Chanyeol knew Baekhyun was lying. He knew. Kai was a wallflower and didn’t seem to have a backbone when it came to saying “no” to anything Baekhyun did. And from what Chanyeol figured, Kai allowed himself to be whipped into surrendering the keys that time when Baekhyun and he went to the store to buy cheesecake ingredients, but came back with a stubby dog. There was practically no doubt in his mind that the raspberry-blowing idiot in the seat next to him, who was practically jumping up and down from excitement over a few books, was the culprit of his black SUV’s minor imperfection.
He had been giving Baekhyun the silent treatment to an extent while on their drive, but it only worked for a few minutes. Baekhyun moved on to being casual and leaned over, turning on the radio. And when Chanyeol shut it off, Baekhyun shrugged and started singing to himself, rocking his body from side to side and ignoring the annoyed, grumpy driver next to him.
Not even putting the car in parked gear yet, Baekhyun was already fumbling with his seat belt and reaching for the door handle. Chanyeol had to bark at him to stay put until the car stopped moving, but Baekhyun wasn’t even listening anymore. Not a second after Chanyeol put the car on park, Baekhyun already opened his door, fixed his jacket and hair in the side mirror, and then hopped on the sidewalk.
“Are you gonna come in with me?” he asked.
Taking his time in getting out the car and closing the door, Chanyeol took off his glasses and hung them on his shirt. “Do I want to? That’s the question.”
Baekhyun tilted his head. Then he shrugged. “Fine. Don’t.”
Turning on his heels, Baekhyun walked into the small book store, leaving Chanyeol with his hands in his pockets, watching the brazen, romance novel lover enter the store without him. Still not completely happy over the fact that one of his cars was damaged, Chanyeol followed after Baekhyun, sporting a displeased look on his face. Once inside the store, he could see Baekhyun laughing with the elderly woman at the front desk.
Seeing Chanyeol enter, Baekhyun momentarily turned his head in his direction. “You didn’t have to come in.”
“I’m the one paying for your little fantasy books, remember?” Chanyeol reminded him. As Baekhyun shrugged and turned back to the woman, Chanyeol looked around the store and noticed the range of books around. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that he hadn’t really been in the store that much since he preferred visiting the library for all his book needs. One of the few times he had been in there was to buy Baekhyun those books to make up for the fact that he gave the dog away—though the gesture was ignored. Baekhyun, on the other hand, seemed like he frequented the store often. From the conversation that Baekhyun was having, Chanyeol guessed that Baekhyun often gushed about Nugget and his dog’s “accomplishments” like learning how to sit on command.
“Baek, what books did you come here to get?” Chanyeol asked as he heard the conversation strain into another long topic. They needed to get a move on in his opinion.
Remembering his purpose for being there, Baekhyun set a palm on the front desk. “Oh! Right—Did ‘One Heart to Win’ come in?”
As the woman answered his question, Chanyeol slowly strolled around the store while rolling his eyes at the cheesy title. Looking at the books on the shelves, he noted that all the romance books there had cheesy titles meant to melt lonely women on their knees. Glancing back at Baekhyun, who was nodding at the storekeeper, Chanyeol shook his head, unable to really understand why Baekhyun liked reading stories about fictional love.
He knew that there was something about how the characters “fell in love” in a “nonsystematic” way as if they were never “obligated” to fall in love, but that was just about as far as Chanyeol could understand Baekhyun’s mind. Baekhyun didn’t like systems or anything coded, so in a way, Chanyeol didn’t find it so hard to believe that the guy liked the uncertainty and adventure of romance novels. But still, to Chanyeol, if Baekhyun wanted uncertainty and adventure all he had to do was ask and he would throw him a hard cover copy of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”.
After a few minutes, the woman had brought Baekhyun the book he wanted. Chanyeol thought he was done and ready to go, but Baekhyun then left the woman to look around the store. Following and watching Baekhyun look around was somewhat amusing. Baekhyun would pick up a book and do a process: look at the cover, judge the models, check the title, turn the book over, read the summary, and look at the characters’ names. If anything in that process was a no, Baekhyun would contemplate whether the book was really worth buying. If not, he’d shove it back and continue to look at others until he found one that was suitable to his standards and current cravings.
Chanyeol wasn’t sure whether or not Baekhyun was trying to milk him of his offer to pay, but Baekhyun already had five books on his check out list, which took him thirty minutes to find and accumulate. Looking at the clock on the wall, Chanyeol—no matter how much he enjoyed watching Baekhyun making faces as he read a few sample pages—found himself a little bit bored.
Sighing, he gave Baekhyun, who was sitting on the floor reading, a light kick on the thigh. Looking up, Baekhyun was immediately met with the sight of a black card in his face. “Take it.”
Baekhyun raised his brows. “Why?”
Chanyeol shrugged. “I have other things to do around here.” Thrusting the card in front of Baekhyun’s face again, Chanyeol insisted. “Take it and pay for whatever books you want.”
Pausing for a second, Baekhyun shrugged and took the card. “I have no shame, so okay. I’ll take it.”
Shaking his head, Chanyeol rolled his eyes. Before he stepped back, he leaned down and flicked Baekhyun on the head, causing him to grunt. “I’ll see you in a while. I need to go take care of some things.”
Fixing the part of his hair that Chanyeol had disturbed, Baekhyun looked up and gave him a look before nodding. “Okay—oh, hey. Nugget’s almost out of food. Can you stop by the grocery store and get some? He likes the brand—”
Nodding thoughtlessly, Chanyeol turned on his heel. “Right. Well, I’ll leave you to it then. I’ll be back for you.”
Baekhyun turned back to his book. “Okay—Don’t forget Nugget. He needs to eat.”
Exiting the store, Chanyeol scoffed. “Sure he does.”
Passing store after store, Chanyeol didn’t stop until he turned the corner and found the small cellphone shop. Way back when, there were things that Baekhyun had wanted: an hour off of work, Kai’s employment, a bike, and lastly a cellphone. Chanyeol had budged on the others—with the exception of the bike—and though he was uncertain as to why he was conceding with Baekhyun’s ancient old request for a phone, Chanyeol was nonetheless bending.
Giving Baekhyun a cellphone wasn’t that big of a danger anymore. Baekhyun’s location was no longer something to hide. The guy was also still under the impression that he was in hiding so Chanyeol doubted he’d try to contact anyone from his old life. Plus, there was that zoo trip that they were going to have. If Baekhyun were to get lost, then Chanyeol wanted some way of communicating with him.
The idea of Baekhyun getting “lost” on their little zoo date wasn’t that hard to imagine. To Chanyeol, Baekhyun was easily distracted—sometimes he was beyond random. If anything, he would take a different route when no one was looking just to look at a side exhibit. In a way, Chanyeol worried about losing Baekhyun at the zoo, even though he probably belonged there in the first place.
Beyond Chanyeol’s consciousness, he wasn’t aware that it took him nearly twenty minutes to find a phone that seemed like it’d look good in Baekhyun’s possession. He then got a reasonable plan for the line, which he opened under his name. After all the technical business was done, Chanyeol walked over to a wall displaying phone cases.
He should’ve just gotten something plain—something black, like the color of Baekhyun’s soul. Or he should’ve gotten the cheapest one, something that Baekhyun didn’t have to commit to if it broke and he needed a new one. Cheap was a nice choice, too. But instead, Chanyeol picked out a higher priced case that was shaped like a dog.
As he was walking back to the book store, Chanyeol remembered Baekhyun’s favor about the dark pup that liked to run around after his owner in a stubby manner. Snorting to himself, Chanyeol swore that something wasn’t right with Baekhyun’s dog. Nugget waddled too much. Chanyeol didn’t know if that was because Nugget was still short or if Nugget just had running issues. Either way, the dog looked weird. Then again, like father like son.
By the time Chanyeol got to the book store, Baekhyun already had a mega bag laying right next to him as he sat next to the entrance of the store. Seeing a figure in his peripheral vision, Baekhyun looked up and smiled when he saw that it was Chanyeol. “You’re back! Did you get Nugget’s brand?”
“Mhm,” Chanyeol said passively. “I got that dog’s food.”
“Okay.” Standing up from the ground, Baekhyun dusted off his jeans. “What’d you go do?”
“Had to buy something.”
Looking at the lighter bag in Chanyeol’s hands, Baekhyun tilted his head. “What’s that?”
Chanyeol shrugged as he turned towards the car. Setting Nugget’s dog food on the ground for a second, Chanyeol dug his keys out from his pocket and later unlocked the doors. “I’ll show you at home.”
Grimacing, Baekhyun picked up his own bag, cradled it in his arms and walked over to the passenger side. “Is it anything inappropriate?”
Throwing a look in Baekhyun’s direction, Chanyeol frowned. “What do you consider inappropriate exactly?” he asked out of curiosity.
Baekhyun shrugged as he opened his door. “BDSM gear, I guess.”
Rolling his eyes from Baekhyun’s view, Chanyeol went to the back of the car to put his things in the trunk. Then he went back and got into the driver’s seat, looking over at Baekhyun with an unamused look on his face. “Were you hoping for BDSM gear?” he asked sarcastically.
Humming, Baekhyun shook his head. “I don’t like being tied up and gag.”
It wasn’t necessarily the answer Chanyeol was looking for, but then again, he really didn’t know where he was going with that question. Sighing, he turned on the engine and changed the car’s gears. “How much did you buy, anyways?” he muttered. “You have a stack full in that bag of yours.”
“Oh—no, see, I tried to budget myself,” Baekhyun started, “but I got carried away. I ended buying some series. I was craving some western romance so I got about three of them. Then I wanted some books with giant Scotsmen—oh, sorry. They’re called Highlanders.”
“What’s the difference?” Chanyeol snorted as he looked back and drove in reverse.
Letting out an elongated groan, Baekhyun lightly smacked Chanyeol on the thigh. “The British call them Scottish, but they prefer to be called Highlanders—If only you read books, you’d know this!”
“Oh, I read books,” Chanyeol argued. After backing out far enough, he switched the gear back to drive. “I just don’t read your whimsical nonsense.”
“It’s not nonsense,” Baekhyun said. “It could totally come true.”
“Is some ravaging rogue going to burst into our house and kidnap you?” Chanyeol challenged. “Is he gonna keep you hostage and seduce you with his raging hot body to a point where he decides that he’ll keep you despite how annoying you are sometimes? Is he never gonna return you back to our house?”
Baekhyun laughed at Chanyeol's stupidity. “Maybe!” he answered back. “You never know. He might just come in one day and whisk me off somewhere—oh, but this guy will understand me. He’ll understand why I like romance novels and won’t judge me like you,” he said, sticking his tongue out.
Chanyeol rolled his eyes. “This is stupid. No one’s gonna come bursting into my house and take you away, you idiot,” he muttered as he made sure to carefully drive and turn the right corners.
“How do you know, Chanyeol?” Baekhyun said in a song-like voice. “It could happen.”
“No, Baek,” Chanyeol said, mocking Baekhyun’s teasing voice. “It really won’t.”
“Because I won’t let it happen. That’s what.”
Once at home, Baekhyun turned to Chanyeol’s side and handed him back his card. Looking at the piece of plastic, Chanyeol slanted his lips. “Keep the card.”
“Why?” Baekhyun asked, puzzled.
“For when you need to buy things,” Chanyeol reasoned, pulling the car keys from the slot.
Ignoring Baekhyun’s impending argument, Chanyeol got out of the car and went to go get the items from the trunk. Huffing, Baekhyun leaned over to the backseats and got his books before stepping out. “I don’t need this, giant!” he cried. “I have a paycheck.”
Shutting the trunk with his full hands, Chanyeol glanced at him as he walked towards the front of the house. “Just keep it with you for emergencies then, Baek.”
Trailing after Chanyeol, Baekhyun stood behind him as he knocked on the door for someone inside to let them in. “Do I suddenly get special privileges now?” he scoffed. “Are these the perks of sleeping with the guy who hires you?”
Chanyeol’s mouth fell slightly open at Baekhyun’s remark. “I’m not giving you the card as a reward for sex,” he gritted.
“But I still don’t want it,” Baekhyun insisted. “Does Kyungsoo have one? Sehun?” Lacking an answer, he sighed. “I don’t want it.”
“Just keep it, Baek,” Chanyeol persisted.
Baekhyun was cut off as the front door unlocked and Sehun moved himself into view. Nugget was in his arms, but at the sight of his dad, the dog struggled. “Hey, you’re back—yah, Nugget, geez…” Sehun shook his head. “Hold on, I’ll take him outside or something…”
Forgetting about Chanyeol for a split second, Baekhyun moved him aside and stepped inside the house. “Nugget, dad has your food, okay?”
In response, Nugget wriggled for his dad, but Sehun shushed him, petting his body. “Come on, Nugget. Let’s go outside and for a minute. It won’t be that bad.”
Watching Sehun take his pup outside, Baekhyun slumped his shoulders. “At least Nugget doesn’t get lonely when I’m not with him.”
After Chanyeol took his shoes off at the front, he walked to the kitchen and set Nugget’s food on the floor while placing his cellphone purchase on top of the countertops. “The dog occupies Sehun’s interests.”
“He does,” Baekhyun said with a grin. He headed towards his bedroom, but as he passed Chanyeol, he asked, “What’s that box, giant?”
“I’ll show it to you later.”
“Okay—oh, but about the card—”
Holding a hand up, Baekhyun stopped him. “I’ll keep it only because you’re not going to let it go—We all know you’re stubborn, Chanyeol,” he said, giving Chanyeol a look.
Chanyeol’s face twitched because to him, if anyone was stubborn in their relationship, it was Baekhyun. In fact, it was quite insulting to him how he was called the “stubborn” one by Baekhyun, who was much more deserving of the title. But before he could retaliate, Baekhyun passed by, humming his way through the hallway.
Chanyeol went to his own room as well to get out of his clothes and into something more comfortable—though not Baekhyun’s definition of “comfortable”. He made sure that he didn’t look like he went around shopping like a colorblind and tasteless person as Baekhyun probably did. Coming out of his room thirty minutes later after taking a quick shower and such, Chanyeol walked back to the living area only to witness Baekhyun putting two pieces of Nugget’s dog food into his mouth. Nugget was beside him, watching as his dad tried his doggy cuisine.
Baekhyun crunched the dried bits in his mouth once before cringing and gaging. Chanyeol wasn’t amused by the stupid activity. All he knew was that he was gone for thirty minutes and Baekhyun was eating dog food while the dog, who it was meant for, watched.
“What the fuck are you doing?”
Baekhyun squinted his eyes for a second before looking up at Chanyeol as he gagged. “I—ugh, this is gross! Ah!” he whined, shooting up and running to the kitchen sink.
As he ran, Baekhyun almost lost his footing and slipped, but he caught himself at the last moment. Chanyeol—for a second—questioned why he was with such a stupid guy. It didn’t make sense to him sometimes even though it made perfect sense during other times.
Putting his head under the faucet, Baekhyun attempted to gently wash out the taste, but accidentally pushed the faucet handle up too far, jetting the water straight down his mouth and all around him. Out of reflexive action, he brought his head back up, but hit himself on the faucet’s mouth. Disoriented, he tried to keep himself balanced by keeping a hold on the counter surface, but the surface had gotten wet, creating no hold for Baekhyun to have. His hand slipped from the counter and with no orientation because of the hit he suffered from the faucet, Baekhyun accidentally slipped forward and fell to the floor where he rolled around wet, groaning and crying.
Nugget and Chanyeol both stood by each other, watching the one person they both enjoyed spending time with cry about his sad misfortunes. Out of the two, Nugget was the only one who went to dad’s immediate rescue. Chanyeol, on the other hand, heaved a sigh before going over to help Baekhyun sit back up.
“This is why we don’t eat dog food, Baek. This is fucking why.”