Park Chanyeol can’t seem to keep a shirt on.
It had start out innocently, the camera crew showing up on the hottest day of the year, Chanyeol already shirtless and smooth skin perfectly flushed and glistening from exertion. The production crew doesn’t even bother pulling him aside to mic him up, they start shooting right away, Luhan shouting orders while Chanyeol carries a large wooden headboard out of the moving truck, the muscles of his arms flexing while drops of sweat trickle down his shoulder blades and slide in between the cuts of his stomach. He grunts and hikes the piece of furniture higher, manuvering his way into the house, oblivious to the camera crew following his every move.
After several more trips, the bed of the truck is empty and Chanyeol stands on the lawn with Jongdae and Sehun, all of them spent and sweaty, a water bottle being passed between them. When it’s Chanyeol’s turn, he takes one large gulp before dumping the rest of it on his head, relishing in the cold water threading through his hair and down his neck.
“That’s it, that’s our shot,” Luhan gasps happily. When Chanyeol turns to him, wiping the water from his face, he startled to find Luhan gazing at him with stars in his eyes.
“What was what?” he asks.
But Luhan just laughs, brushing past Sehun and Jongdae and turning into the house, eager to get out of the blistering heat.
“You’ll see, Chanyeol. Trust me.”
Baekhyun has Chanyeol pressed against the back of their front door, all insistent lips and roaming hands as he arches against his front, demanding to be closer. Not that Chanyeol minds in the least. It’s Friday evening, and they’ve just arrived home after a grueling week capped with a stuffy meeting with the network’s higher ups. So Chanyeol doesn’t mind, not at all, that Baekhyun is rough when he tugs him down to crash their lips together, or that his grip is too tight on his scalp.
He’s missed Baekhyun this week too.
“Chanyeol,” he breathes, and Chanyeol hums, loving the way his name sounds when Baekhyun is needy and aching for him. He slides his hand down Baekhyun’s ass and grips firmly, pressing their clothed erections together and earning a delicious moan from Baekhyun’s mouth.
“C-Chanyeol,” he tries again, and Chanyeol smiles from where he’s sucking a bruise into the junction of Baekhyun’s neck and shoulder.
“No, wait, Chanyeol,” he says with more force, hands on his chest pushing Chanyeol away slightly. “Your phone.”
It’s only then that Chanyeol notices his phone buzzing in his front pocket. He digs it out with clumsy hands and manages to ignore the call, not even glancing at the caller before tossing his phone somewhere in the room.
“Not that I didn’t love the sensation,” Baekhyun teases, moving closer once more and Chanyeol feels his breath stall in his throat.
Baekhyun looks absolutely wrecked. His hair is utterly disheveled, the collar of his shirt gapes open from where Chanyeol had tugged it, a trail of his saliva is still cooling on Baekhyun’s neck, and underneath, a tell-tale purple mark already blistering across pale skin. And Baekhyun is staring at him with eyes blown wide with desire, dark and burning and all for him.
“See something you like?” Baekhyun says with a knowing smirk as he drapes his arms around Chanyeol’s shoulders.
“Just… how did I get so lucky?” he asks, voice and eyes and everything in him—full of reverence.
Chanyeol kisses Baekhyun again. Gone is the heated urgency of moments prior, replaced with something more tender. They kiss long and deep until Baekhyun is stumbling backwards, leading Chanyeol by the lips into the bedroom.
The next morning, it’s not just Chanyeol who has a slew of missed calls and messages. Baekhyun stands in their kitchen, brows furrowed as he checks his phone, coffee mug in hand. Behind him, Chanyeol is rushing about, trying to locate where he tossed his phone.
“Found it!” he proclaims loudly, gadget in hand and smile on his face.
Baekhyun makes no response.
“Is there any more coffee left in the pot for me?” he asks as he saddles up to Baekhyun’s side, reaching around the shorter boy to grab a mug from the cupboard.
“Congratulations, Park,” Baekhyun says and the tone he uses makes Chanyeol’s head snap around. Immediately, unease churns in his stomach.
Baekhyun finally turns towards him, all but shoving his phone in Chanyeol’s face. “Congratulations, you’re officially a sex symbol.”
When Chanyeol’s eyes manage to focus, his mouth drops at what he sees on Baekhyun’s phone.
Overnight, Park Chanyeol had gone from contractor and co-host of a new and, if he does say so himself, rather successful home improvement television show to bonafide national—maybe even international—sex symbol.
“I told you to trust me, Chanyeol, didn’t I?” Luhan laughs on the phone and Baekhyun frowns.
“Luhan, I can’t believe you,” he calls out only to be met with more laughter from where he’s on speaker.
“It’s not my fault Chanyeol wasn’t wearing a shirt,” he retorts, and Baekhyun shoots Chanyeol a look that makes the taller boy shrink back. “I think of myself as documentarian. I don’t create life’s drama. I simply capture it… And then put it on national television to be enjoyed by the masses. If you want someone to blame, blame your hot boyfriend.”
“It was a billion degrees that day!” Chanyeol protests, directing his pleading eyes towards Baekhyun. “I wasn’t the only one without my shirt on, Sehun and Jongdae and—and Jongin too! It wasn’t just me.”
“Yeah, and was the slow motion replay of Chanyeol dumping water on himself really that necessary, Lu?” Baekhyun adds.
Through the speaker, they can hear Luhan tsk at them. “Chanyeol, you’re the host of the show. Of course we’re going to focus on you. And that slow motion replay is what made you a star. You could be a little more grateful.”
Baekhyun groans. Clearly they weren’t going to get anywhere in this conversation. “A little heads up would have been nice, Lu. My phone has been bombarded by messages from people I don’t even know, and I think we’re going to have to get Chanyeol a new number all together.”
“A small price to pay to be lusted after by the masses," Luhan quips and Baekhyun rolls his eyes.
When they finally hang up, he stares hard at Chanyeol long enough that the taller boy squirms in his seat.
“Sorry?” he offers, face full of apology.
Baekhyun sighs, standing and dumping his cold coffee into the kitchen sink. Grabbing his keys, he considers getting a new number for himself when he feels Chanyeol’s hands on his hips.
“Are you mad?” he asks as he rests his chin on Baekhyun’s shoulder.
It’s so hard to be upset with Chanyeol—and Baekhyun isn’t even sure he’s done anything to be upset about—and with the way Chanyeol is looking at him so guilt-ridden and pouty, Baekhyun pushes down whatever he feels churning in his stomach and turns around in his boyfriend’s arms, smile on his face.
“No, I’m not mad,” he says, arms wrapping around Chanyeol’s waist. “It’s not your fault you’re not aware…” he mumbles while he rises up on the tips of his toes to whisper in Chanyeol’s ear, “of how hot you actually are.”
Baekhyun is rewarded with Chanyeol’s brightest smile and glowing red cheeks. He laughs and reaches up to drop a kiss on Chanyeol’s chin, the good mood between them restored.
But when Baekhyun tries to break out of Chanyeol’s arms, he finds he doesn’t get very far—is instead pressed against the kitchen counter and the hard planes of Chanyeol’s body. “Hey, wait, Chanyeol!” he protests weakly as Chanyeol laves at his neck. “We’re already late enough as it is!”
An hour and a half later, when they finally manage to leave their home, Baekhyun sends Chanyeol off with a kiss and a warning.
“Keep your shirt on, Park Chanyeol!”
After the initial shock fades, suddenly being known for something as arbitrary and senseless as his body, well, Chanyeol finds he doesn’t mind it. In fact, he kind of enjoys it.
Not so much because of his ego—although that certainly wasn’t a negligible factor—but because Chanyeol had always been a people pleaser. He likes when people like him. He enjoys making people like him. Ever since he was a kid and he charmed all the moms and grandmothers in his neighborhood and understood what satisfaction was.
So it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise when he starts wearing sleeveless tops to work. Sometimes tight enough to outline the muscles of his stomach and chest. Other times, cut so low down the sides it was a wonder he chose to wear a shirt at all. But at all times, he shows off his arms, what he considers to be his best feature.
Everyone takes notice of course.
Fan cafes and fan clubs begin popping up on the internet, articles pop up on portals like pann and nate that discuss everything from Chanyeol’s eyes—natural double-eyelid or not?—to his nearly hairless legs, to whether or not the tattoo on his forearm is real. There are even a few articles that tie in Baekhyun, the comments full of people debating whether or not they are dating—some heatedly pointing out couple items screen-capped from their TV show, other furiously denying that anything could happen between someone as hot as Chanyeol and as regular as Baekhyun.
Sometimes, when Baekhyun is at work, he reads these threads, and something always twists in his stomach when he reads that Chanyeol and Baekhyun would never work out!
Baekhyun rolls his eyes.
They’re on the couch, watching the latest episode of their show and Baekhyun has just seen Chanyeol slyly scratch his stomach on screen, hand sneaking under the hem of his shirt and giving teasing glimpses of his abs and the waistband of his underwear.
“Really?” Baekhyun scoffs, shaking his head.
Chanyeol snickers. “What?” he laughs and slings an arm around Baekhyun’s shoulders. “It’s fan service.”
“Aw, Byun,” he teases, already nuzzling into Baekhyun’s neck. “Don’t be jealous.”
Baekhyun rears back, hand on Chanyeol’s chest to halt his advances. “What did you say?”
Chanyeol blinks, clearly surprised by the turn of events and the harsh lines on Baekhyun’s face. He tries a charming smile. “Nothing, I didn’t say anything.”
Baekhyun stares at him for a long hard moment before pushing Chanyeol away. He doesn’t look at him again as he gets off the couch and moves toward the bedroom.
“Baek? I was just kidding. I—”
He pauses at the doorway. “Yeah? Well, it wasn’t funny.”
After the next episode airs, Baekhyun checks the threads and sees a burning discussion about Chanyeol being the real star of their show, and rumors of Baekhyun being released from his contact for the next season, and that’s why Baekhyun has been acting so strange.
He’s clearly jealous!
In terms of business, things remain ever the same—actually better, since Chanyeol’s rise to fame has brought Baekhyun into the spotlight by association. But they’ve always had a great work ethic and decent enough business sensibilities to recognize when they’ve got a good thing.
So if things are strained in their personal lives—the both of them walking on egg shells around each other and barely saying more than a handful of words to one another on a daily basis, never mind being intimate—that certainly wasn’t something new. And while Baekhyun continues to see Chanyeol slipping further and further away from him, he still can't bring himself to say anything when Chanyeol practically beams when Kris tells him how much interest he's generated in the show, their brand, and the network itself.
When Chanyeol comes home that evening, he’s surprised to find Baekhyun in the kitchen, the table set for two. He lingers in the doorway on unsure feet. "Baek?"
“Come sit down,” Baekhyun gestures to the chairs, pulling a bottle of wine out from the fridge.
“What’s this for?” Chanyeol asks as he sits himself down gingerly and eyes the spread. Baekhyun has really outdone himself and he doesn’t know what it means.
“I just got tired of eating take-out, I guess.” Baekhyun shrugs, pouring them each a glass of wine.
Dinner is silent and tense, the both of them starved for affection but at a loss for how to get the other to open up. For how to fix them.
“Did, uh, Kris tell you about the photo shoot?” Chanyeol asks between chews. Work seems to be the only safe ground between them these days.
Baekhyun nods. “Yeah, I was thinking we shouldn’t do it.”
Chanyeol looks at him, utterly confused. “Why? I was thinking it would be a great opportunity.”
“You know it’s basically a pin up calendar, right?”
“It wouldn’t be like that,” Chanyeol shakes his head. “You make it sound so trashy. It’s a feature in the network’s magazine, and the proceeds from its sale go to charity. I don’t see what’s so bad about it.”
Baekhyun reaches for his wine glass, swirls its contents around before taking a large sip. For courage. “Oh really,” he hums. “Did Kris also tell you what kind of concept they’d want?”
Chanyeol, at least, has the decency to blush. Kris had told him that they’d capitalized on his 15 minutes of fame and give the people what they wanted. Chanyeol, bronzed and greased up, sweating under the heat of the sun…while he cleans a pool. The clichéd fantasy of the masses.
And somehow Baekhyun had caught wind of it.
“Look,” Baekhyun said, putting his glass down. “I know you’re really enjoying the attention right now, I get that. But I think it’s bad for business for you to keep taking your clothes off and…doing the stuff you’re doing.”
Chanyeol mulls this over for a moment, pressing his lips together as if he’s debating on speaking or staying silent, but eventually he blurts, “But business is better than ever. We’re busier than ever before. So I take off my shirt. Big deal.” He looks at Baekhyun meaningfully. “It doesn’t mean anything.”
“I don’t like the idea of our business being based off of your abs,” Baekhyun argues. “They won’t last forever.”
“That’s what I’m saying! This isn’t going to last forever, so why not make the most of it while we can?”
Baekhyun feels his whole body grow hot with frustration. “I am asking you, as your partner, not to do this. Do you even see what people are saying about you?”
“I don’t care, Baek. And you care too much,” Chanyeol points out. “Honestly, you’re letting this thing—this dumb, insignificant thing—affect you. You have nothing to worry about.”
Baekhyun finishes his wine in one large gulp before pushing away from the table. He knows that Chanyeol is trying to be reassuring, but he’s missing the point completely. And he’s being dismissive of Baekhyun’s wishes and feelings.
“Chanyeol, if you honestly think this is about a photo shoot, then we really don’t have anything else to talk about.” Baekhyun stands, leaving his food cold.
“You’re an idiot, Baek.”
“I know,” Baekhyun whines from the floor of Jongdae’s apartment. “But he’s an idiot too,” he hiccups and Jongdae reaches for the glass dangerously close to Baekhyun’s flopping form.
“Oh, we all know Chanyeol’s definitely an idiot,” Jongdae nods before taking a pull from the bottle in his hand. “But I thought you had matured enough to be upfront with him. Especially seeing how well avoiding the subject had worked for you guys in the past.”
Baekhyun squints at him. “Hey,” he pouts. “I’m sad and hurt here. You’re supposed to do the comforting friend thing right now. This is the time for wallowing. So let me wallow.”
Jongdae sighs and opens another bottle of beer. He slides it towards Baekhyun, who smiles in appreciation. “Can I just ask why you didn’t just tell him?”
He stays silent for so long that Jongdae has to lean forward and check to make sure he didn’t fall asleep.
“Maybe I am jealous,” he admits slowly. “Not because of the attention he’s getting. But because he—he acts like he doesn’t have a relationship to protect. Like he’s still single. And I hate that I am feeling insecure. Because the more he caters to others, the more he seems to choose them over me.”
“Baekhyun,” Jongdae sits up and peers over the edge of the couch to make sure his friend can see him clearly. “You know Chanyeol would always choose you.”
“But why do I have to make him choose? I don’t want to be that petty boyfriend who gives ultimatums. Why can’t he just think about my me and how his choices affect me?” he complains.
“Because he’s Chanyeol!” Jongdae scoffs. “He’s the guy that is almost perpetually happy. The guy that doesn’t care about anything in the world except his work—and you. But most of all, he’s just a normal guy who can’t read minds. So if you don’t tell him how you’re feeling, you can’t really expect him to know.”
The television is on low in the background. Just then a commercial for the upcoming episode of their show comes on—Chanyeol disarming the camera with his usual charm as he beams on screen, the light hitting his face just right and setting off all his best features.
“You know, they really do make Chanyeol look really hot in this,” Jongdae observes and Baekhyun shoots up, eyes narrowed.
“Stop ogling my boyfriend—what the hell, Jongdae.”
“There,” the other boy laughs, head tilting back. “That’s how direct you need to be with Chanyeol. You never have a problem voicing your opinion on anything else, you pushy shit, so stop trying to be the understanding and tolerant boyfriend and talk to him.”
When Baekhyun huffs, Jongdae adds, “And for the record, I almost threw up in my mouth just saying those words, so you can take your uncoordinated, dopey giant of a boyfriend and keep him for yourself.”
Baekhyun takes another long swig. “You know, for all your terrible design choices,” he gestures around Jongdae’s apartment with an open hand and face screwed up in distaste. “You’re not half bad at his advice stuff.”
Jongdae throws him a look of disbelief. “Is that supposed to be a compliment?”
Baekhyun laughs, and Jongdae kicks him out.
When Baekhyun arrives home, Chanyeol is already in bed.
He washes up and throws on one of Chanyeol’s old shirts before climbing under the covers as quietly as he can. Chanyeol’s back is to him, cold and distant, and Baekhyun resigns himself to yet another night feeling lonely.
“I talked to Kris.”
Baekhyun’s head whips around, surprised that Chanyeol is still awake. When he turns over, hair flopping over his eyes and looking so boyish, Baekhyun clenches his hands against the sheets to keep him from reaching out.
“I told him I wouldn’t do it.”
In the next moment, Baekhyun is in Chanyeol’s arms, having launched himself at his boyfriend, sighing against his mouth as Baekhyun kisses him insistent and deep. Chanyeol pulls him on top, hands settling on his waist, and Baekhyun’s whole body trembles because he’s missed this.
“Thank you,” he mouths against Chanyeol’s neck. “Thank you. I knew you’d understand.”
“It’s what you wanted, so.”
Baekhyun freezes. “What do you mean by that?” he questions as he looks down at Chanyeol.
“Nothing,” Chanyeol avoids, reaching up to try and connect their lips once again. “Nothing.”
“No, really, what is that supposed to mean?” Baekhyun climbs off of Chanyeol, hard edge to his voice.
Chanyeol sighs in frustration, hands dropping to his sides as Baekhyun pulls away. “Are you seriously mad right now? I just told you that I wouldn’t do the photo shoot. I don’t know what else you want from me.”
Jongdae’s voice echoes in his mind. Just talk to him. Idiot.
“You know I love you, right?” Chanyeol isn’t looking at him, is staring pointedly at one spot on their ceiling. “Nothing changes that. Nothing is greater than that. And this stuff? It’s nothing.”
“It’s not nothing, Chanyeol,” he states slowly, heart pounding. “You may think it’s not a big deal, but I hate how this makes me feel. We’re not…public with our relationship, and I hate how people talk about you and make claims about you, and I can’t say anything or protect you. It’s like I don’t have the right even if I’m your boyfriend.”
“Baek, we made a decision not to go public. We agreed that it was nobody’s business.”
“I know,” he bites his lips. “But that was before. I don’t want to have to share you like this.”
“You’re not sharing me,” Chanyeol argues gently, reaching out for Baekhyun’s hand. “I’m completely yours.”
“I don’t doubt that, Chanyeol. I just—can’t you just think about me for once?”
Chanyeol looks stricken. “Think about you for once?” he laughs manically. “The one time I have something I want, and now I’m the selfish one.”
“Wait, Chanyeol. I didn’t mean—”
“Forget it,” he shakes his head before kicking the covers off his legs and getting out of bed. Baekhyun watches helplessly as Chanyeol rifles through some drawers before stepping into the extra bedroom. He groans, another failed night of not being able to understand one another.
The next evening, after Chanyeol has driven himself crazy thinking about Baekhyun’s words and all the possible meanings to them, he hears Baekhyun come out of their bedroom. He sits up on the couch, bracing himself for another confrontation and heated argument when Baekhyun rounds the corner and makes his jaw drop.
He’s barefoot, shoes dangling from his fingertips, and he’s got on dark blue shorts that barely cover his thighs, and a cream-colored sweater that shows the tiniest bit of his clavicles. His hair is styled in that intentional-messy, come-hither kind of way.
He’s dressed to kill.
Baekhyun doesn’t acknowledge him, doesn’t even spare him a glance, just breezes right by on his way out the door. Chanyeol stands, taking in the way his shorts accentuate his thighs and ass.
“Uh, Baek?” he asks as he follows Baekhyun to the front hall.
“Where are you going?”
“Where? Alone?” he questions from where he’s hovering over Baekhyun.
“Just out. With Jongdae. And no, you can’t come along.”
Immediately, Chanyeol sees red. “Are you—are you getting back at me?” he spits. “Fucking hell Baek—it’s just a photo shoot. They’re just pictures. I can’t believe this.”
“Don’t wait up,” Baekhyun tosses out as he grabs his keys.
Chanyeol slams his palm against the door, effectively trapping Baekhyun against it. “Don’t play with me, Byun,” he growls, eyes flashing and making desire flick up Baekhyun’s spine.
Baekhyun looks up at him blankly. “I’m just going to hang out with Jongdae? Your friend?”
“Not dressed like that you’re not.”
“Excuse me?” he blinks again, feigning innocent. “Is there something wrong with how I’m dressed?”
“What did I say about playing games with me, Baekhyun. You know there is.”
Baekhyun just laughs. “But these are just shorts. This is just a sweater,” he smiles. “So please move, I’m going to be late.”
“No,” Chanyeol stands firm when Baekhyun tries to push him away.
“Honestly, Yeol, you’re getting worked up over nothing,” he says nonchalantly as he tries again to slide out from where Chanyeol has him caged against the door. "It's not like I'm walking out of here half-naked."
“Stop it. You’re not going,” he says again, hard edge to his voice.
“And why’s that?”
“Because!” Chanyeol yells. “Because no one should see you like this!”
Baekhyun’s mouth twitches. “And why’s that?”
“Because,” he stares at Baekhyun, eyes burning darkly.
And then Chanyeol leans into Baekhyun and claims a searing kiss.
“I still think there were better ways to prove your point,” Chanyeol states.
Baekhyun laughs from where he’s nestled against Chanyeol’s chest, the both of them cuddled up on the couch, relishing in each other’s touch. It’s been so long since they’ve even held each other. “But this was the most effective, I think.”
Chanyeol hums, hands sliding under Baekhyun’s sweater and trailing along his spine. “I couldn’t believe it when I first saw you. Jealousy. Possessiveness. Desire. I felt all of it at the same time. And anger. Because you were going to let others—strangers—see you like this.”
“And now you know how I’ve been feeling for the past few weeks,” he says quietly. “There are some things that are meant to only be shared between us, Park. Some things that should remain between us.”
“I’m sorry, Baek,” Chanyeol looks at him, his whole face full of remorse. "I went crazy after seeing you like this for one minute, I can’t imagine having to deal with these feelings for weeks.”
“It wasn’t easy,” Baekhyun chuckles, squeezing Chanyeol’s waist and burying his head in his shirt. “I knew how much you wanted to make people happy, and I didn’t want to be petty and make you choose.”
“There's no one I like making happy more than you," Chanyeol says, incredulous that Baekhyun would even think otherwise. "It doesn't matter to me if I make the whole world happy if you're miserable." He feels Baekhyun nod against his chest.
"Baek, you need to talk to me when things like this come up. I couldn’t understand when you would act moody and get upset. I knew you were uneasy about the attention, but the only thing you'd ever bring up was that it was bad for business. But even I could tell that was bullshit. Still, you wouldn't talk to me. I thought you were worried that something might have changed the way I feel about you.”
“I will, I promise.” Baekhyun nods before lifting his face. “You know, I didn’t mean to insinuate that you don’t think about me. I know you do. More than you should, actually,” he says sheepishly. “And this was never about me doubting you, Chanyeol. I trust you more than anyone.”
It’s sweet the way Chanyeol blushes from his words. "You're so cute when you blush, Park."
“Are these new?” he asks, changing the topic and tugging on the waistband of Baekhyun’s shorts. “I’ve never seen them before but, god, the things they do for your ass.” As if to prove his point, he gives his butt a few appreciative taps.
“Park,” Baekhyun reaches up and whispers. “You know, this is only ever for you.” He begins to unbutton Chanyeol’s shirt, kissing down his chest.
In the end, Chanyeol ends up agreeing to the photo shoot.
Chanyeol and Baekhyun giggle at the sight of each other all done up in hair and makeup, partake in too many snacks from the craft table, and fawn over all the other photos of celebrity designers and personalities from their network participating in the special issue.
The concept is simple: loving domesticity that has the couple dressed down in t-shirts and jeans and “cooking” breakfast in the kitchen, lounging in sweats while playing video games in the living room, looking dapper and suave in suits as they get ready for a night out on the town in the master bedroom and ensuite.
And through it all, Park Chanyeol’s shirt stays on.
When Baekhyun checks the messages boards again after the release of the magazine, he hides his smile when he sees the sheer amount of broken hearts that they’ve left in the wake of them announcing their relationship status to the public. He feels delighted when he reads comments congratulating the couple—some rejoicing that their ship was officially sailing—and wishing them lots of love and longevity. Not all are happy, as hopes are dashed, but Baekhyun can’t quite bring himself to feel guilty for their disappointment.
“What are you smiling at, Byun?”
Baekhyun turns his screen, showing the results to Chanyeol, who takes one long interested look at the comments before shrugging his shoulders. “You wanna grab lunch?” he asks.
“Yeah, give me a second.” Baehyun smiles, happily. It might not be the easiest thing to date a national sex symbol, but Chanyeol makes it worthwhile.