From the Horizon
Questions roamed the empty, echoing caves of Baekhyun’s mind as to what it meant to love someone as genuinely as he loved the last. Warm, soft, and gentle, the boy who unrelentingly held his embrace throughout the night was far more than he deserved—an opinion dark, but true, shared by the masses that pinned the basketball player on the top of their most wanted list. The soft breathing gracing the back of his neck brought comfort, but a dragging feeling to his chest knowing a possibility existed in the universe that perhaps all that was reality could be proven false with time.
Life was like a hurricane, unpredictable in its damaged and unpredictable in existence. In that moment, as Baekhyun lied with Chanyeol’s arms wrapped around his aching body, he realized that what they had was more than just a slight storm with a flicker of rain. It was a hurricane, strong in its approach and terrifying in its life, but he knew that he was no longer hiding behind his sand-stacked walls, praying to weather it through without feeling one drop of water. Instead, he was out of his walls, from the safety of his house, his barrier and protection, and was standing on the beaches surrounded by crashing waves, anticipating the dark clouds in the horizon.
As predicted by Kyungsoo’s series of unhindered texts and private proclamations, the weekend passed with a feeling of relief, but not so much a feeling of unity. A decision had been made on Baekhyun’s part; one that he knew would cause a split in the relationship he treasured the most. In the decisive moment when Kyungsoo reached out to him, an indication for the brunet to follow the student body president to the second bus, the latter had chosen to take a hold of Chanyeol’s hand. As an act to confirm his decision, Baekhyun drew his eyes to the ground as if refusing to watch himself fall from Kyungsoo’s grace through the reflection of the president’s dark, broken eyes.
Still feeling slightly weak over his recent sickness, Baekhyun made no move to fall in his usual routine of losing himself in his music as he watched the scenery pass in a blur manner. Understandingly, Chanyeol reached down to his backpack set on the bus floor and pulled out his own cellphone and a pair of earbuds. Then, without needing to ask for permission, he slipped one of the buds in Baekhyun’s ear, earning him a curious glance as he put the other in his own.
“I thought that you might want to listen to something,” Chanyeol said, smiling softly as he opened his phone’s playlist. “I should’ve charged your phone last night, but I forgot. Good news, though, I took some mental notes about the type of music that you like, so I have some on here that I think you’ll be familiar with. Well, I hope.”
The player was too busy rambling to see the way Baekhyun watched him as he diligently scrolled through a variety of songs. Biting the inside of his cheek, Baekhyun closed his eyes and leaned his head against the cold window to his left, drowning in thoughts that zipped to and fro between Chanyeol’s goodness and Kyungsoo’s presence. It was far too much to think about the other when the man beside him went through every precaution to make sure he had a blanket for the early morning air. It hurt for one reason or another to be treated so closely and warm, but Baekhyun was selfish, coming to the acceptance that he knew he liked the way Chanyeol held him like a delicate rose, a breath away from losing all its petals.
His eyes wandered from the basketball player’s lips to his cheek to the corner of his brow. Perfection was too much of a word to describe a human flawed by nature, but there was a resistance the brunet felt when the desire to trace the sharp lines of Chanyeol’s jaw arose from the vast infinite of his universe. The sound of Chanyeol’s soft hum was louder than the music itself, and leaning against his seat, Baekhyun found the urge to give himself the pleasure of humming along with the song, because the giant had been right. He did like that song. Possibly just as he liked…
Hearing his name pass the brunet’s lips, Chanyeol jerked from his musical trance. “Yeah? What? Are you okay?”
Nodding his head, Baekhyun gave him an assuring smile. “I’m fine.”
“Are you sure? I have some extra pills in my bag if you have a headache.”
“The headache’s gone. You don’t need to worry.” Slowly drawing his lips together, Baekhyun lifted his right hand and surprised the latter by grazing his jaw with a slender index finger. “Do you know what a hypothetical question is?”
Thinking clearly proved to be a difficult, but Chanyeol managed to rise to the challenge, nodding. “A question that’s just asked out of curiosity, I guess. Doesn’t really have a right or wrong because it’s not really a real question. Why?”
“Because I have one.” Drawing his finger away, Baekhyun couldn’t decipher whether the light in Chanyeol’s eyes diffused or became sparked with interest. “Let’s consider it an open discussion with no definite answer or implication.”
“Am I supposed to feel this scared for a question?” Chanyeol asked, laughing nervously as he leaned in. Then he waved his hand. “Nevermind. Just hit me with it. I’m ready.”
A pause crawled slowly on them as a short, dragging silence as it ensued before Baekhyun cocked his head and said, “Hypothetically, let’s say that I do like you, and I’m only annoyed at you half the time because you really don’t understand that there are far more people out there more deserving of you and your dumb self.”
Jaw hung, Chanyeol was floored. “What part of that was hypothetical…” he asked softly, trying to search Baekhyun’s eyes for an answer. “That all sounded pretty real to me…”
Determined to push through, Baekhyun ignored the man’s words and continued to face him, speaking platonically. “And, let’s say, hypothetically, I’m actually more scared of dating you than you know.”
“Baekhyun.” Again, he was ignored.
“And that…” Baekhyun’s jaw tensed. “Let’s say that I do have an interest to date you. Hypothetically, what if I liked you just as much as you go out of your way to show me all the reasons why we belong together?”
It was hard to breathe. The atmosphere was so suffocating, Baekhyun felt the outrageous desire to smash through the window with his fist and bleed for the chance of inhaling fresh air. The eyes set on him were serious, the gentleness gone. In its place were eyes so hungry for answers, Baekhyun felt as though he was one word away from being eaten alive.
With his voice low and wavering, Chanyeol gave him an intense look, brows drawn together as his chest heaved to accompany his racing heart’s erratic activity. “What’s your hypothetical question, Baek?” he asked, voicing it out like a command. “Ask me the hypothetical.”
“How long do you think it’ll be before we start moving in opposite directions, much to a point where it won’t work out anymore? Yours kisses, your small gestures, how long will all that last before it all goes stale with time?” Baekhyun’s glanced down for a moment before meeting Chanyeol’s eyes again. “Things don’t last forever, so what if I’m in love with who you are now? What happens when we get bored of each other or when the kisses start becoming the whispers of our relationship’s ghost?”
Slowly, Baekhyun’s eyes followed the way Chanyeol hung his head, lost in his thoughts for a single moment in time before he met the latter’s gaze again. “Well, for one, we’re living in the present, right? I get it. You don’t know what’s going to happen, and I feel like this all has something do with him, right? Kyungsoo? Something happened that now all you do when you see me is see the hypothetical future, almost like you don’t even see us, but just how we might end up being.”
“And if that’s true?”
“Then why?” Chanyeol said, eyes focused and jaw tense. “I’m not him and you said it yourself. I’m not and I won’t ever be. Whatever he did, I won’t do—”
“That’s an awful promise, Chanyeol.”
“But you don’t know that and neither do I, but that won’t stop me from trying my best like I’ve been doing this entire time.” He swallowed, taking a pause. “When you look at me, I want you to see me and only me. I’d give you the world for that to happen, you know. I just want you to think of me all the time without having to worry about what might happen, because as much as it breaks your pretty little heart just thinking about that hypothetical moment, it kind of hurts me, too, you know, to have you thinking so glum and bum about me while I’m sitting here thinking about things like moving in together and getting a pet.”
Baekhyun cracked a faint smile, laughing subtly as he tilted his head. “You’re too much of an optimist for me, Chanyeol.”
“One of us has to be one or else we’d be in square one forever,” Chanyeol said, grinning.
“So, um…” Reaching over, Chanyeol hesitantly took Baekhyun’s hand. “Does that answer your hypothetical question even though it makes me sad that everything that you said was just said hypothetically?”
An individual’s threshold could only bear so much before needing to be relieved of its pressure. Leaning over, Baekhyun slid his hand on the curve of Chanyeol’s neck and kissed him on the lips, catching the man off guard until he responded a second later, pushing back and deepening the contact. Without a hassle, the giant pushed the arm rest between them back into its upward position, clearing the barrier between them and moved closer.
The simple fact that they were under the eyes of those around them was thrown into irrelevancy as Baekhyun took every kiss that was put on him. And when Chanyeol was satisfied with his mouth, he kissed the brunet’s cheek, brows, and eventually, his forehead—twice.
“I think I’m in love with you.”
Baekhyun closed his eyes when the basketball player rested his forehead against his. “You already said that, Chanyeol.”
“I know. I just wanted to remind you in case you forgot.”
Love, most definitely, never lasted as long as the summer season, and Baekhyun thought no differently.
Gone were the summer nights, cloaked in darkness, but exemplifying the undeniable lights in the sky, and gone were the summer days when love seemed warm like the light of the sun. Change was an inevitable force, something Baekhyun was no stranger to.
The way he kissed was brisk and faint, so much so that the brunet had no time to reciprocate. His touches, his voice, and even his presence were gone, leaving nothing but dead, wasted memories in their trails.
A part of Do Kyungsoo never left him, but the things that made him lovely had faded quickly with every blink of the eye. His reality was more than Baekhyun could understand, and the drift between them only grew wider with every decision the latter made to improve himself.
Anything done for the greater good could never be without the casualties of the old. Somewhere along the line, between reaching for the stars and following a new path, a path set aside for him and for his success, Kyungsoo lost the love in his heart to make room for more selfish desires.
Baekhyun had tried to dismiss the change in his boyfriend as a side effect from the divorce. Kyungsoo never spoke of his parents’ separation except to spite love and unions as a sham under his breath, unthinking that his boyfriend would ever hear.
He fell into darkness, only ever seeing someone for their sins and their faults, and as though he changed with the turn of the autumn season, the warmth in him died as well.
Love for any object became obscure and irrelevant as Kyungsoo changed his goals and Baekhyun watched from the side. Soccer had been his sport, but after the custody battle became settled and his life was split in the hands of two individuals, he never touched a ball again.
There were times when Baekhyun had tried to reach out in the hope of reviving the life that was once inside, but it soon came to his understanding that some things were out of his power to resuscitate. And so he watched the decaying of the summer bloom from the shadows of the tree they once shared.
When it came to the point that there was nothing left to salvage, it was Baekhyun who asked for a separation. But in that moment, when he saw the way Kyungsoo’s face contorted ever so slightly as though his eyes were snapping out of their cold comatose, Baekhyun almost felt as though he saw a spark of the fire that was once there. However, in his fault, he ignored the sign of life that was crying to be recognized in Kyungsoo’s eyes, dismissing it as another trick of his mind to pity the lost cause.
Though he had watched Kyungsoo turn to the heartless, pessimistic, workaholic that he had become, the one thing Baekhyun could never forget was the way the latter reached out for his hand, holding it with a gentle touch the brunet had once thought gone and asked in a soft, quiet manner:
“Is it alright…to remain as friends?”
The drowning sound of the bus was not enough to kill the thoughts running rampant in murderous intent. Kyungsoo watched with dead eyes as the life outside his window passed by without appreciation, burning in hatred and anger over the rejection. It engulfed him as though it was Lucifer’s own inferno grabbing him, withholding no mercy for a heart gone black.
His heart was speeding with lunacy, hungry for relief but unable to seek it. Clenched and binding, his fists refused to open, closing his palm on lock, hiding it from the world as he had done with his own feelings. Kyungsoo’s uneven breaths rendered him dizzy and mad; there were moments when he had to remind himself and recall how to breathe.
People often thought it meant nothing to lose one, but it meant the world to lose all, and Kyungsoo was in the masses. So content in his isolated state of mind and private life, the end to his mental empire was Baekhyun himself—and he had never realized it.
The soft-spoken and gentle brunet had been the only constant in his ever-changing life of transitional change, but had his world spun so out of control that even Baekhyun broke from the centripetal force that kept him? Cursing, Kyungsoo winced.
For as long as he knew, he had seen everything in inverted colors, seen people for their lies, and believed in their faults. There was no such thing as light, and there was no such thing as forever—emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Everything in the world revolved around facts, and the fact that he knew all too well was that things weren’t indestructible and people left…
People left. They always left. One another, family, lovers, friends, neighbors, everyone… It was the disgusting fact of human nature, and Kyungsoo despised it all. The hands that could’ve helped him disappeared. The faces he grew accustomed to turned black. The love, the light, the sun, the sky, and the life that once existed was no more than a reflection on water, and Kyungsoo, himself, played as Narcissus, falling in love with that image, the lies of water’s reflection, and fell to his suicide.
Wet drops fell from his eyes, but Kyungsoo made no move to wipe them away. Built so far up his tower, the fall was more than he had ever imagined. As his armor cracked, vulnerability seeped and he could do nothing but let it spill out of him like blood from an open wound. He had no knowledge of what to do, or words to comfort himself. It was a state he had rejected to feel from the divorce; it was a state he rejected during the break up; but in that moment, it was a state he could deny no longer.
He hung his head with lips tight and cracked with hope that no one on that god forsaken bus saw his moment of emotional madness, but to his surprise, a hand came in his blurry view, subtly offering a folded handkerchief. Hesitantly, Kyungsoo looked to his left and caught the eyes of the soccer captain in the seat beside him, piercing through him with his eyes of passive judgment.
Without a second thought, he accepted the piece of cloth, dismissing the way the morning light hit the boy’s face the very second they had traveled completely out of the woods.