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Tonight, I'm Afraid of the Dark - 10cm
Weeks started to fly by, and the EXO house was only filled with friendship and happiness.
Naeun and Baekhyun, of course, were as close as ever, never bothering to think about the future. They only thought about the present.
One night, Naeun had volunteered to make dinner with Chen and Suho so that D.O didn’t have to.
“Bless your little human soul!” D.O had said to her.
On the menu tonight was cheesy lasagna. Naeun knew the recipe off by heart from years of living by herself back down on Earth. The EXO boys (who were starved and hadn’t eaten foreign food except Korean for so long), started wolfing down everything as fast as they could.
The residents in the house were almost done eating everything when someone kicked her in the shin. Naeun jumped, dropping her fork, and yelped in both surprise and pain.
Everyone stopped whatever they were doing and stared at Naeun quizzically. She scanned everyone’s face for a guilty expression when she noticed Baekhyun eating away with a nonchalant expression.
Kris, who was sitting on one side of her, picked up her fork and gave it to Naeun, “Wae?”
Naeun shot a fast glare at Baekhyun and merely broke out into a simple smile, “It’s nothing, Kris oppa. Go back to eating.” At once, everyone went back to their dinner.
As Naeun was drinking her glass of juice, she felt something slip into the palm of her hand under the table. Confused, she furtively glanced around the table to see if anyone was looking. They weren’t.
Secretively, she opened the slip of paper and scanned it quickly, reading it over.
Meet me up at the tree after dinner?
Naeun softly smiled and caught Baekhyun’s gaze. Baekhyun looked sheepish and mouthed, ‘Sorry about your shin.’
Naeun rolled her eyes but looked forward to meeting Baekhyun at their special place. D.O, being the mother that he was, absolutely prevented them from having any public displays of affection in the household.
Baekhyun was thinking along the same lines and D.O, who was comfortably eating his lasagna piece, looked up to see the couple staring at him.
He stared at them with his big eyes, bewildered. “…What?”
“Nothing.” They both said and went back to their dinner.
After Naeun dumped all the dishes into the sink for Chanyeol and Tao to clean, she looked for Baekhyun. Apparently, he had already left, as there was not one trace of him in sight.
Shaking her head, she headed for the front entrance and hurriedly slipped on her shoes, opening the door. Luhan, who was harmlessly passing by, blinked at her.
“Mei-mei? Where are you going?” He tilted his head to the side in wonder.
“I’ll be back soon. Luhan, cover for me and Baekhyun, please!” Naeun apologetically smiled as she ran out.
“Mei-mei, wait!” Luhan reached, but Naeun already left. He let out a hopeless smile and closed the door.
“Baekhyun!” Naeun whispered loudly when she finally reached the tree, “Baekhyun oppa!” No response.
Naeun scratched her head. It was pitch black outside, with the exception of the stars and the moon, anyways. It seemed kind of… spooky. Tall trees cast ghostly shadows on the floor.
“Baekhyun…?” A cold gust of wind made her shiver and she suddenly wished that she could’ve brought a jacket. *Maybe he’s not here…* She turned around when a voice called out, “Naeun?”
Naeun flipped around, “Baekhyun!” She peered up at the tops of some nearby trees when she found a familiar figure perched up on one. Baekhyun made a motion with his hand, and an orb of light flew out, lingering in the air beside him.
“Naeun, climb up!” He motioned her over as she tried to climb up. When she was finally making progress, she grabbed one of its branches.
SNAP! The branch cracked easily. Before Naeun could go tumbling down to a painful fall, Baekhyun slipped his hand in hers and pulled her up easily. Baekhyun pulled with too much force as Naeun rolled on top of him and hovered over his figure.
Naeun stared down at him with wide eyes as Baekhyun gaped.
At once, the two both let out snorts of laughter and got up from their awkward positions. Baekhyun smiled and d her cheek, “Is your leg okay? Sorry. That’s the only way I could’ve got your attention.”
Naeun made a face, “It still hurts, but I’m alright.” Baekhyun apologetically smiled and scooted back until his back touched the base of the trunk. He clapped his hands and spread out his arms, as Naeun smiled and happily went into them.
Baekhyun’s arms wrapped around her small, frail body as he closed his eyes, content. The two stayed like that for who-knows-how-long when a question began churning in Naeun’s mind.
“You’re… dead, right?”
Naeun felt Baekhyun stiffen from behind her. A minute passed, and Baekhyun began to relax again. He absentmindedly played with her long, dark hair as he nodded.
“Yes… I am.”
Naeun gazed up at the moon sadly, “Then, would you mind telling me… How you… passed away?”
Baekhyun let out a pained sigh and in the cool, fresh air. Very lightly, he pushed Naeun back to him as she found herself leaning against him. Baekhyun slowly touched her chin and turned it so that she was looking into his eyes.
His gaze contained unexplainable sorrow. “Are you that curious?”
Naeun nodded, “But if you don’t want to tell me…”
Baekhyun shook his head, “I will. I should.” He let out a thoughtful hum, “You see, I… was very young when I… died.”
Naeun was still and very quiet, careful not to interrupt him.
“The reason for all that… was because of me.”
Naeun looked puzzled, “I’m afraid I don’t understand.”
Baekhyun bit his lip nervously. He felt guilt and shame riding up his shoulders.
“I killed myself. I committed suicide.”
Naeun’s eyes went wide as saucers, “You… committed suicide.” Her jaw was slightly open in shock.
“Yes, I did.” He admitted, “And it wasn’t pretty.”
Still, Naeun didn’t interrupt him or question him. She kept silent all the way. This gave Baekhyun a chance to continue.
“You see, I… was unwanted. I was abandoned by my parents a year after I was given birth to. Obviously, I was sent to the orphanage, and stayed there until I was eight. I had a very close friend there. His name was Hasung.” Just the mere mention of his name made Baekhyun embarrassed of himself and his past actions. No tears were squeezing out from his eyes, just humiliation.
“…I’m sorry, where was I again?” Baekhyun zoned out. Naeun calmly responded, “You were talking about your friend.”
“Oh. Yes, Hasung. His name was given to him by the orphanage’s principal. Well, she wasn’t really a principal, but the children always called her that because the orphanage was constructed into a school-like building. The head of them all was the ‘principal’.” He further explained.
“Anyways, Hasung was very much like me. No… He suffered much more. Hasung was abandoned as well, but as soon as he was given birth to, his mother died. His father didn’t want to be burdened by him, and he became crazy in the head after losing his wife. Psychotic, really. He blamed everything on Hasung, and refused to give him a name. Left him on a park bench the next day.” He shook his head.
“But the stunning thing is that Hasung wasn’t an angry child. He was calm, composed, and always smiling. He never cried about anything, for as long as I was there. He always liked to look at the positive side of things and would never think of killing himself or ending his life when he had so much potential to accomplish other goals in life.” Baekhyun unconsciously smiled.
Naeun softened, “So he was your role-model?”
“I guess so. Yeah. Something like that.” Baekhyun rested his head on top of Naeun’s and closed his eyes, reminiscing.
“But I, on the other hand, wasn’t like that at all.”
Naeun blinked, stunned by his words.
“I was no angel. I detested my parents for leaving me. I hated them with a burning passion. I couldn’t believe that Hasung could be so… so alright with his past. If anything, I wanted to change myself. I hated myself. Whenever I saw Hasung’s point of view, I wondered if I could become like that too, but I always gave up. I knew that I had so much anger and corruption in me that I wanted to give up everything. I had no happiness. I was living in a cage, but I couldn’t do anything about it until I was old enough to live on my own and move out of the orphanage.” He kept his eyes closed as he whispered words at a lightning fast speed. Naeun had to listen carefully in order to catch everything he said.
“In the end, one day, I finally decided to give up. That was the day when Hasung was taken in by a wealthy family. The mother was unable to conceive a child, and when they walked in, who did they see? Hasung. The perfect, polite kid that they gladly adopted.” Baekhyun didn’t say this with jealousy, but more of regret. “I couldn’t survive anymore knowing that Hasung wouldn’t be there for me as a friend anymore. Even though he left, saying that he would never forget me, I couldn’t handle it anymore. The pressure just caved down on me.”
By this time, Naeun was sitting in between his legs, looking straight into his eyes, her knees bent towards her chest. Automatically, Naeun’s hands slowly made their way up to his face as she cupped his cheek in sympathy, “And then…?”
“And then one afternoon, when no one was looking, I sorted through the principal’s medicine cabinet drawer and feasted on every pill that was found in there. I kept taking them until I blacked out. Before the people at the orphanage found me, I was already dead.”
Baekhyun’s whisper was as quiet as possible. It seemed loud in the hush of the night. Naeun put a hand toward her lips in shock.
Baekhyun sadly smiled, “After that, I was face to face with none other than the great Himself. The voice had told me that I would be taken in as an angel, but punished for my crime. I heard that I would be challenged with hard decisions. When I found ‘the one’, I would have to give up my wings—the necessity for every angel—and be punished so that that person could live on. That was my fate.” He paused to breathe, “At that time, I didn’t understand it, but I dared not to disobey Him.”
Baekhyun opened his eyes and d Naeun’s hair, “But now, I realize why. Naeun, no matter how many times I have to suffer, if I had the chance, I would always give up my wings for you. Always.” Naeun closed her eyes as Baekhyun kissed her forehead and smiled when he pulled away. “Meeting that small, sickly girl caged up in that hospital was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“Baekhyun...” Naeun leaned in and hugged him tightly, “It’s not your fault.” She bit her lip to stop the tears from falling, “It’s never your fault.”
“I… Naeun, thank you.” Baekhyun murmured, “I understand it all, now. If I hadn’t done what I did, I’d have never met you that one, fateful day. You gave me happiness. You gave me—no—you are my reason to smile.”
Naeun was awe-struck and deeply touched by his tender words. She could tell that he meant it. She rested the side of her head against his beating heart, “But Baekhyun oppa, please promise me something.”
“Anything.” He mumbled as he buried his face in her hair.
“If there ever comes a time when you have to give up your wings and suffer again… Please don’t. Promise me that, oppa. For me.” She whispered.
Baekhyun froze, “Naeun, I—“ *I can’t promise you that.*
But Naeun wouldn’t hear it. “Please, oppa. You have to promise me this one thing. It’ll mean the world to me.” She gazed up at his handsome face and pleaded with her expression. Slowly, she held up her pinky, “Oppa…”
Baekhyun couldn’t bring to let her down. He let out a light sigh and smiled, intertwining her pinky with his, “I… promise.” *But that doesn’t mean that I will let you suffer in my place.* He pulled down their hooked pinkies and closed his eyes as Naeun reached up, pulling him into a kiss under the moonlight.
I should’ve known. Naeun-ah… Already knew everything.
I was the only one who didn’t know.
The calm before the storm.
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