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[exo] hand in hand (we swim in our sins) {1/2}

hand in hand (we swim in our sins)
chanyeol/baekhyun ; r ; supernatural, romance ; 18000 words
Chanyeol and Baekhyun fall in love in the most unconventional of ways. This is the story of their love’s decadence, and how they pick up the pieces. Written for sncj_bigbang 2013.

a/n: originally posted here! i've lost track of how many times i've said this but i disliked this. a lot. lol i came across a lot of difficulties while writing this which were probably because i was overthinking things!!! but anyway i was surprised that people actually like it and i am touucchhhedddd sobs ALSO WRITTEN WITH kei17 ON MY MIND BECAUSE I LOVE MY POTATO ♥♥♥ beta-ed by nicole as usual i hate to admit this but what would i do without you



Dear true love,
I’m a farewell that came all too soon,
A hand-me-down with dreams of being new,
When I’m without you

Sleeping At Last - Dear True Love





Chanyeol’s breathing is loud in the stagnant air of night time. His chest rises and falls heavily with each breath, and soft, plush lips slightly open in a quiet snore. His eyelids shudder a little when the bed dips, but he slumbers on, oblivious to the world.

Baekhyun kneels behind him, and in his hand is an arrow: made of ash wood, with white feathers on one end and a cruel grey point in the other. The arrow sits lightweight on Baekhyun’s palm, but to him, it feels like he is holding the world. His face contorts in pain only he can feel as he brings the arrow to point towards his sleeping lover’s back. Baekhyun hesitates, hands shaking a little. It never gets easier, no matter how many times he’s done this.

He plunges the tip into Chanyeol’s back.

The arrow dissolves into golden sand that covers Chanyeol’s form for a moment, before disintegrating into smaller particles that seep into Chanyeol’s skin. He can still feel the smooth wood of the arrow in his palm, the coolness of the metal tip on the pads of his fingers.

Baekhyun holds his breath as Chanyeol stirs, and opens sleepy eyes to find Baekhyun behind him. He smiles sweetly, and Baekhyun trips. He falls headfirst even deeper into a love he was never supposed to feel in the first place.

“Baek, what are you doing still awake?” he asks, voice scratchy and thick with sleep.

“I just...” Baekhyun’s voice trails off, and he lets himself be pulled down until he tumbles into Chanyeol’s chest, Chanyeol’s arms wrapping around him protectively. Baekhyun inhales. Chanyeol’s neck smells like new books and cologne and everything Baekhyun wasn’t -- isn’t -- allowed to have.

“I love you,” he chokes out. The words scratch their way up from the bottom of his chest and tears at his throat, but they are sincere. “I love you so much.”

“I know,” Chanyeol hums happily, although he’s frowning a little at the tone of Baekhyun’s voice. He pushes a large hand against the back of Baekhyun’s head to press him to his chest so he’ll shut up. “I love you too, Baekhyun. Now go to sleep.”

He does not. Chanyeol’s I love you too echoes in his head like bullets to the sky.





hand in hand (we swim in our sins)





A burst of pink tints the afternoon sky, like a sudden starburst and it’s too bright; Baekhyun winces and closes his eyes for a split second. When he opens them, Luhan is sitting next to him, smiling jovially and swinging his legs back and forth. His dusty sneakers hit the side of the roof with dull thunks, and Baekhyun scoots over to make more room for him.

“How are you?” Luhan asks.

The city spreads out below them, blinking lights and roads that taper off to the horizon like grey snakes. The people are so far away beneath them, like toy soldiers in a tiny toy city. Baekhyun wonders absently how they are supposed to matter in the grand scheme of things, how he matters, how anyone does in a world so big. He shrugs his reply to Luhan.

Luhan nods once, as if he understands what Baekhyun means (he probably does). He gathers his knees to his chest and leans his head on Baekhyun’s shoulder, snuggling into his side. They’ve known each other for too long it’s impossible to not be able to fit so well against each other like this. The arrows Luhan carries around clatter against each other in their quiver, the upper limb of the bow Luhan slings around his shoulder digs into Baekhyun’s ribs, but he doesn’t say anything. He can conjure the image of the arrows in his mind as clear as if he’s holding it right now. That horrible, gnawing feeling chews him from the inside out again.

They sit on the edge of the roof in the dying light, two friends, equally broken though in different ways, and as the sun gives way to stars, the world caves in, trapping them beneath.


-


In retrospect, love with Chanyeol has always been easy. Easy decisions, easy silences and comfort, easy Sunday mornings with the sheets tangled around their legs and their bodies around each other. And although it was easy, it was never boring -- Baekhyun always finding delight in each of Chanyeol’s smiles like it was the first time, laughing along at every joke he tells, lame or not.

Like now -- they are sitting facing each other in a small ramen bar down the street from their apartment, eating out because it’s Baekhyun’s turn to cook dinner but he’s lazy. Chanyeol slurps loudly at the soup of his extra spicy, mega-size udon noodles, scrunching his eyes and his whole face adorably as he chews and swallows quickly. His face is red, and there are tears in the corners of his eyes as he gasps for air, fanning his cheeks with his hands in an attempt to get rid of the burning in his mouth.

Baekhyun laughs out loud while Chanyeol gurgles helplessly, and everyone in the diner turns their heads to look at them.

Chanyeol reaches for his glass of water but it’s empty. He whines pitifully and flails his obnoxiously long arms around, almost hitting a passing waitress. “Water! Waterrrrrrr!” he yells. “Baekhyun, get me water!”

“No. You came up with this game yourself,” Baekhyun replies calmly, spooning the just-as-spicy, just-as-big noodles into his mouth and then swallowing it down easily. Baekhyun’s glass is also empty, but it wasn’t him who drank the water, it was Chanyeol too. He laughs evilly as Chanyeol presses his hands to his ears, eyes scrunched up tight, face even more flushed than before and shaking his head ridiculously. Trust his boyfriend to come up with a game of Finish the Extra Spicy Mega Udon First Or Pay the Bill, and simultaneously forgetting Baekhyun’s incredible tolerance for spicy food.

Finally Baekhyun takes pity on him -- the poor boy looks like he can’t even see straight anymore -- and gets up to refill both glasses at the condiments table. He can still hear Chanyeol’s whimpering from a few tables behind him as he fills the first glass, can hear Chanyeol’s head thudding rhythmically against the tabletop.

The tiny noodle bar is quite crowded tonight, despite it being a weeknight. Baekhyun sweeps his eyes over the customers as he waits for the second glass to fill; a high-school couple, still in their uniforms; four men winding off after work, ties loose around their necks; a group of giggling girls in skimpy short dresses (one of them catches his eye and winks at him; Baekhyun suppresses his shudder and smiles back awkwardly out of politeness); and a man sitting alone in the far corner.

Baekhyun squints, trying to see the lone man’s face. He looks familiar, but Baekhyun can’t think of where he’s seen this person before. The stranger is wearing a grey beanie over bleached-blond hair, a green jacket, and casual jeans. His features are striking and handsome, defined eyebrows, straight nose, and sharp chin, but there’s a strange kind of sadness in his eyes, enveloping his form. His shoulders are hunched over like he’s trying to forget the fact that he’s all alone here, while everyone else has someone to be with. He looks miserable, Baekhyun concludes, face falling as well because he feels sorry for him.

And then a waitress comes with his order, and the stranger’s expression clears. He looks up and smiles gratefully at the girl, pulling the bowl closer. Baekhyun is still trying to remember where he’s seen the man before as all the mellow aura seems to have disappeared from the man when he tucks in to his food, smiling slightly as he slurps a big spoonful of soup.

And then it hits him.

Baekhyun’s inhale stops halfway down his throat and disperses, and he chokes back a gasp. His lips press to a thin line and he tears his gaze from the stranger, taking the two glasses of water back to his table, where Chanyeol is waiting and eagerly stamping his feet. Baekhyun sets the glass on the table, face stiff, and motions for Chanyeol to be quick.

As Chanyeol drinks noisily in the background, Baekhyun’s ears buzz with anxiety. He takes out his wallet and pulls out some notes, enough for their meals, and lays it on the table. How could that person be here? Is this just a coincidence? Or is this planned? Baekhyun looks up to the ceiling, biting his lips worriedly.

Chanyeol, who had gulped down all the water, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and frowns at the money on the table. “But... we haven’t even finished the food?” he asks, confused.

“Never mind,” Baekhyun forces out a smile, tugging at Chanyeol’s wrist insistently. “The portion’s too big for me, and I’m sure you can’t stand it anyway. Let’s go home. If you’re still hungry I’ll whip something up for you.”

Chanyeol still looks confused, but complies, standing up and pulling on his coat.





The stranger with the beanie looks up just in time to see the two leave the diner, purely because his eyes are drawn to the movement. The bells above the door jingle merrily as they exit, the taller one’s arm slung over the other’s shoulders, but he doesn’t give them much thought and goes back to his food.


-

“How are you?”

Baekhyun shrugs in answer as Luhan settles next to him on the balcony, slipping his legs between the metal bars of the railing so they dangle like Baekhyun’s. His friend gives him a worried look, but then quickly turns his gaze to the horizon, sighing softly.

“How’s Chanyeol?”

Baekhyun frowns and stares at him confusedly. Luhan had never asked anything other than a simple ‘how are you’ when he comes to visit. Why did he suddenly ask such a strange question? But Luhan only stares back challengingly.

“He’s fine,” Baekhyun replies hesitantly, unsure of where this is heading. Whether Luhan is genuinely curious or if he had something else in mind.

“Do you still love him?”

“Of course.”

They lapse to silence, each lost in their own respective minds. Baekhyun watches as Luhan runs his fingers along the string of the bow in his lap, nails catching against it. He misses the feel of his own bow in his grip, the smooth, supple wood pressed against his palm. But then he remembers the reason he gave it up, and the feeling of nostalgia vanishes.

Luhan’s arrows clatter in the quiver as he bends down to peer into Baekhyun’s face, once again biting his lips and looking worried. Baekhyun hates it, hates that look because it means that he’s being pitied, that he’s being viewed as a weak thing.

He brushes away Baekhyun’s bangs from his eyes and straightens up, although the worry hasn’t disappeared from his eyes. “You don’t look so good. Would you like me to bring you some ambrosia?”

Baekhyun’s jaw tightens and his hands ball to fists. “No,” he answers in a low voice. At the change of atmosphere around Baekhyun, Luhan seems to have realized his mistake, and flinches visibly. “And I’ve told you God-knows how many times not to mention any of that again. So, please.”

Luhan sighs. The sound hangs heavy in the air, thick and bitter. “I’m just worried for you, Baekhyun.”

“Then don’t be,” Baekhyun replies simply. Luhan sighs again.

The sliding door behind them that connects the balcony to the rest of the apartment grates open, and Baekhyun looks up to see Chanyeol grinning down at him, hands in his pockets, hair still dripping from his shower. Something stirs in Baekhyun’s stomach. Luhan is nowhere to be seen.

(How do you know what love is? What it looks like? What it tastes like? Do you search for it? Or will it come to you? Is there a set of criteria for deciding yes, this is love? Does it feel like the world is crashing down upon you, or is it a slow, purposeful revelation that slowly settles in the marrow of your bones? Will it stay? How long will it stay?)

Baekhyun gets dragged up by Chanyeol’s arms underneath his armpits, and then thrown over the taller’s left shoulder, kicking and screaming and laughing. Chanyeol then dumps him on the couch, and Baekhyun’s elbow bangs against the table and goddamnit it hurts, but he doesn’t protest, can’t. Not when Chanyeol is licking his way into Baekhyun’s mouth, lips moving against Baekhyun’s like they are murmuring secrets and sweet nothings only they know. His large hands cradle Baekhyun’s head like it’s a collection of loose flower petals, and the gesture is so gentle and intimate it makes Baekhyun’s chest ache.

He breaks away for a gasp of air because he’s getting light-headed, and Chanyeol is staring down at him, eyes half-mast and misty.

(This could be it. Galaxies in Chanyeol’s eyes, the myriad of supernovae blinding him. The taste of Chanyeol’s spearmint toothpaste in between his teeth and the deep hunger inside him, the thirst for a kiss or a touch or a moment to look upon his face and think this is where all my journeys end.)

Chanyeol kisses him again, and Baekhyun wraps his legs around Chanyeol’s waist to pull him in so they’re neck to neck, torso to torso, hip to hip, and with one hand holding the back of Chanyeol’s head close to him, Baekhyun reaches out his other arm. An ashwood arrow materializes there, solid and heavy in Baekhyun’s palm.

The tip goes into Chanyeol’s back easily, as if it is made of putty and not flesh. Baekhyun twists the arrow in deeper, just to make sure, as it begins to disappear again. He smoothes his palm over where the arrow was buried into the skin, soothing rubs that make Chanyeol growl and kiss him even more vigorously than before.

Baekhyun wrenches his eyes open and he sucks in a much needed breath as Chanyeol’s mouth leaves his to kiss and lick at his neck. And as his clumsy hands start unbuttoning Baekhyun’s shirt, fireworks explode in front of his eyes, in colours that don’t exist.


-


The next time Baekhyun sees the stranger (or not-stranger) from the ramen bar is about a week later, in the supermarket where he works at. Baekhyun had been restocking the cereals shelves, toes tapping against the squeaky floor to the beat of Sonyuhshidae’s Tell Me Your Wish (That’s right, I love you! I always believe in you! Coco Pops. Dreams and passions, I want to give them all to you! Kellog’s Corn Flakes. I’m a good luck goddess that wants to make your dreams come true. Own-brand, best-buy corn flakes. Tell me your wish! Honey Stars. I’m Genie for you boy-- oh), when from the corner of his eyes, he sees someone approaching him. Baekhyun nearly drops the five boxes of Weetabix he’s holding.

“Hey, uh, excuse me?” the man he saw at the ramen bar stops in front of him, a lost look on his face. Baekhyun’s palms start to sweat, and his heart is beating a million miles an hour; he wants to run, to go home and take Chanyeol away where they -- he -- won’t be haunted by this person again. The man is extremely handsome up-close, all sharp angles and piercing gaze, even when he’s confused like now. “Can you tell me in which aisle you keep spices? I can’t seem to find it.”

Baekhyun can hear the faint foreign accent tainting the man’s Korean, and in the back of his mind, he wonders where he’s from. He clears his throat, hoping to mask his nervousness but probably failing, judging by the look the man has on his face.

“It’s aisle B, about halfway down, on the right shelf,” Baekhyun answers. “You’re not -- you’re not from here, are you?”

The man raises his eyebrows. “How did you know?”

“Oh, it’s just your Korean is a bit accented, is all.”

“Yeah, I’m Chinese, but I’ve lived in Canada my whole life. I moved to Korea five years ago. I guess some things don’t disappear.” He shrugs. “I’ve just moved to this neighbourhood two weeks ago, though, so I don’t really know where everything is.”

This neighbourhood. Baekhyun’s throat dries up. “Oh.”

“Yeah,” he nods, not sensing Baekhyun’s discomfort this time. “So... I’ll see you around?”

The man smiles kindly, and Baekhyun grips the box of cereal in his hand hard to keep himself from bolting away.

“Yeah. It was nice to meet you.”


-


Fate is something one cannot just ignore. Run away from it, and it will catch up to you sooner or later. Baekhyun knows this better than anyone. But he seemed to have forgotten it for a while, lulled to a false sense of security what with the mundanity of living with Chanyeol had brought.

But now it’s right behind him, yapping at his heels viciously. And Baekhyun is getting tired of running. He humours the possibility of stopping and letting fate catch up to him, but then imagines the heartache and consequences it will only bring, and shivers, pushing the thought away.

He’ll have to do something, very soon.

There are only three arrows left in his old quiver that he hides under a loose floorboard in the spare bedroom. He can’t go up there to retrieve some more, not when he’s broken probably every single rule concerning his former job. And with that man moving in the neighbourhood, the situation is getting dire. Baekhyun’s mind whirrs with panic as he carefully places the floorboard back so it looks like it was never moved in the first place.

What should he do?

When he walks out to the living room, Luhan is sitting on the couch, flipping through television channels with his legs propped up on the coffee table. Baekhyun frowns; even he and Chanyeol never do that. He shoves Luhan’s legs off with his foot, and Luhan grins playfully as Baekhyun settles next to him.

“There’s this guy I’m supposed to shoot,” Luhan begins, his tone light and conversational. Baekhyun scoots closer, interested. He likes it when Luhan shares with him what his tasks are. It always makes Baekhyun feel nostalgic, sometimes a little sad, but it’s a nice kind of ache. “Cute kid. He’s graduating high school at the end of the year.”

Baekhyun nods, smiling to himself. He likes it when people fall in love and find their soul mates when they are eighteen. It means more time to be together, more years to learn each other’s quirks and personality and to love them for it. But then again, he always likes it when people fall in love, whenever, wherever. He’s such a hopeless romantic (but to be fair, he was made to be so).

“You haven’t done it?” Baekhyun asks, and Luhan shakes his head. “Why?”

He shrugs. “No order from up high yet. I’ll just watch him for the time being.”

“You have to take me when you do it, please?” Baekhyun pleads, gripping the elder’s arm. Luhan laughs, ruffling his hair so they stick up in one side.

“Will do,” he promises solemnly, crossing his heart.

They fall silent, quietly watching an old rerun of a variety show when Luhan finally settles on a channel. But Baekhyun’s mind isn’t on the show. It’s on his three leftover arrows, and the man who Baekhyun thought he’d never see again.

“Luhan,” Baekhyun starts, and Luhan hums in acknowledgement. “When fate catches up to you... what do you do?”

His friend turns to him, face blank. “That is a very cryptic question. I’m not even sure what you mean by ‘fate’. But,” he holds up a hand when he sees that Baekhyun is about to protest. “You face it, I guess. I assume this is a problem? Treat it like how you treat all your problems: face it. The sooner the better.”

Baekhyun gulps. “But if I face it, I might lose something very... dear to me.”

“Is this about Chanyeol?”

“No,” Baekhyun lies quickly. Luhan doesn’t look convinced, but he doesn’t pursue the subject. He sighs, but lets the matter drop.

“Look, I can hear Chanyeol coming up the stairs with takeout. Why don’t you get your mind off it for a while with food and video games with him for the night, until you can ask yourself what you want and what you have to do, and answer it truthfully.” Baekhyun opens his mouth again, about to argue, but Luhan beats him to it. “I don’t even understand what you want to ask me Baekhyun, and you’re not telling me properly. Doesn’t this show that really you want to work this out on your own? All I can say is that whatever you do, I’m with you every step of the way, okay? I have to go now, Chanyeol’s at the front door.”

“Luhan, wait --” Baekhyun makes to grab at his sleeve but his friend had vanished. He growls in annoyance just as the front door scrapes open (they’ve yet to fix the door) and Chanyeol announces loudly that he’s home.


-


Chanyeol has lunch with Baekhyun every Wednesdays and Thursdays, the days when he can sneak out and disappear for an extra fifteen minutes during break because it’s when the new intern kid in his office works and covers for him. They sit on the steps outside the back door of the supermarket Baekhyun works at, eating noodles that are still slightly hard from takeout cardboard boxes and sharing a cigarette. Most of the time Chanyeol will be showing Baekhyun the newest rap he came up with and Baekhyun will do his best to hum along, but sometimes they’ll also have more serious discussions about paying the bills and whether they should move to a place a little further away from the town center. The rent is slowly eating up more and more of their combined income every quarter year. Sometimes they’ll sit side by side quietly, eating lunch and smoking in silence, the length of Baekhyun’s left thigh pressed to Chanyeol’s right one, knees knocking together.

Whether they are being loud and annoying or quiet, lunch dates have always been an enjoyable affair, and Baekhyun wouldn’t miss one for the world. Today they are singing a rendition of Jason Mraz’s hits, Chanyeol collapsing into fits of giggles at Baekhyun’s English mispronunciations. He slaps his knee and laughs even harder when Baekhyun’s voice cracks at the end of the note. Baekhyun wants to punch his face in.

There’s somebody coming towards them, headed for the main street at the end of the alley. Baekhyun hits Chanyeol and hisses at him to behave himself, accidentally hitting him harder than he intended and pushing Chanyeol’s nose into his noodles. He only feels slightly regretful, but it all evaporates when he sees who is walking nearer and nearer.

The man Baekhyun had wished so hard to never see again slows his steps when he recognises Baekhyun, face lighting up in a smile. Chanyeol looks between them, eyebrows rising. Baekhyun fights the urge to cover Chanyeol’s eyes and take him away.

“Hello,” the man greets, friendly. “Lunch break?”

Baekhyun hesitates for a fraction of a second, and then nods twice, not wanting to be rude. Beside him, Chanyeol is staring, silently inquiring. Baekhyun wishes the man would leave already; why did he stop? They’ve only talked two sentences to each other before. His eyes dart to Chanyeol when Chanyeol nudges his knee to Baekhyun’s, and fear rises like acid in Baekhyun’s throat.

“I’m Kris,” he says, scratching the back of his head absentmindedly. “I didn’t catch your name last time.”

Great, just great, Baekhyun thinks. The last thing he wants is give this man -- Kris -- a way to find him. And he doesn’t want to draw suspicion on himself, what with Chanyeol next to him. “Baekhyun,” he replies, rather stiffly. Chanyeol nudges his knee harder and Baekhyun tries to not tremble. “And this is Chanyeol.”

Chanyeol grins and shakes Kris’ hand, saying, “Nice to meet you Kris. I’m Baekhyun’s boyfriend.”

Kris only looks a little surprised for a fraction of a second, before his face is schooled back into a casual smile. Baekhyun wishes this was just some terrible dream, that Kris had never moved in to the neighbourhood, that Baekhyun and Chanyeol could continue to live peacefully.

But of course it’s not. Kris waves goodbye with a promise to See you guys around, glancing back at Baekhyun once more before continuing to walk out of the alley. When he’s turned the corner, Chanyeol pouts and huffs irritably, jabbing his noodles with renewed vigor. Baekhyun stares at him, perplexed.

“What’s got your panties in a bunch,” he mutters, shovelling more food into his mouth.

“That dude was checking you out.”

Baekhyun stops, and turns his head, confused.

“What?”

Chanyeol hangs his head, face in a frown, but the tips of his ears are red. “I said,” he mumbles, free hand fixing his hair distractedly. “Kris was checking you out. That’s not allowed.”

Baekhyun doesn’t think he’s serious, but there’s no humour in Chanyeol’s face, just pure frustration and some anger which in turn makes Baekhyun laugh. He laughs so hard until his stomach aches, until tears roll down his cheeks from the bizarreness of the situation. Beside him, Chanyeol whines and hits his arm. When Baekhyun calms down, he ruffles Chanyeol’s hair with an affectionate smile, crooning the chorus of What Makes You Beautiful that Chanyeol dislikes so much.


-


Chanyeol is distracted, and not being his usual eager self when Baekhyun climbs into his lap and starts kissing his neck. His hands rest idle on each sides of Baekhyun’s waists, not pulling closer but not pushing away either. He kisses like his mind is somewhere else, lips lazy and slow against Baekhyun’s mouth, and it makes Baekhyun pull away for a while to peer into his eyes. Chanyeol stares back, but his gaze is rather dull, expression almost blank.

“What’s wrong?” Baekhyun asks, although he knows why. He kisses the corner of Chanyeol’s mouth, and then his chin, and then laps his tongue over his adam’s apple. Chanyeol gulps as Baekhyun traces the skin just above his shirt collar with his lips, pulling at the fabric with his teeth.

“It’s nothing,” Chanyeol replies, lifting his arms helpfully when Baekhyun tugs his shirt up. “Nothing.” As if to convince himself.

“If you say so.”

He stands up and pulls Chanyeol with him, who towers over Baekhyun with a frown on his face. They look at each other in silence for a while, Baekhyun’s fingers curled loosely around Chanyeol’s hips and one of Chanyeol’s hand cradling the back of Baekhyun’s head. Chanyeol’s breathing is slow and steady, his chest rising and falling in an easy rhythm and Baekhyun tries to match his heartbeats to it. Baekhyun places his hands on Chanyeol’s shoulders, bracing himself, before jumping and wrapping his legs around the taller’s waist. Chanyeol catches him easily, and Baekhyun immediately begins kissing up and down the column of Chanyeol’s neck as he carries him to their bedroom.

To his credit, Chanyeol didn’t manage to hit anything on the way, despite his eyes being mostly closed as he groans softly at Baekhyun’s ministrations. Baekhyun is dropped to the bed and he grunts as he bounces slightly, chuckling when Chanyeol crawls up to cover Baekhyun’s body with his own. He grinds his hips down unexpectedly and Baekhyun cries out in surprise, feeling the hard line of Chanyeol’s cock against his thigh.

Chanyeol leans down to kiss him, a little desperately this time, and when he grinds down again, Baekhyun takes his opportunity to wrap his legs around Chanyeol’s waist and keep him there. At the same time, his left hand tangles into Chanyeol’s hair and pushes him deeper into the kiss, while his right hand reaches out, silently calling for an arrow.

Baekhyun waits, but his hand remains empty.

Confused, he tries again, using the power of his mind to call for an arrow but still his hand clutches at air. He breaks away from the kiss with a gasp, lightheaded and panicked at the same time. His right palm lays up, fingers splayed, waiting for something that doesn’t come.

“What’s wrong?” It’s Chanyeol who asks this time, following Baekhyun’s line of vision to his hand as he licks and kisses the side of his mouth. Chanyeol’s arms tugs him closer, hands finding their way under Baekhyun’s shirt to tweak his nipples. Baekhyun gasps, and turns his attention back to Chanyeol. He will worry about that later.

“Nothing.” He tries to smile, and before Chanyeol could respond, Baekhyun’s cups Chanyeol’s cock through his sweatpants and starts palming roughly. The taller lets out a broken moan, eyes fluttering closed as he pushes his hips towards Baekhyun’s hand.

He lets Chanyeol fuck his mouth hard after that, Baekhyun on his knees, shirt still on but pants gone and his own cock hanging heavy and neglected between his legs. With every thrust into his throat, Baekhyun gags slightly, eyes watering in discomfort, but it is a good distraction. Chanyeol presses the back of Baekhyun’s head, until Baekhyun’s face is directly against his navel when he comes, shooting his load down Baekhyun’s throat. Baekhyun swallows, working his throat around Chanyeol’s cock to milk him right through his orgasm and Chanyeol cries out on the third time from oversensitivity.

Chanyeol pulls out of Baekhyun’s mouth with a wet noise, hands softly stroking Baekhyun’s hair as he trembles from arousal. He hoists Baekhyun up and lays him on the bed, frowning as he wipes Baekhyun’s tears away. Baekhyun didn’t even realise he was crying.

“Did I hurt you?” Chanyeol asks quietly, worry marring his features.

A heavy feeling settles against Baekhyun’s chest, cutting his airway and putting pressure on his lungs. Chanyeol looks so genuinely anxious for him, eyes roving for any damage, thumb rubbing circles to Baekhyun’s cheekbone soothingly. The feeling quickly poisons his whole system, and it hurts to move, to breathe; Baekhyun feels like crying but he can’t, not now. Chanyeol’s worry looks so real and Baekhyun tries to convince himself that it is, it is.

“I’m fine, I just. Chanyeol.” He tugs at his own hard, leaking cock and moans, hoping to distract Chanyeol away from questions.

Chanyeol seems to get the message. But instead of wrapping his hands around Baekhyun’s cock and jerking him off like he expected, Chanyeol reaches to the bedside drawer and withdraws a bottle of lube, eyes dark and serious, making Baekhyun whimper. Baekhyun’s hand is swatted away and Chanyeol proceeds to fuck Baekhyun hard and fast and rough with three fingers. He comes with a long drawn-out yell of Chanyeol’s name, untouched, back arching off the bed in pleasure.

The room is draped in near-silence after that, the only sounds being the lovers’ breathing as they lay curled against each other. Chanyeol falls asleep almost straight away, tension bleeding out of his limbs as he relaxes into the sheets and Baekhyun’s hand lazily drawing shapes against his back. But Baekhyun is wide awake, and as soon as he’s sure Chanyeol is completely asleep, he puts on the first pair of pants he finds in the dark, almost stumbling over the too-long leg because it turns out to be Chanyeol’s, and tiptoes out to look under the loose floorboard in the spare bedroom.

The quiver is empty.


-


When Luhan waltzes in through the balcony door the next day, humming pleasantly to himself, it is to find Baekhyun on the couch with his knees to his chest, eyes staring blankly at the dead television. He stops, surprised, and then frowns as he stomps to stand right in front of his friend.

“Home early from work?” Luhan greets, but Baekhyun is silent, still staring fixedly on the black screen. “Alright, what’s going on now.” He clicks his tongue impatiently when Baekhyun doesn’t answer straight away. Baekhyun’s eyes focuses and looks up at him. Then he sighs and turns his head to the side, resting his cheek on his knees without saying a word.

“Go away, Luhan,” he finally mumbles when Luhan refuses to move from his spot, arms crossed in front of his chest.

“Not until you tell me what’s going on.”

Baekhyun sighs again, a long-suffering kind of exhale and Luhan grins, bopping his friend’s head playfully.

“It’s not something you really want to know,” he shrugs, and when he looks up, Luhan thinks Baekhyun’s eyes dart to his shoulder, where his arrow ends poke out of the quiver. But it might be just him. “Chanyeol’s being grumpy this week. He left me with only my hand since Monday! Imagine that!”

Immediately Luhan’s face twists in distaste, backing away from a distressed Baekhyun. “Thanks for the info, but no thanks, Baekhyun. That was TMI.”

Baekhyun sneers. “You asked for it.”

Luhan narrows his eyes at Baekhyun before he pulls the quiver over his head and throws it to the couch beside Baekhyun. The arrows clatter noisily inside as it hits a cushion, and it rolls dangerously close to the edge before Baekhyun snatches it up and rights its position. Luhan ignores Baekhyun’s indignant shouts as he makes his way to the kitchen, looking for food.

“Get away from my fridge!” he hears Baekhyun shout, but he’s already looking through it. There’s an opened can of beer on the bottles rack that’s emitting awful odour. “Luhan, you don’t even need to eat human food!”

“I know, but I want to,” he shouts back as he finds a half-empty takeout box of fried noodles with shrimp, and he makes a happy little noise. He heats it up and scrapes it all to a plate, and proceeds to the living room to sit on the couch.

When he gets back, Baekhyun eyes the plate of food on Luhan’s hand, and then hisses at him.

“I was saving that for my dinner, you little shit,” Baekhyun says with feeling. Luhan smiles widely as he gets settled on the couch and starts eating happily.

“Finders keepers, little Baekhyunnie!”

Baekhyun’s shove is hard but playful, and Luhan can tell he’s not really angry. But there’s a tenseness in his shoulders that wasn’t there before, a slight hesitancy in his expression Luhan can’t quite put a finger on nor understand what might have caused it. He brushes it off and continues eating.


-


Luhan brushes a hand over Baekhyun’s head just before he disappears, quiet footsteps heading out to the balcony before it is silent again. Baekhyun stays seated in the couch, ears straining, just in case Luhan comes back. When he hears nothing, Baekhyun turns off the television and carefully reaches under the cushion seat.

He takes out two arrows; they are longer and thinner than his were, the wood dark and the feathers at the end white as snow. The thundering of the blood in Baekhyun’s ears are loud, and he feels dizzy. The arrows feel foreign, strange in his hands because they don’t belong there and he longs for his own. He wonders if Luhan will notice that his quiver is two arrows short.

Hell, Baekhyun doesn’t even know if this will work with another’s arrow.

But he has to try. If not for Chanyeol, then for himself. It’s a selfish thought, and he despises himself immediately. But he can’t return the arrows, not now that he’s stolen them.

At that moment, Chanyeol walks in, carrying a couple of plastic bags of groceries Baekhyun had asked him to pick up on his way home. The noises he makes as he takes off his shoes are loud as he calls for Baekhyun, and Baekhyun can hear him stumble into the kitchen. He closes his eyes and lets the sounds of Chanyeol sorting the groceries into the fridge and the pantry wash over him. They are such small, trivial things, so domestic and mundane but Baekhyun loves hearing them, and he stores them away in a corner of his brain to revisit later.

He gets up from the couch and pads to the kitchen, being as quiet as possible, but not before returning one of the arrows safely back under the cushion seat. He’ll hide it properly later. Now he must take care of Chanyeol; he’s been very grumpy and uncooperative this week, the effects of the arrow that are starting to wear off.

When he reaches the kitchen, Chanyeol’s back is turned against him, arms reaching up to store packets of instant ramyun on the cabinets overhead. He’s muttering incoherent things to himself, unaware that Baekhyun is standing in the doorway. His trench coat is draped over the counter, a block of chocolate poking out from one of the pockets. Baekhyun watches fondly as one of the packets that had been placed on unsteady ground falls and lands on Chanyeol’s face, the latter yelling in surprise and slight pain.

Baekhyun lifts the arrow in his hand to eye level, and dislikes the feel of it in his palms. It’s lighter than his was, the wood feeling frail and brittle even though he knows it’s probably not at all. He throws, and the tip plunges easily into Chanyeol’s back. It doesn’t disintegrate to golden sand like Baekhyun’s did; instead it almost melts into sweet smelling smoke that only Baekhyun will be able to smell.

He wonders if it works, burns to know and call Chanyeol’s name but he’s afraid. He’s so scared it might not work and their time is up. Baekhyun continues to watch him, and with every passing second the stone in his throat grows heavier and heavier, the fear in his chest poisoning a little bit more of his mind.

Chanyeol spots him, eventually. He turns around to get another handful of instant noodles when he sees Baekhyun in the doorway, uneasy smile on his face. He expects Chanyeol to frown at him, be the grumpy man he has been all week, and Baekhyun steels himself for disappointment.

But instead Chanyeol smiles, grins so wide all his teeth show and it should be at least a little bit scary but Baekhyun doesn’t think so. He missed that smile, as cheesy as it sounds. A fuzzy, pleasant kind of warmth travels to the tips of his toes as Chanyeol walks around the kitchen island and wraps his arms around him, squeezing him tight and lifting him a few inches off the ground.

“Baekhyun!” he shouts happily, twirling him around twice. The sensation is more dizzying than it should be. When Chanyeol sets him down and holds him at an arm’s length, Baekhyun’s smiling back so wide his jaw hurts, but he’s so relieved and so happy he can’t stop. “I missed you! How are you today?”

Baekhyun laughs, tiptoeing to nose Chanyeol’s shirt collar. It smells like photocopy machine and Chanyeol’s sweat and hasty bento lunches. It smells like everything Baekhyun loves, loved, will love. “You just saw me at eight this morning. And I’m good, thanks for picking up the stuff.”

“I still miss you,” Chanyeol pouts.

“Chanyeol, you are a grown man, don’t pout.”

His boyfriend sticks his tongue out, then steals a kiss just before he flees around the island. Baekhyun yells indignantly, but Chanyeol stubs his toe on one of the bottom cabinets, howling and hopping on one foot in pain.

It’s okay, Baekhyun thinks as he laughs at Chanyeol. Everything’s okay, for now.


-


Life goes on as usual.

Baekhyun now uses Luhan’s arrows for Chanyeol, and it tugs at his conscience sometimes, how he’s not using his own to make Chanyeol fall in love with him. But it all gets swept under the carpet when Chanyeol turns to him, bright-eyed and beautiful and kisses him like he has the world at his feet. When Chanyeol kisses him like this, a little desperately and with abandon, Baekhyun forgets that Chanyeol did not fall in love with him on his own accord. He forgets that this is all essentially artificial, as real as it may seem.

It’s enough though, for Baekhyun. He’s not going to try to push his luck.


-


On Thursday, Baekhyun runs into Kris again, and Kris asks him if they could have dinner together.

“I have a boyfriend,” Baekhyun reminds him, eyes shooting up to his forehead. Kris flails, adorably flustered even though Baekhyun can see he’s trying hard to keep his cool.

“Take him, if you want. The more the merrier! I mean --” Kris’ arms drops to his sides, and he sighs. Baekhyun wonders what the gesture means. “I’m lonely and I just want some company. I just. Can we be friends? If you want.”

Baekhyun considers his options. He could say no, and keep Chanyeol as far away from Kris as possible. It’s the ideal scenario: play safe, and he’s sure to win.

But Kris’ expression is pleading, the hope in his eyes a little too bright, and Baekhyun’s decision wavers. He’s never seen Kris with anybody before, and the way the man walks is with a slouch in his shoulders, and if there’s one thing Baekhyun knows well, it’s how lonely people look. He couldn’t bear to say no to Kris, not now, not ever. Partly because that attitude was what he was moulded into when he was created and partly because of guilt; of what could have been, what should have been, if Baekhyun hadn’t been so selfish. He had stolen Kris’ future, strictly speaking, and now he is left wandering through life alone.

Which is how he finds himself in his and Chanyeol’s room at Friday night, getting his most unflattering shirt thrown at his face by Chanyeol, who is also looking for something to wear.

“I am most certainly not wearing this!” Baekhyun shrieks, kicking the offending piece of clothing away disgustedly. It was a prank gift from his co-workers for Christmas last year.

“Why not?” Chanyeol asks, voice coming out muffled because his head is inside the closet, foraging for a pair of matching socks. “I can’t afford Kris being attracted to you and stealing you from me.”

Baekhyun wants to say Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around, but he keeps it to himself. “Do you realize how ridiculous you sound right now?” he says, just as Chanyeol emerges with matching brown socks, shouting in triumph.

Eventually Baekhyun settles on a light blue shirt and casual jeans that flatters his legs, to Chanyeol’s chagrin. He’s still seething as he shrugs on a varsity jacket while Baekhyun locks the front door, and Baekhyun rolls his eyes. They walk down to the barbecue restaurant where they said they’ll meet Kris, shoulders bumping and hands brushing. Chanyeol chats animatedly on about the new kid in his office, seeming to forget his irritation for a while.

It comes back though, when they reach the restaurant. He tenses up and his eyes narrow, stopping in his tracks until Baekhyun has to drag him in.

“You’re overreacting,” Baekhyun grumbles.

Kris is already there, sitting on a table for four. He’s gazing at the single flower on the vase on the table but Baekhyun knows he’s spacing out, and the expression is almost comical. Kris must have noticed Baekhyun and Chanyeol approaching from his peripheral vision, because he looks up, and his face brightens as he waves them over.

Baekhyun shoves Chanyeol into the seat opposite Kris. As much as he wants to keep Chanyeol to himself, he’s seen the way Kris looked so sad sometimes, and he’s now eager to help Kris make friends. It is partly his fault, anyway. He wants Kris and Chanyeol to get along, at least.

Chanyeol hisses at Baekhyun but he sits on the adjacent seat and wouldn’t move, staring back at his boyfriend challengingly until Chanyeol drops his gaze, pouting in a childish manner. Baekhyun turns to Kris, and grins brightly in greeting. “You’re here early,” he comments, picking up the menu book.

Kris shrugs. “I came earlier so I can order and we can get our food quicker.”

“You’ve ordered?” Chanyeol asks, eyebrows rising up in surprise. “Were you that confident we weren’t going to ditch you?”

Kris’ cheeks flush and Baekhyun elbows Chanyeol hard.

“I’m sorry, he’s not usually this rude,” Baekhyun apologizes.

“It’s okay,” Kris says, putting down the cup of tea he had been using to cover his embarrassed face. “I’m sorry if I... expected you guys to come too much. I don’t really go out much, so...”

His voice trails off and Baekhyun nods in understanding. They make small talk, about Kris’ work, about Chanyeol’s and Baekhyun’s. Baekhyun keeps urging Chanyeol to join in, but his boyfriend is still sulking even after the food comes. Likewise, Kris doesn’t really try to initiate conversation either, preferring to talk to Baekhyun instead (maybe because Chanyeol is emitting a dark, dangerous aura). Kris had ordered a full set meal they can barbecue themselves in their tables, and Baekhyun hopes the food will make Chanyeol more talkative, though it doesn’t seem to be the case.

That is, until Kris mentions that he likes mountain biking during his free time, and Chanyeol’s ears perk up like a dog being called by its master.

“You like mountain biking?” he interrupts in the middle of Kris listing off his pastimes to Baekhyun. They both turn to him, surprised that Chanyeol made an effort to join the conversation. But Chanyeol looks excited, eyes wide as he waits for Kris’ answer.

“I do. Why?”

Kris flinches and jumps when Chanyeol makes a high-pitched, excited noise, holding a hand out for a high five. Kris claps his palms to Chanyeol’s uncertainly, confused by the sudden change of attitude. He turns to Baekhyun, silently asking him what’s going on, but Baekhyun just grins in response.

“That’s really cool! Let’s go biking together sometime!” Chanyeol near-shouts, bouncing in his seat not unlike a jackhammer. He’s completely forgotten his earlier negative feelings towards Kris, and it’s quite understandable. Chanyeol loves mountain biking a lot but Baekhyun really isn’t an outdoor person, and none of his other friends are either. He’s never had anyone to talk about biking or take with him, and now that he meets someone who has the same interest, it’s clear that he’s eager about it. And it’s also good that now Kris can call Chanyeol his friend. The man looks like he could do with some more of them.

But as Baekhyun watches them interact, having a conversation he can’t take a part in because he doesn’t understand the topic, uneasiness begins to creep up on him. He’s happy for both Chanyeol and Kris, but this -- this is also exactly the same thing he doesn’t want happening. The possibility of Chanyeol finding Kris more interesting than Baekhyun, and then leaving him. Chanyeol and Kris together, like what should have happened if Baekhyun hadn’t been selfish enough to drop the arrow he was supposed to shoot all those years ago.

They could fall in love without an arrow; it is rare, but not unheard of. And if that does happen, what of Baekhyun then? What will happen to him? He can’t go back up, and he can’t possibly stay down on earth after his sole reason to stay is gone.

But at that moment Chanyeol turns to him, smile wide, left eye twitching. He looks ecstatic, and Kris is grinning just as widely, which quickly turns into an annoyed frown when Chanyeol dips his meat into Kris’ sauce without asking. Baekhyun isn’t the best sort of person out there, who would readily give up something of his (even though it wasn’t even his in the first place) to somebody else. He’s going to fight to keep it, but if it all comes down to that, and as long as Chanyeol is happy, Baekhyun thinks he can live with that.




part 2
Tags: f: exo, l: twoshot, p: baekhyun/chanyeol, r: r, ♪: pim
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