Merged the las two chapters together, make sure you've read them all
That night, Lara was late. Way too late. She had forgotten that on that specific day she started her extra hours in the biology lab. She had taken the last train to the Catacombs and promptly ran all the path in the forest to arrive as soon as possible, somehow managing not to trip. Despite the dread, though, she had enjoyed every second of her new lessons.
Even though Lara had never had any issue sneaking back in, she couldn’t help but think that arriving so late could only mean trouble.
As always, she made her way through the dark tunnel that linked the Catacombs and the outside world – the one that had once been her only hope. It was the only way in that wasn’t loaded with CCTV. They had tried to disguise it as an old door, too rusty to open. Naturally, the cameras would only sabotage that purpose.
The little keypad was well hidden under a rusty lid. She just needed to introduce her code and that was that – the heavy door would open without a sound and she would sneak back in the Catacombs as if she had never left.
The problem, though, was that Lara had been out way too long. Kai had never caught her whenever she snuck either out or in, but she always had an excuse ready. Being out until half past 11 wasn’t that suspicious – especially when everybody knew how bad she hated the forsaken Catacombs – but it was nearing two in the morning already and she admittedly had no idea about what she would tell Kai if she were to come across him.
Regrets and doubts started to consume her, she called herself an idiot after every thought. She should have talked to Kai before she left – she was already late anyways – should have told him about the mission. If Baekhyun were to ask him whether they had already talked, kai would start looking for her. He wouldn’t find her in her room, nor in the mess hall or any hidden staircase. She wouldn’t be in her favorite practice room – punching her frustrations away – either.
And then he would tell Baekhyun. And she would be doomed.
She closed the heavy door behind her and let out a heavy sigh of relief. Everything was quiet and still, as always. Silence hung on the walls and reigned the hallways, the only sound the obnoxious buzzing of electricity and occasional snores from lazy guards that were supposed to be patrolling, not snoozing.
Step by step, dread clawed at her gut as she neared the room hallway. She could picture Baekhyun and Kai with a whole unit of armed guards ready to take her down and punish her for treason. She shuddered at the possibility of being locked in a dark and cold cell.
In the worst-case scenario, Byun Jinhyuk would be there too, eager to skin her alive, strip by strip, with that painful slowness that made his every gesture mysterious. He would make Baekhyun watch, surely, and Lara would have to suffer while he simply stared.
Two steps away form the hallway she stilled, body molded against the cold wall, and listened carefully, holding her breath.
Not a word, or a snore nor a single step.
She poked her head from behind the wall to find the wall as usual: grey, cold and deserted. She couldn’t stop the heavy sigh that escaped her lips. Lara cringed at the noise. She surveilled the hallway once more before reassuring herself that she was alone. She pulled her fake glasses up her nose and walked to her room, shoulders visibly less tense.
She keyed the secret code to her room – the one supposedly only she knew – and heard as the lock clicked open.
She pushed the door opened and the second she saw her room her heart stopped beating. Her bag fell off her shoulder with a thud she no longer cared to hide. The world crumbled to pieces around her and she hoped it would take her with it. The lights were on and there, sprawled on her bed, fingers wrapped around an old book as if there was nothing going on, was Byun Baekhyun.
“Where were you, Lara?”
Definitely, this was the worst-case scenario.
The next couple of seconds, the only thing Lara could focus on was the cold panic creeping through her veins. But then she realized that Baekhyun wasn’t speaking in that bossy cold tone, nor did he seem angry. He looked tired, really tired. There were dark smudges under his swollen eyes and his face looked ashen, lips pale and cracked.
“I just wanted some fresh air” she answered eventually.
The scattered books on the floor (they had come out of her bad when she had dropped it) didn’t support her story, but she managed a sheepish smile that came out more as a wince. Baekhyun shook his head slowly and set the book on the mattress. He approached slowly, carefully.
This time Lara didn’t flinch. She let his fingers play with the tips of her hair. There was so much care in his actions that Lara couldn’t believe it was the same person who she’d spent weeks despising.
“You’ve never been able to lie to me” he whispered. He didn’t pry further, though.
It was him. His soft voice that ended in a barely there sigh, his soft caresses and the tired glint in his eyes that conveyed care and devotion – so much devotion she felt overwhelmed. Baek was back. The feeling of his fingers brushing her skin felt intoxicating, but she didn’t mind. Once again, Lara was in that little world with only the two of them, where there was no cold, or darkness or Catacombs, just him and his touch.
“Where have you been?” Lara asked. Baekhyun didn’t need any explanation to know what she was asking.
“I’m so sorry. I’ve been an ”
Lara laughed half-heartedly and nodded. Baekhyun’s hands were aching to wrap themselves around Lara’s waist and his lips burned to kiss her once again in that slow and careful way he knew she liked. But he didn’t make a move. The last time they had met he was Byun Baekhyun, the time before too. And it had ended with Lara flinching away from his touch and begging him not to touch her.
“What are you doing in my room?”
“I couldn’t sleep”
“And you think I can help you sleep?”
“You’ve always helped me sleep, Lara.”
Lara mouthed an Oh and lowered her gaze “Really?”
“You falling asleep first and waking up last doesn’t mean I don’t rest better when I’m with you.”
Lara left her glasses on the vanity and let her hair down. She stripped slowly while Baekhyun waited for her from her bed, book long forgotten. Her pajamas had a crisp silky texture that felt refreshing after such a long and tiring day.
Before she could close the closet, a pair of strong arms were wrapped around her waist and Baekhyun’s face was buried in the crook of her neck. He was shaking.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“I never thought I would have nightmares” Lara felt his voice against her skin. “They won’t let me sleep.”
Lara finally understood why Baekhyun was always so tired, so frail. It wasn’t just his tight lifestyle and all his new responsibilities that were weighting him down, but the cursed images that haunted his sleep too. She was all too familiar with the irrational fear of sleeping. It was a cold dread that crept through her every nerve like an ice dragon. Too used to running away from the scary stories her mind liked to play again and again every single night.
“We should go to bed now” she finally said. “You need to rest.”
Baekhyun walked backwards towards the bed, groaning when he had to let go of her. Lara’s bedroom was a cold space with sharp furniture and painted in grey hues. Not even her bright presence had managed to infuse some warmth to it. Though Baekhyun supposed it could be due to Lara’s burning hatred for the whole place.
They crept under the cold sheets, one at each side of the bed. Lara just didn’t like sleeping in the center, she felt the bed was too big for her, belittled. Baekhyun was the one who normally lay on the center and, wrapping an arm around her waist, pulled her towards his warm chest.
But that night he was too scared to touch her, to make her scared again – of him. That was until Lara herself turned around, even in the darkness he could tell she was looking at him. She reached for his face and skimmed his skin softly, as if she was caressing him with so much care he felt like he could melt.
“I know what you’re thinking. You can hug me. That wasn’t you, now you are as Baek as always”, she let her words sink in before she closed her eyes and whispered in a voice so little Baekhyun thought he had imagined it, “Please hug me.”
Baekhyun didn’t need repeating. In a second, he was sliding towards the center of the bed, wrapping his arm around her waist and pulling her flush against his chest. It had been a while since they had slept like that, with her breath brushing his neck and his lips touching her forehead ever so softly. For him, Lara was the foundation of his world, the one thing in the world that kept him going.
Looking back and thinking about everything he had done – everything he had done to her – he thought Lara was too good for him, too sweet and forgiving. In that moment he knew Lara would always be there to welcome him with open arms and burry her face in his chest whenever he came back to her being himself.
Baekhyun kissed her hair gently and told her she was sorry at least a thousand times. He couldn’t see Lara in the dark, but he could feel her smile against his chest. That heavy smile of hers with sad eyes and tired lips. She run her hands up and down his back slowly, assuring him everything was fine. Because as long as he was himself, everything would be fine.
* * *
Having a good night sleep and actually feeling rested sounded more like a fantasy than a true possibility. Deep within them, both Lara and Baekhyun knew it was possible. Just like that, when they hugged each other in silence, enjoying the blanketing darkness and the whispers of the night.
Lara fell asleep listening to Baekhyun’s apologies, hugging him firmly so he could understand that she would always be there, because she knew that Baekhyun wouldn’t be in her room in the middle of the night if he wasn’t about to breakdown.
But still, he kept on apologizing. He apologized for everything that had happened, what was happening and what he knew that would happen. He apologized and trembled in the arms of the only person capable to brighten his days because he would have to break her heart to save her.
Lara remembered Baekhyun’s warm embrace and his soft kisses. Nevertheless, the first thing she realized when she woke up was the cold. She stretched in her bed and sighed heavily.
“Stupid girl” she told herself.
She didn’t need to open her eyes to know she was alone. Baekhyun had left.
Last night had been too good to be real. Lara felt like it had been such a nice dream. And she would have really believed that it had been a dream had it not been for the metal pendant nestled between her collarbones. Baekhyun’s pendant, that, for the first time in what felt like years, had the same warm feeling as the man who had spent the night with her.
I am SO sorry for the late update! this past weeks have ben hectic for me and even though I'm on summer holidays I barely have time to sleep. BUT I have good news: next chapter we have two more EXO members appearing heheh
Oh and btw CITY LIGHTS AND WHAT A LIFE ARE SOOOO GOOOD. Please support our artists!
I hope I can update soon, but please bear with me