Pairing: Chanyeol / Baekhyun
Summary: Baekhyun is 27 and his chances of finding Mr. Right Guy seem to be nearing zero, he doesn't want to get old alone, he wants...family. so he makes the hardest decision and submits for surrogacy.
From friends to lovers to best friends... Deep inside Chanyeol knew he never stopped, couldn't stop, loving his best friend, he had to let go so he did and it was for the best. Right?
Warnings: [Spoiler (click to open)]
(Split into three parts due to LJ word limit, further author notes at the end of part III)
Look at us, running around - always rushed, always late.
I guess that's why they call it the human race
What we crave most in this world is connection, and for some people it happens at first sight, it's when you know - you know, it’s fate working its magic.
And it's great for them - they get to live in a pop song, take the express train, right? But that's not the way it really works.
For the rest of us it's a bit less romantic, it's complicated, it's messy , it's about horrible timing and fumbled opportunities and...not being able to say what you need to say when you need to say it. ( – The Switch, 2008.)
Park Chanyeol's expression was scandalized as he sat down in front of his best friend at the restaurant and Baekhyun had to bite his cheek to stop himself from laughing at his best friend's distress.
"Chanyeol for goodness sake you are not a creeper looking overgrown man-child. I mean, maybe a little bit but--"
"You see! Even you--- urgh okay I know I am. I'm just a creepy looking overgrown man-boy who really shouldn't be wearing this sweater vest right now and--"
"Chanyeol. He was a mentally ill standing on the street corner."
"But Baek, that's exactly the point, he had no reason to be polite." Chanyeol frowned at his plate, picking at his salad. Why did he let Baekhyun order for him anyway?
"I can't believe this stuff still bothers you, Yeol." The older man chuckled,
"Well it does."
Baekhyun rolled his eyes, reaching for his bag,
"Now I have something to show you."
"What is it now?" Chanyeol looked up from his plate, Baekhyun was holding up a newspaper with some exchange rate diagram,
"Yeah that's like," Chanyeol squinted to see the title better, "The exchange rate of the dollar and yen for the past week, it's probably changed by now like a hundred times Baek."
"Well good for you, now look at it like this." Baekhyun turned the paper around,
"You studied this crap back in university, if someone you knew on the stock asked, what advice would you give them?" Baekhyun seemed dead serious and Chanyeol frowned again, where was this even going? Baekhyun had less than zero interest in the stocks business, or anything close to it.
"I-- Baek I don't know, I need to look at fundamentals and--"
"Keep it simple Yeol, what would you say to them?"
Chanyeol messaged his temples,
"You have to sell that, it's going down."
"Exactly. This is what a guy's chances to have kids looks like at a certain age, especially when he's more into guys, you know."
"So, I'd like you to be the first to know, I'm going to be a father."
Chanyeol nearly spilled his drink, "You...what?! You got someone pregnant?!"
"Well, not yet... but I'm working on it,"
"Baek...you can't just...knock some girl up and make her have a baby for you, it doesn't work this way, and you're not-" But Baekhyun cut him off,
"I'm not knocking up some girl, and I am definitely not forcing anyone to have a baby for me, Yeol, I'm insulted. I've already submitted a sperm test and the results should actually be here in a few days, I've been doing some thinking, and this is really going nowhere, and I want it. I want a child of my own, I...I was thinking of adoption, but I just... I want my own child. I know it would make my grandmother happy too so...yeah."
Chanyeol looked at him dumbfounded,
"Byun Baekhyun. Do you realize what you're planning to get yourself into?"
"Yes, for once I do. I want it Yeol. I really want it, I have a great job at the network, I do independent work on the side, I can do this Chanyeol."
"So you're going to submit for gestational surrogacy?"
"Once my results come out clean I am." Baekhyun was smiling and Chanyeol wanted to hit his head against the wall,
"Baekhyun just...where did you even get this idea from? Oh god, is this about the jerk from last month? I thought you were over that-- Baek, seriously he's not worth it!"
Baekhyun's smile faded into a frown as he pressed his lips together in a thin line,
"It's not about fucking Zitao and thank you for bringing that up. I really can't deal with you sometimes, why can't you just support me for once?"
Chanyeol sighed, of course he wants to support him and he really shouldn't have mentioned that.
Probably, but he also hoped Baekhyun really knew what he was doing.
"Chanyeol, look - I wanted you to be the first one to know because I trust you and you're my best friend. But if you don't want to be there for me then okay! I'll just go talk to Kyungsoo then."
Kyungsoo. Baekhyun's childhood friend. They have been getting way too close lately to Chanyeol's taste... wait, what?
"Alright. It's...it's your life. And I am your best friend, don't dare replacing me with that creep." And he could see Baekhyun's eyes softening,
"He's not a creep, Kyungsoo is my friend too, you know, and he's actually been around longer than you too. Deal with it you big overgrown baby." But there wasn't bite in his words.
"You are coming to his birthday party tomorrow night, right?" He added,
"Do I even have a choice?" Chanyeol groaned, already knowing the answer.
"You really don't, I need a ride and you're driving. Pick me up at 7?" And he couldn't even think of saying no, not with the way the elder was grinning at him. He really needed to work on that 'saying no to Byun Baekhyun' thing at some point.
Baekhyun sighed, dabbing the small angled brush in black gel eyeliner before going back to the model's face.
"What now?" Kyungsoo asked, frowning as he was still looking through his papers as he took the place on the chair next to the model Baekhyun was working on,
"Oh it's nothing, I just...had an argument with Chanyeol about something stupid earlier, it's really nothing."
"Well, you look like crap... you're still coming tomorrow night, right? Oh god, tell me you didn't invite him..."
"Of course I did!" Baekhyun paused his work to look at Kyungsoo, scandalized, "He's my best friend!"
"Oh I know he is, is he going to bring that...girl he's been dating online?"
Baekhyun sighed, "She broke up with him."
Maybe that's why Chanyeol as upset earlier... his girlfriend, online or not, just broke up with him of course he'd be upset. It wasn't really like him though, none of Chanyeol's relationship lasted for too long, men or women. He bitterly laughed on the inside as he recalled their own few months of dating before calling it off not long after graduating university.
It wasn't a bad thing, it was a start of a great friendship anyways, he wouldn't give what he has with Chanyeol for any boyfriend in the world, this was stronger than any stupid one-night stand he has had in the past eight years ever since.
"Shocking." Kyungsoo rolled his eyes, "Has that guy ever had a relationship that lasted, you know, longer than five seconds? With anyone that wasn't you?"
"Don't say that! He's not that bad..." Except, he really was. If Baekhyun had some one-night stands and occasional dates with jerks and strangers, Chanyeol managed to break off every single date he's been set up to in less than one hour, it wasn't even that he wasn't good looking, because that he was. Otherwise Baekhyun probably wouldn't have considered dating him all those years ago back in university.
He was a great guy, nice, gentle, funny. Except every time he dated anyone, he'd rumble too much for his own good, and while Baekhyun found it endearing, not that he'd ever admit it, others - not so much.
"Alright, you're done here sweetie," He told the model and swung her chair as she opened her eyes so that she could see herself in the mirror and appreciate his work.
"Right, so he's a sweet guy and he's your best friend and yet..."
"Okay, so he can be a little... over-talkative and loud and maybe kind of dumb... but he's my best friend, Soo. He's the one person I'd trust my life with." And I wouldn't trade him for anyone in this world, he was going to add, but caught himself before he could. The younger man would never let him live in peace if he said that out loud.
"Baekhyun," Kyungsoo rolled his eyes, "You're stupid."
"I love you too Kyungsoo! I'll see you at 8?" Baekhyun winked, earning a smack on his arm as Kyungsoo rolled his eyes,
"Don't be late." He deadpanned before leaving the room.
"You know, I've been thinking," Baekhyun said, they were on their way to Kyungsoo's place, waiting for the red light to turn green,
"I... I don't want the woman who gives birth to my child be totally anonymous to me. I... I want to be able to get to know her before... I can't let just anyone bear my child, right?"
Chanyeol turned to him, dumbfounded.
"Are you for real? You want...to get to know her, before she gets pregnant with your child. And then she gets out of your life, because that makes sense, once it's all done?"
"Eyes on the road, Sherlock. And yes, I do." He said as the light turned green and Chanyeol resumed driving.
"I mean, what if she's a horrible person? And the baby inherits that? I just want to know what kind of person she is, that's all."
"Please don't tell me you're also thinking of sleeping with her--"
"Don't be an idiot. But you know what...maybe...maybe I should just--"
"Byun Baekhyun." There was warning in Chanyeol's voice as he pulled over to park the car
"Please don't do something stupid." He was being serious, but the smaller man just rolled his eyes, unbuckling his seatbelt.
"I'll be doing just fine. Maybe I'd even meet someone tonight actually, I know Kyungsoo has that friend of his, he said she was actually looking into this kind of stuff right now so who knows." And Chanyeol knew he probably said that just to piss him off, but he couldn't help the anger bubbling up inside him as they made their way into the building.
He was obviously just worried for his best friend's well-being, why couldn't Baekhyun see that?
He sighed, following the shorter male to Kyungsoo's apartment.
"You just couldn't fucking stand me finally getting on with somebody, could you? You just had to brag in and fucking-- URGH."
To say Baekhyun was angry was an understatement.
"He was trying to get into your pants and he was fucking married! What were you expecting me to do, let him? You're planning to have a baby for goodness sake! That kind of man does not reach even one bit of deserving to be with you - Baekhyun, that is wrong. You don't need him." Chanyeol frowned, avoiding his best friend's eyes as they walked down the street to his car.
"Well how the fuck do you know that?! Why the fuck do you think you have the fucking right to brag into my affairs?! Into my fucking life into what I fucking want to do with it? Are you going to shove the baby thing into every damn thing I do now?! Because you think you're smart, don't you? You think you know better, oh right, I forgot you always know better, don't you?" They both stopped walking, looking at each other, Baekhyun's breath was fast and uneven as he glared at the other.
"Baekhyun, listen I just--"
"No, Chanyeol. You listen. This is not fucking about you. This is about me. When I told you about my plans for the future, I wasn't expecting you to take it all calmly, because I know you. But for the least, I thought you, of all people, would support me. But no, you just have to go on and blow everything up, don't you?" He was crying.
He was fucking crying and Chanyeol felt his heart drop to the ground.
He didn't mean for this to happen. He didn't mean for any of this to happen. The last thing he wanted was Baekhyun mad at him. The last thing he wanted was Baekhyun hurt by him. Why the fuck are you such an asshole, Park Chanyeol?
"Look. This wasn't my plan either! I didn't grow up dreaming I'd be looking for a woman who'd be willing to get pregnant for me without having a partner! No I wasn't! But this isn't happening Chanyeol. I thought I could be happy if I found the right guy, well, guess what, I'll be turning 28 next year and Mr. Right guy seems nowhere to be found. So I'm sick of looking and waiting. And here we go and I'm doing this and I'm getting my test results in the next few days and I'm scared and I can't even...I can't even count on you?"
All Chanyeol really wanted to do, was tell him how sorry he was. He wanted to hug the smaller man until he stopped shaking and crying, and tell him everything was going to be alright. He didn't want him to suffer, and now it was all his own fault.
Except the words wouldn't come out now. Now that he needed to speak for once, they just wouldn't come out.
"You're supposed to be my friend..." Baekhyun's voice broke into a faint whisper and Chanyeol felt his heart breaking with it.
He had to say something. Anything.
"Yeah..." Not this. Yeah? Of all things?
Baekhyun was biting his lower lip, frustrated, his eye makeup was getting smudged by the tears. He was a wreck. And it was all Chanyeol's fault.
"I think we need a timeout."
He stopped a taxi that was passing by and got into it, hardly even sparing one last glance at the taller man.
Leaving Chanyeol to stand all alone in the cold night and the deep feeling of regret eating him from inside.
"I'm not just your friend..." He muttered to himself. I'm your best friend... I'm...
"Wow, you're actually working out." Junmyeon stared at Chanyeol, probably finding it hard to believe the latter was actually running on the treadmill and not just bugging him at the gym because he had to go.
"Yup." Chanyeol pressed a button on the treadmill, raising the level to faster.
"What's gotten into you? Baekhyun problems?" Jongin asked as he took his place on the treadmill next to him.
Chanyeol shook his head.
"Nope. He wanted a 'timeout'. We haven't seen each other in the past week." He kept staring at the machine's screen as he spoke.
"Timeout? Seriously? Just how bad did you fuck up, Park?"
"Bad. Would you just leave it alone?"
"I fucking pissed him off, okay? He needed me and I wasn't there. I screwed up. Is that what you wanted to hear?"
"There's a guy glaring at you like he wants nothing more than you dead. Just over there." Junmyeon pointed at the general direction of the entrance door and Chanyeol looked up.
He slowed down the pace until he was able to get off the damn machine, Kyungsoo was making his way to them and he was...angry.
"Park Chanyeol. We need to talk."
"He hasn't showed up to work in three days, he wouldn't even answer my calls. I almost broke his door until he opened it and I still couldn't get whatever it is out of him. If there's anyone he'd talk to, it's you. So go and make it right before I make you regret being born."
Kyungsoo was dead serious and worried. He wouldn't be looking for Chanyeol all way up there, if it wasn't serious, would he?
Whatever it was, something with Baekhyun was wrong, screw timeout. He messed up once, he wasn't going to mess up again.
So here he was, standing in front of Baekhyun's apartment door, taking a deep breath as he knocked on the door.
He knocked again, maybe Baekhyun didn't hear it...
He could hear some shuffling on the other side of the door, yet it remained closed.
"Baekhyun, I know you're in there..." He called out. What's wrong with you?
"Go away." Came Baekhyun's muffled voice,
"Not until you tell me what's wrong!"
"I don't want to talk to you, just go."
"Kyungsoo said you haven't gone to work in days, you don't answer your phone, Baek...” He sighed,
"Look...I'm sorry for what I've said and done that night, I was being stupid. I'm sorry, but...whatever it is that is going on with you right now...you don't have to deal with it alone, Baekhyun... just talk to me..."
Chanyeol sighed again, turning around to lean against the wall next to the door. It seemed like Baekhyun wasn't planning to open the door any soon, except, he wasn't going anywhere until the elder does.
More shuffling on the other side.
"Chanyeol...?" Baekhyun's voice came soft and broken, the anger from before was gone.
"I'm still here..." He murmured softly in reply, moving back to face the door.
Slowly, hesitantly, the door came open, just wide enough for Chanyeol to slip in so he did, before the other changed his mind.
What he didn't expect though, was Baekhyun launching himself upon him, burying his face in Chanyeol's chest as he wrapped his arms around his waist, shoulders shaking.
"Baek...?" The younger man whispered, slowly bringing his arms around the smaller male.
"You were right... I...I'm not good enough..." Baekhyun cried,
"What? Not good enough for what? Baek, what are you talking about?"
"The test results came in few days ago... it's no good... I never thought even... it's just---"
Chanyeol pulled away for a moment, only to cup his best friend's face in his hands,
"Look at me..." Baekhyun did, his eyes were swollen and red, tears staining his cheeks.
"Tell me what happened."
They slowly moved to sit on the couch, Baekhyun still holding onto his best friend's shirt as he spoke, voice unstable, breath uneven.
"Remember I told you... about...about what happened back in high school?"
He couldn't quite remember how they came to talk about that, they just did.
Baekhyun wasn't a popular kid back then, so he said. There was a bunch of other kids picking up on him, probably because he was smaller, so Baekhyun said years later.
They called him gay, they called him a girl.
They decided, one day, to check if he really had something under his belt, two of the boys strangled him into an empty classroom. And it happened.
Baekhyun was crying back when he told him that as well, too incoherent for Chanyeol to fully understand what exactly happened, and maybe the other couldn't quite remember himself, all he knew, was that he passed out at some point and woke up again at the hospital, with a broken arm, bruises all over and an ice pack, that didn't even help that much with the unbearable pain, on his crotch.
"I didn't...I didn't know it could...I didn't know it was affected like this..."
"Baek..." And it clicked. He knew where this was going...
"Did...did your doctor say...what are the chances...?"
"It's...it's low Chanyeol. very low. I...he said...he said it could work... he said it could take a few tries to work or...I... I don't know what to do...I'm...useless..."
It wasn't the first time he had to comfort Baekhyun like this, in the past eight years he learned to notice those insecurities whenever they surfaced and he also learned to convince Baekhyun otherwise. When he thought he was getting fat, Chanyeol was there to make sure he doesn't starve himself to death. When he thought his makeup skills weren't good enough, Chanyeol let him use himself for Baekhyun's makeup experiments, as much as he needed to practice. There were many occasions of that sort, except there was never anything as big as this...
"It's going to be alright." He heard himself murmuring into Baekhyun's hair as he held him tighter to his chest,
"You should go for it, Baek. At least give it a try, okay?"
"And what if it doesn't work?" Baekhyun's voice came muffled against his shirt,
"We'll think of something, I... I believe in you, Baekhyun. Whatever happens, we'll figure it out. okay? Just give it a shot."
They stayed as they were, not moving even after Baekhyun nodded slowly, murmuring a soft 'okay' and Chanyeol couldn't bring himself to say or do anything else. He missed him.
A few weeks later, came the call.
"We have a surrogate... I just got the call from the agency and called you." Baekhyun's voice was somewhere between panic and excitement.
"It...it is."He could hear Baekhyun sighing on the other side,
"I'm scared... I know it's stupid after everything but... I'm scared shitless, Yeol."
"You'll be just fine..."
Except what he really wanted to say was different.
Don't do it then. You were waiting for Mr. Right guy and I'm probably not him but I'll be here with you if you let me, Baek.
It was stupid, it didn't make sense. Not after their first few months together, after they agreed they're better off as friends. At the time it seemed like a good idea, as time passed though, he started regretting every word he said back then, he did not regret their friendship turning out as it did, he just wished he could have been less of an idiot back then and all that time after.
"I have to go now, I'll talk to you later. And Chanyeol?"
They got busy at work, Chanyeol hardly even had time to talk to his best friend for the next month, apart from Baekhyun calling to tell him the meeting went well and that he will be proceeding on soon, he didn't know much.
It wasn't until the second weekend of June, that Baekhyun asked him if he was up to going out for a movie later that night.
What are we watching?
He texted back and few minutes later came another text from Baekhyun with time and place and what probably was the name of one of those romantic comedies Baekhyun liked and Chanyeol didn't even think of protesting because it's been awhile since they have seen each other, let alone went out together.
It was around midway into the film when it paused for a few minutes break, that Baekhyun told him.
"I'm moving back to Bucheon,"
Chanyeol just stared back at him for a moment, trying to take those words in. Moving? Bucheon?
Baekhyun must have read the confusion on his face because he then added,
"That's where she's from too, I want to be there for whatever happens during the pregnancy, I want to make sure I do everything possible for that child. And...maybe after...well, my grandmother asked me to move in with her in Yanggu, she...wants to see the baby. She isn't getting any younger...and I guess it's a good environment to raise a child there, mountains...fresh air... so...yeah. I mean, we'll still keep in touch, right?"
Chanyeol nodded dumbly, and the rest of the movie and everything else around him was irrelevant.
Baekhyun is leaving.
Byun Baekhyun is leaving him for good.
I mean, we'll still keep in touch, right?
And they did. At first.
Before the baby was born, they Skyped on weekends and called each other from time to time in addition to casual texting.
Baekhyun sent him random updates about everything, including some shots of the ultra-sounds where Chanyeol tried finding whatever it was that was supposed to resemble a baby, replying with a bunch of excited emoticons.
It was a boy, so Baekhyun mentioned awhile later during one of their calls.
"Do you have a name in mind already?" Chanyeol asked, curious.
"Maybe? Seriously Baek, do you?"
"Well I do. But I'm not telling, not until he's born." They bickered for a bit but Chanyeol gave up eventually and their conversation went off to other subjects.
Baekhyun did tell him, when little Minjae was born, back then Chanyeol asked if he could visit them sometime,
"No. Don't. It's far and you have a big project coming up, didn't you say that? It's going to be a handful for a while, right? You'll see him soon enough."
Except 'Soon enough' wasn't soon at all.
Being a single father, Baekhyun got busy, he ended up staying in Bucheon, taking a break from his job, doing only limited work from home doing occasional make-up for weddings and special occasions, mostly for people he already knew.
Most of his efforts went, as expected, to raising his son. They still texted each other several times a week, before it turned into several times a month and later to hardly even that.
So there he was, six years later, he has just finished his first project as a team-leader for the new advertising project they were doing with Nature Republic for their new range of skin-care products and he kind of wished Baekhyun was around because he knew nearly nothing about that kind of things while Baekhyun's life revolved around it at some point.
He still had no idea what the hell got into him when he agreed to let Junmyeon and his boyfriend set him up on a date with one of his female friends. There was no way this was going to work, why on earth would he even listen to Kim Jongdae?
He sighed as the girl, Hyejin, whom apparently he happened to know from university, came back and took her seat in front of him.
"I'm so sorry, sometimes my job gets really annoying." She apologized, placing her cellphone back in her shiny black purse.
"It's fine. Shit happens." He probably should have phrased that better, she gave him a puzzled look before they both went back to picking awkwardly at their plates.
"So..." Hyejin looked up, "I actually kind of knew it was going to be you, tonight, I mean. I was totally shocked when Jongdae showed me your photo and claimed you were still single." She chuckled,
"I swear I always thought you and Baekhyun were going to last--I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that--"
"It's fine." Chanyeol laughed, "Baek and I are still together you know."
She nearly choked on her drink.
"I'm kidding. We're just friends."
The rest of the date went, somewhat smoothly. Until he, obviously, managed to blurt something stupid about how they're probably going to end up in a few years if they keep dating and most likely freaked the poor soul out of her mind. He really shouldn't drink. At all.
Except, maybe he didn't really want that date to work out...
Chanyeol sighed he put his phone to his ear to hear the voice message from Baekhyun, making his way towards the bus station. His car broke down, again.
"Chanyeol? Urgh, It's me, I wanted to tell you in person but anyway, guess what! We're moving back to Seoul! I got a huge offer from KBS and I found a great apartment, Minjae is excited, he's already practicing his dialect and all. Call me when you get this! Alright. Bye for now."
Baekhyun was coming back.
Byun Baekhyun. Was coming back to Seoul. His best friend, whom he hasn't seen in six years.
He couldn't help the smile spreading on his lips as he took those words in.
We're moving back to Seoul!
And the stupid ruined date seemed irrelevant.
Baekhyun was coming back.
Baekhyun moved back three weeks later,
They made reservations in a restaurant they used to frequent when they were younger, and Baekhyun made sure to remind him to bring something for Minjae, as if Chanyeol needed to be told. He did ask him what would be good though, kids his age were already developing their own perspective in life, their usually already had their own interests and it was Baekhyun's son. He needed to make a good impression.
"Just bring him anything related to Captain America and it would be fine." Baekhyun chuckled and Chanyeol raised an eyebrow,
"Really? Cap? I mean, being your son...I'd think Iron Man would be his all times idol or something?" He laughed and Baekhyun sighed on the other side,
"I tried, he wouldn't listen. He still thinks a guy who was stuck in an ice block for decades is cooler than the coolest guy in the superheroes universe. Hmph."
That only made the younger man laugh harder and it wasn't long before Baekhyun joined him.
"You're such a child Baek,"
"Look who's talking. I bet you're celebrating my loss right now. Anyway, I guess that's a good point for you though, I really think he's going to like you." And somewhere deep inside, Chanyeol felt the urge to ask - And are you?
He pushed it to the back of his mind,
"Alright, I'll find something on my way then. So...uh... see you tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow... and Yeol?"
"I missed you." It was soft and quick and the line went dead before Chanyeol could even think of replying. Leaving him with his mouth slightly agape, phone still pressed to his ear.
I missed you too...
"So wait, you mean, your best friend, whom you haven't seen in like...10 years--"
"Whatever, so the guy you've been sulking over, who hardly even talked to you, yet you kept insisting he's still your best friend, is coming back with his adorable 5 years old son, whom you're totally planning to befriend and ditch us forever for them?" Jongdae finished his dramatic monologue with a pout and Chanyeol rolled his eyes,
"Why are you even here? Hyung, why is he even here?" He turned to Junmyeon,
"I thought you said you guys would keep it off in office!" Chanyeol whined and Junmyeon's ears went red,
"Jongdae came to sign on some papers." The older man muttered, looking back at his screen, frown on his face.
"And so did you," He added, handing Chanyeol a thick pile of documents, not bothering to take his eyes off the screen.
"I really hate you guys, hope you know that." Chanyeol groaned, accepting the documents.
"Oh but we know you love us! Now that it's out of the way, when do I get to meet your princess? I'm like the only one who's never met him!!!" Jongdae pouted,
"Um. Never? And don't call him that!" It was Chanyeol's turn to turn red.
"What I was saying, before Jongdae interrupted me with his meaningful monologue, I...I need help."
"What kind of help?"
"Well... As I said, he just moved back to Seoul and we're going to meet tomorrow night... after all this time...and Baekhyun...I... how do I make myself look presentable?" Chanyeol winced as he finished his question, mostly because Jongdae was already grinning knowingly and that was never a good start, for anything.
"Oh, we'll help you!"
"What are we helping him with?" It was Jongin, standing at the door with a curious look on his face,
"Chanyeol needs to look good for his princess so we're taking him shopping! and maybe we should get his hair done." Jongdae scanned the taller man with his eyes,
"Definitely needs to get his hair done."
"I'm not getting another perm Kim Jongdae! Forget it."
"I never said anything about another perm, that thing made you look like somebody fried your hair on a toaster for too long! Nope, we'll see how it goes. So, are you in with me?" Jongdae was looking at Jongin who happily agreed.
Chanyeol was already regretting this.
"Uhh...guys? Sorry to ruin the fun, but...work?" Junmyeon looked at the three of them from behind his computer,
"Sure, love...work...." Jongdae made sure to cross the room and steal one last kiss from his boyfriend before leaving.
"Oh get a room you two!" Chanyeol whined after him,
"Gross." Jongin agreed, wincing as their supervisor kept staring at the space Jongdae has just left.
"So?" Kyungsoo looked at Baekhyun over the table, they were having lunch in a restaurant next to the KBS building, Baekhyun was only there for an interview with his new supervisor, and Kyungsoo had schedule hosting a new show later, so they stayed close by.
"So, when are you going to tell me about your upcoming date with Park Chanyeol?" Kyungsoo was smirking and Baekhyun rolled his eyes, looking down back at his salad,
"How do you even know?"
"Oh come on, you called him before you even called me, and don't you dare denying! Anyway, there is no fucking way you're not meeting him in the next few days, so... what's up?"
"Well, first of all. It's not a date. I'm meeting my best friend. I've been a horrible best friend, I don't even know if he would still...consider me as such but. well. We're meeting tomorrow, with Minjae too." He sighed,
"I just hope... I just hope he doesn't hate me after all these years. I mean... he could have a girlfriend or a boyfriend who would hate the fact he's still in touch with his ex, right? I mean... I'd probably get jealous? I don't know..."
"Chanyeol, he doesn't do the whole dating thing. Not really, not since you left. " Kyungsoo looked up from his plate,
"How do you know that?" The older man asked, confused.
"Are you really an idiot? My boyfriend works with him, remember?"
"Right. The boyfriend nobody in the world is supposed to know about." Baekhyun raised an eyebrow,
"Don't change the subject. Jongin told me how the guys keep trying to set Chanyeol up with people, never really worked out so far. He was a horrible date in first place, you're literally the only person who lasted with him for longer than a week, but apparently he's gotten even worse."
Baekhyun sighed again, so Chanyeol was still the big awkward dork he knew, so what? Some things just stay... as Kyungsoo just said, he was a horrible date in first place. Not that Baekhyun ever minded, he was...perfect.
He bit his lower lip.
He was perfect, for you. And you should have kept him yours when you could.
But I had to let go...
You have lost your chance a long time ago. You'd be lucky if he still considers you his best friend.
"Nothing. I'm nothing. Minjae's birthday is coming soon... think his all times favorite uncle will have time to give a hand?"
Kyungsoo rolled his eyes at the change of topic but replied he would anyway.
"Alright, I think that's as presentable as we can make him." Jongdae yawned as they made their way out of the hair salon, Chanyeol's hair was now what the hairdresser called 'Chocolate Brown', which to Chanyeol was just a brown.
All in all it was a nice change, fresh even, from the natural black he's been keeping for the past few years.
He was carrying a bag with clothes that Jongdae redeemed appropriate for the occasion.
"You still look like a gangly creep, but at least you're not sporting the hungry caveman look anymore, speaking of hungry, you're paying for lunch!" Jongdae announced happily, linking arms with Junmyeon whose ears went red at the gesture.
"Oh, crap is it that late already?" Jongin frowned,
"What's wrong?" Chanyeol looked at him, worried.
"I...kinda...well, let's just say I have to go now." The youngest of the four rubbed the back of his neck, smiling a little.
Jongdae raised an eyebrow, smirking,
"Jonginnie got himself a date, hasn't he?"
"What? No, hyung--"
"Oh god, you really did! Who is it? It's the same fucking secret girlfriend, isn't it? How comes you've been dating for so long and we haven't even met her yet?!"
"Can we...talk about this later? I'm going to be late and there will be no date at all at this rate. Okay?" He glanced at his cellphone.
"I'll see you guys at work, bye!"
Jongdae looked scandalized for a moment, but Junmyeon just elbowed him,
"Just let him be, you can gossip later. Didn't we say Chanyeol was paying for lunch?"
"Oh crap, how did I get stuck with you...two..lovesick birds, AGAIN?!" But the other two were already ahead of him, making their way towards the small restaurant they usually ate out at.
At least he did get the 'looking presentable' thing sorted out. Now he just had to maybe hope Baekhyun would notice, and maybe he would like it...
He ended up buying a Captain America themed plastic cup and a figure for Minjae and couldn't help but get that Iron Man mug for Baekhyun, chuckling to himself as he made his way to the restaurant.
He was about to enter the restaurant when he heard the familiar voice from behind him.
"Come on Minjae-ah, uncle Chanyeol will be sad if we're late!"
"I don't want to."
"Why not, sweetheart? Uncle Chanyeol is so cool!"
"Is he?" Chanyeol grinned at the pair making Baekhyun look up in surprise,
"You're here!" The older man smiled back as they took each other in for a moment,
Has it really been six years? Chanyeol wondered as he accepted the hug from the other man, wrapping his arms around the other.
"Look Minjae, this is uncle Chanyeol, say hello."
The boy pouted but bowed deeply as he murmured a quiet "Hello uncle Chanyeol."
Chanyeol crouched to get closer to eye-level with the boy,
"Hello there! Some strange man," Chanyeol gestured towards Baekhyun, who in turn, rolled his eyes, "Who claims to know you well, said you like the best super hero on planet!"
Minjae looked up at him, confused as the giant man handed him a small white plastic bag.
"Awwww uncle Chanyeol has a present for you! How sweet!" Baekhyun beamed and Chanyeol smiled at the boy,
"Go ahead, you can open it."
Not even a minute later the boy was grinning from ear to ear looking up from his presents to his father then back to the other man once Baekhyun nodded encouragingly.
"Thank you uncle Chanyeol!" Minjae smiled as he bowed this time.
Both men sighed in relief as the boy hugged his new figure to his chest, letting Baekhyun take the bag from him as they made their way into the restaurant.
"Thanks for that." Baekhyun whispered,
"I've got one for you too." The younger man grinned making his friend roll his eyes,
"You're the bane of my existence Park Chanyeol. Come on let's get on with that dinner plan, I'm starving. "
They spent most of the evening catching up, Chanyeol entertained Minjae with weird faces and childish jokes, the boy giggled and went back to play with his new figure as they waited for their bill.
"Should we get some desert? It's not too late yet, is it? I'm treating!" He offered as they went out,
"Would you like that, Minjae-ah?" Baekhyun looked down at his son, who beamed back at him at the mention of sweets.
He sighed, rolling his eyes at Chanyeol, "You're such a player, Chanyeol. You knew we couldn't pass a desert, didn't you?"
Chanyeol just grinned, "How about ice cream? There's that new place, just around the corner over there."
"Shall we go then?"
"Yes!!!" Minjae was already dragging Baekhyun to the general direction where Chanyeol pointed a moment ago, making the adults laugh as they followed.
"You...changed your hair color, didn't you? Last time we saw each other, it was black." Baekhyun noted and Chanyeol's heart almost skipped a beat.
"Y-Yeah. Just...felt like a change?"
"I like it. I mean-- it suits you. yeah, looks...nice." Baekhyun smiled, cheeks flushed pink,
"Minjae-ah, you can look at the ice creams there and tell us want you want, okay?" He added to the boy who eagrly ran to the display window, taking in the colorful view of ice creams in all kinds of flavors.
"Hey, Chanyeol...do you...well...um. Do you maybe have some free time on Tuesday? I have to go on some parents thing in his school and...well, you guys seem to get along well, it'd be so much better than getting some babysitter I don't know and--"
"I'll take him out then," Chanyeol laughed,
"I was actually thinking of taking both of you but...he mentioned earlier wanting to see dinosaurs, he's never been to Seoul before has he? I could take him to the Science Museum if you wouldn't mind."
Chanyeol didn't expect Baekhyun's arms to wrap around him for the second time that evening,
"It's...no problem?" He murmured, suddenly feeling all too warm.
"Daddy!!! I want the strawberry one!" Minjae tugged on Baekhyun's shirt, pointing to the container with the bright pink ice cream he finally decided he wants.
Later that night, back at his own apartment, Chanyeol could still feel Baekhyun's lips on his cheek as he bid him good night. Just a quick, friendly peck on his cheek. That's all. They used to do this all the time...
He sighed, maybe it was better this way. At least he got his best friend back.
At least he had him around again.
That night, for the first time in ages, he fell asleep with a smile playing on his lips.
The next day, Jongdae cornered him in the elevator,
"How did the date go?"
"The one you ditched my lovely friend Hyejin for. Speaking of which, you're ruining my reputation and she thinks you're a nut job. Anyway, the date, with the princess and the kid?" The older man pressed,
"It wasn't a date and I told you to stop calling him that. We met, we ate, Minjae is adorable, and Baek...we're friends Jongdae, stop giving me that look!" Chanyeol frowned, making Jongdae laugh,
"Friends my ass, you don't go make yourself 'presentable' and all just to meet your friend."
"Well, maybe I do. We haven't seen each other in years. It felt like first impressions all over again. I had to do well."
"Whatever gets you thorough the night. But then why did you ask Junmyeon if you could get off early on Tuesday?" Jongdae smirked,
"I hate you, why do you even read his texts?"
"Because, he's my boyfriend and he was in the shower and it could have been important! Now spill."
Chanyeol rolled his eyes, sometimes Jongdae was impossible, really.
"He just needed some help with his son, some parents thing and he has nobody to leave him with so he asked me and I couldn't say no, so...well. yeah."
"Already?! Woah, babysitting after first date, you guys are moving so fucking fast, is the next child on the way already?" To Jongdae's luck, the elevator stopped and he managed to run out before Chanyeol's foot could reach his butt.
"Careful, Junmyeon might hear you and then you're in trouble." It was Jongin, smiling as he entered the elevator, not bothering to press anything as they worked on the same floor.
"Well, his boyfriend is very ill-mannered I can't help it."
"Speaking of boyfriends, how did your date go?"
"IT WAS NOT A FUCKING DATE!"
"Chill man, I was just kidding, but seriously, how's the kid? He must be so cute! Right? I mean he has to look a lot like Baekhyun hyung, then he has to be cute! Is he cute?!"
"Very. Though now speaking of boyfriends, I see your date went...very well." Chanyeol smirked, eyeing Jongin's neck.
"Huh?" The younger man looked back at him, confused,
Chanyeol pointed on his own neck and back to Jongin, wiggling his eyebrows and Jongin's eyes widened as he turned around to look at his reflection, quickly pressing his palm to the mark, face flushed as he muttered something along the lines of
"Ohmygod Jongdae will never let me live if he sees this" making Chanyeol laugh.
"Our Jonginnie is so cute when he's flustered! Come on, or are you going to stand here for the rest of the day admiring that hickey of yours? I'm sure if you ask nicely, one of the girls will lend you some make up to cover that thing up."
Jongin just followed him out, miserable in silence.
Tuesday arrived faster than Chanyeol had expected, and before he knew he was in Baekhyun's living room as the older man was fussing over his son,
"Make sure you put his jacket on for him if it gets windy, do you have tissues on you? Should I give you some? He's been getting allergies with all that dust around and--"
"Baekhyun. Breath." Chanyeol laughed, "Calm down. We'll be alright. I have tissues and if we run out I'll just get some more. I won't let your son freeze and I'm definitely not going to take my eyes off him before you even dare saying anything. Just go to your parent-meeting and do your thing. We'll be alright. Right buddy?" He added, winking at the boy who nodded back enthusiastically.
"Alright." Baekhyun inhaled and exhaled.
"Fine. Okay." He crouched to help his son put shoes on,
"Be a good boy and take care of the big guy, okay? Don't scare that uncle off just yet, we still need him alive," He chuckled and the boy beamed as he nodded again.
"Thanks again Chanyeol, really." Baekhyun said as he escorted them to the door,
"It's just a shame you can't join us." Chanyeol replied, opening the door and taking Minjae's hand.
"Maybe next time, have fun!" Baekhyun called behind him,
"We will! Bye daddy!" Minjae called back before he and Chanyeol disappeared into the elevator.
"So. Are we going to have some fun, or what?"
Minjae was excited to see the huge dinosaurs and the bugs under the microscopes, they walked around for about a hour and a half before leaving in favor of ice cream.
"So, So how is it going? Did you make new friends? " Chanyeol asked as they made their way through the park to get to the bus station, Minjae who was happily eating his ice cream until now, looked up at the tall man.
"Why do all adults ask about that?" He asked, pouting
"Well, I don't know, that's what you do most of the time now, right? It makes sense."
The boy sighed sadly,
"I don't want to talk about it."
"I just don't, uncle Chanyeol." Chanyeol didn't miss the sadness in the boy's eyes as he looked away,
"So what's his name?" He eyed him carefully, pretending to be looking straight ahead when the boy turned to him again.
Few seconds of silence passed before the boy softly muttered a reply, "Kim Wonshik."
He looked up at the man next to him, "How did you know, uncle Chanyeol?"
"I just do... There is a Kim Wonshik in every place, you know."
"Was there one for you too, uncle Chanyeol?" Minjae's eyes were wide and curious, Chanyeol chuckled, "Yup."
"How did you make him stop?"
"You just ignore them. If you don't react they get bored and stop. You should talk to Bae--"
"I don't want daddy to know!" Minjae shook his head violently,
"He will be worried and annoying and he won't get any sleep again."
Chanyeol frowned, again?
"What do you mean?"
"Daddy doesn't sleep when he's worried and then he gets sick and tired and...I just don't want him to know." The boy murmured, looking down sadly.
Chanyeol sighed, crouching to the boy's eye-level.
"Let's do this then, I won't tell your father anything, but you have to promise me that if anything happens, you tell uncle Chanyeol, and uncle Chanyeol will scare all annoying big boys away, deal?" He put his pinky out for the boy, who reached it with his own,
Chanyeol ruffled his hair, "Good boy, now let's catch our bus home, shall we?"
The boy fell asleep on his on the bus, and Chanyeol couldn't help but smile fondly at the sight, he was making quiet noises, like a puppy. Like Baekhyun.
"Your wife must be happy," An old lady in front of them spoke and Chanyeol looked up, confused.
"How old is he?"
"Oh! That's... he's not mine, just...babysitting. He's 5. "
The old lady just smiled to herself before the bus stopped and she got off, leaving Chanyeol slightly confused.
He looked out of the window, to the streets of Seoul, full with people, everybody hurrying somewhere, rushing to catch their bus, their train, running late to work, rushing back home.
It was getting dark.
Something caught his eye as the bus stopped at the red light.
Chanyeol frowned, concentrating on the familiar figure who seemed to be hiding at the alley between some restaurant and a hats botique.
In front of Jongin, was standing a shorter man, with a cap and a mask on his face, was that... his mysterious girlfriend? Except, it was more of a boyfriend than a girlfriend then...and Jongin has never been too clear about who exactly he's been dating for the past few years, even if they all knew he was certainly dating someone, quite steadily too.
The bus was just starting to move when Jongin took off the man's mask slowly, and Chanyeol's eyes widened.
Half hidden by the shadows of the tall buildings on the darkening alley, in front of his co-worker, was standing no other than Do Kyungsoo.
Could it even be...? But it had to be. Chanyeol knew what Kyungsoo looked like, hell Chanyeol knew Kyungsoo quite well, being Baekhyun's other best friend, he met him back in college, before he even got close to Baekhyun, and even recently, working in the industry, he has done quite few commercials with the other man throughout the years after being promoted.
How...did that even...? Did Baekhyun know? Why didn't he say anything? Why didn't Jongin ever--well.
He shook his head as the bus kept going. If Jongin wanted him, any of them, to know, he'd tell eventually. He was just surprised any paparazzi hasn't caught them yet.
Then again, while still popular, considering his age and how many years he's been in the industry, Kyungsoo probably knew how to play his way around those as well.
"How did you know?" Minjae murmured few minutes later, when it was their turn to get off.
"What?" Chanyeol blinked down at him, confused.
"That I will be 5 next week? Did Daddy tell you? He said we'll have a party. Would you come to my party uncle Chanyeol?" The boy was looking up at him with pleading eyes, he looked so much like Baekhyun.
"Sure." Chanyeol smiled, taking his hand as they made their way on the street.
"Wow, he's exhausted, what did you do to him?" Baekhyun whispered after closing the door to Minjae's bedroom, making his way to the couch, where Chanyeol was seated, a photo album on his lap.
"We had fun." The younger man grinned, making his friend laugh,
"I see you kept yourself entertained while I was gone?" Baekhyun looked down to the album,
"Well, you have some very questionable photos you're keeping here Byun Baekhyun." Chanyeol flipped the page as he spoke,
"Why would you even keep these?"
"Why not? I look cute here!" He pointed to one of the photos that had him wearing bunny ears, kissing Chanyeol's cheek while the other seemed like he was going out of his mind, eyes wide in shock.
"I don't even know what you were so shocked about here,"
"I think it had something to do with your hand on my butt," Chanyeol frowned, it wasn't visible on the photo but despite being quite drunk that night at that Halloween party, he did remember that tiny detail.
"You mean your non-existent butt? I was just being in character, you know,"
"Character my ass you just wanted in my pants."
"That too." They broke into hushed laughter.
"So...what's up? How did the meeting go?" Chanyeol asked once they calmed down,
"It was fine. They said he's very smart for his age. Makes me kind of feel proud... you know? But then there's also..." Baekhyun took a deep breath,
"You know how it is with new environments, the teacher said she's keeping an eye on him, but you know how that works. I'm worried." He sighed,
"I don't want him to go through what I had to... I mean... even our old neighborhood... I prepared for it, you know, I've read the books, I've listened to lectures, everything but nothing, nothing Yeol, can prepare you for the moment your son comes up to you, crying because some idiot called him names I don't even want to repeat. I don't want him to have to go through this again..."
There was nothing Chanyeol wanted to do more than make the sadness in Baekhyun's eyes go and never come back.
"He's going to be alright, you know... he has the best father ever." He really didn't mean for Baekhyun to break into tears at that, shoulders shaking as he covered his face in his hands.
"Baek..." The younger man whispered, slowly gathering his best friend in his arms, just like he used to do before... last time he did that, Baekhyun was about to leave to Bucheon...
"I missed you." Baekhyun whispered after a few long minutes of silence save for his soft sobs.
I missed you too... you don't even realize how much...
Chanyeol wanted to reply but instead he just tightened his hold on the smaller man, feeling his body finally relaxing against his chest.
He didn't know how long they stayed this way, but it wasn't until they heard Minjae's voice calling for Baekhyun, that he let go.
"I...have to go in there." Baekhyun stuttered, whipping his eyes from the remains of tears,
"I should probably head home now, it's getting late." Chanyeol stood up as well, clearing his throat, ears turning red as he realized what just happened.
"Chanyeol..." Baekhyun started, looking up at him as if he wasn't sure what he wanted to say,
"Thanks for today. Really. Thank you."
Chanyeol smiled at him, "Any time Baek, that's what friends are for, right? Now go before the monster under his bed gets out! I'll talk to you tomorrow," and Baekhyun made a face at that.
"Good night, Chanyeol." He said before making his way to his son's room.