Conditions and Obligations
Chanyeol was a patient friend even though Baekhyun made sure to make it clear that they were not friend-friends. The giant, however, understood. He only followed Baekhyun’s ground rules about the no speaking policy until he began to question why Baekhyun would allow so and so to speak to him, but never the athlete.
Lunch was one of Baekhyun’s favorite time of the day. After grabbing something to eat at an isolated vending machine at the back of the school, he would resume to spend his time quietly in the very back of the library and lie on the floor to take a nap. If he was lucky on a given day, he would wake up just in time to go right back to class. If not, he’d have to walk back into the classroom and deal with an irritated teacher afterwards.
As he closed his eyes, lying on that library floor on a day like any other where Baekhyun wished to be home and were thankful that everyone had decided to leave the entire room vacant, questions surfaced about his future. To Baekhyun’s credit, just because he didn’t exactly give a shit about the physical school and its adequate instructors didn’t mean he wasn’t concerned about where he would end up.
Being undoubtedly poor and putting all his untapped potential to waste at a factory wasn’t an option that Baekhyun was willing to take. He thought about whether or not he should continue on to University or take a chance at becoming a solo singer. At the moment, life weighed in too hard, depressing him by the amount of choices that he felt were unnecessary for one to make at such an age.
He stopped thinking about it. It wasn’t worth wasting an afternoon on.
Baekhyun tried to sleep, but found that he couldn’t. Although the heat of the weather was seeping through the cracks of the windows on the second story library, it was not lulling him to sleep. In his tired frustration, Baekhyun made a mental note to never think about his depressing future until he absolutely had to, and then proceeded to take out his cellphone and earbuds, drowning himself with the loud ruckus of the raw instrumentals as he stared up at the blank ceiling.
There were so many instances in which Baekhyun dreamed of changing the world, because in his mind, the bar was already set low by the current people in charge. One good—or adequate—change would put him up high above anybody’s league. But to change the world, one needed to take an initiative and Baekhyun was too limited in time and priorities to step out of his box and move to push things in the direction that he would’ve liked on his own.
Being alone was a way for Baekhyun’s mind to decompress. To be interrupted was one of the things he hated. In the midst of one of his playlist, for the first time in a few weeks after purposely trying to avoid him, Baekhyun found himself looking up at Park Chanyeol, who stuck his head out from behind the dark wooden bookshelves of the library.
He said something, but Baekhyun failed to hear anything, only able to read Chanyeol’s lips. When Baekhyun’s blank face gave it away that he wasn’t in the state of hearing, Chanyeol scurried out of hiding and moved into full view. The brunet watched him in passive silence as he walked to where he was lying and crouched down.
“So, I was thinking…” Chanyeol started before he reached over and gently tugged one of Baekhyun’s earbuds out, slightly annoying him. “Sorry. I didn’t think you could hear me.”
The isolationist blankly stared back, countering the happy demeanor of the smiling basketball player who didn’t seem to know or care of the fact that he had interrupted the brunet’s private time during school hours. “I can’t say it’s nice seeing you here, Chanyeol,” Baekhyun woefully mumbled under his breath, roughing up the form of his hair. Pushing himself up on his elbows, he cocked his head. “I thought I told you not to talk to me during school hours.”
Taking it upon himself, Chanyeol took a hold of the bottom of Baekhyun’s hoodie, which had ridden up to show his abdomen, and pulled it back down. “Well, first of all,” the giant calmly began, taking a seat on the floor and crossing his legs, “Sorry. Your, um, belly button was showing. I just thought I’d fix it for you. Second of all, I thought I’d get this entire friendship thing off the ground.”
“It’s school hours,” Baekhyun sighed, giving Chanyeol an all too knowing stare. “What did I tell you about school hours?”
“You told me to only talk to you before school,” Chanyeol said, almost reciting the condition and making it known that he hadn’t forgotten. “I thought that it was doable, which is why I agreed to it, but it took me a while to realize that you’re not here before school starts like everyone else.”
Baekhyun’s face remained stoic. “Why would I come early to this hell hole?”
“Right! But, see, I didn’t know that!” Chanyeol exclaimed with a dumb look on his face as he appeared to look like a defeated pup. “I feel like I’ve been cheated with this entire friendship deal.”
“I did tell you to never settle,” Baekhyun shrugged.
“I’ll keep that in mind for next time, then,” Chanyeol said, forming a grin and attempting to give the brunet a high-five, which he refused to take. “Anyways, what’re you listening to?”
With his face flat, Baekhyun shook his head in dismissal and lied back down on his side with his arm acting as a poor head cushion. “I don’t mean to be rude, Chanyeol, but you should leave me and go eat lunch or something.”
As Baekhyun chose to close his eyes, he secretly wished that the giant beanstalk would heed his demand. But when he peeked a few minutes later, he saw that Chanyeol was still sitting beside him. “Park Chanyeol,” he said as if warning the male.
Ignoring the calling of his name, Chanyeol proceeded to ask, “Do you know how many stars there are in the sky?”
Opening his eyes again, Baekhyun quirked his brows. “A lot.”
“Damn, you’re smart,” Chanyeol sighed in awe.
Baekhyun didn’t know how to feel about the lopsided smile the jock was giving him. It was cute, Baekhyun had to admit, but cute wasn’t his kind of taste. “What do you think you’re doing, Chanyeol?”
“Making small talk.”
Afterwards, Chanyeol kept quiet, turning his attention to the setting around them. Once the giant began picking at the books and pulling them out to read, Baekhyun’s face softened as he tried to rest his eyes once more. His music continued to play, but he had pulled out the buds from his ears, only hearing the faint instruments from the tiny, tiny hole in his headphones.
The atmosphere felt heavy and Baekhyun hated feeling such a thing. In those cases, there always seemed to be some sort of obligation that he felt he had to do. In his case at the moment, the dead space between the giant and him were antsy for words to fill the gap. Although he yearned for Chanyeol to leave, to lift the burden of having to make an attempt to socialize off of him, Baekhyun knew that the chances of the possibility to ever happen was slim to none.
Giving up and conceding to the feeling of being dragged along dirt, Baekhyun begrudgingly pushed himself off the floor and sat up, mumbling curses underneath his breath. Rubbing his eyes, Baekhyun could feel the jock’s attention solely on him and his dishevelled appearance. When he finished, he continued to sit with his legs spread open and shoulders heavily slouched—a complete contrast to Chanyeol’s crossed legs and straight form.
“Are you going to leave?” Baekhyun said in a tired voice. “I can’t sleep with you in here.”
It took a few blinks and seconds for Chanyeol to respond. Looking down at the book in his hand, he pursed his lips inwards as if he was thinking of something more complex than the average thought. “I guess if I’m bothering you then I can,” he finally said, lowly raising his eyes to meet Baekhyun’s.
If there was anything Baekhyun hated, it was to be guilt-tripped. Kyungsoo often knew this, playing the black card as frequently as he saw fit. However, Kyungsoo was a different case only because the two of them knew each other on a personal level. Park Chanyeol was just a stranger with an interest in him, but even all the knowledge in physics and mathematics couldn’t help Baekhyun solve for the x factor that would lead him to find the reason why the giant was making him feel guilty for being cold.
“It’s fine,” the brunet said when Chanyeol began to get up. “It’s fine. You don’t have to leave. I can’t sleep today, anyways.”
“If you’re just saying that, then I should still—”
“Don’t waste my time, Chanyeol,” Baekhyun cut. “Sit back down.”
Complying to the order for once, Chanyeol nodded as he took a seat on the floor again. Coiling his headphones to a moderate size, Baekhyun put his devices back in his pocket before wiping under his eyes to swipe any possible running of his eyeliner. “I usually don’t do this, but…”
Chanyeol waited. “Yes?”
Taking in a deep breath and letting it out, Baekhyun pulled his legs together against his chest. “Tell me about yourself?”
Chuckling, Chanyeol leaned against the book shelf. “Honestly, do you care?” he asked, smiling.
“Maybe when you start talking,” Baekhyun shrugged.
With the grin on his face, Chanyeol inhaled, glancing upwards at the ceiling as he thought. “Well, I’m only playing basketball now because I’m looking to get a few scholarships and all from different places so I won’t have to pay for University when I get there. I actually want to be a teacher—”
Clutching his chest, Baekhyun made a face. “Why!?”
Chanyeol laughed. “Why not? I like school. I like the people. It’s not too bad if you think about it.”
Rubbing the side of his head with both hands, Baekhyun hummed in objection. “I’ve thought about it too much, which is why I have headaches almost every day. Why you actually like this place, I’ll never understand.”
“Why don’t you like it?” Chanyeol asked, turning the conversation towards Baekhyun. “School’s okay, you know.”
“School,” Baekhyun emphasized, “is a mental institution.”
“Aw, don’t say that—”
“It really is, Chanyeol,” the brunet calmly asserted. “What’s so good about it?”
Sheepishly grinning, Chanyeol shrugged. “The basketball program’s really nice.”
“Ah, the basketball program,” Baekhyun said slowly, hinting a sense of mock. “That’s where all the funding goes to. I know because the school’s Academic Decathlon program was terminated last year from lack of money.”
“I didn’t know that,” Chanyeol said, frowning slightly. “I didn’t even know we had an Academic Decathlon program.”
“Well, we did, and now you know.”
A second passed before Chanyeol asked, “How’d you know about it?”
Nonchalantly heaving his shoulders, Baekhyun ran a hand through his hair, breaking eye contact with the basketball player. “I was captain.”
Part of school participation meant being involved and Baekhyun wasn’t in favor of any of it. However, there were times when the brunet couldn’t avoid obligation and all, especially with Kyungsoo constantly dropping work bombs on him more often than not.
The president was in the grace of the isolationist’s mother. Baekhyun was well aware of his mother’s lack of knowledge in Kyungsoo’s habits, but nonetheless, he was a prodigy saint at the brunet’s household. Even a dark wooden door couldn’t keep the president at bay despite how Baekhyun made it painstakingly clear that the purpose of doors was to separate the public and the private, therefore knocking was essential.
But Kyungsoo never cared much for the boundaries set up by the drawn-back male.
Lugging behind him an entire Rilakkuma mascot costume, Kyungsoo made it a big deal as he shoved himself inside Baekhyun’s sanctuary one afternoon, giving only one or two thoughts about how the latter might’ve felt with his intrusion. By the look on the boy’s face, it was obvious that Baekhyun felt the president’s heavy drift.
Dropping everything on the floor, Kyungsoo scowled. “I looked over the applications for the school festival events and when I looked at your class’, I didn’t seem to see your name on any of the sign up lists for the jobs.”
“I didn’t sign for anything at all,” Baekhyun responded. “That wasn’t a mistake.”
Striding over to Baekhyun’s desk and taking a seat in the male’s swivel chair, Kyungsoo crossed his arms. “You need to participate. It’s part of a grade that you need.”
Groaning, Baekhyun set down the book he was reading and sat up on his bed. “I don’t care—”
“Neither do I,” Kyungsoo quickly snapped. “This entire shitfest can burn in hell for all I care, but even I have to stick my head out of my own ass and see this through. The show needs to go on, and as president, I have to lug around this entire circus until the show is over. I’ve set aside my preservations and you will too. You’re wearing the costume. It fits with your class’ cute Lolita maid theme.”
Baekhyun began to protest. “Kyungsoo—”
“Also, I spent an entire paycheck buying that,” the president said, giving Baekhyun a deadpan look. “Unless you want to pay me back, I suggest you suck up your balls and wear it next week. It’ll be painful, but damn it, Baekhyun, it’ll be a lot less painful than being in my position and having to deal with all this shit.”
Seeing the pure stress flair in the male’s eyes swerved Baekhyun’s reserve. Dragging his feet always made him lowly, especially when he knew that the task at hand was doable, despite being painful. “Fine…”
Letting out a breath, Kyungsoo nodded and stood back up on his feet. “Good. All you have to do is wear that for one shift. That’s all. After that, you can leave.”
“It’s going to be hot.”
“Good thing you’ll be the first one to wear that, then,” Kyungsoo said, tapping Baekhyun’s cheek twice. “You don’t have to deal with the body odor of another person.”
“It could’ve been shittier.”
Maybe it was out of bad habit that was developing faster than Baekhyun secretly liked, but Chanyeol began to bring his home lunch to the back of the library daily. It was to a point where it was no longer Baekhyun’s time to fall asleep and reenergize for three more hours of lectures, but rather, a time for Chanyeol to fill with mindless talks about topics that didn’t really interest Baekhyun personally, but kept him amused nonetheless.
“For my class, we’re doing a dunking booth for the first session,” Chanyeol had proudly said as Baekhyun ate half of the giant’s bento box with his permission, “but for our second event, we’ll be doing a bidding contest where we bid off certain people to buy the bid winners lunch or something like that.”
“Sounds interesting,” Baekhyun commented as he chewed. “I’m glad I’m not in your class.”
“My class isn’t exactly to your liking,” the giant laughed.
Baekhyun merely shrugged. “Too bad. Are you one of the ones being bid off?”
“Yes,” Chanyeol replied, cheeky. “Hopefully, at least someone will want me.”
“You’re not ugly. I don’t see why not,” Baekhyun said, rolling his eyes.
The jock smiled, touching his chest with a hand. “You think I’m not ugly?” he asked, tilting his head. “Maybe I do have a chance.”
Shaking his head, Baekhyun ignored the remark once he started hearing the tall idiot chuckle. After a while, he should have known that the curious monkey sitting with him was going to ask, “What’re your class doing?”
“A class café,” the brunet said swiftly, trying to dismiss the topic.
“Will I be seeing you in some sort of cross-dressing maid outfit?”
“Not even in your dreams, Chanyeol.”
Quirking his lips, Chanyeol raised his brow. “Then what’re you—”
“I’ll be doing something where you won’t even see me,” Baekhyun offered.
Still curious, Chanyeol kept following the trail of vague hints. “Like?”
Exasperated, Baekhyun sighed. “I’ll be making the things,” he lied.
Smiling, Chanyeol seemed to have taken the answer as truth. “If you’re making it, then I’ll make sure to stop by. What shift will you be working?”
Before he could filter his mouth, Baekhyun let it slip. “First.”
When he realized that he had given the information away so easily to Chanyeol who he knew would try and tag along with him at the time, Baekhyun mumbled his curse and looked down for a moment before raising his eyes back up to meet those of the radiant basketball player’s.
“I’m off for first shift, which means I have free time,” Chanyeol excitedly said. “I’ll come see you, alright?”
“I promise,” the giant went on, holding up a hand, “that whatever I eat, I’ll eat with pride and I’ll thank you for it later.”
“Are you embarrassed?” he prodded.
Drawing his lips in, Baekhyun huffed. “No, I just—I’d rather you don’t come, actually.”
Baekhyun was used to the act in which Chanyeol would act like a kicked pup. For a man his size, it shouldn’t have been cute at all. It should have been somewhat creepy, but the tall player’s appearance overall gave him the demeanor of a child, causing Baekhyun to curse him.
“Fine, but if you see me, don’t talk to me.”
“I don’t like your ground rules,” Chanyeol said, giving Baekhyun a look of doubt. “They always involve me getting the shorter end of the stick.”
“Take it or leave it,” Baekhyun said, giving the ultimatum.
“I’ll take it—for now.” Looking at the time, Chanyeol bobbled his head from side to side. “I can always negotiate terms later.”
Raising his brows at the male’s assertiveness, Baekhyun snorted. “You’re gaining balls with me, Park.”
“I’m a basketball player, Baek. Gaining balls is what I do.”