airplanewishes: (Default)
airplanewishes ([personal profile] airplanewishes) wrote2014-02-01 09:15 pm

a light that never goes out

a light that never goes out
EXO | Baekhyun/Suho | NC-17 | 36.7k~
Romance, Angst
Baekhyun wants Joonmyun to be happy. But that entails certain sacrifices.

Warnings: Slight homophobia, infidelity and unwanted pregnancy

Originally written for [livejournal.com profile] thebaekfest.


a light that never goes out


It’s a nice restaurant. Red tables, black and white seats, and a red-lighted shelf of alcoholic drinks on the wall behind the bar are what greet customers upon entrance, a clear invitation to everyone to drink up and have fun. It seems like a place with good food and good ambiance with its laid-back style and shabby-chic interior design. It’s cozy enough to have people relaxed to hang out and talk about their day with friends, the open kitchen giving that feeling of hominess. But the big bar is the place to be. Decorated with drink crates underneath, the dark oak counter of the bar is filled with drinks and arms of people, raising their hands, requesting for a drink from one of the four bartenders.

Baekhyun is sitting at one of the bar tables, swirling the rum and coke in his glass. Drinking places aren’t normally his scene but he did just get promoted and his friends wouldn’t hear any of his appeals to postpone the celebration for another night. He leans back on his seat and quirks an eyebrow as he eyes Lu Han charming some girl just so he could sneak his way closer to the bar and order their drinks. In the back of his mind, he knows his mobile phone is vibrating in his pocket but refuses to acknowledge it.

“You look tense. This is supposed to be your party!” Baekhyun looks down to see a manicured hand place itself on his bicep, squeezing gently. He lifts his eyes up, smile ready on his lips, and sees dark brown eyes under soft lashes lit up with concern.

“I’m fine.” Baekhyun pats Soojung’s hand as he finishes his first drink of the night. He foresees a long night of drinking if he is honest with himself. “It’s been a long day, despite the promotion.”

“If this is about me inviting—.” Soojung’s brows furrow and Baekhyun reaches up automatically to flick her forehead in an attempt to soothe it.

“Stop that. You’re going to get wrinkles,” he teases her but Soojung only frowns further. Baekhyun laughs, pointy canines appearing, and cuffs the back of her neck just like he’s always done back when they were in university whenever Soojung would be pouty. “I don’t mind. Really,” he assures Soojung when she doesn’t relent. “You know I don’t.”

Soojung sighs and relaxes beside him, their shoulders pressing against each other, allowing Baekhyun to run his fingers through the long strands of her hair. “I know you don’t,” she admits. “It’s just… sometimes, when you two are in the same room together, you look at her like you’re seeing her for the first time and then you look away with some sort of disappointment.”

Baekhyun merely chuckles, lightly bumping the back of her head with his knuckles. “You think too much, you know that?” he teases again.

“That’s just Soojung,” Taemin pipes in, placing their drinks on the table. He swoops down, almost dramatically, and presses a loud kiss on Soojung’s cheek, making her scowl and punch him on the arm. “Half the time we’re together is spent on her just thinking.” He laughs and wraps an arm around her when she punches him again.

“I just don’t like talking to you,” Soojung snaps, rolling her eyes. She pushes Taemin off her and continues to lean against Baekhyun.

Amber merely rolls her eyes and grabs a glass on the table. “Where the hell is Taeyeon?” she demands, taking a swig of her drink. “We haven’t got all night!”

“Lu Han’s still busy, though.” Baekhyun nods towards the bar.

Lu Han is leaning against the counter, one of his hands placed securely around a petite brunette’s waist. Soojung laughs as Taemin and Amber shamelessly shout catcalls, making Lu Han decide to take his flirting some place else, while Baekhyun looks around the bar for Taeyeon.

It’s not that Baekhyun doesn’t want Taeyeon to come. Soojung is wrong to think that he would mind Taeyeon being invited. Sure, he and Taeyeon could have ended things better and maybe less abruptly so that they didn’t shock their friends, but Taeyeon remains to be one of those people that Baekhyun can talk to, if not the only person he can actually confide in. Those three years of romance wouldn’t exist if they weren’t such good friends. The thing is, Baekhyun knows that once Taeyeon arrives, she’s immediately going to know that something’s up.

Baekhyun is startled when Soojung suddenly jumps beside him. He shoots her a bewildered look when she slaps his arm, laughing somewhat nervously. She rolls her eyes as she shoves her hand inside his pocket and pulls out his Blackberry Curve that looks like it’s seen one too many rough days. Taemin snorts at the sight of his phone, while Amber raises an eyebrow.

“Is that still the phone Taeyeon gave you for your birthday ages ago?” Amber asks amusedly.

Baekhyun opens his mouth to defend his phone and his personality of giving value to things and replacing them when it’s completely unnecessary, as well as not spending money needlessly, but then Soojung is turning his phone around to look at who’s calling and Baekhyun feels like lunging towards her.

“I’m here,” Taeyeon announces with a smile, smoothly getting Baekhyun’s phone away from Soojung’s hands and back to Baekhyun. There are cheers and greetings with hugs and kisses, after which Taeyeon turns to Baekhyun with a knowing look.

Baekhyun swallows tensely as he puts his phone back in his pocket without even bothering to look at the ID of the caller. “Hey,” he says weakly. “You made it.”

Taeyeon looks like at him, clearly debating whether she’s going to tell him off on something he’s not even sure how she knows or whether she’ll let it go. Baekhyun is hoping she’d let it go, except Taeyeon wouldn’t be Taeyeon if she did that. She places a hand on his wrist, a familiar gesture, one that’s been done so many times in the course of the time they’ve known each other. But this one is heavy and full of meaning that Baekhyun doesn’t want to acknowledge.

“Sooner or later you’re going to have to decide where you want to take this,” Taeyeon quietly tells Baekhyun later on when the others are all congregated by the bar, where one of the bartenders had started to do some tricks. “Call him back.”

Baekhyun slumps back as Taeyeon gets up to join their friends and takes out his Blackberry.




÷






It takes Baekhyun two days to do what he should have done right after Taeyeon told him off. Baekhyun rarely ever procrastinates and even when he does, it’s not something he’s ever happy of doing. In his line of work, doing things at the last minute is a no-no as thing could always be forgotten in the time that has passed. But with this, with him, Baekhyun always does things last minute because he believes he has—needs—the luxury of time in this matter.

Baekhyun is standing outside of the intimidating concrete structure that has seen and been a witness to years and years of history and art. He doesn’t go here very often, always preferring to meet some place where no introductions would be made and no questions would be asked. He takes his Blackberry out, taking a couple of seconds to press on the scotch tape that’s holding the cover of the battery to the body of the phone, before sending a text message.

It’s hotter and humid than usual but Baekhyun decides to wait outside and take a seat on the second step from the top in front of the entrance. He leans against one of the intimidating pillars and watches the cars pass by. He’s not even really an art fan. Even when he was still in school, he refused to take part in school field trips where they were required to go to museums. Baekhyun didn’t think there would come a time that he would end up dating a museum curator of all people.

“Hey,” a voice interrupts his short quiet time, “what are you doing out here?”

Baekhyun looks up and the faint thrumming in his chest starts the way it does every time he’s with Joonmyun. He shifts closer to the pillar as if to make room for him to sit beside him, which he does.

“Didn’t want to disrupt your work,” Baekhyun says with a half shrug.

“I’m just reading through some things at the moment,” Joonmyun tells him with a small smile. He pauses for a second, something that Baekhyun notices he does when he’s about to ask Baekhyun something that Baekhyun may or may not agree with. It’s a thought that Baekhyun thinks he should be concerned about, but something that he doesn’t give much thought to. “It wouldn’t be a bother… to anyone if you did come inside,” he adds.

Baekhyun bites his lower lip as a couple of teenagers in uniforms trudge up the steps and go inside the museum. It’s not that he isn’t interested in what Joonmyun does, despite his lack of interest in the arts, he just not keen on showing that interest where anyone may see it. But then Joonmyun is playing with the sleeves of his navy blue sweater, the one with squiggly lines right at the chest that Baekhyun wouldn’t be caught dead in, and Baekhyun thinks that he can indulge Joonmyun’s request if only it would get the sadness in the corner of Joonmyun’s eyes out.

The museum seems bigger than the last time he’d been in there—it was only a couple of weeks ago but it really feels like a lifetime. Baekhyun pauses right by the entrance of one of the exhibits as he notices a huge painting that hadn’t been there the last time. Joonmyun bristles with pride by his side.

“It just came in last week,” Joonmyun explains. “It took me a while to secure an exhibition time for it since every museum wants their hands on it, but it’s going to be here for a couple of weeks.”

“How big is it?” Baekhyun asks, approaching it. He cranes his neck to look up at it when he gets closer. “It’s amazing.” Not that he really knows anything about art, but anything that is constructed as big as this painting is can’t be called anything less.

“Four by seven meters,” Joonmyun answers. There’s that pride in his voice again and Baekhyun has to smile at that. Joonmyun has always liked and has always been proud of his position as the curator of one of the biggest and most visited museums in the country. “It won the gold award in—.” He pauses, biting his lip, but continues. “Practically all universities have scheduled trips here just to see it. It’s been more than amazing.”

Baekhyun walks back to Joonmyun. “I guess congratulations are in order then,” he says, elbowing him in what he thinks is an affectionate gesture. He should probably do more, like maybe give him a kiss or even a hug, but he doesn’t do any of those things.

“Speaking of congratulations,” Joonmyun says, unable to help the wide grin on his face as he ushers Baekhyun towards his office.

Joonmyun’s office is bigger than Baekhyun thought it would be. Walking in, he’s greeted with a big space where a long table is situated presumably where they examine certain pieces of art, but which is currently occupied by strewn papers of what seems like a study about a collection of some sort. Across from it is a room enclosed in glass half-covered with blinds, where some sort of meeting is taking place. Joonmyun leads him to the other corner where several desks and some computers are placed, along with some bookshelves. In fact, every space on the wall that’s not a desk is covered with books.

Baekhyun follows Joonmyun to the desk right at the corner, secluded by two book shelves, and sits right on Joonmyun’s seat. He twirls it around and around childishly as Joonmyun looks through several documents on his desk before opening the bottom drawer and taking something out.

It’s a small leather box with silver trimmings on the edges. Baekhyun straightens up on his seat, feeling nervous despite the fact that it can’t be a ring of any sort because he and Joonmyun haven’t been dating long enough for that. Still, small boxes like this make him uneasy.

“Joonmyun?” Baekhyun’s eyes flit from where Joonmyun’s playing with the box in his hands to his eyes that are staring at him.

“It’s not a big deal,” Joonmyun states, making Baekhyun relax considerably, handing him the box. “It’s just something I thought you would like.” He fiddles with the cuff of his sweater. “For your promotion.”

Baekhyun’s eyes widen, regret immediately enveloping him. He opens his mouth to say something consoling or an apology of some sort, but nothing comes out. There is probably nothing he can say to appease whatever hurt he’s done to Joonmyun, on top of everything else.

“Open it,” Joonmyun encourages him, a smile on his face that is something like forgiveness to Baekhyun.

They’re cufflinks; gold plated with an accounting symbol in the middle of the design and features ledger paper on the upper part and the word accountant occupying the lower half as many times as the space allows. It’s the right balance of quirky and classy, but still professional. Baekhyun really has been looking for new cufflinks to use.

“It’s not much, but I thought you could use them—,” Joonmyun starts to explain, probably going to veer away from how sweet and well-thought out this gift is.

There are bookshelves obscuring them from view so Baekhyun jumps up from the seat and kisses him, making Joonmyun stumble back to one of the shelves and knocking a couple of books to the floor. It’s one of those rare moments where Baekhyun allows himself to be spontaneous and reckless. Joonmyun catches Baekhyun and lets out a sound of surprise when Baekhyun’s initial chaste kiss morphs into something more.

“I’m sorry,” Baekhyun whispers when he pulls away, his arms around Joonmyun’s neck. He closes his eyes when Joonmyun presses their foreheads together. It’s not enough, this apology, because Baekhyun has pulled enough shit in their relationship that would give Joonmyun enough grounds to leave him. Still, Joonmyun is still around, and Baekhyun knows how to be grateful.

“Do you like it?” Joonmyun asks, glancing at the forgotten opened box on the desk. He lets his hands fall back to his sides when Baekhyun shuffles back to pick it up. “I figured you need another option for when you need one for your work.”

“I love it,” Baekhyun earnestly, admiring the way the gold glints against the light when he tilts the box. He looks at Joonmyun and steps back into his embrace. “You didn’t have to get me anything, especially not after—”

“I wanted to,” Joonmyun hastily cuts him off. He turns to his desk and arranges some of the papers on the desk to dispel how awkward that revelation made him feel. “If that’s why you came, you really didn’t have to. There is nothing to be sorry for.”

“I know, but,” Baekhyun mutters, his lower lip in between his teeth again, “I wanted to see you, too.” It’s not something he often admits and he’s always embarrassed when he does, but it’s always nice to see Joonmyun’s face light up right after those words leaves his lips. “Even just for—”

They hear the door open and a voice calls, along with footsteps that they know is coming towards them. “Joonmyun?”

Baekhyun stiffens, casually turning to the other bookshelf to study the books there, putting him in view of the new arrival. It’s Jongin, one of the museum registrars and the only one of Joonmyun’s friends he’s allowed himself to meet.

“Oh hey, Baekhyun,” Jongin greets with one of those welcoming smiles that Baekhyun’s come to associate him with. “I didn’t know you were dropping by today. Did Joonmyun drag you to see his newest pride and joy?” he chuckles when Joonmyun mockingly shoves him.

“He did,” Baekhyun says easily, ignoring the way Joonmyun takes lint off the sleeve of his sweater. “I get why he’s dragging people to see it, though.” He gives Joonmyun a proud smile. “It’s really something,” he says.

Jongin laughs even if he’s nodding in agreement. “Which reminds me,” he says, tone schooling into one that means he’s going to talk about work now, turning to Joonmyun, “Some paperwork for one of the exhibits arrived and thought you might want to have a look.”

Baekhyun takes this as his cue to leave. “I’ll get out of your hair then,” he says before Joonmyun can even agree to Jongin’s request.

He sweeps a quick glance at Joonmyun before he waves his departure. He doesn’t notice how Joonmyun was, at the very least, poised to say his goodbyes or the way Jongin frowns at his quick escape.


 

÷






Baekhyun isn’t always inattentive. In fact, he rarely ever is. In accountancy, where he’s relied on for the accuracy of his collection, analysis and summarization of financial information, he really can’t afford to not pay attention. He can’t even afford to slack off just from the sheer amount of information he needs to keep track of.

He stares at his packed calendar and thinks about the stack of paperwork that he needs to read through by the end of the day sitting on his desk and leans back on his seat, closing his eyes. Baekhyun’s been in accountancy ever since he graduated from university. It had been ingrained in him that he needed to find something respectable to do and, to his parents, that meant becoming a doctor or a lawyer or a corporate slave. It’s not that he doesn’t like being an accountant; he likes the structure, and enjoys the exactness of things and the satisfaction that he gets when he gets on report done after another. Sometimes, though, in times when the work just gets too much and exhausting, Baekhyun ends up wondering. What if he’d gone into something else? What if he’d done something else?

A hand claps on his shoulder, startling him out of his stupor. Baekhyun looks up and rolls his eyes when he sees that it’s just Jongdae, his closest friend in the office. Jongdae sits down on the empty seat beside his, placing his planner and files on the table.

“What’s gotten you so serious so early in the morning?” Jongdae teases, nodding at a couple of other people entering the conference room. “The meeting hasn’t started and you already look like the boss has started sharing his insights on how we’re all not doing our jobs properly.”

“And you’re too chipper for your own good,” Baekhyun retorts half-heartedly.

“It’s not hard to be chipper when you’re the hottest piece of ass around here,” Jongdae responds smugly. Baekhyun closes his eyes in an effort not to roll them. “I just scored a date with the receptionist.” He pokes Baekhyun’s arm to make him look at him and wiggles his eyebrows up and down.

“Well,” Baekhyun replies evenly as he always does when people talk to him about their relationships, “I suppose Sunyoung is quite lucky then. She has a date with the hottest piece of ass.”

Jongdae’s laugh is loud and grating and he claps Baekhyun’s back again. “You don’t have to sound so glum about it,” he tells him. “You should take a look around yourself. You’re not so bad.”

Baekhyun snorts, reaching for his Blackberry in his pocket when it vibrates. It’s Soojung complaining about how Taemin is being an annoying boyfriend again and would Baekhyun please please help her in fixing up her new apartment this weekend. Baekhyun replies with an affirmative and a promise of bringing in back up before he’s placing his phone on top of his files on the table.

“No really,” Jongdae insists. “You should really look around, you know. I mean, I know you’re not one for dating—which I really can’t understand why—but you have so many opportunities just in this room alone.”

This surprises Baekhyun. “What are you talking about?” he asks, raising an eyebrow at him.

Jongdae leans closer, his arm around Baekhyun’s shoulder. “Okay,” he starts surreptitiously, “I’m sure you haven’t noticed, but Jinri from legal has this major eyes on you. Every time she walks into a room, she sweeps through it and smiles in satisfaction when she sees you.”

“You’re ridiculous,” Baekhyun scoffs. He knows Jinri. She’s the one he calls whenever he has legal questions on the accounts that he’s working on. She’s smart and really helpful, always willingly answering his questions and even offering extra help.

“Oh yeah?” Jongdae challenges. “Then why does she keep staring at you every five seconds?”

Baekhyun finds Jinri sitting a couple of seats away on the other side of the conference table. The moment he looks at her, Jinri meets his eyes. She’s a bit startled when she sees him looking, but smiles genially and returns to whatever she’s typing on her phone.

“Just because she—” Baekhyun starts.

“One,” Jongdae interrupts and Baekhyun reluctantly looks at Jinri again, “two, three, four…”

At five, Jinri looks up at him and then hurriedly looks away. Jongdae laughs and Baekhyun glares at him. It could have been completely coincidental, except three more times later and he can’t deny that maybe there is a bit of truth to Jongdae’s words. Baekhyun wonders how he’s never noticed this before, but he’s pretty sure there’s one simple reason to why this is so.

“I’ve also heard that Minah from HR looks forward to you submitting your disbursements every cut-off,” Jongdae carries on. “She gets incredibly disappointed when you ask me to submit them for you or when you don’t have any.”

Baekhyun does roll his eyes this time. “Thank you for your generous heart in making me want to find someone,” he says. “But I really am not interested in anyone right now. There is just too much going on at work by itself. I don’t have time for anything else, much less anyone.”

“Ah but that’s where you’re wrong.” Jongdae shakes his finger at him. “There is time for everything. It’s just up to you whether you think something is worthy enough to make time for.”

After the long meeting, Baekhyun makes his way back into his office and slumps into his seat. There are new reports, in addition to the ones stacked on his desk, to be written and he thinks he’s getting a headache just thinking about all the work that he has to do for the coming days.

The vibrating of his Blackberry startles him out of his stupor. Baekhyun presses the answer button without even bothering to look at the caller id.

It’s Joonmyun.

“Hey,” Baekhyun greets, making himself more comfortable in his seat. It’s been a couple of days since the last time they talked. The kind of relationship that they have isn’t one where they needed to talk everyday. While Baekhyun understands that a relationship needs constant and clear communication, Baekhyun thinks that theirs is pretty clear anyway. “You called at the right time. I was almost halfway to dreamland.”

“Baekhyun, if your boss catches you…” Joonmyun starts and Baekhyun laughs.

“To what do I owe the pleasure of this call?” Baekhyun asks because he realized he has so much work to do at Joonmyun’s prompting.

“I meant to ask you when we saw each other, but I know you’re busy. I was just wondering,” Joonmyun starts and Baekhyun just knows that this conversation has a high possibility of not going well. “There’s an event at the museum and, of course, I have to be there. It’s on Friday and I thought it would be nice if you could come.” He says the rest of the sentence in one breath and Baekhyun finds that he’s holding his own breath, too.

Baekhyun plays with the Statue of Liberty paperweight on his desk, puffing out his cheeks in contemplation. He wants to go. But sometimes, want doesn’t always equate to should.

“I understand if you’re busy—” Joonmyun starts and Baekhyun closes his eyes and sighs inaudibly.

“I’ll be there,” Baekhyun promises even when something clenches in his gut.

He half throws half slides his mobile phone on his table when Joonmyun hangs up. Baekhyun can still hear the happy surprise in Joonmyun’s voice when he’d agreed. It’s not that Baekhyun never goes to any of Joonmyun’s invitations. It’s just that Baekhyun is busy with his job and sometimes—maybe a lot of the time—Baekhyun allows that to be a valid excuse. However, it is an excuse that is starting to get old and he thinks he owes Joonmyun so much more than that.

“You look like you’re having stomach pains.” Baekhyun looks up, startled, and frowns when he sees that it’s Jongdae yet again. “Is everything okay?” Jongdae continues, looking genuinely concerned this time.

Baekhyun waves off his question dismissively. “What can I do for you?” he asks, eyeing his phone as it lights up and shows that he received a new message from Joonmyun. He turns the phone face down.

“I actually just dropped by to give you these files,” Jongdae says, walking in. “And to let you know I’m off to lunch.”

“You’re already leaving for lunch?” Baekhyun asks, almost in wonder, as he peruses the files handed to him. They’re from one of the big audits that the company is working on.

“Yeah.” Jongdae grins and wiggles his eyebrows up and down. “It’s that important date.”

“How romantic,” Baekhyun dryly states. “I’m surprised someone took you up on your offer. A lunch date. Really.”

“I would have you know that Kim Jongdae is very much in demand and that lunch dates with me are very romantic,” Jongdae proclaims. He grins and Baekhyun can’t mistake the pink on his cheeks. The guy’s clearly smitten.

Baekhyun wonders what it’s like to be able to express that love so freely and without worry. Jongdae’s lucky that his relationship isn’t one that society would object to.

“Well have fun. I hope Sunyoung doesn’t regret ever agreeing to go out with you,” Baekhyun teases.

Jongdae clears his throat, the color on his cheeks darkening. “No one ever regrets going out with me,” he declares proudly. “Time with me is time well spent.” He nods resolutely.

Baekhyun remembers Jongdae’s words about making time for things and it’s this thought that makes him feel slightly better about agreeing to go to Joonmyun’s museum’s event. He then waves Jongdae out of his office, laughing when Jongdae trips by the door in his haste.



 

÷






Joonmyun is glowing. Baekhyun takes a sip of his wine to hide the smile threatening to break through his lips as he watches Joonmyun shake hands and talk with one important person after another. It’s rare that he gets to see Joonmyun in his element, which is no one’s fault but his own, but when he does get to, it’s something that makes pride surge within him. It’s during such times when Baekhyun feels the luck that he has for being able to date him.

Baekhyun visibly lights up when Joonmyun sees him, Joonmyun’s grin brightening as well as he immediately makes a beeline for him. When Joonmyun finally stands in front of him, he almost forgets himself and kisses him.

“Hey.” Baekhyun takes a step back when Joonmyun leans in and offers his hand instead.

Joonmyun’s smile falters but he doesn’t miss a beat in returning the handshake. “I’m glad you’re here,” he says.

“I’m glad I’m here, too,” Baekhyun returns, squeezing his hand lightly as a form of apology. Joonmyun merely smiles, even when his hand twitches as Baekhyun drops it. “It’s been a while since I’ve been to one of these things.”

“The last one being the first time we met,” Joonmyun reminds him, raising an eyebrow.

Baekhyun turns red not of his own volition. He has to admit that he could have attended more of Joonmyun’s work events, but sometimes it’s just hard to get out of his comfort zone, especially when he believes there are other more important things. He raises his glass of wine to gesture towards the huge painting that had amazed Baekhyun when he first saw it.

“Seems like a hit with everyone,” he comments.

Joonmyun beams. “I’ve never seen my boss so happy with me before,” he practically gushes. “I’ve also never received so much praise for being able to acquire—albeit temporarily—such a piece of art.” He then goes on and on about the kind of praises he’s received.

“I’m proud of you, you know,” Baekhyun tells him sincerely. He clears his throat and lowers his voice. “I know I may not tell you all the time but—”

“You show me enough,” Joonmyun cuts him off with a shake of his head. “There’s really no need for you to—”

“I know,” Baekhyun amends. “But I want to anyway.”

“I’m really glad you’re here,” Joonmyun repeats and his beautiful smile blooms on his face once more. “You know, I don’t have to be here for the whole party. The important thing is that I make an appearance and talk to some people.” He subtly takes a step closer towards Baekhyun. “We can leave early and maybe go somewhere,” he suggests.

Baekhyun smiles at the prospect but stiffens in hesitation when he looks up towards the entrance. He turns to Joonmyun to explain but he’s already followed his line of sight and has seen Taeyeon, who looks quite beautiful in her simple white dress, making her way towards them.

“Oh,” Joonmyun remarks quietly. “You brought someone with you.”

“I just thought I’d start introducing you to my friends,” Baekhyun helplessly responded.

“I’m glad you like me enough to let your friends meet me,” Joonmyun tells Baekhyun. It’s supposed to warm Baekhyun’s heart but, somehow, it just makes him feel wretched.

Taeyeon is as charming as Joonmyun and they get along great, immediately launching into a discussion about various forms of art and their favorites. Baekhyun stands at the side, drinking his wine and trying to look like he knows something about what they’re talking about. Joonmyun then laughs, his face twisting in something so undesirable but oddly endearing, that Baekhyun unknowingly smiles. Taeyeon catches this and raises an eyebrow.

“I see how it is,” Taeyeon muses, glancing between Joonmyun and Baekhyun. “Just because I don’t understand modern art very well…”

“Well, to be fair,” Joonmyun says, sobering up, “no one really understands modern art.” Baekhyun can’t help but nod.

Taeyeon rolls her eyes. “Hmm.” She purses her lips in amusement before looking around. “Excuse me. I have to go to the restroom.”

“Lovely friend. Very beautiful, charming, has impeccable taste in art,” Joonmyun comments so sincerely that Baekhyun would have felt jealous if he didn’t know Joonmyun’s tastes. “Have you guys known each other long?”

“Yeah, pretty long time,” Baekhyun answers. “She’s one of my oldest friends.”

“Well I’m glad I got to meet her,” Joonmyun says. “I guess we’re not going out later then.”

“Joonmyun,” Baekhyun starts, but Joonmyun’s already excusing himself and making his way towards a group of people who just walked in.

Baekhyun grabs another flute of champagne and drinks it in one gulp. He knows that he hurt Joonmyun. It’s unintentional, like it always is, but somehow Baekhyun just can’t seem to stop. There are just so many things he can’t do.

“I wish you would’ve told me that we were going to your boyfriend’s event,” Taeyeon states as soon as she comes back. “I mean, it would’ve been a nice warning. I could’ve dressed less… nicely.”

Baekhyun furrows his brows. “What are you talking about?”

“Baek, this is your boyfriend’s event and you brought someone else with you,” Taeyeon clarifies. “I hope you told him that we’re just friends. Not that it would help anything, considering your circumstances.”

“He knows that I’m loyal to him,” Baekhyun stoutly declares. “He knows that he’s the one I’m dating.”

“Yes, I’m sure he does,” Taeyeon responds gently. “But if no one else really knows, it doesn’t really matter, does it?”


 

÷






Baekhyun blows out a breath, his cheeks puffing out, and leans against the wall. He stares at Joonmyun’s name and number on his phone and sighs again. Joonmyun hasn’t responded to any of Baekhyun’s text messages and calls ever since the event at the museum and he just knew, with Taeyeon’s explanation, that it’s his fault. If it weren’t for Taeyeon, he probably wouldn’t even have realized the mistake that he made. Somehow, when it comes to Joonmyun, it takes Baekhyun longer to figure things out.

Sending one last message, he pockets his phone and heads back inside. Soojung’s new apartment is littered with boxes and unmoved furniture. When she’d asked for help to fix up her apartment, Baekhyun didn’t think it meant helping her move in. Taemin, busy with certain work obligations, is absent. It’s a good thing Amber and Lu Han managed to make it and help out.

“There you are!” Soojung pulls him towards the sofa and sits him down. She then taps the box in front of him and grins. “This is your assignment. Taemin basically just packed everything in my old apartment and there are things I want to dispose of.” She opens the box, revealing certain home trinkets that would be inside the trashcan if it were up to Baekhyun. “Pick the ones you think should be thrown out. Of course keep the photos.”

Baekhyun looks up and sees Lu Han’s thumbs up. Baekhyun laughs when Soojung tells Lu Han that he’s in charge of filling up the cabinets with all the plates and other kitchen stuff. At least all Baekhyun has to do is sit and sort things.

Soojung has a lot of photos of Taemin. Which makes sense since she is dating him. But it’s picture frame after picture frame of Taemin’s face and Baekhyun wonders how Soojung never gets sick of seeing him, of his face. How does anyone not get sick of someone that they’re seeing, especially when it’s been such a long time? He knows that Taemin and Soojung have been dating since they were in high school. Baekhyun can’t fathom how they’ve managed to stay together for so long.

“They’re sickening, aren’t they?” Amber says, plopping down beside Baekhyun.

“It’s amazing,” Baekhyun remarks, “how anyone can stomach so much of Taemin’s face.”

Amber bursts into laughter but nods. “She loves him. That’s probably why.”

“Seven years,” Baekhyun says in wonder.

“I hear they’re getting married in two years,” Amber tells him.

“I can’t imagine being in love with anyone for that long, much less forever,” Baekhyun shares, shaking his head in amazement.

“Why not?” Amber tilts her head, giving him a curious look.

Baekhyun doesn’t answer. The reason is mostly because he’s really crap at commitment. He thinks it’s also because the kind of relationship that he wants, with a man, makes it really hard for him to commit.

“It’s not just about love, you know,” Amber continues when he doesn’t say anything. “It’s also about deciding and committing. Soojung and Taemin may love each other, but if they didn’t decide to commit to each other, like everyday of their lives, nothing is going to happen to their relationship. It’s probably going to fall apart, especially with the amount of complaints Soojung has about Taemin.” She snickers.

“Have you found anyone you wanted to commit to that way?” Baekhyun curiously asks, making a face at a dusty angel figurine.

Amber goes quiet, pursing her lips as she thinks about it. Slowly, she shakes her head. “I don’t know,” she admits. “I’m gay. Somehow, I find gay people, or at least that ones I’ve been with and know, have a harder time with commitment.”

Baekhyun swallows. The way Amber spoke of herself so confidently made Baekhyun hope that, maybe, someday he could do the same. He feels he’s still a long way from that though. He hasn’t even really come out. At this point, he’s pretty sure only Taeyeon knows—and Joonmyun—that he’s gay.

“I think everyone has issues with commitment at a certain point in their lives,” Baekhyun shares, accidentally placing one of Taemin’s photos in the To Throw pile. Amber quietly amends his mistake. “I mean, it’s not just gay people.” He clears his throat.

Amber nods. “Commitment is something everyone’s going to have to deal with eventually,” she agrees. “But I don’t think it should be as scary as everyone makes it out to be. I mean, what’s so scary about wanting to fall in love with the person you’re already in love with everyday?” She fixes Baekhyun with a stare.

“Well, what if they don’t love that person yet?” Baekhyun shoots back with a half shrug. “It’s possible to like someone but not know if that someone is the one they want to spend the rest of their life with.”

“Are you telling me that if you’ve found someone you know you can spend your life with, you’ll go and commit?” Amber asks, almost challengingly, smiling a little.

“Once upon a time, I did,” Baekhyun reminds her of Taeyeon.

“What about now?” Amber wants to know. “Things can change in a couple of months, and I know you haven’t really seen anyone seriously after you’ve broken up with Taeyeon.”

“How would you know?” Baekhyun retorts childishly. “I could be seeing someone and I just never told you guys.”

Amber fixes him a stare. “Are you?”

Baekhyun should say yes because he is seeing someone; he is seeing Joonmyun. Except he’s sure that saying yes would lead to more questions and those, he’s not ready to answer. He shakes his head. “Getting out of a three year relationship is no easy feat,” he says instead.

Amber hums and gets off the couch when the loud clanging of fallen pots and pans echoes in the apartment. It does nothing to distract him from the guilt that he feels.



 

÷






Baekhyun hurriedly shuffles out of the elevator, trying to balance the box on his left hand and the paper bag on his right, while managing to breathe through the scarf around his neck. It’s not that cold into the year yet, but he loves this scarf, mainly because it was Joonmyun’s. Red looks good against Joonmyun’s pale skin, but Baekhyun had joked it looked better on him and just like that, Joonmyun unwrapped the scarf from his neck and placed it on him. Baekhyun wonders how Joonmyun makes things seem so easy.

He walks down the hall, hoping against hope that he isn’t going to drop anything, before coming to a stop on the door numbered 522. Baekhyun stares at his full hands and arms and then glares at the doorbell. After a second, he takes a deep breath and presses his chin on the buzzer. He presses twice before stepping back and hoping he doesn’t have a red mark on his chin.

The door opens. Joonmyun starts to ask who it is but stops abruptly when he sees Baekhyun.

“What—?” Joonmyun looks at the box and the paper bag that he’s carrying.

“Surprise?” Baekhyun grins.

Joonmyun wordlessly lets Baekhyun in. Baekhyun makes a beeline for the kitchen, dumping the paper bag on the counter and putting the box inside the refrigerator. Joonmyun watches from the doorway as he then proceeds to take out fruits, vegetables, as well as some meat out of the bag.

“Are you… going to cook?” Joonmyun asks carefully as Baekhyun takes out his pots and pans.

“I just thought we could have dinner in,” Baekhyun replies with an easy smile. He chuckles and drops everything he’s holding so he could go to Joonmyun and pull him in his arms. “It can’t be that hard to make dinner for two, can it?” he says, pressing a kiss to his lips.

“Well, if you haven’t done it before…” Joonmyun trails away slowly, but there’s a twinkle in his eyes.

“You can help me then!” Baekhyun announces with a clap.

Baekhyun goes back to the counter to start preparing the food. He’s not really sure what he’s going to cook yet, considering he doesn’t really make food for himself, and he’s not really sure what exactly to do, but seeing the smile on Joonmyun’s face and the way he lit up when Baekhyun declared that they were going to have dinner together makes him want to cook something delicious. Whatever it is.

Joonmyun startles him when he wraps his arms around Baekhyun’s waist and rests his chin on his shoulder. “You don’t know what you’re doing, don’t you?” he says when he’s watched Baekhyun chop potatoes for the longest time. “You don’t have to chop something so perfectly, you know. Everything is just going to get grinded inside your mouth.”

“I just want things to be perfect,” Baekhyun defends himself. “Is it so wrong to want my first dinner for my boyfriend to be perfect?”

Joonmyun sighs contentedly. “I’m your boyfriend,” he repeats.

Baekhyun puts down the knife and presses his hands flat on the wooden surface. “You are my boyfriend,” he states firmly. He’s quiet for a second where he thinks about how he should apologize to Joonmyun.

Joonmyun beats him to it. “I’m sorry.”

Baekhyun turns around in his arms and leans back. “What? Why are you sorry?”

“I shouldn’t have acted the way I did,” Joonmyun admits, meeting Baekhyun’s eyes for a second before dropping it. “I know you and Taeyeon are best friends, that you’ve been friends for so long, and that it shouldn’t have been an issue that you brought her there.” He bows his head. “You brought her there so we could officially meet and I shouldn’t have tainted that with my jealousy.”

“Hey,” Baekhyun cups Joonmyun’s cheeks, tilting his head to make him look at him. “I’m the one who’s sorry. The reason I’m here is because I’m apologizing, for bringing her, for not telling you that I was bringing her. It was rude and I hurt you. I’m sorry.”

Joonmyun meets his eyes. “I know… that you’re not all that comfortable in this relationship,” he starts. “I know you’re adjusting but that there are things… I mean, you used to date women and—”

“I’m with you, Joonmyun,” Baekhyun interrupts and somehow this declaration just gives him courage to decide to be fully with Joonmyun. He links his fingers behind Joonmyun’s neck. “Look at me,” he persists. “I may have dated women but I know now that that’s not for me. Right now, I’m here and I’m with you.” It’s not the most heartening speech he’s given, but it’s all he can express.

Joonmyun’s smile is all the answer that Baekhyun needs. “Okay,” Joonmyun whispers before he’s kissing Baekhyun, pressing him against the counter.

Baekhyun decides that it’s okay that he’s left out the tiny detail of Taeyeon being his ex-girlfriend.



 

÷






“Knock, knock.”

Baekhyun looks up, startled. The last time this has happened, his boss had walked in and raised an eyebrow to indicate that he thought he was sleeping. Which he wasn’t. There really are just times when Baekhyun wants to relax his eyes and mind and veer away from all the numbers.

At the moment, though, he’s just busy trying not to think too much about the fact that he declared to Joonmyun that they’re boyfriends and then declined his invitation to go out in public. He presses the tips of his fingers to his temple and breathes in and out. Baekhyun keeps on screwing up again and again. The times he’s made Joonmyun upset outranks the times he’s made him happy.

Baekhyun sighs. “What is it?”

“I’m so flattered that you sound so happy to see me,” Jongdae remarks, walking in and planting himself on one of the leather seats in front of the desk.

“I really am,” Baekhyun returns evenly. “What’s up?” He straightens up in his seat and goes back to the documents he was previously perusing.

“I was just wondering if you had some free time tomorrow evening,” Jongdae says, smiling sheepishly.

Baekhyun stares at him, lips quirking. “Are you asking me out? Because I should tell you, I’m not—”

“You wish,” Jongdae scoffs. “But yeah, my original date is busy tomorrow and you’re the next best option if you need encouragement or something.” The smile on his face looks like it would be very satisfying to slap off.

“What for?” Baekhyun warily asks. It’s not that he doesn’t trust Jongdae; it’s just that the last time Jongdae had asked him if he was free, Baekhyun found himself in a museum, meeting the curator. Not that he begrudges Jongdae for bringing around his newest relationship.

“There’s this art exhibit downtown,” Jongdae starts, leaning his arms on the table, forcing Baekhyun to look at him. “You like art, right? I mean, you did have fun when you went with me the last time. But yeah, free tickets.” Two tickets materialize from his breast coat pocket.

“Why do you always have these art event thingies?” Baekhyun makes a face at him.

“Art events are cool,” Jongdae says defensively. “It helps with thinking and creativity and keeps you cultured.”

“You wish you’re cultured,” Baekhyun mutters before resigning himself to his fate. “So do we leave right after work or…?”

“Yeah,” Jongdae agrees, standing up. “I’ll pick you up and then we can head out together.”

“Sunyoung must be disappointed not to be going with you,” Baekhyun calls just as Jongdae’s walking out. Jongdae merely smirks and waves.

Baekhyun leans back on his seat, the smile disappearing from his face. Tomorrow. Joonmyun had asked him to go somewhere with him tomorrow and he said no. How is going out with Jongdae different from Joonmyun? Baekhyun can’t help but feel conscious of the fact that he and Joonmyun have so much more between them. It always feels like people are looking and judging whenever they’re together. He’ll find a way to make it up to Joonmyun somehow.



 

÷





Everything related to art reminds Baekhyun of Joonmyun. Every turn in the gallery, every piece of work that Jongdae points out to him, he thinks of Joonmyun. And every time, Baekhyun is reminded of how the last time they spoke, they’d gotten into a tiny fight, where Baekhyun hurts Joonmyun because he’s still not comfortable with being gay and having a boyfriend. As usual. How is it that other people can deal with things so quickly? How can others find out they’re gay and go on like things haven’t changed? Baekhyun remembers being friends with Amber for a year before she ever came out to anyone that she liked girls more than boys and yet, she’d gone through life as if it’s perfectly okay.

“Amber has dealt with her sexuality far longer than you have,” Taeyeon had consoled him. “She’s known for a while that she just wasn’t attracted to guys. It’s only been a year for you. People cope in different ways, in different timelines. And seeing someone, like what you’re doing, is a step forward.”

Baekhyun wasn’t really sure what pushed him to agree and get to know Joonmyun after he’d been asked out for coffee. Sure Joonmyun was handsome, sweet and was such a gentleman the first time they went out, but Baekhyun was only a little bit more than one year fresh from a break-up, as well as from coming out. There was just something about Joonmyun that made Baekhyun agree for another date and another and another until they were officially together.

There are several things, but one thing that Baekhyun likes about Joonmyun is his patience. He doesn’t just mean his patience when it comes to Baekhyun; that is a part of it because if there’s one thing Baekhyun hates, is being forced to do something or be something in an unreasonable amount of time. Joonmyun is naturally patient. It shows with how he deals with his work, which has a lot of moving deadlines and has a lot to deal with demanding clients and unreasonable bosses. He doesn’t fly of the handle, always letting his anger go before talking to anyone. Like with Baekhyun. Baekhyun supposes it will always come back to that.

“You’re so quiet,” Jongdae nudges him.

“It’s an art gallery,” Baekhyun returns, rolling his eyes. “I can’t exactly talk your ear off.”

“Exactly,” Jongdae laughs. “It’s an art gallery, not a museum.”

Baekhyun opens his mouth to retort but finds that Jongdae’s comment is very valid. People aren’t required to be quiet in art galleries. It’s not even wrong to talk in museums when he thinks about it further. Art always puts him in this sort of reverence though, like he should just shut up and admire. He turns to Jongdae to tell him exactly this when there’s a tap on his shoulder.

“Joonmyun!” Jongdae greets him before Baekhyun can even turn around.

When Baekhyun does turn around, Joonmyun is standing there, handsome in a black blazer over a dark gray shirt and fitted black slacks. Baekhyun starts to smile but he sees the way Joonmyun is looking at him, like he’s been betrayed, and he remembers that he’d declined to go out with Joonmyun because he said he was busy with work. So this was where Joonmyun wanted to take him.

“What are you guys doing here?” Joonmyun asks, smiling at Jongdae.

Baekhyun opens his mouth to say something, to maybe defend himself or maybe save face, but Jongdae answers with, “I had free tickets and yesterday I asked Baekhyun to go with me.” Baekhyun closes his eyes for a second. When said like that, it’s almost like Jongdae had asked Baekhyun out.

“It’s not really—” Baekhyun starts.

“Free tickets, huh,” Joonmyun comments, still smiling.

“Yeah,” Jongdae continues. “Baekhyun’s easy to drag into things like this. He rarely ever says no, probably because he has no love life.” He laughs as Baekhyun slaps his arm. “What? It’s true.”

“I could have a love life,” Baekhyun mutters, not meeting Joonmyun’s eyes. “I could have and just not tell you about it because you’re nosy.” This is just perfect. He’s not entirely sure how he can get out of this one.

“Ah really?” Jongdae turns to him, all interested. “You’re seeing someone?”

Baekhyun fidgets. This is not how he planned to tell anyone he was seeing Joonmyun if he ever came to that point. This is definitely not that point and he doesn’t want to just surprise anyone with this information the way he’s surprised into admitting it.

“Let’s not force Baekhyun to say things he clearly doesn’t intend to share,” Joonmyun jumps in.

“That’s not true,” Baekhyun immediately replies, looking at Joonmyun with wide eyes. “You know it isn’t.”

“Well then, are you going to answer his question?” Joonmyun asks, gesturing towards Jongdae, who’s giving them confused looks.

“Just because someone doesn’t want to answer questions doesn’t mean he wouldn’t share those things to other people eventually,” Baekhyun defends himself the way he’s always defended his fear of telling people about him and his relationship with Joonmyun. “Sometimes it takes time.”

“Time runs out, too,” Joonmyun retorts, making Baekhyun freeze. Joonmyun smiles at Jongdae and shakes his hand. “Well, it was nice seeing you both but I have to go.” He turns and walks away without any preamble.

“What was that? You and Joonmyun sounded like you were fighting about something. I didn’t know you guys were close,” Jongdae is saying when Baekhyun excuses himself and goes after Joonmyun.

Baekhyun makes a note of talking to Jongdae later on as he rushes out of the gallery. He looks left and right and runs when he sees Joonmyun getting into his car. Without even asking for permission, he opens the passenger door, gets inside and straps himself in.

“I’m not getting out,” Baekhyun states firmly when Joonmyun opens his mouth. “We are going to talk whether you like it or not so just drive.”

The car ride back to Joonmyun’s place is quiet and unnerving. Baekhyun is so angry about what happened that he couldn’t bear to even think about letting it go. The fact that Joonmyun has let his anger go every time they fought doesn’t escape him, but Baekhyun doesn’t care. Joonmyun practically forced him to come out to Jongdae back in the gallery. While that may have been a reaction to Baekhyun’s doing, it still doesn’t sit right with him and he will not let this pass.

As soon as Joonmyun’s apartment door closes, Baekhyun follows Joonmyun into the kitchen. The latter is getting a glass of water from the fridge.

“Would you care to tell me what that was all about?” Baekhyun demands.

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” Joonmyun asks, his voice a forceful calm.

“I was working,” Baekhyun starts to explain. “But Jongdae just dragged me out and I couldn’t do anything—”

“He asked you yesterday, Baekhyun,” Joonmyun interrupts him, slamming the glass down on the counter. “I asked you to come with me last week and you couldn’t even free up your schedule for me.”

“So what, you decide to put me on the spot and tell Jongdae that we were seeing each other just so you could get back at me?” Baekhyun snaps.

Joonmyun takes a deep breath. “That wasn’t what I intended, but I’m sorry that it came out that way,” he says after a moment. His eyes meet Baekhyun’s flashing ones. “But you can’t keep doing this,” he carries on. “You can’t see me and then pretend that we don’t exist, that I don’t exist, that I’m not important to you when we’re in public.”

“I know that,” Baekhyun says. “I know that, believe me. But haven’t I asked you for time? Haven’t I explained to you that I’m not comfortable—”

“And I’ve given you leeway,” Joonmyun answers. “We’ve been dating for three months and never have I forced you into anything ever since we talked about it the first time. I’ve never asked about it and I’ve been patient. But, Baek, there’s only so much I can take.”

“Of course it is about you,” Baekhyun scoffs.

Joonmyun fixes a fierce gaze at him. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m in this relationship, too. So yes, sometimes it will be about me, because so far it’s always been about you. It’s always been about your fears, about your insecurities, about your secrets, about the things you don’t want to do. But let me tell you something, I have feelings, too.” He pauses and takes a deep breath, smiling almost mockingly. “Baekhyun, I’m in love with you,” he declares.

Baekhyun stands there like he’s been slapped. Baekhyun likes Joonmyun because it’s all he would ever allow himself to feel for anyone at this point in his life, but Joonmyun loves him.

“I’m in love with you,” Joonmyun repeats. “And I can’t do this. I can’t keep on doing this. I can’t be in a relationship where what I think and feel don’t count.”

It feels like Baekhyun’s been put in his place. He stands there like he’s been hit and shaken at the same time. Joonmyun is in love with him. How he managed to do that despite everything they’ve been through is beyond Baekhyun. How can Joonmyun be in love with him? How dare he!

“So you’re breaking up with me?” Baekhyun replies, feeling his stomach churn. “Is that what you meant by time runs out, too? My time with you has run out, is that it?”

Joonmyun runs a hand through his hair in frustration. “No, that’s not it. I don’t want to break up with you,” he corrects him. “I’m just—I’m trying to make you understand that there is a limit to how much of myself I can give you without getting anything in return.”

“You’re asking for too much,” Baekhyun tells him, shaking his head and taking a step back. “You’re asking for something that I’m not ready for, which I’ve told you right from the beginning.”

“I thought it would pass and—”

“Well it hasn’t,” Baekhyun almost yells, taking another step towards the door. He chuckles sardonically. “I have put myself out there when I agreed to go out with you. I did it again when I agreed that we could date officially and this is what I get. You’re leaving me because I can’t be what you want.”

“Baekhyun, I’m not asking you to be anything but yourself,” Joonmyun tries to make him understand.

Baekhyun doesn’t understand and shakes his head. Without another word, he walks out of the apartment, ignoring Joonmyun’s calls for him.



 

÷






Clubs really aren’t his scene. The music is too loud, the drinks can be suspicious and people tend to be touchier than usual even with strangers; probably because of the alcohol. Baekhyun finishes another bottle of beer and orders another one from the bartender. Normally he wouldn’t touch beer, but he can’t be bothered to watch his drink being made. He’d rather focus on the ladies on the dance floor, grinding against each other. He still can find girls attractive, can he? Being gay doesn’t mean going blind. His new bottle of beer is served and he takes a swig just as one particular girl catches his eye. Baekhyun sends a smirk her way, the alcohol thrumming through his veins, tipping the bottle towards her in acknowledgement. She returns it with a smile of her own.

Baekhyun sighs when his mind flits back towards Joonmyun. He’s heard Joonmyun’s argument loud and clear: change for the better, give me my due or let’s break up. It’s like Baekhyun’s been told that he isn’t being responsible for his side of the relationship. But Baekhyun has been very clear in the beginning that he isn’t comfortable enough. Obviously Joonmyun thought that that was something that was going to be done in a couple of months. He gets that Joonmyun wants to tell people, wants to get to know Baekhyun’s friends, be in a more intimate relationship, but intimacy also means more complicated. Baekhyun may be willing to do that, but in his own time. He will not be bullied into doing things he’s not comfortable with, most especially not by someone he thought understood him.

His arm is jostled when someone slides onto the empty seat beside his. He turns and sees that it’s that girl from the dance floor. She’s pretty as she sweeps her side bangs away from her eyes, smiling at him with her pink lips, her pretty lashes fluttering to her rosy cheeks.

“Buy me a drink?” she asks, her voice melodious.

Baekhyun agrees to her request and hails the bartender over towards them. He watches as she orders her drink herself, specifying exactly the way she wants it made, before turning to him with another smile.

Baekhyun has always been attracted to the cute ones, petite, with pretty eyes and a pretty smile. When he first met Taeyeon so many years ago, he was immediately attracted to how tiny she was, giving him this feeling of wanting to take care of her. It was a while before Baekhyun really got the courage to act on the attraction because he wasn’t sure he wanted to and because Taeyeon had become a good friend after a while. When they got into university, that’s when he decided to pursue her. Just before they turned sophomores, Taeyeon kissed him. This girl is very cute, pretty and seems to be coming on to him.

“Hey,” Baekhyun lamely greets her.

“No personal information,” she dictates, holding her hand up to stop him from saying his name or anything else before downing her drink in one go. She orders another one. “However, do you want to go somewhere else after I finish my drink?” she asks, sending him a coy smile.

Baekhyun drinks half of his nth beer that night. He knows what she is asking. There is no secret to what that invitation means. He should say no because it’s what a person in a relationship should say. But right now, he’s not really sure if he still has a boyfriend. He nods his assent at her, clinking their drinks together.



 

÷






Baekhyun’s lashes flutter as his blurry gaze tries to focus. The room is dark and the surroundings unfamiliar. He looks up. There’s a small chandelier on his ceiling. Since when has he—he hurriedly sits up and looks around. Definitely not his place. He looks to his side and groans quietly in disappointment when he sees a girl he doesn’t really remember or recognize sleeping under a tangle of white sheets. Baekhyun had been hoping it was a dream. He’d been hoping that he didn’t do anything rash and stupid after leaving the club. But he did. Tears prickle his eyes as he thinks of Joonmyun.

He quietly gets off the bed and dresses himself as quickly as he can. Closing the bedroom door, he looks around, slightly amazed at the size of the apartment, and wonders whether he should leave a note or something. That is probably the proper thing to do, so even if Baekhyun knows that this isn’t something he wants to get back to him, he does leave a note with his full name in an effort to be even the slightest bit honorable in the midst of the whole situation.

The streets are cold in the wee hours of the morning. Baekhyun isn’t really sure where he is but he hails a cab and goes to a place where he knows he will feel safe and cared for even in his stupidity.

“Baekhyun, it’s three in the morning.” Taeyeon pulls in him inside and closes the door. She fusses the way she does when she worried and makes Baekhyun sit on the couch while she fetches him a glass of water and a jacket.

Baekhyun feels more and more wretched as the time passes. This shouldn’t have happened. He shouldn’t have done what he did, shouldn’t have slept with that girl; he shouldn’t have slept with anyone else period. He and Joonmyun had fought but that was no reason to… Baekhyun pushes himself further into the couch and curls into himself.

Taeyeon finds him lying on his side, eyes closed, fists clenched and his knees to his chest.

“Baekhyun, what happened?” she gently asks, placing the water and wrapping the jacket around his shoulders.

What happened? He turned gay, got into a relationship with someone he would never deserve, hurt that person and screwed up even further. How can he answer that question without wanting to disappear?

“Baekhyun.” Taeyeon coaxes him into opening his eyes. She reaches for one of his hands and unclenches it, lacing her fingers with his. “You’re making me worried,” she tells him softly.

“I screwed up,” he chokes out. He pulls Taeyeon closer, making her kneel on the floor, as he tucks her hand close to him. “I screwed up so badly.” He doesn’t even think screwed up covers it but he doesn’t want to elaborate on the severity of his mistake.

“Is this about Joonmyun?” she lightly presses. When he doesn’t answer, places her other arm on the edge of the couch and leans her chin on it. “Baekhyun, I’m sure you guys will work it out. You and Joonmyun always seemed to have.”

Baekhyun shakes his head as much as lying on the couch would allow him. “Not this time,” he bites out. “Not with…” He cuts himself off with a sob that he holds back. “I just…” He takes a deep breath and squeezes his eyes shut to compose himself. “I think… I don’t want to lose him.”

Baekhyun admits and believes he doesn’t merit Joonmyun and his patience, consideration and now, love. But why would Joonmyun be with Baekhyun and stay with him in the first place? There must something he saw in him, something that Baekhyun still has yet to find. But what if Joonmyun’s patience has run out? Joonmyun was so upset when they’d fought. He had slammed the glass on the counter and had raised his voice, things that he’s never done. It wasn’t just that Baekhyun had made Joonmyun angry. It was also that Baekhyun had disappointed him. He can remember how Joonmyun looked at him in the art gallery and can’t begin to describe how that made—still makes—him feel guilty. How can Baekhyun ever make up for all the hurt he put him through? And after what he’d just done…

“Talking always does wonders,” Taeyeon suggests encouragingly.

“What if he doesn’t listen? What if he’s done with me?” Baekhyun voices out his insecurities and Taeyeon frowns at seeing her best friend like this.

“Hey.” She squeezes his hand to make him look at her. “Remember when we fought all the time back in the day?” Baekhyun smiles a little at the memory. “You always, always pestered me so that we could talk about it rationally. You wouldn’t even allow the thought of us breaking up. What ever happened to that?”

“That’s different,” he says.

“How is it different?” she challenges him. “How was our relationship different from the one you have with Joonmyun now?” She fixes him a knowing gaze. “Baek, it’s a relationship. It’s the same. Just because you’re dating a guy now doesn’t make it any less real.” She pauses thoughtfully. “Maybe that’s the problem; maybe you should start treating your relationship with Joonmyun more seriously.”

Baekhyun bites his lower lip in uncertainty. Commitment is what Joonmyun wants from him, what he’s always wanted, and giving him that would make him happy. Except Baekhyun doesn’t know how to do that. He doesn’t even know if he can. What if he says he would commit and then falter halfway? Wouldn’t that hurt Joonmyun more?

“Baek, no one knows how relationships will work out at the offset,” Taeyeon shares. “The important thing is that you try to make it work; you try your hardest. I think that’s all Joonmyun’s asking from you, that you meet him halfway.”


 

÷






It’s daylight. Joonmyun is probably asleep, bundled up in his blankets even if his air-conditioning is probably turned down so low. Baekhyun stands outside of his apartment, clothes rumpled and face tear-stricken. He’s not entirely sure what he’s doing here at this hour. He could have gone home to change and come back but he finds that he couldn’t put this off.

Taking a deep breath, he takes out the key from his pocket. Joonmyun had given him a key to his apartment the moment they hit two months, with a disclaimer. Joonmyun knew that he wasn’t all for commitment so he had immediately said that it was just for emergencies, for when Baekhyun needed a place to crash or a place to go to where he can feel safe. Baekhyun knows that Joonmyun is a safe place. If there was anyone aside from Taeyeon whom Baekhyun knew he could count on, it’s Joonmyun. He’s just that kind of person that makes you trust him.

He had taken the key, but has never had the need or the urge to use it.

Baekhyun slots the key in and goes inside. It’s quiet and warm. He makes a beeline for the bedroom, opening and closing the door quietly. Joonmyun is buried underneath his thick dark red blankets. Baekhyun can see the tufts of his messy dark brown hair peeking at the top and he takes a deep breath as he pads across the room and climbs on.

Baekhyun wraps his left arm around Joonmyun’s waist and presses himself close to his back. Joonmyun is so warm and so comfortable. He shifts slightly as Baekhyun snuggles even closer but doesn’t wake. Joonmyun can be a deep sleeper when he’s really tired. Baekhyun only hopes he doesn’t wake up right now. He leans his face and places an almost reverent kiss to Joonmyun’s nape. As soon as he does, he bursts into tears.

He clings onto him tighter. Baekhyun is so scared. He’s only just started really being comfortable in his own skin again. He can’t even really say he’s all that comfortable yet, but he’s settling and his fears are slowly getting allayed even though he hasn’t really told anyone else. Taeyeon has been a great support throughout the whole thing and he’s glad he has someone like her, one whom he knows he’s hurt in the process, to hold his hand. But this is one thing Taeyeon can’t hold his hand through.

This whole thing has made him realize that he likes Joonmyun a lot more than he thought. Joonmyun isn’t just some guy that he’s decided to date and experiment being in a gay relationship with. He is someone whom Baekhyun has chosen to have a relationship with, just like how his relationship was with Taeyeon. Granted that he never really expected this to go anywhere because it is his first relationship after such a big change, but Taeyeon is right. It isn’t any different. He didn’t judge going out with Joonmyun other than the fact that he is a decent person.

Now Baekhyun is scared, because is so close to driving him away and he’s not sure if he can live with that. When he thinks about what Taeyeon has said, he hasn’t really given this relationship it’s due. He hasn’t tried hard enough to make it work. No wonder Joonmyun got so angry, no wonder he wanted to break up. But Baekhyun wonders if he can still make it work.

“Baekhyun?” Joonmyun rouses in his sleep and tries to turn around. “Are you crying?”

“No,” Baekhyun croaks, tightening his hold on Joonmyun’s waist so he can’t move.

“Baekhyun, what—?”

“I’m sorry,” Baekhyun sobs into his back, drenching Joonmyun’s shirt with his tears. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m going to try harder. I’m going to do my best. I’ll do a lot more, just please say you’ll let me and won’t break up with me.”

Joonmyun tries to turn and face him again but Baekhyun just squeezes him tighter, burying his face in his face. “Baekhyun, let me,” he requests. “Please let me comfort you.”

Baekhyun slowly loosens his hold and Joonmyun shifts on the bed to face him. He traces Baekhyun’s tears with his fingers before pulling him towards him and wrapping his arms securely around his frame. Baekhyun starts crying even more.

Baekhyun doesn’t understand how Joonmyun can still hold him like this, how he can still be so kind and concerned for him after everything he’s done. Their relationship has been rocky all because of Baekhyun’s doing. He’s singlehandedly ruining what can possibly be a good thing. He has also managed to break into one man’s patience. It makes Baekhyun feel horrible that Joonmyun still cares and still worries about him after all that.

“Sshh,” Joonmyun tries to soothe him, rubbing his hand up and down Baekhyun’s back. “Sshh. It’s okay. It will be okay.”

“Joonmyun, I’m really—,” Baekhyun starts again, but Joonmyun hushes him.

“We can talk about it tomorrow,” Joonmyun assures him, despite the sun glaring rather hotly outside. “Later,” he whispers, kissing Baekhyun on the forehead.

Baekhyun fights sleep for quite some time, allowing himself to revel in Joonmyun’s soothing voice, hoping to hum him to dreamland. But after a while, he permits himself to fall asleep, fists clenched into Joonmyun’s sleep shirt.


 

÷





Baekhyun makes sure that Joonmyun wakes up to the smell of breakfast. Or late lunch, he thinks when he checks the clock. Baekhyun had taken a while to calm down and stop crying and he’s pretty sure that Joonmyun stayed awake long after his sniffles had quieted down.

Baekhyun is by the stove, his back towards the doorway, not noticing that Joonmyun has woken up and has come to the kitchen. He sighs when he takes a look at all the food that he’s made. He originally just decided to make pancakes, but then he decided to make more of an effort and had gone out to buy waffle mixes, bread, as well as eggs and other groceries. So now he also has waffles and spam and eggs and bread. Granted that everything looks burnt (it doesn’t make sense that even the bread would be burnt, but it is), Baekhyun hopes that Joonmyun wouldn’t mind.

“What are you doing?” Joonmyun laughs.

“Trying to make you something edible,” Baekhyun answers, brows in a furrow, mouth in a pout. He takes the waffles left on the pan and dumps them on a big plate. He makes a face when he sees that none of those can possible be eaten. “Sorry,” he says with a sigh, finally looking at Joonmyun. “I thought I could make it work. I mean, I went to the grocery and bought stuff. I even bought recipe books and instruction guides and just…” He slumps back on the counter, throwing his hands up in the air. “I tried.”

Baekhyun turns and grabs the big plate of waffles and moves to dump it into the sink. However, Joonmyun stops him. He takes it from Baekhyun’s hands and puts it on the counter. With a knife, he takes out the burnt parts. There are a lot of them, big chunks, mostly the whole of the waffle. Still, there are some left that can be eaten.

“Not everything has to be thrown away,” Joonmyun speaks softly, attention on the slicing of waffles. “There are always parts that are good, like silver linings.” He looks up and meets Baekhyun’s eyes. “Something good always comes out of trying. The important thing is you tried.”

Baekhyun opens his mouth, sucking some air in, before talking. “Joonmyun, I…”

“I shouldn’t have put you on the spot like that,” Joonmyun interrupts, shaking his head and looking away. He puts the knife down and wipes his hands on his shorts. “I’ve known that you aren’t comfortable and I shouldn’t have pushed the issue.” He chuckles mockingly. “When I saw you with Jongdae, I just couldn’t help but feel jealous about the fact that you can go out with him freely and we never even…” He shakes his head. “It’s fine,” he finishes, taking a deep breath. He meets Baekhyun’s eyes again. “I was only thinking of myself. I’m sorry.”

Baekhyun purses his lips to keep himself from bursting into tears again. Crying like a baby earlier was enough to last him several lifetimes and he wasn’t going to go do it again any time soon. But it hurts his heart to see Joonmyun so apologetic and so concerned about Baekhyun’s feelings when it’s Baekhyun who’s done something unforgivable. He moves towards him and kisses him. It feels like it’s been a while, so he pulls Joonmyun closer, wrapping his arms around his neck, just to show him how sorry he is.

“You shouldn’t be the one apologizing,” Baekhyun tells him, cupping his face. “This is my fault, remember? I’m the one who declined your invitation to go out. I’m the one who went to the gallery with Jongdae and denied something was going on between us. I’m the one who—” He chokes on his apology and kisses Joonmyun again. “I’m going to try. I’m going to really try this time, Joonmyun,” he promises.

“Baekhyun…” But Joonmyun can’t find anything to say against that.

“Let me start by telling you something about me,” Baekhyun insists. He pulls Joonmyun to the table and they take a seat beside each other. “I was in high school when I thought my chemistry teacher was handsome. I didn’t think it was anything important. I thought it was okay to be attracted to people with the same sex because, well, my teacher was really handsome. Everyone thought he was.” He chuckles and Joonmyun reaches for his hand with a smile.

“What happened then?” Joonmyun encourages him.

“Nothing. I just ignored it,” Baekhyun laughs. “Taeyeon was my best friend then and we’ve been friends until we got into university.” Sobering up, he takes a deep breath. “Joonmyun, Taeyeon became my girlfriend in college.” Joonmyun squeezes his hand. “We were together for three years. Until I came out.”

“Baekhyun,” Joonmyun starts.

“I didn’t tell you because…” Baekhyun takes a deep breath. “I don’t know why I didn’t. But I’m telling you now.”

Joonmyun is quiet for a while. He thinks about what Baekhyun said and decides that the more important thing is that Baekhyun trusted him with something he wouldn’t have normally told him otherwise. He then smiles, reaching to brush Baekhyun’s hair away from his eyes. “I appreciate you being honest,” he sincerely says, leaning forward and kissing his cheek. “Take your time with the rest.”

“I haven’t really come out to anyone else,” Baekhyun blurts out. “I haven’t, but… I’ll try.”

“Take your time,” Joonmyun kisses his smiles to Baekhyun’s lips.

“I’m scared, Joonmyun,” Baekhyun unsurely says, watching as Joonmyun pulls away and stands.

“Of what?” Joonmyun asks, turning away from all the burnt food they were going to have to throw out.

“Just…” Baekhyun shrugs and gestures awkwardly at nothing.

Joonmyun sits back down and pulls Baekhyun onto his lap. “I can’t say that there is nothing to be scared of,” he starts. “Being yourself can be scary. But you’ve been so brave, Baekhyun.” He kisses his cheek. “This is brave,” he tells him proudly, kissing him on the lips this time. “I’ll be brave along with you.”

Baekhyun throws his arms around Joonmyun in happiness.


 

÷





There’s a song stuck in Baekhyun’s head. It’s one of SM Entertainment’s boy group songs. He doesn’t really remember their name but their song is so addictive that he can’t help but sing them under his breath. Even if he sounds dumb repeating growling over and over again. He goes to the living room to check that everything is in order before moving to the kitchen to make sure that the popcorn is ready to be heated. He’s just placing the packet in the oven when the doorbell rings.

Baekhyun opens the door with a flourish when he sees that it’s Joonmyun through the peephole.

“Hi,” Joonmyun greets him.

Joonmyun takes a step forward to kiss him. Baekhyun flinches for a bit, his eyes moving to the empty hallway before they land on Joonmyun, who has noticed his discomfort. This is one of those moments and Baekhyun has to make more of an effort. He makes a quick decision and tugs Joonmyun back and kisses him.

“Hi,” Baekhyun greets him back with a smile, pulling him into the apartment. “You can put in the movie. I’ll just make the popcorn.”

Joonmyun is seated on the couch, remote on hand, ready to play the movie, when Baekhyun comes back with a bowl full of popcorn. Joonmyun wraps his arm around Baekhyun as they settle into watching the movie.

“This is nice,” Joonmyun comments, almost halfway through the movie. He shifts his arm down around Baekhyun so he can reach to his forearms. He’s been running his fingers up and down Baekhyun’s arm that Baekhyun keeps getting distracted.

It hasn’t been long since Baekhyun’s promise but it already feels like this has been the best their relationship has been ever since they started dating. Baekhyun definitely feels like he’s in a relationship for the first time since then. He sees Joonmyun almost everyday, even if it’s just for a few minutes. They talk all the time with Joonmyun sending him messages that always cheer him up when he gets stressed at work. He doesn’t know what he’s been doing not paying attention to how sweet Joonmyun is.

“It is,” Baekhyun hums in agreement, snuggling closer to him. “What are we watching?” he asks after a moment, making Joonmyun laugh.

“You haven’t been paying attention.” Joonmyun squeezes him and Baekhyun squirms, ending up facing him instead of the television. “What if we were watching my favorite movie?”

“Your favorite movie is Dead Poets Society,” Baekhyun scoffs. “You always like those really warm and lesson-filled ones.” Maybe that’s why Joonmyun’s always so warm. “Besides, I would know and pay more attention if we were watching one of those movies that you really liked.” Touching, Joonmyun’s chin, he makes him look at him. “Right now, I’d rather pay attention to you.”

Joonmyun smiles and kisses him. Baekhyun makes himself comfortable, leaning his head back, resting it on the couch as he wraps his arms around his neck and plays with Joonmyun’s hair. He really likes it when Joonmyun kisses him. His lips are really soft and tender and perfect against his. Baekhyun thinks this is a part of their relationship that he enjoys rediscovering the most.

“If you wanted to make-out,” Joonmyun whispers as Baekhyun’s fingers find the buttons of his cardigan, “you could have just said so, instead of asking me to come over for a movie marathon.”

“Well now I’m not asking,” Baekhyun replies with a giggle. Shifting on the couch, he manages to lie down and pull Joonmyun on top of him. “Less talk, more action.”

“So bold,” Joonmyun laughs, his kisses becoming fuller. “I like it.”

“I’m glad,” Baekhyun says, unbuttoning Joonmyun’s cardigan fully and taking it off for him. Of course Joonmyun is wearing a button up underneath but he’ll enjoy taking that off as well. “I like you.”

Joonmyun pushes himself up to look at Baekhyun. He’s never said anything like that before. Baekhyun has never expressed outright how he felt about Joonmyun.

“Eventually I’ll get there,” Baekhyun promises him, mistaking Joonmyun’s stare for disappointment. He knows that Joonmyun feels more than just like for him.

Joonmyun just smiles and kisses him and Baekhyun is all relieved to kiss him back.


 

÷





Being buried in paperwork is one of those things that Baekhyun really dislikes about his job. The paperwork always piles up even when he’s finishing one after another constantly. He sighs, leaning back on his chair, as his secretary places another sets of folders on his desk before giving him some documents to sign. He waves her away, saying he’ll buzz for her when he needs her to get them. The documents needing his signature are approvals for a new project that has come in. He sets them aside to finish the current work he’s been doing.

Doing his job has become seemingly easier in the past weeks. He’s not sure how it’s happened, but it’s become easier to wake up in the morning and not dread to go to work. Baekhyun wonders if it has something to do with the fact that he’s fixing a part of his life.

“Mr. Kim is here to see you,” his secretary buzzes him. “Should I show him in?”

Baekhyun stares at his door. This conversation was bound to come sooner or later. He’s actually pretty surprised, but grateful, that it hasn’t come sooner. Jongdae’s been a good friend and has definitely made his stay in the company easier and more fun. Baekhyun owes him at least some honesty and insight into his life.

“Show him in,” Baekhyun responds.

Baekhyun blows out a breath when Jongdae walks in and closes the door behind him.

“Hey,” Jongdae greets somewhat uncertainly, taking a seat in front of the desk.

“Hey,” Baekhyun replies with a small smile. He takes a deep breath, not quite sure how to begin because he’s pretty sure that he has the one who has some explaining to do. “Look, I apologize for what happened at the art gallery and I’m sorry for leaving without an explanation.”

“I figured it was important,” Jongdae carefully responds.

“Joonmyun and I…” Baekhyun starts, taking another deep breath. “We’ve met up a couple of times after you introduced us.” Jongdae doesn’t say anything as he processes this information. “He asked me to meet him for coffee and I said yes and we went out a couple more times after that. On dates.”

“But that would mean…” Jongdae furrows his brows in confusion. “But Baekhyun, you’re not—”

“I’m gay,” Baekhyun tells him candidly. It only takes him a second to realize how liberating it feels to say that. “Joonmyun and I, we’ve been together for three months, and what you saw in the gallery was him getting upset because I wanted to keep us a secret, while he wanted to tell people about us.”

Jongdae is quiet and Baekhyun fidgets in anxiety. This is the first time he’s come out and said that to anyone other than Taeyeon and it’s both scary and relieving at the same time. But if Jongdae decides that Baekhyun isn’t a good enough friend for him anymore, he would accept it. A lot more people may be accepting, but there are still people who aren’t because society still doesn’t completely condone it. Jongdae could be one of the latter.

“I know that this may be something that you’re not comfortable with,” Baekhyun continues but is interrupted.

Jongdae starts laughing, and laughing quite hard. Baekhyun doesn’t say anything and just leans back in his seat, trying not to feel too hurt by his reaction. Obviously, Jongdae isn’t taking this seriously. He probably thinks that Baekhyun is joking, making up a whole story about what happened.

“Jongdae—”

“It’s lunch break,” Jongdae suddenly says, glancing up at the clock. He stands up and walks to the door and Baekhyun is resigned to the fact that Jongdae may never go through those doors again, unless not if he can’t help it. “Come on,” he then calls him.

“What?” Baekhyun blinks.

“Come and let’s have lunch,” Jongdae invites him with a wave.

Baekhyun confusedly and wordlessly follows Jongdae to the cafeteria. This is certainly behavior he didn’t expect, especially since Jongdae didn’t seem to hear what he had just said. When they’ve found seats and have bought food, Baekhyun stays quiet and just watches as Jongdae texts someone.

“Jongdae, I’m not sure if you’ve understood what I told you earlier,” Baekhyun tries to explain again. “I’m—”

Jongdae rolls his eyes at him dismissively before waving at someone. Baekhyun turns in his seat and finds a rather cute male with black hair, pretty eyes and full lips. He slides into the space beside Jongdae and smiles at him before turning to Baekhyun.

“Baekhyun, meet Kyungsoo,” Jongdae introduces them.

“It’s nice to finally meet you,” Kyungsoo says genuinely.

“It’s nice to meet you, too,” Baekhyun says, confused about this sudden introduction. There is a bit of a pressing matter than he wants Jongdae so badly to understand and something that Baekhyun wants to know what Jongdae thinks of.

Jongdae meets Baekhyun’s eyes. “Kyungsoo is my boyfriend,” he shares.

It almost feels like he’s having an out of body experience. Baekhyun stares at Jongdae in confusion before looking at Kyungsoo and then looking back at his friend. He does this a couple more times before it really settles in.

“But you’re dating Sunyoung, the receptionist,” Baekhyun tries to understand.

Jongdae chuckles and shakes his head. “I told you I was going out with the receptionist,” he corrects him, “not that I was dating Sunyoung specifically.”

Baekhyun opens his mouth and then closes it again when he finds that he can’t think of anything to say. Jongdae is gay? How could he have missed this? And they have two receptionists? He didn’t know this either.

“I wasn’t sure you would be comfortable so I never corrected you and never really talked about it much,” Jongdae explains, looking rueful. “And I was going to tell you, but I wasn’t sure how because I didn’t think… Just, I’m glad that I can tell you now.”

“I don’t know what to say,” Baekhyun confesses.

“Do you see, Baekhyun?” Jongdae reaches for his hand across the table. “It’s okay. I know it must have been hard for you to tell me due to a lot of circumstances, but you’re not alone in this.”

“I…” Baekhyun is still at a loss for words as he looks between Jongdae and Kyungsoo. Being so focused on himself, he didn’t realize that there could be other people around him who were going through something similar as he was. “For the record,” he speaks when he finds his voice, “I was going to tell you eventually, when I felt that I was comfortable enough.” He takes a deep breath and looks at Kyungsoo then Jongdae. “But thank you,” he adds gratefully, “for telling me and for introducing Kyungsoo to me.” He smiles and Kyungsoo grins back at him.

“I hope you and Joonmyun are okay,” Jongdae says.

“Yeah,” Baekhyun assures him distractedly.

Baekhyun hasn’t really known anyone personally who had the same struggles as him. He’s always grown up in a straight and normal environment, with girl friends who liked boys and guy friends who liked girls. It was worrying learning that he was gay and having to go through it alone was terrifying. Knowing that Jongdae, a friend of his, knows how he feels really makes him feel so much lighter.

Jongdae and Kyungsoo clearly have it bad for each other. They’re not afraid to show affection even when they’re in public. Jongdae smiles at Kyungsoo like he’s the sun, while Kyungsoo keeps on fussing over Jongdae and indulging all the little touches here and there. Jongdae grins at Baekhyun when he catches him watching and he smiles back. Baekhyun’s thoughts go to Joonmyun. He wonders when he’d be able to be as comfortable being seen with him in public.


 

÷





It’s the last day of, what Baekhyun calls, Joonmyun’s painting. It’s the first thing that’s said to him by one of the staff members as he enters the museum. It still looks as imposing as the first time, but when he looks at it, he sees it in a different light. Art to him is subjective and people can see it in ways that are affected by their personal experiences. Baekhyun has definitely become more open since the last time he was here.

Voices from the hallway make Baekhyun turn away from the painting. Jongin is shaking hands with someone, who heads towards the exit afterwards. Jongin smiles when he sees Baekhyun. Jongin is tall, handsomely tan, and sculpted like a god. Joonmyun sometimes teases him, calling him Adonis, and it has caught on with Baekhyun. He doesn’t think it wrong anyway.

“Hey!” Jongin greets him. “What are you doing here? Are you looking for Joonmyun?”

“Yeah,” Baekhyun says with a small smile that he hopes isn’t too uncomfortable. He’d known that it would be tricky but this is something he’s decided to do. There’s no backing out now. It’s not like he hasn’t visited Joonmyun in the office before anyway. “Is he around? Or is he in a meeting?”

“He’s in the office,” Jongin tells him, shaking his head. He leads Baekhyun towards the offices. “We’re only slightly busy because of the transfer of the painting, as well as some field trips, but other than that there’s not much work.”

Baekhyun just smiles because Joonmyun is actually a lot more stressed than he lets on. He’s had to discuss the transfer of the painting to several people in the past week, as well as writing out a lot of the paperwork to make sure that all goes well. They enter the office and Baekhyun follows Jongin towards Joonmyun’s desk. There aren’t a lot of people around, just another one of the staff, who seems to be filing a lot of documents.

“Look who’s here,” Jongin announces their arrival.

Joonmyun looks up from the paperwork on his desk and peers at them through black circular frames that Baekhyun has only seen Joonmyun wear once at home. Baekhyun smiles and waves shyly when Joonmyun’s eyes widen in surprise.

“Hi,” Baekhyun says quietly, suddenly a lot more self-conscious. He may have visited before but he has never come without notice. Now he wonders if maybe he should have. Surprises aren’t always a good thing. “I, uh brought you lunch.” He diffidently holds up a black lunch box and Jongin’s eyebrows shoot up.

“That’s sweet,” Jongin comments and Baekhyun blushes against his will. Maybe he shouldn’t have done this at all.

But then Joonmyun is standing up and taking the lunch box, carefully shuffling his work out of the way. He’s opening the lunch box and taking out the food when Jongin takes his leave, a smirk on his face.

“I’m sorry,” Baekhyun quietly tells Joonmyun as soon as Jongin was gone. “I should have told you I was coming. I just thought that since you’re so busy that I could—” He cuts himself off with a worried pout. “Do you think he…?” he starts but shakes the thought away. It doesn’t matter if Jongin thinks something of the fact that he brought Joonmyun lunch. It doesn’t matter. He takes a deep breath and looks at Joonmyun, who’s watching him.

“Did you make this?” Joonmyun asks, looking down at the Vietnamese rolls with a fond smile.

“Yes?” Baekhyun uncertainly answers as Joonmyun takes a bite. “Do you like it?”

Joonmyun swallows and then takes another bite before grinning at Baekhyun. “You’ve been keeping something from me,” he tells him with a light chuckle.

“I may have been learning how to make food from my friends,” Baekhyun admits with relief when it’s obvious that Joonmyun isn’t going to throw up any time soon. He has been pestering Lu Han to help him with learning how to cook. Lu Han was so appalled at his skills that he started Baekhyun off with handling things like salads and wrapped food before anything else. It took Baekhyun around ten tries to get his Vietnamese roll looking like a Vietnamese roll. “I’m happy to know that you’re not dying,” he adds.

Joonmyun laughs and pulls Baekhyun towards him. “Thank you,” he sincerely states. “I know this isn’t easy for you.” He presses his lips against Baekhyun’s forehead. “Thank you.”

“Stop,” Baekhyun swats him, feeling embarrassed. “This isn’t a big deal. Go and eat.” He shoos him back to his seat so he can finish his food. “You’re going to make my forehead smell like chicken,” he continues, rubbing his fingers against his forehead but fighting back a smile.

Joonmyun does as he’s told and eats while working at the same time. Baekhyun, meanwhile, just looks through the books on the shelves. Pretty much all of them is about art, which makes sense since Joonmyun works in a museum. Baekhyun wonders if he can borrow one just for some leisure reading.

“What time are you off from work today?” Joonmyun asks, taking his glasses off. Baekhyun bites his lip because he thinks he really likes Joonmyun wearing glasses.

“I can leave at around six probably,” Baekhyun answers. “Why?”

Joonmyun finishes signing some documents before looking up. “Do you want me to pick you up?” he asks. “We could buy some take-out and eat it at your place.”

They don’t do this often, picking each other up to go to the other’s apartment to eat. Normally, it’s Baekhyun who just shows up at Joonmyun’s place or invites him to come over. Now that he thinks about it, they haven’t even really gone out for dinner or for any proper meal before. Baekhyun’s pretty sure that’s his fault.

“How about we go out to dinner?” Baekhyun suggests nonchalantly, picking at his fingers. “There’s that new French restaurant in town. You like French food, don’t you?”

“Are you sure?” Joonmyun asks, mouth hanging open. “We don’t have to.”

“Yes,” Baekhyun says, turning to look at the books again.

“Baekhyun,” Joonmyun calls and only proceeds when Baekhyun looks at him. “Are you sure?” he repeats.

This is one of those turning points, he supposes. He’s made changes all around, more for himself, to be more comfortable with who he is than anything else, but it’s affected his relationship with Joonmyun, too. They’re happier together and Baekhyun is definitely glad that they didn’t break-up. But they haven’t really progressed from hiding their relationship in public, although Baekhyun has been less shy about showing his affection.

Baekhyun takes a deep breath and nods. “Yes,” he confirms. “Yes, I’m sure.”


 

÷





Baekhyun dumps another bag of chips in the cart, only to be taken out moments later by Joonmyun. He peruses the shelves and when he sees another thing that he likes, which is basically categorized under junk food, he picks it up and puts it in. Joonmyun stares at it for a second before taking it out.

“Baekhyun, I don’t need any of those,” Joonmyun reminds him as Baekhyun grabs another bag of Cheetos.

“Yes, you do,” Baekhyun interjects. “Everyone needs to have a bag of Cheetos in their home. Besides, you need something to munch on when you watch DVDs.” He smiles winningly at Joonmyun and he immediately knows he’s won when Joonmyun just sighs and continues pushing the cart.

“We’re supposed to be buying stuff you need because you said you wanted to cook for dinner,” Joonmyun reminds him with a small smile on his face. “I don’t think Cheetos is a requirement.”

“Wine is,” Baekhyun tells him with a grin as he takes a bottle of red wine and brandishes it towards him. “I promise it will be good,” he tells him with the sincerest hope that it will be. He runs through everything he needs and checks the cart. They’re all set.

“Just to be clear,” Joonmyun responds as he pushes the cart and follows Baekhyun down the aisle. “Are we burning your kitchen down or mine?”

“No one’s kitchen is going to get burned,” Baekhyun states, affronted, as he grabs a pack of marshmallows and a box of hot chocolate.

Baekhyun laughs as Joonmyun continues staring at him questioningly knowing that it’s all good. Joonmyun likes it when Baekhyun cooks for him, despite all the mishaps and bitter tastes that he’s suffered. Baekhyun supposes it all comes with the fact that Baekhyun is finally acting like a real boyfriend to him. He’s now getting a taste of what it’s like to actually be going out with Byun Baekhyun, and it’s quite a ride. He’s about to assure Joonmyun that everything’s going to be okay when his phone rings.

“Taeyeon,” he answers the call the moment he sees that it’s her. “Hey!” Joonmyun walks ahead of him and he follows him to the next aisle, comprising of coffee and tea. “I’m out,” he tells her. “Yes, with Joonmyun.” Joonmyun looks up and smiles at him. “We’re picking up some things at the grocery,” he replies. He stops in his tracks and looks at Joonmyun, whose brows are furrowed as he decides between chamomile and lavender tea. “Uh yeah, sure. Okay, see you.”

Joonmyun turns to him at this. “Are you meeting Taeyeon?” he asks, looking like he’s decided on getting lavender.

“Uh, yes,” Baekhyun says. “She’s, well…” He chuckles. “We’re meeting her.”

“Oh,” Joonmyun responds. “Does she know…?”

“Yes, of course,” Baekhyun answers with a smile. He grabs the chamomile tea and puts it in the cart, which he starts pushing towards the checkout counter himself. “I hope it’s okay with you that we’re meeting her suddenly.”

“Well I’m always glad to meet your friends,” Joonmyun assures him. “As long as you’re comfortable with it.”

Baekhyun enjoys being with Joonmyun like this. He’s happy when they go out of the confines of their apartments. It really isn’t as bad as Baekhyun thought it would be. Granted that they aren’t very touchy when they’re outside, but it’s nice to be comfortable to be seen with Joonmyun in public. He loves it when they’re together no matter where they are.

Boldly, he reaches out and squeezes Joonmyun’s hand. Joonmyun almost forgets to squeeze back in shock.

“Of course I am,” Baekhyun promises him. “I’m more than comfortable with it.” And for the first time, he isn’t lying.


 

÷





It’s another one of those nights where friends invite to drink out and Baekhyun welcomes the prospect. With work and spending time with Joonmyun, he really hasn’t been able to go out with them as much and he knows he’s going to get some harsh questioning when he arrives.

He follows Soojung out of the cab and freezes when he sees where they are. It’s not the same bar, but it is a bar and Baekhyun has been very diligent in not going into one ever since. Soojung stops at the front of the steps and crosses her arms.

“What are you doing?” she calls. “We’re late. They’re waiting for us.” She waves at him to follow after her before going inside.

The guilt of what he’d done continues to eat away at him. He hasn’t once forgotten about it. It continues to serve as a reminder of what he had done and how he had almost lost something good in his life, one that seems to be improving. In a way, it also makes him grateful because without it, he wouldn’t have gone forward and tried to fix things with Joonmyun.

He’s brought into a headlock the moment he walks into their private room. The rest of the group laughs as Amber pulls him towards the sofa, not easing up on him for a second.

“Where have you been?” Amber demands when she finally deems it fit for him to breathe.

“What do you mean?” Baekhyun tries to play innocent, smiling at Taeyeon when she hands him a drink.

“We haven’t seen you in a while,” Amber complains. “You’ve been too busy.”

“Taeyeon and Lu Han have seen me,” Baekhyun corrects her, “and I never really desire to see Soojung and Taemin in any way so…” Soojung slaps him and then takes his drink away from him to have it for herself. “Maybe you’re the one who has been too busy,” he maintains, while glaring at Soojung.

Amber grumbles, finishing the rest of her beer in one go. “If I didn’t know any better, I would think you were seeing someone,” she says. “People only ever disappear on their friends when there’s romance in the air.”

“Baekhyun’s been learning how to cook,” Lu Han enlightens everyone before Baekhyun can even open his mouth.

Everyone whips their attention towards Baekhyun. This is definitely new and interesting information for all of them because Baekhyun’s a disaster in the kitchen. They have all been a witness to this at some point in their lives. It’s like a rite of passage. He squirms under their gazes and knows that this isn’t something he can get out of easily. Taeyeon merely takes a sip of her drink to hide her smile when he turns to her for help.

“What do you mean, learning how to cook?” Soojung demands from Lu Han.

“As in he’s been coming to the restaurant so I could teach him,” Lu Han relay and Baekhyun shoots him a betrayed glare. “Of course I wouldn’t invite him at home in case he burned anything, but surprisingly he hasn’t burned a single thing.” He pauses thoughtfully. “Except for that time when he blew up a pot.”

“What’s up, man?” Taemin nudges him. “Are you seeing anyone? The last time you made this much of an effort was when you were trying to woo Taeyeon?” He glances at her before looking back at him.

“That’s not the same thing,” Baekhyun corrects him. “I tried to bake a cake for her. Of course that didn’t work out so well.”

“It was very endearing of course,” Taeyeon pipes in with a twinkle in her eye. “If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have agreed to go out with him.”

“The cake was black,” Soojung reminds her, wrinkling her nose.

The cake was black. When Baekhyun had decided that he liked Taeyeon as more than a friend and wanted to show her how he felt, he did everything he could think of so that she would agree to go out with him even just once. One of those things was baking a cake for her. He didn’t really want anyone else to know what he was doing so he didn’t ask anyone for help. It was supposed to be a Banoffee cake, and when Baekhyun had followed all instructions and took it out from the oven, he thought it looked close enough with the picture. He thinks he was just really lucky that Taeyeon was really nice.

“Maybe the fact that she was your best friend also helped,” Lu Han snickered.

“No,” Taeyeon says, shaking her head. “When Baekhyun likes someone, he goes all out.” She smiles fondly at Baekhyun, who blushes.

“So who is the lucky girl that’s enduring all your cooking?” Taemin teases. “Will we ever get to meet her?”

Taeyeon is looking at Baekhyun, obviously wondering as well. Baekhyun knows that his friends will accept him no matter whom he decides to date. He’s always known that it won’t matter to them if he introduces a guy instead of a girl. Maybe he will bring Joonmyun along next time.

“I didn’t say I was seeing anyone,” Baekhyun says, chuckling. He meets Taeyeon’s eyes. “But I don’t think I’d be able to keep it from you guys for long if I was. Maybe when Soojung and Taemin finally get engaged,” he jokes.

Soojung scoffs. “Yeah right. Well I suppose we will all grow old single then.”

The rest start ragging on Taemin for still not proposing to Soojung and Baekhyun sighs in relief. Next time, he thinks. Next time he’ll bring Joonmyun along.



 

÷





“Baekhyun, where are we going?” Joonmyun laughs as Baekhyun just pulls him when they get out of the car.

“You’ll see,” Baekhyun mysteriously replies, wiggling his eyebrows up and down. He’d picked Joonmyun up at home that evening, told him to get dressed because they were going out.

“What are all the blankets and snacks for?” Joonmyun continues to ask question, glancing at the big bag that Baekhyun has hanging on his shoulder. “Are we having a picnic? It’s almost eight o’clock—”

Baekhyun hushes him when they enter the park gates and hands two strips of what looks like tickets to the one standing behind a podium. When they enter, that’s when Joonmyun sees people upon people stretched on the grass on their blankets. A couple of feet away, a huge screen is showing previews in black and white.

“We’re late,” Baekhyun sighs, sounding like he’s pouting when they situate themselves beside a tree. He puts their blanket in place and gestures at Joonmyun to sit before him.

“Baekhyun,” Joonmyun speaks up.

“I’m sure we can still catch up with the story if we pay attention,” Baekhyun hurriedly tells him as he leans his back on the tree and tries to get comfortable. But Joonmyun isn’t even looking at the screen. “What?” He looks worriedly at his boyfriend. “You don’t like it? We could always just go somewhere else.”

This is another one of those things. Baekhyun had thought long and hard about taking Joonmyun out in public. Sure, they’d gone to dinner together several times and went to the grocery and the mall. Sometimes they even held hands. But there was just something really intimate about going out to watch a movie together. It is one of those things that couples do and Baekhyun realized he wanted to have that with Joonmyun, too. Of course it had to be more special if he wanted it to mean something. So why not the outdoor theatre at the park? He was almost sure that Joonmyun would like it. Joonmyun liked movies and he had this old, caring soul, and Baekhyun figured this was right up his alley.

“I want to kiss you so badly,” is what Joonmyun says that has Baekhyun stunned. “I… this is really special, Baek. I don’t know how I can top this or even—”

Baekhyun reaches for his hand and squeezes it. “You don’t have to do anything,” he reassures him. He then shifts so that he could snuggle to him. “Now, pay attention to the movie.”

“Okay,” Joonmyun chuckles, wrapping his arm around him.

Baekhyun leans closer to him so he can whisper in his ear. “Later, you can kiss me.”

And Joonmyun does. When the credits are rolling and several people have started packing up and are leaving, Joonmyun leans towards him and captures his lips in a searing kiss. Baekhyun isn’t all prepared for it, even though he was sort of anticipating it the whole evening. He sees the crowd moving around them, some glancing their way, snickering, giggling, catcalling, so he squeezes his eyes shut to forget all that. They aren’t important. Baekhyun starts moving his lips against Joonmyun’s and, eventually, everything else fades away.


 

÷





Baekhyun gets into the habit of things. In the beginning, the effort to be with Joonmyun was a struggle. He constantly needed to remind himself that this wasn’t only going to make Joonmyun happy, this was going to make him happy as well, and that if he wanted to be with Joonmyun, which he did, he needed to do this for the both of them. Now, however, things are so much easier.

Coming out to Jongdae (and Kyungsoo) and then Jongin, although Baekhyun suspected that he’s known all along because Joonmyun probably told him, certainly helped. Not having to keep things to himself all the time, not having to suppress who he is so much, made Baekhyun breathe. It made him less worried about what other people might think and made him think more about his own happiness. There is always that sense of responsibility in him, wherein he always cared whether he was going to hurt someone in the process, and imbibed this so much that he stopped caring whether he was hurting himself.

He likes who he is now. He is less serious, less uptight, much less of an ass. Joonmyun’s patience and care for him made him want to be better and he’s glad that it seems to be paying off. He and Joonmyun have never had it this good before. Everything just seems to be perfect.

“Baekhyun, we’re going to be late,” Joonmyun calls from the foyer.

Baekhyun makes a face at his reflection and walks out of the room, still fumbling with his bowtie. “I don’t understand why I have to wear a bowtie while you’re wearing a tie,” he grumbles. “I look like a gift.”

“You are a gift,” Joonmyun says, laughing, as he fixes Baekhyun’s bowtie for him. “A very handsome one.”

“I’m going to strangle Soojung when we get there,” Baekhyun declares. “I’m pretty sure this was her idea. Taemin would never think of this. That guy’s a slob at heart.”

“Unless he isn’t,” Joonmyun gently counters him. He pats Baekhyun’s neck when he’s done. “There, all pretty.”

“You look good,” Baekhyun grudgingly appreciates.

Joonmyun chuckles, patting his tie and making sure it’s straight. “I have to be,” he tells him. “I’m meeting your friends.”

“Are you nervous?” Baekhyun peers at him curiously and his eyes widen when he realizes that Joonmyun is. “There’s nothing to be nervous about. These are my friends. I’ve known them forever and they’re going to like you.”

Joonmyun merely smiles and presses a quick kiss to Baekhyun’s lips. “We’re going to be late,” is all he says.

Baekhyun tries to loosen his bowtie a bit as they leave his apartment. “I really am going to wring Soojung’s neck when I see her,” he mutters. “Seriously, why did she plan this to be so formal?”

When they get to upscale part of town and into one of the three star hotels, Baekhyun is still fussing over his bowtie, his other hand in Joonmyun’s, when he feels Joonmyun freeze beside him.

“Baek, didn’t Taeyeon say Star?” Joonmyun calmly asks.

“Yeah,” Baekhyun confirms, finally letting his bowtie be and looking up. “Why?”

“Well, there is no other room in this hotel called Star, except for the ballroom on the second floor,” Joonmyun tells him, pointing at the information board where it says Jung Soojung and Lee Taemin’s Engagement Party – Star Ballroom.

It isn’t a simple engagement party like Soojung had screamed at him over the phone the other day. After she had happily regaled Baekhyun of her tale of how Taemin had finally proposed, she told him that he’d better be present at their simple engagement party and that he could bring a date if he wanted (although he knew she just wanted him to bring that girl he’s been cooking for). Baekhyun had thought it was the perfect time for him to bring Joonmyun along and introduce him to his friends; killing two birds with one stone. Except this party would be like killing a thousand birds with one stone.

Soojung’s and Taemin’s families are both present, along with their other friends from university. Baekhyun suddenly has this urge to run away.

“I’m going to kill Soojung,” Baekhyun proclaims.

“We don’t have to do this,” Joonmyun says, turning to him, playing with the cuff of his suit. “I can leave and… we can always do this some other time.”

Baekhyun looks at Joonmyun and sees how, in just one instance, they are reverting back to how they used to be. He glances at the ballroom, at the people in beautiful suits and gowns, and wonders why he cares so much about what they think, when the most important person in his life’s thoughts should be the one that matters the most.

He grabs Joonmyun’s hand and squeezes it. “No,” he firmly states. “You’re not going anywhere. We’re not going anywhere.”

Amber and Lu Han are standing by the bar, chatting animatedly, something that may be a result of alcohol, and Baekhyun walks over to them, Joonmyun in tow.

“Baekhyun!” Amber and Lu Han chorus when they see him.

“You made it,” Amber says, pleased. Then he sees Joonmyun, her eyes flitting towards their clasped hands before looking back up. “And who is this?”

“This is Joonmyun,” Baekhyun says, hardly breathing, as he glances at Lu Han as well. He pauses for a second as he looks at Joonmyun standing so handsomely beside him. “He’s liked everything I’ve cooked for him so far.”

A bit of silence follows the revelation, where Amber smiles in surprise and Lu Han lifts an eyebrow up interestedly, before the normal chaos that is his friends ensues.

“You must be really nice for you to like everything he’s made for you,” Amber remarks with a laugh, while Lu Han interjects that he’s been a very good teacher so it’s not so surprising.

“Lu Han is a chef, while Amber is a composer,” Baekhyun introduces them, rolling his eyes when Amber puts an arm around Joonmyun to interrogate him. “They’re horrible people. You should keep you guard up.”

“Hey,” Lu Han defends himself and Amber. “We’re incredibly nice people. Who would be patient enough to get you through making chicken marsala?”

Lu Han then starts interviewing Joonmyun about how Baekhyun’s cooking tasted, while Amber asked completely embarrassing questions about his personal life. Joonmyun is smiling, though, so Baekhyun takes it as a good sign.

Soojung and Taemin are quite possibly Baekhyun’s worst friends. Soojung screams while Taemin yells at the news. Soojung hugs Joonmyun and tells him how happy she is that she’s making Baekhyun happy. She then recounts the changes she’s seen in the past months and says that it’s probably all because of him, making Joonmyun blush in delight. Taemin claps Baekhyun on the back, demanding why it’s taken him so long to introduce Joonmyun to them.

“Does it matter?” Baekhyun answers, smiling at Joonmyun. “I’m introducing him to you now.”

Later in the evening, Taeyeon asks Joonmyun to dance, not caring how weird it is that she was asking Baekhyun’s current boyfriend; his ex-girlfriend and his boyfriend are going to be dancing together. Baekhyun stands on the sidelines, grinning as Taeyeon and Joonmyun talk and laugh together. It’s nice seeing them getting along, two of the most important people in his life.

“Seems like a really great guy,” Soojung sidles up to him, wine glass in hand. She’s very pretty in her silver strapless dress that shimmers every time the light shines on it. “Can’t believe you’ve never introduced him before. You’ve been with him for five months already.”

“Yeah I know. There were just some things that I had to deal with,” Baekhyun admits. “Sorry to spring it on you guys so suddenly, and on your engagement party, too.” He suddenly realizes what he’d done.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Soojung dismisses his apology. She bites her lower lip. “Is this why you were weird around Taeyeon for a while?”

“It was just hard,” Baekhyun explains, “when you’ve had this stable thing only to have it crumble when you realize that you’re different, that you aren’t who you thought you were. I loved Taeyeon to the point where I thought I was going to marry her. But then all of a sudden that love changed and I didn’t know how or when it started. I knew then that I couldn’t lead her on, I couldn’t do that to her, so I broke up with her.”

“You were just being honest with yourself,” Soojung says.

“It wasn’t easy,” Baekhyun confesses. “When you said that you saw disappointment when I looked at Taeyeon… I felt disappointed. In myself. Because I had that normal life and I threw it away. It was hard and I really struggled. That’s why it took me so long to introduce Joonmyun to you guys. It wasn’t so much that I thought you guys would be appalled; it was more of because of my issues with myself.”

“I really have never seen you so happy before,” Soojung repeats with a smile. “Not even when you were with Taeyeon, and I know how happy you were with her.”

Baekhyun looks to the dance floor. Joonmyun is twirling Taeyeon around, both laughing and shining so brightly. Joonmyun catches his eyes and winks.

“I am very happy,” Baekhyun acknowledges.

When Joonmyun and Taeyeon dance to their side of the ballroom, Taeyeon stage whispers, “He dances well, Baek. This one’s a keeper.”

As Joonmyun smiles at him like he’s the sun, Baekhyun can’t help but agree.


 

÷





They clearly drank too much. They’ve been standing outside Baekhyun’s apartment for ten minutes and yet they still haven’t managed to get inside. Baekhyun keeps on giggling, while Joonmyun tries very, very hard to slot the key into the lock, which, for some reason, has become really hard to do. Baekhyun snatches the key from him and unlocks the door in only four tries. He pushes Joonmyun, who stumbles, in and follows after him.

The first thing Baekhyun does is struggle with taking his bowtie off. “I am never wearing anything like this again,” he promises, complete with violent tugging that almost chokes him.

“Let me,” Joonmyun slurs, slapping Baekhyun’s hand away.

Joonmyun really is handsome. Baekhyun has always known this. He just has that kind of face that makes you do a double take and think wow. But Joonmyun isn’t just handsome because of his face. Joonmyun is just handsome overall and Baekhyun wonders, yet again, how he’s managed to snag him.

“Thank you for tonight,” Baekhyun suddenly breaks the silence.

“What?” Joonmyun’s hands still their movement. He looks confused.

“You went with me to the Soojung and Taemin’s engagement party, met my friends and liked them,” Baekhyun elaborates. “It really means a lot to me.”

Joonmyun half chuckles, half giggles. “Baekhyun, I should be the one thanking you,” he insists. “You invited me and introduced me to your friends. I hope they liked me.”

“They do,” Baekhyun replies in a heartbeat. “They would be crazy not to.”

Joonmyun cups Baekhyun’s face. “I am so proud of you,” he declares. “These past few months… everything has been so amazing. You’ve been so amazing. Thank you for introducing me to your friends and for trusting me.” He kisses Baekhyun long and hard. “I love you.”

Joonmyun pulls away but Baekhyun slams right back into him, grabbing the back of his neck and kissing him harder. Joonmyun always says things like this, things that Baekhyun never knows how to respond, so instead he shows him how much he cares, how happy he is.

Baekhyun’s hands wander down Joonmyun’s torso, surprisingly unknotting his tie and taking it off without a hitch, before unbuttoning his shirt. He’s always loved Joonmyun all dressed up for his events at work or anywhere else. It made him feel like the luckiest guy when he sees how attractive his boyfriend is. But he also loves it when Joonmyun is naked, hot and hard, for him.

They manage to stumble into the bedroom. By then, their coats and shirts are both lying on the floor somewhere in the apartment, their pants unzipped. Baekhyun goes down on the floor, tugging Joonmyun’s pants down with him. Joonmyun’s already hard in his boxers and he feels him hardening even more when Baekhyun presses his face against it and nuzzles his crotch.

“Baek,” Joonmyun groans when Baekhyun opens his mouth to suck on his cock through his boxer briefs. “Please.”

Baekhyun looks up. “What do you want, Joonmyun?” he asks huskily, his hand pulling down his boxers.

Joonmyun chokes. “You,” he cries out when Baekhyun licks the pre-come off the tip. “You—I want you.”

Baekhyun gets up with some difficulty and chucks his own briefs off. Pushing Joonmyun on the bed, he scrambles to the side table and takes out a white tube from the drawer. When he turns his attention back to his boyfriend, Joonmyun’s eyes are dark with want as he watches and waits for him.

Baekhyun takes his time prepping Joonmyun, coating his fingers with as much lube as possible. They aren’t new to this, but Baekhyun can’t stomach even just the thought of hurting Joonmyun. So he waits until Joonmyun’s fully comfortable with three of his fingers inside. Joonmyun keeps on moaning, making Baekhyun want to just take him, but he bides his time because he wants it to be good for Joonmyun, who’s been so good to him.

“Stop.” Joonmyun grabs Baekhyun’s wrist and Baekhyun freezes. “Just… I want you in me, Baek,” he clarifies. “Now.”

Baekhyun takes his fingers out and hastily wipes them on the sheets. He coats his cock with lube, hissing at the sensation, and Joonmyun scrambles to get on all fours to be ready, the way they’ve done it in the past, but Baekhyun stops him.

“I want to see you,” Baekhyun says. “I want to see your face.”

Joonmyun lies back down and meets Baekhyun’s eyes as he slowly sheathes himself with Joonmyun’s heat. Joonmyun hands grip Baekhyun’s hips, hard, and he’s so tight and hot that Baekhyun groans, forcing himself to stop from slamming into him again and again.

“I’m fine,” Joonmyun assures him when Baekhyun still hasn’t moved.

Baekhyun almost pulls out and then slams into him, again and again, Joonmyun lifting his legs to rest on Baekhyun’s shoulders.

His eyes stay open, watching as Joonmyun gasps and moans and screams for him, and he can’t help but want to do it over and over again. They have had sex before and every time is different, but it hasn’t been like this before. Every expression, every sound that comes out of Joonmyun’s mouth just spurs Baekhyun into more action so that he can see more and hear more. He wants Joonmyun to feel good. He wants him to be happy.

Baekhyun wants Joonmyun to be happy.

Baekhyun leans forward at this realization and captures Joonmyun’s moans into his mouth. He’s not sure how he’s managed to do it but he thinks Joonmyun is happy with him. Somehow, despite everything, Joonmyun has ended up happy in their relationship, and Baekhyun is happy. Now all he wants is to continue doing it. Baekhyun pushes harder and faster and it’s not long after when Joonmyun comes. Joonmyun clenches around him unexpectedly, making Baekhyun cry out and have his own release.

They lie beside each other, spent but blissful. Joonmyun wraps an arm around Baekhyun, pulling him close to plant a kiss on his forehead.

“I love you,” Joonmyun whispers and then he’s getting up to get a towel and clean the two of them off.

Later, when Joonmyun is fast asleep, Baekhyun snuggles closer to Joonmyun and whispers I love you right to Joonmyun’s heart.


 

÷





“Baekhyun,” Joonmyun calls from the bedroom. “Your phone is ringing again.”

Baekhyun pauses in brushing his teeth to yell, “I’ll be right out.” It’s probably a client. There have been some problems with one of the clients that he has been handling and he, along with some account executives have been on top of it for the past two weeks. He finishes brushing his teeth and walks out of the bathroom with only a towel around his waist.

Joonmyun is already dressed. He’s standing in front of the floor-length mirror, buttoning up his white long-sleeved polo shirt. “Must be a big client,” he comments, nodding towards Baekhyun’s phone on the bedside table.

His phone has been ringing off the hook, all the time, several of which he doesn’t even answer anymore because he already knows what’s going to be on the other end of the line. Baekhyun waves at it dismissively.

“It is a big client,” Baekhyun tells him, putting on his underwear before pulling out a pair of shirt and slacks, along with a coat. “Pretty demanding, too. Nothing that can’t be fixed, though.” He puts on his slacks, followed by his shirt, walking over to Joonmyun when he starts buttoning it up. “How does your week look like?”

“Have several meetings,” Joonmyun says, stepping aside to share the mirror with Baekhyun. “We’re already looking into which exhibits we want to bring in next year, a bit of some early planning.” He faces his boyfriend to help him fix his collar. “The day hasn’t even started and you already look stressed,” he teases him lightly.

Baekhyun sighs. If he was to be really honest, he really is stressed about his work at the moment. Someone screwed something up and now everyone’s just scrambling to fix things. “The higher ups are being really hard on us at the moment,” Baekhyun explains. “So it really has been stressful.”

“It’s going to be fine,” Joonmyun assures him, although he has no idea how bad things are. He kisses the tip of his nose. “You’re going home to your apartment tonight, I assume?”

“Yeah,” Baekhyun says, making a face. “I really have a lot of paperwork to catch up on and I don’t want to make a mess here.”

“I can come over and keep you company,” Joonmyun suggests, smiling.

Joonmyun and Baekhyun have maintained separate apartments because Baekhyun doesn’t think he’s ready for that step. Although, there have been days when one of the apartments barely gets used because sometimes Baekhyun would sleep over Joonmyun’s for a week or Joonmyun would stay in Baekhyun’s for several days. Still, Baekhyun thinks that it’s still nice that they have their own personal space.

“I’m going to be a bore,” Baekhyun warns him, not averse to the prospect of having Joonmyun around for a short snuggle or even a quick romp in the sheets.

“I know how to keep myself busy,” Joonmyun assures him. “I’ll bring over some work that way we can motivate each other.”

“What a fun couple we make,” Baekhyun remarks. Joonmyun laughs.

When Baekhyun’s tie is all fixed and his coat is put on, he walks to the bedside table to get his wallet and phone. He has two missed calls from the same unknown number. He frowns as he puts it in his pocket. That number has been calling him for quite some time now and it always so happens that Baekhyun misses it. It’s just probably just someone in the office.

“See you later?” Baekhyun announces his leaving, reaching for Joonmyun.

“Yeah,” Joonmyun confirms, allowing himself to be pulled close. “I’ll bring dinner.”

“I knew there was a reason I kept you around,” Baekhyun chuckles, kissing him. Joonmyun scoffs, making him laugh. “See you later.”

Baekhyun lets him out after grabbing a bagel from the kitchen. There’s a call from Jongdae as soon as he gets into his car and he puts in on speaker as he drives to work. Jongdae keeps him updated on all that’s apparently been discussed overnight and Baekhyun assures him that he’s on his way. He gets to work in no time and immediately dives into helping fix whatever the mess is.

Right in the middle of a phone call, his secretary comes in and places a note on his desk: You have a visitor in the lobby, says it’s important, but doesn’t want to come up. Baekhyun frowns at the note and stares at it after the call has ended. He looks at all his work and decides that he could use a break. Telling his secretary that he’s going to be lobby, he grabs his coat and heads for the elevators.

There are certain things in people’s lives that they never want to relive, certain things they never want to hear of and see again. Everyone wants to move on and look on into a future that’s more positive and free from the points in their lives where they think they’ve made mistakes.

This is one of those moments.

“You’re a hard man to grab a hold of, Byun Baekhyun.”

Baekhyun is unable to move. “What—what are you doing here? How did you…? What are you doing here?”

“Lee Soyul,” she introduces herself, offering to shake his hand. He takes it blindly. “I figured it wouldn’t be fair of me not to tell you my name.”

It’s her. The girl at the bar. The one night stand, the mistake that he should never have committed. She’s standing in the lobby of his work place, looking like she could be working there, too. Baekhyun seriously hopes that she isn’t.

“Listen, I know you would rather not ever talk to me again,” Soyul starts, “but are you free for coffee right now? There’s something I need to talk to you about.”


 

÷





Baekhyun feels like he’s seeing his whole life crumble before his eyes. That life that he’s always wanted and now has suddenly feels like just a dream that’s being snatched away from him.

Soyul is pregnant. And it’s Baekhyun’s baby.

They had gotten a paternity test. Soyul wanted to be truthful and fair to Baekhyun, although she had told him that she hasn’t slept with anyone else. There is no doubt that Baekhyun had fathered a child. Baekhyun is going to be a father.

He buries his face in his hands. His office door is locked and he had told his secretary that no calls should be put through and that no one is to disturb him. There isn’t anything else that Baekhyun can deal with at the moment. How can he think of his work when his life is falling apart? How could this happen? How could he have done this?

Baekhyun hasn’t told anyone. He hasn’t even really processed it. How can he burden another person with this? His thoughts flit to Joonmyun and he flinches. Joonmyun, his Joonmyun… he’s going to be distraught when he finds out. This is exactly the kind of thing Baekhyun would do. It’s so typical that he would end up screwing things up. Here he is a gay man, in love, and yet he’s going to be a father, getting a girl he doesn’t even know pregnant.

Soyul has given him time to think, time to process the events that had transpired and how he was going to deal with it and be ready. Baekhyun doubts that he will ever be ready.

The knock on his door startles him. He looks up when his secretary peeks in, looking apologetic.

“You have a meeting in five minutes. They’re assembling in the conference room,” she reminds him before closing the door to let him get ready.

Baekhyun straightens up and stares at his desk; mahogany and sturdy. He is barely strong enough to handle his personal issues, only making it through because of the faith of those around him. He isn’t sure how to be responsible for someone else again so soon after he’s only learned how.

He takes a deep breath and gets up. Life has never stopped for him before. He doesn’t think it will start now. As Baekhyun walks towards the conference room, he wonders how long he can keep this to himself without breaking down.


 

÷





“You’ve been awfully subdued these days,” Taeyeon says conversationally as she follows Baekhyun out of the building, carrying her lesson plans and books. “What’s up?”

“Hmm?” Baekhyun distractedly responds. There’s a guy holding a kid up on his shoulders on the sidewalk, leading up to the school. The little boy keeps on laughing and calling his dad’s name while pointing at the clouds above. He can’t imagine himself having a kid who will—

“Baekhyun!” Taeyeon calls his name.

Baekhyun whips around, swerving just in time before he hits a signpost. “What?”

Taeyeon frowns, shifting her stuff to her other arm before putting a hand on his elbow. She looks to the left then to the right before pulling him to cross the street. They get to Baekhyun’s car. He opens it and she puts her things inside, but stops him when he starts to get in.

“What is going on with you?” she asks pointedly, holding both of his shoulders firmly.

“Nothing,” Baekhyun defensively responds. Taeyeon raises an eyebrow and he chuckles. “Nothing is going on,” he assures her. “I’m just caught up with work. There are some things going on, a pretty big mess, and it’s just all I think about these days.” He opens the door for Taeyeon and ushers her inside before getting into the driver’s side.

“Joonmyun did mention something about you being stressed about your job,” Taeyeon replies. “I hope it’s nothing too serious.”

“You and Joonmyun…” Baekhyun pauses as he starts the car and looks at his best friend. “Since when are you guys friends?”

“He’s your boyfriend, Baekhyun,” Taeyeon tells him in disbelief. “Of course we’re friends.”

Baekhyun stops to think about this development. Of course Taeyeon and Joonmyun are friends. They’re two of the most important people in his life. It only makes sense for the two of them to end up being close. He still didn’t see it coming, though.

“Are the rest of the guys also friends with Joonmyun now?” Baekhyun slowly asks, referring to their friends. He thinks about how Amber and Lu Han had hit it off with him and how Soojung and Taemin nagged at him.

“Do you not want us to be friends with him?” Taeyeon asks, confused. “Coz it really sounds like that to me.”

Why would Baekhyun even want that? What he’s always wanted is for his friends to accept him and his relationship. It only follows that Baekhyun want Joonmyun to be accepted, too. That’s what he’s really wanted in the first place: for him to be able to be who he is without fear and for him and Joonmyun not to be a secret anymore.

“That’s not what I meant,” Baekhyun says immediately, reaching out for Taeyeon’s hand and squeezing it. “If anything, it makes me glad. I was just surprised, that’s all.”

Taeyeon doesn’t say anything for a moment, just watches him drive, and Baekhyun hopes against all hope that she doesn’t notice that anything is amiss. He wouldn’t put it past her to do so, though, so he then hopes that she wouldn’t say anything.

“I can’t believe you picked me up to drive me to my date,” Taeyeon says instead, slapping his hand away from hers.

Baekhyun laughs, relieved. “It’s my job as your best friend. I wouldn’t let you get into something without me involving myself,” he tells her. “I have to know who my best friend is dating.”

Taeyeon rolls her eyes. “You egotistical bastard. Not everything is about you,” she pretends to grumble.

Baekhyun laughs as he turns a corner. The museum looms in the distance and he swallows his emotions back in his throat.


 

÷





The clock is ticking. It’s loud and grating and all Baekhyun wants to do is grab it off the wall and chuck it out of the window. Breaking the glass window in the process would be a plus. All he really wants to do is break something, even if it means breaking his fist as well.

“Baekhyun,” Jongdae gently starts. “I don’t mean to rub it in but…” He sighs. “What even happened? It’s unlike you to mistake like this.”

“I know.” Baekhyun stares out of the window behind his desk, the back of the seat facing Jongdae. It’s raining again, the large drops drawing lines as it slides down to the ledge. It’s said to snow soon, even if it’s still early in the year. The weather took a sudden turn and everyone just took the surprise in stride, getting ready to bundle up and heat up. “I was careless.”

“What are you going to do?” Jongdae asks helplessly.

“I don’t know,” Baekhyun answers honestly and lifelessly.

“Baekhyun, look at me,” Jongdae pleads and Baekhyun turns his seat around to face him. “What did Joonmyun say? You must have talked to him about this.”

Baekhyun shakes his head. “I didn’t tell him,” he says, randomly reaching for his stapler to play with it.

“Baekhyun, he’s your boyfriend. You guys are serious,” Jongdae says in surprise. “You need to tell him, to talk to him about this. This can probably affect him, too.”

“He doesn’t need to know,” Baekhyun insists and the way he says it is final. Joonmyun is like a piece of paradise for him. He’s his solace and if he taints him with something like this, Baekhyun doesn’t think he can forgive himself. He hates it when Joonmyun is worried about him. He’ll hate it even more if Joonmyun worries about him because of Baekhyun’s own doing. Besides, when Joonmyun finds out about the baby, this whole corporate mess of his won’t even matter. Jongdae frowns. “This was my mistake and I’m going to fix it.”

“You might get fired for this,” Jongdae tells him straightforwardly. Baekhyun nods. “At the very least, you’re going to get taken off accounts for a while.” He shakes his head and sighs. “I can’t believe you made a mistake with the books. It’s a good thing that the money is all there.”

“There’s nothing for me to do but accept the consequences,” Baekhyun states softly. “I can’t… there’s nothing I can do, except make the best of what I’ve done.” He smiles a little. “Maybe I’ll be less busy this way.”

“Please talk to Joonmyun,” Jongdae implores. “Or anyone. This can’t be easy for you and I can only imagine the stress. Talking to someone will help.”

“Well I’m talking to you,” Baekhyun reminds him with a small smile.

“You won’t even talk to me properly,” Jongdae rebuts, frustrated.

Baekhyun takes a deep breath and looks up at the ceiling. It’s all his fault. He had mixed up some numbers in the accounting for two companies and he’s not entirely sure how he had managed to make such a mistake. But he did. All that’s been happening for the past couple of weeks is all his doing. He hadn’t realized that it was his blunder until Jongdae had found out when he’d been perusing the books. Jongdae had come forward to him before they both went to their boss and told him about it. Baekhyun has been taken off the two accounts and has been demoted to doing internal paperwork until the management decides what they should do with him.

“Talking is hard, you know,” Baekhyun tells him, slightly teasing. “I’ve never been a good talker. And sometimes when I talk, I get myself into trouble.”

“Baekhyun,” Jongdae starts, brows furrowed in concern.

Baekhyun waves him off. “This is my fault,” he repeats. “Whatever happens happens and I’ll just have to deal with it. I’m pretty good at dealing with my messes.”

“Tell Joonmyun,” Jongdae persists. “That’s what partners are for. He cares about you and he will want to know.”

Baekhyun just laughs. Joonmyun probably won’t want to be his partner for very long. Why would he need to tell him about this when he’ll leave Baekhyun anyway?

“I’m serious, Baek,” Jongdae maintains seriously.

“I’m fine,” Baekhyun assures him firmly. “Everything will be fine.”

Baekhyun turns towards the window again, signaling the end of the conversation. He thinks about Joonmyun. Everything will be fine.


 

÷





Baekhyun walks into his apartment and sees a sleek black pair of shoes in the doorway; along with a black coat that he knows is Joonmyun’s favorite. Joonmyun always said that he felt at home in Baekhyun’s apartment, like it was his own. Baekhyun takes off his own coat and shoes, putting on his own pair of slippers.

Joonmyun is in the kitchen, busy with the pots and pans on the stove. He’s changed into the shirt he always wears the first night that he stays over, a pair of shorts, and his own pair of slippers that Baekhyun had bought for him. He leans against the doorway, smiling as Joonmyun starts humming some 1940’s song as he cooks something that Baekhyun guesses is one of his favorites.

Joonmyun has been doing a lot of cooking for him for the past weeks. It’s what he does when he sees that Baekhyun is stressed and Baekhyun has been a lot stressed these days. He wonders how Joonmyun is able to put up with him and take care of him at the same time. Appreciation and love gushes through him and he walks in to wrap his arms around Joonmyun’s waist, pressing his face to his back.

“Hi,” Baekhyun greets adoringly, playfully kissing his back.

Joonmyun jumps in fright then relaxes when he sees that it’s Baekhyun. “You scared me,” he whines. He wipes his hands clean with a rag and turns around in Baekhyun’s arms to greet him properly. “Hi,” he says, kissing him. “How was your day?”

“Okay,” Baekhyun mumbles into his chest as he hugs Joonmyun tightly. “I’m happy you’re here.”

Joonmyun returns Baekhyun’s tight hug and presses a kiss to the crown of his head. Baekhyun buries his face further into Joonmyun, liking how warm he is, and doesn’t notice how Joonmyun looks concerned at this display.

“I figured you missed me,” Joonmyun teases him, “that’s why I’m here making us dinner.”

“You’re making my favorite again,” Baekhyun says, not even moving.

“I like spoiling you,” Joonmyun states sincerely, smiling.

Baekhyun pulls away at this and kisses him. “I still don’t know what I did to deserve you,” he tells him, his heart clenching.

“You don’t have to do anything,” Joonmyun tells him with a kiss. “You just have to be Baekhyun.”

“Being Baekhyun is trouble,” Baekhyun states, startling himself with how true that is. “I’m trouble.”

“Baekhyun,” Joonmyun dotingly declares, cupping his face, “you are great the way you are and I love you.”

Baekhyun blinks and buries his face back into Joonmyun’s chest. “I hate it when you say things like that,” he grunts, making Joonmyun laugh. He never knows what to say when Joonmyun compliments him like that and then follows it up with I love you. Well, Baekhyun knows what he should say, he feels it anyway, but somehow he can’t say it. Especially not with the current circumstances. I already know I’m great.” He then pulls back to give him another kiss. “So are we having dinner or what?”

Joonmyun chuckles and pats his butt before pulling away to turn towards the stove. “I’m almost done,” he says. “Why don’t you go freshen up first?”

Baekhyun beams at him and then goes to the bedroom, taking off his suit and shirt and changing into a simple shirt and jogging pants. He hears his phone go off and takes it out of his slacks pocket. It’s a message from Soyul.

He slumps down on the bed and puffs out his cheeks as he lets out a breath. He’d been grateful when Soyul had agreed to give him time for the news of her pregnancy to settle, for him to get ready for what’s coming. But when she hadn’t contacted him in a month, Baekhyun had begun to hope that it wasn’t real, that it was all a dream. He had hoped that she wouldn’t contact him again and it will be like it never happened. But it is real and she wants to meet up again.

He knows she’s waiting for a response, knowing that it’s the right thing to do. It’s what he should do, man up and take responsibility. Baekhyun’s heart hurts as he sends a confirmation of the meeting and stares at the screen long after the Sent Message notice has long disappeared.

“Baekhyun, dinner’s—is everything okay?” Joonmyun asks in concern when he sees Baekhyun hunched over his phone. “What’s wrong?”

Baekhyun looks up and locks his phone with a smile. He tosses it to the bedside table. “Nothing,” he assures him, standing up. “Let’s eat? I’m starving.”

“Yeah,” Joonmyun says. “Are you sure everything’s fine?”

“I promise,” Baekhyun lies, kissing his cheek and leading him out to the dining room.

They eat dinner like nothing is wrong. Joonmyun animatedly tells him about his day and Baekhyun listens interestedly. Baekhyun still doesn’t know much about art, despite reading about it more, but Joonmyun always fills him in and never makes him feel uneducated. He likes hearing Joonmyun talk about his work. It always sounds so exciting and Joonmyun’s voice is very calming to listen to. Baekhyun dodges the question about how his day was and just asks Joonmyun about their upcoming exhibits, even asking about Jongin.

“Ah I’m so stuffed!” Baekhyun announces as they get into bed, rubbing his tummy. He turns to his side as Joonmyun gets into bed, turning the lamp off. “Please stop feeding me so much. I’m going to get fat.”

“I like you stuffed,” Joonmyun says, wrapping his arms around Baekhyun and squeezing him. “I like your soft tummy, your thighs and your ass.” He reaches down and gives it a squeeze. “Especially your ass. And it’s all mine,” he proclaims in pride.

Baekhyun smirks. “I knew it,” he shares. “You just like me for my yumminess.”

“You are yummy,” Joonmyun agrees, giving both of his butt cheeks another squeeze as he places a flurry of kisses down Baekhyun’s throat.

“You’re lucky I think you’re yummy, too,” Baekhyun remarks, sliding his hands inside Joonmyun’s shirt, his fingers tracing the outline of his abs. He starts lifting his shirt until it’s bunched up under his armpits and then bends down to use his tongue to trace his abs. Joonmyun grunts, his stomach caving in at the contact. “Very yummy,” he confirms.

“You tease,” Joonmyun growls, throwing himself on top of Baekhyun.

Baekhyun snickers as he takes Joonmyun’s shirt off completely and wraps his arms around Joonmyun’s neck to pull him down. “What are you going to do about it?” he challenges.

Joonmyun’s response is so strip Baekhyun naked and then following with taking off his own clothes. Joonmyun always makes love to him so fervently, even when Baekhyun demands for roughness. He always makes him feel like he’s precious and special. When he kisses Baekhyun, he always does it like it’s all he wants to do for the rest of his life. It makes Baekhyun want to kiss him back forever as well. He thinks it’s something he can do. Joonmyun loves him so well, that he can see himself being with him for a really long time. But it’s a dream that’s become out of reach.

Baekhyun quietly eases out of bed when Joonmyun’s breathing evens out. He grabs a jacket, puts it on as he situates himself in the living room and powers up his laptop. He stares at the screen as everything gets loaded and opens up a browser. The cursor blinks at him mockingly for a while before he decides to type something in.

If he’s going to do this, he should know what he’s gotten himself into. The pregnancy search releases thousands of results. Baekhyun’s heart pounds heavily in his chest as he clicks onto one link. He reads everything from the pregnancy process, the growth of the baby, and all that needs to be done within the nine months. He learns all about the scheduling of doctor appointments, all the financial adjustments, as well as the lifestyle changes. Right before his eyes, Baekhyun sees how his life will be altered.

He leans back on the couch and stares at the screen. There is no way he can do this. There is no way he can raise a child, and with a girl barely knows. He’s in love with Joonmyun. Joonmyun is quite possibly the love of Baekhyun’s life and they won’t even end up together. There is no way Joonmyun will forgive him for this. How could he when Baekhyun can’t even forgive himself? How did this happen? How could he have allowed this to happen?

Baekhyun covers his eyes with his forearm, and then he breaks down and cries.


 

÷





Baekhyun feels like his heart is going to pop out of his chest as he walks into the coffee shop on the other side of town. He had to go and lie to Joonmyun that he had a sudden meeting with a client just so he can go and meet with Soyul. Sneaking around, hiding things from Joonmyun, is the last thing Baekhyun wants to do. But, considering the circumstances, he thinks that he can’t very well just go out and tell Joonmyun about this.

He spots Soyul in the corner of the café and walks straight towards the table, not even bothering to order. He doesn’t want to get comfortable and hopes that this meeting will be quick because he promised Joonmyun that they’d go out for dinner.

“Hey,” Baekhyun greets Soyul, slipping into the seat across from hers.

“I was wondering if you were actually ever going to show up,” Soyul comments, taking a sip of her coffee.

“I did say I was going to be here,” Baekhyun defends himself. He leans back on his seat and watches Soyul quietly drink her coffee. It’s not like he’s running away from his responsibility to the child. All he needed was time to think and to process things, as well as figure out what he was going to do and how he was going to handle it.

“I don’t just need you to be here, Baekhyun,” Soyul starts, putting her cup down. “I need you to want to be here. I don’t blame you for this. This is something we both did and something we’ll both have to figure out.”

“I know,” Baekhyun says with a sigh. “So how do you propose with do this?”

Soyul stares at him. “You’re the father,” she reminds him. “I don’t want to have to look for you every single time I need you for the baby. It’s not really about the money. I have money and I can afford to raise this baby on my own. But I’d rather my kid have a father who is actually present and one who will help raise him or her.”

“Soyul,” Baekhyun levels with her. “I am honestly terrified of this whole thing. I don’t know the first thing about raising a baby. But I can assure you that I will be around. I will be with you in this.” He takes a deep breath.

“I am terrified, too,” Soyul admits. “My career really isn’t a very good one for raising a child. I don’t suppose helping couples get divorced is a healthy environment for anyone with a child.”

Soyul continues to talk about her job, her life, which is the first time Baekhyun’s really known anything about her. As it turns out, she’s a divorce attorney, who is rising up in the ranks, her name starting to be spoken of in important circles. She mentions having always wanted to focus on her career because relationships are trouble. But then she gets lonely once in a while. What she never expected was for that loneliness to create such a big change in her life.

Baekhyun keeps on thinking about himself, about how this changes everything, how his life is suddenly in such disarray, about how this will change things between him and Joonmyun. He’s been so anxious about his own life and how he’s going to tell Joonmyun and his friends that he hasn’t even stopped to think about how this affects Soyul.

She is the actual one who will carry the baby. It will grow inside of her and her whole lifestyle will change. Being a lawyer is very important to her and Baekhyun can’t help but think about how being pregnant will possibly affect the time she spends on her work. She can’t very well stay up late so much now. Soyul’s also going to have to fix her eating habits, go to special classes, and go to doctor appointments regularly. It is a literal burden to her if he could call it that.

“Are you having morning sickness?” Baekhyun suddenly asks and Soyul looks at him in surprise. “I know most women have morning sickness in the first trimester. I can’t imagine that it’s easy.”

Soyul smiles. “You’ve done some reading,” she comments, looking pleased. “Well, it’s not so bad right now, the morning sickness, I mean. I hope it doesn’t get worse. You don’t have to worry about me, though. I just wanted to meet up so we’re clear that you’re going to help me go through this.”

Talking to Soyul has definitely made this decision easier, not that he was going to run away from his obligations. But hearing Soyul has, somehow, made him feel less guilty about going through with this. This is the right thing to do no matter how much his relationship with Joonmyun will suffer.

Baekhyun breathes deeply and nods. “I will,” he promises. “I’ll go through this with you.”



 

÷





The guilt eats away at Baekhyun little by little. Slowly, the burden strips him of the happiness that he’s cocooned himself in over the past few months, leaving him bare and empty. He barely goes out, always rejecting his friends’ invites, doesn’t even really ask Joonmyun to go out anymore, always just preferring to stay in either of their apartments to cook or order take out. It’s almost like he’s reverting back to his old self, except that Baekhyun isn’t afraid to be seen with Joonmyun. At least not the way it was before. It’s mostly Baekhyun wanting to preserve what he has with Joonmyun, keeping him close in confined spaces, until the inevitable happens.

Baekhyun knows that he can’t hide his feelings very well, the very same reason why he knows people are starting to suspect something’s up. Taeyeon’s resorted to calling him every night to check up on him just because he never texts her anymore; he doesn’t want to because he’s afraid that talking to her will make him spill the beans. And he’s not ready for that. He isn’t ready to tell anyone what he’s done and how he’s singlehandedly screwed up his life with his dick. Even Soojung has been messaging him through every messaging app available on Smartphones. Lu Han casually keeps asking him to go to the restaurant so he can show Baekhyun his new recipes, while Taemin and Amber just continue to nag at him for not coming out with them anymore. Even Jongdae has been checking in on him more often, coming by his office to ask him for lunch.

Baekhyun thinks saying no to everyone and everything makes it easier. It gives him a lot more room to breathe even if he’s really drowning. He just doesn’t want to pull anyone down with him. More than that, he doesn’t want to see the disappointment on their faces and probably the disgust when they find out what happened. Baekhyun doesn’t think he can handle it.

The door to his office suddenly slams open, making Baekhyun jump. He stares as Kyungsoo closes the door behind him, locks it and then holds up two boxes of take out food. Baekhyun’s only ever spoken to Kyungsoo once, when Jongdae introduced the two of them together so he’s not entirely sure what he is doing slamming his way into his office.

“Uh, Jongdae’s office is a couple of doors down,” Baekhyun says as Kyungsoo makes himself comfortable on one of the seats and opens the food, the smell of sweet and sour pork lingering in the air.

“We haven’t really talked all that much since Jongdae introduced us,” Kyungsoo says and Baekhyun is poised to agree when he gets cut off, “so I’ve decided that we’re having lunch today. Just the two of us.” He smiles at Baekhyun. “Don’t worry, Jongdae isn’t really the jealous type. That, and you’re not my type.”

“Good to know,” Baekhyun responds, not really sure if he should feel offended or not. Free food is always a good thing though, so he grabs one of the boxes and starts eating.

It’s quiet for a while and Baekhyun likes it. Baekhyun watches as Kyungsoo eats his food contentedly, his eyes slightly widening when he tastes something particularly delicious in his food. Kyungsoo isn’t like any one of his friends. They don’t really know each other and it’s nice hanging out with someone, especially since they’re not talking, who can’t really judge him. Still, it is strange that Kyungsoo wanted to eat with him alone. There’s got to be an agenda in here somewhere.

“So… what’s up?” Baekhyun lamely starts. “How’s work?”

Kyungsoo puts his food down and fixes Baekhyun with a stare that makes him squirm. “Jongdae has been stressed these days,” he tells him with a soft sigh. “He’s worried about too many things.”

Baekhyun’s brows furrow in concern. “Is everything okay?”

“He’s worried about you, Baekhyun,” Kyungsoo goes straight to the point.

“He told you,” Baekhyun mutters, poking his rice with his fork. His blunder was kept to his level and upwards. The rest of the company didn’t really know what happened. But with Jongdae as his boyfriend, it would make sense that he did find out.

“Told me what?” Kyungsoo asks.

“About my mistake,” Baekhyun prompts him. “The accounts that I messed up—”

“Jongdae hasn’t told me anything about that,” Kyungsoo stops him before he can even get another incriminating word out. “But whatever happened, it doesn’t seem like it’s because of work.” He sighs when Baekhyun averts his gaze. “You are making my boyfriend worry and it’s making me worry and then he starts worrying because I’m worrying and then I worry even more and—do you see my problem?”

“Jongdae shouldn’t be worrying about anything,” Baekhyun tells him as sincerely as he can. “There is nothing to worry about. The whole mess I made is being fixed. Everything will be fine.”

Kyungsoo glares at him and Baekhyun looks away. But Kyungsoo stares and stares and stares that Baekhyun feels like he’s going to burst. This is something he’s been carrying with him for three months and frankly, he’s not sure how he’s managed to last so long without telling the first person he sees about what happened.

“Look, Baekhyun, we may not be friends, but you’re Jongdae’s friend and he really cares about you,” Kyungsoo reasons. “I came here because I’m worried about him, but now that I’m here, I’m starting to worry about you, too. You haven’t been sleeping well, have you?”

“I’m fine,” Baekhyun insists, picking at his food before pushing it away. But he wonders what it would be like to open his mouth and just tell Kyungsoo. It should be fine. Kyungsoo probably wouldn’t judge him. He seems nice and open to listening and—Baekhyun shakes his head. No. He can’t. He shouldn’t.

“It’s not healthy, what you’re doing,” Kyungsoo gently tells him. “Keeping things to yourself.”

“I’m fine,” Baekhyun repeats.

“Baekhyun, you can’t just—”

“I got a girl pregnant, okay!” Baekhyun snaps, slamming his hand on his desk. His pencil holder falls to the floor. “I was upset with Joonmyun. He made me angry because he forced me to come out so suddenly in public when I refused to go out with him. I didn’t want to be forced into it. I didn’t want to be so bared open like that when I wasn’t ready. But then he suddenly mentioned breaking up. I was angry at him.” He closes his eyes and squeezes it. “It was just a one night stand. That’s all it was supposed to be,” he explains, opening his eyes to look at Kyungsoo, whose mouth was open. “It didn’t mean anything. We didn’t even exchange names.”

“Baekhyun,” Kyungsoo tries to say something.

“And I tried to fix things,” Baekhyun goes on. “I really tried, Kyungsoo. I tried so hard. I wanted to make things right with Joonmyun. He told me he loves me and I… I wanted to deserve his love and so I did everything I could to do so. I learned how to cook for him, I took him out on dates, took him to the movies, and came out to people and introduced him as my boyfriend. We were happy. We are happy. I’m so happy with Joonmyun, Kyungsoo. I’m so happy with him. I love him, you know, and now I’ve screwed it up.” He starts sobbing so hard that his shoulders are shaking and his chest his heaving. “I screwed it up and I don’t know how to fix it. What will I do, Kyungsoo? I tried so hard. I tried so hard.”

Kyungsoo hurriedly gets up to get to the other side of the desk and hug Baekhyun. Baekhyun clings onto him as if for dear life, repeating I tried so hard over and over again. Kyungsoo lets Baekhyun cry it out and it takes a while. All those pent up fears, self-hate, and regret are finally all coming out.

How did it come to this? How could he have been so careless as to throw his happiness away just like that? Baekhyun’s always been such a careful, meticulous person. He never lets anything distract him from what he wants and what he wants to achieve. But this Baekhyun… he’s not sure who this is anymore, making mistakes with his job and damagin his relationship.

Baekhyun manages to calm down after a while. With that off his chest, he feels lighter, less burdened. It had to happen sooner or later and Baekhyun is grateful that it was with Kyungsoo. Baekhyun looks at him with swollen eyes, mouth puffy, and cheeks red. He has a newfound appreciation for Kyungsoo and maybe has found a friend in him as well.

“Sorry,” Baekhyun mumbles as he wipes at his face. “I didn’t mean to… Just please don’t tell anyone. Not even Jongdae.”

Kyungsoo is quiet for a bit, lips pursed as if he’s holding himself back. “I won’t tell Jongdae,” he finally says and then pauses for a bit before continuing on. “But you’re not doing anyone any favors by dealing with this by yourself. I don’t understand why you haven’t told Joonmyun about this.”

Baekhyun shakes his head vehemently. “No,” he stresses. “I can’t. He’ll be hurt and…” He shakes his head. “I can’t.”

“I don’t know Joonmyun so I can’t speak for him,” Kyungsoo says. “But if he loves you as much as you say he does, he will listen at the very least; he will hear you out. Frankly, if you love him like you say you do, you would tell him and trust him to talk things out with you and to decide together what your next steps will be.”

“It’s not that simple,” Baekhyun declines. “It’s not that easy.”

“Nothing ever is easy,” Kyungsoo counters. “Everything that is worth fighting for is hard. Is Joonmyun worth fighting for to you? He’s your boyfriend, Baekhyun, your partner. You should give him more credit and treat him like one.”

Baekhyun faintly recalls Taeyeon telling him something similar, but he just shakes his head again. He can’t hurt Joonmyun like that. He can’t just go and undo all his hard work for the past few months. Baekhyun would rather he left Joonmyun without warning rather than tell him he got someone pregnant. It may not be logical but it’s what’s Baekhyun’s more comfortable with. He couldn’t bear it if Joonmyun left him. Tears sting his eyes at the thought that, sooner or later, he is going to have to break up with Joonmyun.


 

÷





Baekhyun is sitting in the middle of the bed, fiddling with his phone. Jongdae keeps on texting him, badgering him about what he and Kyungsoo had talked about because Kyungsoo was being too good of a friend and a bad boyfriend and not telling him anything. Baekhyun just snickers and replies with a smiley face when Joonmyun comes out of the bathroom.

Joonmyun looks handsome in a white, crisp button up. His hair is all mussed up quite handsomely and he has his bowtie hanging around his neck as he moves about the room, closing his cuffs.

“Have you seen my cufflinks?” Joonmyun asks, sifting through the perfume, lotions, aftershave and jewelry on the dresser.

Baekhyun puts his phone down and reaches over to his bedside table where he’d put the cufflinks the night before when he took it off for him. He raises it up with a grin and Joonmyun chuckles as he walks to the edge of the bed, reaching for it. But Baekhyun shakes his head as he kneels on the bed to put it on for him.

“Looks like you’re going to be wooing a lot of people tonight,” Baekhyun remarks as he shifts to his other wrist. “Should I be worried?” He looks up, smiling at his boyfriend teasingly and Joonmyun rolls his eyes.

“You and your mini jealous streaks,” Joonmyun fondly comments, pinching Baekhyun’s nose, which he scrunches up. He steps back and stretches his arms to make sure his cuffs are buttoned properly.

“I do not have jealous streaks,” Baekhyun defends himself. “Not even mini ones.” Joonmyun raises his eyebrows at him. Okay so he may have shot some girl a look when she got too close to Joonmyun in some event. “That was one time.”

“You’re very cute, you know that?” Joonmyun kisses him on the forehead before moving to the full-length mirror to tie his bowtie.

Baekhyun pouts and sits, his legs beneath him. “Okay, so it was more than one time,” he hedges. “But can you blame me when you always go out looking like you just walked out of a magazine?”

Joonmyun looks at him through the mirror. “You can always come and guard me like the hawk that you are,” he teases.

Baekhyun slightly freezes, managing not to let his discomfort show, and then smiles. “How do you know I’m not doing that even when I’m not there?” He wiggles his eyebrows up and down, making Joonmyun laugh. “Come here and let me help you with that,” he says, gesturing to him and kneeling back up on the bed.

Joonmyun obediently walks back to the foot of the bed and allows Baekhyun to fix his bowtie for him. “Are you going to be okay here?” he asks, tilting his face up and looks at the ceiling.

“Yeah, I’ll be drowning myself in work and you can save me when you get home,” Baekhyun says, excited at the prospect. He always likes it when he and Joonmyun are at home together. Joonmyun always makes sure to take care of him. “Ah, you’re seriously too handsome for your own good,” he sighs when he pulls away to look at his handiwork.

Joonmyun chuckles and pulls him in for a kiss. “I will miss you,” he shares. “It’ll be weird going out without you on my arm. Everyone will be asking why I didn’t bring my better half with me.”

Baekhyun scoffs, raising up his arms and stretching. “You make it sound like we’re married,” he comments. He puts his arms down and looks at Joonmyun when he doesn’t say anything. “Joonmyun,” he warns.

“I have to get going,” Joonmyun tells him with a small, mysterious smile, shutting him up with a kiss. “I’ll text you when I’m on my way home.”

Baekhyun watches mutely as Joonmyun picks up his suit coat from the closet, puts it on and then grabs his wallet and phone to put in his pockets. People think of them like a married couple. Joonmyun thinks of them as married. There’s a flutter in his chest that has only gotten stronger as his relationship with Joonmyun progressed, but is something that he’s grown to like. He likes feeling like this, loves that it’s with Joonmyun that he feels like this.

“See you later. I love you.” Joonmyun shoots him one of those smiles that he loves before walking out of the bedroom and Baekhyun just wants to melt. It’s cheesy, but sometimes it feels like Joonmyun is literally melting him with his love.

“Take care in driving!” Baekhyun yells just before the front door closes. I love you, too.

He has never really allowed himself to think beyond the relationship before, past the present, because it’s never been something he thought could be real for him. But each day with Joonmyun makes him realize and believe that it can happen because it’s clear that Joonmyun wants it. And because Baekhyun wants it, too.

Baekhyun sighs as he gets up and walks to the window. He can see the cars exiting the apartment garage from there and he waits until Joonmyun’s black sedan leaves. It turns right and then turns another right before disappearing around the corner. Long after, Baekhyun just keeps staring. Just when he accepts that he wants a long-term relationship, maybe forever, with someone, it gets snatched away right under his nose. Sometimes life just gets in the way.

He pushes himself off the window ledge and grabs his jacket and mobile phone. Soyul is waiting for him.


 

÷





Joonmyun is frowning when Baekhyun tells him that he can’t go out with him that evening. Yet again. Baekhyun couldn’t see his face, but he can still hear Joonmyun’s disappointment right through the phone line and he hates that he’s the one who put the frown on his face. Because it hasn’t been just once or twice that Baekhyun’s declined to go out with him. It’s been more than his ten fingers could count and he knew that Joonmyun is losing his patience and is wondering what the hell is going on.

In the beginning, Baekhyun really has plans with Soyul every time that Joonmyun invites him out to his events or even to simple dinners and movies, and he lies every time just to get out of it. But then it starts becoming a habit when it starts making sense to Baekhyun that maybe he should ease Joonmyun out of this relationship. He should start staying away so that it will hurt less when they break up. It’s easier this way. For the both of them.

Baekhyun’s been thinking a lot about the baby and Soyul. Even at work, it occupies his mind and makes him reflect about how best to go forward. It isn’t going to be easy. It probably is going to be much harder than it is now, but Baekhyun knows it’s necessary. His priority now is the baby.

“What do you think of this?” Soyul is holding up a light blue baby outfit. “It’s cute, right?”

She had been shopping for some maternity clothes because her tummy has grown and is showing and had asked Baekhyun if he was in the area because she was also going to look canvass for some baby furniture and clothes. While Baekhyun doesn’t deem his presence necessary for such, he had missed going to the doctor’s appointment with her earlier that day so he’s making up for it now.

“What do you want to have, a boy or a girl?” Baekhyun suddenly asks. He’s been wondering whether he wanted a boy or a girl as his first child. He’s never really thought about it before because he didn’t think he would ever have a child, at least not so soon anyway.

“A girl would be nice,” Soyul says, shrugging. “But it doesn’t really matter. I’d love it either way.” She looks through some more baby clothes before looking at him. “What do you want?”

Baekhyun shrugs. “I think I’d spoil them either way,” he says.

Soyul smiles and Baekhyun knows that she’s thinking about all the little things that he’s been getting for her, like childbirth class schedules, getting her special pillows to make her sleeping more comfortable, and baby proofing her apartment.

Baekhyun’s mobile phone rings while Soyul’s in the dressing room, trying on some clothes. He immediately receives it when he sees that it’s Amber.

“Hey,” he greets, hanging out by one of the baby clothes rack and randomly sifting through it.

It’s noisy in the background with loud music and loud voices. “Where the hell are you?” Amber demands.

“I’m working.” The lie is swift and easy now. “What’s going on? Where are you?”

“I’m out with Soojung and Taemin,” she answers. “Your boyfriend’s here with Jongdae. They came from some thing and Joonmyun says that you didn’t go with him.”

“I told you, I’m working,” Baekhyun repeats. Joonmyun’s disappointed face pops in his head again.

“We’re going to have a talk, Byun Baekhyun,” Amber promises before ending the call.

Soyul comes out of the dress room, wearing a light green dress that shows how big her tummy has grown. He sighs sadly when Soyul grins at him, even twirling to show the dress around. Baekhyun can already feel his walls crashing down one by one. Everything is starting to crumble and he is starting to feel the pressure from every side. Eventually his friends will force him to talk. And then there’s Joonmyun. Soon there will be nothing left to cover and hide his secret and himself.


 

÷





Amber is with Taeyeon when Baekhyun is arrives at the secluded table that they’re being seated. Taeyeon shoots Baekhyun an apologetic look but Baekhyun merely picks up his menu and looks through the food. He’s not particularly hungry. He came to this dinner just because he wanted to appease Taeyeon. But it looks like he’s going to have an earful as well.

“Are the others coming?” Baekhyun casually asks and Taeyeon frowns. “We should wait for them before we order.” He puts the menu down.

“It’s going to be just us,” Taeyeon answers and she calls the waiter so that they could order.

Baekhyun really isn’t sure what he’s going to say to get his friends off his back. He knows he can’t hide his emotions very well, can’t hide things or even lie very well. But in this situation, he has to. There was a point in their friendship where they’d all promised not to lie or keep secrets from each other. This is why everything in Soojung’s and Taemin’s relationship is an open book. Whenever they fight, they all hear both sides. Baekhyun doesn’t think he can do that, though. Not this time.

“How are your classes?” Baekhyun asks Taeyeon as their food gets served.

“Great!” Taeyeon gushes, straightening up as she starts telling them about how the paintings of her university students have been so amazing.

Baekhyun smiles as Taeyeon gets carried away, while Amber just keeps on eating quietly. He thinks it’s better when the focus is on other people, that way they can just forget about grilling Baekhyun or whatever it is that they intend to do with him.

“Joonmyun has agreed to showcase their art and is putting up an exhibit for them next month,” Taeyeon excitedly shares.

“What?” he asks, blinking.

“I want to do something special for my students, some sort of recognition or something and Joonmyun suggested that we showcase their work at the museum,” Taeyeon shares with a huge smile. “It’s great, right? Your boyfriend is heaven sent.”

Baekhyun can’t help but smile. It’s so like Joonmyun to meet his interests with someone else’s. He always goes for the win-win situation in practically everything. It really is nice to see Joonmyun being friends with his friends, like how it’s nice that he and Jongin had become more friendly ever since they’ve come out as a couple. He’s even met Jongin’s boyfriend, this tall guy who bares his teeth while he laughs like there’s no tomorrow.

“So what’s the deal with you and Joonmyun?” Amber asks without warning. She can be really straightforward when she wants to be. “I mean, he says that you have been buried in work for a while now. Is everything okay?”

“Everything’s fine,” Baekhyun says with a soft sigh. “I just made this big mistake with some accounts at work and it’s been really stressful.” He might as well share something that’s true. “It hasn’t been easy and I’ve been trying to get back on the management’s good graces so I’ve been working extra hard and really pushing myself.”

“I hope everything works out,” Amber says. “Was it a really big mistake?”

“I got demoted,” Baekhyun tells them with a shrug.

“Why didn’t you tell me this?” Taeyeon demands, looking upset and worried.

“I don’t really like telling people the lowest points of my life,” Baekhyun responds wryly.

Baekhyun is relieved when they let it go. It seems like he’s better at hiding things than he originally thought. The dinner goes smoother after that, and Baekhyun almost wishes that Soojung, Lu Han and Taemin were present. He does miss his friends and wishes that he could see them as often as he used to.

Amber has just left in a cab when Taeyeon turns towards Baekhyun and eyes him carefully. Baekhyun puffs out his cheeks, his breath coming out like smoke in the cold weather, tucking his hands in his winter jacket pockets.

“What is it that you’re not saying?” she asks.

Baekhyun stomps his feet to feel some heat as he looks up at the sky. It’s rare that there’s a clear night sky like this. Joonmyun likes nights like this. He would pull Baekhyun out to the balcony, bundle them both in blankets and just look up. He’d then talk about his dreams, about the things he wants to achieve and then Baekhyun would just end up thinking about how nice it would be if they could do this for the rest of their lives. His relationship with Joonmyun hasn’t been for very long, but it’s so real. It’s the kind of relationship that Baekhyun can see himself staying in; the kind of relationship he hopes he could keep.

“I’m breaking up with Joonmyun.” It sounds so surreal. Baekhyun can’t believe he even managed to say it out loud.

“Why?” Taeyeon looks stunned. This isn’t definitely what she expected to hear.

“It’s not fair to Joonmyun,” Baekhyun explains. “It’s not fair to him to be in a relationship with someone who’s betrayed his trust.”

“I don’t understand,” Taeyeon maintains, watching her best friend carefully.

“I’m going to be a dad, you know,” Baekhyun says it so casually, as if he hasn’t just dropped a bomb. He chuckles at the night sky. “Imagine that. Me. A dad. It’s a whole new ballgame.”

Taeyeon just stands there, speechless. Baekhyun looks at her and laughs. It’s very rare that Taeyeon doesn’t have anything to say about something. She always has an opinion and she’s never afraid to share it with people. This is a new record and Baekhyun would be proud if his heart doesn’t feel like it’s being squeezed.

“Sometimes life just hits you straight in the gut,” he continues, taking a deep breath and staring at the snow on his feet. “When you think you’ve hit the homerun, you realize that you’ve been overtaken and beaten.”

Taeyeon still doesn’t say anything. This is probably one of those things where the shock and disappointment is so huge that there are not enough words to elaborate on it. Taeyeon is his dearest friend and to know that she can finally see what kind of person he is and be so disappointed as to not justify it with words, it hurts him.

Suddenly, there are arms around him and his head is resting on Taeyeon’s shoulder and being cradled. Baekhyun stands still. If he moves or becomes comfortable in her embrace, he will surely let emotions take over him and he doesn’t want that. He’s tired of crying and feeling miserable and just wants the whole thing to be over with. He just wants to fast forward everything or go to a time where he’ll feel okay, where he’ll have gotten over Joonmyun and is happy with the life that he has with his child. He just wants to be okay.

Baekhyun wraps his arms around Taeyeon and buries his face on her shoulder, refusing to show his tears, even though he knows that her blouse is getting soaked. There are still so many things he wants to do and a lot of those plans have started to include Joonmyun. How is he going to re-plan everything in his life?

“I don’t know what to do,” Baekhyun whispers brokenly.

Taeyeon pulls away and cups Baekhyun’s face. “Tell Joonmyun,” she states. He shakes his head. “Baekhyun,” she sternly keeps him in place, “you can’t make decisions involving another person’s life by yourself. This is also Joonmyun’s life. Don’t you think it’s just fair that you include him in deciding whether he wants to be single so suddenly or not?”

“I don’t want to hurt him,” Baekhyun wearily defends himself.

“And you think he wouldn’t get hurt if you break up with him without a valid reason?” Taeyeon presses.

“I’d rather he got mad at me for that than learning that I’ve betrayed him, that I’ve broken his trust and have tainted our relationship like this,” Baekhyun insists, hastily wiping his tears away. “Why do you think I’ve been staying away so much, why I’ve been cold? I’m trying to give him a reason to walk away.”

“Baek, you’ve come so far,” Taeyeon says, grabbing his hands. “You’ve been fighting so hard for him and all of a sudden you’re just going to throw it away like this.”

Baekhyun flinches away from her as if burned. “Do you think this is easy for me? I want a life with Joonmyun. I love him. But I have new responsibilities now; obligations to fulfill and I can’t do that when I’ll keep seeing a constant reminder of something that I’ve ruined. I can’t do that to Joonmyun. I can’t do that to both of us. I would rather we go our separate ways and start over. He can be happy with someone else. Anyone would be lucky to have him.”

“Are you listening to yourself? You sound like you’re giving him away,” Taeyeon snaps.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Baekhyun stubbornly asserts. His tears have dried up and he is sure of this decision more than ever. “I’m not going to tell him and then stay with him and let what I’ve done create a distance between us. It’ll be like torturing myself everyday, watching myself destroy what I’ve tried so hard to keep. It’s better this way.”

“Just because you’re sacrificing your happiness, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do,” Taeyeon says.

Baekhyun doesn’t respond and the statement just lingers in the air.


 

÷





It’s still early in the day when Joonmyun arrives. Baekhyun hears the doorknob rattling, hears the door open and close from the bedroom. There’s a thud that echoes from the hall, probably Joonmyun tripping over his slippers and using the closet to keep himself from falling. Keys rattle from when it’s placed on the living room table and then there’s some shuffling before the bedroom door is opened wider.

Baekhyun is sitting on the edge of the bed when Joonmyun walks in. He stops in his tracks, startled, before planting a kiss on his forehead that Baekhyun always thought was sweet but now just seems perfunctory. Everything between the two of them has seemed mechanical these days.

“You’re early today,” Baekhyun says the same time Joonmyun goes, “I didn’t know you were coming over today.”

Baekhyun supposes he deserves that after ditching Joonmyun so many times. Joonmyun starts unbuttoning his shirt, revealing his pale chest and defined abs. Baekhyun looks away.

“I figured I’d come to see you,” Baekhyun replies with a shrug. “It’s been a while. I wanted to cook for you tonight.”

“You don’t have to,” Joonmyun says, not even looking at him. Baekhyun is startled and hurt at this. Joonmyun’s never turned him down for anything before. “I have a lot of paperwork to go through today. We’re putting up a new exhibit and it’s so last minute that we’re behind on a lot of documents.” He grabs his phone from where he put it down on the dresser and starts walking out of the room.

“Is this the exhibit for Taeyeon’s students?” Baekhyun blurts out before Joonmyun can leave.

“Oh I guess Taeyeon told you then,” Joonmyun says, going to the living room.

Baekhyun follows after him and sits on the armrest of the sofa as Joonmyun takes out some files from his bag. “Well yes,” he confirms. “Taeyeon’s so excited about it.”

“It’s going to be so rewarding for her students,” Joonmyun says with a smile. “And her students’ paintings are good. People will enjoy their exhibit.”

Joonmyun doesn’t say anything more, just going to the kitchen to make himself a cup of coffee. He is so quiet. They’re never quiet when they’re together. They don’t talk all the time but Joonmyun always hums and Baekhyun is always tapping his fingers on some surface and they are never quiet around each other. Baekhyun hates it.

“So why didn’t you tell me about it?” Baekhyun softly asks.

Joonmyun finally looks at him, really looks at him, looking surprised at the question. “It honestly slipped my mind,” he says apologetically. “I’ve just been so busy and you’ve been so busy…”

“But has anything happened that you haven’t told me? Anything interesting happen with your work? How’s Jongin?” Baekhyun starts asking. It bothers him to know that Joonmyun has stopped talking to him about things. Granted that it may be his fault, but Joonmyun always talked to him about everything and to know that he’s stopped doing that really bothers him.

“Nothing except for Taeyeon’s exhibit,” Joonmyun honestly answers. “Everything’s the same day in and day out. You’re not missing much.”

But Baekhyun seems to be missing a lot. For one, he misses Joonmyun. He misses the Joonmyun who kisses him when he gets home or calls him when they’re not coming home to each other. He misses the Joonmyun hums songs from before the year 2000, the one who cooks his favorite food, the one who smiles at Baekhyun like he’s the sun.

“I miss you,” Baekhyun suddenly says and Joonmyun whips his gaze towards him. “I wish you’d told me about Taeyeon’s exhibit. We tell each other everything, right?”

“That’s really interesting coming from you,” Joonmyun comments.

“What?” Baekhyun weakly mutters. He’s just trapped himself.

“I mean I do tell you everything, Baekhyun,” Joonmyun continues. “That’s what you do when you’re with someone after all. But one-sided sharings can only hold a relationship for so long.”

“There really isn’t anything for me to tell,” Baekhyun tells him, trying to look as honest as he can.

“I am not stupid,” Joonmyun retorts, frowning. “I know something’s going on.” He takes a deep breath. “Did you know that Jongdae came to me telling me that he’s glad I’m taking care of you because he’s worried about you? I felt stupid because I didn’t know what he was talking about. I knew something was going on at work but the way he looked so concerned…” He shakes his head, smiling mockingly.

“I made a mistake,” Baekhyun decides to tell him. “I mixed up the books of two accounts and made the clients want to pull their accounts from us then I got demoted to doing dumb paperwork like an assistant for the account managers.” He throws his hands up in the air and rests it back on his lap. “That’s basically it. It’s not something I’d be proud to share with my boyfriend. I didn’t even really talk to Jongdae about it and we work together.”

“So what?” is Joonmyun’s response.

“So what?” Baekhyun repeats in disbelief. “So what? I’m not proud of it. I don’t just go on sharing my failures to just anyone. I don’t brandish my faults in case people decide to leave. I’d rather handle things myself. It’s better that way.”

“That’s the thing!” Joonmyun looks like he’s going to burst. His jaw is clenched so tightly that Baekhyun thinks he’s going to bite through his teeth. “I’m not just anyone! I’m your boyfriend! I don’t demand it but you’re supposed to be able to tell me anything. It would be nice if you actually trusted me not to judge you, Baekhyun, that you trust me to just listen and understand and be there for you. Actually it would just be nice if you trusted me period.”

Baekhyun is stunned. The words that have come out of Joonmyun’s mouth strangely brings him back to Jongdae’s and Taeyeon’s words. But he doesn’t care that they think that. They don’t matter in this relationship. But for Joonmyun to think the same things, for him to think that Baekhyun doesn’t value him, doesn’t trust him, well that’s just something else entirely. And it hurts.

“Of course I trust you. Joonmyun, you know me,” he says earnestly. “You knew me before and you’ve helped me so much that there’s no way for me not to trust you. How could you think that I don’t? How could you think that you’re not important to me?”

“If you did, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” Joonmyun points out. He runs a hand through his hair and squeezes his eyes shut. “I stand by what I’ve said before, Baek. I can’t be in a relationship where I’m made to feel like I don’t matter. I can’t keep on doing this with you. We can’t keep on doing this. You can’t just do whatever you like and ignore me and my feelings and then apologize and we start over. Ideally that’s how relationships work. But I’m not perfect and I get tired, too.”

Baekhyun is reminded of all the things that his other friends had told him when they found out about what he did. He can’t forget the frowns on their faces and the looks of frustration. They can’t understand why Baekhyun feels the need to leave Joonmyun, the need to break it off and he is just so tired of trying again and again to explain himself. Joonmyun isn’t perfect, but he’s perfect for Baekhyun. He’s perfect to Baekhyun. Who else would put up with him and keep loving him and taking care of him? Still, everyone has their limits, and Baekhyun doesn’t want to make Joonmyun a person who regrets loving, who regrets giving his all in a relationship.

This is his opening.

“I can’t keep on doing this either.” As soon as Baekhyun declares it, his heart starts to hurt and his hands start to tremble. He clasps them together to keep them from shaking too obviously. “I mean obviously this isn’t working out for the both of us.”

“Baekhyun,” Joonmyun starts, eyes wide.

“And I don’t want to put you through any more trouble,” Baekhyun goes on as if Joonmyun hasn’t spoken.

“Baekhyun, what are you doing?” Joonmyun demands, taking a couple of steps towards him, but Baekhyun gets up and backs away.

“I think it’s best, you see,” Baekhyun persists. “We’ve been having problems for a while now. You’re unhappy—”

“But it’s not reason enough for us to break up,” Joonmyun counters forcefully. “We’re just having problems and they can be fixed—”

Baekhyun forces himself to shake his head, lowering his gaze to the floor. “Im unhappy,” he lies, choking back a sob. “I tried really hard but in the end I just can’t do it.” He manages to look up and meet Joonmyun’s red-rimmed eyes. “I can’t do this. Not anymore.”

“You’re lying!” Joonmyun bites back. He grabs Baekhyun’s arm and pulls him closer. “You’re lying. You’re as in love with me as I am with you.”

“I’ve never told you that I love you,” Baekhyun returns, trying hard not to let his tears fall, although his face is already wet. It feels like a fist is squeezing his heart.

“Tell it to my face then,” Joonmyun challenges him. “Tell me you don’t love me.”

Baekhyun looks at Joonmyun and remembers all the things that made him fall in love with him. He sees all that he is and all that he has been to Baekhyun. Once upon a time, he saw a happily ever after with him. Not a perfect one, because there are no perfect relationship, but he saw one with Joonmyun anyway. It’s a shame that it can’t be a reality.

He tilts his chin up rather defiantly and says the words that will break both of their hearts. “I never have.”

Joonmyun drops his hands to his sides and steps away from Baekhyun, his hard eyes trained on the wall behind him. “Get out,” he says.

Baekhyun doesn’t need to be told twice.


 

÷





It’s a new year. He smiles as the sky light up, enjoying how the vastness of it doesn’t ever get crowded. Baekhyun’s always liked how the one look above already gave him hope that there are things that are limitless, that are unending, and full of possibilities. Like fireworks. There are fireworks in different colors and designs flashing in atmosphere. Fireworks are possibilities. But then, even possibilities fizzle out, too.

There’s a tug on his arm and he looks down to see Soyul offering him a piece of moon cake, although Baekhyun specifically told her that moon cakes are traditions for the Chinese new year. She wouldn’t listen though and still wanted the good luck it brings even if it’s only January first. He takes it from her and pops it into his mouth.

“You doing okay?” Baekhyun asks through the mouthful of moon cake and Soyul wrinkles her nose in disgust. “Are you sure you don’t want to go back inside?” He looks down to her belly, which has grown so much that Baekhyun’s always afraid that Soyul’s going to topple over. She’s so petite.

“I’m fine,” Soyul says, waving at him dismissively. “I like watching the fireworks like this, welcoming the New Year together. They say that the one you’re with at the start of the year is the one you’ll spend a lot of your year with.”

That makes sense considering that Baekhyun doesn’t plan on abandoning her and the baby right after she gives birth. She’s due in two months and the excitement has been building up. They’ve all the necessities, have seen her doctor, have consistently gone to classes and gone through the whole pregnancy checklist. They even have names already, one for if it’s a boy and one for if it ends up being a girl. They’ve decorated the baby room with light greens and yellows, which they both agreed is pretty neutral. Now, all they’re doing is pretty much just waiting for the baby to come.

“I think we should go back inside,” Baekhyun says, putting a hand on her back to usher her back through the balcony doors. “It’s getting too smoky and that’s bad for you.”

Soyul rolls her eyes but obeys him. She knows he’s right anyway and walks to the kitchen to start washing the plates and getting everything clean before settling in for the night. But Baekhyun stops her and tells her he’ll do it.

“You should get ready for bed,” he adds, opening the faucet. “I’ll get everything in order and make sure everything’s locked before I leave.”

“You can stay over, you know,” Soyul offers, like how she’s offered various times.

Their relationship has never really progressed to anything as more than parents for their baby. Baekhyun keeps thinking that he should at least feel anything romantic for her. They did have sex once, which resulted to this child, and he thinks it would be easier for everyone if they actually did end up together. Except he can’t.

When Baekhyun thinks of even trying to be anything more than friends with Soyul, Joonmyun’s face flashes in his mind like a reminder. He’s not sure what it’s supposed to remind him of, but it feels like a sign that he’ll never really love anyone like he does Joonmyun again.

They say time heals all wounds. But time also runs slow for the brokenhearted and time doesn’t really make one forget. The heart doesn’t change and the memories don’t go away. The funny thing is, when he was happy, he was glad that time had no limits. Now that he feels broken, he wished time had an end.

Not a day has gone by that he hasn’t thought of Joonmyun. Despite keeping busy, despite not giving himself time to think, Joonmyun is always there at the back of his head. He wonders how he’s doing, how his work at the museum is going, whether he’s eating regularly or if he remembers to turn the heat down when he goes to bed. Baekhyun can’t forget him no matter how hard he tries. This is probably his punishment.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Baekhyun tells her with a smile and Soyul rolls her eyes, amused, before going into the bedroom and closing the door behind her. He knows that she takes no offense in his rejection.

When he finishes washing the dishes and making sure that all the locks in the apartment are secure, he sees himself out. It’s a cold, cold night, still wintertime. Baekhyun raises his collar and zips up his jacket up to his chin, his breath coming out like puffs of smoke. He puts his hands in his pockets as he starts walking home.

Baekhyun’s taken to walking a lot ever since he left Joonmyun’s apartment. He finds it therapeutic. He walks and walks and walks and somewhere along the walking, in the midst of the sweat and the heavy breathing, Baekhyun forgets that his heart is hurting. He forgets that he screwed up and forgets that empty feeling of having lost everything.

He takes a deep breath, inhaling the chilly night air, unable to stop wondering about how Joonmyun is coping. He gets so cold easily, already freezing so much even just when it only started snowing. He must have turned his heat up really high in his apartment. Baekhyun chuckles at the thought.

Joonmyun really is the best thing that’s happened to him in the year that has past. Baekhyun thinks he grew a lot in the whole time he was finding his footing back into their relationship. He’d learned how to let go of his fears and learned how to be himself. He learned how to love, and not just with another person, not just with commitment. He also learned to love himself. Despite everything, Baekhyun thinks it’s still a win-win for both of them.

Looking up at the sky, he whispers, “Happy new year, Joonmyun.”


 

÷





“Soyul, do we really need to buy more stuff?” Baekhyun doesn’t care if he’s whining. He’s tired and also worried that Soyul is overexerting herself. He hates for shopping to be the reason why a sudden harm comes to their child.

“I just saw the cutest set of milk bottles here last week and I was going to buy them but I forgot,” Soyul explains. “Please!” She blinks prettily at him. “Just that one set and we’re gone. We don’t even have to stop by the supermarket to buy that blueberry ice cream that I’ve been craving for.”

Baekhyun sighs in defeat. As if he could say no to her buying the milk bottles as well as buying the ice cream. Pregnant women can be quite grumpy when they don’t get what they want so Baekhyun’s always just thought it best to give in to Soyul’s whims.

They walk into the store and Soyul makes a beeline for the baby section, immediately asking a sales lady to ask for the cute milk bottles. Baekhyun shakes his head and just browses randomly, looking at all the children’s toys. He grins as he takes a look at a couple of Legos and toy trucks, as well as some Barbie dolls.

Truth be told, Baekhyun is excited for the baby to be born. During the time they’ve been seriously shopping for the necessities, he kept on gravitating towards the books, the things he could teach their baby, the toys he could give him or her to play with. One of the things he’s learned the previous year is that he likes taking care of people when he’s given the chance to. This child is someone who needs his care especially and he just can’t wait to do so.

“I got it!” Soyul squeals as she waddles towards him. He gets it from her and examines it. They are cute. “Can you pay for it for me?” she asks as she takes her wallet out. “I just need go to the washroom for a second.”

Baekhyun pushes her wallet away and goes to the cashier to pay for it himself. Soyul always insists on paying for everything by herself, but Baekhyun never allows it. He wants to give his contribution. It’s their child. He’s not going to allow Soyul to shoulder everything. Taking his wallet out, he picks out a couple of bills and places it on the counter beside the item. When Baekhyun looks up, he gasps.

There’s no mistaking it… “Joonmyun?”


 

÷





Baekhyun is quiet during dinner. He slices his meat properly and chews quietly. This goes on for a few more minutes before Soyul puts her utensils down and sighs.

“Okay, what’s going on?” she demands, not unkindly.

“Nothing,” Baekhyun answers promptly, blinking innocently. “Why?”

“You’re too quiet,” Soyul explains, gesturing towards him. “You’re never quiet like this. There’s always something you’re saying or humming or tapping onto any surface, I don’t know. There’s something wrong. What is it?”

“Everything really is fine,” Baekhyun insists. And it really is. There really is no need to talk about certain things.

“C’mon, Baekhyun,” Soyul persists. “We may not be intimate with each other the way normal couples are, but we are parents to one kid and, at the very least, we’re friends. Talk to me once in a while.” Baekhyun fiddles with his spoon and fork for a while but doesn’t say anything. “Does this have something to do with that guy you saw at the store?”

Baekhyun looks at her and breathes deeply. He and Soyul have never talked about anything like this before. They’ve stayed away from personal details when they first met and when they met again; everything was just about the baby and nothing more. He figures he owes the mother of his child the truth.

“I’m gay,” he admits. It’s easier this time around. There isn’t even any hesitation anymore. Soyul just looks at him without any judgment, waiting patiently. “And Joonmyun is…” He smiles. “Well he was…” He stops himself and shakes his head. “He’s a part of my past.”

“Clearly he didn’t stay there,” Soyul says after a moment of contemplation. “Listen, I know you already know this but I’ll say it anyway: I wouldn’t have asked for so much of your time had I known you had someone. We’ve never gotten into any form of commitment with each other and I’m not going to start now.” She sighs. “Baekhyun, I would have let you gallivant around and have fun and be in love, which you clearly are,” she adds when he opens his mouth to deny it. “You are in love with him, Baekhyun. And that’s something you should be happy about and proud of. Not everyone gets to fall in love, not everyone finds love. You’ve been a great support to the baby and to me. I think it’s time you do something for yourself.” She smiles and reaches for his hand. “You should go to him.”


 

÷





It takes Baekhyun a while to muster up a lot of courage to meet up with Joonmyun. Seeing him again was such a shock that he barely said anything that made sense. When he’d walked out of Joonmyun’s apartment, he told himself that was that. It took a while to actually let go, but he already decided that he would because that was the whole point of the break up. Baekhyun wanted Joonmyun to be happy, while he wanted to be able to learn to be happy with the sudden changes in his life. But when Joonmyun stood before him, Baekhyun couldn’t help but ask himself why he ever wanted to let go. How could he have ever wanted Joonmyun out of his life?

“Baekhyun,” Joonmyun greets him simply, resting a hand against the railing.

Baekhyun asked to meet at a nearby park; somewhere that’s common ground. Although, this was the park where they had watched that black and white film. He smiles as he thinks about how long ago that feels.

“Hi,” Baekhyun says, smiling.

“So…” Joonmyun starts, leaning his back against the railing and looking over at the stretch of grass and the trees surrounding them. “This park.”

“It was the first place I thought of that wasn’t your apartment or mine,” Baekhyun explains. He takes a deep breath. “I just wanted to talk, to clear some things up.”

“I’m listening,” Joonmyun says expectantly.

“I wasn’t secure with who I was back then,” Baekhyun starts, trying to figure out how he wants to elaborate on things. “I was scared about coming out and was even unsure whether I wanted to come out or…” He shakes his head. “You already know all this. I don’t…” He laughs shakily. “I don’t know how to begin,” he confesses, feeling like he’s going to start crying. Being with Joonmyun again is making him tremble more than he expected.

“How about you start with Soyul?” Joonmyun suggests. They had met briefly at the store and it was in the top five of the most awkward moments in Byun Baekhyun’s life. “How did you meet her?”

“We were fighting then because of me and Jongdae,” Baekhyun relays. “I was angry and confused and I slept with her.”

“Why?” Joonmyun wants to know.

“Because being with a woman was something I knew how to deal with, something I was more familiar with then, and I wanted some sort of stability in the middle of the chaos that was in my head,” Baekhyun answers truthfully, searching for some sort of understanding in Joonmyun’s eyes. “I felt so bad and felt so disgusted with myself afterwards.”

“Is that why you were crying so hard?” Joonmyun continues. “Is that why you suddenly became this perfect boyfriend?”

“That wasn’t a lie, that wasn’t pretend,” Baekhyun immediately promises him, “but yes. Because it was such a big mistake on my part and I wanted to fix it. I didn’t want you to leave me, Joonmyun, so I had to try to make things work.” The memory makes him smile. “And they did.”

“They did,” Joonmyun repeats softly.

“When Soyul got pregnant, I knew we would eventually have to break up,” Baekhyun goes on. “So I just sort of eased us into it.”

“Did it help?” Joonmyun asks, almost demanding. “Did the easing out help you with the pain afterwards? Because it didn’t for me.”

Baekhyun looks away, blinking and feeling his eyelashes get wet. “No,” he whispers. “It didn’t.”

“When you left, I couldn’t understand what happened,” Joonmyun shares, smirking as he looked up at the sky. “We were fighting and that happens in any relationship but I wasn’t doing it to gear up for a break up. I didn’t know we were fighting towards that. Sure, I was upset. You were suddenly distant all over again, having all these secret meetings, not telling me your work problems, not telling me anything at all. But I never saw any of those as reasons to break up.” He taps the railing. “Not once have I ever thought about break up with you in the course of our relationship,” he tells him. “Not once.”

Tears spill down Baekhyun’s cheeks. This is another testament of how Joonmyun loved Baekhyun and how Baekhyun didn’t deserve it.

“What do you want from me, Baekhyun?” Joonmyun asks tiredly. “What do you want to come out of this conversation?”

“I don’t know,” Baekhyun mutters. “I guess I just want to say that I never meant to hurt you.” Joonmyun scoffs. “It’s cliché, I know, but it’s true. I thought that breaking up that way was less painful than if we were to break up because you found out I got someone pregnant.”

“It’s the same thing, Baekhyun,” Joonmyun clarifies. “You broke up with me precisely because you got someone pregnant. The only difference is that you never really factored me in all of it. If you had told me, if you had only talked to me…” He trails away and closes his eyes.

Baekhyun knows what he’s done. He knows it doesn’t even have anything to do with getting involved with someone whom he was not in a relationship with. It’s all him.

“Not everything is up to you, Baekhyun,” Joonmyun emphasizes. “The two of us were in the relationship. You could have trusted me to help make a decision, not just for you, but also for the both of us. Because it wasn’t just about you. It was my life, too.”

Baekhyun sobs. “I’m sorry.”

“Me, too,” Joonmyun whispers dejectedly.

“So what now?” Baekhyun hiccups, daring to meet Joonmyun’s gaze.

“What now, indeed,” Joonmyun sighs. “What do you want, Baekhyun?”


 

÷





Baekhyun is at work when the call comes. He grabs the bag they’ve packed for this very day and rushes into Jongdae’s office, telling him that it’s time and that he needs to go and that Jongdae should cover for him. Jongdae nods immediately and shoos him away, making him hurry.

In the cab, he fiddles with his phone, a new touch screen one that he’d bought the moment his old Blackberry died on him, scrolling up and down his contacts list anxiously. Soyul sounded breathless when she called him around ten minutes ago. Luckily, they had talked to her neighbor to help out when the time came and she was ushered properly into a cab and has safely reached the hospital. He’s still a couple of minutes away when he looks down at his phone and sees that he’s been scrolling Joonmyun’s name up and down.

When he reaches the hospital, he makes a quick decision and sends him a text as he rushes to the delivery room. Taeyeon rushes to him and hugs him, knowing that he’s worried about how the delivery will go, as well as the baby’s and Soyul’s safety.

“It’s only been a couple of minutes,” Taeyeon says.

It’s a lot of pacing and worrying and biting at fingernails. Baekhyun thinks he’s never been this anxious before. All he wants to do is go inside and check if Soyul and the baby are okay. He just wants to see them healthy and safe. Is this what it feels like to be a father? Is it going to be constant worrying and constant stress? He feels like he’s going to have a heart attack, like—

“Baekhyun.” Joonmyun lightly touches his arm and he jumps.

“Joonmyun,” Baekhyun breathes in some sort of relief, not entirely sure why. “You’re here.”

Joonmyun brows are furrowed in concern. “Are you okay?” he asks, glancing at the delivery room. “Is everything okay?”

“I don’t know. Everything’s fine so far. At least I think everything is fine, they don’t really tell us anything and we’ve been here for—” Baekhyun’s babbling stops when Joonmyun pulls him into a hug.

This is nice. They’re friends now. At least that’s what Baekhyun thinks they are. They have talked long and hard about what happened between them, about the fight that led to their break up, and everything that happened that led to that. Joonmyun was far more understanding than Baekhyun gave him credit for. It’s only then that he understood what Joonmyun meant by trust and commitment.

The doors to the delivery room open and the doctor walks out with a smile. “Congratulations! You have a baby boy.”


 

÷





“What are you doing here?” Joonmyun asks as he exits the museum, coming to stand beside Baekhyun among the pillars.

“Just to visit,” Baekhyun answers. “And to talk.” He smiles.

Making amends has never been one of Baekhyun’s strongest suits but he thinks he’s able to do so anyway. Ever since they talked, he’s been making an effort to gain Joonmyun’s friendship again and earn his trust. He thinks it’s been working since Joonmyun can already smile when he’s around. That, and they talk more, about everything and anything under the sun.

“How’s Shin?” Joonmyun asks, smiling at the thought of Baekhyun’s baby boy.

“Good,” Baekhyun says, grinning. “He’s with Soyul.” He chuckles. “He’s quite possibly the quietest baby I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t even cry a lot during the middle of the night.”

“Just wait until he grows older. He’s probably going to be a handful,” Joonmyun teases. “He is your son, after all.”

“That’s right,” Baekhyun declares with a proud nod. “He is my son.”

It’s true what they say about becoming a parent. There is so much love and joy in one tiny baby that your perspective on everything changes and the most important thing in your life becomes that little bundle. What Baekhyun loves the most is cradling the baby when he wakes up and he blinks awake, coming into awareness of his surroundings. Baekhyun always starts talking to him with Hi baby, I’m your papa. It makes his whole being swell with pride.

But in the midst of it all, Baekhyun hasn’t forgotten about Joonmyun. There really is no way to forget a love that is so ingrained in one’s person, especially a love that he had so much hope for.

“I came here to answer your question,” Baekhyun says, meeting Joonmyun’s curious eyes. “There are so many things I want, Joonmyun. I want for the flowers to bloom again. I want Shin to have a good life. I want Soyul to continue being a good mother. I want my old job back as well as try something new. I want to be happy. But most of all, I want you,” he takes a deep breath, “I’ve always wanted you, Joonmyun.”

Joonmyun doesn’t say anything for a while and Baekhyun holds his breath. This is a long shot. This is one of the bravest things he’s done in his life, but he remembers Kyungsoo asking him if Joonmyun is worth fighting for. Yes, Baekhyun thinks. Joonmyun is definitely worth fighting for, and he’s going to try really hard to do so.

“Are you asking me to give you another chance?” Joonmyun says. Baekhyun nods nervously. “Really? Didn’t we go through this before?”

“This time will be different,” Baekhyun tells him sincerely.

“How can you be so sure?” Joonmyun hedges.

“I can’t be sure. I can’t predict the future,” Baekhyun truthfully answers. “But I’m going to try even harder than the last time. I think I didn’t try hard enough. This time there aren’t going to be any excuses. I’m going to fight for you, Joonmyun. This is me fighting for you. I want to keep you.”

“Are you being romantic?” Joonmyun narrows his eyes but Baekhyun doesn’t miss the smile that’s lingering on the corners of his lips. “And here I thought chivalry was dead.”

“Not between me and you,” Baekhyun corrects, shaking his head. He takes another deep breath and plunges on. “Will you let me try once more, Joonmyun? Will you give me another chance?”

Joonmyun purses his lips for a bit and then he laughs, shaking his head. “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” he says, mostly to himself. He gives Baekhyun an appraising look. “One,” he underscores, raising his pointer finger up.

Baekhyun tears up a little when he sees Joonmyun’s smile, the one that he loves so much, the one that shows his kind heart and his hopefulness and faith. It’s the smile that tells Baekhyun that Joonmyun is still in love with him.

“One is all I need,” Baekhyun agrees with a bright smile.








--


A/N:

Thank you to 

[livejournal.com profile] superbyeol92  for the prompt. I hope you liked it.
Thank you to k, l, b, j. I love you guys!

 




charliebnim: (Default)

[personal profile] charliebnim 2014-02-01 07:40 pm (UTC)(link)
perfection indeed <3

;A;

(Anonymous) 2014-07-17 10:35 pm (UTC)(link)
can I claim a spot?
I'm on phone, will bback when I'm on PC later
I've a lot of things in my mind ;A;

Re: ;A;

[identity profile] ohplumbaby.livejournal.com 2014-07-18 03:17 pm (UTC)(link)
1st of all, would you be my friend?
do you have twitter?

Junmyun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(๑′ڡ‵๑)۶४४yϋᵐᵐӵ♡॰⋆̥
the Junmyun here!!!!!! lemme hug him tight and pat him (or pet him?? xD)

I won’t comment on how great this fic is because this is perfection, enough said,
my lame comment won’t do anything justice to your fic cz I can’t do good comment, if I have to quote, I’ll rewrite the entire fic xD

You don’t know what a happy fangirl I am to find your fic out of nowhere (not really, I find it trough google (●´艸`))

It’s a fate, a gr9 fate that I stumble upon this, again.
It is'nt my 1st time reading this, I’ve read this the day it's posted on thebaekfest (aaaaaah so it's thebaekfest)
I reaaally want to comment and worship the author at the revealing day (though I rarely /if not never/ make any comment, I’m too scared to reveal myself, I’m an awkward turtle) because this fic is gem the plot the problem the characterization the drama the reality the everything is perfect you don’t sprinkle too much sweet thats what makes it seems real

buuuuuuuut my forgetfull meter is at Lay’s level so.../sighs/

I remember this fic immediately the moment Baek breaks several Baek stan’s hearts (LOL I don’t know if you know what I mean, I’m sure you know though >_<)
At that time, I feel like having de ja vu, I think the real condition now IS the beginning of your au in this fic. Don’t get me wrong, I do wish them to be happy and last for long but we, as fans, are allowed to have fantasy that’s why fanfic exists, aren’t we?
And I try to find this fic immediately to tell you how’s my feeling at that moment (not that my feeling is important for anyone I just /need/ to tell you)
so, I try to call my memory for what is the title of the fic or who is the author but I can’t remember anything even where do i read the fic (me and my poor memory) All I remember is the fic is so so so great.
But I don't stop to try harder till this morning, I just remember human have the great searching machine called google (bless whoever made it I can’t really remember who is it atm) and try several key words and wow WOW WOW WOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW, yeah... wow...

Google did its wonder ╰( ´・ω・)つ──☆✿✿✿✿✿✿

I hope I’m not creeping you out, I can’t talk nicely to someone new, but please know that I like –noooo scratch that- I LOVE this fic so damn much really I think I can’t express it enough and of course
I love you ♡o。(๑๏‿ฺ๏๑)。o♡

please continue writing i'll support you with all my might
fighting~



I wish I have my passion back so I can write again (>/////<)

(Anonymous) 2018-02-18 08:13 pm (UTC)(link)
Baek was so cruel ahhh I was crying while reading it till the end junmyeon my boy 😭😭😭😭😭 he loved him so much...

(Anonymous) 2018-02-18 08:13 pm (UTC)(link)
But I loved it....