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chapter one.

 

warnings: swearing, mentions of drug use, VERY BAD chemistry jokes.

lowercase intended.

 

hi. the handwriting reads. will you please teach me how to date?

 

 

it’s 8am.

 

 

it’s monday morning.

 

 

you’re hungover, your head is violently throbbing, and you can barely stand without wanting to bend forward and hurl last night’s contents. you’re in no condition to be at school, let alone the receiving end of a handwritten letter that’s been delivered into your locker.

 

 

will you please teach me how to date?

 

 

teach who how to what? you squint at the letter, though the tenebrous shade of your sunglasses shadows your ability to see the handwriting clearly. even without the glasses, you know you’d be having a hard time regardless, because whoever has written this odd letter embodies all the stereotypes of a doctor’s handwriting.

 

 

flabbergasted, your eyes dart toward the bottom of the letter, where the mysterious author has signed their name in bold letters.

kind regards, byun baekhyun.

 

 

you frown.

 

 

kind regards?

 

 

byun baekhyun?

 

 

what the—

 

 

suddenly, the letter is snatched from your hands. you frown from the abrupt action, prompting you to snap your head toward the side.

 

 

“hey!” you scowl at your friend, ryujin, who responds with a soft snicker. she playfully dangles the letter in front of you before gripping it with both her acrylic claws.

 

 

“another letter?” she whistles, a sculpted brow lifting as her eyes lazily rake the paper. “jeez, miss popular, this is like the tenth one since last week.”

 

 

“just shut up and give it back.” you roll your eyes, attempting to steal it from her grasp. your friend easily evades your strike by stepping to the side, her lifelong immunity to hangovers working to her advantage. she’s a witch. she has to be — there’s no way she’s still standing straight after everything she skulled last night.

 

 

ryujin snorts. “teach me how to date?” her loud voice reverberates so loudly through the school hallways that you cringe from the volume. “dude, what the heck is this?”

 

 

you shrug. “you tell me,” you grumble, facing your locker with a frown. with a hefty sigh, you rummage through the piles of trash inside your locker, seizing your white headphones from it. “found it just then.”

 

 

“kind regards, byun baekhyun?” ryujin suddenly ruptures into cacophonous laughter, instantly triggering the pounding of your head. you wince at the pain, feeling your brain rattle inside your skull. this. you’re never drinking again. tequila is the devil’s favourite beverage, and while it may have successfully seduced you last night, you’re never allowing that again.

 

 

“oh hell nah, he did not just sign off with kind regards,” ryujin sniggers. “the is this? some kind of professional work email? an agenda? ha! this just made my morning.”

 

 

“can you pipe the down?” you growl, shutting your locker as you rip the letter out of her hands. “you’re so loud that i might just return you back to the animal shelter.”

 

 

your friend cackles at your joke, arms knotting across her chest as her back touches the row of lockers beside yours. “looks like someone’s grouchy.” she observes with an innocent smile. “did last night really hit you that hard?”

 

 

you? grouchy? she’s mistaken if she thinks she’s offended you, because grouchy might just be the only word that can describe you — you’re the reincarnation of the old man from up, or squidward from spongebob. rarely nothing impresses you, as evident in your trademark frown.

and oh god — even at the mention of last night makes your gastric contents gurgle inside your stomach. you wouldn’t be all too surprised if it surged up your esophagus and caused you to projectile vomit all over your friend. had it been your choice, you would’ve skipped monday classes for a proper eight-hour sbyunp, but your brother was insistent. “how do you expect to graduate when you’re always hanging out with ryujin and her friends?” you recall jake nagging in his usual pretentious tone. “i’m driving you to school. get in the car.”

 

 

ignoring ryujin, you sling your handbag over your shoulder. the both of you make your way down the hallway, parting seas of people.

momentary silence befalls the two of you, and while you desperately hope it continues this way, it’s inevitable that your talkative friend eventually punctures the peace by lightly nudging your elbow.

 

 

“so… we’re just not going to talk about that weirdo byun baekhyun?”

 

 

“what’s there to talk about?” you mumble, adjusting the sunglasses on your face. “i don’t even know who that is.”

it’s only 8am and you’re already lying — you know exactly who byun baekhyun is.

 

 

he sticks out like a sore thumb.

 

 

he’s the top student; he’s the one with perfect grades, the one that wears his pristine, untarnished uniform to a fault, and the one whose brown deer-like eyes are hidden behind big round glasses. he’s always the one delivering the principal’s address during assemblies. he always wears both backpack straps snugly and even tucks his thumbs underneath them when he walks. his shoes are never soiled and you’ve never seen a strand of his dark brown hair in disarray.

 

 

he’s every parent’s greatest fantasy and every child’s least favourite sibling. but to you, he’s the boy with a loaded gun, because while you’ve only spoken to him once in your entire life, he had been the one to accidentally walk in on you spilling your greatest secret a year ago.

and for that reason, you think a part of you resents him just a little bit.

 

 

“you know, baekhyun. the guy with the glasses? the four-eyed dweeb that’s attached to the headmaster’s hip?” ryujin eyes you, offended by your ignorance. you feign a nonchalant shrug.

 

 

“seriously? you don’t know who i’m talking about? he’s literally in our math class. jeez, you’re so self-involved.”

front row, you remember. he sits in the front row, with his pencils and gudetama-patterned notebooks and star wars pencil case all neatly perfectly aligned on his desk. you stare at the back of his head way too often, but only because it always manages to look the exact same no matter what day it is.

 

 

he might just be an android.

 

 

“teach me how to date,” ryujin echoes his words with a snigger. “what kind of pick up line is that? why couldn’t he have asked to bone like any other normal person?” she snorts. “and jeez, the nerve of the guy since everyone knows you’re practically dating taehyun. and not gonna lie, i’m kinda surprised he doesn’t want to date someone from his own species—”

 

 

“shut up.”

 

 

“—like, i’m sure there’s some sort of robot he can procreate with. dude, what do you think the compatibility between byun baekhyun and siri is? must be like ninety-nine point nine percent. and holy their babies would actually be insane—”

 

 

“ryujin. shut up.”

 

 

ryujin looks at you with an offended expression at your sudden interruption, though your eyes are trained ahead of you.

there.

 

 

baekhyun’s there.

 

 

you stare at him from across the hallway, noticing the commotion. a few people are crowded around his locker, including baekhyun, taehyun, and some of the latter’s friends.

 

 

baekhyun looks awfully uncomfortable, because he’s staring off at the side with his fingers twiddling the bottom of his blazer. taehyun, on the other hand, is speaking at him with a smirk.

before you know it, you’re already shoving your way past the masses of student bodies. as you near the disturbance, once incomprehensible syllables are now melded into coherent sentences that float in the air.

 

 

“c’mon, dude, be cool.” taehyun. “just for today. if anything goes wrong, your dad’s got your back, right?”

 

 

“a-ah, i don’t know…” a soft voice mutters. it’s baekhyun. of course it’s baekhyun — he doesn’t strike you as anything other than soft-spoken, and when you’re finally close enough, you know it to be true.

 

 

“but, baekhyunie,” taehyun chuckles, a twinge of condescension evident in his tone. it’s in his classic trademark — taehyun’s always prudent enough to never be outrightly hostile, though he never refuses the opportunity to inject just the tiniest amount of condescension. “just this once. you don’t want your friend to go into juvie, do you? hm?”

 

 

“taehyun.” you announce your presence with a stern voice. baekhyun, taehyun and his accompanying friends all snap their heads up at you, though ironically baekhyun’s eyes are the first pair that yours encounter.

his mousy eyes widen slightly in recognition, and you notice he stands a little straighter when he sees you. he uses a finger to slide his wire gold-rimmed glasses higher up his button nose, gulping once at your stare. you say nothing, though your eyes follow the length of his pristine uniform. his perfectly ironed blazer is embellished with various badges of achievement, accompanying the long school tie that runs the length of his chest.

 

 

“oh, hey babe.” taehyun remarks casually. you tear your eyes from baekhyun’s, eyeing taehyun with a frown.

 

 

“what are you doing?” you ask.

 

 

“just hanging out with my best friend.” he answers, using his chin to gesture toward baekhyun. you feel a prick of annoyance at taehyun’s comment — does he always have to be an ? sure, baekhyun may be the four-eyed dweeb ryujin likes to call him, but there’s no way he’s stupid enough to not hear taehyun’s mockery.

 

 

“let’s go to class.” you counter, potentially de-escalating the situation. you know how taehyun can be — sometimes, all it takes is a single word and things can go south real quick.

 

 

“yeah, in a bit.” he brushes you off, turning back to baekhyun with a wicked grin. “so what do you say? you’ll take the drug test for me?”

“taehyun.” you seethe.

 

 

he throws his head back with a loud sigh. “babe, respectfully, piss off.” he gives you the side-eye. “class can wait.”

a scoff bounces from your chest. “the headmaster is looking for you,” you sneer. it’s a lie, but you can’t help that this is your speciality — you’re an excellent liar, and in situations like these, words come flowing out your mouth like water. “i saw him earlier this morning. he’s probably patrolling the hallways just in case you’re trying to get out of the drug test.”

 

 

“wait, for real? .” taehyun immediately groans. he rolls his eyes in annoyance before eyeing baekhyun. he then reaches over and ruffles the boy’s hair, flashing a contemptuous smirk. “i gotta go. let’s talk later?”

before baekhyun has the opportunity to reply, taehyun has already begun to make his exit. you watch his back disappear, satisfaction bringing the edge of your lips into a small smirk.

success!

 

 

your lips then immediately fall into a frown, while you turn over your shoulder with a murderous glower. “what the do you guys want?” you ask with a sneer, scowling at the bystanders that had formed a crowd. they slowly dissipate, seemingly disappointed that they weren’t there to witness a fight. as they scatter away, you turn back around and face baekhyun, lips pressed into a thin line.

he stares at you, eyelashes fluttering with soft blinks.

 

 

“oh, um, th-thanks.”

 

 

you merely stare, mind mostly set on the letter you had just found in your locker. perhaps this is not the time nor place to acknowledge it.

“don’t block the footpath next time.” you say curtly, before grabbing ryujin to yank her away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

···

tap. tap. tap.

 

 

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