A Tryst in the Umbra - lolaisajewel (2024)

Chapter 1: forward

Chapter Text

“I’ve got it. Just… let me.” Chanyeol pulls Baekhyun’s bandaged finger to his mouth.

He can hear his breath, caught behind those pert lips with his soft shoulders tensing, but he can’t stop this exchange, there’s no going back on these impulses that have started to stir. His eyes close, hoping in darkness he will have the courage and clarity to justify this unprecedented move on his part. He smells pepper and medicine there before his mouth finds skin. He kisses Baekhyun'scut finger the way he thought he might have wanted to bury his entire life in this man's embracebefore. When he pulls away and looks up,feeling warm and nervous, he isn’t sure what he’s going to see there. He might be able tohandle a rejection from Baekhyun so that it could speed up the process of trying to moveon from these mixed feelings. But with a sweeping lift of his lashes he takes in Baekhyun’s lower lip quiver just slightly. Suddenly he’s being pulled in again, unsure how to stop it,his body starts to sink towards the man'snarrow body.In turn, Baekhyun'sblue band aid covered finger trembles as it reaches for Chanyeol’s shoulder. Heswallows too hard, almost sure that Baekhyun could hear it.

“HULK SMASH!” Junha yells as he rounds the corner and throws his doll into the dishwasher.

Baekhyun wastes no timescurryingsacross the room, putting a safe distance between his body andChanyeol’sreach. He silently stands by the stove and check on the noodles, keeping his attention and his blushing cheeks turned towards the task at hand. Chanyeol grins,covering his face for a moment as he rushes to scoop up his son who seems to have the absolute worst timing.

Chapter 2: Part 1 - In the storm, there you are

Chapter Text

You just never know who is going to be impacted—or how—by things said.

In the end, there’s no remedy for spilled words like flour left smeared across a countertop. The planted seed of words in the universe will always come back. The fracture of his arm healed when he was younger, leaving nothing but a scar from the scrapes of the playground debacle, jagged and raised on a seamless forearm. But words show no tangible tattoo, they instead lie dormant for years and come back every time someone feels compromised. They’re the sleeping demons that come to life when a person needs it the least.

Byun Baekhyun can hear the careless words spit by a stranger on a bus at 15 just as clearly as the words mirrored now: “He’s probably easy.”

Easy. What does that even mean? Easy to fool? Easy to take advantage of? Easy to give in to coaxing words that bring comfort and refuge? He might have been all of those things at once. But he’s not that person anymore. Or at least he doesn’t want to be and that has to count for something.

Standing under the vinyl awning of the bar he works at, away from the rain, he swats absently in front of his face as two women smoke rose scented cigarettes. He’s used to the smell after years of exposure but he only tolerates it in open spaces. In their close proximity, the clouds waft before his face in a heavy stench as if exacerbated by the juxtaposition of the clean rain. He doesn’t want to choke on the toxicity of it, but he doesn’t duck the second-hand smoke either. It’s the familiarity of the musk that he most dislikes, the masoch*stic side of him stays put knowing it’ll still give him a rush of memories of a time, of a person, and how can he resist that?

It isn’t fair. He’s hurting himself. But he can’t stop.

How can anyone move forward in a world that only dregs up the past you run from?


Baekhyun pretends not to hear the girls calling out to him.

He doesn’t want to talk to anyone right now. He just needs a second to catch his breath before his manager realizes he’s gone and he can’t do that entertaining drunken party girls. It’s not fair that people who smoke can take smoke breaks but people who don’t smoke don’t get extra breaks, so Baekhyun has decided on his own—without the approval of his superiors—that he can stand out in the night air and pretend to smoke for a few minutes if it means he can take a few seconds to regain his footing during a rush. His breath is thick in the muggy air anyway, puffing before his face in full white clouds. The cool rain falling on the hot street is pulling steam around their ankles like a fog rolling in. It’s the kind of day he once loved. Sitting on the ledge of a high rise apartment with a cup of tea, looking out at the city below. The colorful umbrellas all dancing about like flowers swaying in the breeze.

“Hey.” The woman calls again.

It’s loud enough that he can’t avoid it this time so he looks over, just barely lifting his eyes.

“You’re cute. How old are you?”

Baekhyun shifts his weight uncomfortably.

“I saw him swatting cigarette smoke from his eyes. He’s probably a minor.” Her long dark hair falls in her eyes as she swipes the smoke from around them as if to diffuse it for his sake.

He glances over to the woman who spoke, her tight red dress cut out just at the swell of thigh leaving an impossibly short amount of fabric. He wonders if women ever feel embarrassed with so much skin to spare for prying eyes. While he’s all for empowerment, he constantly wonders if some women are left out of the option to trend well.

“You’re a minor?” The other more abrasive woman asks, voice louder and thick with years of smoking.

Her hair is stacked on her head, leaving tendrils to fall down over bare shoulders. He can’t quite look at them head on, feeling uncomfortable since her breasts are spilling from the navy-blue corset top she’s wearing. He could appreciate that it was paired down with classic straight leg white pants cutting at her mid-calf and still not be interested in the overflow of cleavage. So much effort goes into their careful fashion but he can’t help but wonder if it’s all for nothing. The same looks on different days. The same makeup on different faces. What does it matter in the end what people put on when they’ll all encounter the same lies and bullsh*t, even from people that are supposed to be trustworthy. Wearing nicer clothes puts a person at a higher risk for fake friendships. Wearing slack clothes only puts you at an arm’s length with people avoiding you with preconceived notions. People read one another on a first glance in the end. After all, he’s reading these women too.

“I work here.” He says quietly.

“What?” The corset woman barks.

He clears his throat and pushes his already rolled up black sleeves on his button down and motions to his black slacks.

“I work here.” He repeats with a raised voice over the rain.

A bicycle speeds by a puddle turning up water at the ankles. It’s cold enough to be jarring. Discomfort mixes with a sense of thrill, a reminder that he’s alive and he can feel still. What’s left of him can still feel. The women shriek in unison, both calling out to the pedalist to be careful though he’s long gone. Baekhyun takes that moment to duck back into the bar, the sweat almost tangible in the air the second he steps foot across the threshold. The stagnant crowd stays clustered together, making it difficult for him to get by despite his small stature. It’s just more of the same… corsets and miniskirts, silk shirts and fancy belt buckles. Maybe he’s jaded but there’s no thrill here in this place; not in music, not in people, not in experiences.

He’s breathless as a bony elbow comes in against his rib cage and he curls forward. His slight height making him a target for the party goers who are dancing to the drop of house music. The floor is slick with spilled drinks and sweat, the rubber soles on his slip resistant work shoes make loud screeching noises as he gets tousled around. He wants to turn around and go back outside with air to breathe. Perfume and cologne, an array of mixed liquors and putrid barley brews swirl his senses with lingering tobacco. Nausea comes in waves, feeling hot and sweaty all over again until he reaches the bar. His body is pushed into the metal top and his hip bone collides with the edge of a stool with a gruff apology that lacks sincerity. Once safely behind the bar, he finally has personal space back and with it a long line of receipts for orders entered into the POS tablet system.

“Where have you been?” Luhan shouts over the pounding den of music.

The base shakes the bottles behind the bar top and there are bar glasses stacked up in the sink.

“Please help! I need help!” He yells, running to snatch another ticket.

He growls under his breath and wipes sweat from his forehead with his shirt collar.

“Who the f*ck entered a Mojito when we’re this busy? I’ll personally kill them!”

Baekhyun reaches into the sink and starts to wash glasses as quickly as he can, zoning out to focus on scraping the lipstick from the salted crusty rims.

“Byun! Where the hell have you been?”

Manager Lee comes behind the bar and slams down a menu on the citrus cutting board, sending a half cut lemon to roll to the ground.

“I’ve gotten nonstop complaints about backed up drink orders which wouldn’t bother me if both of my bartenders were back here working their asses off. But I look over and Lu is running around like a scrawny chicken with his flower boy head cut off. Why? Why is it that every shift you go missing? Do you have somewhere better to be?”

“N-no sir. I--I just had to g-go to the bathroom.” Baekhyun stutters.

“Hold it! You don’t get a bathroom break when I have-” Lee manager counts out the tickets one by one and tosses them down on the counter. “12 drink orders backed up. Get your sh*t together, Byun!”

“Y-yes sir!” He stammers, tuning him out now.

“Dammit!” He shouts, pounding his fist on the cutting board before storming off.

“I need a pint glass and a Collins glass for this Mojito yesterday! Get a move on it Baek!” Luhan calls over his shoulder as he crushes mint leaves frantically. “God this is time consuming—you know what? Just 86 mint leaves. We don’t have time to be doing this!”

Baekhyun reaches sets the glass down and turns the water off, going to the POS screen and marking the mint leaves as 86 for the night, preventing any orders with mint or mint garnish. He grabs a towel and dries the outside of the glasses and sets them on the rubber Jägermeister bar spill mat for Luhan.

“Thanks, where’s the ticket now?” Luhan growls looking around.

Baekhyun grabs the white ticket from the other side of the beer taps and sets it on the server pickup station and Luhan places the mojito on top of it. Effortlessly, carrying in the momentum of his swerving around, he slides the freshly cleaned pint glass under the tap to pour a blue moon.

Baekhyun quickly cuts an orange into wedges and hands it over to Luhan and he silently thanks him with a gasp of relief and furrowed brows. Baekhyun gets back to washing glasses as a server comes behind the bar to drop off more.

“Here, I’ll take over washing bar glasses. Make the damned drinks!” She yells.

“Wait—are you authorized for bartending?”


Luhan turns around and stops her for Baekhyun.

“You can’t be behind the bar Yoon! We’ll get fussed at, it’s against corporate policy!”

“But we’re swamped!” She complains as Baekhyun continues washing.

“Go see if Jennie is working, she’s cross trained! She can come wash dishes! You can’t Yoon, you’re not trained for behind the counter!”

Yoon flies out from behind the bar and Baekhyun sets more glasses out to dry one after another before Jennie finally comes to take over. Baekhyun rejoins Luhan in making drinks and he lets his hands take over in a sort of blind muscle memory. His shoulders hurt from reaching and pouring and leaning down to wash dishes. His soles are numbed from standing and stepping on uneven mats. As he wipes the overflow of foam top from the side of a glass he feels himself slip out of autopilot for just a second before snapping back in place with the monotony of his job.

What is his purpose?

What is all of this amounting to?

Where is his place and why doesn’t he have time to breathe anymore?

When will he have enough headspace to figure out what he wants with his life and when should he finally call his parents? And if he does call… will they answer anyways… He can’t face this continual rejection because it only brings him further down in this unknown dark place where he fears he will be consumed entirely…

Chanyeol feels his phone vibrating in his pocket and reaches down into the dark viscose lining of his soft grey wool slacks.

He elegantly holds up a finger to the man sitting in front of him and slides the answer button on his sleek iPhone plus.


He unbuttons the bottom button of his classic fit Armani jacket and leans on the mid height cubicle wall as he listens intently. The woman on the other end sounds nervous and he knows she’s gathering her courage. He closes his eyes, afraid of what’s to come when she spills the good news.

“You got a study abroad opportunity in Japan?” He says softly. “That’s really impressive.”

The employee next to him looks up at him and then back to his computer screen and starts to drag two columns of an excel sheet to select them and Chanyeol reaches over and points to only one without a word.

“Only one column?” The young man asks.

Chanyeol covers the receiver and whispers, “Only the outcome rejected field’s column should be highlighted.”

The employee nods and he goes back to listening to the woman on the other line.

“No, no, don’t apologize. I’m really proud of you. When does it start?” He asks, knowing that she mentioned her new semester would start in a few weeks over dinner a few evenings ago.

She’s still abundantly apologetic which makes him feel so bad. Because really, she should be excited for this new change in her young life. She shouldn’t feel apologetic over something so wonderful. But here he is, listening to a university student, nervous and uncomfortable over being offered an opportunity of a lifetime to go abroad and study at Waseda University on the Japanese mainland like it was a burden she was imposing upon him.

“Stop it. I’m really proud of you and I mean it. When do you need to move?”

He tries to sound soft, but he can tell he isn’t reassuring her. Maybe he can buy her flowers or something. He’s better at expressing himself in writing so he decides he can get her a card too.

“That’s fine.” He breathes.

She asks if she can switch the phone over and Chanyeol looks to his wrist. It’s already 7:30 and he doesn’t know when he’ll be home. It could be late.

“Sure.” He agrees and stands up straight, looking uncomfortably at the employee before stepping away.

As soon as he hears the soft voice on the end of the line and melts like the softie that he is. All rushed sentences and half told recounting of a day spent in a world beyond the concrete of this building where he’s perpetually chained. He smiles to himself and hums along, closing his eyes to try to imagine the smile through the excitement.

“Jun, do you want to get ice cream?” He asks.

Cheerfulness explodes on the other end and he chuckles lightly.

“Dad is leaving right now. I’ll see you soon…” He whispers.

His son doesn’t wait to give the phone back to his nanny before hanging up and Chanyeol looks down at the end call screen as it fades to black. This is going to be difficult for Chanyeol because he’s losing a caretaker that he trusts but he realizes at the sound of his son’s voice that this will be devastating for Jun. It’s going to be hard for him to understand why his friend is leaving. Again. Another friend is leaving. All of the important people he’s close to seem to leave him one by one and Chanyeol bites his lower lip with a squint of his eyes. He’s still so small. He doesn’t understand why people leave. He turns back to his employee and smiles.

“Listen… let’s call it a night, huh? I’ll come in tomorrow morning with fresh eyes and we’ll take a look at the report okay?”

Where he needs to be now is home anyways. He needs to do research into child care and find out what he’s going to do next. Maybe the nanny agency has someone who can take over on short notice… Or maybe they’ll wait list him again. He gathers his overcoat from his desk and slides his laptop into his briefcase, locking the desktop computer for the night.

The rows of cubicles are empty but for a few heads illuminated by the bright overhead lights. They greet him one by one as he passes and he diligently urges them not to stay too late and to get home safely but his words mean nothing to them. They are absent in their replies, hollow pleasantries to a superior. He’s only a supervisor on the floor anyway. He’s not that impressive in the dynamics of the office. One step above the base level employees but two steps beneath the director. Mediocre in his small accomplishments but he can’t complain if he can support himself and little Jun.

He takes the train alone, earbuds in place and it’s only at this point that he feels exhaustion start to settle. It starts in his fingertips, a numbness that leaves him grasping a little harder onto the handle of his briefcase so it doesn’t slip away. The sting in his wrists, a prelude to carpal tunnel that he never tries to rectify even though he knows he can try to prevent it with just an adjustment of his posture and his hold on his mouse. His arms feel heavier as the muscles in his shoulders pull in strained knots. His lower back is tense but when he walks through the door and Jun comes running, he scoops him up against the pain and grins. This is a weight he would never tire of, sore as he may ever be.

Small hands reach for his chin, touching the abrasive skin with delight in those round, dark eyes that look at him, glassy and sure from beneath the down of dark lashes. He doesn't seem to mind the dampness of Chanyeol’s coat from where he’d been sprinkled with light rain. Chanyeol strokes his thumb over one pinked cheek and pulls him in to kiss the hair on his forehead. There is only one reason to live in his world and right now that reason smells like baby shampoo. The only good thing that Chanyeol has ever done, the one gift he’s ever truly be awarded that holds value, the only person he can never let down. He kicks off his loafers and carries Jun to the living room where Lisa stands up in her matching red pajama set and greets him.

“He said he was going for Ice Cream with you and he wasn’t allowed to sleep.” She says with false sternness in her tone, hands to her hips.

“Daddy said Ice Cream.” Jun protests, small hands clasping on either side of Chanyeol’s cheeks.

“I did say that. Let me change and we’ll run to Family Mart and grab an ice cream cone.” He says.

“Ice cream?” Jun says. “Ice cream!” He cheers in response to his own question and Chanyeol carries him to his room.

“You’re good for the night, Lisa. I’ll put him down afterwards.” He calls and she replies with thanks gathering her textbooks from the table and excusing herself to her room.

He sets the boy down on the bed and debates whether he should tell Jun about Lisa leaving yet, but decides that he doesn’t want Jun to associate something good being followed by something bad. He should live in a world where ice cream is just ice cream and sadness is only temporary. He slips on jeans and a black knit sweater and grabs his military green raincoat from the closet, pulling the French doors to meet in the middle.

Park Junha slides slowly off of the edge of the bed, standing just over 3 feet tall and runs to his room to get his green raincoat too. The coat with small white polka dots and coral buttons has a frog face on the hood and the little one inside it is all but out the door when Chanyeol comes to the shoebox at the front door. His son is on the ground pulling on his small Romika wellington boots while humming the opening theme to some kids show that he can’t quite name anymore. A distantly familiar song from years back.

“You ready little man?” He asks, pulling worn black sneakers from the cabinet and sliding them on.

“I gots a rain boots.” Jun’s sureness in his decision leads to Chanyeol nodding his head in agreement.

“I see that. Do you think Daddy should buy some rain boots too?”

“Yes. For the rains.” He replies with an explanation in case Chanyeol needed his reasoning.

“For the rains.” Chanyeol whispers, tightening his laces and reaching for Jun’s hand.

He locks up the front door and feels his back pockets with one hand making sure he grabbed his wallet and phone before dropping his keys into his raincoat pocket. The rain is all but gone now, the streets feeling muggy and damp. It’s past Jun’s bedtime and dark out, just before 8 turns to 9 and the darkness is heavy above. Jun makes a point of walking towards puddles and stepping directly in them knowing that his boots will keep his toes dry which brings him endless excitement. Chanyeol notes that Jun’s blue plaid pajama bottoms are wet and smiles knowing he would have to change after puddle splashing and ice cream but it’s okay. He’ll stay up a little later to take care of it before getting started on his research.

“What kind of ice cream are you going to get?”

Jun steps into another puddle and looks up sheepishly at his father before he answers.

“Straw’erry.” He replies.

“Strawberry? Okay. You think you might want a strawberry cone or a cup of strawberry ice cream?”

Jun swings his arm and pulls Chanyeol’s with it.

“Straw’erry cone.”

He starts to hum to himself while they walk, the humming turning to singing with lyrics that consist of his love for the ice cream;Straw’erry Cone. Straw’erry cone. I like I like Straw’erry cone! Straw’erry cone. Straw’erry cone. One for Jun. One for Daddy. Straw’erry cone.

Jun makes a fancy show of wiping his feet off on the entrance mat to Family Mart when they arrive and Chanyeol laughs lightly, feeling his phone suddenly start to vibrate again. He reaches into his pocket and looks at the display with a wince. Why is his manager calling at this time of night?

“Good evening, sir.” He says as he answers, feeling the weight of his actions to leave early catch up to him all at once.

He doesn’t need ice cream now that his whole body is frozen.

Baekhyun dives down in the cooler, shoving aside endless Melona bars and Snow Ice Seolleim packs to try to find the cones.

“I don’t want a Power Cap, I want an ice cream cone. Why is it that literally nothing goes right for me ever?” He mutters to the frozen plastic bottle ice creams he tosses aside. “I am not about to go to another store. There has to be at least one cone in here!”

He feels a tug on his shirt tail and stops plowing through frozen sweets to turn his head but sees nobody. He keeps his hands busy for another minute when he feels someone pat his thigh. He bolts upright and covers his chest when he notices a small person at his side. He shivers from the cold as he detaches from the freezer and watches the small child push the step stool to the side of the ice cream machine. He leans down into the ice cream machine and Baekhyun looks around for a mother or guardian and tilts his head in confusion. Stepping around the child he reaches into the ice lined freezer to start scooping handfuls of ice cream aside again, a considerably less hurried movement as he remains conscious of the munchkin joining his quest. He starts picking up different types of ice cream and holding them up to the child as he notices the little one struggling to reach. The boy shakes his head no to each flavor and he continues to dig down to the bottom.

Suddenly Baekhyun finds a strawberry ice cream cone and his hand lunges for it, pulling it up with great enthusiasm.

“Ah ha!” He calls out, pulling it from beneath a Cham Bungeo Ssamanko package.

His victory is short lived however because the child grabs the package from his hand quickly and starts to hop down from the step stool.

“Hey… hey wait, no, that one is mine!” He calls, half tripping over the short stool as he runs after the kid, slipping on the wet floor as he goes.

His Adidas slipper foot slides in one direction as he rounds the corner and his legs start to split when an arm comes around his waist suddenly. He stays securely in place, grasping onto a strong arm as he stands suspended in air.

“Oops. Be careful.” A thick voice mumbles and Baekhyun looks up into florescent lights for a moment.

He’s blinded by the luminescence, feeling weightless and secure. He’s not sure who saved him from a slippery wipeout but he’s thankful. He wants to express gratitude when the head of the man slides into view, eclipsing the magnificence. He waits for his eyes to adjust and opens his mouth to speak when the man comes into focus. Color spills over the apples of his cheeks as onyx rain brushed hair spills forward over the man’s face. Baekhyun stays gaping for too long at the man with his cut jaw and wide eyes. He looks panicked for a second and mumbles into the receiver of his phone but Baekhyun can’t make out the sound.

“Are you okay?” He asks.


Baekhyun is fine in theory. He should be fine, and yet… He can see the shadowed space between the collar of the man’s sweater and the prominence of his collarbone, and in that dark space, Baekhyun’s train of thought falters. His breath smells thick with coffee even though it’s late at night and Baekhyun feels nervous and unsure of his words as he tries to string together a mature sentence of any coherence.


“Daddy, Straw’erry cone’s gonna be too hot.”

The tall man holding onto Baekhyun looks away and down and Baekhyun remembers the child at once.

“My ice cream!” He says suddenly and fumbles awkwardly to stand on his own while grasping onto Chanyeol’s bicep.

His foot slips once more and he holds on too tightly to the man before stumbling back towards the register. He flips his hair from his eyes and stares in awe for another moment. Where did someone like this come from? Where could he find a man like this in real life, all hard lines and soft swells of strength.

“He…” Baekhyun feels slightly nervous and indicates the child in green. “He stole my ice cream.”

Chanyeol looks down at the little boy who cowers behind him and then sighs.

“Hold on.” He breathes to Baekhyun, husky and apologetic before turning back to his phone call. “Yes sir. I’m still here. We’ll get that report reformatted tomorrow before close of business… Yes, sir… “

He squats before Baekhyun to get eye level with the child at his side and Baekhyun feels an irrational pull at his heart. What an odd feeling for a grown man to have, a tightening in his chest against a small child’s whims. This is a pointless squabble but he has no emotional ties to the handsome stranger and he’s had a terrible day. Actually, it’s been a terrible, miserable week culminating in an awful, stressful night and he deserves this ice cream cone. He deserves it more than this kid. He deserves something sweet.

Chanyeol ends his call and turns to the little one who has tears welling in his eyes.

“Did you take his ice cream?” He asks.

The little boy sticks his bottom lip out and nods his head.

“Straw’erry…” The child whispers.

Baekhyun realized that his resolve is crumbling and he feels guilt over stealing an ice cream from a beautiful child.

“But did you steal it, Jun? If it’s not yours, you can’t have it.”

One fat tear falls over his cheek and Baekhyun rolls his eyes. He obviously can’t take it now, just based on the fact that there are tears involved. It’s not worth dampening a child’s happiness even if he is a stranger. His pride won’t let him be the asshole stranger that stole a child’s tear-worthy ice cream.

The child holds out the ice cream cone to Baekhyun and he takes it gingerly with a smile.

“Thank you.”

The child continues to pout and cry and his father wipes away the tears with quick finger strokes.

“I’m sorry, it’s my fault. I promised him ice cream and got him all riled up. It’s past his bedtime and he’s really tired.” He straightens up as he apologizes.

Baekhyun drops down before the child and he tucks himself further behind his father.

“Your name is Jun?” He asks.

The child doesn’t acknowledge him.

“There was only one left and you just really wanted this, huh?”

“It’s really okay. The 7-eleven is right down the street. He and I can go check out, really.”

Baekhyun holds out the ice cream to the boy again and he peeks out with hopeful eyes. Little fists swat at his full lashes and he steps towards Baekhyun hesitantly.By god, that’s a pretty child. He thinks, Jun is the perfect poster for heartbreak in those dark, round eyes alone.

“Don’t cry.” Baekhyun whispers softly.

Hesitant and nervous as if Baekhyun might be lying to him, he reaches for the ice cream.

“What do you say, Jun?”

“Thank’ou.” The small one lets out on a whimper.

“You’re welcome.” Baekhyun replies.

He looks at the Father, who seems relieved that his son isn’t crying anymore and realizes he’s way too invested in the child’s parent than he should be a stranger.

Was he looking for thanks? Approval? Why is he looking at the man again?

He stands back up and walks to the freezer, grabbing a damned Melona bar and turns back towards the register. The strikingly handsome man is waiting for him there, his body turned towards him with an inviting smile like they’ve known one another for years instead of a minute.

“Let me buy that.” He offers with assertion and Baekhyun declines weakly.

Weak in so many ways to the man’s expression of gratitude. The man opens Jun’s ice cream in one tear of paper and hands it down to the little one and Baekhyun hands the Melona bar to Chanyeol. Without hesitation Chanyeol opens the ice cream for Baekhyun as well and extends it to him. Baekhyun takes the ice cream with a sheepish expression and lowers his gaze.

“Thank you.” Baekhyun starts to walk out and turns back to the little family. The tall man gives him a magnificent grin and Baekhyun turns quickly to escape into the night before he does something stupid like talk to him again.

Single gay men don’t need to linger on straight fathers with kids for too long. No need to check for a ring. The answer will still be the same. He should get away as quickly as possible and never look back. Only bad things can come from these stray thoughts and flutters. The last thing he needs is another complication in his troubled path.

Chanyeol stares down at his hands as he walks home. His fingers are turning red and raw, the rain coming sideways under the umbrella and soaking him. He wonders what the point is of even carrying the thing at this point if it’s not even keeping him dry. Hell, maybe some cold rain would feel good on the top of his head. But he knows better. He can’t afford to get a cold. He needs to think about Jun now more than ever and getting sick would be a great excuse to not find child care and a better excuse for his superiors to take their chance to replace him. Thankfully Junmyeon agreed to pick Junha up from his preschool and take him to his house for the night. But that’s not something he can do forever. He imposed today but what about tomorrow? And the next day? He swallows too hard though his throat is dry and digs his nails into his palm leaving white pressure indentation. There are a hundred reasons why he should quit his job and find something with more conducive hours to being a single parent and bread winner. But the money is so good... He can afford to set aside money for Jun’s future this way and give him a comfortable life in the process. He can’t stand the idea of having to move Jun into a smaller place and put hardships on him like wondering why he can’t eat meat with his meals anymore or having to play with broken toys because his parents can’t afford to replace them. Chanyeol had grown up that way.

Sure, it built character, but he can’t stand the idea of his son worried or wondering such dark things at such an early age.

If there’s anything he can do, he wants to do it. He wants to offer him the best life he can for as long as he can. But he’s running out of options these days, and until the nanny agency finds a replacement, he’s going to have to make due in any way he can. The sky crackles with thunder following a bright flash and he stops walking, realizing that it struck pretty close by. He looks up at the dark night sky peeking through the canopy of heavy black electric lines in the narrow street, heavy clouds in dark grey are low as they spill a downpour of cold precipitation that pops up off of the ground below as they crash down. He looks over at the pounding bass line from a club and debates going in for a drink for a second too long. It’s these long days with heavy burdens that make him long for a drink or someone to come home to other than just his Junha. One drink can’t hurt, right? He can afford a few hours to himself with a Jim and co*ke on rocks. He’s going to be home alone after all with Junha out at Junmyeon's. It might help to loosen him up so that he can brain storm a little better. It might…

The frosted glass door slides open with such force that he startles and staggers backwards into a puddle, soaking his dress loafers and nylon socks. Before he has time to pull his shoe off and dump out the water from his Gucci Jordaan blue leather shoes and assess the damage possibly done to his favorite seven-hundred-dollar work shoe, he’s left staggering back again as a large object is hurled into the wet street in his direction. His umbrella hits the phone pole and pulls free from his hands, falling to the ground and the rain comes down freely on his gelled hair and suited shoulders.

“Get the hell out!” Someone calls and he sees people huddled in the doorway watching as a man is forcefully pushed from inside.

He stumbles on the step leading to the establishment and falls forward, braced on his forearms as he protects his face from the hard ground. He doesn’t stay down long, sitting up and scrambling to grab the object hurled toward Mr. Park which he can make out to be a duffel bag.

“You have no reason to fire me! I work hard!” The man yells.

“You can’t live in my bar!”

“Fine! I’ll stop staying in the locker room! But let me keep my job!”

The man in the doorway, cheeks red and hair thin on top shakes his head no.

“You should have thought of that the last time I told you to get your sh*t out of here!” He yells and the sky flashes again overhead with a spike of lightning.

Chanyeol counts slowly and makes it to three before thunder rumbles loudly, shaking the ground. It’s definitely close by. He steps back and grabs the umbrella from the ground, lifting it overhead despite already being soaked.

“Please!” The man on the ground calls, as red seeps through his white shirt, clearly skinned by his hard fall on the ground.

The man starts to close the glass door and stops, looking down at the man a moment longer.

“Don’t just sit there. Get the hell out of here or I’ll report you to the cops for trespassing and loitering?” He says.

Chanyeol steps forward towards the man as the door is slammed closed and reaches down for him.

“Are you… okay?”

The short man swats his hand away without looking up and Chanyeol stills at the sight of his profile. He looks vaguely familiar. Not even just a little either. The harder he stares, the more the man makes him think about where he knows him from. He’s not an employee…

“Hey… Do I know…”

He’s not a neighbor…

“I don’t need your sympathy!” The small man says and starts to climb to his feet.

Chanyeol cups a hold of the man’s elbow to help him stand even though he’s pushed him off once. He doesn’t swat him this time but once he’s to his feet, he carefully retracts his arm away.

He’s not a former class mate…

Chanyeol looks at the watery red left on his hand and then at the young man again.

“Thank you, I’m sorry. But I’m really okay…” The boy starts to say and looks up for the first time.

Chanyeol tilts the umbrella over his head and watches a slow recognition cross his features.

“You’ve got to be kidding me…” He whispers.

Looking up at him with his mouth slightly agape, Chanyeol finally places the man from his memory.

“Strawberry ice cream?” Chanyeol asks.

The man closes his mouth and looks down quickly, grabbing his duffel bag and trudging off wordlessly.

“Wait!” Chanyeol calls. “Wait, what’s your name?”

He keeps walking away in the rain without stopping and Chanyeol almost gives up on him when he stops. With arms are crossed tightly over his body, he shivers slightly as lightning illuminates the hazy clouds overhead for a second.

“Baekhyun.” He calls, rain washing his bangs into his eyes. “My name is Baekhyun.”

Chanyeol smiles, crossing the space between them as thunder roars.

“Come on, Baekhyun. Let’s get you cleaned up.”

“It’s fine. I’m really fine.” He mumbles.

“I just want to take you to get bandaged up and checked out.”

He shakes out his hair and Chanyeol tilts to umbrella over his head again, reaching to wipe the bangs from his eyes. The man stills under his gentle touch, eyes squeezing shut.

“Please? It’s the least I can do.”

The boy’s eyes open again and Chanyeol realizes just how deep his gaze is. The loud stuttering of rain is a roar around the two of them as he stares up at Chanyeol, nose red from the cold, skin paled, mouth set in a tight line.

“I can’t pay for a visit to the hospital.” He finally admits.

“I’ve got it covered. Come on.”

Surprisingly, he doesn’t further protest. He’s docile at his side, nodding his head thankfully and walking with Chanyeol towards the hospital. He isn’t really sure if Baekhyun trusts Chanyeol because they briefly met before or because they’re walking to a public place with lots of people. Maybe he just trusts people easily. Maybe he’s just desperate. But regardless the specific reason, he feels useful being able to help someone and he’s happy to walk the man to the hospital. There’s a part of him that feels like this was some kind of cosmic gift and he’s not sure what purpose this meeting serves, but it feels like fate. When they arrive, the hospital staff offers them blankets and Baekhyun looks at him nervously, refusing to hold his gaze again.

“I can try to pay you back.” He finally says.

“You don’t have to. But if that makes you feel better, you can. Really, I’m just worried you’re seriously hurt.”

Baekhyun doesn’t respond. He stares at the clean laminate floor with a hard expression.

“Mr. Byun?”

A nurse comes in and bows to both of them and sits down on a roller stool with a silver cart rolling at her side.

“Hi, I’m going to take care of you today.” She says kindly. “Excuse me for just a moment.”

She pulls his arms gingerly forward and inspects him before grabbing the tweezers and picking small black rocks from the cuts in his forearm and elbow. Chanyeol sits down next to Baekhyun, pulling a stool up and looking over at him.

“Are you his guardian?” The nurse asks.

“No.” Baekhyun says too quickly.

“I’m a friend.” Chanyeol offers and watches the woman drape a towel over Baekhyun’s chest and lap and flushing out the scrape with a saline rinse. “Does it hurt?”

Baekhyun shakes his head no, focusing on the nurse intently. His features are delicate and doll like, his mouth small but full as he pouts. He seems to be wincing despite his assurance that it doesn’t hurt like a stubborn child. She swabs his arms with gauze pads, covering with a bandage and winding gauze tape to secure the bandaging in place. The nurse asks him to do a series of tests flexing his fingers and bending his joints before doing a manual examination and pressing along the bones. She asks if he’s experiencing any pain and he shakes his head again.

“Maybe an x-ray to be safe?” Chanyeol offers.

“I’m really fine.” He replies.

The nurse asks him to sign release forms stating he’s refusing x-ray examination and then tells him she’s going to process his outpatient paperwork for discharge, leaving them alone. He watches the man carefully; his hair is starting to curl along the edges where it’s drying. He seems to be very uncomfortable being with Chanyeol.

“Hey... Listen, I know you don’t like me very much and I must seem overbearing… But, I just would feel better if I knew you weren’t going to be on the street in the rain tonight.”

Baekhyun picks at his thumb nail, his lips tight once more like he’s sealing his mouth as not to speak without thinking.

“I… I’ll really be okay.” He says after a moment, sounding like he might be talking more to himself than Chanyeol from the low volume.

“Do you…” Chanyeol wipes the back of his neck nervously and Baekhyun looks over at him again, making him sweat under his downturned questioning gaze. “Uh… Do you want to maybe come to my place? Just… Just for one night?”

Baekhyun’s cheeks color and he seems to turn to stone. He’s so paralyzed that Chanyeol almost worries if he’s even still breathing and he tries to quickly backtrack.

“Right… No, that’s dumb. Sorry.” Chanyeol corrects quickly.

“That’s very nice of you to offer. But really… I’ll be okay.”

Chanyeol nods his head, feeling embarrassed. His skin is hot suddenly and he loosens his tie to unbutton his top button.

“Yeah… Um… Sorry, you don’t even know me. That’s weird, right? I’m sorry. I just… I don’t like the idea of you being on the street. Can I at least pay for you to stay at a sauna tonight?”

Baekhyun’s eyes transfix on Chanyeol’s profile as he sits quietly.

“Why are you doing all of this for me? Is this over me giving up that stupid ice cream? You paid for my ice cream, we were all squared away already. What exactly do you want from me?”

Chanyeol’s mouth slips open and he starts to speak before stopping and running his fingers through his hair.

“I… I um… I’m sorry.” He says softly. “I’m sorry it’s just that… You remember my son?”

Baekhyun nods quietly.

“His nanny just quit. And… God, this sounds so stupid but, I’m really struggling to figure out what to do about it. The child care agency I use that contracts a nanny for me told me they don’t have anyone available for me for a few months. I could go to another agency, I know that… But I haven’t found another agency that works on my time frames and have someone immediately available. And I can’t keep asking my friends for help with Jun.”

“What does that have to do with me?” Baekhyun asks. “Not to be rude or anything, but am I somehow connected to that?”

Chanyeol laughs lightly and reaches over to place his hand on Baekhyun’s shoulder for a half a second before removing it just as casually.

“No. No it doesn’t have anything to do with you but… I’m just facing so many problems that don’t have an easy answer. But these are circ*mstances that I can help with. I can pay a hospital bill. I can pay for a night at a sauna. And I just…”

“So, you’re using me to make yourself feel better?”

Chanyeol’s mouth pulls tight and he looks up into Baekhyun’s eyes.

“I guess I am.”

Baekhyun scratches behind his ear but he doesn’t look upset about it.

“I don’t like saunas. I got lice from the sauna once.”

Chanyeol doesn’t try to explain himself any further. He accepts the rejection and feels the guilt of his actions, trying to place himself in Baekhyun’s place and figure out how he must be feeling.

“Where do you live?” Baekhyun asks tentatively as the nurse comes back into the room.

Chanyeol looks over at him in shock. Is he reconsidering? Is he coming home with Chanyeol? What does Chanyeol know of this boy? He stares intently at the man, presumably for too long judging from the increasing hesitance in Baekhyun’s expression. Chanyeol is unsure why his heart is suddenly beating so fast at such a simple question or maybe it’s the unusually appealing idea of the pretty boy stranger standing in his apartment that has his pulse quickening.

The apartment is so much nicer than he thought it would be. It looks more like an upper east side New York City flat on a tv show than a place where a real person lives. The walls are an egg shell color with all dark cherry wood trim matching hardwood floors. He can tell the floors are heated as soon as he steps out of his shoes and his toes wriggle around contently. There are windows that start at the ceiling and come down the walls to waist height with spacious window box seats lined with plants. The couches look and feel like suede, in a warm earthy tan color with black throws hung neatly along the back and full coal colored pillows. The round dark wood coffee table has no hard edges and there is a soft black rug on the floor. It drips money and it feels very professional, but it doesn’t look like anyone lives here, especially not a child.

Chanyeol walks to the quartz fireplace and turns it on, ushering Baekhyun over and telling him to sit down. Despite being stunned into a daze by the luxury of his surroundings, he manages to follow instructions. Chanyeol is in the open kitchen on the other side of the island bar now and he watches the man start the Keurig with a fresh pod, grabbing two glass mugs from the cupboard. Baekhyun shakes his head in awe that people actually live like this. It feels like a museum or a staged set. It’s foreign and uncomfortable even though the couch is soft and the fabric is buttery smooth.

“Do you want cream or sugar?”

Baekhyun realizes it’s too late to reject the coffee as he watches the handsome man pull one pod free and put another one in for himself and start the cup.

“Sugar, please. Lots of it.”

Chanyeol chuckles and brings the whole glass jar of sugar with a spoon along with the hot cup of coffee.

“Help yourself.” He says kindly and sets it on the coffee table.

“Thank you.”

He waves his hand as if to say it’s nothing and goes to fetch his own mug from the kitchen.

“So, you can stay in the nanny suite. It’s right over there behind that door. It has an on suite private bath and it’s all yours. Do you need to dry your clothes or wash anything?”

Baekhyun gets to his feet to face Chanyeol as he comes back into the room, and he takes in the breadth of his shoulders in his button-down shirt. It’s completely different than the rain coat from before or the look of him from earlier now that his wool coat is tossed over the back of the couch. He changes with every new outfit and each is just as appealing as the last.

“You… You’re doing too much.” He says.

Chanyeol laughs lightly and raises one brow as he sits on the edge of the couch.

“Maybe.” He agrees, voice deep and raspy. “But I think we’ve established I’m using you to make myself feel better. And I need a lot of cheering up right now.”

He raises the mug to his lip and scrunches his face on the first sip.

“Hot.” He whispers, but takes another sip.

Baekhyun slowly sinks back down on the couch next to the man. The fire is starting to radiate warmth now and he takes hold of the mug, holding the rim of the glass. He doesn’t sip it but he does breathe in the roasted coffee scent. It fills him with a fullness that warms him from the inside. They don’t speak at first but he doesn’t feel the need to say anything immediately. He instead studies Chanyeol. His jaw is strong but not bony or angular. It looks a bit rougher than the first time he saw him and he wonders what he means when he says he needs a lot of cheering up. Why did their nanny leave again? Was it a breakup? Is he married? Divorced? Why is he wondering these things? Why is he even here?

“What if I’m a murderer?” Baekhyun says softly.

Chanyeol’s sudden girthy laugh takes Baekhyun off guard. He sets down his mug and looks over with eyes that glisten.

“What if you’re a murderer?”

Baekhyun bristles slightly and sits up straighter.

“Why is that so funny? Is it because I’m smaller than you?” He asks, defiant despite being indebted.

Chanyeol suddenly puts his hand down on the seat beside Baekhyun, he faces him with his eyes narrowed and crosses the space until his face is only inches away. He looks directly into Baekhyun’s eyes and Baekhyun stops breathing. His heart pummels, loud beats echoing in his ears as he looks at the handsome man with too much expectation.

“I think I could take you,” He whispers. “Besides your eyes are kind.”

He sits back and Baekhyun forces breaths again looking away too quickly.

“I… you know… listen, don’t underestimate me based on my size.”

“Should I be worried?” He asks, smiling still as he reaches for the mug once more.

“Maybe you should be. People don’t just bring homeless strangers to their apartment. A self-preservation instinct should kick in at some point.” Baekhyun grumbles.

Not that he would do anything to this man. And maybe it’s his own distrustful self-preservation instinct that’s warning him not to get too comfortable. Or maybe it’s the fact that he knows he’s attracted to the man and he feels this thick sexual tension between them that the other just doesn’t sense at all.

“All right, settle down little baby killer. You got me. I’m not saying you’re not a threat. As long as you don’t kill me or do drugs, you’re not a threat to me. I guess in theory you could rob me. But I’m sure there are cameras at the hospital so it wouldn’t be very smart. Why? Are you feeling inspired to kill me now?”

Baekhyun swallows hard and blows on his coffee.

“Maybe a little.” He says, looking up at Chanyeol over the rim of his coffee cup as he takes a sip.

Chanyeol’s left eye brow co*cks and he nods his head thoughtfully.

“Not to continue on with this morbid dialogue of what is hopefully theoretical teasing but, you’re not the first person who’s been negatively affected in my presence and thought about killing me. Jun’s mother was like that too. She turned into a complete psycho so I can’t say I’m not practiced in handling these kinds of threats.”

Baekhyun can’t help himself. Something about the soft ambiance of the fireplace burning with low lights, the sweet smell of the sugary coffee or the warmth of it on his tongue makes him relax. He genuinely laughs, low and soft, and they exchange a warm glance of amusem*nt.

“To clarify, I should or should not sleep with a weapon in case you attack?” He asks.

Baekhyun watches his mouth as he speaks and decides he’s definitely on the verge of attacking this man but not with the intent to kill. He thinks briefly about what it might feel like to touch his jaw, feel the coarseness under his fingertips, before abruptly pulling himself out of that tantalizing fantasy.

“You don’t need to sleep with a weapon.” He says.

“Which is exactly what a serial killer would say to soothe my worry.” Chanyeol murmurs. “Better I’m safe than sorry.”

Baekhyun rolls his eyes and they’re laughing again.

To be completely fair, this wouldn’t be the first time Baekhyun’s gone home with a stranger. He’s been to bars and been picked up by guys before. This isn’t too different. And Chanyeol is a father and there is evidence of them being together. Black box footage from the street and no doubt security footage everywhere. Rationally, he knew he should question the generosity of strangers. But the real reason he’s been so worked up is because he’s not scared of the man like he should be. He should be running away from him, but there’s something about the tenderness in his touch and his worried gaze that puts him at ease. Maybe this is what they call a father complex, but his paternal aura of caring and consideration is just so inviting. And safe. Illogically and unfounded, he makes him feel safe.

“I have an early morning.” Chanyeol says. “I really shouldn’t be drinking coffee at this time of night.”

“I’ll get out of your hair as soon as morning comes, I promise.” Baekhyun clarifies.

“Don’t worry about it. You can stay here for a day if you need to figure out a place to go. I’m not going to throw you out on the street. Plus, that room isn’t getting used right now.”

Baekhyun nods his head and looks at the door with hesitation, and the man at his side seems to pick up on it and gets to his feet.

“Actually, let me make sure I put the bed back together. I bought new bedding but I don’t remember if I made up the bed.” He excuses himself and walks to the room, turning on the light switch easily.

Baekhyun waits a moment before following and finds the bed perfectly made already in the middle of the room. A full-sized bed with a soft comforter that calls to him more than he could admit. When was the last time he slept on a bed? Not couches, not benches in locker rooms, not inflatable mattresses, but a real bed. Chanyeol is by the window, pulling the blinds closed and turning on the bedside lamp to check that it works before turning it back off. Baekhyun turns his gaze to the rest of the spacious room with his mouth open agape. Chanyeol sets down his coffee on the white dresser and walks to the bathroom, turning on the light and checking for towels, toilet paper, soap and shampoo. Baekhyun watches him absently and leans against the door frame, feeling the same warmth wash through him that the coffee ignited.

“You should be good to go.” He says.

“You must be a really good Dad.”

Chanyeol freezes, his face falling almost immediately.

“No. I’m… I’m the worst.” He says. “I’m never here for him. I’m always at work. He lives with a nanny most of the time.”

Baekhyun looks around the room and shrugs.

“Maybe. But look at what you give him. He has a little castle here. I’m sure he knows you love him. And besides, I saw the way he ran to you and hid behind you at the convenience store. He feels safe with you too.”

Chanyeol crosses the room to stand toe to toe with Baekhyun.

“Too?” He asks.

Baekhyun bites his lip and looks up at him, eyes searching for some sign that this man can feel this current between them too. He must have some idea of what Baekhyun is feeling to keep coming in so close. Chanyeol strokes the bangs from Baekhyun’s eyes and he feels the barely there touch like a jolt of lightning once more, just the same as the first time he did it under the umbrella together.

“Too.” He repeats, eyes boring into Chanyeol’s now.

He gets to his toes, unsure and nervous and reaches up. Chanyeol looks surprised but not uncomfortable by the forwardness. Baekhyun weighs the pros and cons of his actions. He thinks about the inviting bed and the possibility of sleeping so soundly there. He wraps his arms around the man’s shoulders, just barely reaching on his tiptoes.

“Thank you.” He says.

He breathes in the smell of the man’s cologne and relaxes into his warm chest. It’s too dangerous to be this close to him, he should have resisted the temptation altogether. And as these thoughts start to sink in, he feels Chanyeol’s arms slowly wind around him, bringing his shoulders down so that he doesn’t have to strain.

“You’re welcome.”

Baekhyun closes his eyes and sinks further into him, the weight of the man’s arms pressing in against his waist is sinful. He really can’t promise not to attack him now. His scent, his warmth, and the sound of his words breathed so low. He’s never been this close to a man this good before. He suddenly feels like he’s been slumming it with his exes, and not just because they weren’t worth his time in the end. But then he remembers that this man is straight. He’s not a viable option. He loosens his hold and Chanyeol reluctantly follows his lead. They pull apart and he drops his hold on Chanyeol but the man holds his waist in place and stares down at him.

“Thank you. I needed that.”

“A hug?”

Chanyeol laughs nervously and nods his head.

“Yeah… I can’t remember the last time someone gave me a hug. Other than Jun, you know? I don’t know the last time someone my size, a proper adult, actually gave me a hug. It’s nice, isn’t it?”

Baekhyun stumbles on his words, opening and closing his mouth without being able to say anything. Chanyeol lets go of his waist and steps from the room.

“Let me bring you something to sleep in.” He offers.

He nods his head so as not to seem rude and clutches the doorframe as the man walks away. Nice? It was beyond nice. It was so much more than nice. He tries to still his heart and walks back to the living room to grab his duffel bag, running into Chanyeol on the way back to the room.

“Oh, by the way, we can totally wash this and dry everything if you want.” He says.

Baekhyun reluctantly hands over the duffel bag, feeling too indebted to the handsome stranger, but not having the energy to keep fighting his kindness at this point.

What is wrong with him? It’s completely out of his character to just hug strangers like that. Baekhyun looked traumatized standing there in his arms and he held onto him until it was uncomfortable. Maybe it’s because he thinks Baekhyun is actually pretty cool. He’s handsome and fun to talk to and surprisingly playful. He compares him to the guy in the convenience store and realizes he’s exactly who he thought he was. He’s actually very thoughtful, processing the repercussions of things in advance and choosing his moves carefully. He hits the snooze button for the second time and rolls over in his bed, feeling the spacious king is unusually lonely this morning after having been reminded what it feels like to hold someone.

He still doesn’t have someone to stay with Jun tonight while he’s at work and he’s avoided the message showing he has an unread text from Junmyeon since the night before. He grabs his phone and sits up with a long sigh before clicking the bubble and reading:Hey! I’m going to take him to preschool tomorrow morning. Let me know if you need me to pick him up. Try to let me know before noon if you can since I’ll have to push back an appointment and I don’t want to be charged one of their dumb penalty fees lol Stay dry out there man!

He can’t keep imposing on Junmyeon like this. He has to think of something long term. And sure, Junmyeon never minds. He’s Jun’s godfather and he’s always been so good to Jun. But even still, he doesn’t like feeling like a bad parent to Jun. He wants to solve this problem. He goes out into the living room as his alarm sounds again and he turns it off this time, walking to the kitchen to start a pod of coffee in the Keurig. He looks at the two mugs washed and sitting in the drying rack and smiles to himself. Baekhyun must have washed them last night. He drags his feet walking to the laundry room and finds that Baekhyun’s clothes are already tumbling in the dryer. Maybe he woke up early? He goes to the Nanny suite and almost knocks but the door is already open. He presses lightly on the door and finds that the bed is already made.


He wanders back over to the other wing of the house where his room is and stops at Jun’s door when he hears soft clatter. Carefully he presses on the door and peeks inside of the room.


The man peeks over and smiles sheepishly.

“Hey, good morning. Did I wake you up?”

Chanyeol steps in, mussing up his unstyled hair as he looks around. Baekhyun continues putting the toys away in the toy box.

“You don’t have to clean like this.”

“I owe you a lot, and this is nothing.” Baekhyun replies matter of factly. “Besides, I like organization. It looks like it’s ordered by the type of toy in each toy box. Action figures, stuffed animals, make believe props. It’s not hard to figure out since there are labels on each bin.”

Chanyeol watches him another moment and then gets to his knees.

“You know what would really help me out?”

Baekhyun looks nervous suddenly and he pulls the oversized shirt up over his shoulder again where it slipped aside.


“If you could get Jun from school today and stay with him until I get home.”

Baekhyun’s brows raise.


Chanyeol grabs one of Baekhyun’s hands and holds it in between his own.

“I really… I would really be indebted to you.”

“Chanyeol. I… No. I can’t. I really appreciate everything you’ve done for me. Really. But that was just you. This is your son. I can’t be held accountable for anything that might happen to him.”

“It’s really not a big deal. I’ll pay for the cab fare there and back. You just have to order a cab, go to the school, pick him up and come right back here. I’ll order a pizza. I trust you--”


Baekhyun stands up quickly and walks to the doorway and pauses.

“Why would you trust me with your most important person?”

Chanyeol holds his head in his hands, not answering. Of course he wouldn’t say yes. Most people would refuse. Sane people, anyway. And he’s right. He can’t just trust a stranger. And even though he doesn’t feel like a stranger, even though he’s been helpful and kind, he is still a stranger.

“You’re right. It was a stupid idea. Just, forget it. I’ll… I’ll ask my friend to do it again.”

Baekhyun gives him an approving dip of the chin before silently walking away. Chanyeol remains on the floor, picking up a Captain America doll and tossing it into the toy chest next to him. He notices the labels and feels lost. He knows he didn’t label the toy boxes, which means the nanny must have. When? When did this happen? How long have these labels been here? He’s been in this room thousands of times to check on Jun after he’s gone to bed and to help him pick out an outfit. But he’s never noticed something so basic and small. He swallows hard and texts Junmyeon letting him know he’d appreciate it.

He picks up the few remaining toys and puts them away before leaving the room, closing the door behind him and holding onto the handle for a lingering moment.


He turns at Baekhyun’s voice with a smile and realizes the man has already packed his duffel bag.

“You don’t have to leave yet.”

Baekhyun tries to keep his expression neutral but he can read the uncertainty there. He can’t blame the guy for fleeing. Chanyeol has been acting strange and he doesn’t even have an answer as to why.

“I need to find somewhere to go and I know it won’t be easy.” Baekhyun offers a smile but it’s weak.

“Sure… Yeah. No, I understand completely. That makes sense.”

Baekhyun turns on his heel and walks towards the door quickly and Chanyeol watches feeling numb and powerless. He really would prefer if Baekhyun stayed at the apartment while he looked for somewhere to go. It doesn’t seem like he has anywhere to go. And besides, he saw Baekhyun’s phone in his duffel bag the night before, the screen cracked and completely wet. It wouldn’t even turn on though that could also be a drained battery.

“Wait!” He calls, stopping Baekhyun and running back to his room. “Hold on just a second.”

He comes back with his wallet and grabs his business card and hands it over.

“What’s this?”

“Just… Just in case you don’t find somewhere. You can call me or just come back here. My Jun isn’t going to be home again tonight anyway since my friend will be watching him likely so… Don’t be somewhere unsafe or wet tonight.”

He holds out money too but Baekhyun takes the business card and pushes the hand holding the money back towards Chanyeol’s chest.

“Thanks, but this is enough. I wanted to repay you anyway.”

Chanyeol is reluctant to put the money back. He grabs another card from his wallet and holds it out.

“How about this instead? It’s a gift card to Subway. My coworkers bought it for me and I’ve had it since Christmas and haven’t used it.”

Baekhyun stares at the yellow card for a moment and starts to decline but Chanyeol pushes the card into his hand insistently.

“Please. I’ll really worry if I think you’re homeless and have no way to eat some kind of normal meal.”

“Okay.” He agrees and takes the gift card too, tucking both into the back pocket of his denims.

“And one more thing.”

Baekhyun rolls his eyes.

“You’re really persistent with this savior thing.”

“Take an umbrella.”

Baekhyun heaves a sigh and walks towards the door.

“It would just be foolish to say no at this point. That’s being practical.” Chanyeol tries to convince him, following behind him. “You just washed all of your clothes too. Also--”

“Fine. Fine. Hand it over.” He growls with irritation but Chanyeol finds a smile on his face.

He pulls out a clear plastic umbrella and extends it to Baekhyun. He accepts it graciously and thanks him despite having protested and Chanyeol feels just a little better. Standing in his plaid pajama pants with a white tee shirt on, he feels strangely disheartened to see the man go, and maybe not just because he’s worried about him but also because he already considers him to be a friend.

“Hey Baekhyun...”

Baekhyun turns around again and points the whole umbrella at Chanyeol.

“You’re driving me crazy. What? What? What is it now?”

Chanyeol opens up his arms and shrugs lightly.

“One more?”

If the man is uncomfortable with the idea, he doesn’t show it. He smiles warmly and walks right into his embrace.

“That I can accept.” He whispers, wrapping his arms firmly around Chanyeol’s waist this time, crushing his face to him.

Chanyeol feels it again, something achy in his chest when he wraps his arms around him. There’s no explanation for it, but he feels strangely content and comfortable. And when Baekhyun pulls away, he can’t help but linger, this time with his hands on Baekhyun’s shoulders.

“I really mean it, Baekhyun. If you don’t find somewhere to go… please, come back. That room is yours for as long as you need it.”

“Your generosity confuses me,” Baekhyun admits, softening his features. “But thank you. I really do appreciate that.”

Chanyeol realizes that for the first time, he can identify one feeling in his chest. It’s barely there, almost missable, but there is a flutter in his chest. He’s really very cute when he smiles.

He walks to the door and unlocks it, turning and waving over his shoulder quickly before he leaves. It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel right watching him walk away. He wants to talk to him more, see him smile again. Chanyeol feels conflicted as he heads to his room to get ready for work, his body on autopilot but his brain still replaying the time with Baekhyun over and over again. He doesn’t have to rush to get to work today, not having to take Jun to school cuts his commute time down substantially and this only confirms that he really needs to find a better long-term plan for Jun.

Pulling up the browser on his work computer he scrolls through nanny agencies, looking at reviews and cross referencing them through standard google searches to make sure there aren’t any problems. But his mind keeps coming back to Baekhyun. He keeps thinking about his defiant persistence to do things on his own without anyone’s help. He thinks about the way he looks up at him, eyes flickering like he’s looking for something. He remembers the way his arms feel around him… It wouldn’t be the first time he’s had a crush on a guy after all. It’s just been a long time since he’s felt any kind of interest in someone specific and not just a longing for intimacy in general. He’s had work to deal with and then adding in trying to spend time with Jun to that, but… Baekhyun intrigues him. He wants to know more about him now. Isn’t this how it always starts? Wanting to be around the person more and more? His phone buzzes and he’s pulled from his thoughts by Junmyeon calling.

“Hey, sorry Junmyeon. I’m looking for a nanny agency right now.” He says clicking on the link.

“Woah. Calm down, man. We love having Jun at the house. It’s really not a problem. I know you’re ready for the little tyke to come home though. He misses you too.”

He covers his eyes in one palm.

“I know you say that… But I’m sorry, man. I really want to get this sorted out as quickly as possible and bring him home.”

“Yeah, I’m sure it’s quiet without Junha running around.”

Chanyeol thinks back to the previous night and clears his throat.

“Actually… last night I ran into a friend on the way home.”

Junmyeon is quiet for a moment and then gives a short, strained chuckle.

“Park Chanyeol, don’t take this wrong way… but do you have other friends?”

He grins and slumps back in his chair, spinning to face the window.

“Uncalled for. But I’ll forgive it because I’m indebted to you. Yes, I have friends. He ran into a bit of a hard time and got roughed up by some thug and I took him to the hospital.”

There’s another silence and he can practically imagine Junmyeon’s face with his brows scrunched up and his eyes narrowed.

“Uh… And again, I really… really don’t mean any offence here but… What kind of friends do you have that get roughed up by thugs?”

What kind of friend is he? That’s a pretty good question.

“He’s a good guy. I’ve never known him to be anything but generous and respectful. He even gave Junha the last ice cream at the convenience store recently. I promise he’s not a gangster or anything.”

“Okay… I mean, I guess that’s good.”

Chanyeol swivels his chair back and forth and laughs.

“Anyway… I’m looking into nanny agencies.”

“Yeah… Hey, why don’t we keep Junha for the rest of the week? It’ll give you some time to figure things out.” Junmyeon offers and he sighs heavily.

“I don’t know about that. I’ve never been apart from him that long.” Chanyeol says, voice feeling tight as it comes out like he’s parched from a long hot day.

He can’t imagine life where he doesn’t come home to Jun. He wants to see those big round eyes lighting up as he runs to him.

“I know. But listen, it’s already midweek. You’ll be off Friday night, you can come by and pick him up and bring him home. That gives you more business time to check things out too. You know he’s no imposition on us, Chanyeol. I really think it would be better if we don’t rush this. For Jun’s safety.”

“Yeah… I’ve been cross referencing things all morning. One of the agencies has a lawsuit pending for child endangerment and they’re still practicing. I just… I thought of asking someone to come stay with me for a while to take care of him but… I don’t know. This is just the worst situation.” Chanyeol sighs.

“I know. I know, Chanyeol. It’s going to be okay. This is temporary.”

He closes out the tabs on his computer and closes his eyes, rocking from side to side in a semi-circle as he brainstorms.

“It’s temporary but I still can’t help but worry that he’s suffering from all of these changes in his life.”

Junmyeon laughs. “Yeah, that’s because you’re a father. You’re Junha’s father. Of course you worry about him.”

He thinks about the labels on the toy boxes and feels deflated again.

“Yeah. I am his dad.”

“You are. Everything is going to be okay. I promise.”

He wants to believe that but it doesn’t change the fact that he can’t stop the crash of inadequacy pulling him down. He feels more and more like a bad father. Baekhyun telling him that he’s a good Dad just made him feel even more that he’s not for some reason. All he could think was “You say that because you don’t know…” Because he rarely sees the little guy as it is. Because every day there are more and more things that he doesn’t get to experience with him. Because he’s growing up too fast now, and he still can’t give him a family…

He stares at the convenience store’s fluorescent lights illuminating the dark wet ground. Seated at one of the plastic tables, he debates what he’s going to do. Option one is to rough it on the streets for a night, option two is to call Chanyeol. He flips the business card around in his hand over and over while he debates. His phone is broken so he has no way of contacting most of his friends to see if he can crash. And the numbers he did remember bailed on him. And that luxurious bed was so… it was so comfortable. Seeing Chanyeol before bed and then waking up to Chanyeol in the morning wasn’t bad either. He looked tenfold more attractive in the morning. His long bangs falling in his eyes, hair sticking up in the back. His chest feeling so solid against his cheek, smelling like sleep and body wash. He hadn’t even heard him take a shower but that probably was for the better. Thinking about Chanyeol naked probably wouldn’t have been healthy for him.

It’s probably unhealthy to even be entertaining the ridiculous notion of going back there. But then he imagines what kind of face he might make if he found out that he slept outside instead of just calling him. It’s already past 11PM anyway. Chances are he’s probably already asleep. Rain starts to tap against the plastic table top and he looks up at the skies above. Maybe this is the universe telling him to call. Or maybe he’s just filling in the option he wants most with special meaning to justify it to himself. He grabs his duffel bag and umbrella and makes his way into the store. The part-time worker looks like a college student, her hair twisted up haphazardly in a sloppy bun and eyes bagged behind horn rimmed glasses. She glances up from the textbook behind the counter and caps the highlighter to welcome him.

“Hey… Can I use the phone?” He asks, trying to look as innocent as possible.

She sniffles and looks at the white dial phone and then back at him with a shake of her head.

“No. You’re going to have to use a payphone. Nobody is allowed behind the counter except staff.”

He nods his head and leans on the counter.

“I guess it won’t reach me over here?”

“Back up off of the counter, Sir. You’re not allowed back here.”

He puts his hands up and backs up.

“Yeah… I’m guessing you don’t happen to have a phone I can borrow?”

She stares blankly at him and he nods his head.

“Yeah, of course. Probably not. Not everyone trusts strangers. Um… So… Is it at all possible that I can give you a phone number and you just call it for me? Is that a thing?”

She shakes her head no and he realizes that he can’t fault her for her behavior since this is literally the same level of distrust he’s grown to have over most scenarios. It’s only Chanyeol that seems to live in an imaginary world of no harm. Rich people are all like that, aren’t they?

“I know this isn’t your problem and you’re just trying to do your job. But it’s been raining for days now and I really don’t want to sleep out in the rain. I really need to get in touch with this person, or at least try to call. Please.”

She turns around and sits by her text book, refusing to acknowledge him and he’s pretty sure that the conversation is over. So, it isn’t the universe sending him a sign. Or maybe it is. Maybe the sign is that he needs to quit pining away for a dude with a kid. That’s the most logical explanation obviously.

“What’s the number?”

He turns to the girl, hopeful once again and she seems taken aback by his sudden grin of excitement. Baekhyun pulls the card back from his pocket and reads her the cellphone number printed there. She dials and puts the phone on speaker so he can hear each impossibly slow ring. But there is no answer. The voicemail picks up and she clicks the end call button with a shrug.


He pats the counter.

“Yeah, me too. But thanks anyway.”

Isn’t that always how it goes in his life though? A shrill jolt of excitement followed by disappointment? He wanders back outside and lifts the umbrella up overhead, listening to the hard pelt of the water on the plastic. Where does he go now? It almost seems comical that he entertained going back to that place anyway after Chanyeol’s awkward proposal. How he thought that entrusting a stranger with his child was a good idea, Baekhyun can’t possibly figure out. But the desperation on his face was evident. And people hire babysitters all the time, and aren’t they also strangers. Plus, sometimes children babysit children, under the guise that they’re somehow more mature than toddlers at the tender ages of 13 or even 16. He looks to the left and sees a post box ricocheting raindrops violently and then to the right where there is a watery trashcan. Post box or trash can. Which direction would he go.

“Excuse me, sir?”

He turns around and sees the college girl in the doorway to the store and he realizes he must look like a creep loitering around the door.

“Sorry, I was just deciding where to go.” He says apologetically and means it.

“Uh… that dude is calling back...”

He closes the umbrella quickly and ducks back inside with her where she’s holding up her phone with the speaker button illuminated.


“Baekhyun, is that you?”

Baekhyun sighs in relief and almost reaches for the phone but the girl protectively pulls her phone out of reach.

“Hey, uh, my phone is broken so I couldn’t contact you. I’m borrowing a phone right now.”

Chanyeol starts to comment but is cut off.

“Is that offer still on the table from this morning?”

The girl taps her foot impatiently.

“About you staying here?”

“Yeah, I… I couldn’t find a place today.”

She seems to be just as anxious about the reply as he is, awkwardly standing there, holding out her phone to him.

“So you’re coming back here?” Chanyeol’s voice doesn’t sound excited and Baekhyun eyes the call end button.

Maybe this is a mistake. Maybe he misread the kindness. Maybe he regrets it all now.

“Do you remember how to get here? Do you need me to pick you up?”

Baekhyun looks out at the rain briefly and then at the phone again.

“I… I don’t know how to get there.” He replies, knowing he had a general idea but not wanting to get lost and not have a way to contact him.

“Where are you? I’m coming right now.”

Baekhyun’s heart starts to beat a little faster and he looks at the college student to see if she thought there was something special there too but she just stares at him. After he fails to answer though, she steps in and tells him the address, ending the call with a request that Chanyeol hurry and come get Baekhyun. While he wasn’t sure that Chanyeol would be a great mood when they meet up, late at night with him having nowhere to go and relying on him again, he still finds himself looking forward to the man showing up. And it doesn’t take long before a silver SUV comes to a stop in front of the store. Chanyeol rolls down the window and Baekhyun stumbles forward, mouth falling open at the sight of the man behind the wheel. What is it about forearms that can be so attractive without doing anything special? With a sweater rolled up to his elbow, Baekhyun fixates on the man’s exposed skin too intently and can feel color rising in his face.

“Are you okay?”

Baekhyun nods his head, unsure what words he could come up with, head spinning with the raging hormones that he never can seem to control.

“Get in, Baekhyun.”

He hears Chanyeol unlock the door and crams his bag into the front seat at his feet. Chanyeol reaches over and pulls the bag from the floorboard though and carefully places it on the seat in the back. It’s a small gesture but it’s the kind of thing he’s come to expect from him.

“Let’s go home.” He whispers and Baekhyun can feel himself smiling.

“I didn’t know you have a car.” Baekhyun says, trying to fill the air with something more than his need to reach over and touch Chanyeol.

“Yeah, I rarely use it though. Traffic is hell in the morning, so now that I have to run Junha to school and then get to work, I’ve been using public transit more. I guess that’s not an issue this week though. “

“This week?”

Chanyeol readjusts in his seat, sitting up a little straighter and Baekhyun notices a tightness in his lips. Discomfort maybe.

“Yeah. Junmyeon is watching Junha this week so… I don’t have to worry about that.”

“A friend?”

He bobs his head in confirmation and Baekhyun can tell he’s not feeling the conversation. It’s strange that he finds himself interacting so naturally and comfortable in the front seat like this. It shouldn’t be this normal after one day together but it is. It’s effortless.

“Junha likes your friend?”

Chanyeol chuckles a little and glances at Baekhyun.

“Junmyeon is his God father. We named him the God father before Jun was even born so he’s grown up with him. Junmyeon is… he’s a bit stricter than I am. So I know he loves Junmyeon but I wouldn’t say he likes being there all the time.”

“I guess you really want to bring him home then?”

“Yeah… But I can’t do anything for him right now. I can’t stay home.”

Baekhyun thinks about what it must be like to be apart from a child. He’d had a puppy when he was younger, a little pug that his mother adopted. She was so cute and precious, but she passed away from complications with a sinus infection after a few years. It was really hard for him but that… that wasn’t really the same as a child.

“I’m sorry you had to come pick me up.”

They pull into a garage and Chanyeol turns to Baekhyun for a moment too long.

“It’s not a problem. I told you to call. Besides, I was worried about you anyway.”

He shouldn’t say these kinds of things but he does and Baekhyun knows that he needs to read them as casual and non-sexual but his first thought is of the man fantasizing about him and that does nothing to quell his already active libido.

“I see.”

Chanyeol’s parking spot has his name on it and Baekhyun wonders how much money you have to make to have a designated parking spot in the garage.

“I’ll grab your bag.” Chanyeol says matter-of-factly.

He’s out of things to say that could be casual and immediately come to mind so he stays as quiet as he can, riding the elevator upstairs. He knows that he should be more talkative but he can’t be bothered with that right now. He’s got too much on his mind. He’s lost in the way he thinks Chanyeol might smell, the way his sweater is pushed up and mostly with the way that he feels being around the man. Every time that they’re together he finds more and more things that he loves about him. He should be more casual or normal, and he really should have never even called him but it’s too late now. And despite the fact that he keeps having raw feelings of longing that keep manifesting as sexual tension, he has to put on airs that he’s just interested in a place to stay. Because he can’t make a move on the man. He can’t even try to be a friend mentally, but externally he’s going to be completely platonic.

The apartment is exactly as he left it. No changes or signs of life to disarray the perfection. He can’t imagine living this way but there’s something slightly cute about the fact that he does nothing but work and think of his son. It’s a small, fading thought, but he looks over at Chanyeol carrying his bag towards the Nanny suite and can’t help but admire him once more.

“Are you cold? Do you want some coffee?”

Baekhyun grins and grabs hold of Chanyeol’s sweater so that they can meet eyes and he can admire the way the man’s round, dark eyes show concern for him.

“No, that will keep us up again.”

He likes the word us more than he should, knowing it put both of them together, if only in speech.

“Yeah… Of course, yeah. That’s stupid. Sorry.”

“It’s not stupid, but maybe don’t drink caffeinated things around Midnight.”

He lets go of Chanyeol’s sleeve hesitantly, and realizes that he can fantasize a series of events following this in his mind too clearly. Chanyeol dropping his bag to the ground and reaching for his face, grabbing hold of him with those big hands and pushing him up against the wall with a kiss. His desire radiates from his body and makes the air feel thick. He looks away and reaches for the bag, taking it from Chanyeol.

“I’ve got this. Thanks.”

Chanyeol doesn’t move from that spot even as Baekhyun walks away and he worries irrationally that the man could read his thoughts. Even though it’s not possible. He doesn’t ever seem to be able to read the sexual tension between them.

“Stay.” Chanyeol says suddenly.

Baekhyun sighs, setting his duffel bag on the still made bed.

“You know I can’t do that. I can’t pay for a room and--”

“You can repay me by watching Junha. So, please… Just stay here. I need someone temporarily anyway and you need somewhere to stay temporarily. So, think of it like babysitting instead of being a nanny.” He says, walking into the room and grabbing one of Baekhyun’s shoulders.

“I just don’t feel comfortable watching your son.”

“I didn’t feel ready to be Junha’s dad, I still worry if I can do better.” He runs his hand down Baekhyun’s arm setting off alarm bells internally in their track before taking hold of Baekhyun’s hand and holding it tightly. “Please.”

“Look, that’s not the same. You’re his dad. I’m a stranger.” Baekhyun swallows hard and feels like Chanyeol is seducing him with his soft hold on him.

He tightens his hold in a squeeze and then smiles.

“Just… Please think about it. Or just try it one day. You have the whole weekend to think about it. Maybe, just stay through the weekend… huh?”

Baekhyun looks down, noting the way his hand looks in Chanyeol’s.

“I’ll think about it.” He promises.

There’s no reason for them to hold hands but the man lingers there still.

“At least through the weekend. That’s all I’m asking.”

“I’ll think about it. Really.” He pulls his hand free and Chanyeol gives him a soft smile, excusing himself from the room to leave Baekhyun alone with the soft bed.

He changes clothes in the bathroom, looking at himself in the oversized mirror above the counter. He unwraps the bandage gauze on his forearm and looks at his skinned-up forearms and recalls the scene in front of the club. He had been so careful not the get caught and yet, somehow the owner caught on by watching security footage of him. And Chanyeol just happened to be there. Like magic, like destiny, he just happened to be there at that exact moment. Holding onto him gently and offering him the world with his deep voice. Seeing the rain darkening his blazer in the darkness as he offered the umbrella to Baekhyun, making sure he was covered was exactly the fairy tale he always imagined. Maybe if he wasn’t so much the perfect man of Baekhyun’s dreams he could take him up on this offer. But he is. He’s going to get hurt if he stays. He’s going to keep getting pulled in, further and further into this web.

He splashes water over the wounds and uses tissue to pat it down so that he doesn’t bloody the towels before wrapping it back up. The skin is blue and purple fading on the edges into an unnatural yellow. He pushes his bag to the floor and crawls into the oversized full bed and feels too comfortable immediately. The mattress molds to him and the pillow catches his head on a downy softness. After a day full of walking, he can feel the pull of sleep, blurring the edges of his consciousness into perfect hazy release. He gives into it with the light still on, his legs sinking with dead weight against the soft Egyptian cotton sheets. He has dreamless, deep slumber, and when he startles awake the next morning, it’s to the sound of soft clutter and the smell of food. It takes only seconds for him to place his surroundings, lost in the warmth of sleep in the plush materials. He wants to burrow further into this bed and stay forever. Maybe he could stay here a bit longer. It wouldn’t be so hard staying in all day and watching a kid. Despite the fact that he doesn’t understand why Chanyeol would trust him, he factually knows that he would never do anything to endanger a child. He’s not used to kids, but it’s not like he has to teach the kid.

He slides from bed and walks to the door, debating whether he wants to go out and face him. He probably should stay put for a while longer, it’s the safest decision after all. It’s only then, close to the living room that he can hear Chanyeol softly singing to himself in the distance. He peeks into the living room and watches the man, shirtless with pajama pants on, head bobbing as he sings quietly, hands moving quickly. He grabs a coffee mug and takes a sip, a brief pause in his serenade to the breakfast foods being prepared before he returns to humming a tune. Baekhyun can definitely get used to this. There have been so many warning alarms going off inside of him that he’s basically desensitized to the calls for him to be careful of his weak heart.

“Here goes nothing…” He whispers to himself and swings the door fully open.

He moves across the room and climbs up on the high bar stool to lean on the counter and get a better view of Chanyeol’s bare lean back. His shoulders are wide and they taper ever so slightly into a narrower hip. He’s not rippling with muscles but he does look every bit the part of a male God with smooth lines and skin that looks soft. He doesn’t seem to notice Baekhyun as he moves his head and bops along, stirring scrambled eggs in the skillet by a sink full of dirty dishes from where he’d already made pancake stacks on two plates. This is probably the first time someone has made him breakfast in the morning after spending the night where he didn’t have to put out. He wonders if this is a normal thing that Chanyeol does or if this special just to get him to move in. He doesn’t care either way. The coffee smells good, swirling the air every time Chanyeol takes a sip like it was diffusing through the house. It’s only after he’s done with the eggs that he finally notices Baekhyun at the counter.

“Hey!” He exclaims, eyes lighting up. “Do you want some coffee?”

“I take it you like coffee?” Baekhyun asks. “You’ve offered me coffee a hundred times in the last 2 days.”

“I’ve also offered you a place to stay countless times, does that mean I like you?” He asks, grinning to himself as he pulls the coffee pod free from the Keurig.

“Coffee sounds great. Thank you.” Baekhyun replies, blushing too much.

He doesn’t realize that his words come off as flirtatious. That’s all. Baekhyun is reading into it too much, but he can’t not feel melty and warm inside at the slight teasing. Even if it’s all in his head, he likes the way he makes him feel worth flirting with. Even if it’s not his intention, he makes Baekhyun feel cared for and special. He watches the man smirk over his shoulder at him as he makes a cup for him and instinctively, he grins.

“So I guess it’s still a no.” He whispers as he grabs the sugar jar and brings it over to the counter top bar where Baekhyun is sitting.

“I never said that.”

Chanyeol holds his gaze with his hand still atop the sugar jar before Baekhyun. Baekhyun pulls the coffee mug closer and looks away first, peeling Chanyeol’s fingers back to spoon sugar into his black coffee.

“So… it’s a yes?”

Baekhyun shrugs coyly.

“I mean, it’s leaning towards a yes. Not that I’ve decided.”

Chanyeol claps his hands together.

“That’s such great news!” He spins quickly and grabs the plates of pancakes and eggs and slides them onto the counter in front of Baekhyun. “Here, have some breakfast. Uh, take your time deciding. Just…” He grabs a bowl of washed strawberries and places them next to Baekhyun with a wistful smile.

Every time he acts like this, Baekhyun wavers more, but he can’t make this decision just based on Chanyeol.

“Do you like strawberries in sugar? Junha likes it and he got me hooked on it too.” He says and rounds his way from the kitchen to sit at the counter next to Baekhyun, handing over a napkin and a fork.

Baekhyun looks at the browned pancake stack and the eggs too long, reading into the gifted meal too much with a secretive pull of his cheeks. It’s been too long since he was taken care of like this. So even if it’s just through the weekend, he’d like to stay like this.

“I like it.” He breathes. “I like it so much.”

He’s leaning towards a yes. It puts him at ease more than he’d care to admit knowing that Baekhyun might stay with him for a while. That he might get to see him every day. That this soft tingle in his chest might blossom into something more identifiable. Something concrete and not just water over a hot stove eye, on the verge of bubbling up. More than just the press of green against the shell of a seed buried and watered, nudging to break free and show its color through the brown earth. He can feel it now, he’s on the cusp of feeling something. He’s interested in Baekhyun, but he can’t quite make out how. Over breakfast they talked about his work and Baekhyun’s company felt different than his casual conversations with his previous nannies. He was interested in what the man thinks, how he sees the world, and the way strawberry juice ran down his chin. Chanyeol felt like he was crossing too many boundaries when he reached over to wipe it away with his thumb, but Baekhyun didn’t recoil when he brought it to his mouth to lick the nectar away. He simply grabbed his napkin and apologized with embarrassed laughter.

Could Baekhyun feel it too? Is this all in his head? He looks at Baekhyun sometimes and he swears there’s electricity snapping between their gazes. But even if Baekhyun has no interest in him, he still wants to keep him around for longer. Selfishly, he wants to protect him from the world that treats him so coldly. He wants him to stay with him so that Junha will have someone around and can come home to his own room at night and he won’t miss him so much. It’s not selfless at all. He’s not selfless in the slightest. He’s all selfishness, and he hates it. But humans don’t change so easily do they? They’re habitual. And he’s not used to having to act out of anything more than consideration for his son and his own basic needs anymore.

Regardless, he focusses on his work more throughout the day knowing that Baekhyun might stay and watch Jun for him. He doesn’t worry so much about where Baekhyun might be staying in the evening because he knows he’ll be there when he gets home. Even though he hadn’t given him a clear okay, he did say he’d be willing to impose for at least one more night. On the way home, he stops by the drug store to pick up some gauze and padding for the man’s arms and he grins to himself as he drives through the narrow streets. Baekhyun’s dirty sneakers are in the entry of his home when he opens the door, just as promised, and he lines up his loafers next to Baekhyun’s, thinking the difference in size is really quite precious. He imagines Jun’s shoes on the other side of Baekhyun’s and he can’t help but feel giddy. In Starbucks sizes, they would line up in the order tall, venti, and then trenta. Or maybe Jun would be a short at only 8 fluid ounces because he’s so small.

He collapses his head against the wall, smiling too much.

“Get it together, Park.” He breathes to himself.

He knocks on the door to Baekhyun’s room and hears no response. He presses on the handle and peeks inside and finds the room empty. Sliding the door open, he goes to put the bag on the dresser when he hears the drip of water.


He sees the light filtering in from the bathroom and he clears his throat to call out again.


He steps into the room and knocks on the door cracked open slightly and hears water swirl.

“I’m in the bath.” Baekhyun calls.

“Oh. Okay. I’m going to leave this bag here for you.” He says softly, knowing that he’s already doomed.

He can see it clearly in his mind, Baekhyun’s shoulders peeking up over bubbles, looking small and cute in the oversized garden tub.

“You better not have gotten me anything!” Baekhyun barks.

“Did you eat dinner yet? I’m about to order something.” He replies, grinning as he leans into the molding of the doorway to the bathroom.

“Stop getting things for me! I’ll never be able to pay you back!” Baekhyun growls, splashing in the tub.

“Okay. I won’t get you anything else. After I buy you dinner.”

Baekhyun is silent from the other side of the door and he imagines him pouting.

“Are you still there? Are you okay?”

Baekhyun still doesn’t reply and he turns around to lean his back against the frame with a teasing chuckle.

“If you don’t answer, I’m going to assume you’re drowning. Should I come in and check?”

There’s still no answer though and his smile falters.


Without fully intending on coming in, he places one hand to the door handle.

“Don’t come in, pervert. I’m naked in the tub.” Baekhyun says finally.

Chanyeol pulls the door closed instead of opening it further.

“I’m ordering food after I take a shower. Come out and tell me what you want or I’m ordering for you.” He calls before setting the bag down and walking away.

When he’s done showering off and changing, Baekhyun is sitting on the couch in an oversized tee shirt and pastel blue boxers, hair wet and cheeks flushed from his bath. Chanyeol walks to where he’s sitting and whips the towel off of his shoulders and tosses it on top of Baekhyun’s head. The man giggles and tries to pull it away but he catches his wrists and pulls his hands back.

“Stay still.” He says calmly and starts to dry the man’s hair with soft towel shakes against his wet mop.

Baekhyun closes his eyes, leaning forward into Chanyeol’s scrubbing and he lowers his attention to Baekhyun’s face. His lashes rest on the swells of high cheekbones and his pink mouth looks soft to touch. The birthmarks on his cheek and above his lip are faint and pretty. His bare thighs are pale, his fingers thin and delicate. Chanyeol swallows too hard and Baekhyun hears the gulp and looks up at him.

“Sorry.” He breathes, feeling guilty like his interest might be palpable in the air between them.

“For what?”

Baekhyun doesn’t waver his searching gaze and he’s too close and he smells clean. Chanyeol lets go of the towel and it stays put on top of Baekhyun’s head.

“I was staring.” He admits.

“Staring at me?”

He nods his head and Baekhyun pulls the towel off of his head and holds it, damp and ragged to the touch between them.

“I don’t mind.”

Chanyeol reaches forward and runs his fingers through his hair, combing through lockets of water touched hair somewhere between wet and dry.

“What if I’m a murderer?” Chanyeol teases.

“I think you underestimate my ability to take you down.” Baekhyun replies, pulling back with a smirk.

“I don’t underestimate you at all. I know you can disarm me already.” Chanyeol whispers.

His heart stutters in his chest when those downturned eyes hold him in place for too long and he gets to his feet too quickly to calm down. He walks to the fireplace and turns it up.

“Do you--”

“No, I don’t want coffee.”

Chanyeol turns to him with narrowed eyes, enchanted by the man’s teasing.

“Do you want Chinese or Pizza?” He says.

“You don’t have to feed me.” Baekhyun pulls the towel up to his head and hides behind it.

“Okay. I guess it’s my choice then.”

“I’m really not hungry.”

Chanyeol walks to the kitchen and opens the refrigerator. There’s really nothing in there. Juice boxes, yogurt snacks, fruits and eggs. Tupperware of kimchi and side dishes Junmyeon brought over and bottles of water. He grabs his phone and clicks on the pizza app and methodically orders a cheese pizza.

“Pizza will be here in 20 minutes.” He says as he walks to the couch.

“Am I speaking a foreign language? Do you hear me?”

Chanyeol plops down next to him and shrugs.

“You don’t have to eat it.”

“I’m not going to.”

He reaches over and moves hair from his cheek to behind his ear in a tender tuck and smirks.

“Defiant little thing, aren’t you?”

“Surprisingly opinionated for such a small person, yeah. I get that a lot.” Baekhyun says quickly leaning back against the couch.

They don’t speak for a moment, side by side and unusually comfortable for relative strangers.

“I like it.” Chanyeol says.

“That I’m defiant and opinionated?”

He nods his head and closes his eyes.

“I like you. You’re interesting.” He adds to clear up any undertones.

Baekhyun closes his eyes once again and gives an audible and thoughtful hum of understanding.

“I like you too.”

“As a person?” Chanyeol asks, turning against the cushion to look over.

Baekhyun meets eyes with him, lingering and cautious in his consideration of what the man is looking for.

“Yeah. You’re a good person.”

“What about as a man?” Chanyeol challenges.

“As a man…”

There’s that impossible feeling like he could hear the drum of his heart in his ears. Like the audible pump pounding in a stethoscope. A clear reverberation of unease and expectation, and above all, there is excitement there.

“I think you’re a good man, Chanyeol. As a man, I think… You’re noble and kind.”

He rubs his mouth with two fingers and tries again.

“A good man… And that’s all? You see me as a man in terms of how much I’ve done and nothing more?”

Baekhyun turns towards Chanyeol so that his body faces him and leans his elbow on the back of the couch.

“What are you asking, exactly?”

Maybe this is the safest point to end the conversation. Maybe there’s no need to take it farther. Maybe pushing this would end with Baekhyun deciding he doesn’t want to stay. But there’s that maybe, that just maybe, telling him that it might be better for them to have space if it means that Chanyeol is going to continue to fall into this interest when the other party has no intention towards him. He can blame it on Jun and having to look out for his son all day, but it’s also about his own heart.

“What do you see when you look at me?”

Baekhyun sweeps his gaze over the man and looks down.

“Are you fishing for compliments? What do you mean exactly? Do you want me to tell you that you’re handsome? That you’re tall? I see that you are thoughtful and good looking and you care a lot for your son.”

“So, you do think I’m attractive as a man?”

Baekhyun shifts his weight, looking uncomfortable and Chanyeol reaches over to tip his chin up towards him with one finger.


“Is this your way of questioning my sexuality?”

Chanyeol’s mouth slips open, brows raising on his forehead.


“Are you asking if I’m interested in you as a man?”

He looks away from Baekhyun too quickly as the bell rings.

“Sorry. That was rude of me. That’s completely private. You don’t… You don’t need to answer that.”

Chanyeol wipes his sweat dampened brow and crosses the room, almost running into the coffee table in the process.

“The pizza is here; can you grab plates and napkins?”

Chanyeol reflects on the intimacy they almost shared with a self-scolding tightening to his own hands. What the hell had gotten into him? Why did it take Baekhyun looking at him with that knowing smirk before he realized how completely invasive he was being to someone who doesn’t need to answer to him at all? Baekhyun probably would leave after the weekend. He probably would run at the very first moment he was able to after spending this much time with Chanyeol. Chanyeol who is being too forward, and arguably, predatory towards the man. This isn’t what he meant when he said Baekhyun could pay back his kindness by staying here. He didn’t mean to imply anything distasteful. He doesn’t seem upset or rattled when Chanyeol comes back into the room. He’s gotten napkins out for them but he’s wandering through the cabinets looking for plates.

“By the sink to the left.” he says walking by.

“Got it.”

He tries to think of ways to change the subject when the man comes back.

“I should be careful around you,” Baekhyun says sitting on the floor at the coffee table. “You’re surprisingly flirtatious and straightforward.”

The rouge in Chanyeol’s cheeks intensifies and he grabs a slice without acknowledging the man’s teasing. He has to try to clear his mind.

“It might be dangerous if I stay. Do you still want me to be your temporary nanny?”


Baekhyun takes a bite of pizza despite his earlier insistence that he’s not hungry.

“Yeah. Dangerous. Don’t you think? What if my interest in you as a person turns into interest in you romantically and I pounce on you?”

Chanyeol rolls his eyes at the man’s mocking tone.

“Alright, alright… No need to go that far. I wasn’t trying to insult you or anything.”

“It wouldn’t be insulting for you to think I like men, Chanyeol. It would be observant.”

Chanyeol decides not to press him on that, they should focus on eating and changing the subject before he gets too invested in hope that the man might want to kiss him back.

“So… You’ll accept the offer?”

Baekhyun wipes sauces from the corner of his mouth with a napkin and steels his gaze on Chanyeol.

“Sure. Why not try it out? The worst that could happen is that it ends in disaster and you kick me out.”

“I highly doubt that will happen… But I’m holding you on your word that you’re going to stay here and work as a nanny in the interim.”

He feels full already, without even having finished the first slice. Maybe it’s because Baekhyun is still looking at him so fondly. Maybe it’s because he’s suddenly nervous and excited about the prospect of coming home to both Junha and Baekhyun every day. Their limited hours seem to have expanded to numberless days for him to decide just how much he’s interested in this man. But then there’s the weight of the thought that he won’t be able to resist him for very long if he keeps being so effortlessly sexy, walking around the house with wet hair, tee shirt showing too much of those collar bones…

Chapter 3: Part 2 - In secret places, we reach for one another

Chapter Text

Jun is not happy to see Baekhyun. When he walks through the door on Friday evening to be greeted by Baekhyun, he just looks at him with the same accusing glare as the first time they met as if to say “I remember who you are, and I’m still not over it, you no good ice cream thief.” But he doesn’t actually say anything. He simply stares up at Baekhyun with his short hair parted in the middle to frame his forehead in little parenthesis.

“Junha, be nice and say hello to Baekhyun.” Chanyeol says with a grin as he helps Jun take off his shoes one at a time and stow them in the cabinet behind him.

“Hi.” Is the extent of greeting he gets and Baekhyun must admit, he likes that the kid has a healthier distrust of strangers than his father has.

From a strictly care-taker stance, this is a definite benefit.

“My name is Baekhyun. I’ll be staying for… I’ll be here this weekend with you and your dad.” He says.

“Dad, why this Baek’eon is going to stay here?” Junha asks his Father, completely ignoring Baekhyun and looking up at Chanyeol instead.

“Junha, be nice or I’m going to send you back to Junmyeon’s house.”

“Is Baek’eon going to stay with Joo’myeon too?”

Chanyeol and Jun stare at one another for a long time and Baekhyun compares their expressions, puzzling their similarities like matching cards. Same big wide eyes. Same set to their mouths. Same defiant looks. They’re definitely of the same tree.

“What do you want for dinner?” Chanyeol finally asks.

“I like to have a fee’yay mee’non please.”

Chanyeol bursts into laughter and scoops the small child up into his arms.

“What is your obsession with filet mignon? You’ve never even had it, Jun.”

“I like it though.” He protests.

“No, you won’t like it. I promise. Try again buddy.”

Chanyeol reaches for Baekhyun’s hand and pulls him along into the living room effortlessly. Baekhyun spends a great deal of time trying to steady his breath and remember how to be cool when all he really wants to do is climb Park Chanyeol like a tree and make out with him. Excellent. He’s really doing excellent at staying here. Day 3 and he’s already planning to maul his sexy savior. Really, nothing says disaster quite like Baekhyun working as a nanny for a hot single dad but that’s the life he’s signed up for. Chanyeol lets Baekhyun’s hand go as they come around the couch and sit down.

“What about hamburger?” Chanyeol tries.


“What about noodles?” He tries again.


“So, Dad’s choice, huh?” He finally sighs and Jun nods his head. “Okay. I say Sushi.”

Jun wiggles around in his father’s arms spastically and laughs.

“Sushi?!” He yells. “Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! Sushi! Sushi! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay!”

Chanyeol glances at Baekhyun and lifts his brows and mouths “Is that okay?”

Baekhyun shrugs and nods his head.

“Why are you asking me? You guys can go eat whatever you want.”

Chanyeol shakes his head and grins. “Nope. Now you’re my nanny. So, you’re going to eat with me and Jun.”

“Baek’eon is eat sushi with Jun and Dad?”

“Yep! Sushi for everyone.” Chanyeol singsongs.

“A racecar sushi for eve’yone?”

“Yeah, we can get race car sushi.”

Racecar sushi turns out to be Junha’s name for revolving sushi. They shared a booth together and he watches in awe as the small child eats nearly 10 plates of sushi on his own. Granted, halfway in he’s leaving more and more rice on his plate and simply gobbling down the sweet egg, salmon and ikura like it’s going out of style.

Chanyeol eats with poise despite leaning one elbow on the table across from Baekhyun to have better reach to grab things for himself and Junha. He favors saba, negitoro and ootoro, showcasing his refined palette even in a cheap sushi joint. At one point, he grabs the eel off the conveyer belt and looks at Baekhyun pointedly with a wink. If he’s doing so to share a joke that eel is said to be good for men’s stamina, he doesn’t elaborate with anything in words. He simply grins down at his plate and eats quietly, cheeks full and pink when he glances back over only briefly to find Baekhyun still staring dumbstruck.

It feels flirtatious. It feels like he’s flirting even though it’s inconceivable. Even though it doesn’t make any sense. It feels like he’s doing it on purpose and trying to gauge Baekhyun’s reactions to things. Like Chanyeol is testing the waters as if he were the one who was queer and Baekhyun was the heterosexual one in this relationship. Or maybe he’s just curious and wants to experiment? Or maybe he’s just lonely and desperate and Baekhyun looks…. Easy.

Baekhyun looks down quickly and swallows hard, grabbing the hot green tea and sipping it too quickly. He burns his upper lip and flinches back, hands shaking as he replaces the ceramic cup back on the cluttered table amidst his empty plates. Chanyeol sets down his chopsticks in a clatter and reaches over, placing two fingers under Baekhyun’s chin to tip his attention up. There’s concern written all over his expression and Baekhyun’s heart stutters wildly in excitement, pushing aside any small wince of pain from the hot tea instantly.

“You okay?” He asks.

Junha looks between Baekhyun and his father wildly and then stands up in the seat, to reach his hand out to Baekhyun too.

“Baek’eon is hurt?” He asks.

Baekhyun slides his gaze over and takes Jun’s small hand in his own for the first time.

“I’m okay. I’m not hurt.” He assures.

“You can has kisses on your ouchies if Baek’eon is hurt.” He says and hits his father’s shoulder repeatedly.

“Do you need me to kiss it better?” Chanyeol asks with a straight face.

Baekhyun is certain his expression is something between mortification and elation. The short answer is yes, obviously. He needs Chanyeol to kiss the hell out of him and make all of the ouchies go away. The years of feeling cheap and unimportant ouchies. The not feeling like a competent adult ouchies. The broken heart and unemployed ouchies. If Chanyeol could kiss all of that away, he’d be across the table here and now in the middle of the restaurant. But that’s not in the cards today or ever. Because Chanyeol is a heterosexual single father and not a gay fairy god mother who can wave away all of Baekhyun’s problems with a magic wand.

“I—I’m—” Baekhyun stutters and looks away in time to catch a hamburger sushi coming by.

He reaches over and grabs it and shovels it into his mouth, trying to smile around it and give a thumbs up to indicate he’s fine. Chanyeol’s expression looks almost disappointed as he lowers his arm and urges Junha to sit back down on the bench next to him. Thoughtlessly, Baekhyun extends his legs out under the table, locking both of his feet around one of Chanyeol’s long legs. He’s not sure why he’s doing it until he sees the smile pulling at the man’s cheek across from him and suddenly it doesn’t matter why it happened, only that it did exactly what it was supposed to do. It’s entirely possible that Chanyeol sees Baekhyun as an extension of Junha, just a taller person that he needs to take care of; a child that needs a parent; a helpless soul lost in the world, in dire need of guidance. But he’d take that attention right now because this relationship is convenient to Baekhyun too.

It feels nice to not worry about where or when he’s going to eat. It feels so good to not have to push down hunger pangs and have a full stomach night after night like this. He loves the guest room and the spacious bed that he can roll around in at night. The hot bath with the Epsom salts under the cabinet for him to use on his aching muscles. And the flirting too. He has absolutely no problem with all of the flirting Chanyeol seems to be doing without even realizing it. It gives Baekhyun something to dream about because this isn’t just a nice-looking guy giving him a smile on the subway. This is something more that he’s so desperately been trying to fight off and he’s starting to give in. Park Chanyeol is… he’s perfect. Not perfect because he’s rich and nice and a good-looking guy. He’s perfect because he’s exactly Baekhyun’s taste. If he could dream up everything he wants in a guy, he couldn’t imagine anything different than what’s sitting across the table from him now. Tall with broad shoulders, slender boney fingers and elegant wrists… A perfect nose with mesmerizing eyes that are impossible to try to pull away from… His deep voice and the way his hands find him over and over again… Baekhyun knew it the first moment he lay eyes on him in the convenience store and he knows it now more than ever with certainty. This is his exact type and he can’t help how much it turns him on just being close to him like this. When Chanyeol reaches down and touches Baekhyun’s shin locked around his leg under the table with a grin, he feels the touch low in his belly like the man was stroking him. It’s a sweet kind of torture and maybe that’s exactly what he needs now. Maybe he needs to spend a little time with a man of this caliber so that he stops settling for guys that aren’t worth his love and attention anymore.

“Ready a’go?” Jun asks when the plates on the table have been tabulated into one receipt.

Chanyeol patiently helps Junha into his coat while the little boy stands on the bench and recites all of the names of the sushi he saw on the conveyer belt, complete with commentary on how he felt about each of the items in great detail. There’s something surreal about the moment as Baekhyun relaxes into the seat to wait for the two. Had anyone told him he’d be living with and eating revolving sushi with a single dad and his son a week ago, he’d have thought them out of their minds. He’s never really been good with kids anyway. Or maybe that’s not quite accurate… he’s never really been around kids before. He’s not had a family member with kids or a lover with kids or a friend with kids in his life. He’s always been with crowds that were single, were too young, were too career driven to focus on family and kids at the time. It’s why he feels so wildly unqualified for this role and this tentative agreement in place. But at the same time, he’s so content here in this little temporary gig and the stability it offers. He’s never been one to turn down a job because it looks hard. But this is different. This isn’t a job that just looks difficult, there’s a different level of responsibility involved, namely, the responsibility of a whole miniature person.

“You ready?” Chanyeol asks, patting Baekhyun’s knee under the table.

He’s not ready for this. He’s not sure about this at all. But he nods his head and hops out of the seat with a determined clearing of his throat, a persevering strong set to his eyes.

“Ready as I can be.” He replies.

He’s so much better than Chanyeol had imagined a person could be.

It’s been so long since he’s felt anything like this and his body has evolved into a hyper sensitive tracking device, pulled in by Baekhyun’s proximity every time he enters a room. And he’s not mad at it. He welcomes the awareness now as he looks across the Livingroom at the stranger playing cards with his son on the couch on Sunday evening. Baekhyun is sitting with his legs criss crossed in front of him, hiding a hand of cards fanned to his chest with the most precocious smile as he tries to match Junha’s tempo. Friday night had started shaky but the rest of the weekend seemed to be just fine. In fact, it was actually a great weekend. They went to the park, the zoo, had ice cream and found Junha a new funko pop he wanted. It was more fun than Chanyeol could remember having in a long time and there were several points where he forgot Baekhyun was even there as he just genuinely had fun with his son. Baekhyun handled it all in stride though, and the thing was that Baekhyun doesn’t even seem to see that he’s a natural at taking care of a kid. Because the truth is that nobody is ever ready to care for a little one. He certainly wasn’t. There’s a front door guard on the first floor whose Heimlich & CPR certified that Chanyeol has rushed down to more than once in a panic even though Junha’s heart was beating just fine and he wasn’t choking. But knowing someone is medically trained made him rush down regardless because his first thought had been “Who the hell am I to try to diagnose this? Troy at the front can tell me if I need to rush to the hospital!” And both times Troy told him with the utmost patience that nothing was wrong from what he could see and Chanyeol returned upstairs with a kid who just had constipation or just a light fever. But that’s how it is sometimes. He’s conscious that he holds someone’s one precious life in his hands and it’s not just any someone, but the most important someone in his life at that. Step one is understanding the weight of that. Step one is understanding on the most profound level that you are the one responsible for that small being. You’re the one that must answer for their whereabouts, their health, their hunger, their shelter, their place in the world. Baekhyun definitely weighed that responsibility heavily. He lowers himself from the pedestal of adulthood, puts himself on Junha’s level to play in an open way. Not in a condescending way but in a soft way that shows Junha respect. sHe doesn’t try to be overly silly or childish either. He simply matches the energy that’s given to him without trying and watching them play has consumed Chanyeol over the spine of his open book he was supposed to be reading. The Nicholas Sparks novel stays cracked to the same page of the first chapter where he’d opened to 30 minutes ago, no pages flipped, no paragraph finished. He finally gives in and sets down The Letters novel, folding over the same dog ear to the page that he started with the resignation that he won’t be able to read as long as Baekhyun is in the room with him.

His soft chin looks so inviting and those high cheeks catch the low lights with hard shadows. Despite the strong line of those defined features, he’s absent the hollows to his face of gaunt or sunken silhouette but instead holds the same soft swells and pink cheeks of his son’s youthful face. Chanyeol hadn’t allowed himself to think about what his ideal type would be for so long that he wouldn’t be able to give a list anymore. But he could list the things that he liked about Baekhyun and build a new ideal type from scratch. He’s just so much to take in at once that Chanyeol has been processing slowly over the days passed all of the little things that he finds charming about the man who’s moved in with them. He’s more than Chanyeol could have imagined and it’s overwhelming and exhilarating all at once. He’s finding himself more and more bewitched with every day but he can’t do anything about it right now. He can’t just swoop in and take him up into his arms and kiss him like he wants because he’s not sure if Baekhyun wants these things. He doesn’t want to lose the feeble place where they’re at. He doesn’t want him to move out because Chanyeol can’t control himself. He doesn’t want to make a mistake with someone so… He’s not quite sure how to identify what it is about Baekhyun yet, actually. Different doesn’t seem like enough to describe all that he is. His undeniable charm, his pouty expressions that melt his defenses, the sparkle in his eyes when their bodies are close… Is that consenting want or is that intrigued confusion? Does Baekhyun like guys or is he just getting wistful, his mind simply focused on something else entirely other than their sexual chemistry as he gazes intensely with those downturned eyes.

Above everything he wants to ask him what they’re doing. But he’s held at bay with uncertainty and fear. Locking him up every time he almost crosses the line with a reminder of what happens when you let your guard down around someone. There’s no getting around Junha’s mom in his memories. She was a whirlwind, a mistake, the best thing that ever happened to him in some ways... Where is she now? Has anyone heard from her lately? Nobody but Junha and Junmyeon had the pleasure of meeting the fascinating creature that is Junha’s mother, Jung Sooyoun before everything came to an abrupt end and she disappeared without a trace. She blocked his number, she stopped coming to university, and she moved to a new country. Eventually she created a new Instagram set to private and the trail went dry. Slowly erasing herself from social media and the world entirely. His life was so full with graduation, getting a job at his company, promotions, all while being a single father. It took all of his energy and suddenly, she became an after-thought. Junha didn’t remember her all and only ever asked about her when something came up on a tv show or at school. He gave all pictures of Sooyoun to his son to keep but the young one kept them in a box under his bed. He never saw Junha looking at them and last he checked the box had collected dust. He thought briefly that Junha would likely resent him for letting him grow up without a mother, or grow up alongside nannies, or grow up alone without anyone at home waiting for him when he gets home from school. The rational side of him whispered soothing comfort words, urging him not to worry and encouraging that he would likely be understanding of the struggles of a single parent household. But the nagging what if of teenage resentment always kept him second guessing every decision he made.

Would he resent Chanyeol more for being in a relationship with a man? How would he explain that he had only been with one woman in his life and she left him without a word with an infant and a lease that he could barely afford on his own? Where does Chanyeol’s happiness factor into the grand scheme of his life as Junha’s father? Where does he try to find the balance?

“I won!” Junha says definitively.

Baekhyun sighs and throws down his remaining card in defeat

“You did. You won fair and square. I’ve lost to someone 1/3 my size.”

“I won a third’a’size Dad!” Junha says leaping to his feet to dash across the living room.

Baekhyun meanwhile gathers the cards to shuffle, setting them down in a neat stack before him. He stretches on a long yawn and Chanyeol scoops Junha up into his arms.

“Baekhyun looks tired.” He says to Junha as he brushes soft dark bangs from the child’s forehead to kiss him.

“Baek’eon is ready’a night night Dad.” Junha whispers joyfully, fighting a yawn himself.

“Let’s get you in the bath little man.” Chanyeol announces, standing to his feet still cradling Junha.

He sends a wink down to Baekhyun as he passes and the man sleepily grins, rolling into the side of the couch in response. It wasn’t meant to be sexual, it was such a simple movement but the edge of the soft cotton shirt he’s wearing rides up slightly with his arms lifted to expose the softest pale stomach. Chanyeol’s mouth falls open slightly as he watches and his brow quirks. Junha is singing his bathtime song at full volume when Baekhyun opens his eyes and notices Chanyeol standing there like an idiot staring at his stomach.

The man grins with his full face, cheeks turning red and he grabs a pillow and tosses it at Chanyeol playfully.

“Bathtime for Junha, remember?” He says.

“Bath Bath Baaaaath!” Junha sings shrill in Chanyeol’s ear and he clears his throat and tosses the pillow back to Baekhyun.

He could have sworn though that Baekhyun was biting his lip as he grinned up at him. Regardless of whether he was or not, it didn’t really matter much anymore because the image was burned into Chanyeol’s brain and he’d definitely be calling upon that image again later that night. And possibly the rest of his life. He carries Junha to the bath and soon he’s engaged in Junha’s singing and bath ritual so he takes the time to further prepare the little one.

“Tomorrow, Baekhyun is going to do this with you.” Chanyeol says.

Junha glares at his father and slaps the surface of the water with a sailboat toy.

“I don’ like that.” He simply says.


“I want nanny Lisa back.” He simply says.

Chanyeol feels the words stab into his chest and he offers a softer smile. This really can’t be easy for him… He’s so young and he lacks consistency when he has the spinning wheel of nannies coming in and out.

“Nanny Lisa? You want her to stop her greatest and biggest and bestest adventure she’s ever had?” He says with mock shock in his tone and expression.

“Bes’ A’venture?” Junha asks.

The small one splashes less aggressively in the tub, pretending he’s not interested but secretly focusing everything on his Dad’s next words.

“I guess I can tell her you want her to come back but she’s going to be so sad to have to quit her bestest best adventure.” Chanyeol goes on, reaching over to grab shampoo and lather it between his hands before softly massaging his son’s hair in a soothing motion bound to make him sleepier.

“Wha’s a be’tist bes’ a’venture is Nanny Lisa goin’?” He asks.

“Well, Nanny Lisa is going on an airplane adventure.” Chanyeol says.

Junha’s shoulders still.

“Airplane?” He asks excitedly.

“Yep. Then she’s going on the fastest bullet train in Japan and she’s going to ride that Shinkansen to a new job where she gets to learn to become one of the smartest people in the world like Tony Stark Ironman!”

Junha’s mouth opens as his Dad pours water over his head, cupping his forehead to keep soap from his eyes.

“Yep!” Chanyeol says in confirmation of Junha’s shock.


“Just like Ironman.” Chanyeol agrees.

Junha looks excitedly at Chanyeol, eyes sparkling.

“She’s is meet an Ironman?” He asks standing up suddenly.

Chanyeol catches his son under one arm to steady him as water sloshes and takes the moment to quickly scoop him up into a towel.

“Well… If she stays and she works really really hard… She might get to meet Ironman. But since you want her to come here… she won’t meet him I don’t think… I don’t know.”

Junha looks very seriously at his father as he’s carried to his room.

“If Nanny Lisa is meet a Ironman then Junha is can meet Ironman?” He asks.

Chanyeol sets him down in bed and pretends to contemplate this.

“You know what…. You’re right… Maybe she could introduce you to Tony Stark if she meets him.”

Junha stops asking about Nanny Lisa and lays in bed very still after putting his pajamas on. Chanyeol kisses his forehead and asks him if he still wants him to call Lisa but he shakes his head and turns away. Chuckling to himself, he walks to the doorway and watches his son a moment longer.

“Love you Junha.” He says.

“Lov’ou.” He replies quietly.

Chanyeol turns out the lights, making sure the nightlights are all on before he closes the door and walks back down the hall. He’s expecting Baekhyun to somehow still be on the couch when he approaches but he’s not. Which makes sense. Why would he still be there, leisurely sprawled out for Chanyeol to feast upon with his lecherous gaze. He walks to the door under the pretense of knocking to make sure that Baekhyun wasn’t uncomfortable with his inappropriate staring earlier. Of course, that wasn’t really it. What he really wanted was… What he needed from Baekhyun was… He rests his head on his forearm, braced against the molding on the doorway to Baekhyun’s room. He steps back resolved to walk away and takes a deep breath. He’s gotta get a grip. He can’t be doing this right now, it’s irresponsible. He’s thinking with his dick. But then again… Baekhyun had looked incredibly flirty throwing that pillow with a grin on his face. It wasn’t uncomfortable… it felt… good and encouraging. Chanyeol reaches for the door knob again but stops in midair. But he threw something at Chanyeol. There’s a power dynamic here swayed towards him being the person housing him and employing him. This is wrong. He just saw how sad Junha was about Lisa leaving. He doesn’t want to throw away Baekhyun’s trust and him dip out immediately, adding to a list of names of people who parted too soon in Junha’s world. Thinking of Junha he reclaims the composure to pull his hand back.

He turns back towards his room and walks a few steps before realizing Baekhyun is standing in the doorway to the kitchen watching him intently with a glass of water in his hands.

“You…” Chanyeol swallows hard. “You saw that.” He says matter of factly.

“I did, yeah. I watched the whole thing from the time you passed the kitchen.” He says with a grin.

“I was…” He falters walking towards Baekhyun. “I was going to apologize.”

Baekhyun nods his head and finishes his cup of water in one gulp before turning and walking back into the kitchen. Chanyeol blows out a slow breath in defeat and rushes to the kitchen to talk to Baekhyun and try to fix things. When he gets there Baekhyun looks at Chanyeol over his shoulder and then slowly picks up the hem of his shirt, lifting it up and setting it down above the dip of his jeans, successfully bringing all of the attention to his perfect pert ass. Chanyeol gulps audibly and his browns lift, his mouth feeling suddenly dry. Chanyeol starts to speak right as Baekhyun turns on the faucet.

“Baekhyun I—“

Baekhyun turns off the faucet and slowly looks over his shoulder at Chanyeol.

“Sorry, what did you say? I couldn’t hear you.”

Chanyeol starts to speak again and Baekhyun turns on the water again and smirks. Chanyeol wipes at his forehead feeling sweat suddenly beading as his eyes flick between Baekhyun’s coy smile and his inviting ass. He takes a step closer and Baekhyun smiles, looking away to sip at the tiny bit of water.


Baekhyun turns the faucet back on again. It almost appears like he’s pushing his hips back off of the counter, but this could still be more of his fantasizing. This could all just be harmless and Chanyeol is reading way too much into it. But he steps closer still and Baekhyun turns the faucet back off. He tries one more time to speak but Baekhyun stops him again. There’s no way that Baekhyun can’t hear him over the water… this is just a silly game, he tells himself as he steps up to the sink behind Baekhyun. He stands directly behind the man, their bodies not touching and he’s momentarily caught off guard by how much shorter he is, and how pretty the back of his neck looks. It urges his thoughts to places he shouldn’t be going but he wants this… right? This all feels so… intentional…? He wants to ask him if this is real, if he’s imagining this, if he’s in a blissed out daydream in the shower or if he’s actually here in front of him.

He leans in slightly towards Baekhyun and starts to speak and Baekhyun turns on the water again.

“Sorry… Still nothing… You might need to get a bit closer.” Baekhyun whispers.

Chanyeol gulps, mouth falling open. That definitely feels like an invitation. He steps up so that Baekhyun’s ass presses up against the now-slightly aroused place in his pants. Baekhyun’s shoulders jolt and he turns his head slightly towards Chanyeol.

“What were you saying?” He asks.

Chanyeol places his hands on either side of Baekhyun on the counter, entrapping him and he leans his face in flush to Baekhyun’s ear, breathing in slowly. Baekhyun softly moans and pushes his ass back into Chanyeol. He hisses in response to the movement.

“Tell me Chanyeol… what were you going to say when you came to my room?”

“I…” He pants and nussels his nose against the soft hair at his ear. “I was going to…”

Baekhyun makes another soft moaning sound, reaching one hand up to entwine around Chanyeol’s neck behind him, stroking the hair gently as he softly rides Chanyeol’s growing erection.

“I… I was…”

Baekhyun looks over his shoulder at Chanyeol again, their faces so close and he grins like he can tell the man behind him is about to come just from the proximity at this point. Chanyeol swallows hard and regains some semblance of composure and reaches for Baekhyun’s hips and spins him around. Face to face, he looks down at the slight surprise traveling Baekhyun’s expression as it changes to delight and then he lifts him up onto the counter. Baekhyun’s thighs instinctively part wide to allow Chanyeol to return and he can see the outline of the man’s erection in his own pants.

“f*ck.” Chanyeol breathes as he reaches forward and places his hands on Baekhyun’s hips.

“f*ck? You were coming to… f*ck?” Baekhyun asks, voice deep and aroused.

“Yes. No. Not… Not to… I wanted to apologize… I was… I looked at you like… I wanted to… and…”

“Like you wanted to… f*ck…?” Baekhyun clarifies.

Chanyeol’s hands travel up to Baekhyun’s soft waist, fingertips gracing his bare skin and his breath shutters.

“Yes…” He pants. “No… No, to apologize… for…” His hands tremble slightly as they hold him in place. “for… looking at you… looking at you looking so… like…”

“Like you wanted to f*ck?” He finishes.

Chanyeol’s brows knit at the way the words fall from his mouth. A whisper, an assurance, a method of pure torture holding him on the edge.

“Yes.” Chanyeol says desperately, rocking up against the counter.

Baekhyun grins, closing the distance between their faces in a painfully slow motion until his nose dots Chanyeol’s faintly. They share breath there for a second in the tantalizing space of whispers of heat against parted lips. Chanyeol’s face is frozen in place but his body is too wound up to stop. His hands stroke up Baekhyun’s sides and he moans at the feel of the man’s masculine body in his palms, reaching effortlessly to swipe his thumbs over the man’s nipples. Baekhyun’s head falls back, nearly missing the cabinet behind his head which he leans against, looking at Chanyeol feverishly on a soft quiet groan of pleasure. He reaches down hooks a finger in his shirt and slowly lifts it higher to expose his puckered pert nipples.

“Again.” He mews, his eyes half hooded, lifting one knee up and holding himself steady by hooking a hand onto the bottom of the floating cabinet.

“f*ck.” Chanyeol wimpers, sweating profusely, his co*ck straining for a release that seems so close now.

He doesn’t hesitate in dropping his hands from Baekhyun’s sides and starts to lower his mouth towards one nipple while the other lifts the shirt higher. Baekhyun lets go of the shirt with a small chuckle and hisses in anticipation, hand reaching for the back of Chanyeol’s head and burying in his dark hair.

Suddenly, they hear a door click open and they freeze, Chanyeol in midair, close enough to smell the man’s sweat at this distance mixed with deodorant. Baekhyun grins and touches Chanyeol’s shoulders lightly to put space between them and the man unwillingly steps back.

“See you in the morning.” He says and hops down to race to his room with bright red cheeks.

Chanyeol swears under his breath and adjusts himself, pulling his shirt free and covering up his raging erection with an embarrassed grin of his own before rounding the corner in time to see Junha feeling his way down the hallway with one hand to the hall to steady himself.

“Junha, what are you doing awake buddy?” He asks.

The boy yawns and mumbles “Wa’er.”

“You know you can’t have water before bed unless you’re going to wake up and go big boy potty when you need to go. Can you do that?” He asks.

“I can.” The boy responds.

Chanyeol fumbles around for a sec and grabs the glass Baekhyun was drinking from and starts to fill it and stops. The once ordinary glass is somehow strangely tainted by the sexual interaction in the kitchen and he sets it down. No, the sex glass needs to stay where it is. He hurriedly opens the cabinets and grabs the first plastic kids cup he sees and fills it with water for his son before walking him to bed. Junha is already half asleep again when he crawls in bed, slumping forward and allowing his dad to cover him up. Chanyeol watches him just a moment longer before closing the door and racing to his own room. His mind is still buzzing, his heart is still racing. He’s heard parents talk about almost being caught at parent-teacher events and in the pickup line at school but he’s never had it happen to him before. It was terrifying and maddening and… he thinks about Baekhyun and knocks his head back against the door, reaching behind himself to lock it. He walks to his bedside and turns on the white noise machine, slumping to the floor in front of his bed as his chest starts to rise again with excitement.

Had that actually just happened?

How is it that he’d just had the single hottest sexual experience of his life without kissing or touching dicks? How does Baekhyun make him feel this way? Can this happen again? He can almost still feel Baekhyun’s fingers in his hair and he pants on a softly hidden moan. God he wanted to do everything to that man. He wanted to do everything and have everything done to him. He yanks off his shirt and unbuckles his pants in practiced swiftness and reaches up and pulls open his side table. He grabs the bottle of lube and palms his aching erection, breath coming quickly now. He strokes himself to the memory of the man on the couch, shirt lifted with that coy smile… he trembles when he remembers the feel of the man’s ass coming hard against him and he whimpers to himself. “Yes, f*ck…” He thinks of the way the man had said one single word “again”, and he’s rocking into himself feeling the tension building. His leg twitches as he remembers the way the way said the word “f*ck” like it was a promise, falling from his lips over and over unafraid and teasing. “Please… yes…” He says, arching forward as he thinks of Baekhyun’s moan, his head falling back. The man was pure p*rnography when he wanted to put his mind to it. Chanyeol’s mind flashes the last moment back again, his legs wide, one knee up, holding him anchored to the counter with one hand behind him to stabilize him in place. His fingers traveling down the length of his chest slowly to hook under the shirt and slowly lift it again while his feverish face with that needy expression held him hostage. Chanyeol comes, rocking his hips into his fist and gasping on one last “f*ck…”

What the hell was he going to do now?

This definitely felt like a reciprocation of feelings now but that still doesn’t stop how much it feels unfair to Junha in the process.

It took less than 3 minutes for Baekhyun to screw everything up.

Junha was safely in Baekhyun’s custody for less than 3 minutes before he royally and completely screwed it all up. But he was sure that the little gremlin had spent the entire day plotting how to ruin everything. First of all, he acted like a perfect little prince when Junmyeon dropped him off at the designated meeting spot. He was courteous and immediately took Baekhyun’s hand and stood patiently while Baekhyun and Junmyeon talked about emergency numbers and to call if anything happened. But the moment Junmyeon was in his car and had pulled out of site, Junha snatched his hand free and took off in a dead sprint down the road like a tiny Olympian. It was all so startling that Baekhyun didn’t even fully understand what had happened for the first 5 seconds. He just looked to his hand and then turned around in a panic. He was sure he’d see someone carting the kid off like a ransom bag thrown over his shoulder but instead he just saw Junha cackling like an animated villain dodging between adults like a puma on the hunt.

“JUNHA!” He shrieked and took off after the kid in an immediate panic.

He started to shake with histerics as he raced through people apologizing and calling out to the child while mumbling “sh*t! sh*t! sh*t! It’s not even an hours and I’m f*cked! sh*t! sh*t!” under his breath and swatting tears.

It took a few blocks before an older lady looked up at the commotion and realized what was happening. She caught Junha as he shrieked past her and immediately put him on one hip. Baekhyun stumbled to a stop and doubled over out of breath and placed a hand to his side as he started towards the two of them.

“What are you doing young sir?” She asks.

Junha puts on his best innocent expression and shrugs his shoulders. “Play tag?”

The lady is unwavering in her stern face and Baekhyun is thankful someone can see through his act.

“This is a street.” She says seriously. “We don’t play in the street. You could hurt someone or you could get hurt or you can cause an accident and many people including you could get hurt. You play in playgrounds.” She chides.

Junha seems slightly irritated his cuteness didn’t work on her but he nods his head.

Baekhyun arrives at their side wiping tears from his face and panting like he’d been racing a train instead of chasing a toddler. He apologizes profusely over and over, punctuated with gratitude and promises it will never happen again but the lady waves it off.

“I had 3 boys in my time.” She says patiently. “They can be a hand-full but they are worth it. You must be a new parent to the whole school thing. They adjust in time and so will you.” She says stroking the boy’s hair lovingly.

Apparently she isn’t entirely immune to his charm afterall.

“Now, stay close and hold hands.” She says to Junha as Baekhyun reaches for the child.

Junha clutches the lady tighter and pulls away from Baekhyun.

“No go home!” He yells.

Baekhyun apologizes again and the woman starts to rock him on her hip in a soft swinging motion.

“What if I give you a coupon for a candy bar?” She asks.

Junha looks up with interest at the mention of candy and Baekhyun sighs in exasperation.

“Can’y bar?” He asks.

“Yep! A candy bar. I have this coupon here, but it expires today!” She says, reaching in her pocket and pulling out a few coupons. She sorts until she finds the right one and holds it out to Junha to show him to the picture on the front.

“Wha’s is a cou-pond?” Junha asks.

The woman smiles gleefully and pets his head again.

“A coupon is a magic paper that gives you things you like for less money!” She says.

Junha looks very interested in the paper, checking the woman to make sure she’s not teasing him and then looking back at the paper with the picture of the candy bar on it. Then he does the most surprising thing and looks to Baekhyun for approval. Startled and a little unsure why it was happening, Baekhyun gives an encouraging nod of the head and Junha reluctantly takes the paper.

“There you go, sweetie. But you must do two things for me. You must not run around on the streets anymore and you must always hold hands with adults on the street from now on.” She says.

“Why I need’a hold’a hand?” Junha asks.

“Because it’s safer.” She commands, returning some sternness to her tone.

He looks at Baekhyun and then nods his head, reaching for him. Baekhyun takes the child into his arms and carries him down the street silently. They stop at the closest convenience store to the apartment and go in so Junha can choose his candy bar. He doesn’t need much time. He grabs the milk chocolate with M&M minis candybar and walks to the counter. Baekhyun forks over money and Junha hands over the coupon. Before the clerk can give Baekhyun change, Junha pulls Baekhyun’s pant sleeve and looks up pleading.

“Hold on, hold on” He says and grabs the candy from the counter and hands it over before reaching his hand back out to the cashier.

Junha uses that split second and dashes from the convenience store with the candy bar in hand. Baekhyun shrieks and fumbles trying to collect change, dropping coins on the counter and yelling “Keep it! Keep it!” and bolting out the door. He watches Junha leap up the stairs to the front of their building and run inside and growls. At least the kid is home but this… this is too much. He’s going to have to leash the kid at this rate like an over excitable golden retriever who tries to chase every squirrel and car it sees.

“Junha!” He yelps as he bursts through the doors the apartment lobby like he’s just been run over by a truck.

Junha is sitting on the counter with the doorman.

“Junha, who’s this? You know him?” The man asks.

The boy shakes his head no and shrugs.

“Junha! No! I live here!!” Baekhyun scrambles.

The doorman puts a hand up in warning between Baekhyun and the child to keep space.

“Seriously! I’m the new nanny! I live with Junha and his Dad!” Baekhyun says, reaching into his pocket and scrambling for the housekey to hand it over.

The doorman looks to Junha who shrugs again and opens the candy bar.

“Hang tight there, bud.” The man says.

Though the word “bud” didn’t seem like a friendly abbreviation for buddy at all. It just felt aggressive in this context. The doorman places a call and scratches down some notes on a notepad.

“Hello there Mr.Park.” The man says and Baekhyun looks to Junha with exasperation.

“Tell him you know me!” He hisses.

The boy simply bites another huge chunk of candy bar. The doorman is still on the phone and snaps his fingers at Baekhyun to get him to stop talking to the kid and for a second, he considers just leaving. Junha wins and he just cuts his losses. But he doesn’t have anywhere else to go and at the end of the day… he kind of wants to prove himself wrong. He kind of wants to prove wrong the part of himself that says he can’t do this. And more importantly prove right the part of Chanyeol that believes he CAN do this.

“Okay, and what’s the new nanny’s name?” The man asks eying up Baekhyun again.

Baekhyun reaches into his back pocket and fetches his wallet again, pulling his ID free immediately.

“Sorry again to disturb you at work sir. Yes sir. Thank you sir. Good night.” He says and hangs up finally. Instead of turning to Baekhyun to apologize, he turns to Junha and reassures him tenderly. “Okay, I just spoke to your Dad and he says you do have a many now.”

Baekhyun hands over his ID and the doorman seems to make a great show of authenticating the ID like Baekhyun was a 12 year old with a fake trying to purchase a 6 pack. He bends the card and holds it to the light in inspection before turning it back over to Baekhyun. He stashes it back and watches the doorman lift Junha up and place him back safely on the ground and then escort him to the elevator. Baekhyun felt this was all entirely unnecessary and honestly, just another thing he was going to have to explain to Chanyeol when he told him why this wasn’t going to work. Baekhyun’s brand new shiny phone buzzes in his pocket as they step onto the elevator but he waits until the doors close to pull it out and look at it. A text from Chanyeol. Of course. Simply reading “Sorry.”

“What does that mean?” He mumbles to himself. When the elevator doors open, Junha races down the hall at light speed and Baekhyun walks tiredly behind him at a crawl. Once safely in the house at last, Baekhyun latches all of the locks closed. Junha kicks one shoe off and it slaps Baekhyun in the back of the leg.

When he looks down at the little hellion the kid simply says “Oops.”

Baekhyun doesn’t even have energy to respond at this point so he simply turns back around to finish unlacing his boots and slides them off. He walks into the living room and faceplants on the couch wondering if Chanyeol meant he was sorry that he thought this was a good idea or sorry that Baekhyun was so bad at it or sorry that Junha was a literal rule-less lost boy causing mayhem every few minutes. Junha jumps around for a bit and then rushes over to where Baekhyun is laying to poke the back of his head incessantly and then starts chirping the word “snack” over and over in a sing song voice.

“You had a candy bar.” Baekhyun says, voice muffled into the cushion he was face down in.

“Can’y bar? Can’y bar…. I no have a can’y bar!” Junha sings.

“Junha… you quite literally just ate a whole candy bar.” He says, face still planted firmly in place.

“No! Snack! Snack! Snack!” Junha sings louder and louder.

Baekhyun starts to laugh hysterically and finally comes up for air.

“Why are you like this today?” He asks.

Junha looks questioningly at Baekhyun’s smile and then steps aside when Baekhyun goes into the kitchen.

“Your dad said you have a snack tray already ready. So you know what? I’m going to give you the whole tray like you want.” He says.

Junha follows him into the kitchen and watches him pull the tray out and place it into Junha’s hands. The plastic tray had string cheese, juice boxes and little boxes of raisins. He wasn’t sure if Junha would accept this offering but of course he did immediately and ran off with it while Baekhyun tried to regroup. He watches the boy climb onto a chair and sit down with the tray and pick through it happily while singing a new song he can’t make out. His phone rings and he already knows it must be Chanyeol because who else would have his number?

With a dreadful sigh, he clicks the green answer button and braces for impact.


“Hey, Baekhyun. How’s it going?”

Baekhyun is slightly confused by the question and hesitates.

“That was absolutely my fault. I should have let the staff in the building know you’re the new nanny so they didn’t detain you like that!”

Baekhyun swallows a lump in his throat and almost blurts out the truth. But Chanyeol still has work. So he laughs it off.

“No, totally understandable. It’s nice to have that safe guard in place. Nobody is sneaking into our building!” He says with a small forced laugh.

“Yeah, exactly… It’s so nice to finally hear you calling itourbuilding. Is it starting to feel that way? Are you comfortable? Is there anything you need to make it more comfortable?”

Baekhyun covers his eyes with the palm of his hand. He couldn’t be more comfortable. He loves his room. It’s nicer than any hotel room he’s ever been to and the views, the location… it’s all perfect. And then there’s Chanyeol which… is so… different than anything he’s ever experienced before. Chanyeol is first class airfare. He’s the service with a smile and endless menu available 24/7. He never understood the whole romance thing before and he was sure that was the product of being a queer youth in the pride community thing. He was sure that romance was off the table because it just never fit. But now he’s starting to realize that maybe romance is real because here’s this gorgeous man who has his sh*t together and he very clearly wants Baekhyun for whatever reason and he absolutely dotes on him whenever he’s given the opportunity.

“Chanyeol, I’m fine.” He says. “You’re literally calling me on a cellphone you bought me as I stand in your home I’m staying in rent free. And full disclosure, I’m about to eat the food you bought in the next few minutes. You have literally taken care of everything a human being needs to survive shelter, safety, food. I am fine.”

The man on the other end hums lightly.

“But I want more.” He says.

Baekhyun clutches the phone tighter in his hands and looks around nervously as if someone might over hear their silent conversation. He doesn’t see Junha where he left him so he peaks around the corner to put eyes on the kid. Junha is laying on his back making snow angels in the carpet while singing to himself, possibly riding out the beginnings of a sugar high.

“I actually wanted to say that if I was out of line last night—”

“No, not—I mean yes that too but—what I mean is um…” Chanyeol is flustered and cute on the other end of the line and Baekhyun’s cheeks pull into a grin.

He leans back against the door frame, straddling the entrance the the kitchen.

“You weren’t out of line yesterday.” He says simply. “But you don’t have to do that kind of thing to be at the apartment. You don’t need to do anything for me or… anything… But I… I want to do more for you.”

“Chanyeol, you couldn’t possibly do more.” Baekhyun says.

Junha looks over and sees Baekhyun watching him and turns onto his side away from the man.

“I just mean, I want you to be comfortable. Do you… need a diffuser for the room? Candles? Organizational crates to organize? Books or music or… anything at all…”

Baekhyun closes his eyes and takes in a deep breath.

“Thank you.” He whispers.

Chanyeol doesn’t answer for a long moment.

“I’m so happy you’re here with us at our home. I really like having you around.” He finally says with a note of seriousness.

Baekhyun opens his eyes in time to see the little hellion scamper to his feet.

“I’m going to try to do my best here, Chanyeol. I promise.”

Chanyeol laughs lightly in response and Baekhyun grins too with a shake of the head.

“Anyway um… let me get back to trying to figure out how to take care of your child. There weren’t any special instructions right? Don’t add water or feed after midnight or anything? Don’t roll the dice or you’ve started the game and once you start you can’t stop kind of thing?”

Chanyeol’s laughter grows.

“Did you just ask if Junha is like a Gremlin or the game of Jumanji?”

Baekhyun’s lips pull into a line and then he shrugs, knowing Chanyeol can’t see it.

“Yeah. I definitely did.”

“I love it. No, he is neither. I promise, it gets easier.” He says.

There’s a strange battle for control happening between Baekhyun and the kid and he’s not winning right now but… somehow he’s going to change that.

“I can’t wait to see you later.” Chanyeol says in a rush.

It felt like a star burst into pieces in Baekhyun’s chest. It feels like a floodgate opening as a crash of sudden heat floods through him. Giddy and excited and nervous and a little scared.

“Same.” He simply replies.

More determined than ever when they hang up, Baekhyun storms into the living room where Junha is caught standing on the back of the couch looking as though he was about to leap onto a cushion.

“What are you doing back there?” He asks.

Junha ignores him and jumps into an admittedly impressive ninja roll onto the couch.

“Okay little Ninja. Let’s talk dinner.”

Junha looks up at Baekhyun I surprise.


Baekhyun shakes his head.

“Nope. No more snack. You have to have dinner and if you have more snack, you won’t eat dinner. But… I’m going to let you choose dinner.”

Junha face plants in the pillow and starts to literally scream at the top of his lungs.


Baekhyun walks over and tries to lift up his arm but he pulls away.

“Junha, that’s not going to work.” He says calmly. “We’re not doing snacks.”

Junha starts to actually cry at this point and hits the cushions with his tiny fists.

“I don’t wanna have a Baek’eon! I wanna have Dad!” The kid screams.

Baekhyun tries to rub the kids back but he gets swatted away and told not to touch him. Baekhyun sighs and sits on the edge of the couch and respects Junha’s wish. Baekhyun thinks back to his parents and how they always just spanked him. He was always being punished for everything. But he remembers how it felt when his aunt would watch him. She would always talk to him and he always really liked that about her. So he just stays with Junha while he cries.

“Go away!”

Baekhyun stands his ground.

“Junha, I’m not going to go away. I’m just going to wait for you to get yourself together.” He says.

Junha finally gets up and runs towards the bedroom. Baekhyun slowly follows but when he gets to Junha’s room, the child is nowhere to be found. He moves to Chanyeol’s room and finds the little on climbing up onto a partially made bed.

“Go away!” Junha yells again.

Baekhyun eyes the top of bottle peaking out of the side table and walks over. He grins to himself and closes the drawer, pleased that both he and Chanyeol had done the same thing last night after their kitchen meeting. Baekhyun sits on Chanyeol’s side of the bed where the sheets are unmade and Junha climbs across the king sized bed to push at him.

“Go Away! Go away! Go away!” He screams.

“Okay, how about this. I will go away until you calm down. But you have to leave the door open.”


“Then I have to stay here. Your choice!”

“No choice! Go away and go away!” Junha yells, crying still with snot running down his face.

“Junha this isn’t something to cry about. I’m going to stay here with you or I can leave and leave the door open.”

Junha kicks his feet up, working himself up more and more. His little face is turning red and he’s spinning around and flailing in a full meltdown at this point but he has to let it go. He can’t regain control of the kid by losing his cool. He takes deep steadied breaths and then gets to his feet.

“Do you want to try to leave the door open?”

Junha screams in obvious protest though it’s unintelligible.

“Okay let’s try.”

Baekhyun gets up and walks away and Junha is scrambling behind him to try to close the door. Baekhyun stands in the doorway preventing the door from being closed with his whole body and Junha hits Baekhyun’s leg over and over and tries to close the door on Baekhyun, whacking him over and over with the door.

“Junha, we’re not doing this. Stop hitting me with the door please.” He says. “Stop hitting me please.”

Junha falls to the ground and starts kicking, sprawling out and rolling around by the door. Baekhyun tries again to open the door and leave and the kid takes that moment to try to close the door and Baekhyun stops him. They do this for another 30 minutes or so until Junha is obviously exhausted. Baekhyun walks away from the door and Junha stays on the floor without closing it, simply crying at this point. Baekhyun allows it and continues to walk away giving him space. He gets to the bath room door and sits down, giving them plenty of space. He’s fairly certain this isn’t typical behavior when Chanyeol was around but… a part of him understands. He can imagine acting out much the same way if someone was standing between himself and time with Chanyeol. And Chanyeol is his dad. After a few minutes, the crying softens. Though Junha is still worked up, he’s starting to cool off. Baekhyun goes into the bathroom and starts peeking through cabinets. This bathroom is different from his own. This is mostly Junha’s bath room he realizes fairly quickly as he looks around. There are extra tooth brushes with characters on them and extra toothpastes in flavors like grape mint. The towels are all pristinely folded with various kids animated series themes, animals, fruits and various automobiles on them. The décor is tastefully colorful, striking a balance between beach chic and pastel in a masculine way with subdued mod colors and navy blues which is a departure from the rest of the apartment. There is a door to the room with the shower and bath tub and the bathroom has a netted hammock holding bath toys suspended between two corner walls. He hums to himself in thought and grabs a baby blue and white striped wash cloth and soaks it with cold water before wringing it out.

Quiet as he can, he tiptoes to the end of the hall and gets to the ground next to Junha. He’s not crying anymore but he’s still making worked up fussy sounds. Baekhyun reaches forward and brushes a sweaty strand of hair from his forehead. Junha swats at Baekhyun’s hand but he persists, next reaching with the cloth to wipe the sweat from his forehead. At first he protests but slowly he stops resisting. Baekhyun strokes the top of his head next, then he takes one hand in his and wipes the hand and arm. When he reaches for the other hand, Junha finally turns back towards him and lets him wipe his hand and arm carefully. They avoid eye contact with one another and Baekhyun doesn’t push it. He reaches for Junha’s face and gently wipes his cheeks, his chin, his forehead over and over. When Junha closes his eyes, he swipes over the little spaces above his lashes in soft pets before he gets to the nose. Folding the rag over after wiping the snot away Baekhyun strokes over his button nose a few more times for good measure. When he’s done, Junha opens his eyes again but he still doesn’t look at Baekhyun. He looks to the floor and stays quiet. Baekhyun reaches forward and strokes his hand over Junha’s hair in a soft caress once before getting to his feet and leaving the kid once more. He goes to the sink to wash the cloth out and wrings it to dry on the faucet.

The rest of the night isn’t nearly as dramatic. Junha eventually emerged from his Father’s room and peeked around the corner into the living room where Baekhyun was reading a news article on his phone. He waved Junha over but he sat on the furthest point away from Baekhyun on the couch.

“Is pizza for dinner okay?” Baekhyun asked.

Junha shrugged his shoulder and kicked his feet a few times.

“Okay, I ordered pizza. Cheese is okay?”

“Okay.” Junha responded.

He started to quietly play with his toys on his own in the same room until dinner where he ate 2 slices on his own. Baekhyun cleaned up after dinner and told him it was bath time which met some protect but he carried on, going to the bathroom and putting the stopper in before pressing the button to start the bath water. Baekhyun came and reached for Junha’s hand and he reluctantly took it, giving a giant yawn. He was fairly certain Junha was too tired to fight tonight but he didn’t push it. He lathered up a wash cloth and handed it to the boy for him to wash off and Baekhyun tried to make silly faces to try to cheer the kid up but it didn’t seem to work. He scrubbed his back and hair and then rinsed him off with the detachable shower head before having him climb into the bath for a bit. He knew the hot water would relax his muscles and help him sail towards sleep. What he didn’t expect was for Junha to suddenly stand up to try to grab a toy. He wasn’t paying attention and Junha’s foot slipped causing him fall forward and clock his forehead on the tub. He immediately started to cry and Baekhyun started to panic.


He scrambles for a towel from the other room and scoops the little one from the tub, wrapping him up in the soft yellow lemon printed terrycloth.

“Oh my god, Junha, are you okay? Are you bleeding? Did you split your head? Hold on, let’s go look in the light!” He rushes with the little on in his arms to the kitchen and sets him on the island, wrapped up in the towel. “Let me look! Where does it hurt?”

Junha rubs a knot on his forehead and Baekhyun tenderly dabs at the edge causing Junha to start wailing louder again. Baekhyun starts to cry too and reaches forward and wraps his arms tightly around Junha.

“I’m so so sorry! I’m so sorry Junha! It must hurt so much! I should have be paying closer attention! I’m so sorry!” He cries rocking back and forth with the little one clutched tightly to his chest. “I don’t know what I’m doing and I just keep messing everything up today. I’m literally the worst babysitter ever and I just make you hurt and cry and can’t take care of you properly! I’m just going to get fired and I completely deserve it because I’m so freaking confused right now. And now you’re hurt… and it’s my fault, Junha… It’s my fault. I’m so so so sorry!”

Baekhyun reaches up to swat his tears away, still rocking Junha when he turns around and sees Chanyeol standing in the doorway to the kitchen. Baekhyun sniffles and then cries more when he sees the man but Chanyeol has the most neutral expression on his face bordering on a hint of a smile somehow.

“Why are you crying?” He asks.

“He’s crying because he got hurt. And it’s my fault. I’m terrible at this.” Baekhyun says.

Chanyeol looks to his son with a slow co*ck of his head and then back to Baekhyun again.

“Junha’s not crying.” He says.

Baekhyun pulls the little one back and looks at him and sure enough his little tear streaked cheeks are damp but his eyes are dry.

“Oh.” Baekhyun whispers, sniffling.

Chanyeol steps further into the room and drops a hand onto the top of Baekhyun’s hair to ruffle his hair before leaning in to kiss Junha’s cheek.

“You got hurt?” He asks.

Junha nods and points to the reddened bump on his head.

“What happened?”

Baekhyun bursts in talking again before Junha can speak. “It’s my fault. I was giving him a bath before bed and he got up to get a toy and I wasn’t paying attention and he fell,”

Chanyeol frowns at Junha.

“What’s the rule about standing in the tub?” He asks.

“Not s’pose to stan’ in a tub.” Junha replies.

“That’s right. Because you could fall down and hurt yourself and you stood up and what happened?” Chanyeol asks.

“Got hurt.” Junha says obediently.

Baekhyun sniffles again and Chanyeol reaches forward and wipes away Baekhyun’s tears. Junha was right there and watching but he doesn’t seem to care.

“And you made Baekhyunnie cry.”

“Baek’eon is cry because I got hurt?” He asks.

Chanyeol nods his head and Junha looks at Baekhyun with a curious expression.

“Why you is crying?” He asks.

“Because you got hurt. And I was so bad at it.” He replies truthfully.

“Baekhyun is going to get you ice and I’m going to take you and get you in pajama. Okay?” Chanyeol says reaching for the little one.

Junha doesn’t hesitate at all to climb over to his Dad and Baekhyun allows it. Chanyeol reaches over and pulls Baekhyun in by the shoulder to hold to his chest.

“He’s going to be fine. It’s not that big of a bump, he didn’t seem to go under water, he’s still acting like himself… We’ll keep an eye out but he doesn’t seem concussed or anything. Cheer up.” He says.

“You sure?”

Chanyeol laughs lightly.

“Bring some children’s aspirin too just in case.”

He steps from the room and starts to talk to Junha immediately about how big he is as if nothing was wrong with the scene he walked in on. Baekhyun tries to steady his breathing and takes a moment on his own to process the feelings that just stirred. He can’t remember the last time he was that scared for another person’s life. All he could think of was every TV drama and movie he’s ever seen of someone getting a concussion, someone getting a head wound and ending up flatlined. He doesn’t even like the kid but he couldn’t stop holding him closer, couldn’t stop shaking thinking of something being wrong with him. Is he falling under some kind of spell in this apartment? What is it about the Parks that pull such deep emotions from him?

“Baekhyun, d’you find the children’s aspirin?”

He wipes his eyes with the palms of his hands and looks up at the light to keep fresh tears from brimming against a ragged lash line sore from his crying. Chanyeol had shown him the medicine cabinet before and he makes his way over the to grab the aspirin bottle with the animals printed on it and rush to Chanyeol’s side. When he gets to the bedroom Junha is laying in bed holding his head. Baekhyun looks at the bottle and starts to offer it when he realizes he doesn’t have ice or water. He starts to turn back but Chanyeol sees him and stops him.

“Baekhyun, come say good night to Junha and I’ll grab some ice.” He says calmly, hand softly to his shoulder as he passes.

“And water.” Baekhyun adds.

“It’s chewable. We try to steer clear of water right before bedtime.”

Baekhyun hesitates in the doorway after Chanyeol leaves and Junha stares at him openly.

“Hi…” Baekhyun says.

“Hi.” Junha replies evenly, not letting any emotion into his voice.

Baekhyun walks slowly across the room, getting down in front of Junha with a plop.

“I’m sorry you got hurt.”

“Baek’eon did a cry because Junha is hurting?” He asks.

Baekhyun nods his head and reaches tentatively out to put his hand on Junha’s head.

“Why you cried?”

“Because I was sorry and I was scared. Because you were hurt and I was scared I couldn’t make it better and you were in pain.”

Junha touches the raised bump gingerly.

“It hurt but Junha is okay.” He says.

“You’re much stronger than me.” He resolves.

Chanyeol joins them and gets down to offer the cherry flavored chewable aspirin to Junha and a kids cotton covered ice pack for his head.

“Okay, it’s night night time little guy.”

“Daddy, Baek’eon is sad Junha is hurt.”

Chanyeol places the ice pack on Junha’s head.

“You’re okay, though. It’s just a little bump.”

“Little bump.” Junha says to Baekhyun.

He thanks him for the clarification and lets go of the top of his head to get to his feet.

“Good night Junha. Feel better.”

Junha watches Baekhyun until he gets to the door and Chanyeol laughs, playfully shooing him away so he can spend some time with his son. Baekhyun retreats to the safety of his own room in somber defeat of a first day and then collapses onto the bed to wither. It’s those big dark eyes. Both of them are guilty of it. Chanyeol has that impossible penetrating gaze and Junha’s is a colder version that is still somehow just as engaging. He wonders a moment if the eyes Junha uses on Baekhyun are the ones others see when they look at Chanyeol without the grace of his kindness. Junha has the same soft sweetness of Chanyeol but mixed with something a little more… cool. Perhaps that’s his mother in him. Baekhyun stares at the ceiling as he lets himself wonder again what kind of person she was. He tries to review each conversation and moment of the day to isolate what was like Chanyeol and what was like his biological mother. Is there a side of Chanyeol that has temper tantrums like Junha had or is that a characteristic of his mother? Is there a side of Chanyeol that is quick to anger and snap at someone or is that a characteristic of his mother? He’s not sure how long he’s swept up in that evaluation before he hears a knock at the door. He props up on his elbows and looks up as he calls that the door is unlocked.

“Hey, just checking in.” Chanyeol says.

Baekhyun throws his head back with a sigh.

“It was awful today. I was awful.”

Chanyeol enters the room, closing the door behind himself and locking it.

“I don’t think it was as bad as you think it was.”

“No, Chanyeol. It totally was. Your son ran off 2 separate times today and I was chasing him as he ran through town on his own. TWICE.”

Chanyeol sits on the edge of the bed and nods his head in understanding.

“So that sounds like a Junha problem he needs to correct. You couldn’t have known that.”

“Then he conned a little old lady out of a candy bar coupon, made me buy the candy and then ate the whole thing before I could catch him to tell him to slow down.”

“Yes well, the Gremlin comment from earlier is making a lot more sense.” Chanyeol says with a chuckle.

“Then we got home and he had a whole meltdown that lasted like an hour of screaming and crying and kicking and… it was a lot.”

Chanyeol starts to laugh and then covers his mouth with his hand when Baekhyun glares at him.

“Chanyeol, it’s not funny. It was terrible. Then the pizza was too hot and I burned the roof of my mouth. Junha got tomato sauce on the carpet and I had to spend 30 minutes in a panic cleaning that. Then I took him for a bath and concussed him and freaked out and then you came home from working all day and had to take over for me because I was having a breakdown holding your child in the kitchen like a crazy person. It was just… it was a mess all day.”

Chanyeol reaches for Baekhyun, his warm palm coming in against the entire side of Baekhyun’s cheek in a first soft press.

“Believe it or not… That’s not such a bad first day with Junha. You handled it all pretty well.”

Baekhyun looks into those dark round eyes for long enough that he almost loses his grip in reality again.

“So what I’m hearing is that your son is crazy difficult to handle and you just forgot to mention that?”

Chanyeol chuckles and lets his hand fall away.

“No, not at all. He’s actually a super easy kid. But the first few days with a new nanny… he… How can I phrase this…? He tests out the boundaries and limitations to see what will fly and what won’t.”

“He’s smart.”

“I’d like to think he gets that from me.”

Baekhyun blushes and looks away. After a second, he feels Chanyeol’s hand in his hair brushing bangs from his forehead. He looks over and finds the most mind-bogglingly confusing expression on Chanyeol’s face. Something between pain and irritation is marring his features as he looks down at Baekhyun.

“What are you thinking?” He asks, suddenly sitting up in bed.

“I’m thinking how much I wish I knew the answer to that question. What am I thinking and how can I stop it… How do I stop it…”

Baekhyun scoots over in bed and pats the space next to him so Chanyeol can lie down and the man obliges, turning towards him and resting his head against his palm.

“You can talk to me if you want.” Baekhyun offers.

Chanyeol reaches forward and traces the line of Baekhyun’s jaw in the softest touch to skin, moving his way from the hair at his ear to the tip of his chin. Baekhyun feels so seen in a way he’s not had before when it’s just the two of them like this. He feels all of Chanyeol’s attention on him and it’s powerful, it’s prolific, and it makes him feel that strange surge of confidence inside for no reason at all.

“Junha is very much like me but there’s a part of him that’s very much like his mother too.” Chanyeol says. “She was someone that… I fell in love with very quickly. I’d never been with anyone like her and she really changed a lot of things in my life irreversibly. Not necessarily in a bad way because she gave me Junha and I adore that kid. He’s my blood but he’s also my heart.”

Baekhyun nods his head eagerly to show he understood what he meant.

“Her name was Jung Sooyoun and she was radiant. She had these big eyes that snapped when she blinked like she was a toy or a robot. She didn’t look real. She had long hair, healthy and strong and she dressed to pure perfection. I’d never seen anyone so put together. And she liked me. I never would have gone for her because she’s nothing like my type but… She asked me out on a date and who the hell am I to turn her down? But she changed her mind about things often. And it wasn’t long before she changed her mind about me. And it wasn’t longer after that she changed her mind about being a mother.”

“How could she just… stop being a Mom?”

Chanyeol shakes his head.

“I don’t know that part, but she surely had her own reasons. But she just left and she didn’t come back. She had to have had some… kind of moment though, where she thought about staying… but… She left. She has reached out once. Not in any way that I could follow up but she sent a letter to me and told me she thinks of Junha often and she loves us both always in her own way but… You don’t leave someone you love the way she left us.”

Baekhyun’s hand slowly creeps forward towards Chanyeol’s and the man notices and laces their fingers together.

“But that’s also a trauma for me as much as it is for Junha. We’re both traumatized in different ways. I’m afraid things will fall apart. I lack courage to take what I want sometimes because I know that I get attached easily and that it will hurt that much more if someone leaves again without a word because they just changed their mind about me and Junha. It’s why I don’t date…”

Chanyeol’s eyes flicker over Baekhyun’s expression looking for a recoil or any sign that he’s bored or put out by the story but he keeps earnestly listening and nodding his head.

“Junha has never known a stable counterpart in my life as a result. He’s only ever known nannies and those tend to come and go. We’ve kept the same person for a year once but other than that. 9 months here or 3 months there… And it gets hard on him. He builds such a bond with his nannies and they start these lives together, bonded, and then the next thing you know, they’re leaving.”

Baekhyun is starting to understand some hesitation on Chanyeol’s side now.

“So you don’t sleep with them and make them fall in love and then dump them?” Baekhyun asks.

“I don’t and have not done any such thing, Baekhyun.” He chuckles, playfully kicking the man.

“You sure?” Baekhyun asks a bit more seriously.

Chanyeol searches his expression with fast moving eyes and clears his throat lightly.

“I typically don’t get to know the nannies that well at all. Let alone…” He swallows hard. “touch them.”

Baekhyun looks at their clasped hands.

“So what is this?” He asks, squeezing a bit.

Chanyeol sighs.

“I don’t know. I keep telling myself I won’t do anything but then I keep touching you again and again.”

Baekhyun yawns lightly without realizing it’s coming and Chanyeol stands up abruptly, pulling his hand free.

“I should go.” He says.

Baekhyun sits up and shakes his head.

“You don’t have to go yet.”

“No, I should. It’s late and you’ve had a long day.”

Baekhyun crawls off of the bed and walks him to the door, not ready to let him go.

“Thank you for coming to check on me and for talking to me and…” Baekhyun looks up at Chanyeol, stepping closer at the door. Chanyeol’s attention turns to him and he feels hunted by those eyes in the most delectable way.

“You’re welcome.” He breathes.

Baekhyun can feel the tension between them and watches as the man instinctively leans in closer. He tilts his jaw up and waits for Chanyeol’s kiss but it doesn’t come. He quickly realizes that the man is gearing up some payback for the teasing the night before. The bridge of his nose skims over Baekhyun’s cheek and he coos softly. Traveling to his jaw, Baekhyun tilts his head back to allow access and Chanyeol breathes in against the skin before letting out an appraising whisper of “Beautiful.” His hands find Baekhyun’s hips and he’s being hauled forward against the man. He reaches forward and pulls at Chanyeol’s shirt until it’s free and he can reach for the skin of the man’s hips and the heat is searing when he touches skin. Chanyeol’s mouth comes against Baekhyun’s throat but he doesn’t kiss him, simply nips his lips against the skin in a tantalizing pull on his senses.

“Chanyeol…” He whimpers.

“I’m trying so hard right now to hold back.”

“Why are you holding back?” Baekhyun pants.

Chanyeol doesn’t answer, simply reaching up under Baekhyun’s shirt to travel up the skin of his chest. Their noses meet and the foreheads come together and Baekhyun pants softly as Chanyeol finds his nipples and takes them between his fingertips.

“That’s perfect.” Baekhyun whines, arching up into the touch.

“You’re perfect.” Chanyeol replies and Baekhyun feels the delicious compliment in his bones.

Baekhyun’s legs are parted and he tugs on Chanyeol’s hips, stepping back against the wall and pulling Chanyeol between him. One thigh slides in place and Baekhyun uses the wall as leverage and push against Chanyeol’s hips and slowly grinds against him. The tall man hisses low and slow through his teeth and Baekhyun mews in appreciation.

“You’re already hard, Chanyeol.” Baekhyun whispers.

“I know.” He replies, finally letting himself kiss Baekhyun’s skin behind his ear in one soft peck.

“Another…” He pleads.

Chanyeol places another kiss to Baekhyun’s ear and he moves in more practiced arcs against Chanyeol, hips trying to entice him to push this further while his head was still not brave enough to ask what exactly their relationship is.

“Yesss.” He breathes in release at the kisses placed to secret places on his skin, places he can’t see when he looks in the mirror, places he hasn’t been touched in longer than he cares to admit.

“I… should stop.” Chanyeol says.

“Why?” Baekhyun asks in confusion.

Chanyeol’s brows are knitting together. Baekhyun can’t read his expression but he can tell the man is uncomfortable and conflicted.

“I just… I shouldn’t be doing this… It’s… It’s unprofessional…” He unlocks the door and steps back abruptly and they both look at one another, panting and flushed.

He wants to reassure Chanyeol that he doesn’t need anything from him and that he can stop whenever he wants but he also wants to let him know that when and if he decides he needs something more, he’s also willing and here. Baekhyun leans forward and grabs Chanyeol’s shirt, finger stroking along the silk blend. Chanyeol comes in close again and lets Baekhyun look him over, eyes moving over his mouth before returning to his eyes. Baekhyun softly gets to his tip toes and kisses Chanyeol’s cheek before letting him go.

“Good night.” Baekhyun says.

“Night.” He replies.

He’s reaching for Baekhyun’s cheek wordlessly and holding it cradled against his skin again for a moment before he smiles and leaves the room. Baekhyun walks to the bathroom and closes the door behind himself and rewrites the events of the night with a happy ending before crawling in bed for the night to start over again the next day.

Chanyeol grabs his Starbucks and shakes the cup around to disperse the ice around the remainder of his drink but there’s barely anything left except watered down coffee in his iced americano. He’s been in and out of meetings this morning, wishing he could just go home and spend more time laying in bed with Baekhyun talking. But he always ends up going too far. He can’t help it when Baekhyun is looking up at him with his beautiful downturned eyes. He just wants to hold onto him and drown in the soft sounds he makes when they’re alone together. He doesn’t seem bothered by Sooyoun and the story he weaved, he doesn’t seem upset that Chanyeol stopped things right when they were heating up. He just seems to go with the flow and that’s a little concerning too because he’s just not sure where Baekhyun stands or what he’s feeling in all of this. Which is why he’s having lunch with Junmyeon today.

Honestly, nobody knows Chanyeol like Junmyeon does and he would be the one to help him figure this all out. Chanyeol looks at his watch and shakes the ice around his cup a few more times before reaching for his phone to check the time. He sees a text message from Baekhyun and clicks on it. It’s a picture of a very badly done omlette with the caption: I can cook anything but I can’t cook an omlette which makes me feel like I can’t cook anything. He chuckles to himself pulling the straw in and out of the plastic lid a few times while he chews the green plastic until his secretary buzzes him letting him know his car has arrived. He tosses the cup in the trash and grabs his blazer off the rack on the wall and heads out.

“Mr. Park, the IRR model bug report is completed.”

“Great, I’m heading to lunch but you can send it over and I’ll check it when I’m back. Actually copy Minseok on it. Jaejoong too.”

“Mr. Park, the quarter rate card change proposal is out of SLA.”

“Pencil it with Yuri, I’ve got a car waiting. We’ll take a look tonight.”

Chanyeol marches through the grey walled hall, called down as he passed by open cubicles from all directions but he smiles and nods his head, answering each of the questions as he goes, trying to keep himself moving forward towards the elevator. Once he’s safely on the lift he slides on his Tom Ford jacket and straightens the lapels, feeling suddenly very excited to be going out with a friend. When he’s in the lobby he walks straight out the doors and hops into the familiar white Range rover. Junmyeon is sitting behind the wheel in a pair of light coal slacks and a pastel blue button up with the sleeves artfully rolled to the elbows. His hair has blonde lowlights mixed into honey brown. He pulls down his square rimless Prada sunglasses after finishing typing out a text and then looks at his Carre H watch with a quirk of the brow.

“You’re not late.” He says simply.

Chanyeol pushes the blue reflective lense glasses back up his friend’s nose and shakes his head.

“Shut up.”

“No seriously, I can’t even remember the last time this happened? You’re always late.” Junmyeon says in shock.

He plugs his phone in and grabs the steering wheel and then looks to Chanyeol again.

“Are you ok?”

“Would you just drive?” Chanyeol asks with a laugh.

“You asked me to lunch for the first time in 3 months and you’re on time. Should I take this as a sign that I should worry? Should I call a doctor to meet us at the restaurant? Listen, how about we cancel with chef Morimoto and just head straight to the hospital.”

Chanyeol sovers his face with one hand and sighs as Junmyeon puts the car in gear and starts to drive, still teasing his friend as he goes.

“Seriously, Yeol. What’s got you calling for a quick lunch date?”

Chanyeol looks out the window and doesn’t say anything for too long and Junmyeon starts hitting the steering wheel.

“I knew it. I knew it. I knew it. I knew it. As soon as I saw him yesterday I got on the phone to Kim Kai and I said T-R-O-U-B-L-E.”

Chanyeol blushes profusely and grins at his friend’s completely fair assessment.

“He’s so gorgeous.” Chanyeol admits.

“He really is pretty. I was like ‘maybe I need a manny too’ but you know that would never fly at home. My husband would be way to jealous.”

“Yeah… He’s… incredible, Junmyeon.”

“So are you dating him?”

Chanyeol shakes his head.

“Okay because it would be so like you to not date anyone for almost half a decade and then ask the first guy you like to move in instead of just on a date like a normal person. No judgement but also, I honestly would support it at this point if it helps you get laid.”


“Okay, I’m kidding. I don’t want you to sleep with your manny. Unless you want to.”

Chanyeol stares straight ahead for long enough that Junmyeon starts to laugh again.

“Like I said. I knew it. It’s a wonder he’s still able to walk. The poor guy has got to be worn out if he finally got you to unbottle all that pent up sexual energy you’ve been storing for the next great flood.”

“I don’t understand why it’s impossible for you to just drive the car like a normal person. Turn on the radio and sing along to the music or pop the news on and catch up on world events.” Chanyeol is laughing as he speaks but Junmyeon shrugs it off.

“So not getting laid yet?” He asks.

Chanyeol looks over at his best friend, his skin is perfect, the faintest traces of stubble touch the cheeks and the regular facials he gets are evident in the subtle sheen to his skin.

“Baekhyun is an employee, Junmyeon. I can’t sleep with him.”

Here, the man driving softens his expression with a tightening to the corner of his lip.


He picks at the leather on his wrist watch strap and waits for more. Junmyeon puts on his turn signal and spins his wheel to turn left into the parking garage. At the entrance he hands the ticket and keys to valet and they go inside to their table.

“Hi, can I get a white Russian and my friend will have an old fashioned top shelf.” Junmyeon orders when they’re seated. “And can you go ahead and put in for the peking duck and tartare please?”

“I’m literally falling for this guy more and more every day.” Chanyeol says. “I can’t be around him at all without getting pulled under by him. But I don’t know how to be the guy that chooses love or something like it over his kid.”

“You’re not choosing Baekhyun over Junha, Chanyeol. This is where your little gay sex starved brain is working over drive. It has been literally one day since he started taking care of Junha. It’s not like you fell in love with him after 3 months of him being your manny.”

Chanyeol leans his head back and takes a long deep breath.

“It feels like it’s been so much longer even though it’s been less than a week. He’s fallen right into our family and he feels like he belongs.” Chanyeol says. “I don’t know how to do this.”

“That’s because you haven’t dated anyone since Sooyoun. You’re still stuck. Listen, you’re putting all this pressure on yourself to treat this like he’s one of your hired nannies. Maybe you should stop that. He can take care of Junha and not be a nanny. He can help you out and still be a family friend. He can just be Dad’s new boyfriend.”

The drinks are placed on the table and they both take a sip without a toast.

“What if things don’t work out and Junha gets attached?” He asks.

The dim lighting captures long shadows on his face and Junmyeon watches his friend. There are less dark lines on his features than he remembers last. He remembers the man swinging by for hurried evening pickups from his place with years etched into his young forehead. Now there’s not one line there to cut his skin but for the slight tension in his brow.

“Is that really what you’re worried about?” Junmyeon asks.

“I don’t know.” Chanyeol says honestly. “I should be worried about that. I feel like a bad father if I don’t worry about that. But there’s a part of me that keeps sayingDon’t worry, he’ll just move on and forget it. I really like the part of me that says that and that feels so wrong.”

Junmyeon takes a sip of his drink as the tartare is brought out and the scrape bites together.

“To be honest with you, I have a lot of faith in your ability to make good decisions for your son. But I don’t trust you 100%.”

“Thanks. Means a lot coming from my best friend to hear you think I’m okay at being a parent.” Chanyeol deadpans over a bite of food.

Junmyeon shrugs and leans back in his chair, hooking one arm over the back and crossing his legs. He stares at Chanyeol long and hard, simply raising his brow.

“Okay, yes, I have things I could work on. But I have a very demanding job that provides an excellent life for Junha. He will never want for anything.”

Junmyeon nods his head in agreement here but clicks his tongue to start in on Chanyeol.

“There’s more to parenthood than that and you already know it. He needs you to be in his world more. He would give up all his toys to be with you a little more. He loves you, Park Chanyeol. He wants that quality time with just the two of you. But more so than that, you have to remember that Park Junha is learning from you. Right now. Everyday. He sees the way you take care of him, the way you take care of yourself, and he’s going to see the way you take care of a spouse someday. Or maybe not. But either way, he’s learning. Having a stable boyfriend in the house happens to most single parents at some point. But the key it’s meeting the criteria of whether it’s stable and safe. You still have a lot to teach him and you’re not doing it right now. And that’s okay. You’re still doing great, don’t get me wrong. But could you do more? Because I know who you are as a person, the answer is yes. Because I know there’s more to who you are than you’re sharing with your son. There’s a happier person that you could be that you’re not sharing with your son.”

The duck arrives and the two dig in quickly.

“I know you’re right about me not being my happiest self.” Chanyeol says.

“I know I’m right too.”

“I felt it… the other day.” He ignores Junmyeon and continues. “We were sitting in the living room and I looked over at the two of them playing together and… It felt like a missing piece had fallen into place. I felt completed in a way that I haven’t felt before since before Junha was born. Not to say that Junha isn’t everything because God, that kid is just my whole life and I love it. I love him more than I think I’m capable of ever loving anyone else including myself but… Baekhyun just brings out this side of me that’s both… feral and primally hungry sexually and also deeply sated on this domestic level that makes me want to… God, I don’t even know, sit on the couch knitting together while watching tv or something…”

Junmyeon can’t fight the laughter on that, covering his mouth and choking on duck.

“Go home. I hate you.” Junmyeon jokes between coughs. “I’m never getting that image out of my head.”

Chanyeol grins and picks a fatty piece of duck up off of his plate to pick at, feeling embarrassed and joyful all at once.

“I’m serious.”

“I think that makes it worse.” Junmyeon laughs. “But I love that for you.”

They lock eyes over the table and his friend is deadly serious with his lips curled up. Cheeks flushed from coughing and eyes starry with hopefulness.

“You have so much love to give, Park. You’re one of the best people I know in life. And if I weren’t happily taken I’d probably beg you to marry me and let me adopt Junha because I love him too. I’d give anything to see the two of you happy. But I knew when I saw Baekhyun yesterday that you had either subconsciously hired the man because you wanted to bone or purposefully hired the man because you wanted to bone but needed to strategize for a bit and needed to buy some time.”

“I genuinely was helping a guy in a tough spot.”

“Park Chanyeol, don’t make me call to question your parenting ability again if you really hired a homeless stranger to take care of my God son.”

Junmyeon closes his eyes and shakes his head.

“I mean I did but I also got to know him some first and genuinely believe he’s a good guy.”

“These are the actions of a gay man who is not getting laid and I love it.” Junmyeon chuckles shaking his head.

“Will you stop announcing to everyone how little I’m getting laid already and just eat your damned lunch?”

The waiter stops by for updated drink orders and Chanyeol surprises Junmyeon with another drink. He asks for an Oolong tea and grins.

“So how far have you two gone?”

“I don’t even know if he’s gay, Junmyeon.”

Junmyeon snorts and waves his hand.

“Next question. He’s clearly gay. He looked me up and down to assess me in a way that only a fully gay man would. He wanted to know if I was a threat and I made sure to show off my wedding ring to ease his worry.”

Chanyeol tries to imagine Baekhyun jealous and it stokes the flames in him instantly.

“I mean… we haven’t kissed. Well I mean I’ve kissed him and he’s kissed me but… we’ve you know.. done some other things.”

Junmyeon makes an impressed face.

“Wow. Skipped kissing and got right to jobs. Nice.”

“No. Nothing like that.” Chanyeol clarifies.

Junmyeon stops midbite.


Chanyeol reaches up to rub his eyes and graciously accepts his drink and takes a big sip.

“We’ve kind of… just… teased each other? Like gotten each other’s space and you know… gotten hot and hard. He did this thing the other night in the kitchen where he like turned the water on to drown out what I was saying and kind of forced me to get closer and closer until I had him pinned up against the counter and I was standing behind him and he was backing into me and… God, Junmyeon it’s hard to describe but it was so maddening.”

Junmyeon seems especially confused, wiping his mouth with the red cloth napkin and then tossing it down.

“And somehow this made you question if he’s gay?”

Chanyeol hides his face in his hands knowing he’s bright red.

“Don’t get me wrong, the guy is clearly a total minx and I love it for you. You need a little sexual joy in your life, but let’s get real. Most straight men don’t start fooling around by asking another guy to sandwich their dick in their ass.”

Chanyeol takes another sip of his drink like it’s a shot and Junmyeon chuckles.

“I think he likes you. I think you like him. Would it be so bad if you just gave it a try? Date him and let him care for Junha in the evenings like a babysitter would and leave it at that.”

“What if I f*ck it all up?”

Junmyeon chuckles and shakes his head.

“You are many things, but you are not the man to f*ck up other people’s lives. Trust your instincts. Take this crazy chance and see where things go.”

Chanyeol likes this plan just fine, but he’s not unaware of the challenge it poses on his part to let loose and take control of his wants.

“Baek’eon is not be fair.” Junha yells.

“Baekhyun is being fair.” Baekhyun replies, looking—at least externally—the picture of composure.

Junha shakes his head and stares at Baekhyun from where he’s perched on the arm of the couch.

“No.” He says pointedly.

“Yes.” Baekhyun replies.

Junha scrunches his eyebrows together intentionally and shakes his head, holding his place against the rebuttal.

The afternoon had gone much smoother in some ways, specifically that when Baekhyun picked Junha up he didn’t take off like Usain Bolt. Small victories are cherished during this tender time. At least that’s what the book he was reading said. There were books on being a nanny, on children’s developmental psychology and childcare left in his room by former nannies and he had started reading them today. And after reading the challenges presented in these books and reviewing a day that at the time felt hellacious… The thing is that, it’s frustrating but in the most microscopic way. In the grand scheme of the terrible things that he’s been through over the years, the stress level of arguing with a child over whether or not he should take a bath is just… infeintesmal. Compared to say, arguing with a landlord over why you shouldn’t be evicted after not being able to scrape together full rent checks for 2 months working 50 hours a week at odd end jobs. This job requires such a small thing of him and he finds kind of easy to soften his face and lower himself to Junha’s level.

Junha throws his stuffed hulk doll at Baekhyun’s face and Baekhyun closes his eyes, not having time to swat it away.

“Junha… was that a nice thing to do?” Baekhyun asks patiently, getting to his knees to pick up the Hulk toy from the ground, now looking up at Junha perched on the arm of the couch.

“Are Baek’eon is going to tell Daddy?”

“Am I going to tell your Dad that you threw the Hulk at me?” Baekhyun asks.

Junha scrunches his little features together and fidgets with the tee shirt he’s wearing, printed with paw patrol heroes.

“Tha’s not a Hulk. That just is a stuffie Hulk.” Junha protests.

Baekhyun looks at the stuffed Hulk and then incredulously at Junha.

“No… No I’m pretty sure this is the Hulk.” Baekhyun says.

He lifts the stuffie to his ear and pretends to listen to the Hulk whisper in his ear.

“Mmhmm… Yes… You are in fact Bruce Banner and the real Hulk?... Yes, just as I assumed.” Baekhyun says earnestly, pretending to have a very serious conversation.

Junha can’t fight a small smile as he watches, sheepishly reaching for the doll.

“Oh, Dr. Banner, excuse me. Junha would like to speak to you too. May I hand you back?... I can…? Okay wonderful, here you are.” He says and extends the doll back to Junha and stands back up.

Junha also lifts the well-loved, pilled green doll to his ear.

“Miss’ters Hulk? Hello? Yes, is Baek’eon is being a silly head? Oh yes? He is, I agree.” Junha says also pretending to communicate.

Baekhyun grins and reaches for Junha again. This time, Junha allows Baekhyun to hoist him up under the arms and sit on his hip to be carried to the bathroom. This closeness is important in building a bond. Being held safely makes the child feel more secure in the relationship as long as the child is consenting in their own boundaries to being picked up. Junha continues to talk to Hulk in a whisper voice as they make their way down the hall, pushing the doll at Baekhyun’s head again.

“Ouch! Again, Junha? You threw the actual Hulk from the Avengers at my head again? This is getting out of control.” He teases with a laugh.

Junha laughs too and cheers “Out’a control!”

And just like that… things start to change between the two. Their second bath time is much less stressful. He’s careful to make sure Junha doesn’t stand or fall down, they play a bit with toys and then Baekhyun coaxes him out without too much of a fight. He’s not sure if it’s just the new sage advice from the experts in his book working already or if Junha just decided to be nicer to him but… Things weren’t terrible. When he tucks him in bed, Junha beckons him in closer and kisses him on the cheek.

“I sorry I hit you with a real Hulk.” He whispers.

Baekhyun’s whole body goes rigid with a feeling he isn’t quite sure he understands. It’s like a defense shield suddenly was activated in his heart and simultaneously a shield was broken down. He strokes the hairs from the little one’s forehead and he smiles.

“I won’t tell your Dad about it this time, but I think there’s only so many times it can happen before Captain American or Iron Man find out and they’re definitely going to tell him.” He says and points to where the Funko pops are lined up on his toy chest.

Junha rolls his eyes but he’s smiling as he rolls onto his side. Baekhyun fluffs his many pollows and starts to get up when Junha turns back towards him.

“Baek’eon is pick Junha up from school?” He asks.

Baekhyun has to think a second.

“Uh… Tomorrow…? I think so yeah. I think I’m dropping you off at the bus and picking you up. Junmyeon said today he has something to do tomorrow so I’m coming all the way to your school for sure in the afternoon.”

Junha doesn’t say anything in response to that. He simply closes his eyes and snuggles in cradling both his hulk and doraemon stuffies to his chest.

“Good night, Junha.” Baekhyun says softly, pulling the covers up over his shoulder.

The little one doesn’t say good night but he watches Baekhyun, nodding his head when they make eye contact at the door. Baekhyun lingers in the doorway for a moment, after turning off the overhead light. They hold gaze for a while and Baekhyun gives another big grin and Junha smiles and closes his eyes in response. He stays there a while longer watching the kid and he’s not sure why. Maybe it’s just because he’s so cute but part of it is because he just can’t stop looking at him and seeing a whole different little person after reading about child development. This is a whole little life, still developing who they are and what they want and figuring out the world around him. He suddenly feels so fiercely protective of the kid’s imagination, his life needs, his goals, his educational and developmental milestones. It’s not even his kid but he’s so worried.

He’s so stubborn and small and Baekhyun finds himself relating to Junha in more ways today that he had previously and he’s been thinking that maybe… this could actually work after all. He goes into the living room and gets back to reading for a while, checking on Junha every 15 minutes to see if he’s asleep or playing in bed. The first time he was picking at his stuffie’s eyes when he checked but the second time he checked, Junha was passed out. He was reclined on the couch with his book open when Chanyeol got home and lifted a brown bag to him

“Would you like to have some wine?” He asks as he passes through to the kitchen.

Baekhyun put the book down and shuffled into the kitchen after him.

“Is he down?” Chanyeol asks when Baekhyun follows him.

“Yeah, for about an hour now.”

“I’m going to run go kiss him good night and change. Do you mind opening the wine? I’d like to have a glass. You’re welcome to join me.”

Chanyeol places his hand on the small of Baekhyun’s back and he nods up at the man who drops a kiss to the top of his head as he walks out of the room. Baekhyun startles at the soft familiar action and touches his head with a smile before getting the wine glasses down and grabbing the wine decorking contraption Chanyeol has. Leave it to Chanyeol not to have a simple wine cork but some fancy Williams Sonoma electronic contraption. He pulls the foil off and locks the bottle neck in place and the black gadget whirrs quietly and pops. He pulls back and salvages the cork for later before throwing away the foil. When he turns back Chanyeol is entering the room in black lounge pants and a crisp white V neck that showcases his broad shoulders to perfection. Baekhyun has to keep his mouth from falling open and salivating. The man enters the kitchen in a flurry of cologne and grabs the glasses with a grin before exiting. Baekhyun grabs the bottle and takes a swig from it quickly for courage before he trails after Chanyeol. He sets the glasses on the wooden tray on the ottoman and then starts the fireplace and lowers the lights. Baekhyun instantly feels like Chanyeol is setting the mood and he’s both petrified and thrilled at the prospect.

He pours wine in both wine goblets and then kicks back on the couch. Baekhyun grabs one glass and takes a seat next to him but reserves a bit of space between them so as not to overstep. At first, they just sit on the couch and drink wine. Chanyeol has his eyes closed and Baekhyun just watches him relax. After a moment Baekhyun reaches over and dots the tip of Chanyeol’s nose with his finger.

“How was work?” He asks.

Chanyeol grins but keeps his eyes closed.

“Long. I had meeting after meeting. Tomorrow thankfully I only have one meeting scheduled and the rest of the day I’m free to catch up on real work.”

Baekhyun takes another sip.

“What does that mean?”

Chanyeol sits up straighter and turns towards Baekhyun on the couch and takes another long sip of wine, cheeks already starting to flush after the big glass.

“When I’m in meetings I pay attention to what people are saying and their stances on things. Kind of like trying to guage where my opposition will be and who’s contributing and who’s not. Make sure we stay on topic and so on. But when I don’t have meetings, I’m actually doing my job so… I just prefer days when I don’t have as many meetings.

Baekhyun nods his head and watches Chanyeol pour another glass.

“What about you? How was Junha today? Was it another night with a Gremlin?”

Baekhyun laughs and nods his head yes.

“Absolutely. But… better. He didn’t run away from me and there were no injuries so that’s progress. No meltdowns though he did have a bit of a tantrum over dinner but not bad.”

Chanyeol’s grin is breathtaking. He collapses his head against his propped arm and sighs contently.

“See? I told you if gets better.”

Baekhyun gulps his wine too quickly, wanting to feel more drunk on wine and less drunk on the feeling Chanyeol was giving him.

“I had lunch with Junmyeon today.” Chanyeol says.

“I know.” Baekhyun says, remembering when he picked up Junha from Junmyeon.

“How did—ohhh pick up…” He chuckles as he quickly puts it together. “Was he nice?”

“Yeah, he’s always nice. But… he asked me if I’m gay.” Baekhyun says pointedly.

Chanyeol chokes a bit on his wine and avoids eye contact with Baekhyun.

“Oh… um… Sorry, he’s a bit straightforward…” Chanyeol says quietly.

He rubs one eye with his hand for a second before glancing at Baekhyun.

“I am, so.” He says. “I am gay. So I told him yes and he put his hand to his chest and nodded his head and just that was it… It was a bit weird.”

Chanyeol gulps wine down and then fills his glass again, offering the last of the bottle to Baekhyun who gladly agrees.

“Again… I’m… sorry about him.”

“Is that okay?” Baekhyun asks.

Chanyeol looks over confused.


“Is it okay that I’m gay?”

Chanyeol laughs lightly in confusion.

“What do you mean? Of course it’s okay. Why would it not be okay?”

Baekhyun swirls his wine in the oversized goblet for a moment before shrugging.

“I’m gay too.” Chanyeol says, taking another sip. “Is that okay?”

Baekhyun can’t tell if the color in Chanyeol’s cheeks is wine or embarrassment.

“Can I ask… about Junha…?” Baekhyun asks.

Chanyeol glances over and then looks away again and nods his head.

“Junha is the products of me… deciding to try something new with my life. I fell in love with someone and I thought that it was romantic love. We had sex with just made me feel closer to her and I was happy. But… I don’t think that what we had was romantic if I really think about it. I think I was just lonely, and she was a good friend and I got washed up in all of her friends thinking we were a couple and she wanted to date me and… we were really close until we weren’t and then she disappeared.”

Baekhyun nods his head.

“I’m sorry.”

Chanyeol downs the rest of his glass and shakes his head.

“I’m not.” He says emphatically. “I’m not sorry. I got Junha from it and I’m stronger now than I ever had to be before.”

Baekhyun reaches out and puts his hand on Chanyeol’s arm.

“Baekhyun… You’re here though and I’m gay and you’re gay. And I need to talk to you about this.”

Baekhyun downs his wine and hands the glass over to Chanyeol who sets it down by his own. He takes a deep breath and shakes himself out.

“Okay.” He replies, trying not to be nervous but feeling like he could pass out.

“I like you.” Chanyeol says.

Baekhyun lets out a breath he’d been holding and then laughs a little.

“I like you too, Chanyeol.” He says.

“I want you, Baekhyun.”

Baekhyun looks down and then up again.

“What do you mean?” He asks.

“I mean, I want you in every sense of the word. I don’t want to just rush into things but I think about you always. I crave being around you and I want to know every piece of you intimately. I want you, Baekhyun.”

His eyes flicker to Baekhyun’s mouth and then back to his eyes.

“Chanyeol… I’m flattered but I’m not that special.”

Chanyeol shakes his head and bites his lip.

“No… You’re incredibly special. Baekhyun I haven’t felt this for someone in years. I haven’t wanted to kiss someone like this since… before Junha was born… hell, before Sooyoun… maybe never… I don’t know but it’s you. You’re it for me when it comes to a type. I like everything about you and I feel like I’m losing my mind. I want to get this out in the open and deal with it and… I don’t know… figure it out before it gets away from me.”

“What do you mean by gets away from you?”

Chanyeol holds Baekhyun’s gaze like licked fires in the fireplace.

“Get away from me like I do something stupid and push you down on the sofa and kiss you.” He breathes.

Baekhyun nods his head, feeling a little more brazen with the wine. He reaches forward for Chanyeol’s shirt collar and hooks it with one finger. Chanyeol is drawn in closer in the motion and Baekhyun sighs against Chanyeol’s mouth so that he can feel the heat and smell the wine of his breath. Chanyeol’s breath stutters and his eyes turn dark with the dilation of his pupils and his hooded lashes. Baekhyun pushes him back against the couch and straddles him and Chanyeol’s hands come in against his hips immediately.

“I want you.” Baekhyun breathes.

“I want you.” Chanyeol whispers back nodding his head.

Baekhyun explores Chanyeol with his fingers first, tracing the line of his jaw and watching the man melt back into the soft sofa. Baekhyun’s fingers move down his throat and stroke along the clavicles to rest on his strong shoulders. Baekhyun playfully moves his hips and watches Chanyeol’s mouth fall open on a long hiss of air being taken in, his head falling back on the couch for a second as he completely gives in to Baekhyun’s touch. He swipes his thumb over his bottom lip and Chanyeol kisses the finger tip on instinct. They meet eyes and Baekhyun’s heart is hammering in his chest. He wants this man so much more than he’s letting on but he’s not ready to tell him all of that yet. He’s been dreaming of this man since the first time he saw him but Chanyeol is way out of his league and this feels like such a precious stolen moment. He presses their noses in and they breathe in one another and close their eyes. When Baekhyun slips to the side to angle their lips for imminent crescendo, he can hear his own staggered breath. Chanyeol strokes against the skin on his hips in a soothing motion and Baekhyun takes that moment to close the gap.

Chanyeol is melting with him, his body relaxing into the touch of Baekhyun’s lips and they’re kissing one another in soft feverish tastes of the wine on eachother’s mouth. Baekhyun reaches forward and buries his fingers in the hair at the base of Chanyeol’s hair and hisses appreciation between kisses. He can feel thousands of little parts of himself at once, his toes digging in under Chanyeol’s leg on the couch, Chanyeol’s hands splayed on his sides, so big and warm and taking up so much space, the feel of Chanyeol’s stubble lightly scaping his skin as they twist their faces and come in and out. He was so sure that they would be dry humping like teenagers the moment they met their lips but they’re both so infatuated with what these kisses can do that neither deepens the kiss at first. Chanyeol moans softly as Baekhyun’s nails drag against his scalp and he smiles between kisses. Chanyeol takes one hand in a careful caress up Baekhyun’s spine to scoop him closer and cradles him into his arms before tentatively stroking against Baekhyun’s mouth with his tongue. Baekhyun pulls back his head only, wrapping his arms around Chanyeol’s neck and looking down at him hazily. He pulls at Chanyeol’s lip tenderly with his teeth, stroking his hair gingerly.

Baekhyun smiles down at the man and he grins back, pulling tightly and he lowers his mouth back for a long stroke of his tongue. They’re deepening the pull in each kiss now and Baekhyun can feel the heat of Chanyeol’s needy strokes like the man is whispering in his ear how much he wants more. To oblige him just a little he moves his hip in soft scrapes back and forth and Chanyeol pulls away, throwing his head back and moaning deep.

“Does it feel okay?” Baekhyun asks, knowing the answer.

Chanyeol bites his lip and loosens his hold on Baekhyun’s back to allow the man more range of motion to move. Baekhyun continues the lap dance bracing the couch on either side of Chanyeol’s head, watching the man revel in the feeling of being turned on and teased. Chanyeol finally reaches down to adjust himself and they meet eyes where he can see the man’s blown out pupils and drunken bliss.

“Do you want me to stop?” He asks.

Chanyeol shakes his head no with a slow grin.

“I like it.”

Baekhyun laughs softly and rolls his hips in a circle. He lifts his shirt up a little and Chanyeol’s teeth flash as he catches his lip again with a furrowed brow. Baekhyun’s fingers hesitate just a little when he gets ready to take shirt off and Chanyeol surprised him by locking an arm around his waist and pulling him down, flipping them so that he’s on top. He pants breathlessly and looks up at Chanyeol with surprise. Chanyeol’s hands stroke up Baekhyun’s sides and he kisses his way up the skin of Baekhyun’s belly. Baekhyun keeps his hands over his head and arches his back into Chanyeol’s touches until he gets to his nipples where he takes one side into his mouth in appreciation and sucks against it gently, feeling out how sensitive Baekhyun in.

“You can go a little harder, Chanyeol.” He breathes and Chanyeol obliges.

Baekhyun can feel Chanyeol’s erection, free and tinted in the casual lounge pants he’s wearing and he wonders if there was any expectation when he come home tonight that this would happen. Chanyeol’s mouth moves up Baekhyun’s chest to his throat and he stops to feast on the soft flesh beneath his ear in decadent suckles that are bound to bruise a little but he didn’t care. Neither of them cared at this point. All they can focus on is one another and how good it all feels finally touching each other. Chanyeol’s hips come in and Baekhyun gets his first taste of how the man’s hips move as he expertly moves against him. Baekhyun suddenly thinks about the fact that Chanyeol had come out to him tonight and realizes that must mean he’s been with men before. He’s not new to this and he wants all of the same things that Baekhyun wants in the same way and he groans softly, clutching onto Chanyeol a little tighter.

“You’re so damn gorgeous.” Chanyeol says suddenly. His hand comes in against Baekhun’s cheek in a cradle and he searches Baekhyun’s eyes. “Do you know that? Do you know how exquisite you look?”

Baekhyun chuckles and looks away from Chanyeol, embarrassed and uncomfortable under the flattery.

“Stop it, Chanyeol. You’re literally like built like a model. You’re like a Ken doll of a corporate Dad.”

Chanyeol grins, overjoyed at the compliment.

“Really? You think I’m that good looking? Like a Ken doll?”

Baekhyun pushes at Chanyeol’s chest and then they stare at one another for a moment, happy and sweaty and a little tipsy and both of them so obviously enamored with one another.

“I think you’re perfect.” Chanyeol breathes and collapses on top of Baekhyun.

“You won’t always. I’m imperfect. I’m an extremely flawed individual who was barely scraping by before you came in like a white knight and gave me a place to stay and a job and a phone and a kid.”

Chanyeol sits up enough to look at Baekhyun with a starry expression.

“So Junha made the list today.” He says.

“I mean, obviously he’s adorable.”

Chanyeol kisses Baekhyun and sits up, dragging the man up to sit next to him by the wrists.

“So you like Junnie?”

Baekhyun pulls his knees up and curls into Chanyeol’s side.

“Junmyeon is okay.” Chanyeol playfully swats at his arm and Baekhyun giggles and nudges his shoulder against the man. “Yes, I like Junha or whatever. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Yes, I want him to like me. Yes, I want him to think I’m cool. Yes, I seek the approval of a toddler. This is my life now.”

Chanyeol heaves a long sigh and rubs his face with his palm, yawning.

He’s peaceful, relaxation that seldom found him was now holding him in a lingering embrace and it’s terrifying and wonderful.

“Is it… Is it okay if I think of this as my life now? You and Junha and this place we share the three of us… This is new and there’s no pressure here but I really like you. I could build a life here in this space between us. Is that okay?”

Baekhyun couldn’t think of anything he would want more in life.

“Yeah, Chanyeol. I like living here.”

It doesn’t take long before Chanyeol is sleeping softly on the couch but he hears Baekhyun add “I think I might be happy.” He holds him closer and nods off, wishing he wasn’t too sleepy to tell him he feels the same.

Junmyeon looks over the butcher block countertop at Junha building a tower out of wooden blocks with Baekhyun and throws a kitchen towel over one shoulder. He’s dressed down in a Brunello Cucinelli micro stripe linen blend tee with jeans with a blue denim apron over. His signature Carre H stainless steel wrist watch is neatly laying on the Jewelry rest by the sink to avoid damage as he cooks with snapping oils to make ika geso karaage. Baekhyun is a unique breed. To be completely honest, he thought the man was perfect for Chanyeol the moment he laid eyes on him. He has the look that Chanyeol has always been weak for. Lithe in stature, shorter than him, not too slender and not effeminate. He likes an all around man’s man who looks strong but someone soft enough that they can wrap him around his finger. Sooyoun was the only exception and even so, she has some of the same features he likes. She had the tapered jaw and bright eyes and she was tiny. But she eventually realized that he would do anything to make it work with her, even though he wasn’t in love. She started to realized too late that he was into men and he was simply making it work with her because they had a kid together.

“Baek’eon is not doing a goodest job.” Junha says loudly.

“What? What am I doing wrong?” Baekhyun demands, hands on his hips.

“Tha’s is not how you makes a bridge. This is how you do it.”

Baekhyun shakes his head and points to Junha’s bridge.

“Your bridge is much smaller than mine! Mine needs supports!”

“No thank you!” Junha says.

“No thank you? No thank you? What are you no thank you-ing me about?” Baekhyun grabs Junha and starts to tickle him while he shrieks in laughter.

“You two better not break anything in there.” Junmyeon chides with a smile.

“You got me in trouble!” Baekhyun says and tickles Junha more.

The front door opens and his husband strolls in with a small bouquet of hydrangea for him.

“Hey baby.” Junmyeon says receiving a kiss to his temple.

He looks today as handsome as he did the first day Junmyeon saw him. He can still remember walking into the coffee shop where he worked and standing awe struck at the sight of the man. Sehun was every bit of 6 feet with a flat canvas face with high cheekbones. He had small dark eyes and a hawkish expression. He looked unreal, like a comic book hero come to life and Junmyeon had written his name on a napkin and handed it to him before even completing his coffee order and said “Please be my boyfriend.”

Sehun had been intrigued by the young college student and called him a week later and they’d be together ever since. Now Sehun was a cyber security wunderkind with his own company that supported the two of them financially so that Junmyeon could pursue his passion as a writer on his own time publishing erotic novels under a pseudonym.

“Baekhyun, this is my husband, Sehun. Sehun, this is the new Park nanny I told you about, Baekhyun.”

Sehun makes his way over to Baekhyun silently and shakes his hand before scooping Junha up and spinning his around.

“Sehun, don’t get him too riled up right before dinner.” He says and watches Baekhyun smile up at Junha laughing.

It’s not easy to find someone who likes kids these days but he gets the feeling that Baekhyun doesn’t know he likes kids. The man stretches and checks his phone before running to the restroom. Junmyeon grins to himself knowing the man must be fixing himself up before Chanyeol arrives in a few minutes. He can tell he likes him from the way he looks at his phone and also, of course, the way he examined every single photo of Chanyeol in their livingroom. There were ones from Japan and those from through the years. He paused to pick up baby photos of Junha with the softest expression and stroked over his little face with his finger. Baekhyun was getting to know Chanyeol’s life in photos like he was traveling to a new place. He asked unassuming questions like “Is this in from university?” instead of what he really wanted to know which was likely “Is this from when he was dating Sooyoun?” He thoughtfully asked Junha if he’s seem the pictures and offered to show them to him again. He’s a beautiful man to be sure, but he’s just as curious as Chanyeol is to find out why he was in the situation he was in. Where is his family? Does he have work experience? What does he want to do in life?

Chanyeol bursts through the front door in a flurry of rustling bags and Junha responds in his typical excitement of hopping up and down and taking off in a dead run. Chanyeol scoops his little one up and kisses his belly, his arms, his shoulders, his cheeks and the top of his head like cookie monster eating a cookie and Junha is the most content he ever is in that moment. It’s an expression that is unparallel in his book. The expression he saves just for Chanyeol. That and the expression of longing in his eyes when he misses his father after a long day and he resolves that he likely won’t see him before he goes to sleep. Baekhyun emerges from the half bath on queue and makes his way to the door where he locks eyes with Chanyeol. They share a moment that could melt cold butter down and Chanyeol covertly plants a kiss to the top of Baekhyun’s head. Junmyeon watches serenely at the two awkward men who are clearly falling in love with one another. This is all he ever really wanted for Chanyeol in the years he’d been friends with him. He just wanted some assurance that there would be a happily ever after for a person he feels deserved it most. Even if that happily ever after ends up being with a broken man with some troubles in his path. Sehun hasn’t always been a dreamboat. There love had been slow and sure in time but the first year or two had been rough as Sehun slowly grappled with all the ins and outs of bisexuality. He had never been attracted to a man that he registered until Junmyeon and there was a lot of talking, a lot of questioning, uncertainties and ultimately some therapy that went into his journey to love himself and embrace what he had with Junmyeon. Baekhyun doesn’t seem to have any questions about his sexuality but there are still lots of other obstacles they will face in their time together as they unpack Chanyeol’s past and Junha’s place between them.

They sit down for dinner at the table together and Baekhyun is diligent in his protection and care of Junha already. He knows when to ask the child to sit back down on his butt and when to indulge little moments of playfulness when Junha asks if his food is shaped like animals when he takes bites. Chanyeol reaches his arm out on the back of Junha’s chair where the little one sits between the two and his hand lazily touches Baekhyun’s arm every so often, pulling small smiles from the Manny.

“Did I ever tell you about when Chanyeol thought that his old nanny was in love with him?” Junmyeon asks, swirling wine in his glass as they wind down eating.

“Okay. I think it’s time to head out.” Chanyeol announces but Junha stubbornly refuses, still digging into chilled sliced watermelon.

“So this was when Junha was about… 1 I think… Yeah, 1 sounds right. Okay, Junha was 1 years old and he was the cutest thing ever. Like obnoxiously more so even than now. He was still in that chubby baby phase with a little walking power. And Chanyeol’s nanny was named… I don’t know… Tiffany or something.”

“Tiffany, huh?” Baekhyun eyes Chanyeol.

Chanyeol pours himself another glass of wine and nods his head, quickly downing half the glass.

“So Tiffany was this 26 year old, tiny little woman with a bubbly laugh and he was convinced she was in love with him because she would laugh and laugh and laugh around him constantly. And he was right about one thing, and that was that she did laugh an unusual amount around him but not around me or Sehun or Junha. So this goes on for weeks where he’s in a complete panic because he’s like ‘Junha loves her so much but I don’t feel that way at all! What if she tries to come onto me! I can’t deal with this stress!’ and Sehun decided one day to just ask her flat out why she was laughing all the time around Chanyeol.”

Sehun chuckles and raises his glass in cheers to Chanyeol who gives the man the finger in response. Baekhyun is understandably enthralled by the story and watches the men eagerly.

“Tiffany looks all around to make sure that Chanyeol isn’t around and Junha is out of earshot and then she leans into Sehun and she’s dead serious and goes ‘He reminds me of my father but like… a really awkward young version of my father and I feel so uncomfortable around him all the time so I just laugh whenever there’s any kind of silence in conversation so I don’t have to talk to him about my life.’ And Sehun and I teased him for months afterwards.”

“Awww…. Chanyeolie…. She said you were a Dad I wouldn’t like to…” Baekhyun looks pointedly to Junha and then Chanyeol again “hug.” He finishes with a wink.

“Yes, yes, I’m bad at relationships and I have no idea when people are flirting.” Chanyeol sighs and takes another sip of wine, ears and cheeks burning with embarrassment.

Junmyeon looks pointedly at Baekhyun until he makes eye contact. Baekhyun’s laughter falters and Junmyeon raises his glass to him and they silently exchange an understanding.

“If you didn’t know, now you know.” Junmyeon says quietly.

Baekhyun’s cheeks are bright pink and he nervously turns his attention to Junha and his watermelon, fussing over wiping off the little one’s chin. Chanyeol seems oblivious to the exchange but glances at his watch again.

“We really should be heading out though… probably should call an uber.” He says.

“Why don’t you leave Jun here for the night.” Sehun offers. “It’s late, it’s time for his bath and bedtime anyway.”

“You hear that, Junmyeon? He said it’s time for your bath and bedtime.” Chanyeol teases.

“Shut up, Chanyeol. Don’t make me tell another embarrassing story.” He retorts with a good natured laugh.

“Fair point. Let’s see what little Jun wants. Junha, do you want to sleepover with Junmyeon and Sehun or come home with me and Baekhyun?”

Junha pulls the bowl of watermelon to his chest.

“I not ready’a go home.” He says.

Baekhyun strokes the boy’s hair from his eyes and Junha leans his head on Baekhyun’s shoulder while he shovels fruit into his mouth.

“You don’t want to come home and sleep in your bed?” Baekhyun asks.

Junmyeon looks over to Chanyeol who looks about half way to blissed out just watching the two of them. This is different. This is a missing part of the dream he’s been carrying inside of him. He’s taking a chance on Baekhyun but more so, he’s taking a chance on himself for once, finally giving into the need for a family of his own with more support than just a nanny.

“Baek’eon can stay too.” Junha says.

“No, Baekhyun has to go home to Baekhyun’s bed to go night night.” Baekhyun says softly.

Junha thinks about this for a second and then looks to Sehun and Junmyeon.

“I think I miss seeing my God’athers.” He says.

“God Fathers.” Chanyeol corrects with a chuckle.

“God’athers.” Junha tries again and still fails.

Chanyeol chuckles and musses the boy’s hair, long fingers falling across his small forehead with the motion, tiny hands reach up to swat him away with the pierce laughter.

“You two can stay if you want to. We have a spare room as long as there’s nothing going on in there that’s unsavory.” Sehun says softly.

“I think I should head home and sleep in my own bed.” Chanyeol says.

“Ohh. So is Chanyeol saying he cannot sleep in the same bed with Baekhyun without the unsavory?” Junmyeon teases.

“No.” Both Baekhyun and Chanyeol bark in unison.

The two refuse to look at one another and blush at the suggestion.

“I would be honored for my favorite gay dad to stay in our guest room with this lovely gas manny.” Junmyeon adds.

“Junmyeon, jesus. Can you not? You’re doing too much.” Chanyeol says embarrassed and starts poking the screen of his phone on the uber app.

“Baekhyun, are you embarrassed by my suggestion?” Junmyeon asks.

Baekhyun looks up and then down again with a nervous smile.

“I mean… It could just be sleeping….” He says.

“So Baekhyun can control himself like a well adjusted adult but Chanyeol is the one who’s out of control, huh? Interesting…” Sehun says softly. “See I was really leaning into the Baekhyun trying to seduce the rich single dad thing because it’s an underrated plot line but the rich single dad seducing the helpless manny is also very underrated…”

Junmyeon throws his head back with laughter, placing his glass on the table.

“Sorry, sorry, we’ve clearly had a glass too many tonight! We’re just teasing you both!” He clarifies and Chanyeol gets to his feet with a nervous clearing of his throat.

“I mean Sehun was spot on with that one though.” Chanyeol says and Junmyeon’s mouth falls open and he looks quickly to Baekhyun who might just explode at the table.

Junha is still resting his head on Baekhyun’s shoulder where the man is absently stroking the little one’s arm, effectively lulling him into heavy eyelids that are slipping closed. He hasn’t given up his resolve to eat as much watermelon as possible and is holding a piece in each hand as he fights sleepiness.

“Junnie is almost out. Say goodnight and I’ll take him to go get ready for bed.” Sehun offers.

When he passes by Chanyeol, the man reaches over and swats at his hip playfully and Sehun grins mischievously the way Junmyeon loves. His eyes become soft crescent and his pretty mouth is pulled thin and he just wants to kiss him when he looks so handsome. He reaches to pick up Junha and allows the boy to bring his watermelons with him. Chanyeol kisses Junha’s head and the boy leans in to plant a sticky kiss to Chanyeol’s cheek. Sehun starts to pull away but Junha is reaching both arms out to Baekhyun silently. Sehun swivels and angles the boy down where Baekhyun takes the watermelon from his hands and then wipes his fingers off. Junha is still reaching so Baekhyun leans in and is given a kiss on the cheek too. His expression changes and he looks like he might just cry when Sehun pulls Junha back to take him to the back.

“He really likes you.” Junmyeon says.

“Junmyeon!” Chanyeol barks.

“Oh, calm down. I meant Junha. Junha likes him a lot.”

Baekhyun sticks his tongue out at Chanyeol and the man bites his lower lip and looks away. The thirst on that man is palpable in the air.

“You need to calm down for real. Have you two thought about just like… getting it out of the way? Just sleep together and get the tension out of the air and then Chanyeol might not act so desperate.” Junmyeon says grabbing his glass and drinking again.

“Somebody take the wine from Junmyeon. He’s being too brazen again. If I didn’t know you weren’t an alcoholic, I’d be revoking the sleepover card right now.” Chanyeol growls.

“How dare you threaten me with my godson. That’s just hurtful, Chanyeol. I don’t deserve that.”

Chanyeol walks around the table and wraps his arms around the him and Junmyeon sinks into the embrace with a grin.

“I do really like him.” He says softly to Junmyeon.

The soft surrender in Chanyeol’s voice brings an emotion to Junmyeon that he wasn’t sure he was familiar with. Protective and visceral, a surge runs through him and he has to bring his resolve back, remembering that he’s putting some faith in the queues that Baekhyun is sending.

“I know. He doesn’t seem to hate you either, idiot. Make a damn move.” He says and swats at Chanyeol’s back.

He pulls back and they look at each other for a moment, eye locked in communication of strength and faith, before Chanyeol’s phone vibrates in his pristine paper worn hands.

“Baekhyun, are you staying or going?” He asks.

Chanyeol looks over at him with an eager expression, his big eyes are wide and his forehead is wrinkled with his brows raised. His question hangs between them as if there’s any ambiguity to the outcome but both parties know.

“I guess I’m going.” He says, though his eyes look a bit nervous suddenly.

He glances in the direction of Junha and then steels his shoulders in resolve.

Chanyeol lumbers off to the bedroom to check on Jun one last time and Baekhyun keeps his eyes on his feet.

“You like him, right? Chanyeol?”

Baekhyun doesn’t lift his eyes.

“I do. But the problem is that I like both of them now. It was just Chanyeol before… now…”

Junmyeon realizes suddenly that the marked trepidation that he noticed was not a sign of how little Baekhyun wanted this, but in fact, how much he was starting to want this. He lets his mind wonder as they stand there in silence, painting pictures of a family of three with Baekhyun and Chanyeol and Junha together on Christmas and Halloween. Their wedding with Jun as the ring Barrer even surfaces before he stops himself and tries to figure out how much is the wine and how much is his intuition. As much as he wants Chanyeol to get laid, he’s suddenly feeling like this is going to be something much much more and he remembers there’s a reason Chanyeol has been successful to now with only female nannies that he’s less likely to be entangled with.

“Okay, Baekhyun.” Chanyeol says entering the room.

Baekhyun looks pieced together with a fake smile, hiding the conflict he’s clearly bubbling with as he follows Chanyeol to the door. Junmyeon walks them both to the door and waves them off, promising to text as soon as Junha wakes up or if anything happens at all.

Standing in the entryway though, Junmyeon finds that the silence left behind from their departure is thunderously loud with so many questions. He wants to force them together into a family but also is terrified of what would happen if they dated and it didn’t work out with how attached Baekhyun and Junha are getting to one another in such a small amount of time.

Baekhyun knows what’s coming the moment the elevator door closes. Chanyeol lifts him up into his arms and presses him up against the elevator wall in crushing kisses that taste like wine. Chanyeol’s heavy breaths through his nose fill the entire elevator with the fever of their making out. Baekhyun’s hands are on Chanyeol’s neck, fingers digging in his hair and he’s swimming in the heat, the flavor and the scent of the perfect man attached to him. Holding Baekhyun’s ass in his wide hands, he’s pushing forward into Baekhyun in suggestive rolls of his hips that drive Baekhyun absolutely wild.

“God, Baekhyun…” He breathes. “You feel so f*cking good…” He mouthes and Baekhyun lets his head loll to the side to allow access for the man to trail the faint stubble of his chin against his throat in hard suckling kisses.

Baekhyun sees the camera on the ceiling and knows he should stop but he can’t say it yet. He’s not ready to stop yet. He wants this so badly that he’s petrified to push pause. When the doors slide open, Chanyeol lets Baekhyun’s body go and he slides down the front of him in a way that has Chanyeol hissing between his teeth and looking down at Baekhyun with molten dark eyes. He grabs Baekhyun’s hand and pulls him as he makes long glides towards the apartment and Baekhyun is at a trot behind him to keep up. The door is barely closed before Chanyeol is stripping off his blazer and tossing it aside. He locks the door and kicks off his shoes in one sweep and he’s back on Baekhyun and they’re melting into one another again.

“Chanyeol…” He breathes as he feels the man’s hand traveling down his sides to cup him from behind and lift him again.

He knows it’s coming and he knows he should stop it but… he doesn’t want to.

Chanyeol hoists him up against the wall and sheer power the man has to keep him there would be enough to cave Baekhyun but added on the fact that he looks like this and he kisses like this and he’s so… Chanyeol’s teeth nip at his bottom lip and he feels it in his groin, a jolt that has blood pooling and his mouth letting free sounds of approval.

“Chanyeol…” He moans as the man sucks tenderly against his collar bone. “Oh, god, Chanyeol…”

He finally pulls back, his eyes wild and his expression happy and free.

How does he say no to this when he’s looking at him like this? How does he deny himself this feeling when he’s been without for so long? And if he looks into the darkest part of himself, has he ever really been with someone like this? Has he ever truly been with the tall, dark eyed man of his dreams that’s hoisting him up effortlessly? Has he ever been with anyone who even slightly compares in the way that they treat him?

But maybe that’s part of the thing that’s so terrifying… What if he’s not perfect… What if this perfect man he’s made Chanyeol out to be doesn’t exist at all? And then he’s back on the street, no progress made on where to stay. And then there’s that feeling… Impossible and strange as it was… Junha reached for him and it felt like a limb waking up. Pins and needles and an erratic circulation pumped new life through a part of himself that he didn’t know he had. Is this what it feels like to be a parent? Those big dark eyes on that bratty child’s face made him feel like he could lift a car. It was bizarre and exhilarating all at once and he immediately craved it over again. He wants Junha’s trust, his approval, his attention… How had he let himself get attached to the misbehaving hellion so quickly? If things don’t work with Chanyeol, he’s going to have to say goodbye to Junha… maybe, forever…

“f*ck.” Baekhyun breathes and pushes against Chanyeol’s shoulders to be let down.

Chanyeol’s brows furrow in worry as he lets the man go.

“What’s wrong?” He asks, trailing behind as Baekhyun makes his way to the couch to plop down. “Am I going too fast? I’m sorry… I got carried away…”

“No… I… Dammit, Chanyeol… I can’t do this.”

Chanyeol sits down at his side but gives him space. He’s expecting something more but when he looks over, the man simply looks defeated and understanding.

“Okay… I understand.” He breathes out quietly.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t really really want this—”

“You don’t have to spare my feelings, Baekhyun.”

Baekhyun stops breathing, almost going back on his decision in that instant.

“Just give me a few days to make arrangements for Junha.”

He stands up abruptly and starts to walk away and Baekhyun’s heart stops beating too. He feels like the world is crashing down suddenly and he feels tears starting to well in his eyes. Hot betrayal falls over his cheeks and he staggers towards Chanyeol.

“Wait… That’s it?” He asks.

Chanyeol looks bewildered as he half turns around. He reaches forward as if he’s about to touch Baekhyun but stops and reconsiders.

“I’m not going to force you, Baekhyun. You gave it a try… and… it just didn’t work.”

“I thought it worked…? I thought I was doing pretty good… I don’t understand? What did I do wrong?” Baekhyun is crying now, sniffling and swatting tears.

“You were great, Baekhyun. I… I mean, I thought things were okay.”

“So, what? Now because I won’t f*ck you, I can’t keep my job? That’s really sh*tty, Chanyeol! You made it seem like I was just here to be a nanny but now you’re firing me just because I won’t put out and that—”

Chanyeol does grab Baekhyun now. His unreadable expression is frantic as he looks over Baekhyun’s expression.

“I’m not firing you! I thought you were quitting?!”

Baekhyun swallows hard and wipes his eyes with the palms of his hands.

“I—I’m n—not quitting o—o—on Junha!” Baekhyun chokes out. “I—I’m just q—q—quitting on f*cking hi—his Dad!”

Chanyeol wipes frantically at Baekhyun’s tears.

“Okay… Hey… I misunderstood… Hey, I’m sorry… D—don’t cry, Baekhyun. Please… I thought you were rejecting both of us… I didn’t realize you just didn’t want to be with me. I’m sorry!” Chanyeol tries to soothe him quickly and quietly but Baekhyun is very worked up.

Chanyeol steers him to the couch for him to sit down. He goes to the kitchen and gets Baekhyun a glass of water and a box of tissues and comes back to sit next to him and rub his neck and shoulders gently. Baekhyun blows his nose and tries to catch his breath under the comforting of the man, but it somehow makes it worse and he scoots away from the touch. Chanyeol looks stung by this and Baekhyun almost starts crying again.

“I want you.” He says simply.

Chanyeol’s brows knit and his mouth falls open.

“You… I’m a little lost.”

“I want you, Chanyeol. I want to be with you in bed and I want to f*ck but… I also really like living here. I like my room, I like the bath, I like living here with you and Junha. I can’t sleep with you and run the risk of losing this.”

Chanyeol’s face completely changes and he flops back on the couch.

“Oh… right…”

Baekhyun is silent but for soft sniffles and blowing his nose while Chanyeol processes.

“So… you’re not rejecting me because you don’t want me?”

Baekhyun shakes his head.

“And, you’re also not rejecting Junha and saying you don’t want to be his live in nanny?”

Baekhyun shakes his head again.

“You’re actually saying the exact opposite… That you really want me and you really want to stay here and work with Junha but you’re scared that f*cking will take that opportunity away?”

Baekhyun hesitates a bit and then nods his head in agreement.

“Well…” Chanyeol runs his hand through his hair. “sh*t.”

Baekhyun nods his head again to this, agreeing with the sentiment.

“I can’t be mad at that… You’re just… taking the job seriously and not wanting to screw things up which is what is best for Jun anyway… I’m being a horny idiot.”

“No!” Baekhyun yells. “I’m the idiot! I’m the horny idiot! I’ve been dreaming about climbing you and doing terrible things to you since the moment I met you in that convenience store.”

Chanyeol bites his lip.

“What kinds of things?” He asks.

Baekhyun’s eyes hood slightly at the temptation and Chanyeol is slapping his hand over his face.

“f*ck. Don’t tell me. It’s better if I don’t know…”

Baekhyun blows his nose again and they sit in silence.

“Okay, well… the good news is that Junha likes you and you like him… and I don’t have to search for a new nanny.”

Baekhyun agrees.

“The bad news is that I’ve got a raging hard on for you and I’m going to have to sort that out.”

Baekhyun looks at Chanyeol and they seem to sigh in unison.

“Same.” He says softly.

“And you’re sure you don’t want to just… see if we can get it out of our system with one night of sex?” Chanyeol asks.

Baekhyun’s smile is sympathetic and a bit too tender. It’s a vulnerability he’s had pushed down for too long.

“I’m pretty sure that won’t be enough for me.”

“You mean… one night won’t be enough or just sex won’t be enough…?” Chanyeol asks, his cheeks burning.

Baekhyun shrugs and looks away.

“I don’t know.” He replies, but in his head, he’s pretty sure the answer is both.

Chanyeol’s eyebrow raises and he sits up.

“So… what if we… give this a go and we do work? What if we’re a good couple and we just… we have something good?”

Baekhyun shakes his head.

“But what if we don’t? And then I have to leave and Junha needs a new nanny and then we’re all just… right back where we started?”

Chanyeol seems still a bit determined and he swallows hard.

“But… Also what if we did work? And we…”

Baekhyun stops him with a shake of his head and Chanyeol trails off.

“So… nothing is going to change your mind?

Baekhyun thinks for just a moment about the three of them sitting at the table together are Junmyeon’s and how nice that was.

“But it’s too big of a risk.”

Chaneyol nods and reaches over to touch the top of Baekhyun’s head with a soft pat.

“Okay… but can you do me a favor…?”

Baekhyun looks up into Chanyeol’s eyes again.

“Can you try not to make me want you 24/7? It’s hard to exist near you.” He says.

“You too buddy.”

Chapter 4: Part 3 - Into the light, away from the dark

Chapter Text

It’s been a month of mornings with coffee. A month of going to sleep with hands that smell like Johnson & Johnson baby soap. A month of sleeping in a bed too big for one person and waking up fully rested. A month of folding laundry for three people. A month of little fingers reaching for him at night for a hug and goodnight kiss. But it feels so much longer to Baekhyun.

Love is something that he was sure he knew how to define before he walked through the front door of this home. Love is something that has absolutely taken him by surprise since he let himself stay in this home. Everyone speaks of love so easily but when it comes down to defining it, how does one even begin to sort into words such a feeling?

Familial love isn’t something he’s known much of. He did have love when he was younger from his parents. He worked hard at school, and they gave him so much attention for it. They gifted him with praise and physical affection in hugs and soft pats on the head. He thought that would be unending. He never thought he’d lose that light in his life. But as time went on, Baekhyun became careless with that affection gifted to him. He began to betray their love with late nights watching tv instead of studying and getting the wrong kind of attention at school. He dated around and he got in trouble and the more he strayed from the path that they paved for him to walk, the less they offered him to hold onto. The smiles turned away and the money he once received easily was now withheld. He assumed it was a phase because how could parents simply stop loving their child? But he was no longer their child when he wasn’t living the way they envisioned. They began arguing and bickering, then all out brawling. Then there was nothing left but for him to leave and so he did. He left them behind and he was sure they would call him home eventually. But they never did. They never once called. They didn’t try to reach him and when he saw them in public, they ignored him. He showed up at home once and tried to come inside but the locks had been changed. He knocked and he rang the bell, but they ignored him entirely.

He thought he knew love…

He placed love on a pedestal in his relationships. A pedestal paid in attention moving forward. He let himself be loved in every situation. If someone approached him with a silken tongue and lavish words to praise him, he would follow them blindly. He thought that love was something shared in sweat, in a musky room with heavy breathing and kisses that bruise. He sought it out in secret, in desperation, in loosely spat words with buoyancy. He thought that if he gave himself over enough, if he bent his wishes and needs enough, if he just stayed with them through enough bullsh*t, they would surely see that it can work for them. That’s love. Love isn’t easy. Love isn’t a fairytale. Hell, even fairytales aren’t fairy tale like when you break off all the candy roads and resuscitating kisses. Fairytales are death, curses, heartbreak, servitude… And they all have a happy ending in a 90-minute Disney film and dammit, he could have it too. He was so sure of it… He was so completely vulnerable to it but that wasn’t love.

He thought he knew…

Love is so much simpler than all of that. Love expects nothing in return.

The truth is that he feels love now on a daily basis and he hasn’t had to force himself to be someone he’s not to receive it. He hasn’t even had to pour it out into someone emotionally, physically, mentally. He simply exists and he receives love in return.

Chanyeol gives him a type of love now that is platonic. They have settled into their space from one another peacefully, even if they cannot slice the tether of sexual tension between them. He wakes in the morning and Chanyeol has made them both a cup of coffee without needing to ask. He sets out the coffee mug on the counter to cool and when Baekhyun emerges a few minutes later to get Junha ready for school, the coffee is the perfect temperature for him, so he doesn’t have to blow on it. Chanyeol plans out dinners for the week on the fridge and Baekhyun offers to cook in exchange for the free meals. But he’s noticed that when he says something is easy to make or something is his favorite, they get added heavier in the rotation of meals. And if Baekhyun has a hard time making something, it magically never appears again. The man tailors to him without Baekhyun having to say a word. Chanyeol also gives him verbal affirmations constantly. He never has to wonder if the food tastes good or if he looks okay. Chanyeol tells him he looks good, the food is good, the house looks great, he appreciates the help, he trusts him… Any question that Baekhyun might think, the man can sense it and offers assurance without provocation. He calls to make sure Baekhyun has seen the weather report and he has an umbrella. He calls to ask if he needs anything while he’s at the store. He communicates constantly and they’re not even dating.

But the love that has truly changed his life the most has to be the love that he receives from Park Junha. Love from Junha comes with strings attached but those precious threads are everything. They’re binding threads of trust, respect, and need. They feed a void in Baekhyun that he simply did not know he even had. He didn’t know how much he needed to be needed by someone until he was needed by Park Junha. There’s nothing he’s ever experienced that can compare. Junha doesn’t search for things to take from Baekhyun with his love. He gives it because he trusts Baekhyun implicitly. The little one searches for him every afternoon when it’s time to be picked up and then runs at full speed towards Baekhyun with the biggest smile he’s ever seen. He hoists the little one up and carries him on his hip and listens intently as he tells him all about his day. He never knew he needed the feel of those soft little breaths on his collarbone when Junha falls asleep on him while watching tv. He thought breaths on skin were a sexual thing his whole life. But then he felt Junha’s little breaths one day and realized that what he was feeling was intimacy. Little life sustaining breaths that propel a life forward being shared while the conscious mind has stepped aside. He closed his eyes and rested a hand on Junha’s little back and he counted the little inhales and exhales.

It felt blissful. It is blissful. Junha isn’t a perfect kid. They still fight for dominance, and they struggle over things together. But they have a mutual respect for one another at the end of the day and Junha gives him a reason to wake up and jump out of bed. He can’t wait to hang out with him again and play games and teach him new things. His life somehow holds value now because he’s needed by this very small human. He is needed in the best way. He’s valued for what he gives to the little one, stability, nurturing, friendship.

Baekhyun is unloading the dishwasher when his phone rings and he flips it screen side up to see a friend calling. He stares at it for a long time debating whether to answer and the caller moves to voicemail. It’s strange… He loves that he felt confident enough to reach out to his friends again and give them an updated number. He loves that he can boast about having a stable job that’s safe and pays good money. But there’s something about opening up that floodgate to the past that is so unnerving. He watches a voicemail icon pop up with a red badge and nibbles on his bottom lip for a moment before clicking on it and putting the glossy cool screen to his ear.

“Baekhyun, it’s good to hear from you man, it’s Kyungsoo. I’ve been swamped so I don’t know if I’m going to be free this week. Let’s plan on next week for catching up in person. Really glad you’re doing well. You had everyone worried for a while there. Really excited to see you. Let’s do Korean food. Later, man.”

The old world collides so beautifully with the new and yet… the old world knows too much about hurt, about his lack of self-worth, about the people who threw him away and the people who didn’t want to be in his world because he just wasn’t enough…

Is that why it has been so easy for Chanyeol to simply act like the wild chemistry between them isn’t affecting him? He can feel the crackle still, but Chanyeol is so happy to give him space, give him friendship only… That’s what he asked for, and he’s thankful that he the man immediately changed his tune but… why does he make it look so easy? He switched completely from wanting to get his hands on him and make him cum in every room in the house to doting father to Junha and loveable employer who has no sexual desires in the blink of an eye. It’s something to be grateful for and yet… He finds himself still missing the hungry looks. Is that something that others can just turn on and off like faucet or is it just easy because it’s with Baekhyun and he’s not that important anyway?

Dishes done, Baekhyun yells for his best friend in the living room and small feet come thundering towards him. He reaches down with both arms to catch Park Junha in his arms, lifting him up and swinging him around. The little one is shrieking with joy as he’s settled on Baekhyun’s hip, and he kisses his brow with a stroke of dark hair from his brow.

“Why were you being so quiet in there? What were you up to?” Baekhyun asks narrowing his eyes.

“Hulk is hang’n upside down and scary witch is making him go whew whew whew whew in a circle and Thor is sayin he’s going to thunder her, but she is saying she can control his thunder too.” Junha explains the elaborate scenario he’s building and Baekhyun blinks at him.

“She’s scarlet witch, not scary witch.” He simply says.

“She’s is a scary witch too.”

Baekhyun presses his lips into a thin line and takes a deep breath.

“Completely valid, friend. You win.”

Junha leans his head into the crook of Baekhyun’s neck with joy that he’s not sure how to verbalize and Baekhyun kisses his hair again.

“What do you want for dinner?” He asks.

“I dunno, you can d’side.”

“I can decide, huh?” Baekhyun murmurs to himself, rocking Junha back and forth. “I can decide… I can decide…” He sings as he swings around in circles and Jun rolls his eyes and tries to get down, but Baekhyun is teasing him still as he sings and dances. “What? What are you doing, wiggle worm? You told me I could decide! I decide I want to dance and sing!”

“No! Dinner not a dancing!” Junha laughs, dramatically throwing his head from side to side as Baekhyun sways in circles.

“Dinner not dancing? What about dancing not dinner?!” Baekhyun sings and Junha giggles joyously again.

It takes a Junha yelling out to snap him out of their little world and Baekhyun turns to see Junha’s tall, gorgeous father standing in the doorway to the kitchen watching them with a grin.

“Oh, hey, I didn’t know you were home.” Baekhyun offers softly as he glances over and clears his throat.

“I love coming home to the sound of my son laughing every day.” He says, crossing the space between them in a few long strides.

He places his hand on Junha’s back lovingly and then pats Baekhyun on the top of the head once before promptly removing his hand.

“Dinner not a dancing!” Junha says to his dad.

“Dinner isn’t dancing.” Baekhyun confirms, swaying Junha again.

Chanyeol joins in on the swaying, staring at Junha with wide eyes and a playful grin.

“I think it could be though…” He says in a teasing lilt.

Junha reaches for Chanyeol and then man frees him in one practiced swoop to place him on his own hip and dance with him around the room. Baekhyun pulls his eyes from the sight of them because it’s honestly doing strange things to his heart. He tries to focus intently on the contents of the refrigerator but the giggles of Jun so close pull at his curious heart. He reads out ingredients purposefully and Chanyeol comes closer.

“Olives, Dijon mustard, raspberry preserves, celery sticks, Gochujang, egg, milk, yakult, SpongeBob yogurt…”

“I don’t know what you’re planning on making with that, but I think we’re going to skip if it’s okay with you.” Chanyeol chuckles.

Baekhyun straightens his spine to turn and glare at Chanyeol.

“I have no intention of using all of those ingredients in one dish.”

“I mean you can if you want.”

Chanyeol’s voice is teasing, his eyes full of mirth and for just a moment, Baekhyun is sidetracked watching the man. His attention is turned back towards Jun now and they’re discussing being hungry as Chanyeol pretends to eat at Jun’s fist with dramatic nibbling sounds. Perhaps this can be enough. Perhaps just being part of this little world can be enough for him. But there’s still the part of himself that longs to reach out and slide his hand around Chanyeol’s waist right now and join in. But that’s a move too intimate. The appliance left open starts to sing to let Baekhyun know the cold air is escaping and he closes the door to the refrigerator and walks towards the cabinet.

“Spaghetti?” Chanyeol asks.

“Park Chanyeol, you cannot have spaghetti every night of your life.”

“I mean… I could… but it’s okay if you don’t want that.” Chanyeol replies with a chuckle.

“No S’ghetti.” Jun agrees.

“You love spaghetti!” Chanyeol yells in indignation.

Baekhyun looks at Junha and gives him a grin and a thumbs up. This pulls a shy head tilt out of the small child and Baekhyun has an irrational pull to steal Junha from his dad and swing him around again. He really loves this kid.

“Pizza?” Chanyeol asks.

“Why do you have the palette of a 12-year-old?” Baekhyun asks, realizing he’s laughing from the pull of his cheeks.

Chanyeol sticks his tongue out in response.

“Filet Mignon?” He asks Junha.

“Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!” The little one sings.

“Okay, let’s do that!” Chanyeol cheers.

“We have food here we need to eat, Chanyeol. I don’t want it to go bad so I’m going to stay in and cook.” Baekhyun says softly and walks back to the refrigerator.

There is silence from the other side of the kitchen for so long that he’s almost sure that Chanyeol has left the room. When he grabs carrots and onion and pulls them free and places them on the counter to see the man staring, he furrows his brows.


Chanyeol’s eyes travel over him so briefly that he almost gets his hopes up, his breath catches at the studied sweep, and he swallows hard. What does he see when he looks at Baekhyun? What does he want from him now that they’re playing this chastity game?

“What are you making?” He asks.

“Probably curry.”

Chanyeol gives a curt nod and a smile and then turns.

“Call us when dinner is ready.” He says and walks out of the kitchen heading towards the wing with their bedrooms.


Chanyeol is giving him pleasant roommate energy only. This is what he wanted, and this is what he asked for. But the way he makes it look so easy… it hurts a little too…

Chanyeol peeks around the corner of the counter window and watches Baekhyun cooking. Junha is gathering his favorite toys for a movie on the couch now making soft sounds of self-talk from down the hall. He’s in the living room alone, watching Baekhyun move around with his apron snapped in place around his slender neck, the white cord knotted around his waist, and he loves this quiet moment of domesticity more than he should. He loves the expression on Baekhyun’s face, all serious as he continues flitting about expertly like he’s always been in this kitchen, like he’s always belonged in this kitchen, like this is really his home now. He looks like he belongs and Chanyeol thinks, not for the first time, how much he wishes he could tell him. The man belongs in this life with him, in his home, holding his son and dancing in this kitchen without a care in the world. This is the way it’s supposed to be, he just knows it but he’s gotta keep his cool because Baekhyun doesn’t want anything more than a job. And he’s so thankful that he at least is on board with being a nanny. Not just because Junha genuinely loves Baekhyun, and the man is so good at taking care of his son. It’s also because he loves being able to spend time around him like this. So instead of stepping into the kitchen and pulling him up onto the counter to make out with him, he chants the words “Junmyeon’s brother. Junmyeon’s brother.” over and over in his head trying to convince himself in any way possible that Baekhyun is off limits. Even though he’s not Junmyeon’s brother. Even though he’s perfect. Even though they had been so close to taking this very relationship further just a few weeks prior. Even though Chanyeol still lies in bed at night and fantasizes about this man every night.

Baekhyun twists his hips as he hums to himself, his voice melodic and pretty and Chanyeol leans on the counter window now, watching with what he’s sure must be the dreamiest expression on his face. He watches the swell of his hips and fights back the growl of need that it pulls deep in his stomach. He feels the pulse of his co*ck and takes long steadied breaths to tame his arousal. “Junmyeon’s brother… Junmyeon’s brother…”

“Daddy, why are you sleeping?” Jun asks, having gathered his toys, and come into the living room.

“I’m not buddy, I was just resting while Baekhyun makes us dinner.”

Baekhyun glances over his shoulder and Chanyeol gives his best platonic, non-sexual pining, we’re-just-friends smile. The man seems slightly concerned but turns back to stirring at the stove, the aromatic onion, carrot, and potato scent in the air makes the home feel so much more homey. In truth, some of the previous nannies had cooked too. But he had no desire to sit and watch them make food. A few times the nannies have had a bit of a crush on him, and he’s known it to a certain extent. But the truth is that he’s only ever had crush on one woman in his life and that was Junha’s mother. Other than that, he’s never really had women he wanted. He was convinced he was gay until he mether. And even then, he was never sure he was in love with her as much as just wanting to be around her and be with her and share in her light. He can’t bring himself to regret her because she gave him Junha. But to this day… he’s never been sure he felt anything truly romantic for any woman. And that was a hard line to draw with his nannies. Not because he had any interest in acting but because sometimes, they had misread his kindness as something more. But for once, he has feelings towards a nanny, and he wants to act on it… And he absolutely can’t.

He’s even selfishly delved into the thought process of wondering if he should hire a new nanny. Then Baekhyun wouldn’t feel obligated to keep distance and he could simply move in with him. But of course, that was a terrible thought process because 1. He doesn’t know if Baekhyun would even want to move in and 2. He should respect Baekhyun’s wishes and give him the space he requests without trying to come up with convoluted plans just because he can’t keep his raging hormones under check. But Baekhyun is so much what he’s never known he wants. He’s stepped into his life like a dream breathed into existence and it’s distracting and it’s frustrating and somehow, it’s still perfection.

Junha snuggles in at his side with his stuffed hulk and his doraemon toy. His little body fits compactly against Chanyeol’s hip and he pulls up his tiny knobby knees to his chin as Chanyeol gets the movie ready.

“Lady and the Tramp, right?” He confirms once more as Disney+ opens on the 85-inch OLED TV screen.

“Yes please.”

Chanyeol feels his expression relax into a smile at the soft sound of the tired voice. He gently pulls the throw blanket from the back of the couch to his lap and spreads it over Jun. The little one is already transfixed on the screen in anticipation, and he rests one hand on his head and hits play.

“I love you.” Junha whispers.

“I love you too little man.”

And this is what keeps him going against all odds. If he never falls in love again or if he just keeps falling deeper and deeper into Baekhyun’s pull with unrequited feelings mounting, then so be it. He will always put this little person first. He’ll always think of this tiny beating heart curled into his side first. So, if Baekhyun can’t be with him and work for him, he’s just going to have to become a really good actor and pretend there’s nothing there. Even though there is. Even though. Even still.

By the time dinner is ready, Junha is zonked out asleep. Baekhyun comes into the living room with his apron on and his whole face twists into a grin at the sight of Junha sleeping soundly. He tiptoes over and reaches out for him and Chanyeol gets ready to stop him and tell him not to worry but he can’t deny Baekhyun the joy it seems to bring him. Junha stirs slightly until he registers Baekhyun is picking him up and he instinctively curls around him and rests his head on his shoulder. Baekhyun strokes his hair absently, the boy resting on his hip, collapsed safely to his chest, melting at the trust that Junha has bestowed him with. Chanyeol gets to his feet and stands beside them, leaning down intentionally close to Baekhyun to kiss the top of Junha’s head good night.

“I’ll make plates while you put him down.” He whispers.

Baekhyun nods absently, still distracted and swaying softly with Jun, carefully looking around as he makes his way from the room and down the hall. Chanyeol watches them disappear and wonders in vain what it would be like to have a husband like this. What would it be like to have a partner to face life with that could be trusted to care for a child with and curl into bed with. Someone that Junha loves. Someone to hold in the dark.

Junmyeon is stirring his tea slowly, pearl handled spoon elegantly perched between his fingers as he looks over Chanyeol. The man is both the most authentically himself that he has been since before Junha was conceived and simultaneously a constricted ball of muscles.

“Still no progress, huh?”

Chanyeol has the distinct twitch of his mouth that is associated to discomfort, but he says nothing in response.

“Tell me, do you just jerk off every moment of every day?” Junmyeon says patiently, clattering his spoon against his teacup louder than necessary.

“I am perfectly healthy in my own sexual wellness practices.” Chanyeol replies curtly.

Even as he says it, his jaw is tight, and his chest rises and falls visibly in a great show of heaving in a breath to release. And yet, there’s something about the way he’s reclined in the chair, shoulders back with his legs crossed, ankle to knee, that seems so much more composed than usual. Something is working for him in this twisted new plan they have going on.

“Be honest, you’re dying inside. Have you tried to talk to him about this? You’re obsessed with the man.”

Chanyeol snorts in response but his cheeks color anyway.

“I think you’re the one obsessed. You talk about him more than I do.”

Junmyeon co*cks an eyebrow and stares pointedly long enough for Chanyeol to squirm.

“Do you really want to go there?”

“No. I hear you, but he wants this to be strictly professional.”

Junmyeon takes a long sip from the antique cup and waves over the waiter to request more lavender blueberry macarons.

“I doubt the man who invited you into the kitchen to feast on his little tit* is worried about professionalism as much as you are.”

Chanyeol colors deeply now, face planting in his hands.

“I knew I shouldn’t have told you about that.”

“I’m just saying, Yeol. The man is smitten with you too. The pair of you orbit one another still just with a weird new buffer of sexual tension.”

Chanyeol starts picking at the crust of his sandwich absently as he stares blankly at the table.

“He has a point, Junmyeon. What’s best for Junha is stability. If we don’t work out, then he loses that stability.”

“So, what’s endgame then?” Junmyeon asks, slumping back in the green velvet chair in the tea café with a harrumph. “Hmm? Let’s run through this, shall we? You two keep playing this poppyco*ck game of cat and mouse indefinitely and then wait until Junha is 18 and running off to college to consummate the relationship? That’s absolute bull and you know it. First of all, you won’t last that long before you two give in and pounce on one another and second of all, you’re still running the same risk of Junha getting hurt by losing Baekhyun. You’re just waiting a nice and long time for him to be completely engraved into the bedrock of your lives before snapping him from his world. So, I ask again, what the hell is the end game?”

Junmyeon accepts the tray of macarons absently with a thank you, not tearing his eyes from Chanyeol. Chanyeol in turn is staring at him, eyes hard and dark.

“Why does it matter so much to you?” He asks. “Why are you so invested in my sex life?”

“I’m invested in my best friend and my Godson’s parent’s life because you deserve happiness, clearly.”

The classical music cuts out briefly for an announcement and the two sit in silence as they wait for the voice over the loudspeaker to cut out before continuing.

“Face it, Chanyeol. You haven’t been serious with anyone since…her. And that was a giant clusterf*ck. You absolutely deserve happiness and that man living in your house with you brings you more joy than I’ve ever seen before. And I don’t know the guy well, but he has the look in his eyes when he watches you, that I imagine moths get in theirs when they see a damn LED bulb on a summer night.”

“He’s the one that asked for distance. I was ready to throw it all away and f*ck on the couch. I’m just being respectful of him.” He says tossing a completely shredded sandwich to his plate in frustration.

“Have you talked since? Have you checked that nothing has changed? Hell, have you talked more about the fears he has and what other solutions there could be? Yeah, I get you don’t want to feel like you’re coercive but there’s also something to be said about laying the cards all out. Have you told him you’re falling for him?”

Chanyeol shakes his head.

“I’m scared.”

Junmyeon takes a moment to mull it over.

“You decide what you want to do. And I won’t judge you for it. But I also don’t want to see you lose an opportunity to be with your possible soulmate over fear on both sides that might not be for anything in the end. If you like him and he likes you and you get on living together already and he loves your kid, then why the hell don’t you just say, ‘I like you, I’m falling, I want to date you.’ And move on?”

“Then it’s kind of prostitution-like though, isn’t it? Paying him and sleeping with him?”

Junmyeon winces and shakes his head.

“Weird but… I think I see where you’re coming from with that. But he’s still working for you. That’s separate. Also, couldn’t he just be doing the job of a stepdad and living rent free? He hasn’t spent a great deal of time practicing being a lifelong nanny. Maybe he’d be fine just taking some time off to be on stepdad duty for a while. I’m just saying that there are options.”

Chanyeol’s phone rings and his eyes soften as he reaches for it. It’s immediately evident who it is from the lighting of his pinched expression, the pep in his voice and the secretive smirk on his lips.

“Yeah, of course, Baekhyun. I can’t wait to see it.” He says.

Junmyeon raises a brow and mouths “what?” at him which he waves off.

“That’s so cute. I love it. I’m so excited.” He keeps saying. “Yeah, I can’t wait to see it. Yeah…. Okay, I’ll see you when I get home… talk to you later.”

Chanyeol stares at the phone a moment after the call ends and Junmyeon waits expectantly.

“Sorry, Baekhyun wanted to tell me about Junha’s school art project. He’s freaking out because he’s so excited. He was going to text me a picture but now he thinks it’ll be more fun to torture me in anticipation.”

Junmyeon picks up his teacup again and slowly sips tea before setting it down and responding.

“Yeah, he’s good at building anticipation alright. Have you ever thought that maybe he’s not used to being pursued and he’s testing the water to see how serious you are about him? I mean look at this from another perspective – you like him, and he likes you. The thing that’s holding you both back is fear that something won’t go right, and I respect that, I do. I love that you’re trying to be considerate of hurting Junha’s feelings too. But have you thought about the caveat to that? What about the life you could give Junha is he has two parents? What about the life you can give Junha if he’s not being cared for by nannies all the time but knowing that he’s got two parents that put him at the center of their world? What kind of positives could be in wait here for Junha? You’re right that this is a tricky situation. But it could also simplify into the absolute best-case scenario too. So just try to think about this a little more? He drew that line in the sand for a reason and it’s okay to talk to him and get to know that reason too.”

Chanyeol shrugs.

“I don’t know… I just know that I love being able to tell him I’ll see him when I get home and even more so than that, I love coming home to him. And maybe that can just be enough too.”

Junmyeon grins, letting out a groan with his head tossed back.

“You’re going to drive me crazy, but I’ll stop pestering you. Just promise me you’ll tell me how amazing it is after you two finally bang it out sloppily in the house.”

“That will not be happening.” Chanyeol says curtly, eyes longing and saddened by the statement.

“Yet.” Junmyeon corrects with a smirk.

Chanyeol doesn’t amend him this time, enjoying the thought of it too much and fake crying for his friend’s amusem*nt. Junmyeon chuckles and shakes his head softly as he pops a half-eaten macaron into his mouth to end on a sweet note.

“Aat! Aat!” Baekhyun swats lightly at Junha’s hand as he reaches for another plate off of the revolving sushi belt. “Eat these two plates first.”

Junha sticks out his bottom lip in protest.

“Look at that! I could park a car on that pouty lip! But you’re not going to change my mind. Eat these sushi first and then I’ll make sure you get grilled scallop with mayo. I promise. Eat.”

Chanyeol chuckles at Junha’s side and looks over at his son.

“Do you think Baekhyun will yell at Daddy if I try to get another plate too?” He asks.

Baekhyun holds a hard glare across the table at Chanyeol and he chuckles lightly as Junha giggles and dips his Chutoro into a puddle of soy sauce.

Chanyeol gingerly reaches for a plate of eel and Baekhyun pops his hand, this time not holding back.

“Ouch!” He yelps pulling back and mock crying.

“You see? It’s not just you. Baekhyun is strict with Daddy too!” He laughs.

Baekhyun lowers his voice and leans forward on the table.

“Don’t teach him bad manners, Chanyeol. He needs to learn to take only what he can eat.”

Chanyeol leans on his hand and stares at Baekhyun with a soft smile for long enough that Baekhyun looks away flustered.

“Eat.” Baekhyun says quietly and turns to the tablet to place an order.

Junha looks between his dad and Baekhyun for a long time and then takes another bite of sushi thoughtfully. Chanyeol is about to take a bite when Junha speaks up and halts both Baekhyun and Chanyeol.

“Is Baekh’un gonna be my new mom?”

Baekhyun’s eyes are wide as he looks straight ahead at Junha with his mouth completely hung open.

“What?” Chanyeol asks.

“Yuna at school has’a new mom ‘cause hers Dad has a new friend. Yuna said hers Dad’s friend is living at theirs house now too. So is Baekh’unnie is mine new Mom?”

“N—” Baekhyun starts but Chanyeol interrupts him.

“Would you like that?” Chanyeol asks, genuinely interested.

Junha looks at Baekhyun for a long moment and then nods his head.

“I like Baekh’un.”

Chanyeol pats his head in gentle strokes.

“Baekhyun is a nanny right now. Just like before, remember Lisa?” Chanyeol clarifies and laughs lightly as Baekhyun sighs in relief across the table.

“But Daddy is not friend with Lisa. Baekh’unnie is yours friend.”

Chanyeol slumps back in his seat with a beatific grin and nods his head.

“That’s true, Junha! You have a very good point.” Chanyeol looks across the table at Baekhyun and they hold their eyes in a fevered lock.

Chanyeol tries to communicate just how much he would sacrifice in this moment just to crawl across the table and make Baekhyun his. He watches the rise and fall of Baekhyun’s chest and feels his throat starting to parch in the desire that pools in his belly, just thinking about how nice it would be to reach over, and trace the line between his pecs…

“A new mom, huh?” Chanyeol whispers.

Baekhyun swallows hard, his adam’s apple bobbing in milky white lines that beg for tasting.

“I finish’d mine sushi. I can have more, please?” Junha says offering his plates to Baekhyun with both hands.

“Wow!” Baekhyun says eyes bright. “You ate all of them? And you’re still hungry??”

Junha is bashful as Baekhyun takes the plates from him and feeds them into the slot with a touch to his nose. This sends Junha into a twisty little dance at Chanyeol’s side, silky hair flailing with his bobbing head.

“Do you want me to order you the scallop sushi now?”

Chanyeol is still leaning back against the booth as he watches the two interacting. No more are they awkward or out of step. They are a well-oiled machine of friendship, trust, and love for one another now. In a few short months, they’ve fallen into a pattern and he’s starting to wonder if maybe Junmyeon has a point… Maybe they could make this work. Could they be a modern family with two dads and a home and maybe a dog? What if he’s right and this is the thing that Junha is missing? Hell, is that what Junha wants? Does he want this to be more than just a nanny situation? Can Junha feel the chemistry between them and sense there is friendship here and… maybe feelings? He’s so young, there’s no way he can understand the complexity of the relationship, but he knows what love feels like. He knows what love looks like. Is that what he’s picking up?

Baekhyun is chuckling softly, eyes bright as he jokes around with Junha about eating nemo as they split a plate of ikura sushi and Chanyeol stuffs his mouth with food to keep himself from getting too brave and deciding to confess his feelings in a moment of passion. Even if he did decide to pursue Baekhyun again… there would have to be consideration and care put into his confession. He doesn’t want it to be an ambush. He doesn’t want it to be thoughtless. But Junmyeon is right, it does get harder not to cross the line with every day that passes. The more time they spend together the more their electricity crackles. He decides that he’s going to take the plunge tonight and open up dialogue with Baekhyun again. If nothing else, just to get him to explain more about his history with dating and… maybe help him understand what this line is really about. After dinner Baekhyun is wrapping a wool scarf around Junha’s neck and the two begin to swing their held hands with theatrical sways of their bodies as Chanyeol pays.

“Thank you for dinner!” Baekhyun cheers as he approaches.

“Thank you’a dinner!” Junha copies at his side.

Chanyeol reaches down to scoop up Junha to kiss his forehead and says, “You’re welcome!” and then pulls Baekhyun into his side to kiss the top of his head and repeats “You’re welcome!” Junha is distracted by the lights in the street as they walk towards the car, but Chanyeol watches intently as Baekhyun’s eyes flicker to his for a half thought before nervously falling back to the road. His soft cheeks are burning with heat before the cool fall air can slip in and he’s confident that the bite to his cheek is to hide a smile.

Baekhyun opens the backseat door at the car and lets Chanyeol deposit Jun in his car seat to be strapped in before he runs around to start the car and get it warmed up. Baekhyun checks the car seat latches after securing them in with snaps before stepping up to the front seat to crawl in. Chanyeol immediately hits the button for both of the seat warmers in the front seat and he catches the way the man in his passenger seat clears his throat and whispers a soft thank you.

Traveling through the city, Junha is singing his little song in the back seat while playing with his Rocket Racoon and Groot toys. Chanyeol takes the opportunity to reach across the center console and touch Baekhyun’s thigh modestly just to get his attention, removing the touch immediately so as not to muddy his pure intent.

“Hey, I was wondering if maybe…”

He glances over when he feels Baekhyun’s stare on his profile, but the man’s expression remains neutral and unreadable.

“Maybe you wanted to have a glass of wine and talk tonight?”

“Not coffee? Isn’t that usually your go to for evening chitchat?” Baekhyun replies coolly.

When he takes another glance, he can see a smile touching the man’s expression and softening his eyes.

“I can do coffee if you prefer. They invented decaf for me specifically to answer my late-night coffee cravings I think.”

One beautiful hand comes out and swats his shoulder absently and the men relax a little into their playful moods. Conversation starts to flow easily suddenly and Baekhyun opens up about Junha’s bedtime song preferences and the way that he honestly cannot watch Antman even one more time or he’s going to develop real feelings of dislike towards Paul Rudd as an actor from sheer overexposure. Chanyeol is lulled by the sound of his voice in the cabin so close to him as darkness starts to settle on the city. He follows Baekhyun to bath time while they continue to talk and Chanyeol tells him about the new office worker that insists on doing squats at her desk every day.

“Honestly, you can’t say anything about it because good for her for being so in shape and committed, you know? She’s at her own desk and she’s not harming anyone. But the thing is that I keep getting complaints from other female employees that she shouldn’t be allowed to do it at her desk because they feel that it’s unprofessional. Which you know… would I appreciate it my employees were on the floor doing squats when the VP walks through? No, it probably looks a little chaotic.”

Baekhyun scoops Junha from the tub and wraps him in a Grogu towel.

“But I understand, on the other hand… Is it fair that she’s being singled out for this?” Baekhyun agrees as he towel dries the little one’s hair.

“Exactly, HR and I were discussing it and it’s really a tough spot for me to be in because if I say something to her when she’s not doing anything wrong then I’m putting her in an uncomfortable spot. If I don’t address it, that’s going to create rumors about how management doesn’t listen. And the women have said that they’ve noticed some of their male coworkers taking break during her squat sessions which really makes me uncomfortable because I feel like those are the people, I should be singling out, but they won’t name names.”

Baekhyun looks thoughtful as he scoops up Junha expertly in a princess cradle, bundled in his towel like a burrito and kisses his forehead.

“So, you don’t watch her do squats?”

Chanyeol narrows his eyes at him.


Baekhyun shrugs one shoulder.

“Do you ever watch her? What does she wear when she does squats? Yoga pants? A skirt?”

Chanyeol shakes his head.

“No, never. She’s always immaculately dressed in slacks for work, and I’ve never seen her do it on days she wears a skirt. She’s not doing it to be watched. She just sets a reminder to do squats in the morning.”

Baekhyun glances up at him but keeps his attention on helping Junha choose his pajamas.

“I’m serious.” Chanyeol adds.

“Backwards, remember the tag—” Baekhyun says to Junha.

“Tag is in the back” Junha sings in response, turning his pajama pants around to step into them the right way.

“Smarty pants.” Baekhyun boops Jun’s nose and then gets to his feet with the damp towel. “I just mean, Chanyeol, that you seem to know what she looks like when she does squats so are you one of the men who watches her?”

Chanyeol takes the towel from Baekhyun and tosses it over his shoulder.

“No. I am not.” He snips, crossing his arms over his chest.

“You seem a little touchy there. You sure you’re not feeling guilty?” Baekhyun teases as he crawls up to Junha’s bedside.

Chanyeol huffs and shakes his head.

“That’s insulting.” He says frankly, leaning down to tuck in Jun and kiss his forehead. “Goodnight Junha and only Junha.”

Baekhyun giggles and pushes Chanyeol away so that they can have their bedtime routine together. He lingers in the doorway as Baekhyun strokes Junha’s hair gently and reads him the story of the stinky cheese man for what has to be the hundredth time this week.

Baekhyun is cautious as he creeps from the dark room, careful not to wake up the little one as he inches the door mostly closed. Having put down one Park, he turns down the hall and gets ready to face another, unsure of what is awaiting him. When he gets to the living room though, he’s pretty sure he’s stepped into an actual wet dream. Nina Simone is playing on the record player and Chanyeol has the fire blazing. The tall man is reclined on the couch in navy blue silk pajamas with his hair falling into his eyes as he reads his kindle, a glass of red wine in his free hand. The skyline of flickering city lights behind him adds a touch of cool light to the otherwise warm ambiance that practically has him floating towards Chanyeol like a leaf caught on a breeze.

He’s fairly certain that the kiss to his head was meant as a familial gesture earlier since it was a mirror of how he’d kissed his son just seconds before but part of him was hoping that it meant something more. Then again, maybe he was genuinely mad about his comments over the exercise lady from his office and he’s doing all of this to calm down, so he doesn’t fire Baekhyun.

“He’s down.” Baekhyun offers as he enters the room.

Chanyeol looks up with glasses perched on his nose and smiles.

“Perfect, thank you so much Nanny Baekhyun.”

Baekhyun smiles sheepishly and shuffles towards the couch. Chanyeol flips his kindle cover closed and places it on the table.

“Did you want coffee or wine?”

Baekhyun shakes his head and sits down at a distance. Without skipping a beat, Chanyeol scoots a little closer.

“I don’t check out women in my office because I’m not interested in women, Baekhyun.” He says pointedly without skipping a beat.

He sinks into the cushion at his side and they both turn towards one another.

“You say that, but you did also make a baby with a woman you were dating.” Baekhyun points out.

“That’s valid. You know, I did fall in love with her. I just didn’t realize until too late that the love I was feeling for her wasn’t romantic. I was in love with her vibrance and the way she made me feel. She was very special—”

“I get it, she was very special to you.” Baekhyun cuts him off, looking down at his fingers as he starts to pick at his thumb nail.

“Don’t be jealous.” Chanyeol says softly.

“I’m not jealous.” Baekhyun quips defiantly, even though he knows that’s a lie.

Chanyeol reaches forward and touches the point of his chin with one finger to lift his gaze back up.

“Don’t lie to me, Baekhyun. We’ve come too far for that.”

He searches those dark round eyes behind his glossy Prada frames for assurance that this isn’t about to head into a familiar territory.

“I mean I might be a little jealous. Whatever. But you don’t have to go on and on about how amazing your ex-girlfriend is. This magical woman who made you throwaway your gay pride with her unique special amazingness. It’s just…I don’t know…”

“I can bash her if you want. Do you want me to talk sh*t about her?”

Baekhyun smirks and rolls his eyes.

“No seriously. I’ve worn out every nice thing I can say about her. But if you have a few hours, I can tell you all the things I hate about her and how she and I can never be friends again because she shred every single good thing we ever shared into a million little pieces when she abandoned her son. I have absolutely nothing for her because there’s not a single excuse in the world that I can sympathize with. Even, let’s just say that she did it in a moment of kindness because she was sick. She could have written him a letter saying goodbye so he had something. But she isn’t dying, Baekhyun. The last we heard she was traveling through Italy. She abandoned him. You can’t tell me you’d forgive anyone who doesn’t treat my Park Junha with the respect and love he deserves.”

Baekhyun’s eyes are fixed in equal parts surprise and interest on Chanyeol who takes a swig of wine and heaves a deep sigh.

“Anyway. Enough about her. Your turn. Tell me what the deal is with you.”

“What do you mean? My deal with what?”

“Tell me about you.” Chanyeol pleads softly. “Exes, family, school… anything you want to share.”

“Well, my exes are all men.” Baekhyun says. “And they’re all… I don’t know, they’re not you know, impressive or anything. Some are good people, and some were abusers who didn’t treat me well, so I left.”

Chanyeol reaches across the back of the couch towards Baekhyun’s head, and he swallows heavily.

“What do you mean by abusers?”

“I mean I’ve been with your run of the mill. I’ve been with straight guys in the closet who were so loving and intimate and sweet to me when we were alone but would turn around and pepper me with hom*ophobic slurs whenever we would fight. I’ve been with guys that are out but they’re extremely controlling and have this macho thing going where they date me because they want me to be this submissive, femme little twink and that’s just not me so they become irate and throw things around and have tantrums. I’ve been with really nice guys that I was just with because they were kind to me, but we really didn’t have any chemistry, they weren’t fulfilling me as a lover or partner and were more like just a friend that I had mediocre sex with. I’ve even done the quickies thing where I slumped into hookup culture and just let anyone get it for a while, but I don’t know… that isn’t really me either. I was constantly getting tested and paranoid I was going to end up with the wrong person’s home. It’s just a lot of stress and I didn’t really have the leisure to be that careless when I needed to be working as much as possible to try to make ends meet. I don’t know if I have any special stories of some special person.”

Chanyeol takes another swig of wine and stretches his neck, twisting it so that it cracks on each side.

“You just let anyone get it?” He asks.

“Don’t worry though, I’m clean. I didn’t mean like… I got tested after the last time I was with someone.”

Chanyeol doesn’t say anything, he just nods his head and focusses on swirling his wine in his glass.

“I’m sorry. I know I’m not really an idea candidate to be your Manny. I’m a gross homeless slu*t. I just—”

“When was the last time?”


Chanyeol looks up at him and he catches his breath and the intensity of his dark eyes, the firelight dancing in the reflection of his glasses with his long lashes fanned out in a dark line at half-mast.

“When was the last time you were with someone, Baekhyun.”

Baekhyun swallows hard, unable to look away.

“M—maybe like a month before I moved in with you.”

“Is that what happened?” Chanyeol asks.

Baekhyun’s brows pull, and he tilts his head slightly.


Chanyeol downs the rest of his wine and places the glass on the table to lean in a little closer.

“Did you move in here with me? Or did you move in here for a job?”

Baekhyun can smell his ambrosial breaths across the space between them now, his body heat pulling him in where their bodies almost meet on this aphrodisiac couch that always pulls them in. The crackle of the fire snapping brings his attention back to the question.

“Originally… I moved in here to be near you.”

Chanyeol’s finger strokes along the edge of Baekhyun’s shoulder where it’s resting against the couch and Baekhyun almost leans into the touch.

“I… realized though that I love this job so I’m here now for the job.”

“Is that all you’re here for, Baekhyun?”

Baekhyun sighs and realizes that the sound is trembling.

“Don’t do this, Chanyeol. You’re just lonely.”

“I am lonely, Baekhyun.”

“And drunk.”

“I might be a little drunk.” Chanyeol concedes.

“So don’t do this. Don’t cross the line because you’re horny and drunk and I just happen to be here and be an easy target.”

“An easy target?” Chanyeol snorts.

Baekhyun bristles at the mocking in his tone.

“You think you’re easy? Easy is a guy on an app who comes over and gives me head and leaves. You’re the exact opposite of that. I don’t think I’ve ever worked this hard not to sleep with someone.”

Baekhyun gets to his feet suddenly with a huff and storms off to the kitchen.

“Maybe I do need something to drink.” He grumbles.

He marches to the Keurig and starts the hot water boiling as he grabs a mug from the cabinet. It doesn’t take long before he hears Chanyeol enter the room behind him. The glass collides with the countertop in a scrape behind him and he tries to take a steadied breath.

“I don’t think I said that right.” Chanyeol whispers from behind him.

His big hands come in against Baekhyun’s arms in soft strokes and his presence at his back swallows him in shadow and heat.

“What did you mean then? You’ve been walking around here all this time like you’ve completely forgotten that we almost f*cked and now you’re trying to seduce me on the couch with a bottle of wine and glasses on and… It’s kind of rude that you have to get drunk just to try to sleep with me.”

“You think I’ve forgotten?” Chanyeol scoffs.

He inches a step closer and Baekhyun feels the outline of the man’s hard co*ck against his back and takes a shuttered breath as his brows climb his forehead in surprise.

“You think I haven’t thought about every moment with you on a daily basis? You think I don’t lay in bed at night touching myself thinking about your mouth on me? You told me to be professional, so I’ve been professional, Baekhyun.” Chanyeol’s mouth comes in against his hair and he lets out hot breaths against his scalp that send shivers down his spine. “You’ve got me so worked up without a single touch every day and you think I need wine to sleep with you? No, I need wine to have something to blame if I accidentally touch you when my sober brain would convince me not to. I haven’t forgotten.”

Baekhyun turns around to face Chanyeol and he corners him against the counter.

“Then why do you make it look so easy? You haven’t been acting like you’re struggling with these feelings. You’ve just been making it look effortless to move on and forget me…”

Chanyeol’s face comes in closer, the black hair of his bangs tickling Baekhyun’s forehead. He catches his breath and turns his head, leaning into the proximity as the anticipatory cinching of space gets his heart rate up. Chanyeol licks his lips and Baekhyun can hear his hard breathing in their shared proximity.

“I didn’t want you to leave. I need you here with us.”

“You need me, or you need me to watch Jun.”

Chanyeol swallows and his nose brushes the tip of Baekhyun’s.

“f*ck. I need you, Baekhyun. I know Junha needs you around but I’m losing my f*cking mind trying to pretend I don’t want you.”

Baekhyun moans softly at the words and reaches for Chanyeol’s hips.

“But what if we f*ck tonight and then things are awkward in the morning, Chanyeol?”

Chanyeol scrapes Baekhyun up against his body and he realizes that Baekhyun is unbuttoning his silk pajama shirt.

“Awkward because we have to put on clothes and face my son like we didn’t make each other cum all night? I might even call out of work and f*ck you all day tomorrow.”

Baekhyun hums in appreciation as he pulls open the fabric to run his fingers up over his chest. Chanyeol looks like he’s going to lose it right there as his eyes roll back in his head and he hisses a breath between his teeth.

“But what about exercise woman at work, you can’t call out when she needs your support.” Baekhyun says.

Chanyeol holds onto Baekhyun’s hips and rocks against him.

“I don’t care. f*ck everything, I just want you.”

“That’s just the wine talking.” Baekhyun whispers kissing his collarbone softly.

Chanyeol moans loudly and Baekhyun throws back his head to watch his expression as he slowly lowers his hand down the man’s body and wraps his hand around his erection.

“f*ck.” Chanyeol hisses and Baekhyun grins up at him as he sinks forward into him.

Baekhyun tilts his chin up expectantly and meets Chanyeol’s eyes. His blown-out eyes study him in soft licks of his lashes falling over him in praise before he lowers his mouth so that Baekhyun can reach him. His lips fit to Baekhyun’s softly and pull on the taste like he’s sucking breath from him. The tall man is moaning softly into the kiss when they both hear a clicking sound and they stop.

“Was that a door?” Chanyeol whimpers against Baekhyun’s mouth breathlessly.

Baekhyun pushes at Chanyeol and fixes his erection against the band of his belt to run towards the hall just in time to scoop up a sniffling Junha. Turning the child away from the disheveled father standing in the kitchen, he strokes the back of his hair tenderly with soft soothing sounds.

“Shhh… It’s okay, buddy… You’re okay…”

Chanyeol buttons his shirt haphazardly and walks to the sink to splash cold water on his face with a grin and a shake of his head.

“I’m going to go lie down with him.” Baekhyun says.

“I’ll be there in a minute.” Chanyeol replies and they hold each other’s gaze as Baekhyun rocks Junha softly.

He walks to the bedroom and crawls into the bed backing up to the wall to allow plenty of space for Chanyeol to join. Sure enough, Chanyeol shows up a few minutes later looking a lot more composed and crawls under the comforter next to Junha. The little one is laying in between the two of them, his soft cries die down and he flips onto his back to hold one hand on Baekhyun and one on his father’s hand. Chanyeol watches Baekhyun in the dim light pouring in from the hallway. He smiles in the partial darkness and Baekhyun reaches over Junha’s head to touch the top of Chanyeol’s head in a soft pat, mouthing “Good night.”

Chanyeol closes his eyes contently and nuzzles into the touch and whispers back his good night. It doesn’t take long for Chanyeol’s breathing to slow down after all of the wine and eventfulness. He’s sleeping next to Junha in no time, leaving Baekhyun to watch the two of them. He’s glad that Junha stopped whatever this was. But also, what exactly was happening between them? What did Chanyeol mean when he said he needed Baekhyun? Did he mean just once to get it out of his system? Did he mean he needs him as a partner? Did he mean that there’s actually a chance for them? Because if there’s a chance for a real relationship here… Maybe he could be persuaded into taking things slow and letting himself admit he’s fallen in love with this little family.

Chanyeol woke up the next morning with Junha’s stirring at his side. The young park starts to toss and turn as he starts to wake, and his small feet end up in Chanyeol’s ribcage at some point. When Junha yawns, Chanyeol lets his eyes open to the sight of his son’s long lashes blinking away his sleep and his nanny’s sleeping face curled up on his other side.

“Is Baekh’un is a sleepy head?” Junha asks at full volume.

“He sure is…” Chanyeol says softly, reaching over to brush the man’s hair from his brow.

“Can I wake Baekh’un up?”

Chanyeol chuckles softly and starts to sit up on his side. His back feels like rock from sleeping squished in the full-sized bed with Baekhyun and Junha but he wouldn’t trade it for the world. He’s fairly sure he’s going to spend the rest of the day thinking about this perfect moment every time he wants to complain about a stiff neck today.

“I’m awake…” Baekhyun murmurs with his eyes still closed.

“Good morning.” Chanyeol gets to his feet and turns to extend his arms to Junha.

“It’s got to be past time to get ready for work.” He says to himself.

“Today is a holiday.” Baekhyun replies, rolling onto his back with his eyes still closed.

Chanyeol stops walking and smiles.

“Oh, yeah… Daddy had a bit of wine brain. I’m turning into your uncle Junmyeon.” He says to Junha.

“Uncles Junm’eon is a wine brain!” Junha laughs excitedly.

Chanyeol decides to give Baekhyun some time off this morning and gets Junha ready to go out with him. It doesn’t take long for him to feel Baekhyun’s presence near him though. He turns towards the man, unsure what face to give him, and smells his shampoo and cologne before he lays eyes on him. Baekhyun leans in close to him from the side and makes sure he grabs hold of his gaze.

“No more using wine to make bad decisions. Last night we both crossed the line.” He says.

“Well, I can use wine as an excuse. You were sober.” Chanyeol points out.

Baekhyun grabs an apple from the counter and bites into it.

“I may have taken advantage of you a little when you were inebriated. For that, I formally apologize. Shall I tenure my resignation?”

Chanyeol walks past him with a chuckle, carrying a plate of breakfast to Junha.

“I suppose I have to forgive you,” Chanyeol calls from the next room. “Since I started it.”

“I mean it, Chanyeol. We’re professional.” Baekhyun chides as he walks past them towards his own room.

“So, no more sleepovers together?” Chanyeol asks.

“I like sleepover with Baekh’un and Daddy.” Junha says.

Chanyeol stands to his full height and looks to Baekhyun expectantly. He waves to Junha and shrugs his shoulders in a “come on, how can you say no to this kid?” motion and Baekhyun sighs theatrically. His broad shoulders rise and fall in his tee shirt from the night before, unchanged from their evening out together for sushi as a family. His shift still carrying the memories of the heat they shared in the kitchen. Chanyeol can feel the drain from his thoughts as he starts to fixate again so he clears his throat softly and thinks of things that are less sexual like the cleaning solution. Cough syrup. Baking soda. He starts to make a mental list in case he needs to call upon these diffusers later.

“I mean it Chanyeol!” Baekhyun says sternly, turning his pretty petite frame from him with an attitude, but he catches that his pink cheeks are pulled tight in a huge grin when he walks into his room.

Chanyeol allows himself a few moments to watch the door. The thing is… he honestly cannot remember a time in his life where he was this excited to be around someone. Just teasing one another and skirting around feelings alone might not be special to someone else. But for Chanyeol, this is all new. The way that he feels when he’s around him is like nothing he can remember. For so long his life was just work and Park Junha. Now he can look back over the past few months and he has so much more filling his mind. Junha still takes up a majority share of the real estate of his heart, but the memories of shopping together or going to Junmyeon’s house, sometimes just standing around talking in the laundry room about Junha’s school or passing his son back and forth while doing chores around the house together… Baekhyun has taken up space too. It makes everything so much more fragile. But it also makes his that much hungrier to lock the man down and keep him to himself. That’s what it comes down to in the end, isn’t it? He wants to keep Baekhyun. Now the question is whether Baekhyun wants to stay.

When they return from going out together, Baekhyun is nowhere to be seen. His bedroom door is open, and his bed is half made but he’s not home. Chanyeol debates walking into the room to explore but decides that that would be an invasion of his privacy and simply closes the door, leaving the collection of water cups on the side table untouched. He does take a deep breath of the scent in the room though. Baekhyun smells… so sweet. The room has a fresh warm linen smell to it that comes from his Fuzzy Blanket Yankee Candle sitting on the dresser. His cologne swirls in the air every time he moves around the apartment and that tuberose and citrus scent is stronger here. It’s a little spicy and a little musky and it lives in his fantasies.

He wonders where Baekhyun went off to wearing his cologne. Who is he off to meet? Where will he grab a bite? Will he call to check in or will he leave Chanyeol to wonder all day about him just to torture him.

Junha is carrying his coloring book by the cover as he walks into the living room, looking at his dad curiously as he closes Baekhyun’s door in the world’s slowest pull until it latches.

“What are you doin’?” Junha asks, settling on the carpet in front of the TV where he’s already brought out an old Halloween bucket full of bits and pieces of crayons.

“I was wondering where Baekhyun went.”

“He’s with hims friend today.” Jun replies matter of factly as he starts flipping pages in the book matter-of-factly.

Chanyeol makes his way down to the floor next to Junha and starts picking out crayons.

“Can I color with you?”

Junha hops up and down in place and nods his head.

“How do you know where Baekhyun is today?”

Junha points to a spread with two pages and Chanyeol nods his appreciation. One side is Mickey and Pluto trimming a Christmas tree and the other side is Daisy duck wrapping a present with a giant bow.

“Baekh’un was talkins on the phone yesserday.”

Chanyeol picks out a green crayon and starts to get to work on the Christmas tree in the illustration. The waxy smell of crayon scrubbing on paper is comforting and familiar in his old age, bringing back memories of his youth that he can’t quite place a visual to.

“Who did he talk to?”

Junha shrugs as he colors in Mickey’s ears purple.

“Okay… no big deal.”

“Baekh’un said ‘big mistake’ when he stopped talkin on the phone too. I asked him why and he said he’s is not very smart.”

“Well, you and I know that’s not true. We know Baekhyun is smart, right?”

Chanyeol beams at Junha’s sweet smile, his curiosity peaked. Before Chanyeol can continue on this path, Junha is already on to the next subject, and he takes that as the universe asking him to stop obsessing. Instead, he half-heartedly colors and spends some time watching his son have a good time. His big eyes and protruding ears are all thanks to his dad. The delicate nose and small little pout are from his mother. Sooyoun had a permanent little pout on her painted lips too. Her long hair always dyed and curled, always suffocating him when he slept. He can still vaguely remember the nights he lay awake, smothered by her long locks while he stared up at the ceiling debating whether he was even allowed to breakup with her. Would he live the rest of his life with mediocre sex and secret desires to be with other people just to give his son a chance at a normal life with a mother and a father? Yes. But would it be hard for him? Yes.

He extends his hand to touch his son’s soft flushed cheek as he sings to himself and touches the skin there with reverence. What he wouldn’t give for this child.

Baekhyun inspects the living room he once knew so well with a sense of displacement. The walls are bright orange with mahogany hard wood giving the room an over saturated look. The jute woven round area rug is still too hard under foot and doesn’t soften the room at all. The coffee table is narrow and square with a black and elephant grey marble top and thin spindle legs with an assortment of coffee table books and odd knickknacks littering the space so that the table isn’t functional as anything more than a display of carefully curated visuals. His walls are covered in black iron bookshelves with wooden shelves that are absolutely stuffed to the brim with various books. In front of the books are framed pictures and various items that are strategically placed. The room is definitely a lesson in masculine maximalism in its own right though coming from Chanyeol’s quiet luxury it’s quite a change.

The tall man who saunters into the room is lean and narrow and Baekhyun thinks he might actually be a little taller than Chanyeol. He used to be so taken with this man but now… he seems so wrong.

“I was so surprised you replied to my message. I really thought you would keep me on read again.”

Baekhyun shifts his weigh uncomfortably on the beige couch, moving aside hand-woven Moroccan pillows out of the way, unsure how to answer.

“I didn’t leave you on read Choi Junhong. I just had a broken screen on my phone, and it was hard to type so I was going to call you when I got off work and then I forgot.”

Junhong adjusts his silver hoop nose ring the way he always does and takes a seat across from Baekhyun on a patchwork white and brown cow print chair. His assessing eyes sweep the entirety of Baekhyun’s body in seconds, his lip pulling up in one corner. Baekhyun swallows hard and realizes quickly that this may have been a mistake.

“So, you didn’t miss me at all? You went all this time without saying a single word and I saw your phone isn’t broken now.”

Baekhyun pulls his phone out and shows it to Junhong as proof.

“It’s a new phone.”

“So, you couldn’t katalk me?”

Deflated, Baekhyun lowers the phone and tilts his head to the side. He drops his gaze to the coffee table and sighs heavily.

“You’re being pretty quiet too. What’s up with you, B?”

B.That’s right, Junhong used to call him B. Why does that seem like years ago and not just 6 months ago?

“I don’t know. A lot has happened I guess.” Baekhyun says, settling on vague instead of talking to his ex-bo—well that’s not right actually, he never let Baekhyun call him that.

The one-time Baekhyun had called him his boyfriend, Junhong had gone into an hour-long rant about why that was childish and why he wasn’t comfortable with Baekhyun labeling their relationship without asking his permission. This was all a little jarring for Baekhyun since he was basically living with Junhong at the time. The two of them slept in the same bed, were romantically involved, shared meals and a friend group. They were everything boyfriends could be except in title. Junhong even introduced Baekhyun to his parents when they came to visit. Though to be fair, he introduced him as his friend and not as anything more.

Junhong had told him that there was no need to label things because they never knew where life would take them or who they might meet. It was “cool” and “chic” to keep things unlabeled and they were two modern men who didn’t need to be tied down to heteronormative proclamations of ownership of one another.

“B…? Is something going on?”

Baekhyun debates opening the flood gate. Maybe it would be nice to show off how relentlessly pursued he’s been by Chanyeol. Maybe it would be nice to brag a little about his successful employer who kisses him like he’s trying to melt the crust of the earth with the molten hot fire burning between them.

“I have this new job. I’m basically a Manny.”

Junhong’s mouth falls open.

“A Manny… like… a male nanny…?”

Baekhyun smiles softly and shrugs one shoulder.

“Yeah. I’m actually pretty good at it. I take care of this adorable little boy!”

“Wow. I would never have expected that. Literally never. I was absolutely sure you were about to tell me you had caved into the world of high-class escorts or something. No offense but who is trusting you with their child, Baekhyun?”

Junhong slumps back in his chair and locks one of his long slender legs over the other.

“Well, I mean… He’s a single father. He was a supervisor when I started and since I started, he’s been promoted… And really supervisor is so loose. He said he’s a nobody, but he actually was pulling in like 260 million won a year. He acts like he’s nothing because his rank in the hierarchy is low but he’s so impressive. I mean he’s so good at what he does, and he has 2 master’s degrees. Isn’t that crazy?” Baekhyun is gushing and he knows it, but this is the first time he's had the opportunity to really talk about Chanyeol to someone who doesn’t know Chanyeol. It's… really nice.

“I have a masters, Baekhyun.” Junhong deadpans.

“I know… but he has two.”

“Okay but you can get a master’s degree in like 10 months depending on the field. It’s not like he has a PhD.”

Baekhyun narrows his eyes at Junhong with a pout.

“You’re being a little mean.”

“I’m just saying he doesn’t sound so impressive, B. He’s got a double masters and brings in good money in middle management. And he’s a single father. What happened to the mom? Did she die or something?”

Baekhyun feels defensive of Chanyeol and takes a deep breath, unwilling to give up.

“He’s very impressive, Junhong. He’s classy and he’s gorgeous. You can dismiss him when you have a second masters and make even half what he does. Are you still working as a freelance photographer and part time as a curator for that struggling art house?”

It’s not the right thing to say. The smugness in the man’s expression is instantaneous.

“Wow. Skipping right over the mom thing and jumping right back into stroking his co*ck. So what? Are you sleeping with him and working for him? Are you really working for him or is he just using you for free booty calls and babysitting?”

He has to relax. He can’t let Junhong see he’s getting him riled up.

“No, actually. We don’t sleep together. We’re professional.”

“But you clearly want to. You’re basically on your knees begging for his co*ck in the middle of my living room right now. It’s so like you, B.”

“What doesthatmean?” Baekhyun snaps.

Dammit.He was supposed to be staying lowkey and cool.

“Nothing, it’s just so like you to make up this whole narrative in your mind of what a person is like and what the parameters of your relationship are. You don’t just take life for what it is and let live. Instead, you’re all up in this fantasy of this guy.”

Junhong sits there for a minute with his mouth open as if he means to say more. Baekhyun takes the opportunity to uncurl his fists at his sides and take a steadied breath.

“You should quit.”

It’s not where he thought Junhong was heading but he never did know what the man was going to do or say. He brushes short ash brown colored hair from his brow with a steady hand and rests his wrists elegantly on his crossed knees.

“Excuse me?”

Junhong nods his head with more confidence now as if a week has passed since the declaration and he’s fully confident in his assertion.

“You should quit. It’s probably not good for the kid for you to stay there. You’re clearly not thinking clearly since your mind is probably clouded with thoughts about being hot for daddy.”

“I’mverygood at my job, Junhong. He wouldn’t let me quit even if I wanted to because he knows that I’m the best fit. He has absolute confidence in my abilities. That kid and I have something special. We bonded.”

“Of course, you bonded with the kid, B. Youarea kid. You’re just a bratty kid. Honestly, you’re lucky that things have worked out this long but let’s be honest here, I know you better than he does. I know you better than probably anyone. You’re selfish and you don’t think about your actions. You never act selflessly, and you’re obsessed with antiquated ideologies about love and sex that you probably learned from watching too many Korean dramas. You’re in over your head and you should quit before you put this kid in real harm’s way with your carelessness.”

Honestly, Baekhyun could murder Junhong and nobody would know. If he could just figure out the means, he could execute it and it’d be simple enough to hide the evidence. He could just delete all communication between them and that would be that. Or he could message him saying “Please don’t call me again.” And throw off plausible deniability.

“I am not going to put him in harm’s way. I love him.” Baekhyun says with confidence.

“If you really care about him then you’ll end this. You’re not fit to be a parent. You’re not even fit to take care of yourself, Baekhyun, I’m genuinely worried about this whole situation.”

“f*ck you, Choi Junhong. You don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m great with him and I am not going to quit.”

“Don’t get cagey because you’re embarrassed that I’m right. You and I both know the truth here. You’re smart enough to know that even withouttwo master’s degrees.” Junhong chuckles.

“This was a mistake.” Baekhyun announces and stands up. “I should go.”

“Do you want to f*ck first?”

Baekhyun’s mouth opens, and he shakes his head.

“What? No!”

The slender man smirks and leans forward.

“You’re not fooling me. I know that’s why you came over today. You wanted to get filled because you’re so freaking wound up from being around hot daddy all the time and not getting any. I’m not above being the substitute. Maybe you’ll remember how good we had it and decide that your place isn’t living with some middleman corporate suit and it’s here with the young, wild, and free.”

Baekhyun swallows a lump in his throat, and he realizes that Junhong has successfully brought him to the brink of tears again.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m f*cking leaving and I amnotgoing to f*ck you.”

Junhong uncrosses his legs and stands up.

“Let’s just clear up the semantics. You don’t f*ck me. I’ve always been the one to f*ck you.”

“Right. Semantics. You’re always the one f*cking me over and I’m always the person who stupidly takes it. Well not this time, Choi Junhong. I’m leaving. Lose my f*cking number.”

Baekhyun marches from the room but realizes that the theatricality is lost by him having to stop to put on his doc martin boots. Junhong follows, standing in the doorway to the living room in his army green camp joggers and grey sweatshirt. He pushes the sleeves to his elbows with the same co*cky smile on his face as if everything happening was just funny to him.

“You’re really wound up tight, huh? You sure you don’t want to let off some steam? I’ll make sure you’re satisfied.”

Baekhyun gives up on his boots and grabs his left boot and hobbles from the apartment with only one boot on, swinging the other around wildly as he murmurs unintelligently to himself on the way to the elevator.

He mashes the button no fewer than five times as he stands there, not bothering to try to put on the other boot in case the elevator shows up. There’s no floor countdown on this elevator like the one at Chanyeol’s nice building. Here you just get a loud chime when the elevator pulls up.

His phone buzzes in his pocket and he sandwiches the boot under his arm to pull it out and check his messages.

“You know where I am when you’re ready.”

Baekhyun scoffs at the text from Junhong and blocks him.

He has no idea what he’s talking about. What he has at Chanyeol’s house is special. What he has with Junha is special. The elevator dings and Baekhyun steps onto the lift, ignoring the look from the passenger riding down as he assesses Baekhyun with one boot on and one off. He rides down in seething silence, fuming from the implications that Junhong hurled at him still.

Had he come over for sex? He’s not sure why he came by, but he absolutely wasn’t going to let that man touch him after the way he talked about the Park family. And also, how he talked about Baekhyun. Once they land on the first floor he storms out before the other man and makes it a few blocks before sitting unceremoniously on the ground to tug on his boot and lace them both up. When the laces are knotted, he leans back on the concrete wall behind him and calls Kyungsoo. His friend doesn’t answer but he leaves a voicemail complaining anyway telling him what a dick Junhong is, not for the first time. When he feels a little better, he decides he’s going to cook dinner tonight. He’s not a child. He’s a grown up. He’s capable and he is parent material. Even though he still hasn’t talked to his… when should he call them?

Not today.



Baekhyun comes home with bags of groceries weighing him down on either side a little after 4 PM. He’s a little more energetic than usual as he calls out when he gets home.

“I’m home! Junha, are you here?”

Jun immediately scrambles to his feet with shrieks of joy and races to the entryway, jumping up into Baekhyun’s arms without hesitation.

Baekhyun sets down the plastic bags and holds onto Junha for a little longer than usual and Chanyeol is even more interested in what the man’s been up to.

“Hey buddy.” He breathes, stroking the back of his head. “Were you good for your dad?”

“No! I was not good!” Junha says loudly, kicking his feet to be let down.

Baekhyun obliges and sets him down gingerly, getting down to his level.

“You weren’t good?”

Junha shakes his head and giggles.

“I was GREAT!”

Baekhyun falls back onto his butt and shakes his head with a warm smile and a softening of those downturned eyes.

“Great, huh?” He whispers, looking up to Chanyeol for verification.

Chanyeol gets down to his knees and starts to pull the laces on Baekhyun’s boot for him.

“Here, let me help.” He breathes.

“I’ve got it.” Baekhyun says.

“I can still help, Baekhyun.”

Junha pokes through the grocery bags around them while Chanyeol picks at the knots on Baekhyun’s docs and surprisingly Baekhyun lets him. When he glances up, the man’s doughy cheeks have turned the softest shade of coral. His downturned eyes are watching his face intently. Truthfully, he’d usually look away in these situations but tonight Baekhyun is unwavering. He looks over his face like they hadn’t just seen one another a few hours prior. Like they weren’t pawing at one another late last night. Or more accurately, this morning around 1 AM before Junha interrupted with his bad dream.

“I’m going to make spaghetti for dinner.” Baekhyun announces.

“I love it.” Chanyeol assures him, releasing his hold on Baekhyun’s feet with the laces pulled loose. “All done.”

He grabs the grocery bags and walks to the kitchen with Junha on his heel, leaving Baekhyun to pull his boots free and store them. He isn’t expecting such a quick turnaround, but the man is right on his heels when he finishes putting things in the refrigerator. He’s ducking under the neck loop of the apron he usually wears, the grey and white striped Williams Sonoma one that he insisted he needed when they went shopping a while back. Chanyeol is a fan of the apron because it ties at his waist, and it always makes his body look so soft. Baekhyun shoos them both from the kitchen though and Chanyeol decides he’ll sit up at the bar window above the sink between the living room and the kitchen so he can keep an eye on both Baekhyun and Junha at the same time.

Baekhyun tells Alexa to turn on his cooking playlist and the classic song “La Mer” by Charles Trenet starts to play.

“Baekhyun?” He calls.

The man turns over his shoulder while cutting basil.

“Can you pour me a glass of red? Something medium bodied… maybe the cabernet sauvignon since we’ll be having something acidic for dinner?”

Baekhyun’s eyebrows fall, and his gaze softens as he stares at Chanyeol.

“Or… if you don’t mind, I can come make myself a glass. It’s just that you kicked me out of the kitchen.”

Baekhyun wipes his hands on a white knit dish towel and tosses it over one shoulder. It’s like he simply has no idea just how much of a babe he is. Here he is standing 5 foot 6 in the Park family kitchen with an apron and a dish towel, but he might as well be shooting an ad campaign for Williams Sonoma because whatever he’s selling, Chanyeol is sure he’s buying. He pours the wine into a tall stemmed-glass and hands it over by sliding the glass on the counter.

“Did you know this is the cabernet sauvignon glass or is it pure luck?” Chanyeol asks, swirling the wine around.

Baekhyun corks the wind back and slides it back into the wine fridge.

“I’ll have you know Mr. Park, that you’re looking at a trained bar tender for catering events.”

His lips are curled into a smile as he turns away from Chanyeol to get back to chopping herbs. Chanyeol wishes that he would stop hiding away these little smiles and turning from him. He wants to feel them full-chested and head-on. He watches Junha from the counter for a while as he builds an entire theatrical battle scene between his Marvel action figures and the entire cast of the Toy Story saga on the living room floor. The smooth sound of the music for “Feeling Good” starts to play and Nina Simone’s gravel voice permeates the space as the scent of sautéing onions and herbs start on a skillet. Chanyeol’s attention is pulled to Baekhyun’s singing along and he turns back to the kitchen. His voice is surprisingly powerful for such a small delicate looking human being. His hips are swaying from side to side in slow arcs as he twists his wrist over the stove and Chanyeol is pretty sure this is exactly what Junmyeon was talking about.

This is it. This is what he meant when he said that they could have a family. Chanyeol lets his mind wander just a little as he imagines coming home from work to food cooking in the kitchen. Junha will come running to greet him and they’ll make their way to the kitchen where he’ll kiss Baekhyun quickly and taste some sauce off of a wooden spoon. Music filling the house. The smell of home cooked meals warming everyone from the heat in the kitchen. Junha falling asleep each night with two parents that love him and want what’s best for him.

Junmyeon might be right about Baekhyun too. It feels like the more Chanyeol shows his interest, the more Baekhyun becomes emboldened to pursue Chanyeol on his own. He doesn’t have to be coercive at all. He’s just simply showing how he feels and letting Baekhyun know that the invitation stands and that seems to be enough for the man to come to him on his own terms. Maybe it is worth having another discussion between them about where they stand. Could it be possible that Baekhyun is holding back in part because he doesn’t want to lose his job but in part because he’s unsure about whether they’re compatible? Maybe Baekhyun really does have more to bring to the conversation.

“I need hulk, Daddy.” Junha says from Chanyeol’s side, and he looks down.

“Where is he?”

“I think Hulk is in mine room.”

Junha’s eyes are sparkling with a smile on his small little face.

“Okay. You can go get Hulk. Do you need me to come?”

Junha thinks about this for a moment and then announces that he’s fine as he runs to his own bedroom.


Chanyeol is called by the sound from the kitchen suddenly and he startles. Baekhyun turns off the stove and moves the saucepan from the heat holding his finger.

“Are you okay? Did you hurt yourself?”

Baekhyun puts his finger in his mouth and nods his head.

“Mama mia…” Chanyeol breathes watching Baekhyun’s lips around his appendage like a pervert. “L—let me help.”

He sets down the glass on the bar and rushes into the kitchen to grab the first aid kit. Baekhyun is still sucking his finger but he’s staying close by. Chanyeol asks to hold his hand to inspect it when he has the box down on the counter. He holds Baekhyun’s hand gently, inspecting the cut with ginger prodding.

“It’s not bad. No need for stitches or anything. Let me just… Are you allergic to latex?”

Baekhyun’s cheeks color to crimson as he grins and shakes his head. Chanyeol realizes too late that Baekhyun’s dirty mind had gone to a different type of latex than the kind he was painting on the slice.

“Oh yeah, Byun Baek? What exactly are you thinking right now?”

Baekhyun is about to answer when Chanyeol starts to blow softly on the liquid latex to speed up drying. His mouth stays open, but his brows lift at the tickle against his skin.

“I’m… uh…”

Chanyeol grins and lets his hand go, pulling free a blue band aid to paste on his finger.

“I—I can do that.” Baekhyun stumbles over his own words and tries to reach for the band aid.

He’s not fast enough though. Chanyeol yanks the band aid away from his reach and shakes his head.

“I’ve got it. Just… let me.”

He pastes the bandage in place tenderly, dropping the papers to the counter. Chanyeol pulls Baekhyun’s bandaged finger to his mouth. He can hear his breath, caught behind those pert lips with his soft shoulders tensing, but he can’t stop this exchange. Baekhyun could stop it with one word, but he feels the man’s strength give out and he offers the finger up freely in a reach up towards Chanyeol. There’s no going back on these impulses that have started to stir. His eyes close, hoping in the darkness that he will have the courage and clarity to justify this unprecedented move on his part. He smells pepper and medicine there before his mouth finds his skin. He kisses Baekhyun’s cut finger the way he thought he might have wanted to bury his entire life in this man’s embrace before. When he pulls away and looks up, feeling warm and nervous, he isn’t sure what he’s going to see there. He might be able to handle a rejection from Baekhyun right now so that it speeds up the process of trying to move on from these mixed feelings. But with a sweeping lift of his lashes, he takes in Baekhyun’s lower lip quiver slightly. Suddenly he’s being pulled in again, unsure how to stop it, his body starts to sink in towards the man’s narrow body. In turn, Baekhyun’s blue band aid covered finger trembles as it reaches for Chanyeol’s shoulder. He swallows too hard, almost sure that Baekhyun could hear it.

“HULLLK SMAAAASH!” Junha yells as he rounds the corner and throws his doll into the dishwasher.

Baekhyun wastes no time scurrying across the room, putting a safe distance between his body and Chanyeol’s reach. He silently strands by the stove getting back to work, checking the noodles, and keeping his attention—and his blushing cheeks—turned towards the task at hand. Chanyeol grins, covering his face for a moment as he rushes to scoop up his son, who seems to have the absolute worst timing. Junha shrieks with joy as he’s swung around the kitchen and carried into the living room.


While Baekhyun puts Junha down after dinner with a bath and pajamas, Chanyeol takes care of cleaning up the kitchen and putting the leftovers away. When Baekhyun enters the kitchen to tell Chanyeol he can go say good night before Junha is completely out, the man is wearing red silk draw string pajama bottoms with a white v neck tee shirt, drying his hands with a towel at the kitchen sink. The statuesque man turns his attention to Baekhyun with an absent expression and tosses the towel to the counter.

“Thanks, Baekhyun.”

He steps aside to let Chanyeol pass but the man stops to tip his chin up to face him.

“Seriously, Baekhyun. For dinner and for all your help with Jun. Thank you so much.”

Baekhyun pushes his chest toward the hall, feeling bashful by the genuine confession.

“Go say good night to my best friend. I promised him you would.”

Chanyeol’s expression is incredulous in the most playful way as he points to Junha’s room and then to himself.

“Him? Not me??”

“Go!” Baekhyun urges again.

Watching the man walk away is just as much of a treat as watching him walk towards him. Or really, anytime Baekhyun looks at Chanyeol is a treat. Earlier, when Chanyeol was taking care of his shoelaces, he got to spend some time really studying his expression at a close distance again and he really did want to lick the man’s cheek. He’s exactly Baekhyun’s type still. Just as much as he was when he first saw him in the convenience store almost three months back. Baekhyun’s phone buzzes in his pocket and he quickly reaches for it to see a message from Kyungsoo.

“Hey. I got your message. I don’t know what you’re expecting me to say here but we’ve all known that Choi Junhong is an ass. Why you’re even still meeting him is a mystery I have no intention of solving. I hope you’re doing okay.”

Fair. Completely fair. Baekhyun laughs to himself as he re-reads the message. Kyungsoo does care. He’s a bit more stoic and cooler than most of his friends but he’s very much his friend. He’s just not as overt in his affections as Baekhyun is for instance.

“Who are you talking to?” Chanyeol asks.

Baekhyun is jolted by the sudden sound of the deep voice, and he looks up. Chanyeol is leaning in the doorway to the kitchen watching him the way he always does. It’s so strange. He’s in the exact same stance that Junhong took earlier in the doorway to his living room as Baekhyun was trying to run away but Chanyeol has a completely different vibe. His features are softer, and his posture is relaxed in a way that speaks of comfort being at home but not confidence and smarminess like Junhong.

“My friend. He was just responding to a message I sent him earlier.”

Chanyeol nods his head once but doesn’t make an attempt to follow it up with anything more. He keeps his eyes on the ground, reaching out with one leg hovering to draw a pattern in the air on the ground before him.

“Chanyeol… If I tried to quit, would you let me?”

Chanyeol stiffens suddenly and stands up straight.


Baekhyun stows away his phone and hope up onto the kitchen island.

“Wait, Baekhyun are you seriously thinking of quitting? Listen, I know I might have crossed a line, but can we talk? I can do better—”

Chanyeol comes to the island with a panicky expression, so Baekhyun puts his hands up.

“It’s hypothetical.” He clarifies.

This doesn’t seem to reassure Chanyeol too much, but he does take a steadied breath.

“Hypothetically. I mean I don’t have a say in what you do. So, if that’s what you wanted then I would let you go. But probably not without a bit of a fight. I’d probably try to ask you what we can do better to keep you and see if we can’t work on it.”

“You would try to keep me here?”

Chanyeol nods his head.

“Yes, of course. Junha adores you and it would completely break his heart if he lost you so suddenly. And…”

Baekhyun reaches both arms out for Chanyeol, and he looks down at the arms extended before stepping closer. He grasps onto his forearms, and he pulls him in to stand between Baekhyun’s knees.

“What about you?”

Chanyeol looks extremely uncomfortable by the question and Baekhyun begins to question if maybe he had the wrong idea after all.

“You don’t have to answer that, sorry. I’m just ask—”

“I don’t know what answer you want, I’m sorry. Do you want the truth or am I trying to be professional? I don’t know what to say.”

Baekhyun strokes up and down Chanyeol’s arms reassuringly.

“The truth.”

“The truth…”

Baekhyun nods.

“The truth is… the truth is that I wouldn’t be able to survive you leaving. I wouldn’t be okay. Even just today when you went out without telling me where you went, I spent the whole time thinking about you.

“You thought about me all day?”

“I think about you all day.”

Chanyeol steps up to the counter and the space between them lessens. Baekhyun runs his fingers along the sinew of Chanyeol’s biceps and the man shivers into the touch.

“You think about me all day like… everyday…?”

He nods his head, his face coming in closer.

“Yes, you know I do. I think about you constantly. I’m so into you it’s ridiculous.”

Baekhyun wallows in the small confession.

“Yeah. Ditto, Park Chanyeol. I’ve wanted to climb you since I saw you at the Family Mart buying an ice cream for my favorite little prince.”

That’s the confirmation Chanyeol needs. He reaches out and places his hands on the small of Baekhyun’s waist and steps up into their shared space.

“f*ck, Baekhyun. I want you.”

Baekhyun reaches up to touch the man’s cheeks.

“Do you want to see if we can get it out of our systems? Maybe that will ease the tension between us…”

Chanyeol starts to say yes but then stops and shrugs.

“I want to but… I also want to respect you when you say you want to keep this professional, so I’ve been trying to hold back. And I know I haven’t been doing a very good job of it the past few days. I let things get in my head and I can pull back. I don’t want you to quit. I was being selfish, Baekhyun… I was acting on impulse and I know that’s not an excuse, I do—”

Baekhyun seems to be almost chuckling softly as he listens to Chanyeol ramble, so he leans up into the man and places a kiss to his cheek, pulling him down with an attentive guide of Chanyeol’s shoulders forward. The man obliges until they’re sharing their breath again. Somehow this small distance they live when they’re close feels familiar. The warmth of their bodies combine, the scent of their bodies mix together and they become their own combined subdivision of want. It’s the safest place Baekhyun has ever been in his life, just letting Chanyeol into his orbit for these little moments. The fear that whispers in his ear that he shouldn’t cave into this, that he’s going to get hurt, that little voice that stops him is so quiet right now and all he gets to focus on is Chanyeol. The sound his mouth makes when his lips part, the tone of his exhale on the immeasurable hum of anticipation. He’s been here before. They know that this is different because Baekhyun isn’t stopping it. He’s initiating it.

“We can start slow.” Chanyeol offers, his breath skimming the hot flesh of Baekhyun’s cheeks.

“So, let’s just start slow then.” Baekhyun’s ankles wrap around the back of Chanyeol’s legs as they dangle off the counter.

The man is good at reading the queues.

Chanyeol takes Baekhyun’s mouth first, a melt into the kiss that takes Baekhyun’s heart rate up in the pull. His lips are tinged with wine again and his exhale of relief when Baekhyun deepens the kiss automatically is audible, palpable, sensate when Chanyeol’s arms wrap up and around, stroking up his spine to cradle him. The soft stroke of his tongue against his own isn’t desperate this time the way it was last time. This isn’t the same kind of release of anticipation. This is longing to return back to this place that they’re both so wrapped up in. He might have told Junhong that they’re professional, but he doesn’t care anymore what that man thinks about this living arrangement. He just wants to defrost his cold feelings in this embrace for a night and see if that helps them to clarify because the one thing that remains true is that Baekhyun is falling deep into this family.

Truthfully, he’s in deep withthisrelationship, possibly even deeper than he ever went with anyone else he’s ever been with. The fear that’s been holding him back was in part due to the loud racket of things that others tried to convince him of in terms of his own worth or the intentions others have for him. But beneath that layer of bullsh*t is a fear that carries merit. He wondered, what if this doesn’t work out and he keeps getting deeper and deeper? How badly would that hurt? When Junhong hurt him by denouncing their relationship it had shattered him. What would a rejection from Chanyeol feel like if they decided this wasn’t working? What if they don’t figure that out until a year in? After a year here in this home, would Baekhyun even be able to recover?

So tonight, he’s going to take the risk. He’s going to rip off the band aid and let the hurt in. The rejection will be great, but the safety of his heart is worth it. And if he’s being honest, there’s no way he leaves this house without bedding Chanyeol and not regretting it constantly and wondering what if. The sexual chemistry he feels is electrifying. This is the kind of drug he just can’t fight. So, when Chanyeol’s tongue strokes against his, Baekhyun doesn’t hold back his mewl of pure ecstasy at the surrender. They feed their mouths on the desert of the other’s taste, savoring the moment and praying that sweet dreams carry Junha through the night.

Chanyeol peels back but stays in their space, their little perimeter of lust.

“You drive me so f*cking crazy, Baekhyun. I can’t think straight.”

Baekhyun pants, nodding his head and stealing another kiss.

“Tell me more.”

Baekhyun starts to unbutton his own shirt, the black button down he used to wear to work as a bartender that he now gets to pare down with tattered chambray denims. Chanyeol’s fingers sink in between the holes in Baekhyun’s jeans as he watches him peel back the dark fabric to reveal that pale skin.


Baekhyun smiles and dips in to recapture Chanyeol’s mouth, but he pulls back.

“Will you come to my room?”

Baekhyun almost isn’t expecting the invitation, but it feels so good. He chokes back a sound of emotion in his throat and nods his head.

“Yes. I’d like that…” He adds, kissing Chanyeol again.

“Me too.” The man whispers, deep and low against his mouth. “But I’d like to carry you.”

He reaches to plant his hands firmly on Baekhyun’s ass, lifting him up off the counter. He acquiesces by lifting his knees up and locking around Chanyeol’s hips.

“God I’ve wanted to do this since the first time you sat on my countertop.”

“Do what?”

The searing heat of Chanyeol’s gaze as he sweeps to Baekhyun’s mouth and back up to his eyes has him hard against the man’s belly.

“Pick you up and carry you to my bed.”

He tosses his head back and takes in a deep breath, feeling stifled by their heat.

Chanyeol comes in to nuzzle Baekhyun’s throat, kissing along the column as he traces the line of his veins with his nose. When Baekhyun returns his attentive expression back to him he makes his way down the hall, turning so that Baekhyun can open the door for him since his hands are occupied. He sets Baekhyun down with care, lingering over him for a moment before standing up and walking to his door to close it.

“Lock it.” Baekhyun says.

“We don’t have to f*ck just because we’re in my bed, Baekhyun.”

“I don’t know if I can hold back, and I love Junha too much to let him be traumatized by walking in on what I’m going to do to you.”

Chanyeol locks the door.

He pulls his shirt off in one swooping motion, pulling from the back just to treat Baekhyun to the sight of his muscles flexing.

“When do you work out?” Baekhyun asks.

Chanyeol doesn’t have the kind of body that superheroes have but he’s definitely got enough to carry some definition that Baekhyun basks in. It’s almost the fact that his body looks so effortless and natural that makes it even hotter to him.

“I don’t lift or anything, but I go to my gym on lunch a few times a week.”

Baekhyun sits up and shimmies his shoulders free of his shirt.

“I’m a fan.” He replies, unbuttoning his jeans and unzipping them.

Chanyeol is transfixed by the invitation, getting to his knees before the bed and looking up at Baekhyun sitting on the edge of his mattress. Baekhyun tucks his fingers into the hair above Chanyeol’s ears and strokes his scalp softly, holding his palm to the man’s cheek. He kisses the heel of Baekhyun’s palm with dry lips, the flesh pulling against the moisture there of Baekhyun’s nerves. When Chanyeol hooks his fingers into the waistband of Baekhyun’s jeans to pull them off, Baekhyun plants both his palms back on the mattress to anchor himself, lifting him hips to allow Chanyeol access. The waist band of his blue briefs pull down achingly low as Chanyeol tugs the tight-fitting jeans free and Baekhyun watches with unabashed amusem*nt at the way the man’s gaze fixates of the exposed skin.

Perhaps ordinarily he’d be self-conscious of the little bit of softness at his navel but with Chanyeol he doesn’t worry about his weight or his appearances. He just lets the man see him. He returns his hand to Chanyeol’s hair, stroking through it as he looks down at him, appreciating the tenting of Chanyeol’s red pajama bottoms.

“I want to devour you and I don’t know how to be chill about it.” Chanyeol admits looking up with wide brown eyes and soft pink cheeks.

“The good news is that you don’t have to be chill about it right now, I want to be devoured. I want to be devoured by only you.”

This piques Chanyeol’s interest for a moment and he stills.


The man takes his time formulating his sentence and then swallows hard.

“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to but… who were you with today?”

Baekhyun snaps his mouth shut, eyes widening.

“How do you know I saw someone?”

“Junha heard you talking.”

Baekhyun looks down at his own belly button, shame touches him now and he almost wants to lie to hide the truth of what happened.

“I was at my ex’s house.”

Chanyeol falls back on to his ass from where he’s crouched down and Baekhyun swallows hard.


“Nothing happened.” Baekhyun offers.

Chanyeol looks up gently to nod in confirmation he heard him.

“Why? Why did you leave here this morning after what he shared last night and then go see your ex? I know this isn’t something we’ve put down a title to, but I have to be clear here, I’m really into you as more than just a f*ck. That’s not what this is for me. I’m not going to just f*ck you and be done with it. Does that ruin this?”

Baekhyun shakes his head vigorously.

“No! Chanyeol! No! Not at all!”

The man still looks disheartened, and he realizes that maybe a lie would have been better. But he doesn’t want to lie to Chanyeol. He wants to do this thing with him right so that he has no regrets. If this is the tipping point that sets him free, then that’s what he’ll do.

“I’m sorry, Chanyeol. I got scared and I thought that maybe…”

Chanyeol is watching him closely now. He leans in and kisses Baekhyun’s bare knee, returning his gaze just as quickly.

“I’m listening.”

Baekhyun takes a purposeful deep breath and tries to stabilize his skittering heart.

“I thought that maybe seeing Junhong would help me have some perspective about whether what I feel for you is just… maybe it’s loneliness or maybe it’s just another crush… I thought if I saw Junhong and he was able to sway me then I could prove to myself that I shouldn’t do this with you. I thought I could use that as leverage to bargain with myself and try to prove that these feelings I have for you are just…”

He shrugs his shoulders, but Chanyeol waits patiently.

“Lust?” Baekhyun whispers on a question, unsure if that’s the right word.

Chanyeol licks his lips, brows knitted together.


The room is tense still but the mounting of Chanyeol’s breath feels like a different type of anticipation again. He looks like he’s waiting for the magic words. Goosebumps have broken across the skin of his arms, but he doesn’t look cold. He looked bated.


Chanyeol gets back up onto his knees and lengthens to get closer to Baekhyun’s face.

“And what was the result of your test?” He asks, palming the side of Baekhyun’s throat in a caress.

“The results are that you’re not like that man at all. The results are that you’re incredible, you’re kind, you’re tender, and he’s nothing in comparison. I can’t even pretend that there’s any similarities to try to compare because I don’t even know what this is, but I didn’t want him to touch me or look at me. I just wanted to come home and be here with you as fast as—”

“Baekhyun.” Chanyeol breathes, lunging for his mouth to stop him.

Baekhyun swats at the tears that started to form in his eyes, a dam breaking of nerves.

“I’m sorry, Chanyeol.” He whimpers between kisses. “He means nothing. I blocked his number. I don’t want him.”

Chanyeol’s hand presses into Baekhyun’s shoulder as he stands before him. He leans in and starts to crawl over Baekhyun’s body, pushing him down flat under his chest.

“Who do you want, baby? If you don’t want him then tell me who you want?”

“You know I want you, Chanyeol.” Baekhyun pants softly.

Chanyeol reaches down between them, hand trailing softly over the smooth plane of Baekhyun’s chest to settle at the band of his briefs.

“I want to touch you. Can I?” Chanyeol asks.

“You have permission to everything.” Baekhyun mews.

Chanyeol’s lower lip comes in against Baekhyun’s brow and the man squirms at the touch, face turning to the side on a gasp as Chanyeol’s big hand eases under the elastic. The wide expanse of his palm is sweaty as it feels for him, unsure only for a moment before wrapping around his girth with an ease of power.

“I want to make you forget about him.” He whispers in Baekhyun’s ear.

“I don’t even think I could remember him right now.” He whimpers.

Chanyeol strokes firmly and Baekhyun’s hips twist as he settles into the motion of the man’s hand on him.

“I wanted you to face f*ck me but now I want you to look at me while I touch you.”

Baekhyun’s brows lift into his bangs and he wheezes a breath of surprise.

“Face...” he pants. “Face…”

“Would you like that?” Chanyeol asks, lowering his mouth to tease one of Baekhyun’s nipples with his mouth in a soft kiss.

“Would I like…? f*ck.” Baekhyun’s back arcs off the mattress as the torturous appeal of the man pushes his arousal.

Chanyeol leaves him for just a moment to dig in his bedside table, pulling out lubricant and warming it between his hands before taking Baekhyun back into his abundant grasp. Moving faster, Chanyeol smiles to himself as he watches Baekhyun. He grasps into the comforter for support and his hips leave the mattress as he pumps up into Chanyeol’s grip.

“I’m going to—”

“Say my name, baby. Who are you coming for?”

Baekhyun glances back at him, biting on his lip with his brows knitted.

“Chanyeol.” He says before squeezing his eyes shut for a second, bucking unapologetically. “Chanyeol, f*ck, Chanyeol I’m coming…” He huffs in short breaths. Chanyeol watches the cum ooze from the head of his swollen co*ck like he was watching a flower bloom.

“I’m obsessed with you.” Chanyeol says finally when Baekhyun stills.

He lifts his hand to his mouth to taste him and Baekhyun watches with his chest heaving. He looks spent laying there, but Chanyeol is wide awake, his co*ck straining against the red fabric, a darkened dot of precum staining the silk.

“I want to taste you too.” Baekhyun manages, crawling up onto one elbow with some effort.

Chanyeol stares at him for a long time and he almost questions if this is the end. Silently though, the man scoots back to his grey headboard and pulls his pajamas free so that he’s naked before him.

“You can do anything you want to my body.” Chanyeol says. “You can absolutely ruin me.”

Baekhyun giggles with a sudden giddiness in his chest and crawls up onto his knees, making his way towards Chanyeol on the king bed. Chanyeol spreads his legs to allow room for Baekhyun and he takes in the heady scent of arousal and sweat between them like a shot of adrenaline. Possessively, he didn’t want anyone else to ever have access to this part of Chanyeol.

“Anything I want?” Baekhyun asks.

Chanyeol’s hand catches Baekhyun’s chin in a cuff and steers his gaze up to him.

His searching gaze strokes over his features, and he smiles.

“God, you’re f*cking perfect.” Chanyeol breathes.

Baekhyun groans with a combustion of feeling in his chest and takes hold of Chanyeol’s long length.

“Will you return the favor?” Baekhyun whispers. “Will you say my name while I suck you off?”

Chanyeol nods his head as Baekhyun stokes down on the skin of his velvet co*ck, holding his gaze. He lowers his mouth and licks the head with a hot lap of wetness. Chanyeol buries his hands in Baekhyun’s soft hair and strokes his fingers through carefully as he takes in his length. Baekhyun’s eyes water at the length and he forces himself to relax to take it back.

“f*ck baby…” He hisses. “Baekhyun, you’re doing so good. That’s… That’s perfect baby…”

He pulls back and drags his tongue against the underside as he goes before hollowing his cheeks to suck down again. Chanyeol strokes his hair lovingly while he works, brushing hair from his eyes and brushing his cheek with the pad of his thumb. He gives him praise and encouragement and Baekhyun thinks for the first time that he might have a praise kink. Or maybe he just has a Chanyeol kink. Chanyeol squirms lightly, his hand stilling in his hair and Baekhyun reaches up to touch his wrist. He releases Chanyeol’s co*ck, saliva dripping from his swollen lip.

“You can push my head down a little if you want.”

Chanyeol nods eagerly but doesn’t have words so Baekhyun grins, feeling proud of himself and settles back in. Chanyeol’s hands bury in his hair once more but this time he applies just a little pressure.

“Baekhyun… That’s perfect, don’t stop…” He whines, his voice sounding much higher in pitch.

It fuels Baekhyun and he pushes himself a little further, changing the angle slightly until he can feel himself reflexively heaving against the head of his co*ck. Chanyeol guides him with even pushes though and he acclimates to it. The man’s hands stand to fist lightly in his hair, and he starts to whimper his name in short hisses on a pitchy squeak. Baekhyun speeds up with the confirmation that he’s close and pushes him over the edge. Chanyeol’s chest curls forward coming up off the headboard when he comes and Baekhyun diligently takes in all of it.

Chanyeol immediately loosens his grip, petting his face and swatting sweat away from his cheeks.

“Was that, okay? Did I hurt you?” He asks.

“I’m fine, Chanyeol. Did it feel good?”

Chanyeol’s mouth gapes and he nods with a dumbfounded expression.

“Are you kidding? You’re like a dream. I didn’t even think it was possible for head to feel like that. You must know that you’re good at it, right?”

Baekhyun shrugs his shoulder and wipes at his mouth, crawling up into Chanyeol’s lap to straddle him.

“I guess.”

Chanyeol’s hands come in against the bare skin of his back, and he traces the line of his spine.

“Watching the elegant length of you back as you sucked me off was driving me insane. Your red swollen lips… these beautiful teary eyes when you were choking on me determined to take me in to the hilt. I mean… I’m never going to recover, Baekhyun.”

He collapses forward onto Chanyeol’s chest and buries his face in his neck, feeling Chanyeol kiss his ear and chuckle against him.

“I know I told you that you could ruin me, but I didn’t know you really would.” Chanyeol whispers.

“Shut up, now you’re doing too much. It wasn’t that great.”

Chanyeol plants his hands against Baekhyun’s waist and pulls him back to look him in the eyes.

“Baekhyun… are you saying you can do even better? Because listen, if you give me just a little time, I’m ready for you to prove yourself in an encore performance.”

For some reason, Baekhyun didn’t peg Chanyeol as being this playful after intimacy. He’s not sure what he expected but it’s not bad.

“You’re welcome to practice your co*cksucking on me anytime.” He whispers.

“Thank you for such a generous offer.” Baekhyun snarks, rolling his eyes.

He lingers, inching in ever so to test the waters. He’s not sure if Chanyeol is the time to kiss on the mouth after blowj*bs so he pauses, waiting for permission. The man’s soft expression is unchanging as he closes the distance to take in the fullness of his mouth in long languid strokes.

“Do you want to shower?” He asks.

Baekhyun nods his head. He doesn’t feel shy after what they’d done but he feels a little tingly like he’s stepping into a new phase of their relationship. This is the postcoital stage. Chanyeol doesn’t seem to skip a beat though. He scoots them to the edge, careful to make sure that Baekhyun can unpeel himself from his sticky thighs. He’s not expecting the stab of lust he feels watching Chanyeol stand up confidently in front of him and stroke his softening co*ck once though.

He's just irresistible.

Baekhyun starts to gather his clothes, but Chanyeol stops his hand.

“You can wear one of my shirts for now, come to the shower. We’ll worry about pajamas after.”

Baekhyun stills.

“You want me… in your shower?”

Chanyeol’s brows furrow slightly, and he tilts his head.

“Well, yeah… that was my intention… do you not want that?”

Baekhyun reaches for the man’s waist and hugs onto him.

“No, I really really want that.” He says, squeezing tight.

Chanyeol’s hand falls to his head.

“Okay well come on. The sooner we shower the sooner we can put on pajamas. And I probably should unlock the door before I fall asleep.”

“If you don’t unlock the door, how do I go to my room?” Baekhyun points out.

Chanyeol nods his head and starts towards the bathroom but stops.

“Or… you could stay here.”

Baekhyun locks onto his gaze and they stay there for a moment, unmoving and silent.

“What would that look like if Junha comes in the room?”

Chanyeol strokes his jaw carefully.

“We’d have to be fully clothed. We can’t do any of this in the open because you were right, it might be scarring. He’s too young to be exposed to the graphic things that I get to do with you.”

Baekhyun catches the way he says ‘get to do’ to him but he tries to hide the smile that threatens to pull his mouth.


“And we should keep from touching each other too much so that we can ease him into that.”

“You mean like… tomorrow?” Baekhyun asks.

Chanyeol nods his head.

“So… it wasn’t just a one-time thing?”

Chanyeol snorts and wipes his face with his palms.

“Oh man… I hope it wasn’t a one-time thing… I wasn’t kidding about being ruined.” He muses. “Was that a one-time thing for you? Because I’m not going to lie, seeing you standing stark ass naked in my bedroom right now is kind of doing it for me. I’m like half debating bringing the lube to the shower in case I can’t resist.”

Baekhyun knows he’s smiling even though he had every intention of playing it cool. He turns around and climbs back up on to the bed, crawling to the discarded bottle and grabbing hold of it. He glances over his shoulder at Chanyeol to make sure he’s still watching his ass and is charmed to see his pupils blown out and his dick nodding to life.

“I guess it wouldn’t hurt to bring it just in case.” Baekhyun says.

Chanyeol half nods his head with a vacant expression.

“Do you have condoms?” Baekhyun asks.

Chanyeol stutters as he repeats the word condom, watching Baekhyun slide off the bed and walk towards him with a bottle of lube in his hand. He gives a nod again and then jolts to life, running to his side table to produce a roll.

“I guess we can bring that too, right? Just in case.”

“Just in case.” Chanyeol agrees on a whisper, eagerly following Baekhyun into the shower.

Not to be too crazy but Park Chanyeol is absolutely f*cked.

He realized while he was on his knees looking up at Baekhyun on his bed earlier that night that he’s already in love. He’s already completely in love with the man. Watching him gather the courage to tell him that he’s been struggling to figure out his own feelings towards Chanyeol made him feel like his heart was going to literally combust in his chest. He could have dug into the cavern and produced the organ as a gift to him and it would have hurt less than the idea that Baekhyun might have been rekindling with his ex in the middle of his Saturday. But Baekhyun didn’t rekindle. He just wanted to be sure before he crossed the professional line with him. He just wanted to prove to himself that there’s a chance for them.

A chance?

All Baekhyun needs to do is say yes and they’re dating. He’s not even sure he can wait to marry the man. After that extraordinary performance on the bed, he’s absolutely sure that Baekhyun is too good for him. But that’s not a deterrent. He’s going to do whatever he can to prove to him that they’re worth the risk.

Which is why he’s a little nervous right now. Standing under the spray of water with the stunning creature in front of him, he’s a little awe-struck. The soft swell of his hips are so inviting and not at all like any other man he’s ever touched. The way his hair slicked back showcases his entire eager face as he looks up at Chanyeol has him feeling sort of unseated in reality like he’s just having some kind of wildly realistic fantasy. Who knows at this point. Maybe this is just a wet dream. But he’s going to take advantage of it. Especially because Baekhyun is pumping a hand full of lube and reaching for him to stroke him.

“I can’t believe this is real.” Baekhyun says and he realizes that they must have been having similar thoughts.

“I was just thinking this is surreal.” He admits.


He nods his head and grasps one hand against the tile wall for support.

“I’ve um… I’ve fantasized about you religiously in… f*ck baby…”

“You’ve fantasized about me?” Baekhyun asks excitedly.

“All the time… I think about you while I masturbat* here… and…”

Baekhyun lowers his hands to cup Chanyeol in his palm and he throws his head back.

“You masturbat* in the shower thinking about me?” He asks.

Chanyeol swallows hard, his throat dry from the new wave of arousal.

“I can’t believe you look like this, and I get to touch you.” Baekhyun whispers with some reverence in his tone.

Chanyeol snaps his attention back to him hungrily.

“Get out of my head. I agree entirely. It’s not even fair that I get to touch you.” He growls. “Turn around.”

Baekhyun grins and turns away from the man, bracing his hand on the wall. Chanyeol comes in close behind him and presses his arousal against the seam of his ass and comes in to kiss Baekhyun’s throat. He sneaks his hands under Baekhyun’s arms to hold his chest in a soft stroke before pebbling his nipples between his fingers. Baekhyun moans softly and then cuts himself off.

“I don’t want to wake Jun…” he gasps.

“So be quiet for me baby… Do you want me inside of you?”

Baekhyun nods his head urgently. Chanyeol strokes one hand down Baekhyun’s chest and dips to take hold of his length. He’s hard in his hand, a lot girthier than he was expecting but pleasantly so. He has the kind of co*ck that made Chanyeol gay. There was probably no point where he was straight in his life but seeing co*cks like this one is what made him realize that he’s only ever going to be satisfied with his hand around this. Baekhyun moans softly again and Chanyeol teases him with a nibble to his soft ear lobe.

“Shhh… Baekhyun, you have to be quiet for me…”

Baekhyun’s head bobs in understanding and he clamps his mouth shut. The man is eager, that’s for sure. He impatiently takes a pump of clear lubrication into his hand and slides his fingers to finger himself.

Chanyeol has to remind himself to be quiet too because he wants to scream out how f*cking sexy this man is at the top of his lungs.

“I want you, Chanyeol.”

The sound of his soft pleas over the spray of water is the kind of eroticism he wasn’t even aware he needed, and he obliges, taking over from Baekhyun fingers sliding into the tight hole, his other hand still pumping Baekhyun. The man collapses his shoulders back against Chanyeol’s chest and reaches his hands up to hook around his neck from behind, hips still pushed forward. Chanyeol’s eyes start to roll back in his eyes and he breathes in deep heavy grunts.

“I can’t wait for you to fill me.” Baekhyun pants. “Stretch me just a little more, babe.”

Chanyeol catches the endearment like someone hitting his prostate and he jolts his hips up into Baekhyun’s back with a feral sound he didn’t even know he was capable of. He can’t tell if he’s just been having really bad sex his entire life or if this is just the benefit of being with the right person, but he’s wound up tighter than the strings of a bow.

“I can be quiet for you…” He whimpers.

“I know you can, Baekhyun.”

Baekhyun pulls away, opening the glass shower door and grabbing a condom wrapper. He tears it open with his teeth and pulls the small latex oval free before returning to Chanyeol.

“Can I put it on you?” He asks.

“Please, God, do.” He says fingers trembling.

“You’re so hard again…” Baekhyun says in awe, stroking his elegant fingers in appraising caresses before sliding the condom on.

Chanyeol takes hold of his length, holding the condom in place and backs Baekhyun to the wall. Baekhyun starts to turn around, but Chanyeol shakes his head, droplets of water spraying over Baekhyun’s face. With his free hand he reaches down and grabs a hand full of Baekhyun’s thigh and Baekhyun understands immediately, reaching up to pull himself up. Chanyeol helps to lift him, and he locks his feet behind Chanyeol’s knees to help him steer up into him. The girth of his head pushes against him and he takes slow breaths and forces himself to relax to accommodate him where he’s been stretched. God help him but Baekhyun sinks down on the hard rod of Chanyeol’s co*ck once he’s far enough in and he’s sure he’s crumbling from the ecstasy. His grips loosens for a second and he chokes on a sound that Baekhyun whispers he can’t wait to hear when Jun isn’t asleep a few rooms over with a soft chuckle. He stays there a second, head forward on Baekhyun’s shoulder and adjusts to the searing heat.

“You okay?” He hisses.

“Yeah, I’m perfect. You feel so good, but are you okay?”

Chanyeol’s ragged breaths taper, and he shakes his head no truthfully.

“I don’t know how long I can last Baekhyun, you feel so f*cking good.”

Baekhyun seems to test his limits and relaxes his grip on Chanyeol, sinking the rest of the way and shutters which leaves Chanyeol to make a purely soundless screaming sound. He’s not even sure he’s strong enough not to come. His endurance game is trash after all this time, and he’s apparently got the sex god of the world f*cking him.

“Can we still try? Your co*ck feels so good, Chanyeol. I really want to try.” Baekhyun pleads on soft sexy whimpers.

Chanyeol turns his face towards him and steals his mouth in a long kiss.

“I’m going to f*ck you, baby. Give me just a second. I got you.” He whispers and readjusts his hold on Baekhyun’s thighs.

Feeling more confident in his grip he holds Baekhyun in place against the wall to brace himself and slowly rocks out of him and back in. Baekhyun’s fingers ding into the skin of his back and he gives an appreciative sound that he holds back with his mouth closed.

“Okay?” Chanyeol asks.

“More.” Baekhyun breathes and he obliges.

He tries to focus on Baekhyun, slapping his hips up against the man in loud sounds that drown out Baekhyun’s grunts. Baekhyun’s mouth falls open and he grapples at Chanyeol’s shoulders, searching for his lips. He obliges with long kisses, pulling away when it starts to feel too good, and he relaxes too much. He tenses himself again, holding out for Baekhyun.

“Just like that, Chanyeol.” He says on a hitch of breath. “f*ck babe, right there, right there…”

He watches in awe as the man’s climax builds in his arms, biting back as he realizes that his hips are bucking on their own.

“I… I can’t hold on much longer, baby. I’m going to come.” Chanyeol apologizes.

Baekhyun reaches between their chests and takes hold of his iron hard length and strokes himself.

“I’m so close, just a little more babe.”

Chanyeol feels himself slow just a moment, but Baekhyun takes over rocking back down on him and he comes undone, plowing up hard as his muscles unclench. He looks down and watches Baekhyun’s hand slowing, cum spilled between their chests, his euphoric expression visible even with his head tossed back. They stay still, the discordance of their breathing coming back down in the other’s embrace.

“Did I hurt you?” Chanyeol asks.

Baekhyun nods his head and his heart falls.

“You did, but it’s okay because that what I wanted. I wanted to feel you tomorrow. I want to miss you naked and filling me. Call it a kink but this is exactly what I wanted.”

Chanyeol lets him down and quickly discards the condom, tying it off and setting it on the shelf. Baekhyun grabs the loofah and scrubs a lush bar against it until it suds and starts to wash Chanyeol first.

“Let me take care of you.” Chanyeol offers softly.

“No. Please… Let me. I want to worship this body for a minute. I’ve been thinking about getting you naked since our ice cream debacle. Let me spend time taking you in.”

Chanyeol stands in the spray of the water that’s not as hot as it was 20 minute earlier and lets the man of his dreams touch every inch of him. He was sure it would be awkward at first but it’s not. The intimacy of the care with which he touches him helps his heart to still after the aerobics of their first time. He bends forward for him so that he can reach up above his neck and they share kisses. When he’s done, he starts to scrub himself down with a satisfied expression and Chanyeol shampoos his own hair as he watches Baekhyun suds up. Baekhyun hangs to loofa up and they decide silently without a look or a single word that Chanyeol will wash Baekhyun’s hair too. Baekhyun’s hands move up to gently stroke Chanyeol’s forearms as he works his head tipped back for his convenience.

When they step out of the shower, Chanyeol provides towels and whispers “Thank you” to Baekhyun, knowing that he’s the one who washed them and stored them away while he was working.

“You’re welcome.”

“You know, you don’t have to clean and do laundry and cook. I don’t expect any of that.” Chanyeol offers.

Baekhyun towel dries his hair with a nod of understanding.

“I know but I want to take care of you. You’re always so good to me… Please let me do this. It makes me happy.”

He agrees and touches Baekhyun’s bottom lip with his thumb.

“Youmake me happy.” He whispers.

“You make me happy too, Chanyeol.”

Drowning in one of his shirts and a pair of drawstring shorts, Baekhyun crawls into bed. Chanyeol unlocks the door and does to check on his son and finds him sleeping on top of his comforter with his arms and legs spread in all directions like a starfish, a stuffed hulk with a band aid on it draped over his chest. He grabs the Mickey Mouse blanket Junmyeon bought him at Disneyland last year off of the shelf and dusts it off lightly before draping it over him and returning to his room. He leaves the door propped open slightly and climbs into bed next to a snuggly Baekhyun who is spent and barely awake. He reaches for Chanyeol and surprises him with passionate good night kisses before he pulls back.

“Just in case you change your mind in the morning.” Baekhyun breathes.

He wants to ask if that’s happened before, but he doesn’t.

“It won’t.” He says instead.

“Goodnight Yeolie.”

Chanyeol swallows back a declaration of love and settles for stroking his hair gently instead, willing him to feel his love.

“Goodnight, Baekhyunnie.”

“Just to clarify… You two had sex?” Kyungsoo says incredulously.

Baekhyun takes a sip of his lime soda to give his friend a second to let that sink in.

“We did, yes.”

He looks impressed in all honesty.

“You’ve been together for 3 months and you’ve only had sex one time though. Right?”

Baekhyun nods his head coyly and realizes he’s giggling when he goes to take a sip of his soup broth.

“You look… happy?”

Baekhyun allows the shock to wear off and waits for Kyungsoo to settle into the information after his very long recap. They both eat for a moment sitting at the counter of Kyungsoo’s kitchen together over homemade ox bone broth to help with Kyungsoo’s slight hangover from his work event the night before.

“So just to verify, you’re still working for him as his nanny, right?”

Baekhyun finishes chewing a mouthful of rice and points his spoon triumphantly in the air as he confirms “Right!” This had been one of the first things that he’d confirmed with Chanyeol in the morning when they woke up together. Neither were sure when but at some point, in the night they both remember Junha crawling in bed between them. He didn’t seem to question anything at all. They all lay in bed sleepily for a while talking about their dreams and Junha let them know he didn’t have a bad dream this time. He had gotten up to go to the bathroom like a big boy and came to check on his dad. He explained that when he saw Baekhyun and Daddy were having a sleepover without him, he was jealous and decided he would join in. He also made them both promise not to tell Iron man or Hulk about this because they were also not invited to the sleepover. Chanyeol seemed both worried and charmed by this and asked Baekhyun if he could go see Junmyeon for a while with Junha to talk to him about what they should do moving forward. Baekhyun took that as an opportunity to clarify that he still had a job, and everything was still okay between the two of them.

Chanyeol had snuck a kiss to his head and whispered “You’re definitely staying here if I have my say and you’re absolutely still allowed to watch Junha for as long as you want. We’re better than fine. I think we might be great, actually.”

“So, what, are you two dating? Baekhyun, do you have a boyfriend who’s actually… I don’t know… not trash or boring?”

He narrows his eyes and pulls back his fist as if to punch Kyungsoo in the face. The man knows Baekhyun too well to even pretend to cower and continues to stare pointedly in wait of an answer.

“Don’t say it like that. And… I honestly don’t know if we’re dating. We only just started officially last night. Or maybe the day before… I’ll have to ask him.”

Kyungsoo quietly takes a banchan plate to the fridge and refills the plate with more beansprouts from a Tupperware in his fridge.

“I’m kind of impressed, Byun.” Kyungsoo says smoothly, offering a genuine smile. “You found this crazy lucky opportunity with a super-hot guy, and you were patient and careful and took it seriously. Now you might just be in a relationship with this really nice and hot single dad, and you love your job. You’re saving money and you have a safe place to stay… and I guess most importantly, youlookreally happy.”

Giddy with praise and full of good food and good company, Baekhyun beams at his friend.

“I am really happy. I mean, I’m also nervous because we’re not officially a couple or anything but… it just feels different. He tells me how much he cares about me; he tells me I’m doing well, he takes care of me, he appreciates me when I take care of him and Jun… I mean… I don’t know. It feels so… I don’t want to say it feels right, but Kyungsoo, it really does. I think he might be it for me. I literally saw him in the convenience store and was like ‘Wow, this is my dream guy.’ And then voila, now we’re somehow living together and making love.”

Kyungsoo snorts and covers his mouth and nose with his hand.

“sh*t, I’ve got rice up my nose now… did you just say, ‘make love’ unironically in a sentence?” He asks, cheeks bright red.

“I… did. Yeah, I think that’s what we did. I mean… he can be a little dirty and kinky, but he can also be considerate. I trust him and… I’m falling in love. I don’t know, is it too soon to say I love him?”

Kyungsoo nods his head but then pauses and changes it to a bobble from side to side.

“Actually, maybe not. I mean, let’s say you met a guy and went on dates with him non sexually for 3 months, that wouldn’t be so crazy if you were felt like you were in love. So… I don’t know… this might even be a pretty healthy timeline…? I mean here’s the thing. You guys were… what… dancing around the whole relationship thing for a month and change, right? Then you guys almost had sex but—surprisingly—you stopped it.” Baekhyun throws a piece of broccoli banchan at him. “Don’t throw that. Also, eat some it’s really good. And then you guys have been like… abstinent for a month and change and you’re coming up on your official 3 months since moving in together next weekend, right? That’s not bad at all.”

Baekhyun’s cheeks hurt from smiling. Much like his lower back hurts today from sex with Chanyeol the day before but he keeps that piece of information to himself as a little secret for now.

“I’m afraid I’ll wake up.” Baekhyun says, realizing his voice sounds more serious than he intended.

“That’s the feeling you’re supposed to have. You think I’ve lasted with this idiot all this time not feeling that way? Have you seen my boyfriend? No offence but he’s literally one of the most beautiful people in the world I’ve ever seen. And the truth is that he pushes me to be more than I am. He asks me to join conversations where I would stay silent. He asks my opinion on things I would have kept to myself. He’s constantly thinking of me. For the first year I was terrified that it was going to end because he was going to wake up and realize that he’s too good for me. But then somewhere in our second year he sat me down and he said, ‘If you’re going to realize that you’re smarter and more capable and more handsome than me and leave me, can you do it now.’ And I remember just thinking how much I appreciated how strait-laced he was about talking about that. We were both thinking it all that time, but he was the one that had the courage to say it.”

Baekhyun reaches for Kyungsoo’s forearm and squeezes it softly.

“I didn’t know about all of that… thank you for sharing that, Kyungsoo.”

He clasps a hand on top of Baekhyun’s and looks him in the eyes with a genuine smile. Kyungsoo isn’t unattractive despite what he says about himself in comparison to his boyfriend. He has big eyes that swim in whites with long lashes that frame them. He has a small supple mouth and beautiful proportions to his face. His glasses sit on his nose pertly and he has this deep voice that matches his stoic personality perfectly. He’s beautiful too. Baekhyun wasn’t surprised at all when he introduced his boyfriend to him and the two of them looked like some kind of genetic power couple. With Kyungsoo being a famous chef who owns his own restaurant and Jongin being his business partner and the owner of several other restaurants, they’re a successful force to be reckoned with.

The front door opens, and the rumored boyfriend walks in and looks pointedly at Baekhyun’s hand on Kyungsoo.

“What’s going on here?” He asks carefully, tossing his long red brown hair from his narrowed eyes.

“The truth is I’ve been having an affair with this shrimp for years and I can no longer hide my feelings for him.” Kyungsoo deadpans.

Jongin nods his head in understanding, unwrapping his scarf from around his neck and draping it on the kitchen island in their spacious open concept loft.

“Well, I guess that’s going to make our working relationship tense.” Jongin says, grabbing Kyungsoo’s chopsticks from his hand and taking food off of his plate.

“Seriously? You’re not even a little worried I could steal your man?” Baekhyun asks incredulously.

Kyungsoo and Jongin both laugh at this and Baekhyun retracts his hand like he’s been burned.

“Hurtful! You’re both hurtful! I’m very angry!” Baekhyun wails.

“No offence, Byun. But if he’s going to leave me, he’s not going to do it for you. First of all, you’d murder each other after like a week.” Jongin says.

“Fact.” Kyungsoo interjects.

“Second, he’s not a good enough liar to cheat on me. He admits everything if I just stare at him long enough.”

“He’s too pretty. It’s like lying to the mona lisa. I’m not even sure he’s a real person and not a work of art after a while and I confess everything.” Kyungsoo says in a flat no-nonsense voice.

Jongin kisses Kyungsoo’s short hair by his brow and his friend blushes and pushes him off with a smile.

Baekhyun decides that this could be him soon. Junmyeon and his husband, Kyungsoo and his boyfriend, and there among their ranks, a stable and functional couple, Chanyeol and Baekhyun. Would he because Park Baekhyun? Kyungsoo fills his boyfriend in on everything that’s been happening and Baekhyun daydreams about a wedding ceremony with Park Junha as the flower boy.

“I demand that you thank me.” Junmyeon announces for the fifth time.

“And I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, NO.” Chanyeol retorts with a loud chuckle as they sit around the table.

“Shh. Loudmouth. You’ll wake Junha up. I’m still shocked you didn’t wake him up last night when you and Baekhyun were getting it all out of your system.”

Chanyeol pokes at his iced coffee with the straw and scrunches up his nose.

“What if that’s not possible?” He asks.

Junmyeon places his hand over his heart and mimes a gasp. Chanyeol wiggles in his chair and faceplants on the table with a grin.

“I’m in so deep, Junmyeon. He’s like… perfect. He’s handsome, he’s good with Junha, he’s an actual sex god. I mean… What was I thinking all this time? I should have locked this down forever ago.”

Junmyeon taps on the table expectantly with one finger in a ‘go on’ motion but Chanyeol just groans.

“What do I do?”

He peaks up over his arm at Junmyeon and the man blinks in confusion.

“What do you mean by ‘what do I do’ exactly? You get married, have a family, live happily ever after. It’s not rocket science here.”

Chanyeol grins and faceplants on the table again.

“f*ck.” He simply says, muffled in the fortress of his collapsed arms.

Sitting up abruptly he waves his half empty Starbucks cup in the air.

“I would marry him, Junmyeon. Like… I would do it. If someone told me there would be no judgement, I’d do it tomorrow even.”

“Honestly, f*ck anyone who judges what you do in your life. Except me, obviously because I do it with love. If you wanted to get married tomorrow, I’d be concerned but I can’t stop you. You’re an adult after all. And I do think that you love him. I’m not entirely sur about how he feels but I have a sneaking suspicion that he loves you too.”

Chanyeol’s sloppy smile is back, and he leans on the palm of one hand.

“You think so too?”

“I mean I texted him asking ‘so are you and Park Chanyeol basically married?’ like… maybe 20 minutes ago and he responded with a crying laughing emoji and a fingers crossed emoji. So… I don’t think you should like use emoji as a basis for major life decisions but like… that’s not a no.”

Chanyeol doesn’t even ask permission before taking Junmyeon’s phone and unlocking it with the passcode to look at his texts.

“Be careful on there, I don’t know what pictures of me and my husband you want to see but they’re all there.” Junmyeon doesn’t seem especially concerned but he makes sure to give the disclaimer anyway.

“He really did send a cry laugh and a fingers crossed…” Chanyeol says hopefully. “I think I’m really going to marry him.”

“I mean, I’ve been saying that so you should…” Junmyeon taps the table twice and then makes a sweeping gesture to himself.

“Again, I’m still not going to thank you, Junmyeon.”

“I deserve nothing less.” He says.

Junmyeon takes a sip of his hot latte and then sets the cup down with a serious expression.

“I’m really happy for you.”

Chanyeol slumps back in his chair and nods his head in thanks.

“I’m serious. You’ve been my friend for a long time. I can’t remember the last time I saw you making decisions that impact your happiness and your future and not just Junha’s. You deserve to be happy. After everything with Sooyoun, I want this for you.”

“She emailed.”

Junmyeon’s jaw tenses.

“What did she want?”

“She emailed Thursday night and said she’s back in Korea and she plans on seeing Junha.”

“I cannot believe she has the nerve to just show up and demand to see if him. Are you going to let him see her?”

Chanyeol shrugs his shoulders.

“I mean, yeah, she’s his mother. I feel like I have to. I told her we’ll talk about it, and she didn’t reply so… I don’t know. I guess if really depends right? I just don’t know about these complexities in parenting. Like ‘don’t let him have beer, he’s a minor.’? Check. Easy. ‘What kind of inter-personal relationship boundaries should I be cautious of exposing him to?’ That’s hard. Even just this morning, waking up in bed with him between me and Baekhyun. I was like… ‘There’s no reason this isn’t okay… we’re no indecent, this is chaste, we’re just sleeping and talking.’ But then part of me was like, ‘okay but what if he goes to school and starts saying his dad is sleeping in the same bed as his nanny’. Is that going to screw him up or get him bullied?”

“You’re not going to be able to protect him from bigotry. So go ahead and get that fear out of your mind. It’s going to happen, and it’s going to suck. I mean remember when Sehun and I were holding hands and walking with you and Junha a few years back after the Ballet? The old man in the parking garage told you that you should be ashamed of yourself for exposing Jun to my devious gayness. Were you upset then?”

“Yes. I was livid and I told him off.”

Junmyeon chuckles.

“You did. It was awesome. But also, you didn’t then sit me and Sehun down later and go ‘listen, I think you should stop holding hands and kissing in front of Junha.’ You would never say that to us, right? So why is it not okay for you? I agree, the fooling around in the kitchen and living room should quit when Junha is home but you and Baekhyun were very conscious of Junha’s innocence from the sounds of it so you’re fine.”

“So, I just ease him into things? Kiss Baekhyun chastely, hold hands and don’t make a big deal. That kind of thing?”

“Yeah. Pretty much.”

Chanyeol thinks back to how pretty Baekhyun and Junha looked this morning sleeping at his side. Junha’s little face was turned in towards Baekhyun’s chest and Baekhyun’s hand was resting on Junha’s back, holding him safe and close. They looked like family. They looked like they belonged together two. It makes him feel so much more confident about everything seeing how his son is so secure with Byun Baekhyun. But in that same regard, he’s keeping circ*mspect, not wanting to suddenly act carelessly without regard to this tenuous new place they’ve stepped into. He has something worth protecting now that’s not just his son. For a long time, that’s been the only thing he’s had to shelter from the world. Now he has two things that he treasures that he wants to safeguard and that’s Junha’s wellbeing and Baekhyun’s place in his life with them.

“So, it’s okay that I’m doing this…?”

Junmyeon relaxes his shoulders and softens his tone.

“It’s not only okay, but also good for you. And maybe if you and Baekhyun get married, it’ll be good for Junha too.”

Chanyeol feels a little better after talking to Junmyeon about all that’s going on for him, but that tentative joy is lessened when he gets home and Baekhyun isn’t there. He texts Baekhyun and asks where he is and gets an immediate response that he’s just a few minutes away. Chanyeol sends an email to his director, his direct report in command that he’s feeling under the weather and lets him know he might not be able to come in in the morning. Since Junmyeon is keeping Junha for the night, he was going to plan a night in for the two of them which led to him deciding he probably would prefer to just take the whole day off from work with Baekhyun since he has the time saved up anyway. He needs this quality time together. They can pick up Junha from school together and maybe make dinner as a family. Junha loves making pizzas at home. He starts a kettle on the stove and grabs mugs to set up tea for Baekhyun since it's especially chilly out today for fall because of the rain. It doesn’t take long before he hears Baekhyun’s loud yell from the hallway announcing he’s home.

“Park Junha!” He calls. “How dare you not run to greet me! I’m going to hang you off the balcony by your toes and not even Tony Stark can save you!”

Chanyeol rolls his eyes and turns towards the boisterous human peeking at him through the kitchen window.

“Is he asleep?” Baekhyun asks, checking his phone screen to see that it’s still too early for him to be in bed. “Is he sick?”

Chanyeol watches worry cross his expression in an instant and quickly walks towards him to calm his unease.

“He’s fine. He’s having a sleepover at Junmyeon’s tonight.”

“Ohhh… It has been a while since they got to spend quality time together.” Baekhyun agrees, looking much more at ease.

He disappears from the window bar and reemerges in the entry of the kitchen with a bit of a skip to his step. Looking at the two mugs he points to himself in question and Chanyeol nods his head once.

“Thank you, Chanyeol.”

“So… how was your friend?”

Baekhyun’s appraisal of the ornate mug is frozen in midair, and he lowers the mug with a teasing smile.

“Park Chanyeol… Are you being jealous right now?”

Chanyeol shrugs his shoulder and takes the extra mug in his hand.

“No, I’m not really the jealous type.”

Which of course is an absolute lie when it comes to Baekhyun. Ordinarily this statement would be true but the idea of anyone else touching Baekhyun makes him lose his mind. He has half a mind to tie the man to his bed and keep him there. But those kinds of possessive thoughts belong in erotica and not in real life, so he takes calming breaths and tries to act as normal as possible.

“Oh really? You’re not even a little curious who I had lunch with today?”

Chanyeol shakes his head no, back turned to Baekhyun as he pulls the kettle off of the hot eye and sets it aside.

“Even though I had that lunch date at his house? And we were alone?”

Chanyeol tries to keep his mind from putting strange images together which delays a response.

“Even though he and I have averylong and complicated history together? You don’t care at all?”

Chanyeol finally caves and turns towards him, throwing a hand towel at his head and shouting.

“Fine! Tell me! I need to know! You win!”

Baekhyun shows Chanyeol a selfie of himself with Kyungsoo sitting at the counter together.

“This is my friend, Chanyeol. He has a boyfriend already and we have absolutely no desire to date. Also, I spent the entire time gushing about this new guy in my life that I like.”

Chanyeol looks sheepishly at the towel laying on Baekhyun’s shoulder where he threw it and then collapses forward onto the kitchen island.

“I’m jealous… When did I become like this?” He growls.

Baekhyun stands next to him and strokes the hair on the back of his head gingerly.

“I’m jealous too so we’re probably a toxic mix. I don’t know.”

Chanyeol makes them tea and they carry it to the living room to snuggle on the couch and watch a movie together. Chanyeol opens up his arm this time though and Baekhyun slides into the crook naturally. Even though they put a Brad Pitt movie on, they don’t really pay attention as they rehash their days and describe their friend’s reactions to their new development.

“Hey Chanyeol…” Baekhyun starts softly.


“Since Junha isn’t here… will you call me baby again?”

Chanyeol pulls back to look at him.

“I can if that’s what you want.”

“It just feels special… I don’t know I’ve never been somebody’s baby like that…”

Chanyeol watches his little mouth flatten into a line before he averts his gaze.

“You know there’s probably not a lot I wouldn’t do if you asked right now.” Chanyeol admits.

Baekhyun takes the admission deep into his heart and stores it there.

“There’s not a lot I wouldn’t do for you right now either, Park Chanyeol.”

“You can call me babe if that feels right.”

Baekhyun smirks.

“You caught that, huh? I don’t know where that came from. I just wanted to call you something and babe was what seemed to come to mind first… It didn’t suck though… I liked it.”

Chanyeol kisses Baekhyun’s brow.

“I liked it too.” He whispered. “So, does that mean you’re mine now? I’m your babe, you’re my baby.”

“What do you mean when you say I’m yours?”

Chanyeol turns Baekhyun in his arms to look at him carefully when he says this.

“I was wondering if you’d like to take things slow with me, as my boyfriend.”

Baekhyun’s lips part. His gaze searches Chanyeol’s expression for any sense of hesitation but all he sees is hopefulness. He nods his head once and then reaches up to wrap his arms around Chanyeol’s neck.

“So that’s a yes? You and I are… we’re dating?”

Baekhyun nods his head again and climbs up to straddle Chanyeol on the couch.

“That’s a yes, Chanyeol. I can’t believe you want me to be your boyfriend… Are you sure?”

He snorts and quickly reassures Baekhyun. Is hesure? He’s thought about it for weeks. He’s beyond sure of Baekhyun. What they have is special.

“I want this, Baekhyun. I want you.”

Baekhyun cradles Chanyeol’s face in his hands and lowers his mouth to taste Chanyeol’s mouth in slow kisses to his bottom lip. His probing tongue slips in and Chanyeol wraps his arms around the man’s back and locks him in place, kissing him back with the depth he deserves. Baekhyun deserves nothing less than being adored. The sounds of their kissing grows louder and Baekhyun starts to move against Chanyeol’s hips in a slow grind.

“Should we move to the bedroom? I don’t have—”

Baekhyun pulls out a condom and a small bottle of lube from his pocket.

“I grabbed it when I went to the bathroom.”

Chanyeol co*cks his brow.

“A bit presumptuous of you, don’t you think?”

“Very much so. But also, wishful thinking.”

Baekhyun climbs off and strips off his bottoms quickly and Chanyeol only has time to pull down his pants before Baekhyun is pushing his chest back down into the couch.

“You know what I like now… So let’s not waste time.” He breathes.

“What exactly did you like…? I wasn’t sure I did anything special.”

Baekhyun pulls his sweater up off of his head before squeezing liquid onto Chanyeol’s palm for him. He reaches around and works him open with his long fingers, pliantly Baekhyun responds.

“Don’t even think about holding back a single sound tonight, Chanyeol.” He says, using the back of the couch as leverage to work against Chanyeol’s hand. “Tonight, you give me every sound.”

Chanyeol is in awe of Baekhyun once more, still unsure how he got lucky enough to be the person who gets to touch him, pleasure him, call him his from now on.

“Whatever you want, baby.” He says,

He’s already hard with his legs spread wide when Baekhyun fumbles with the packet in his hand for a second. The birthmark on his thumb is so discerning as he works that he almost misses the way he tears open the wrapper with his teeth. Chanyeol pulls the wrapper from his hand and immediately fixes the condom to himself, stroking the length with his slippery hand before guiding Baekhyun.

“Are you ready to stretch for me, baby?” Chanyeol asks and Baekhyun nods.

This time he doesn’t whimper on the plunge, he lets out a visceral moan of satisfaction that shakes the room, tossing his head to the side.

“f*ck, baby, just like that. Give me every single sound. Tell me everything.” Chanyeol groans and Baekhyun immediately takes control, replacing his hands on the back of the couch on either side of Chanyeol’s hand and rolling his hips as he rides him.

“I’m going to make your dreams come true tonight, Park Chanyeol. You said I’m yours so I’m going to let you claim me in every way you need.”

Chanyeol watches the view from below like he’s living inside of a p*rno. Baekhyun is ridiculously handsome from this angle. His hair sticks to his forehead with sweat and his skin is glistening with dampness as he moves. He moves his hips in the fancy way he thought was just for theatrics but he realizes he’s doing it to slow down the experience for him and give him more time. He can tell when he hits the right angle because the man lets out long moans and he speeds up slightly. Chanyeol reaches up to trace the man’s mouth and he swallows one of his fingers seductively and leaves Chanyeol rolling his head back on the cushion.

“Baekhyun, you’re so good… You’re doing so good baby.”

“I love the way you give me praise. Tell me again how good I am at riding your co*ck, Chanyeol. Tell me that I’m yours.”

He obliges happily, reaching up to touch Baekhyun between them and the man sings out in pleasure on the first pump of his fist.

“You’re mine, Byun Baekhyun. You’re mine and I’m not letting you go.” He says in a low voice. “You’re perfect and nobody does it like you. I want you so badly, baby. Come for me.” He begs.

Baekhyun nods his head as he moves faster.

“Match my pace, I’m close.” He pants, dotting Chanyeol’s face with beads of sweat falling from his chin.

Chanyeol listens well because Baekhyun is clenching around him as he gets ready to come and he’s not sure how much longer he’s got. Baekhyun swallows his moans in deep throaty sounds as he comes and Chanyeol finally unclenches the strength in his legs and starts to give in to the org*sm. It doesn’t take more than a few strokes for him to finish with Baekhyun’s sticky body collapsing forward on him.

“I love… I loved that…” Baekhyun says.

Chanyeol’s mouth falls open and he wonders if maybe… He hopes that maybe he was about to tell him he loves him.

“You’ve got to be split in two after all this sex, Baekhyun… Do you want to take a hot bath?”

Baekhyun sits up with Chanyeol still flaccid inside him and nods his head.

“Will you join me? Maybe with wine? Wine and bath together?”

“Whatever you want, Baekhyun.” He agrees, meaning every word of it.

Baekhyun wakes up to the smell of breakfast cooking in the kitchen and he slowly makes his way with just the hint of a waddle in his step. Chanyeol is standing naked in the kitchen with nothing but his apron on making an omlette and he almost pounces on him to slap his bare ass when he notices the time.

“Holy sh*t! Chanyeol! It’s 10:30!” He yells. “You’re late for work, babe! Like seriously late!”

Chanyeol looks at him casually over one shoulder and shakes his head.

“Actually, I called out.”

Baekhyun hops up onto the kitchen counter in a pair of briefs and inspects Chanyeol carefully.

“You don’t… look very sick…”

Chanyeol swats in his direction with a spatula and Baekhyun laughs as he avoids it, scolding Chanyeol for playing with hot things on the burner.

“I called out to spend time with you, idiot. I told you I would.”

Baekhyun does vaguely recall such a statement being thrown around before.

“I thought you were kidding about that. I don’t want you to waste your sick time or vacation time over me, Chanyeol.”

The tall man spares him a quick glance but keeps working on breakfast.

“Are you going to get in trouble? Won’t you have more work piled up when you get back?”

Chanyeol turns off the stove and slides the omlette onto a plate for the two of them.

“I thought you would be happy to spend some extra time together.” He admits, seeming a little deflated.

Baekhyun scoots off of the counter and moves to be closer to Chanyeol. He touches his forearm in reassuring strokes and forces his attention down to him.

“I’m not going anywhere, Chanyeol. You can go to work and come back and I’ll still be here waiting for you. I love that you want me to be happy and you’re right, I want to spend every second of every day with you. But if I did that, I wouldn’t be able to hang out with Junha and I would be doing you a disservice. Your job means a lot to you.”

Chanyeol captures Baekhyun’s hands in his and brings them to his mouth to kiss.

“You mean a lot to me too.”

His heart melts and he doesn’t know what to do or what to say so he just pushes forward with the truth.

“Stop saying things that make my heart feel like it’s going to stop beating. I’m happy I’m important to you but you don’t have to do this.”

Chanyeol reluctantly agrees.

“But can I at least have breakfast with you before I leave?” He asks.

There was no way he was going to stand in the way of trying Chanyeol’s omlette for breakfast and the two of them sit on the kitchen island and eat off of a shared plate, laughing together about Baekhyun’s failed attempt at an omlette. He does the dishes as Chanyeol gets ready for work and he plans out his afternoon, trying to decide what he wants to do for dinner tonight. Chanyeol had mentioned making pizzas at home but that would require shopping. He walks Chanyeol to the door and kisses him goodbye like a good little house husband before turning to get ready to go out to do some shopping for the home. He puts on a white knit sweater with black jeans and spends too much time looking at himself in the mirror as he styles his hair with the dyson airwrap Chanyeol gifted him with. He swears it was on his list of things to get for the guest suite eventually, but Baekhyun knows better.

He’s tidying up the living room on his way out the door when he hears the doorbell ring. It’s strange but… in the months he’s been living here, not once has anyone rung the doorbell. Maybe that’s why it feels so eerie to hear it chiming through the house in a sing-song tinny ring. He shuffles to the door quickly and looks through the peep hole but doesn’t recognize the person on the other side. They looks small so he can’t really see them well. He takes a deep breath and reminds himself that this is a very secure building before he finally opens the door to greet the person.


Baekhyun stares at the woman in the doorway and he's not sure how or why he knows that she's not just a neighbor stopping by to ask for a cup of sugar. There's something in her face… something familiar that he can't quite place

"Hi." He says, suddenly stoney and guarded as he assesses her.

"My name is Jung Sooyoun. I'm… well, I'm…" She bites the inside of her lip and furrows her brow as she trails off.

"You gave birth to Junha." Baekhyun says flatly.

She seems startled by the assertion but nods her head in confirmation.

"Right…" He breathes. "Right, come in…"

Though his words invite her in, it takes a moment for his body to register the implication as he continues to stand there in the doorway until she raises her eyebrows in question.

"How did you know that I'm Junha's mama?" She asks once she's inside the apartment.

He closes his eyes, taking a deep balancing breath and feels his perfect mood souring.

"Your face." He spits quietly, resentfully, inexplicably jealous of it. "You look like him."

She grins, bending over as she slips off her shoes at the entryway and grabs a small pair of Paw Patrol sneakers without permission. Although truthfully, since she made Junha with Chanyeol and birthed him, she probably has more of a right to touch his shoes without permission than most people in the world. She smiles warmly at them with watering eyes and Baekhyun has to physically restrain his hands in his jean pockets to prevent himself from snatching the shoes from her.

"Ch—Chanyeol won't be home for a few hours." He says.

She seems unbothered by this.

"And my Junha?"

He stops himself from saying he's going to pick him up and decides that Junha doesn't need to come home before Chanyeol gives permission. He decides to see if Junmyeon can pick up Junha instead to buy some time.

"He's going to a friend's house after school. We were going to pick him up later… unless the plans have changed… Actually I should check on that now…" He says.

He goes to the living room and she replaces the shoes next to hers and follows. She looks around as if she's never been to the apartment before. And in truth… maybe she hasn't… they haven't really talked about her much and what they have shared has been mixed at best. He starts to shuffle to his room and then stops.

"Do you want… something to drink?" He asks.

He's the manny, not the butler… and yet he suddenly feels out of place in this home. Like his title is suddenly up for grabs somehow and he needs to take on the role of being a good host to assert dominance and secure his place.

"An ice water would be wonderful." She says with a lilting voice.

It has an almost nasal quality to it. But not in a bad way. In fact, it's just the opposite, it softens her tone and makes her sound angelic and sweet in a way that snarky Baekhyun is sure he could never sound. Feeling another stab of bitterness, he walks to the kitchen and grabs a bottle of water.

He should poison it.

Just kidding.

That would be a lot of cleaning up to do.

He passes the water to her as he heads back to his room, not stopping to hear her thanks. He closes the door behind himself and leans against the wall, sliding down to plop in the soft rug. His breathing suddenly feels labored as he tries to push back against a wave of anxiety that hits him.

This is it. This is how it all ends. He's going to lose Chanyeol and Junha and this bedroom and this… this whatever life they're building… She's Junha's mom… She's going to win and Junha deserves a mom on mother's day… a mom to hold his hand when he's sad… Someone who has the same smile lines in her face. He forces his head between his knees and takes purposeful breaths to steady himself.

"Junha…" He breathes. " I have to get it together for Junha…."

He scrambles to his feet and continues to anchor himself with heavy inhales and measured exhales and calls Junmyeon first. He doesn't answer and his peppy voicemail message starts to play and Baekhyun starts to feel hopeless when his phone vibrates showing Junmyeon is calling him back.

"Hey." He says answering.

He looks around like she might be listening from the other side of the door and ducks into his bathroom.

"What's up, Baekhyun? Is everything okay?"

Baekhyun looks at his reflection in the mirror for a second, trying to think of the words to say. He had been so excited about this outfit just minutes ago. He was so happy with how he looked and how wonderful his life is.


"Sorry, hey. It's Baekhyun." He says into the receiver.

"Yep… I saved your number. We text, remember? What's going on, Baekhyun. Are you okay? You sound… frazzled…?"

Baekhyun laughs softly.

"Um… Well… Let's start with this. Can you pick up Junha today?"

Junmyeon clears his throat.

"Yes. Of course. What's going on?"

"Maybe nothing… But… Still… I just need to buy some time to talk to Chanyeol first. I um… So today I got a knock at the door and Jung Sooyoun was at the door and that's—"

"You did the right thing, Baekhyun." Junmyeon interrupts. "Take a deep breath and stop worrying. Okay? Great call on this. Have you told Chanyeol?"

Baekhyun does as instructed and collapses forward against the bathroom counter.

"Not yet. I was so worried I was out of line or maybe I should just pick Junha up as usual since she's his mother and that's her right to see him and… I have no idea what to do here and I'm freaking out."

Junmyeon is quiet for a moment and then starts and stops himself again. Baekhyun watches himself, a frazzled man in a sweater. A clean sweater fresh out of the laundry that isn’t worn or falling apart, but not anything special now that he really assesses. He makes eye contact with the man standing in the mirror, a man in a pristine thirty thousand dollar bathroom, looking healthy, well fed, rested and falling apart over a child that isn’t his… He has no idea who this person staring back at him is… but… he likes that person a lot. And he loves the people that make him feel this way more than he's expressed…

"She…" A hesitation. "She is the one that birthed Junha." He settles, clearing his throat once more. "But a mother… well that's not my place to say, I suppose. The point is that you don't owe her anything, Baekhyun. You in your short time with him have done more for that little boy than she ever has safe for actually birthing him and you do not owe her anything. Neither does Junha or Chanyeol. So don't let her talk you into thinking she has a right to see him or to even be there. Call Chanyeol. Junha is safe here with people who love him and have never and will never abandon him for as long as he needs."

Baekhyun nods his head, unsure what to say.

"Baekhyun." He says through the receiver.


"You did the right thing. You're giving Chanyeol back some control here. It's his choice if he wants her around Junha. You're doing the right thing."

"I know but… I know Junha would love to see his… to see her."

Junmyeon doesn’t immediately argue that point. He sighs and comes back with resolve

"Junha won't understand, Baekhyun. He doesn't understand why she left and he won't understand why she's back or why she's leaving again if she's not here to stay. You looking out for what he wants and his needs makes you leaps and bounds more a part of his family in comparison. You're doing great and… Chanyeol isn't going to kick you out. He needs you, you know… More than you think."

"Thanks." He breathes.

"Call Chanyeol. We'll get Junha."

"Okay. Thank you so much Junmyeon."

"No thanks required. I'm his God parent and you're part of his family now."

Well… not really. But… it's a nice thought and he takes it in stride.

"Let me know what happens next?" He asks.

"Yeah, sure.. Of course."

He expects Junmyeon to hang up but they stay silently on the phone for a moment.

"You've got his Baekhyun." He encourages one last time before he lets the conversation end with a beep of the phone.

Baekhyun stares at the ceiling, humming the lyrics to the wonder pets theme song for team work. He gives himself a pep talk before he scrolls to Chanyeol's name in his texts. What kind of face will he make when Baekhyun tells him, she's here? Will he be happy? Will he be overjoyed? Will he… how does Baekhyun keep from crying if he sounds excited? How does he stay here? And what if he's angry? Won't that mean that he's still hurting? That part of him is still… something for her? Hung up on her? Missing her? Possibly in love with her?

He shakes out his hands at the wrist and rolls his head on his neck to the satisfying crunch where his muscles have tightened. He presses the dial button at the top of the chat and waits for a moment until his voice comes across the line light and clear.

"Hey… How did you know I was just thinking about how much I'd like to hear your voice right now?"

Baekhyun bites his lip and closes his eyes, savoring the teasing tone for as long as he can.

"Yeah, I'm actually calling because… I need you. I just…"

"I need you too, Baekhyun. But remember, I tried to take the day off. You’re the one that sent me away to work like a responsible adult." His voice is deep and full, the texture familiar and warm.

"I just need some help here. So… I don't know how to say this and I'm just going to say it okay?"

There's rustling on the other end of the line and Chanyeol says "hold on one sec."

After a few moments he can hear a badge scanner beep, some doors closing and another badge scanner and then there's nothing.

"Okay. I'm alone. Tell me anything but… not anything that will make it hard for me to walk through the office without getting fired."

Baekhyun covers his eyes with his forearm and realizes his eyes are watering already.

"So.… the doorbell rang today after you left… and I didn't know who it was at first… and I answered and I didn't know what to do. And… It's Jung Sooyoun, and she's currently on the couch and I don't know if I'm supposed to let her in the house or not… I don't know what to do and I'm so sorry."

He waits but there's no response on the other end of the line.

"Did she say what she wants?" He finally asks.

"No… I… I just panicked and I didn't know what to do and… should I find out?"

"You haven't picked up Junha right?"


"Don't pick him up. I'll get Junmyeon to get him. Don't leave her alone there. Just stay put. Let me call Junmyeon."

"Actually… um… I already did. Is that okay?"

There is silence for another moment.

"So Junmyeon is getting Junha?"


"And he knows Sooyoun is back?"

Baekhyun feels tears falling now. He's inexplicably hurt and upset by this strange frantic reaction to the news. He’s not sure what kind of reaction would have been acceptable but this feels… wrong.


There's no sound for so long that Baekhyun pulls the phone away to look to see if it disconnected.


"I'm coming home." He says simply.

"Okay." He replies. "I'll see you soon."

Chanyeol doesn't respond before hanging up. The line just goes dead and Baekhyun is left standing alone in the bathroom with a knife in his chest. Maybe this really is the end…

He pulls himself together and returns to the living room where Sooyoun is no longer on the couch. He falters, looking frantically around and starts searching when he finds her in Chanyeol's bed room.

"Hey… what are you doing in here?"

She turns around and there's no smile there in her expression. She has tear streaks on her face as she holds a framed photo of Junha in her hand.

"Are you Junha's step dad?" She asks.

Baekhyun's jaw clenches and he wants to say yes so badly that it physically turns his stomach to finally respond "no".

She turns back away from him and strokes the picture of Junha quietly.

"Hey… um, you can bring the photo… err… you can bring the photos if you want but… this is Chanyeol's room and… um, can you just… come back to the living room, please?"

"What are you to Junha?" She replies

He delays answering as long as possible, staring daggers into the back of her perfect head. She's so… beautiful. Of course, she is. Look at Chanyeol… look at Junha… She has long soft brown waves down her slender back to her waist. He petite frame fitted into a beautiful white button-down french-tucked into dark wash blue jeans that look like they were sewn to her in a perfect fit. He crosses the room and places a hand to her elbow, gently guiding her towards the door.

"I'm just the Manny." He answers softly.

Perhaps she took the low volume in his response as a sign of tenderness instead of weakness but she obliges and lets him guide her from the room where the bedding is still mussed from the night before. How he wishes he could go back to this morning and crawl back in bed and just forget all of this. But things were so good… They're always too good. The other shoe is bound to drop. And in this case the other shoe is a green suede Manolo Blahnik Gable open toe mule in size 6.

"Can I see his room?" She asks.

"Um… yes. But… let's hold off on that. Because, again, I'm just the Manny and I don't make it a habit of letting people into Junha's room without Chanyeol's okay."

She seems like she wants to protest as her brow lifts slightly but then she cuts her eyes away and keeps walking toward the living room with the photo frame in her hand.

"Did you tell him I'm here?" She asks.

"Yes, I had to." He replies as they return to the couch.

"He told you to call when I come?" She says, tone flat and unreadable.

He thinks about how she sayswhenshe comes as if he might have known about this… Did he know…?

"No… He asked that I call if anyone comes by that he hasn't expressly introduced me to or vice versa. As a courtesy… you know, since it's his place." Baekhyun replies, taking a seat in his usual spot.

"Hm. And you live here?" She asks.

He swallows thickly and nods his head.


"And where do you sleep?" She asks, gesturing to the couch.

He feels his face heat up for no reason and he shakes his head no, slowly pointing to his bedroom.

"I have the guest suite. That's where the nannys stay."

She looks skeptical for a moment and he decides that she must have noticed the glasses of water on both side tables in the master. Or the bedding askew. Or maybe other evidence lurking around…

"And Junha… what does he call you?" She asks.

"Just my name. He calls me Baekhyun. Well he tries to anyway, he kind of can’t get the y in there so I’m mostly Baekh’eon."

"And does he know about you and his father?" She asks without skipping a beat.

"Hm? " He responds.

"Does he know about you and Chanyeol?"

He swallows a lump in his throat and balls his hands into fists.

"There's nothing to know. He's my employer. I'm… an employee."

Baekhyun's mind slips to the morning, to the way Chanyeol's eyes crinkled as he smiled saying goodbye. He remembers the naked breakfast in the kitchen and the French kissing in the foyer. Admittedly, not employer-employee like. Also the fact that they literally just solidified that they’re dating less than 24 hours ago. But that was all going to end now… This is all going to end now with Sooyoun back in the picture.

"Well I doubt that's the case. I know what he's like but as long as that's kept away from Junha, that's fine."

Baekhyun clears his throat and excuses himself to the laundry room. He transfers the dry clothes from the dryer into the basket and moves the wet clothes to the dryer. Bringing the basket to the living room.

"Do you mind?" He asks, setting down the basket.

"No, go ahead. Do you do all the cleaning?" She asks.

He clears his throat again for what seems the hundredth time and shakes his head.

"No, these are just my clothes." He says.

Which is true enough, even though he does in fact do whatever laundry is needed. And what does she mean when she says she knows what Chanyeol's like…? He's like a gem of a person. He's kind and smart and… he's perfect.

Is she saying she doesn't think Baekhyun can resist such a perfect man? Because she's right about that even if he wouldn't admit it to her. They're quiet as he folds his tee shirts, his sweat pants, his towels… All of the items carrying memories that she's not privy to. Tangible objects that he can hold close to him that remind him that what they had was real. He finishes up and stacks the clothing in the now empty basket and stands to take them to his room when the front door beeps and Chanyeol comes flying down the hall.

"Sooyoun." He says simply.

"Hey babe. Long time no see." She replies coolly.

The word babe hangs in the air like the ring of a shotgun echoing in the space.

She sets down the picture frame on the couch and gets to her feet, walking around the couch. Without hesitation he scoops her up into his arms and Baekhyun is sure his mouth must be hanging open but he tries to wait it out. He tries to give Chanyeol the opportunity to explain what’s happening. He couldn’t have known. He just could not have been hiding something this major. But he stops watching after a few minutes pass and they stay still in the longest embrace he's ever seen. There’s nothing more to say in this situation. Chanyeol hasn’t even looked up once. He hasn’t said a single word.

So, Baekhyun quietly excuses himself to his room, and then he starts to pack his things.

Chapter 5: Part 4 - Intersection of light, a prism of possiblities

Chapter Text

Baekhyun holds his toothbrush in a shaking hand, balancing his duffle bag on the corner of the countertop that he’s so familiar with now. This bathroom—that seemed too luxurious for him, too beautiful to be his, too comfortable to allow himself to dream about—feels suddenly very cold. He’s right back to his first night here, looking at the pristine marble flooring with disdain and wondering why he’s here in this space that doesn’t belong to him. He feels that sureness creeping back in as he remembers that he doesn’t belong here. This isn’t his home…

“Put it down and look at me.”

Baekhyun startles, dropping his toothbrush in a clatter to the sink basin by the sound of Chanyeol’s voice. The man is leaning against the doorway to the bathroom staring at him with his brows knitted together. He’s not sure how long he’d been standing there or when Chanyeol had come into his room. He wasn’t sure of anything right now. He looks at Chanyeol in the reflection of the mirror but turns his head down to his duffle rather than meet his eyes head on.

“Where are you going?” He asks when Baekhyun continues to grip his duffle bag tighter.

“I don’t know.”

“If you don’t have anywhere to go then you should just stay put.” Chanyeol’s stern voice rings in the bathroom’s acoustics.

Baekhyun feels the stab of resentment in the words even though he wants to give the man the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t mean it in condescension.

“I don’t need your charity, Chanyeol. I’ll figure it out. I have money saved and I can get by on my own if I need to.”

“I don’t want you going out and just putting money down on the first place you find. I want you to look earnestly for somewhere you love if you’re going to leave.”

Baekhyun lets the burst of emotion in his chest settle for a moment before he dares to speak. In the end, he’s still being considerate and a good man. But where is the man who was all in? Is he gone now? All the fire towards Sooyoun, was that because he missed her and wanted her back? Somehow, it feels like Junhong is winning…

“So…” Baekhyun hesitantly turns towards Chanyeol. “You’re okay with me leaving but you just want me to really love where I’m moving to.”

“I didn’t say that.” Chanyeol counters, still leaning against the door frame.

“Well, you’re not exactly begging me to stay either.”

He holds Baekhyun’s gaze with deep pleading eyes instead.

“Do you want me to beg? Do you need me to beg you to stay here in this home with me and Junha? Because I’ve done that over and over again now and you know I’m not above doing it again. But I’m not going to hold you hostage here either. If you’re set on leaving, I just have to let you go. I don’t have anything more to offer you.” Chanyeol says softly.

Baekhyun tries to break down the look in his eyes, digesting the words with care.

“I don’t know if it’s my place to stay. You have Sooyoun here now and she’s Junha’s mother. So where does that leave me?”

“She’s Junha’s mother, that’s true. And she’s an old friend of mine.”

“I thought you hated her.” Baekhyun spits, a little more venomous than he intends.

“I loved her very much and things didn’t end the way I would have liked. But… I’m glad she’s okay and I’m glad she’s alive and healthy. I’m glad she’s here because we really need to talk about whether she’s going to start pulling her weight as a parent.”

Baekhyun nods his head in understanding. Things didn’t end the way he would have liked. Maybe that’s it. Maybe he still loves her and wants to make things work between them for the sake of Junha. Baekhyun can’t fault him that. He can’t help that Sooyoun is the mother of his child and if it comes down to it, of course he wants the best for Junha. Of course, they all want this to work out in a way that brings the best life to Junha.

“Yeah. I’ll get my stuff together and head out. I don’t want to get in the way of your discussions on parenting.” Baekhyun says, reaching for the abandoned toothbrush and shoving it haphazardly into the duffel.

He scoots around Chanyeol leaving the body washes and shampoos behind.

He grabs only what he came with, leaving his cellphone on the charger.

“Baekhyun…” Chanyeol’s voice is soft as he walks towards him.

He hesitates on his way to the closed door, turning towards Chanyeol’s approach.

“I really… I can’t do this, Chanyeol. I’m not the guy who is good about these types of situations. I can’t be the extra person here waiting for you to decide that I’m in the way. Junha’s got his mom and his dad. He doesn’t need me here too.”

“Junha does need you.” Chanyeol says pointedly.

Baekhyun’s wavering heart can’t help but hold a weighted expectation that Chanyeol will follow up the statement with an admission of how much he also needs him here, but it doesn’t come.

“Just give me a few days to show you that nothing is changing. Please.” Chanyeol adds.

Baekhyun realizes that he wants this to work so badly that he’s fighting against his instincts at this point. His foot is still turned toward the door, ready to get out but his heart is willing him to stay here. Chanyeol’s hand finds his chin and tilts his head up so that they’re facing one another head on.

“May I kiss you?”

Baekhyun nods his head ever so slightly and Chanyeol lowers his mouth in a sweet surrender that melts their mouths sealed. It’s such a quick kiss but somehow it soothes an avalanche of feeling inside of him.

“Will you stay? Even just tonight?” Chanyeol whispers, chasing his words with another brisk kiss to the corner of Baekhyun’s mouth.

He stares up at the man, feeling the tears brimming in his eyes and he doesn’t fight the spill as he nods his head. He feels so vulnerable looking up at Chanyeol, but he has nothing more he can hide. He’s so fully transparent and needy as he drops the bag on the floor and wraps himself around Chanyeol’s chest in a crushing hug. The man holds him right back, matching that tight squeeze and strokes the back of his head lovingly, but he’s still a little bit farther to reach. He’s crushing Baekhyun in his arms, but his gaze is vacant as he looks past the moment they’re sharing and into something that Baekhyun isn’t a part of.

“Is she staying?” Baekhyun asks.

“I asked her to stay, yes. We need to talk, and I can’t have her disappearing again for years on end without being able to reach her.”

Baekhyun swallows hard, feeling his mouth dry. He pushes past the insecurities bleeding into the comfort of this hug once more. The small mean voice inside of him is screaming “So what if she leaves? You have me! We’re happy! You don’t need her or her perfect tiny toes in her perfect tiny shoes!” But he reels in the anguish to take long patient draws of Chanyeol’s cologne, trying to block out the lingering scent of her perfume that clings to his shirt. She’s so elegant, smelling of pears and musk, while he’s been here smelling so desperate like his body wash alone was enough…

Chanyeol’s eyes open with a startle at the sound of the dryer door slamming closed in the hallway and he reaches at his side searching for Baekhyun. He hadn’t slept here last night though. He was in his room on the other side of the house. Or… that’s where he’s supposed to be. Maybe he left. Sooyoun had shaken him quite a bit by the time he’d gotten there. Chanyeol was desperately trying to formulate a game plan as he raced across town, but he still had absolutely nothing when he walked into his home and saw her standing there. She’s exactly the same somehow. Unchanged by time, unaffected by stress or life, looking like a ghost that stepped out of his memories and into the present.

He was torn.

Chanyeol had every intention of throwing her out of the flat as soon as he walked in. He had planned on telling her that this passive aggressive tactic wouldn’t work but instead… his resolve weakened the moment she was in his line of sight. It felt like he’d been holding his breath for years and then she steps back into his living room, and he can breathe again. How much worry had he been carrying over her?

He checks the clock and realizes it’s only 7:30 in the morning and groggily moves to the bathroom. It had been less than 24 hours ago that this bathroom had seemed like his favorite place on the planet. He had the man he cherished in his arms, his kisses peppering Chanyeol’s face, his expression so soft and perfect. He flushes the toilet and walks to the sink to wash his hands, staring up at his mussed-up hair sticking up along the side of his head. Was that a fluke? Was it just a fleeting moment for him? Just one night and one perfect morning?

He uses the water coating his hands to try to smooth his hair but it’s no use, the dried hair styling wax has it shaped at an angle he’ll have to wash out.

He makes his way into the hall where a fresh load of laundry is going and takes that as hope… Please let that be Baekhyun’s washing in there… He carries hope that he’s staying as he rounds the corner to the kitchen, looking for any trace of him but only finds a single glass on the counter with a lipstick print on the lip in one perfect pink semicircle.

He takes the glass in his hand and feel the deep-seated stir of emotion as he looks down at it once more. He remembers this. He still remembers how her mouth felt next to his ear as she whispered, she loved him, he remembers the sound of her voice, the trill of her laughter, the bite of her sneer. He loved Sooyoun with everything he can give. But he couldn’t give her the one thing she needed to stay. He couldn’t give her something that he didn’t have to give to her at the time and she could feel it then like she can certainly feel it now. Sooyoun isn’t a fool.

“So, I found somewhere to go.” Baekhyun’s voice cuts into his thoughts and he looks up at him as he whirs past him to put folded dish cloths away.

He’s not staying…


Baekhyun slams the drawer closed and looks up with disdain.

“I asked a friend if I could crash a few days and he insisted I come over.”

Chanyeol’s throat tightened, and his lip curled up on one side, knowing he was feeling the ugly bite of jealousy. But if Baekhyun was so intent on leaving, then he should just go. If everyone is so hell-bound on just leaving him, then he wasn’t going to spend the rest of his life begging everyone to stay. Even if he wanted to leave Chanyeol, the fact that he was so happy to just bail on Junha was pissing him off more than he could put into words.

“Are you running to your ex again?”

Baekhyun scoffs.

“Are you?”

Chanyeol sets the glass back down on the counter in a clatter. He strides quickly to Baekhyun and takes his wrist, pulling him from the room. Baekhyun snatches at his wrist and tries to break loose, but he readjusts his hold and continues dragging him to his room. Baekhyun’s quick breaths and angry breathing only make him look more enigmatic and charming but he’s not about to kiss him. He’s about to scream.

“I didn’t ask Jung Sooyoun to come here, Baekhyun. You f*cking know that. I’m not racing off to go shack up with some asshole either. We had a life here that you and I were building together and if you want to leave, then please go ahead. I’m honestly so tired of this charade of domestic bliss you put on when it’s not even what you want. If you want the bad boy who leaves you feeling high and dry, then go be with him. But I’m not that guy.”

Baekhyun snaps his hand from Chanyeol’s grasp and he allows him the freedom, glaring down at him.

“You’re every bit the bad guy in this story, you’re just too self-righteous to see it. You think you’re the hero? You come in and save the poor homeless guy with no job, give him a place to stay and seduce him and then what? The moment your ex-girlfriend shows up you’re right back in her web. I woke up this morning and she was sleeping on the couch in a silk tank top and microscopic panties, draped over the couch in the living room like a cat in front of the fireplace. You think I want this? You think I want to be here with you and watch whatever this is unfolding?” Baekhyun jabs his finger into the center of Chanyeol’s chest, watching the man’s temper flare. “You’re not the hero, Chanyeol. You’re the villain right now.”

Chanyeol swats Baekhyun’s hand away and steps closer to him, glaring down in a way he’s never seen before.

“Maybe I am the villain. Maybe I’m beyond the point a person can be pushed around. I’m so tired, Baekhyun. I’m so damn tired of this constant feeling of being one step behind others. I want to settle down, I want Junha to have a family again. I don’t want to keep having nanny after nanny traipse through my home. I want one person I can come home to with Junha having two parents like other kids. He deserves the chance to have a mom in his life and I won’t be the one to deprive him of that. If that’s a sacrifice, then you’re not the man I thought you were.”

Baekhyun stumbles as he tries to step back.

“You said you wanted me… You said that this is real…” He mumbles.

“Well maybe I was wrong about that too. I thought you could compartmentalize putting Junha’s well-being and needs first and our relationship second but if that’s not something you can do then I was entirely wrong about you. I’m glad Sooyoun is back so I can realize this now instead of later when I’m deeper in the hole.”

Baekhyun’s hand trembles as he reaches up to cover his mouth.

“I… I never asked you to spend a dime on me…”

“Just take the phone and leave if you’re going to leave.” Chanyeol growls, his mind blanking with rage.

After everything they shared together, after all of it, he had done it once again. He’d given his life to something and bled himself dry trying to make it work without a care to the red flags telling him he was heading for disaster, for burnout, for a broken heart. And once again, he’d wrapped Junha in this mess. Once again, he’d have to explain that Baekhyun was gone, and he wouldn’t be back. Just like all of the nannies he had before who moved on the different kids, different cities, different opportunities as they made decisions for themselves. But Chanyeol isn’t one of those people. Somebody has to put Junha first above everything and if nobody else does it, he will.

“I thought you wanted me to stay.” Baekhyun says, voice trembling in a way that tugs on Chanyeol’s heart.

He wanted to breakdown and reach out and comfort him. He wanted to wipe the tears spilling over those soft cheeks and lay him down in this bed that belongs to the two of them now and soothe him, to kiss him until nothing hurts anymore and to f*ck until they don’t care about any incompatible issues that are trying to break between them. But he’s done begging people to stay in his life here with Junha. This is the breaking point. This is the last piece to fall through the cracks. He’s dreading the look on his son’s face or the hurt he’s going to read in those eyes. He's responsible for that pain and he’s all too aware. He played a game of chance and risked his own heart, but he couldn’t forgive himself for risking his son’s in the process.

“I took the day off of work to talk things out with Junha’s mother. I really need this to work out between us because I can’t stand the idea of letting Jun down again. I need you to decide if you’re going to stay here while I give things with Sooyoun a chance or if you’re going to just give up and run away.”

Tears fall from the point of that perfect chin and Baekhyun looks like he’s had his heart removed from his body. He clutches his chest softly like he’s having a heart attack and slumps down to the floor. It takes the control of him willing his very synapses not to fire for him to restrain reaching for him there, collapsed against the bed that they’d made love in the night before. Chanyeol really thought this was it… He really thought that Baekhyun was the answer to their problems, and they were going to have a family together… But he had been wrong once again. The universe has a way of bringing things to the surface sometimes and this was the perfect example of it.

“I just… I just need a second…” Baekhyun chokes out, his resolve building and his voice starting to stabilize. “And then I’ll head out.”

He hates himself for it, but he hears himself asking once more “Where are you going?”

Baekhyun looks up at him, eyes raw and red with tears, nose pinkened, mouth dry as he peels his lips apart.

“I think it’s better if we don’t talk about it.”

Chanyeol understands instantly. He turns to his dresser and clutches the top of it with whitening knuckles. In an instant he’s taken the stack of books on top and pushed them off to scatter to the floor. He slams his hand down against the flat top of the dresser, palms slapping against the surface until his hand is burning and releases a visceral growl. Driving his hands through his hair he falls back against the wall, knocking a canvas down in the process. He slumps to the floor across the room from where Baekhyun’s crumbled form is sitting against the bed, and they stare at one another. He realizes that he’s crying, vision clouding, and he presses the heels of his palms deep against the ridges of his brows.

“Get the f*ck out.” He says, so quiet that he’s sure there’s no way that Baekhyun can hear him.

After a moment, Baekhyun gathers himself up and walks quietly from the room. The canvas next to Chanyeol slumps forward with a quiet slap and he stays there on the floor until he’s sure he hears the front door latch closed in the quiet home. The door to his room remains open, the books scattered in the path leading him to the bathroom, the echo of their words still ringing in the space. He hangs his head as he cries, feeling like the very breath in his lungs is turning to fire as he struggles to catch his breath.


He looks up at Sooyoun in the doorway, still in nothing but her matching silk undergarments, her long thin legs are milky white and toned as she makes her way to him. She moves the canvas aside and takes a seat next to him, reaching for his head and pulling it down to her chest. Cradling his shaking body that eclipses her small form, she rocks him as he sobs until the light morning light fades into an afternoon sun.

He tried to change the chant of the name “Baekhyun” in his mind to the battle cry that was his son’s name instead but it’s still too soon. He just keeps replaying the moments between them over and over trying to hold onto each, his heart slowing in his chest as it numbs to the pain with every beat without him. He burrows his face into her skin and breathes in that familiar scent and feels strangely comforted by the familiarity of her touch, even after all of these years.

“I’m sorry… run that by me one more time.” Junmyeon’s mouth is wide open, and his face is bright red like he’d been drinking wine all night.

He was probably about to drink all night, judging from the way his shoulders were beginning to shake. Baekhyun takes a slow breath and looks back down at the lip of the hot teacup in his hands. He repeats the story details over and over as instructed; his heart already shattered in his chest.

“And he told you he was going to try to make things work with Sooyoun?” Junmyeon rasps on a dry whisper.

Baekhyun nods his head and takes a long sip, loving the burn of the hot liquid that travelled down his throat.

“Pretty much those exact words. He said I could hang around while he tried to make things work or I could get the f*ck out.”

Junmyeon shakes his head.

“I’m sorry, Baekhyun, but I just don’t believe you. I just… I can’t imagine him saying that. I’ve known him now for… it just doesn’t make sense…”

Baekhyun sets down the cup and looks up at Junmyeon with a sardonic smile.

“Yeah, I agree. I honestly have no idea what happened today and I’m not going to stick around to find out. I just need to spend a few minutes with Junha before I go. I can’t leave without telling him why I’m leaving. I can’t do that to him.”

Junmyeon was furiously texting for so long that I thought maybe he’d forgotten I was there.

“What are you going to tell him?”

Baekhyun swallowed hard and wipes tears from his eyes.

“I’m sure as hell not going to tell him the truth.”

He tries to laugh at his own joke, but Baekhyun knows it’s too hard to swallow. He’s trying desperately to hold things together for Junha and Junmyeon seems to respectfully give him an encouraging nod, sucking his lips in and holding a flat mouth to bite back anything he might want to say.

“I’m just going to tell him that I need to go help a friend. That I love him very much and I’ll always love him. And I’m going to tell him that he has so many people that love him… and… I’m not going to make any promises that I can’t keep about seeing him again.”

“You know Chanyeol is going to let you see him. He loves Junha too much to keep you two apart, Baekhyun. I know this is just a mental break or something. Once he spends some time at the mental hospital, I’m about to have him committed to, he’ll come around.”

“We f*cked.” Baekhyun says suddenly.

Junmyeon swallows and looks down at the counter.

“It wasn’t about sex for him, Baekhyun.”

“Maybe it was.”

He shrugs his shoulders and shakes out his arms and legs as he gets to his feet.

“Maybe he got it out of his system, and he was just too horny to think straight. Maybe he was just blinded by lust for a while and now he’s done. I don’t know, Junmyeon. I really have no idea what happened between us. But what I do know is that Park Chanyeol and Park… Park Junha… those two have the power to break me in a way that I’ve never experienced before. I’ve had my share of heartbreak and dating men that are absolute tools, but nobody has ever been able to break me the way that he has… this… I almost couldn’t get over having my heartbroken by someone that treated me like I was garbage. But this… this is so much worse. I can’t do this. I’m not strong enough for this.”

“Please, Baekhyun. Please give him some time. This isn’t like him, Baekhyun. This isn’t right. He… he’s crazy about you, Baekhyun, I know he is. He looks at you—”

“Stop.” Baekhyun hisses.

Junmyeon stops and throws his head back, pacing in his kitchen. Baekhyun finishes the hot tea and steps to a mirror by the hallway to slap some color into his cheeks and pull himself together.

“I’m going to go…I’m going to say goodbye to Jun… and then I’m going to go lick my wounds and try to figure out how to move on with my life.”

Junmyeon rounds the kitchen island and puts his hand on Baekhyun’s forearm.

“Where are you going to go? What are you going to do? I can’t just let that trifling ass witch come burst into your life and send you into ruin like she does with everything her grimy hands touch.”

“Her hands are perfect.” Baekhyun says.

“Of course, they are, God, I hate that woman.” Junmyeon throws his head back again and groans. “She’s always just been so… put together and beautiful…”

Baekhyun nods his head slowly.

“I can see her in Junha now…” He breathes, looking at a photo of Jun on the wall with a faraway expression.

Junmyeon covers his eyes in his palm, massaging his brow bone in long pinching motions. He bites a laugh that carries no joy and heaves a long sigh that Baekhyun feels in his soul.

“Yeah… Yeah, me too.” He agrees.

Baekhyun steadies his breathing and pulls in a big breath of air, forcing his expression to train into a smile. He steels his spine and walks confidently down the hall towards the room with the loud action sequences blaring from the other side of the door. He opens the door and finds Junha playing with his avengers on the floor in front of the flat screen tv, a scenario already fully constructed. Junha’s eyes sparkle as he sees Baekhyun and he races to him instantly, dropping his toys. He launches his lithe body up, knowing Baekhyun would catch him, and he swings the little one around once.

“Baekheon!! Is it’s time to go home now?”

Baekhyun cradles the back of Junha’s hand in his palm and holds him as tight as he can for a moment too long. The child can tell something is off and hugs him back a little harder too.

“Did Baekheon has a bad day?” The child asks softly against his ear.

“Yeah, buddy. Baekhyun is having a bad day.” He whispers on a forced smile. “But I’m going to be okay.”

Junha gently pats Baekhyun’s head, arms still wrapped securely around his neck.

“You okay, Baekheonnie. You ares gonna be ohhhkay.” Junha soothes, giving Baekhyun the same soft voice that he’s heard his whole life from the people around him that love him so much.

“Yeah, Jun. I’m okay. Listen… I need to talk to you, okay?”

Junha is hesitant as he leans away a little. They meet eyes and Baekhyun forces an expression that he hopes reads more carefree than he’s capable in this heartache. He sets the boy down on the couch and reaches for the remote to mute the tv. Sehun’s office is spacious and clean with buckets of toys tucked against the wall from where it frequently serves as a playroom for Junha. Junha doesn’t let go as he looks up at Baekhyun, his little fist balled in Baekhyun’s sleeve. Baekhyun covers his hand there and smiles down at him.

“My friend… he’s having a hard time right now, Junha… And I need to be there for him.”

Junha’s hold tightens and Baekhyun’s resolve is shaken for a fraction of a second, watching those big round eyes flicker across his face in searching glances.

“So, I’m not going to be there when you get home tonight.”

“When are you’s coming home?” Jun asks, voice stable despite the painful pull to his brows.

“I’m… I’m not sure, Junha. I really don’t know. But that’s why…”

Baekhyun strokes Junha’s cheek gently with his thumb and holds a hard look with the little one.

“That’s why I came here today. Because I wanted to talk to you before I leave.”

Junha’s mouth is twisted, and his breathing skitters a bit. If he cries, Baekhyun might just break down and steal the kid. He might just run away with him. But then again… he loves Junha too much for him to hurt like that. So, he keeps a gentle smile on his face and gives a reassuring squeeze of his hand on his knee.

“Is Baekheon is coming back?”

“I will come back as soon as I am able to, Jun. Because I love you so much. You have so many people who love you. We’re friends, right?”

Junha nods his head.

“And if I needed help, I know you would want to help me. Because you’re my good friend. So, I’m going to go and help my friend so I can be a good friend too.”

Junha doesn’t let go.

The friend that needs helping here is Baekhyun. He’s stepping away to help himself right now because he’s too weak to stand by and watch Chanyeol try to make a relationship with a women work right in front of his face when it should be him on the receiving end of that love. He can’t stay in that apartment and watch as Sooyoun steps into role as Mom when he wanted to keep playing house and pretending that this beautiful and brilliant kid was his own. But Chanyeol is right… Junha deserves two parents. He deserves a mom that he can give flowers to on Mother’s Day…

“I don’t like Baekheon to be a good friend. I like Baekheon to be my friend.” Junha says softly.

“I am your friend, Jun. I will always always always be your friend. No matter what, you will always know that I am on your side.” He wraps the kid to his chest and kisses the top of his head, memorizing the softness of his dark hair and the smell of his Johnson & Johnson shampoo. “Promise me you’ll be good?”

Junha shakes his head no.

“Promise me you won’t cause problems for your dad?”

Junha continues to shake his head no.

“I love you.” He says once more and kisses the top of his head. “Bye, Jun.”

He pries Junha’s hands off of him and tries to walk out of the office before his face falters. He makes it halfway down the hall before the tears start to fall. He’s suddenly heavy with the weight of understanding that he may never see the child again and he wants to turn around and hug him just one more time. This kid that made him realize that love can be trust, love can be friendship, love can be quiet and still sure…

Junmyeon tries to stop him, but he apologizes, swatting tears from his eyes. He grabs his bag and leaves his phone on the counter purposefully.

“I’ve gotta go.” He chokes out, reaching down to grab his shoes, running out of the apartment in his socks.

It feels so final in this moment, as he tries to catch his breath. He hears Junha’s cries faintly on the other side of the door, and he starts to run away before he can turn back around. Maybe Chanyeol would be mad at him for coming by without permission, but he at least got permission from Junmyeon… he’s the God parent so his word has to count for something. Now he’s on his own again. He’s done now, for good. He’s out of their life for the first time in months and it doesn’t feel freeing at all. It feels like his only tether to the ground has been cut and he’s spinning out of control, caught in the wind like a balloon that’s climbing towards atmosphere that’s too thin to sustain human life.

“I just want to be a part of his life, Chanyeol. I’m entitled to this. I’m his mother.” Sooyoun says calmly, picking invisible dust particles off of her white scoop neck tee shirt.

Chanyeol looks at the clock for the hundredth time and realizes that he needs to start winding this conversation down. Sehun is supposed to be dropping off Junha any minute now. Apparently Baekhyun had stopped by to speak to him, and he was inconsolable until Junmyeon agreed he could come home. Baekhyun was supposed to go and stay with Junmyeon, but he ran out and left his phone and they had no idea when he’d be back. Baekhyun wasn’t supposed to go to his ex’s place… he had been planning to stay with Junmyeon… But now he was God only knows where with God knows who… This is all his fault.

“I want you to be a part of his life too, Soo, but the thing is… Frankly, I just don’t trust you’re going to stay. He has so many people pass through his life as it is, and I’m terrified you’re just going to do what you did last time and disappear without a trace for years on end again.”

“I left because you were in love with someone else.” She deadpans.

“I literally was not in love with anyone else, Sooyoun. No offence but, I wasn’t in love with anyone when you left. Except Junha. I loved you, Soo. Don’t get me wrong, I would have stayed with you for the rest of my life. I genuinely loved you. But I wasn’t in love with you the way that you needed, and your pride couldn’t handle that rejection.”

She scoffs and rolls her eyes.

“My pride was not the issue. You had a thing for some guy, and I had to watch you shamelessly flirt and blush around him constantly. And if I asked you to leave then I would have been the asshole or I could leave and I’d be the asshole and since it didn’t matter either way… Yeah, I left. I wanted to figure out what was so wrong with me, Chanyeol. But I’ve realized that there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m perfectly worthy of love without you and it’s your loss if you don’t want to be with me.”

“I never said there was something wrong with you.” He grumbles.

“No. You never said those words to me. But you sure did make me feel like I was less than anyone else when you would make pitiful statements about how you don’t need to be happy, you just need to make Junha happy, and you don’t need anything else in life except for me to live by your side. But you were saying that you were going to be this martyr who throws away their desires and needs to sacrifice yourself to be with me and I honestly could not deal with that. I had just given birth and I just couldn’t breathe. I felt so stifled by your love. So, I did the irresponsible thing. I did the thing that no mother should do, and I left, Chanyeol. I left behind my kid in your very capable hands but it’s time that changes. He deserves to live with me for a while.”

Chanyeol’s spine straightens.

“Woah… woah… what the hell did you just say…? Did you say you want him to live with you?”

“I’m his mother and it’s my right to live with my son.” She says pointedly, crossing her arms over her chest.

“You gave birth to him, but you are not his mother.” Chanyeol spits, earning a shuffle from Sooyoun’s side of the kitchen table as she sits up and rolls her shoulders.

“I am his mother, and you will respect me as such. You wouldn’t even have the little guy if you hadn’t been with me. So, save the spiteful words and just face up. I get to be in his life, and I don’t care how I make that happen.”

“So, what, where are you staying?” Chanyeol asks irritation bleeding out into his tone.

“I’m at the St. Regis hotel. I’m fine.”

“The hotel??? You want to take my son to go live with you at the hotel???” Chanyeol barks laughter. “Absolutely not!”

“Then I’ll keep staying here. I can move into the guest suite since it’s not empty.”

“It’s not empty… He could still come back.”

She shakes her head with another eye roll.

“That’s not happening around my kid. I refuse to let you keep him from me, his mother, while you parade a string of boyfriends in and out of his life. You want to be a single man who dates a bunch of pretty boys? Have at it. But you’re such a hypocrite for insinuating I might leave and hurt him when you keep getting him attached to nannies that you’re f*cking and kicking out on rotation.”

Chanyeol slams his fist down on the table and kicks back his chair as he stands. The chair skitters across the floor with a loud clatter.

“You have no idea what the hell you’re talking about, Sooyoun. I did not date any nannies until him and he’s not one of many. He’s like nobody else I’ve ever met. He took care of our little boy day in and day out like that kid was his own. He’s twice the parent you’ve ever been. You have no idea what you’re saying.”

There is a knock at the door, and he heaves his breaths into a rhythm, trying to cool down. He turns around with a long shuttering inhale and restores the chair to the table.

“Go sit on the couch.” He orders.

She stays put.

“Look, I’m not going to deprive you of meeting your son but you’re going to do it on my terms. So go sit on the couch.” He says walking towards the front door.

He turns from the entrance to the hallway and slowly moves his gaze to her in irritation to check that she listens. Begrudgingly she gets to her feet and crosses to sit on the couch. He makes his way down the rest of the hallway and feels like everything good in the world has left his reach. He can’t wait to pick up Junha and hold him in his arms but when he opens the door to face the kid, the little one simply stands at Sehun’s side with his eyes trained on the ground. He makes no move to look up in greeting or speak. He simply stands rigid at Sehun’s side. The tall man gives a soft shrug and meets Chanyeol’s eyes pointedly.

“He’s been like this for hours. We didn’t know what to do. He needs his dad.”

“Thanks… I’m sorry about all this.”

“It’s not your fault entirely… Is… Is she here?”

Sehun and Chanyeol make eye contact and he nod slowly to confirm. He shakes his head to indicate he thinks this is a bad idea and Chanyeol agrees once more with another nod.

“Tonight?” Sehun asks.

“I don’t have a choice. She’s right… she has rights and I want this to be as painless as possible for him and getting police and attorney involved off the get go can be really bad. So… might as well cooperate.”

Sehun pushes his glasses up his nose and puts his hands on his hips.

“He’s really shaken… He thinks he’s never going to see him again. What the heck happened this morning? Did you really tell him you’re getting back with Sooyoun?”

Chanyeol’s mouth falls open in shock.

“What…? No. Absolutely I would never do that.”

Sehun shrugs his shoulders.

“Well, that’s the story he gave Junmyeon earlier. He said you told him you were going to make things work with Sooyoun and he needed to get the eff out.”

Chanyeol glances down at Junha who is still standing still with his eyes down, picking at the band aid on his stuffed Hulk’s back.

“I did tell him I was going to try to work things out with her, but I meant for the sake of Jun. I never said we’d be getting—I didn’t tell him to move out… I mean I did tell him to leave but he said he was going to leave… He said he was going to go…”

Sehun heaves a sigh and shakes his head slowly.

“What a mess. This is all just… messy.”

“Look, I’ll call him. I can get this straightened out.” Chanyeol says softly.

“Well… you can… when he comes back to get his phone. He left it at our place earlier and ran out the door without a forwarding address or location… So… Junmyeon was freaking the heck out about not knowing how to contact him.”

Chanyeol’s heart stutters in his chest with worry. He’s without a phone again… he’s out on his own, possibly homeless and without a phone again… The worry creeps in through the tips of his fingers, sending a chill down his spine and winding up a panic in his chest. Now is just not the time for introducing Sooyoun to Junha… This is all too much…

“Okay well let me go ahead and get this over with…” Chanyeol reaches down and scoops Junha up into his arms.

Sehun steps in the door and helps pull off Jun’s shoes and places them by the door before wishing him one final good luck and leaving.

Chanyeol swallows hard and locks the front door.

“Listen… I know you’re sad because Baekhyun left today but we get to meet someone new today and that’s really happy, right?”

Jun remains unchanged, his lower lip stuck out as he continues to pick at his Hulk.

“Don’t you want to meet a new friend?”

“I want Baekheon…” Junha whispers.

Chanyeol restrains himself from cursing and nods his head.

“Yeah, big guy. I miss him too. But come on. I have a big surprise for you.”

He starts towards the hallway and notices Sooyoun has moved to the end of the hall and is no longer on the couch as he asked. She’s grinning from ear to ear and reaching out her arms for Junha.

“There he is!” She squeals.

Junha glances up at her voice and seems to do a double take. Chanyeol is impressed that Junha might actually recognize her already from just a picture.

“Who’s is that?” He asks.

“Who is that? That is your surprise.” Chanyeol says softly.

He’s genuinely intrigued by the fact that Junha seems to be assessing the woman very carefully.

“Hello Junha.” She says as they get closer.

She reaches up and touches his hair without checking with him or Chanyeol and he seems a little unsure about the sudden touch.

“I’m your mom, Junha.” She says.

He doesn’t seem disbelieving of this statement, though he also doesn’t change his assessing gaze.

“This is your mom.” Chanyeol confirms glumly. “She came to meet you today.”

“And your dad said I can stay here with you for a while so we can spend lots of time together.”

Chanyeol’s eyes cut to hers in irritation, knowing that was never discussed or agreed upon. She gives a half smirk at him for a half second before returning her attention to Junha. Junha allows her to pet his hair and dot his nose with her finger but makes no move to leave his father’s arms. After a painfully long moment of silence, Chanyeol adjusts his weight and clears his throat.

“Okay, buddy. I can tell you’re just really tired tonight, huh? Let’s talk more in the morning. Okay?” Chanyeol offers softly.

Sooyoun’s expression darkens, and she pouts.

“Do you want to sleep with Mommy tonight?” She asks.

Chanyeol is about to cut in when he speaks up.

“In Baekheon’s bed?” He asks.

“Yeah, that’s going to be Mommy’s bed now.” She sings.

Junha turns towards Chanyeol’s shoulder and buries his face quietly.

“He’s had a hard day… He had to say goodbye pretty suddenly to his friend… Give him some time, Sooyoun. He’s a kid. You have to operate on their time.” Chanyeol says softly, starting to walk towards their wing.

“No, Chanyeol. That’s where our parenting styles are going to be very different. I’m the parent and things are on my time as the adult. Kids need to respect their parents.”

He pats Junha’s head softly.

“Respect is earned, Sooyoun. You’re going to have to earn his trust and respect. You can’t just show up out of the blue and expect him to have some kind of Hallmark movie moment with you.” He gently moves around her and carries Junha down the hall to his room.

As he’s getting him ready for bed, Junha lets his tears slip down his cheeks without saying a word. When Chanyeol wipes them away, the boy wordlessly climbs into his bed and faces the wall. He doesn’t say good night back. He just sulks quietly in his bed, shoulders shaking softly as he pretends, he’s not crying.

Chanyeol’s alarm goes off but he’s already awake.

It’s another morning he’s awoken by music playing in the kitchen as Sooyoun makes breakfast for Junha in an effort to win him over. She’s been at this for a week straight now. Junha is sleeping next to him on the other side of his bed again. Ever since Baekhyun moved out, Junha’s been sneaking into his dad’s room at night and climbing into bed with him. He doesn’t mind but it has been concerning. He slaps the alarm and rubs at his eyes, another fitful night down. He checks his phone first to see if there’s a missed call, a missed text, anything at all to let him know that they’d found Baekhyun or that he’d come back to get his phone. But the chances are that he’s not coming back for the phone. He’d factory reset it before getting to Junmyeon’s house the last day he was there. He wasn’t planning on coming back for the phone. He probably wasn’t coming back for Chanyeol or Junha either.

He gets up and makes his way to the kitchen where Sooyoun is singing along to a Kelly Clarkson song at full volume even though it’s 7:30 in the morning. She’s wearing his apron and she slides an omelet off of the frying pan in her hand onto a plate.

His mind instantly goes back to Baekhyun… The last weekend they spent together, waking up late after calling out of work. Baekhyun stood right here and said “I’m not going anywhere, Chanyeol. You can go to work and come back, and I’ll still be here waiting for you.” But that wasn’t true. He did leave. He left without a trace and now he’s stuck with a house full of memories of his perfect face, his laugh, the sex that he’s never going to get over, the haunting feeling of having something missing in his day to day.

“So, I made salad, omelet with egg and mushroom, sausages shaped like octopus and fresh squeezed orange juice. I think I’m ready for Junha to wake up.” She sings, turning off the stove eye and pulling the apron off.

“Can you please set the table for me while I go grab him?”

“He’s in my bed.” Chanyeol says simply, making no effort to set the table as he walks to the coffee maker and pours himself a mug.

“Why do you let him sleep in your bed?”

She’s just jealous because she wants to cuddle him and take naps together and do Mother/Son things but he’s still not ready for that. He’s still mourning the loss of Baekhyun and he’s not ready to open his heart again. Which completely makes sense. He ignores her statement and waits for her to reemerge with Junha sitting on her hip. He quietly surveys the food and then looks dubiously at his Father for support.

They sit at the kitchen table and Sooyoun ends up setting the table in a flurry before serving Junha.

“I don’t like m’shroom.” Junha says, picking at his omelet.

“Too bad. You’re going to eat them. It’s good for you and it adds a woody smoky flavor that is perfect.” She says.

Junha looks to Chanyeol to see what he thinks, and he simply lifts a shoulder.

“Try to eat it. Your Mom worked hard on breakfast.”

Junha picks at his food some more before taking a hesitant bite and pushing through.

Sooyoun talks about her plans to start a yoga studio and how her friend has invited her to share his space, but Chanyeol is only half listening. How long are they going to play this game? How long will he have to keep having breakfast as a family of 3 with her and making small supportive comments… How long does he have to pretend that he’s not in mourning too. He was in love with a man, and he was the one who drove him away. It wasn’t Sooyoun that did it. In the end, it was himself and his own pride. He never even got to tell him that he was in love with him. He never even got to give him a proper goodbye. The man was way too good for him, and he was probably off being loved by someone else who doesn’t overlook what a gift they have in him.

“So, I’m thinking of formally moving out of the hotel today.” She announces.

Both Chanyeol and Junha stare at her.

“And going where?” Chanyeol asks.

She waves her arms around and then smiles.

“We have a good thing going so… I figure we’ll just keep this arrangement for now. You get free childcare; I get to spend time with my Junie.”

Once again, she has failed to ask if she can. Her understanding of permissions is still as loose as ever. But he’s not the only one who’s upset. Junha slams his spoon on the table.

“Junha, we don’t make loud noises at the table.” She chides softly.

“When is Baekheon is coming home?”

Sooyoun looks to Chanyeol for support, but his voice is stuck in his throat. He’s not sure how to answer this question without his voice cracking, without his disappointment laid bare on the table for everyone to see. He’s supposed to be the strong bedrock of this family but he’s having a hard time hiding it.

“Baekhyun isn’t coming back, Junha.” Sooyoun says after a moment.

Junha shakes his head.

“Yes, he’s is.”

“No, Junha. He’s not coming back. Mommy is going to be here from now on. No more nanny. From now on, you’re going to have your Mommy here.”

This seems to deeply trouble Junha. His eyes war before Chanyeol, gaze flickering and tears building. He holds them back, not crying or releasing the upset in front of her. Chanyeol realizes that this complicated new relationship must be stressing his son out.

“Hey… listen, Soo, I’ve been meaning to talk to you but it’s about time that he goes to spend the night with Junmyeon and Sehun again.” Chanyeol says softly.

Junha seems to perk up at this, his chin tilting up towards his father in interest.

“No. I don’t want him to go there. First of all, I know they hate me. I hear you talking to them on the phone. Secondly, I just came home, and I deserve this time. I’m his mother.”

He studies Sooyoun for a moment to try to formulate a game plan. She has her long hair pulled back in a low loose scrunchie at the base of her neck, stray hairs falling free. Her spine stays rigid and straight but in all of that disheveled cool he sees through to the woman he once loved. Her brows knit ever so softly for a microsecond before she retrains her expression. The corner of her mouth pinches tighter and she hides it with chewing.

He reaches across the table and his voice is painfully tender. He places his hand on top of hers and she looks up at him curiously.

“I want us to catch up too. We need time. You and I have to be able to exist in peace if you’re moving in. This could be a great opportunity for us to hash things and chat. If you have me on your side, it’s going to be easier to win back over our old friends.”

Unmoving, her eyes dart across each and every corner of his face looking for sincerity. After a minute or two of thought she drops her shoulders and takes a deep breath.

“Okay.” She agrees. “We can talk.”

“Okay.” He smiles softly and gives her hand a soft squeeze before pulling back.

After breakfast he goes to his room to get dressed for the day before checking his phone once more for any updates. Nobody is texting him about Baekhyun. A text from a company about a sale ongoing and a few works emails light up the phone with red badges but they’re not leading him to any answers. He strokes his thumb over the photo of Baekhyun and Junha at sushi adorning his lock screen. Of all of his failures in his life, letting Baekhyun walk away was the biggest one. Letting him think that he wasn’t important that day as he stalked quietly from their bed, from their perfect space they shared… He had been blinded by the complex emotions surrounding seeing Sooyoun again, feelings of anger and abandonment that hurt his pride and his own sensibilities as a parent. But Baekhyun hadn’t abandoned Junha that day. He’d taken the time to stop and talk to him before disappearing even though he knew it might piss Chanyeol off. He had been planning to stay with Junmyeon for a while so that he could sort things out with his ex, but it had been Chanyeol’s carelessness that pushed him farther away. After all that they went through to break down those walls… He was the one that resurrected them around Baekhyun’s heart in one careless exchange.


He looks up and over to his son’s frail voice and wordlessly opens his arms for him. The little one makes his way towards him quickly and he drops down to his level to give him a hug.

“I’m sad.” Junha admits.

“You’re sad?”

“Baekheon said it’s okay’a be sad sometimes.” He adds softly, testing if his Father would correct the statement.

“Baekhyun was right about that, buddy. It’s okay if you’re sad sometimes. Thank you for letting me know.” He hugs Junha tightly and the little one seems to relax a little into the embrace.

“When is Baekheon is coming home?” He asks once more.

“I don’t know. I wish I did but… He didn’t tell me when he was coming home. He’s busy right now so I don’t know… I’m not sure, Junha… I’m just not sure.”

Junha swallows hard and shrugs his shoulders.

“He’s is busy helpin’ his friend.”

“Yeah, Jun. He’s still helping his friend… So… Let’s wait a little longer. Okay?”

Junha nods his head and pulls back from his dad to look up at him with a sheepish expression.

“Hulk needs a new ban’aid.”

Chanyeol stands up and offers his hand to Junha with a smile.

“Let’s get him a new band aid before I go to work.” He suggests.

“Can Hulk has another ban’aid?” Junha calls as he runs off to his room without taking his father’s hand.

Chanyeol waits patiently for Junha to return so that they can move to the bathroom sink for first aid. When Junha brings back Hulk he’s wearing the same worn band aid on his back that he’s had for a month.

“You don’t want to take this off?” Chanyeol asks, pointing to the ratty bandage.


“You just want a new band aid?”


He stares at Junha, waiting for an explanation or at least clarification where the new band aid goes on the felt doll.

“Where does he need a band aid?” He finally prompts.


Chanyeol shrugs his shoulder and peels the adhesive cover away and starts miming putting it on the doll until Junha says “There!” and he sticks it down, pushing hard.

“Can Junha has a ban’aid too?”

Chanyeol knows that he should say no… He knows it’s wasteful, but he still nods his head and grabs a band aid.

“Where does my Junha need a band aid?”

Junha thinks a while and then points to his forearm. Chanyeol kisses the spot carefully and then places the band aid over the unmarked skin.

“Baekheon said sometimes you can’t see ouchies, but that’s okay because it still hurt, and you can still have a ban’aid for that ouchies.”

Chanyeol swallows painfully and nods his head, gathering the mess from the counter but leaving Junha in place.

“Do you have a hurt that Dad can’t see?” Chanyeol asks.

“Yeah. Baekheon is making me hurt. He is not home.”

Chanyeol gathers his son to his chest and nods his head.

“Maybe Daddy needs a band aid for that hurt too, buddy.”

Band aids don’t heal anything on their own, but they can sometimes protect your wounds so that they don’t get worse. It can keep your fresh wound a little moist, so it doesn’t dry up and heal too jaggedly. Band aids don’t make it hurt less… but maybe there’s something about having that visual to help in remembering that you’re healing that allows a little extra grace.

“What are you going to do?”

Junmyeon is sitting on the kitchen island with his legs crossed in front of him working on a DIY project while Junha helps to tear long strips of paper for him to paper mâché onto a square base.

Chanyeol shrugs his shoulders and throws the question back to him.

“What are you going to do with all of this?”

Junmyeon shoots daggers with his icy glare as he dips a strip of torn paper into a glue bath and pastes it down messily, ignoring Chanyeol’s question entirely.

“I don’t know what you want me to say, Myeonnie. I’m kind of stuck.”

Chanyeol slumps into a barstool seat unceremoniously. His expression is drained, his skin looks dry, his hair is sticking up with days of wax build up like he’s avoiding his shower, his clothes look less pressed, and his son looks about as worn out emotionally at his side.

“And you’ve tried looking up his friends?”

“I can’t remember their names, but I’ve tried looking them up the best I can. I would have even reached out to his ex if I knew how at this point. I don’t know where they live. I just know that one of them has a restaurant. I’ve done reverse image searches of his face; I’ve looked up cached responses of his name for hours. I’ve been to the old bar that he used to work with and talked to the people working there… One of them said they’d call me if they see him but… I don’t know what to do here. I’m just… stuck.”

Junmyeon continues to work his hands, his angular features look especially pointed as his lips are narrowed into a bite like he’s sucked on a sour lemon.

“I mean, you two should have been further along than this… I’m not chastising you, I’m just saying, you two should have opened up more so this wouldn’t be a thing. You never met his friends like he met yours?”

“He doesn’t have a lot of friends…”

Junmyeon stops his hands working for a moment and takes a deep breath.

“I’m really mad at you.” He speaks.

“I’m mad at me too, Junmyeon. I get it, okay? We all get it. I f*cked up.”

Junha’s mouth falls open, but he doesn’t say anything.

“Sorry Jun, Dad shouldn’t say ugly words.” He says softly, cradling his forehead in his hand as he leans on the counter in a forward collapse.

“You didn’t handle things the way I’d like but… I understand to the best of my ability that you’re making decisions that I don’t understand too. I love Park Junha like he’s, my son. I would die for this child. But I understand that he’s not my kid. At the end of the day, you’re his parent and… despite how much I dislike it, she is too. And I know deep down that Jun’s life with a mother in it is going to be more joyful if she’s truly deciding to do her part and be a mom now. But if she’s not serious… if she’s just screwing around while she’s in between European boyfriends, then you need to cut this off asap.”

Chanyeol rolls his eyes. If he knew that much, he’d already be kicking her out. He’s well within his rights to file paperwork for an eviction already. It would take a while and it would be messy, but he could make it happen.

“Are you happy your mom is back?” Junmyeon asks Junha.

Junha shrugs one shoulder but nods his head very enthusiastically.

“You are? Is she nice to you?”

Junha shrugs again.

“I’m happy if you’re happy.” Junmyeon says kindly to the little boy strapped into his seat.

“She’s is pretty.” Junha says.

Chanyeol’s cheek pulls in spite of his anguish, and he smiles over at his son.

“Yeah… She really is pretty.” He agrees and watches his son grin slowly.

His expression changes after a moment into guilt and Chanyeol sits up straighter.

“Junha, you can love your mom and think she’s pretty and still miss Baekhyun, buddy. You don’t have to feel guilty for being happy to see your mom. Baekhyun wants you to be happy.” Chanyeol offers.

Junmyeon watches Junha carefully with knitted brows, sympathy pours from his soft shoulders and open body language as his attention is turned fully to the child.

“We all really miss Baekhyun, Junha. But your mom is still your mom.” Junmyeon adds to reassure him.

Junha rubs the band aid on his arm and nods his head, but he doesn’t say anything more after that.

Chanyeol looks over at his friend who’s looking at the ceiling to blink back tears in his eyes since he can’t touch his face with his glue covered hands. He gathers his things and kisses the top of Junha’s head, getting ready to head home. He leans in and kisses Junmyeon’s cheek.

“I love you. You’re a real parent to Junha too and I know that because you think about what’s best for him. Don’t you forget that.” He says to the man.

Junmyeon fans his face and looks at the ceiling again.

“Get out of here before I kick your butt for making me cry.”

“I’m going to tell Sehun you’re threatening me with violence.” Chanyeol teases, walking for the door. He stops in the hallway and touches the framed picture of Chanyeol, Baekhyun and Junha they’d just put up after their last dinner party. Junha is sitting on Baekhyun’s lap with cake frosting smeared on his cheeks. Baekhyun has frosting on his cheek from Junha’s hands, and his attention is on Junha as he laughs. Chanyeol has his arm around the back of Baekhyun’s chair casually and he’s leaning in so that Junha can messily feed him a bit of cake off of a blue plastic spoon. They weren’t celebrating anything special. They were just getting together as a chosen family to have dinner and wine and cake and most importantly, to spend time with one another. Baekhyun is frighteningly absent from his life right now, and yet, he’s left his mark on every fractured part of their life together. He can’t sleep at night, missing the space where Baekhyun should have been warming the sheets next to him. He can’t shower without his chest aching like he’s being drained by the longing to see him there again, his eyes looking up at him so sure. Their kitchen gets so much use with Sooyoun there, but it doesn’t feel the same as those nights listening to jazz while Baekhyun swung around cooking. Even the front seat of his car feels foreign somehow, ghost memories of Baekhyun in his peripheral as he drove just seemed so natural now. He sends a silent apology to Junmyeon and pockets the picture on his way out the door. He needs all of the tangible proof of their life that he can get these days. He’s starting to feel like it was all in his mind…

Sooyoun sits at the vanity in the nanny suite with her long hair swept up in a claw clip as she does her makeup. She adds in the layers of moisturizer and sunscreen to her skin as she gets ready for her evening in with the former love of her life. Seeing him has been… harder than she expected. Rationally, she understands that they will never be together. There’s a fundamental reason they didn’t work out to begin with and that reason is still there. She looks around this space, wondering absently if the two of them ever… Did they ever do anything in this room…? It turns her stomach to think about him touching someone else. Even now… there’s a part of her that can’t get past the feelings they had for one another. He wasn’t in love in the end, but he did love her, and they did... they were intimate… Those evenings in college they spent talking all night and laughing at the stars were all real. The look in his eyes when he first saw Junha’s little heartbeat was real.

But so were so many other moments they shared. The moment she shared that she was pregnant, his whole face blanched. He looked like he’d been shot in the heart, like the air had left the room, like the whole of his life was over. It wasn’t just the shock of it. She could see his mind downloading what a future with her would look like and in that very first moment, before he fell in love with Junha, before he heard that little heartbeat, before he jumped in with both feet, she saw him regret being with her. That one moment still rings in her mind anytime anyone ever breaks anything off. Did she blame Junha for their relationship crumbling? Of course not.

Their relationship was doomed from the start without her knowing a thing.

But it was in that moment that he realized it. It was that moment when she told him they were expecting a child that he realized that being with her was no longer just a fun thing to do, it was no longer just a college fling, they were parents and the weight of that realization fell on him like a weight. It shattered their already strained relationship. That was the moment that she truly started to resent him. That was the moment she realized that she’d put so much of her heart into a person that would never love her back the way she wanted. It was crystal clear that he never intended on staying with her long term either. She was a bouncing board for someone else’s happy ending and the thought drove her absolutely up a wall.

She was too young and beautiful to be a second option when she should have been someone’s whole world. Not only that, but she was sacrificing her best body for this relationship. She would never be as thin, as unmarked, as pristine as she was in that moment and for a week straight, she went back and forth on whether she was even going to keep the baby.

But it was in that first ultrasound at the women’s clinic that she saw that little twinkling speckle on the screen, and she lost her courage. She couldn’t help but think for just one fleeting moment “What if this is what saves us?” The feeling took over in her chest and consumed her and she held the pregnancy to term on that drive that finally, they would be the couple that she’d always imagined. Even if it meant he was trapped there with her, love could grow. He was bisexual as far as she was concerned, and she was going to make it work. But life wasn’t fair to her. Life had other plans for her. By a twist of bad timing, Junha came a week early when her doctor was out of office. On that rainy morning when she went into labor, the doctor on call came into the room and she watched the father of her child eye the man like he was dipped in pure honey. His brows rose, his mouth fell open, and he blinked in surprise as he looked over the man in scrubs strolling into the room with a clipboard in hand.

This wasn’t the plan. This wasn’t what was supposed to happen. They were supposed to have the baby and live happily ever after. She didn’t even want to push, she didn’t want to meet this baby, she was having a rush of emotions that she wasn’t sure was purely due to pregnancy hormones. She was angry, she was tired, but mostly she couldn’t stop feeling like such a fool.

Her therapist said it was probably post-partum that made her dissociate from the situation and people around her during that time. That might have been true. But in the end, she looked through the glass of the nursery and couldn’t pick out which of the screaming newborns was her own. She couldn’t tell them apart and she decided that she deserved more than this.

She swallows hard, looking at her reflection in the mirror.

She never bonded with Junha… she never had the chance to get to know him, but she still thought it would be so easy to just come in and say, “I’m your mom!” and have the child jump into her arms thankfully. She was too naïve. Of course, the child is confused and distant after all these years.

“I want to be with you.” She’d said to Junha that morning as he was getting ready to leave.

He nodded his head and gave her a reluctant hug but immediately clung back onto his father’s pants leg. She sighs heavily, feeling silly for forcing her way into their lives at all when she wasn’t even sure she wanted to stay. But the fact remained that she knew Chanyeol was living with Junha, and she wanted to take some of that from him. She could never break Chanyeol’s heart the way he broke hers because he never loved her the way she loved him. But he loves their son with every fiber of his being. She knew it the second he looked at that ultrasound screen. He gave that child unconditional love immediately. She doesn’t want to hurt Junha. He’s, her son. But it’s definitely a benefit to the situation that she’s hurting Chanyeol a little. Even if it’s incidental, the fact that he’s heartbroken makes her feel just a little better.

The front door to the apartment opens and Sooyoun gets to her feet, strolling casually from the room in her white silk pajama set and long sage green silk robe.

“Back so soon?” She asks.

He smiles half-heartedly and she recognizes the distant expression he’s had for days. He’s still pining away over that nanny who was living in her room before her. The man sure had some kind of hold on the two of them.

“I was thinking we could just have some leftovers tonight. Maybe just some sandwiches? You know, keep it simple.”

He nods his head and gives her a blanket agreement before walking back to his room. She allows him time to unwind and get comfortable, making herself a kettle for a cup of apple tea. When he returns, he looks just as tired but is now wearing flannel bottoms.

“Long day?” She asks.

“Yeah. But I think it’s going to be a long night.” He says.

She pauses with her hand hovering over a teacup with a half-undressed teabag.

“What do you mean?”

“This won’t be an easy conversation, Sooyoun. You know that as well as I do. Let’s just… Let’s get on with it.”

She scoffs and flips her hair as she looks over.

“Well, when you’re going into it with such a positive attitude, yeah, I guess it’s not going to be easy.” She barks.

He rubs his eyes and gives a sardonic smile.

“Yeah. I’m not feeling real positive. You can’t actually think I’m just happy and pleased with the way my life is these days.”

She doesn’t say anything for a moment as she finished getting her tea ready.

“Oh, suddenly you wanna be quiet? You don’t want to volunteer more of my privacy away?” He asks.

“You can blame a lot of things on me but your little boytoy leaving is not my fault, Park Chanyeol.”

He scoffs, hopping up onto the island with a nod of the head.

“I’m pretty sure you were the catalyst for that, yeah. Also, that wasn’t even what I was talking about but yes, yes you are to blame there too.”

She looks up at his dark round eyes, feeling her heart tighten in her chest.

“You marched into my house when I wasn’t here, demanding to see a son that you so carelessly neglected for years on end, and then you move my nanny out and move yourself in. And you know how much of this was planned before hand with me? Do you know what part of this you asked me for input on? None of it. You didn’t consult me on any of this. You just decided on your own that you were going to commandeer my whole f*cking life. Once again, you’re acting on your own whims with absolutely zero regard for others. I’m not even surprised about it anymore. I honestly just accept that this is what it means to have you in my life at this point. But you don’t give a damn about that. You don’t care about the emotional trauma you put on others. You just flit about doing your own thing because you’re f*cking Jung Sooyoun and you’re beautiful and fun and nobody is going to hold you accountable.”

“You think I’m beautiful?” She asks.

Chanyeol throws his head back in annoyance. The kettle on the stove starts to whistle and she removes it from the eye, clicking the stove off.

“I love that out of everything I said, that’s the one thing you hold onto. So typical.”

She walks to where he’s sitting and strokes up his thighs gently. He doesn’t look at her while she massages the muscles and presses herself up into the space between their chests.

“Do you want to try to make things work, Chanyeol?” She asks.

He shakes his head no.

“No, Sooyoun. I don’t. You’re the last person I’d want to be with after what you put my son through.” He peels her hands away and she groans in irritation.

“I just don’t get it. Why the hell did you even date me? Why did we sleep together if you’re not into me or any woman?”

Chanyeol hops down from the counter and slams his hand on top of the island.

“You can just stop with that train of thought right there. First of all, I did care about you. I was with you because you made me happy and I did love you, I loved the hell out of you. I wanted to make things work with you because I thought you would make me happy. I slept with you because you’re beautiful and you made me feel like I was loved and worthy of love. I had real feelings for you, Jung Sooyoun. So don’t you dare turn this around like I’m the problem. If you want me to apologize for the fact that I wasn’t in love with you, fine. I’m sorry. But it’s not because of a malicious reason. I didn’t know that I couldn’t fall in love with you. I didn’t know that things weren’t going to work. I’m so sorry that my sexual crisis affected you. I really am. But it was not because I didn’t want to make it work and it has nothing to do with you. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Sooyoun, I thought you were perfect. I thought you were a perfect person that just wasn’t perfect for me.”

“Was…? Am I lacking now when you compare me to that little man who was here?”

Chanyeol physically steps back as if he was repulsed by her.

“That man… that man is one of the most incredible people I’ve ever known. Your imperfection is not a reflection of comparisons that fall flat. Your imperfection is the result of your own actions that tarnished the character that I held in such high esteem. I thought the world of you then, but I stopped feeling that way the moment you abandoned me and our child. I don’t even think he’s ours anymore. You’re no parent to him. He’s more the child of that man that you removed from this house with your presence.”

“Screw you, Park Chanyeol. I don’t care what you say. I don’t care what you think of me. I don’t even care what you want to happen moving forward. I’m his mother and I always will be.”

She makes herself a cup of tea with water that’s still piping hot.

“What do you want from all this? Do you just want to divide up visitation for Junha? Is this just about getting time with him?”

Truthfully, no. She wasn’t sure how she’d manage on her own with him.

“I want to live with him.”

Chanyeol shakes his head.

“No chance in hell. Literally over my dead body will I allow you to have full custody.”

She regains her composure and blows gently on her tea.

“Well too bad that’s not up to you.”

She can tell he’s getting angrier by the way the veins start to show more prominently on his forehead and neck. She’s never actually seen him this upset before.

“You’re out of your mind. You come in here out of the blue demanding to take my son from me? Absolutely not. Junha wouldn’t agree to that either, Sooyoun, and you f*cking know that.”

“Junha is a child, Chanyeol. He will do what the adults in his life decide is best. And the law is in favor of mothers over fathers. That’s just a fact. There’s no reason for me not to have custody. I’m not on drugs, I’ve never been arrested, I have good money…” She shrugs one shoulder. “So… It sounds like I’m much more likely to get that custody.”

“You don’t have anywhere to live!” He yells.

“Actually, I do have a place. I have a permanent home in both Hong Kong and a flat in London. They’re both paid off and in my name.”

“You want to take custody of my son and move him to England or Hong Kong? Are you out of your God Damn mind?” Chanyeol roars to life, his hands are trembling, his face is red, his eyes are bleary like he’s about to cry.

His breathing is ragged, his mouth refuses to close, he clutches his chest, and he struggles to calm down. She puts the teacup down and starts to walk over to him, but he throws out an arm to stop her from getting closer.

“You’re having a panic attack, Chanyeol. Let me help you calm down.” She says.

He shakes his head, breath skittering, his head shaking “no” violently.

“If you want… to f*cking help…. You… You can get… you can get the f*ck… out of our lives…”

She takes hold of the teacup and throws it across the kitchen, so it shatters in the sink. Pieces of porcelain flick across the counter and hot tea spills across the floor. She storms past him and heads to her room.

“I think this conversation is over.” She says as she passes the man.

He slumps forward, taking deep breaths folded over between his knees as best as he can when she exits the kitchen. She doesn’t leave her room for the remainder of the night, and she doesn’t cook breakfast in the morning.

“How long are you going to live like this?” Kyungsoo asks as he barges into the living room of his apartment to find Baekhyun in the exact same spot he left him 9 hours earlier.

“Until I’m out of money.” Baekhyun says.

Jongin looks at Kyungsoo with wide eyes, shaking his head with an “Absolutely not” expression on his face.

Kyungsoo watches his friend carefully, realizing that he can’t remember the last time he saw the man looking so sad. He was homeless and alone so many times, but he never looked saddened by those situations as much as he just looked resigned. This was a pain that Baekhyun wasn’t familiar with. This wasn’t simply betrayal or heartache. This was a period of full-blown mourning. Just the day before this, he started crying while watching Antman & The Waspbefore the movie’s opening title even flashed across the screen. Since he’s currently sleeping on their couch, he couldn’t excuse himself, so he just buried himself under his blanket sniffling for the next hour. Jongin was beyond done with this living arrangement and he would only allow such a mess to continue because he so truly and deeply loved Kyungsoo.

Baekhyun is leaning against the armrest of their couch bundled up in a blanket in the same sweatshirt he’s been wearing for the last 6 days without changing. At the very least, he needed to take a shower and Kyungsoo should probably wash the bedding he was using (or set it on fire depending on how much it smelled like the man who’s been curled up in it after 2 weeks.)

“I’m running you a bath and you’re required to get in.” Kyungsoo says finally.

“Maybe later.”

Kyungsoo shakes his head and marches over to his friend.

“Nope. It’s not an option. You’re living in my house, and you haven’t moved in days. I’m almost scared to ask if you’ve even been getting up to pee. You’re taking a bath or you’re leaving.”

Jongin mimes applause from the kitchen without looking over at Kyungsoo, an ice pop hanging from his full lips as he reads the newspaper spread out before him. Baekhyun had been so happy, so confident, so full of life when he’d come to visit last. But then just like that, days later, he’d shown up on his doorstep with swollen eyes and an envelope of money he’d just withdrawn from the bank begging to borrow their couch. Kyungsoo told him he didn’t need to pay to stay but now he was starting to regret that. Baekhyun slowly gets to his feet and Kyungsoo leads him to the bathroom, running a bath.

“Are you going to shower off before you hop in the bath?” He asks.

Baekhyun shakes his head no.

“That’s gross but honestly, I’ll take the compromise at this point. You stink.”

The man pulls off his clothes and takes a seat in the bathtub even though the water is still only an inch high. He pulls his legs up close to his body and rests his chin on his knee.

“How long are you going to be depressed like this without trying to get help? You’re not going to see anyone or get medicine or anything? I’m worried about you.”

Baekhyun doesn’t speak. He simply covers his eyes by resting his forehead to his knees now, rocking slightly in the slowly filling water.

“Do you want a bath fizz? I have a yuzu one and a hot spring one.”

At first, he doesn’t think the man heard him or was just choosing to keep ignoring him but then slowly his shoulders started to tremble, and he realized that Baekhyun was crying again.

“Do you miss the dad or the kid more?” Kyungsoo asks.

After a few minutes of crying, Baekhyun finally answers truthfully with a soft “I don’t know.”

Kyungsoo drops a yuzu fizz into the water and leans over the edge of the tub, scooping handfuls of water onto Baekhyun’s skin.

“Have you talked to them?”

Baekhyun shakes his head no and snuggles his les tighter to his chest.

Kyungsoo adjusts his glasses on the bridge of his nose with his thumb and middle finger spread in a visor across his face. He had truthfully given so little thought to Baekhyun’s attempts to get his life together before this whole ordeal, instead simply being put out by the man’s near perpetual troubles with men. But the truth is that Baekhyun was delt a sh*tty hand. His family had decided that he was grown enough to handle his own issues and had simply stopped trying to care for him or raise him after the age of 17. They called it “tough love”, but Kyungsoo had always thought it was negligence. Baekhyun was still learning about the world and needed a guiding hand through important life decisions. He’d moved from person to person trying to fill that void until this new guy showed up. At first, he was worried about this arrangement and whether or not this was some kind of parental replacement complex that was tying him down. But in actuality, it had been really healing for Baekhyun to step into the role of care giver and dole out the love he never received. He had gained confidence in his own ability and developed a sort of self-worth in the process.

But now, here he is back at the bottom of the hill he was trying so hard to climb up. He was doing everything right, working and taking things slow, working on himself, and trying to build a better life and it was all taken away again.

“Do you want to talk to them? I know you miss them both… especially the kid…”

Baekhyun shakes his head again as Jongin walks into the room. He gets down on the ground next to Kyungsoo with a questioning brow and concerned expression. He wasn’t sure exactly what Jongin was asking but he assumed it was whether things were getting any better, so he shook his head no. Jongin reaches into the tub to wet his hand and starts to pat Baekhyun’s head motioning for a cup with his free hand. Kyungsoo understands and grabs a cup from the kitchen, returning to the bathroom in time to overhear their one-sided conversation.

“—But the thing is, Baekhyun, I was wrong. I thought that I would absolutely never be able to get through it because it was all I’d ever known, and it had been ripped away from me so violently. I had only ever known dance from the time I was in elementary school. But then I was in an accident… and it wasn’t even my fault. I couldn’t have avoided it. I was walking on the sidewalk on my way home and a drunk driver ran off of the road… Those days were so dark, Baekhyun. I didn’t know if I could make it through. But then one day I just got really really mad. I was so angry, and I decided I wasn’t going to let some asshole take everything from me. So, I spent the next few years trying to find something I liked doing and that was when I discovered food made everyone feel better in this world and I wanted to bring more of that into the world.”

Kyungsoo steps into the room where Baekhyun is now looking carefully at Jongin. He hands over the cup and the man dunks his hand into the water and pours the water down his back.

“I hear you’ve been taking care of a kid recently… That feels good, doesn’t it? That feeling of taking care of someone whether it’s with food or clothes or as a care giver… that feeling of purpose you get is addictive, right?”

Baekhyun nods his head slowly before tilting his head back to allow Jongin to add more water to wet his hair.

“So today… I’m going to take care of you, Baekhyun. We’re going to take care of you. But tomorrow… we’re going to leave you to your own to change the trajectory of your life again. Okay?”

Baekhyun hesitates only a second before nodding his head.

“You wanna tell me about this kid that was so great?” Jongin says softly.

Kyungsoo looks adoringly at the man at his side and reaches to squeeze his thigh. Jongin winks and pours more warm water over Baekhyun’s shoulders to keep him warm while the tub continues to fill. The warm yellow orange water has climbed up to submerge him to just above his frail waist now and Kyungsoo notes he’s definitely lost a little weight.

“He’s a brat.” Baekhyun says softly.

His expression is serious as he thinks about this but his mouth quirks in the corner.

“Soooo just like you?” Kyungsoo asks.

Baekhyun almost fully smiles at this, but his weighted expression keeps his features long.

“He really likes steak. Filet mignon are some of his favorite words. He asks for it for dinner every single night, but I’ve realized it has more to do with the fact that he thinks it sounds funny.”

Jongin shakes his head.

“I think you might actually be the same person.”

Baekhyun nods his head as tears start to spill from his eyes.

Kyungsoo pats his knee kindly.

“Let it out a bit. Think about it and let yourself cry about it. It’s okay.”

“He’s obsessed with The Avengers. His favorites are Iron man, Hulk and The Falcon. He really wants to be like Iron Man, but he wants to have a super suit like The Falcon. He just likes Hulk because he smashes things.”

They all chuckle a little as Jongin spins Baekhyun around in the tub and starts to wash his hair in soothing lathers and soft strokes.

Kyungsoo adds some soap to the loofa and brushes against Baekhyun’s shoulder in little circles, reaching to hold out his arm to scrub it down.

“He’s gotten so much better at communicating in just a few months too. When I first met the little goblin at the convenience store, and he stole my ice cream from me he wasn’t stringing together his sentences like he does now… He’s getting better at saying my name… He was getting better at it anyway…”

Baekhyun’s shoulders shake on a sob and his mouth falls open in a silent scream of anguish.

“It’s okay, Baekhyun. Heartbreak really can feel like the most painful thing in the world sometimes. It’s something tangible that you’re losing… I know it hurts…” Kyungsoo says in coos, dunking water over the man’s arm.

“What… what if Junha forgets me…?”

Jongin’s hands still suddenly and Kyungsoo looks at him with furrowed brows and a questioning expression. Jongin stays there with confusion running through his mind, his deep thought evident on his face. Slowly his hands start to move again with a tilt of his chin to the side in question that remains unanswered.

“Did he forget his other nannies pretty quickly?” Kyungsoo asks.

Baekhyun is quiet as he cries it out, but he shakes his head a little.

“Then he probably won’t forget you either, Baekhyun. He probably talks about you still because even though you moved from his life, I’d be willing to bet you had a lasting impact on his life.”

Jongin cups his hand over Baekhyun’s temple and slowly starts to wash through his hair of all of the suds. Baekhyun turns slowly in the tub and looks up at the two of them with bleary eyes and soft sniffles. Kyungsoo places one wet hand to Baekhyun’s cheek and strokes gently.

“You’re going to get through this.” He promises.

He hands over the loofah and Baekhyun takes it with an assertive nod.

“We’ll let you rest some and then we’re all having dinner together tonight, okay? Tomorrow, no more wallowing around the loft. You’re putting on clean clothes and you’re leaving the house.” Jongin says with a smile.

Baekhyun nods his head once more as Jongin turns the bath water off. He’s slowly washing the back of his neck when they leave the room and Kyungsoo reaches for his man’s strong forearms.

“Hey, what was going on back there? You looked like something was bothering you.”

Jongin starts to pat off his arms with the towel they grabbed on the way out of the bathroom.

“I just… I feel like I heard that name recently… I can’t remember if it was a client or… I swear it was just in the last week…”

Kyungsoo studies the draw of his brows as he goes back to pondering. He looks up at him with his full mouth and sharp jaw and marvels for a little too long in his own thoughts before reaching out and holding onto him.

“Woah. What’s up? This is unusual for you.” He whispers softly into the top of his hair, arms swallowing up Kyungsoo’s shoulders in a hug back.

“I thought about what it would be like to lose you and I imagined I would be every bit as distraught as Baekhyun. Probably more so even.”

Jongin squeezes a little tighter.

“Same… When I was telling him about losing dance a minute ago, it just reminded me of how it felt, and I thought about how much harder it would be to live without you now. I loved dance my whole childhood, but I’ve only known you half of that time and you’re so much more important to me.” He pulls back to hold Kyungsoo’s gaze when he whispers, “You’re it for me, Do Kyungsoo. It’s you or it’s nothing in this lifetime.”

Kyungsoo gets to his toes to steal his lips. The heat of that melt into this familiar taste is still as molten hot as the first time.

“I love you too.” He breathes between their fevered touches. “But I’m going to go check on my best friend to make sure he’s not drowned in tears.”

Jongin slaps Kyungsoo’s butt softly as he walks by, sending a suggestive wink his way mouthing the word “later”.

If Baekhyun loved this man with even a third of the passion he held for Jongin, he couldn’t help but empathize with him. For just one more night, they’d let him indulge in these feelings. Tomorrow, he’d help him try to rebuild. If nothing else, he should teach someone how to help him out of his own depression in the event he somehow lost his own guiding light in the world. Though, he might be murderous instead of depressed if Jongin left now that he was really thinking about it…

“Listen… You probably don’t want to hear this but, unfortunately, she’s right.”

Chanyeol’s heart falls in his chest at the words, threatening to drown out anything else the man says. The emerald, green walls of the office seem to start closing in as Chanyeol tries to process what it would be like if he lost Baekhyun and Junha back-to-back and his mind starts to travel a darker path. His attorney is scratching his smooth chin as he thinks of what to say next.

“That’s not fair. She’s pure evil.” Junmyeon protests loudly in Chanyeol’s stead.

He doesn’t have energy to protest at this point because he’s starting to just feel so drained… So… So tired…

Attorney Choi looks at Chanyeol pointedly, ignoring Junmyeon for a moment.

“I don’t want to set any false expectations here. I’m good at my job, you know this. But Mothers do get a biased and preferential standing in most courts. My best bet is to put together proof that she is negligent in comparison. I don’t mean to say this to hurt you but the prospect that he’s raised by nannies with you but will physically be in her care 24/7 is going to help her quite a bit.”

“Junha isn’t raised by nannies. He’s raised by me and Chanyeol and Sehun and Baekhyun was basically his stepparent at this point. She’s just one person but he has a whole family here with us.” Junmyeon says, temper flaring in a harsh bite.

“I hear you. I do. But it’s my job to tell you about any obstacles you might face here so you’re ready. If you could call on Baekhyun as a character witness it could help. But you said he’s AWOL right now and also… He was homeless when Chanyeol brought him in, and he has zero childcare experience before Junha… It’s a weak spot that she’s more than able to exploit.”

Junmyeon falls forward, cradling his face in his palms and resting his elbows on his knees with a curved spine. Chanyeol swallows hard and tries to push past the ringing in his ears, placing a comforting hand to Junmyeon’s spine.

“I understand. I appreciate your candor, Minho. I know this is a lot to ask. I just really… I really can’t lose my son. I just…”

“I get it. Off the record, I understand. But on the record, don’t make it seem like you would suffer too much from the loss. Any angle of mental instability could hurt your case. You want to seem loving, and it should seem like the child staying with you is matter of fact. We don’t need her questioning your abilities. We know she’s planning on using an angle of your lover against you already, plus your work hours… We need to fortify this starting now. Don’t give in to her tricks. Don’t play into her games. Stay strong and try to maintain your composure to the best of your ability.”

“Off the record, what about murder?” Junmyeon asks, sitting up straight.

Attorney Choi chuckles and leans back in his padded black leather chair.

“I’d forgotten just how sassy you were, Junmyeon.” He says on a laugh. “You still married to that green bean?”

Junmyeon makes a face and mimes tossing something at the man.

“I’ll tell your fiancé you said that and see if you’re still laughing.” Junmyeon adds as a mumble and their good friend playfully winces.

Chanyeol straightens his spine, and they turn their attention back to him patiently, waiting for him to put his thoughts together into words.

“So, what course of action do I have here. Shoot straight with me. What’s my best option?”

Attorney Choi nods his head in understanding and starts to move his cursor on his computer around reviewing his notes. Wordlessly, Junmyeon reaches to place a supportive hand on Chanyeol’s forearm, and he feels a little more assured. His world is being turned upside down but he’s not alone. It feels like he’s all alone in this but he’s not. The people around him are here to support him in any and every way possible, and even though they aren’t directly affected to the same degree, he’s sure that they’re still hurting for him and struggling in their own ways.

“Custody battles are so scary…” Junmyeon says softly, almost to himself.

Chanyeol looks over at him with a nod of the head.

“You know… we haven’t really told anyone but… Sehun and I have been giving serious thought to surrogacy recently.”

Minho looks up from his computer with a brow raised smile on his face and Chanyeol’s breath hitches.

“We love Junha so much, you know. And we’ve been thinking what it might be like to have our own little family unit. But we keep reading these scary custody stories and… I don’t know… It’s scary, isn’t it?”

Minho taps his finger on the desk to pull Junmyeon’s attention to him.

“Hey. You listen to me. If you want a kid, you just come to me. I’ll work with the best custody and adoption documentation lawyers in the country to write up an iron clad document for you. Don’t let fear hold you back from starting a family. Do you hear me? That’s why you have high power attorney friends, Junmyeon.”

Chanyeol reaches to place his hand over Junmyeon’s where its resting on his arm, giving a soft squeeze of assurance. They hold eye contact and the man’s eyes water a little. There is an understanding of support that passes back and forth, and he pulls himself back from the edge of fear. He knows deep down that Junmyeon understands. He knows the risk is worth the payoff.

“So, here’s what I’ve got for you Park. The good news is that Junha has been cared for exclusively and meticulously for the entirety of his life. Up until Baekhyun, you exclusively used vetted agencies and family to care for your son. I’ll do some digging to see what dirt I can find on you, Junmyeon, and Sehun. Honestly, it would be better if I look into Baekhyun and pull him in but seeing as that’s against your wishes and not easy to do… I’ll let that rest for now. If I can find dirt, so can they. So, I’m going to dig deep into this, understand?”

They nod in agreement.

“Alright. I’ll have my paralegal bring in the documents to sign saying you’re consenting, and we’ll start building a case. Best case scenario, we propose an agreement to her that she signs, and we move forward. Worst case scenario, she serves you and it ends up dragging into court.”

“Wouldn’t worst case scenario be losing Junha?” Chanyeol asks.

“I want to call that the absolute worst scenario and let’s pretend it’s off the table when we talk strategy because I don’t want you to dwell on that. You just need to focus on being professional, kind, cool and even tempered and continue to take the best possible care of Junha. Don’t let her in your head, Park Chanyeol. Don’t let her rile you up. And for the love of God, if she talks about Baekhyun, just pretend she’s talking about someone else. I know that’s one of your weak spots right now and so does she. Don’t defend him. Don’t indulge her at all. It’s none of her business and you don’t need to discuss it. Don’t give her ammunition to use against you.”

Attorney Choi clicks around on his screen again before tapping elegantly on his silver apple blue tooth keyboard.

“Junmyeon, keep being a bro and help him out when you can. Dial back the sass around her and for the love of God, please do not call her evil to her face.” He thinks a bit and then adds. “And I was serious about helping if you and Oh want to adopt or go through a surrogate.”

Junmyeon smiles, giving a thumbs up.

Chanyeol’s shaky breath is back so he takes purposeful deep breaths to try to hide the fear he has creeping up again. There’s something about the uncertainty of a legal case that makes him feel completely on edge all of a sudden and it’s been racking his composure on a daily basis. It doesn’t help that it’s been over 2 weeks since he lay eyes on Baekhyun or that the last he saw of the man was not his sunny smile or playfulness but instead tears and heartbreak. Would he eventually only remember that moment? The one he’s regretted the most and replayed over and over again in his mind. He just wants to be held right now. Where is his Baekhyun?

Sehun is in the front waiting room with Junha when they exit after filling out paperwork, Sehun’s long legs pulled up awkwardly as he sits on a toddler sized chair and Junha racing excitedly around a wire and bead maze block table. Sehun lifts his hands up with two thumbs up and then two thumbs down to silently ask how things went and Junmyeon gave a wave of his hand in a flat motion to indicate “so-so” with a sigh. Chanyeol signs out at the front desk, moving to reach down for Junha.

“Come on buddy, let’s go home.”

“I don’t wanna go home.” He pouts, pulling away from his Father.

Chanyeol’s shoulders slump. He knows his son isn’t being difficult on purpose and he understands that he has no idea what kind of stress he’s under. He tries to keep it that way. But right now… he really needs some love and this rejection stings more than it should.

“Junha, I’m serious. Come on.” He says sternly, reaching again for the boy.

“No!” Junha protests, pulling away and running to the other side of the table.

“Junha, please don’t act out. We need to go. Come on.”

Junmyeon gets down to Junha’s level and places his hand to the side of his tummy to turn him towards him.

“What is it? What’s going on?” He asks. “Why aren’t you listening to your dad?”

Junha shrugs his shoulder and looks at the ground.

“You don’t want to go home to your house? What about hulk? Isn’t he at home?”

“Mom took Hulk’s ban’aids off.”

Chanyeol heaves in a deep calming breath.

“She shouldn’t have done that.” He tells Junha.

The little one looks up at him and then steps into Junmyeon’s side.

“I don’t want to go home. I want to go with you.” He says to his God father.

Junmyeon gives him a hug and picks him up, standing and walking towards the exit. Sehun and Chanyeol follow him out to the elevator understanding that they can’t have this conversation in the office of their Attorney.

“She’s making Junha uncomfortable in his own home then she needs to leave.”

Junha’s eyes flash to his father’s and he understands that Junha doesn’t want to lose her yet, even if he’s not saying that.

“She’s still his mom and he loves her. She’s learning how to do Mom things right now for the first time. I’ve made mistakes too, Junmyeon.” He offers, patting Junha’s head.

His son rests his head on Junmyeon’s shoulder and holds out a hand for him to take so Chanyeol takes hold of his small fingers and strokes them gently.

“I don’t know, Junmyeon. I kind of need a break too. Maybe we can get a hotel for the night.” He says as they get on the elevator as a unit.

“Still, Chanyeol, I have to agree with Myeonnie on this, she can’t kick you out of your own home. She should be the one to go back to her hotel if everyone around her wants her to leave.” Sehun says.

Junmyeon leans into his husband in silent thanks of his support.

“I know but that’s going to lead to a fight and honestly, I don’t want that. I really don’t want to deal with the yelling and throwing things again. I just want to rest.”

“That’s so messed up that you’re feeling this way about your own home that you’re paying for though, Chanyeol. You see that right? You see that this is messed up?”

He shrugs one shoulder. Of course, he agrees with his friends that the situation is a mess but what are his other options? He can’t just move her out, she would call the cops and they’d force him to go through legal process since he willingly allowed her to stay previously.

“You can stay with us, you know.” Junmyeon offers.

“I know that. You’re always so generous with your time and your home.”

“So, let’s go on a trip. You need a break and we’re overdue. Let’s go on a trip together.” Sehun suggests.


“Yeah, honestly, let’s just take a long weekend together. Call Attorney Pretty Boy up there and clear it with him if you’re worried.” Sehun crosses his arms over his chest and looks to his husband for backup.

Junmyeon chuckles.

“He asked if we were still together.” He says as they all exit the elevator on the bottom floor.

“I’ll bet he did. He probably knows very well you’re the best thing he ever had.” Sehun says pointedly. “And he’s right, by the way. It’s his loss.”

“I love that you say that in the same day you yelled at me for being annoying over breakfast.” Junmyeon says softly with a loving smile full of teasing as he leans in for a kiss.

Sehun obliges with a quick peck to Junmyeon’s mouth, followed by a quick kiss to Junha’s cheek. He opens his arms to Chanyeol in a “come here” motion and Chanyeol shakes his head. Sehun closes in on him anyway and wraps his arms around Chanyeol at his forearms and kisses his cheek too.

“I think it’s a good idea, Yeolie.” Junmyeon adds. “You and Junha need some quality time together too. There have been a lot of changes in your lives recently and what you really need is a little bit of return to consistency. He needs time with his dad right now. Since Baekhyun left he’s been carted back and forth from our house to yours and your home isn’t the safe place he can relax anymore…”

“She’s not going to like this.” Chanyeol says.

“I don’t care what she likes or doesn’t.” Junmyeon says pointedly.

Sehun clasps his husband’s shoulder.

“It’s probably not going to be the easiest conversation up front but it’s going to be followed by 3 days of pure unadulterated peace with us. She needs that as much as you do. And I think… I think Junha really needs this.”

Chanyeol looks over at Junha, head still resting on Junmyeon’s shoulder as he rocks his gently. He needs this. He misses Baekhyun, he misses his home life, and he’s overwhelmed with these new feelings about his mom. He needs a break just as much as his dad does. And honestly, Junmyeon and Sehun deserve some peace too after all of the drama he’s brought into their lives.

“Screw it. Let’s do it.”

“No, it’s totally understandable.” Jongin says into his phone.

He’s standing behind the bar at Neugdae Bar & Grill, pointing for a contractor to move the level a little higher on the wall for where to mark the wainscoting should end. His new restaurant development was more than half over with construction now, leaving only the final touches before the designer came back to paint and decorate. He had plans to go to dinner with his friends that evening, but they were calling to cancel suddenly, which worked in his favor since this would be the first time in weeks, he and Kyungsoo would have the home to themselves. Baekhyun was actually going out these days and job hunting again which was a huge improvement from the sulk-fest he’d been having on their couch in the literal middle of their loft for half a month. Tonight, he was going to a trial run for a bartending job in Hongdae. He said it would be temporary until he could figure out what he wants to do but Jongin had every intention of hiring him on as the bar tender for Neugdae when it was up and running. He knew the man was good at it and he could give him more pay than the place he was interviewing at tonight.

“Hey, it happens.” He says into the receiver. “It kind of works out for me too. I have a long-standing house guest that’s clearing out, so I’ll get to have some alone time with Kyungsoo for once.”

“Are you planning to have sex in the living room again?” His friend teases on the other end of the phone.

Jongin’s eyes widen in surprise.

“How did you know?!” He says, following it with a big laugh and slap of his thigh.

He sandwiches the phone between his cheek and ear, rolling up the khaki chambray shirt to his elbows.

“I’m never eating at your place again.” His friend says.

“Liar. You’re a hundred percent coming over for Kyungsoo’s cooking. You know he’s the most decorated Korean cuisine chef in the city.”

One of the construction workers carrying a stack of marble tiles trips and Jongin watches with panic as he drops to his knees. The worker had on knee pads luckily but the three tiles that slid off the top of the stack fell to the floor and shattered. Jongin slaps his hand over his face, almost missing what his friend said on the other end of the line.

“Wait, before you go… what did you just say? Who’s at the door?” Jongin asks.

He almost drops his phone as his friend hurries to disconnect the line. Jongin looks at his phone after the call ends, mouth hung open, broken tiles completely forgotten. He debates what to do with this new information as he stares down at the “call history” on his phone showing the newly disconnected number highlighted at the top. On his drive home he can’t help but think about the sight of Baekhyun on the couch, tears crusted on his cheeks, staring up at the ceiling for an hour straight as he hashed through his thoughts. When he stops in front of his house to pick Kyungsoo up for dinner, he’s still trying to process this new information. He doesn’t look up as Kyungsoo steps up into his Mahogany Porsche Cayenne, settling in with a click of his belt.

“What’s wrong? Do you not want Sushi now?” Kyungsoo asks.

Jongin swallows hard and puts the car into drive, keeping his eyes trained onto the road as he navigates through the city.

“You’re starting to worry me.” Kyungsoo says.

“Baekhyun seems to be doing better.” Jongin replies off handedly, eyes still on the road.

Kyungsoo crosses his legs and turns towards Jongin in the car.

“Yeah… is this about him? Are you trying to bring up him overstaying his welcome or something?”

Jongin shakes his head, still keeping his eyes away.

“Spit it out.”

Jongin swallows hard and groans in frustration.

“Okay… so…”

He turns on his blinker and pulls over on the side of the road, slapping the flashers button and parking.

“You know how we were supposed to have dinner with Kim and his husband tonight? Well, he called to cancel.”

Kyungsoo’s mouth slips open.

“So where are we going right now?”

“I was still going to go to Sushi with you for date night.” Jongin clarifies. “But… that’s not it. The thing is that... He cancelled on me because he’s taking a sudden vacation with his husband and their friend. You know the friend they always talk about with the kid?”

Kyungsoo’s quick wit puts him ahead of the curb and he whispers a single “f*ck.”

“Yeah, exactly. What are the chances? I haven’t confirmed it because he had to rush to get off the phone earlier saying that Junha was knocking at the door. Junha. I mean… that’s spooky right? Do you think… There’s no way it’s them, right?”

“His name was Chanyeol, I think.” Kyungsoo says.

“Yeah, that’s him. You don’t think that’s who Baekhyun was… with, do you?”

Kyungsoo slaps his hand over his mouth.

“No… I mean… the guy that Baekhyun is in love with is named Chanyeol, I think…”

Jongin’s expression changes to shock and they both sit silently in the front seat.

“sh*t.” He says after a while.

Jongin puts the car in drive again and turns off the flashers, switching his blinker on to re-enter the road and head towards the restaurant again. He’s suddenly very hungry.

“So, what do we do?” Kyungsoo asks.

The streetlights turn on all at once around them, the road busy with people walking on the sidewalks, people in cars flying by, and people zipping along on motorcycles making deliveries. Jongin is struck by the magnitude of people in the city.

“What are the chances…” Jongin says again.

“I know.” Kyungsoo agrees in awe.

“So… do we tell him? Do we tell Baekhyun about this? What if this makes it worse for him? He’s just picking up the pieces now…”

“I know… It’s… I want to say we have to tell him. If it were me, I would want to know. But I’m not sure what the recourse is here. What if I tell him and he’s scared and runs off and shacks up with Junhong or something crazy? What if he blows through all his savings at a hotel and ends back on the streets. He’s paying rent right now insistently, but we don’t need the money, so I’ve just been setting it aside for when he moves out. Did he… can we call him?”

Jongin hands his phone to Kyungsoo in the passenger seat and the man quickly pulls up the call log.

“Wait…” Jongin stops him. “What if Junmyeon tells Chanyeol where Baekhyun is? What do we know about this guy really? He’s friends with Junmyeon and Sehun but he hurt Baekhyun pretty badly… Weren’t they like supposed to be in love and then his ex-wife came over and then he was kicked out? I just…”

“I don’t think it’s his ex-wife. I think it’s just an ex-girlfriend…” Kyungsoo muses. “But also… I don’t know about the exact circ*mstances. Baekhyun did say he was getting back together with his ex though…”

They pull up to the valet at the restaurant and both of them hop out of the car. Kyungsoo hits call on the phone, anyway, putting the phone on speaker. Junmyeon answers almost immediately.

“Hey Jongin, sorry about earlier! It was chaos getting on the road but we’re at the airport finally.”

“Hey, I can’t believe you cancelled on me to go on vacation and didn’t even invite me?” Kyungsoo says with an act of irritation.

“Hey! Sorry… Things have been wild over here. I promise we’ll catch up and I’ll tell you all about it when I get back on Monday.”

“Who are you going on the trip with?”

Jongin makes a face of giddy nervousness like the two of them are on an espionage mission and Kyungsoo grins, putting his hand up to block his view of the man’s face so he doesn’t laugh.

“Remember my friend Chanyeol? We’re going to Jeju with him and my godson, they’re having a tough time right now.” Junmyeon says off handedly.

“Oh no. Is everything okay? Are they alright? Is there… anything we can help with?”

Jongin animated an impressed brush off of his shoulder and moves his shoulder in a dancing motion, impressed with Kyungsoo’s skills of retrieving information.

“No, no, they’re fine. His crazy ex showed up and caused all sorts of drama so now his boyfriend has left him and disappeared, his crazy psycho ex is threatening to steal my Godson and take him off to another country and now there’s a custody battle… so… he’s just overwhelmed from it all. So, I’m whisking them to a luxury resort because… Honestly, we need it, dammit.” He says with a long sigh.

They hear the sound of a small precious voice in the distance, and both make eye contact, Kyungsoo slaps his hand over his mouth. His already big eyes widen, and his beautiful iris are floating in his pristine eyes. Jongin almost forgets the point of intrigue as he adores the man sneakily getting intel on his cellphone.

“Oops, sorry, Junha. You’re right, that’s a bad word.” Junmyeon says softly away from the receiver. “Anyway, I’ll tell you about it more later. Chanyeol’s headed this way so let me go. We’re going to be boarding soon.”

“Right, right… Be safe and let me know if there’s anything we can do. I feel like we met him once and he seemed really nice.”

“I promise! Enjoy having sex all over your loft tonight!”

Kyungsoo startles visibly and looks to Jongin for further explanation.

He laughs, pulling the phone from the man’s hand and saying bye on his behalf.

“I was… I was talking about having the place to ourselves tonight.” Jongin says.

“You didn’t mention it was Baekhyun did you?”

“No! I almost did but… I didn’t and then… Well now, obviously I’m glad I didn’t.”

Kyungsoo lets Jongin lead him inside of the restaurant and the hostess pulls their reservation and seats them.

“So… Here we are again.” Kyungsoo says when they’re alone at the table. “Back where we started with the same question…”

“But at least we have confirmation that it’s the right person now. My friend Junmyeon is the Godfather of the kid that your good friend Baekhyun was a nanny for.” Jongin points out. “That’s still just… weird, right?”

Kyungsoo studies the menu, flipping through the pages slowly with an unreadable expression. When he’s decided what he wants, he puts the menu down and waits patiently for Jongin. After ordering, the two stare at one another across the table for a long time.

“Does it feel a little like destiny to you?”

Jongin nods his head.

“Yeah. If this is all the weaving of fate, then that means you and I were part of this story, and we were always destined to be together too.” He takes Kyungsoo’s hand across the table and pulls it to his mouth to kiss.

“I want to tell him, but I’m scared.”

“I understand. When I found out earlier… My mind felt like it’d been wiped clean. I couldn’t figure out what to say or what to do. I couldn’t even decide how to tell you about it because I thought for sure you’d think I was crazy for thinking they’re all the same people. But… they are.”

Kyungsoo nods his head, still holding his love’s hand tightly. His pretty fingers stroke against the back of Jongin’s knuckles, his clean trimmed Chef’s nails looking so elegant.

“What did Junmyeon say again? Didn’t he say that Chanyeol’s boyfriend left him? I thought Baekhyun said that he told him to leave? Is Chanyeol telling a different story to Junmyeon or is Baekhyun lying?”

Jongin shakes his head definitively, assertive in his tone.

“No way. Baekhyun was absolutely broken. He wouldn’t be lying about that. He would give anything to be back there with that guy and his kid. If I told him the ex was gone, he’d probably show up on their doorstep instantly. He might teleport there from the sheer desire to see them again.”

“But then why would the story be different? I agree with you that Baekhyun isn’t lying but… something is off. And if Chanyeol is trying to make things work again with his ex, then why is she trying to move the kid away? If there’s a custody battle and she’s trying to move to another country…”

“Huh… That is weird now that you mention it… So… should we tell Baekhyun? Maybe there’s a chance for him?”

Kyungsoo is contemplative, his analytical eyes transfixed on the tabletop as he runs data through his mind in careful assessment.

“I don’t want to tell Baekhyun if he’s just a backup plan.” He decides. “I’ve known Baekhyun for a long time and I’ve never seen him like this. If Chanyeol kicked him out to get back with his ex and then immediately things fell apart, he doesn’t get to just hook his claws back into Baekhyun like a backup again. Baekhyun should have been his first choice, his ex be damned.”

“Agreed.” Jongin says.

“Let’s… let’s just give it some time and wait until we talk to Junmyeon after he’s back. We’ll just hold onto this for a bit… There’s no need to act on it immediately. I want to make the right decision for Baekhyun and you’re right. He’s… He’s starting to do better again. There’s no need to throw a complication into things until we’re certain.”

They were finally in agreement now. They would hold off of slamming Baekhyun’s life into a halt with a plethora of bad news about the life of the kid he loved so much, and they would also not disclose information about his location to Junmyeon for the time being until they had a better understanding of the situation. There were murky waters here and the truth wasn’t clear enough to them to really make the dive one way or another.

“You’re right, Junmyeon. This was the right move.” Chanyeol admits, kicked back on a lounge chair with a view of the ocean.

They’re bundled in light sweaters due to the season bringing in a chill, but the view is stunning, and the temperature isn’t biting cold on the ocean breeze. Winter is just around the corner now, bringing with it so much uncertainty with the cold weather. Chanyeol watches the waves crashing on the shore as he tries not to dwell on the loss of the plans he had started making for the snowy season. Cups of cocoa in front of the fire as a family, bundled up in blankets reading Christmas stories, decorating the Christmas tree together… He had been silently making plans for them since before he and Baekhyun took things to the next level. He had been dreaming of a full year of seasons with this man he was in love with.

He never got to tell him either.

He’d disappeared and Chanyeol hadn’t been able to undo the things that he said. He’d spoken words in fear, defeat, anger… Words that he couldn’t take back anymore because Baekhyun was gone. He was trying to navigate these new feelings on his own, trying to deal with the new situation that had been thrust upon him on top of that. He’d been so sure about things up until the very moment he wasn’t. At the first sight of danger, he’d sat back resigned, sure that Baekhyun would do to him exactly what Sooyoun had done and disappear from his life. But that hadn’t been the case. He had tried to stay. He had tried to understand things. It had been Chanyeol that had pushed him away this time and now… now he was gone and there was nothing he could do about it.

He watches the rolling waves as they lobbed onto the sand, sucked immediately back out into the ocean void without having a chance to properly settle. That’s what had happened between him and Baekhyun too. They were just too new when Sooyoun blew in and sucked away what they were trying to settle into. Emotionally, he felt very personally attacked by the ferocity of the petulant waves. They spoke to him on a level that stirred something deep in his soul.

“Breathe, Chanyeol.” Junmyeon says without looking over from his glass of wine.


“Don’t apologize. This is our healing vacation. You’re allowed to be sad.”

Chanyeol closes his eyes, feeling the ache in his soul return.

“That’s what Baekhyun taught Jun.” He says fondly.


Chanyeol pulls the crescent navy Banana Republic shawl collar sweater a little closer to himself, kicking up his long legs onto the cement stool in front of them. He crosses his grey socked ankles, one buff beige Armani loafers flopping off of his foot to hang in the air carelessly.

“Baekhyun taught Junha that it’s okay to be sad. He taught him a lot of things actually. He’s better at eating on his own, he’s better at bathing, he’s speaking more clearly. He’s less likely to just… you know, yell the same word over and over like he used to. He tries to articulate sentences and express himself now. I know some of that is his age and some of it is school but… Baekhyun also taught him so many things. He asked me for a band aid for hulk the other day, right?”

“The band aids that Sooyoun took off that made him so upset?”

“Yeah. Baekhyun had put a band aid on his hulk. You know… he loves hulk. So, he asked for another one and I was like, where do you want it to go. He kind of just said that it didn’t matter. He wanted to give himself and hulk band aids to symbolize that they were in pain. Baekhyun taught him that even if you can’t see hurt, it doesn’t make that pain on the inside any less real. He taught him not only to acknowledge his feelings but how to deal with it or express it in a healthy way… I never knew about that. He did that on his own, just the two of them. They were building a relationship that went beyond just caring for him and… now… Baekhyun is gone and Junha is still carrying those lessons on his own.”

Junmyeon smiles warmly, taking another sip of wine. His hair is ruffled by the wind, and he breathes in the salt air.

“I love that. I love that Junha had someone like that in his life that made him feel safe with his feelings. Little boys need that so much. They need to be told that hulk doesn’t have to just smash when he’s angry, he can feel things too. I love that guy.” He muses, closing his eyes.

“I love him. I’m head over heels in love and I’ve never told him. He’s been gone from my life for almost 3 weeks soon and… I’m still absolutely obsessed with him, Junmyeon. I’ terrified I’ll never see him again. I’m so f*cking scared I’ll never get a chance to try to make things right. I’d do whatever I could to fix things, Junmyeon. If anything, I just want to talk to him.”

In the late afternoon sunlight bathing the beach on a Friday afternoon, Chanyeol can imagine Baekhyun walking outside and sitting on his lap. He’d chirp and complain about the weather and tell them they’d catch cold while warming Chanyeol with his presence.

“I miss him every second of every day.” He whispers.

“I know you do.”

Chanyeol and Junmyeon meet attention and share the peace in the midst of brokenness and heartache.

“I miss him too, Chanyeol. I miss the joy he brought to you, I miss the love he gave to Junha, and I even miss his loudmouth. I miss seeing your little family together.” He narrows his eyes into lines of irritation and Chanyeol raises a brow in question. “Speaking of your little family, do you know where my photo is? I had a photo of your little family in my house that suspiciously went missing after you came over.”

Guilty as charged, Chanyeol chuckles unapologetically.

“I knew it.” Jun smirks.

“I don’t have many pictures of him. I have a few of them on my phone that I took but that one isn’t posed… That’s just us being happy together. It’s a picture of a perfect moment in time for me. I was absolutely content. Do you know how rare that is for me? I wasn’t worried about anything. I was just… happy.”

Sehun peaks out onto the porch at that moment.

“Hey, the small one has awakened from his nap and is demanding that we take him immediately to the cold ocean and then follow that with cake and/or ice cream.” He announces, his apathetic and cool voice making it sound strangely formal.

“Send out my little prince and tell him not to get excited.” Junmyeon replies, snorting and shaking his head. “Speaking of a loud-mouth.”

Junha comes barreling out onto the porch and climbs up into Chanyeol’s lap without permission like he’s mounting playground equipment at the park.

“How was your nap?”

“I had a good nap time. Now it’s beach time?” He says.

“It’s too cold for beach right now.” Junmyeon says with finality. “But that’s okay because, tomorrow it’s supposed to be back up to almost 26 degrees so we can at least go down there and walk around.”

“What are we is doing tonight?” The little prince asks.

“We’re going to watch your favorite movie, we’re going to have ice cream AND cake, and we’re going to be together.” Chanyeol says, stroking his son’s back to warm him up.

“Ice cream and cake!” Junha sings out, shimmying his shoulders in a dance.

“Ohhh. Go little man!! Look at your dance moves!” Junmyeon sings.

Junha climbs down from Chanyeol’s lap and gives them an elaborate dance performance he makes up on the spot. Sehun comes out to call everyone into dinner but stands in the doorway, watching him dance with shaking laughter. Chanyeol realizes that he hasn’t seen his son this carefree since Baekhyun left and he feels a little better that he’s still capable of being his silly self even after all the sadness and hurt.

Maybe he could take notes from his son and heal a little too.

During the weekend, they do a lot of laughing, more dancing and they do end up going down to the ocean to splash in the cool water and run in the sand. Each night, Junha sleeps hard after a full day of playing and being joyful. He’s glad they escaped reality as they start to pack to go back home. But his heart does a nervous little flip in his chest when Junha says he can’t wait to show his mom his new shark squish toy. It’s still so foreign to hear him talk so casually about his mother and the fact that he isn’t sure she’ll stay just makes him so nervous. If she leaves this time, he’s going to remember. He wants so desperately to protect him from that hurt. When they arrive back to their apartment, Junha is asleep again. He’s cooing softly on his father’s shoulder when they walk in the door. Sooyoun greets him at the door with an excited expression and he gently offers to let her take him to bed. She seems to debate this for a moment before turning him down, sticking close as he carries him to his room. When he’s in bed he turns to quietly leave and promptly wraps her in a big hug.

“Thank you so much.” He whispers.

“Y—you’re welcome?”

He steps back and holds her shoulders at arm’s length.

“He had so much fun, and he really needed this. He kept talking about all the things he couldn’t wait to tell you about.”

She looks genuinely shocked by this.

“He did?”

He nods his head.

“He even got you a gift since you didn’t come this time. It’s really cheesy looking but please just tell him you love it.” He says with a soft chuckle.

The truth is that he’s feeling a lot better now. There’s a little more light in his chest, a little more optimism for his future, even if he doesn’t trust Junha’s mother father than he can throw her.

“Okay…?” She mumbles.

He grabs his duffle off the floor in the hall and walks back to his room, closing the door. He collapses in bed and lies on his side, eyes finding his stolen photo to look at. He could do this. He could try to make each day count, starting tomorrow. He would be positive, calm, and composed around Sooyoun. He wouldn’t give her any ammunition. This is his new start. He’s just going to give himself the rest of the night to be sad first because there’s nothing wrong with being sad.

Junmyeon is not okay.

He paces back and forth in his kitchen, wearing down a path in their floor as he waits impatiently for Sehun to come home, impatient for his friends to arrive. It’s too weird. How could Jongin’s Kyungsoo be Baekhyun’s best friend? He had been on Kyungsoo’s social media page by chance after seeing posts about the new restaurant he would be starting. Casually, he’d just been browsing through the timeline of pictures when he saw a familiar face. Byun Baekhyun was right there in Kyungsoo’s Instagram pictures a whole YEAR before he even met Chanyeol. Immediately he’d called up Jongin to find out about it and he’d simply replied cryptically with “I’ll be right there.”

He almost leaps out of his skin when he hears the door open, almost sure it’s going to be Baekhyun walking back into his life like some kind of God sent miracle. But it’s his husband, setting his keys down on the counter and walking over to hold him without hesitation.

“Are you okay?” He asks.

“I think Baekhyun was at their house.”

Sehun pulls back with an even more surprised expression.


“The other day, Jongin was complaining that they’d had a house guest for a few weeks but that he was now gone so they would be able to have some alone time. I think all this time, Baekhyun was there at their loft.” He says quickly.

Sehun shakes his head with a dumbstruck expression.

“How did we not know Kyungsoo and Baekhyun know each other?”

There is a knock at the front door and Sehun offers to get it. Junmyeon bites his lip nervously when he sees both Jongin and Kyungsoo walk in together. Almost hopefully, he glances down the hall, but Baekhyun isn’t with them.

“Was Baekhyun staying with you?” He blurts out.

Kyungsoo and Jongin exchange a long look and then Kyungsoo nods slowly.

“Yeah, he came to us right after whatever happened, happened…”

“Is he okay?” He asks in a rush, holding his hand to his chest.

Sehun comes to stand behind him, wrapping an arm around his chest in a careful compression.

“He’s doing a little better.” Jongin says.

“Why didn’t you tell me he was there?”

Kyungsoo hops up onto an island chair and folds his hands together.

“We didn’t know at first… We only put things together when you were on the way to your vacation with Chanyeol. He didn’t talk about it much at first. He didn’t say much at all. He mostly just… cried a lot… “He admits. “Then he started to feel a little better and then… we decided we should talk to you about it when you got back from vacation. The story Chanyeol gave you isn’t the story that Baekhyun gave us on how things went down.”

Junmyeon nods his head quickly.

“Yeah, because that idiot, Park Chanyeol complete f*cked up. He told him he wanted to work things out with his ex, but he didn’t specify what he wanted to work out. Baekhyun came over here telling me that Chanyeol wanted to get back together with his ex, and I was about to call an ambulance for the big idiot. I thought he’d had a stroke. But he did say he wanted to work things out, he just meant resolve their issues so that she could be a part of Junha’s life in some capacity which I think is absolutely the worst decision!”

Kyungsoo seems to breathe a little easier at this knowledge, his shoulders falling a little in gentle slopes.

“So, he never wanted to get back with her?”

Junmyeon snorts.

“Absolutely not. First of all, he’s in love with Baekhyun still. Secondly, he and Sooyoun are still fighting like cats and dogs, and third but most importantly, she’s trying to file for full custody of Junha and take him away.”

Jongin puts his hand to Kyungsoo’s back.

“So, what do we do? Do we tell them about this, or do we leave them to figure things out? Because I’m going to be transparent. Byun Baekhyun was not okay. He didn’t eat, he didn’t sleep, he didn’t move from the couch for almost a week straight. Then he just ate junk food and rolled around in his own sadness. We had to throw him in the tub because he was starting to make the living room stink.” Jongin complained.

“He did not make the living room smell bad,” Kyungsoo protests, swatting at the man’s stomach. “Although hewas smelling pretty ripe, that’s true.”

“Can… Can I see him?”

Jongin and Kyungsoo look at one another with a worried expression.

“Technically… yes. Obviously, we’re not going to try to control his life. But we also want to make the decisions that are best for him. So… I don’t know what’s going on with the whole Chanyeol and his ex-situation… but I don’t want to see Baekhyun suffer either.” Jongin seems to choose his words carefully.

“You don’t want us to run and tell Chanyeol.” Sehun translates.

“Yeah, basically.” Kyungsoo deadpans.

“Okay… I don’t know how I feel about not telling Chanyeol.” Junmyeon admits.

He hops up onto the island, pulling one knee up to face them. He runs his fingers through his honey brown hair.

“The thing is, Chanyeol was also worse for wear without Baekhyun. And… well, Junha was really hurt that he left. He’s still holding out hope that Baekhyun is going to come back at any time.”

“Baekhyun hasn’t stopped talking about Junha. He basically talks about the kid like he’s God’s personal gift to humanity.”

“It’s because they’re alike.” Junmyeon says at the same time Jongin says “They’re apparently twins.”

Kyungsoo smirks and they all share a fond moment.

“He was basically the kid’s stepdad. We all treated him that way, including Junha. He adores Baekhyun.” Sehun says.

Kyungsoo pulls back to sit up straight, wiping a tear from his eye.

“Are you crying?” Jongin gasps.

“I’m just sad for Baekhyun for some reason.” He replies, wiping another tear.

That seems to be a shared sentiment. They all want the best for them, and they want to do what’s best but… it’s difficult for them to try to piece together the right course of action with hurricane baby mama on the horizon.

“If nothing else, I want to talk to Byun Baekhyun. I miss the hell out of him, and I’ve been worried sick over that little sh*t. I’m half angry at him and just half relieved that we’ve found him. And… on your Instagram of all places.”

“Yeah, I totally forgot that picture was on my insta…” Kyungsoo chuckles.

“I’m so glad it was on there.” Sehun says. “We were all really worried about him after he disappeared like that.”

Kyungsoo wipes another tear, still not crying hard but simply leaking with his signature neutral expression.

“I’m so happy, he has so many people on his side.” He offers as justification.

“We really do care about him” Junmyeon confirms.

They talk a little more before it’s decided that he would just come home with them today and talk to the man directly. They verify Baekhyun is home and swing by the store to pick up wine because it seems like the important thing to do before having a serious talk with an emotional man. They don’t hesitate when they get to their place, no theatrics about it. They open the door and march right in, unloading the bottles of wine on the counter. Junmyeon peeks around the corner as he enters, unsure if maybe Baekhyun had left. But he spots him after a minute. He’s sitting at the window looking down at the cars. He glances over briefly, not seeing Junmyeon hiding by the door, and he has time to really evaluate the man.

“We brought our friend with us.” Jongin calls. “Baekhyun, I heard you might know my buddy from high school.”

Junmyeon stands up straight and fixes the front of his linen button down with a smoothing hand as he steps into the kitchen. When Baekhyun’s eyes find him, they widen, and he simply says the word “oh.”

After a pause, Baekhyun slowly stands before quickly making his way to the bathroom. Junmyeon puts a hand up in the air to motion that he’s got it and follows Baekhyun. When he turns the handle to the bathroom, it’s unlocked. The lights are off and Baekhyun is sitting on the floor in front of the tub.


The man chokes out a small cry and then says “I’m fine, enjoy your time with um… with Jongin…”

Junmyeon bites the inside of his mouth, literally chewing on what he was going to say when he simply decides to meet him on his level.

“Baekhyun, I’m coming in.”


He closes the door behind him with finality and the only light coming in is from the streetlight pouring through their skylight over the bathtub.

“So, this is where you’ve been hiding?” he asks, taking a seat next to him.

“I haven’t been hiding.” Baekhyun protests quietly.

“Oh yeah? You’re literally hiding your face right now.”

“I live here… for now…”

Junmyeon gives him some time and then decides to just address the elephant in the room.

“Chanyeol is one of my oldest friends, you know. He’s one of the people who’s been in my life for the longest and I need you to know how much I care about him.”

“I know you care, Junmyeon. I know you do. That’s why I can’t be around you. I can’t put you in this position where you have to be around me.”

Junmyeon swallows hard and tries to keep him voice even.

“Because you know how hurt Chanyeol is? Because you know how heartbroken they both are without you there? You can’t be around me because you know that Junha cries for you when he gets hurt? What position are you talking about here that would be so uncomfortable for me?”

Baekhyun’s tears push through and he’s spilling over with sadness, the protection of his will to hold it back breaking down.

“Yeah, I get it. I’m the asshole that came in and caused problems. I’m the one that didn’t belong there in the end, but I tried to force my way in. I should have never agreed to stay there. I knew it from the first day.”

Junmyeon shakes his head no and presses his hand to Baekhyun’s arm softly.

“God, it’s so good to feel you warm in my hand. You have no idea how worried I was about you.” Junmyeon breathes on a long sigh. “Baekhyun, please tell me what happened… Help me try to understand why you feel this way. He didn’t mean what he said, you know—”

Baekhyun shakes his head.

“Yes, he did. He just felt sorry for me, Junmyeon. He wanted to save me from my miserable life, so he took me in out of pity. I was stupid and I made up this… this whole… I don’t know life in my head of what we were going to be, and I knew better from day one!”

“No.” Junmyeon says pointedly. “I’m sorry, Baekhyun, but you’re wrong. I know that man better than you do, and he didn’t take you in out of pity.”

He turns towards Baekhyun and forces his shoulders towards him too so that they look at one another in the relative darkness.

“Park Chanyeol didn’t take you in out of pity. He lied to me, Baekhyun. He lied and told me that you two were old friends the first time he talked about you because he couldn’t figure out why he was acting so irrationally over you. He knew I would immediately see through him. He liked you from the moment he met you and he struggled for weeks with that decision. He took you in though because he wanted to do one thing for himself for once. He did it because he liked you and he decided to just take a chance. He battled with feeling like a terrible Father and a despicable person because all he could think about was you. He didn’t do it out of pity or some kind of self-serving need to do charity, Baekhyun. He made that decision because it was you. Specifically, you.”

Baekhyun doesn’t believe him, he can tell from his expression, but he seems to be comforted a little.

“I need to know, Baekhyun, because that little family is a major part of my heart, so I need to know if you truly care about them.”

Baekhyun chokes on a scoff, wiping at the wetness of his eyes in vain as he cries.

“I cared, Junmyeon. I cared about them so much. I love Park Junha more than I ever thought I could love a person. I never even know that I could love a person like this. But I suddenly understand that feeling of being willing to die for someone because he’s so… Every single little landmark he made, each little change in him, the way his hair started to grow out a little past his ears that inspired me to think he needs a haircut… I just… I never wanted kids. Maybe I still don’t want kids, I don’t know. But that kid is the most important person in my life. Somehow, I don’t even know when or how it happened, but his trust in me changed me. When he holds onto my hand, when he needs me to say goodnight to him or he can’t sleep… those little things he shared with me day by day change whole I am. He’s so freaking smart too, you know… I just wanted to keep watching him grow up. I’ve screwed up a lot of things in my life, but he still has his whole world ahead of him… He has the whole world to go and… I’m sorry, I’m just rambling. I just, I do care, Junmyeon.”

Junmyeon scratches his temple with a knowing smile.

“Yeah, it’s easy to get caught up when you’re bragging about your child, isn’t it?”

Baekhyun’s tears start to run a little thinner from his monologue and he sniffles.

“He’s…” he looks up at the ceiling, wiping his chin with his tee shirt. “He’s not mine. I didn’t do anything to make that child. I’m just a stranger. I was the fill in nanny. I’m… I’m not his parent or anything…”

Junmyeon picks a piece of lint off of his shirt and chuckles.

“You’re definitely not like his mother since you actually care about him so that’s a stout difference. Then again you left him behind, so I guess there’s also a similarity.”

Baekhyun knows that line was meant to stab him, and it was very effective.

“What about his dad?”

Baekhyun pulls his knees up to his chest in a tight hug.

“What about him?”

Junmyeon drops his knees down, extending his legs out in front of him in a long stretch.

“Don’t play dumb, Baekhyun. You know what I’m asking. He’s a good-looking single man, good-heart, and wealthy. He’s also one of the best people I’ve ever known. He’s my best friend, so don’t f*ck with me.”

Baekhyun buries his face before answering. “Yes, of course I have feelings for him.”

Junmyeon waves his hand around expectantly when Baekhyun peeks out at him.

“And?” He prompts.

“What do you mean and? I have feelings for him. That’s already a confession. You want me to tell you how much feeling I have? What do you want from me?”

“You had plenty to say about Jun. I know you and Chanyeol fooled around but don’t act coy here, how do you really feel?”

Baekhyun buries his face again.

“He told you?”

Junmyeon snorts.

“Told me? Baekhyun he couldn’t shut up about it and he couldn’t have hidden it if he tried. The man was absolutely beaming afterwards. You’d think he found the cure to world suffering or something. Apparently, you told him that you need to stay strictly professional so you two were just… I don’t know orbiting around each other in some kind of weird gay courting ritual or maybe some extreme long-game approach to foreplay.”

Baekhyun can’t fight a small smile and Junmyeon feels good about that small progress.

“Yeah, I realized how important my job was and how much I wanted things to work out for Junha. So, I just thought it was important to keep some boundaries because Junha was my priority. But I couldn’t help it. The more I got to know him the more I liked him. I knew from the first time we met that he was my dream man. I tried to avoid living there because I knew those feelings would only grow. But he was so persistent when he wanted to me… He’s stubborn.”

“Yeah, that’s where Junha gets it from. He comes by it honestly, God help him.” Junmyeon says with an exasperated sigh. “God help all of us when he’s a teenager.”

Baekhyun chuckles softly.

“He really is… I do care for Chanyeol, Junmyeon. I just… I’m confused right now because I don’t know how he feels anymore. I thought I knew… but… now… Now, my priority is just doing what’s best for Junha. I don’t want to stand in the way of Junha getting his mother back. I want to do what’s best for him. There’s just this selfish little voice in me that wants to still go back and tell Chanyeol how I feel and live with them in the nanny suite, watch him start elementary school… I’m not strong enough to stay there and not tell him I’m in love with him and that I don’t want him to be with Sooyoun. The more time I spend there, the worse it gets. So, I know that distance is the best medicine for me. I would have to leave eventually and the longer I stay, the more it will hurt when he decides over and over again that I should leave.”

Junmyeon pulls out a golden card wallet and takes out his business card, handing it to Baekhyun.

“Here’s my number.”

Baekhyun takes the card in confusion.

“I don’t know If you still have my number since you don’t have a phone. But I have a feeling I’ll be seeing more of you.”

“I’m not planning on staying here.” Baekhyun says warily.

Junmyeon slides the case back into his breast pocket.

“I think fate keeps bringing us back together, so I have no doubt this won’t be the last time we spend time together. Text me if you need anything. I’m your friend too, Baekhyun. Anyone who loves that family is a friend of mine.”

He gets to his feet and reaches his hand down, offering it to Baekhyun who takes it.

“I won’t tell Chanyeol, but he’s bound to find out the same way I figured it out.” He says carefully.

“How did you figure it out?” He asks.

Junmyeon winks.

“That’s a secret.”

“I can’t do this again tonight, Sooyoun. I’m serious, you need to move out.” Chanyeol groans, slumping back against the couch and covering his face with a couch cushion.

“You’re kicking me out and depriving me of seeing my son, I have the right to talk about this.”

“I literally told you I was willing to let you see him every single day and we could even work out sleepover days for you so he can come stay with you a few nights a week.”

She twists at her palm tree necklace from Junha absently and pouts.

“But why complicate things when they’re working right now?”

Chanyeol moves the pillow from his face to stare at her pointedly.

“Soo, you know this is not working for me.” He says after she fails to respond. “This is my house. I don’t want to live platonically with my ex-girlfriend. You and I fight a lot and it’s not healthy for Junha to be around that.”

“Plenty of kids are around parents who fight. Some kids are even around parents going through a divorce. It’s not a big deal.” She says off handedly, dropping the necklace and sulking on the couch at his side.

“Nope. Not the same and also not healthy. You know that. Don’t play games with me.”

She folds her legs up in front of her and touches his hip with a single beige colored socked toe.


“Is this about Baekhyun?” She asks.

“No. It’s not. It’s about me deciding that what’s best for my son it the path I want to take.”

She bites on the skin of her thumb and shakes her head.

“This is working, Chanyeol. “

He shakes his head on a groan and play screams into the pillow at this side.

“Junha likes having me around, Chanyeol.”

“Yeah… maybe that’s true sometimes. But it’s not all day every day. He needs his space and his own room for emotional growth.” He lets out a big yawn, stretching as he starts to sit up. “Just think about it, okay? If you want to make things work with him, you’re going to have to make sacrifices too. If he’s the only one making sacrifices, you’re going to cause a lot of resentment.”

He slides his phone from his pocket and finds a text waiting from Junmyeon.

“Do you remember my friend Jongin from high school? Well, his newest restaurant is doing a soft open next week. This is his 9th business. Check him out!” He also sent a link to an Instagram profile.

Chanyeol closes the text and gets to his feet, yawning again before getting to his feet.

“It’s like 12:50 AM, I’m going to sleep, Sooyoun. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He says.

“What, no surprise vacation this weekend?” She sasses.

“Good night!” He calls in a singsong, waving over his head as he makes his way to his room at the end of the hall.

It’s always a late night these days. Since he got back from their trip on Sunday night, it’s been every single day ending in a long talk that keeps him up into the morning light. Thankfully he doesn’t work Saturday this week so he can finally sleep in. He checks in the door to see that Junha is no longer in his own bed and smiles to himself. When he gets to his own room, sure enough, his son is already played out on the bed, half under the covers, curled up with his Hulk doll, mouth open and snoring softly. He’s been favoring sleeping in here for about a month now but if it helps him sleep, then he’s not complaining. He doesn’t hate the company anyway.

He goes to wash up in the bathroom and realizes he’s looking a lot more haggard than he expected. Deep circles under his eyes and sallow skin make him look unwell. He’d make it a point to stay in bed as long as possible tomorrow morning, no matter what time Junha woke up. When he finally pulls out his phone to turn on his alarm, he looks at the text from Junmyeon again. He clicks on the link and pulls up the profile of the man who looks vaguely familiar. He’s pretty sure they’ve been introduced at some event in the past but he’s not quite sure. He’s definitely talented based on the awards, the successful write ups he has showing in various publications, and also, he's gorgeous. He’s just a beautiful looking human being from all his photos. He stops scrolling on one showing a picture of him kissing a cute guy with big eyes and a heart shaped smile. Kim Jongin tagged his boyfriend in the picture of their announcement of opening a new restaurant. He clicks on Do Kyungsoo’s profile and looks at the heading that shows he’s a famous chef of traditional Korean food and he thinks how nice that sounds.

Would he and Baekhyun have ever been like this? Would they have ever been Instagram official with pictures of them kissing? The thought has him souring his mood, so he drops the phone onto the charging stand and turns to pull Park Junha into his arms to go to sleep. That’s quite enough of happy couples for one night.

Since his promotion at work, he’s finally made it to a level of corporate hierarchy that he’s making double the money but working a 1/3 of the time he used to which is paying off in his favor these days. He’s been able to spend much more time with his son. This proves to be very exciting for them as they’ve formed more inside jokes and have started taking regular trips to the park to play soccer together. He can get off earlier than he used to on most days which leads him to be able to pick him up from school now. He realizes that he might not need a nanny to live in anymore now that his work schedule is more flexible. He works more than anyone else on his team and he's regularly only clocking in 36 hours each week. This was truly an impressive amount of time considering the EVP only showed up for an average of 25 hours a week in the office. The benefits of a salary job were unending. On top of the flexible work hours, he also only had to request off using PTO if he was using more than 4 hours in a day. Which means, he didn’t have to use any PTO for days he works a half day.

He was feeling more comfortable with asking Sooyoun to move out and knowing he wouldn’t exclusively be leaning on Junmyeon and Sehun to take on the extra slack. He could do it. He could take that extra time for himself, for his son, and it felt damn good. His cellphone goes off again and he looks at the text from Junmyeon.

“Did you look at the text I sent?” He asks.

“The one from Friday?” he replies.

“Yes. It’s Sunday and I still haven’t heard back so I was just checking you got it.”

Chanyeol looks at the screen and then narrows his eyes.

“I have read receipts turned on; you can clearly see I got it.” He points out.

“Whatever, did you look at his profile?”

Chanyeol nods absently, forgetting he’s on the phone and adding a “yep”.

“Did you see his boyfriend, the chef?” Junmyeon asks.

Junmyeon’s insistence on Chanyeol delving into the world of his friend’s career is baffling even for his usual bursts of momentum into extroverted philanthropic sprees. But on top of that, the last thing he wants is to think about how happy other people are in their stable relationships. It makes him feel things that he can’t afford to feel.

“Yeah, they look like a happy couple.” He mutters off handedly.

“Well… Yeah, they are but did you look at his Instagram? Did you see all the dishes he’s prepared?”

Chanyeol rolls his shoulders, feeling the stress crack under the hard rolls.

“Yeah, yeah, I did. He’s great.”

“Chanyeol, don’t lie to me. I know you didn’t look at his Instagram.”

“I did, Junmyeon. I literally looked at its last night.” He snaps, feeling suddenly very put out. “Listen, I don’t really have the energy to dive into the perfect love lives of others. I’m glad you and Sehun are happy, I’m glad Jongin is happy. I really am. But can’t you be a little more understanding about the fact that I’m just not feeling into a deep dive into the happy lives of successful out couples in the city right now? I feel like that should be pretty self-explanatory.”

“Chanyeol, that’s not what I’m doing. I just think it would be good for you to—”

“Thanks, Junmyeon, but you’re crossing a line right now that I’m just not ready for.”

After some silence, Junmyeon sighs.

“Fine. Don’t listen to me. I get it.”

“I love you, but please give me time to heal.”

“Do you need time to heal, or do you need to find Baekhyun?”

Chanyeol’s chest hurts at the mere mention of the name, his mouth dry with the somberness that comes through his system.

“Yeah… Yeah, I should figure that one out myself.”

“Please do.” Junmyeon sounds irritated but he knows it’s a passing emotion resulting in their tiff.

“I’ll call you back later.” He says.


He feels guilty about the way he’s taking out his frustrations on his friend but he’s having a hard time these days too and it feels sort of tone deaf of him to not see it. As much as he appreciates that he cares about him, the fact remains that he’s doing too much as usual. But who is Chanyeol kidding anyway? He knows he’s too much of a pushover to stay this bullheaded. Junmyeon knows it too. He’s going to cave eventually to his will. He always does in the end.

Baekhyun opens the refrigerator and grabs a bottle of iced tea, popping the lid to take a sip. He’s just wrapped up his first shift training at Jongin’s new bar Neugdae. The designer is still adding décor and sprucing things up but it’s already making buzz as an upscale dining experience to a lot of high expectation from the young mogul. The man definitely has an eye for business ventures.

“Hey, Baekhyun, we’re heading out to go grab some groceries.” Kyungsoo says entering the room in a sand colored peacoat with a maroon-colored cashmere scarf tied around his neck.

Jongin follows with a worn leather jacket over a pristine baby blue sweater, sliding on a cap before checking his reflection in the hall mirror.

“I’m thinking of actually doing some Japanese fusion pasta dishes tonight. Maybe a mentaiko pasta, a garlic chili pasta with mushroom and pork, I might even make it a flavor trio and do a napolitan too.”

Baekhyun smiles, leaning on the edge of the island with his palms.

“Sounds yummy. Am I invited or is it date night?”

“You’re obviously invited.” Kyungsoo says in a dry tone.

“As if we could get rid of you.” Jongin teases with a wink.

Baekhyun can feel his face warm, knowing that after a month here, he was overstaying his welcome. He’d been looking at places on his own, though he hadn’t broached the subject yet. Oddly, neither had them. He wasn’t sure if it was out of pity or because they truly didn’t mind him being there.

“Text me if you want me to scoop anything.” Kyungsoo adds as he heads out the front door. “Lock up behind us!” Jongin calls.

“Where is your key?” Baekhyun asks confused.

“I left it in my work pants downstairs, we’re taking kyungsoo’s spare right now.”

He obliges, seeing them off in a flurry of movement, leaving behind a quiet flat. Baekhyun looks around in appreciation as he re-enters the space. Now that he’s looking for his own place, he can truly appreciate theirs even more. The large windows, the natural light, the high ceilings were all so wonderful.

There’s a knock at the door before he can get too far, and he turns around at the sound. He looks through the peep hole and sees Jongin shifting his weight on the other side and opens up.

“What did you forget?”

Jongin pushes past him and runs to his room complaining about needing to pee before they drive into afternoon traffic.

Baekhyun laughs lightly and closes the door, hanging out for a second to lock up after him. When Jongin comes running back out towards him, he’s shaking out his freshly washed hands and flicks water at Baekhyun’s face smelling like honeysuckle hand soap.

“Gross! Get out of here!” Baekhyun yells kicking at the air after Jongin as the man literally runs back out the door.

He hears the clamor of Jongin taking the metal emergency stairs two at a time as he races down to the garage and laughs lightly to himself. He used to find Jongin kind of distant and cold, but he’d actually really miss the man now after this time living with him. He could see where Kyungsoo fell in love with the man in his kindness, in his patience, and in the way he didn’t play games. He was forthcoming and straight forward. He carried an elegance in the way he handled his affairs in business and personal relations. But he also carried it in the integrity that runs his code of conduct. The way that he looked at his best friend was a sight to behold too. The love there in his eyes always made him feel like he was intruding on a private moment they were sharing, whether they were in line at the store waiting to check out or just talking to one another at a red light between spurts of traffic.

There’s another urgent knock at the door and Baekhyun is about to open the door when he sees the man’s wallet on the kitchen island. He laughs to himself and grabs it before walking to the door to open it.

“Let me guess, you forgot your…”

He swings open the door and has to look up at the towering figure in the hallway. Wearing an oversized blacked puffer jacket and impeccably tailored black denim pants, he almost doesn’t recognize him out of a suit.

“Hi.” He breathes on a whisper, his voice sounding so foreign to Baekhyun.

He almost closes the door, but Chanyeol moves quickly and pushes past him without invitation. Baekhyun swallows hard as the smell of the man wraps around him as he passes. He could cry from just breathing in this passing scent alone. He closes the door a little worried and follows Chanyeol into the kitchen. The man has his broad back to him as he studies the living room of the open concept loft and Baekhyun grabs his tea to have something to do with his hands.

“Chanyeol…?” He offers.

The man covers his eyes with his hand and seems to be trying to resolve what to say before he turns around to face Baekhyun. He looks suddenly very upset and Baekhyun’s internal worry spikes.

“Hey… Hey, woah… What’s wrong? Is everything okay? Is Junha okay?” Baekhyun asks in a rush.

His brows pull together and he wants to just… he wants so badly to just…

Chanyeol kicks off his shoes and strips off the jacket, throwing it down on the suede reading chair by the laundry room. He turns his attention fully to Baekhyun like he’s going to devour him and marches towards him in an instant. He’s not sure if he doesn’t have time to respond or if his body just pointedly refuses to move but when Chanyeol’s hands take hold of his wrists, he drops the bottle in his hand to the floor and lets the man press him back into the cool metal of the refrigerator.

“No, Baekhyun. I’m not alright. Jun is not f*cking alright. Nothing is alright!”

Baekhyun can feel the heat of the man closing in slowly, but he doesn’t fight him off. He knows he’s secretly welcoming it. He falls so easily back into this habit of giving into men he had feelings for, and he knows deep down he should be pushing him back out of his space, but he smells so good, and his hands are so warm, and it’s been a month since he’s had his heart flutter like this and it’s such a drug to be touched by this one man.

“What’s wrong, Chanyeol?” He asks on a breath.

“What’s wrong? I’ve been searching for you for weeks. I’ve been desperately trying to find where you went for a whole month.” He bites out, his eyes flickering down over Baekhyun’s face in quick searching glances.

Baekhyun swallows hard under the scrutiny and feels at once like his body is going to give out from the pure lust that travels through him when their eyes meet at this distance, and he holds his attention fully.

“Did… did Junmyeon tell you that I’m here?”

Chanyeol’s shoulder’s rise and fall and his nostrils flare in irritation.

“Why? Are you upset that I found you? Am I not allowed to know where you are? Is it a secret from me? Are you hiding from me? Are you scared…? Why am I not allowed to know but everyone else can?”

“Chanyeol, I—”

“You what? You don’t ever want to talk to me again? What did I do that made you want to cut us out of your life so completely? So quickly…”

Baekhyun’s mouth stays parted, and he feels the man’s shaky breaths against his open lips in warm caresses. He was about to kiss him if he didn’t give him space to be brave and strong and tell him to go away.

“You didn’t… You didn’t do anything wrong, Chanyeol!” He says, finally swallowing hard and pulling at his restrained wrists defiantly.

Chanyeol slides his hold to Baekhyun’s hands, lacing their fingers together and dragging them up over his head until his arms are fully extended, and his forearms cage him in on both sides of his ears in delicious proximity.

“Chanyeol…” He breathes in protest.

“Why then? We could have talked, Baekhyun. Why are to doing this to me? I need you—”

“Stop!” Baekhyun snaps. “Please, don’t say things like that.”

“Why? Why can’t I speak my mind now? I’m not your employer anymore Baekhyun. I’m just a man, now. I’m just a madman now that you’re gone from my life. Why can’t I tell you how much I’ve missed you, Baekhyun?” He leans his face in closer and breathes in, his nose so close that Baekhyun’s mouth falls open again in anticipation. “God, I miss you…”

His hold on Baekhyun loosens but Baekhyun stays obediently in place without making any moves. He tilts his face up slightly, desperately, and Chanyeol brushes his nose against his in a tender dotting of warmth.

“You don’t have any idea just how much… how much I’ve been missing you…”

Baekhyun’s breath is ragged, and he doesn’t put up a fight at all, yearning for more.

“I’m going crazy because of you… I’m crazy because I need you back in my life…”

He closes his eyes in surrender to those sweet words.

“Please…” he breathes on a pant. “Please don’t say that Chanyeol. I can’t do this with you… I can’t… be strong… I’m trying to be the better person here but… oh my god, I’m really… I’m really at my limit.”

Chanyeol’s lashes fall as he looks down at Baekhyun’s mouth, less than a reach away.

“If you don’t give me space to breathe… I might… God, Chanyeol, please… I might…”

“You might what? What could you possibly do to me that would make things worse? I’m already broken, Byun Baekhyun. I was ruined the moment you walked into my life and I’m never going to recover now that you’re gone…”

“Stop.” Baekhyun murmurs, turning his head to the side.

He tilts his jaw down and his hips move up off of the hard surface at his back, crowding in closer to Chanyeol’s lean stomach. Chanyeol’s hands loosen their hold on his fingers and fall to their sides. Baekhyun misses the embrace of his warm palm instantly, yearning to hold those lifelines back against his love lines again.

“You’re breathing so close to me…” He whispers.

Chanyeol nods his head, but he doesn’t move, pulled in by the temptation of their bodies sharing heat. His head dips into the throat Baekhyun had so graciously exposed for him and his nose skims up the column in a torturous whisper of a touch.

“I don’t want to put space between us yet, Baekhyun. Help me understand. I can handle the rejection. Do you not want me? Do you not like me anymore?” He asks, mouth almost flush to his skin.

Baekhyun almost moans, catching the sound in his throat on a hard swallow and a deep pant of air. His hands move to press into the hard planes of Chanyeol’s chest with every intention of pushing him back. And yet… his fingers stroke up gently and rest under the defined lines of his clavicles. He turns his head back towards the man and he indulges in the sweetest torture he’s ever tasted. He endures the heat of him without wrapping around the man like he’s persecuting himself. When his fingers fist into the fabric of Chanyeol’s heather grey tee shirt, the man reaches forward and takes hold of his cheeks, fingertips nestle into the soft hairs above his ears initiating a run of shivers down his spine in one fluid motion. Baekhyun doesn’t protest as he’s held in place.

“f*ck it… I’m already the bad guy…” Chanyeol whispers, eyes traveling over Baekhyun’s face to catalog his eyes, his mouth.

He closes the space and steals a kiss. Baekhyun’s arms instantly reach up to loop around his neck and he pulls him down, pressing into Chanyeol. His perfect pout tastes of the honey chap stick that he’d left in the front seat of his car. Baekhyun pulls at him again, dragging himself up and climbing the man in a desperate plea to be seamless to his body. One of Chanyeol’s hands reaches back to cradle the back of Baekhyun’s head as he pushes up against him, protecting him from the collision. Baekhyun pulls his mouth away and looks up into Chanyeol’s eyes, where he reads worry for just a flash like he was sure Baekhyun was about to try to end things. Chanyeol reclaims the distance, swiping his tongue over the seam of his parted lips and he allows him entrance back into his warmth. The slick roll of his velvety mouth keeping them in the sweltering heat between them. Baekhyun has never been shy, and he doesn’t hesitate now either, molding to him, feeling a growing dampness on each other’s skin as they sweat into the touches.

Chanyeol lets go of Baekhyun only a moment to reach down, his fingers find the hem of Baekhyun’s shirt, and his fingers slip under and graze up the length of his spine in a soft arc. Baekhyun moans, his jaw falling slack at the attention. Just having these hands on his bare skin again is sending a familiar surge through him, the swell of fire deep in his stomach has blood pooling. Baekhyun uses his hold on Chanyeol’s neck as leverage and hoists himself up, knowing he would grab hold of his ass to keep him in place. He wraps his legs around his waist, and they pant breathlessly, still magnetized to one another.

When he wants to just be f*cked against this kitchen appliance, he realizes that he’s not sure what they’re doing and worries he’s slipping out of this sexual haze. He nuzzles into his neck, peppering him with softer kisses and Chanyeol groans in the most primal way he’s every heard. He searches out Baekhyun’s lips, desperate for any and everything he’s willing to give before they change their minds. After another molten share of fervor, Chanyeol seemingly just holds him there, looking into his eyes.

“Chanyeol…” He whispers.

The man dives back in, and he starts to lose control as he feels the painful swell of his erection rubbing up against Chanyeol’s belly as he presses into him. He’s straining against his denim, thickening at every touch. As if he’s feeling the same thing, Chanyeol’s head falls back on an open-mouthed moan and grinds up against him. Baekhyun teases the skin of his throat with grazes of teeth and wet kisses.

“God, Baekhyun… I can’t…” He whispers.

Baekhyun stops suddenly like he’s been doused in cold water.

He can’t. Sooyoun.

He’s suddenly, letting go and scrambling to get away. He pushes against Chanyeol frantically and the man reluctantly lets him go.

“S—sorry, I—I warned you though…” He says quickly, chest rising and falling as he moves to the other side of the island. “I tried to warn you Chanyeol… I… I have no self-control…”

He turns away from him and tries to readjust his erection up into the waistband of his jeans when he feels arms wrap around him from behind.

“I don’t have self-control around you either, Baekhyun.”

“f*ck.” Baekhyun whimpers weakly, leaning back into the embrace against his better judgement.

“I have no self-control when it comes to you, Baekhyun. I just want you around me, I need to touch you, and I can’t go back to living my life without you… You’ve ruined me. I don’t want to go back to life without you...”

Baekhyun turns around in his hold to kiss him again, but Chanyeol softly evades it.

“S—sorry… I just thought…”

“I just need a second, Baekhyun.” He breathes.

“Yeah. I get it, this is all—”

“I’m really turned on right now.” Chanyeol whispers. “So, I just need a second.”

Baekhyun’s face must be burning from the sound of those words coming from Chanyeol’s mouth because they somehow read like the most erotic thing he’d ever heard even though it was so simple.

“I’m sorry…” Baekhyun offers.

“Stop apologizing. I’m the one who kissed you. I came here and I came onto you. I’m the one who should be apologizing.” He says with his deep voice scratching in the huskiness of his lowered tone.

Baekhyun gives a weak smile and Chanyeol’s eyes rake over his expression, ducking in to steal another kiss. Softer and sweeter.

“I should…” He says on a breath. “I should be apologizing but God, Baekhyun, I’m not sorry at all.”

“I’m sorry though.” Baekhyun says, swallowing hard. “If I—”

“If you what, Baekhyun? If you weren’t so f*cking sexy all the time? If you weren’t so f*cking good at everything you do to me? If you weren’t the best thing to happen to my family? If you weren’t the best thing to ever happen to me since I became a father? Shut up with these apologies unless you’re telling me that you’re sorry you kissed me because you’ve done nothing wrong. f*ck. You’ve done… nothing wrong…”

They keep a hold on their locked expression and Baekhyun reaches up to tuck a sweaty strand of hair from Chanyeol’s cheek.

“I’m not sorry that we kissed.” He says confidently. “I don’t regret it.”

Chanyeol looks desperate in a way he’s never seen before, and he worries that there’s something wrong. His eyes water and he reaches for Baekhyun’s hand, holding it limply between them.

“Please… come home, Baekhyun. Please Baekhyun, we need you. We miss you. I can’t keep pretending that I didn’t kidnap you that day after the hospital. I can’t pretend I’m not completely obsessed with you anymore. You have me wrapped around your finger. You’ve had me since the moment I met you.”

Baekhyun’s free hand moves to block his mouth, pressing hard against his lips to keep him from kissing the man or saying something stupid.

“I’m sorry I messed everything up, Baekhyun. I was never going to get back together with Sooyoun. I just wanted to work out our differences enough that she could be a part of Junha’s life. But there was never anyone but you.”

Baekhyun’s shoulders melt at his soft pleading words as tears fall over his cheeks.

“I’m wrapped around you; I’ll give you anything you want…” He breathes. “Just please come home.”

Baekhyun squeezes their held hands.

“Anything I want?” He asks.

“Anything within my power is yours. Honestly, it’d be a lie if I said I wouldn’t break the laws of space and time for you if I could.” He says his joking tone an attempt to lighten the mood a little.

“I want you, Chanyeol.” Baekhyun says, feeling free at the admission.

“Done. What else?”

Baekhyun’s mouth falls open at how quickly he responds, and he shakes his head incredulously.

"That's... that's it, Chanyeol. I want you. I just want to be with you every day. I want everything that comes along with you, including Junha. I just want you.”

Chanyeol reaches to stroke Baekhyun’s hair, leaning in to steal his mouth again.

“I offer you the world, including the theoretically impossible and scientifically implausible and all you want… is me.” He whispers. “I’m so f*cking in love with you.”

Baekhyun can’t fight the urge to reach up and fall into his embrace.

“You’ve already had me, Baekhyun. You’ve always had me. I’ve been yours for as long as you’ve known me.”

Baekhyun knows he’s crying now too.

“I want to come home.” He whispers.

Chanyeol holds him tighter and nods his head, squeezing him so hard he loses his breath.

“I had no intention of leaving here without you if you were here today.” He says, letting Baekhyun go. “I was seriously ready to burn down the world to have you back when I saw you standing in the doorway.”

Baekhyun can still feel Chanyeol’s erection, and he reaches down to palm down against it.

“I should probably do something about this before we leave, huh?” He offers.

“You’re ruining this romantic moment.” Chanyeol replies, though his eyes close into the touch.

“Maybe… but maybe it will be just as romantic with your co*ck in my mouth.”

Chanyeol’s dry rasp of appreciation drives him wild, and he can’t lie that he’s been dreaming of this for weeks.

“I don’t think I could hold out very long with your mouth on me right now.”

His thumb strokes the birthmark in corner of Baekhyun’s smile. He takes that as an invitation to finger the shape of his rigidity, stroking down the shaft as his shoulder pulls forward.

“This feels really romantic to me.” Baekhyun urges. Chanyeol’s hand suddenly comes out towards the wall at their side for support.

“I swear to God, you’re the sexiest human being on the planet.” Chanyeol whimpers, closing his eyes fully and letting his head fall back.

“You think I’m sexy?” Baekhyun asks gleefully, unhooking the brassy button on Chanyeol’s denim.

“The absolute f*cking sexiest.”

Baekhyun leans in to kiss Chanyeol’s chest through his cotton tee, then lowers down his chest while his hand unzips carefully.

“Are you sure about this, baby?”

Baekhyun leans in to press his forehead to Chanyeol’s belly, getting to his knees before him. He pulls the waist of his denim down in soft tugs as he holds Chanyeol’s gaze.

“I want to taste you, Park Chanyeol.”

“f*ck.” Chanyeol hisses.

Baekhyun loves the sight of the dark mark of wetness on the head of his dick as he pulls his arousal into view. He leans in to lap at the head and Chanyeol’s leg quivers in response.

“You’re so insanely perfect, Baekhyun.” He says softly, reaching down, he runs his fingers through his hair and Baekhyun nestles into his palm before lapping his tongue over the length of him.

“Just like that… You’re perfect.” He breathes on a hiss and Baekhyun takes him into his mouth fully, grabbing hold of the back of Chanyeol’s legs for support.

His long fingers comb through Baekhyun’s hair as he moves up and down, bobbing on his erection with sloppy wet sounds. He loves the way his eyes water and his throat starts to close with panic when he gets too deep.

“The way you choke on me, I can’t even believe you’re real… are you okay?”

Baekhyun nods his head, pulling back and wrapping his hand around Chanyeol’s co*ck to pump slowly, chasing his hand with his mouth with hollowed cheeks.

“f*ck, Baekhyun…” He shutters, hand fisting in his hair as his hips start to move forward in hard pumps. “I can’t… I’m going to cum in your sweet little mouth…”

Baekhyun closes his eyes, taking steadied breaths through his nose, lavishing the hot velvet of the man, and memorizing the taste. He wants this climax more than he’s proud to admit, the tease of the hot run down his throat leaving him to push a little harder past his comfort zone. Chanyeol bucks against him, pinning him in place by the hold in his hair, swinging his hips in slow pushes as he c*ms on his tongue. Baekhyun moves forward after Chanyeol loses his momentum, spent with his release, milking him dry between his swollen lips. He relinquishes Baekhyun’s hair with hard pants and a long adoring gaze down at him on his knees. He slowly lets the mall fall from his mouth and swallows hard looking up at him. Chanyeol brushes his hair into place, chest rising and falling.

“Let me take care of you.” He says.

Baekhyun is about to respond when they hear the front door swing open.

“I promise I didn’t leave it on purpose! You know I’m forgetful!”

Chanyeol turns away from the door and quickly pulls himself together, pulling up his onyx jeans and tucking his softening penis back into his underwear.

The conversation stops as they take in the view of the two men in their living room and there is silence.

“Baekhyun, are you giving a blowj*b in my kitchen?” Kyungsoo asks.

Baekhyun gives a guilty smile up at a flustered Chanyeol and peeks around Chanyeol’s hips at the men.


Jongin crosses his arms over his chest and Kyungsoo narrows his eyes skeptically. Chanyeol wipes his palms on his pants and nervously turns towards the couple in the doorway. Offering to take a grocery bag from Kyungsoo’s hand, his face burning red.

“H—Hello, I’m Park Chanyeol, we’ve met once before, I’m uh… I’m Baekhyun’s boyfriend.” He says, putting the grocery bags on the island and nervously moving to help Baekhyun up off of the floor. “Or… I think I still am…”

Kyungsoo co*cks his hip out and looks at Baekhyun accusingly.

“Yeah, I think you might be.” He says.

“I take it you two have made up?” Jongin asks, pointing to his lip and whispering, “You’ve got a little something right here.”

Baekhyun wipes his mouth quickly and finds that there’s nothing there and realizes the man is just teasing him.

“Very funny.”

“I thought you were Baekhyun’s employer.” Kyungsoo challenges.

Baekhyun jumps in front of Chanyeol protectively.

“Okay, okay, enough of that. I quit, remember? So that’s all in the past.”

Chanyeol stiffens behind him.

“Wait, I thought you were coming home?”

“Did you just want me to come back as the nanny?” Baekhyun asks turning to him.

“No, of course not, I want you to come home to be with me and Jun.”

“Okay, then I’m still coming home. I’m just not going to let you pay me anymore.”

Chanyeol seems to calm down at this.

“Okay, you are coming home though…” He repeats.

“Did you think the celebratory head was just because I got to see your pretty face?”

“Ew. Gross.” Kyungsoo says, moving into his kitchen and pushing Chanyeol and Baekhyun out of the way to start unloading ingredients from bags.

“I’m very excited you’re leaving, Baekhyun.” Jongin announces. “I’m beyond ready to have my house back”

Baekhyun glares at the man over his shoulder.

“Also, glad you’re getting laid again, obviously. Congrats dude.” He adds, giving a nod to Chanyeol.

Kyungsoo laughs at this, wrapping grocery bags into twisted knots and storing them.

“What are you waiting for, go get your sh*t, Byun Baekhyun.” Jongin says with a chuckle.

Baekhyun looks to Chanyeol with excitement and then turns to go pack his things. When he returns from the bathroom with his duffle bag, he catches Jongin threatening Chanyeol with a serious expression.

“—so the next time he shows up here broken hearted, we’re not letting him go back. You understand? I don’t care what misunderstanding happens, don’t f*ck it up.”

Chanyeol nods his head.

“I don’t think I could handle losing him again.” The man says.

“Wonderful. Keep your conversations crystal clear.” Kyungsoo adds, grabbing a knife from the woodblock.

Baekhyun clears his throat to announce his entrance, but Kyungsoo makes no move to lower the cleaver in his hand in a less threatening stance.

“I love you too, Kyungsoo. Even you, Jongin. But we’re okay now.” He says, linking his arm with Chanyeol.

Before he walks out the front door, Jongin grabs his wrist, and he turns back around.

“You’re always welcome here. Even if you just need another kick in the ass.”

Baekhyun nods his head in thanks, and they finally watch him move out of their flat, heading back home where he belongs.

A Tryst in the Umbra - lolaisajewel (2024)


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