[personal profile] maayacolabackup





*

Chanyeol wakes up to the steady beat of a heart monitor. As his eyes open to weird fluorescent hospital lights, he can feel someone holding onto his hand. “Hey, you.”

“Hey,” Chanyeol tries to reply, but it comes out more as a croak. He clears his throat and tries again. “Hey, sis.”

His sister narrows her eyes at him, and Chanyeol braces himself for an impact. Instead, his sister just pushes his hair back from his face. “How do you feel?”

Chanyeol closes his eyes again and takes stock of things. His head hurts something fierce, and he’s hungry. There’s also a dull, persisting ache in his chest that feels a little like his lungs are slowly burning away into nothing. The snakes are back too, twisting and turning and hissing louder than they ever have before. “Pretty good,” he says.

“Liar,” his sister says, and now she hits him, but it’s gentle, almost like she’d been super worried. “You have a concussion, so you should at least feel that.”

“A concussion?” Right. Chanyeol’s head had connected with a table pretty intensely as he’d fallen. “How did I get here?”

“We’d all like to know the answer to that,” his sister says. “But if you mean how did you get from your dorm to here, that answer is easy: an ambulance.”

“Really?” Chanyeol asks, eyes wide. “I always wondered what it really looked like inside an ambulance, and I missed the whole thing?” He drags a smile onto his face, even as the weird burning feeling in his chest gets stronger. It’s getting harder to breathe.

“You’re such an idiot,” His sister says. “You scared the hell out of your roommates, you know?”

“I-“

“Junmyeon called us in hysterics, talking about finding you and Jongin on the floor and your head was bleeding-“

Jongin. The feeling in his chest ignites, and it’s impossible to stop his smile from falling as one hand, with a plastic bracelet that says his name in block-like hangul, comes up to clutch at his chest, digging into the flimsy, scratchy material of his hospital gown. “Where’s-“

“The doctor says it looks like you haven’t been eating, and that your heart-rate is too high- What are you doing?”

“I have to…” Chanyeol’s nails are breaking the skin, maybe, and he looks up a little feverishly into his sister’s eyes. She notices something is wrong, and he can see the mild concern changing swiftly to alarm.

“Chanyeol? Chanyeol!” And Chanyeol is struggling to stand, legs tangling in the sheets as he tries to stop his heart from beating out of his chest. “Lay back, Chanyeol, you absolute moron!”

“Jongin,” Chanyeol manages, and the edges of his vision are going hazy around the edges. “Where is Jongin?”

Even as he asks, he knows the answer. There’s a groan from the bed next to his, and Chanyeol stumbles toward it, machinery going nuts as the IV yanks painfully from his arm and the sensors tug free. His sister makes a grab for his arm, and she’s always been stronger than him, but Chanyeol seems to possess an extraordinary strength right now. The burn in his chest is almost unbearable. The snakes are crawling up his throat. Chanyeol manages to pull back the curtain to Jongin’s bed. Jongin is squinting up at him, and his eyes are glassy too, with an expression Chanyeol recognizes from nights in the dorm back when Jongin was injured, Kyungsoo worriedly alternating between pressing cold and hot packs to the small of Jongin’s back as Jongin stoically pressed his lips together until they were white.

“Hi,” Chanyeol says, before he tumbles into Jongin’s bed. His hand searches until it finds Jongin’s, and he laces their clammy fingers together. Immediately, the pain starts to ease, and he breathes heavy into Jongin’s shoulder as Jongin releases a hissing breath.

“You’re so loud,” Jongin says, and Chanyeol would laugh if his chest wasn’t still tingling from the memory of that terrible burn.

“Sorry,” Chanyeol says, and now that the pain is ebbing, he starts to feel reality come rushing back in the form of many footsteps and his sister’s squawking and the feeling of someone pressing a gauze pad to the crook of Chanyeol’s elbow where he’d pulled the IV out too roughly. He looks up blearily, and it’s a nurse, his face set in grim lines as he presses the pad harder against the wound. “Sorry,” he murmurs again, this time up at the nurse, whose face softens at Chanyeol’s apology. Maybe Chanyeol looks as pathetic as he feels, curled up as close as he can get to his band mate, whose own breathing is still a bit rough.

“It’s too early in the day to be looking at your bare ass, Park Chanyeol.” Chanyeol turns his head to see Sehun looking at him like he’s crazy, and this is mortifying. He buries his face into the hollow of Jongin’s neck, which he realizes, a moment too late, is even more mortifying, and he can tell by the way Jongin goes stiff that he agrees.

Sehun is snickering, and he can hear Baekhyun at the door, which means the rest of EXO-K is soon to follow.

Chanyeol wishes he could just disappear, but instead, he reaches for a bit of Jongin’s blanket and pulls it across his butt. Jongin whines as his feet are bared to the cool air, and he wriggles closer to Chanyeol to get his feet back beneath the blanket. Jongin is warm, and bony. Chanyeol curves his body so Jongin can fit closer more easily, and if he weren’t so spun around he might wonder why he knows just how Jongin can fit best into his side.

“What the heck, Chanyeol?” his sister says. “I thought you were dying or something. Your lips went blue.”

“I-“ Chanyeol doesn’t have an explanation. Only, yeah, he’d thought he was dying, too, and it was only when his hand had grabbed Jongin’s that he’d thought he was going to make it after all. And his head is still throbbing and Sehun’s going to tell everyone he’s seen Chanyeol’s ass.

“Ah,” says an unfamiliar voice. “I see I’m too late to spare everyone the dramatics.”

“Dr. Bae,” his sister says, relieved. “What’s going on?”

Chanyeol dares to peeks up from the dubious shelter of Jongin’s shoulder, and he can see Junmyeon, Kyungsoo, and Baekhyun huddled close on his side of the bed, while his sister and the doctor are across from him, his sister’s hands a little too close to Jongin’s leg, and it makes Chanyeol’s stomach lurch. Sehun is standing slightly behind Baekhyun, resting his chin on Baekhyun’s shoulder, looking a mix of amused and bored.

The doctor is peering interestedly at Chanyeol and Jongin’s clasped hands, and Chanyeol wants to pull away, but even the thought of it makes his chest clench.

“I’m afraid Mr. Park and Mr. Kim have run into a very unusual situation,” the doctor says, her voice lilting upwards, like this is entertaining, and not humiliating and terrifying. “Can you tell me what you remember?”

“I couldn’t sleep.” Jongin’s voice is toneless, but Chanyeol recognizes the edge of hysteria. “So I got up to make tea.”

“I heard Jongin rustling around in the kitchen,” Chanyeol says. “And I couldn’t sleep either. So I got up, too, and Jongin offered to make me a cup of tea.”

“But Chanyeol doesn’t like tea,” Baekhyun whispers, and Jongin’s eyes cut over to him.

“He’ll drink the ones that are fruit flavored, though,” Jongin snaps defensively, and Chanyeol looks at Jongin in surprise, which makes Jongin flush. “We were out of the hot chocolate he likes because Sehun is a glutton.”

“I’m a growing boy,” Sehun says. “Chanyeol’s already grown enough.”

“So I walked past Jongin to get a mug, and then-“ The press of dry lips. Jongin’s stuttered breath against his mouth. Chanyeol whispering Jongin’s name. His eyes flicker up to Jongin’s, but Jongin is steadfastly staring at the ceiling. Chanyeol guesses no one needs to know about that. “I remember hitting my head on the kitchen table,” Chanyeol offers. “And a lot of light.”

“Definitely a lot of light,” Jongin says, and now that Chanyeol’s skipped the part of the story where Jongin had pushed their mouths together, Jongin relaxes back into the bed, thumb unconsciously tracing patterns on the back of Chanyeol’s.

Baekhyun definitely notices, and one of his eyebrows goes up, and Chanyeol can only reply with a helpless, confused look because he has no idea what’s going on.

“And have you been feeling weird, lately?” The doctor’s questions are crisp, but her eyes are alight with carefully moderated interest. “Maybe tightly-wound, like you’ve been…”

“Waiting for something?” Jongin asks, and then that dull red flush returns to his neck.

“Yeah,” Chanyeol says, and he can feel his lower lip jutting out. He bites down on it to keep himself from looking vacant. Jongin moves, again, and their knees knock together. Jongin’s legs are hairy where Chanyeol’s are smooth, and it feels weird. Not because of the hair—Baekhyun’s slept in Chanyeol’s bed often enough and he’s the hairiest of all of them in K, but maybe because of the way Jongin’s calves flex as he stretches them. Or something. Chanyeol’s free hand clutches in the blanket to keep himself from reaching down and grabbing Jongin’s leg just to see what it feels like beneath his fingers.

“Chanyeol and Jongin both haven’t been eating,” Kyungsoo adds, and the doctor looks down at both of them to confirm. This is probably the weirdest doctor’s visit he’s ever had.

“It’s been a while since I’ve felt hungry,” Chanyeol agrees. “Although last night I was going to heat up some of the leftovers from dinner.” He dips a finger into one of the larger holes in the weave of the white blanket, stretching it out. “Because of the snakes.”

“The snakes?” Jongin’s the one that asks, and he meets Chanyeol’s eyes for the first time today since Chanyeol had seen them pain-glazed and glittery. “What do you mean?”

“The snakes that have taken up residence in my stomach,” Chanyeol explains, and his free hand pulls clear of the blanket to gesticulate wildly. “They’ve been there for a month now; I guess since Jeju, and they’re always rolling around in my stomach except when I’m-“ Chanyeol slams his mouth shut, and everyone’s staring at him, not just Jongin.

“Except when you’re around Mr. Kim, here, right?” the doctor asks, and Chanyeol doesn’t answer; he just fixes his eyes on his own toes. He’s got a blister on his big left toe, from one of his pairs of stage shoes, and it’s kind of gross. “And you, Mr. Kim?”

“Same for me,” Jongin whispers, and Chanyeol’s head flies up in surprise. “Except I’m not five, so I wouldn’t describe them as snakes, exactly.” His jaw is tight. Chanyeol wants to reach up and run his thumb along it until it’s not. He’s not sure where the urge comes from, when he knows Jongin would flinch away if he even tried it, but he wants to.

He swallows the urge, along with all the spit in his mouth, as Dr. Bae makes a noise in the back of her throat. “And it stops around Mr. Park?”

“Yeah,” Jongin says. “Mostly.”

“This sounds like the weirdest gastrointestinal virus ever,” Baekhyun says. “Also, I’ve never seen Chanyeol blush this much in my life.” He seems delighted. Chanyeol loves Baekhyun, but right now he wants to throttle him.

Chanyeol wonders if it’s too late to crawl back over to his bed and knock himself out with a blunt object.

“It’s not quite a gastrointestinal virus,” Dr. Bae says, and Chanyeol’s sister leans as far forward as she can to rest her hand on Chanyeol’s knee. It’s a little comforting, even if Chanyeol probably has a weird plague or something. Jongin will never forgive him, if they do. He’ll blame Chanyeol and shared water pitchers, or something, and Chanyeol will have to survive Jongin’s cold shoulder for the rest of his life. Or at least the rest of his pop music career; whichever ends up being longer when Chanyeol is dying of some horrible illness.

“Then what is it?” Jongin asks, flexing his fingers, scraping his and Chanyeol’s second knuckles together. They’re still holding hands. Chanyeol doesn’t think he can let go. Jongin sounds kind of petulant, and Chanyeol wants to nudge him not to be rude to the doctor but only Kyungsoo really gets away with telling Jongin stuff like that.

“Well,” Dr. Bae says, “I think it’s a soul bond.”

And then there’s a rushing in his ears, kind of like the sound the television makes when cable goes out, or the buzzing in his ears that he gets when the plane takes off and he hasn’t thought to chew a piece of gum, and Jongin’s holding his hand far too tightly for comfort.

“Oh,” Chanyeol says, and Sehun laughs, loud and mocking, and that’s the last thing Chanyeol hears as he blessedly passes out.

*

“You don’t need to take care of me.” Chanyeol peeled the hot towel off of Jongin’s back and applied the ice. Jongin sucked in a harsh gulp of air as the cold touched his skin.

“Kyungsoo is at vocal training,” Chanyeol said. “You’re stuck with me for now, sorry.” Sehun was far too lazy to be trusted, and Junmyeon was too busy. That left Baekhyun and Chanyeol, and Baekhyun had made himself scarce around two hours ago.

“No, that’s-“ Jongin sighed, and rested his head on his arm. “I mean you don’t have to-“

Chanyeol’s mouth opened in surprise. “I don’t mind,” Chanyeol said. “Let me.” He carefully balled the towel up in his hands and squeezed it as he looked for a way to cut the tension. “After all, if you’re not there, people will pay more attention to my dancing, and none of us want that to happen.”

“I hate they way you try so hard,” Jongin said.

“You try hard too,” Chanyeol replied. “That’s why your back is all messed up.”

“Not with idol stuff,” Jongin said. “With me.”

“I’ll push the boulder as many times as I have to,” Chanyeol said, under his breath, and Jongin pushed his face into his pillow.

*

“But do you feel okay,” Chanyeol hears Kyungsoo ask as he slowly wakes.

“No,” Jongin replies, taking a deep breath. Chanyeol doesn’t open his eyes. “How in the hell am I supposed to feel okay about this?”

“Jongin, it could be-“

“Don’t you dare say it could be worse,” Jongin replies. “You don’t know. Because you’re not the one who’s stuck with Chanyeol for the rest of your life.”

Chanyeol closes his eyes more tightly. The anger in Jongin’s voice isn’t hard to hear; Jongin’s always been transparent, and Chanyeol’s never been one of his favorites. Chanyeol wonders if Jongin would sound so angry if it were Kyungsoo lying next to him. Or anyone but Chanyeol.

“It’s not the end of the world.” Kyungsoo is quiet. Dubious.

“You can say that,” Kai mumbles, “because someday you’ll get to fall in love. Someday you’ll get to think ‘I want to spend the rest of my life with this person.’ I’ll never get to do that. And that’s not fair.”

Chanyeol swallows, and presses his face deeper into the blankets. He knows he shouldn’t be hearing this conversation.

“I knew another soul bonded couple once,” Kyungsoo says. “They were very happy together. I think the point is that you’re supposed to be-“

“Good for them,” Jongin says. His hand moves, to grab Chanyeol’s wrist, and Chanyeol uses the opportunity to shift and let Jongin know he’s waking up. “Good for them.”

Jongin’s hand feels nice around his wrist, but the way Jongin’s words feel is anything but nice.

“Chanyeol?”

Chanyeol doesn’t have to fake the croak in his voice; his throat feels too dry. “Hey Kyungsoo.”

“You’re alive!” He’s forcefully cheerful, and Chanyeol gives him a wide grin in response.

“Of course I am.” Chanyeol looks in Jongin’s direction, and carefully avoids his eyes. “Much to Jongin’s dismay.”

“Shut up,” Jongin says, and kicks him. “I only wish you were dead on Tuesdays.”

There’s a weird bit of confusion, but it feels foreign—like it’s someone else’s confusion.

“Really?” Chanyeol asks, and scoots away from Jongin on the bed. It’s a test, and it doesn’t feel terrible, now, to put the space between them. “You’re getting soft.”

“Where are you going?” Panic now. It’s also not his panic, and Chanyeol has a creeping suspicion that it’s Jongin’s, which is just great, Chanyeol thinks, because that means Jongin will be able to sense his emotions, and that’s the last thing Chanyeol needs.

“I’m seeing if we can put space between us,” Chanyeol says, standing up. His legs are a bit wobbly, but they hold, and sure enough, Chanyeol can feel the snakes. But his chest doesn’t ache, and that’s good enough. “And I’m getting trousers.”

“Dr. Bae apparently told Manager that the bond had stabilized,” Kyungsoo says. “So you should be able to like, move around separately.”

“Good,” Chanyeol says. “Because unlike Baekhyun, I like to take showers by myself.” He keeps his tone light.

“Well good, at least our biggest problem is taken care of.” Jongin’s voice is laced with sarcasm. “Showering.

Chanyeol finds a duffle bag in the closet on his side of the room. Inside of it, as expected, are some of his clothes. He grabs a pair of sweatpants and steps into them as he considers his response. “Well, what do you want me to do?” Chanyeol pulls the sweats up over his hips, which are even narrower than usual. “Whine? Cry? Are any of those things going to make this go away?” It sounds too harsh. He turns around, and both Kyungsoo and Jongin are staring at him, so he smiles disarmingly, as wide as he can. “No.”

Jongin crosses his arms. “Don’t act like an adult,” he says, and Chanyeol laughs at the way his eyebrows furrow. “It makes me feel bad.”

“Sorry,” Chanyeol replies, as Kyungsoo pats Jongin’s arm consolingly. Chanyeol has to turn away again, unable to watch Kyungsoo’s fingers press into the crook of Jongin’s elbow, because the snakes in his belly really don’t like that. He hopes this is another temporary side effect, and not a permanent one. He tugs the tie free on his hospital gown, and pulls on a cotton shirt. “I’ll try to be appropriately childish in the future.”

“Good,” Jongin says. He gets up and walks into the bathroom, leaving Chanyeol alone with Kyungsoo.

Kyungsoo sighs. “You were awake, right?”

“It’s okay,” Chanyeol says. “I know the situation isn’t… It’s not ideal for Jongin.”

“Or for you,” Kyungsoo points out.

“Or for me,” Chanyeol agrees. “But I’ve never disliked Jongin the way Jongin dislikes me.”

“Jongin doesn’t dislike you.” Kyungsoo taps his chin. “He just doesn’t get you.”

“What’s there to get?” Chanyeol pulls on a hoodie. “I’m a pretty simple guy.”

“Yeah, sure you are,” Kyungsoo says, sarcasm heavy, and then Jongin is returning from the bathroom. Chanyeol can also hear Dr. Bae’s laugh in the hall, and Seunghwan’s slightly lower voice accompanying it, and shivers.

*

“Is this going to impact their schedule?” Seunghwan has his hands in his pockets and a concerned look on his face. “I mean, soul bonds are fairly rare, so I don’t really know… We’re already behind on recording.”

“Well,” Dr. Bae says, “side effects may vary.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jongin’s sweatshirt shifts as he slides the zipper up and down.

“It means that it works differently for everyone,” Dr Bae says. “Like your manager said, this is a rare occurrence.” She looks down at her clipboard as Chanyeol bends forward to tie his sneakers. “But there are some things you can expect.”

He’s happy to be getting out, even if he knows he isn’t cured.

“Like all the touching?” Jongin frowns, and Chanyeol’s chest is tight. The feeling is… trepidation, but Chanyeol’s not sure why he’s feeling that, because Chanyeol is comfortable with touch. He always has been. It’s almost like…

“Can we… Can I know what Jongin is feeling?” Chanyeol asks, hesitant to broach the subject but knowing he should ask. “I’ve been feeling things that aren’t… me.”

“You’re both right,” Dr. Bae says. “You‘ll find that the need to touch each other might be overwhelming at times. And as the bond deepens, that need will… change.”

“Change?” Chanyeol queries, but Dr. Bae doesn’t seem to think it needs elaboration and pushes forward. Chanyeol’s nose itches, and he reaches up to scratch at it.

“And you might feel your partner’s stronger emotions. But that’s very dependent on your particular bond.”

“So will they be able to dance and perform and take flights and be in a boy band?” Seunghwan asks, seeming a bit more impatient. “That’s the issue, here.”

“I don’t see why that would be a problem,” Dr. Bae says. “But we don’t know-“

“They’ll be able to spend plenty of time together,” Seunghwan says. “Lots of it.”

Chanyeol wants to roll his eyes, because they already do, and he looks over at Jongin, who is rolling his eyes, and when their gazes meet, Jongin smiles a sneaky, conspiratorial smile that Chanyeol hardly ever gets directed at him. Chanyeol smiles back, a real smile, and Jongin’s eyes widen and he turns away.

Despair and anger churn in Chanyeol’s stomach, and this time he knows they’re from Jongin.

“It’ll be fine, boys,” Seunghwan says, and Chanyeol resists the urge to tell Seunghwan he’s not that much older than they are. Dr. Bae grins at them both encouragingly, and Chanyeol, for the first time since this all started, realizes he’s kinda scared.

*

Chanyeol stuck close to Baekhyun when they got to the photo shoot. Chanyeol couldn’t believe that all of this stuff was starting to feel like routine. Some days, it seemed like it was only yesterday that they were on stage performing live for the first time. Other days, when Chanyeol was weary, it felt like it’d been years.

They were doing a shoot for Ivy Club. The girl they were shooting with, Kim Yujeong, was really cute, and arguably more famous than they were. Chanyeol had totally watched the entirety of ‘The Moon that Embraces the Sun’ with bated breath even as both Sehun and Kyungsoo had not-so-subtly hinted that his time might be better spent in a dance practice studio. Junmyeon and Baekhyun, though, had curled up next to him and watched too, and Jongin probably had been in a dance practice studio. That’s where Jongin had spent most of his time in those months when their teasers were being released one by one.

He watched Baekhyun and Kyungsoo shoot pictures together sitting on a desk, short legs out in front of them. Baekhyun moved carefully, always knowing exactly what each part of his body was doing; what made him look taller, and what made him look leaner. Chanyeol had watched him practice for hours in a mirror.

Chanyeol looked over at Jongin, who was waiting with Chanyeol for their turn, and wondered if Jongin had ever done that, or if the way his arms always fell into the most flattering angles was just a product of his natural grace.

As soon as the camera was on them instead of Baekhyun and Kyungsoo, Jongin transformed, the quiet frown on his face turning into that playful smirk Chanyeol sees in the footage of their performances. That was a Jongin that Chanyeol could barely recognize, because the Jongin he’d always known was far too contained to slide his jacket down like that, or smile like that.

Then again, despite years of knowing each other, Chanyeol didn’t know Jongin all that well at all.

So when Jongin leaned into his space, smiling up at him with curved lips and shining eyes, Chanyeol didn’t know how to react. He looked up at the camera and smiled as his heartbeat inexplicably quickened, and Jongin’s body pressed up against his own.

Jongin smelled like soap and that lavender shampoo he’d always liked, and Chanyeol leaned a little closer because it was, well, a good smell. The fabric of their blazers rubbed against each other, Jongin’s navy against his green, and Chanyeol knew they’d look nice, in the photo together. They’d look compatible in ways they weren’t in real life. The way Jongin was smiling at him, they’d look like friends.

It felt like no time had passed before he and Jongin were through. Chanyeol looked at Jongin and beamed at him, because the photographer seemed pleased at how Jongin and Chanyeol had worked together.

Jongin didn’t smile back though, that Kai smirk disappearing from his face even as Chanyeol’s held strong. “Cut it out,” Jongin said, crossing his arms and stepping back, putting a meter between them so quickly that Chanyeol had almost missed the movement entirely.

“What did I do wrong this time?” Chanyeol hadn’t meant to say it aloud. He bit down on his lip, a single curl slipping the grip of too much hairspray to fall into his face.

“I hate the way you smile the same way at everyone.” Jongin had his back to Chanyeol, now. “You smile exactly the same at the fans, at your friends, at people you don’t know. What does it even mean?”

“I don’t smile the same at everyone,” Chanyeol said, after a pause. “Maybe you aren’t paying attention.”

“I don’t want to pay attention,” Jongin replied, before stalking off to the bathroom, leaving Chanyeol restlessly tugging at the hem of his blazer as Kyungsoo patted him consolingly before following Jongin.

“Why is he always like this?” Chanyeol frowned down at his shoes, frustration and confusion crowding his thoughts. The pleasure at job well done faded at the reminder of one he constantly failed at.

“Because you’re infuriating,” Sehun said. “I can’t really blame him.”

Chanyeol shoved Sehun, and Baekhyun laughed. Chanyeol pouted at both of them. “He puts up with the both of you, and you’re both way more annoying than I am.”

Baekhyun shrugged. “Obviously, I am not Kim Jongin, so I cannot tell you why Kim Jongin acts the way he acts. But maybe you should let it go.”

“You’re just different,” Sehun said. “I know you have a compulsive need to make everyone like you, but there’s no use beating a dead horse.”

A dead horse was even more depressing than a constantly rolling boulder, and Chanyeol studied his shoes rather than watch the bathroom door for Jongin’s return.

It’s just that Chanyeol has always felt that he needed Jongin to like him, and he could never ascertain why.

*

“I don’t understand.”

“Well, you’ll need to touch a lot, right?” Baekhyun sounds calm as he folds up his sheets. “At weird hours and stuff. So we thought—Kyungsoo and I, I mean, thought maybe you guys should share a room. I moved most of my stuff already.”

“But I want to share a room with you,” Chanyeol says, because his and Baekhyun’s room is the one place where they can both be as silly and noisy as they want and it’s always felt like a safe space. Sharing a room with Jongin would be the opposite of a safe space, and Chanyeol wants his best friend there so he can throw pillows at him for giggling at three o’clock in the morning. “It feels like you’re breaking up with me.”

“Oh my god, Chanyeol, I’m not breaking up with you.” Baekhyun laughs and tosses a tee at Chanyeol’s head. Chanyeol dodges and throws it back. “It’s—We researched the whole soul bond thing. It sounds kind of like, I don’t know, getting married.”

“Only with less consent and more angst,” Chanyeol replies, curling his fingers into his own bedsheets. “Baekhyun, please save me. Don’t let Jongin murder me with his pointy square-lid edges.”

“I can’t save you,” Baekhyun says, jamming the T-shirt into an already full laundry basket. “I’m going to have to save myself. Kyungsoo will probably make me fold things.”

“Your life must be hard.” Chanyeol licks his lips and stares forlornly at Baekhyun’s rapidly disappearing piles of stuff. He likes their stuff. Their organized chaos. Who knows what Jongin is like as a roommate. All Chanyeol knows is that Jongin and Kyungsoo’s room is always spotless and that Jongin can’t stand the sound of Chanyeol’s voice. “Just stay here with me.” He knows he’s whining but he can’t stop.

“Chanyeol… I do not want to be here when the bond acts up.”

Chanyeol almost ignores Baekhyun to continue his valiant attempt at convincing his roommate to cease packing immediately, but something about the tone of Baekhyun’s voice gives him pause.

“What do you mean, acts up?”

Baekhyun stares at him for a moment, before he frowns. “Like, can you imagine if the bond like, did whatever it did and you guys had to hold hands in the middle of the night or something? It’d be easier if he were in the bed right next to yours. Remember at the hospital? Think about how much harder it all would have been if Jongin had been down the hall. Think of how many more people would have seen your bare ass.”

Baekhyun is talking too fast, like he’s avoiding actually answering the question, but Chanyeol lets it go. He can look it up later, on Naver or something. He’d seen a documentary on KBS once, when he was a kid, about soul bonded couples. The documentary had described those couples as lucky. Chanyeol doesn’t feel very lucky. “I guess.”

“This is the best we can do, Chanyeol,” Baekhyun says quietly. “Plus, you can’t get rid of me that easily! We’ll still be best buds, okay? Just best buds down the hall from each other.”

“Jongin doesn’t want to live with me, I can assure you.” It’s Chanyeol’s last-ditch attempt.

“How do you know that? Can you talk to each other with your minds?” Baekhyun asks, coming closer and sitting next to Chanyeol on the bed. He reaches up and grabs Chanyeol’s face so he can look into Chanyeol’s eyes. “Jongin, can you hear me?”

“No, he can’t.” Chanyeol pouts, and Baekhyun laughs, leaning closer to look more carefully.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes!” Chanyeol says, laughing now, and there’s a plummeting feeling in his stomach that isn’t his own. On instinct, Chanyeol turns toward the door to see Jongin standing there, with an armful of navy sheets.

He doesn’t say anything. He just walks in and drops the sheets on the bed and walks back out again. The look on his face is completely blank.

“Well,” Baekhyun says, as he drops his hands and stands up again, collecting his last basket-full of clothes and huffing as he takes it to the door. “Good luck.”

“Thanks,” Chanyeol says dryly, and Baekhyun winks at him as he walks out.

*

Dinner that night is quiet. Chanyeol shoves bite after bite of rice into his mouth without tasting any of it. All of them are quiet, Junmyeon occasionally telling jokes to lighten that atmosphere that fall flat.

It has to be weird for everyone, Chanyeol thinks, that he and Jongin now have this… thing, that neither of them understand and neither of them want. It’s not just Chanyeol and Jongin who are affected by it. Still, Chanyeol shrinks away from the weight of Kyungsoo’s concerned gaze as he looks only at his food, refusing to deal with the awkward silences or Jongin’s furious scowls.

Chanyeol excuses himself early because the tension is too high and he’s tired. He’s still got a bit of sleep debt, and he doubts it’s going to improve if the obstinate set to Jongin’s jaw is anything to go by.

He’s got an email in his inbox from Wu Fan.

"(´ ▽`).。oI hear you’ve gotten yourself into troubleヽ(愛´∀`愛)ノ", it says, and Chanyeol would normally laugh but… Now that he’s back in the dorms, and Baekhyun’s half of the room has been replaced with neatly organized knick knacks and navy sheets, the whole situation is starting to feel much more real.

Chanyeol swallows around the knot of fear in his throat, and closes his eyes. The snakes are back in his stomach, and Chanyeol can’t ignore the way they hiss and slide against the walls of his belly; an uncomfortable reminder that Chanyeol is now reliant on Jongin’s touch to feel okay in his own skin.

“Great,” he whispers to himself as he sends back "ヽ(o`皿′o)ノ"  before grabbing a book and climbing into bed. It’s still early, but Chanyeol doesn’t want to go back out to his band mates’ probing looks and Jongin’s sullen expressions. Every once in a while, he’ll feel a spike of Jongin’s emotions, and he’ll wonder who Jongin is talking to, but he stamps the curiosity down and tries to focus on his reading.

It’s another two hours before Jongin comes to bed. He walks into the room cautiously, like he thinks Chanyeol will be up to something weird, and seems surprised, for a moment, to see Chanyeol reading in bed. Chanyeol almost snorts, but looks down at his book instead, even though he’s only read four pages in the past half an hour because his body’s need for Jongin, along with the flashes of Jongin’s anger, make it hard to concentrate.

Jongin’s silent temper tantrum, now that he’s in the room and changing for bed, doesn’t help things. Chanyeol’s chest aches, and the snakes are back full-force. He knows the solution is to touch Jongin; to grab his hand and hold it until the bond stops acting fussy, but right now Chanyeol doesn’t think Jongin would let him, no matter how bad it hurts.

Jongin sighs again, audibly, and rearranges his covers, like they’re contaminated too, just being in the room with Chanyeol. He shift and adjusts as Chanyeol reads, and Chanyeol feels the snakes and the noises wearing his patience thin. Baekhyun’s tiny noises are pleasant, Chanyeol thinks, because Baekhyun is pleasant. Jongin’s noises are a constant reminder of how unhappy he is, and Chanyeol can’t do anything about it, so it grates.

“I get it, okay?” Chanyeol says, finally, and Jongin looks up at him from across the room. “I know you don’t want to be in here with me, but guess what? I don’t want to be in here with you. I want to play rock-paper-scissors with Baekhyun for who has to get up to turn off the light and I don’t want to feel guilty for breathing in my own room. I want to not feel this stupid pain in my chest, and I want my stomach to not be upset, and I want to go to sleep. So you can stop huffing at me and crossing your arms and glaring because I can’t change it any more than you can.”

Chanyeol’s out of breath, and he realizes he’s been sort of shouting. Jongin’s eyes have gone wide. Chanyeol bites his lip guiltily, feeling silly now that he’s said it, and also feeling silly for the prickling at the corners of his eyes. He’d decided, back when they were in the hospital, that he wasn’t going to pout or whine about this because Jongin would do enough of it for the both of them.

“Chanyeol-“

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have yelled.” Chanyeol turns over in bed, back facing Jongin, and pulls up his covers of his head. He’s pretty sure he’s mashing the pages of his paperback under his elbow, but at least with the covers over his head, he can’t hear Jongin’s tiny sighs anymore. He also doesn’t have to worry about the light.

“You’re always saying sorry,” Jongin says, and Chanyeol doesn’t acknowledge that he’s speaking. “I-“ Jongin pauses, and then Chanyeol can hear him get out of bed. There’s a dip as Jongin perches tentatively on the edge of Chanyeol’s bed, and Chanyeol can feel—remorse?—climbing up throat. Jongin’s feelings? It’s enough to make him look at his band mate, who is staring at the floor instead of at him. “I know you didn’t ask for this either.” Chanyeol moves so he’s lying on his back now, and Jongin finally meets his gaze. “It’s me who should be sorry.”

“Did you just apologize to me?” Chanyeol asks, and he feels a little bit of embarrassment, again not his, mixed in with his own shock, and he wonders how many of his emotions Jongin gets. If Jongin can feel how confused he is right now.

“You’ve never yelled at me before,” Jongin mumbles, and he pouts, like a child, and Chanyeol had no idea how to react. He stares, for a moment, and then he reaches out and grabs Jongin’s arm.

His blood sings at the touch, his heart stuttering and his chest easing as he slides his hand down to circle Jongin’s wrist. Jongin sags with relief, and Chanyeol pushes his luck and pulls Jongin down next to him. There’re Chanyeol’s covers between them, but he can still feel everywhere they are pressed together.

Before debut, when Baekhyun used to have nightmares about his voice cracking on stage, and stuff like that, Chanyeol used to drag Baekhyun into his bed and sleep curled up with him above the covers to soothe his dreams.

Jongin curled into him is different. Jongin’s warmer than Baekhyun, and longer, too. His calves bump into Chanyeol’s knees, and his back pushes into Chanyeol’s chest, shoulder blades digging in a little too hard. But the big difference is in the way Chanyeol feels. The bond pulses between them, and it’s like that spark on the airplane—Chanyeol’s whole body tingles, and the snakes recede as if they never were.

“I’m a person,” Chanyeol mumbles into Jongin’s hair. It still smells like lavender. It always has. “Of course I get angry.”

He expects Jongin to reply, but Jongin is already asleep, as easy as that. Chanyeol’s own eyes feel heavy. He considers, for a moment, if Jongin will get cold, because his feet are bare and he’s on top of the covers, but the comfort of his fingers wrapped around Jongin’s wrist, and his own drowsiness, quickly drags him into slumber.

When he wakes in the morning, Jongin is back in his own bed, but Chanyeol can still feel the bond thrumming between them, and he feels oddly—unnaturally—content.

“You look so much less upsetting today,” Baekhyun says to him the next day, as they sit side by side in the dressing room. Baekhyun’s gazing up at the ceiling as liner is applied to his waterline. “Your eyes are bright.”

Chanyeol blinks and curves his fingers around his knees. He can feels the bond even now; pulling on him, glowing white hot with lingering satisfaction even as Chanyeol tries not to flush at the memory of Jongin’s back digging into his front.

He thinks about it during the performance though, and he’s sure he almost misses far too many steps in their choreo. There are tiny flickers, as they dance, of Jongin’s sheer joy at it, though, and maybe that, more than anything else, keeps Chanyeol distracted.

The snakes in Chanyeol’s stomach don’t reappear at all, and Chanyeol doesn’t miss them.

*

Chanyeol frustratedly pulled at his hair, the dark strands sweaty between his fingers, and then he leaned over to start his music again.

“You’re still here,” said a voice, and Chanyeol jumped to find Jongin standing less than half a meter away.

“Still can’t get it right,” Chanyeol replied cheerfully, refusing to be discouraged. He started again, ignoring the way Jongin’s eyes took in every move.

“Just stop,” Jongin said, and Chanyeol swallowed, letting himself come to a halt. “This is unbearable.”

Jongin’s hands settled on his waist, and Chanyeol looked down at him with wide eyes.

“You have to follow through with your hips.” He jerked too hard, forcing Chanyeol’s hips to move under his hands, and Chanyeol felt the exasperation in the way Jongin’s fingers dug in too hard to Chanyeol’s skin. “That’s why you’re off a count.”

“Thank you,” Chanyeol said, and Jongin stepped back quickly, as though Chanyeol were contagious. He grinned happily at Jongin, and Jongin turned away.

Chanyeol squatted down, restarting the music.

“I hate that you never get tired,” Jongin said, and Chanyeol rubbed at the sweat on his face with them hem of his shirt, trying to catch it before it went into his sensitive eyes.

“I’m tired right now!” Chanyeol said, feeling exhaustion all the way down to his bones. “But I’m not very good at this.” He gestured vaguely at his legs, and mentally ran through the dance steps one more time. “So I have to keep going.”

*

He discovers things, about the bond, during the first week after their release from the hospital. Like how when Kyungsoo rests his fingers on Jongin’s arm, Chanyeol can feel the ghost of that touch on his own arm. Or how, when Chanyeol presses his forehead to Baekhyun’s when they have those weird staring contests to see who can go the longest without blinking, Chanyeol has to fend off an inexplicable lurch in his stomach that he can never pin down to Jongin or the bond.

Most importantly, Chanyeol discovers that the more time they try to spend apart, in different rooms, without looking at each other, the quicker the snakes return to their nest in his stomach, only to calm when he and Jongin’s eyes meet across the dinner table or they brush against each other as they exit the stage.

Jongin remains an enigma, and Chanyeol remains unable to bridge the distance, but the bond seems determined to force them together, and Chanyeol is powerless to stop it, no matter how hard Jongin fights to stay away.

*

When he gets back from taking a shower, feeling clean and comfortable in his pajamas, he finds Jongin standing between their beds. Through the bond, Chanyeol can only feel resentment.

“Are you angry about something?” Chanyeol asks, more careful than he would be with anyone else. He sits down on his bed, careful not to step into Jongin’s space on his way there.

He wonders if Jongin can feel Chanyeol’s trepidation the same way he can feel Jongin’s sulkiness.

“No,” Jongin replies, and then he looks between the two beds again, and there it is—the tightness in Chanyeol’s chest that’s coming to be too familiar, and the unsettled feeling in his stomach that means his body is tired of distance between them.

“You could-“ Chanyeol says, and Jongin’s shoulders tense. “You could just…” Chanyeol looks down at the second pillow at the head of his bed. It’s an invitation that he’s not sure Jongin will take. It’s been a week, and Jongin has staunchly refused to acknowledge that he had slept in Chanyeol’s bed the first time “Only if you wanted, I mean.”

Jongin observes him, eyebrows knitted together, and Chanyeol feels awash in confusion that isn’t his own.

“Because we slept so well,” Chanyeol continues. “And it was nice. To sleep.” He feels ridiculous, but he knows Jongin will never bring it up.

Jongin takes another skittish step closer, and it’s a bit like Chanyeol is trying to lure a rabbit into a trap, but Jongin is no rabbit.

Jongin sits down on the edge of the bed, still not touching Chanyeol at all. There are only a few centimeters between their hands, though, and Chanyeol feels the bond react, hot and strong, to Jongin’s closeness. It’s not as if they’d never touched before this, but it’s different, now. Everything is different.

“This is so crazy,” Jongin says. “This situation is so crazy.”

“Yeah,” Chanyeol says, and he laughs. It’s the kind of laugh that happens more because if he doesn’t laugh he’ll start to shake. “I still don’t even know what’s going on; not really. I think everyone else knows more than we do.”

“We should look it up,” Jongin says. “Do some research. Find out how long it’s going to feel like this-“ He stops. Chanyeol wonders what they’ll do if the answer is forever. Before the uncertainty has the chance to stick its claws in too deep, Jongin resumes voicing his fractured thoughts. “We’re not even friends.”

They aren’t. Chanyeol’s tried, and he sometimes replays their first meeting in his head over and over again, trying to figure out ways it could have gone right. But it didn’t, wouldn’t have, because Chanyeol never does anything right when it comes to Jongin.

“What if I’d never spit tea on you, the first time we’d met?” Chanyeol asks, and Jongin laughs at him. “Then would we be friends?” It’s a dumb question. He scratches at his ear.

“Then you wouldn’t be Park Chanyeol.” Jongin seems amused, the same way he is when Sehun wins portions of Junmyeon’s lunch by feigning cuteness; a smile that shows the full line of his upper teeth, white and square and straight. “That was so gross, by the way. You’re basically a human accident.”

“I was surprised!”

“You’re also just clumsy.” Chanyeol can think of a hundred instances where he’s tripped over his own two feet, plowing into a band mate or a wall or into nothing at all.

“I have balance issues. Sometimes.” Chanyeol awkwardly rubs at his hair, wet from the shower. “You know I haven’t always been this tall.” Chanyeol’s growth spurt had been unexpected.

“It’s been long enough that you shouldn’t fall off stage.”

“I don’t fall off stage!”

“Fall on-stage, then,” Jongin says, smirking. It’s not all that funny, but Chanyeol laughs anyway. He’s not sure if it’s because Jongin looks so smug, or if it’s because the knot of tension in his chest is slowly untangling because Jongin is talking to him, actually talking to him, about something frivolous, for the first time in a long time.

“Don’t pick on me,” Chanyeol says, and Jongin’s eyes are so soft. Chanyeol slides his hand closer so that their pinkies touch, and he shivers at the thrill that goes him at the contact. It doesn’t matter now that he and Jongin don’t always need to touch, because when they do it makes him feel like he’s flying. Soul bonds can do funny things, Chanyeol guesses, like make Jongin link their pinkies together.

“I’m not,” Jongin says, and his voice is raspy now. He’s no longer looking at Chanyeol; instead, he’s studying his knees. “I guess we’re really roommates now.” The way he says roommates is heavy, and Chanyeol knows Jongin means they’ll be sharing a lot more than the four walls of this room.

“I guess we are,” Chanyeol says, and he misses Baekhyun’s chatter already.

But then Jongin lies down, something tentative yet strangely open about the look on his face, and Chanyeol feels… he’s not sure, but it’s like molten chocolate, almost. Sweet and soft and hot.

Chanyeol lies next to him, and Jongin’s face is close enough to his own that he can count the pores on the other boy’s nose.

“I hate your skin,” Jongin says. “How is it so clear?” His breath moves Chanyeol’s eyelashes, and this shouldn’t be okay, Chanyeol thinks. This shouldn’t feel right. But it does, even though Jongin is frowning at him. They only actually touch where their hands overlap and where their knees bump, but for Chanyeol, it is as if they touch everywhere, his entire body tingling and humming with the strength of the bond.

Chanyeol considers a joke about moisturizers, or superior genetics, or maybe something about his sweat being more pure, but instead, he’s honest. “Luck,” Chanyeol replies. “It’s all luck of the draw.” Jongin’s eyelids flutter. “Do you feel that too?” Chanyeol asks, before he remembers not to push things, but Jongin just closes his eyes and nods, cheeks going pink and a jumble of feelings falling into Chanyeol and getting all tangled up with his own. Jongin’s breath smells like cinnamon, and Chanyeol’s own mint clashes, and Chanyeol laughs to himself that they can’t even agree on toothpaste. And Chanyeol is too circular, Jongin too square, to link their fingers together, but he does it anyway because the bond is egging him on. “I do,” Jongin says, and this, Chanyeol thinks, is really fucked up, as Jongin’s palm sweats against his own.

They don’t talk about it in the morning, just like they still haven’t talked about the kiss in the kitchen or the long winding road ahead of them. But Chanyeol’s eyelids aren’t heavy as he goes through the day’s schedule, and Jongin’s occasional glances at him are more confused and less upset, and that’s enough for now.

"duizhang, i miss you!!!! please save me from jongin!!!" Chanyeol mails, and Wu Fan’s customary ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ emoticon doesn’t make Chanyeol feel as happy as it usually does, because unlike most of Chanyeol’s problems, Wu Fan’s support isn’t likely to solve anything about this one.

*

“Don’t touch me,” Jongin said. “I hate it when you touch me.”

“But it’s okay when other people touch you?” Chanyeol asked. Chanyeol always touched. It was his nature.

“Yeah,” Jongin said. “But not you. Because you touch everyone.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“Nothing you do means anything,” Jongin said, and he puffed out his cheeks with air in a way that wasn’t cool at all.

Chanyeol disagreed, but it didn’t really matter.



part iii


From:
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

 
Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.

Profile

maayacolabackup

December 2012

S M T W T F S
      1
2 345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031     

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 22nd, 2017 03:14 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios