Side Pairing(s): Mentions of Sehun and Jongdae
Word Counts: 18,110w
Warning(s):[click to open]mention of minor!character death
Summary: Baekhyun's hopes almost faded away as he waited for someone, but when he met a certain stranger named Chanyeol who brought everything back to life, things started to change.
Author's Note: Written for baeconandeggs fic exchange. Thank you so much to my beta, M and J, for helping me finish this fic successfully, even though this might seem so rushed.
It was a windy night when he met a certain stranger running mindlessly, panting and huffing as if he was being chased by something. Baekhyun was arranging the chairs and tables outside the restaurant, and he was about to go home too. Everyone else had gone home, so Baekhyun was wondering who the stranger might be. Baekhyun squinted at the figure, noticing that he was running towards his direction.
“H-Hey, is everything alright over there?” Baekhyun shouted, stammering a little. He backed away slightly when the man approached slowly, but he mustered up his courage, concluding that perhaps the man really needed some help.
The man finally got closer and he was clearly sweating and panting as if he’d been running under the scorching sun. He pointed out his finger to a quiet and dark road, slightly trembling. “I was—huh—I was talking to an ahjussi over there when his dog suddenly chased me around,” he explained, trying to collect his voice. He looked tired and incredibly scared.
“Junmyeon ahjussi?” Baekhyun guessed.
“Yeah, it’s him. How do you know his name?” The man huffed, wiping his sweats that were trailing on his forehead with his sleeve. Baekhyun smiled and gave him a handkerchief he kept inside his pocket. He heard a soft thank you from the unknown man.
"He’s the only one here who owns a dog,” Baekhyun told the male. The taller man was in awe when he heard that, his eyes went wider as he processed the words. Then, he gave Baekhyun his handkerchief back. The silence followed after a while until their eyes met. His eyes went wider, as though he was trying to recognize Baekhyun’s face.
“Hey, it’s you again,” the man exclaimed, his teeth showing as he grinned.
Baekhyun threw the man a questioning look. “Have we met before?”
The man didn’t answer. Instead, he extended his hand in greeting. “Uh, yes. Oh I’m really sorry. I’m Chanyeol. Park Chanyeol,” he introduced himself. Baekhyun shook their hands together, feeling the warmness seep through his body before he released his hand.
“No. Don’t call me that. Just Chanyeol,” Chanyeol showed him a toothy smile once again.
Baekhyun looked at him, mute, but he nodded anyway.
“Do you always stay behind late at night like this?”
“How did you know that?”
“I think we have met before, remember?”
“Sorry, I don’t really remember.”
Chanyeol rubbed the back of his neck. “Oh, and I was here with my friend the other day, and you happened to serve our table. Well… I can say that this is actually our third time talking to each other.”
“Oh,” Baekhyun responded shortly. “Why did you meet Junmyeon ahjussi?”
Chanyeol eventually took a chair and sat down, before giving a meaningful stare at Baekhyun. He put down his books on the table. “It’s regarding my college project.”
“What is the project about?” Baekhyun asked, unsure of why he would ask such a question. He should’ve left the place, instead of talking to a mere stranger. He didn’t know what made him stay.
“We were given a task to do some research on historical places and I have to complete it before next month. It’s tough, because I’m not really into historical places. So I need someone to show me to some places around here,” Chanyeol explained. His eyes glanced around, taking in the beautiful surroundings before him. The swaying trees, the dark sky and the moon: those calmed his heart.
“Where are you from?” Curiosity hit Baekhyun, so he asked that question. He noticed that Chanyeol didn’t use dialect like what he had been using, so he assumed Chanyeol come from the city. He might come from Seoul, Baekhyun thought.
“Seoul. Well, I don’t really live in the middle of the city but—yes, technically I’m from Seoul.”
Baekhyun’s guess was right. “But it’s still in Seoul.”
Chanyeol let out a short breath of laughter. “Hey, wanna grab some drink? It’s my treat.”
Baekhyun arched his brows. “No, I’m sorry. I don’t hang out with strangers. Besides, it’s already late. I have to close the restaurant.”
“You already knew my name. Isn’t that enough?”
“It is not. Besides, I still have work to do. I don’t even have much time for myself.”
“We can go tomorrow and tell your boss that you’re having lunch with me—” Chanyeol paused when his eyes caught Baekhyun’s change of expression. “Well… maybe not we. Maybe I’ll just tell him by myself,” he continued and chuckled, keeping his head down.
Baekhyun gave no answer in return.
Chanyeol nodded. “So?”
Baekhyun craned his neck. “Sorry, I don’t really hang out with other people unless I know them well.”
“So what should I do so that I can be in the list of certain people you know well?”
Baekhyun guessed that the taller man would never give up until he agreed to his offer. “I have to go now. Ah, Junmyeon ahjussi hates it when you don’t know anything about idols. Make sure you do a little background research on some idols. You should know better than me.” He took out a set of keys from his bag he leaned against a chair.
“Is it even necessary? I thought he’s too old for that.”
“It is necessary. Never judge someone by his appearance. Also, when you talk to him, you have to know his likes and dislikes as well,” Baekhyun said.
“But it doesn’t have anything to do with me taking the photographs?” Chanyeol looked so confused hearing Baekhyun’s remarks. Baekhyun couldn’t help but laugh.
“But Junmyeon ahjussi is the person you have to interview, no?”
“I can interview other people though.” Chanyeol grinned.
“And may I know who do you have in mind? He’s like the most eligible candidate ever to be interviewed when it comes to historical places in Gangwondo.”
“I can interview you.”
Baekhyun was completely taken aback when he heard that. “Wait. What?”
“You look like someone who can be the best tourist guide ever. And you talk a lot too.”
Baekhyun stopped responding. He thought this conversation must stop here.
“I’m not that talkative as what you might have thought,” he corrected Chanyeol. He didn’t realize that he talked that much with a stranger, and it was completely weird if he thought about it.
“And I’m not that type of a person who would do some sort of a stupid background research on idols just to interview someone who’s old but young at heart like someone claimed,” Chanyeol replied.
“You don’t have a choice though,” Baekhyun said as he took a few steps away from Chanyeol.
“Hey, I still don’t know your name,” Chanyeol called out for Baekhyun, but the former had already disappeared in the dark as he rode his bike, and Chanyeol silently smiled.
Baekhyun didn’t feel surprised when he saw the same guy from yesterday. Baekhyun still remembered his name. Park Chanyeol. He had no friends with that name, so the name was still new to him. This time around, Chanyeol was wearing a blue button-up shirt with matching jeans, sleeves rolled up to his elbows. Time seemed to slow down, giving way for the tall man to catch Baekhyun’s attention, enough to make the smaller gasp for some air as his eyes scanned the walking figure from head to toes. He was like an art, a fine sculpture someone would keep in a glass inside the museum. The way he walked was full of pride; as if he owned the world.
Baekhyun’s heart pounded in the same rhythm as Chanyeol made his steps, padding nearer and nearer until Baekhyun could clearly see the clear sparkles in the other’s eyes.
Baekhyun breathed in. He gnawed on his lip, considering returning the greeting. Chanyeol’s face was like a complete set of puzzles that was put up in a frame hanging against the wall. There wasn’t a single feature on his face that Baekhyun could call an imperfection. His face was almost concealed in the shadows last night, although the moon casted its dim light upon his face. Baekhyun still managed to notice the same gaze. But today, Chanyeol looked like a different person. Baekhyun almost didn’t recognize him as someone he had talked to before. It just dawned on him that it was the same man who approached him last night.
“Good morning,” Chanyeol repeated, holding out his hand in greeting.
Baekhyun contemplated, but he responded anyway. “The shop is closed for now. You can come again at 10,” he said, shifting his eyes away from looking at the embodiment of beauty before him, whose eyes were scanning the smaller under his eyelashes.
“I know. I didn’t come here for breakfast.” A bright smile was drawn on the taller’s face. He rested his hand he had held out earlier behind his back. “I came here because I want to meet you.”
“I don’t make any appointments with anyone today.”
Chanyeol didn’t answer when he heard the stiff answer from Baekhyun. He chose to stay silent, traces of wrinkles appeared on his forehead as he stared at Baekhyun. He was frowning. It wasn’t a kind of a frown someone made when they were sad. It was more like a frown they made when they were mesmerized by something, like they didn’t believe it with their own eyes. To Chanyeol, it was his first time seeing a gorgeous man with sculptured cheekbones and sparkling eyes that reminded people of a puppy that lost its way in the middle of busy streets, searching its way home.
“Why are you staring at me?” Baekhyun muttered under his breaths, gnawing on his lip as he faced Chanyeol awkwardly. The next sentence stuck in his throat when they shared gaze, and Baekhyun ended up mumbling it shyly, keeping his head down. “Stop doing it.”
“Sorry, I didn’t expect that you would be this beautiful,” Chanyeol said. “Besides, you are wearing your spectacles today. You look really different.”
Baekhyun contemplated Chanyeol in silence, the word ‘beautiful’ kept repeating in his head like a broken vinyl. He never had a slightest thought that someone would call him that. It was stupid, really. Having a complete stranger praising him when they didn’t know each other that well. He pushed his spectacles against his nose and cleared his throat. He felt his body shrink under Chanyeol’s stern gaze. Silently, he continued his work, arranging the chairs and tables outside the restaurant.
Chanyeol let out an awkward chuckle. He took in the sight of the sky painted in baby-blue, adorned with the dotted clouds across the horizon. “It’s a beautiful morning, isn’t it? You don’t get to see the sun when you’re in Seoul. Hidden behind the tall buildings, it’s almost impossible to see such a breath-taking surrounding like you have in here.”
Baekhyun let the words dissolve in his mind. He never went to Seoul, so he didn’t know what to respond if he hadn’t seen the real place. Sehun had shown him some of the pictures he had taken while he was in Seoul two months ago for a college trip, but that was it. Baekhyun preferred to see the beautiful places with his naked eyes. Standing in front of a skyscraper and in the middle of busy streets. Baekhyun wondered if it was any different from standing in front of a beach, witnessing the waves hitting the beach as the sun was swallowed by the sea and the moon took turn to shine the night. Was the sea breeze different than the one from the city?
“There isn’t much to see here anyway,” Baekhyun said as he wiped the chair clean with a dry kitchen towel he put in the apron he was wearing. When Baekhyun stole a glance at the man, he found himself being stared at.
The sun soared higher now. Baekhyun guessed it was time to step inside and help his friends with the kitchen work. He straightened up his body, cracking his neck and facing Chanyeol. “I have to go inside now.”
“So, you are not going to keep me company today? I need to go and check out those places Junmyeon ahjussi had suggested yesterday,” Chanyeol said.
Baekhyun wiped the sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand. “Where’s that place?”
“He mentioned something about Baekdamsa Temple.”
Baekhyun raised his brows. “It’s not that far from here. You can take a taxi from here and ask the driver instead. He’ll bring you to that place.”
Chanyeol frowned. “I thought you’re going to help me.”
“I didn’t say anything about helping you,” he replied. Silence enveloped and Baekhyun found it uncomforting. He folded the towel in two and grabbed it tightly. “Listen, I need to go inside and help my friends, alright? You can come in and order a breakfast if you want to or go straight to the stand over there and wait for the taxi. It’s your choice,” Baekhyun finally said.
“I’ll choose the former,” Chanyeol said, casting a meaningful smile. And by the time he finished his words, Baekhyun straightaway walked into the restaurant and left Chanyeol outside.
It was always like this.
Baekhyun knew he was going to agree to everything Chanyeol said when he returned to the table with a plate of sandwiches and a cup of hot chocolate. Chanyeol persuaded him with pleading eyes, asking him to show the place around. Baekhyun chose to ignore the man in the first place, but the stare he gave was too much of a burden, so he ended up agreeing to whatever the man had suggested. The funnier thing was, Mr. Shin even let him take a day off so that he could help Chanyeol find his way to the temple. Sehun didn’t come to work today, so he wasn’t sure if it was right or not to return home during the break to feed his father.
“Is it okay if I go back to my house for a moment?” Baekhyun asked, wiping off the flour caught on his sleeve. He was trying to bake a cake with Hyeri’s help, and perhaps they might add cakes as their new menu on the list if everything worked fine.
“Is it okay if I follow you?” Chanyeol asked back, not answering the question. Baekhyun considered, and he nodded hesitantly. He never let any strangers or guests come to his house, unless they were someone Baekhyun knew well. Junmyeon ahjussi once came to visit his father, but he complained that their houses were too far from each other, so that was the first and last time he had come to Baekhyun’s house.
And when both of them walked out of the restaurant, Baekhyun took his bicycle he parked near the restaurant. Instead of riding the bike, he chose to go by pushing it. The walk along the cobbled street was quiet. Almost quiet that Baekhyun thought his heartbeat was the loudest sound he could hear. Or perhaps it was the other’s heartbeat. He ignored the dust and sand collected on his pants and shoes, and watched as Chanyeol’s feet moved beside him.
They didn’t talk to each other, just letting the quietness surround them. And when they almost arrived at Baekhyun’s house, Chanyeol’s mouth gaped in surprise.
“Is this your home?” Chanyeol asked. His eyes widened when he saw how small the house was, compared to the ones he always saw in Seoul. Baekhyun didn’t take it to heart. He assumed people like Chanyeol who came from the city wouldn’t know how it felt like to live in such a house.
“Someone’s excited.” Baekhyun said. Chanyeol bit his lips when he heard the sneering comment from Baekhyun.
Baekhyun laughed. “Come in. It’s freezing outside.”
Chanyeol followed the smaller male from behind, studying the surrounding around him. The front yard was clean from the dried leaves. There were pots of daisies lined up in a row near the wall outside and Chanyeol found them cute.
When they got inside, Chanyeol had to bend a little so that his head wouldn’t hit the door frame. As he looked round, he studied every single area in the house, and somewhat couldn’t believe that Baekhyun was the owner of the house. He took a step forward, and when he craned his head to the side, he saw an old man watching the television silently, a remote control was held loosely in his hand. What almost caught him off-guard was when he realized that the man was actually sitting on a wheelchair.
“Where did you go?” The old man said as the petite male approached closer.
“I went to work, Dad. Remember?” Baekhyun said, giving a peck on the old man’s cheek. The latter gave him a smile, and Chanyeol felt a strange kind of warmness gushing inside him. Baekhyun glanced at Chanyeol and said, “This is my dad. Dad, this is Chanyeol. He’s new here,” Baekhyun introduced Chanyeol to his father. Chanyeol bent his body down to show his respect, but the man seemed to ignore him.
“I’m hungry,” the man whined and Baekhyun smiled. He looked up at Chanyeol and gave an apologetic stare.
“Can you wait over there, Chanyeol?” Baekhyun gestured to a small area near the kitchen. There was an old stool just beside a small table. “I’ll prepare meal for my dad and we can go to the temple when everything’s done. Is that okay with you?”
“I’m fine. Take your time. No need to rush,” Chanyeol gave the male a sincere smile. Baekhyun nodded and headed for the kitchen.
Just when Baekhyun was about to disappear from Chanyeol’s sight, that was when the old man shouted something that had flipped Chanyeol’s world inside out.
“Baekhyun! I want some chicken in my soup.”
“Alright, Dad. Anything for you,” Chanyeol heard the male’s voice from the kitchen.
And suddenly everything spun around Chanyeol’s world.
Chanyeol and Baekhyun were sitting by the shore, watching the sand and salty water combined and became one. They were at the beach because of Chanyeol’s request after they had gone to the temple earlier. He just studied how Chanyeol religiously snapping the pictures of the temple, taking notes from time to time when Baekhyun explained about the history of the temple. When Chanyeol guessed he was done for that day, he suddenly told Baekhyun that he had yearned to watch the view of sunsets, and Baekhyun couldn’t retaliate when he was dragged so suddenly to here. Chanyeol had already been to that beach once, but he waited for Baekhyun to make up his mind so that they could watch the sunsets together.
“How long has your father been like that?” Chanyeol suddenly asked.
Baekhyun sighed. The question was somewhat sensitive to him, bringing back a weird kind of emotion in his heart, but he was already used to that. “Since last year. He looks awful, doesn’t he?” He replied, letting out a quiet laughter. But Chanyeol believed he just heard a sob from that man.
“You… you haven’t told me your name yet.”
“Is that so?”
Chanyeol nodded. The air stiffened when Baekhyun didn’t answer anything.
“Is it Baekhyun?” Chanyeol asked carefully. It was weird when Chanyeol eventually realized that he managed to survive without having to call someone by their own names. He guessed Baekhyun was just an exception.
“Oh, you heard my father shouting for my name, did you? I actually intended to keep this as a secret. It’s… it’s Byun Baekhyun,” Baekhyun muttered under his breath. Chanyeol didn’t ask why, because he assumed that maybe Baekhyun was just being insecure.
“Your name sounds familiar,” Chanyeol said. They exchanged gazes for a while. “But it’s beautiful. Baekhyun.”
Baekhyun blushed, not expecting to hear such a response. “Thanks.”
“So, why do you always go to the post office?” Chanyeol started the conversation, clearly not noticing that he had just asked a ridiculous question.
Baekhyun almost gasped. “How did you know?”
“I’ve been here since a month ago. And if I counted it correctly, I saw you there three times,” Chanyeol raised up three fingers.
“How much do you know about me?” Baekhyun questioned. He found it weird when people took interest in his life and everything he did. The feelings were just unexplainable.
“You are avoiding my question again,” Chanyeol said and smiled. “Is this your specialty or something? You know well how not to answer questions from me.”
Baekhyun grabbed a shell he found beside him and threw it away. He wiped off the sand from his hand and gave a look at Chanyeol. “It’s just me being myself. I’m not good at answering questions I find personal to me,” Baekhyun answered as he sighed. “And if you still want to know, I went there because of my father. He always asks me to send letters to someone.”
“Who’s that someone?”
“Oh.” A short reply was given. “Where is she?”
Baekhyun gulped back his fear of revealing his secret, but he guessed Chanyeol deserved to know about him at least. “She’s not here anymore. More like she’s up there, probably watching us talk about her,” Baekhyun said. His finger was pointing up at the sky. Chanyeol noticed that Baekhyun’s body was slightly shaking. His eyes glistened in a way Chanyeol had never seen it before. He suddenly felt regret for asking such an inconsiderate question. He should’ve known earlier.
Chanyeol breathed in. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
Baekhyun let out a breath. “It’s totally fine. I don’t expect you to know everything about me. Most of them are unpleasant so if you’re wondering why I rarely open up to you, that’s one of the reasons to me being like this.”
“Why do you still go there?”
“The post office?” Baekhyun chuckled. “You already knew how my father looks like. Sitting on a wheelchair every single minute and only getting off it when he needs to sleep, as if his whole life depended on it. He doesn’t remember most of the things too, including the fact that his wife’s dead from the car crash. But he still remembers me. I don’t know why. Perhaps I keep reminding him that I am Byun Baekhyun, his only son who is the only family he has in this world and still alive. It’s kind of a habit, waking up every morning, walking to my father’s room and asking him if he recognizes my face. It hurts when I had to tell lies to him, saying that my mother is working in Seoul for years and will not return here for another good three years,” Baekhyun said, chest heaving as he inhaled. “He didn’t ask anything about you when he saw you in the living room just now, did he?”
“He didn’t,” Chanyeol shortly answered. His focus was now on Baekhyun’s eyes. They were brimming with tears, and Chanyeol didn’t have a slightest idea of how long he had kept this feeling inside him.
“It’s because he never cares for things happening around him. The only thing tattooed in his mind is his wife. I guess he doesn’t even care who I am, as long as I am there to help him with the meals and put him to bed every day.”
“So why do you still go to the post office for nothing? You could just keep the letters or something. Don’t you think it’s kind of a waste of time? Walking back and forth when you know whatever you are doing right now means nothing.” The question had been lingering around his mind lately, bugging him. Baekhyun shouldn’t have spent his time at the post office stupidly, sending letters to someone who would never reply to them forever. And Chanyeol would have expected earlier if Baekhyun answered that he was just playing along with his father’s act. The old man didn’t remember a thing. It wasn’t Baekhyun’s fault if he told his father the truth, but Chanyeol knew the smaller man before him had done everything he could do.
“For nothing? Now you sound like Sehun,” Baekhyun chuckled to himself. Chanyeol kept silent. “I have no choice but to act like everything is real. But still, you’re wrong. I do keep my father’s letters inside the box, making sure they are hidden well enough so that he doesn’t know I am lying to him. But the main reason I go there is because I’m waiting for a letter from someone. I was hoping for a reply from that someone.”
And both of them fell into silence, because Chanyeol had no question to ask anymore. Even if he had one, he already knew the answer to his question. Everything just made sense now.
“Jongdae doesn’t reply to my letter anymore,” Baekhyun said, the last word was drawled sadly.
“I told you to stop writing to him. He doesn’t deserve your attention. He doesn’t deserve anything from you,” Sehun sneered.
“Why did you hide my letter the other day?” Baekhyun asked. He didn’t feel mad at Sehun like the other day. He knew Sehun had a reason behind everything he did.
Sehun turned away. “I have no answer to that.”
“There must be a definite reason,” Baekhyun pleaded.
“Like I said, it’s because I want you to stop doing this.”
“Why do you hate him so much?”
Sehun let out a sigh. “I don’t hate him, Baekhyun. I just don’t want you to end up hurting yourself. You knew that already.”
“I clearly remember the way your expression changed when I introduced you to Jongdae. You didn’t really like him.”
“That Seoul boy,” Sehun changed the topic, “I’ve seen him around here a lot of time already. Is he your friend?”
Baekhyun gulped down his saliva. Why did Sehun have to remind him of Chanyeol? “I was forced to help him do his assignments on our village.”
“He looks okay,” Sehun commented.
“What do you mean by okay?”
But Sehun abandoned the question, and the answer was left lingering around in the air. Baekhyun just let it slide, he didn’t need the answer to that too.
It was Thursday, a time when Baekhyun would be relaxing at home with his father. He was about to cook something for lunch when he heard a faint knock from in front. He saw his father struggle to move around with his wheelchair, going straight to the door, but Baekhyun was faster to stop him.
“No, Dad. That’s fine, I can open the door,” Baekhyun said, putting the rug he was holding aside before he held his father’s hand and pushed the wheelchair to the living room. His father grunted, but didn’t say anything in return.
After making sure that his father was comfortable in his position, he rushed back to the front and opened the door.
“Chanyeol? What are you doing here?” Baekhyun gasped in surprise, but he kept his voice low so that he won’t disturb his father’s attention on the television.
Chanyeol grinned and held up a black plastic bag high. “I came to visit your father. Am I disturbing both of you?” Chanyeol asked worriedly.
Baekhyun contemplated for a while, but he let the male walk inside after making up his mind. A visit wouldn’t hurt.
“Come in,” Baekhyun said. He gestured to the living room, and Baekhyun’s father was already looking at their direction.
“Hello, Mr. Byun.” Chanyeol bowed. Baekhyun’s father seemed to ignore the taller male again like what he did yesterday. But as seconds passed, a smile crept up the old man’s face, and Chanyeol was delighted.
“Can I sit there with your father?” Chanyeol asked for permission, lowering his voice.
Baekhyun nodded. “Alright, but don’t talk to him that much. He doesn’t really like to be disturbed,” Baekhyun reminded, taking the plastic bag from Chanyeol’s hand. It was filled with oranges. Perhaps, Chanyeol bought it from the local store on his way here. “Thank you. I’ll prepare the lunch first. There’s nothing interesting here anyway but, suit yourself.”
Baekhyun let the man wander about the house as he stepped towards the kitchen. He mentally noted that he should prepare lunch for three people, instead of two. So, he took out a box of white kimchi he had packed inside a box. He opened the freezer and took out a chicken before he put it in the sink and opened the tap, letting the water flow so that the chicken would soften. When he checked the rice cooker, he let out a sigh of relief when he guessed that the rice was enough for everyone.
He was about to take out the vegetables and other ingredients from the refrigerator when he heard a familiar grunt from the living room. Washing his hand quickly, he hurried to the living room, and found that his father was being scooped up by Chanyeol.
“Chanyeol, what are you—”
He was left speechless for a moment, but he guessed Chanyeol had an explanation for that.
“Your dad—” Chanyeol said, carefully holding the old man’s body. “—he wanted to go to the toilet, so I had to lift him up and—”
“Oh God, you should’ve called me. I can do it by myself,” Baekhyun said in a worried voice. Relief sneaking up on him when Chanyeol finally put his father on the sofa instead of the wheelchair, despite how worried he was when he saw his father in Chanyeol’s hold. He didn’t trust other people to take care of his sick father other than Mrs. Oh and himself, but seeing how Chanyeol was casually doing everything on his own, something stirred in his heart.
“That’s okay. Besides, I don’t want to disturb you in the kitchen,” Chanyeol said.
“If he asks you to help him with anything, just call me. I can handle it by myself,” Baekhyun muttered as he leaned forward, putting on a blanket on his father’s laps. His father gave a tired smile then.
Chanyeol didn’t reply. Instead, a smile appeared on his face, and Baekhyun swore his heart could burst in any time.
Baekhyun awoke to the sound of someone knocking on the front door hastily, the knocks reverberated across the house. The hands of the clock showed six in the morning. Baekhyun slightly grunted, feeling disturbed, but he struggled to get himself up anyway.
Standing in front of him was Chanyeol, looking slightly disturbed and worried. Baekhyun’s eyes shifted to Chanyeol’s hand which was holding a knapsack. That was when it him: Chanyeol needed to return to Seoul. And suddenly a part of him flew away.
“I have to go now.”
“Where are you going?” Baekhyun asked, pretending that he didn’t know anything. He hated lying because he had to maintain his indifferent expression despite knowing the answer already.
“Seoul. I’m going back to Seoul. I told you yesterday.”
There was a hint of disappointment on Chanyeol’s face when he received such a response from the smaller male. “My train leaves at eight and I have to be there as early as possible or I’ll be left behind,” he added.
So, he’s really leaving, Baekhyun thought. Something strange stirred in his heart, but he didn’t know what it was. He cleared his throat, making sure that the tone of his voice didn’t sound too awkward when he muttered, “Have you had your breakfast? I can bake some—”
“No, Baekhyun. That’s not important. I can buy some snacks on my way to the station.”
There was silence. The atmosphere was awkward, leaving two people silently thinking of what they should say.
“Here, take this.” Chanyeol finally broke the silence. He took out something inside a paper bag he put on the floor, and Baekhyun realized that it was a phone.
“What is this?”
“Take it,” Chanyeol insisted.
Baekhyun arched his eyebrows. “But why are you giving me your phone?”
Chanyeol sighed. “I don’t want to lose contact with you. I knew that you don’t own any gadgets, so I guess I can give you mine instead of asking you to buy one,” he explained, locking his gaze at Baekhyun’s eyes. Baekhyun kept his head down in embarrassment.
“But it’s yours. No—I—just—no, I can’t take this. You can still come here if you want. You can—”
“I like you, Baekhyun.”
Baekhyun’s breath hitched. “What?”
“I know this looks stupid and seems rushed but I need you to know that I’m sincere with whatever I am going to say now,” Chanyeol paused and breathed in. “I like you, Baekhyun. I really do.”
Baekhyun shook his head, couldn’t believe the confession made by the taller man. “No, Chanyeol. I think you’re just confused with your heart. Did you have enough sleep last night? Because I’m pretty sure you’re just—”
“I know what I am doing.”
The silence was heavy, stiffening and uncomforting. Baekhyun took a step back, but he felt Chanyeol’s fingers running on his hand, slowly creeping upward towards his arms and shoulders, and finally resting them on Baekhyun’s nape. Baekhyun drew in his breath, heat rushed and seeped through his body, bringing him a weird kind of feeling.
“I want to live in your today and tomorrow. These eyes—look into my eyes, Baekhyun,” Chanyeol held Baekhyun’s shoulders tightly. “They always look for you, and even if they wander mindlessly, it will always be you they are searching for. And I know you’re going to say that everything is fucking ridiculous, that it’s not possible to fall in love with you in a short matter of time. But you know what? This heart—” Chanyeol brought Baekhyun’s hand to touch his chest. Baekhyun felt it. Chanyeol’s heart was beating vigorously and uncontrollably. “—it doesn’t know anything about how long it should take to fall in love with someone. All it cares is who I am falling in love with. And it’s you.”
“No, Chanyeol.” Baekhyun sighed and continued. “You are just too carried away with your feelings. You mistook your feelings for something else, settling on the fact that you might have fallen in love with me. No.” Baekhyun paused. The world around him blacked out, and the only thing he saw was Chanyeol, standing in front of him as he waited for Baekhyun’s answer. But the answer disappointed Chanyeol. “You can’t love me. And I don’t even know who you are. And you are totally right, Mr. Park. This is all ridiculous.”
Chanyeol’s heart sank when he heard Baekhyun calling him that. Suddenly, he felt that the barrier Baekhyun had built in between them grew apparent, as if there was a big wall stopping him from reaching to Baekhyun’s heart. His heart screamed in agony, but no one heard or noticed how painful it sounded. No one. Not even Baekhyun.
“Baekhyun.” A familiar voice greeted Baekhyun.
Baekhyun stopped walking. He was on his way to the locker room when he saw Sehun behind him, holding something behind his back. When Baekhyun took a peek slightly to look what was behind Sehun, he automatically knew words Sehun was going to say.
“Take this.” Sehun handed a paper bag. Baekhyun obviously knew what it carried inside. It was Chanyeol’s phone. “He wanted you to keep it,” Sehun silently continued.
“I don’t want it.”
“Please, Baekhyun. Try to open your heart to someone else who’s worth it. Try to accept someone else other than Jongdae into your life. It doesn’t hurt that much if you try.” Sehun’s voice sounded almost like he was begging, not the tone Baekhyun used to hear from the taller male. Sehun looked tired.
Baekhyun had no answer to give. He silently took the bag and went away.
The night was filled with silence, confusion and hesitation.
Baekhyun was staring at the ceiling, eyes blinking almost too often from time to time, and his thoughts left wandering through the air. When he craned his neck to the left, he saw Chanyeol. When he shifted his eyes to the window, he saw Chanyeol and this time, the man’s face was bright and cheerful. Baekhyun closed his eyes, not wanting to remember that man too much. But he knew it was impossible when he suddenly remembered the paper bag he received earlier from Sehun, and again, he let out a sigh.
He sat up straight, cracking his fingers before he focused his eyes on that certain brown paper bag. Hesitation hit him, but he managed to shove those confused thoughts away when he reached for the bag, taking the phone and charger out of it.
He didn’t know what to do when he looked at the phone. The black screen showed him his reflection, and Baekhyun decided to just switch on the phone.
It switched on, but Baekhyun was left clueless. He scratched his neck a few times, throwing the phone on his pillows before he snuggled back under the sheets, confused of what to do. And that was when the phone suddenly beeped, and Baekhyun guessed a text message had just arrived.
I hope you are reading this. This is my new number, and you can call me anytime you want.
Baekhyun didn’t have to think much that the text message was coming from Chanyeol. And above all, he never thought life could be so difficult on him.
Baekhyun was unsure at first, whether or not he should take the taxi to Chanyeol’s house. He wasn’t familiar with Seoul, or the people, but when Chanyeol sent him a text message asking him to come over to his house, Baekhyun couldn’t refuse. Besides, he didn’t know where to go after he’d arrived at the bus stop. Chanyeol had also texted his address, so Baekhyun guessed it wasn’t hard to find the way to Chanyeol’s house as long as the driver knew the place.
“Ahjussi, could you take me to this place?” Baekhyun asked when he got inside a taxi. He showed the driver a picture of a landmark Chanyeol had sent to him, the one he got in return to answer his question asking about the exact address. It was located near the neighborhood as what Chanyeol had told him. The driver nodded his head and told Baekhyun he knew the place, and Baekhyun was more than relieved.
During the ride, Baekhyun’s eyes were glued to see the surrounding outside the window. Tall buildings almost touching the blue sky, countless of metal beasts moving on the road and people walking on the streets; almost everything fascinated him. He wondered when he would get the same chance to come here with his father. He thought that maybe he should save a bit more money if he ever wanted to come to Seoul again.
It took him almost half an hour to reach to Chanyeol’s place. The man silently drove the car to a corner of the road, entering an area surrounded with houses with red roofs on top.
Baekhyun paid for the taxi fare and thanked the man before he walked out of the car, standing confusingly in front of a house. He took a glance at the picture on his phone, making sure that the place was correct as his eyes shifted around. He guessed it was right because he saw the same landmark on the way there and that was the only nearest neighborhood around the area.
He decided to text Chanyeol and tell him that he had arrived, but Chanyeol didn’t immediately reply to his text. Maybe he was busy, Baekhyun thought to himself.
When he looked around again, there was a nagging feeling in him that this place should be familiar, as if he had been there countless times before. It was such a ridiculous thought as he had never gone to Seoul.
Even though he was afraid of standing alone in an unfamiliar place, relief washed through his body as he saw a middle-aged woman, probably around his father’s age walking slowly outside to her porch. He studied the woman for a while, noting that she was holding a heavy box in her hands, seemingly unbalanced as she tried to open the gates. Without hesitating, Baekhyun approached the woman when she finally unlocked the gates, making sure that he didn’t look like a creepy person.
“Ahjumma, let me help you.”
The woman looked surprised, but the fear was shoved away when she saw a sincere smile on Baekhyun’s face.
“Thank you, young man.”
“Where should I put this box?” Baekhyun asked, holding the box tightly in his hands. It was really heavy, but Baekhyun pitied the woman for carrying such a heavy load.
“There. You can put there beside the dustbin,” she said, finger pointing at a black dustbin in front of the gates. Baekhyun nodded his head before he stepped forward and placed the box on the street.
“You’re really kind,” the woman said when Baekhyun finally stood in front of her, smiling.
“No, I just wanted to help,” Baekhyun said.
The woman studied Baekhyun’s face for a moment. “I’ve never seen you around before.”
“Ah, I’m actually finding someone here. His name is Park Chanyeol. Do you happen to know him?”
“Oh, are you talking about that tall lad with the deep voice?”
Baekhyun nodded his head several times, scratching the back of his neck. “Yes, I think we’re talking about the same person here. Actually, I just wanted to make sure whether this is the right address or not. I’m from Gangwondo.”
“Gangwondo? That’s quite far from here. What are you doing here? Are you studying here?” the woman asked nicely.
“No, I am just visiting him. I might return to my hometown tomorrow the fastest,” Baekhyun replied and smiled.
“Your friend… I think he just went out just now,” the woman added, pointing her finger to a road junction nearest. “His house is just over there, the one with no cars in the porch,” she gestured to a house, and Baekhyun thought he was lucky that the driver dropped him at the right place, and that he didn’t have to walk further to Chanyeol’s house. When his eyes continued to look at the house, he suddenly felt something tugging at his heart.
“Yes, I already know about that. He told me to wait first. Is it okay if I wait for him here, if you don’t mind?” Baekhyun asked politely when he looked at the woman again. He was fiddling with his fingers, unsure of what to do at that moment.
The woman nodded her head. “Do you want to go inside and have a drink first while you wait for your friend?”
Baekhyun bowed again. “No, it’s fine. I can wait for him here outside.”
The woman smiled and said nothing. She gestured to her house before she walked inside. Baekhyun rubbed his cheeks several times, feeling a bit tired. His stomach also growled, and that was when he remembered that he hadn’t taken his lunch yet. He squatted outside the gate and settled down his belongings on the road. A brief moment later, the same woman walked outside, this time bringing a plastic chair with her and a pile of paper in her left hand. Baekhyun quickly stood up.
“Here, sit here. You must be tired,” she said, as she put the chair inside the porch. Baekhyun had no choice but to walk inside, thanking the woman for her kindness.
“Thank you,” he thanked the woman once again.
“And this is Chanyeol’s. He wasn’t at home when the postman came so I had to sign for him first. Would you mind giving these to him later when he arrives?”
Baekhyun was hesitating, but he eventually held out his hands to take the letters, and he nodded his head. The woman gave a smile before she walked inside her house, leaving Baekhyun to read the cover of the letters. He wasn’t paying attention to them at first, considering that perhaps they were Chanyeol’s bills and personal letters. But when his eyes caught something familiar—extremely familiar, his mind went blank. He stared at the words, trying to comprehend everything and find the answer to his confusion, but he found nothing. He was clueless, almost like he was left behind catching the last train, and noticing that he was too late.
Right at the moment, a red car pulled out in front of him, and Baekhyun’s sight went blurry. Someone walked out of the car, and turned out it was Chanyeol, seemingly delighted and cheerful.
“Baekhyun!” Chanyeol exclaimed and he walked forward, attempting to hug Baekhyun. He missed that petite male, he missed everything about him.
Chanyeol stopped smiling. Baekhyun was still sitting on the chair, eyes locked at Chanyeol’s face. When Chanyeol noticed the familiar stare, his heart quickened. Something must have happened to Baekhyun while he was away, he thought to himself.
“Can we talk inside?”
“Y-Yeah sure. I was about to bring you—”
Chanyeol’s words were cut off. He remained silent, not knowing what was going on. Without any words, he opened the gate and asked Baekhyun to walk inside. Chanyeol turned to look at the male. There were tears on Baekhyun’s cheek. Baekhyun was crying. Chanyeol fought the urge to hug Baekhyun at that moment, even though he might be pushed away if he did so. What happened to Baekhyun?
When they were in the living room, Baekhyun stood right in front of the opened door, completely silent. He didn’t even bother to put his belongings on the floor, let alone showing the letters to Chanyeol. But he was too weak. Slowly, the crumpled letters fell from his grip, and that was when Chanyeol finally realized that he was completely busted.
“Care to explain everything to me?”
“It wasn’t intentional. I was just—”
“I just don’t fucking care whether it was fucking intentional or not. Why would you have these letters?” Baekhyun’s voice quivered. He still managed to keep his voice low, trying his hardest to control his anger. Everything crumbled. His trust, his life, his friend and Chanyeol. He didn’t know who he should trust now.
Chanyeol’s eyes shifted to look at the letters on the floor. There, Baekhyun’s handwriting was clear on sight, and Chanyeol knew he had completely lost Baekhyun’s faith and trust on him.
“So you already knew who Jongdae is?” Baekhyun asked.
“So you knew all along that I was sending the letters to a wrong person, yet you still pretended you knew nothing about this?”
The truth hurt, but Chanyeol had no choice other than nodding his head silently. He knew Baekhyun was hurt. But he was hurting too.
“Jongdae used to live here before,” Chanyeol started off slowly. He grabbed a handful of his hair before letting some of the strands to fall on his head. “I really didn’t know what I had done at that time. All I ever thought was you. I didn’t want you to feel devastated waiting for something that wouldn’t happen.”
“But that doesn’t mean you could cheat on me!”
“I tried looking for Jongdae, okay? I even asked people around if they know who Jongdae is. Do you think it is still my fault? You don’t even know what I’ve gone through to tell you everything, Baekhyun. I had a hard time too handling this situation.”
“But you shouldn’t have done that in the first place! You should just ignore the fucking letters and let me deal this pain by myself!”
“Because I have fallen in love with the Byun Baekhyun in the letters! Goddamn it you wouldn’t even understand how I feel, would you?”
Baekhyun fell silent. He wasn’t expecting for that answer. Perhaps, it was best if everything was revealed at that moment while they were at it.
“I didn’t expect that I would find your letters though. When I read your letters, all I could imagine was someone hanging on a thin string of faith, and I knew I shouldn’t let you go. I did try looking for Jongdae, ask the neighbors here if any of them know where Jongdae is, but no one knows him. I couldn’t leave you alone, because I know how it sucks to be left by someone you love. And I don’t want it to happen to you.”
Baekhyun’s eyes felt heavy. He hardly blinked, worrying that the tears might blur his sight.
“So I read all those letters you wrote for Jongdae. I dug everything and found out that he hadn’t replied to some of your letters. I even laughed when I read your terrible jokes about Mr. Shin. I almost cried when you wrote about your father in your letters. I pretended that all those letters were meant for me when they weren’t in the first place. I read everything in one night, trying to piece everything together to know about you. It sounds stupid, but I have fallen in love with everything about you. I fell in love with your handwritings, your ways of telling your story, your funny choice of words. You always misspell laugh as ‘laf’ but I thought it is just one of your charms. And I like it.”
“Chanyeol, just stop…”
“That was when a miracle happened. I think God was showing the right path for me, guiding me straight to you, so that I would know who the real Byun Baekhyun is. I told you I went to your village for an assignment project right? I straightaway thought about you when my lecturer asked us to choose a historical place to do our research. I didn’t hesitate when I was asked to choose the place. It was because I know you are there. I longed to meet you after I read all those letters,” Chanyeol let out a chuckle. He fluttered his eyes closed, probably wondering where he got such a gut to tell Baekhyun everything. “But strangely enough, I didn’t recognize you the first time we met. I felt like a stupid man because I had no guts to ask people whether or not they know you. And that was when I found you,” he added and stared at Baekhyun, whose eyes were welling up with tears already.
“You are so stupid. This is just ridiculous.”
Chanyeol’s face went gloomy. He had prepared his heart for something like this. He knew he had done wrong. Baekhyun shouldn’t even forgive him. “I don’t want to force you doing something that you don’t want to. Love is not something that can be forced, I know that,” Chanyeol said, words coming out from his mouth were spoken one by one, as if trying to make Baekhyun understand that he was sincere with everything he did to the petite male.
Baekhyun didn’t answer. He let his gaze fall on the floor, and he clearly saw his name written on one of the letters as the sender.
“If leaving me is your choice, then I’ll agree. I’ll forget you,” Chanyeol said. He gulped regretfully and shook his head. “I’m—I’m really sorry for the lies, but trust me, my heart has been truthful to you from the first day I read those letters.”
And that was it, Chanyeol’s words were gone with the wind along with Baekhyun, who silently walked away without turning back.
Christmas was just two days away and Baekhyun had long stopped writing to Jongdae, knowing that he couldn’t locate where that man was. All of his efforts to contact the man went futile, because nobody knew where Jongdae was. He didn’t leave his phone number to any friends, and he just disappeared completely from Baekhyun’s sight.
Baekhyun remembered it well, when on the same day he returned to Gangwondo, he hurriedly went to Sehun’s house, forgetting the fact that it was almost midnight. He wanted nothing else. He just needed some confirmation. And Sehun had the answer to it.
“You knew it all along, no?”
“That it wasn’t Jongdae who wrote the letter.”
“I tried to warn you.”
“But it didn’t seem convincing enough. You should’ve forced me to believe you. I feel stupid now, Sehun. What have I done?” Baekhyun sobbed, slowly leaning his head against the wall and banging it, completely ashamed of himself. He wasn’t really mad at Chanyeol to be completely honest. It was more like, he himself was confused of his feelings. He never had someone confessing to him like what Chanyeol did, and he somewhat liked it. It warmed his heart, knowing that someone liked him silently, even if it was through letters. Whenever Baekhyun remembered that bubbly face, his cheeks flushed with embarrassment.
“Chanyeol is a good man, Baekhyun. Believe me,” Sehun kept nodding his head.
“Should I believe you this time around?” Baekhyun asked. His eyes were swollen enough from crying too much, from not having too much of a sleep during his ride on the train to Gangwondo. He kept thinking about Chanyeol all night long, regretting that he just left the man without any words. Sehun just laughed.
“No worries, Baek.” He ruffled Baekhyun’s hair. “I’m sure he’ll come and look for you if he really likes you.”
This time, Baekhyun knew that Sehun’s words were all bullshit. He didn’t receive any call from Chanyeol, not even a single text message. He thought that the man might be busy with his studies, but why didn’t he at least leave a message telling that he was really sorry? Baekhyun didn’t care if the message sounded cheesy or what, but he slowly learnt that he was actually in love with Chanyeol too during those short moments they were together.
It was ridiculous, and Baekhyun couldn’t think straight.
But it was Park Chanyeol who made him think twice, that perhaps he should start learning how to stop loving Kim Jongdae.
Being Byun Baekhyun, he still needed Chanyeol to prove to him once again that he really meant his words.
Christmas finally arrived faster than Baekhyun had thought. Time seemed to tick so fast and the next second Baekhyun knew, the outside surroundings were already filled with snow. He was delighted, because he got to experience the snow once again. And knowing that his mom wasn’t here to celebrate the Christmas together, his heart plummeted.
Slowly, he raised up from his seat and walked towards his father’s bedroom.
The room was quiet, only filled with the sound of his father’s snores. Baekhyun put up a smile as he took a thicker blanket, enveloping his father so he wouldn’t freeze.
It was still early in the morning, and Baekhyun didn’t have to go to work too. Mr. Shin told all his workers to celebrate their Christmas today, and even though there was really nothing to do on Christmas, Baekhyun was more than happy. He got to spend his quality time with his father, perhaps reminiscing the moments they had together when his mother was still alive. Except that maybe his father wouldn’t remember anything about the car crash.
Baekhyun left the room and walked towards the kitchen, deciding to prepare some breakfast for his father when the man woke up later. But as he made his way to the area, someone knocked on the door, hastily and seemingly hurried.
The sounds startled Baekhyun, especially when he didn’t expect any visitors on Christmas morning. Slowly, he padded across the house and opened the door, only to find someone, too familiar. Someone who was stupid enough not to come early and take Baekhyun’s heart back.
“Merry Christmas, Baekhyun,” Chanyeol greeted the male, pulling up a smile on his face. He was freezing cold, perhaps he’d been standing there outside for quite some time.
Baekhyun chuckled, tears started to brim behind his eyes.
“Idiot,” he whispered, before pulling the taller male closer for a kiss, and Baekhyun still thought that living in the countryside wasn’t that bad, because someone from Seoul had finally come to him to fill his days with joy and eternal spring.