Our Friends Talk (About Us)
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chapter 02  

pretty smart
(but mostly pretty)


Warning(s): none
Length: 11.5k words

[ 1 ]



Being a library assistant isn’t the most exciting job, but it sure is the quietest. That’s why Nami likes it so much. There aren’t a lot of duties except for when students borrow textbooks and misplace them in strange places, leaving for a lot of free time. She gets to peruse through old books that smell like parchment and look like 18th century diaries; she gets to sit in between tall bookshelves, hiding under the cover of literature. It’s not a bad job at all.


When Nami isn’t assisting students or returning books, she’s usually keeping to herself and planning out what the rest of her senior year at the university looks like. As a child of an immigrant, she knows how important it is to have a plan, so she meticulously creates a weekly itinerary of things that she must complete. She cross-references dates with her class syllabi, social calendars, and holidays to ensure that she doesn’t miss out on anything.


Of course, no plan is immune to abrupt changes—especially if that change is the great, belligerent Baekhyun.


At the beginning of the academic year, Nami really thought that she would simply sail through it. She intended to take up an internship at a local news station since she had already been accepted for it. Unfortunately, on one faithful Tuesday afternoon, she received the worst news of her life.


Baekhyun the Blondie—the son of some wealthy South Korean real-estate developer—had been failing a particular class, and the English Department chose her to preside over his tutoring sessions. He should have been kicked out of the university for plagiarism and possession of alcohol last spring, but guys with parents like his don’t just get kicked out of universities. Guys with parents like him always get their way no matter how unscrupulous. So, in spite of his subpar GPA and misconduct, Baekhyun still attends to this university, and worse of all, Nami is stuck with him.


Mondays and Wednesdays are now little death days where Nami feels bits of her sanity slipping out of her body. Not only does she have to review through class notes for a class that she took two year ago, but she also has to deal with Baekhyun’s insufferably short attention span—and the fact that he’s always late.


Like today.


“You’re late. Again,” Nami scolds him. Their new meeting place is the ever-placid Shapiro Courtyard—a serene little alcove of a courtyard nestled in between Dodd Hall and the foreboding Law Department building. Despite its location, however, it’s not hard to find.


Baekhyun the Blondie shrugs a shoulder and dumps his binder and notebook onto the table Nami chose. He reminds her of those so-called “cool kids” in high school who were too self-important to carry a bag or even a pencil, and it bothers her because she knows that he’ll ask her to borrow a pen which he’ll never return if she doesn’t pester him for it. Yeah, she knows the type.


“I was busy,” Baekhyun counters vaguely. He takes off his sunglasses and places them on the table to reveal a squint. His eyes, though brown, seem lighter under the sunlight that filters through the leaves of the surrounding trees. “What are we doing today, shortie?” he asks. “Besides the life-ruining, time-wasting queen that you put me through, of course.”


Nami can only laugh at the insults now. It’s mid-October, and she has gotten used to the names that they call each other.


“Your cultural essay is due next week,” Nami states while Baekhyun opens his notebook. “It’s the easiest of all the essays that you’ll be doing.”




“Last week, I asked you to choose a topic. Did you choose one?”


“Yeah.” Baekhyun pushes his notebook towards Nami, and she peers closely at the page. Only one word has been scrawled at the first line.


“The gaming industry,” Nami reads out loud. For someone like Baekhyun, she half-expected him to choose a topic like… Well, in truth, Nami didn’t even expect Baekhyun to be able to choose a topic for himself. “This will work,” Nami says with a nod. “The gaming industry is definitely a cultural phenomenon. You could talk about its economic impacts too. Microtransactions, for example, have been getting a lot of controversy. And because of gaming, I think streaming has been popping—”


Nami stops herself when she realizes that Baekhyun has started doodling in his notebook. He has his cheek pressed against his fist while his other hand creates figures and shapes across the bottom of a page. He is so engrossed in doodling that he fails to notice Nami staring at him. Baekhyun doesn’t even try to acknowledge that he has been caught distracted once again; he’s blatantly ignoring her, tuning her out since she’s apparently so insufferable to him.


He doesn’t care, Nami reminds herself.


Of course, Baekhyun doesn’t care about anyone but himself. He has the means to get away with selfishness. He doesn’t care that he’s being rude, he doesn’t care that he’s wasting both of their times, and he doesn’t care about a class that he needs to graduate.


“Are you doodling while I’m talking?” Nami demands.


“Yeah,” Baekhyun replies without interest.


Nami scoffs at that. “You need to focus because this really important,” she snaps, crossing her arms. “Don’t you care about graduating?”


Baekhyun doesn’t answer the question, but he does close his notebook loudly, as if he were slapping it.


“Look,” he says in exasperation, “is there anything important that you need to tell me? I wanna go home early today.”


“I’ve been telling you important stuff.” Nami bites her tongue to avoid from swearing all over the place. She just doesn’t understand how much of a procrastinator Baekhyun is. “I literally double major in communications and political science,” Nami says, “so I know how to write well, and I’ve been stating some good subtopics that you should discuss in your essay—which, by the way, has a 10-page minimum.”


“Yeah, and it’s due in two weeks,” Baekhyun says dismissively. He twirls his pen (that Nami recognizes as pilfered from her pencil case) around his fingers and shrugs to add to his too-cool-for-school jock persona. “I’ve got plenty of time.”


“Do you even know what sources you want to use?” Nami challenges. “Name one good website.”




“That’s not a website. That’s a search engine.”


“Whateverrrrrr,” Baekhyun grumbles. “I’ll figure it out. I have two weeks.”


And this why Baekhuyn is so insufferable. He doesn’t care. Straight up, he doesn’t give a . Despite having graduation and a degree on the line, he’d rather just wait until the very last minute to start something so important. However, as much as he doesn’t care, Nami cares. She doesn’t want him to fail the class, of course, because it would reflect poorly on the two of them, and Professor Goyal would be extremely disappointed.


“What subtopics are you choosing?” Nami presses. “Do you have any idea what you want your thesis to look like?”


“I don’t ing know,” Baekhyun replies blatantly. He glares at her like she has somehow wronged him. “I already said I was figuring it out later, didn’t I?”


“That’s not how this works,” Nami states, staring right back at Baekhyun. “You can’t just tell me that you’re doing it later. You need to prove that you have a plan. Otherwise, there’s no point of having meetings every week like this.”


“Then maybe we should stop.” Baekhyun crosses his arms like he’s bargaining for something—which he literally can’t. If the university issues you a pink slip and tells you that you’re in danger of missing out on graduation, there’s no workaround for that. “If this isn’t helpful for either of us, then what’s the point?” Baekhyun asks. “What if I just stopped going to these?”


“Are you—” Nami is astounded. “Are you serious?” she hisses. “Hey, blondie? It’s been a month. There’s no getting out of this.”


“What are you talking about? There’s always a way.”


Nami sighs loudly and rolls her eyes. Of course, Baekhyun found a way to get out of talking about an essay.


“Listen,” Nami says, lowering the volume of her voice, “we’re stuck together until March. There’s no changing that, so it doesn’t matter. What matters is the report that you need to complete by next week.” Nami takes a deep breath and feigns a smile while Baekhyun sits there with a blank expression. “So why don’t we go back to brainstorming for ideas since you clearly don’t have any?”


“I don’t want to.”


It’s impossible to win like this. Nami didn’t even ask Baekhyun take out the pre-prepared outline that she wanted him to write because she knew that he didn’t do it. Now, when she’s asking him to just think of ideas, he can’t do that either.


“So you can’t even think of a good source to use, and now you don’t even want to think of ideas,” Nami summarizes.


“Exactly.” Baekhyun snaps his fingers in confirmation and returns his borrowed pen back to Nami’s pencil case. “Can I go now, shortie?”


Nami stares at Baekhyun for a moment with an unwavering gaze. As an aspiring investigative journalist, she’d love nothing more than to get inside his head and prod for any information explaining as to why he’s so unmotivated. Perhaps he just doesn’t want to talk to her, but it would be easier for him to give half-hearted answers than to argue. Clearly, something else is bothering him, but that’s not good enough of a reason to be a . Besides that, Nami still has to answer another question: should she let him go? Should she end today’s session early and trust him with ever writing an essay? Does he even know what APA formatting is? Does he know how to cite an article?


“I’m going to write your essay for you,” Nami states curtly.


Baekhyun, who had been sitting there with a face as blank as his notebook pages, finally raises his brows in surprise.




“Yeah, seriously. Why are you looking at me like that? I’m doing you a favor.” Nami scoffs and tosses her pencil case into her bag. She gathers her binders and folders before standing up with them pressed against her chest. “You’re gonna fail if you write that essay by yourself, so I’ll just do it for you. I don’t care. I’m not gonna risk looking bad in front of the English Department and Goyal just because you want to be a who waits last minute to do anything.”


Baekhyun remains seated, but his raised brows have furrowed.


“Isn’t that—”


“Oh, don’t lecture me on ‘cheating’ when you literally plagiarized an essay last year,” Nami argues. “Just thank me later.”


Nami walks away before Baekhyun can object to her decision. As far as Nami knows, he’s still sitting on that bench in the courtyard, wondering why she would do such a thing. The answer to that, of course, is that she would rather not waste her time arguing with him. Talking to Baekhyun has proven to be ineffective into getting him into doing anything. If Nami bickered with him for an hour, it would only take away an hour that she could use to just simply write his essay for him.


Besides, Baekhyun said he wanted to go home early. Now he gets to do that and so does she.



[ 2 ]



“You’re actually writing it for him?”


It’s Thursday afternoon which means that Nami is with her friends, catching up and distracting each other from their own classes. While the four of them usually sit in the sprawling living room of Aru’s house, going back and forth with potential Friday and weekend plans, Nami has been talking about a specific blondie named Baekhyun for some time now. This prompts some questioning from the mild-mannered student body president and future physician Khushi Malhotra.


“Wait,” Khushi repeats, “even after he basically contributed nothing, you’re writing his essay for him?”


“Pretty much because I don’t want to deal with him anymore,” Nami answers. She continues scrolling through one of the potential sources she found as she talks to her friend. “I’ve already wasted half of my life trying to get him to do anything.”


“Still… Writing his essay for him?” Khushi takes a sharp intake of breath.


Like Nami, Khushi is a second-generation immigrant, except her parents are from a tiny village situated near Jaipur, India. Growing up, her parents have taught her the importance of working hard and pursuing an education as a means to elevate her status. They’ve also taught her how important it is to follow the rules—hence why Khushi is the student body president of the university. Not only does it mean that she’s the epitome of a model student—ambitious, hardworking, and intelligent, but she’s also quite the stickler for rules too.


“You would have done the same,” Nami insists in her defense. This wouldn’t be her friend’s first time reprimanding her for little infractions. “This guy is the worse. Literally unsavable. You would be losing your mind if you were me.”


“I’m sure he’s not as bad as you’re making him sound.” Khushi looks up from her laptop and furrows perfect brows. “And you said his name was Baekhyun, right? I think I know him.”


“Really? How?”


“You said that he was on the soccer team,” Khushi explains. “That means he hangs out with Hasan all the time.”




“Hasan Bhasin. The desi boy who plays right defense.”


Nami feels as if there’s something Khushi is withholding from her, but she doesn’t press for more information. Instead, she shakes her head and pities herself.


“I just can’t deal with a guy like Baekhyun,” Nami says. “I grew up poor as hell, and I had to work for everything I had. I didn’t get tutors. I had to learn everything by myself. It just pisses me off that he gets it all handed to him. I mean, he should have been expelled for plagiarism last year.”


Nami shakes her head in disapproval, thinking about when she saw Baekhyun drive off in his car last week. He didn’t have a beat-up Honda Accord or some decade-old car like most college students, of course; he drove a Porsche. A shiny, brand new Porsche with custom plates. BKHYN56. How is that any fair?


“Yeah, same,” Khushi murmurs in response. “It does , but I mean, there’s nothing we can do about it.” Khushi pauses, and Nami lifts her gaze from her screen to watch her friend’s expression change a few times. “Still, I think people can change,” Khushi says on a lighter note. “I don’t condone plagiarism, of course, since that’s dishonest—”


“Okay, I don’t need to hear this,” Nami interrupts before her friend can lecture her on ethics. “Don’t you have a test on microbiology or something?”


Before Khushi can answer, their friend—the pink-haired restaurant heiress and everlastingly shameless Aru Athanne—walks into the living room with what appears to be an alcoholic beverage in her hand. At 4PM in the afternoon.


“What are you drinking?” Nami asks suspiciously. “It’s Thursday afternoon.”


“It’s a margarita,” Aru reassures her with a dismissive shrug. She arranges the slice of lemon on her glass. “There isn’t any alcohol in this, if you were wondering. You want some?”


Nami turns down her friend with a shake of her head. “No thanks,” she says. “I have to finish this.”


“Oh, your essay?” Aru wrinkles her nose in disdain. Her British accent makes her sound like royalty looking down on the hardships of the less fortunate. “I know someone who writes essay for a fee. Why can’t I talk to them for you? You already said you were writing it for someone else anyway.”


Of course, Aru would suggest something like that. Like Baekhyun, she comes from money. Her grandparents founded the London-based Blaze Café, an international food chain specializing in “the finest sandwiches made only with high quality ingredients.” However, despite her family’s wealth, Aru wasn’t raised in the traditional way most wealthy families raise their children. She didn’t go to fancy private schools or had expensive after-school hobbies. Her parents made her attend public schools and work during summers. In fact, while in high school, she and Nami spent a summer working at a Blaze Café location in Studio City. Regardless, despite her “humbler” upbringing, Aru isn’t immune to suggesting rich ideas—liking hiring a professional essay-writer.


“I’m not outsourcing my own job,” Nami replies absentmindedly. “Besides, I guess this is more practice for me.”


“I don’t think you should be writing it in the first place,” Khushi interjects. “If he’s a plagiarizer then he should reap the consequences of graduating a year or semester late.”


“Plagiarizing isn’t that big of a deal, though,” Aru dismisses which makes perfect sense for her. Out of their friend group, Aru probably cares the least about academics. After all, she only attends university on her own volition to hold off working at her family’s restaurants right after high school. “What did you say his name was?” Aru asks. “Something with a B?”


“Baekhyun,” Nami replies. “Byun’s his last name.”


“Byun Baekhyun,” Aru repeats in her mother tongue, Korean. “Hm.” She seems to think and even goes as far to squint her eyes. “Is he cute?”


“No.” Nami frowns at the strange question. When she first met Baekhyun, he didn’t immediately strike her as ugly—in fact, he may have been good-looking—but now, each time Nami sees Baekhyun, she’s so repulsed that she has no other thought but disgust. “He’s the worst,” Nami states.


“I’ve never seen an unattractive soccer player, though.”


“How is that relevant?”


“It’s not,” Aru confesses, “but I’m just thinking.”


The three of them are quiet for a while. Nami rubs her temples while reading through an article on potential new legislation limiting microtransactions. Khushi mutters to herself several times as she tries to memorize the content on her flashcards for a microbiology exam. Aru scrolls through her phone, and her French-tipped nails tap on the screen softly. The three of them are only missing the last member of their small, tightly-knit group—who’s absence is brought up by Aru.


“Where’s Liz?” Aru asks out loud, interrupting the ambience of the living room.


Lizeth “Liz” Yanez, the fourth and final member of their group, is late today. Usually, she’s very punctual, but she’s active in theater arts and an aspiring actress, and that means that she gets held up in rehearsals from time to time.


“She has a play coming up in a few weeks,” Nami answers. She looks at the time on her laptop. “She should already be here, though. Maybe she got—” On cue, there’s a knock on the door. “That’s probably her,” Nami says, rising from her seat to beat Aru. However, the two of them reach the door at the same time to greet their friend.


“Whoa, your makeup,” Aru notes. Liz usually keeps her makeup to a minimum, but at this moment, it’s anything but minimal. She’s wearing big, false lashes, her eyebrows are darker than normal, and it appears as if she has accidentally applied too much blush. To top it off, she’s wearing bright red lipstick. “Please don’t tell me you did that contour yourself because that’s outrageous,” Aru remarks, allowing Liz inside.


“It’s stage makeup,” Liz answers factually. “It’s supposed to be a little dramatic so people at the back of the theater can see.”


“Yeah, I know, but still.” Aru shakes her head, and she, Liz, and Nami sit back in the living room.


“How was rehearsal?” Khushi asks as Liz plops down next to her. “Did you get to recite your monologue?”


“Yeah, and it wasn’t actually that bad. I mean, I forgot one line, so I improvised it, and the director didn’t mind.” Liz turns her attention to the rest of the group. “So what’s going on? Did you guys make plans without me already?”


“No, we’ve just been talking,” Nami reassures her. “We were waiting until you got here.”


“Oh, so what do you guys have in mind?” Liz queries. “Are we doing something for Halloween? Or are we doing horror movie night like we did last year?”


“No, I was thinking that we should go to Chanyeol’s costume party. He invited me, and he said I could bring you lot,” Aru quips. She had been laying down, seemingly tired, but she sits up now, eager to pitch her idea. “It’s next Friday. He’s having it at his house in Bel Air, but I could also give everyone a ride.”


“That guy lives in Bel Air?” Nami lets out a huff of air. “Ugh.” She knows who Chanyeol is because she reported Baekhyun and him for possession of alcohol last spring. While Chanyeol didn’t hold a grudge against her like Baekhyun, she still doesn’t view him in a good light. Like Baekhyun, he’s a privileged rich boy hence the neighborhood, and that’s why he got off with a warning despite committing an actual crime.


“Yeah, and it should be fun,” Aru says, ignoring Nami’s disdain. “It’s a costume party, so we should all go as one theme.”


“What if I don’t want to be a y vampire?” Khushi interrupts. “No,” she says with a frown. “I’m down to going to the party, but I don’t wanna dress like you.”


“First of all, I wasn’t going to be a y vampire.” Aru looks appalled, making Nami snicker. Ever since the four of them started university, Aru had been doing variations of a y vampire except for the one Halloween when Liz suggested a horror movie fest instead of going to another party. “And what’s wrong with being a y vampire? That’s the best costume.”


“Wait, I’m down to going too,” Liz quips. “It’s Loey’s party, right? Yeah, I can make it.”


“Nami, are you coming?” Aru asks.


“I don’t know,” Nami replies, earning a whine from her friend. “I kinda just want to stay in this year.”


“You can’t ‘stay in’ on your final Halloween in university,” Aru argues. “Come onnnnnn. It’ll be fun! It’s not like one of those frat parties too because Chan is hosting.”


“That’s not any better,” Nami counters. Chanyeol may not allow drugs (other than ) at his parties like certain, troublesome frats, but she did bust him supplying alcohol to underage students. Clearly, he’s not a saint, and he doesn’t throw wholesome get-togethers like Nami when she plans activities for her club. “I don’t wanna go,” Nami restates. “You all can, but I’ll just stay home.”


“You can’t stay home,” Liz remarks. “What? No, you have to come with us. It’s our last year at college.”


“Yeah, I agree.” Surprisingly, the student-body president is saying this. Khushi crosses her arms and tilts her head at Nami. “We should do something fun together. You’ve been so anxious this entire semester when it’s your last year.”


“That’s because I’ve been mad that I couldn’t go to my internship because of some stupid tutoring,” Nami says. Talking about a losing out on a paid internship still makes her sore. She shakes her head, adamant on not attending the party. “I’m just busy, okay? I don’t wanna go.”


“You’re coming with us,” Aru states like it’s already happening. “I’m picking you up, and you can’t do anything about it.”


“It’ll be fine, don’t worry,” Khushi assures Nami. “We can leave early too since I have a family thing on Saturday after.”


“The last year of college should be fun,” Aru continues with her persuading. “Right now, it doesn’t look like you’re having any, which is why you need to come.”


“Yeah, it’s Friday too,” Liz adds. “It’s not like we’re going out on a school night.”


Nami sighs because these are her friends, and she’d do anything for them. Besides, it’s obvious that she can’t talk herself out of this when they’ve already decided their minds.


“Fine,” Nami says, earning excited claps from her friends.


Aru starts excitedly asking them for their costume ideas, while Nami keeps herself quiet. She smiles despite not wanting to go to the party in the first place because a friendship like the four of them have is special. Not everyone is as fortunate to have a second family like this.



[ 3 ]




An entire week flies by like the planes do at LAX. The final days of October are here, and Nami has a Halloween party tonight. Before she can go home and get ready for it, however, she has to deliver a very important package to Baekhyun.


Nami texted Baekhyun an hour ago, but he must still be at practice because he hasn’t replied to her or opened her text. Impatient, Nami takes matters into her own hands; she doesn’t want to wait another two or three hours for Baekhyun to finish. Instead of waiting for him at the library, she decides that she’ll go directly to him instead. She has his schedule, after all, and she knows that he’s definitely practicing at the soccer fields because he missed out on a game this week.


So, with that, Nami packs up her things and head towards the direction of the university’s athletics “zone.” All of the university’s athletic teams hold their games and practices in one general area that includes the stadium, the training facilities, and several other fields. Although the campus is sprawling, if a newcomer were to find the football field, then they would know that the basketball center was nearby.


After a few minutes of hurried walking, Nami arrives at the intramural playing fields. It’s covers about the same area as four soccer fields, and the “grass” is just turf since the university figured out it was cheaper than watering real grass year-round. When Nami steps onto the field, she has to make sure not to walk too quickly since turf fields come with rubber crumbs that can get into her shoes and become a nuisance. Luckily, the lone Baekhyun isn’t too far of a walk from Nami. He’s practicing by himself, dribbling a ball up and down the field, and attempting to shoot goals.


Nami watches Baekhyun for a moment as he sharply kicks a ball right into the metal bar of the goal. She finally yells his name after that missed attempt.


“What?” Baekhyun demands when he jogs up to her. Temperatures are cooling, and he’s wearing blue Adidas pants and a running jacket with their university’s logo embroidered over the . Fortunately, he doesn’t seem to have been practicing too hard because he’s not grossly sweaty.


“Here’s the flash drive with the essay,” Nami says as she holds her hand out.


“Flash drive?” Baekhyun raises his brows. “You came all the way here to give me a flash drive?”


“An email leaves a paper trail.”


“Sounds like you’ve done this before.”


“Just take it. I don’t have time for this.”


Baekhyun eyes Nami carefully but takes the flash drive anyways.


“You need to submit that through Turn-It-In dot com before midnight,” Nami reminds him. “You should do that after you’re done here today because the professor doesn’t accept late work—not even a minute late.”


Nami says all of this very quickly, making Baekhyun frown. She’s about to ask him if he un

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⚽️ Our Friends Talk ⚽️
The full outline has been posted! Thank you all for your patience.


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17 streak #1
Chapter 1: Baekhyun getting his title as the captain removed must have hurt him since it was something he loved and was good at doing as well.

Learning sessions with Nami seem like a complete nightmare. They are polar opposites, and none of them want to step down from a fight.

Environment club sounds interesting, something that would fit Nami quite well. Meanwhile Baekhyun fits the football team very well.

Mark is a nice guy with good intentions. Yes, he might seem like a creep but he just doesn't know how to talk to girls. Enter Baekhyun to the rescue!

Baekhyun's father is up to something. There must be a reason for their bad relationship. However the dad might love his son, he just doesn't know how to parent properly.

I love this story. your writing is amazing and the events in the story are interesting to read!
morphine007 #2
Chapter 5: Thank you for posting this 🥺
Chapter 5: Omg you've posted the outline I didn't knew ! It's so good although I'm a little sad that we didn't got to read it whole but I'm glad that you posted the outline thanks loved it so much!!
Merryqueen #5
Chapter 5: That would be such a intersting story but it's so sad that it can't be continued thank you for this little sneak peek of other chapters ❤️
Chapter 5: Thank you for sharing this ❤
Chapter 5: Thank you for the detailed outline… I’m still sad that it was discontinued but very happy that there was some conclusion. I will always look forward to your writing!
burning-up #8
Chapter 5: Thank you for sharing the outline 😭
I just found out today that it was discontinued 😭😭😭😭😭
Really sad that this was discontinued.. Thanks for the outline though. I will be reading all your stories as always.
Chapter 5: Sad that this is discontinued, but thanks for making the outline available to us. Thank you for your efforts in putting this together for us.