Kyungsoo’s persistency in trying to convince the isolationist to speak and sway Chanyeol into giving up his place in the arrangement broke Baekhyun two days after the initial news of the rooming plan came about, giving the brunet no choice but to go to one of the giant’s practices. It was beyond his normal activity, however, to step foot in the gymnasium after he was free to leave school grounds with no penalty at all. When he walked inside, he immediately felt eyes on him because of the fact that his presence stood out, and if it wasn’t for the coach that blew his whistle and yelled at the team to continue on, Baekhyun would have continued on being the center of attention.
Quietly, he stepped onto the bleachers and sat three rows in. No one came around to ask him if he had any business there because the brunet had put on an aura that told everybody that he didn’t wish to be bothered by anyone at all except for the giant who didn’t care whether or not Baekhyun appreciated his company. Occupying himself with music and online articles, time passed until the basketball team was given a short break.
The first person to approach him was his date, the captain of the team, Kris Wu, but Baekhyun ignored his questions, pretending as though he didn’t hear any of it as he took his ear buds out and began putting it all away. Baekhyun knew that the guy was only attempting to be friendly, but he entered the establishment with an objective, and unfortunately for Kris, he was not part of it.
When the captain tried to approach him once again, the giant who Baekhyun was waiting for came around and tried to jokingly brush his friend off. Once his attempts failed to subtly hint to Kris that he was not wanted, Chanyeol plastered a smile on his face before grabbing Baekhyun by the arm and gently guiding him down the bleachers.
As the giant led him away to a place more secluded, Baekhyun looked back and saw Kris watching them with a questioning look on his face as they went. Then the brunet looked away, turning his thoughts from those who were watching and to the man gently holding onto his arm.
Once in seclusion behind the large bleacher structure, Chanyeol reluctantly let go and hurried to use the towel around his neck to wipe away the downpour of sweat all over his face. “Hold on, give me a minute,” he said, subtly laughing out of embarrassment for appearing so wet compared to the perfect vixen in front of him. “This isn’t exactly how I imagined looking like for the first time that you actually come and see me.”
Giving the giant a small smile, Baekhyun watched his nervousness seep out of him like the sweat on his body. “How’d you imagine it to be like, then?” he asked out of curiosity.
“I don’t know,” Chanyeol replied, grinning sheepishly. “I think in my fantasies I looked more presentable and less like this.”
“You’ve seen me with no makeup and with just as much sweat on my face that day at the market store,” Baekhyun said as he shrugged. “I think it’s already fair to say we’ve seen each other at our worst.”
Shaking his head, Chanyeol hung the towel around his neck, but continued to hold on to both ends with his hands. “That wasn’t your worst. That was your best. I mean, if my opinion means anything, which it should. If not, then it should start meaning something, at least.”
Baekhyun snorted at the ramble of words and went quiet for a few seconds before he pursed his lips together again, chewing on the bottom. “Well, listen. First, I’m sorry for Kyungsoo’s hostility towards you the other day. Don’t take it to heart. He was upset.”
Heaving his shoulders, Chanyeol nonchalantly shrugged. “That’s okay. I’m assuming that that’s how he is. Plus, he’s your ex and your best friend, so I’m not expecting to be treated like an ally or anything—”
“You’re taking it to heart.”
Sighing out a breath of air, Chanyeol gave the brunet a look. “Right…Well, I’m just saying. I don’t think I’m the only one that took that afternoon to heart, Baek. He seemed too pissed over a rooming arrangement for a three-day getaway—or ‘three-day trip to Hell’ as he’s been quoting it as.”
Digging his hands into his back pockets, Baekhyun gave a lame nod. “I guess, but like I said. That’s how he is. He stresses over details and finds comfort knowing I’m willing to listen…” He paused for a while, glancing away before he looked back up. “Anyways, now that I’ve apologized on Kyungsoo’s behalf, I’m here to actually ask that you file a complaint against me to the teachers in charge of this retreat.”
Chanyeol blinked, thrown out of the issue’s focus. “What?”
Baekhyun tried again. “It’s really easy. I’ve done this before on other field trips in the past,” he said calmly. “All you need to do is tell a retreat supervisor that you have a problem with me and that it’s completely unsolvable. Tell them that you don’t feel as though you can be civil with me.”
Drawing his brows together, Chanyeol frowned. “Why would I do that?”
“If you do that, then they’ll either move you or me out of the cabin. Chances are, they’ll change either one of us with a nearby cabin and since we’re cabin thirty, cabin thirty-two is right behind us, so they’ll most likely choose to interchange between the two.”
The giant’s eyes were drawn to the ground and Baekhyun could see the defined lines of the jock’s jaw, knowing all too well that Chanyeol was thinking hard about a matter that irritated him to a slight point. “This is for Kyungsoo, isn’t it? He’s in thirty-two.”
Trying to make it seem as though it was nothing to bicker about, Baekhyun gave an uncommitted nod. “Yes. Yes, he is.”
“Did he ask you to do this?”
“He may have,” Baekhyun admitted.
Lifting a hand up to his jaw, Chanyeol rubbed harshly as his mind lingered. “See, there’re six people in each cabin. Why does he have to single me out? Why can’t he pull another student in cabin thirty?”
“I don’t know,” the brunet replied, mumbling under his breath. “I know Kyungsoo, but I don’t know him enough to know how his mind works every moment of the day.”
It took a few minutes before Chanyeol asked, “Do you want to do this? Would it really bother you to sleep in the same room as me? Does it bother you just as much as it bothers Kyungsoo?”
“It doesn’t affect my life,” Baekhyun platonically said. “The sleeping arrangement is near irrelevant to me at this point.”
Biting his bottom lip, Chanyeol put his hands on his waist as he hung his head and began pacing in the area that they were at. Then, he looked up at the high gymnasium ceiling. “Look, I don’t know. I don’t know what to do with this because the matter is…” He stopped to give his attention back to the brunet who was watching him just as well. “This is the way I see it. All I’m looking forward to on this trip is getting closer to you. The fact that something happened and now I’m in the same cabin with you makes me really happy. Of course, it’s not ideal. There’ll be four other people in there, but I’m okay with that. It’s just...I don’t know if I’m willing to give this up.”
With his shoulders slanted, Baekhyun gave Chanyeol a sympathetic look. “Chanyeol, it’s just a cabin. We’ll only be sleeping in there. It’s not going to make a big difference whether or not we share. Chances are, with all the stupid activities that they have planned, we’ll see each other then.”
Heaving in a breath, Chanyeol looked troubled as he looked up at the ceiling again. “I don’t know…You have a point, but let’s face it, you’re probably going to try and avoid me during the day, right? You don’t like being seen with me in front of our classmates and all that.”
With his mouth shut together, Baekhyun glanced down on the floor, silently agreeing with the implications Chanyeol concocted about his future behavior. Sprayed clear of doubt, Baekhyun knew that Chanyeol had hit the mark in knowing how he was going to be treated the following weekend. However, it wasn’t for the reason that he was ashamed to be seen with the giant. It was the other way around with the brunet unwilling to burden the jock with whispers behind his back.
“You already know how it is, Chanyeol.”
“Yeah, but I don’t like it,” the giant responded with a smile that made the brunet feel guilty for having brought it on upon himself.
A few seconds passed, but it felt like a type of eternity for Baekhyun who felt relieved upon hearing the basketball coach blow him whistle, loudly announcing for the team to gather again. He had nothing else to say. His objective had been reached and successful, but the man in front of him created a funnel of side issues and arguments that Baekhyun hadn’t prepared for when he stepped through the gymnasium doors.
As if sensing Baekhyun’s decreasing comfort level with their strained conversation, Chanyeol took it upon himself to start backing away and allowing the brunet to own a bit more space. Then, realizing how he seemed to have put the petit boy in a dry situation and under a heated spotlight, giant stopped before changing his mind and quickly walking over to pull the detached isolationist into a fleeting embrace.
“For you, I’ll think about it,” he said, whispering against Baekhyun’s ear before he pulled away by an arm’s length. “If it’ll stop Kyungsoo from bothering you to do this, then fine. I’ll think about it. I might even talk to him, but you have to keep in mind that I’m not doing this because I want to. Understand that, alright?”
He cupped one side of Baekhyun’s face for a moment before he gave him a soft pat on the cheek and backed off. “I have to go back now. Come back and see me practice some other time if you want. Just don’t come in here bringing up other people, alright? Come for me. Do that and I’ll be happy for the day!”
And with that, he left Baekhyun to stand alone behind the seclusion of the bleachers.
There was a war that went on inside of him and it reminded Baekhyun of the stalemate that went on in World War 1. Stuck between two opposing forces that both clawed for him to sway in their own unique path kept the brunet awake longer than he would’ve liked on nights where he preferred to only decompress and sleep off all his troubles. He couldn’t understand why his entire existence kept the giant in consideration with all his decisions despite the fact that prior to letting the man accompany him every afternoon for their short lunch break, Baekhyun never cared much for the jock's opinion or his feelings. If Chanyeol hadn’t confessed or began the effort to pursue him, Baekhyun would’ve chosen Kyungsoo and filed a complaint against Chanyeol himself.
But he didn’t. There wasn’t an inch in his body willing to initiate the process of filing the complaint Kyungsoo requested to be done.
With no offense meant to hurt, Baekhyun currently thought Chanyeol was enough to be comparable to a large leech that had latched itself onto him. A part of the brunet couldn't bear to rip the animal off despite knowing all too well that as harmless as it seemed, it was going to make him weaker. The other side of him demanded for the riddance of the leech’s existence, but the more Baekhyun thought about it, the less important it became to choose one decision over the other.
He was going to weaken or bleed either way.
With his computer on his lap and gum smacking in his mouth, Kyungsoo propped himself on Baekhyun’s bed where the mattress met with the corner of one of the walls. If he had the strength in him to do as he openly pleased to complain, Baekhyun would request for the man to move, but he couldn’t. With a magazine on world politics covering his entire face, the brunet settled with having the company of Kyungsoo’s rear five inches to the left and having to share his pillows with the president’s cheeks.
“So, my vice president finally resigned,” Kyungsoo said as he typed up a monthly report to give to the class supervisor. “Good news for the secretary, I suppose.”
Baekhyun hummed beneath his magazine as he lazily responded.
“However, that leaves me on man down… I guess I have you to rely on.”
Pulling the magazine from his face just enough for the sole purpose of making eye contact with his friend, Baekhyun sighed. “Kyungsoo, you know that I’m not interested in doing any work for student government.”
“You won’t be doing it for student government. You’d be doing it for me,” Kyungsoo replied. “There’s a difference.”
“Absolutely,” Baekhyun mumbled rather sardonically.
“I don’t like your tone.”
“I don’t like doing work stacked into my arms by the school,” the brunet quickly retorted.
“Neither do I,” Kyungsoo said, snatching the magazine off of Baekhyun’s face and slapping it on the male’s chest. “Things, however, need to get done. I hate doing this shit as much as the next guy, but someone has to suffer in order for things to proceed onwards. You and I both know that.”
Baekhyun glanced over at Kyungsoo’s face before moving his attention towards the white ceiling. “Why does suffering have to precede progress? It’s unnecessary.”
“Because that’s how the world fucking works,” Kyungsoo simply replied. “It’s as though living on this planet is like working in a school-assigned group full of lesser-minded apes, you know. I don’t want to do the work assigned, but what other choice do I have? The fact that you’re available to help me whenever I need you is a plus.”
With his lips curved in a small, shy grin, Baekhyun closed his eyes. “Whatever.”
“You’re always serious.”
“There’s never a time to unwind,” Kyungsoo defended. “Like I said, progress involves suffering, but I’ll also add that it involves change. I have to change my mentality and my preference to get all this pointless shit done on time. You know, I’d rather be fucking you or just having sex with some bimbo in general than to type in a report about what the class has been doing all quarter and what projects we’ve set up and successfully executed.”
“I’m flattered,” Baekhyun said uninterestedly as he rolled over on his side and pulled a blanket over himself. “But I’d rather sleep than have sex with you again.”
Side glancing down at Baekhyun for a moment, Kyungsoo scoffed. “Of course,” he yawned, staring back at his screen again. “Don’t allow yourself to become hiked over a statement. I’m just saying, but I already know your interests have been lying elsewhere recently.”
“What interests?” Baekhyun tiredly muttered back.
Rolling his eyes, Kyungsoo reflexively saved his work in progress. “With Chanyeol,” Kyungsoo clarified. “I expected you to put him down after a day, but look at you. You’ve let the snail slowly gain yards.”
Typing away, Kyungsoo asked, “How’s the complaint business going, anyhow?”
Snapping his eyes open, Baekhyun heaved a sigh. “He said he’d think about it.”
“He better, because I will not be subjected to this poor arrangement,” Kyungsoo growled.
“Then… why don’t you file a complaint?” Baekhyun inquired, turning until he was flat on his back again. “File one against your cabin mates.”
“I can’t. I have an image to maintain and how would it look for the beloved president to file a complaint against a student who doesn’t even know how much I actually hate them?” Kyungsoo asked rhetorically. “I’d rather get on my knees and be submissive than to lose that stature.”
Snorting, Baekhyun shook his head at the statement. “Why do you have to try so hard, Kyungsoo? I see your desperation every day and I don’t like seeing it sometimes. I’m just telling you.”
For a short while, Kyungsoo paused, neither moving nor speaking. Then he slowly took an intake of breath in and let it out. “I do this… so that one day, when I’m finished building myself up, I won’t have to anymore. Let’s face it, Baekhyun. The real reason why people want to become successful is so that they’ll never have to do more labor than they need to in order to pay the bills and get what they want. I’ll put myself through this now, because that’s one of the only things pushing me towards it all. I don’t want to struggle.”
Before Baekhyun could make a comment, Kyungsoo cut him off. “This is why I worry about you sometimes, and it’s not because I’m your ex. It’s because you’re my best friend. I understand how you think school is absolute shit, which it is. Don’t misunderstand. The unfair allowance the athletic department gets with our school district budget is fucking ridiculous. They get more money than actual curriculums, which I will never understand because sports have sponsors. Why the fuck does the district need to fund these mentally handicapped idiots who think they’re the shit just because they can throw a ball a few yards down a field of fucking grass!? That’s the thing. There’s no reason to, and that’s one of the reasons why, yes, school is a bottomless pit of stupidity, cloaked behind a falsified mission statement.”
He paused. “However, I believe that you need to suck it up and just do it. You don’t need to like everyone at school, of course. I think everyone’s an over-privileged piece of shit except you and Luhan, but just do the work because once graduation comes, you’re free to flip them all off and never have to see a single one of them ever again. I do recommend you go onto college and all. I know you’re smart. I wouldn’t have liked you if I thought you were a waste of my intellect. You should do something with it. It’d be a shame if you never used your intelligence properly, you know… Success is attainable for anyone willing to seek it through effort… and that is why I spend much of my time running around like a headless chicken doing reports, essays, presentations, extra credit opportunities, and other events that’ll differentiate me from others who are otherwise less motivated than I am. That’s how it all works—at least for me.”
Baekhyun wallowed in Kyungsoo’s words, letting it become soaked in his mind before he slowly pushed himself up and sat with his back hunched tiredly. Then, rubbing his eyes, he turned his head in Kyungsoo’s direction, meeting the president’s gaze almost immediately. After a few seconds trickled past them, he asked, “What’s the definition of success?”
Kyungsoo moved his eyes away. “It’s a vague word. Success could mean being financially safe. Others believe that finding love and being able to start a family is the greatest success a person could ever have, even if it means lacking the financial security…”
“Then what’s your definition?”
Grimly laughing the question off, Kyungsoo finished a sentence before turning his face towards Baekhyun again. “I’m only a high school student. My definition of success, like all others, means having lots of money, but let’s be honest. That’s not a real definition. That’s ground work for the building of a truer definition.” Flicking Baekhyun on the cheek with his middle finger, Kyungsoo scoffed. “Ask me again in a few years. Maybe then I’ll know what I want besides the selfish obvious.”
Baekhyun gave the basketball player a clock of nearly twenty-four hours to roll around the idea of filing the complaint Kyungsoo wanted so badly, but, as always, the giant failed the brunet’s expectations. The hour hand of the clock in the Baekhyun’s room had only swung a full round after his best friend had left the house when the music on the brunet’s phone came to a slow, dulling sound as the sound of an incoming call took place.
Seeing Chanyeol’s name flash upon the LCD screen was surprising. Despite his growing rebellious ways, Chanyeol never broke from the thirty minute window in which he was allowed to contact Baekhyun however he liked. The fact that it was nearly ten at night gave Chanyeol no reason to be bothering him, but the isolationist slid to answer the call anyhow.
And he didn’t know why.
“Oh, you actually picked up.” There was a small pause and Baekhyun knew that Chanyeol was checking to see if he had called the correct number. “I wasn’t sure you were going to take the call. It’s not four.”
“You interrupted my music. I might as well have taken this call,” Baekhyun said, sighing. “Now, why’re you calling so late?”
“Well, I just wanted to tell you that I thought about the cabin situation and…”
Sitting up on his bed, Baekhyun listened closely. “And?”
The brunet blinked. “I don’t understand.”
“It’s really simple, Baek,” Chanyeol laughed. “I’m not filing one against you. I don’t want to. That’s lying, and for what? So Kyungsoo won’t have to be in the same cabin as Jongin, Sehun, and Kris? I thought about it, and, well, he’ll be fine. He can suck it up.”
Slanting his shoulders, Baekhyun pursed his lips, knowing all too well how the news would not sit well with the student body president. “Chanyeol—”
“Listen, the only reason why he doesn’t want to be in there is because he has absolutely no authority over Jongin! I know him. He’s on the soccer team. Cute and friendly as Kyungsoo might try and seem, Jongin sees right through that, which is why Kyungsoo threw that fit at us during lunch a few days back,” Chanyeol explained. “The soccer team stayed after practice hours to continue on the field. They’re allowed to do that, but they had to open up the storage trailer, which is something they couldn’t do without a coach or supervisor. Kyungsoo tried to fix the issue. Jongin ignored him and told him to get off his field.”
Sighing, Baekhyun glanced around his room. “How do you know all of this, Chanyeol?”
“I asked around!” the giant said ecstatically. “Anyways, on to Sehun. The deal with him is that he’s privileged. I think that’s about it. Kyungsoo’s shallow reason to hating him is finance related.”
“Finally, there’s Kris, your beloved lunch date, who—”
On the other line, Baekhyun could hear the jock’s deep laughter. “For now, but I won’t forget it!” he said. “As I was saying, Kyungsoo’s problem with Kris lies in two things: height and personality. The height is a subject that doesn’t need any more clarification. It’s the personality. Kyungsoo judges Kris as someone who’s as plastic on the surface as he is. I think it comes from being unable to understand how someone can be so genuinely nice without having an underlying motive. It’s understandable how Kyungsoo might have this inability. He’s so used to being two-sided; it’s hard for him to think outside of that.”
A couple of seconds ticked by before Baekhyun finally spoke once again. “So, I take it you won’t be giving up your cabin space?”
“No. Like I said, Kyungsoo will be fine.” The line went silent for an elongated moment before Chanyeol asked, “Is that okay with you?”
Baekhyun hung his head. “It doesn’t matter to me,” he mumbled. “Anyways, this call’s taking up my time. I’ll talk to you later.”
“But wait!” Chanyeol called out. “Does this mean you’re mad? I mean, if it really bothers you, then I guess I could ask to—”
“Yeah?” the giant answered hesitantly.
“Do me a favor.”
“Hang up?” Chanyeol guessed dejectedly, leaving Baekhyun with the efforts of trying to stifle a laugh.
“At night, just don’t snore. That’s all,” the brunet told him before promptly ending the call.