At first it had been Donghyuck from music class, walking up to Chenle and complimenting him on how well he did in the piano lesson they had just finished, and asking if they could hang out sometimes.
Chenle of course had said yes, and now it was usual for the two of them to meet up at Chenle’s house every now and then to sing karaoke at the top of their lungs, trying to emulate Mariah Carey’s highest notes. (Donghyuck always said theirs were far better, anyway.)
Then it had been Jeno from Jisung’s dance crew, asking Chenle if he could please pass him the water bottle that was behind Chenle’s back while blushing as red as a tomato and sounding like he was trying to not make his uneven breath from dancing so noticeable. Chenle had handed it to him with a smile, watching Jeno curiously once the crew started dancing again and noticing how the older seemed to blush again every time their eyes met. He had approached Jeno again after practice ended, and now they were friends.
Then, it was exactly while he was half-cuddling, half-having lunch with Jeno, sat in between the older’s legs, munching on some grapes and talking absentmindedly about anything and everything while Jeno was doing homework and resting his left hand on Chenle’s hip. At that point… Renjun? had approached them, Chenle remembered his name because he was another one of the school’s chinese students and because he had seen him hanging out with Jeno and Donghyuck sometimes. Chenle had been wanting to befriend him too, so he smiled widely and greeted him cheerfully by calling his name.
He suddenly felt Jeno’s head snapping up from behind him, but figured it was just because he hadn’t noticed his friend arriving. Renjun looked at Jeno with a smirk for a split second before turning his gaze to meet Chenle’s again. “Now that you two are close, can you please teach him some chinese yourself? I’m tired of him asking me for private lessons only because he wants to impress you.”
At that, Jeno let out a whiny “Injuuunnnn…” and tried to hit Renjun’s arm, but he couldn’t move much with the youngest still sat between his legs and Renjun was quick to step aside and dodge his attempt.
Chenle turned to Jeno with an incredulous expression and noticed how the other’s face was flushed red. The boy really blushed for every little thing, and Chenle found it adorable. “Oh my god! Is that why you wanted to take that chinese class with me next semester? And why you’re so good at it already?” Jeno blushed even more, groaning and hiding his face in Chenle’s shoulder while Renjun let out a chuckle.
Chenle couldn’t help but laugh loudly, and he could almost swear he saw the others freezing on the spot. But it was gone in a second, the other two started laughing too, and Chenle decided to not think much about it. After that Renjun had become a part of Chenle’s life too, just as their ice cream dates and evenings binge-watching moomin in chinese for their childhoods’ sake, cuddled up under a fluffy blanket.
Lastly it was Jaemin, the barista from his favourite coffee shop who always put extra milk foam on top of Chenle’s latte and even made it into the shape of a cute dog, “white and fluffy like a samoyed”. One time Chenle had told Jaemin that it looked like him, and the older had smiled even wider than usual and didn’t make him pay for his drink. From that day on, there was always a free little lemon tarte, Chenle’s favourite, next to his samoyed latte, and Chenle always thanked Jaemin with a kiss on the cheek before going home.
After he discovered that Jaemin went to his same school and was also a friend of Donghyuck, Renjun and Jeno as well, Chenle had suggested for them to all spend their lunches together, along with his best friend Jisung and his new boyfriend. Chenle knew Jisung was really shy about pda and lately had preferred to eat in a place hidden from other people where he could cuddle with his boyfriend in peace and keep up his closeted romantic façade at every other time.
But Chenle had missed him just as much as Jisung had missed Chenle (not that he would have ever admitted it out loud to anyone else beside lele, though) and had assured him that nobody would have bothered them. So now Jisung and Mark sat with them too, and they all pretended not to notice how the two of them always blushed a deep red after not-so-secretely linking their hands under the table. The blush gave it away, really.
But they were cute so it was all good, even more so considering that Mark apparently knew the other four too. Chenle had questioned them about it once (“For real, how is it possible? It’s like before this year I had never even noticed you went to this school, and now you’re suddenly all here and knowing each other! And becoming friends with me!”) and all of them, even Jisung, had chuckled nervously while looking at each other, but then Chenle added a “I’m glad you did.” and a smile, and the atmosphere quickly relaxed again.
For the first months into the school year it had all been great. Until November hit, and with every passing day something seemed to change. Nana didn’t smile as much while baking with Chenle, a thing he had always loved to do. Renjun clinged a bit too much while three of them cuddled on the couch, holding onto Jeno’s hand on the other side of him so tightly that Chenle could see his knuckles turning white. Jeno seemed always worried about something, not even getting affected by things that usually would’ve made him blush like crazy and instead just smiling weakly. Donghyuck wasn’t as cheery as before, and even though he still backhugged chenle and kissed his hair, he acted like he was afraid the youngest could disappear at any moment. Even Mark and Jisung looked at the four of them sadly, and Chenle felt like he was the only one missing something.
The days ticked by and it seemed to only get worse, until at one lunch Donghyuck had spoken up while they were all looking down and eating in silence, an unusual scenery Chenle had gotten more used to than he would’ve ever liked.
“Hey, Lele? Can we… can we all go to your house after school? We have something to tell you.”
“Oh?” When he registered what he had just said, Chenle was quick to answer. “Yeah! Sure!” He was still worried, but now there was also a tiny spark of hope blooming in his chest, hope that maybe all of this would’ve turned out fine, in the end.
Chenle was sitting cross-legged on the couch, Jaemin, Donghyuck, Renjun and Jeno all holding hands on the other sofa in front of him and Mark and Jisung slumped in the loveseat to his right. The air was tense and Chenle couldn’t seem to stop fidgeting with his sweater paws, so he hugged close to his chest the pillow he was holding, resting his chin on it and bringing up his knees.
“You look like a cat,” Jaemin said with a small but fond smile, and Chenle felt himself blushing, nervousness still coursing through every centimetre of his body.
The four boys in front of Chenle all exchanged some unreadable looks, and Renjun took a deep breath before speaking up.
“Lele… it’s your birthday.”
Chenle’s face fell. “Oh.” He hadn’t even realised with how much he had been worrying about the others. But… yeah, it was the 22nd. He was 17 now. Wow.
“... That’s why we need to do it today.”
“Wait, wait.” Chenle moved his gaze across the others’ faces “Do what?”
Another deep breath. This time the one to talk was Donghyuck.
“You know the legend that says every time a baby first laughs, a fairy is born?”
“Well…” they all turned towards Jeno’s voice. “We might be your fairies.”
Chenle was looking at him like he had grown another head.
“Of course you are!”
“I know that it might- wait, what?”
“Yeah. You’re my fairies. Like, the people that make me happy and make me feel like I can achieve my dreams? I get it. Jisung is my fairy too. And Mark as well! You all are.”
Jaemin had a slightly panicked look on his face, and Donghyuck squeezed his hand before speaking up again. “No, the- the legend I was talking about before. It’s true, Lele. With every newborn baby’s first laugh, a fairy is born. Like a real, small fairy, with wings and all. And we think one of us might be the fairy that was born because of you.”
“Oh my god so you are fairies?? That’s so cool! But, why do you think that? Aren’t you all older than me?”
“That’s just a fairy thing,” said Renjun. “When we are born we’re already grown teenagers, so depending on the time we’re more or less years older than “our” kid. We start ageing again when the child becomes 17.”
“Is that why you needed to tell me today?.
It was Jeno’s turn to talk now. “Yes. Each fairy has some general information to find the child they’re supposed to be the kind of guardian of, like the city they live in. But it’s not much, and the only way to find out isn’t exactly easy. When you’re near the child and they laugh, your wings start glowing. But it only works when you’re in your fairy form, and we have rules about secrecy towards humans and all.”
“And the trick is,” Jaemin added “that once the child turns seventeen and the fairy starts growing old, it doesn’t work anymore. The fairy is still a fairy, but there isn’t anymore a way of finding out for sure who the child you’re supposed to watch over is, and adult fairies who never found their kid say it feels like a part of you is missing. Forever.”
“Yeah…” Jaemin was fidgeting, and looked over at where Jisung and Mark were “Sometimes… it works really well, and the fairy and the kid meet long before the 17th birthday. But the four of us all think we could be your fairy, and we don’t exactly have plenty of time left.”
Chenle was still thinking about Jaemin’s actions just moments before. “Nana, why were you looking at them? Is that something I’m missing here?” he finished, turning to a now blushing Jisung, half-lying comfortably in between the oldest’s legs.
“Mark is- Mark is my fairy.”
He blushed even more after admitting it, then looked up to meet Chenle’s eyes.
“I knew about them too. I’m sorry if I didn’t tell you, but I promised.”
Chenle waved a hand in the air, far too excited to feel bad about something like that. “It’s okay! I get it, and oh my god that’s so cool! You found your fairy! I’m about to find mine! Wait.” He turned back to the four boys on the couch, tilting his head slightly to the side questioningly.
“Do I need to date you guys too?”
After hearing Chenle’s words Jeno folded himself in half in a coughing fit, Renjun hitting his back repeatedly before he let out a strangled “No!” that made Renjun’s hand freeze, just as all of them did.
Jeno seemed to realise what he had said, and moved his hands frantically in front of himself, clearly panicking. “Wait! Not like that! I meant, not if you don’t want to.” Jeno was blushing that deep red of his again, and man, that was a sight Chenle had missed.
“It isn’t really… the norm...” explained Donghyuck
Jisung scoffed and slumped back against his boyfriend’s chest, taking Mark’s arms and wrapping them around his own waist, pouting slightly. “I’d like to see them do something about it.”
“...but it’s definitely happened many times before. Not really any rules there.”
“Oh, I see!”
There was silence for a moment, before Jaemin asked tentatively “So… should we do it?”
Jeno shuddered. “Yeah… let’s do this. Lele, close your eyes please. Jisung, you too, you know how this works.”
Chenle obliged, and once he opened his eyes again after Mark had given him the go ahead, he didn’t know whether he wanted more to coo or to screech in joy.
Because in front of him Jeno, Renjun, Donghyuck and Jaemin were consistently smaller than before, floating in mid air thanks to a pair of translucent wings attached to each of their backs.
Chenle jumped up and down in his seat excitedly. “Guys! You’re all so small and cute!”
Renjun mumbled a grumpy “I’m not that small”, and Donghyuck rolled his eyes before bumping his shoulder against Renjun’s playfully.
“Yeah sure, Tinkerbell.”
Chenle felt amusement bubbling up in his chest at Donghyuck’s remark, and threw his head back in a loud laugh, stopping after mere moments as soon as he heard Jisung gasp loudly, suddenly looking forward again and widening his eyes as much as he could.
The wings. Jaemin’s wings. They were glowing.
But so were Jeno’s.
The four fairies were looking at each other just as incredulously as the other three people in the room were looking at them, when Jaemin whipped around hurriedly.
“Mark! Mark. Is this- possible? Has it happened before?”
The oldest among all of them looked shocked, but his words were reassuring. “I mean, I’ve only heard of someone having two fairies, not four, but... it can happen. If the baby’s laugh is particularly happy or bright.”
Chenle’s smile was blinding. “Well, happy 17th birthday to me, my fairies!”
And with the way he laughed while Renjun, Jaemin, Donghyuck and Jeno all moved to fly above his head and shower Chenle with all the magic dust they could, they were sure he could have probably caused the birth of the entire fairy population.
But four and a human was a pretty good ratio too, and they all knew it would have been just perfect.