The recreational building was larger than Baekhyun thought it would be, but the space was just what he needed. When they walked in, he took the opportunity to separate from the giant. The moment they entered, an advisor told the two to join the crowd of students all focused in on one speaker in the middle of the indoor basketball court.
By will, Baekhyun walked slower than the athlete who could sense what the activity was and walked a little faster than the brunet. Chanyeol joined his own group of friends and only paused when he realized that he had left Baekhyun’s side without so much as a single thought. By the time he looked over his shoulder, Baekhyun had drawn his eyes away and approached Luhan who welcomed him with smile and a hand to his back.
When the soft blond leaned over and whispered things into the brunet’s ear, which essentially caused the lips that never brightened to curve into a small grin, Chanyeol felt some sort of pang before Kris pulled his attention away and towards the man in the center of the floor.
“Like I said before, basketball is a sport that’ll help build teamwork, because in order to win, the players must work together.”
There were a lot of things Baekhyun would've liked to refute with that statement. As he watched the man toss the orange ball as if to emphasize his point that teamwork was the holy grail of all solutions, he mentally made notes that went against the idea. In Baekhyun’s view, anything could be accomplished by individual merits and skill.
Voices around him began to sputter like white noise as his focus drifted to thoughts unrelated to his current environment. Before he knew it, the sea of students began to thin like diluted blood and Baekhyun was guided to one side with Luhan as his company. When his focus came back, he noticed that the student body had been split into four groups and he was suddenly herded to a box where he was instructed to pull out a red jersey.
His attention span was never such a thing that elongated for a lengthy basis whenever it concerned school, but Baekhyun figured that perhaps if he had listened, he would’ve been able to understand what the hell was happening. As half the student body sat down, it then occurred to him that he was on a team that was to play first.
Darting his eyes to the kids who took seats on the benches near the wall, he contemplated discarding his jersey and rushing over to blend himself in as one of those who had to sit out for the first run. Before he could side on a decision, he was pressured by the event counselors with their repetitive claps and cheers into going with the flow they intended to shove him toward in the first place. With Luhan’s help, he was able to rid of his damp, rain-spotted jacket and managed to successfully slip the red jersey on over his plain white shirt.
While Luhan ran to the side to drop off his one piece of clothing item, Baekhyun scanned the opposing team for the giant’s familiar face only to find that Kris and a few people he had tutored in the past were the only ones he recognized. As his teammates scattered and the other team walked to their end of the court, Baekhyun grimaced, turning his head to the side and spotting the athlete coyly giving him a grin (or smile—whatever that was). It was abundantly apparent how the latter thought it was amusing to watch the brunet struggle with his current situation, but Baekhyun found nothing to smile about.
He expected nothing, opting to stand by as the game went on. The only footwork he persisted on doing were moves that kept him out of the way of the ball and other players. The activity wasn’t much any different from the physical education class offered at school—or so Baekhyun noticed as he received an equivalent amount of shouts from bystanders who kept on repetitively telling him to participate.
In his attempt to stifle the commands, Baekhyun resorted to jogging back and forth in order to put on the appearance of being actively participating. In the norm, Kyungsoo would be able to manage a lie or two in order to pull the latter from any physical activity that he didn’t wish to do, but the alignment of stars and fate didn’t seem to be in favor of Baekhyun’s wishes that day.
Perhaps too lost in his thought, Baekhyun’s divided attention gave a loose ball’s opportunity to smash into the right side of his head, knocking him forward until he took a knee to the ground. There was the initial wave of disorientation hitting him before he slowly rose from the ground, noticing the way all attention was riding on him. He heard a voice asking him if he was alright despite how faded it sounded to his ears, and in turn, he nodded, picking up the ball and throwing it to a capable player, uncaring whether he had just given a teammate or the opposing team the ball’s possession. He didn’t care.
That was the first and last encounter Baekhyun had with the ball, and he made sure of that. He stopped jogging back and forth, tired of the repetitive and pointless act to please the adults around him. Rather than participate, he merely stood by, eyes following the others who were either enthusiastic to play or too fearful of the judgment of others to decide that they didn’t wish to run and participate.
Once the game ended, Baekhyun was the last—by choice—in his line to give the opposing team their well-deserved hand shake since the lousy make-up of Baekhyun’s own team resulted in the group losing by ten points. By the end of the line, Baekhyun wiped his hand against his jeans and proceeded to walk to the side with his head down.
As he kept his eyes down at his wrists, soothing the joints despite the lack of activity he managed to pull, Baekhyun felt himself being jostled around by passing students walking in the opposite direction towards the court. Assuming that they were students whose turn it was to play, he let it go, only stopping to acknowledge the one boy who took it upon himself to stand directly in Baekhyun’s way.
Looking up, the brunet forced himself to face the large, peering entity grinning down at him as though he was the most amusing little creature on earth. “What’re you staring at?”
Shrugging, Chanyeol snickered. “You know, I could teach you how to play so you won’t just be running around without a clue in the world. It was fun to watch, yeah, but you could be a little better.”
Rolling his eyes, Baekhyun let out a sigh, running a hand through his hair. “I wasn’t looking to play well, anyways, Chanyeol.”
“Alright,” the giant replied, putting a hand on the latter’s shoulder. “Do me a favor next time and pay better attention. Is your head okay?”
“It’s—” Shutting his mouth, Baekhyun kept silent as a voice from behind him called out to the athlete. Afterwards, he decided to move on, attempting to sidestep the other, but finding that Chanyeol wasn’t done with him as of yet.
Grabbing Baekhyun by the waist, Chanyeol kept him in place just long enough to give a quick kiss to the brunet’s forehead. Then, before Baekhyun could resort to physical violence, he moved away, smiling at the appalled look on the vixen’s face. “Some people say that I’m a little magical. I thought that I’d speed up the healing process of your bruised forehead.” Letting Baekhyun go, Chanyeol began walking backwards as he slowly joined the rest of his group. “Cheer for me in silence.”
“N—” Baekhyun sighed, quickly moving to take a seat on the side next to Luhan. He had planned to tell the giant no, but with the impending distance that had already been set in place between them, he doubted Chanyeol’s attention would’ve allowed for him to hear it.
Silently, he sat down, eyes glued at the way Chanyeol stood in his position, ready to take the ball if the opportunity came around to it. There was nothing out of the ordinary at the fact that Chanyeol seemed dedicated and enthusiastic about the game, but the wink he gave in Baekhyun’s direction stuck out of the norm.
The shot of adrenaline it gave Baekhyun was euphoric, paralyzing him in his seat. The high was a rush and he felt the corner of his lips twitch, but just as he was about to respond with a small, quiet grin, Baekhyun’s ears caught the sound of the girls and boys around him who giggled and laughed. Whispers as to who it was directed to started circulating and the happiness that he might’ve felt seconds prior dissipated with every word.
As the mystery of who the wink was meant for escalated, the moment others began to openly whisper if it had been for them, Baekhyun looked off. Rather than feel unique in character by the gesture, the brunet felt the opposite. In comparison to the others, he was, admittedly, faded in saturation. There were others who stood out more than him, and to no surprise was it that no one had suspected that Chanyeol’s charming wink was a gift to him. Instead, they all looked for the obvious one, the pretty and the popular ones, but never him. Unsurprisingly.
The rain did nothing to deter Kyungsoo from his anger as he watched the rain fall with hooded eyes. He bore no company to anyone but the silent captain who was leaning on a wooden post with his arms crossed and eyes bearing holes in Kyungsoo’s own. Left alone by the adults who trickled inside the office to finish all paper work and consultation before his departure.
Having snuck a cigarette stuck from one of his bags and a lighter, Kyungsoo quickly lit the stick up, inhaling at the first chance that he could grasp. The effect of the drug played in effect soon after he exhaled. His eyes dragged slowly to Jongin whose eyes were fierce in judgment. Taking advantage of the wind’s direction to piss his porch companion off, Kyungsoo took another inhale, then he jutted out his lips, gently blowing a steady stream of pungent smoke in Jongin’s direction.
Disgusted, the soccer captain moved to the side to escape the flow while covering his nose. “You’re disgusting.”
“Yes, but I don’t necessarily hold the patience to give a fuck,” Kyungsoo replied, emphasizing the last word by blowing the last bit of air harder than the norm. When he finished, he watched the burning end of his cigarette and tilted his head. “Don’t you like the smell of it?”
“No,” Jongin responded, frowning harshly at the stick. “It’s not good and neither is the habit, but I suppose it’s all very fitting for a person like you, isn’t it?”
“How so?” Kyungsoo asked, drawling his word.
“That thing in your hand? That’s a metaphor for—”
Kyungsoo snorted, interrupting. “Is this some self-empowerment bullshit you’re about to spindle and put on a plate to spoon feed me with? If you’re going to quote a line from some mainstream movie or book, there’s a slope just ahead of that road behind you. Throw yourself off it if your point to me includes you trying to prove that you actually read books—why, yes, congratulations, Jongin. You read. What else do I need to—”
“You’re a cancer.”
It took a moment to render the words, but once they passed through his attention, Kyungsoo’s lips thinned. “Excuse me?”
“You’re a cancer and you’re a toxin,” Jongin said, uncaring for the latter’s feelings despite the fact that he was fully aware that he had just struck a soft chord. “You’re fueled on fire and you keep that fire lit by feeding on other people’s weaknesses. And you know what happens to everyone that comes in contact with that shit? Problems. People develop problems like cancer because of that thing in your hand, but in your case, people develop social issues rather. Like Baekhyun?”
“What about him?” Kyungsoo muttered angrily, unconsciously beginning to bend the stick in his hand.
“Chanyeol really likes him, and you know that,” Jongin answered. “And the more Baekhyun interacts with him, the less he’s dependent on you. You’re losing the very person you feed off of to survive. You don’t want to burn out alone so you depend on his company. Just as cigarette’s die, they also take their users down with them, and that’s how it is with your need for him. The feeling of being alone is—”
“I’m using him?” Gripping his hands into fists, Kyungsoo let the ashes of the drug crumble on the back of his hand. He didn’t care. “Well, what the hell do you fucking know!? Who are you, anyways!? You’re just the captain of a goddamn joke! You’re nobody to me, and you’ll always be a fucking nobody whose nose is sticking into business that isn’t his! You’re wasting both of our time standing there like a bitch constantly talking about how narcissistic and cancerous I am when you can’t even take the hint that your existence is worth less than shit to me. I wouldn't bat my lashes if you disappeared off the face of the goddamn earth.”
With chest heaving and the sound of footsteps in the office cabin nearing, Kyungsoo dropped the bent cigarette stick on the porch and crushed it with the tip of his shoe, twisting his foot to kill the small blaze. His eyes were still locked with the latter, but unlike before, they were darker, similar to an animal that had woken from its slumber prematurely and was set to kill.
When he spoke, his voice was rasp, heavily, and eerie to the captain’s ears as the words dripped with a scornful attitude.
“Cancerous and toxic is what you may think I am, but you forget that there’s a reason why people always come back, and that’s called addiction.”