Title: Where there is Light, the Warmth will Follow
Word Counts: 9035
Side Pairing(s): none
Disclaimer:The celebrities' names/images are merely borrowed and do not represent who the celebrities are in real life. No offense is intended towards them, their families or friends. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this fictional work. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: College is supposed to be experimental. For Baekhyun and Chanyeol, throw in some newly acquired elemental powers, a mysterious organization of weird guys in black cloaks, and complicated feelings, and all they can do is hope to stay right side up.
Author's Note: This is my first fic exchange, and it was a lot harder than I imagined! This isn’t something I would have ever thought to write myself, so thanks for the challenge. I really hope you all enjoy my story ;; especially you, rainscaped!
There's something about sound that intrigues Baekhyun. On his way to class, if he's not pounding loud music in his ears through his tiny earbuds, he finds himself absorbing the sounds around him - the sound of gravel crunching under his feet, the sound of a pebble skittering across the cement after he kicks it, or even the sound of raindrops hitting his umbrella on a rainy day. Baekhyun revels in the small, organic sounds, listening to them as if they were the heightened sound effects to his life. Between being deaf and blind, Baekhyun would easily pick blind, unable to grasp even the thought of life's noises being barred from his ears.
One thing he does not enjoy listening to however, is the sound of Park Chanyeol. More specifically, the sound of Park Chanyeol screaming.
The door to Baekhyun's dorm flew open with a whoosh, the door knob slamming the wall for the umpteenth time despite Junmyeon, the resident assistant, constantly berating him for doing so. Baekhyun hoped he wouldn't notice.
"BAEKHYUN," Chanyeol yelled as he burst through the entrance. "You're never going to believe this!!"
"Chanyeol," Baekhyun sighed, bringing both hands to his face and sliding them down slowly, as if peeling the stress away. "How many times have I told you to just open the door like a normal person?"
"But Baek, THIS IS IMPORTANT," Chanyeol emphasized, flying into the room. The door swung closed behind him and Chanyeol situated himself on the bed with Baekhyun, who sat criss-crossed at the head with his physics textbook and notes laid out in front of him. A few pieces of paper fluttered to the floor when Chanyeol plopped down, the mattress dipping to give way for his weight.
"What is?" Baekhyun asked as he leaned over the side of the bed to retrieve the lecture notes from Thursday.
"Watch!" Chanyeol exclaimed, grabbing the piece of paper nearest to him.
"Hey, that's my -" Baekhyun started, only to be interrupted by a flicker of red sparking from Chanyeol's fingertips. Wait, was that...? A couple of grunts later, Chanyeol produced a full on flame in the palm of his hand. It burned prettily in front of Baekhyun's eyes, at least he thought so until the edge of his paper caught the bright orange-yellow flare, setting it ablaze. "Chanyeol!!"
"It's cool right?" Chanyeol asked excitedly, an open-mouthed smile spread wide across his face with the warm colors of the flames reflecting in his eyes. Baekhyun could see the intense hues trapped in Chanyeol's brown orbs and he stared into them, muttering a quiet "My homework.." as he watched an hour's worth of work burn away to ashes.
"Wait.. How the hell are you doing this?!" Baekhyun finally realized that something was amiss when Chanyeol fucking generated fire from out of nowhere.
"I don't know!" Chanyeol chimed.
"How can you not know?!" To say Baekhyun was confused would be an understatement.
"Okay well," Chanyeol started. “I was hanging out in front of the fountain - you know, the big one in the middle of campus.”
“Yes Chanyeol, everyone knows The Fountain. So what?”
“This strange guy in a cloak approached me - I mean like really strange,” Chanyeol explained. “He was super short too.”
“Did you see who he was?” Baekhyun asked, already having forgotten about his lost homework.
“Nope,” Chanyeol said. “His face was covered because he had his hood on.”
“Wait, don’t you think this is weird? You’re talking about it as if it’s no big deal…”
“I mean yeah, but… FIRE.”
Baekhyun didn’t have a response to that, so he settled for a sigh and a slouch, leaning back into his pillow.
“So anyway, he gave me this thing,” Chanyeol fished around in his pocket and brandished a shiny silver ring in the shape of a phoenix. “Look!”
“What is this?” Baekhyun questioned as he examined the object between Chanyeol’s fingers.
“I have no idea!” Chanyeol exclaimed, smile still plastered on his face. Sometimes Baekhyun thinks Chanyeol’s face gets stuck like that. Or maybe he’d just like to think that since he can’t understand why anyone would contort their face in such a way willingly, let alone for the amounts of time Park Chanyeol can do it.
“The weird, short guy had one too,” Chanyeol explained.
“Just like this?”
“Nah, his was different. It kinda looked like a… hmmm,” Chanyeol pondered for a moment while he tried to figure out how to describe it. “It kinda looked like a beast with a monobrow and vampire teeth,” he finally settled on. Baekhyun raised an eyebrow at him.
Intrigued, Baekhyun slid the ring onto his own slender finger, examining it more closely. He made meticulous gestures with his hands, concentrating heavily on his palms. With no success, he switched to snapping his fingers then to wiggling them around as if flicks of flames would fabricate just like that.
“What are you doing?” Chanyeol asked.
“I don’t get it,” Baekhyun replied. “What’s this ring even good for? Why can’t I make fire like you?”
“Cause you’re not special like me,” Chanyeol teased. His eyes lit up to go along with his gigantic grin, and he just looked so proud of himself for taunting his best friend. Not that that was much of an accomplishment, considering Chanyeol makes fun of Baekhyun’s lacking height on an almost hourly basis.
“Oh you’re special all right,” Baekhyun retorted, eye roll and everything.
“Yah!” Chanyeol squeaked. His pride suffered a considerable blow with just those five words. What Baekhyun lacked in height, he made up for in wit. Though this wasn’t one of Baekhyun’s better comebacks, it was still effective, packed with just the right amount of punch to quiet Chanyeol down. Baekhyun smirked, his lips twitching up the notch that Chanyeol’s smile fell.
“So what are you gonna do now?” Baekhyun changed the subject and returned the ring back to Chanyeol, who promptly dropped it back into the depths of his jeans pocket.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, hey, you can make fire now. Like… What are you gonna do… with it?”
“Hmm.. Well.. I don’t know,” Chanyeol responded. He took to biting his lip, which Baekhyun knew meant he was in deep thought. “Maybe I’ll drop out of school and become a superhero!”
“You’re only saying that because you have an exam tomorrow that you haven’t studied for,” Baekhyun quipped, and his mind immediately dwelled on his burned up homework. “Ahh dammit…” he muttered under his breath. After a visible display of dejection, Baekhyun fetched a second piece of paper from his backpack to start the assignment all over again.
“Come on,” Baekhyun beckoned to Chanyeol. “You can study here if you want. Sehun’s not here right now so use his bed or desk or whatever.”
Chanyeol’s lips were jutted out in a pouty fashion and his cheeks were puffed up without him even realizing it. When Baekhyun looked up to the sight, he huffed, using his head to gesture over to Sehun’s side of the room and prompt the younger boy to get to work. It was really hard for Baekhyun to look at Chanyeol when his face was like that, simply because he looked so ridiculous. And maybe also because it made his best friend look really cute and Baekhyun doesn’t think that best friends should look so cute. Especially not when it causes his heart to flutter slightly and feel all light and fluffy.
Baekhyun shook his head in a violent twitch, shaking the thoughts from his head like a puppy shakes water from its fur. Not now, Baekhyun, he thought to himself. Now is time for physics. PHYSICS. Not Chanyeol.
“Yah, Baek,” Chanyeol called, now situated on Baekhyun’s roommate’s bed.
“Can I borrow a pen?”
“Oh uh, sure.”
“Chanyeol was on my bed,” Sehun groaned as he threw the covers back before climbing onto the mattress.
“How do you know?” Baekhyun asked. He zipped up his pencil case and tossed it into his backpack, finishing the last of his homework just in time for Sehun to turn the lights out for bed.
“Please,” Sehun responded. “No one else makes a bigger mess than Chanyeol from eating a freakin’ sandwich,” he complained, shaking his blanket out to find loose crumbs flying off and sprinkling onto the floor. Looking at the crumbs on the carpet, Sehun sighed and resolved to clean it later in exchange for crawling into bed and wrapping up warm and snug.
“Oh,” was all Baekhyun had to say.
“Next time, I’ll kill you both,” Sehun intoned. Not a shred of hesitation was to be found in his voice, and even though his back faced Baekhyun, Baekhyun could see the stone-cold expression flat on Sehun’s face.
“Sorry…” Baekhyun mumbled. He dropped his textbooks to the floor and snuggled into his own blanket. All that work made Baekhyun tired, and since Sehun already turned the lights out, he decided he should probably just go to sleep. He had a 9 am class tomorrow anyway, and it was already pretty late. “Good night,” he wished his roommate, though he was met with no reply except that of a quiet snore, catching in Sehun’s throat. Baekhyun knew it was only a matter of time until Sehun’s calm purring turned into loud and dramatic snores, so he quickly closed his eyes and settled into the comforter, hoping sleep would take him soon.
In fact, Baekhyun passed out relatively quickly, falling into the blackness of unconsciousness pretty much instantly. But Baekhyun could only fall for so long, and he’d have to hit the ground eventually. When he did, it felt really jarring, and slightly like soft hands brushing against one another and cold metal pressing against his right middle finger.
When his eyes finally adjusted, Baekhyun saw a figure looming over him who was indeed holding his right hand. It felt so surreal. Is this actually happening? Eyebrows knitted together, Baekhyun blinked away the delusion to realize there really was a stranger hovering over him. In the darkness it was hard to see much of anything, but Baekhyun could see the outline of his crazily spiked hair in the shadows and his smile seemed so radiant it was gleaming, as he could see the other guy’s pearly white teeth maybe more clearly than he probably should.
Actually, the stranger’s eyes were smooth and chocolatey, and he had toasted brown skin. He also wore a dark colored cloak, which Baekhyun thought was a little creepy. Wait, how did it become bright enough in here for me to -- What? Before Baekhyun could process what was happening, the stranger disappeared from straight over him. Where’d he go..? Baekhyun shot up out of bed quickly and surveyed the room. He felt surprised by how well he could see everything, but the fact that he was seeing in the dark didn’t really register with him, thoughts of the mysterious intruder occupying his mind instead.
“You’re surprisingly good at this,” a deep voice spoke from across the room. Baekhyun directed his vision toward the door, where he saw the stranger leaning there casually. Good at what? “Usually first-timers are clumsy with their powers,” the guy explained. “Like your friend.. Chan-something?”
Chanyeol? How does he know Chanyeol? And first-timers…? Powers…?
Baekhyun looked down at his lap, hands dropping onto his knees. When they did, he realized just how bright they were. Oh. No wonder he could see in the dark. Because he was emitting light from his palms. Wait. He was emitting light from his fucking palms.
“OH MY GOD,” Baekhyun screamed. He looked up at the door to find that the stranger was gone. Holding his hand up like a torch, Baekhyun searched the small dorm for any trace of him, but he was nowhere to be found. The light lost some of its intensity in Baekhyun’s palms as anxiety settled in. Where did he -
“Have fun,” the guy said smugly, materializing out of thin air right before Baekhyun's eyes.
The last thing Baekhyun saw was a sly grin accompanied by a low chuckle before the shadowy figure poofed out of the room for good. Everything after that was a blur of bright lights, Baekhyun's own screaming in broken dialect, and a solid smack in the head - courtesy of disgruntled roommate Oh Sehun.
“CHANYEOL,” Baekhyun shouted his friend’s name and hopped off the bench he had been sitting on for the past twenty minutes waiting for Chanyeol’s class to let out. The taller boy’s head cocked up from his phone screen at the sound of Baekhyun’s shrill voice and he looked at him with wide eyes.
“Hey Baek - yah!”
“Come with me,” Baekhyun commanded, grabbing Chanyeol by the wrist and more or less dragging him outside.
“Where are we -”
Chanyeol couldn’t understand Baekhyun’s strange behavior. Between the two of them, he always considered himself the strange one. Chanyeol decided it best to just go with the flow, so he stuffed his phone into the back pocket of his gray stone-washed jeans and kept pace to follow his surprisingly quick friend shuffling across the courtyard. At one point, his eyes wandered down to Baekhyun’s pretty hand holding his as it had slid down from his wrist and wrapped itself around his own. Chanyeol raised his eyebrows at the fact that they were practically holding hands and stifled a smile forming on his lips. Maybe he enjoyed it, but he would never say it out loud. Although, the fact that Baekhyun was wearing gloves surprised Chanyeol as he hadn’t noticed it until he looked down and physically saw it. But it’s spring time, Chanyeol thought, taking note of the warmer weather.
The two of them rounded the corner of a building and Chanyeol followed Baekhyun into a mini alleyway between the chemical and mechanical engineering buildings.
“What are we doing here?” Chanyeol asked now that they had finally reached their apparent destination. "You're a liberal arts major..."
“Shut up!” Baekhyun yelled somewhat frantically.
“Whoa whoa, chill out what’s your deal?” Chanyeol retorted in a switch to defensive mode. “...and why are you dressed like that?”
Now that they’d slowed down, Chanyeol took the time to examine his distressed friend and realized he didn’t look like Baekhyun at all. Wow how did I not even notice? Chanyeol thought. Even though Baekhyun usually wore eyeliner, he never puts it on that thick. And what was with the all black? Every piece of clothing Baekhyun wore was colored black, from the gloves to the weird and sketchy looking coat, and to the shoes Baekhyun borrowed from Sehun without asking.
“Because,” Baekhyun responded. Chanyeol couldn’t be entirely sure, but he’s pretty sure he heard Baekhyun’s voice crack. Though the latter played it off as if nothing happened, attempting to continue with his explanation.
“You look like a vampire from a vampire movie hah,” Chanyeol giggled.
“Ugh, I had to dress this way okay?” Baekhyun defended, delicately pulling the gloves off finger by finger.
“BECAUSE,” Baekhyun emphasized, trying to slide his left hand out of the glove. “This!!”
“OH YOU GOT ONE TOO?!” Chanyeol exclaimed in excitement when he saw Baekhyun’s shiny silver ring on his slender finger. “It’s so pretty!”
“No!! It’s not pretty! It’s a curse Chanyeol! A CUUURSEEE,” Baekhyun cried. He placed both hands on Chanyeol’s chest in exasperation, burying his head into his taller friend’s chest. “Why did this have to happen to me.. This is all your fault,” his muffled voice spoke. Chanyeol could feel the sound of Baekhyun’s voice traveling up to his ears, crawling up his chest, over his collarbones, and slithering up his neck until it teased his ear lobe. It made Chanyeol shiver a bit, but he soaked in the sweet sound despite the fact that the words were against him.
Ignoring the content of Baekhyun’s speech, Chanyeol grabbed the hand wearing Baekhyun’s ring and brought it up from his chest to study the symbol given to Baekhyun. Looking at it, Chanyeol thought it kind of looked like a really pointy star.
“Man, what kind of power did you get to make you dress so ridiculously dark?” Chanyeol teased, though immediately regretted it when Baekhyun shone his light intensely brightly right in Chanyeol’s face. “Aghh! Okay, okay turn it off!!” While staying deeply buried in Chanyeol’s chest, Baekhyun closed his fist, confining the shine back into his palm until it dissipated away.
“It’s lame,” Baekhyun mumbled.
“I mean hey,” Chanyeol said. “You can always uh… blind… people?” he suggested, though he knew right away just how much of a fail response that was. “Yeah sorry... “ he apologized. “It’s not lame though!”
“It kind of is,” a third voice chimed in, garnering the attention of both boys. At this point, Baekhyun was desperately fisting the cloth of Chanyeol's shirt and the two stared dumbly at the stranger swiftly approaching them. He was about Baekhyun's height and had somewhat cat-like eyes.
Baekhyun could call his own power lame, but if he was going to be stuck with it, he wasn't about to stand here and take some verbal abuse from yet another cloaked stranger.
"Yah," Baekhyun sputtered as firmly as he could manage. Though between the confusion and the disappointment and whatever else Baekhyun was feeling, he probably sounded like a squawking parrot. "I'll blind you!" he threatened while raising an uncovered hand, generating an orb of light as shiny as a crystal ball. "Ow!" Baekhyun shouted. As quickly as he had created it, his bright light ceased at the feeling of an electric buzz tingling all through his hand.
"Yeah, save it," the outsider brushed. "Such an amateur," he scoffed.
As he came closer, he brandished two fancy looked envelopes, complete with a black seal stamped with "EXO." Chanyeol and Baekhyun stared at them blankly, unable to justify why in the hell this sassy jerk would be inviting them to something.
"When someone offers you something, you take it," the cloaked guy explained. The two boys were apparently too dumbfounded to catch the stinging sarcasm, and the stranger just smirked, offering up the letters once more.
Chanyeol reached first, grabbing both his and Baekhyun's, who was still sulking over his useless power and electrocuted hand.
"I'll just read it out loud," Chanyeol offered. He popped the seal off to reveal a fancy parchment card with an intricate red, metallic border and black, glossy inked writing. "Man are you guys a student org? What kind of org can afford this kinda thing? EXO? What is this like a frat? This is some weird rush -"
"Just read it, giraffe boy," the intruder said, cutting off Chanyeol's endless stream of questions without so much as a glance. He just continued examining his nails with a disinterested look.
"Giraffe boy...?" Chanyeol muttered.
"What's it say, Yeol?" Baekhyun questioned, having returned to reality after falling into curiosity from Chanyeol's intrigue to the elegance of the letters.
"Oh right," Chanyeol said, directing his eyes to the card to begin reading.
"Your presence is required for the initiation ceremony of the EXO Secret Society. The ceremony will take place on the eve of May the sixth - Hey Baek, that’s your birthday!” Chanyeol chimed happily, interrupting his own reading.
“Great,” Baekhyun responded. Chanyeol detected a slight hint of dejection in his voice and his expression fell slightly upon hearing it. He asked the question with a look that Baekhyun promptly answered, even though he didn’t actually see the look on Chanyeol’s face. “I absolutely want to spend my birthday at some weird cult initiation,” Baekhyun sassed.
The stranger laughed at Baekhyun’s comment, nonchalantly shooting little lightning bolts down at Baekhyun’s feet, catching Baekhyun off guard.
“Yah!!” Baekhyun screamed as he hopped between feet to dodge the electrifying shocks. “What are you doing?!!”
“Oh there’s more where that came from,” the stranger threatened. After he was done making Baekhyun dance, he pulled his hand up, fingers curled in and only his thumb and pointer sticking out - like a gun. He blew the tip of his pointer as if it were a smoking barrel, much to Baekhyun’s discontent. Chanyeol stared at the stranger, eyes flitting between him and Baekhyun, mouth agape, unaware of what exactly just happened. With a pouty lip, Baekhyun huffed in attempts to shrug off the unappreciated antics.
“Well, guess I’ll see you guys at the initiation,” the mysterious guy said, already walking away from the pair.
“Wait! But! Uh,” Chanyeol called after him. His heavy voice prompted the stranger to stop for a few short seconds, ears perking up. He didn’t bother to turn around, which made Chanyeol feel slightly uncomfortable, but he pressed forward nonetheless. “What are we, uh, supposed to wear?”
“What!” Baekhyun shrieked. “We’re not going Chanyeol!!!”
“You better go,” the stranger remarked, spinning around on his heels to face the two friends once again. By now, he had his hands stuffed into his pockets and he gazed at them through the fringe of his light brown hair.
“Will we be in trouble if we don’t?” Chanyeol asked in earnest. Baekhyun was caught between calling the guy’s bluff and trying to fathom what they could possibly do to him.
“Something like that,” the nameless man replied.
“Wait -” Baekhyun interjected only to be met with another shock from the other guy. This time, it was a warm buzzing feeling that reverberated in his bones. It hurt. A lot. “Agh!”
“See ya!” was the last thing Baekhyun and Chanyeol heard from the guy, who disappeared as soon as he turned the corner.
“Hey, Sehun said he’s staying the night at his friend’s place tonight, so you can sleep here if you want,” Baekhyun announced to Chanyeol in the midst of replying to his roommate. “I won’t tell him though… so I might have to kick you out at like 6 in the morning or something.”
“Okay,” Chanyeol acknowledged, though very distractedly as he fumbled with the invitations they had received earlier. They sucked away all his attention actually because he had none left to attest to the early morning boot he’ll probably receive. As far as Chanyeol was concerned, he was always, and will always plan to be, dead to the world at that god awful hour.
The graininess of the parchment paper soothed the pads of Chanyeol’s fingertips as he slid the card in between in his pointer and thumb, thoroughly examining the intricacy of the invite. Despite Sehun’s threats, Chanyeol was once again atop the younger’s bed, sitting cross-legged and reading the invitation over and over. Every so often, Baekhyun would look over to check on him, his thoughts ranging from Why does Chanyeol look so dumb with his legs folded all over the place… aish and Why does Chanyeol look so cute ugh. When Baekhyun caught himself thinking the latter, it’s usually after he’s let his eyes wander all across Chanyeol’s body and he rests his gaze on Chanyeol’s soft-looking lips. The realization never fails to startle him and he jerks from the surprise every time.
As he went to replace the letter in the envelope, Chanyeol noticed another page, neatly folded and stuck inside. His eyebrows twitched up in surprise, caught off guard by the fact that he didn’t notice it before. When he pulled it out, he saw that the paper was nowhere near as thick or nice as the invitation paper, but it was still written in the same glossy ink. Chanyeol carefully unfolded it to view its contents and skim over it before he inevitably tells Baekhyun about it.
“Baek,” Chanyeol called, eyes scanning back and forth across the page. Baekhyun, who had deviated from watching a political science lecture to scrolling pictures online, looked up nonchalantly, more or less scraping his eyes off the adorable puppy that appeared on his screen to look up at the giant puppy sitting across the room.
“What?” he asked.
“It looks like this secret society thing is actually legit,” Chanyeol explained.
“You mean they’re not just a bunch of freaks in cloaks?” Baekhyun replied. His words were coated in such a thick layer of sarcasm that Chanyeol found it difficult to distinguish between the facetiousness and the seriousness, if there ever was any.
“Well.. They better not be, cause that’s gonna be us.”
“Like hell it is,” Baekhyun scoffed. “What makes you think I’m actually gonna join that cult?”
“This paper,” Chanyeol stated.
“Well you can just burn it with your fancy fire power.”
“I don’t think that’s going to change anything…”
“You’re not really serious, are you Yeol?” Baekhyun said. A pressure began building in his chest, and Baekhyun tried to compress it as much as possible. He didn’t think Chanyeol was being dumb per se, but he really couldn’t understand what was causing him to be so adamant about the whole thing. Although, this is the same Chanyeol who takes every flyer given to him on campus and signs up for just about any email list, whether free snacks were available or not. Sighing, Baekhyun flopped on the bed and decided just to listen to what Chanyeol had to say because he was going to tell him anyway.
“I am now,” Chanyeol responded. “They even have a list of rules and guidelines for us!”
“Yeah, yeah - check it out!” Chanyeol cleared his throat to once again read Baekhyun the contents of the documents sent to them.
“As a pledging member of the EXO Secret Society, you are bound by the governing laws of the organization,” Chanyeol read. “All members must heed to their sworn secrecy, concealing their powers from unknowing citizens under any and all circumstances. Unspeakable consequences are reserved for those who fail to meet this requirement. - Wow, they really like to speak formally in these things,” Chanyeol interrupted, breaking the steadfast character he’d adopted for the reading.
“That’s not so bad,” Baekhyun admitted. “It’s not like I wanted people to know of my dumb ass blinding powers anyway,” he mumbled.
“There’s more,” Chanyeol continued, skimming the rest of the content. “There’s nothing really outstanding though. Just basically we have to keep our rings on our person at all times, blah blah blah.. No using our powers in plain sight.. obviously.”
While Chanyeol continued reviewing the rules, Baekhyun sat quietly and offered forth what little of his attention span he had left.
“Oh, this rule is interesting,” Chanyeol said. A few seconds later, and no response from Baekhyun, Chanyeol looked up to see his best friend dozing off on his bed, head drooping every time his cheek slid off his supporting fist. “Yah.”
With no luck, Chanyeol threw one of Sehun’s pillows at Baekhyun, causing the older to jerk awake and almost fall off the bed.
“What?! What!” The syllables left Baekhyun’s lips reflexively in his attempts to recover from Chanyeol’s surprise attack.
“LISTEN,” Chanyeol demanded, to which Baekhyun made a face at him and huffed in compliance after.
“Alright, I’m listening.”
“Okay, this is really weird,” Chanyeol prefaced. “It says: A companion is assigned to you when you receive your elemental powers. As a member of the EXO Secret Society, you must pledge to protect your companion at all times. You are not only responsible for yourself, but for your companion. To them, it is if you owe them your life,” the letter explained.
“So, does that mean we’re companions?” Baekhyun asked.
“WAIT,” Chanyeol blurted. His head flicked up immediately, and his eyes found Baekhyun’s in a matter of seconds. When Baekhyun looked into Chanyeol’s large brown orbs, he could see the panic swirling around inside them.
“What?” Baekhyun asked.
“I SHOWED YOU MY POWERS.”
“SO! What do you think they’re going to do to me??? Oh god, oh god, I screwed up already and we haven’t even been initiated yet!!”
“I’m sure if they were gonna do anything to you, that weird guy in the alley earlier would’ve done it then,” Baekhyun half-heartedly reassured (and to be honest, Chanyeol wasn’t entirely sure just how reassuring that was.)
“Just go to sleep, Yeol,” Baekhyun suggested, giving up on political science until tomorrow. “Do you want me to make my hands all glowy for you? To ward off the weird guys in the cloaks in the darkness?” he teased as he flipped off the light switch.
“Um, yes please,” Chanyeol requested in his smallest voice.
“PLEASE BAEK I DON’T WANNA DIE,” Chanyeol pleaded. “I’m begging youuuuu.” At this point, Chanyeol’s puppy dog face was more than Baekhyun could handle, so he surrendered with a sigh and shaped up a soft white glow in his palm, soaking the room in the light. After Chanyeol’s eyes adjusted, the harsh blackness softened into a navy blue, giving definition to the edges of the objects in the room.
“There,” Baekhyun said. “Happy?”
“Thanks…” Chanyeol replied, sinking underneath Sehun’s covers. He made certain to set Sehun’s stuffed doll, Pinku Pinku, to the side because although Chanyeol was daring enough to sleep in his bed, there was no such braveness to so much as touch Pinku Pinku.
“Night, Chan chan.”
Baekhyun found the following week just as hectic, rushing between the liberal arts building to his job in the IT center across campus to the library for study groups almost every day. By Wednesday, he’d ditched wearing his gloves because he realized he was just too busy to worry about his powers.
Chanyeol, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck, falling apart more and more each day. Unlike Baekhyun, Chanyeol didn’t work, so he usually filled his free time with swimming at the gym or studying in the mathematics library. To make matters worse, he didn’t really have any friends outside of Baekhyun, so he was used to being alone. Which was fine when he didn’t have the heavy burden of a mysterious organization on the forefront of his mind. They were probably plotting out what “unspeakable consequences” they could punish him with, and Chanyeol squirmed at the thought.
The anxiety was so bad that when Chanyeol dozed off in class and accidentally let a spark fly from his fingertip, he quickly shoved his hand into his pants in attempts to hide the evidence. It would have been fine if Chanyeol didn’t freak out and become flustered though, and it didn’t really help that some of his classmates were staring at him for having blatantly stuffed his hand in the front of his pants. He also didn’t think that the warm, borderline hot, sensation he felt down there was normal, and he may or may not have let out a high-pitched squeak when his crotch was probably literally on fire. Clumsily kicking himself back, the legs of his chair screeched on the tile and Chanyeol quickly excused himself from the lecture hall and ditched the rest of class. That was Monday. He was too embarrassed to return for Wednesday class, so he skipped and struggled through a 40-page chapter to make up for it.
When Friday finally rolled around, Chanyeol felt torn as to whether he should feel excited and relieved or apprehensive as fuck. Apart from it being Baekhyun’s birthday, the two of them had to attend the EXO initiation together. As far as Chanyeol could tell, Baekhyun still wasn’t that keen on going, but he was too scared to risk letting Baekhyun skip. It frustrated Chanyeol that this was even something worrying him because he really wanted to focus on Baekhyun and making his birthday special. He may or may not have been considering taking his best friend out for a nice dinner where he may or may not casually drop that he likes him more than just a friend, but with a brain as frazzled as Chanyeol’s, those thoughts had a hard time lifting off, leaving them as strands of inspiration twirled with gut-wrenching nerves. Chanyeol thinks he must have a strong stomach if he can house the nerves of liking Baekhyun atop the fear for his life.
“Happy birthday,” Chanyeol greeted, presenting Baekhyun with a new eyeliner pencil. He personally hand-picked it, choosing a slick black color that had a leathery sheen to it.
“For me?” Baekhyun asked.
“Duh,” Chanyeol replied. “I know it’s not much, but I thought you’d like it. That’s an expensive brand you know!” Chanyeol talked about it as if he knew what he was talking about, but in actuality, he spent over an hour in the cosmetics shop with his older sister on the phone, carefully directing him on how to choose the proper color and style for Baekhyun.
“Thanks!” Baekhyun chirped. The smaller boy bounced happily, striding to Chanyeol and enveloping him in a warm hug. There was no way Chanyeol could suppress the smile on his lips and he rested his chin on top of Baekhyun’s head as he squeezed him back in return. For that brief moment, neither of them remembered the initiation that loomed ahead and instead enjoyed each other’s touch and company.
But the moment was only that - a moment. Soon, Chanyeol came crashing down from his high with the reality of initiation sending him hurdling through the air, each second bringing him closer to impact. In attempts to face it head on, Chanyeol cleared his throat and used the eyeliner as a segue into the scary subject.
“So,” Chanyeol began. “I was thinking maybe you could wear it to the initiation tonight?” When the “t” at the end of the word rolled off his tongue, Chanyeol promptly looked up at Baekhyun, eyes expectant and full of wonder. Baekhyun proceeded to twirl the eyeliner between his fingers and took a pause before answering Chanyeol.
With much anticipation, Chanyeol imagined all the ways Baekhyun might react and summoned the mental list of responses he had prepared while laying in bed all night long.
“Yeah… I can do that,” Baekhyun agreed. “It matches all the black I’ve been wearing, ha.”
The response took Chanyeol by surprise. He had geared up for the defensive, ready to take on any negative or abrasive reactions he thought Baekhyun would definitely have. Such a subdued answer left Chanyeol blubbering, struggling to find the right way up to get some air.
“Oh uh well, uh… okay, great,” Chanyeol managed. Smooth.
“Yeah, I just figured, you know, better to just go and get it over with,” Baekhyun lied. Although suspicious, Chanyeol merely accepted the notion with a nod. “Shall we get ready then?” Baekhyun asked, eliciting another nod from his best friend.
“Are you sure this is the place?” Baekhyun asked in a hushed voice. The lack of lighting made the black-clad boy very skeptic of the venue. On top of that, the building looked a lot older than the other buildings around campus, and although Baekhyun was no connoisseur of architecture, he didn’t need to be to recognize how different the style of this place was compared to other places. He knew their university was old, but he felt something was amiss about this particular place. On the outskirts of the school, Baekhyun was caught between whether the building was another campus building or more like a house or dormitory. With a driveway though, Baekhyun leaned more toward some kind of residence. After all, Chanyeol did call EXO a frat.
In the center of the driveway was a giant, twisted tree, painted black by the shadows. From what the two boys could tell, shiny metal ornaments adorned the tree and hung from the branches. Huge tufts of leaves bunched at the branches and seemed to be contained by gold lining, perhaps reflecting some other colors as well. It was hard to tell without the light. A slight breeze rustled the leaves and stirred the ornaments, which tinkled like a wind chime.
“Hey Baek, look!” Chanyeol called out. He pointed to the trunk of the tree, fingers running over deep carvings in the wood.
“What is it?”
Following the drawings, Baekhyun’s eyes skimmed over each symbol. He counted twelve of them, noticing the symbols on his and Chanyeol’s rings at the end. “Look, it’s us!” He shouted.
“Whoa, it is!” Chanyeol said in his deep, booming voice. “Oh and look!” he pointed to the symbol he had described to Baekhyun on the first night of having his power. The scorpion symbol of the lightning guy also caught his attention, but when he pointed it out to Baekhyun, the smaller instinctively winced, as if he could feel the shock traveling through his veins again.
“Ugh,” Baekhyun scoffed. “We should go inside now.”
There was no reason for Chanyeol to disagree, and he nodded at Baekhyun’s words. Timidly, the taller boy slipped his hand through the loop of Baekhyun’s arm, loosely hanging on as they walked in through the rickety wooden door together. Inside, the hallways were hardly lit at all, the walls absorbing the dim orange glow of the candles mounted on the wall. Black chandeliers hung from the ceiling as well, and Baekhyun thought they looked as though someone scratched them into the scene using charcoal. They must have been ages old because Baekhyun didn’t see any places for a light fixture. At least, none that were electric. Either way, there was no light coming from them and it only served to enhance the creepiness that settled its way around them.
“Baek, this place is creepy,” Chanyeol whimpered softly.
“Well,” Baekhyun began, hiding his nervousness with sarcasm. “You were the one who wanted to come to this thing.”
“I changed my mind,” Chanyeol replied, lip jutting out and everything.
“Nope, too late for that!” Baekhyun teased. “We’re in this together.”
Well at least I have that, Chanyeol thought to himself.
The two boys approached the end of the long corridor, stopping in front of dark cherry wood double doors, an insignia of each symbol carefully etched into door. Just seeing his and Baekhyun’s symbols there made his skin crawl because if it’s there, that meant it was permanent right? There was no turning back at this point, was there?
“Well, here goes nothing,” Baekhyun offered, lightly pressing a palm onto the door. Before applying the pressure to push through, Baekhyun subtly looked up at Chanyeol as if searching for confirmation from his giant friend. Though between Chanyeol’s random shivers and occasional nail biting, Baekhyun didn’t really expect to find it anytime soon, so he took a deep breath and proceeded forward, guiding Chanyeol along with him.
“We’ve been waiting for you,” a low voice spoke from the middle of the floor. Moonlight flooded the room, illuminating the large circle engraved in the floor with more astrological nonsense decorating the circumference. Blue light bathed the six massive stones that were spaced out along the perimeter, each bearing two symbols. Surprisingly, Baekhyun’s and Chanyeol’s weren’t together like they had been before which worried the two because they wondered if that meant they would have to be separated or something. Chanyeol noticed his next to a symbol of what looked like a dragon, while Baekhyun’s was situated by a unicorn symbol. Even though a unicorn was much less threatening looking than a dragon, the thought of being apart intimidated the Baekhyun too, as told by the very slight shuffling toward Chanyeol with each passing second.
The shadows cast over the stranger in the middle, dramatizing his commanding presence. Between Chanyeol and Baekhyun, it was as if their attention could not be broken, half because they were so mesmerized by the stranger’s power, but also because they were too afraid to look around.
“Byun Baekhyun,” the man said, enunciating each syllable with crystal clarity.
“Uh, um, yes?” Baekhyun stuttered. He clutched Chanyeol’s sleeve.
“Park Chanyeol,” he said, not yet acknowledging Baekhyun’s presence.
“Y-yes?” Chanyeol muttered and he very inconspicuously bowed his head out of respect, eliciting the tiniest of smirks from Baekhyun. Seeing Chanyeol in any form of submission always tickles him because his best friend’s character is normally loud, boisterous, and uncontrollable. Although now was no time for laughter, Baekhyun at the very least appreciated even a slight emotional relief and he took a deep breath before returning to the situation at hand.
“Welcome to EXO,” the mysterious figure greeted, his arms finally rising and opening up as if inviting them to join the circle. Both Chanyeol and Baekhyun stood there like statues, submerged in awkward uncertainty and the urge to bolt right then and there. “Members!” the man called. “Come forward and greet our honored guests.”
“Honored?” Chanyeol whispered.
Before Chanyeol could question anything at all, other cloaked figures stepped out from behind the stone pillars, converging toward the middle. Baekhyun jumped toward Chanyeol in shock, who unwittingly took the smaller boy into his arms, gripping him tightly.
“Please,” the leader said above the crowd. “Greet them.”
“Welcome,” the collective voice said in perfect unison.
“Okay, that was kinda weird,” Baekhyun mumbled to Chanyeol.
“Shall we begin?” one of the shorter members asked the leader, stepping forward.
“HEY!” Chanyeol blurted. “It’s you!! The guy who gave me my fire!!”
The guy in question darted his eyes to Chanyeol and stared at him intensely. The whites of his eyes burned in the blue light, and Chanyeol mentality checked back in, realizing what he had just done.
“Oh, uh I mean… I just.. recognized you!! I’m sorry!” he apologized, hanging this head in another half-bow. Baekhyun squeezed the younger’s hand encouragingly.
“Let us proceed, great leader,” a soft voice suggested. Baekhyun saw the source of the honey-like voice was wearing the same unicorn symbol that was carved next to his light symbol. Perhaps Baekhyun didn’t have a reason to be apprehensive at all. Maybe.
“Baekhyun, Chanyeol, if you would please,” the leader requested. He swiftly moved from the middle to make way for the two boys, his cloak brushing against the ground as he stepped.
“Uhhh..” they both moaned. The last of the strained noise cut off abruptly by a borderline harsh thrust, causing the two to stumble forward to the middle of the circle.
“YAH!!” Baekhyun yelled, turning around to see none other than the cat-eyed lightning guy. One look at his laughing face, made Baekhyun’s heart sink and turned his face powder white.
“Thank you, Jongdae,” the leader expressed, approaching the two dumbfounded boys.
“Anything for you, bae,” the one called Jongdae replied carelessly.
“Don’t call me that…”
Jongdae snickered as he stepped back to let the ceremony take place and the leader merely sighed, proceeding with the process.
“You two have been specially chosen to join our secret society, EXO,” he said. “As members, you are sworn to our rules and guidelines, and to each other.”
“We are?” Chanyeol asked innocently.
“Yes. As you know, each of us have a companion,” the leader explained. “As you two are the final two members, you are also our final pair.”
“Oh,” Chanyeol nervously replied. “That’s uh, cool… ahem.” He cleared his throat in hopes of clearing the swirling thoughts in his head, but in actuality, he probably only made it worse. On the one hand, he didn’t have to be paired up with one of these other scary dudes in the room, but on the other hand, he really really REALLY liked Baekhyun and he wasn’t sure if he was ready for this and - GET IT TOGETHER CHANYEOL.
Baekhyun blinked a couple times, trying to decipher why on earth Chanyeol was mid-mental breakdown, but he breathed steadily and pretended not to notice. Surely Chanyeol wasn’t disappointed about this matchup? What did it even matter anyway? Were they really going to take this that seriously? After all, lightning guy DID just call their esteemed leader “bae.” Baekhyun did the same, clearing his throat to rid of his rampant thoughts.
The other members were unnaturally silent and still, watching the three of them intently. Even Jongdae looked like he could stay quiet for the time being, and Baekhyun really felt that as cause to worry.
“The real purpose of the initiation is the binding ceremony,” the head of the organization said.
“That sounds, uh… painful,” Baekhyun commented. The name just rubbed him the wrong way and he gulped. He noticed Chanyeol do the same when the bobbing of his Adam’s apple caught the corner of his eye. Dammit Chanyeol, now is not the time for that! Baekhyun thought. He’s always had a bit of weakness for Chanyeol and his bulging Adam’s apple.
“It’s not,” the leader assured.
“So who’s in your pair then?” Chanyeol asked.
“Jongdae, also known as Chen,” the covered man replied. “I’m so lucky..”
“That you are!” Chen sang, waving at his man. The leader only managed a sigh, before turning his attention back to Baekhyun and Chanyeol.
“When you were endowed with your powers, that was essentially your initiation into the society,” the leader explained. “But you can’t be official members until you’ve been paired with your other half. So now, we shall do so, and complete the twelve members of EXO.”
“Why twelve?” Baekhyun asked, only to be cut off by Jongdae’s sass.
“Just go with it,” Jongdae advised, which effectively shut Baekhyun up.
“Let us begin,” the leader said. The tallest member among them, the dragon guy, stepped forward and presented the shorter male with a bowl of black paint. With gentle hands, the leader took the bowl and brought it to Baekhyun first, instructing him to paint a pattern onto Chanyeol’s face. Since he was good with eyeliner, drawing on the pattern didn’t take a lot of effort from Baekhyun and his steady hands, but Chanyeol had a bit more trouble. By the end of it, Chanyeol’s face was neatly doodled with flowy lines while Baekhyun’s… wasn’t. Either way, they both looked kind of creepy, and they both struggled to look each other in the eye while keeping a straight face.
Once the two were ready, another member came forward brandishing two brand new shadowy cloaks, just for Chanyeol and Baekhyun.
“Great, we get to be freaks too,” Baekhyun said under his breath. Chanyeol’s eyes widened and he hoped none of the other members heard Baekhyun. His comment seemed to go unnoticed, but Chanyeol still poked Baekhyun in the ribs to tell him to shut up. Baekhyun giggled unintentionally because like Chanyeol always forgets, his ribcage is his tickle spot, not really his “do-as-I-say-or-I’ll-poke-you” spot. Though Baekhyun supposes it could work that way too, considering Baekhyun would rather not die of embarrassment from giggling like a small child in public.
After donning their fresh robes, the leader called forward yet another member.
“Luhan,” he called, and a smaller built guy stepped forward. He had brown shiny eyes and his hair was colored a dirty blonde color, little wisps peeking out under his hood. “Please begin.”
Luhan merely nodded, approaching the Baekhyun and Chanyeol who stood together. They both looked like total dorks with their faces painted in the way they were but they tried not to think about it.
“Baekhyun, Chanyeol,” Luhan spoke. “Please.” With hand gestures, Luhan indicated for the two to face each other and to take hands. He instructed them both to grasp palms with their right hands, forming a strong grip that couldn’t be easily broken.
“On this night of May the 6th, we witness the binding of two souls - Byun Baekhyun and Park Chanyeol,” Luhan recited, and he was met by a low hum from the rest of the people in the audience. The two boys at the center of attention squirmed a little uncomfortably, especially with all these eyes on them. “At this time, please put on your rings,” Luhan instructed, giving them a moment to do so.
“Uh, I think I forgot mine at home…” Chanyeol confessed timidly.
“Wait, what?!” Baekhyun replied. “You did?!!”
“Yeah, at your dorm,” Chanyeol said.
“I can’t believe this, Chan -” Baekhyun was cut off mid sentence by an arm in his face, the hand at the end of it brandishing a silvery phoenix ring.
“Got it,” the deep voice said with a laugh, his arm shaking from his hearty laugh right in front of Baekhyun’s face. Chanyeol took the ring with wide eyes but no questions asked, and Baekhyun exploded into a meltdown, unable comprehend how this magician over here pulled off a stunt like that.
“Teleportation,” he said. “It’s useful.”
“Thanks Kai,” Luhan nodded to the tan-skinned boy and was greeted with the flash of a smile before the boy poofed back to his spot in the circle. “Well then,” Luhan continued.
“Wait, you went into my dorm room??” Baekhyun demanded, to which Luhan asked the next question in a hurry, ignoring Baekhyun.
“Are you ready for the next step?” Luhan asked. Both Chanyeol and Baekhyun replied affirmatively, giving the Luhan the green to go. “Perfect. Each of you take your right palm. Now summon your powers. Good. You’re going to fuse your powers momentarily to represent the binding.”
In the palms of their hands, the two of them held a small flame and a little orb of light respectively. Coming closer to each other, they followed the instruction of Luhan, but there came a point when they no longer seemed to need him, as it started to feel natural. Without much direction, the two joined hands with their powers still activated, creating a really bright flame that swirled around their conjoined palms. Their lips moved, repeating the things Luhan was saying, but honestly, neither of them knew what they were saying. All they knew was that being together felt simply right.
“The binding ceremony is complete,” Luhan announced, to which everyone cheered and whooped, even some of those that usually stay pretty reserved.
“So which one of you is husband and which one of you is wife?” Jongdae asked.
“Oh right, how could forget the kiss?” Luhan asked, throwing his hands up in the air.
“Wait… We have to kiss?!” Baekhyun protested. His words made Chanyeol wince a little bit, but instead of pouting about it, he swooped in, planting a relatively passionate kiss on the older’s soft lips. Bouts of cheers ensued again and Baekhyun, who’s eyes were open at the beginning of the kiss, succumbed to Chanyeol when he realized what was happening. His heart fluttered and maybe skipped a beat or two, and just dammit Chanyeol.
“Happy birthday,” Chanyeol whispered behind a smile when he pulled away. Baekhyun’s chest felt warm and light and felt a sense of longing that he kind of wished would go away.
“Okay so giraffe boy is definitely husband,” Jongdae declared.
“But not actually,” Chanyeol said.
“No, actually,” Luhan corrected, having returned back to the outskirts of the circle.
“Wait, what do you mean?” Baekhyun prompted.
“That was a legit marriage,” Luhan said matter-of-factly, as if he was surprised they didn’t know. “I officiated it and everything. It’s legally recognized by EXO standards. Congrats.”
“WHAT?!” Chanyeol and Baekhyun screamed together.
“To tell you the truth,” the leader spoke up, coming forward. He pulled his hood down to finally reveal his face - a face quite familiar to the two.
“JUNMYEON?!!” Baekhyun exclaimed. “You’re the leader here?!”
“Yep. They call me Suho.”
One by one everyone stepped forward, revealing their faces to the boys. Surprisingly, there were a few more recognizable faces among the crowd.
“What are you doing here?!” Baekhyun demanded.
“I could ask you the same thing,” Sehun replied flatly, more or less blowing Baekhyun off. So nonchalant.
Unicorn Symbol and Dragon Symbol revealed themselves simultaneously as Lay and Kris, classmates of Baekhyun and Chanyeol. Among the rest, some were acquaintances and some were new faces, but Baekhyun and Chanyeol didn’t really care at that point, considering they had each other -- and in a whole new light apparently.
“To tell you the truth,” Junmyeon began again. “This whole thing, the initiation and all that… It was kind of a lie.”
“A lie??” Chanyeol asked. “So we’re not ACTUALLY members of EXO?”
“Oh no you are,” Junmyeon confirmed. “Just, ahh, you see… we created this all for you guys.”
“What do you mean?” Baekhyun asked.
“Because y’all are just too damn cute!” Jongdae blurted out. “Like ughhh you guys just wouldn’t date already!!”
Baekhyun felt a little taken aback by Jongdae’s reply. “But you don’t even know us,” Baekhyun reasoned.
“I don’t see your point,” Jongdae responded. Baekhyun decided not to engage in a fight because something about Jongdae still freaked him out a little.
“So let me get this straight,” Baekhyun said, addressing the crowd. “Because the few of you who know us thought Chanyeol and I should be a couple, you all got together and planned out this wedding thing and got us married??”
“Yeah, yes, basically,” voices murmured in responses. It was a pretty unanimous decision, no doubt about it.
“But what about these powers?” Chanyeol questioned. “Are these fake too…?”
“No, those are real,” Junmyeon said. “We uh… Can’t really tell you how we all got them or anything. That’s something beyond us, but yeah don’t question it! They’re pretty cool anyway.”
This was all so much for the two to handle, but they found that accepting it made it easier. Chanyeol leaned down to Baekhyun and whispered to him while everyone else was occupied with other things.
“As soon as we get out here, we can go to Plan B or something and try to figure out how to void this marriage thing,” Chanyeol comforted.
“Maybe I don’t wanna void it,” Baekhyun said, biting his lip as soon as he said it.
“You don’t?” Chanyeol verified.
“Well.. No,” Baekhyun confirmed. Now it was Chanyeol’s turn to feel all fluttery and in the clouds because if he was hearing Baekhyun properly, the latter boy was more or less confessing to him. “We can at least try it out, right?”
Giddy feelings bubbled inside Chanyeol’s chest and he smiled the widest smile Baekhyun had ever seen. The corners stretched from ear to ear and Chanyeol honestly could have never expected this.
“So you’ll be the light in my life then?” Chanyeol asked.
“Only if you promise never to make that cheesy joke again,” Baekhyun teased.