Depression was a monster that hid in the darkest corner of his mind, and no matter how hard Kyungsoo kept himself busy with mindless tasks for the purpose of distracting himself, it was present like a tumor; it had its own life. On occasions when he'd slipped into that dark state, he'd feel as though he was drowning underwater, but never having Death around to relieve him or have the ability to rise above the surface. It was like being doused in gasoline and set ablaze, but the pain would never cease and death would never come.
There was medicine to relieve the illness, but Kyungsoo knew he hadn’t reached the point where he wanted to feel nothing at all just yet.
Clutching onto his neck, Kyungsoo ripped the black tie that hung around him. It was beginning to feel like a goddamn noose.
The cold night air hit his face, cooling the warm tears he had neglected to wipe. His back turned away from campus as he stepped outside the back gates.
The streets were empty. Running both of his hands through his hair, Kyungsoo took in a gasp of air before exhaling raggedly. His strides down the dark, dimly lit streets were quick, wanting the buildings to be far from his sight.
It wasn’t long before he came to a stop at an unfamiliar street corner. Deeming that he was far enough from the school grounds, he stuck his hand in the pocket within his jacket, taking out a pack of cigarettes. It was half empty, making him laugh in bitter fashion. He was burning one stick after the other. Death was wrapping its arms around him, and he was embracing it like a goddamn fool.
Ignoring his better conscience and giving fuel to his inner demons, Kyungsoo snatched the lighter within his back pocket and set the end of the stick on fire. He inhaled, relishing in the sensation of his burning lungs, exhaling only when they began to desperately crave for oxygen. After his initial puff, Kyungsoo took three more inhales, all consecutively one after the other with nothing more than a minute interval between each indulgence.
Different forms of comfort surrounded him, but he chose to dance with his black habit. It was a sedative, numbing him of from stress and keeping him alive. To be in love with something that was virtually killing him was a business he knew he should’ve diverged from long ago, but who was he to admit such a thing when he couldn’t even remove Baekhyun from his life?
He was crushing the cigarette stick unconsciously. Upon realizing, he lessened his grip. In the distance, he spotted a concrete bench and made a his way toward it.
With every step, he left a trail of burning thoughts. In the short time for three years, he had watched the world bleach itself of color. His parents had loved, fought, and divorced within that matter of time. Baekhyun came, struggled, and left. And as they all died in his world, they took his hopes and dreams with them, leaving him with nothing but dispassion for everything.
Sitting harshly down on the bench, he threw his head back, cursing. The sky and the stars were the only things that remained the same no matter where life took him. Despite its dark and void existence, it was a symbol of hope. Maybe outside his life and out from the his world of constant struggle and loneliness, something else awaited him.
Under the secrecy of darkness, by every nightfall, Kyungsoo silently promised himself that if the opportunity to leave the cage that kept him presented itself, he would abandon his home, his life just as the others had done unto him.
A flash of light from afar blinded him from the corner of his eyes. Squinting, Kyungsoo hid the cigarette as he held a free hand to cover himself from the piercing light of what sounded like a scooter vehicle. Without a word, he anticipated the individual to pass by quickly, but realized the man did not intend to speed faster. Instead, he slowed down.
Quickly, Kyungsoo dropped the stick between his fingers down on the ground and grounded it dead beneath the heel of his shoe. As the individual stopped before him, he patted his clothes in the vain hope of ridding of the smell.
After a moment, he glanced up. His eyes refocused after the blinding experience just as the man took off his helmet. Frowning, Kyungsoo sneered.
“Not-so-fancy seeing you here.”
Jongin tucked the helmet underneath his arm. His face was not entertained, but his expression did not seem angry or agitated. It looked too much like pity for Kyungsoo’s liking.
“What’re you doing here? You should be at home,” Jongin said, his eyes carefully watching.
Mocking him, Kyungsoo mimicked his words, exaggerating his facial expressions as he did so. “You should be at home-- The same can be said for you, so you can fuck off with your shit attempt to look like you give a damn.” Kyungsoo reached in his jacket and pulled out another cigarette stick, diminishing what he had left. “Go on. Leave already--”
Without warning, Jongin kicked the stand of his scooter to get up and grab the stick from Kyungsoo’s cold fingers. He threw the unused drug to the side, sending the boy’s temper ablaze.
Immediately, Kyungsoo rose. “What the fuck--”
“Stop.” Jongin growled, grabbing Kyungsoo by the wrist when he saw an attempt to try and sock him. “Don’t give me a reason to fight you. Lay a hand on me and you’ll regret it.”
Pulling his hand away, the furious latter tried to walk away but Jongin pursued.
“Kyungsoo this, Kyungsoo that--What the fuck do you want with me! You can’t even tell me why you’re here and you think you can fucking dictate what I want to do? Leave me alone!” he screamed, breaking to pieces with every word that scratched through his throat.
“Chanyeol texted me, Soo. He said--”
“Oh, oh. He did? Park Chanyeol actually gave me a thought?” Kyungsoo was going crazy. Just the sound of the player’s name was enough to snap his sanity in two. Viciously, he stopped in his tracks and whipped around, pointing a jabbing finger to himself. “I feel so fucking grateful!”
“Stop that.” With jaws set, Jongin slowed his steps, but kept approaching. “He’s a good guy. I know it. Baekhyun knows it. Why can’t you see that?”
“Because he’s not!” Kyungsoo took a step back. “He thinks he’s got the upper hand in making me look like some kind of goddamn fool by sending you here. What am I supposed to do, hm? Eat the food right out of his hand like some fucking animal!?”
“The least you two can fucking do for me is to stop. Did I ask for your help? Did I implore you to waste your time looking for me on your fucking scooter? No. I didn’t,” Kyungsoo hissed. His eyes were burning, but he was oblivious to the tears that streaked out. “He’s a thief, Jongin.”
“No, he’s not, Soo.”
“He stole the only star left in the goddamn sky and he thinks he can pretend like he fucking cares about me!” His nightmares sprung to life. He sobbed, voice crackling like lightning breaking the serenity of gray skies. “Baekhyun was mine… He was mine. Not his… Who gave him the right to take that from me?”
“Baekhyun did.” Jongin inhaled, shaking. “They’re in love… and I know that you know that already.” Taking the risk, he reached out and held Kyungsoo by his shoulders with no intent on aggressively keeping him in place. Surprisingly, the latter made no action to remove himself from the situation. “Chanyeol cares for you because he knows that he’s in love with someone close to your heart, but he can’t let go. It’s human nature to be selfish.”
“Then Chanyeol’s no exception…” Sighing, Jongin let go, but dragged one of his hands down Kyungsoo’s arm until he took hold of him by the wrist. “I want you to come with me.”
“If you think I’m going to let you take me home--”
“I’m not--and that’s the thing.” Jongin walked them back to his motor vehicle. “He might’ve contacted me with the intention that I take you home, but I’m not leaving you alone for tonight. Wipe your face, Kyungsoo. If those tears are for Baekhyun, I don’t want to see them on your face again.”
Why he was allowing his being to be dragged by another, Kyungsoo gave no reason. He felt weak in mind, heart, body and soul. His resistance was dying. When Jongin handed him an extra helmet, he stalled, staring.
What he held in his hands was freedom. Though only a mere helmet, it was a chance to escape--even if just temporarily--from the pit of turmoil he was sinking into. And as he promised himself, he gripped the chance.
He did not ask where the destination was. Kyungsoo put on the helmet with no questions raised. As he sat in the back, he silently lashed at himself for breaking, but Jongin’s soft touch under his chin pulled him from his mental brawl.
“This won’t go as fast as a motorcycle, but it’s best if you still hold on tightly.”
For once, Kyungsoo complied with a nod of his head and arms grazing the captain’s waist in a gentle, but secure hold.
Jolting from his bed, Chanyeol reflexively stood up the second he heard the bathroom door open. He dropped his phone on the bed, forgetting the device the second Baekhyun lifted his eyes from the floor to meet the his.
“Done?” Chanyeol asked. His throat felt dry just by seeing the brunet fitting perfectly into his age-old clothes--that and amongst other reasons.
Nodding, Baekhyun walked his way over, holding his towel in his folded arms. “What do you want me to do with this?”
Thinking was a task too difficult to accomplish without any mistakes. “You can leave it...on the, um, chair. My chair over by my study,” Chanyeol said, stumbling with his face slowly burning red with every time he saw Baekhyun attempted to stifle a grin. “I honestly don’t care, though…”
Scoffing, Baekhyun went ahead and placed the towel over the back of the revolving chair. As he was doing so, Chanyeol noticed a material the brunet was holding in his right hand. “Is that my underwear?”
“Yeah,” Baekhyun responded with ease, finding no reason to lie out of embarrassment. “The one you gave me didn’t fit, so I decided not to wear anything underneath. Would it be okay if I take these home and wash them before giving them back to you?”
The question almost went unnoticed. The athlete’s ears were still ringing with the echo of the words “I decided not to wear anything”.
It took a moment for Chanyeol to respond, but even then, he found himself stumbling. “That’s fine,” he said tightly. Then, clearing his throat, he stood stiffly as he asked, “What do you want to do now?”
Taking a seat on the bed, Baekhyun cocked his head. “What do you want to do?”
Laughing quietly, Chanyeol joined him, taking a seat on the other side. “Please don’t throw my question back at me. I don’t trust myself.”
“That’s very honest of you, Chanyeol… I guess some other time, then.” Baekhyun leaned over, feeling the floor until he felt the lost television remote underneath the bed within his grasp. “Let’s watch something.”
“Wait--What ‘some other time’? Some other time for what?” Chanyeol asked, brows drawn together as Baekhyun propped the pillows available against the headboard. “Baekhyun--”
“I was kidding,” Baekhyun said, motioning for him to sit leaning against the pillows. “Now, move over here.”
“Can we not joke about anything like that right now?” Chanyeol said under his breath, climbing to the middle of his bed. After a second, he settled in the space Baekhyun had created. “It’s kind of hard right now.”
“What’s hard?” Baekhyun asked, nudging Chanyeol’s legs apart to sit in between them. “I thought I took care of that.”
Playfully growling, Chanyeol grabbed the latter on his sides, making the brunet to squirm before the athlete decided to show some mercy. “I don’t like the way you joke around.”
Scoffing, Baekhyun fixed his crinkled shirt and let the giant pull him closer. “I don’t like the way you’re not specific,” he retorted. Once he was comfortable, he turned on the television. “What would your parents think if they walked in right now?”
Shrugging, Chanyeol slipped his arms around the smaller male’s waist. “I don’t know. I locked the door.”
Turning his head back, Baekhyun arched a brow. “You locked the door?” When Chanyeol nodded, he sighed. “Don’t you think that’ll come off a little inappropriate?”
“It might.” Glancing down at the brunet, Chanyeol grinned. “Do I care?”
“Tell me that my influence isn’t rubbing off on you,” Baekhyun groaned, rolling his eyes. “You should care. If not, they might say no to me coming over again.”
“They wouldn’t do that…” The athlete paused. “I’ll leave it unlocked next time. Promise. It’s just too late to unlock it now, and I kind of don’t want to move from this position if I’m being honest here.”
“Fine,” Baekhyun said, ending the conversation as he flipped through the channels. “What do you want to watch?”
“Anything’s fine with me.”
“Are you sure?”
Laughing, Chanyeol nodded, pitter-pattering his fingers on the brunet’s stomach. “Always.”
The moment was sincere, and Baekhyun realized he was happy. To lie and to sit, perfectly molded with Chanyeol’s body, there was nothing left to ask for.
The television flicked with unnoticed images, lost to their attention and noises drowned by whispers and soft voices speaking and conversing about mindless things that did not hold much value, but was enough to linger and pull both of them in a sense of belonging. Though rough and callous, Chanyeol’s hand did not bother the small male as it traces pointless circles on his soft belly.
When the tracing began to cease, half an hour after both had settled, Baekhyun slowly turned his head around to catch a glimpse at the player becoming more and more enticed to sleep. Smiling to himself, Baekhyun reached up and stroked the boy under his jaw. With eyes weakly fluttering, Chanyeol gave a small smile, wearily glancing down.
“Time to go to sleep?”
Nodding, Baekhyun pulled his hand away. “You’ve had a busy day.”
“Busy…” Chanyeol said before laughing softly. “I think I liked the after-dark activities more than the actual game.”
Rolling his eyes, the brunet sat up and moved from his position. Crawling to the side, he pulled the blankets from beneath the giant’s body and threw it over him.
Frowning, Chanyeol watched with tired eyes as Baekhyun left the bed, turning off the television as he did so. “Where’re you going?” he asked.
“I’m turning off the lights.”
“Oh…” Sighing, Chanyeol closed his eyes. “Hurry back… Here.” Raising his head, he spotted Baekhyun’s phone on the bedside table. He reached for the device and clicked the home button, flashing the LCD light. “So you know where I am in the dark.”
Snorting, Baekhyun walked across the room. As he did so, Chanyeol turned the phone to himself, glaring against the light. His heart gave a little drop, but Baekhyun’s voice took his attention immediately. “Ready?”
The lights went out and the darkness took its rightful place. Chanyeol repeated the process, clicking the button and shining the light to guide Baekhyun back in bed. With a few seconds, the giant felt the bed dip and a small body crawling towards him. Once he was sure Baekhyun was near, he gripped the covers, opening it for the latter to join in.
Underneath the dim light, Baekhyun smiled. “Thanks.”
“My pleasure.” Chanyeol paused for a second, letting the other settle on his side facing towards him before speaking again. “You got some messages…”
After being handed the phone, Baekhyun turned down the brightness and looked at his inbox. Then, as a second passed, he glanced up at Chanyeol’s half grin. “Chanyeol--”
“It’s okay. You can answer them.”
Baekhyun bit his bottom lip and glanced at the phone in between them. The giant’s eyes, though weary and tired, deceived him, and Baekhyun felt the timing was off putting. He turned the cell phone off and quietly slipped it underneath the pillow.
“I’ll answer him tomorrow,” he said, shrugging as he turned on his side, back against Chanyeol. “Let’s go to sleep.”
A second later, the brunet felt a hesitant hand touch him on the waist. “Baekhyun, really. It’s fine.”
“I said tomorrow, Chanyeol.”
“Are you sure?”
Sighing, Baekhyun nodded and closed his eyes. “Yes… Now, just close your eyes and go to sleep.”
Chanyeol pursed his lips, before conceding to the request. He jostled about, trying to find the line between comfort and satisfaction, hand still on Baekhyun’s waist. The contact was desired, but confusing as to whether or not he had the permission to do so, but after a few minutes of fighting with him, Chanyeol felt Baekhyun’s hand touch his and pull it more to his front.
“You take a long time with a lot of things…”
Flustered for a split second, Chanyeol almost pulled his hand back, but the warmth from the other’s body was enough to snap his nerves back into place. Playfully growling, the jock tightened his hold and moved closer against the brunet’s body. The proximity between them was nonexistent. Baekhyun could feel the giant’s soft breath.
“Sorry. I wasn’t sure if it was okay,” Chanyeol said quietly, relaxing his body as he finally allowed himself to slowly shut his eyes.
Scoffing, Baekhyun moved around for a minute until he found comfort. “We’ve done more...things than this--”
“Shhh… Let’s not talk about it. Sleepy time, like you said, right?” Baekhyun groaned, feeling the male’s large, rough hands slip under the hem of his shirt, touching him softly. “I think you were made to be in my arms, don’t you think?”
“That’s really cliche of you to even say, Park…”
Quietly, Chanyeol laughed. “Well, I think so… My opinion as your boyfriend matters now…” The heaving of his chest softened, giving Baekhyun the sign that the day finally caught onto the giant's ability to stay awake. “I think you’re...great…”
And it was true.
An uncertainty loomed over him for an hour. Kyungsoo couldn’t bother with himself to let go of his obsessive need to check his phone constantly for the slight chance of seeing Baekhyun’s name appear like a god-sent letter from the heavens. It was a pitiful habit, but one that lessened with every minute that passed without the sound of his phone’s alert.
Kyungsoo looked over the bridge, the black, dark water reflecting nothing but the full moon. His face was wet, damp from the silent fall of tears that came and went with the wind. In his hand was an empty cigarette box, crumpled and crushed by his fist. It was useless and empty, a parallel to what he was.
Behind him, Jongin sat on a bench, carefully watching him for any sign of self-harm desire. The night was cold, but Kyungsoo felt too numb to understand what his body felt. He checked his cell phone again and saw that midnight was crawling near.
If Baekhyun was home, he would’ve answered back as soon as the messages were sent, but on a hunch, Kyungsoo already knew that he was fooling himself with false hope. It was clear that Baekhyun had gone home with that basketball star, and however innocent the latter seemed, Kyungsoo felt a rising sense of jealousy, anger, and bitterness at the thought of their love turning into physical heat.
There were people around them, scarce but in numbers. It lessened the pressure of having to be supervised. Kyungsoo turned to his right and stuffed the empty box into a trash can before walking away from the river and sitting down on the opposite end of the cold bench.
“He’s not going to answer you, Kyungsoo.”
Jongin sounded so sure that it scared the president into a small fit of anger. How the hell would he know? Life wasn’t predestined.
For a man who believed in nothing, Kyungsoo found himself holding out.
“He’ll come around.” Glancing down, Kyungsoo stared at his phone’s blank black screen before pressing the home button. His bleak hope did not consist of steel. It withered. But just as his thumb swiped past the home screen, a notification bar came down and his composure wrecked itself.
[ Do Kyungsoo ]
You said I never tried, and you’re right. I didn’t.”
[ Do Kyungsoo ]
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want you…
[ Do Kyungsoo ]
I wanted you so much... I loved you then, and I love you now. I think I always will. It’s sad, isn’t it?
[ Byun Baekhyun ]
[ Byun Baekhyun ]
I’ll always love you, too.
Baekhyun’s hands were shaking as he watched the messages send. The check marks that appeared immediately beside both texts indicated Kyungsoo lacking ability to sleep. His lips felt dry for no reason aside from unjustifiable nervousness.
It was a confession, and one he had no bearing on. He was split. A small, premature side of him that lived during his time with Kyungsoo was joyful at the messages. The voice told Baekhyun of tales, possibilities of what could happen with the rekindling of an old romance. The mistakes they had made during their younger years would be nothing more than insignificant challenges they could overcome together. His child-like and hopeful imagination ran, creating images of happy grandeur that overshadowed reality.
Then, with the shift of the giant’s body against him, reminding the brunet of the man he was committed to, Baekhyun shamed himself for having such thoughts. Kyungsoo was nothing more than his past. The love that they had would never vanish. There would always be a flicker, but it meant nothing more than a speck of dust. No amount of gasoline could ever bring their light back, and this was something Baekhyun knew.
His replies were nothing short of the truth, because despite the quiet storm that had wrecked their relationship, Baekhyun still loved him.
Sighing, Baekhyun closed his eyes for a second, tired of waiting for Kyungsoo to respond. After a while, he opened them again only to feel Chanyeol’s hand remove itself from his stomach to reach over and gently hold the hands that held the cellular device. Surprised, Baekhyun turned his head back and saw his boyfriend looking groggily back at him.
“I thought you said you’d answer tomorrow…” Chanyeol muttered under his breath. Slowly, he pried the cell phone from the brunet’s hands. “What’d you reply back to him?”
Pursing his lips, Baekhyun grabbed his cell phone back despite Chanyeol’s disgruntled sound and turned it off as he did before. “Chanyeol, it’s twelve o’five in the morning. Go back to sleep, okay?”
“I want to know, Baekhyun…” Chanyeol said in a weak, scratchy voice. Despite his persistence, he was tired. “What’d you tell him?”
“Nothing, Chanyeol. It’s okay.” Gently, Baekhyun caressed the latter’s cheek before taking his hand and wrapping it around his waist again. “We can talk tomorrow.”
“I don’t like it when I feel like this...” Making a small noise, Chanyeol took the brunet’s lead and went back to holding him. “I hate feeling like you’re still fifty-fifty...”
Baekhyun stilled. He wanted to turn around and kiss the boy behind him as if to assure the male he was the only one, but he couldn’t move. It was impossible. Too caught up in the giant’s confession, he could do nothing more than to lie and feel completely worthless and ungrateful.
Chanyeol didn’t deserve any of it. The feeling of insecurity, discouragement, and sadness over him were all things Baekhyun never wanted him to ever face, and yet, when they were together, it was all the basketball player felt...
Maybe if he was someone better; maybe if he was someone else; or maybe if he never had relations with--
Pulling himself back to reality, Baekhyun lifted a hand to his eyes and realized he was crying. He bit his lips hard to keep himself from making a sound, but at the sound of Chanyeol’s soft, even breathing, Baekhyun took a sharp intake of breath and decided he wanted to leave for the better of things.