful band of flesh at risk of entertaining very inappropriate thoughts about a nineteen-year-old. A hot piece of nineteen-year-old ass, granted, but the ‘teen’ part irrevocably puts Chanyeol into the ‘no-no’ zone. “I should go back,” he says, sighing like he’s not really liking the prospect. “Got a paper to finish…”

“Yeah, when duty calls, huh,” Baekhyun knows the feeling too well, he can only relate.

“Thanks for having me over, again.”

“Don’t mention it,” he lifts the cup towards Chanyeol. “Thanks for the coffee.”

Later that night, when Baekhyun sits at his desk and imagines Chanyeol is doing the same (for he can’t hear anything but silence coming from the apartment next door), he braces himself and writes his novel for a solid two-hour session, before feeling his eyelids closing on their own.

He falls asleep quickly, thinking that today didn’t entirely suck. Only about ninety-two percent. What helps him get some shut-eye is the last eight percent, though, but Baekhyun’s too tired right now to freak out about that very fact.

--

“Ah, I’m so disappointed, noisy neighbor isn’t around…” Luhan pouts, pursing her lips, as she’s sticking her ear against the wall separating Baekhyun’s living room from Chanyeol’s apartment. Baekhyun rolls his eyes at her antics while Minseok looks at her with hearts in his eyes. Baekhyun wonders how he still stands being her husband and loving her blindly after all these years. Luhan is a nosy, annoying, insufferable woman, and Baekhyun gave up looking for her qualities years ago. Surely, there’s more to her than a pair of adorable doe eyes and a baby-face, if someone as level-headed and reasonable as Minseok decided to spend the rest of his life with her. Maybe it’s because Luhan is madly in love with him and he’s consequently the only person on earth who she’s not giving shit to on a regular basis.

“Luhan, your coffee’s getting cold,” Baekhyun sighs, knowing full-well that it’s like talking to a wall (literally), because Luhan doesn’t listen to anybody except herself—and Minseok on good days—so she shushes Baekhyun, crashing her pointer against her lips with an irritated frown. “I didn’t brew it for nothing,” he adds for good measure.

“It’s instant, Baekhyun,” Minseok notes, putting back his own cup on the table with a badly-hidden disgusted face. Baekhyun isn’t a fan of coffee, unlike Minseok and Luhan, and he only drinks to-go or, in dire situations, instant, only to keep himself awake on particularly intense writing sessions.

“Not helping,” Baekhyun says, glaring at Minseok. “And let me assure you, Luhan,” he continues, addressing her instead, “you don’t want to hear his racket. I mean, he’s like a bull in a china shop, always knocking stuff over, playing loud rap music and singing off-pitch in the shower. It’s no entertainment, as you seem to think it is.”

“Come on, Baeks, I’m sure he’s not that bad—oh!” she interrupts herself, looking back and forth between Minseok and Baekhyun, her eyes filled with delight and excitement, “I think I heard something!”

“How old are you again?” Baekhyun scoffs, unimpressed.

“No, I swear!” she says, trying to remain silent and hopping on the spot at the same time, “I heard someone walking!”

“Well, it’s nothing to be over-excited about,” Baekhyun argues.

The three of them startle when someone knocks on the door, and Baekhyun realizes they’d been mostly whispering this whole time, thanks to Luhan and her intensive neighbor spying. Baekhyun jumps off of the couch and manages to reach the door just before Luhan, and gives her a fixed look, trying to convey as much warning as possible in a mere second. She takes a polite step back, and Baekhyun doesn’t know what to make of it. It’s probably not a good sign, if anything, because Luhan is the most unpredictable person he’s ever met, and she’s not a polite one.

“Hi Baekhyun!” Chanyeol greets, looking like the poster boy for a toothpaste ad. Great.

“Hey, Chanyeol,” Baekhyun says quietly, opening the door to a minimum and blocking Luhan’s view. “How can I help you?”

Baekhyun refrains from groaning as Luhan is trying to shove him to get a peek behind him. Luckily, she’s petite and Baekhyun still has nice remnants of his hapkido red-belt body to resist her efficiently.

“You okay, there?” Chanyeol asks, looking worried, somehow.

“Yeah, I’m swell!” Baekhyun replies with an awkward fake laugh.

“You. Did. Not. Just. Say. That,” Luhan hisses quietly, and he kicks her blindly. She’s kinda right, though, that was totally lame.

Chanyeol frowns a little, still smiling. “I, uh, I’m sorry but I was about to make pancakes and I realized I don’t have eggs. Can I borrow some?”

“Sure!” Baekhyun says over-brightly. “Wait here, I’ll be right back!” Then he closes the door on Chanyeol’s face. He feels a little bad about it, but it’s still better than him meeting Luhan. He’ll live.

“Eggs, eggs—” he mutters as he’s racing to the fridge to look for them. Minseok looks at him funny, but shrugs and continues watching reruns of Hell’s Kitchen. Baekhyun spots the box and checks the date—luckily, they’re still good. When he takes the box out and closes the fridge door, he hears chatting coming from the hall and he knows instantly that his evening has just been officially ruined, courtesy of Luhan Kim. Seriously, how is it possible to store so much evil in one small woman? Baekhyun laments to himself, and braces for what’s to come.

“—and this is Minseok, my husband and Baekhyun’s friend and editor,” Luhan says with her business voice, and that’s plain scary—to Baekhyun’s ears at least. She takes the egg box from Baekhyun’s hands and gives it to Chanyeol, as casually as if she were the lady of the house. “Here, dear, your eggs. What are you cooking?”

“Pancakes,” Chanyeol answers, scratching his head with a sheepish smile. “Guess I’m not the only one having breakfast food for dinner…”

“Oh, so you’re already privy to Baekhyun’s eating habits?” Luhan chirps cheerfully, and Baekhyun dies a little inside. He’s pretty sure his eyes send daggers, but they’re no use, since Luhan only has eyes for Chanyeol. Minseok gets up from the couch and walks to Chanyeol to shake his hand and if it wasn’t for him, it’d have probably turned into a very awkward situation. Hopefully, Minseok is polite and makes small talk, asking about Chanyeol’s moving-in and his studies while Luhan wiggles her eyebrows suggestively at Baekhyun, who’s trying to kill her with his mind, but to this day, he’s never mastered the art.

“Well, I don’t want to bother you. I’d better go, the pancakes won’t make themselves,” Chanyeol says, raising the eggs a little and looking at Baekhyun with a grateful smile, “Thanks for the eggs. I owe you.”

“It’s nothing, you can come back anytime!” Luhan replies. “But if you’re looking for greens, you’re at the wrong place!” she giggles, feigning innocence.

“Luhan,” Baekhyun hisses under his breath.

“I’ll be seeing myself out, then,” Chanyeol waves at them and walks out the door. “Nice meeting you two!” he calls out from the hall before disappearing inside his apartment.

Luhan promptly turns to Baekhyun with a big, up-to-no-good grin and an entirely creepy glint in her eyes. “Well, isn’t he super lovely?” She then looks at Minseok, seeking approbation.

“He seems nice enough,” is Minseok’s much more measured statement. “I don’t see why you complain about him so much. Just put your headphones on and ignore him.” Baekhyun gives Minseok a betrayed kind of look—is a little support too much to ask from your friends?

“Yeah, or you could tap that,” Luhan adds helpfully. Baekhyun is horrified (and probably looks it too, considering Luhan’s amused face). “You totally should!” she says with glee.

“Have you talked to Jongdae recently?” Baekhyun asks, desperate.

“No, why, what about him? Should I call him?”

“Don’t,” Baekhyun orders, putting his hands on Luhan’s shoulders and looking her in the eye. “Don’t. Ever.”

“Well, I guess we should go before you give her strange ideas,” Minseok says reasonably. “Hon, leave poor Baekhyun alone.” Baekhyun feels like an eight-year-old saying goodbye to his annoying-ass great-aunt.

Minseok and Luhan finally go, after Luhan made Baekhyun promise he’d keep her informed about ‘cutie pie’. Of course, he’d rather tell his grand-mother than Luhan if there’s any development, which there won’t, because Baekhyun is twenty-six and Chanyeol is nineteen and there’s no way in hell that their relationship will evolve into something more than barely-friendly neighbors. It’s okay to lie to Luhan because she’s the one who started harassing him in the first place.

“And don’t come back!” he yells at them. Minseok waves good-naturedly, used as he is to Baekhyun’s grumpy mood. Luhan makes the ‘call me’ sign with a wink.

In her dreams.

Later that night, as Baekhyun is furiously automatic-typing his gay romance, he receives a text from Luhan.

i want a pic of the abs to check if they rival minseok’s. u better hurry.

Baekhyun turns off his phone and curses at his friend’s poor choice of wife.

--

Baekhyun is super behind on schedule. He’s got three full chapters due on Monday for editing, it’s Saturday, and so far, he’s only halfway through the first chapter. It’s so bad that Baekhyun declined going to the Halloween party at work, and it seems like he hasn’t seen a human face in a week. He’s been working from home for the college, grading papers doesn’t require him being there physically, so he hasn’t quit his pajamas for the better part of the last four days. Minseok has been texting him constantly, successfully making Baekhyun’s nerves tense and about to snap. When you’re stressed out of your wits about writing Harlequins on time, it’s a good time for you to start reconsidering your career. Well, Baekhyun is way beyond that.

By sunset, Baekhyun is still working his ass off on a freaking paragraph that he’s been retyping countless times without managing to get it right. His eyeballs feel like they’re going to implode, but he bravely gulps another cup of his horrendous instant coffee (he’s already had a whole pot) and rewrites the chunk again. If only he weren’t such a perfectionist, he’d probably be done with the three chapters by now, and he’d be able to enjoy himself with Minseok and his colleagues. Instead, he can’t help but treat his romance novels just like he would his major sci-fi work, so it takes him twice the time normally required.

About an hour and three more cups of coffee later, the paragraph is finally looking good and the first chapter is completed. One down, two more to go. Baekhyun is both relieved and exhausted but he can’t afford to sleep. Sleep is overrated anyway.

He’s not even finished the second chapter’s first paragraph when there’s a loud clash coming from next door. Baekhyun sighs, rolling his eyes, but he settles for turning the volume in his headphones up a notch. He’d decided to follow Minseok’s advice, for once, to be a reasonable adult and suck it up. It’s worked pretty efficiently so far, Baekhyun being able to work with music blaring directly into his ears. However, while his music is okay, Chanyeol’s is not. And the mix between the soft-paced folk he listens to and the aggressive, heavy-on-the-bass underground hip-hop his neighbor is blasting right now is about as far from ASMR material as it gets.

Ten seconds of this treatment are just so much that Baekhyun can take. He’s been on the verge of nervous breakdown for a week, now he’s just one beat away from blowing a fuse. It takes everything in him not to throw himself at his neighbor’s door and tear him a new one. He tries to breathe calmly, tries to imagine what Minseok would do in such a situation but he can’t picture anything, for the loud music is messing with his brain, or maybe it’s the excess of caffeine.

Anyway, Baekhyun’s mission to be a polite, friendly neighbor is aborted the moment he hears people coming flooding in next door and starting to sing along with the terrible rap song. It’s Halloween, Baekhyun thinks, people gather and party, it’s normal. Don’t be an old geezer and let them be.

His resolve is so short-lived that he doesn’t even have the time to contemplate before tearing his headphones off and rushing to his front door, putting on the first shoes that come in handy (which happen to be the ugliest pair of purple dorm shower shoes from his college student days), and bursts out of his apartment.

His fist is just shy of banging on Chanyeol’s door when the panel is slammed open so fast that Baekhyun almost gets dizzy. The combination of lack of sleep and too much liquid stimulant is probably acting up, because he has to lean on the door frame not to stagger from the sheer force of the sound / smell / smoke wave that crashes upon him at full speed. And in the doorway stands Chanyeol, in all his giant, basketball gear glory. His grin is equally giant as he notices Baekhyun whose hand is still hanging in mid-air.

“Oh, hey, Baekhyun! Want a beer?” he says, handing him a cold one. Clearly, it isn’t the first one for Chanyeol, judging by the red splotches on his cheeks and the unnatural brightness of his eyes.

Without thinking, Baekhyun grabs the bottle, dumbfounded. “Basketball? Really?” he asks.

“I’m in Team Angel!” Chanyeol says cheerfully, “Check out my wings!” He turns his back to Baekhyun and displays a pair of fluffy, cheap-looking wings that he probably bought at the local Walmart. “Jongin and I put on the guest jerseys, they’re white, so we’re angels, you see? Come on in, and meet hashtag TeamDevil.” Even though he’d never admit it, Baekhyun is perfectly aware of what pushes him to accept and follow him—it’s called procrastination. Presently, he’d do about anything, including hanging out with inebriated underage jocks speaking Social Network, rather than spend another minute in front of his laptop writing about angsty kids sharing spit. Minseok is definitely going to kill him but he thinks, fuck it!, it’s Halloween, Baekhyun deserves a time-out from the general crappiness of his life.

“Long time no see, huh?” Chanyeol says. “What have you been up to?” When Baekhyun thinks of it, Chanyeol’s right—they barely saw each other over the last month and a half, Baekhyun being very busy working his two jobs, plus writing his novel off the clock, and Chanyeol doing god knows what, in a particularly noisy fashion, if you ask Baekhyun.

“Working, mostly,” Baekhyun says, trying not to sound too bitter. He knows that his current life is in no way ideal or what he’d pictured when he was in college, but saying it out loud makes it sound even duller. Baekhyun wonders at what point he got lost on the way to adulthood—he used to be that cool kid you want to hang out with, the ‘all-around entertainer’, loud-mouthed and kind of an extrovert. The person he is right now is practically the exact opposite from his younger self. If it wasn’t just a little bit lame to quote Nirvana, Baekhyun would say that he’s half the man he used to be, and wallow in self-pity.

But right now, there’s a beer in his hand and dubious music playing, and if there’s any chance that the old Baekhyun is still alive somewhere in him, now is as good as any time to try and pull him back out there. “Alright, I guess I can relax a little,” he says, and Chanyeol smiles brightly, nodding frantically.

The apartment looks like Baekhyun’s, except that there’s one more room—probably the extra bedroom. The place is surprisingly very neat, if you forget the Stella Artois empties littering every flat surface available.

On the couch at the back of the living-room area, two freakishly barely-legal-looking kids are playing what sounds like an intense Mario Kart race. One of them is wearing the other white basketball jersey and the same wings as Chanyeol, while the other one is in red, with a blinking horn headband. First member of Team Devil, Baekhyun thinks.

“Here’s Jongin and Sehun. They’re freshmen, but I’ve known them from the basketball club. We go way back,” Chanyeol says, pointing at them. “Hey guys, this is Baekhyun, my neighbor. Say hi!” The kids don’t even pause their game. The angel one, Jongin, dares letting go of the controller to half-wave, and the stoned-faced devil, Sehun, nods imperceptibly.

“If Jongin’s winning, it means Sehun’s already smashed. Don’t mind them—”

“Cool costume!” Jongin yells anyway. Baekhyun looks down at himself—it’s true that the sweat pants and the socks-and-flip-flops combo are hardly anything you can go out with, when you still have an ounce of dignity, that is. In addition to that, Baekhyun’s X-Men t-shirt has clearly seen better days…well, it’s too late to go back, now.

“You mean the dorm’s resident geek on a fancy date attire?” a low voice says from behind Baekhyun. He swivels around and has to look up to meet the stranger’s eyes. Suddenly, Baekhyun feels extremely small between Chanyeol and the giant blond guy who emerged from what Baekhyun supposes is Chanyeol’s room.

“And this is Kris, our captain.”

“Hey,” Baekhyun says. The guy doesn’t respond, settling for a onceover and the mother of all unimpressed shrugs. His scowl gives off more contempt than what Baekhyun could muster in his entire life, but it just seems like the guy’s default face. Baekhyun doesn’t know if he should be offended or categorize his reaction as a ‘kids these days’ form of rudeness. Chanyeol definitely shouldn’t have skipped Choosing Friends 101.

The team captain, Kris, walks past them and folds his long, thin body on an armchair facing the TV set. His expression is still unchanged, the reflection of the Mario Kart game being the only source of movement in his eyes. “I think he doesn’t like me,” Baekhyun whispers, making Chanyeol lean in a little to hear him over the music and Jongin and Sehun’s excited shrieks.

“Oh no, I think he kinda likes you,” Chanyeol shakes his head energetically. “At least he looked pretty neutral.” Baekhyun gives him a disbelieving look.

“Come on, all he gave me was an eyebrow raise,” Baekhyun scoffs—the experience was pretty scarring.

“And that’s already a lot!” Chanyeol chuckles—it’s not endearing, Baekhyun chastises himself. “Told you he was a bitch.” Understatement of the century, Baekhyun thinks, but he keeps it silent and draws a long sip from his beer. It’s a thousand times better than anything he’s had in the last week, the liquid slowly covering his throat in cold bliss. If Baekhyun listened to himself, he’d down the whole Stella in one gulp, but his goal isn’t to wind up drunk with a semi-stranger and his basketball team—plus, it sounds like the beginning of every bad locker room porno.

“Wanna play?” Chanyeol asks. “Kris hit upon this vintage Game Cube and a bunch of hit games at a garage sale near his house. I can’t wait to play Double Dash!” Baekhyun doesn’t want to put a downer on his bright mood, but he’s grown up playing the Game Cube, and Double Dash is like a second nature to him. However, he loved the game and still does, so, why not?

“We’ve got four controllers, come play with us!” Jongin suggests. “Sehun, scoot! I’ll drive, you’ll be my partner. Guys, be prepared to lose!”

That was counting without Baekhyun’s thorough knowledge of the game. He remembers playing it with Baekbeom, his big brother, for hours, before their parents came barging in their shared bedroom and gave them an earful about how it would fry their brains and other parents’ crap of the likes. He was such a competitive brat at the time that he would practice on his own when Baekbeom was stuck at the library cramming for college entrance exams, until he got to beat him. He still aces now, many, many years later, and he isn’t half-proud when he sees awe and admiration in Chanyeol, Jongin and Sehun’s eyes. Even Kris looks a tad impressed, if the slightly higher position of his eyebrows is any indication. They take turns playing with Baekhyun, who wins every time, an assured smile slowly creeping up his face. Baekhyun realizes he hasn’t had such a good time in ages, and even if that’s a bit sad when he thinks about it, he enjoys himself. He forgets to drink beer, but the game is so enthralling, and the guys are so competitive and excited that it makes up for any buzz that alcohol could bring.

“How come you’re so good at it?” Sehun asks, as he’s taking a break from the game, half-sprawled on Jongin’s lap. “We were still in our diapers when the game came out,” he adds. Well, speak for yourself.

Baekhyun sighs and finally decides to grab another beer. “I played with my brother when I was a kid,” he states, leaving out any unnecessary piece of information. Jongin looks at him, frowning a little, looking like he’s thinking and the process is giving him a headache.

“Wait, how old are you?” he asks, probably giving up on doing the math by himself.

“I’m twenty-six,” Baekhyun answers easily, having mentally prepared himself for this very conversation for the better part of their gaming session.

“Woah,” Sehun says, whistling. “I thought you were our age.”

Baekhyun smiles at that, it’s not the first time—Chanyeol thought the same a little over a month ago, and people usually tend to discredit him quickly because he looks so young. He guesses the excess of junk food and the lack of work-out sessions still haven’t taken their toll on him.

“Well I hate to break it to you, but I grew up with the Game Cube, and the N64 before that,” he says. "Dude, I was alive when the first Playstation was released. I’m ancient, man.” With the way Kris’ eyebrows reach his hairline, Baekhyun reckons he’s won him over, even if just a little.

“You have…experience, I guess,” Jongin attempts. “It’s good.”

Baekhyun chuckles. “Hey, don’t worry. I don’t really feel old...well, I never did before you guys came into the picture.”

They stop playing to talk a little, Baekhyun letting the slight buzz numb his senses, mostly listening to the four boys’ college experience, how Jongin and Sehun’s pledging is way easier than what they expected, because the frat president is too soft and lets himself being bullied instead of hazing them. Sometimes, Baekhyun shares his own student experience and how it was, because he can relate. Chanyeol laughs his way through the conversation—he’s very expressive, slapping his thigh and throwing his head backwards, shoving his friends’ shoulders. Once or twice, he almost slaps Baekhyun’s arm but stops right before touching him. Baekhyun supposes he’s not drunk enough and tries to respect personal space boundaries.

The evening is pleasant—it reminds Baekhyun of his college days, which ended up in a pretty similar fashion, drinking and playing with friends, having funny conversations and playfully insulting one another. He can’t say he misses it, per se, but he’s definitely nostalgic of the time.

Chanyeol and his friends have to go to the frat house for the Halloween party going on there, and they offer Baekhyun to join them. He declines, and after opposing a tough resistance, they finally accept to let him go back to his apartment. Baekhyun wishes them a good time before returning to his writing right away, already regretting taking so much time off. These are precious hours of work he’ll never get back.

Words flow pretty easily after that, Baekhyun having experienced close contact with fine, young male specimens. Let’s be honest, it was like a freaking Calvin Klein runway back there at Chanyeol’s place. Baekhyun isn’t even embarrassed to admit that his eyes were very pleased with the display of long legs and muscled arms. Heck, it’d be masochistic not to look when exposed to it.

It goes on until it’s more morning than night and Baekhyun is taking frequent nosedives. But suddenly, there’s a loud thud coming from next door—is it really necessary to specify?—and Baekhyun wakes up with a start. It’s still dark outside, but a quick glance at the clock tells him that it’s past four in the morning. Baekhyun yawns, stretches away the kink in his back and considers crashing, when another series of noises startles him. Chanyeol is louder than usual, if possible, as it sounds like he’s knocking everything on his way, walking into stuff like a newborn puppy.

Now that I’m up, I might as well help him, Baekhyun reasons as he gets up from his desk chair.

No one answers the door when Baekhyun knocks several times, so he decides to go in uninvited. The lights are out, so Baekhyun uses his phone's flashlight. “Chanyeol, are you okay?” he whispers-yells. The only answer he gets is a snort followed by a soft grunt coming from the couch. Baekhyun finally turns on the lights to find Chanyeol sprawled on it like a sea star, wearing only his boxers. Baekhyun gulps, and tries to focus on the task at hand—getting Chanyeol to his bed unharmed. Well, considering his size, he probably weighs a dead man, but Baekhyun knows he won’t be able to sleep if he doesn’t do anything to help him. He walks to him and pokes him in the shoulder—read: the safest place to poke him that’s sufficiently away from any other tempting body part. Chanyeol groans and turns his head towards him. He opens one eye halfway and takes some time to focus on Baekhyun.

“Baekhyun—” he says, and his voice is so hoarse that Baekhyun has trouble understanding him. “Had too much to drink, ugh…”

“I can see that,” Baekhyun says. “Where’s your room?” Chanyeol looks like he’s thinking hard of how to formulate his answer. “Point it to me.” He does. “Okay, now you’ll have to help me a bit, because there’s no way I’m gonna carry you to your bed bridal style,” Baekhyun grabs a throw that had been left over the back of the couch and covers Chanyeol’s body with it. Better safe than sorry, huh. He manhandles him a bit and makes him lean on him as much as he can take. Luckily, Chanyeol is compliant, even if his legs wobble a lot and he’s about as balanced as a penguin in a ball pit. The route to Chanyeol’s bedroom is chaotic and seems endless to Baekhyun, but they make it there eventually, and Chanyeol crashes face first, taking Baekhyun down with him in his fall.

Suddenly, Chanyeol is all over Baekhyun, which isn’t difficult, judging by their size difference. Chanyeol is super clingy, not to mention super strong, and Baekhyun has a hard time extracting himself from his iron grip. He’s frozen in place when Chanyeol turns to him and nuzzles his neck, breathing out through his nose and effectively tickling Baekhyun. “Stay,” Chanyeol whimpers, and it takes all the will-power in Baekhyun not to yield and spend the night cuddling his neighbor, who resembles a giant teddy bear. A sexy one, if that’s even possible, who’s only wearing a pair of tight boxers and oh my god this situation has to stop right now or Baekhyun will do things he’ll regret later, and this would be dubious consent at best and—what’s he thinking?

Baekhyun jumps off of the bed and tucks Chanyeol in, finds a trash can near his desk and brings it next to the bed, just in case. “You’ll thank me later,” he whispers, but Chanyeol is already snoring. He probably won’t remember anything tomorrow, and that’s best like that.

When he goes to bed at five, Baekhyun feels wide awake. He tries to wash the memory of Chanyeol’s nose against his throat away from his mind, but it’s easier said than done. Especially when another part of his body is clearly awake and disagrees with every reason in the world that commands him to forget. After a half hour of struggle with himself, Baekhyun manages to will away his boner and goes to sleep, hoping he won’t dream of dark red boxers, a chiseled chest and a surprisingly soft-featured face.

He’s so screwed.

--

The next week is a blur of deadlines, papers to grade and stupid freshmen who don’t seem to know their right from their left. Plus, Kyungsoo’s been harassing Baekhyun with e-mails—how did he get his address, anyway?—to make him justify the way he graded him. Baekhyun is angry, but it could be worse, knowing what Kyungsoo is capable of, so he takes the mature way of dealing with things and replies in a cold and professional fashion. Kyungsoo seems to settle for it, so it’s a minor relief in the sea of crap he’s currently navigating through.

When he comes back home on Friday, he receives a text from Jongdae saying he won’t be able to make it for chicken and beer tonight because he has to work a double shift at the ER, standing in for the head doctor. That’s a good opportunity for him, but it leaves Baekhyun and Minseok on their own and Baekhyun isn’t particularly thrilled with the idea. Minseok has been more boss than friend lately, stressed out and pressured by hierarchy. Baekhyun can’t blame him, though, he’d never trade places with him for the world.

Just as he’s about to text him to postpone their weekly outing to next Friday, he receives a text from Minseok himself.

gonna stay in tonight. lu wants me to

To Minseok:
she’s keeping u on a tight leash. careful, bro

He’s relieved, though, not to have to cancel himself.

From Minseok:
idk, she’s been acting weird lately. tty later, she’s back from work

To Minseok:
yeah, ok. take care dude

Baekhyun doesn’t have time thinking this over, because someone knocks less than a minute later. He’s only mildly surprised to find Chanyeol holding a Starbucks cup (“Chai latte!”) and handing it to Baekhyun as a greeting. “Come in,” Baekhyun says, leaving space for him to enter the apartment and take off his shoes. “I was about to start a Star Wars marathon, wanna join me?” he asks without thinking.

“Tell me you’re playing A New Hope,” he replies.

“Of course!” Baekhyun is almost offended that Chanyeol even considered something else. “One does not simply start a Star Wars marathon with the Phantom Menace,” Baekhyun states. Damn, if his last sentence were any nerdier, it’d go LARPing.

“Alright,” Chanyeol grins as he walks past Baekhyun and towards the couch. “Then, count me in.”

They don’t talk much as the film plays. Chanyeol watches reverently, reacting strongly at every milestone or commenting here and there, and it’s quite interesting to look at. Baekhyun even chuckles out loud when Chanyeol changes his voice to act along Kenobi’s famous line ‘These aren’t the droids you’re looking for,’ and gets a falsely-offended, “What? This is cult, Baekhyun!” in return.

Watching a movie with Chanyeol is, Baekhyun learns, twice as entertaining. Firstly, because of course the Star Wars franchise (Episodes IV, V and VI, it goes without saying) is at the top of Baekhyun’s list of Best Movies of All Times (fuck IMDb), and secondly because Chanyeol can’t stay quiet. He tells a bunch of fun facts about the filming that Baekhyun, in all his Star Wars geek glory, didn’t know about.

They’re halfway through The Empire Strikes Back, Leia tells Han Solo that she loves him and he says that he knows, when Chanyeol turns to Baekhyun, “Did you know that Harrison Ford’s original line was ‘me too’, but he thought that it would fall flat, so he took it upon himself to change it at the last minute,” he says very seriously. “I’m glad he did, because it’s one of the best punchlines in the history of modern cinema.” Baekhyun smiles for two reasons—first, he agrees, that is some memorable line, but he’s also pleasantly surprised to discover that Chanyeol is more than a jock in basketball shorts—he’s also an adorable nerd. “What?” Chanyeol asks with a half-smile not totally unlike Ford’s.

Baekhyun shakes his head. “Nothing…I just had a minor epiphany.”

“How can an epiphany be minor?” Chanyeol rolls his eyes.

“Less smartass comments, more watching,” Baekhyun says playfully, and Chanyeol’s attention turns back to the screen. He scoffs, though, and Baekhyun can hear him chuckle and whisper, ‘Who’s the smartass?’.

Baekhyun has trouble focusing on the movie after their small exchange. He can’t stop his gaze from going back to Chanyeol’s general direction. He’s sprawled on the couch, his legs stretched out and his feet resting on the coffee table. Baekhyun notices how long and nice his legs look—they’re lean and smooth-looking, not too hairy and slightly bowed starting from the calves. The ugly red basketball shorts don’t do them justice, but they’re just revealing enough that Baekhyun has to discreetly readjust himself in his trunks.

It’s not okay, it’s so not okay to have under-the-belt thoughts about Chanyeol—he’s too young, it’s wrong! Plus, he’s probably not interested in guys, so Baekhyun should stop torturing himself and go a little lighter on the ogling. He breathes in slowly and looks up to Chanyeol’s face. He’s young and looks so, granted, but he’s also very handsome and manly and it’s so, so bad if even his face does things to Baekhyun. He seriously needs to get laid.

For the time being, he closes his eyes to have nothing potentially arousing to look at and decides to stay that way for a little while. It’s safer, and it’ll help him go soft more quickly.

When Baekhyun wakes up, it’s the middle of the night, he’s alone, and his TV and the lights are turned off. He notices that the DVDs are back in their place, and that Chanyeol put a blanket on him before leaving. Baekhyun sighs wistfully and looks heavenward.

Things would be a lot easier if only Chanyeol were an asshole for real. But unfortunately, he is nice, he likes Star Wars, and he’s environment-conscious. Plus he’s fucking hot and Baekhyun kinda wants into his pants. Things couldn’t have turned out worse.

--

However, no amount of moral chastising could prevent Baekhyun from what happens next. He doesn’t really know how, but he and Chanyeol somehow fall into some sort of routine after that fateful Friday night. On every Friday, after Baekhyun comes back from his weekly chicken and beer with Minseok and Jongdae, Chanyeol comes over and they watch movies, or occasionally play ‘vintage’ games that Chanyeol is particularly interested in.

Incidentally, Baekhyun has already seen every movie they play. He doesn’t use this excuse at all to spend half the watching time looking at Chanyeol out of the corner of his eye. (He totally does). It’s bad, because it does nothing to reduce Baekhyun’s indecent attraction to his way younger neighbor. Well, they’re probably more than just neighbors now. Buddies, Baekhyun would say, to quote early days’ Chanyeol. The problem is, there’s a part of Baekhyun’s body that wants to get acquainted with this so-called buddy’s huge hands, his mouth, his everything. Another, more rational part of him, namely his brain, struggles against that very idea, because they’re too far apart age-wise, Baekhyun still doesn’t know if Chanyeol is interested in the D whatsoever and, let’s be honest, rejection sucks ass. And there’s—

He decides to go to Minseok for advice, after the blunt ‘hook up w him’ Jongdae very helpfully sent him.

To Minseok:
i think i wanna bone my neighbor. i’m an asshole and i’m screwed

From Minseok:
well that’s a new development. he wants u too?

To Minseok:
idk, man. idek if he swings that way

From Minseok:
proposition him. u’ll see then

To Minseok:
that’s basically jd’s advice, just better phrased. u guys suck

From Minseok:
is it about her? man, i thought u had moved on

Baekhyun starts a little at Minseok’s latest text. Of course he’s right, how come Baekhyun never thought of that himself? Of course it’s about Taeyeon, his ex, whose memory is coming back and overwhelms him like a landslide. It’s sudden and unpleasant, but when Baekhyun reflects upon it, it makes perfect sense—he doesn’t want to reproduce what she’s unintentionally done to him years ago.

She was older, she was pretty and fascinating. She claimed she liked him, made him see things he didn’t think he could see in anyone else. She was his world, while he was but a small part of hers. He didn’t know that at the time, obviously. He loved her, or so he thought, and devoted all his time to her. But they didn’t want the same things, and that’s what she told him on a cold, rainy afternoon as they were sitting in a booth at some nondescript coffee shop downtown. Her ‘It’s me, not you.’ and ‘I’m sorry, I like you but I don’t love you.’ still resonate painfully in his skull in a vicious, endless echo.

He’d be a total dick to inflict this kind of ache to anybody, especially to someone as young, kind and innocent as Chanyeol.

From Minseok:
u’re overanalyzing things, baeks. u should leave urself a chance

Baekhyun turns off his cell and throws it on the couch with barely repressed rage and frustration. The fucking psychic!

It’s about time to put some distance between his dick and Chanyeol.

--

Said distance doesn’t wait for Baekhyun to plan anything in terms of giving Chanyeol the cold shoulder. It comes in ways Baekhyun should have expected, but was too caught up in his little world of wistful admiration and lust to think about calendars. It’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and literally all of the students in Baekhyun’s apartment complex are currently at different stages of packing or leaving to spend the holiday with their families. Obviously. A national holiday in a neighborhood mostly occupied by students basically means peace and quiet—it’s what Baekhyun’s been craving for months, and now that it’s happening for real, he’s antsy and restless. Needless to say, he can’t write a single word.

He wonders if Chanyeol is going back home as well. Of course, he is, Baekhyun thinks, but why didn’t he tell Baekhyun? Sure, they’re not lovers, they’re not best friends—they’re mere DVD-night buds, for Christ’s sake. Still, Baekhyun is a bit bothered about the fact that Chanyeol didn’t say anything.

If he were being honest with himself, Baekhyun would admit that he’s having a miserable afternoon. There’s no way to put down a single word, for any of his works, he’s got a heap of dirty clothes gathering dust in his bedroom but nothing to pack—because he’s not visiting anybody for Thanksgiving—, his Häagen-Dazs collection was reduced to nothing the last time he had a daytime TV session, and he forgot to refill his freezer. This is going to be a long holiday—he can’t believe he’s thinking that, but he is.

A bag of chips (yeah, he still has chips) on his lap, Baekhyun opens Netflix and puts on the Supernatural Thanksgiving special episode. Granted, season five is his favorite, and Dean is one hot motherfucker, but all the homoerotic subtext isn’t exactly what Baekhyun needs right now. He still watches, mind a bit hazy with sleepiness and too many confused thoughts.

He nearly jumps from his spot when there’s a knock on his door. “Son of a bitch,” he mutters, and gets up, checking his pants for any chips crumbs, and goes to open. It’s Chanyeol, evidently dressed to travel, and dragging a small suitcase behind him. “Hey, Chanyeol, you leaving?”

“Yeah. Going to spend two days at my parents’. I wanted to say bye, and also tell you that I won’t be able to make it Friday night, obviously. But I mean, it’s okay, you’re going to see your folks too, right?”

“Uh—I’m not, actually. My parents moved back to Korea, so, it’s a bit far away for a holiday this short,” Baekhyun shrugs, trying not to sound too defeated.

“What about your brother? Is he there too?”

“No, he’s in New York but I can’t go there because I have to work on Friday afternoon…”

“Aw…that sucks,” Chanyeol says, making an adorably sad puppy face.

Baekhyun slaps him playfully on the shoulder, “It’s alright, don’t worry about me. I’ll live!” Chanyeol’s face brightens almost instantaneously, and the mere sight brings a smile to Baekhyun’s lips. The kid’s grin is freaking contagious. Or any of his colorful facial expressions, really.

“Let’s trade cell numbers,” Chanyeol offers, taking out his phone. “I’ll send you pics of my parents’ adorable pug to cheer you up!”

“Alright,” Baekhyun says as he types his number into Chanyeol’s phone, thinking that now he can’t risk getting wasted as he planned to, for fear of drunk-sexting him by accident. But he’s just a little giddy he got his number, so it makes up for any future lack of inebriation.

 

He gets smashed anyway, at the Thanksgiving dinner at Minseok’s place, but it’s not his fault, it’s because Luhan’s parents brought a dozen bottles of spiced-up cider that is absolutely delicious, and Baekhyun needs something to moisten the (countless) slices of pie he stuffs his face with.

It’s also because Luhan announces she’s pregnant to her parents and Baekhyun, and consequently, he has to drink to forget that within the next year, there’s about fifty percent chance that a creature as evil and terrifying as Luhan will see the light of day and probably make its life-purpose of ruining Baekhyun’s existence.

He’s being a tad intense, but it’s that secret ingredient in the cider talking.

As promised, Chanyeol sends a bunch of pictures of the dog—pictures that soon turn into selfies with the dog, then to selfies of Chanyeol, documenting his journey from sober holiday to full-on drunk Funny Faces Contest with himself and on occasion, his sister. Baekhyun also learns that Chanyeol is sort of heavy-handed on emoji, but then again, he’s not all that surprised.

In a rare moment of weakness—who is he fooling, seriously?—as Baekhyun is sprawled on Minseok and Luhan’s guest room bed, he thinks that maybe, just maybe, he’s missing the brat.

 

The next morning, Baekhyun is woken up at the ass crack of dawn by a text. It’s from an unknown number.

Hello, this is Junmyeon, I’m the president of Beta Pi. I know that you’re friends with Chanyeol, and since it’s his birthday today, I thought that you’d want to join us for the surprise party we’re organizing at the frat house tomorrow. Please let me know ASAP. Thanks.

Baekhyun shakes his head and rereads the text several times. Chanyeol’s birthday is today, seriously? The jerk didn’t find it useful to tell him? Baekhyun is wide awake now, so he texts Junmyeon back.

i’ll pass, thx. btw how did u get my number?

That was a bit harsh, but Baekhyun can’t un-write it. He shrugs—it’s okay, it’s just some frat kid, after all. He’ll get a present for Chanyeol and offer it to him later, it’s better than to attend a frat party, he’s way too old for that.

He decides to enjoy some more shut-eye, but his treacherous mind is racing, looking for a gift idea. He couldn’t have slept more, anyway, for his cell keeps buzzing from its spot on the nightstand.

From unknown number:
this is sehun.

come to the party or i’ll personally drag ur sorry ass there and u won’t like it

or i’ll kill u

i got a better idea. i’ll torture u

there’s plenty of funny ancient instruments in the chapter room that i’m dying to try on u

u’ll regret it

To Sehun:
fine i’ll go. but enough w the empty threats or i’ll never play mario kart w u again

and how did u get my number???

From Sehun:
looked into yeol’s phone, duh. he’s got no pw. not very smart for an IT student. c u tomorrow at 8pm sharp. don’t be late

Baekhyun mentally slaps himself for being so weak. That Sehun brat had literally zero leverage on him and still, he got what he wanted. Baekhyun groans and sits up in the bed. His headache is borderline bearable, but there’s no pain that Advil can’t beat, as far as Baekhyun is concerned.

He overcomes his baby-hangover to go to the mall and purchase a silly BB8 cap for Chanyeol, because he knows he’ll like it and Episode VII’s goodies are all over the place—so much that it’s almost ridiculous, but Baekhyun is a geek, so he caves and buys himself a bag of Yoda-branded wasabi chips, for good measure.

He sends a quick happy birthday text to Chanyeol, chastising him for not telling him, and receives thanks drowned in a sea of emoji in return. He smiles for the rest of the day.

The frat house is just like Baekhyun imagined it. Large and tacky, with wooden interiors and portraits of alumni hanging on the walls all around the house. In the living area, all the pieces of furniture have been pushed against the walls to leave a wide space which is probably gonna be swarming with sweaty people in a couple hours.

Baekhyun is welcomed by Junmyeon himself, an overly friendly guy with a big smile and perfect teeth. In Baekhyun’s opinion, his face and entire person match the frat president status perfectly. Except maybe the binge drinking. Somehow, Baekhyun has trouble imagining this uptight-looking guy getting wasted on body shots. Well, sometimes, looks can be deceiving.

Baekhyun is quickly introduced to other brothers, but he forgets them as soon as he sees their faces. However, he remembers vividly this Yixing kid, who, despite his angelic looks, happens to be the booze smuggler of the group.

Kris, Sehun and Jongin are already there. Kris and Sehun are lounging on a couch, ‘supervising the operations’, and Jongin, after slapping Baekhyun on the back (‘Glad you could make it, dude.’), returns to preparing a dubious-looking blue punch.

“Where’s Kyungsoo?” Baekhyun hears Junmyeon ask anyone who would listen. Baekhyun’s eyes go wide at that, and suddenly, he utterly regrets giving in to Sehun’s stupid threats, if he has to spend the night in the same vicinity as demon-in-angel-guise Kyungsoo.

“He’s spending the week-end at his parents’ place,” Jongin yells from the kitchen island. “He won’t make it tonight.”

Baekhyun strides toward Jongin, purpose in his step. “Wait, you know Kyungsoo?”

Jongin looks at him with wide eyes, then nods. “Yeah, he’s—”

“Everybody shut up and hide!” Junmyeon shouts from his spot at the window. “Chanyeol’s coming!”

Chanyeol’s surprised face is priceless. Baekhyun regrets he didn’t have his phone out to immortalize it, but he guesses more than half the people at the party shot it, so there’s probably multiple ways for him to get his hands on it later.

The rest of the party is kind of a blur. Chanyeol is everywhere, greeting people, thanking them and trying to talk a bit to everyone. For the first time of his life, Baekhyun feels like the awkward wallflower standing near the kitchen counter, watching his person of interest be a social butterfly while he nurses a too-sweet mixed drink in a red plastic cup. Except he’s not in college anymore, and he’s not even sure he’s romantically interested in Chanyeol. He knows he’s attracted to the guy, but he doesn’t know exactly on what level.

Baekhyun feels a bit nauseous—partly because he hasn't recovered from his Thanksgiving hangover yet (it’s hard, being old stuff), but mostly because the mere smell of the Blue Punch of Doom makes his insides twist in an unpleasant Tower of Terror way. He just wants to give Chanyeol his present and get the hell out of here.

He tries to spot him, which is not a challenge, because Chanyeol is basically a head taller than everybody else, except Kris, really. Chanyeol is sporting his drunk face—Baekhyun has come to recognize it, now that they’ve been hanging out for a few weeks. He’s grinning brightly, hugging people at random, yelling thank you’s over the blaring electronic music.

Finally, after what feels like an eternity, Chanyeol notices Baekhyun among the crowd and beams at him. Baekhyun waves at him, smiling back. Chanyeol navigates his way through the bodies and stops in front of Baekhyun. His gaze is unsteady, and so is his step. He puts a palm flat against the wall behind Baekhyun to lean on, and bends his head. They’re remarkably close, and Baekhyun isn’t ready for any of this. Over the sweetness of the booze and sweat, Baekhyun can smell Chanyeol’s musky scent, it’s manly and heady, and Baekhyun decides he wants to smell that again. He gulps and steps back until his back touches the wall to leave himself enough personal space to breathe without popping a smell-induced boner, if that is even a thing.

“Thanks, uh…fo’ comin’—” Chanyeol slurs, his head lolling, dangerously close from touching Baekhyun’s forehead. From an outsider’ perspective, they must look like they’re about to make out, and Baekhyun doesn’t want people to get the wrong idea. He puts a hand on Chanyeol’s shoulder, which is deliciously sweaty, and pushes him back gently.

“I got a little something for you,” he says, trying to catch Chanyeol’s eyes. “Here.” He hands him the present, the wrapping of which is all rumpled, having been held by Baekhyun for the whole duration of the party. He doesn’t care—in his current state, Chanyeol won’t probably notice anything.

Chanyeol takes the present gingerly, looking almost surprised that Baekhyun offered him anything. “Can I open it?” he asks.

Baekhyun laughs out loud. “No, but you can stare at it all you want, though.”

Chanyeol looks at him funny, confusion creating a slight frown on his brow. Baekhyun laughs again, he should have expected that irony would be totally lost on him. “Of course, dumbass, open it!” Baekhyun shoves him playfully, hand still resting on Chanyeol’s shoulder. “Happy birthday.”

Chanyeol tears the wrapping apart and immediately grins when he sees the cap. He puts it on backwards and leans back a little, for Baekhyun to admire. Baekhyun smiles wide. It suits him. The cap kinda makes Chanyeol’s ears stick out, but it also unveils his forehead and consequently exposes his face—a very, very handsome face, with nice features. Big, bright eyes, a long, straight nose, and full lips. Those lips, though. Get a grip, Baekhyun says to himself, blinking several times.

“Thanks so much, Baekhyun,” Chanyeol exhales, engulfing Baekhyun in a hug. He has to bend, resting his chin on Baekhyun’s shoulder. “You’re the best…I love it,” and when he speaks again, Baekhyun feels how close his mouth is from his neck, and his whole body shivers with barely-repressed arousal. It’s time for him to leave—well, if Chanyeol stopped clinging to him like an overgrown baby koala, that is.

Chanyeol lets go of him, eventually, and Baekhyun looks up at him apologetically. “I’m glad you like it,” he looks over Chanyeol’s shoulder. “Look, I need to take a leak, we’ll talk later, okay?” That was the lamest exit in the history of lame exits, but considering Chanyeol’s state, they’ll have to settle for it.

Chanyeol nods, “Arrright—see you ‘round,” he says, and Baekhyun walks past him, clutching his fists to refrain from looking back.

He’s so done for.

--

“—and so she came to the ER again, even if she wasn’t hurt, because she thought I looked hot in blue scrubs, can you believe it?” Jongdae wonders out loud, disbelief clear in his voice.

“No, I can’t, clearly she must’ve been out of her right mind,” Baekhyun says. That was too easy, Jongdae must be really tired if he lets himself give Baekhyun the ammunition he needs. Jongdae shoots him a look. “So, did you get her number?”

Jongdae rummages through his scrubs’ pocket—he went to Baekhyun’s place directly after his shift—and fishes out a creased piece of paper, “Voilà!” he says, brandishing the handwritten number triumphantly.

“Good for you, buddy,” Baekhyun grins. “Hope it’s gonna work out.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“Let’s just wish she’s just after your scrawny ass and not your doctor mojo.”

Jongdae looks at Baekhyun suspiciously. “How come you’re in such a good mood?” he asks, squinting his eyes, scrutinizing Baekhyun’s reaction. He doesn’t like the path they’re taking and diverts his gaze. “Where is grumpy Baekhyun? Ha! Did you get laid?” Jongdae looks incredulous, and this definitely does nothing good to Baekhyun’s man pride.

“No, I didn’t…not recently, at least.”

“Then what is it—I know!” Jongdae says, brightening up, and Baekhyun can almost imagine a cartoonish lightbulb blinking above his head. “It’s your neighbor, right? You two haven’t had sex yet?”

“Chanyeol has nothing to do with anything,” Baekhyun hastens to nip Jongdae’s idea in the bud. He can’t deal with a nosy best friend right now.

“Says you…” It’s clear that Jongdae doesn’t buy it, but he drops the burning subject to broach more pressing matters—much to Baekhyun’s relief.

Hearing about Jongdae’s love life is a nice distraction from the dangerous Chanyeol-oriented topic. Baekhyun listens dutifully at first, nodding and reacting when prompted, but Jongdae’s in a chatty mood, so he doesn’t interrupt him and lets his mind wander. His thoughts inevitably end up focusing on Chanyeol and their latest encounter, at Chanyeol’s birthday party. Since then, Baekhyun has been thinking of him constantly, vivid images of his hooded eyes, his broad shoulders and large hands have been popping up at random times. It’s sometimes pretty inconvenient, like when he’s in his office at the college, speaking with students, and that he pops an unexpected hard-on reminiscing Chanyeol’s captivating scent. He’d tried the overused grandma-in-underwear or kittens-in-a-blender mental images, but there’s only so much he can resist. It’s especially difficult not to give in and jack himself off when he’s in the shower and imagines Chanyeol pinning him against the wall, grinding against his naked ass, warm water running on their bodies. Or when he’s in his bed at night, during this vague moment between awareness and sleep, when he’s about to drift off and he pictures Chanyeol’s long legs spreading for him—and suddenly he’s wide awake and rock-hard. It feels like he’s sixteen all over again—when he was discovering his flexible sexuality, and unable to control his urges, when he was semi-hard twenty-four seven and had to jerk off several times a day to feel moderately like himself. Well, these times seem like they’re coming back, only without the relief of masturbation, because Baekhyun still has some respect, both for himself and Chanyeol. Still, he has to suffer a severe case of frost-bitten balls.

“—should I text her now, or do I wait a day or two?” Jongdae asks.

Baekhyun looks at him with disbelief. “You’re seeking dating advice from me? You must be seriously crushing on her if that’s your last resort.”

“Come on, what do you thi—”

Jongdae is interrupted by someone knocking on the door. Baekhyun prays that it’s not who he thinks it is. Well, he shouldn’t have skipped Sunday school to go to the playground as a kid, because clearly if there’s a god, he’s punishing him right now. “Chanyeol, hey!”

“Hi, Baekhyun!” Chanyeol smiles, and Baekhyun’s stomach flips. “May I come in?”

“Sure,” Baekhyun leads him inside. “Jongdae, this is Chanyeol, my neighbor.” His back to Chanyeol, Baekhyun opens his eyes uber wide and hopes Jongdae gets the message that if he opens his big mouth to say anything embarrassing, he’ll kill him, dismember him and hide his body parts so thoroughly that they’ll be impossible to recover. Seeing Jongdae’s face turning serious, Baekhyun assumes he’s understood the gist of it—years of practiced telepathy sometimes do pay off. “Chanyeol, here’s Jongdae, my best friend from middle school. He’s a doctor.”

“I can see that,” Chanyeol says, grinning, as he walks up to Jongdae to shake his offered hand. “I’m sorry to intrude, Baekhyun, but I have a favor to ask of you…can I stay here for a little while? I’ve been kicked out by my roommate, and I have this important essay to finish—”

“Sexiled, huh?” Jongdae comments. “Been there…”

Chanyeol bursts into laughter, shaking his head. “Oh, absolutely not. He’s on a date with his books, and he says that my typing is too loud…and for once I wasn’t listening to any music, that’s so unfair.” He doesn’t look too ruffled, for someone who was just ousted from his own room.

“Well, make yourself at home,” Baekhyun says. “You know your way around.”

Chanyeol nods. “Thanks,” he says and heads to the bar separating the kitchen from the dining-room area, where he perches himself on a high stool and opens his laptop. “Don’t mind me!”

“Want a beer?” Jongdae offers immediately.

“Sure,” Chanyeol agrees, smiling.

“No way!” Baekhyun protests. “You just turned twenty, one more year to go, sorry.”

“Baekhyun, you’ve seen me drink more times than you can count. You’ve even drunk with me.”

“Yeah, but this is different. Under my roof, no underage kid drinks alcohol.”

“Technically, this is my roof too…” Chanyeol argues playfully, while Jongdae follows the exchange with a calculating smirk. Baekhyun doesn’t look forward to having the inevitable pending conversation with his best friend. Seeing how much he’s enjoying this, there’s no doubt he’ll give Baekhyun shit. He’s screwed six ways till Sunday.

“Semantics…” Baekhyun sighs, handing him a coke and making a face that says ‘don’t try to resist, I won’t give in to your sweet ass’, well, minus the last part about Chanyeol’s ass. Chanyeol accepts the soda and turns to his laptop again.

The next hour or so is basically made up of Jongdae talking Baekhyun’s ears off, somehow making up for lost time. They’ve both been working a lot since they left college, and don’t see each other as much as they’d like to. Baekhyun shares little, still a bit reluctant to say too much in Chanyeol’s presence. Indeed, Baekhyun knows he’s kinda listening in, because he’s been slipping witty comments here and there, eliciting grins or impressed nods from Jongdae. It’s a pleasant evening, mostly, and Baekhyun sits at a strategical spot—facing Jongdae, but with Chanyeol in his line of sight, behind Jongdae. He can ogle all he wants without being busted, and it sits perfectly with him, because it’s been his unintentional hobby, as of late.

It’s like he can’t stop his eyes from raking Chanyeol’s body whenever they meet. When they cross ways in the hall, Baekhyun is unable to refrain a quick onceover, appreciating Chanyeol’s long lines and broad stature, trying his hardest—and failing—not to recall the mouth-watering image of his bare chest. It’s pretty bad, because Baekhyun ends up feeling squeezed in his pants every single fucking time, and it’s not like he can grab Chanyeol, shove him against the wall and jump his bones right then and there, much to his regret.

There was that one time, a close call, when Baekhyun could just barely keep it in his pants. He was coming back home from the college and had run for the elevator, the doors of which were about to close. And it’s Baekhyun, come on, he wouldn’t take stairs to save his life. Anyway, there was already someone in the elevator, and they stopped the doors from shutting, and that someone appeared to be Chanyeol. And Baekhyun had been stuck in his spot at the sight of a wet, sweaty Chanyeol in full basketball gear. ‘You coming, or what?’ he’d said, and if ‘or what’ meant creaming his pants like a hormonal teenager, well Baekhyun wasn’t exactly very far from that. He’d entered the small cubicle and he’d been overwhelmed with that familiar manly scent that had occupied so many (too many) of his borderline immoral fantasies. The whole ride up had been tense, at least in Baekhyun’s opinion. There had been few words exchanged, the usual greetings and very small talk, and that was pretty much it. Baekhyun had a hard time not to stare hungrily at Chanyeol’s glistening, muscled arms, his bobbing Adam’s apple or his deliciously protruding collarbones, just ever-so-slightly visible underneath the low collar of his basketball jersey. Baekhyun didn’t know it, but fucking a basketball player might have become a new kink of his. When the ding had sounded above them, indicating the end of Baekhyun’s heavily frustrated elevator ride, and the doors had opened, Baekhyun bolted out and nodded goodbye before getting to his door, opening it feverishly and running to his bathroom to have a compulsory cold shower.

One more second in that elevator and Baekhyun would’ve snapped and reenacted the hot, steamy sex from all the elevator pornos he’d seen, combined. That was when he’d realized he was already too far gone on Chanyeol’s body. And the idea of, perhaps, doing something about it, had occurred to him. He’d chased it away and chastised himself immediately, obviously, because Baekhyun is a reasonable adult and he and Chanyeol wouldn’t screw like bunnies, ever.

But at the moment, Chanyeol is wearing safe enough clothes—dark gray sweatpants that are clearly meant to lounge at home, a wide hoodie of a slightly lighter gray and his thick-rimmed, nerdy glasses. His hair is sticking out in every direction possible, because he’s been running his hands in it constantly out of nervous habit, and let’s be honest, it gives a just-been-thoroughly-fucked vibe, and damn it, Baekhyun is thinking about Chanyeol and sex in the same context again…

Baekhyun shakes his head slightly, hoping it’ll also shake away the distracting thoughts. Well, he’s been distracted from Jongdae’s unstoppable chatter for some time now, busy as he is watching Chanyeol’s every move. He tries to concentrate again on what Jongdae’s saying, something about the upcoming Christmas break, how he’s going back to his parents’ in San Francisco, and then he’s vaguely asking if Baekhyun has planned to visit his family too. Aaaaand—that’s his cue to answer.

“Uh, yeah. I’m going to New York to visit Baekbeom and his wife, this time,” he says, nodding. “Last time they came here, so now it’s my turn. Plus, there’s the baby now, so I’m a bit excited. However, I have no idea what I’ll get her. She’s only nine months old, and she’s already got everything, I swear to God,” Baekhyun sighs, still watching Chanyeol’s back, he’s typing something and a new window opens on his laptop, but it’s too far for Baekhyun to see anything distinctly. Suddenly, he turns to him and catches him staring red-handed.

“How about that?” he offers from his spot on the high chair, so Baekhyun has to get up to go see by himself. He bends a little over Chanyeol’s shoulder and looks at the picture of a ridiculous, but cute as fuck, R2-D2 cuddly toy. He loves it at once. “I’m sure she doesn’t have it,” Chanyeol says enthusiastically. “And it’s never too early to start a Star Wars education.” Baekhyun couldn’t agree more. “So?” Chanyeol asks, turning his head to Baekhyun abruptly, and nearly knocking off his glasses, because their faces are way too damn close. RED ALERT. Baekhyun freezes, gulping around the lump in his throat, but he can’t help looking down to those wet-dream-inducing lips—he’s so done. Chanyeol sees it and looks agitated all of a sudden.

“Got to go,” he says, turning away from Baekhyun and closing his laptop quickly. “I’ll send you the link, Baekhyun. Nice meeting you, Jongdae,” he adds, waving at him and shoving his computer in its case carelessly. “You guys have a nice evening. Later!”

And he’s out the door seconds after that, not even letting Baekhyun say goodbye in return. He frowns at the door, deep in thoughts, only interrupted by Jongdae clearing his throat.

“Uh…what the hell was that?” he asks.

Baekhyun throws his hands upward, giving up on hiding anything to his best friend. He’d have found out anyway, he always does, as if he’d been a freaking lie detector in a previous life. “I might have looked at Chanyeol’s lips, he might have seen it and he might have freaked out…”

Jongdae raises his eyebrows, looking nine kinds of unimpressed. “Well, that’s not all surprising, considering the fucking UST radiating from the both of you!” He says, his voice getting louder towards the end. “Just fuck him and get over it already, damn it!”

“Jeez, Jongdae, it’s not that simple!” Baekhyun argues. “Think about it, he’s a student, I’m a teacher, he’s almost seven years younger than me—the kid’s not even allowed into a freaking casino, for fuck’s sake!”

Jongdae shrugs, scoffing. “As if any of these were relevant excuses, Baekhyun. If you keep telling you this, you might just pass a good opportunity to tap that. And that’d be too bad, because as far as I can tell, he wants it too.”

“Okay, stop talking nonsense and get the hell out of here,” Baekhyun says, pointing at the door for emphasis.

Jongdae smirks, “Only if it’s for you to call him back and pop his proverbial cherry.” He cackles and Baekhyun is seriously considering demoting him from best friend status—as well as pondering the meaning of life if your friends are there only to ruin it on a regular basis.

Even so, Jongdae leaves not long after that. Baekhyun is reduced to pacing his apartment like a restless caged animal, thinking about what Jongdae told him—is Chanyeol really attracted to him…sexually? Should Baekhyun try something with him?

Is braining himself against the wall an option? Because right now, it’s the best he can come up with.

--

Suddenly, it’s Friday again, and Friday nights should be something you look forward to. In Baekhyun’s case, it’s a dreaded perspective, because it basically means he’s going to be harassed by his best friends at chicken and beer, and then he’ll be intensely blueballed by an unsuspectingly hot second-year computer science major with stupid sex hair, long legs to die for and a pair of lips he needs wrapped around his dick ten minutes ago.

Instead, he endures his straight friends’ advice on gay sex, inhaling his fried chicken for comfort and drinking too much beer. He wants the buzz to somehow soften the edge of sexual frustration that’s been gnawing at him for weeks now.

But when he gets home, the cold weather has practically sobered him up, and the after-effect is immediate—he’s hot and bothered and in need of a good jerk off. He hasn’t done it in several days, the last time dating back to a rough night of intense writing. Unable to sleep, he’d opened his favorite porn site and jacked to a locker room sex video. He’d felt only mildly better after that, but at least he didn’t feel guilty because he managed not to think of Chanyeol. He’d gone to bed afterward, exhausted but still restless, and his night had been chaotic.

Understandably, he isn’t really looking forward to seeing Chanyeol, if the mere sight of him is going to revive all his frustration and torture-like self-cockblocking.

It’s scary how dead on time Chanyeol is. He walks into Baekhyun’s apartment carrying a bunch of DVD’s to choose from and sporting an excited smile. Baekhyun wonders what it is he’s got in store to be so enthusiastic over. Tonight, Chanyeol is wearing the same gray sweats as he was the last time he was here and a Captain America tee that Baekhyun eyes with envy—this time it’s the t-shirt he’s interested in, not only the body underneath it.

“Team Cap, huh? I pictured you as more of an Iron Man fan,” Baekhyun remarks, knowing that it’s useless to refrain his inner nerd from surfacing in Chanyeol’s presence.

“Don’t get me wrong, Tony Stark’s the shit,” Chanyeol replies, pulling at the hem of his t-shirt and showing it to Baekhyun. “But the Captain’s logo and colors are nicer. I’m fashion-conscious, after all.” Endearing. Baekhyun can’t help chuckling a little at that. “Marvel marathon—sound good?”

Baekhyun nods. “Wanna eat or drink something?”

“Sure, watcha got?”

“Today’s finest. I have—wait for it…pop-tarts, bacon chips and two grape Four Lokos.”

Chanyeol scoffs haughtily, “Sounds about as life-threatening as shouting ‘Obama!’ at an NRA meeting. And wait—I’m allowed to drink, now?”

“Listen, smartass,” Baekhyun answers, squinting at Chanyeol and trying to sound menacing, “It’s either this, or you order in and pay for it. And Four Loko isn’t alcohol. It’s an energy drink.” Baekhyun walks to the couch and flops on it ungracefully, hands full of the aforementioned delicacies. “So,” Baekhyun says, eyeing him over the back of the couch. “Guess you’re not up for sharing a heart attack.”

Chanyeol rolls his eyes and sighs, but he sits down next to Baekhyun anyway. “Shut it and pass the chips.”

Baekhyun beams at him, “That’s the spirit!”

 

A bag of Lay’s and two dubiously sweet drinks later, when they’re done bitching about the production wars on Marvel heroes and complaining about the lack of X-Men in the Avengers franchise, they fall silent for a while and watch the movie. They’ve both seen it (several times in Baekhyun’s case, but huh), so naturally, Baekhyun lets his mind—and his eyes, conveniently—wander. It’s like they’ve been trained over the last few weeks, because they automatically fall on Chanyeol. And Baekhyun has to blink repeatedly and look again to confirm it—there’s a suspect, albeit unmistakable tent down Chanyeol’s pants. Baekhyun stares, for how long, he doesn’t know, but when he finally decides to look up, Chanyeol is peering back at him, already looking like he won’t buy any crap Baekhyun plans on serving him instead of the truth. His expression is also unapologetic, and that is quite disarming, knowing he’s just been busted sporting a hard-on while watching a movie alone with another dude.

“No, it isn’t because of Scarlett Johansson’s ass or even Chris Evans’…everything,” Chanyeol states, strangely unshaken, given the situation.

Baekhyun’s throat suddenly goes very dry. He clears it, “What—what is it, then?” He wants to know, and doesn’t at the same time. The only sure thing right about now it the speed at which his own boner is expanding in his briefs.

Chanyeol ignores his question, “I’m not dumb, Baekhyun,” his gaze is steady, but his voice is slightly wavering. “I’ve noticed how you look at me. No—no, don’t even try to deny it!” he says, shaking his head and smothering Baekhyun’s weak attempt at protesting. “So…I made it pretty clear that we…probably want the same thing.” He gulps, and Baekhyun is fascinated by the movement of his prominent Adam’s apple. He guesses he could find a curly hair in Chanyeol’s ear appealing; that’s how far his sexual frustration’s taken him. Might as well get it out of his system. But he waits for Chanyeol to speak. Consent is a big thing. He prompts him with an eloquent eyebrow raise.

Chanyeol sighs and diverts his gaze. “You’re seriously making me say this? Baekhyun, you’re the worst,” he chuckles nervously and bends his head towards his more-than-obvious erection. “Care to help me with this?” he asks.

It’s like angels are singing Gloria in Baekhyun’s head, bells and feathers and all that jazz. This is happening. That’s what he wants, right? A man has to help his friend get off, that’s normal, isn’t it? Yeah, that’s what you do when a bro is in need, you take matters into your own hands (literally) and you deal with it efficiently.

“Baekhyun?” Chanyeol says, voice soft. “This is embarrassing enough as it is, I don’t need you to go all mute on me. I can go back home if you don’t want t—”

“No! No…I mean—yeah,” Baekhyun stutters. “I—alright, fine. I’ll help you.”

Chanyeol watches him with his wide, bright eyes, as Baekhyun starts moving to choose a better position. He gets up and places himself on Chanyeol’s lap, facing him. “For better access,” he whispers. “You sure?” he asks, for extra confirmation.

Chanyeol nods, “Yeah, please.”

“Then, you need to relax,” Baekhyun says, taking control naturally and pushing Chanyeol gently so that his back hits the couch and his head lolls backward, in some kind of incredulous move. “Pants down.” He props himself on his knees to give Chanyeol space to move. He pulls his pants down to his mid-thighs and sits back down, exposing his arousal even more. It’s painfully obvious and impressive, even through the dark blue boxers. Baekhyun’s mouth is watering. Even in the dim light, he can perfectly make out the nice, swollen curve of Chanyeol’s cock, and he can’t wait to see the real thing. But he decides to take things slow. If this is going to be a one-time thing, they may as well enjoy it to the fullest.

He finally goes down to business. In a firm move, he puts his palm flat over the expanse of Chanyeol’s shaft, eliciting a soft, surprised gasp from him. It’s a bit creepy, but Baekhyun could get off on the mere sound. He starts slow, gently massaging the hardened member through the cotton of the boxers, taking his time to appreciate the whole length and width of it. Chanyeol’s head is still resting on the back of the couch, and his eyes are closed. He’s breathing in short, quick intakes of air, and it’s so hot to see his long neck moving in rhythm with Baekhyun’s stroking that he almost creams his pants on the spot. He knows he’s already leaking precome, though, if the way he’s achingly hard in his underwear is any indication.

After long minutes of this treatment, Baekhyun takes his hand off of Chanyeol, who whimpers, whimpers at the loss. Baekhyun leans in a little, “Don’t worry, this is just the beginning,” he whispers next to Chanyeol’s ear, and he swears he feels him shivering when he breathes hot on the side of his neck. Baekhyun performs some well-trained acrobatics to pull Chanyeol’s boxers down. His cock immediately springs free, violently red and veiny, in all its uncut glory. Baekhyun commits the image to memory and stores it into his wank bank for later. With the tip of his finger, he starts caressing Chanyeol’s dick from base to top, and Chanyeol pants harshly. “Sensitive much, huh?” Baekhyun murmurs, wiggling his ass a little to get himself a bit closer to Chanyeol, thus creating delicious friction. He’s been on the edge for a while now, but he’s had a lot of practice and he knows how to refrain himself from coming right away. This is about Chanyeol, so Chanyeol gets to be pleased. He asked politely, after all.

In a precise and swift movement, Baekhyun grabs Chanyeol’s cock and gives it a first, experimental stroke. Chanyeol gasps loudly, readjusting his head on Baekhyun’s shoulder. “Don’t…stop,” he says, panting into Baekhyun’s neck. Baekhyun smirks and resumes pumping him, but in a slow and torturous fashion. Chanyeol groans in protest and bucks his hips upwards, trying to impose his own, faster rhythm. But Baekhyun won’t have it that way, Chanyeol taking charge is way too hot, and consequently too dangerous—if he continues, Baekhyun won’t be able to last long, and he wants to focus on Chanyeol instead of his own pleasure. He places his thumb on the tip of the head and massages it, spreading precome, and then strokes him more harshly. “Yeah…yeah, like that, yeah—” Chanyeol chants, exhaling messily against Baekhyun’s skin. Spurred by Chanyeol’s reaction, Baekhyun licks his palm and pumps him again, quicker this time, reducing Chanyeol to a moaning mess. He can feel his member twitch in his grip, expanding sporadically, on the verge of exploding. But Baekhyun is a bit of a sadist, so he slows down his rhythm, still working him, but not enough to give him the relief he needs. Chanyeol grunts in a mix of disapproval and utter arousal, “Ah…please…”

Baekhyun inhales sharply, clearly not indifferent to Chanyeol’s low, hoarse voice and the feeling of his plump lips mouthing pleases against his throat. He decides to put an end to this sweet torture by jerking him off in tight, short moves, until he grabs the whole member, wrapping his fingers around it and trying to cover as much cock as possible. One last stroke does the trick, and Chanyeol’s hips stutter uncontrollably as he comes all over Baekhyun’s hand and t-shirt with a loud groan.

It’s so hot that Baekhyun itches to get himself off right away, but he settles for readjusting himself carefully, trying to avoid touching sensitive parts as much as he can for fear of coming undone and ruining Chanyeol’s afterglow. “Feeling better?” he asks, getting up from Chanyeol’s knees to get a tissue from the coffee table. He tosses it to Chanyeol who cleans himself quickly and tucks himself back in his pants.

He nods, looking at his hands, “Yeah. Thanks, Baekhyun.”

“That’s fine. Glad I could help,” Baekhyun says conversationally and cringes at his casual tone, when he feels nowhere near nonchalant.

“It’s the first time…a dude…does this to me,” Chanyeol starts off. “Well, not exactly. Actually, it’s the first time anyone does this to me, period.” He diverts his gaze and fixes it on the screen, where superheroes fight in a blur of brightly-colored costumes.

“I can’t believe it,” Baekhyun says. “You’re handsome, you’re smart. Girls and boys must’ve been throwing themselves at you,” he tries to break the tense atmosphere.

“Well, I had a girlfriend in high school, and she gave me half a blowjob before deciding I wasn’t her type,” Chanyeol laughs humorlessly. “As for me, well, I discovered that tits and pussies weren’t really my cuppa, if you know what I mean.” Baekhyun nods helpfully. “It took time for me to accept and embrace my sexuality, and I’m still in the process of outing myself to people I’ve known forever. My parents and sister know, and they support it, but it’s something else entirely when it comes to grand-parents and conservative relatives, and so on.”

So, getting off makes Chanyeol in a pillow-talk mood. Baekhyun is okay with that and he couldn’t be more understanding. Try telling your eighty-something-year-old great-aunt that you’re an equal-opportunity lover and you’ll know what a good old lecture about morals sounds like. Baekhyun nods again and pats Chanyeol’s shoulder in an awkwardly friendly gesture, considering what they were doing a few minutes ago.

Chanyeol looks down at Baekhyun’s pants, and Baekhyun follows his gaze. He’s suddenly reminded that he’s pretty much still hard and straining against the elastic of his briefs, and that’s an inconvenient way of having a normal conversation with a friend. “Want me…to return the favor?” Chanyeol asks hesitantly.

Baekhyun smiles but shakes his head, “One first at a time, kiddo,” he says and gets up from the couch, trying to ignore his erection. And that’s a feat, because the thing is so obvious it can probably be seen from space.

“That would be, uh, my cue to leave,” Chanyeol says, getting up as well and looking everywhere but at Baekhyun, thankfully. “Thanks again for, uh—yeah.”

Baekhyun waves weakly as Chanyeol sees himself out. Damn awkward post-sex interactions.

As soon as the door is closed, Baekhyun sits down again and shoves his hand down his pants. He releases a shivery sigh when his grip tightens around his cock. He jerks himself fast and efficient, reminiscing what just happened, focusing on the memory of Chanyeol’s parted lips, his soft pants, his mouth tracing involuntary patterns on his neck. The feeling is lingering, still vivid and scorching on his skin. A few strokes are enough to give Baekhyun one of the most powerful orgasms of his life, eyes closing and head jerking back, replaying a slide show of Chanyeol’s sex faces as he rides out the last waves of pleasure.

--

Baekhyun gets no news from Chanyeol all week. He doesn’t text either. He assumes it’s best for the both of them to be granted a time of reflection. Baekhyun doesn’t reflect so much as he jerks off on Friday night’s memories, but that’s close enough. If he thought that finally having a look and actually playing with the holy grail he’d been lusting after for weeks would make him feel better, well, that was total bullshit. Baekhyun hasn’t felt that horny since the two-thousands, and he’s lucky work doesn’t need his effective presence, because he’d have to go there looking like roadkill warmed over, and that’s not a pretty sight to see.

Anyway, now that he’s obtained Chanyeol’s implicit green light to jack the beanstalk with him on his mind, he’s basically been doing just that. At least, he lasted until said approval, he’s got that going for him, and that’s nice—kinda. He deserves his gold ‘you tried’ star.

Friday’s chicken and beer is less awful than Baekhyun expects, because Minseok holds the floor about Luhan’s pregnancy, and that’s a good distraction from Baekhyun’s daily life. Plus, the idea of pregnant Luhan is like the most powerful turn-off in Baekhyun’s book, so he remains unfazed for the whole time of their outing.

Chanyeol didn’t text anything about canceling their movie night, so Baekhyun assumes he’ll be coming over, even if it means maximum levels of awkwardness. Baekhyun takes his time in the shower, just in case. He even cleans his apartment a bit, you know, to keep his mind busy. His dick needs rest too, because any idle moment means thinking about last Friday, which means Chanyeol’s o-face, which means instant hard-on and Baekhyun’s inner demise by yet another jerk off session.

As planned, Chanyeol comes over, a little later than usual, perhaps, carrying chai lattes and carrot cakes, and Baekhyun prays that cinnamon isn’t an aphrodisiac, because he surely doesn’t need any of that.

“Is your team sponsored by Starbucks, or what?” Baekhyun asks, mentally patting himself for finding a safe conversation topic. Chanyeol looks relieved too.

“Eh, I wish it were,” he says, getting rid of his shoes. “I work there part-time, actually. It’s okay, I mean, I get free drinks.”

Baekhyun nods, taking the DVD’s Chanyeol hands him. He’s never thought about it much, but he knows very little about Chanyeol, and somehow, that’s a shame, because it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure there’s more to Chanyeol than a tall and loud frat kid. He’s smart, funny, has an incredibly hot bod and a nice face, and an extensive knowledge of pop-culture. And apparently he also works at Starbucks. Baekhyun immediately stacks this piece of intel in the ‘Chanyeol facts’ box of his mind. He finds himself wishing it were a bit fuller than it currently is.

When they sit down on the couch, the air around them seems to charge with tension almost right away. Baekhyun plays with the DVD boxes to occupy his hands for a while, before choosing one at random and inserting the disk into the player.

They never make it past The Maze Runner’s menu.

Chanyeol scoots over until he’s practically all over Baekhyun, and, in a surge of courage, he looks him in the eye. “Would it be okay if…you know, you could teach me some things?”

Baekhyun leans back a little to get some breathing space, but also to keep his sanity, because being so close to Chanyeol and not climbing him like a coconut tree is definitely easier said than done. “Could you…uh—develop, please?” Baekhyun asks, gulping away his nervousness, or at least trying to.

Chanyeol sighs and looks away, all his previous bravado deflating as fast as it came in the first place. “You’re making this difficult for me, you know that, huh?” Chanyeol chuckles softly, shaking his head, as if he can’t believe what he’s about to ask for. “I’d like you to help me become more assured with my body in a…sexual way. And I want to do what you did to me last Friday.” He turns to Baekhyun and looks at him again, eyes full of determination. “To you, I mean. And, well, I’m pretty sure you’re not a hundred percent against this idea,” he huffs in relief, probably feeling lighter having said all that.

Chanyeol isn’t only smart—he’s also perceptive. He doesn’t need to actually see Baekhyun’s boner to imagine that he was, like, born ready to do the dirty with him. However, Baekhyun doesn’t want to appear desperate. He recognizes that it must’ve taken a lot of guts to ask sexual favors from him, but agreeing right away like he’s dying to do is going to make Baekhyun look like a perv.

Baekhyun shifts, then gets up and pushes Chanyeol so that he sit more comfortably on the couch. Then, he straddles his thighs and smirks a little. “Are you propositioning me?” This time, Chanyeol grins more genuinely, and boy is his smile a gorgeous one!

“Depends,” he says. “It’s up to you. I’m pretty sure that you’ve noticed by now that I’m ready for whatever happens next. And honestly, I’d prefer it to be of the sexual nature.”

Confidence is back in Chanyeol’s voice, which makes his dick twitch uncomfortably, squeezed as it is in the confines of his underwear. He needs out of his pants, like, right now. He feels too warm all of a sudden, so he gets up, takes off his hoodie and his pants. Now only wearing a plain black t-shirt and his boxers, he settles back on Chanyeol’s lap and slides a little bit closer than before, his obvious bulge almost touching Chanyeol’s crotch. “Is that enough of an answer to you?” he asks teasingly. Well, so much for not looking like a sex-deprived bitch.

Chanyeol swallows audibly. “Can I?” he asks uselessly, given the position they’re in. Baekhyun nods, perhaps a bit too frantically, but Chanyeol nods in return and gives Baekhyun a thorough onceover and puts his hands on Baekhyun’s thighs. Baekhyun can’t help shivering at the contact. Chanyeol’s hands are warm and huge, they feel heavy and strong against his sensitive skin as they start stroking him upwards. When they come dangerously close to his crotch, Baekhyun holds his breath, but that asshole Chanyeol decides to remove them at the last moment. Baekhyun frowns, but his disappointment is short-lived, because Chanyeol soon cups his ass, fingers open, covering and kneading his cheeks in a slow, teasing manner. He could totally be a natural and it wouldn’t surprise Baekhyun.

“Yeah, that’s good,” Baekhyun murmurs. “Go on.”

While Chanyeol’s left hand remains securely on Baekhyun’s ass, his right one skirts around his waist, his thumb slightly pulling at the band of his boxers. Finally, finally, Chanyeol’s palm presses against Baekhyun’s groin and he can’t help but letting slip a small moan. He’s been waiting for this for so long, it’s a miracle he’s not already coming from the simple gesture. Chanyeol starts massaging him through the thin cotton of his boxers, alternating between fast and slow rhythms and Baekhyun is already on the verge of losing his mind. He grabs Chanyeol’s hoodie and pulls at it in a silent order to get rid of it. Chanyeol lets go of him for all of two seconds to shed that useless piece of clothing, but that’s too long. Baekhyun is almost whining, but he lets out a pleased groan when Chanyeol resumes his ministrations and he can ogle his muscles working, thanks to a very revealing, loose gray tank top. Looking down at his crotch briefly, Baekhyun can see that there’s a wet spot on the front of his underwear, he’s been leaking precome for several minutes now, and if Chanyeol doesn’t get to the next level pretty soon, he’s sure as hell he’ll come in his boxers and well, that’s not the plan.

“I didn’t deem you to be such a tease,” he says, and he’s surprised at the needy, hoarse sound of his own voice.

“What do you want me to do?” Chanyeol asks coyly. The fucking brat.

“Well, you’re a healthy-looking, clever young man,” Baekhyun says, trying to seem annoyed but sounding more demanding than anything. “I’m sure you’ll figure out what to do by yourse—ah!”

“Like that?” Chanyeol asks, whispering hotly into Baekhyun’s ear, while he’s gripping at Baekhyun’s cock directly through the opening of his boxers. He caresses the head with his thumb, teasing at the slit, and Baekhyun pants harshly, his hands gripping Chanyeol’s sides and nodding at the same time.

“Yeah, yeah—but please, stop teasing already!”

“Alright,” he says against the flesh between Baekhyun’s neck and his shoulder, lips slightly brushing the sensitive skin and leaving a red-hot trail in their wake. And then, he takes Baekhyun’s dick out and pumps it in long, fast strokes, and it’s so different and so good that Baekhyun knows he won’t last more than a minute at this rate. Chanyeol’s grip on his shaft is firm and unrelenting, while the fingers on his ass are so taut that Baekhyun thinks they’ll leave bruises, but he’s okay, he’s totally okay with it as long as Chanyeol doesn’t stop.

“Chanyeol, I’m—I’m close…” Baekhyun says between short, ragged breaths.

“Got it,” Chanyeol says, nodding. He leans back a little and, while he continues jacking Baekhyun with one hand, he takes the hem of his tank top with the other and pulls it up, revealing his muscled stomach and torso, and damn it, Baekhyun was not prepared for an ab shot. It’s so hot and unexpected that Baekhyun gasps in surprise and blows his load in powerful, uncontrolled spurts. Fascinated, he looks as his spunk lands on Chanyeol’s stomach, and runs slowly past the ridges of his impressive six-pack. Let’s be real for one second—he’s never seen anything hotter than that, and it’ll be etched forever at the front of his mental images for future reference.

“What was that?” Baekhyun asks once he’s regained his breath, forehead resting on Chanyeol’s shoulder and eyes still focused on Chanyeol’s dirty stomach.

“Well, I had a last-minute idea to keep our clothes clean,” Chanyeol answers, chuckling softly. “I guess you kinda liked it.” Well, Baekhyun knows an understatement when he hears one.

Baekhyun finally moves from his spot to get a tissue and cleans Chanyeol up himself. The brat has the nerve to giggle. “Hey, it tickles!”

Baekhyun scoffs but smiles anyway, turning to Chanyeol and grazing his groin through his strained pants. “Your turn, now.” Needless to say, Chanyeol stops laughing right away.

 

Later, when they’re relaxed and their needs are sated, they watch the Maze Runner in a comfortable silence. Baekhyun isn’t even curious about Chanyeol’s preference from the main trio, and that says a lot, because on any other day, Baekhyun would be obsessing over Thomas’ fine ass, but not today. No, today, he’s more interested in taut stomachs and basketball-trained hands.

When Chanyeol leaves in the middle of the night, they say goodbye as if nothing had happened, the silent promise of doing this again that’s hanging in the air between them, heavy and consuming, being the sole indication that they jumped over a line that they’ll never be able to cross back.

--

Baekhyun doesn’t even have time to freak out over the new development because he spends his weekend writing, making up for lost time. Last week, he’d been extremely distracted, and consequently unable to be efficient, be it for the romance books or even his novel.

Well now, the need to be fooling around with Chanyeol is nowhere near out of his system, but at least, satisfying it—even if just marginally—fueled his motivation, for Saturday morning finds him sitting at his desk in the wee hours of dawn, when he’d normally be sleeping his hangover away. First, he’s not hungover, and that’s a small miracle considering the gallons of beer he had last night, but what’s more important is that it’s been days—weeks, even—that he didn’t have such a rush of inspiration. And this is no situation to be overlooked in any way. He spends almost his whole weekend writing his novel, junk food at the ready within easy reach, only taking the occasional sanitary break.

That’s why he’s a bit surprised when Chanyeol barges in at around six on Sunday evening with lattes and Nutella cheesecakes. Baekhyun’s stomach rumbles expectantly at the idea, and he realizes he hasn’t eaten properly in over forty-eight hours. Unless, of course, you consider Doritos and salsa are real food.

“Can’t believe you’re still alive with this lifestyle of yours,” Chanyeol deadpans, spotting the empty bags of tortilla chips.

“Says the guy who brought diabetes in a paper bag,” Baekhyun raises his eyebrows, taking the bag from Chanyeol’s hands and checking its contents.

“At least I do sports,” Chanyeol replies, getting his laptop out of his case and putting it down on the kitchen bar counter. “You must have a very fast metabolism if you can absorb so many calories without needing to burn them.”

Baekhyun ignores him pointedly. “What are you doing?” he asks, seeing Chanyeol getting settled as if he has no intention of leaving nor sitting with Baekhyun to watch a movie.

“Uh, my roommate kicked me out again. He’s got that huge quiz tomorrow and he didn’t want to I quote ‘see my ugly-ass face one more second or he’ll wash his red bedsheets with my white socks’ end quote.”

“Ooh, harsh,” Baekhyun whistles, impressed at the threat. He should’ve come up with that one when he was sharing a dorm room with Jongdae back in college.

“Anyway, is it okay for me to stay a bit? I have homework, so I’ll make myself scarce.”

“Depends,” Baekhyun says, smirking. “What do I get in return?” He realizes, belatedly, that given the new nature of their ‘relationship’, it sounds more like a very cheap sexual invitation than anything else, really.

The thing is, Chanyeol doesn’t look surprised—he even takes the bait so, in a matter of seconds, they wind up grinding against each other on the couch, rubbing their good parts until they both come undone. They lounge in the couch silently for a few minutes after, and then they get cleaned up and return to their respective laptops.

Baekhyun inhales the cheesecake, sips his coffee and writes the third of a chapter in one go. It will need further details and serious revising, but he’s made significant progress plot-wise, so he’s pretty self-satisfied. He can also hear Chanyeol type at a fast, steady rhythm, so he doesn’t feel too guilty not making useless small talk to entertain him.

As it appears, the both of them seem quite awesome at avoiding the elephant in the room.

 

It becomes a new routine for them—Chanyeol usually comes to Baekhyun’s apartment every other day after his Starbucks shift, they play with each other’s bits for a while before getting actual work done.

It’s like the Fight Club—they don’t talk about it. Because even though Baekhyun is a literature graduate and a writer, he’s pretty bad with words. When written, words can be revised, edited over and over again, whereas spoken words are final as soon as they leave your mouth and you can’t take them back. Baekhyun is pretty positive he’d ruin whatever they have at the moment courtesy of his defective brain-to-mouth filter, and he’s completely okay with the current situation, thank you very much.

There are too many advantages to this compromise to just let it go. Firstly, Baekhyun gets to have (really good) sex—even though they haven’t explored the entirety of third base yet, but there’s a time for everything. And secondly, he’s never written that much in a long, long time. Actually, it’s been so long that he can’t even recall whether he ever was that productive at some point in his life. His novel starts looking like one for real, and this is a feeling Baekhyun could bask in all day. Even the gay romance books are on a roll, partly thanks to all the fresh first-hand experience he gets on an almost-daily basis.

So, why not take it to the next level, huh?

The thing is, Baekhyun doesn’t want to force anything on Chanyeol. Granted, he’s eager and learning fast, but he’s also new to the whole dude-on-dude sex thingy—Baekhyun isn’t the one who’s going to take things further. Sometimes, it’s okay, because he’s not one to say no to any form of heavy petting with an attractive young man, but some other times, just looking and touching don’t feel exactly enough. But Baekhyun can be patient, especially when the wait is made more than bearable.

 

Anyhow, Baekhyun doesn’t have to worry about that for long, for Chanyeol’s curious nature finally overcomes any sort of boundary there still is between them.

They’re in the middle of a fierce Mario Kart race—Chanyeol became better fast, he’s now a serious opponent for Baekhyun—when, out of the blue, Chanyeol blurts out, “Loser gives the winner head.”

Needless to say, Baekhyun’s Toad is promptly thrown off the track of Rainbow Road and he and his kart end up floating in space while Chanyeol’s character—Bowser Jr—snatches the first place. So much for making this a challenge.

Chanyeol wins, Baekhyun’s got no game whatsoever and owes him a blowjob. A deal’s a deal.

Baekhyun huffs, faking annoyance, and throws his controller onto the couch with false anger before turning to Chanyeol, who’s smiling a very unnatural smile between apologetic and freaked-out. He was probably not expecting his wish would be granted so fast, and isn’t psychologically prepared. Well, at least one of them is.

“Don’t look so afraid,” Baekhyun says, rolling his eyes and placing himself on the carpet, facing Chanyeol and easing his legs apart, keeping eye contact. “Just brace yourself for the time of your life.”

This time, Chanyeol’s laugh is genuine. “If I’d known it would be so easy, I’d have asked you sooner.”

“You’re lucky I’m not a sore loser,” Baekhyun says, adjusting himself so he’s got Chanyeol’s crotch at eye-level and within reach. He licks his lips.

“Uh—” Chanyeol trails off, clearly not buying any of it.

“Alright, I hate to lose,” Baekhyun admits, then he adds, smirking, “but I’ve been wanting to suck you off for a while, so now that I can, I’m not one to deny the occasion.”

Baekhyun’s brash language seems to have a troubling effect on Chanyeol, whose smile falters slightly, before coming back, more assured. “Yeah, sounds more like y—oh whoa!”

In a flurry of swift movements, Baekhyun has Chanyeol’s pants down and cock out, already expanding in his eager hand. “Otherwise, there’d be no way you got away with tricking me like you did,” Baekhyun says, before taking Chanyeol in his mouth.

He’s not one to brag, but Baekhyun knows for a fact that he’s great at giving head, if the memory of his previous male partners’ faces while he was at it is any indication. Chanyeol’s current reaction proves him right, what with the badly-repressed strangled sound coming from his throat and the way he jerks his head backward, as if he can’t believe what’s happening to him. “Fuck...” he says, exhaling loudly. His hands soon find purchase in Baekhyun’s hair, fingers twitching occasionally, applying barely-there pressure from time to time, in sync with harsh little pants as Baekhyun works him to full hardness thanks to hand and tongue.

Chanyeol is very well-behaved, preferring scratching at Baekhyun’s scalp to bucking his hips forward—Baekhyun doesn’t even have to push him back. But it also means that he’s holding back, and Baekhyun wants him to let go entirely, to enjoy the moment to its fullest. He pulls off with a wet-sounding pop and Chanyeol whines, whines at the loss, finally catching Baekhyun’s eyes again, as if asking: ‘Why?’ with a disconcerting beat-up puppy frown.

“Relax,” Baekhyun says, running his palms up Chanyeol’s thighs soothingly. “Everything will be okay, as long as you don’t decide to fuck my mouth like an animal in heat.” Chanyeol nods and as soon as Baekhyun resumes his ministrations, his head comes to rest on the back of the couch again, as if it’s too dirty and too much to keep looking Baekhyun in the eye as he’s sucking him off. It’s perfectly a-okay with Baekhyun, because he likes giving as much as being on the receiving end of a blowjob, and the long, smooth expanse of Chanyeol’s neck, heaving with powerful intakes of breath, is also a pretty awesome sight.

Let’s be honest, Chanyeol’s cock tastes like pretty much any other cock, but it’s hot and heavy and thick against Baekhyun’s tongue and so definitely Chanyeol that it has him hard and aching in his own bottoms as well.

Baekhyun is being slow and thorough, willing for it to be a hell of a first blowjob experience for Chanyeol and pushing his own pleasure to the background. If he’d listened to his body, he’d be humping the carpet at the moment, but he’s still clear-headed enough for now to keep going for a good extra two minutes. Chanyeol is a mess—his fingers, formerly gentle, start pulling at Baekhyun’s hair whenever Baekhyun tries something new. Also, Baekhyun is a little shit, so he repeats those precise moves just to elicit broken moans that sound like music to his ears. Plus, he might have a kink for Chanyeol tugging his hair.

Soon, he can’t take it anymore and starts palming his own erection through the fabric of his pajama pants. Well, okay, he’s gone commando today, because he knows that whenever Chanyeol is in the vicinity, things such as trunks or boxers happen to become useless and in the way in a matter of minutes. Might as well accelerate the process by not wearing any at all. Practicality, is what it’s called. Baekhyun knows that as soon as he starts playing with himself, he becomes sloppy and a bit less coordinated, but it’s okay, for Chanyeol is too far gone already, all but choking out grunts and moans and loud sighs. Chanyeol is close, Baekhyun can tell by the frantic breaths and the way his thighs start quivering uncontrollably. Chanyeol tugs Baekhyun’s hair and Baekhyun takes it as a cue to speed up his pace, instead of pulling away. Chanyeol stares at him, a mix of panic and extreme arousal in his eyes, “Baekhyun—I’m…I’m too close, what are you doin—ah!” With his free hand, Baekhyun presses Chanyeol’s knee in a comforting way, trying to assure him via touch and telepathy that’s it’s fine, he can come in his mouth.

A few more seconds of this treatment have Chanyeol coming apart, hips stuttering slightly as he releases his load in Baekhyun’s mouth, who takes every last drop of it easily, pumping him with his fist through the last waves of his orgasm. When he lets go of Chanyeol’s now limp dick, it’s squeaky clean and he smiles up at Chanyeol, who’s looking at him with wide eyes, pupils blown with remnants of lust.

“That was…” Chanyeol says, looking still a bit dazed, but sated. “Awesome.”

It’s not awesome, it’s bad, in an I-didn’t-plan-for-anything-of-this-to-happen kind of bad, because Chanyeol then insists that he gives him a good time with his mouth in return. And Baekhyun should have known it by now—he’s weak, especially when Chanyeol is basically begging him to offer a blowjob and seriously, who is he to refuse?

Chanyeol is sloppy at first, but like everything else, he learns quickly, and giving head becomes no exception to the apparently limitless range of skills he possesses. Baekhyun is just a bit impressed.

He doesn’t have much time to ponder over this, though, for Chanyeol is making an eager mess—there’s a tad too much saliva, but it’s hot in a dirty way, a whole lot of eye-contact and Baekhyun is so high on pleasure he knows he won’t last long, and it’ll be embarrassing. “You’re a menace,” he whispers in-between pants, carding his fingers through Chanyeol’s soft and thick hair, and Chanyeol moans in approval around his cock—and this should definitely be illegal. “If you keep this up, I won’t be long,” Baekhyun says softly, brushing Chanyeol’s fringe away from his eyes. He nods slightly, as much as possible, and gives Baekhyun an ‘okay’ sign. Baekhyun is ashamed to admit that as soon as he gets the green light from Chanyeol, he lets go completely.

Baekhyun cries out a broken, surprised moan as he comes hard mere seconds later. He’s glad he gave Chanyeol the heads-up, because it was a close call. How come an inexperienced college kid has such an effect on him? Chanyeol chokes on the come, but makes a show of swallowing everything, licking Baekhyun clean until he’s so sensitive he has to pull away, to his great dismay.

This time, it’s a bit more difficult to concentrate on his writing, for he’s having a hard time recovering from his intense orgasm. If someone had told him he’d have a regular sex life a few months prior, he’d have laughed at their face. Now he even wonders how he managed without it. This kind of addiction can’t be healthy, that he’s convinced of.

 

The next thing he knows, Baekhyun is done with his gay romance assignments. He’s caught off guard, because it’s the first time in his writing career that he’s even finished anything before deadline, and suddenly, he doesn’t seem to know what to do with himself. He could go to the movies, or run around the block. He could do many things he likes and has been neglecting for a long time, but for some reason, there’s nothing more appealing at the moment than sitting on his couch and looking at the ceiling, thinking that there’s no urge to get his ass up and do grown-up things. That’s an unsettling feeling. Minutes or hours later, his phone vibrates where it’s tucked between his thigh and a throw pillow.

From Chanyeol:
look, a teddy bear ʕ•㉨•ʔ

There’s a pic attached to the stupidly endearing, childish text. Baekhyun’s cell displays the grainy image of the milk foam on a cup of coffee, looking more like a deformed horse than a bear, really—obviously shot hastily, because Chanyeol surely isn’t allowed to use his phone during his shift at Starbucks.

Suddenly, there’s this warmth seeming to envelop Baekhyun, taking him by surprise as he’s lounging on his couch, muted daytime TV playing on the screen. Baekhyun isn’t one for drama, but he’d preferred to have this kind of epiphany in a better decorum. Somehow, knowing that Chanyeol went out of his way to send him a seemingly meaningless picture makes him tingly and weird all over.

A few minutes later finds him walking to the Starbucks Chanyeol works at without realizing he’d taken that way. Baekhyun stops dead in his tracks in front of the shop, so that a middle-aged woman bumps into him from behind and uses a very flowery language that should certainly make him feel like the worst human being for standing in her way but there’s nothing that could deter him right now.

Through the window, he can see Chanyeol behind the counter, taking orders and manning the cash machine, dazzling smile always at the ready for the customers. This smile doesn’t reach his eyes, though, it’s a professional one, perfectly well-oiled and suitable, but it makes Baekhyun realize that over the time they spent together, he’s learned to know Chanyeol’s expressions.

Baekhyun loses track of time, watching Chanyeol working, looking at ease and busy in a familiar environment, moves precise and obviously frequently repeated, but his lanky limbs and flailing arms betray his inner klutz—once again, it can only take trained eyes to notice things like that. Baekhyun shakes his head moments later, deeming he went past the acceptable maximum duration of standing in front of a shop staring through the window without looking like a creeper—which he probably is at the moment, really.

Just as Baekhyun’s about to enter the shop without a plan, he sees Chanyeol lifting his head from the cashier and a blinding smile lights up his face instantly. There’s a boy coming from the backroom and suddenly all of Chanyeol’s attention seems to be focused on him. And Baekhyun’s had enough practice to decipher from his smile that this boy means more to him than any customer, that there’s some kind of bond between them that’s more than a mere professional relationship. The boy says something and Chanyeol laughs, leaning down and slapping the counter like some monkey on speed. Baekhyun steps back a little, before turning away and walking back to his apartment.

When he’s in his bed that night, he can’t help thinking back to the afternoon. What was he going to do? He and Chanyeol aren’t boyfriends. They’re friends that like to play video games, watch nerdy movies and touch each other’s dick to pass time. They don’t visit each other on their workplaces, they don’t talk feelings. Admittedly, Chanyeol sends him cute texts on occasion. Way to mess with Baekhyun’s head, seriously.

And then there’s this guy. Tall, dark and lean—everything Baekhyun isn’t. What’s that? Baekhyun refuses to be jealous. Chanyeol doesn’t belong to him, he has no claim on him whatsoever, they’re friends with benefits at best and Chanyeol is freaking young, on top of everything.

Baekhyun buries his face in his pillow and kicks his mattress in a very mature fashion. His totally appropriate schoolgirl fit is interrupted by his cell blaring the offending tune indicating he’s received a text.

It’s a dick pic. A freaking dick pic. From Chanyeol.

Well, hello mixed signals and confused feelings.

Actually, he blames the fact that half of his blood is currently rushing south for making his brain unable to process anything more coherent than ‘fuck, that’s a nice dick, I need to get off right this moment’.

Jerking it has very little to no effect whatsoever, apart from temporarily calming his boner down. The confusion is still there, glaring at him in the dark, taking the form of two very different attached pictures in Baekhyun’s cell gallery.

Baekhyun falls asleep wondering what to make of Chanyeol’s text and more generally, his behavior when he’s around Baekhyun. The guy’s a puzzle that he’s yet to put together but he figures that in the meantime, it won’t hurt to have a blast—on the sexual level, that is.

 

It turns out that Chanyeol is a serial texter. Most of his texts are dumb pictures of everything and anything, sometimes, it’s random trivia about comics and movies and some other times, it’s about how his classes are boring, how he craves this and that, how his legs are cramped under a library table and how he’d like to study at Baekhyun’s place better.

When he doesn’t text, it’s because his hands are otherwise occupied, namely fisting Baekhyun’s cock while he’s taking Blowjob 101 on Baekhyun’s couch.

On bad days, Baekhyun wonders if Chanyeol’s just practicing on him to be ready and experienced for the Starbucks kid he saw the other afternoon. On good days, he deludes himself thinking he’s perfectly okay with their situation, that having casual sex with Chanyeol is completely satisfying his confused emotions. But then again, it seems like it’s a mutual agreement not to talk feelings or anything hinting at the mere idea of a relationship.

And yeah. Baekhyun is pretty sure that’s what he’s in for. A romantic relationship.

However, with the way everything started between them, Baekhyun is forced to acknowledge that, in the near future, shit is bound to hit the fan.

--

It’s already mid-December, Christmas is looming over everything in town, and ridiculously cute couples walk hand in hand under the blinking lights in the streets. Everything smells of cinnamon, chocolate and baked goods, and Baekhyun remembers why he hates this time of year. It’s been years since he was actually in a serious relationship around this holiday, and the whole world seems to be conspiring against him to remind him of his painfully obvious bachelor status.

Consequently, Baekhyun’s reasonable defense mechanism is to remain confined in his apartment, at his desk, desperately typing his inspiration away, hoping there isn’t too much angst transpiring into his work.

“Hey, Baekhyun?” Chanyeol says from his usual spot at Baekhyun’s kitchen counter. He now does his homework at Baekhyun’s place every evening after his shift, gradually settling his presence in Baekhyun’s life as smoothly and naturally as if he were supposed to be there from the beginning. They fall into step easily, navigating through Baekhyun’s apartment without colliding, except when there is sexual interaction involved, that is.

Baekhyun hums from the desk, not even bothering turning from his computer. “I’ve been dying to ask you for quite some time,” Chanyeol starts off, sounding a bit unsure. Baekhyun’s silence prompts him to go on, “what are you writing?” Baekhyun’s breath hitches in his throat. “I mean, I know you write gay Harlequins, you told me but. That’s not it, is it?”

Baekhyun knows a dangerous terrain when he starts treading upon one. And this is probably the best-guarded minefield in his life. He’s reluctant to speak about his work with strangers but let’s be honest one second here, Chanyeol is hardly a stranger anymore. They’ve crossed way too many lines and boundaries not to feel at least a bit comfortable around each other. Hell, Baekhyun never managed to work next to anyone else before him. If there’s one person that it’s safe to talk about his novel with other than Minseok, it definitely has to be Chanyeol. Even Jongdae knows almost squat about it, and that’s saying something, considering Nosy-as-Fuck is his middle name.

Baekhyun repositions himself more comfortably on his desk chair, making it swivel to face Chanyeol, whose attention is entirely focused on him now. “You realize I’m about to tell you about something highly personal that I don’t share with anyone?” Chanyeol nods eagerly. “Well, consider yourself lucky because this day will go down in history—the day I tell you what I’ve been spending a good part of my writing life working on.”

Chanyeol shuts his laptop, ready to listen gingerly.

“This novel I’m writing, it’s like my baby, you know? It’s a dystopia—in a post-apocalyptic future, a bunch of people start a rebellion against the regime, and it involves a lot of action, some pretty intense adventure, a gazillion intricate new technologies that I’m still trying to figure out myself and a touch of romance, of course.” Baekhyun sighs, feeling like a major fool. “Okay, I realize that when described like that, it sounds like every other teen-aimed dystopia, and you’ll probably think I’m deluding myself thinking I’ll be able to be published one day…” Baekhyun is used to dissing his own work, preferring not to nurse too many illusions for fear of seeing his dream being crushed and not surviving it.

Chanyeol has yet to say something. His mouth is agape and his eyes wide, but soon enough, he shakes his head frantically, “No!” He nearly shouts, then adds, in a softer voice, “That’s not what I think at all. Baekhyun, it’s great, it’s awesome.” He gets up from the high stool he’d been sitting on and walks up to Baekhyun, placing his hands on his shoulders and looking him dead in the eye. “Please, stop discrediting your work. If you don’t believe in it yourself, who will?” He looks scandalized, throwing his arms up and pacing the room in front of Baekhyun. “I wish people would stop considering sci-fi, fantasy, comics and basically every teen novel as literature’s ugly ducklings! I don’t see why people couldn’t enjoy both Faulkner and Rowling! They aren’t mutually exclusive… I’m sick of all this literary elite fuckery, and if you of all people take part in it, well, modern literature’s a goner.” He stops in the middle of the room and looks at Baekhyun apologetically, running a nervous hand through his already messed-up hair. “Sorry about the rant.”

Baekhyun snorts, smiling slightly. “Actually, I’d consider it more like a pep talk in disguise,” he replies. “Thanks, Chanyeol. It means a lot.”

Chanyeol rearranges his fringe sheepishly, a flush creeping up his neck and creating red splotches along its way. “Ah, don’t mention it,” he says, putting away his laptop. “I, uh, gotta go. I got this huge test tomorrow, I’m gonna try and get some shut-eye.”

“Yeah, do that.”

Chanyeol waves awkwardly before going out, leaving Baekhyun to his conflicted but mostly content thoughts about what just happened.

 

The next day, as he’s in his office grading papers, Baekhyun receives a bunch of strange image texts from Chanyeol. He doesn’t understand what it is at first, but the captions help him understand what it’s about, after receiving five or six pictures.

From Chanyeol:
this is a cooling room to keep the college’s hard-drives. this is where we store all the data. see the pictures for reference ^^

do u have other things u need to know about high tech? i’m here to help!

To Chanyeol:
thx! actually, theres a character who needs to hack into the gvmt. for this, he has to create a program that will disable the gvmt’s firewalls for a short time during which he’ll be able to break in

From Chanyeol:
on it

Several hours later, Baekhyun comes back home and is only marginally surprised to find Chanyeol waiting for him in front of his door, looking as excited as a kid on Christmas day. “What?” Baekhyun asks, “Just saw Kobe Bryant or what?”

“Lakers, ew,” the face Chanyeol pulls is so epic that Baekhyun makes sure to put it neatly in his mental Chanyeol box.

As soon as they go inside, Chanyeol draws a chair from under Baekhyun’s dining table and puts it next to Baekhyun’s desk. He settles his laptop on the table and turns it on, under Baekhyun’s stunned scrutiny. “What are you doing?” Instead of answering, Chanyeol waves him over.

“I have something to show you,” he says, rummaging through his computer bag and taking a soft-cover binder out of it. “This, Baekhyun, contains the bases to programming and coding, and basically everything you need to know for your hacker character that won’t be like making a four-year-old read classical Arabic.”

“Thanks for the analogy,” Baekhyun says, his tone amused rather than offended.

They spend the next hour flipping through the binder, Chanyeol teaching basic points to Baekhyun, and telling him how that could help him write the process of hacking into the government while remaining understandable to any reader who’s not a computer engineer. Baekhyun is fascinated. First, it’s helpful as hell, because now a lot more things make sense to him, and it also allows him to point out glaring mistakes he made previously.

“Say Chanyeol, would it be too much to ask to go over some parts of the book and tell me if I make any sense?”

“Sure,” Chanyeol says, nodding. “Show me.”

Over the next two hours, Chanyeol reviews Baekhyun’s text, helps him correct his errors and adds interesting tidbits that Baekhyun hurries to put down in words. He’s extremely grateful, because now all the high tech parts of his book look good, as if he really knew what he’s talking about, and all of this, thanks to Chanyeol’s awesomeness. He can’t believe Chanyeol’s such a great friend—as well as a fucking computer genius—that he’s okay spending hours teaching Baekhyun’s literature-oriented mind how something as complicated as programing works.

When they’re done, Baekhyun honestly feels like his brains have melted into goo, but more importantly, he’s so happy and excited that he could take a ten-mile run around town, just to expel all the extra energy. He hasn’t felt that good in a long, long time, and he’s pretty sure the indelible smile he’s sporting at the moment makes him look like SpongeBob SquarePants would if he was given a lifetime worth of Krabby Patty free coupons.

“Ugh, I can’t work anymore,” Baekhyun says as he gets up and goes straight for the couch. “Let’s watch a movie. You mentioning J.K. Rowling yesterday made me crave a Harry Potter marathon.”

“I can live with that,” Chanyeol agrees, smiling as well.

Baekhyun’s current giddiness is almost strong enough to make him forget the conflicting situation he’s in. He’s sitting on a couch with a very attractive, very hot young man, whose pants he’s been in a number of times he lost count of a long time ago. The problem is, this very man is only interested in practicing sex with him, for the sole purpose of gaining experience and thus become a Baekhyun-approved sex god to be delivered to the world.

Needless to say, Baekhyun is hotly against this prospect. But what can he do, huh? Unless he seduces him in order to keep him to himself, which would be pretty damn selfish by the way, he doesn’t know how to prevent it from happening.

They’re in the middle of an argument on who is more awesome between Hermione and Luna when Chanyeol, who’s a fierce Hermione supporter, tackles Baekhyun to the carpeted floor, in case he needed to make his opinion clearer. “I’m pretty sure Hermione wouldn’t rely on violence to prove her point,” Baekhyun says teasingly, his tone instantly becoming sultry, considering the position they’re in. Chanyeol catches up immediately, his pupils growing wider by the second. He leans in a little, his body flush against Baekhyun’s and pressing with purpose in all the right places.

“Tell me you don’t like it and I’ll let go immediately.”

His breath is hot against Baekhyun’s face, his mouth being just inches apart from his own. If he had a sliver of common sense left, Baekhyun would probably turn away and extricate himself from this slippery position. But huh, Baekhyun isn’t exactly the poster boy for iron will, nope.

So he decides, fuck it, and closes the gap between their lips.

It’s everything Baekhyun’s ever wanted, and more. Chanyeol doesn’t pull away, he responds instantly, as if he’d been waiting for this to happen forever. Baekhyun gasps, surprised by his own bravado, and Chanyeol takes the opportunity to slide his tongue in Baekhyun’s mouth. Baekhyun is happy to discover that on top of being a great kisser, Chanyeol does so with his whole body. He’s hungry but attentive, his lips are a bit chapped but otherwise pliant and perfectly wet, and his torso and pelvis seem to undulate at the same pace his tongue explores his mouth. Baekhyun grabs Chanyeol’s nape and runs his fingers in the short hair at the base of his neck, eliciting a very hot groan from him. Chanyeol pulls away for a second so they can take much-needed air, then starts licking Baekhyun’s lips, the corner of his mouth and drops a series of small kisses along Baekhyun’s chin and neck. Baekhyun arches his neck to leave him better access and parts his legs so that their crotches can receive delicious friction. Baekhyun is already aroused, but he isn’t ashamed, for Chanyeol isn’t on the soft side either. Baekhyun moans loudly when their dicks rub against each other, even though he’s wearing jeans and he feels uncomfortably squeezed in them. Chanyeol swallows Baekhyun’s (manly) whines with his mouth, clamping his lips against his and thoroughly ravishing him. With the hand not busy caressing Chanyeol’s neck, Baekhyun reaches between them and, with trained dexterity, manages to unbutton his and Chanyeol’s flies, leaving them much freer without the denim barrier. The fabric of their underwear might as well be inexistent, for they’re finding each other immediately and continue rocking their hips together. Chanyeol seems to be first to lose it, if his rhythm becoming fast and erratic is any indication. Baekhyun takes it as his cue to shove his tongue in Chanyeol’s mouth and kiss him frantically. He sucks at his under lip, before slightly nipping at it. It appears to do the trick, because not a second later, Chanyeol shudders, exhaling loudly, and comes against Baekhyun, dropping his head, still looking at Baekhyun. It’s so hot that Baekhyun loses it as well, biting his own lip at the sight, and comes a few seconds later.

Later, they’re silent as professor Quirrell is stuttering onscreen, obviously not talking about the fact that they just came in their pants like a pair of hormonal teenagers. Above all, they don’t mention the fact that they made out like long-lost lovers, putting the McAdams-Gosling duo from the Notebook to utter shame. Baekhyun is pretty sure that kissing equals breaking a dozen unspoken rules between them, but he can’t seem to regret it for now. He’ll freak out tomorrow.

--

“I’m proud of you, Baeks, you’re doing great,” Minseok says, sweat waterfalling from his forehead as he’s running on the treadmill next to Baekhyun’s. “I’ve never seen you write as fast as you’re doing now.”

They’re at the gym, it’s Baekhyun’s annual work-out session, and he’s already out of breath, even though he’s put the machine on four while Minseok’s is on eight and if you overlook the lake Michigan worth of sweat, he doesn’t seem affected at all. Freaking sports-addict.

“I’ve been inspired,” Baekhyun answers between harsh pants. God, he needs to slow down on the donuts if he wants to avoid heart attack and live past fifty years old. “And now that the gay romance is out of the way, I can focus on my novel full time.”

“Uh huh,” Minseok says eloquently, but years of friendship signal to Baekhyun that he knows there’s more to it. “I’m sure this Chanyeol kid has something to do with your sudden inspiration.”

Baekhyun loses his footing and very nearly falls backward from the treadmill. He catches himself at the last moment and slows the pace down, feeling exhausted already. “What? Why would Chanyeol have anything to do with—” But then Minseok looks at him with an expression saying ‘look at my face, does it look like it belongs to someone who’s buying any of your crap, you half-wit?’, or something along the same lines, and Baekhyun knows he’s just a little bit screwed.

“Please don’t tell Luhan,” he begs, defeated.

“Ugh, it’s complicated to hide anything from her, you know how hard she pries…and now that she’s pregnant, it’s even worse,” Minseok says, sighing, but looking fond instead of utterly apologetic, like a true friend should be. The traitor.

Baekhyun groans, not happy about the prospect of his impending Luhan-induced death.

“Anyway, I’ll have to thank Chanyeol, on occasion,” Minseok adds, smiling that gummy smile of his. “He might make me rich, someday.”

“Hey,” Baekhyun protests half-assedly.

“I know he’s important to you, man, don’t even try to deny it. Heck, he’s practically your muse.”

“Please!” Baekhyun whines, throwing his arms up and consequently almost falling again. “Don’t.”

“But you like him, don’t you?”

Baekhyun turns the speed up again, and starts running as if he wanted to escape reality biting him in the ass. Too bad he’s a poor runner, because it rushes at him and hits him in the solar plexus like a freight train. “Sure,” he whispers, his answer drowned out by the sound of his feet against the rubber.

“Can’t hear you, Baeks.”

“Fuck, Minseok!” Baekhyun shouts, earning a bunch of dirty looks from toned assholes. He lowers his voice, “Yeah, I like him,” he admits. “God, you’re the worst.”

The tiny smirk on Minseok lips proves that indeed, he’s the absolute worst.

--

Things become a little more complicated now that freaking feelings have entered the picture. Baekhyun had been pretty convinced he was perfectly able to dissociate sex and feelings but apparently it took a basketball player slash college frat kid slash computer science genius to make everything Baekhyun believed in and relied on crumble like a pitiful sand castle stepped upon by a bunch of beach bullies. Seriously, he’s watched enough chick flicks to know that fuck buddies either end up together and everything is dramatic-kiss-on-Brooklyn-Bridge perfect, or serious, depressing crap goes down to sadder levels than Mufasa’s death in the Lion King.

However, whatever resolve Baekhyun had to keep it in his pants in order to leave himself some time to put his feelings in check instantly flies out the window when a very sweaty, very glistening and very hot Chanyeol knocks on his door an evening after basketball practice. Did Baekhyun ever mention he has a thing for Chanyeol in basketball gear? Well yeah, probably a couple times, but man is Chanyeol sexy with baggy shorts and a loose, low-collared jersey, arm muscles still warm and twitchy from intense exercise, and yeah, Chanyeol’s body has pretty much the same effect on him as the little blue pill—and not the one from the Matrix.

Chanyeol hardly has time to say hi before Baekhyun grabs him by the front of his wet shirt and pulls him inside, closes his door and shoves him against it. He kisses him hungrily, lips frantic and bruising against Chanyeol’s soft ones. Chanyeol responds with just as much enthusiasm, promptly wrapping Baekhyun in his arms and lifting him up. Baekhyun’s legs naturally fold to encircle Chanyeol’s waist and they bump against the door in an attempt at not falling in a tangle of limbs. Baekhyun can feel his erection growing when Chanyeol starts kneading his ass with his big hands, massaging it through the cotton of his dress pants.

Chanyeol strengthens his grip on Baekhyun’s ass, making him shiver pleasantly in the process, and takes him to the couch, nearly knocking over a lamp on his way. He sits them down heavily, their lips still attached, only parting when they need to get some air. Baekhyun’s hands are fisted in the front of Chanyeol’s jersey, feeling the flimsy material slip between his fingers while Chanyeol’s hands roam underneath Baekhyun’s shirt, caressing his back with his warm palms and fingers. Baekhyun pulls away to relocate his attention on Chanyeol’s neck. He noses at it first, inhaling sharply and letting Chanyeol’s powerful scent soak his senses, before kissing the smooth expanse of skin where his neck meets his shoulder. His taut muscles react to Baekhyun’s slightest touch, twitching and rolling under his skin, making the sheen of sweat prettily reflect Baekhyun’s living room’s dim light. Baekhyun starts licking and nipping ever-so-slightly at the tender flesh, basking in the warmth of Chanyeol’s breath, who’s exhaling hotly in pleasure. Baekhyun doesn’t break skin nor does he bite him, he’s more of a tease than anything else, really. He continues kissing up Chanyeol’s neck, while Chanyeol’s fingers trace the seam of Baekhyun’s boxers, and his breath hitches when suddenly, one of Chanyeol’s palm closes firmly over his ass cheek. Excited and more aroused by the second, Baekhyun grabs Chanyeol’s face and kisses him square on the mouth, raw and wet, panting and swallowing Chanyeol’s appreciative groans.

Their hips rock against each other in a fast, broken rhythm. They’re both sweaty and rough, but Chanyeol seems to like it, because one of his fingers gets adventurous and slowly slides in the cleft between Baekhyun’s cheeks. Baekhyun freezes with anticipation, reaching a peak of arousal and holding his breath. Chanyeol catches his eyes and Baekhyun can read an interrogation there. He nods imperceptibly, but that’s all Chanyeol needed, apparently, for a second later, there’s the slightest brush of his finger against Baekhyun’s hole. It’s like an electric shock, Baekhyun’s body quivers from the bottom of his spine to the nape of his neck and he comes, shaken by the uncontrolled spasms of one of the most intense orgasms of his life.

“Holy shit, Baekhyun—I want to fuck you!” Chanyeol says, moaning while he catches Baekhyun, whose chest is falling limply against Chanyeol’s, still trembling with aftershocks. And then he realizes. Chanyeol wants to do the dirty with him, and the mere thought practically makes his dick twitch again in excitement.

“I’ll buy lube for next time,” Baekhyun whispers against Chanyeol’s shoulder, still trying to breath properly. His brain is a bit fuzzy, but in a corner of it, he’s aware of the fact that Chanyeol hasn’t come yet, and he needs to make it change. He reaches between them and tugs on Chanyeol’s shorts and briefs unceremoniously. He licks his palm, takes hold of his cock and pumps it harsh and fast, murmuring dirty words into his neck. “You’ll work me open me with your fingers, sound good?” he suggests, leaving the rest to interpretation.

Chanyeol doesn’t reply, but he comes in Baekhyun’s hand with such force that he doesn’t need actual words to figure that, yes, he’s more than okay with this very idea.

--

Because nothing is ever that easy, life is a bitch and stands in the way of Baekhyun getting laid.

For once, he’s free from writing, and there’s a lot of free time on his hands that he’d probably be spending screwing with Chanyeol like rabbits if his students hadn’t decided that of all times, two days before Christmas is the best moment to freak out about the upcoming midterms and flood his inbox with questions ranging from plain stupid to banged-on-the-head-as-a-baby dumb and seriously, he’d gladly do without all that shit. To top it all off, Kyungsoo asks him to write a reference letter for an internship next summer or he’ll tell his parents Baekhyun’s the one who drank the old Korean wine bottle they kept for Baekbeom’s wedding when he was back from college on fall break years ago.

To put it mildly, there are about a thousand things he’d rather be doing than typing a hypocritical letter about a devil-possessed kid, especially knowing that everyone is packing at the moment to go spend the holiday with their family, and he’d like to get a chance to casually catch Chanyeol before he leaves, too.

From Chanyeol:
i wanted to say bye in person but u aren’t at ur place and i got a train 2 catch

Well, then, too bad.

To Chanyeol:
stuck at work, students being little bitches. don’t become a teacher

Baekhyun chooses to remain casual, even if he’s having a mild mental breakdown thinking he won’t be able to see Chanyeol for more than two weeks.

From Chanyeol:
aww too bad (´;д;`)

He then sends him a picture of himself, pursing his lips and puffing out his cheeks, looking like a sulking ten-year-old and Baekhyun has trouble wrapping his head around the fact that the same person propositioned him less than two days ago.

 

Baekhyun leaves for New York the next day. His brother comes to pick him up at JFK and seeing his face immediately makes him feel better about everything. Maybe a week with his family won’t feel too awfully long, in the end.

Baekhyun’s baby niece is more adorable every time he sees her, with her dark, curly hair, the beautiful caramel color of her skin she inherited from her mother and her big, soft almond-shaped eyes. ‘She’ll break hearts,’ Baekhyun says, knowing he sounds like a broken record, but it doesn’t matter, because Baekbeom always replies the same thing too: ‘She won’t date anyone before she turns 30, anyway,’—and it’s safe, warm, and feels like home. Baekhyun is even able to get Chanyeol out of his mind for five minutes.

Christmas passes in a blur of too much food, fairy lights and baby giggles. Baekbeom laughs at the R2-D2 toy and Baekhyun would have been offended if the baby hadn’t loved it right away, cuddling it in her short, chubby arms the second it’s out of the wrapping paper.

They skype their parents who stayed in Korea, they’re with their grandmother. A lot of catching up is done, good laughs are exchanged and there’s even a few manly tears. Baekhyun’s grandmother says she’ll send him some powerful, homemade ginseng tea so that he can also produce beautiful and strong great-grand-children. He thanks her with a smile, purposefully omitting that his growing love for the D will probably make this a bit more complicated than expected but, huh, what can you do?

He sends several pictures of his niece with the Star Wars toy to his friends and Chanyeol. Jongdae sends back that he’s a nerd, Luhan replies using Minseok’s phone that if he still wants to be her future child’s godfather he has to buy the same toy—and just this once, he approves of one of Luhan’s ideas, if it means introducing her kid to the awesomeness of the best franchise in the history of cinema. Chanyeol’s reply comes much later, waking Baekhyun up in the dead of night.

so cute *_* hope u had a nice xmas with ur family

To Chanyeol:
was great but it’s 3am here =_=

From Chanyeol:
omg im so sorry

To Chanyeol:
u having a good time too?

From Chanyeol:
yeah it’s great here but i can only stand my family’s prying for so long

To Chanyeol:
haha good luck with that

From Chanyeol:
thx. what r u wearing?

Baekhyun sits up suddenly, rubbing his eyes and blinking at his cell’s screen.

To Chanyeol:
r u fckin serious?

From Chanyeol:
haha jk. sleep tight

He doesn’t. Because the sole idea of giving in to phone sex with Chanyeol arouses him to levels that shouldn’t be allowed in his brother’s guest bedroom. It takes him nearly an hour to will his boner away before he can fall into a fitful sleep.

Baekhyun spends the next few days walking the busy streets of New York with his family, eating in cozy diners, and window shopping on 5th Avenue. Even after all the years Baekbeom’s lived in New York, it never loses its magic, especially at this time of year. He goes to Rockefeller Center, feeling like an utter tourist when he puts on the ice skates and slides around the rink. Baekhyun is nameless here, one more ant in the hive of activity of the city but it’s fine, it’s alright to let go of everything, even if it’s only for a half hour on an overcrowded skating rink. He knows that in a few days, he’ll become Baekhyun of Small Town, California once again, and this too, is okay.

Because there is someone to go back to.

On the evenings and nights, Baekhyun writes. The big city always has this overwhelming, inspiring effect on him, and he knows better than not to let the fleeting moment go away and leave him at a loss for words. Baekbeom knows about this quirk, so he leaves him alone after dinner so that he can write all he wants without being disturbed.

Two days before the new year, at eleven thirty-two in the evening, Baekhyun shuts his laptop with an unprecedented strange feeling between satisfaction and nostalgia. He’s officially finished writing his first novel.

He puts a protective hand over his laptop and takes a picture of himself smiling, including the closed computer in the background.

To Chanyeol:
novel completed v(^_^)

Then, in a rush of lucidity, he sends the same text to Minseok. He’s his editor, after all.

From Chanyeol:
congrats! you’re the man!!!!! O(≧∇≦)O

The feeling to be finally done with something that’s been part of his life for so long is both exhilarating and unsettling. It’s like a part of himself has been taken out of Baekhyun, leaving with a figurative book-shaped hole in the chest. Baekhyun is aware he’s not nearly finished carrying his novel through the brutal world of edition, but a part of him realizes that from now on, his book won’t be only his. He’s about to share it with his future readers, may they be numerous or few, he doesn’t care—he’s about to unveil a side of him that no one knows, not his friends, not his family, maybe not even himself.

And it scares the shit out of him, to put it harshly.

This night, he binge-watches old reruns from the first seasons of the Simpsons before finally falling asleep just as the first rays of sun pierce through the chilly winter air and hit his window.

 

On the drive back to JFK, Baekbeom decides to play his big brother role, so after turning down the volume on the car radio, he gives Baekhyun The Talk. “There’s someone, isn’t it.”

It’s a statement more than a question, really, so Baekhyun gives his brother a sidelong glance, which is pointedly ignored. Baekhyun is tired of being surrounded by psychics because it leads him to open up and maybe talk about feelings and while this is perfect material for letters to the editor in women’s magazines, it’s also the last thing Baekhyun wants to discuss with his brother. However, it’s useless to lie to Baekbeom, so Baekhyun braces himself for interrogation.

“There is,” Baekhyun answers tersely.

Baekbeom snorts. “Well, mister, you better start talking or I’ll make this difficult for the both of us—especially you—and we don’t want that, do we?” Why does everyone he knows seem to be threatening him all the time?

Baekhyun sighs heavily and turns away from his brother’s inquisitive eyes, even though they have to be on the road, you never know. He looks out of the window, staring into space. “His name’s Chanyeol, he’s everything I want in a man, but he’s a freaking twenty-year-old college sophomore so basically ‘there’s someone’, but there shouldn’t be and ugh…I’m stupid and screwed and I don’t need a lecture, okay? I’m chastising myself enough already, thank you very much.”

Baekhyun stops talking, his lips shut tight in a thin line. Baekbeom says nothing, so Baekhyun turns to him after a long minute of silence. When he finally looks at him, his brother is smiling this half-smile of his, not unlike Baekhyun’s own when he’s feeling mischievous. “What?”

“I didn’t say anything,” Baekbeom answers calmly.

“Well you made me talk, so now you have to say something because if you don’t, I’ll think about what you might have said and I’m planning on sleeping on the plane and not torturing myself for six hours,” Baekhyun hisses in one breath. “Got it?” he adds for good measure.

“What I might have said…is that my younger brother looked happy, radiant and inspired, and that he was very far from his usual grumpy self, which was refreshing and new. And I might have said that if all of this is due to one person, then they’re a keeper. I might have said all that, if my little brother didn’t imply he isn’t sure about his relationship and belittle himself like he’s been doing for far too long.”

“Uh, that was a lot to process in the third person,” Baekhyun says, staring at Baekbeom.

“Baekhyun, let’s be serious one second. If you really think age is an issue, well think differently because hello, this is the twenty-first century and it doesn’t make a difference.”

“He’s a student at the college where I work.”

“Is he your student?”

“No—”

“Then your argument is invalid. He’s a student, so what? He’s legal and interested in you, this should be enough for you to want to marry him, shouldn’t it?”

“Thanks for giving me so much credit, asshole,” Baekhyun clenches his fist and pretends he’s about to hit Baekbeom—which he doesn’t do only because his brother is driving and it might lead to both their deaths.

“You’re welcome,” he replies, smirking. “But whoever this Chanyeol is, don’t let him go.”

“Well, for me to be able to let him go, we’d have to be in a relationship first…”

“What do you mean?” Baekbeom glances at him curiously, then looks back at the road. “You guys are not together?”

“We’re not together together.”

“Ugh, I don’t want to know more because that would probably be TMI.”

“Probably,” now it’s Baekhyun’s turn to smile.

“Okay, enough! You’re my baby brother, you’re not supposed to have sex!” Baekbeom sounds indignant and Baekhyun laughs out loud.

The rest of the car ride is more relaxed and when Baekbeom pulls over in the kiss and ride zone, he slaps Baekhyun on the shoulder and pats him there. “Next Christmas, make sure to bring Chanyeol over.”

They fist-bump, “Time will tell,” Baekhyun says gravely, slinging his duffle bag over his shoulder, and goes to catch his flight.

He doesn’t know if it’s because he’s 36,000 feet above the ground, but he feels a lot lighter.

--

New Year’s Eve is mostly a non-event, for Baekhyun spends it at Minseok’s place with Jongdae but without his girlfriend (“We’re too fresh!”), drinking too much expensive wine until Luhan complaining about morning sickness is no more than white noise drowned in the background.

Wine-induced hangovers are the absolute worst, though. His puke is bright purple and it takes him two full days and a whole box of Aspirin to recover completely. He feels every one of his twenty-six years weighing down on his shoulders, his eyelids and currently, his stomach.

The remainder of the first week of the year is spent rereading his typescript, sending it to Minseok and printing out two copies of it.

Now, all he has to do is wait.

He cleans up his place, goes grocery shopping (adding veggies to his cart because hello New Year resolutions) and starts to sort his mail but gives up, come on, he can only take so much of doing boring, adult stuff. Procrastinating with the help of good old pal Netflix is such a better use of his free time.

The next thing he knows, it’s the day before back-to-school and the hallways in the complex are busting with life again.

To Chanyeol:
wanna hang out?

Baekhyun sends the text and regrets it immediately, fearing that it sounds too much like an eager invitation to fuck. Not that he’s against the idea, but then again, he wants it to come from Chanyeol.

The response is almost instantaneous, for Chanyeol knocks on his door a few minutes later. Their reunion is a bit awkward—they wish each other a happy new year, in person, and hug it out briefly. There’s no pinning to the wall nor bruising kiss, even though the tension between them is tangible.

“Nice to see you,” Baekhyun says, smiling. I missed you a great deal.

“Yeah, how was New York?”

They talk for a while, telling each other what they did for the holiday. Chanyeol went to his home town where he had a large Christmas party with his extended family and celebrated the New Year at a house party with high school buddies where he felt old and out of place. “Join the club!” Baekhyun lifts a hand for a high-five, which Chanyeol has the decency to respond to, even if it’s nine kinds of lame.

“And then I crammed for midterms because teachers are bitches—no offense—who think it’s a good idea to subject students to exams after Christmas holidays.”

“Been there, done that…”

A good half hour into their catch-up chat, Chanyeol takes his backpack and fishes a small, oblong wrapped gift and hands it to Baekhyun.

“Merry belated Christmas,” he says, smiling softly. It’s a sleek, black fountain pen that Baekhyun loves at first sight. “A great writer needs a great pen?”

Baekhyun gingerly puts the pen back in its box and down on the coffee table before unceremoniously assaulting Chanyeol’s lips. God, did he miss them! Chanyeol is just as eager, warm and pliant as Baekhyun remembers vividly. Baekhyun shoves his tongue in Chanyeol’s mouth, half-sprawling over his long, firm body and getting his hands everywhere they can reach. Chanyeol’s fingers hook in Baekhyun’s pants seam and lower them a few inches, so that he can slowly caress Baekhyun’s lower back, where the swell of his ass starts. “Thank you,” Baekhyun exhales into Chanyeol’s mouth, before attaching his lips to his throat, kissing from the base of his ear down to the little hollow where his collarbones meet. He sucks and nips and doesn’t even feel sorry for leaving small red marks.

While he’s not too drunk on arousal, he pulls away and drags Chanyeol with him by the hand. It’s very clear they’re headed to Baekhyun’s bedroom, but since it’s a first, Chanyeol looks puzzled, the big question obvious in his eyes. Baekhyun turns away from him and makes a show of slowly taking off his shirt, hoping the message that he’s up for a good nailing is evident enough. They stumble onto the bed, multitasking—or trying to. They undress each other, keeping their mouths attached as much as possible, hands roaming every skin surface available.

Baekhyun is almost fully hard already, but tries to take things as slow as possible, not wanting to appear too eager about the prospect of finally, finally riding that. Soon enough, they’re both naked and panting, Chanyeol hovering over Baekhyun as he kisses his neck and along his jawline, and Baekhyun is pretty sure that he could come from just Chanyeol touching him like that. That’s not the plan, though, he wants to get off to Chanyeol’s cock in his ass, please and thank you.

Apparently, Chanyeol has other ideas in store. He kisses down Baekhyun’s torso, brushing a nipple with his thumb on his way, eliciting a high-pitched whine from him that he’ll deny until his death. He spends some time tonguing at Baekhyun’s navel, playing with his sensitive nubs at the same time, and Baekhyun promptly puts his hands on Chanyeol’s hair, once his intentions are crystal clear. When Chanyeol licks a fat stripe along the underside of Baekhyun’s cock, he figures he can afford coming multiple times tonight.

Chanyeol got better with practice, he knows Baekhyun likes it when he suckles at the head, drawing small circles with the tip of his tongue, then engulfing him whole unannounced. Baekhyun moans, pulling at Chanyeol’s soft locks and twisting them in his fingers, running his nails against his scalp and scratching whenever Chanyeol does something particularly pleasurable. His rhythm gets faster and he adds a hand to stroke him at the same pace while his other hand comes to fondle Baekhyun’s balls and oh god he’s not lasting one more minute at this rate. What he didn’t expect was for one of Chanyeol’s fingers to brush his hole and holy shit! Baekhyun is spilling on Chanyeol’s lips and face. Something so filthy shouldn’t be that hot, but it is, especially when Chanyeol licks as much as he can before reaching for the tissues on the nightstand and wiping the rest clean.

“There’s lube…in the drawer,” Baekhyun slurs, still riding the last waves of pleasure coursing through him. He knows he probably looks all kinds of debauched sprawled naked like that on his bed, legs spread, exposed and inviting, but he doesn’t give a flying fuck at the moment because Chanyeol is going to finger him and he’s never been more ready for anything else in his life.

Chanyeol is slow and precise, hands experiencing as he slips in a first finger knuckle-deep. Baekhyun sucks in a breath. It’s been a long time that nothing’s been there, so the initial intrusion is borderline painful, but it eases as quickly as it came. He relaxes as Chanyeol adds more lube to his fingers and reiterates the process. Chanyeol’s fingers are longer and thicker than every other finger Baekhyun has ever had up there. But they’re thorough and surprisingly skilled—Baekhyun shouldn’t feel astonished at this point, he figured that Chanyeol is a natural at many things a long time ago. Chanyeol is so careful that the usual sting is but a mere memory, the pleasure overpassing everything else. He hooks his finger, twisting it until it brushes against Baekhyun’s prostate. Baekhyun cries out with both surprise and utter pleasure and Chanyeol takes it as his cue to continue massaging the same spot before pulling out slowly and adding another finger. He turns and scissors, teasing Baekhyun’s pleasure spot at times and making his dick gradually harden again. He didn’t know he had such stamina but then again, Chanyeol is the first to pull an unexpected range of unknown emotions and reactions out of Baekhyun, so that’s not that surprising, after all.

Even if Chanyeol works him open sinfully slow, Baekhyun is positive that he won’t last long—again—if things continue that way. He blindly reaches out for the condoms on his nightstand, almost knocking off his alarm-clock in the process, but his quest is successful as he brandishes the little foil square a few seconds later. “Chanyeol…I’m ready,” he whispers before taking him by surprise and flipping them over so that he’s now straddling Chanyeol’s thighs. “I’m gonna ride you,” he says, and it’s final. Chanyeol nods immediately; he’s hard and leaking and curving sideways on his toned belly—Baekhyun commits the sight to memory, even if it’s a calculated risk, because the mere thought of it in the future could lead to awkward-boner situations.

He takes them both in his hands and pumps a couple times, earning a rough grunt from Chanyeol. He won’t tease because first he, for one, isn’t really the patient type and second, it’s in their interest that Chanyeol lasts as long as possible. With no further ado, he tears the foil open with his teeth and promptly slides the condom on Chanyeol’s dick. He presses the base and caresses his balls before lifting himself up on his knees and hovering over the tip of Chanyeol’s cock.

His descent is slow and torturous, but he doesn’t have a choice, for Chanyeol isn’t exactly on the small side, cock included, and he needs his sweet time to adjust. Once Chanyeol is fully sheathed in him, Baekhyun feels the fullest he’s ever been. It’s kind of overwhelming. He stays still for a few seconds, clenching ever-so-slightly around Chanyeol to check if there’s enough leverage for him to move without hurting himself. He braces himself, puts his hands on Chanyeol’s torso and slowly pulls off, hissing in pleasure, before slamming down again in one powerful move, making them both moan loudly.

He does it again, and again, imposing a sustained pace, propping himself up on his elbows and leaning in to kiss Chanyeol, swallowing his groans, licking his lips, neck and jaw. Chanyeol’s hands come to rest on Baekhyun’s ass—he’s pretty sure by now that he’s obsessed with it, and it’s totally a-okay in Baekhyun’s book—and squeeze his cheeks so hard he’s sure he’ll have trouble sitting tomorrow. Soon, it’s too much and not enough, so Chanyeol, with the sheer strength of his arms, lifts Baekhyun up a little so that the angle is slightly different and starts thrusting up at a much faster pace. He keeps up like that—up, down, up, down until everything becomes frantic and blurry around the edges, and Baekhyun knows he’s about to come. He grabs his own cock and fists it, pumping it in rhythm with Chanyeol’s hips. His large hands close around Baekhyun’s waist in a possessive grip, thumbs massaging the soft skin of his belly, the gesture strangely sweet but vivid in the heat of the moment and it’s like everything stills, there’s nothing except from Chanyeol’s thumb drawing stupid little circles on Baekhyun’s flesh and it could be half a second or ten hours, it’d be the same. Then, it’s over, too quickly, too late, Baekhyun clamps his mouth on Chanyeol’s and bites his lip as he comes spilling in his hand and on Chanyeol’s pectorals—he’s not sorry he makes a mess, he rides it out until the last drop, feeling Chanyeol coming apart under him, hips sloppy and erratic until they stop completely and fall heavily against the mattress. Chanyeol exhales a long sigh, then he buries his face in Baekhyun’s neck, nosing at the sweat there and humming contentedly.

Baekhyun stays in this position until his knees ache and he has to move. His dried spunk is sticking between them—it’s gross but he doesn’t care, too spent to even consider getting out of bed to get a washcloth. Luckily Chanyeol, being the perfect little shit he is, does and cleans them up before throwing the towel in the general direction of the en suite bathroom and wrapping his arms around Baekhyun like a clingy, overgrown macaque. Some things never change.

“So, you offered me your ass as a Christmas present?” Chanyeol says into Baekhyun’s hair, it tickles.

“Way to kill the post-coital afterglow,” Baekhyun chuckles.

“Thanks, anyway,” Chanyeol adds, ignoring him. “I’m glad you’re my first.”

At that, Baekhyun’s heart clenches with a warm ache, stuttering in his chest. He doesn’t know if this is a trust thing between friends or if, maybe, there’s more to it. What he knows, though, is that he doesn’t want to get his hopes up.

“I got a real present for you,” Baekhyun says, happy to change the subject. He does some naked acrobatics to retrieve the copy of his novel’s typescript and puts it down on Chanyeol’s face. Chanyeol takes it with utter care and turns it to the light coming from the hall to read the title. Baekhyun likes the way the glossy letters of his name shine in the semi-darkness. It adds to the already warm feeling in his chest, and he supposes that if he died at this exact moment, he’d probably be fine with it.

Chanyeol turns to him with wide eyes. “And you’ll be my first…” Baekhyun trails off. “Reader,” he adds, kissing Chanyeol’s shoulder, because it’s the body part that’s closest to him at the moment and he’s too tired to move a toe. “Well, technically it’s Minseok, but he’s my editor, so he doesn’t count.” Baekhyun is aware he’s rambling, but he can’t really stop, not when Chanyeol is looking at him like that and it does weird, tingly things to his whole body.

“Baekhyun, thanks. Thanks a lot, it’s the best Christmas present I’ve received.”

“Oh, you flatter, you!” Baekhyun figures dumb humor is still better than any out-of-the-blue confession of undying love that he wouldn’t be able to handle the consequences of.

Chanyeol shakes his head and puts the typescript on the floor next to his discarded jeans. “I’ll read it after midterms,” he says, blowing cool air on Baekhyun’s nape. “But for now, I just wanna sleep and never wake up, because it’ll mean I have to get my ass on the college benches to try and keep my GPA to decent levels.”

“You’ll do great, don’t worry.”

Chanyeol hums, nuzzling Baekhyun’s neck like an overgrown puppy, before his breathing becomes steadier.

Baekhyun knows a turning point when he sees one. He knows he’s standing at one of them right now. The problem is, he doesn’t know what the direction he’s headed to is. And that’s scaring the shit out of him.

--

He wakes up to an empty bed and a full inbox.

From Chanyeol:
exams suck, id rather spend the day in bed w u ! i left early n didnt wanna wake u up. ttyl

From Minseok:
spent the last 3 days reading ur book. its a goddamn masterpiece, prepared for major breakthru?

sent deets on ur gmail. u got meetings so get the hell outta bed n clean up

From Jongdae:
how was reunion w frat kid?

Baekhyun curses his friends’ sixth sense and his inability to read between the lines of Chanyeol’s text, if there’s anything to interpret from it, that is.

He rolls around in bed for an extra hour before dragging his (sore) ass out of it, taking a shower and sitting down in front of his laptop. He stretches away the kinks in his back and cracks his knuckles in a showy fashion, even if there’s no one around to see him, and goes to check his inbox.

Twenty-two new messages from work. All sent in the morning.

Well, okay.

Baekhyun takes a few minutes to review the current state of his life and bid it farewell. He realizes that starting from now, it’s never going to be the same.

--

It’s a good thing it’s midterms week and consequently Chanyeol is very busy, because Baekhyun feels a little less bad not to spend time with him.

Minseok and—to Baekhyun’s great dismay—Luhan drag him to the mall to renew his wardrobe, buy suits and dress shoes, ‘real’ shirts without faded prints of Avengers or shiny droids on them, and Baekhyun’s credit card is soon overheating for being used too many times in such a short period.

He has a meeting the next day, he can’t decently go to the headquarters looking like a nerd and a hobo’s lovechild, at least, that’s Minseok’s opinion that he disagrees with, but Luhan insists he wear a suit to the meeting. And even though it’s none of her business whatsoever, preggo Luhan is scary as fuck and he knows better than to confront her.

So on a crisp, smoggy Thursday morning, Baekhyun suits up and pushes the glass doors to his new life.

The next few weeks are an absolute whirlwind of meetings with editors, printers, PR managers and various artists. Baekhyun’s book wins instant, unanimous support from everyone who gets their hands on it. He’s not used to receiving so much praise for his very own work, it’s a feeling that could totally get to his head, but he tries to keep his feet on the ground, because if he didn’t, chances are that he’d be swamped by the events and lose his current fragile balance. His life did a complete one eighty in the span of a few days, and he’s still trying to wrap his head around this very fact, to be honest.

Chanyeol is still busy, the start of the semester has him flooded with assignments, so he spends most of his time between the library and the frat house, which is apparently the next place after Baekhyun’s apartment where he can get some substantial work done.

They don’t text a lot, but when they do, it’s to support each other or share random, insignificant events of their daily lives.

When they happen to be at home at the same time, which isn’t as often as Baekhyun wishes it were, they basically spend all their time in bed, where Chanyeol fucks Baekhyun into oblivion for hours on end until they’re boneless and content. There’s still no label on whatever they have, but it turns out that they’re as bad at talking about important matters as they are good at getting Baekhyun laid in every position in the book.

Once, Baekhyun has to spend a whole week in San Francisco to attend more meetings, agree on the final version of the book cover and the promotional artworks—which are amazing, by the way, it’s a strange feeling to be the witness of your words coming alive in the form of wonderful drawings, and the first time Baekhyun sees them, he nearly faints from emotion overload. The PR manager needs Baekhyun’s greenlight to start advertising the book on social media before the actual distribution, it’s weird as well seeing quotes from his book on Twitter and Instagram. Baekhyun also has to create public accounts, which instantly get more followers than he’s ever had on any platform in his life, flooding his private inbox with supportive, excited messages.

He even has to do a photoshoot, to enhance his image. “When they see your face, they’ll want to rush to the store and buy your book,” the PR manager says, and Baekhyun thinks it’s stupid, but he poses anyway, and it’s awkward as hell at first, but he soon gets the hang of it and the photographer says she likes it when he bites his lower lip, so he does and there goes his so-called ‘public image’.

In the midst it all, Chanyeol has yet to comment on Baekhyun’s book. He doesn’t want to push, but he’s dying to know what he thinks about it. His opinion is more important than the hypothetical response he’ll get from his future readers, because well, as stupidly smitten as it sounds, he needs Chanyeol’s validation because he cares about him, a whole fucking lot.

And he misses him.

That’s probably the reason why, the next time they see each other, they spend a long time just hugging each other in his entryway, Baekhyun basking in the revitalizing feeling of Chanyeol’s warm and firm torso against his, strong arms encircling him in a protective cage of sorts he never wants to be freed from.

For old time’s sake, they put on a movie and lounge on the couch, feeding on chips because it’s the only non-perishable food that he finds in his sadly empty cupboards. As usual, they don’t actually watch much of the movie, preferring to catch up on each other’s lives, and that’s so much better than via texts.

“I finished your book, by the way,” Chanyeol drops casually, which, rude, because it’s a freaking atomic bomb worthy piece of information.

Baekhyun stares at him, torn between wanting to punch his stupid handsome face for not telling him before and shaking him like a coconut tree to know what he thinks about it. The only thing he manages, though, is a pained-sounding groan, hoping it conveys enough indignation to finally get Chanyeol to talk.

“Baekhyun, you’re the next best-selling author, I’m sure of it.”

Baekhyun’s excitement deflates instantly. He doesn’t want to be a best-selling author—well, he kinda does, but not the point!—he wants to know Chanyeol’s impressions, his goddamn feedback! It must show on his face that it’s not what he wanted to hear, because Chanyeol flails his lanky arms and throws his hands up in apology.

“I mean, it was awesome, great, well written and documented, smart and original, ugh, too many adjectives.” Chanyeol looks frantic, words tumbling out of his mouth in one go, “You’re an amazing writer, Baekhyun, and you deserve the success you’ll obviously meet. Your book needs to be recognized and loved as what it is—a freaking work of genius!”

Baekhyun is nearly moved to tears, and he’s never been closer to confess his feelings than now, but the charm is broken by Chanyeol’s blaring ringtone, striking through the silence following Chanyeol’s words and making Baekhyun start.

“Hey Sehun?” Chanyeol says. “Uh, yeah…yeah, coming…see you in ten.”

He hangs up and looks at Baekhyun apologetically. “Practice. We’re playing the state’s qualifying rounds, so I can’t bail out, I’m sorry. I’d tell you to come to the game next Sunday, but I guess you’ll be busy?”

He doesn’t know if his ears are failing him, but Baekhyun can almost hear bitterness in Chanyeol’s voice. That’s so far from his character that that’s probably it, Baekhyun’s fertile imagination, or at least it’s what he convinces himself of as he watches Chanyeol picking up his stuff and leaving the apartment after briefly hugging Baekhyun goodbye.

As he’s sitting alone on his couch, suddenly sad and feeling empty, Baekhyun types on his phone absently and presses ‘send’ before he can properly think of what he’s doing.

To Jongdae:
i think im in love with chanyeol

From Jongdae:
attaboy!

To Jongdae:
not helping. having a mental breakdown atm

From Jongdae:
ooh, being a dramatic puppy, are we?

But a second later, his best friend calls him on his cell. “You okay, pal?”

“Ugh, not really. I’m in love with a college frat kid who’s a real blessing on every level, but I can’t even go to his basketball game.”

“I’m having trouble following you right here, but I guess it’s not nearly as bad as you think it is.”

“Yeah, it is,” Baekhyun realizes many things the moment he utters them, “At first, I thought it was me not wanting to repeat what Taeyeon did to me, but I was wrong, it has nothing to do with her. We didn’t love each other. I thought I did, but now that I know what it really means, loving someone, I guess it was just a fat crush, nothing more. And you know, when I saw Chanyeol’s face tonight, when he told me that he knew I wouldn’t be able to go to his game, then I understood that I’d never be good for him. I’d be too busy, we wouldn’t see each other often, which would lead to resentment and arguments. And he’s still a student, maybe he’ll want to take post-grad courses, I know he will, because he’s so smart, and then he’ll be recruited in a top-notch computer firm and we’ll both be busy and we’ll end up just passing each other and, Jongdae, I don’t want that. I don’t want to be a burden to him. He’s still young and knows nothing beside me, I can’t keep him like a selfish jerk. I have to let him go…”

As soon as his last words leave his mouth, he feels his chest tighten painfully, nearly choking with the overflow of his pent-up emotion. At the other end of the line, Jongdae is silent for what feels like hours.

“Baekhyun, dude,” Jongdae says, then lets out an exaggerated sigh. “You’re a fucking dumbass!” he nearly yells, sounding inexplicably angry, so Baekhyun has to take the phone away from his ear. “Seriously, I can’t even!” Then, he hangs up and Baekhyun frowns at his phone, stunned. What the hell just happened?

--

The next Sunday, Baekhyun runs in the airport, snatches a cab to an indignant lady’s face but can’t even bother to feel sorry for her. He yells the address to the driver and loosens his tie as soon as the engine starts. He makes it to the third quarter of the game after the clerk at the booth took pity on him and accepted to sell him a ticket.

He’s not a basketball freak, but he knows his sports and is able to tell Chanyeol’s team isn’t winning. Unfortunately, it’s confirmed minutes later when they lose short of three points. Baekhyun rushes down the bleachers and steps over so many railings that his crotch starts hurting. He doesn’t care, because he’s now running along the hallways looking for the locker rooms. He can hear the winning team cheering to his right so he turns away and the next thing he knows, he’s being swooped off his feet. “You made it?” Chanyeol says in his ear. Baekhyun struggles to get out of his grip and gives a brief hug to his middle.

“I’m sorry you lost,” he says, burying his face in Chanyeol’s chest, but it shakes as he chuckles.

“I’m happy you came,” he says in return, and the smile Baekhyun sees as he pulls away to look at him makes him realize that his idea to take an earlier flight just to catch the end of the game was the best of his life.

Also, they indulge in having amazing sex afterwards.

--

The basketball episode is one of the rare times they can meet and spend leisurely time together. Baekhyun gets increasingly busy, what with interviews with the press, dinners with literary critics, promotional video filming and the likes. Most of all of this takes place in San Francisco, and requires his actual presence there, meaning he can’t see Chanyeol and he’s suffering from severe withdrawal.

This goes on for several weeks, and weeks turn into months. Baekhyun has to make time every other week to go back, meet Chanyeol and have sex with him for a whole day, only to return to San Francisco feeling more addicted than twenty-four hours prior.

Their situation is highly unsatisfactory, Baekhyun thinks of putting an end to it several times, but he’s a coward and also a selfish bastard, so he doesn’t and prefers to torture himself. The too-short hours he spends with Chanyeol in pure bliss are worth every sacrifice, aren’t they?

He no longer knows anything.

--

On May sixth, Luhan’s waters break. Of course his god-child would decide to steal his birthday. But all the bratty comments he has in store flee from his head the moment he sees the little, pink bundle of joy in Minseok’s arms as he leaves the labor room.

The happiness he sees in his friend’s eyes is reflected in Luhan’s and for a change, he’s not overwhelmed by the sudden urge to strangle her. If she is responsible for fifty percent of the wonder he gingerly takes in his arms and cradles slowly, then she can’t be completely bad.

Baekhyun spends the whole day with Minseok, Luhan, their parents and the baby at the maternity ward. Jongdae pays them a visit on his break, saying that not only losers were born on May sixth, after all.

All the happiness surrounding him makes him put things into perspective as regards his own situation. He ignores his own birthday, twenty-seven is a useless age, when you think about it. It’s just the age some rock artists don’t seem to live past, so he’s glad he didn’t put too much energy into writing emo songs as a teenager, who knows where he’d be now if he had?

Today is also the day before the official launch of his book, he has to be in SF tomorrow but his flight is in the morning, so he’s got the whole night before him to be an unpublished writer for a few hours left.

--

On impulse, he texts Chanyeol to hang out.

Of course, they end up curled up on Baekhyun’s couch watching The Force Awakens—Jongdae offered him the blu-ray version today—but it may be a great movie, the images seem to be bouncing off Baekhyun, meaningless and blurry.

“Let’s get out of here,” Chanyeol offers. Baekhyun looks up at him questioningly. Chanyeol doesn’t even wait for Baekhyun to say yes to grab him by the arm and drag him out of the apartment. Baekhyun doesn’t protest, some fresh air can do him no harm.

“Where are we going?” Baekhyun finally asks after they’ve walked half a mile down main street and into a nearly deserted parking lot.

“Here it is!” Chanyeol says enthusiastically, stopping in front of a black vintage VW bug.

“What the hell? You have a car, now?” Baekhyun asks, stunned.

“Nope, it’s Kris’. He’s agreed that I use it tonight. It took some serious negotiation and cost me a month worth of homework, so you better get your sweet ass into it before I manhandle you myself.”

“Doesn’t sound too bad,” Baekhyun says, smiling slightly.

“Don’t make things difficult,” Chanyeol says, sounding a bit pained. “Backseat sex is clearly out of the question.”

Chanyeol drives like a total lunatic, blasting bubblegum pop and dancing to it in all his flailing arms glory. “Uh, Chanyeol, holding the wheel isn’t optional,” Baekhyun hisses when they avoid death for the third time in an hour.

“You’re jealous of my amazing driving skills.”

“For now, I’m just happy we’re still alive and hoping we’ll stay that way until destination.”

“Trust me, I’ve never killed anyone so far.”

“I think you mean there’s no one to testify against you because they’re dead.”

“Shh! Taylor Swift’s on!”

Baekhyun shakes his head and laughs, before singing along with Chanyeol and guessing that at least tonight, he’ll forget about his worry—he’ll just shake it off.

After a two-hour drive, Chanyeol parks the overheating bug in a sandy parking lot near the beach. As soon as Baekhyun gets out of the car, he’s nearly swept over by a gust of wind. Plus, the air is chilly and humid, and Baekhyun wonders if Chanyeol’s idea is really a good one. But he opens the tiny trunk and takes a bundle of blankets that he hands to Baekhyun, while he grabs a heavy-looking cooler.

“Picnic by the ocean,” he says. “Sound any good to you?”

Baekhyun’s smile speaks for itself.

The sand is cold, wet and as hard as stone, the wind is unrelenting, sending their food flying away but they’re okay, curled up under the blankets, keeping each other warm. They don’t need to eat, anyway, food is overrated.

Still, they manage to eat a bit of cake. Baekhyun is glad Chanyeol insisted they eat some of his homemade brownie, because it’s to die for. The taste of chocolate is heavy and long-lasting on his tongue, and the endorphins created last even longer. Or maybe it’s just Chanyeol’s proximity that’s making Baekhyun all giddy—yeah, that’s likely.

Just as Baekhyun is about to fall asleep against Chanyeol’s shoulder, he hears him hum happy birthday. Baekhyun smiles into the warmth of his skin and kisses him there, wrapping his arms around his waist and squeezing in a silent thank you.

He wishes it weren’t goodbye as well.

They stay like that until the cold finally defeats them. The ride back is mostly silent, for Baekhyun sleeps against his will for almost the whole duration of it. He didn’t want to be an asshole and leave Chanyeol to drive without an entertaining conversation about betting how long they’re going to stay alive, but his current life has taken a serious toll on him and he gave in to sleep, eventually.

When he comes to, he’s tucked in his bed feeling abnormally hot. He realizes it’s because Chanyeol is sprawled on him, limbs askew and taking too much space. He rubs his eyes and checks the time. It’s still the dead of night, meaning they’ve got a few hours before Baekhyun needs to leave to catch his plane.

Chanyeol stirs and wakes up, giving Baekhyun a sleepy smile. He presses against Baekhyun, nearly smothering him, then buries his face in his neck, tickling him with his breath. Baekhyun’s hand comes to rest over Chanyeol’s nape and his fingers start caressing his soft hair. Chanyeol hums in approval. “Are we cuddling?” Baekhyun asks quietly.

“Depends on what you want to call it,” Chanyeol replies. “Although I’m totally in favor of making it special.”

“Naughty boy,” Baekhyun teases as Chanyeol lifts his head from the crook of Baekhyun’s neck to look at him.

“Baekhyun?” Chanyeol says and Baekhyun nods. “Fuck me, please?”

Oh. Oh hell to the fuck yeah.

“Alright,” he replies, propping himself up on one elbow, when all he wants to do is dance around a bonfire naked, but he tries to remain measured.

He leans in, kissing Chanyeol slowly, slipping his hands under his oversized shirt and feeling his abs tighten under the touch. Chanyeol lets Baekhyun peel his clothes one by one, until he’s naked under him and already semi-hard. Baekhyun takes a long, thorough look at the gorgeous boy offering himself, all long, hard lines and fair skin. Definitely a keeper, in Baekbeom’s words, Baekhyun isn’t one to contradict him.

“Is that a birthday gift?” Baekhyun asks faux-warily.

Chanyeol has the decency to blush at that. “Actually, I’ve been thinking about asking you for a while, but I figured I could wait until your birthday. And also, the beach picnic date was supposed to be a nice thought for your special day, but it was a major fail.”

“It was perfect,” Baekhyun reassures him, placing a small peck on his lips.

“So please, accept my body,” Chanyeol whispers coyly.

Baekhyun chuckles before kissing him again, with more strength and purpose than before. They part their lips, and Baekhyun sucks Chanyeol’s tongue into his own mouth. They move in sync, as close as humanly possible, the sole barrier between them being Baekhyun’s clothes, which start to feel overwhelmingly unnecessary. He discards his shirt and pants, winding up grinding his clothed erection against Chanyeol’s naked one.

Baekhyun relocates his mouth to Chanyeol’s jaw, kissing it down to his neck and shoulder. He brushes his teeth against the soft skin and hearing Chanyeol’s breath hitching, he decides fuck it! and bites him there, strong enough to leave a small, red mark, but not enough to break skin. He kisses it better and licks further down, taking his sweet time teasing Chanyeol’s nipples, which perk up prettily at the attention. He feels Chanyeol’s erection pressing against his chest and decides to grab it suddenly, earning a surprised but pleased moan. He strokes him to full hardness before going down on him and taking him in his mouth.

He loves sucking Chanyeol off, because he’s expressive and extremely responsive to his teasing. He licks him from base to tip, lapping at the head and the slit before taking as much as he can in his mouth and bobbing up and down, meeting his hand where he can’t reach with his mouth. He lets go a few seconds to take the supplies from the night stand and starts coating his fingers with lube. He brushes against Chanyeol’s entrance and circles it. He continues licking his cock to distract him as he pushes a first finger in. Chanyeol’s back arches nicely in response, but Baekhyun pins him down against the mattress with a flat hand on his belly. He pushes further, slowly and carefully, checking Chanyeol’s face for any pain but seeing only surprised bliss. He takes it as encouragement to continue twisting his finger inside him. He pulls off almost entirely and adds another finger, and Chanyeol’s body shivers, but he doesn’t sound distressed. Baekhyun waits for him to relax before working his fingers in and out, then scissoring them progressively until Chanyeol’s walls stop resisting. He takes his time, preferring to be safe than sorry. Plus, he’s used to refraining himself, even though he’s stretching his boxers with his rock-hard erection.

“Baekhyun, I think, I think I’m ready,” Chanyeol murmurs. “I really want you to be in me.”

Seriously, he shouldn’t be allowed to say things like that, because it makes Baekhyun want to ravish him right this instant and it’s sorely testing Baekhyun’s will-power. Baekhyun nods and breaks the foil wrapper before sliding it on himself, shivering at the contact. He pours generous amounts of lube on his cock and spreads it roughly. He leans in, kissing Chanyeol. “You ready?” he asks, and he nods in response. “Yeah, yeah, please…”

Baekhyun sits up on his knees and pushes Chanyeol’s legs apart. He takes the hint and lifts his hips up. Baekhyun grabs a pillow and tucks it under his ass to provide them an easier angle. Breathing deeply, he aligns himself and closes his eyes before sinking in.

Chanyeol is ridiculously tight, so much that it takes everything in Baekhyun not to come on the spot. He’s not even fully inside yet, and it’s nearly too much already. Chanyeol is definitely the death of him. Then slowly, excruciatingly slowly, he pushes deeper until Chanyeol bottoms out, the back of his head pushing hard in the pillow. He pants harshly, moaning softly from time to time. After what seems like eons to Baekhyun, Chanyeol clenches around him, surprising him and tries to rock his hips, in need for friction. Fucking finally! Baekhyun grabs the back of Chanyeol’s knees and pushes, steadying him and starting to move himself. He curses out loud, because Chanyeol is fucking tight and everything is just overwhelming. His thrusts remain shallow, for now, for fear of coming in seconds if he goes any deeper. Chanyeol is a moaning, panting mess underneath him, and he’s so beautiful that Baekhyun never wants to stop giving him pleasure. He picks up his pace, pushing deeper with each thrust, moaning louder and louder, ready to let go entirely. Chanyeol takes him perfectly, accompanying him with a rocking motion of his own, harmonizing with his tempo. Baekhyun is close, and he can tell that Chanyeol is, too. He thrusts a few more times before pushing Chanyeol’s legs further apart and down to his sides. He leans in so that he can kiss him while still rocking his hips, his rhythm getting less regular as his arousal gets to its peak. He speeds up a notch again, becoming frantic until he’s on the very edge of orgasm. Chanyeol’s mouth is open wide, exhaling small, quick puffs of air that Baekhyun is prompt to swallow, kissing him filthily. A few seconds later, Chanyeol comes untouched, shaking a few times as he spills between them and clenching around Baekhyun’s cock. “You’re perfect, Chanyeol,” he whispers into his mouth. “I love you,” he confesses, then comes, pleasure exploding from within and spreading through his body in electrifying waves.

Baekhyun pulls out when he’s gone soft, cringing at his over-sensitivity. He walks to the bathroom to put the condom in the trash and get wet wipes to clean them up. Chanyeol smiles at him dopily and caresses his cheek before turning away and snoring immediately after. Baekhyun shakes his head, smiling. He has a knack for ruining after-sex situations. He shrugs and slips under the covers, spooning Chanyeol and falling asleep to the steady rhythm of his breath.

 

He wakes up with a start as the first rays of sunshine cast a soft glow on the mess of covers and limbs on the bed. He’s wide awake, remembering what he blurted out last night. He slaps his forehead, cursing under his breath, and disentangles himself from Chanyeol’s clingy body, careful not to wake him up. Overlooking a shower, he throws on the first clothes he stumbles upon, packs up a few more hastily and leaves the room.

He grabs his keys and the next second, he’s out his front door, sighing in agony.

He’ll be early at the airport.

--

He’s out of it when the host calls out his name in the microphone. He’s half out of it when he gives his—hopefully well-oiled—launch speech. He’s out of it when people he’s supposed to know from the literary world, but actually doesn’t know, speak to him and congratulate him. He’s out of it when Minseok pats his shoulder and tells him he’s done great, so at least he’s got that going for him. He drinks more than is decent at his own book launch party, but he couldn’t care less, honestly. He takes off as soon as he can, reaching for fresh air and breathing in hungrily as he waits for a cab to show up.

He’s just sat down on the backseat of the taxi when someone opens the door and plops down next to him. It’s Baekbeom. “What the fuck was that?” It’s not a common occurrence for him to curse, so he guesses he’s messed up pretty badly.

“Was I that horrible?” Baekhyun asks wearily, but not really minding the outcome.

“If I weren’t your brother, I wouldn’t have noticed anything. You’ve got actor skills, seriously,” he starts off. “But, well, I am your brother and I can clearly tell you’re not yourself.”

Baekhyun sighs heavily and rests his head against the back of the car seat. “I fucked up,” he simply says. Baekbeom reaches out to pat him on the shoulder. Baekhyun doesn’t need to look at him to know that his expression is a compassionate one.

“Baekhyun, I don’t know what you’re talking about, although I have my idea, but you have to know one thing,” he pauses, letting his hand drop with a thud against the leather of the seat. “The choices you make aren’t necessarily the bad ones. Give yourself some credit, for once.”

“Address, please?” the driver groans from the front.

Baekbeom gives the driver the name of the hotel Baekhyun is staying at, and then he punches him in the arm before leaving. “Don’t be a stranger.”

 

Baekhyun makes sure Chanyeol is in class when he gets back to his apartment. He hugs the walls like a freaking burglar, jumping every time he hears someone walking in the hallways. He finds his personal phone on his nightstand next to the condom box and tries his hardest not to think of the other night. It’s conveniently dead, so he leaves it that way, not bothering to charge it.

He picks up some clothes and packs a larger bag in addition to his smaller duffle bag and throws it over his shoulder to leave as quickly as possible. He doesn’t want to run into Chanyeol by accident.

He shows up at Jongdae’s door and begs him to let him stay at his place for a while. Normally, Jongdae would have told him off, but Baekhyun must really be looking like a train wreck, because he doesn’t even argue for good measure. It’s that bad.

--

During the next few weeks, Baekhyun manages to pull himself together enough that he looks marginally appropriate to attend public events.

The book is a total hit, he’s even got a mention in the New York Times. Baekhyun loses track of time between flights and different time zones. He’s invited to numerous TV channels, press conferences and radio stations. He refuses most of them, because firstly he doesn’t want to go all public and lose all notion of privacy and secondly, he’s sure he’d mess up somehow by answering interviews in his current state. The only questions he accepts are scripted ones for the written press.

He doesn’t have a choice, though, but to attend public readings of his books and signing events at different bookstores around the country. He’s surprisingly fine with it, though, because it’s a way for him to reach directly to his readers, and exchange with them. These people like what he does, admire and support him, they’re not here to try and trap a young, successful author, and it’s very peculiar having strangers speaking so many kind words to him, encouraging him and begging him to write the sequel as soon as possible.

All of this is a nice distraction from more pressing matters, namely Chanyeol and his everything.

Three weeks after the distribution of his book began, the sales are sky-rocketing. It’s sold out in many major retailers, so his editors ordered new batches to be printed out in emergency. Baekhyun honestly wishes he were in a better state of mind to live what’s happening to him to the fullest. It feels like he’s missing out on everything—fame, success and money slip on him like water on a duck’s feathers. Chanyeol is at the foreground of his every thought and he can’t get him out of his head. His absence has left a Chanyeol-shaped hole in his heart, and it’s entirely Baekhyun’s fault.

One day, as he’s moping like a kicked puppy in a luxury hotel room, he can’t take it anymore and plugs in his cell. It seems to chime for a whole hour before calming down. He deletes all the messages he doesn’t care about, keeping Chanyeol’s and opening them in chronological order.

From Chanyeol:
hey, u could have woken me up before leaving, u little shit

oh, u forgot ur phone in ur room

got ur cell back? i wanna say congrats for the launch

got ur book ^^!

baekhyun i know u r probs very busy but please could u take 5sec to reply?

baekhyun???

not funny :-(

ok i don’t know how to interpret ur silence but i think i wont like it

baekhyun its my last time contacting u so if u got something to tell me do it now

ok got it. don’t try to talk to me again. bye baekhyun

As Baekhyun is reading Chanyeol’s texts, a lump creates itself and lodges in Baekhyun’s throat, heavy and large, crushing his lungs and making him unable to breathe. His last text dates back to a week ago. What did he expect? For Chanyeol to wait for him like a love-struck schoolgirl? He types and deletes a few different replies, but as expected, none of them seems even remotely acceptable after three weeks of total indifference. He needs to see him in person.

A few other texts catch his attention.

From Kyungsoo:
I’m going to kill you.

If you don’t come meet me, I’ll make your life a living hell, and I’m not joking.

You know I’m serious. See you then. For your own well-being.

He sent the time and location in another text, and Baekhyun checks his watch. He nearly falls from the bed. It’s tomorrow in California, and he’s in Texas right now. He doesn’t ponder for long before canceling his upcoming Texas events, apologizing profusely in Twitter and promising his readers he’ll come back ASAP, and booking the earliest flight to SF.

 

“What the hell?” he hisses as a greeting when Kyungsoo sits down across from him in the booth at the café he indicated in the text.

“Hello, Baekhyun,” he says, his face so inexpressive that next to him C3Po would look like he’s having a fit of laughter.

“I hope this is important.”

“It is, you asshole,” there’s the slightest twitch of contempt on Kyungsoo’s upper lip. “You broke my roommate’s heart.”

“What the fuck are you talking about? If you made me cancel a signing event because of someone I don’t—”

“It’s Chanyeol, you half-wit!”

“What?” Baekhyun nearly shouts. “Chanyeol is your roommate? You are Chanyeol’s roommate?”

“Yes. I should be surprised you didn’t find out before, but then again, it’s you, and you’re dumb so…figures.”

“Kyungsoo, how is he? What did he say?” Baekhyun panics. “Oh god, I need to see him. Kyungsoo, help me, I’ll do anything!”

“I’ll help you,” he says, looking at his nails. “But you have to know that I’m not doing it for you. I’m doing it for Chanyeol, who I deemed was a smart person before, but then he met you and fell in love with you, so obviously, he can’t be that clever.”

The insults are totally lost on Baekhyun because his brain shorted at ‘fell in love with you’.

“Chanyeol loves me?” Baekhyun repeats dumbly.

Kyungsoo shakes his head and mutters “Stupid,” under his breath.

“Is there any way I can fix this?” Baekhyun asks eagerly.

“The guy’s so gone on you that if you throw yourself at him and beg for forgiveness, he’ll take you back. You so don’t deserve him.”

For once, Baekhyun agrees with Kyungsoo, but he’d rather eat a live octopus than tell him that. Kyungsoo tells him where and when to corner Chanyeol, and Baekhyun writes down everything, not wanting to fuck anything up, again.

“To say that it’s because of me that you’re in this situation is deliciously ironic,” Kyungsoo says just as Baekhyun is about to leave. He sits back down immediately.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, remember the loud noises, the music, all of this?” Baekhyun doesn’t like where this is headed. “I told Chanyeol it didn’t bother me because I knew it would bother you. But then you intervened and somehow, he stopped, so I had to find another way to annoy the hell out of you. So I started sending him out, because I knew he’d go to your place and pester you. Turns out he wasn’t so irritating to you, after all. I’m glad earplugs exist,” he adds with a disgusted face, and Baekhyun stares at him, gaping. “If you guys are endgame, you’ll owe me forever.”

“Not if I kill you,” Baekhyun whispers menacingly.

“I’ll kill you first,” he says looking Baekhyun dead in the eye. “Now shoo! I’ve seen enough of your face for a lifetime.”

Baekhyun starts getting up and, his ass still hanging in mid-air, he asks, “Why do you hate me?”

Kyungsoo cocks his head to the side. “I don’t hate you. Never did.” He cocks his head to the side. “I figured too late that if I wanted the cool older boy to notice me and play with me, I had to resort to drastic plans. But you’re way less cool now, and I’ve grown out of it. I still like annoying you, though.” He pauses, leaving Baekhyun some time to process that much information. “As much as it kills me to admit it, you’re decent, Baekhyun. You could have told me off on many occasions, and you never did. That’s why I’m letting you make amends with Chanyeol. And also, I won’t take seeing his mopey face one more day.”

As he leaves the café, Baekhyun thinks back to the big-eyed only child staring at him from his spot on the swing in the neighbors’ backyard and realizes—makes sense. In a very twisted, Kyungsoo-like weird kind of way, granted, but it makes sense.

--

A literature graduate who doesn’t know all the nooks and crannies of the college library, that one certainly takes the cake. If he’d known that private study booths were available on the fifth floor, he’d spent his student life there.

He idles among the aisles for a bit, taking the large space in, before spotting a hunched figure at the back on the left, next to a window. He smiles, thinking if it’d been him, he’d chosen the same spot as Chanyeol. He seems engrossed in a thick, stodgy-looking book, taking down notes on a sheet from time to time. The familiar, big-ass headphones prevent him from hearing anything, so that Baekhyun stops right next to him, hovering over the table for a while before he notices him.

When he turns to Baekhyun, Chanyeol’s face shows a range of emotions in such a short amount of time that Baekhyun almost doesn’t make them out from one another. First he looks surprised, then hurt and finally anger settles on his normally soft features. His face isn’t made for frowning, Baekhyun decides, and he makes a promise to himself to prevent it at all costs in the future. For that, they need to have a future together and well, this still stands at the hypothetical stage.

Chanyeol takes off his headphones and opens his mouth, but nothing comes out of it and he turns his head to the side, swallowing and looking utterly dejected.

“Chanyeol…” Baekhyun starts off, but his voice breaks. He’s been repeating his speech in his head a thousand times, but now that he’s facing Chanyeol for real, it’s all blurry and muddled and, that’s just great, he has to improvise. “I’m sorry.” That’s a start. And the big idea too, so not too bad. Baekhyun pats himself inwardly.

Chanyeol takes his bag from where it’s been lying on the floor and Baekhyun panics. He can’t leave now, Baekhyun hasn’t said everything he needs to say, that he loves him, that he’s miserable without him and that he’d gladly spend the rest of his life with him if he accepts poor old Baekhyun back in his, but of course, he’s incapable of uttering anything from all of the above. Chanyeol isn’t leaving, as it turns out, he’s just rummaging through his backpack and taking a book out of it. It’s not just any book, it’s Baekhyun’s book, and he opens it from the end and shoves the acknowledgments page in Baekhyun’s face angrily.

“What is that?” he hisses, trying to keep a library-approved volume but clearly struggling to.

Baekhyun backs away a bit. He doesn’t need to read to know what he’s talking about. “Blah, blah, ‘thanks for the support, thank you Baekbeom’, blah, blah, ah! Here we go! ‘Finally, I’d like to thank someone very special to me, someone my editor told is my muse, as cheesy as it sounds, but I have to admit he’s right. Thanks for being such a clever, smart and supportive male cheerleader. Thanks for going out of your way just to help me out of the goodness of your heart, you’re a true blessing. Thank you, Chanyeol, I love you.’ End quote.”

“Uh,” Baekhyun says eloquently, because everything Chanyeol read out loud is still as true as it was when he wrote it a while back, and submitted on a whim. He’s glad he did, because he’s not sure he could have said it directly to Chanyeol’s face.

“Well how is you up and leaving with no way of contacting you the proper reaction of someone who’s supposed to love me?” Chanyeol sounds and looks irritated, clearly boiling inside if the way he clenches his fists is any indication. He has every right to be, Baekhyun won’t blame him for it.

“I…I panicked,” he explains lamely. Chanyeol is about to say something, but Baekhyun beats him to it. “Please, let me come clean. Chanyeol, I’m so sorry I left after dropping the bomb. I totally panicked, I was sure I fucked everything up. I didn’t want you to believe you’d be stuck with old me forever, I didn’t want to be that selfish asshole who keeps you for himself when you’ve only known me and clearly you have so many things to do before you settle with someone, you have to explore your sexuality, experiment things and who am I to deny you all of that?”

Chanyeol sighs, shaking his head with a disbelieving, bitter smile. “Do you want me to?”

“What?” Baekhyun asks.

“For me to ‘explore my sexuality and experiment’ with other people?”

“No!” Baekhyun nearly shouts. “I mean…I don’t want you to, but I have no say.”

Chanyeol scoffs. “Kyungsoo is so right when he says you’re dumb. Seriously, Baekhyun, are you fucking blind? What do you think? That I bring treats to all of my friends every other day, that I make up stupid excuses to spend time at all of my friends’ places? If I wanted to try with someone else, I’d have told you and done just that. I was waiting on you to catch up but huh, I guess I overestimated your insight. Baekhyun, I only want you, no one else. I don’t need to try around, I found what I was looking for, and if you had stopped overthinking for two seconds and just looked, you’d have seen that I’m head over heels for you. Come on, the torch I’ve been carrying for you all this time is so obvious it can be seen from space!” He’s frustrated, his long arms twitching by his sides as if he wants to throw them around, but doesn’t because it’s not the proper way to act in a library. “Baekhyun, it’s about time you stop relying on your poor judgment and consider my feelings for once.”

Baekhyun sighs. “I love you,” he says.

“I know,” Chanyeol replies, smirking ever-so-slightly.

“I can’t believe it!” Baekhyun says, trying half-assedly to sound indignant, but he’s smiling so hard his cheeks ache. “You just Han Solo’d me!”

“You took your sweet time dragging your sorry ass here, you freaking deserve it.”

“Fair enough. But Leia gets a kiss.”

Chanyeol shrugs, but Baekhyun can tell it’s nothing but nonchalant. “Alright,” he says. And leans in to do just that.

 

(“But who was the boy as Starbucks, then?”

“What? You mean Zitao? Come on, he’s a transfer from China whom I helped get a job there. We bonded over time and became friends. That’s it…I’ve never thought about him that way!”

“Sure…”

“Jealous much?”

“Shut up!”)

 

They get kicked out of the library and banned temporarily for PDA. It’s alright, Baekhyun resigned from his TA position a while ago, he’s not risking anything by being seen flirting (heavily making out) with a student. They’ll take it outside, or at Baekhyun’s place. Or anywhere else, really. Because they can.

--

EPILOGUE

* 2 YEARS LATER *

Baekhyun closes his laptop with a flourish, satisfied with how the script for the movie adaptation of his book turned out. He can’t believe it—his book will be brought to the screen and the mere prospect of adding the blu-ray to his already large collection is making him feel like he’s floating on a cotton candy cloud.

He sits at the balcony, looking out to the outskirts of Palo Alto, where the hills cast their long shadows on the quiet streets. It’s a college small town, so it’s mostly dead in August. Their apartment is not all that big, but the view is nice and it’s close to both Stanford, where Chanyeol is taking his post-graduate education, and the Googleplex, because yeah, Baekhyun’s boyfriend is a freaking computer genius and got himself an internship at Google, no less. He isn’t half-proud. His only regret is that there’s no formal dress code at Google, because Chanyeol looks like a fucking sex god in a suit.

There’s the sound of a key in the lock. “Ugh!” Chanyeol yells from the entryway. “There’s nothing I want more right now than a bath and you in me. Either in that order, or both at the same time,” he adds and Baekhyun chuckles from his spot on the balcony.

“We have reservations,” Baekhyun replies. It’s been two years they met. Even though they started off on the wrong foot, they’ve walked a long way from there. “So take a shower so we won’t be late.” Sometimes, he likes acting like the responsible adult in their relationship.

Chanyeol left the bathroom door open, so Baekhyun takes this opportunity to style his hair at the same time Chanyeol is in the shower. “Did I tell you Luhan is pregnant again?” Baekhyun asks. Chanyeol hums. “All those kids are gonna make me bankrupt, I swear to god, why does baby stuff cost so much money?” Baekhyun mutters.

“Wait until we have our own,” Chanyeol says, voice loud as to not be drowned out by the water.

Baekhyun smiles. Chanyeol may still be young, but he really does want kids. “We’ve talked about that. We’ll wait till you graduate and land a job, and I need to complete my trilogy first.” They’ll come to it, but for now, they’re okay with each other. Not to mention that Chanyeol is still 22 and a student—they have plenty of time ahead of them.

 

“May your Force be within me,” Chanyeol says later that night, when they’re back from the restaurant and tangled together in bed. Baekhyun gasps in a mix of shock and indignation.

“That was the nerdiest, corniest, most cringe-worthy attempt at dirty talking I’ve ever heard.”

“Come on, Master Baekhyun. I want a taste of your lightsaber.” Those damn puppy eyes. They make Baekhyun’s resolve break every single time. But he’s still got game, he has to resist.

“Okay, I’ll leave you to get off alone while I throw myself from the balcony,” Baekhyun says as he pretends he’s leaving the bed.

“Nuh-uh, not going anywhere,” Chanyeol argues, keeping Baekhyun securely close with his palm square on his crotch. “It doesn’t seem to be turning you off.” Baekhyun shoves him playfully, which, considering the position they’re in, proves more arousing than anything else.

“You’re lucky you’re hot as fuck.” No one else could have gotten away with such a line, Baekhyun realizes. He’s so gone on him. “From now on, let’s just keep the Star Wars references out of the bedroom, shall we?” He doesn’t leave Chanyeol any chance to reply, though, for he seals their lips together in a hungry, heated kiss.

Who’s Han Solo now?

 

THE END