Byun Baekhyun watches as storm clouds begin to gather between Park Chanyeol's brows. Gone was the smiling man who opened the door and warmly greeted him just a few moments ago. Chanyeol's lips thinned and Baekhyun knows then that he should have kept his mouth shut. He had a feeling it would come to this—this being him standing awkwardly in front an angry giant—the moment he started his car this morning for the twenty-minute drive to Chanyeol's apartment. But, being acquainted with the other man for quite some time, he figured it was something he could easily overcome. The Park Chanyeol he knows is, after all, a very gentle guy. Although, now the recipient of an impressive glare, he wonders what in the world made him believe that.
"What did you say?" the other man asks, stepping closer and backing Baekhyun up against the front door. Chanyeol looked like he just got out of bed with his black hair, disheveled, and his t-shirt and pajama bottoms, rumpled. His gaze was sharp, though, as he stared at Baekhyun. "Can you, like, repeat that?"
Baekhyun hates to admit that it was intimidating as hell, worse when he has to tilt his head up to look at Chanyeol towering over him. "Um, It's... over?"
"Oh, really now."
The smaller man nods hesitantly.
Breaking up is always a messy business but what makes this situation even messier was that Baekhyun and Chanyeol weren't even in a relationship. The 185cm man staring him down is the boyfriend—unfortunate ex-boyfriend now—of Joo-hyun, Baekhyun's dear, beautiful brat of a cousin who's probably lounging comfortably in her first class seat, her plane already halfway across the globe for her so-called much needed, though ill-advised, 'soul-searching.'
"Where is Joo-hyun?" Chanyeol says, leaning further in. Baekhyun would've wanted to get away but the other guy conveniently places his large hands against the door on either side of his smaller frame, effectively trapping him. "Why are you the one breaking up with me?" Chanyeol's deep voice turns gruff at the last word, the animosity replaced by genuine confusion.
"She's... Joo-hyun is, um, gone," Baekhyun answers haltingly.
Chanyeol holds his gaze for a few tense seconds before he unexpectedly steps back. The taller man locates his phone from a nearby couch and dials a number, hand resting on his hip as he impatiently waits for the other line to pick up. Despite being freed, Baekhyun's still leaning against the door, watching him dazedly and asking himself again what he was doing there.
“Voice mail, of course,” he hears Chanyeol mutter and then in a falsely cheerful tone, “Well, hi there, babe. So your cousin's here to tell me you're breaking up with me and I find it really funny because I thought," the man glances at Baekhyun and his expression changes, eyes narrowing, "Joo-hyun, I deserve better than this."
Baekhyun's arms fall limp at his sides as absurdity of the situation finally hits him. He realizes that no matter how pure or noble his intentions were in coming here, this was still so wrong. He has no right to assume that Chanyeol, or anyone, can take being treated this way. His cousin was a fool but Baekhyun was a bigger fool for going along with her.
"So, yeah," the other guy continues, "until you show your face and give me a proper explanation, I'm holding your beloved Baekhyun hostage."
Baekhyun's eyes round with shock. "What?"
Chanyeol ignores him and ends the call with an ominous, "You know where to reach me."
The tall man picks a set of keys from the coffee table and he grabs on to Baekhyun’s arm on his way out the door, dragging the bewildered man with him. Baekhyun tries to pull his arm back but Chanyeol's grip is tight.
"Hey, wait! Where are you taking me?!"
The taller man doesn't stop until they're standing beside a blue pick up and that's only to open the passenger door and motion for Baekhyun to get it in. He doesn't and Chanyeol frowns when he tries to pull free once more.
"No. Why would I get in? Where are you even—“
Chanyeol moves closer and Baekhyun finds himself in the same position he was in earlier, this time backed against the car and trapped by the other male's body. His cousin's ex gives him another glare. Baekhyun decides he has had enough of it so he returns it with one of his own. He pushes against Chanyeol but despite putting all his energy into it, the other doesn’t budge. The guy leans over him until his face is so close, Baekhyun can feel his hot breath against his cheek.
“Let me go.”
“Get. In. The. Car.”
“No!” Baekhyun exclaims. “I will not get into your car. This won’t solve anything. I don’t—“
But he doesn’t get to finish his protests because Chanyeol’s suddenly lifting him up and throwing him onto the passenger seat. It’s embarrassing how easily the taller man was able to do it but he has no time to feel sorry for himself (or even sit up straight) because, suddenly, Chanyeol’s behind the wheels and is already maneuvering the pick up out of the driveway.
“Shit!” Baekhyun blurts out when they pass by his own car parked outside Chanyeol’s apartment building. His heart sinks as it disappears from sight when they took a turn towards the main road and speed further away. This can't be happening, he shakes his head in disbelief. His hand goes to the door latch but he isn’t crazy enough to jump out of a moving vehicle, goddamnit.
He faces the other male with a scowl, intending to put his foot down and get himself out of there. He’s basically a dwarf next to him but Park Chanyeol is just a man, albeit an angry one, and Baekhyun shouldn’t let himself be bullied because he’s a man, too!
“Stop the car this instant!”
Chanyeol doesn’t reply, doesn’t even look his way, and just continues to drive. Baekhyun hates to admit it but he’s panicking. Based on the taller man’s expression, Chanyeol’s serious about his threat to Joo-hyun. Baekhyun’s being taken against his will without his wallet or his phone. He has lots to do—has his restaurant to run—and his friend and co-owner, Kim Jongdae, is probably tearing his hair out now trying to contact him. The restaurant’s hosting a party for the city Mayor in three weeks and needless to say, the event is the break they’ve been waiting for. This will get them exposure and more business if everything goes well. But for that to happen, he needs to be there with Jongdae and not on the highway with a brooding Chanyeol, taking the exit to god knows where.
“Chanyeol,” he starts to say, “let’s talk about this. Joo-hyun, she…” Baekhyun stops when he sees Chanyeol’s hold on the steering wheel tighten. The other male steps on the gas and Baekhyun’s thrown back against his seat. Bad idea to mention his cousin’s name, then. “Chanyeol, you can’t just hold me hostage like this.”
The young writer offers him a quick glance before he returns his gaze on the road. He stays silent but maybe that’s enough because the split second his eyes met Baekhyun’s, the shorter male saw the sad desperation there that left him quite speechless.
What have you done, Joo-hyun?
What have I done?
Baekhyun leans his head against the car window and closes his eyes.
He wakes up with a headache. The sun is already high and Baekhyun’s right cheek feels hot from where it was pressed against the car window. He winces as he sits up and gingerly rubs his nape to get the stiffness out. He abruptly pauses when he realizes that the vehicle has already stopped. And he’s alone inside.
Baekhyun gazes out of the tinted glass and sees his reflection first, one side of his caramel-colored hair sticking up awkwardly and the bags under his small eyes more swollen than usual. He looks a fright, a far cry from the always-put-together young restaurateur he normally is. The petite male instinctively straightens his white shirt and pats his hair down before he opens the car door.
His feet touch the gravelly ground and the smell of the outdoors hit his nostrils. Up ahead is a wide trail lined by rows of trees. More trees and shrubs dot the place around him and on one side, through the gaps, he can get a glimpse of water. A lake? Where am I? He turns and he sees that the pickup was parked in front of a two-story house, its façade several shades lighter than the cloudless afternoon sky. He makes his way up the wooden porch, to the front door and he knocks, feeling inexplicably silly standing there, while he waits for someone to answer. After a few more tries and getting nothing, Baekhyun decides to brave it, turning the knob and finding it unlocked.
It’s quiet inside, dark after the brightness outside. All the windows are closed but from the little light that came through the door, Baekhyun can make out a small living area to his right. There are stairs leading to the second floor to his left and further on, he sees a kitchen and a dining table for two. The walls are painted a homey pale yellow, he thinks, decorated here and there with small framed paintings.
“Um, Chanyeol?” he calls out. Nothing. After a few seconds, he calls his name again, louder this time but he still receives no reply. Great. Did he just abandon me in the middle of nowhere?
Unwilling to let the fear of being abandoned take over him, Baekhyun moves forward, hoping to find a phone or anything he can use to contact Jongdae. But then he hears a series of loud knocks coming from somewhere beyond the house. There’s another door directly opposite of the front one, and he goes to open it. Baekhyun doesn’t expect the gorgeous view waiting for him there. A lake spreads out before him, bright and sparkling under the sun, its waters, calm and peaceful.
The house, he realizes is standing on the edge of a low cliff. There’s set of stone steps leading to a small beach below and he follows it down to where he finally finds the source of the knocking sounds. Park Chanyeol’s there with his back to Baekhyun, hammering away on a slab of wood. He’s changed from his pajamas to a pair of worn out jeans, wearing nothing on top that the smaller man can clearly see the pull of muscles in his arms and shoulders as he continues to hit on the wood. Baekhyun doesn’t know why but, somehow, his heartbeat quickens to a point where it's almost painful as he watches the other guy. And that strange feeling makes him suddenly nervous.
The taller man turns to face him. His dark hair is pushed back from his forehead and Baekhyun can clearly see the beads of sweat on his temples. He’s no longer frowning but Chanyeol’s eyes are shuttered while he watches Baekhyun slowly make his way towards him. Baekhyun stops a few feet away, slipping his hands inside his back pockets to keep them from trembling.
“I need to go back to the city.”
Baekhyun feels like he’s talking to a wall when Chanyeol just remains standing there, unresponsive. He walks closer in frustration. “Chanyeol, I said, I need to go back.”
“No.” Then Chanyeol turns and picks up his hammer again as if to dismiss Baekhyun’s presence.
That’s it? That’s the only answer he’s getting after being dragged miles and miles away from home? In a burst of anger, Baekhyun grabs the hammer from the taller man’s hand and throws it to the side. “This is stupid!”
“I know!” Chanyeol suddenly shouts back. “It’s really, really stupid! Don’t you think I know? I just ‘kidnapped’ my runaway girlfriend’s precious cousin hoping she’d come back to explain why she’s dumping me after two years.”
He laughs and the sound is anything but happy. “Stupid. I was stupid to think everything was going to be okay. I was writing her a book! And the stupid me thought that when she sees it…” Chanyeol faces Baekhyun and he’s still laughing but his large eyes are bleak. “I don’t want to be this crazy person. But damn it, I loved her and she sent a guy I barely know to break up with me. Did you know I bought couple rings? And I had hers engraved: To my muse. Bullshit. What am I supposed to feel?”
Chanyeol takes an uneasy breath. It’s a cross between a sigh and a sob and Baekhyun feels his throat close up. The taller man points at his own chest. “Because I certainly don’t want this! It’s so painful, I can barely breathe.”
Baekhyun doesn’t know how to respond. He clearly doesn’t know anything. If it weren’t so sad to watch a grown man’s heart breaking in front of him, he’d laugh at how stupid he is, too. Five minutes. Penciled into his planner for today is a five-minute meeting to tell Chanyeol that Joo-hyun is breaking up with him. A quick in and out. It was supposed to be so simple.
“Did she tell you why?” Chanyeol asks. “Do you know why she left?”
She was bored . Can he really tell him that? That would be like crushing Chanyeol’s heart all over again, wouldn’t it? “No, she didn’t. I’m sorry.”
“Yeah? I’m sorry, too... she’s probably not, though, right?” Then Chanyeol drops the happy mask and he shakes his head before going back to the house, leaving Baekhyun standing there, confused and at a loss.
He shouldn’t have stuck his foot in where it wasn’t needed. Baekhyun should have just let Joo-hyun do whatever she wanted. She said she was bored and that she needed a change of pace—her problem and not his. It was just that when his cousin told him that her first course of action was breaking up with her boyfriend and the cold way she intended to do it, Baekhyun suddenly remembered Park Chanyeol’s deep, soothing voice and his ready smile the times they saw each other throughout the couple’s two-year relationship. He felt sorry for the guy and believed he didn’t deserve to be dumped callously over the phone. Now look at where that small spark of sympathy got him.
Joo-hyun told him that Chanyeol wouldn’t mind. She told him with a pout—the same famous pout plastered on billboards all over the city—that he was the most uncaring boyfriend in the world. Park Chanyeol, she said, is a very cold man who spends more time with his computer and manuscripts than he does with his pretty girlfriend. Baekhyun should’ve known that it wasn’t all true. He remembers the few times he and Chanyeol have talked and he didn’t seem cold at all. Shy, perhaps, and quiet. But not indifferent.
What is he to do now? Baekhyun rubs his palm down his face. How does he get out of this hole he dug for himself?
He thinks and thinks and thinks of why everything is so messed up. But his thoughts just go on a loop, replaying the scene earlier over and over again, of Chanyeol standing angrily in front of him, baring his soul out to the ‘the guy he barely knew.’
He’s not aware how long he stayed thinking but knowing that standing there and staring at the lake will do him no good, Baekhyun goes back up the steps towards the house. He hesitates before opening the back door, still not knowing what to say to Chanyeol after what happened. But he needn’t have worried. The house is empty. He finds a bowl of cereal on top of the dining table and beside it was a note written in a neat script. Gone out, it says. Baekhyun sighs. How long does Chanyeol intend to keep him there?
His eyes sweep the room and in the stillness he realizes that he can get away from this. It’s his chance. Chanyeol’s gone. Baekhyun’s an adult who can stand on his own two feet and walk away from there. What the hell’s stopping him?
“What’s wrong with you, Byun Baekhyun?” he asks aloud. Seriously, he could’ve ended this even before Chanyeol shoved him into his pick up. Instead, he let himself be taken away. Now, he’s given the opportunity to escape yet he’s already thinking of how to survive the next few days with Park Chanyeol. “Wow. You are out of your mind.”
But then he recalls, the way those dark brown eyes…
It’s so painful, I can barely breathe.”
Baekhyun takes a spoonful of the stale cereal and eats it. It tastes like cardboard but he still forces it down. He winces when he imagines eating this kind of stuff while he’s here.
“Just until you’re okay, Park Chanyeol,” he mutters right before he swallows another mouthful.
It’s Thursday and Baekhyun learns that it’s market day in Daecheon. He thinks Chanyeol chose a great place to build a vacation house. It's near the sea and in a city only two hours away from Seoul. He’s now inside a phone booth near the market, waiting for the call to connect, and he absently observes the heavy traffic of people coming and going, lugging bag upon bags of seafood and groceries. He taps on his pocket, making sure that Chanyeol’s car keys are safe within.
He doesn’t feel guilty at all that he took them without the owner’s permission. He woke up earlier today in clothes wrinkled beyond repair, with his stomach growling so loud in hunger so he felt no qualms creeping into Chanyeol’s room and getting the keys and, well, some money to buy what he needed. Baekhyun feels grumpy, too, because the younger man let him sleep on the couch and it doesn’t make for a comfortable bed while the tall guy looked perfectly snug on his queen-sized bed on the second floor. Chanyeol’s doing a poor job of being his captor and he would have a word with him just as soon as he takes care of his stomach.
“Hello?” a familiar voice on the other line finally answers and Baekhyun could cry in relief.
“Oh my god, Baekhyun?” his friend exclaims loudly into his ear. “Where have you been?! I’ve been calling your phone non-stop, all day yesterday, and no one’s been answering. I’m so sick with worry! Are you all right?”
“Yeah. I was—“ he tries to explain but the other cuts him off.
“Where are you?! I want to hug you then punch your face so hard, I swear to god,” Jongdae says and Baekhyun can’t hold back a smile at his friend’s words. “I called the police to report that you were missing but then they got on and on about you not being gone for 24 hours yet and we had to wait but no, I told them that Byun Baekhyun doesn’t just disappear without a word and, seriously I wanted to strangle the officer because he went on and on again about protocol and nonsense and for pete’s sake, are you sure you’re all right?!”
Baekhyun chuckles. “Yes, mother. I am fine.”
He hears a suspicious sniff from the other line and Baekhyun feels a surge of affection for his friend. In a tearful voice Jongdae says, “I really thought you were kidnapped or something.”
“I kinda am,” he mumbles.
“No, forget about it. I need your help actually. I’m in Daecheon—“
“Why in god’s name are you there? Byun Baekhyun are you playing hooky on me? You know very well that we have an important event in twenty days and you can’t abandon me here to.. what? Play in the beach and spread their famous beauty mud all over yourself?” Jongdae says indignantly, the shift from caring to irate, lightning fast.
Baekhyun sighs. “I am not playing hooky, okay? I just have something very important I need to take care of here. I won’t be gone more than a few days. I promise. But I really need your help. My car’s back in a... friend's place and I don’t have anything with me except my car keys. I need you to go to my house and get me my laptop, a phone and some money. And clothes. I know you're extremely busy but there's no one else I can ask. You don’t have to go here, have one of our staff bring it to this address,” Baekhyun reads off from the address he copied from a letter in Chanyeol’s mailbox. “I really need them, asap. Please?”
There’s a few seconds of dead air before Jongdae speaks again. “I’m your friend, you know that, right? I’ll always help you in a heartbeat. You just need to tell me and I’m there. You’re really not in trouble, are you?”
“No, I am not,” Baekhyun reassures him, “This is something I really need to do.”
“Oh, Baekhyun.” A pause. “Okay, then.”
Jongdae asks him several more questions, mostly on where he’s staying, but after a few more minutes he eventually ends the call with a last reminder for Baekhyun to stay safe and to take care of himself. Baekhyun’s thankful Jongdae didn’t pry more into his reasons, because he was still unclear about them, too. He just felt staying with Park Chanyeol is the right thing to do.
Using Chanyeol’s card, Baekhyun buys food, several days worth, and he goes back to the pick up truck with a decidedly lighter feeling. He isn’t too enthusiastic about the baby pink tee he bought from the market place. With it’s cheesy color and the print “I’m Mud-ly In Love” across it’s chest, it’s tacky as hell but it was the cheapest he could find. Beggars can’t be choosers, he thinks as he drives back to Chanyeol’s place.
The young author isn’t in his room, nor in the house for that matter, when Baekhyun arrives. He doesn’t feel panicked like the first time, though, because he hears the faint thumps of hammer against wood. Chanyeol’s out back again, continuing whatever he was doing yesterday. It's still early so Baekhyun grabs the chance to take a proper bath.
It feels weird standing naked inside a very unfamiliar bathroom, surrounded by things that are different from what he’s used to. Plain cotton towels instead of fluffy monogrammed ones. A small shower than a big bathtub. There’s also the array of toiletries on the bathroom sink. Baekhyun loves the smell of strawberries and oranges and always uses soaps with the same scent. It’s admittedly a girly choice, and a past girlfriend has commented on the same thing, but it’s not like he cares. Park Chanyeol’s preference is completely different. No sweet smelling stuff here. Just plain clean, blue cotton type of scent for everything. It’s really, really nice, though. He remembers the smell from when Chanyeol has him pinned against the wall of his apartment and—wait. He starts when he becomes aware of what he’s thinking. Stop. That’s super weird, Byun. He shakes his head at himself as he begins to lather his arms with soap.
Chanyeol’s still outside when Baekhyun finishes bathing. He wears his jeans and his new t-shirt, his hair still quite damp when he starts to cook lunch. If Chanyeol’s not going to then he might as well do! He’s not about to starve himself if he can help it. He’s almost done with the steamed vegetables and ramyun when he hears the back door creak open. Baekhyun turns to see a troubled-looking Chanyeol staring at him, once more only in his jeans, his white shirt carelessly thrown over his shoulder.
“I, um, borrowed your car to buy food. I kinda used your card, too, but I promise I’ll pay it back as soon as I get my stuff. You were sleeping soundly so I didn’t wake you up. And I got tired of eating cereals for lunch and dinner yesterday,” he’s rambling and he isn’t sure why. Chanyeol, staring at him and not saying anything, is making him anxious. “I’m done cooking so sit and eat with me?”
Chanyeol hurries to don his t-shirt. He still looks dazed with disbelief when he sits on the dining chair opposite Baekhyun’s. His gaze follows the smaller man while he sets the table and hands Chanyeol his share. Baekhyun sees the way the other man looks a bit incredulous and he feels slightly offended.
“Hey, I may not really know much about cooking—that’s Jongdae’s expertise—but I can at least cook instant ramyun,” he says, defensive.
“No,” Chanyeol, finally says, voice deep and quiet. “I was just surprised that you came back. I woke up and you were gone. I guess I was expecting the police to come arrest me or something.”
“I didn’t call the police,” Baekhyun answers. He sits down and slowly stirs the food in his bowl, eyes on the swirling soup. “I didn’t even think to call them.”
“Thank you,” Chanyeol briefly replies.
Baekhyun doesn’t know how to break the silence that ensues or if he even wants to break it. Because this... it feels okay. He steals glances at the taller man every now and then, biting back a smile when Chanyeol seems too hungry to care if the noodles was soggy and the vegetables were too dry. The guy finishes in no time and he waits on Baekhyun before he picks up the bowls and glasses and puts them in the sink. Chanyeol doesn’t speak and the shorter male feels like he’s being shooed away while he washes the dishes.
So Baekhyun just sets up post by the front porch. It’s already half past two in the afternoon and he’s expecting his stuff to arrive by then. Sure enough, he sees a white van with his restaurant’s name, Feu et de Lumière, go down the trail towards the house a few minutes later. His employee hands him a duffel bag and his laptop together with a note from Jongdae. Baekhyun sees the man discreetly look at the front of his shirt, perhaps bewildered that his usually sharply dressed employer was wearing something that ridiculous.
The van has just disappeared down the path when Chanyeol comes out of the house. It looks like he had a quick shower, the tendrils of his black hair is still damp at the edges. He’s changed into fresh clothes and the keys to his pick up is dangling from his left hand.
“You’re going somewhere?” Baekhyun asks.
“Yes. I’m taking you back,” Chanyeol says grimly. “I’m really sorry for dragging you out here and into our mess, Baekhyun. I was not myself yesterday.”
“No. You can’t take me back yet,” the older male protests.
“I’ve already decided that I’ll let you keep me here, at least until Joo-hyun returns for me,” Baekhyun explains. He holds up his things for Chanyeol to see. “Look, I already got some of my stuff brought here. A week’s worth of clothes, my laptop so I can work, my backup phone…”
“Wait, Baekhyun. What are you saying?” Chanyeol holds his palm up. “I’m taking you home.”
“I’m saying I’m letting myself be shackled out here because you deserve to have Joo-hyun come back to face you. You deserve an explanation straight from her and not some short message delivered over the phone,” Baekhyun searches into the other’s eyes. “She hurt you and I had a hand in that. I can’t… I don’t want this, too.”
“You don’t have to go this far.”
“I have to do this. Chanyeol, she’s halfway across the globe right now, without a care in the world. It will take her months even before she decides to go home.” Baekhyun walks closer and hands Chanyeol his bag. “I’m staying here because I’m the only one she considers family. Sorry. The truth is she won’t listen to you, but if it’s me, she’ll go back. And that’s what you want isn’t it?”
He most likely hit a nerve because Chanyeol’s eyes go blank. “To think we’ve been together for two years and she still doesn’t care one bit about me, huh?”
“I’m not saying that she didn’t or doesn’t love you—“
“I don’t think I need to hear that right now.” Chanyeol lets out a sigh. “To do this… am I really that pitiful to you?”
“You’re wrong. It’s not that.” Baekhyun scrambles for some other explanation. Something that won’t hurt the other man more. “It’s… I feel guilty. This way, I get to make up for what I did.”
“But what exactly did you do, Baekhyun? Did you tell your cousin to break up with me?”
“No. I agreed to being her lackey. We’ve been really close all these years and I’ve gotten used to doing whatever she asks of me. I know that’s sad but, you see, just as much as I’m the only family she has, Joo-hyun is my only family, too. This time, she went too far but I still went along with her,” Baekhyun explains, feeling the guilt closing his throat up. “Let me do this much for you at least. So what do you say?”
The taller man looks up at the sky and closes his eyes. Baekhyun waits and his gaze unknowingly traces the strong line of Chanyeol’s jaw and the length of his neck. He was handsome. He has always thought Joo-hyun’s quiet boyfriend handsome. The first time he heard about him was when Joo-hyun excitedly called Baekhyun one night, gushing about a certain author whose book cover she posed for that day. C.Y. Park, she had said, was unexpectedly hot, as hot as the way his first book was selling. She told him how cute the tall, twenty-six-year-old guy looked when he saw her, all flustered and shy from her attention.
Baekhyun had his misgivings when he met C.Y. Park. He does look good standing next to his model cousin but he was too still… too placid beside her. But then the man shook his hand firmly and in a warm voice said, “Just call me Chanyeol,” and Baekhyun thought maybe he was the right kind of guy his cousin needed.
Now, he’s afraid he was wrong. Chanyeol might be the right kind of guy but he wasn’t the right one for Joo-hyun.
Baekhyun’s startled when Chanyeol suddenly faces him. “Okay.”
“Okay, then.” The older guy holds out his hand. “Let’s shake on it.”
In an unexpected move, Chanyeol lightly chucks Baekhyun’s chin and then the man gives him a half-smile. “I don’t deal with people wearing pink t-shirts with awful prints.” He reaches for Baekhyun’s laptop and promptly brings it inside with his bag.
Baekhyun can’t quite explain the hard kick he felt in his chest nor the urge to crawl out of his skin right after Chanyeol touched him. He feels his face heat up for whatever reason and so he gives his head a quick shake to get rid of it. Then belatedly understanding what Chanyeol just said, Baekhyun tsks and swears he’ll look for an even tackier shirt to gift the other guy with when this is all over. He follows Chanyeol inside the house, and starts to plan on how to get the other male to cook dinner this time and for the coming days.
Although miffed, he couldn’t help but feel optimistic.
Because Park Chanyeol finally smiled.
Baekhyun’s convinced his plan was good: calling Joo-hyun to tell her his ex-boyfriend is holding him hostage; waiting a week for her to arrange for a return flight; having her meet Chanyeol in his lake house; and Baekhyun leaving them alone so they could talk.
The only thing is his cousin wasn’t cooperating. At all. It’s been five days and they have yet to hear from her. Not even a single word. Sure, Joo-hyun told him she wouldn’t check her sns accounts while she was on her vacation but he figured she won’t last more than three days without going online. Surprisingly, with how things are going, it appears she’s actually keeping her word.
Come on, he silently prays. Baekhyun’s huddled on one side of the couch, tracing the flower patterns on the throw pillow, listening to the rhythmic sound of Chanyeol hammering away outside. He feels it. Chanyeol has become more tense as the days passed without any reply from his ex. The first few days, they were able to spend pleasantly. Chanyeol, for the most part, leaves Baekhyun alone to do his work. The shorter male can be found hunched over his laptop on the kitchen table in the mornings while Chanyeol leaves to jog.
They have brunch or lunch together, whatever is convenient, and in the afternoons, it’s Chanyeol who holes himself up inside the other room on the second floor which serves as his office and temporary bedroom. He has long given up his bed so Baekhyun can use it. Baekhyun then is the one who takes a walk along the lake outside. It’s an artificial one, Chanyeol told him, and originates from a dam a few miles away. It’s beautiful and always peaceful to look at. God knows, he needs more of it in his life.
Yet lately, they’ve both been becoming restless. There is that growing doubt that, perhaps, this plan of theirs won’t come to anything. Chanyeol has been spending less and less time inside his room and instead he’s outside, shirtless and hammering away. Baekhyun secretly watches him from the windows sometimes, wondering what he can do, feeling utterly useless when he sees Chanyeol just slump down on the beach and stare at the horizon until it’s dark.
Lost in thought, Baekhyun kind of jumps when he hears someone knock on the front door. He quickly gets up to open it, finding a friendly looking postman on the porch. He hands Baekhyun several envelopes, some looking like invitations while a good number of them were from a popular publishing house in Seoul. Baekhyun leaves them on the side table, right beside the telephone so Chanyeol can easily see them when he comes in. He’s about to take a seat again when the phone rings—the first time it did since he got there. He doesn’t get the chance to answer, though, because the answering machine quickly picks it up and an anxious-sounding voice of a man goes through.
“PCY. Leave a message. Beep. Park, yes I know you told me to get out of your hair but your deadline’s in less than a month and you haven’t even showed me your first draft! Help me out here, pal. Send me anything I can show the bosses. Anything. And I’m sure they’ll love it, Call me asap, okay? Beep.”
Woah. Chanyeol has a deadline? Then why’s he outside doing… manual labor?
Baekhyun immediately goes out and skips down the stone steps. He sees Chanyeol crouched over a table, and he slows down until he’s across the table from him. He waits for Chanyeol to acknowledge his presence but when he doesn’t, Baekhyun braves it and asks, “What are you working on?”
It’s then that Baekhyun notices the curved thing half-hidden beneath a black cloth. It is a boat.
“You’re building a boat.”
“Genius, isn’t it.”
“May I ask why?”
“I’ve decided to be the one hit wonder C.Y. Park and quit writing. I’m building a boat because I’m just gonna fish for the rest of my miserable life,” Chanyeol answers calmly, almost disinterestedly, while he continues to apply sandpaper on the boat’s hull.
“What? Are you serious?!”
Chanyeol straightens. “Look at me. Do I look like I’m joking?”
No, the older guy supposes. He looks dead serious. “But why?”
“Because I lost my muse and whatever mediocre skill I have.” The taller man runs his hands through his hair in frustration. “I’ve tried to write since that day we got here and… nothing. There’s nothing.”
“It’s understandable, Chanyeol. I mean, you’re going through a rough patch but that doesn’t mean you can’t write anymore,” Baekhyun says, “Maybe you just need more rest—“
“No, you don’t get it, Baekhyun. I was writing about her! Bae Joo-hyun has been my everything for two years and I can’t even write one word.” Chanyeol turns and stalks towards the house, ending the conversation, the door slamming shut behind him.
“For god’s sake, Baek, it’s… two in the morning. What are you calling me for?” his friend says grouchily.
“I think I’m in way over my head,” Baekhyun whispers into the receiver. “I don’t know what to do.”
Jongdae suddenly sounds alert. “Do you want me to pick you up? I can be there around four.”
Baekhyun’s lying curled up on his side on Chanyeol’s bed. The pillows and the sheets smells just like Chanyeol’s favorite scent and the petite male closes his eyes as he breathes it in. “I can’t leave yet.”
Baek, what is this really about?” Jongdae asks, tone softening. “Talk to me.”
He’s exhausted. The whole afternoon of thinking and worrying has taken its toll on him. Chanyeol hasn’t returned yet after storming off earlier. He doesn’t even know whose fault it is right now but his chest feels tight and why does he feel so guilty?
“I don’t know.”
“I’m done with this, Baek. If you don’t tell me, I’m going to go wherever you are and bodily pick you up, I swear,” Jongdae says.
He chuckles lightly at his friend’s threat. “You won’t be the first one to do that, though.” He turns on his back and stares at the ceiling. “You know Park Chanyeol, right?”
“Tsk, of course. Joo-hyun’s boyfriend. And how can I not know him? He’s book’s everywhere. You have four copies of it in the resto.”
“Yeah, that… well, I’m with him right now and Joo-hyun’s somewhere in Europe having the time of her life.” Baekhyun’s hold on his phone tightens as more words spill out. The whole story in less than 10 minutes. He’s breathless when he finishes.
“I don’t get it, Baekhyun. Why are you still there?”
“Because we’re hoping Joo-hyun will take the bait and come here.“
“Are you a love expert now?” Jongdae asks, disapproval palpable in his voice. “Why are you the one fixing this for them?”
“I told you—“
“You told me shit, Baek. You don’t need to feel guilty over your cousin’s actions and you don’t need to go along with Park Chanyeol’s plans or whatever they are. What you need to do is to go pack your stuff and have me take you home.”
“I can’t go,” Baekhyun protests. “What if Joo-hyun comes back and finds out that I’m not with Chanyeol? You know what she’s like. She won’t talk to him.”
“Poo. Why are you being so stubborn about this? Honestly, Baekhyun when was the last time you had a relationship? Two years ago? And that girlfriend didn’t even last for three months. What do you know?” Jongdae challenges.
“Are you saying I’m being stupid?” Baekhyun asks, getting annoyed with Jongdae because why won’t he understand that he needs to do this?
“No. What I’m saying is that you have nothing to do with their troubles but why do you keep on getting yourself in between them?”
“I’m not!” Baekhyun denies, sitting up. “I’m not getting in between them! I’m doing this for Chanyeol because—“
“Are you sure this isn’t about—“ Jongdae pauses and he sounds solemn when he asks, “Baekhyun, do you like Park Chanyeol?”
“What? No! Of course not. We’re both guys. That’s impossible.” Baekhyun’s heart thumps hard. “You’re the one being silly.”
“Yes!” Baekhyun answers, not noticing that his right hand’s digging painfully on his knee. “I think calling at this time was a very bad idea. We’re both out of it and we still need to wake up early tomorrow.”
Jongdae sighs and Baekhyun feels a lot worse. “Okay. I’ll forget this conversation happened and sleep it off. But Baekhyun just stop making excuses. You know you don’t have to be there. I don’t think this is guilt over what Joo-hyun made you do. I think this is guilt because… you were happy to do it.”
I’m not , Baekhyun repeats in his head after the call ends. I’m a guy who likes girls with long hair and pretty eyes. I never looked at Chanyeol that way. Not the first time I saw him, not the hundreds of times after. He is my cousin’s boyfriend who I sometimes chat with and laugh with, nothing more. I just happen to like his book a lot that’s why I’ve got several copies of it. He isn’t my type at all.
He recalls that time when he saw C.Y. Park having a book signing event. On impulse, he fell in line to get a copy signed. He couldn't forget Chanyeol's grin when he saw it was Baekhyun and the way he pretended to misspell the older man's name. He even drew a smiley beside his signature. That book's hidden in Baekhyun's office desk.
Chanyeol’s one of the nicest men I’ve met but that doesn’t mean I like him like that. He’s incredibly adorable despite being tall that sometimes, I think, it’s nice to be cuddled by him. But that’s just because I see Joo-hyun fits him perfectly when they hug. If I look away when they do that, it’s because I’m embarrassed of watching them and not because I’m jealous. Never something like that.
Baekhyun falls on his back and grabs a pillow against his chest, remembering Chanyeol’s twitchy laugh when Baekhyun cracks a joke and his gentle smile when he looks at Joo-hyun.
No, Jongdae, you’re wrong.
I’m not in love with Park Chanyeol.
Breakfast that morning was a silent affair.
Chanyeol goes straight to his boat after washing the dishes and Baekhyun’s left in the house staring at a blank worksheet. There was another voice mail from Chanyeol’s editor while they were eating. The man sounded like he’s almost in tears but the young writer just stood up and disconnected the phone even before the message was done.
Okay, so last night, Baekhyun thinks, Jongdae has made some valid points. He shouldn’t feel guilty at all. He knows his original goal was to have the his cousin and Chanyeol talk so they could work things out or at least have closure. He told himself he’ll stay just until he’s sure Chanyeol’s okay. The chances of Joo-hyun actually coming for him is close to nil right now and so Baekhyun’s left with the need to see the other guy get past this. Then he’ll be able to go back to his own life.
Chanyeol said the book was about Joo-hyun. Perhaps if he could finish it, then he’ll have a proper end to their story. Baekhyun latches on to that thought and he stands up to go to the second floor. It’s probably wrong, what he’s about to do but, “It’s for the greater good,” he tells himself.
The door to Chanyeol’s office is unlocked. There’s nothing much inside except for an office desk, a chair, and a rolled up mattress along with a pillow on one corner. Baekhyun walks over to the desk and there he finds several pens, a planner, a tablet of paper, and Chanyeol’s laptop.
“Please, don’t have a password,” he mumbles as he carefully opens the laptop. The screen lights up and to his relief, it’s not locked. He sees the picture of his beautiful cousin smiling at him, making him shake his head. You can’t even replace your wallpaper. He sits down and clicks on one of the Word tab in the taskbar.
“She was a star so bright; so bright and beyond any mortal man’s reach. And I wasn’t sure how or why but she took pity on me and smiled my way. This is how I fell in love, with me on my knees and my eyes touched with dusts of gold....”
Baekhyun feels the sting. A pinch when he realizes just how much Chanyeol loves Joo-hyun. It was something he has never felt before. Then he gets mad. How can his cousin even think to give this up? When someone loves you like this, won’t you want to hold on to it forever? Joo-hyun’s a fool.
Baekhyun leaves the room and makes his way to the lake where Chanyeol’s now painting his boat. His naked torso is covered with streaks of white and his large hands aren’t faring well, either. Days under the sun has tanned his shoulders but he’s still pretty much pale. He has a good physique, though, and… and Baekhyun really shouldn’t pay attention to these things. He comes closer and sits on a tree stump not far from the water.
“How’s it going? The boat, I mean.”
Chanyeol glances his way. “Pretty well,” he answers curtly before going back to work.
“So… I had nothing to do and then I found your book in one of the drawers downstairs." Baekhyun’s eyes follow the dip of Chanyeol’s spine and his mouth dries up for some reason. He clears his throat and his gaze finds refuge in the glassy surface of the lake. “Did you know it’s a favorite of mine?”
The taller man doesn’t answer.
“You don’t believe me?” he asks. “I even named my restaurant after one of the passages there: ‘For they are fire and light; one cannot exist without the other; soulmates—half and half of a perfect whole.’ Fire and Light. I just translated it into French so it would sound cool. And we do serve French dishes.”
Still no reaction from Chanyeol.
“I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried like a baby when I thought the characters wouldn’t end up together. That was cruel how you made us believe Fire’s going to die and not see Light again. After everything they’ve been through, they deserved a happy ending.” Baekhyun returns his gaze to Chanyeol. “It’s a very beautiful book. With a lot of heart. And it will be a shame if—“
“I know what you’re getting at, Baekhyun. But there will not be another book. I won’t ever write again.” Chanyeol puts the paint brush down. “I’m done with dreaming.”
The younger guy walks to where Baekhyun is. He stops in front of him and lightly draws a short white line across the restaurateur’s left cheek. Chanyeol looks into his eyes for a second and he sees an almost reluctant affection for him there. The other man turns to go and, in reflex, Baekhyun stands and catches his wrist.
“Finish this book, Chanyeol. You need to.”
“I don’t. What I need to do is take you home.”
“No,” he answers stubbornly.
“There’s nothing here, Baekhyun.” Chanyeol pulls his arm away, calmly. “Let’s stop fooling ourselves that Joo-hyun’s coming. It’s all a joke anyway. She knows I’m a wuss and that I won’t do anything to you. Go on pack your things. We’re leaving.”
“No. You need to finish your book and I’m not leaving until you do!” Baekhyun practically stomps his foot in frustration. “An ending, Park Chanyeol. You need an ending to your story. So you can let go of Joo-hyun and go on with your life! And you know what the real joke is? That boat you’re building.”
Chanyeol’s calm façade falls. “My boat is not a joke!”
Baekhyun almost laughs in relief. “You’re still angry but you’ve been pretending that you’re not.”
Just like that, Chanyeol’s eyes become shuttered again. “Don’t play with me.”
“I’m not playing with you. The problem is you’re running away when you’re supposed to sit down and write this book. You told me this was about Joo-hyun. Tell me your story, all the happiness and the falling in love part. Everything. Don’t leave out the heartaches and the ugly. Tell me about her and tell me what happens next. Tell me about you. And then tell me the ending.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Why not?” Then Baekhyun realizes something and he suddenly feels like a fool. “You still don’t want it to end, do you? Damn it. You still want her.”
It’s almost dawn. Baekhyun still can’t sleep. He’s been tossing and turning in bed for the past few hours. Chanyeol didn’t answer him and hasn’t shown his face during dinner.
Does he really still love Joo-hyun?
He admits it. He doesn’t want them back together again. Joo-hyun isn’t the one for Chanyeol. He is meant for someone else. Someone who’ll not demand his soul. Someone who understands him better than Joo-hyun ever did. Baekhyun loves her dearly but that doesn’t make his cousin perfect. She is admittedly childish, spoiled. Chanyeol can do better.
Seeing it pointless to force himself to sleep when his thoughts won’t let him, Baekhyun gets up and walks out of the room to go downstairs. He rubs his arms to get the chill of the early morning out. He doesn’t have a robe and Chanyeol’s shirt (which he ‘borrowed’ from his closet) is quite drafty. He reaches the top of the stairs and he pauses when he sees the light in Chanyeol’s office is still on. At least he’s in there and not walking around upset outside, he thinks.
He carefully makes his way to the kitchen, pouring himself a glass of water and drinking it in one go. Feeling a little hungry because he wasn’t able to eat much during dinner, he tiptoes to open the cabinet doors above the sink, hoping to find something to snack on.
“That’s my shirt.”
Baekhyun squeaks and almost jumps a mile high in surprise when he hears the words close behind him. He quickly turns and his hands clutch on the kitchen sink to support him. He finds Chanyeol standing about two feet away from him. The taller man’s gaze dips to his t-shirt before it returns to Baekhyun’s face.
“Um, yeah. I borrowed it for a while. I haven’t washed my clothes yet and, you know, well… I’d return it tomorrow or later. I’ll wash it first, of course.”
It’s dark in the kitchen and in the shadows, Park Chanyeol seems so much taller when he steps close. Like real close, he’s almost on Baekhyun. “What did you want?”
“Huh?” he asks distractedly. Baekhyun sucks his stomach in as Chanyeol takes another step. Their bodies are so, so close.
Chanyeol looks down and his voice is gruff. “I was asking for what you wanted.”
Air, maybe. Room to breathe?
“Uh, your book. Finish your book?”
Chanyeol slowly shakes his head. His arms begin to move and Baekhyun stops breathing altogether. But they don’t touch him like he expected them to. Chanyeol rests them against the cabinet above Baekhyun’s head. “From here. I saw you on your toes reaching for something.”
“Oh, that.” Damn, he sounds so weak and breathless. What even? Baekhyun, flustered, clears his throat and escapes from the tight spot he’s in, careful not to brush against Chanyeol. “I was hungry and needed a snack.”
Chanyeol nods and he reaches for a small box of crackers. Baekhyun quickly goes to turn on the lights, relieved. The younger male walks over and hands the box to him, “Here.”
It’s then that Baekhyun becomes aware of the dark circles under Chanyeol’s bloodshot eyes. His hair's a mess, like a thousand hands have run over it. He just basically looks dead on his feet. No wonder he was almost on top of Baekhyun earlier. “You look like shit,” he blurts out.
The other guy lets out a tired sigh. “I know.”
The smaller man hurriedly guides the other to sit on one of the chairs. He lays his palm over Chanyeol’s forehead, checking his temperature. He’s warm but not overly so. Although, he does seem paler than usual. Baekhyun unthinkingly cups Chanyeol’s cheeks before he tilts his chin up so he can see him clearly. “Are you all right?”
Genuinely worried, he doesn’t notice that he’s now standing between Chanyeol’s bent legs or that he’s being entirely too familiar with a man he’s not even sure he’s friends with. Baekhyun’s brows knot when Chanyeol’s eyes seem to dart sideways and his face suddenly turns a light shade of pink.
“I’m okay, Baekhyun.”
“Are you sure?” he asks, still searching for the guy’s face for any signs of illness.
Chanyeol returns his gaze at him and places his hand over Baekhyun’s smaller one. “I am.”
The touch sends a jolt of electricity through Baekhyun hand and he abruptly pulls his hand back. It’s then he becomes aware of just how close he is to the other guy. He feels his cheeks burn and he readies himself to flee. “Okay, then, I’m just gonna go back to my—your room!”
But the writer thwarts his plan to go, catching the hem of his large shirt before he can run. “I don’t want her back.” Baekhyun freezes on his step upon hearing the other male's words. "Believe me, I've got a whole lot of love to give but I don’t think I can give Joo-hyun any more of it.”
Chanyeol looks so beaten. He doesn’t let go of his hold on Baekhyun and the older male lets him, silently lending him support. Baekhyun can see he’s ready to talk and he’s more than willing to listen.
"I was at the home stretch. Another couple of chapters and I would've finished this book. I could finally give in to everything Joo-hyun wanted. She told me I was the worst boyfriend—and I admit I was. We don't go out much. In the past year, I was so engrossed in my book I would even forget to eat much less remember the dates of the parties she'd like me to escort her to."
The other man leans forward and rests his free arm on his knee, his other hand still holding on to Baekhyun tightly, unconsciously pulling him nearer. "I blew it one night. I forgot about the launch of a magazine she was featured in. I knew she was mad. Getting no replies to my messages or my calls was clue enough.”
“Our relationship wasn't the best out there but... I was willing to work it out. She inspired the book and so I thought if I finished and showed it to her, she’ll know how important she was to me. I thought I can turn things around for us and make up for everything, make it as happy as it was the first few months after we started dating. But when I tried to... I couldn't write. It's been a month of just staring at a blank page and too much time for doubts to set in. Joo-hyun told me in one of her fits that she didn’t even read my first book and if my own muse didn’t even find it good, who else will?"
I did, Baekhyun answers silently. I found it so good that I wanted to know you. He wants to place his hand on top of Chanyeol’s head but he hesitates because he sees himself running that same hand through Chanyeol’s dark hair, too, and that’s something he shouldn’t want.
The taller man looks up and meets his gaze. “That time you came to my house, I was at my limit. I received another panicked message from my editor just as you knocked on my door. At the back of my mind, I was kind of expecting Joo-hyun to break things off soon but not in that way. I like you, Baekhyun, and I’ve always thought that you were someone I can talk to but don’t you think that was kind of low?”
“I’m sorry,” Baekhyun replies in a small voice.
“It’s fine.” Chanyeol lets go of him at last. “I was just fooling myself anyway. That ring I had made for Joo-hyun… I knew it was a mistake the moment I had it in my hand. We’re over.”
The shorter male is at a loss for what to say. “I’m sorry,” he answers again.
“It’s all in the past... or, well, close to that at least.” Chanyeol stands up and with a half-smile, jokingly pushes Baekhyun’s fringe up and away from his forehead. His warm hand stay on top of the smaller man’s head, tilting his face up to him. “Though... you’re technically my ex-boyfriend now, right?”
Baekhyun sputters and pushes Chanyeol’s arm away. “I-I’m not!”
The taller guy chuckles and goes to the fridge. “Anything you want for breakfast? We have eggs and... more eggs.”
Chanyeol’s laughing and smiling and joking. Baekhyun feels so light and happy right now, he’ll willingly eat eggs all day… or whatever. He’s about to answer when the phone rings. The two men look at where the machine is. It’s much too early for a call but Baekhyun has an inkling on who the caller is.
“PCY. Leave a message. Beep. Park! I know we’ve not been friends for too long but I swear I’m about to lose my job. I’m not pressuring you but please think of me, poor and homeless, walking in the streets. Doesn’t that just move you? I’m kidding. Not about me losing my job part because, they really are threatening me—“
Baekhyun’s surprised when Chanyeol walks past him and picks up the receiver. “I’m here, Sehun.” A short pause. “If you’d stop talking for a second I’ll be able to tell you that I’m finishing the book… Yes, I’d give it this week... No, you don’t have to name your firstborn after me.”
The young businessman lets out a silent gasp when he heard what Chanyeol had just said. He’s going to finish the book. Park Chanyeol’s really doing it. Why does he feel like crying? Damnit, he’s a man and he shouldn’t feel such emotions. Yet he wants to jump and, maybe, scream and fist pump in the air.
“I started reviewing my draft last night and I’m rewriting some things but I think I can have this in before next weekend.” Chanyeol unexpectedly rolls his eyes. “No, don’t let the press people know yet. This may turn out to be trash. Okay. Okay, I got it. Now be a good little editor and send me groceries and those little gifts you always give to make me happy. You know the address. Bye.”
The writer glances his way, but Baekhyun has yet to school his features back to a calm mask and so the younger’s brow arches. “What?”
To hell with being calm. “Nothing. Just really, really glad about things.”
“You told me yesterday that I needed to finish this so I can move on.” Chanyeol returns to the sink and starts to prepare breakfast. “Oh, and you.”
“Me?” he asks.
Chanyeol points a spatula at him. “You’re going to stay until I’m done. It’s the least you can do for feeding me crap the first chance you got and for, uh, wearing my shirts.”
Baekhyun can’t help but grin. He has a business to run and a whole lot of things to do. The big event they’re hosting is this coming Sunday and that’s in six days. He’s cutting it close. But one look at Chanyeol’s expectant expression… how in the world can he say no?
Chanyeol gives him a satisfied nod. “Okay then. Don’t just stand there looking cute. Help me out with the food so we can finish quick. I’ve got a book to write.”
Baekhyun ignores the way his heart flopped around at the “cute” remark.
It’s a little lonely when you’re sharing house with an author with a looming deadline, Baekhyun thinks, while he’s lying on his side on the couch. He barely sees Chanyeol. The taller man spent majority of his day in his office. He only comes out for bathroom breaks and, sometimes, for lunch. Most times, though, he gets so lost in his writing that Baekhyun has to bring food up to his room so he can eat.
The older guy acts as if it’s a bother, telling Chanyeol that he didn’t stay there so he can be ordered around by a moody writer, although, secretly he’s happy that Chanyeol’s comfortable enough with him to let him into his room. He looks forward to it, when he hears the other’s restless pacing upstairs, a signal that Chanyeol’s getting stuck on a page or a passage and needs reprieve. It’s then that he brings refreshments up and saves the other guy from being grumpy.
It’s easy for Chanyeol to succumb to the gloom and doom when the words don’t quite work according to what he wants. Good thing, Baekhyun finds out, that it doesn’t take much to cajole the taller man from his despair. All he needs is a hot cup of tea and an ear to listen to his frustrations with the book. It’s quite funny, the way Chanyeol asks Baekhyun what a character should do next or what should happen to this and that and then answer the questions himself.
Baekhyun admits he’s gotten used to their routine. He rolls onto his back and counts the days they have remaining until he can come home. Three more days and he can go back to his work, his house, his own life. He realizes this and he becomes a little scared of his increasing desire to stay longer with Park Chanyeol.
“So you see, it will mess the whole timeline up if I add this part but then this one’s important to get the plot going. What do you think should I do?” Chanyeol asks, pointing to his laptop screen.
Baekhyun wants to answer and help out, really. But the thing is he’s sitting on Chanyeol’s office chair in front of the said laptop while Chanyeol’s literally all around him. He’s behind the chair, leaning over Baekhyun, his hands on the armrests on either side of the petite male, his chin almost resting on top of his right shoulder. And Baekhyun is afraid to breathe because his smell—the clean, cotton scent he has grown accustomed to—has become addictive and he feels the weird urge to bury his nose against Chanyeol’s shirt while he’s wearing it. Super weird because he’s a man and he has always liked how girls smell all sweet and sugary but he can’t seem to stop himself from moving closer to the other guy.
He doesn’t notice that his eyes are shut tight to keep himself from succumbing to the urge.
“What’s wrong?” Chanyeol says close to his ear and he shudders, actually shudders, making him want to run away from embarrassment. “Your face is red.”
Baekhyun opens his eyes, turns his head to face the younger man, and bluff his way out of there but he didn’t count on him to be so near that he can count his lashes. Not that he does. “I’m great. Super.”
“Oh?” Chanyeol asks. “I heard you sniffing and I thought you had a cold or something. But then again your nose isn’t red and your eyes are clear as well. So that just leaves one reason… were you smelling me?”
Baekhyun’s eyes round in horror. “No! Why would I do that?!”
Chanyeol looks suspiciously at him. Then in a swift move, he turns the chair around and bends forward, zeroing on his neck, stopping when his nose is just above Baekhyun’s pulse. “Hmmm… you don’t smell bad yourself.”
“I swear to god, I’ll throw your laptop out the window if you don’t stop playing with me,” Baekhyun deadpans, trying so hard to keep the fact that his heart is a second away from beating out of his chest.
Chanyeol throws his head back and laughs out loud. But he suddenly stops and promptly pushes Baekhyun and his chair to the side so he can get to his laptop. “That’s so perfect,” he mutters as he furiously types.
Baekhyun understands that the writing demon has come out and it may take some time before he stops. He stands up and pushes a distracted C.Y. Park to sit. He goes out and closes the door quietly behind him. Chanyeol needs time alone to work on his novel.
And Baekhyun needs time alone to figure out what the hell’s happening to him.
It’s pretty bad today.
There were no sounds coming from Chanyeol’s room when Baekhyun woke up this morning. He went to investigate and he didn’t see light coming from beneath the door, either. Curious, because Chanyeol has always been up writing before Baekhyun wakes up, he went down to hunt for the missing author.
Now, Baekhyun’s standing on top of the stone steps heading to the small beach. Chanyeol’s there working, not on his book but on his boat, of all things. Right when the deadline is less than two days away. He’s been throwing things around there all morning, from planks of wood to his paint brushes, throwing a tantrum just like a big baby. The older guy finally decides to go talk to him when he sees Chanyeol fall flat on his back on the shore unmoving even as the sun beats down on his half-naked body, as if he intends to stay there forever.
Baekhyun’s still a few feet away when Chanyeol speaks. “I’m done. With myself. I won’t ever finish this. I’m a complete and utter failure. You’re free to leave me and my boat in peace.”
“Don’t give up now. You’re almost there,” he tries to say in a cheerful voice. “Maybe you just need a cup of tea, some rest and then you’ll be good to go later.”
“Why don’t we just talk about my boat. I like my boat,” Chanyeol replies tonelessly. “Everyone should have their own boat.”
Sensing that mentioning Chanyeol’s deadline won’t really help his cause, Baekhyun sits cross-legged beside the other man and gazes into the lake. “What’s your boat’s name?”
“That… I don’t know yet.”
Baekhyun throws him a quick side glance. The other man’s left arm is over his eyes while the other is thrown carelessly at his side, jean-clad legs stretched wide. His bare upper body is covered in a thin sheen of sweat and not for the first time does Baekhyun think that Chanyeol is a handsome man.
“You should name it. If you’re going to be a fisherman and fish for the rest of your life, that should be the first order of business,” Baekhyun says, as if he was totally serious.
Nothing can be heard from the taller guy for a few moments until he groans and sits up. “You think I’m being ridiculous for wanting to quit, right? But if you were in my shoes, you’d understand.”
“If I were in your shoes, I’d probably trip all over the place. Your Nike Air alone is I think 3 sizes too big for me.”
Chanyeol gets a handful of loose soil and throws it his way. “I am being serious.”
“Really?” Baekhyun asks, head tilting to the side as he looks up at Chanyeol. “You’re seriously thinking of leaving behind writing and just fish all your life, until the end of your days? Do you even know if your boat floats?”
Chanyeol’s shoulder slumps. “No. I don’t know if it does. I don’t know how to end the book, either. Because I realized that readers want a happy ending. Damnit, I wanted a happy ending but I can’t give the hero his. It seems pointless for me have him go through all that pain and then never get anything in the end but a broken heart.”
“But it wasn’t all sad, wasn’t it?” Baekhyun says. “You told me that when Phoenix found his star, he was so happy.”
“Yeah, there were happy times,” Chanyeol concedes. “Far and few in between but there were those.”
“Phoenix may think that with his heart getting broken, it’ll be the end. But it doesn’t have to be. Maybe he spent so much time reaching for his star that he can’t accept that it wasn’t for him. Maybe all he needs to do is tear his eyes away from the sky for one fucking minute and look around him. Maybe he’ll find that there are things more beautiful and bright exactly right beside him.” Baekhyun stills as he realizes how affected he sounded. “Or not?”
Chanyeol’s staring at him with his huge brown eyes. He opens his lips as if he’s about to say something but he appears to change his mind and he closes them. Instead of speaking, he stands up instead reaches out to ruffle Baekhyun’s hair affectionately. The older male has yet to recover from the sudden assault to his composure when Chanyeol suddenly runs back to the house and leaves him there.
Baekhyun places his hand on the spot where Chanyeol touched and he feels something in him shift and a painful lump lodges itself in his chest. After three weeks, he finally acknowledges it for what it really was. And he can’t stop the unmanly tears when it came.
Baekhyun packs his things with haste. He can’t stay there anymore. He believes he’s going to go insane if he does. He finishes soon for there is little to to pack anyway. He leaves Chanyeol’s clothes neatly folded on top of the bed. The only things he’s taking with him are the ones he truly owns and the tacky pink shirt resting at the bottom of his bag.
He is terrified.
Because it wasn’t just a thing that he discovered over three weekends. It’s an anomaly that started two years ago when he picked up a hardcover copy of C.Y. Park’s bestselling debut novel. An affliction that worsened every time Park Chanyeol smiled his way.
He’s going. He needs to go.
Baekhyun zips up his bag and then takes out his phone from his pocket. He needs someone to take him home right this instant before he does something he’ll regret. He dials Jongdae’s number. “Pick up, pick up, pick up…”
Baekhyun turns around only to find himself in the arms of a giant man. Chanyeol’s hugging him so tight, almost lifting him up so that only his toes are left touching the floor. Baekhyun feels the other guy’s lips move against the skin below his ear. And it steals whatever breath he has left.
“I’m done. Holy shit, I’m done!” Chanyeol says excitedly. The other male thankfully puts Baekhyun down but his arms are still wrapped around him. “I finished my book. I can’t believe it.”
“That’s great, Chanyeol.” Baekhyun closes his eyes tightly and he returns the hug.
The writer pulls back and holds on to Baekhyun’s shoulders. “We’re going to celebrate, okay? Don’t worry about a thing. I’ll get the food and the drinks and you stay put. Oh, and wear your pink shirt!”
Just as quickly as Chanyeol came, he disappears out the bedroom door with huge, jaunty steps. And in no time, Baekhyun hears the crunch of tires outside, signalling Chanyeol leaving him alone in the house. It’ll take the other guy at least an hour to return, Baekhyun tells himself. It’s his chance to go without any awkward goodbyes. An hour is enough to walk to the nearest bus terminal and go back to Seoul. He’s already given free pass. He’ll take it.
Baekhyun wonders why he doesn’t take it because it’s an hour later and he’s sitting on the couch in that awful ‘I’m Mud-ly in Love” t-shirt, waiting for the devil to appear, laughing, because he certainly feels like he’s going to hell. But then Chanyeol walks through the door, grinning wide, arms filled with bags of food and who knows how many packs of beer and Baekhyun can’t help but think that perhaps he’s in heaven, too.
Chanyeol dumps everything on the kitchen table and tells him that he’ll just go take a quick shower to get the stench of the marketplace off of him, teasingly ruffling Baekhyun’s hair again on his way upstairs to get fresh clothes. Baekhyun uses the time to fix the food, silently promising himself that he’ll leave as soon as the sun rises tomorrow. With the way his heart reacts to everything Park Chanyeol says or does, he can’t afford not to.
“Let’s go down by the lake,” Chanyeol invites him, looking fresh and clean from his bath. “I don’t know the first thing about building a bonfire… but I do have a large lamp and extra batteries, I think it’ll work,” he says laughingly.
Baekhyun has learned by now that he can’t really say no to the guy so he nods in agreement.
Chanyeol’s idea of a party is a huge platter of stove-grilled meat and lots of side dishes, washed down with cold beer stored inside a cooler beside the blanket they took out to sit on. The author connects his phone to a pair of speakers. Baekhyun raises a brow at the first song that comes on and Chanyeol chuckles at his reaction. He would criticize the younger man’s choice in music but then he’s guilty of listening to idol boy bands himself.
They eat and drink and laugh… and talk about Chanyeol’s plans after the book gets published. He’ll go on a vacation, he says, a very long trip to unwind and think of nothing more complicated than figuring out what tourist spot to see next. Baekhyun tells him about his restaurant, too. And how Jongdae is probably preparing to mutilate him right now for being MIA the past few days. On impulse, he invites Chanyeol to the event on Sunday, surprised that the writer didn’t even think twice before saying he’ll be there.
They talk way into the night, words flowing freely as the alcohol works its magic on their tongues. There’s a moment when Chanyeol talks about Joo-hyun and how starstruck he felt when they met. He believes it’s her eyes that drew him in, saying they are really bright and mysterious and beautiful. Baekhyun doesn’t want to hear it so he drunkenly stands on his feet and turns up the volume of the music. And he dances there on that small beach and he knows he looks silly but that’s what the alcohol is for—the perfect excuse to do things you won’t ever do while you’re sober.
Chanyeol watches him and it’s weird because instead of being repulsed at his childish display, he’s laughing like there’s no tomorrow. Yes, there’s no tomorrow for both of them so Baekhyun throws away all his inhibitions and bends down to grab Chanyeol by the front of his shirt and pulls him up. “Let’s dance,” he says.
And they do, together, flailing uncoordinated limbs and shaking their hips, uncaring of how ridiculous they may look. The music goes on and so they danced and danced and drank bottle after bottle. Chanyeol spins Baekhyun in his arms which gets the smaller man dizzy. He giggles and rests his head against the younger guy’s solid chest, thinking he’ll rest there for a few seconds or forever.
“Hey, Baekhyun, are you asleep?” Chanyeol asks jokingly, resting his chin on top of Baekhyun’s hair.
“Hmmm?” He nuzzles into the other’s shirt. Cool, clean cotton.
They’re still swaying slightly from side to side, Baekhyun safely tucked against Chanyeol while the other guy’s arms surrounds him protectively, hands finding the small of his back. “Will we dance here all night, then?”
“Yes,” Baekhyun mumbles.
Chanyeol chuckles. “Okay. Everything for you, Baekhyun.”
Don’t , Baekhyun wants to say, don’t say my name like that. As if I’m important. As if you’re sure I’m in love with you. The moment Baekhyun thinks that, he wakes up from dreaming—from wishing—and he pulls away. Party’s over.
“Hey, where are you going?” Chanyeol catches his arm.
“Away,” he replies curtly.
“Don’t go yet.”
“I have to or we’ll both regret it,” he answers shakily.
“I won’t let go until you makeit cl—“ Chanyeol can’t finish because Baekhyun pulls his head down and catches his lips with his own. Baekhyun kisses him and it’s no chaste contact. He tastes of beer and tears and the sun. He grabs onto the taller man’s shoulders supporting himself so he can make the kiss deeper. Baekhyun bites on to Chanyeol’s lower lip, making him gasp, giving him access so he can taste him with his tongue. Then he abruptly breaks the kiss and takes a step back, expecting to find shock and disgust in Chanyeol’s eyes.
But it’s him who gets shocked when instead of punching him in the face like he expected, Chanyeol draws him back into his arms and it’s the younger guy who’s kissing him hard and fast. Then the writer’s hot hands are on him, making their way under his shirt, circling his waist and pulling him further in until there’s no space between them, not even an inch to breathe. But Baekhyun welcomes it, revels in the possessive hold because he knows, all this is only for tonight.
The second he realized he’s in love with Park Chanyeol, his heart already broke. So what’s one night more?
Baekhyun puts his arms around Chanyeol’s neck, arching his back and moving impossibly closer. He wraps his leg around the other’s hip, groaning into the kiss when he feels him hard against his own length. He involuntarily moves his hips and he hears Chanyeol gasp, feeling his warm breath against his now swollen lips. In a bold move, Baekhyun presses his hips closer, wanting for Chanyeol to feel the ache, forcing on him the same pleasure he is feeling so maybe when this is all over, he’ll remember.
It’s a flurry of shirts discarded in haste and unbuttoned jeans, clumsy and unfamiliar hands exploring, touching... rubbing each other's hardness—making up for the strange and inexperience with desire and need. It feels like hours but it also feels like the clock is ticking entirely too fast for them.
Let me have tonight , Baekhyun pleads to the heavens as the touches grew bolder and faster, scorching... so hot that Baekhyun feels as if he's on fire. Let me love Park Chanyeol just for tonight.
His limbs melt and mold themselves against the planes of Chanyeol's body, willing them to memorize each curve and hollow so he can revisit this moment in his dreams for the empty years ahead. And when it's too much to bear, when the pleasure is as intense as the pain of his splintering heart, Baekhyun calls out Chanyeol’s name in surrender, and then he kisses him one last time.
“There’s this familiar looking guy who keeps on checking you out. I’ll say he looks a bit creepy with his large eyes but then he’s hot, too, not that I’m into men.”
Baekhyun shakes his head and ignores Jongdae. He’s sitting by the bar and he’s exhausted. He’s thankful that the event they’re hosting is ending. He just wants to go home and have a warm soak in his bathtub. And then sleep. Forget.
No, he doesn’t want to forget but remembering Chanyeol’s sleeping face when he woke up next to him is painful. Baekhyun knows that’s the first and last time he’ll ever get to see that. He’s a coward for running away even before Chanyeol woke up. But he doesn’t want to see him and the regret that Chanyeol was sure to feel after he realized what happened between them. Baekhyun believes he has been a fool enough, he doesn't need to see Chanyeol look at him the same way.
It has been two days and Chanyeol still hasn’t contacted him. The younger male has probably forgotten all about it. In the past 48 hours, Baekhyun has convinced himself that the only way the other guy was able to do those things—touching him and kissing him—was because Chanyeol was pissed drunk. Unfortunately for Baekhyun, he wasn't and he can remember every last detail. He tucked away every single kiss Park Chanyeol gave him.
He realizes he's now a man who's in love with a man he can never hope to have. So he tells himself that Chanyeol staying away was actually for the best. He won't know how to face him at any rate.
He gets another nudge on his shoulder. “Look, Baek. He’s coming this way."
Finally relenting so he can get Jongdae out of his hair, Baekhyun turns around in his seat to see who his business partner was talking about. One look and he almost drops his wine glass.
Jongdae quickly saves the glass from his weak hold. Baekhyun sees his friend look at his face and then at the other guy. Then his expression unexpectedly clears. "I didn’t know you already played for that team.”
“I-I don’t,” he stammers, viciously trying to avoid eye contact with the approaching stranger.
Except, the man's not really a stranger. It’s Park Chanyeol, looking sharp and handsome in a black suit, making his way towards him. Baekhyun stands up to escape but he can't even take a step and has to hold onto the bar. Somehow, his knees feel like giving up on him. The famous author reaches the two friends and bows down in greeting.
“Hi, I’m Park Chanyeol,” he tells Jongdae. “I was invited by your partner but he forgot to tell me when the party will start so I’m sorry I was late.”
“That’s all right." Jongdae holds out his hand for a shake. "So I finally meet the one and only C. Y. Park. I’ve read your book. Baekhyun here has four copies of them in his office here alone.”
Chanyeol smiles. “Is that so?”
“Yes, yes. He couldn’t stop talking about it for months,” Jongdae adds. "Although, he hasn't told me that you were coming tonight."
“Jongdae, please,” Baekhyun murmurs, feeling flustered at this surprise. He did invite Chanyeol but after that night, he really didn’t expect him to come.
“What? It’s true. Anyway, I’ll leave you to yourselves and salvage the remaining wine glasses from that clumsy looking waiter you hired,” he tells Baekhyun. “Nice meeting you, Mr. Park.”
Jongdae glides away, and suddenly they’re alone. Baekhyun’s heart is pounding at full throttle and Chanyeol’s there looking calm. It’s so unfair. “Hi,” he says, voice nothing more than a wisp.
“Hi,” Chanyeol replies with a wry smile. “Is there somewhere we can talk? Like your office where you’re keeping four copies of my book?”
Baekhyun internally groans. “Jongdae, he’s exaggerating. But yeah, my office is this way.” He’s not sure what Chanyeol wants but he’s acting so cool, Baekhyun doesn’t know what to think. He ushers the taller guy into his small office near the back of the restaurant. He closes the door and the sounds of the live classical band and the chatting people are muffled. No one here to save me, Baekhyun thinks in despair. Nor you.
“Chanyeol, what are you doing here?”
The younger male walks over to the narrow shelf. His long fingers skim the spines of the books there, quickly, until he slows down when he finds his novel. “One, two… three. Oh, Just three then.”
It’s four. The one you signed is inside my desk drawer. Not that he’ll really tell him that. Chanyeol looks smug enough... which only puzzles Baekhyun more.
Perhaps tired of playing mind games with Baekhyun, Chanyeol moves to where the shorter male is standing by the door. It’s reminiscent of the day he ‘kidnapped’ him, the way he seems to stalk Baekhyun until he has nowhere left to go. He stares down at him for a few seconds before he speaks. “Joo-hyun called me yesterday.”
Baekhyun has grown to dislike hearing Joo-hyun’s name from Chanyeol’s lips. It makes him so jealous. His voice comes out flat when he speaks. “She talked to me, too. She’s found her man, she says. A pilot from London... I’m sorry.”
“She told me the same thing.” Appearing to still be unsatisfied with the distance separating them, Chanyeol ignores the sacred rules of personal space and steps closer, launching a devastating attack to Baekhyun's failing composure with his next words. “Why did you run away from me?”
Baekhyun’s jaw drops. “I didn’t run. I just... left. Because you’re finished with the book and I had nothing else to do there.”
"There's no reason to lie," Baekhyun replies.
Chanyeol traps him against the door with his hands and with his eyes. “That may be but... I have you cornered but why are you still running?”
“I told you, I’m not running!”
“You are,” Chanyeol insists.
“Then why are you running after me?!” Baekhyun asks, incredulous.
Chanyeol drops the mask of indifference. “Let’s talk about what happened. We can’t leave it just like that.”
Baekhyun grits his teeth in frustration. “Nothing happened.”
“It was just an accident.“
“Your hand was around my dick,” Chanyeol says crudely, getting frustrated with him, as well. “I don’t think that was an accident.”
“Yeah, well your hand was around my dick, too!” he shouts back.
Then to Baekhyun's surprise, Chanyeol laughs. He lets out this big guffaw and just when Baekhyun was on his way to punching him in the stomach for laughing at him, he goes and swoops in, kissing Baekhyun as if he missed him. As if the days they were apart were unbearably lonely.
Stop it, Byun Baekhyun. Stop deluding yourself.
He can’t fight the drop of tear that escapes from his closed eyelids, rolling down a smooth cheek.
Chanyeol pulls back an inch so they can breathe. Then his thumb brushes against Baekhyun’s cheekbone, wiping away the dampness there before he touches it with his lips. “Please don’t.”
“I won’t be a rebound, Chanyeol,” Baekhyun cries. “I won’t be your experiment.”
“You’re not. I promise you’re not.” Chanyeol rests his forehead against Baekhyun’s. “I loved Joo-hyun for a long time but when you and I were together, all I could think about was you. And even when you left, I can’t think of anyone else. I’m a guy, you’re a guy but somehow that doesn't even matter."
“I found myself always looking at you when we were together and my eyes keep seeing you even if we're apart. I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. But kissing you, it all finally made sense. The moment our lips separate all I wanted was to kiss you again.” Chanyeol touches the tiny mole at the edge of Baekhyun’s upper lip. “And it's different but it's amazing because... I'm sure that I’ll always be amazed by you.”
Chanyeol traces the curve of a cheekbone up the corner the older male's eye and Baekhyun tries his damnedest to hold back but it’s not working.
“But i’m not even pretty!” Baekhyun points out and he feels new cracks form in his heart because it was true. He was nothing compared to his cousin and didn’t Chanyeol love her so much? “I’m not Joo-hyun. I’m nothing like her.”
“You’re right. You’re not pretty. You’re beautiful, Baekhyun.” Chanyeol tucks Baekhyun’s hair behind his ear. “And I know you’re not her. I like you because you are Byun Baekhyun. And knowing that you want me makes me want you a thousand times more. You can try to dissuade me but I’m not going any where. At least not without you.”
“Don’t look at me with those puppy eyes,” Baekhyun pleads, heart constricting in helplessness and in love. “Or I’ll end up believing everything you say.”
“Better believe it,” Chanyeol responds, placing a small kiss against the other’s temple.
"This is crazy, Chanyeol," he says but he doesn’t really turn away or stop Chanyeol from touching him.
"You leaving me the morning after was crazy. I was going mad with the need to see you but I had to do something... important," Chanyeol explains. "Had to submit my—"
"Yes. All done and delivered to my editor." Chanyeol steps back and reaches for something inside his suit jacket. He takes out several sheets of paper folded lengthwise in half and hands it to Baekhyun. "This is the last chapter. I wasn't able to show it to you the night I finished. I was too excited to celebrate and well, read it now please."
Chanyeol presses the manuscript into Baekhyun's hands. Admittedly curious, Baekhyun hesitates only for a moment before he unfolds the papers.
"It's still unedited," Chanyeol tells him, "And it's a bit long but I really want to kiss you again, like, right now so I'd appreciate it if you can jump to the last two pages, maybe?"
"Are you so sure then that I'd give in to you just because of what you've written there?" Baekhyun challenges but he's mostly bluffing. He's a centimeter.. a heartbeat... a shaky breath away from saying yes to whatever Chanyeol can offer.
"No, but if there's a chance you will, I'll take it. Go on read it."
Baekhyun finds the last pages and he reads. He reads until the last few words and it’s like falling in love with C.Y. Park all over again but this time with the real man behind the name.
She is a star and she belongs up there, in all her magnificence; in all her shining glory. And it’s okay not to spend my life chasing after her. Because I realized that not all the brightest of lights can be found in the heavens. Sometimes, it’s just on Earth, sitting next to you.
The older guy couldn’t speak. Did Chanyeol really mean…?
“By the way, I finished my boat, too, and named it after you.”
“You named it Baekhyun?”
Chanyeol shakes his head. “No, I named it ma lumiere.”
Baekhyun feels his vision clouding up again. “My light."
“Yes, you. My light.” The taller man reaches out a hand to pull Baekhyun close. “We’ll do this, okay?”
Baekhyun finally, finally, nods, Chanyeol draws him against his body, almost sagging against his smaller frame in relief. “I like you so much. I don’t know what to do with myself,” Chanyeol says against Baekhyun’s hair.
“I don’t know what to do with you, too.”
“Can I kiss you now?”
Exasperated but hopelessly beguiled, it’s Baekhyun who stands on his toes and kisses him, this time, taking a chance on Chanyeol’s words and on him. “I really like you and it’s crazy. I didn’t even see this coming,” he tells him in between kisses.
“Well, imagine me and you and you and me. No matter how they tossed the dice, it’s meant to be,” Chanyeol says solemnly, circling Baekhyun’s waist with his arms.
Baekhyun recognizes the lyrics to the old song and hits Chanyeol’s chest lightly with a hand. “How very original, C.Y. Park.”
“I know. But don’t worry. I’m saving up my words for when I write the next novel about that wonderful guy who looks good in a pink tacky shirt. And then dedicate it all to you.”
“I’ll end you,” Baekhyun threatens but then he kisses him hard instead.
This book is for my light
When I look at you, I loathe to sleep,
because for the first time,
the reality I’m in is better than my dreams.
I'm in love with you.
I'm Mud-ly in love with you.