09: Extra – UnionAmorous Designs
Warning(s): cursing, slightly mature situation
Length: 6.8k words
[ 1 ]
Baekhyun is forever grateful that he only has to spend two years away from Miyoung. As terrible as it already is, he’s actually thankful that a mere two years separates him from seeing Miyoung once more. Her father, after all, has the power to decimate his career. Possibly even his life. Yet, he didn’t. So, as bad enough as the punishment is, it certainly can be a whole lot worse. That doesn’t stop it from hurting all the same, though—especially when his last words to Miyoung were I love you.
God. Oh, god.
Just thinking about it causes him to grow so upset that he feels as if he needs to consume an entire bottle of pain relievers. He’s in so deep that there’s absolutely no going back—not that he has that desire. But it’s earthshakingly devasting! It’s monumentally, emotionally ruining! He loves that girl, that wide-eyed girl with strawberry-flavored lip gloss and a heart of pure ing gold. (Oh, how he would love to kiss her again and again just to get her to blush.) And he can’t see her. He can’t see her. He can’t drive down to her house on the hill, tell her to sit on his lap, her cheek, and swear to her that he’ll protect her from all the world’s dangers. He can’t even tell her he loves her for a second time.
It’s a realization that cuts so deep that he honestly, swear-to-god contemplates about going to a local bar and drinking despite his sobriety. The desire to escape this hellish reality urges him to call Seulgi, and it’s so ing terrible that she doesn’t hang up on him even when he’s incoherently sobbing like he’s dying.
What makes it so much worse is that he has the audacity to think that he could have prevented this. He keeps telling himself—maybe if he hadn’t fallen in love, this wouldn’t have happened. Maybe if he just stopped dating her sooner. Maybe this, maybe that. Truth is, Baekhyun didn’t want to fall in love because he always knew something like this would happen. But now that it’s actually happening, it’s breaking him in all sorts of pieces because there was no way to stop himself from loving that gorgeous girl. Loving her comes easier than the sun rising from the east. It’s almost nature, like the universe has programmed him to love her.
Oh, it hurts. It’s a cut so deep that Baekhyun falls asleep crying on that first day.
However, Baekhyun does know that he has to move on and get his together. He can’t live his life crying and weeping and wishing for another drink. At some point—maybe it’s when he’s at the airport on a flight back to New York City—he does pull himself together. He does smile at the flight attendant. He does start replying to his emails. He does stop thinking about Miyoung and starts thinking about the plethora of cases his firm must want for him to close once he gets back to work.
There’s no kidding about the frequency Miyoung crosses his mind, though.
In the mornings, before he goes back to work, he wonders about what she’s doing back in Korea. If it’s 7AM where he is, then it’s 7PM where she is. Is she studying with a new tutor? Does she like her new tutor? Around this time, she’d be reciting new poetry that she memorized for me… Thinking about Miyoung entertains Baekhyun, sure, but it does make him feel a bit melancholic.
Two years is a long time, after all. In two years, he served his mandatory conscription. In two years, he went from being a shy foreign student to a frat boy who (probably if not literally) drank more beer than water. A lot can happen in two years, and he has seen so much drastic change happen in that period of time that it scares him. As of right now, Miyoung loves him, and he knows that she’s smitten for him, but it’s completely possible that she won’t feel the same way after these two years. What if she falls in love with some idiot in her grade? What if she decides that he isn’t worth waiting for? What if, what if, what if. It drives Baekhyun crazy with anguish.
But again—at the end of every day, he does get over it. He had an alcohol addiction that he relapsed into multiple times until finally reaching six consecutive years of sobriety, for god’s sake, and it was always the first two weeks that were the hardest. But after that, it only ever got easier.
[ 2 ]
“Did you give it to her?” Baekhyun asks, yawning at the end. He meant to call Seulgi before midnight, but it being midnight means that it’s noon in Korea, and that’s when she usually has her lunch breaks.
“I mailed it to her,” Seulgi corrects. “And you know, she hand-delivered me her response.” Baekhyun’s heart flutters at Miyoung’s sweet gesture. He had asked for Seulgi to be the middle-woman since he can’t risk Miyoung’s father to find out about an ongoing form of communication between his daughter. The fact that Miyoung had taken a risk for him speaks enough volume. “You should get it within a few business days,” Seulgi continues. “International express shipping at your service.”
“Thank you,” Baekhyun says, smiling. “That really means a lot, Seul.”
“Of course. You’d do the same, wouldn’t you?” Seulgi snickers as she subtly makes a nod towards how Baekhyun used to do the same with her and Joohyun. Once upon a time, Seulgi wasn’t the fierce heroine of her own story; she was a shy girl still coming to terms with her own uality, and she needed Baekhyun’s help in making a connection with the Korea’s beautiful “it” girl and actress, Bae Joohyun. “And thank Joohyun, honestly. She made realize how much of a I was.” There’s a pause as Baekhyun recollects how Seulgi had called to apologize to him for her behavior. “So,” Seulgi continues, breaking the crackling silence, “how have you been? You haven’t been thinking about drinking again, have you?”
“No, of course not. If I can go seven years without going for a drink, then I go two years without seeing Miyoung.”
“Good. I don’t want to see you going back to your dark side.”
Baekhyun freezes. He has heard Seulgi describe that period of his life through several ways (the worst way was when she called it his “frat boy era”), but something about the subtle danger of “your dark side” causes shivers to scale down his back uncomfortably.
“I don’t ever want you to call it that again,” Baekhyun mutters with distaste. “And let’s not talk about me, okay? How are things between you and Joohyun?”
“Nuh-uh.” Seulgi starts cackling on the other line. “I think it’s important we talk about you and your life as it is.” There’s an ugly pause, but Baekhyun takes it in stride. “It’s on your mind, isn’t it?” Seulgi whispers, her voice mingling with static because of their spotty phone connections. “You’re afraid that she’ll cheat on you or vice versa.”
“Don’t lie to me,” Seulgi cuts. “It happens with everyone in a long-distance relationship.”
“Fine,” Baekhyun surrenders. There’s no use in pretending. He truly is afraid of either scenario happening, but he’s more insecure about Miyoung since he has no way of telling if she’s keeping faithful. “I am worried out of my mind, Seul.”
Seulgi’s reply is teasing. “Is the great Byun Baekhyun insecure? For once?”
Baekhyun rolls his eyes. “I’m like anyone else. I get insecure too. I just don’t show it. You know,” he takes a breath, “I haven’t felt this possessive since I got my first car.” Seulgi bursts out laughing, but it’s true to a tee. When Baekhyun got his first car, he would only eat in places with nice windows so he could see his car sitting in the parking lot without having to worry someone was going to steal it—even if that beloved car was a beat-up secondhand Toyota Prius. “I just feel it,” Baekhyun mutters. “This sense to let everyone know they can’t have her because she’s mine.” He shakes his head in shame. “And she’s not. She’s hers, and she doesn’t belong to anyone.”
“You’re sweet even when you’re in pain,” Seulgi remarks. “I think you just need to give it a few more weeks. I felt like that when Joohyun and I started dating but not publicly.”
“And how’d you get over it?”
“I don’t know. I mean, I still haven’t gotten over the fact that she’s my girlfriend, so…”
Baekhyun smiles at that. It seems as if even the fierce Kang Seulgi does have a soft side. “So,” he continues to change the subject, “what’s been going on Jieun?” His heart races when he says her name and not in a good way. “Is she staying quiet?”
“Funny you asked,” Seulgi mutters in response. “She’s been staying quiet about you and Miyoung, but she’s been trying to move onto doctors now.”
“I don’t care enough to know how to elaborate,” Seulgi finishes. Baekhyun pictures her curling her lip in disgust. “Meanwhile, speaking of our celebrity friends, Chanyeol was looking for you at Joohyun’s birthday party.”
Baekhyun raises his brows in surprise. He can’t, for the life of him, ever forget Chanyeol when he first met him at Joohyun’s Christmas party. The man, after all, sported platinum-colored hair. “Really?” Baekhyun asks. “Why?”
“I don’t care enough to know how to elaborate,” Seulgi echoes. “He’s bad news anyways.” She lowers her voice as if to preserve a secret. “There’s a rumor going around with my friends that he likes getting it on with married women or women that are already in relationships.”
“Yikes,” Baekhyun mumbles, physically wincing.
“Yeah, and he’ll probably get away with it since he the Park Chanyeol which is the grossest part.” Seulgi says something in Korean, and Baekhyun assumes that she’s speaking to someone else. When she returns, Baekhyun can almost hear the roll in her eyes. “You know, as disgusting of a jerk Chanyeol can get, he makes some good points. Do you know what he said to me?”
“No, what’d he say?”
“He told me, no one needs to know everything,” Seulgi says, lowering her voice to mimic Chanyeol’s. “It means nothing, but at the same time—whoa. It’s dangerous to think about that.” Baekhyun frowns when he realizes just what that statement implies. “He was talking about cheating during a poker game,” Seulgi continues, “but that applies to relationships too. It’s probably a whole lot easier to cheat on someone than it is to stay faithful.”
“Seul, why are you talking like this? Are you suggesting that I’ll cheat on Miyoung?”
“Of course not, but listen to me!” Seulgi hisses, irritated that Baekhyun interrupted. “He’s right. No one needs to know everything. If you think about it, you could easily kiss a random girl at a bar and live your life the next day like nothing happened.”
Baekhyun pauses as he rethinks the statement. No one needs to know everything. It is true despite the ethical dilemmas that arise with its implications. If Miyoung wants to, she can easily kiss some random boy in her class, wait the rest of their two years guiltlessly, and Baekhyun will never know of anything because she’ll never really have to disclose it with him. The thought is so ugly that Baekhyun literally feels like he’s going down with the stomach flu.
“Well, I have to get going,” Seulgi says, breaking Baekhyun out of his trance. “Lunch is almost over.” Baekhyun glances over to the alarm clock on his nightstand. It’s nearly 12:30AM. “Tell me when you’re free so I can call you again.”
They hang up on each other, leaving Baekhyun to stare at the ceiling of his humble Brooklyn apartment. Two years is a long time, and it feels even longer when those two years include an insane level of trust. He loves Miyoung and trusts her, but—well, Baekhyun doesn’t want to go there; he can’t possibly doubt Miyoung’s love for him. Still, it troubles him enough, and he only gets sleep by clutching onto a pillow and pretending that it’s Miyoung in his arms. When he wakes up, disappointment—of course—greets him with a silky hand that also happens to be his duvet.
[ 3 ]
Word gets out in the firm that Baekhyun is “finally” dating someone because he stops going out for the infamous dinner occurring at the last Friday of every month. And these aren’t normal dinners either; they’re cocktail parties with lawyers and other white-collar workers. It’s one of Joohyun’s parties, essentially—but with less of a budget, less actors, and more, well, white people.
Minseok, his closest friend in the firm, talks to Baekhyun about his newfound reluctance to attend these function that he once loved frequenting.
“You sure you don’t want to come?” Minseok asks like he’ll get Baekhyun to change his mind. “It’s going to be fun even if you don’t talk to any girl.”
Baekhyun shakes his head, adamant on staying home. “I don’t feel comfortable going to a party regardless.”
“It’ll be fun,” Minseok reiterates, raising his brows as he nudges Baekhyun on the shoulder. They’re one of the last ones to exit the firm—save for a few paralegals, a few partners, and the managing partner. Normally, they wouldn’t be so brash about talking about a party, but it is Friday, and it is the monthly party exclusive only to those who made over 150 thousand USD in yearly salary. “And besides, you can play pool with me and the Harvard crew—or the Yale crew, you name it.”
“I think I’ll pass.”
“You loved going to these,” Minseok continues to press playfully. “And what about all those girls you hung with?” He motions his hand as if those unnamed girls even matter. “You can go have a little fun with them.”
“I’m not going, Minseok.” Baekhyun laughs as he shoves his friend to the side as they step in the elevator going downstairs. “The only reason I went to those parties was to,” Baekhyun pauses, hesitant to say the term, “you know—hook up. I’m not interested in that anymore.”
“Fine, don’t hook up with anyone, but you can still play pool with me.”
Baekhyun just smiles. “Have fun without me, Min.”
Minseok does nothing to hide his disappointment. He scrunches his nose and crosses his arms. “Why can I never get you to change your mind? It’s one of your best traits, but goddamn is it annoying.”
“I promise,” Baekhyun reassures his friend, “that I’ll start going back to those parties when I can bring my girlfriend to them.”
“Sure,” Minseok murmurs, undoubtedly skeptical of Baekhyun’s promise.
When Baekhyun and Minseok exit the elevator and bid each other farewell for the weekend, Minseok goes to his private car service—something about the perks of his recent raise—and Baekhyun waits by the street for a cab. It’s around this time that one of the paralegals at his firm approaches him, her heels clicking against the stone pavement.
He doesn’t have to turn his head to know who it is. Only a few people in New York know what his birthname is, and even less know how say it properly. Baekhyun turns to see Suzy walking towards him, and lifts his hand to wave. “Hey,” he says good-naturedly. “You waiting for a cab too?”
“Yeah,” Suzy replies with a nod.
And that’s all she says. Yeah.
It’s a little comedic, a little tragic, but mostly comedic, so Baekhyun stands there with a knowing smile as Suzy stands beside him. When one of the partners hired her, Baekhyun and Minseok—both being Korean—were some of the first to welcome her since she shared the same ethnic roots as they do. Suzy made quick friendships with the rest of the paralegals with the aid of Baekhyun’s well-known office amicability, and that was that. They weren’t and still aren’t quite “friends”—more like work acquaintances. Still, from Baekhyun’s experience, no one needs to be friends in order for a crush to develop from one person.
Perhaps it’s egotistic, but Baekhyun isn’t so clueless as to not realize that the paralegal down the hallway from the associate offices has a liking to him.
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