part one

RED

The sound of the champagne pop makes me jump. I’ve been in my head all damn day. It turns out I’ve been the talk of town. Yes. Town.

Some leaked my picture on the internet with the captions:

i just wanna let you guys know that this is a homewrecker.

Then, she proceeded to leak all of my personal information. And when I mean all, I mean my school and everything.

First of all, I am the innocent party as well. I’ve been wronged. So wronged that I can’t even step foot into the nearest Starbucks without getting a bunch of dirty looks. I’ve been elevated above couch guy.

Sue me for not knowing that my ex-boyfriend was married to his high school sweetheart.

I’m twenty ing years old with about two hundred bucks in my bank account. He worked an adult job—had the charm of a well-oiled man. Too well-oiled it seems. He’s been at it with his wife since he was eighteen.

We fine-dined, and as a broke college student—let me tell you how godsend that is.

Okay. was great. Really, ing fantastic.

We did some . This brings me to my next point—was it his wife that was too vanilla? Or was I the only person who was willing to entertain his degrading kink?

Either way. I’ve been shot in the heart. Stabbed far too many times in the ego. Sure, I pulled a married man, and it’s only been three months since I quite literally bulldozed him over with my americano.

Not only did it stain his white shirt—but I got it soaked down thoroughly in his bone zone. When I tell you that I felt guilty as hell.

The man wasn’t ugly, to begin with. From a distance, I could tell he was the clean-cut, stellar do-gooder type of guy. His suit was crisp. His white shirt was ironed. He had a very fresh undercut—thick dark luscious hair pulled back.

God. I was so gone. I was a stuttering idiot who couldn’t decide between sobbing and apologizing.

At that point, I’d been having the worst day of my life. I was late to class, and oh—that was the ing day out of all ing days that my professor decided to take attendance.

Then, after class, I found out that my dog died from my mom who I could barely make out through her sobs. But it’d been a busy week for me with two group projects due at the end of the week with people as useless as half a , I didn’t even have time to cry.

I had to go straight to my next class. Physics with the world’s most quiet man. Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the Russian accent. It was most definitely his hushed lectures.

I couldn’t hate the man. He was sweeter than licorice. He gave extra credit like he was held at gunpoint after every test.

Anyway, bulldozing an attractive man was the last thing on my list of things to do, so now that I’ve got that out of the way.

He brushed me off at first, and then somewhere in the middle, we were playing the flirting game.

Turns out. He was an alumnus at John Hopkins and was on his way to participate as a guest speaker for the stem cell conference.

He ditched the conference, followed me to my dorms, borrowed one of my exes’ hoodies (that one’s also a long story), and well, I had the world's longest appointment.

It was fun. Between the stress of being a junior without a major declared and the gazillions of STEM classes I was taking, was a great stress reliever.

As you can tell, it clouded my brain a little too much.

So when I went viral on the internet overnight, my friends blew up our group chat with questions, and thank god they took my side, or I’d be on the next train to heaven or hell, give or take—whichever will let me in.

Sooner or later, I became irrelevant, but my ex-boyfriend was far from irrelevant. Some screwed-up part of my brain missed him, and among the utterly desperate paragraphs that he sent me, I started to question my decision.

But as I continued to ghost him, he me and started to blame me for his divorce. We went from the game to the gladiator game. One man wins. A fight to the death. You know. That sort of thing. Until I grew the balls to block him.

Safe to say, I went through all the stages of grief, and now—I was in the midst of acceptance. Except, I was doing that on New Year’s eve. Alone.

I was the only one without a date.

Even soapy Taeyong brought a date. He told dad jokes, drank like there was no tomorrow, and relied way too much on his metabolism.

Then, there was Winter, who outright refused to go by her birth name, because she had no faith in, to quote her words, the rest of the dimwitted general population, end quote to pronounce her name correctly.

We asked her why she named herself after a season, and her only response was that she liked the mystique and how it was a good conversation starter.

Between us, dubbed by our friends, #1 and #2, she managed to bring one of her holi-dates, inspired by the ever cheesy Netflix film.

As #1 (though Winter tends to disagree because we’re oddly competing over who's the better catch; spoiler alert—I am), I’ve done a disservice this year and didn’t bring the hottest guy.

Last year, I brought a high fashion model and had half the room lining up to talk to him. We weren’t dating, but I was definitely tapping that sweet more than once.

Long story short, my friends and I have this inside joke where we all try to best each other every year.

Sehun always has a date. He can’t not—after all, he’s been dating the same girl since our first year. I was there through all of it. I saw those heart eyes, the anxiety tics, and even the hysterical late-night bawling when she rejected him at first.

Then, there’s gorgeous Jongin who’s been dating his boyfriend Kyungsoo since the beginning of time.

Irene brought her girlfriend, Seulgi, who she met last Valentine’s and has never looked back.

All of that leaves me. I’m not sure whether to be embarrassed that little miss known serial dater doesn’t have a holi-date or that I’m still the talk of the campus for screwing a married man.

I would prefer to continue drowning my sorrows in alcohol. Especially this very expensive champagne that tastes like nectar and ambrosia that somehow Irene has in her possession.

As the night drags on, I linger somewhere on the sidelines while my friends are flirting and bouncing between conversations. I debate on whether I should steal a bottle from Irene when I hear intricate guitar strings being strummed which brings me to a full stop.

I turn to check out the sudden increments of hushed whispers near me, and I’m looking right at him.

He’s like the ghost of campus. One day you see him, and the next, he’s gone without a trace.

Who am I talking about?

Byun Baekhyun.

One of the many campus heartthrobs, but what makes him special is how smart he is. He’s so insanely intelligent that not only is he the first in his program but he’d also been the main reason why most of our STEM peers want to unalive themselves.

He destroys any potential of a curve on exams.

Besides being a highly prospective nominee of a Nobel, Baekhyun is drop-dead, stomach-churning, heart-wrenching gorgeous.

I don’t understand how a person can go from jaw-breaking y to golden retriever cute. Sometimes, he chooses to put his hair up, and god—his undercut—dear god.

I remember being absolutely paralyzed when I saw him during our freshman orientation.

He’s never really been part of a crowd. While I have my friend group, he’s like a frolicking dandelion. Grows in the wild, but kind of unattainable. I guess it’s the mystique that really sets him apart.

“He plays guitar too?” Winter’s voice startles me from my observations.

I side-glance her, and then to her date who is currently buddy-buddy with another guy. Oh. Well. Okay. Sounds a little messy.

Winter and I have this game where in the past, we would make up scenarios about Baekhyun. Since nobody really knows him, we pretend that we’re screenwriters and write up obnoxious parts of his personal life like they’re facts.

Anyway, I win this round. I made up this story about a former starving musician turned academic genius.

Winter sighs like she’s out of breath. “Do you think he brought a date?”

I snicker, “well, he’s married and has a secret child.”

She rolls her eyes. “Seriously, though. I’m gonna gather my courage to talk to him.”

I nod, entertaining this thought.

“You’ve never let nervous energy stop you before, Win.”

She shrugs. Then her eyes go wide into disbelief. “Hold on a minute. Aren’t you acting a little too out of character?”

“Elaborate on how I should be acting.”

“Well, first of all, you brought nobody.”

“Nobody? Oh, you mean my pal, Odysseus? Word on the street is that he’s still looking for his wife.”

Winter gives me a hard look. A silent look of judgment. The same one when she had to drive me to Planned Parenthood for a pregnancy test. Good news. I wasn’t pregnant.

“Second of all, you’re not straddling anyone.”

“What?”

“Don’t act stupid with me. I know you, D. It’s like ten pm, and by now, you’re either having some sort of god-awful public display of affection or you’re blacked out, doing some dumb . And the two can be argued as the same thing.”

I give her my best impression of an amicable smile. Since my public humiliation, I don’t know how to be normal anymore. “Don’t you think you’re reading too much into this? Maybe I’m having a bad year. This week’s been evidence of that.”

“You said that last month.”

“Okay? Can a girl cope?”

“You did fine during your pregnancy scare after your last ex abandoned you for it.”

“I’m all for violence, but to hit a girl while she’s down? That’s low of you.”

“Cut the , D. I don’t know how to say this—but I think you need .”

I glance at Winter like she’s lost her mind. “Are we having the same conversation?”

Winter crosses her arms. “I’ll let you have first dibs.” She points distantly to the guitar-playing hottie with her eyes. “And I’ve never liked leftovers, so you can have him.”

“He’s not an object,” I protest.

At this time, Taeyong chooses to in our conversation. “So…” He drawls, eyeing the both of us. “I see that we’ve got our undivided attention on Baekhyun.”

“Who’s we?” I ask.

Taeyong smiles slyly, dropping his voice. “Word is—he’s single.”

Winter groans. “I bet he’d be down for a . How about it, D?”

I snort. “I’m not having a with you included.”

Taeyong raises his hand. “Are you still offering?”

She rolls her eyes at him. “You have a date, .”

“I’ll extend my offer to anyone and everyone,” Taeyong adds in cheekily.

“Don’t think with your . You’ll make my mistakes,” I advise, patting him.

He smirks. “You have a great life. You’re an awesome example.”

I smile at his comment, kind of impressed that he’s being nice. “Am I part of the bros or what?”

Winter laughs. “Think of the power that we’d have. We are the boys that everyone cries about.”

“Thank god we’re so down to earth,” I add, fanning myself with my finger.

“And we’re future scientists, the hope of this planet. Can you imagine? What would I tell my kid?” Taeyong bemuses.

Winter and I exchange a look.

He tilts his head, looking mildly offended. “What?”

Winter shakes her head, smiling brightly. “Nothing. Let’s do shots.”

Winter’s idea of doing shots is continuously downing alcohol until your liver bleeds. I’ve stopped trying to keep up with her. The only other person who could down as much alcohol as her is Sehun.

“Slow down, cowboy,” Sehun hisses at Winter.

I think he’s still trying to dupe his girlfriend into thinking that he isn’t the alcoholic that he is. She attends university elsewhere, so he’s been in the safe zone until now.

Taeyong is already a bumbling drunk. He’s currently passed out on the tabletop—right in the middle. And everyone is actively laughing and cheering and goading me to take the next shot.

Winter ignores him, gulping another shot of this awful tequila.

Sehun sighs, glancing nervously at his girlfriend before he picks up the shot and downs it without a hitch.

I groan. “I don’t think I can do this.”

“You’re not even drunk yet,” Jongin tells me.

I side-eye him with a mocking smile. “Yes, Sherlock. Any other observations you’d like to point out?”

At this time, I stumble back awkwardly when a guy pushes himself between me and my friend. Darn.

The alcohol sloshes onto my chin, and I let out an irritated growl.

“Hey.” It’s soft and silvery and sticky in my ears.

I jolt, turning my neck to glance up at the owner of the voice. “Wha—“ I cut myself off, mentally chanting holy three times. And then, I open my mouth. “Baekhyun.”

His eyes glimmer, and in this moment, Taeyong’s LED lights aren’t so tacky when I’m staring at them in Baekhyun’s eyes. “Are you okay?”

His hands are on my shoulders.

Winter is looking at us, and with a knowing look, she feigns bumping into a person near her and causes a domino effect of people shifting back, which sends me sprawling straight into him.

“Crap,” I mutter, glancing at the shot glass that is now on the floor. And the alcohol is now on the both of us.

Baekhyun’s wearing a really nice knitted sweater, and it probably gets dry-cleaned.

“I’m sorry,” I tell him. “I don’t have any money for your dry-cleaning, but I can do other things.” I let out a gasp as soon as I realize it sounds like I’m propositioning him. “I mean—not . is fine. But you’re probably not interested—“

When did I become such a blubbering idiot?

“Hey, D!” Sehun yells from behind us. “It’s your turn.”

Winter grins and schemes, “you’ve gotta take two shots because you spilled the first one.”

I glare at her. “And who the hell do you think is at fault here?”

Sehun makes a face like he’s telling me to save him from Winter. His girl looks extremely bored.

I glance apologetically toward Baekhyun and push through the crowd of people to get to my friends. Then, I take my first shot, but as I’m getting to my second, a hand gets to it before I do.

Baekhyun steals my shot. I gape at him. Mouth open. Head empty. Some of the tequila slides down his chin and onto his neck. I follow its path until it dips down below his shirt. “She’s good now, right?” He directs the question to Winter who looks like she’s having the time of her life.

“Oh, Jesus, that’s cheesy as hell,” Sehun mutters.

I snort. “Worry about yourself, idiot. Your girlfriend looks like she wants to orbit into the atmosphere.”

Sehun flips me off but returns his attention back to the commotion around the dining table.

However, I’m not able to grasp what’s happening at the table because Baekhyun’s taken advantage of this situation and is leading me away from the crowd.

We’re off to the side where I’d been familiarizing myself with all evening. Except, this time, it doesn’t feel so familiar and it’s no longer my comfort corner.

Because Baekhyun, the guy I’ve made entire life stories about as a joke, is right in front of me.

“Where’s your date?” He asks.

I stare at him.

“I don’t have one,” I say.

Baekhyun lifts a brow. “Boyfriend?”

“You haven’t heard?” I say blandly. “I’m famous.”

The expression on his face tells me that he knows, but for some reason, he doesn’t ask me about it. Instead, he says, “you know my name.”

“Who doesn’t know who you are?”

“Normally, being strangers is a two-sided affair.”

Listen. I don’t usually jump to conclusions but he has to be flirting with me right now. His eyes sink into sensual territory, and I find myself wishing that this isn’t a dream.

And Lee Dan doesn’t wish for these things. I just go for it. So, I fold my arms over my chest, giddy when his eyes grace over them. “Eyes up here,” I tell him. “If you’re a good boy, I might even let you cop a feel.”

Baekhyun hums, “so you really are as bold as they say, Dan.”

“You know my name.”

“And you know mine.”

I laugh. “Are you baiting me into saying it? Baekhyun?”

“I just did,” he says.

A warmth flutters across my chest and grows until it pulls me under the currents. “I’ve never seen you attend any of my friends’ parties, what’s the occasion?”

He nods his head at me. “You.”

“Me?”

“The chances of you being single is hard to come by.”

“Well, you’re the stats’ major. You tell me.”

“Alright,” he breathes, “here’s my null hypothesis: I kiss you. You kiss back.”

“And the alternative hypothesis?”

“I kiss you. You slap me.”

The countdown for New Year begins. I hear it around us. The shouts from my friends.

3

2

1

Baekhyun’s eyes seek for my permission, and I lean in to whisper, “you’ve failed to reject the null.”

He tastes like tequila and dubious choices.

[a/n] when he pines for her first <333333 yall when i tell you i really like dan and her friends

also this is unedited kinda sorry if anything goes wrong im erasing this story out of existence

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baekyhoney
so. um. how are we feeling about ?? because cough cough it's happening. like if we're not comfortable, i can release it in its own separate chapter when the story ends?
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