Baekhyun/Chanyeol, high school!au | PG-13 | ~15k
Chanyeol is anti-Baekhyun. Baekhyun is pro-Chanyeol. Alternatively: Chanyeol doesn’t like a particular boy who sits in his calculus class because of his face.
A/N: For someone who claims she doesn't ship baekyeol, you talk about them a lot - lunathunderhead
chasing what you already have
“I don’t like him.”
“I know,” Kyungsoo says, unperturbed in the slightest as he works his way through another aisle, filing the books in alphabetical order based on authors’ last names.
“His existence upsets me, Kyungsoo,” Chanyeol says. His tries to make it obvious that he’s pouting, but unless he shoves his face in front of Kyungsoo’s, Kyungsoo isn’t really giving a fuck.
“At least this is a thing you’re consistent about. It makes it slightly less unnerving to be around you,” Kyungsoo says. Chanyeol is reminded again of his bluntness. Jongin calls it honesty.
“I thought you would empathize with me, way to let me down man,” Chanyeol mumbles, trailing now slightly further behind as Kyungsoo transfers more books from the drop-off box onto the cart.
“Just because I don’t know the guy doesn’t mean I don’t like him. Unlike someone,” he says, giving Chanyeol a look. “Have you even spoken to him before?”
“It’s just? His face? His entire being?” Chanyeol tries, his hands waving in that flaily circle he makes when he tries to explain the algorithm behind how to train your pokemon, which involves actual math, to Sehun like it matters in his life.
Kyungsoo stares. “His face.”
Chanyeol nods eagerly. “Yeah, his face.”
Kyungsoo looks at the book in his hands. He looks like he’s pondering on something. “I think Kris is a better candidate to handle your Baekhyun-induced rage.”
“I’m not raging -”
“Excuse me?” A girl appears next to them, bottom lip caught between her teeth as she looks between the two of them. She looks at Chanyeol, takes in his backwards snapback and hoodie two sizes too big along with tight jeans, and promptly turns to Kyungsoo. “I’m looking for a book?”
“Sure, what’s it called?” Kyungsoo says, smiling his Customer Service smile, and Chanyeol knows he’s dismissed.
Kris’ strategy for handling Chanyeol’s Baekhyun-induced rage is, as it turns out, to nod sagely whenever Chanyeol sighs exasperatedly at him. But otherwise, he’s staring at his Biology textbook, trying to distinguish between T cells and B cells. Chanyeol’s messing him up.
“Okay, okay, stop,” Kris says, both hands held up. Chanyeol freezes. “Both are produced in the bone marrow, but T goes into thymus to mature. T for thymus.” He drops his hands. “Carry on.”
“You’re not even paying attention to the things I’m saying,” Chanyeol whines, kicking up at Kris’ shins. He misses spectacularly, hitting his heels on the wheels of Kris’ rolly chair.
“I am. It’s just I’ve pretty much heard everything. Five times over. Every other week.”
Chanyeol frowns. “But there’s so much to complain about.”
“Chanyeol,” Kris sighs, finally spinning around. Chanyeol’s sitting on the floor in front of him, legs crossed over each other. There’s a hole in his sock where his big toe pokes out. “I need ten hands to count the number of times you talk about his face. Just his face.”
“I can’t believe you still use your fingers to count.”
“I never said I -”
“And besides, it’s not just his face. It’s, like, everything. I mean...”
“You have a grand total of one class with him and as far as I know, you’ve never even talked to the guy.” Kris spins back around, highlighter cap back between his teeth.
“I don’t need to talk to him. This is like love at first sight. Except it’s hate. You know?”
Kris says dryly, “The romantic in me is dying,” and Chanyeol snorts.
“Romance has nothing to do with this conversation,” he snaps. “Our calculus class has randomized assigned seats, and it’s been sixty-four days into the semester and there are ten something days before Baekhyun and I are bound to be paired up.”
“I can’t believe you actually calculated the number of pairings in that class,” Kris shakes his head.
“I had to in preparation for the inevitable,” Chanyeol says solemnly, as if it’s the answer to all his life problems. It probably is.
Kris shrugs a shoulder, and that’s his signal that he’s completely done with the conversation. Chanyeol sighs. Kris doesn’t turn back around.
Chanyeol feels he is very justified in his feelings towards Byun Baekhyun even though he is the only person who has an opinion on Baekhyun within his friend group. He’s a transfer student, appeared for the first time in the beginning of senior year, and his face, new and unfamiliar, is upsetting. Chanyeol likes consistency, even if he himself is the epitome of the opposite. Baekhyun ruins the daily schedule Chanyeol has molded himself into, and that’s not okay.
Sehun, in his rainbow-haired glory, is mildly surprised when Chanyeol sits down across from him during lunch and starts tearing away the wrapping around his sandwich. “What’s with you?”
Chanyeol chews his sandwich aggressively. “Baekhyun scored higher than me on the integral test.”
Sehun lets out a low whistle over his ketchup-soaked tater tots. “Ouch. That blows. What did he get?”
“I dunno,” Chanyeol mumbles. Crumbles are falling from the corner of his lips onto the table.
“Then how did you know he scored higher than you?”
“He got his paper last. Teach always passes papers back from lowest grade to highest, come on you should know this, he’s your dad!”
“Well, I’m sorry if my dad doesn’t pass out graded papers at home,” Sehun rolls his eyes. “You know, for a someone who hates Baekhyun so much, you sure talk about him a lot.”
“I think the word you’re looking for is complain. Or rant. Any permutations thereof.”
“Don’t talk about permutations when I have precalc next,” Sehun makes a face. He’s playing around with the last piece of buffalo wings on his tray. Chanyeol eyes it hungrily. “You guys probably got the same score. What did you get, another hundred?”
“No,” Chanyeol says, “I missed a problem because Dr. Oh’s four’s and six’s look exactly the same.”
Sehun nods understandably. “Yeah, that’s getting to be a real problem.”
Chanyeol groans into his arms. “I had a streak. Five perfect scores, five, Sehun!”
“I feel like this is the part where I should sympathize with you somehow,” Sehun shrugs as he stacks his tray on top of Chanyeol’s. “Unfortunately, seeing as I am on the verge of failing precalc, I really can’t.”
“I don’t understand that, your dad is a math whiz.”
“So are you and look where it got you in life.”
“Wow thanks,” Chanyeol says as Sehun stands up and swings his backpack over his shoulder.
“Hey, come over to my house today to tutor me, okay? If my dad doesn’t see improvement on my next test, I’m dead.”
“You can’t freeload off my intelligence,” Chanyeol shouts after him as Sehun pushes out the door, “you’re already freeloading off my right to sit in the senior section!”
The door slams close and few heads are turned but Chanyeol ignores them in lieu of dumping his trays in the trash. The milk carton somehow slides off and lands on the floor, and Chanyeol glares at it as if it personally offended him.
The bell rings, and the cafeteria erupts with noises of scraping chairs and shuffled papers of rushed homework finished five minutes before class starts. Chanyeol suddenly remembers his World Lit essay is due tomorrow. He hasn’t even started. His forehead meets the table.
“Dude, there’s like a huge red spot on your -” Sehun starts when Chanyeol appears at his front door, and is stopped with a well-placed finger on his mouth.
“Don’t talk, stupidity is contagious,” Chanyeol says, expression serious.
Sehun looks slightly horrified when he removes his hand. “I think your finger just went into my nose.”
“All in the name of friendship,” Chanyeol says resolutely, discreetly wiping his finger on Sehun’s shirt when he swings an arm around his shoulder. “Now, what is the trouble, my Good Friend?”
“Uh, you attempting to sound like a semi-adult? It’s slightly disturbing.”
Chanyeol pouts. “Kris said to work on my role model image.”
“There is no image to be worked on,” Sehun says. They trudge up the stairs, Chanyeol’s backpack thumping with every step because he claims it’s too heavy. Sehun’s room is unnaturally clean, the walls bleach white and bare of any posters. “It’s called being organized, jackass,” he said once when Chanyeol opened his closet and found that his clothes were lined up based on color sequence.
The test Sehun is having a panic attack over is covering sequences, geometric and arithmetic. They’re allowed the formula packet, which defeats the purpose of everything, in Chanyeol’s honest opinion. But he helps Sehun nonetheless, like the Good Friend he claimed to be.
“I swear, sometimes I wish you’d teach our class,” Sehun mumbles as he wipes away eraser crumbs from his third sheet of scratch paper. Chanyeol tends to write all over the place when he’s helping, large loops of six’s and zero’s with equal signs attached.
“Aw, you’re cute when you’re nice,” Chanyeol coos, cackling when Sehun flings his relatively empty pencil pouch at his face.
It’s getting dark, and Chanyeol manages to finish his chemistry notes, stomach pressed against the carpeted floor, when Sehun suddenly pipes up, “Hey, don’t you... have a World Lit paper to do?”
“Shit,” Chanyeol hisses, elbows connecting with the ground with a dull thud in his haste to stand up. “Shit, shit, shit, oh my God, how did this fucking happen?” He throws his books and crams whatever paper he needs into his backpack. Sehun cringes at the sound of something tearing.
“Good luck -” Sehun’s cut off by the slam of his door as Chanyeol rushes down the stairs, taking the steps two at a time. There’s the sound of rushed farewells with his parents before the front door opens and shuts. The house is quiet again.
Pulling an all-nighter is not a foreign concept to Chanyeol. In fact, he’s convinced his schedule has somehow turned him nocturnal. Then again, he thinks it’s cool to still be alive after twenty-four hours of staying conscious. Others can’t really tell if he’s just doing it on purpose or not. But eyebags are hard to hide, and Kyungsoo is quick to point this out on the bus.
“... Did you sleep?” He wonders if he even needs to ask.
“Well,” Chanyeol says slowly, dragging the word out. “It depends, you see. I think I passed out somewhere between one thousand and two thousand words. But then I looked at my word count and it was like, what, three thousand words? And it was six o’clock? In the morning?” He yawns so hard his jaw cracks.
Kyungsoo thinks he should be impressed. He’s not. “Did you finish at least?”
“Ehhhh,” Chanyeol motions vaguely with his hands. He does that a lot. “It’s past word limit. I’ll clean it up during lunch. It’s due before school ends right?”
The last bell, Chanyeol’s saving grace. Kyungsoo nods his head. “Yeah, you should have time.”
Time, in essence, is not on Chanyeol’s side as it seems. During lunch he’s dragged away by the newspaper clique for an interview on the talent show he won first place last year. “It was great,” is all he remembers mumbling before they set him up against the artfully graffitied brick wall behind the journalism class, and ask him to smile. He doesn’t recall if he did or didn’t but they must’ve been satisfied because they finally left him alone.
He only has two classes after lunch before school ends, and one of them is chemistry, which he is failing. Miserably. He balances his options. Skipping it is.
His hands are shaking so hard he barely manages to plug his flashdrive in one of the library’s computers. There is barely anyone around, and the teacher assistant in charge is popping gum and looking at the latest Glam magazine.
He quickly clicks through his files, opening the word document, and his horror grows as he scrolls through his work. Apparently, during his “passing out”, he not only managed to go past word limit but also wrote about CIA’s and aliens and basically anything and everything not related to the topic of power dynamics in A Streetcar Named Desire in his haze of unconsciousness. He’s fucked.
“I’m so fucked,” he whispers, fingers flying over the keyboard but not really typing anything. At this point, his brain feels like mush and the battery of optimism is at an all-time low. He buries his face in his hands and takes deep, shuddering breaths. He tries to press his tears back into his eye sockets, but that’s not how the human anatomy works, and his palms come away wet.
“Chanyeol...?” Someone taps him softly on the shoulder. Chanyeol wipes hurriedly at his cheeks, slightly embarrassed, and turns around to find Byun Baekhyun standing in front of him, a five subject notebook clutched to his chest.
“What do you want? Shouldn’t you be in class?” Chanyeol doesn’t mean to snap but he’s having a slightly traumatizing meltdown right now and he’d rather have this meltdown alone. Combine that with seeing the last person he wants to see on earth right now, his lips are pulled into more of a sneer than the usual toothy smile.
“It’s my study period. And uhm, I come here a lot. It’s quiet. I can study better,” Baekhyun mumbles a little near the end of his rambling, and if Chanyeol paid closer attention he would’ve seen his ears tinted pink at the tips. “Are you okay? What are you working on?”
Chanyeol ignores the first question. “World Lit,” he sighs, turning back to the screen. He feels like throwing up. “I need, I need to fix it, it’s all fucked up.”
Baekhyun suddenly grabs a chair and rolls up to Chanyeol’s side. “I can help?”
Chanyeol eyes him hesitantly. “Didn’t you say you were studying?”
Baekhyun fumbles with the large notebook in his hands. Chanyeol takes note of his fingers and how thin they are. He never really noticed them before. “Well, I don’t have really anything important to study right now, uhm, I’m done with my World Lit.”
“Did you do yours on Streetcar?”
Baekhyun nods his head excitedly. “Yeah, yeah, I did!” He suddenly ducks his head down, looking around to see if anyone noticed his outburst. He lowers his voice. “It’s one of my favorites. I did mine on the difference in class standards between Blanche and Stanley.”
“Huh, it’s kind of similar to mine. I think?”
“What’s your topic?”
“Power dynamics. Just in general, I guess.”
Baekhyun tilts his head, thinking. His bottom lip gets sucked in between his teeth. “It’s a bit of a broad subject. Let’s see what you have so far.” Before Chanyeol can stop him, Baekhyun’s scrolling through his essay. “... ‘CIA agents devising new ways to spy on homeowners,’ Chanyeol what the hell?”
Chanyeol feels his face sagging. “It’s a long story.”
“I’ll say,” Baekhyun says, smirking a little. Chanyeol blinks rapidly while Baekhyun skims through the rest of his essay, trying to clear his head because Baekhyun’s arm is brushing against his and it feels surprisingly nice.
“Let’s get to work shall we?” Baekhyun asks him, and the smile he gives Chanyeol is encouraging.
Chanyeol nods, voice hoarse when he says, “Fuck yeah,” trying to ignore the way Baekhyun’s laugh makes him want to smile too.
“Did I,” Sehun says incredulously, “spy you walking out of the library with the enemy?”
Chanyeol waves a hand in his face. “No. Stop. Stop right there.”
“You two were breathing the same air.”
“You were smiling.”
Chanyeol slams his hand down on Sehun’s shoulder, curling his fingers into the skin to keep him from curling them around Sehun’s neck. “I will do things you will regret, Oh Sehun, if you don’t shut the fuck up.”
“What, puke on me?” Sehun scoffs and then regrets it because Chanyeol looks like he’s seriously considering it. “But hey, hey, you turned in your World Lit right?”
Chanyeol sighs, hand slipping off his shoulder. “Baekhyun helped.”
“Oh,” Sehun says, and then it actually hits him. “Ooohhh.”
“Why the longer ‘oh’, there’s nothing to ‘oh’ at!”
“There’s plenty to ‘oh’ at, and I’m just starting to realize how stupid you are.”
Chanyeol rears back. “I am offended. You offended me, Sehun.”
“Cry me a river, build a bridge, and get the fuck over it,” Sehun says, not bothering with the hand motions. His hair is somehow back to silver. Chanyeol wonders how dry it is.
“Speaking of crying,” he says, “how was precalc?”
Sehun makes a noise that sounds like a strangled seal. “Could’ve gone better.”
Chanyeol sighs. “I swear to god, your head is like a black hole. Things go in but they never stick.”
“I’m hoping for a C, okay! B if I’m lucky,” Sehun grumbles, fingers tugging at the loose thread on his jeans. “And don’t you have a bus to catch?”
“Fuck,” Chanyeol shouts as he takes off, backpack swinging wildly on his back. He looks a little stupid, long legs looking like they’ll trip over each other any minute. Sehun arches an eyebrow and checks his watch. He sighs and prepares to ask his dad if they can give Chanyeol a lift.
The buses are long gone by the time Chanyeol gets there. He’s sweating and panting, hands on his knees as he tries to catch his breath.
“Don’t do that, your brain won’t get oxygen that way.”
Chanyeol looks up with difficulty, one eye shut against the glare of the sun. Somehow, Baekhyun’s standing in front of him for the second time that day. “What?”
“You’ll pass out like that,” Baekhyun says. Chanyeol straightens up. “You’re suppose to cross your hands behind the back of your head. And just stand straight.”
“Huh,” Chanyeol says. He tries it. His chest feels surprisingly lighter and he’s breathing a little easier. “Wow, you’re right.”
“As I tend to be most of the time,” Baekhyun says, smile bright and honest. “Were you supposed to take the bus?” He points to the empty bus lot.
“Uh, yeah, obviously I’m not anymore,” Chanyeol sighs, realizing why he was even here in the first place. He frowns at Baekhyun. “What are you doing here? You don’t take the bus.”
“No, I had to move some things for the theatre club backstage.” They’re standing in front of the back exit of the auditorium, where the bus picks up. It’s an unfortunate spot, too many unruly teenagers itching to get back home and people rushing here and there. Fights have broken out more than once. Chanyeol unfortunately missed them all.
“You in theatre club?” Chanyeol asks, genuinely curious.
Baekhyun nods. His bangs flop against his forehead, and they’re long enough to almost cover his eyes. “We’re preparing for a musical soon. You should come!” he adds suddenly, stepping so close to Chanyeol so quickly Chanyeol automatically takes three steps back.
“I -I have to think about it,” he says. Baekhyun’s expression falls a little but then he’s smiling with all teeth.
“Yeah, of course! Tell me soon though, I can probably get you a free ticket,” he says. He shoulders his backpack, adjusting the strap so it settles more comfortably. Chanyeol suddenly notices the way Baekhyun’s almost dwarfed beneath the ridiculous bulk on his back. His own load is surprisingly light today.
“Lots of homework today, huh?” he asks.
“What? Oh, right,” Baekhyun lets out a soft laugh. “Lots of uhm calculus things. Can never be too ahead. Speaking of which, I should probably head back.”
Chanyeol’s a little shocked at Baekhyun’s sudden rush but doesn’t say anything besides see you as Baekhyun rushes past him. He hears a chirpy, “Hey Sehun!” and freezes on the spot.
He can almost feel the incriminating look Sehun is burning on his back. He turns around slowly, almost comically, his arms still in the exact position they were. “So, uhm.”
“So, uhm,” Sehun mocks. “Same air, Chanyeol. You’re slipping, my good friend.”
“How long have you been here exactly?”
“Long enough,” Sehun says slyly. Chanyeol used to think his smile was kinda cute. Now, not so much. “So much for hating his face, huh?”
“It’s not just his face, jesus,” Chanyeol sighs. He has the sudden urge to bury himself. Or Sehun. “And he helped me on my World Lit, the least I can do is talk to the guy.”
“Uh huh,” Sehun says, totally convinced. Chanyeol is very convincing. “Well, hurry up, my dad’s waiting for us.”
“Thanks man,” Chanyeol says, genuinely grateful. He doesn’t want to count the number of times Sehun had to give him a lift.
“You’re not getting off that easily,” Sehun warns as he trails behind him.
“You wouldn’t be Oh Sehun if you did,” Chanyeol yells over his shoulder. Sehun’s laugh is still kind of cute.
A week or so goes by, and in that time, Chanyeol’s advisor complimented him on a more-than-halfway-decent World Lit draft, Sehun got an A on his precalc test, and Baekhyun has been nowhere near him in calculus.
“Your face is going to break if you keep doing that,” Jongin says to him when they’re drifting in Chanyeol’s backyard pool.
“If it keeps doing what?” Chanyeol asks. He turns his head to the side and sputters because he’s floating on his back with his mouth wide open.
“That... thing you do. When you’re happy,” Jongin say. “It’s like Halloween came early and you’re preparing to cosplay as the Joker without any makeup.”
“Smiling never hurt anyone,” Chanyeol says, attempting to kick water on Jongin’s face. He only succeeds in kicking water onto himself.
Jongin swims to the side with lazy strokes, picking up the bottle of pepsi he left precariously on the edge. “Why are you so damn happy anyway?” he pauses. “Okay, that came out more pessimistic than I intended.”
“Yeah, it did,” Chanyeol laughs, standing up. The water comes up a little past his stomach and the air is turning cold in preparation for the October chill. Goosebumps run up his back and along his arms, leaving him shivering. “And I dunno. A lot of things are turning out, like, really well? My advisor said my essay only needs a few tweaking and it’ll be good to go for a final draft.”
“I heard a certain someone helped you with that,” Jongin says. He has this expression on where his eyebrows are raised and he just looks cocky as fuck. Chanyeol swipes a wave of water at his face, knocking over his pepsi.
“Sehun can’t keep his fat mouth shut,” Chanyeol groans. He flops back on the water, arms floating limp by his side.
Jongin waddles over, poking his stomach. “Seriously though, you would think after that, you’d at least try to not hate the guy.”
Chanyeol wiggles away from Jongin’s sharp fingernails. He doesn’t really want to admit, because of a certain aspect of himself called stubbornness, that Baekhyun isn’t as bad as he pinned him to be. The help with Chanyeol’s tragic World Lit essay shined a new light on things, specifically that of Baekhyun’s writing abilities. That can come in handy.
“Oh god, I’m becoming machiavellian like Sehun,” he says suddenly, rolling over until he realized he isn’t on a bed and there’s no pillow for him to press into, sputtering again as water floods his mouth.
Jongin stares judgingly. “What the fuck was that?”
“Nothing,” Chanyeol says, shaking water from his hair. “I just realized you and Sehun are horrible friends.”
Jongin shouts, “Hey!” as Chanyeol walks his way slowly to the ladder, hooking his feet on the rubber steps and hauling himself up. Water runs down his legs, and the cold seeps into his bones so quickly, he nearly slips on the deck running to get his towel. Jongin cackles behind him.
“Chanyeol,” Dr. Oh says right before Chanyeol steps out the door. He isn’t holding a folder or paper or anything, and he doesn’t look pissed as far as Chanyeol can tell. He’s trying to think of anything he’s done as he walks to Dr. Oh’s desk slowly. He did fall asleep three classes in a row last week.
“Yes, Dr. Oh?”
“Are you available to tutor?”
So this isn’t about his chronic sleep deprivation. “Uh? I -I think so?”
“There’s a student I’d like you to teach a few of your tricks to,” Dr. Oh explains. “He’s not terrible, just a bit behind because the curriculum at his previous school was different. If you guys can, arrange a weekly meeting. Doesn’t have to be terribly long if it’s hindering your daily schedule. Just to have him catch up.”
Chanyeol nods along. “I can do that. Who is he?”
“Byun Baekhyun,” Dr. Oh says with a smile.
“Oh my god, this is hilarious. No, this is fucking perfect,” Sehun howls as he clutches his stomach, rolling around on his bed in shrieking laughter.
“Shut up, holy fuck,” Chanyeol groans, stuffing his face into the pillow he’s hugging against his chest. He can hardly breathe but that’s beside the point. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
He feels the bed dip as Sehun shifts his weight. “Man, I don’t even care right now, this is the best day of my life.” He’s breathing heavily, probably from laughing his lungs out, and Chanyeol’s annoyance peaks high enough for him to smother the pillow on Sehun’s smug little face.
“And the day you get your dick lit on fire will be the best day of my life,” he says mid-struggle. Sehun is surprisingly strong for someone so scrawny and Chanyeol finds himself on the floor, winded.
“That’s mean,” Sehun says, peeking over the edge, not a single hair out of place. “All you have to do is tutor a classmate but I have to get my dick burned off.”
“You deserve more than a dick burning,” Chanyeol bites. He stays on the floor, back pressed against the hard carpet flooring. “I don’t get it though, Baekhyun scores pretty high? Why would he need tutoring?”
Sehun shrugs. “Well, I mean, besides that one time he scored higher than you, what were his other grades?”
Chanyeol blinks. “I. Don’t know? Am I supposed to know?”
“Keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer,” Sehun singsongs. “You don’t see where he lines up when my dad passes out other tests?”
Chanyeol thinks back. To be quite honest, Baekhyun just sort of disappears from his mind when tests are handed out. All he focuses on is the way his heart accelerates whenever the teacher passes, ascending grades stacked in his hands. It’s a small nightmare whenever this happens, and Chanyeol only takes a breath when he gets his scores back. It’s almost always the last one. He knows it’s ridiculous to get nervous but this is a niche he claimed back when he knew the multiplication table before his tiny classmates knew how to add. He gets lost in all the terms in chemistry and doesn’t really quite know how to not write run-off sentences but this, mathematics, is something he’s proud to say he’s good at.
He snaps out of it when Sehun whacks his head with the back of his hand. “Hey. I was saying that tutoring isn’t so bad. You can probably wheedle some money out of him if you want.”
Chanyeol scratches his nose. “That’s low. I’ll just tutor him for a while. He’s probably easier to teach than you.”
Sehun lets out an indignant squawk, and they both forget about homework and high school stress as Sehun traps Chanyeol in a headlock, laughing so loudly it echoes out the open window.
Baekhyun looks up surprised when Chanyeol approaches him during lunch the next day. Sehun told him to be friendly. “I’m the friendliest,” Chanyeol had said, pasting a smile on as best he could. Sehun had cringed and shooed him forward.
“You’re tutoring me?” Baekhyun asks for the fourth time.
Chanyeol sighs, exasperated. “Yes, I’m your tutor, at least for a while, so we need to set a place to... tutor.”
Baekhyun finally stops gawking at Chanyeol’s face. “Well, my room is kind of small to fit the both of us. So the library maybe? Or maybe your place?” He looks up, expression verging on a mix of curiosity and apprehension.
He doesn’t even have to consider the choices. “Library. Uhm, after school. We’ll keep the session to an hour for now.” He stands up a little straighter, looking at Baekhyun for confirmation.
He gives Chanyeol a tiny nod of the head, still looking lost but he seems happier about this than Chanyeol is.
“Okay. Well... See you, I guess,” Chanyeol says awkwardly, hesitating a second too long before he twists around on his heels and walks off stiffly. Sehun looks like he can’t breathe as he tries to muffle his snickers into the crook of his elbow.
“That went well,” he says later, still laughing under his breath.
“You’re the worst friend,” Chanyeol groans, looking down at his tray. Today’s Friday which means free pizza. They always make it slightly burnt though, and the cheese is just barely better than disgusting. He’s not hungry anyway.
“Have fun,” Sehun coos, poking Chanyeol in the nose with the end of his fork. A bit of the sauce from his homemade lasagna, which looks really fucking good right now, gets on Chanyeol’s face. He is just So Done.
“Besides,” Sehun continues, “he helped you with World Lit. You can at least help him back.”
“Why does everyone think I owe him something?” Chanyeol grumbles. He ignores Sehun’s you kinda do and glances over at where Baekhyun’s sitting. He’s talking to someone, another senior with a too-perfect smile.They’re laughing, Baekhyun’s hand coming up to slap against the other’s shoulder lightly. His eyes curve up until they’re almost closed, and Chanyeol turns away sharply, shoulders tight as he crosses his arms on top of the table.
“It won’t be so bad,” Sehun says, softer this time. Chanyeol wants to believe it.
Baekhyun’s already seated at a table, hands flat on the table as he stares blankly out the window. Chanyeol steps forward hesitantly and this is ridiculous, because he’s the tutor, what is he all nervous about?
Baekhyun turns around and he smiles. Chanyeol’s caught a little off guard, and he coughs. “Did you find the place okay?” is out of his mouth before he can think. Baekhyun looks at him funny like they didn’t talk for the first time in the library two weeks ago.
Chanyeol pulls out some scratch paper and clicks his pen a few times. “What do you want to go over?”
Baekhyun gives a light shrug. “Integrals, I guess.”
Chanyeol hums. Easy enough. He goes through the basics; how it’s basically derivatives but backwards. Baekhyun proves to be a faster student than Sehun as predicted but he’s just as easily distracted. Chanyeol finds himself rambling on sometimes and when he looks up, Baekhyun’s staring at something on his face. Chanyeol waves a hand in front of his nose.
“Hey, come on, focus,” he says. Baekhyun jerks back, yelping like a kicked puppy before hanging his head to stare at the paper with enough focus to burn a hole through the table.
The last handful of minutes pass by quickly, and Chanyeol’s honestly exhausted. Baekhyun didn’t say anything to him besides the occasional questions (“Wait, why isn’t it four?” “Because you have a negative one in the original equation.” “Oh.”), but he’s just a handful to look at. He never sits still, hands playing some sort of invisible tune against the fake wood of the table, slim fingers looking pale against the ugly green paint. Chanyeol tries not to notice how delicate Baekhyun’s hands are compared to his own.
“Same time next week?” Baekhyun asks, anticipation obvious in the way he looks up at Chanyeol hopefully. The height difference is almost comical; Baekhyun’s shoulder would serve as the perfect armrest.
“Yeah,” Chanyeol says simply before waving goodbye. Baekhyun waves back more enthusiastically, and Chanyeol feels compelled to stand and watch until his back disappears around the street corner. It’s getting dark, and Chanyeol tends to worry too much. Even about people he generally doesn’t care for. Shouldn’t care for.
He drives until he finds Baekhyun sitting at a lonely bus stop. The ad on the bench is so faded the words are illegible and the faces pockmarked. Baekhyun has his bag on his lap, legs kicking lightly at the dirt. He seems worn out under the dim street light, bangs casting stretched shadows over his eyes and nose. His fingers grip his bag tightly, nails digging into the fabric as if any moment, it’ll be ripped away from him.
Chanyeol nearly hits the bus stop pole when he drives half onto the grass, the car tilted to the left unpleasantly. “Hop in,” he says. Baekhyun gapes at him before quickly standing and swinging his bag over his shoulder.
“I uhm, you -you really don’t have to,” he says. He’s still standing on the grass and not in Chanyeol’s car so Chanyeol quickly waves him in. Technically he’s not supposed to be stopping here anyway. He wonders how many traffic violations he’s committing right now.
The car ride is silent. This is probably due to the fact that Baekhyun falls asleep after the first red light, and Chanyeol has a heavy enough conscience not to crank up his radio. He managed to get the address from Baekhyun before he completely passed out, and tapped it into the GPS in his phone.
It’s not a far ride from school and the neighborhood looks nice. Chanyeol rolls up slowly and isn’t real sure how to go about waking Baekhyun up when he hears the door opening and Baekhyun’s backpack shuffling out behind him.
“Thank you,” Baekhyun says, smile bright even through the grime of the car windows. He seems really grateful, and Chanyeol mutters under his breath who owes who now when he drives away.
Others eventually find out even after Chanyeol threatens Sehun’s Yugioh card collection to never spill a single word of this to anyone. The grapeyard in their friend circle is vicious, and Chanyeol’s on the short end of the stick.
“So,” Lu Han says. He doesn’t say anything after that for a while. “Wow, I was actually waiting for you to stop me.”
“What’s the point,” Chanyeol moans. “Nothing stops you from anything ever.”
“That is true. Except certain laws are stopping me from showing up at Sehun’s door with a bouquet of flowers and lube but besides that, you’re right.”
“Oh my god, no, I’m not listening to this,” Chanyeol says, slamming his busted Dre Beats over his ears. They do nothing now to block out the noise, and Lu Han smiles smugly as he waves a dismissive hand at Chanyeol.
“Relax, I won’t put you through the tortures of all the details.”
Chanyeol blanches. He didn’t know there were details.
“What are you so stressed about again? I mean, it’s just tutoring a kid in your calculus class. Doesn’t seem like you’re having a lot of trouble with it either,” Lu Han says.
Chanyeol hesitates to agree, wants to say that yes, he’s having a lot of trouble because Baekhyun’s well… Baekhyun, and that in and of itself is bad enough. But truth is, Baekhyun’s almost the perfect student to tutor, quiet and attentive, especially when it comes to Chanyeol for some strange reason. He relied this to Kris earlier but all Kris had to offer was you’re an idiot.
“It’s not too bad,” he mumbles. He wraps his arms around his knees. “I mean, he’s alright.”
Lu Han quirks an eyebrow. “Really now?”
“No, he’s actually horrible, I take everything back,” Chanyeol deadpans, and Lu Han laughs. He likes Lu Han’s laugh; it’s light and shockingly comforting when his jaw isn’t falling off his face. He can see why Sehun wants to be around him all the time.
“You can’t hate someone for no reason, Chanyeol.”
“I have a reason!”
“His face?” Lu Han snorts. Even his smile is judgemental.
“Good enough reason for me,” Chanyeol sniffs, jaw jutting out because he won’t back down from this one.
Lu Han lets it go though and goes on to complain about Sehun’s dreadful junior year schedule which is full of extended essays and internal assessments and everything horrible about IB. “Why is he taking four HLs for fuck’s sake?” Lu Han throws his arms up.
“Because he’s an idiot,” Chanyeol offers hopefully. He doesn’t know how Sehun’s juggling HL Biology, English, History, and Psychology. “At least he’s passing those.”
Lu Han laughs again. Suddenly Chanyeol sees Baekhyun at the lunch room, hands curled gently around someone’s forearms, eyes crescent-shaped and smile wide. He shakes his head and lets the image fade.
Two weeks in, and Sehun pipes up during lunch, “You’re unusually quiet.”
Chanyeol looks up from where he’s drenching his pizza in ranch dressing. “What?”
“Like… you’re not complaining.”
Chanyeol blinks. “Is there something I should be complaining about?”
Sehun stares at him. “Uhm. Baekhyun? The main source of your frustration for the past forever?”
“Oh,” Chanyeol says, dusting his fingers off on a napkin. “Him. Right. Well, I haven’t noticed his existence today so there’s really nothing to complain about.”
“Bullshit, you always notice his existence, that’s why you’re annoyed like twenty-four seven.”
“Now you’re just exaggerating,” Chanyeol says. He looks down at where he’s ripping the crust into tiny bits, letting the crumbs fall into a small pile on his tray.
“But you sat next to him in class last week,” Sehun says, looking genuinely confused as if Chanyeol’s lack of complaining is actually causing the world to tilt the wrong way. “Seriously, who are you?”
“I’m very tired,” Chanyeol says as he snatches his tray up and dumps it into the trash can. “I’ll see you later,” he mumbles.
Sehun opens his mouth but before he can say a word, Chanyeol’s pushing out the cafeteria, backpack swinging on one shoulder.
It isn’t until a month later does Chanyeol ask the question.
“Honestly, you’re really quick on picking stuff up, why did you need a tutor in the first place?” He draws aimless loops off the six he just wrote on the paper. He looks up but Baekhyun’s attention is directed to something on the ground, bottom lip sucked between his teeth.
“Just a little catching up, that’s all,” he says, shrugging. Chanyeol frowns.
“You scored higher than I did once. I remember that.”
Baekhyun looks at him, head tilted in confusion. Then it hits him. “Oh, oh, that uhm… I took the test late. So I guess he just put it on the bottom, I dunno. I didn’t score very high on it…” he trails off quietly.
Chanyeol raises an eyebrow questioningly but let’s it go. “Well, uhm, you don’t really… have much to catch up on now. Our test is in a week and you’re pretty much set.”
Baekhyun finally looks at him. He’s smiling but it’s not as bright as it used to be. Chanyeol wonders why he even notices things like this. “Oh!” Baekhyun says suddenly and then dives down for his backpack, digging around inside. “Before I forget…”
The card he slides towards Chanyeol is glossy with rounded corners. Written in overly-cursive font is the title A Midsummer Night’s Musical.
“Since when was this a musical?”
Baekhyun laughs. “Since now. I’m Demetrius,” he says. The name sounds important, and Chanyeol almost wants to ask what the play is about even though he just studied it last year. All the Shakespeare plays just sort of blur together after a while.
“Huh… Is this my free ticket?” He spins it between his fingers.
“Yup, feel special,” Baekhyun says. Before Chanyeol can say something witty back, Baekhyun’s suddenly pushing his chair back with a loud screech and heaving the bulky backpack over his shoulder. Chanyeol wonders if he carries around five textbooks and ten bricks just for the hell of it. “I’ll be going then. Hell Week next week.”
“What’s Hell Week,” Chanyeol asks.
“The week before the musical,” Baekhyun explains as he shoves a much too big cap over his head. It settles a bit crooked, the brim nearly covering his eyes.
“But our test is next week,” Chanyeol says.
“Thus Hell Week,” Baekhyun says. He looks really ridiculous with that hat on. Chanyeol sighs dramatically and stretches.
“Well, I guess my job here’s done,” he says. Baekhyun shuffles from feet to feet, looking dangerously close to flat-out falling on his face with how heavy his backpack is.
“Does that mean… our tutor sessions are over?”
Chanyeol thinks he’s imagining the disappointment in Baekhyun’s voice. He nods curtly. “Yup,” he says. “I mean, you’re smart, you can do the rest.” He stands up, sweeping everything into his backpack, scrap paper included.
“Yeah. I’ll see you next week then.” And with that, Baekhyun walks out through the automatic sliding doors. Chanyeol doesn’t watch him leave this time.
“You know, I’ve been thinking,” Sehun begins during lunch.
“Really? I didn’t know you held that much mental ability to think,” Chanyeol snorts.
Sehun frowns at him, looking hurt. “You’re being extra mean lately,” he says. Chanyeol deflates in his seat, his spaghetti pasta untouched.
“I’m sorry, man, it’s just… Things.”
“Things,” Sehun repeats, voice flat.
“Anyway, you were thinking…?”
“More like wondering. I finally got a chance to talk to Baek and he’s… not bad, Chanyeol. Like, he’s actually really funny and stuff. After all those tutoring session, I would think you’d actual start liking him or something.”
“Since when did he become Baek?” Chanyeol asks. “Are you guys buddy-buddy now?”
“That’s not the point,” Sehun throws a straw at him. “What I’m saying is Baekhyun’s a nice guy, you’re just being way too fucking stubborn -”
“No, no, this isn’t going to be about me, okay,” Chanyeol says firmly, enunciating his words with each stab of his fork at the slippery meatball. “This is about Baekhyun and how you’re a traitor.”
“Hey, if you’re such good friends with him, have this,” Chanyeol pulls out the crumbled ticket from his jean pocket. Sehun takes it with a confused look. “Baekhyun’s performing in it Friday and Saturday nights so knock yourself out.” He attempts a vigorous stab at the meatball and it somehow launches itself out of his tray, landing with a plop a few feet down the table. It’s where the SGA group sits and the vice-president or secretary, Chanyeol doesn’t know anymore, turns and looks around, bewildered.
“But Baekhyun gave this to you,” Sehun says.
“Yeah and I don’t want it,” Chanyeol snaps.
He looks down at his ruined lunch and pretends he doesn’t see the disappointment in Sehun’s face.
On the surface, Chanyeol still hates Byun Baekhyun. He hates the way Baekhyun laughs during lunch, sometime so loudly it carries above all the noise; how he sits quietly in the back of calculus class, notes all neat and organized on his desk; the light taps of his long nails against the desk, slender fingers a blur as he spins a pen between them.
But start shoveling, and somewhere beneath all that, Chanyeol knows he’s being too fucking stubborn.
Chanyeol walks into calculus class, integral equations racing through his head as he takes his seat. His eyes shift automatically to Baekhyun’s seat which is surprisingly empty. He’s usually ten minutes early, looking too alive for a normal human being to be in the morning.
Dr. Oh’s passing out the test, ten minutes after the bell had rung, when Baekhyun literally comes bursting in. He’s got a thin hoodie on even though it’s almost below freezing outside, and there are eyebags heavier than Chanyeol’s during exam week beneath his eyes.
“Mr. Byun, how nice of you to join us,” Dr. Oh says dryly, not even bothering to look up. “Please take your seat and get ready.”
“Yes sir,” Baekhyun replies hastily, and he sounds so out of breath. Chanyeol watches, concerned, as Baekhyun seem to drop his whole weight on his chair, shoulders slumped as he digs through his backpack for his pencil bag.
Chanyeol’s distracted throughout the whole test, tilting his head up every so often to look at the back of Baekhyun’s head. He’s still got his hoodie on because Dr. Oh isn’t really one to care about school regulations just as long as students pay attention in class. Baekhyun’s right leg is jiggling frantic and sometimes it’ll stop and start all over again. It’s mildly distracting and worrisome at the same time; Chanyeol doesn’t think he’s ever seen Baekhyun this nervous during a test before.
Then again, he’s not really sure how Baekhyun is with tests at all. He suddenly regrets not paying as much attention as he should’ve.
Chanyeol is the first to finish, as usual, even after double checking everything. He looks around cautiously before standing up and slipping his test inside the manila folder on Dr. Oh’s desk. “Good job,” the teacher says automatically, eyes never straying from the book in front of his nose.
Chanyeol nods, turning back to look at Baekhyun. He’s hunched over his desk, left hand rubbing at his neck through his hoodie. Chanyeol recognizes it as his habit whenever he gets frustrated with a problem during their tutoring sessions.
Chanyeol walks out of the classroom. The bell hasn’t rung yet and the hallway is deserted. He walks past a few lockers before walking back, peering carefully through the window into the classroom. He can’t see Baekhyun’s face because of the hoodie but his head is dipping dangerously close to the desk. He suddenly snaps up and rubs a hand over his eyes.
“Shit, oh my god, did he not sleep last night,” Chanyeol hisses. Sleep deprivations added with nerves will never result in high test scores.
Hell week next week, he suddenly remembers Baekhyun saying. He groans and settles with sitting against the opposite wall, arms wrapped around his knees. He plugs in his iPod, Benzino blasting out of his headphones. A teacher walks past and glares at him but he doesn’t care.
It feels like a day and a half passed before the bell rung and a rush of students are suddenly filling the hallway. Chanyeol hastily stands up, twisting and weaving through the crowd while keeping his eyes on Dr. Oh’s door. Baekhyun doesn’t come out.
The halls are deserted again when he finally does, head hung low as he struggles to heave his backpack on his shoulder.
“What the hell took you so long?” Chanyeol snaps. “And you were falling asleep too, I saw you! What -”
Happened dies in his throat when Baekhyun finally raises his head and Chanyeol sees wet tear tracks on his cheeks. “S-sorry, it was harder than I thought, I studied all last night, I -” Baekhyun cuts off with a hiccup. “I came home l-late, and I have a physics test today too so I didn’t sleep.”
“You,” Chanyeol gapes. “You didn’t sleep? Baekhyun, you can’t just not sleep when you have two tests the next day.”
“Why the hell do you care?” Baekhyun says, voice harsh. Chanyeol steps back in alarm. “You never sleep and you’re fine.”
“That’s because I’m used to it,” Chanyeol snaps back when he’s composed himself. “And it’s obvious you’re not so -”
“You don’t know me so don’t talk to me like you do,” Baekhyun says quietly but the words are like knives slicing down Chanyeol’s arms and the back of his neck. Baekhyun walks away, steps hasty as he shoulders his ten thousand pound backpack.
Chanyeol sucks in a deep breath and lets it out slowly. He pinches the bridge of his nose, eyes squeezed shut, before he shakes his head and exits out the other end of the hallway.