acatwhowrites: (C.A.P♡relaxed)
A Cat Who Writes ([personal profile] acatwhowrites) wrote2017-03-24 04:55 pm

Take My Breath Away

title: Take My Breath Away
players: Park Chanyeol, Do Kyungsoo/D.O.
rating: PG-13
word count: 8,285w
warning/s: underage drug use
summary: Chanyeol smokes to cope with the stresses of life, including-but-not-limited-to his crush on a new freshman.
warning/s: smattering of foul language
a/n: Originally written for the Takostation
[Error: Irreparable invalid markup ('<do-itall</a>') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

<em>title</em>: Take My Breath Away
<em>players</em>: Park Chanyeol, Do Kyungsoo/D.O.
<em>rating</em>: PG-13
<em>word count</em>: 8,285w
<em>warning/s</em>: underage drug use
<em>summary:</em> Chanyeol smokes to cope with the stresses of life, including-but-not-limited-to his crush on a new freshman.
<em>warning/s</em>: smattering of foul language
<cut text="It's the beginning of a new school year, and Kyungsoo joins the mass exodus of fellow middle school graduates in crossing the threshold of the Unknown."><em>a/n</em>: Originally written for the <a href="http://do-itall.livejournal.com/9336.html">Takostation<do-itall</a> event. (Prompt #23 <i>Chanyeol smokes to deal with his emotions. For him, grabbing cigarettes is a way of holding onto life and feeling the existence of himself. But he decides to give up smoking when he falls in love with Kyungsoo who suffers from a respiratory disease.</i>)

This fic kind of got away from me, and I'm honestly not sure I exactly fulfilled the prompt, so dear prompter, my apologies. I tried. But Real Life Things happened, and I had to rush this a little bit.
While writing it, I learned that you need to be 19 years old to buy cigarettes in South Korea, and there's also a sort of monetary reward if you quit. One thing people like more than health is money, so it makes sense. The mentioned respiratory condition Kyungsoo has is Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD). It isn't curable, but it's treatable and manageable.

Finally, yes, the title is from the 80s song by Berlin, although I suppose you could also assume the Alesso song from last year.
<sub><em>Read on</em>: <a href="">AFF</a> || <a href="http://archiveofourown.org/works/10037873">AO3</a> || <a href="http://acatwhowrites.dreamwidth.org/77202.html">DW</a></sub>





<div style="margin-left:10%;margin-right:10%">It's the beginning of a new school year, and Kyungsoo joins the mass exodus of fellow middle school graduates in crossing the threshold of the Unknown.

High school.

The passed three years of middle school are just memories. Everyone has a clean slate and can do or be anything they want.

Kyungsoo just wants to get it over with.

Three stories above the freshmen, Chanyeol hangs out a window, leaning on his crossed arms. He's in his second year and is already more jaded than any seventeen-year-old should be, but it's not his fault. Life just sucks.

"Hey." Baekhyun leans over Chanyeol's back, putting all of his weight on his friend. "Scoping out new friends, loser?"

"Anyone would be better than you," Chanyeol replies, not even expending the energy to push Baekhyun off. He's used to the clingy kid. They grew up together, and as much as they trash talk each other, it's a mutual affection built up over years of school pranks and weekend sleepovers.

The distinctive <i>ha ha ha!</i> is all the introduction Jongdae needs, joining Baekhyun on Chanyeol's back. "Anyone? Have your standards lowered so much?"

"What standards?" Baekhyun parrots. He nudges Jongdae to slide off and stands, leaning out the window beside Chanyeol. "See anyone you know, anyway?"

"Why, are you finally tired of making our lives miserable and want someone new and impressionable?"

"I am doing the world a favour, educating the naive youth and preparing them for the Real World!"

"I saw Byunghun earlier," Chanyeol comments.

"But he's no fun," Jongdae adds, standing on tip-toes to look over their heads. "Wow, they just get younger every year."

Chanyeol sighs and pushes himself upright. Jongdae steps down to avoid getting headed in the chin. "Because we just keep getting older."

"Where are you going? There's still a while until class."

"Toilet." There's a new package of cigarettes in his pocket, a folder of matches in his sock, and an anxious monster clawing at his chest.

He opens the window above a middle stall in the bathroom and sits on the toilet tank. The spend match drops to the bowl and floats aimlessly. It's the same every year, he thinks. With each grade he passes, each birthday he celebrates, every new year celebrated, he's getting <i>older</i>. Fundamentally, it's no big deal. Everyone ages; biology is hard to fight, but the mentality is just... nowhere. He still feels like a kid, especially when family he's not seen in months comment over his height and how he's growing into <i>such a fine young man.</i>

He doesn't think so. He doesn't feel any different. He's lost a lot of the chubbiness from elementary and middle school, and his mom is going to have to let out the hem of his uniform pants again, but inside, he is the same. How can he do anything with how he is? There's so much and too much to do. Expectations get heavier each year, and he has managed to meet them, but he wants to exceed them and stand out amongst his peers as a better person.

The bathroom door opens and shuts. Rubber soles pass over the floor to the urinals, and Chanyeol hears a brief coughing fit before dropping his cigarette into the toilet and flushing it and the match.

A shorter boy's at the sinks, rinsing soap from his hands and coughing into his shoulder. Just to keep up appearances, Chanyeol pumps soap into his palm and rubs his hands together under the cold tap water. He watches the suds swirl down the drain, like the water sucked down the toilet. It's mesmerising.

"Smoking is bad for your chest."

He blinks and looks to his left. The boy's drying his hands with a brown paper towel. "What?"

"I said smoking is bad for your chest. You're just killing yourself."

Chanyeol shakes his hands, sending drips of water over the counter and onto the wide mirror. Drops snake down to the graying caulk. "Gotta die sometime, right? Why wait?"

The boy shrugs. "True enough." He drops the crumpled towel into the waste basket. "Doesn't mean everyone thinks that way and wants to die with you." There's bitterness under his tone, and it sticks in Chanyeol's ribs. Guilt weighs down his pocket, but it's lifted by righteousness. "Where'd you get them?"

"Huh?" The look the other boy gives him makes him feel stupid.

"Your cigarettes. Where'd you get them?" Chanyeol's getting taller; he's already a couple inches taller than Jongdae and Baekhyun, but he has the sort of face that looks younger than he really is.

"A friend buys them for me."

The boy scoffs. "Some friend." In a way, Chanyeol agrees. It's no secret that smoking is bad or anyone's health. His dad's quit and restarted since before Chanyeol was born. The cartons now have graphic pictures of the side-effects of smoking and second-hand smoke as well as terrifying statistics, but humans developed self-preservation instincts that are too easily overruled by self-righteousness and a belief that nothing will happen to them personally, so as a part of Chanyeol's mind agrees and feels ashamed, a bigger part is angry.

Who does this kid even thinks he is? He doesn't know Chanyeol, and it's Chanyeol's decision. None of anyone else's business.

But the kid's gone by the time he thinks this. He catches the door before it shuts completely and looks up and down the hall.

He's alone.

In homeroom, he takes his blazer from his locker and shrugs it on, shoving the sleeves up to his elbows. Maybe it helps hide the scent of smoke, maybe not. If asked, he has an excuse of having a parent who smokes, so of course he'll smell like cigarettes. He's not been asked, yet, though, and he'd rather not be asked, so he's careful.

He rejoins his friends and catches sight of the boy from the bathroom just before he turns a corner at the end of the hall. He must be frowning, because Jongdae nudges him.

"What's up?" He follows his friend's gaze and tilts his head. "Someone you know?" Baekhyun jumps between them, asking <i>Who? Who do we know?</i> until Jongdae catches him around his neck.

Chanyeol shakes his head and shrugs, stuffing his hands into his pockets. "No; I just met him today. Either of you know him?"

They both shrug, but Baekhyun slips out of Jongdae's hold. "One way to find out. See you guys later!"

Asking any of the other freshmen is a pretty futile effort, not knowing the boy's name and only having a brief glimpse to work with, but he manages to find him in a classroom a couple halls over. He's sitting quietly at his desk, writing in a notebook and ignoring his chattering classmates.

No one pays much attention to Baekhyun when he slips inside, responding with brief smiles of their own when he grins at them. He pulls the chair from the desk in front of the boy and parks himself with a cheerful <i>Hi!</i>

Kyungsoo looks up from his notebook just enough to recognise that it is, in fact, him being addressed. He sets his pencil down. "Hi?" He doesn't recognise Baekhyun. There are a few middle school classmates in his class, but most of his friends are in neighbouring classes. He's fine being by himself, although he probably looked sad and lonely.

The upperclassman is unfazed by the cool greeting. "Are you a freshman?"

"Yes."

"Byun Baekhyun. I'm a year ahead of you. Welcome to high school."

"Thanks? I'm Do Kyungsoo."

"Ask if you need anything for have questions or whatever." Baekhyun rests his cheek on his fist. "We upperclassmen may not look like it, but we actually are pretty friendly." Even overly friendly, some would say about Baekhyun.

"Ah ha..."

"Okay, so you also just looked sad and lonely by yourself."

"I like being by myself."

"But that's sad and lonely."

"And your opinion matters to me because...?"

"Touché. It'll matter more once you acknowledge me as your hyung and friend."

"Neither of which are all that likely."

"You say that now, but once we get to know each other, you'll change your tune," Baekhyun says confidently. After all, he's a great person to know. "So hey, you know Chanyeol?"

"Who?"

"Uh, tall guy. Kinda big ears, glasses..."

"The one smoking in the bathroom. What about him?"

"Nothing." Baekhyun shrugs. "Just wondering if you knew him."

"I don't know anyone?" And he is fine with that for now. It's just the first day; he's more worried about what his teachers will be like and if he'll be able to pass their classes without going bald from stress.

"Well, see, you're in luck. Me, Chanyeol, and our friend Jongdae are going to the movies this weekend, and you should come." He can see the rejection forming in the freshman's mind and holds up a hand. "I won't take 'no' for an answer. Just come out with us! It'll be fun. Here," he says, taking Kyungsoo's pen. "My number."

The freshman homeroom teacher walks in and sets up at the front of the room. Students rush to their seats, and Baekhyun's quick to vacate the seat he'd taken. "I'll be back at lunch!" he whispers, and runs in a crouch out of the room.

Jongdae pokes his back when he slinks into their own classroom. Their homeroom teacher calls for everyone to take their seats and begins taking attendance. Last year, they were all separated in different classes, so this year is like winning the lottery. Jongdae sits behind Baekhyun, and Chanyeol is assigned a seat kitty-corner to Jongdae.

After homeroom, Baekhyun spins around to tell his friends about <i>the cute little freshman</i>. "His name's Do Kyungsoo, and he seems kinda shy."

"Are you sure you weren't just being pushy?" Jongdae pets his hair affectionately. Sometimes—most of the times—Baekhyun doesn't realise how intense his personality can be, friendly or no. He's like an overeager puppy wanting to make friends.

"Did you seriously invite him out with us?" Chanyeol's a bit less enthused about the freshman. "You don't even know him."

"So? I'll get to know him this weekend. Or tomorrow before class. Or maybe he'll join choir or band!"

"You could even bump into him in the bathroom," Jongdae suggests, smiling serenely when Chanyeol scowls at him. Why can't his friends just accept that he doesn't like the kid? Based on their albeit brief bathroom encounter, Kyungsoo is prideful and stuck up and has a wholly displeasing holier-than-thou attitude.

Their teacher enters and nearly drops her books in her haste to get to the front desk but recovers with a self-deprecating laugh and warm greeting. Chanyeol pouts through their morning classes and scowls during lunch, when Baekhyun drags Jongdae to Kyungsoo's classroom.

He's not normally like this, and he knows he's being childish, but he can't help it. That Kyungsoo kid's attitude just rubs him the wrong way, and he is entitled to his opinion and will stick with it until proved otherwise.

If he never allows an opportunity to be proved otherwise, no one can fault him, though.



The weekend is unpreventable, and they all agree via text to meet up at the theatre. It's sunny and hot, summer still clinging to the city, which doesn't deter shoppers heading to stores and couples on their way to dates. The sidewalks are filled with pedestrians, and cars honk at traffic lights with the usual weekend congestion.

Chanyeol arrives first. They're in one of the few areas in which smoking isn't banned. He usually sits at his bedroom window at home when he smokes, but he feels that itch of anxiety the longer he waits and ignores the looks mothers give him as they pass with their strollers and toddlers in hand when he ignites his lighter. Light gray smoke curls from the end of the cigarette, and he drops the lighter back into his front pocket while the pack of cigarettes settles in a back pocket.

All week, he had to listen to Jongdae and Baekhyun talk about Kyungsoo. He knows how they are and isn't surprised to hear they've seemed to have grown on Kyungsoo like mould. The freshman's opening up more and doesn't just frown upon seeing them, which is the best improvement, Jongdae insists, because Kyungsoo has a really sweet heart-shaped sort of smile and really sunny laugh.

Even the other freshman have noticed. Do Kyungsoo is making friends his own age. How nice.

It's a good change, and if it was anyone else, Chanyeol would be pleased. They're <i>his</i> friends, though, and he'd rather not talk about Kyungsoo when hanging out with his friends, whether at school or at home. He feels less noticed, like his feelings and opinions don't matter as much, and it hurts. It's lonely, even when he's not alone.

Baekhyun texts him, saying he and Jongdae are on their way. Chanyeol draws the lit end of his cigarette against the concrete sidewalk, putting it out, and tosses it into a trash bin.

He hears his friends before he sees them. By themselves, they're noisy enough, but together, Baekhyun and Jongdae could lead a stadium pep rally. Somewhere along the way they picked up Kyungsoo, who looks stiffer in street clothes yet cool with a light baseball cap and patterned T-shirt.

"Chanyeollie!" Baekhyun sings from a block away. He raises both of his arms, although one hand is holding the end of Kyungsoo's sleeve, and Jongdae joins in by dancing ridiculously, completely oblivious to the confused and amused looks from passersby.

They stand closer to the theatre, so they don't block the sidewalk. "Were you waiting long?" Baekhyun asks, bouncing in place to expend some energy.

"Hours," Chanyeol whines, nudging him with the toe of his sneaker. "I thought you guys stood me up!" His friends coo at him and cling to his arms as they get in line. They whine that it's too hot to stand so close; Chanyeol stands beside Kyungsoo but tries to focus on Baekhyun and Jongdae's critiques of the sun-bleached movie posters on the front of the theatre.

The movie they line up to see was released a couple weeks earlier, a romance drama about someone's first love and their regrets about their actions at the time they were together. The girl selling tickets looks at them with something strange in her eyes, probably seeing them as a group on a double date. Most people in the theatre are couples, but Chanyeol and his friends enjoy going to date movies and making annoying commentary to each other.

The concession stand has four lines and very little progress. Somehow, they never seem to have enough employees working, although the more likely hold-up is customers like Baekhyun, who doesn't figure out his order while in line and stands at the front, looking at everything and debating with himself just to order a large popcorn.

Jongdae adds a drink to the order, laughing when Baekhyun whines at him. They step aside, and Chanyeol asks for a bag of candy and a soda.

"Anything else?" the boy behind the counter asks. He looks like he's been working for a week, already, almost asleep on his feet.

Chanyeol looks at Kyungsoo, finally looking more human than jacket with it unzipped. "You want anything?" The younger boy blinks widely and shakes his head. Chanyeol shrugs. "That's it. Thanks."

The theatre room isn't very crowded, with pockets of people spread out throughout the seats. Jongdae bounds up the stairs with Baekhyun, picking seats in the very centre of the row with no one else around, because they like to put their feet on the seats in front of them. Kyungsoo sits between Jongdae and Chanyeol, draping his jacket over the seat in front of him.

Previews play as the lights dim, and there's hushed conversations about the upcoming releases.

Jongdae snuggles into Baekhyun's side, stealing popcorn before the movie even starts, and Chanyeol notices Kyungsoo shift towards them a little.

He holds the back of his hand to his nose, leaning on his elbow to try masking the gesture, but Chanyeol notices and feels the tips of his ears burn. He didn't think anyone could smell it on him, but the freshman obviously can, and it makes him self-conscious. Neither Jongdae nor Baekhyun ever seem to be bothered by it.

Kyungsoo keeps his nose covered throughout the movie, although he does move his other arm a couple times to wipe at his eyes. Chanyeol's so aware of Kyungsoo's posture and every movement that he doesn't even remember what happens on screen when he follows his friends and outside, gathering the plot from their chattering.

Chanyeol stuffs his hands into his pockets, playing with his lighter. Kyungsoo trots a little to walk beside Chanyeol. He's zipped into his jacket again, and his voice is muffled by his hood. "Hey."

"Hi. What'd you think of the movie?"

"It was <i>sad</i>. I don't know why anyone would see it on a date." He tugs his hood down a little. "I'm sorry about before. It's none of my business."

"Before?"

"At school, in the bathroom. It's none of my business, either way."

"Oh." He never expected an apology. It was easier to see him as a self-centred person, but with the apology, something gets lighter in Chanyeol's chest. Not liking someone takes a lot of energy, and he was getting tired. Forwardness is an attractive quality in a person, especially a friend.

Chanyeol shrugs and pulls his hand from his pocket to ruffle Kyungsoo's hooded head, smiling when he's swatted away. "Don't worry about it."



If their friends notice a change, they don't say anything outright, but Chanyeol smiles more, again, and he even tags along when Baekhyun and-or Jongdae go to Kyungsoo's classroom to bother him. They're even noisier as a quartet than a trio.

"Why do you guys like Kyungsoo so much?" Chanyeol's flat on his back in the middle of his bedroom floor. Books and notebooks surround him, but he's done enough homework that he doesn't feel pressured when taking a break. His phone is on his chest, connected in a three-way call with Jongdae and Baekhyun.

"He's nice!" Baekhyun exclaims. "He looks kind of scary, you know, in that frowny sort of way, but he's really nice once you get to know him, and he sings really well? Although he didn't join choir or anything. I think he went with theatre."

"It suits him, though. He can also be pretty goofy," Jongdae adds. "I was super surprised when he started chasing Baekhyun around the classroom."

"But he pinched me really hard, Dae," Baekhyun whines. "That wasn't funny!"

"It was to me," Jongdae laughs so loud the speaker crackles. "What about you, Chanyeol? What do you think of him?"

"Me?" Kyungsoo is nice, and he did used to be scary, in that frowny sort of way, which is why Chanyeol had set his mind to not liking him. "I dunno. I guess I like him. He's fun."

"I think you're adorable together," Baekyun teases.

"Because he's short?" Chanyeol's glad his friends can't see him, because his face flushes with heat at the comment. Kyungsoo is cute and small but also strong and smart and fun, and sometimes Chanyeol just watches him when he talks or laughs and feels inexplicably happy. He's never exactly dated anyone before—not seriously, at least—and doesn't really even count the girls in Kindergarten or middle school. It was more like a verbal status agreement. None of them made him feel like Kyungsoo does.

"Well, not just because he's short, but yeah. It's hilarious that you're scared of him."

"Okay, but he knows judo or whatever. I have a healthy self-preservation instinct."

"You do not. If you did, you wouldn't tease him until he puts you in a headlock." Jongdae makes some remark about <i>a glutton for punishment</i>. "Although, I guess that's good in a way, because someone needs to keep you in check."

"Hey! I'm not <i>that</i> bad."

"To us, but we love and tolerate you."

"Aww!" Chanyeol coos. "You love me?"

Baekhyun snorts a short laugh. "<i>That's</i> what he focuses on."

Baekhyun's mother calls him to practice playing the piano, and Jongdae says he needs to finish his English homework. Chanyeol bids them both goodnight, ends the call, and doesn't move from his spot on the floor.

He adores his friends. They've been together for a long time. Kyungsoo, though, is new, and it's kind of weird how well he gets on with them. With Chanyeol.

It's a cold night, but Chanyeol sits at the window, letting the draft take the smoke from the end of his cigarette and his lips and throw it to the wind.

He sits and lets his mind not think of anything, simply feeling as the knots in his gut and tangled thoughts in his head loosen and unravel. When his mom knocks on his door, asking him if his window is open, he puts the cigarette out on the window sill, brushes off the ash, and drops the butt under some papers in his waste basket.



Kyungsoo anticipates school a lot more than he thought he would.

The first day, he was nervous, and he knows most other freshmen were, too, but he never expected to meet someone smoking in the boys' bathroom like a 1980s rocker. His first thought had been <i>delinquent</i>, then <i>gang member</i>, but no self-respecting badass would be friends with puppydog sunshine smiles like Jongdae and Baekhyun.

Chanyeol's actually a really great person, unhealthy habits and all. He accepts Kyungsoo's apology, and it allows them to put their less than happy first meeting behind them. He hangs out with the three of them, and Kyungsoo's days are loud—in a good way—and exciting. Rather than worrying about every tickle in his chest and how many layers is appropriate to wear for the weather outside, Kyungsoo thinks about his friends and looks forward to seeing them every day.

Most of the time, it's the four of them hanging out before school starts, during lunch hour, and after school, when they walk home together. Something changes, though, and Chanyeol steps in to see him between classes or before Jongdae or Baekhyun are around. They get along better than he thought they would, based on their initial meeting.

One day in spring, Baekhyun and Jongdae stay behind for choir. Chanyeol's waiting for Kyungsoo at the front steps of the building and waves when he sees him.

Unlike the other two, who never seem to stop talking or singing—Jongdae sings loud enough between classes that Kyungsoo's classmates can hear him—Chanyeol knows how to enjoy silence. It's not as awkward now as it used to be, and Kyungsoo appreciates that. He's not a very talkative person himself; he's more of a listener. Chanyeol respects that without saying anything about it or teasing him for it.

Flowers are blooming everywhere, and everything else is green with life. Squinting, Kyungsoo look up at the sun. It's warm on his face, and he wishes it was summer, so he didn't have to wear a jacket and long sleeves. Since a child, he's had to worry about what he's wearing and what he's doing and memorise the warning signs of his condition.

<i>Not disease</i>, he tells himself. He pulls his coat closer over his throat; Chanyeol notices and asks if he's cold with a tone of mild surprise.

Kyungsoo shakes his head, hunching his shoulders to his ears some. "Not really, I just get sick easily, so..."

Chanyeol shrugs out of his jacket, holding it open for Kyungsoo. "Here. I run hot, so don't worry about it."

"You're sure?" His fingers don't reach past the ends of the sleeves. It's definitely warmer, though, and he can feel Chanyeol's residual body heat. The smell of cigarette smoke is stronger in the coat, but he doesn't think he minds as much as he used to.

He makes the mistake of mentioning it to Baekhyun at one point, when he visits his house to help prepare for a singing role in his theatre group.

"Oh?" Baekhyun wheedles. "What do you think of him?"

"Of Chanyeol? I dunno. He's noisy and annoying, but he's also nice. Doesn't know his limits, though." Any cute animal he sees, Chanyeol can't fight the compulsion to approach it and make friends. He's allergic; he admits it with a pouty sort of frown and wistful sigh, but the misery that comes in the form of itchy eyes and a runny nose is apparently worth it.

"Well, I think you're adorable together."

"Because he's tall?" Kyungsoo deadpans. They're always teasing him. It's not like he has much control over his height.

"Well, not just because he's tall," Baekhyun replies, feeling a sense of deja vu. "He's scared of you, you know. It's hilarious."

"There's only so much I can suffer before needing to put a stop to it." Kyungsoo hands Baekhyun the music for his part. The older boy takes the sheets and drops onto the desk chair, spinning a couple times while he reads but ultimately stopping to spread everything out on the desktop. Like the rest of Kyungsoo's bedroom, the desk is neat and without any unnecessary clutter. The corkboard hanging over the desk has a calendar and schedule and one business card, pinned in a top corner.

"Who's Doctor Lee Sooman?"

Kyungsoo shrugs. He pushes a laundry basket towards his closet with his foot. "My doctor."

"But he's a <i>pulmonologist</i>..." Baekhyun trails off. He frowns and casts a curious look at his friend. "Isn't that a speciality lung doctor?"

"Yeah." Kyungsoo hangs a red sweater neatly beside a red and black plaid flannel shirt. "I've been seeing him since I was little." He was just a baby when the problems started. Ear infections were nothing new to the Dos; their oldest frequently developed them, too, but Kyungsoo just seemed to get worse and worse. His coughs seemed to shake his entire tiny body, spittle of mucus wetting his lips. Breathing was difficult, and when he could catch his breath, it was shallow and wheezy.

After folk remedies and grandmothers' intuition brought no results, his parents finally returned with him to the hospital where he was born. Doctor Lee diagnosed him and has been treating him ever since. Steady improvement fills his medical records, and Kyungsoo keeps a notebook of his own observations and concerns, more serious than any child the doctor's met.

"It's nothing. Put that back where you found it."

Baekhyun repins the card and sits back. "Why have you seen him so long?"

"I've got a condition that you've never heard of. Just leave it."

He doesn't leave it. Something about it is strange and feels heavy. "Try me."

Kyungsoo sighs and says the name of a disease Baekhyun has never heard of. The older boy nods and turns away, humming while typing it into a search on his phone.

"It's a genetic thing," Kyungsoo supplies. "A respiratory condition. My parents didn't even know they were carriers. This is the kind of disease that can be explained away by different things, but the whole picture is PCD." Baekhyun blinks at him. Kyungsoo waves his hands, as if it would help him explain it away. "It's basically a hardcore, chronic asthma that can kill me easier." He feels a bit bad, being so blunt, when Baekhyun's face pales. "It's nothing, though! I'm used to it; I can handle it. I don't have Kartagener's, which is good. A lot of people with PCD also have it.

"I get my flu shot every year, I run around with you nerds, I don't smoke... It's good. It's fine."

"But..does Chanyeol bother it? Even before he smoked, his dad did, so he's always smelled like cigarettes."

"It's the smoke, not the smell, so it's fine." He's blushing a little, remembering the smoky smell and warmth of Chanyeol's coat. "Now, you gonna help me or not?"



Maybe it's planned, planting the seeds of ideas in Kyungsoo's and Chanyeol's heads. Jongdae and Baekhyun aren't usually considered conniving or even stealthy, but when they see something obvious that's not being addressed, they feel they need to do their good deed and help it along.

Chanyeol and Kyungsoo are obvious and oblivious, or at least unwilling. What they need is a little push.

"What's everyone doing over winter break?"Jongdae asks. "My parents planned a skiing vacation. We won't be back until after Christmas."

"I'm going to Grandma's until January." They look at Chanyeol and Kyungsoo, neither of which have plans. "Looks like it's just you guys. Gonna hang out? Become friends and forget about us?" Baekhyun sniffles and nuzzles against Jongdae's shoulder.

"It'll absolutely kill us while you're away." Kyungsoo pats his head. "I might just go deaf with the silence."

"I have a feeling you're not going to miss us at all," Baekhyun sniffs.

"I'll miss you enough for both of us!" Chanyeol drags Baekhyun and Jongdae into a bone-crushing hug. He knows he'll miss them a lot and squeezes them for extra measure.

A week into their vacation, a blizzard covers the city in a thick blanket of white. It melts grey and slushy on the streets and sidewalks, but the parks stay white. People walking their dogs struggle to hold onto their leashes and keep the canines from rolling or chasing the non-migratory birds hopping along the ground in search of seeds.

Chanyeol's puppy romps through the snow that's almost as tall as it is. When it gets too tired, he picks it up and carries it against his shoulder, laughing when the cold, wet nose nudges his ear affectionately. "Almost home, bud. Hang in there." Toben tucks its muzzle under his scarf and sighs. He snaps a quick photo of the sleepy puppy and sends it to Baekhyun and Jongdae. They've been sharing numerous photos and videos of their own vacations, from family photos to the snow to long tables filled with food.

His phone chirps, but it's not a reply from Jongdae or Baekhyun. Kyungsoo is asking what he's doing, and he sends Toben's photo in reply.

<i>He's cute,</i> Kyungsoo replies. <i>You want to hang out this weekend? See a movie or something?</i>

Chanyeol's fingers are too cold to type faster, but he supposes it's better to not seem <i>too</i> eager. He's been wanting to meet up with Kyungsoo since their break started, but he hasn't known how to ask or what they'd do and didn't want to embarrass himself.

They plan to see a movie and get food someplace. Chanyeol has just about a week until then and smokes a whole pack of cigarettes to deal with his nerves and imagination. Lots of things could go wrong on any given day, but a lot of things could go <i>right</i>, too, and them being by themselves, maybe he could actually say what's on his mind without burning up and melting all the snow.



Chanyeol spends a good part of the morning standing in his underwear in his room, staring at his clothes. He doesn't want to look too fancy and make Kyungsoo self-conscious, but he also doesn't want to look like a complete slob.

The compromise is jeans and a cable knit sweater in a classy beige. Warm and practical but still nice and not too short, like a lot of his other sweaters. He's gotta stop growing eventually; his pants are running out of hem for his mom to let out.

They agree to meet up at a chicken restaurant for lunch. Kyungsoo's waiting when Chanyeol arrives ten minutes early, wearing so many layers he looks like a cover model for Arctic fashion.

"You look like you're from Siberia!" Chanyeol plucks at the fur hood lining.

The younger boy swats his hand away. "I get sick easily." He looks like a cartoon character, with only his eyes visible through the ring of fur. "Before you ask," he continues, "I just got here, so I wasn't waiting long, and yes, I am starving." Kyungsoo yanks open the restaurant door, and they sigh contentedly at the blast of heat.

After a lunch of crispy chicken, they wrap the leftovers in napkins and sneak them into the theatre.

They have the theatre to themselves—it's the closing week of the fantasy movie—and kick their feet up. Chanyeol discovers that popcorn and chicken are a surprisingly good snack combination and that Kyungsoo loves fantasy movies. He watches the screen with rapt attention, hand moving between the popcorn bag and his mouth automatically. He doesn't even notice Chanyeol's hand in the bag, simply reaching around it while Chanyeol's ears and cheeks burn.

"I'd been wanting to see that since before it came out," Kyungsoo gushes as they leave. He pulls his hood over his head and wraps his scarf around his hands, playing with it while providing a running commentary. Chanyeol takes the scarf when they stop at a crosswalk and tie it around Kyungsoo's neck.

"I usually refer action movies or comedy, but that was good. It was really pretty. I wish I had that kind of talent, but I can't even draw a straight line with a ruler."

"To be fair, most rulers aren't straight, so." The light changes, and Chanyeol puts his arm behind Kyungsoo, guiding him but not touching him. They ate, saw a movie...but they had no plans afterwards. There's still a lot of the day left; he doesn't want to go home just yet.

Kyungsoo might be able to read minds, because he asks, "Do you wanna come over? No one's home, so it'd just be me, but we could find something to do."

Chanyeol hopes his smile isn't as manic as it feels and bites his bottom lip to try and get his face under control before shrugging. "Sure. I'm good company."

"Yeah, you are."

He fully expected some kind of dig or denial. Even in the winter weather, butterflies hit the walls of hit stomach and fly up around his ribs.

It had snowed overnight, just enough to make everything white, but the salt on the sidewalk makes their walk wet and slushy. Chanyeol stomps through the larger piles when no one else is around and tries to build up the nerve to say something else to relieve the tension between them.

"So..." It's a start. Kyungsoo's hood turns towards him; he can barely see his eyes. "If I tell you something, can you promise not to freak out?"

"Within reason, I guess? Are you okay?"

"Yeah! Yeah, I'm great. I just want to...say..." His hands shake. They're numb with cold, but they're still shaking. "Okay, so I likeyoualot."

Kyungsoo pushes the fur of his hood aside, looking up at him with wide curious eyes. He doesn't look freaked out, but he does hide his face in the depths of his hood again. "You 'like me a lot?'" he parrots.

"Yeah...like, I've got a crush and just thought, you know, that you should know."

"Oh."

"Is that okay?" <i>Stay positive, Chanyeol,</i> he tells himself. <i>He's not freaking out.</i>

"It's fine," Kyungsoo finally says. They're at another crosswalk. He digs the toe of his sneaker under some snow piled up at the base of a traffic light and flips it onto the street. "I like you, too. And before you ask, yes, I <i>like like</i> you." The light changes, and he muscles to the front of the group with his head down, leaving Chanyeol dumbfounded and pleasantly breathless.

He catches up at the bus stop Kyungsoo takes home. The younger boy swipes his pass twice and sits at a window. Chanyeol sits beside him and sneaks looks at his reflection in the window.

The bus ride is both really long and really short. Kyungsoo nudges Chanyeol when it's their stop, and then it's a short walk to a pretty residential area with similarly styled two-story houses with snowy lawns. The Do family house is pale green with empty flower boxes under the front windows.

Kyungsoo closes the front door behind them and starts to unravel his layers as Chanyeol takes off his shoes. "So if we like each other, does that mean you'll go out with me?" The younger boy waves him closer and pecks his cheek when he leans in.

"Sure."

The butterflies in Chanyeol's insides are threatening to break out of him completely. He feels lighter and thinks no amount of smoking could make him feel so good.

Kyungsoo is smaller without his coat and shoes, and a large sweater doesn't help the look and just makes him look even more adorable. "My room's upstairs," he says. Chanyeol tails him up the steps, noticing again that they're the same height on different steps. "Bathroom's the second door here. I'm at the end of the house." Family photos hang intermittently on the walls, showing two little boys as infants, toddlers, and older. Kyungsoo and his brother look a lot alike.

His bedroom fits his personality, neat and orderly and uncluttered. Straightforward but not loud. There's a beanbag chair in a corner between a couple of filled bookshelves. Chanyeol spots some familiar comics and manga as well as anime figurines.

"Prince of Tennis?"

"I like sports anime." Kyungsoo rearranges some things on his desk. The older boy sits on his bed with a bounce.

"So when're we going to tell Baekhyun and Jongdae?"

Kyungsoo snorts, knowing exactly what he's talking about. "It can wait. They're probably betting on us or something, so let them lose money."

Chanyeol hums. He's down for that. Let the others suffer not knowing. "Here's another question for you."

"Gee, thanks."

"Can I kiss you again?"

"<i>I</i> kissed <i>you</i>!"

"Fine, then can you kiss me again?" The butterflies are puking, and his ears are burning, but it sounds like a good idea. He's kind of wanted to kiss him for a while, and since it's an option, why not? Truth be told, though, even during his previous sort-of-relationships, he never really kissed any of them. Luckily, or not, Kyungsoo's just as nervous.

They bump noses and can't seem to coordinate until Kyungsoo holds Chanyeol's face in his hands. Even if the kiss is sweet, it still kicks the breath right out of Chanyeol's lungs. His hands find their way to Kyungsoo's waist and back, just to hold him.

Kyungsoo flinches and shakes a little after a couple kisses and gently pushes Chanyeol's shoulders. "Wait...just hang on..."

"Should we stop?"

"No, just—" He swallows. "Let me catch my breath."

Chanyeol bites his lip. Kyungsoo must use some medicated lip balm, because he can still taste the menthol.

"What're you laughing for?"

"Nothing, just... I thought you left me breathless, but I literally took your breath away." He laughs when he's hit. He deserves it.

The laughter catches in his throat when Kyungsoo starts gasping. He has a hand at the base of his throat and hunches forward. His face turns pink, and Chanyeol starts to panic. "Kyungsoo?" Should he touch him? No one else is home; he can't even get Kyungsoo's mom. Should he call an ambulance? "What—What should I—?"

Kyungsoo shakes his head and coughs into his hand. He stands on his hands and knees and coughs, and Chanyeol remembers when he first started smoking. He'd inhaled too sharply and coughed until his throat was raw and his eyes watered. He should've just quit then and there, but he's stubborn, and he learned.

Kyungsoo must've learned, too. He strikes his chest with his hand, a hollow <i>thud</i> seeming to bounce around his rips. Again and again he hits himself until he finally retches and coughs into a fistful of tissues. Chanyeol's stomach lurches a little at the sounds of the wet coughs and spitting, but he soothes himself with the knowledge that at least Kyungsoo is breathing again.

Finally, the younger boy crawls off his bed to drop the tissues into the basket beside his desk. He mumbles something, rubbing his chest.

"What?"

"I said <i>I'm sorry</i>."

"What for? Are you okay? You freaked me out, punching yourself like that. I didn't know if I should try calling your mom or an ambulance or do the Heimlich or what—"

"It's normal for me," Kyungsoo sighs. He pulls the collar of his sweatshirt away from his neck and frowns at himself.

"Can I see?" Chanyeol's still worried. Now that he's seen something Kyungsoo calls <i>normal</i>, something totally not related to judo or singing or anything else he's learned his friend enjoys, he's afraid. Will kissing him trigger another attack? What about...other things?

Kyungsoo seems to think about it a bit. Being in separate classes, they've not changed together for gym class, and while Baekhyun, Jongdae, and Chanyeol have had years of friendship, they two have only have months. He shrugs, however, and lifts the hem of his sweatshirt.

His skin is pale, soft, and dotted with moles, but what catches Chanyeol's attention is the mottled purple and greenish yellow painting his chest.

"Dude..." Chanyeol breathes. "This is not asthma."

Kyungsoo shakes his head. "There's a lot of mucus buildup in my lungs. Hitting myself loosens it, so I can cough it up."

"Isn't there another way?"

Kyungsoo nods and drops his sweatshirt, curtaining the sideshow of bruises. "Yeah. I have some things I can use, and I do, when I'm by myself and feel more gross than usual, but when I'm not home or—you know—" by himself, distracted, "—then I gotta use what I have on hand." He raises a fist. "Get it?" It's a poor pun, but Chanyeol laughs anyway.

He can't seem to stop laughing, though, and he covers his face with his hands when the laughter turns into tears. When was the last time he was so scared that it went beyond just scared but into downright <i>terrified</i> territory? His heart keeps quivering in his chest, and he feels the creep of anxiety through his veins, but now is the exact opposite of a good time to pull out his cigarettes. His life line are extra poisonous to Kyungsoo, and he didn't realise just how literal that is until witnessing Kyungsoo struggle and beat himself to be able to breathe.

"It wasn't that bad of a joke, Chanyeol."

"No," he sniffles, "it wasn't, but how—how can you joke at all?" He wipes his eyes with the heels of his palms. "I thought you were dying," he whispers, "and I was so <i>helpless</i> and <i>scared</i>. I hated it."

"I'm sorry." Kyungsoo sits and pats his shoulder awkwardly. Chanyeol's shoulders shudder under his hand, and Kyungsoo leans against his back in a semi-hug. "I'm used to it, but I get scared, too, still. It's no fun not being able to breathe. I'm still here, though. Believe it or not, I'm tougher than I look."

Chanyeol barks a laugh, wiping his eyes with his sleeve and sniffling. "I believe it." He sits up a little and leans back against Kyungsoo. The younger boy hooks his chin over Chanyeol's shoulder.

"You okay, too?"

"I think so." Chanyeol nods. "That won't happen every time I kiss you, will it?"

Kyungsoo ducks his head to hide his face. "I dunno."

"I really hope not, because I kinda liked kissing you." They're both blushing.

"<i>Kinda</i>?"

"I could do without the near-death experiences."

"You'n me both." Kyungsoo's phone buzzes. A text from his mom; she and his dad will be later than they anticipated. "You want to sleep over? My parents are gonna be late. We can order a pizza or something, watch a movie?"

Chanyeol's eyes hurt from crying, and he really feels too tired to even move, so he offers a thumbs up. "Sounds good to me." Kyungsoo grabs his laptop from his desk and pulls up the website of the pizza place his family always orders from. They agree pretty much anything goes for toppings except pineapple and tiny fish, and Chanyeol notes yet another thing about Do Kyungsoo that he really likes.

In the twenty minutes it takes for the pizza to arrive, they find an anime that Chanyeol highly recommends and Kyungsoo's never even heard of before. Chanyeol keeps looking at him, gauging his reaction, but Kyungsoo's not a very emotive viewer.

The doorbell draws Kyungsoo downstairs. He says not to pause the show, but Chanyeol does anyway and flops onto his back to stretch his arms and legs. He hadn't noticed before, but there are tiny, greenish stars stuck to the ceiling. Chanyeol used to have them, too, and they're technically still over his bed, but his dad painted over them. The stars over Kyungsoo's bed seem to actually make up constellations.

Kyungsoo closes the door with his foot when he returns, arms filled with a pizza box, plates, cans of soda, and a roll of paper towels. "Don't make a mess," he says, letting the roll fall to the bed. He opens the box and sets it between them, passing a plate to Chanyeol and hitting PLAY on his laptop.

The soda can fizzes when the tab pops through the top. Chanyeol's quick enough to catch the bit of rising foam before it can spill all over himself. He catches the side-eyed look Kyungsoo cast his way and smiles sheepishly. "Got it." Kyungsoo watches the screen again, and Chanyeol watches him as he picks the toppings and cheese off of his pizza slices, eating everything from the top down until he finally rolls up the crust and eats it like a spring roll. It's kind of dainty and cute.

They devour the food. Trash and plates are stuffed into the pizza box, which Kyungsoo takes downstairs in-between episodes four and five. On the way back to his room, he slips into his brother's bedroom and rifles through his drawers. It's no joke that Chanyeol is bigger than Kyungsoo, although he's still incredibly skinny. And while Seungsoo isn't all that tall himself, he is bigger than Kyungsoo, and his clothes are more likely to fit Chanyeol.

He grabs a T-shirt and shorts and puts everything neatly back in its place.

Chanyeol looks to the door when Kyungsoo returns, whining when clothes are dropped onto his face. "Here. These're my brother's, but they should fit better than anything of mine."

"Cool. Thanks." He doesn't want to move, but he forces himself to roll off the bed and onto his feet. There's a moment of internal debate, because he's not sure if they're close enough or comfortable enough to change clothes in the same room, but his bladder makes the ultimate decision. He drank too much too fast.

The shorts are shorter than he'd wear in public, but they're comfy enough to sleep in. He grabs his jeans and hoodie and opens the bathroom door when his cigarettes fall from his pocket. They cartwheel over the bathroom linoleum to rest on the hall carpet, showing its bold health warning.

<i>Smoking can kill you.</i>

Above it, there's a photo of a corpse with a single stitched incision from the middle of the throat extending down beyond the chest and abdomen.

It makes his own chest itch, although he knows there's nothing there.

Kyungsoo's dressed in a plain shirt and cotton pajama pants when he returns, and the blankets are folded down on the bed. "You've got a choice," he says, doing something or other with the hangers in his closet. "You can share with me or camp on the floor. I've got a futon and blankets." He plants his hands on his hips, and his ears are pink. "I guess you could sleep on the sofa downstairs or something, otherwise, too..."

"I'm okay with sharing," Chanyeol replies shyly, "if that's cool with you."

"Yeah! Yeah, whatever." He hits the lights and crawls onto his bed, tucks his feet under the blankets, and loads the next episode.

Chanyeol gingerly sits beside him, apologising when the mattress dips, and sits cross-legged.

"You can sit closer, you know." It's kind of silly, being nervous when they were literally making out just hours earlier, but they're alone, in the dark, sharing a bed, and Chanyeol's got a healthy imagination that's only halted by anxiety. Kyungsoo could have another episode any time. That scares him. "Chanyeol, seriously. I don't want to explain to my mom we're in the hospital because you broke your arm falling off the bed."

"I wouldn't break my arm," Chanyeol says, but he does scoot closer. His knee nearly touches Kyungsoo's thigh. The younger boy just scoffs and starts the anime, setting it between their legs and sitting back against the headboard.

They're both quiet for most of the marathon, making comments or remarks here and there about the plot or animation and slowly sinking farther down the bed until they're lying side-by-side propped up by their arms and pillows.

Chanyeol falls asleep first, sometime just after midnight. He rolls onto his side facing Kyungsoo and tucks an arm over him.

Kyungsoo presses the space bar, pausing the video to watch later, and is reaching to close the lid of the laptop when Chanyeol shifts behind him and pushes it open again.

"I was watching that," he murmurs.

"You were asleep," Kyungsoo replies softly.

Chanyeol hums and nuzzles into Kyungsoo's neck, settling with a sigh. "Wasn't sleepin'."

"You were snoring in my ear."

"No I wuzznt..." He breathes evenly and starts to snore. Kyungsoo closes his laptop, squirming a little out of Chanyeol's embrace to push it onto his desk. When he lays down again, the older boy pulls him closer and hooks a leg over his calves.

Kyungsoo smiles and pets his hair. "Goodnight, Chanyeol."</div></cut>

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