Confessions in the Dark
Immunity of any sort was never in favor of Baekhyun’s well-being. Even as he spoke with the basketball player that early morning, he could feel the sickness begin to crawl and drag its way into his system, threatening to wreck his mood and health within a couple of hours. Chanyeol might’ve found offense in the way the brunet would slowly ease his location farther than what would be considered intimate, but it was all for good reason on Baekhyun’s part. He didn’t want the boy to catch his sickness.
A lot of contending factors aimed to steal credit for his sickly status. Baekhyun thought it had been the disgustingly wet weather and the god-awful gusts of wind that blew his way for the last two days. Another thought that bubbled to his mind was his evening swim in the cold waters with Chanyeol, but he dismissed that. He remembered all too well how hot he became afterwards.
By the time late lunch came around, the headache that surfaced had become severe and Baekhyun felt an extreme feeling of nausea. Kyungsoo had been too caught up in arguing with the soccer captain to notice that the brunet was slowly losing his battle. When it became too much, Baekhyun shoved his tray over and sprinted out the hall, running so quickly that as he dropped to his knees in the bathroom stall, he skidded, burning them as his stomach churned everything out of his system.
He flushed the scene, turning as he opted to excuse himself from the sight of the vomit. Staggering out the stall, he managed to get himself to the sink, washing his mouth out before soaking his face. Eyes heavy, he closed them, thinking it would help with the minor disorientation, but it didn’t.
The last thing he expected were hands on his shoulder. Turning his head, he met Chanyeol’s eyes and a rush of embarrassment washed over him, but before he could address the feeling and reject the boy’s presence, Chanyeol took him by his arm.
“We’re going to the nurse’s cabin.”
“I’m fine,” Baekhyun growled, pulling himself free. A nuisance is what he would’ve been if he stepped in the office. To him, it was a headache and a weak stomach. He had other options. “I’m going back to my cabin.”
As he was turning in another direction, he heard Chanyeol let out a frustrated groan, but followed nonetheless. “For once, will you stop rejecting me!?” he asked. “They’ll give you something to make you feel better!”
“I already vomited. I don’t need anything else than to just lie down.”
“Baekhyun, please.” With his shoulders heaving, Chanyeol grit his jaw and reached forward, grabbing the brunet by the hand in a gentle fashion. “Pretend I’m Kyungsoo for once, and just—”
“I will not pretend as though you’re him, Chanyeol,” Baekhyun snapped, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “You’re not him, and you will never be. And I never want you to be like him, so make your point, but don’t you dare compare.”
As if struck on the face, Chanyeol’s cheeks flushed as he pulled his hand away. “Fine.” He stopped walking and Baekhyun paused with his flow. “Go. But I’m going to the office and getting you something.”
“Because you’re sick!” Chanyeol justified, voice hiking up. “And the weather hasn’t exactly been great, so it might get worse if we don’t deal with it now. And—” He stepped forward, closing the gap between them and placed his palm firmly on the smaller male’s open forehead. “And you’re warm.”
“Amazing. I’m alive and radiating heat off my forehead like a normal—”
“This isn’t the time to be sarcastic,” Chanyeol sighed, removing his hand. “Do you need any help getting there, at least?”
“Are you sure about that? I’m being serious, Baekhyun.”
“Am I a child to you!?”
“You know, sometimes you act like one! What, with you being stubborn and all!”
It blew over more than he had anticipated, and Chanyeol saw it the minute Baekhyun’s face fell. He swallowed as if swallowing the words that just fell from the outskirts of his lips, but kept face, standing with what he had done and said.
“I’m sorry for caring—maybe even too much, in your opinion,” Chanyeol began, hands clenched and wrung. “But I’m doing this my way. If you’re really fine, then go. Get in the cabin and stay there if you don’t feel like you’re physically up for anything anymore, but I’m going to go anyways, and I’m getting you something. What do you have? A headache and a slight fever? What else? Just that?”
Baekhyun made no response; his blank stare bearing in on the boy that towered him. Though intimidating by nature, his effects proved of no value anymore.
“Speak up or I’m taking you to the office—”
“That’s it,” Baekhyun cut. As gentle as Chanyeol was, he had the reserved power to do with him whatever he wanted if it ever came to that point. “Nothing else.”
Chanyeol gave him a long and hard look. “Okay… Then go. I’ll try and be quick.”
There was an expectation in the air. Baekhyun waited for the latter to leave his presence first, but found that just the opposite was happening as Chanyeol stood his ground watching him, silently commanding him to make the first move. Every bone in his body wanted to rebel against the nonverbal command, but only out of mere habit. Orders were often rejected on Baekhyun’s behalf, but that was the lifestyle and personal choice he decided to embark on.
Conceding under pressure was similar to drawing up a pure white flag in the face of a battle. It hurt his pride, but the reward of withdrawing from Chanyeol’s reach was as refreshing as it was bitter to swallow. Though he wished to have been faster, it was something he had no control over. Body wise, he felt up to no challenge, but for appearances sake, he swallowed his body’s warnings and straightened his back, walking strong until he was far from the athlete’s concerning eye.
He turned a corner that blocked him from the boy’s view and moved to the side of the building, dropping down and vomiting.
His immune system always played the part of a weak runt in moments when Baekhyun needed a strong defense the most. Alone, he would’ve accepted his ailments in silence, but when in company of others, it pulled at him to show weakness in front of them, and Chanyeol was the last individual on the face of the spherical earth who he wanted to succumb to illness in front of.
Body temperature rising, he rolled himself in his blanket, cursing at the lack of competence on his part to pack something larger, warmer, and thicker. Unforgiving, he gave himself no excuses to dodge his self-loathing.
He waited minute upon minute for Chanyeol’s return, but after time moved by with nothing but the silence of the cabin bearing down on his ears, Baekhyun knocked himself out to sleep, aware that no one was missing him beyond the cabin walls.
The trip had taken longer than expected, and Chanyeol felt himself nearing the end of his patience. With no sickly student accompanying him, the nurse had refused him access to the medication he needed despite how frivolous it all was considering it was all over the counter pills. When the woman stepped out, he barged into her office and quickly found the things on his mental checklist, but the entire process had dragged itself longer than he had anticipated.
The only image looming in his head the entirety of the time was Baekhyun and the sight of the boy’s knees planting heavily on the ground in one of the stalls. Long before the brunet burst out of the dining hall, Chanyeol had the crawling feeling that something in him had gone array. Between the distant look in Baekhyun’s eyes and the way his body swayed slightly back and forth, red flags were spiked in Chanyeol’s attention, and he had no hesitation in running after him immediately following the brunet’s leave.
Chanyeol found himself jogging back to the cabin, breaking out in cold sweat at the thought of Baekhyun suffering alone. There were times when he had attempted to reach far beyond himself to question his feelings for someone so unrelentingly cold, but the answer was simple. He just cared. It was far beyond his reach to understand, but he figured that love was a complicated force full of entanglements and puzzles meant for no understanding at all.
The forest was silent except for the river in the distant, rushing with happiness from the splatter of rain it had received over the last few days. Chanyeol had an appreciation for nature, but that moment was not in the present. Part of him wished he could lift the smaller male out of nature’s home and back to civilization where care was easier to access, but as strong as he was, that was near impossible.
He reached the cabin and stopped just beyond reaching for the door. There was a lack of expectation on his part, but he was ready to face the brunet in any form of his attitude. It hurt him to fight with the male, especially when it came to the issue of becoming assertive and demanding, but Chanyeol had no other option but to be dominant in the situation that seemed so dire despite the feeling of helplessness that churned within him at the sight of Baekhyun’s ailment.
Stepping inside, the cabin was dark, and no greeting or word of acknowledgement was given. He spotted a lump rolled on Baekhyun’s bed and felt his heart drop. There was a split second where he wanted to step back outside and scream at the horrid feeling of being useless in helping Baekhyun rise from his hurt, but Chanyeol grit his teeth.
Turning on the lights, he stepped towards the body and pulled the medicines from his coat’s pocket before shrugging it off and putting it aside. Baekhyun groaned, mumbling words that seemed like curses against the giant and the light, but Chanyeol had the opposite reaction expected and smiled.
“Hey. I’m sorry I took so long. There was a problem, but I got it anyways.”
“Turn off the lights,” Baekhyun croaked. His voice was cracking in every place and Chanyeol pursed his lips.
Going over to his bag, Chanyeol took out a water bottle and popped it open. “Sit up, Baekhyun,” he said, kneeling beside Baekhyun’s bed and pushing him up by his underside. “Do this for me, okay. Just two pills. That’s all I’m asking for.”
Baekhyun protested, leaving Chanyeol no choice but to sit on his bed and gently force the latter to sit up. Too weak to put up a fight, Baekhyun adhered to his request and sat using the athlete’s chest to bear himself in that position.
Holding the two pills in his hand, Chanyeol placed both on Baekhyun’s tongue and placed the bottle of water on his lips. Trying to lighten the mood, he hummed a small tune as the brunet drank. Once he finished, Chanyeol placed a small kiss on the side of his head and gently moved off the bed, slowly laying Baekhyun back down.
“I’ll leave the water here beside you, okay? Hydrate.”
“Fine,” Baekhyun groaned, turning over and pulling the blanket on him and turning back to his fetal position. “Turn off the lights…”
Chanyeol drew his brows together, frowning at the sight. Baekhyun had felt extremely warm against him, and the giant could only imagine how cold the latter must’ve been. The weather had no mercy, bringing on winds, and the cabin was poor in insulation.
Cursing to himself, Chanyeol walked over to his own bed and took his extra blankets. He covered Baekhyun loosely and turned to close and lock the door to their cabin.
Baekhyun waited for the moment the lights would disappear, but that instant took longer than he had anticipated. From behind, his ears picked up on the sound of clothes piling the floor. Before he could speak, demanding that the lights be shut off for the second time, the cabin was bathed in its previous darkness.
Sighing, Baekhyun fell back into rest mode, unthinking of anything else in the world—until he felt his blankets drawn away from him and a body pressing against his back.
Chanyeol heard a small gasp, but paid it no mind as he continued to make himself comfortable. He put a hand on Baekhyun’s shoulder and turned the brunet to face him. Grinning, he knew that despite the dark, Baekhyun was attempting to glare at him.
Nonetheless, the athlete drew him closer, drawing an arm just at the brunet’s waist.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Baekhyun asked. The way his voice asked, however, showed no venom towards the action.
Humming, Chanyeol nuzzle his cheek against the latter’s head. “Keeping you warm.”
“I never asked for this…”
“You never ask me for anything,” Chanyeol softly replied. “That’s the problem.”
Baekhyun went silent and Chanyeol understood, thinking the brunet was far too weak at this point to make any argument. Then, to his surprise, Baekhyun moved his arm, hugging him back.
“I’m sorry.” The apology was said so faintly, Chanyeol barely heard. Then he heard a small sniffle. “I didn’t mean to snap at you, you know… You were only trying to help. I get that.”
Swallowing, Chanyeol found that he couldn’t move for a second. Then he kissed the brunet’s forehead. “It’s alright,” he said understandingly. “I know.”
“You ought to stop kissing me like that…”
“Why would I do that?”
Baekhyun gave a small shrug. “I don’t deserve it.”
Pulling him closer, Chanyeol hummed. “I don’t think so. I’d stop if you didn’t.”
Giving a quiet laugh, Baekhyun pressed his forehead against the male’s chest. “Chanyeol.”
“What I said about Kyungsoo earlier… I meant it.”
There was a pause. “I know.”
Chanyeol felt a little feeling of defeat. Of course he knew he’d never be Kyungsoo. There would always be a part of him that’d fall short of the man, but it was something out of his reach to fix. He tried not to think about it. In that moment, the only thing he cared about was in his arms.
However, he was then surprised.
“You’ll never be like him, and I hope it stays that way,” Baekhyun went on in the faintest voice. “Stop feeling so insecure about him… I broke up with him because he changed. And as fickle as I am with some things, once it’s over, it’s over, okay? So, please just stop.”
It was amazing how quickly Baekhyun could break his heart and mend it.
“Have I told you already that I’m in love with you?”
Baekhyun snorted. “I don’t think so, but keep that to yourself.”
“How can I when it’s just bursting out of me…” Chanyeol mumbled.
“Just shut up. I’m tired.”
“Okay.” Seconds passed and Baekhyun’s hand wandered down, alarming the giant. “Hey, what’re you doing, you naughty little—ow!”
Chanyeol cringed at the stinging pain on his back side.
“I was checking to see if you had underwear on…moron.”