How Things Function
After Chanyeol got his full view of Baekhyun whining on the floor, he nudged him with his foot. “I know I keep telling you to get on the floor, but I meant that in a way that involved you cleaning it.”
“Was that a joke?” Baekhyun retorted as he slowly pushed himself up. “Because if it was, it went in a little dry.”
Chanyeol scoffed as he moved to where Baekhyun had left the meat. Grabbing the bowl that they were in, Chanyeol eyed Baekhyun who was using the counter to keep himself up. “At least you didn’t break anything.”
“Right.” Baekhyun threw Chanyeol a look. “Wouldn’t want me suing you.”
“No, but what I do want you to do is clean that up so your sassy self doesn’t slip and fall again,” Chanyeol said, nodding to the small vinegar puddle. “And go wash after you’re done. I don’t want you smelling like vinegar.”
Baekhyun rubbed the cheek that broke his painful fall and kneaded it. He hissed, but nevertheless moved and bent his legs, trying to get some blood flowing through them, especially in the knee area.
“Fine,” he grumbled as he began to stiffly waddle himself out of the kitchen area.
Chanyeol walked over to back door, but turned his head just before Baekhyun disappeared in the hallway. “Change your clothes too.”
Baekhyun stopped walking and back tracked into view. “I changed three times today,” he said frowning.
Chanyeol raised a brow. “Well now you have jeans with vinegar on them. Change.”
Baekhyun paused for a second before tilting his head and offering a smile. “Wouldn’t it be more efficient to just blow dry—”
“—Baekhyun,” Chanyeol interrupted. “Change.”
Baekhyun dropped the smile and made a face before he turned back down the hall. “It would’ve been more efficient!” Baekhyun said with his voice echoing in the hallway.
“I didn’t want you smelling at the table!” Chanyeol called out as he slid the back door open. “I didn’t wanna feel like I was eating with a hobo!”
“I was homeless you know!” Chanyeol heard Baekhyun yell out from afar.
Snorting, Chanyeol stepped outside. “Homeless,” he muttered. “Right.”
The next time Chanyeol saw Baekhyun, he regretted not specifying how he wanted him to “change”. Upon hearing the back door slide open, Chanyeol turned his head around and realized his mistake when he saw what Baekhyun had changed into.
Gone were the jeans. The simple shirt and Baekhyun’s beloved cardigan were gone also. Instead, Baekhyun wore pajama pants with pink vertical stripes on them and a graphic T-shirt with a ketchup bottle saying “What’s up, Dog!” to a hot dog character.
Before Chanyeol could comment on his appearance, Baekhyun gave him a smug smile and a shrug, signaling the universal “I don’t care what you have to say so don’t even bother” body language.
Chanyeol settled to frowning before turning back around to keep his eyes on the cooking meat rather than on Baekhyun’s comfy appearance. His attention was only cut when he felt Baekhyun brush against his side. Looking down, Chanyeol asked, “What’re you doing?”
Hugging his arms from the cool night air, Baekhyun looked up, giving Chanyeol a nice view of his eyes in that fading sunset setting. “Checking to see if you’re cooking my steak right.”
Chanyeol looked away. “Go back inside, Baek. I’m not gonna burn them—”
“You misunderstood. You can burn yours as long as mine’s perfectly well done.”
Chanyeol stopped and looked at the sea with a blank face as he wondered whether he could commit murder by drowning Baekhyun in that perfectly cold and merciless water and still be able to cover up his death by the time Sehun and Kyungsoo got home.
The bastard didn’t care if he burnt his as long as the bastard’s steak came out perfectly fine? Chanyeol looked down to stare daggers at the shorter guy. The action would’ve been more effective if Chanyeol hadn’t seen that Baekhyun was shivering and gripping his arms.
It was then that Chanyeol noticed how close Baekhyun was actually standing next to him. In fact, the guy was pressuring himself against the giant body next to him as if trying to transfer heat over to himself. Chanyeol groaned and rubbed his forehead with a hand.
“Baekhyun, go inside,” he ordered.
Baekhyun snorted. “I’m not leaving my steak in your large hands.”
“Baekhyun,” Chanyeol repeated. “Go back inside if you’re fucking cold.”
“I’m fine,” Baekhyun insisted. “The smoke from the grill’s keeping me warm.”
Chanyeol wanted to hit Baekhyun. “Get out of smoke’s way! You’re going to end up smelling like meat and gas, you idiot.”
Despite the angry warning, Baekhyun just smiled and shrugged, keeping his eyes on the cooking meat. Out of annoyance, Chanyeol gently shoved Baekhyun off to the side. Much to his disappointment, Baekhyun scooted right next to him again.
“For fuck’s sake, Baekhyun!” Chanyeol set the spatula down. “Get the fuck inside!”
“Did you know that eating charred meat isn’t good for you?” Baekhyun informed him in a slightly stuttering voice, evading the demand. “It doesn’t taste good either.”
“I heard that charred meat can add to your chances of getting colon cancer,” Baekhyun mindlessly said, keeping any awkward silences at bay. “Anything burnt is a health hazard. In fact, it’s—”
“Baekhyun, please shut up and just get the fuck inside,” Chanyeol groaned. “You’re jittering right now—”
“I’m like a life-sized human vibrator against you, aren’t I?”
Again, Chanyeol thought about drowning Baekhyun and killing him. Ignoring the remark, Chanyeol tried again. “Baekhyun—”
“If I’m a shaking vibrator, you’d be a dildo.” Baekhyun laughed at himself. “Get it?”
Fuck whoever it was in the Heavens that gave Baekhyun that mouth of his. Perhaps Chanyeol couldn’t kill Baekhyun, but suicide was also on the table. He could just as easily put his face on that grill and spare himself from any more of Baekhyun’s stupid words.
Letting Baekhyun know how frustrated he was, Chanyeol growled as he shrugged off his jacket and shoved it in Baekhyun’s folded arms. Baekhyun was taken aback at the forceful shoving of the jacket, but then he glanced up at its owner.
“Wear it and shut up.”
Baekhyun looked at the jacket for a second before he shrugged. He put it on to the best of his abilities, but the arms ended up being too long and Baekhyun just knew that he looked stupid. In his head, the jacket ruined the perfection of his pajama look.
As Chanyeol asked, Baekhyun stopped talking. He stood there, watching Chanyeol flip and press the steaks a few times. He glanced over and saw that Chanyeol had shoved his hand inside his pocket as a means to keeping that hand warm from the cool night air. Baekhyun almost felt bad for taking the jacket.
Three minutes passed before Baekhyun yawned. “I’m bored.”
Chanyeol rolled his eyes, mentally cursing Baekhyun. “What’re you gonna do about it?”
Baekhyun thought for a moment before making up his mind. He backed away and turned around, heading back inside the house. “Come back when you’re done. If you don’t get mine just right, I’m not eating.”
“Will you stop being so snobby about how your meat will turn out!?” Chanyeol snapped, turning his head back.
Just before Baekhyun closed the sliding door behind him, he responded. “I don’t want colon cancer!” he cried as he shut the door.
Huffing, Chanyeol turned back around to deal with the rest of the cooking that he had to wait around and do. It took a minute and a half of shivering before he realized that Baekhyun had taken the jacket inside the house. Grumbling, Chanyeol went back to retrieve his jacket, but when he tried to slide the door open, he couldn’t. Chanyeol’s eyes darted to the handle on the other side and just about decided how he was going to end Baekhyun’s life.
The fucker had locked the door.
Baekhyun decided to let Chanyeol do his thing by leaving him alone. He went back inside and shrugged the jacket off, setting it back inside a nearby closet. He hadn’t realized that he accidentally locked the door until he walked back in the kitchen area and heard Chanyeol banging on the glass, scowling at him.
Even though he should’ve ran to open the door quickly, Baekhyun took his time walking over and unlocking it. When Baekhyun flicked that lock up, Chanyeol immediately slid that door wide open.
“Don’t lock the fucking door!”
“It was an accident,” Baekhyun replied honestly.
“Uh huh,” Chanyeol said disbelievingly. “Anyways, give me my jacket back.”
Baekhyun paused. Then he whined. “I just put that thing away.”
“Then go get it.”
Baekhyun frowned, but he went ahead and retrieved the jacket, moaning and groaning all the way. And when he was close enough, he threw it over. Chanyeol caught it, gave him a disapproving look before turning back around, thinking about how complicated Baekhyun was making things for him.
Once everything was cooked—perfectly cooked—Baekhyun set the table. He put a fair amount of rice on each of their plates and set two plain glasses by each of them. After the utensils were out, Baekhyun sat down and watched as Chanyeol set a steak for the both of them. Once Chanyeol put all his grilling gear in the sink, he walked towards the hallway.
“I’m changing my shirt. Don’t start eating.”
“Alright,” Baekhyun said dismissively. When he looked down on the meat, he tilted his head. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t exactly colon cancer free either.
When Chanyeol returned, Baekhyun expected him to sit down, but instead he opened the door to the cellar and went downstairs. Baekhyun wasn’t amused. He was hungry. But, deciding that manners were manners, he waited until Chanyeol came back with four bottles of wine—each a different brand.
Baekhyun’s eyes were wide as he watched Chanyeol set those bottles down right in front of him. “Is today some sort of holiday that involves four bottles of wine…” he muttered.
Chanyeol shook his head as he snatched up the basic glass cups that Baekhyun set and went to replace them with fine wine glasses. “We’re just eating dinner.”
“With four bottles of rich people wine.”
Chanyeol’s face was static. “It’ll help down the dinner.” Setting a glass in from of Baekhyun, Chanyeol took a hand and lifted his head up to him, wrenching Baekhyun’s attention away from the wine. “Besides, did you know,” Chanyeol started, mocking Baekhyun’s did-you-know voice, “that wine’s good for the heart?”
Baekhyun didn’t take the bait. “Of course, I do.”
“Well, then,” Chanyeol said as he sat down. “Let’s get started.”
It took three bottles of wine, a few cans of beer, two hours of mindless talk, and a half hour of drunken screaming across the table before Chanyeol got Baekhyun to stop talking about senseless facts about cats, colon cancer, cheesecake and other shit that Chanyeol wasn’t interested in.
Baekhyun was drunk and so was Chanyeol, but Chanyeol was still mildly conscious of everything. Watching Baekhyun, Chanyeol saw that drunk Baekhyun was a million times more talkative and prone to laughter than sober Baekhyun. It was weird, but Chanyeol didn’t know which side of Baekhyun was smarter. The drunk side, which sputtered out “did you know” facts, or the Byun Baekhyun side of him that was an inherited genius when it came to machines.
As Baekhyun eased and his mental consciousness slipped, allowing harbored words and secrets to come out of him, drunk Chanyeol decided that it was time to set everything aside and ask some questions. He reached in his pocket and took out his phone under the table, setting it on the seat next to him. Once he opened up a recording app and started the recording so that he wouldn’t forget their conversation the next morning, the gears started moving.
Leaning on the back of his seat, Chanyeol’s eyes lazily went to Baekhyun who was running his hands through his hair, messing it up. “Baekhyun…”
Baekhyun laughed when Chanyeol said his name. “Yes,” he sang in reply, slowly—and in a beautiful drunken manner—opening his eyes, looking straight at Chanyeol. “Yes, slave master Chanyeol?”
“What’re you doing here?” Chanyeol asked as his fingers twiddled with the rims of a half empty beer can. “Working for me?”
Baekhyun grinned, but he gave Chanyeol an unsure shrug with it. “I don’t know…I don’t even like cleaning,” he mumbled. As Baekhyun’s eyes drifted to the empty wine bottles, his attention from the topic was cut. “Did you know wine made from New York tastes horrible? It does, Chanyeol. It’s very bad. Bitter. Not good at all.”
Chanyeol creased his brows, not liking the fact that he was losing Baekhyun. Then he figured out how he could manipulate Baekhyun’s fact. “How—Ah, how do you know that, Baek?” Chanyeol asked. “Ever been to New York?”
Mindlessly, Baekhyun nodded as he set an elbow on the table and leaned his head against a hand. “My dad decided that I needed to get a feel of the real deal…” Baekhyun paused to deal with a hiccup. “He took me along and forced me to take a few days off college, that bastard. I ended up having a pile of work waiting for me when I got back,” he grumbled, reminiscing the frustration he had back in college. “Hated it.”
I’m sure you did, Chanyeol thought, watching the male. “But what do you mean ‘the real deal’, Baekhyun?”
Lazily shrugging, Baekhyun answered, “Business. Family business. Business dealing with stupid stuff.”
Chanyeol frowned. Stupid stuff? Creating and innovating inventions for the new age of technology was by—in no means— “stupid stuff”. Inventing patches that could be implanted in the brain and used to work a robotic arm to help those without certain limbs was not “stupid stuff”. In fact, if anything, it was all complicated stuff, but as Chanyeol analyzed Baekhyun’s response, he got a feeling that Baekhyun wasn’t interested in any of those things. He had to wonder why.
Cocking his head, Chanyeol asked, “What does your family’s business have to do with? Mind me asking?”
Baekhyun chuckled, but the laugh was hallow. “Machines. Robots. Chips…That sort of thing…” Then he groaned as he rubbed his eyes—probably due to the large consumption of alcohol. “Just like what you do, right Chanyeol?” he said, giving Chanyeol a drunken grin.
Chanyeol didn’t give a response. Even in his drunk state, he still knew that he had to be the one with the upper hand. “Baek, why don’t you just go home?”
Baekhyun paused before giving Chanyeol a sad smile. “Do you hate me so much that you want me to leave, Chanyeol?”
The look in his eyes genuinely made Chanyeol feel bad, but again, Chanyeol had to put those feelings and thoughts aside. He had to ask the question because his phone was recording. “Answer me, Baek. Why don’t you go home?”
Baekhyun shook his head before resting it on the table. “I don’t want to get married...”
Chanyeol noticed how Baekhyun’s voice sounded depressed. “Why not?” he had to ask. It was out of curiosity. He wanted to know what Baekhyun thought about marrying him.
“Arranged marriages are systematic.” Baekhyun lifted his head off the table and wriggled around on his chair. “It’s arranged. There’s no…you know, that uncertainty to it. It’s just a plan that you have to follow. Systematic. Organized. Mechanical…Robotic, almost…”
A short silence passed by. “Baekhyun—”
Before Chanyeol could finish, Baekhyun kept talking. “Which is something I hate, Chanyeol. I really do hate it. I hate how it functions.”
“How what functions?”
“Everything,” Baekhyun muttered, glancing down. “Romance novels…I like romance novels.”
Again, Chanyeol sensed them straying from the topic. “Baekhyun, what about functions? What about—”
Drunkenly waving a hand, Baekhyun cut him off. “I like romance novels because of the uncertainty the characters feel. Everyone knows they fall in love, but it’s like… They have to worry whether their captor will release them, though in most cases they end up making love, but that’s a given.”
Chanyeol had to keep his mouth shut in order to let Baekhyun keep talking.
“In stupid arranged marriages,” Baekhyun started, “it’s all a process. I’m supposed to let a third party chose my partner. I’m supposed to meet them. I’m supposed to like them, marry them, fuck with them, have spawns with them, and have this image with them. In romance novels, nothing feels obligated. They don’t feel obligated to fall in love with whoever they fall in love with. It just happens, Chanyeol...”
Baekhyun sighed. “In other words, arranged marriages are cold, mechanical systems. It’s loveless…”
Chanyeol swallowed. Seeing Baekhyun being totally honest was new and Chanyeol didn’t know how he felt about it. He sensed that this was Baekhyun’s vulnerable side, but either way, he gained an insight on Baekhyun’s functionality. As Chanyeol tried to ask another question, Baekhyun cut him again. This time, Chanyeol receded willfully. He decided that letting Baekhyun ramble was easier.
“Mechanical…Robotic…Systematic…” Baekhyun mumbled. “I hate those things because it just sounds so cold, so stiff, and so assembly line-ish. I know I said that my family deals with technology, but I have no interest in it…”
“I don’t like machines,” Baekhyun simply said as he picked up a nearby can and opened it. “They have no feelings. They’re generic. They have no minds of their own. The only thoughts they have reflect the information inputted in by someone else.”
An elongated pause ensued for a moment. “There’s nothing spontaneous about machines, Chanyeol. They just follow orders…” Then, Baekhyun lifted his eyes up, showcasing Chanyeol his dark orbs. “And I’m not a robot...”
The mood had darkened so Chanyeol decided to feature one of those smiles that Baekhyun has repeatedly told him was creepy, big, large, and unnecessary. “I know you’re not, Baek.”
Drinking from the can, Baekhyun shot back with a satisfied grin and a more uplifted spirit. “I’ve done a good job at it, huh?”
Chanyeol cocked his head and heaved a shoulder. “Might’ve.”
“Yah,” Baekhyun said, unsatisfied. “Admit it.”
Conceding that he could agree and later say that it was just a drunk remark, Chanyeol nodded. “You’ve done good.”
Baekhyun let out a laugh, which seemed somewhat like music to Chanyeol’s ears after Baekhyun’s rants about depressing robots and how he hated things that functioned so coldly and systematically. Seconds and minutes go by without a word said. The smile on Baekhyun’s face slowly fades and Chanyeol’s eyes lazily drop down to everything on the dinner table.
Baekhyun was the first to move, scooting out of his chair and stumbling in the process. He took a hold of the table to stabilize himself. Staring blankly at the table, Baekhyun—beyond drunk at that point—tried his best to piece his drunken self together.
Watching Baekhyun was funny to Chanyeol, but it was all due to the alcohol. They both had a low tolerance of seriousness at the moment.
Tearing his eyes away from the table, Baekhyun took his plate and folded his fingers, indicating to Chanyeol that he wanted his also. “Give me your nasty plate, you messy eater.”
Chanyeol snorted. “Fine. But if you stumble and break these, it’s coming out of your pay,” he warned lightly.
Taking Chanyeol’s plate and stacking it on top of his, Baekhyun made a face. “I can walk straight.”
“By the way you’re wobbling, can you even see straight?”
Baekhyun let out a high laugh. “Hold up a finger and ask me how many!”
A finger? Chanyeol failed to comprehend and raised a single finger. Then he asked, “How many?” just like how Baekhyun wanted.
Baekhyun scoffed. “One!” He grinned. “See? I can see straight. I can see that you only—ah, have one finger up.”
The stupidity of the situation made Chanyeol break out into a grin. “Right. One.”
Baekhyun turned and slowly made his way over to the sink. Even though the distance wasn’t far, Baekhyun kept pausing to regain his balance and to make sure that he didn’t fumble and drop the plates because if he did that, that would be handing the satisfaction over to Chanyeol. Despite being drunk off his rockers, Baekhyun still had the mind to know that he shouldn’t let Chanyeol hold anything over him.
Once Baekhyun got to the sink, he fidgeted with turning on the water. He almost leaned in too much, but managed to fix his position. Baekhyun grabbed the sponge—though he knocked a few trinkets near the sink down in the process—and took one of the plates with his other hand.
Walking straight was a difficult task. Washing the dishes drunk was another case. To Baekhyun, it was like multitasking. He had to make sure that his legs supported him. Then he had to make sure he didn’t go cross-eyed and blurred his own vision, which would lead to him scrubbing his own arm. Another thing was that Baekhyun had to scrub with one hand while holding a plate steady in the other.
Everything. Too much. It was too much for Baekhyun at the moment.
Even the simple task of standing was a challenge. Baekhyun wobbled. Nine times out of ten, he was able to catch himself just in time, but that one out of ten times happened when he least expected it.
To his luck, Chanyeol saw it coming and rushed his own drunk and stumbling self to Baekhyun’s aid. He caught Baekhyun by the waist and stabilized the both of them. Everything would’ve been fine if Baekhyun hadn't forgotten to keep a hold of the plate in his hand, because he ended up dropping it.
Once the plate hit the hard floor, it shattered. Baekhyun winced when the sound rang in his ears. Then he looked up at the giant holding him. Meekly, Baekhyun offered a grin. “I’m sorry?”
“Did you know that breaking plates in Greek tradition is a way of expressing happiness?” Baekhyun said, trying to ease the situation.
“Baekhyun, I don’t care.”
Baekhyun thought, but whatever ran through his head was a drunken thought. They were thoughts that were't thought out. They were ideas that weren't analyzed. They were unreasonable and unorthodox, but drunk Baekhyun didn’t want to be yelled at, so logic was out the window.
Baekhyun turned around. Then he stood of his toes. And in that fleeting moment, he placed a simple kiss on Chanyeol’s unexpecting lips.
“Did you know that kisses makes people happy?”
Ignoring the made up “did you know” fact, Chanyeol brashly asked, “What the hell was that?”
Baekhyun shrugged. “A spontaneous peace offering?”
Baekhyun glanced around before nodding. “Yes?”
Chanyeol stared at the guy. The kiss still lingered on his lips and he could still feel how Baekhyun’s felt against his. Chanyeol cursed. He was mad. He was caught off guard. Honestly, what was that? Chanyeol didn’t know. He didn’t even know how to respond or what that feeling in the pit of his stomach was. He didn’t know why he had this urge…this animalistic urge.
All because they were both too fucking intoxicated.
The world stopped revolving and the only thing Chanyeol heard was silence and the sound of his own heart beating. His head was also filled with thoughts, but like Baekhyun, they weren’t thorough. In the end, the situation was the same for both.
“To hell with it” was the last thing that Chanyeol thought to himself before he reached behind Baekhyun’s head and pulled his head back so that he was looking up at him clearly.
“You call that spontaneous?” Chanyeol muttered. He saw Baekhyun gulp as his eyes traced down the male’s neck. “This is spontaneous,” he declared before dropping his head down.
It was eight in the evening and both were not in their right mind anymore. Chanyeol was wearing a casual black shirt with dark blue jeans. Baekhyun was wearing his cartoon graphic tee along with his striped pajama pants. The kitchen had three empty bottles of imported wine and scattered empty cans of beer. And near the sink, there were two people who were both enjoying the unprecedented bliss of the word “spontaneous” as Chanyeol swooped down, possessively taking Baekhyun’s lips with his own.
There was nothing systematic about the act. It wasn’t planned. There was no obligatory duty to it. It was not a function.
It just happened.