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Title: No Milk Today

Pairing: Baekhyun/Chanyeol

Rating: PG-15

Genre: Romance, a bit of fluff, trace amounts of angst

Length: Oneshot

Word Count: ~3,000

Warnings: Implied love scene, mild language. Any lyrics used do not belong to me.

Summary: Chanyeol sees Baekhyun everywhere, in all things. This becomes especially apparent in his absence. Inspired by the Herman’s Hermits song ‘No Milk Today’.

The cold kitchen floor is no place to stand at five-to-six in the morning, Chanyeol thinks to himself, but sleep is hard to come by when you’re nursing a wounded heart and a guilty conscience - as well as an insatiable craving for a bowl of soggy cornflakes sprinkled liberally with sugar.

He sets the milk down on the counter and blinks at it, eyes still watery and unfocused from lack of sleep. There's almost a full bottle left – that’ll last him at least until tomorrow. He's the only one here to drink it anyway, and apart from the occasional bowl of cereal, he only takes a dash of milk in his morning coffee.

Baekhyun was always the one who liked his coffee milky; Chanyeol prefers it nearly black.

It would always be the same old schtick, day after day. Baekhyun would stir something like half a bottle of full-cream milk into his coffee, and Chanyeol would point at it and make the very same smart-alecky comment.

Hey. You want some coffee with that milk?

And then he’d be met with the very same answer, followed by the very same exaggerated eye-roll.

Quiet, you.

But still, Baekhyun would always laugh - even if it was only to make Chanyeol feel better about himself for being unforgivably lame and predictable.

Stupid wisecracks have always been Chanyeol's specialty.

On closer inspection of the milk, Chanyeol can see that there are lip marks on the rim, as per bloody usual. Baekhyun had obviously been drinking right out of the bottle again.

Well, perhaps that won't be a problem anymore, he thinks to himself as he gulps down half of the remaining milk – also right out of the bottle. Chanyeol never drinks from the bottle – well, he’s doing it now, but today isn’t a normal day, so he’ll let this one slide. Baekhyun would always try to justify the unclean habit with something along the lines of ‘what’s a little bit of spittle among friends?’, but Chanyeol was never convinced. They’ve both shared more than a few bodily fluids at this point, granted, but it’s just the principle.

So admittedly, he doesn’t really know why he did it just then… but maybe it’s because Baekhyun isn’t here to call him out on his hypocrisy - and also, it’s as though a tiny insignificant part of Baekhyun will remain with him in a way, even if it's just a smear of his DNA from the mouth of a milk bottle. As stupid as that might sound to any other normal person.

In an attempt to mentally prepare himself for a worst-case scenario, Chanyeol tries to focus on whatever positives he can scrape together from this whole sorry situation. There are plenty of infuriating little habits he'd probably be glad to see the back of, like Baekhyun’s propensity for sleep-talking and stealing all the covers, and leaving empty toilet rolls in the bathroom instead of replacing them. Then there are his clothes, which are still scattered all over the floor of their bedroom – the ones he didn’t manage to hastily stuff into his suitcase when he stormed out of the house last night – possibly for good, Chanyeol can’t be sure. He didn’t really say anything when he left; he merely slammed the door near off its hinges, and that was that.

Chanyeol rinses out his empty bowl, noticing that Baekhyun’s food-encrusted crockery from the night before is still festering in the sink. Chanyeol would always end up washing both his and Baekhyun's dishes anyway; it was easier than reminding Baekhyun to do it, and besides, if you want something done right, you’re better off doing it yourself... but there’s something keeping him from doing it right now. Something he can't quite explain.

It’s not that Baekhyun’s selfish, as such – he’s just absent-minded, emotionally sensitive, and perhaps a bit flighty... but he’s also sharp and witty and endlessly intriguing; one smile could tell a thousand stories, and at the same time, could also mask a thousand sorrows. It took Chanyeol a good few years to learn to distinguish between the happy smiles and the sad ones. Both are equally breathtaking, but in the end, it’s all in the eyes.

Chanyeol, on the other hand, if he had to describe himself, would employ colourless adjectives like ‘calm’ and ‘rational’… in a nutshell, a bottler who internalises most things and only goes off very occasionally. But when he does inevitably erupt, it's always messier than a Science Fair volcano - just like the one he made with baking soda, vinegar and red food colouring in the sixth grade.

Goodness gracious, what a disaster that was.

Chanyeol thinks everyone’s entitled to the odd explosion; withholding strong emotions for lengthy periods of time isn’t healthy, after all. But the problem with these explosions, however rare they may be, is that Chanyeol’s mouth usually ends up spewing forth toxic things in the process – things that his head and heart will only regret for days afterwards. Today is just another one of those regretful days.

The next few days aren’t looking too good either.

Chanyeol can’t quite get his head around it all. It hasn’t even been twelve hours yet, but perhaps he should be seriously worried. It’s not really out of character, to be fair; Baekhyun is wont to run off even after the smallest tiff, and last night’s disagreement may have been many things, but ‘small’ could not be counted among them.

But still, he always comes back.

He always comes back.


…So why isn’t he back?

Chanyeol looks down at his watch and sighs. Six-fifteen a.m. The milkman should be doing the rounds soon.

He messily scrawls the words 'no milk today ' on a piece of scrap paper and shoves it under the front door, before dragging himself back to bed for one last hour of unsuccessful sleep.

- - -

Chanyeol hauls himself through the front door again that evening, tired and soaked to the bone after being caught in the rain without an umbrella (he doesn't believe in weather forecasts), only to find that Baekhyun still hasn’t returned. He dumps his briefcase by the door and sheds his wet jacket while his deflating heart settles in for the night, somewhere down in the depths of his stomach.

It’s been a long day, and he should be glad to be home. Their little terrace house may be modest – a poky fixer-upper that they never really got around to fixer-upping - but they somehow managed to breathe new life into it together, assembling it piece by piece into their own unique picture of a happy home.

And now half of that picture is missing.

As he moves silently from one empty room to the next, it occurs to Chanyeol that the practical purpose of each household object has become secondary to the memories tied to it – memories invariably linked to Baekhyun. In their bedroom is the old four-poster bed that creaks terribly at the slightest shifting of weight, which would always disturb their sleep, as well as make any sort of hanky-panky a noisy and unintentionally hilarious affair. In the opposite corner stands Baekhyun’s battered piano. It’s definitely seen better days, and room is scarce enough as it is, but Hell would freeze over before he’d be parted from it. Chanyeol had long since given up trying. He’s surprised Baekhyun didn’t attempt to roll it right out the door with him when he left.

In the bathroom there’s a clawfoot cast iron bathtub with two leaky taps where they would occasionally soak together, wrapped in each other’s arms, reaping the soothing benefits of hot water and silence after a long, tiring day. The old mahogany grandfather clock in the hall would always spook the living daylights out of Baekhyun whenever it struck loudly on the hour, even though he should have been well-accustomed to it by now. And who could forget the coat stand by the front door - the one they would always bump into whenever they stumbled in after a leisurely wine-soaked evening, distracted by desperate kisses and trying not to trip over the carelessly strewn clothing already littering the path to their bed.

Chanyeol finds himself stepping out into the hall several times, hopeful eyes seeking out the black Bakelite telephone on the table next to the clock. He keeps thinking that he heard it ringing, but the imagination is a powerful thing, and even more so when it joins forces with hope.

Then his heart very nearly leaps out of his chest when the phone finally does ring, but when he picks up, it’s someone else.

Of course it’s someone else.

There follows a brief, stilted conversation about something entirely inconsequential, which Chanyeol wipes from his mind-slate almost as soon as he returns the receiver to its cradle. He stands there for a moment looking down at it in numbed silence, contemplating jamming his too-big index finger into those too-tiny holes and dialing a number, any number - but he doesn’t have any numbers to dial. He doesn’t even know where Baekhyun is.

And then comes a welcome distraction – a memory of a time when Baekhyun accidentally dropped that heavy receiver onto his own toe and broke it – the toe, that is, not the phone.

He stopped walking around barefoot for a good while after that.

Chanyeol chuckles to himself and returns to the living room, where he slowly sinks onto the old sofa, and there’s only the crackled crooning of a Frank Sinatra record to keep him company. It’s his and Baekhyun’s favourite record, one of few that they’d occasionally push the furniture aside to dance to after a night out. Sometimes they’d get a bit silly and Chanyeol would throw in some twirls, spinning Baekhyun around and around until he was dizzy and laughing and threatening to throw up all over Chanyeol’s dinner jacket. There was a time when they sent both a standing lamp and a ceramic vase crashing to the wooden floor in a single evening, stifling their giggles as they cleared away the pieces together; the record ended up getting scratched that night, and now it always skips at the best part of Chanyeol’s favourite song - their favourite song.

But each time that I do, just the thought of you makes me stop-stop-stop-stop-stop-stop-stop-stop-

…Before I begin,” Chanyeol mumbles to himself, finishing the broken verse as he returns the damaged record to its sleeve. One day he’ll replace it - but for now, there’s still that gnawing, unwelcome thought in the back of his mind that he might need to find someone else to dance with first.

He resumes his seat with a well-thumbed, dog-eared paperback and listens to the rain instead, sending out a little prayer that wherever Baekhyun is, he is at least warm and dry and safe. The thought alone brings him comfort, if only a little.

So preoccupied is he with his book and his thoughts that Chanyeol doesn’t hear a key turning in the lock several minutes later. He only looks up when he notices an endearingly bedraggled figure standing in the doorway, shrugging off his coat and shaking the rainwater from his hair.

Chanyeol glances down at Baekhyun’s feet as the other man enters the room, and pushes his horn-rimmed reading glasses back up the bridge of his nose when they begin to slide downwards.

“Why are you still wearing your shoes..?”

Baekhyun dumps a carry-bag on the coffee table and looks at Chanyeol with a tired, vaguely irritable expression.

“Well, ‘hello’ to you too…” he mutters, trudging back out into the hallway to leave his wet shoes by the door.

“I’m sorry. ‘Hello’ is what I meant to say, of course,” Chanyeol calls out after him. “Why didn’t you come home last night? Where on earth have you been?”

He can hear the barely-there sound of slippered feet sliding over the wooden floor as Baekhyun reappears, his expression a little softer than before.

“My mother’s,” he says quietly, biting his lip.

“Well, why didn’t you call? I was worried..”

Baekhyun collapses onto the sofa next to Chanyeol.

“I don’t know. I was angry, and I needed some time and space to cool down. It took a little longer than I anticipated, but now I’m back, and I even brought Chinese food as a peace offering,” he says, nodding towards the bag on the coffee table, “even though you’re the one who should be apologising to me, while we’re being honest..”

“I know,” Chanyeol says quietly, “and I’m sorry. I really am.”

Baekhyun shakes his head and smiles weakly. “It’s fine. Water under the bridge. Shall we go eat..?”

Chanyeol shrugs. “We can eat right here, if you want.”

Baekhyun frowns at him. “You always complain whenever I eat anywhere other than the kitchen..”

“I think tonight we can make an exception,” Chanyeol replies, reaching over for the bag. He hands Baekhyun a container and a pair of disposable wooden chopsticks, waiting for him to take his first few mouthfuls before starting himself. Baekhyun chews noisily and occasionally stops to lick sauce from his lips, and it never occurred to Chanyeol that he would miss such an ordinary sight so terribly after only a single day.

Baekhyun pauses mid-chew when he feels Chanyeol looking at him. “What..?”

Chanyeol only smiles and shakes his head. “Never mind.”

But he only continues to steal glances at Baekhyun when his attentions are elsewhere.

And then, when they’re getting ready for bed a little later and Baekhyun is unknotting his tie, Chanyeol is still looking at him. He can’t help himself. They’d only been apart for a little less than twenty-four hours, but he’d convinced himself it could potentially be a lot longer than that. And now Baekhyun is back, and Chanyeol’s eyes are drinking him in like a man stranded in the desert for days without water.

“What’s wrong?” Baekhyun asks, warily meeting Chanyeol’s gaze in the mirror of the dresser table. “Why do you keep looking at me like that?”

“Come here,” Chanyeol says simply, patting the space next to him on the bed.

Baekhyun drapes his tie over the chair in front of the dresser and wanders over to stand in front of Chanyeol.

“Well, here I am..” he says, laughing nervously. He sounds a little shy, and Chanyeol likes it. It somehow suits him.

“Well, aren't you going to kiss me, then?”

Baekhyun leans over to give him a quick peck on the lips and begins to move away, but Chanyeol locks his arms around his lover’s waist before he can get very far.

“Wait - don’t go. Not yet..”

“I’m not going to run away, Chanyeol,” Baekhyun says with an exasperated sigh, “I’m just going to wash up..”

Chanyeol pulls Baekhyun onto his lap to face him, and begins to undo the buttons on his white cotton shirt, still a little damp from the rain. “Stay here a moment,” he whispers, “please..”

“I haven’t bathed,” Baekhyun whines, but Chanyeol is too busy kissing the soft, pale stomach in front of him to pay much attention.

“I don’t care,” he says quietly, “I really don’t care…” and Baekhyun finally surrenders, throwing his head back a little and releasing quiet hums of pleasure, his slender fingers twisting and curling themselves in Chanyeol’s hair.

Chanyeol eases Baekhyun’s shirt off the rest of the way and lifts him up, gently laying him down upon the bed. It creaks noisily under their weight and Chanyeol curses it mentally, because for once he wants to show Baekhyun how he really feels, without any laughter or awkward sounds getting in the way. But Baekhyun only looks up at him, all heavy-lidded eyes and moistened lips, already too turned on to care, his bare chest rising and falling rapidly.

So Chanyeol gives him what he wants, trying to take it as slow as he possibly can. It makes little difference – the bed creaks like mad anyway – but it’s okay, because Baekhyun is back, and he’s here in Chanyeol’s arms, laughing through their kisses because he just can’t help himself. It soon has Chanyeol chuckling along with him until they finally reach a point where there’s no more room for laughter, and indeed if he were any more aroused Chanyeol would probably forget how to breathe.

“Please, stay here with me,” he whispers, breathing the words into Baekhyun’s open mouth, “I love you, I love you, I love you, and I don't know what I would do without you..”

Such things are always difficult for him to say, but the way Baekhyun looks right now somehow makes it easier. He has a knack for pulling words in their rawest form right out of Chanyeol’s mouth and unraveling them for all to hear - usually against Chanyeol’s will, but then free will was something he more or less gave away as soon as Baekhyun walked into his life. Baekhyun has always been disarmingly lovely, especially at times like this. His beauty is so vivid and real that it's confronting, even devastating, and it strips Chanyeol of anything he has to hide against his better nature. From the very beginning, he didn’t stand a chance.

Any reply Baekhyun might have had is incinerated in the heat of the moment, but simply seeing him like this – love and desire burning in his gaze - speaks loudly enough for Chanyeol to hear him. With each shuddering breath the aftershocks travel though Chanyeol's body, straight to the very core of his being, and his heart pounds so fiercely that he’s sure Baekhyun can feel it too.

“This bloody bed,” Baekhyun laughs breathlessly, “is so bloody loud. The neighbours are going to be shitty with us again.”

Chanyeol smiles and kisses him. Ah, the pitfalls of a party wall.

“Nothing a bottle of wine on the doorstep won't fix.”

- - -

Chanyeol is on the verge of drifting off, lulled by the sound of Baekhyun sighing something in his sleep, when a niggling thought snaps him back into consciousness and his eyelids flutter open. He rolls out of bed like a man on a mission and saunters into the kitchen.

He yanks open the cupboard under the sink, pulls out two empty milk bottles and rinses them thoroughly. Tiptoeing over to the counter, he rips a piece of paper from a notepad and scribbles three words onto it with a nearly blunt pencil.

Two pints please.

Chanyeol smiles to himself as he rolls up the note and stuffs it into the mouth of one of the bottles. He leaves them out on the doorstep and softly shuts the front door behind him.

- - -

“Hey. You want some coffee with that milk?”

“Quiet, you.”


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