The reason for Chanyeol’s absence during the meal wasn’t something that Baekhyun sought an answer for, but it was in the back of his mind as he left through the back doors of the dining hall to step out into the soft, drizzling rain. Kyungsoo followed him as soon as the brunet left the table, but he was unable to walk out the door as the teachers and advisors pulled him aside to speak about activities and schedule. Pulling the hood of his jacket above his head, Baekhyun walked down a trail, cemented by dark gravel, and passed several courts activity areas.
He spotted a small park near the camp entrance that consisted of a swing set for four, monkey bars, and a sketchy slide that seemed to lead off a ledge. Walking over, Baekhyun went to take a seat at the set, but saw that just ahead of the playground meant for the younger campers, he saw the creek that ran through the camp. There was a border, a little border that was meant to deter anyone from climbing over and getting hurt, which would cause the camp a shit load of trouble. However, Baekhyun changed his mind about the swing and carefully walked to the edge, crouching over and slowly ignoring the fence, bypassing it.
There was a slight slope, made slippery because of the mud and rain, so with his hands, Baekhyun gripped the roots of the large trees that stuck out. His feet slipped a few times, and he cursed when he accidentally grazed his knee against the dirt wall. There was a small, sardonic thanks muttered underneath his breath when his feet suddenly touched the rocky bed of the small creek. During rainy seasons, Baekhyun knew that the rocks wouldn’t even be visible.
Fixing his hood, he took slow, large steps closer to the water, cautious not to accidentally choose a rock that would give way. Twisting a foot was not something ideal in that moment. By the time he reached the water, little dots began to turn his jacket into a darker shade as the sprinkling continued on.
He couldn’t exactly figure out why he decided to go out his way to get dirty and risk twisting his foot just to stand by a bunch of chemical compound. Maybe he walked there to think, but he could think anywhere in the world—he could’ve thought at the swings—but he chose the water for some reason. Historically, water had always been used for purification rituals, so perhaps that fact was the one-point reason.
A ring came to his ears as the sound of his name penetrated through his introverted focus. He didn’t want to turn around knowing that there would be the physical reminder of his stubbornness bearing down on him with big, brown eyes. But it never stopped; the voice kept calling and eventually, Baekhyun looked.
As athletic as Chanyeol was, Baekhyun suspected some sort of clumsiness to be a genetic aspect of his family’s genes. Where he was lucky to have caught himself using the tree roots, Chanyeol, on the other hand, lost his grip, rolled down the muddy slope and hit the rocks.
“Idiot.” Rushing over as quickly and carefully as he could, Baekhyun went to aid the fallen giant who had sat up and seen him running closer. His hood had fallen back and the brunet had to squint with every drop of rain that hit him right in the eyes. When he reached Chanyeol, he’s breathing was obscure, and it hadn’t occurred to him how fast he ran to the troubled player until he was standing over him almost out of breath.
Holding out his hand, Chanyeol gave the brunet an opportunity to help him up. “Dear god, please tell me you didn’t fall down like I did,” he groaned as Baekhyun clasped his hand on his and pulled him up. Then, like a senior suffering from back issues, Chanyeol bit his lips as he straightened up, bending extra backwards to fix it. “That was a surprise. I wasn’t planning on falling down and getting dirty like that.”
“No one does,” Baekhyun replied as he watched the male look at all the brown spots on his pants and shirt. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Chanyeol replied in a hazy tone before lifting his gaze to the face that was kept on him. “What about you?”
“I didn’t fall like you did.”
“Oh…Okay! That’s cool—good, I mean,” Chanyeol said, quickly fixing himself. “Um, so I—”
“It’s raining, you know.”
“It’s raining,” the brunet repeated, giving him a look. “You’re out here wearing a shirt.”
“And you’re out here with your hood down,” Chanyeol laughed, closing the space between them to reach over and pull the smaller one’s hood over his head. “There. If you’re going to wear a jacket, let’s use the hood, okay?”
“My hood wasn’t my priority running over here.”
“I know.” Grinning, Chanyeol patted the introvert’s cheek. “I was.”
Catching the basketball player’s hand, Baekhyun gave a small smile, but hid the genuine feelings. “You’re flattering yourself, Chanyeol.”
“And you’re holding my hand,” Chanyeol said, gasping as an exaggeration. “You have a soft little hand, you know. Very soft.” He laughed when Baekhyun dropped their contact. “Anyways, what’re you doing out here?”
“I was just walking around.” His eyebrows were drawn together as his eyes went to Chanyeol’s pants. “Don’t you want to go and change? You look like a mess.”
Waving any ideas that Baekhyun had in mind off like the wind, Chanyeol shook his head. “Oh, I’m fine. You have some mud on you, too. Too much walking?” He grinned.
Baekhyun gave him a look before walking past him, grabbing the same tree roots that he used to get on the bed rock level. “Come on. You have to go change,” he said gruffly, setting a foot on a stable root and started pulling himself up.
Boundaries were pressed to its limits when Baekhyun felt hands supporting him. A hand was at his lower back and another was gently kept near his left thigh. He looked back slowly and caught the giant looking as him with a face that gave no hint as to whether or not the male was aware of what his actions were implying. “I think…you should just worry about yourself.”
“I don’t want you to fall,” Chanyeol said before another thought came to mind. “I want you to fall in love with me, no fall on a bed of rocks like I did. It hurts, Baek. Rocks were probably number one on Satan’s to-do list.”
Snorting, Baekhyun shook his head, trying to ignore the warmth that the latter’s large palms gave off. Other than heat, they also gave him a sense of security, an assurance that if he fell back, someone would be there to catch him. The feeling was romantic, and even Baekhyun admitted that it was comforting, even he knew he urged to find one day, but not from Chanyeol. Chanyeol was beyond his league and no feeling of romanticism or comfort should ever arise between them.
After reaching the top, he bend forward and held out his hand. “If you don’t take it in three seconds, I’m leaving you. One, t—”
Chanyeol smiled widely at the look on Baekhyun’s face when he immediately took the offered hand. “I promised myself I wouldn’t waste a second when it came to you,” he said. Before his eyes, Chanyeol watched as a rose colored flush swept across Baekhyun’s face and the brunet’s flustered feelings came seeping out, but the athlete, sensing that the introverted turtle was about to hide back in its shell, gripped the hand more securely. “Stop looking at me like that. I’m going to fall back down if you don’t.”
“Then maybe I should keep looking at you, then,” the brunet muttered.
“Or maybe that’s exactly what I want you to do.” Laughing, Chanyeol was quick to pull himself back up. He let out a soft breath of relief when his knees and palms felt the stable, soft, wet soil under him. When he turned his head upwards, he saw that Baekhyun had stumbled back—and continued to do so while wiping his own hands against his muddied thighs. “Should we go back to the cabin and change now?”
A far-fetched thought zipped through his mind and Baekhyun narrowed his eyes at the giant. After deciding that the athlete couldn’t possibly have thought out and planned the entire minor accident just to trap him in the same cabin, he sighed and looked off. The hood was beginning to slip off his head, but he did nothing about it much to Chanyeol’s concern. “I’m okay,” he said, looking down at the streaks around his knees. “I hope you packed something extra.”
“Yeah, I did.” There was a small pause, one that was too awkwardly placed that Baekhyun’s eyes curiously wandered to the male on the ground. “Hey…Do you think you could help me walk back?”
“Why?” Though the questioned slipped out curtly, Baekhyun started to moved closer anyhow. “What’s wrong with you?”
“My back kind of hurts. Rocks, you know,” Chanyeol explained, giving Baekhyun a small grin.
On a normal day, maybe the answer would’ve been no magnified by a thousand times. However, mechanically, Baekhyun got on the ground and helped the six foot athlete up despite the fact that he was smaller in size. In comparison, his actions were that of a tiny tug boat lugging a large cargo ship to dock.
“It’s not that bad, but I just don’t want to collapse or have something dramatic happen to me on the way to the cabin, you know?” Chanyeol said, getting on his feet. There wasn’t much time to recover in balance before Baekhyun began his migration and the giant was forced to walk. He didn’t complain about the pace despite how much he would’ve liked to walk at a slower pace, because, in exchange, he had the brunet’s arm around his waist and his own arm slung loosely over Baekhyun’s small shoulders.
As they moved along, Baekhyun must’ve felt the lack of necessity in holding Chanyeol’s waist because halfway down the bumpy trail, his hold began to loosen. Unwilling to let the contact go, Chanyeol faked another accident by purposely missing a step and staggering to this side. And naturally, Baekhyun caught him and didn’t let go.
When they reached the cabin, Chanyeol recovered by the grace of god and rushed into the cabin, leaving Baekhyun when they were only a yards away from the wooden establishment. Baekhyun, in his isolation, muttered to himself about the giant’s ploy. He was met with a surprise as he stepped on the cement slab that served as a small porch and walked in to the sight of Chanyeol’s jeans already tossed aside. Just as he was about to make a comment on the carelessly tossed jeans, his gaze went in the giant’s direction, but then he froze.
Baekhyun had the preference of wearing boxers. He also believed that certain things, like him and the athlete, should never mix. Boxer-briefs, in his thinking, were indecent. They outlined certain things that should never be outlined and they were only worn by airheads that had nothing else to offer to the world but their junk and inflated pride. Terrible.
“Are you staring at my—”
Gritting his jaw, Baekhyun cursed himself. It was in his fault to have drifted off in his own thinking while leaving his eyes to gawk at another guy’s private area. There was no excuse. In nowhere across the universe could he ever find one no matter how much he dug in the ground for one. He might as well have buried himself.
“You shouldn’t throw your things on the floor.”
“I know, but were you—”
“Don’t talk to me, Chanyeol,” Baekhyun interrupted, bending over and taking the dirty jeans off the floor. He didn’t know what the hell he was doing. Off the cosmos was where his mind and logic went, leaving Baekhyun with a body that was awkwardly malfunctioning under the pressure of being under the giant’s scrutiny. “Hurry up and change.”
“Oh, but you have me all embarrassed now,” Chanyeol teased as he began to dress one leg at a time. “It’s okay. You can look. This is what an athlete looks like, right?”
Closing his eyes, Chanyeol laughed, pulling his new jeans on and zipped the front. “Like I told you, I’m pretty fit.” Baekhyun stood looking at him with his mouth gaped as if to say words. The giant’s dirty jeans were still in his hand, gripped tighter than a constrictor on its prey. “I really want you to change out of those jeans, too, Baek. They’re almost as dirty as mine were.”
“They’re not that bad…”
Grinning, Chanyeol cocked his head. “Yes, they are, Baekhyun.”
The look in Chanyeol’s eyes were blazing up the brunet’s existence and he felt suffocated. There was something about the way the player’s lips were curved, the way his head was tilted, and the way he stood half wet, half dry that gave Baekhyun some sort of anxiety. After a second, he nodded and threw the jeans over to Chanyeol who caught them.
As he hastily walked over to his bed and unzipped the bag that he left on the floor. From behind him, he could hear Chanyeol rustling around on his side. There was a curiosity clawing at him, but Baekhyun kept his eyes forward. Once he found a pair of pants to switch into, he stood up and went to turn to the door, but his focus betrayed him when the mere flash of Chanyeol’s naked skin as he changed out of his wet shirt came to Baekhyun’s peripheral vision.
Giving the brunet a confused, inquiring expression, Chanyeol frowned, pulling a new shirt over his torso. “Where’re you going?”
Swiftly continuing to turn away, Baekhyun gave a response under his breath. “To change,” he said.
“You’re going out back out there to run to the bathrooms?”
“Baek—” With his lips pursed and hands fidgeting with his mental indecisiveness at the very last minute, Chanyeol ran over and caught the end of Baekhyun’s hood, pulling him back in the cabin. “It’s raining. Not hard, but still. Just change in here.”
Baekhyun reached back and gently pried the giant’s hand off. “I just want some privacy.”
“I can turn around if you really don’t want me to watch you…” After realizing what he had just implied, Chanyeol took a step away from the brunet with his hands up in front of him. “No! I didn’t mean that I would watch you. I wouldn’t—no. I just meant that…Argh.” Biting his lips, the folds on Chanyeol’s face increased as he creased his brows together. “Never mind. Hold on.”
Lifelessly, Baekhyun stood aside watching the male move to his bed corner and pull a thin, light jacket from one of his bags. After putting it on, Chanyeol walked back over to him. With a smile on his face, the giant made it a task for the latter to decipher what he was about to do.
“I’ll wait outside then.”
Rolling two dices and landing identical numbers had better odds than any of Baekhyun’s guesses as to what it was that was on the man’s mind. “What?” he managed to say after a long moment.
Chanyeol shrugged, pulling his jacket’s hood on him. “I said I’ll wait outside,” he said, no bitter feelings or tone meant to maim the brunet’s feelings. “It’s not that big of an issue, anyways. I can stand under the little porch roof thing.”
Confliction rose as Baekhyun’s lips came to a thin line just as the giant moved from him. “Chanyeol, wait.”
Ears perked, Chanyeol came to halt. “Yeah?”
“You don’t have to.”
“But I don’t want you to—”
Grumbling, Baekhyun took a few steps to him, pulling the male away from the door as the latter had similarly done to him just minutes prior. “Just stay here.”
“If you’re going to run out there, then no—”
Closing the door, Baekhyun shook his head. Never in a million years did he ever think to include the athlete into any consideration of his taking, and even then, he couldn’t understand the leniency he had in that moment, but he had made up his mind. “Do you know the story of Oedipus, Chanyeol?” he asked as he pushed the giant in his corner.
“Oedipus. He slept with his own mother.”
When they reached the bed, Baekhyun retracted back his hands from contact, but he kept his eyes locked with Chanyeol longer than so. “Well, at the end of his tragic story, do you know what he did? He stabbed his own eyes.”
The brunet abandoned the athlete as he went to an adjacent corner, but Chanyeol’s eyes were kept glued on him. “That sounds awful…”
“Yeah,” Baekhyun replied, reaching down to undo the button of his jeans in the front, “but if you don’t turn around and do what you told me you wouldn’t do right now, I’ll make you do the exact same thing he did.”
Chanyeol made a face, but he stifled a laugh as he turned his back against the other. “You’re something else, you know that? You’re almost scary.”
“I should be.”
“But you're not.”