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who's gonna catch me when I fall? (are you?)

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“That's the last of it...right Byun?”
Baekhyun laughed, patting Chanyeol on the back as he leaned against the wall, catching his breath.
“Yep, that's it!” He chirped, glancing around the plain room nearly filled with brown, cardboard boxes.
“You have...way too many things.” He groaned, sighing in relief when a cool water bottle was pressed against his cheek.
“Thank you, baby.” He mumbled, eyes closing as fingers ran through his sweaty hair. He received a soft hum in reply. Chanyeol circled an arm around Yifan's waist, nuzzling his nose into his neck. Yifan giggled, moving to hold the water bottle against his neck as he continued to comb through Chanyeol's matted hair. They make such a cute picture. He thought, lips quirked up into a small smile. He couldn't help but feel slightly envious, though. His smile dropped, his body suddenly feeling cold. He swallowed, balling his hands into fists as he forced himself to scoff.

“You two are adorably disgusting.” He hoped they didn't notice the slight waver to his voice. Thankfully, they were too wrapped up in one another to even respond to his comment, let alone notice his odd tone. He sighed, turning around to leave them to themselves. Walking into the next room, he reached down in his pocket, needing to scroll through his insta feed for cute puppies. Puppies will help me cheer up. He blinked when his pocket felt empty. Freaking out a bit, he felt his other pocket. Empty. He inhaled, trying to calm his nerves as he darted his eyes across the various boxes littering his apartment floor. Fuck, where the fuck is my phone!? He turned around and walked back into the living room. Distantly, he registered that Yifan and Chanyeol were lounging on the couch. He didn't see his phone anywhere, the pink ice cream case too noticeable to be looked over.

“Hey, have you guys seen my-” He stopped himself when Yifan shot him a glare. Pushing a finger to his lips, he nodded at Chanyeol, who was resting his head in the crook of his neck.
“Have you seen my phone?” He whispered, giving Yifan a sheepish smile. He rolled his eyes but shook his head.
'Your car?’ He mouthed. Baekhyun blinked, before slapping his forehead lightly. Of course it'd be there. He sent Yifan a thankful smile before walking out the door.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yifan had left with a sleepy Chanyeol about an hour ago. Baekhyun was currently scrolling through the puppy instagrams he followed, cocooned in the first blanket he could find. He was sprawled out on his bare mattress, honestly too tired to make it when he still needed a new bed frame.
“If only I could be a puppy. Getting tons of love, affection and food. For free nonetheless. Now that's living the life.” He joked, snorting quietly and feeling the tiniest bit embarrassed for talking to himself. He ignored the feeling, though, already used to his odd habits. He was currently clad in a dark grey hoodie, lips unconsciously pouting and droopy eyes covered by his oversized hood. Sounds better than being alone, trying to make connections only to be disappointed in the end. He grimaced, clutching his phone tighter at the thought. He shook his head, hand relaxing when coming across more puppy pictures. He liked another picture, heart warming when a corgi’s large eyes stared up at his, tongue out and ears perked up.

“So cute.” He cooed, smile blinding as he saved the picture. Sue me! I love cute dogs and their pictures. He thought, already hearing the teasing Sehun would do once he saw his gallery. He scrolled down, mood dampening when he caught sight of the picture buried in a sea of dogs and random selfies. It was an innocent enough picture. In reality, however, it held so many memories, so many emotions that had his chest twisting in pain. His eyes grew a wetter the longer he looked, knuckles turning white as he gripped his blanket tight around himself; vainly trying to comfort his shattered heart as he stared helplessly at his phone.

The picture itself wasn't anything out of the ordinary; Baekhyun was putting up a peace sign, smiling his box-shaped smile while an attractive young man wrapped an arm around his shoulders, smiling just as brightly into the camera. The shot was blurry and both of their faces were flushed from the cold, but the happiness in their eyes was unmistakable. He ran his eyes over the male; a cat like grin, curly brown hair and dark eyes that sparkled brightly, even with the shitty quality of the camera. Baekhyun suddenly felt like crying, hands shaking and heart beat thundering in his ears.

It's been seven years Byun. Why are you still like this? He held down on the picture, not even hesitating when he clicked the 'archive’ button. He couldn't--wouldn't-- delete the picture. It was too precious, too personal, too sacred for him to get rid of completely. It's been seven years since we broke up. Seven years since we've talked, why would he remember me? He's been so busy traveling the world with CVX, it'd be unrealistic of me to even think he'd remember our times together. He glanced over at the box sitting on the couch, it holding all of his hard copies of albums he's collected over the years, including the albums Jong--his ex had featured on, as well as all three of CVX’s albums and his solo album.

“Am I stupid?” He asked no one in particular, thumb clicking his phone closed as he turned over, staring at the bumpy white paint of his new ceiling.
“Is it cruel of me to continue doing this to myself?” He spoke softly, eyes staring blankly at the shadows casted against his ceiling. He'd been in countless relationships ever since he broke things off. None of his relationships even lasted a full year. His most recent serious relationship, Taeyeon, had broken up with him after eleven months. It wasn't like it was unexpected, though. He's more surprised that it went on as long as it did.

He wasn't as obtuse as some people believed; he could read between the lines, could read when someone was getting tired of his constant presence. He knew from the beginning that things wouldn't work out. She was always the passive one in the relationship. Never initiating contact, never the one to reciprocate kisses or hugs. But he wanted, needed, to hope, to think that just maybe he finally found someone he could spend his life comfortably with. He tried to make it work, god did he try. Sending her good morning and good night texts, surprising her with flowers and breakfast in bed, taking her out on dates. Doing everything a couple should do, but it never felt the same.

His feelings never felt reciprocated, but he still tried, still ignored the blatant signs and beating his heart was taking. The biggest red flag was the lack of intimacy between them. He wasn't one to always need sex, but the one time they tried, she was clearly uncomfortable with his touch. They stopped right there and he never brought it up. He would've brushed it off as her being asexual, or just not ready when he stumbled across a vibrator mixed in with the clothes as he did laundry one day. Did it necessarily mean she was using it? Maybe, maybe not. But it still hurt, had been like a suckerpunch to the gut. That had his eyes opening from the denial he'd been putting his mind through and he finally had to accept that she didn't want him, not like he did her.

But finding that vibrator had to hurt the most, even after the break up. Being unwanted emotionally was a common occurrence in his love life, but someone being repulsed by his touch? By his looks? It shook him to the core and he started doubting his body, his ability to attract someone. The fear of being unattractive just added to his self loathing and logically, he knew it made no sense. He still turned heads whenever he went out, but emotions didn't always run on logic, now did they? Emotional intimacy was always something that was rare with his past lovers, even with the kinder ones, but what always caught their interest were his looks. If he couldn't get her to stay because of his personality, then his looks would do, right? Except they wouldn't, not in this case. And that hurt.

By then, they were at five months and Baekhyun felt he invested too much time into just...give up. He was tired, and she was too. They barely even texted after he found the vibrator; foolishly giving it her when she got home from work that evening. All she did was stare blankly, before saying a soft thank you and disappearing to her room for the night. That only dug the knife in deeper, chest feeling like it was being crushed with an anvil as he trudged off to bed that night.

It didn't so much as shock him, but numb him when she eventually broke things off. Over text no less, just adding insult to injury. I'm not feeling us anymore, Baekhyun she wrote, the entire exchange sounding forced; business like as she broke his heart, just as so many others had. Anyone would be lucky to have you, but I'm not that someone you need. He scoffed at the memory, but it sounded more like a choked off sob to his ears. His chest felt...it just hurt so bad. Yearned for air like he was suffocating, lungs burning as he gasped in pain. Tears blurred his vision, breath coming out in ragged gasps, fingernails digging crescents into the skin of his palms. You're not good enough. You're doing something wrong. You need to try harder.You're not good enough. He shook, arms coming up to hold himself as he counted back from one hundred. He had to start over a few times, but he eventually calmed his breathing enough to torture himself even more with memories. His closed his eyes, tears falling as he silently hiccuped.

Just two weeks after, did he spot her. He was walking out of his favorite bakery at the time, biting into a jelly filled donut as he hailed down a taxi. He looked over to the cafe nearby, debating on lunch options when he saw a familiar head of strawberry blonde hair. Laughing, smiling, being happy, while hanging onto one of her girl friends. He would've just chalked it up to them hanging out until she planted a kiss on her cheek, blushing as everyone else teased her. He didn't even feel angry; didn't feel insulted that she turned out to be into girls. No, he just felt...numb; dead to the world as his heart shattered even further. And somehow, it made sense that she didn't find him attractive. It made his mood lift for a split second before the numbness took over again. There was one question on his mind, however. The one question that always plagued him after their relationship ended. Why? Why bother playing with someone's emotions, time and energy when you know for a fact that you aren't even the slightest bit interested? Why bother faking, and not even well, that you want a relationship? Do you not feel guilty? Do you not care? Does it even occur to you how much the relationship meant? Why, why, why.

It took about a week before he moved on, chest feeling empty and mouth tasting of iron as he made out with a random guy in the bathroom of a club. The smell of smoke, piss and alcohol filled his nostrils as he tried to lose himself for one night in the warm body of another. It worked, until he woke up the next day, bruises covering his hips, hickies painting dark trails along his neck and iron taste sitting on the back of his tongue; mocking his weakness, his desperate longing for love, even if he knew it was purely sexual. Their ‘friends with benefits’ fling predictably didn't last, just two weeks before Kihyun found someone else to fuck around with; not even sparing Baekhyun a glance before he aggressively made out with a boy in front of him. His heart shattered yet again and the cycle began anew, self loathing and doubts about his appearance only growing. Partner after partner; countless nights where he hoped they would stay, hope that this would finally be the one. In each and every one, he was disappointed. Did he still love them, even after they left him, broke him, ruined him to the point where he couldn't even look at himself some days without feeling sick? Yes, because that's what Baekhyun was; a lover. He loved too easily, was ready to give up everything for the first person to show they cared; it was one of his biggest faults. He gave, and gave, and gave what he could, hoping, praying, for an ounce of affection back. Even when all they did was take, and take, and take until he had no more to give, he still found a way. Broke off pieces of himself to give, and felt all the more disgusted with himself for it.

He knew his friends hated that part about himself. (Sometimes, he did too.) Knew that everytime he showed up with a new boyfriend or girlfriend, they would already be prepping the ice cream, tissues and movie nights for when Baekhyun would need them after the inevitable break up. And even if--when-- that happened, they would still be there. Had he lost friends because of his relationships? Yes. They couldn't watch Baekhyun wither away after every break up, only to start over again with a new lover. Some even called him a slut, a whore for having so many exes. Did he believe them? There were times where he doubted himself, but he knew he wasn't like that. He didn't do it for the sex, he just wanted to find love; to find the affection he lacked when he was younger, when his mother died and his father drunk himself into an early grave, dying of liver poisoning when he was ten.

But his true friends, the friends that actually cared about him, the ones he could go to in his darkest hour, the ones who understood his past and why he craved love like some addict, have always stayed. He's so grateful that no one in his group--Chanyeol, Yifan, Sehun and Kyungsoo-- left. He honestly wouldn't know what to do with himself if he didn't have his pillars. They were his strength, his peace, his repreve from the world and his own horribly cracked heart when he couldn't handle anything anymore. I'm so lucky to have them. I wouldn't...I wouldn't be here without them. He brought a hand up to his face, wiping away the tears away from his cheeks. He suddenly felt exhausted, the walk down memory lane tiring him out even more. Moving was supposed to be good, was supposed to make me feel better. To start anew, start over with a clean slate. It hasn't even been a full day and I'm already a mess. He sighed shakily, heart pounding in his ears as he curled in on himself. He didn't care what time it was, didn't have the energy to pick up his phone and check. I just want to sleep. He thought, burying his face into the bare mattress as he let himself be dragged into a dreamless slumber.