Pairing: Chanyeol / Baekhyun
Rating: Good enough for you
Summary: Baekhyun had a condition, but Chanyeol kept him breathing
A/N: SORRY FOR TYPOS
Ever since he could remember, arms were always safely wrapped around him, protecting him from the dangers of the outside. In Baekhyun’s world, what his parents considered “danger” was considered a gift to others. How that was so simple to Baekhyun at a young age. He was never allowed to play too much or join certain games that involved excessive running. He had to be careful about what environment he was in.
Was the air clean? Was it okay to breathe in? Would it hurt him?
With questions like those, Baekhyun knew he wasn’t normal. He would watch the other kids play while he sat under a tree in a grassy area, admiring them for the fact that they didn’t have so much to worry about as he did.
Because he didn’t play much with the other kids, they rarely interacted with him, leading to Baekhyun being completely friendless. His only friend was himself. He had gone for so long being friendless that he became numb and didn’t mind so much anymore. Playing with toy cars and drawing with chalk all by himself was normal. Silence was his companion, and it was a companion that Baekhyun grew to deal with.
Baekhyun was so used to the silence that when a curly haired ray of sunshine came crashing into his world in the second grade, Baekhyun nearly thought he’d go deaf and blind.
Minding his own business, Baekhyun was drawing pictures on the black ground—drawing pictures of himself with things that he loved such as animals even though he wasn’t allowed to have a pet. All of a sudden, a shadow against the sun casted over his art.
Thinking that the figure was there to judge him, Baekhyun’s tiny fingers stopped working for a moment. He didn’t dare look up, fearing that it would ignite some sort of insult against him. Deciding to ignore the person, Baekhyun slowly started coloring himself in and was caught off guard when the figure talked.
“What’re you drawing?”
Baekhyun pretended to not hear and kept moving his hand. He glanced at the person’s feet and saw that they were still there. He secretly wished that they would just go away.
“I know you can hear me. I can see your ears,” the voice said before giggling.
In his head, Baekhyun kept repeating for the person to leave him alone, but when his peripheral vision caught them crouch down beside him, he finally looked up to see who it was that was bothering him. When his eyes saw his world’s perpetrator, Baekhyun had to blink a few times. The curly haired kid next to him was smiling at him, which to Baekhyun was something rare—to be smiled at.
“Is that supposed to be you?” the kid asked, pointing at his drawing.
Baekhyun drew his eyes from the happy kid and looked at his work. Without saying a word, he nodded slightly.
The kid looked at him. Then he reached over and took the chalk from Baekhyun’s hand. Baekhyun was about to protest, but he didn’t feel like using his voice on this stranger. Instead, he just let the chalk be taken.
Watching, Baekhyun looked as the kid licked his thumb and placed it over Baekhyun’s portrait of himself. Then, the kid smudged his face. Seeing his own chalk identity being smudged away hurt and Baekhyun couldn’t help, but bite down his lips. He didn’t feel like drawing anymore.
Just when he was about to leave, the kid leaned to the ground and started chalking away. Baekhyun was pushing himself off the ground when the kid reached up and held him back. “Don’t leave. I was just fixing it!”
Baekhyun wanted to pull away. What was there to fix? His drawing was perfect from his world. From his world, there was nothing wrong with the picture. He didn’t see anything wrong, so that meant that there was nothing to fix. At least that’s what he thought.
“Look.” The kid pointed at Baekhyun’s chalk face. “You look happier in this version now.”
After giving the kid a look, Baekhyun turned his attention to the revised version. Looking at it, Baekhyun did notice that he looked happier, but there was no helping that. The kid was drawn the biggest curved line on his face that Baekhyun had ever seen.
Finding his voice, Baekhyun hoarsely said, “But what I drew before was fine…”
The kid gave him a small smile. “I didn’t think so. I like this one better. Don’t you?”
He didn’t want to admit it, but no matter how stupid the new and revised smile made him look, Baekhyun did think that he looked a little bit better. The kid was obviously waiting for an answer by the way he was looking at Baekhyun so Baekhyun decided to nod again.
The kid laughed and put the chalk down, holding his hand out to Baekhyun. “I’m Chanyeol.”
Baekhyun glanced down at the hand, which was covered in chalk. He hesitated on shaking it because he didn’t want chalk on him, but when he looked down at his own hand, he saw that Chanyeol and he were the same. Deciding to take a chance on perhaps making a new friend, Baekhyun returned the favor slowly.
“I’m Baekhyun,” he said quietly before Chanyeol took their chalk-stained hands and shook on it.
Over the next few weeks, Chanyeol began playing with Baekhyun during the time that they were let outside. Every day, they would draw because that’s what Baekhyun always wanted to do. If they weren’t drawing, they were sitting under Baekhyun’s tree.
Chanyeol wondered why Baekhyun never ran too much. In fact, he wondered what's that thing around Baekhyun’s neck. In the time that he had noticed and started befriending his lonely classmate, Chanyeol was immensely curious. One day while they sat under the shade of Baekhyun’s tree, Chanyeol crawled closer to his quiet friend and asked.
“Baek, can I ask you something?” he said quietly as if he was asking was a forbidden topic.
Baekhyun looked at him for a moment before nodding.
“What’s that?” Chanyeol asked gently, looking down on the item that hung around Baekhyun’s neck.
Baekhyun froze before drawing his eyes to the earth. He knew that Chanyeol would ask sooner or later. The subject was sensitive for him and he didn’t want to talk about it, fearing that it would confuse, and then later, frighten his new companion away, but Baekhyun knew he had to tell Chanyeol.
“It’s called an inhaler…” Baekhyun said quietly enough for Chanyeol to hear.
“Inhaler…” Chanyeol repeated. “What’s it for? Does it have candy inside it?”
Baekhyun pursed his lips. “No.”
“Then what is it?”
Baekhyun turned his head to a curious Chanyeol. “It helps me breathe when I can’t.”
Chanyeol creased his eyebrows. “What do you mean when you can’t?” he asked, adding a small, nervous chuckle. “It’s not like we’re under water.”
Baekhyun shook his head. “No…I need it because I’m not healthy.”
Chanyeol’s mouth gaped open. “What do you mean you’re not healthy? Do you have a disease!?”
Turning his head to Chanyeol, Baekhyun gave him a hurtful look. “N-No! I don’t have a disease…I just…” Baekhyun bit his lips and turned away from Chanyeol.
He didn’t want to talk about it anymore. He knew what was going to happen next. Chanyeol was going to go and alienate him for being abnormal—for being “diseased”. Baekhyun knew he didn’t have a disease. He just had a condition, but none of his classmates understood. They didn’t know anything about asthma. They looked at him like he had the plague and made fun of him for that “funny little thing” around his neck.
It wasn’t a “funny little thing”. It was called an inhaler and it was his lifeline. Baekhyun got up to leave and Chanyeol panicked. He got up and caught Baekhyun by the arm, pulling him back.
“Wait! Don’t go! Why’re you leaving—”
“I don’t have a disease!” Baekhyun repeated with a cracking voice. “I don’t have a disease… I’m not contagious.” Covering his eyes with his forearm, Baekhyun wiped his eyes before they could leak. “And I’m not a freak…or a weirdo…Whatever they call me, I’m not any of those.”
Chanyeol pulled Baekhyun’s arm away from his eyes, forcing the slightly shorter kid to look up at him. “I never said you were any of those things, Baek.”
Looking at him with slightly swollen eyes, Baekhyun frowned. “You said I had a disease.”
“I was asking if you had…” Chanyeol stopped himself. “I just wanted to know what was wrong with you.”
“There’s nothing wrong with me,” Baekhyun said, telling Chanyeol what he had tried to convince himself many times.
Sensing Baekhyun’s hurt tone, Chanyeol flinched. “I’m bad at words, you know…I got a sad face on our last vocab test.”
The sudden reminder of Chanyeol’s sad-face report tempted Baekhyun to smile a bit. When he couldn’t resist, Chanyeol saw the corners of his mouth edge up. As he saw Baekhyun’s expression light up a bit, Chanyeol smiled again.
“If you tell me, I’ll try and understand,” he offered.
Baekhyun let out a soft laugh, wiping his eyes dry. “I think that you might need the computer to find out more.”
“I can try and learn how to use the computer.”
“You can barely read, Chanyeol…”
“I’ll learn how to read better,” Chanyeol said. Taking Baekhyun’s hands in his own, Chanyeol lightly swung them from side to side. “I can learn for you. I promise...”
It was no more than a week later that Chanyeol first witnessed an asthma attack. He thought that he had an idea of what it looked like. In his mind, he thought that it looked a little like choking, but when it was happening right before his eyes, it was a whole new reality.
Over the course of time, Chanyeol tried to reintroduce Baekhyun back into their class' social circles. He encouraged him to talk in class and to join them in their little games.
One of the things that Chanyeol encouraged Baekhyun to do was physical activity. Even though he learned about Baekhyun's condition, it didn't quite set in yet, nor did Chanyeol know the extent of it. To him, he easily forgot about Baekhyun's asthma because in his eyes, Baekhyun was normal. Just like him.
The asthma attack that occurred during a game of tag was a rude awakening for Chanyeol. Watching his new best friend struggling to breathe was horrifying.
The kids around them screamed. Some raced to find an adult, but most of them stood and watched. None of them understood what was happening, and even though Chanyeol was aware, his brain wouldn't click two and two together until Baekhyun's tiny hands fumbled to grab the inhaler, shaking it before putting it to his lips.
As teachers flocked to him, Baekhyun stayed clutching his chest, breathing heavily with every pump from his lifeline. He slowly lifted his eyes off the ground and weakly looked at his audience.
He saw the look of fear and confusion amongst his peers, but it was Chanyeol's expression that hurt him the most. His friend looked so horrified. It was enough to hurt Baekhyun so much that he questioned whether his heart was also bad.
Baekhyun didn't return to school and by the time a week passed by without his friend, Chanyeol begged his mom again and again to find out where Baekhyun lived so he could go visit him. His mother finally conceded to her son's wishes and promised him she's going to get the address.
And in his wait for Baekhyun's home address, Chanyeol would walk his way to the library and ask the librarian over the large desk about simple books on his best friend's condition.
When Chanyeol was finally able to visit Baekhyun, his best friend wouldn't see him. Baekhyun had covered himself in his blankets when Chanyeol was led into his room.
Chanyeol walked over to Baekhyun's little bed before he carefully started talking as Baekhyun's mom left to give Chanyeol some privacy.
"Baek," he started a little hopeful. "When are you coming back?"
Baekhyun didn't respond. Instead he continued to lie in his bed with his back facing Chanyeol.
Despite the lack of response, Chanyeol kept trying. "Kyungsoo found a small hive yesterday under the slide. Everyone started running away from the bees after that." When he still got nothing, Chanyeol pushed on. "I got six out of ten words correct this week. The teacher said I got better, Baek." As Baekhyun continued to ignore him, Chanyeol started lightly pushing against Baekhyun's back. "Yah, Baek, say something. Are you asleep? I know you're not. I pretend to be asleep when I don't want to do anything either, so come on."
After hearing Chanyeol’s attempts, Baekhyun blinked a few times, keeping his back turned away from his friend. He didn’t know why Chanyeol was there. He didn’t understand what was he even trying to do. Was he pitying him for his attack? Feeling sorry for him?
Minutes went by with Chanyeol sitting quietly next to Baekhyun’s bed before Baekhyun finally spoke in a quiet voice.
“Why’re you here, Chanyeol?”
Hearing Baekhyun finally talking back to him, Chanyeol took an intake of breath. Excited, he got on his knees and shuffled closer to the bed. “You didn’t come back to school.”
“Cause I’m sick.”
Staying silent for a while, Chanyeol reached out and began to stroke the back of Baekhyun’s head. “You’re not sick. You just don’t want to come back...”
Baekhyun bite his lips and his grip on his blue covers tightened. “No…” he denied weakly.
“Yes,” Chanyeol argued as he kept gently stroking Baekhyun’s soft brown hair. “I want you to come back, though. I want you to be my spelling buddy. You’re better than me so I…I kind of need you.”
Baekhyun laid in silence and Chanyeol thought that he was going to go back to being irresponsive, but then he heard Baekhyun sniffle. Alarmed, Chanyeol pulled at Baekhyun’s shoulder with everything that his little body had and turned Baekhyun to a point where he could see his fragile friend’s crying face.
Affected, Chanyeol’s bottom lip began to tremble—and he didn’t know why. After he wiped a falling tear from Baekhyun’s face, Chanyeol rubbed his own eyes with the sleeve of his sweater.
“Why’re you crying, idiot?” Baekhyun feebly asked with a wavering voice.
“Because you’re crying…and I don’t know what I can do to make you feel better...”
After a moment of watching Chanyeol’s tears silently roll off his cheeks, Baekhyun reached out, holding Chanyeol by the arm. “You weren’t scared?”
Knowing what Baekhyun was referring to, Chanyeol froze for a minute. “I was scared because I didn’t know what to do to help you…”
A second passed before Baekhyun asked, “You weren’t scared of me?”
Chanyeol’s mouth gaped for a second before he frowned deeply, appearing a little bit angry. “Why would I be scared of you?”
“Because you looked at me the way everyone else did.”
“You’re wrong,” Chanyeol argued. “I wasn’t scared of you. I was scared of what was happening to you…Aren’t you supposed to be the smart one?” he asked, sniffing.
Baekhyun broke out a tiny smile. “Yeah…” His eyes glanced away for a split second before letting go of Chanyeol’s sleeve. “You’re still my friend right? You’re not leaving me?”
Chanyeol smiled back. “No. I’m never leaving you. I promise.”
“Not even if I have another attack?”
Chanyeol nodded. “Even if.” Then his smile got wider. “But it’s okay. I read that asthma can go away or it’ll be better when you grow bigger.”
Baekhyun’s smile got wider and his lips quivered, but for happier reasons.
“Yeah. The librarian taught me how to go on the internet, too,” Chanyeol replied. “I had to get my older sister to type stuff in, but I did it.”
“Just like you promised…” Baekhyun said in a quiet voice.
Reaching out, Chanyeol took Baekhyun’s hands in his. “Just like I promised.”
In their third of high school, Baekhyun was had already realized that what he felt for Chanyeol was more than what he should’ve felt for someone who was just a friend. Always being around him didn’t help hinder his growing affections and it scared Baekhyun to a point.
He knew that the road he was walking on in terms of his feelings would result in nothing, but a one-sided love situation. Every time Chanyeol caressed him gently when he became too stressed out, it made Baekhyun love him even more.
But despite loving Chanyeol caring for him, Baekhyun didn’t want that anymore. It’s not as though he hated Chanyeol’s caring side, but he felt as if he needed to be more independent. He didn’t want to rely on Chanyeol so much, nor did he want Chanyeol to worry more about him than his own self. One of the things that Baekhyun hoped would happen if he became more independent was that his feelings would just go away since he knew that they would never be returned.
Over the years, Baekhyun’s condition had improved. His last attack was in elementary school, and though he had a few minor ones in the beginning of junior high, he hadn’t had one since. He used to take medication regularly to help with his asthma and carry an emergency inhaler in his backpack, but as the years passed and as he remained untouched by another attack, Baekhyun stopped bringing along his inhaler, an eventually, stopped taking his medication.
When Chanyeol found out, he made a terrible scene. It happened one day after school when Baekhyun was out on the school’s field, participating in a friendly game of soccer with a handful of other students, who were competing for the attention of the female students sitting on the sidelines just as much as they were competing for the ball.
Without a care, Chanyeol stepped onto the field. He caught the eyes of a few of his female admirers as he walked on by. Baekhyun, who was near the goal, playing as a defender, was suddenly pulled backwards by the back of his shirt. Instinctively, he reached behind him to try and shove whoever it was that was holding him away.
When he couldn’t, Baekhyun tried to crane his head back. “Oh. Hey, Chanyeol.”
Chanyeol didn’t greet him so lightly. Instead, he started dragging Baekhyun off the field, heading back the school’s main building. Baekhyun looked back and saw that the game had stopped and everyone’s eyes were on them.
“Chanyeol! What’re you doing?” Baekhyun asked, struggling to break free. “I can’t just leave them—”
Not wanting to hear anymore, Chanyeol whipped around, shoving Baekhyun backwards as he let go. “You’re playing soccer. You’re running around. Where the hell’s your inhaler?”
Baekhyun pursed his lips, aware that people were watching them from afar. “It’s in my backpack.”
“Where’s your backpack?”
Fidgeting, Baekhyun glanced to the side before pointing to a bench where his bag laid. “Over there.”
“Are you lying to me?” Chanyeol asked in a sharp tone.
Baekhyun hesitated. “No…” When Chanyeol’s jaw locked and he started to walk to Baekhyun’s bag, Baekhyun walked faster and stood in front of Chanyeol, intercepting him. “Wait, what’re you—”
“So it’s not in there, huh.”
Baekhyun frowned. “Yes, it’s really—”
Walking up to Baekhyun, Chanyeol grabbed him by the collar of his uniform. “I’ve known you since grade school. I know when you’re lying, Byun Baekhyun,” he warned. “So I’ll ask you again. Where’s your emergency inhaler?”
The proximity of Chanyeol’s face was so close to his. Before, it had never been a problem to be that close to Chanyeol, but with his heart threatening beat right out of his chest, Baekhyun pried himself away from Chanyeol’s grip. “It’s at home.”
Chanyeol’s face flinched. “At home?”
“Yes. At home.”
“I know what you’re gonna say,” Baekhyun cut in, creasing his brows. “And I don’t need it anymore.”
Clenching his jaws, Chanyeol brought a hand to his mouth as if he was trying to contain himself from yelling at the Baekhyun. After he was sure that he wouldn’t break out screaming, Chanyeol continued. “Medication. Your medications.”
Glancing down, Baekhyun quirked his lips. “It’s fine.”
“What the fuck’s that supposed to mean?” Chanyeol growled. “That wasn’t an answer, Baekhyun. Give me a real answer.”
After quickly thinking about it, Baekhyun sighed. “I…I haven’t taken my medication recently.”
“Recently as in a few days?” Chanyeol asked. “A week?” He waited for Baekhyun to confirm, but when he never did, Chanyeol stepped closer, making Baekhyun take a step back. “How fucking ‘recent’?”
In his head, Baekhyun figured that it would be better if he just told Chanyeol the truth. Sooner or later, he would find out anyways, so Baekhyun thought he might as well have fessed up. “I stop taking them ten months ago.”
Upon hearing the revelation, Chanyeol felt like blowing up. He didn’t know how to feel. What kind of friend was he? Baekhyun had gone for ten months without his medications—and stopped carrying around his emergency inhaler for god knows how long—but Chanyeol didn’t have any idea of any of it. He should’ve been aware. He should’ve known.
Angry, Chanyeol began shouting, freeing his voice. “Almost a fucking year, Baekhyun! You’ve gone almost a fucking year without your fucking meds—Damn it. And your inhaler? Hm? What about that? How long have you stopped bringing it along? You could’ve had a fucking attack and you wouldn’t even have your fucking lifeline with you! You—”
“I don’t need them!” Baekhyun yelled back.
Chanyeol stood towering over him. “You don’t think you fucking need them! You’re not fucking thinking! You’re being stupid and careless—Baek, you’re not fucking invincible.”
“I haven’t had a major attack since—”
“Don’t you fucking remind me,” Chanyeol snapped. “I know. I know when the last time you had an attack—minor or not. I fucking know. You don’t need to remind me, Baekhyun.”
Baekhyun paused. “So you know that I likely won’t have one—”
“You’re not getting it,” Chanyeol cut. Shaking his head, he ran a hand through his hair. “You’re not fucking getting it. It’s not getting through your thick as fuck skull—I swear to god, you’re driving me crazy!”
Baekhyun gave Chanyeol somewhat of a hurt look before taking a step back and glancing away. “See. This is why you should just leave my business to me and stop involving yourself so much. I know my body, Chanyeol. Leave me in charge of it. I wouldn’t be driving you so damn crazy if you’d just butt out and quit acting like a parent!”
“I have to act like a parent because you’re acting like a child!” Chanyeol yelled. “And you know what? I’m not going crazy because of the fact that you stopped taking care of yourself. No—that’s only half of it. I’m going crazy because of the way you’re acting—reckless and nonchalant about what could happen!”
“I wouldn’t wanna drive you crazy,” Baekhyun spat before pivoting on his feet. “Everything would be so much better for the both of us if you just stopped caring so much,” he angrily stated, walking away to grab his bag. Then he walked off the school property, leaving behind Chanyeol who watched Baekhyun go with the strange urge to follow him.
Baekhyun did drive Chanyeol crazy. Every time the male laughed, Chanyeol would be captivated in that smile of his and the sound of his angel-like voice ringing through the air. The way Baekhyun started styling his hair made Chanyeol’s lungs desperate for oxygen. Every curve and corner of Baekhyun’s lips captivated Chanyeol to a point of near insanity.
It happened during their last year of junior high. That was when Chanyeol knew he was in love with his best friend. As they were working on a project presentation for science in Chanyeol’s room, Baekhyun had looked up at him from the floor and that’s when Chanyeol finally realized. The same eyes that he had been looking at all those years became something more. The smile he had seen a million times became different in Chanyeol’s eyes and Baekhyun’s voice sounded differently in his ears.
Chanyeol didn’t need a period in his life where he questioned what he felt. He just knew. Park Chanyeol was in love with Byun Baekhyun and that was that.
Their fight resulted in the two of them avoiding each other for a week. Neither spoke to the other and when their eyes would meet in a large crowd of people, Baekhyun would look away, turning in another direction. In the beginning, it made Chanyeol a little pissed off, but as the days rolled by, he was hating the fact that they weren't talking. He never liked it when they fought. As mad as he was, the loneliness that would eventually set in would be too much to bear.
Tired of it all, Chanyeol went over to Baekhyun's house. After being let in, he went upstairs to Baekhyun's room and left himself in. He saw a large lump on Baekhyun's bed and Chanyeol immediately walked towards it.
Without even a word, he lifted up the covers and slipped inside. Baekhyun's back faced him, but it didn't matter. Setting his chest right against Baekhyun's backside, Chanyeol slipped an arm around Baekhyun's waist and rested his head against the top of Baekhyun's.
They lied silently for a few minutes in comfortable silence before Baekhyun felt Chanyeol’s soft breath behind him.
Baekhyun thinned his lips as he heard Chanyeol soft apology. Though he didn’t respond verbally, Baekhyun shifted his hand over Chanyeol’s. Chanyeol, in turn, pulled him closer by the waist.
“I was just worried,” Chanyeol gently said as he felt Baekhyun’s hands against his. “I know you haven’t had any attacks for years, but I just…” There was a short silence for a few seconds and Baekhyun could tell that Chanyeol was trying to compose himself.
“I just didn’t want anything to happen to you.”
Answering back, Baekhyun’s voice sounded strained. “I know.”
Chanyeol let another second passed before he confessed something deep inside his heart. “I love you.”
Baekhyun’s heart froze when he heard the words, but then he had to sedate himself. Chanyeol did love him, but it was a different kind of love than what Baekhyun felt. He loved Chanyeol in a different way. But, with his hand squeezing of Chanyeol’s, Baekhyun closed his eyes and nodded slightly. “I know,” Baekhyun said in a whisper-like voice. “I love you, too, Chanyeol.”
Chanyeol left the house later that evening after compromising with Baekhyun. He would keep Baekhyun’s extra inhaler with him while—at the same time—Baekhyun would resume keeping his other in his bag at all times.
Baekhyun offered to walk Chanyeol over to the bus stop, but Chanyeol shook his head, saying that he wouldn’t risk Baekhyun walking back alone. To that, Baekhyun made a face and Chanyeol laughed.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Whatever,” Baekhyun replied with a grin.
Rolling his eyes, Chanyeol pulled Baekhyun in for a quick hug before stepping out the door. “Don’t go to bed too late.”
“I mean it,” Chanyeol said, looking back.
Chanyeol scoffed and started walking out the gates. “Good night, Baek. Don’t ignore me tomorrow.”
Baekhyun laughed as he leaned against the door frame, watching Chanyeol. “Good night, idiot.” The farther Chanyeol walked, Baekhyun’s smile began to fade and his face turned into a soft gaze that watched the giant that held his affections.
Baekhyun let out a long, hard blow of wind out of his mouth to cool down his bowl of instant ramen, which Chanyeol disapproved of, saying that it wasn’t healthy at all. Like all of Chanyeol’s unnecessary fretting, Baekhyun just shrugged, telling him that eating ramen wasn’t going to kill him any time soon, but after seeing Chanyeol’s hard face, Baekhyun apologized.
They ate together in silence, but it took a few minutes for Baekhyun to notice that Chanyeol wasn’t eating his lunch quickly as he usually did. Considering his mother made him his favorites, Chanyeol was eating like a snail, picking at his food nine times out of ten.
Slanting his lips, Baekhyun kicked Chanyeol under their table, catching his attention. “What’s going on?”
Hissing, Chanyeol shot a hand down under the table to rub his shin. “Did you really have to kick me?”
Baekhyun shrugged. “No. Not really.” Grinning up at the troubled-looking giant, Baekhyun grinned. “What’re you thinking?”
Chanyeol opened his mouth and hesitated. “I was…” He cut himself off and sighed. Taking a moment to get his words together, Chanyeol glanced up at their ceiling of the cafeteria before creasing his brows at Baekhyun, who was in the midst of carefully sucking in noodle strings.
“Do you like someone?” Chanyeol blurted out.
Baekhyun was taken off guard. His mouth gaped open and the strings he was sucking in fell back into his plastic bowl. Chanyeol watched as the preserved pasta fell back in. “That’s a little gross, Baek.”
Snapping out of it, Baekhyun glanced down at his bowl, then back at Chanyeol. He opened his mouth, but he didn’t know what to address first. Chanyeol’s question or Chanyeol’s remark. In the end, Baekhyun decided to forget about the remark.
Shrugging, Chanyeol grunted. “I don’t know. I was just asking.”
Baekhyun quirked his lips and stared at Chanyeol questioningly. He thought about saying no, but he realized that he was able to say yes without specifying who it was that he liked, which was the idiot in front of him. Grabbing a napkin, Baekhyun quickly wiped his mouth before answering.
“Actually…I do,” Baekhyun replied, nodding. “I have someone that I like.”
It didn’t take more than a split second for Chanyeol to feel utterly crushed and deflated. “Really?” he asked.
“Yeah.” Baekhyun paused for a moment before pointing his plastic fork at Chanyeol. “What about you?” he asked. He wasn’t exactly sure if he wanted the answer to the question, but Baekhyun asked anyways. “Do you like someone?”
Chanyeol frowned blankly at his food before he sighed, sounding a little frustrated to Baekhyun’s ears. “Yes.”
Baekhyun froze for a second before forcing himself to smile. “Really now?” he said graciously.
Moving the spotlight off himself, Chanyeol nodded in Baekhyun’s direction. “How long have you liked this person?”
“Oh, are we doing comparisons now?” Baekhyun half-heartedly joked. “Well, I think it was during first year.”
Nodding, Baekhyun confirmed it. “Yeah.” Eyeing the giant in front of him, Baekhyun asked, “What about you, Chanyeol? Since when?”
“During our last year of junior high. I think it was a Friday,” Chanyeol mumbled.
“You remember the day?” Baekhyun laughed, sticking the fork in his mouth. “That’s pretty specific.”
“I know everything there is to know about this person,” Chanyeol smiled.
It was bittersweet, seeing Chanyeol smile as he talked about his revelation. “That’s romantic, Yeol,” Baekhyun said as he stirred his bowl, not feeling hungry anymore.
“Cheesy, but true,” Chanyeol said as he watched Baekhyun beginning to lose focus on the conversation with every stir.
After hearing that Chanyeol had somebody that he had liked since junior high, Baekhyun was thrown in a depressing loop. He already knew that there was no sense of hope in them ever being together, but at least Chanyeol was still by his side. But if Chanyeol were to ever pursue the lucky person who had his heart, Baekhyun didn’t think he’d be able to take it.
The following Monday, Baekhyun’s heart broke, but his face beamed with feigned happiness. Having stayed behind in the classroom for a minute after the lunch bell rang, Baekhyun had to hear from other students that his tall and handsome best friend had been confessed to once again.
But this time, Chanyeol accepted.
When Baekhyun was younger, he used to lean against his tree, finding comfort in its shade against the sun that threatened to burn his skin if he stayed under it for too long. But, after he met Chanyeol, Baekhyun found another source of shade from the ignorance and judgment of others that threatened his happiness, and that was the tall giant himself.
By the time they had reached junior high, Baekhyun was slowly beginning to reenter the world of the other students. He had made friends and was able to socialize with ease. The fact that he had grown up to be handsome helped his popularity with the opposite sex, but despite the fact that he became more sociable, there were still kids who ignorantly saw him differently.
Because of the fact that he had to take pills, carry around an inhaler, and take extra care of himself during physical ed—to which he was often ridiculed for skipping out on vigorous “manly” activities—Baekhyun was called out by the very few as a “defected product of God”.
The definition of the word meant “a shortcoming” or “imperfection”, but being called a “defected product of God” struck him harder than anything he had ever been called before because it made him feel absolutely rejected. If Baekhyun were to be asked if he had ever been stripped of his humanity or his self-worth, he would nod and say yes.
When the events unfolded, Baekhyun tried to keep a strong front even as he took the degrading insult that ripped him naked for every feeling that made him human. It wasn’t until he had walked away and excused himself to the boys’ restroom that locked himself in a stall and quietly weeped to himself.
Baekhyun didn’t know how, but it didn’t take more than five minutes for Chanyeol to find him. It came a surprise since Baekhyun made sure to not make a single noise as the tears flowed, but when Chanyeol began to frantically knock on the stall’s door and demand that Baekhyun open it, Baekhyun had no choice but to do as he had asked.
Not even a second after unlocking the door, Chanyeol burst in and caught his face in between his hands. His eyes desperately searched Baekhyun’s tear-stained ones before his angered face looked Baekhyun over for anything physical.
Once he made sure that Baekhyun was fine, Chanyeol asked what had happened. At first, Baekhyun hesitated to say anything since he liked having a strong front and that being seen at such a state was embarrassing, but eventually Chanyeol forced it out of him.
After Baekhyun told Chanyeol what went on, Chanyeol covered Baekhyun with his arms, forcing him against his chest. Completely broken in spirit, Baekhyun continued to quietly cry against Chanyeol’s uniform as Chanyeol kept whispering sweet words. In those words, endearment poured out and Baekhyun listened as Chanyeol comforted him.
“You’re not defected," he said in a hushed, soft voice against Baekhyun's soft brown hair."You're not defected, Byun Baekhun...You're not."
Baekhyun wasn’t introduced to Chayeol’s new girlfriend right away. He did, however, start getting left behind because of her. Chanyeol used to go home with him, but after a few days, he started taking over the task of walking his newfound girlfriend home, which was within walking distance of the school, unlike where he and Baekhyun lived. Even though Chanyeol made sure Baekhyun had his emergency inhaler in his backpack before leaving with her—a girl that he had yet introduce to his best friend—Baekhyun couldn’t help, but feel replaced.
For the first couple of days, Baekhyun pushed the thoughts away, saying that he had gotten too attached to Chanyeol over the years and that he was just being a little over dramatic. Then, as a little bit more time strolled on by, Baekhyun started to miss his interaction with the giant, especially when Chanyeol started being a little more distant even on the weekends when they’d visit each other at either one’s house.
Playing video games was one of their favorite pastimes with each other, but on their first hang out since Chanyeol’s new relationship started, Baekhyun couldn’t help, but feel annoyed every time he heard Chanyeol’s phone buzz, because then Chanyeol would ask for him to pause the game.
Five pauses and two level restarts later—since Chanyeol’s carelessness and absolute need to answer his cellphone was much more important than the battle the two of them faced with virtual aliens that got them killed twice—Baekhyun had enough. But, before he could confront Chanyeol about his annoyance, Chanyeol set his controller down.
“I have to go.”
“But we’re so close to boss level, Yeol,” Baekhyun said, a little in disbelief about Chanyeol’s sudden announcement.
“I know, but Jessica really wants to go do something,” Chanyeol said, a little apologetically as he got up from the floor, leaving Baekhyun there. “I’m gonna go over to her house, okay?”
In that moment, Baekhyun found himself upset. It was the first time he had heard the name of Chanyeol’s new girlfriend, but he knew that it wasn’t the first time he felt some sort of animosity towards her.
Nodding as if he understood, Baekhyun pursed his lips. “Alright. Have fun.” And then, Chanyeol left without another word.
Why couldn’t Jessica pick a better time? Why did she have to cut into their time? It was Chanyeol’s time to be with him after drifting slightly away in the course of the week.
Why couldn’t she leave Chanyeol to be with him for a while?
Though the questions swirled in his head, Baekhyun didn’t dare let the words slip out of his mouth. That “while” that Baekhyun was thinking about…To him, that “while” was long overdue. Ever since grade school, Chanyeol had been his. He had been Baekhyun’s best friend and companion, but Baekhyun knew that Chanyeol had wasted enough “whiles” and time on him already, because in honest truth, he felt selfish. Chanyeol had finally found someone—and for all Baekhyun knew, Jessica could’ve been that crush—but there he was, Byun Baekhyun, selfishly wanting Chanyeol to stay with him, even if it was just a little while longer.
Baekhyun waited a week, five days, six classes, and three hours before Chanyeol finally decided to introduce him to her, but no amount of time would have prepared him to see another person occupying that tree that he had found sanctuary and comfort in all those years.
Separation and a little disengagement was something that Baekhyun thought he wanted. He thought he wanted to separate from Chanyeol and be a little more independent and on his own without his best friend always constantly worrying about him. He thought he wanted his best friend to do other things on his own. Baekhyun thought and he wanted, but what he wanted didn’t turn out like anything he thought it’d be.
Baekhyun didn’t know how, but eventually he found himself sitting with his afterschool mates Kai, Luhan, Sehun, and Yixing during lunch. He had come in the cafeteria a little late after being held back by the teacher to talk about an assignment. In the past, Chanyeol always saved them the table for two in a corner with a window overlooking the soccer field, but when Baekhyun walked in that particular day, the table was occupied by someone else and Chanyeol was sitting elsewhere with someone that Baekhyun secretly envied.
Lying on his bed, Chanyeol fought the urge to text Baekhyun as he usually did late at night. Baekhyun had been leaving hints of wanting a little space from him, especially the day they fought. Chanyeol had begun to realize that Baekhyun had a point. He did spend an extra amount of time worrying and nagging him about certain things. In this, Chanyeol understood that he needed to give his friend a space.
By comparison, Baekhyun was a flower. Chanyeol realized he had been watering this flower too much and finally decided to leave it alone for a time. As Chanyeol left, he unknowingly took the sun with him and forgot that flowers needed sunlight too.
“Hey, Chanyeol. I miss you a lot recently…”
Baekhyun looked down on the photograph his mother had taken when they took a trip over to the beach for a few days in the summer of their second year. Chanyeol’s arms were wrapped over his shoulders and Baekhyun had one eye closed because Chanyeol’s hair was hitting him against the wind.
Inside, he regretted ever wanting Chanyeol to distance away from him. He hated that he loved the idiot more than he should’ve—so much that it hurt to even think about him. Baekhyun didn’t feel entitled to Chanyeol’s time anymore, nor did he feel the right to be angry and jealous of his new girlfriend.
Sighing, Baekhyun put the photograph back in a box where he kept personal items such as photographs and small trinkets of gifts that Chanyeol had given him. Along with them were written letters that Baekhyun had only dreamt of ever giving to Chanyeol. Never having the courage to act on those dreams left those letters to collect dust, never to be opened.
Though Chanyeol’s lack of presence bothered him, Baekhyun knew he had no one else to blame, but himself. He had wished upon a dying, plummeting star and, for once, the star listened and granted.
Mornings had become gray. Baekhyun knew that Chanyeol was devoted to any commitment he was in, so it came to no surprise that Chanyeol had stopped coming over to the house to go to school together. Instead, Chanyeol had begun to go the extra mile just to walk with Jessica.
Fixing his uniform tie in the mirror, Baekhyun gave a small, but sad smile to a small photo of Chanyeol that he had taped in one corner.
The only thing that responded back to him was the silence in the room. Baekhyun scoffed lightly to himself for talking to an old photo of his best friend—having been so lonely and neglected that he had finally sought comfort in the past.
“I still miss you, you know,” Baekhyun said in a low voice before he slowly tugged on his jacket. “We still have that boss level to finish…”
Tired of playing the damsel in constant emotional distress, Baekhyun took action—or at least he tried to. Jumping out of his seat moments after the lunch bell rang, he grabbed his lunch and sped his way over to Chanyeol’s classroom to try and catch his giant friend before his girlfriend whisked him away again.
As Chanyeol came out of his classroom, he was surprise to see Baekhyun jump in his way, coming to a quick halt—enough to make him lose his balance during the process. Seeing as how Baekhyun needed help, Chanyeol grabbed him by the arm before he toppled over. Then he moved them off to the side.
“Thanks,” Baekhyun said as he tried to catch his breath. He gave Chanyeol a weary smile, but Chanyeol didn’t return the favor.
“Why were you running over here?” Chanyeol asked in a very serious tone. “Now you’re out of breath.”
Shaking his head, Baekhyun waved him off. “It’s okay. I’m fine. I just…” He held up a finger to indicate that he needed a minute. “I just wanted to catch you before you went to the cafeteria, that’s all.”
Baekhyun raised his brows and fidgeted. “I…I thought we could eat together today.”
Chanyeol’s eyes softened. “Baek…”
Pursing his lips, Baekhyun understood where the conversation was going. He nodded and began to back away. “Ah, it’s okay. We don’t have to if you don’t.” When Chanyeol said nothing, Baekhyun smiled. “Maybe some other time.”
Before he could make up his mind and reach for Baekhyun, Chanyeol was left frozen, watching as Baekhyun turned the other a corner and disappeared from his sight.