CHAPTER 14 - ALL I WANT IS YOU

Then Came You

 

 

 

Jongdae poured the hot coffee into the cup he was preparing for Baekhyun, absent-mindedly watching the steam rise and sharp brows knotting a little as he remembered what happened last night.

He was alone at the Starling headquarters, waiting for the updates from the lucky fan club member who was able to attend the launch party. He was too engrossed with editing the pictures sent to him and uploading them on their website that he didn't notice the lateness of the hour. Luckily, the party ended not long after. It was way past midnight when he locked up so he didn't expect to see a person standing outside the entrance.

The person stepped into the light and he was startled to see Baekhyun.

"Baekhyun? What are you doing here?"

"I'm sorry, prez. I... I just needed somewhere to stay," Baekhyun replied hesitantly.

He wanted to ask why his friend needed a place to stay in but Jongdae knew it wasn't the right time because Baekhyun looked exhausted and distraught.

"You can't stay here. Come with me to my place," he said as he held on to Baekhyun's arm.

The guy looked like he was about to protest but Jongdae didn't give him a chance to. He dragged him towards his mini cooper and drove them to his apartment. It was small but he was living alone anyway so Baekhyun could crash with him for the meantime.

They arrived at his place shortly. Again, he wanted to ask what was wrong but he could tell Baekhyun wasn't up for any talk. He tried to shoo him towards the bathroom and lend him some clothes to change into but the guy refused. He relented only because he knew his friend was really tired and he felt bad for whatever made Baekhyun this way. He wasn't his usual bright self and it got Jongdae worried.

This morning, he woke up early and looked in on Baekhyun who was sleeping on the sofa, a troubled expression painted on his face. His friend was going through something difficult and he really wanted to help. But he could only do that if Baekhyun would tell him what was wrong. He wouldn't pry into the other guy's problems if Baekhyun didn't want him to.

He placed the two cups of coffee on a tray, alongside a plate of toast, and headed back to the living room where he found Baekhyun already awake. The boy was standing beside a shelf where he put his Do Kyungsoo merchandise on--his collection of albums, photobooks and calendars. He noticed Baekhyun's attention was caught by Jongdae's most prized possession--a signed photograph of him and Kyungsoo at the backstage of the singer's first concert. It was enclosed in a sunshine yellow frame and was placed beside his very first Starling lighstick.

How could he forget? Baekhyun was a Starling. So if he couldn't entirely help him with the problem he was carrying, Jongdae could at least distract him for a little while, couldn't he?

"If my apartment was about to burn down that would be the first thing I'd grab before running out," Jongdae said cheerfully while he placed the tray of food on the coffee table. "I'd absolutely die if something happened to that photograph."

Baekhyun turned to look at him, a teasing smile on his lips. "I know you would."

He could see the effort Baekhyun took to appear fine so he returned the smile. "Well, I'd probably grab all my money, too, and some clothes and my limited edition Do Kyungsoo Holiday in Japan photobook. It's six kilograms and it's as bulky as hell but come on, if it was you, would you leave 365 pages of perfection behind?"

Baekhyun let out a short laugh and shook his head. "I wouldn't."

Jongdae walked closer and took the lightstick from its stand. "And this. Of course I won't leave this. It's the one they gave away for his debut showcase." He turned it on and waved the glowing stick. "I could remember it clearly. Everything went dark and then on cue, tiny bright lights scattered around the stadium lit up along with our lightsicks. There was a sudden hush. It was amazing, you know, as if we were floating on a starlit sky."

"Then Kyungsoo appeared when a spotlight shone upon him. I thought, at that moment, that he really is a star." He winked playfully at Baekhyun. "Thus, the Starlings were born."

"If it was mine," Baekhyun started, sad eyes on the lightstick in Jongdae's hand, "I'd keep it with me forever."

It felt as if his friend was talking about more than just the lightstick he was holding. There was silence as Baekhyun bit onto his lower lip and looked away. Jongdae replaced the lightstick into the holder. He wanted to cheer the other up so he pulled him to the sofa and motioned for him to eat. He only began to talk when Baekhyun took a bite of the toast.

"Speaking of lightsticks, guess what?" he asked excitedly, grinning wider when the unhappy look in Baekhyun's damp eyes turned to curiosity. "We won!"

"Won what?"

Jongdae chucked Baekhyun's chin. "Seriously, I would demote you. Come on, we won the votation for the lightstick design!"

"We did?"

"Yep," he said smugly. "It was a tough battle but the Starlings prevailed!"

"How did we win?" his friend asked.

"Well, you see we had a tie. The numbers were even and we didn't have anyone else to cast a vote. Everyone at KSE already did and Lu Han's manager gave us until that afternoon to settle everything. Kim Minseok, the god awful bun and president of the Sweetest, and I were running out of time. We went out together, anxious to find just one voter to break the tie."

"Then there was this guy standing by KSE's entrance and so I rushed forward, holding the sticker board in front of me, only to stop in my tracks because oh my god, it isn't just a normal guy. He was the Scary Assassin Person!"

"Scary Assassin Person?"

"Yes! President Park's bodyguard-assistant-whatever. The one with the black hair and dark scary eyes. Even Minseok hid behind me. It was too late for us to back away, though, because the guy turned and looked at us as if one wrong move and we'll end up diced and thrown over boiling water," Jongdae said with a shudder.

"Tao? You're talking about Tao?" Baekhyun asked. "But he's really nice."

Jongdae looked at him in disbelief. "To you, maybe, but we were scared of him, okay? Anyway, there was no escape since he asked us what we wanted so I decided to brave it and told him about the voting thing. That's actually when I realized that I had an advantage because he is Park Chanyeol's assistant so he is supposed to be a Starling. But then the sod beside me started to speak to the Scary Assassin Person in Chinese! Then I remembered the guy was actually Chinese so he may vote for Lu Han. I almost wet my pants in worry, I tell you."

Of course he was exaggerating but it was nice to see Baekhyun laughing. "Yeah, laugh why don't you? But it certainly wasn't funny the way the Tao guy was staring at us. As if we were two idiots wasting his time. But to my surprise he reached for the board and put a sticker on the Starling side! I had to keep myself from jumping up and down. I quickly ran inside back to the meeting room just in time for Manager Zhang to arrive. Our club was announced as the winner, the bun went home crying and that's that."

Although, in truth, it didn't end just like that. Jongdae was busy gloating and smirking with victory when Minseok approached him and, to his surprise, said Congratulations before shaking his hand. They have been in each other's neck since they met so he was confused as to why the Sweetest president did that.

"I can't wait to see the new design," Baekhyun said.

"It will be awesome."

"Um, prez?" Baekhyun fidgeted with the zipper of his hoodie. "Thank you for letting me stay here."

Jongdae turned serious. "It's no problem, Baekhyun. You can stay here for as long as you need to."

"Thanks, prez. I just need until tonight and I'll sort everything out by tomorrow, I promise."

The fanclub president stood up. "I told you don't worry, okay?" He waited for Baekhyun to nod before he proceeded to collect the tray. "In our handbook, remember Article 4, section 2? A starling--"

"--Always helps out another starling in need," Baekhyun smiled gratefully at him. "Thanks again, prez."

Jongdae nodded. "By the way, I'll be going back to the headquarters today to finish posting the updates. Want to come with me?"

 

 

 

 

 

Baekhyun could barely stop himself from flinching every time Jongdae mentioned Chanyeol's name. He didn't know what he would feel if he saw pictures of him from last night.

He'd remember. He'd definitely remember the way his darkened hair made his large eyes stand out, making him more handsome and irresistible. He'd be reminded of the warmth of his hand as he held on to Baekhyun tight. And he'd recall the way the soft lights played on his profile as Chanyeol told Kyungsoo he loved him.

"I think I'll pass," he told Jongdae. His heart needed time to recover even though he was afraid that it may never will.

His friend shrugged and smiled kindly at him. "Okay. Feel at home, you hear? And if you need to go out, I'll leave you with a spare key," he said before going to the kitchen.

Baekhyun felt thankful for Kim Jongdae. It was a risk to stay with his friend but he had no one else left he could turn to. The reason why he didn't go to Jongdae in the first place was because he didn't want Wu's men to follow him here. He believed it was safer to stay at a random place, somewhere the Wu’s wouldn't expect him to be so it would be difficult for them to find him.

Come to think of it, it has been long since the last time he felt someone following him. The last one was when Tao quite efficiently kicked their pudgy asses. Did they already give up? It doesn't matter if they did, though, because there was still that debt that he had to take care of. He sighed. He would have to find another job. Baekhyun couldn't stay at KSE--it was impossible. He had to pull out the roots that bound him to the potato.

Last night, he ran and ran and didn't stop until his lungs were burning with lack of air. He also told himself not to look back. Because he was sure that nobody would be there and it would hurt again.

The image of Chanyeol looking stunned after he confessed was permanently ingrained in his memory. It wasn't Baekhyun's intention to say his feelings out loud. It was never his plan to let anyone know--most of all, Chanyeol. He had to get away as fast as he could because Baekhyun, for all his supposed strength, couldn't bear to receive Chanyeol's rejection. In his haste, he forgot about his lightstick but he couldn't go back for it now. For what if he saw Chanyeol again? The precarious threads pulling him together would completely snap.

Baekhyun buried his face in his hands. It was entirely his fault he knew. He should have stopped when he saw that he was falling for the potato. But then, how could he have stopped himself from loving him when Park Chanyeol was everything he has ever wished for?

Byun Baekhyun, wake up.

It was over. He should start facing reality. No more thinking about what ifs and--

"No more hurting, okay?" he whispered as he placed his hand against his heart.

He had to start anew.

First off, he had to check the employment site for a new job. He took out his phone from the pocket of his hoodie. Strangely, his heart pounded painfully. He breathed deeply before pushing the on button. It wasn't long when a notification flashed on the screen. 24 text messages. All of them from one person.

From: President Park Chanyeol

Baekhyun never did get around to changing the name Chanyeol entered. He wanted to laugh again at how formal it sounded but what came out was a tiny sob. His hands were shaking as he ran his finger across Chanyeol's name.

I love you, potato-ahjussi.

Another piece of his heart broke as he chose the delete all option. Everything erased and unread.

Inbox empty.

It was exactly how he felt. Empty.

He was almost afraid to check his voice messages but Baekhyun forged on, closing his eyes as he pressed his phone to his ear.

You have eighteen voice messages.

Beep.

Baekhyun? This is Tao. Let's meet tomorrow at two. Call me. Oh, and in case you don't want to, remember you owe me. Don't get into trouble until then.

Beep.

Tao sounded as bossy as ever but Baekhyun was touched because he knew the guy was worried about him. He had to see him. And Tao was right, Baekhyun does owe him.

Byun Baekhyun, you owe Chanyeol, too.

Yes he did but he already gave him his heart and his lightstick even if Chanyeol didn't want them. A poor exchange, he thought despondently.

It was a mistake, though, when Baekhyun listened to the next one. He should have erased them all without checking because then he wouldn't have heard Chanyeol's voice, making his knees weak.

Okay I get it. You don't want to talk to me. But just... Baekhyun, tell me if you're fine. Damnit... Please?

Beep.

"No, I always want to talk to you," he whispered brokenly as he deleted the rest of the voice mails.

But he wasn't fine because just that one message got him wavering. He already told himself it was over but if he listened once more to Chanyeol calling out his name, he'd be out the door…

Running back to him.

 

 

 

 

 

He had a damned headache.

And a spot in his chest hurt. Chanyeol knew it wasn't just because he only had less than two hours of sleep last night. It was because the stray pup left him.

Chanyeol didn't want to open his eyes because he wouldn't see Baekhyun on the floor, sitting up half asleep and wearing his pink pajamas. He didn't want to get up because the pup wouldn't be there to greet him good morning before yawning and stretching his slender arms above his head. He didn't want to spend a day without feeling weird because if he felt that way that meant Baekhyun was near.

He was shaken out of his wits when Baekhyun told him he loved him. He had no idea... which only goes to show how dense and stupid he really was. His hands clenched.

He felt something in his grip. He opened his eyes to see that he was still holding on to the Starling lightstick Baekhyun left behind. He had been holding on to it the whole night, secure in his grasp when he finally woke up from his shock and went out to run after Baekhyun.

He thought maybe if the stray pup saw the lightstick, the guy would go back to get it. Then he would grab onto him and wouldn't let go until Baekhyun believed that Chanyeol loved him, too.

Because he really did.

However, he wasn't able to find Baekhyun. He looked and looked--ran to the bus station and scoured the streets--but he was too late. He came home exhausted and close to losing hope. He sent him messages and left embarrassingly frantic voice mails but he didn't receive any response. He felt sick with worry when he thought of the things that could go wrong. What if Baekhyun got into an accident? What if something bad had happened to him?

Chanyeol was starting to panic so he called the only person who could help him. He didn't expect Zitao to answer after the first ring for it was already past 3AM.

"You what?" Zitao asked angrily after Chanyeol told him that he lost Baekhyun.

"He left and I couldn't find him. You can get angry at me all you want. Just help me find him, Zitao." He sounded desperate but at this point, Chanyeol no longer cared. He just wanted Baekhyun back with him.

"I'll go find Baekhyun and make sure he's okay. But I won't tell you where he is. That's your job," Zitao said before promptly hanging up.

That's all I'm asking for, Chanyeol thought. He needed to know Baekhyun was safe.

He fell asleep in exhaustion and now he reluctantly got up and grimaced at the rumpled shirt and pants he was wearing. He wasn't even able to change clothes after he came home. Chanyeol walked out of the bedroom but froze when he saw Nonna plumping the couch cushions.

"Good morning, Chanyeol!" Nonna tried to see behind Chanyeol. "Where's my Baekhyunnie? Mrs. Park and I have a surprise for him."

He scrambled for the words to say that Baekhyun wasn't there but he couldn't find anything that would make it sound less painful. "He's not here."

Nonna frowned. "It's so early to be out on a Sunday morning. Where did he go? Did he tell you when he'll be back? Your grandma is expecting you at the mansion this afternoon."

Chanyeol wasn't looking forward to telling Grandma Park that Baekhyun left, either.

"Baekhyun left."

"You already told me that. I was asking when he would get home." Nonna turned to get something from the shelf near the doorway and walked back to Chanyeol grinning from ear to ear. "Because ta da!"

The old lady was holding out a bright yellow pajama top. It had the same unicorns and rainbows as Chanyeol's pink one but it was much smaller and, instead of Channie, there was Baekkie emroidered on the chest pocket.

"You're grandma just finished this yesterday because she insisted to hand stitch it. She wanted to give it last night but," Nonna let out a giggle. "She didn't think it was the right time. It's the perfect size, right?"

Chanyeol stared at the piece of clothing. Yes, it was the perfect size and he wanted so much to see Baekhyun wear it. Except he might not get the chance to witness it happen and the thought made Chanyeol want for halmeoni to hug and his hair just like she always does when Chanyeol was young and wasn't feeling well. He certainly wasn't feeling well right now.

"Halmeoni, Baekhyun left and he... I don't know where he is."

"What? But why? What did you do? Did you fight? What did you say? What happened?" The lady wrung her hands, crumpling the pajama top.

"I'm not exactly sure," he replied. "He... Baekhyun told me he loved me."

Chanyeol felt something in his eye. It was hot and damp and it was threatening to fall so he looked up at the ceiling, willing it to go away. He was afraid that it wouldn't stop once it started. Just like his feelings for Baekhyun.

"I knew that. Everybody knew that." Nonna said with a frown.

I didn't. I was too dumb. I didn't know.

He put so much effort in denying his own feelings that he didn't even see.

"He ran away."

"Then why didn't you run after him?" Nonna sounded agitated. "What if something bad happened to my Baekhyunnie?"

"I did. I tried to look for him but--"

"Did you tell him?" Halmeoni interrupted.

"Tell him what?"

Nonna looked at him expectantly. "That you loved him, too."

Chanyeol held up his hands helplessly.

The old woman took that as his answer and frowned disappointedly at him. She folded the pajama top and replaced it back on the shelf. She collected her bag before turning back to Chanyeol. "I'll take care of your Grandma for the meantime and won't tell her what happened. But find him. Or I won't cook and clean for you ever again." She started to walk to the door but paused. "He belongs with you so get him back."

Then Chanyeol was alone once again in his apartment.

I will get him back.

But what if Baekhyun doesn't want him anymore? What would he do by then?

He shook his head. No, he wouldn't think of that. Byun Baekhyun said Park Chanyeol was the best potato so how could he resist?

Chanyeol tiredly ran a hand through his hair. He wasn't feeling confident at all. All he knew was that Baekhyun should return to Chanyeol. He would have to, damnit.

Because just as much as Chanyeol was Baekhyun's potato, Baekhyun was Chanyeol's stray pup. They were entirely of different species, he knew, but Chanyeol loved Baekhyun too much to care.

 

 

 

 

 

Tao leaned against his parked car as he waited for Baekhyun to appear. He received a message from the guy earlier agreeing to meet up with him. He replied with the directions to the park Nonna took them to when they were kids.

It was Sunday and there were a lot of people milling about--children and their nannies, families having picnics and food vendors lining the largest pathway. The place was cheerful so he thought it would be the perfect place to meet with someone who was most probably sad.

He didn't exactly know what happened last night between Baekhyun and Chanyeol. He still believed that it was Chanyeol's responsibility to find and make Baekhyun come back to him but if he could help his friend in any way, he would. Chanyeol understood that. Tao knew that when he called him up early in the morning, it wasn't to bring Baekhyun back to him. It was to know if the other guy was okay.

He straightened when he saw a familiar figure walking towards him. Although there were dark circles under his eyes, Tao was relieved to see that Baekhyun was okay. The other waved at him with a smile but Tao could see the wariness in Baekhyun's stance.

"Hey," he greeted back before he led Baekhyun to a nearby bench.

They sat beside each other, Tao leaning forward and resting his forearms against his thighs while Baekhyun kept his back straight and his head bowed.

"Did you have trouble finding this place?"

"No. Um, I have been here before. Once." Baekhyun answered. A small smile and faraway look graced his face, as if he was remembering something happy.

"That's good," he replied quietly.

Both of them waited for the other to begin with what was important. Baekhyun, not used to keeping still, was the first to break.

"I just came to tell you... I'm sorry and thank you for everything."

"You don't need to thank me." Tao turned to face him. "Where are you staying?"

"I'm staying with a friend."

"Is it safe there? Give me the address so I can check--"

"It's okay, Tao-ssi. It's a safe place and I'll be careful. You don't have to worry about me," Baekhyun finally looked back at him. "You've already done so much. I don't even know how to properly thank you. But I think it's time I do things on my own again. I feel bad about depending too much on you and... Chanyeol."

"That's my job. I take care of things."

"But I'm not even your boss." Baekhyun chuckled.

Tao couldn't tell him that he wasn't only doing it for him; he was also doing it for Chanyeol. It wasn't actually because of the job but because they were both his friends.

"Doesn't matter," he said.

"How is Chanyeol?" the other asked in a small voice.

Tao guessed Baekhyun cared for his friend and it was time he had a clue of how important he was to Chanyeol, too. "Depends on what you want him to be."

"What do you mean?"

"You're happy, he's happy. You're sad, he's sad." He watched the play of emotions on Baekhyun's face. He wanted to make sure that Baekhyun felt the same way about Chanyeol. "What are you feeling now?"

"I'm... sad," Baekhyun answered hesitantly. "But Chanyeol couldn't be sad, too."

"I tell you, he is." He let the other take that in first before asking,"Baekhyun, why did you really leave?"

He saw Baekhyun bite his lower lip, the hands on his lap tightening their hold on his knees. The boy looked away from him again and when he spoke there was a slight quiver to his voice. "It hurts... loving a potato too much. It hurts knowing that a potato won't love you back."

Tao didn't know the deal about potatoes but he got it. The short guy really loved Chanyeol. "Let me peel that potato."

That startled a short laugh out of Baekhyun. "Maybe we could boil it so it will turn softer."

"Mash it, I say." Tao grinned, too.

Baekhyun sighed. "No, let's not. Because it's the best potato. One of a kind."

"Then why don't you keep it with you? Isn't there a story where a potato turned human when it was kissed by its true love or something?"

"Tao, I don't think there's a story like that," Baekhyun said laughingly.

"If there isn't then make one. Make it a happy ending," he said seriously.

"I can't. I'm not the potato's true love and it already has its happy ending."

Tao rolled his eyes. "Sometimes even pups are kind of dumb, too."

Baekhyun looked blankly at him. "Nevermind. What are your plans now? Where do you--"

Tao paused abruptly as he caught a glimpse of a tall, blonde man, standing beside a tree. What the hell?

"Uh, Baekhyun, I'm sorry but you need to go. I mean, I need to go." He stood up and pulled the other with him. They stopped near the main pathway. "I'm going to talk to you again, okay? I'll call you. I just... Go home now."

Baekhyun looked confused but thankfully didn't ask any questions. "Okay. But Tao, please don't tell Chanyeol about anything I've said."

"Got it. Just go straight home, okay?" Tao urged. Baekhyun said goodbye and walked away. Tao watched him go until he was sure there was no one following the boy. He stiffened though when he felt a presence behind him, all his senses going on alert.

"Cute kid."

"I said stop following me," Tao said with gritted teeth.

He heard the guy move closer until he could feel his warm breath near his ear. "Would you rather I follow Byun Baekhyun instead?"

That got Tao to turn around and face the smirking Kris Wu. "There already was an agreement, you idiot. We make the payments, you leave Baekhyun alone. I already gave you the first part a week ago. We shouldn't even meet again until next week. You couldn’t wait to get your greedy hands on the money, can't you?"

 

 

 

 

 

He had been there watching since the black-haired guy parked his car. Kris was unused to seeing Tao out of his black suit. He was wearing dark slashed jeans and a thin gray shirt. With all the earrings and leather wristbands, he looked more like a rocker than a bodyguard. But it doesn't change the fact that Kris wanted him. Not one bit.

It was a surprise when Baekhyun arrived. He didn't expect that Tao was there to meet with the shorter guy. To be honest, he really didn't care for he wasn't after him anyway, he was after the dark-eyed boy who he couldn't stop thinking about. He wanted to laugh when Tao spotted him before going all protective over the Baekhyun guy all of a sudden. There was a flash of something dark in his slanted eyes that just made Kris want him more.

"--You couldn't wait to get your greedy hands on the money, can't you?"

He looked down at the guy in front of him and smirked. No, I couldn't wait to get my hands on you, he wanted to say however, he didn't want to die just yet so he ignored the question and opted to lift his hand to touch the earring in Tao's left ear. "You wore it."

The assistant pulled back with a glare. "I asked a question."

"Would it make you happy if I said yes, I am after the money and so on and so forth?" He raised his brow.

"No, but it would give me more reasons to beat you up."

There was nothing new there. "If I told you again that it's you I want, what do I get?"

"You get an extra kick and a punch."

Kris figured he could take that. It would hurt but he couldn't give it up. It was strange. There were others who would, at a snap of a finger, bow to his every wish. But not Huang Zitao.

And maybe that was it.

"I want you."

The guy's eyes narrowed and he looked ready to give Kris the beating of his life but then the glare disappeared. And Tao was suddenly too close; Kris could see the brown flecks in his irises.

"Do you?" he murmured, his gaze dropping to Kris' lips. "Do you really want me?"

All he could do was swallow nervously and nod. He wasn't used to Tao not glowering at him.

"Then you have to do as I say. If I win, you'd leave me the hell alone."

Win? They were going to have a competition? He wasn't sure what the conditions were and he'd probably end up dead but... "If I win, I get to have you."

"Maybe."

The answer was vague at best. Kris shrugged. At least it was something. "Okay."

"Follow me."

He didn't anticipate Tao to bring him to his house. He had known the guy's address a long time ago (he had been stalking him) but he has not dared to follow him inside yet. Kris knew the guy lived alone and he wasn't sure why the knowledge was both making him excited and nervous. He could kill me and no one will know, he told himself. But then again if he won whatever competition it was that Tao was talking about, well then being alone with him was perfect.

Tao led him to his spacious backyard bordered by a stone wall. His house was a traditional one, made of hard and soft wood. Kris took a peek as they passed by a window and saw that there was barely any furniture inside.

He was so busy with subtly studying the place when something hit him in the chest. Kris automatically grabbed on to it and saw that he was holding onto a long wooden stick. What now? Tao couldn't seriously think he will--

"Fight me."

Kris knew it. He'd die.

"Fight me. Simple rules. We each have a stick to fight with. First to hit the ground loses," the guy said with a smug smile.

First to hit the ground? "So if my touches the ground, I’ll lose?"

"Yeah."

Kris looked at the grass covering the yard. It couldn't be too painful, could it? He would certainly lose (he'd last five minutes tops) but it was five minutes of Huang Zitao going at him.

"Fine. Game."

"Do I have your word, Wu? You will leave me alone when I win?"

He nodded.

When and not if. He was a bit offended that Tao was so sure that he would lose. Yeah, he would but he didn't have to rub it in, he grumbled as he pulled up the sleeves of his blue button up shirt.

Well, thats unfair, he thought when he looked up and watched Tao take off his shirt, revealing his toned arms in a black wife beater. Okay so three minutes then.

"Ready?"

Kris threw him a confident smirk, hoping the other wouldn't see that he was more than a bit jumpy. Tao advanced on him, making Kris step back and hold on to the stick tighter. The guy took two more quick steps before ing the wushu stick forward. Kris, startled with the attack, almost got hit. Good thing he was able to lean back, wobbling a little on his feet.

He has yet to gain his balance when Tao spun and tried to hit him again. And succeeded. He got him just above his stomach and it hurt like the devil. Kris was about to fall but he finally found a use for the stick. He used it to prop himself up before hopping sideways. He wasn't sure if he looked stupid moving like a dancing crab but he sure as hell felt stupid. No time to cry over it, however, since his opponent was gaining in on him. He would have gone further but one glance at the person behind him stopped him on his tracks.

Tao looked glorious. The warm rays of the afternoon sun touched his head of raven hair, making it shine. His skin glowed with a thin sheet of sweat and Kris felt it again, the heat crawling up his spine and the unsteady twisting of his gut.

He lost even before all of these began. He was lost.

Tao used that second Kris was distracted. The black-haired guy propelled the stick towards him once more, too close for Kris to dodge. He got another blow on his shoulder and this time, he felt himself falling. In more ways than one.

His hand reflexively grabbed on anything to stop his descent, extending out and catching the same weapon that hit him. He saw Tao's eyes widen, not expecting for Kris to pull him down with him. Kris let out a loud groan as his hands and hit the ground for it wasn't just grass. Large pebbles dug into his and it, he was going to be black and blue. It didn't end there, though, because he felt a body fall on top of him, doubling the pain and making him groan again.

He opened his eyes to find Tao's face, extra close, looking startled and discomfited. Kris sat straighter, ignoring his aching . For once, the gods must have taken pity on him because Huang Zitao was right where he wanted him: on top of him, straddling his lap. The younger guy tried to stand up but Kris s his arm around Tao's waist and pulled him closer. He was courting death again but to hell with it, Tao felt good against him.

"You lost. Let me go, Wu."

It was curious though how Tao wasn't exactly trying to pull away. They stayed there, eyes locked and Kris forgot about everything except--

"Call me Kris."

It was too much to resist. Kris closed the space between their lips and kissed him. He felt the guy freeze in his arms. Disappointed, Kris broke the kiss. What was he expecting anyway? For all his pushing and stalking, he wanted someone who wanted him in return.

He waited for Tao to get up and shove him away, maybe throw a punch or two before leaving. But he remained there on Kris' lap, unmoving.

"You… lost," the younger said again.

Yes. Except on second thought, Tao not pulling away felt like winning. What if--and he was going out on a limb here--Tao liked him, too?

"No, I didn't." Kris held him closer and touched Tao's jaw with his free hand. "I won this."

He attempted to kiss Tao again but the guy stopped him with a finger against his forehead.

“You can do this only because I let you. Understood, Wu?”

“Crystal.”

This time, it was Tao who fitted his lips against his, kissing him. Kris' heart was thundering inside his chest and it seemed an extreme reaction to something that was, in fact, just a chaste kiss. But then he felt Tao's hand run through his hair to rest against Kris' nape to draw him closer.

Never had losing felt so bad and so good.

 

 

 

 

"You're going out?" Jongin asked and Kyungsoo had to smile at the disappointed tone in his voice.

"I'm just going out to get some things from the grocery. And aren't your ears going to fall off yet?" Kyungsoo glanced at his wristwatch. "We've been talking on the phone for close to two hours now."

"We have? Well, I don't care. Don't you want to talk to me?"

Kyungsoo rolled his eyes in exasperation. "I didn't say that."

He was shaking his head at Jongin but in truth he felt so happy he'd probably burst from trying to keep it all in. After all, he shouldn't let him know or else he'd be all smug and wouldn't let Kyungsoo live it down.

Last night was incredible. So many things have happened; he didn't know precisely where to begin.

The launch was a success. He just saw the Sunday paper and it was the main article on the Entertainment section. They praised Kyungsoo and Lu Han's singing and dancing abilities, saying they were "the act to watch out for" and that they were sure to "take Asia and the rest of the world by storm." He hoped that when their actual debut song came out, people would still react positively.

Kyungsoo also found out about Chanyeol's feelings. He felt sad when he thought of all those years he always chose Jongin over him--whether it was who to be his project partner or who would hear his first self-composed song--not knowing that Chanyeol thought he was in love with him. It must have hurt and Kyungsoo wanted to make it up to him. Not because of pity but because Chanyeol was his best friend, too, and he loved him. He just hoped that Chanyeol would find that person who could make him happy. Because Kyungsoo already found his.

Hearing Jongin tell him that he loved him was surreal. How could Jongin even love him back? Kyungsoo doesn't even want to attempt answering that. When he woke up this morning, he was a bit afraid that he just dreamed it all--the way Jongin confessed and hugged him from behind, the way he held his hand while he was driving Kyungsoo home and the way Jongin kissed his cheek when he said goodnight to him on his doorstep.

But then it couldn’t have been a dream because there was that text message from Jongin.

I'll be busy today but I'll call you, okay? I love you.

Kyungsoo was embarrassed by how he kept on fiddling with his phone all day, willing it to ring. Jongin did call two hours ago and they have been talking nonstop since then. He was a little disappointed that he couldn't spend the day together with him--Jongin said he couldn't get away from what he was doing--but it was absolutely thrilling how the guy told him I love you every five minutes or so, in between sentences and even out of topic.

...So that first time I got there, it was raining so hard and it was so cold. I love you, have I told that? Yes? Okay, so going back. I found out it was always raining in London.

"Are you going out now?" Jongin asked, interrupting his thoughts.

"Yes. I'm on my way to the door. Just getting my car keys," he replied as got his keys before going out. "I'm outside now and going to hang up okay?"

"But Kyungsoo--"

"Jongin, I'll talk to you later."

"Tell it to me first."

"Tell you what?"

"Tell me you love me," Jongin replied and Kyungsoo could imagine the stubborn look on his face.

"Later, Jongin." He hung up, feeling a little guilty for teasing Jongin but nonetheless extremely pleased.

He was by the gates when someone grabbed him from behind and it went dark as he was tied with a blindfold. "Hey! Let me go!" he said in a panic. Kyungsoo tried to struggle free but had to stop when he felt something pointed press against his back. "What do you want?"

There was no answer but he could feel his wrists being tied in front of him. "What do you want?" he asked again.

A hand held onto his arm and pulled him along.

Oh my god, am I being kidnapped? He tried to resist the hand dragging him but the guy was strong. He was pushed inside the backseat of a car and was frustrated when his abductor got in beside him, dashing his hope of escaping.

Scared, Kyungsoo tried to threaten the guy back. "You should release me at once. Or my... my boyfriend will come after you!" The hold on his arms tightened and Kyungsoo thought that maybe his words were working. "Yes. My boyfriend will come after you. And he's really tall and strong. He can beat you up with just one punch."

"Let me go now and he won't hunt you down and make you regret abducting me. He's going to call me and when I don't answer, he'll know there's something wrong. My boyfriend loves me so much so he won't wait before going after you."

Kyungsoo knew the things he was saying were ridiculous but surely, not all of them. Because Jongin really loved him, right?

"He really loves me," he whispered and he felt the guy beside him lean closer. Was he changing his mind? However, the car stopped and the guy retreated. Kyungsoo heard the door open and then he was being pulled again. It was a short walk before he sensed that they were going inside a building. They made a few turns, their footsteps echoing against the floor.

He heard a door open and he was led by the arms to what felt like the center of a cavernous room. Then his abductor freed his wrists before abruptly taking off the blindfold. Kyungsoo had to blink several times but it was so dark inside, it didn't make a difference if he was blindfolded or not. "Who are you? Where did you take me?"

In response, a switch and Kyungsoo gaped at his surroundings. There were hundreds and hundreds of tiny lights around the place and one spotlight focused on him. This looked familiar. This couldn't be...

But it was. It was his debut stage, three years ago.

Kyungsoo saw a movement to his left and was surprised some more when he saw a Starling lightstick held by his tall and strong boyfriend.

"Kim Jongin."

 

 

 

 

 

"Yes?" Jongin answered as he walked closer to the livid Kyungsoo.

"I'm this close to killing you. Oh my god," the smaller boy glared at him. "I thought I was being carried to god knows where and... and it was just you!" Kyungsoo was flailing his arms in anger.

"I'm sorry?" he said when he was about a foot away from the irate singer. "I just thought it was cool. I mean I wanted to do something romantic--"

"Romantic!? Almost giving me a heart attack was romantic!?" Kyungsoo fumed. "Take me home now."

"But I thought you'd appreciate it," Jongin said as he stepped closer. "Don't you remember?"

Kyungsoo remained silent and glowering at him.

"Kyungsoo, you don't remember? January 2004. My birthday? I was about to go out to my party when I was blindfolded and dragged to god knows where. And I was crying because I was going to miss my own party and my cake, the gifts--" he trailed off when he saw Kyungsoo's eyes widen in recollection.

"You remember now?" Jongin smiled when the other guy nodded slowly.

"I dragged you to our playhouse," Kyungsoo said. "Then you were shocked when you find out it was just me. There was snot running down your nose."

"Do you still want to kill me?" Jongin asked. He touched Kyungsoo's temple with his index finger. He was so happy just because he was with him.

"Yes, I do," Kyungsoo answered but Jongin could see he didn't mean it.

He had planned all this last night, just after he dropped Kyungsoo off at his house. He barely had everything fixed but he couldn't wait. He wanted this to happen now because he wanted their future to start soon.

"I realized we had been together at almost every important moment of your life. I don't have a memory of it but Nonna told me I was there when you said your first word. They said you gurgled Jong just before you hit me with your rattle.”

“In fifth grade, we were together when you secretly auditioned for the school recital to surprise your mom. In sixth, we were together when you finished your first full song and titled it 'Strawberry Cakes.' That time it was your keyboard you hit me with when I fell off my seat with laughter." Jongin chuckled.

"You deserved it," Kyungsoo muttered but Jongin could see that he was trying his best not to laugh, too.

"In Junior year, we were together when you got your driving license but you were too chicken to actually drive so we ended up riding bikes to celebrate at the ice cream shop near campus."

"Chanyeol was there, too."

"Yeah, you got flat tired so we ended up walking. But because the princess had short legs he couldn't really walk far so we carried you on our backs, alternately, until Chanyeol was complaining that you had sharp bones on your knees that kept digging on his sides."

"Yes, so you ended up carrying me the rest of the way home," Kyungsoo continued, smiling now.

"Senior prom. We didn't attend even though Chanyeol and I got tuxedos that absolutely made us gorgeous because our best friend had a fever and couldn't go. We both stayed at your room, playing videogames and tempting you with chocolate because you weren't allowed to eat them," Jongin grinned at the memory of red-nosed Kyungsoo wrapped up in blankets, looking miserable and envious of him and Chanyeol.

"But you gave me a bite anyway."

"I did," Jongin said. "I'd give you everything if it will make you happy."

Then he pulled Kyungsoo into his arms and rested his cheek against his hair. "I want to be in all of your memories. All the important and even the unimportant ones. I want to be in your future, too. But I missed three years, Kyungsoo. I know I can't get them all back but at least I can be in this moment. I want to show you what I would've done if I had been there at your debut."

Kyungsoo, understanding shining in his eyes, stepped back and touched Jongin's cheek. Then he sang to him.

Ill be here, Ill be here.

Jongin let Kyungsoo's beautiful voice wrap around him just like how his arms were around Kyungsoo. He stared at the face he missed every second of these past three years and thanked the heavens for bringing him back home. He was almost disappointed when the song ended.

"Now, what would you have done if you had been there?" Kyungsoo looked at him expectantly.

Jongin tilted his boyfriend's face up to his. "I would have hugged you like this. Then I would have said 'You did it.' When we got alone I would have told you I loved you over and over again until you can't do anything but accept me."

Jongin's thumb brushed a stray tear from Kyungsoo's eye. "After that, I'll tell you I love you again… Before I kiss you like this."

Jongin placed his mouth on top of Kyungsoo's and it was magical. Every brush of their lips was pure heaven. Jongin felt his heart clutch painfully but it was a good kind of ache. I love you, he thought. I love you, I love you, I love you...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

an: um yeah /throws everyone the crappiest of the crap otl
its so awful ide want to reread it orz
really sorry again for late updates. just really busy cause classes omg
every day I go home and just cry from exhaustion orz
but enough of my drama. so im really sorry for this chap.
I want to tie up some things before going all baekyeol…
bec next 2 chaps are baekyeol everywhere chaps (my longtime readers should know these type of chaps lol)
and it I know. also it hasn’t been betaed so will repost this weekend with the edited one.
and hopefully chap 15, too!
 
thanks so much to new subbies, comments, upvotes AND NEW TWITTER FRIENDS hallo!!! o/
 
this chapter is for OSM’s and SAE and AMY and KYUNGSOO’s THIGHS lol
and for EFESTIONE who had been w me for a year. BELATED HAPPY BDAY DEAR!
 
I know im forgetting to tell something… but idek lol 
OH YEAH THE EXOFORSICHUAN event.
you get to bid on your fave exo authors on lj to write a fic for you
in exchange for donations for Sichuan province. GO SPREAD THE LOVE AND BID!
(i participated tho cause they said every dollar counts. so a $1 bid is appreciated lol)
 
oh yeah extending this to chap 20??? I guess. or not.
who wants more crap anyway lol

 

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YoungWoo17
ill be replying to the comments soon.. omg just so many but i will. ilu guys
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