airplanewishes (airplanewishes) wrote,
airplanewishes
airplanewishes

counting stars on the ceiling [Suho/Chanyeol] (1/3)

counting stars on the ceiling
EXO | Suho/Chanyeol | PG-13 | 12,450w
Angst, Romance, Friendship
The emotions he’s been holding back for so long are brimming at the surface, like liquid reaching the brink and slowly trickling down the glass.






counting stars on the ceiling



Junmyeon presses his back firmly against the hard metal of the chair, hands tightly fisted on his lap. Both his legs are pressed stiffly together with his feet steadfastly planted on the white marble floor. There are a myriad of emotions struggling to free themselves from his viselike grip on them, but he keeps a mirthful smile on his face as his manager explains to them that there are to be no home visits for a while, not until they get their comeback in order. Beside him, Jongin is slouching on his seat, dejection seeping out from his whole body. Kyungsoo has a gentle hand on his lap, but Junmyeon knows that’s not enough consolation. Sehun is busy typing something furiously on his phone, probably complaining to Lu Han, while Baekhyun is simply studying his fingernails. Chanyeol, who is seated across from him, meanwhile, is looking straight at Junmyeon, as if studying him. Something familiar starts creeping up his chest before he realizes it and, as soon as he does, he immediately starts stuffing it back down. Junmyeon gives him a smile, one that he knows has his eyes almost disappearing, before he turns his attention back to their manager.

“We understand, manager-hyung,” Junmyeon says, ignoring Jongin’s and Sehun’s undeniable dagger-looks of betrayal on him.

When their manager leaves, Sehun immediately pushes his chair away from the table and goes out of the room, pressing his phone to his ear. Junmyeon doesn’t miss the way Sehun glares at him as he does so and all he can do is raise his eyebrows at him in amusement. He’s quite used to Sehun’s bratty ways and each member of the group just lets him have his way until he finally calms down. Jongin, meanwhile, has grabbed Junmyeon’s arm, making him face his angry demeanor.

“Jongin,” Junmyeon starts to pacify him calmly.

“No, hyung,” Jongin interrupts him. “You know it’s my sister’s birthday this weekend. You could have at least told him about that, maybe then I could’ve at least gotten an hour or two off to see her.” He crosses his arms on his chest, shrugging away the hand that Kyungsoo has placed on his shoulder.

Family is very important to Jongin. Family is important to all of them. But there’s only so much Junmyeon can make happen for them. Just because he’s leader, doesn’t mean he has a say in everything, or anything for that matter. Junmyeon understands Jongin’s sentiments, though, because he wants to come home to his family, as well. But he’s waited so long to debut. If this is what’s going to take to make him successful, he’s going to do whatever he can to achieve it.

“I know, Jongin,” Junmyeon responds. “I did tell manager-hyung about your sister’s birthday when you told me about it. But I can’t just—“

Jongin groans in annoyance, cutting Junmyeon off. He stands up and heads for the door. “Is there anything you can do?” he says.

“Jongin,” Kyungsoo reprimands him. He glances worriedly at Junmyeon, but Junmyeon chooses to ignore him, because he really can’t take looks of pity at the moment.

“It’s true!” Jongin twirls around to face them again. “Wu Fan hyung manages to get permission for the M members to sneak off from the dorms when they don’t have schedules in China. We never get to go anywhere.”

Junmyeon blinks through the small smile on his lips. He’s always known that he can never measure up to Wu Fan’s leadership; Wu Fan who’s always so poised and well-kept, managing to keep everyone in line without really doing much. He knows that none of the boys really look up to him as their leader, that’s really what they have Wu Fan for, but they’re all obliged to respect him because he’s that seven-year trainee. He’s still their sunbaenim no matter what. Hearing Jongin voice this out so candidly feels like his heart is being squeezed for blood until he’s dried out.

“That’s enough!” Everyone stiffens as Chanyeol’s deep voice echoes across the room. Chanyeol’s voice is always deep, but when he’s angry, there’s a certain scary gruffness to it that no one likes to hear. “Jongin, apologize to Junmyeon hyung.”

Junmyeon’s eyes widen as it shifts towards Chanyeol. Chanyeol’s gaze is on him and no one else’s. He finds himself holding Chanyeol’s stare and there’s something that clenches at his chest again. He allows it to swell for a moment, making it curl and warm his heart, before Jongin breaks the silence with the shuffling of his feet and his apology.

“Sorry, hyung,” Jongin murmurs, wrapping his arms around Junmyeon’s smaller frame, his words caressing his neck.

Junmyeon laughs and pats Jongin’s back. “Silly, of course it’s okay,” he assures him with a smile. Jongin pulls away, skeptically studying Junmyeon’s face and Junmyeon laughs. “Really, it’s fine. But can you go and make sure that Sehun’s okay? He’s been gone for a bit now.”

Jongin nods abruptly, giving a sweeping apologetic glance to the rest of the members before leaving. Baekhyun and Kyungsoo follow after him, not really saying anything, because, while Baekhyun and Kyungsoo can be noisy when they can, they’re normally quiet when confrontation happens in the group. Especially when it concerns Junmyeon.

“You can go ahead,” Junmyeon tells Chanyeol when everyone else has gone. He moves to gather all the papers that the members had left behind, their schedules written down. “I’ll just tidy up here.”

“Hyung,” Chanyeol hesitates, making Junmyeon look up at him curiously.

“Chanyeol,” Junmyeon says, slowly and purposefully, “I appreciate what you did back there. But you don’t…” He pauses and frowns a bit before his whole face smoothes over into a pleasant look. “You don’t have to do that. We all know how Jongin is. I’m sure he didn’t mean it.”

“But hyung,” Chanyeol starts again and Junmyeon shakes his head.

“You don’t have to look out for me,” Junmyeon states with a light chuckle, but he makes sure that Chanyeol understands. “You’re not supposed to.”

Junmyeon dutifully ignores Chanyeol’s noticeable frown and doesn’t even flinch, even when he felt like doing so, when Chanyeol mutters before leaving, “Someone has to.”



-



Junmyeon is 16 when SME decides that he’s good enough to become a trainee. Junmyeon is elated at this news and wastes no time in packing his bag and moving in to the trainee dormitories. He attends every dance practice, every vocal class, and every personality development session with conscientiousness and earnestness. He takes and pulls through everything with a smile, whether his body feels like giving out at the end of each day, whether he gets his leg muscles pulled, or whether their trainer tells him that he’s not good enough. Even when he overhears a couple of other trainees badmouthing him, he continues smiling. Junmyeon knows what he wants and he doesn’t care about what other people will say. He knows that this is something he’s wanted for a very long time and he knows he can have it. So, even when he passes by these trainees, who stutter in silence at the sight of him, he doesn’t say anything and smiles even brighter.

But a tall, gangly kid defends him anyway. “I don’t see how talking about other trainees is going to get you to debut,” his deep voice surprises the trainees and they scamper off in different directions like ants.

The tall, gangly trainee turns to him and Junmyeon is wide-eyed because he’s not only tall and wonderfully deep-voiced, his face is also smooth and white and seemingly flawless. He blinks and swallows as he looks away.

“Thank you,” Junmyeon says softly. “You didn’t really need to do that. They weren’t really bothering me.” When he looks up at the trainee once more, his trademark smile is back on his face.

The trainee smirks and offers his hand to him. “I’m Chanyeol,” he says.

“Junmyeon,” Junmyeon replies as they shake hands.

“I know,” Chanyeol responds with a big grin of his own. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Junmyeon and Chanyeol end up being friends, something that Junmyeon never really expected. He knows that the entertainment--specifically, the idol--industry is cutthroat and that trainees would do anything to be picked for debut, including bullying other fellow trainees by not including them in. It wasn’t until he and Chanyeol started hanging out that Junmyeon realized that this was what was being done to him.

“I don’t get how you don’t notice these things,” Chanyeol shakes his head as they look up at the starry night sky. “You’ve been here for a while now and you’ve only noticed that you didn’t really have any friends.”

“I have friends,” Junmyeon mutters, chuckling lightly and he leans back against the wall, sighing quietly with contentment. Practice had been particularly grueling that day. When he flexes his arms and legs, he’s surprised that they’re still there. It amazes him that they still haven’t fallen off. “There’s Kyuhyun hyung, Jessica noona, Wu Fan…”

“But before,” Chanyeol insists. “Really, hyung.” He shakes his head and his bangs fall over his forehead, practically covering his eyes.

Without thinking, Junmyeon reaches out and brushes his hair to the side. Chanyeol blinks at him and Junmyeon sees his Adam’s apple bob up and down as he swallows. His heart is beating fast and loud in his ribcage and he really isn’t sure why. He stuffs the nervousness and weirdness down and smiles brightly.

“Well, I had you, didn’t I?” Junmyeon tells him as if that made up for all the loneliness that Chanyeol thinks Junmyeon felt back then. And as he says it, he realizes that it’s true. He knew what he’d gotten himself into when he auditioned for the company. He knew that it was going to be hard, that there would be times where he’d want to give up and things that would make him want to just drop everything and leave. But he’s wanted this so badly for so long that he never really thought about anything or anyone else. He just focused on his dream and plowed on. When Chanyeol came along, it’s only then that he realized that there could be something more for him, aside from being a singer, that he could have other dreams, too. He smiles even brighter when Chanyeol’s lips quirk up into a small smile.

“We really have to do something about that smile of yours, hyung,” Chanyeol finally decides as he takes a deep breath.

“What’s wrong with my smile?” Junmyeon asks, frowning a little.

“Just… I never really know what you’re thinking or feeling,” Chanyeol admits, tilting his head a bit to give him an assessing look. “It bothers me because I never know if you’re hurting or—“

Junmyeon laughs and Chanyeol’s eyes widen slightly. “You don’t have to look after me, Chanyeol,” he assures him as he pats his hand. “I’m fine.”

“Everyone needs someone to look after them,” Chanyeol stoutly declares. Then he looks at Junmyeon in the eye until Junmyeon is forced to look back at him. “And I’ll be that someone for you.”



-



Practice never gets easier even after debut. It’s still as tiring and as nerve-wracking as Junmyeon remembers it to be. Except, this time, there’s more at stake, money, reputations, his, the members’ and the company’s, his entire future. So he trudges through, maybe with more difficulty this time around, than when he was just a trainee. He’s leader this time, the fans believe that the members look up to him, so he always has to be on his best and most immaculate behavior.

The practice room is empty, the lights dimmed. It’s just perfect for Junmyeon to drop the Suho act and slide down to the ground, back resting on the cool cemented wall. He stretches his legs and starts slowly rotating his left ankle. There was a dance move where he put his left foot down too forcefully, straining his ankle too much. It hurt. But it’s nothing to cause him a slow down.

The M members practiced with them today. As was normal when they were around, everyone gravitated towards Wu Fan and his natural sense of leadership. He thinks back to how Jongin and Sehun flocked him as soon as he entered the door, remembers how Baekhyun beamed when Wu Fan took notice of his new hair color, recalls how Kyungsoo blushed when Wu Fan patted his head. It’s an adoration that Junmyeon truly understands. It doesn’t mean that it hurt any less. Of course he and Wu Fan are friends, but when something happens over and over again right before your eyes, it gets harder to ignore it after a while. Especially when even Chanyeol latches on to Wu Fan’s side once he arrives.

The quiet click of the door echoes across the room and Junmyeon practically jumps in fright as a warm body slides to the floor beside him.

“It’s just me,” Baekhyun says.

“Just you,” Junmyeon breathlessly echoes and his heart starts steadying itself again.

“You’re overworking yourself again.” The way Baekhyun says it leaves no room for argument and all Junmyeon can do is swallow and breathe.

Baekhyun is the last member to join the group. In knowing this fact, one would think that he’d know the members the least. But Baekhyun has a way of worming himself, rather pleasantly, into a person’s life that Junmyeon sometimes forgets that Baekhyun hasn’t been around since the beginning. There had been times that Baekhyun had called him out on his tiredness and on pushing himself too much, despite his smiles. At times like those, he remembers how perceptive Baekhyun could be.

“I’m not really sure how they expect us to perfect choreography in a day,” Junmyeon tries to explain when he finally speaks.

“You do know that they’re just telling us that so we’d learn it faster, right?” Baekhyun reminds him with a knowing look. “They don’t really expect us to dance a new choreography like pros after having seen it in only a couple of hours.”

“But we are supposed to be the pros,” Junmyeon counters. When Baekhyun doesn’t say anything, Junmyeon allows himself to close his eyes and relax.

There was once a time when he sprained his ankle during dance practice. It was just around that time that the company announced that a new group, EXO, was going to debut and who was going to be in it. It was also the same time that Junmyeon and Wu Fan were announced as the leaders of the two sub-groups. Junmyeon remembers feeling so elated, until he happened to see the others shooting Wu Fan happy and proud smiles, none directed towards him.

That was the first time Junmyeon felt something other than determination and excitement in the course of his trainee life. Sure, he’d heard other trainees talk about him like he wasn’t supposed to be there. He accepted that and let the words pass through the other ear because it didn’t matter. He knew what he could be. But, in seeing the other trainees with whom he was going to be spending the rest of his career, almost most of his life with, share those same sentiments, it felt like a thorn got lodged in his heart.

And so he danced himself practically to death that day. As he tried to move as gracefully as he could to the beat, for the first time, he saw how lacking he was. He will never be as good of a dancer like Jongin, Sehun, Minseok and Yixing are. He’ll never sing the way Baekhyun, Kyungsoo and Jongdae do. He wasn’t a rapper like Chanyeol was. He’ll never move like Zitao does. He’s not even good-looking the way Lu Han and Wu Fan, who’s also leader, are. He’s pretty much not good enough for anything, always second-best at everything.

Tears had stung his eyes at this realization and he stumbled through a step. He felt his ankle twist and pain shot through his limbs. But he didn’t stop. He merely paused for a second, squeezed his eyes shut as he braced himself through the first wave of pain, and kept on dancing.

And after everyone had gone home, he let himself cry for the first time in his trainee life.

“Look, I don’t know what’s going on with you and Chanyeol,” Baekhyun suddenly breaks the silence. He stops talking when Junmyeon noticeably stiffens beside him and he raises his eyebrows. “He cares about you, hyung.”

There’s a second where Junmyeon thinks about admitting to whatever Baekhyun’s accusing him of or whether he’ll smile. The latter wins out because he’s a coward and so he flashes a brilliant smile at the younger male.

“Of course, I care about Chanyeol, too.” Junmyeon ignores how his voice wavers and focuses on injecting all the sincerity he can find in his being. It’s not that he doesn’t care about Chanyeol; he does. The problem lies in whether it’s too much. “I care about all of you.”

He continues smiling even when Baekhyun frowns.



-



Junmyeon sighs in contentment as the stars twinkle on beautifully that evening. He leans even more on the balcony, trying to see every star in the sky. It was almost midnight and he’s just gotten back from practice. Still, the city streets continue to be abuzz with activity. Despite this, Junmyeon feels a certain calm course through him, something that he hasn’t felt in a while, and something that he needs with their debut nearing.

He hears the glass doors sliding open behind him. “What are you doing?”

Junmyeon smiles at the familiar voice. “Whispering my dreams to the stars,” he answers, not even turning around.

“What dream is that?” Chanyeol asks, leaning against the balcony as well. But his eyes aren’t on the sky, they’re on Junmyeon.

“I just really want us to do well, as EXO. I want us to be successful,” Junmyeon earnestly shares with him. It’s a dream that they all share and he wants all of them to achieve that dream together.

“Is that your biggest dream, hyung?” Chanyeol then asks.

Junmyeon smiles and finally looks at Chanyeol. “Isn’t it yours?” he curiously asks.

Chanyeol lets out a breath and looks up at the night sky this time. “I think that dreams evolve,” he vaguely answers and pauses. “I think… I’m too greedy.”

“Aren’t we all,” Junmyeon very quietly responds.

Junmyeon finds himself unable to look away from Chanyeol. Something expands in his chest, something that he thinks has been growing since the day he’d met this tall and gangly kid with dark hair and pretty face, as he continues to look at him. There were days when he’s thought that it’s just a surge of affection, something like appreciation for Chanyeol, who decided to be friends with him, despite being not so well-liked by the other, because it’s so easy to appreciate Chanyeol. Junmyeon always likens him to the sun, always giving him light and warmth and joy, that when he’s away or when they’re not together, he always feels lonely and cold. He’s always attributed whatever weirdness he’d started feeling around him to friendship. But then such feelings started being accompanied with wanting to run his hands through Chanyeol’s hair, wanting to keep as close to him as possible, their bodies touching, wanting to kiss… and be kissed by him. Junmyeon knows these things aren’t normal because they’re friends and they’re both boys, and they’re in a country that would never agree that these feelings are okay. But he wishes otherwise, hopes for otherwise.

He continues to breathe in and out and he thinks that there’s no one greedier than he is.



-



Suho isn’t averse to skinship. He thinks it’s something necessary and, when done right, can be enjoyable, too. He sees how Sehun and Lu Han milk their HunHan fans for screams and fangirl deaths and somewhat feels proud because they know how to use such things to their advantage. But he thinks skinship can be dangerous, too. Because they create an illusion of something that may not really be there.

Chanyeol, however, isn’t really one for skinship. It’s normally Baekhyun who leads BaekYeol with light touches with his dainty hands and bright, pretty smiles. Chanyeol acquiesces and follows because he knows it’s what the fans want. He does the same with Kris, who’s always the one who turns towards Chanyeol with his serious face, making Chanyeol come to him with his bright grin and twinkling eyes. Almost everyone leads Chanyeol to skinship with him, even Kai. Except Suho.

It’s not that Suho doesn’t want it. Suho is the leader, the one who cares about all of them, the one who would do anything for his members. He’s the leader, their guardian, therefore, if anyone should practice skinship with all of them, it’s him. But if Junmyeon doesn’t want it, Suho won’t do anything. Because he knows that if he starts, he’ll eventually have to do it with Chanyeol and he might not be able to help himself if that happens.

But when Chanyeol is standing beside him, sweat trickling down his face and on his eyes and no sleeves to wipe it off with, Junmyeon pushes Suho to do something. He takes a cautious step forward and raises his hand to wipe Chanyeol’s face with his sleeve. All of these he does with a smile, even when Chanyeol’s eyes flicker towards him with obvious surprise.

Suho doesn’t even really hear the fans’ screams. Junmyeon’s too busy screaming at him.



-



“Hyung.”

Junmyeon looks up from where he’s studying song lyrics and sees a very reluctant Sehun standing in front of him. He’s holding a Mandarin book and a red notebook, one that Junmyeon knows is the one that the magnae uses for when he’s studying Mandarin.

“What is it, Sehun?” Junmyeon asks with a smile.

Sehun bites his lip and hesitates for a second before taking a deep breath. “Can you help me with my Chinese exercises?” he blurts out. Junmyeon opens his mouth to agree, but then Sehun is talking again. “I asked Wu Fan hyung but he says that you can—“

“Is Wu Fan hyung busy? Don’t worry, I’ll tell him that you prefer studying with him. Maybe we can schedule things,” Junmyeon interrupts lightly. He knows how important studying Mandarin is to Sehun, especially with his lisp, and knows that Wu Fan has always been the one who’s really made it his mission to teach him. He also knows how much Sehun adores Wu Fan and doesn’t want Sehun to think that Wu Fan has rejected him.

“But hyung,” Sehun starts again and Junmyeon shakes his head.

“I can ask Yixing to help you instead,” Junmyeon offers, ignoring the pang in his chest. “Or Tao. I think you’ll like that more.” He chuckles when Sehun turns red.

He gets up and walks to the living room, where the other boys are hanging out, to talk to Tao before Sehun can interject. Tao gives him a curious look when Junmyeon asks him and frowns at Sehun who has come out to the living room as well. But Tao gets up and pulls Sehun to the dining table and they start working.

Junmyeon’s smile falls once he looks away. He never stops wondering when he’ll be good enough; whether he’ll ever be good enough.



-




Tags: author: a, character: chanyeol, character: suho, genre: angst, genre: friendship, genre: romance, pairing: chanho, pairing: suho/chanyeol, pairing: suyeol, rated: pg-13, title: c
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