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((Can you tell my daddies to chu~ already, please?))

---

Baekhyun can feel his consciousness stirring like a physical part of him, but he doesn’t rush it; even in his practically-asleep state, he knows today is his day off, and he wants to make the most of it. He deserves a good rest and family time, and the prospect of spending his day so perfectly brings a smile on his drowsy lips. He already feels more rested and peaceful, his limbs pleasantly numb and his mind finally free of worries; he can’t even remember the last time he felt like this.

He stretches and squirms, expecting his limbs to touch Chanyeol at some point, so he can orientate himself towards him and demand for his lazy morning warmth, but all he finds is cold, empty sheets. His hands actively search under the covers, but there is no hint of a familiar tall body on Chanyeol’s side of the bed. Baekhyun cracks an eye open, confused and slightly disappointed, to confirm that Chanyeol is not sleeping beside him. His first thought is that Chanyeol might be checking on Lay as usual, or maybe she is already awake and he is keeping her company, which is comforting –but still disappointing. He pouts, but then he registers the shuffling noises on the other side of the room, and he turns his head around.

Chanyeol is kneeling on the floor in front of the wide open closet, seemingly searching for something. Baekhyun can’t guess what he might be looking for inside the rarely used bottom drawers so early in the morning, but he’s not awake enough to question anything in any case. Chanyeol keeps as quiet as possible, but his rummaging is so intense that his flat rear, sticking in the air as he is bent forward, is wiggling every now and then. It reminds Baekhyun of an excited dog wagging his tail for some reason, and he smiles sleepily, oddly entertained.

He doesn’t get to find out what Chanyeol had been searching for, because the moment it looks like he has found it, Baekhyun’s brain ingeniously instructs him to play dead. He closes his eyes and breathes evenly, lying on his back and pretending to be asleep. This is all deception, lies and fallacies, because it’s a fact that Baekhyun can’t sleep on his back, but Chanyeol doesn’t know that and, hopefully, he will fall for Baekhyun’s otherwise effortless acting; it’s not like he fully woke up at any point.

“Baek…Baekhyunnie, wake up~” Chanyeol’s voice calls softly, and the bed dips next to Baekhyun, making him sway. He can feel Chanyeol sitting close to him on the edge of the bed, pressed against his hip, and Baekhyun gets the urge to curl himself around Chanyeol’s waist and sleep in his lap, but he’s too sleepy to move so much. A large hand rests on the side of Baekhyun’s waist and it starts rubbing up and down gently over the sheets; the fabric is so thin that Baekhyun can feel Chanyeol’s fingers slide over his stomach and down his ribs, all the way to his hipbone. Deeming it’s too early for such wildly inappropriate excitement, Baekhyun arches his back and stretches as a sign of waking up. Unfortunately –or maybe not so much– the move causes Chanyeol’s hand to stray off its innocent course and reaches intimate territory, from Baekhyun’s chest to the dip of his pelvis. Baekhyun would blush if he wasn’t feeling like a content, lazy cat.

“Why?” he croaks, blinking his eyes open to see a smiling Chanyeol –who keeps petting his stomach, for the record. It doesn’t help with Baekhyun’s recent cravings, ahem.

“Let’s go to the beach” Chanyeol suggests immediately, his voice cheerful but pleasantly serene. It doesn’t change what he just said; which was what exactly? Baekhyun is still half-asleep so, excuse him, but maybe he got something wrong.

“What?” he deadpans, staring at Chanyeol, unsure of how to feel or what to say about his proposition. Did he even hear it right? Chanyeol, on the other hand, seems very ready to support his case, bright glints of excitement dancing in his large eyes. It’s hard to resist him when he is like this, and why does Baekhyun feel like he will end up saying yes to anything? Because I probably will, because I’m a sucker for Chanyeol’s puppy eyes and persuasion tricks and because I’m honestly so whipped, ugh.

“It’s your day off, the weather is nice and I’m sure both of us have missed the sea and a bit of sunshine. It will be fun for Lay too! I already got her the cutest bikini and I found your swimming trunks, so please say yes?” Chanyeol is undeniably excited and his big smile is blinding and hopeful, in a way that turns your insides to mush and clouds all judgment, making you feel compelled to agree or else the universe might collapse from the sheer amount of injustice that will be Chanyeol’s disappointment. He seems to have taken care of everything beforehand –even buying a bikini for Lay, where did he even find swimwear for a one-year-old?– and, much as Baekhyun would have liked to spend his day off cooped up in the safety and comfort of his home, unfortunately, he is too lazy to refuse an all-inclusive package for a sunny day at the beach. It’s true he has missed such excursions and, to be honest, he doesn’t care where he is, as long as he gets to be with his two favorite people in the world. Chanyeol is still staring at him expectantly.

“Okay” he concedes after a while and he sighs in surrender when Chanyeol bounces on the bed happily. This will be the first time Lay goes to the sea and Baekhyun doesn’t even want to start thinking of all the potential hazards yet, so he grabs a pillow and throws it over his face, very maturely hiding from his worries, and he turns to his side, getting comfortable. “But give me five more minutes” He needs to cope somehow, and a short hibernation break from reality seems like the way to go right now.

“You get five more minutes and a hug!” Chanyeol allows enthusiastically, fussily fitting himself in the small space next to Baekhyun and wrapping his arms around him, leaning his whole body on Baekhyun to keep from falling off the bed. Baekhyun smirks under his pillows and wiggles, allowing them to get more comfortable in a way that has become very familiar by now. He relaxes into Chanyeol’s chest, letting his strong arms pull him into a bundle of sheets and his fingers sneak under the covers to press against Baekhyun’s stomach. It makes Baekhyun feel like a squishy little spoon, but Chanyeol is giving him the cuddling warmth his system has been craving since he woke up, and so he’s not complaining.

“You just want to cuddle” he accuses halfheartedly, still smiling as he feels Chanyeol nuzzling his way from the nape of his neck to the side behind his ear and then down to the juncture between his neck and shoulder. Baekhyun likes to delude himself with believing Chanyeol finds him irresistible when he’s freshly awakened, but he knows very well that’s impossible and Chanyeol is probably just sharing his happiness this way. It’s been well established by now that Chanyeol is very touchy, and even though hugs like this happen sometimes, going beyond friendly and comfortable touches, no one ever finds it inappropriate or weird; the reason for this is a secret everybody knows but nobody tells.

“Shush, you want it too” Chanyeol retorts playfully, mumbling on Baekhyun’s skin. The latter chuckles and hums; it’d be futile to refute.

Baekhyun sleeps lightly but it helps to ease his nerves –maybe Chanyeol’s presence has had something to do with it– and he wakes up smoothly when Chanyeol untangles himself and gets off the bed. The pillow falls off Baekhyun’s head, unblocking his ear, and now Baekhyun can hear his daughter mumbling in playful voices in her room. She does that sometimes, when she wakes up in a good mood and she prefers playing by herself rather than calling for her daddies, singing and talking to her toys or mumbling things to her curtains and the hanging toys over her crib. Assuming Chanyeol went to her, Baekhyun guesses he’s on breakfast duty.

It takes longer for Baekhyun to cook a fuller meal for breakfast, but Lay and Chanyeol take just as long to prepare. Lay is very excited and Chanyeol is glowing with anticipation; it’s hard to remain unaffected by their cheerful vibes. By the time they settle in the car, beach necessities and snacks all packed and ready, Baekhyun is as thrilled as Lay and curious to see how she will react when she sees the sea for the first time in her life. They keep telling her they’re going to the sea with abundant excitement, and then they list all the things they can do there or give simple information, like ‘the sea is blue and very big!’, but she doesn’t seem to understand that part very well. All she knows is that they are leaving the house, the three of them together to have fun, and that she is wearing something unusual under her shirt. She seems to like her bikini –which is truthfully beyond cute– and she keeps pulling her shirt, trying to show it to Baekhyun.

((Daddy, look! I have a binini! It’s frilly and pink! It shows my tummy, but you can’t eat my tummy, because I’m wearing my binini! Hehe))

You can bet they sing, loudly, all the way to the beach, chorusing disjointedly and laughing when they get the lyrics wrong, or on particularly off-key notes and Lay’s passionate slurs from the backseat. Baekhyun doesn’t know how Chanyeol manages to play with them and drive, but he likes being the mood maker for more than one small person and he enjoys Chanyeol’s broad grins and hearty laughs. The long car drive to the seaside seems like it took just a few minutes. Baekhyun spots a seagull and points at it excitedly, explaining to Lay how this chirpy lives near the sea, and that means they’re close. Baekhyun feels like he’s five again.

The sunlight prevents Lay from seeing the sea from the parking lot, so they unload quickly, taking the baby seat with them as it is. There are a few people around, mostly small children, families and young people enjoying their summer, and it feels refreshing that nobody knows them or comes from their neighborhood for a change. Baekhyun overflows with excitement when the sea breeze brushes over his skin, carrying the sound of mild waves, and he picks Lay in his arms quickly, running on hot sand to get to the edge of the shore. Chanyeol takes a moment to set up their umbrella and secure their things before he runs after them.

Lay squeals and claps, her eyes sparkling. She looks wonderstruck and excited, not knowing where to look first, from the waters coming and going under Baekhyun’s feet to the vast expanse of blue horizon. She looks around at the clouds of white foam and marvels at the sparkles on the water, and then she notices other people having fun around them, and she starts babbling so fast that both Baekhyun and Chanyeol find it hard to keep up with her mood and understand her. In those unforgettable moments, they’re all swelling with happiness under the sun.

Baekhyun hands her over to Chanyeol when they decide to venture into the sea, because Lay is impatient to meet the water and Chanyeol is brave enough to get soaked in seawater quickly, whereas Baekhyun doesn’t like the cold on his skin and prefers to dive at his own, slow pace. They don’t go too deep, staying where the water is a little above waist high, so that they can easily hold Lay completely out of the water if they need to. Lay gets used to the feeling of the sea surrounding her in Chanyeol’s arms, and she keeps her lips pressed closed whenever she thinks she’s getting close to the surface after an unpleasant taste of salty water. They play with the tiny quivers of waves on the water’s surface and chase sparkles from the sun. When she feels more comfortable, she migrates to Baekhyun’s arms, dancing around with him and holding him tightly by the neck.

She finds it hilarious when Chanyeol stumbles and submerges completely for a moment, coming back out drenched to the last strand of his hair. Baekhyun laughs with her, but he can’t say the sight of Chanyeol’s white t-shirt all wet and see-through and clinging to his skin doesn’t affect him in other ways. They splash poor Chanyeol some more –mostly Baekhyun does, and he’s having too much fun with it–, and the best part is that Chanyeol can’t splash them back, for fear that seawater might get in Lay’s eyes. Chanyeol promises revenge back home –mostly threatening them with cuddle attacks which would be very welcome– and they play like that for some time, until they’re tired and they decide that devouring their snacks sounds like a good idea.

Chanyeol takes Lay to the showers, to wash off the salt, while Baekhyun prepares her snack. He ends up feeding Lay and Chanyeol after they come back, and for the first time in a long while he doesn’t care if people see Chanyeol eating peach slices right from Baekhyun’s fingertips, or if people will assume Baekhyun is dating him, or heck, if they’re married even! By all means, assume all of the above people, it doesn’t change Baekhyun’s happiness.

Lay falls asleep almost immediately after she finishes eating, clean, dressed, lathered with sunscreen and splayed on the baby seat under the shadow of their umbrella. Baekhyun sits beside her in the shade, gazing at the sea and enjoying the sound of the rhythmic waves, feeling the breeze playing in his shirt and in his hair, breathing in clean air and sunshine. Chanyeol is temporarily left in the sun to dry, but he moves under the shade soon enough, claiming the left side of Baekhyun as his pillow. Baekhyun would comb his fingers through his hair but salt makes mean tangles, so he only rests his hand on Chanyeol’s shoulder and enjoys the moment. This has been one of the best days of his life.

“You called me daddy” Chanyeol says conversationally out of the blue at some point. Baekhyun tries to gather his thoughts from travelling with the wind over the sea and frowns behind his sunglasses, focusing on Chanyeol.

“What?”

“You told her ‘Splash daddy, honeycomb!’” Chanyeol repeats, his eyes staying fixed on the bright patterns of their umbrella, not meeting Baekhyun’s bewildered eyes, hidden behind black lenses. Baekhyun’s stomach flops. He did? He said that? He might have; it wouldn’t be impossible. His feelings have been on his tongue lately, slipping here and there; god, he wishes this thing between them was easier, less complicated, so he could say everything and just be satisfied for once. He feels something from his heart drop heavy to the pit of his chest and he pales a little, but he holds his tongue, seeing Chanyeol so thoughtful. After a long silence, filled with whispers of the sea, Chanyeol speaks again.

“She says it all the time, but it’s the first time you called me that” he explains, his gaze dropping to his body on the ground. His eyes are droopy but not sad, and his cheeks are pink from the heat, his hair is sticking in all directions above his large ears and his lips are pressed in a shy line. He looks a bit awkward, a bit flattered, and a bit bashful, so, essentially, he looks very cute. Baekhyun grins and eases Chanyeol’s uncertainty by smoothing his fingers down his arm and back to his shoulder again –he is totally not feeling him up, it was an innocent touch, although he does appreciate Chanyeol’s biceps greatly. He was tongue-tied a moment ago, but seeing Chanyeol like this, like a man flustered and proud and excited from the fuzzy feeling of fitting into a family, makes Baekhyun feel content.

“Now you know what that feels like” he says playfully, remembering all those times Chanyeol has acknowledged him as Lay’s daddy and how self-conscious it makes him feel when it comes from Chanyeol’s lips. It really sounds different, but he might never be able to explain it. Chanyeol makes the word sound like an honorific, a wish, a dream and a blessing all in one. The taller’s lips crack a small smile, his eyes still downcast and thoughtful, and he curls his toes in the sand idly.

“Yeah”

---

It’s another peaceful evening indoors for the three of them. Nothing out of the ordinary or disturbing in any way is happening in the comfort of the living room, where they’re sharing the space, each busy with their own business.

Baekhyun is working in the midst of an explosion of paperwork on the dinner table. His laptop screen is reflecting in his eyeglasses as he keeps calculating numbers for a budget, adding and multiplying again and again, until he can’t remember what the numbers he’s tampering stand for exactly. He takes notes and fixes his wire-rimmed glasses every so often, generally being very quiet and productive in his corner. He looks utterly adorable, wearing an oversized t-shirt and loose sweatpants which are too long to be his –because they are Chanyeol’s– his hair is a fluffy mess, and his lips are pouty and bright pink from frequent bites. He looks so serious and concentrated, the only signs of agitation being his pretty fingers drumming on the keyboard, his toes wiggling on the floor every now and then, or his nose scrunching in distaste.

Chanyeol is sprawled on the living room floor, right next to the play mat, reviewing a few contracts Luhan sent him yesterday for work. They asked him to compose parts for a movie soundtrack and he needs to go over some details before he has to drag himself downtown for a meeting with the company. He has done this before, so it’s not very hard to read over the contracts while keeping an eye on Lay. Besides, it’s one of those days when she doesn’t want constant supervision and company, being quite content with playing alone and rejecting their games in favor of her own devices. Being with the adults is fun, but a child needs some space every so often, too. They are enjoying a casual and comfortable companionship, with the scent of cookies and coffee lingering in the air.

There is something unusual about today though, which is bugging Chanyeol. Lay is being oddly restless on her play mat, crawling around in endless circles. It’s not unusual for her to be so active, but she has never moved around with purpose for so long before. She gets distracted by her toys occasionally, and she sits down for a few moments, talking to them or arranging them out of her way, before she starts crawling again, from the couch to the coffee table, to Chanyeol, to her toys and back. This behavior is suspicious, but she doesn’t look agitated; she looks curious and thoughtful. Chanyeol follows her every move with the corner of his eye, ready to catch her if she tries to crawl away.

At some point though, she picks a spot and plops down on it for no apparent reason. At first Chanyeol guesses she has grown tired, but then she starts patting her hands on the mat, as if testing the ground underneath. What she might be trying to accomplish by that is beyond Chanyeol, but something is up with her for sure. Unable to hide how weird he finds it, he picks up his phone and texts Baekhyun –he’s only a couple of meters away, but Chanyeol doesn’t want to call him and disturb Lay and her uncanny rituals.

‘What is she doing???’

Baekhyun blinks and focuses on reality again when his phone buzzes next to him, picking it up and examining it for a moment before sending Chanyeol a curious look. Chanyeol nods to Lay, who is still patting the floor and wiggling her cute little diapered butt in place, looking very concentrated on whatever unfathomable is going on in her one-year-old mind. Baekhyun watches his daughter silently, looking just as bewildered by her antics. Work and budgets forgotten, he quirks an eyebrow and tilts his head to the side, trying to gain perspective, but he only succeeds in looking like a cute puppy. After a few minutes of inquisitive staring, his eyes widen, his eyebrows rise above his big eyeglasses and his lips gape in surprise with a sudden epiphany. He starts typing on his phone fast and not two seconds later Chanyeol receives the message.

‘OMG do you think she’s about to WALK?!?!?!’

Chanyeol’s head snaps up and he looks at Lay again, only this time it’s in a completely different context. He examines her under the new light Baekhyun has shed on her case, and her behavior doesn’t seem to him as bizarre as before. They’ve been expecting her first steps any day now for a while, after all. The doctor said she is perfectly capable of doing it if she wants to, and they’ve both seen the telltale signs, like the times she stands on her feet with the help of nearby furniture and she stays up for a few moments before she sways back on her butt –it’s one of the cutest things Chanyeol has ever seen, especially with that look of confusion she always wears on her small face. Her first steps is something both of them are excited and anxious about, because it’s the greatest thing to see a child achieving such tremendous progress and becoming a vivacious toddler, but then you’ll have to chase said toddler everywhere and try twice as hard to protect it from ever-present dangers. Crawling is more convenient, in the sense it’s more manageable, but Chanyeol doesn’t know anyone who hasn’t adapted after their child’s first steps, and frankly he can’t wait till they can play chase and dance together, or see her staggering and hopping her way all around the house.

The adults are obviously very intently focused on Lay but she doesn’t notice them, living in her own little world and making her first attempts at standing up at her own pace. She tilts dangerously close to falling a couple of times, but neither of them moves to interrupt her; she doesn’t seem to need their help anyway. When she first stands up and wobbles a tiny step forward, both Baekhyun and Chanyeol gasp.

She’s walking. Holy chocolate cookies.

“Honeycomb, you’re walking! You’re walking! Come to daddy!” Baekhyun flies to the living room in a matter of seconds, leaving sparkles of glee in his wake. He kneels next to the play mat and extends his arms, smiling at her encouragingly, so wide and radiantly happy, that Chanyeol’s heart throbs. He picks his phone hastily to record her first steps, and sure enough Lay giggles and staggers towards a very enthusiastic Baekhyun, falling into his arms with a triumphant squeal. Chanyeol cheers loudly and Baekhyun hugs her close, showering her with kisses and praise, before setting her back on her feet. “Now go to daddy! Can you do it, honeycomb?” he suggests excitedly and Lay turns around, sending Chanyeol and the camera a big smile.

It feels surreal and almost like a hundred hearts are pulsating inside his chest when he sees Lay taking quivering steps on her small feet towards him. Chanyeol wants to cry and it feels like he might faint, but his lips keep smiling and letting out encouraging words, calling Lay to come to him just as much as Baekhyun sends her forward. Since Chanyeol has to hold the phone, Baekhyun’s hands are following Lay, ready to catch her if she falls, but the little girl seems to be having the time of her life, giggling and babbling, and looking around as if the floor she’s known all her life is something completely new.

“What are you doing, Lay~?” Chanyeol asks her, focusing the camera on her ecstatic face. Lay looks up in that moment, all sparkly eyes and rosy cheeks, stealing his breath away with her mumbled response, looking so utterly, exuberantly happy.

((I’m growing, daddy!!))

She falls on her next step, landing with a small poof on the squishy mat. Baekhyun doesn’t even have to catch her, because she holds herself upright very well, avoiding any injuries, but she still has that look of confusion that Chanyeol adores, as if wondering why the floor moved all of a sudden. He puts the phone away to focus on her entirely while Baekhyun encourages her back on her feet.

“It’s okay, honeycomb, daddy is very proud of you! You can get up again, we know you can! Try it” he smiles at her softly, his eyes becoming crescent moons sparkling with happiness. Lay takes a moment to examine him, appraising his confidence in her, and then she looks at Chanyeol, who extends his arms as an invitation. She focuses hard on getting back on her feet again, very stubbornly and purposefully making her efforts, until she stands again and half-runs, half-stumbles her merry way to Chanyeol’s arms, giggling and babbling excitedly.

“That was amazing, mochi, well done! Your first steps, we’re so proud of you~” Chanyeol squishes her against his chest, kissing the crown of her head lovingly. He won’t say he’s crying, but it feels like it. He’s holding a little miracle. Less than two blinks after that, Baekhyun tackles them both, taking Chanyeol by surprise. Before he has time to process it, he finds himself with a lap full of Baekhyun and Lay, who are both hugging each other and Chanyeol somehow –that’s cuddling on Byun level for you. Chanyeol has no choice than to hug them both, his fingers curling around two soft, precious bodies, and he inhales their baby and vanilla scents, engraving them to his memory. But more than anything, he wants to remember the feeling of holding his life in his arms, of being the perfect puzzle piece, of experiencing such bliss and finally feeling like he’s in the place he was always meant to be.

“You know what this means, right?” Baekhyun lifts his head to look up at Chanyeol suddenly, glasses crooked on his nose and hair messy, puppy eyes looking even more adorable and innocent in this angle. “We’ll have to watch our steps, lock all the doors, stock up on band-aids and buy her the best shoes out there” he says seriously with a small frown between his eyebrows. Chanyeol can’t help but laugh at how cute Baekhyun is, how happy Chanyeol is, and how perfectly complete this moment feels.

“We will, Baek” he assures him, kissing his temple on an impulse that no one objects by now. Since Baekhyun has child-proofed the house and the stairs already, expecting this to happen any day for the past few months, there are few adjustments that they need to make for starters. As for the shoes, Chanyeol’s got it covered; he knows about expensive, good shoes, what do you think Yura gets every Christmas? Baekhyun grins, carefree, and tucks his head back into Chanyeol’s chest. Chanyeol swells with joy and secretly smiles; they’re so naturally making plans for the future, together, as a family.

Chanyeol agrees to give up his copyright claims on the video of Lay’s first steps for just one exception, and they send the video to Sehun, who nearly dies five times in the enthusiastic texts he sends them back, bombarding them at the speed of light –most of it is gibberish, exclamation marks, incoherent sentences and crying or heart-shape-eyed emojis. He even calls, squealing and exclaiming his excited thoughts so loud in Baekhyun’s ear that even Chanyeol goes nearly deaf beside him. He even asks to speak with Lay, who doesn’t understand why her Uncle Hunie is talking about strange things called ‘bicycles’ from inside the phone, so she listens silently, without a peep. Sehun laments that she doesn’t love him anymore and promises to visit them soon, to see her walk in person and win back her favor.

Baekhyun and Chanyeol laugh at Sehun’s reaction for a long time, even after they’ve put Lay to bed and they’re lying side by side in bed, ready to sleep. Chanyeol thinks he has had one of the most amazing days ever, the sort of day you recall with a smile after many, many years and you realize such things in your life are all you’ve ever needed to be happy. Baekhyun is still giddy beside him, squirming and watching the video again and again, with the wide smile of a proud daddy on his lips. Even after Chanyeol’s tiredness starts catching up with him and his eyelids become heavy, Baekhyun doesn’t stop fidgeting with his phone and wiggling under the covers, and even though Chanyeol doesn’t mind the glow of the screen, he needs Baekhyun to stay still so that he can get comfortable and sleep. The only solution to the problem that his drowsy mind comes up with, is to wrap himself, arms and legs, around Baekhyun; and so he does. Baekhyun doesn’t even flinch –at least he gets too comfy in Chanyeol’s arms and he stops moving.

“Oh, he sent another one!” Baekhyun says, unlocking his phone to check the latest message. Chanyeol waits expectantly to hear him read it aloud, but his mind is already clouded with sleep, so he doesn’t respond. “It says ‘She calls Chanyeol daddy too?? I knew this would happen…’” The cheerfulness dies on Baekhyun’s lips as he reads the question, and Chanyeol’s heart freezes for a moment. They recorded that part? Oops.

Baekhyun feels a bit distant and unnaturally still in Chanyeol’s arms, but Chanyeol is generally too tired to react with the appropriate embarrassment or awkwardness. It all seems very natural and sensible and harmless to him, in his half-asleep state of mind; yes, he is Lay’s daddy too, and it doesn’t make any difference if other people know it, he is happy and proud of that fact. Even though he’s nearly unconscious, however, he knows Baekhyun doesn’t think the same, because this means a great deal of changes and risks for him. Maybe they should talk about it tomorrow, maybe Chanyeol should comfort him and shower him with more love, until he feels comfortable and optimistic about the changes in their lives.

Silence. Long silence. No more laughing. Option to ignore the implications for now. Select. Cuddle closer to Baekhyun. Sleep.

---

Baekhyun wakes up with a startle and he jumps out of the couch, hissing in pain. He winces and rubs his sore neck, bending down to reach his phone from the coffee table and make the furious alarm stop ringing. One glance at the screen and the phone almost flies out of his hands; the alarm had every right to be furious, because he had been ignoring it for twenty five minutes. He’s late. Shit.

He nearly invents a new accident by stumbling up the stairs in his haste to reach his bedroom. He can’t remember if his blue shirt is out of laundry yet, his hair is a mess, and he feels gross because didn’t get to shower last night, so he needs to- oh. Baekhyun halts at the door of his bedroom, belatedly remembering why he didn’t shower last night in the first place, and why he earned himself a mean neck pain by sleeping on the couch.

His bed is occupied by two people, a small one and a giant one. He doesn’t know why Lay and Chanyeol are sharing his bed, but, by the time of the night Baekhyun got home yesterday, they were already asleep like this and he didn’t want to wake them. He skipped a fussy shower, fully aware that Chanyeol is a light sleeper and he would need his rest after spending what looked like another fitful night with Lay, and he went to sleep on the couch instead. It would have been great if those two had left some space for him on the bed too, but no such luck. Surprisingly, it’s not so much Chanyeol’s endless limbs that take up space, but Lay’s starfish sleeping habits. She’s still sleeping sprawled on the better half of the bed, with Chanyeol’s long arm draped securely around her. They look like the cuddliest picture you can imagine, a mess of black locks, flushed cheeks and pouty lips. Chanyeol is holding her so delicately and she looks so comfortable, and they both look so huggable that it takes all of Baekhyun’s willpower not to snuggle his way into their embrace and cuddle them both for the rest of the day.

Oh my god, he needs to be getting ready for work, why is he gazing at them lovingly, tick tock, Baekhyun, tick tock!

He panics and runs to the closet, ripping it open and gutting it in search for a new clean shirt to wear to work. At some point while hunting down clothing items to complete the outfit, the clothes hangers clash, one tumbles down, shoes roll around and his drawers screech, causing ruckus. None of it reaches Baekhyun’s ears, however, his mind trying to fit his entire morning routine in less than half the time. Unfortunately, he’s not alone in the room.

“Baekhyun? What happened?” Chanyeol’s groggy voice fills Baekhyun with guilt even before he turns around to see Chanyeol’s heavy-lidded gaze, eyebrows scrunched in confusion and lips pouting drowsily. He clutches the clothes in his hands nervously.

“Sorry, Chanyeol, I’m late” he whispers urgently, remembering to grab a pair of socks. Chanyeol lifts his head off the pillow like a turtle to see the clock on Baekhyun’s nightstand.

“Oh. You are.” He mumbles sleepily and then lets his head fall back in the pillow “I’ll wake up the angel and we’ll pack you breakfast, okay?” his voice is muffled by the feathers. Baekhyun doesn’t stick around to answer, dashing to the bathroom and closing the door behind him.

In record-breaking time, Baekhyun showers and dries his hair, shaves, dresses himself, washes his teeth and combs his unruly black locks in a semblance of order, all with just two glances in the mirror in total. When he returns to his bedroom, the bed is made and empty and the windows are open. He can hear Lay humming childish songs from downstairs and a savory scent of food is wafting around the house. He practically floats to the kitchen, where there is more sunshine pouring in from the open windows. He knows he is supposed to be in a hurry, but he takes a moment to appreciate the sight.

Lay is sitting in her high chair, mumbling things chirpily and swinging her little feet back and forth in the air. She struggles with her small children’s fork, chasing small pieces of rolled omelet scattered in her plate, using her little hands when the mission becomes too tiring. Chanyeol is busy with the pan over the stove, but he checks on her constantly, humming replies to her cheerful babbling, making sure she doesn’t choke with her food and walking over every now and then, cleaning her up and demonstrating the complicated mechanics of using a spoon once again, before leaving her with a pat on the head to struggle anew. Everything, from Lay’s chubby cheeks, her giggles and her greasy fingers to Chanyeol’s cooking skills, his kitchen apron and his soft smile, seems so fluffily domestic to Baekhyun that he swears the sunlight turns into that sparkling haze filter. His heart squeezes for a moment, before his brain rudely reminds him that he has to hop off soon.

“Good morning, honeycomb, did you sleep well?” he rushes to his daughter’s side, kissing her hair. The little girl squeals gleefully at her daddy’s presence and she starts mumbling fast, doing grabby hands at him, but she is too oil-stained and he can’t pick her up, because he doesn’t have time to change clothes again. He caresses her soft hair. “I missed you too, bunny~ Keep eating your breakfast now; wow, you’re using your spoon!” he enthuses and she quickly grabs the blatant eating utensil again, trying to show him how she eats like a grownup and hurling the small piece of food to the floor in the process. She looks around in confusion, searching for the piece of food that disappeared, and Baekhyun chuckles. “You’re almost there, honey, keep practicing” he pats her head again, his other hand reaching to the floor to pick up the food and wrapping it in a napkin to throw away later.

“Breakfast to-go, for the hottie in the blue blazer, coming right up!” Chanyeol chirps with a wide smile, working his magic behind the kitchen island. Baekhyun remembers that he has to go, like, five minutes ago.

“Oh right!” he exclaims, and then turns to Lay. “Bunny cheeks, daddy has to go to work, but I promise I’ll come home early today to play with you! You take good care of Chanyeol daddy, okay? Bye, honeycomb, love you” he kisses her cheek with a loud smack on purpose, because he knows it would make her giggle. He meets Chanyeol halfway to the kitchen, taking the lunchbox he’s holding in one hand hurriedly and mumbling a “Thanks, Yeol” –and tiptoeing to peck Chanyeol on the lips for the briefest of moments before he turns for the door.

He freezes almost instantly in the middle of fleeing the crime scene, realizing what he just did and flushing deep red all over. His fluster multiplies tenfold when his own daughter starts pointing at them excitedly, exclaiming “Chu~ Chuuuuuu~”

‘Chu~’ in their shared baby language means ‘kiss’.

How to even breathe, just how.

He whirls around to find Chanyeol standing frozen right where he left him, back slightly bent and eyes wide. He looks shocked, his complexion pale and his eyes glazed. Baekhyun wishes the ground would swallow him, about now would be a convenient time. He had already been tipping on the edge of self-composure in his rush to leave for work, so maybe he could tell even from the first steps he took closer to Chanyeol that it wouldn’t go with a friendly pat on the shoulder and a bye; but he thought his muddled thoughts would push him to a short hug, not to a k-kiss! He didn’t mean to grab Chanyeol by the collar, pull him down and smooch him square on the lips!

He has thought about it before but- wait, what?!

No, nonono, nooooo such thoughts never entered his head. Go away, thoughts, you were never here! Shoo, shoo.

“Ch-Chanyeol…” he mumbles disorientated, his lips feeling numb. Chanyeol blinks, touching his lips in wonder and disbelief. Baekhyun doesn’t know what to expect, but this is already very uncomfortable, and he whimpers quietly; he kind of wants to die. Whatever could he possibly say to save the day? Oh, and preferably in less than two minutes, because he really should leave at some point. He frowns pitifully and his mouth starts rambling hopelessly. “I…I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to, I’m just. I hope you don’t, you know, I mean we, yeah, and-”

“It’s okay, Baek” Chanyeol is back to his regular self in a blink, as if he wasn’t a breathing statue a heartbeat ago. He grins tentatively and Baekhyun sighs the rest of his nonsensical words quietly, unconvinced this is how this conversation should go.

“Chu!” Lay exclaims again, looking utterly thrilled, still pointing at Baekhyun and waiting to be acknowledged with a wide smile. Baekhyun looks at his child like she’s speaking the most alien words she has ever mumbled. Thankfully, Chanyeol is much more sober than he is.

“Yes, chu; you’re such a sharp little munchkin, aren’t you? We should chu you, too!” he coos, walking over to her and wiping her clean swiftly before picking her in his arms and kissing her cheek. The little girl claps happily and giggles, and Baekhyun’s heart melts in his chest. Chanyeol should not look this good this early in the morning and Baekhyun’s heart should stop fluttering. “Now, say bye to daddy” he singsongs, waving at Baekhyun, and Lay joins him, waving and mumbling cute things at her daddy. Baekhyun wants to cry at the beauty of this picture. “Drive safe, Baek!”

---
The next morning Baekhyun is fortunate enough to have enough sleep in his system, a good mood and plenty of time ahead until he has to be at work. They haven’t talked about yesterday’s embarrassing moment of Baekhyun’s weakness; Chanyeol didn’t mention it at all after Baekhyun came back from work until now, and neither did Baekhyun, not even during their late-night conversations, opting to talk about Sehun’s planned visit next week and the trip they’ll have to take to Baekhyun’s parents’ home this weekend. They managed to convince themselves that Yura’s request to visit them soon and Sehun’s preference over broccoli and lettuce were more important than discussing the muddled situation between them.

Baekhyun is thankful they can act normal with each other in spite of everything, that they can do everything they used to do before comfortably, as if there are not a million questions and emotions between them to be figured. It’s very confusing and he prefers to stay away safely, hoping the moment will be forgotten eventually, and he won’t have to strive emotionally anymore. It’s strange that Chanyeol can be the source of stress and comfort for Baekhyun at the same time, but Baekhyun doesn’t think he would be faring this well without him. Whenever Baekhyun’s worries and insecurities overwhelm him, a comforting hand will stroke his neck or ruffle his hair, with no questions asked. If that doesn’t make Chanyeol ten times more perfect partner material…

Chanyeol gave up the bed for last night, falling asleep on the couch in unsuspecting time. Baekhyun could have woken him up and taken him to bed, but Chanyeol got really tired yesterday, doing most of the work for the house and Lay, since Baekhyun hadn’t slept well and he was more clumsy than usual. He was kind of relieved that he was alone in bed at night –even though the space felt very empty and cold– because he has started tumbling down a cliff he had been balancing on for quite a while and he doesn’t know how to deal with that. Yesterday’s kiss marked the point of no return for him, making him realize just how much he can’t imagine his life separate from Chanyeol; he couldn’t even get comfortable without the usual dip on the mattress that Chanyeol’s body causes when he’s lying beside him.

But all those things happened yesterday, and today is a new day, so Baekhyun doesn’t let just one day of his life which will be someday forgotten dampen his bright mood. He doesn’t know why he’s so optimistic this morning, especially with that very demanding presentation waiting for him at the office, but his cheerful attitude is transferring to Lay and Chanyeol, making them even more cheery.

They have breakfast noisily, but with many smiles and a lot of laughter. Lay is getting impatient to talk nowadays, and she mumbles more seriously sometimes, concentrating on her efforts, but she still fails to say anything beside her usual childish words and incoherent babbles. After they finish, Baekhyun takes her to the play mat and stays with her for a while, before returning to the kitchen, to help Chanyeol with the dishes. They finish much faster if they work together and they always manage to be in perfect synch. Baekhyun is drying another bowl when he feels something brushing against his calf and he looks down in confusion.

“Oh, look who came over!” he says with a smile, leaving his towel on the side to pick up Lay from the floor. It’s not unusual to find her relocated these days, ever since she started walking, exploring and improving her skills, but she’s never made such a big distance before; she can usually be found somewhere in the living room or by her high chair at best. This time she really outdid herself, walking across the space to reach the kitchen, and Baekhyun knows that her improvement means more trouble and double caution for him and Chanyeol in the future, but he is really proud of her nonetheless.

“All the way from the other side of the house, huh?” Chanyeol approves, but since his hands are in the water and he can’t hug her too, he only miles at Lay excitedly. She claps her hands happily; why wouldn’t she be happy? She managed to travel to her two most favorite people in the world all by herself, and now her daddies are proud of her too! Baekhyun nuzzles her cheek and takes her to her seat on the counter.

“Here, honeycomb” he leaves her in her familiar place, a space they’ve cleared of dangerous objects where they let her sit and watch them from time to time, because she wants to be near them and observe them, and sometimes she gets frustrated with the distance between them and her high chair. One of them has to stay with her of course, so that she won’t fall and hurt herself, which means Chanyeol is left to finish the dishes by himself today. “One day, you will be a big girl, helping us with the dishes” Baekhyun tells her and she tears her eyes from Chanyeol’s hands to glance at Baekhyun with a smile.

“And you’ll hate every moment of it” Chanyeol adds jokingly, earning a towel thrown at his face by Baekhyun in playful retaliation. Chanyeol chuckles, finishing up his work; Baekhyun chuckles as well and he glances at the clock.

“Okay, I think I should get going” he muses, his fingers combing through Lay’s hair absentmindedly. Chanyeol dries his hands and perks up after a glance at the clock.

“Wait, your lunch” he says, disappearing behind the fridge door. Baekhyun turns to Lay with a smile, kissing her cheek.

“Bye, honeycomb~ Don’t tire daddy too much till I get back, okay?” he pinches her nose and she sneezes cutely, making both Baekhyun and Chanyeol laugh. She doesn’t know why her daddies are laughing at her, because something poked her brain just a moment ago and she made a funny ‘xiu~’ noise, but she goes on to babble her parting wishes to her daddy, unintelligibly and endearingly as ever. Baekhyun squeezes her and kisses her cheek again, before turning around to take his lunch box from Chanyeol’s hands, mumbling a brief “Thanks, Yeol” his lips still smiling after his daughter’s antics.

And then Chanyeol kisses him hard on the cheek, and all the human functions Baekhyun has learned during his twenty nine years of life fly out of his head. His emotional chart goes blank, just like his face and his thoughts, his body freezes and he blinks up at Chanyeol with surprised, wide eyes. “Uhhh…?” he wheezes, not sure how articulation goes at the moment. Chanyeol is still smiling brightly, and he shrugs his shoulders casually.

“Chu” he explains flatly, with that big smile curling happily on his pretty lips, which touched Baekhyun’s face a moment ago –Baekhyun feels his cheeks reddening at the thought. What is he supposed to understand from Chanyeol’s words?! He shakes his head in hopes that his brain will click into place, and he frowns at Chanyeol, unsure of whether he’s more confused, annoyed or flustered.

He thought they were over this chu business already!

“Have a good day!” Chanyeol is quick to spot the change in Baekhyun’s mood and he ushers him to leave like an excited-slash-anxious puppy, before anything they both don’t want happens. It’s been a bright morning, let’s not spoil it.

The same pattern continues on the next day and the next; every morning, Chanyeol gives a peck to Baekhyun’s cheek before he leaves for work without any reasonable excuse –except for saying chu with a smile, as if that explains anything–, Baekhyun gets flustered and red –and Lay gets excited–, then Baekhyun groans in frustration throughout the drive to work, but he avoids bringing up the matter after he gets home from work, so they don’t talk about it, at night Chanyeol falls asleep on the couch before Baekhyun has time to blink, leaving him alone and lonely in bed, and the next morning Baekhyun wakes up with renewed high spirits, as if yesterday is a harmless day of the past, or better yet, as if he is enjoying Chanyeol playing with his feelings.

Call him slow, but Baekhyun doesn’t get it.

---




Chanyeol wakes up some when before dawn. The peaceful silence of the house is broken by Lay’s loud cries and squeals, sounding very clear, even from the living room. Chanyeol automatically springs up from the couch and starts for Lay’s room quickly, his heart aching like every time he hears her cry. He rubs the sleep out of his eyes as he trudges up the stairs, not even assuming Baekhyun might already be tending to her, because the shorter tends to sleep like a log when he’s had a particularly tiring day, and Chanyeol knows for a fact that Baekhyun’s day wasn’t very easy today, because he came home from work with the cutest pout and the sleepiest eyes ever. He wouldn’t be surprised if he heard him snore tonight; sadly, he’ll never get to confirm his suspicions on the man’s sleeping habits, because Chanyeol is not allowed in the bedroom.

It’s another night he is sleeping on the couch, a self-imposed exile to give Baekhyun some space –because it’s the only time of the day he feels like that is possible. He can’t keep his feelings to himself anymore and they keep slipping his control; a good morning kiss here, a hug there, a longing gaze somewhere else. He feels so happy in those moments, butterflies squirming and sparkles dancing around in his vision, but he knows it’s selfish to feel this way when Baekhyun is obviously very confused by his behavior. He just can’t stop himself, like his pot of love for Baekhyun has overflowed. He knows he’ll need to fix it soon, but until then, he has decided to give Baekhyun some time and privacy to calm down, and the safest time to do so is when Chanyeol is unconscious. He doesn’t know for how much longer he’ll be able to pretend he falls asleep super fast on the couch before Baekhyun gets suspicious.

Chanyeol walks into the room without really needing to look where he is going; his feet have memorized the way. Lay has tossed away the covers and she’s standing in her crib, holding onto the railing for support and crying over it, facing the door and waiting for someone to come help her. If she has managed to get on her feet right after she woke up, she must have been very agitated in her sleep. Chanyeol walks closer to her and pats her hair in sympathy; the little girl quiets down a bit, opening her eyes enough to look up at him.

“Why are you crying, mochi? Bad dream?” he guesses and combs his fingers through her hair gently, until she calms down and leans into his touch, sniffling. “Shush, I’m here now. Everything will be okay” Chanyeol smiles at her a little and bends to kiss her forehead softly. She looks up at him with puppy eyes and pouty lips, still sniffling. He grabs a tissue from the box on her dresser table and tries to wipe her tiny nose –which is about a hundred times harder when he’s sleepy, as he finds out. When he deems his job decent, he coaxes her to let go of the iron grip she has on the railing and lie down again. She squirms against her pillow, expecting him to lift her –he can see it in her eyes–, but Chanyeol only tucks her in. He feels the need to explain after the look she gives him.

“Daddy Baek said you should always sleep in your crib and not in our arms. We shouldn’t spoil you too much…But I can stay here; is this okay?” he suggests, sitting down on the floor by her crib and folding his legs butterfly-style. She turns on her side to look at him through the bars and she slips one of her hands through them, clutching the air; she’s asking for his hand. Chanyeol lifts his hand and manages to fit his fingers through the bars so that she can hold him easily; her fingers curl around two of his, that’s as much as she can hold. Chanyeol smiles at the sight, the feeling making his stomach squirm. “How about I tell you a story and you sleep, bunny?” he says quietly, hoping a story will calm her enough to sleep without needing to hold his hand for safety. Lay blinks and gives a tiny nod. Chanyeol sighs wistfully.

“Once upon a time, in a kingdom not so far away, there lived a young prince” he starts in his storytelling voice, keeping it low and lulling. He has been toying with the idea of such a story for a while, but he’s still not sure where it’s taking him. He’ll just open his heart. “He was gentle and kind, with blond hair and dazzling eyesmiles. Across from him, there lived a poor musician. He was shy and his instruments were always silent; he was very lonely.

“One day, the beautiful prince ordered for twenty six white bunnies to be brought to the palace, to keep them as his beloved pets; but the men who brought them set them free in the palace garden, making it impossible for the prince to gather them all for a hug by himself. The poor musician helped the prince, and they became friends. The young prince even gave a small bunny to the musician as a gift, and the poor musician took care of their bunny as if it were the most precious thing in his life; he loved it and gave his heart to that little bunny.

“But soon after, the brave prince had to leave for a quest in foreign lands, and he would take all his bunnies with him. The musician decided to give him their bunny too, so that it would be happy with its brothers and sisters –even though it’d take away his heart. The fearsome prince roamed kingdoms unknown and the poor musician who was missing his heart picked up his silent instruments and started playing music, hoping that the young prince would hear his songs and remember him; or at least, find comfort in his life if he happened to be lonely.

“There was no news of the prince for a long time. After a long while later, the musician decided to move to the neighboring kingdom of gardens and sunshine; and lo, he found the prince! The prince was healthy and happy, which made the musician very grateful. Delighted and generous as ever, the prince let the poor musician reunite with their little bunny that had his heart, and he allowed him to take care of a new, wonderful silver bunny he had acquired” Chanyeol smiles at Lay, who yawns widely, her hold on his fingers already slackening. What a cute silver bunny. Chanyeol sighs longingly, feeling butterflies stirring in his chest.

“I don’t know how this story ends, mochi, I’m afraid. Things got complicated. The truth is, the poor musician has always loved the prince; but he never told him. He longed for him while he was away, but for all the songs he wrote for him, he could never write that one song, to tell him how much he loved him” he presses his lips in a sad line, his chest turning heavy in the way that’s become familiar over the past three years. It doesn’t just hurt anymore; it gets difficult to breathe by now, as if something is pressing down so hard that his heart gets nearly crushed and his lungs become paper thin. Chanyeol’s vision gets blurry and watery for a moment, but he blinks it away.

“I just love your daddy so much; is that okay? And my heart has grown so big.” He whispers to her in secret, just as her eyelids flutter close and she falls back to sleep. Chanyeol takes a shaky breath, his heart fluttering uncomfortably. What if he never gets to whisper those words in time? What if they stay a secret for so long that- Chanyeol bites down on his lip; don’t break down, don’t, not now, not here. Because right here, right now is a happy place to be. He gets to see Baekhyun’s smile every day and he is raising a beautiful, loving daughter with him. It helps Chanyeol hope that, somehow, they’ll be okay.

With a deep breath and wet eyes, he frees his fingers from her hold gently, kissing her tiny open palm and smiling at the sleeping angel sweetly. “Sleep well, mochi. Daddies love you”

---

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