Of Sunlight and Bated Breath
Word Count: 1,579
Warnings: In-Patient AU. Attempted suicide.
Summary: The boy-with-pretty-lips has a voice like a song and, someday, Chanyeol wants to hear him sing. But he’s never been good at sharing, so he waits with bated breath for a day when he can carry the boy in his pocket, whispering sweet songs in his ear, only for him.
A/N: Not my characters.This is unbeta’d. Also, I don’t have any idea how this happened.
**Vietnamese Translation** by cartilage1504
Chanyeol likes to count.
He likes to count the folds in the curtains, the number of cracks in the hard linoleum floor, the number of visitors in the white washed visitation room. He does it quietly, with a small smile on his face that makes the orderlies pat his shoulders and smooth his hair and tell him what a good, patient boy he’s been even as he bounces in his chair.
He doesn’t know what day it is—the characters on the calendar are foreign, not as curved as his native language, and not as pretty as the other language he recognizes but can’t remember why—but he knows that it is the third week of the month.
He knows because the pills in his cup that morning were blue. He’d smiled at the morning nurse and she’d beamed right back at him, because she understood.
It is a blue pill week.
Chanyeol loves blue pill weeks.
The door slides open and his bouncing stops. His smile widens and he wants to stand up and put his arms around the boy-with-pretty-lips as he slides into the seat across from him, but he knows he’s not allowed to. His feet are clasped to the legs of his chair and instead he sprawls forward, stretching his arms across the cool metal of the table, hands reaching, reaching, reaching.
The boy-with-pretty-lips sets down the sweets he’s brought and laughs—his laughter always sounds like sunshine and bells and warm—and takes Chanyeol’s hands in his own.
“You’re happy today,” his visitor says, his smile and eyes so warm that Chanyeol wants to bathe in them, but he just rests his chin on the table and grins back.
He knows that he and the boy-with-pretty-lips have known each other a long time. He knows because the other boy tells him so, tracing his fingers along the lines on Chanyeol’s palms—and sometimes, after a deep breath, he turns the other boy’s hands at traces down the white lines on his wrists too, but his eyes turn dark and heavy and Chanyeol needs his smile like a flower needs the sun so he’s taken to wearing long sleeves during blue-pill weeks.
The boy-with-pretty-lips has a voice like a song and, someday, Chanyeol wants to hear him sing. But he’s never been good at sharing, and there are always at least five other visitors, so he waits with bated breath for a day when he can carry the boy in his pocket, whispering sweet songs in his ear, only for him.
It’s a green pill week, and Chanyeol likes those too—but not as much as the blue pill weeks. The boy-with-angry-eyes comes to visit, and even though his face reminds Chanyeol of a dragon about to spit—Do dragons spit? Or do they breathe? They’d have to spit some sort of ignition fluid in order to create a combustible, but is it considered spitting?— his laugh is melodic and his fingers are broad and familiar when they muss the—slightly—shorter man’s hair. He likes these visits because the boy-with-angry-eyes lets Chanyeol tell him all about his world.
The first time he’d come, the younger man had been so excited to talk to anyone that he’d carried on a story for half an hour before getting embarrassed at the undivided attention. The older boy had just patted his hand, and then, with a knowing glint in his eye, asked Chanyeol exactly what violet tasted like—spurring the younger man to continue his story.
The boy-with-angry-eyes always leaves him scraps of paper, smudged ink in characters he can sometimes read—and, seemingly written by other people— and Chanyeol treasures these gifts even after they are taken from him by the orderlies.
Chanyeol hates red pill weeks.
During red pill weeks he receives no visitors, at least, Chanyeol doesn’t consider her a visitor. She sits in his room, taking out the ceiling tiles, de-seaming his pillows. She takes the notes from green pill weeks and the sweets from blue pill weeks and throws them in the bin—unlike the other staffers, who hold on to them for Chanyeol and then slip them in his room as he sleeps—Chanyeol thinks they’re like good fairies in the night, but doesn’t tell them so. It was things like that that brought him here in the first place.
She makes him sit straight in his chair and brush his unruly hair and tell him about himself. But when he tells her about the taste of violet and the way the spider in the corner of his room sings him to sleep, there is no humor in her eyes. She clicks her heels in the floor exactly forty-two times per meeting. She looks at him like he’s nothing the entire time.
The worst part of red pill weeks, is the photos.
On the fifth day, she shows him photos.
The room is warm, cast in golden lighting, but the floor and walls are stained red. Chanyeol feels sick, tries to look away, but she’s too fast. She grabs him, she holds him steady, and he screams. She asks him the same question over and over and he screams and screams for hours and his wrists feel like they’ve been opened all over again. He sobs, his whole body shaking in his chair—his arms are bound to this one as well as his feet—he sobs until the world turns black.
The last two days he lies in his room, staring at the ceiling. There are six thousand five hundred and forty three black dots in the white tiles, and Chanyeol has named every one of them.
The spider is gone now, but he’d had a name too.
Yellow pill weeks are okay.
They give him time to sleep and recover from the harpy-of-the-red-pill. The orderlies laugh when he calls her that, but Chanyeol wonders if they understand what he’s saying at all. They smile when he smiles (which is often), they pat his head, and rub his shoulders, and always say goodnight—at least he thinks they say good night, his broken understanding of the language makes him about 70% sure that’s what they’re saying.
“You don’t remember my name, do you?”
It’s a blue pill week and the boy-with-pretty-lips pulls his fingers away from where Chanyeol has been toying with them, curling and uncurling—he has calluses on his fingers and three beauty marks on his left wrist.
Chanyeol looks at him with wide eyes—he bites his lip three times every five minutes, he has one hundered seventy eyelashes on his left eye, one hundred seventy six on his right, he makes his heart skip an average of five times per hour and he visits for three hours at a time.
“I…” Chanyeol’s smile falls, and gravity feels like it’s intensified two fold.
The boy-with-pretty-lips is looking at him with those heavy eyes—the same ones he has when he rubs the lines of Chanyeol’s wrists, over and over and over like he can wipe them away with his touch.
The younger boy swallows.
“No,” his heart is pounding and aching and he feels like his throat is closing, “No, I don’t.”
He keeps coming, the rest of the week, but the warmth has left his eyes.
“He misses you,” the boy-with-angry-eyes says bluntly.
Chanyeol stops mid-story—the cracks in the floor run like the veins in his arm, giving life blood to the building and sometimes in the still of the night he hears the heart of the walls and the breath of the windows—and his hands tremble.
“What are you talking about?”
The boy-with-angry-eyes actually, for the first time, looks angry. He looks angry and tired, and… Chanyeol doesn’t know how to name the emotion on his face. He doesn’t leave any notes that day.
He doesn’t come back.
She’s showing him the photos, the same scene over and over and Chanyeol is sobbing. He pulls at his restraints and he’s sobbing and he just wants to go home—whatever that means—and bask in the warmth of a smile and a soft pair of eyes.
Her hand is on his chin and her eyes are boring into his and she asks softly—for once she says it soft, and slow, and steady—“Chanyeol, who’s blood is this?”
He lets out a dry sob, shaking and in a whoosh of breath he says.
“Mine. It’s mine. Mine, mine, mine.”
She sets the photos on the floor and smooths his hair back. The touch is foreign, strange to him, but the look in her eyes is soothing and calm.
“Yes, good Chanyeol. Good.”
He refuses visitors for the next month.
His next round of red she lets him talk to her from his bed, no restraints, no hard chair. He buries his face in his pillow and tells her everything.
It’s a yellow pill day.
Chanyeol is laying out in the grass, long limbs sprawling, eyes closed and fingers twining with the green blades. He wonders briefly what green tastes like, but is too relaxed to move.
He hears footsteps close to him, too light to be an orderly. Shadows fall across his face as the newcomer stands over him, blocking the sun, but he feels the warmth anyway. A smile stretches across his face when he opens his eyes, fingers already reaching.