“Chanyeol! I’m home!”
“Yeollie!” The soft patter of sock clad feet against wood floor was all that could be heard around the apartment. Minseok shuffled around in search of the tall man, checking the kitchen first knowing how much calmer the younger felt sitting at the counter.
There was small bits of evidence showing Chanyeol had been in the kitchen. A few pans rested on the stove, and a plate that was scrubbed clean sat in the dish rack along with a fork sitting on the bottom of the rack. Chanyeol’s favorite cup, an Iron Man cup he got from Jongdae’s birthday party, was sitting in a puddle of water on the counter where the younger always sat.
Minseok sighed at the sight of pans on the stove needing to be cleaned, but ignored it, focusing solely on finding Chanyeol. He left the kitchen, stepping into the living room to see papers scattered across the coffee table along with various pens and pencils holding the papers down. There were a few notebooks resting on the couch beside Chanyeol’s abandoned guitar. Minseok picked up some of the papers, organizing them before setting them back in their place on the table. Letting out a puff of air, Minseok wandered towards their shared room.
Pushing the door open, Minseok was met with clothes thrown carelessly throughout the room. Shirts that were neatly hung in the closet were now on the bed, a wrinkled mess. Any clothes that were folded and in the dresser, were bundled up and tossed to the floor in piles. It looked like a tornado had ripped through the room.
“Oh geez, Chanyeol.” Minseok muttered as he began picking up articles of clothing off the floor. As Minseok tossed the clothes from the floor onto the bed with the rest of the clothes, he heard water running in the bathroom meaning the elder had found Chanyeol.
Minseok knocked on the bathroom door, waiting for some form of indication to enter. With no answer after a few minutes, Minseok walked into the bathroom. The room was full of steam, mirrors were fogged up, and the heat was almost unbearable.
“Chanyeol? Chan,” Minseok spoke, walking towards the shower where the steam was pouring out, “Are you okay?”
“I am fine.” Chanyeol’s deep voice rang out from behind the curtain. He sounded anxious, slightly scared by Minseok’s voice even if it were his softest tone. Minseok shook it off along with the little pout that was settling on his face.
“Okay, well, come into the kitchen when you’re done with your shower.” Minseok left the bathroom and ignored the mess in the bedroom as he went to the kitchen.
It wasn’t long before Chanyeol was sitting in his chair at the counter. He wore a baggy sweater, sleeves falling pass his hands, lavender hair dripping. Minseok set a plate of food in front of him along with a cup of water. The younger began scooping the food into his mouth as if he hadn’t ate all day.
“Yeollie, slow down.” Minseok tapped at the plate, yet Chanyeol continued to eat at his fast pace.
“Chanyeol.” The younger looked up at Minseok with wide eyes, whining at the elder, “Slow down when you eat.” He let out another muffled whine, cheeks full of food. Chanyeol finished what was in his mouth before looking at Minseok for an approval to continue. Minseok nodded and watched as Chanyeol finished his food.
“What did you do today, Yeol?” Minseok asked, hoping to find the reasoning behind the now messy apartment. The younger was fidgeting in his seat, taking large gulps of water to avoid speaking. Minseok didn’t push him to speak until he felt like talking, the elder not wanting to cause a tantrum from the tall man.
Chanyeol refused to make eye contact, bringing his knees to his chest along with wrapping his arms around his legs, trying not to tip backwards on the stool. Minseok took the empty plate and rinsed it off in the sink before setting it in the dishwasher, doing the same to his own plate.
“I-” Chanyeol breathed out, “I tried. . I tried to write.” He started, trying to find the correct words.
“Write a song. But. The paper kept. . kept ripping.” Minseok nodded to Chanyeol’s words, remembering the few ripped papers on the living room floor, “S-so, I came in here. I wanted to cook.”
“I tried to make food from. . from the cookbook. A-and, the words did not make sense.” Chanyeol’s wide eyes became glassy as he continued, “I gave up. Then, I started to miss you, s-so I went to our room. You were not there like always. . You were gone. I looked for you like when we play Hide-and-Seek.” Minseok wandered over to Chanyeol and wrapped his arms around the younger, rubbing soothing circles into his back and pressed light kisses to his temple.
“I checked the closet and you were not there. I checked the dresser and you were not there. I checked the bathroom and you were not there.” Chanyeol cried, reaching up and gripping his hair as tears ran down his cheeks, “You were not here. You were gone and I could not find you.”
“I’m sorry, Yeollie. I had to go to work this morning. I’m sorry, baby.” Minseok took hold of Chanyeol’s hands to keep him from pulling on the lavender strands more. The younger peered up at Minseok with tears dripping down his chin and little snot bubbles forming.
“You. . were not here.” Chanyeol hiccupped, sniffling his nose to get rid of the snot starting to roll down his lip.
“I know, and I’m sorry. How about to make it up to you, we go and do whatever you want, hm?” Minseok gave Chanyeol a gummy grin, hoping the younger would feel better with the suggestion. Chanyeol whined a little then wiped his nose on his sweatshirt sleeve, “Does my baby boy want to go get ice cream? Or maybe go visit Kyungsoo and Jongdae?”
“Dae?” At the mention of Jongdae, Chanyeol’s tears seemed to stop and a small smile appeared on his face, “But. . I made a mess and you do not like messes. That means I cannot go see Dae.” Chanyeol pouted.
“It’s okay. I’m not mad at you for making a mess, you can go see Jongdae.” Minseok smiled and patted Chanyeol’s knee, “Why don’t you go pack up anything you want to take to Soo and Dae’s while I clean up.”
“Okay.” Chanyeol unfolded himself and leaned forward, giving Minseok a short, sloppy kiss, a wide grin on his face when he sat up. Minseok watched the younger jump up from his seat and run to the living room where he kept a small toy chest in the corner.
Minseok shook his head with a quiet laugh and went to their bedroom to clean up the mess of clothes on the bed. He re-folded the clothes that belonged in the dresser and neatly hung their clothes, placing them back in the closet. The elder laughed a little when he remembered Chanyeol saying he searched for him in the dresser drawers.
Once the room was neat and orderly again, Minseok called out for Chanyeol.
“Yeol! Are you ready to go?” He stepped into the living room to see Chanyeol sitting cross legged on the floor with his tablet in his lap.
“Yeol,” Chanyeol’s head snapped up at the sound of his name being called, eyes wide and innocent, “Are you ready?” He nodded his head and stood, tablet still in hand. Chanyeol held his backpack out to Minseok, asking for the elder to carry it for him.
“Go put your shoes on and I’ll meet you by the door.” Chanyeol nodded once again and ran to the door. Minseok could hear the sharp thud of Chanyeol’s bottom hitting the wooden floor and shook his head with a smile. Sometimes Chanyeol would forget how big he is and how far down the floor is. Next was Chanyeol’s contagious laugh echoing through the apartment, reaching Minseok in the kitchen.
Minseok let out his own little laugh as he put a few water bottles in Chanyeol’s backpack before returning to the bedroom to grab spare clothes, knowing the two would beg and plead for Chanyeol to spend the night. After everything was around, Minseok sent a quick message to Kyungsoo and the two were on their way out the door.
When the two got into the car, Chanyeol had his headphones plugged into his tablet and music playing. Minseok smiled as he drove to their friends apartment. The grin never left as he listened to Chanyeol singing to himself under his breath, doing his own little dances in his seat. It was like Chanyeol was performing his own concert just in the comfort of the car.
Minseok enjoyed the times Chanyeol was smiling and acting a little goofy. The majority of the times Minseok is with Chanyeol after a stressful day, the younger is in a mood where he only answers with whines and curls up in Minseok’s lap despite being a bit bigger and much heavier. Minseok would never push Chanyeol’s cuddling away even if he wasn’t able to breathe or feel his lower half, the elder would let Chanyeol curl up on his lap and play on his tablet until running off to do something else. Chanyeol was Minseok’s source of happiness and seeing the other smile bright made Minseok grin ear to ear.
Jongdae was excited to see Chanyeol again after two weeks of the two apart. Jongdae held a wide, cat-like grin when he saw Chanyeol standing at the door.
“Chanyeol!” Jongdae screamed, leaping on the younger for a hug. Chanyeol whined for Jongdae to let him go, Jongdae quickly retracting his arms, “Sorry, Yeol. I forget you don’t like to be touched. Come on! Let’s go play video games!”
Chanyeol glanced over at Minseok with a questioning look as if asking if it was okay for him to play video games with Jongdae.
“Take your shoes off first and greet Kyungsoo before, then you can go play with Jongdae.” Minseok spoke, guiding Chanyeol into the threshold. He almost didn’t notice Jongdae watching his lips as he spoke, trying to read what the elder was saying. Chanyeol slumped to the floor and pulled his shoes off with enough force to almost punch himself in the face with the shoe. Jongdae’s grin became impossibly wider as he waited for the younger, watching his every move.
“Come on, Yeol! Soo is in the kitchen grading some papers.” Jongdae ran off while laughing, the two following behind him, “Soo! Minseok and Chanyeol are here!”
“Jongdae, indoor voice.” Kyungsoo softly spoke, not looking up from his papers. Jongdae’s cheeks were dusted with pink, quietly apologizing to his boyfriend. Kyungsoo finished marking a paper and set his red marker down, along with his glasses and looked up at the three standing around the table.
“Hello Minseok, Chanyeol.” Kyungsoo smiled, his lips forming a small heart.
“Hello Kyungsoo. Sorry for showing up extremely late and on such short notice.” Minseok said, setting Chanyeol’s backpack down and sitting at the dining table next to Kyungsoo.
“It’s fine, Jongdae loves when Chanyeol is over no matter what time it is.”
“Chanyeol,” Minseok looked over to the younger, waiting for him to greet Kyungsoo. Chanyeol frowned and whined at Minseok with a pout. Minseok sighed and waved the two off, Chanyeol knowing he’d have to greet Kyungsoo at some point during the night.
“Have fun! And Jongdae?” Kyungsoo pointed to the blond, “Keep the sound down on the TV.” Jongdae nodded and dragged Chanyeol to the game room. Minseok was quiet as he listened to Jongdae’s constant chatter die down as the two entered the next room.
“Chanyeol being a handful today?” Kyungsoo asked, leaning back in his seat.
“Not really,” Minseok sighed, brushing his hair back, “I mean, I came home to a mess. The kitchen wasn’t as bad, just a few dirty pans. He tried writing a song, ripped a few papers and gave up, then he went to look for me in our room and couldn’t find me. Threw all the clothes from the closet and dresser onto the floor and bed.”
“Did you scold him? He seems a little grumpier than usual?”
“No, didn’t scold him. I asked him what he did while I was at work and he started crying. I suggested coming over here so he could be with Jongdae for a while and after we talked he has just been whining instead of speaking.”
“Hm. Jongdae does that occasionally, but only when he gets really tired. Like a toddler.” Kyungsoo stands and wanders to the fridge to grab out two water bottles, handing one to Minseok as he sits.
“I don’t know. I think Yeol is just frustrated with himself. He has these days where he doesn’t talk to anyone and only answers in whines and pouts.” At the mention of Chanyeol, the younger shuffled into the dining room, head down and fingers playing with the hem of his sweater.
“Hey, baby. What’s up?” Chanyeol made his way over to Minseok and leaned over, resting his head in the crook of Minseok’s neck, “Done playing video games with Dae?”
Chanyeol shook his head and began to crawl into Minseok’s lap. Minseok let out a small laugh and let him curl up in his lap. He wrapped his arms around Chanyeol’s waist and patted his hip.
“Ready to say hi to Soo?” An expected whine was Minseok’s response. Minseok just patted his hip again and looked up to Kyungsoo. Jongdae was now going through the cupboards, opening and closing each one before reaching the fridge.
“We got fruit snacks? Uh. . there’s some goldfish crackers too.” Jongdae rattled off snacks as he looked moved on to the pantry. Chanyeol mumbled out for some goldfish crackers from Minseok’s neck, hoping Jongdae could hear him.
“What?” Jongdae whipped around to look at the younger.
“Yeol, you need to speak up so Jongdae can hear you.” Minseok told Chanyeol. He looked up with a pout and whined at Minseok, “Chanyeol. That’s enough of the whining. Use your words.” Minseok firmly spoke earning another whine.
“Park Chanyeol. If I hear another whine from you we’re going home and you can’t stay with Jongdae tonight.” Chanyeol’s eyes became glassy as he stared at Minseok, the elder staring back with a hard gaze.
“I-I am sorry.” Chanyeol choked out, his voice deeper from the lack of use in the past hour. He glanced over to Kyungsoo, crawling out of Minseok’s lap and standing in front of the man. Chanyeol fell into a bow to greet Kyungsoo.
“Hello, Kyungsoo.” The younger spoke once he stood straight. After receiving a smile and greet back, Chanyeol turned back to Minseok, gaze low.
“Now, go play video games with Jongdae.” Minseok rubbed his back and let him wander over to Jongdae. Once the two were back in the gaming room, Minseok sat and rubbed at his face.
“He’s getting better at listening. I was expecting something else.” Kyungsoo chuckled as Minseok sighed.
“Me too. But, he doesn’t push his luck when around other people. If we were home he’d whine back and cry until I give him what he wants.” Minseok tapped at the table before continuing, “He isn’t bratty, was never bratty. I don’t think he was this way as a child either. It only gets this bad when he’s alone all day.”
“Hm. Well, if you need to, he can come over while you’re at work. It’s only ever Jongdae home and he plays video games and sometimes Baekhyun is over.” Kyungsoo suggests.
“Baekhyun is a bad influence. He doesn’t help at all,” Minseok points out, Kyungsoo nodding back in agreement, “Plus, Chanyeol does some work when he’s home. Occasionally with the quiet atmosphere he can focus long enough to write a portion of a song then by the time he’s done, I’m home.”
“Minseok! Minseok!” Jongdae comes running into the dining room with a grin along with an equally enthusiastic Chanyeol.
“Yes, Jongdae.” Minseok turned towards the pair with a knowing look.
“Can Chanyeol stay over? Please?” Jongdae begged, clasping his hands together and holding them close to his chin.
“Hm, I don’t know.” Minseok sighed, crossing his arms. Jongdae frantically looked towards Kyungsoo then to Chanyeol. The younger of the two stared down at Minseok with a ‘puppy dog’ look.
“I guess he can stay over. But, Chanyeol, you behave yourself.”
“Yes, Minseok.” Chanyeol nodded, lavender hair bouncing. The two ran off leaving Minseok and Kyungsoo alone once again. Minseok let out a little laugh before turning back to the younger.
“Ah hah, I knew they’d ask. I packed Chanyeol’s clothes and his medicine. Make sure he takes it before bed and don’t let him stay up past 10? He gets really grumpy after then and you don’t want a tantrum from him.”
“Don’t worry, Seok. It’s not my first time watching him. They both will be out in an hour or so, don't worry.”
“Thank you, Soo. I need to head home, early shift tomorrow.” Minseok spoke as he stood from the table. Kyungsoo did the same, standing to give the elder a hug before he turned back to his students’ papers.
Minseok left the kitchen to poke his head into Jongdae’s room to bid his goodbye to Chanyeol.
“Yeollie?” Minseok softly spoke, the younger twisting to see his boyfriend smiling at him. Chanyeol was on his feet in an instant to pull Minseok into a tight hug.
“I’ll come get you when I’m out of work, okay? Behave yourself please.” Chanyeol nodded and pressed a wet kiss to his cheek before returning to Jongdae’s side. Minseok let out a small laugh before leaving the room and strutting out of the apartment with a second goodbye to Kyungsoo.
Minseok woke up to his phone ringing rather than his alarm clock. With foggy eyes and frustration settling in, Minseok pushed his comforter away and shuffled into the bathroom where his phone sat charging.
“Hello,” Minseok yawned and ruffled his hair.
“Min,” Came a whine, almost a cry, from the other end. The sleepy cloud above Minseok had disappeared at the sound of Chanyeol’s crying over the phone.
“What’s wrong, Channie?” Minseok asked, already rushing to the living room for his shoes. All Minseok got was a whine in reply, “Words Chanyeol. I need words, baby.”
“Dark.” The younger cried.
“Oh,” Minseok stopped mid lacing and stood straight, “Does Jongdae not have his light anymore?”
“Is Jongdae awake?”
“How about Kyungsoo?”
“Yeah,” Chanyeol’s voice cracked when he answered.
“You can ask him for the light, honey.”
“I don’t wanna,” Chanyeol whined. Minseok sighed and rubbed at his face as he shuffled back to the bedroom.
“He’ll be mad at me.” Minseok could almost hear Chanyeol pouting through the phone.
“He won’t be mad at you. Just go ask him, okay? I’m going back to sleep, I have to work really early.”
“Min,” Chanyeol cried out again, “I don’t wanna”
“Fine. I will text Kyungsoo and ask him for you, okay? Just lay down and play with your stuffed animal until he brings the light.” By the sound of Chanyeol’s shuffling blankets and the muffled rattling of beans in the stuffed toy, Minseok assumed Chanyeol was back in bed.
“Goodnight Chanyeol. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Goodnight Minnie.” Chanyeol grinned before the two ended the call, Minseok letting out a long sigh before sending a quick text to Kyungsoo.
Minseok set his phone on his night stand before bundling up in his blankets. It wasn’t long before he got a reply from Kyungsoo saying he’d plug Jongdae’s night light back in. With the reassuring text and light pitter patter of raindrops hitting the window, Minseok was lulled back to sleep.
Chanyeol was restless when Minseok picked him up. The younger male was fidgeting in his seat, fingers playing with the seatbelt across his lap and bottom lip trapped under teeth. Minseok could see Chanyeol’s eyes flickering towards him and back to his lap. It was like Chanyeol wanted to ask a question but would stop himself every time, almost scared to speak. He hadn’t said a word since they left Kyungsoo and Jongdae’s apartment.
Minseok pulled into a parking lot and shut the car off. Chanyeol looked over to Minseok with wide eyes, asking where they were.
“We have to get groceries, Yeol.” Minseok answered before pocketing his car keys and adjusting the cap on his head. Chanyeol nodded and unbuckled himself before stumbling out of the car, holding onto Minseok’s arm as they walked towards the store.
“If you’re good, you can get something, okay?” Chanyeol nodded making his fading lavender hair fall into his eyes. He switched from holding onto Minseok’s arm to holding onto the side of the cart, eyes wandering the aisles.
They always started with the fruits and vegetables when shopping, Chanyeol pointing towards the apples with a pout. Minseok laughs and grabs a bundle of apples, placing them in the cart before moving on to some vegetables for dinner. The elder always tried to hold a conversation with Chanyeol, asking about what he wants to eat or what happened in Zootopia-even though Minseok has heard the story line multiple times-he loves seeing the little sparkle in Chanyeol’s eyes when he started talking.
The shopping trip was always the same route, produce to the deli meats to the unhealthy, processed foods that neither should be eating but do anyway. By the end, the cart was full of food and Chanyeol was holding onto a new stuffed animal that Minseok let him pick for being good.
“Let the lady scan your plushy, Yeol.” Chanyeol’s eyes grew wide as he hugged the dog plush, not wanting to give it up.
“That’s okay, sweetie. I’ll just scan the tag from here and you can still hold onto him.” The lady had smiled and leaned over the counter with the detachable barcode scanner in hand to scan the plush.
Chanyeol hid behind Minseok after the plush was scanned and everything was being bagged and loaded into a new cart. Minseok paid for the food and soon they were heading back to the car to go home.
It seemed as though night time was when goofball Chanyeol came out. He was always giggling or letting out a booming laughter with his whole body. Always giddy and excited, like a puppy.
“Channie,” Minseok laughed out as his tall boyfriend wiggled in his lap, “What movie should we watch tonight?”
“Uhh,” Chanyeol whipped his head up from its spot snuggled into Minseok’s stomach. He slid off the couch and crawled over to their movie collection that sat in the bookcase beside the television.
Minseok watched Chanyeol with a soft smile, admiring his boyfriend looking so small yet large. His legs were folded under him and shoulders curling into his body as he scanned through the movies. It wasn’t long before the younger was scooting back to Minseok with a movie in his hands.
“Can we watch this?” Chanyeol asked with wide eyes as he held the DVD case up in front of Minseok. It wasn’t the usual Zootopia movie, it was different, something Minseok didn’t know they owned.
“Are you sure? It might be too violent for you, Yeollie.” Minseok let his hand fall into Chanyeol’s mop of curls, running his fingers through the soft strands. It was near time to go and get his hair redyed to his natural color, the lavender fading to a grey tone.
“Mhm.” Chanyeol nodded and went to the disk player, turning it on and setting the DVD into the slot.
“Okay, now come back over here.” Minseok smiled and watched as Chanyeol bounced back to the elder with a remote in hand and his own wide grin on his face.
Chanyeol laid down on Minseok, his head resting on his boyfriend's chest and body curled around the other. Their legs were tangled and an arm was tucked around Chanyeol’s wide frame, lazily rubbing at his side to comfort the younger. Chanyeol’s arms were wrapped around Minseok after handing him the remote to start the movie.
Before Minseok had a grip on the remote, there was a knock at the door. Chanyeol whined with a pout as Minseok patted his butt a few times before standing from the couch.
“Chanyeol!” Jongdae’s loud yell was heard as soon as the door was open. He already had his shoes off and was leaping onto Chanyeol who was still lying on the couch.
“He wanted to come over since he had a bad day at work.” Kyungsoo explained with a sigh, leaning down to put Jongdae’s shoes in his own designated cubby Chanyeol gave him.
“That’s fine we were about to watch a movie anyway.” Minseok smiled, helping Kyungsoo with a few of the bags in his arms, “What’s with all the bags, Soo?”
“Backpack is Dae’s. One’s my bag with the papers I need to grade and I think the small one is Jongdae’s lunch box? I picked him up from work and we came straight here.”
“Ah. I’ll put his stuff in Yeol’s room.” Chanyeol and Minseok did share a room together, but with Chanyeol needing a work space and a place for quiet time, they turned the guest room into Chanyeol’s room. Jongdae and him sleep there whenever the duo are together.
It wasn’t long before Minseok was back in the living room with Chanyeol and Jongdae already laying on the couch and watching the movie. Kyungsoo was in the kitchen finishing up grading, staying away from the noise to stay focused. Minseok sat on the recliner in the corner of the living room and watched the movie along with the younger two, slowly drifting off to sleep.
To Minseok, the scene before him was like a dream. It was like the four of them were a family, a happy yet loud family. As he let the hands of sleep drag him down, he let the image in front of him become burned into his mind and a smile crawl on his face.