jq. (madelyn93) wrote in runandgun,

Between the Lines for g_odalisque13 1/2

Title: Between the Lines
For: g_odalisque13
Pairing: Chanyeol/Baekhyun
Rating: PG-13
Length: 10,287 words
Warnings: Mild swearing
Summary: Band!canon. Chanyeol likes girls; Baekhyun likes girls. It’s up to the two of them to read between the lines.

Chanyeol likes girls. He likes them tall and curvy with big breasts, tiny waists, long legs, and pretty little mouths. He remembers Baekhyun laughing at him the first time he’d told him. “In short, you want a Barbie doll,” he’d said, his eyes twinkling. “They don’t exist.”

Chanyeol had just grinned and shrugged him off. He knew what type of girls he liked, and he wasn’t afraid to go after them. Idol life had done little to change his views—except perhaps it had made him even pickier.

"I like cute girls with beautiful smiles," Chanyeol lies, grinning at the TV host pointedly when she asks him for his ideal type. She blushes prettily at his comment. Her name is Kim Ara, Chanyeol recalls with precision. A chorus of high-pitched screams greet his answer, and he aims his smile at the audience.

Chanyeol feels Baekhyun's hand brush his shoulder ever so slightly, which is Baekhyun language for "You're laying it on pretty thick." He returns it with a subtle curving of fingers around Baekhyun’s hip, which is Chanyeol language for “Fuck you.”

"Chanyeol is our group's Casanova," Joonmyun volunteers, "but he has a good heart. He has the most patience when it comes to girls."

Out of the corner of his eye, Chanyeol sees Baekhyun snorting at that, but he covers it up quickly with a beatific smile. Chanyeol nudges him and pretends to look offended.

"How about you, Baekhyun-sshi? What's your ideal girl like?" The interviewer dimples and leans forward in her seat, her ample chest heaving as she does so. She likes Baekhyun best, Chanyeol can tell, but people often like Baekhyun best. Chanyeol does too.

"I just want a charming girl," Baekhyun says, flashing a smile of his own that Chanyeol swears almost sends the interviewer swooning. The audience squeals, of course, and then a voice louder than the rest gets through the din yelling, "That's Chanyeol! He's the most charming!" The fangirls scream anew.

Chanyeol grins at Baekhyun and casually places a hand on his thigh. Baekhyun mirrors his movement on automatic—they’ve done this so much it’s practically second nature. Chanyeol knows this is all the fangirls will talk about after the show: a Baekyeol moment caught forever on video. It’s always effortless to do fanservice with Baekhyun, Chanyeol muses. They can read each other’s movements on stage as easily as putting on a smile.

"We don't really need girlfriends right now, though," Chanyeol says. "Besides, I've got Baekhyun."

"Should we just get married then?" Baekhyun quips.

The host laughs too loudly at Baekhyun’s words. “You’re so funny, Baekhyun-sshi.” The audience giggles in fangirl glee.

After the interview is done, the female host continues to laugh at everything Baekhyun says, but it’s Chanyeol who smiles disarmingly and gets her number on his cellphone when Baekhyun turns away from her. Their manager gives Chanyeol and Baekhyun claps on the shoulder for their hard work. Good job keeping EXO-K alive, it means. Just another day in the life of rookies.

"Liar," Baekhyun whispers to Chanyeol when they’re backstage and away from prying eyes. His hand is warm against Chanyeol’s hip. "We all know where your eyes are at when you look at a girl. And that host was at least a C cup."

Chanyeol sniffs and looks up from texting Ara on his phone. "I’m as honest as you are.”

Baekhyun rolls his eyes as they follow the members out of the studio and into their van. “Honest, my foot.”

"When did I lie then? Pray tell," Chanyeol says cheerfully, slinging an arm around Baekhyun's neck and calling the attention of the small group of fans trying to follow them to their van.

Baekhyun eyes the crowd around them and doesn’t pull away. "Your right eye twitched when you said you liked cute girls,” he says from the side of his mouth.

“I have nothing to say to you,” Chanyeol says, and Baekhyun just smiles.

When they are safely seated next to each other in the van behind tinted glass, Baekhyun turns off his smile and leans against Chanyeol's shoulder. Chanyeol curls his arm around Baekhyun's nape, noting the way the other is rubbing at his eyes. Chanyeol knows more than anyone how Baekhyun seldom shows his tired face, which means he’s gotten to that point where he can’t help himself.

"Hey, Baekhyun,” Chanyeol sing-songs, wiggling in his seat in his excitement. “It’s our day off tomorrow.”

Baekhyun hums but doesn’t answer, and Chanyeol figures he’s already falling asleep.

"Want to help me prepare for my date with that TV host, Ara?" he whispers in Baekhyun's ear, voice pitched extra low so that their manager can’t hear him. "I need an escape route."

Baekhyun slowly disentangles himself from Chanyeol's grip and blinks at him, his face shifting from sleepy to alert. Chanyeol grins. "Please? I know you love being sneaky."

Baekhyun's face is impassive for such a long time Chanyeol worries he’s falling asleep with his eyes open, but then it’s like a switch has been turned on and he’s smiling again. "Fine. Just don't get caught or we’ll both get punished." He leans back against Chanyeol's shoulder, the tips of his hair tickling Chanyeol’s neck. "Now let me sleep."

Chanyeol lets Baekhyun get comfortable for all of five seconds, and then he’s saying, “You never said what your ideal girl is really like.”

Baekhyun buries his face in Chanyeol’s shoulder. “Someone who doesn’t ask me questions and lets me sleep,” he mumbles into Chanyeol’s skin.

“I’m serious.”

Baekhyun sighs and straightens up in his seat. He blinks a few times as if trying to clear his head. “Someone I can be with every day who’ll let me be myself and love me for it.”

Chanyeol scoffs. “That’s it? You’re ridiculously easy to please.”

“Those are the most difficult requirements of all,” Baekhyun says. He eyes Chanyeol warily. “Now will you shut up and let me sleep?”

Chanyeol gestures at his shoulder with a grin. “Go on, princess.”

Baekhyun rolls his eyes but leans back on Chanyeol’s shoulder to sleep.

Baekhyun is the one who chooses Chanyeol’s outfit the next day, a leather bomber jacket over a black tee with dark wash jeans and a matching black cap.

“I know you’re trying to make me look inconspicuous but so much black?” Chanyeol protests.

“Shut up,” Baekhyun says, eyeing Chanyeol critically in the full-length mirror. “This makes you look handsome and mature—and you know it. If I leave you on your own, you’ll come out looking like some skater boy in Sehun’s posse. Now sit down and let me do your makeup.”

Chanyeol sits down obediently and closes his eyes. The touch of Baekhyun’s fingers feels featherlight against his skin. “It’s not like I’m going to a photo shoot. I need to blend in, not stand out.”

“Oh, you’re just fishing for compliments now,” Baekhyun says. “You always stand out.”

“I knew it. You think I’m hot, huh?” Chanyeol teases playfully.

Chanyeol opens his eyes when Baekhyun doesn’t answer and gets a minor shock at seeing Baekhyun’s face so close to his. His eyes are so near Chanyeol imagines he can see himself in them. Baekhyun is scrutinizing his face, his gaze drifting from his nose and cheeks before finally lingering on his lips. “What?” Chanyeol blurts out. His throat feels dry.

Baekhyun leans back and tilts his head, a small smile playing on his own lips. He takes Chanyeol by the chin and makes a last survey of his work. “Perfect,” he says. “Not that you needed any more help being a heartbreaker.”

Chanyeol puts a hand over his chest and feigns getting stabbed. “I’m hurt. Is that how you think of me?”

Baekhyun shrugs and smiles. “You’re going to be late,” is all he says before turning around to start folding the clothes strewn on Chanyeol’s bed.

“You smell like women’s perfume and soju,” Baekhyun greets him when he gets back from his date. “Manager-hyung was looking for you, but don’t worry, I covered for your sorry ass. I hope she was worth it.”

Chanyeol is still high from stolen kisses and fumbling with buttons in the dark. He grins unabashedly as he takes off his cap. “She liked you. It could have been you.”

Baekhyun is standing in the hallway in a black tank top and grey sweatpants. His hair is unstyled, Chanyeol notices. It looks soft in the moonlight from the living room window. “I’m not like you. I don’t want any flings.” He tsks. “You’re just lucky you haven’t gotten caught yet.”

“It’s all because of you,” Chanyeol says, reaching out to ruffle Baekhyun’s hair. “My little good luck charm.”

“Stop disrespecting your hyung.” Baekhyun tsks and avoids his wandering arms by heading to their shared room. “I need to tell you about a huge announcement you missed,” he calls out.

Chanyeol shrugs off his jacket and follows Baekhyun into their room. “What announcement?”

“I’m going to be on this new reality show called The Romantic & Idol.”

“A love line show with idols?” Chanyeol asks as he changes into a shirt and boxers.

“Got it in one. They put eight idols—four girls and four guys—in one place and pair them off. They’ll set us up on different dates and see how it goes. We get to choose a final pick afterward.”

“I’m surprised management picked you when I’m here with my good looks and sparkling personality,” Chanyeol teases.

Baekhyun shakes his head and smiles. “Joonmyun-hyung said you’re the Casanova and you should go. Do you know what manager-hyung told him?”

“No.” Chanyeol sighs. “But I’m sure you’ll tell me anyway.”

Baekhyun gets into his bed and pulls the covers up to his chin. “He said that’s precisely why our company’s not sending you. Oh, you should have seen the look on Sehun’s face. He was so happy you got dropped.”

Chanyeol rolls his eyes good-naturedly and slips into his own bed. He feels grimy and more than a little sweaty. “You turned the heating up again, didn’t you?”

Baekhyun gives him an innocent look. “It’s not my fault you’re as warm as a furnace.”

Chanyeol sniffs but doesn’t get up to fix the temperature. “Wait, what about you?”

“It’s too cold. How many times have I told you that?”

“Not that,” Chanyeol says quietly. “How do you feel about being on the show?”

Baekhyun bites his lower lip. “Excited. Nervous. You know what this is really about.”

Chanyeol does. It’s only been a few months after their debut, but while EXO-M is off breaking records in China, EXO-K isn’t having the same success in Korea. Chanyeol knows Baekhyun feels partially responsible for it, even though he has no reason to. Baekhyun works just as hard as the rest of them, but sometimes he will look at Chanyeol with a twinge of guilt in his expression, as if having trained for only four months is something he has to personally apologize for. Nothing is ever their decision in the world they’re in.

“They want me to put us on everyone’s radar,” Baekhyun says. “I’ve been instructed to do everything I can to get as much screentime as possible. As much fanservice as I can with a girl, preferably a rookie. ”

Chanyeol winces. “The backlash from our female fans will be scary.”

Baekhyun smiles without mirth. “All publicity is good publicity. Besides, our fanbase isn’t that scary yet.”

“SME wants it to be.”

Baekhyun groans. “Spare me the doom and gloom talk. You were supposed to encourage me, not make me even more nervous.”

“I was getting to that, really,” Chanyeol says. “Just wanted to get the bad stuff out of the way.” He clears his throat and makes his voice rumble loud and deep. This is the voice that has fangirls squealing and fainting at his feet. “I’m sure you’ll charm all their socks off, Byun Baekhyun. With your eyeliner and that backside…” He wiggles his eyebrows suggestively.

“You can’t talk about your hyung’s body parts like that,” Baekhyun scolds with a laugh. There are twin spots of color on his cheeks, almost imperceptible to anyone not looking closely.

Chanyeol is entirely serious when he answers, “I don’t consider you my hyung.”

To Chanyeol, doing pairing fanservice is just like breathing. A flirtatious grin at Baekhyun here, a touch to Baekhyun’s arm there. Every little piece of “evidence” caught on camera is a thought he hardly calculates in his head. It just happens. Airports are the best places to do a little fanservice, photo shoots the next best thing.

He gets an opportunity at a photo shoot for K-Style Magazine three days later. There’s a lull as the staff changes the set. Chanyeol bugs Baekhyun until he gives in and starts singing a slightly accented version of Jason Mraz’s “Geek in the Pink” accompanied by Chanyeol’s beatboxing. Joonmyun does his best to quiet them down, but with no assistance from Kyungsoo, who is more forceful than him, his efforts don’t have any effect.

From the corner of his eyes, Chanyeol can see that Kyungsoo is off to one side of the room with Jongin, where they’re ignoring Baekhyun and Chanyeol’s actions by listening to music on shared earphones. Sehun is flicking at Kyungsoo’s ear, determined to get a rise out of him, but Kyungsoo is showing remarkable restraint today and refusing to take the bait.

Joonmyun is begging softly now, which makes Chanyeol want to laugh. Baekhyun gets a certain sparkle in his eyes at Joonmyun’s pinched face, and then he’s pitching his voice just a little louder, forcing Chanyeol to up the ante on his beatboxing. Their eyes meet and they share a look of glee. They’d made a pact a month ago to force “Suho” to let his guard down in public, but all Joonmyun’s ever done is look both fond and desperate whenever they’re up to their antics.

The magazine staff don’t seem to mind, taken as they are with Chanyeol and Baekhyun’s combined charm. Chanyeol revels in their attention. He knows exactly where the young female videographer is standing and shooting them, most probably for behind-the-scenes footage. He winks at her before nodding his head in Baekhyun’s direction, urging her to get a close-up.

Baekhyun is totally immersed in their performance, his voice rich and full as he shimmies his hips to Chanyeol’s beat. Chanyeol likes Baekhyun best when he’s like this, open and uncaring of what the world sees. His eyes flick to the camera to Baekhyun and back. A wicked thought gets into his head and he smiles. He stops beatboxing and starts twirling Baekhyun round and round. On the third spin, which has Baekhyun laughing against him and telling him to stop, Chanyeol whispers in his ear, “I’m going to do something. Just run with it, okay?”

Then he dips Baekhyun low on the floor, his hand on Baekhyun’s back, and plants an affectionate kiss on the other’s cheek. His body is thrumming with adrenaline, and for a moment he lets himself think of what will happen if he takes things just that one step further.

Baekhyun looks surprised for half a second, but the expression is gone before Chanyeol can catch it properly, and then he’s laughing and pushing Chanyeol away.

Baekhyun looks radiant now as he flutters from the side of one staff to the next, asking about this and that. Chanyeol shoots a thumbs-up at the videographer before following Baekhyun and slipping their hands together, his arm going around Baekhyun’s waist.

The day Baekhyun has his first meeting with his castmates, Chanyeol finds himself waiting anxiously for his return. Chanyeol is a fan of variety shows, but he doesn’t know much about the way reality shows work. He’d thought the producers would want to keep the idols in the dark about each other’s identities for as long as possible. That way, their first meeting would be more genuine.

“For an idol with a high understanding of fanservice,” Baekhyun had told him the night before, “you sure are clueless about reality shows.” Baekhyun said most shows like this were scripted and that they were meeting each other so that the producers could figure out which pairings were most likely to work.

“I’m sure he’s fine,” Kyungsoo says. They’re sitting side by side on the sofa in the living room, watching some cooking show Chanyeol isn’t really following on TV.

“I’m not worried,” Chanyeol says. And he’s not. He’s just thinking about how bad it would be if Baekhyun doesn’t turn on his charm. What if none of the girls like him? He frowns. Or what if he does turn on the charm and all of them like him?

“You’re thinking too loudly. Stop.” Kyungsoo nudges him with his elbow.

“I’m not worried,” Chanyeol repeats.

But his mind keeps on whirring with needless thoughts all throughout the afternoon until the sun sets and Baekhyun finally returns.

When Baekhyun enters the dorm, the first thing Chanyeol notices is the small smile on his face.

“You like one of them already?” Chanyeol exclaims in disbelief, because he’ll know that smile anywhere.

Sehun crowds them before Chanyeol can get an answer. He jumps on Baekhyun’s back (“What the fuck, Sehun?”) yelling, “Tell us about the girls, hyung. Tell us!”

Baekhyun rolls his eyes but doesn’t protest when they usher him into the living room. They all gather around the coffee table, even Joonmyun who doesn’t take kindly to gossip.

“Well, it’s a mixture of veterans and rookies. There’s Jihyun of 4Minute, Seungah of Rainbow, Jei of Fiestar, and Hyejeong of AOA.” Baekhyun’s smile widens at the last name. “They’re all pretty cool, but Hyejeong’s the closest to my age. I’m the youngest guy there.”

“So they’re pairing you up with this Hyejeong girl?” Chanyeol asks.

Baekhyun shrugs. “Yeah, she’s cute. I wouldn’t mind getting to know her better.”

Sehun and Jongin both wolf whistle. “Me thinks you already like her, hyung,” Sehun teases. “Lucky you. You’re practically getting paid to date while we languish in this dorm in between shoots and whatnot.”

Baekhyun shrugs again but doesn’t contradict him. They tease him for a good hour as he tells them about the meeting, Chanyeol ribbing him most of all, especially when his smile turns just a little shy whenever he talks about Hyejeong.

Later, when it’s just Chanyeol and Baekhyun back in their room, Chanyeol looks up Hyejeong on his laptop. She turns out to be a tall girl with slightly pudgy cheeks and killer legs. She’s also a year younger than Baekhyun. “Baek, this girl is taller than you.”

Baekhyun emerges in full sleepwear from their shared bathroom, his hair still wet and dripping puddles on the floor. “No, she’s not. I’ve got a few centimeters on her.”

“Sure, and you’ll lose them when she’s in heels. And with your cute face, you’ll look like a baby next to her.” Chanyeol scrolls through Hyejeong’s photos. Most of them are of her looking charismatically at the camera, no trace of a smile on her face. She used to do modeling work, her profile says. She also supposedly has a tendency to embarrass herself by saying random things. A girl of Chanyeol’s own heart, he thinks, but hardly what he perceives as Baekhyun’s type. “Can I be honest?”

Baekhyun snorts. “It’s not like you’ve asked me for permission before.”

“She looks ugly.” Chanyeol’s grin is full of teeth.

Baekhyun sits next to Chanyeol and peers at the photos with him. His head is so close Chanyeol can smell the citrus shampoo scent in his hair. “Liar. She’s even prettier in person,” Baekhyun says. “I just have this feeling that she’s fun to be with.”

Chanyeol maneuvers the laptop so that Baekhyun has to move away from him. “Are you saying you think she’s as weird as you are?”

Baekhyun huffs. “Hey, I resent that. You’re weird and I hang out with you.”

“That’s because I’m the only one who can tolerate your weirdness.”

“Asshole,” Baekhyun says, but he’s smiling.

Chanyeol clicks out of the search window and leans against the headboard. “So when does the filming start?”

Baekhyun looks at him through hooded eyes. Chanyeol can see his eyeliner hasn’t been completely washed away by the shower. It makes his face look oddly soft. “In a week. They’re doing the filming all in one go, so I’ll be gone for around four to five days. Maybe more. They’re sending us to this beach destination called Boracay in the Philippines.”

“So far away?” Chanyeol blurts out without meaning to. “Does management know this?”

“Duh, they do. They did pick me for this show, didn’t they?” Baekhyun smiles cheekily. “Why? Are you going to miss me?”

“Of course I am,” Chanyeol all but yells, and they stare at each other in silence, both a little shocked at his outburst. Baekhyun’s smile softens just a bit.

“Who’s going to help me escape for my dates now?” Chanyeol follows up with a shit-eating grin.

Baekhyun throws a pillow in his face.

When Baekhyun leaves, Chanyeol resists calling him for all of one day and then he’s on the phone asking after him. “We heard there’s a typhoon there today. Kyungsoo is worried about you.”

There’s silence on the other line except for a bit of static. “You are such a compulsive liar,” Baekhyun finally says. “You miss me, don’t you?” His tone is teasing.

“Keep telling yourself that,” Chanyeol mumbles. His right eye is twitching and he curses it silently.

“Fine. You don’t have to tell me. I can hear your concern all the way here.” Baekhyun’s voice is warm. “I’m okay, don’t worry. It’s raining hard right now, but that’s about it.”

“Oh. Good.” Chanyeol hears someone giggling in the background. “Are you in the middle of a date or something?”

“Nah. They temporarily stopped taping because of the rain. We’re all just stuck in a restaurant until it’s over. Was there a reason you called?”

“There has to be a reason?” Chanyeol asks, rolling his eyes. “Let’s not fight, okay? Just tell me about Boracay. Is it beautiful over there?”

“Yeah,” Baekhyun says, his voice filled with awe. “The water is just so blue. I haven’t seen anything like it. You would have loved to see it. We could have jet skied together, surfed, everything. I wanted to try cliff diving, but the PDs were afraid I’d die or something. I’m sure if you’d been here you would’ve done it with me.”

Chanyeol’s grip on his phone tightens abruptly. “Are you serious? Why would I let you dive off a cliff?”

“It isn’t that different from bungee jumping, and you’re always bugging me about trying that with you.”

Chanyeol is still in the middle of a vision of Baekhyun jumping off a cliff and hitting his head on some rocks. “That’s entirely different. God, since when were you this adventurous?”

Baekhyun laughs. “Since the beginning of time? You made me worse, to be honest. You’re a lot more spontaneous than I am.” He suddenly yelps. “Hey!”

“What’s going on?”

“Hyejeong just stole my iPod, that thief. Hang on a sec.” As Baekhyun laughs in the background, Chanyeol counts the cracks on the ceiling. There are two.

When Baekhyun says hello again, Chanyeol scoffs. “Took you long enough. Cheating on me now, are you?” His tone is light.

“Stop that,” Baekhyun says. There’s a smile in his voice. “You cheat on me all the time. What was the name of the last one? Ara?”

“Only with people that don’t matter,” Chanyeol argues.

Baekhyun laughs at that, but it doesn’t sound happy. “I’d hate to be one of the girls on your list,” he says. “Have you ever thought of their feelings?”

Before Chanyeol can answer, there’s a crackle down the line. “Hey, they’re calling us. The rain stopped. I’ll talk to you later, okay?” Baekhyun says.

“Bye,” Chanyeol says to dead air. He rolls his eyes and looks at his phone. “’By the way, Chanyeol,’” he says in his best impression of Baekhyun’s voice. “’I miss you too.’”

Baekhyun returns with a minor suntan and a radiant smile on his face. He goes out the VIP exit at the airport, where fans are less likely to spot him. Chanyeol is the one who welcomes him while the others are at another magazine shoot. He plonks his favorite bomb cap on Baekhyun’s head to hide his face from any onlookers.

“If you think you’re going to hide my identity with your cap, you’re stupid. Everyone knows that’s your cap, you know,” Baekhyun says. He sounds exhausted.

“You don’t have eyeliner on. No one will recognize you anyway.”

Baekhyun hits him on the shoulder—or at least, what he can reach of it. Chanyeol grins at Baekhyun’s frustration. “You big lug,” Baekhyun says. “I have no time for your teasing.”

“Okay, okay.” Chanyeol raises his hands in surrender. “I’ll carry you to the van in penance.”

“And look like some damsel in distress? No, thank you.” Baekhyun starts to walk away, but Chanyeol matches his steps easily and pushes the cap lower on his face.

Baekhyun stops walking and stares at him in annoyance; Chanyeol cups his cheek. “I’m just teasing you because I missed you,” Chanyeol says. “Do you know how bored I was without you? I wanted to set Joonmyun-hyung’s bed on fire. You would’ve taken responsibility if I’d really done it.”

Baekhyun cracks a smile at that. “No one would believe you. I’m a good kid.”

“And I’m not? Should I be offended?”

Baekhyun gives him a long, considering look. Chanyeol stares right back, refusing to look away. “You’re…interesting,” Baekhyun says slowly.

“More interesting than Hyejeong?” Chanyeol finds himself asking.

“Different interesting,” Baekhyun says. “She’s pretty cool too.”

“Oho, you’re smiling that weird smile again,” Chanyeol says. “You like her, don’t you? What happened over there, eh?” He wiggles his eyebrows. “Anything I should know about?”

They’ve reached the van by then, and Baekhyun immediately takes a window seat. “We chose each other for our final picks.” Baekhyun’s eyes light up as he speaks. “I think…I think I did well, Chanyeol. Korea’s going to see a lot of me in that show. The real me.”

“That doesn’t sound scary or anything,” Chanyeol says, unconsciously gripping Baekhyun’s arm.

Baekhyun laughs. “Oh, I think they’ll love me. I mostly did sweet things and made the girls laugh.” His face turns serious. “Have they told you, by the way?”

“Told us what?”

Baekhyun looks out the window. His face is relaxed as he says, “Management wants me to keep in touch with Hyejeong.” He turns to face Chanyeol, a ghost of a smile on his face. “They’re thinking we should pretend we’re dating.”

“You like her that much?” Chanyeol asks quietly.

Baekhyun looks at him with an expression that speaks of wariness. Chanyeol doesn’t like it. “It’s not a matter of liking, Chanyeol. You know that. If I had a choice…” Baekhyun’s voice trails off, and he suddenly looks uncomfortable. It’s not something Chanyeol likes to see on Baekhyun’s face.

“But you don’t dislike her…”

Baekhyun drums his fingers on his lap but doesn’t answer.

They have a screening party when the first episode of The Romantic & Idol airs. Baekhyun tells them he’s looking forward to it, but to Chanyeol, he looks more nervous than happy about it. No one is more excited than Chanyeol, though. He watches the screen with avid fascination as soon as the show starts.

"You'd think it's his show," Kyungsoo whispers to Jongin.

"Hey, I heard that," Chanyeol says but doesn't take his eyes off the TV.

Baekhyun looks amazingly relaxed and natural in his favorite soft grey hoodie and blue beanie as he meets Hyejeong for the first time on screen. The two of them bow at each other at a pedestrian crossing. Baekhyun is holding a teddy bear-shaped lollipop for Hyejeong (“I didn’t want to bring flowers like the PDs wanted, so I suggested this instead”).

"Typical weirdo Baekhyun," Chanyeol says, but he can't keep the admiration out of his voice, because Hyejeong looks delighted by Baekhyun's quirky gift.

Chanyeol can tell from the get-go that Hyejeong is shy, but Baekhyun's a great conversationalist who immediately puts her at ease with his words and good humor. If Chanyeol doesn’t know better, he’ll think Baekhyun is flirting. He doesn't know why the thought of Baekhyun making a move surprises him—it’s a romance show after all—but it does.

While Chanyeol flirts deliberately, Baekhyun does it with a level of unawareness Chanyeol has often wondered about. Like everything else about him, flirting comes to Baekhyun naturally. Chanyeol has seen him being serious about it only twice. The first was with a fan from their pre-debut days, a cute girl significantly shorter than Baekhyun, who always came to visit during their lunch hour with a different lunchbox for him. Chanyeol could see a certain mischievousness in Baekhyun’s eyes every time he saw her, and he would often whisper in her ear, causing her to blush fire engine red. Whenever Chanyeol asked him what he'd said afterward, Baekhyun would just smile.

The other was with a waiter at a coffee shop, a tall guy with curly brown hair and an enigmatic smile, who had winked at Baekhyun as soon as they’d come in. Baekhyun kept licking his lips and playing with the single stud in his right ear, and Chanyeol couldn’t decide how to react. When the waiter approached them to take their order, his stance angled so that he was only facing Baekhyun’s direction, Baekhyun had smiled his special movie star smile at him, elegant fingers drumming on the table.

“You were totally flirting with that guy,” Chanyeol had accused him afterward, but Baekhyun had just smiled and said it was nothing. It still confuses Chanyeol up to now.

Liar, he thinks. Baekhyun is the real liar. Because the way he's looking at Hyejeong on screen makes it look like he likes her for real.

Baekhyun starts going on management-approved dates with Hyejeong as the series airs. They don’t meet often enough to look like they’re actually in a relationship, but they do it once in a while, successfully drumming up interest in their fate on the show. Chanyeol watches the news portals fill up with photos of the two of them, trying but failing to hide their faces from the camera (if they're even trying, that is). Some of their fans are already cursing at Hyejeong for taking their oppa away, but there are alarmingly more comments saying positive things about their "relationship."

“They say you’re faking it,” Chanyeol says as he browses an article online. He and Baekhyun are alone in the practice room, Chanyeol sitting in one corner while Baekhyun repeatedly goes through a dance routine.

Baekhyun wipes the sweat on his face with a towel and stares at him. “No, they don’t. They say we look cute together and that they hope Hyejeong and I are dating for real.”

“Well, some of them do,” Chanyeol says grudgingly. He already knows SME’s plan is working. There's an upsurge on views on their MAMA video and “EXO Baekhyun” is on top of the keyword search list on portals. Baekhyun is doing what management wants him to do and he's doing it well. Chanyeol is glad for Baekhyun, he is, and yet.

“Are you jealous because I’m not spending enough time with you?” Baekhyun’s tone is teasing.

Chanyeol rolls his eyes even as his fingers stumble on his keyboard. “Of course not.”

“Are you jealous because I’m succeeding at everything when it looks like I’m not even trying?” Baekhyun says quietly.

The ‘no’ Chanyeol intends to say won’t come out of his mouth. “Maybe,” he answers honestly.

For a moment, Chanyeol thinks Baekhyun will say he’s trying, he’s trying hard every day just like the rest of them, but he’s silent. When he finally speaks, all Baekhyun says is, “Do you hate me for it?”

Chanyeol straightens up and looks Baekhyun in the eyes. “You know I could never hate you.”

Baekhyun’s smile is small, but Chanyeol can see the relief in it. “Good enough.”

On their third “date,” Baekhyun finally takes Hyejeong to the dorm to meet them, the expression on his face neutral as he introduces her.

None of them has ever brought home a girl before, and they don't quite know how to deal. Sehun is too energetic, Joonmyun too sweet, and Jongin too silent. Surprisingly (Chanyeol says surprising because he's never seen Kyungsoo with girls before), Kyungsoo is the only one who doesn't seem ill at ease. He asks her about life in AOA and offers her a choice of orange juice or tea.

Chanyeol does his part and asks her pointless questions like whether or not she believes in unicorns and which element she likes better, fire or light. Hyejeong looks confused, and Chanyeol wants to tsk at her lack of knowledge about EXO, but he restrains himself for Baekhyun's sake. Baekhyun smiles and pinches the inside of Chanyeol's wrist, a pointed ‘Be nice.’

"Sorry about all of them," Baekhyun tells Hyejeong. "We've been stuck in this dorm with just us boys for a loooong time."

"It's okay. You'd probably get worse treatment when you come visit our dorm." Hyejeong hides her grin behind her hand.

Chanyeol can tell from the way Baekhyun's body movements still that he's pleased at Hyejeong's statement.

"Can we come too?" Sehun pipes up, sounding overeager.

Chanyeol bops him on the head before anyone else can react. "You're welcome," he tells Baekhyun and Hyejeong, grinning.

Hyejeong giggles and shakes her head cutely, and Chanyeol finds himself wondering about what ifs. But then Baekhyun is looking at him and smiling one of his favorite smiles at him, a small quirk of lips hardly anyone sees except for him, and the thoughts float away. Chanyeol smiles back.


Chanyeol looks up from fiddling with his guitar at Baekhyun’s voice. “Well, what?”

Baekhyun is leaning against the door of their room, his arms folded across his chest. “This thing you do lately where you pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about? It’s getting old.”

Chanyeol smirks. “I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Baekhyun shakes his head and sits next to Chanyeol on his bed. “What do you think of her?”

“She’s not as ugly as I thought she would be in person.”

Baekhyun elbows him hard on the ribs. “Any more of these little comments and I’m going to have to give up our friendship, you ass.”

Chanyeol shrugs and puts down his guitar. “You asked for it. You keep wanting me to be honest.”

“It’s not something I’m supposed to ask for. We’re friends.”

Chanyeol leans back on the palms of his hands. Baekhyun is looking at him attentively, as if his opinion of Hyejeong really matters. It’s almost surprising how much Baekhyun trusts him sometimes. “She’s too nice. It’s kind of a turnoff.”

Baekhyun flicks him on the forehead. “You know, most people think of that as a good thing. Leave it to you to question it.”

“And her giggle,” Chanyeol barrels on, ignoring the sting on his forehead. “It’s like a hyena’s. She was almost crying at Sehun’s joke about bananas. Is that natural? I mean-”

Baekhyun pushes Chanyeol off the bed remarkably easily and twists Chanyeol’s arm behind his back in the process. “Ow, ow, ow, Baek, ow, okay, fine, she’s perfect. Let go.”

“Is that all you have to say for yourself?” Baekhyun asks. His voice is calm, but Chanyeol can detect a hint of mirth in it.

“You know I was just joking,” Chanyeol says. He sniffs. “Besides, what does it matter what I think? Since when do you listen to what I say?”

Baekhyun sighs and lets go of Chanyeol’s arm. Chanyeol massages it with one hand while staring at the other man warily. “I just want you to get along, okay?” Baekhyun says. He hesitates. “We’re not…you know we’re not together, but you never know what could happen in the future.”

“You shouldn’t put stock on what-ifs,” Chanyeol says. “You might regret it.”

The silence is loaded as they take in each other’s words. Chanyeol thinks Baekhyun looks like he wants to say something but is considering how to phrase it.

Baekhyun opens his mouth—

“Hey, want to hear this new song I’m working on?” Chanyeol interrupts. His hand goes to his guitar and he plucks at a string hastily.

Baekhyun licks his lips. There’s a hint of something in his eyes that Chanyeol can’t quite read. “Okay.”

Chanyeol jolts awake from a dream of falling, falling to the ground to Baekhyun's touch on his bare forearm. He’d been waiting for Baekhyun to come home from a date with Hyejeong and had ended up asleep in bed.

"Are you drunk? You're sleeping in my bed," Baekhyun says. "I'm surprised you even fit."

Chanyeol looks at him through hazy eyes. All he can see is a messy blur of eyeliner and teeth. He blinks. "What? There a law saying I can't sleep here? I wasn’t even expecting you to come home. You can sleep at that girl’s place for all I care." He runs through everything Baekhyun has just said in his head. "And our beds are the same size. So there."

“Her name is Hyejeong,” Baekhyun says. “Also, your jealousy is leaking.”

“M’not jealous.”

"You're hugging my pillow."

"I happen to like pillows."

Baekhyun's exasperated look is fond. "Fine. If you're sleeping in my bed, I'll take yours." He makes to get up, but Chanyeol pulls him back.

"Your bed is big enough for both of us."

Baekhyun laughs. "I almost believed you for a second there."

Chanyeol harrumphs. "Look, it's," he looks at the clock on the wall, "3am, and we're both extremely tired. Stop making a fuss and just sleep." He forces Baekhyun to lie down. "God. Why is that so hard?"

Baekhyun makes a token sniff of protest but doesn't get up. His eyes close, and Chanyeol sighs in satisfaction.

"There," Chanyeol says. He brings his arm around Baekhyun's nape and pulls the other close to his body, back to back.

"Are you cuddling me?" Baekhyun grouses grumpily. "Your bony arms are hurting me.”

"Shush. Sleep."

"...you missed me that much, huh? It was only a few hours."


Baekhyun sighs good-naturedly. "Dramatic as ever."

Chanyeol tightens his hold on Baekhyun. "Just sleep. Your muttering is keeping me awake."

"You missed me," Baekhyun sing-songs. He wriggles in Chanyeol’s grip until Chanyeol is forced to loosen it and he can turn around to face him. "You really missed meeee," he sings, louder now, his eyes alight with mischief.

“Oh, shut up.”

Baekhyun puts a finger over Chanyeol’s lips. “You shut up,” he says, smiling as if he doesn’t have a care in the world. There’s something about late nights that loosens up Baekhyun like this, makes him pliable and more likely to do reckless things. They stare at each other, Baekhyun smiling and Chanyeol unsure of how to react. It strikes him then like a punch in the gut that if Baekhyun were to move closer, would only tilt his head upward just a little bit, Chanyeol could do something. He really could.

Baekhyun snatches his finger away. “Park Chanyeol, did you just bite me?”

Chanyeol grins and sticks his tongue out. “So what if I did?”

“I really don’t know what to do with you sometimes,” Baekhyun says with a huff.

“That makes two of us,” Chanyeol mutters quietly to himself.

“So annoying,” Baekhyun is saying, “just because you missed me. Now we’re stuck in this bed together when we’ve got two perfectly-”

“Stop talking,” Chanyeol interrupts, pulling Baekhyun close to his chest and burying his nose in Baekhyun’s hair.

Baekhyun murmurs something unintelligible under his breath, his face stuck somewhere between Chanyeol’s shoulder and upper chest, but he doesn’t protest. Chanyeol can feel Baekhyun’s muscles loosening as he finally lets himself relax.

“Good night, Baek.” Chanyeol holds Baekhyun tighter until he quiets down and falls asleep. He lies awake for the next three hours, his heart leaping to his throat as he listens to Baekhyun’s regular breathing and thinks.

part 2
Tags: postings, summer
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