“All I can think is how I have absolutely no idea what to do with the chamber orchestra thing now. I would need a fifth member to play one more cello since I already got Sooyoung, Joohyun, Seungwan and Seulgi but I don't know...,” Jongdae maundered about work-related stuff, but Baekhyun could only listen to him with half-attentiveness since his head was spinning from too much alcohol.
He had never been a heavy drinker, owing to the fact that his profession as a pianist had required him to have responsibilities like waking up early without even a smallest sight of hangover, and he didn't particularly fancy the taste either. Not to mention, being almost 30 had made hangovers more and more unbearable, so it was usually better not to drink at all. Better safe than sorry.
But what meant usually was usually, indeed. They had gone to eat odeng in a makgeolli resturant, and as a matter of course, Jongdae and Minseok had demanded them to order too-too many bottles of makgeolli as well. Which Baekhyun already sensed had been a big mistake.
“I'm devastated, I don't know what to do. At some point I thought of asking Lee Jieun but then again I'm not full convinced she'd match with the rest of the group,” Jongade kept whining, obviously drunk in view of the way he was lisping.
“Maybe a small audition for a few possible candidates would do?” Minseok mulled over and turned to look at Baekhyun. “What do you think, Baekhyun?”
“Could we please talk about something else that has nothing to do with the teaching work?” Baekhyun slurred to interrupt, sounding slightly irked. Alcohol most definitely hadn't lightened up his mood and he didn't want to think about the academy stuff when he was feeling like that.
“Is this again because of that kid, that Park Chanyeol?” Minseok asked curiously and Baekhyun quieted down. Damn it.
He wanted to deny, but he'd also lie if he said he hadn't thought about the lanky student of his ever since the afternoon class had ended, and Chanyeol had flashed one more charming (Baekhyun hated to admit that to himself) smile at him while saying goodbyes.
They'd meet again tomorrow for the second class, and their institute was already breathing against Baekhyun's neck in order to get his student all ready for the competition where Chanyeol should play one piece. And with the current situation, considering the half-chaotic way of his playing Baekhyun had witnessed earlier that day, being able to master even one piece perfectly sounded something beyond the bounds of possibility. At least master the piece in a way that Baekhyun would be satisfied enough. Not to even mention they had only less than a month time for that.
He also maybe didn't want to admit that either, but he had noticed the ugly feeling, kind of a lump of bitterness he had inside. Baekhyun had always been the chosen one getting prepared for another competition, having the academy's high hopes on him. But that had always mainly boosted him trying and practicing even harder than normally.
And now there was no-one but Park Chanyeol taking his place. Park Chanyeol who played like he didn't care about the notes but rudely took his freedom to modify the piece in a way that wasn't appreciated. Park Chanyeol who had the talent but no resilience.
Baekhyun had told him to bring some kind of a metronome with him for the next class so they could fix the tempo problems, yet he was just about sure the bloke hadn't even registered properly what he had said. Chanyeol had kept rambling about his plans with his friend and even the way he had packed his bag had once again been all over the place, just like his playing was.
“He's the very last person I want to talk about right now,” Baekhyun sighed.
“Still thinking about shagging him?” Jongdae feigned a dramatic gasp. And way too loud for his own good, thank you very much.
“For crying out loud, how many times do I have to say that I'm not interested?”
“I saw him! He'd be a very good choice really since he doesn't seem that difficult to catch, seemed quite naive and over enthusiastic about everything. So he's like a good dinner served on a tray. And the guy is hot,” Jongdae continued with a self-confident tone like he was stating the theory about the Earth being round.
Baekhyun rolled his eyes.
Sometimes he honestly questioned his bad choices of friends. At that point he also was more than used to Jongdae's way of joking and never took them too seriously, but this ridiculous drunken talk was beyond new level. Although it had already started when Jongdae had been sober earlier that day.
“What the hell are you talking about? Why do you have to keep bringing that up?”
“Oh come on, Baekhyunnie! You haven't gotten laid for ages. And no offence, but it's starting to show. It's been four years since your last relationship so it'd be high time for you to let it go and have some fun finally. You've built that pianist ego of yours so thick that no-one can get through... but now you could change that! Maybe some hot young pianist could be the one breaking those walls. Or should I say... banging your walls.”
“You're disgusting and you've been watching too much k-drama again.”
“You gays are so weird,” Jongdae sighed in a melodramatic manner, shaking his head and obviously not taking notice of allegations as he only went on. “First your ex literally leaves you and then runs away, so that he could a month later move to America with his new 55-year-old lover... by the way, he must be an impotent already, if that helps you to feel any better. And then you're just miserable ever since and not willing to jump into bed with anyone, but rather die as a hermit.”
“The thing is, I'm not interested in cheeky kids. Or having sex with my student, goddammit.”
“Aww Baekhyun, but this is just a friendly piece of advice!” Jongdae teased and took another sip from his bowl. “I'm only trying to help you here.”
“Seriously. By giving me sexual advice?”
“Well for your information, at least I have a girlfriend and get to bust a nut on a regular basis!”
“Eww, I still feel kind of sorry for her. I wonder what made her so desperate since we all know your size doesn't really...,” Baekhyun slurred and avoided a playful punch Jongdae tried to aim against his arm. As much as Jongdae knew how to annoy him, Baekhyun had also his ways to give tit for tat.
“Enough, my innocent ears can't take this anymore,” Minseok complained in the middle as the other two kept jostling each other.
“You have something juicy to tell us, hyung? Or any comments about the topic?”
“Honestly, I'm going to leave soon if we keep talking about Jongdae's dick size any longer!”
Both Baekhyun and Jongdae bursted into giggles as Minseok's suffering was so real there with a desperate voice and an abhorred face. Yet, it didn't take long before Minseok joined their laughter and all of them toasted again, only to realize the makgeolli bottle was empty again so they ordered another round.
They did end up dropping the work talk and, most importantly, all the sex talk, which was mainly thanks to Jongdae suddenly passing out against the table while Baekhyun and Minseok were engaged into a conversation about Seoul's new popular hipster area filled with music cafés. Otherwise there had been no chance Jongdae would have given up that easily on the subject of Baekhyun's non-existent love life; especially when the bastard was frigging smashed like that.
After splitting the bill, and finally deciding to call it the night for all of them, it was already midnight. Minseok dragged drunken Jongdae with him outside, shoved him into a cab and said goodbyes to Baekhyun before hailing another taxi for himself. Instead following suit, Baekhyun decided to walk to the nearest subway station to catch the last train, weakly waddling from side to side.
Inside the air-conditioned subway car he observed other people around him on the sly while he rested his head against the cool metal bar at the end of the seat. Drunk people, old and young, coming from restaurants and heading home, most likely someone waiting for them there, but maybe not. The highlight of their mundane life was going to afterwork party or having a weekend off, until the duties called for them again and there was nothing but another similar day, another daily grind coming up again. Days were passing by.
All of a sudden, Baekhyun realized he was no different from these people any longer. His life was as boring and humdrum as the lives of these people. He wasn't a performing artist anymore, just another boring working person in a white-collar shirt among other similar workers.
A few years would pass by and Baekhyun would have forgotten his previous life.
It was only a few ten meters between the station entrance and Baekhyun's house, but his legs felt heavy as he walked through the front gate and climbed up the stairs to the third floor. He couldn't tell if his head and heart felt even heavier.
He fumbled with the door code machine but magically managed to get it right at the first try. When stepping inside the dark apartment he didn't bother turning on the lights. Baekhyun simply took off his shoes and tossed his coat and briefcase somewhere on the floor on the way to bedroom before collapsing on the unfinished bed and falling asleep instantly.
He ended up having nightmares.
In his dream the academy was writing about the lack of his talents on a local newspaper. They were breaking in and taking the Steinway away from him again, even though he tried his best to stop them, but he couldn't move his limbs. Suddenly Jongdae was shouting for help while Junmyeon was asking Baekhyun test questions for a quiz show on the national TV. Everyone was laughing at him, making fun of him, pitying him. And then there was also Park Chanyeol, smiling mockingly at him from the audience before Junmyeon asked him to step forward and take Baekhyun's place. Laughters in the background again.
Mozart's Requiem was playing in the cold basement, he was slowly losing the sense of touch from all fingers. The car crush, the traffic lights, the doctor appointments, the hospital room: all flashbacks coming back for him again, again and again.
I'm sorry, Baekhyun.
Why was his brother saying that? Stop it, go away. Why couldn't he run, why weren't his limbs moving?
We're sorry, Byun Baekhyun-ssi. The institute is thankful for everything you've done for us--
They weren't sorry. They didn't want him anymore.
Baekhyun, I feel sorry for you.
No. Stop it, Kyungsoo.
I'm sorry, Baekhyun. I really am.
No. Kibum wasn't sorry. He wanted to leave.
I am sorry.
No. Jongdae, go away.
Baekhyun woke up as his own panicked gasp startled him.
It took a few good seconds to calm himself down, and the horrible feeling of thirst and a throbbing headache forced him to sit up a little bit.
He automatically glanced at the clock on the nightstand, it was 3AM. Groaning, Baekhyun took a long sip from the water bottle he thankfully had left next to the bed and drank almost half of the bottle in one go. After that, he sloppily opened the first buttons of his dress shirt and pulled the blanket over himself, burying his face against the pillow.
This was Byun Baekhyun's life, nothing more and nothing less.
He woke up at 10AM for his phone alarm buzzing. And maybe it was a miracle but Baekhyun didn't feel as bad as he had predicted ten to one to happen, since gone was the headache he had suffered at night. He was feeling only a bit dizzy as he tiptoed into the shower.
The refreshing morning shower was welcomed, and after that, changing new clothes and drinking a big glass of cold water Baekhyun agreed to believe he had been quite lucky with no show of a massive killer hangover this time. Better not to make it a habit, though, because he was very aware of his usual limits. No weekly parties for him at this age.
Baekhyun hastily picked up his briefcase before rushing out through the door. He glanced over his shoulder, feeling slightly guilty for leaving his apartment messy like that again. After all, Kyungsoo had made him promise Baekhyun would take better care of every part of his life but maybe cleaning his apartment could still wait for its turn. It wasn't like he was spending there much time these days anywise.
The nightmare from last night was still more or less haunting him on the back of his head. It kept popping up more and more clearly in his mind as he was once again taking the oh-so-familiar Line 2 and sitting in a half-empty car. Subways had always been those places that made his mind wander. Before the accident he had controlled that by making himself busy: playing the pieces in his mind, tapping fingers against his knees so he could make use of every second even when he wasn't practicing. Everything related to piano had been the way to ignore his feelings, not to burst them out, whatever they might have been.
His thoughts were taken away from the past as his left hand started aching all of a sudden. Baekhyun could feel some tingle creeping into a whole arm area until his hand started shaking uncontrollably. Not now. Damn it.
All he could do was tuck the sleeve of his jacket to hide his trembling hand better, silently praying inside his head his stop to come as soon as possible. In a way, Baekhyun wanted to laugh at himself for being so pathetic and he jokingly added another reason not to drink; apparently alcohol didn't only bring him all unpleasant thoughts and insecurities he had tried his best to brush aside, but it seemed his fucked up hand also liked to act up then. And he most definitely didn't want random strangers to witness the latter one.
Baekhyun gritted his teeth together as the ache started becoming more and more intense but he said no word, showed no pain outside. He was the first one to exit the train as the voice announced them arriving at Seolleung station.
He kept his hands inside the pockets when he walked up the stairs as quick as possible from the subway tunnel outside where sunshine and warm wind greeted him. If Baekhyun would have paid more attention to the weather, he would have said it was mocking and poking fun at him.
At the institute he headed straight towards the classroom without paying a usual visit at the teachers' office. The atmosphere the silent empty classroom could offer felt like the best idea at the moment and he didn't want absolutely anyone from the academy to see him in such a weak state. The last thing he wanted to see was any kind of pity or fuss from other people, he wasn't in need for either one. But if he would face other people, the result would be that for sure because no-one really understood how it was. How Baekhyun was.
When inside the classroom, the ache had become so unbearable Baekhyun unstably managed to walk next to the grand piano and he immediately threw his briefcase on the bench. The sudden sharp pain forced him to place his still-quivering left hand over his abdomen and he rubbed the skin of the palm with his right hand, then pressed a little bit harder on the veins.
Baekhyun took a deep breath, the ache was noticeably worse than usually.
He tried his best to memorize a finger exercise the physiotherapist had suggested him to try out while using only one hand to dig out the medicine box from the briefcase. At that point, his left one was shaking and hurting so bad he had great difficulties to succeed with either task, so some of his belongings including a sheaf of notes and a power bank dropped on the floor.
Baekhyun managed to fish out a medicine case and open it, dropping a few pills on the floor, when the door was suddenly pushed opened.
“You see seonsaengnim, I can be on time! Even ahead of time!” Park Chanyeol sang out happily but he paralyzed in a second when he saw the sight - note papers, white pills and random stuff spread on the floor, Baekhyun half-crouched and looking like a frightened wounded animal.
It was like a still moment from a movie as they stared at each other, neither one of them uttering a word. Baekhyun wanted to shout him to go away, scream and tell him there was nothing to see, and he should wait outside the classroom, anything that would make him disappear and just go away. However, the stabbing pain was so intense he was gasping and it prevented words coming out. Baekhyun solely managed to shoot an angry slash pleading gaze at the tall pianist standing by the doorway.
Baekhyun swore he had never felt so pathetic during the time he had been alive, and even in the middle of the pain he could only think about the shame and the embarrassment how his new self-important student was witnessing such a humiliating moment of his life.
They continued staring at each other, which maybe didn't last that long for real but Baekhyun could feel his pride sinking within every single nano second passing by. Chanyeol opened his mouth and Baekhyun immediately knew that was it, he was expecting to hear jokes, mockery, pitying words, condoling sentences--
“I'm so early that I'll go and grab something from the cafeteria first,” Chanyeol simply said, with a very gentle and calm voice, and he made no gesture to start a fuss or call help. Then he simply backed up back to the corridor, pulling the door handle at the same time.
“You also want some coffee, seonsaengnim?” Chanyeol asked quickly over his shoulder before the door slammed shut. And with that he was gone.
Baekhyun blinked. He was so astonished he could do nothing but stare at the door for a great moment, expecting it to open in a few seconds again and the young pianist to appear just to say he had only been joking.
But no-one came in.
orangegreenlove, you're up!