Baekhyun was feeling confident in Tao until Tao lost it half way. “Tao!” Without hesitation, Baekhyun jumped in and swam his way over to Tao. By the time he reached Tao, Tao was barely hanging on. Barely. Just enough that when Baekhyun got to him, Tao clung on to his body.
The added weight made it difficult for Baekhyun to swim. He grabbed Tao by the shoulders and began to mobilize his one remaining arm and legs. “Tao! Paddle, too! Use your feet!” In between the sobs, Tao nodded. He held on to Baekhyun by the point where his neck met with his shoulders and began to move his feet beneath the water as well.
The progress they were making wasn’t significant in terms of distance, but both were breathing. Aid came not too long after. The life guards on watch were in the water moments later, transferring Tao on to their floating device. When Baekhyun felt the sand beneath his feet, he felt like wanting to cry. He moved as fast as the water would allow his feet to go. Everyone was still chest-deep in the water when Kris and Chanyeol went running in. Kyungsoo wanted to go too, but Kai grabbed him by the waist and stationed him against him, keeping Kyungsoo away from the scene no matter how hard he struggled.
As Chanyeol ran to Baekhyun, Baekhyun’s eyes and mind weren’t focused on him or the waves pushing his body forward from behind. He was focused on the messy haired bastard that Tao practically pushed himself into Death’s arms for. When Chanyeol reached him, Baekhyun wasn’t paying attention so being grabbed by the arm came as a shock. It drew his attention temporarily from Kris.
Chanyeol dipped his arm under the water and grabbed Baekhyun by the waist. When the waves kept pushing and swaying Baekhyun, Chanyeol ordered, “Hold on to me, damn it!” Baekhyun didn’t fight. He wordlessly clutched to the back of Chanyeol’s wet, white shirt. He could feel Chanyeol’s grip on him grow temporarily hard when he’d sway with the current. It made him feel safe, but in the back of his mind, he knew being with Chanyeol had no safety net whatsoever.
When they got out of the water, Baekhyun looked back at Tao. They’d gotten to the shore before Chanyeol and he did. Perhaps five people crowded around them. Kris looked angry as Tao was hunching over with his hands on his knees, coughing. Baekhyun felt his fists clench. Chanyeol did too as he felt the tug behind his back. When Baekhyun let go, Chanyeol reinforced the hold he had of Baekhyun’s waist, pulling him back.
Baekhyun’s thankfulness for Chanyeol dissipated. He clawed at the guy’s hands, trying to escape. “Let me go! That bastard—I swear, Chanyeol. I’m gonna kill him. I don’t fucking care if he’s your friend…I don’t. I—I don’t—Chanyeol, let go!”
“Baek!” Chanyeol’s booming voice yelled. He attracted the attention of a few people watching the scene beside them. Chanyeol let go of Baekhyun’s waist and forced him to turn around. To his surprise, the guy was tearing up. “Baek…”
Baekhyun looked at him in angry, embarrassed shock. He began to wipe the drops from his eyes. “The fucking ocean, idiot—”
Chanyeol didn’t let him finish. He pulled Baekhyun in, crushing him against his chest. “Shut up, Baek…He’ll be fine. Kris’ll handle it.”
Baekhyun bit his lip to keep them from quivering and tried to punch Chanyeol in the gut. His face was still forcibly put on Chanyeol’s chest. “But he’s—”
Chanyeol only pulled him in closer. “He’ll be fine, damn it. Tao has help. Kris is helping Tao over to the medical stand, now calm the fuck down. You already helped enough.”
“He almost fucking drowned, Park! I should’ve—”
“What’s done is done, Baek!” Chanyeol scolded. “Tao’s fine. You’re fine. You did what you had to fucking do even if it nearly fucking killed me to see you fucking struggling out there with him! I should fucking throttle you for putting yourself in that fucking situation, but I’m not because you did what you had to do!”
“Yah!” Baekhyun pushed against Chanyeol by the chest. It pried Chanyeol’s fingers off of Baekhyun’s shoulders to a short degree. “Then why the hell do you sound so fucking angry with me if I did what I had to do!?”
“I’m being unreasonably angry at you for putting yourself in that god damn situation!” Chanyeol yelled. “I know I don’t have the fucking right to be mad at you for saving your friend’s life, but damn it, Baek! You could’ve gone down with him!”
Baekhyun pushed Chanyeol away again when he tried to reach out. Baekhyun looked at him for a while before looking away, taking a step back and pivoting on his heels, turning to walk away. “Quit acting like you fucking care.”
The events that day ended early. The entire beach side race ended early after Tao’s incident and they moved onto the next events, knocking off an hour from the entire day. Back at the hotel, Suho was treating a cut on Lay’s upper brow and giving him medicine for the heavily induced headache he got.
“Shouldn’t have messed with Chanyeol,” Suho mumbled as he applied the ointment on the cut.
“Shut the fuck up, why don’t you?” Lay snapped.
Suho responded by flicking Lay hard on the lips with his fingers. “Language.”
“Quit being such a bi—” Suho raised his brows, challenging Lay—“butt sucker.”
Suho flicked him again except less hard. “Still. Those are bad words. You shouldn’t use them.”
“You know what you should be doing?” Lay scowled. “Putting the freaking ointment on. But, if you’re not going to, then give me that damn thing.”
Suho blankly stared at Lay before squeezing a small amount on his finger and carefully smearing it on the cut again. “I hope you’ll back off Chanyeol’s ‘juliet’.”
“Like hell I will.”
Dinner that night was tasteless. Baekhyun spent the majority of the time hugging Tao like a mother-figure. Suho babied him and Kyungsoo couldn’t stop gushing tears recounting the event that happened. Tao gave his friends a smile and said that the people at the stand took good care of him. When Baekhyun suddenly bad-mouthed Kris, Tao didn’t jump on the bandwagon. He only nodded, but never contributed a single insult. He only glanced at Kris, who was leaning on his hand and twirling his fork around, never taking the food in his mouth.
While everyone at Baekhyun’s area was either down or trying to lift up the mood, Chanyeol’s table was more like fifty-fifty. Kris and Chanyeol were the ones downing in anger while Sehun and Kai were on the sidelines.
“He was fucking drowning…” Kris angrily mumbled. He stabbed his vegetables.
“Yah, weren’t you the one who assigned the second swimmer position to him?” Kai asked. Sehun whacked him on the side of the head, but didn’t say anything.
“Are you trying to make him feel bad?” Chanyeol grumbled. He glanced over at Kris, who was scowling at nothing, but the table. “It’s not your fault, Kris.”
Sehun couldn’t stand being dragged down in mood by the two. He was already facing internal conflicts. Every single text he got from Luhan was vague and short. Sometimes Luhan wouldn’t even reply. It was making him feel like shit, so he really didn’t need the two of his friends bringing in their gloomy clouds to enlarge his own.
Glancing at Chanyeol’s knuckles, Sehun asked, “What the fuck happened?”
Chanyeol gave a short look at his knuckles, which were red. “I punched Lay…”
“I’m guessing it wasn’t just once,” Kris said, beginning to contribute to the conversation to get his mind off of things.
“I don’t get it,” Kai said, picking through the food in front of him. “You usually don’t give two shits about what Lay does—”
“In the past, sure, but not now,” Chanyeol replied in a hard tone. “Not with Baek. He’s not going to take him, I swear.” Chanyeol’s grip on his utensil hardened. “You wanna know what the bastard told Baek? Lay fucking told him that I’d leave him once he started to show any signs of fucking interest in me! Why the hell would I do that when that’s all I’ve been fucking wishing for all this time!?”
Kai watched as his friend went on an angry rage and shrugged. “Yeol, it might’ve been a lie for him to tell Byun that, but it’s kind of true, you know…”
“What!?” Chanyeol suddenly sat up from his slouching position, glowering at Kai. “What the fuck do you mean it’s ‘kind of true’!?”
Sehun grimaced, but he agreed with Kai. “You usually do drop them like hot rocks once they start liking you.”
Chanyeol groaned. “There’s a fucking difference between liking someone genuinely and clinging onto their dick for the fucking ride and money! Baek falls in the category of the first thing that I said.” He sighed and roughly ran a hand through his messy, unfixed hair. “Lay can take the past. He can fucking take my servants or those clingy leeches that trailed me for the fuck of it, but if he thinks I’m letting Baekhyun go as easily as the rest, then that bastard’s going to get more than a punch in the face.”
It was Sehun’s turn to sigh. The conversation was bringing him down again. He couldn’t tell Chanyeol that at least Baekhyun was physically there for him. He didn’t feel like sharing any of his personal thoughts at all at the moment. He was silently waiting for his phone to buzz in his pocket.
Baekhyun decided to stepped outside the hall. He exited through one of the clear doors and just leaned against the wall, staring at the sky. He couldn’t pin point exactly what was suffocating him. He didn’t know whether or not it was Tao, his own near-death experience, Lay’s revelation, or Chanyeol. His gut feeling said that it was every single one of those.
He closed his eyes and took a breath of the cold night air wishing that the day never happened. He wished for other things, too. He wished that Kris had never pushed Tao mentally to do it. He wished that Chanyeol never acted so possessive toward him. Baekhyun actually cursed him. He cursed the day he met the guy. He cursed his name, his smile, his perfect structure, and everything physical about him. Finally, he wished Chanyeol didn’t have the power to conjure up stupid, pitiful feelings in him. He didn’t like the feelings that he'd get. He, most definitely, didn’t like finally admitting the stupid attraction that happened every time the giant idiot came around.
Baekhyun jumped about fifty miles upwards when he heard the door open. He couldn’t recognize the figure at first, but once his eyes readjusted to the light coming from the hall, he saw who it was.
“Ah…Sehun,” Baekhyun said, nodding.
Sehun froze for a while, staring at Baekhyun before closing the door behind him and taking a place on the wall next to Baekhyun. He leaned against it with his arms crossed. His stance made Baekhyun feel feminine with his hands behind his back. The two didn’t talk for a while. They just stood there, leaning on the wall, looking at nothing, but the dark and the few things that the moon provided to be look on with its light.
After a while, Sehun softly asked, “What’re you doing out here, Byun?”
Baekhyun put his gaze on the stars above him. “I don’t know…I just came out here for some air…”
Sehun paused for a moment. “Were you suffocating, too?” he asked, turning his head to where Baekhyun was. He could see him perfectly in the moon light.
Hesitantly, Baekhyun nodded. “Yeah…”
“I’m sorry about your friend.”
“It’s okay. He’s fine.”
Sehun nodded even though he knew Baekhyun wouldn’t be able to see with his head hung the way it was. “That’s good…You worried that big giant, Byun. I came out here cause I couldn’t stand his rambles about you anymore—no offense.”
Baekhyun let out a pitiful laugh. “Yah…why’s that idiot going on about me?”
Sehun blinked. “Cause he likes you.” Is ‘like’ even the right fucking word? Sehun didn’t know.
Sehun caught something in Baekhyun’s tone. “Byun, do you like him?”
Baekhyun stiffened. “Ah…” He didn’t know how to answer that. He answered it truthfully to Lay, so he didn’t understand why he couldn’t admit it to Sehun. Maybe it was because Sehun was closer to Chanyeol. Maybe it was because he wasn’t drunk. “I don’t know,” he lied.
Sehun didn’t buy it, but he decided to push a little less on Chanyeol as the subject and more onto himself. “Can I ask you something?”
Baekhyun was afraid of what the question could be, but he nodded his head anyways. “Yeah.”
“Do you like me?”
Baekhyun froze. His voice was stuck. “A-Ah, yeah. Of course I like you. Heh, you’re a nice guy and—”
“I meant in a sexual way,” Sehun put it out bluntly. “Or a crush. Whatever you wanna call it.”
Baekhyun’s draw dropped. “Y-Yah, where’re you getting—”
“You don’t have to lie, Byun…” Sehun sighed. “I know you liked me. I know you did for a while. I’m just wondering if you still do.”
Baekhyun grew red in the dark. “How!? How did you—I-I mean…” Baekhyun covered his face with his hands. He wanted to die. “This is so embarrassing…” he grumbled. “Was I that obvious?”
Sehun wobbled his head. “You could’ve stared a little less and more discreetly.”
Baekhyun’s lips quivered, but he was trying to stop them from breaking out into a smile. He found this situation strangely funny. “I’m sorry…”
“It’s fine,” Sehun replied. It was all he could say even though Sehun felt like it should be him apologizing to Baekhyun for never taking an interest back. “But like I asked, do you still like me?”
“That’s kind of hard for me to answer…” It really was. Baekhyun didn’t know whether or not his heart was beating from Sehun or because he was nervously embarrassed around him. He knew he liked Chanyeol, but his feelings for Sehun were still unsure even though he already silently proclaimed to himself that he was over him.
“Want me to help you out with that?”
Baekhyun quirked a brow. “Haha, how the hell are you doing to do that?”
Sehun shrugged. He pulled himself off the wall and stepped towards Baekhyun. Baekhyun was going to lean off the wall also when Sehun did, but the next thing he knew, Sehun’s face was right in front of his, with an arm to the wall, keeping Baekhyun semi-trapped.
“Lift your head up to me, Byun. Quit looking down.”
“Just do it.”
In any other situation, Baekhyun wouldn’t have done it, but there was something about Sehun’s aura that made him seem harmless. Baekhyun lifted his head to Sehun.
“I’m going to kiss you.”
Baekhyun was thrown off track. “But—”
“Don’t argue with me. We’re going this for reasonable reasons.”
Baekhyun quickly thought about it. Technically, they really were—unless Sehun had an alternative motive. Baekhyun thought about that possibility over for a second, but couldn’t find a reason why Sehun wanted to do this other than to gain an answer from him. “Okay.”
Sehun nodded. He initiated the kiss, slanting his head to the right. Baekhyun was shocked at first since he hadn’t been kissing anyone, but Chanyeol lately. He slanted his head the opposite way and let Sehun take control of the kiss. When Sehun asked silently for Baekhyun to open his mouth, he did, letting Sehun slip his tongue in there.
While this was happening, Baekhyun found himself slowly imagining Chanyeol in Sehun’s place. He realized this when he found himself responding inappropriately towards Sehun. The same happened to Sehun though. His thoughts began to blur as Luhan came to mind.
Both were too carried away with their sudden delve into fantasy that they didn’t hear the door open or see the light from a cellphone being put on them. The two were forcibly pulled apart with Sehun being yanked from behind.
“What the fuck are you two doing.”
Sehun only froze, but remained indifferent. Baekhyun, on the other hand, cringed. It was Chanyeol.