"Promise me something," Jongdae flicks his cigarette butt away to sit as litter on an already filthy street. Baekhyun's gaze falters from Jongdae as he ceases to pay attention, mind wandering to the slabs of concrete creating the sidewalk they walk upon. He shouldn't be fixating on the way the embers continue to burn, red on grey with the fading late of late evening.
"You know I can't keep promises." Baekhyun mumbles, fingers tapping the brick of a building as they pass. He's so close he can feel it cold against his shoulder, but Baekhyun prefers walking along the edges of things taller than him. It makes him feel safe. If Baekhyun breathes through his lips he can still taste the smoke lingering in the air, among the smells of the city, of cars and industrialism and dirt. Baekhyun's never smoked but he knows the bitter and inviting taste of secondhand smoke enough to sometimes wonder if he should try.
"Can't?" Jongdae scoffs, readjusting Baekhyun's bag where it sits slung across his shoulders, giving Baekhyun a flippant kind of look. Why he insists on carrying his stuff, Baekhyun doesn't know. He's mentally ill, not physically damaged. "Or won't?"
Baekhyun doesn't answer, but the loudness of his breaths, still through his open mouth, betray his sudden anxiety. Jongdae doesn't understand art the way Baekhyun does, doesn't understand with his robotic movements and emotionless technical singing the part emotion plays in the creation of beauty. Baekhyun knows this is about the bottle that sits untouched in his bathroom, buried beneath the products he uses to keep himself as beautiful as his music.
The flickering that live in his lights had agreed, anyways.
"You just haven't been taking them and it's worrying Baekhyun," Jongdae frowns, a furrowing of his eyebrows that reminds Baekhyun of his reaction to the bitter cold of a winter wind. Baekhyun is Jongdae's winter even in the dusty heat of summer. "It's noticeable."
"I can't take them in the afternoon," Baekhyun isn't looking at Jongdae anymore, focusing his fingers on the exposed brick, tracing the trails of wear. Guilt bubbles up in his throat but he knows he must do this. "I can't practice with them. They make me numb."
Baekhyun stops walking briefly, licking his lips and taking a shaking breath. "I can't play if I can't feel."