Prompt #: 283
Title: Unfinished Song
Word Counts: 8900
Side Pairing(s): platonic Kyungsoo/Jongin
Warning(s): minor character death
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: Even though his body was banned from making sounds, his mind was full of music.
Author's Note: This is my first time writing for a fest and I can say it’s a very fructuous experience, stressful as well but it made me learn a thing or two. I’d like to thank my two friends who began this adventure with me: A and M, I love you to pieces, thank you for everything, I wouldn’t be writing this without you, guys.
Also, I’d like to thank my personal editor/beta/and main cinnamon roll: O, I love you, let’s share happiness forever! Big thanks to F for being an awesome human being, and to my bestie T who I couldn’t leave out of this mess because she’s been bearing with my emotional crisis ever since I picked this prompt.
A whole universe of flowers for the lovely BAE mods and lots of hugs for everyone who might like this story.
PS: I hope my recipient likes this and sorry for bending some constrains here and there. Thanks for proposing such a beautiful AU.
Baekhyun lived in a tree; he slept by day and was awake at night when nocturnal creatures made their appearance and accompanied him.
He was an unusual nymph.
Nymphs were all born as female minor goddesses, but Baekhyun was born as a boy with pink hair, button-like nose, and he was also mute.
He grew up surrounded by flowers, animals and other nymphs, sometimes even gods would give them a visit. Those social gatherings went well; gods loved Baekhyun’s sparkly personality and his smiley face. His eyes spoke a thousand words everytime he blinked.
But there was a tiny problem: he was still mute. His mother never came with any explanations but it seemed it had been quite troublesome for her and even some gods. A deal had been made and a price had been paid, that’s all he knew and he didn’t intend to research any further. Ironically, he loved making sounds, ever since he could stand alone by himself, always listening to the tweeting birds, or playing with wild puppies and even falling asleep to the owl’s song.
Even though his body was banned from making sounds, his mind was full of music.
Baekhyun’s favourite hobby was staring at the night sky with the foxes that lived under his tree; their names were Luhan and Sehun, two brothers whose parents died due to hunting.
They were just pups when Baekhyun found them, cuddled up to their mom’s corpse, trying to keep themselves warm. Her body was covered in blood and mud and so were the puppies.
It was a dark moonless night and just a few stars had shown up. Baekhyun felt uneasy in his own skin, something happened but he didn’t quite know what it was, he couldn’t pin the feeling down.
He woke up with a heavy heart because the owl hooted from a different location, somewhere not so far but he wasn’t in his usual spot (which was two trees down from Baekhyun’s home).
Following the sound and his instincts, he made his way silently.
Walking across the forest was always pleasant because the leaves caressed his arms whenever he went through a particular leafy tree, animals liked to trace abstract paths between his feet when he took a step forward and, in hot summer nights, they played and danced to the nocturnal noises.
Baekhyun already knew where he was headed thanks to a dead old tree blocking the way; it died a long time ago and weeds invaded the space, growing and tangling around its branches. Flowers usually adorned the trunk and it was a breathtaking sight, life and death entwined creating something right in the middle.
He heard two creatures rusting on the cold floor and fighting the fear of being alone. When he first saw them, the small fox sniffed his mother and tried to help her to get up while the big one was curled in himself, watching how his brother tried and tried in vain; occasional whimpers were heard from both pups.
Fireflies surrounded them, giving their light out and the foxes were scared at the sudden intrusion of little bugs floating on air and slowly enveloping their frames, but as time slipped away, they accustomed themselves and started to feel curious. They’d never seen something as beautiful and intriguing as fireflies.
The small fox was the first to notice the creeping sounds of Baekhyun approaching them. He stopped pushing her mother and almost instantly, he positioned himself before his brother, protecting him.
Baekhyun stopped right on the spot, smiling at the furry pair. Since he was mute, he couldn’t explain himself with words, so he waited and after a few minutes, the bigger fox looked at him, directly at his eyes and saw the stars and how they rushed into constellations, from simple figures to intricate and spiraling designs.
He drawn himself up slowly and walked to Baekhyun, whose heart could barely stay locked in his cage.
“I’m Sehun”, he simply expressed with a very timid voice, as he was waiting for some kind of reaction.
Baekhyun melted inside and fell on his knees, while having open arms, and, although Sehun was reluctant at first, he ran and threw himself all over Baekhyun’s chest.
The other one stared, frozen; he dropped his bravado and quickly launched himself on Baekhyun and Sehun. They ended up rolling all over the dry leaves.
“I’m Luhan, who are you?” the fox asked as Sehun licked Baekhyun’s face and snuggled a little more.
“He’s a nymph; don’t you see that he’s glowing?” The brothers were so amazed with this kind of magic that they didn’t notice how the branches and weeds engulfed their mother’s corpse, in a matter of minutes it was covered by pink and purple flowers, too.
Baekhyun thought it was the proper burial for a gorgeous fox whose life was taken away prematurely.
Sighing, he pointed his delicate finger to the place where the flowers appeared. Luhan and Sehun wept quietly against Baekhyun’s chest.
They’d been running away from the nearest city, some men were highly interested in their fur. It was soft orange with pink patches around the head and neck.
Uncommon animals were appreciated as gifts before asking for a woman’s hand, or for new-born babies. They bought luck and happiness, people said.
Luhan and his family were playing and splashing in the river when they heard the hunters. Their father stayed to face the danger and protect his loved ones. Unfortunately, one of the hunters caught a glimpse of Sehun’s tail and tracked them down the river.
Somehow, the hunter trapped them beneath some rocks but their mother bit his leg and earned some time for Luhan and Sehun to run. The man hit her with his bow but she didn’t let go, struggling with a sharp pain, he kicked her in the ribs and finally his leg wasn’t being crashed in such a tight grip.
The impact made her dizzy, but her legs started to run anyway, she followed the scent of the cubs and found them atop a tree. Fear was imprinted all over their young faces but the mere sight of mom coming back to rescue them was enough to shut fear down. Sehun and Luhan waited apprehensively while her mother climbed the tree and when she was reaching the top, an arrow broke into her side. She fell down the tree and both cubs jumped to help her. She was still able to run, adrenaline kicked in and the three of them ran away without a specific direction.
After walking for hours they reached Baekhyun’s forest, even though it was the closest to the city, Demetrias, there was a huge extension of different types of forests surrounding the region. The foxes had made a big journey from their home to escape from the hunters whose number increased with every passing day.
Sehun and Luhan’s family was just passing by Demetrias when they were almost caught and it was enough of a threat to never go back to any city. It wouldn’t be a problem because they were now under Baekhyun’s wings; his forest had particular properties that included protection, food and warm places to sleep. Baekhyun loved deeply every creature living around him so he set these qualities when the chance was given. Nymphs were known for being caring but some were quite careless without even knowing, it wasn’t an easy work.
“We ran for a few minutes and then walked all the way but our mom was too weak to keep moving and that’s where she fell.” Luhan pointed to the flowery bump with his nose. “If there weren’t enough leaves, you would see the trail of blood.” His voice was drenched in sadness and some other feeling Baekhyun couldn’t put his finger on. He’d discover that Luhan felt guilty for not saving his family.
Baekhyun hugged them tightly and looked right at Luhan’s eyes, trying to decode the mess of feelings he could perceive from the small fox. He gave up when Luhan’s barrier got too tall and too dense to crack, with a sigh he kissed the top of his head and lead the way to his tree. Sehun and Luhan followed him and kept an easy pace flanking Baekhyun’s figure.
Chanyeol was born in Demetrias, he grew up and learnt the subtle language of music there. His childhood was like any other’s: he studied war, arts, the human soul and nature but music had always been his passion. It made him feel complete and was the best way to express what he couldn’t whit words.
His musical skills were wide; he played different kinds of instruments and they went from traditional and delicate, like the lyre, to war instruments like the rhoptron. He was a little genius and his teachers, who were not easily amazed, adored him and encouraged him to keep studying, to keep trying new sounds and rhythms, to keep testing new melodies and to love whatever made him happy.
Chanyeol defined happiness as the prime state of the human mind as long as the surrounding conditions were favorable, and it evolved through years and years of enjoying the small things. He was a happy person and he owned his spirits to his family and the gods, of course.
Playing instruments since the young and tender age of 3 years old had made him a persistent person. After putting himself into something he felt like a part of his soul, every achievement was collected and kept in a special place in his heart.
One of his favourite memories was when he could play the lyre for the first time, his fingers felt numb and his arms ached for the effort of holding the instrument, but some hours after practicing a difficult song that one of his teachers gave him, the melody came out smoothly and steady. He beamed at his mom, who was painting some flowers but stopped right after Chanyeol started to play sweetly, it was one of her favorites, and when her son had finished, tears streamed down her face and she got up to hug him and kiss his forehead.
“It’s important to be constant. Practice, make mistakes and get frustrated but never give up. You’ll be rewarded by your own discipline.” His mother said with a serene voice. She had always been his anchor and compass, important decisions were made after long talks and maybe a cup of tea; she liked to use flowers for their tea and Chanyeol disliked the strong taste at first, but it grew on him and now was part of his daily routine, which consisted in several hours of playing different instruments and reading. Sometimes he would wander off to the forests, but it was an uncommon thing.
Other hobbies included walking the busy streets of Demetrias filled with obnoxious, loud and alive people. People trying to earn some money, people acting and making music, kids running around and playing with the old man who sold fruits and people walking sideways minding their own business; it was a turmoil of sounds, vibes and sensations that made Chanyeol fall in love every single day of his life.
It was a sunny day, the sky looked as blue as the sea and clouds were nowhere in sight and Chanyeol woke up feeling the sunlight on his face, he growled before getting out of his bed. Grabbing some fruits, he left his home and stared to walk to his school. He was right in time for his cithara and barbiton lessons, in the room were about five people and everyone was taking out their instruments and talking quietly to each other.
Contrary to the popular belief, Chanyeol was a quiet guy, he didn’t have many friends and the only people he spent time with were his mother, sister and, lately his father. Ever since he put a foot on school, he had a hard time socializing; his interests were different and the other kids didn’t appreciate it, they wanted to run, jump, climb and sing while Chanyeol wanted to learn how to play the tambourine under the trees, protecting himself from any harm. His childhood had been quite nice if he ignored that particular fact.
The different teachers arrived a few minutes later and the lessons started. It was a rough session, he felt he missed some rhythms and went off key in some parts; later the cithara teacher would tell him to practice more, he was lacking some skills and he noticed some weird movements on his right wrist too, which indicated that he wasn’t properly playing, also the melody was too forced. Chanyeol felt devastated; never in nineteen years of existence had he been this careless.
“I suggest that you go out to seek for inspiration and pray to the gods, you might be helped.” His barbiton teacher looked at him with understanding eyes whereas his voice was severe.
After some days of heavy sulking in denial, Chanyeol decided to walk around the woods to seek the needed inspiration. He hadn’t commented his last failures to his mother; she’d worry more than necessary. Even though Chanyeol didn’t say a word, his mother felt that something was off right after he crossed the door.
His features looked gray and severe, also, his hands were angry red and quite swollen (an usual sign whenever he practiced for hours and the results weren’t as good as he wanted them to be). No words were exchanged and his mother hugged him so lovingly he felt his heart regaining its usual beat.
That night he looked at the sky praying for some kind of sign, inspiration or idea. He couldn’t lose the only thing that gave him reasons to live for. Family was the reason number one but music had a heavy weight on his happiness measurement and priorities.
The following day he woke up with a weird drumming in his heart; he was eager to leave the house and wander off to the woods. One of his friends had told him about a special spot in the woods, where beautiful flowers grew without an apparent water supply and animals were commonly seen; Chanyeol suspected it might be the doings of a nymph, they used to play around with nature, normally, they’d take care of every living being in and around their territory.
“You should go, Yeol. It’s impossible not to get inspired; everything is special and the view is breathtaking. I always run to that place whenever destiny comes upon me.” Chanyeol would give it a try, he got nothing to lose anyways and a small fraction of his mind was deathly curious and adventurous.
After gathering his stuff, he left his home and walked directly to the woods. Going through the weeds and trees was somehow exhilarating: the breeze was gently touching his face and he felt like floating and softly swimming in the summer wind, the sun shined brightly on the wood’s head but the canopy blocked the intense rays allowed only the right amount of warmth and light.
Chanyeol didn’t feel as an intruder, nonetheless, he knew he didn’t belong there. The woods embraced him with reverberating sounds, birds were happily singing, bees droned on and he thought he caught a glimpse of a bright brown fur but it could’ve been his mind playing tricks on his consciousness.
He walked for hours until he reached a clear, even the air felt different there, it smelled sweet and Chanyeol thought of red flowers and infinite berries. Looking for some place to rest, he spotted a short tree whose base was covered in leaves, as it was a bed. He caressed the tree surface before making himself comfortable and pulling out his cithara; after trying some notes, music filled the silence. The rhythm wasn’t as fluent as Chanyeol liked but progress was made and the drowning feeling loosed its grip on his heart.
Some time passed and the animals were silent, as if they were listening to the whole creative process. Notes lingered and some coiled around the trees’ branches, going through the surface until they reached its core, where a new kind of life started to bloom. Under a tree two sleeping figures stirred when a particular melody resounded very close to their den.
“What is that?” Asked Luhan, perking up his ears. Sehun ignored him in favor of going back to sleep but Luhan was curious enough to walk out of their home and see what was causing the weird sounds; he hid behind some bushes and saw a really tall guy lying against a trunk, he was touching and hitting rhythmically an object Luhan had never seen in his entire life.
This person was too immersed in what he was doing to notice how Luhan approached him gradually. Now Luhan was sitting before music-guy and he left out a tiny whine when the music stopped.
“Wow, hi, uhmmm, how did you get here?” Music-guy was now talking to Luhan, but he wouldn’t have any of that so he whined again looking at music-guy’s eyes. “Do… you want me to play for you?” Luhan was almost touching the guy’s knee and flipping his tail, waiting patiently. The guy proceeded with caution and thought about playing soft and happy songs for the pink-haired fox.
“My name’s Chanyeol, by the way. I guess you have a name as pretty as you.” He smiled and raised his hand to pet Luhan but Luhan wasn’t a dog, either way, the fox guessed Chanyeol’s intentions and closed the distance. Both gasped when contact was made. Luhan’s fur was the softest thing Chanyeol had the privilege to touch; he stroked the base of his ears and scratched his head carefully. Chanyeol sighed.
They both felt they’d found a new friend.
Ever since Luhan met Chanyeol, he tried to drag Sehun out of their hole, but the other was reluctant. Sehun disliked humans even if his brother couldn’t stay shut for five minutes about how amazing Chanyeol was.
“You need to meet him and I bet Baekhyun would like him too, it’s a shame he’s always asleep or busy when Chanyeol comes.” Sehun glared at him, judging him. He was tired of trying to convince his brother otherwise, after all, humans killed their parents.
As if on cue, Baekhyun came back from the flower clear and smiled. He already knew what they were talking about, Luhan had been ecstatic since the very first time he found Chanyeol resting against a tree. “I still think you shouldn’t grow this attached to that human.” His voice was drenched in disapproval and he rolled his eyes for the umpteenth time.
“You’re only jealous because no one pets you.” Luhan acted like a kid and Sehun ignored him, again, resting his head on Baekhyun’s lap, who was sat surrounded by fruits; the nymph was saving the foxes’ food for the weekend, they agreed on spending tie together and that implied diminishing hunting-collecting time and Baekhyun offered as their “food dealer”.
Luhan wailed softly and moaned against Baekhyun’s chest, causing a quite giggle from Baekhyun, and then he proceeded to caress the fur behind the fox’s ears and waited for both of them to fall asleep. After all, the night was covering the horizon with its sheet full of stars.
The next morning the sky was clouded and gray, the wind ran through the branches and told everyone to stay safe because the clouds were extremely happy and wanted to rain, to grant wishes for some new born plants and to re-fill the river’s cause. The clouds and a wide variety of water bodies had a special relationship: they worked as a complete system but separated by sky and ground.
Baekhyun admired the clouds floating above his head and the river feeding his lands, so he did everything in his power to keep them both happy. He created a small swirl of air to greet the wind blowing the leaves, the response was almost automatic and came in as a soft vibration hugging his frame, making him bubbly inside. He definitely loved the wind.
Luhan and Sehun were sleeping and Baekhyun almost was grateful for the silence, he didn’t miss solitude at all but he did miss the calmness in early Saturday mornings. Hoping the kids wouldn’t run into the woods, he started his routine for rainy days and hoped for something good to happen.
Chanyeol wanted to visit the woods, precisely when rains and floods started. His mother knew about those escapades but didn’t mention anything about that matter, nagging was not her fort and worries were not welcomed anyways, at the end, her son wasn’t doing anything wrong and she noticed how calmness was now reflected on his face.
“I’m going out today. I’ll be back around… night.” Chanyeol hurriedly said, grabbing his cithara and some paperwork, his mother sighed and stopped him almost outside the door. “Please, be careful, don’t get too distracted and come back home safely.” She asked softly and then proceeded to kiss his forehead, even though he was taller. Those kisses made him feel so small and cherished, and he secretly thanked the Gods for such a blessing.
In return, Chanyeol kissed her cheek and left but not before putting some strawberries and cherries in his bag, he knew Luhan loved every existing type of berry and making the little fox happy filled his heart with content. He walked the usual path to the woods and reached the clear in a record time; Chanyeol noticed some clouds forming a little ball whom he ignored, but he should have paid attention because in a matter of minutes that exact little ball turned into a giant gray cloud.
He looked up to the sky and water hit his face, quite hard and in an increasing rate. Rain was okay as long as he stayed in a safe place, protected from the cold and potential thunders and that wasn’t his current situation; Chanyeol was starting to freak out and tried to think rationally until a strong thunder broke the raining sounds and resounded in his ears, turning him into bundle of walking nerves. The only thing he could think of was his paperwork and his cithara that were now in a hole he conveniently found weeks ago, but he still was scared and drenched to the bone. If rain didn’t stop soon, he wouldn’t be able to leave the woods and he could possibly catch a cold which was the worst option since his body was quite weak. Apparently, rain had come to stay.
Luhan smelled Chanyeol while he and Sehun were having a light breakfast and it improved his mood in a ninety percent, his tail was wiggling and he ate quickly. “We can’t go out today, remember it’s going to rain and Baekhyun told us not to play outside.” Luhan huffed; disappearing for an hour couldn’t be so bad, after all the sky was bright blue and some birds were happily singing; little did he know that those songs were a warning for the rest of the creatures living in the woods.
Baekhyun came back and sensed the tension, something very usual between the two brothers who spent the day bickering like an old couple. “Luhan is going out today, his human is here.” Sehun said, with an emotionless voice and sitting straight, giving an air of formality and severity that looked quite adorable in Baekhyun’s eyes. Sehun had always been his soft spot, not only because he was the younger, he was also very sensitive and careful. Carefulness was something Luhan lacked but it was compensated with his natural spark of mischief and warm heart.
“Can I go out and play with Chanyeol? I have an idea: you should come with me, please, please, please?” Luhan was begging and doing the puppy eyes that never failed but Baekhyun wasn’t so sure about playing around the woods today; it’d been months since the last rains and it was usually a strong torrent that accompanied the first waters of the season. Baekhyun looked right into Luhan eyes for a few seconds, thinking, measuring the possibilities. After a minute of silent begging from Luhan, Baekhyun agreed, nodding his head softly.
Ever since the pups came into Baekhyun’s life, he didn’t feel the need of being loud or obnoxious, a 180 degree change if you ask Baekhyun’s friends. He used to be an electrifying force of the nature, morphing into melodies and sound whenever he had the chance, just to feel complete. Sometimes he wished he was born as a nymph, a traditional nymph; he could talk and maybe sing. What if singing was his passion? Those thoughts plagued his mind constantly and the bitter aftertaste was never pleasant but he had learnt to live with them and now his incapability to talk didn’t bother him as much as it used to. His mother once told him to never underestimate himself even if he was mute, he had a world inside of him waiting to unravel and a millions of colors waiting to explode, everything perfectly set to make himself solid and present in this universe.
Baekhyun was lost in thought when an angry thunder screamed into the sky and startled everyone. Luhan moaned out of despair and Sehun ran into Baekhyun’s chest. Suddenly Luhan snapped, regaining some dignity before breaking into a hurried pace, going out the hole and racing through the woods, trying to find Chanyeol’s scent but the rain had blurred the smells, making almost impossible to pick a consistent trail. He ran like an arrow, inspecting every spot Chanyeol liked until he saw a ball of limbs shaking under a wide tree. Luhan could breathe normally again and threw himself on the distracted and scared boy who wailed and opened his eyes in shock when he noticed Luhan making his way through his arms, cuddling up to him and sharing corporal heat. Both were drenched and beyond cold, but Chanyeol thought it was nice knowing someone besides his mother cared for his well-being.
A small squirrel observed the scene and immediately informed Baekhyun, who was searching around every corner. Somehow the animals felt everything related to Baekhyun’s emotional state and the other way around worked just as fine.
After Luhan ran away, Baekhyun asked Sehun to stay in case Luhan came back but both knew it was improbable, Luhan was always unpredictable and this time was not the exception. Worry was eating him alive and he thanked the Gods when the little squirrel gave him the right indications. Baekhyun walked carefully to not disturb the poor human that was now holding onto Luhan as if he was his only salvation; the sight melted his heart and he quickly made an umbrella-like haven, making some weeds and branches grow in such shape. Luhan perked up his ears and left out a happy sigh, looking at Baekhyun’s direction, wiggling his tail vigorously. This caught Chanyeol’s attention and also, made him notice they were not under the rain anymore; his heart started to beat erratically and he could feel the quick pulse in his ears, something big was about to happen and he felt as nothing could’ve prepared him for this very moment: a beautiful figure entered the dome, irradiating warmth and a subtle smell of flowers; his skin was sparkling and his eyes were too pure for this world.
Luhan didn’t waste the chance and dragged Baekhyun inside, making him sit very close to Chanyeol. “Am I dead?” Asked the human, Luhan huffed and Baekhyun giggled, shaking his head.
Something pulled at Chanyeol’s heart and a new-born energy was pumping through his system, the air in his lungs expanded and made him numb. “You’re not dead, would have been if I didn’t find you soon. Nice to finally meet you, Chanyeol.” Luhan was accustomed to Baekhyun constantly barging into his thoughts but Chanyeol jumped in surprise. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.” Baekhyun blushed. “No, no, no! It’s fine! Wait, how do you know my name?” Chanyeol was a jittery mess and his brain-to-mouth filter broke. “Luhan is very fond of you, you’ve done such a great work keeping him happy. Thank you.” Baekhyun bathed his eyelashes and Chanyeol choked on air and coughed, this ethereal creature was doing things to him and he was sure it wasn’t on purpose.
Luhan watched them both with inquisitive eyes, he felt Baekhyun turning into a puddle and he swore sparks would fly at any moment. He was excited but suspicious, knowing Baekhyun, he’d be on cloud nine by the time Chanyeol went back to his home. “Oh, I knew your name was as pretty as you, Luhan. He’s my friend and I play music for him, he likes it.” Chanyeol beamed and petted the fox’s head. “And thank you, for rescuing me. I’m glad you did…” Chanyeol doubted for a second, “Baekhyun, my name’s Baekhyun.” Both stayed in silence, just staring at each other and Luhan huffed again, making himself comfortable between Chanyeol and Baekhyun, at least he got to spend time with his two favorite people.
The storm had already passed but Chanyeol and Baekhyun kept talking, resting their backs against the tree’s surface while Luhan played with the little birds that decided to come out and play. They talked for hours, until the sun was timidly hiding behind the horizon; the new friends also planned going to Baekhyun’s favourite pound. It was a beautiful place where the aquatic flowers took the starring role and fishes played around their incipient roots and greenish leaves, bugs enchanted the pond as well with their soft buzzing, at night fireflies made paths of light and the old owl hooted happily absorbing the spectacle before his eyes; it was the happiest place in the woods.
“I’ll see you next week.” Chanyeol waved his free hand, the other one holding his bag and cithara, he was walking backwards looking at the nymph, and Baekhyun awkwardly said goodbye in his mind. Chanyeol received the “message” and waved harder, finally turning around and jogging out of Baekhyun’s sight.
“So, you did like him.” He then remembered Luhan was there too and that meant Sehun was alone, probably going through his seventh anxiety crisis. Baekhyun ignored everything and sprinted back to the lair.
Sehun was soundly asleep when his brother and the nymph entered the den, but Baekhyun noticed how the little creature had made a nest using old ropes that smelled like Luhan and Baekhyun. He felt genuinely guilty, it was an irresponsible behavior, unacceptable, the pups were the priority number one and he should’ve thought about Sehun being all alone in a stormy evening. Baekhyun sat besides the sleeping figure and caressed his neck in a soothing rhythm, Sehun slowly opened his eyes and yawned, he went stiff. “I was worried and it wouldn’t stop raining, I-I found these somewhere and-”. Baekhyun dragged Sehun to his chest and kissed his forehead, apologizing for being so selfish. Luhan’s heart sank at the sight of his brother trembling out of fear, he approached the pair and joined the hug. Sehun was calm after Luhan cuddled him for a while and Baekhyun decided to spend the night with them, just in case both foxes felt restless.
A week passed and true to his word, Chanyeol came back and brought lots of gifts for Baekhyun and Luhan: different kinds of berries, cheeses, apples, some conserved mushrooms and preserved fruits; he could barely carry his bag but the effort was totally worth it when Baekhyun blushed and blinded him with his smile; Luhan was in shock, not knowing what to eat first and wished Sehun was there too, his brother loved apples and could eat a whole lot just in minutes.
Baekhyun was particularly fond of berries and decided to save some for Sehun, the grumpy fox didn’t want to leave the den, much less for a dumb human, he said. Luhan tried using the pond card but Sehun was reluctant.
The day was sunny and perfect to swim. “So, where is this pond of yours?” Asked Chanyeol with a cheerful voice, he felt like a tree shaking with excitement. His week passed in a blur, thinking of Baekhyun and their potential date, something about the nymph made him feel calm and restless at the same time, even his compositions were different and in sync with his current mood, they were more complex and beautiful; the melodies were an experiment of soft notes and warm sounds. His teachers were very pleased with his obvious improvement and Chanyeol felt proud, he thought he was capable of imprinting Baekhyun’s essence in every song; even his mother felt at ease with his new found balance.
“It’s not so far, please follow this way.” They set a rhythmic pace and reached the pond in a matter of minutes. Luhan was out of sight, probably coaxing the frogs out to play with him.
Baekhyun knelt before the pond and greeted the fishes, who jumped happily to exhibit their vibrant and colorful scales. Chanyeol observed quietly and felt breathless. “Come and say hello, the kids would like to meet you”. Baekhyun beamed at him and Chanyeol could do nothing but to oblige.
He sat closer and said a loud “hello”, touching the surface and making little waves; the fishes went frantic and started to bite his fingers, Chanyeol’s reactions was to retrieve his hand. “They’re just playing, don’t worry, they won’t hurt you. Maybe the old turtle would do so, but she’s asleep by this time of the day.” Chanyeol nodded and introduced his hand again, this time, some fishes bit him and the rest swam through his fingers; he giggled and Baekhyun felt his heart sinking in his chest, the sight melted his doubts and insecurities about befriending a human but then again, Chanyeol interrupted his train of ideas.
“Can we get in? I don’t want to bother but it’s really warm and the water looks amazing.” Chanyeol already had his feet inside the pond, waiting for Baekhyun’s approval. There was nothing to approve, he looked innocent and eager to dive in, and the most logical thing was to allow the simple action.
When did Baekhyun turned into a soft puddle of flowers? He couldn’t recall, didn’t want to recall; maybe he had never felt totally adored. Being mute had taught him to appreciate facial expressions and tone voices, and they way Chanyeol talked to him made him feel worshipped.
A few humans were allowed to wander in the woods but Baekhyun met none, they were not his cup of tea. Humans were weird and too clouded by their complicated lives to understand how simple the woods were and yet how life was intricate and created patterns in every single animal and plant. Somehow Chanyeol understood this balance; the one Baekhyun controlled and made Baekhyun what he was.
Falling in love with nature was one thing, but falling in love with another living being was completely different and both, Baekhyun and Chanyeol, knew it.
“Alright, let’s swim for a while then”. Chanyeol stood and took his shirt off, staying just in his plain brown trousers. He felt self-conscious, so common and human whereas Baekhyun was beautiful, his light shone bright and healed wounds, mended hearts and bathed everything in a lovely pinkish glow, or maybe it was just Chanyeol’s mind making up excuses just for the sake of his infatuation.
Baekhyun watched how the muscles of Chanyeol’s back flexed and an inconvenient blush covered his ears, cheeks and neck.
“Would you… join me?” The human asked timidly and Baekhyun forced his shirt open; he usually used a loose robe to cover his body but he learned long ago that shirts and pants were the right choice for intense walks. He discarded his shirt somewhere else, not emitting a single sound and entered the water graciously, barely creating waves. Chanyeol’s hair was already wet and he nervously splashed some water at Baekhyun, the nymph shrieked and started a heated water fight. Both were ridiculous and acted like kids.
This fashion lasted about an hour and both ended up covered in mud and panting. Luhan protected himself behind some rocks and wailed everytime Chanyeol was about to shoot Baekhyun with a mud ball, but the nymph used the aquatic plants to cover his face and shoot heavy water streams. A truce was made and the three decided it was time for a well deserved lunch, but first, they had to clean themselves; Luhan refused eating with the dirty boys, his fur was impeccable after playing with the squirrels and frogs, not a single leaf was messing with his hair.
“Would you help me with my hair? It’d be faster if both washed each other’s hair.” Baekhyun alleged that something was tangled in his hair but it was a lame excuse to touch Chanyeol’s silky and black hair. A suffocating tension grew between the two boys while they looked at other’s eyes and detangled some knots, and when Chanyeol was done with the nymph’s hair, electricity passed through his fingers and surprised Baekhyun, leaving him blank minded. He lifted his hand and touched Chanyeol’s cheek with his fingertips, carving out the bumps and valleys in his memory. The human floated still, the water swallowed them past their chests and when Baekhyun realized what he was doing he opened his eyes in embarrassment and apologized; Chanyeol shrugged it off, equally embarrassed because deep down he wanted to do the same.
If Luhan could throw daggers at them, then they’d be dead and decomposing on the pond’s floor, he was hungry and the boys were practically inside an unbreakable bubble. He let it be, Baekhyun liked physical contact and judging from his position, Chanyeol wasn’t exactly upset after being caressed. He sighed and waited patiently.
The boys joined Luhan almost immediately after their moment, the fox was suspicious but let it split, none of this was his business. Baekhyun was happy and that was enough for him to be happy.
Slowly the weekends turned into months, these kind of dates were frequent and even more adventurous ones were planned, enjoyed and saved as special memories. The most treasured was the night where both of them climbed a tree and watched the stars; Baekhyun’s back was resting on Chanyeol’s chest and the human hold him tight just in case he fell off, fireflies were flying everywhere, lighting up the dark and dancing between the stars. Baekhyun felt safe and complete, his heart beat was erratic and his breathing uneven. Chanyeol noticed and took his hand, caressing the back with his thumb, forming little hearts on it. That night Chanyeol spent it talking with Baekhyun and both shared a small bonfire to keep the cold away. Luhan finally dragged Sehun out of the den and he warmed up to Chanyeol slowly, step by step and by the morning light, he was softly snoring beside him. Baekhyun’s heart swelled with love and he admitted a fact he had been neglecting since the very first time his eyes landed on Chanyeol: he was deeply in love, and sharing so many experiences with Chanyeol didn’t make it any easier.
Kyungsoo was fuming, anger wrapping around his small yet imposing frame. His new born Cerberus was quite scared, the poor puppy hid behind the tall and thick curtain that covered one of the many paintings Kyungsoo owned.
The Underworld was known as a peaceful place and its king was famous for being short-tempered but not evil, just selfish and too judgmental for his own good. He enjoyed some disgraces and despised a hundred more, he also loved nymphs and their role in maintaining the natural course of life and death, he was fond of Jongin, the gorgeous mint nymph that lived close to the Aqueronte river, he hated humans interfering with his plans and admired humans who tempted their fates and even the gods in order to achieve what their hearts desires.
You see, he was torn between being angry and being surprised; one of his most appreciated nymphs was in love with a human, a talented one he acknowledged but still an insignificant human.
Kyungsoo was one of the gods who approved the existence of a male nymph. Baekhyun’s mother begged for a chance to raise a boy but being a nymph, all she could ever produce was more female nymphs. Some other gods said it was impossible, a sin and even worse were the motives behind such “insulting request”. He still remembered the Council debating for days and days until he took the matter into his hands and dismissed everyone, nobody could refuse his decision because nobody wanted to mess with the king of the biggest army in the planet.
He came with a pragmatic solution, based on how every exchange should be equivalent, no more, no less. Equivalence kept the course of life and its later waterfall into death. He told Baekhyun’s mother the price: she could have his little boy but she must sacrifice his voice, everything else would be perfectly normal, but his voice was what Kyungsoo required. The nymph accepted and the rest was history.
Kyungsoo remembered the day Baekhyun was born; he looked like a blossom and smelled like a field of flowers. After that first encounter, he hadn’t met his creation, he felt rather captivated as a father captivated by his children and the mere idea of some human hurting him was unbearable and his hell burned brighter. Thinking of some solutions Jongin found him, she entered the room carrying a small trail with wine.
She sensed a dark vibe flowing with Aqueronte, that was pretty uncommon and she got worried and almost automatically, she left his home and ran to Kyungsoo.
“What happened?” Jongin asked placing the trail on a wood table and pouring two glasses of wine. Kyungsoo breathed and told her everything, and she listened attentively; not every day Kyungsoo was in the mood for heart-to-heart chat. Jongin took his hand and kissed the knuckles, easing the tension and being the ground Kyungsoo needed to step on, in a figuratively way of course, he would never mistreat his favourite nymph.
“I think you’re overreacting, let them fall in love, either way, it’s destined to fail. What a magic is love; too fragile to touch but has the ability to break us all. Baekhyun’s a smart boy and he’s strong, don’t let the I’m-as-soft-as-a-flower image fool you.” Kyungsoo looked at her like she held every answer in the universe, he kissed her forehead and left. He had places to be and human to confront.
Chanyeol was walking into the woods and something felt strange, the air was charged with heavy energy and all the sounds were drowned by the silence. His body shivered but he couldn’t shake off the discomfort. His feet took him to the clear but Baekhyun wasn’t there, Sehun and Luhan either, what was happening?
“Are you looking for someone?” A deep and velvety voice asked, but Chanyeol couldn’t see the person talking to him. “Yes, I am.” Chanyeol replied with a serious tone, one that didn’t hide his suspicion. A human figure appeared and walked in Chanyeol’s direction, with a small and sardonic smile adorning his face.
“Listen carefully. Baekhyun’s not here, I decided to take him under my wing and from now on, he’ll live in my reign. You already know who I am, don’t you?” Chanyeol felt how the blood abandoned his face and tears were already moisturizing his eyes. “You’re the underworld king. Why would you take Baekhyun away from the place that makes him happy? Where are Luhan and Sehun? You just can’t decide for him!” Kyungsoo waved his hand and rope coiled around Chanyeol’s neck. “Let go of me!” Screamed the boy, trying to break free from the vice grip. “You’re insolent, shut your mouth and pay attention: I can release Baekhyun, but, there’s a price. You can have Baekhyun back but he won’t remember you and you can’t play music for anyone but him. You have one day to decide, young boy. You must be here tomorrow, same time, don’t make me wait.” And with a puff, the underworld king was gone. What was he going to do now?
That night Chanyeol didn’t sleep, he was kissing goodbye his future as a musician but he couldn’t leave Baekhyun in that deathful hole, he’d rather cut his arms off. He used that night to compose one last song; it was full of sorrow but hope could be felt through the cracks. It comforted him, making his mind clear.
Baekhyun was worth the sacrifice, he had already known this from a very long time but he needed a little push to admit his feelings. Emotions overwhelmed him, so he cried until he fell asleep. The next day was going to be hard.
Chanyeol woke up just in time to run to the woods, he barely lost the chance to rescue the nymph and cursed himself for not sleeping at a proper hour.
The underworld king was there when Chanyeol reached the clear. They didn’t exchange words, the human just nodded, with such a high level of confidence that he clearly believed everything was going to be fine and he’d be with Baekhyun in no time. Kyungsoo snapped his fingers and an unconscious Baekhyun came floating on black smoke, Sehun and Luhan were there too.
“You cannot be here when Baekhyun wakes up, he won’t remember you and I already talked with the kids, they won’t reveal any details. You can visit every weekend and play music for him. What you do with the foxes is your business but do not interfere with Baekhyun’s block. If you make things right, he could remember his most treasured memories and finally, but not less important: you break his heart and your soul will be forever drowning in Aqueronte. Goodbye, Chanyeol.” Kyungsoo vanished like a whisper.
Chanyeol thought he’d fell complete again but knowing Baekhyun wouldn’t remember him broke his heart and he couldn’t glue the pieces together.
Sehun and Luhan woke up first, confused and wondering where they were until Chanyeol wept in relief. Both jumped on him and licked his face, wiggling his tail and crying softly on his chest, they had felt so scared and alone in that horrible place but now they were in their beloved forest with Chanyeol and a sleeping Baekhyun. After some hours of happy and sad tears, Chanyeol left hurriedly when Baekhyun was about to wake up.”
Baekhyun didn’t remember him but his presence was too solid in Chanyeol’s mind.
Three years had passed and Baekhyun couldn’t remember Chanyeol’s face. Everytime he asked Luhan and Sehun about a human he had dreamed of, they dodged his questions and acted too tense, of course they would run away and hide for hours. Baekhyun learned he shouldn’t ask.
But, it was weird, every weekend he dreamed of a lanky boy playing music, he couldn’t see his face but he could feel him. He could feel the music embracing him but he was too lazy to completely wake up and seek for the boy. Curiously, Sehun and Luhan disappeared in the weekends and came back with renewed hope and happiness. Everything was too weird.
One night he was stargazing with Sehun and Baekhyun expressed how strange everything felt; his memories were in place but something important wasn’t there, his heart had a huge hole and he couldn’t fill it. Sehun didn’t answer, he just licked Baekhyun’s forehead, like it was a kiss.
The first time he remembered the boy, he cried. Baekhyun couldn’t recognize his face but he knew he was the reason his heart felt hollow. Every weekend he left flowers for the human, different colours and textures, but always beautiful. Baekhyun fell back asleep before the boy saw the flowers but he could feel the gratitude and love towards him, even if he was sleeping.
The first time Chanyeol saw the flowers, he cried. Sehun and Luhan kept him informed of Baekhyun’s suspicions and whenever the nymph felt sad. If Baekhyun was sad, Chanyeol would play happy and cheerful songs, we will be okay, I’m here was the message.
The past three years had been hard for Chanyeol, not only because he couldn’t play music, it was hard because he missed Baekhyun and his natural spark, the way his eyes would wander to the sky and the way he giggled when the wind disheveled his hair. But was he missed the most was Baekhyun looking at him, right into his eyes and trying to decode what Chanyeol was thinking, after a minute he would give up and laugh it off like it wasn’t important.
Chanyeol regretted not kissing him when he had the chance, he didn’t regret saving him. He preferred living half heartbroken than knowing Baekhyun was who-knows-where in the Underworld. He found comfort in the flowers covering his favourite spot and that meant Baekhyun was starting to remember. Chanyeol promised to wait for him even if it took forty years.
“Don’t you think you’ve taken this too far?” Jongin was playing with the not so small Cerberus when Kyungsoo entered the room. “Clearly Chanyeol is not going anywhere and he followed your instructions without complains.” The mint nymph didn’t agree with Kyungsoo and his decision, it would only bring pain and despair to Baekhyun and she thought it was unnecessary, Chanyeol constantly proved his worth. “Again playing with the pups? Don’t you ever get tired?” Jongin shook her head and kissed the three heads. How Cerberus adored Jongin? It will always be a mystery to Kyungsoo, Cerberus was supposed to be a guardian but at the sight of Jongin, he turned into a puddle of goo and Jongin was more than happy to scratch his tummy.
“Patience, dear. It’s a matter of time. Everything’s going as I planned.” Kyungsoo smiled and Jongin rolled her eyes. Her king was kind of an idiot sometimes.
Two more months and Kyungsoo thought it was enough, Jongin had been nagging nonstop and if he was honest, he didn’t like seeing Baekhyun sad and trying so hard to remember. His determination had surprised Kyungsoo and deep down he felt guilty for doing such injustice, or that was what Jongin thought.
First thing in the morning he’d visit Chanyeol to settle some arrangements.
Chanyeol was half asleep when a rustle in the curtain woke him up, he sat on the bed blinking the sleepiness away when he saw the underworld king. Chanyeol was now fully awake and his hands turned into fists. “Good morning, Chanyeol, long time no see.” Kyungsoo could see Chanyeol’s hair was longer and his eye bags were prominent. “Good morning. I guess you’re not here just to visit, aren’t you?”
Kyungsoo tilted his head. “No, I’m here to talk about Baekhyun.” Chanyeol panicked. “Please don’t tell me you’re taking him away from me again.” And that was the exact reaction Kyungsoo wanted. “You love him.” Stated the king. “Of course I do!” Chanyeol’s passion burned in his eyes and he was ready to fight for Baekhyun, this time he wouldn’t give up that easily.
“There a way…” Began Kyungsoo, “to get Baekhyun’s memories back, but tell me one thing first, would you go through the pain again just for him?” Chanyeol sensed how the air changed and this was the most important question he had the chance to answer. “I’d do it all again in a heartbeat if it meant he’d be okay.” Kyungsoo smiled widely and clapped his hands twice. “A surprise waits for you in the woods. Don’t waste time.”
Chanyeol remained confused until something clicked in his head, he needed to see Baekhyun and with that thought, he left his house and ran all the way to Baekhyun’s tree.
The place was a mess of dead flowers and Baekhyun was walking in circles, biting his thumb clearly worried; that’s how Chanyeol found him. He didn’t give away his presence immediately, he wanted to admire Baekhyun first, it’s been three long years and it felt like a dream.
“Baekhyun!” Chanyeol called and Baekhyun almost faint. That voice. It was the voice that his heart longed for and his mind had missed those years; everything made sense when Baekhyun turned and saw Chanyeol standing there with a smile on his face. Baekhyun’s knees trembled and fell right in the spot, he couldn’t move, he was too overwhelmed. His eyes never left Chanyeol’s face, maybe if he blinked he would disappear again. What if it was an illusion?
Chanyeol bent down with him and cleaned his tears. “Please don’t cry, I’m here, I missed you.” Chanyeol said and Baekhyun couldn’t speak, the knot in his throat was choking him and all he could do was crying, he threw his arms around Chanyeol’s neck and sobbed. Chanyeol hugged him tightly and kissed the top of the nymph’s head, he also said reassuring words until Baekhyun was calm, still some tears rolling down his face but he could breath normally again.
Baekhyun was too confused, but with Chanyeol by his side he knew everything would be okay eventually.