It didn't take much effort on Chanyeol and Baekhyun's part to convince the three gentlemen they have been assigned to join in the rebellion. Turns out they have been thinking about it for a while now, but didn't know what to do about it. They especially liked Chanyeol, calling him honest and good-natured. They waved goodbye to Baekhyun and Chanyeol with a promise to meet again and help them with whatever they could, and the two skip away, feeling very accomplished.
"Well. That was easier than I thought," Chanyeol grins, and Baekhyun grins back at him. "Hey, you know what, I used to live in this level. There's a really good restaurant just a few blocks away. They have really good steak ribs and we --"
"Chanyeol, I don't think we should," Baekhyun interrupts, looking uneasy as he bites his lips.
"Come on, Baekhyun, just once! Consider it as a celebration for my first successful mission! My treat." He still has some of the money he had with him when Baekhyun and Jongin took him. When Baekhyun still doesn't look convinced, Chanyeol sighs. "Please? When was the last time you had meat? Or an actual, nice meal? It could be our secret date, no one has to know --"
Chanyeol stops, realizing his mistake and turning red. Baekhyun's eyebrows rise, and he looks thoroughly amused. "A date?"
"I -- I mean --" Chanyeol flails, mortified, but Baekhyun laughs, dragging him by his arm to the streets.
"Okay, this can be a date if you want to. Lead the way."
The restaurant is one Chanyeol and Luhan has visited before, and he half-hopes he'll bump into Luhan there. He doesn't. He's a little disappointed, still, but it's okay because Baekhyun is an awfully nice person to have dinner with. His eyes widen when their food comes, and he eyes the barbecued meat on the plate for a good full minute before devouring it. Chanyeol knows that he's a funny guy, but with a nice meal on the table in front of him, his playfulness goes up another notch. He makes Chanyeol laugh a lot with his stories, and could even make a childhood sob story that would have been sad in anybody else's hands funny.
It's been a nice night, and by their second glass of wine, Chanyeol finds himself helplessly attracted to this man.
But he also has something else to do. So when Baekhyun is full with food and laughter and almost sleepy in his seat, Chanyeol gets up and announces, "I need to go to the toilet."
Baekhyun nods and waves him off as he pours himself another glass of wine. Chanyeol walks away calmly, and when he sees that Baekhyun isn't watching, rushes outside.
Another reason why Chanyeol chose the restaurant is that because it's very close to Luhan's house. He sprints at full speed, disregarding the looks the people on the street send his way, and arrives at the front door in record time. His heart thumps wildly, not sure if it's because he just ran very quickly or because he's about to see his friends again. He raises his hand, and tentatively knocks.
"Coming!" he hears Luhan shout from the inside. He hears shuffling, muffled footsteps from the other side of the door. Luhan is probably wearing his worn-out slippers. Chanyeol has a sudden panic attack; he doesn't know how to greet Luhan, how to say sorry for disappearing, how to tell him everything that's happened all in about five minutes.
The door opens, and Luhan's face peeks out. "Yes, who --" He stops, face confused, before recognition flashes in his eyes. His mouth falls open in shock, and Chanyeol hesitantly lifts up a hand.
Luhan's mouth opens and closes like a fish, and Chanyeol tackles him into the hallway, embracing him fiercely. He buries his face to Luhan's shoulder; he still smells like nine-hour paperwork and clean shirts that Chanyeol misses so much, and he holds Luhan tighter to his chest, scrunching his eyes shut.
"Chanyeol?" Luhan whispers, disbelieving.
"It's me," Chanyeol says, feeling at peace at last. Luhan relaxes against him, but then tenses up again, and pushes him away roughly.
"Where the hell have you been!?" Luhan's expression is livid, and Chanyeol could practically see steam coming out of his ears. It's understandable. "No notes, nothing to assure me you're fine and suddenly you show up after, what, two, almost three months!?"
"I know, I'm sorry, I was abducted --"
"Abducted!?" Luhan shrieks.
"But it's alright! I swear it is!" Chanyeol tries to calm him down, but Luhan still looks like he's about to have a heart attack. "I'm with those people now, they're really nice, and what they're doing is a really good thing --"
"Are you sure this is not some kind of Stockholm Syndrome?" Luhan asks wearily, this time rubbing his temples.
"I'm sure!" Chanyeol says, a little offended. "Hey, do you know about the rebellion group that's planning to overthrow The Janus and The Archaia?"
Luhan's hands fall from his head and to his sides as he frowns at Chanyeol worriedly. I've... heard about them. Wait, Chanyeol, don't tell me you're with them!?"
Chanyeol's guilty expression is enough of an answer. Luhan closes his eyes, shoulders slumping. "Dear God..."
"Listen, Luhan, I don't have much time now, someone's waiting for me," Chanyeol says hurriedly. He's aware that, tipsy as Baekhyun was, he'll start wondering where Chanyeol is soon. "I'm fine, okay, there's no need to worry. And I'm actually doing something useful down there beyond The Fort. Also promise me you won't tell anyone about me, got it? This is really top secret. I shouldn't even be here, but I trust you."
Luhan sighs, but he nods understandingly. "If that's what you want. I just need to know you're safe."
"I am. And," Chanyeol hesitates, weighing between to tell Luhan about his power or not. He thinks, fuck it. Luhan is a good person. "Please don't freak out at what I'm about to show you.
He nods again and leans forward, interested now. Chanyeol takes a deep breath and blows into his fingers, and a small flame appears in the cup of his palms. He keeps blowing on it gently, until it grows, and covers the whole of his right hand. Luhan watches with amazement in his eyes, but Chanyeol can see that he's also terrified. He backs away a couple of steps into the living room, and Chanyeol grabs his wrist tightly, extinguishing the fire in his arm.
"No one knows about this, okay?" he warns, and Luhan opens his mouth to answer, but no sound comes out. Eventually he settles for a nod. "You're not seeing things. This is real. I can make fire out of nothing but my hands. It's pure science and The Janus and The Archaia has this power too, so we -- the rebel group -- need this too to be able to stand up to him."
Luhan wheezes, trying to find his voice. After a few frantic moments in which he gulps for air like a dying fish and clutching Chanyeol's shirt tightly, he says, "Just -- just be careful, please."
"I will," Chanyeol promises, squeezing Luhan's hand reassuringly before prying it off his clothes. "I have to go now, I'll come visit when I can!"
Luhan waves him away with a shaky smile, just before Chanyeol closes the door and sprints back to the restaurant where Baekhyun is waiting.
After that one time Minseok keeps sending Chanyeol to Capitolium on recruit missions. People seemed to be drawn to Chanyeol's sincerity and eagerness, and even though it's not a job as big as raids or guerrilla attacks, he's glad he could do his part for the team. It also mean he gets to see Luhan more often, and keep him updated on the rebellion project. Luhan seems very interested about it, but he's still reluctant to join or help out. Chanyeol understands; this is as dangerous as it could get, so he doesn't force Luhan into anything.
Sometimes he feels bad for betraying Minseok's trust on the information, but Luhan is a good person he can trust, and Chanyeol knows he'll keep everything Chanyeol's told him to himself.
Life in The Den is hectic, and Chanyeol barely has time to rest or relax, so it comes as a surprise when Baekhyun strolls into his room one evening, unannounced, saying that they should take a walk.
As they stroll through the quiet streets, for once Chanyeol finds the silence comfortable, serene even. There isn't the sound of crickets because there aren't any, and it's quite dark already, unlike Capitolium that's still bustling with life at this hour. There's only their footsteps, a little mismatched, and Chanyeol tries harder so that their steps fall together at the same time. Baekhyun rewards him with a laugh for his effort.
"It's kind of dark..." Baekhyun mutters to himself, and then he stops walking and cups his palm together. Chanyeol knows that Baekhyun is about to use his power, so he waits, excitedly shifting his weight from one foot to the other. The street they are on is empty, so it's pretty safe to use their powers here.
Baekhyun opens his palms and tiny balls of yellow light burst out, flies away into the night around them reminiscent of fireflies. Chanyeol gasps and laughs in delight, jumping to catch the 'fireflies', but they always dance out of his reach. He caught one, but because they're not real bugs, Chanyeol's hands close around nothing, and the light shines through his palm, seeps through the cracks between his fingers as if his hand is glowing. He opens his hand, and the ball of light escapes, flies away to gather around with the others.
That doesn't stop him from trying to catch the rest though. It's fun and refreshing to play and be childish like this once in a while, to get away from the responsibility and the uncertain world they live in, and enjoy himself. Baekhyun is standing some way away, watching him with a grin on his face.
After a while Chanyeol seems to realize that the lights are heading towards Baekhyun, and Chanyeol stops chasing them. He stares at Baekhyun, whose grin had softened to a smile, with the crown of fluttering lights flying above his head, and feels his chest go tight. Baekhyun beckons him over with a crooked finger, and Chanyeol immediately obeys, tottering over and then stopping in front of him.
He looks down at Baekhyun, who's almost a head shorter than him, but Chanyeol feels dwarfed by the look in his eyes. It's a very solemn kind of look, like he's seeing Chanyeol for the first time, carefully analyzing Chanyeol's expression and what they could possibly mean, what he could find there. It's disconcerting, but all thoughts of that disappears when Baekhyun says, very seriously, "I would quite like to kiss you right now."
Although his tone is serious, Baekhyun's lips twist as though he's holding back a smile, so Chanyeol grins very widely to fish one out of Baekhyun. It works, and he decides to beat Baekhyun in his game. Chanyeol leans down, and presses their lips together softly, startling him.
Baekhyun beats his chest for that, but doesn't pull away, and eventually relaxes into the kiss. Their lips move easily against each other, licking into each other's mouth languidly like they have all the time in the world. Chanyeol winds his arm around Baekhyun's waist to pull him flush against his chest, and Baekhyun makes a pleased little noise at the back of his throat. They continue kissing until Chanyeol could feel Baekhyun's knees shake from the lack of oxygen, and he pulls away, even though Baekhyun is still surging forward to kiss him again.
"Stop, stop." Chanyeol laughs, pushing Baekhyun's face away. "We gotta get back, Baekhyun, we can't do this out here, too many people could see --"
"So you wouldn't mind if we continue this in your room?" Baekhyun pauses from kissing down Chanyeol's neck, looking up at him suggestively. Chanyeol feels himself blush; his cheeks feels hot and he's pretty sure he's flushing down to his neck.
"I -- um, that is --" he flails awkwardly, and Baekhyun laughs, extinguishing the lights above their heads and pulling him away. Chanyeol hangs his head and lets himself be dragged, stumbling along in Baekhyun's wake.
Chanyeol wakes up with Baekhyun in his arms the next morning, his front pressed to Baekhyun's back, who's still snoozing softly. Baekhyun's skin is warm and smooth against his own, and he nuzzles his nose into Baekhyun's nape, smiling happily at the memory of the night before.
But the movement wakes Baekhyun, who takes a deep shuddering breath and exhales through his mouth, and Chanyeol knows he's awake. Baekhyun moves in the circle of his arms, turning to face him. His eyelids are still heavy with sleep, lips curled to a lazy smile, and there are pillow indents on his left cheek. Chanyeol could feel his insides melt at the sight.
"Good morning," he says as Chanyeol kisses his nose.
"Morning," Chanyeol grins back.
"What time is it?" Baekhyun stretches languidly, arches his back to him, and their bare stomachs rub against each other. Chanyeol draws back with a chuckle, ticklish, and squints at the clock on the cabinet.
"It's... almost eleven, I think," he says, and Baekhyun hums, snuggling closer into him. They fall silent again, nothing but the sound of their breathing, and Chanyeol starts to fall asleep once more.
But Baekhyun suddenly gasps and lifts his head from where they are tucked under his neck, and the back of his head collides with Chanyeol's chin painfully.
"Ow! What the fuck --" He can taste blood in his mouth. Fuck.
Baekhyun is already kicking the covers away from his legs and hurrying to find his clothes, muttering, 'damn it, damn it, damn it,' all over again. Chanyeol rubs his sore jaw as he flops back to the pillow, whining helplessly. "Where are you going? Come back to bed."
"I can't, I've got a mission. I wasn't exactly planning for last night to happen," Baekhyun says as he zips up his pants.
"Mission? With who?" Chanyeol asks as he watches Baekhyun look for his shirt. It's rumpled, and he frowns at it disapprovingly but puts it on anyway.
Chanyeol makes a small growling noise in the back of his throat. He can't help but feel a little twinge of jealousy towards the boy, despite knowing that there is nothing between him and Baekhyun. "Why do you spend so much time with him?" Chanyeol mumbles. It's stupid and irrational, especially after Baekhyun had already made clear that he wants Chanyeol too.
Baekhyun laughs lightly as he tucks in his shirt into his pants and buttons his sleeves. He still looks gorgeous, even with rumpled clothes and messy hair. "Chanyeol, he's like my little brother. And in case you haven't noticed, I've been spending more time with you nowadays. The kid needs me, and I need to be with him, and we work best together."
When Chanyeol still pouts and looks disheartened, Baekhyun sighs fondly and walks to the bed, leaning down to kiss him. It's short and sweet and makes Chanyeol feel slightly better, but the burn is still there.
"I'll be back before you know it." Baekhyun grins, bumping his nose to Chanyeol's before straightening up and waving as he walks out the door.
Chanyeol grins wide as Luhan watches him juggle five balls of fire with amazement in his eyes, mouth open wide in joy. He looks so young and happy; Chanyeol doesn't know if he's ever seen Luhan look like that before, and he feels elated that he could make his friend happy.
Chanyeol ends his little show by combining the balls of fire and then shaping it to a bird, that flies away from his hands before extinguishing a few feet above their heads. Luhan claps his hands hard and laughs with delight, so hard his palms start to turn red and Chanyeol worries his jaw might come off its hinges
When Luhan finally calms down, he tilts his head to smile softly at Chanyeol. He has that wise look on his face, and Chanyeol squirms in his seat.
"You're quiet today," he comments, and Chanyeol sighs. Of course Luhan would notice. "Is something the matter?"
"Nothing, I just..." Chanyeol thinks about Baekhyun and Zitao, together with the man they had been assigned to persuade. They were sent on a mission together today, the three of them, to recruit someone they've talked to before. It's a rather important mission, because this man is quite influential, as he lives on the third level. But he doesn't trust Chanyeol, having never seen him before, and would only talk with Baekhyun and Zitao. So here he is now, in Luhan's house again.
"Is this about Baekhyun?" Luhan asks softly. "Or, well, Zitao, more accurately."
Chanyeol pouts, hating having to tell Luhan of his problems like a teenage girl, but he doesn't like keeping it to himself either. So he nods, picking at his sleeves moodily. Luhan sighs, and pokes his cheeks with a smile of encouragement.
"It'll be okay," Luhan says. "He and Baekhyun are just brothers, remember?"
"I know," Chanyeol whines. He's tried telling himself the same thing so many times before, as had other people, and it's irrational to still be thinking like this. "It's weird because I don't care if Baekhyun is close to other people, but with Zitao..."
"Because he's especially close to Baekhyun." Luhan nods solemnly, then grins. "Well if you don't like him so much kick him in the butt! Show him that Baekhyun's yours!"
Chanyeol turns to him, scandalized. "I can't just kick him on the butt --"
"I was joking, for god's sake, Chanyeol!" Luhan laughs, the sound lovely as it rings through the room. "Now get out, didn't you say your friends will be back soon?"
He nods, and gets up from the couch to leave, but not before embracing Luhan tightly. He might be getting more missions up to Capitolium, but he still doesn't know the next time he'll get to meet Luhan again, and it's not every time he can sneak off from whoever his partner happen to be to visit him.
"I'm glad you're still keeping in touch, Chanyeol," Luhan says, relaying what Chanyeol is thinking. "I thought you'd be having too much fun running around and creating chaos everywhere that you'd soon forget about me."
Chanyeol makes a face that Luhan laughs at. "I won't forget you. You're my first real friend I ever had. It's the least I could do."
Luhan squeezes his shoulder firmly with a smile before seeing him out the door, telling him to take care.
He meets up with Baekhyun and Zitao at the entrance of the passage back to The Den. They look pleased with themselves, Zitao even holding Baekhyun's hand and swinging it back and forth. Chanyeol narrows his eyes at that, but says nothing.
"I'm guessing it went well?" he asks, reaching to cup the back of Baekhyun's head and bump his face into his chest, the latter shouting in protest at the gesture. Chanyeol grins and leads the way into the passage after checking that the coast is clear.
"He was great. He's our first, financially-useful ally," Baekhyun gushes. "From now on, all our work will be easier; it won't be so hard to get weapons anymore, we won't have to look through trash for necessities, and --"
"Okay, okay, slow down," Chanyeol laughs, and behind them, Zitao is laughing quietly as well. "I'm glad it was swell. Now let's focus on going home. I'm hungry."
It's the night of Chanyeol's first major mission, and everyone in The Den is celebrating the success. When Minseok told him about it last week, he thought that he'd mess up the operation; he was so nervous about the whole thing. He had never pointed a gun to someone before, let alone pull the trigger with the intention to kill, but once he was in the action with adrenaline pumping in his veins, he realized that he had to do it, or be killed himself.
It had been one of The Janus' parties again that they attacked. Held in one of the higher levels of Olympus, and after the rebellion group's terrorism on the parties before, it was heavily guarded with gun turrets and personnels alike. They had taken down the guards easily enough, but the mechanized, motion-sensor guns were harder to disable. Jongin had to sneak up on them and manually dismantle it before they could even get close to the mansion where the party was held.
It was pretty easy from then on. People scattered, screaming; they were certainly not expecting the attack. They'd even met some members of The Archaia. Chen, the weaponmaster, and an angel-faced man named Suho, who is The Janus' right hand man and the one who usually appears in The Janus' stead in public.
"They're extremely dangerous people, don't be fooled by their appearances." Baekhyun had explained breathlessly as they took cover behind an overturned marble table. "They make themselves look nice and innocent in front of the people of Olympus, but remember, they have powers too, like us."
Chanyeol feels a shiver pass down his spine when he and Suho met eyes for a split second. He was smiley and kind during the party, but now there is nothing but steely anger in his eyes. Chanyeol aims a few shots towards him, but he doesn't fight back, just coolly exits through a hidden door they didn't see before with Chen.
No matter, the mission was a success whether they got The Archaia or not. They've looted the mansion, showed The Janus and The Archaia and the whole of Olympus that they are a force to be reckoned with, that was all the mission was. They've distributed what they found fairly among the poor here and now all that's left is to enjoy the rest of the night with whatever's left for them; booze and cigarettes and decent food.
Chanyeol cranes his neck to look for Baekhyun, and finds him on the other side of the room, laughing with Zitao. Ever since they came back from the mission, Baekhyun stuck to Zitao like glue, constantly worrying over him because Zitao had taken a bullet on his right arm. It's not a life-threatening thing, but apparently Zitao had never been hit before.
Baekhyun had swatted Chanyeol away when he came to him earlier, whining for attention. It stung, and Chanyeol feels his blood boil even more now as he sees Zitao wrap his arms around Baekhyun's waist from the back, laughing into his neck.
They're both a little tipsy, and Chanyeol knows that alcohol can blur boundaries, can make people forget who they are and do things they wouldn't have done when sober. He's even heard that the things you do when drunk are the reflections of the unconscious mind.
On the other side of the room, Zitao starts kissing Baekhyun's cheek insistently and nuzzling his nose into Baekhyun's hair. Baekhyun isn't pulling away either, giggling instead and hunching his shoulders in mirth.
Chanyeol tears his eyes away and looks down at his bottle of beer, lips pressed together tightly and blood boiling in his veins. He and Baekhyun hadn't put a label on their relationship, but he thought it's obvious. They've been fucking every other night, and most of the time it's Baekhyun who came to him, smiling coyly and being enticing, and he thought -- he thought --
From the corner of his eyes, he sees Zitao peel himself away from Baekhyun, and Chanyeol looks up. He whispers something to Baekhyun's ear, and Baekhyun nods, before he heads out towards the back door.
He doesn't know why, but Chanyeol gets up and follows him.
The air is crisp and warm, albeit stagnant as always. It's quiet outside, like that first night he kissed Baekhyun. Zitao is some way away, smoking as he stares out to the distance. His dark eyes flick towards Chanyeol as he comes to stand next to him, but he says nothing.
"Why aren't you inside?" Chanyeol asks, and Zitao shrugs. A casual lift of his shoulders, that has him wincing afterwards because of the pull in his shoulders.
"I don't like smoking with a lot of people around. It makes me uncomfortable," he answers easily. His eyes flick to Chanyeol for a few seconds again, as if he's examining something interesting. "What about you?"
Chanyeol, too, answers with a shrug, and Zitao chuckles.
"I'm actually expecting you and Baekhyun-hyung to suck faces during this party, but you're not, surprisingly."
That makes Chanyeol angry again. He takes a deep breath to calm himself. "Well I'd like to but he was with you the whole time. You were practically smothering him."
Zitao stops with the cigarette halfway to his lips, looking at Chanyeol with his mouth open incredulously. His silence gives Chanyeol courage to speak his mind at last, spill everything that's on his mind.
"Do you know how annoying it is, to see you cling to him 24/7 like that? You're a grown man, take care of yourself, you don't need to be with him all the time! Maybe he's uncomfortable about it but he doesn't tell you so he doesn't hurt your feelings! He's too nice, and you're just milking it for all it's worth --"
"Stop!" Zitao shouts, horrified. "You know that's not true! He spent more time with you, lately, and if anything I should be the one saying all those things!"
It's too late to back away now, and Chanyeol doesn't think he wants to anyway. "I see you sometimes whining at him to bring you food or cigarette or whatever, when you could have taken them all yourself, do you know how pathetic that looks? No one tells my Baekhyun around --"
"Your Baekhyun," Zitao repeats, a little hysterically. "Baekhyun-hyung doesn't belong to you, or me, or to anyone. Is this what all of this is about, all your hate towards me all this time? Petty jealousy? Then you should know that there is nothing between us."
Chanyeol roars, anger threatening to burst out of him. The tips of his fingers tingle, and Zitao eyes his fingers warily; he knows that there are probably sparks of fire starting to appear there. "My point is get away from him! You have no right to --"
"I am disappointed, Park Chanyeol. I thought you were a better man than this," Zitao hisses, eyes narrowing. "Now calm down before you burn this place down."
Chanyeol throws his head back and laughs. He doesn't know what overcame him, but this extent of anger is exhilarating, and he feels almost light headed. He can feel flames starting to lick up his arm, and Zitao backs away. Chanyeol sneers.
"What's the matter? Scared, now?"
"Chanyeol, calm down right now, this isn't funny --"
"Well, I think it's pretty hilarious how the great Zitao who could stop and rewind time is cowering before a small fire right now, don't you agree?"
Something flashes in Zitao's eyes. Anger.
And then suddenly everything is back to five minutes ago, Chanyeol is walking out to stand beside Zitao, who is calmly smoking. He offers a stick to Chanyeol, and that's when Chanyeol realizes that Zitao's turned back time.
He growls and calls for his fire again, lashing out at Zitao straight away. Zitao manages to dodge it, but only just. The fabric of the shirt on his shoulder is singed, and he gives it a quick look before turning back to Chanyeol again.
Chanyeol sends a ball of fire hurtling towards him, and Zitao disappears from it's way, before reappearing some way to his left. Seems like he stopped the time, and moved out of the way while everything stays suspended in that second. Chanyeol growls, and Zitao lowers his body in a defensive stance.
They continue on until Zitao couldn't even use his power to rewind time anymore, it's taking too much energy. His breaths come in short gasps as he dodges another one of Chanyeol's fire whips with time stopping. Chanyeol had also taken out his gun and is now using two attacks at once, but it's proving to be difficult. Zitao is very good at battles indeed, although he's getting tired.
And then an idea strucks him. If Zitao can stop time to run to where the attack is not directed at, then give him nowhere to run.
Chanyeol laughs triumphantly as he kneels down and presses his palm to the ground. He's forgotten the whole point of the battle by now, so intent he is on defeating Zitao once and for all. His whole mind screams that he is dangerous, and will be a constant threat as long as he lives, and now, Chanyeol is ending that.
A wall of fire burst from the ground in a circle around Zitao, and the boy isn't quick enough to react, exhausted. The ring of flames is too high to jump over, he's completely surrounded.
Chanyeol straightens up and points the gun towards the boy standing in the middle, feeling nothing but anger surge inside him. Once Zitao is gone, he can feel safe, but --
From what? a little voice in his head says.
Chanyeol's finger hesitates on the trigger. Zitao is standing there looking at him expectantly, sweat from the flames rolling down his face. His eyes are hard and defiant, and it's him, who gives Chanyeol the final nudge.
"Do it, then," he hisses. "Do it, you coward."
Chanyeol's vision turns red.
"No!" A terrible, familiar voice in the distance.
He pulls the trigger. Twice. Thrice.
Chanyeol's not sure what happened afterwards, to be honest. Everything seems to blur, becomes disoriented, as Zitao's body crumples, crimson flowering in his chest, and the fire goes out. Chanyeol's gun falls out of his slack hand as he watches Zitao's wide eyes close for the last time, before his body hits the ground.
A piercing, horrific scream shattered the night. It's drawn out and anguished, and Chanyeol tears his eyes away from Zitao's unmoving form to look up, and see Baekhyun sprinting towards them. The look in his face is shocked and broken and disbelieving as he throws himself to the ground beside Zitao, shaking him furiously.
That's when the full weight of what just happened falls on Chanyeol. He killed Zitao.
He gasps, and stumbles back. Baekhyun is screaming Zitao's name, hands and clothes stained with Zitao's blood. Fat tears are rolling down his cheeks, and he cries out brokenly as he clutches Zitao's body to his chest.
Blood rushes in Chanyeol's ears; he feels dizzy, and he wishes he could sit down to try and sort everything out, but then Baekhyun turns to him, and chokes, "Why?"
His breath escapes him as Chanyeol backs away from those hurt, accusing eyes. Baekhyun's expression screams betrayal as he sobs, rocking back and forth and cradling Zitao's bloodied torso.
Chanyeol turns and runs.
The guards at the passage through Achilles' Fort let Chanyeol through easily, having recognised him straight away. They ask no questions, but looks at Chanyeol's wild expression strangely. If only they know what he had done.
He sprints to the elevators and hacks it up, hands shaking hard as the brass grills shut. The ride to the seventh level is excruciatingly long and slow, with nothing to distract him from his own thoughts. The memory of Zitao's bloody body returns to him, and he whimpers, stumbling back to lean on the walls as he scrunches his eyes shut.
Chanyeol had always been able to control his emotions well enough before, he doesn't even know what overcame him. Oh, if only Zitao is still alive; he could turn back time, and Chanyeol would have stopped himself from attacking him again.
The elevator finally arrives, and Capitolium is still awake, so loud and vibrant and different from beyond The Fort. But Chanyeol pays it no mind as he pushes, ducks, weaves between bodies to get to his destination.
He stops in front of Luhan's house and pounds at the door with his fist, still shaking all over. "Luhan!" he calls. He knocks hard again. "Luhan!"
He can hear hurried footsteps from the other side of the door, and forces himself to calm down again, because his fingertips are starting to tingle again. Luhan appears in the door, looking shocked to find Chanyeol there.
"Chanyeol," he gasps, taking in Chanyeol's distressed face. "What's wrong?"
Chanyeol pushes his way inside, and they don't even make it to the living room before Chanyeol spills everything on the hallway. His knees buckle and he falls to the floor as Luhan hurriedly closes the door, and sits cross legged in front of him.
It's horrible to recall what had happened; the memories of what he'd done sitting like a weight on his chest he can't get away from. He remembers Baekhyun's terrible cries, Zitao's eyes flashing for the last time before it closes, and the red of his blood that pools at his feet, the life draining away from him. All started by a silly little argument that escalated to something beyond their control.
"What am I going to do now, Luhan?" Chanyeol whispers brokenly. All this time he was telling his story, he daren't look up to his friend's face. He's so scared to see the disappointment and sadness he knows he'll find there. "I can't possibly face Minseok, or Baekhyun ever again. Oh god this is terrible, Luhan, can I stay here for a while?"
Luhan doesn't answer, and Chanyeol thinks he's probably frozen in shock. He doesn't blame him, but he really needs him to say something so Chanyeol gulps, and braves himself to look up.
To his surprise, Luhan is smiling. He's smiling at Chanyeol the way he's never seen him smile before; it makes Chanyeol feel like he's missed out on something, because there is certainly nothing funny about the situation.
"Thank you, Chanyeol!" Luhan says chirpily, getting up and skipping off to to the kitchen, leaving Chanyeol on the floor in the hallway, confused.
He gets up and follows him, to find that Luhan is happily making a cup of tea. Chanyeol stands in the doorway, mouth agape. Luhan hums as he drops two sugar cubes into his tea, and that's when Chanyeol jerks back into motion.
"Luhan, what do you mean, thank you?" he asks, head spinning. Luhan pauses from stirring his tea and looks up, smiling again, until his eyes disappear to half-moons.
For the first time ever, Chanyeol feels scared of Luhan.
"Why, thank you for disposing the one person I think would have ruined my power over the city, of course!"
There's a beat of silence. "...What?"
Luhan leans against the counter and sips his tea. He looks up at Chanyeol over the rim of his cup, eyes twinkling.
"Oh yes, I know all about Minseok and his little group of rebels," Luhan nods gravely, setting his cup down and crossing his hands in front of his chest. "They weren't a threat, so I let them be, you know? But then that boy Zitao got too powerful for his own good, and I worried. After all, The Janus sat at the Peak when Olympus was built, and he'll continue to sit at the Peak! And who's that? Me!"
Chanyeol feels his knees go weak, feel all the strength left in his body leave him. No, he refuses to believe it, Luhan is just playing with him. How could Luhan be The Janus? Kind, understanding, patient Luhan? The Luhan who had taken care of Chanyeol all this time, right from the beginning, and showed him a life he never knew -- "No. No, you can't be The Janus!"
Luhan tilts his head. "Oh? And why not?" When Chanyeol struggles with word, Luhan smiles, sinister, and leans forward. "You were my tool from the very beginning, you know that? Everything you did, everything you said, was dictated by me. I modified you, when you were still a fetus, to respond to my every command. Don't you realize it, that you can't seem to deny anything I ask of you, even if they were just subtle hints? How was your day, Chanyeol! Did something interesting happen in The Den today, Chanyeol! Kick him in the butt, Chanyeol!"
It feels like a bucket of ice is being dumped over Chanyeol's head. How could he not have realized it? And as much as he wants to deny it, refuse to believe it, he knows it's all true.
And is if that wasn't enough, Luhan continues, "I planned everything from the beginning, from that first party where the rebellion group attacked. I knew they were going to attack. And you have never existed before, Chanyeol," he whispers, pushing himself off the counter to stand right in front of Chanyeol, hands in his pockets. "I've kept you, all these years, waiting for a chance to use you. That plane accident never existed. You never had a life on the surface. Those were false memories that I planted in your head and all this time, you've been sleeping in a tank full of water in my laboratory."
With a loud cry, Chanyeol releases the fire he has been suppressing in his hand, and tries to get Luhan with it. Betrayed even feels too small of a word to explain how he feels. It's all a jumble of negative emotions all rolled into one, he can't even tell one feeling from the other. But most of all he feels hurt that everything in his life was a lie, every second of it, and it hurt too much he wants to just die.
Chanyeol stops, his arm freezing against his will. Luhan is still standing in front of him calmly, smiling as if all is swell in the world. All the affection and respect Chanyeol felt for this man vanishes to thin air as he growls, fights against the invisible bonds holding him back.
"Now put your arm down, and sit down on the stool," he commands, and Chanyeol finds his body obeying. "Good boy!" Luhan beams and pats his hair when he's done so, and Chanyeol's vision clouds red all over. He then bends down so that they're at eye-level, and looks into his eyes very seriously despite the fact that he's still smiling.
"You've been nothing but a good boy for me Chanyeol, and now I'm going to reward you! I'm going to free you from all this. Now I want you to take this knife," he puts a long kitchen knife he uses to cut up meat with into Chanyeol's hand. "And slit your throat."
The command made Chanyeol whimper, and all his courage leaves him. So this is it then. This all that he is, a mere tool in a power game he never wanted to take part in and that is what he will die as. He thinks of Baekhyun, whom he never got to apologise to. He thinks of Minseok, Jongin, Yixing, and Zitao. If only he had realised earlier. His hand moves towards his throat, and Luhan watches the knife come closer and closer, humming merrily to himself.
Suddenly he hears the front door burst open and panicked voices flood in, voices Chanyeol can recognize. There's Minseok and Yixing, and he thinks he can hear Jongin as well. Luhan's happy expression vanishes and it's replaced by one of anger. Luhan waves his arm and the large stove moves by itself and blocks the doorway.
Telekinesis, Chanyeol thinks, before Jongin pops into the room and attempts to knock Luhan back into the counter. Luhan sends the glass of the window shattering towards Jongin's direction, and he staggers back, covering his head.
They've finally managed to move the stove away and everyone bursts in, eyes directed to Chanyeol and the knife in his hand.
"Chanyeol, stop!" Baekhyun shouts, voice terrified. His eyes are bloodshot, obviously he only just stopped crying but tears have started falling down his face again. It's terrible to see, he never wanted to make Baekhyun sad.
"I'm sorry, Baekhyun," he says, voice choked. "But I can't, I just --"
"Somebody knock him out!" Minseok shouts as he dodges the things Luhan had started throwing at them. A scissor whizzes past his shoulder, only just missing him. "He's under Luhan's influence! He won't be able to stop until Luhan says so!"
The edge of the knife meets his skin, and Chanyeol can feel it beginning to sink in. The sharp sting in his neck makes him scrunch his eyes tightly, and he can hear through the din of the battle Baekhyun's anguished cry.
That's when something hard hits his head, and his senses fade to black.
The next time he wakes up, Chanyeol is back in his room in The Den. He blinks a couple of times, trying to regain his bearing. When he moves, he aches all over, like he's just been through a plane crash again.
No, there is no again, because that first plane crash never existed.
It hurt all over again to remember that, and Chanyeol presses his hand to his chest, wondering how he's still alive after all that.
Chanyeol turns to get up but stops when he sees that Baekhyun is sitting on the side of his bed, sleeping with his head in his arms. His face is peaceful and calm, but Chanyeol is once again flooded by a sense of panic. What if Luhan uses him again to kill Baekhyun this time? He couldn't let that happen.
"Baekhyun, wake up." Chanyeol shakes him lightly, and Baekhyun stirs, opening his eyes sleepily. Chanyeol wants to weep at how exhausted Baekhyun looks, at the dark shadows under his eyes and the paleness of his cheeks. He wants to kiss Baekhyun where it hurts, smooth out the frayed edges and make him feel better but he's not sure if he can because he's a broken man himself.
"Chanyeol?" Baekhyun mutters, yawning. "You're awake already?"
"Baekhyun, what are you doing here? Run, go away! Luhan might use me again to kill you and everyone!" he says almost hysterical with panic.
Baekhyun laughs, a tired laugh that grates at Chanyeol's ears. It's horrible to hear it. "Don't worry, after we got out of there, Yixing's restored all your control over your body. Your body is your own now. You're safe. And," he hesitates, but then smiles and traces his fingers over the scar on Chanyeol's neck. "Even if you were still under Luhan's control, I wouldn't leave you. I'd rather die by your hands than stumble through life alone. I've already lost one important person in my life, I don't want to lose another one."
Chanyeol feels emotion well up inside of him, and he tries to swallow it back, tries to stem the tears that are threatening to spill. "Baek, I'm sorry --"
"Ssh," Baekhyun whispers, putting a finger to his lips. "There is nothing to forgive. You weren't yourself."
"But still --"
Baekhyun surges forward and kisses him silent, and Chanyeol whimpers weakly in protest. He wants to push Baekhyun away and talk this over but he misses Baekhyun's lips on his so much, he figures it wouldn't hurt to put it off for a while.
Baekhyun kisses desperately, clutching on his shirt tightly as though he's afraid Chanyeol might disappear if he doesn't hold on tight enough. It makes Chanyeol's chest ache, but he doesn't tell Baekhyun to stop. Chanyeol flips them over and now Baekhyun is on his back, looking up at him with trusting eyes and a breathless smile.
"I'm still sorry," Chanyeol mutters as he trails kisses down Baekhyun's neck. "If I had Zitao's power and could turn back time, I would."
"No," Baekhyun says, keening softly as Chanyeol bites down on his collarbone. "If you had Zitao's power, you'd be dead. I don't want that." A shiver passes down Chanyeol's spine at that, realizing that Baekhyun is right. "So don't be sorry anymore, please."
He then pulls Chanyeol's face up and kisses him again, softer this time. Something warm slides down Chanyeol's cheek and he realizes that it's his own tears. All the hurt, betrayal, sadness and anger he's feeling finally burst the dam, and he pulls away from the kiss to bury his face in Baekhyun's chest and cry.
"Th-thank you. I'm so glad," he says in between hiccups as Baekhyun strokes his hair gently. "I'm so glad I met you."
Luhan had escaped that day, and losing Zitao has been a great loss to their side. It takes them months to rebuild their ranks and strategize over, and they all have to do it while mourning. Baekhyun always seems tired, but then again, everyone does. Minseok seems to age in a short span of time and Yixing spaces out even more, while Jongin often disappears for hours at a time, coming back silent with swollen eyes. He, too, had been especially close to Zitao.
But they are healing, all of them. Slowly, but surely. Luhan had slipped in and tore them from the inside out, and there's nothing more they could do but to take as a lesson to be learned.
"They were best friends, Minseok-hyung and Luhan," Baekhyun explains, as he and Chanyeol are laying curled up on the bed one one afternoon. "They grew up together, like Zitao and I did. They built Olympus together but, as Minseok-hyung said, Luhan became somewhat megalomaniac and that's when Minseok-hyung left. Luhan was devastated by that, and that's what made him unable to return to what he was. I think Minseok-hyung thinks that had he stayed, he would have been able to persuade Luhan to go back to the man he grew up with."
"That's really sad," Chanyeol mutters against Baekhyun's hair as he strokes Baekhyun's side gently.
"I think --" Baekhyun stops, hesitating at what he's about to say. Chanyeol encourages him with a nudge on his nose with his own. "I think they were in love, during one time. Or are in love. I don't know. When they met eyes that day when Luhan almost made you kill yourself... it felt weirdly intrusive to see them, even though they weren't doing anything but stare at each other."
"It makes sense, though," Chanyeol comments. "If Minseok-hyung's leaving changed Luhan so much, it's probable that it was because they were more than friends. If it was me though," Chanyeol tickles Baekhyun's stomach, and Baekhyun laughs, kicking his shins. "I'd never give up on you."
Baekhyun freezes in surprise. His eyes go comically wide and Chanyeol grins when he blushes and bows his head, a pleased little smile on his face.
It's the day.
The whole of Olympus has been in uproar for the last couple of days. There was unrest on every level, and The Archaia has been forced back to the Peak. Even so they are still a dangerous bunch, and they have to be very careful. Only Minseok, Baekhyun, Chanyeol, Yixing and Jongin stand a chance against The Archaia.
Now when they pass through the streets of Capitolium, people give way for them, shouting words of encouragement and treating them almost like heroes. But the battle is far from over. There's still Luhan and his group they must face.
Soon, Chanyeol thinks as he faces the crowd roaring for them, cheering them on. Soon we'll return this city to them.
The grills slide shut on the last elevator ride up to the Peak, where Luhan would certainly be waiting for them with a good fight. They begin to move up, and silence fills the tiny space. Minseok turns to the four of them, smiling exhaustedly, but that determined glint in his eyes is still present.
"Whatever happens up there," Minseok begins, and Chanyeol reaches for Baekhyun's hand. "We're going to give it our all, get it? We're going to fight until we can't get up anymore, and when we can't get up anymore, we're going to fight from the ground. Whatever happens, we're ending this together."
Chanyeol nods along with the others, just as determined, just as optimistic. It'll be a tough fight, but if they win, everything will be worth it. Baekhyun squeezes his hand, and Chanyeol kisses him once more, before pulling away to face whatever awaits them.
The elevator dings to stop.
a/n: to people who've made it this far and read all that thing up there, THANK YOU ;w; (long-ass notes and thank yous and explanations are posted here nyaaaa)