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사랑은 무엇인가 (What Is Love?)

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Girl, I can't explain what I feel.

Oh baby my baby baby baby baby yeah

 

The year was 2011.

 

The first time they had met, Kyungsoo didn’t think much about the older boy. He was just another trainee, the same as him. They never really talked to each other ever since Kyungsoo first saw him. Their first and last 'interaction' was when the boy introduced himself to the class and their vocal class.

 

“My name is Byun Baekhyun. I’ve just started university, and it’s really an honor to be able to train here with you guys. Please take care of me.”

 

Nothing stood out about him except for his witty personality and his voice. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that his voice was like those of an angel; the past one and half years Kyungsoo had spent as a trainee in SM, he had never heard someone sung so beautifully, almost perfect. He figured he could learn a thing or two from this Baekhyun, perhaps getting tips or chances to practice together after training sessions. Unfortunately, aside from the occasional small talks during classes, they didn’t interact much during trainee days.

 

Fate did change, though. It turned out Baekhyun, despite being a newcomer trainee, had been selected as one of the long-awaited boy group debut members, EXO. It meant that he would be bandmates with Baekhyun. They grew closer eventually even though Baekhyun was relatively late to join the band, and the fact that they were the same age made it easier for Kyungsoo to connect with Baekhyun.

 

Both are main vocals, too. They spent countless days, nights together bunched up in the recording studio, throwing ideas for their lyrics, runs, and harmonization in their songs. Nearing their official debut, they even recorded a duet, just between the two of them called What is Love. They spent so much time together for years, and Kyungsoo began to feel more. He was a little bit sadder when Baekhyun was sick or couldn't join the group schedule. He was a little bit happier whenever Baekhyun cracked some inappropriate joke, and he was a little bit more jealous whenever Baekhyun talked about potential people to date in the future.

 

For years Kyungsoo shrugged off the thought of having a feeling for Baekhyun, to like him more than just a friend. He figured he was just extra sad, jealous, and happy when it comes to Baekhyun because they were best friends and as Baekhyun once said one night when he was nervous for his solo stage in their concert in 2014; “I can feel your stomach churning from here,

 

Kyungsoo. Best friends have a telepathic connection, you know. You'll do just fine; just think of me when you're up on that stage! You’ll nail the hell out of it.”

 

Best friends, he had said.

 

Except he was going to sing a love song, Tell me What is Love. It was rather funny, actually. When he recorded that song, and rehearse it so many times, what Baekhyun said was true. He was indeed the object occupying Kyungsoo’s mind whenever he sings that song. And that included that night when he performed the song live in front of thousands of people.

 

That night, as he climbed down the stage stairs to go backstage after finishing his solo performance, he was immediately tackled by an over-eager Baekhyun, who hugged him tightly and left a kiss on his head. "Congratulations, Soo-yah," he grinned. "You did great! I knew you'd do well. Better stop thinking about me, though, you're off the stage already." He joked and winked towards a dumbfounded Kyungsoo, hands still lingering on the younger’s waist.

 

That night was the night he finally realized and accepted the reality. The reality hits him way too hard. He did like Baekhyun, more than just a friend. The realization also came along with another set of problems for Kyungsoo. He was confused.

 

He had a fair share of dates for a freshly graduated high school student. He had talked to a few people that never progressed any further aside from casual lunch dates and two ex-girlfriends who he loved with all his heart (those puppy love experiences would forever have a special place in his heart. They taught him how to love, to know how it feels to love, to long for someone when you haven't met them for days, and to endure the sadness of losing someone dear.

 

It’s different with Baekhyun, though.

 

He was aware that Baekhyun is a man, just like himself. That was the reason for his confusion; he had experienced those feelings before, but not with another man. There were times when Kyungsoo wanted to give up on his feelings, to glance the other way of Baekhyun's direction, to just cover his ears whenever he heard his laugh, to just completely erase him out of his mind, to move on from him.

 

During those times, which could last for days or even weeks, he would distance himself from the older—refusing his invitations to eat out, opting to walk with Jongin, Jongdae, Sehun, anyone instead of him whenever the group must travel together. He would choose to spend his time free alone, locked in his room whenever he and Baekhyun were left alone in the dorm. He would return to his usual self, though, after he managed to repress his feelings.

It had been going on just like that for years, and Kyungsoo had always managed to avoid confrontations because whenever Baekhyun started to suspect something was wrong, Kyungsoo would return to his usual behavior. He would be back to being Baekhyun’s best friend, bandmate, duet partner.

 

He does like Baekhyun than just a friend, but is it really possible for them to be together?

 

The year was 2018, and Kyungso wondered how the hell did he get into this position; his face buried in his hands as he struggled to maintain his composure and hid his tears from Baekhyun, who was crying as well.

 

Making a day feel like a minute.

With you, I'm the main character of a movie.

As if I'm about to film an action scene to come see you, as if I've become a hero.

 

In 2016, Baekhyun got his first role in a drama series.

 

He gushed about it non-stop, excited to try new things and branch out aside from singing. The first person he told when he passed the audition was none other than Kyungsoo. All of the members were in the practice room, exhausted and taking a break after an intense dance practice. The foot movement is crazy, I tell you! Jongdae whines could be heard from the background.

 

Kyungsoo laughed at his bandmate's complaints, but he couldn't deny the fact that so far, the footwork for Monster was the most challenging dance he learned so far. While the rest of the members were busy bickering, the sight of Baekhyun excusing himself to pick up a phone call captured his attention. He seemed surprised at whatever things the person on the other line told him; his smile turned bigger. Kyungsoo wondered what could possibly make Baekhyun this happy and surprised.

 

After hanging up, still full of smiles, Baekhyun beckoned Kyungsoo to get closer to him, to which Kyungsoo complied. When he stood close to Baekhyun, he tackled the older man in a tight hug while simultaneously jumping up and down.

 

“I did it, Soo-yah! I managed to get the role! Can you believe it?” He finally said when he let go of the hug. “Director Kyutae just called. I will act alongside IU! This is unbelievable!"

 

“Congratulations, Baekhyun-ah,” Kyungsoo said, ruffling Baekhyun’s hair. He was about to ask him more when from afar, Sehun had yelled, “What’s with the commotion? What happened?”

 

Baekhyun turned towards the youngest member, and by then, all eyes in the room were on Baekhyun. "I got the Moon Lovers role! Director Kyutae just called. And Kyungsoo here is going to be my acting coach,” He said, elbowing Kyungsoo playfully.

 

“I will?” He asked, quite surprised.

 

“You won’t?” Baekhyun pouted. And honestly, who could resist Baekhyun when he was pouting?

 

Kyungsoo scoffed, turning his head away from Baekhyun. "Your pout scares me. Keep pouting like that, and you're on your own,"

 

Baekhyun faked whined at Kyungsoo, and soon enough, the rest of the members walked towards Baekhyun, congratulating him with hugs, pats on the back, and hair-ruffling. It was sure fun to be in a group with nine members.

 

Honestly, even if Baekhyun hadn’t asked Kyungsoo, he would be more than glad to help him out. Who was he kidding? Getting to spend more time with Baekhyun and doing what he loved the most, aside from singing, were more than enough to make him happy. Why am I so whipped for him… he cursed to himself silently.

 

Kyungsoo is undeniably excellent at acting. He was relieved and satisfied when his first-ever acting role in Cart was met with endless praises from people, as a lot of critiques and movie-goers had expected less from an idol. But he always managed to prove them wrong, breaking the ever-existing stereotype. Baekhyun had always been nothing but supportive towards him since day 1, even right before Kyungsoo’s turn to audition. This time, he would return the support.

 

Whenever both of them were free, they would go to the practice room to act out Baekhyun’s scripts, with Kyungsoo patiently coaching him. The practice room turned into Baekhyun and Kyungsoo’s escape from their day-to-day life where they spent hours together, just the two of them. Well, at least it was, for Kyungsoo. For Baekhyun, on the other hand, their new profound routine was possibly just another regular schedule, nothing special.

 

It had been months since the whole coach-student relationship started (Sehun had called it couple therapy sessions, that brat.), and Kyungsoo wondered. How on earth does time pass so quickly when you're spending it with your loved one's most cherished best friend? That day, Kyungsoo swore they had just started the "class" around one hour ago, but when he took a peek at the window, the sky was dark already.

 

“Kyungja, can we reenact this scene, please? You know I have a hard time acting out emotional scenes,” Baekhyun said, flipping the script to almost the last page, his glasses sliding down his nose slightly. Kyungsoo debated whether to push his glasses to fix their position or just do nothing. (ultimately, he chose the latter.)

 

He scooted closer to Baekhyun, taking a peek at his script to see the page number. “Which one?”

 

Baekhyun didn’t say a word; he rested his head on Kyungsoo’s shoulder instead (a habit he had developed since forever; usually Kyungsoo would hit him playfully if he did that in front of other people, but this time, he lets him be. It's comfortable anyway.) and pointed at the page number on the bottom half.

 

Naturally, of course, Kyungsoo leaned towards Baekhyun's head and read the scene Baekhyun wanted to reenact. He frowned when he read the script and squished Baekhyun's cheek with his left hand.

 

“You want me to be Seon Deok?”

 

“No, I want you to be Wang Eun.”

 

Kyungsoo made a "huh?" sound and yelped when he felt a bite on his hand. "Ouch, Baek! Why did you do that?” He hissed and wiped the saliva on his hand. If this was Chanyeol, he was 100% he was ready to throw hands.

 

The latter laughed, his nose wrinkling cutely. Kyungsoo just wants to bump their nose together grunted, pushing the perpetrator away from him. “Of course you’re Seon Deok! How am I supposed to practice my role if I’m not Wang Eun?”

 

He skimmed the script; it was the scene where Wang Eun finally realized his feelings for Seon Deok and gave her a toy that he made. It was a cute scene, Kyungsoo could tell. The atmosphere was light-hearted, depicting innocent puppy love between two young royals. He inhaled deeply and exhaled, finally agreeing to reenact the scene.

 

“It’s not that emotional, though?” He asked questioningly. Baekhyun frowned, judging Kyungsoo slightly. “How is this not emotional? It’s a love confession! The “e” in confession stands for emotional, Kyungja. Now just get on with it!”

 

They positioned themselves next to each other, feet dangling from the couch. Baekhyun delivered his lines perfectly (because his character, Wang Eun, is basically Baekhyun but medieval, Kyungsoo thought), and finally, the confession scene started. As an alternative for the incense pouch Wang Eun gave to Seon Deok in the scene, Baekhyun gave him the sweaty towels he had used during their dance practice. Kyungsoo glared at him as a reply (and reluctantly accepted it, of course, he was a professional acting coach), a scenery very hilarious apparently to Baekhyun, as he stifled a laugh.

 

“I did manage to bring this one thing.” Baekhyun cheekily said, dangling the dreadful towel towards his acting partner. Still glaring, Kyungsoo read out his line. “I’m pretty sure Hae Soo will like it.”

 

"But it's yours!" Baekhyun exclaimed, his face turned serious. It would be more serious if the thing Baekhyun had on his hand weren't a sweaty towel. "Yeon Hwa was asking what kind of person doesn't even have an incense pouch."

 

Kyungsoo sat there quietly, turning his face the other direction, so he didn't have to face Baekhyun, as stated on the scene.

 

“Why are you embarrassing your husband? They say pretty boys like it.” He continued, tone still serious, but Kyungsoo could hear a hint of mischief on that line. He was thankful the script stated that his character must face the other direction because he was pretty sure he was blushing when Baekhyun changed the pronoun into "pretty boys" instead of "pretty girls."

 

Kyungsoo turned to face Baekhyun, which to his surprise, was also blushing. Baekhyun seemed taken aback and stuttered out his line. “Well… it’s not that I called you pretty- it’s just, I have some eye issues-“

 

The script said, "Seon Deok leans in towards Wang Eun and pecks him lightly on the lips.” As much as Kyungsoo wanted to do that, he decided that it was for the best that they wrap up their acting session that night and go home. He rolled his script and hit Baekhyun’s head with it.

 

“Good job! Practice over, Baekhyun. Now let’s go home.”

 

He was about to stand up when Baekhyun pulled him back to the couch, a frown visible on his face. “We’re not finished yet! Look, Seon Deok is supposed to kiss Wang Eun when he stutters!”

 

Geez, thanks for the reminder, Baek. As if I overlooked that.

 

“You want me to kiss you?” Kyungsoo asked questioningly, one of his eyebrows arched upwards. He managed to keep his tone neutral, though his heart was beating like crazy inside. Baekhyun laughed and winked as a reply. "Maybe?"

 

Baekhyun had always been a flirt, a prankster, a joker. Surely this was just another flirty joke he threw now and then. Kyungsoo sighed, and a plan came up to his mind. “Okay, you want to finish the scene? Start from the part where you said it’s not like you called Seon Deok pretty.”

 

A smirk graced Baekhyun’s face, and after he muttered a very enthusiastic “Yes, I get to kiss Do Kyungsoo!” he re-read the line. “Well… it’s not that I called you pretty- it’s just, I have some eye issues-“

 

Kyungsoo swiftly put his index and middle finger on Baekhyun's lips and close the gap between them, pressing his lips on his fingers. His heart was beating loudly at this point, but who cares anyway? After all, it was Baekhyun's request. When he pulled back, Baekhyun's eyes were as wide as ever; his cheeks tinted pink as if he had been drinking.

 

“Wow. You’re one hell of a determined acting coach, aren’t you?” Baekhyun laughed groggily, adamantly still shocked. He then stood up from the couch and offered his hand towards Kyungsoo. “Can’t wait for our next session. Now, are you ready to go home?”

 

Kyungsoo, still a little bit stunned after his own recent bravery, reached out to Baekhyun's hand, pulling him out of the couch. As they walk out of the building towards Baekhyun’s parked car, Kyungsoo wished Baekhyun would get more acting offers in the future.

 

You’re perfect to me, I imagined.

How would it be if we were together?

If only you say okay, everything is perfect. Oh baby.

 

One year passed by, and 2017 came. The group had always been the ambassador for Nature Republic; thus, it was customary to hold out an annual fan festival event. That year, it was no different. What made that year different was the silly missions the MC gave out to them.

 

Kyungsoo usually enjoyed doing those missions, really. It was fun and refreshing to do, plus it was always nice to provide the fans with the fanservice, but that day, Kyungsoo wasn't feeling it. He was in a bad mood; usually, he won't let hate comments get to him. Hell, he wouldn't even read them in the first place. He was just curious that day and decided to read the comments on the articles about him. One article turned to a dozen, and only after Jongin decided to took his phone away from him, he decided that it was indeed a wrong decision.

 

He still performed with all his heart and keeping the smile plastered on his face during the silly missions. Even the members knew him better. The members, especially Baekhyun. That day was his lucky day, though. It turns out there are always rainbows after the storm.

 

Kyungsoo was too busy to notice Baekhyun’s glances towards him ever since the fan meeting started, and he jumped slightly, his eyes glued to the big screen behind them when he heard Baekhyun called his name all of a sudden during a mission.

 

“I choose Kyungsoo!”

 

He didn't quite grasp the situation, at least not until the rest of the members chanted, “Kiss! Kiss!”

 

The MC clapped his hand in excitement, approaching Kyungsoo playfully. “Now, Kyungsoo-ssi! Baekhyun had chosen you to kiss him! Go on, then!”

 

Bewildered, he walked towards Baekhyun, who was grinning ear to ear, his left index finger pointing at his forehead. "Here, you must kiss me here, okay?" he said to the mic and screams erupted throughout the venue.

 

Kyungsoo playfully tapped Baekhyun's bang-covered forehead, which leads to more screams erupted from the fans. As he moved Baekhyun's bangs from his forehead, he could hear Baekhyun whispered to him, his microphone thankfully far from his mouth. "You can tell me what's wrong later at backstage,"

 

He huffed out a laugh, muttering something along the line of “Always so considerate, huh Byun?” before finally placing a kiss on Baekhyun’s forehead.

 

The kiss didn’t last that long, 3 seconds max, but Kyungsoo wished he could stay like that longer. When he pulled away from Baekhyun, the smile gracing the latter's face created butterflies in his stomach, and his good mood returned as if he never read those hate comments. Baekhyun, being a natural-born MC, quickly turned towards the fans and encouraged them to kiss their friend's forehead.

 

For the first time that day, Kyungsoo genuinely laughed. He wondered what kind of sorcery did Baekhyun use towards him. He wondered how the hell did Baekhyun make it so easy to make him forget all the bad things that had happened to him in just an instant. The night went on, and aside from wondering about Baekhyun's wonderful gift to lift Kyungsoo’s bad mood instantly, he imagined how perfect it would be if they could be together; to kiss and hold him whenever, wherever, and however he wants to. But alas, a man could only dream.

Nearing the end of 2017, the group went on a concert tour. Kyungsoo would be lying if he said that he wasn’t exhausted; the tours and the preparation for Swing Kids shoot worn him out, but he didn’t mind. After all, acting and singing are the two things in life that Kyungsoo cherishes dearly. But doing anything repeatedly with little rest, even if those things are the ones you love the most, would eventually tire you.

 

The group was in the middle of a concert, and it was time to talk and interact with the fans. As usual, each member took turns to speak, and Kyungsoo occasionally waved towards the audience, throwing his best smile despite his exhaustion (imagine running back and forth from the movie set to practice room every day for the past few months!).

 

When it was his turn to talk, he asked the audience questions and continued to share about his day. There was something that caught his attention, though.

 

Kyungsoo is a calm and rational person, but he couldn’t deny that he was a little bit possessive. He was possessive when he was dating his ex-girlfriend back in high school, and the trait obviously still lingered when he glanced towards his left, finding Sehun whispering things to Baekhyun, standing way too close to his liking.

 

He gritted his teeth, trying to stay calm. Perhaps it was the exhaustion talking because he couldn't help but let a “What are you two doing?” came out of his mouth. Sehun quickly separated himself from his hyung, with Baekhyun putting his index finger towards his mouth, signaling Sehun to be quiet.

 

The question came out a little bit harsher than he thought. Still, thankfully, the members and the audience seemed not to notice it and laughed it off, figuring that Kyungsoo probably was just scolding both Sehun and Baekhyun due to interrupting his talk.

 

That night after they wrapped up their concert, Kyungsoo further realized his feelings towards the older. For God's sake, he wouldn't just get worked up about someone being too close to anyone else except for Baekhyun. He fell even more deeply in love after all these years. This second realization then pushed him to do the most rational thing he could think about:

 

Distancing himself from Baekhyun.

 

What choices did he have, honestly? He obviously couldn’t just confess; it would ruin their friendship and perhaps jeopardize the whole group’s relationship dynamic. And so it began.

 

When his feelings got too unbearable to handle, he would shut Baekhyun completely out, ignoring his request to walk or even ride in the same car together, completely avoiding him at all costs. It would last for days or weeks, but as stated, when Baekhyun’s suspicion grew, Kyungsoo would be back to normal.

 

For almost one year, the act became a habit to Kyungsoo, and little did he know, it was killing Baekhyun inside. In 2018, when Kyungsoo decided to distance himself from Baekhyun yet again, he snapped. He felt very guilty of that, honestly, but he lost his own battle with his emotions.

 

The studio was quiet, as only he and Baekhyun were the only people there. The rest of the members already went to their homes, but Kyungsoo insisted on practicing and singing even more. He was kind of irritated, expecting the studio to be empty of people so that he could practice by himself, but it seemed like luck was not on his side, as it turned out the last person he wished to see right then was also insisted to stay longer in the studio.

 

“Kyungsoo, let’s go home together. I think we practiced hard enough! Tomorrow is going to be a long day for sure,” Baekhyun said, extending his hand towards Kyungsoo.

 

"You should go first. I want to stay here for a while." Kyungsoo muttered, avoiding the elder’s eyes. Baekhyun frowned, lowering his hand and putting his hand inside his pocket.

 

When he didn’t hear any indications of the other man leaving the room, Kyungsoo sighed. “Just go, Baek. Don't wait up for me. I really need to get the notes right."

 

But Baekhyun was a determined person, as he still stood there, his jacket in his hand, obviously ready to go home. "But it's late already, and you'll strain your voice if you push yourself too hard. Let's just go home and continue tomorrow?"

 

Kyungsoo gripped the bottle of water in his hand, and he finally snapped. "I told you, just fucking go home already. Why the fuck would you care if I strained my voice? Just let me practice in peace and leave me alone!”

 

Baekhyun flinched at the harsh words, eyes widening and unsure how to reply. Kyungsoo could hear the latter exhaled in frustration before finally opening his mouth to speak, his tone surprisingly calm.

 

"Look, Soo… I don't know what is happening to you, we've been so distant lately, and I just want to make sure that you're okay. I care about you because I'm your friend. Now I understand if you're stressed out, but really? To take it out on me?"

 

“It feels like I don’t even know you anymore, Soo.” He continued bitterly, turning so his back faced Kyungsoo as he walked towards the exit door.

 

“It’s killing me to see you acting like this for the past months. This whole thing-” Baekhyun then made a gesture, pointing between him and Kyungsoo back and forth. “-is killing me. I feel like I lost my best friend, and to make it worse, it seems like my own best friend hates me so damn much he completely shut me out and snapped at me like I’m nothing. Just... I’ll just go home, just text Junmyeon hyung know when you get home, so he doesn't worry."

 

It was the last thing Kyungsoo heard from Baekhyun before the door was slammed shut, leaving him finally alone in the studio. He groaned frustratedly, throwing the bottle to the floor, and walked around to calm himself. He was never the angry, aggressive type; he was typically calm and reserved. But he was just so damn tired of his own feelings. He was also mad at himself for letting Baekhyun down.

 

After his erratic breathing had calmed down, he figured the mood to practice more was gone already after he snapped. He decided to pack things up and leave the studio to rest at the dorm, figuring walking through the cold night will calm him more. Though he was still quite upset, he tried really hard during his walk back home to ignore the guilt in his heart; Baekhyun's sad eyes and words lingered inside his head. It’s killing me.

 

He swore to make things right as quickly as possible between them as he texted Junmyeon, who was already bombarding him with “Where the hell are you?” messages to let him know that he was on his way.

 

When he arrived at the dorm, he was surprised to find the shoe rack near their front door was almost empty; meaning there was almost nobody in the dorm. Nobody except…

 

“I know you’re avoiding me.”

 

A familiar, sad voice could be heard from the dining room, and Kyungsoo decided it was best to talk and apologize to Baekhyun that night. He took off his shoes and walked towards Baekhyun, who had a solemn expression on his face. He figured this wasn't any coincidence; the others probably had made awkward excuses to leave the dorm to let the two of them sort out their problem—Kyungsoo's problem, to be exact.

 

Kyungsoo figured answering him no wouldn’t result in Baekhyun leaving him alone. He exhaled and stared at Baekhyun. His lips forming a noticeable frown, sadness and hurt evident in his eyes. Kyungsoo hated himself right then, knowing he was the reason for Baekhyun's hurting.

 

“You didn’t think I won’t notice your pattern? You’d avoid me for weeks at a time and then come back to me as if nothing had happened. Why are you doing this?” Baekhyun continued. “It’s been what, almost a year since you started doing that? It’s killing me, Soo. You can just say anything if you have a problem with me. We can solve it together like adults instead of running away from me without any explanation. What happened?”

 

“I don’t think this is a problem that we can solve together, Baek," Kyungsoo said as he shook his head because it was true. He didn't think that his problem, regarding his own feelings towards Baekhyun, could ever be solved. At least not anytime soon, and definitely not involving telling Baekhyun. “You’ll end up pushing me away.”

 

To that, Baekhyun laughed sarcastically, humorless. "Don't you think we're in that stage already? We're already distant anyway. What could be worse than this if you tell me your problem?"

 

Losing you, Kyungsoo wanted to scream out. Losing you as a friend, a best friend, a partner in crime, a bandmate, a potential significant other.

 

“Losing you,” Kyungsoo said quietly, almost like a whisper. The dorm was already quiet, but Kyungsoo felt as if he was trapped inside a soundproofed room after he blurted out his fear towards the older man in front of him. Seconds passed felt like hours before Baekhyun opened his mouth in reply to him. "You know I won't ever leave my best friend behind-"

 

Something in Kyungsoo finally snapped, and he couldn't hold it any longer. "That's why Baekhyun! I can't just view you as my friend. You're more than that to me. You mean so much more than a, a friend, a duet partner, a bandmate, whatever role you have in mind, you mean so much more than that.”

 

"I care for you more than I've ever cared about anyone. It hurts to see you hurting. It kills me inside to see you holding back your tears whenever you feel down. It hurts me whenever you plan your dates with someone because I wish I could become that person."

 

He figured it was kind of a suicidal mission, but at least he would be relieved, having to tell Baekhyun about how he felt towards him. Scenarios flooded his mind, both of them being awkward around each other for weeks or perhaps months to come, and both will avoid each other as if they were a plague.

 

“I like you, Baekhyun. I’ve liked you since God knows when, matter of fact, I fucking love you.”

 

Kyungsoo hadn’t realized that he was crying until he felt his tears trailed down to his neck. He buried his face in his hands, because fuck it, the damage is done already. What he didn’t expect was Baekhyun switched his seat so he could sit next to Kyungsoo; the feeling of familiar warmth spread across his body when he felt a pair of arms hugging him, one arm caressing his back soothingly. He felt Baekhyun’s head on his shoulder after he had calmed down, hearing sniffs occasionally came out from the elder. Baekhyun was crying too.

 

“Since when, Soo..?” Baekhyun asked, voice raspy from crying. He wiped Kyungsoo’s tears from his face with his knuckles softly after Kyungsoo finally decided to let his hands down.

 

“Four years," Kyungsoo answered weakly; his answer came out more like a whisper. Might as well go all out, he figured. There's no turning back, after all.

 

"I can't believe we've wasted all these years-" Baekhyun stopped in the middle of the sentence and took a breath. "Do you have any idea why every single time I want to tell anyone about anything, I'd come running to you first? Do you remember why when I got my first role, I insist on practicing with you? I love spending my time with you. I love your company, I just….” Baekhyun paused; his expression seemed as if he was scared to continue, but the determination in his eyes was apparent. "I think I love you."

 

Kyungsoo just wanted to pinch himself as hard as he could to make sure that the moment he was in was real, that it wasn't just a dream because if it was, he was pretty sure he doesn't want ever to wake up. Baekhyun's confession rendered him speechless, and at the time, there were two kinds of emotions that he felt. Happy, because it turned out that the feeling's mutual but scared at the same time because he didn't want Baekhyun to feel forced to return his feelings.

 

“Baek, I… Are you sure? I don’t want you to feel forced to return your feelings, I don’t want you to say you like me back out of pity-“ and to that, Baekhyun kissed him, completely cutting him off. His mind went blank; all he could think about was Baekhyun, Baekhyun, Baekhyun. He returned the kiss, languid and slow as if Baekhyun was a delicate gem, and the time paused just for the two of them.

 

After a moment, they pulled back, catching their breaths. Both of their faces were red, their eyes puffy from crying, but to Kyungsoo, Baekhyun was still the most beautiful person in the whole world. He took one of Baekhyun's hands and rubbed circles on his knuckle, smiling because he just felt so happy and content. Warmness spread all over his body, his mind focusing on the only thing that mattered to him at that moment, Baekhyun.

 

“Does this mean we’re official?” Kyungsoo asked, full of hope, biting his lip nervously. Baekhyun flashed a dashing smile, his finger poking Kyungsoo’s nose playfully. “Only if you promise to compensate me for making me suffer for the past year.”

 

He brought Baekhyun’s hand to his lips and kissed it, and placing it back down but not forgetting to clasp it again with both of his hands this time. That moment, he swore he would never hurt Baekhyun anymore and to keep him close, never letting him go.

 

“I promise.”

 

All the guys in the world are jealous of me.

They must be jealous to death of me for having you.

Even after the sun goes down and the moon goes down, it will never change.

 

After the confession, things shifted between them. It appeared very subtly for the others; Kyungsoo was pretty sure the members already had an idea or two about what happened. Still, they decided to respect their privacy, and the group never talked about Kyungsoo and Baekhyun’s relationship explicitly.

 

Kyungsoo wasn't the type to show public display of affection, quite the opposite to Baekhyun. But their hugs do last longer; the subtle touches they would leave for each other whenever they were to be separated lingers just a tad longer. Occasionally, Kyungsoo would link his pinky with Baekhyun’s when they stood next to each other, just because.

 

During late nights, Baekhyun would sneak into Kyungsoo’s room and makes himself comfortable by sleeping soundly, his head tucked under Kyungsoo’s chin and his arm draped over his body. Sometimes, it’s Kyungsoo that would sneak into the other’s room to simply read a book on the bed, his left hand softly stroking Baekhyun’s hair.

 

Their relationship is lowkey, but they are happy nonetheless.

 

One night, Kyungsoo and Baekhyun were curled up against one another on the dorm’s couch, Kyungsoo’s head placed on Baekhyun’s shoulder. The TV was broadcasting The Director Cut’s Award, in which Kyungsoo won the Best New Male Actor category. Baekhyun was practically gleaming and gushing about the award non-stop, and though he had seen it live, he was eager to watch it again. (matter of fact, he was the one who suggested to watch the award show because, as Baekhyun had said dramatically when Kyungsoo recommend them to watch anything else rather than the award show, "My pleasure lies in my boyfriend's success!")

 

"You act like you're the one who wins the award,” Kyungsoo exclaimed, putting popcorns in his mouth because even he didn't know why Baekhyun's level of excitement consistently exceeds his when it comes to him winning an award.

 

Baekhyun huffed, his lips turned into the irresistible pout. “Is it so wrong to feel happy whenever my boyfriend swoon the Korean movie industry?”

 

Kyungsoo laughed at Baekhyun's theatrical way of expressing his admiration towards him. He adjusted his position to get more comfortable as he recalled his past memory. Ever since Kyungsoo made his acting debut and won his first award, Baekhyun had always been nothing but supportive. Out of all his friends and colleagues, the biggest, most glamorous congratulatory bouquet or hampers would come from Baekhyun (the long and extra tight hug was a bonus) whenever he came back to the dorm after those awards show.

 

Ever since they’re together, Baekhyun’s support towards him grows even bigger. Baekhyun would take both of them for romantic, fine dining dinners and showered him with his love and kisses (and another thing that isn’t as innocent as the other actions).

 

“Aww, look at you! All eyes were on you!” Baekhyun exclaimed, patting Kyungsoo’s thigh repeatedly to grab his attention. His eyes were glued on the TV just like a child watching their favorite cartoon on Sunday morning. Baekhyun then turned to face Kyungsoo, which made him lift his head from Baekhyun’s shoulder. He suddenly placed his hands on Kyungsoo’s cheek and squished them together.

 

“My Kyungja is perfect, huh? Got the looks, voice of an angel, the incredible talent of acting… everybody in this world must be jealous of you!" He cooed, half-mocking and half-serious.

 

Kyungsoo flashed his boyfriend his gummy smile and tried to pry Baekhyun’s hands off of his face. “Well, yes, they'd be jealous of me. But for another reason, that is.”

 

Baekhyun tilted his head in fake confusion, the corner of his mouth turned upwards to a smirk. “Oh? And what is that?”

 

Kyungsoo leaned closer; his finger playfully poked Baekhyun's nose. "They'd be jealous of me for having you." He finally said before pecking Baekhyun's lips and caught him by surprise.

 

He was half-joking, to be honest. Because who was he kidding? As Baekhyun's best friend (and lover now), he knew about all the confessions Baekhyun had received during their careers as idols, the lunch or coffee date invitations that Baekhyun rejected, and perhaps other singers on year-end award show that stare at Baekhyun for way too long. When his admirers find out that Baekhyun is no longer available, he was pretty sure they were up for disappointment and, most importantly: feeling jealous of whoever Baekhyun's partner is (in this case, Kyungsoo may proudly proclaim, me.)

 

Baekhyun let out a hearty laugh and pushed him away to the point he almost fell from the couch. “Ew! I never thought you'd be this gross! I kinda regret agreeing to date you now!"

 

It was Kyungsoo’s turn to laugh, launching himself at Baekhyun and hugging his waist tightly. “Too bad now,” he said, his voice muffled because he buried his face on Baekhyun’s neck. “I don’t think I’m going to let go of you anytime soon.”

 

(Little did the couple know, Sehun was standing near the living room, amusement evident in his face. He was about to record the lovebirds when Junmyeon, being the wise leader he is, dragged him away as he said, “Grow up, Sehunnie”)

 

You will find out that I’m a guy whom you can trust.

I don't know why, this unconditional emotion.

Did I ever imagine?

Next to me, you shine more brightly.

As I become a better guy.

 

One year passed, and before they knew it, their first anniversary was coming up.

 

The couple had agreed to celebrate it in Baekhyun’s apartment, as Baekhyun figured going out would just capture a lot of attention, and he wasn't in the mood to interact with people. Thankfully, Kyungsoo felt the same. Being an idol has many perks and benefits, but sadly, privacy isn't one of them. Their plan was to have a romantic candlelight dinner, the dishes courtesy of Kyungsoo and the wine courtesy of Baekhyun.

 

As Kyungsoo stepped into Baekhyun's apartment, groceries in hand for their dinner, he spotted Baekhyun sitting in the dining room, a sad frown apparent on his face. He seemed not to notice Kyungsoo’s arrival, as he jumped slightly when Kyungsoo called out his name.

 

“Hey. You’re back.” Baekhyun greeted, his frown instantly covered with his smile.

 

“You dozed off earlier, Baek. What were you thinking about?” Kyungsoo asked, ruffling the elder’s hair. He could clearly see Baekhyun was trying to say something, but he quickly shook his head.

 

“Nothing’s wrong, Soo.” He averted his eyes from Kyungsoo and turned his gaze towards the groceries sitting on the kitchen counter instead, changing the topic before Kyungsoo could ask another question. “Oh, are those the ingredients for our dinner? Let’s cook it together!”

 

Kyungsoo stared at Baekhyun in confusion, thinking that something must be wrong. The thought was shrugged off as he figured perhaps Baekhyun was simply daydreaming about something, and he followed his boyfriend to the kitchen.

 

As the evening progressed, though, Kyungsoo was sure Baekhyun had something in his mind. He could see that Baekhyun wasn't concentrating; he responded to Kyungsoo only after calling his name twice, and he kept forgetting the next step to do for their dinner's recipe. After the sauteed vegetable had almost burnt, Kyungsoo softly pulled Baekhyun’s shoulder with both of his hands and kissed his cheek. “Baek, I think you're tired. I'll finish this up, and you just wait, okay?"

 

Usually, Baekhyun would whine and insist on staying and helping him, but this time, he just nodded, walking towards his bathroom after he mumbled that he would take a shower first. This state of Baekhyun truthfully worried Kyungsoo. Was Baekhyun perhaps sick? Did he re-read the hate comments? His mind wandered as he finishes up the dishes quickly.

 

When Baekhyun finished his shower, Kyungsoo had just finished placing the dishes on the plate. Baekhyun then set the table, lighting up the golden candles, and opened the wine bottle he had prepared.

 

After eating his first bite, Kyungsoo decided to ask Baekhyun, worry evident in his tone. "Baek. Baby, what’s wrong? You’ve been really quiet. Are you okay?”

 

At first, Baekhyun shook his head as a reply, his eyes avoiding Kyungsoo’s, but Kyungsoo wasn’t the type to back down so quickly. “I know you, Baek. You know you can always tell me anything, right?”

 

To that, Baekhyun sighed. He bit his lip before finally gathered his courage and fixed his eyes on Kyungsoo. Kyungsoo was surprised to see Baekhyun’s glassy eyes, holding back his tears. “Did you know, 99% of people will automatically cry their heart out when asked ‘are you okay?’” Baekhyun asked as he tried to hid his tears with a laugh to no avail.

 

“Ah fuck, Soo, I'm so sorry, I did my best to act normal, and now our anniversary dinner's ruined because of me." Baekhyun cursed as he felt a tear slid down his cheek.

 

Kyungsoo hurriedly pulled his chair to be seated next to Baekhyun, his hand wiping Baekhyun's tears before grasping Baekhyun's hand and stroking it. "No, Baek, hey, look at me. It's not ruined. It's fine, okay? What matters is you, what happened?" he asked gently.

 

Baekhyun took a deep breath to calm himself before finally facing his boyfriend. "It's just… I was just scared."

 

Kyungsoo hummed, his hand still stroking Baekhyun’s knuckles. “What are you scared of, Baek?”

 

Baekhyun went quiet for a while before breaking the silence. "It's just… you're going to enlist in what, two months? We won't be able to meet each other that much for almost two years, and I know that enlisting is mandatory, but I can't help to feel worried, okay? What if something happened to you when you enlist?”

 

Baekhyun paused again before continuing, and Kyungoo lets him finish first. "What if… what if we couldn't make our relationship last? I mean, a lot of people break up when their partner enlists, and I don't want that to happen to us. Believe me, I'd do anything to make us work, but I can't help but feel scared, Soo."

 

Kyungsoo nodded, finally understanding why Baekhyun acted weird during the day. It was true; he would enlist in 2 months; he had told Baekhyun immediately the day he received his enlistment notice. Truth to be told, Kyungsoo had been scared too. He had heard stories of couples who break up in the middle of enlistment, and he vowed not to become one of them.

 

“Honestly, I was- no, I am scared too, Baek," Kyungsoo uttered, his hand now stroking Baekhyun's hair. "Who am I kidding? Two years of being apart from each other is terrifying. But hey, soldiers are now allowed to use their phones and leave their barracks twice a month. They have military leave too. You’re still my priority, you know."

 

Baekhyun hummed, and Kyungsoo took it as a signal to continue. "I can't promise you that long-distance relationship would be easy, but I can promise you this; I will always try my hardest to make this work and make the best out of my leaves, okay? I'll meet you as often as I could."

 

It’s one of Kyungsoo’s many traits that Baekhyun loves; him being sweet yet also realistic. He loves the way Kyungsoo didn't waste any time sugar-coating any bad possibilities; he promised to do something about those bad possibilities instead. Baekhyun then hugged him, inhaling Kyungsoo’s cologne deeply. “I promise to meet you as often as I could too.”

 

When he let go, Baekhyun was back to his bubbly self, though still not as bubbly as usual. “Aren’t you flattered that me, Byun Baekhyun, the Genius Idol, would allocate his time for you for free?”

 

Kyungsoo laughed as he softly pinched the back of Baekhyun's neck. It was Baekhyun's turn to yelp. "Now that's my Baekhyun. And yes, I am flattered."

 

Baekhyun pulled Kyungsoo’s arm out of his neck and shoved it towards Kyungsoo’s face, which took the latter by surprise. “Why are you always so violent with me? I’ll end up with bruises on my body which are not caused by hickeys!” Baekhyun whined, satisfied when Kyungsoo almost fell from his chair (thanks to Baekhyun’s quick reflex, he didn’t.)

 

After Kyungsoo protested, they went back to eat their dinner, Kyungsoo still seated perfectly next to Baekhyun. After they finished, after Baekhyun took a sip of the wine, he leaned to place his head on Kyungsoo’s shoulder, his breath slightly tickled Kyungsoo’s neck. “I’m sorry I ruined our anniversary, babe.” He mumbled.

 

Kyungsoo hated it when Baekhyun apologizes for things that aren’t his fault, his hand now pinching Baekhyun’s arm as he once again made a joking threat towards the latter. “If you say sorry one more time, expect a new bruise forming.”

 

Baekhyun only made a whining sound, almost puppy-like, and Kyungsoo lets go of his pinch. "But seriously, Baek, you didn't ruin it. Matter of fact, I'm grateful that you told me how do you feel. Promise me always to say anything on your mind, okay? I don't want you to bottle up all your feelings alone."

 

He could feel Baekhyun nodding as Baekhyun’s hair tickled the side of his face softly. He then lifted his head from Kyungsoo’s shoulder and filled the now two empty glasses with the rest of the wine. "We've been so busy pouring our concern to each other that we didn't get to toast for our anniversary, damn it." Baekhyun faked annoyance after putting down the now near-empty wine bottle and lifted his glass to propose a toast.

 

"To us, to the past one beautiful year with you, and to another year to come. Happy anniversary, Kyungja.” The nickname rolled out of Baekhyun’s mouth sickeningly sweet, and Kyungsoo couldn’t help but melt.

 

“Happy anniversary, Baekhyunnie. I love you.” Kyungsoo replied, also lifting his glass to clink it with Baekhyun’s. Baekhyun faked embarrassment as he dramatically put his hand on his chest. “My God, must you say that before we drink? I could choke, you know!”

 

Kyungsoo, even though he was the one who uttered "I love you," blushed, drinking his wine. His boyfriend could be very overly dramatic at times, but frankly, it's one of Baekhyun's many traits that Kyungsoo (secretly) loves the most.

 

It was safe to say that their anniversary dinner went smoothly that night. The next morning, Kyungsoo woke up with the sight of a naked Baekhyun on his side snoozing quietly, and he couldn't help but stare with admiration. As his hands gently caressed the latter's back, he silently thought in his mind, more determined than ever, to make this relationship last for long and hoped for their bond to get even stronger during his enlistment.

 

Two months passed, and before Kyungsoo officially enlisted, the group held out a farewell dinner for him. Baekhyun sat across him, and he used the opportunity to play footsies with the elder when Baekhyun least expected it. That night when they finished dinner, a few of them a little bit tipsier than ever (Baekhyun included, he wasn’t the strongest drinker after all), Kyungsoo jokingly said to the rest of the members to take care of Baekhyun when he leaves. Sehun snickered, scrunching his face in mock disgust, “Geez, okay lover boy, no need to make the rest of us feel more single here.” As expected, he earned a smack on his arm from none other than Junmyeon.

 

Both Kyungsoo and Baekhyun laughed it off, with Baekhyun going on an extra mile by kicking Sehun’s shin, making him wobble slightly.

 

When his enlistment day officially arrived, after the group sent him off, Baekhyun gave him a tight hug, and without Kyungsoo’s noticing, slipped something in his pocket. It was only after he settled in the barrack, ready to change his clothes when he found the things that Baekhyun had slipped into his pocket. Those things were a sleek, silver ring and a small polaroid photo of the two of them with the writings on the back that says, Don't get me wrong, it's not a proposal ring. I figured this would make you miss me less. Come back safely! – Baekhyunnie.

 

He laughed because it was kind of funny, really. It felt as if he was a soldier from the 1940s, receiving a heartfelt souvenir from their partner. Kyungsoo slid the ring to his finger and placed the photo inside his designated drawer. The upcoming days weren't going to be easy, but now, he was even more sure that he'd move mountains to make their relationship last.

 

If you wish and wish earnestly, will it come true like the fairytales?

A never-ending happy ending, happily ever after

I will trust you, protect you and comfort you.

I will be on your side. I will never leave your side.

 

Kyungsoo isn't a hopeless romantic.

 

He does believe in love, but he doesn't believe in fairytales or ever-lasting happily ever after. Not that he thinks every single couple will always break up and never be happy throughout their relationship, no. Realistically speaking, no matter how delightful their love life is, no couple ever experienced any relationship without hardships or fights.

 

He and Baekhyun were one of them.

 

The first few months of his enlistment were hard. They used to see each other almost every day, even if it only lasted for a few minutes due to their busy schedule. Now, he couldn't even leave the base for more than twice a month, and during those leaves, he had to make sure to allocate his time for his families and friends too.

 

Though soldiers were allowed to use their phones after the day, for most of the time, Kyungsoo was more than exhausted and went straight to his bed to rest. Baekhyun, thankfully, was very understanding. As much as he wanted to gush about how his day went and listen to Kyungsoo's stories of how he managed to handle the kitchen tasks given to him at the base, he understands that life as a soldier isn't easy and well-deserved rest were a luxury.

 

After all, Kyungsoo did manage to keep his promise to see Baekhyun as often as he could.

 

In December 2019, the group was going to hold the first day of their concert. Baekhyun knew that he had to give his all and be energetic throughout the event, but he couldn't seem to bring himself to be enthusiastic. To say that Baekhyun missed Kyungsoo was just a plain understatement;

he was feeling a little bit down because the last time he saw Kyungsoo was almost two months ago, and for the past two weeks, they hadn't been intensely in touch with each other. Baekhyun was too preoccupied with Exploration preparations, and Kyungsoo was also busy.

 

Baekhyun tried hard to put his most believable happy face that day, but he couldn't fool the rest of the members. He was sitting in front of the dressing room's mirror, his make-up freshly done before the group goes to the stage. He held his phone in his hand as he waited for the message notification that never came from Kyungsoo.

 

"Guys, you're up in 10 minutes! Get ready!"

 

He could hear the stage manager yelled from outside the dressing room, and he exhaled his breath, feeling a little disappointed. It was already 7 P.M., Kyungsoo would usually text him as soon as he could, but that day, he had received a total of zero messages. Chanyeol seemed to notice it and linked his arm on Baekhyun's shoulder in an attempt to cheer him up.

 

"He's probably still busy, Baek. He hadn't said anything in the group chat, too, right?" Chanyeol asked, his hand massaging Baekhyun's tense shoulder. Baekhyun frowned as he put the phone inside the drawer, his eyes meeting Chanyeol's.

 

"I know," Baekhyun grumbled. "I can't help but feel upset, and the fact that I technically don't have the right to feel upset upsets me even more." He sighed exasperatedly, locking the drawer. "Let's just go to the stage. Now, do I look normal?" Baekhyun asked the taller man, flashing him with his very much effortful smile.

 

"Uh… you look… less upset." Chanyeol stuttered, to which Baekhyun snorted. "But you still look good, though! Now let's go before manager hyung drags us out of here." He continued quickly, grabbing Baekhyun's hand and practically dragging him across the backstage hall. "You know, I guarantee you a hundred percent that you'll be the happiest man alive after tonight."

 

Baekhyun only scoffed because he was pretty sure nothing could just magically repair his sour mood that night.

 

As upset as Baekhyun could be, he is still a professional. The title Genius Idol isn't for nothing, after all. His dance was still as sharp as ever, and he managed to hit all his notes right (though he spaced out a little bit after covering Kyungsoo's part because, damn it, he missed him so much.)

 

Halfway through the concert, as usual, the group took their time to talk with the audience. These times were always Baekhyun's favorite; he always loved to interact with the fans and walk around the stage to meet them.

 

"There is a special guest here today, guys!" Chanyeol suddenly yelled out, to which the audience excitedly welcomed with screams. Baekhyun turned his head towards Chanyeol, confused. Who was this guest he was talking about? He tried to remember any guests worth mentioning but to no avail.

 

"Where is he, though? I can't see him! Can you please shine a light on him?" Sehun added. "He might not like it if we put him in the spotlight, but let's try!" Chanyeol was practically beaming, a glint of mischief apparent in his eyes as he winked towards Baekhyun. Could it be…

 

"There he is!" Jongdae yelled and chanted, "D.O.! D.O.!" followed by the rest of the members. Baekhyun frantically looked at the giant screen behind him and followed the rest of the members' gaze towards one particular spot, and there he was; Kyungsoo, as beautiful and cute as ever, standing in the VIP section, waving around the fan banner.

 

Baekhyun practically jumped out of shock and excitement, and if he could just jump over the barricade straight to Kyungsoo's place, he would, but it wouldn't be wise. He tried his best to act normal, keeping his excitement level the same as the rest of his members. "Yah, it's Roh Kisoo from Swing Kids! Tap dance makes people crazy~" he jokingly said to the mic, in which he earned laughter from the audience and his favorite person.

 

For the rest of the concert, he didn't have to fake his smile anymore because his mood was magically restored, and he couldn't wait to go backstage to meet Kyungsoo. He hit Chanyeol's shoulder playfully during the encore stage and yelled towards him, making sure to keep the mic out of his mouth. "You guys tricked me! You knew he was coming!"

 

Chanyeol only laughed, putting his hands up as a mock sign of surrender. "Blame it on Kyungsoo. It was his idea, after all."

 

When the group gave their final bow to the audience, Baekhyun practically sprinted towards backstage; relief spread all over him when he opened the waiting room, Kyungsoo, clad in the dark green sweater he loved the most, was already sitting inside. He spent no time to waste as he tackled the younger in a tight hug, resisting the urge to kiss him senselessly because as much as he loves Kyungsoo, he didn't want to give a racy performance to the members.

 

"I've missed you too, Baek." Kyungsoo managed to utter out his words after he laughed, Baekhyun's rant muffled on his neck due to the position they were in.

 

"Hyung, stop it before I have to peel Kyungsoo hyung off of you!" Jongin whined when he walked into the waiting room, witnessing their hug. Baekhyun reluctantly lets him go and threw a bundled-up towel at Jongin. "You just have to ruin our moment, don't you." He grumbled.

 

The rest of the members soon followed into the waiting room and took turns to hug Kyungsoo, throwing jokes about how they were going to hog Kyungsoo for themselves and let Baekhyun mop around in misery again.

 

"I kid you not; Baekhyun had been acting like a total broken-up schoolboy all day long. He literally never took his eyes off his phone to wait for your messages to come! I mean, what are we, teenagers?" Jongdae sneered when the group had already changed into more comfortable, less sweaty clothes as they sat scattered around the waiting room.

 

Baekhyun stuck out his tongue at Jongdae, and as much as he just wanted to lay down and put his head on Kyungsoo's lap, he figured Kyungsoo would dislike the very much public display of affection, so he simply rested his elbow on Kyungsoo's shoulder instead. "And whose fault is that? You guys owe me!" He then pushed Kyungsoo away from him and watch Kyungsoo toppled to the side. "Especially you!"

 

Kyungsoo laughed for the nth time that day as he tried to get up; the amount of fun he gets from spending his time with the members, especially with Baekhyun on sight, has always been limitless.

 

Moments like these were the example of happy times both of them experienced during Kyungsoo's enlistment. But a love story isn't always rainbows and butterflies; the storm is yet to come.

 

Around the middle of 2020, they had one of their biggest fights. Truthfully, if Kyungsoo had recalled correctly, it was inevitable. Both of them were equally stressed out and exhausted when they fought, and it even caused them almost to break up that day.

 

The Covid-19 outbreak had started to spread in South Korea in early 2020; the situation was somewhat chaotic at first at the base because soldiers didn't have much room to keep their distance from one another. Baekhyun had been worried sick since the outbreak first spread; he constantly texted and video called Kyungsoo to make sure he was okay.

 

Before the outbreak, Baekhyun had been very calm and understanding if Kyungsoo didn't reply to his message. But ever since the pandemic started, he couldn't help but feel paranoid when Kyungsoo didn't reply to his text at all, he was worried for his health. They had a few small fights-no, arguments regarding this, and Kyungsoo always told Baekhyun to worry less, and if he did, God forbid, get sick, he would surely tell Baekhyun to lessen his worry.

 

When Kyungsoo had his break in the middle of 2020, he visited Baekhyun's place to spend time with him. The day was going so well; they joked around, catching up, and even cuddled for a bit. One thing led to another, and before Kyungsoo knew it, they were angry at each other, their intonations high and irritated. Typically, their arguments didn't become big fights, but that day was different.

 

Kyungsoo didn't even remember what started their fight, but he was pretty sure it was because of their usual argument regarding Baekhyun's worries of him catching the disease at the base. Their arguments get even more heated and heated every second passing by, showing no sign for both of them to cool down.

 

"Well, excuse me for caring too much about my boyfriend! Can you blame me? Is it so wrong for me to worry when you rarely fucking reply to any of my messages? Is it so wrong to worry when we rarely see each other?!" Baekhyun yelled towards Kyungsoo, anger pouring out of him.

"We had this discussion hundreds of times! Baekhyun, my life doesn't just revolve around you! I can't just stand by and reply to your text all day! You can't just keep worrying all the time; it's fucking tiring!" Kyungsoo yelled back. "And let me ask you this, whose fault is it that we rarely see each other? You keep blaming it on me, Baek! Have you ever stopped for a second and think that this is your fault too? You're also God damn busy with work!"

 

"Oh, so now you're going to throw back accusations at me?" Baekhyun laughed bitterly. "Well, I am sorry once again if I worry too fucking much about your own well-being and us seeing each other! Let's see, what's there to blame? The fact that, oh, I don't know, a deadly virus is spreading around this country? The fact that is having to spend more time apart from each other rather than being actually together during the duration of our relationship? Or perhaps the fact that next year, when you discharge, I'll be the one who is going to enlist?" He said sarcastically as he counted with his fingers for each fact he spat out. "Wow, would you imagine, Kyungsoo? Let's do a little math here, shall we? Let's say we make it to our fifth year together. The only times we could spend together was only two fucking years! And you still blame me for worrying too much about our relationship?" Baekhyun said, finishing his sentence with a mock clap.

 

Kyungsoo groaned, massaging his temple. He almost wanted to give up, honestly. He just wanted to spend his rare free time happily; it was too tiring for him for fights like this. "What do you want me to do then, huh? You just keep throwing things at me without actually telling me solutions, Baek. I'm not a fucking mind reader, now you tell me, what the hell do you really want?"

 

Baekhyun went silent for a few moments, his breathing erratic. Obviously, he was still furious. "Maybe," the word lies on the tip of Baekhyun's tongue; usually, he would rethink his words over and over again, but at that moment, he was just very emotional, stressed out, and tired. "Maybe we should just call it quit. Perhaps it is easier said than done for us to continue like this; we can just… break up, and who knows? Maybe it will be better for us to be together again after I enlist."

 

Kyungsoo could feel a lump in his throat; he just wanted to cry out the angry tears he had been holding since earlier. He tried to stay calm and walked quickly towards Baekhyun's door to leave. Before he opened the door, he glanced one more time towards Baekhyun, who was then keeping his head low, his hand supporting the weight of his head. "If you want it that way, so be it."

 

And just like that, Kyungsoo slammed the door, leaving Baekhyun alone in his apartment.

 

Kyungsoo drove around the city for a bit, figuring heading back to the dorm wouldn't be the best option. He must calm down first before bringing himself to meet anyone else. He ended up sitting in a park, tears brimming in his eyes, but he didn't seem to care. He thanked God the park was relatively quiet; he was almost the only person there. He didn't want to cry, but before he could prevent it, tears trailed down his eyes. Did Baekhyun just suggest them to break up? Was it really the end of all those years of pining over him and two years of being together? Tomorrow he would be required to go back to the base, and after he sat down for a while at the park, he decided to try at least to make things right between them before he went. After all, he admitted he was harsh towards Baekhyun after knowing his insecurity regarding their relationship.

 

He wanted to go back to Baekhyun's apartment again, but he figured it would be better for him to go back to the dorm first. Before he knew it, it was late at night already when he drove back to the dorm. When he entered the dorm's passcode, he was surprised to see the shoe rack empty except for a familiar pair of shoes. Hope swelled in his heart, and then he spotted Baekhyun, his eyes swollen and face red from apparently crying.

 

"Baekhyun," Kyungsoo huffed out his name, stunned. Baekhyun quickly turned his head towards the dorm's entrance, immediately walking towards Kyungsoo and engulfed him in a hug.

 

"Soo, I'm so sorry. I wasn't thinking straight; I didn't mean what I said earlier," he hoarsely whispered. Kyungsoo felt the grip on his waist getting tighter as he moved his hand up and down Baekhyun's back. "At first, it feels like I'm saying the right option for both of us, but I was wrong. When you left the apartment, I suddenly remembered about your promise of making us work, and I realized that I couldn't afford to lose you." He let go of Kyungsoo's waist, placing both of his hands on Kyungsoo's chest instead.

 

"I can't lose you too," Kyungsoo replied, gently took Baekhyun's hands, holding them with his own. "I'm sorry too, Baek. It was selfish for me not to think of your feelings and worries. I didn't realize that our time is very limited until you pointed it out for me." He brought one of Baekhyun's hands to his lips and kissed it. "Again, I know it’s hard to maintain our relationship, with us taking turns to enlist and all. But our fight earlier just made me realize that we care deeply for each other, and I promise to change, okay? I will make sure to keep updating you, so you don't have to worry about me anymore."

 

Baekhyun nodded and brought Kyungsoo back to his arms again. Kyungsoo returned his hug, gently rocking both of them. "Promise me to stay by my side, please?" Kyungsoo asked the man in his embrace.

 

"Always."

 

 

 

I lost my mind.

The moment I saw you

Except you, everything get in slow motion

Tell me, if this is love.

 

"What do you think about the most these days?"

Kyungsoo didn't even hesitate for a second, immediately answering, "Discharge."

"What makes your heart flutter the most these days?"

The answer remained the same, though a hearty laugh could be heard at the end of his response. "Discharge."

 

2020, December.

 

Kyungsoo loves his country very much, but he couldn't help but feel giddy at the thought of his discharge from the military. Sure, being a soldier for one and a half years taught him many unforgettable lessons, but he couldn't help but miss home and his life pre-military. Many thoughts kept him motivated, even pushing him to work a lot harder than before nearing his discharge. Those thoughts include being able to meet his families and friends as often as he could, continue his career as an idol and actor, being able to whatever he wishes to do without needing anyone's approval (and yes, that includes sleeping above 10 P.M.), and last but not least, to be reunited with Baekhyun finally.

 

He deliberately didn't use his vacation leave to round them up nearing his discharge, enabling him to leave earlier from the base. After he gave his final salute, he stepped outside the base, feeling very content and satisfied, having already finished his mandatory service. He walked towards a familiar sleek, black-colored Audi, its driver already waiting outside the car, leaning against the driver door.

 

He looked gorgeous with his platinum blonde hair, flashing a sweet smile Kyungsoo had missed the most. The smile was infuriatingly sweet, and Kyungsoo couldn't help but feel whipped.

 

"Salute! Congratulations on your discharge, soldier!" Baekhyun said, throwing a salute pose towards Kyungsoo, his body lined upright.

 

"At ease, soldier." He chuckled after returning a much better, military-trained salute pose. "And technically, I'm not officially discharged yet. You can salute me again on 25th January. Until then, use your time to practice your pose." Kyungsoo joked as he opened the car's trunk, shoving his backpack inside.

 

When Kyungsoo entered the passenger's side, Baekhyun quickly noticed the silver ring he gave to Kyungsoo before his service wrapped around Kyungsoo's left index finger. "If I'm not mistaken, rings are supposed to be placed in your ring finger." He smirked, taking Kyungsoo's hand (and not planning to let go anytime soon, he supposes.)

 

"Perhaps I will move it one day," Kyungsoo answered coyly, and he couldn't help but blush when Baekhyun placed a kiss on his fingers, lips slightly grazing his silver ring. Baekhyun kept on holding Kyungsoo's hand, placing it on his thigh as he drove with others. "Touchy, aren't we?"

 

Baekhyun playfully bit his knuckles as a reply, and the grip on Kyungsoo's hand only tighten when he yelped and tried to pull his hand away. The drive was quick; they went to Kyungsoo's favorite soul food restaurant before heading back to Baekhyun's apartment. After he left the base, he planned to stay for a few days in Seoul with Baekhyun, and then he planned to visit his family before finally returning to Seoul to continue his work.

 

Right after they finished eating, the snow started to fall outside. It was Baekhyun who pointed the snowfall, excitedly poking Kyungsoo to grab his attention. "Soo, look! The snow is falling! Can we take a walk first before heading back?"

 

Kyungsoo didn't really fancy the idea of being in the cold, but the combination of the warm, taste-like-home Samgyetang he had just consumed and Baekhyun's puppy eyes managed to overthrow his dislike towards the cold weather. He agreed, and after paying, they decided to walk side by side for a while before returning back home.

 

Despite disliking cold weather, he loves snowfalls. Call him a sap, but for Kyungsoo, snowfalls made everything more beautiful and ethereal. There was a public park near the restaurant, and the atmosphere was lovely. The park was still giving Christmas spirit as the fir trees scattered in the park were covered in beautiful white snow, a few of the bigger ones dangling with festive gold and red Christmas decorations. The lamp inside the lamp posts emitted golden rays, and he could spot a small bridge decorated with LED lights.

 

He was thankful the park wasn't as crowded as he had expected it to be; otherwise, a lot of people would recognize them, and snapshots of the two of them would circulate everywhere on the internet.

 

Kyungsoo truly savored moments like this; to be able to walk next to Baekhyun's side and simply enjoying each other's company. He really loves the way whenever they stop talking; the silence wasn't awkward; it was more comfortable, lulling silence.

 

They took a seat under a big tree, sheltering them from the light snowfall. Baekhyun looked really cute and tiny despite being slightly taller than Kyungsoo; his head covered in a maroon beanie, a few snowflakes dropped on his blonde fringe. He could see Baekhyun glancing around, making sure no peering eyes could be found. When he decided the situation was clear, he exhaled his breath, puffs of air coming out of his mouth, and positioned himself so he could place his head on Kyungsoo's shoulder.

 

"Are shoulders really that comfortable for you?" Kyungsoo laughed because he noticed Baekhyun really, really loves to do this.

 

"Not every shoulder. Only yours. How on earth do your shoulders fit me perfectly?" He retorted at Kyungsoo. He then could feel Baekhyun averting his eyes at something above them, and he heard a gasp. "Kyungja, look! It's a mistletoe!"

 

He glanced upwards, the sight of mistletoe hanging on the tree's branch greeting him. He glanced back towards Baekhyun, who was already smiling ear to ear. "You know what it means." Baekhyun cheekily said.

 

Kyungsoo didn't know what came over him; his attention was focusing solely on his boyfriend. Baekhyun looked really beautiful and irresistible, and as soon as his gaze landed on him, he felt as if time had stopped entirely; his surroundings went in slow-motion. He was utterly infatuated by Baekhyun.

 

Perhaps it was the snowfall that made the situation romantic and almost drama-like, or maybe it was the golden lights that emitted from the lamps that complimented Baekhyun's blonde hair perfectly, making him looked endearing. Or maybe, Kyungsoo thought silently, It's because I love him.

 

Usually, he won't even kiss Baekhyun in front of their closest friends, let alone in a public place. The moment felt right, though. Nobody was near them as they were located away from other visitors. Without any hesitation, he caressed Baekhyun's cheek softly before placing it on his chin and leaned in to capture his lips in a slow, sweet kiss. He could tell Baekhyun was shocked initially, not expecting Kyungsoo to do something so brave, but he returned the kiss nonetheless with the same passion he received.

 

Baekhyun fluttered his eyelash when they pulled away, panting a little bit, and he laughed, and again, maybe Kyungsoo is whipped, but he swore it was the sweetest sound Kyungsoo had heard that day. "What's gotten into you, huh?"

 

Kyungsoo is whipped already; he felt he might as well go all out that day. "I think love has gotten into me."

 

Sharing and learning countless emotions every day with you

Fighting, crying, and hugging.

Tell me, if this is love

 

Time does fly away when you're spending it with your loved ones.

 

He feels as if it was just months ago he had confessed to Baekhyun, teary-eyed and all. As if it was only a few weeks ago, they had their big fight, which made their bond even stronger since then. Nonetheless, he feels grateful.

 

Around two years ago, Kyungsoo had purchased a beautiful house by the beach. It was everything he ever wanted as a leisure home, and he was very proud of it. He guides a blindfolded Baekhyun towards his porch, facing the sea, in which a complete dinner set had been placed on the table, and a red velvet-colored box placed on the middle. A vase filled with red roses and yarrows is also present on the table.

 

"Kyungja, I know your house like the back of my hand okay, why would you blindfold me?" Baekhyun protests, though still complying with his boyfriend, and steadily walks towards the designated place.

 

"Because it is a surprise, Baekhyun. I'm trying to be romantic here!" He whines and carefully steps in front of Baekhyun to stop him from walking. "Okay, I'll take off your blindfold now!"

 

As soon as his vision returns, a smile crept on Baekhyun's face as he glances towards the table first, then back at Kyungsoo. "I see what you did here. Who says you're not a hopeless romantic, huh?" he smirks.

 

"I am still not a hopeless romantic, Baek." Kyungsoo protests, despite doing all of the things a hopeless romantic would do for their lover.

 

"Whatever you say, babe." Baekhyun teases, kissing the frown off Kyungsoo's face before he giddily takes a seat. His attention then goes into the red velvet colored box on the table. "Is this my present?" he asks, taking the box in his hand, inspecting it. "I thought we agreed on no anniversary present this year! You cheated! I knew it! I should've brought yours!"

 

Kyungsoo only grins, jokingly apologizes for playing not by the rule. "Let's open it after we eat, okay?"

 

Baekhyun fakes his annoyance, but Kyungsoo knows Baekhyun is delighted at the surprise present. After they finish the dinner, Kyungsoo reaches out for Baekhyun's hand across the table, gently rubbing circles on the back of his hand. "Can you believe it? Seven years of being together! Who would've thought I managed to put up with you for seven whole years?" Kyungsoo asks.

 

Baekhyun swats Kyungsoo's hand away and pretends to be mad. "It is you who should be grateful for me!"

 

Kyungsoo laughs, flashing his famous heart-shaped smile. "Don't you want to open your gift? You were so eager on opening it earlier."

 

Baekhyun's eyes are practically gleaming as he nods, full of excitement. He takes the red velvet box and opens it. It turns out to be a music box, with two golden statues twirling as soon as Baekhyun opens it. The two golden figures resemble them, and Baekhyun finds it very touching; the statues hold hands and hold a mic in their free hand, indicating a duet between them.

 

The song seems really familiar to Baekhyun. It only takes him a few seconds to recall the title of the song, and when he does realize it, his eyes instantly waters. "Kyungsoo, is this-" a tear falls down his cheek before he's able to finish his sentence. "Is this our first duet song? Is this What is Love?"

 

Kyungsoo nods, quickly wiping down Baekhyun's single tear with his thumb. "Do you like it?"

 

Baekhyun stares at him for a few moments before finally opening his mouth to answer, still amazed and touched by the beautiful gift in front of him. "Kyungja, are you kidding me? This is perfect! How the hell- I don't even know what to say!"

 

It is very understandable why Baekhyun cries out happy tears when he heard the song. The song is indeed their first-ever duet, recorded when both of them were still young and naïve. It means a lot for them, as the song brings back so many memories of the past years.

 

"There's still something else too. Can you open the small drawer for me?" Kyungsoo asks, biting his lip nervously.

 

Kyungsoo's heart beats rapidly in his chest as he stares at Baekhyun opening the small drawer, the music box still playing softly. Baekhyun gasps as he looks at the inside of the drawer and stares at Kyungsoo in disbelief.

 

"I always thank God every day for giving me a chance to meet you," Kyungsoo says, standing up from his chair and walks towards Baekhyun, whose eyes are glossy again. "You've made me a better person all around, you always stay by my side during thick and thin, and truth to be told, I can't see myself without you, Baek."

 

"During all these years, you've become someone who I cherish and treasure the most. You made me realize that the life I want to spend is the life with you. So, Byun Baekhyun," Kyungsoo continues and kneels in front of him, taking Baekhyun's hand. Baekhyun smiles, and he doesn't care about the tears that are about to fall. Right now, he only cares about the man he loves the most, kneeling in front of him, eyes determined as ever, and asks the question he's been waiting for a while now.

 

"Will you marry me?"

 

My babe, baby babe, baby. Baby-

I can tell, is this is love?

I will make you smile often like a child

I will make you feel the most comfortable,

like a friend.

My babe, baby babe, baby. Baby-

Tell me, what is love-