Author: Anonymous until 1/30/14
Word Count: 6,825
Summary: An assignment at work has Baekhyun questioning his marriage, and he grapples with his evolving relationship with his Nutcracker Prince.
Warnings: uh, jongdae? and some swearing, very slice of life, fluff
Byun Baekhyun is an ordinary guy working for an unremarkable publishing company in their entirely nondescript dictionary department, filling in word cards day by day and meticulously compiling them at the end of each week. Baekhyun is a man of words, of language: nouns, verbs, adjectives and such, of quick wit and humour, intellect, prose and speech. He was a boy who devoured books as a youth, chasing the tailcoats of poetry as he grew into a man, enjoying crossword puzzles with his morning coffees and loving the thrill and awe of well curated diction.
His husband, Kim Jongin, is a dancer. A marvellously talented dancer for the Korean National Ballet and one of the favourites in line to take over the position of principal dancer, Jongin is a physical being. A man of action, lithe power and grace, who understands the world through the rhythmical, subtle tensing of muscles, pirouettes, pointes and leaps.
Baekhyun is the boy next door who falls for the handsome Nutcracker Prince in the winter of his first year of university and marries him six years later. The unexpected author of his own unlikely fairy tale of all he can want and more.
Their home is a regular sized, cosy apartment in downtown Seoul comprised of many odds and ends. Their bookshelf, or rather, Baekhyun’s is kept impeccably clean, books filed neatly by author, trilogies and series running uninterrupted in ascending order. Sweatshirts, t-shirts and tank tops are strewn all over the place depending on the current season over the couch, the doors, the kitchen chairs, masking each room with the subtle musky smell of Jongin’s scent.
Baekhyun wakes up to comforting sheets and skin every morning, nudging his Jongin-blanket and patting his husband’s bum until he begins to stir.
“Hyuuuuung,” Jongin whines, burying his face deeper into the crook of Baekhyun’s neck. His face is swollen, eyes barely open. His skin is dry from sleep, unshaven stubble scratchy against the curve of his chin. “Don’t wanna.”
“Wake up, Jongin-ah,” He tries again, sliding his hand up Jongin’s back to tickle him, unrelenting until Jongin whines louder and rolls off Baekhyun’s smaller body, their duvet bundled at their feet.
“Morning, my sleepy prince.” Baekhyun chuckles as he kisses Jongin on the nose like he does every day. His husband grins back up at him contentedly, quirking his lips in search of more morning kisses. “Nope, not unless you get up.”
Their bed is a generous king sized one, but Baekhyun always found himself pressed close to the wall. The more tired Jongin was, the tighter he clung onto Baekhyun in his sleep. Eventually, they roll out of bed with Baekhyun heading to the bathroom while Jongin moves to their living room to do his daily stretches, sinking easily into a full split on their smooth, polished parquet floor. Jjangu, their poodle, paces back and forth around him, bell on her collar tinkling cheerily in the stillness of the morning as she jumps and licks at Jongin- her self proclaimed appa.
He picks her up and carries her to the kitchen when he’s done with his basic stretches, setting the kettle to boil as he scoops out some dog food for Jjangu and refills her water bowl. Baekhyun emerges from their bedroom just as Jongin finishes making their coffee, steaming couple mugs with puppies printed on them placed on the counter. They switch places when Baekhyun drops slices of bread into the toaster, Jongin scurrying off to the bathroom to wash up and get dressed.
So begins their winter week in cold, late November.
After four years of marriage and a decade of being together, Baekhyun and Jongin have fallen into a peaceful, comfortable routine. They take the train to work together everyday, just four stops into the heart of Seoul, standing close with hips touching in their contrasting clothes: Baekhyun in neatly pressed white collar shirts and ironed dark trousers, briefcases and ties with Jongin leaning against him, still half asleep, decked out in comfortable cotton slacks and warm knits, leather ballet shoes and tights packed into his backpack.
Jongin likes to hold his hand wordlessly while they walk to the station together, squinting against the morning glow with his beanie folded over his ears to keep out the biting cold. His discreet white gold wedding band is chill against the palm of Baekhyun’s clasped hands but reassuring in its presence on his skin. Baekhyun knows his husband never, ever takes his ring off with the exception of for performances, and the adornment is scratched from years of floorwork, its patina a testament to Jongin’s discipline.
Baekhyun likes routine. Like words and grammar, he thinks everything has its place. Even the most wonderful of words need some sort of structure to hold them in place, need others beside them – nouns, adjectives and verbs to give each other meaning.
Jongin also likes routine. He likes perfecting choreographies, enjoying the nuances that come with a predefined course of action. He likes how the slightest change in posture, a gesture out of line, a leap more pronounced, comes into meaning – speaks out a spectacle of feeling through deviation and interpretation. Through the heat of a moment, the burning strain of muscles and passion, revealing in that one instant a transparency of emotion, vulnerability, liquid fire in a tempered crystal hurricane. Dance requires order and carves itself into his body through practiced habits. Sequences and steps direct the flow of movement on the stage, allowing for harmonious interweaves and individual flourishes, giving each dancer space for freedom.
Routine suits them well, they both think, as they part with a kiss at the train station, a silent promise to meet back at the same spot after work.
Baekhyun met the most important people in his life at university. One of them he married, and the remaining two are his former classmates and best friends Kim Jongdae and Park Chanyeol. They were both the same age and dorm neighbours, bonafide troublemakers with too much tongue in cheek and energy, dragging Baekhyun along on all their crazy adventures. He still remembers the time they got drunk by the beach, Chanyeol and himself doubled over in laughter when Jongdae dropped his pants and wrote out his favourite Hemingway quote with his pink boxer-clad butt because he lost a bet.
Jongdae and Chanyeol were relentless in their playfulness, and Baekhyun misses their guileless campus days, the three of them speed reading set texts in the comfort of Chanyeol’s room, grimacing whenever Jongdae tried to fart discreetly after a particularly bad bout of indigestion. Jongdae and him both managed to land parallel jobs at their current company, while Chanyeol had gone on to work for a snazzy, up-market arts magazine, writing music reviews and working Press on a variety of shows and events.
“Yah, Byun,” Jongdae jibes as he slinks over on his roller chair, mug in hand. It’s the most revolting object in the office, Baekhyun thinks, as he catches sight of the sparkly golden words painted onto the mug in horrendously offending 72pt comic sans: world’s best employee. Jongdae hands him his own mug full of tea, an identical one with the word Byuntae on it. Jongdae had gotten them the mugs when they’d both been accepted for their jobs as a congratulatory gift.
“Free for a movie with Yeol on Friday night? He’s got spare tickets for that new Disney movie. That one with the snow man and the moose.”
Baekhyun fishes his scheduler from his bag and flips to the bookmarked page. The date comes up empty. “Sure,” He says as he thumbs through the following weeks, eyeing the fluorescent blue mark near the middle of December: the opening night for the National Ballet’s winter production. “But only if you promise not to break out into song during the movie.”
“Pah. Sucks balls but Yeol actually has to review this movie for work, so we have to be quiet and obedient for two hours or so. I was thinking we could go get drinks and hit the Noraebang after, with it being a Friday night and all. It’s been a while since the three of us have hung out properly.”
Jongdae winks at him and scoots away just as their boss, Kim Minseok enters the office. His arms are loaded with magazines, booklets and novels, dust on the covers leaving marks on his smart black vest. The entirety of their office rolls over on their chairs to their special meeting table, looking expectantly at their boss for instructions.
“Yo, Hyungnim,” Baekhyun hears Jongdae greet from the opposite side of the table, helping to distribute the booklets and magazines to each of them in compiled piles.
“Good morning!” Their boss greets them energetically, flashing his megawatt smile before clearing his throat to begin.
“We’ve been asked by several publications and papers to compile lists of keywords their writers should use for certain days, seasons or holidays of the year. They want comprehensive lists of words that relate to the senses and emotions, visual cues and colours, phrases and even quotes that have to do with those specific themes.”
“Jongdae, Baekhyun, you guys get Valentine’s day! Isn’t that wonderful?” He grins slyly at his shorter two employees. “Luhan, you’ll work on Christmas and New Year’s with me.” Minseok beams cheerily, only to be met with Jongdae’s loud groan.
“Thanks, Hyungnim, assign Valentine’s day to the only single guy in the entire department,” He huffs, poking the material forlornly.
“Precisely why I picked you! Gives the occasion some perspective, you know.” Minseok smirks. “A married man and a bachelor.”
Jongdae glares when Baekhyun snorts loudly.
Baekhyun buys himself one of the special winter season drinks from a Starbucks nearby before he settles down with his takeaway bags, enjoying the sweet taste of cranberry rolling around the back of his tongue as he swallows.
He plays a couple of rounds of the racing game Chanyeol likes while he waits, taking a break from all the reading earlier, putting away his phone when he spots Jongin walking towards him in the distance.
“Wow,” Baekhyun gapes as Jongin comes to a stop in front of him. “Did you take a bath in glitter or…?”
“Full dress rehearsal,” Jongin replies with a grimace. More silver glitter falls out of his hair when he shakes his head. “Sorry I’m late, have you been waiting long? It’s cold out.”
“Nope,” Baekhyun answers with a smile, leaning forward to hug Jongin. Glitter clings to his own skin when he pulls away. “I did overtime with Jongdae and got us some takeaway for dinner.”
Jongin holds his hand tightly when they walk down the stairs into the station, grip more tense than usual.
“What’s on your mind?” Baekhyun prompts when he catches Jongin chewing on his bottom lip at the platform.
Jongin frowns before he speaks. “Don’t wait for me after work anymore, Hyung.” He says simply as they step into the train.
“Oh,” Baekhyun replies, not knowing what to say. Did Jongin not like it? Was he being a bother? Questions form at the tip of his tongue, but he bites them down when the fluorescent light hits Jongin’s features and Baekhyun realises just how exhausted his partner looks under all the tinsel and sparkle. Not wanting to cause any unnecessary tension, he answers in agreement instead.
Jongin’s favourite part about performance season is the daily massage Baekhyun gives him every night before they go to bed. His hyung is usually chatty with no lack of words throughout the day, speaking abundantly and freely, thoughts and feelings flowing from pert lips in strings that leave Jongin tongue-tied. But during this time, as they quiet down into the ends of their days, Baekhyun is silent, speaking only with palms and fingers as he presses them deftly into the flesh of Jongin’s bare shoulders, back and legs.
His husband is an expert at this now – after all, he’s had close to a decade to perfect this particular domestic choreography which had started years ago, when Jongin had come to Baekhyun limping, stressed out and hurt from a pulled muscle and bad landing.
Sure, Jongin loves listening to Baekhyun speak, wonder and muse, but what Jongin loves the most is when Baekhyun is quiet, when his every touch meant much more than casual contact. When he isn’t thinking about things or people or ideas other than Jongin. When a fond pat on the bum means love, devotion, a mixture of worry and affection all in one simple action.
Jongin rolls over into Baekhyun’s arms when he’s done, languid and pliant. Baekhyun snuggles back naturally, tangling their legs together, carding fingers through Jongin’s unruly hair until they both fall asleep to the sound of each other’s light snoring, chests rising and falling in sync.
“This is such a pain,” Jongdae groans as he spins in his chair, paperback edition of Pride and Prejudice plastered to his face. “Let’s switch, Baekhyun. Give me America, I’ve had enough of England.”
“England is great,” Baekhyun retorts as he types a Faulkner quote into his compilation document. “And I’m enjoying this, so I’m just going to let you keep suffering on your own.”
“Please, Baek?” Jongdae whines as pitifully as he can, and Baekhyun sighs and acquiesces.
“We’ll switch around next week okay?” He promises, picking up a copy of one of their client’s magazines to flip through, trying to get an idea of what they would want. It’s a trendy women’s magazine, full of clothes and advertisements. Baekhyun does a double take when he sees an article on the National Ballet in the arts section.
“Finish your book,” He waves Jongdae away. “Mr. Darcy is waiting for you.” Jongdae throws a paper ball at his head. “I’m sorry, do you prefer Mr. Bingly?”
He takes a peek around him before he hunches over to hide the blush on his cheeks as he reads a short feature on Jongin, trying discreetly to snap a quick photo of his husband’s image and article with his phone camera without Jongdae noticing. Baekhyun has a folder full of newspaper and magazine cutouts of Jongin tucked away neatly on a shelf at home. It was a habit he had developed when they were dating, and his heart still swells with pride every time Jongin’s shows are given good reviews and praise.
Baekhyun also insists on collecting the promotional posters for all of the productions his husband takes part in, no matter how small the role, even if he is just the understudy. Jongin was embarrassed by Baekhyun’s fierce pride in the beginning, but he eventually embraced it as part of Baekhyun’s affections for him, and now, several of their favourite posters hang as decorations and mementos on the walls of their home.
Putting the magazine aside, Baekhyun sighs as he scrolls through his digital file. They had started off easily enough, going through their extensive word card collections and picking out typical words that had to do with romance. At the top of the list was love. Coming after were ‘lovers’, ‘cherish’, ‘affection’, ‘intimacy’ and a whole slew of words that had Jongdae squirming uncomfortably in his seat. He comes to a stop when he sees ‘communication’ and ‘understanding’ somewhere in the middle of it all. Baekhyun pouts sadly as he thinks about Jongin not wanting him to wait for him after work anymore, and forlornly types in the word ‘confusion’.
Jongin is already fast asleep when Baekhyun returns home. He’s sprawled out on their bed face down, still in the clothes he had gone to work in earlier that morning. His backpack is tossed haphazardly to the side. He looks like he had knocked out the moment the flopped onto the bed, dead to the world around him.
They haven’t been talking much for the past few days; Jongin has been having more rehearsals that sometimes run late into the night, and he’s always too tired or grumpy in the mornings for Baekhyun to really have the heart to try having a proper conversation. He turns around when Jjangu pads quietly into their room and paws at his leg, whining softly.
“Jjangu-ah~,” Baekhyun coos as he picks her up in his arms, stroking her curly fur and playing with her floppy ears. “Did Jongin-appa forget to feed you again?”
Jjangu whines and licks his cheek and Baekhyun sighs, manoeuvring her so he can use her paws to hit his sleeping husband.
“Bad Jongin! Bad Appa!” He mutters as he holds on to the poodle’s forelegs, smacking Jongin’s butt lightly with them. Baekhyun carries her to the kitchen while she rests against his shoulder, occasionally licking his neck and ear. He sits with her until she’s done eating her food, then returns to their bedroom to change out of his work clothes.
Jongin hasn’t moved an inch, and Baekhyun frowns in worry. He hasn’t been this tired in a long while, and he wonders if Jongin is having trouble with work. Jongin used to tell him all about the roles he had to play, talk excitedly about the stories they come from and the characters’ points of view all the time back in University, but as time went by he had become increasingly silent. Baekhyun misses the twinkle of excitement in Jongin’s eyes whenever he talked about ballets, wishing his husband would open up to him again.
He brings a wet washcloth with him when he returns from cleaning up in the bathroom, sitting by the bed and moving the unconscious dancer so he has easier access. Baekhyun starts by wiping the glitter off his face, brushing Jongin’s bangs aside so he can drag the damp cloth gently across his forehead. Jongin doesn’t even stir when Baekhyun wiggles his cotton shirt off, rolling him over so he can clean his husband’s back.
“You’re so gross,” Baekhyun huffs, making sure to clean off all the dried up sweat on his skin. He pulls off Jongin’s sweatpants and boxers so he can wipe down his legs and abdomen, and he can’t help but blush when his hands near Jongin’s groin.
“Don’t be silly Baekhyun,” He mutters to himself, trying not to giggle. “You’re married. You’ve seen him naked a thousand times. Or more.”
“There’s nothing fascinating about it.” Baekhyun mumbles as he draws his eyes away. “You have one too, Baekhyun,” He tugs on the elastic of his own boxers for a peek.
“What am I doing?” Baekhyun groans as he rolls over onto the other side of the bed. “I’m going crazy.”
He changes Jongin into a fresh set of clothes after leaving the washcloth in the sink, then snuggles up behind him, wrapping his arms and legs around Jongin from the back.
“I miss you, sleepy prince,” Baekhyun pouts into the fabric of his shirt.
“Trouble in paradise, Baekhyunie?” Chanyeol pats his head and pours him another shot of soju. Baekhyun swats away his hand like a fly. “You certainly slayed that Kim Bumsoo song, if I must say so myself.”
“Go away, Yeollie,” Baekhyun slurs as he throws back the shot, hand searching for the green bottle on the table as Jongdae drunkenly screeches DBSK’s Hug in the background. He clumsily brings the bottle towards his face, bumping it against his nose before it comes into contact with his lips. “Let me wallow in self pity for a while. Heuk.”
“I think that’s enough soju for tonight,” Chanyeol laughs and pries the alcohol from Baekhyun’s grip. He’s downed half the bottle in one swig. “Lightweights, both of you. Tch.” Chanyeol sighs as Jongdae flops onto the couch sideways, work tie tied sideways around his head like a headband.
“I am a warrior!” The other drunk declares as he types in the song number for the B.A.P song, jumping up to sing and grunt when the music comes on.
“What is up with you two?” Chanyeol scratches his head, puzzled as Baekhyun crawls into his lap and starts sobbing into his shirt. Jongdae ditches the microphone and joins in on his left, hugging the tallest one of their trio as he pats his buddies’ backs comfortingly, at a loss for what to do.
“Jongdae-ah,” Baekhyun sniffles, nudging Jongdae with his foot. “Let’s sing. I want to sing. That song.”
“IM HEE SUK?” Jongdae yells excitedly into Chanyeol’s ear. “Chanyeol, type it in!” He commands, tugging Baekhyun over and handing him the other microphone.
They sway to the music together as it begins to play, eyes closed in concentration, lyrics coming to them naturally from countless sessions of karaoke.
They nail it perfectly, and Chanyeol claps enthusiastically for them when the song fades out, handing them both glasses of juice for their throats. He blinks in confusion when they ignore him and fall into each other’s arms, sobbing.
“Fucking love,” Jongdae wails loudly into the microphone. “Fucking romance!”
Chanyeol bursts into laughter as they comfort each other, whipping out his cell phone to snap a few shots.
“Fucking valentine’s day!” They sob in sync before breaking out into bawls, and Chanyeol loses it as he falls off the sofa onto his butt, guffawing and clapping his hands as Baekhyun and Jongdae cling to each other pathetically on the floor.
Jongin sighs as he picks at his boxed lunch set, sitting on the bench near the train station he usually meets Baekhyun at after work. It’s a Saturday, but he still has extra rehearsals, what with opening night lurking just two weeks ahead. Typically, Jongin eats with the rest of the dance company, but his form was off today and he’d been yelled at for being distracted and was told to take a break outside.
He’s been having some trouble with his role in this particular production: a writer. He was too physical, he’d been told by their artistic director. He needed to think about words, about poetry, not just dance and move his limbs aesthetically. He had to understand the linguistics of the role, whatever that even meant. Jongin puts his lunch aside and fiddles with his phone, tracing his thumb over the photo of him and Baekhyun he has as his wallpaper. He considers calling Baekhyun to ask for help but hesitates, remembering how drunk his husband had been when Chanyeol had rang their doorbell the night before, grinning as he said “delivery for one Kim Jongin”. Baekhyun is probably nursing a terrible hangover right now, and Jongin doesn’t want to be a bother.
Jongin sighs heavily as he curls up onto his side on the bench, wishing he could have Baekhyun with him now. He feels like they haven’t spent proper time together in ages, but it is something he can’t help. Winter productions are always extremely hectic, especially in the middle of the holiday season. Baekhyun has also been behaving oddly the past few days, and he’s beginning to wonder if he had said something wrong.
“I miss you, little prince,” Jongin pouts sadly, fiddling with the wedding band on his finger.
The atmosphere at dinner is tense. The rest of Jongin’s rehearsal had gone even worse than his slip ups in the morning, and he’d been reprimanded by some of the sunbaes as well, for disrupting the mood of the rehearsal.
Baekhyun sits quietly opposite him, eating his own food eagerly while Jongin barely manages to swallow two spoonfuls of rice. “How was your day?” Baekhyun asks kindly, placing pieces of fish onto Jongin’s plate.
Jongin grunts and shakes his head in reply. “I don’t want to talk about it.” His tone comes out sharper than he means for it to, and he winces when Baekhyun’s expression falls.
“Oh,” He says as he averts his eyes from Jongin’s, picking up his own plate and leaving for the kitchen. “I’m done, take your time.”
He’s flipping through a copy of National Geographic when Jongin slides into bed next to him, hair damp from his shower. He tries wrapping his arms around Baekhyun but the smaller one fidgets away.
“Baekhyun?” Jongin asks, holding his hand firmly. “Whats wrong?”
“Perhaps they were right putting love into books, perhaps it could not live anywhere else,” Baekhyun muses, the words slipping out of his mouth into the heavy silence. He’s hit by regret immediately when he sees the look of hurt flash across Jongin’s face. “William Faulkner,” He adds quickly when Jongin lets go of his hand, reaching out desperately for the warmth as soon as it leaves his own. “It’s a quote for work,” He pleads, intertwining their fingers again.
Jongin doesn’t pull away, but he grunts and turns onto his side, not wanting to kiss him goodnight.
“What a terrible thing it is to wound someone you really care for, and to do it so unconsciously,” Jongdae recites dramatically with a sigh, batting his lashes at Baekhyun.
“Don’t quote Murakami at me you little shit,” Baekhyun grumbles, smacking Jongdae with a rolled up magazine. “Go back to fantasising about Midori and leave me alone.”
“Wow, someone’s grumpy today,” Jongdae teases as he scoots out of reach, lingering on the threshold of Baekhyun’s space. “Did something happen?”
“I’m such an ass, Jongdae!” Baekhyun groans in frustration. “I quoted Faulkner at him. You know that one about love not being able to live except for in books?”
“Wow,” Jongdae shakes his head. “That was horrible of you. You deserve to suffer. You crossed the line, bro.”
“Urgh, I deserve to be confined in an air tight room with one of your farts,” Baekhyun slumps onto his desk. “I think he’s still mad at me.”
“One more comment about my digestive system and I’ll be mad at you too,” Jongdae pouts, scooting forward so he can punch Baekhyun in the arm. “I’m sure you two will work it out. Jongin really loves you, you know.”
“I’m a terrible person,” Baekhyun wails, resting his forehead on his keyboard.
“Scum of Middle Earth,” Jongdae adds in agreement, but leaves a cup of Baekhyun’s favourite tea by his desk anyway, giving him a supportive pat on the back before rolling back to his paperback copy of Norwegian Wood.
Baekhyun takes his wedding band off when he’s cleaning the house on Saturday while Jongin is out buying their groceries. It is the weekend before opening night, and Jongin has been ordered to stay home and rest his ankle after nearly spraining it. The dancer had been full of doom and gloom since the day before, so Baekhyun had sent him out to do the shopping, hoping that some fresh air would help lift his mood and ease the stress.
He makes quick work of the living area, vacuuming and mopping speedily to the beat of the songs playing on the radio before moving on to their bedroom and bathroom. It isn’t until he’s done hanging the laundry and throwing out the trash that he remembers the ring missing from his finger.
Panic creeps into his bones as he backtracks, searching rooms desperately for his ring, but to no avail. Baekhyun can’t for the life of him remember where he left it, and he’s beginning to fear that he might have thrown it out by accident. He’s all but ready to go search in the dumpster when his elbow bumps into his puppy mug, sending it skittering off the table. He’s stunned by the sound of shattering porcelain, but his body reacts on instinct when he sees the metal band teetering at the edge of the table, about to fall off the counter.
Baekhyun doesn’t think about the broken shards, or about how gold rings won’t shatter like porcelain, but he’s arrested by a surge of panic and emotion, hurling his body after it, making sure to catch the ring before it hits the floor. He manages to slip it back on safely before he curls up in pain, trying to tame the feral heart in his chest as his pulse races.
“Baekhyun!” He hears Jongin gasp through the haze of his throbbing elbow. Before he knows it his husband is gathering him in his arms, carefully carrying him over to the couch. “Are you hurt? What happened?”
Baekhyun peeks at his arm – he’s bleeding from a minor cut and he can feel a bruise forming, but there isn’t much damage otherwise. Still, Jongin is fussing madly over him with tender touches, and Baekhyun feels a wave of affection flood his heart. “I’m alright, Jongin-ah,” He starts, feeling a blush creep onto his cheeks. “I thought I lost my ring after I took it off to do the cleaning. It was under the mug.”
“Baekhyun,” Jongin reprimands sternly, arms tightening around Baekhyun’s waist. “Don’t do that again. You scared me.”
“I’m sorry,” Baekhyun apologises as he leans up to kiss the corner of his husband’s mouth. “It’s silly but I panicked when I saw it falling. It felt like it would break if it hit the floor, and I didn’t want that to happen. I didn’t want to lose it.”
“Baekhyun,” Jongin sighs, kissing his forehead. “You mean much more to me than that silly piece of metal. I’d get you a new one anytime, I’d marry you again gladly if you wanted another wedding ring.”
“Jongin!” Baekhyun laughs happily at his seriousness. They haven’t talked much in the past two weeks, and hearing Jongin speak those precious words to him filled him with delight and fondness. It takes a moment for Jongin’s words to catch up with himself, and he stutters when he speaks again, not used to being so brazen, hiding his face in Baekhyun’s shoulder.
“J-J-Just don’t hurt yourself, Baekhyun,” He murmurs.
Baekhyun tilts his chin so he can kiss him properly on the lips, tugging on plump, full ones with his own, cupping jawlines and straddling hips until Jongin lets out a soft “hyung.”
“Welcome home,” He beams, to which Jongin replies bashfully, “I’m back”.
Old habits certainly die hard, Baekhyun muses when he finds himself seated on the bench near the entrance of the metro, sipping on a hot cup of coffee as he types out a reply to Jongin’s text message. He’s tried going home directly after work, but most days he just feels like waiting on the bench as usual – he’s been doing it for years, it felt strange to just break the habit all of a sudden.
They’ve changed the ads and posters in the past week, and now promotional flyers of the Korean National Ballet winter production are up on walls and billboards everywhere. Jongin had given him a set of free tickets for opening night, one of which would go to Chanyeol, who just so happens to be Jongin’s number.1 fan.
Jongin has a stage name, Kim Kai, but Baekhyun never ever calls his husband that name. Jongin on stage is the Kim Kai that the world knows, one of the darling ballerinos of the country’s finest ballet company. He is a charming, boyishly handsome man dressed to the nines in the finest fabrics money could buy, dolled up with his hair slicked back, posture upright and held with a firmly strung core.
But that is only one side of the Nutcracker Prince he had fallen for so long ago – his Jongin is the man who would tickle him with his scratchy stubble when he felt playful, swollen cheeks full of laughter and morning breath. Grouchy, tired Jongin who gave disappointing grunts and nods as answers to all of Baekhyun’s concerned questions. Sloppy Jongin who stubbornly refuses to wear socks and who can never keep his shirt on, parading half naked around their home with his untameable bedhead. Jongin who would wrestle him onto the bed and chide him for his lack of flexibility and then proceed to kiss the insides of his thighs with plush lips, smirking as he suggests cheekily that he should teach Baekhyun how to do the splits.
Jongin could have all the luxuries and fine dinners and crisp cut clothes that he wants, but he simply prefers whirling Baekhyun along on eager adventures through the streets and markets, filling their tummies with assorted street snacks and pieces of Jongin’s beloved fried chicken.
Kim Jongin was Baekhyun’s alone, his one and only, the fiercely cherished missing pages from the dictionaries that defined everyone else’s world but Baekhyun’s own.
He fishes his scheduler out of his bag and crosses out an entire week before he loads the ticketing page for the Korean Ballet and buys a week’s worth of tickets for Jongin’s show.
If dance is the language that Jongin knows, then dance would be the best place to start understanding him again, Baekhyun thinks as he clicks firmly on the button that confirms his order, determined to make things better again.
Baekhyun and Chanyeol attend opening night together, decked out in their best suits and ties. Baekhyun had to make sure he looked presentable – most of the company knew Jongin was married, but only a couple of Jongin’s colleagues have actually met Baekhyun before. It isn’t something that can be helped, considering how all the dancers had to re-audition every year, and not all of them managed to stay on for consecutive years in the company.
Chanyeol fidgets excitedly in his seat beside Baekhyun, flipping through the programme and reading the synopsis of the ballet. The principal dancers for the season were Kim Jiyoung and Lee Donghoon, two of the highest ranking dancers in the entire country, and sunbaes that Jongin sang endless praises for.
Baekhyun never bothered too much with the stories on stage. He wasn’t uninterested, in fact, he loved watching other dance productions with Jongin in the audience by his side, but when it comes to his husband’s performances Jongin’s dancing becomes his only cynosure – every breath, every move, every jump. Jongin is all he pays attention to throughout the two hours, enchanted and full of pride for the man he had chosen to marry.
Chanyeol stays behind and lingers with him after the general audience has cleared out, amongst other family members of dancers, and Baekhyun waves at Sehun, Jongin’s best friend when he spots him at the other side of the theatre.
“Kai-yah!” Chanyeol exclaims excitedly when he spots Jongin slipping into the auditorium from one of the side doors, stopping to chat with Sehun for a bit before he heads over to where Baekhyun and Chanyeol are waiting for him.
“Hyung came to watch your show, Kai-yah!” Chanyeol babbles, handing him a single sunflower stalk. “Baekhyunie wouldn’t let me buy you a bouquet again.”
“This is just… so strange,” Baekhyun muses. “My best friend is a fan of my husband. I still can’t wrap my head around this concept.”
Jongin laughs and pulls Baekhyun close for a hug, keeping Baekhyun in the loop of his arms even as he signs Chanyeol’s ticket.
“Don’t worry, Jongin-ah. Chanyeol is your number one fan,” Baekhyun chuckles as Jongin shoots Chanyeol a look, grip tightening around his waist. “He likes you too much to cheat on you with me.”
“Please, Baek,” Chanyeol mock scoffs. “My girlfriend is ten times cuter than you are.”
Baekhyun bursts into peals of laughter when Jongin snatches the autographed ticket out of Chanyeol’s hands and threatens to rip it to pieces.
Jongin is surprised when he sees Baekhyun in the audience for the whole of the following week’s performances, sitting alone in his office attire amidst the crowd. He’s usually a couple of rows down stage left, where Jongin is located for most of the show, with the exception of his small solo near the end, and his eyes never leave Jongin, staring intensely at him as he moves across the stage.
He brings it up shyly one day when they’re in bed, as Baekhyun works on the knots in his back.
“You caught me,” Baekhyun squeaks, not expecting Jongin to have noticed. “I just missed watching you dance, and I wanted to make it up to you for having been so…difficult recently.”
“Baekhyun, I’m not mad at you,” Jongin says sincerely. “I haven’t been the greatest person to be around either, and I’m sorry.”
“You’ve been talking more recently. It makes me really happy,” Baekhyun beams at him. “Thank you for trying for me.”
“You caught me,” Jongin gasps, mimicking Baekhyun. “I’m still more partial to this though.” He smiles, clasping Baekhyun’s hands in his own.
“Touch cannot lie, Baekhyun. Words can deceive and fool your ears and eyes but touch,” he draws the back of his knuckles gently across Baekhyun’s cheek, “this,” Jongin breathes, trying not to let his hand tremble. “This cannot deceive you, cannot hide anger or resentment or adoration. Skin on skin, hesitant or seeking.”
Jongin takes Baekhyun’s left hand and holds in between his palms. “When I asked you to marry me I promised myself I would never touch you in a way that would hurt you. When I hold your hand I only want you to feel loved.”
“I’m sorry if I haven’t been speaking the words you’ve been wanting to hear, but Baekhyun, please know that I do adore you,” Jongin whispers as he flips them over so he’s looking down at Baekhyun.
“Look at you,” Baekhyun giggles. “Claiming to be clumsy with words but so full of flattery.”
Baekhyun asks Jongin to teach him how to dance right after Jongdae and him submit their compiled reports to Minseok. Jongin texts him back immediately with a ‘Yes! Sure!’, followed by a cheeky ‘Maybe we should work on your flexibility first ;D?’
He blushes when he types back his reply: ‘We can work on my splits tonight ;D’, and jumps in his seat when he realises Jongdae is peeking over his shoulder at his screen in fascination.
“Ah, the married life,” Jongdae chuckles. “Naughty texting in the office eh? Byuntae Baekhyun indeed.”
Baekhyun groans and buries his head in his arms on his desk, trying to sneakily finish the rest of his text.
‘We should take it easy though, you’ve still got half a season to go, I don’t want to tire you out.’
He keeps his phone close by while he waits for Jongin’s text, weary of Jongdae’s lurking presence behind him. Jongin’s reply has him fanning his cheeks and his ears turning red.
‘Hmph. You say that as if it’s possible. Don’t underestimate my stamina, hyung.’
Language has grammar and dance has choreography, but Jongin and Baekhyun are the syntax to their relationship, to their feelings and their memories, Baekhyun muses as Jongin tugs playfully at the hem of his shirt, sliding his warm palm onto his husband’s soft tummy, drawing patterns that have Baekhyun squirming and pouting.
“Baekhyun-ah,” Jongin teases him, frowning at the novel in his hands. “It’s time for your first dancing lesson, little prince.”
Baekhyun smirks in reply, tangling his legs with Jongin’s under the sheets.
“I want another daughter,” He says seriously, looking into Baekhyun’s eyes.
“Another poodle?” Baekhyun laughs fondly, knowing that he’s already half sold on the idea based on Jongin’s sincerity. “You don’t need me for another poodle, Jjangu-appa.”
Baekhyun marks the page and puts his book away, hushing the fables for hugs in firm arms and delicious warmth when Jongin nibbles eagerly on his lips with adolescent excitement, kissing him sweet and silly in the dim light of the evening.
He lets himself relish in his husband’s affections and shuts out all logic, all doubts and thoughts as he’s held and caressed, surrendering to the clumsy fumbling and elegant directness of physical affection.
An idea nestles itself in his heart though, when he feels the cold metal of Jongin’s wedding ring travelling up the soft ridges of his ribcage:
Jongin is the you to his I, and where they intersect, Baekhyun finds love.
it's probably not what you expected, but i hope you enjoy it, swee! ♥