Luhan was a quiet boy, but far the opposite of what Baekhyun was. As the son of two flower shop keepers, he was as delicate as the flowers that his parents handled, but Baekhyun began to see him as someone more courageous than he first judged. Perhaps the young blonde was overly greatful, but ever since Baekhyun found it in him to help the bullied boy off the ground after being roughened up by a couple of idiots Baekhyun referred to as “ingrates”, Luhan became attached to following him.
His assimilation into Baekhyun’s life was less intrusive than Chanyeol’s. The brunet didn’t mind being followed. Luhan didn’t speak much unless he wanted to ask about common things such as homework and weather. His personality was somewhat endearing and it was to Baekhyun’s likeness, oddly. It wasn’t a week after meeting one another that Baekhyun began to work with Luhan on his science subject class when he became aware of his issues with his struggling grade.
Chanyeol had been surprised when Baekhyun began bringing his newfound pet into the library to eat lunch with them. However slightly jerked his was of Luhan’s privileges with the brunet, the basketball player treated him like any other.
But the giant couldn’t deny being a little too overly jealous when Luhan quietly asked for Baekhyun’s cellphone number one afternoon and the brunet merely shrugged before handing the written numbers on a ripped piece of paper with no conditions attached as he had done with Chanyeol. It had taken two weeks and three days for Chanyeol to pry Baekhyun’s contact number from him after a series of attempts to obtain it, and even then, Baekhyun had set up a system where he couldn’t text or call at all unless it was between the time of four and four-thirty in the afternoon. Although he felt it in his gut to not take the low-ended deal, Chanyeol had no other choice but to accept.
Once, he tried to casually start a conversation with the brunet. The moment the clock struck four, Chanyeol sent a text message reading a simple “Hello”, but Baekhyun answered it fifteen minutes later. It took the giant no longer than two minutes to come up with a response that could have sparked a great conversation, but Baekhyun, again, replied to it ten minutes later. Then before Chanyeol could send another one, the brunet sent him the numbers four, three, and zero, indicating the time that Chanyeol was no longer allowed to contact him.
It was frustrating to the basketball player, and he honestly didn’t know why he was trying so hard. Baekhyun wondered the same thing with every diligent text he received in the thirty minute opening he left for the giant.
Luhan was a different case, and for this, Baekhyun could tell that it bothered the giant greatly. During their lunch, the smile and the laughter were the same, but whenever the brunet would take a close look at how Chanyeol was interacting with Luhan, the boy seemed seemed as though he was forcing himself to appear upbeat. This assumption was proven when Luhan looked off in one moment and the player made eye contact with the brunet and, for a short second, the smile faltered.
“Do you want to go to the movies?”
Halting in steps, Baekhyun turned around to face the sweaty jock who had just left basketball practice, yet insisted on walking the brunet to the bus stop once again. With his hands in his pockets and headphones hung around his neck, Baekhyun pursed his lips inwards as he cocked his head. Then, to Chanyeol’s surprise, the brunet shrugged as he started walking again.
With his back turned, Baekhyun could feel Chanyeol’s sudden happiness with his answer, fully aware that the athlete had stopped walking in frozen shock. Just as the guy was beginning to jog to catch up, Baekhyun turned his head to the side and looked up at the giant beside him.
“I’ll invite Luhan, too.”
Chanyeol blinked and stopped walking once again, staring at Baekhyun with a fallen expression. “What?”
“Luhan,” Baekhyun repeated. “I’d invite Kyungsoo, but he has school obligations as you know.” As he pulled out his cellphone from his back pocket, he made sure to keep a neutral expression. “Is that alright?”
There was a hesitation clear as day, but Chanyeol nodded as he smiled. “Yeah. That’s fine.”
It wasn’t as though he wanted to hurt the giant’s feelings, because Baekhyun had no intention of doing so at all, however, there was simply no way around it. There was one mirror in Baekhyun’s room. Every morning he knew who was in the reflection staring back at him, and by his great judgment, that person was not well-matched with Chanyeol.
If compared, Chanyeol was water while Baekhyun saw himself as black dye. When mixed together, the water becomes tainted and the dye becomes more transparent, and in reality, Baekhyun had no interest in tainting Chanyeol or becoming soft and transparent to the world.
The best thing to do was to put Chanyeol down.
“Who is he?”
“Well, don’t be mean to him.”
Baekhyun rolled his eyes, ignoring the way his sister was making faces at the camera aimed toward him. “I’m not.”
“It was really obvious that he was indirectly asking you out,” Hyoyeon hummed as she shook his head in disappointment for her younger sibling. “I would’ve said yes.”
“I did say yes,” Baekhyun sighed as fixed the pillow on his chest that the laptop was sitting on top of.
“You also invited Luhan,” she reminded.
“I don’t see what’s wrong with that.”
“I’m not stupid.”
“I know you’re not.”
“Then don’t act like I am,” she snorted. “Tell Luhan the plans are off.”
“That’s rather rude,” Baekhyun responded, waving a hand off. “Maybe next time.”
Hyoyeon scrunched her nose. “Be more open. It won’t kill you.”
Rubbing his eyes after side glancing at the time, Baekhyun shrugged. “I don’t think I’ll be willing to test out this theory.”
“Why are you a hermit?”
“It’s less stressful.”
The list was handed out on a Monday, but Baekhyun never took the time to read the list until Kyungsoo mentioned the piece of worthless paper when he dropped by during lunch hour in Baekhynu’s library hang out. The president was surprised to find that Baekhyun’s lonely island had turned into a carnival with two more members of his isolationist party added.
Seeing Chanyeol made up for the majority of the surprise. Before Kyungsoo addressed what he needed to discuss with Baekhyun, he pointed an objectifying finger at the basketball player, slanting his lips. “Chanyeol.”
Sitting straighter than he was before, Chanyeol nodded.
“I didn’t know you knew Baekhyun.”
“Kyungsoo,” the brunet interjected in a voice that meant to warn the president from whatever he had in mind.
“I do,” Chanyeol said slowly, giving Baekhyun a glance.
Kyungsoo shut his mouth, keeping his face stoic and neutral before he cocked it for a while. “Interesting. I didn’t know that,” he said, finally turning his head to Baekhyun, who was giving him a tired look. “The more you know, I suppose.”
“Did you need something?” Baekhyun asked, rolling his eyes.
“I’m just here to remind you about the school trip,” Kyungsoo smiled, which Baekhyun saw right through. “It’s highly encouraged for every student in their final year to attend. Chanyeol, Luhan, have you two started packing?”
Luhan nodded quietly while Chanyeol made a verbal response.
When the attention went back to Baekhyun, the brunet shrugged. “I’m not interested.”
The smile on the president’s face never faltered, and if Baekhyun was anyone else, he would’ve coward at the sight. “Not interested? But I just said it’s encouraged.”
“Not required,” Baekhyun argued.
“I understand how the wilderness isn’t exactly your cup of tea—”
“Kyungsoo, I’m not going.”
Taking in a deep breath, Kyungsoo slapped a hand over his face and sighed, shaking his head. A dry laugh forced its way out of his lips before he lifted his hung head to look upwards again. “Listen, I’m going to go insane, alright? I have no leverage over you because this trip isn’t a requirement. It’s merely a motherfucking stupid attempt by the school to bond all of us in everlasting friendship, which is complete bullshit because I’ll be fucked in the ass first before I stay in contact with any of the idiots in this year.”
Baekhyun moved his eyes momentarily to Chanyeol and Luhan, who were both looking at Kyungsoo as if he had transformed into some form of wilder beast, which would not have been surprising since it was metaphorically true, if anything. Luhan looked scared to an extent and Chanyeol just seemed to be in utter shock, unaware of that side of Kyungsoo’s personality.
“I know that it’ll be three days in the woods and in cabins with immature shits that will never grow up until they hit their middle thirties, but, Baekhyun, you and I both know I cannot stand these people for eight hours in a day without going home and stopping by the shop to get some light,” Kyungsoo went on, no longer caring about his informal appearance and words in front of Baekhyun’s new company. “Although you won’t get any phone signal, the camp does have wifi, if that helps. The food isn’t going to be shit. We’ll only be doing a lot of bonding and team work activities, learning how to be better citizens and other bullshit that everyone’s going to get hyped up about, then immediately shit out of their ass the moment we hit civilization, wireless cellphone signals are available again and we’re free to talk shit about each other on social media.”
Holding his breath for a while, Kyungsoo changed his stance, putting his hands on his hips and biting his lips as he looked away for a moment. “I’ll make sure the arrangements are livable if you go,” he promised. “By that, I mean, I will make sure you and I will get the same cabin with people that you and I are comfortable with. I’ll pull some strings. I just need someone on this trip that’s on the same stage of evolution as I am, because I honestly can’t be on a weekend trip with a bunch of unevolved apes.”
Following the long monologue was silence. Baekhyun resumed to eating, keeping all three individuals on the hook as they waited for him to finish chewing. It was only when Kyungsoo took a step forward threateningly that Baekhyun slanted his shoulders and gave a halfhearted nod as he swallowed. “Fine.”
Satisfied and relieved, Kyungsoo smiled as he fixed his clothes unnecessarily. “Thank you.” Moving his eyes to Chanyeol and Luhan, he lifted a finger to his lips and cocked his head. “I trust that you two will not act differently around me when we’re in public?”
Quietly responding positively, the basketball player and the quiet blonde were rewarded with Kyungsoo’s silent graces.
Turning on his heel, the president made his way out, leaving Baekhyun to deal with the awkwardness that his stone cold friend had left behind. He finished eating and wiped his mouth with a napkin, not paying any mind to the way Chanyeol and Luhan were watching him closely. No one spoke about Kyungsoo’s transformation from the diligent, kind, and innocent president to a full blown bastard with the tongue of a bitch. Perhaps it was because no one dared to bring it up, but for one reason or another, Baekhyun felt the need to explain and defend Kyungsoo’s output image.
“He’s indecisive,” the brunet said as he put all his used utensils in a container. “He wants to do everything, but nothing at all. He wants to do well in school, yet he hates it here. In other words, Kyungsoo’s wants to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time.”
“Like a paradox?” Luhan asked.
“Like a paradox.”
With his brows drawn together, Chanyeol’s attention was fixated on Baekhyun the entire time he was talking with the blonde. “How long have you known each other?”
Blinking, Baekhyun looked in the giant’s direction. “For a few years.”
Luhan moved closer to the brunet to help clean up. “You seem close.”
“That’s because we dated.”
The giant looked just as surprised as the blonde boy that he had been envious of for a time, and this was noticeable to Baekhyun who had caught the fleeting look of jealousy in Chanyeol’s eyes when he looked over.
Baekhyun had a policy that involved facing things head on to avoid larger obstacles in the future. It was an interpretation of the saying that one should take the road less traveled by, and the brunet knew that it was far less troublesome.
Stretching his legs, he nudged Chanyeol by the knee. “What?”
“Nothing,” Chanyeol said with a small grin on his face.
“You looked like you wanted to say something.”
Despite the insistence on the other’s half, Baekhyun knew otherwise. “Alright,” he said. When he saw that Luhan had finished taking all the things together and putting them in the bag that Chanyeol had brought with him, he stood up. “It only worked out for eight months. Two negatives are incompatible by the laws of physics.”
“And what if I’m a positive?”
“I still wouldn’t be your type of magnet.”