He almost panics when he wakes up alone in bed, his hand traces the empty space beside him and he relaxes when it’s still a little warm. He slowly sits up, looks around in the darkness before rubbing his eyes and sighing softly.
The sound of the shower the alerts him that Jongin is in the bathroom. He won’t admit to being paranoid, that one morning he will wake up and Jongin will be missing; it’s like sleeping in an unfamiliar bed without his boyfriend next to him.
He sometimes hesitates entering the apartment out of the pitiful fear that Jongin might be long gone.
He stretches in bed before swinging his feet off and shivering when they meet the cold ground. The morning air is always cold – Jongin likes to sleep with the windows open these days and Chanyeol’s complaints about it fall to deaf ears.
He stalks over to the bathroom with mental plans to freshen up as he runs a hand over his face, down to his neck before he massages it gently – Jongin often steals his pillow at night and he didn’t have it in him to yank it back whenever that happens.
The bathroom is warmer and the mirror is already fogged up. He steps in front of the sink and stares at his tousled bed hair, lanky form – he’s only in briefs – his eyes are looking ridiculous baggy from the lack of sleep.
The baby is sitting on Jongin’s bladder – whatever that means – and he has Jongin running to the bathroom at ridiculous of the night. Jongin is never quiet about that either – the bathroom door is always slammed shut and forcibly opened – when his boyfriend is awake, he is too.
“Chanyeol?” Jongin’s questioning voice comes after the shower stops running – he hears the familiar sound of water going down the drain.
“Yeah?” He answers as he reaches out for his toothbrush, “What is it?” He smudges the toothpaste before setting it back in the cabinet and stuffing the brush in his mouth.
“When do you leave for work?” Chanyeol wonder if Jongin likes to ask these kinds of questions to get on his nerves or for small talk.
“In two hours,” They’re both up stupidly early – both are used to it because this isn’t the first time and won’t be the last.
“Can you make me something to eat?” He thinks of ignoring the question and pretending to not hear it. He looks at Jongin’s reflection behind the curtains in the mirror and sighs lightly.
“Sure,” He grunts.
“Omelet and some boiled carrots,” Jongin offers.
“Okay,” He replies.
“Don’t push it,” He warns and Jongin hums before the shower starts again. Chanyeol resumes to brushing his teeth, he glares at the fogging mirror and looks around the bathroom before walking over to the toilet – he pulls down his briefs and pees into the bowl.
“Are you done?” Jongin’s voice comes again just as he tucks himself back in. He balls up a fat roll of tissues and walks over to the mirrors; he begins wiping away the fog that will only creep back on it.
“Yeah,” He says, tossing the tissues into the bin beside the toilet – it takes him back to when he first found out about – he shakes his head to rid himself of that day.
“Can you leave? I want to dry up and get dressed,” Jongin’s tone is flat and Chanyeol rolls his eyes before spitting into the sink and rinsing his mouth.
“I’ve seen you before.” He rinses his toothbrush, stuffs it back into his mug and leaves the bathroom anyway. It’s too early to start pulling each other’s hair and having pointless arguments is something he doesn’t need.
He makes omelet, some toast and boils up carrots – he sets a jar of water on the countertop beside Jongin’s breakfast and a plate of sliced bananas.
He heads for the bathroom next when he hears Jongin slamming the drawers from their bedroom. Chanyeol immediately steps into the bathroom to take a quick shower; he’s out almost as quick because the water is freezing cold but he deals with it – he’d rather not go through the day foul-smelling.
He enters the bedroom stark and dresses in his work uniform, a pair of sweatpants and a red polo shirt are stuffed in his backpack because it’s Wednesday and he has to walk some old man’s dogs after work.
“I’m leaving,” He says as soon as he steps out, he walks over to the sofa and grabs his phone – he glances at the low battery and shrugs, sliding the phone in his pocket and stares at Jongin who is looking at him from the kitchen.
“No breakfast?” He asks and he looks so dejected like it’s the first time – Chanyeol slowly shakes his head because he’s running out of time. He fights back from trying to wipe away that sad look on Jongin’s face.
He stops by the front door, slips on his jacket and slips his feet into his shoes. He’s out of the apartment when he stops just outside the door, the door shuts with a click – he bites his lower lip. He thinks of when they actually had breakfast together – the memory is so far back and difficult to recall.
It’s been too long since he has just sat down across from Jongin and looked at him. He thinks of how lonely Jongin must be – the younger man is usually in the house alone because he basically has nowhere to go but the hospital, to the Wus or Sehun’s place.
He wraps his hand around the handle and turns, he opens the door and heads for the kitchen like ghost after dropping his backpack by the door.
He stops by the kitchen door; Jongin has touched his breakfast. He looks so small where he’s sitting and Jesus Christ, Chanyeol feels the lump in his throat grow in side. He’s relieved that Jongin isn’t crying – it’s been weeks since he has seen his boyfriend cry.
“You should eat,” He says but realizes his voice is too low and Jongin’s too far away mentally to even hear him. Chanyeol raises his hand, forms it into a fist and knocks on the wall. Jongin’s head snaps up so fast he think his head might fall off – the smile that comes on his face when Jongin lets out an embarrassing squeak is hard to get rid of.
“I bet the little guy in there is hungry,” He says carefully and watches how Jongin’s hand moves to the bump, he’s rubbing his hand over it in gentle motions and his other hand reaches out for the toast.
Chanyeol steps further into the kitchen, sits across from and grabs a sliced banana piece – they eat breakfast in silence. Jongin doesn’t attempt to talk to him but Chanyeol reads the expression he has on his face – it has been way too long since he has seen the pleased expression his boyfriend’s face.
They’re clearing the table when he decides to say something, “Jongdae says hi,” The statement is lame but it’s something and Jongdae has always greets Jongin and asks about him.
Jongin nods and smiles as he sets a plate into the sink, “Greet him for me,” He replies softly, their lock eyes and it hits Chanyeol just how much he has missed staring into them.
He looks at him – really looks at his boyfriend and his breath hitches because he seems to have forgotten how striking his looks are – how beautiful he is. He reaches out, uses his right hand to cup Jongin’s cheek and his thump rubs just under his eye – Jongin looks startled at first but leans into the touch and closes his eyes, soft sigh escaping his plump lips.
He steps forward and kisses the top of Jongin’s head – inhaling the fragrance of his shower gel in his hair and for someone who is already late, Chanyeol feels pretty much relaxed. He pulls away, eyes immediately meeting Jongin’s and he is so overwhelmed at how hopeful Jongin’s eyes shine.
He hesitantly pulls away and back away awkwardly – and an equally awkward laugh rips out of his throat before he can stop it. “I’m late,” He reasons dumbly.
“I’m taking them for their walk now, Sir,” He says holding the two leashes tightly in his hand and nodding at the old man in his late 60s staring at him with a smile.
“Alright, son,” The old man bends over to run his hands through one of the dog’s fur and his lets out a rich laugh when his other dog whines. The third dog is with a relative according to the elderly man – Chanyeol doesn’t care because it makes his job easily with only two dogs to control. “They always sleep well after their walks; I really appreciate you taking this job!” The man stands up and pats Chanyeol’s back a little harder than necessary.
“No problem,” He will admit to the dog walking being annoying in the beginning but he has grown to enjoy it because it helps him relax – he gets away from everything and just allows himself to breathe. And the owner is a nice man – doesn’t make his job too hard and doesn’t ask for much at all.
He walks the dogs away from the two-story house – the neighborhood is clean and family friendly. It always makes him think of Jongin and the baby – he wants to be able to live somewhere this quiet and clean.
In a house and not an apartment – a house with much more space because children like big areas where they can run around screaming their heads off until their little throats hurt.
He throat tightens painfully and he swallows – bitterness gets him nowhere.
Chanyeol enters the local park – walks past couples that stare at the dogs and past children that hide behind their parents when they lock eyes with the two husky dogs.
He stops by a bench and sits down to rest his feet – he has been out and about for over an hour, walking around aimlessly with no direction – much like his life, if he’s honest with himself.
The huskies are clearly not as tired as he is because they whine and all it takes to shut them up is a harsh sit! and they are on the ground waiting for the next order – he’s glad their owner trained them well.
“You walk dogs?” He’s startled at Luhan’s gentle voice – he sits up on the bench and stares wide eyed and the older man looking down at him.
“So?” He snaps defensively and scoffs when Luhan lets out a tsk sound.
“Mind if I sit?” He inquires politely and it makes Chanyeol almost feel ashamed because Luhan is always polite with him. Almost.
“Free country,” He shrugs and moves over – the dogs stay in their position on the ground, whines and growls escape them occasionally.
“I’m here with Jiali,” He follows the other’s gaze and stops on the little girl running in the sandbox with other children her age. He hears the high pitched laugh coming from her when she slips on falls flat on her face – he winces – she picks herself up and continues chasing after another little girl.
Luhan makes himself comfortable on the bench and says nothing more. Chanyeol finds it strange that Luhan isn’t talking to him – he doesn’t complain though and tries to relax his nerves.
“Where’s Wufan?” He asks, not because he cares but out of pure curiosity.
He receives no answer – Luhan ignores him – he thinks of repeating the question but realizes he doesn’t care all that much. He leans back on the bench, closes his eyes hoping to catch a few minutes of sleep. He doesn’t get any chance because he hears a loud cry that he’s sure can wake the dead.
Jiali is running over to them, holding her tiny hand out and immediately launching herself into Luhan’s arms. Luhan doesn’t look at all fazed as he listen to her babbling a sob filled explanation of what happened with the other children; he wipes the sand from her hand and dusts her light red shorts cover in sand.
“Oh, hush,” He says when she keeps sniffling – he pinches her cheeks and she slaps his hand away. “Crocodile tears only work on your daddy,” Chanyeol finds himself smiling when her lips form into a pout.
“Papa, doggies!” She shrieks and lets out a cry when the smaller husky barks – she buries her face in Luhan’s chest before looking at the dog Chanyeol now has a tight grip on the collar and wipes her tongue out at it.
It only takes a few minutes for her to approach the dogs; she’s running her fingers through their fur and smacks her lips on their noses. Chanyeol is a bit cautious and scowls when he hears Luhan laughing at him.
“Relax, dogs love her,” He states breathlessly. “She gets it from Jongin, I guess – he adores dogs,” He pauses, “You should take him with you sometime,”
“He’s 29 weeks pregnant,” Chanyeol says it like it’s supposed to mean something and watches through the corner of his eyes as Luhan shakes his head.
“He isn’t disabled; he needs to move around – it helps.”
An hour passes with him sitting on the bench beside Luhan – they don’t talk – and Jiali playing with the dogs. Chanyeol notes how her tiny shoulders shake whenever she giggles – she’s giggling at something he doesn’t understand, he doubt Luhan does too.
“C’mon, Jiali – time to go home,” He tells her as he gets to his feet, he pulls his sleeve back and stares at his Rolex – Chanyeol eyes the watch before looking at Luhan – he looks distracted, his mind seems to be away.
“No!” Comes the sharp answer and Chanyeol stares at the little girl hugging one of the dogs.
“Alright,” Luhan says and Chanyeol stares at him with wide eyes – he really doesn’t want to be stuck with her. She’s loud and from the looks of it and little time he’s spent watching her – she’s stubborn. “No ice cream for you then –”
She’s quick on her feet and her arms are around Luhan’s legs – Chanyeol’s smile is faint. He stands up too because it’s almost time for him to leave; it’s getting dark.
They walk out of the park together – Jiali has the huskies walking next to her and Chanyeol’s grip on their leashes unconsciously tightens when they do something he doesn’t like – like growl at her.
They stop before they part ways – he doesn’t reach far when Luhan calling his name stops him, “Yeah?” He turns around and looks at the man holding his daughter hand in his.
“He’ll be worth it, I promise.” Luhan says and picks up his daughter – she looked like she was falling asleep on her feet.
Chanyeol tries to ignore how much Luhan’s words get to him and walks away with the dogs leading him to their home.
“Sorry about that – he keeps pressing himself on my bladder,” Jongin explains even though he doesn’t need to as he crawls into bed and lies on his side, facing Chanyeol and fumbling with the hem of his shirt before pulling the duvet over his shoulders– he’s coming from his nightly trip to the bathroom.
Don’t worry about it, he wants to say but brushes the words away because he’s tired and wants to get some sleep. He turns away from Jongin and stares at the ceiling. He lets out a sigh; he raises his hand and blindly reaches out for the lamp’s switch.
He switches the light off and pulls the duvet over himself, burying his face into the pillow after turning on his stomach. “Night,” he murmurs.
“Good night, Chanyeol.”
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