Side Pairing(s): Kris/Baekhyun
Genre: Angst, Tragedy
Word Counts: 23,781w
Warning(s):[click to open]character death, language, portrait!chanyeol
Summary: Chanyeol only had 24 hours when he was given a chance. Baekhyun wanted forever when everything was too late.
When you lose someone,
you tried to remember the last time you saw them.
And most of the time it’s a blurry memory because at that time,
you had no idea it would be the last.
It was indeed funny and weird how Baekhyun easily grew comfort around Chanyeol, given the circumstances that they only knew each other that morning. He didn’t feel awkward talking to Chanyeol after observing the way that tall male would respond every time he was asked a question, although most of the times Baekhyun was the only one initiating and continuing to talk. Chanyeol would always answer him with short answers along with a sheepish grin, and at times, the man would be caught stealing glances at him; Baekhyun had to pretend he didn’t notice anything.
The portrait they got for free earlier was held by Chanyeol. He kept it safe against his chest, holding it so tight until his hands went red. Baekhyun wanted to hold it too, but he was shooed away the moment he landed his hand on the frame. It didn’t take Baekhyun long to realize that every time he asked to hold it, Chanyeol would give a long stare in exchange, his eyebrows furrowed a bit. In the end, Baekhyun didn’t say anything about the portrait.
“What do we have on the next list?” Baekhyun asked when both of them were waiting for the traffic light to turn green.
Chanyeol was fumbling through the pocket, and the crumpled paper was in sight. He was busy juggling between holding a portrait in his left hand as the other hand was busy unfolding the paper. Baekhyun threw him a look, but Chanyeol kept a fair distance between them so that Baekhyun won’t be able to get a hold of the portrait.
Chanyeol scrutinized the list, forgetting that he should let the shorter male to read it. After a few while, he awkwardly gave the paper to Baekhyun, who was grinning when he saw the taller man’s abashed expression.
“Write your name in the sand?” Baekhyun read the list. He fell silent, and an exasperated sigh escaped his lips. “Now where do we find a beach in the middle of this city?” He questioned himself, not even realizing that Chanyeol was getting confused with what the petite male had said.
Baekhyun’s eyes went wide. “Don’t tell me you don’t know what a beach is.”
The smaller male didn’t expect that he would see Chanyeol shake his head in response.
“Beach is… uhm...” Baekhyun bit his finger, unsure of what to say. “You know what a sea is?”
There was an awkward silence enveloped. Chanyeol shook his head once more.
Baekhyun sighed unknowingly. Chanyeol looked disturb, but Baekhyun assured the male that it was fine. “Uhm, sea is like… a large area of water surrounded by land. Do I need to give you an example too?”
He received a nod in response. Baekhyun laughed in disbelief.
“Can’t you get any cuter than this?” He said, failing to realize that he just complimented the taller male. And of course Chanyeol knew what Baekhyun meant by that. He wasn’t too dumb, but after hearing it, he smiled widely.
“Baekhyun… cute too…” Chanyeol said.
Baekhyun was gnawing on his lower lip. Deep inside his heart, he was beyond delighted. Even though he’d heard a lot from his friends, saying that he was such a cute boy with a puppy face, he didn’t know why he would blush when it came from Chanyeol himself.
“T-Thank you.” Baekhyun thanked him and focused on the list again. “Star gazing?”
Chanyeol moved closer, eyes glancing up and down to search for the sentence. He kept furrowing his brows and biting his lips, but confusion was filling up his mind. It was like trying to solve a puzzle, he was too dumb to realize that one piece had lost from the box, making it hard to complete the puzzle itself. Chanyeol didn’t understand anything. He would never understand anything written on the list.
Noting that Chanyeol knew nothing about stargazing, a smile appeared on Baekhyun’s face. “It’s okay. We can go stargazing tonight. Are you free for tonight though?”
Chanyeol nodded his head frantically, excited of what was coming.
The next moment, Baekhyun quickly picked up his phone when it suddenly buzzed, and his mom’s name appeared on the screen.
“Yes, Mom?” Baekhyun’s tone was almost emotionless. Chanyeol kept quiet beside him.
“Hm, alright,” Baekhyun said before he kept his phone inside his pocket again. He turned to look at Chanyeol. “It’s my mom.”
Chanyeol didn’t say anything.
They were about to cross the road when Baekhyun suddenly exclaimed, stopping both of them from walking any further. “Wait! I forgot to do something!”
Chanyeol eyed him questioningly. Baekhyun blinked his eyes several times, flashing an innocent expression in front of Chanyeol. The shorter male looked at his watch, counting something in his head before he held Chanyeol’s hand, holding it gently.
“We still got time,” Baekhyun said. “Let’s go to that shop,” Baekhyun said as his finger pointed at a boutique shop in front of them. Chanyeol followed him from behind without saying anything.
“Why?” Chanyeol asked, yearning for an explanation from the petite male.
“I need to buy a present for a friend of mine,” Baekhyun said. “He returned to Korea today. I need to buy him something.”
“Yes. A friend.”
Something was weird judging from the tone of Baekhyun’s voice, but Chanyeol let it slide.
It almost reached ten when Baekhyun and Chanyeol arrived at Sehun’s house. Baekhyun paid for the taxi fare and asked Chanyeol to step out of the taxi first. Chanyeol did as what he was told without asking anything. He closed the door and turned, only to find a big house standing proudly in front of him. It was quite big for the latter’s liking, so he found it rather uncomfortable to be in such a place. Even so, Baekhyun’s gaze at him made him feel calmer and safer.
They both went inside the area of the house since the gate was unlocked. The sound of crickets filled in the quietness around them but it soon faded away when they arrived closer at the garden behind the house, the sound of people chattering and laughing took over. Chanyeol darted his eyes around, noticing there were noises coming from the backyard. When they arrived closer, Chanyeol realized there were many people around Baekhyun’s age, so he assumed they were Baekhyun’s friends.
“They’re my friends. I hope you don’t really mind though,” Baekhyun said after a few seconds being in silence, as if he could read Chanyeol’s mind. Chanyeol gave him a stiff look, but was ignored by Baekhyun seconds later when there was a tall, blond-haired man wearing a black sweater walking towards them.
Chanyeol’s eyebrows furrowed, because he didn’t know who that man was. When he turned to look at Baekhyun, the male was blushing and smiling sheepishly. Chanyeol’s eyes darted to look back at the tall man, only to realize that the person had abruptly hugged Baekhyun with no hesitation.
Baekhyun hugged him back too.
A small voice whispered into Chanyeol’s ear, telling him to push that man away from Baekhyun. He would do it actually, even if no one told him to do so. Unfortunately, he knew he had no rights to do that.
“I missed you, baby,” the man cooed as he kissed Baekhyun on the lips.
“Stop it, Yifan,” Baekhyun pouted. “Here, a present for you. Welcome home.” He handed a box wrapped in striped wrapping paper. The man accepted it gladly and smiled endearingly.
Baekhyun was still blushing, because it had been quite some time since someone kissed him in public. He actually had no problem with that. Being Yifan’s boyfriend taught him that he had to be confident in everything he did. So, that was why he didn’t let Sehun tell anything about the competition to Yifan. Baekhyun didn’t want to be laughed at, because the male never liked it when he lost his confidence, especially in when it came to singing.
On the other side, Chanyeol saw it all. He saw them kissing, laughing and giggling but he didn’t bother to step away because heck, he was so stupid to understand the definition of jealousy. He tried to focus his eyes on the loud crowds, but all he heard was Baekhyun’s hushed voice.
When Chanyeol turned to look at them again, he noticed the unknown man brought Baekhyun’s body closer to deepen the kiss, but the shorter man was fast enough to push the man’s body away a bit. “Enough Yifan. There’s another person here,” Baekhyun said sheepishly, and he was already blushing.
Pulling away, the man named Yifan stared into Baekhyun’s eyes, grinning like a kid. “I’ll teach you how to get used to this later,” he said before diverting his stare into Chanyeol’s big, surprising eyes. “Oh, who do we have here? Your cousin?” the man said, scanning Chanyeol’s face. “Wait, he doesn’t look like you at all,” he added, a smile curved up his lips.
Baekhyun chuckled a little, earning a questioning look from the blond-haired man. He stood beside the taller, and gave him a light slap on the chest. “He’s not my cousin, you stupid. He’s my friend, Chanyeol. And Chanyeol—” Baekhyun introduced, his eyes fixed on Chanyeol’s face before continued, “—this is Yifan.”
Chanyeol realized how Baekhyun’s cheek flush with pink when Yifan’ name was mentioned. He blinked his eyes awkwardly, trying to fight the sudden urge to cry and scream because he should be the one standing and hugging Baekhyun, not that Yifan guy.
Sadly, Chanyeol couldn’t retaliate nor say anything because he was in no position to do so.
Bowing his body a bit, Yifan proffered a handshake to Chanyeol, only to receive a slight grunt from the latter. Chanyeol stole another glance at Baekhyun, who was smiling innocently at him. Annoyed, Chanyeol slid past them, leaving the two in confusion as their eyes followed him.
“Did I do anything wrong?”
Baekhyun shrugged and shook his head, telling Yifan he didn’t know the answer to it. His eyes trained to Chanyeol who was now walking towards the crowds.
“I-I have to go to him first,” Baekhyun said, but Yifan was fast to give his boyfriend a quick peck on the lips. Baekhyun groaned, but Yifan just laughed and walked away, leaving him alone with Chanyeol.
“Chanyeol?” The shorter male called out.
There was no reply, but Chanyeol stopped walking, as if he was waiting for Baekhyun to continue talking.
Baekhyun heaved a sigh. “Chanyeol, what’s wrong?” Baekhyun asked worriedly. He didn’t like the sudden change in Chanyeol’s face. He wanted to make him happy truthfully, for Chanyeol had made his day brighter, even though they just met.
Baekhyun finally noticed the intent gaze Chanyeol gave him. He brought his head down, feeling a bit guilty.
“Y-Yifan,” Chanyeol said with difficulty.
“What’s wrong with him? Did he do something wrong?” Baekhyun asked. “If you’re not comfortable with what you saw just now, I do apologize on his behalf. I know it was an awkward sight to you, actually,” Baekhyun apologized quickly.
Chanyeol shook his head frantically. His hand was fluttering and rubbing his neck, a bit confused of his feeling at that moment. Was it anger? Was it disappointment? Was it jealousy? Chanyeol didn’t have the answers to any of them.
“I don’t… like him.”
There, he finally said it.
Chanyeol didn’t like how Baekhyun was all happy and bubbly when Yifan hugged him, but acted differently when they hugged earlier before in the morning. Maybe because Chanyeol was a stranger to Baekhyun and Yifan was not. Chanyeol suddenly realized that he once again had no choice but to accept the fact he couldn’t control Baekhyun’s life the way he wanted it to be. Baekhyun was already a grown up boy. Not the same kid who would drool carelessly while playing with his toys alone, not the same kid who would cry when no one was there by his side every time he woke up from his sleep.
Baekhyun looked at Chanyeol and finally held his big hands. The smaller male looked a bit guilty to tell the truth, but Chanyeol needed to know.
“Yifan… he is actually my boyfriend.”
Chanyeol frowned. He knew. Of course he knew about that. He clearly noticed the obvious change on Baekhyun’s face when Yifan kissed him, and the thing that concerned him the most was Baekhyun actually kissed the man back.
Again, Chanyeol knew he had no rights to do anything. It disappointingly hurt, but nothing could be done anyway.
Chanyeol waved Baekhyun off as he walked towards the open gate, deciding to leave the house. He shouldn’t actually be here. He didn’t want to be here.
“Chanyeol, wait!” Baekhyun called out for his name and pulled his hand instantly, preventing the said man from taking any few steps further. “Are you okay?” Baekhyun asked.
I am not okay.
Chanyeol didn’t respond and Baekhyun automatically heaved a sigh.
“I-I’ll show you around. You said you are Sehun’s friend, right? He’s right here too,” he told Chanyeol, even though he was worried Chanyeol might be uncomfortable being surrounded by his friends. His face lighted up in happiness when he saw Chanyeol nod his head.
Chanyeol had no other options. He followed Baekhyun from behind, who was pulling his hand to a crowd of people in the garden. Of all people there, some were laughing and talking to one another, some were busy eating the food on their plates, and some were sitting in their chairs, glancing around.
“Sehun, I brought someone with me!” Baekhyun chirped once he pulled Chanyeol closer to a man wearing a snapback. The said man, who was laughing with his friends, turned his head briefly at both of them. He looked undisturbed at all. He was holding a glass of tequila, and instantly tossed it to his friend.
Sehun smiled and opened up his arms wide to hug Baekhyun.
Again, Chanyeol was taken aback with Sehun’s action. He didn’t like how Baekhyun easily agreed to be hugged by random people.
With a stoic expression written all over his face, Sehun turned to look at Chanyeol. Chanyeol realized the man in front of him had a handsome face and a fair skin too, and he had to admit that Sehun was better than that Yifan guy.
“You guys knew each other already, right?” Baekhyun asked, standing in between them.
Sehun looked at Baekhyun, and his eyes shifted to look at Chanyeol, who seemed a bit uncomfortable with the current situation.
Grinning, Sehun said, “Of course, we’re best friends actually.” He sent a sharp gaze to Chanyeol, who didn’t notice it.
Widening his eyes, Baekhyun faced Chanyeol. “Really? You didn’t tell me before, Chanyeol.”
Like always, Chanyeol would stay away from talking. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to talk, but it hurt every time he tried to say something; both literally and figuratively. Choosing to stay silent was the best option he had.
“Baekhyun!” Someone called for Baekhyun’s name, earning the said man to turn his head away to look at the crowd. A friend of his, Chanyeol believed, was waving his hand at them, asking Baekhyun to come over.
“Uh, you guys talk, okay? I need to see Junmyeon first,” Baekhyun beamed as he patted Sehun’s shoulder. Sehun nodded and smiled, but as soon as Baekhyun walked away from them, his smile dimming.
“Come, follow me,” Sehun said monotonously and walked to a darker side of the garden, where the lamppost wasn’t switched on purposely. Chanyeol innocently followed him from behind, wondering where were they were heading to and having no idea what Sehun was up to.
As they arrived at a certain area near the gate, Chanyeol was pushed against the wall unexpectedly. Sehun trapped the tall man in between his arms, and had his eyes scanned all over Chanyeol’s face, trying to remember the dazed face before him. When he looked right into Chanyeol’s trembling eyes, Sehun was definitely sure he never knew that man.
“Who are you?”
Chanyeol looked at the man, aghast. He stayed silent when he sensed the unfriendliness in the tone, and something told him he needed to stay away from Sehun.
“Who are you?” Anger flamed in Sehun. He started to feel annoyed when he saw the innocent expression on Chanyeol’s face. When Chanyeol didn’t give any response in return, Sehun almost lost his control.
“We obviously don’t know each other. I never saw you in my college or anything. So why did you tell Baekhyun that I’m your friend?”
Chanyeol gulped down. Now, he knew the reason behind Sehun’s anger. His eyes sneaked to look for a way to escape from Sehun, but he was trapped in between Sehun’s hands that were put against the wall. He obviously couldn’t run anywhere, unless he pushed Sehun away. That was the only option left.
He moved his feet, trying not to be noticed by Sehun, but the latter was faster than him. His eyes darted to look at Chanyeol’s feet, and he brought his head up angrily. He even flared up at the slightest movement Chanyeol made. He couldn’t believe the taller man before him showed no sign of fear, though it was what he had been expecting from Chanyeol; to be scared of him.
Chanyeol struggled to say something, but it was hard when suddenly Sehun choked him on his collar harshly. He had the strength to fight back, but he chose not to do it as he didn’t know what wrong he had done to Sehun.
“What do you want from Baekhyun?” Sehun spoke through gritted teeth.
Chanyeol shook his head vigorously.
“It’s obvious you want something from Baekhyun,” Sehun guessed. Leaning in closer, he whispered, “Listen, Baekhyun is Yifan’s, and you have no chance to take him away from Yifan, you understand that?”
Chanyeol had no choice but to nod. Satisfied with the response, Sehun nodded while releasing Chanyeol’s collar from his tight grip.
“I don’t know what you are up to, but you better stay away from him before anything gets any worse,” Sehun gave a smirk, knowing he had frightened the unknown man.
Chanyeol already knew things had already gotten worse when he decided to step into the human world. He had no much time left to be with Baekhyun. He knew things weren’t not really in his favor when Baekhyun already got friends he could rely on. And for the first time ever, Chanyeol regretted turning into a human. Sehun didn’t need to ask him to stay away from Baekhyun anyway. He would stay away anyway when the time came. He didn’t need to be reminded twice.
It was almost an hour later when Baekhyun noticed Chanyeol wasn’t there with him. Baekhyun set his glass aside and wandered around the area. He saw a group of people talking to one another cheerfully, but Baekhyun doubted it, whether Chanyeol would be in that group too.
Padding closer, he saw Sehun laughing with one of their friends in the group. Sehun, upon noticing Baekhyun’s presence, stopped laughing.
“What is it, Baek?” Sehun asked. His grip on the glass tightened as he saw the worriedness in Baekhyun’s expression.
Baekhyun shook his head. “Chanyeol… have you seen him anywhere?”
Sehun tried to cover his expression when he heard the question. He didn’t know where Chanyeol was too. He guessed if the latter wasn’t there, maybe he had gone because of him.
“I-I don’t know,” Sehun stuttered, but Baekhyun didn’t realize it. He was terribly worried, because Chanyeol knew no one except him and Sehun. He might get lost. Baekhyun looked to the left and right, but Chanyeol was nowhere to be seen.
“Wasn’t he with you earlier, Sehun? Chanyeol… that tall lad—ouch!” Luhan, the red-haired man screamed when Sehun kicked him in the shin. Sehun eyed Luhan dangerously, secretly telling the latter to shut his mouth up. Baekhyun, who was surprised upon hearing Luhan’s scream, stared at both of the young men alternately, but Sehun just showed him his signature smile.
“Where is he, Sehun?” Baekhyun repeated the question.
Sehun widened his eyes. He nibbled on his lips, feared of getting caught by his friend. However, he still put his act on by saying, “I think he left.”
It didn’t take Baekhyun long to respond to his remark. “He left?” His lips parted in surprise, partly disappointed.
Sehun nodded. “He said something about grocery and stuff, maybe he had gone back to his house.”
He suddenly felt regret for lying to his dear friend, but he had no choice.
“Did he tell you that?”
Sehun pursed his lips. “Maybe. Why don’t you call him?” Sehun forced himself to say the words, although he didn’t intend to do it at all. He was still irritated with Chanyeol, and he wondered what the strange man wanted from Baekhyun. Sehun wanted to tell the truth to his friend, that he wasn’t Chanyeol’s friend, nor that he knew him before. But, it was as if something got a hold of his tongue and prevented him from telling the truth to Baekhyun.
Baekhyun sighed in desperation. “He doesn’t own any cellphones as far as I knew,” he said. “I need to go find him.”
“Wait, Baekhyun!” Sehun stopped the shorter male, eyes faltering as Baekhyun returned the stare. “Yifan has been waiting for you since he arrived here. You should spend some time with him more.”
Baekhyun halted. “Well… I’ll go tell him first,” Baekhyun said.
The night was unusually quiet, and there were stars scattering all over the sky. It was the night where the rain was about to pour down and moon was hiding somewhere, not even behind the clouds. The park was empty with not even a single soul was seen walking around the area, but Chanyeol had chosen to sit there, gazing at the night sky, counting his time to arrive.
He wondered how long had it been since he turned into a human, but he was sure that it was almost the time he’d leave soon. A sudden pain tugged at his heart, because he wasn’t sure if he was ready for this; to leave the world and Baekhyun.
He knew he made a stupid and rash decision, but he still remembered what Mr. Byun had told him. He knew the man knew he understood everything. That brought the reason of why he always talked to Chanyeol when nights approached. Sadly, if Mr. Byun was still alive, he surely wouldn’t be doing this, risking his life just to make someone—Baekhyun—to be happy again.
“Have I told you that I didn’t dream of you, only?”
“There… there’s another person I always dream of, but I’m afraid of him.”
Mr. Byun, are you okay? Why are you afraid of him?
The painter took a few deep breaths. His eyes fluttered closed and he seemed so helpless. Chanyeol had to watch him curiously, wondering what did exactly happen to the man. “He… he threatened to kill me if I didn’t draw his face. I-I didn’t understand what he meant by that,” the man sobbed. His face was wet with tears, nose filled up with mucus as he tried to talk, forming every sentence one by one so that it could be heard clearly; even though he was talking to no one but a portrait who couldn’t talk.
Chanyeol didn’t reply this time around. He waited for the man to continue speaking and tell him everything he wanted to, if that soothed him. However, all Chanyeol could see was a hint of frightened feeling glooming over the man who was kneeling on the floor, heads kept down. Nervous beads appeared on Mr. Byun’s forehead, and Chanyeol hoped he would kill whoever threatened the man. He could only watch from inside the portrait, silently praying that God would save Mr. Byun from any danger that might get in his way.
He knew his prayer was left unanswered when he heard Mrs. Byun’s hysterical screams and Baekhyun’s cries the next morning.
“Chanyeol! What are you doing here?” A voice called out, disrupting his thoughts.
Chanyeol flinched. He was surprised to see Baekhyun right before him, huffing and panting. The man was fanning himself with his own shirt, cooling off his body. Chanyeol, who was lying on the grass quickly stood up, cleaning the dirt off his pants and his coat before smiling.
I was waiting for you to come.
“Why didn’t you go home?” Baekhyun asked. It was weird seeing Chanyeol lying on the grass, eyes looking up the sky for a good few minutes. Baekhyun had been hiding behind a car, studying Chanyeol’s face as the latter made expressions with his face.
Chanyeol left a long silence.
Baekhyun heaved a sigh. He was expecting for something that wouldn’t happen. Silly. Of course Chanyeol wouldn’t answer his question. He couldn’t even talk properly. Or perhaps he could, but Baekhyun hadn’t heard a complete sentence coming out of the tall man’s mouth. Maybe Chanyeol wasn’t used talking to someone comfortably.
Chanyeol shivered, tightening the jacket that was covering his body, and Baekhyun was aware of that. The portrait they got earlier was laid carefully beside the tall man on the grass. That was when something hit Baekhyun; Chanyeol was looking at the stars.
“Were you stargazing just now?”
“You forgot, and I c-came here… a-alone.”
Baekhyun’s heart almost broke at the words.
“I’m truly sorry. Yifan came and I couldn’t leave the party because—” Baekhyun sighed. He seemed speechless. “But then I noticed that you weren’t there and I was really worried about you. I thought you’ve already left for your house. We have yet spent our time together to the fullest. Though it’s supposed to be weird, because it’s our first time meeting each other. But you’re just… different.”
Chanyeol kept his eyes on Baekhyun’s face, heart swelling when he processed each one of the words said.
“It’s okay,” was all Chanyeol could say. He wanted to talk more, but he seemed so tired. As if it would leave him drained if he talked.
“It’s freezing out here, do you even realize that?” Baekhyun sighed again. “You must be cold. Come here.” He took off his sweater and slung it over Chanyeol’s shoulders.
Warmness covered Chanyeol’s body, and Baekhyun was glad when he didn’t shiver anymore.
“It’s okay. I’m a tough weed,” Baekhyun grinned.
Without realizing, Baekhyun slipped his hands into Chanyeol’s rough hands, causing the latter to gasp. It felt warm when their fingers brushed together. Somehow, in the deepest part of his heart, Chanyeol prayed that the time would stop. He hoped that God would listen to his prayers just like what He did when Baekhyun wasn’t born yet.
“Let’s go inside. We can see the stars clearly.”
Although Chanyeol was confused, he just followed Baekhyun’s lead. He picked up the portrait and rested it against his chest. He could hear his heart beating vigorously as he counted the steps they both took. His right hand was rested in Baekhyun’s warm ones, and they both headed inside Baekhyun’s house. “Mom isn’t here at the moment since she sleeps at her friend’s house today. Didn’t I tell you she joined a community event in Anyang today?” Baekhyun asked. Chanyeol put aside Baekhyun’s sweater on the couch and the smaller male gestured for Chanyeol to sit. Turning on the heater in the living room, he looked at Chanyeol. Chanyeol shook his head as an answer.
“Didn’t I tell you that?” Baekhyun asked. Chanyeol shook his head. Baekhyun coughed and added, “Well, I must have forgotten about it. Um, I’ll fix you warm tea first.”
Right after then, Baekhyun walked away and left Chanyeol alone in the living room.
Chanyeol took a brief look over the pictures on the wall. He noticed there were no paintings left in the living room, which Chanyeol guessed maybe Mrs. Byun had really kept everything inside the attic. He stood up from the couch, walking over to a small desk by the couch. There was a small frame on the desk and he grabbed it; inside it was a photograph of a couple, which he recognized to be the Byun couple.
“They’re my parents. Have I told you that my father was once a famous painter?”
Chanyeol turned and faced Baekhyun. The latter was holding a cup in his hand, slightly creasing his eyebrows because it was hot. When Chanyeol managed to cool down the tea, it was when he noticed a tear escaping from Baekhyun’s eyes as he brought up his face.
You don’t have to tell me about him if you don’t want to, Baekhyun.
“Oh, maybe I haven’t told you about him.”
Even though Chanyeol knew everything right from the start, he kept shaking his head, indicating he hadn’t heard of it yet.
Baekhyun hummed. “He was a great dad, a talented painter and an understanding man, I must say. As far as I know, Mom never told me any bad thing about him. He… uhm, well… he was gone when I was five. So I barely remembered how he actually looked like because… I was still small back then. It was too early to know the definition of death and depression though,” he said it like he had practiced the lines for thousandth times already. There wasn’t any change of expression on his face as he reminisced the tragic memory, so Chanyeol didn’t know what to assume. He sat there quietly beside Baekhyun, holding the hot cup like it was nothing to him, because Baekhyun’s feelings mattered to him the most now.
I remembered it well, Baekhyun.
“Drink your tea quickly. It might get cold,” Baekhyun sent a smile to Chanyeol as he set down the cup on the desk, trying his best to hide his tears. Chanyeol wanted to say something, but before he had a chance to do so, Baekhyun had already taken a few steps away from him. The feeling Chanyeol had at that moment was similar to the one he had when Mrs. Byun left him in the attic years ago. Cold and alone. He didn’t want that to happen again.
“Come, let’s go stargazing,” Baekhyun’s voice was full of hopes and eternity. It was something Chanyeol would like to cherish forever.
The tall man was dragged to a small flight of stairs which led them to the attic in the house, a place Chanyeol was too familiar with. He’d been there before, and the thought that he would go back sitting there all alone once again scared him.
When they both entered the attic, floors creaking beneath their feet, and Baekhyun switched on the lamp. The light was dim, and since it was night, they could barely see anything inside the attic. Dusty air entered Baekhyun’s nostrils, and he coughed lightly as he accidentally inhaled the air. Chanyeol was bending down his body slightly, since the wooden ceiling was too low for him.
Baekhyun walked to the corner of the attic and put the boxes that were in his way aside. Chanyeol got closer to the smaller male, noticing there was a ladder leading them to the rooftop. They both said nothing as Baekhyun climbed up the ladder and lifted the latch, and the sky was clear in sight.
Chanyeol smiled upon seeing that. Soon, he followed from behind and climbed too. He saw Baekhyun already taking his spot comfortably, and Chanyeol guessed he always went up there to see the stars. Years ago, he always noticed Baekhyun silently climbing up the ladder, making as minimal noise as possible almost every night. He had always yearned to feel how it was to sit on the rooftop, and he was grateful that he finally got to do it with Baekhyun.
“Be careful,” Baekhyun’s soft voice echoed.
Chanyeol stepped carefully on the slightly slanted roof, eyes watching Baekhyun’s reaction as he walked closer. He finally sat beside Baekhyun, and without any notice, the petite male held his hand, probably wanting him to feel safer.
“The stars are much clearer up here,” Baekhyun muttered. He slowly released Chanyeol’s hand, and the warmness was suddenly gone. Chanyeol sighed unknowingly. He looked up at the sky too, blinking his eyes countless time. It took him about ten minutes for his eyes to get adjusted to the darkness, and then he finally found a star. No, two stars. No, there were thousands of stars up there, adorning the night sky.
“Stars remind me of my dad,” Baekhyun silently whispered and breathed in. His voice almost croaked, but he eventually cleared his throat. “Do you notice the brightest star over there? It’s called Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.” Baekhyun pointed his hand to a star that shone the brightest.
Chanyeol shifted his eyes, recognizing the brightest star on the west. It was twinkling, almost too bright that he didn’t even realize the other stars were also sparkling.
Breathing in the scent of night breeze, Chanyeol almost forgot that his clock was ticking away slowly and eternal life was actually waiting for him in just a few hours. He didn’t realize that he didn’t have much time left as he abruptly hugged Baekhyun, assuring the male that he would always be there for him even when his loved one had left him ever since he was small. It was too sudden, but Baekhyun didn’t budge. They both didn’t notice that Chanyeol’s words were full of beautiful lies.
When Chanyeol finally released Baekhyun from his embrace, the latter didn’t say any words. He was too preoccupied with Chanyeol who got closer and closer to his face as time passed and the next thing he knew, Chanyeol’s trembling lips were on his. They stilled, not even dare to move an inch of their bodies until Chanyeol finally deepened the kiss, pulling Baekhyun in his embrace. Baekhyun’s mind screamed, telling him to stop, but his heart said the otherwise. He wished his body would listen to his brain instead. His heart didn’t know anything. It always made reckless choices and kissing Chanyeol was definitely one of them.
He pushed Chanyeol’s body away, mind finally registering what was exactly happening. Chanyeol was startled, but he managed to maintain his expression, hiding his feelings very well.
“No. I’m… let’s just pretend it never happened okay?” Baekhyun said, gnawing on his lips. He could still feel Chanyeol’s touch on his lips and his hot breaths against his face. What was he even thinking? What if Yifan knew about this?
The thoughts were shoved away when Chanyeol grabbed Baekhyun’s hand and led to the ladder. He finally decided that everything should be revealed now. Baekhyun should know who he was and why he was there. He needed to remember that he didn’t have much time left. Even though it hurt him so much, he didn’t have a choice. He was the one who chose this path.
“Where are we going?” Baekhyun asked, but he still followed Chanyeol.
Chanyeol gave no reply. When both of them finally stood in the attic once again, the tall man released Baekhyun’s hand and he suddenly rummaged through the boxes behind the black curtains. Baekhyun eyed him curiously, wondering what he was doing. He walked forward to know what Chanyeol was up to, but as Chanyeol turned around, he stopped the male from walking any further. So Baekhyun stood there silently, arms crossing against his chest as he waited for Chanyeol.
Portrait. My portrait. I need to show Baekhyun my portrait.
The words echoed in Chanyeol’s mind. But he let them buried inside his thoughts, hands busily finding the portrait. He was sure his portrait was there in the attic.
The silence broke when Baekhyun’s phone suddenly rang. Chanyeol almost gasped, and he turned to look at Baekhyun.
“Are you still there? Do you need me to come to Luhan’s house?”
“Right now?” Baekhyun said, and he finally realized that Chanyeol was giving him a long, pleading stare. When Baekhyun ended the phone call, he finally said. “Chanyeol—”
“But what are you trying to do anyway? Why did you rummage through my belongings?” Baekhyun asked. Something wasn’t right, and he could feel it. He tried to remember if he had ever met Chanyeol before, but he didn’t find the answer to his question. The silence was agonizing, like it was screaming so loudly in Chanyeol’s ears.
Baekhyun, please… remember me…
“W-Wait,” was what Chanyeol said in return.
Baekhyun gave a long sigh. He kept glancing at his watch, and then at Chanyeol who was looking confused.
Hands still rummaging through the other portraits Mrs. Byun had kept in here, he was searching for his portrait. He needed to prove it to Baekhyun, that he was once a man in the portrait. Baekhyun had to be told that he was the one Baekhyun once knew as a portrait. Baekhyun had to know that he wasn’t a human, that he just sacrificed his life for Baekhyun.
“Baekhyun!” Chanyeol shouted, tears streaming down his face. Baekhyun was shocked, and he took a few steps backward. “Please… s-stay. Chanyeol n-needs… Baekhyun…” he finally said, hands reaching for Baekhyun’s. When they were finally held each other’s hands, Baekhyun was surprised to see that Chanyeol was trembling.
“Chanyeol, what do you want to tell me exactly?”
It was scary. The thought of leaving Baekhyun without even telling him the truth scared Chanyeol.
“B-Baekhyun… Ch-Chanyeol was—”
The sentence was interrupted when Baekhyun’s phone rang again, and this time around, Baekhyun had no choice but to pick up the phone. He gave Chanyeol a look of pity before he answered the call.
“All right, all right. I’m coming over. You stay there. Yes, I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
When Baekhyun ended the call, Chanyeol knew he had no chance. He couldn’t even talk properly, tell Baekhyun who he was before, confess his feelings to Baekhyun and do things properly. He was just messed up, thinking of the fact that he was going to leave in any moment soon.
“I have to go now.”
No, Baekhyun. Please stay. You need to know who I am. I was a portrait.
“Yifan is waiting for me and I can’t let him stay there for another few hours.”
I’ve been waiting for you forever, Baekhyun. Why can’t you remember me?
“Besides, it’s already late, Chanyeol. Maybe you should go home now. You can just lock the house once you leave it. I trust you on this,” Baekhyun said, keeping his head low. He was still confused about what happened on the rooftop. He shouldn’t have let the male kiss him. He should’ve stayed away from Chanyeol. “I’m sure we can meet again next time. I spent a great day with a stranger. It feels… amazing. Thank you, Chanyeol.” Baekhyun smiled. Everything happened in a second. He knew he never got to see Baekhyun’s smiles forever. He could sense it.
And Baekhyun left without listening to Chanyeol’s whisper telling him not to go. He didn’t notice that Chanyeol was already crying, regretting his choice for everything.
Especially for loving Byun Baekhyun.
“Look at what you have done, Kai.”
Kai, who was sitting on a branch slowly looked up. He was searching for another non-living creatures that made prayers to turn into humans, and he still couldn’t find one. He smiled upon seeing a man wearing white clothes from head to toe, somewhat floating in the air.
“Who do we have here, a Timekeeper visiting me? What a pleasant surprise,” Kai simpered.
“Stop doing this already, Kai. This is too much!” The Timekeeper named Tao screamed in Kai’s face. His hair was swept back in anger, and he leaned forward so that he could overpower Kai with his height. But Kai seemed like he wasn’t scared of anything at the moment.
“Whoa, calm down, buddy. What kind of business do we have here?”
“You shouldn’t have done that to Chanyeol.”
“Chanyeol? Who is—oh… that Chanyeol. Now I remember,” Kai said as he recalled his memory. “Are we talking about that pitiful portrait?” Kai instantly laughed as he finished talking. Hearing Chanyeol’s name brought laughter to him, and he didn’t understand why would Tao be mad over something as pleasant as that portrait.
“Give him back his soul,” Tao threatened.
“Or else what?”
“You know I’m a Timekeeper. I can reverse the time back and change everything you have done to him. He doesn’t know anything!”
“Why are you defending him too much? Thousands of souls are with me and why does this person seem so important to you? Is there something going on that I don’t know about?” Kai sneered.
“Stop talking rubbish, Kai. You know you shouldn’t do that to anyone, especially to someone like him. He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way!”
Kai stood up, chest heaving as he walked closer. “He’s the one who wanted to be a human. Did I do wrong? I gifted him a body for him to live in. That’s already written in the contract: If anyone wants to become a human, then he shall live not more than a day,” Kai said, taking his breaths in between the syllables. “He can’t live forever as a human. He wasn’t even human in the first place.”
“The contract doesn’t even exist. You shouldn’t have turned him into a human without Lay’s permission! Now take back everything and give him his life!” Tao reminded Kai, that everything he did was totally wrong. Lay, the God never gave any permissions to do anything without consulting him first. Whatever Kai had done to Chanyeol was unforgivable and he should be punished for breaking the rules.
Kai laughed deviously. “That’s his fate.”
Scoffing, Tao looked away. “You’ll regret this later.”
As he took a few steps away from Kai, he suddenly heard Kai’s raspy voice. The air around them suddenly became heavy and cold.
“Try me,” Kai went on. “You know it yourself that the curse will not be broken when it’s done. He’ll be gone, and you’re already late. Turning back the time will not change anything.”
Tao knew that. Once a non-living creature turned into a human, he would die if he was given time to live his life. And Chanyeol was in the list too. But Tao couldn’t afford seeing Chanyeol receive such a fate. Chanyeol deserved a better life, and he shouldn’t be treated like he was a toy.
When Tao turned around, Kai’s eyes had already turned to blood red. He knew Kai won’t listen to him and nothing could be done anyway. Chanyeol’s soul was already in Kai’s possession, and Tao had no right to snatch it away from Kai. Tao realized he could do nothing to save Chanyeol from his ruthless fate because Chanyeol wasn’t meant to live as a human. And he left before he heard Kai give a sneering laugh, as if trying to mock Chanyeol’s fate and Tao’s effort to save the poor man.
“Well, hello there, young man.”
A cold yet so familiar voice greeted Chanyeol, leaving him to tremble unknowingly. He wasn’t ready for this. He didn’t want this. Chanyeol’s eyes gazed around, but he was the only person in the living room. He was about to leave the house after he had finally gathered up his thoughts and courage, to accept the fact that everything was too late. The lights from the lamp went dim out of a sudden, and the room eventually darkened until no light was there to illuminate the area. He brought his knees close to his chest, hugging his body tightly because he was afraid of what was coming. He knew Kai was there. He remembered that voice.
Suddenly, a shriek laughter was heard across the living room, and Chanyeol’s breaths hitched.
“Are you ready?” The voice asked him.
Chanyeol looked around, still trying to find Kai. However, only darkness and fright accompanied him other than his cold voice. Chanyeol blinked in the darkness and tried to talk, but he had no voice.
Please, give me some time. I need to see him for a moment.
“Your time is up and there’s nothing I can do,” Kai said, and his figure slowly appeared in the midst of the darkness. He was wearing the same black veil, and the same red eyes were staring at him. There was a raven on Kai’s left shoulder, and Kai was caressing its feathers.
Please. I need more time. He has to remember who I am…
“He doesn’t need to know who you are. If you’re an important person in his life, he would surely remember you right away.”
But he is important to me…
“That isn’t the most important matter here, young man. You’ve already got what you wished for, and it’s time for me to get what I’ve been wishing for,” Kai smiled cynically as his eyes shone in the blood red color. His voice was rough and raw. His laughter sounded devious, and his eyes turned to blue. Chanyeol had to cover his ears so that he wouldn’t hear fate laughing at him at that moment. His mind kept on replaying the past memories he’d had with Baekhyun, laughing at him and mocking him that he deserved such a fate.
It wasn’t enough. He needed more time to spend with Baekhyun. He knew he should’ve used up his time wisely, knowing that the chance only came once in his life. But he ruined it. Baekhyun was nowhere to be found now, and now he had to face Kai who was smirking the entire time, waiting for him to make up his mind.
Chanyeol wasn’t ready to leave. There was still a lot of things he needed to tell Baekhyun. He didn’t have the chance to tell Baekhyun that he was a beautiful man he had ever seen, that Baekhyun had the most lovely voice ever in the world that no one could ever compare to him and that he should proud of himself that at least, someone like Chanyeol had been admiring it. He hadn’t told Baekhyun that he really, really loved that man and Baekhyun wouldn’t know about it because he was so stupid for not telling the truth the moment they met. He was too late for all of that.
He slammed his fists on the floor until he was tired, curling his fingers so tightly and crying because it was too painful; everything inside him was throbbing.
“P-Please…” He eventually opened up his mouth, pleading. Regret and sorrow were apparent in his expression. He crawled over to Kai, who was startled when he saw Chanyeol trying to touch his black veil. But as soon as Chanyeol’s fingers almost touched it, Kai disappeared all of a sudden and appeared again behind Chanyeol, standing a bit far away from the crying man. Although his voice was too low, Kai could still hear his plea. The demon’s face contorted. He looked away, ignoring Chanyeol’s sorrowful stare and cry.
He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way!
Tao’s words were echoing in Kai’s mind, interrupting his focus on the raven on his shoulder. He stopped caressing its feathers and his ears perked up every time Chanyeol sobbed.
“K-Kai… please… h-help me…”
Kai didn’t answer. He diverted his eyes away from Chanyeol’s hopeful ones.
Chanyeol felt something collapse inside him. He looked down, eyes were welling up with tears.
When Kai turned around to look at Chanyeol and brought up his hands in the air, a gush of wind suddenly hit and whirled around them, leaving the latter to start panic. He had stopped crying because he knew, it was no use pleading and asking for Kai’s help because he won’t just listen. As Chanyeol closed his eyes, reviving the sweet and painful memories: from where he first opened his eyes to the world around him, from where Mr. Byun started talking to him as if the man knew Chanyeol understood everything, from where he’d fallen in love with Baekhyun, from where guilt crept inside him when he was stupid enough for not telling the truth to Baekhyun; another tear fell from his left eye, and he let everything go. Everything, including Byun Baekhyun.
The world around him was spinning so suddenly that he couldn’t see anything. Everything was pitch black, just like the first time he was turned into a human and started to see the light with his naked eyes. But this time, he wouldn’t see the light again forever. He wouldn’t see Baekhyun forever.
When Baekhyun returned home, the first thing he did was calling for Chanyeol’s name. The digital clock on the desk read almost three in the morning; he was so surprised that he talked to Yifan for almost three hours straight. His boyfriend had insisted that they should have a short talk because he missed him so much and he said he wouldn’t return to Korea until the next spring came. So, Baekhyun agreed to his suggestion, forgetting that he should be with someone else instead.
There was no answer. There was no sign of anyone in the house. He headed for the kitchen, but it was empty and quiet. He climbed up the stairs to the attic, switched on the bulb, and the room was lit in a dim light, but no one was there. He went to each bedroom in the house, trying to find any trace of Chanyeol, but again, no. No one was there in the house.
The silence almost killed him and he despised it. He reckoned Chanyeol had gone home after figuring out that Baekhyun wouldn’t return to the house. He scratched his head unknowingly before he walked towards the garden, surprised when he found a figure of a tall man there, standing in the dark. He thought that maybe Chanyeol was sitting all alone at the gazebo, gazing at the stars like what they did earlier.
“Chanyeol!” He smiled when he walked closer. “What are you doing there in the dark, Chanyeol?”
As he got closer, he realized something. The man wasn’t Chanyeol.
Baekhyun took a few steps back and studied the man’s face in the darkness as he tried to remember where he had seen him. “Who are you?”
As the silence followed, the man stepped forward, and Baekhyun could see his face clearly. His gaze was sharp, his raven black hair was swept back in a fixed style and he was wearing all white from head to toe. Baekhyun gulped down when the unknown man stood in front of him, and he noticed that there was too much difference of height between both of them. He had to tilt his head backward in order for him to see the man’s face.
“I’m looking for you.”
“Me?” Baekhyun awkwardly pointed a finger at himself. “Why?”
The man took a deep breath, before mouthing something ever so low, but was still clear to be heard. Baekhyun’s eyes went wide as soon as the man finished talking, and he ran inside the house, legs trembling and body sweating. He headed for the living room, the last place he placed all his belongings he brought with him that evening. The portrait, his duffel bag, two cups of coffee were there in the room.
The portrait was lying on the floor, waiting to be picked up by Baekhyun as soon as the male saw it. He hesitated at first, so he gathered his hands, heart thumping hard against his chest, and it was like he was already used to that kind of pain of separating with loved ones. He slightly bent his body to pick it up. He picked it up with trembling hands, because he already missed seeing Chanyeol’s face, already forgot how the man looked like. With trembling lips, hitching breaths; he lowered his body to get the portrait. Taking a deep breath, Baekhyun was completely hoping that he would see Chanyeol’s face again so that he didn’t forget how big Chanyeol’s ears were, how wide his smile was, how wide his brown eyes were and how entirely beautiful he was, he turned the portrait around so it was facing him. That was the moment when the portrait dropped on the floor, and Baekhyun’s world crumbled and faded into black, with no one to save him anymore. Not even he, himself.
How stupid could he be for not remembering anything at all. How dense could he be for being so ignorant and selfish. How foolish could he be for letting go of someone who gave him happiness even if it was for one day. How stupid Baekhyun could be for not noticing who Chanyeol was.
Everything was irreversible when he knew the truth. Time had left him when he realized it was already late.
He traced the line of the drawing of the picture with shaking fingers as he knelt on the floor, and in the end, a tear of regret rolled down his cheek. Memories with Chanyeol were replaying vigorously in his mind, trying to tell him that he deserved that, to lose everyone who once loved him.
When Baekhyun’s eyes went to look at the portrait again, everything looked the same. Baekhyun, who was smiling all wide yet feeling nervous on the inside because someone beside him on the bench was the reason to his nervousness, the reason to why his heart was beating so fast it hurt. The only thing that differed now was, he was the only one appeared in the portrait. The canvas appeared to be so empty, as if it was telling him that someone should be there with him, smiling with him. But again, Baekhyun was the only one appeared in the portrait because Chanyeol wasn’t there anymore. Baekhyun’s heart broke at that thought, his heart clenched as he sobbed, gasping for some air but he caught nothing. Everything appeared to be impossible when Chanyeol wasn’t there. Everything seemed almost impossible.
And it was because Chanyeol wasn’t there anymore.
A/N: Special thanks to Lina, Jackie, M, Macy and Hani for the help and beta <3 This fic is dedicated to you guys and all Chanbaek shippers.