Pairing/Focus: kyungsoo/chanyeol, baekhyun/jongdae
Warnings: drunk but consensual fooling around, bodily injury
Length: 23500 words
Summary: snapshots from a summer on the road. kyungsoo keeps kissing chanyeol and chanyeol's not sure what that means, but he knows he likes it a lot. warped tour au.
houston, texas. june 14.
Load-in starts bright and early at 7:00 the first morning of the Warped Tour. It doesn't seem so bad, but that's probably just the excitement keeping him from curling up in his bunk to catch a couple more hours of sleep. Kyungsoo appears just as the last guitar makes it off the trailer with a cardboard cup of gas station coffee, looking like he didn't sleep a wink last night, either.
"Got one for me?" Chanyeol teases, wiping the sweat from his forehead. They're on one of the smaller stages today, the noon time slot. Chanyeol prefers going early in the day—he gets to take his time unloading, doesn't have to rush to load the trailer after the set's over, and then he's got the rest of the day to do as he pleases until bus call. Perfect gig, really. Or as close to perfect as a summer-long commitment can be.
"Here, finish it," Kyungsoo says, holding it out. "I'm shaking enough without it. Everything make it in one piece?"
"Just need to re-string Yixing's acoustic and we're good to go." Chanyeol accepts the coffee—still warm—and chugs it, grateful for the caffeine boost. "Are you really nervous?"
"This is the first time we've done the whole Tour, start to finish. I'm just excited."
Chanyeol shades his eyes from the sun and looks at Kyungsoo, whose perpetually-deadpan expression doesn't betray any excitement to speak of. He's dressed in his usual pair of black skinny jeans and a black long-sleeved shirt. Black sneakers, black cap. He's a studded belt away from becoming a Hot Topic employee. Or a set of bongos away from being a beatnik, whichever's closest at hand. Probably the belt, though, given the demographic. "You're going to get heat stroke dressed like that," Chanyeol says, hiding a smile into the plastic lid of his coffee. "You should change."
"I'm fine," Kyungsoo says, checking the time on his phone display. "Alright, I'm going to go see if Sehun has the merch set up and ready. Gates open in an hour."
"Is Baekhyun awake yet?"
Kyungsoo shoots him a withering look. "You really need to ask?"
"Need help with that?"
"No. If he's not up by the time I get back, he's going to wish he never went to bed last night," Kyungsoo says grimly, although there's a devilish twinkle in his eye that nearly makes Chanyeol feel bad for Baekhyun. Kyungsoo's a great manager—disciplined, organized, calm in the face of a panicked situation. And he tolerates Baekhyun's shenanigans with minimal protest, so it's only fair that Kyungsoo gets to even the score every once in a while.
"Don't hit him too hard. It'll be a long summer without a lead singer."
san antonio, texas. june 14.
The thermostat says it's 90° today. Chanyeol feels it, the stifling air of the trailers during load-in, the heaviness of the air backstage before someone's smart enough to go find a box fan to try and get some air circulating to keep everyone breathing and on their feet. The guitars won't hold their tuning in all that heat, either, no matter how many times Yixing kept coming offstage to swap out for something else, hands waving frantically to signal that it's gone flat again, man.
Afterwards, he's exhausted. Soaked through his t-shirt and stinking like sweat from trying to play instrument Tetris in the trailer with the gear. He wants a shower. Desperately. Too bad they're two days from a night's stay in a hotel, and although the free-standing shower rigged to the back of the bus is tempting... he's really not sure where the water's coming from, and he's not in the mood to be stripped naked in front of everyone quite so soon.
He detours to the merch tent on his way back to the bus instead and meets up with Kyungsoo, who's sitting with Sehun and helping him inventory a huge, pink plastic tub full of the band's two CDs. Sehun's thumbing through the stack of shrink-wrapped jewel cases but his attention is clearly elsewhere, eyes cast over the row of tents and beyond, where someone's about to take their turn on the skate ramp.
Chanyeol sits down in the grass next to Kyungsoo's folding chair and sighs loudly. "Fuck," he mutters. "It's so fucking hot." When he looks up, Kyungsoo's still flicking through CDs, counting under his breath, but he switches to counting one-handed so he can muss his fingers through Chanyeol's hair. He's in his customary all-black get-up, although today he's swapped out the long-sleeved shirt for a t-shirt with the sleeves rolled into cuffs, so he's obviously feeling the heat, too.
"Forty-eight. Water's in the cooler under the table," he says after a minute. "I thought we had more copies of XOXO than this. Sehun? Where's the other crate?"
Chanyeol crawls forward and rolls the lid of the cooler up. He takes two water bottles out, hands one up to Kyungsoo and puts the second one at the nape of his own neck. There's a moment where he's pretty convinced he just ascended, but then there's condensation dribbling down his spine and Kyungsoo's leaning forward to smack Sehun upside the head.
"Ow, shit! What?" Sehun demands, whipping around. His elbow misses Chanyeol's forehead by millimeters, and Chanyeol reaches out to shove him gently in retaliation.
"I said, where are the other copies of the first CD?" Kyungsoo says patiently. The bottle's seal breaks with a loud zip. He tips his head back and empties a little water in his mouth, careful not to put his lips on the rim, even though it's a fresh bottle of water.
Sehun looks sheepish. "Well."
"We hardly sell any of them, so I figured this would be enough for today and I could leave the rest in the trailer. They're so heavy—"
Kyungsoo stops mid-waterfall, water dribbling messily down his chin, and pinches Sehun in the side, exactly where the entire band knows he's the most ticklish. Sehun flails and clubs his knee on the underside of the table in his haste to get out of Kyungsoo's reach.
("It's useful to know the weak spots of all your employees," Kyungsoo'd told Chanyeol once, "just in case," and ever since Chanyeol's been relentlessly vigilant about not fucking up in front of him because he knows Kyungsoo will go straight for his neck.)
"Ow! Come on, that's not fair," Sehun says, rubbing the wounded joint with a sullen expression on his face.
"Fair? Chanyeol does all the gear before and after every show by himself. You have to carry—"
"Two boxes of CDs—four tubs of t-shirts, a tub full of sweatshirts, these fucking things." Sehun holds up a box of cheap-looking black beanies with the band's name—fistful of assholes— embroidered on them in white block letters. One of Baekhyun's ideas for merchandise, if it wasn't painfully obvious. "And—a box of pins and stickers and shit. Plus the dolly and the tent and the tables—"
"—you realize that's the fucking point, right? Like, that's your job. That's all you have to do, and then you get to sit here all day—"
"Yeah, in this chair, which has been eating my ass—"
"Who's eating your ass? Looks like we arrived just in time for the party."
Chanyeol looks up as Baekhyun's shadow falls on him. He looks like he managed to sweet-talk someone into letting him use a shower. Chanyeol's momentarily overwhelmed by the cloud of Old Spice body wash and whatever the fuck else, some perfumed shampoo marketed to the ladies. Hair's perfectly styled to cover his right eye, pair of sunglasses hanging from the collar of his pristine white t-shirt. His jeans don't even have grass stains on them. He looks exactly like he's not trying at all, and that almost makes it worse. Vain motherfucker.
He's got his best friend Jongdae in tow. Jongdae's the lead singer of the new electro-rock group Life's Unfair and the Why Mes. They're having a great summer, thanks to a boost in popularity after one of their songs was featured on an episode of Grey's Anatomy. He doesn't look like he came from the same mold as most of the pale, lanky musician types milling around the Tour, with his neatly coiffed hair, and muscled arms that suggest he spends a lot of time at the gym. Tight jeans and a black tank top that reveals an elaborately-drawn dinosaur tattoo on his right shoulder. A pair of matching gauged silver earrings. He's a lot smilier, too.
Baekhyun and Jongdae have known each other for years and Chanyeol still can't quite pinpoint the nature of their relationship. They're always needling at one another, talking shit about each other's vocal and songwriting abilities, but there was that one split show at a club in Seattle where Chanyeol had gone into the green room for something and found them dry humping on the couch, Jongdae in between Baekhyun's legs. He looks for some sort of hidden meaning in every interaction they have, now—trying to parse it out somehow—but really, they're an enigma.
"Kyungsoo," Jongdae greets, flashing him an easy smile. "How's it been?" His eyes slide to Chanyeol, cheery grin still stretched across his face. "Chanyeol! Good to see you, too. Been a while. Why are you still working for this asshole?" He jerks his thumb at Baekhyun and steps aside just in time to dodge a blow.
"Stop trying to steal my techie," Kyungsoo says. "You want one of my employees, take this joker."
“Not a joker,” Sehun mutters, scowling, and turns his back on them to dig through a tub of t-shirts, trying to look busy so he can avoid any more of Kyungsoo's scorn.
"We've already got a pain-in-the-ass merch guy. Tao's exactly the same." Jongdae laughs. “But if you ever need a job, Chanyeol—"
"Hey, is that your sister?" Baekhyun interrupts Jongdae to point across his face and down the row of tents. He can only be talking to Chanyeol—his sister, Yura, works for Alternative Press as a journalist. She's been assigned to work summer blog coverage for the Tour and help out at the tent when she's not catching a show or sitting down with a band. Chanyeol actually hasn't seen her since the Tour began.
He gets to his feet and peers out. It's her, alright—lanyard around her neck, hair pulled up off her face. She's the spitting image of Chanyeol. There's such a strong family resemblance that they're often mistaken for twins, even though she's got three years on him.
She sees Baekhyun and Jongdae before she sees Chanyeol. "Byun!" she yells, voice an impressive alto that booms across the field. "What was that set this morning? Were you asleep? My grandma could've done better, and she's been dead for ten years."
"What set? Shit. Did they let my doppelgänger onstage again?" Baekhyun teases. "I'm just here to get a tan."
"Hey. Reporters don't get to talk to the talent without my permission," Kyungsoo says, a rare grin splitting his mouth wide. Yura looks around with exaggerated shock.
"Talent? Where? I don't see any." She spots Chanyeol, then, and smiles. "Baby bro. Didn't see you hiding down there. I take it all back."
"Ah, the Park siblings," Baekhyun intones. "They're tall, they're beautiful, they're taking the world by storm."
"Good to see you too, Baekhyun," she says. He slings a friendly arm around her shoulders and pulls her close for a hug. Even though she's only wearing a pair of red Chucks—impressively immaculate, considering her morning spent in the mosh pits—it's still a little bit of a stretch for him. She actually has to bow her head when she kisses him on the cheek.
"I see why you like hanging out with these guys," Yura says to Chanyeol, looping her other arm around Jongdae's waist. "I feel like a giant. It's so cool. Your own little gang of hobbits."
Kyungsoo's normally the first one to retaliate an insult to his height with a biting comment, but he's oddly silent, smiling at the grass like he's—shy? embarrassed? Something's off. Chanyeol puts his hand on Kyungsoo's shoulder and squeezes, hoping Kyungsoo can feel the question mark in his fingers.
"I've got to go talk to Ken," Kyungsoo announces suddenly, getting to his feet. "Bus call stuff. I'll be back. Behave—if that's possible. And Sehun. Try to sell some shit, please, or I'm going to fire you and give Yura your job, instead."
"What makes you think you can afford me?" Yura bites back, eyes twinkling. Kyungsoo laughs appreciatively, nodding to himself as he goes.
dallas, texas. june 15.
"You think they're fucking?" Baekhyun asks for the nth time since he'd arrived backstage for soundcheck. He's wearing an impressive amount of eyeliner for someone who literally just rolled out of his bunk twenty minutes ago, and even though it's not even nine o'clock in the morning yet, he's practically vibrating with energy. This is his wheelhouse, though. He's a natural-born performer. The stage is his place of business, and he doesn't ever give anything less than two hundred percent. Chanyeol's seen him sick as a dog, pale and sweaty with fever, his voice eroded by a sore throat that won't quit—and then he gets out there and the audience cheers and he's a whole new man. It's like he's feeding on their life force, or something.
Unfortunately, his enthusiasm sometimes comes off as—well. Baekhyun Byun is a shit.
"That's my sister you're talking about," Chanyeol says, eyebrows drawing together into a deep frown.
"Yeah. I know." Baekhyun flexes his fingers a few times, trying to loosen them up before he has to go out and plunk out a few chords on the keyboard to make sure it's been hooked up into the soundboard alright. "You act like we didn't grow up together. She's practically my sister. I know I think of her that way."
Chanyeol almost feels guilty about this. Baekhyun's technically right. Growing up back in the old neighborhood, the Byuns and the Parks had adjacent yards with no fence in between—big enough for the four kids to play soccer, build forts, and find plenty of trouble. Chanyeol even thinks of Baekbeom as something of an older brother, even though it's been years since he's seen him. There's a long pause, filled with the sound of amp feedback and cranky techs shouting at each other to get out of the fucking way.
"But really, though," Baekhyun says, breaking the silence between them. "Your sister and Kyungsoo."
Chanyeol's irritation flares again. "Are just friends."
Chanyeol pinches the bridge of his nose.
albuquerque, new mexico. june 17
Bus call's not until 1:00AM, so after the trailer's packed up for the night's drive and the dinner things have been cleared away, Chanyeol pulls out his acoustic guitar and sits out behind the bus, running his fingers along the strings, humming to himself.
Kyungsoo comes out and sits next to him. "Got a light?" he asks, cigarette already between his lips. Chanyeol shakes his head. Doesn't smoke—can't stand the taste of it or the inevitable sore throat the next morning. Kyungsoo moves to stand but then Sehun and Baekhyun are there. Sehun's already halfway through his cigarette, and he slips him a red plastic Bic so Kyungsoo doesn't have to go anywhere after all.
They get on the subject of music—like it's not enough that they've spent all week living and breathing it, they've got to fill their downtime with it, too. Yixing and Lu Han arrive and start rehashing the old vinyl versus digital debate, which is going to drive Chanyeol fucking crazy if that's all they talk about for the rest of the summer. Jongdae shows up at some point with a couple six packs of beer and passes them out to anyone who wants one. Chanyeol's amazed to find the bottles are actually cold. He takes Kyungsoo's out of his hand and uses his capo as a makeshift bottle opener.
"Cheers." Kyungsoo taps the neck of his bottle against Chanyeol's in thanks.
"You know," Baekhyun says without making eye contact, more interested watching the tip of Jongdae's cigarette glow orange in the settling twilight than looking at Chanyeol. "You've never let us hear any of your stuff. If it's good, maybe we can work some of it into the setlist."
"Nah, it's cool," Chanyeol says, suddenly shy. The tips of his ears burn red with self-consciousness. He's been tinkering around with a few things but it feels too much like weird nepotism to give his demo to the people he works with. They're his friends. And it feels sort of wrong, somehow, to use them as a leg up. "Besides, I didn't go to music school, I can't even read it. I'm just sort of making it up, it's not really any good—"
"You think everyone here has a degree?" Jongdae asks, gesturing across the field of parked buses. "Hardly anyone does. Hardly any of these fools even graduated from high school."
"You barely did, and look at you now!" Baekhyun says, taking a long swig of beer. Jongdae elbows him in the side and the two break away from the main conversation to tussle.
Yixing stands up to lean forward and pat Chanyeol on the shoulder. "I don't think musical talent can be defined by a letter grade," he says, smiling gently. "There's a lot more to it than that."
Much, much later, once they're back on the road, Chanyeol sits in his bunk with his laptop out, balanced precariously on one knee. It's late, and the lights in the bus are off, but the eerie blue glow of the laptop screen is easy enough to spot leaking through the edges of the drawn curtain. Chanyeol thinks he's the only one awake anymore, but then Kyungsoo pokes his head in and holds out his hand, waiting for Chanyeol to help him up. Chanyeol, of course, obliges.
"I didn't know you were awake," he says, moving over to make room for Kyungsoo, who folds his legs underneath him and sits, hands on his knees. He's still in his clothes from earlier.
"What are you doing?" he asks. The bus lurches beneath them to avoid a pothole. Both Chanyeol and Kyungsoo reach out for the laptop at the same time. Chanyeol's grip on it is strong, but Kyungsoo keeps his hand braced against the lid just the same, just in case.
"Just messing around," Chanyeol says, minimizing ProTools even though it's too late.
"Composing again," Kyungsoo says, and he's only half-asking, because he knows that's what Chanyeol's usually up to at this hour when he's tucked away by himself with a large pair of studio headphones around his neck. "Let me hear what you've got."
"It's not finished."
"I don't care. Let me hear anyway."
Chanyeol hesitates, then holds the headphones open and gently slips them over Kyungsoo's ears. Kyungsoo closes his eyes and puts his hands over the headphones to hold them close, help him concentrate on what he's listening to. Chanyeol can't even breathe until it's over and Kyungsoo's looking at him again, soft smile pressing into the corners of his mouth as he pulls off the headphones.
"It sounds good," he says, and Chanyeol exhales in relief. "You've really never let Baekhyun listen to any of your stuff?"
"No," says Chanyeol. "Just you."
Kyungsoo shakes his head. "That's stupid. He's asking you—they'll put it on the next record, Chanyeol. Your stuff's good enough—as good as Yixing's, maybe better, if I'm being completely honest with you. That's a huge break—"
"I know," Chanyeol says quickly, holding up his hand. "It's a nice offer. I don't know, though. I guess when I wrote these, I was hoping. I don't know. That it'd be me. Out on my own." He mumbles the last part, stringing the words together into one long slur he directs at the curtain instead of at Kyungsoo.
Kyungsoo watches him for a moment, eyes wide and shining in the dark. "Oh," he says, voice suddenly soft. "Yeah, okay. I get that."
mesa, arizona. june 18.
There's a select group of diehard Assholes fans from way back who have been going to shows since the early days, when they were opening for bigger bands and performing in exchange for free beer instead of cold hard cash. They're the familiar faces in the crowd, the ones who yell Chanyeol's name when he comes onstage during soundcheck to make sure Yixing's pedal setup is working properly. He grins and tosses a fistful of picks into the audience, inciting a minor scuffle at the barricade.
"You love doing that," Kyungsoo remarks, smiling, when Chanyeol finally comes backstage. "You're so easy. Just because they know your name."
Chanyeol lifts a shoulder to his ear. "What can I say? They're my people."
Kyungsoo shoves him into a nearby amp and dodges the rebound, laughing.
las vegas, nevada. june 19.
They get into Vegas early. Baekhyun's supremely disappointed that they're not allowed to go hit up the casinos after their set and keeps whining about it to anyone who will listen. Chanyeol's relieved when Baekhyun stops bugging him and latches onto Yixing instead—he's got four guitars to restring, and Yixing's a professional at patiently pretending to listen to Baekhyun's complaints without actually catching a word.
Kyungsoo looks fucking wiped. The dark circles under his slow-blinking eyes make him look even more murderous than usual. He keeps rubbing at his contacts because they're too dry. Being in the middle of the desert really isn't helping. Chanyeol can't hook him up with any eye drops, but he does sneak off to the food truck when he has a minute and brings back a couple cans of Red Bull, still frosty and wet with condensation.
"For you," he says, tucking the extra can into Kyungsoo's pocket. "Drink. Wake up."
Kyungsoo wrinkles his nose. "I hate this shit."
"Drink it anyway," Chanyeol says, popping the tab and pushing the can into Kyungsoo's hand. Kyungsoo's expression becomes even more scornful, which is impressive, considering how disgusted he looked before. He glances at the can, then back at Chanyeol's face.
"Did you wash your hands?"
"Today, you mean?" Chanyeol asks, looking at his grubby palms. They've certainly seen better days, but it's hard to tell how much of the dirt is just permanently ground into his skin from hauling amps on and off the trailer.
Kyungsoo scoffs and goes to tip the can upside down, but Chanyeol rescues it, wipes it off with the edge of his (mostly clean) shirt and offers it back to him. Kyungsoo's lip curls reluctantly, but he drinks it anyway.
pomona, california. june 20.
Yura comes to watch the Assholes from backstage with Chanyeol tonight. She keeps tweeting pictures to her official AP account, including a selca with Chanyeol after he comes offstage from switching guitars out with Yixing for the last half of the set. He hasn't showered in three days and he's dripping with sweat. It's gotta be pushing a hundred degrees today in the direct sunlight and there's barely any air circulating backstage at all. He knows he smells terrible.
Yura, on the other hand, looks and smells like she's managed to take a shower sometime within the past twelve hours. Her makeup's barely smudged by sweat. She flashes the phone screen at him quickly after she takes the picture, long enough for him to realize he's got dirt on one cheek and his hair is so greasy underneath his snapback that it's actually holding the hat on. Next to that mess, she... looks like a model. She probably planned it that way.
She writes, "Baby bro~!" underneath it and sends it off anyway.
"I can't believe you did that," he grumbles. Onstage, Baekhyun yells something into the microphone and the crowd responds with a whooping cheer. Yura joins in, shrieking so loudly that Chanyeol has to put his hands over his ears to avoid going temporarily deaf.
"Did what?" she asks innocently when the ruckus dies down and Lu Han starts counting off for the next song. "Is this about your vanity again?"
He crosses his arms in front of his chest. "Maybe."
"Aw. Don't worry," she says. "You've just made all the teenage girls who follow me because I'm your sister very, very happy."
"Thanks," he says dryly. "You're a pal."
Undeterred by his sulking, she grabs his wrist and pulls his arm out straight in front of her so she can get a better look at the tattoo sleeve he's been working on since he turned eighteen.
"You've added to it since the last time I saw it," she says, hand smoothing up the large, elaborately-drawn phoenix on his forearm. The tail winds up his arm to where it tapers off in a flaming bass clef wrapped around his elbow. Beyond that, more music imagery he's been collecting here and there over the years: an old radio microphone, a pair of headphones, the black and white pattern of a keyboard wrapped around his bicep. Obediently, he rolls his shoulder so she can see the curl of ink on the inside of his arm to where it disappears inside his shirt. The piece has expanded onto his chest now.
"Mom's going to kill you, you know," Yura says fondly, patting the ink winding up his wrist. He knows she's got some tattoos of her own. Delicate ones, though, and all easily hidden during family visits, like that flower on her ankle she'd gotten in college. He knows there's a treble clef on her left hip. Her newest tattoo, done by some hotshot in Indianapolis, is a large black and white sketch of a kneeling girl with a fairy cupped in her hands that stretches across the right side of her rib cage. It's beautiful. It's also pretty fucking huge. If anyone should be worried about being murdered by their mother, it's probably Yura.
He shrugs. "They gave up on trying to stop me from getting any more a long time ago. Mom's made her peace."
Kyungsoo comes ambling up behind them, half-finished bottle of water in his hand. "Sehun ran out of singles and nobody wanted to make change," he says. "Can't believe I had to find someone's car to borrow to go get change. Aren't we supposed to help each other out?"
Chanyeol pulls a face. "It was like this last year, too."
"I know. It was shit then, too." He looks up. "How's the set?"
"Good," Chanyeol assures him. "Baekhyun's been on his best behavior. Nothing's blown or snapped or broken."
Kyungsoo nods. "Well, they've got another song left. There's still time for them to fuck something up."
Chanyeol slings a sympathetic arm around Kyungsoo's narrow shoulders. He's obviously having one of those glass-half-empty days, and the heat's already making everyone testier than usual. Better to just let him get it out all at once instead of trying to tell him to calm down. Telling Kyungsoo not to take something so seriously almost always results in Kyungsoo redirecting his fury on you.
"Kyungsoo, you should get a tattoo," Yura says. He raises an eyebrow at her, scandalized at the suggestion. He shrugs off Chanyeol's arm.
"You're kidding, right?"
"It'd be hot. A neckpiece, maybe," she says, outlining the column of his throat with her index finger. Kyungsoo swallows hard, cheeks tinged red. Chanyeol pictures it for half a second and then has to stop because it does sound pretty hot, but it's not any of his business.
"Not my neck," Kyungsoo says. "Needles—no."
"What do you think, Chanyeol?" Yura asks.
Chanyeol does his best to sound noncommittal. "Whatever he wants."
"I think you'd look really good," Yura insists. On stage, Lu Han's hitting everything on his drum kit as hard as he can, one descending, cacophonous roll, signaling that the set's over. Yura glances at her phone. "Alright. I'm going to try and head over to catch some of the bands at the main stage."
Kyungsoo watches her as she goes, fingers stroking absently at the skin of his throat.
mountain view, california. june 21.
It's late when it happens the first time. Long past when they'd normally be in bed and on the road, but the California shows are all close enough together that round-up doesn't happen until one in the morning. Lu Han procures an entire case of decent beer from only god knows where and brings it out to the circle of lawn chairs out behind the bus. Everyone's been drinking when Chanyeol hears shouting in the distance and the rumble of a bus engine turning over. It's time to leave.
Yixing starts methodically packing up the chairs, collecting the bits of trash in their area and stuffing them into the empty six pack carriers. Usually Kyungsoo's the one crawling on his hands and knees picking up wrappers and yelling, but he's nowhere to be seen this time. Chanyeol goes wandering, just past the circle of yellow thrown by the bus taillights, and finds him sitting all alone on the steps of the bus, half-finished bottle of beer warm and dangling from between two fingers. He looks up when Chanyeol calls his name.
"Oh, it's you," he says, words slurring together. Chanyeol bursts out laughing. He's never seen Kyungsoo quite this drunk on tour before—not the night before a performance, at least. He's slow to recover from his hangovers. Which means he's going to be a miserable bastard tomorrow, but Chanyeol can't seem to care about that. The way Kyungsoo's face scrunches, the way he wobbles slowly to his feet, using his hands to inch up the body of the bus to hold himself steady—it's, well. Adorable's the only word that comes close, even if they'll have to pay for it tenfold the next day.
"It's me," Chanyeol confirms. He holds Kyungsoo by the shoulders and marvels at how compact Kyungsoo's body is. Kyungsoo's shoulders disappear into Chanyeol's palms so easily, like Chanyeol's one step away from cupping Kyungsoo in his hands like a bird.
"It's you," Kyungsoo repeats, more slowly this time. His whole face gets in on the action when he blinks. "I don't know. I've never thought about it."
"Thought about what?" Chanyeol prompts gently. Kyungsoo's just rambling at this point. Chanyeol narrows his eyes. It's hard to tell in this light if Kyungsoo is pale and about to get ill, or if he's just the right amount of fucked up to be poured into his bunk to sleep for the rest of the night. Chanyeol's hand covers Kyungsoo's to gently tug the beer away. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah. I'm." Kyungsoo presses his lips together and looks up at Chanyeol. His eyes are wide—owlish, almost—his pupils blown wide and inky black. "Okay," he decides, and then reels Chanyeol in by the hair to kiss him squarely on the mouth.
ventura, california. june 22.
They don't talk about it.
There's no time, not when Yixing's amp blows a fuse half an hour before their set and Kyungsoo goes nuts trying to borrow one off another band just for the afternoon. Chanyeol likes it better that way, when everyone's too wrapped up in the bustle of the show to sit down and shoot the shit. He's thankful, at least for now, to have the time to himself while he tries to figure out what the hell happened. Kyungsoo's noticeably hungover well into the late afternoon and predictably irritated, even after Chanyeol brings him coffee and four Advil. Kyungsoo tips the pills down his throat all at once and washes them down with the coffee, grimacing.
He softens just enough to remember to thank Chanyeol, and when he finally looks up Chanyeol realizes that he probably doesn't remember what happened at all and he's been agonizing over what to say when it's nothing to Kyungsoo, like it didn't even happen.
chula vista, california. june 25.
After a few nights off and sleeping in a real bed, Chanyeol thinks he's pretty much over the weirdness with Kyungsoo. It's been one-sided weirdness, anyway. Kyungsoo was back to normal after his hangover wore off and he was able to get some real food into his system. Shit happens, especially on tour, especially when alcohol's involved. Nobody got hurt. And Kyungsoo's not even a sloppy kisser, so it was almost nice. If it had been on purpose —
It wasn't on purpose. It doesn't matter. Kyungsoo's never given any indication of any sort of attraction to anyone, especially Chanyeol. He's too focused on making sure all of the band members are healthy and in one piece performing onstage instead of sitting in a holding cell. Kyungsoo's really good at his job, even if Baekhyun and Lu Han do make it hard on him sometimes.
Still. Chanyeol feels strange knowing he's carrying this secret around. Kyungsoo smiles at him and the word oblivious flashes in front of Chanyeol's eyes for a moment. Then it's gone, and Kyungsoo's still smiling, and Chanyeol's ready to do whatever Kyungsoo's about to ask of him.
So, yeah. Nothing but business as usual.
wheatland, california. june 26.
When he really stops to think about it, Chanyeol's amazed they've made it this long without some sort of stupid shit injury. No pinched fingers or cuts, not even bruises, for almost an entire month. So of course Baekhyun takes a mic stand to the face during today's set. Chanyeol keeps playing the moment back in his head at half-speed, watching Baekhyun push the mic stand away and then step in at exactly the wrong place to bring it catapulting squarely into his mouth. He's lucky he didn't break any teeth, but it still looks gruesome. Baekhyun pushes on regardless, finishing up the last two and a half songs like he's not in an incredible amount of pain.
When he comes offstage and grins at Chanyeol, wiping at his bloody chin with the back of his hand, his teeth are coated red.
"That's fucking gross," Chanyeol says, handing him a towel. Baekhyun holds it against his mouth and shrugs. The crowd behind him is still going nuts, chanting his name: Baek-hyun-baek-hyun.
"What the fuck did you do?" Kyungsoo demands, forcing Baekhyun into a chair. He makes a few aborted attempts at grabbing Baekhyun's chin so he can assess the damage.
"I'm fine! Punk rock, man." Baekhyun pulls the towel away to throw Kyungsoo the sign of the horns with his long fingers. His smile is still tinged red. Lu Han walks by on his way offstage with Yixing, drumsticks in hand, and claps Baekhyun on the shoulder as he passes.
"Way to be, you crazy bastard," he says flatly, and then to Kyungsoo: "Can't you control this kid?"
"Many have tried," Kyungsoo says, turning back to Baekhyun. "You idiot. Stop bleeding on me."
Baekhyun wrinkles his nose. "You're wearing black. How can you tell?"
Warped's medic is there already with a first aid kit. He's having a hard time getting Baekhyun to sit still long enough to get a good look at his mouth. Baekhyun keeps taking long swigs of water from a bottle and spitting on the ground by his feet. Chanyeol leaves them to it, partly because he's starting to get queasy looking at the way the towel's slowly turning red, partly because the next band's tech is already starting to put his hands on the equipment and nobody's allowed to touch that keyboard but Chanyeol and Yixing. Not even Kyungsoo.
Chanyeol catches up with the rest of them later at the merch tent. Baekhyun's fast asleep in the captain's chair usually reserved for Kyungsoo. Jongdae's sitting in a chair next to him, holding an ice pack on Baekhyun's swollen lip. It seems to have stopped bleeding for now, at least.
"He kept dropping it," Jongdae explains. Baekhyun's eyelids flutter.
"Hmm," he says, and thrusts his arms out in a deep stretch. He nails Jongdae right in the jaw by accident.
"Wow, sabotage," Jongdae says, dropping the ice pack into Baekhyun's lap in favor of cupping his own face. "Trying to take out the competition?"
Baekhyun blinks sleepily. He's extra sluggish today, probably a combination of the heat and the pain of his injury. Still, he's not so out of it that he can't manage even a weak zinger in Jongdae's direction. "You're my competition? For what?"
"You're right. That's not fair. You know, maybe if you spent more time singing into the microphone and less time pretending it's a cock you're sucking—"
"Fuck you!" Baekhyun attempts, although his voice is muffled enough by the swelling that it comes out sounding more like Fuhyuuuuu.
southeast auburn, washington. june 28.
Baekhyun's lip is almost back to normal by showtime the next day. He keeps whining about it though, touching the raw split gingerly with the tip of his pinky and asking about plastic surgery. After the bands are done playing for the day, Yixing disappears for half an hour and comes back with a Slurpee from 7-Eleven which is just stupid and juvenile enough to work. Baekhyun spoons the slush into his mouth with the flared tip of the straw, his lips and tongue and teeth all stained raspberry blue. But it keeps him quiet. Chanyeol silently nominates Yixing for sainthood.
Yura even comes by the bus to see him. They're sitting out back again, sheltered from the sun by the shadow of the bus. They keep having to move every twenty minutes or so to stay in the shade.
"Hey, kid," she says, pushing her sunglasses up on her head. "Heard you took one to the face yesterday. Are you going to make it?"
"You should see the other guy," Baekhyun says, crossing his arms. Jongdae laughs so hard Baekhyun shoves him off the cooler. Dutifully, Chanyeol gets out of his own chair and stands aside, gesturing for Yura to sit down.
"No thanks, can't stay," she says, patting his cheek. "You've been trained well, though. I'll let Mom know you're taking care of me."
"Tell your mom I say hi," Baekhyun says immediately, simpering. The smile drops off her face with startling speed and she's halfway across the circle to grab at the collar of his shirt before Chanyeol can even attempt to get out of his chair to stop her.
"Listen," Yura says, pointing a quivering finger at him. "Unless you want a nose to match your lip, shut the fuck up, Byun."
Lu Han and Jongdae immediately start jeering. Even the low man on the totem pole, Sehun, manages a tiny smile before he covers it with his hand and pretends to be busy with his phone. A few buses over, somebody starts clapping.
"Just shut up," Jongdae says kindly, squeezing Baekhyun's knee. "It's better for everyone that way."
As Baekhyun settles back into his chair and sulks, Kyungsoo comes clambering off the bus, fingers flying across his cellphone. He stops short when he sees Yura and thrusts his phone back into his pocket, message obviously unsent.
"Oh," he says, looking genuinely surprised to see her there. "Hi."
"Hey," she says, and glances down at Chanyeol. She's trying to be surreptitious but Chanyeol grew up with her and knows her tics. She's terrible at keeping secrets. "I—am here."
"Yes. You are." Kyungsoo nods. "I needed to go—check the trailer."
"The trailer?" Chanyeol sits up. "I packed everything. We're good to go."
"Just to make sure," Kyungsoo says, and it's such an obvious fib that even Jongdae's raising his eyebrows. Chanyeol's incredibly efficient. There's never been a need to double-check his work before, and it's not even something Kyungsoo would normally be responsible for anyway.
"I'll come with you," Yura says. "I'm heading that direction anyway." She ruffles Chanyeol's hair as she passes. He's too shocked to even say goodbye, only watches Kyungsoo fall in step next to her and laugh as she slings an arm around his shoulders.
Everyone's weirdly quiet watching Kyungsoo and Yura walk away, even Baekhyun, who's normally the first to open his big mouth and say something for maximum awkwardness. Yixing clears his throat meaningfully and starts packing up his things. Lu Han trails along behind him.
"You think something's going on there?" Jongdae asks finally, breaking the silence.
Chanyeol thinks about the way Kyungsoo's mouth feels against his in the dark and doesn't have a clue what to say.
portland, oregon. june 29.
They've got the upcoming few days off and a long cross-country drive ahead of them, so they're confined to the bus for most of the weekend. Baekhyun sits in the back with Sehun watching anime on Netflix. Yixing's been asleep for hours and keeps slapping Lu Han every time he pokes his head in to tell him they've stopped for food or gas or bathroom breaks. The day stretches on like that—drive, stop, stretch the kinks out of their legs for a few minutes only to get back on the bus and do it all over again. When they stop it's late, and the motels are extra dingy, but even the steel wool sheets feel amazing to Chanyeol. He doesn't even care he has to share a room. Chanyeol relishes the opportunity to stretch out to his full height. The bunks on the bus aren't ideal for someone over six feet tall. He's stuck curled into the fetal position most nights, or sleeping with one leg dangling out of the privacy curtain. This—this is heaven.
Even if he has to share his room with Kyungsoo.
Not that it's a bad thing, normally. Kyungsoo's great to room with. But there's this underlying confusion towards the events of the past week that have Chanyeol on edge. Uncomfortable. He keeps opening his mouth to say something, starting it, and then trailing off, because he's too distracted thinking about the kiss, and then Yura, and what it all means. Kyungsoo's quieter than usual, too. He's only speaking when spoken to. It's freaking Chanyeol out. Kyungsoo's never been that way with him before.
When they check in, Kyungsoo claims the bed furthest from the bathroom. Takes a shower that lasts over forty minutes, and then pulls a fresh set of clothes on from his duffel bag.
"I'll be back. Don't wait up," he warns, tugging a black military cap over his head. He doesn't elaborate any further. Chanyeol's curiosity burns, but he doesn't ask.
And then Chanyeol's alone, watching the time creep into early morning on his phone. He takes a shower to kill some time but Kyungsoo's not back after Chanyeol gets out.
He's not back when Chanyeol gets sick of flipping through the four channels on the shitty TV and pulls out his laptop to work on his new composition. He's been toying with the melody line for a few days, borrowed from a riff Yixing had played during his warm-up the other day. Something's missing, but he can't quite figure out what it is. Thinking about Kyungsoo and what Kyungsoo could possibly be doing right now is fucking with his focus, so that's a bust, too.
Kyungsoo's not back when Chanyeol finally gives up pretending he's not waiting for him to come back and turns off the lights to sleep.
But when Kyungsoo does finally get in, it's late. He stumbles in, making enough noise that Chanyeol actually sits up in bed and flicks on the lamp, rubbing at his eyes with a balled fist. Kyungsoo's visibly drunk, his hair crushed under his cap, eyes bleary. He holds a finger to his lips and then face plants into bed next to Chanyeol.
"Um," Chanyeol says, shifting over to make room for Kyungsoo.
"Turn the lights off," Kyungsoo slurs. He's still fully-clothed. He smells like cigarettes and weed and cheap beer and cologne, but also women's perfume, and Chanyeol feels sick. He recognizes the perfume as the same one Yura wears. It's pretty damning evidence.
"Where did you go?" he asks, trying to sound casual.
"Turn the lights off," Kyungsoo says again, more plaintively this time. He looks and sounds so vulnerable like this, inching his way into Chanyeol's space, nuzzling his face into Chanyeol's pillow, forehead wrinkled into a deep frown. He's so close to Chanyeol, his breath warm on Chanyeol's cheek. "It's late."
"I know it's late," Chanyeol says patiently and reaches across Kyungsoo to switch the lamp off. The room plunges into darkness.
"Thank you," Kyungsoo says. Then, a repeat from the other night: "It's you."
"Yeah, it's me." Chanyeol tugs the covers up over Kyungsoo's shoulders and settles back down at a respectful distance from Kyungsoo's face, far enough that he can't smell the alcohol on his breath anymore. "Go to sleep."
maryland heights, missouri. july 2.
"Fucking shit. Fucking fuck shit fuck. Chanyeol! Where the hell are you?"
The bus door wrenches open and the voice becomes much louder. It's so early the sun hasn't even risen properly. They'd arrived at the Amphitheatre late the night before and even though they've been parked for hours now, Chanyeol still feels the phantom swaying of the bus rolling down the highway.
He knows it's Kyungsoo by the tight way the bus door slams shut. Kyungsoo takes the steps two at a time, yanks back the curtain of Chanyeol's bunk and flings a heavy, double-issue of a magazine squarely into Chanyeol's stomach.
Chanyeol cracks open an eye and looks at what's just been thrown at him. Alternative Press. The August issue. Kyungsoo's face is looming dangerously close to Chanyeol's face, his eyes narrowed. Chanyeol sits up quickly and bangs his head on the top of the bunk above him.
Fucking Baekhyun. Not fair he got the top bunk.
"Your sister," Kyungsoo begins accusingly. Chanyeol scrubs a hand down his face and exhales loudly. He knows exactly what's coming. The Assholes just released a new album at the beginning of the tour. There's supposed to be a review and a mini-feature in the August AP. Yura had given him a head's up and let him see an advance copy. It's... not all that favorable. The new guy in charge of music reviews is a big electro nut and keeps turning up his nose at anything that sounds a little more second-wave. By all accounts, Yura really doesn't get along with him. Last time she'd mentioned him, the words festering douchebag came up. So it's not all that surprising that Kyungsoo's pretty pissed off about it.
"Don't be mad at Yura. She wasn't even in charge of that write-up. They said she couldn't be objective since—"
"It's anything but objective. Did you even read it? 'Mediocre, watered-down pop-punk reminiscent of a Motion City Soundtrack cover band'? Seriously? A thousand comparisons to fucking New Found Glory, some shit about a throwback to the early '00's and a truly moronic feature that talks more about speculations of Baekhyun's rumored slump last year than anything about the band or the new album or anything we actually want to talk about. I'm not mad at her. I'm mad at you."
Everyone on the bus is awake by now. Kyungsoo's speaking in his authoritative voice, which means any buses in a twenty-yard radius are probably having trouble sleeping, too. Baekhyun's not even pretending not to eavesdrop. He pokes his head out of the curtain and hangs over the edge of his bunk just far enough that Chanyeol can see the halo of bed head.
"Me?" Chanyeol asks. "Why? I didn't write it."
"You knew it was coming and you didn't warn me."
Kyungsoo's got a point. "They said Baekhyun's vocals were good," Chanyeol offers. "I think they used the word soaring."
"Soaring," Baekhyun echoes smugly. Kyungsoo's head snaps up, glaring in Baekhyun's direction.
"Yeah, because you need any more ego inflating. We'll put it on your tombstone, because after I kill Chanyeol, I'm going to kill you."
Baekhyun makes an indignant noise and disappears back inside his bunk. Somewhere further down the aisle, Lu Han laughs. Chanyeol's heard this spiel so many times it's all but lost its impact on him. Kyungsoo's threats are a lot of bluster, but he'd never actually do anything. Chanyeol turns and stifles a yawn into the pillow.
"Well? Are you getting up?" Kyungsoo demands, knee sinking into the small of Chanyeol's back. Chanyeol leaps up again, striking his head on the bottom of Baekhyun's bunk for the second time that morning. Baekhyun snickers.
"Yeah," Chanyeol says, vision bleary. He blinks a few times to clear the stars out of his eyes.
Kyungsoo watches him rub the top of his head and ruffles his hair in a moment of pity. Chanyeol groans sleepily, relishing the way the hair on his arms and the back of his neck raises at the sudden contact. Hoping to encourage more of the same, Chanyeol leans into Kyungsoo. Kyungsoo seems to realize his mistake just as quickly and feints a punch to his jaw.
"Still mad at you," he says, and disappears.