Prompt #: 114
Title: built to fall apart (then fall back together)
Word Count: 7891
Side Pairing(s) Jongin/Kyungsoo, Sehun/Luhan
Warnings: Angst, attempt at soulmates!au
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: Chanyeol and Baekhyun tire of waiting—but they never once stopped.
Author's Note: Title is from Taylor Swift’s Out of the Woods. Plus, I tried so hard to create what is expected of me from this prompt so I tried avoiding angst but I just cannot stop writing angst (no matter how much I don’t like it or even read it which is super weird). Thank you, mods and thank you everyone. I hope you like it.
“Sorry, I’m late!” Chanyeol arrives a few minutes later than expected, his uniform feeling damp and sticking to his skin after today’s sudden downpour. “Got stuck on my way here so—”
“Chanyeol hyung, meet Kyungsoo.” Jongin says, lips tugging at the corners. “He’s joining us for dinner tonight.” Kyungsoo gives a soft greeting to which Chanyeol nods at before taking his seat across him and his best friend who was glowing with happiness.
Jongin was never the smiley person, Chanyeol knew that. He was grumpy and easily irritated, especially when he lacked sleep. When Jongin felt vivacious enough, it was merely so and Chanyeol never minded. Now, however, Jongin took a 360 degree turn and this boy beside him, someone he never met or even heard of from Jongin himself, must be the reason why.
What Chanyeol could not understand though was how Jongin could easily brush his arms against another’s in a seemingly intimate way or daringly stroke pale cheeks with a look that could not be marred with anything malicious but genuine care instead?
When his eyes flash towards the dark mark on Jongin’s palm, Chanyeol nearly gasps as he finally understands why.
“When?” Chanyeol asks on the way home. Jongin’s walking calmly beside him, lithe skips in his steps, something Chanyeol never imagined would happen.
“When did you know?” Chanyeol asks. “That Kyungsoo was your Soulmate?”
“It was in June, back at the university. Kyungsoo was a transfer student.” Jongin says, arms swinging with a different kind of energy on each of his side. “Walked in the office and almost swung the door at his face. Then everything just followed.” Chanyeol snorts at that and Jongin laughs a laugh Chanyeol never had the privileged to hear until now.
“You’ve changed, Jongin.” Chanyeol says a moment later. “Changed for the better, I mean. You’re less grumpier. Happier.” Jongin chuckles and pats him on the shoulder.
“It’s so weird what everything of this does to you.” He says. “I could have never thought it would happen to myself too.”
“Congratulations, then.” Chanyeol says. “You finally have feelings.” Jongin throws a punch to his shoulder in mock defense and Chanyeol laughs.
“Wait ‘till you find yours, Yeol.” Jongin tells him. “You’re gonna be worse than ever. I’m gonna have to end our friendship once it happens because I know I can’t deal with you puking rainbows and cupcakes all the time.” Chanyeol gives him a smile and pushes his best friend towards the departing bus, and as soon as Jongin boards it, waves goodbye and the bus turns around the corner, the smile on his face immediately drops.
Chanyeol’s tried so hard every day and every day, he wakes up to see that mark on his wrist so cold and white, he feels his heart shattering yet again into thousands of pieces. It’s so pathetic, to be honest. For Chanyeol, who in his early 20’s, never dared try out dating; Chanyeol who was always basking in the attention refused others; Chanyeol who reserved his whole being for his other half—his Soulmate—who apparently, actually, never existed.
“What’s up, buddy.” Jongin greets him the moment Chanyeol steps into his apartment. Chanyeol is vividly confused to find Jongin wide awake at one o’clock in the afternoon and before he gets the chance to ask, his nose takes in the surprising smell of food being cooked in his kitchen, empty stomach pulling him towards it.
Kyungsoo has his back to him, hands a blur as he tinkers with the different condiments and ingredients splayed out on the counter.
“Kyungsoo?” Kyungsoo turns, his eyes wide as usual but lips in a graceful smile.
“Hey, Chanyeol! I hope you don’t mind but I made you lunch.”
“For me?” Chanyeol says, eyeing the soup boiling behind the smaller one. “But where did you get all this?”
“Don’t worry about it.” Kyungsoo says, going back to his cooking. “Jongin says you’ve been living on take-outs and instant noodles your whole life.”
“True,” Chanyeol says, putting his bag down and taking a seat, watching Kyungsoo cook. “My kitchen’s never looked this alive before.” Kyungsoo laughs and swings a spatula at him.
“Because you never even bothered to cook for yourself.” Kyungsoo chastises him. “When I get the free time, I’ll teach you to cook. Promise.”
“You don’t have to.” Chanyeol tells him. “I could still live with Jongin’s cooking.”
“You’ll die from food poisoning than from eating wax all your life.”
“I heard that!” Jongin says from the living room. “Meanies, and to think I was actually enjoying this whole Pororo show.”
Heavy knocks against the door disturbs the calm buzzing of the whole apartment, followed by grunts and shrieks of “Park Chanyeol!”, “Open the damn door!”, “I’m busting in!”
Before anything disastrous could happen, Jongin lets the fellow in whose eyes were wild and crazed as if he’s seen or found some sort of revelation.
“Sehun, you okay?” Chanyeol looked genuinely worried, taking in his friend’s disheveled appearance and was already taking out his tools from his bag when Sehun let out another shriek and then a howl, a howl of joy as he jumps on Jongin and crushes him into a hug.
“Jongin! Jongin! Jongin!” Sehun repeatedly shrieks to a struggling Jongin who was equally shrieking in a volume as loud as Sehun’s, eliciting laughter from Kyungsoo and softening the tensed Chanyeol. Sehun eventually stops, pushes Jongin away at an arm’s length and tells him seriously, “I found him.”
“Found who, you bastard,” Jongin hisses, rubbing at his ears. “I thought I was gonna go deaf there for a second.”
“Him!” Sehun says. “The sugar to my juice, the water to my melon, cotton to my candy, the spoon to my mango—”
“Sehun, you don’t make any sense.” Chanyeol interrupts him while Kyungsoo gives out another laugh.
“But I do!” Sehun tells them. “I found him at the gaming shop. He was so pretty, hyung! His hair was pink and his face looked so angelic. You wouldn’t think a person like him would cuss so bad at a game of Call of Duty but he was just that and I fell for him more than I thought I couldn’t.” Everyone goes silent as they process in what Sehun just said and Chanyeol understood once again as he saw the look on Sehun’s face, a look he most recently saw bestowed on Jongin.
Sehun pulls his shirt up, the mark above his belly button a shade as dark as Chanyeol last saw it. Sehun grins. “I found my Soulmate.”
Kyungsoo gives a sigh, already worn out and the night has just started. Sehun, Jongin, and Luhan, the spoon to Sehun’s mango, were bickering over the song catalog and whether Whitney Houston was better than Janet Jackson, vice versa. “You would’ve thought a bunch of young men could act a little more of their age?”
Chanyeol chuckles at Kyungsoo’s troubled look and pats him in sympathy. “Jongin and Sehun were always like that, even before Jongin found you. Jongin may have changed, but some of him just got livelier. Plus, Luhan seems to have the ability to bring out the best or rather the worst out of the two. They haven’t shut up in hours now.” Kyungsoo nods but when Luhan leans back down on the couch, exhaustion evident on his face and Sehun immediately quiets down rushing over to the other male and bringing him a glass of water, does Kyungsoo smile and say,
“I think he brings out the best in him.”
Chanyeol gives out a hum as he absently strokes his wrist, droning out Jongin’s uncoordinated vocals and Sehun’s whines, thoughts of nobody for him creeping and heavying his already hurting heart.
Chanyeol finds solitude in libraries. Whenever a shift becomes too draining for him, he would find himself by the library doors the next morning. The smell of old musky pages, the colorful organized spines of books, the soft scratching of pen to paper, the frustrated murmuring of college students trying to understand their lessons, the soft beep of the machine whenever a student checks out a book, and the keyboard clicks from the librarian’s computer bring comfort to him.
It’s enough for him to drag his fingers along the rough spines and it’s enough for him to skim and flip pages the whole day. He liked it and if he was feeling jolly enough, he would pluck one out of the shelf to read and situate himself at the farthest corner of the library, sometimes sneaking in a cookie or two.
Today, he chose a book from his favorite aisle, the Parallel Romance section, a section only he frequented at the far end of the library that carried hundreds of books about people finding true love on their own through the mundane things people of this world looked down upon. He liked reading them. He always found it fascinating that the teen protagonist fell in love with someone who was definitely her Soulmate, had her heart broken, only for it to be patched back into whole by another boy who was not her Soulmate but eventually, did not matter.
Rules of Chanyeol’s society did not exist and never existed in stories he’s read in books and Chanyeol’s awfully jealous and bitter of how strained he was to abide by the traditions if he wanted to find his soulmate.
It’s been so long, however, and if Chanyeol had his way, he would probably, maybe, give meeting other people a shot. That way his apartment wouldn’t be so much clean and rather in disarray, extra portions of takeout wouldn’t have to go into the trash, and money would be spent for other things than toiletries and grocery. His life might have been completely different if he diverted from the tradition, if he became deviant.
He looks down at his wrists and traces the mark absentmindedly, his mind going through the different scenarios, different possibilities if he lived his life a bit more freely. Maybe his mark was supposed to be white forever. Maybe he was never supposed to have a Soulmate. Maybe he was blessed enough to find love on his own like the heroines he reads in his books.
Chanyeol focuses back on his mark and fondly smiles at it. He’s seen how it works and goes. Nothing can compare to the moment of seeing your Soulmate in the middle of the crowd or bumping into them while waiting in line because Chanyeol’s been witness to it and so, no matter how long it’ll take, he’ll wait because he, with all his heavy heart, wants it and knows it’s all going to be worth it.
“I don’t get why you had to move, Yeol.” Jongin says, carrying boxes to Chanyeol’s car. “You were already doing better here. Didn’t you say that Junmyeon hyung always took care of you?”
“It’s not like that, Jongin.” Chanyeol assures him, bringing one of the last boxes with him. “I’m moving because they need me to. They got a few people stationed down west and need more hands as much as possible. Besides, I’ll definitely get extra credit when I do.”
“Yeah, but is it worth renting out a whole new place and moving your whole life to another city?” Jongin grumbly asks, plucking boxes from Sehun’s grasp and handing them over to Chanyeol. Chanyeol understands Jongin meant no harm. The boy was still terrible with feelings and Chanyeol knew Jongin being impulsive and sharp was a Jongin already missing him so.
“It’s worth helping people struggling with their lives, Jongin.” Chanyeol tells him and Jongin is silenced by that, giving occasional grunts every time he helped load boxes in Chanyeol’s car.
As soon as everything’s in and Chanyeol’s ready to leave, Jongin asks, “When will you be back?”
“I’ll be back in a few months, Jongin.”
“How many is few? Will you be here for Christmas? Will I see you on your birthday?” Chanyeol chuckles and ruffles Jongin’s hair. His heart beats softly at Jongin’s visibly dampened mood and it was a mood caused by Chanyeol himself. He was going to miss his best friends and he wouldn’t deny he already was but duty calls and it’s a duty he couldn’t ignore.
“Of course. I’ll be there when you need me.” Chanyeol tells him and pulls Jongin and Sehun in a hug. “Behave yourselves and take care of Kyungsoo and Luhan.”
Soon enough, Chanyeol drives away from the life he’s built in that bustling city towards a high path of uncertainty where he hopes he would, in time, find the same happiness his friends achieved, a happiness filled with intimate gazes and joined hands like the one he sees now meters away on his rearview mirror.
The boy wakes up, seeing nothing but white above him. He gives an exhale and attempts to sit up but fails when he accidentally pulls one of the cords on his hand and hisses in pain.
The door to his room opens and in comes a person familiar to him, greeting him with a smile he’s long thought to be for his pity. “Good morning, Baekhyun. Would you like to have your breakfast now?”
“I don’t want to. It’s not like eating would work.” Baekhyun mutters, eyes hurting at the sudden light filling his room. He tries to shield his eyes from the bright rays but feels again a painful pull on his hand and curses.
“Now, now, Baekhyun, it’s too early to be so hotheaded!” Victoria chuckles, moving away from the windows and setting up her devices on Baekhyun’s bed. “Wouldn’t want our blood pressure to go up now, would we?”
Baekhyun scoffs. “I couldn’t care less anymore.” Victoria looks at him before going back to her devices, filling a small tube with liquid and squirting some out just to test it out. She brings the tube to Baekhyun’s and the boy hisses, shrieking a ‘Noona you’re making it hurt on purpose!’
“Come now, Baekhyun. It’s a new day!”
“That means I’m nearing there.” Victoria gasps and softly slaps a hand on Baekhyun’s shoulder.
“Listen to me, Baekhyun. Today is a new day. You’re not getting any nearer to where you think you’re heading if you change that mindset. Today is a new day, and I know, you are closer to what you most truly deserve. Just believe on it.” Baekhyun lets out another scoff and looks away from Victoria, his lips pursed in annoyance.
Victoria sighs and pats Baekhyun on the cheek, fondly, bringing his face to look at her. “I’ll bring you your breakfast soon, okay? I expect you to finish everything this time.” His lips move, muttering about something Victoria couldn’t hear. Victoria sighs, stands up from sitting on Baekhyun’s bed and leaves.
Once again, Baekhyun’s left all alone, his room too big, nearly suffocating him. He glances at the dark marking on the back of his hand, shaped no bigger than the country Australia on a map and he is filled with hope, a little bit of happiness singing in his veins, but that would eventually crash down like waves against rocks when he remembers why he was trapped in that damn hospital in the first place.
His lips turn up, however, as he imagines a life so different than the life he’s living right now, a life with someone other than Victoria or the old man from the room opposite his, someone who’ll whisk him away to a paradise he’s never experienced, soft kisses, low murmurs of forever, and arms keeping him warm rather than the flimsy robes and blankets and yappy complaints from the floor’s tenants he endures everyday.
He sinks back into his bed, more comfortable now, and lulls himself back to sleep with images fabricated in his mind, the words ‘soon, maybe’ softly leaving his mouth before he returns to a deep slumber.
“You must be the new intern?” The kind lady asks him, to which he nods at. She gives him a smile and offers her hand for a shake.
“I’m Victoria, the Head Nurse.” Victoria, the tall copper-haired nurse, gestures to the few people behind him. “These people will be your new associates. They will help you adjust and familiarize yourself to what we do here. Although, I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem. Our system isn’t at all different to what you’ve become used to back in the city.
“If you need any help, don’t hesitate to come to us. The past few days have been less hectic so we’re all quite relaxed now.” Victoria then hands him a clipboard and some other various materials.
“Since it’s your first day, take it easy okay?” Victoria smiles at him and softly pushes him towards the others, “Everyone I expect you to be kind to our dear Chanyeol here. He’s been kind enough to be some of the few interns who volunteered to relocate. Please give him a wonderful stay.”
As soon as everyone around him dispersed, he started making his rounds checking on every patient assigned to him. It was only 10 in the morning, just an hour after first stepping foot in that hospital and already almost done with his list except for one last door at the farthest corner to the right.
He carefully opens the door, peeping in and bracing himself for the impact of anything flying at him just like what occurred in 8112 but is only met by mere silence. He makes his way towards the bed where a pale boy sleeps soundly.
Chanyeol gazes at the boy, not older than 25 or even 20 perhaps, with jet black hair, a contrast to his pale white skin. The boy is skinny, bones protruding but nevertheless, his dark long eyelashes, high cheekbones, and thin lips tell Chanyeol he was beautiful.
“Byun Baekhyun,” Chanyeol says softly, looking at the name on top of the longest medical record he’s had the chance to see. He looks back at the boy who looks frailer than before and he exhales a deep breath, in pity and sadness for this stranger.
He goes ahead to checking his oxygen meter and was just finishing adjusting his cords when Baekhyun started moving and groaning in his sleep, an indication of him waking up.
Baekhyun’s eyes finally open and Chanyeol takes a hitch of breath. It was something with the glassy brown irises staring up at him and the corners of his eyes drooping adorably that bring a sudden warmth to Chanyeol’s body and a loud thumping to his heart, an intense humming in his veins.
“W-who…” Baekhyun croaks up and Chanyeol quickly arranges his things and leaves, not noticing the glowing warmth Baekhyun’s mark was emitting.
“Sehun,” Chanyeol softly calls out for his friend, who was busy mulling over a magazine whilst sipping coffee on one hand. The cafe was barely full of customers for it was almost two in the afternoon, a time when the boys finish classes. “Are you sure my Soulmate’s still out there?”
Sehun looks up from the magazine, his hawk-like eyes still hawk-like but soft at the edges. He puts down his coffee and closes the magazine giving Chanyeol his full attention. “Yeah, I’m sure. We’re not put into this world for no reason.”
“But this world is dysfunctional. The Soul makes mistakes. Have you ever wondered why Mr. Jung acted that way? Why he looked that way? He’s gone insane, Sehun. Insane because his Soul was broken in the inside. He wasn’t meant to be born in this century when his Soulmate was waiting in the next.”
“It must be very very hard for him.” Jongin makes a sigh beside him, twirling his now empty cup between his fingers. “The Soul barely made mistakes but when it did, these mistakes are rarely corrected.”
“Do you think I... I could be a mistake?” Chanyeol’s two friends look at him in disbelief, their eyes quivering before they almost narrow into slits, anger radiating from them towards him.
“Chanyeol, how could you even think that way?” Sehun says. “You are not a mistake.”
“Your mark is white, yes, but that doesn’t mean you are a mistake.” Jongin tells him. “Chanyeol, you’re young. You have so much time to find your Soulmate. If not, your Soulmate will eventually find you. Isn’t that how it works? Why are you in such a hurry anyway?”
Sehun nods. “Yeah, why?” Chanyeol looks away, outside at the sun-kissed streets of his hometown. He spots a young couple sporting matching school uniforms swinging intertwined hands between them and laughing that Chanyeol could feel the intensity of their bond all the way from where he was sitting. He sighs and slumps in his chair.
“Because it gets lonely sometimes.”
“What’s bothering you, boy?” Baekhyun averts his eyes away from the window to the old man beside him, sitting on the couch. The patient’s common room was in abuzz, soft murmuring and faint laughter being heard throughout the expanse of the stuffy room.
Baekhyun’s tempted to voice out his confusion. He’s tempted to ask the questions but the words get caught up in his throat and he decides it’s much of a private matter to share.
“Come on, Baekhyun.” The old man says. “You could trust me. Isn’t that what our friendship is built of?” Baekhyun smiles at this and shakes his head.
“I just don’t understand.”
“What is it?”
Baekhyun turns to face him fully. “Mr. Ahn, please tell me the story of how you met your Soulmate again.”
Mr. Ahn’s expression softens and nods. “I was young then. In my 30’s. Successful but lonely. You could say the being lonely part was my fault. I never bothered looking for my Soulmate. I was too preoccupied running a company. Eventually, it would devour me. I was blinded by what success brings me. It made me happy.
“The company was doing well. We had a few competitors and the company would see itself falter at some point but quickly get back to its feet. Unfortunately, the time came when it no longer could. We were buried deep in debts, lawsuits, and hatred. That was when I realized I wasn’t genuinely happy.
“After all the craze died down, I was wandering the streets like a lost dog. I lost everything. Maybe even my sanity.” The old man snorts. “Imagine yourself in my shoes. Wouldn’t you be the same? Lose not only everything you have but even lose yourself? I was in that position. Until I saw the woman on the river bridge.” Mr. Ahn gestures to the window.
“On that same river bridge just below us, she was a complete mess. Her clothes were rumpled and ripped apart, probably from out of frustration, her hair was everywhere and her eyes were wild. Wild but beautiful.” The old man pauses as his eyes glaze and wander. “She was trying to climb up the ledge but I could only watch her attempt it.
“Miraculously, she got on it. She was tittering by the edges, like she couldn’t believe she was doing it, like she was thinking about everything all over again. I could only watch, really. I wasn’t in a proper state that time, anything was possible. So when she caught sight of me, I suddenly had this urge to go to her.
“She looked at me in the eye, no matter how far we were from each other. I could feel it, the intensity of her stare but aside from that, there was something else I felt when she did, like a burning sensation on my skin. The next thing I knew I was pulling her off the ledge.
“She tried to stop me, heck, she even clawed at me. See this scar on my face? She did that, that crazy woman. But that’s all in the past now. I’ve forgiven her. That’s how marriage works. You fight and make up. What a ride.”
Baekhyun nods as Mr. Ahn finishes with his story, stroking the back of his hand absentmindedly. Mr. Ahn looks at the boy with worry and soon, realization as he considers the implications the situation brings.
“Did you find your Soulmate?”
Baekhyun looks him in the eye. “I think I did.”
Baekhyun ceases breathing when the door to his room opens. His weak heart beating in an energy uncomfortable and alien to him but the anxiousness clouding his head much fervent for him. Will this be the moment he finally sees his Soulmate again?
His first encounter with his Soulmate was a blur to him and he regrets not having to see his face more clearly but maybe now is the time for him to do so? Just the thought of it makes Baekhyun want to scream and his heart burst. He waits in apprehension and focuses on the clacking of shoes against the tiled floor, until the it stops and the person he desperately wishes to see is standing at the foot of the hospital bed.
Baekhyun nervously looks up and his heart falls over. A smiley face greets him paired with a thin and high voice, something he’s mostly sure his Soulmate did not possess.
“Hi Baekhyun! I’m Kim Jongdae, your assigned nurse. Nice to meet you.”
Baekhyun could only smile a shaky smile back, his mark still hushed and void of the warmth he’s been craving.
“Chanyeol, would you please check on Baekhyun for me?” Victoria asks, handing Chanyeol Baekhyun’s records. “All the head nurses are called for a meeting. I should go.”
“You have not been checking up on Baekhyun for awhile now, young man.” Victoria says, her lips pursed into a thin line. “He’s one of your responsibilities. I don’t want you passing him on to the other nurses like you usually do. Baekhyun is a kind boy. Do you not like him?”
“It’s not that, Noona.” Chanyeol tells her quickly. “It’s just… I’m scared.”
“Why would you be scared?”
“Because I’m scared he might not like me back.”
Baekhyun groans out loud and the nurses around him chuckle but stare at him in worry. He’s just finished his session and sitting down proves to be much of a difficulty for him. He squeaks when the pain shoots up his spine, his numb hands not doing much.
“Bring me back to my room, just will you?” A Baekhyun after sessions is a crabby and short-tempered Baekhyun and it takes everything for the nurses not to burst in giggles. They shouldn’t at all be in such a joyous mood, in times when their patients need them most, but Baekhyun was one exception. The sessions seem to work on him. He’s gotten stronger even in just the briefest times and if Baekhyun’s attitude was one proof, then the sessions were pretty much doing him miracles.
“I’ll do it.” An unfamiliar voice above him renders him unmoving. He slowly leans back down on his wheelchair, afraid to look up at whoever was now pushing him through the hallways. “Just relax and don’t move so much.”
His heavily treated heart surprisingly thumps in that uncomfortable beat again and his veins humming in anxiousness. This was what he felt when he met Jongdae for the first time and although Jongdae would eventually become one of his favored nurses and friends, this feeling was not more than a false alarm for Baekhyun, raising his hopes up. He still haven’t seen his Soulmate and no matter how much he tried by looking at each nurse he sees in the eye, his efforts remain futile.
It’s unfortunate however that Baekhyun would make the mistake of thinking the warmth his mark was giving out to be the excruciating pain running up his spine and spreading throughout his whole body. He failed to notice the soft glow it emit under the hospital gown either.
“Baekhyun,” he hears someone call out for him. He opens his eyes to see Jongdae holding out an ice cream right under his nose. “I got you ice cream! Hurry and eat it before it melts!”
“Then help me up, you idiot,” Baekhyun says. Jongdae helps him sit up the bed, putting an extra pillow on Baekhyun’s back. Baekhyun takes a first lick of the ice cream and he smiles at Jongdae, thanking him.
“I knew you couldn’t resist ice cream but Baekhyun, you wouldn’t believe what I just found out earlier about the woman in 8009!” Baekhyun gives him a look.
“Jongdae, are you still snooping around people’s business? Shouldn’t you not? Don’t nurses have this sort of secrecy code they swear on?”
“Yeah, but Baek, this story is huge! I just have to tell you!” Baekhyun snorts and listens intently to Jongdae gossip about the woman doors away when another nurse slips in without the both of them noticing.
He observes Baekhyun smile and furrow his eyebrows, he takes note of the color of his hair that seems to change to red when hit with sunlight, and replays in his mind the joyful laughter coming out from him, a laugh he finds he’d want to hear again.
“Oh, Chanyeol! What are you doing here?”
“I am the assigned room nurse for Baekhyun, aren’t I?” Chanyeol asks him, an eyebrow raised in question. “Go and bother someone else in the meantime, Jongdae.”
“You traded places with me in the first place!” Jongdae huffs.
“And I regret that. The only person capable of handling that witch back in 8135 is you.” Jongdae guffaws and bids Baekhyun goodbye before rushing out the room.
Chanyeol turns back to Baekhyun who was now frozen in surprise. Chanyeol smiles, a smile so large his cheekbones started hurting.
“Hi, Baekhyun. I’m Chanyeol, your assigned nurse.”
The warmth is excruciatingly hot and it takes all of Baekhyun to ignore it. He wouldn’t say, he wouldn’t tell. Not when this nurse in front of him, the nurse his Soul is claiming as his other half, shows no sign of discomfort, no sign of his mark reacting to Baekhyun’s proximity.
He is confused but mostly hurt at the lack of reaction. Chanyeol’s only been smiling and laughing the whole time he’s been chatting with Baekhyun and although the toothful grins and the booming laughs are what makes Baekhyun’s heart beat in adoration, little does he know Chanyeol is hurting too, hurt of the fact his mark never so once glowed for the boy he fell in love with at first sight.
“Hey, Baekhyun,” Chanyeol calls out. Baekhyun cranes his neck to the other side at Chanyeol who was lazily slumped on the couch. “shall we go out for a walk?”
“I don’t walk, Chanyeol.” Baekhyun says. “And I can’t.”
“Why not? It says so here in your records that it’s part of your physical therapy.”
“Yeah, well why bother when you’re just gonna die in the end anyway?”
Baekhyun hears the couch groan and the sound of footsteps coming around his bed and to his side. He quickly tucks his hand away from Chanyeol who was now crouching to look at him in the eye.
“If you’re not gonna do it for yourself, then would you do it for me?”
Baekhyun drowns in Chanyeol’s eyes and thinks that maybe, it wouldn’t hurt to try this time.
“Is it always this sunny outside?” Baekhyun says, hissing at the dry sunlight touching his pale skin. Chanyeol looks on and laughs as Baekhyun struggles to walk back to him.
“You’re doing great for your first time, Baekhyun!” He shouts out. At this, several nurses and staff gather and murmur to each other in shock to see Victoria’s boy out of bed and in the sun for the first time in years.
“I’m burning!” Baekhyun shrieks and tears form at the corners of his eyes but he gives out a laugh anyway when he sees Chanyeol coaxing him forward, body in odd angles as he mimics Baekhyun’s current struggle.
Chanyeol thinks Baekhyun looks more breathtaking under the sun where his features bask in the light and look so radiant and alive. He watches Baekhyun walk as if he was a drunkard and watches him trip. He doesn’t rush to him, however. Baekhyun could stand up on his own just fine and when he does he’s directed a stunning smile from him, eyes disappearing into adorable little crescents making his heart thump irregularly.
Baekhyun glows majestic under the sun and with a trick of light or not, so does his mark.
“I’ll be gone for a few days, Baek.” Chanyeol says, breaking the comfortable silence between Baekhyun and him.
“Where are you going?” Baekhyun asks in alarm and Chanyeol chuckles, ruffling Baekhyun’s hair before going back to tinkering with the hospital equipment.
“I’m going back to Seoul to visit my friends.” He tells him. “It’s been a month since I’ve arrived here and I promised I’ll go visit.”
“Will you be back soon?”
“I’ll be back before you know it, Baek.”
“Okay.” Baekhyun meekly says, watching Chanyeol work on his tubes and medicines. “It must be wonderful.” He muses.
“To have friends.” Baekhyun tells him. They have lapsed back into silence, silence penetrated only by the constant beeping of monitors and machines.
“Do you not have friends, Baek?” Chanyeol asks him. “What about Jongdae, Victoria noona, Mr. Ahn, or even that bratty kid down the hall?”
“They’re my friends because they have no choice.” Baekhyun says. “It would’ve been so much different if I weren’t in this hospital.”
“Do you really think they’re friends with you because they pity for you?” Baekhyun nods.
“Then do you see me that way, too?”
Baekhyun looks at him, a serene calmness on Chanyeol’s features but it dissolves right away once Chanyeol cracks his signature grin, a grin that makes his right eye twitch. Baekhyun giggles at that.
“You’re my best friend.” And it hurt for Baekhyun to say that when he knew Chanyeol was more than that, but the blow was more painful when Chanyeol nods and says,
“Yes, I am.”
“Yeol, lighten up will you?” Jongin tells him. “You’ve just been here for a day and you’re already so antsy. What’s up?”
“Yeah, lay off your phone for awhile,” Sehun says. “Who are you texting anyway? Girlfriend? Boyfriend?”
“You found your Soulmate without telling us, Yeol!” Jongin gasps. “Tell us about her! Or him!” Chanyeol sighs and raises his wrist, the mark still blank white.
“No. I was texting a fellow nurse.” Chanyeol tells them. “Just wanted to check up on some patient.”
“‘Some patient’, huh?” Sehun says, smirking at him. “Do you like this patient, hyung?” Jongin and Sehun carefully gauge Chanyeol’s reaction but Chanyeol merely shakes his head.
“Even if I did, you know we are not meant to be.”
“Hey, Baek,” Chanyeol says, nudging Baekhyun awake. “wanna go out for a walk?”
“Chanyeol, my legs hurt.” Baekhyun whines. “I just got back from treatment, you can’t expect me to stand up immediately.”
“Come on. Just try it.” Chanyeol says. “The sooner you get your legs moving, the sooner we can go back.”
Baekhyun sighs and nods. “Okay, now carry me up.”
As soon as he’s ready, Chanyeol wraps his arms around Baekhyun’s waist and carries him out of the room. Baekhyun, confused, wraps his arms around Chanyeol’s neck and gazes up at him.
“I thought you were gonna make me walk?”
Chanyeol chuckles. “When we get there, Baek then I’ll put you down.”
Baekhyun nods and feels his face warm up when he notices the stares he’s getting from the nurses and staff as well as the patients and guests out in the lobby. He hides his face against Chanyeol’s neck, feeling the latter vibrate as he chuckles that deep chuckle making him warmer.
“I appreciate you taking up my favor, Chanyeol.” Victoria tells him while doing rounds. “I’m still so sorry it was of short notice. If Jongdae called earlier, I could’ve gotten someone else to take his evening shift.”
“Don’t worry about it, noona.” Chanyeol assures her. “I don’t mind. I got nothing planned for tonight, anyway.” Victoria nods.
“Well, I’ll leave you to the rounds.” Victoria says. “Please make sure Baekhyun eats his dinner. He barely does.”
“Of course.” Victoria smiles.
“Baekhyun likes you, Chanyeol. I’m glad he’s found a new friend. He’s been really lonely.”
Chanyeol chuckles. “Wouldn’t that make the two of us?”
“Baekhyun?” Chanyeol softly calls out and peeps in, seeing Baekhyun sleeping soundly. Chanyeol smiles as memories of him seeing Baekhyun asleep for their first meeting comes to mind.
He takes a seat on the side of Baekhyun’s bed, entranced once again by Baekhyun’s soft feminine features. His hair has grown longer in just a span of a few weeks. His hair falls into soft waves long eyelashes, already a deep and dark contrast to his pale and high cheekbones.
Chanyeol sighs, not in exhaustion, not in sadness, but in pity for himself. He’s grown to love the boy before him in just a short amount of time and it’s really tragic for him to fall for someone who isn’t his Soulmate. Baekhyun has a Soulmate, he’s sure, although they never talked about it. He thinks about the heroines in his books and scoffs in bitter amusement at how much he could compare himself to them now.
Chanyeol looks back again at Baekhyun and smiles. He’s happy to have at least experienced love with someone not his. He’s happy it’s with Baekhyun.
“Chanyeol, do you have a Soulmate?” Baekhyun asks Chanyeol on one rainy afternoon, the skies a gloomy gray and the streets below lighted up in fog.
“No, I don’t.” He confesses.
“What makes you think so?”
Chanyeol shows Baekhyun his hand, the mark so white under the yellowish lights. “I’m a mistake, Baekhyun.”
Baekhyun’s initial reaction was shock but his eyebrows crease and he shakes his head. “I don’t think you’re a mistake, Yeol.”
“Even if you were, there would always be someone who will love you.” Baekhyun smiles that adorable smile and Chanyeol is left speechless, speechless enough to barely understand the following words Baekhyun would utter. “And someone who will wait for you to realize being imperfect doesn’t matter.”
“He’s gone worse,” Victoria says, massaging her temples. “the treatments don’t work anymore. He’ll have to go for a different treatment but how?” Victoria’s voice cracks. “I don’t have the money to do that for him and even the hospital has its limits.”
“Noona?” Chanyeol asks. “I noticed you don’t share the same surname and the records showed a different set of parents. Yet, you’re signed as his guardian.”
“He’s my boy.” Victoria tells him in sniffles. “I couldn’t just abandon him to die and follow in his parents’ footsteps when he could have another chance at life so I took him in, adopted him when his parents soon perished. I stood as his parent since he was seven. I pay for all his bills and the hospital helps, as long as I dedicate my life in this hospital. I don’t mind. As long as Baekhyun lives.”
“Has he been here for so long?” Victoria nods.
“He’s been here ever since, and ever since, we struggled to save him.”
Silence is shared between the both of them for a moment.
“What does he need, noona?”
“For now,” Victoria says, rubbing her eyes. “he needs someone who’ll show him the world right at his feet.”
“Chanyeol?” Baekhyun croaks out, attempting to sit up his bed. Chanyeol rushes to his side, helping him up. “Should we go out and walk?”
“But you can’t,” Chanyeol says. “You’re not in the condition to stand and walk.”
“Then carry me like you used to.”
Baekhyun gazes at the pretty flowers swaying in the wind. Chanyeol gazes down at the beauty that is him.
Chanyeol slowly brings Baekhyun down on his bed, tucking him in with the blankets and running his fingers through Baekhyun’s hair. They’ve just finished walking around the hospital grounds with Baekhyun captivated by the different colors and smells presented to him. When they finished visiting Jongdae at the seventh floor, Baekhyun nearly collapsed in exhaustion.
Just when Chanyeol was about to leave, Victoria enters along with a man he occasionally sees visit Baekhyun.
“Victoria noona, Dr. Lee,” He greets, bowing down in formality. “I was just about to leave.”
“Stay for a moment, dear.” Victoria tells him. “Dr. Lee’s going to tell his assessment.” Chanyeol nods.
“Baekhyun looks worn out.” Dr. Lee muses, observing Baekhyun sleeping soundly.
“We walked around the hospital, doctor.” Chanyeol says. “Baekhyun insisted we check out the other floors. He hasn’t been before.”
“I see. Well, the therapy is surely effective on him, considering he’s now able to walk around without difficulty but soon enough it’ll deteriorate.” Dr. Lee says, sighing.
“We have a few complications. He’ll need to go under surgery if we wish to save him. Chances are slim but it should be worth a try.”
“How could we be so sure, doctor?” Victoria asks, her voice quivering. “Is there any other else?”
“There’s one more operation we could do on him.” Dr. Lee says. “But I do not recommend that. He’s too weak, he might not survive the operation. I suggest we do the first mild surgery.
“But,” Dr. Lee trails off. “we need a donor for the surgery. While supply for Baekhyun’s blood type is no problem, organs are. If we don’t find a donor for Baekhyun within the next few days, Baekhyun’s condition will be heavily critical.”
“I’ll donate.” Chanyeol interrupts, surprising the two.
“Chanyeol,” Victoria gasps, clutching Chanyeol’s uniform sleeve. “I appreciate it, but you’ve done so much for my boy. I can’t ask of you to sacrifice so much.”
“But I am willing, noona.” Chanyeol tells her, eyes bloodshot from the lack of sleep and maybe, from something more—a realization, a desire, and a need to save, save what is his all along. “And I must.”
Chanyeol turns to Baekhyun again, eyeing the strange faint glow under the blankets. Suddenly, Chanyeol understands that he’s never meant to be the heroine he reads in his books. Suddenly, Chanyeol understands why his Soul has given him a mark so white, white when his Soulmate was here struggling all along with a disease since his early years. Suddenly, Chanyeol understands why he fell in love with Baekhyun in the first place and everything clicks.
Baekhyun feels drowsy, the effects of his new medication spreading throughout his body. “Chanyeol?”
“When I finish with my operation, will you be there when I wake up?”
“I will.” Chanyeol promises but knows in his heart, it’s a promise he’s bound to break.
“Why would you do that?” Jongin hisses, glaring at a stricken Chanyeol. “I understand why you had to leave us, Yeol, but what you’re asking for is too much!”
“Jongin—” Sehun is cut short by Kyungsoo who pulls at his arm, shaking his head in worry.
“That is not your obligation to do, Chanyeol. Know the limits and set it at that!”
“But, Jongin!” Chanyeol argues. “It has always been my calling and you know that. I can’t let someone die when I could save him. It’s not an obligation, it’s being human.”
“He is not related to you!”
“He isn’t but I’m the only one he has left.” Everything goes silent after that, soft sniffling and cries breaking the tension between the two. “Jongin,” He pleads. “He’s important to me, let me save him.”
“If we refuse?”
“He dies and I along with him.”
Baekhyun opens his eyes, his body heavy and numb but surprisingly, the blood flowing in his veins feel richer, his heart beating in a rate calming and stronger. Baekhyun searches for the person among the people gathered in front of him, people including Victoria, Jongdae, Mr. Ahn, Dr. Lee, and that bratty kid down the hall. Everyone was there, everyone except him.
“Baekhyun, rest for now.” Victoria tells him, a smile playing on her lips, a smile of genuine relief and happiness for him. “Sleep. It’s over.”
“Will be here when you wake up.”
“He promised he’ll be here.”
“And he will, but not now.” Victoria says, coaxing the now sitting up Baekhyun back.
“Where is Chanyeol?” Victoria bites her lips, a habit Baekhyun noticed from her that tells she’s hiding something. “Noona, where is—”
The mark on his hand throbs with a sudden warmth, the warmth stinging sort of like when bitten by a dog. Baekhyun watches as his mark throbs light so blinding before it finally settles down.
His mark goes white and he breaks down.
When Baekhyun wakes up, everyone has gone, everyone except Victoria, Jongdae and a few other people Baekhyun has never met before.
They’re not looking at him, rather, they’re looking at something or someone to his right. When he turns to look, his heart sinks. There, situated at the extra space of his room is another patient, eyes closed in sleep.
The strangers turn to look at him this time, one of them in distaste. Baekhyun ignores them and attempts to stand up. Victoria protests but Jongdae hushes her, assisting Baekhyun reach Chanyeol’s bed. His knees still buckle under his own weight but he manages, kneeling by Chanyeol, observing and inspecting him.
“I don’t understand.”
“He gave you another chance.” One of the strangers speaks up. “He’s sacrificed a lot just to give you another chance. Let him be.”
“I never asked for him to do so.”
Baekhyun stays kneeling by Chanyeol’s bed, his eyes never straying from his face. He looks oddly peaceful and Baekhyun lets a tear slip from his eye as he realizes the depth of Chanyeol’s sacrifice, of how he sacrificed a part of him for someone who didn’t even deserve it, for someone who wasn’t even that important.
It’s when Chanyeol jerks in his sleep does Baekhyun see a faint glow on Chanyeol’s side. Curious, he stands up ignoring the pain and leans over Chanyeol. What he sees is the beautiful mark Chanyeol possessed on his wrist now transforming into its destined color, a color that should’ve matched Baekhyun’s if Baekhyun’s mark didn’t turn white earlier.
However, as soon as Chanyeol’s mark solidifies into a lovely shade of brown, Baekhyun feels that familiar tingling and warmth on his hand once again. Gasping, he watches as his mark slowly goes back to brown, a color that matched Chanyeol’s and a color that matched Chanyeol’s eyes, eyes that are now looking at him in tears.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Chanyeol croaks out.
“Tell you what?”
“That you were my Soulmate?”
Baekhyun laughs, a joyful laugh Chanyeol smiles at. “You didn’t need to know, Chanyeol. You deserved someone better, someone stronger and not a weakling like me.”
“But I could never want anyone else, Baek.” Chanyeol grunts as he attempts to sit back on his bed and Baekhyun helps him despite the pain in his arms. “Not anyone when even if my mark did tell me so, I already fell for you at first sight.”
Baekhyun sobs, tears falling down his face. Chanyeol coos and gazes up at Baekhyun in a manner so lovely and soft.
Chanyeol gazes up and Baekhyun looks down in wonder, mirth and joy dancing in their eyes.