yeolliepopday (yeolliepopday) wrote,
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yeolliepopday

Age old questions for moonlightmp3

For: moonlightmp3
Title: Age Old Questions
Pairing(s): Chanyeol/Baekhyun
Rating: PG-15
Warning(s) age gap (8 years), questionable scientific knowledge, unbeta’d
Length: 3.7k
Summary: Baekhyun is a scientist and Chanyeol is his assistant. As their research evolves, their relationship follows. (sci-fi!au)


It’s past midnight. Chanyeol’s breathing is loud against a backdrop of silence, his eyebrows furrowed in concentration as he carries a dish of test tubes from one lab to another. They’re filled with all manner of colours – from electric blue to milky white –, some of the liquids are toxic, and Chanyeol feels nervous, even as he navigates between tables he’s walked by a million times. Everything is a little scarier when you’re carrying dangerous chemicals without gloves on.

A crash sounds from behind him. Chanyeol whips his head around to the source of the noise, half-way through a step, and before he can process what has happened, he’s on the ground, smashed glass nicking the back of his head. There’s pain, a boatload of pain, and then he can smell chloroform, and he realises that all the chemicals he’s dropped are quickly seeping into his skin. He passes out from the fumes before the burning sensation kicks in.

“Chanyeol? Holy shit!”

Baekhyun freezes when he reaches the door of the lab. He takes barely a second to gather himself, rushing to turn on an extractor fan, pulling on gloves and fighting back tears. There’s a deep red tainting a swirl of colours on the floor where Chanyeol has fallen, and Baekhyun can recognise blood when he sees it. Chanyeol already looks pale, unconscious, and there is definitely a crack in the back of his head.

He mutters out more profanity as he approaches, reaching carefully to shift Chanyeol’s head so he can assess the damage. As he does, he blanches. He pulls his assistant’s hair around, searching for the wound, but he can’t see it. He grabs at Chanyeol’s hands, noticing a cut on one. He shifts him around again, and the hand splashes against the chemical mess on the floor.
“Fuck.” Baekhyun can’t believe he’s seeing this with his own eyes. Just as fast as the cut had been bleeding, when it hits the liquid it closes up, repairing itself. “No fucking way.”

Chanyeol’s accident may have just realised the biggest scientific breakthrough of the century.

---

(4 years ago)

Chanyeol is sleeping through Cellular Microbiology. It’s his least favourite module and Kyungsoo is taking notes that he can copy later, so he doesn’t think it’s a problem if he rests his eyes for a few minutes during class. A guest speaker is droning on about infections as he begins to drift off, head resting on his folded arms.

“Idiot, wake up!” It feels like no time has passed when Kyungsoo hisses at him, shaking his shoulder. Chanyeol grunts, cracking open one eye to look up at his friend. Kyungsoo looks particularly ruffled. “Your phone is vibrating.”

“Is it?” He feels around in his pocket. “Oh, it is.”

By the time he looks, the call is a missed call. It’s from an unknown number. He’s about to save it for later and resume his nap, but Kyungsoo peers at his screen and whacks him on the arm. “Chanyeol, call back right now.”

“We’re in the middle of class.”

His friend shoots him a pointed look. “That is the number of Byun Baekhyun’s lab, y’know, the world-famous lab everybody here applied for an internship at last month?”

“You’re lying.” Chanyeol states, rolling his eyes. He contemplates ignoring the call completely, but Kyungsoo’s expression doesn’t change. He looks serious.

Against his better judgement, Chanyeol takes Kyungsoo’s advice, directing an apologetic grin towards his lecturer before he sprints out of the auditorium and to somewhere he can get better phone reception. He sighs as he dials the number.

“Hello, this is Byun Laboratories; Seoul’s most innovative pharmacology research centre. How can I help you?” The receptionist sounds a little bored, maybe even weary.

Chanyeol is about to explain about missing the call, but before he can start, he hears a scuffle over the line.

“–is that Iron Man kid?”

“How would I know?” A muffled monotone.

“Pass the phone to me!”

There’s more thuds – a little static too – and Chanyeol is speechless when he hears the next voice.

“Hello, this is Byun Baekhyun. Park Chanyeol, right?”

Chanyeol chokes on his own spit. He looks ridiculous out in the hallway, surprise marring his features severely. After running into a bathroom stool, he manages to wheeze out a reply. “Yes?”

Baekhyun laughs, the sound seems to resonate prettily, even through the phone. He sounds so energic, his words coming out in an almost broken rush, as if he wants to relay as much as he can as fast as he can. “It’s you! Great! You’re hired. E-mail me your college timetable and we’ll find a good day for your induction.”

They talk a little more about the logistic of the job, Chanyeol’s stomach fluttering. When he’d completed the application, he’d only done it jokingly, out of insistence from his department’s director. Chanyeol isn’t the smartest, nor the most qualified, and someone like Kyungsoo should be much more likely to get a call back. He’d printed his application on Iron Man paper and detailed his Pidgey army in Pokémon Go under his Recognisable Achievements, but apparently Baekhyun had felt taken to him after reading through it all.

“Can I ask you why?” Chanyeol mutters as Baekhyun offers to end the call.

“Why what?”

“Why did you choose me?”

Baekhyun laughs again, more deeply this time. “Everybody that applied was smart enough to get into top universities and pass first year. You were the only applicant that was smart enough to pick Iron Man as your Avenger of choice. I love Iron Man.”

---

Byun Baekhyun was a child genius – is still an adult genius now. He’s only 27, but his research has pushed the boundaries of what biochemistry is, and he’s been on the world stage to present his findings more than once. To work in his lab is an honour; a learning experience better than college. Chanyeol expects strict rules, deadlines and to be worked to the bone as Baekhyun’s assistant. That’s not what he gets.

“Chanyeol, send me your playlist so we can listen to that next time!” Baekhyun chirps with a grin, washing his hands after a successful induction session with his new assistant. He’s so smiley, practically bouncing with every step, self-assured in every aspect. “You can teach me how to beatbox, like how you wrote in your application.”

Chanyeol looms over him, and Baekhyun’s features are delicate, but it is clear who is the boss. The taller knocks a tube over in his haste to clean up and it smashes, but Baekhyun just laughs at him. “You’re a clumsy thing, aren’t you? Maybe you’ll knock something over and find the cure to cancer, that’d be fun to report to the press.”

They both laugh at that. His first day on the job had been incredibly fun, Baekhyun blasting pop music in the lab and whining dramatically whenever he handles any chemical that is remotely dangerous, much to Chanyeol’s amusement. It seems like Baekhyun needs an assistant as much as Chanyeol needs a boss – creativity and ideas flowing with an audience to present himself to.

“I had an assistant before, a graduate.” Baekhyun tells him, shrugging his lab coat off now. He scribbles a few last notes down in his notebook as he speaks. A tiny space edges his lips. “Great guy, smart, logical.”

“Why’s he not your assistant anymore?”

Baekhyun’s smile widens. “I don’t think he liked my taste in music.”

Chanyeol already likes it, he thinks. Byun Baekhyun is fun, witty and has the energy of a child in an adult's body.

3 more years of internships and a bachelor’s degree later – Chanyeol definitely likes it.

---

(the present day)

Baekhyun feels like he’s avoided cardiac arrest multiple times in the past 24 hours. He’d taken Chanyeol to the ER in his car when he wouldn’t wake up. He’d even stayed overnight, ignoring the nurse’s explanations about his assistant simply having a minor concussion. There was blood everywhere, corrosive chemicals, smashed glass, the works. In no way is it possible that Chanyeol has been lucky enough to only injure himself minorly.

“Boss, you can go home now.”

However, as it turns out, apparently luck is on his side.

He shakes his head near violently, seething. “I’m not leaving, Chanyeol. I’ve spent the last day worrying over your health. I can afford to do that for a few more hours.”

Chanyeol’s skin is still a little pale, an after effect of a concussion. But his face is lively, like nothing at all had happened. It’s unnerving, but it makes Baekhyun feel better. Chanyeol is healthy, Chanyeol is happy, Chanyeol is not dead.

“But I feel fine – are you sure anything even happened? Maybe I just leaked some toxic gas and passed out, it happens.”
Baekhyun rolls his eyes before focusing. “You remember what you were carrying before you passed out, right?”

“Of course I do, it was–”

“Save it for when you get back to the lab. I want you to get everything you were carrying, the same measurements, and do some tests on it when you combine everything. I think the results may surprise you.”

---

A month later, thousands of words typed up into a research report culminate exactly what Baekhyun expects – Chanyeol has found an extremely expensive tissue regeneration formula, which could just save thousands of lives. He also has his first real disagreement with his assistant.

“You saw what happened first, so really, this is your research. Your name should be on it!” Chanyeol whines, trying to shove Baekhyun’s hands off of the keyboard.

His boss just grins at him. “Technically, you risked your life to make this discovery. This’ll be your first solo research report, with my intelligent self as your assistant. This is something you deserve to put your name on.”

And Chanyeol had worked hard to run the tests and compile the report, but he still feels guilty. He works in Baekhyun’s lab, under Baekhyun’s supervision, and Baekhyun is more than just a boss – he’s a friend, a confident and a wealth of scientific knowledge.
“Voila!” Baekhyun grins and sends the document off to be scrutinised by the public before Chanyeol can try to change the author name printed neatly at the top of it. Chanyeol looks scandalised when his boss tabs out of his e-mail client, keying in the address for a pizza delivery place and grinning. “Time to celebrate!”

---

It doesn’t take longer than a few hours for responses to come pouring in, compliments showering Chanyeol from all directions, some even praising Baekhyun for cultivating such a talented assistant. In the space of less than a day, Chanyeol is thrust into the beady eyes of the scientific community, his discovery even making the headlines in mainstream media, with further research already being discussed by different labs around the world.

He bathes in the attention, grinning at Baekhyun just that little bit wider when they greet each other in the morning, even buying a suit for the inevitable conferences that will be taking up his schedule. The next few weeks pass in a blur of more reports and less coffee breaks, but Chanyeol doesn’t mind.

However, once he notices it, he does mind the damper on Baekhyun’s spirits.

“You’re doing very well,” His boss praises, peering over Chanyeol’s shoulder to look at the presentation he’s putting together. “I’ll read through your notes later, if you want me to.”

The friendly smile is still there, but it doesn’t reach his eyes anymore. Chanyeol turns in his seat to look at Baekhyun, trying to voice his concern professionally. “Boss, are things okay?”

“What do you mean, of course things are okay! They’re great, even.” Baekhyun exclaims immediately, almost stuttering as he tries to spew his words out. “I’m proud of you Chanyeol, your future is so bright.”

“All thanks to you, boss!”

Baekhyun’s smile dims a little. Chanyeol wants to ask why, but he knows that he won’t get a straight answer. “Yes, all thanks to me, of course.”

---

“–I can’t force him to stay here, Minseok. That’s not professional at all.”

Chanyeol catches Baekhyun on the phone as he walks past his boss’ office. He pauses to listen, feeling a little guilty for eavesdropping but mostly curious.

“You know how I feel about Chanyeol, I can’t just let him stick around when that’s not the best option.”

He almost drops the swatches he is carrying. Chanyeol’s mind starts racing – Baekhyun wants to fire him? He wonders if the concussion was one accident too many, no matter how incredible the discovery they got out of it was. Baekhyun probably thinks that he is too much of a liability now, he wants a more polished assistant, maybe somebody older; more experienced.

The rest of the walk to the lab is dulled, and Chanyeol busies himself with measuring out some powders to play with later. He doesn’t react at all when Baekhyun walks in, humming to himself. His boss notices, though, because Chanyeol always reacts.

“Chanyeol?” He asks, and Chanyeol regrets looking up to acknowledge him, because he gets lost in the sincerity of Baekhyun’s smile. “Are you feeling alright? Not dizzy, spaced-out, shaky? It didn’t seem like you noticed me come in, which isn’t like you.”
“I’m fine.” The reply is curt.

Baekhyun opens his mouth and raises a finger, ready to object. “Chanyeol–” He suddenly thinks the better of himself. He pauses, shooting one last look of concern at his assistant before striding over to the stereo and plugging his phone in. “Any songs you particularly want to hear?”

“Whatever you want.”

They get to work, Baekhyun sighing when Chanyeol doesn’t attempt the cutesy rap parts in the Girls’ Generation tracks he’d put on. The lab is quiet without their usual chatter.

---

Chanyeol has never thought about fucking his boss before, aside from when Baekhyun was voted first place in the Top 50 Sexiest Scientists of 2014. But apparently, distance doesn’t just make the heart grow fonder, and the silence draws out frustration.

“Can you pass me another ruler?” Baekhyun asks him, looking tired. It is barely past lunch, but Baekhyun looks and sounds like he’s been getting less sleep than he should be recently. He hasn’t spoken much today, only asking Chanyeol to perform tasks for him and nothing else. “A meter long one, this time.”

He gets the ruler, but not after Chanyeol drops it; out of nerves, frustration, or something else entirely. “Are you okay?”

“Are you okay?” Chanyeol counters, holding Baekhyun’s gaze from across the workbenches.

His boss stares him down for a moment, before simpering. “As always.”

“You don’t seem like it, boss.”

Baekhyun looks a little taken-aback by that response, but he quickly schools his features back into the fond smile he’d be sporting before. “I don’t know why you’re worrying over me, Chanyeol.”

“You seem down, boss.” He starts, ignoring his work in favour of scrutinising his superior. Chanyeol sounds very sincere, near bashful as he continues. “I miss the boss that scream-sings ballads when mixing acids together.”

“Maybe I’m just aging now.”

Chanyeol scoffs. “We both know that’s a lie.”

---

Baekhyun looks tense with the dim light of his computer scene washing him out, glasses close to slipping off his nose. Chanyeol peers at him through the ajar office door, taking in how his boss sighs to himself.

“Boss?” He doesn’t bother knocking as he steps into the office, worry clear as day on his face. It takes Baekhyun a moment to respond, nose scrunching up like a child’s and dainty fingers keying in a few more words on his keyboard. “Baekhyun?”

“I’ve been getting a lot of e-mails about you,” Is what he replies, seemingly offhandedly if not for the way he worries his bottom lip with his teeth while he pauses to think. “Offers to buy you out of your contract; to work at bigger labs. There’s a lot of money in it – corps are willing to cough up a lot for you, Chanyeol. I called you in to review the offers and find one that best suits you.”

Chanyeol looks dumbstruck. “Offers? Why would I want to take any of them?”

Baekhyun just rolls his eyes. He gestures to the space next to him, behind his desk. “Pull up a seat and walk through these with me.”

The chair makes an awful noise against the wooden floor as Chanyeol drags it across the room, but Baekhyun doesn’t react, instead clicking away and looking no happier when he finds what he’s looking for on his computer. As Chanyeol sits down, he realises that he’s looking at Baekhyun’s e-mail inbox, specifically at one of the multiple e-mails with his name in the subject.

“Here’s one I think would suit your skill set – Park Sunyoung. She’s an old friend of mine, an ex-co-worker and her work is along the lines of what you researched for your university thesis. I think you’d enjoy working under her.”

“Boss–”

“Or maybe,” Baekhyun stops as he searches for another e-mail. “Kim Jongdae. A big name in prosthetics research, something I know you’re interested in. You’d love the environment in his labs – full of surprises.”

“But boss–”

Baekhyun’s words sound as if they are stuck in his throat, as if he can barely bring himself to say them. “I know you wouldn’t want to work under me, it’s been years and you’re still young. God knows, I wouldn’t want to work under me anymore.” He pauses. “How about Heechul? You remember Heechul, right? He is–”

“Baekhyun!” Chanyeol slams his hands down on the desk, losing his cool. It catches his boss’ attention though, Baekhyun’s eyes leaving the screen to look at his assistant. Chanyeol’s lips quiver as he finds the words. “What makes you think that – that I – don’t want to work for you anymore?”

Another eye roll. “Logically, there’s no reason you’d want to stay working under me when there are better offers on the table. Did I show you the salaries they’re offering? Sunyoung’s is over a billion won.”

“Do you – do you want me to leave?” Chanyeol crumbles and so does Baekhyun.

His lips pull into a pout and Baekhyun’s expression softens at the sight. He shakes his head. “No, of course I don’t. I just see no reason why you’d want to stay.”

“I love working for you, boss.”

Baekhyun sighs again, fighting another eye roll. He turns to face Chanyeol in his seat, looking at him seriously. “I say this as your mentor – as your friend –, you have so much potential, especially in research based around your personal interests. You’re 23, I’m 31 – getting older and less imaginative in my research every passing day. Staying with me won’t help you further your career; it won’t help you make any more grand discoveries.”

“But I don’t,” Chanyeol starts, and the sadness is painted on his face delicately, clear as day. “I don’t want to work for anybody else.”

The look in Baekhyun’s eyes changes then, and Chanyeol holds in a breath. Baekhyun looks daring. “Why is that?”

Chanyeol doesn’t know how to answer, but the silence that lingers around them is telling.

---

They don’t mention the office incident after it happens. Baekhyun avoids all talk of Chanyeol leaving, and Chanyeol does his best to demonstrate how highly he thinks of his boss – compliments and coffee seal the deal. A week passes, and there is a tangible tension between them, even as they both try to supress it.

It happens on a Friday night when they are packing up, Chanyeol seizing the opportunity as he marvels at the subtle broadness of Baekhyun’s shoulders when the shorter man shrugs his lab coat off.

“Bo–Baekhyun?” He asks, voice a little small, but he feels confident that he’ll receive a positive response to his plans.

Baekhyun just turns to look at him, and there’s a twinkle in his eyes although his expression is neutral, as he if knows what Chanyeol is going to ask. “Yes?”

“Do you want to come over tonight? I got the remastered collection of Star Wars on blue ray last week, and you’re the first person I’d want to check it out with.”

“Surely you could find a pretty girl your age to watch it with?” He’s teasing, they both recognise this.

Chanyeol smiles; smirking the longer he speaks. “Maybe I want a hot older guy instead.”

Baekhyun drives them both back to Chanyeol’s place. They watch about half an hour of Star Wars before it simply becomes background noise.

---

“Hey, boss?” Chanyeol asks a week later as he walks into Baekhyun’s office, sliding a coffee across the desk and flopping down on one of the couches in the corner of the room.

Baekhyun looks so good with his dark hair styled up and glasses perched neatly on his nose. Chanyeol is happy that he can finally admit this to himself. “Yes, Chanyeol?”

“How does it feel to be a genius dating another genius?”

He gets an eyeroll in response. “Why don’t you ask yourself that?”

Chanyeol just grins at him. He shifts into a sitting position, legs spread and cheek resting on one palm. “So, you agree that I’m a genius?”

Baekhyun tries and fails to supress a snort. He continues to type something out on his computer, attempting to appear unbothered. “You’re acting like a child.”

“You’re acting like an old man!” Chanyeol counters.

And finally – Chanyeol wasn’t sure Baekhyun would find the confidence to say it himself – Baekhyun cracks. “But you like that.”
A coy smile. “Maybe I do.”

“Shoo!” Baekhyun huffs, gesturing for Chanyeol to leave. He pushes his glasses up and combs one hand through his hair. “I’m halfway through a report and you’re trying to distract me! We cannot fuck in my office!”

“I’m not sure you’d have the stamina anyways, in your old age.”

Baekhyun stands up, stomping over to Chanyeol’s form on the couch. His assistant surrenders and lets Baekhyun drag him out of his office, barely flinching when the door slams in his face. He bursts out laughing, unable to smother the sound with his fist, but he can hear Baekhyun laughing through the wall too.


Final author's note thanks to the mod for answering all my badgering very quickly. this is more of a “snippets” style story but i hope you enjoy it nonetheless!!

Tags: 2016, pairing: baekhyun, rating: pg-15
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