Chanyeol wakes with a start. His heart is thundering, and he isn't sure if it's his excitement or the exchange. He sits up too fast and his head rushes, vision fading, but that doesn't stop him from trying to get out of bed. It doesn't go well. First, his legs get tangled in the sheets; it seems that his soulmate is a sprawling, restless sleeper. He fights the bedding for a moment, still a little bit dizzy, and when he manages to get his feet on the floor, he swoons until he bumps into the bedside table. While he balances on it, waiting for his senses to settle, he takes a moment to marvel at how tall it is. His vision returns and his dizziness abates, and Chanyeol realizes that the table isn't all that tall after all. In fact, he's quite short.
Or maybe not short. Chanyeol has a very poor gauge for these things. He thinks that his soulmate could be very short, because he has very small, delicate hands, but everything is bound to feel short from where he normally stands. He gives out a full, hearty laugh at the though of his soulmate fumbling around in his own gangly body back home, and all at once, he's shocked with himself. His soulmate's voice is high and melodic, and his laugh is beautiful. Chanyeol falls in love with it instantly and vows to laugh as many times today as he can, just to hear it again.
He pushes off from the bedside table and turns, observing the room around him. It's not small, but it's not large either. It's bigger than Chanyeol's bedroom, though that's not some great accomplishment at this juncture in his life. He appreciates the relative neatness of the room, how beneath the small layer of clutter, everything has a place. The middle of the floor is clear, though there's an overflowing dirty clothes hamper in the corner. The furniture looks like it came as a set, all painted-white wood. The bedding, on the other hand, look mismatched, and there are no mirrors that Chanyeol can see. He wanders out into a short hallway, finds a closet on his first guess, and a bathroom on his second. He pushes toward it, still stumbling over his shorter legs.
The moment he flips the lights on, Chanyeol's breath catches in his throat. When the shock passes, he smiles and he can't stop smiling. His soulmate is beautiful. Chanyeol ruffles his mousy, wavy hair; caresses his high cheeks; traces the long line of his nose. He puckers and bites his lips, taken with how full they are. How they feel beneath his tongue and teeth. His heart speeds up when he thinks about how it will feel to kiss them. He laughs again, overwhelmed with happiness, and the sound and sight of it makes him laugh harder.
He wanders through the rest of the apartment, reaching out to run his hands over everything. There are two knitted throws draped over the couch in the living room and one fluffy blanket folded on the coffee table. He fingers all of them, thrilled by how soft they all are despite how hot it is right now. There are dishes in the kitchen sink, but Chanyeol has a difficult time telling if they're clean or dirty at first because they've been thoroughly rinsed off. Chanyeol catches the time on the clock on the microwave, and he's surprised by how early it is. He isn't usually awake before ten, but it's only half past eight.
Chanyeol fumbles back through the apartment towards the bedroom, looking for a phone or a letter or something. He knows that there's a chance that his soulmate didn't have time to prepare for their exchange, that he might have to figure out who his soulmate is on his own, but a more thorough search of the apartment is worth it just in case he can find a clue to start.
Sure enough, on the very bedside table that caught him this morning, he finds his soulmate's phone, still plugged into its charger. He grabs it, noting the post-in note on the back, and it has the passcode written in arabic numerals. So his soulmate got his aura, too. Relieved, Chanyeol smiles and punches the passcode in quickly. The home screen assembles, and a beat too late, Chanyeol realizes that he doesn't understand what he's reading. The smile drops from his face like it's weighted. His stomach clenches, but not out of excitement or happiness anymore.
"Fuck," Chanyeol says in Korean, and his soulmate's mouth stumbles over the word until it comes out accented and garbled. "I don't speak Chinese." He swipes through the phone with a rising desperation, disbelief chilling him. He locks the screen and puts the phone down, tearing through the apartment with a singular purpose now. There has to be something in here that he can read, something meant for him, something that will tell him who his soulmate is. Or hell, even where Chanyeol is at this moment. He stops at the window in his search, glaring down at the crowded streets below, out to the buildings, and it doesn't look like any city he knows.
His search is brief. There's a handwritten letter, separated from a pile of mail on the kitchen table. It is also written in Chinese. Chanyeol purses his lips and puts in a very good effort towards patience. He manages to set the letter back down without crumpling it. Out of ideas for the moment, out of motivation, he sighs, slumping down into a seat, and admires his soulmate's penmanship. Neat, but not so much that the scrawl of his hand is uninteresting. Chanyeol thinks that if he could understand the characters, he would be much more appreciative.
After wallowing for a few minutes, Chanyeol retrieves the phone from the bedroom. He has some trouble at first figuring out how to get to his settings, but through an intuitive interpretation of app icons and a little bit of good guessing, he finally switches the phone over to Korean. He crows in excitement when he realizes that he understands the names of the apps, though his enthusiasm dims when he finds that contacts and text messages are still in Chinese.
Chanyeol sifts through the phone, finding mostly gaming apps, texts and emails that he can't read, and Chinese news. He pulls up maps and finds out that he's in Changsha, which doesn't hold very much meaning to him. It occurs to him to try a translating app to interpret the letter, but it only takes one sentence before he's giving up that endeavor. It is in this that you are not a man in the morning, turn off an alarm clock. Chanyeol sighs and returns to the bedroom to get dressed.
His soulmate has left clothes out for him on the dresser, and he inspects them before pulling them on. They're simple, just a tank top and jeans. Chanyeol thinks that if he were as well-muscled and proportionate as his soulmate, he would wear tank tops freely as well. He finds a pair of shoes that slip on instead of tie, and it only takes two runs around the apartment to find his keys and a wallet. He folds the letter and then pockets it, then the wallet and the phone before daring a venture out into the hallway. He's just figuring out what key fits into what lock when a neighbor comes out, greeting Chanyeol's soulmate in Chinese as he does.
Chanyeol fumbles, and the neighbor stops, frowning at him. He says something else in Chinese, and Chanyeol finally manages to croak out a weak, "Do you speak Korean?" in his own tongue. The neighbor's eyes widen with worry first, and then with excitement. He rattles off a few quick exclamations, none of which Chanyeol understands, and then reaches out to grab him. Chanyeol withholds himself from getting dragged off just long enough to lock his soulmate's door before they're walking to the elevator.
When they're inside, the neighbor holds out his hand and asks for something. Chanyeol just stares at him. The neighbor repeats himself, more slowly and a bit more loudly, and Chanyeol sighs, turning out his pockets. All he has is a wallet, a set of keys, a phone, and a letter. The neighbor takes the phone from him. He taps at the screen a few times before handing it back to Chanyeol, who realizes he's made a call. He looks up at the neighbor, bewildered, and the man makes a gesture toward his ear.
When Chanyeol brings the phone up, someone on the other line is already speaking in rapid-fire Mandarin. He gapes for a moment, frustration with the neighbor and whoever is on the phone rising like a flood. "I don't speak Chinese," he snaps at both of them. The man on the phone quiets for a moment, and then says in Korean,
"So it did happen."
Chanyeol startles so badly that he almost drops the phone. "Wait, do you understand me?" he asks, evoking laughter from the other man.
"Yes. So if you're not Yixing and you don't speak Chinese, how did you know to call me?"
For a moment, Chanyeol doesn't even register the question. His soulmate's name is Yixing. Yixing. It's a pretty name, fitting for his soulmate's pretty face. The man on the line calls out to him to get his attention, and Chanyeol jerks out of his daze with a start. "There's a neighbor," he says, looking at the man. Their elevator stops on several more floors as they descend, tenants slowly filing in, and the neighbor keeps him close by. "He dialed for me."
"Ah, good. So…you don't understand Chinese." The man clucks his tongue. It's not a question, and the way the man says it is frustrating. Chanyeol frowns, wishing the neighbor had called somebody a little more helpful.
"He wrote me a letter," he says instead.
"Yixing? Yeah, I know. He kept asking me what he should put in it. I could probably tell you what he said right now, just because of how much he talked about it yesterday."
Chanyeol breathes out heavily, his patience worn thin. He hates how this rude stranger seems to be so close to his soulmate, and that he sounds so casual about it. He wants to ask who this guy is, anyway, but then he thinks about the letter in his pocket and how the alternative might be wandering around the streets of a foreign city looking for someone who can translate it. "I want to know what the letter says," he mumbles after a moment, letting Yixing's neighbor lead him out of the elevator and into the hall.
"Are you still in his apartment?"
Chanyeol digs his heels into the floor, resisting the neighbor's pull. The neighbor looks back at him, mouthing something that he doesn't understand. "No. I mean sort of. We're still in the building, but we're at the bottom floor now. I'm not in the apartment."
"I'm still with his neighbor—"
"Zhi Xiang?" Chanyeol repeats, frowning, and the neighbor lights up, nodding and pointing at himself. "Oh. Yeah, Zhi Xiang."
"Give him the phone."
Chanyeol does, handing it off with a shrug. Zhi Xiang takes it, speaking animatedly for a moment before becoming skeptical. He seems like a kind man, if somewhat of a strange one; somebody whose company Chanyeol would enjoy if he weren't stranded for a day in a foreign country. Zhi Xiang's voice is reluctant, almost whiny by the end of the conversation, but he hands the phone back to Chanyeol with a show of resignation, so when the man on the phone says, "I'm going to come pick you up," Chanyeol smiles his thanks.
"Zhi Xiang is going to stay with you until I get there. To make sure you don't do anything stupid while you're in Yixing's body."
That makes Zhi Xiang's whining a bit more reasonable. Chanyeol tries to look appropriately apologetic. Yixing's face is weird, though, and it doesn't pout the same way Chanyeol's own face does, so the end result is Zhi Xiang laughing at him hard enough to double over. It startles a few other people walking through the hall, and Chanyeol finds himself even less in control of Yixing's face. At least Zhi Xiang isn't scowling anymore.
"Okay. I'll be over as quick as I can. Bye."
Before Chanyeol can get the man's name, the call ends and he's left staring at the empty screen. Zhi Xiang is just managing to control his laughter, and he takes Chanyeol by the shoulder, leading him to the entrance of the apartment complex. There's a small overhang, thankfully, because even in the shade, Chanyeol is sweating. His empty stomach leaves him no more prepared to endure the heat than his tolerance for the slightly more reasonable summers in Seoul. Zhi Xiang is wearing a long-sleeve button down and doesn't seem to notice at all.
Chanyeol fidgets while they wait, troubled by the silence. Maybe if he were waiting by himself it wouldn't bother him, but there is someone right next to him who he knows is friendly, and every fiber of his being wants to strike up a conversation, his tongue already curling around a greeting when he remembers that the words will fall flat the moment he speaks them. He sighs and shifts his weight around repeatedly. Zhi Xiang, for his part, looks equally bored and embarrassed.
Chanyeol is waiting for a car, but the man from the phone call comes on foot, and he doesn't come alone. Zhi Xiang greets them amicably, and that's how Chanyeol recognizes them. They both look deceptively kind, with pretty faces and mischievous eyes. Then the shorter one speaks Korean without an accent, asking Chanyeol about his home. Chanyeol is impressed until the man admits to also being Korean; Chanyeol doesn't get the chance to ask him more about that.
"So what's your name?" the taller one asks, inspecting Chanyeol like he'll see anything except Yixing.
"Chanyeol," he says, starting to put his hand out and then thinking better of it. The man knows this face, he knows this body. Shaking hands is for strangers. Chanyeol feels like a stranger, but he knows he doesn't look like one. The man's mouth twitches in amusement at the aborted gesture.
"I'm Lu Han," says the man from the phone call, "and this is Minseok." He nods towards the shorter man, who smiles serenely. Zhi Xiang jumps in, glancing at his watch and saying something quickly, and both Lu Han and Minseok respond kindly and fluently. Zhi Xiang waves to Chanyeol before darting off down the sidewalk. "Anyways," Lu Han says, "do you have the letter?"
"Yes." Chanyeol starts to pull it out, but Minseok stops him, placing a hand on his shoulder.
"Why don't we find somewhere to sit down first?"
Lu Han looks at Minseok with a glowing smile, and Chanyeol wants to roll his eyes. He doesn't because that's rude and he needs their help, but his impatience with this exchange is dulling him. He's spent his whole life craving what they're sharing right now, craving that bond, but his soulmate wrote him a letter in a language he doesn't speak, and it feels like a brick wall between himself and his own bond.
They take Chanyeol to a café, where they both order coffees and Chanyeol orders nothing even though they offer to buy for him. Chanyeol lays the letter out on the table, smoothing the creases and pushing it towards Lu Han. Lu Han takes it and smiles, pointing at the very top of the paper where something seems to have been written and erased several times.
"He didn't know how to address it. He asked me about that. I guess he erased it in the end."
Chanyeol nods, leaning forward.
"Okay. Dear soulmate. He didn't put that, I mean, that's what he erased, but whatever. Dear soulmate," Lu Han starts, pointing to the words as he reads them. He moves at a tortoise pace, mind working slowly while his mouth works quickly. "I turned off the alarm clock, in case you're not a morning person. So good morning or good afternoon! I'm not sure which. I guess he wanted to greet you," Lu Han adds, glancing up at Chanyeol. "He drew a smily face here, too," and he pushes the letter back towards Chanyeol, pointing it out. Chanyeol's chest flutters, a warmth spreading through him, and he looks down at Yixing's hands, awed by the fruits of their labor.
"Welcome to Changsha. You probably already know where—" Lu Han starts to interject, but Chanyeol is nodding him eagerly along, so he cuts himself off. "I have lived here almost my entire life, except for my time going to school in Beijing. I know the dialect can be tricky, but I hope you will not have a difficult time getting around today." Lu Han tears off into laughter, Minseok cracking a small smile, and they both look up at Chanyeol. "Sorry, I guess—I think he thought you would speak Chinese. Dialect," Lu Han mutters, laughing again. "Okay, sorry.
"I have left clothes on the dresser and meals in the fridge for you. If you need help, the man in the apartment directly across the hall is very kind and helpful. His name is Zhi Xiang, but he does work during the day, so please be mindful of that. You may also call Lu Han, who I have asked to be ready for today—that's me," Lu Han adds proudly, even though Chanyeol knows that already.
"As you go through my life, you will probably find out several things. First, I am a nurse. I love my job, and it holds very much significance for me. Second, I love music. It is also a very important part of my life and I—oh, he put something…like a post script or something in the margin." Lu Han squints and leans in to read it. "If you find my guitar, please be careful with it! Okay. It's pretty old, actually, so be really careful if—"
"Yixing plays guitar?" Chanyeol manages, his chest tight with excitement. He unclenches his hands when Lu Han and Minseok look at him oddly, and Minseok nods.
"He plays a few different instruments. He writes music, too."
Chanyeol closes his eyes and sits back in his seat, breathing deeply to calm himself. When he looks back at Lu Han and Minseok, they're glancing at each other with worried faces. "Sorry," Chanyeol says slowly, a grin splitting his face in two. "I—back home, I'm a musician. Too. I—that's what I do for a living."
Revelation smooths out their expressions, and Chanyeol may be seeing things, but he thinks they look almost…pleased by that. He smiles weakly in return. Lu Han looks back down at the letter, finding his place with his finger. "Second, I love music. It is also a very important part of my life and I enjoy producing my own songs on my days off. You know, he keeps recordings at his place. You could probably listen to them later. Actually, you two could probably," Lu Han gestures vaguely with his free hand, "you know. Compose together. Anyways, Third, I love to dance. I do it whenever I'm not working or writing music. I can't think of a fourth thing, so I'll let you figure that out if we meet. He drew another smily face, with one of those—" Lu Han gestures vaguely towards his forehead, "—sweat drop thingies." Chanyeol leans over to see it and laughs when he does.
"I do not know what I will find when I wake up tomorrow. I hope that you are well and excited for me like I am for you. More than anything, I hope you are happy. If I wake up beside your partner tomorrow—" Lu Han stumbles here, glancing up at Chanyeol, but his gaze doesn't linger long enough for Chanyeol to dispel such implications, "then I want you to know that I do not expect anything more than what you are willing to give. Let us make the most of this exchange! Whatever happens when I wake up, I hope that you are waking up cheerfully in Changsha!
Be careful with my body and make the most of your day—Zhang Yixing. That's—he really means all of that, by the way. The great day stuff and making the most of everything…," Lu Han trails off, watching Chanyeol contemplatively. "It's just how he is." He pushes the letter back towards Chanyeol, who takes it with a newfound reverence.
"He's going to wake up alone," Chanyeol says, staring at the foreign characters on the paper. He runs his fingers across them, feeling the indents where Yixing pressed his pen down too hard in some spots. "And he might hit his head when he wakes up." Lu Han's brow raises while Minseok's furrows, and he laughs at them. "I'm tall." It feels strange saying it in such a short body, but it's true. "I left him a letter, too. Does he speak Korean?"
Lu Han nods. "Some. He learned it after we met in Beijing."
Minseok raises his hand. "They both did, to help me learn Mandarin."
"And then I kept learning, after we got together," Lu Han adds, lacing fingers with Minseok in plain sight.
Chanyeol studies them curiously, his tolerance for other couples improved now that he understands his letter. "And when did you two…?"
"We got married almost three years ago," Minseok offers, smiling like a newlywed. Chanyeol warms at the sight, but he clears his throat.
"Oh, I meant—your exchange?"
Lu Han frowns then, Minseok averting his gaze. "We didn't. I mean, we haven't. Yet."
"Oh." Chanyeol sits up, surprised and embarrassed. "I'm—sorry, I didn't mean—"
"It's fine," Minseok says, waving him off with an uncomfortable laugh.
They offer to take Chanyeol out to lunch, who protests because all he wants to do is sit here and ask more questions about Yixing. Does he cook? Does he work out? What kind of movies does he like? Is he more of a stay in or go out kind of guy? How does he feel about pets? What kind of men does he find attractive? More than anything, Chanyeol wants to ask if Yixing is the kind of person who will give up his life to move for his soulmate. He doesn't, because he feels guilty even thinking it, but Chanyeol is just starting to get recognition in Seoul. He's closer to a record deal than he's ever been in his life, and he knows that he can't leave right now.
Lu Han must perceive what he's withholding, though, because he stops Chanyeol with a hand on his arm when they begin to part ways. "Be good to him," Lu Han says. "He's been waiting for you. He's—Yixing is the most selfless person you will ever meet. If you ask him to wait, he'll wait. If you want a long-distance relationship, he'll do it. If you ask him to move to a foreign country…" Lu Han trails off, fixing Chanyeol with a pointed stare. "And he'll be happy no matter what he does, as long as you're good to him. So just…"
"Be good to him," Chanyeol finishes, his voice choked.
"Yeah." Lu Han drops his hand, and Minseok takes it. He smiles silently, and they bow before turning away. Chanyeol starts his own walk back, glancing over his shoulder at them every once in awhile until he can no longer see them. Married, and they don't even know if they're soulmates yet. That must be love.
He gets back to the apartment, stopping at the front desk to ask what floor he's on, and he goes to the fridge first. Yixing has prepared several different dishes, all of which are labeled for him in a language he can't read. He pops the tops of the tupperwear containers and sniffs to choose his lunch, but it's not as easy as he thought it would be. It all smells amazing, and he ends up picking randomly rather than trying to narrow it down. He even moans when he takes the first bite of whatever he chose, some sort of stir fry, and he desperately wants to be back in his own body just so he properly bribe Yixing for the recipe.
Chanyeol cleans up his dishes when he's done, rinsing them thoroughly and laying them amongst the others that Yixing has left in the sink. He opens up all of the drawers and cabinets in the kitchen before deciding that he'd much rather be doing this in the bedroom, and after only a moment of hesitation, he decides that he might as well. After all, he wouldn't mind if Yixing did the same in his bedroom. The first thing he searches for are Yixing's recordings and a CD player. Chanyeol chokes up when he hears his soulmate's voice, his bluesy guitar picking. It takes a moment, but he swallows down the emotion in his throat and starts pulling at Yixing's dresser curiously.
The top drawer is all scrubs. Some are pushed away to the back, blandly colored and embroidered with school crests. Chanyeol smiles, amused that Yixing must have kept his student uniforms. The ones closer to the front are also mild in color, but they're well-worn and soft. Probably from being washed often. There are some in the middle that have outlandish patterns on them (Chanyeol appreciates a very loud Mickey Mouse-themed pair for awhile) that Chanyeol wonders if Yixing wears anymore (as well as why he wore them in the first place).
Another drawer is shirts, many of which are tank tops. Chanyeol laughs and rifles through them. He wonders if Yixing wears tank tops even in the winter. He must have an impressive pullover collection if he does. A third drawer holds a few pairs of jeans, some shorts, and an abundance of sweatpants, and the last drawer is an untidy assortment of socks, underwear, and undershirts.
Chanyeol pushes all the drawers back into place and slumps over to the edge of the bed. He pulls reluctantly at the drawers of the bedside table, unsure of whether or not he's allowed, but then he thinks that if he's inspecting the rest of the bedroom, Yixing will probably assume that he looked here as well, so he does. It's normal, for the most part. More socks and a couple pairs of underwear that have strayed from the underwear drawer. In the top drawer, there are headphones, some loose change, notebooks, pens, and—of course. Lubricant and condoms. Chanyeol smiles, feeling victorious. He picks up the condoms, trying to figure out what he can expect from Yixing by their size the same way he does with men in bars, and then it comes to him.
He's in Yixing's body. He drops the condoms abruptly and looks down at his crotch—Yixing's crotch—and immediately feels shocked and guilty. It's not like Yixing can really consent to touching himself today. That would be all Chanyeol. He knows that in Korea, it's outright illegal to go around having sex with other people during the exchange, but he's never heard much about the fuzzy lines around masturbation. He knows that if he's doubting, he shouldn't, but curiosity has taken hold of him.
The idea to shower comes in an epiphany. It's not like Chanyeol doesn't need it, anyways. He's sweated so terribly in the Changsha heat that he thinks he can smell himself without even lifting his arms. He throws his clothes into the overflowing hamper and keeps his eyes ahead until he gets to the bathroom, and he looks in the mirror.
It's everything he expected. Yixing's chest, his sculpted abdomen, his sharp hips. His cock. Chanyeol has never gotten hard from looking at himself before, but he's not really looking at himself right now. He's staring at his soulmate, who has the most beautiful body he's ever seen in his life. He wants nothing more than to run his hands down it, kiss it until it blossoms with blushes, mark it with his fingers and teeth. Make it his.
Instead of indulging in his fantasies, he turns around to get a glimpse at Yixing's ass, and he's not disappointed. Dancer, he thinks, smiling proudly. That's going to be his, too. He actually showers when he's done marveling, loving the mellow scent of Yixing's body wash, the freshness of his shampoo. He showers quickly, because Chanyeol is not in the habit of lingering in his showers, but he also hesitates before turning the water off.
It's impulsive, and he thinks that it could be something he regrets later, but he does it. He touches himself. And it's wonderful. Not because he's very good at it, because Yixing's body is so much different than his and he's having trouble figuring it out, but because he's touching Yixing. He has some difficulty determining how to fit his significantly smaller hands around his cock, but he gets it, and when he does, he has to lean against the wall of the shower to keep from sliding down. He fantasizes about being back in his own body and having Yixing beneath him, moaning the same way he is right now, and he comes so hard he's dizzy with it.
"Fuck," he gasps in Yixing's voice. He has to reach up to steady himself because he sounds so fucked out, so pleased, that he thinks he could almost get hard again just by listening to himself talk.
Chanyeol doesn't try. He shuts off the water and dries himself delicately, still sensitive. He roots around in Yixing's dresser and his closet for something to lounge in. The afternoon is fading into evening by the time he's finished, the music from the CD player has stopped, and his stomach is growling again. He picks another tupperwear container from the fridge without bothering to sniff it this time, assured that whatever it is, it will be amazing. It is.
He eats in front of the television, even though all of the channels are in Chinese. He puts on the news and doesn't watch it, more engrossed in his thoughts about Yixing. Some of them are apprehensive, like his worries about how they will be together when they're so far apart. Some of them are shameful, because it's impossible to stop thinking about how wonderful Yixing felt beneath his hands. Mostly, they're excited. His heart keeps accelerating whenever he thinks about it, meeting Yixing after this. Zhang Yixing, a nurse from Changsha, whose address Chanyeol has memorized so that he can find it later, when he's back in his own body.
He's smiling at the wall in a daze when Yixing's phone starts buzzing, and Chanyeol considers just letting it go to voicemail until he sees the caller information. It's a foreign number. A Korean number. That's Chanyeol's phone number. He stares at it for a moment before laughing, fully and deeply, and answering.
"Hello?" he says in Korean in Yixing's voice, and it feels very strange all of the sudden.
"Hi," his own voice says back to him, deep and alien after he's been parted from it for so long. "Do you speak Chinese?"
"No," he admits. "Sorry."
He laughs on the other line, or Yixing laughs inside of him, and it's strange. "I had to relearn Korean all morning to understand your letter."
"I had to find a translator," Chanyeol admits. "Did my letter—I mean, did you figure it out?"
"Mostly, yes. You're a musician," Yixing says delightedly.
"You are, too." They lull into a silence, and Chanyeol takes this opportunity to say, "You know, I never even thought to call you. I feel so dumb."
Yixing laughs. "It's not very romantic, is it? Or," he stumbles, "like the stories. Like—mysterious. Passionate? Using clues and letters? It feels like a shortcut."
"To be fair," Chanyeol says placatingly, "most of those stories have soulmates who speak the same language."
"I'll keep working on my Korean," Yixing says, and Chanyeol's stomach clenches. He'll be happy no matter what he does, as long as you're good to him.
"Yah, Yixing," Chanyeol whines into the phone, "I should probably learn Chinese, too. You can teach me, right?"
Chanyeol realizes that when Yixing laughs, it's in his voice, but it's not his laugh. He tries to listen to it more closely, to understand how it might sound in Yixing's voice, but Yixing is speaking again and he doesn't really get the chance. "I could teach you, if you want." Chanyeol is about to say that he does want, very much, because he thinks it would make Yixing happy, but Yixing cuts him off with a yawn. "Sorry, it's not even that late, but I'm normally in bed by now."
"Early to bed, early to rise?"
"My shifts usually start at five."
"Oh," Chanyeol says, dumbstruck for a moment. "Wow," he manages a moment later. "Well…we have each other's phone numbers now. You can…I'll let you go to sleep."
"Okay, Chanyeol." Chanyeol's stomach does flips, hearing Yixing call him by his name. "It was really good getting to see your apartment and your friend. I can't wait to actually meet you."
"You too," Chanyeol says, because if he says anymore he isn't sure he'll be able to stop. "Good night."
Yixing has already hung up by the time Chanyeol has begun to worry about which friend he's referring to. He spends the rest of the night praying that it wasn't Baekhyun.
Chanyeol has his guitar case strung across his back because he came straight here from the studio. He tries to stand out of the way because he's already hit several people with it on the train, and he's trying not to earn any bad karma right before he meets Yixing. People are streaming all around him, moving between luggage carousels, greeting loved ones, sitting down for a break after long days of travel. Chanyeol checks his phone compulsively, waiting for a text from Yixing. He hasn't heard from him since the plane landed twenty minutes ago.
"You're even taller in person," someone says behind him, and Chanyeol whirls around, almost knocking a woman out with his case. He apologizes to her before looking at Yixing, who is hiding a laughing smile behind his small hands. Chanyeol is helpless to smile back.
"You're—shorter in person," Chanyeol retorts lamely, but he opens his arms up and Yixing doesn't hesitate before stepping into them. "Do you already have your bag?"
"No. I was looking for you."
Chanyeol hums his response, knowing that he should let Yixing go so that he can get his luggage and they can leave, but he doesn't. He doesn't want to. He feels warm with Yixing in his arms; he feels right. It's the bond, but that doesn't make it feel any less real or demanding. To be fair, Yixing doesn't try to pull away at all, just presses his face into the breadth of his chest and exhales like he's relieved.
Yixing says something into the fabric of his t-shirt that Chanyeol can't hear, so he squirms until Yixing pulls away and repeats himself. "Is it weird that this feels so good?" he asks, and Chanyeol shrugs.
"I don't know. You're my first soulmate."
Yixing laughs and thumps his hand lightly against Chanyeol's shoulder. Chanyeol gives him a winning smile and, while they're already parted, takes the opportunity to grab his hand and ask, "Where are your bags going to come out?"
Instead of answering him, Yixing leads him to a crowded carousel that hasn't started moving yet. It's another fifteen minutes before the bags start coming out, and ten more after that before Yixing spies his suitcase. He points it out, and like a gentleman, Chanyeol retrieves it for him, managing to not hit anybody around him with it or the guitar case. He smiles victoriously when he hands the luggage over to Yixing.
They catch the first cab in the line and when they get to Chanyeol's apartment, he carries Yixing's suitcase up the stairs. Yixing sighs wistfully when they enter, looking relieved. "Coming back is so…different," he says. "But it sort of feels like coming home."
Chanyeol's throat tightens. He doesn't stop himself from pulling Yixing close, holding him tight, laughing when Yixing thumps against his side for air. He pulls away, but instead of breathing, Yixing kisses him. Chanyeol clutches at his shirt, Yixing's body so foreign and so familiar all at once. They fall onto the couch together, curled up in each other's space, and Chanyeol's head echoes with Lu Han's words. As long as you're good to him. Chanyeol holds Yixing with awe; he never wants to be anything less.