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when the party's over

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Baekhyun takes steps back blindly, repeating the same words over and over again, like a mantra, "I missed you, I missed you so much..."

The man takes the lead in guiding them towards the bedroom, because Baekhyun refuses to leave his warm chest, nuzzling the material of his shirt like a big, happy cat. "Little bird, come on," comes a chuckle from Chanyeol, who is trying to reach his backpack.

Baekhyun gets rid of it, so they can lay on the bed. He traps Chanyeol's legs between his, pushing himself up until he sits on the older's chest. Warm hands rest on his back, going up and down in comforting movements.

 "Hyung, I really want to make this work," Baekhyun confesses, with his chin resting on the beat of the man's heart and hopeful eyes. Chanyeol doesn't speak out his answer, but he nods. Looking at him with the same hopeful eyes he possesses, but they have a bit of doubt in them too.

They stay in silence for a while, Baekhyun doesn't let go to even change out of his clothes. The jeans are starting to hurt his stretched legs a bit. He's lost in thought when two hands grab his middle to pull him up, until they're nose to nose. The boy blinks quickly, taken by surprise, but then Chanyeol's lips fall on his.

Past Baekhyun's lips falls a surprised yelp. Because, he's been saying how much he missed the older, but Chanyeol is really showing it, fervently letting his tongue explore the smaller's surprised mouth.

Baekhyun mewls at the continuous loss of air, letting himself go numb inside Chanyeol's arms.

The boy's hands get lost in Chanyeol's black curls, while their kiss gets softer. If earlier, the house was filled with their shouting, now they can only hear the loud sounds between their pecks, and their giggles.

Baekhyun pulls back first, "Wait, my jeans are too uncomfortable."

The bigger man watches him fumble with his belt, trying to take his pants off without rising up from the bed. He laughs shortly.

He stands up to throw his shirt around the room too. Then, when Baekhyun is ready to leave the bed and find some comfortable clothes, he grabs his hand and drags him back before he can take one step. Baekhyun falls on him with a surprised yelp. "It's okay like this," Chanyeol says, turning on the bed until his back ends up to the smaller.

 

Baekhyun gets the idea, and he's happy to comply. He embraces the older from behind, his cold skin fitting perfectly with Chanyeol's burning one.

 

/////



The younger is the first to wake up, surprisingly. Chanyeol is usually up long before him. But this time, he remembers feeling the man wake up and go back after making himself comfortable in his arms a few times during the morning.

He doesn't say it, but Baekhyun begins to think that Chanyeol has missed him just as much as he did.

The younger doesn't want to get up yet. With his chin resting between the space of Chanyeol's shoulder and neck, he stays like this some more, listening to the man's peaceful exhales.

Chanyeol's leg twitches after a long time of the smaller just watching him. "You're awake?" A groggy voice asks, the taller already turning in his arms. "Morning," Baekhyun's grins mischievously, before he attacks the man's nose.

Chanyeol pushes him away with a large palm on his face. "What time is it?" He asks, looking around the room confused. With a long groan, Baekhyun reaches for his phone, "One thirty, why?"

Chanyeol's eyes go big, the smaller wants to kiss him again. "Fuck, I have a project to finish for 3pm!" The man springs up from the bed, bedsheets tangled in his long legs, he kicks them off with a grunt, "I have to go,"

Baekhyun instantly pouts, because in his head, he was already picturing another hour of cuddles. Chanyeol notices it, "Dinner at mine tonight?" The smaller pouts some more, asking, and Chanyeol reaches his lips to kiss him, rolling his eyes. "Deal."



////



The dinner is pretty uneventful, with them falling back into their usual, almost silent routine. But it isn't the last one. Slowly, Chanyeol's place starts to get filled with medicine books, materials, and Baekhyun's notes, they end up all over the place.

The boy hopes he won't have to move them back to his flat again. "Nurse, give me the 5 mm one, please," Baekhyun says, with his palm open, eyes not leaving the wall in front of him.

Chanyeol scoffs. But gives him the pink crayon from the mess scattered around on the floor. They're sitting down in front of the wall Byul decided to decorate, Baekhyun is still trying to save it.

The younger promised Chanyeol to make a cherry tree out of the black lines Byul left behind, and so far, everything is going well, Baekhyun must say.

The trunk is already done, now the smaller is hunched over the ex-blank wall, deep in concentration. "Give me this!" Chanyeol exclaims, laughing, when Baekhyun begins to chew on the maroon crayon he was holding with his teeth.

The boy jokingly growls, and the man has to fight to unclench his teeth. Chanyeol tuts when he finally has the colour in his hands, chewed and covered in the boy's spit, "Damn, who raised you?"

Chanyeol jabs, but he responds with a big grin and a simple, "You."

Chanyeol remains on the floor to laugh at him while the shorter tiptoes as much as he can to reach the top branches. With an annoyed huff, he turns to the other, "Don't just stand there, help me!" 

"Do you want me to lend you some centimetres or what?" The man teases and Baekhyun almost gets flustered and drops it when he thinks better of the meaning, but he doesn't.

He can openly tease Chanyeol now, without being afraid of the response. "Do something useful with those long legs and help me," he grumbles, ready to attack him with his pink crayon when another string of laughter leaves the man's lips.

Chanyeol pushes up with a lot of groans, joking about his back and his legs until one of them actually snaps, then it's Baekhyun's turn to laugh.

The man tries to raise him up by his waist, but it's too uncomfortable for the smaller, so they decide to try other way. "Spread your legs, you're giving me a massage for this,"

Chanyeol warns, then he bends down to place his head between the boy's open thighs. Baekhyun lets out a surprised yelp when his feet leave the ground, hands flying to support himself on the wall, "I said help, not kill me!"

Chanyeol jumps a little, until Baekhyun's head reaches the ceiling, "I see you're still very much alive," The younger, squeezes his head between his thighs to get back at the taller.

Then Chanyeol tickles his sides until they're both about to fall. "I'm heavy..." Baekhyun mumbles, trying to finish the last flowers. "You're tiny," The man replies, switching from one foot to the other, "are you done?" 

"Yeah but I'm heavy.'' Baekhyun shakes his head after, crayon scratching against the wall. "I'm an artist, Byul is taking after his uncle," He says, tapping his chin while he admires his work. "Done!"

Chanyeol gently lowers him, patting his shirt that has risen up, "What am I then?" The man refers to the uncle part, eyeing his in disbelief.

The latter drops back on the floor, and Baekhyun isn't given any time to register when he ends up laying down too, because Chanyeol pulls him by the hand. "Hyung!" The younger exclaims, startled, but it's a good thing he meets Chanyeol's chest instead of the floor.

His arms embrace the man's body while he continues with a nagging voice, "You're the second uncle, of course." Chanyeol rolls his eyes, muffling the smaller's protests to his reaction with his shirt, because he squeezes the latter against it.

Baekhyun tries to mumble something, "I cwant bleath!" 

"Yes, I understand, I know," 

"Hwung!" Baekhyun hits his chest, frustrated by the teasing, until he is let go of.

The boy throws the crayon he was still clutching in his hand at the other, but the man just opens his arms wide, "Come here," Baekhyun eyes him suspiciously, until he gives up and jumps back on him, now higher, so he can reach his face.

He leaves a loud smooch on his lips, then he remembers an old promise he made. Baekhyun wanted to have the chance to smooch all of Chanyeol's face one day.

He starts from his cheeks, with fast, loud smacks of his lips all over the soft skin until he reaches his nose and Chanyeol starts squirming under him, "What's this- what are you doing?" He asks, a little surprised.

Baekhyun kisses his lips longer, he pulls back to confused, round eyes, "I'm giving love to the baby." He states, as a matter of fact.

The man bursts out into a loud laugh, pulling back a little as well, uncertain, "I'm baby?"

Baekhyun nods enthusiastically, ready to steal a kiss again, "How old are we again?" The man interrupts, keeping him at a distance. "Doesn't matter, let me love the baby."

Surprisingly, Chanyeol does. He looks a little embarrassed to expose his face to Baekhyun's attack of kisses though, but he doesn't push him away.

For the next days, Baekhyun barely visits his flat, usually coming straight to Chanyeol's after class. He'd rather have the man's presence than his empty house after a tiring day. Even if they share it in silence.

 

Baekhyun has begun to learn when to give him space, he understands how much the man likes his alone time. He doesn't push as much as before, he can recognize the change in Chanyeol's behaviour and when to step back. They're getting more used to each other

 

They're at a party on a Saturday, when the dorms are never quiet, after Jongin and Kyungsoo practically dragged them out of bed.

 

The man entered the room holding his hand. Baekhyun's heart feels so full now when he thinks back on it, Chanyeol almost looked proud to have him.

Jongin is the one to hold his hands at this moment, both of them a little dizzy and grinning after the older boy told him how the meeting with Kyungsoo's parents went. "I'm so happy they're so accepting, mine would kill me if they knew..."

Baekhyun sighs at this, with his vision a little blurry. At the mention of parents, his eyes fly automatically back to Chanyeol, who's in the corner with Kyungsoo, talking about a mutual class.

He squeezes Jongin's hands, "They will accept it one day Nini, you're their son." He reassures, but he knows that it's not that simple, his own parents would probably also kill him. But Jongin needed to hear this.

Chanyeol is stealing glances at him, and every time it happens the younger is puckering his lips as an invitation.

He does not seem to care that much about the girls around them, some he knows Chanyeol's been with, because the man has looked at him more than he did at anyone else in this room tonight. Jongin punches his arm softly, "You're too obvious,"

The younger returns the hit, "I've been watching you and Kyungsoo for months, let me live."

At this, Jongin gets a little shy. Baekhyun tries to reach his shoulder with his head but the movement is a little too sudden, his headache comes back in force, "Why did you make me drink so much...?" He whines.

 "I did?! Who came to me with two glasses of vodka?"

Chanyeol comes back to him after a round of a drinking game the smaller didn't want to join, intoxicated enough already. The man looks at him, Jongin and Kyungsoo cuddling on a bed with a frown, addressing the latter, "How much did they drink?"

Baekhyun's eyes snap up at the added presence, he was busy napping on Jongin, "Yeol, you came!" Chanyeol chuckles, offering a hand, "Let's go sleep." 

Truth is, Baekhyun isn't even that drunk, he is just tired. But he accepts the offer. The man holds his hand tightly while they make their way past all the people in the room. Out in the hallway, it feels like a different world. Baekhyun's head starts pounding harder. "Do you have any cigarettes left?" The younger asks, holding his temples.

Chanyeol nods, placing a short peck on the forehead he keeps on pressing on before they leave.

The dorm's balconies are cramped. For Chanyeol's single room, it's even smaller. The man only has one chair, and that makes Baekhyun end up in his lap. Not that he would complain though, he enjoys being held in silence.

Somehow, Baekhyun's head reaches his shoulder, thrown back, with his eyes closed. The older angles his neck so he can fit better. "Hyung, what do you like about me?"

Chanyeol clears his throat, throwing the finished bud to free his hands, so he can hold the smaller. He doesn't respond for a while. Baekhyun has already accepted this answer. "I like how calm you make me feel."

A sound of wonder gets stuck in Baekhyun's throat. "I like how you're so pure, I think." The younger wants to complain, he stands up then sits down again, facing Chanyeol, to fill the silence. "Not as a child, but you're so bright, your heart is pure."

Baekhyun's offended frown dies down. "Are you serious?"

He doesn't feel so pure. Most of the time, everyone makes him feel like the bad person. The older tries to avoid his eyes, but one hand softly resting on his face brings him back. "Why wouldn't I be?" Baekhyun shrugs, with a drunk, silly smile stretching on his lips.

Their lips meet almost timidly, initiated by the younger, who gains more courage gradually, to the point where his other hand sneaks under Chanyeol's hoodie, gingerly trailing the curves he finds there. Chanyeol deepening their kiss is his sign to go on, his hand gets more daring, going up to places he's never thought of touching before.

He's never been the one to do the touching before, but he finds out he enjoys it, a lot. Especially when he feels Chanyeol's breath speeding up the moment he flicks his nipple.

He doesn't notice when he starts grinding on Chanyeol's lap, too busy paying attention to the dance their tongues engaged in. Chanyeol is the first to pull back, lips a little swollen, to whisper, "Let's go inside."

There's a fire spreading through Baekhyun's body. He's aching for release, from Chanyeol. It only took one small step to start it.

They almost tumble inside, Chanyeol looks just as eager as he feels, his hands ended up resting on the curve of his waist, thumbs caressing the material of his shirt.

But before he can lay on the bed, the older stops him, "Did you and him...do it?" Baekhyun is the first to plop down on the soft covers, he blinks up at Chanyeol, confused, "No, why?"

Chanyeol follows him, but they don't sit as close as before, "Let's leave it for another night,"

Baekhyun tilts his head, one hand reaching for the other's hoodie to bring him close again, "Did I do something?" The man shakes his head, pecking him again, but softer. Baekhyun deflates under it, because he knows there's nothing he can do about it.



/////




Baekhyun wakes up with yet another headache. He really hates the morning after. Next, after opening his eyes and his senses coming back, comes everything he's stored in coming out.

 

It's became a morning ritual. He doesn't even know why he keeps drinking this much. First, he started to do it to keep closer to Chanyeol. Parties were the only place he could see the man. So he tried to do it too, to get noticed.

 

Now, he does it without thinking.

 

His wobbling legs rush him to the bathroom, never noticing that the door was already close. He couldn't hold it in if he tried. Chanyeol is inside with the water running, he registers it too late, when he's already with his cheek resting on the toilet seat, ready for round two.

 

One wet head peeks out from behind the shower curtain at Baekhyun's first grunts.

 

Chanyeol jumps out of the shower, with all the water dripping on the floor, and he drops on his knees, in front of Baekhyun. "Are you alright?" He dries his hand quickly, and after that it shoots up to wipe the corners of his mouth, which he didn't clean yet.

 

The boy's gag reflex comes back just from the thought. "Stop... I'm so gross," The older laughs, he finishes wiping the other corner too, "Come and take a shower, it'll help,"

 

The smaller rises dramatically from the ground, holding his painful temple, then he waits with his hands risen. Chanyeol gets the point, because he rolls his eyes before taking his shirt off, "Are your hands feeling sick too?"

 

Baekhyun doesn't reply, he just shakes his legs one by one, urging him to rush. "Why don't you drink as much as before?" The younger asks, one he's completely bare in front of Chanyeol and left in silence, to distract the older.

 

Chanyeol shrugs, pulling him by the hand into the shower. The man doesn't like himself when drunk, and he doesn't want that around Baekhyun. He just can't voice it out loud.

 

Baekhyun gags, falling back against the wall, "It's horrible..." A big hand covers his head, it's full of shampoo, the smaller shuts his eyes closed to protect them from the sudden bubble attack.

 

"Do you remember last night?"

 

Baekhyun is full of groans this morning. This one comes from trying to bring everything back, "Yeah? I think... I was too tired at some point."

 

Chanyeol doesn't say anything, but he rinses his hair. "I feel like... I should be mad about something," Baekhyun begins, trying hard to place the bad feeling in his chest.

 

He thinks that the man would move to his body to, already ready to be pampered, but his hands stop at his shoulders. It comes back. "You!" The sour comes back once the memory does, and he suddenly doesn't want to talk any more. He wants to stay mad at the man.

 

But it's too late, they're already in the shower together, almost glued to each other in the cramped space. "What?"

 

Baekhyun thinks well of his question. He takes so much time, that he finishes washing his body too, a little self-conscious that he has to touch places he doesn't usually show to anyone.

 

The older only regards him with a blank stare, waiting, no changed looks, no curious eyes, nothing.

 

Baekhyun remembers the rejection, "Why don't you want me?"

 

One of Chanyeol's furrowed eyebrows twitches, the boy is the first to step out the shower, backing off a little at the sight of the first signs of annoyance. "I don't want you?"

 

Baekhyun feels bad now that he started this again, "Last night..."

 

The man didn't even take the time to dry himself off, towel stolen by Baekhyun. He just puts his underwear on. "You were drunk last night, did you want 5 minutes you'll regret in the morning for your first time?" Chanyeol  isn't silent any more, at least it's a start. But Baekhyun doesn't like being cornered like this. "The last time, we..." 

"Don't talk about that any more." The smaller cuts him off.

 

In the mid of their argument, they ended up back in the bedroom. Baekhyun feels at disadvantage with just a towel hanging from his hips, it's intimidating to be facing Chanyeol like this.

 

Chanyeol throws him one of his shirts he takes from a pile of clothes and some underwear before coming back to the younger.

 

This feels like a married couple's argument, with the way they're squirrelling back and forth only to end up in the same way. "Little bird, you piss me off so much sometimes, you're so impatient..."

 

Once dressed, Baekhyun feels in his element a little more. And hurt, at the words leave Chanyeol's mouth. "You don't know how much I waited for you," he whispers, disappointed that the older still doesn't get it.

 

The man's eyes go softer, but he doesn't take the last step to close the distance left between them. "I raised you up, you were like my little brother. I tried to shield you from everything but...you're still here."

 

Baekhyun tries to understand it, for Chanyeol. It doesn't seem that hard for him. But they're not feeling and thinking things the same. He nods in the end. "I want you, just...be patient."

 

The smaller finally takes the last step, he clings to his naked arms, his burning skin. "But please don't go to anyone else."

 

Chanyeol shakes his head slowly, confused. When it looks like he'd close the gap left between them, he stops again, "Are we done?"

 

The smaller nods, a bit unsure. "Then wash your mouth and come back quickly, so I can kiss you."

 

Chanyeol keeps his promise, because the second the smaller returns, he pulls him back in bed. Time flies so fast when they don't have to worry about anything.

 

Baekhyun swears he'd never kissed anyone for so long. His heart had also never raced like this before.

 

//////



They end up babysitting Byul for the day. In Baekhyun's apartment because the toddler likes the quiet more, they spread out all the colouring books they bought for the kid's new-found passion.

 

Of course, Byul ruins all of them, but it makes him happy and gets him squeaking in glee, and that's better than having to deal with his cries. Chanyeol is currently preparing a quick meal while the younger tries to make their nephew say his first word.

 

They're still working on it. "Come on, say uncle-" Baekhyun gets ignored. "Un-cle!"

 

Byul only giggles at him, "Uncle~~~~" This time, Chanyeol is the one who laughs at his failed attempt. "No, no, no! We don't eat the crayons, no Byullie."

 

Fighting the grasp of a toddler turns out to be hard. Chanyeol comes to watch them, amused. "Chanyeol-" At this, the child points at the man. "Yes, that's him, Chan-yeol."

 

Byul resumes his drawing shortly after. The smaller gives up with a dramatic sigh, "When did I say my first word?" Chanyeol takes a seat next to him after bringing the food on the table, hands circling Baekhyun's middle. "Around 10 months I think?"

 

Baekhyun turns into his embrace, coming nose to nose with him, "How do you remember this?" 

"I was with you." The man laughs at his disbelieving face, then pecks his nose.

 

When Chanyeol angles his head to reach his lips, the smaller is quick to stop him, "Not in front of Byul!" 

"I don't think he'd mind it," and like this, the man steals a kiss.

 

Baekhyun loves Chanyeol like this, when it feels like there's only the two of them left in the world. When they enjoy each other's company in complete harmony. It isn't just him giving too much just for the other to give him nothing.

 

//////

 

After their quick meal, they move Byul's playground to Baekhyun's bedroom, where the smaller runs straight to bed, exhausted after running around the toddler in his apartment.

Chanyeol remains seated on the ground, to doddle with Byul. The kid really loves his uncle. Between them two, Chanyeol is the favourite uncle. Baekhyun feels a little jealous at how peacefully the toddler can sleep in the man's arms, when he himself has to sing dozens of lullabies before Byul settles now. Watching Chanyeol playfully tickle his nephew, he understands.

 

Byul has changed Chanyeol- from the one he first saw when they reunited, to this caring man that would give him the world.

 

Baekhyun is almost dozing off when- "B?" Chanyeol begins. 

 

"Hm?" He raises to look at the two.

 

 "What did you say Byul? Say it again," Chanyeol softly says, caressing the kid's hair.

 

"Ucle!" The toddler squeaks, throwing his chubby hands in Chanyeol's shirt. A gasp falls from Baekhyun's lips. The man seems like he's afraid to move. He's rooted to his spot, with an amazed expression on.

 

The younger jumps from the bed, running to them, "What Byullie?"

 

 "Ucle! Ucle!" 

 

Fat tears explode from his eyes, and an ugly laugh mixed with sobbing follows. "Hyung! He said uncle!"

 

Chanyeol seems to be a bit shaken as well, the corners of his eyes are reddening. The smaller picks up Byul from his uncle to smooch his cheek, "Who's a good boy, Byullie?" The kid giggles, attacked by a flurry of kisses." Yes, you are! Me and uncle Chanyeol love Byullie so much!"

A chuckle coming from his back interrupts his silly moment. Warm arms embrace him from behind, holding Byul as well. "Yes, we do."

 

Yoora comes to pick Byul up some hours after, and they try to make him say it again, but the kid keeps silent. Yoora and Baekhyun still celebrate over it with their squeaks though.

 

They're left tired, already dark outside, and they're cuddling in bed- with Baekhyun embracing the older like he's used to. The boy is leaving sloppy kisses all over his nape.

 

"It tickles." Chanyeol says, trying to angle his neck to restrict access. Baekhyun giggles, "I know," but he kisses him again.

 

The older groans, turning around to face the mischievous boy. "I love you." The Baekhyun beats him to whatever he had to say to confess once again, feeling like his heart might burst if concealed any longer.

 

Chanyeol smiles a beautiful smile, Baekhyun had missed it. The man steals his lips. And they kiss until their lips get numb. 

 

Chanyeol ends up with his head resting on his chest, "What do you want for your birthday?" He hasn't realized it is so close. He is turning 19.

 

At this moment, he has everything he's wished for. Maybe not how he did, but Baekhyun is sure they're getting there. Chanyeol isn't pushing him away any more. Material things, he can't think of one thing he needs.

 

"You." He simply says, without any meaning behind it. He just wants Chanyeol. Only after does he realize their situation, and how it must have sounded. He wouldn't mind getting Chanyeol in that way either.

 

//////

 

Baekhyun is done earlier with class, and he's in his Jongin's room, cuddling. He just finished telling the taller how Byul had said his first word, when the door opens. Chanyeol sticks his head in. Nowadays, Chanyeol and Jongin are getting along again.

 

It took some time, but his best friend forgave the man.

 

"I brought food, are you hungry?" Chanyeol addresses the both of them, bringing forward the bag of takeaway.

 

They eat together in Jongin's bed, with the boy getting mad at Baekhyun and his clumsy eating habits when the latter drops his pizza slice on his freshly changed covers.

 

At Baekhyun's pout, Chanyeol wraps a hand around him and he feeds the boy his own slice. Jongin rolls his eyes.

 

"Anyway, you told me about Byul, but how's Yoora? She isn't texting me back." Baekhyun furrows his eyebrows, "That's strange." They both nod.

 

Chanyeol clears his throat, so the boys turn to him, expecting. "She told me she's looking for a job."

 

"But...Byul?" Jongin tilts his head, with half of his mouth full. "Yeah, that's why she isn't sure. She asked me if I could take care of Byul while she's at work." Chanyeol flatly explains.

 

Now, Baekhyun understands why he had been so silent. Something was worrying him. With a quiet sigh, he searches for the man's hand.



Back in Chanyeol's room, the smaller jumps straight in his arms. He wishes he would ease his mood a little this way. "What are you going to do?"

 

They sit on the bed, Baekhyun on his lap, with his thighs on each side of Chanyeol's middle. He's slowly caressing his hard face, patiently waiting for an answer.

 

"I can't bring Byul here...she wants me to move in with her but I can't do that, we're barely getting along as it is now."

Baekhyun nods. He can already see how things would turn out if the two were to be living together, with the fragile peace they have between them now.

 

He gets another idea, "Hyung...we know we could live together, we're together all the time anyway and- my apartment is bigger." 

 

Chanyeol raises his eyes from where he was blankly staring to him. "What?"

 

The man never thought about this. "I- I could help you with Byul, it's no big deal. I think it'll be easier."

He can see Chanyeol isn't believing him. He has that judgemental look in his eyes, he's ready to argue. "Please don't bring my age in again, I'm serious. I won't change my mind!"

Maybe it's too much commitment for the older, so soon, he is a very private person after all- but it wouldn't be such a difference from now, when they are together everywhere.

"I'll think about it." Chanyeol comments, not sounding very sure.

 

That night, Baekhyun already has countless scenarios running through his head- about life together. Taking care of Byul would mean less going out, less fun, fewer parties.

 

But it doesn't bother him that much. He tried them all, and nothing made him as happy as simply doing his normal chores with Chanyeol by his side.

 

To think he could be getting that every day.

 

//////



Despite Baekhyun's initial doubts, it doesn't take long for Chanyeol to decide. Time flies so fast that it's already may. Baekhyun had been worried that he would be turned down, but, on a quiet night when they are standing outside under the stars, his hyung takes him by surprise.

 

"I was thinking of moving my stuff tomorrow." The smaller stops playing with his fingers, lowers the bigger hand slowly, to gap at the man, "What?" Chanyeol chuckles, being the one to take his hand this time and kiss the back of it, "Does the offer still stand?"

 

Baekhyun changes his laying position abruptly, thinking that he might have heard wrong from being so far away, "You want to live with me?" The man only raises an eyebrow, teasing him, "You don't?"

 

The younger scoffs, but he throws his arms around Chanyeol's neck after, latching onto him with a light giggle, "Of course! I just didn't think you'd accept!"

 

Chanyeol pats his back in a comforting manner, and they both fall down to lay on the grass again, "Two kids are going to drive me crazy..." He murmurs, jokingly, but Baekhyun feels offended anyway. "Excuse me, I am almost 19."

 

The taller shakes his head, laughing, and he smooths a gentle hand over Baekhyun's hair, "Such a whiny kid..."



Jongin and Kyungsoo help them with moving, although Chanyeol didn't bring a lot of stuff when he moved- half of them are the things Baekhyun brought over when he slowly took over the man's dorm room, and they end up spending the rest of the day with the two boys, who are now laughing with Chanyeol like they are old friends. What a strange turn, when Jongin had been ready to kill the man months prior.

 

When they are finally left alone, something feels off. Baekhyun can feel the distance Chanyeol puts between them, as well as the silence, when it's only the two of them left around the house.

 

Baekhyun can't understand, when the taller knows his way around his apartment like it's his own house and it doesn't seem like a problem that would bring awkwardness, but Chanyeol feels trapped. There is no space that is simply his any more, where he can go to and be with himself.

 

But lately, there hasn't been a need for it anyway, when Baekhyun's bright presence has invaded his space. He is still afraid though, because it's not what he is used to.

 

Baekhyun gives him space, and the older comes to him on his own, after long minutes spent on the balcony before bed. He gives the smaller his goodnight kiss as usually, then he turns around to be embraced.

 

The boy understands, tries hard not to overthink it- he knows that it's not his fault, and that Chanyeol still wants him.

 

They fall back into a comfortable routine fast, because Yoora is quick to find a part-time job, and Byul comes over every day between 2-8. It saddens Baekhyun sometimes, because he is mostly trapped in class- but the image that greets him whenever he enters his apartment never fails to make his heart soar- Chanyeol treating Byul like his own son, either cuddling or playing around in the living room, with their smiles stretching their faces.

 

Today, Baekhyun had been walking around school looking dejected all day. It's his birthday, and he's had class and labs from 8 to 8.

 

He can't wait to go home, in the comfort of Chanyeol's arms who barely had time to wish him a happy birthday before he had to rush to his university this morning.

 

The texts exchanged between them are the only thing keeping him from completely going crazy, Chanyeol spends all day with him on the phone.

 

When he finally grabbed the doorknob to run inside, a surprise gathering was the last thing he expected, but there he was, faced with the people closest to him, all wearing silly party hats- with Byul being the first to stand out.

 

"Happy birthday!" His friends exclaim, not to loud because of Baekhyun's sensitive neighbors, but still excited. Chanyeol, Jongin, Kyungsoo, Yoora and Byul are all staring at him with their best smiles on.

 

All the stress dissipates from his body, Baekhyun can't do anything but chuckle, until it turns into a laugh, disbelieving, "I can't believe you did this! I can't believe you kept this from me!" He accuses everyone, stretching out his arms to take Byul and kiss his fat cheeks.

 

The thought that this could happen had escaped him completely- this day had been so tiring that he forgot it was actually his birthday, Baekhyun only wanted to cuddle with Chanyeol and drink themselves to sleep.




He hugs everyone, leaving Chanyeol the last, so he could give him a long, long kiss- he's been waiting for this moment all day. Kyungsoo is the only one to coo at them, while the other two pull on their disgusted faces. "Come on, stop you two, Bibi needs to open his presents!"

 

It's Jongin who speaks first, and he also ushers the smaller from Chanyeol's arms, deeper into the apartment.

 

Baekhyun rolls his eyes, ready to raise his foot and give his ass a good kick, but he stops to look at the things waiting for him on the coffee table. The boy has always hated thinking of what gifts to give, he's never been good at it, so he had insisted, every time, for people to not get him anything, because he knows how hard it is to do it. But still, he can't hide his excitement when he does find something waiting for him.

 

Jongin and Kyungsoo had bought him a new anatomy atlas, because he had complained to Nini about his very worn out one. He can't help but squeak at it, and hug them once again.

 

Yoora had baked a cake for all of them, with strawberry filling, Baekhyun's favourite- the smaller's cheeks are hurting from smiling too much, and he thanks them endlessly.

 

Looking back at Chanyeol while they head towards the kitchen, he only gets a shrug and a mysterious smile from the man. It makes his curiosity peak.



Yoora is the first to leave with Byul, when it's nearing midnight. They've spent so much time at the dinner table, eating, drinking, laughing together that everyone lost notion of time. Everyone but Byul, whose bed time had passed long ago.

 

And, after sleeping on and off inside Chanyeol's arms, he decided to let them know by a long session of cries. Baekhyun could say that he did not miss that. Chanyeol leaves to take his sister home, and he's suddenly left alone with two grinning faces- "So, how does 19 feel?"

 

Jongin asks, leaning on Kyungsoo's shoulder with a flush on his face. Perhaps they've had just a little too much wine. Baekhyun sighs dramatically, plopping his elbows on the table, "Tiring…’’

The boys laugh at his droopy eyes, then they proceed to laugh some more minutes after, when he can't stop his eyes from checking his phone, or the front door.

Kyungsoo throws him a teasing grin, "Relax, he didn't run away." Baekhyun scoffs, not knowing how to react at him getting sheepish at being caught. "I don't think he would anyway, you must have cast a spell on him or something, babe." Jongin adds, supporting his boyfriend.

Baekhyun furrows his eyebrows, "What do you mean?"

It's Jongin's turn to scoff, "He is very changed, compared to the first time I met him." The younger only gives him a puzzled look.

It doesn't seem so to him- or he just got used to it. They've been inseparable for so long that he never stopped to analyse Chanyeol's behaviour around him any more. He just took everything given to him, and basked in the feeling of it.

 

Going back to everything he's been through to get to this point, yes. Chanyeol is changed. He's not the one Baekhyun has suffered from, and he's also not the one he had longed for.

His Chanyeol, the one he loves right now, is pieces of the gentle boy he once knew and the man he had matured into.

Baekhyun concludes that they both had changed. When he thinks about last year, the boy can recognize the progress in himself too. Chanyeol had given him a little courage for everything.

"Yeah, I think he's getting better..." He replies, with a big smile, a proud one, wearing it like the idiot in love he is. Of course, the two boys don't completely understand his secretive beaming, because they don't know half of it.

 

They don't know Chanyeol like he does, and all the pieces of his stories he lets out at night where it's only the two of them cuddling.

 

But Jongin is just proud to see him so happy, so he eagerly nods. They dive into another story about Kyungsoo's department and his latest assignments when the door finally opens.

Chanyeol comes to them, with a small smile, after which he takes his seat back next to Baekhyun, and they get lost back into conversation while times flies again.

It's 3am when the boys leave, turning down Baekhyun's couch with a joke that they'll just leave the lovebirds enjoy the rest of the night alone.

 

Baekhyun isn't in the mood for enjoying anything any more, not when he's been in class since morning and the wine is making his head spin- so he just jumps on Chanyeol's back with a giggle, demanding to be carried.

 

Only when they approach their bedroom does Baekhyun remember about presents, because his mind's been too busy to think about all that in the previous hours. Chanyeol doesn't say anything, not until Baekhyun's put down, and he rushes to his desk where something new is sitting.

 

With a sound of wonder, picks the photographs up confused, at first, and he impatiently looks through some of them until he realizes and snaps his eyes up, to Chanyeol who's standing in the middle of the room with an awaiting expression.

 

"Happy birthday, little bird." The man says, a tiny smile blooming on his lips at Baekhyun's shocked face.

They're photographs from his birthdays, all of them spent together with his family and Chanyeol. His parents loved taking pictures of the two boys with frosting on their faces, until it became a tradition. They start from birthdays Baekhyun can't even remember, or even forgot his parents had photographs of, and they end with pictures Baekhyun took of them on his phone and sent to Chanyeol.

They're all here, developed, next to a new photo album.

Baekhyun's voice is shaky with emotion when he asks, "How did you...? Wait! How?" He exclaims, running to the older to embrace him tightly. "Hyung, I can't believe this!" The smaller says, feeling his heart about to race out of his chest.

Chanyeol caresses his back, "I had them all on an old CD... I thought you'd like it, since you said you wanted to try keeping albums." The younger nods, he can feel his eyes burning, so he squeezes the man harder. "Thank you, thank you so much!"

Chanyeol puts some distance between their bodies, so he can leave a kiss on his forehead, and he lingers there, then he whispers against his skin, "We should take one for this birthday too, though."

Baekhyun giggles, giddy at the offer. The man's been opposed to his habit of taking photos all the time in the past, but now he's the one to initiate it. Chanyeol is the first to take his phone out of his pocket, and he gives it to the smaller with a last peck.

They take another one, another memory- with Baekhyun standing inside his arms while the older is resting his chin above his head. Baekhyun smiles the brightest in it.

The older should have known what he was getting himself into, really- one picture is never enough for Baekhyun, who complains about his face, the angle, the light, his small eyes in it- they take about dozens, until Chanyeol gives up with a long sigh.

"Little bird, come on..." The man jokingly says, drawing out long syllables for a dramatic effect. Baekhyun pouts, but he puts the phone away at least. He tiptoes to peck the taller's lips.

 

They end up in bed, tangled between the sheets, not even bothering to wash up any more. It's too late, and they are content with just throwing their clothes around and jumping inside the other's arms.

It makes Baekhyun's giddy, his body a little excited and quick to respond, but he knows his current tiredness wouldn't let him enjoy anything right now.

They have been touching each other lately, in the days they've been living together, but nothing too much. Just a little teasing in the morning, where Chanyeol decided to walk around in his underwear and Baekhyun decided to squeeze his ass- it ended with them feverishly grinding against each other on the kitchen counter. Or showers taken together where Chanyeol took him apart within 2 minutes when he flicked his nipples too hard and his wrist too fast.

Just small acts that were slowly opening Chanyeol up to him, towards another step in their relationship. It's funny, considering how he had acted in the past, both with Baekhyun and the other people he just used and got over, and how he is now completely afraid of touching Baekhyun and his eager body. It shows the younger that he truly cares, more than Baekhyun would like to, sometimes, at least when it comes to this.

"What is it?" A calm voice asks, breaking his train of thought. They are turned face to face, heart to heart. A sheepish smile appears on Baekhyun's lips, and he shakes his head, "Nothing, just thinking..."

"Hmmm..." Chanyeol doesn't intrude, he rarely does.

"Are things with Yoora good now?" Baekhyun asks instead, because the girl suddenly comes to his mind. Her eyes, the ones that once looked like she would kill him if she could, seem to be softer when on Chanyeol now.

Chanyeol hides his nose inside the smaller's chest when he says, "Well...you know, some things can't happen right away but, for Byul, we are trying to...make it right."

They are trying to make it right- the words make Baekhyun so happy, knowing how stubborn the both of them can be, and that they are trying. Together, they would give Byul the best life he could ever have, the younger is sure of it.

His chin drops to rest on top of Chanyeol's head, and he huffs at the strands of hair tickling his nose, "I'm so happy, hyung."

Silence follows, the man just snuggles closer, until Baekhyun is turned on his back and Chanyeol is resting on his chest, "Why are you so happy?" He mindlessly says, more to keep the comfortable air between them, to keep the sleep away.

"Because we are together, and I love you." Baekhyun simply explains, throwing one arm around the older's shoulders to squeeze them. Chanyeol chuckles shortly, and the smaller has to wait for more seconds for a response to come. "I am happy too."

The answer only makes Baekhyun giggle, then he angles his head to meet Chanyeol's lips halfway.

 

//////

 

Baekhyun comes down with a cold the next week, and it gets worse fast. He realizes it's not only his allergies when, one morning, he tries to get out of bed and his legs give out before he can even register what's happening.

 

He takes the mattress with him, in his tumble, and Chanyeol is up too in a second.

 

"Little bird...?" His coarse voice whispers, but the moment his eyes fall on the boy he jumps from the bed too. Chanyeol helps him up, and it's there Baekhyun realized how dizzy he is.

He's been sneezing in the past days, or feeling cold out of a sudden, but it wasn't that serious to get Baekhyun to pay attention to it. Now, when he's put back on the bed by the taller, he feels his world spin. It's not a simple cold, his insides are churning.

 

Chanyeol's hand rests above his forehead, "You have a fever." The boy furrows his eyebrows, chasing after the older's cool hand. So it wasn't extremely hot in the room, he was the one being too hot. "Oh, come on, I needed to get to class..."

The older clicks his tongue in disapproval, guiding him down once again when Baekhyun tries to move, "You've overworked yourself, you can't go anywhere like this, Baekhyun."

He's serious about this, the boy understands from the way his full name is used.

He's been neglecting himself a little, that's true. Practice spots are going to be open for the summer, and he's trying to give his best and stand out in front of his professors, so he could get a good recommendation.

In the past days, he's spent more time at school than he did at home, often forgetting to eat when he comes back at night. He feels the repercussions of his hard trying now, in his aching muscles that won't listen to him.

Chanyeol is watching him with worry, his eyebrows drawn together in thought, "Aren't med students supposed to take care of themselves the best?"

Baekhyun doesn't know how to react, he tries to hide his embarrassment, "Go away..."

But the older stays put, his deep frown won’t leave his face, ‘’You are really pale. I think you should go back to sleep and see how you feel after.’’ He suggests, hands lowering to gather the discarded blanket and cover Baekhyun.

And the smaller isn’t that opposed to the idea, now, when even thinking of standing up again makes bile rise in his throat. ‘’Stay with me?’’ 

Chanyeol appears conflicted, only for some seconds. Without another word, he takes his place back down beside the boy. He’s the one to embrace Baekhyun, ‘’Is this okay?’’ He asks, trying not to shake or move him too much- the boy is looking too nauseous for it. 

Baekhyun hums, eyes trying hard to stay open, ‘’ ‘s good, warm…’’ He murmurs, then he slowly confesses ‘’I feel like I’m dying, my head is pounding…’’

Chanyeol doesn’t know what to do besides sighing, ‘’You’ve been neglecting your health for too long, sleep now.’’ 



//////

 

When Baekhyun wakes up, it doesn’t feel any better- his limbs are aching even more now. He has to whine for Chanyeol’s help to get to the toilet. 

He can see the irritation between the man’s eyebrows, but, to his surprise, no comment comes. The boy empties his stomach’s contents in the toilet bowl, while he swears he’s never felt worse before, but Chanyeol is there to calm his ragging breath down with a gentle hand on his back. 

They stay on the cold floor after, Baekhyun a mess of flushed cheeks and dishevelled hair but Chanyeol doesn’t seem to mind. The latter wipes his dirty mouth, even helps him wash his face after. Chanyeol is handling Baekhyun like a newborn, and the younger’s insides are rioting under all the attention. 

 

This is Baekhyun’s own fairytale, especially later, when they end up at the dinner table, after Chanyeol cooks for him. 

He may be feeling like his body is falling apart from the inside, but still, the younger can’t stop smiling. 

‘’What is it? Do you feel better?’’ It catches Chanyeol’s attention, who was busy on his phone before. 

The younger shakes his head, but regrets it immediately after. It hurts like hell. ‘’Not really, but I like spending time with you…’’ 

Chanyeol’s dimple appears on his cheek, and he reaches out to touch Baekhyun’s forehead again, ‘’Me too.’’

Some simple words are enough to make his flushed cheeks even redder than before. 

Chanyeol goes to the store to get some cigarettes. The younger could feel him getting restless and irritated long before it happens, so he lets it go, even if his sick clingy self would’ve liked to disagree. 

And, when the older comes back, he finds Baekhyun with his face buried in a book. He clicks his tongue in disapproval, going as far as reaching to close said book.  "Seriously?’’

Baekhyun gives his a full, guilty grin, ‘’I got bored…’’

It gets Chanyeol to chuckle, ‘’Wasn’t your head hurting?’’

The younger gets up from the bed, book forgotten, and he throws his arms around Chanyeol’s neck- he’s been gone for too long, and he missed his warmth. ‘’A little, but I really want to get picked for the hospital…’’

Patting his head gently, Chanyeol let’s out an amused huff against the boy’s neck. ‘’My little nerd, you’ll do good.’’

This time, Baekhyun is the one that huffs, ‘’Of course I will but still…’’

Chanyeol hums in agreement, he is back to being Baekhyun’s biggest supported. Perhaps that’s why the younger’s motivation suddenly came back to him.

 

//////

 

It takes a total of 3 days for Baekhyun to feel human again, but he isn’t regretting it in the end, because he gets to be babied by his hyung just like their old times. He was okay by the second one, but being inside with Chanyeol all day made him greedy, and he intentionally skipped one more day to steal more time with his favourite person.

During the last day, they got drunk. Very drunk, with all the alcohol Baekhyun had left in the fridge before they switched to healthier food for Byul.

And it ended with them laying on the bedroom floor, spilling drinks, secrets and confessions- everything that had been left out. 

‘’You know, I’ve always been so lonely...in our old house, with my mother, here, with you…’’ Chanyeol speaks up after some moments of silence, and the younger stops playing with the rough fingers he was so interested in before. His eyes peek up at the man whose chest he’s been laying on, questioning, but giving him time. 

‘’And I tried so hard to stop being alone, to belong somewhere, to find someone new that could awaken something in me, every time- but, no matter what, I always got lonely at the end of the day.’’ The taller confesses with a sigh. ‘’I was afraid of being alone, but I am my father’s son, no matter what. I didn’t want to bring that in anyone’s life.’’ 

For how much they’ve had to drink, Chanyeol’s speech seems incredibly sober. Opening his mouth, the first word that comes out of it for Baekhyun has a little stutter to it, ‘’Stop, hyung, you aren’t what people told you, you are your own person!’’ The smaller protests, raising to get a better look at Chanyeol and show him just how sincere he’s being. 

But the older only chuckles, ‘’I know myself, little bird, and I have so much of him in me that it scares me…’’

With his spinning head, Baekhyun drops all of his weight on the other with a huff, ‘’You’re being too hard on yourself, you are not that person for me.’’

One hand settles on the younger’s head, patting his tangled hair, the fingertips press on his scalp so good his fuzzy mind almost disconnects from the conversation.

‘’I didn’t tell you that so you could prove me wrong, I just…wanted you to know, that’s all.’’ Chanyeol says softly, then they go back to silence.

Not for long.

‘’I realized that almost all my life has revolved around you, hyung. Even when I didn’t know it yet, and did not know why I was lonely... Then I knew, and it was even worse, because I couldn’t do anything about it… And now that I finally have you, it makes me so sad to know you still feel lonely, because I am not any more- I wish I could help.’’

Chanyeol pulls him up the next second, with a little struggle from their uncoordinated limbs, but he ends up with his nose tickling the older’s neck, and the latter holding him tight. 

‘’It’s not your fault, I just am like this, little bird. But you make me want to get help, feel better… my days aren’t all the same any more, you’ve really helped me without knowing. 

It’s scary, how honest and straightforward Chanyeol is being, he’s never been like this before, no matter how much he’d had to drink. He had only shown pieces of himself so far. And this Chanyeol- he’s not strong, powerful, composed, not the dream Baekhyun had long ago. But the latter loves him even more for this. 

 

Chanyeol is only human, like him. They are equals, going through life together and having similar battles and thoughts. He is not unreachable anymore. He is real. And so sad but loveable. 

At the last thought, Baekhyun’s body outdoes his mind. He springs up with a new urge- to kiss, to comfort, to protect Chanyeol with his own being. 

The older gasps, surprised, when a pair of lips suddenly attacks his own, but he gives no further complaint. He only brings Baekhyun closer, on top of him, and lets the younger control their movements. 

Baekhyun kisses him like it’s the last thing he’d do on this earth, like he is on the verge of death and Chanyeol is the only thing keeping him alive.

‘’Thank you-’’ the younger says, in a breathless whisper, before he dives in again, ‘’for letting me in-’’ Chanyeol stops his roaming hands from going down south to listen to the younger’s words carefully. He can’t focus on two things at once any more, and listening to Baekhyun feels more important than exploring his skin in this moment. 

‘’I swear, if you’d let me, I’ll stay with you forever. I am so proud of you, hyung.’’ 

Chanyeol freezes, the younger feels his jaw going slack, so he searches for his eyes. 

‘’What?’’ The taller whispers back, with a subtle trembling in his eyelashes. 

‘’I am proud of you.’’ Baekhyun simply says, angling his head again, this time aiming for the man’s nose.

It happens in a second: first, only a tear escapes, while Chanyeol’s face remains blank. Then more come, until his face scrunches up in pain, and a sob falls past his lips. Baekhyun loves this side of him too. 

The younger keeps strangling his hips, but he gently pulls the other up. Without a word, he guides Chanyeol’s head against his chest, where his face gets buried. The older cries for a long time, Baekhyun measures it by the state of his soaking shirt, but he doesn’t mutter a word. He just strokes Chanyeol’s back, his hair, his red ears, his long arms. He is young and powerless most of the time, but right now, with Chanyeol in his arms and the older’s heart inside his palm, he feels like he’s the only one fit to protect his hyung. 

 

‘’Shhh, I love you, it’s alright.’’ 

 

The older doesn’t speak for the rest of the night. He stays hidden against Baekhyun’s chest, with sniffles and heart-wrenching sobs. He is too ashamed to utter another word, and the smaller indulges him with more reassuring touches. Baekhyun even hums him an old song, later, right before Chanyeol’s hiccups turn into deep sighs. 

They fall asleep on the ground, bodies tangled beyond recognition. And, despite the hard floor, Chanyeol still swears he’s been floating all night.