Gravity

Iris

 

Everything begins because Chanyeol’s father is a coward.

 

It started on a clear day with no clouds as far as the eye can see, the air heavy and suffocated by the taste of newly-fallen rain. It’s a wet and earthy smell that clings onto skin pores, making them ooze with sweat and discomfort. The cicadas are still murmuring upon chlorophyll-drenched leaves that are nurturing those stray droplets of water from last night’s storm even with the sun’s poisonous fingertips the life out of everything--

 

including Chanyeol’s mother.

 

And Chanyeol doesn’t quite understand why there are people crying right now, all dressed in black suits and dresses with the sharp smell of white chrysanthemums pollinating the humid air. He looks up with his pure, six-year old eyes at his father whose hand is wrapped tightly around his. He notices that his father is the only one not crying, his face stern and serious, so he’s not quite sure how to act right now.

 

He glances around one more time before tugging on the hand, trying to garner attention. Chanyeol’s father crouches down slowly so that they’re on the same eye level with each other before trying to smile gently.

 

“What is it?” he asks his young son softly, trying to remain warm despite the miasma of death threatening to pulverize him.

 

“Where’s mommy?” Chanyeol asks in his high-pitched voice. “Why is her picture over there? Is she famous?” He points at the frame by the alter, the color dots making up his mother’s smiling face staring back through the piles of flowers.

 

Chanyeol’s father thinks about his words carefully. And he’s known that this confrontation would come sooner or later but even that knowledge doesn’t prepare him quite well enough. “She’s living somewhere else now...” he manages.

 

“Where? Can we visit her?”

 

“No, it’s very difficult to get there. She...” His mind is tumbling and fumbling through words, picking them up and putting them down again, trying to find the right ones to correctly convey the meaning of the situation. But how do you even explain something like death? What kind of words can contain the true intensity of something that you've never experienced before?

 

But it doesn't matter anyway because he’s too slow, which makes Chanyeol suggest something bold. “Like outer space?”

 

“...Yes, she lives in outer space now.”

 

Because Chanyeol’s father is a coward.

 

 

------

 

 

What Chanyeol’s father didn’t expect was for his seemingly small white lie to snowball and escalate into something else; something much grander in scheme and design. The day after the funeral, he catches sight of his son running around the house with purpose, wearing a bicycle helmet and goggles meant for swimming on his face. He’s looking through every cabinet and drawer he can possibly reach with his little arms.

 

After he finishes upturning his entire bedroom and half the living room in a massive hurricane of cluttered objects thrown haphazardly on the floor and across every surface, Chanyeol’s father decides to pry into his son’s rather strange behavior. “Are you looking for something?”

 

Chanyeol’s little head pops up out of the couch cushions. “Do we have a flashlight? A big one.”

 

Parenting by himself is rather difficult now due to his wife’s absence so he tries to play along with whatever his son is planning to do, going into the garage to pull out their emergency-grade flashlight. A flashlight won’t hurt anyone. It’s the absolutely brilliant grin on his son’s face that makes him feel like maybe everything will be okay. Maybe things will come back to some type of equilibrium after his beloved’s death.

 

It’s when Chanyeol asks to go to the park down the street at nine at night when things really seem strange.

 

“Why do you want to go so late? You won’t be able to see anything,” he discusses with his son after dinner, rationalizing his desire to go to the park as a desire to play.

 

“That’s the point! It needs to be dark!” Chanyeol tries to reason with his father as if it was such an obvious thing. Of course it needs to be dark. Why doesn’t he understand? “If you’re scared of the dark then we can go together,” Chanyeol suggests as he's drinking his milk, interpreting his father’s confusion as fear.

 

Their discussion ends with Chanyeol’s father grabbing his coat and Chanyeol bringing a wire coat hanger, the flashlight, his biking helmet, a wireless stereo, and swim goggles to the park.

 

What.

 

There seems to be some strange type of bounce in Chanyeol’s steps as he nearly skips there, his father stuck pulling the little wagon holding the seemingly random collection of objects. “Hurry!” he urges.

 

The second they arrive, Chanyeol immediately grabs a couple of the objects and carries them up the play structure, going back to get more until they’re all sitting at the top. He methodically arranges them in just the correct way, putting his helmet and goggles on before sticking the coat hanger onto the stereo.

 

Chanyeol’s father stands at the bottom of the play structure in confusion.

 

But what really has him struck with a pang of guilt is what his son does next.

 

Chanyeol turns on the flashlight and blinks it up into the starry fabric of the sky, turning it on and off. “Chanyeol to mommy. Chanyeol to mommy. Mommy! Can you hear me?” he shouts as he waves the flashlight around.

 

It’s all because Chanyeol’s father is a coward.

 

 

------

 

 

One day, Chanyeol’s teacher leaves a message on his father’s mobile phone asking for a parent-teacher conference.

 

Chanyeol comes home with a nasty splattering of broken blood vessels on his knee, creating a sludge-colored bruise, and a black eye sitting in an inky ring on his youthful face.

 

“What happened?” Chanyeol’s father tries to ask calmly. He’s been reading numerous parenting magazines lately in his single-parent distress. They’ve all told him to be composed when it comes to children getting into fights but his nerves are definitely not composed right now as he’s icing his son’s face.

 

Chanyeol pouts, tiny lip sticking out so far that it can be used as a shelf. “The kids at school told me that mommy is dead so I hit them.”

 

The shock comes first from the fact that the fight was centered around his wife. Then, he exclaims loudly, “You hit them?” If Chanyeol’s father was nervous before, he’s frantic now.

 

“They hit me first! Mommy always told me not to take a beating sitting down so I made sure to stand up from my seat before hitting them!” Chanyeol states indignantly, hands on his hips and chest puffed out. “Mommy’s alive! She just doesn’t live with us anymore!”

 

Looks like lies don’t disappear so easily.

 

 

------

 

 

It’s after a particularly stressful day at work, with Chanyeol’s father coming home exhausted and needing a break, when things crack and shatter. His son has made a habit of carrying the large flashlight with him everywhere (in case I want to talk to mommy, he reasons). Chanyeol’s been steadily accumulating bruises and scratches now for the last year and his father can’t help but blame himself.

 

So he steels his nerves and prepares himself to right this lie that he created; the lie that seems to have grown larger than he ever expected.

 

It’s at the dinner table when he decides to say it. “...Chanyeol, I’m really sorry that I lied this whole time but... the truth is that... mom really is dead.”

 

Chanyeol drops his spoon with a clatter onto the ceramic plate, staring with wide eyes at his father as if he can’t believe he just said that. After a second, his eyes start to water with tears and his little body trembles. “No, she’s not!” he shouts, getting out of his chair and running upstairs.

 

His father sighs, watching his son go and hoping that the parenting magazines were right and that he just needs some time to initially digest the idea that his mother is now long gone and not coming back. It’s when he’s climbing into bed later that night when he hears the front door slam and bolts out of his bedroom. “Chanyeol!”

 

And he’s frantic and worried and someone-help-me! as he’s running through the streets searching for his son. After fifteen minutes, he groans and realizes that the only place Chanyeol would be is at the park. So he sprints down the block and low-and-behold finds his son wailing at the top of his lungs on top of the play structure.

 

“Chanyeol, let’s go home. It’s cold out here.” He climbs up on the structure and tries to tug his son by the arm but is only met with resistance.

 

“No! I’m not going!” he sobs, waving his flashlight around. “How could you say that about mom? I hate you!”

 

And it hurts more than he expected to hear his son say those words, the words that he’s been dreading to hear since this entire situation was forced upon him. But he tries to calm the hurt and manages to pull his son into his arms and holds him tightly there close to his heart.

 

You only die when people cease to believe that you’re alive.

 

 

 

 

-------------

 

 

 

 

Years later, Chanyeol thinks that he’s dying too.

 

He groans as his stomach continues to rumble like a typhoon ready to obliterate him into pieces. He’s too scared of even moving lest he upset the acid sitting in there. But it’s useless anyway because he feels that familiar burn rushing up his throat and he sprints over to the bathroom.

 

The acrid smell of vomit stings and his eyes water in pain. He knew he shouldn’t have eaten the fish that’s been sitting in their refrigerator for weeks now. He knew he shouldn’t have done it. So he groans again with his head resting on the toilet bowl, sweat pooling on his brow.

 

His father shuffles over to the bathroom and peeks inside. “I brought you some water with sugar and bread to eat.”

 

And Chanyeol doesn’t doubt that his father read about this remedy in one of his parenting magazines. “Thanks,” he mumbles, exhausted.

 

“Are you going to be okay with meeting your IRIS match tomorrow? Should we reschedule?” his father asks after he watches his son consume the liquid mixture.

 

Chanyeol’s head shoots up from his position. “No! You don’t get days off a lot so we should go!”

 

Chanyeol’s father isn’t too sure about this but obeys his son’s wishes anyway.

 

 

------

 

 

Kyungsoo’s sitting on a posh bench inside of an even more extravagant fitting room inside of a store that sells clothes that would up all of the money in his life’s savings account... and then consume it whole, asking for more.

 

It’s here where Kyungsoo’s staring at his best friend’s bare back as he’s pulling on a t-shirt that looks absolutely ordinary; one that he’s sure he can find in the back of his closet somewhere or at a thrift store.

 

But this shirt costs as much as his parents’ car.

 

“What do you think?” Baekhyun asks as he turns a bit to look at himself in the mirror, smoothing out the shirt on his chest.

 

“It looks like any other shirt?” Kyungsoo answers honestly, sipping on his fruit smoothie that he bought earlier.

 

Baekhyun sighs and removes it. “What am I supposed to wear tomorrow?”

 

Kyungsoo continues sipping on his smoothie but his gaze averts to the floor, instantly envious of his friend. He’s been waiting his entire life to meet Jongin but he won’t be able to for at least a few more years. But, here’s his friend who was just matched by IRIS three weeks ago and he’s going to meet his partner tomorrow.

 

He’s so jealous.

 

So he sighs through his nose, knowing that it can’t be helped. Baekhyun’s just really lucky. “Are you nervous?”

 

“I just hope he’s not a complete . I hate the dominant type,” Baekhyun replies offhandedly, pulling another shirt over his head.

 

Kyungsoo wonders if Jongin’s the dominant type.

 

 

------

 

 

Baekhyun inspects his manicured fingernails while waiting for his match in the cafe of a pristine hotel. He glances around and wrinkles his nose at the low-class choice of location. Three-star hotels are so subpar for someone who has only had the best of everything.

 

And that’s exactly what he expects his spouse to be like.

 

He expects him to be the best of the best because only the best is good enough for Baekhyun. From his luxury car to his clothes, even his best friend, Kyungsoo, entered his elite school on a full academic scholarship. When you have the means to afford to have such luxuries, why not indulge yourself?

 

Baekhyun looks over at his parents when they start to wave at the two approaching men. There’s a thrill of excitement that washes over his chest the second he realizes that they’re here so he slowly turns his head to greet them.

 

Oh, yes. Baekhyun likes what he sees.

 

Him and his parents stand up to exchange polite handshakes and Baekhyun notices just how tall his fiance is. But, it’s his voice that really sends shivers down his spine.

 

“It’s nice to meet you! I’m Chanyeol.” His fiance grins widely and Baekhyun notes the perfectly straight white teeth.

 

This is going well.

 

So there’s a small smile that graces Baekhyun’s cheeks as he casts sneaky glances at his fiance throughout the meal. What he doesn’t notice is Chanyeol’s grimaces that tell of his stomach bug from yesterday.

 

But he soon finds out.

 

Chanyeol frowns, bringing the cloth napkin off his lap and placing it on the table. “Please excuse me,” he gurgles, trying to keep his stomach down.

 

“Oh, are you going to the restroom? I’ll come with you,” Baekhyun suggests, snatching the opportunity to spend time alone together by getting up and grabbing onto the fabric of Chanyeol’s elbow.  

 

“No, I--”

 

And everything happens so fast because Chanyeol regurgitates his meal all over Baekhyun’s expensive t-shirt. Everyone gasps and a few curious gazes shoot over at the scene. Baekhyun’s absolutely petrified, his mouth and eyes wide open in shock and terror.

 

“I’m so sorry!” Chanyeol apologizes, mind racing to find ways to resolve the situation. In his haste, he pulls Baekhyun’s shirt off and the other man squeaks in surprise. And Baekhyun’s eyes dart around to see all of the astonished faces at the situation and his skin promptly morphs into an embarrassed hue of deep red as Chanyeol sheds his own shirt to give to him, apologies falling from his mouth all the while.

 

It’s when Baekhyun can’t take it anymore and-- “Just stop it! Don’t touch me!” he shrieks, stalking out of the hotel as fast as he can.

 

Chanyeol asks his mother for advice that night.

 

 

------

 

 

“He is the absolute worst! How can such a hot guy turn out to be the biggest ing moron in the whole world!” Baekhyun screams into the phone at his best friend the next evening.

 

“He threw up on you? Is he sick? Maybe you should bring him something,” Kyungsoo suggests calmly, unphased by his friend’s outrage.

 

“Are you kidding me? I never want to see that buffoon ever again!” Baekhyun huffs. “I’d rather get arrested by IRIS than live with him. You don’t understand how many people were staring at me!”

 

There’s a knock at his door and a maid peeks her head into his bedroom. “You have a guest,” she states.

 

“Kyungsoo, I have to go. See you tomorrow at school,” he says, hanging up. Baekhyun climbs off his bed as someone enters his bedroom and-- his face falls in the most obvious way, a look of pure disgust as he takes in who is here to see him.

 

“What are you doing here?” Baekhyun snarls.

 

“Hey, um,” Chanyeol starts, somewhat shy. “I got this for you.” And he hands him a paper bag. Baekhyun eyes the bag for a moment before taking it, somewhat happy to receive a gift. He pulls out the tissue-paper wrapped present from the bag and unfurls it.

 

It’s a t-shirt.

 

Chanyeol notices his blank expression and explains, “I’m really sorry. I had the stomach bug yesterday. I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”

 

Somehow, there’s a flood of happiness that discharges itself into Baekhyun’s veins at the simple and inexpensive gift. Maybe it’s because he finds Chanyeol oh-so attractive or maybe it's because so few people have shown him such consideration before but his expression softens and he mumbles, “Thanks.”

 

Chanyeol smiles brightly at Baekhyun and Baekhyun thinks that he’s starting to become interested in this person.

 

 

------

 

 

His interest escalates quickly into something much more when he decides to learn more about Chanyeol.

 

By stalking him.

 

“Baekhyun, can we go home?” Kyungsoo whines, throwing his body down onto the tabletop. “We’ve been following him for hours.”

 

“You're so useless! Just go home then!” Baekhyun hisses, turning his head to stare at his fiance from across the cafe. They’ve been following him since school let out (thank goodness their schools are near each other) and Baekhyun seems like he can’t get enough of the guy because they followed him from the school, to the convenience store, to the arcade, and now here to a restaurant where he’s eating alone.

 

Kyungsoo’s also curious about how Jongin lives his life but he doesn’t conduct a stakeout at the hospital where he works because that’s just plain creepy.

 

“I thought you said that you hated him,” Kyungsoo mumbles, glancing at Chanyeol who is taking a bite of his sandwich.

 

Baekhyun flushes a pretty pink and stutters, “I-- well-- just-- I never said that.”

 

Kyungsoo smiles a bit, knowingly. “So you like him?”

 

“I never-- I never said that either, Kyungsoo!” Baekhyun takes a long drink from his sparkling water with a lemon in it. It’s then that Chanyeol finishes up his meal and leaves a bill on the table, getting up to leave. “Oh! Let’s go!”

 

But the second they step out of the restaurant, Kyungsoo somehow disappears and Baekhyun mumbles ‘traitor’ under his breath. Baekhyun continues to follow Chanyeol though, ducking behind lamp posts and corners to remain hidden. The night air is starting to get chilly as the winds swirl around him and he can see his breath materializing in white puffs. Maybe it’s time for him to go home after all.

 

But Chanyeol walks down the street and into a park, making Baekhyun suddenly curious as to why he’d be at the park so late at night. So he enters too, hiding behind a bush as he watches Chanyeol climb onto the play structure. He sees him remove a miniature stereo from his backpack (who carries those anymore anyway?) and a flashlight.

 

Baekhyun makes a face, wondering what he could possibly be doing when--

 

“Hey mom. I think I did well on my test today--”

 

Baekhyun’s heart sinks as his mind starts to race because he’s pretty sure Chanyeol’s mother is dead. He sinks deeper behind the bush and puts his hands over his mouth, unsure what to think. And in between his jostled thoughts, he doesn’t realize the rustling and suddenly--

 

“Hey, what are you doing here? It’s cold,” Chanyeol states as if it’s the most normal thing in the world to find his fiance crouching behind a bush in the park at night.

 

Baekhyun looks up at him with wide eyes, not because he was caught peeping at him but because the cogs of his brain are getting clogged with pebbles and boulders of assumptions and something that has the metallic taste of misery. Chanyeol notes his concern and tugs on his arm, pulling him into a standing position and dragging him down the sidewalk towards the train station. “Let me take you home.”

 

Baekhyun’s eyebrows crinkle with sadness as he follows Chanyeol with the street lights illuminating patches of land around them. He looks at the large hand wrapped around his wrist with distress before timidly inquiring, “Um...”

 

But Chanyeol already knows what he’s going to ask, a knowing smirk on his face. “My mom lives in outer space. I try to talk to her everyday.”

 

And Baekhyun’s sadness just gets heavier, staining his heart and seeping into his blood under the crushing weight of gravity. Noticing the awkward silence, Chanyeol expects his fiance to react the same way everyone else has; to push him away and try to shout reason into his face. There’s no way that his mother lives in outer space. There’s no way that she’ll hear him if he uses a flashlight to communicate with her. “Are you disappointed, Baekhyun?” Because I’m not who I seem to be...

 

Baekhyun stops, an action that makes Chanyeol stop too on the sidewalk. He shakes his head slowly, eyes downcast. “Why would I be when it just shows that you care about her?”

 

And the moment is so raw with an unknown sort of freshness; a misty relief that makes Chanyeol want to cry because he’s never experienced such acceptance for his seemingly strange actions before, having been accustomed to the snide remarks and mean comments.

 

“Thanks, Baekhyun. Thanks,” Chanyeol breathes into the night air.

 

And Baekhyun glances up at him with his heart pounding loudly in his ears, making his lungs shudder with excitement.

 

Baekhyun thinks that he’s in love.

 

 

------

 

 

 

Baekhyun goes to pick up Chanyeol at school later that week.

 

He’s standing outside the gates, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet as numerous students flood out with whispers of do you see his uniform? and what a rich kid smearing the air. He scoffs, used to everyone’s insulting comments about his status and looks inside of the paper bag that he’s holding.

 

He smiles a bit. He went through a lot of trouble trying to find a shirt that’s identical to the one Chanyeol bought for him and there’s a tiny flutter in his head at the thought of couple shirts. Couple shirts. Baekhyun’s sure that it’ll be great.

 

It’s when the students start to disperse that makes him wonder if Chanyeol even went to school today. He realizes that he doesn’t have his phone number so, out of curiosity, he ventures into the school. If he’s not there today then he’ll just come back tomorrow. No big deal. He makes beelines around the first floor until he comes to the back of the school and exits from there. After a few steps outside, there’s a brash thud that reverberates through the air and he instantly becomes cautious. Despite the fear that’s taking root within his veins, he approaches the sound anyway.

 

He peeks around the corner and flinches when he sees Chanyeol smash someone against the wall and throw a hard punch that gives birth to a loud crack. He’s out of breath as he grabs his backpack, leaving his offender groaning and nursing his facial wound.

 

He turns to see Baekhyun.

 

They stand there staring at each other for what feels like a heart-stopping eternity until Chanyeol moves towards him and Baekhyun inadvertently cringes. Chanyeol seems to get the hint that Baekhyun’s frightened so he makes a large arc as he walks around him, not saying a word.

 

Still shaken, Baekhyun summons the courage to follow him, noting the dirt on his shirt and the tousled hair. Soon, he realizes that he’s panting as he’s struggling to keep up with Chanyeol with his shorter legs. Before he realizes it, they’re going through a small gate and there’s the jingle of keys as Chanyeol unlocks the door to his house. Much to Baekhyun’s surprise, he leaves the door open after entering and Baekhyun enters, closing the door behind him.

 

He ventures upwards after hearing the footsteps on the floorboards upstairs and enters the only room with the door wide open. Chanyeol’s walking around his room, tearing his blazer off and ing his shirt, which causes Baekhyun to gulp in shyness. He can see the old and new cuts and bruises on Chanyeol’s skin and wonders if this happens a lot. There’s a twinge of icy sorrow melting through him as he thinks about what kinds of terrible things his fiance has experienced.

 

Chanyeol grabs a towel from one of his drawers and, as he’s leaving the room, he states, “Stay if you want.”

 

After a few seconds of being left alone, Baekhyun takes this as a safe sign that it’s fine for him to be here. He proceeds to walk around the room that’s smaller than what he’s used to but by no means cramped. He looks at all of the colorful books on the shelves and his gaze comes to the papers strewn across the desk. As he’s sifting through them with his fingertips, a certain piece of paper catches his eye.

 

Park Chanyeol

Student Rank: 4 / 752

End of term exam score: 991 / 1000

 

He’s surprisingly smart, Baekhyun thinks as he looks through some more papers and sees the perfect scores written on them. It’s then that Chanyeol enters the room again and Baekhyun jumps from the disturbance in the unusually quiet atmosphere. Chanyeol doesn’t seem to notice though as he’s toweling his dripping wet hair strands in only his shorts. Baekhyun remembers the paper bag that he’s been crushing with his anxious fingers now and shuffles over, presenting it to his fiance timidly.

 

“This is for you,” he whispers, scared of the immense gravity suffocating him and magnifying the scattered feelings in the room.

 

Chanyeol smiles gently and takes it from him. “Thanks,” he responds, looking inside. His expression crumples the slightest bit when he realizes that it’s the exact same shirt that he had given Baekhyun. “Oh, you didn’t like it?”

 

And there’s a blizzard of anxiety and flustered skin cells as Baekhyun’s fumbling for words, concerned about the potential misunderstanding. “N-no! I went and got you one too!” Chanyeol stares at him blankly. “I... I just... wanted... matching shirts...” his voice trails off slowly as a magma-like explosion of blood sends sweat pricking into his skin and it’s suddenly very hot. Very. Hot.

 

Wow, way to make things awkward, Byun Baekhyun. Way. To. Go.

 

Chanyeol grins at him, understanding the situation, and puts the shirt on his pillow. “Thanks. I’ll wear it,” he promises as he pulls a first-aid kit out from under the bed.

 

“U-um, let me do it,” Baekhyun suggests, taking the first aid kit from the other man. Chanyeol obediently hands it over and sits down on the mattress as Baekhyun inspects his cuts, applying ointment to them and bandaging them with shaking fingers.

 

“Are you scared?” Chanyeol asks, acutely aware of the other man’s tension.

 

Baekhyun takes a deep breath, trying hard to compose himself. He’s never seen a real fight before and he’s perturbed, heart palpitating painfully hard in his chest and strumming through his ears. But it keeps coming back to the fact that he’s worried about Chanyeol’s safety, both emotionally and physically, because this whole situation seems like it’s no big deal to him. He’s not quite sure what to do though so he mumbles, “...Why?”

 

Chanyeol chuckles. “They know about how I talk to my mom.”

 

Baekhyun takes a deep breath and he feels like he’s going to cry. Why does Chanyeol have to endure this? Why does he have to be ridiculed for such a thing? His sniffling sets the other man off and Chanyeol turns to look at him, concerned about his state of mind. “Doesn’t it hurt, Chanyeol? Doesn’t it hurt when they say that?”

 

Chanyeol pauses before answering carefully, “When they judge me, it doesn’t define who I am. It defines who they are.”

 

The tears are coming quicker than he expected and they’re running down Baekhyun’s cheeks in lattice patterns as he’s covering his face with his hands. “It’s not fair,” his voice crackles.

 

Chanyeol gently removes a hand from Baekhyun’s face and gazes at him lovingly. “It doesn’t matter what they say anyway.”

 

And he leans in slowly and presses his lips against Baekhyun’s, a soft and tender caress under the glowing orange of the sun washing his room in blurred watercolors.  


It doesn’t matter what they say as long as I have you.

 

 

------

 

 

Kyungsoo pouts as he’s standing in the midday sun, rays making his dark hair scorching hot and shiny in its light. The second the school bell rang, he was whisked away from his desk, almost leaving his backpack, and nearly manhandled down the street. His pout grows even deeper when he realizes that the place Baekhyun has dragged him to is Chanyeol’s school.

 

Of course. He should have known.

 

“I have cooking classes in half an hour. Why can’t you just go on a date with your fiance like a normal person?” Kyungsoo grumbles as he checks the time on his phone. He’d kill-- okay, not kill but something close to that-- to go on a date with Jongin.

 

“You-- why can’t you just be here for moral support?” Baekhyun retorts, eyes darting around the hordes of students shuffling out of the school. That giant fiance of his has got to be easy to spot. Suddenly, Kyungsoo notices his friend’s face light up like fireworks exploding in a pyrotechnic display of happiness when he spots Chanyeol and the burning itch of envy is gnawing at him again.

 

“Baekhyun! What are you doing here?” Chanyeol grins as he’s walking closer to them.

 

Baekhyun blushes slightly out of a random of shyness and grabs onto Kyungsoo’s arm for support. “I’m here to see you,” he replies, somewhat boldly and cutely, swaying slightly from side to side.

 

It’s then that Chanyeol notices Kyungsoo’s presence and Kyungsoo waves at him. “Kyungsoo! I thought you had cooking classes today so we couldn’t hang out! You big fat liar!” Chanyeol shouts, pointing straight at the other’s face.

 

“I’m not fat.” Kyungsoo frowns. “And I do have cooking lessons today. Your fiance brought me.”

 

“You two know each other?” Baekhyun exclaims, surprised. “And you didn’t tell me?”

 

“Kyungsoo lives next door. Didn’t you notice when you came to my house the other day?” Chanyeol responds, confused.

 

A group of students walk by them then and they all send chilly glares at Chanyeol who looks at them for a split-second and turns his head back to Kyungsoo. Of course Baekhyun recognizes one of them as the guy Chanyeol had beat up the other day and there’s a stinging sensation of aggravation that’s stabbing his spine. As they’re passing by, he mutters to Baekhyun, “Careful. You’ll catch the freakiness.”

 

Chanyeol completely ignores them but Baekhyun’s not going stand for anyone ridiculing his beloved so he shouts, “Hey!”

 

The group of boys turn around to look at him, expectant. Chanyeol grabs his arm. “Hey, Baekhyun, don’t,” he warns, worried about the impending danger.

 

But that’s not going to stop Baekhyun.

 

“You better shut the up! You s don’t know !” Baekhyun screams as he flicks them off, asking for a fight.

 

They sneer back at him and draw closer, one guy poking through the rest as if he’s their leader. Chanyeol groans, knowing that he’s in for another fight. Alright. No big deal. He’ll just whack their leader and Baekhyun and Kyungsoo can escape and--

 

There’s a flurry of knuckles hitting cartilage and bone and, the next thing Chanyeol knows, their leader is on the ground and groaning in pain. The pack of guys are standing a few feet away in utter shock, terror starting to make its way into their skulls from the rapid succession of hapkido punches complete with a kick that had taken their friend down.

 

“Don’t mess with my fiance ever again, you ers!” Baekhyun grits into his victim’s face and then turns to glare at the larger group of students. They start shuffling away in fear, leaving their leader a mess on the cement.

 

Chanyeol stares at the aftermath in awe and thinks that him and Baekhyun are going to have a very happy future in front of them.

 

 

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