a/n: sorry for typos
The overwhelming stack of the newly ordered stock boxes piled in the back room of the Musicology store where Baekhyun worked seemed like a monster task to do, but it was nothing the brunet wasn’t accustomed to doing on a weekly basis. Working in the back was something Baekhyun preferred, eager in deferring his presence from the front by willing default. Cracking his knuckles, Baekhyun took a small cutting knife into his possession and began opening the packages.
It had been a week since he spent the night at Chanyeol’s house, and Baekhyun had been trying his best to try and forget the bitter moments. The giant had seen his conversation with Kyungsoo, possibly one of the more embarrassing things to ever happen to him.
Kyungsoo hadn’t spoken to him much, but Baekhyun felt a calming sensation whenever his phone rang and the sound of the president’s voice talking on the other end distracted him from his task. It was awkward, something they had never felt with one another prior to the camping getaway events.
Chanyeol didn’t know about their conversations. Baekhyun made sure to tell him that they were in touch and on speaking terms once again, and, despite how the athlete ultimately failed in trying to seem unworried, Chanyeol only supported the rebuilding of a friendship that once was.
In the past, Kyungsoo had been able to share anything and everything that was on his mind, but Baekhyun found it hard to get the latter to talk about topics deeper than the normal school related things. From his mother, he had heard about Mr. Do’s decision to leave South Korea to pursue a job opportunity in New York, and Baekhyun had the itchy desire to inquire more about the man’s plans to leave. With Kyungsoo’s parents divorced, there was a small possibility that the student body president would decide to take flight with his father as well despite Baekhyun’s wishful and hopeful thinking that the latter would decide to stay with his mother.
The school Kyungsoo had always pushed himself towards was Yonsei, but in their phone conversations, faint and ghostly mentions of New York University made Baekhyun feel slightly unsteady. He wanted to know, but Kyungsoo was unwilling to elaborate and the brunet had no desire to break the thin thread that held their broken relationship together. If Kyungsoo wanted to leave with his father, Baekhyun wished for a little clarity on the situation.
The thought of Kyungsoo leaving was a hard pill to swallow, harder than the acceptance that their relationship would never be as it used to be. It made Baekhyun close his eyes to envision the future he had no certainty of.
Following the path of his father, Kyungsoo had the intention to set out as a lawyer. Baekhyun knew that this decision felt like a death sentence to the male, but one of Kyungsoo’s faults was his inability to stand on his own. He was not content with following a life he did not want, but he had no identity of his own to realize what he truly wanted for himself. By nature, Kyungsoo had subjected himself to slave after a dream that did not belong to him.
And yet, Baekhyun was jealous of him. In the very least, Kyungsoo had a direction. He already knew Chanyeol had a goal to be a teacher in the public education system that he knew his boyfriend despised, but it was a future nonetheless.
Whenever the brunet thought about himself, he saw nothing but bleakness. Too many interests, never one that overpowered the rest. Music was a part of him, but the field was unstable and weak in prospects.The chances of ever making it was slim and Baekhyun couldn’t fathom another alternative.
Frustrated and distracted by thoughts of the impending, unclear future, Baekhyun accidentally sliced the pad of his left thumb. Immediately, he dropped the small knife and drew his attention to the blood slowly finding its way out of the slit.
It was a mistake, but a stupid mistake. His unfocused attention had caused it and Baekhyun cursed himself for the slip.
Pressing the thumb against his mouth, he instinctively licked the blood off before looking at the wound again, witnessing as the blood returned. Exhaling, he decided the best action to take was to put all activities on pause and take care of the issue before continuing on with unpackaging.
Stepping out from the back room, Baekhyun headed towards the employee restroom, but as he was walking, his attention was caught by the old man who he worked for. Seeing that he was being waved down, Baekhyun abandoned his throbbing thumb’s needs and put his hand behind his back once he was at a fair distance from his boss and the gentlemen that looked like he was a few years older than Baekhyun himself.
Putting a smile on his face, Baekhyun stood politely, waiting to be introduced. His eyes wandered the unfamiliar face’s body. The man in front of him was wearing the store uniform so the brunet could only guess he was one of the new individuals hired recently following the opening of a few positions. He might’ve looked intimidating to many, but Baekhyun was fascinated by the man’s tattoos and lean physique.
Realizing how he must’ve seen fixated on the man’s appearance, Baekhyun raised his head up higher and held out his uncut hand the second after his boss introduced him.
“Hello. Nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you, too, Baekhyun.”
The man smirked, unexpectedly making Baekhyun feel the need to draw back. The urge to look away was tempting, but Baekhyun kept still in the face of someone with a smile so riveting.
“Baekhyun, Kim Jihoon will start working here from today onwards,” his boss explained. “He will do more of the activities that take place in the back. Since you spend a great deal of time there, I think it’s best if you train him for now--or at least show him what you do so maybe he’ll be able to know a thing or two. Is that alright with you?”
Regardless of whether or not he had the free will and desire of taking on a man under his wing and guidance, Baekhyun saw that it didn’t matter. It was a job and he was obligated to do so if he wanted a paycheck by the end of the week.
Nodding, he conceded. “Of course.”
“Great. I’ll just leave him here with you, then. He can help with the stock in the back and make things go a little faster.”
After the old man left, Baekhyun’s smiled turned awkward as he nodded in the direction of the back room storage. “The boxes are in the back,” he said in a neutral voice. “I have to go get another knife or at least some scissors for you. I’ll be back in a second.”
“Alright, but, uh, do you want help with that?”
“Help with what?”
Baekhyun’s mouth gaped as he quickly turned his attention to his left hand. He had unconsciously let the hand fall from behind his back and out into the open. He faltered in his response, but managed to formulate words. “I got it. Thanks.”
“If you say so,” Jihoon said. Then, without a second thought or concern, he walked to the backroom.
“You cut your finger?”
“It’s not that serious, Yeol. Just a little cut. It didn’t even bleed that much…”
Glancing up at the late afternoon sky, Chanyeol pursed his lips. “Did you wash it properly?”
“Yeah, I did.” Baekhyun paused. “What’re you doing right now?”
Chanyeol smiled. “Nothing. Just staying at home and figuring out how to solve these problems for Physics.”
“Leave the ones you can’t figure out. I can come by and help you after I get off.”
“Thanks.” Chanyeol looked around, the faces of busy people giving him one second of their lives for a single glance before walking on. “It’s fine, though. I’m okay. Just take care of that cut and go home. I’ll see you at school tomorrow. Don’t skip out on dinner, Baek.”
“You skipped out on it the other day, and I only know that because you called me about it.”
On the other end, he could hear Baekhyun groan. “Remind me to be more careful with what I say around you, because I don’t want you running over here with a lunch bag.”
“Running to you counts as exercise for basketball season.”
“Hn… Well, at least I have some use to you.”
“Hey.” The giant’s voice was hard enough to be a slight warning. “Be positive.”
“It’s very hard to be positive when I’m--Hm? Okay… Alright.” In the distance, Chanyeol noticed a familiar figure. “Chanyeol, I have to go. I’ll call you when I get home.”
“Send a photo of you eating dinner or else I’m running over there.”
“I’ll just text you instead.”
“Fine… Be careful with anything sharp.”
Chanyeol waited until the called was ended by Baekhyun to pull the phone away from his ear. Just as he shoved the phone back into his pocket, the individual he had been waiting for sat in the seat across from him.
They said nothing for the first few seconds until Chanyeol reached for the bottled water in front of him and snapped the cap.
“I’m kind of surprised you came,” the player said, laughing softly under his breath. “I didn’t think you’d spare me the light of day.”
Scoffing, Kyungsoo leaned over the small cafe table and took the bottle. “I wouldn’t spare you the light of day, but you said this had something to do with Baekhyun, so don’t delude yourself. I came for him.”
“I see…” Chanyeol tapped the table with his fingers, watching as Kyungsoo put his lips on the rim of the plastic. “Well, that was mine.”
“You called me on very late notice,” Kyungsoo said, giving him an unapologetic expression. “The least you can do is give me water.”
“I called you two days ago.”
“You don’t think I had to move things around my schedule just to come here and sit outside this sad excuse of a shop to talk to you?”
“And… this is my parents’ shop,” Chanyeol slipped in, pointing a finger at the window. “There they are.”
Pausing, Kyungsoo took a moment for himself. Then, he set the water bottle back down. “Why do you want to talk about Baekhyun, Park?” the president said curtly. “Is the nightmare over? Did you call its quits?”
Chanyeol sighed. “No. Sorry to burst your bubble, but--”
“Then this entire meetup is completely useless.” Kyungsoo glanced at the two older people inside the shop, happily speaking and entertaining a customer and her son. “Why am I not surprised that this is the place where you came from...”
Running a hand through his hair, Chanyeol drew his brows together. He exhaled. “Soo, I understand that you might have some… leftover feelings for Baekhyun,” the giant started, swallowing midway, “and I get that. I’m not trying push you towards moving on right now, but, I don’t know… It’d be nice if you did.”
“Huh…” Kyungsoo leaned back, cocking his head. “Nice and convenient for you, wouldn’t it be…”
“No, not for me,” Chanyeol corrected. “For Baekhyun, and maybe even for you.”
Laughing, Kyungsoo threw his head back, putting a hand over his eyes for the duration until he gathered up his senses and met the basketball star’s gaze. “You’re good, Park. You’re so goddamn good. Who taught you how to act this well?”
“Listen,” Kyungsoo said, rolling his right shoulder. “I have no intention of chasing after him. Never did. I guess you can say that I have a tendency to wait for things to go my way.”
Chanyeol was heated as he bitterly chuckled. “Then I hope you don’t mind waiting forever,” he said before he could filter his words.
Surprised, yet amused, Kyungsoo smiled with hollow eyes. “Believe me, I’ll be long gone before your so-called ‘forever’--before anyone notices because by the time someone asks where I am, you’ll all know that no one gives a damn.” Briskly, he reached in his back pocket and pulled out a worn out box. As he was taking out a cigarette stick, Kyungsoo maintained eye contact. “When he realizes everything about you is fake, I’ll be there. He might not love me, Chanyeol, but that won’t matter then.”
“What’re you talking about?”
“You should know.” Lighting up the end, Kyungsoo inhaled, blowing the smoke off to the side. “He was the last bit of old love I had left before things fell apart. He’ll always be my heart even if his beats for you… If I can’t have him, don’t you think it’s the proper thing to do to protect him?”
Chanyeol’s throat tightened. “There’s nothing to protect him from, Soo.”
“There’s you,” Kyungsoo snapped. He pointed his cigarette end in the giant’s direction. “You can’t pretend to be his prince charming forever, Chanyeol. Who do you think you’re doing justice for? Yourself?”
“Kyungsoo, I don’t--”
With jaws tense, Kyungsoo narrowed his eyes. “Do you even love him? Or are you just having fun?”
Feeling like his heart was one second away from bursting out of his chest, Chanyeol curled his hands into fists set atop the table. “This isn’t what I wanted to talk about,” he said strongly, wanting to be heard without being cut off. “I want to talk about--”
“Baekhyun, and yes, we are talking about Baekhyun,” the latter said, bending the stick in his fingers. “He… is a goddamn fool for falling in love with you… I’ll never understand it. He’s too blinded by you... God, he says he loves you.”
Chanyeol withdrew his eyes.
“Ask me what death feels like, and I can tell you, Chanyeol. I can tell you what it’s like to feel like life is completely bleak and meaningless.” Kyungsoo went silent, eyes averting to inspect the burning stick in his hand. “He doesn’t love me anymore. That’s a given. I think he might’ve still loved me before you decided to come into the picture, but not anymore. Not now.”
“What’re you trying to say, then? Does this mean that you won’t try and--”
“Steal him? No...I’m not low enough to touch what isn’t mine.” Kyungsoo inhaled. “I like things to be simple… I hate complexity. Too many things tangled up in one another. It’s goddamn awful especially when you’re spinning a web of lies. Don’t you agree?”
Keeping silent, Chanyeol responded with nothing.
“I don’t know if you really love him, Park. You say you do, and sometimes… I don’t know. Sometimes I see that in your eyes, but you started a relationship with a lie and an intention. Between the two of us sitting here, who do you think is using Baekhyun more?” Capturing Chanyeol’s gaze, Kyungsoo locked him in contact. Then, he brought the cigarette back to his lips. “Being student body president has its perks. I have ears all over the school and eager lips that just love to talk. From what I know… and from what I heard from your own classmates… it’s you. Congratulations. I suppose you’re also the one who needs him the most. Enjoy your happiness now, Park, because I’ll be the first one to tell you that nothing ever lasts.”