part two

RED

Boyfriend.

Baekhyun was total boyfriend material.

Not.

Perhaps if you had asked me five years ago, I would approve of that statement. I’m not so sure how someone’s image can change in the span of five years so quickly and intently.

And if you ask me if I loved him, I’m not sure I remember what exactly I found so intriguing about him.

Was it the fact that he was a total slob and left his laundry in piles for someone else to trip over?

No. It had to be the fact that he was so considerate of you and that his gift for your one-year anniversary was a fortune cookie. From the crappy last-minute Chinese takeout when he did remember. That, of course, you paid for because again, he’s forgotten his wallet.

“Pipe down, love birds,” I shout across the paper-thin walls of our apartment. It wasn’t a warning but a threat.

By our, I mean the apartment that my friends (excluding a special someone) and I were sharing. Rent has gotten and has always been ridiculously high, and so, the rest of us who stayed behind to pursue our master’s degree decided to throw our money together to get a nice place.

And by nice, I mean—waking up at ungodly hours for the itty bitty amount of hot water because god forbid, someone update our ancient plumbing, right? And let’s not forget the janky excuse of a dryer. You’re lucky if it works on the second try, or it’s moldy-smelling clothes.

Nonetheless, the scenery at night on our balcony beat all of the odds, and the four of us—Winter, Sehun, Baekhyun, and me—decided to look on the bright side.

There were two rooms, and as far as roommate assignment, it was obvious who would get what room with who.

Of course, when we moved here in hot, hot August a year ago—Baekhyun and I were already at odds.

Long story and I can’t be bothered to unpack that right now.

All things aside, we up any hard feelings if all for cheaper rent in Baltimore.

Winter and I chose the biggest room. So that left Baekhyun and Sehun.

And we were all doing okay.

Alright, no, who was I kidding? Definitely not well. Do you know how much drama comes with four people sharing 1,260 square feet?

Too much.

I could write an entire book on how many instances I wanted to slap Byun Baekhyun across the face.

And one of them is now.

“Hey!” I shout again, slamming my palm against the wall.

I hear a thump. Several rhythmic thumps. It’s morse code.

off, he says.

I growl, pushing my laptop aside. Stomping to his bedroom, I shove the door open to see Baekhyun and a topless girl. She’s on top of him, and he’s still fully clothed but I could tell that I was definitely interrupting something.

Damn right.

I was done with Byun Baekhyun this week. It was our Thanksgiving break, and we were the only two left in the apartment. So, the motherer took it upon himself to bring this same girl home every day of this week.

I was gonna go ing psycho if he kept this up. My thesis was extremely subpar, and I needed to get it in somewhat good shape for peer review next week.

Look. I had no problem with this chick. I didn’t care who he had with. Frankly, I could care less about his existence, but something about her making her presence known constantly irked me.

She ate my damn yogurt and when I got aggravated, Baekhyun took her side. Fine. Maybe I’m being petty.

“Do you mind?” Baekhyun asks, his voice edging on haughty. What a pompous bastard. What did I ever see in him?

I huff an incredulous laugh, throwing my hand in my hair. “Do you mind?”

The girl on top of him blinks between Baekhyun and me. She’s probably bothered by my being unfazed by the scene unfurling in front of me.

First of all, I knew almost everything there was to know about Baekhyun. There was absolutely no competition. I hated him.

“Listen, I know you’re kind of insensitive, but I’m kind of in the middle of something.”

My jaw falls. “Me? Insensitive?” I release an obnoxious cough, balling up my hands into fists.

I wasn’t sure who needed to touch grass at this moment. The girl who was still shirtless and feeling him up. Or Baekhyun who was nonchalantly gaslighting me.

“If you couldn’t tell, my is hard.”

I scoff, “you’re ing filthy.”

“My bad. I meant .”

“ you.”

“As you can see, I’m actively trying to screw someone else. So, no thanks.”

“I wasn’t propositioning you, jackass.”

“Good. We’re on the same page.”

I cross my arms, silently glaring at him and hoping he’d somehow drop dead.

Baekhyun’s jaw ticks with impatience. “What the hell do you want from me?”

“To shut the hell up.”

“I could say the same for you,” he quips.

“Look. I’m glad you still have function down there because God knows where it’s been. But—“ I wave my hands wild and frantic. “Tell your little girlfriend to stop with the obnoxious star moans.”

The girl looks offended, and she turns to Baekhyun. “Aren’t you gonna defend me?”

I smile at her all sickly sweet. “No, he’s not because he knows I’m right.”

When she searches Baekhyun’s eyes once more for support and doesn’t find it, she curses under her breath and leaps off of him.

After finding her clothes, she flips him off and barrels out the door with abandon.

Baekhyun sighs, sounding awfully dreadful. “Happy?”

“Very,” I snark.

Sick gleam swims in his eyes. “Happy enough to solve the conflict you started?”

I eye his tent and then coldly glance back to his eyes. “You have hands, babe. Use it.”

Then, I slam the door shut to his room, grinning to myself when I hear him cursing my name nine ways to Sunday.

 

 

###

 

 

I think the worst part of being the same major as your ex-boyfriend is struggling to not strangle him in a public setting.

“Did you both finish grading the last test?” Professor Stevens asks, not bothering to spare either of us a glance as he’s scrolling through the slides for the next lecture.

“Uh—almost, I still need to speak with you on technicalities for the short answers,” I say.

Baekhyun side glances me, and I mouth silent threats at him. And he responds by cracking a sarcastic smile. Pitching forward, he announces with confidence, “well, I went through the test versions, and I found several mistakes on the problem sets.”

I grimace. Nothing prepares me for the real world like being grilled by the professor for screwing up.

Professor Stevens slowly comes to a stop when he peers up at me with curious condescension. However that’s possible. But I suppose it isn’t too hard of an emotion for him, considering that he was a consistent offender. “Am I giving you too many responsibilities?”

I let out a nervous exhale. “No—no, definitely not. I’m doing fine.” Lies. I’m far from fine. From teaching the majority of his classes and creating test questions and working on my thesis and merely existing, I was two centimeters from drowning.

Our professor eyes me up and down with skepticism. “Baekhyun,” he says. “Grade the tests and omit the incorrect problem sets.”

Baekhyun nods with an easy smile plastered on his punchable face. “Of course.”

“I can handle it,” I argue, my tone teetering from polite to slightly aggressive.

He ignores me, pressing on, “Is everything okay with your thesis, Baekhyun?”

“Yeah, it just needs proofreading,” Baekhyun answers.

I glance between the two of them, and slowly, resigned, I lean back into my chair with my arms crossed.

Here they go again. I find myself in the same position I’ve been in countless times with my ist professor and my nasty ex-boyfriend shutting me out of conversations.

Screwing my mouth shut, I resort to nodding and one-word answers.

I wish I had a choice. Every other TA position for competent professors was quickly filled prior to this semester, so I was stuck with Professor Stevens for the long run. The only reason I hadn’t given him the bird and walked out was the recommendation letter and Ph.D. position he had promised us for being his TAs.

But little did I know, I’d be stuck as an indentured servant—always labeled the incompetent one when compared to Baekhyun.

I consider the consequences of throat-punching them both and decide against it because I knew that I would never live it through.

When our professor excuses us for his daily smoking break, I meekly shuffle out of his office, refusing to look at Baekhyun.

I wasn’t going to waste my time arguing with him like we’d done in the past. To be fair, he insinuated most of them with his annoying nitpicking. My incomprehensible handwriting, my teaching methods, my research, blah blah blah—I couldn’t even count the number of times I’ve been held up by him on all ten fingers.

“Hey,” he calls after me.

Of course, I ignore him.

Hey,” he says again. This time, more threatening.

I spin around to glare at him. “FYI, my name is Dan.”

“Don’t I know it,” he mumbles under his breath. Baekhyun’s eyes are on mine, and when he sees my exasperation, he changes tactic. Going from visible irritation to cold indifference. Not that much of a difference if you ask me. “I need your test materials.”

My lips twitch, and I raise a single eyebrow to challenge him. “Why? Smarty McGenius can’t work out the answers himself?”

He scowls. “I’m the one cleaning up your mess. No hard feelings.”

“Oh, you.”

“We can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way,” he says.

I cross my arms over my chest, and he blatantly ogles my s. “Eyes up here, fiend.”

Baekhyun throws me a fake amiable smile.

“Well?” I urge. “Elaborate. I’m too busy to play the guessing game with you.”

“I know you’re kissing Dr. Steven’s ,” he says.

“A man of few words.”

Always,” he mocks, “you do know that I’m his favorite, right?”

I laugh. “Are you threatening me?”

“No, just stating hard facts.”

“ you.”

“I’ve been told I was good at it.”

“I’m sure there are a few disagreeing contenders.”

“Not by you,” he notes.

I don’t remember the exact point of time when my breathing felt like it could incinerate someone, but I can vouch that it was probably around here. Baekhyun tested my limits every day, but today, he struck a nerve.

“You don’t get to bring up our past when you see fit,” I snap, shoving my index into his chest.

He stumbles back, but his eyes don’t divert. No, they stay straight on mine, glaring back down at me. “Or what?”

I mirror his glare, suddenly despising our height difference. “Enough with your stupid power trips.”

“Now why would I waste my time doing that?”

“Really?” I ask harshly, my voice rising along with it. “What happened in there could beg to differ.”

“What’s your point, princess?”

I grind my teeth together, feeling a heap of sawdust forming a block in my throat. Baekhyun only began calling me pet names to mock me. Anything else to avoid using my name. But I do the same thing. Except, princess had a far more vicious connotation because he meant it in a spoiled-never-worked-a-day-in-her-life brat.

“My point,” I spit out, “is that you need to get over yourself.”

“I don’t need anything,” he says.

“Just shut the hell up, god! Do you need to argue with me on everything?”

Baekhyun purses his lips.

His silence makes me come to a full stop, and for a second, I try to evaluate our situation. “I’m stuck with you. And there’s absolutely nothing I can ing do about it. So why don’t you quit this while we’re at it—“

“Stuck? Is that the truth?” He asks. His voice borders on cryptic bitterness.

So, naturally, I’m beyond confused. I stare at him, mouth slightly ajar. This wasn’t like him at all.

Instead of addressing whatever the hell that was earlier, he instead forces a smile. “You’re absolutely right. I don’t have time to participate in this pointless discourse.”

Then, he walks off. Just like that.

Leaving me still very pissed off.

 

 

###

 

 

Winter is the first to return out of everyone. She’s marching into our little space with rare emotion. Excitement.

“Hi, lovebirds!” She chirps throwing her arms at me.

Baekhyun coughs when she also brings him in, and the three of us are stuck in a semi-hug.

“Funny you say that,” I mumble, rubbing my arms after they’ve accidentally brushed against his.

Winter mercifully releases us and backs up.

Baekhyun and Winter quickly catch up on their holidays. Despite our messy breakup, he’s remained friends with all of my friends. So, we’re all in this comfortable limbo where we never address our dynamic. Yeah, weird, I know.

Anyway, after Baekhyun exchanges polite small talk with Winter, he barrels outside and out into the chilly night.

My gaze lingers on his back but I immediately come to my senses and turn toward Winter who has a knowing look on her face.

“Spit it out,” I tell her.

She rubs her hands together and bounces a little when she plops onto the couch. “Lover’s quarrel?”

“It’s been five years,” I remind her in case she’s forgotten. She hasn’t forgotten.

Winter will never let it go. She loves teasing me about Baekhyun because of something about humbling me and my dating history.

“Really? So you like never think about him at all?”

“Of course, I think about him. He’s cohabitating with us.” I know what she means to say. We’ve been through this countless times, but I wasn’t biting the stick.

Winter wiggles her eyebrows. “Okay, let’s just go with that for now. Tell me. What were you guys fighting about?”

“When do we ever not heads? I'm afraid that his head is too gigantic and would fall off any second now. ”

She shakes her head. “That wasn’t my question.”

“Why do you care?” I grumble.

“Because you’re a lot more emotional this time around.”

“That’s offensive.”

Winter laughs. “Oh, come on. That’s what bothers you? Priorities. Girl. Seriously. What’d he do?”

I eventually relent, joining her on the couch. “I don’t know why I suddenly care about his existence. It’s like—look, a year ago, I wouldn’t have batted an eye.”

This is when my friend holds her hand up. “That’s a lie, and you know it.”

I groan, “I do not care about him.”

“Really? Because I remember quite clearly when he had an STI scare last winter, you got a speeding ticket while driving him to the emergency room.”

“That—that’s just having a heart.”

“How about when he broke his arm a couple of months after you guys had broken up and you volunteered to help him shower and whatnot?”

I throw my hands up. “Maybe I just care about people in general. That doesn’t mean anything.”

“But you continue to be upset with him despite being broken up for—five years now? Normally, you’d grow apathetic toward an ex from a bad breakup. But you both still care about each other.”

“We fight all the time, Win. That’s not true at all.”

“But that’s just it, D. You both fight like you still love each other. You obviously care and maybe the reason you’re mad is because he’s seeing other women.”

“Jesus. No, I don’t.”

“Okay, then tell me this. Why do the both of you continue to resort to meaningless ?”

I’m silent for a while, and Winter doesn’t speak either. I’m sure she’s expecting an answer from me. So, eventually, I let up after sighing. “I don’t have time to commit.”

“People who want to commit make time regardless. It’s not about you not wanting to commit. You still feel very much unresolved about how your relationship with Baekhyun ended. I’m aware these aren’t pretty words, but you need to hear it, D. You’ve got to make up your mind. Either reconcile your differences or make your remaining energy worthwhile with somebody else.”

[a/n] hiya, i'm back from the dead. i've been so disgustingly unmotivated. i hope i've stirred some curiosity for their past. they have a really weird dynamic as you can see. honestly, i wasn't going to update this today but i powered through and here we are. 

really sorry for the wait besties

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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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