Isolation left Chanyeol to think to himself. As he worked half-mindedly on the task in front of him, half of his brain was thinking about Baekhyun’s multiple attempts at professing everything to him as if he was the ignorantly misinformed one in their relationship. Twirling the pencil in his hand, Chanyeol stared at the piece of paper and completely stopped working when he realized that his relationship with Baekhyun had completely taken over his train of thought.
The last few days had been odd for him. Baekhyun’s act around him had been distant despite the fact that the smaller male tried to pretend like nothing was off. Ironically, the more Baekhyun kissed him and acted hyperactive, the more fake it felt between them. To his advantage, Chanyeol knew exactly what was going on and what exactly was straining their relationship recently.
It began to eat at him that Baekhyun was facing issues with himself. The “slut” ordeal--as Chanyeol figured--was part of a bigger ordeal dealing with Baekhyun’s problem with his identity and what he presented to everyone else.
As he leaned against his chair and stared at the ceiling, Chanyeol finally realized that it was time to stop pushing the issue aside. The sooner he finished the project and sent Kris out the door, the sooner he could put Baekhyun’s anxiety to rest and sleep better at night.
After taking in a deep breath, Chanyeol sucked it up and continued on speeding through the rest of his work, finalizing and double checking everything for Kris’ departure.
Even though the walls weren’t soundproof, it occurred to Chanyeol that he hadn’t heard Baekhyun screaming or laughing through the walls halfway through the afternoon. When he finished the final details, Chanyeol gathered everything and organized the papers and blueprints into folders before stacking them on his desk to present to Kris later that day.
The moment that he stepped out of his room, Chanyeol expected to hear some sort of commotion in the house, but much to his surprise, it was quieter than it had ever been in months since Baekhyun joined the household. Curious, Chanyeol stuck his head into Baekhyun’s room to see if he was silently goofing around in bed with his vibrators again or quietly rereading one of his books. But when Chanyeol looked around, Baekhyun was nowhere to be found.
Walking to the main living space, Chanyeol called out for Baekhyun at first, but when he realized how empty the house felt, he began calling out everybody’s name--even Nugget’s. After getting no response, Chanyeol frowned and walked quickly to the sliding door and opened it. Stepping onto the deck, Chanyeol looked about and felt slightly relieved to see someone sleeping in the hammock--a sheer sign that not everyone had mysteriously disappeared while he was off trying to work.
Stepping down the steps and walking through the pathway, Chanyeol craned his head to see who it was that was sleeping. A small part of him wanted it to be Baekhyun. Nothing would’ve made him slightly happier if he just had some small alone time with the male for a minute or two. But as Chanyeol closed in, he was with a disappointment when he saw that it was Sehun. Sighing, he walked over and jostled the gardener awake.
Chanyeol waited for Sehun to finish being startled before he asked the tired boy questions. “Where’re the others?”
“What?” Sehun groaned groggily as he rubbed his eyes.
“It’s like everybody died,” Chanyeol said as he watched Sehun sit up. “I wanted to know if you knew where they were.”
Sehun took his time gathering reality again before answering. “I left the house when Kyungsoo and Kai were fighting. It was too loud.”
“What about Baekhyun?”
Yawning, Sehun shrugged. “I don’t know. He was nude the last time I saw him, but…” He paused and looked behind him toward the ocean. “Well, he’s not there anymore, but he was there the last time I checked.”
When Chanyeol saw the direction Sehun was looking at, he grimaced. “Did he go skinny dipping again?”
“Yeah,” Sehun said nonchalantly. “He kind of just started peeling off his clothes while he ran. He fell right over there.” Pointing at the area where Baekhyun had fallen, Sehun glanced up at Chanyeol, noting the unhappy look on his face. “Then he started cupping his--well, you know. I think he was trying to soften the pain, which I don’t think helped very much since he looked pretty upset while he jogged over to the water and--”
“Where is he right now?” Chanyeol sharply cut in, depressing the need to scream out to the world about his lover’s level of stupidity.
“I fell asleep…What time is it?”
Chanyeol rubbed the bridge of his nose and tried to recall what the clock said before he walked out of the house. “Around three?”
Sehun quirked his lips. “Then I’ve been out for about two hours…Ah, crap.” Getting up from the hammock, Sehun sighed. “I still need to pull the weeds out in front of the house…” he muttered.
Feeling as though he wasn’t going to get anymore answers from the boy who was sleeping during the duration in which Chanyeol needed answers for, Chanyeol nodded. “It’s fine. You can do it tomorrow. I need to go find everybody else. Even the dog’s not around…”
“He’s probably in my room,” Sehun offered.
“Or with his idiot father.”
Baekhyun found a computer café thirty-five minutes after he left the grocery store. He found himself distracted by a bar that stood out to him. At first he walked passed it, but then he changed his mind and turned on his heels. Without a second thought, he went inside.
Eyes were immediately set on him. Baekhyun knew that he stood out. Many of the customers looked as if they were regulars and analyzed Baekhyun as the twenty-two year old who was the outsider wearing extremely tight pants that shaped his thighs and a cardigan that made him look comfortable--too comfortable for the bar scene.
Walking over at the bar, Baekhyun quirked his lips as the bartender asked him what he wanted. Without thinking much, he just ordered a bottle of generic beer and sat down next to a stranger. As he sipped his way down to the bottom, he was approached by a few people. Some of them were a bit more touchy than others, but Baekhyun found that he didn’t mind so much.
Used to the affection of others, he didn’t flinch out of shock when he felt hands on his waist. It was only when hands began to travel downwards or closer to the gap in between his thighs that Baekhyun smiled and promptly pushed their hand away.
“I’m sorry. I already belong to somebody.”
One person misinterpreted his statement and asked if Baekhyun’s “Dom” was willing to share him for a few hundred dollars. Baekhyun only smiled as he went along with the misinterpretation, telling his admirer that Chanyeol was the only Dom he was willing to spread for.
After giving away disappointment to one person after the other, Baekhyun left the bar slightly woozy, but fittingly loose enough for what he needed to do. When he found the computer café, he took in a gulp of air as he cleared his head enough so that he wouldn’t accidently slur to the person in charge of the business.
Once he finished paying for the amount of time he would be using the computer, Baekhyun found a seat and sat down. After logging on, he waited until the internet browser popped open before clicking the search bar.
The alcohol had numbed him to a certain degree from the anticipation that he felt, but after a second, he put his fingers on the keys and began writing out what he needed to look up.
Knocking on Kyungsoo’s door had never been an awkward thing for Chanyeol to do, but when he heard his cook’s distinctive groan, Chanyeol almost turned around to look for Baekhyun himself. In the end, it was already too late by the time he heard the door’s locks clicking open.
More or less to his surprise, it was Kai who met him at the doorway without his shirt on and his jeans hastily pulled back up. “Oh…”
Chanyeol didn’t address the awkward greeting. “Where’s Baek?”
“He’s with Kris,” Kai answered truthfully.
Creasing his brows, Chanyeol stepped forward. “What?”
“He went with Kris to go do the grocery,” Kai explained. “They left maybe an hour ago. Nugget went along. Baekhyun said he needed to buy the dog his preferred dog brand.”
Chanyeol groaned as he rolled his eyes. Everything sounded like something Baekhyun would do so he took it under no suspicion. Chanyeol muttered his thanks and turned to leave before asking, “What’re you doing in there?”
He expected generic answers concerning sex, but Chanyeol didn’t get generic.
Kai shrugged as he lifted his right hand and glanced at his middle and index fingers. “I’m learning how to finger Kyungsoo.”
Regretting ever asking, Chanyeol slowly nodded before leaving Kai alone to face Kyungsoo’s embarrassed screaming. The farther Chanyeol walked away, the more faint their fighting sounded. By the time he turned the corner, he couldn’t hear Kyungsoo smashing Kai against the door as he screamed, “You prick!”
Baekhyun tried to backtrack how long he had been gone from home. By the time he figured it out, he realized he had been living away from his family for almost seven months.
It was more than just living away from them for seven months. Baekhyun knew it was amongst other things. For seven months, he had been running from his formal responsibilities as well. Scoffing to himself as he read articles after articles, Baekhyun didn't even dare think about the fiancé that he was lawfully bound to by contract.
It bothered him to face the fact that not only was he was beneath Chanyeol’s worth in terms of purity of any sort, he was also a liar. The giant didn’t know that he had a fiancé on the side somewhere, and despite how shameless Baekhyun knew he was, it bothered him to no end.
As he read updates based on his name, he gathered that his entire plan had backfired. According to what he had read, when he ran away the deal was to fall apart, but a few months ago it seemed as if everything was reestablished and the only thing that was missing was him.
Everything was still in place. He was still engaged. Running away hadn’t done anything significant as he thought it would.
No amount of alcohol could numb him enough for the blow that his plan’s failure delivered to his gut. Baekhyun knew he had to take care of it. Inside, he was positive that he had to tell Chanyeol soon.
In that moment, Baekhyun realized he was slightly scared. He didn’t want to lose Chanyeol; he didn’t want him to be angry with him; and he didn’t want to be cast out for being a liar. It was ironic to him how all he ever wanted to be was to be carefree, but right then, his entire being was afraid whether or not he wanted to admit it out loud.
The longer he sat at his computer area, the more Baekhyun realized the downside of all his romance novels. As he contemplated deeper and deeper into the plots of his books, underneath all the comedic acts and romance between chapter one and seven, there was always heartbreak somewhere along the way after the glitz and glamour.
Kris had been stuck with Nugget in the car for twenty minutes with no sign of Baekhyun anywhere. He had tried to call the number Baekhyun gave him before leaving, but time after time all he got was his boss' lover saying, “Ring ring, leave me a message!”
As for Nugget, Kris was forced to listen to the dog howl and bark in the backseat as if he was complaining about the rocket ship ride. Unable to communicate with animals, Kris was unsure whether or not Nugget hated the ride itself or hated how it only lasted a minute and thirty seconds.
After driving around aimlessly for minutes in end, Kris pulled over when his phone began to ring. Looking at the caller I.D, he mentally groaned before picking up. “Yes?”
“Are you two coming home right now?”
Rolling his eyes at Chanyeol's question, Kris gave himself an easy way out. “Yeah, we just finished.”
“Can you hand the phone over to Baek?”
Kris froze. “He fell asleep.”
There was a pause. “I thought he was shopping with you.”
“Yeah, but he got tired,” Kris replied. As Nugget's crying began to get louder, Kris waved his hand to try and quiet the dog. “He slept in the car.”
Through the phone, Kris could hear Chanyeol curse. “He should've stayed at home if he was too tired to help you.”
“Right, shame on him,” Kris hummed. “Well, we'll head back right now--”
“No, wait,” Chanyeol said quickly. “Hand the phone over to him. Wake him up and hand it over--”
Kris' attention was torn from Chanyeol's as his phone began to vibrate and Baekhyun's photo came up. Immediately, Kris dodged Chanyeol's request. “I have an incoming call. I'll see you when we get back.”
Hanging up on Chanyeol, Kris took Baekhyun's call. He expected the male’s normal voice telling him exactly where Baekhyun was, but instead, all he got was Baekhyun crying and sniffing, slurring his “Kris” and “Come get me” as he tried to speak.
After multiple attempts to calm Baekhyun down over the phone, Kris gave up and drove to every bar he could find until he entered one with Baekhyun sitting alone in a corner with a few bottles in front of him.
When he sat down in front of the male, Baekhyun's red eyes looked up at him with a sense of sadness. “I'm sorry...” he squeaked softly. “I’m drinking...and I left you with the list.”
“Well...You obviously have some deep shit on your mind,” Kris scoffed. Taking one of the new bottles on the table, he capped it opened and poured himself a shot. “You wanna tell me what's going on so that I can explain to Chanyeol later why I'm bringing his lover back drunk?”
Baekhyun bit his lips and kept silent for a while. “I'm a liar. That's all.”
Kris looked at him. “Do you wanna elaborate?”
Slowly, Baekhyun shook his head to himself. “I don't deserve him--I mean, I’ve been thinking about it for quite a while. I realized I'm not a good enough person for him--at least not now.”
“Now why do you say that?” Kris asked softly. “You know, Chanyeol would disagr--”
“I want to break up with him.”
There was a small exchange of silence between them. Then Kris hummed as he eyed the bottle in Baekhyun's hand. “I think we've had a little bit too much of that.”
Kris frowned. “No, you better not be. You’re going to be a pain in my ass, Baekhyun. Not only do I have to explain why I let you out of my sight to go drink, but now Chanyeol’s going to have my head the moment you tell him you want to end your relationship.”
Slumping his shoulders, Baekhyun cried. “I don't want to lose him. I just--”
“So you think the best way to not lose him is to break up with him?” Kris asked incredulously.
“Only for a while...”
Kris creased his brows. “What the hell do you mean 'only for a while'? How the hell does that work!?”
Slamming his palm down on the table, Baekhyun groaned. “I have to separate myself from him for a while--I need to take care of a few things. I need to--”
“Baek, Chanyeol's not going to like this,” Kris warned.
“Well, if I don't go, I'll still be engaged to my fiancé and I won't be entirely his,” Baekhyun said in a slightly cracking voice. “I need to break it off. I don't wanna be in this arrangement anymore.”
Letting out a hallow laugh, Baekhyun nodded. “I’m engaged to someone else already. Chanyeol doesn’t know. That’s why I’m thinking about leaving. I need to formally break it off.”
Kris watched as Baekhyun stared at his ring finger. The smaller male's lips trembled as time went by. “Chanyeol will understand,” Kris assured. “You don’t have to break things off with him.”
“No he won't...” Baekhyun said in a quiet voice. “He won't.” He took in a fragmented breath. “I'm already a slut, Kris. I don't wanna be a liar anymore... I need to go deal with this fiancé of mine. Then I can come back and we can start over.”
“What's wrong with this fiancé of yours?” Kris asked cautiously. “Is he ugly?”
Baekhyun shook his head. “I don't know what he looks like. I don't know his name. I never read his file.”
“Then how do you know that this guy isn't worth trying?”
Snapping his eyes at Kris, Baekhyun glowered. “Marriage means I have to share everything with this guy. That means my money, my entitlement to the company, shares, and even part of my inheritance. Other than the fact that I don’t want to be used like a bank, I don’t want to participate in something as systematic as an arranged marriage, Kris.”
Kris blinked, tapping the table with the tip of his fingertips. “You sound like you're from a well-to-do background, Baek.”
“Wouldn't you know that already?” Baekhyun mumbled. Without a thought, he reached over and took the shot glass that Kris never downed and drank it for himself.
Kris froze. “What?”
“You called me 'Byun,’ remember?” Baekhyun said, trying to invoke the memory. “You already know who I am...You thought I was too drunk to remember, but it's hard to forget.”
Kris quirks his lips and looked off. “Fine. I know who you are, but it's not a big deal because I don't care.”
“I know you don't,” Baekhyun muttered.
“However, I still don't think that it's necessary for you to break up,” Kris offered. “I think that's just the alcohol speaking and you shouldn't worry too much about this fiancé of yours.”
“I don't know anything about this guy, but I can tell that all he's after is my money and my family's business,” Baekhyun said with a depressing voice. “He's not gonna let me go that easily. I don't want Chanyeol around when it gets ugly.”
“So, you'd rather break his heart while you go off to battle this issue all by yourself,” Kris clarified.
“Yeah--This was a mistake, too.” Pursing his lips, Baekhyun looked away. “I shouldn't have gotten into this relationship with Chanyeol. I'm already engaged and I knew that from the very beginning. I've been lying to him this entire time. He's going to call me a liar, Kris.”
Kris watched as Baekhyun shook his head at himself and slowly began to break down. “He's going to get angry with me and question whether or not I've been sincere all this time--I have. I do love him, but he might not believe me anymore, and it scares me to lose him because of this, you know.”
Baekhyun sniffled and rubbed his eyes with the sleeve of his cardigan. “He already accepts me and my promiscuity,” he said, “but I don't know about this...”
“You know, he's the first one to make me feel this happy?” Baekhyun dryly laughed. “He's been honest to me and all I've been doing is playing house and pretending like I don't already belong to somebody else. I want to tell him who I am. Clearly, you haven’t told him anything because he doesn’t know yet.” He sighed. “He should know who he’s dating…”
“He puts up with my book obsession. He gave me Nugget. He cares for me even when he's lecturing.” Baekhyun gave Kris a look with his wet eyes. “He’s perfect, Kris.”
Kris waited. “Are you done?”
Baekhyun nodded. When he tried to take another drink, Kris took the bottle from him. “I work for your so-called fiancé.”
It took a while for everything to render in Baekhyun's head. “Then your boss is my fiancé...” he said, trying to clarify to himself as well as retrieve a firm confirmation.
Slowly nodding, Kris confirmed the redundant statement. “Right...So, surprise surprise, Chanyeol--”
“I'm engaged to Chanyeol's boss...” Without any control over his tear ducts, Baekhyun felt rolls of tears stream down his face. “Oh my god, Kris,” Baekhyun cried, “Chanyeol's going to be angry... I need to tell him. I need to leave. I need to fix everything--”
Covering his eyes with his sleeve, Baekhyun bit his lips as he tried to control himself. “I want to be with him, Kris...He's everything I could ever need, but more than what I deserve. I love him...” He sniffed. “But I'm scared to pieces, you know. I don't want to lose him over this--I really don't. I'm scared of losing him.”
Gritting his teeth, Kris found his inner walls break apart as he watched Baekhyun cry drunkenly in a bar, causing a commotion. As the smaller male stole a quick drink from a bottle, Kris gave up. “Stop crying,” he ordered, leaning over and taking all the bottles, pulling it all on his side. “Chanyeol's going to understand!” he repeated.
“No, he won't,” Baekhyun desperately cried. “He's going to--”
“Shut up, no he's not,” Kris retorted.
“How do you know th--”
“Because Chanyeol already knows!” Kris snapped.
In that moment, Baekhyun froze as he stared at Kris. “What?”
“I said,” Kris slowly repeated, “Chanyeol knows.”
Baekhyun couldn't find the words to respond for a minute. His brain tried to analyze every possible way Kris could have meant the sentence, but all analysis led to one thing. “He knows about my fiancé?”
Sighing, Kris took a napkin from the table and folded it. Leaning over towards Baekhyun, Kris held his face and dabbed away at Baekhyun's tears. And as he slowly wiped Baekhyun's face, he gave him a gentle look.
“No, Baek,” he softly said. “It's more like he is your fiancé.”