Pairing: Baekhyun & Sehun
Length: ~3200 words
Summary: Baekhyun likes Peter Pan and thinks it's a grasshopper that stars in Pinocchio. Sehun tries to convince him it's a cricket.
a/n: this story is dedicated to a few people: my daughter and co-maintainer of this lj livingontofu, my crazy sebaek shipping friend nicolette, my always angsty mother whom I affectionately call yazi and second daughter who'd never admit me her umma pleaseuu for encouraging me in finishing this.
Lunch bells always meant that it was time to quickly get out of his seat and make his way to the stairwell behind the canteen. Sehun hardly spent time in the student cafeteria with his classmates; he preferred the privacy of the rarely used staircase with Baekhyun.
He had discovered Baekhyun’s little hideout (their little hideout, Sehun liked to argue) while looking for a quiet spot to read one day and saw the older quietly enjoying his lunch of homemade sandwiches. They hadn’t bothered each other much, keeping to themselves, but Baekhyun had broken the silence and asked Sehun what he was reading and whether he wanted some food.
Sehun would never admit it but he had been embarrassed – he was reading a book of fairytales. He didn’t want his classmates to throw him funny looks and laugh at him for being a ten-year-old who still loved fairytales and hence he had hidden away to read his book.
“It’s- It’s just teen fiction,” Sehun stuttered.
“No, it’s not, I saw fairy-something,” Baekhyun stated, trying to get a glimpse despite Sehun’s frantic hands trying to push him away.
“Okay, okay, it’s a book of fairytales.”
Sehun awaited the peal of laughter that he was sure to come but the older never laughed. Instead, Baekhyun asked, eyes wide, “Is there a story of Peter Pan in it?”
Sehun nodded and they read the story together.
“That was a good read. Say, are you hungry? Would you like part of my sandwich?” Baekhyun offered.
Sehun eyed it warily, staring especially at the little bit of lettuce that stuck out of it. He took it anyway, but not without pulling out the green, leafy bit of the sandwich.
“I almost forgot. I’m Baekhyun.”
From then on, they would meet everyday at the old, unused stairwell by the back of the student’s cafeteria, Sehun with a book, Baekhyun with a box of sandwiches.
“What’s your favorite fairytale, Sehun?” Baekhyun asked one day, words a little garbled from the chewing of his sandwich.
“Pinocchio,” Sehun replied with a grin. “I like the Blue Fairy who saves the day and makes him a proper boy.”
“Oh, the puppet boy and the… grasshopper? Was it a grasshopper?”
“Cricket!” Sehun yelled and the older flinched back a little. “Jiminy Cricket!”
“Whoa, okay, what’s the big deal man? So it was a cricket. Peter Pan battling Captain Hook and flying around still beats being trapped in a whale’s stomach!”
Baekhyun could barely dodge as Sehun launched himself against the older, swearing to make the older admit that Pinocchio was as good as Peter Pan or he would never read fairytales again.
They don’t meet again, for a long time, after Baekhyun graduated from elementary school two years before Sehun did. There was an empty feeling in Sehun’s heart each time he made his way back to the same flight of stairs, hoping to see Baekhyun there but Baekhyun never came back. He missed the older’s bright greeting of Sehun! You’re here!, the older’s laugh every time he misread a word in the storybook, the older’s sandwiches that always had lettuce even when he said he didn’t like them (and there was once Baekhyun handed him a sandwich with only lettuce in it. Sehun didn’t talk to him the next day). He’d sit at the exact same spot as he always did with Baekhyun and read aloud the story to himself. He tried bringing sandwiches along but they didn’t taste the same.
Eight years later
Sehun had been lost for a while, trying to locate his room. (Why are college dorms so huge? he had whined.) Staring at the useless slip of paper that was supposed to guide him, he trudged about unhappily until he bumped into a slightly shorter schoolmate.
“Ah, I’m sorry,” he apologized. “Would you happen to know where this room is?”
But the other party didn’t direct him to his room like he hoped he would. Instead, the guy grabbed him by the arm hard. “Your letter is addressed to Sehun. Are you the boy who used to read in the stairwell at Jungwon Elementary?”
Sehun nodded unsurely, confused.
“I can’t believe it, so many years have passed since we last met,” Baekhyun chirped.
Sehun smiled. He was glad to have met his old friend (and more importantly found his way to his room).
“You’re shorter than me,” he remarked bluntly.
Baekhyun’s face fell immediately, motioning to smack Sehun, murmuring something about genes and alleles that didn’t factor his growth. Sehun didn’t miss the part about a certain someone possessing all the right genes, growing up tall and good-looking, though.
“Um, what are you majoring in?” Sehun asked, eager to change the topic.
Baekhyun’s expression brightened as he proudly introduced himself as a major of psychology. “How about you?”
“Han, I met him again,” Sehun chuckled over the phone.
“Who?” Lu Han asked absentmindedly.
“Baekhyun. The boy who I used to have lunch break with everyday behind the canteen.”
Sehun heard his boyfriend continue flipping pages of his textbook frantically followed by a soft, disinterested hum.
“Are you busy?”
Lu Han sighed, “Test coming up. I’ve got to do well for this one. Sehun, why don’t we talk some other time? I’ll call you at the end of the week, all right?”
Sehun didn’t even have a chance to answer with a yes or no before he was greeted with the monotonous tone of being hung up on. He inhaled deeply and closed his eyes.
It was the fifth time this month.
Baekhyun kept silent as he watched Sehun down another can of alcohol and crush it. He had tried taking a sip but regretted the decision immediately, spitting out the contents. He had never liked alcohol much. The younger of the two laughed at him. The laugh was a bitter one, though. Baekhyun would have never expect the little boy who loved to read fairytales would come running to him about an unhappy love life and drink alcohol that he himself wouldn’t touch.
“He didn’t even ask me how was settling into college. All he cares about is his goddamn doctorate these days. He used to be so sweet. We’d go places together, we’d talk for hours—”
Sehun’s voice cracked and tears began to flow. Baekhyun kept quiet, simply holding the younger’s hand in his own, lips brushing against the younger’s cheek.
“Do you know why I always wanted you to read Peter Pan?” Baekhyun hummed softly. “Because the story tells of a little boy who believed he could fly just with happy thoughts. It’s hopeful, don’t you think? Never having to grow old, worry about stuff like these and being able to freely fly about. And it’s all just because he’s a happy boy.”
For the rest of the night, they both sat on the ledge of the dorm’s rooftop, looking for the star that Peter Pan brought Wendy past, to Neverland.
The next morning, Baekhyun surprised Sehun with the very same book they used to read (Sehun laughed and earned a slap from the older. “I searched the library high and low for this, mind you,” Baekhyun stated) and a box of his homemade sandwiches. There wasn’t an old unused staircase behind the school canteen like in elementary school so they could only make do with the rooftop again.
“Why Peter Pan?” Sehun asked after finishing the story together for the first time in many years.
Baekhyun smiled wryly. “It’s a hopeful and happy story.”
“No, I mean, why do you like it for its hopefulness and happiness?”
Ten years ago
Baekhyun cowered in fear behind the couch. It wasn’t the first time his parents were quarrelling and they had been coming to blows more and more frequently. He hadn’t seen his father in two days and he thought it was a good thing. As long as his parents were separated, everything would be all right; his mother wouldn’t be crying and there would be no shouting and crashing of furniture all about.
But his father came home this day reeking of alcohol and began to shout and curse at his mother. Minutes barely passed before the ornamental vase that sat by the telephone was picked up by his mother and thrown at his father. There was more shouting and Baekhyun sobbed as he covered his ears and squeezed his eyes shut. He reckoned that if he couldn’t see nor hear it, he could pretend it wasn’t happening.
He had not expected a shriek followed by a sudden silence. Clattering of ceramic pieces was heard followed by heavy footsteps in a hurry to leave the house. Baekhyun crawled out of his hiding place as soon as he heard the door slammed shut. Approaching the other side of the couch slowly, he could hear someone breathing with increased labor. What he saw was nothing a ten-year-old should have seen. In fact, it was something that nobody should ever see. His mother lay motionless on the ground, clutching a shard that pierced her in the gut deeply.
Baekhyun cried and cried, never leaving the shadow of the couch as his mother gasped for her last breath and finally fell unconscious to never wake up.
The events after that were a blur. He was found and sent to live with his mother’s cousin and he never spoke much, preferring to keep to himself. He did everything on his own and his aunt felt bad for the poor child who would never forget the traumatic incident. Her last resort to have the child open up was a storybook, The Adventures of Peter Pan.
He read the book silently when his aunt was not watching and gradually, smiles replaced the tears and Baekhyun found his voice again.
“So you have me to thank for coming out of your shell,” Sehun spoke bluntly and this time, Baekhyun didn’t hesitate to smack him on the head.
“Couldn’t you be less insensitive when commenting about others?” Baekhyun scowled.
Sehun laughed. The rest of the morning was spent talking about old times and future plans. He didn’t even realize his phone was vibrating, the screen lighting up to show his boyfriend’s picture and name.
“Oh Sehun, why are you not picking up?” Lu Han fumed at his phone.
Hadn’t the boy been trying to talk to him all week? Why wasn’t he picking up anymore?
Lu Han sighed and admitted it was his fault for neglecting his boyfriend for the past few days. Sending a text to ask Sehun out on the weekend, he smiled and slipped his phone into his bag and made his way into the examination hall.
Sehun was ecstatic when he saw the text message and replied an affirmative immediately.
Weekends rolled around too slow for Sehun. He had been so excited to go on a date with Lu Han; he hardly noticed that Baekhyun hardly spoke that day as they studied together, face paler than usual. The older had been coughing a bit too, but the only thing on Sehun’s mind had been Lu Han. Baekhyun smiled, patting the younger on the shoulder to have fun, don’t get back too late! before returning to his room. He felt terrible from sitting in the direction of the wind almost every night with Sehun on the rooftop but he didn’t say anything. He didn’t want to have Sehun worry over him whilst on a date with Lu Han. The kid hadn’t even look that happy for a long while. With a smile, Baekhyun dumped his lecture notes onto the floor before crawling into his bed to rest.
“Han!” Sehun smiled upon seeing his favorite boy.
“Hey baby. How’s college so far?” Lu Han chuckled, pulling Sehun in for a quick peck on the lips.
“Not bad. I told you I met Baekhyun again, right?”
“Were you not listening? He’s the boy that used to read with me in elementary school…”
Sehun drawled on and on, not realizing that Lu Han was barely paying attention as they made their way to a restaurant for dinner.
“What do you want to eat?” Luhan asked.
“Han, have you been listening?” Sehun finally asked after placing his order.
“Beomhyun right? Go on.” Lu Han smiled but Sehun did not return it.
“It makes me really wonder, Han, have you ever listened to me talk once recently?” Sehun stood up from his seat. “Let’s talk when you’re willing to listen to me for once, all right? By the way, his name is Baekhyun.”
Lu Han seemed to move to stop him from leaving, but Sehun left much too quickly.
Sehun did not return until past eleven. He had loitered around aimlessly; visiting places he used to visit with Lu Han when the latter had been less busy. He thought about Baekhyun, smiling a little as he thought about how the older was there for him all this while. Having an urge to see Baekhyun then and there, he half-jogged back to the dorms.
He called Baekhyun immediately upon reaching the dormitory, but Baekhyun did not pick up. Finding it strange, he headed to the rooftop but could not find the older guy.
Baekhyun heard his phone ringing and reached over groggily. However, his eyes could not focus on his phone and his hand could not grab hold of it. The phone stopped ringing after a while and Baekhyun slipped back under his covers, beads of sweat breaking out on his forehead.
A knock came on his door and he stumbled out of bed, tripping over his sheets and landing head first onto the floor. He vaguely saw someone approach him and partially yell at him, call for help, but that was it. He felt like someone cracked the floor of his room to a thousand pieces and blacked out.
Sehun paced the hospital’s corridor frantically. When the doctor finally walked out of the examination room, he rushed forward. “Is he okay? Will he be fine?”
“Please calm down. I cannot be sure since he was brought in with trauma to the head and hyperpyrexia – a fever higher than 41.5 degrees Celsius. It’s hard to say if the fever caused his brain cells to…”
Sehun slumped to the floor. He recently just had a lecture on parts of the brain. He didn’t need to hear the doctor go on.
Baekhyun looked terrible. Lips cracked, fringe messy, and awfully pale skin. The intravenous drip stuck into Baekhyun’s hand sickened Sehun. He closed his eyes at the sight, clutching the side of the hospital bed tightly.
How did he not notice how sick Baekhyun was? Why did he not go back earlier? Why did he only care about himself?
Sehun didn’t care that it had been two days since he last attended lectures. He couldn’t care that he had twenty-two missed calls and eighteen were from Lu Han. He only texted Lu Han three words: “Let’s break up.” All he cared about was whether Baekhyun would wake up.
Sehun awoke to someone tapping him on the shoulder lightly.
“Baekhyun?” he questioned groggily, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.
The orbs that stared back at him only radiated confusion and puzzlement, and a little fear.
Sehun went back to his room for the first time in days. He took a shower for half an hour, of which twenty minutes were spent crying, his tears washed away by cold water from the showerhead. It was his entire fault. Baekhyun didn’t remember what happened in the past ten years. He woke up thinking they were in 2003 and went into hysterics when shown a newspaper bearing the date 20 August 2013. He pushed Sehun away when the latter enveloped him in a hug to calm him down. He remembered Sehun all right, but as a ten-year-old who liked reading fairytales in the stairwell with him, not a twenty-year-old psychology undergraduate. He didn’t remember meeting Sehun again, didn’t remember days spent together with Sehun on the dorm’s rooftop and didn’t remember it was Sehun who indirectly caused his hospitalization. Guilt struck Sehun again as he reminded himself that he was at fault for the state Baekhyun was in.
His fist met the wall of the shower.
The mess he created, he would clean it up.
“Here,” Sehun murmured, his voice hardly more than a whisper.
He placed the book of fairytales in Baekhyun’s hands, flipping it open to the story of Peter Pan. It had taken him a whole day to finally drag his feet out of his room, carrying that book that weighed like a ton to him to Baekhyun.
Baekhyun’s eyes met his in confusion. Tears threatening to fall, Sehun quickly turned to leave the ward.
“Wait…! Sehun, right?” Baekhyun called out, unsure.
He stopped in his tracks. He could hear Baekhyun inhale deeply.
“I’m not sure what happened in the past decade, but one thing I’m sure of is that the Sehun I remember was the best friend I’ve ever had. We’d meet everyday for lunch and read storybooks together. I’d make him read Peter Pan at least once a week and he would never not oblige to my request. He would argue with me about the differences between a cricket and a grasshopper because I like to tease him about his favorite fairytale—“
Sehun let out a choked sob and turned to punch the older in the shoulder lightly. “I swear Baekhyun, if you don’t stop calling Jiminy Cricket a grasshopper I will personally choke you.”
Baekhyun chuckled a little but the tears on his face were evident. “If you do that, I’ll make sure your sandwiches have extra lettuce.”
This is it, Sehun thought as he led Baekhyun into their elementary school.
He had spent a few hours explaining to the headmaster of the school their predicament and the man had been kind enough to let them in for a while. Children aged seven to twelve stared at them curiously as they made their way down the corridors to the canteen, more specifically, the staircase behind the canteen. When they finally approached the door to the stairs, Baekhyun stopped. Sehun shot him a quizzical look.
“We’re starting all over again, as a ten and twelve-year-old,” Baekhyun remarked, inhaling deeply.
“Yeah, kinda like Peter Pan, no? Never aging,” Sehun chuckled.
“We’re going back in age, that’s different,” Baekhyun retorted.
“C’mon if you can’t even differentiate a cricket from a grasshopper, this should hardly make a difference either.”
Baekhyun was about to retort but Sehun shut him up, pressing his lips against the older’s.
“If we’re starting all over again, I want it to start this way. Not a fight about crickets and grasshoppers,” Sehun reasoned, eyes fleeting for a moment.
Baekhyun laughed. “Okay. Ready?”
“To Neverland?” Sehun asked.
“To Neverland,” Baekhyun replied with a smile.
His smile was so bright, Sehun cannot help but grin as well as he brought out a handful of confetti from his pocket and showered it onto the boy before him. Baekhyun laughed, raising his hands to catch the rain of paper.
“Let’s go then, second star to the right!”
Baekhyun grabbed hold of Sehun’s hand and pulled him along, pushing the door to the staircase open.
Even though their happily ever after seemed really far and like a blur to him, the interlaced fingers tell Sehun that one day, they’d find it together.