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I'll wait for you

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Title: I'll wait for you
Author: bluedreaming
Word count: 1840 words
Rating: G
Warnings: none
Author's note: written for the Marshmallow Writing contest on AFF.


Chanyeol is always late. It's 19:00 and they were supposed to be leaving for the banquet at 18:30 and Kyungsoo has texted and called and his fists are balling the cuff of his shirt — he's not worried, no, because Chanyeol is always late and this isn't anything new. He'd just wanted, for once, to arrive somewhere early, walk in and mingle and chat for a bit, not have to quietly tiptoe in the back and hope no one sees them. He sends Chanyeol another message:

Are you almost here?

He doesn't even bother checking for the reply he won't get; Chanyeol is great at checking his phone but terrible at responding —

* * *

"But I'd rather tell you in person!" he always protested, when Kyungsoo asked him for the tenth time why he couldn't even manage to text a quick I'm leaving work now as he walked out the office door.

"And that works so well when I'm texting you to ask you what kind of milk you want," Kyungsoo retorted sarcastically, after returning two hours late from the grocery store because he was waiting for a reply. His feet hurt and he was tired and he didn't feel like cooking anymore, a huge disappointment in itself.

"I know you'll get the kind of milk I want," Chanyeol replied with a sunny grin and Kyungsoo didn't have the heart to stay mad for too long, when they had cheerios and milk instead of pasta alfredo, curled up in front of the television to watch Spirited Away.

"See?" Chanyeol pointed out, working on his fifth bowl of cereal, "you got the right kind of milk anyway." He munched cheerfully and Kyungsoo only elbowed him in the ribs once, before snuggling into his side.

* * *

The kitchen is impeccable and the dress shoes on his feet are starting to pinch, so he takes them off and walks around on stocking feet, idly rearranging the pantry by alphabetical order and then by weight. He could go back to his office, there's an article still poking at the edges of his mind, begging to be proofread, but once he buries himself in his work he'll be even more frustrated if he's interrupted. Maybe I should just give up on this banquet. It won't be the first time, either, but something holds Kyungsoo back, keeps him circling the kitchen and absent-mindedly flipping through cookbooks for just a little bit longer.

* * *

He remembers the first time they met; Kyungsoo was still doing food reviews, just finishing up a meal at a nice Italian restaurant — nothing fancy but a very solid menu that delivers what it promises and friendly, professional waitstaff — when a minor ruckus caught his attention. A tall, gangly man, perhaps one or two years younger than him, burst into the restaurant, water dripping from his wet head and shoulders, a wind-swept bouquet clutched in one hand. He was breathing heavily, and somehow Kyungsoo couldn't look away.

"Is the other person for the 19:00 reservation still here?" the man asked the hostess, trying to catch his breath while simultaneously brushing the worst of the rain off his face.

"I'm so sorry," the hostess replied sympathetically, "she left nearly 30 minutes ago." The man looked crestfallen, and Kyungsoo happened to glance over at his watch. It was 20:22. She waited that long? That's pretty generous already.

He fully intended to get back to his crème brûlée, there was just this and a nice cup of coffee and then with luck he'd be able to complete his review and have it ready to send in by morning. But there was something about the man's expression — without even realizing what he was doing, Kyungsoo found himself waving him over.

"Yes?" the man asked, puzzled. You look like a lost puppy.

"I'm on dessert already," Kyungsoo smiled apologetically, "but it's still raining outside so you probably want to have a chance to dry off first. Would you like to join me until then?" Do Kyungsoo what are you doing?

But the man flashed him such a grateful smile that it was completely worth it; Kyungsoo had only offered a short respite from the rain but they ended up chatting over coffee and cake, because Chanyeol insisted on paying for his entire meal and their desserts out of thanks, and Kyungsoo couldn't figure out how to politely decline.

At the end of the meal, as an afterthought probably, Kyungsoo later tried to convince himself, Chanyeol presented him with the bouquet of peonies which had somehow managed to revive themselves. Kyungsoo smiled in polite thanks and tried to ignore the fluttering in his chest.

* * *

Kyungsoo has planned the next three weeks of meals in his head, compiled two multi-store shopping lists, and run through his entire writing schedule. There's still no sign of Chanyeol, and his phone is still entirely empty of responses. He's starting to get hungry too, they were supposed to have supper ages ago and he can just picture everyone else savouring the hors-dœvres and cocktails during the friendly mingling period, before gradually being led out of the foyer to the dining hall where linen-topped tables shining with porcelain plates, stainless steel cutlery and sparking crystal glasses await. He can taste a mimosa on his tongue, champagne and orange juice just the right mix of sour. Chanyeol I'm so mad at you right now.

He gets a water glass from the cupboard instead and pours himself a glass of water.

* * *

Kyungsoo hadn't expected to meet Chanyeol again, what were the odds of two only slightly less than strangers running into each other twice in the city, but he was somehow not shocked to find himself literally bowled over by a familiar figure, again umbrella-less.

"I'm so so sorry," Chanyeol began explaining, setting Kyungsoo back upright after being only a hair's-breadth away from landing on his back in a puddle, but he stopped in surprise, eyes sparkling when he saw who it was.

"Kyungsoo!" he exclaimed in delight, and Kyungsoo wasn't sure if he was more impressed that Chanyeol had remembered his name, or the fact that the tall man was once again late.

"I might as well give it up," Chanyeol said, looking at his watch. "The concert started two hours ago and I'm pretty sure that they won't let me in anymore."

Kyungsoo tried to look sympathetic but it was difficult when he wasn't sure if he wanted to laugh at the man's dejected expression or scold him for what seemed to be a chronic time management problem. Instead, he shocked himself.

"I'm just heading to dinner," he found himself saying, somehow on a "let's make friends" autopilot that he didn't know he possessed. "Would you care to join me?"

Chanyeol looked at him, surprised, but very much pleased as evidenced by the large grin that spread over his face and the way he took Kyungsoo's hand and swung it excitedly on the entire walk to the restaurant, even though Kyungsoo kept complaining that his hands were sweaty and to please let go.

* * *

Thinking back to their entire relationship, Kyungsoo can't think of a single time that Chanyeol's been on time for anything.

"Late for our first date," he tells the listening silence. Check. "Late for our anniversary." Check. "Late for our wedding." Check. Kyungsoo still doesn't even like thinking about it, he'd known for a fact that Chanyeol wasn't leaving him at the altar and yet there was that lurking doubt — what if what if what if? So when his fiancé had finally rushed in, a flurry of explanations tumbling out of his mouth that Kyungsoo was in too much of a state to even attempt to answer, he couldn't decide if he wanted to punch Chanyeol or kiss him out of relief so he ended up crying all over the front of the taller man's suit. Chanyeol had enfolded him in a huge hug, murmuring apologies in his ear and didn't even complain about the wet spots on the fabric.

"Chanyeol will never be on time," Kyungsoo reminds himself, the words hanging in the air. That's just the way he is. He sighs, slipping out of his blazer which he hangs neatly over the back of a chair before going to make himself a cup of coffee. He's just grinding the coffee beans he roasted yesterday, the repetitive motions of the hand grinder a soothing routine to take his mind off the banquet, when the keypad on the front door sings and the door swings open.

"I'm home!" Chanyeol announces happily, letting his satchel drop onto the ground and slipping out of his shoes; Kyungsoo can hear his satisfied sigh as he stretches his neck, vertebrae clicking back into place, and he forgets to be frustrated as he sets the coffee grinder back on the counter and goes to give his tall husband a welcome home kiss.

"You're late," he says, voice still slightly grumpy as he pulls away. Chanyeol checks his watch and instead of his usual reticence, he beams. What?

"No I'm not!" he says, grinning like he's performed a miracle. Which to be honest it seems like he has.

"We were supposed to leave for the banquet at 18:00," Kyungsoo points out, a frown furrowing his brow. "It's 19:30 by now.

Chanyeol only winks, and pulls out the invitation, offering it to Kyungsoo who peers at it for a moment, confused, until —

"Park Chanyeol you jerk!" he exclaims, poking his husband in the arm so that Chanyeol squeaks and makes pouty faces at him. The invitation lists a start time of 20:00.

"I told you it started at 19:00 and wrote that down in my calendar and on my phone so that I could trick myself into being on time and it worked!" Chanyeol is practically bouncing with happiness. "Now you'll never be able to threaten to leave me behind anymore!" Some days Kyungsoo isn't sure if he married an adult or a kindergartener. But Chanyeol is looking so pleased with himself that he can't resist, he darts up to give his husband a quick kiss.

"That's awesome," he says, fighting the urge to laugh at Chanyeol, "but you do know that that in the end I'll always wait for you, right?" They lock eyes for a moment, staring deep into each other's hearts, and Kyungsoo feels a tell-tale tickling in the back of his throat that he disguises with a tiny cough as he reaches forward to give his husband a hug.

"I love you so much," he whispers into the soft skin behind Chanyeol's ear.

"I love you more." Chanyeol's soft words tickle the sensitive skin of Kyungsoo's temple and he stifles a laugh before pulling away gently.

"Come on!" he says, "we can't be late!" Chanyeol waits for him to put on his blazer again and they slip out the door, on time for once.

Small miracles.