THE STORY LEFT UNTOLD
You didn’t know why but you came knocking on Lu Han’s door right on the next hour after Chanyeol showed you the video. After he unlocked the door, the Chinese boy was looking at you with sympathetic eyes before he brought you into his arms and covered your body with his warmth.
“Are you okay?” Lu Han asked, placing his chin on the top of your head.
“No.” You closed your eyes and deeply sighed, letting out half of the tension that had been pressuring your mind. “I’m not...”
Lu Han ran his hand softly through your hair. “You wanna talk about it?”
You didn’t answer but he seemed to know what you were hesitating to say, so Lu Han gave a small peck on your temple before he took you delicately by the hand and allowed you to enter his room. “I’ll be here whenever you’re ready to speak,” he said, sitting down on his bed while you walked to Baekhyun’s, which stood right across it. The bed was empty and you hesitated for a second before you finally took a seat on the edge of it.
“Baekhyun hasn’t come back here since yesterday,” Lu Han suddenly said. Maybe he noticed how you were asking for his presence by your eyes even though you tried so hard to hide it.
“Is he...” You suddenly felt your throat dry out in an instant. “Is he all right?”
“If by ‘all right’ you mean sleeping around with random girls and not calling them in the morning, then...” Lu Han sighed. “No, he’s not all right.”
You blinked twice. “What do you mean?”
“I mean,” Lu Han explained, “I haven’t seen Baekhyun being grossly intimate with any girls for the last few days.” Then he furrowed his eyebrows together as he swam through the details. “Actually, I haven’t seen him like that in weeks. I don’t even remember the last time I saw him staring at some girl’s . He only looked at you.”
“Me?” you repeated, a bit awed.
“Yes, you.” Lu Han rolled his eyes impatiently. “Truth be told, I think Baekhyun only has his eyes on you for a while.”
You frowned upon his words, still not quite believing that he just said that. Responding to his sentences, you let out a weak, shallow laugh with no humor whatsoever, and said back, “Are you lying right now? Because really, Lu Han, I don’t need you to cover up his fault and—”
“Hey, hey,” Lu Han responded, “I’m only telling you what I saw, all right? He's been looking a bit off since that day he got back from your studio. I mean like, he always seemed so happy whenever he saw you dance, and then he suddenly got depressed so I was a bit afraid when I saw him looking like that that day.”
“What?” you asked, voice rising in shock. “Okay, I have like so many questions I want to ask from that line you just said. First of all,” you raised a finger in front of him, “what do you mean by ‘whenever he saw me dance’? I don’t remember I ever danced in front of him before.”
“Err...” Lu Han looked like a deer caught in the headlights. “Maybe I shouldn’t have told you that...?”
“Told me what?” you insisted.
Luhan exhaled loudly. “Okay, look,” he started saying. “I’m Baekhyun’s roommate, all right? And even though I at it, I can still proudly acknowledge myself as one of his best friends. And let me tell you, Baekhyun has never done anything like this before.”
You were stunned by the sudden intensity in Lu Han’s voice. The older boy never talked to you with so much seriousness in his words before. “Anything like what?” you slowly asked.
“I don’t know, like...” Lu Han moved his eyes to every part of the room, as if he was searching for something before finally set them back to yours. “See, Baekhyun and I were about to go, you know, hang around with some chicks from the dance department, so we went there, just casually walking around and checking some hot girls practicing in the studio, and then Baekhyun just stopped. Do you know why in the freaking hell did he stop?”
You could guess, of course, and you knew where this conversation was going, but you kept your mouth shut and just waited for his further explanation.
“You. He stopped because of you,” Lu Han said, and although you were already expecting this kind of answer, it still made your cheeks blushed and your heart fluttered.
“He saw me dance?” you asked, mouth suddenly dry.
“He didn’t just see, if you ask me.” Lu Han scoffed. “From the intensity of his look, I bet he remembered every move that you made, every expression you put on your face, probably even counting every breath that you took that day for God’s sake! Maybe you don’t believe me, but I swear to God, I’ve never seen him looking at any girl in that way. The look in his eyes didn’t seem like he wanted to you against the dance mirror until the break of dawn.” Lu Han gave a small teasing smile when he saw you grimaced at his words, before he continued, “No, he was looking at you like he was adoring you—as gross as it sounds. Like you were the most beautiful girl on earth. Like you were the only girl in his world.” He snorted loudly at the end. “Maybe you think I’m being dramatic—well, maybe I am, a little, you know how I am—but if you see what I saw, you’d take your words back. Believe me.”
You tried to pull yourself together and stayed ignorant to his words. “I don’t know what you’re trying to do here,” you said, voice much colder than before. “But I suggest you stop telling me lies like this because it’s not gonna work on me.”
“Suit yourself.” Lu Han shrugged offhandedly. “You know that maybe I’m a lot of things, but a liar I am not. Especially not in a moment like this. That’s one thing I can guarantee.”
It was true. Lu Han was never a liar. Sometimes, he told so many truths straight to your face, he scared you.
Lu Han didn’t seem like he wanted to explain anything more, but then he let out a heavy breath as he stated, “Listen, I know what happened between you two.”
“You do?” Your eyes flickered away. “But... But I've never told anyone about this.”
“Well, it’s not that hard to guess, really,” Lu Han replied. “I mean everybody knows that you two have been using each other for . It’s just a matter of time until those unintentional feelings get involved. Let me guess, you saw him sleeping with another girl, right?”
“Yeah,” you spitefully said, “In my room.”
“It doesn’t matter where he did it—okay fine, maybe using your room was a bad idea, but,” Lu Han emphasized his last word so you would stop glaring at him, “you weren’t going to be this hurt and angry if you didn’t have any feelings for him on the first place, were you? Think about it.”
“I...” You opened your mouth but there was nothing you could say.
“Hey,” Lu Han called softly, moving to kneel in front of you so your eyes were in the same height as his. He cupped your face with his two delightfully warm hands and made you look at him. He rubbed comforting circles on your cheeks with his thumbs, smiling gently when he spoke. “Don’t deny it, okay? Don’t say that you don’t have feelings for him because the only one who would believe it would be you, and only you,” he said.
You exhaled, feeling a bit uptight. “Lu Han—”
“I can see it, okay?” The boy said, not giving you a chance to speak. “I can see how you couldn’t stop looking at him when we were having lunch together. I can see how you secretly smiled to yourself whenever he laughed. I can see how captivated you were whenever he accidently locked his gaze with yours. And it’s not just me, everybody can see it, really.”
You were sure your cheeks were now colored with a shade of red. “T-that obvious, huh?”
“Too obvious.” Lu Han smiled a little. “See, you always said that Chanyeol and his girlfriend were so grossed from being all lovey dovey and publicly declaring their love to the world. But if you ask me, I honestly think that you two are much, much more disgusting than that idiot couple.”
“Hey, that’s mean,” you pouted and Lu Han’s eyes shaped into a smile too. He pinched your cheeks with his thumbs and index fingers before he took a seat next to you.
“You know, Baekhyun isn’t any better either,” he said, huffing a bit. “Maybe you’re too engrossed on how charming he was—and by the way, I am insulted with the way you think he deserves more attention that I do—so you’ve never noticed how he was looking at you in the same way. Well,” Lu Han shrugged again. “He does put a better act than you do, but it’s not that hard to figure out that he likes you too. Possibly even more!”
You went quiet when your thoughts flew back to what Baekhyun had said in the video. Lu Han’s words only put more truth on what Baekhyun had admitted to Chanyeol, and you wanted, you really wanted to believe any of those things he said. You just weren’t ready.
Lu Han could tell how you were so anxious about it, so he tried his best to help you sort things out.
“Hey, do you want to know something I’ve learned from being friends with Baek?” he asked, not really needing an answer back. “I’m maybe not that close to him the way Chanyeol is, but I’m smart enough to know that the reason why Baekhyun tends to hurt you—or people in general, actually—is because he’s trying to protect himself. He’s trying to test you; to know how far you’re willing to be close to him; to see how far you care about him so he can start putting all of his trust on you. He wants to make sure that you’re gonna stay for who he is and not just going to abandon him after you’re finished using him for your benefit.”
Your eyebrows were knitted together when you asked, “What?”
“You seem to be surprised.” Lu Han paused to give you a frail smile as you watched him attentively. “But he does that to everyone, really. I still remember how he tried so, so hard to piss me off so I would think something like ‘holy ing macaroni, this guy is such an , why the am I trying to be friends with him?’ and then decide to leave him alone.” Lu Han smiled smugly when he continued his story. “But you know how stubborn I am, right? The more he resisted me, the more I became curious on why he was trying to push me away. Until one day, he gave up on trying to shove me away and just, well... He decided to trust me. And so, we became friends after that.” He laughed a bit as he added more information. “You should ask Chanyeol what Baek did to him when they first met in high school. My God, if I thought Baek treated me with the attitude of Satan, I clearly hadn’t seen nothing yet, because that goof had to endure more mental pain than I had.”
“Why did you still want to be his friend?” you asked, because this was something beyond your comprehension. “I mean, if it’s clear that he hates you and tries to push you away, isn’t it better to just, you know, stay away from him?”
“Ah, that’s where you’re wrong, little dongsaeng.” Lu Han answered, wiggling a finger in front of your face. “Baekhyun didn’t give the impression that he hated me—I mean, yeah, maybe everyone thought so, but for me, it wasn’t like that. I’m a lawyer—“ You shot a glare at his direction. “Yeah okay, fine, I’m still not a lawyer yet, but in the future I’ll be—you know what, that’s not the point.”
You smiled at his behavior. “Please, continue.”
He pinched the bridge of your nose before he spoke again. “I’m saying that it’s my job to see people through their lies. Defining the hidden meaning from every kind of action, or words, or even a glance from people’s eyes is what I can do.” Lu Han grinned. “So I knew that that little son of a was trying to test me. And you know how I just hate to lose, right? This was a game that I was trying to win, so I didn’t give up and just crawled my way back until he lost and succumbed to me.”
“My God, you’re evil,” you stated, making a face.
“No, I’m an angel. Do you know why I call myself that?”
“Because you’re an arrogant ?”
“No, honey~” He poked you on the side of your stomach until you winced in pain. “The other reason why I stayed—why I kept on trying to be close to him, was because I felt sorry for the guy. He had trust issues—still has, probably. And that’s not something you can just get by easily. Maybe he didn’t mean to hurt me, or Chanyeol, or you, or anyone, really. Maybe he didn’t intend to put his guard on and test you that you’re worthy of his trust. Maybe he just couldn’t help it.”
You fell into a moment of silence as his words started to sink in and made more sense than before.
“And, you know, Baekhyun isn’t that bad,” Lu Han admitted. “Yes, maybe he does behave like a cheeky for most of the times. And yes, maybe I want to shove a pile of bird s down his throat whenever he opens that goddamn cocky mouth of his. But he’s really loyal when he’s sure that you’re a person he can trust. From all the entire time we’ve been friends, I’ve seen moments where Baekhyun stood up for me when nobody else did. Even if he calls me names, or smacks me on the face with his girly punch every now and then, I have never ever felt that he was betraying me behind my back.”
You hummed in understanding and Lu Han suddenly gagged. “My God, what am I doing? I just spent—“ he stopped to check his watch “—approximately twenty-seven minutes and thirty-one seconds of my life trying to convince you how great that bastard is. He better pay me for this.”
You didn’t smile or give any kind of similar reactions at his joke, and Lu Han ruffled your hair before he hugged you from the side in a friendly manner.
“Will you do me a favor?” he asked, and it was a rhetorical question. “Stop thinking about your feelings for one second and try to understand his, will you?” Lu Han closed his eyes and placed his chin on a spot above your head. “He seems strong on the outside, but he’s just as hurt as you are right now. Remember that.”
Your conversation with Lu Han did light up some sparks inside you. You weren’t as angry as you were about him before, although you did feel kind of upset for a moment there, but not because of him. You were mad at yourself for not trying to grasp on what he was experiencing on the inside. You deluded yourself too much with your own feelings and anger and you finally realized it now that you weren’t being fair to him.
So you tried to give yourself and Baekhyun a second chance to dwell in this matter together. You were willing to talk about it, about this, but you didn’t get the chance to do so because Baekhyun was still missing. You told Lu han to give you a call the second Baekhyun got back to his room, but even though your phone was fully-charged and stayed on for the next twenty four hours, there was no call coming through.
On the next day, a consistent knocking on your door woke you up.
“Are you coming?” your friend asked you as soon as you opened the door and allowed her in. She was dressed in a formal black dress, with a matching colored veil placed beautifully on her head, covering her long auburn locks.
“Why are you dressed like that?” you questioned back, rubbing your eyes away from sleep. “And coming where?”
“To the funeral,” she answered, with a sorrowful look on her eyes. When she didn’t catch a single understanding look from you, she explained more. “Baekhyun’s step brother, Huang Zitao, passed away. Haven’t you heard?”
“What?” You felt like you just got a bucket full of ice thrown upon you. “When?!”
“I’m not sure. About two days ago, I guess?”
Your jaw dropped even further to the floor. “I haven’t heard anything about this before!”
“I was surprised too,” she responded. “I wouldn’t have known anything about this if Chanyeol didn’t tell me this morning. They’re going to bury him today, and umm... Chanyeol and the others have went there first—Baekhyun went with them too, I think. He didn’t particularly ask us to come, considering how you two are...” You knew she wanted to say the word fighting but decided not to at the last second. “But I just think that maybe we should all come along to support him, you know? Baekhyun, I mean. So are you going to—”
You were already out from her sight before she was finished. It didn’t take more than a half an hour for you to get ready for the occasion, and it was quite of an achievement to be able to dress yourself properly considering how shaky your hands were from receiving the sudden news.
All you could think about in that moment was: Is Baekhyun all right?
The first thing you noticed the moment you stepped on Huang Zitao’s family house was that Baekhyun was nowhere to be seen. Your friend was busy greeting Baekhyun and Tao’s family, while you looked around, passing through some black-clothed people with Baekhyun’s name threatening to fall from the tip of your tongue.
You were immensely worried about how he was handling this. You knew how much the boy cared about his stepbrother; how Zitao was the only family he got left and he treasured him well. You just couldn’t imagine how Baekhyun must have been feeling right then.
“Chanyeol!” you called as you spotted a sharply dressed tall boy standing just a few feet away from you.
“There you are!” Chanyeol said, suddenly looking all relieved. “Where have you been? Where’s Baekhyun?”
Astonished, you retorted back. “Why are you asking me—I was about to ask you!”
Chanyeol’s body went frigid and his eyes tensed when he was staring at you.
“But...” Chanyeol looked overly confused. “He just called me and told me that he was with you.”
“What?” you asked, flabbergasted. “Chanyeol, I haven’t even seen him for days!”
“Hey, I’ve been searching everywhere and—” Lu Han popped out of nowhere, wearing a nice, elegant tux with his bronze hair pushed back. He was breathing fast and his cheeks went a little red. His eyes were worried when they landed on you and he concluded that, “Baekhyun’s not here.”
You didn’t even bother to ask for more explanation because it was all clear to you that Baekhyun was trying to run away from this. He wanted to be left alone. And you should have left him there in wherever he was right now, but you couldn’t. All you could think about was that nobody should be left alone in a moment like this.
“I know where he is,” you said before you could think it well.
Chanyeol and Lu Han threw you a staggered look before the taller one asked, “W-where?”
Even if you did hear what Chanyeol said, you couldn’t have cared more for his words because all you could think about was Baekhyun and how much you wanted to see him personally. “I...” You swallowed your breath. “I need to go.”
“Wait!” Chanyeol shouted as you your heels and moved hastily towards the exit door. “I’ll come with—” You didn’t have to stop and look over your shoulders to know that Lu Han had stopped him from following you. Indistinctly, you heard Luhan saying, “Let her go by herself. She knows what to do.” And you silently thanked him for giving you the chance to work this out on your own.
You hurriedly stopped a cab to bring you back to the campus. It was fully by instinct when you raced your way to the Department of Music and went straight to the abandoned music studio: Baekhyun’s favorite spot. You didn’t know what brought you there. You didn’t even realize that you cared that much about him to actually run your way there just to see him and be there for him. You didn’t remember that you were supposed to be fighting, or at least arguing after things that happened between you two. Or maybe you did, but you just didn’t care.
You were gasping and panting heavily when you stopped just about a meter away from the studio’s door. You winced a little as you walked closer to it because your high heels were not meant to be used for running, but you did it anyway and now you could feel how the back skin of your right heel started to bruise.
You knew your guess was right when you heard a familiar song came from behind the door. It was coming from a piano and you felt a shiver ran down your spine when you realized how painful it was to hear it right now. This tune was the one Baekhyun played for you on your first day visiting this place—the one he'd called “Eternally Lost”. And although the song had sad meanings behind it, the keys and chords he was using were beautiful and heartwarming. Today’s arrangement though, was filled with nothing but sadness, crushing your heart to the ground as the slower tempo played in your ears.
You didn’t bother knocking before you let yourself in, but you called his name in the softest way you could manage so you wouldn’t surprise him. He stopped playing the piano but didn’t turn to glance at you when he heard your voice.
Seeing that he didn’t yell or throw you out from the room, you decided to go inside, slipping your way from the door.
“Hey,” you said, wanting to get a respond from him but the boy just stayed silent and continued playing with the piano keys. He was dressed in a black suit, but he didn’t wear a tie and you noticed how he had mis-buttoned his shirt. His hair was a mess and unmaintained, and there were bags under his eyes as if he hadn’t been sleeping for days.
It crushed your heart seeing Baekhyun like this.
“Can I sit with you?” you faintly asked.
He didn’t answer, but he also didn’t give a ‘no’ sign with his gesture so you took the bait and sat quietly beside him.
You listened to his play earnestly and realized halfway through the song that the way he was playing right now was awful. The tempo was off and sometimes his fingers slipped and pressed the wrong keys. Those mistakes kept on repeating like that until Baekhyun was slamming his fingers to the piano angrily and finally stopped with an abrupt movement.
“!” he cursed, standing up and running his hands through his hair, possibly yanking at the roots to tell himself to get a hold of his mind. He swore for a couple of times more while biting his lip and walked back and forth in a line inside the room.
“Baekhyun,” you called, eyes moving to match his movement. He looked frustrated and immensely furious. You were slightly afraid to get your presence noticed by him, but you just had to. “Baekhyun, calm down.”
“DON’T—” Baekhyun suddenly raised his voice so loudly, it made you flinch and you froze on your seat, a bit terrified. “DON’T YOU DARE TRY AND TELL ME TO CALM DOWN!”
You nibbled worriedly at your lower lip, trying to convince yourself that Baekhyun wasn’t going to hurt you no matter how upset he was right now. “Baekhyun—”
“TAO IS DEAD!” Baekhyun stopped to look at you and this time you got to see his face clearly. Tears were glazing in his eyes, but they never fell down. He didn't allow them to. From where you were sitting, you could tell how his shoulders were trembling with anger. “How could you ask me to calm down when he’s ing dead and—” He started wheezing, and he placed a hand against his chest. He continued yelling some words too fast for you to understand the whole thing, and you were too focused on how his hands were shaking with tremors.
“Baekhyun.” You stood up from your seat, looking intently at him with a more than concerned look on your face. You raised both of your hands to calm him down but it didn’t do anything much other than upsetting him even more. “Baekhyun, relax.” You hesitantly took a step closer to him. The moment you did that, his eyes flashed with something you couldn’t define. Was it hurt? Was it anger? Was it pain? You couldn’t tell.
“You don’t understand!” he shouted again. His right hand was still clutching tightly to his chest while the other one was balled into a fist, smacking the air in frustration. “Tao was the only one I have left from my family! I don’t have anyone now—I’m alone and he’s gone and I don’t—”
Baekhyun didn’t seem well at all at the moment. His forehead was starting to glisten with sweat, and his face was flushed, looking like he was having trouble breathing. You assumed that he was having a panic attack at that point. “Baekhyun, you need to relax—”
“I don’t—I can’t—” He took a sharp gasp, eyes bulging wide from its sockets. “I can’t breathe, I—”
You leaned up and held his face in your hands. “Baekhyun!” you cried out and he stopped saying another word. “Hey, look at me,” you said and he obeyed, looking at you with so many emotions swirling in his eyes. “Breathe, okay? Calm down and just breathe.” You gave him an example, taking a deep breath and released it after holding it down for a second. “Come on, follow me.”
He inhaled while still looking intently at you, and when he exhaled, his breath was shaky and filled with tremble. He did it for three times more until he was no longer choking for air and you trailed your fingers on the side of his cheeks, calming him with soothing touches.
“There. Better?” you asked, smiling softly and he didn’t answer but you could tell that he was. “Look, I know it’s hard,” you said, leaning closer and hugged him by the waist. “But you are not alone, Baekhyun, do you hear me?” You pressed your body to his and you felt his warmth starting to overwhelm you as you laid your head on his shoulder. “You’re never going to be alone.”
Baekhyun didn’t speak a word after that. He didn’t raise an arm to hug you back either. He just stood there, weak and defenseless as you continued hugging him and running your hands on his back in a calming motion.
After a few seconds of silence, he finally gave in and wrapped his arms around your shoulders. This was probably the first time you and Baekhyun ever hugged in such an intimate way where both of you were completely conscious and sober. He buried his face in the crook of your neck and faintly, you could hear him sigh. His breathing was starting to get even but you could still feel his body quivering when you circled your arms around his waist. You exhaled softly and closed your eyes, waiting for him to break the hug but he never did.
Baekhyun was trying hard not to stammer when he said, “You should go.”
You let a simple, sad smile break out on your face. “Yes, I really should, huh?”
Baekhyun nodded but hugged you tighter. “I really want to be alone right now.”
“Of course,” you replied softly, tightening your arms around his waist.
“You should really let me go,” he continued, his voice hoarse and sounded like he was crying but you know that he didn’t. Contrary to his words, Baekhyun never let you go. Even if you wanted to, you just couldn’t. Not when he was holding you so, so closely like this as if he were afraid that he would broke into pieces the moment you left him alone.
“Then let me go.” You started to untangle yourself from him.
Baekhyun nodded but didn’t actually do what he agreed to do. If anything, he pressed you even closer to his body, sighing when he placed his chin on top of your head. You smiled at the thought of how childish he was, not wanting to admit that all he wanted to do was to continue holding you safely in his arms.
“Baekhyun,” you called, placing a hand on the back of his head to give a gentle caress on his hair. “I think we should go back. To the funeral, I mean.”
He shook his head. “I don’t want to,” he replied, voice sounding frail.
“Baekhyun,” you said again, this time breaking his hug for real so you could gaze into his eyes. “You have to. You know you have to.”
The boy stayed in silence. Baekhyun was placing his stare on his feet when he laced his fingers with yours. “Will you... Will you come with me?” he asked so, so quietly that you thought if you weren’t currently being this close to him, you wouldn’t have heard anything other than the flow of his breath.
You held his hand tighter, smiling slightly. “Of course.”
When the two of you reached the cemetery a moment later, it was already late in the evening. The sun was setting, only leaving a small layer of red light shining upon your faces. The rest of the people had already left so it was just you and Baekhyun, standing side by side right in front of a grave—which was small, but beautifully decorated with flowers and photos of a young guy with a fearless gaze on his eyes, but innocent soft-looking smile on his lips. Your heart jerked when Baekhyun unconsciously tightened his hold on your hand as his eyes trailed over the pictures of his brothers.
“Tao...” he spoke softly to no one in particular. You squeezed his hand for a second before you let him go and stepped back to give him some space. The boy didn’t say nor do anything. Baekhyun just stared at the tomb with blank eyes and slightly parted lips. You waited for him to articulate a word, or even another call of his name, but Baekhyun never did. He was being as silent as the dead.
And even then, you noticed that Baekhyun never shed a single tear that day.
“I need your help,” Lu Han said from the other line of the phone. “Please come to my room right now. I seriously don’t know what to do with him anymore.”
With that phone call, you immediately straighten up from the bed and changed into more proper clothes to go outside of your room. After what happened in the music studio three days ago, you hadn’t seen Baekhyun—or to be more precise, you hadn’t had the chance to see him. You had successfully brought him back to his and Lu Han’s room that day, and he managed to convince you somehow that he was okay and just needed some time alone to sort things out. Lu Han was there, and the oldest hyung promised you that he was going to watch over him. You agreed to it and left Baekhyun alone, because there was nothing you could do at the moment either. Lu Han was his best friend, so if Baekhyun wanted to talk, wouldn’t it be better if Lu Han was there to hear him out instead of you?
You always checked on him everyday though, texting Lu Han how Baekhyun was feeling and although the Chinese gege always replied with soothing words to calm you down and stopped you from worrying too much about him, you just never really stopped caring. You were about to believe Lu Han that Baekhyun was slowly getting better on each passing day, but then you received that phone call from him.
Not more than ten minutes later, you were already knocking on Lu Han’s door.
When the older boy opened his door, he sighed in relief and gave you a thank-God-you’re-here look. Lu Han’s appearance was somewhat surprising. He was no longer looking all fresh and dandy. In fact, there were bags under his eyes, and his hair looked like a bird’s nest, and you guessed that it became like that because Lu Han tried to yank his hair off his head in frustration.
“He’s going crazy, I swear. He hasn’t slept for two days, and did nothing other than drinking my beer,” Lu Han stated with bleary eyes. It was clear he didn’t get much sleep either. “I’ve tried talking to him but he wouldn’t budge. I just thought that maybe you could.”
You wanted to reply back with ‘Why do you think I’m capable of doing that? I’m nothing to him. but at that moment, you didn’t give a damn for any of that and just went straight inside the room, passing Lu Han at the door and kept on walking until you spotted Baekhyun sitting on the edge of his bed. His eyes were empty as he stared at the ground.
“Help him,” you heard Lu Han said to you before he made his way out of the room, closing the door behind him.
“Baekhyun,” you cautiously called, moving a bit closer to him until you sat carefully right beside him. “Hey, are you okay?”
Baekhyun blinked for a couple times before he glanced to the side and looked at you. “I...” he started, his eyes moving when he searched yours. “I’m... fine.”
You softly smiled, mirroring his sorrow, and swatted his bangs out of his eyes with your right hand. “That doesn’t sound convincing at all, ByunBaek,” you responded, using a playful tone although it sounded a bit desperate at the end. “If there’s anything you want to say—anything at all—I’m all ears, okay?”
Baekhyun didn’t give any kind of reaction, although you could feel how he slightly leaned in to your touch, like a lonely kitten. After a few awkward pauses, you couldn’t stand it anymore, so you took the risk and hesitantly asked, “Can you tell me something about Tao?” You thought that maybe if Baekhyun let some of his mind and depressing memories out, he’d feel better.
The boy was quiet as always when it came to personal matters. And you almost gave up trying, but then he exhaled heavily and closed his eyes as he went back through what was left of Huang Zitao in his memory.
“Tao was my stepbrother,” Baekhyun started saying, voice heavy with pain and sadness. “I met him when my dad got remarried to some Chinese woman I’d only met twice before. She was a successful entrepreneur and, just like my dad, she just went through a divorce. She only had one child—Tao—who was only a year younger than me. We were still kids when we met, but even though I was mean to him, he always smiled happily and always came to see me and forced me to play with him. I hated him at first, but he kept on following me around every single day to the point I actually felt lonely whenever he wasn’t there.”
You suddenly got reminded to the similar words Baekhyun had said on Chanyeol’s video—how he always missed you when you weren’t around; how he actually enjoyed your presence even though all you two did was bickering or teasing each other.
“Your parents got a divorce too?” you asked, wanting to know more about that matter even though you knew it wasn’t your place to ask that.
Baekhyun’s eyelids flew up slowly and you almost reached out to hold his hand when he talked, because he looked so heartbroken.
“Yeah, when I was five,” he said, reminiscing. “I’ve forgotten most of it, but... The only thing I did remember was how my mother walked through the front door. Her face was red with anger although she was crying hard. I remember how she left me without even saying goodbye. I was there, crying and asking where she was going, but she just left without a word. I remember how my father was crying the moment she slammed the door on our faces. I tried to reach out for him, asked him what happened but then he slapped my hand away. The pain didn’t hurt as much as what he said to me then. ‘This is all because of you’, he told me. And I didn’t know why, nor how—I didn’t even know what was happening. I didn’t know why my mother was leaving without ever coming back on the next day.”
“I’m sorry...” This time, you did reach for his hand. You managed to hold it for a second too long until Baekhyun pulled it back and bitterly said, “Don’t. I don’t need your sympathy.”
You were left frozen and a bit wounded from his words but you tried to understand what he was trying to do: he was trying to convince himself that he was strong. That he was okay. That he didn’t need anyone else.
“Two years after that,” Baekhyun continued, still not looking into your eyes as he retold the story. “My father got into another marriage with Tao’s mom. He only introduced me twice to her, and I didn’t like her. She never looked at my dad the way my mom did. There was no love in it, that was what I thought but,” Baekhyun snorted, chuckling to himself, “but then I realized that it wasn’t going to matter much anyway. My mom had claimed once that she loved my dad. He did the same. But then I said to myself: ‘Look what’s happening now, you . She left, despite what she once felt for him, she still left. And now your dad blames you for it, and you don’t have anyone to share this burden with.’”
Baekhyun closed his eyes again and covered half of his face with one hand as he let out a little laugh. There was no humor in it, that’s the irony. "I'm such an idiot," he whispered to himself and your heart broke once more.
“Tao was my first friend,” he continued, smiling to the air. “The first and only person of my family that made me feel comfortable and actually belong there. We spent most of our times together, until one day, when I was in my last year of high school, my dad and I got into a fight and it went horrible. I was so angry and just like how I resolve each and every one of my problems: I took off.”
You reminded by how Lu Han said Baekhyun hadn’t been in his room since a day before, and how you never actually talked to him after that huge fight you two had—the one that left you crying yourself to sleep that night—and how Baekhyun was suddenly disappearing from everyone at the funeral. It was true, that was his method in solving his problems. It was childish, you admitted, and cowardly. But you had never been in his situation before so you didn’t have the right to lecture him either. Based on that reason, you decided to just listen back to his story.
“I ran away from home,” Baekhyun said, “I stayed with Chanyeol for a long time—that little already got his own apartment and he let me crash on his place. But I didn’t want to trouble him more, so I decided to do part time jobs, and fortunately for me, Tao was always there to help me whenever I got no money left. He sneaked off once in a while to see me, and told me the bad and good news about my family. The only thing I cared about was how my parents were never really looking for me or wanting me to come back. They knew I was fine, and that was it. They didn’t have anything to do with me anymore and they probably thought that it was nice to let me off the hook. After all, they still had Tao, the right heir for their company. Even now, I still don’t know what to think about that. Is it a good news or a bad news? I don’t know.”
You felt sorry for him. You really did. He didn’t really deserve to have to experience any of those things. It was a wonder, really, how Baekhyun could keep calm and tell the story like it was another bedtime fairy-tale he read to children before bed.
“Tao and I kept on contacting each other even if we didn’t really get the chance to meet face-to-face. It was enough for me, though. I was actually kind of happy. I had Chanyeol, I met Lu Han and Minseok-Hyung, I got yo—” He stopped to clear his throat awkwardly, suddenly changing the topic. “I had my friends, and I had Tao backing me up from the side. I didn’t need anything more. But then, that night, I got a call from a hospital, telling that some patient named Huang Zitao asked to see me right away. I was shocked—I didn’t know he was being hospitalized. So I went there, and I saw him through his window...” Baekhyun swallowed hard and his chapped lower lip. He brought his head down and rubbed his forehead with his fingers as he let out a quivering breath.
“I saw Tao, lying on a hospital bed, pale and dying." He spoke, his voice sounded as fragile as a thin glass on the verge of breaking. "And when I was about to enter his room, my dad saw me. He sent me a cold stare, giving me a once over look and smirked at my appearance. He mocked me for coming back and I honestly didn't care. I just said I only wanted to see Tao, but then he shook his head. His wife was there, and she wasn’t any better. She told me to leave. I tried to tell her that Tao wanted to see me—somehow, Tao had secretly asked the nurse to call me and I tried to tell her that. But she started yelling and my dad pushed me away from the room and called the nurse to get me away from there. I kept trying until I got dragged away by the security.”
On the next second, Baekhyun stopped saying another word and he placed his gaze back to the ground. You were about to ask what happened to him, but the answer was clear when he covered his face with one hand and his shoulders started to shake.
Baekhyun was crying.
The sight of him astounded you more than the fact that Baekhyun had held himself back well enough not to be like this in front of Lu Han, but suddenly broke into pieces when you came into the room. You didn’t think he would be like this, making soft almost inaudible whimpers combined with quivering breaths pouring from his mouth. Even in that moment, Baekhyun was careful not to let his guard down completely and let you see him cry.
You didn’t bother to say anything, since there was really nothing to be said. You just leaned in to him, and hugged him carefully from the side and rubbed his back.
It didn’t take long for Baekhyun to stop weeping, but it took years—at least that was how it felt to you—for him to start saying something to you. And when he did, the first word he said was “I’m sorry.”
Baekhyun said it out of nowhere, and you didn’t know why and to whom he was saying it to. His voice broke when he spoke, but he continued mumbling like a mad person. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry—”
“Sshh, Baekhyun. It’s okay, don’t—” You pulled back a little to let him go but he gathered you back in his arms, repeating the words until you were drowned in them.
Seeing and hearing him like this made you want to cry on his behalf, and at some point maybe you did—you weren’t sure. But you didn’t try to fight him back for more explanation. You just let him clutch to you securely to his chest and you closed your eyes, counting along to his heartbeat and listening to him apologizing in a soft murmur.
You wondered why were you no longer feeling angry. You still could remember the cruel things he did to you vividly, but you just couldn’t stay mad—not even a little bit. You concluded in your mind that maybe, along the way, after all of those things that happened—from Chanyeol’s video, to Lu Han’s moment-of-honesty, and this other unknown side of Baekhyun you'd witnessed—you just couldn’t find the hatred in you anymore. Well, to be honest, you never really hated him. You said you were done with him, yes, but you said it only because you were hurt and you thought that staying away from him was the best choice for you to do. You thought that that way, you wouldn’t be hurt anymore. You were wrong.
You didn’t know that you were never really filled with repugnance when it came to the eyeliner boy. He was still as captivating as the first time you ever laid eyes on him. He had his flaws. He had his problems. He had his faults. Baekhyun was imperfect, just like everybody else. Just like you. So who were you to try and leave him for the better?
You thought that there was really nothing to be forgiven at that moment.
On the next day, soft knocking sounds on your door woke you up, and you groaned because today was your day off and you were supposed to wake up late in the afternoon. But you immediately sat up on your bed when you realized that maybe something happened to Baekhyun. After you spent a few hours on his room last night, listening to him apologizing for something you weren’t sure about, you had thought that he was feeling a little bit better when he held your hand and begged you to stay as he closed his eyes and went to sleep. But you weren’t sure that he was going to be perfectly fine after that.
So you hurriedly went to your door that morning, opening it with your heart expecting the worst kind of news, only to find Baekhyun staring at you with a normal—well, maybe a bit startled—expression on his face. He was the Baekhyun you remembered, all handsomely dressed in leather jacket and skinny jeans, with some eyeliner framing his eyes. He looked fresh out of shower, and smelled even better than soap and pine trees after the storm.
“H-hey,” he greeted awkwardly, frowning upon the look on your face. “Are you okay?”
You almost laughed because that was what you had been trying to ask him for the last few days. “I’m fine, Baek, are you okay?”
He shrugged but you managed to catch a simple smile forming on his lips. “You got some drool on the side of your mouth," he commented.
You blushed and quickly raised a hand to wipe it off from your face. Baekhyun let out a soft chuckle and although you were supposed to hate him for mocking you, you didn’t because he was beautiful and much better off with smiles on his face.
“What are you doing here, Baekhyun?” you asked, pretending to be pissed at him. “You woke me up so early in the morning, do you know that? You better have some good explanation for this.”
“First of all,” Baekhyun answered, raising a finger, “It’s like nine in the morning. Most people have woken up by now.”
“Well, not me.” You stuck your tongue out jokingly at him.
“Second of all,” he continued and dragged his eyes away from yours as he ran a hand nervously through his hair. “I was just wondering if you, uh...” He cleared his throat loudly and pulled himself together. “Do you want to get some breakfast together?” The way he said it was rushed and you almost didn’t hear a single word he was saying. Almost.
“Byun Baekhyun,” you said, eyes twinkling mischievously as you folded your arms on your chest. “Are you asking me out on a date?”
“I...” He was stunned for a moment before he cursed loudly to the air and his heels. “If you don’t want to, then fine!”
“Kidding!” You exclaimed, laughing good-naturedly as you pulled him back by locking your grip around his wrist. He turned back to look at you with an involuntary pout and you smiled so widely at him until your nose got scrunched up on your face.
“Well?” Baekhyun asked impatiently, somewhat glaring at you for your mockery.
“Fine, if you want me to go that much.” You rolled your eyes humorously. “I’ll go. But only because you begged me to do so.”
“I didn’t beg!” Baekhyun screeched, face flushed and you tried so hard not to cackle right then.
“Your pout says otherwise.” You flicked his nose.
The brunch—it was already too late to call it breakfast—went a bit awkward and had more secret glances than actual word exchange, but you didn’t hate it at all. Since the small, reasonably priced cafe was not too crowded by people, the situation between you two became more tense and quiet. This was the first time the two of you ever spent some time together in a public place where you didn’t try to rub your legs against his crotch.
After finishing his English breakfast tea and some toast, Baekhyun was left sitting gawkily in front of you. He fidgeted on his seat whenever he was about to say something but surrendered at the last second. Baekhyun was always the confident, graceful, and a smooth-talker guy when it came to conversating with girls, so it stunned you for a moment, seeing him all nervous and weird like this.
“Are you okay?” you asked, furrowing your eyebrows at him. “You’re acting a bit weird.”
“Huh?” Baekhyun blinked, suddenly got slapped back to reality. “Oh, umm, I just have a lot in my mind.”
“I feel like there’s something you’re not telling me,” you assumed.
“I—” He cleared his throat when he felt his voice were a bit too high-pitched. “I don’t—I mean, I...”
You placed your fork back carefully on the plate after you finished shoving the last piece of your blueberry pancake into your mouth. “Can I take a random guess?” you questioned.
Baekhyun muted down and just watched you intently.
“Hmm, let me see,” you started, intertwining your fingers together as you rest your hands on the coffee table. “I’m guessing that you’re confused of why I’m acting so friendly with you like this. You want to know if this is somehow a part of a trick I’m planning to do to screw your life over and over until you start to think that maybe hell is a better place than to live in a world with me in it.” You smiled kindly at him. “Isn't that true?”
Baekhyun parted his lips in awe but quickly gathered himself back. “N-not actually like that, but...” he trailed off, sounding unsure. “But you’re right, in some point, I do feel curious about it. Why aren’t you mad at me anymore?”
“Do you want me to be mad at you?”
“N-no, it’s just...” He frowned, still not understanding why you could be so calm that moment. “It’s just weird. I feel like there’s something I don’t know; something I’ve been missing.”
Your smile dropped when you leaned in closer, propping your elbows on the table, and asked, “If I ask you to be honest for the next ten minutes, would you do that for me?”
Baekhyun looked a bit startled at the sudden change in your attitude, but on the next second, it was your turn to be shocked by his answer. “No,” he said.
“Because I don’t want you to hear the things you’re not ready to hear,” he uttered.
You deeply frowned. “But you don’t even know what I’m going to ask you.”
“I have my own random guess,” he simply replied. “Look, the reason why I asked you to go out with me today, is because I want to say something to you.”
You almost wanted to snicker at how selfish he was being at the moment—not wanting to hear you out, but forcing himself to be heard. But at the end, you just leaned back to your seat and said, “Sure, go ahead.”
“I know what I did was wrong,” Baekhyun said, playing with the edge of the table nervously with his hands. “I know I shouldn’t have used your room, and I’m...” He seemed to be in huge mental pain when he admitted, “I’m sorry.” He let out a relieved breath from finally being able to say it calmly. “It was stupid, and rude, and I’m sorry for that.”
“Then why did you do it then?” you retorted back, folding your arms on your chest.
“I—” Baekhyun hesitated. You were hoping for him to take the bait and start blurting out the things he once had said on Chanyeol’s video, but it seemed to be not as easy as you thought it would be. The boy just glued his eyes to his hands when he vaguely answered, “I just wasn’t thinking.”
“Was there something else?” You provoked him. “Was there another reason why you mocked those words you said to me on the previous night?”
Baekhyun looked truly shocked from the line that just came out of your mouth.
“Did you try to hurt me so I would give up and stay away from you, Baek?” You didn’t stop talking, even when he was shaken by your words. “Did you try to push me away so I wouldn’t fall for you because you think I deserve someone who’s much better than you?” You didn’t plan to be this emotional at first, but the moment your bottled-up feelings went back to your brain, you just couldn’t help but to snap at him.
“I—” Baekhyun was flabbergasted, before he barked back. “Where the hell did you—”
“I saw the video.”
“What video? I’ve never made any vide—”
“When you came to Chanyeol’s room to talk to him about me, he was videotaping the whole conversation. And he showed me the video,” you admitted and he gaped, looking ridiculously shocked.
Baekhyun’s jaw dropped to the floor. “What the fu—” He almost jumped from his seat. “That !”
“Don’t bring him into this!” you shouted, making some people in the café turn their heads to your direction. “At least he was brave enough to show me that, unlike what you’re doing right now, you coward. Stop lying to my face!”
Baekhyun’s jaw grew slacked and his eyes were still wide open, not quite in surprise, but in anger. He bit his lower lip in attempt to hold back his temper when he said, “You were not supposed to listen to that.”
“Baekhyun...” You sighed and massaged your forehead with your thumb and index finger. “I’m honestly tired of constantly being locked away from your secrets. I want to know you, okay?” You gazed deeply into his eyes. “I want to talk and be friends with you. I want you to tell me stories about you—the way you did that time when you talked about Tao and your parents.” You wished you could grab his hand and give it a squeeze just to emphasize your words. “Baekhyun, I want you to trust me just as much as I trust you.”
“I thought you didn’t trust me anymore. After all those things I did to you,” he replied. His voice sounded a couple of octaves lower than before. “I thought you wanted nothing to do with me.”
“Baek...” You unconsciously reached up to hold his hand and it surprised you both when your skin touched his, so you let go immediately after. “You’re not the only one who has trust issues, all right? I do too, maybe not as severe as what you have, but I understand.” You stopped to take a calming breath after hearing your own voice quivering a bit. “I know how it feels like to be close to people and be scared for the rest of your life thinking that they’re going to abandon you someday.”
“No, you don’t,” Baekhyun replied indignantly.
“Yes, I do,” you repeated, with all the seriousness you could manage. “I’ve been there. I understand that. But you have to give them a chance. Not everyone is as bad as you think.”
You didn’t know what he saw in your eyes, but his gaze softened a bit before he looked away, breaking the eye contact between the two of you.
“Baekhyun,” you pronounced his name gently. “If you continue doing this; if you keep on hurting people like what you did to me, you’re only going to hurt yourself in the end. And even if you don’t care that you’re hurt, I don’t want that to happen.”
After hearing that, he raised his eyes back to yours. You stared back but didn’t let a single word flow out of your mouth after that. You just waited for his response.
Baekhyun looked clueless. “What do you want me to do?” he asked.
“Be honest with me,” you said without thinking. “Be honest with me like you did the last time. Be honest with me and talk to me.”
His gaze grew hard when he replied, “Haven’t you already heard everything you wanted to hear from that video?”
“Yes, but I want to hear it directly,” you insisted. “I want to see you in the eyes when you say it.”
Baekhyun threw his hands up in the air in frustration. “There’s nothing left to tell!”
“Tell me how you feel about me.” You couldn’t believe you just said this out loud. But now that it was all out in the open, you finished yourself till the end. “Tell me if you want me to stay with you. Tell me, and convince me that.”
Baekhyun seemed like he stopped breathing for a second. “I...” he started, his bottom lip anxiously, but even after you waited for a further answer to come, he never continued.
You felt your heart sink down to the bottom of your stomach, and you had to struggle to keep your face in the stoic expression you had been putting up for a while, just to show him how strong you were. If only you were just as tough as that on the inside.
“Fine,” you said, looking anywhere but his eyes. You grabbed your purse and threw some cash to the table before you stood up and said, “It was nice talking to you, Mr. Byun.”
Right on the last second before you stomped your way out of that place, you stated, “You know, the only person who can tell me who I deserve to be with or without is me. So stop thinking so fully about yourself and let me make my own decision.”
Then you left him, dumbfounded and alone in his seat, and went through the exit door without sparing a glance back at him.
I'm sorry for the late update, but hey, it's better than never, right? ;D
Anyway, writing this chapter is so freaking tiring, I think my head's about to explode. I don't even know why I wrote so much angst in this chapter. I'm sorry if you're not fond of it. Always leave me a comment to state what's in your mind after reading this, okay? :)
And HOLY YOU GUYS WHY ARE YOU SO AWESOME THANK YOU FOR ALWAYS READING MY STORY EVEN THOUGH IT'S CRAP AND LIKE A PILE OF WORD VOMIT I CAN'T THANK YOU GUYS ENOUGH FOR THIS I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOUUUUUUU~~~~!!!
THREE MORE DAYS TO GO UNTIL BAEKHYUN'S BIRTHDAY so this is my early present for you guys :*