[personal profile] maayacolabackup



Title: make a day feel like a minute (the HEAVY NOIZE mix)
Pairing: Baekhyun/Chanyeol (breakfast ship)
Rating: PG-13
Summary: [30k] Chanyeol doesn’t want to ‘get to know’ the guy who comes to every show dressed in a bright gold jacket and carrying a glittery sign with Chanyeol’s name on it. Except, well, he kind of does. (It is a bitchin’ jacket.)
Notes: This is AU. And also this is crazy. And it is for [livejournal.com profile] tinybars, who prompted it on my tumblr all nonchalant like I wasn’t going to write it. She clearly doesn’t know me.

This is possibly the fluffiest thing I have ever written.

Thanks to Saya for beta and to Chanyeol for his face.



*

Chanyeol's hair sticks to his face in the oppressive heat of the club. The summer is humid, and it's stifling down in the basement of MACHINE, where Heavy Noize plays their weekly gigs in front a packed crowd. Chanyeol wishes they could play in a place that has air conditioning, but he supposes beggars can’t be choosers.

"A man could fry under these lights," Chanyeol says, and Kyungsoo nods, wide eyes taking in their excited, mostly drunk audience. Kyungsoo, Chanyeol thinks, is not the sort of guy you expect to find in this sort of band. He’s got the sort of naivety in his expression that makes him look more like a kid playing dress-up than any sort of true rebel. “I feel like an anti-drug commercial. Fried ‘eggs’.”

“This is your brain,” Suho says. “And this is your brain on drugs.”

“Despite appearances, we’re thankfully not that sort of band,” Chanyeol says. “I’ve got classes to pass.”

“Don’t we all,” Kyungsoo says. “Some of us are pre-med.”

“I can see it now,” Suho says, before he clasps his hands in front of him like a soap opera actress. “Dr. Do, why are you looking at me like that? Am I about to die?!”

“That’s just how my eyes are,” Kyungsoo says, but Sehun clears his throat.

"That guy's here again," Sehun says, narrowing his eyes out at the audience as he tunes his bass. "The one with all the shiny clothes. Gold Jacket Guy." His slight lisp whistles over the consonants. “Chanyeol, do you pay him to come?”

"I swear I don't know him," Chanyeol says, drinking his room-temperature water and gargling it. His throat’s a little sore. He's had to carry the main weight of the low-range vocals ever since Kris had left to join up with his other band on a more regular basis, and Chanyeol's vocal chords are paying the price.

He looks out into the crowd, and sure enough, he spots the guy, with his reddish hair a few shades darker than Chanyeol's own (and infinitely better conditioned, if Chanyeol's honest with himself), and that glittery gold jacket that makes Chanyeol simultaneously feel curious about where he bought it and like he might be having a seizure.

"I think he wants to know you, though," Suho says, and he tugs on the neck of his gray t-shirt. It's sticking to his chest with sweat down here in the sauna that passes as their favorite venue, but Suho seems mostly unfazed, the teasing expression on his face only made more annoying under the outdated stage lights. "If you know what I mean." Waggling eyebrows complete the innuendo, and to his horror, Chanyeol can feel the faint beginnings of a blush, and he can’t stop himself from playing with his hands, twisting his fingers around each other to dispel excess energy.

"I have no clue what you mean," Chanyeol says firmly, averting his eyes. He tries to find a safe point in the crowd, but his eyes keep gravitating back to that eyesore of a jacket, and Chanyeol scowls. "Do you know what he means, Kyungsoo?"

"I never know what anyone means," Kyungsoo says. "It's safer that way."

"Hey Eggs," Kai says, hopping up onto the stage with a cup of ice, "the pretty boy with the hots for you is in the audience again."

"Ugh, stop," Chanyeol says, but he can't help but snicker, because really, who is Kai to talk about someone being a pretty boy? "I don't care. Everyone thinks I’m attractive, because I am. There’s nothing special about that."

Kai pops an ice-cube into his mouth, and Sehun childishly opens his mouth to ask for one too. Kai shoves one between Sehun's lips, and Sehun sighs and smiles as he sucks on it. "Anyway, glad I didn't paint my face today, with that tribal pattern, like I’d planned. I knew it'd be too hot." Kai's just wearing the minimal amount of eyeliner tonight, and a conservative shirt for him. There are only a few holes scattered across the front and up under the arm, and Chanyeol can’t even see his nipples today.

It’s nothing like Chanyeol's shirt, which Chanyeol's mom keeps telling him should have been thrown in the trash about six years before he was born. "It's vintage," he used to tell her, back in high school when he still lived at home, and she rolled her eyes every time he left the house wearing it. She’d rolled her eyes about most of the stuff he wore, though, so he'd learned to ignore it. Chanyeol looks great, anyway, despite his hair.

"Whatever," Suho says. "You totally just chickened out." He fluffs Kai's hair and laughs. "Baby Jongin, so shy off-stage."

"You know who isn't shy?" Kai ambles around his drum-set to sit behind it. Chanyeol can remember when he’d first started teaching him how to play. "Chanyeol. No one likes Chanyeol better than Chanyeol. He should make a friend."

"Why?" Chanyeol says, and Sehun smiles at him innocently, a hint of mischief at the corner of his lips that implies naughty things Chanyeol would prefer to pretend their youngest doesn’t know about. "Unless he can sing Kris’s parts in the songs, I've got no use for him."

"We’ve got it worked out; I'm the singer." Kyungsoo crinkles his nose. "And you're the screamer. It works, even without Kris."

"It'd be nice to have a third voice," Suho admits. "And someone else who played guitar."

"Six members is too many for a band, anyway," Kai says. "We'll be alright. It's not like Kris is gone forever."

"Anyway," Chanyeol says. "I'm not making friends with a guy that stands in the audience of our lives and holds up a glitter-covered sign with my name on it." Chanyeol starts to frown again, but he can't decide between laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation and scowling, so his face twists into an uncomfortable mix of the two.

"What did your face even do a second ago?" Suho says. "While you were talking, it was sort of like your face was having a stroke."

"Leave me alone," Chanyeol replies, hooking an arm over Kyungsoo's shoulder and rolling back and forth between his heels and the balls of his feet. Kyungsoo sighs with empathy, and gingerly pats Chanyeol’s back.

"Too hot for touching," he whines, but doesn't shrug Chanyeol's arm away. "Are we all set?"

"Tuned," Sehun says.

They all get into position, Kai doing a few tests with the cymbals, which quiets the crowd enough for Chanyeol to step up to the mic. Suho is the leader, but Chanyeol is the voice.

"Yo, what’s up guys?" Chanyeol says, and the crowd screams. "How’re you guys doing tonight?"

This is what Chanyeol loves. As awkward and silly as he is offstage, he loves the way crowds quiet when they hear his low voice rippling over them. What Chanyeol loves most is to play the drums, but there’s a joy in singing, too. In everyone stopping to listen.

"This is Heavy Noize!" And there are more screams. "You guys ready to rock tonight?!"

Chanyeol's eyes scan the crowd, and almost against his will, his gaze locks with Gold Jacket Guy’s. Chanyeol doesn't notice his jacket, or the sign; not really. What he does notice is the guy’s pretty, pretty eyes.

"Let's go," Chanyeol says into the mic, and then Sehun comes in with the bass, and Kyungsoo's singing the first verse, and Chanyeol...

Chanyeol, for the first time, is watching Gold Jacket Guy, who, Chanyeol is pleased to note, knows all the words.

By the time they finish the first set, Chanyeol is drenched in sweat, and he feels kind of like a sheepdog in summer with the way his wavy hair clings to his forehead and cheeks.

Leeteuk, one of the bartenders, walks up to the stage and hands them each a bottle of water. “Sounding good,” he says. “Jonghyun’s bitching about the fact that he’s on duty upstairs tonight.”

“There’s always next week,” Kyungsoo pants, setting his mic down and reaching for a bottle.

The audience is loud, and the buzz covers their private conversations during the short break. Chanyeol guzzles half of his water and pours the rest over his face, and loves the way it feels when it slips down his shirt and onto his chest; a slight reprieve from the heat.

“Not sure if that shirt will make it through the whole show,” Suho says, smirking. “You should probably retire it.”

“You sound like my mom,” Chanyeol says, and his voice rasps. Not good, he thinks, and he squints out at the audience. People are getting drunker, even some that are so young they shouldn’t be, so it’s probably alright if the vocals get a little scratchy.

“You should listen to your mom,” Suho says, and Kai snorts.

“Leader, you sound like an old man. Sehun and I are just college freshmen; we can’t keep up with your grandfatherly advice.”

“My mom is not anything near old,” Chanyeol says half-heartedly, but neither Suho nor Kai are paying attention to him now.

“I’m not old,” Suho replies, speaking over Chanyeol. “I’m just wiser than Chanyeol, here, who is wearing what I’m pretty sure is the sad remnants of two washcloths stuck together with hot glue, and I’m only trying to look out for his virtue-“

“Oh my god,” Kai replies. “Soon you’re going to be saying things like back in my day, we actually went to nine am classes, and knew who N*Sync was-

“Shut up, Jongin,” Suho says.

“I liked N*Sync,” Kyungsoo mutters, and Chanyeol shakes the water out of his eyes.

“You’ve been paying a lot of attention to your admirer tonight,” Sehun says, distracting Chanyeol from the others’ banter.

“How can I not?” Chanyeol murmurs, hoping Suho is too caught up with Kai and Kyungsoo to overhear their conversation. “He’s lit up like a disco ball.”

“Mmm,” Sehun says, and then winks. “Not more than any other Friday night.”

“If you say so,” Chanyeol counters. “Honestly, I think I just feel him looking at me. Naturally.”

“If you say so,” Sehun says, and then it’s time to go back on.

Chanyeol makes a point not to look at Gold Jacket Guy during the second half of the show. Instead, he focuses on a familiar co-ed in the front row and making her day by smiling at her repeatedly as he and Kyungsoo carry the show forward.

When all is said and done, (”Ladies and drunkards, this has been Heavy Noize,” Chanyeol screams, and Suho thanks everyone for coming politely, like he’s a math professor or something) and Leeteuk is emptying out the basement, hustling people out with business-like efficiency, Chanyeol sits on the edge of the stage, leaning back and resting his weight on his hands, trying to cool off.

“Killer show tonight, dude,” Jonghyun says, making his way downstairs. “Twitter is exploding with everyone who was here from campus tonight.”

“Are you ever not on Twitter?” Kai asks, and Jonghyun gives him the finger. “I mean, besides when you go to the gym.”

“Not when I’ve got the late shift upstairs,” Jonghyun replies. “Usually just prissy sorority girls and Kibeom from that fashion boutique two streets over come in, because they can’t study slash create without their overpriced coffee at eleven pm.”

“The show felt good tonight,” Chanyeol says, and he rubs his stomach through the gaping hole at his navel. “Even if it’s hot as balls in here.”

“We’re but a poor venue,” Leeteuk says. “Air conditioning is expensive.”

“Someone is going to die down here someday,” Kyungsoo says. “Lawsuits are more expensive than air conditioning.”

“I’ve been telling that to old man SM for years,” Leeteuk says. “But this isn’t one of his reputable places, you know?”

“Of course it isn’t,” Suho says. “They let Chanyeol in here, don’t they?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Chanyeol says, scratching at the side of his face. He feels slow, and like his arms and legs are too long for his body for some reason, exhaustion wringing him out to dry. “I’m tired.” Still, there’s a bit of the buzz from a fun show lingering in his muscles, and he feels a little like sleeping and dancing at the same time.

“You can sleep late tomorrow, though,” Kyungsoo says. “Right?”

“No,” Chanyeol says. “I’ve got to work on my photography project with Lu Han.”

“Then get out of here, kid,” Leeteuk says. “Get some sleep.”

Chanyeol peels himself off the stage, and grabs the backpack that Kyungsoo thoughtfully passes him, from what passes as backstage for them.

“Thanks,” Chanyeol says. “You coming?”

“No,” Kyungsoo says. “I promised Kai I would watch subtitled French movies with him for his film class tonight.”

“Cool,” Chanyeol says, knowing that they’ll probably just end up watching dubbed cartoons and Kyungsoo will come home at the crack of dawn, and he waves goodbye, punching Jonghyun, who’s glued to his phone, in the arm as he leaves.

It’s significantly cooler outside, and Chanyeol sort of hates the way the sweat cools in the evening air, leaving his skin sticky and tight. He can’t wait to shower, so he can feel something like human again. It’s only a five minute subway ride and three minute walk back to his dorm, where he and Kyungsoo share a room; a little farther than Kai and Sehun’s dorm, more toward the center of campus. Ten minutes, and then Chanyeol can turn the shower on to cold, cold, cold, and wash the perspiration from his hair and…

“You were really good tonight,” says a smooth, light voice, and Chanyeol looks to his left. Gold Jacket Guy is there, leaning against the side of the building with his hands in his pockets.

“Thanks,” Chanyeol says, because what else is he supposed to say?

“You’re welcome,” Gold Jacket Guy says, and he smiles. It’s almost as blinding as his jacket, Chanyeol realizes, before he shakes his head to clear it.

“Where’s your sign?” Chanyeol blurts before he can think better of it, and Gold Jacket Guy laughs, and oh, Chanyeol thinks, that’s even nicer than his voice.

“Lost it in the shuffle.” Gold Jacket Guy straightens, pushing off from the wall. The rest of his outfit is pretty normal, Chanyeol notices. There’s a bit of glitter on his expensive jeans, though. Probably from the sign. “It’s not a big deal. It served its purpose.”

“What was its purpose?” Chanyeol shifts his backpack to a more comfortable position, and the guy steps a little closer. There’s still about two meters between them. He’s shorter than Chanyeol, but that’s no surprise. Most people are. Chanyeol’s sister used to jokingly tell him to stop drinking so much milk, but Chanyeol had just kept growing and growing. Sometimes he still feels awkward, but it doesn’t carry over to the stage, so he doesn’t really care.

“You noticed me, didn’t you?” Gold Jacket Guy smiles again, almost shyly, and it’s… well, it’s really pretty. But Chanyeol needs to go home, and get sleep, and not stand here and talk to pretty stalkers in front of MACHINE.

“You didn’t need the sign for that,” Chanyeol says, shifting his weight. He’s not sure why he feels comfortable enough to speak, but he does. Something about Gold Jacket Guy is soothing, despite his copious amounts of black eyeliner. “We call you Gold Jacket Guy.”

Gold Jacket Guy laughs again, and slips his hands back into his pockets, a little like he’s nervous. “My name’s Baekhyun,” Gold Jacket Guy offers, and Chanyeol mulls it over in his head. It’s a nice name. Baekhyun. Memorable. It suits him.

Chanyeol is thinking crazy thoughts. It’s time for bed.

“Well, it was nice to meet you, Baekhyun.” Chanyeol shakes his hair out of his eyes, and Baekhyun’s smile grows a little larger. “What?”

“You look like a lost puppy when you do that,” he says, and Chanyeol gapes at him. Baekhyun winces when he realizes what he’s said, and his hands come up and wave around apologetically. “Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean to say that. I guess I’m just a little off-balance.” He has nice hands, Chanyeol notices. Strong, with long fingers that are perfect for the piano.

“You’re off-balance?” Chanyeol thinks that’s weird, since he’s the one who’s been sort of ambushed, here.

“Yeah,” Baekhyun says. “I’ve… well, I’ve never quite managed to muster up the courage to stay behind to talk to you.” His cheeks are tinged a dull red under the faint streetlight. And between that and his jacket, he’s a dazzling sight. “I’ve wanted to, before, but I never really… Never mind, you don’t care.” Baekhyun studies the ground.

“I do,” Chanyeol says, and he’s surprised that he means it. “It’s… well, it’s nice that you come to every show.” Baekhyun swallows, and licks at his lips. They’re faintly shiny, with what Chanyeol thinks might be a pink gloss. He’s not sure, because it’s too dark. “I really do have to go, though.” He’s surprised by the slight reluctance in his voice.

“Oh, of course you do,” Baekhyun says, and his arm comes up to scratch the back of his neck. “Anyway, thanks for not being weirded out. You know.”

“Yeah,” Chanyeol says. “Sure.”

Chanyeol doesn’t look back as he walks away, but there’s a faint tugging in his chest that makes him think he wants to.

Later, when he’s out of the shower and lying in his pajamas on his bed, lights out, looking at the ceiling aimlessly, his mind keeps wandering back to the way Gold Jacket Guy had smiled, slow and sweet. He hasn’t felt like this since…

“Chanyeol, you are crazy,” he says aloud to himself, but as he falls to sleep, he’s thinking about the rich sound of Baekhyun’s laugh.

*

“I’m really sorry, Chanyeol,” Lu Han says, bringing Chanyeol another cup of bubble tea. “I really thought I’d be off today, but Tiffany is sick and…”

“Couldn’t Sehun come in?” Chanyeol whines, because he’s so tired, and a tired Chanyeol is a whiny Chanyeol.

“I called him but he didn’t answer. He’s probably asleep.” Lu Han shrugs, and reties his baby-blue apron a little tighter. Tenren’s is emblazoned in dark green across the chest, along with a tiny picture of a tealeaf.

“I should be asleep,” Chanyeol says. “We had a gig last night.”

“I know,” Lu Han says. “I was surprised you agreed to meet so early.” Lu Han grins at him, and Chanyeol knows he can’t stay mad, because Lu Han smiles like he’s a perfect angel and gets away with everything.

Chanyeol knows the truth, which is that Lu Han is totally evil, and that once, he’d talked Sehun into turning all of Kai’s underwear pink because Kai had teased him about how his new blond hair made him look thirteen. Kai had been livid, but Lu Han had just smiled and it had all blown over more quickly than Chanyeol could believe.

“I wanted my afternoon free,” Chanyeol admits, taking a sip of his sour apple bubble tea. “I was going to go visit my sister.”

“Sorry,” Lu Han says again, but Chanyeol just shrugs, fiddling with his straw. His camera sits on the counter next to him, a new roll of film loaded and ready. The photography project is due on Thursday, and Lu Han had agreed to be his model. Chanyeol had chosen Lu Han because he’s ninety-nine percent sure it’s impossible to take a bad picture of the guy, and Lu Han’s secretly sort of vain so it had been a perfect arrangement. “Can’t you find someone else?”

“The rest of my friends are also in my band,” Chanyeol says. “You know that. I’d feel terrible waking them up.”

“That’s reasonable,” Lu Han says, before he excuses himself to take another customer’s order. Chanyeol watches him fix a cup of tea behind the counter with drowsy eyes.

He’s almost nodded off by the time Lu Han saunters back over to him. “You look exhausted. You should go back to sleep.” Lu Han crosses his arms. “Although Sehun said you’d left by midnight last night, so you should have gotten at least eight hours.”

“Why are you talking to freshmen on the phone after midnight?” Chanyeol waggles his eyebrows and Lu Han grins at him in a way that promises him pain at the same time as it makes Chanyeol want to buy Lu Han a cupcake. “And, ah, I got a little held up on my way out.”

“Held up?” Lu Han leans forward on the counter, locking his hands together and focusing in on Chanyeol like he knows there’ll be gossip. “I didn’t hear about that.”

“I finally met Gold Jacket Guy.” Chanyeol takes a big sip of his tea, and almost chokes on a tapioca ball as he swallows. “His name’s Baekhyun.”

“Baekhyun, huh?” Lu Han raises a brow. “I thought you had no interest in meeting Gold Jacket Guy.”

“I didn’t. I don’t. It was a short conversation.” Chanyeol pushes a hand through his hair and sighs at how tangled it is. “I never should have gotten this perm.”

“I don't know,” Lu Han says. “It’s endearing in an ‘I just got electrocuted’ kind of way.” Lu Han laughs as Chanyeol grimaces at him. “But more importantly, how could a short conversation with a person you had no intention of talking to turn into hours of lost sleep? I’m missing the connection.”

“Well,” Chanyeol says, and it’s embarrassing so he looks down at the marble countertop instead of at his friend. “I sort of….thoughtabouthimforlikethreehoursafterIgotoutoftheshower.” He smushes the words together, but Lu Han understands him perfectly, like he always does when Chanyeol says something humiliating, and snickers quietly to himself.

“Oh, I see,” Lu Han says, and then he looks up as the chime on the door sounds, signaling that someone else has walked into the bubble tea shop.

“It’s not like that. You know I’m not looking. And not at guys, especially.”

“You never know," Lu Han says. "A man might just sweep you off your feet someday." He wrinkles his nose. "It’s not like you’re not interested. Are you ever going to get over-“ Lu Han remembers he has a job, all of a sudden, and exhales heavily. “Hold that thought. Duty calls.”

Chanyeol lazily follows Lu Han’s slow amble to the other end of the counter, and his eyes fall on the new customer, who is wearing an oversized sleeveless hoodie and a pair of expensive, tailored jeans with faint traces of glitter on the thighs, like someone had wiped their hands on them.

They’re nice jeans. They’re also familiar jeans, and Chanyeol’s stomach does a little flop, like a fish out of water. “I’ll have a lychee black tea?” Baekhyun says, and Chanyeol’s mouth is dry as he studies him.

Despite the fact that it’s eight in the morning, Baekhyun’s eyeliner is perfectly applied, and his hair is styled like he’s about to be on television. Chanyeol feels a little homeless just sitting three chairs away from him. Baekhyun doesn’t glance over in his direction, though. He has a book open in front of him, and he seems completely absorbed in it. Thankfully, he hasn’t noticed Chanyeol, who is pretty sure he’s got something living in his hair, and he’s wearing a tank top that says ‘Cookie Monster’ on the front in bright blue furry letters and that has a half-torn-out hem.

“What are you staring at?” Lu Han says quietly, after he sets a glass in front of Baekhyun, who looks up briefly to flash a breathtaking smile.

“Gold Jacket Guy,” Chanyeol says numbly.

“Ohhhhh,” Lu Han says, in a secretive whisper. “Why do people never mention that Gold Jacket Guy is hot?”

“Um,” Chanyeol says. “I guess he is.” He nonchalantly drinks. “I mean, he’s no me, but…”

“Oh my god, this is serious; you’re noticing that people other than you are physically attractive. So that’s why you were thinking about him, huh? All that eyeliner making your heart go badump badump?” Lu Han exaggeratedly mimes a cartoonish heart beating out of his chest, and Chanyeol groans softly, careful not to be heard.

“No,” Chanyeol says, as petulantly as he can while still speaking in a whisper, and then he pouts, pushing out both lips in what Kai calls his ‘airhead expression’. “It’s more that his laugh is-“ Chanyeol catches himself, stopping the words before he can sound even more silly. “Never mind.”

“Oh no, do go on.”

“I hate you.”

“Is that any way to talk to an old friend?” Lu Han’s laugh is loud enough to make Baekhyun look up from his book, and his eyes widen comically when he sees Chanyeol sitting three seats down from him at the counter. He looks flustered, and his mouth drops into a tiny ‘o’ of surprise.

“Hi,” Chanyeol says sheepishly, and Baekhyun’s eyes flicker up and down, taking in the whole horrific package as Chanyeol squirms with discomfort. “Fancy seeing you here.”

Baekhyun’s eyebrows climb his face dramatically, and Chanyeol notices that they’re tweezed into a perfect arch. He closes his mouth and then he taps his long, pretty fingers on the countertop. “I’m not following you, I swear,” he says, and Chanyeol blinks at him, twice.

“I’m Lu Han,” Lu Han says, sticking out his hand, forcing Baekhyun to scoot closer two seats to shake it. “You’re Gold Jacket Guy. Nice to meet you.”

“You too,” Baekhyun says. “Your friends really do call me Gold Jacket Guy.” He blushes, and turns to look at Chanyeol again, and Chanyeol feels a little like it would be awesome if the floor would open up and swallow him alive.

“So do I,” Chanyeol says. “I didn’t know your name.”

“So I’ll just leave you guys to talk,” Lu Han says, and he walks around the counter to walk to one of the tables closer to the door, presumably to talk with the cute girl that comes in every Saturday that Lu Han flirts with and Sehun hates.

“He’s friendly.” Baekhyun sounds dubious.

“You’re right to be suspicious,” Chanyeol says, smiling despite his anxiousness. “I think he might secretly be evil incarnate.”

“But he’s so cute?” Baekhyun looks over his shoulder to glance at Lu Han again. “He doesn’t really look evil.”

“That’s the magic of it,” Chanyeol says. “One minute you’re mesmerized by his baby face and the next you’ve got a cake-fork sticking out of your back and you’re apologizing to him for it.”

“Ah,” Baekhyun says. “I see.” He closes his book, and leans on his elbow, resting his cheek on his open palm and staring at Chanyeol. “Nice shirt.” His eyes dart to the side for a moment as he said it, blush getting a little darker.

“I don’t usually walk around looking like I crawled out of a gutter, I swear.” Chanyeol fretfully finger combs his hair again, and then realizes he’s preening and grabs a handful of his jeans instead, trying not to fidget. Baekhyun just watches him with a slowly growing smile.

“You look cute.” Baekhyun’s gaze fixates somewhere past Chanyeol as he says it, but when he’s finished, he seems to check Chanyeol’s face for a reaction to his words.

“You have low standards.” Chanyeol licks his lips, holding back nervous laughter, and Baekhyun’s eyes take in the camera.

“You like taking pictures?” He sounds genuinely curious, and not like it’s an idle question.

“It’s for a project.” Chanyeol picks up the camera on a whim, and snaps a photo. It’s not a digital camera, so he doesn’t know how it’ll turn out, but he’s got a good feeling about it. Baekhyun looks surprised, or maybe his eyes just widen from the flash. “I have to take a bunch of photos of a human subject.”

“Well, I am human,” Baekhyun says. “So I suppose I qualify.” He relaxes a bit, and looks like Chanyeol’s sister does when she wants to ruffle Chanyeol’s hair, which Chanyeol both hates and kind of wants.

It’s weird, so Chanyeol shoves the feeling down.

"But yes, I'm into photography, sometimes," Chanyeol says. He scratches at his cheek anxiously, and licks his lips. "You know, for my university newspaper. I go to Hongdae, so... And I’m taking a class."

“Core requirement?”

‘Yeah,” Chanyeol says. “Learning how to do things I already know how to do for a credit.”

“You have useful talents,” Baekhyun says, stirring his tea with the large straw.

“Isn’t applying eyeliner a talent?” Chanyeol finishes his tea with a loud, unattractive slurp, and tries not to look at Baekhyun, who doesn’t look nearly as nervous as he looked five minutes ago.

It’s Chanyeol who is uneasy, nails digging into his thighs through his jeans.

“One you could probably afford to learn, considering your band’s image,” Baekhyun replies. “I could teach you some time…” Now he sounds tense again.

Chanyeol shifts, and Baekhyun takes another sip of his tea. Chanyeol watches three dark balls of tapioca travel up the semi-translucent blue straw.

“So,” Baekhyun says, breaking the awkward silence. “Are you meeting your ‘human subject’ here? I’m surprised you’re up this early after your gig.”

“You’re up,” Chanyeol says, and Baekhyun shrugs.

“I also don’t look like I’d rather be asleep.” It’s a fair point, and Chanyeol can’t help but want to try again to tame his fluffy mop of hair and maybe brush his teeth again just so Baekhyun doesn’t seem so much more put together than he’ll ever be. Chanyeol’s too attractive to feel insecure next to anyone, seriously.

“It was supposed to be Lu Han,” Chanyeol says, gesturing to his friend, who’s now leaned halfway over Saturday-Girl’s table, and she’s looking at him with hearts in her eyes. “But Tiffany- that’s another girl who works here- called in sick, and Sehun, that’s-“

“I know who Sehun is,” Baekhyun says. “Big fan of your band, remember?”

“You don’t have signs with their names, though,” Chanyeol says, and Baekhyun, whose flush had faded, reddens all over again. At least Chanyeol isn’t the only one slightly on edge.

“No,” he says softly. “I don’t.” He takes another sip of his tea, and Chanyeol watches the way his eyes close as he drinks. His thick eyeliner really is well done, Chanyeol thinks. Kai would be impressed. “So, Sehun…”

“Well, Sehun didn’t answer his phone, so Lu Han had to take the shift.” Chanyeol sighs. “Which means that I’m out a subject, and I’ll probably have to wait until afternoon for Lu Han to be free, which means I probably can’t drive down to visit my sister today.”

“I see.” Baekhyun is studying the counter instead of looking at Chanyeol. Chanyeol doesn’t blame him; the state of his hair must be hard to bear.

“Sorry, that was probably more than you wanted to know. I should get going. Maybe get lunch.” Chanyeol hefts his camera and reaches down to the floor for the camera-bag. “Better luck after four, I suppose.”

"Well, actually, I think it’s your lucky day." Baekhyun says, smiling bravely, and leaning forward into Chanyeol's personal space. He smells like expensive cologne and strawberries, and Chanyeol swallows, his throat suddenly dry. "I like being photographed."

"That doesn't actually surprise me," Chanyeol says, puffing out his cheeks, because he's… well, he’s apprehensive, and confused about the way his heart-rate speeds up at Baekhyun’s smile, and Baekhyun laughs at him, poking his index finger at Chanyeol's face.

"You're so cute," Baekhyun says. "I've always thought you were cute." He goes pink yet again as he says it, looking a bit surprised at his own words, and quickly retracts his hand.

"Yeah?" Chanyeol bats Baekhyun's hand away from his face. "I thought you were creepy." Baekhyun picks up his book and stands, and Chanyeol makes a decision. “Are you offering? To be my ‘human subject’, I mean.”

"Let me take you out," Baekhyun says boldly, with a false sense of bravado that Chanyeol thinks is as adorable as it is unexpected, and the scary thing is, Chanyeol kind of wants to say yes. “Omurice or something. If I play your ‘human subject’, then you have to get lunch with me.”

Chanyeol weighs it out in his mind, and bites down on his lip. “You don’t know anything about me.”

“Sure I do,” Baekhyun says. “Your name is Chanyeol. You’re taking a photography class. You like… is that sour apple? Sour apple bubble tea. You have a terrible perm, and you have a sister that lives close enough to visit.” Baekhyun straightens his sweatshirt. “And we’ve got similar taste in music.”

“You’re a good listener.”

“When I’m interested, I can be.” Baekhyun’s eyelashes flutter against his pale cheeks as he presses his lips into a thin, nervous line.

“Look,” Chanyeol says. “I’m not looking for… I'm not interested in… I don’t really want to date anyone.” Chanyeol’s not enthused to have to spell it out like that, but better now than later, he figures. “I mean, I know I’m gorgeous, but… I’ve got, you know, other priorities. Plus I like myself far more than I’ll ever like anyone else.” He adds the last bit in a teasing tone.

Baekhyun’s smile, this time, is gentler. “Could you use a friend?” he asks, and Chanyeol feels relief even as something twists in his gut. He ignores the latter feeling and focuses on the former.

“Yeah,” Chanyeol says. “Always.”

Baekhyun grabs a leather bag, one Chanyeol hadn’t noticed, and slides his book inside, fingers carefully holding the cover down so it doesn’t bend as he pushes it in. “If I’d have known someone would be taking pictures of me, I would have gotten ready this morning.”

“You look great,” Chanyeol says, and he wonders why his mouth is just spewing things without his say-so. He stands too, and Baekhyun does a slight double take at Chanyeol’s height, maybe because they’re standing closer together this time, with far less than two meters between them, and he has to tilt his head to look up at Chanyeol, but he recovers without a word, batting his lashes playfully.

“Do I? Tell me more,” he says jokingly, and Chanyeol can’t help but laugh, the consuming kind that makes him clap delightedly, and his chest feels a little warm.

“I don’t give compliments like that,” Chanyeol says. “So don’t fish.”

*

Baekhyun is an ideal subject, Chanyeol decides, because he moves with so much grace.

They walk down to the park about three blocks from Tenren’s, walking through the Sinchon subway station and walking out exit six toward Sogang University, and Chanyeol is snapping photos before they even get to their location.

“You shouldn’t waste your film!” Baekhyun chides, and Chanyeol excitedly bounces up and down.

“I’m really not,” he promises. “You just keep… making me want to take pictures.”

“That’s… good, I guess,” Baekhyun says, and he looks skeptically at Chanyeol. “I’m not Lu Han, but…” His voice, Chanyeol thinks, is almost hypnotizing. It’s smooth as silk, but at the same time, it’s just rough enough to invite interest. Chanyeol wants to make Baekhyun talk more, just so he can listen to the way his voice almost caresses the words.

“You don’t have to be Lu Han.” Chanyeol lifts his camera. “One of those is more than enough.” He presses the shutter just as Baekhyun starts to laugh.

“Okay, it’s totally weird that you’re just taking pictures as you talk to me.” Baekhyun hops up on the curb and walks along it, balancing carefully on it, arms out to his sides for balance. “I feel like you’re a paparazzo or something.”

“Do you think it’s more or less weird than you holding up a glitter sign with my name on it?” Chanyeol asks, and Baekhyun winces with dismay.

“Alright, this is a even trade, then,” Baekhyun says, and he hops down from the curb and slips his thumbs through his belt-loops, tugging on them restlessly.

“Then why do I owe you lunch?” Chanyeol can’t stop moving.

“Because that’s the deal we made.” Baekhyun looks down at his jeans and frowns, brushing at the glitter on the thighs. “Glitter is impossible.”

When they get to the park, Chanyeol takes two rolls of film of Baekhyun with the flowers, and Baekhyun, long and lean, arm stretched along the back of a bench or leaning up against a tree, facing up toward the thick branches, leaves casting delightful shadows on his face.

Chanyeol never has to direct him, or tell him what to do, because Baekhyun seems to naturally angle himself for the camera, finding the best light all on his own.

When he’s getting near the end of the second roll, he just sits in the grass and talks to Baekhyun, about his favorite foods, his friends, and things he studies, taking shots when Baekhyun is surprised or amused by his answers. Baekhyun’s face reminds Chanyeol of a five year-old’s, the way emotions play across it so exaggerated and open, like a child. The last photo he takes is Baekhyun looking straight at the camera, eyes bright and mouth split in a grin that shows his perfect teeth.

“Thank you so much,” Chanyeol says, when they’re done, and Baekhyun shrugs. “I mean, this turned out awesome.”

“You haven’t seen the pictures yet,” Baekhyun says. “You might develop them and then curse my name into the uncaring sky.”

“No,” Chanyeol says. “I know what I’m doing. I’ve been into this stuff for years.”

“Yeah?” Baekhyun says. “Ever considered doing it as a career?”

“I want to do music,” Chanyeol says. “Plus I’d hate to disappoint my sister, who dreams of being able to search me on Naver-Music someday.”

“Yes, it’s best not to let her down.” Baekhyun examines his nails as he speaks, before he looks up at Chanyeol. “You’ve got a surprising voice. It doesn’t match your face.”

“I get that a lot,” Chanyeol says with a chuckle. “I think it’s a compliment?”

“It’s just an observation,” Baekhyun says. “Your lower register is really full. It’s nice.” It sounds like a compliment from a fellow musician, Chanyeol thinks.

“Do you sing?” Chanyeol asks, and Baekhyun freezes for a minute, and then he starts tugging at blades of grass, pulling them up one by one and making a tiny graveyard pile by his feet.

“No,” Baekhyun says. “I don’t.” There’s a reservation in his voice that Chanyeol hasn’t heard yet, but they have just met, really, so maybe Chanyeol’s reading it all wrong.

“Oh,” Chanyeol says, and then Baekhyun catches a glimpse of his watch, and he practically jumps to a stand.

“Sorry, Chanyeol,” Baekhyun says. “But I’m going to have to take a rain-check on that lunch. I’m going to be late for work, since photo-fun-time took longer than I expected.”

“Oh, sure,” Chanyeol says. “Where do you work?”

“Why don’t you walk with me and find out?” Baekhyun says hesitantly. “I don’t want to make it too easy for you. I might lose my air of mystery.”

Chanyeol tucks the camera into its bag, and zips it closed with a flourish. “Why not?” he says, and Chanyeol is not the sort of person who does things like this, but Baekhyun is, in some ways, so magnetic that Chanyeol can’t really stay away.


part two


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December 2012

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