Pairing: Baekhyun/Kyungsoo, Baekhyun/Chanyeol, Chanyeol/Kris (spoiler: Kai/Kyungsoo)
Length: 14, 000 words
Summary: Kyungsoo had been harbouring a secret crush on Baekhyun for the last four years. Only coming to terms with the fact that it might be more than an extended high school infatuation when he’d spent last Christmas Eve crying lonely, drunken tears in Joonmyun’s bathtub. Baekhyun however, came strolling into Kyungsoo’s dorm declaring that he was in love not even a week after Chanyeol had moved in with him.
Kyungsoo wasn’t much of a party person. Most gatherings he attended either had him standing awkwardly in the corner, bouncing on the balls of his feet to find a ‘groove’. Or, even worse, had him actually trying to have fun around people he’d only seen once or twice around campus, something which was only possible once he downed a drink or two. Or fifty. That hadn’t happened in a while though, since Jongin claimed he was an embarrassment to mankind when drunk. The short moment of inebriated ecstasy just wasn’t worth the embarrassing pictures that almost always ended up on Facebook.
Unfortunately for Kyungsoo, Baekhyun was all kinds of a party person, and no matter how hard of a ‘you may be the best friend and love of my life, but I’m not going to submit myself to a night of social anxiety for you’ look Kyungsoo gave him, he couldn’t win when Baekhyun dramatically left the room with an exaggerated sigh of “Okay, I wonder what strange dame and/or homme I’ll have irresponsible and unprotected sex with tonight.” Thus far, that hadn’t actually happened yet, but there was always a first.
Kyungsoo presumes this is the first.
“Um, okay, I- I” he stammers, frozen at the doorway.
The boy who was currently dressing an unconscious Baekhyun on the bed smiles sheepishly. “Sorry, this probably isn’t something you want to see,” he apologises. Kyungsoo nods, slack jawed and uncomprehending. “But, we didn’t actually do anything last night. He just got a little excited and knocked out halfway through getting his pants off.”
Kyungsoo bites his lip. For all of Baekhyun’s eccentricities, he’s never been a ‘meet and sleep’ kind of guy. “Well, that’s good…” Kyungsoo begins, “I’m actually his boyfriend, so I’ll just take him back to my dorm and—“
“Oh!” The boy jumps up, his full height causing Kyungsoo to stagger backwards. “You’re Baekhyun’s boyfriend!” He smiles brightly, teeth sparkling dazzlingly in the morning sun.
The stranger walks towards him, arm outstretched cordially. “Nice to meet you, I’m Baekhyun’s roommate—“
Kyungsoo’s mouth dries up. “Chanyeol…” he croaks.
“The one and only!” Chanyeol grins, grabbing Kyungsoo’s hand and shaking it enthusiastically, “Sorry, I don’t think I remember Baekhyun ever mentioning his boyfriend. What’s your name?”
Kyungsoo swallows, not entirely sure that the guy wasn’t still drunk from last night or something. “Joonmyun. Kim Joonmyun.”
“Kyungsoo?” Baekhyun’s weak voice calls as he rises groggily from the bed. He blinks up at the two of them. “I’m not in heaven then?”
Chanyeol looks confused, “Wait, you’re Kyungsoo? Do Kyungsoo? I—“
“I feel like shit,” Baekhyun groans, flopping back down onto the mattress. “Wake me up in another month or two.”
Chanyeol smiles sympathetically at Baekhyun, Kyungsoo’s false identity all but forgotten. “Yeah, you got really stoned last night. You almost tried undressing me! Lucky you blanked out before that right?”
Baekhyun smiles bitterly, “Yeah, how fortunate,” he says, rolling over to bury his face into the pillow.
Kyungsoo takes this as his chance to run.
“Kenzie is giving you looks, I think she might have figured out you’re not in this class,” Jongin whispers.
Kyungsoo steals a glance, and indeed, Jongin’s Mathematics lecturer was silently eyeing him from the front of the room. He slouches further into his seat, pulling his hoodie down over his eyes. “I don’t care,” he mumbles.
Jongin sighs and shakes his head, “I like you Kyungsoo. Please don’t make me have to laugh at you.”
“Hey, who’s the tall guy hovering near the door? He’s been glaring at the classroom for the whole lesson.” Kyungsoo asks, squinting to confirm that, yes, his face was in fact contorted into a glare.
Jongin looks up from his notes, “Him? Oh, that’s just his face. He’s the TA, Kris. Teaches on Wednesdays. Pretty cool dude, I play Ball with him sometimes.”
Kyungsoo nods, absorbing the new information before jumping at a sudden ‘thwack’ resounding through the lecture hall.
Kenzie slaps the ruler against the desk another time for good measure. “And for those of you in this class,” she announces, eyes quickly raking over Kyungsoo, “I want that homework handed in to Kris the day after tomorrow. I’ve also given him the power to scratch his nails against the blackboard, so beware.” Kris grins at the shudder that ripples through the room.
“Fun times,” Jongin mutters as he leaves for the door. Kyungsoo follows at his heels, adjusting his hoodie before a hand grabs his elbow and turns him around hastily.
“Hey!” Chanyeol grins, a pair of thick, black-rimmed glasses outlining his manic eyes.
“Hey there…” Kyungsoo greets, instinctively reaching out for Jongin’s arm. He ends up groping air, and when he turns around he sees Jongin flashing him a thumbs up and a bright smile before turning the corner and probably laughing his ass off.
“I didn’t know you were in this class,” Chanyeol says, oblivious to the beads of sweat forming on Kyungsoo’s forehead. “I thought you were doing Education.”
“Oh, oh I am,” Kyungsoo states, rubbing the back of his neck. “I just wanted to try out new things, and um, yeah. Maths sounds interesting. Haven’t done it since High School, but Jongin is always going on about it. My lullaby is him rambling on about how great Maths is, derivatives and all that jazz. And um, you, you’re going this way?” Kyungsoo flails his arm at nowhere in particular.
“Actually,” Chanyeol turns around to face the classroom, empty aside from Kris who was currently organising papers on the desk. “I have some things to clear up about the assignment. I’ll catch you later, yeah?”
“Sure, sure,” Kyungsoo nods; already backing away, ready to break into a run.
“Mhm,” Chanyeol says distractedly, “Oh by the way, Baekhyun was looking for you.”
“Urghle” is the last thing Kyungsoo says before he elegantly collides into a pillar.
“Is that why you’ve been avoiding me for almost two whole days!” Baekhyun exclaims, eyes fixed intently on the screen. “I don’t see why you’re so embarrassed about it – you thought I made a bad decision and tried to weasel me out of it. I’d do that same for you,” he assures, hopping from foot to foot.
Kyungsoo feels his heart tug, but judging from the way Baekhyun was engrossed with stomping his feet in time with the beat, he presumes it’s probably one sided.
He shrugs and moves his bag further away from the DDR platform. “I don’t know, I thought ‘boyfriend’ made it look like I was trying too hard,” he says.
Baekhyun jumps, splits his legs, and holds them there for eight beats. “You did it out of concern, no one is judging you. Especially not Chanyeol. He’s insane; he couldn’t judge anyone even if he tried. His eccentric little heart wouldn’t allow it.”
Kyungsoo nods, “So you’ve told me. Repeatedly. For the last month or so.”
Baekhyun’s face, which had been stasis on an expression of determination, occasionally softening to understanding when appropriate, finally has the audacity to look embarrassed. “I don’t talk about him that much,” he insists.
“You’d be surprised,” Kyungsoo drawls, “also, some undivided attention would be greatly appreciated.” The high-pitched Japanese song playing from the machine was beginning to grate him.
“Your request will be granted in… 3… 2… 1… NO!” Baekhyun screeches, as if the score flashing on the screen shook the very foundations of his world.
Kyungsoo whistles, impressed. “Wow, that’s a good score.”
Baekhyun sighs and jumps off the platform. “I’ve been working to beat the high score for the last two weeks,” he says, making a small-strangled sound at the recall of his incompetence.
Kyungsoo worries his bottom lip between his teeth, “Do you even go to class anymore? You’re going to fail the course if you keep this up, and your Dad—”
Baekhyun scoffs, “Of course I go to class Kyungsoo, don’t be silly. Anyway, lets say we go out for dinner Friday night? Said Dad’s clients have a booking at this super snazzy place in the city.”
“Like a date?” Kyungsoo blurts out before he can stop himself, the abrupt change in topic proving to be effective.
Baekhyun bursts into raucous laughter, slinging an arm around Kyungsoo’s shoulder and pulling him close. “Like, like a date. Sure Kyungsoo. Sure,” he wipes stray tears from the corner of his eyes.
Kyungsoo grumbles and picks his bag off the floor, blinking when he notices the small children seated in one of the racing booths eyeing him sympathetically. He gives them an odd look before turning back to Baekhyun, who was rambling off about the night’s details, questionable as always.
“We’ll get into the restaurant for sure, but if anyone asks you’re Choi Siwon, you’re into the whole faux identity thing so it’ll be fine for you. I’m Choi Minho. Chanyeol will have to be Choi Sooyoung, which might—“
“Chanyeol?” Kyungsoo asks, the name coming out curter than he had intended. “Chanyeol is coming?”
Baekhyun raises an eyebrow. “Yeah, I want you two to get to know each other better. That way it’ll be easier for you to ‘accidentally’ lock me and him in a supply closet when the chance arises.”
“And why would I do that?” Kyungsoo teases, the question only half-rhetoric.
Baekhyun snorts and pulls Kyungsoo’s head under his arms. “The price of being best friends,” he proclaims.
Kyungsoo looks back, the children from before give him a solemn salute as Baekhyun drags him out of the arcade.
Jongin jumps and almost knocks over the toothbrush holder when the lights flicker on. “Holy shit,” he swears, a bandaged hand placed over his erratically beating heart, “you almost gave me a stroke.” He leans back onto the sink, giving Kyungsoo a concerned look when he saunters into the bathroom and plops down onto the toilet seat.
“You burnt your hand again?” Kyungsoo asks, frowning as he pulls Jongin forward by the wrist and examines the paled area around the bandage.
Jongin flinches when Kyungsoo’s fingers graze a particularly sensitive spot, “Yeah, it’s a killer. The coach is going to have a field day with me tomorrow.”
Kyungsoo sighs, pushing Jongin’s hand away and leaning forward on the toilet seat, chin resting on his palms. “Are you ever going to tell me the context in which you come home at two in the morning with various ailments, Mr. Kim?”
Jongin shakes his head gravely, “I’m afraid if I tell you, I’d have to kill you.” He looks down to where Kyungsoo was distractedly tapping his foot against the tiled floor, a twitch he developed whenever he was stressed or nervous. “Unless someone else kills you first. What’s up?”
Kyungsoo drums his fingers against the rim of the toilet bowl, deliberating whether or not to tell Jongin of his insecurities, lest he make a joke of it like he usually does. He watches Jongin pack away the antiseptic and burn treatment into the cupboard and purses his lips— he did force himself to stay up until Jongin came sneaking back into dorm just for the sake of conversation. That had to mean he was desperate, right?
“Is this about Baekhyun?” Jongin asks before Kyungsoo has a chance to verbalise his worry.
“No! I mean, yes—“
“Of course,” Jongin murmurs, lips quirking up in amusement, “it always is. Some people have first world problems. And then there’s you.”
“I’d like you to know that my problem has reached another level of complexity.”
“Oh really? Did you realise he looks hot in white?”
Kyungsoo bristles. “No. I mean, yes, he does, but no—Jongin,” he whines.
Jongin chuckles and squeezes Kyungsoo’s shoulder, relaxing the muscles Kyungsoo hadn’t even known he’d tightened. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Now, what’s this super complex and important level your crush on ByunBaek has reached?”
Kyungsoo sucks in a deep breath. “Do you think it’ll ever actually get anywhere?” he mutters the words in a rapid stream, squeezing his eyes shut to brace himself for the worst.
Jongin smiles sympathetically at Kyungsoo, a rush of affection for his poor, smitten soul, surging through him. “Well, that’s really up to you,” he answers, “I mean, you haven’t attempted to make it go anywhere for the last four years.”
“But say I wanted to—like, I really wanted to. I know this is hard to believe, but say every single free thought I have is dedicated to Baekhyun—“
“That’s not hard to believe.” Jongin interrupts.
“I mean,” Kyungsoo gives him a stern look, “say hypothetically, doing something about it has been at the front of my mind this entire year. Say I came storming into his dorm the end of last semester, fully prepared to make it go somewhere. But I found out Zitao ran away to find himself in the Himalayas, and that Baekhyun was getting a new roommate, who’s apparently—“
“Alright, alright.” Jongin raises a hand, rubbing his temples. “It is way too late for this. Just, have some faith in yourself Kyungsoo. But also know, it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s Baekhyun, I don’t know, take it as it comes. If the chance arises again, then carpe diem, but don’t let it consume you. Hypothetically, if you do spend every free thought on Baekhyun, you need a hobby.”
Kyungsoo feels a flush creeping up his neck. “Hypothetically,” he emphasises.
Jongin gives him a small smile and nods. “Hypothetically.”
Kyungsoo exhales and stands up from the toilet seat, stretching out a crick in his back. “When did you become so wise about these romantic things Jongin? I always took you to be a muscular, beefcake, Johnny Bravo type character.”
Jongin thins his lips, “I know, look at what you’ve turned me into.” He shudders. “Tell no one, okay?”
Kyungsoo had been harbouring a secret crush on Baekhyun for the last four years. Only coming to terms with the fact that it might be more than an extended high school infatuation when he’d spent last Christmas Eve crying lonely, drunken tears in Joonmyun’s bathtub. Baekhyun however, came strolling into Kyungsoo’s dorm declaring that he was in love not even a week after Chanyeol had moved in with him. It was enough to completely pulverise Kyungsoo’s ego, and going by the saying ignorance is bliss, he had avoided visiting Baekhyun’s room and skittered around ever having to meet Chanyeol for the sake of his self-esteem.
But here he was, Chanyeol’s knobbly knees knocking against his own, sharing an entrée of marinated chicken wings in a dimly illuminated Chinese restaurant. Kyungsoo takes a bite into his entrée and grimaces. He didn’t know what was worse. The chicken, the Zen music in the background, or that Chanyeol was in actual fact, great company.
“You don’t like the food?”
Kyungsoo is shaken out of his reverie. “What?” he says, mouth half-full.
Chanyeol grins, “You look like you just tasted death.”
Kyungsoo swallows, “Huh? No, the food is fine, just not worth the identity theft. I’ve made this at home, with fuller flavour.”
“I’m pretty sure those were just preservatives,” Chanyeol teases. Baekhyun laughs and punches his shoulder in a blatantly flirty fashion. Kyungsoo almost blushes on Chanyeol’s behalf.
“Seriously though, Kyungsoo is a great cook. During high school we both failed Home Ec because I kept eating everything he made.” Baekhyun proclaims proudly. Chanyeol raises an eyebrow, impressed.
This time, Kyungsoo does blush. “I’m not that good,” he murmurs.
Baekhyun actually looks offended by his words. “He is! Jongin is a lucky bastard, he gets to have his dinner cooked to perfection by Kyungsoo every night.”
Kyungsoo scoffs. “Please. Jongin isn’t even around long enough to eat these days. Did you know he came home two nights ago with his hand bandaged again?”
“Again? His double life is beginning to intrigue me. Say he’s a Russian spy?” Baekhyun whispers conspiratorially.
Kyungsoo laughs, “He spent yesterday morning trying to see how far he could pelvic thrust a soccer ball. I doubt it’s something that cool.”
Chanyeol shrugs. “The pelvic thrust is pretty exerting. You never know what he may need it for. Say he falls from a thirty story height and the suspension rope is attached to his pelvis?”
“I assure you the only time Jongin actively involves his pelvis in anything is when he’s dancing. And… other things… which I really do not need to think about whilst eating.” Kyungsoo pushes his plate away, the chicken becoming exponentially more distasteful. Baekhyun laughs at his pain.
“It’s great you can cook though,” Chanyeol says. “I love eating, but unfortunately my interest in the actual cooking part is equivalent to Baekhyun’s interest in law.”
“Non-existent,” Baekhyun grumbles disdainfully.
Kyungsoo perks up, eyeing Baekhyun curiously. “What? Since when?”
Baekhyun isn’t listening; instead he’s eyeing the front of the restaurant warily. His expression dissolves into one of panic and he immediately drops under the table, rattling the cutlery out of place. Kyungsoo and Chanyeol blink blankly at his now empty chair before following his cue and quickly kneeling beside him.
“What is it?” Kyungsoo asks, trying to follow Baekhyun’s gaze from under the tablecloth.
“My dad is here! I thought he had a charity ball,” Baekhyun says through gritted teeth.
“Are those his clients?” Kyungsoo asks.
Chanyeol lets out a low whistle. “Man, Sooyoung might actually have nicer legs than me.”
“Now is not the time,” Baekhyun whispers harshly. He gets down onto his hands and knees and begins crawling, manoeuvring through the arrangement of circular tables around the restaurant. Chanyeol and Kyungsoo share an anxious look before following at his heels.
“Sorry!” Kyungsoo apologises when he accidentally crawls directly under a woman’s skirt. She begins shrieking and waving her handbag, the racket attracting the majority of the room’s attention. Taking no chances, Baekhyun quickly stands up and bolts out of the restaurant’s back door. Chanyeol follows, and after regaining his composure and fighting off the violated woman, Kyungsoo stumbles after them.
They run for a good while until they reach a more desolate and shady part of the city, stopping outside a tattoo parlour to catch their breaths. Baekhyun slams his head against a lamppost.
“Holy shit, he saw me. He totally saw me. He is going to kill me, and neuter me. There will be no Byun Baekhyun the Second—“
Chanyeol clasps Baekhyun’s shoulders and begins shaking him violently. “Baekhyun. Calm. Down.” He states.
“No!” Baekhyun screeches, flailing in Chanyeol’s grip. Kyungsoo squeezes himself between the two of them and spreads his arms apart, emplacing a good metres distance.
“Baekhyun, Chanyeol is right, you need to calm down,” he says, rubbing Baekhyun’s back and frowning when he begins to hyperventilate. “I mean, it’s not like you haven’t done worse. I mean what; you just hijacked a restaurant booking? Remember the time you hijacked his car?”
Baekhyun glares at him, “No.” He jabs a finger into Kyungsoo’s chest. “This is a lot worse.”
Kyungsoo staggers backwards, the sudden aggression unsettling him. “What?” he asks. Baekhyun snorts and it sets his stomach doing flips – and not the good kind. Kyungsoo still had his pride after all. “You’re being a drama queen, I seriously doubt it.”
“Whatever,” Baekhyun spits, “I don’t expect you to understand.” He turns around, but not before catching the expression of disbelief and slight hurt flashing across Kyungsoo’s face. It sends a twinge of guilt reverberating through him, and he sighs softly before saying, “Sorry. Don’t worry about it, I didn’t mean that.”
“I…” Kyungsoo begins, unsure of what had exactly happened.
“Uh guys,” Chanyeol interrupts, “I left the car back at the restaurant. We can go grab some burgers or something, because I’m not going home without dinner.”
Kyungsoo nods, staring at the back of Baekhyun’s head in a daze. “Sure,” he says, “I’m sure food will be better at consolation than I am.”
Baekhyun gives a small laugh and tugs Kyungsoo forward, linking their arms together as they follow Chanyeol down the street. It’s a familiar action, but Kyungsoo feels stiff and awkward. He slips his arm out of Baekhyun’s hold, letting their hands bump against each other casually. Baekhyun doesn’t notice, and he begins chattering animatedly to Chanyeol, the anxiety almost all but faded from his face.
Kyungsoo lets himself fall a few steps behind.
Kyungsoo flinches when the lights turn on, throwing an arm over his eyes and emitting a disgruntled sound at the disturbance.
“Hey,” Jongin greets, throwing his coat over Kyungsoo’s huddled form on the sofa. “How was your date with The Baekhyun and Chanyeol?”
Kyungsoo scoffs and brings the coat higher up over his shoulders, snuggling into the warm material. “Baekhyun’s dad made a surprise visit,” he says. Jongin hoots. “Yeah, so we just bought some hot dogs off the street and went to karaoke before driving back. Baekhyun hogged the mic as per usual, and I think there was something in the sausage, because I can’t sleep,” he complains, shifting a little in Jongin’s coat. He smells something metallic and tangy, and almost falls off the sofa when he jolts upright and throws the layer off him. “Okay, no worrying about me. Why is there blood on your coat?” he demands, slightly hysterical.
Jongin smiles sheepishly and raises three fingers, wound tightly together with a red-stained bandage, “Had a bit of an accident tonight.” he says, as if he was explaining how red and yellow made orange.
Kyungsoo shakes his head and begins rubbing his temples, “Will I be a bad friend if I can’t be bothered probing this time around?”
Jongin laughs and walks over to ruffle Kyungsoo’s hair, “Not at all. It’ll be a welcome change. Anyway, I’d love to stay and chat but I’ve got to sleep, I have class at eight thirty tomorrow. Will you be joining me this time?” he teases.
“Ha ha ha,” Kyungsoo deadpans, “No I won’t, but goodnight… morning,” he amends when he spies the illuminated ‘2:30’ on the digital clock. He listens for the soft click of Jongin’s door before sprawling back on the sofa and willing himself to sleep dreamless.
“I was too fast wasn’t I? Should I have waited?” Joonmyun rambles, pouring an obscene amount of sugar into his coffee. Kyungsoo thins his lips and moves the remaining packets out of his reach.
“It depends on the goodbye,” Baekhyun says, leaning forward on his seat, “did she say it like she was unimpressed, or just a normal ‘goodbye’.”
“I…” Joonmyun chews his bottom lip, “I don’t know. She says everything like she’s unimpressed. ‘Joonmyun, are you going to wear that shirt?’, ‘Joonmyun, is that your GPA?’, ‘Joonmyun, nice to see you’.”
“Hmm,” Baekhyun nods, “this is slightly more complicated now.” Joonmyun groans in agreement. “Well, one of us had to date Jessica, sorry it had to be you. But that’s what you get for playing on the wrong ball court, bro.” Baekhyun grins unapologetically.
“I could say something extremely politically incorrect right now, but I won’t. Because that’s not what a man of law does.” Joonmyun sighs and looks at his phone for the time. “Well, class is starting, I’ll see you later. Bye Kyungsoo,” he says before running out of the cafe.
Kyungsoo puts down his cup and waves, “Bye.”
Baekhyun laughs and reaches for a sugar packet, dumping the contents into his cup and stirring. “Man, he is so whipped. I can’t wait until him and Jessica get married – his Dad will totally get my Dad to make me do a speech at the wedding. It’ll be the happiest day of my life.” He smirks sinisterly.
Kyungsoo grins. “Well, if you’re going to embarrass the both of them, make sure you do it after I get my food served. I don’t need Jessica putting poison in everything due to her wrath.”
“Don’t worry, you haven’t seen her wedding gown, it weighs like two tonnes. She’ll be rendered immobile. And yes, she already has a wedding gown picked out – and Joonmyun is worried about going ‘too fast’.” Baekhyun snorts.
Kyungsoo smiles, but soon frowns once realisation settles in. “Wait, don’t you have class with Joonmyun? You’re going to be late, man.”
Baekhyun tsks in annoyance. “You’re always so up in my case about this. Do you really think I’d miss class?” he challenges.
Kyungsoo’s resolve falters, “Well, no—“
“Then stop doubting me,” Baekhyun exclaims, exasperated. “Geez, when I become a lawyer the first thing I’m gonna do is get your mouth a Restraining Order from your brain.” He leans forward and flicks Kyungsoo’s forehead.
“Ouch.” Kyungsoo winces, rubbing at the wounded spot. Baekhyun chuckles gleefully and settles back down onto his seat, stretching his arms out in front of him.
“Been working out,” Baekhyun brags, kissing the tips of his fingers.
Kyungsoo makes a gagging sound before raising his eyebrows in curiosity. "Hey, what's that?" he asks, squinting towards Baekhyun's wrist.
Baekhyun squirms and pulls his sleeves down, "Nothing," he states, folding his arms behind his coffee.
Kyungsoo furrows his eyebrows and reaches over the table, grabbing Baekhyun’s arm closer for further examination despite the latter’s vehement protests. He rolls down Baekhyun’s sleeves, and his eyes widen like saucers as he takes in the intricate design trailing from Baekhyun’s wrist and past the red material of his sweater. His mouth falls open, “What, when did you get this?” he asks.
Baekhyun snatches his wrist away, cradling his arm against his chest like Kyungsoo’s touch burnt. “I don’t know, like ages ago.”
“You don’t know when you got a tattoo?” Kyungsoo cries disbelievingly. “Is it permanent?” he asks.
“Yes! I’m not five Kyungsoo. It’s not a rub-on you get with a Happy Meal. And stop trying to police my body!” Baekhyun defends.
Kyungsoo shakes his head. “I’m not trying to police anything, but you hate tattoos,” he insists.
Baekhyun shrugs and lifts his arm up to admire the work. “It looked really cool from the store window, and Chanyeol was just like ‘go for it, yolo’. He held my hand throughout the whole thing, that in itself made everything worth it.”
Kyungsoo suddenly felt very small amidst the bustling café. “Chanyeol says yolo?” He grimaces. “Not sure I want you with a man like that.”
Baekhyun snickers and reaches across the table to place his hand atop of Kyungsoo’s own, “Don’t worry, he only says it in context. I need a man like that.”
“Oi, Baekhyun!” Yixing hollers from the counter, “Mic is free, are you going to sing or what?”
Baekhyun smiles and pats Kyungsoo’s shoulder before standing up, “You know what, I’ll dedicate my song to you.”
“Thanks,” Kyungsoo murmurs, watching Baekhyun walk towards the mic stand in front of the café. He blows into the microphone a few times before starting the music.
A generic piano line echoes from the cheap speakers of the CD player, and Baekhyun begins singing softly into the microphone. It’s a slow ballad, one that Kyungsoo hates. But Baekhyun meets his eye from across the room and winks, and Kyungsoo will take whatever he can get.
“You waited for me, I’m so flattered. And you even brought me a Snickers bar!” Jongin wraps an arm around Kyungsoo’s shoulder and pulls him close. “Ditch Baekhyun, let’s make out.”
Kyungsoo wrinkles his nose, “Um, no.”
Jongin lets out a sigh of relief, “Thank god, I was worried you were going to take me up on the offer.”
“I’m going to be the one throwing orange peels from the stands at today’s game, just so you know and—is that Chanyeol?” Kyungsoo asks, leaning sideways to peer into Jongin’s classroom.
“Hm?” Jongin turns around and smirks at the sight in front of him. Chanyeol was talking spiritedly with an otherwise indifferent Kris, who was wiping down the whiteboard from today’s lesson. “Yes, that’s Chanyeol. He stays back after class a lot,” he says, walking forward.
“Why?” Kyungsoo asks, looking back.
Jongin smiles. “Let’s just say, if Chanyeol really doesn’t ‘get’ the material as much he says he does, then someone is going to be in University for a really long time.”
Kyungsoo didn’t understand soccer, and he didn’t really understand why Jongin enjoyed playing soccer, and he really didn’t understand why anyone would play soccer in the rain. He rubs his fingers together, blowing onto them to elicit some warmth amongst the steady shower. It wasn’t a complete downpour, but it was more than a drizzle, and enough for him to wish he had stayed back at the dorm curled up with a good book.
There’s a jeer from his University’s side of the stands, which currently consisted of a tenth of the normal number of people, most of which were smart enough to bring an umbrella. Someone from their team had just been given a foul, and normally Baekhyun would be beside him, dragging Kyungsoo up by the wrist and shrieking some inane protest. But for the last month or so Baekhyun had been MIA from most soccer games, and Kyungsoo had learnt to stop asking the fifth time around.
Kyungsoo flinches. He didn’t understand soccer, yes. But he understood that the ball that had just collided with Jongin’s face couldn’t have been pleasant. “Kim Jongin, fighting!” he cheers monotonously.
“You sound incredibly enthusiastic,” a voice drawls from above him. Kyungsoo notices the absence of raindrops pelting over him, and looks up to see translucent blue instead of the grey sky. The owner of the voice takes a seat beside him on the bench, raising the umbrella over both of their heads. “You looked like you needed an umbrella. I’m—“
“Kris,” Kyungsoo nods, outstretching his hand. “Yeah, you’re the TA for Mathematics 107.”
Kris takes his hand and shakes it politely. “Yes. And you’re Jongin’s friend who gate-crashed our class a few weeks ago.”
Kyungsoo turns beet-red, “Um, yeah, I, yeah,” he stammers, unable to form coherent sentences. “I’m Do Kyungsoo.”
Kris nods and turns back towards the game, where the tradition of Jongin typically harassing the referee for usually no reason had just begun. “Do you come to these games often?” he asks.
“Most weeks,” Kyungsoo says, tapping his fingers tiredly against his cheeks. “Otherwise I wouldn’t even be here. Usually my best friend Baekhyun is with me, he sort of compensates for my lack of… everything, really.” He bites down onto his tongue at the bigger truth in his words.
“Baekhyun?” Kris furrows his eyebrows. “Ah! Byun Baekhyun, he’s Chanyeol’s roommate, right?”
Uh no, he’s my best friend, Kyungsoo is tempted to say. Instead he nods and smiles forcibly, an action that had become signature for him in the last few weeks. “Yeah, Chanyeol’s roommate. Does Chanyeol talk about him a lot?”
“Not really?” Kris laughs. “Or maybe? I usually tune him out at the ten minute mark.”
Kyungsoo nods. “So, you and Chanyeol. You’re friends?”
“Um,” Kris looks contemplative for a minute, “Yeah? I guess. He keeps pestering me for extra tutoring. But usually what happens is that I explain the concept once, he gets an ‘epiphany’, and we spend the rest of the time shooting hoops.”
“Sounds productive,” Kyungsoo says. He actually felt sorry for Baekhyun, because if he didn’t know any better, he’d say that Chanyeol probably had a big fat crush on this TA. The irony was bitter. Kyungsoo is pining after Baekhyun, who’s pining after Chanyeol, who’s pining after Kris, who looks like he belongs in a Calvin Klein’s magazine and knows it. Birds of a feather flock together, he guesses.
“In your face!” Jongin shrieks from the playing field, lifting his shirt over his head and rolling unceremoniously over the damp grass.
“I’d ask what’d I miss, but I’m not sure I want to know,” Joonmyun says, walking past a trio of disgusted girls and slipping beside Kyungsoo on the bench. “Please tell me Jongin didn’t offend someone’s faith—oh, hey Kris.”
Kris nods, “Wassup?”
Kyungsoo looks between the two of them. “Does everybody know each other except for me?” he asks.
Joonmyun wags a finger at Kyungsoo, “That’s what happens when you don’t try to have fun at parties,” he singsongs.
Kris snorts, “Is this Joonmyun talking?”
Kyungsoo turns pink, “I don’t really like parties. I only go because Baekhyun makes me,” he grumbles.
“I need to have a proper conversation with Baekhyun one day,” Kris chortles, “It sounds like you don’t do anything without him.”
The remark catches Kyungsoo of guard, and he opens his mouth to defend himself. “I—“
“GOAAAAAAAL” shouts the referee, and the entirety of Kyungsoo’s side stands up cheering loudly. Kyungsoo tumbles off his seat, and stares up at the clouds that had just begun rumbling ominously overhead.
“Fuck my life,” he mouths.
On the night of their high school graduation, Baekhyun had somehow managed to talk Kyungsoo out of attending what was meant to be a revered ceremony and instead take his Dad’s car out for a joy ride. They had driven up to the national park outlook and sat on the hood of the Rolls Royce, the half-moon shining above them, a six-pack of beer between them, and looking down onto the scattered lights of the small city below.
Baekhyun bit the tab off his can and took a swig, the rush of alcohol sending sparks down his throat and easiness through his veins. He exhaled blissfully into the cold night air, eyes half-lidded and drowsy.
Kyungsoo leaned back, propped up against the front window of the Rolls Royce. “You know, they’ll be expecting you to make your valedictorian speech,” he said.
Baekhyun pouted. “You’ve read my speech – do you really think it’s fit for public dictation?”
Kyungsoo laughed, “I guess not. But that’s your fault more than anything. I’d get rid of the part where you swear at the guidance counsellor.”
Baekhyun snorted, “That’s the best part! Otherwise it’d just be another boring speech made by another typical student that really, has nothing important to say.” He turned to the side, flopping down and letting his head rest on Kyungsoo’s chest, not noticing the sudden hitch of breath by the other.
Kyungsoo lifted his hand and carefully let his fingers run through Baekhyun’s hair. “So is skipping it your way of showing off what a special snowflake you are?”
Baekhyun hummed, content.
“You’re Dad is going to kill you,” Kyungsoo reminded.
“We all have to die someday,” Baekhyun replied.
Kyungsoo smiled and looked back out onto the city line. “You know, everything looks so small from up here. It’s sort of amazing,” he marvels, watching the tiny stream of traffic spidering through the metropolitan.
Baekhyun shifted his head, following Kyungsoo’s gaze and frowning pensively. “Do you know what we do from here?” he asked.
Kyungsoo sucked in his cheeks, “I don’t know actually. University sounds daunting sometimes, but… it’ll be worth it in the end. I’ll be somewhere, and Law is hard, but you’ll make it.”
Baekhyun shook his head and sighed. “That’s not what I meant.”
Kyungsoo stopped his rhythmic stroking of Baekhyun’s hair and looked down to him. He seemed troubled, playing with a can tab around his finger and biting his bottom lip. “What do you mean then?”
“I mean, just like, other things. Like, fulfilling things,” Baekhyun tried to explain, waving his hands in grand gestures. “Like, things that we do so when my dad finally does kill me, I won’t give a fuck.”
Kyungsoo furrowed his eyebrows “Wait? You mean like a bucket list? We can do that during summer or something. Rent a van and do stupid shit, like dye our hair, go to a faraway resort—“
“And get tattoos,” Baekhyun added.
Kyungsoo laughed and flicked Baekhyun’s forehead. “You hate tattoos though.”
Baekhyun pursed his lips. “I do, don’t it?” He sat upright, leaning beside Kyungsoo against the window. “Alright,” he said, “that sounds cool. We’ll do a bucket list and it’ll be all good, yeah?”
Kyungsoo blinked, “Um, yeah.” He was unsure of exactly where Baekhyun had steered this conversation, and felt like he was suddenly in deeper water than he could handle. “We can do all that and more,” he promised.
Baekhyun jumped off the car. “We should go back, Kyungsoo. You’re driving this time though.” He crumpled his can of beer and threw it off the edge of the lookout, sending it clanging and bouncing off the rugged dirt terrain. Kyungsoo looked to his own can, still cold and three quarters full, and downed the entire drink before hopping into the driver’s seat.
Kyungsoo raps his fist repeatedly against the door. Arriving unexpected and brash wasn’t really his style, especially not on a weekday night. But for once in his life, he decided he could afford not to care.
Baekhyun opens the door wearing tight jeans and a leather jacket, his hair purposefully set in disarray, definitely not conventional clothing for lounging lazily in your dorm on a Wednesday night. “What?” he demands, giving Kyungsoo an odd look.
“Oh um, were you going out?” Kyungsoo asks, his façade of confidence falling moot at the realisation that Baekhyun obviously didn’t give a shit about his unannounced presence.
“Um, yeah, I sort of was actually,” Baekhyun says, leaning against the doorframe. “Sorry, did you need something?”
“Um, no not really. Not if you’re busy,” Kyungsoo replies. “Is Chanyeol coming?”
Baekhyun looks uncomfortable, and he slips his hands into the pocket of his jeans in order to look casual. “Oh, he’s already there,” he says.
Kyungsoo nods, this encounter not exactly going how he’d planned. “Um, do you need a ride there? Your Dad took away your car and credit card didn’t he?”
Baekhyun laughs, “Nah, I don’t. It’s just a party over at Yixing’s apartment, so I can walk. Nothing fancy.” He grins brightly at Kyungsoo, the skin around his eyeliner rimmed eyes crinkling.
Kyungsoo feels relief flooding through him. He knows Yixing. Him and Yixing are friends. They’re familiar. “Ah, okay. I didn’t know there was a party,” he laughs, “usually you’d be whining at me to go with you.”
Baekhyun shrugs. “You hate parties,” he answers.
“That’s never stopped you before,” Kyungsoo retorts.
Baekhyun snickers, despite it not being anything close to a joke. “Well, I need to fix my hair. See you tomorrow!” He moves to close the door, but Kyungsoo is quicker.
“Wait!” he says, wedging his foot in front of the doorframe. Baekhyun looks at him expectantly, drumming his fingers against the wall.
Kyungsoo wavers, but takes a deep breath before plunging forward; “Don’t you have class tomorrow? When is the party going to end?”
For a moment it seems as though Baekhyun is awestruck, staring at Kyungsoo disbelievingly like he’d just offended his entire family. Then he rolls his eyes and murmurs a ‘Goodnight Kyungsoo’ before shutting the door in his face.
Kyungsoo gazes blankly at the door for a whole minute before taking out a scrunched up piece of paper from his pocket. He opens it up against the adjacent wall, smoothing down the creases and frowning at the contents.
He considers discarding it in the hallway bin, but decides against it. “It’s a waste… I’ll give it to Jongin,” he mutters, folding the coupon neatly into a square and tucking it away inside of his jacket.
“This is probably the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever had to do in all of my college life,” Jongin whines, flailing his arms petulantly.
“If you ask me, it’s long overdue,” Kyungsoo says, the toe of his sneakers playing with the loose fibres of the carpet. He’d been standing in line with Jongin at the student office since one pm, and he was beginning to become as impatient as Jongin was during any time of the day. “Man, what’s the girl in front of you even doing? Applying for citizenship?” he scowls.
Jongin shrugs, “I don’t know, I’ll ask.” He taps the girl in front of him on the shoulder, and she turns to give him a curious look.
“Sorry?” she says.
Jongin gives her his five hundred watt smile. “Sorry, how long do you think you’re going to take? Because all I have to do is pick up a Probation notice and possibly misdirect my anger at someone undeserving.”
“Um, okay, sure,” she says, confused as she moves aside to let Jongin through. Jongdae snorts at him from the window, fishing out a green piece of paper from under his desk.
“Stay classy Jongin,” he says, passing it through the window.
Jongin snatches the notice away and grumbles profanities under his breath. Kyungsoo rubs his back reassuringly.
“You know, it’s not that hard. Next time you want to kick the opposing team in the shins. Stop. Breathe. And think, ‘is this what a rational person would do?’, and you’ll be off probation in no time.”
Jongin exhales melodramatically. “Rational thinking is a luxury when you’re out there on the field, Kyungsoo. Not that I’d expect you to understand.”
“I think rational thinking would be a blessing in your case, Jongin,” Jongdae quips. Jongin glowers at him.
Kyungsoo laughs nervously and pats Jongin on the stomach, “Let’s not bait to wild animal, Jongdae,” he says, dragging Jongin away by the arm. “I’ll see you around.”
“See ya,” Jongdae nods, turning back to the girl whose turn Jongin had interrupted. “Oh wait!” he suddenly calls.
Kyungsoo turns around. “Yeah?”
“Can you tell Baekhyun to come by at six today? He needs to collect the Students Exchange Paperwork before he leaves for London.”
Kyungsoo gawks at Jongdae, who squirms under his stare and looks around insecurely. “What? Do I have something on my face?”
Jongin looks down incredulously at Kyungsoo, the probation notice falling onto the floor forgotten.
“So basically, the rule of matrix multiplication is—“
“Two matrices can be multiplied only when the number of columns in the first equals the number of rows in the second,” Chanyeol recites perfectly.
Kris blinks. “Yes…” he says, raising an eyebrow.
Chanyeol turns to the side and rests his cheek on his palm, smiling glassily towards Kris. “It’s like we can read each other’s minds,” he awes.
“Oh…kay…” Kris shifts his chair a few centimetres away from Chanyeol. “So you get it now?”
Chanyeol nods, punching the air victoriously. “Yep, it all makes sense to me. Now, let’s go—“
Kris and Chanyeol look up simultaneously.
“Oh, hey Kyungsoo!” Chanyeol greets. Kris nods in acknowledgement.
Kyungsoo shifts nervously from foot to foot, clutching the random book he had pulled from one of the shelves closer towards himself. “Sorry for interrupting your session. But um, do you mind if I speak to Chanyeol for a moment?”
Kris motions for Chanyeol to get up. “He’s all yours.”
Chanyeol follows Kyungsoo to the back of the University Library, behind the musty reference shelves and near the entrance of the photocopy room. Kyungsoo avoids looking at him, eyeing the carpeted floor as he searches for a smooth way to segway into the topic.
“So, what’s worrying your cute little head Kyungsoo?” Chanyeol asks, smiling brightly.
Kyungsoo scratches the back of his neck. “You know how Baekhyun is leaving?” he asks.
Chanyeol nods calmly, the news obviously not earth-shatteringly new to him as it was to Kyungsoo back at the student office. “Yeah?”
Kyungsoo clears his throat. “Well… he’s a close friend and all, so I was thinking we can throw him a surprise party or something? Make a reservation – a proper reservation – at a nice restaurant.” he lies.
Chanyeol smiles sympathetically at Kyungsoo. “Aw, that’d be sweet. But we have no time! He leaves tomorrow night, so unless we can somehow make a booking today—“
Kyungsoo tunes out, his mind numb and the sound of static white muffling his ears. Did he somehow miss a memo? Baekhyun did have skewed priorities after all. Maybe he’d casually slipped it into conversation during one of their movie nights and Kyungsoo just never picked up on it? Did Baekhyun just not think it was that much of a big deal? Did he simply send a text to Kyungsoo punctuated with inappropriate smileys that he never received?
“Kyungsoo,” Chanyeol sings, snapping his fingers in front of Kyungsoo’s face. “Earth to Kyungsoo?”
Kyungsoo blinks, effectively shaken from his train of thought. “Sorry? What were you saying?”
Chanyeol looks at him concernedly. “I was saying that Joonmyun is having a party for him right before he leaves for the airport, remember? So there’s always that.”
“Oh right,” Kyungsoo nods. “Yeah, that party. I forgot about that,” he fronts. “Well, it was a nice idea though. Thanks.”
“No worries!” Chanyeol beams, turning to leave.
“Oh, but um, wait.” Kyungsoo grabs onto Chanyeol’s sleeve. “What was the school he’s exchanging to? I keep forgetting the name, I should write it down.” He pretends to pat his chest, searching for a pen.
“Royal College of Music,” Chanyeol says, smiling amusedly. “It’s not that hard to remember.”
“Are you really not going to talk to him?” Jongin asks, standing in front of Kyungsoo’s bed.
“Hm,” Kyungsoo replies, burying his head further into the pillow.
Jongin clicks his tongue. “You know, if he is leaving tonight—“
“Then he’d tell me,” Kyungsoo interrupts, lifting his head off the pillow. He picks up his phone from the bedside table and waves it in front of Jongin’s face. “If he really cared for me to know, then he’d at least tell me the day he was leaving.”
Jongin shakes his head at Kyungsoo’s pathetic existence and moves to draw back the curtains, the bright midday sun causing Kyungsoo to flail in an undignified fashion. He’d been in bed since ten pm last night, refusing to leave the room unless it was to go the toilet or brush his teeth. His eyes almost watered from having to adjust to the light.
“You know, I think Baekhyun is probably the number one asshole on the planet. But I also think you’re going to have to talk to him, at least to figure out why he’s acting like such a little fucktard,” Jongin lectures.
“I told you, if he doesn’t want me to know, then so be it,” Kyungsoo says, rolling over onto his back and staring up at the ceiling. “I want to respect his wishes.”
Jongin snorts. “Respect his wishes? He’s not dead Kyungsoo, unfortunately.”
“Jongin,” Kyungsoo warns.
Jongin rubs his temples tiredly. “Don’t chastise me when you’re lying in bed at twelve pm in your boxers. Look, when you finally do want to take assertive action, just give me a holler.” He leaves the room, taking one last look at Kyungsoo and sighing before softly shutting the door.
Kyungsoo closes his eyes and listens to the steady beat of the ceiling fan, grabbing the blankets and curling into warm material. He thinks back to the first time he felt that now-familiar flutter of his stomach around Baekhyun’s presence. It was their junior year of high school, spending an afternoon alone in Baekhyun’s large penthouse organising Joonmyun’s surprise birthday party. Who knew that small ‘thump’ would result in the biggest heartbreak he’d ever experience in his twenty-one years?