' Yet I know you’ll be there, ‘cause you’ll know I’ll want you to be there
And we’ll say hello
As you’re smiling in love
And we’ll sigh, so relieved I believe
Because we will both know by tonight we’ll feel normal again
But until then...'
“This is me here,” Baekhyun said. He shoved his hands in his trouser pockets, fumbling around for a moment, and then he stuck his key-card into the slot in the door, pushing it open.
Chanyeol looked around him as he followed Baekhyun inside the hotel room. “Hey, your room looks just like mine,” he said. “Well, except that everything is on the opposite side...”
“Just a heads-up, Park — I’m still ever-so-slightly pissed," Baekhyun declared, and he held one hand up in the air with his thumb and index finger apart, as if to quantify just how ‘ever-so-slightly pissed’ he was. His cheeks were a little flushed, but Chanyeol couldn’t tell if it was shyness or the booze that was to blame.
“Oh really?” he said flatly. “I hadn’t noticed.” They’d both had a great time that night, much greater than Chanyeol had ever expected. He already knew he would never forget the way Baekhyun had looked at him while they danced to the unofficial soundtrack of their high school days; how he'd leaned his head against Chanyeol's shoulder, both arms wrapped around his neck, their bodies swaying together in perfect sync. It felt really good being able to hold him close like that, and even kiss him in front of everyone else without the fear of judgement — although the constant sight of Kyungsoo hanging around in the background, grinning and giving Chanyeol the thumbs-up, had perhaps been a little unsettling.
“You probably didn’t notice because you’re still pissed too,” Baekhyun said. He had his lower lip caught between his teeth, and when he smiled the combination of these two things was devastating. Chanyeol smiled back at him, and he reached over to give Baekhyun’s forehead a playful flick right between the eyebrows.
“I was being sarcastic,” he said, leaning forward to kiss the spot where his finger landed.
Looking up into Chanyeol’s eyes, Baekhyun took a step backwards, shrugging off his jacket, and then he tossed it over one corner of the bed. "So what should we do now?” he asked in a quiet voice, although they both knew what the answer to the question was. But Chanyeol figured he'd play dumb anyway.
"I don't know," he replied. He watched as Baekhyun began to unbutton his shirt, swallowing thickly at the first glimpse of smooth, pale skin. "What do you want to do..?”
Instead of responding, Baekhyun kicked his shoes off and sat down on the edge of the bed. He took off his glasses and leaned over to put them on the nightstand, then patted the space next to him on the mattress. "Come on,” he said. “Don’t be shy.”
Chanyeol's guts were knotted in ten places at this point, but he took his own shoes and jacket off too, leaving both on the floor, and then lowered himself onto the bed next to Baekhyun. "How's it going...?" he asked with a nervous chuckle, but Baekhyun said nothing. Instead he began to undo Chanyeol’s tie in silence, and there was that smile again, beautiful and beguiling, but revealing nothing at all of his thoughts.
“You're cute when you're nervous," he said at last, in a soft murmur. “You were like this before our first time, as well… do you remember? I had to stop in the middle of it because you looked like you were going to cry.”
“I’d almost forgotten about that night," Chanyeol replied, which was a lie, of course; even ten years later he still thought about it often, replaying it inside his head in agonising, high-definition detail — usually at night, when he lay in his bed alone. Baekhyun just smirked and took Chanyeol’s hand with the palm facing upwards, pressing the silk tie into it. Chanyeol looked down at it absently, closing his fingers around the smooth satin fabric until it bunched up inside his fist.
“Allow me to jog your memory, then,” Baekhyun whispered, and Chanyeol’s eyes flickered up at him again, but he kept his head lowered. With one hand gently tilting his chin upwards, Baekhyun moved closer and brushed his lips against Chanyeol’s, so softly it could hardly be called a kiss, but Chanyeol found himself leaning forward anyway, desperately wanting more. His hands unclenched around the tie, letting it fall onto the floor. With their lips just barely touching, Baekhyun untucked Chanyeol’s shirt and pushed it upwards; his fingers briefly grazed Chanyeol’s stomach, making him shiver, and then he moved them away again, deftly unbuttoning Chanyeol’s shirt with one hand.
“You want this, right..?” he asked, mouthing the words against Chanyeol’s lips, and then at last he kissed him properly. Chanyeol sighed into the kiss, opening his mouth to let Baekhyun in; pulling away was painful, even for the second it took to free himself of the unbuttoned shirt, which he threw away like a piece of rubbish. He lay down on the bed and yanked Baekhyun forward by his hands, the other man collapsing in a heap on top of him.
“Why, hello, old friend," Baekhyun whispered, nuzzling the side of Chanyeol’s neck. He let out a soft chuckle, his warm breath tickling Chanyeol’s skin. “I see you’ve lost none of your enthusiasm over the years..”
“You know, I expected this to feel a lot weirder than it does,” Chanyeol said. “But it feels very familiar.”
“It’s only little old me, Park... just a bit older and littler,” Baekhyun replied; he started a trail of kisses down the front of Chanyeol’s throat, even going so far as to take Chanyeol’s Adam’s apple between his lips and suck on it, making him gasp.
“Mmm. Well, you’re certainly no less forward than you used to be,” Chanyeol mused, laughing breathlessly. “Not that I’m complaining..”
“Believe it or not, I’m not really one for making first moves.” Baekhyun’s voice was much quieter now, muffled slightly from his kisses. “But with you, I can't seem to help myself.” He pulled away from Chanyeol’s neck and returned to his mouth instead, kissing him with such fervour that Chanyeol almost found it hard to breathe. When he thought about it, no one either before or afterwards had ever kissed him the same way, at least not with quite the same intensity as Baekhyun kissed him — as though he might die if he didn’t. Chanyeol felt Baekhyun's teeth dragging over his lower lip and groaned softly in response, his hand moving to the back of Baekhyun’s head, fingers slipping through the strands of his hair.
“I’m glad I came tonight,” he whispered between kisses. “Really glad I came.” He would never admit this to Kyungsoo, of course.
“You haven’t yet,” Baekhyun whispered back, “but there’s still time for that.”
Chanyeol could feel the heat rising in his cheeks. “You know what I mean, Byun…”
“I know. I’m really glad I came too,” Baekhyun said. He sat up for a moment on the bed and patted the back of his trousers, the only garment he still had on, his eyes flicking up at the ceiling as though he were searching for something. “Do you by any chance have—”
“In my wallet,” Chanyeol replied, without letting Baekhyun finish his sentence. “It’s in the lining pocket of my jacket. On the floor. In the corner.”
“Earth, Milky Way, The Universe,” Baekhyun said, laughing softly, and he leaned over to quickly kiss Chanyeol one more time. “I’ll be right back. Don’t miss me too much.”
Chanyeol grinned up at him. “Just don’t take ten years, and I’ll be fine.”
“Hmmph. Cheeky fucker,” Baekhyun muttered, but he still offered Chanyeol a wry smile when he turned to look over his shoulder. Chanyeol watched him for a moment, and then he rolled his head back against the bed, closing his eyes while he waited. He could hear the faint rustle of fabric, the crinkling of foil; then an unzipping sound and something falling to the floor. Quiet footsteps padding towards him, barely audible, the creaking of springs; his heart pounding all the while in anticipation, his own quickened breathing. Then, at last, a warm weight next to him on the bed, and cool fingers on his belly, unfastening the metal hook on the waistband of his trousers.
“Um. Do you want me to..?” Baekhyun paused for a moment, the rest of the question dangling in mid-air.
“Uh-huh,” Chanyeol said. When he dared to open his eyes again, he found a naked Baekhyun sitting next to him on the bed. He seemed to be much the same without clothes as Chanyeol remembered, but perhaps a bit softer, less angular. He’d filled out a little in the intervening years, and it looked really good on him. “If you’re okay with it, then I am too.”
Baekhyun nodded. “I’m fine with it… I just wanted to make sure you were. I mean, I didn’t want to assume—”
“I still have pants on,” Chanyeol pointed out, interrupting him.
“Right. Sorry.” Baekhyun returned to the task at hand, fumbling around with Chanyeol’s fly. The cockiness had vanished and he seemed a bit embarrassed now, his cheeks reddening slightly as he pulled the trousers and underwear down over Chanyeol’s legs, but Chanyeol liked him better this way. He could feel the desire already smouldering in the pit of his stomach. After dropping the rest of Chanyeol’s clothes on the floor, Baekhyun turned to face him again, kneeling on the bed with both hands resting on his thighs, looking Chanyeol up and down without saying anything.
“What?” Chanyeol asked. “What’s wrong?”
Baekhyun shook his head. “Nothing,” he said. “It’s just that all my sexy teacher fantasies are finally about to come true, and I’m not sure how to feel about it.”
Chanyeol laughed at that. He sat up a little and reached over to grab Baekhyun’s hand, pulling him closer. “Come on,” he murmured, “get on me already..”
“Alright, Park, calm your farm.” Baekhyun rolled over until he was half on top of Chanyeol and started kissing him again, his tongue slipping inside Chanyeol’s mouth while one hand moved down between his legs. The kissing was a good distraction from whatever his fingers were doing, and despite the initial discomfort, Chanyeol warmed up to it quickly. Then Baekhyun finally guided himself in with a long, low moan in Chanyeol’s ear that was so hot it nearly drove him crazy; there was an instant prickling in the corners of his eyes with the first few rolls of Baekhyun’s hips, however slow and tentative they were, and it made him blink repeatedly. “Baek,” he said, and then his voice cracked and got caught in his throat, before he could tell Baekhyun how beautiful he was right now, how much this meant to him; how badly he wanted it to last much longer than just one night.
“Chanyeol?” Baekhyun whispered, frowning slightly; his cheeks were already pink from arousal and effort, but now there was confusion in his expression as well. Then a tiny smile tugged at one corner of his lips. “You’re not going to cry again, are you…?”
Maybe Chanyeol's eyes were waiting for permission to start flooding, because they did, right there and then — an epic flood to end all floods. Gather a male and female of every animal and get into a bloody boat, that kind of flood. God, not again, he thought to himself, although he supposed it wasn’t the first time Baekhyun had seen him cry tonight, so it seemed pointless getting embarrassed about it now. The concerned face hovering over him began to dissolve in the blur of tears, and Chanyeol wondered for a moment if this was at all comparable to how Baekhyun saw everything around him, and if the world was now a duller, less beautiful place because of it.
“Chanyeol…” Baekhyun said again, and there was a note of gentle disapproval in his voice. “I have no idea why you’re crying right now, but if it’s because I’m hurting you, then you should have said something.”
“It’s not that,” Chanyeol said. He lifted a hand to rub his eyes. “I just thought for so long that I would never see you again. But now you're here, and this is happening... and I guess I'm just a little overwhelmed.”
Baekhyun pulled out with a sigh and rolled off of Chanyeol's body, cuddling up next to him on the bed. He wiped a tear away from Chanyeol’s cheek with the pad of his thumb. “Well, that’s okay. Just as long as you're not in pain,” he said. Chanyeol turned on his side to face him, wrapping both arms around Baekhyun’s waist, holding him tight.
“Please, don’t go,” he whispered; he buried his face in the crook of Baekhyun’s neck, and he felt Baekhyun begin to stroke his hair with a gentle hand, soft laughter vibrating through his chest.
“Oh, Park, you sweet thing,” he chuckled. “Who said I was going..?”
“I don’t want to lose you again,” Chanyeol said, his voice muffled against Baekhyun’s skin. “I don't know if I'd survive it another time.”
“I’m not going anywhere, Chanyeol...”
“I never stopped loving you,” Chanyeol blurted out. He felt like he was on the verge of panic now; it was all pouring out of him and he had no way of containing it. “And I need you to know that I was never ashamed of you. I was just scared.” He paused for a second and swallowed. “Of what they might do.”
The hand stroking Chanyeol’s hair stopped for a moment, resuming only after a lengthy pause.
“I know,” Baekhyun said quietly. “Given what happened to me, I guess your fears were justified. And I never stopped loving you either.”
Chanyeol lifted his head away from Baekhyun’s chest, looking into his eyes. “So you meant it before, when you said you still loved me too..?”
“Of course. Did you not believe me?" Baekhyun’s brows were knitted, and it made Chanyeol want to trace a finger over the deep wrinkle between them to smooth the worry away, but he didn’t.
“To be fair, you were in the middle of climbing over a fence at the time,” he pointed out, and Baekhyun laughed softly.
“Yes, Park,” he replied in a quiet voice; he cradled the side of Chanyeol’s face with one hand, giving his cheek an affectionate pinch. “I still love you."
“But we're different people now,” Chanyeol said. “Are we going to fall back together so easily and just pretend the last ten years never happened…?”
Baekhyun just sighed and guided Chanyeol’s head back down against his chest. “No one said it would be easy. All we can do is try."
“Mmm,” Chanyeol replied, and then he laughed. “I assure you I don’t normally cry at times like this…”
“Chanyeol, look at me for a moment,” Baekhyun said, and Chanyeol lifted his head again to look at him.
“I’m still going to be here when you wake up tomorrow morning,” Baekhyun said quietly. “And I’d like to wake up with you on future mornings, too. If that’s what you really want.”
“I do,” Chanyeol said, and he meant it. “I really, really do.”
“Good,” Baekhyun whispered. Lifting one hand, he brushed a lock of hair away from Chanyeol’s eyes with a tender smile. “ Now, if it’s alright with you, I’m keen to finish what we started.”
Chanyeol laughed. “Yes,” he whispered back, “it’s more than alright with me.” Truthfully, he didn’t know what to do with all this happiness; there was too much of it all at once, and no adequate way to express it. So he let Baekhyun resume his position, loving the weight of him, so warm and familiar.
God, how he'd missed this.
“Do you remember that game we used to play?” Baekhyun whispered, his breath hot against Chanyeol’s ear. “I believe it was called ‘what happens when I kiss Park Chanyeol here’, and if I recall correctly, you used to love it…”
“How could I forget..?” Chanyeol said, laughing softly, and Baekhyun claimed his lips in another kiss.
Chanyeol woke up the next morning to the unwelcome sound of what he first thought was his alarm, but which turned out to be Kyungsoo calling his mobile. Groaning, he sat up in bed and reached across to grab it. Baekhyun was still huddled under the covers beside him, sound asleep, and he smiled at the sight for a moment before answering.
“Morning, sexy,” Kyungsoo said. “Didn’t wake you, did I..?”
Chanyeol sighed and rubbed his eyes. He wasn’t hungover, at least, but they’d woken up several times over the course of the night to make love again, and now he was dead tired. Even so, the sex had been wonderful, and as wrecked as he now felt, he regretted nothing. “Not at all,” he lied.
“Fark… sounds like someone had a good time last night.”
“Mmm. Something like that,” Chanyeol said. “I suppose I owe you an apology, then. And a thank you.”
“That’s alright… just buy me a drink sometime,” Kyungsoo replied. “Anyway, I’m just calling to say that we’re heading off soon, so your ass better be packed and ready within the next half an hour. Otherwise, if you end up having to hitchhike back with a family of serial killers, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.”
Baekhyun stirred a little, groaning softly in his sleep, and Chanyeol reached over to stroke his hair absently. “Thanks, but… actually, I think I’ll be taking the train instead, if that’s okay.”
“With Byun?” Kyungsoo asked.
Chanyeol bit his lip. “Yeah,” he said.
Kyungsoo didn’t sound put off by this. In fact, he sounded like he was smiling — probably a very smug smile, Chanyeol was willing to bet. “Alright, suit yourself,” he said. “I’m calling dibs on Best Man at your wedding, just so you know.”
“Shut up,” Chanyeol said fondly. “Tell Jongdae I said hi.”
Kyungsoo passed the greeting on to Jongdae, and then Chanyeol could hear his other friend saying something in the background.
“Jongdae says hi back, and that he can’t believe you ditched us last night to get laid.” Kyungsoo sounded amused now.
Chanyeol sighed. “This is different, Soo,” he said. “You know it’s different…”
“Oh, I know. He also said if it was him in your shoes, he would have done the same thing," Kyungsoo said. "Anyway, I better go. Have a safe trip home with loverboy, buddy.”
“You too.” Chanyeol hung up and returned the phone to the nightstand next to him. When he looked over at Baekhyun again, he saw that he was awake, peeking out at Chanyeol from where he was half-buried beneath the covers.
“Sorry,” Chanyeol said, offering him an apologetic smile. “Did I wake you..?”
Baekhyun yawned and rolled onto his back. “Nope,” he said, with his eyes closed. “I just listened to your entire phone conversation.”
“Oh really?” Chanyeol laughed nervously. “Nothing too incriminating, I hope.”
Baekhyun didn’t reply for a moment. Then he reached over and grabbed Chanyeol by the hand, pulling him closer. “Cuddle time, Park,” he said, and Chanyeol didn’t dare argue, even though it was already 9 o’clock and he knew they would have to check out in an hour’s time. He wrapped Baekhyun up in his arms, the other man snuggling against him, pressing his face against Chanyeol’s bare chest.
“Chanyeol,” Baekhyun murmured, a little while later, when Chanyeol was already half-asleep again.
Chanyeol slowly opened one eye at a time. “Mm-hmm..?”
Baekhyun let out a contented little sigh, and then he said “te amo”, in a voice so quiet Chanyeol could barely hear him.
Chanyeol smiled. “Te amo,” he whispered back. He pressed a soft kiss to Baekhyun’s forehead and closed his eyes.
“What are your plans for today?” Baekhyun asked Chanyeol later that morning, when they’d both checked out and were making their leisurely way to the train station. It wasn’t the shortest walk in the world, and ordinarily Chanyeol would have suggested calling a cab to the hotel, but the weather was so glorious that day that he didn’t mind at all.
“I have none,” he replied. He inhaled deeply through his nose — the air was so much sweeter here than it was in the city — and then let it all out again. “Why do you ask?”
“I was wondering if we could make a little stop somewhere before we leave,” Baekhyun told him. “There’s a place I’d like to show you. You can get a bus there that leaves from the station on the half hour; it’ll take about forty minutes each way. Anyway, it’s up to you.”
Chanyeol shrugged. “I’m game,” he said. He looked around him, at the tree-lined street they were walking down, the sun-dappled stone pavement beneath their feet with fallen flowers scattered across it, all the little cottages with their gardens and window-boxes in full bloom. “I’d forgotten how beautiful it is around here... especially at this time of year.”
“I know,” Baekhyun said quietly. “It makes me think of home.”
Chanyeol knew that when Baekhyun said ‘home’ he meant the place where he grew up, and not wherever he was living now.
“So where are you planning on taking me?” he asked, but Baekhyun just shook his head.
“You’ll find out when we get there,” he said, smiling at Chanyeol, but there was a hint of something in his eyes that wasn’t there before — wistfulness, perhaps, or even sadness — and Chanyeol couldn’t work out why.
When the bus pulled up at the stand out the front of the station at exactly half-past ten, Baekhyun hopped on first and told the driver where they wanted to go, then paid for both of their fares. Chanyeol followed him to the back of the bus, and they stowed their bags on the luggage rack overhead before sitting down in the second last row. Baekhyun was mostly silent during the trip, and eventually he rested his head on Chanyeol’s shoulder, but he remained awake. Chanyeol spent much of the ride looking at the scenery outside the window. Their joined hands rested in the space between their legs.
At some point Chanyeol must have fallen asleep, because Baekhyun tapped him on the shoulder and he jolted awake, turning his head to find the other man smiling at him. “We’re here,” he said, and they grabbed their bags from the rack and loped down the aisle in the middle of the bus, each thanking the driver on their way out.
“Is this where you wanted to take me..?” Chanyeol asked, when they’d alighted from the bus; his eyes followed it as it drove off, and then he began to survey his surroundings. The road was lined with so many flame trees on both sides that all he could see was the brilliant red of their flowers, so bright it made him blink a few times; just past the trees on the side of the road they stood on, beyond a white-painted wooden fence, there was a large expanse of land — grass so green it didn’t seem real, a small lake in the middle with a rope swing, clusters of trees surrounding it all. At the far end of the property sat a group of corrugated iron sheds, a couple of silos and a white single-storey farmhouse, with high gables and a red tiled roof. There were separate paddocks fenced off from each other, but all Chanyeol could see in the way of livestock were a couple of cows and sheep, and one chestnut-coloured horse, standing in the shade of an old oak.
“What is this place…?” he asked, and Baekhyun was silent for a long moment before he replied. He stood a little way in front of Chanyeol, with his shoulders squared and his hands in his pockets, just staring straight ahead of him.
“This, Park, is my childhood home,” he said, not turning around to look at Chanyeol. “Well, it was my childhood home, anyway… my folks had to sell the land several years ago. I hadn’t been back since then.”
“Oh,” Chanyeol replied. “Why?”
Baekhyun shrugged. “They just got too old, I guess, and couldn’t keep up with it all anymore. Making a decent income from farming is an enormous amount of work, and us kids had all moved away by then, so we were no help. So my parents moved into a little cottage in a town about thirty-odd K’s from here, on a much smaller plot of land… only about an acre. They kept a few goats and chickens, but that was it. The rest was sold.”
“Were you sad?” Chanyeol asked softly.
Baekhyun nodded, and then he finally turned his head to look at Chanyeol, just for a moment, before looking away again. “I was devastated,” he said. “But I understood why they had to do it. Anyway, I was the one who left it all behind for the city life. What right did I have to complain..?”
Chanyeol took a couple of steps forward until he was standing right beside Baekhyun, but this time Baekhyun didn’t look at him.
“The worst part is, now I can’t see it,” he said, after a long pause. “I can see what’s right in front of me, of course... but from where I’m standing, anything too far beyond that is a blur. And unless I jump this fence right now and run across that field to get a closer look, I’ll never see it again… not the way it looks inside my head. But I guess I thought, even if I can’t, I could bring you here, and then you could see it.”
Chanyeol gently tapped Baekhyun on the shoulder. When Baekhyun turned to look at him, his eyes were shining a little behind his glasses, and Chanyeol reached across to hold his hand.
“I’m glad you brought me here,” he said quietly, giving Baekhyun’s hand a gentle squeeze. “It’s beautiful. I’m sure it’s just like you remember it.”
Baekhyun just nodded in silence. He seemed unable to speak, and Chanyeol took him in his arms, holding him tight. They stood there like that for a long time, with Baekhyun’s head resting against Chanyeol’s chest, in complete silence but for the wind in the flame trees, blowing more of the bell-shaped flowers down onto the ground around them. Somewhere in the distance, a group of birds sounded like they were laughing, sometimes separately, sometimes together.
“We’ll buy this place one day, when we’re old,” Chanyeol whispered into Baekhyun’s hair, kissing his forehead, and Baekhyun laughed softly.
“How do you even know you’ll still want my old arse by then..?” he asked.
“It’s just a feeling I have,” Chanyeol replied, smiling to himself. Baekhyun lifted his head, looking up into Chanyeol’s eyes for a moment, and then he raised himself up until their lips met; even after all this time, he still needed to stand on his toes so they could kiss, and Chanyeol couldn’t help finding it adorable. He wrapped his arms around Baekhyun’s waist, hoisting him up until he was clear off the ground, and Baekhyun let out a little squawk of surprise at first, but it soon turned into laughter. He kissed Chanyeol over and over, both arms snug around his neck, whispering I love you against his lips.
“What should we do now?” Chanyeol asked, after he’d gently lowered Baekhyun to the ground again.
Baekhyun shrugged and toed at the grass with his foot. “Dunno,” he said. “Guess we’ll wait for the next bus to come, and then go home.”
“Your home or my home?”
“Either or,” Baekhyun said.
Chanyeol smiled. “How about my place tonight, then? I’ll make us dinner. I have a really nice wine at home that we can crack open, and then after that we’ll get reacquainted with an old friend called Catullus. How does that sound?”
“Sounds great,” Baekhyun replied, grinning at him. “And then maybe I can give you the rest of the thousand kisses I owe you.” He bent down and picked up both of their bags, handing one of them to Chanyeol. “I have one question though, Park. Was the wine you mentioned, by any chance, made in the back of anyone’s closet..?”
“Nope,” Chanyeol said. “It’s a store-bought Shiraz.”
“Excellent.” Baekhyun gave Chanyeol a playful swat on the backside, and then grabbed his free hand, dragging him over towards the bus stop. “Just thought I’d ask.”