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Yixing is… unexpected.

That would be the best way to cover everything, if Baekhyun was ever asked (not that anyone would), but it’s true.

Zhang Yixing was and is the most unexpected thing to ever happen to Byun Baekhyun.

-

[Summer 2008]

“Baekhyun stop cheating!” Jongdae half yells, half whines.

“Yah, there’s literally no way for me to cheat!”

Sehun chimes in with, “There really isn't. Stop being a sore loser, Jongdae.”

Baekhyun giggles while Jongdae falls to the floor with another overdramatic whine. Baekhyun likes when Sehun comes to his defense for things, though he doesn’t completely know why.

Jongdae’s whining comes to a halt when there’s a knock on the front door. Baekhyun’s mother calls from upstairs for Baekhyun to answer it, so with a long-suffering sigh, he rolls off the couch and does so.

It’s a boy at the door, roughly his own age, Baekhyun thinks. Same height, dark, almost black hair. His cheeks raise and a dimple appears when he smiles. “Hi,” the stranger says. “I’m Zhang Yixing. Lu Han’s cousin. My aunt told me to introduce myself, so here I am!”

Baekhyun wracks his brain. Lu Han Lu Han Lu Han… oh! Baekhyun’s across-the-street-neighbor. The Chinese boy a couple of years older than him. He just graduated high school and is pretty and intimidating. Not that Baekhyun thinks boys are pretty… but if he did, well. It hits Baekhyun then that this Yixing has an accent. He must be Chinese as well. “H-Hi,” Baekhyun says eloquently, a voice in the back of his head telling him that Yixing is just as pretty as Lu Han. He promptly ignores such a thought. “I’m Baekhyun. Nice to meet you.”

Yixing’s smile only widens and suddenly he’s stepping into Baekhyun’s space and hugging him??? Baekhyun squeaks uncertainly and pats Yixing’s back to be polite but is overall overwhelmed and not really sure what’s happening.

To only further Baekhyun’s confusion, with wide eyes he watches Yixing enter his home without permission and approach the couch his two best friends are lounged on and playing the video game without him. He’s temporarily distracted from the stranger in his home. “What the hell guys, now who’s cheating?!”

Jongdae just cackles while Sehun at least throws an apology over his shoulder. “Jongdae started it. I couldn’t not defend myself. Sorry.”

And then Yixing finds the abandoned controller and sits down next to Jongdae, and within ten seconds--Baekhyun watching on, frozen--has taken down both Jongdae and Sehun without using hardly any of Baekhyun’s ammo. Jongdae squawks and both friends on the couch round on Yixing and clearly expect it to be Baekhyun sitting there with the way they both start at the sight of a stranger instead. “Who are you?!” Jongdae demands, scooting closer to Sehun.

“I’m Yixing!” He shrugs and shoots an excited grin over his shoulder at Baekhyun, who will never forget the way his heart stops at the sight.

-

Baekhyun gets over the general weirdness of the situation quickly, because Yixing is like no one he’s ever met before, but Jongdae and Sehun remain mostly perturbed over the “intruder” for a while.

Yixing doesn't seem to ever stop talking. Not in the way Baekhyun does, because people are never interested in anything that Baekhyun has to say, but Baekhyun is interested in everything Yixing has to say. Jongdae thinks Yixing’s random questions are annoying. (Have you ever considered that dinosaurs might still be alive somewhere on Earth? was one of Baekhyun’s personal favorites; he indulged Yixing in conversation on that topic for an entire hour, not noticing until the end that Sehun and Jongdae had ditched them a long time ago.)

Yixing is also very touchy.

Baekhyun thinks he’s the only one who’s noticed--he hopes so--because it’s one thing his friends never comment on when Yixing goes home. To be fair, Yixing seems more perceptive than he lets on, only ever really touching Baekhyun. A squeeze of the knee here, an arm around his back there. Or the one time Baekhyun was telling some embellished version of his recent visit to detention and could feel the tips of Yixing’s fingers brushing his skin as he played with Baekhyun’s ratty Pikachu t-shirt, and Baekhyun felt his face get so heated he had to excuse himself as dehydrated and escape to the kitchen for some water.

Of course, Yixing followed him, all concerned as he seems to get over Baekhyun sometimes, and forced him to drink an entire glass of water before he left him alone.

Sehun eyed Baekhyun thoughtfully for the rest of the evening.

-

Yixing more often than not shows up at Baekhyun’s house unannounced, and Baekhyun pretends he doesn’t stay at home more just so he doesn’t miss him.

-

It’s maybe a month after meeting Yixing that Baekhyun ends up inside Lu Han’s house for the first time.

Yixing had asked the night before if Baekhyun wanted to come over, and Baekhyun agreed without hesitation, only to remember much later, when he was alone, that Lu Han terrifies him.

But it’s not so bad, he supposes. Yixing lets him in and leads him down a pristinely decorated hallway to the living room where Lu Han and another boy Baekhyun has never known the name of are cuddled on the couch. Baekhyun’s eyes go wide at the open display of affection and feels his insides coil tightly with unwelcome discomfort.

“Baekhyunnie, this is Lu Han and his boyfriend Minseok!” Yixing’s cheery voice cuts into the sudden haze of Baekhyun’s confused, fifteen year old mind. “Guys, this is Baekhyun!”

Baekhyun’s smile wobbles as he bows and says hello, but he doesn’t think anyone notices. Yixing sort of tilts his head at him, though, a little confused maybe. Probably because Baekhyun’s not being as chatty as usual.

“Yeah, we’ve lived across the street from each other for a couple of years now!” Lu Han exclaims, remarkably friendly. “Can’t believe we haven't officially met before.”

Baekhyun tries to match his grin and pairs it with a nonchalant shrug. “You start university this year, right?”

Lu Han’s grin only widens. “Yeah! And you’ll be a…”

“Sophomore.”

“Ah yeah, Yixing, too!”

“Okay,” Yixing cuts in with a laugh. “Come on, Baekhyunnie.”

Yixing suddenly grabs Baekhyun’s hand and starts pulling him out of the room. Heat rushes to Baekhyun’s face, his cheeks reddening as he glances between their cupped hands and Lu Han and Minseok, sputtering. “We-We’re not-!” But Yixing has him back in the hallway and the boys on the couch are giggling into each other’s shoulders.

Yixing doesn't let go of his hand and Baekhyun doesn't relax until they’re completely concealed by the staircase as they ascend it.

Yixing laces their fingers together.

Baekhyun takes a steadying breath and lets him.

-

Baekhyun goes through every important detail he knows about Zhang Yixing.

He’s Chinese. From Changsha, specifically. Lu Han’s cousin. Turns sixteen in a few months. Likes to dance. Likes music. Has an obsession with American band t-shirts. Doesn't know what personal space is.

Yixing doesn't seem like someone Baekhyun shouldn't trust, right?

Baekhyun tries to decide quickly because Yixing is at his bedroom window on the second floor of the house asking Baekhyun to come outside with him.

At one o’clock in the morning.

“Come somewhere with me, Baekhyunnie,” is the first thing Yixing whispered after Baekhyun struggled to get his perpetually jammed window open.

Baekhyun feels himself blinking rapidly, blushing for no reason. “I-I’m not supposed to be out-...”

Yixing giggles. “That’s why I didn't just knock on the front door, silly.”

Baekhyun opens his mouth, then closes it. He glances around his room as if someone might be watching him, then looks back at Yixing, terrified and thrilled all at once.

Yixing’s smile softens. “Do you trust me?”

And the thing is, Baekhyun goes through his list of things he knows about Yixing, shouts all of the cons of sneaking out inside his head, but he’s already nodding in agreement. “Yes,” he whispers.

“So come with me. I’ll protect you.”

“O-Okay.”

Baekhyun locks his door and Yixing helps him climb out of the window. He pretends not to be afraid of heights, but thinks Yixing might be able to tell, because he keeps whispering, “I’ve got you, Baekhyunnie.”

-

“Who’s that?” Yixing asks once they’re safely on the ground, looking up at a lit window on the neighbor’s house.

Baekhyun looks up too and rolls his eyes. “Kyungsoo. He doesn’t like me very much.”

Yixing laughs. “That’s ridiculous.”

“What is?”

“That he doesn't like you.”

“Why?”

“Because how could anyone?”

“How could anyone what?”

Yixing giggles and rolls his eyes and entwines their fingers together as they start walking. Baekhyun’s stomach twists, a constant mixture of uncertainty and butterflies. “How could anyone dislike you, Baekhyunnie?”

Now Baekhyun blushes, and is thankful it’s nighttime so that Yixing probably can't see it. “I know. I’m amazing, right?” He sure doesn't think so, but he’ll be damned if Yixing thinks otherwise.

Another giggle bubbles in Yixing’s throat and he breaks out into a run, refusing to let go of Baekhyun. “Come on!” he urges.

And Baekhyun does.

-

“Will Kyungsoo tell on you?” Yixing murmurs from where he’s plastered to Baekhyun’s side, from shoulder to knee, as they overlook the town from the nearest look-out point. They ran two miles to get here. It’s beautiful. Just rural enough to be mostly trees, with sprinklings of lights twinkling all throughout them. Haze floats awkwardly between the view of the ground and the view of the sky. Baekhyun likes it here.

Baekhyun shrugs and feels the way the movement nudges Yixing. “I don't think so. He’s pretty quiet. Definitely doesn't like me, but I don't think he cares enough to go to my parents, honestly.”

“Hmmm…” Yixing slumps and rests his head on Baekhyun’s shoulder, who goes rigid, but it doesn't seem to phase the relaxed boy. In fact, he sort of nuzzles closer. Baekhyun bites his lip because butterflies are fluttering around his stomach again, even though it’s not a girl snuggling up to him.

When Baekhyun’s head falls on top of Yixing’s comfortably, when his fingers curl and wrestle with Yixing’s playfully, Baekhyun just blames his exhaustion.

-

These nights happen often, once Yixing coaxes Baekhyun out of the house that first time.

They go to different places. The nearby park, the nicer park even farther away, the treehouse in Lu Han’s backyard. But more often than not, they end up at that same lookout cliff two miles away.

Yixing tells him all the places he would take Baekhyun if he could drive.

Baekhyun refuses to think of it as romantic.

-

It’s not until the end of the summer, when Baekhyun is red-faced and furious and exhausted, listening to an angry Jongdae yell at him that he realizes he sees Yixing more than anyone. He sees Yixing more than he sees his parents, whom he lives with. Everything is always Yixing, and Baekhyun has never considered that maybe that’s not normal.

“So what, Baekhyun, is he your new best friend or something?” Jongdae practically spits at him. Baekhyun flinches. Jongdae has what Baekhyun’s mother calls abandonment issues, to put it bluntly. She had explained it one day in a judging tone that Baekhyun didn’t like one bit, but it at least helped him understand Jongdae better. Jongdae’s father left a long, long time ago, and the boy who helped him get through it, Jongdae’s best friend from birth, Junmyeon, moved away a couple of years back and Baekhyun thinks Jongdae still doesn’t understand why, even though it wasn’t Junmyeon’s fault. A thirteen year old doesn’t exactly have a say when their parents’ job relocates them. Baekhyun and Sehun met him soon after, and took him under their wing.

The rest is history, as they say.

So Baekhyun mentally beats himself up a little bit, because he never intended to make Jongdae feel abandoned. The thought never even crossed his mind, because he wasn’t leaving Jongdae alone, he was leaving him with Sehun.

But maybe Baekhyun was abandoning two friends instead of one.

“N-No,” Baekhyun argues weakly, even though he does feel like Yixing is his best friend. But who said he can’t have more than one? Who said three was too much? “Dae, please. He just- you guys clearly don’t like him, but I do so I just-”

Jongdae’s anger deflates almost immediately. “We never said that.”

Baekhyun stares down at his feet. He wishes Jongdae was still angry. Because this is still Baekhyun’s fault. “You didn’t have to,” he murmurs. “You always look at him funny and get happier when he leaves.” He shrugs now.

“I’m sorry,” Jongdae blurts. “It was just weird when he first showed up, y’know. You thought it was weird, too. I guess I just never really got over it. Sehun either.”

“He’s not bad, you know,” Baekhyun gently urges, hope coating his tone. “He’s super nice and friendly and really good at video games and likes a lot of the same stuff we do-”

Jongdae laughs, loud, distress forgotten. “Calm down, Baek. If you love him that much, why don’tcha just marry him?”

It’s clearly a joke, one they’ve made many times before about various things and people, but it’s never made Baekhyun’s heart thump wildly in his chest and his face pale sickeningly like it does now.

-

Things are smooth sailing after that, Yixing’s last two weeks at Lu Han’s.

Baekhyun pretends he’s not completely dreading his departure and focuses on the happiness of seeing Jongdae and Sehun accept Yixing readily the next time they’re all together again.

They spend the entirety of a Dungeons and Dragons session with Yixing and Baekhyun’s ankles secretly hooked underneath the table.

-

It’s Yixing’s last night. That’s when everything changes. When Baekhyun’s entire world changes.

The knock on his window in the middle of the night never surprises Baekhyun anymore.

What does surprise him is that Yixing still bothers scaling the house to the second story, when Baekhyun is almost always already up and waiting for him.

“Why do you still climb up the window?” Baekhyun asks breathlessly as they run away from the house. He can already tell they’re going to the lookout point tonight.

Yixing throws a grin at him and they slow to a walk when they’ve run a couple of blocks, hands entwined. “To help you down. You’re scared of heights.”

Baekhyun sputters, embarrassed, even though he already figured Yixing could tell. “Wh- How do you know that-?”

With a giggle, Yixing shrugs innocently. “You’re easy to read. I know a lot of things about you, Baekhyunnie.”

Easy to read? Baekhyun forces his eyes not to widen. “Like what?”

Another giggle. “Come on!”

And then they’re running again.

-

Baekhyun is more tired tonight than usual, his body sluggish but his eyes wide awake. He knows it’s all the late nights catching up to him, but this is Yixing’s last night. Yixing leaves super early in the morning for the airport. He won’t even get to sleep, sneaking in right before he’s scheduled to get up. Baekhyun wonders if it’ll be easy for himself to sleep, knowing Yixing is leaving.

“Hey, Baekhyunnie?”

Baekhyun breaks his gaze on the hazy sky and looks at Yixing. “Hmm?”

Yixing leans over and kisses Baekhyun’s lips.

It’s soft, chaste, and a lot of things happen within Baekhyun at once.

Warmth, confusion, butterflies, resistance, reciprocation, panic.

Baekhyun tears himself away from Yixing’s soft, soft lips and scoots away for good measure, breathless. “Why would you-!”

Yixing is the picture of calm, a serene, if sad, smile on his face. “I’m sorry. I thought it would be okay.”

“But it-it’s wrong…” Baekhyun tries.

Yixing tilts his head. “No it’s not. Did your parents tell you that?”

Baekhyun bites his lip. “I-I like girls.”

“You do?” Yixing’s smile is curious, friendly.

Baekhyun tries to say yes but nothing comes.

Yixing cautiously lessens the space between them again and his fingers slide through Baekhyun’s. Baekhyun feels the warmth spread up his arm and across his shoulders. He shivers and Yixing says, “You can be yourself around me, Baekhyunnie. You can always be yourself no matter what.”

Tears fill Baekhyun’s eyes against his will. “What if I don’t know how to be myself at all?”

“I can help you,” Yixing murmurs, shaking his head and brushing hair from Baekhyun’s eyes with a practiced hand, as if he does it all the time.

Baekhyun sobs. “You’re leaving.”

“And I’m coming back.”

“N-Next summer?”

Yixing nods and scoots until there’s no space between them again. “I like you, Baekhyunnie.”

Baekhyun sniffles. The fingers gently stroking along his jaw feel so nice. His whole body tingles with it. That and the tangible confession.

“Do you like me?”

It’s the first time that Baekhyun has ever heard Yixing actually sound nervous, about anything. Baekhyun’s chest is still constricting tightly with panic but his body is in sync in that everything within him is screaming YES! He swallows. He nods.

A part of him starts to worry that this has all been an elaborate prank. What if he just admitted to liking a boy like that only for everyone he’s ever known to find out the next day?!

But Yixing’s face melts into the prettiest relieved smile Baekhyun has ever seen, and feels his worry melt away a little.

Yixing bites his lip. “Can I kiss you again? It felt nice.”

“Y-Ye-.” Baekhyun swallows again, nods again, his words too jumbled in his throat.

And so they kiss.

It feels like hours, but Baekhyun thinks it might only be a minute or two, of Yixing gently pressing their lips together, changing angles a couple of times while Baekhyun just molds his own lips accordingly, not entirely sure what to do. He’s never kissed anyone before.

It is nice, but his chest still aches. He finds his voice. “Please don't tell anyone,” he whispers painfully. “Everyone thinks I like girls I-”

“Shh…” Yixing shakes his head and leans in with a smile, kissing him again. “I’ve got you, Baekhyunnie. I swear.”

Baekhyun nods, deflating a little because Yixing isn’t here to judge him. Yixing has never judged Baekhyun for anything.

Yixing gently sucks Baekhyun’s bottom lip between his and a gentle gasp falls from Baekhyun at the feeling. He fumbles to keep up, presses closer, tentatively cups Yixing’s cheek with a trembling hand.

It’s new and scary and thrilling and Baekhyun realizes these feelings are nothing new when it comes to Yixing.

For the first time since this started, Baekhyun smiles.

-

“Do you promise you’re coming back, Xing?” Baekhyun whispers close to the other boy’s lips, wide eyes searching.

“I promise I’m coming back.”

-

When Baekhyun slinks into his bed just as the sun starts to rise, he touches his lips, still tingling with the memory of Yixing’s soft kisses.

-

[Summer 2009]

Yixing does come back.

Baekhyun almost can’t believe it, when Yixing shows up on his doorstep next summer, just as he had the very first time. Baekhyun has to glance back into the living room, because ironically enough, Sehun and Jongdae are there, playing video games.

Yixing smiles. “This feels familiar, doesn’t it?”

And then he just walks in.

Baekhyun takes a deep breath as he slowly closes the door, and can’t stop the grin that overtakes his face as he listens to Sehun and Jongdae shout enthusiastic greetings at the not-stranger joining them on the couch.

-

It’s when Sehun and Jongdae have left, when Baekhyun’s parents go out for dinner, that Yixing wraps Baekhyun in a tight, emotional hug. “I’ve missed you, Baekhyunnie,” he mumbles into Baekhyun’s hair.

Baekhyun melts into the embrace, putty in Yixing’s hands, tucking his face against Yixing’s neck and whispering back, “I’ve missed you, too, Xing.”

-

Baekhyun likes to think of the summer of 2009 as their whirlwind romance summer.

It takes a couple of days to get used to each other again, to catch up, but soon, it’s like every moment alone finds Baekhyun pressed into the shadows with Yixing’s soft lips on his.

It’s never for very long, or very heated. It’s merely a moment stolen, a glimpse of a double life.

-

“Have you told anyone yet?” Yixing whispers one night. It didn’t take long for them to start sneaking out again, either.

Baekhyun frowns over at the boy thoughtfully. It’s so strange that he went nearly a year, nine months, without so much as a word shared between them. He really did miss Yixing.

In a bold move that surprises even Yixing, Baekhyun wraps his arms around Yixing’s waist and snuggles into the crook of his neck. “No, I haven’t,” he finally murmurs.

He thought about telling Jongdae and Sehun. He got so close. But then the universe and it’s timing shoved an unwanted conversation with his mother on him, where she discussed with an unusually quiet Baekhyun how she just found out her secretary at work is a lesbian and has “never been more disgusted.”

Baekhyun snuck out that night by himself. He ran to the lookout cliff and cried into his hands until he felt nothing but emptiness.

“It’s okay,” Yixing says, rubbing his back comfortingly, as if he senses the memory of Baekhyun’s meltdown. “Never do anything until you’re ready, Baekhyunnie.”

Baekhyun’s hands clench in Yixing’s soft t-shirt and he nods before looking up at Yixing. He can feel his eyes glistening with tears he doesn’t plan on shedding and Yixing bumps their noses--it’s cute enough to make Baekhyun blush--before holding Baekhyun close and kissing him deeply.

Baekhyun has never felt warmer.

-

Sixteen is an interesting age.

I’m a man now! Baekhyun has found himself saying on multiple occasions, before Jongdae tackles him and they roll around in the dirt like children. Or dogs.

Sixteen is even more interesting when you have a… Yixing.

Sometimes Baekhyun really does feel like a man. He’s been given a little more freedom, in that he can stay out until 11PM with Yixing now, instead of 9PM, then sleep for a couple of hours and meet Yixing at the window again.

He can take his dad’s car with explicit permission, as long as he’s going no more than ten minutes away.

His parents deem him responsible enough to stay home alone for a week while they visit his older brother in Busan.

Baekhyun has someone to kiss and to hold hands with.

So yes, he feels very adult when he asks if Yixing wants to stay the night.

“No funny business,” he giggles jokingly into Yixing’s shoulder as they hug for no reason, masked in the shadows of the trees of the nearby park at three o’clock in the morning.

“Wouldn’t dream of it, Baekhyunnie,” Yixing giggles right back, playfully squeezing him tight and nuzzling into his neck.

Baekhyun briefly wonders what it will be like. Having Yixing spend the night in his room. Baekhyun’s never been allowed to have friends or Yixings stay the night before. But the thought flies away at the realization that it would probably be exactly like every night they spend together, except in air conditioning and with snacks and video games.

-

Having Yixing in his house alone makes it feel more like home than it ever has, but that’s too scary of a thought for a sixteen year old, so Baekhyun doesn’t dwell on it.

But he likes the lingering that happens without fear of someone walking in, or seeing them out in the open. The way he lingers in Yixing’s arms when Yixing wraps them around him from behind while they wait for popcorn to pop. The way Yixing’s kisses linger like they have all the time in the world for this.

They still fumble awkwardly sometimes, their inexperience glaring, but Baekhyun never minds, because it feels so right.

-

It’s late by the time they stumble into Baekhyun’s room to pass out. They don’t even question where Yixing will sleep, though maybe they should. But. Freedom and all that.

As Baekhyun has loosened up with Yixing over time, they’ve found that Baekhyun enjoys cuddling more than Yixing, which neither had ever considered possible, since Yixing loves cuddling. So it’s no surprise to anyone when he sidles up to Yixing under the covers, shy hands grasping, shaking his hair puppy-like and humming happily, silently asking for proper cuddles.

“You’re so cute,” Yixing mumbles before pressing as close as he can and molding their mouths together.

Baekhyun feels his cheeks heat up, but he smiles into the kiss. “You too,” he manages, still not good with, well, words, when it comes to this stuff.

Now Yixing smiles, clearly happy with the half-compliment, and he does that thing that Baekhyun loves so much, where he sucks on Baekhyun’s lips until he’s ready to lap into Baekhyun’s mouth, maybe suck on Baekhyun’s tongue instead.

He does just that and Baekhyun trembles with something he can only clearly label as desire. A part of him panics, momentarily. Not because Yixing gently rolls on top of him, not really, but because he’s so accustomed to always half-expecting someone to catch them kissing.

But he realizes they’re totally and completely alone just as Yixing asks, “Is this okay?” because he’s already more properly straddling Baekhyun’s thighs.

“Yes,” Baekhyun breathes, getting a hand around the back of Yixing’s neck and pulling him down gracelessly, searching for more kisses that drive him crazy.

It’s harder, hotter, Baekhyun thinks, than they’re used to, a silent urgency thrumming through their veins to taste each other thoroughly, to savor this because when will they ever have it again?

Several minutes into their unexpectedly heated makeout, Baekhyun isn’t sure if he’s flushed and panting because his dick is hard, or if he’s flushed and panting because his dick is hard. He whimpers into their kisses, too embarrassed to say anything, too turned on to tell Yixing to move from where he’s seated on Baekhyun’s lap, crotches firmly pressed together.

He thinks Yixing is hard, too.

Pleasure licks its way up Baekhyun’s spine, tingling across the surface of his skin, making him hyperaware of Yixing’s hand under his shirt, of the other one gripping the sheets next to his head as Yixing’s mouth devours him. Baekhyun knows he should say something now, but his sentence falls from his mouth as a gasp because Yixing chooses that moment to kiss Baekhyun’s neck--that is apparently really sensitive--which makes his entire body shift to accommodate the angle change and the combination-...

Baekhyun moans brokenly as warm wetness coats the inside of his boxers.

He leaves this plane of existence for a moment, barely even vaguely aware of Yixing’s now unabashed rocking hips, of Yixing kissing his mouth again.

When Baekhyun comes back to Earth, his eyes immediately well up with tears.

He should’ve said something. He should’ve sucked it up and dealt with the embarrassment of having to stop making out with his… Yixing, because now it’s worse. Now he’s cum in his pants like the virgin he is and he’s never felt mortification like this.

“Why are you crying, Baekhyunnie?” Yixing asks so gently it almost makes Baekhyun cry harder.

Tears are streaking down his temples and he’s pressing the back of his hand against his mouth as if he can physically withhold the sobs building up in his chest. He hiccups instead. “I-I-I’m sorry-!”

Yixing’s brows furrow, clearly confused, and he gathers tears with his thumb. “Why?”

Baekhyun doesn’t want to say it. God, he’s such a child. How did he ever think he was actually growing up? “B-Because I-... because I-...”

Realization dawns on Yixing’s face, and Baekhyun cringes away from the smile that appears along with it, too lost to register that it’s merely understanding, and not something meant to pick fun at him. “Oh. Oh, Baekhyunnie. But I came, too.”

Baekhyun cringes again, this time at Yixing’s openness. Baekhyun wishes he could be that comfortable. But he feels the sting of tears lessen some. “Y-You did?”

When Yixing nods, their noses brush sweetly. It makes Baekhyun feel better. A little. He glances between them. Yixing’s sweatpants are gray. The wet spot is obvious. “Yes. It’s not something to be ashamed of, Baekhyunnie. Did it feel good?”

A reluctant nod.

Yixing’s resulting smile is brilliant. “I’m glad I could make you feel good.”

Baekhyun sniffles. “A-And I made you-?”

“Yes.” Yixing leans down and gently kisses him. Baekhyun’s not crying anymore. “You’re so hot, you know. My beautiful Baekhyunnie. Inside and out.”

Baekhyun’s heart swells.

-

Yixing can’t stay every night, obviously, not like the first sleepover, but Baekhyun still sees him as often as ever. Yixing still sneaks out of Lu Han’s house and Baekhyun lets him in the front door instead of waiting at his jammed window.

He finds he craves more intense cuddles now, isn’t content until he’s encompassed in the addicting warmth of Yixing’s body. They end up on the couch most of the nights, Baekhyun’s back pressed to Yixing’s chest, Yixing’s arm thrown over Baekhyun’s side and holding him close. Baekhyun likes this. Likes being able to play with Yixing’s hand and tentatively kiss his fingertips and tangle their legs together.

Baekhyun gets used to the feeling of the warm puffs of Yixing’s breath on the back of his neck and the thought that he wants this always.

-

“I think my parents are suspicious,” Baekhyun vents one night. Summer is coming to an end soon and the change between them is obvious. They’re clingier than they’ve ever been, constantly accommodating each other’s movements so that they stay connected on their blanket hidden deep within the neighborhood park.

Yixing gently scratches his nails along Baekhyun’s scalp and Baekhyun presses into it. It feels good, soothing. “Why?”

“They asked me why I seem so much happier lately.”

Yixing’s shoulders shake first, and then the sound follows; he laughs. “And you think they’re suspicious.”

“Well I mean-...”

“Baekhyunnie, doesn’t it seem more suspicious that they ask you why you’re happy?”

The mood sombers immediately. Baekhyun has a plethora of problems with his parents, and it’s clear that the strain it puts on Baekhyun bothers Yixing. He shrugs. “Yeah, I guess.”

“I’m sorry,” Yixing sighs. “I just want you to be happy. Really happy. Not their happy.”

“I know.” Baekhyun picks his head up from Yixing’s chest and kisses him. “Thank you.”

-

Baekhyun holes himself up in his bedroom and cries until he passes out after Yixing leaves for China once more.

-

[Summer 2010]

Baekhyun’s done with school for the summer and he smiles at the feeling of the sun on his face as he walks home with his friends. Jongdae shoves him and laughs.

“Baekhyun-ah! Be a little more subtle!”

Baekhyun laughs, too. “I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

“Summer means Yixing comes back, right? Your summer best friend.” Baekhyun’s eyes go wide and he opens his mouth to protest but Jongdae lifts his hand. “No no! I have accepted that he gets you for three months. And it’s okay, because I have you for nine, so really, it’s Yixing who’s missing out-”

Sehun shoves Jongdae now and they all laugh.

“That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me, Dae.”

“I know. I’m gonna go throw up now.”

“I think what Jongdae is trying to say,” Sehun cuts in, rolling his eyes. “Is when does Yixing hyung come back?”

Baekhyun shrugs and forces down the smile that always bubbles up at the mere mention of Yixing. “Next week. Should be in late on Tuesday.”

“Look at his face.” Jongdae points obnoxiously. “He’s so excited.”

Sehun plays along. “He must really love his hyung.”

Baekhyun bites his lip and looks away.

-

new email from zyxzjs@gmail.com:

Baekhyunnie. I have bad news. Really bad news. My mom is really

pressed for money right now and cancelled my flight to get the refund.

I’m gonna call you sometime, okay? I miss you so much,

Baekhyunnie. I miss your voice. I’m really upset. It’s really hard for

me to type right now. Please understand that I didn’t have a

choice, okay?

zyx

-

Sehun reads the email over Baekhyun’s shoulder.

Baekhyun is too busy trying not to break down in tears to panic about it.

Jongdae asks what’s wrong and Sehun squeezes his shoulder comfortingly and Baekhyun excuses himself to the bathroom because he can’t stop his overactive tear ducts.

-

Sehun lets himself into the bathroom after Baekhyun’s been gone for ten minutes.

Baekhyun frantically wipes at his face but it’s useless; his eyes are swollen and probably bloodshot and he can feel how flushed his face is. There’s no getting out of it.

And Sehun saw the email.

Sehun sits down on the floor in front of him, where Baekhyun had just sort of crumpled. “It’s okay, hyung.”

Baekhyun blinks uncertainly. “Wh-What?”

“You and Yixing. I know- or. I figured.”

“F-Figured what?” Baekhyun can feel his chest constricting with panic.

A look of mild alarm passes across Sehun’s expression, like he can sense his friend’s rising panic. “Hold on.” He hurries from the bathroom and comes back in record time with a water bottle, handing it to Baekhyun.

Baekhyun gulps it down and tries to breathe.

“You followed each other around like puppies that first summer,” Sehun says softly. “And there’s just… something different between you two than there is between me and you, or us and Jongdae.”

Fresh tears well up in Baekhyun’s eyes because he doesn’t feel ready to tell his friends.

But Sehun just rests a comforting hand on Baekhyun’s knee. “It’s okay, hyung,” he repeats. “It doesn’t make you a bad person, or change anything. You’re still my best friend.”

Baekhyun’s face falls into his hands and he sobs.

-

When Baekhyun feels empty, has downed another bottle of water, he gives his consent to let Jongdae take Sehun’s place comforting him.

Might as well get it completely out in the open.

“Jongdae,” Baekhyun says, voice thick and hoarse. “I’m-...”

“Gay?”

The empty water bottle in Baekhyun’s hand crackles noisily from the nervous tremors that roll through him, but he nods.

Jongdae… looks indifferent mostly. Maybe a little confused. “Is that why you’re crying?”

Baekhyun shrugs.

“But I already knew that, Baek!”

“What.”

“I mean, I guess I didn’t have proof? But Baek,” Jongdae laughs. “I know we’re all young and naive and shit but the way you’ve always looked at Yixing is so obvious. And like, if me and you spent that much time together, we’d be at each other’s throats, man.”

-

It’s not until a little later when Jongdae casually tacks on, “Besides, I’m gay, too.”

-

new email from baekhyunnee@gmail.com:

:(((( of course i understand, yixing. i miss you so, so much but i

understand. we’ll still talk all the time, right?

baekhyunnie

-

new email from baekhyunnee@gmail.com:

also!!!! xing. sehun and jongdae know! about me. about

us! they’ve been really, really cool about it. apparently

they had figured it out and were waiting for me to tell

them.

 

thank you

miss you

baekhyunnie

-

new email from zyxzjs@gmail.com:

wahh baekhyunnie i’m so happy for you! and proud.

wow. my baekhyunnie is growing up ;’)

 

we will definitely still talk all the time! i’m trying to get

a job, half to help out my mom and half to save up

my own money. maybe i can fly there for christmas

instead?

aiyo, now i’m sad again. i can't believe i’m not seeing 

you in just a few days. i wanna kiss you baekhyunnie.

zyx

-

Baekhyun wonders if he’ll cry every time he gets a new email from Yixing.

-

Time passes by excruciatingly slowly, and Baekhyun gets the painful lesson of what it’s like to be lonely.

Of course he missed Yixing during the school year, but he knew he had an entire summer to look forward to. And now what? Maybe Christmas?

Suddenly everything is tainted by the memory of Yixing. The living room couch, Baekhyun’s bed, the park.

Baekhyun thinks it might be stupid but sometimes he sneaks out at night and goes to their lookout point just to feel close to him again.

-

Baekhyun and Yixing talk every day.

It’s not the same.

-

Everything that happens with Park Chanyeol is an accident. From start to finish.

It’s the beginning of July when Chanyeol’s family moves in a few houses down, and they send Chanyeol around with cookies to introduce himself.

Baekhyun’s heart leaps at the knock, then sinks upon the sight of a stranger.

Chanyeol is nice. He’s goofy and clumsy but it’s endearing, mostly. He looks like a giant puppy. Sehun takes a special interest in that he wants to take Chanyeol under their wing, so that’s exactly what they do.

Soon, Chanyeol is part of all their video game sessions and where Baekhyun used to sit plastered to Yixing’s side, all four of them squeezed on the couch, Baekhyun now sits on the floor.

-

It’s the end of summer, the week before they go back for their last year of grade school, when Baekhyun’s parents and Chanyeol’s parents happen to go out of town on the same weekend.

Chanyeol’s parents don't want to leave him alone, so Chanyeol asks if he can stay with Baekhyun. Baekhyun shrugs and answers why not, but makes sure to tell him that his own parents wouldn't approve, that he only can because Baekhyun’s parents will be gone too.

-

new email from zyxzjs@gmail.com:

i don't know if i’ll be able to make it for christmas either. the

flights are already crazy expensive and my job at the cafe

keeps cutting my hours.  but i’m getting a phone soon. i

can't wait to hear your voice.

i miss you so much

zyx

-

“Baekhyun-ah!” Chanyeol’s unnaturally deep voice greets him overenthusiastically as Baekhyun lets him in.

Baekhyun smiles politely at him. He hopes his eyes aren't as red-rimmed from crying as they feel. “Hi, Chanyeollie.”

-

It’s late. They’ve stuffed themselves full of popcorn and soda and their eyes would probably bleed if they played video games any longer, so they retire to Baekhyun’s bedroom.

Baekhyun doesn't say anything when Chanyeol helps himself to the bed, because Baekhyun misses the warmth of another human body.

Then the lights are out and Baekhyun is wondering if he could get away with “accidentally” cuddling Chanyeol “in his sleep” when Chanyeol whispers, “Baek, do you like girls? Or boys? Or both?”

Baekhyun freezes. “That’s a terribly personal thing to ask.”

“Sorry. It’s just… I like both. But that’s even less acceptable than me just liking boys.”

Baekhyun blinks. He’d never really thought much on it, on liking both boys and girls. He knows he, himself, likes boys. Yixing says he just likes boys. Baekhyun guesses he never considered that there might be people out there who like both.

Baekhyun turns over and faces Chanyeol. “It’s okay,” he says, because he doesn't know what else he should say. Then quietly, he adds, “I like boys.”

Chanyeol’s grin shines in the dimness of the room. “Have you ever kissed a boy? I haven’t. Or a girl for that matter.”

“You haven't?” If Baekhyun thinks about it, Chanyeol is pretty cute. It seems like he would have people lined up for him.

“Nope. Makes me feel pathetic.”

“You’re not pathetic.”

“I turn eighteen in a few months and have never even kissed anybody, Baek. Pathetic.”

“I could kiss you.”

The words fell from Baekhyun’s mouth before he even knew what he was saying. He’s so damn exhausted, has completely crashed from a sugar high, and is being lulled to sleep by the warmth of the bed but he says those words and can't take them back.

“Really?” Chanyeol asks.

“Y-Yeah. I mean, like, I could teach you how to kiss.”

Chanyeol’s eyes are wide with something like wonder when he says, “Okay.”

Baekhyun bites his lip nervously, because what if he only knows how to kiss Yixing?

But he’s already sitting up and he thinks maybe Chanyeol is nervous, too, because he’s moving extra slowly, uncertainly. He ends up propping himself on his elbow and Baekhyun considers it good enough.

He cups Chanyeol’s jaw with a delicate hand and leans down. He slows right before their lips touch and watches Chanyeol’s eyes fall shut.

Baekhyun kisses him.

It is different. Kissing Chanyeol feels much different than kissing Yixing. Their lips are different and Chanyeol is much clumsier, Yixing much more graceful. Yixing’s lips always reminded Baekhyun of an ebbing and flowing river, consistent in little movements, whether he was letting Baekhyun lead and parting with the dip of a tongue, or nibbling on Baekhyun’s lips and sucking and doing everything he can to make Baekhyun feel good.

Chanyeol does catch on fairly quickly, but he still fumbles to keep up once Baekhyun presses on. Baekhyun does what he knows he personally likes best; he sucks on Chanyeol’s bottom lip, kitten licks at it, and Chanyeol’s mouth falls open for him on its own. Because Chanyeol moans.

Baekhyun pulls away, hazy, confused. He’s missed kissing. Kissing Chanyeol is nice.

But it’s not the same.

“Sorry, sorry,” Chanyeol mumbles, clearly embarrassed.

Baekhyun just channels his inner Yixing and giggles. “It’s okay. Did you like it?”

“Y-Yes. That was- um. Wow.” A beat. “Can we do it again? I-I think I’m getting the hang of it.”

Baekhyun nods, doesn't trust his voice anymore, and watches Chanyeol sit up all the way. They scoot close until Baekhyun is nearly in Chanyeol’s lap, and Chanyeol’s big hands are cupping Baekhyun’s face.

Chanyeol initiates the kiss this time and Baekhyun feels small, with this new angle. He feels encompassed in Chanyeol’s warmth and he’s scared, because Chanyeol’s tongue is in his mouth and it’s wet and desperate and Baekhyun can't help but think it’s exactly what he needs. To be doted on, taken care of, wanted.

Chanyeol releases these little breathy moans into Baekhyun’s mouth while Baekhyun pretends he can't tell Chanyeol is hard in his pajama pants.

Overall, Baekhyun just feels nothing.

-

They don't talk about it the next day, even though Baekhyun does wake up clinging to Chanyeol like a freaking octopus, and he didn't even do it on purpose.

Jongdae and Sehun come over and they play more video games.

Baekhyun is sick of video games.

He emails Yixing back and takes a walk, leaving his friends in his home to fend for themselves. He feels suffocated. He feels like Jongdae and Sehun know about him and Chanyeol, but how could they?

They know how Baekhyun feels about Yixing and Chanyeol doesn't act any different at all.

Baekhyun wonders if he dreamed the whole thing until they’ve climbed into bed and Chanyeol leans over Baekhyun’s body and kisses him. Baekhyun blinks up at him, passive.

“Is this okay?” Chanyeol asks.

“I guess. You’re still just practicing, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”

-

[Fall 2010 - Spring 2011]

The school year starts and Baekhyun has homeroom with Chanyeol. And Primary English. And Calculus. And Voice Lessons. He thanks his lucky stars that he has Chinese to himself.

Baekhyun bristles at having to sing in front of Chanyeol in the beginning, because he didn't want anyone he knows personally to hear how much his voice has improved before Yixing does.

But the praise Chanyeol douses him in makes him feel a little better, because Chanyeol’s genuine, puppy dog wonder is telling him how good he is.

Chanyeol is really good, too. Like, really good. His deep voice is terribly soothing and Baekhyun gets lost in it sometimes.

And it’s with fantasizing about nice voices at the end of his first week that Baekhyun gets to hear Yixing’s again, for the first time in over a year.

Baekhyun almost ignores the call, because it’s a number he doesn't recognize, but something urges him to answer.

“Baekhyunnie.”

Baekhyun thinks his knees would've given out if he hadn't already been sitting down. He had actually forgotten what Yixing’s voice sounds like. “Yi-Yixing?”

“Yes.” Yixing sounds breathless and a little broken and Baekhyun’s eyes fill with tears. “This summer was awful, Baekhyunnie.”

Baekhyun cries, because Yixing is. Yixing sobs about how much he’s missed Baekhyun’s pretty voice and how much he wants to be with him.

He tells Baekhyun what it’s really like for him in Changsha. That he started spending his summers in Korea because everyone at school found out he’s gay and would play gross pranks on him, leaving things and nasty notes outside his house, bullying him and even trying to physically hurt him a couple of times.

The confession comes out in a rush and Baekhyun bruises his own thigh where his fingernails dig into the flesh, angry that people are like this, upset that anyone could treat Yixing like this.

He coos into the phone, gives shaky reassurances to his Yixing, weeps with him. “I’m sorry,” he keeps saying. “I’m so sorry, Yixing. You deserve so much better.”

“I have you,” is Yixing’s immediate response, as if Baekhyun is that slice of “better,” no hesitation.

“But I-.” Now Baekhyun’s voice sounds broken and he curls up on his bed as small as he can. “I’m not there. With you.”

“I know. But… you give me strength, Baekhyunnie. Hope. That good people still exist. You’re so good. You’re everything.”

-

“What do you mean you kissed Chanyeol?!” Jongdae shrieks, and Baekhyun tackles him in a dramatic attempt to cover his mouth. They’re at Jongdae’s house, alone, so no one would've heard but still.

“Jesus fuck, Dae, keep your voice down.”

“But what about Yixing!”

“...What do you mean?”

Jongdae’s eye twitches ominously. “Aren't you two a thing?!”

“Yeah…” Baekhyun furrows his brows, confused.

“Then why would you kiss Park Chanyeol?!”

“Oh…” Baekhyun laughs nervously. He knew it was… questionable… but he was just helping a friend out, teaching him. It’s not a big deal, right? “But it’s not like that, Jongdae-ah! I just offered to teach him how to kiss, is all.”

The eye twitch gets worse. “THAT DOESN’T MAKE IT OKAY, BAEKHYUN.”

Baekhyun’s stomach churns unpleasantly. “I wasn’t- I just- I… I was so sleepy and he started talking about kissing and the offer just fell from my mouth before I even realized- I couldn't just take it back after that! But it was innocent!”

Jongdae takes a deep breath. And then another. And another. Baekhyun chews on his bottom lip. “Baek. Okay. Let’s clear this up. Have you and Yixing ever actually called each other boyfriend?”

Baekhyun flinches at the word automatically.

Jongdae nods. “It still makes you uncomfortable. So that’s a no. What do you call each other?”

“Um…” Baekhyun shrugs and blushes. “In my head I just sorta refer to him as “my Yixing,” and I mean… sometimes he calls me “his” Baekhyunnie but other than that…” He shrugs again.

Jongdae squints. “‘My Yixing’ instead of ‘my boyfriend,’ right?”

Baekhyun looks down and nods minutely.

“But he says ‘my Baekhyunnie’ possessively.”

A shrug.

“How did you two start?”

“Um…” Baekhyun says again. Even once it was out in the open that Jongdae and Sehun knew Baekhyun’s orientation, they hadn't talked much of the things Baekhyun and Yixing did. Baekhyun just doesn't know how comfortable he is discussing it out loud. But he tries. “I guess he just sort of… kissed me.”

“I need more than that, man.”

Steeling himself, Baekhyun continues. “We were out one night and he just did it. I-I freaked at first but then he-... he was really sweet and said he wanted to help me.”

Jongdae’s expression completely morphs then. Baekhyun watches it change, the Realization, the Sympathy, and then it’s schooled into Careful Indifference. But Baekhyun doesn't understand why. “When was that, Baek?”

“The last night of his first summer here.”

“How did you guys get going his second summer here?”

Baekhyun launches into the story as best he can, as comfortably as he can. He leaves out the more heated details but he does mention their domestic night in, that week his parents were gone, that Yixing slept in his bed and they cuddled all night.

“When’s the last time you talked to him?” Jongdae asks after that.

“A couple of days ago, he called. He finally got a phone.”

“Tell me what happened.”

“Jongdae.”

“Shut up, I’m trying to help and justify you kissing Chanyeol so I don't feel the need to kick your ass.”

Baekhyun sighs, sombering, and picks at his nails, voice soft when he speaks. “As soon as he heard my voice he started crying. And then so did I. He-He always talks about how much he loves my voice.” Baekhyun has to take a moment before he goes through the details of the call. He doesn't look at Jongdae once.

“You’re everything,” Jongdae repeats as a whisper, as if he’s talking to himself. “Baekhyun, I didn't realize how serious you guys are. You talk like adults.”

Baekhyun nods. “It’s always been that way. It’s probably kinda fucked up, I guess, but that’s just always how it’s been for us.”

“I think…” Jongdae sighs. “I think this is really complicated and that you really need to talk about it with him.”

“But-”

“It could go either way, Baek. You guys are obviously scarily serious about each other, but you've also never actually made anything official and he doesn't even know when he can come back here. It doesn't seem realistic for you guys to stay a thing, but I don't know man. This is weird.”

“You’re weird,” Baekhyun rebuts weakly.

“Fuck you. I’m never helping you again!”

“You didn't even do anything, Jongdae!”

And then they wrestle.

-

It’s late one night, and Baekhyun is sprawled out underneath the night sky at his and Yixing’s favorite spot--the lookout cliff--with his phone on his chest, Yixing on speaker. If Baekhyun closes his eyes, he can almost pretend he’s there. “Can I ask you something, Yixing?”

Yixing hums affirmatively.

“Would you be mad if I taught someone how to kiss?”

Silence.

“I mean- I just- this guy confessed to me that he’d never been kissed and I sort of offered to teach him and then realized that wasn't very cool of me and I-.”

“Baekhyunnie.”

“Hm?”

Yixing’s voice is soft, careful. “It’s okay.”

“Wh-What?”

Yixing sighs, inhales deeply. “We’re really young, Baekhyunnie. I can't ask you to wait around for me.”

“What does being young have to do with it?” Even though Baekhyun thinks he never really does feel like a kid with him. Even Jongdae had pointed out the seriousness with which they treat each other.

“I was your first kiss, Baekhyunnie. I was the first person to know the real you. Maybe you should-.”

“No.”

“Baek-.”

“Xing, you’re not gonna break up with me for a reason like that. That’s my decision. If you want us to break up, th-that’s…” Baekhyun blinks rapidly, suddenly feeling frantic.

Yixing doesn't say anything for a moment and then, “That’s the first time you've ever openly suggested we’re a couple.”

“Aren't we?”

“I’ve always thought so. But you shy away from the label, so I never pushed it.”

“I’m sorry.”

Yixing actually laughs. “If I cared whether or not you call me your boyfriend, Baekhyunnie, I would've stopped this a long time ago, or at the very least brought it up sooner.”

“Right…”

“Baekhyunnie?”

“Hmm?”

“Kiss your friend.”

“Yixing.”

“I know how much you like kissing and snuggling and if he can give you that, then I want you to.”

“It’s not like that. He just wants to learn-”

Yixing huffs cutely. “I know. Please, Baekhyunnie. What if I- what if we never get to see each other again?”

“Don't say that-”

“You’re right. I’m sorry. I’ll see you again if it’s the last thing I do.”

Baekhyun smiles. “Same.”

Yixing’s sweet giggle fills the air around him and Baekhyun breathes it in. “All I’m asking is that you don't hold back,” Yixing continues after a moment. “Take the opportunities you can to feel loved, because no one deserves love and affection more than my Baekhyunnie.”

-

Baekhyun tells Jongdae about his conversation with Yixing. Jongdae isn't phased.

“Byun Baekhyun, do not kiss Chanyeol again!”

-

Baekhyun kisses Chanyeol again.

Baekhyun gets drunk for the first time on an abundance of soju and wine because Chanyeol somehow got invited to a college sorority party and dragged Baekhyun with him and lots of pretty girls got very insistent with serving them drink after drink until suddenly the room was kinda blurry and girls were trying to kiss them.

Chanyeol lets them. Chanyeol kisses three different girls thoroughly, back to back, and Baekhyun turns away every girl that tries to kiss him in favor of watching Chanyeol’s plush lips drunkenly nip and suck, Chanyeol’s tongue dart between lips and lick like his life depends on it.

Baekhyun doesn't realize he’s breathing heavily until a big hand is pulling him by the wrist out of the room and he hiccups, grinning foolishly when he sees it’s Chanyeol. “Mmm, Chanyeol-ahhh. Things are much funner when the world is spinning.”

They leave the crowd of giggles behind, a door shuts behind them, and then Baekhyun is shoved into it by a tall body with an eager mouth.

“You kept watching me,” Chanyeol growls against Baekhyun’s lips. It’s kind of hot but also intimidating. “You wanna kiss me?”

Baekhyun tilts his head back against the door and tries to blink away the blurriness. God, Chanyeol is so tall. Chanyeol follows him, keeping their mouths lined up for easy access as Baekhyun answers honestly, “I just wanna kiss.”

“Those girls tried to kiss you.”

“I don't wanna kiss girls.”

“So kiss me.”

“I’m too short.”

“Stand on your tiptoes.”

“I’m not strong enough. My toes don't have any muscles.”

“Damn.”

“I know, right?”

He stands on his tiptoes anyway, when Chanyeol kisses him again, slinking his arms around the taller boy’s neck and melting into the warmth that comes with it.

Chanyeol parts Baekhyun’s lips with something Baekhyun would call practiced ease if they hadn't only ever kissed twice before, and Baekhyun hums approvingly, sucks on Chanyeol’s tongue to hear him whimper.

Baekhyun lets his mouth be taken advantage of and drunkenly praises Chanyeol for his improved kissing skill in pauses for breath.

“Yeollieeee,” Baekhyun whines softly when Chanyeol kisses his neck. “I’m tired. I wanna go home.” His feet hurt and he's sobering and growing more sluggish. He wants his bed.

“‘Kay.”

Chanyeol continues to kiss him for a moment and Baekhyun can feel another whine in the back of his throat just as Chanyeol finally pulls away and leads them out of the bathroom, and ultimately out of the house. Eventually. Chanyeol feels the need to say goodbye to everyone they had interacted with. Baekhyun just wants to go. The girls keep giggling in his direction and he’s acutely aware how obvious it was that he and Chanyeol made out in the bathroom.

He watches Chanyeol say a couple of goodbyes with his tongue, then deigns to wait outside for him.

They take a cab to Chanyeol’s and Baekhyun walks home alone, slinking into bed and ignoring his hard-on. He blames the reaction on the alcohol.

-

It happens again.

Baekhyun goes to play video games at Chanyeol’s, whose parents are out to go to dinner and a movie, and Chanyeol kisses him hungrily over their controllers, race on the screen forgotten.

And again.

Chanyeol pushes Baekhyun into one of the nooks of Baekhyun’s house that Yixing used to press him into and assails his mouth and neck until Baekhyun feels like he can't breathe and has to excuse himself because all he can concentrate on is the ghost of Yixing’s gentle touch and the crippling guilt starting to mount on his heart.

And again.

Baekhyun is crying. Chanyeol doesn't know why, but he rubs Baekhyun’s back and holds him close and kisses him sweetly, chastely, when the tears stop. He tells Baekhyun it’s going to be okay.

-

Contact with Yixing lessens gradually. Baekhyun hopes it has nothing to do with Chanyeol.

-

It goes on for months. Chanyeol seeking out Baekhyun’s lips and Baekhyun letting himself be used just to feel the warmth of another body against his, until suddenly  it’s May and he hasn't spoken to Yixing in two weeks and he thinks he might be dating Chanyeol.

He doesn't know how he ended up here.

-

[Summer 2011]

“What’s with you and that Chanyeol kid?” Lu Han asks.

It’s a few days after Baekhyun’s high school graduation and Lu Han caught him sitting on his porch, staring at the house across the street. He was trying to remember what the tree house in the backyard looks like, and how the bed felt around him when Yixing’s feet were always so cold under the sheets in his guest bedroom, when Lu Han sat next to him.

Baekhyun shrugs.

“You don't know?”

“I don't know.”

Lu Han hums. “He seems pretty smitten with you.”

“I know.” It was never supposed to get this far.

“Maybe you should talk to him about that.”

Baekhyun nods slowly.

Lu Han sighs, but it’s not long-suffering. “Are you okay?” he asks.

Baekhyun shrugs, finally breaking his gaze on Lu Han’s house and blinking rapidly, glancing away. “I just miss Yixing. He uh-.” Baekhyun laughs but there’s no mirth. “He hasn't been answering my calls.”

“I think he’s been pretty busy…”

But something tells Baekhyun even Lu Han sounds unsure of that.

-

Lu Han invites Baekhyun over, out of pity probably, but Baekhyun gets over it quickly when Lu Han and Minseok cuddle him between them on the couch. He thinks it should probably be awkward but mostly it just feels really, really nice.

-

Chanyeol’s kisses grow sweeter, instead of hungrier, but every single time, Baekhyun wonders how Chanyeol doesn't realize he may as well be kissing a corpse.

-

Baekhyun doesn't tell Chanyeol that his parents are leaving for two weeks. Not yet, anyway. Because Chanyeol would come over and Baekhyun wants some time alone.

He almost regrets it when he’s lying in his bed and listening to the house creak creepily around him in the wind outside and realizes he’s never spent an entire night completely alone before.

That puts his train of thought on Yixing though and soon he doesn't even hear the creaking or the thunder rumbling in the distance. He’s thinking of dark hair and the feeling of overworn cotton-y American band t-shirts beneath his hands.

If he concentrates enough, he can still feel the press of full lips to his cheek, hear the whisper in his ear telling him he’s good enough always.

Visions of Yixing dancing around the trees while Baekhyun sings for him flash behind his eyes and he smiles. He misses those nights the most. Sing for me, Baekhyunnie. Sing for me and I’ll dance for you.

Warm memories lull him to sleep and safety.

He’ll talk to Chanyeol in the morning.

-

Tap tap tap.

Thunder rumbles loudly.

Tap tap tap.

Baekhyun stirs, confused. He wants all the noises to stop. He wants to go back to dreaming.

The thunder is louder this time.

TAP TAP TAP.

Baekhyun flies out of bed, stumbles over to the window. It’s reflex, for him to react this way, he knows but who else would-. “Yixing,” he breathes.

Because he’s there, wind-blown and older but with the same smile and dimple and Baekhyun nearly breaks down crying on the spot. He must be dreaming.

The next set of taps on the window are gentle, because Baekhyun is already standing right there, and Yixing watches him tenderly, like Baekhyun is the only thing he’s ever wanted to see.

Stupidly, Baekhyun thinks, he lines his fingers up with Yixing’s on the glass. He watches Yixing laugh softly and spread his hand out. Baekhyun matches him.

Yixing stares at him pointedly after a quick moment, then glances down at the windowsill. Another roaring clap of thunder jumps Baekhyun into action. He unleashes a watery laugh. “Right.”

His hands shake as they unlatch his window, and as usual… it jams. The muffled sound of Yixing’s laugh is drowned out by a clap of thunder so severe the house shakes and Baekhyun works more frantically. It’ll rain soon and outside Baekhyun’s window is potentially the least safe place for Yixing to be right now.

He successfully raises it a few inches, and watches Yixing’s fingertips slide into view as he grips the window to help too. “Yixing no! You’ll fall! Let me.”

“Wahh, still so concerned with heights,” Yixing giggles.

“You know how fucked up this window is.”

“I do.”

Baekhyun grunts and gets it raised halfway.

“Oh!” Yixing ducks down and laughs. “Baekhyunnie, it’s starting to rain!”

“Fuck, I’m sorry, I’m-.”

“Maybe I could fit through this-.”

“Xing, no, you literally can’t- OH MY GOD DON’T FALL-.”

Baekhyun gives one last powerful shove, and the window gives and slides all the way open. He immediately grabs Yixing by his damp t-shirt and hauls him inside.

A million feelings rush through Baekhyun at once now that they’re standing face to face. For the first time in nearly two years. Two years too long. Yixing’s name leaves his lips as a breath, and Yixing smiles crookedly. “I can't believe you still haven't gotten this window fixed.”

Baekhyun can't stop staring. Yixing’s gotten taller. He’s got a couple of inches on Baekhyun now.

“Baekhyunnie,” Yixing murmurs sweetly, a twinkle in his eye, and Baekhyun can't do anything but kiss him. Yixing laughs and his hands slide around Baekhyun’s back, encircling him. “I’ve missed you, too, Baekhyunnie.”

Baekhyun feels breathless for some reason and knows he’s still staring, but god Yixing is here, Yixing is grown up and he’s- “I’ve missed you so much,” Baekhyun whispers seriously.

Something shifts in Yixing’s expression, then. The way he leans down and kisses Baekhyun is hard, emotional, and Baekhyun, lost and desperate, pulls him to the bed and on top of him.

Yixing doesn't miss a beat, undulating his body against Baekhyun’s, drinking from him until he’s weak-limbed and breathless.

“We should- Yixing we should talk-.” A clap of thunder sounds. There’s so much that needs to be said.

“I know,” Yixing pants. “But I’d- for now I’d like to stay in our little oblivious bubble. If that’s okay.”

Baekhyun searches Yixing’s wide eyes and slowly nods. “Yeah,” he whispers. “As long as you’re sure.”

Yixing nods and presses their lips together again, then, “Can I take off your shirt?”

“Yeah.”

Their pants and their underwear follow, and Baekhyun fidgets beneath Yixing’s scrutiny, blushes, breathes shallowly. They've never seen each other naked. This is happening so quickly.

“Wahh…” Yixing kisses his way to Baekhyun’s stomach, nuzzles his navel. It tickles. “How have you gotten even better, Baekhyunnie?”

“I-I haven't…”

“You have. Is this okay?” he asks, because his lips are hovering over Baekhyun’s erect dick. Baekhyun’s breath catches at the sight and he nods. Yixing smiles, admires the dick. “So pretty,” he murmurs.

Baekhyun’s laugh dissolves into a strangled moan when Yixing takes him in his mouth.

It’s nothing like Baekhyun’s ever felt before, and he’s gotten pretty adventurous with his masturbation over the years, but he supposes nothing could ever quite compare with a hot, wet mouth. With Yixing’s hot, wet mouth, and vibrating hums, and fingers digging into Baekhyun’s thighs.

His hand tangles in Yixing’s hair just before Yixing pulls off for breath and admires him, pressing into Baekhyun’s hand. “I guess we’re here alone, then,” he murmurs with a smirk.

Baekhyun figures he got kind of loud. “Yep. Just us.” And with obvious franticness, tugs Yixing up by the hair until they're kissing again.

It sounds like a monsoon outside now, the rain and thunder and lightning so constant there’s no room for talking anymore.

Growing bold, Baekhyun looks and reaches between them, circling their dicks together with his long fingers. Yixing’s mouth falters where it had started sucking at Baekhyun’s neck and he moans softly as Baekhyun pumps his hand.

It takes some work, but Baekhyun manages to get them both slick enough with saliva and precum to make it an easy slide and the room fills with their moans and chants of each other’s names, the sound of slick skin sliding.

Yixing tells him to hold on and flips them. Baekhyun only feels self-conscious for a second before he’s riding the waves of euphoria again, forehead pressed to Yixing’s, thighs straddling Yixing’s waist, both their hips bucking into his hand in tandem.

“Your stamina has gotten better,” Yixing pants loudly, smirking.

“Shut up!” But then Baekhyun jolts because the exchange effectively distracted him from Yixing relocating his hand to Baekhyun’s ass. A finger dips between his cheeks and finds his rim, massages it. Baekhyun’s moan is broken and vehement.

“Okay?”

“Y-Yeah- don't stop.”

They set a rhythm like that, both of them unraveling by the minute. By the time Yixing has worked the tip of his finger inside Baekhyun dry, Baekhyun can no longer control his volume or the steadiness of his hand. He gasps for breath as pleasure pinpricks its way across every inch of his skin, a heat spreading outward from deep in his belly.

Yixing wraps his free hand around Baekhyun’s and they pump once, twice, before Baekhyun spills onto Yixing’s stomach, face falling into Yixing’s neck, boneless. He feels Yixing spasm beneath him, feels cum that isn't his add to the mess on their hands and Yixing’s body mere seconds later.

Baekhyun mourns the loss of Yixing’s hand playing with his ass, but preens over his hair being gently brushed through, over the chaste kiss to his forehead. “My Baekhyunnie,” Yixing whispers.

“Yours,” Baekhyun manages to mumble back.

“Mine.”

-

It takes them a while to gain the energy to clean up, and then they land right back in bed, Baekhyun on his back, and Yixing on his side.

“Your neighbor was at his window again,” Yixing says. “What’s his name? Ky-...”

“Kyungsoo?” Baekhyun huffs. “Nosy.”

“I take it you two still don't like each other?” Yixing laughs.

Baekhyun just shrugs. “I think he just likes quiet things. Which I’ve never been.”

“No, you haven't.” Yixing nips at Baekhyun’s jaw playfully. Then, “Where are your parents?”

“Visiting my brother.”

Yixing’s finger draws circles on Baekhyun’s stomach. “You didn't go with them.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

Baekhyun ponders his answer, even though he knows what it is. He just hadn’t admitted it to himself until now. He turns his head to look at the other boy’s pretty face. “I guess I was waiting for you.”

Yixing smiles and presses his lips against his sweetly. Baekhyun reaches up to run his fingers through Yixing’s hair and deepen the kiss.

Nothing has ever felt more right than this, he thinks. But it’s always this way with Yixing, isn’t it? Even after not seeing each other for almost two years, it’s still the same. The warmth that fills him, the completeness of his heart.

Baekhyun turns on his side and buries his face in Yixing’s neck. “Don't leave tonight, okay? Stay here.”

Lips plant a kiss against his hair, a hand rubs his side. “Okay.” And then quieter, “We’ll talk in the morning.”

The only thought spared for Chanyeol is Baekhyun thinking that he can't believe how quickly Yixing managed to jumpstart him back to life.

He can breathe again.

-

Morning welcomes Baekhyun with the warmth of a Yixing wrapped around him and a Yixing kissing the back of his neck. “Morning,” he mumbles, turning his head back and blearily searching for another pair of lips to kiss.

Yixing obliges. “Morning, baby.”

Baekhyun’s heart swells.

He turns over and snuffles his way into the crook of Yixing’s neck. “Why have you been avoiding me the last few weeks?” he asks sleepily, as if even his tired brain knows that morning means they have to talk about all the things they haven't yet.

“I’m sorry,” Yixing sighs. “I didn't think I’d be able to keep my flight here a secret, and I really wanted to surprise you.”

Baekhyun’s dramatic pout is quickly overcome with a sweet smile. He clumsily throws himself at Yixing’s naked body and kisses him. “I guess that’s okay,” he giggles.

Yixing smiles and holds him close. “Good.”

Lazy morning kisses are something Baekhyun finds he wants always, the slow tilts of heads, the lethargic swipes of tongues, warm hands wandering bare skin.

Lazy morning kisses with Yixing are something Baekhyun finds he needs always.

But the clouds of Talk loom over them ominously, baring down on Baekhyun enough to make him gently push Yixing away. “We should get dressed, yeah?”

Yixing nods.

They fix coffee downstairs and take it back up to Baekhyun’s room. The trip is silent, but Yixing never stops touching Baekhyun, thankfully; he plays with Baekhyun’s hands while the coffee brews, rubs his back while Baekhyun stirs in the sugar and creamer and vanilla, wraps an arm around him as they walk to the stairs, latches onto a belt loop once they actually ascend them.

It helps Baekhyun breathe and keep his head clear, and he wonders if that’s why Yixing was doing it, or if maybe Yixing needed the contact as much as Baekhyun did.

“So what happened with Chanyeol?” Yixing asks once they've settled again, facing each other cross-legged on the bed. He’s trying for an air of indifference but Baekhyun sees right through it.

Baekhyun sips his coffee. “I think I-.” He sighs. “I think I accidentally ended up dating him.”

“...Accidentally…” Yixing says carefully, rigid.

“Nothing’s been said. Like he hasn't asked me to be his- his boyfriend or anything but he’s gone from- randomly pushing himself on me for kisses to trying to hold my hand and lay claim to me around Jongdae and Sehun and I just- I never agreed to that!” Baekhyun sets his coffee down on the nightstand so he can anxiously wring his hands. He can't look at Yixing and knows he’s rambling but now he doesn't think he can stop. “I never really even agree to kissing. He just kind of does it and I just kind of let him just because he’s a warm body. It went on so long and I didn't want to hurt his feelings so I thought maybe if I just sort of stopped responding or acted bored he’d get the idea and move on but he-he doesn't. I can sit there being completely still and he still goes on kissing me! I don't get it. I don't get how I haven't bored him to death.” Baekhyun takes a breath and watches Yixing’s hands tighten around his coffee mug.

His voice shakes when he speaks. “Baekhyunnie. Baek that’s- that’s borderline assault.”

Baekhyun deflates and drops his face into his hands. “No. He’s a sweet guy. He’s just too eager. Gets tunnel vision. I should've just sucked it up a long time ago and told him it had to stop. But I was scared.” He shakes his head and feels Yixing reach around him and the clink of a coffee mug being set on the nightstand reaches him.

Yixing pulls his hands from his face and holds them in his own instead. “Why were you scared, Baekhyunnie?”

“Because what if you never came back? What if I hurt Chanyeol? What if no one ever wanted to kiss me again? What if I ended up alone while everyone else moved on and left me behind?” Baekhyun’s eyes sting and he finally looks at Yixing. He feels broken. Yixing is looking at him like he’s broken. “Those are such selfish reasons but it’s true. You made me feel like I would never be alone again, no matter the distance, but then more and more time was passing with less and less chance of seeing you and I was crumbling into nothing, Yixing. Which is so unfair to you. You never asked for me to depend on you like that. You never asked for the annoying, clingy, closeted gay kid to cry every time he got a new message telling him you couldn't make it this time.”

“I cried too,” Yixing whispers, gaze falling to their entwined hands.

“What?”

“Every time I had to send one of those messages, I cried. Baekhyunnie, I don't think you realize just how dependent I’ve been on you, too. You were the light at the end of the tunnel for me. You’re someone I could never let go of, even if I wanted to.”

Baekhyun searches Yixing’s face, desperate for any trace of anything he could be missing. “Why aren't you angry with me? Why don't you hate me?”

Yixing meets his eyes again. “I’m upset, but I understand, Baekhyunnie. I understand how lifeless and hopeless you felt, because I felt it too. I think I would've done the same thing if I had had someone back home.”

“I let it go way too far.”

Yixing nods solemnly. “You did. For both your sakes. It only made you feel worse and you could really hurt him, Baekhyunnie. You need to talk to him.”

“But did I hurt you?” The thought makes tears well up in Baekhyun’s eyes and he instantly feels bad that the thought of hurting Chanyeol didn't elicit such a reaction.

Gentle hands cup his face and lips press to his forehead. “I encouraged you. Multiple times. I told you it was okay when you drunk-kissed him. I told you to keep going if you wanted. I don't have any place to be hurt.”

The words are encouraging but the guilt still weighs heavily on Baekhyun’s shoulders. He sobs. “But you hurt anyway, don't you? Because of me?”

“A little,” Yixing answers honestly. “But not enough to keep me away from you, okay?”

Baekhyun nods, sniffling, head still in Yixing’s hands.

“All I ask is that you straighten things out with Chanyeol before we continue here. Please. For all of us.”

Baekhyun nods again.

-

“Who is he?” Chanyeol asks flatly. He refuses to look at Baekhyun and Baekhyun doesn't blame him, even though it damn near took a search party to find him. He was at the park the whole time.

Baekhyun is taken aback though by the abrupt question, because he hasn't had a chance to say anything at all yet. But he answers honestly to see where it leads them, “His name is Yixing. How did you-”

“Kyungsoo hyung saw him climb through your window.” Well there’s an unexpected twist if Baekhyun ever heard one. “He said he used to see the same guy come to your window all the time. But it’s been a while. I checked it out for myself. Saw you two sleeping in your bed. Naked.”

Baekhyun winces and accidentally asks the completely unimportant question. “You and Kyungsoo are friends?”

“We take Advanced Music Theory together. He's one of the closest friends I have here.”

“Oh.”

“I’ve talked about him before, but you usually zone out.”

“Oh.”

“So who is Yixing to you?”

“He’s-...” Baekhyun is still trying to wrap his brain around being snitched on by Kyungsoo. “He’s my Yixing. He’s… who helped me come to terms with who I am. He was my first everything. He was my best friend. I- until last night I hadn't seen him in almost two years. He lives in China and usually spends the summers here. He hasn't been able to afford a flight until now. We don't- we don't really have a label we just-...”

“There’s a lot of that with you, isn't there?” Chanyeol mumbles, bitterness leaking from his tone. “Do you not claim labels so that you can fuck as many guys as you want?”

“Well that’s an unfair accusation considering you and I have never even come close to fucking.”

Chanyeol deflates. “I know. I’m sorry. That was unfair.”

“Please don't apologize,” Baekhyun pleads. He cautiously sits down next to Chanyeol on the park bench he’s occupied. “I’m an ass.”

“Yeah.”

Baekhyun laughs a little. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Chanyeol. I was too scared to say anything, to stop it. I didn't wanna hurt you and I didn't want to be alone. I was selfish and wanted you to get bored with me and move on.”

“That’s why you stopped kissing back.”

Baekhyun nods sadly.

“I’m sorry I kept kissing you like an asswipe frat boy.”

“It’s okay. I should've done the logical thing and put a stop to it a long time ago. None of this is your fault.”

“Look, if I pressured you-.”

Baekhyun holds up his hand. “Stop. I’m taking the blame here. I’ve never been available emotionally. I never should've let us continue after the time we got drunk.”

“All those times you were sad…” Chanyeol ponders quietly. “You missed him.”

Baekhyun nods.

“Damn. It was right in front of my face the whole time. Why didn't you ever talk about him? Do Jongdae and Sehun know?”

“It was too hard. And yeah, they know. They usually don’t bring him up though just in case I get upset.”

Silence falls between them.

“I’m sorry, Chanyeol,” Baekhyun repeats softly. “I’m sorry if I hurt you. I never wanted to do that.”

Chanyeol’s mouth twitches ominously and he grasps Baekhyun’s hand, but he doesn't respond.

-

Baekhyun falls into Yixing’s arms and feels the relief wash over the both of them.

-

It takes a few days, Baekhyun thinks, to fall back into the swing of things. Yixing swears he has no ill feelings toward Baekhyun, but Baekhyun just keeps waiting for the ball to drop because he doesn't deserve Yixing and he knows it.

But the moment never comes. They're tender and cautious for a while but by the end of the week they’re flirtier and cuddlier than ever, two peas in a pod. Even when Jongdae and Sehun are around. They tickle and pinch each other and laugh and cuddle and Sehun comments that he’s never seen Baekhyun happier in his life.

Yixing nips at Baekhyun’s ear and kisses his neck and nestles against his shoulder as their hands find each other and entwine on Baekhyun’s lap.

No. Baekhyun never has been happier.

-

They spend a lot of time at Lu Han’s once Baekhyun’s parents come back from Busan, because it's too hard to keep their hands to themselves now. Lu Han’s parents, Yixing’s aunt and uncle, are spending an entire month at the beach, and if Lu Han happens to be home, he’s usually occupied with Minseok, so it’s like being alone most days.

They're wrapped around each other in Yixing’s room in a spontaneous hug when Baekhyun jokingly squints up at Yixing. “I can't believe you’re taller than me now,” he says.

Yixing bumps their noses. “I can't believe you didn't even grow an inch.”

“All my height went to my hips instead.” Baekhyun pouts.

Yixing’s hands latch onto said hips and pull Baekhyun close. “As if that’s a bad thing.”

“Oh stop, gege, you’re gonna make me blush.”

Yixing clearly plans to rise to the challenge. Baekhyun shakes his head and tries to back away, trying to hide his amusement but Yixing holds him tight. “You’re not a scrawny kid anymore,” he murmurs. Baekhyun squawks indignantly and pinches Yixing’s stomach, who isn't phased in the slightest. “You have the prettiest hips, Baekhyunnie.” His grip loosens, because he knows Baekhyun’s not actually going anywhere, in favor of lightly trailing his fingers along Baekhyun’s waist, slipping under his shirt. Baekhyun shivers. “Your butt…”

Baekhyun’s eyes widen as Yixing’s hands slip into his sweatpants, gently kneading Baekhyun’s ass over his boxer briefs. Heat rushes to his face. Well. And his dick. “M-My butt?”

The contemplative smile on Yixing’s face grows into satisfaction. He nods. “Mmm… feels perfect to me.”

Baekhyun laughs, shakes his head. He feels ridiculous, with Yixing praising him this way, but he lets himself enjoy the attention, shuts his eyes and quietly preens over the feeling of Yixing’s soft lips on each of his cheeks, on his eyelids, his nose. I love him. I love you, he thinks, and decides he doesn't care if he's too young to claim such a thing. He’s eighteen, he is an adult now. He knows this is what he feels for Yixing.

“What are you thinking about?” Yixing whispers in his ear. His hands leave Baekhyun’s pants and trail up and under his shirt instead, across the expanse of his bare back.

“You. Me. Us.”

“Me too.”

“I wanna be with you, Xing. Indefinitely. Maybe I could come to China, I-.”

“Shh…” Yixing kisses him. It’s gentle, loving. “Maybe you don't have to.”

Baekhyun blinks his eyes open and up, hands tightening where they've clenched in Yixing’s shirt. “What-”

“I got accepted into the Seoul Academy of Fine Arts. I’m here to stay, Baekhyunnie.”

He’s…?

“You’re… here… t-to stay?” Baekhyun’s voice is small, and he knows his face is the picture of disbelief, but the happiness overcomes him at the sight of Yixing’s reassuring smile and nod. His hands fly to Yixing’s face, cupping it excitedly. “You’re staying?!”

“Yes, Baekhyunnie. I’m here. For good.”

Something between a sob and a laugh bubbles in Baekhyun’s chest and he presses their lips together hard. “Why didn't you tell me sooner?!”

“I wanted us to talk about everything we needed to talk about first!” Yixing laughs. “I wanted to make sure we were okay before I sprung the news on you. So. Hello, neighbor.”

Baekhyun downright squeals and jumps onto Yixing, wrapping his legs around his waist. Yixing stumbles and cackles and holds onto him tight. “You’re staying here?!”

“Yes, Baekhyunnie!”

And then they're kissing again.

“You’re heavy,” Yixing whines mirthfully.

“Tough shit, baby.” Baekhyun grins cheekily and kisses him again, anchoring a hand in Yixing’s hair.

Yixing pinches his ass. Baekhyun shrieks with glee. “You’re just taking online classes this semester, right?” Yixing asks, walking them over to the bed.

“Yes, which my parents are thrilled about, by the way.” Baekhyun rolls his eyes.

Yixing smiles. “You should apply to the Academy, Baekhyunnie. For spring semester.” He gently places Baekhyun on the bed and crawls on top of him.

“I-I don't know…” His parents would never, ever approve.

“At least apply and audition. They’d accept you as soon as you open your mouth, you know.”

“Pfft. Flatterer.”

Yixing kisses the corner of his mouth. “I’m serious. Your singing voice is beautiful. I bet they’d offer you a scholarship.” Since your parents probably won't pay goes unsaid.

Baekhyun bites his lip. “I’ll think about it.”

“Good!” Yixing pecks his mouth. “Even if you don't… Lu Han and Minseok found a house. They're moving into it in January and… so am I. There’s… well, there’s an extra bedroom and it’s yours if you want it Baekhyunnie.”

“Wha-...” Baekhyun stills beneath Yixing, wide-eyed. “You’re serious?”

Yixing nods, biting his lip.

“I-...”

“I just thought it would be a good start to get you out of your parents house,” Yixing softly admits. “But I understand if you feel like it’s too much. Living with your- Yixing.” He grins sheepishly.

Baekhyun matches it. “You mean with my boyfriend.”

Yixing’s entire face lights up. “Baekhyunnie.”

Blushing, Baekhyun wraps his arms around Yixing’s neck, pulling him closer. “Be my boyfriend, Yixing?”

Yixing kisses him. “I’ve always been your boyfriend, Baekhyunnie. Label, or no.”

“I love you,” Baekhyun breathes.

“I know.” Yixing beams. “I love you, too.”

Their lips meet, finalizing their words, and Baekhyun murmurs, “I wanna move in with you, too.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

And as they roll around contentedly between the sheets, Baekhyun thinks they just might live happily ever after.

(They do.)