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The Sundown

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"I'm coming, okay?! Stop acting like standing for two minutes under the sun is going to kill you!"

Frantically, Baekhyun shifted his phone to balance it between his ear and shoulder as he attempted to tie his laces. On the other end of the line, Jongdae continued to nag about his complexion and a supposed sun allergy Baekhyun had never heard of before.

"Okay! Okay! I've reached the stairs, the stairs!" huffed Baekhyun, checking once again if his room was properly locked before bounding for the staircase. He jumped two steps at once and pocketed his keys on the way.

When he emerged out onto the street, he was greeted with the sight of Jongdae in a halter dress with his arms folded and heels digging in annoyance. Baekhyun paused for a second. He hadn't expected to see Chen today.

Even after all these years of knowing the other, Baekhyun would be surprised at the transformation of the dashing and young man to Chen, the sassy and alluring woman who could capture your heart with a flicker of her eyelashes.

"You didn't comb your wig," he pointed as he approached the diva, grabbing the other's attention.

"Oh no, I did," clipped Chen, running a hand through the blonde hair, "but since someone wasn't on time, the heat ruined it."

"Sure," Baekhyun rolled his eyes. The switch from an allergy to it-ruined-my-fake-hair was nothing unusual coming from his friend. "Anyway, you're Chen today?"

"Well, this new baby was just sitting around, asking me to wear it," Chen gestured towards her dress with a pout. "She really couldn't wait any longer."

Baekhyun stared deadpanned at her before a smirk slyly creeped onto his face and he tackled Chen by throwing an arm around her. "You look great! So, what are we doing today, Chennie ChenChen?"

Since they were majoring in different subjects at university, their timetables rarely matched, leaving them very less time to hang out together. Therefore, when his best friend asked him to meet up on Saturday, it merely took a second for Baekhyun to reply in the affirmative.

"Well," Chen clapped her hands. "First we go to that new cafe I told you about because I need to update my foodstagram."

"Yes!" sang Baekhyun.

"Then we go Oh Sehun watching at the soccer field."

"Yes!" groaned Baekhyun.

"Then we go home and watch 'The Sundown'."

"Oh my god, yes!" whistled Baekhyun. "It has been like 2 weeks since I last saw it!" Baekhyun couldn't help but feel ashamed of himself. He really hadn't watched the world's best movie, the one which had been his favourite since he was five, for two entire weeks! In fact, the entire reason he first became friends with Jongdae in middle school was their mutual love for the film!

"Let's go, then," smirked Chen, putting her hand on the other's shoulder.

"Lollipop?" Baekhyun raised his eyebrows. Chen dipped her hand into the pocket of her dress to produce the pink candy.

"Let's go! Let's go!" screamed Baekhyun. He thrust the strawberry lollipop into his mouth as the two began walking down the road, giggling arm in arm.

When they reached the cafe, they found it nearly empty. They were guided by the waiter to a nicely lit corner with a small, white table and high windows. Their seat was near the entrance and to their liking, separated them from the other side of the cafe through a bookshelf. As soon as they were handed the menu, Chen started debating on whether to order to a tart or some pudding.

"I mean, we're definitely getting the sandwiches... and the crushed potatoes but I can't decide what will make the better dessert."

"Maybe we should—"

"I mean, we can go with the pudding because I want pudding but at the last cafe I visited, I had a tart and it would be nice to compare the two."

"Mayb—"

"But potatoes are gooey. And so is pudding. What if I'm not able to handle all of it?"

"I think—"

"You know what? You're right. We should just get both," Chen closed the menu in finality. "We're done."

Baekhyun slowly closed his half open mouth and shook his head. Typical Jongdae, typical Chen. Once the waiter took their order, the two friends began their usual conversations. Baekhyun felt unusually perky that day. Perhaps, it was due to the perfect combination of the sharp light pouring from the windows and the small gusts of wind from the air conditioner. It could've also been the scent of the vanilla wafting through the shop. It didn't matter, though, as Baekhyun plucked a leaf from from the tiny pot on their table to prove to Chen that the plant wasn't artificial.

"Ha! Idiot," he exclaimed, flipping the leaf onto Chen's hair. "You owe me gum." Reluctantly, Chen passed him a piece of gum. With a smug smile, Baekhyun pocketed it.

Before they could further continue their antics, the door to the cafe opened with a chime of the bell. Usually, neither Baekhyun nor Chen would have paid any attention to the newcomer, however, this time, the swinging of the door was accompanied by a force that compelled the two patrons to turn their heads. A puff of air seemed to hit their faces and shake their souls as the man entered indoors, making them squeeze their eyes shut.

Once open again, Baekhyun's eyes travelled from the newcomer's polished leather shoes to his never ending legs to the coat that seemed to hug him perfectly. He was about to snort when they rested on the face that was perhaps a little too cute for the man's body but stopped when his gaze fell upon his hair.

Glinting under light that came through the glass, the man's hair was tied up in a bun resting at the back of his head. The few strands that had escaped curled down to reach his shoulder, teasing the fabric of his coat with their tips.

From besides him, Baekhyun heard Chen gasp, "Lee Taemin."

He followed his friend and gulped,"'The Sundown'..."

"Baekhyun," muttered Chen, eyes still fixated on the man who was walking towards the counter for takeaway. "Lee Taemin... his hair, those legs... he could be Lee Taemin with those legs."

And Baekhyun couldn't help but agree. It was with such long legs that Lee Taemin, the hero of his favourite film and of his heart, had walked through the sand towards Choi Sooyoung, taken her into his arms and twirled her around. Under the moonlight, his curly locks had shone much the same way that the newcomer's did. It was a scene that always made Baekhyun swoon. In fact, what made this part even more special was the close up the film took for a few seconds on Taemin's arms encircling Sooyoung's waist, with his veins popping and muscles flexing. The fourteen year old him had found it extremely hot.

Much like his thoughts, Baekhyun's eyes drifted to the person's hands. He wasn't surprised to find them strong and big, decorated with branch like veins, visible to him even from faraway. Instantly, he felt flustered about ogling a stranger's hands. It was wrong!

With a light blush decorating his face, he quickly turned back towards Chen but only to find that the latter was still staring at the stranger. "Baekhyun... I think I'm in love... my real life Taemin."

"Stop looking!" he hissed, slightly panicked now. "He'll see!"

In return, Chen scoffed. "When has that ever mattered, my little Baekkie?"

Before Baekhyun could protest, his friend continued, "I... need to get a picture of him. For snapchat. He's too cute to let go like this."

"Hey, you can't do that. It's illegal or something."

"You click pictures of Oh Sehun all the time."

"But he's like a celebrity! He knows all his fans are doing so from the benches and he allows it to be so!" exclaimed Baekhyun. However, there was no arguing with someone like Chen.

As Baekhyun flailed his arms around to stop his friend, Chen, easily dodging all such attempts, lifted her mobile phone and focused the camera onto the man who was now waiting for his order near their table. What happened next was pretty much a blur. There was the sound of a click, a flash of light, the stranger was turning to look in their direction and one of Baekhyun's flailing arms had finally grabbed and snatched the phone away from Chen.

These actions, so quick that they could be merged together, were followed by an eerie stillness in which Baekhyun, with the phone and his hand stuck in the air, was beginning to comprehend everything that had just unfolded. He slowly looked up to find the the person's gaze switching between the phone to his own small form. When they finally made eye contact, the long haired man began walking towards him and stopped a few inches away before Baekhyun could call onto Chen for help.

"Excuse me," started the stranger in a deep voice, his tone laced with incredulity, "Did you just click a picture of me?"

Baekhyun, with horror outlining his face, quickly scrambled to his feet. It took him a second to compose his expression. "What? Psh, N-no. I was— we were— clicking a selfie."

"Is that how the flash works for the front camera?" the person crossed his arms, his eyebrows raised in question.

"That was a mistake," Baekhyhn waved his hand, trying to ease the situation. "I wouldn't do that, really!"

"Listen, kiddo, and listen hard," the man spoke with his eyebrows furrowed, "I know I'm good looking, tall, handsome and all that— the kind of guy you don't get to see in your high school class. It's okay to stare —don't think I didn't notice that— but it's not nice to take pictures."

"I— what?" Baekhyun was baffled. What a narcissist! He had never heard anyone say something like this about themselves. He turned to gape at Chen, asking her for help. His friend only shrugged with a smug smile painting her face. Being her useless self, she busied herself with Baekhyun's mobile.

"If you're innocent—which you're not, by the way— why don't you show me your gallery?" demanded the man, a certain haughtiness sneaking in his manner.

"Well, I c-can," shrugged Baekhyun.

"Show it, then," clipped the stranger.

"I can but I don't want to a-and you can't force me to. You have no proof," mumbled the boy, feeling sweaty.

"Actually, he does. There's the CCTV," whispered Chen in a voice too loud for a whisper.

"There's the CCTV," nodded the stranger in agreement. What was Chen doing?!

"No, um— OKAY!" burst Baekhyun. There was absolutely no reason to protect Chen the Troublemaker. He continued in one breath, "It wasn't me but my friend who thought you were cute so she tried to take a picture of you for... for snapchat... and her flash went off so she shoved her phone into my hand and now you think it was me but it really wasn't!" When he finished, he was panting and the stranger smirking.

"Doesn't matter which one of you it was. You're peas of the same pod," came the reply. The man raked his eyes over Baekhyun's figure and then glanced towards his blonde bestfriend. "Or maybe not. At least your friend knows how to dress decently."

"I agree," nodded Chen before she turned to talk to a waiter who had appeared out of nowhere.

Baekhyun looked down at his shiny blue track pants, black T-shirt and cut sleeved orange jersey. He had his socks pulled high and his pants tucked into them. Neat and clean. There was absolutely nothing wrong with his clothes! All earlier hesitation shoved aside, he glared at the taller. "An old man like you wouldn't understand fashion. At least I'm not wearing a coat in this weather!"

"Don't you talk too much for a pipsqueak?" the person tilted his head. "Some of us have to work and can't go around dressed like... whatever you are wearing. Go back to school, kiddo, don't skip your classes."

"Well, you sure have a tiny brain for a giant elf," retorted the little black haired boy, gaining confidence. "It's Saturday and I'm a college student."

"Sure, kiddo, of course you are. Do you really think you should be talking like that? When you're the one who started this?" the man took a step forward, further towering over the other.

Baekhyun, in response, took a step backwards. "I didn't start anything."

"I could take you to the police, you know."

The smaller couldn't stop a laugh from escaping his mouth. "Really? Who does that?"

"I do that," declared the the man with firm resolution. "Giant elves with tiny brains do that."

"Listen, it's just a picture. You're being too serious," muttered Baekhyun, feeling slightly alarmed by the person's seriousness. "We'll just leave, okay?"

"You're not going anywhere, pipsqueak. Show me the picture."

He couldn't believe he had to be dealing with this. "Okay. I'll delete it and then you have to let us go."

He opened the smartphone, angling it so that the man could see the screen too. He swiped around, only to find that Chen had already set the picture as a Snapchat story, visible for all the world to see. Just as he was about to remove it, a bigger hand stopped him to check the list of viewers.

"Why has user byunbuttcheeks taken a screenshot?" grimaced the long legged stranger. Slowly, the small boy spun to face his blonde friend who still held Baekhyun's phone in her clutches.

"I didn't think he'd notice," smiled Chen, slyly placing Baekhyun's phone back onto the table. Why did the college student ever think letting Chen know his mobile phone password was a good idea?

"Maybe we should drop by the police station after all," declared the man, making Baekhyun groan.

He was going to murder Chen, decided the the boy. He was gonna steal one of the lollipops that she always kept hidden in her pockets to bribe Baekhyun with and use the stick to stab her gut. He'd then dump the body in the narcissist stranger's backyard. Before that, however, he needed to escape this situation. With the man standing between them and the door, there was no way they could just run and do so. He also knew that his diva of a friend was going to be of no help.

He looked at the long haired man in front of him who was still bending to peek into Chen's phone. Baekhyun took a deep breath. Desperate times called for desperate measures. His nimble fingers wrapped themselves around the stranger's tie, pulling him forward. He planted his lips onto the other's, near the corner of his mouth. It was supposed to be quick—just enough to throw the man off—but Baekhyun stayed in the position for a little too long, feeling the softness plushness. It was when the stranger began moving his lips against his that, alarmed, Baekhyun drew back.

He called loudly for Chen, surprising all the costumers. While the Real Life Lee Taemin was still in a daze, bathed in confusion about what just happened, Baekhyun pushed past him and dashed out of the cafe. Chen was close on his heels whilst carrying a bag of food he had asked to be packed as takeaway. The black haired boy kept running down the streets despite Chen's yells (who followed him nevertheless) until he reached the bus stop.

"I—huff," began Chen, gasping for breath and reaching for her feet that were about to fall off along with the heels she wore. "I (huff) can't believe you (huff) lost your first kiss like that!"

Baekhyun closed his eyes. "If you (huff ) don't shut up (huff) I'm going to fucking smack your face."

Later that night, as he climbed under his stale bedsheets, user byunbuttcheeks — always the one to accept any and every request on snapchat— received a new snap from user parkchanyeol61. Opening it, he was greeted by a picture of a pair of deadly eyes that he remembered very well and a caption that read: "I'll get you, you pipsqueak".

It took Baekhyun less than a second to block the account.

***

"I need money," announced Baekhyun. He was sprawled on one of the benches surrounding one side of the college field for the players to go and rest on during a game or practice. Jongdae sat beneath him on the grass, typing away an assignment on his MacBook.

"Why don't you ask your sister?" replied his friend, focused on the screen.

Baekhyun gazed at the clouds filling a stark blue sky. The one just above him formed the shape of a giraffe and he somehow couldn't remove his eyes from it. "I can't. You know she's already paying my tuition and accommodation fee. I can't just go and tell her that the pocket money she gives isn't enough. I'm twenty one. I should be able to earn for myself."

"Get a job then," muttered Jongdae, switching to the browser and scanning through windows.

Baekhyun had been thinking about it and it did seem like the best option. However, there was one problem. "Where?"

"I don't know. At a convenience store or a fast food place. Maybe a restaurant or something."

"So... do I go looking around through the streets?" he asked, trying to trace the outline of the giraffe with the tip of his forefinger.

"Hmm," affirmed Jongdae. "And search online. I know of a few places that are hiring too."

Baekhyun sat up, finally looking towards the other. "You do?"

"Yea, I'll text you the names later. Let me study now, Baekhyun," clipped his friend.

"Psh, if reading up from Wikipedia counted as studying then I would've been the university topper," he poked a tongue at Jongdae and went back to gazing at his giraffe.

The next few days made Baekhyun realise how difficult it actually was to find a job. He'd been rejected multiple times at multiple places usually for reasons he couldn't decipher. He had assumed he would at least bag a job distributing flyers but there too, he was turned away the moment he entered with the person in-charge passing a snide comment about his fluorescent pink pants. Baekhyun had huffed and puffed as he had exited. He didn't want to work for someone with a disregard for fashion!

He now sat on a bench with a bunch of other candidates for an interview he definitely wasn't going to pass, since, after all, he had failed to crack the ones for simpler jobs. The restaurant that he waited in the staff room of was as fancy from the inside as it had been from the outside. Both the interior and the exterior of Viva Polo was rich golden with a highlight of black marble. A chandelier, of a similar scheme, hung right down from the centre of the large hall. Everything that Baekhyun's eyes had fallen on as he had entered from the main entrance had screamed expensive. The furniture around was intricately carved and he was sure that the carpet under the round, white cloth covered tables was softer than the bed at his apartment.

As the college student waited for his turn, he attempted to smoothen his crew socks and made sure that his track pants were tucked in in a tidy manner. When the staff by door called for him, the candidate sitting right besides passed him a thumbs up.

The office he entered was tiny and cramped with the desk in the centre taking most of the space. It was obvious that it wasn't used much (which was alright considering that this was, after all, a restaurant). The man seated behind the desk offered him a gummy smile. "Good afternoon. I'm Kim Minseok, the manager of Viva Polo. Please take a seat."

Baekhyun quickly bowed and fit himself in the chair the manager had pointed towards. He watched as Minseok read over a sheet which was presumably the resume he had handed in earlier. The manager seemed to take a long time to read what should've been a (mostly) blank sheet.

When he finally looked up, his eyes were sparkling. "So, Mr. Byun Baekhyun, you're a literature student."

Baekhyun frantically nodded. "Yes, Yes. I am."

Ecstatic, the manager clapped his hands. "That's incredible! I was too! Ah, you must be wondering how I'm now a manager but that's a long story. What matters is that my days at university were some of the best I've ever had! Make sure you live them to the fullest!"

Completely thrown off and not sure how to respond, Baekhyun continued to nod.

"Anyway, what's your favourite food, Baekhyun?" chirped Minseok.

As someone who was poor and could only cook rice or ramen, his answer was obvious, "Pizza."

"Okay," responded the manager, considering the answer very seriously. "And your favourite dessert?"

At this, Baekhyun perked up. He loved his dear strawberry lollipops but they wouldn't count as desserts, would they? After a little contemplation, the little black haired boy settled for strawberry pastry.

"Ah, good, your hobbies?"

"Hobbies?"

"Yes," nodded Minseok. "Your interests."

Having answered this question during multiple icebreakers at school, he didn't skip another beat before saying, "I enjoy gaming and reading."

"Interesting, interesting," hummed the manager, lacing his fingers together on the desk. "Lastly, what's better— winter or summer?"

Baekhyun was puzzled.Lastly? Weren't these questions asked to just warm him up? "Uh, summer?"

"Summer, nice. Why?"

This was definitely not how the literature student had presumed his interview would go but he also most definitely did not mind. The one sided 21-questions-like thing was a lot easier. "Well, because we can have ice cream in summer."

"Ah, that's smart!" With that, Minseok began jotting down points on a notepad he had placed on his desk. Once he was done, he told Baekhyun to wait with rest of the interviewees. However, just as he was about to exit the room, the manager called for him again. "That's a nice style you've got. Those socks are cute."

Baekhyun couldn't help but blush as he thanked the man and scurried over to where the other candidates were. He had always been pretty sensitive when it came to his socks.

It was going to take a while before Kim Minseok could finish up with the remaining interviews and Baekhyun couldn't help but wonder during that time about the difference between him and Jongdae, for, it was his best friend who had informed him about the hiring at Viva Polo. His friend would, quite often, come to dine at the restaurant with his parents. Baekhyun, on the other hand, could never do so; not only because he was orphaned at an age he doesn't remember much from but also because his family had been comparatively poor. Although, he still liked to think that if his parents were alive, they'd have been rich by now. His older sister, Hani, and Jongdae agreed as well.

The manager, when he entered the staff room ten minutes later, made a show of doing so. Even though all eyes were already trained on him, he clapped his hands to grab attention. "It was good talking to all six of you! However, only one of you would be working with us."

Minseok's gestured towards him. "Byun Baekhyun, follow me."

By the time Baekhyun's shock wore off, the other had already existed the room. The boy scrambled to his feet and jogged to join the man. The manager began speaking before the college student could say anything. "You cannot work in an Italian restaurant and have any other cuisine as your favourite food. Tsk. And can you believe some of them had chocolate as their favourite dessert? In 2019?"

Baekhyun audibly gasped.

"Absolutely no taste," muttered Minseok before going into his office. Once they were seated like before, he spoke, "You can collect the uniform tomorrow and start from Tuesday. Your shift will be from 6 to 11 on all days excepting the weekend. For the first week, you would be training under Yixing, one of our oldest waiting staff. He'll guide you through all the know-hows of the work. Is that alright?"

With the amount of money involved in question, Baekhyun hastily nodded.

***

Baekhyun's first two days of work passed smoothly. He was introduced to and became familiar with the rest of the staff. Yixing, his mentor, was the sweetest chap he'd ever met. Baekhyun's only job was to trail after him and observe how one should be interacting with costumers. It was easy enough until he learnt that he was supposed to have the entire menu along with the ingredients of each delicacy memorised by the end of the week.

"How am I supposed to do that? Me, who isn't even able to remember stuff for his exams?" whined the boy.

"Go section by section, Hyung," chuckled Jongin, the dishwasher.

And that's what Baekhyun did. On his third day of work, he showed up with a smile smugly portraying his pride at having fixed in his memory all that came before the main course. He was ready to shove it in Yixing's and Minseok's faces that he had done part of the work assigned to him.

When he entered, the restaurant was yet to become busy for the evening. The permanent staff was hard at work and the part timers like him were shuffling around. Baekhyun made a quick work of changing into the uniform before joining the others. Before he could get to making sure that the table cloths were perfectly set, he spotted Minseok by his desk, chatting with a man whose back faced him.

Joyful, Baekhyun began skipping towards him. He was gonna tell Minseok all about his achievement! With his nose in the air, he called out his name just as he reached the duo.

"Oh, Baekhyunee, yes," spoke the manager just as the other, somewhat long legged person turned around. The college student's eyes went wide when they landed upon the person's face.

"Oh my god, Jongin! What happened to your face?" exclaimed the boy, looking at the bandage decorating his temple.

The latter merely shrugged. "Don't even begin, hyung. I hit my head with one of the plates."

"Why would you do that?!"

"Accident. It was an accident," he sighed deeply.

As Baekhyun cooed over the dishwasher's wound, the door next to the group opened, revealing a man who walked whilst fixing his watch. It was when the said man called for Minseok that Jongin and a somewhat confused looking Baekhyun turned to face him— confused, for the voice was familiar yet unfamiliar at the same time.

This confusion was wiped away the moment he met gazes with the man. Except for the fact that his long hair weren't in a bun, the person looked exactly the same: the same killer eyes and strong hands and soft lips, the same self-absorbed expression.

Once his surprise lessened, the Lee Taemin lookalike tilted his head with a hint of a smirk, "Pipsqueak."

And all Baekhyun could do was gulp and take a step back. When he had blocked parkchanyeol61 on snapchat, he had snickered assuming that he'd never have to run into him ever again, especially not at Viva Polo. Trying to push the flashbacks of that day into a corner, he sidestepped to hide behind Jongin.

Looking between the two and their locked gazes, Minseok voiced out, "Do you know each other?"

"Oh, very well," answered the man. "Don't we, kid?"

Baekhyun shook his head vehemently, watching the taller close in on him.

"Why are you being so shy? Weren't you the forward one between us?" asked the long haired man, peeking to look behind Jongin.

The college student braced himself, ready to run away. However, just as he stood on his toes, he was grabbed by the back of his collar and pulled backwards, "No getting away this time, pipsqueak."

Flailing his arms around, Baekhyun mewled, struggling against the man with a tight grip on his shirt. Alarmed, Minseok stepped in. "Chanyeol, what are you doing?"

"Remember that incident I had told you about?" asked Chanyeol, whose name Baekhyun had somewhat guessed due to his snapchat ID. "He's that kid."

"The one who kissed you?!" gasped the manager, his words perplexing Jongin.

"The same," he hissed, trying to maintain his grip on the kid. The struggle evolved into a cat and mouse fight when Baekhyun attempted to bite the other's hand. Minseok watched agape as the two scratched at each other, swaying around for Chanyeol refused to let go. They could've, in that moment, been two middle school children.

It Minseok who had to pull them apart, in the end. "That's enough, Chanyeol."

Baekhyun's cheeks bloomed a deep red. He couldn't believe this had to happen in front in front of his manager. He also couldn't believe that his manager was friends with the long haired man.

With his eyes drawn into narrow slits, Chanyeol focused on him. "You're fired, pipsqueak."

Back to standing behind Jongin, the brunette was rendered shocked. This person had no right to do so! Being acquainted with the manager did not give him such abilities. It was Minseok who spoke before him. "No, Chanyeol. He's not going anywhere."

He didn't even have the time to rejoice over his boss's words for the long-haired man snapped, "My restaurant, my rules."

In the ensuing silence, Minseok raised his eyebrows and Baekhyun dropped his mouth open. My restaurant? Looking at how unaffected the rest of them were, this couldn't be a joke, right?

"Since it's your restaurant, you should run it, I guess," challenged Minseok with his arms folded.

Realising that this was far from a prank, Baekhyun wanted to run away—run away and throw himself in a ditch, or something. This couldn't be happening. It no world would he have imagined that the Lee Taemin lookalike would be his boss's boss.

"I— Okay, sorry for putting it like that. But really, this kid can't stay," sighed Chanyeol.

"He can and he will," snapped Minseok. "We hired him and he signed the contract. You can't bring whatever happened between the two of you here." Baekhyun could have cried hearing the manager defend him.

"We cant have erratic boys such as him work for us, Kim," protested the long haired man.

"He's been very well behaved for the past two days. You'd know if you had shown up. He stays," Minseok shook his head. His word was final and Baekhyun gave him a grateful smile. He then proceeded to sneer at the owner. In return, he received a glare.

"I'll keep an eye on you, pipsqueak," threatened the man. "I'll definitely get you fired." With that, he stalked off towards the kitchen.

As the college student stared after him, the manager threw an arm around his shoulders. "Don't mind him. He won't do anything."

Baekhyun politely bowed his head. "Thank you."

"Nah, you're good," Minseok patted his back. "Tell me something, though. Did you really kiss Chanyeol?"

Baekhyun thought about the velvety pair of lips moving against his. He hastily shook his head. "I b-barely pecked him, he's the one who kissed," he pouted. "He wanted to gain the upper hand."

"Wow," said Minseok, looking all kinds of surprised.

***

It was the beginning of Baekhyun's maddening days at work. To the staff's surprise, Chanyeol started to visit the restaurant daily whereas before, they'd only see him thrice a week. Whenever he wasn't greeting the customers, the taller would plant himself by the manager's desk and keep his eyes fixed onto Baekhyun. Drawn into slits, they followed Baekhyun as the latter followed Yixing.

Somehow, the owner of the restaurant was able to spot faults in everything and anything the college student did, pointing them out in a mocking tone.

"Your shoes aren't polished, pipsqueak."

"You handed them the menu upside down, pipsqueak."

"Your spine isn't straight, pipsqueak."

"It's not par-fiy, it's par-fei, pipsqueak."

Pipsqueak. Pipsqueak. Pipsqueak. Baekhyun was so done! It was Monday, his last day training under Yixing, and he was reciting the menu to Minseok that he had spent the weekend learning. Somehow, Chanyeol decided that it was extremely important for him to join in.

"Par-feeeei," said the server, with a sickly sweet smile. "Is that alright, Mr. Park?"

"Parfait!" grinned the other. "Can't wait for you to fail today!"

Baekhyun had to roll his eyes. Today, he was to serve his first table alone. It was easy enough, especially because he was to do so before the rush hours began, but he couldn't help but be slightly nervous given that everyone would be observing him. There was no scope for mistakes, more so because Yixing had been a wonderful mentor to him and had taught him all the etiquette and manners so patiently.

Yet, Baekhyun responded with a "watch me." It was a bad idea for he knew that Chanyeol would definitely make sure to do so. The older had been searching for a mistake big enough to throw him out and the black haired boy did not want to give him the opportunity to do so a day before he officially joined the waiting staff.

When the time came, he was assigned to a family of four and as he walked towards them, he wished he could have his lollipop in his mouth for comfort. The sun hadn't begun to set and the sky, visible from the window besides the table Baekhyun was to serve, was a darker and prettier shade of blue. The rather dim lighting of the place made it look further surreal. He put on his best smile and started to introduce himself.

Minseok, standing near the kitchen entrance, watched him hand the menu to the diners and help them select for starters. With the last of the day reflecting off his round, smiling cheeks, the boy looked pretty. He then shifted his gaze to Chanyeol who had his hawk like eyes fixed onto the server.

Done with taking the order, Baekhyun walked briskly towards the kitchen to deliver it to the chefs. Once done with the first part of his job, his flustered self was embraced and praised by Yixing. Chanyeol, observed Minseok, never let his eyes stray off. When alone in a corner, the college student popped a lollipop into his mouth. Usually, Minseok would chide the staff for eating during work but this time he let it go, understanding that the boy simply wanted to calm his nerves. What occupied his attention more was Chanyeol's trance like stare as Baekhyun sucked the lollipop.

It's intensity pushed him towards the taller and made him ask something he'd been wondering since the previous week. "Yeol, Baekhyun said that you kissed him back."

It was as if Chanyeol was shaken out of a stupor. "Uh, what?"

"You kissed Baekhyun back."

Chanyeol visibly sputtered, "How do you know?"

"He told me."

The owner blinked a few times then proceeded to shrug and turn the other way, suddenly very interested in a file by the manager's desk. "Oh, well. It just happened."

Minseok raised his eyebrows. "It doesn't just happen. If a stranger kissed me, I'd push them off. Anyone would."

"I saw that he was desperate and wanted to humour him," mumbled Chanyeol, flipping a page.

"Chanyeol," came the warning from the manager. Having known the other for years, he knew when Chanyeol was telling the truth and when he wasn't.

"Okay," the taller shut the file and looked up. "I'll tell you but you're not allowed to laugh."

"I won't," sighed Minseok. "I don't see how any of the reasons you give could be funny." Chanyeol slumped against the desk, arms crossed and looking at his shoes. With his face reflecting hints of scepticism, Minseok realised that his friend himself didn't fully understand what happened.

"It was that candy of his," confessed the long haired man. "He probably had that before it happened. And I don't know how my brain was working but I just— I just wanted to taste it? I felt the littlest of sweetness against my lips and then I just wanted more of it, see what flavour it is and stuff. I didn't even think."

Minseok's face reflected his horrification when Chanyeol met his gaze. "Yeol, that's not funny. That's just plain weird. You kissed him back because he tasted like candy?"

"Yeah," he croaked. "So what? It was a nice flavour and, anyway, the kid's weirder for initiating it."

Minseok could not disagree with that. Baekhyun was a weird one but he also had to acknowledge that he was adorable. There was no way Chanyeol didn't see that, too. In fact, thought the manager, there was no way anybody couldn't see that. In less than a week, the literature student had become chummy with most of the staff. There was something about him that made them want to pat his head, pull his cheeks and take care of him.

The two watched as the college student, having devoured the pink candy, washed his hands and put on his gloves. Time flew easily as he served the family going from starters to the desserts. Throughout cordial and graceful, Minseok could see him becoming a great waiter.

When he finally cleared up the table and replaced the napkins and cutlery, the other staff, including Minseok gathered around to praise him. The college student was pleasantly surprised by how well everything went, given how nervous he had been. He believed that a lot of it rested on the niceness of the family he had served.

"You've learnt well and I'm sure you'll do a great job starting tomorrow," complimented the manager and patted his back. Baekhyun, still a little flustered after his first job as a waiter, smiled shyly, "Thanks."

Jongin, Jisoo, Haebom and Kyungsoo laughed at his sweet response. A second later, Chanyeol strutted over, flicking his head to remove the hair that had fallen in his eyes. "I'm still not convinced, though."

Baekhyun knew Chanyeol would say so yet he frowned. "No one cares."

"Well they should because it's my restaurant," challenged Chanyeol, already seemingly starting to rile up. The shorter had to inwardly smirk. Pulling the owner's strings gave him a pleasure of an entirely different kind than doing so with Chen. Plus, he hadn't yet extracted revenge on the other for kissing him back.

"Doesn't seem like it with that wild hair," snorted Baekhyun, choosing not to mention the fact that that wild hair made the man look all the more handsome.

"I won't hear this from a kid who wears his socks high," scowled Chanyeol, already moving forward.

"What's wrong with those, huh?" Baekhyun could tolerate anything, anything, but comments about his style.

"Are you seriously asking that question?" Chanyeol had his eyebrows raised as the two met in middle. Anxious, everyone else watched them, wanting to intercede but scared of getting hurt in the process.

"Are you seriously gonna continue being an asshole?" replied Baekhyun, pushing closer so that their chests touched now. He was an entire head shorter but that didn't stop him from raising his chin.

"I'm certainly gonna continue being your boss so it would be better if you started respecting me," retorted the taller, voice dipping.

"What if I won't?" Part of his courage came from the knowledge that Minseok would protect him, part from the fact that bickering with Chanyeol was starting to become a thing now and that he just had to do it.

"I'm your boss," reiterated Chanyeol.

"What if I won't, boss?" As soon as these words left Baekhyun's mouth, the taller moved. The waiter was quick, though, and the moment Chanyeol's fingers got a hold of Baekhyun's black locks, the latter's hand also curled around the ponytail the former's hair was pulled into.

They went at it like cats for two minutes before Minseok dragged them apart. Baekhyun had Chanyeol hair tie in his hand and Chanyeol a bunch of Baekhyun's hair. The college student was trying to keep his tears in because, wow, that had hurt. Getting your hair wrenched out hurt. While he was sure it wasn't bleeding, his scalp burned.

"At least take care of when and where you do this! The customers can see," hissed the manager, rubbing the bridge of his nose. The waiter, in pain and guilt, just looked down at his shoes before Minseok sent him to the staff room and Chanyeol elsewhere for a while.

Baekhyun sat himself on the bench and pulled his legs up to his chest as he sniffed. He didn't want to cry like the kid Chanyeol had accused him of being, but the pain was just that much. It was unfair. He had done well out there and worked hard, trying to prove himself to everyone. For the taller to not acknowledge that was unfair. For him to destroy the impression he'd built upon Minseok was even more unfair.

Chanyeol may look every bit like Lee Taemin from 'The Sundown', in his built and his hair, but in his personality, he was so faraway from the hero of the film. Lee Taemin was such a gentleman throughout the movie, always conscious about how others around him felt. Even when he found out that his mother had threatened Choi Sooyoung, the love of his life, the hero had maintained his calm and solved the problem smartly. Chanyeol, on the other hand, only needed to hear a few words to get him squabbling.

Having expected to be left alone, the waiter quickly hid his tear stained face between his legs when the door to the room opened. He had to look up, however, when a shadow fell over him and refused to budge. His wet eyes met the somehow guilty looking ones of Chanyeol's. Before he even had the time to furrow his brows, the latter spilled in a tone sincere, "I'm sorry."

He sat down next to Baekhyun and asked, "Does it hurt?" just as his hand came to rest on the student's head. The waiter hissed when it met and that seemed to be enough of an answer. The taller began rubbing and massaging the area the hair had been pulled from. Despite his bewilderment, Baekhyun couldn't deny that it was helping soothe the pain, so, he closed his eyes and leaned into the touch.

Chanyeol went on with the massage for some fifteen minutes. Occasionally, he just ran his hand through Baekhyun locks and every time he did so, the waiter heartbeat picked up for reasons unknown. When he withdrew his hand, the student had to press his lips together to hold his sigh of disappointment.

"I hope that makes it better," muttered Chanyeol, leaning back against the wall.

It did make it better. However, instead of saying so, Baekhyun stretched his arms to grab Chanyeol's strands. Baekhyun felt the other man still as he gathered his hair and tied it with the hair tie that had slipped into his palms during the fight. As he did so, he thought about how they were softer and silkier that anything he had ever touched. Once done, Baekhyun smiled, "We're even." This smile turned into a smirk when he added, "For today."

Chanyeol stared at him for a few seconds before he broke out into a grin. They stayed like that for a while, beaming like idiots. When Baekhyun had to leave, called by Yixing, he exited the room thinking about how Chanyeol wasn't very unlike Lee Taemin: he too had a beautiful smile.

***

There couldn't be a day at work that passed without Baekhyun and Chanyeol fighting. Something peculiar that the staff noticed and Baekhyun himself felt was that no matter how hard each of the two tried, they could not stay away. He had to go and spar with the taller at least once in a working day for it to not feel incomplete by the end of it. They weren't violent anymore (except for the time they threw spaghetti at each other in the kitchen), but verbal banter continued. It was a little odd, but he actually enjoyed it and looked forward to it throughout his classes in the morning.

Now that his training period was over, work had become busier. During the rush hours, he'd be handling about three to four tables together. In times like now, though, early on a Wednesday, the restaurant was so empty that he needn't serve any table.

Baekhyun was seated on the slab, next to a bowl of boiled pasta, licking one of his strawberry lollipops. Kyungsoo, the sous chef, worked a saucepan next to him. It had been a nice day at college and he was going to meet Jongdae for a late-late dinner after work. Needless to say, he was excited for his friend always selected the best food places out there.

When Chanyeol entered the kitchen, Baekhyun perked up. He knew what was coming since they hadn't argued yet and he felt excitement thump in his veins. As the taller approached him, he heard the collective groans of the employees around him. More than anyone else, it was them who were the victims of the fights the two engaged in. It was Kyungsoo who spoke, "Do I have to listen to you two trying to cope with your attraction right here?"

Puzzled by his words, Baekhyun blinked, "What?"

The chef simply rolled his eyes and moved to a stove further away. Oblivious, Baekhyun continued to run his tongue over his candy until Chanyeol stopped before him. "You're not allowed to eat during work," he stated with a hand on his hip.

"Technically I'm not working right now," answered Baekhyun, shoving the entire lollipop in his mouth and leaning back onto his hands.

"But you're still at work," retorted the owner, catching hold of the stick and snatching the candy away. Baekhyun might've let his boss get away with the act if the latter hadn't proceeded to put the lollipop in his own mouth when he began making his way out. The idea that the object Chanyeol now sucked on was coated entirely in his saliva almost made him blush but the student pushed aside all such thoughts aside and bound forward. He took the owner with surprise and, with his advantage, again got a hold of his candy.

His mind clouded with the idea of winning, he didn't think much before taking the stick between his lips again. Somewhere, he did realise that it was much bigger than an indirect kiss, but he was more focused on running away from the long haired man. He jostled through the staff working in the kitchen and entered the storage room. His plan was to lock the door in Chanyeol's face but to his dismay, the other man stuck his foot inside before Baekhyun could do so.

Even though there was barely any space to run, Baekhyun dashed towards the opposite wall, biting down on the candy to break it into smaller pieces. While swallowing it straight away would have given him victory, he also did not want to choke and die in the process. Upon reaching the other side, he turned around, willing the lollipop to dissolve quicker. Sadly, Chantel had him pinned to the wall before he could even come close to doing so.

"Give it," the taller puffed, tilting his head with a strand of hair falling over his eye. They were so close that his breath was fanning over student's face. Rebellious, Baekhyun shook his head.

"I'll just have to take it, then," declared the taller with a sneer and leaned in to press their mouths together. Chanyeol brought his hands to rest on Baekhyun's waist. His grip was strong but also loose enough for the waiter to push him off if he wished to.

The gasp that the suddenness of the situation had drawn from the server allowed the man to stick his tongue inside the other's warm craven, lick at his palate before going for the chunks of the strawberry lollipop that rested on Baekhyun's tongue. To the student's annoyance, Chanyeol used his experience to his advantage and took precedence. Not even sure about what to do, for this was his first kiss if one didn't count the one at cafe, the student hesitated in his response.

Sensing his apprehension and lack of experience, the owner began to tread slower. His lips closed around Baekhyun's tongue which was layered with pieces of the candy, and he began to suck. It was an unfamiliar sensation but one that he didn't dislike. The waiter's hands, as if functioning with a brain of their own, wound themselves into the taller's hair. Internally, he felt overjoyed by the fact that he was getting to feel around his fingers the soft tendrils again.

It was after a minute or two that Baekhyun also began to respond with conviction. Both were conscious of the fact that the candy was long finished yet they continued. The smaller was beginning to understand why people liked kissing. Just as he decided that he definitely enjoyed it, Minseok's call for him made him thrust the other away in panic. It was without meeting Chanyeol's eyes that he rushed out of the storage.

However, upon appearing into the kitchen, he began to panic for another reason. Could people tell that they had been kissing? He was sure he was red from top to bottom. His dread, though, lessened when he realized that no one was paying him any attention to him.

His head was muddled with questions as he started towards the dining hall. He didn't understand why what happened happened but he couldn't also deny that he liked it. He would've been less perplexed had Chanyeol stopped the moment he got the candy. Did he like it too, then? Was this going to be frequent thing? Which one of them won this time?

Distracted by these thoughts, he didn't even realise when he reached the manager's desk. With one look at his face, Minseok furrowed his brows. "Are you alright?"

Baekhyun could only nod before he was assigned to a few tables and made to resume work. With his mind filled to the brim, the day went by. He caught glimpses of Chanyeol as he shuffled about but Baekhyun made sure to avoid all eye contact. When the restaurant was done for the day, waiting for the last of tables to empty, he was approached by the manager.

"There's someone waiting for you at the back door. He said his name is Jongdae," said Minseok, his cheeks slightly tinted.

"Oh, yeah! That's my best friend," explained Baekhyun, who between the events of the day had totally forgotten he was going to grab dinner with his friend.

"Ah," nodded Minseok, before adding, "He's cute."

If Baekhyun could blush for his friend, he would, "He is."

Minseok allowed him to leave early and the student barely took any time in changing into his green and yellow track suit. Upon spotting his friend leaning by a lamppost, he jumped to grab the other's arm. Jongdae started talking as they began to walk. "Your manager is weird."

Remembering Minseok's earlier words, Baekhyun snickered. "Why?"

"He was extremely fidgety when I talked to him," shrugged his friend. "Anyway, What did Lee Taemin do today?"

At that, Baekhyun had to do all that he could to not go crimson all over again. He had texted Jongdae the very night he had discovered that Chanyeol was the owner of Viva Polo. His friend had had the time of his life, laughing and teasing the waiter. Despite that, the boy continued to inform his friend of all the developments and details of their reoccurring arguments. About what happened today, though, Baekhyun wasn't sure if he wanted to divulge that to Jongdae. Firstly, he wasn't sure how the latter would react and secondly, he didn't want it to seem like it was a huge deal.

"He stole my lollipop and threw it in the trash can," he lied, hoping his friend would buy it.

"And you let him?" asked Jongdae in incredulity.

"Psh, of course not," bubbled Baekhyun. "We argued for a little before I was called."

"Hm, okay," nodded the other boy and, to the server's relief, changed the topic, "Did you hear about what happened in the engineering department?"

They chatted and gossiped throughout the bus ride and eventually found a corner for themselves in the small restaurant Jongdae had selected near their university.

"Then, Irene was gonna go confess to Yesung," jabbered the friend, grabbing a piece of onion with his chopsticks. "And you know how she's had a huge crush on him for the longest time."

Baekhyun nodded, his eyes searching through their food for a larger piece of meat.

"But then Tiffany told Taeyeon who told Yeri that Seulgi was going to ask Yesung to be her date for the autumn dance!" exclaimed Jongdae, his voice dripping in scandal. At the mention of the autumn dance, Baekhyun's ears stood up and the boy couldn't keep his eyes from twinkling.

"And then Irene and Seulgi had a huge fight in the cafeteria and everyone was shocked because no one ever thought they could fight," his friend babbled away whilst stuffing his mouth with rice.

"But then! Guess what happened!" Jongdae continued without giving Baekhyun even a second to guess, "Seulgi asked Irene to be her date! In front of everybody! And then, Irene told her—"

The boy suddenly paused when he finally looked at his friend. "What's that look in your eyes?" asked Jongdae, his tone laced with suspicion. Baekhyun only smiled sheepishly.

With narrowed eyes, Jongdae predicted, "It's the autumn dance, isn't it?"

When he received no answer, the boy facepalmed. "Don't make that stupid face. We get it, you're excited."

Baekhyun had begun to shake on his seat, for that's how enthusiastic he was for the event. Ever since he was a kid, he'd watched multiple movies and shows where the protagonists would attend proms, balls or dances. His favourite out of these was, of course, the ball that takes place in one of the scenes of 'The Sundown'. Lee Taemin and Choi Sooyoung had danced so beautifully! They had fit perfectly in each other's arms and Baekhyun couldn't help but imagine himself experiencing the same.

"It's a stupid thing and you don't even have a partner," mocked Jongdae, opening a water bottle.

"It's not stupid! And I will find a partner!" grunted Baekhyun.

"And I will rank the highest this semester," Jongdae said sarcastically.

They continued to go back and forth as they ate their food. They were sitting right besides the fan and it was a relatively pleasant night. When Jongdae left for his home and Baekhyun for his accommodation, the latter's thoughts wandered off to the kiss again. Once tucked in his bed, however, he had so little energy, even for thinking, that he fell asleep immediately.

***

/

The next day at work brought with it an absence of Chanyeol and it took Baekhyun two seconds to pin it to what happened the previous day. He felt a sort of dread settle into his stomach. Did this mean that they wouldn't be able to return to normalcy? Spend time bickering around? Plagued by these thoughts, he remained so distracted for the first two hours that he forgot a part of an order and had to go to the guest again.


Deciding that he'd had enough stressing about the same, the student approached Minseok with his hands clasped behind his back. "Where is Mr.Park?"

Looking up from his desktop, the manager met his gaze. "Chanyeol?"

Baekhyun nodded in confirmation.

"He'll be late today because he had some extra stuff to attend to at the office," stated Minseok with a soft smile.

"Office?" The short boy was perplexed.

"He works at his brother's company and comes here after finishing up," told the older. "Technically Viva Polo is owned by his family but it's supposed to be his responsibility to look after it."

The student's mouth formed an 'o' shape upon realisation and the older chuckled at his astonishment. "You thought he didn't do anything?"

Sheepish, Baekhyun nodded.

Minseok put a hand on his shoulder. "Don't fret, he'll be here's soon."

The manager's words only served to embarrass him. He began to wave his hands in denial. "Oh, no! I wasn't fretting! I was just curious."

"Curious about what?" A voice from behind asked and, startled, the two jumped.

"Nothing," the manager grinned at Chanyeol. "Baekhyunnie here was just missing you."

"I was not!" the red-faced student blurted.

"Pipsqueak, if you were missing looking at my handsome self, you can admit it. I won't judge," assured the long haired man.

From there they launched into their own usual banter. Baekhyun was simultaneously relieved and disappointed that they had both chosen to ignore yesterday's incident. It was, perhaps, for the better since they didn't have to break out of their routine. Somewhat satisfied, the student was easily able to resume his job.

The guests he was serving were mostly nice and he sailed through his shift. By the time clock struck 11, there were barely any diners left. Baekhyun was helping the chefs clean up the kitchen when one of them said, "This is going to make getting home difficult."

He followed the chef's gaze to find violent raindrops pattering against the window by a further corner. It looked like he was going to have to dash towards the shelter of the bus stand when time to go home comes. Heaving a sigh, he got back to wiping the slab and shelving the cutlery.

When they were excused by Minseok, Baekhyun shifted to his usual attire and put his uniform into the locker. Opening the back gate, he was shook by the thundering sound of the rain which, given the thick walls of the restaurant, hadn't been able to penetrate inside. He readied himself by taking of the cut sleeved orange jacket he was wearing and holding it spread over his head. It should've been enough protection from water. If he was fast, he decided, he'd be able to save himself getting drenched. Just as he was about to sprint, though, a force around his neck pulled him backwards.

"I knew you were an idiot, pipsqueak, but really?" grumbled Chanyeol as he opened a black coloured umbrella. "You'll catch a cold if you run into the rain like that and I'm not losing precious money if you take a sick leave."

Though not fooled by the lame reasoning, Baekhyun let himself be pulled under the umbrella, snuggled up to the taller's side. Holding his jacket to his chest, he felt goosebumps climb over his arms. He couldn't decipher Chanyeol's intentions but he let it go when they started to walk. The sound of the rain seemed to isolate them from the rest of world and the smaller, in a way, basked in the feeling.

Occasionally, he stole glances of the taller. Chanyeol, he thought, could go from an asshole to a sweet person in the blink of an eye. He always liked to mess with the student's head. Irked by the same, Baekhyun broke the silence, "You're annoying."

The other man continued to look ahead and lifted the umbrella a little higher. "Okay." The smaller, unknowingly, shuffled a little closer as they neared the bus stand. Chanyeol lowered the umbrella once they were under the roof. Surprisingly, the area was entirely empty. Usually, it was common for passerby to seek shelter under the stands from either the rain or the sun.

When Chanyeol made himself comfortable on one of the seats, Baekhyun was astonished. He'd never have imagined that the taller commuted using the bus. He was rich and, according to his appearance, probably in his mid-twenties. It would've been more seeming for him to drive instead. However, thinking it rude to comment on the same, Baekhyun placed himself besides the other.

"Do you find the workplace comfortable?" asked the long haired man suddenly, his tone straightforward. He had crossed his legs.

It was when the question sunk in that Baekhyun answered, "Yeah, I like it." Unlike Chanyeol, his toes didn't touch the pavement.

"Have you tried the food?" The boss wasn't looking him as he spoke, but rather at the droplets falling onto the glass roof of stand and sliding down.

"Nope," he replied, eyes on his feet which he had begun to swing.

"You haven't?" Chanyeol looked confounded, turning to face him.

"Not really," he stated. "Once Minseok hyung gave me some cannoli to take home, though. They had strawberries. I liked them."

The older nodded. "Will you go home and eat now?"

"Yup. Probably rice," he smiled. "Will you too?"

Chanyeol shook his head. "I ate at Viva Polo."

The smaller hummed, before saying, "I have homework I didn't finish."

"It's late. You should sleep," suggested the taller. "Who even does homework in college?"

"I do!" claimed the student even though it would've been more appropriate to say something like 'I try to.'

"You've worked hard enough today. If you want to stay up, you should play a game or two," opined the other.

From there, the conversation turned towards games and Baekhyun was amazed to learn that the older had similar gaming preferences to his. They talked about their favourites, their characters and ranks. Being wealthy and all, Chanyeol apparently had the newer consoles as well as the latest editions of the best games. The smaller could only drool for these were one of the things he had hoped to be able to spend money on (among others, like gifts for his sister) upon receiving his salary.

They eventually entered a heated debated about which of two games is better and entirely lost track of time. It was when the bus came to a stop in front of the stand that Baekhyun, upon looking at his phone, became aware that it was past midnight.

"The bus is so late," muttered the student. "Let's go." He moved to climb in first with Chanyeol standing right behind him. Halfway down the aisle, he turned to look back at him, just to make sure that the man didn't grab another seat, only to find the space empty. Puzzled, he ducked to peer out of a window. Chanyeol still stood under the stand, umbrella raised once again, waving at him.

Before Baekhyun could respond in any way, the bus began moving. Once he saw the other's figure turn around and disappear into the rain, he straightened and settled himself. If Chanyeol doesn't take the bus, was he only trying to keep him company? To see him off, perhaps? For unknown reasons, the thought made Baekhyun want to squeal but he bit it down and placed his head against the window, watching the night lights of the city reflect on the droplets.

Perhaps it was due to the drowsiness resulting from the weather, but when he woke up the next morning, he was extremely late for the first lecture. He had to skip breakfast and race towards the university. His schedule had boasted a busy day and between classes and lunch, it was already five before he knew it. Chen was going to accompany him in travelling towards work for she had some things to do in the same area but it got cancelled last minute.

It was alone in the bus with his eyes flitting over the greying clouds that it dawned upon Baekhyun that he had forgotten to bring his umbrella in the early morning hurry. He groaned. If his boss had helped him yesterday by going out if his way, it was unlikely he'd do so again. He'd have to make a run for it this time.

This assumption, however, turned out to be wrong for just as he had changed into his clothes after his shift, Chanyeol peeked inside the staff room with a "wait for me." Trying to push away his hopes, he waited by the back door. The day had passed by as usual. He had served well and squabbled with Chanyeol about what was better between e-books and paperbacks. The highlight of his day had definitely been Chef Kyungsoo calling him over and giving him a bowl of strawberries to munch on during the break. They were sweeter than any he'd ever had.

After waiting for about a few minutes, he started playing with his phone. Chen had sent him a bunch of memes and snaps. Looking through snapchat at his workplace brought in the memories of the night Chanyeol had sent him a message. Baekhyun, sneakily as if he might get caught, unblocked user parkchanyeol61 and put his phone down. They weren't exactly strangers anymore, he told himself. He could do this much.

He hadn't opened the door yet, but a peep through the windows before had confirmed for him that it was raining again. Just when he decided to go inside and look for his boss, Chanyeol appeared with an umbrella in his hand.

"Come on," He beckoned, opening up the umbrella and then door. Baekhyun felt in that moment a surge of feelings all at once —happiness, excitement, calmness. So the taller was planning on walking him to the bus stop again. How did he even know that Baekhyun wasn't carrying an umbrella?

Baekhyun hopped under and they started towards their destination. They fell into an easy conversation, something the smaller had realized was happening a lot recently. Talking to the other man felt effortless, as if, despite all their arguments, he wouldn't judge the student for anything that he voiced. Still, even in these conversations, Baekhyun was careful to not intrude into the other's personal life. He kept all such curiosity pinned down.

To the student's great dismay, the LED sign at the bus stand announced all the buses cancelled. He had to frown for there was no other way for him to reach home. He could call a taxi, of course, but that would be extremely expensive and his last resort.

"What will you do now?" asked the taller. In that very moment, a thunder was heard and the rain became heavier.

Baekhyun shivered in response. "Maybe take a taxi?" Some of the water had entered his shoes and his toes felt numb within the cold, wet socks.

Out of the blue, Chanyeol's free arm wrapped around his shoulder and brought him closer. The smaller's blood thumped in his veins. "Tsk, you're getting wet."

Baekhyun stared at him for two seconds before giggling, "That's what he said."

"Idiot," the long haired man sighed, flicking the smaller's forehead. Baekhyun pouted and rubbed the area.

"Anyway," Chanyeol coughed, looking away. "Stay over for the night. I live nearby."

The smaller was taken aback by the offer and the taller quickly continued, in an attempt at nonchalance, after seeing Baekhyun's stunned expression, "I think we can be considered friends, or something like that. So it's fine."

The student wanted to protest, but given the stubbornly determined face the other was sporting now, he knew it would be in vain. It would also be the smart option considering he'd be able to get the bus tomorrow but not wanting to inconvenience the other, he hesitated in his reply, "If only I'm not intruding."

Chanyeol snorted, "You're not. Come." As the taller began leading the way, Baekhyun was still in a state of disbelief. The older had called him a friend and he was going to Lee Taemin's lookalike's home! To Chanyeol's home! Technically, his boss's place! The boss he had kissed!!! And, inwardly, secretly, wanted to kiss again!!! Because his lips were soft!!! And his hands on his waist big!!!

"Are you fine, pipsqueak?" the older was looking at him with concern knitting his brows.

Despite the cool weather, Baekhyun was turning hot. "Yes," he squeaked.

Chanyeol's place wasn't as close as he had implied and they walked for at least twenty minutes under the shower which gave no indication of letting up.

The neighbourhood they finally arrived at was a familiar one. "Chen's grandparents live here!" blurted the younger. He had visited the place multiple times with his best friend.

"It's a nice area," Chanyeol grinned in a somewhat fond manner and Baekhyun's heart might have skipped a beat. The taller then pointed a little further away. "That's it."

The house mentioned, all black tile and glass, looked extremely lavish and intimidating to the waiter's eyes. It was a mere two storied building, but with its sharp edges that glistened under the wetness of the rain, it was something to behold.

Baekhyun absorbed all the luxury as they walked into the living room which lit golden upon entering. Imitating Chanyeol, he took off his shoes and stuffed his dirty socks inside. Trailing behind the other man, Baekhyun was careful not to touch anything for the fear of breaking it, so much so that he didn't even sit at the dining table when the older gestured him to.

He gripped the hem of his jersey as Chanyeol poured for him some water in the kitchen. "Thank you," he whispered upon grabbed the glass.

"What do you want to have for dinner?" the taller leaned against the black marble slab.

Bring the cup of water down, the smaller licked his lips. "I'm fine with anything."

The older thought for a minute, humming occasionally. "Pasta? Would you like pasta?" He stared at him enquiringly.

"Yes! That'll be really nice!" replied Baekhyun, his voice dripping in awkwardness. He wasn't used to being so formal with Chanyeol. He would've agreed no matter what the other suggested.

"You should take a shower while I cook, then," nodded the man, standing straight before making his way out of the kitchen, expecting the smaller to follow him which he does. "The bathroom is upstairs. I'll get you some clothes for the night."

On the first floor, Chanyeol guided him towards what Baekhyun assumed to be his own room. Despite being painted entirely in varying shades of grey, from the bed to the carpet, it looked cosy. Everything was neatly set up in its place and the air smelled fresh. The only things, however, that the smaller could see indicating that it was the taller's room were what looked like a family photograph on one of the walls and the console and disks placed under the shelf beneath the T.V. He took in a sharp breath when he read the titles on the disks. Even from faraway, they looked to him very pretty. He really couldn't wait to get his salary.

When he turned towards the taller, he found him rummaging through the fitted closet. "Aha," came his voice as he brought his head, which had been buried inside, up. "This should fit you."

He shut the closet before holding out for Baekhyun a simple grey T-shirt and a pair of red shorts. Given his imploring eyes, the smaller softly reassured, "They look fine. Thank you."

Once handed the clothes, the taller directed him towards the bathroom and left to make dinner. It was the fanciest bathroom Baekhyun had ever seen, which wasn't surprising given that he hadn't exactly visited many expensive houses. It took him around ten minutes to figure out how the faucets worked in order to get a hot shower running. He spent another ten minutes smelling the different shower gels kept next to it. In the end, he chose the one he'd smelled most often on Chanyeol. It had a peppery tone to it. Done showering, it didn't take him long to moisturise and dress himself. The taller's clothes were only slightly loose on him, probably due to his broad shoulders.

He made sure to leave the washroom clean like a good guest when he exited and tiptoed down the staircase on his bare feet. He could feel the deliciousness of what the taller was cooking waft in the air and he gulped emptily. When he emerged into the kitchen, he found that the taller had taken off his coat and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt. With the back of the shirt sticking onto his skin with sweat, Baekhyun could see the muscles defining his back. It served to both fluster and awe him. He wanted a body like that, too.

Chanyeol took notice of him when the smaller walked over to gaze into the pan, whiff the contents and sigh in delight.

The taller chuckled, "You're done, huh?"

"Yes," Baekhyun grinned, his mouth forming a square shape. The shower had been extremely relaxing.

"I'll go clean up," announced Chanyeol, wiping his palms on his pants. "You can watch T.V in the living room till then, maybe."

The younger chose to spend his time sitting on sofa, scrolling through his feed and texting some friends from university. While he really wanted to put his feet up the armrest and lie down, he feared it might be rude. He wasn't as familiar with Chanyeol yet. Chen always said he thought too much.

Soon, the older emerged back onto the staircase, wearing a similar T-shirt and shorts combination. His strands were damp. Baekhyun found it slightly weird, considering he was so used to seeing the other in formals. He did, though, have to admit that that Chanyeol looked much more boyish this way, so much so that he could've been one of the smaller's classmates.

"Did I take long?" asked the taller as he plopped himself on the couch across Baekhyun's, fishing out his phone from his pocket.

"Not really," he said, watching Chanyeol swipe around the screen.

"Do you want to eat right now?"

Baekhyun cutely nodded and they both proceeded to the kitchen where the older heated up the food once again. Chanyeol placed the pan in the centre and they sat across each other.

Putting some pasta onto his plate, the older exchanged it with Baekhyun's empty one, making Baekhyun mutter a "thank you." There was no way there wasn't red in his cheeks. Chanyeol was being too sweet and too considerate. Amidst these thoughts, another one sprung up. What if it was like one those movies? What if Chanyeol was going to... murder him?

It was a scenario straight out of those murder documentaries he used to watch. Strange man takes another person home on the pretext of helping them, however, being a maniac, stabs them thirteen times. No one would ever know where he went if he disappeared today.

"Is it not nice?" questioned Chanyeol, breaking him out of his reverie.

It was then that Baekhyun realized that he hadn't touched the pasta after his first bite. Not because it had any problems (in fact, it was delicious) but because he had become too involved with his thoughts. "No, no, it's perfect. I love it," spoke Baekhyun with an urgency. To prove so, he took a big bite.

"You don't have to lie," said the taller with a tight-lipped smile, turning his face downwards towards his dish.

"No, I really do love it," responded the smaller with his mouth full, his eyes drawing in panic. What had he done? Chanyeol the narcissist looked entirely like a dejected puppy. "I swear. I just got a little distracted with my thoughts. It's a normal thing. I'm not lying—"

"Okay, I believe you," laughed Chanyeol, more amused now that upset. "I'm sorry."

After that, their conversation shifted to a more normal one. The taller asked him about his homework and about his university. The smaller, finally letting go of his hesitation of intruding into the other's private life, asked him about his office and work. Chanyeol, at his office, did some business and financing thing that Baekhyun didn't entirely understand. What he did get was the fact that the taller occupied a high position and worked directly under his elder brother. His parents had retired and were living abroad, leaving the business and its management entirely to their sons.

He really liked the restaurant for it was the only area he had complete autonomy over and could make changes to as he liked. "Even though Minseok reports to hyung, I know he does," spoke the taller between bites. "I can usually do whatever I want."

No matter how annoying and stubborn the taller was at times (which is, most times), no one could deny what he had done to Viva Polo was worthy of appreciation. The entire atmosphere was very friendly for the staff and for the customers alike. While Baekhyun had only ever tried the desserts, he knew from customer feedbacks and reviews that the food served was exceptional.

Once they were done, Baekhyun offered to do the dishes.

"You don't have to," responded Chanyeol, running a hand through his hand. "The housemaid will do them tomorrow."

Baekhyun should've known. Of course, rich people don't do their dishes themselves.

"No, I'm not a snob," added the taller, as if he had read the other's mind. "I used to do them myself before parents insisted so."

The smaller's mouth formed a tiny, sheepish 'o' and Chanyeol just shook his head.

"So, do you want to go sleep or," paused his boss to let a smirk creep on. "Play some games together?"

The older obviously knew the response that was to come but perhaps he didn't expect it in the form of Baekhyun's eyes shining, sparkling, glittering entirely. Up in his room, Chanyeol let the smaller pick the video game he wanted to play. As his fingers flitted over the cases, Baekhyun decided that this was the most exciting evening of his entire life. He was getting to eat great food and try out new games. Maybe, even the autumn dance wouldn't be able to beat it. A murderer? Chanyeol was an angel.

When the student had picked the disk and put it in, he glanced towards the taller who had placed himself against the headboard on the bed. Tapping the space next to him, he gestured, "Come on."

With a spring in his step, the younger joined him on his bed. With both of their shoulders against the cushioned back on the bed, they sat only a few inches apart with their own controllers. When the day had began, he could've hardly imagined that it'd end this way. It had been so long since he'd felt this happy and he knew that the greater part of it was not because of the game, but because he was with Chanyeol.

Just in that moment, as the two were waiting for the screen to load, a few things began making a little more sense to Baekhyun. Maybe the constant urge to go to the taller and pick a fight with him was, fundamentally, just an urge to be near him. For, even when they waited in silence, he felt a similar sense of completion as he did when they fought. What this meant, however, he wasn't willing to allow himself to consider.

"Select your character," sang Chanyeol. Him being giddy only served to make the smaller feel more cheerful.

They played one game after another, giggling and laughing. The distance between them disappeared as they elbowed each other or attempted to snatch the other's controller. The younger easily accused him of having more experience playing the games while the taller pinned it on natural skill. As exhilarating it was, they both kept growing tired as time passed and Baekhyun couldn't tell which one of them fell asleep first.

Upon fluttering his eyes open the next morning, the first thing he registered was the pain in his neck. Part of his body was still against the headboard and part had slouched downwards, leaving his spine to bear the brunt. He soon registered the heavy weight on his shoulders to be Chanyeol's head. The owner, too, had fallen asleep in an uncomfortable position. With his hand placed on the smaller's stomach, his body seemed contorted in a weird posture.

Due to a clouded head so early in the day, he wasn't able to grasp the implications of it. He turned his face to see Chanyeol's sleeping one. The older had his mouth slightly open and his hair falling forwards. Almost unthinkingly, Baekhyun began playing with them. They looked like they had grown slightly. In a little while, they would probably go past his collar.

The smaller reached his other hand over the bedside table to check the time on his phone as he did so. His eyes almost popped out of their sockets when he noticed the time. He was extremely late for college! Slowly, he pulled himself away from the older and changed back into his clothes after freshening up.

In the last minute, he realized that simply leaving the way he was going to might be impolite so he decided to skip his first class to cook breakfast for the other. He could do this much to show that he was grateful. Not knowing how to work with anything else, he grabbed two eggs. Thankfully, Chanyeol's kitchen was neatly organised and he faced no troubles whilst putting together a breakfast with scrambled eggs, roasted tomatoes and toasted bread. He would prepare coffee, since Chanyeol had a coffee maker, but he wasn't sure about what the taller liked.

Once he had it all ready and set up, he dashed out of the house and towards the bus stop. Not having Chanyeol's number, he left a simple 'thank you' message on his snapchat.

It was just before lunch that he received a reply. Noticing Baekhyun's smile, Jongdae tried to peek into his phone.

parkchanyeol61: Thank you for the breakfast, pipsqueak.

***

From then on, while their arguments still continued, they lost their hostility and took on a simpler, teasing attribute. They didn't meet outside of work after that but, somehow, Baekhyun hoped (internally) that a situation as such would arise.

An opportunity came forth when he arrived at work with the staff buzzing. Everyone was all the more chatty and joyous despite it being a dreary Monday evening.

He slid next to Jongin who was folding his sleeves by the sink. "Why is everyone so hyped today?"

"Because next Sunday is the 31st," beamed the dishwasher.

The student raised his eyebrows. "So?"

"So," continued Jongin. "We're going on a trip."

"A trip?"

"Yes. A trip."

"What's a trip?"

"A trip. The one where you have fun?"

It was now that Baekhyun gasped. "We go to a trip from work? Where?" No body had ever mentioned anything of the sort before.

"Amusement Park. Tickets are paid by boss but we gotta buy our own food. It happens once a year," elaborated the boy.

"No one told me about it," whined the smaller. He hadn't been to the amusement park since he was twelve when his aunt, who had been their guardian, took them to one during the summer break.

"Minseok Hyung will make a formal announcement today after work, I think," guessed Jongin, beginning with the dishes. Baekhyun hummed an acknowledgement and made his way out of the kitchen to start working for the day.

Having heard the news, the smaller had thought that his day couldn't get any better. He was, however, proven wrong when as he walked towards the table he was assigned, he saw seated none other than Oh Sehun. Almost there, he knew he couldn't turn back anymore.

He was a tomato as he fumbled with the menu he was supposed to hand the two people at the table. This was the closest he had ever seen the star football player of their university and he was so much handsomer this way. "G-Good Evening. I'm B-Baekhyun and I'll be serving you today."

Oh Sehun titled his head upon seeing him. "I know you."

The waiter's eyes widened. Oh Sehun knew him? "You do?"

"Yeah, from somewhere," drawled the other boy, seemingly wracking his brain in order to place the server. "Ah! You're always at benches! With that other kid!"

In his elation, Baekhyun squealed in a low voice, "You've seen us?"

The footballers snickered. "Of course I did. You two are always cheering the loudest. Thank you for supporting the team and me."

He said 'of course'! With his cheeks blooming and eyes bent into crescents, Baekhyun helped Sehun and, whom he presumed to be his dad, with their order. They appeared to be glad that their server was, somewhat, familiar and friendly.

With a wide smile plastered onto his face, the smaller walked back towards the kitchen. Everyone noticed his expression but did not bother interrogating him about it. Perhaps they had learnt by now that the younger was naturally strange.

Chanyeol, however, did not fall into this category and had a glare on as he approached him. "You look happy."

The smaller blinked. "I am."

"Well, if you must know, you're not allowed to chit-chat with customers while you're working," the taller spoke, crossing his arms sternly.

"We merely exchanged a few words," frowned Baekhyun, his smile disappearing. Was this what they were going argue about today?

"Seemed like an important conversation, nevertheless. I saw how red you were," accused the employer.

"I-I was not," defended the smaller in vain, knowing that anyone could've pointed to his lie.

"Who is it, anyway?" he asked, a certain kind of scorn shaping his words.

"If you must know," Baekhyun rolled his eyes, "It's a senior from college and I'm a his huge fan."

"Pft. Fan? Of what? Of his flat face?" mocked the other, earning a disdainful look from the employee. Minseok, when he passed by, only shook his head.

"Why would you say that about your own guest?" Baekhyun was baffled. "He's a very talented football player."

"Well," he declared. "Football is stupid."

"Are you really saying that?" the smaller eyed him. "The person who insisted that we also play FIFA?"

"That's different," remarked his boss and Baekhyun would've given him a full on response if he hadn't been called by Kyungsoo to serve his table.

"Stop being mean," advised the younger before entering the kitchen again.

It was unlike Chanyeol to pick on other people apart from him. Concluding that the taller probably did not have enough material to keep the discussion going, he let it go. It was in a flurry that time passed. During the tiny break that he texted, his sister, Hani, confirming that he'd be visiting her next week.

After Minseok made the announcement about the trip, followed by cheers of joy, the manager informed him that he had his friend waiting for him by the backdoor.

"Does your friend Jongdae have a twin or...?" the man trailed off, rubbing his neck sheepishly.

"There's no twin," giggled the smaller. "You can call her Chen."

"Ah," hummed Minsoek. "She's pretty."

"She is," agreed Baekhyun.

This time, the smaller revealed everything that had occurred to his best friend. If he had kept it a secret any longer, Chen would've definitely gotten mad at him. He did, as a consequence, have to face her teasing remarks about his new 'boyfriend'.

***

The bus that was to take them to the adventure park waited by the restaurant. Baekhyun and Jongin were cackling as they entered it. Behind them, an irritated Chanyeol looked grim.

"They've been at it since the last hour," sighed the taller. "Can you make them stop?" He too climbed the steps inside.

"I'm pretty sure this is how it's going to be for the rest of the trip," answered Minseok, following Chanyeol.

The two youngest of the staff took their seat at the back and as the vehicle began moving, Chanyeol and Minseok sat themselves in front of them. The manager would've scoffed but it shouldn't have been surprising. No matter what the long haired man said, he'd still make sure to sit near Baekhyun.

"Ya, So," the waiter was hiccuping with laughter. "Then Irene confronted Seulgi in the cafeteria."

"They are the best friends?" questioned Jongin, guffawing. For reasons not understandable to Chanyeol, the two sniggered for a few minutes.

"Yes," Baekhyun was pausing after each word to grab his breath. "The best friends. So, they shouted at each other at the cafeteria."

"Yes, yes," prompted Jongin.

"And then Irene said, 'I never thought you'd do this to me'. And then Seulgi replied, 'Why would I ever do anything to hurt you?'" narrated the smaller.

"Yes, go on," Jongin wiped the tears from his eyes.

"Yes, yes, I am. Then, Irene asked her, 'Why not?' and the Seulgi replied, 'Because I love you dammit!'" Just as Baekhyun stopped speaking, the two erupted in another fit of laughter.

"Can you guys be quiet?" was an exasperated Chanyeol's question. "What's even funny about this?"

This served to shut the two boys up. "You don't find it funny?" asked the smaller. The dishwasher too looked on with surprise.

"No? Am I supposed to? Do you Minseok?" This turned all eyes to the manager.

"It's a little funny," admitted the manager.

"Mr. Park is weird," concluded Baekhyun, with the others nodding in agreement.

This continued for the rest of the journey. Eventually, Chanyeol fell asleep against the window and Baekhyun showed signs of the same. The manager and the dishwater, who were engaged in a deep conversation by then, made the smaller switch seats so that they could talk more easily.

For the last fifteen minutes travel, the student dozed off against Chanyeol's shoulder. It wasn't entirely strange for he had done so before. The waiter had been wishing for a chance to be able to hang out with the taller (because it was fun, of course) and this proved to be nice enough.

Upon reaching their destination, the two woke up together. Baekhyun observed the other man's shock at finding him by his side instead of Minseok.

"Hi," croaked the drowsy student.

"Hi," croaked the taller, his voice breaking. Baekhyun saw as his ears turned pink at this. Cute, he thought. Before he could decipher his reaction, like herd of sheep, the manager guided them out of the bus and gathered them together by the entrance.

"Okay, everyone, line up and I'll put the strip around your wrist," he proclaimed.

Every person in the line received a sweet message from the manager as they got the band around their hand: "You have put sunblock, right?", "Eat after the bigger rides", "Don't get into a fight with park workers".

When Baekhyun's turn came, he was given the advice, "PDA is banned."

"I know," the smaller, offended, stuck his tongue out.

The park in itself looked huge by the gates. Baekhyun could see the colourful, high rides and hear the screams of people even with the distance. The very scene in itself was thrilling and exhilarating.

He turned to Jongin. "I'm going to go to all the scariest rides."

The dishwasher, who was looking at the map and the list, replied, "Uh, the scariest are level 3 rides like that one."

He then pointed towards a tall, tower like construction in the distance, the seating of which slowly rose up before quickly rotating in all possible directions.

"I'm never going near that thing," the boy sounded sick just saying these words.

On the other hand, Baekhyun was delighted. "This is going to be so fun!"

"What is going to be so fun?" Chanyeol emerged, carrying a natural air of haughtiness.

"That," the smaller directed his gaze towards the object of their observation.

"Ah, looks nice," commented the taller, putting his hands on his waist.

"You guys," Jongin sighed. "Why are you two like this?" By this time, most of the other staff had begun to scatter.

"I bet you're actually a scaredy-cat," teased Baekhyun, ignoring the dishwasher's words.

"Do you really want to say that?" challenged the taller.

"Maybe," Baekhyun licked his lips.

"How about this then," proposed Chanyeol. "We go through all rides from level 2 to level 3. Whoever gets scared first, loses."

The smaller considered it and came up with a rather unfair clause. "Haven't you already ridden all these before?"

Chanyeol shook his head, "This is a different park." His hair was tied into a bun, much like the day when they first met. Today, instead of a suit, he was wearing a hoodie with a pair of jeans.

According to Baekhyun, though, nobody's fashion for the day could compare to his. Today he was wearing a plain black T-shirt with white and neon yellow track pants tucked at the bottom into his neon yellow socks. He found the look very chic.

Once Baekhyun answered in the affirmative and their race commenced, they were unstoppable. Minseok And Jongin were forced into following them. They went on ride after ride with the manager and the dishwasher skipping whenever they felt it to be too dangerous. When Chanyeol and the student got off the last of the level 2 rides, they were chortling.

"I'm gonna throw up, I'm gonna throw up," chanted Jongin as he rubbed his chest. The last attraction had taken them to its heights before suddenly dropping them.

"Don't be such a kid," sang Chanyeol, who in his behaviour, didn't seem much like an adult either.

"Yeah, don't be such a kid," repeated Baekhyun. The older and him, instead of attacking each other, had somehow, between all the attractions, teamed up to poke fun at others.

They walked side by side, making their way upwards on what was sloping path. "Do you want to take a break and eat?"

He had been hungry for a while but didn't want to be the first one to voice the same. He nodded in response and they walked to an area lined with various food stands. It had all one would expect in an adventure park—from candy floss to caramelised apple to animal shaped ice creams.

"What to you want to have?" inquired the taller when they all settled into chairs around an empty table.

"I don't know," pouted the student, "There's so much to choose from."

"I want the blueberry pop stick," Minseok piped in.

He was brushed aside by the owner who chose to reply to Baekhyun, "Then you should get it all."

"All?" blurted the smaller, mouth open.

"Yeah," breathed the owner.

"That's too much," the younger shook his head. "I'll just get the strawberry pop stick."

"Wait," the other instructed as he got onto his toes and hurried towards the stands.

"Blueberry," called Minseok out as a reminder to the retreating figure.

The remaining three then started to converse about the rides they had been on and the more that was to come.

"I don't think I'll go to any of the level 3 ones," said Minseok wearily.

"Same, hyung," nodded Jongin.

"Do you want to go to the animal garden with me, then?"

"Yeah, let's do that! We'll click pictures with the bears!" exclaimed Jongin. "Bears!"

"Aren't you too young to drink?" wondered Chanyeol as he reappeared with a strawberry stick in his hand. Baekhyun cheered as he grabbed it. What was the owner doing buying food for him? Not that he protested; it only made his elation rise. Ever since they had taunted Minseok on the whizz-a-whizz, he had become increasingly affectionate.

"Where's mine?" chirped Minseok.

"Get it yourself,"dismissed the taller.

In that moment, Baekhyun stopped licking his pop stick and offered it to Chanyeol. The latter smiled and took a tiny bite out of the same.

"I can't believe this," the manger had knitted brows as he leaned back into his chair. "I told you guys PDA isn't allowed."

Having had all the food that Chanyeol had insisted on Baekhyun eating, the two separated from the others to go to the level 3 rides. They walked down the path they had previously climbed to get to the train station which would take them to their destination. They were enveloped in a comfortable silence as they did so with Chanyeol looking rather contemplative. The smaller, on the other hand, couldn't stop sneaking glances at him. His heart felt extremely restless whenever he registered that he was alone with the taller again.

They flumped on the train seats when it arrived, facing each other. It was when they began to move that Chanyeol spoke. "I have something to add to the challenge."

The taller looked hesitant so Baekhyun nodded to prompt him further.

"The winner," he faltered. "Gets to take the loser on a date."

It took a few seconds for Baekhyun to understand the meaning behind his words and the suggestion behind them. The taller's eyes were imploring him, searching for any reaction. Baekhyun's mouth was faster than his brain. "Okay."

It was another minute before he asked, "Do you like me?"

"Yeah" was the earnest answer he received. His heart was going haywire. This was the first time anyone had ever confessed liking him.

"Do you?" gulped Chanyeol. Baekhyun then nodded, choosing not to speak for he was sure he'd sound stupid if he did so.

When they arrived the level 3 train station, they quietly got off and strolled to the first ride. It was a rollercoaster.

The ride seemed to erase the hush between them. Once they were on ground, they had returned to their cackling selves.

"It went like this and whoosh!" gestured the taller and Baekhyun furiously screamed, "Exactly!".

They jumped from every level 3 ride to the other, none scaring them at all. The last ride they got on was the one they had seen first. The shouts of the group before them had been deafening. Together, they planted themselves on the seats and put on the safety belt. Before the ride could start, though, Baekhyun felt a hand cover his. He repositioned it so that their fingers intertwined.

If all the other rides before had been exciting, this one was belonged to an entirely different category; it was electrifying. They were jostled around the air as if they were mere feathers.

The two were breathless when it ended and it was Chanyeol who declared, "We both won."

"I guess we'll both take each other on a date now," the smaller concluded.

"I guess so," the taller grinned.

"This," informed Baekhyun, "Is my first time having a boyfriend."

"No way! You're saying no one has ever asked you out before?" questioned Chanyeol, perplexed.

The smaller merely shrugged and grabbed the other's sleeve to drag him towards the road to the pastel land.

"What are you doing?"

Baekhyun continued to pull the taller. "We're going to the Ferris wheel."

"Why?" Having freed himself from the student's grasp, Chanyeol walked closely.

"Because," elaborated Baekhyun. "Boyfriends are supposed to kiss at the top of the Ferris wheel for good luck."

"Ah," snickered the taller, not posing any more questions. "So eager to kiss me."

"Shut," Baekhyun stuck his tongue out.

Since there was no crowd by the Ferris wheel, they had no problems securing themselves a cabin. Like the train, they sat facing each other.

"Now we stay till we get to the top," declared Baekhyun. All the dramas and anime that he had watched as kid had shown the Ferris wheel kiss as a must. It was something that had crossed his mind when he had been thinking about today's trip last night but he couldn't have imagined that he'd have the opportunity to experience it. To kiss Chanyeol again.

"The view is nice," commented the new boyfriend.

"It is," agreed Baekhyun, waiting for the cabin to go as high as it can.

As they neared the top, the smaller began to get up, "It's time." However, as he rose, a patchy sound followed. Turning to look behind him, he found a chewing gum stuck near his shoulder.

"Wha—" he gasped, reaching around to get it off. "What is this?!"

Understanding the other's predicament upon seeing the gum, Chanyeol suggested, "Stay still, I'll get it off." He stood up and pulled a tissue from his pocket.

Removing the gum, he met eyes with Baekhyun who was almost in tears. "See? It's gone."

"My shirt is dirty and... we missed the top," sniffed Baekhyun, rubbing his eyes with the back of his wrist.

"Don't worry," reassured Chanyeol. "We'll do it in the next round."

"N-No," whined the smaller and without a warning, pulled the taller down. The chewing gum containing napkin fell from Chanyeol's hands as he encircled his arms around Baekhyun's waist.

The kiss was sweet, slow and wet; better than the one before. Their bodies were flushed together and their hearts beat in a rhythm. Even though the plan ended up a mess, he loved every second of it. They pulled away only for Chanyeol to crush Baekhyun into his chest, violenting pressing his face into his shoulder.

"What are you doing to me?" he groaned. "I want to smush you."

"Don't." His voice got muffled.

For the trip back home, they shared their seats again. However, given how tiresome the day had proven to be, they slept all the way through.

***

Their relationship developed easily. Nothing much changed. Their behaviour at work remained the same, except for the kisses when Baekhyun arrived and the kisses when he left. Chanyeol took it upon himself to make sure to drop him to the bus stand everyday.

During the little free time they found, they met for a few dates which were spent eating, gaming and (once) sleeping. Their conversations were mostly about their day to day activities: the work they had to do, the people they had met, the food they had eaten. It was either this or a philosophical talk about perspectives on things. For Baekhyun, the biggest gain in this entire affair was the fact that he could play with Chanyeol's hair without any restrictions.

The other good part was the fact that he did not have to search for a partner for the autumn dance anymore. It hadn't taken more than Baekhyun asking for the other to agree. He had thought that Chanyeol would dismiss it as a childish event but he was pleasantly surprised.

For the past two weeks, he had enjoyed the taller's company during Saturdays. Today, though, he was going to visit and stay over his at sister's. Having bought some fresh fruits, he took the bus to Hani's apartment.

His sister and her husband both worked marketing jobs, though at different MNCs, and earned enough to be able to build a decent home in a good locale.

When he rung the bell, he was greeted with Hani's squeals and tight hugs. Putting the fruits aside, he was made to settle on the couch.

"Have you been eating better?" she cooed. "You face looks fuller."

"It's the same as always," he shrugged, raising his feet to place on the table.

"No, it isn't. It's been so long. Ah, Noona is so sorry she isn't able to meet you everyday," pouted his sister.

"It's alright," sighed the smaller. "You're busy with office. I'm busy with college and the part time work."

"You began working part time?" she asked, taken aback.

"Yep," he simpered.

"Where?"

And with that the dialogue drifted to one about Viva Polo and the staff and eventually about Chanyeol. The brother told Hani about his first ever boyfriend: how stupid yet caring he was. It was as they were talking that someone entered the room.

"Baekhyun, you're here," Hyunjae, Hani's husband appeared and pulled the smaller into a hug. The evening was then spent catching up and eating dinner.

After placing the used dishes into the sink, Baekhyun went to the loo. When he emerged outside, the lobby was deserted and he could hear voices from the bedroom. Carefully, the smaller walked towards it.

"I can't keep doing this, Hani," Hyunjae was saying.

"It's just a few more years, until he gets a job," his sister replied.

"It's been years but we've not been able to start a family. You keep spending all our funds on him. Are you even thinking about us?"

"Please, don't do this. He's my little brother and as important to me as any child can ever be." Baekhyun could hear the distress in her words.

"I know, he's like a younger brother to—"

The smaller took a few steps back and then went and sat on the sofa. Is this what he was doing? Being a burden on his sister? After their aunt passed away, all of his responsibility fell on Hani. Thankfully, by that time she had already completed college and had begun to look for jobs. No matter what, though, she had her own life to live. She couldn't keep taking care of Baekhyun.

Why couldn't he be a little more independent? He really couldn't do anything right. Keeping his tears inside was becoming difficult. Why was he like this? He did not deserve to cry. His sister couldn't have a kid because she was too busy taking care of him.

Deciding that he couldn't stay and hide his tears, Baekhyun grabbed his phone and left, leaving her a text about some emergency. Instead of taking the elevator, he took the stairs. It turned out that he wasn't fit enough to descend sixteen flights of stairs so he occupied one of the stairs on the eighth floor to cry his eyes out.

It was stupid to do so, knowing that instead of throwing a fit, a smarter person would devise ways of helping their sister. He didn't know how long he stayed there but he only moved when Chanyeol called him.

"Hi," he sniffed, putting the taller on speaker.

"Hi, Pipsqueak," sang Chanyeol. "Are you home yet?"

"Not really," he responded, wiping his snot with his sleeve. At least the tears had by now subsided.

"What is it? You don't sound well." Baekhyun was surprised that he could tell something was up just from his voice.

"Something happened," confessed the smaller.

"You're still at your sister's?"

"Hm."

"Are you leaving?"

"About to."

"Wait for ten minutes, then. I'll come pick you up. Stay over tonight. Would that be fine?"

Nothing sounded better than Chanyeol's intimacy and saying yes to his proposition, Baekhyun waited downstairs for the taller to arrive. Once the taller's grey G-Wagen pulled up, Baekhyun quickly settled into the passenger seat.

This was his second time riding the taller's car and like the previous time, it smelled amazing: a lemony scent that freshened up the entire space.

"Now, do you want to tell me what happened?" Chanyeol's eyes were fixed on the road.

The student nodded and divulged the details of the conversation he had overheard. With Chanyeol, he wasn't embarrassed to reveal these problems. If anything, the taller was a very sincere listener. If not him, Baekhyun would've revealed it all to Chen.

The taller let Baekhyun describe it all, along with his feelings. He kept mum throughout, only humming occasionally to show that he's listening. When the smaller had finally stopped speaking, he said, "I think we need to go to the cottage."

"A cottage? Where?" The smaller's voice was as small as himself.

He shook his head and continued driving whilst Baekhyun kept his gaze fixed onto his hands, thinking about Hyunjae hyung's words. What they came to was Chanyeol's garage instead of a cottage.

Ushering Baekhyun to his room, the taller handed him some shorts and a T-shirt. When the student came out of the bathroom, he found that Chanyeol, too, had changed his clothes. The usual white lights of the room were off and what lighted the room was a very dim, yellow light.

The taller moved backwards, climbed under the duvet and pulled it up so it reached till his chin. "Come," he called out and Baekhyun followed suit.

They were both, soon, lying on the bed, inches apart, facing each other with the duvet over their head. They were enclosed from all sides except the tiny opening Chanyeol had left near the top of their heads.

"This," stated Chanyeol. "Is a cottage."

"It is?" Baekhyun licked his lips.

"Yeah. How do you feel in here?"

"I feel warm." It was an honest statement.

"Exactly," the taller breathed. "That is because the cottage is warm, away from the snow outside."

"There's snows outside?"

"Hm," said Chanyeol. "The point is, nothing can harm you here, snow, or any of the problems of this world."

Baekhyun's mouth formed a small 'o'. "But, I've," he gulped. "Still been bad to my sister."

"Baekhyun," Chanyeol started, "I think you should leave it to your sister to worry about it all. I— Sh," he shook his head at Baekhyun opening his mouth. "You're a student, pipsqueak. You cannot do anything about it. You spend the entire day at college and then Viva Polo. You already work hard enough."

"But—"

"The leisure time you get, you deserve it."

"I don't."

"You can't work all the time, Pip."

"Okay," pouted the smaller. The distance between their bodies remained the same yet Baekhyun could feel Chanyeol's warmth radiating off him. They talked a lot more inside the cottage without ever feeling suffocated in its heat due to the little window the taller had created earlier. Apparently, he had first built the cottage when he was a kid, watching all the fairytale movies. It felt to Baekhyun the homeliest place in the world, where he could say and think about anything. It was whilst talking and mumbling in there that the two fell asleep.

The morning after, they woke up together, limb entangled. With their eyes still groggy, they didn't think much before pressing their lips together and engaging in a liplock. At one point, between the kisses, Chanyeol ended up on top of him. It would've been fine except at this angle, they could both feel their morning woods rubbing each other's thighs.

"Do you..." Chantelle trailed off. Baekhyun knew what he was asking and why he looked worried as he did so. It didn't take a genius to understand that the smaller was a virgin.

"Yeah, I want to," voiced Baekhyun. "Right now."

"Okay," the taller nodded. "Okay. Let's do it."

"Yeah," Baekhyun kissed his earlobe.

"Do you want to go on the top or..." Chanyeol shivered.

"No," he bit the sensitive part of the earlobe. "I want to try bottoming."

Chanyeol nodded in understanding before sitting up and slipping out of his shirt. Baekhyun already had had an idea about his muscles and their power but seeing the abs right in front of him was an entirely different experience. The taller then helped the smaller out of his.

"W-Wait," Baekhyun said, once his own shirt was off. "Let me go clean up. I-I feel a little dirty and I don't want—"

"I get it," reassured the taller. "Go clean up."

Chanyeol had to wait for another ten minutes before the smaller emerged and took his position back onto the bed where the taller began kissing up his chest.

"Pipsqueak, you're really beautiful," he murmured as he did so, his lips leaving no area un-kissed.

The taller licked and sucked around his nipples, bringing the nubs to their full hardness as his hands exploded further. Soon enough, Baekhyun's shorts and underwear came off and he was left entirely exposed.

While his hands felt around his thighs and calves, Chanyeol's clamped his mouth around the smaller's hard dick. Baekhyun's hands automatically entangled themselves in his hair, tiny whines leaving his mouth when the taller started blowing him.

"Ch-Chan," he moaned, tightening his grip. "Please don't or I'll- Please."

The taller payed him no heed and continued with his torture. It was only when Baekhyun felt like he was finally about to come that Chanyeol withdrew.

He glared at the him. "I hate you."

The older laughed and moved up to connect his lips to Baekhyun's. "I'm not lying when I say I've never met anyone who looks so ethereal." This won him a blush.

As they kissed, the smaller felt a wet finger prod at his entrance. So engrossed in their battle of tongues, he didn't even realise when Chanyeol had taken out lube and coated his fingers.

"Have you done this before?" The taller asked against his lips.

"Yep," the smaller answered.

The first finger was always the one that hurt him the most but the pain became negligible whenever he found his prostrate. It felt the same. The older took his sweet time fingering him, adding lots of lube and always brushing against his sweet spot. It was also accompanied by messages about how well he was doing.

When the taller was three fingers in, pushing and pulling at a rapid pace along with the squelching of the lube that Baekhyun breathed, "I'm ready. Please."

Taking the smaller's word for it, he withdrew his fingers and threw off his underwear. Chanyeol's length and girth was definitely bigger than his. What Baekhyun found adorable, though, was the fact that although they had entirely neglected his member, he was already leaking precome.

The older took a pillow and placed it under the smaller's back and spread his legs to fit himself. One last time, he asked him for permission. Being granted the same, in the form of a nod, he slowly pushed his condomed member inside. The waiter's mouth dropped open and eyes shut themselves up as he took in the length.

Chanyeol was trying to take deep breaths and hid his face into the smaller's neck. It was after a few moments that Baekhyun's arm came to rest into his hair. "Move."

And move he did, at first slowly and later at a moderate pace. Baekhyun's whimpers resounded in the room, along with Chanyeol's groans. They went at it for minutes until one of the taller's hands wrapped itself around the smaller's cock.

The younger came before the other, his body shuddering and back rising. It didn't take long before Chanyeol followed suit, convulsing.

Throwing the condom away, they wrapped their sweaty bodies around each other.

Mouthing and biting around the smaller's neck, he asked, "Was it fine?"

"Hm," Baekhyun shifted closer. "It was great."

"It was," sighed Chanyeol. "You're so amazing"

Though dirty and filthy, they went into slumber once again.

***

It was the day before the winter dance and Baekhyun was ecstatic. He had prepared the suit he was going to wear and left it at Chanyeol's place. No matter how hard the smaller had tried, Jongdae had refused to find a partner or to come to the event.

Work had started out just fine. After he had changed into his uniform, he had been pulled to a corner of the empty staff room and given a tiny peck by Chanyeol. Baekhyun was sure that the other employees, including Minseok, must have known about the development in their relationship. They weren't exactly subtle about it. However, no one had decided to speak up about it. It was fine. Jongdae pulling his leg was enough.

He was assigned more than his usual number if tables today. One of the waiting staff had caught a fever and wasn't present today. On his first table was a mother-daughter duo that could've walked straight out of the page of a magazine and the smaller loved serving them. The little girl had called his eyes cute.

He smiled as he walked carrying their tray. He couldn't stop thinking about the fact that tomorrow, by this time, he'd be dancing away with Chanyeol. He was making his way past an old, bellied man standing near the empty manager's desk when the latter turned around, all of sudden, and bumped right into Baekhyun. The sauce that he had been carrying fell on the man shirt and dripped down to his leather shoes.

Not many people, except for those seated near the desk, noticed the incident. Horrified, the smaller backed away at once. "I'm so sorry, sir!"

The man continued to stare at the sauce on his clothes. "You." In the only syllable he had spoken, the smaller could sense the underlying anger.

"I'll help you clean up," bowed Baekhyun. He had kept the tray aside and was fumbling through Minseok's desk for tissues. "Please allow me to."

"Don't touch me," raged the man. "Don't you see where you're going, huh?"

Baekhyun had to admit that he had been a little to lost in his thoughts. The accident may have been prevented if he had been more aware. "I'm sorry. I'll help you fix it."

"Don't you see it can't be fixed?! This stain will never get off a white shirt." The man's voice was getting louder by the second and customers further away were now looking. "Do you know how expensive this is?! Your entire salary wouldn't cover it. Bloody son of a b*tch."

The harsh tone took Baekhyun aback. How could the man talk speak that stuff? "Excuse me, sir, but you were also at fault," he pointed out. "You did not look behind you before moving. You cannot say things like that."

"You're going to tell me what I can do? You, a worthless b*stard of a waiter?!" growled the old man.

The smaller really couldn't keep it in himself. "How dare you look down me for being a waiter? It was clearly an accident and we were both at fault."

"This m*therfucker—"

"You're not the only one who can curse," seethed Baekhyun, knowing very well that that he actually couldn't. "You old, greasy man."

"What did you just say?" scoffed the man. Every eye in the room was on them.

"You old, greasy, smelly man," he repeated. His own blood was starting to boil. Being rich didn't excuse the man for being mean. "Have you seen yourself before commenting on others? Clearly your money can't correct that. You might think you're above everyone else but you're not. I apologised to you and offered to clean it!"

"Is this how you apologise?!" fumed the man.

"And is this how you talk to another human—"

The smaller cut off when he was yanked backwards. "Baekhyun!" hissed Chanyeol.

His eyes widened. "Chanyeol—"

"What are you you doing?" the taller too was seething and this was the first time he had seen him this way.

"I—"

"Is this how you're going to talk to a customer?"

He didn't let the smaller speak before continuing. "You're fired," he declared, not meeting Baekhyun's eyes. "Please leave."

It felt like Baekhyun's blood froze. "Cha—"

"I said leave," reiterated the taller.

Ignoring the tears starting to well up in his eyes, Baekhyun got his arm away from Chanyeol's grasp and started walking towards the staff room. The only time he turned around, he saw the older bowing profusely.

He somehow made his way to his accommodation before breaking down. He didn't understand what had happened. The man had been extremely rude and he had only answered back as he deserved. How was it alright for the man to treat him like he was beneath him just because he was a server? Money did not make him a God. They lived in country where everyone was equal.

It had happened per chance since they had been so standing so close. It could've been anyone in that scenario. A good person wouldn't have reacted like that. They would have accepted Baekhyun's apology because it was sincere and because he was going to correct it.

The worst part, however, was not even the man but Chanyeol. Even when they had fought in the beginning, he had never looked the kind of mad he did today. His eyes had been cold and icy as he had told the smaller to leave. They had created shards that hit right at his heart and made his body ache.

The smaller moved to his stomach to let the pillow accept the wetness of his eyes. What did this even mean? Was Chanyeol going to break up with him? Did firing him imply that he had already broken up? Why couldn't he stop crying? The taller had been right when he had called him a crybaby long ago. That's what he was.

Amidst all these thoughts, another sprung up: that of his lessors with Yixing. "Never argue with a customer," the kind waiter had said. "Even if they're the one who are wrong, just apologise. If they're being mean, you call the manager."

He remembered an incident when he was training under Yixing when a similarly rude (though less intense) customer had bothered his trainer. The Chinese man had remained calm and controlled and had simply let Minseok take over the situation.

He was so stupid. He should've followed the procedure. It was a given that Chanyeol wouldn't approve of it. He had a business to run and one couldn't upset customers, that too right in front of other customers. He should've called the taller the moment the man had started to become mean. Even if he apologised, he did ruin someone's expensive apparels.

Now, he didn't have a job or a boyfriend. His brother-in-law and sister were experiencing problems just because of him and he couldn't do anything to solve that. His grades were merely average and there was absolutely nothing he was talented at. He really was worthless, as the man had said. So stupid.

It was with his muddled mind that he tried to go to sleep but it was a night of tossing and turning. His bed and blankets felt cold and uncomfortable and recalled the cozy and snug cottage. At one point, he tried making his own cottage, with a window and everything, a space to keep the snow out, but it didn't feel the same. The feeling of security and a safe space wasn't there. It wasn't a cottage.

Even when the sun rose and his alarm rung to let him know it was time to go to college, he couldn't get up from his bed. He couldn't attend classes and be able to concentrate. He also didn't want to talk to Jongdae and explain to him anything.

After shutting his alarm, he returned to his restless sleep. His thoughts kept running wild throughout and there wasn't a moment when he was able to relax. When he got up again, because his stomach was starting to hurt, it was to grab and eat a strawberry lollipop. He had no energy to go and cook, neither did he want to leave the house.

He had to apologise to Chanyeol, he had realised. Even if the older was considering their relationship done, he had to make sure to tell him that what he knew he had a made a mistake. The clock on his bedside table showed that the autumn dance had begun ages ago. It didn't even matter as much anymore. Jongdae has been right. It was a foolish affair for little kids.

Alone in the room with his body and mind, night came again. He was tired when he attempted to go to sleep and tired when he woke up. Everyone deserved an apology from him yet he was having his own pity-party.

He missed Chanyeol so desperately. Only yesterday he had kissed him but despite the few hours, Baekhyun felt like it had happened ages ago. He needed the older to hold him and tell him it's fine. He just needed his presence near himself, to talk to him even if was for Chanyeol to say he doesn't want him anymore.

It was this need that drove him out of his bed. He was still wearing the same clothes he had worn the day before yesterday. Feeling around his bed, he came to realise that he had forgotten his mobile phone in his locker at work. It didn't matter, though, he had to meet Chanyeol face to face. The older's office was just about to get over so Baekhyun washed his face with water and left to catch the bus.

He had seen himself in the mirror and he knew he looked horrible. His pants weren't even tucked into his socks and he probably smelled like sweat. Upon reaching the huge building which was Chanyeol's workplace, the smaller realized that it might've been too impertinent of him to come here. He couldn't just barge in to see him. His appearance alone would turn people away and embarrass the taller.

He hesitated for a while but then, taking a deep breath of courage, entered the building. No one stopped him or turned to look at him as he settled on one of the cushioned seats at the reception. The younger played with his fingers. He felt so small in that place, maybe more rubbish than he did at home.

A few minutes after five, he saw lots of men and women in suits making their way towards the exit near him. It was fifteen minutes after five that he saw Chanyeol hurrying towards the gate, instructing something to the man walking besides him. A fresh set of tears threatened to make their presence known when he looked at the familiar figure. He held it in and hastened to his feet. Just as the taller reached the gates, the younger was able to pull at his coat.

The taller turned around and his eyes blew wide when they fell on Baekhyun's which were trying to keep the wetness from escaping. There was a sharp intake of breath, "Pip." Chanyeol then grabbed his hand and pulled him in the opposite direction. They entered a washroom and the taller locked the door behind him. By this time, all attempts by the smaller to keep his tears in had failed. He was sniffing as he was picked up by the older and deposited on the slab besides the sink.

Chanyeol cupped his face and brought his chin up to stare into his eyes. "I'm s-sorry," hiccuped Baekhyun. He couldn't see well or, violently hiccuping, speak properly.

"No," responded the older, his voice sounding pained and strained. "I'm sorry." He pulled the smaller's face into his chest. "Sh, I'm sorry." One hand was around his back and the other running through his hair. "Sh."

The student did not want to get Chanyeol's shirt wet but the older wouldn't pull away. "I'm s-stupid," he words were muffled. "I shouldn't h-have-"

"Shhh," the older's hold on his became tighter

"- fought," the smaller tried to finish. "I should be, should be -hicc- sorry."

"Pip, don't cry." He felt a peck on his head followed by another one. "Baek."

It took a long time for the smaller to calm down even with Chanyeol soothing him. His heart felt rested but eyes head refused to listen. When he was finally breathing normally, the taller pulled away to look at him, again placing his palms on his cheeks.

"Let's go home, okay?" Their noses touched.

"Cottage?" Baekhyun sounded hoarse.

"Yeah, cottage."

With an arm around his shoulders, the taller led him to his car. It was a silent journey to Chanyeol's place but the older's free hand that held his throughout served to reassure him. Upon reaching Chanyeol's room, it was the taller who changed the smaller's clothes and tucked him in before following suit.

"Pip," He said, holding Baekhyun flush to his chest. "I shouldn't have been so harsh."

"You had every right to be," the smaller replied. "I shouldn't have reacted to it like that."

"You're new to this kind of work, I didn't think about that." The taller kissed his head again. "That man was awful but you'll so meet so many people like him. Being the owner doesn't make it different for me. I too had to listen listen to him curse and placate him."

"I know," the smaller muttered.

"We can't stoop to his level. By behaving the way he did, he didn't actually degrade us but only embarrassed himself in front of the rest of the guests."

"I realised," he hummed.

"You'll rejoin, right?"

He felt the other nod against his chest.

"I'm still sorry. You're an employee but also my boyfriend," he continued.

"Hm."

"I called you last night but you weren't picking."

"I forgot my phone at Viva Polo."

"I was gonna go to you after work."

"Hm." Baekhyun's eyes were drooping.

"I thought you would hate me after what happened. Who talks to someone they love like that?"

The taller did not receive a reply this time. Looking beneath his chin, he found his Pip snoring softly.

***

When Baekhyun awoke, he was alone in Chanyeol's room. Looking at the window, he learnt that it was already evening. His eyes were so swollen that they hurt. However, his heart felt the exact opposite. The relief that came with talking to the taller was almost euphoric.

As he made to get out of the bed, he found his suit for the autumn dance spread out on the covers. With it, a small note asked him to change into the attire. His mind raced through all possibilities as he wore the pink coat and pants. Feeling too lazy to comb his hair, he made his way downstairs still looking a mess. Chanyeol was no where to be seen.

Looking around, he saw that the door to the backyard was open and coming through it was the soft sound of music. Understanding what was happening, he felt like he could cry again. The taller had decorated his backyard with fairy lights and garlands of flowers. At a linen covered table in the corner, there was placed what looked like fruit punch with an assortment of food.

Standing at the centre, though, grinning at Baekhyun, was Chanyeol. He looked as handsome as ever. The suit fit him perfectly and his long hair was neatly set. In that moment, he looked every bit like Lee Taemin (better, in fact, if Baekhyun was to be honest).

What added to it all was that the song playing in the background was none other than the theme song of 'The Sundown'. The smaller placed a hand onto his chest. He wasn't going to cry again. His eyes already hurt.

"May I have this dance, Pipsqueak?" Chanyeol extended his hand.

Eagerly, Baekhyun took it and they wrapped their arms around each other. Guided by the taller, they began to move and sway.

"I knew you liked the movie," giggled the smaller. He had forced the older into watching it with him during one of their dates. Even though he claimed to have disliked it, Baekhyun had caught him crying when Choi Sooyoung and Lee Taemin had broken up because of his mother.

"I only played it because of you," the taller shrugged.

As they twirled together at the sundown, Baekhyun concluded that this was better than any of the balls or the dances that he seen in the movies.

***

fin