Author: Anonymous until 1/30/14
Pairing: Baekhyun/Chanyeol [side: Baekhyun/OC, Kai/Suho]
Word Count: 22,155
Summary: "There is no such thing as a rose without thorns." Baekhyun is a florist working in Seoul, South Korea who reluctantly hires rich-boy Park Chanyeol to be his assistant by chance despite his inability to understand flowers. What Baekhyun doesn't know is that he's just met the man who will save his life in more ways than one.
Warnings: domestic abuse, smut
Baekhyun had never meant for things to come to this. He had never meant to drag Chanyeol into his own miserable life. But now the man lay beside him, breathing steadily in a deep slumber. He smiled to himself, pushing some curly brown hair out of the other boy’s eyes. Tomorrow, he would have to say goodbye, but tonight, he could allow himself this happiness.
He’d first met Chanyeol on a rainy day in November. He remembered it clearly; for it was a day he’d forgotten his umbrella and had arrived at his shop completely drenched from the downpour. He had also lost his keys and had been forced to call the locksmith to open the doors. By the time he’d stepped inside and turned on the lights, he’d barely had time to save the poor flowers outside from wilting.
The flowers in question belonged to the most horrific bride of the century. In fact, it was the third bouquet he had arranged for her, and he could only hope that the third time would be the charm. The girl had burst into tears when she saw it, but she was able to manage to say, despite being a blubbering mess, that they were perfect and ‘exactly what she wanted’.
She’d called her fiancé over- the poor, brave soul that had agreed to marry this wretch of a woman. He looked more like a soaked, disgruntled puppy than a man ready for marriage, but he’d forced his best smile and told her that they were beautiful ‘just like her.’ Baekhyun had barely resisted the urge to roll his eyes. It was sickening how the lack of sincerity rang in each word like a broken church bell.
The woman then said she was leaving, and the man agreed that she should run along, that he would take care of everything. When he approached the counter, his eyes lit up, and a beautiful smile that could chase the clouds in the sky away with its radiant light crossed his face. And then he apologized. “I’m sorry about her. I know she’s caused you a lot of trouble. How much do I owe you?”
Baekhyun was surprised by the apology. Most men just gave him a sheepish smile as they handed their platinum over. “It’s alright. I am a florist. This is what I do for a living,” he then tried to explain that he had already been compensated by the bride’s family for the two ruined bouquets she had stomped her dirty feet upon rather than let him sell them on display, but this groom-to-be would have none of it. He insisted on paying double.
“You don’t have to take pity on me,” Baekhyun had said to him. “My shop does well. I’m not a charity case,” it wasn’t that his pride was wounded so much as that he wasn’t sure that he trusted this man’s intentions. But Chanyeol had only smiled and nodded, leaving Baekhyun there with the cash in hand as he said his goodbyes. He was a strange man one Baekhyun had thought he would never see again.
His next run-in with Chanyeol was sooner than expected, though to be fair, he hadn’t expected it at all. In fact, it had been the very next day when the apologetic man had appeared once more inside the shop, this time to ask for another alteration to the bouquet his fiancée had already approved. Apparently once she got home, she changed her mind, but he’d taken pity on Baekhyun’s dealings with her and had offered to go back to the shop him. How noble, Baekhyun thought with a roll of his eyes, to be the scapegoat for an insufferable woman.
“I’m really sorry,” Chanyeol said, shrugging his shoulders in a sheepish way. “If there is anything I can do to make it up to you…”
Baekhyun frowned at that. “You already insisted on paying me for two arrangements that had already been covered by her family. I can do some adjustments to this one to make up for that,” he looked at the damaged flowers with disdain. He put such passion and heart into every arrangement, and to see it even slightly mangled ripped at his heart. How could someone not see the beauty in them? If she didn’t want them, why not just return them as she had gotten them? Someone else would have appreciated them.
“Right, you told me… But that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel responsible. She is my fiancée,” he continued to explain. Baekhyun wondered if it would be best to just ignore him, since what he was saying clearly wasn’t getting through his thick skull.
“Then you should talk to her, not me.” Baekhyun turned his back, but was stopped by a sudden exclamation.
“I know! What if I help you design the bouquet?”
The suggestion took Baekhyun completely off guard. He hadn’t been expecting something so outlandish, but then again, this man was clearly a pest and his usual venom wasn’t going to get rid of him so easily. “What do you know about designing flowers?”
“Well, nothing really…” Chanyeol had to admit. “But I’m a fast learner, and it’s the least I can do! Plus, if she gets mad again, it won’t be your fault. She can yell at me.”
Baekhyun felt like he must have spent hours staring at Chanyeol calling him a slew of synonyms for ‘crazy’ in his head. It wasn’t something that he wanted to do comply with, especially because he believed that this man would kill his precious flowers. He was truly like an over-eager puppy, one who didn’t understand how to be delicate and sensible but ran headfirst into things without a second thought.
And, he had to wonder just how rich this guy was to consider working at a flower shop, designing a bouquet for free. He had to wonder how crazy he was that he was actually considering saying yes.
“Do you really want to waste your time in a flower shop?” Baekhyun looked up from the vase he was hovering over while he tried to pick out the flowers without damage to salvage them. “It’s not an easy job.”
Chanyeol didn’t hear him, it seemed, for he continued grinning. “So that’s a yes?”
“You can come in on Monday, and I’ll show you around-“
“Great! You won’t be disappointed, Byun-sshi!” Chanyeol beamed at him, cutting him off before he could begin to explain what his duties would entail.
“Don’t promise me that. Please don’t,” Baekhyun forced a smile, but it was more like a grimace. He really must have lost his mind to have agreed to it. All he wanted to do was smack the stupid smile off the man’s face or give him a good kick in the legs to stop that pep in his step as he made his way to the door. “Wait!” Baekhyun called. “I didn’t get your name.”
“Oh. It’s Chanyeol… Park Chanyeol.”
The next day was one Baekhyun would never forget. Chanyeol was waiting outside the shop before Baekhyun had even arrived. In his hands were two peppermint hot chocolates and sticky buns from a café he had passed on his way there. Baekhyun hadn’t questioned how he’d carried it all or why it was still hot. He was just grateful for the gesture, seeing as all he’d had for breakfast had been some leftover kimchi fried rice from the night before.
They had started out learning the basics. Chanyeol was a quick learner, though he wasn’t very intelligent when it came to flowers. Baekhyun hadn’t been expecting anything more seeing that Chanyeol was obviously some poor, little rich boy who had decided to take on this job out of some sense of self-righteousness and pity for the flower shop owner. It irritated Baekhyun who knew that he didn’t need Chanyeol’s help in order to run a successful business. It may not have been a glamorous, flashy job, but it was the one Baekhyun had chosen.
The first order of business was to begin work on Chanyeol’s fiancée’s bridal bouquet. After showing Chanyeol how the shop worked, he left the man to pick out the flowers that he wished to see in her design. It was rare that Baekhyun didn’t know what a bride wanted after discussing the theme with her. Usually the women had some sense of the overall theme or a favorite flower that they wanted to see featured in the bouquet. He’d tried all of the basics and even some more exotic flowers only to have each of them trashed when she threw her spoiled tantrum.
Baekhyun tended to the customers as well as the other orders while Chanyeol poured over the design. There was no way that Baekhyun was going to let Chanyeol arrange the flowers seeing as he’d already snapped a beautiful lilac in half just by picking it up, but he trusted that he would know his betrothed well enough to be able to determine what she would like to see.
At the end of the day, Chanyeol still had to make some final touches, so Baekhyun began to close up shop as he did so. Finally, he’d told the man to take the paper home and think about it before they began work on the arrangement, and so he did.
The next morning, Chanyeol was there with the hot, creamy coffee and a bagel for Baekhyun to eat. It was a strange gesture, one that Baekhyun hadn’t expected even though Chanyeol had done the same thing the previous day. He had assumed it was some strange tradition for his first day of work; he hadn’t expected it to carry over once again. But he accepted it graciously, thanking Chanyeol for his kindness.
While Baekhyun set up shop, Chanyeol took out the sheet of paper which he’d taken home to work on. Baekhyun shut the door to the freezer and walked over to where the man stood gazing proudly over his work. “Are you finished, then?”
“Yeah, took me all night, but I think I did a good job!”
Baekhyun couldn’t help but wonder why Chanyeol didn’t seem more excited about it, but he assumed the man was also getting tired of his wife-to-be’s erratic behavior. There was a reason Baekhyun didn’t like the idea of marriage, and the crazy spouses he saw in his shop was just one of them- Chanyeol was no exception, only worse because Baekhyun couldn’t seem to get rid of him.
“Let’s see it then,” he took the paper from Chanyeol and began to look it over. Immediately, he was shocked by what he saw. The flowers Chanyeol had chosen were unusual for a bridal bouquet, and they certainly weren’t unusual flowers at all. “Chanyeol, none of these flowers are really… appropriate for a wedding,” he tried to break the news gently, but the taller man only shrugged at him.
“You asked me to design it, right? Well, I did.”
Baekhyun frowned visibly at that. “Yes, but this isn’t a joke. Some of your choices are… well…”
“They’re a bit insulting,” Baekhyun informed.
“I just looked at the flowers in the book you showed me, and I chose the ones I thought would suit her best,” Chanyeol said evenly in a tone that seemed so uncharacteristic of his wounded puppy expressions.
Baekhyun didn’t know how to break it to him that while certainly a colorful, creative bouquet, the meanings behind the flowers that Chanyeol had chosen for his bride-to-be were not very good omens. He couldn’t expect him to know all of the secret meanings like he did, but it did strike him as odd that he had chosen flowers so unfitting of a beautiful wedding day.
Rather than put up a fuss, however, Baekhyun moved to the freezer where he began to pull out some of the flowers in order to create a sample bouquet. There was time before the shop opened yet, and even when it did, they would not be busy until mid-morning. “Poppies are very beautiful flowers, you know,” Baekhyun chose one of the scarlet petals and placed it delicately inside the frame. “They symbolize extravagance, so they are not commonly used in wedding arrangements...”
Chanyeol didn’t respond; he just watched Baekhyun work in awe. It was really quite amazing to see Baekhyun actually work with the flowers. He treated them delicately, as if they were an extension of himself. Each stem was placed with the utmost care into the arrangement.
“Artemisia is lovely as well… If you really want to use it, I will need to order more,” he neglected to tell Chanyeol that it symbolized absence which is why it was often used in bouquets sent to someone who had moved away or perhaps was leaving.
“The same goes for Abatina. I only have a few of them,” he placed them gingerly into the frame. “It is a flower of fickleness and can be quite temperamental,” still, Chanyeol’s expression did not change despite the news that the flowers he was choosing could be taken as a great insult to the woman he was supposed to marry. “Lavender seems like a good choice- it is popular, and its meaning of calmness, grace, and tranquility makes it a flower I frequently work with,” he did not mention that given Chanyeol’s other choices, its lesser known quality of distrust was more appropriate.
Baekhyun paused as he came to the final flower to add to the bridal bouquet. “Rosebay…” the flower whose signal says to ‘beware’, Baekhyun mentally noted. He didn’t look at Chanyeol this time as he placed the final stems within the set.
The bouquet itself was beautiful, though Baekhyun couldn’t say that he saw it as something to be used in a wedding. It was twisted and perverse in its meaning, though beautiful and vibrant on the outside.
“I think she’ll like it. She doesn’t believe in that sort of thing,” Chanyeol’s dim expression turned into his bright, sunny smile as he hopped over to inspect the flowers, leaning in to sniff each one with a childlike wonder. Baekhyun had to wonder if he’d researched the meanings of flowers and chosen them on purpose or if it was just an odd coincidence.
Before he could ask him if he was sure, the ringing bell of the door signaled their first customer. Baekhyun watched as Chanyeol left to greet them before he sighed and looked at his creation. Something told him that even if the flowers hadn’t been chosen with their meanings in mind, they were perfect for the woman who was meant to carry them down the aisle.
Baekhyun quickly discovered that Chanyeol was far from the best assistant he could have asked for. He was clumsy, always dropping things, including expensive vases. He wasn’t good with flowers; they seemed to wilt at the sight of him. And, he wasn’t particularly very bright when it came to catching onto new skills quickly, but he had a good heart. It had been three weeks since Chanyeol had started working at the flower shop, and Baekhyun found himself looking forward to seeing that stupid grin and those bright, twinkling eyes.
“Careful,” Chanyeol caught him around the waist one day just as he teetered back on a ladder. Baekhyun hadn’t actually needed any help, he was just catching his balance, but Chanyeol was there to grab him. A soft blush spread across his cheeks and he swatted him away, trying to hide his embarrassment.
“I’m fine,” Baekhyun mumbled and sent Chanyeol on his way to talk to the customers, but he couldn’t stop the smile spreading across his own face. He looked forward to the little touches here and there as Chanyeol rested his head on top of his own or pushed his hair out of his eyes. Part of him wondered if Chanyeol was doing it on purpose and part of him wondered if he was really that damn oblivious.
He looked forward to the incessant chatter and how Chanyeol couldn’t seem to leave any secret left unsaid. It wasn’t hard to learn about the other man because he was more than happy to tell him. He was born in Seoul and had lived there his whole life. His parents owned the Park Conglomerate, so he’d grown up in the life of luxury, but other than that, he insisted he was normal. He was average in school, had average friends, and worked an average job in university. But now, he was going to have to take his seat at his father’s company, and that is how he found himself engaged to the miserable girl Baekhyun had the pleasure of meeting before any of this started.
She was the daughter of a rival company’s CEO, and her marriage to Chanyeol would mean the merger between the two national business moguls. Chanyeol didn’t want to marry her, but he really had no choice in the matter. It was either that or face being disowned by his family, so he went along with it, trying his best to make his parents proud. Baekhyun had tried not to laugh at the absurdity of it, but he could never imagine not marrying for love, and he told Chanyeol this. Chanyeol hadn’t responded, and Baekhyun realized that despite his outward compliance, Chanyeol wasn’t happy about the direction in which his life was headed.
“Do you love her?” Baekhyun asked one day, musing to himself aloud as he filled one of the requests for a dozen red roses. It was a stereotypical request, but Baekhyun couldn’t deny the grand gesture that came with twelve, beautifully clipped, red roses.
“What?” Chanyeol appeared startled at the question if the way he almost dropped the vase he was shelving was any indication.
“I asked if you loved her.”
The answer was so blunt that it surprised Baekhyun, causing there to be a small crash and it was his own doing rather than his clumsy assistant’s. He knelt down to pick up the pieces and was stopped by Chanyeol who shook his head. “Let me get the dust pan.”
Baekhyun stood and watched as Chanyeol swept away the broken fragments of the crystal butterfly he’d planned to attach to the bouquet. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked. It was uncalled for.”
“You don’t have to apologize,” Chanyeol sighed. “It was pretty obvious, huh?”
“To me or to her?”
“I hope it isn’t obvious to her,” there was some nervous laughter, but Chanyeol seemed as if he felt guilty for it. “It’s an arranged marriage, you know? It would be too much good luck if I loved her so soon. I am hoping that one day, maybe, with time, we can grow to love each other.”
“She seems fairly smitten with you, though,” Baekhyun observed, placing the final lily in the bridal bouquet for his next customer.
“It’s just my family’s name that she wants. She’s just like all of the rest.” Chanyeol’s voice gave more away about his true feelings to the girl than any words that had left his mouth.
Baekhyun decided not to pursue any further on that line of questioning. It was too soon to be delving into such personal matters. He already felt as if he’d crossed some unspoken boundaries by questioning Chanyeol’s devotion to his fiancée. Instead, he changed the subject before Chanyeol could turn the line of questions onto him. He was not ready to discuss that with someone, not yet, and he couldn’t expect Chanyeol to be either.
Today would mark exactly one month since he began working at the flower shop. Chanyeol was chatting with customers as they came in- talking with them as if he had knowledge of flowers, but really, Baekhyun had found that Chanyeol’s strength lay in his art of persuasion. The way he could talk and relate to people was a skill Baekhyun greatly admired yet could never hope to have. Chanyeol could make a stranger feel like his very best friend.
Baekhyun glanced over at him and exchanged a warm, kind smile when he heard the door open and saw the devil herself appear. “Chanyeollie, so this is where you’ve been getting off to,” she said with a honey-coated voice. She was a pretty girl by anyone’s standards, but Baekhyun found himself picking her apart from her chosen hairstyle to the shoes on her feet.
As Chanyeol went over to her to kiss her, Baekhyun’s heart flipped oddly in his chest, and he had to force himself to look away. He couldn’t understand why he felt so jealous of this girl. It wasn’t as if he wasn’t in a relationship or that he had feelings for Chanyeol. But he and Chanyeol never talked about their lovers aside from brief mentions, surprisingly enough.
For Baekhyun, he couldn’t find anything nice to say, and for Chanyeol, he never asked. And so they kept things professional when they weren’t outside sharing a smoke or catching a drink after work at the local bar on the street.
He couldn’t continue to listen to Chanyeol’s apologies or excuses to the girl, so he mentally excused himself and moved to the aisles to reorganize the flowers. But, he also couldn’t help himself, and so he peered over the shelves to watch them.
“If your father knew that you were working in a place like this…”
“I know. That’s why you won’t tell him,” Chanyeol said, his face faltering. It was different to see Chanyeol in this element. The light in his eyes was gone, replaced by a coldness Baekhyun never had the chance to see in him. It’s chilling, really, a glimpse into the world Chanyeol left behind every day he sets foot into this small floral space.
Chanyeol gazed at her evenly. “You won’t tell him.”
She huffed angrily. “Fine. I won’t tell him. But this ends as soon as we’re married, do you understand me? I’m with him on this. I won’t have you associating with some commoners just because you’re bored. You have an image to maintain if you’re going to become the company head.” The words should have stung more, but Baekhyun was unable to muster up any feelings of inadequacy. It wasn’t as if he cared what these people thought of him.
“… Okay,” Chanyeol agreed with a heavy sigh. “Go home and get some rest, yeah? You have a wedding to plan.”
The girl only stayed a few more minutes, chattering away about the topic of their wedding before she left his shop. It was the longest few moments of Baekhyun’s life. He couldn’t understand why he was so affected by Chanyeol’s agreement to leave the shop after the wedding, though he hadn’t cared what names the woman had called him. Perhaps he had grown accustomed to having him around after all this time. It was only a month, but it felt like it had been a year. It was all too natural to come through the door and see Chanyeol’s beaming smile. To know that it wasn’t going to last forever was a rude awakening.
When Chanyeol finally returned to post, Baekhyun offered him a small smile and he received one in return. For now, they would both go on with their friendship as long as if nothing had happened.
It had only been two weeks since Chanyeol’s fiancée had shown up at the shop, and in those two weeks so many things had begun to change. Chanyeol was no longer coming in early or staying over late. Gone were the evening bar-runs or morning cigarette chats. When he was at the shop, he kept a friendly yet polite distance from everyone. Baekhyun wanted to talk to him about it, but he realized that he and Chanyeol weren’t exactly what most people would call friends, and yet Chanyeol is the closest thing to a friend Baekhyun has ever had.
Despite the fact that his week seemed to be getting worse and worse every passing second, a buzz from his phone made him light up with joy. As he looked down at the screen, a very familiar, very welcome name was staring back at him.
Chanyeol must have noticed the stupid grin on his face because he came over to him, smiling as well. “You look happy for once! What’s the occasion?” Baekhyun had to quickly hide the phone so that Chanyeol wouldn’t read over his shoulder. The other boy had a habit of doing that, and it honestly made Baekhyun a little uncomfortable, though he had nothing to hide.
“Ah, well…” he wondered, at first, if he should tell Chanyeol. He had never talked about his personal life in that much detail, and he most certainly had not told Chanyeol that he was homosexual. He never told anyone that, and if he had, it would have to be someone he trusted a lot more than a man he’d only known for a little over a month. “Someone very important to me is going to come visit today.” He explained in a careful tone, not wanting to divulge anything too revealing.
“Ooh,” Chanyeol grinned, and Baekhyun found himself wanting to smack that cheeky look off his stupid face. That wasn’t exactly an uncommon emotion as far as Baekhyun was concerned when Chanyeol was around. “Someone special? You mean your girlfriend?”
“Something like that.”
“You didn’t tell me that you had a girlfriend!” Chanyeol actually had the nerve to sound offended to which Baekhyun couldn’t help but scoff in his direction.
“So? You never told me that you were going to quit after your wedding.” As soon as the words left his mouth, Baekhyun realized that it had been a mistake to say that. Chanyeol’s expression faltered and the grin did leave his face though not for the reasons Baekhyun wanted. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…” he couldn’t find the words. Didn’t mean what? To bring that up? To spy on him?
Chanyeol waved it off and shrugged before putting on a smile again, though this time it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “It’s okay. I just don’t want to think about it. Believe it or not, I’m really enjoying my time here. It’s refreshing.”
It was a sentiment Baekhyun couldn’t quite say he understood; he didn’t quite get how working a poor man’s job was refreshing when he earned millions every year just from sitting in a stuffy office. But Baekhyun wasn’t ever really wealthy, so he couldn’t sympathize with the upper class’s “problems” like arranged marriages or boredom while earning a ridiculous amount of cash. But still, he could at least pretend to sympathize, so he nodded in response, deciding to let his physical response speak louder than his words.
They worked in silence, Baekhyun not trusting himself to speak again. He had clearly overstepped a boundary with his last words. Chanyeol had really been working hard which wasn’t at all what Baekhyun would have thought a rich boy of being capable. Despite his shortcomings in talent, he made up for it in enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Chanyeol seemed to forgive Baekhyun after only a few hours, making his way over to him and leaning his chin on his shoulder as he watched him work with the flowers.
“What on earth do you think you’re doing?” Baekhyun barely spared him a glance, trying to ignore the way the heat rushed to his cheeks and his heart pounded loudly in his ears.
“I’m trying to cheer you up.”
“Stop it, you’re being annoying,” Baekhyun grabbed one of the flowers he was working with and uses it to bop Chanyeol on the head which makes the other man laugh. Chanyeol had a beautiful laugh, too. It was infectious and made Baekhyun’s own lips crack into a smile until he was laughing too. “You’re such an idiot. Why do I even put up with you?”
The familiar voice made Baekhyun’s blood run cold, and he jerked away from Chanyeol sharply, whirring around. There, standing was a very handsome man, dressed casually though he looked as if he belonged on the cover of a magazine. His dark hair was thick, combed back, and perfectly styled. He had high cheek-bones and double-eyelids to make a girl’s heart melt. He was a little shorter than Chanyeol, but only be an inch or two which was impressive, though unlike Chanyeol he doesn’t look so lanky and strung-out. He was, rather, built and sturdy.
“Tae Suk…” Baekhyun breathed out, wiping his hands off and making his way over to him. It would take an idiot not to notice the way Baekhyun was grinning, but it would take a more observant person to notice the anxiety and apprehension that manifested in the smallest of ways. His eyes were just a little too wide, and his hands would not stop playing with the small gardener’s apron. “You actually came. I didn’t think you would!”
Little did Baekhyun know Chanyeol was that person.
Baekhyun had been with his boyfriend Tae Suk for nearly five years. It was impressive by most peoples’ standards in modern days. He’d met then man by chance and fallen for him over night. At the time, Tae Suk had just started university and Baekhyun was in second-year of high school. He had just been coming to terms with his sexuality and had been looking for a way to express himself without destroying the relationship he had with his family.
Unfortunately, they had found out anyways, but Tae Suk had been loving and supportive. He had always been there for him and had even let Baekhyun move in with him when he’d needed a place to stay.
But Tae Suk was busy. He was a director of films, so he was always away. It was rare that Baekhyun saw him these days which made moments like these all the more dear to him. Baekhyun couldn’t see the way Chanyeol faltered as Tae Suk hugged him nor his worried expression as the man took him by the wrist and let him out to the back of the store. Baekhyun was beaming now, all anxiety was gone. His Tae Suk was here, he’d kept his promise.
“Tae Suk, I’m so happy you came! There’s so much I can show you! You’ll have to see the bouquet I’m working on. There’s one I made for you for your grand opening, I thought-“
A resounding smack sent Baekhyun recoiling back, a gasp of pain elicited from his lip. Tears began to sting his eyes as he fell back against the brick wall, his hand reaching up to touch the injured area. The state of shock prevented him from feeling the remaining blows over his head and across his face. Tae Suk didn’t say anything. He never said anything, and Baekhyun didn’t have it in him to cry out for help. Perhaps he was ashamed or perhaps he felt he deserved it.
Rough, calloused hands grabbed his delicate wrists roughly. “What were you doing with him?!” Baekhyun did not answer which earned him a hard, jarring shake. “Tell me! Who is he?!”
“Please stop. Y-You know I’m not doing anything,” Baekhyun pleaded in a tiny voice, the only sound he could muster. But instead of stopping, Tae Suk just shook him again.
“Answer me, you cheating whore!”
“Cheating? Ha…” Baekhyun was surprised by the words that followed. “That’s rich, coming from the cheating master himself.” He expected the hard blow that was delivered, but that didn’t make it hurt less. But at least Tae Suk had finally let him go, leaving him to clutch his face and double over from the dizzy feeling that was sinking in.
“Tell me who the fuck he is or I swear to god-“
“-What? You’ll hit me?” Baekhyun could see from under his bangs the way Tae Suk’s eyes narrowed, and he realized he didn’t want to push his luck any further. His body screamed at him to surrender, and he did. He always did, despite the fact it made him feel weak and disgusting each time he realized he was going to give in to this man.
“His name is Park Chanyeol… he’s working here part time to pay for the bouquets his fiancée ruined, okay? There’s nothing going on between us.”
“He was all over you back there.”
“That’s just how he is,” he was rewarded with another warning look, and he sighed. “I’ll tell him to stop. I didn’t think anything of it...”
“No, you’re going to tell him to quit,” Tae Suk informed him with such conviction that Baekhyun had to bite his tongue to keep from reminding him that he was not the one who owned the flower shop so he wasn’t the one who got to make the decisions.
“My shop is busy this time of year. I could really use the help.”
“Then hire someone else. Not him.” Tae Suk turns on his heel and heads for the door.
“Hire who!? A pretty girl so you can fuck her, too!? I’m not dispensable, you know! I’m your boyfriend!” Baekhyun screamed at him, but it fell on deaf ears.
“Then start acting like it.”
Just like that, Tae Suk was gone. Baekhyun leaned against the wall and let out the sobs he had been holding back. He wouldn’t let Tae Suk know just how much their fights affected him, if one could call the fact Baekhyun got the shit beaten out of him an actual fight. It was abuse, and Baekhyun knew it, deep down he knew it, but he was too weak to do anything about it, and that just infuriated him even more.
He sobbed until his lungs hurt and his throat was sore. He sobbed until he could not cry anymore. And when he was done, he picked himself up. He wiped away the blood and dirt from his hands and face with his little green apron, and he went into the back room to apply his foundation.
The bruises from last time were almost gone, but now there were new ones where they had been- deep, purple, ugly bruises that marred his otherwise flawless skin. He dabbed the creamy substance around the affected skin and under his eyes until the person he saw looking back at him wasn’t the person who was once again the victim of domestic abuse.
When he returned to the storefront, he didn’t say anything to Chanyeol despite the worried gaze. It was only to the incessant questions of his well-being that provoked him to respond in any way. And, if he was honest with himself, he had to keep from laughing at the irony as he replied.
“I’m fine,” he said.