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 Joonmyun swore aloud as he overturned the books on his desk. He could have sworn he had put the papers there. His presentation was due in an hour and he would have nothing to show for it if he did not find those infernal papers soon.

 

The clock chimed for two in the afternoon and he yanked open the drawers in his desk in a frenzy, panic beginning to bloom in his chest.

 

He was on the third drawer when he saw it: the bright yellow sticky note.

 

It was stuck directly on top of the papers he needed. The black inked words on it read: they seemed important. I put them away for you. Good luck with the presentation! :)

 

Joonmyun’s heart just about stopped with relief. He pulled the papers out, stroking a finger over the neatly printed words with a fond smile.

 

When his realtor had told him that the house came with a friendly ghost, he had been disbelieving.

 

But after a bad depressive episode that had him aggressively binge eating three pints of ice cream and attempting to tear up his thesis, he had discovered a yellow sticky note on his mirror the next morning.

 

You work too hard! Ice cream is good but don’t eat so much of it! I’m cheering you on! Hwaiting! :)

 

The memory still made him smile.

 

Ever since then, he had found little sticky notes hidden all around the house, full of cheerful messages that encouraged him to keep on dreaming, keep up the good job, always signed off with an adorable smiley face.

 

They made him feel all bubbly inside, just like the way he felt whenever that tall man with the pretty eyes stopped by his workplace for a coffee and a chat.

 

He instantly felt much better, setting the papers down carefully and tucking the sticky note into his breast pocket. It would be his little good luck charm.

 

Joonmyun had just enough time to straighten out his table and put away the books he had tossed off the table before leaving the house.

 

As he reached for the doorknob, his eyes lit upon the little yellow sticky that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere.

 

Have a good day, Joonmyun! You look amazing today! :)

 

Laughing to himself, Joonmyun pulled down the yellow paper, slipping it to join the other one in his breast pocket.

 

He checked his reflection in the hallway mirror, carefully smoothing loose strands of hair back into place.

 

His ghost was right. He did look good.

 

Smiling, he slipped out of the house, oblivious to the man standing behind him in the mirror, grinning happily at his back.

 

-

 

“What’s got you smiling today, Joonmyun sshi?” Joonmyun looked up from his cash register, said smile widening at the sight of his favourite customer.

 

Well, second favourite customer. His favourite customer had yet to come in.

 

“Good evening, Yixing! I did well on my presentation today,” he grinned, taking the cash that the Chinese man handed to him.

 

Yixing dimpled sweetly as Joonmyun turned to make his usual cup of tea, leaning against the counter watching him.

 

“Well, I hope you do well in school every day, Joonmyun sshi! You look pretty when you smile!”

 

Joonmyun’s heart fluttered at the compliment and he patted Yixing’s hand, pushing the tea and a pastel pink macaron across the counter.

 

“Do call me Hyung.”

 

Yixing accepted his food with another pretty smile, walking away to settle at his favourite booth, the one right by the huge bay windows.

 

Joonmyun watched him go, ducking back behind his register to ring up another order.

 

The café was quiet in the late afternoons, with only a few stragglers wandering in from the nearby college, looking for a quiet place to work on their projects.

 

Joonmyun mostly cleaned, and people watched, beaming when a tall stranger with blonde hair came hustling in, windblown and ruffled.

 

He went straight for Yixing, bending to drop a kiss on the curly brown head before even putting any of his things down.

 

Joonmyun’s heart bloomed.

 

They were an adorable couple.

 

Speaking of adorable things, his favourite customer was walking through the door, looking up at the tinkling doorbell with his usual happy grin.

 

He looked all around the shop, dimpling at the customers before staring straight at the counter, smile widening.

 

Joonmyun ducked his head shyly, feigning work as he wiped down the already spotless counter.

 

He could see the sticky note where he had stuck it, hidden in the alcove behind the register.

 

Have a good day, Joonmyun! You look good today! :)

 

That gave him enough courage to look up, right into the sparkling eyes of the man he had taken to calling Tall Stranger with pretty eyes in his head.

 

“It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?” Tall Stranger smiled, with all his teeth and Joonmyun’s heart stuttered. He smiled back, nodding along.

 

“It is.”

 

Tall Stranger studied the pastry case, humming a mindless tune under his breath as he surveyed his options. He pointed to the nearly empty rows of macarons and grinned.

 

“Are those any good?”

 

Joonmyun was very proud of his macarons. They had come out perfect, from the day before and were even better now, after the flavours have had time to sit. And they looked pretty, sitting in neat little pastel rows in the display.

 

They were almost gone now because it was late afternoon and people had come in get them with their tea.

 

He puffed up a little with pride at the twinkle in the stranger’s eyes, moving to stand behind the display.

 

“I think so.”

 

Tall Stranger cocked his head teasingly and pointed to the navy blue ones decorated with pink sprinkles, a decadent Earl Grey and rose flavour.

 

Those were Joonmyun’s favourites.

 

“I’ll have three of that and a café latte,” Tall Stranger fumbled with his messenger bag, nearly unloading a river of papers onto the bakery floor before finding his wallet in his coat pocket. It was leather and brown and stuffed so full with receipts and notes that half of them were hanging out.

 

Joonmyun watched, absentmindedly picking at his sticky note as the man managed to finagle his way through the mess and pull out exact change.

 

Their hands touched briefly as Tall Stranger handed him the cash and Joonmyun flushed, ducking his head at the electric jolt he felt.

 

Tall Stranger was still grinning, as he shoved his wallet back into his coat, where it disappeared immediately. He skipped off to one of the bar tables in front of the windows, setting his bag onto one of the seats beside him.

 

Joonmyun smiled to himself as he moved to plate up the macarons, absently noting that the colours matched Tall Stranger’s coat perfectly. He wondered if he had chosen them precisely for that reason.

 

His hand shook as he poured the milk foam, biting back a curse as he swirled his signature heart shape into the cup. It was one of the best he had ever done, he thought to himself as he brought the coffee over to the man.

 

He had set himself up quite nicely by the time Joonmyun walked over to him, his papers and notebooks spread everywhere, with his laptop set right in the middle.

 

Joonmyun spied a manuscript book open beside him as he slid the plate onto the table, with handwritten music notes all wonky on the staves.

 

“You study music?” He asked, hoping that he did not sound too curious. Tall Stranger looked at him with a bright grin, nudging the book over.

 

“Yep, you?”

 

“I major in business and minor in creative writing,” Joonmyun waited for the inevitable huff of laughter that he always got whenever he had to explain his choice but all he got was a curious hum.

 

“That’s an interesting combination. You like writing?”

 

Dark brown eyes studied him and Joonmyun was suddenly very aware of the pastel pink apron he had around his waist. He forced down the sudden rise of embarrassment and nodded.

 

“You should show me your work sometime!” Tall Stranger said enthusiastically enough that Yixing, on the other side of the café, looked over.

 

When he caught Joonmyun’s eye, he winked, giving him a thumbs up. His boyfriend turned to look as well, smirking in his direction.

 

Joonmyun blushed and nodded at the coffee that was still puffing steam.

 

“Maybe next time,” he pointed to the macarons. “I hope you like those.”

 

Tall Stranger looked down at the pastries, long fingers tapping on the table as he set down his pen.

 

“They’re pretty,” he noted, and Joonmyun saw his eyes skip over the heart in his coffee. He gave him another dazzling smile and gestured towards the counter.

 

“I think you have work to do, Joonmyun sshi. Sorry for holding you so long.”

 

Joonmyun bowed as he returned behind the counter, proud that he only glanced at Tall Stranger a few times during his shift.

 

He stayed until nearly closing, before packing his things methodically.

 

Joonmyun was cleaning the counter, eyes fixed on the book he had hidden in the alcove, when he rose from his seat, calling out a cheerful goodbye to the baker.

 

He waved back, unable to contain the smile that lit up his face when Tall Stranger stopped right outside the clear glass door, turning back to wave one last time before vanishing into the night.

 

The bakery was empty now, and there was no one to judge him if he did a happy little dance before closing his book, packing his things away with a big grin on his face.

 

He was all bubbly inside when he returned home, to a clean apartment.

 

Welcome home, Joonmyun! I cleaned up a little bit. Hope your day has been amazing! :)

 

“Hi, ghost! It has!”

 

He dropped his bag onto the couch, grinning when a yellow sticky note appeared beside his hand.

 

Call me Baekhyun! I’m glad you had a good day! You’re glowing! :)

 

-

 

It seemed that for every good day he had, the universe had to make up for it with a week of bad days.

 

Joonmyun was currently curled up beneath his covers, pointedly ignoring the homework that was screaming at him on his desk.

 

He did not want to leave his bed.

 

The tiredness weighed on him, seeping into every pore and all he wanted to do was sleep for the next twelve hours.

 

His mind was hazy as if everything in it was full of dust clouds and he felt nothing except the exhaustion.

 

Joonmyun buried his face into his pillows and inhaled.

 

He knew he had to get up. He had a shift at the bakery that afternoon and about two hours worth of homework to finish. Surely his panic would kick in soon and drag him out of bed.

 

He turned over, staring up at the blank white ceiling.

 

Minutes ticked by and he still made no move to get off the bed.

 

Something sharp poked him gently and he looked down to see a yellow post-it by his hand, the colour too bright for his sensitive eyes.

 

He rolled over, peering at the words.

 

Is it one of those days, Joonmyun? :(  I wish I knew how to help.

 

Joonmyun shrugged his shoulders.

 

Baekhyun was right.

 

It was indeed one of those days. One of those days where nothing seemed worth doing and he was completely alright with that feeling, even though his usual anxiety should kick his ass into high gear.

 

Even his anxiety did not seem to want to work on that day.

 

It took so much effort for him to even get out of bed, send off a text to tell Kyungsoo that he would not be coming in and then fall right back into bed.

 

Will you feel better after a shower?

 

Joonmyun closed his eyes. Even the thought of moving tired him. He shook his head and buried himself back under the covers.

 

His phone tinkled in his hand and he opened his eyes long enough to see Kyungsoo’s affirmative about him not going in to work.

 

He would thank his lucky stars that he had a boss who was completely aware of his mental health issues but his mind was too out of it to even go there.

 

Come on, Myeonnie. Even a damp towel would help.

 

“No,” he mumbled, curling up beneath the covers. He could just lay there for the entire day and hope that everything would look better again the next morning.

 

Myeonnieeeee. I want to smell the cupcakes. Why don’t you get up, wipe with a damp towel and bake? Will it help? Even a little?

 

Joonmyun poked at the sharp edge of the neon yellow sticky note for a bit. Perhaps Baekhyun was right. It would not be a cure but baking nearly always made him feel a little bit better.

 

He rolled out of bed, wincing when his leg hit the floor. He was still in no mood to take a full shower but the damp towel did help to wipe the sleepiness out of his eyes.

 

A bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough and an hour later, he could feel himself perking up just the tiniest bit.

 

The cookies smelled amazing and as he pulled them out of the oven, a yellow sticky note appeared on the counter.

 

They look really good, Joonmyun! Well done for getting out of bed!

 

It would seem like such a small gesture for most people but for Joonmyun, that little praise was enough for him to tackle a little bit more of his workload.

 

For now, it was good enough.

 

-

 

Those smell really good, Joonmyun. But why are you baking at 2 in the morning? Go to sleep!

 

Joonmyun blinked blearily at the yellow sticky glaring right at him. Where was he?

 

He shifted and bit back a curse when his waist twinged. Falling asleep at the kitchen table really was not his smartest move.

 

The smell of cupcakes finally registered in his brain and he bolted upright, practically sprinting to the oven.

 

To his relief, the tray of cupcakes was sitting on top of the counter, perfectly golden and cool, ready to be frosted.

 

The ghost must have pulled them out for him when he slept right through the timer going off.

 

Joonmyun rubbed his face, moving to wash his hands. The bright red numbers of his clock were telling him that it was way too late to be up frosting cupcakes, but when had Joonmyun ever listened to a clock?

 

He reached for his metal mixing bowl, dropping in a stick of butter. A cup of icing sugar and three drops of red food colouring created the most perfect pastel pink frosting.

 

Joonmyun popped his piping bag into a tall glass, dropping in the star tip. It made a pleasant clinging sound as he reached for his spatula.

 

He was just about to fill his piping bag when he saw another yellow sticky note, stuck to the side of the metal frosting bowl.

 

Are you stress baking again? What did your brother do this time? :(

 

Joonmyun laughed aloud as he scooped frosting into his bag. His ghost knew him too well. The only person who could make him stay up till the butt crack of dawn to make pastel pink cupcakes was his younger brother.

 

Jongdae was constantly getting in and out of trouble, sometimes with the law, and most times, thankfully, with the school. With their parents’ divorce still in the works, he seemed to have made it his personal mission to get permanently expelled from school.

 

“He spraypainted the back wall of his college with swear words. It was all very creative,” he said aloud, aware that if anyone heard him, they would have thought he was crazy.

 

Maybe he was going crazy, frosting pink cupcakes in his messy kitchen at nearly five in the morning, talking to a ghost who left cute yellow sticky notes around his home to encourage him.

 

“Mother refused to see the principal, so Dad went instead,” he could recall the scene in the office perfectly. The school had called him to pick up his brother because his father had gotten so angry in the office that he had left without Jongdae.

 

Jongdae had not even looked repentant when he arrived, merely glaring sullenly when Joonmyun led him to the car.

 

“Dae’s in his rebellious phase and I’m worried he won’t grow out of it.”

 

He swirled the last cupcake with a flourish, glaring down at the rows of perfectly piped frosting. A sprinkle of silver stars and they would be ready.

 

Perhaps he would take them to the bakery and hand them off to hungry students. Or binge eat them himself in front of the tv when he finally breaks down from the writers’ block that had been plaguing him.

 

Carefully, he transferred them to the bottom of his freezer. The second option sounded far more appealing.

 

-

 

Joonmyun was glowering down at his bowl of cake batter when he saw it, a quick little flash of yellow stuck on the fridge.

 

He sighed, setting down his whisk to reach for the sticky note. His mood had not improved even though he was already on his second batch of black forest cupcakes.

 

His fingers were sticky as he skimmed the note, absently whisking at his mixture.

 

What’s wrong? I haven’t seen you smile in a while. :(

 

Tall Stranger had not been by the bakery in a week and Joonmyun was sorely missing him. He had also received another call from Jongdae’s principal about his attendance record. His parents were currently not speaking to his brother and all calls from the school were forwarded to him.

 

He was almost positive he saw a grey hair the other day in the mirror from the amount of stress built up from his brother and the schoolwork piling up.

 

His writing had been stagnant, his characters jerky and unrealistic.

 

The only reprieve he had from his life was the appearance of Tall Stranger, whose name he had still yet to learn and his baking.

 

He had made so many cookies, cupcakes and pastries over the past few weeks that he had to give them away. His freezer simply could not fit any more cupcakes.

 

Yet here he was, whipping up another batch of Black Forest cupcakes while reading a yellow sticky note written by his friendly ghost.

 

He poured the batter out into their pans, making a mental note to start the filling the moment the cakes went into the ovens.

 

The blackberries smelled absolutely divine, sticky and sweet as he stirred them over the stove, the steam wafting through the air.

 

A yellow sticky note appeared on the wall before him.

 

Let’s talk, Joonmyun. You look stressed. :(

 

He sighed, setting the jam aside to cool. The piles of dishes sitting in the sink were glaring at him, practically screaming for him to wash them.

 

So he did, methodically wiping cake batter out of the bowls, soaping and rinsing.

 

Another yellow sticky note appeared on the wall before him, with only his name and a sad face.

 

Joonmyun? :(

 

“I’m fine, Baekhyun,” he said aloud, stacking the bowls by the sink to drain.

 

Right on cue, his timer went off and he pulled the cupcakes out of the oven, the smell of chocolate, sweet and heavy, filling the air.

 

He grimaced as he pulled them from their tins, setting all sixteen onto a wire rack to cool, reaching over to stir his jam, which was already at room temperature.

 

You’re not. P.S. those smell divine. :)

 

Joonmyun smiled softly, nudging the sticky note aside to set up his piping bags.

 

With the cloth bags set in tall glasses, he dumped heavy cream into his mixer, measuring and pouring in sugar and vanilla after.

 

It was almost second nature to him by now; he had made these cupcakes so often.

 

By the time the cupcakes were cool enough that he could core them, he was already done with the frosting, thick and deliciously creamy.

 

“Okay, maybe I’m not fine,” he mumbled as he stabbed the apple corer into the centre of the cupcake, carefully not to dig too deep.

 

He pulled out the tiny piece of cake, setting it on the side.

 

“I’m tired and stressed. And I can’t write, Baekhyun. The one other thing that I enjoy and thought I did well, I can’t do anymore.”

 

His fingers worked quickly, coring cupcakes and soon, there was a row of thirty-six cakes, including the previous batch, sitting before him, all with their own little caps of cake on the side.

 

Perhaps you need to spend more time outdoors, Joonmyun. Baking won’t help the inspiration come back. :(

 

Joonmyun tipped back his head, laughing as he filled one pastry bag with the blackberry jam. He twisted the top close and injected the jam into the nearest cupcake neatly.

 

“I haven’t the time to go running around outside. I have my job, and so many assignments to do.”

 

He squeezed the bag hard and a dollop of jam plopped into the next cake, nearly overflowing.

 

Yet here you are, baking cupcakes after your morning shift at a bakery. Surely you could afford some time to go out and spend with friends instead of holing up in here alone with your flour, butter and sugar.

 

Joonmyun laughed again, squeezing jam into the next row of cupcakes in rapid-fire.

 

Baekhyun was right there.

 

“But I’m not alone. I have you,” he answered, swiping a finger over the leftover jam and popping it into his mouth.

 

Awwww. As flattered as I am, you need real friends, Joonmyun. What about that cute tall stranger that you’ve been talking about?

 

Despite himself, Joonmyun flushed.

 

Tall Stranger was always in the back of his mind, even when he was baking. They had had more conversations since their first day and he had found out that he liked chocolate and berries.

 

That was one of the reasons he decided to go with Black Forest cupcakes.

 

He set down his piping bag, moving on to the next mixing bowl which had butter in it, already at room temperature. It was time to make the frosting.

 

Chocolate was always a crowd-pleaser, he reasoned as he dumped icing sugar and cocoa powder into the bowl. He could also make an easy syrup to pour over the top.

 

-

 

“You should bring more cupcakes!” Yixing made a pleased sound as he bit into the moist chocolate cake, humming with satisfaction. His boyfriend shook his head as he wiped at his mouth with a napkin, having just finished his own.

 

Joonmyun was pleased to see only crumbs left on his plate as Yixing had informed him that Yifan did not really like sweet things.

 

He shrugged and motioned to the rows upon rows of cupcakes he had just placed into the display with Kyungsoo’s permission.

 

“You’re welcome to have another.”

 

His heart stuttered when a tall silhouette appeared in front of the bakery’s glass door, too tall to be anyone else.

 

The bell tinkled cheerfully as Tall Stranger wiped his boots carefully on the welcome mat, heading straight for the counter, his smile almost blinding.

 

“Are we having free cupcake day?” He asked and Yixing blinked up at him, wiping at chocolate smeared over his lips.

 

“Joonmyun hyung brought them! You should try them!” He chirped, thanking Yifan with a nod at the napkin that he gave him.

 

Joonmyun shook his head at him, smiling back. His heart was thumping in his chest as Chanyeol slid some crumpled bills over the counter.

 

“A cupcake and an Espresso please.”

 

Joonmyun could not help noticing the dark circles beneath Tall Stranger’s eyes and wondered briefly if he was doing alright. It seemed that Yixing had noticed too as he popped in.

 

“Burned the midnight oil again, Chanyeol?”

 

Chanyeol.

 

His name was Chanyeol.

 

Joonmyun repeated the name in his head as he took the bills, smiling sympathetically when Tall Stranger, now with a name, nodded his head, ruffling his hair carelessly.

 

“Croissants,” Kyungsoo appeared behind Joonmyun, bearing a plate with jam and butter, and scaring the living hell out of the baker.

 

“Thanks, Soo,” Yixing cooed as he took the plate, his boyfriend already turning away with his phone to his ear.

 

Kyungsoo eyed Chanyeol warily before turning to Joonmyun.

 

“What was his order?”

 

“A cupcake and Espresso,” Chanyeol cut in before Joonmyun could answer, “but I’d like one of those croissants too please.”

 

He smiled at Kyungsoo and the baker walked away, still eyeing him.

 

“He’s scary,” Chanyeol leaned over the counter as Joonmyun turned to prepare his drink and he nearly laughed.

 

“Soo’s nice. He’s just not fond of people,” he replied as he started the coffee machine. Chanyeol grinned, opening his mouth as if to say something when the glass door banged open, loudly, startling the patrons of the bakery and Joonmyun winced.

 

“Please don’t do that,” he said as Jongdae stalked over to the counter, his face a thundercloud. He could feel the stares of the other customers as Jongdae dropped bills onto the marble countertop, glowering at his brother.

 

“Let me stay at your place tonight hyung, please.”

 

“Roomates?” Joonmyun asked sympathetically while shooting Chanyeol an apologetic look. He would have loved to spend a little more time talking to his crush but his little brother would always be his first priority.

 

Chanyeol, bless his soul, gave a little wave and shook his head as he slid his cup and cupcake over to him, mouthing that it was alright before wandering off to sit down beside Yifan and Yixing.

 

Joonmyun could not help the periodic glances that he kept casting over to Chanyeol and he was sure that Jongdae noticed them too, as he hung around the counter, waiting for him to get off work.

 

He definitely noticed Chanyeol packing up and calling out a goodbye before he left, the simple greeting making Joonmyun smile.

 

“So Chanyeol, huh?” Jongdae asked as they were walking out to the car and Joonmyun did not think he liked the smile that was curving on his brother’s lips very much,

 

“He’s just a friend,” he muttered, unable to hide his own smile.

 

“Sure hyung, sure,” Jongdae chortled.

 

Joonmyun shook his head as he started the car.

 

“Have you been going to classes?” He asked gently as they cruised down the road. He could almost feel Jongdae tense in the passenger seat, his brows furrowing.

 

“I hate school,” his brother muttered, folding his arms, “I hate my major and I hate all the people there.”

 

Joonmyun’s lips pressed together as he inferred the answer to his question on his own. Jongdae was in his final year. If he did not attend his classes, and his attendance rate remained as atrocious as it was, there was a chance that he might not graduate.

 

“You have to go to class, Dae,” he prodded. There was a fine line with Jongdae and he could never push too hard. He would clam up if scolded and that was the last thing that Joonmyun wanted.

 

When there was no reply, he glanced over to see his brother staring out of the window, presumably ignoring him.

 

Heaving a sigh, Joonmyun dropped the topic.

 

“I should warn you, my home has a friendly ghost,” he said instead and Jongdae sat up, his eyes widening.

 

“A what now?”

 

“A friendly ghost,” Joonmyun repeated patiently, “he communicates through post its and sometimes helps me pull things out of the oven.”

 

Jongdae was staring at him as if he had lost his mind and Joonmyun shrugged to himself. If he did not believe him, he would soon enough.

 

//

 

Dinner was fried chicken and a lot of soju, enough that Joonmyun was just tipping over into the slightly tipsy zone.

 

“Do you think… mom and dad are breaking up because of us?” Jongdae’s voice was tiny as he curled up on the couch, cuddling up next to Joonmyun. He had not done that since he was much, much younger and Joonmyun was so full and warm that he hugged him closer.

 

“No, Dae. They just don’t love each other anymore. That has nothing to do with us,” he replied, his words slightly slurred. Jongdae was heavy but so comfortable in his arms that he thought they could both fall asleep like that.

 

“I thought they’d stop loving us, y’know, if they left,” Jongdae mumbled, pressing his nose into Joonmyun’s neck. Joonmyun awwed to himself and ruffled his brother’s hair.

 

“Is that why you’ve been acting out? You thought you could bring them back?” He asked and Jongdae nodded, hiding his face. Joonmyun’s heart stuttered and he dropped a kiss onto his head.

 

“Dae, they’ve already made up their minds,” he rubbed his hand and down Jongdae’s back as his brother sniffled, his heart clenching immediately at the sound.

 

“You getting expelled will change nothing. It’s not your job to bring them back together. You have a life outside of them, Dae. You have a future. They’ll be okay and we will too.”

 

Jongdae nodded slowly and Joonmyun wiped his tears with his thumb, smiling down at him.

 

“Will you go to classes now?” He asked gently and Jongdae made a face, plopping on top of him hard enough to pull a grunt from his brother.

 

“If you’d grow some balls and ask out Chanyeol,” he slurred and Joonmyun shoved him, laughing.

 

It was when he was tucking Jongdae into bed when he saw the post-it note, practically glowing in the dark.

 

Your brother’s cute. :)  It read.

 

Joonmyun stared, wondering if he was seeing things. He was slightly tipsy after all.

 

“Please don’t,” he said aloud, soft enough that he would not wake Jongdae and the next post it note appeared on top of Jongdae’s head.

 

It was hilarious.

 

Awwww. Is he single?

 

Oh god. Joonmyun plucked the post-it note from his brother’s head, scowling.

 

“You can’t have him,” he said stiffly, his eyes narrowing, “you’re a ghost.”

 

That won’t stop me *wink* Hey, wake him up and get him to take a shower.

 

Joonmyun yelped and his stomach dropped. He snatched the post-it note off hard enough that Jongdae stirred.

 

“No perving on my brother!”

 

“Hyung?” Jongdae mumbled sleepily and Joonmyun looked down at him.

 

Oops.

 

“Are you talking to your ghost friend?” He slurred and Joonmyun nodded, nudging him back.

 

“Yes, he’s being weird. Go back to sleep.”

 

//

 

“So you really do have a ghost friend,” Joonmyun was regretting the amount of soju he had had the night before when Jongdae appeared, freshly showered and looking a lot more alive than he was, holding a yellow post-it note in hand.

 

“Please don’t tell me you found that in the shower,” he pleaded, his mind still half gone even as he pulled muffins from the oven.

 

“It was on the shower door,” Jongdae’s eyes lit upon the muffin tray and he crowed, “yay, muffins!”

 

“You’re not freaked out by it?” Joonmyun asked as he laid the muffins out to cool, slapping his brother’s hand away before he could steal one, “they’re hot, you idiot.”

 

Jongdae pouted as he wandered off to the fridge, pouring orange juice into a glass.

 

“How did he die?” He asked as he rummaged through Joonmyun’s fridge, coming up with two eggs.

 

Joonmyun stopped.

 

He had never really thought about it. Baekhyun had been around for so long that he had thought of him as a part of the house.

 

Would he be offended if he asked?

 

The question immediately slipped his mind when he saw Jongdae fall onto his butt, yelping in surprise.

 

“What the hell?”

 

“Ya, Baekhyun,” he said sternly. He had seen the chair move, just a touch before Jongdae had tried to sit down and a yellow post it appeared on the fridge.

 

I can’t help it. He has such a nice ass.

 

Joonmyun’s eyes narrowed and he ripped the post-it off before Jongdae could see it.

 

“Get your ass cooking, Dae. I have a shift today and I don’t want to be late!”

 

-

 

Joonmyun was in a decently good mood as he stacked pastries in the display, humming to himself.

 

Yixing had popped in earlier to get a couple of Danishes for himself and his boyfriend before rushing off, claiming some sort of project meeting.

 

The bell on the door tinkled as Joonmyun was serving a group of students and he looked up to see Chanyeol’s figure standing in the doorway. He was smiling as brightly as ever but he looked fidgety, as he walked up to stand in line behind the students, towering over them.

 

“Good afternoon, Chanyeol,” Joonmyun smiled as he counted change with practised ease.

 

“Hi, Joonmyun,” Chanyeol stuttered a little as he moved forward in line.

 

Joonmyun frowned as he gestured for the lady before him to move aside. He went through the rest of the students as quickly as he could, eager to get to Chanyeol.

 

The latter was tapping his fingers rhythmically on the counter as he waited for Joonmyun to hand out the coffees and pastries to the waiting students.

 

He looked unusually nervous, his lower lip caught between his teeth.

 

“Is everything alright?” Joonmyun asked, concerned.

 

He had never seen Chanyeol look so wary before.

 

“Ye-Yes. Everything’s fine,” the taller man stuttered, dropping his eyes and Joonmyun frowned.

 

Grow some balls, hyung.

 

Jongdae’s voice echoed in his head and he reached out, covering Chanyeol’s tapping hand with his own.

 

The man jerked, flinching and Joonmyun released him almost immediately, his cheeks hot.

 

“Sorry, I just-. I wanted to calm you down.”

 

Chanyeol was blushing too, as he put his hand back down on the counter.

 

“I’m okay,” he reassured him hurriedly but Joonmyun could still feel his burning cheeks as he turned away and had to turn back again to ask for his order.

 

He kept his head down for the rest of his shift, too embarrassed to even look in Chanyeol’s direction.

 

Until it was time to leave.

 

He was just casually taking off his apron, ready to put it away when Chanyeol came back to the counter.

 

He looked even more nervous than before, fidgeting with the rings on his fingers as he waited for Joonmyun to pack up.

 

“Can I help you?” Joonmyun asked, his cheeks still a little flushed from their earlier interaction and Chanyeol seemed to flail a little.

 

“I um, ah. Um, will you go on a date with me?” The man blurted, his cheeks glowing bright red and Joonmyun stared, unsure if he heard correctly.

 

“You- want to go on a date with me?” He asked, incredulous. His heart was beating at a hundred miles per hour and he could hardly hear past his blood roaring in his ears.

 

“Yes.”

 

Was this really happening? Joonmyun thought he might be dreaming.

 

“I- You’re serious?” He questioned again and Chanyeol’s embarrassment broke into a fond smile.

 

“Yes, Joonmyun. I want to go on a date with you.”

 

Joonmyun thought his heart might leap out of his chest, he was feeling so much joy. If he was not in the middle of his workplace, he might even do a happy dance.

 

"I'd love to," he replied, trying to keep his cool. He was sure he was gushing anyway as Chanyeol's smile widened and he pulled out his phone.

 

"Can I have your number? I'll text you."

 

Chanyeol walked him to his car after exchanging numbers, his eyes practically crescent moons with happiness.

 

"I'll see you tomorrow?" Joonmyun hardly dared to hope but Chanyeol nodded, so enthusiastically that his hair bounced into his eyes. Joonmyun could have cried.

 

He was so cute.

 

//

 

hey, this is chanyeol :)

 

Joonmyun smiled down at his phone, still in a state of disbelief. His coat and things were still piled on the couch and all he could do was stare at the message lighting up his screen.

 

hi

 

He texted back quickly, his heart stuttering when three dots appeared at the bottom of the screen.

 

Did cute guy ask you out? You're grinning so happily to yourself :)

 

The sharp corner of the post-it note startled him and Joonmyun looked down to see a happy smiley face drawn on the note.

 

"Yes," he grinned. He was not sure if Baekhyun could see it but he held up his phone. A gust of cold air brushed over his neck and he shivered.

 

Cute :) I'm happy for you Joonmyun!

 

His phone buzzed in his hand and Joonmyun swiped open the message quickly.

 

how does friday sound? What time do you get off? I'll pick you up for dinner :)

 

Joonmyun could not help it. He squealed a little to himself before sitting up and replying quickly.

 

sure! I finish at 7. where are we going?

 

it's a surprise *wink*

 

 im looking forward to it!

 

-

 

Chanyeol appeared much, much earlier than seven, smiling brightly in Joonmyun's direction. He ordered a coffee and three of Joonmyun's macarons before disappearing off to a corner of the bakery to do his own work.

 

Joonmyun was jittery throughout his entire shift, half from nerves and excitement. Yixing had noticed it right away when he had come in.

 

"Did Chanyeol finally ask you out?" He grinned, dimpling when Joonmyun nearly dropped his change. Joonmyun nodded, the smile spreading across his lips so wide that he thought he should be at least mildly embarrassed by how excited he was.

 

"I'm so glad! The two of you are perfect for each other!" Yixing squealed, loud enough that some patrons turned to look.

 

Joonmyun shushed him hurriedly but could hardly contain his giggle of delight.

 

He was so giddy with excitement that even Kyungsoo had picked up on his mood.

 

"Scored yourself a date huh?" Even with the dull tone, his boss' eyes were shining and he patted his shoulder with a floury hand before vanishing into the back kitchen.

 

When it was time to go, Chanyeol was standing by the counter, beaming.

 

"Where are we going?" Joonmyun asked curiously as they walked out of the bakery. The night air was a little chilly and he was shivering a little, even in his nice sweater.

 

"It's a surprise," Chanyeol replied. He rested a big hand onto Joonmyun's shoulder and whipped it away immediately.

 

In the dimness of the streetlights, Joonmyun could see him flush.

 

"Is that okay?" He asked softly and Joonmyun nodded, warmth pooling in his chest.

 

They walked down the street together, occasionally bumping shoulders and Joonmyun may have leaned in a little close in order to steal some warmth.

 

Autumn in Seoul was cold.

 

"You cold?" Chanyeol asked as he turned them down an alleyway, and they could both see the French restaurant's name up in lights, glowing with soft comfortable warmth.

 

"We're here already, aren't we?" Joonmyun ducked into the restaurant, smiling at the server. Chanyeol was close behind him.

 

"We have a reservation under Park,' he said to the host and Joonmyun raised his eyebrows.

 

"Why'd you choose a French restaurant?" He asked as the host led them to their seats, a little private booth in the back.

 

Chanyeol's cheeks seemed a little red in the orange light as he slid into the booth, Joonmyun settling in opposite him.

 

"I heard they have good desserts. And you like baking, so," he trailed off, a little unsure and Joonmyun's heart filled.

 

"I do enjoy dessert," he smiled, reaching over to cover Chanyeol's hand with his. This time, the man did not pull away.

 

It really was a giant hand, so much larger than his own and so warm too. Joonmyun could feel his face heating up a little when Chanyeol turned his hand over, catching his fingers together.

 

"You're so tiny," he grinned, "it's hard to imagine that you're older than me."

 

At that, Joonmyun huffed.

 

"I'm normal sized, you oaf. You're the giant."

 

Conversation was easy, not stilted or awkward and Joonmyun really enjoyed himself, especially when dessert came.

 

They ordered a créme caramel and a tiramisu to share and they were both absolutely divine. The créme caramel had the most wonderfully soft custard and the caramel was sweet but not overly so. Joonmyun was already devising a tiramisu cupcake in his mind as they left the restaurant, their bellies and hearts full.

 

"What are you thinking about?" Chanyeol asked when he hugged himself, smiling happily. He was smiling too, soft and fond beneath the street lamps.

 

"Cupcakes and you," he replied without thinking and Chanyeol's eyes crinkled at the corners when he grinned.

 

"May I walk you home?" He asked and Joonmyun nodded. He did not want the date to end.

 

Their hands brushed against each other's as they walked and with a burst of courage, Joonmyun laced their fingers together.

 

He looked up just as Chanyeol looked down, their eyes locking. A gentle squeeze on his hand told him all he needed to know and they kept their hands linked all the way up to Joonmyun's apartment.

 

"I want to see you again," Joonmyun blurted out when they stopped in front of his door. They already saw each other every day, what with Chanyeol coming in to get his coffee and breakfast but the other man seemed to get what he meant.

 

"I do too," he replied, deep and fond.

 

"Maybe next friday?" Joonmyun suggested and Chanyeol made a face.

 

"That's too long. Wednesday?"

 

Joonmyun laughed, poking him in his side gently.

 

"Wednesday," he confirmed, "come over and I'll make you food."

 

"And dessert?" Chanyeol was leaning closer now, his lips curled into a smile and Joonmyun could feel his heart rate beginning to pick up.

 

"And dessert," he said. They met in the middle, Joonmyun reaching up to curl his fingers into Chanyeol's hair.

 

The kiss was short and brief but Joonmyun could still hear his heart thumping in his ears when they pulled apart, Chanyeol grinning like the cat that got the cream.

 

"I'll text you," he murmured softly and Joonmyun nodded, stepping forward to wrap him in a hug.

 

"Thank you for the wonderful night," he called as Chanyeol walked away, only stopping to blow him a kiss from the lift.

 

-

 

Was your date bad? :(

 

The yellow post-it appeared on the kitchen wall as Joonmyun whipped out his baking supplies, his mind whirling with possibilities.

 

“Oh no, no! It was amazing,” he laughed as he poured coffee beans into the grinder. He had to get the cupcake idea out before it vanished into nothing.

 

The vanilla cake base was easy and required almost no thought. He put the cupcakes into the oven and started on the coffee syrup.

 

The smell of coffee drifted through the air as he dissolved sugar and the freshly ground coffee powder in hot water, melding with the delicious scent of baking cupcakes.

 

Why are you baking then? Shouldn’t you be sleeping?

 

Joonmyun barely cast a glance at the post-it note as he added in a splash of coffee liqueur, the smell giving him an extra boost of energy.

 

He set the syrup aside and moved on immediately to the frosting, thanking his lucky stars that he had thought to buy mascarpone cheese from the grocery store.

 

“I’m making a cupcake. Tiramisu cupcakes,” he replied to the air as he dumped mascarpone cheese into his bowl, followed closely by sugar, espresso powder and a little bit more of that coffee liqueur, “we had tiramisu today at a French restaurant and it was amazing, even though tiramisu is an Italian dessert.”

 

So it’s for you to remember this date? :)

 

“Yes it is,” Joonmyun smiled as he whipped up his heavy cream. He could really smell the coffee now as it sat cooling. The cupcakes were almost ready by the time his frosting was finished. He allowed the cupcakes to cool a little before brushing on the coffee syrup.

 

The smell intensified immediately, filling his entire kitchen.

 

It was amazing.

 

God, those smell good. I’m drooling, Joonmyun.

 

Joonmyun stuck his frosting into the fridge, electing to allow the cupcakes to cool a little longer before he piped the frosting on. He did not want the warm cupcakes to melt the frosting and make it slippery.

 

He washed up as quickly as he could, his pots and bowls banging around as he checked on his cupcakes periodically.

 

Once cooled, he piped the frosting on in a neat mound, dusting cocoa powder onto the frosting as a final finishing touch.

 

“Oh,” he whispered to himself as he took a bite.

 

It was magical.

 

He could see the restaurant again, its funny orange lighting playing over Chanyeol’s face as he chattered on animatedly about his music. The plate of tiramisu between them was nearly finished, left with only crumbs and specks of cocoa.

 

Finally satisfied, he wrapped up the rest of his cupcakes, preparing to take them in to work tomorrow.

 

Hopefully, the others would love them too.

 

-

 

“What’s this?” Chanyeol smiled when Joonmyun pushed a plate over the counter before he had even opened his mouth for his order.

 

The tiramisu cupcake he had made the night before was sitting on it, completely perfect. Yixing and Yifan had both given him thumbs up when they tried it and Joonmyun did not know why he was so nervous about giving it to Chanyeol.

 

“I made a cupcake for you,” he took the money that Chanyeol handed him, clenching his fists nervously as the man leaned over, taking a sniff of the cupcake.

 

“Wow, it smells good,” Chanyeol picked up the confection, turning it round as if to inspect it, Joonmyun’s nerves growing worst in his stomach.

 

“Oh, just try it,” he pushed, and the man gave him an amused look. His cheeks flushed bright red as he watched him sink his teeth into the frosting, biting down into the cake.

 

Chanyeol was just teasing him now.

 

His eyes widened and he let out a moan of satisfaction.

 

“Joonmyun, this is amazing!”

 

“It’s for our date. A memory,” Joonmyun did not know why he felt he had to explain but seeing the way Chanyeol’s eyes soften, he seemed to understand.

 

“That good?” He smiled, reaching over to wrap long fingers over Joonmyun’s hand. Joonmyun nodded, staring up at him. He was sure his eyes had to be glittering or perhaps he was already projecting heart eyes.

 

“I’m looking forward to our date, on Wednesday already,” Chanyeol confessed as Joonmyunt turned to make his coffee. Joonmyun could feel his gaze lingering as he poured him a cute little milk foam heart in his latte.

 

“So am I,” he said, nudging the cup across. Chanyeol’s smile widened as he took the cup, holding his cupcake in his other hand like it was something precious.

 

“Please make me more cupcakes,” he dimpled and Joonmyun laughed, watching him weave around the other tables precariously to his own table.

 

He could hardly wait for their second date.

 

-

 

“Why are your bins full of yellow post its?” Joonmyun looked up from setting the table to see Chanyeol hovering over him, big eyes curious.

 

“Oh, um, I kind of have a friendly ghost friend?” He was well aware of how stupid that sounded the moment the words tumbled from his mouth and the look that Chanyeol gave him was equal parts amused and incredulous.

 

“A friendly ghost?” Long fingers curled around the plate he was holding and set it down, warmth lingering on his skin.

 

The contact still managed to make Joonmyun tingle like it was the first time.

 

“His name is Baekhyun and he’s been here ever since I got the apartment,” he explained, pointing to the nearest bin.

 

Chanyeol peered over the edge of the table, squinting down at the black writing.

 

“Baek…hyun?” Joonmyun looked up at the change of tone in Chanyeol’s voice and was immediately worried when he saw his face pale a little.

 

“Yes, Baekhyun. Do you know him?”

 

Chanyeol drifted back to him, wrapping an arm around Joonmyun’s waist. His voice was low as he said, “he appeared in the newspapers.”

 

Joonmyun was starkly reminded of the question Jongdae had asked.

 

“How did he… die?” He leaned into Chanyeol’s arms, the food forgotten.

 

Chanyeol’s face was grim when he replied.

 

“He-.”

 

-

 

“You never told me,” Joonmyun said to the empty air once Chanyeol was gone.

 

They had changed the subject quickly after Chanyeol realised how much it had soured Joonmyun’s mood.

 

And Joonmyun tried to be upbeat for him.

 

But all he could think about was how Baekhyun never told him.

 

A yellow post-it appeared beside his hand and Joonmyun looked at it.

 

Come to the nearest mirror.

 

The nearest mirror was the one in the hallway, tall and wide.

 

Joonmyun looked into it.

 

At first, he could see nothing unusual, just his reflection with dark circles and rumpled hair.

 

Then wind brushed against his ear and then he could see, the shape of a young man standing before the mirror, just at his side, staring back at him.

 

“Baekhyun?” He could hardly believe his eyes.

 

A post-it note materialized on the mirror and the man in the mirror smiled back sadly at him.

 

Hello, Joonmyun.

 

“How did you- are you in the mirror?” Joonmyun thought he might be going a little crazy as he took a step forward, touching the mirrored glass. Baekhyun’s hand lifted to mirror him and Joonmyun’s breath caught when he saw the scars.

 

There were so many of them, crisscrossing down what would have been perfectly smooth skin. He shuddered to think about the amount of pain, blood and tears that could have caused such scars.

 

A second post-it note appeared.

 

I’m behind you. You just can’t see me.

 

A soft puff of air blew against his ear and Joonmyun jumped.

 

“Where are all these notes coming from?” He asked. For some reason, he had never thought of it.

 

Your desk :) I steal them from your stash.

 

Joonmyun stood there for a long moment, just staring at the face in the mirror. Baekhyun was young.

 

Almost heartbreakingly so.

 

You must have so many questions.

 

“Why did you never tell me?” He turned back to the subject at hand, trying to shake just how much Baekhyun reminded him of his own brother

 

He felt strangely betrayed though he had never thought to ask the question before. Some irrational part of him had just never questioned how and why there was a ghost haunting his apartment.

 

You never asked. And it didn’t seem very important.

 

“Not important?” Joonmyun exploded. His heart trembled at the very thought that Baekhyun could be his little brother. How alone did he have to feel in order to commit such acts, to leave such scars on his own body?

 

“Baekhyun, you died. How can it be unimportant? And how old are you? You can’t be much older than my brother!”

 

I’m not. The man in the mirror shrugged and Joonmyun could not decide if he wanted to burst into tears or break the mirror.


How could anyone think so little of their own life?

 

“Why can I see you now? I’ve never seen you before,” he struggled to keep the emotion out of his voice, but it cracked, bleeding all over his tone.

 

You’ve always been able to see me. I’ve just stayed out of the way.

 

“Why?” Joonmyun did not know what else to say.

 

Look at you now. I didn’t want you to feel sorry for me. I made my choice and it ended like this.

 

Baekhyun shrugged his thin shoulders, his eyes staring unflinchingly at Joonmyun and the baker made a distressed sound.

 

“You don’t regret it? You were so bright and you had a wonderful future before you.”

 

The man, really just a teen just entering manhood tilted his head. His glittering eyes were full of sorrow as he turned over his hand, exposing the scarred skin underneath.

 

You know, it was just an escape at that time. There was so much pressure that I bowed. I felt so alone as if no one could understand me. Every scar was a tally mark for a day which I was a failure.

 

I regretted it when I woke up. I saw my body in the bathtub, I went to my own funeral. I saw the lives of the people I didn’t know I’d touched. And then you moved in.

 

You reminded me so much of me, it was terrifying. I couldn’t let someone else go down the road I did. So I stayed.

 

Joonmyun’s eyes were filling with tears as he read the writing squished onto three little post-it notes. He had never questioned why Baekhyun existed, much less wondered how he died and now that he knew, it broke his heart.

 

Baekhyun was his brother’s age.

 

If he had lived, if he had not done what he did, perhaps he could have been Jongdae’s friend. He could have lived that brilliant life that everyone else had expected him to. But the darkness claimed so much.

 

Baekhyun had been a tiny flame wavering in spite of the wind. He could have prevailed, turned into a bonfire but the darkness weighed so much.

 

The darkness touched him too and Joonmyun could understand how he had found solace in the silver of a blade, the bright spark of pain just like he sought solace in his mixing bowls and cake batter.

 

The pain outside often helped to outweigh the pain inside.

 

He could almost see it in his mind’s eye, a boy so weighed down by his demons, curled up in his bedroom with tears spilling like little streams down his face, a line of red welling up on the white of his skin.

 

They would fade quickly, shallow cuts always did. But he wanted to see them, one after another. And then on the worst day, the day he could not hang on any longer, the splash of red that filled tainted the bathwater, the silver blade falling from his hand.

 

You’re crying.

 

Joonmyun could hardly see the words on the post it, they were so blurred by the tears in his eyes. He could feel something cold brushing along his back, and Baekhyun’s face in the mirror, smiling sadly. His unscarred hand was resting on his back, the source of the chill.

 

“I’m sorry,” he murmured pathetically and the chill shifted.

 

Baekhyun was still smiling as more post-it notes appeared on the mirror.

 

What for? You didn’t do anything. You couldn’t have done anything.

 

“Doesn’t make me wish I could have,” he murmured and Baekhyun patted him again.

 

Don’t be sorry, Myeonie. What’s done is already done. I can’t help myself and neither can you. The man smiled, and Joonmyun felt something cold brush against his cheek.

 

But I can help you, and that’s all that matters now.

 

Joonmyun wiped at his tears away.

 

“Thank you,” he murmured softly and Baekhyun brightened.

 

No, thank you. For allowing me to be in your life to pick you up. I couldn’t help myself then, but I can raise you now.

 

-

 

Things went back to normal after that, Baekhyun continuing to leave post-it notes in the most random of places.

 

After realising that Baekhyun had been using his stash of post-it notes, Joonmyun bought a special stack of post-its, shaped like bunnies and kitties just for him and they made him smile every time he saw them.

 

Chanyeol got a kick out of them too, the first time he saw Baekhyun using them. The music student even met Baekhyun in the mirror, Joonmyun introducing them.

 

“He reminds me of you,” Chanyeol rumbled once when they were lying on the couch together, Joonmyun snuggled into his arms.

 

A movie was playing in the background, but they were more preoccupied with lazily making out than actually watching it.

 

Joonmyun hummed, snuggling deeper into Chanyeol’s arms. He tilted up as Chanyeol leaned down to steal another kiss.

 

Chanyeol had sent him articles and newspapers, all that he could find on Baekhyun and Joonmyun could see how Baekhyun was afraid he would do something similar.

 

They were so very alike in how they thought and worked.

 

“Are you worried about me?” He asked, turning to nose at Chanyeol’s neck. He could not imagine why.

 

He had been so much happier lately. Chanyeol was the light of his life and Jongdae had been visiting often too, just to steal cupcakes and occasionally his bed.

 

But Joonmyun felt lighter, happier than he had felt in months.

 

His depression had been still snuck up on him some days and he still had bad days. But they were better now.

 

Chanyeol had been convincing him to visit a therapist and he was still on the fence about it.

 

Baekhyun especially seemed to have noticed his brighter mood, commenting on it often with the bunny and kitty post its.

 

The two of you are cute :)

 

Joonmyun looked down to see a bunny post-it stuck to his hand and he pulled it off, turning to stick it playfully on Chanyeol’s nose.

 

“Yah!” Chanyeol yelped, releasing Joonmyun to tug the sticky note off.

 

He tackled him, pinning him to the couch as Joonmyun laughed, long fingers digging into his sides to tickle him.

 

Unknown to them, Baekhyun was standing behind the couch, watching them with a smile on his face.

 

 

-

 

“You know I should really keep a handheld mirror with me all the time,” Joonmyun joked as he glanced into the mirror.

 

He had set up a little mirror beside him in the kitchen so that he could see Baekhyun. The ghost was sitting on the kitchen table, watching him work with a funny smile on his face.

 

You won’t need it. I’m leaving soon.

 

The dough Joonmyun had been working on thudded heavily into the bottom of the bowl.

 

“What?” He said a bit too loudly. His heart was picking up speed, beating too fast and air was coming in short.

 

Baekhyun’s face creased in concern and his phone skittered across the counter towards him.

 

Call Chanyeol.

 

You can’t leave now, I just got better!” Joonmyun argued, ignoring the phone. He did not need Chanyeol, did he?

 

He was not a child.

 

We’ll talk after you call Chanyeol. Baekhyun’s lips were pressed in a thin line and the phone was nudged into his hand.

 

Numbly, Joonmyun pressed the number he had on speed dial almost on autopilot.

 

Chanyeol appeared so quickly, gathering him into his arms to talk him down.

 

“Breathe for me,” Chanyeol murmured, his weight comforting in its warmth. Joonmyun exhaled, burying his face into his chest. Fingers traced through his hair and he relaxed into the rhythm of Chanyeol’s beating heart.

 

“Do you need me here? While you talk?” Chanyeol asked when he had finally calmed down. Joonmyun shook his head. He could do this.

 

“I’ll be in the next room, alright?” A soft kiss pressed against his head and then he was gone, disappeared into the living room. A moment later, he heard the TV turn on. But Joonmyun had more important things on his mind.

 

“Do you have to go?” Joonmyun could just barely see him, the glimmering figure of a young man in the mirror. He looked so young, only Jongdae’s age that his heart throbbed at the thought of him being all alone on the other side.

 

You’re happy now, Myeonnie. You don’t need me anymore. The appearance of the post-it note on the mirror made him smile but it was tinged with sadness and longing. He did not want his friend to go.

 

Baekhyun had been such a massive source of encouragement and motivation but he had also been his friend.

 

A friend that he could hardly bear to lose.

 

The man in the mirror was smiling fondly at him, waving.

 

We'll see each other again, Myeonnie. I promise. In another life, you might even be my hyung.

 

Joonmyun fought down the tears that were balling up in his throat, sniffling.

 

"I don't want you to go," he sounded incredibly childish, even to his ears and Chanyeol was only just in the next room, pretending to potter about.

 

Strong arms wrapped around him and he felt lips press against his neck. Hot tears spilled over and he was full on crying, trembling in Chanyeol's arms.

 

Myeonnie. Baekhyun's tone was sad as he made a funny gesture with his hands. Joonmyun felt wind brush against his hair and sobbed harder, burying himself into Chanyeol's chest.

 

Myeonnie, I want to rest now. I stayed because I wanted to help you, a soft breeze ruffled his hair, I stayed because I saw myself in you and I wanted to stop you from making the same mistake I did.

 

"But I need you," Joonmyun mumbled even as Chanyeol kissed the top of his head, rocking him gently in his arms.

 

You did, Baekhyun was smiling, proudly, but now you don't anymore.

 

You have an incredible boyfriend, a job that you enjoy and your brother's coming around. You're good now, you're happy. And you don't need me anymore.

 

"But-," Joonmyun wished he had more words, wished that he knew how to beg him to stay. He hated that Baekhyun was right.

 

He was happy.

 

Jongdae was finally going to school regularly, going home for dinners. They were hanging out every Friday with movies and drinks and he had reconciled with their parents.

 

Chanyeol was an amazing boyfriend, talking Joonmyun through his anxiety attacks when he got them, rarely now, bringing him to the therapist that he was now seeing after copious amounts of kissing and convincing.

 

His depression was under control now and he no longer binged ice cream on his couch alone as often as he used to. When he did, it was with Chanyeol and over a movie that his boyfriend insisted that they watched.

 

Joonmyun smiled through his tears when he remembered the Iron Man marathon that he had been made to sit through after Chanyeol discovered that he had not seen any of the movies.

 

"Joonmyun?" Chanyeol was petting him now, stroking long fingers through his hair tenderly. His gaze was soft, understanding as Joonmyun tried to put himself back together.

 

Are you okay?

 

Joonmyun nodded as he straightened, one hand still gripping Chanyeol's arm. He could do this.

 

He could let Baekhyun go.

 

"You should go," he breathed, hardly daring to believe the words that came out of his mouth.

 

"You're right. I am happy now. I can get through these on my own and with this," he tugged at Chanyeol gently, "man in my life."

 

"You're right Baekhyun, and thank you. Thank you for being here when no one else was. I needed you and now I don't anymore. You saved me. You can rest now."

 

There were more tears pouring down his face and Baekhyun's eyes were suspiciously shiny as he nodded, waving.

 

Be happy, Myeonnie. I’ll see you in our next life!

 

His image was flickering, wavering and becoming more and more translucent and Joonmyun was having a hard time keeping himself together.

 

Just before the image faded completely away, a yellow post-it popped up on the mirror, complete with tiny handwriting and his signature smiley face.

 

I'll come back and date your brother *wink* :)

 

Joonmyun laughed, his tears falling like opals as Chanyeol held him close, his chest rumbling too, with laughter.

 

"Don't you dare!"

 

Watch me. :)

 

-

Joonmyun was surprised when the doorbell rang on a Thursday evening. Chanyeol had a key and almost always just let himself in now.

 

He smiled to himself.

 

His home was not as empty as he thought it would be with Baekhyun gone. His boyfriend was always over, snuggling up onto the couch watching some version of the Avengers movie or when he was in the mood, some romantic comedy that made them both laugh until they had stitches.

 

Perhaps it was Yixing, come to drop off some of his baking experiments for Joonmyun to try. The younger man had recently gotten into baking as well and Joonmyun was delighted to mentor him through the difficult bits and with so many of them baking at once, there was always more than enough desserts for everyone.

 

He set down the frosting bowl and hurried to the front door.

 

"Jongdae?" His eyes widened when he saw the man standing beside his brother, smiling shyly.

 

"Hi hyung!" Jongdae did not seem to notice his shock, nudging him aside to push into his apartment

 

“What- Who?” He spluttered, still staring that the man outside his door.

 

“This is Baekhyun, hyung. Stop staring at him, you’re creeping him out.”

 

Baekhyun.

 

Joonmyun could not help the mildly hysterical laughter that bubbled up inside him.

 

“And what are you doing here?” He asked as he stepped aside to let Baekhyun in, the man glancing at him oddly.

 

“We wanted to watch a movie. You have the better TV,” Jongdae said, matter of factly, heading straight for the couch.

 

“And Baekhyun is?” Joonmyun asked as he continued his staring.

 

It was unnerving just how much he looked like his Baekhyun, with the shy smile and tiny stature. He could remember Baekhyun’s parting words even as he faded away.

 

“My boyfriend, hyung. It’s okay right?” Jongdae looked up at him, unsure, and Joonmyun burst out laughing, completely unaware of the startled look Baekhyun gave him. Even Jongdae seemed confused by his mirth.

 

“Yes, yes, the two of you have fun,” he wheezed, walking away back to his kitchen.

 

That bastard really did it. He really came back to date his brother.