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the craigslist request ; joonmyun/baekhyun ; pg-13 ; alcohol (not abuse, though), language ; au ; 26,665 w

Picture this-- a coat with a key ring in a pocket, an identical coat but with an avocado in the pocket instead of a key ring, and some harmless, de-stress nightlife activity.

written for iwantchocopie at[personal profile] baektobaek '14.


BEHOLD, THE TALE OF TWO COAT-CROSSED LOVERS-- ONE, FAR TOO ENGROSSED IN ANIME, AND THE OTHER, IN CLUBS






12th OCTOBER, FRIDAY, 04.36 A.M., A MANSION IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

The day doesn’t start out very well, unfortunately. For one thing, it begins at the asscrack of dawn, because hangovers rouse Joonmyun way earlier than they would any other human being. For another, he has no idea where he is. Trusty sidekick Park Chanyeol is artistically sprawled across the sofa opposite, jaw hanging open, glasses hanging precariously off one large ear. Shady sidekick Do Kyungsoo is nowhere to be found. Joonmyun tries to sit up and bam, the various protesting brain cells in his skull start up their orchestra of don't don't don't and shit shit shit and THIS LIFE IS THE CENTRAL CESSHOLE IN THE TORNADO OF HELL. Which, hey, is pretty poetic for waking up at 5.42 a.m. after ingesting a gigantic amount of concentrated alcoholic beverages. But Joonmyun doesn't get to appreciate himself enough - he keels over and pukes. On the carpet. A stranger's carpet.

This would be acceptable, standard procedure for a weekend. But for a Friday morning? This is terribly unprofessional behavior.



"Remind me," Joonmyun chokes out an hour later, squinting at the windshield through his sunglasses. Fifteen minutes of teeth-brushing, and his breath still reeks of shitfaced. "Never to go clubbing with you on weekdays again."

"Yes, bossman," Chanyeol hums, speeding at a red light. "That is to say, no, bossman."

Trusty sidekick position: strikeout. "I am striking out your trusty sidekick position," Joonmyun informs him.

Chanyeol wrinkles his nose and turns up the radio. Something that sounds suspiciously like My Chemical Romance starts screaming into their ears, and Joonmyun slumps, sad, against his window. "Seatbelt," Chanyeol intones as they near a checkpoint, policemen looming ahead. Joonmyun shrinks further into the door; maybe he should switch occupations and try working on becoming a door handle. Or those whatsits, the things you push to get the window down. Chanyeol sighs and puts his seatbelt on for him. Trusty position achieved. Again.

Then a thought hits him, "Why was there a checkpoint?"

Chanyeol's fingers tap a rhythm against the steering wheel, and he sends Joonmyun a sideways glance. "You really want to know?"

Of course he doesn't. He just likes facing the music, so long as it isn't My Chemical Romance. Speaking of which, thank goodness the radio's gone a bit whack. Readjusting the seatbelt, he passes his order. "Speak, underman."

Chanyeol looks at him again before replying, as if trying to gauge how bad his reaction will be. "City limits. We just entered Seoul."

This successfully gobsmacks Joonmyun into silence for a full three minutes. He resurfaces to conversation with a weak, "Can we stop the car? I need to throw up."

Chanyeol holds his head until he's done, as always. "So," he gasps, retching a little, "We had an extraordinarily wild night, and ended up outside the city."

"I'll say, buddy," Chanyeol's hand gives his shoulder a comforting squeeze, and Joonmyun totters back to the car, thinking, There are so many things that I regret.




12th OCTOBER, FRIDAY, 10.10 a.m., THE KIM OFFICE (ON THE WAY TO CUBICLES KIM AND PARK)

Apparently, Friday's terrors don't just stop at hangover, parking ticket and disgustingly late for work. Oh Sehun has this great timing - comical from an outsider's standpoint and tragic from an insider's, as Shakespeare would say - where he sides with the rest of the universe and does one more thing to go against Joonmyun. Oh Sehun forwards some random chainmail about rainbows after rain and sterling 11.11 wishes, a TGIF ecard (which, first, what and second, why) and a picture of a cute bunny.

(Chanyeol loves all of them, thinks Sehun is precious, and sends Joonmyun a slew of one-lined emails expressing his thoughts on the event. One-lined emails on the work email server, which, as everyone knows is constantly monitored by the monstrously tall IT intern. Yug-something, or whatever. Chanyeol's gameplan seems to be focused on getting the lot of them fired.)

Joonmyun is having none of this. Unlike Kyungsoo, Sehun isn't a sidekick; he's just plain shady. When the hell's he ever sent anyone anything not related to work or French art? Speaking of, why the hell did he even send people French art? French art had nothing to do with work? Did Sehun work for some secret French art division in the company? Why were all his thought processes suddenly ending in question marks?

Right then, though, Sehun actually turns around from across the aisle to face him. Joonmyun watches in amazement as the guy sends him a grin, goofy and slow, accompanied by a slow thumbs-up. Sehun opens his mouth, leaves it hanging at around two inches, and blinks. As if he's thinking about what to say. "Hey, Joonmyun," he breathes, and the smell of soju can be smelled from a foot away. The smell is, for lack of a better adjective, smelly. At least things make more sense, though. Sehun is a solvable problem. Shady, with a touch of cheerfulness when drunk.

Not bad, not bad. Joonmyun returns the greeting with a cough and a wave, before returning to his duties.


He logs in to his email, yada yada yada, skips through scam, toodle tee doo, deletes viagra emails that have still made it to his inbox, the usual, and checks his horoscope for today. A tad superstitious of him, to be sure, but his favorite anime character is Midorima Shintarou. He’s got to emulate him somehow! Besides, it’s not like he hasn’t tried other ways: being tall is out, as are eternal three-pointers on the court (Joonmyun sucks at basketball), and that time he dyed his hair green wasn’t a good era in his life. Chanyeol literally pissed his pants laughing at him.

Anyway, back to the horoscope. The email finally loads.

Your thinking can’t quite keep pace with today’s drama — so hang back and watch. You are sure to pick up some new information that sheds a new light on your people and their weird issues.

Huh. Maybe he’ll realize why Kyungsoo likes Prince of Tennis so much. He blinks and goes back to his inbox. What had his lucky item been this month? He checks Monday’s horoscope. It’s mentioned in small font, as if whoever put the info up was embarrassed and didn’t want too much attention drawn towards it. Avocado.

Oh, yeah. He’d gone through five different 7-Eleven stores before he’d landed a lonely, shiny avocado. Worth the trips, though. It adds a nice, comforting weight in his coat, like a balance in his wild weekday-partying life. He reaches down to pat the pocket where he put it, but the coat sways loosely on the back of his chair. Joonmyun pats it again, absently. The coat sways some more, devoid of heavy stuff. Heavy stuff being, you know. The avocado. He turns around in his chair and bends over, hands batting over the fabric. He starts slapping his coat frantically until it swings from side to side. Chanyeol leans sideways and peeks at him behind the desk, observing him silently. Then he raises an eyebrow when Joonmyun looks up and stares at the far end of the room, unfocused.

“Bossman?” he asks.

Joonmyun shakes his head and refocuses on his friend, conveys panic through his facial expression, but Chanyeol only says, "Is it the constipation again?" Joonmyun gives up on everything harder than he ever has before. Chanyeol passes a glass of water and whispers conspiratorially, "It helps when you take too much fibre."

Sipping at the water calms him down, anyway, and he goes on to finishing up the weekly report and checking on the presentation he’s supposed to be having a meeting on, soon. He checks the schedule, makes notes, forwards emails and replies to requests.

Sitting in the back of his mind all the while is the weight of his missing lucky avocado.


12th OCTOBER, FRIDAY, 12.35 P.M., THE KIM OFFICE (LUNCH ROOM)

Whoever doesn’t want to buy croissants from the bakery next door straggles into the mess for lunch. Whoever buys croissants eats them in their cubicles, and whoever comes with their lunch packed goes to the mess, too. The workplace didn’t actually have any rules for lunch at work like they do at school, but people have fallen into patterns over time; Chanyeol goes to the mess for burgers, Kyungsoo packs his lunch occasionally, Joonmyun either packs his lunch or has three espressos. Sometimes four.

“So,” Chanyeol chomps down, crimped hair falling into his glasses. “I didn’t see you at home last night.”

“Please,” Kyungsoo says, quietly, opening his paper bag. “You weren’t at home last night.”

“You didn’t come with us,” Joonmyun shrugged. “Same thing.”

Kyungsoo raises an eyebrow. “Unlike you two, I have a life outside partying. I’m monogamous and married to my work.”

Chanyeol grins, bread crumbs from the burger stuck between his teeth. “Literally stayed in, slept in your office clothes, and woke up at your desk,” Joonmyun predicts.

“And continued working,” Kyungsoo nods.

“Bed hair,” Chanyeol raises a finger, and Joonmyun realizes he hadn’t thought of that problem before. Did Kyungsoo have a comb hidden beneath his keyboard?

The dude in question shrugs into his peanut butter sandwich. “The advantage of being a bachelor and having a total of zero people to come home to is that I can carry my life in my briefcase. I have hair gel, and the office has a bathroom.”

“You have Chanyeol to come home to. Roommates,” Joonmyun finally takes a sip of his espresso. This is all old talk, though. They know Kyungsoo’s work ethic barely sees Kyungsoo in the room. Or maybe Chanyeol and Kyungsoo rooming together has established Kyungsoo’s work ethic. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Not a perfect analogy, but close enough.

“Do Kyungsoo, workaholic extraordinaire,” Chanyeol mumbles, and they hear the distinct ripping of lettuce.

“Kim Joonmyun,” Kyungsoo suggests. “It’s about time you join Alcoholics Anonymous.” Chanyeol provides the necessary audience-oohing backtrack. Joonmyun raises a hand in defeat, as Kyungsoo wipes his peanut buttered mouth with a triumphant expression.

It’s when they’re almost finished (except for Chanyeol, who gets two more burgers and shares one with Kyungsoo) that Joonmyun’s green-fruit plight comes back to him and he tells Kyungsoo about their night. Or whatever he can remember about it, at least.


"So let me get this straight," Kyungsoo frowns over his burger. Chanyeol's already wolfed his second down and is stretching in his seat, feet inadvertently kicking the both of them. (Neither of them minds anymore.) "You are wearing your jacket, and you go with Chanyeol and have a drink. It is Thursday, and you know what doing that with Chanyeol means, but you proceed anyway."

Joonmyun groans into his coffee. Coffee is all his stomach will settle with for this coming week, before he throws it all up. "Yes."

Chanyeol beams, unperturbed.

"And then you crash, drunk, through the entire country and come back here, your coat intact but for your... avocado."

The impertinent and shady sidekick is trying to make him sound stupid. He can feel it. He chooses not to react too much. “This is true,” he settles for saying.

Kyungsoo shrugs, “I guess we should check places for lost and found, then.”

“First stop,” Chanyeol says, “The Wide World Web, I assume?”

Joonmyun frowns. “Think you’ve got something off, there.”


11th OCTOBER, THURSDAY, 09.00 P.M., A RENTED APARTMENT (BYUN QUARTERS)

Nine o’ clock, on the dot. Baekhyun rolls over in his bed, hears Jongdae blasting some Muse song in the other room. Here in his own room, the clock ticks. Tick, tock, tick, tock. It’s the kind with a pendulum, so he follows the swinging bob to the right, left, right, until he feels a little dizzy and annoyed with himself. Muse switches to The Arctic Monkeys, and Baekhyun grabs his phone to message Kyungsoo privately.

Their conversation unfolds like clockwork: predictable, regular, timeless. Well, maybe not timeless. Clockwork runs on time. But whatever.

bbh let us go, let us club
bbh the dj shall make us fall in love again

dok first, fool, i’m not coming with you
dok your parties are lousy and i actually have work to do
dok do you know why? because i’m a good EMPLOYEE
dok the boss TRUSTS me

bbh huh


dok you on the other hand
dok if i knew how to type in emojis
dok i would give you the smug one with an eyebrow raise
dok because you suck and i rule

bbh yawn


dok second, that song is bluh
 
Again, whatever. Baekhyun ignores him, switches to his LINE group. Kyungsoo’s part of that one so he’ll get the messages, but it’s cool. Kyungsoo’ll just reject Baekhyun’s magnanimity again, no problem. Happens all the time.



bbh club y/y

dok breaking news: this is a week night.
dok so no.
lh aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah
kjd no i need alcohol after 2day
kAi idk i think hyung has a point
bbh we're all hyungs

lh which hyung
kjd yeah kid
dok me ofc
kAi him ofc
bbh come on
bbh bring taem

kAi well..........
dok its fine. im ok w being deserted
lh leave him alone where are we going
kjd shhh i got it
kjd theres a place down from the
kjd balls parkour
kjd ball** park** shit

The Arctic Monkeys are rudely shut off in the middle of the chorus, and Baekhyun hears Jongdae banging his closet doors about. He closes his eyes for a few seconds, allows himself to drift off. The pendulum swings tick, tock, tick, tock, two cycles, and he gets out of bed. Grabs the nearest jeans and goes to raid Jongdae’s clothes for a shirt that isn’t in the laundry.





Once they reach the place, Baekhyun makes himself at home, wriggling onto his seat as he orders three shots of whatever Jongdae will be having, thanks. Apparently Jongdae’s ordered something bright blue, followed by something with a lot of fennel that burns his guts inside out, and anticlimactic rum. Lots of sweet, anticlimactic rum. The bartender is obedient and multiplies Jongdae’s order by three before handing anything over to Baekhyun. Baekhyun’s pretty much drinking himself blind.

“Flaming cocktail?” someone laughs in his ear, and Baekhyun tries to look at who it is but he’s very much by himself. Do people imagine things when they’re intoxicated? Baekhyun has a vague idea that he’d thought of this before, perhaps even experimented - but if he’d reached any conclusion, he was probably too inebriated then to keep it in his mind.

The bartender is looking at him strangely as he wipes glasses clean. Perhaps it was the bartender who’d suggested it? Never mind. He doesn’t feel too comfortable about alcohol and fire together. He slides off, trips a bit, salutes the bartender and gathers all his concentration into walking in a straight line towards the crowd on the dance floor.

Whether he makes it there successfully, he doesn’t know. He isn’t too aware of his surroundings from then on; things are just blurry.

At one point, he’s sure someone’s pulling him by the hand outside, which is equal parts great and terrifying -- he’d been getting a bit claustrophobic in there, so getting out was a relief. On the other hand, the outside was so wild and unpredictable. Didn’t… didn’t Mole and Rat have a conversation about that once? Ah, what was the book called. Wild Woods. The Willows Green. Windy Beans. He hits the leather seat and bounces a little.

“Dude,” someone says, somewhere off to his left. “You are so wasted.”

Baekhyun frowns. “Wasted? I’m not wasted. I’ve exercised all my talents and skills to the level--” he hiccups, classically, “--to the--” hiccup, “level best.” He frowns harder, for emphasis.

And more people and things blurring together. Really loud music, kind of hurting his head, but still catchy. Is that Taeyeon’s voice calling out to him from somewhere? Perhaps the speakers. Ah, SNSD. Love personified. A gift from above. He sighs and presses his forehead against the window, stares out at traffic lights and passing cars. Big buildings. So many of them. Man has accomplished so much, he thinks to himself. He cries a little. He’s a part of man. He’s accomplished just as much, if not more.

“Consider Louis Armstrong, the first man to play a trumpet on the moon,” he slurs, with much effort, to the company in the car, and rambles off about society and the wheels of time. He suspects nobody’s listening though, so he raises his voice and plows on. Then everyone is tumbling towards the doors, so he does, too. Jongdae slides an arm around his waist and yells about drinks and girls. Baekhyun perks up and takes the flaming cocktails. He yells and the world whirls around him, gentle and happy and fierce. The dancefloor is bigger than before, and he slips in between all the people, arms in the air, eyes half-closed. Thrum, thrum, thrum. The bass grips onto him and slides under his skin. He moves easily.

Blur.

A fleeting sense of Jongdae leaving somewhere, Lu Han dragging him off some place else.

The rest of everything filters through to his conscious in screenshots, and in the middle, his body floats.

The sky lightening to grays, people moving in groups, girls screeching, high heels in their hands. He nods appreciatively and takes off his own shoes. Walking barefoot across the streets and entering a villa.

Yiyin shouting his name and running over for a hug. He stumbles and falls, gets right back up. Yiyin nowhere in sight.

People dropping in, people dropping out.

Loud music, again. A bit jarring, but it shakes in the walls. Oh, he loves this. Like a harmless, private earthquake. He leans against the trembling walls, blinks and takes everyone in. Swirl swirl, whirl whirl. The world is a giant washing machine, and he shares this insight with the next kind soul who hands him a cup of… well, wine with ice cream, maybe. That’s what it tastes like. And mint. Definitely mint toothpaste. The aftertaste has him rushing to the bathroom for a puke.

When he comes out he feels terrible, but more refreshed. He stumbles towards the living room, or whatever, and finds someone curled up on a sofa, wearing his coat. Well, this wouldn’t do. Pickpockets just don’t do. Pickcoat-ecs. Pick-Kotex. He laughs himself silly. Kotex. He’s a damned genius. He walks over, takes it off the guy, and tugs off whatever he’s wearing right now to put the other one on.

Good. He feels nice wearing his coat. It feels different, too. He’ll congratulate himself later on his new choice in perfume.

Blur.

Bawling on Jongdae’s shoulder. Jongdae dazedly saying, “Forgot the keys,” like an anthem. No, that isn't right. Like a mantra. Was ‘anthem’ even a word? Baekhyun slaps himself ineffectively for his own keys. Nothing happens.

Blur. Discussion.

Crashing Lu Han’s place because the keys got lost. Bed. Nice big bed. He slumps into it happily and the blur blurs off into a blur of blurry dark blur. Ahhhh.



12th OCTOBER, FRIDAY, 07.00 A.M., LU HAN'S PLACE

When Baekhyun wakes up, there is the pain of Ye Olde Hangover, the ache of terribly bruised shins, and definitely the curse of bad breath. Like, really bad. Like someone poured soju onto rotting bananas and threw some day-old egg yolks in for good measure. And when he tries to recall the previous night, he’s greeted by a blackout. He cannot remember a damned thing.

Lu Han’s room wavers in front of him with a liquid quality, and he realizes his eyes are watering. He rubs them with his palms and curls up. He supposes telling this to Kyungsoo would result in an I told you so, and he isn’t really in the mood for that, so he doesn’t tell Kyungsoo. Not like he knows where his phone is, anyway. Baekhyun tries to go back to sleep, and is actually about to drift off again (considering how his head is pounding, that’s just short of a miracle) when Lu Han comes in and shakes his shoulders until his head bobs.

He coughs, and spittle lands all over Lu Han’s face as he rasps an eloquent, “Bye.” He then rolls off the bed unceremoniously and shivers on the cold tiles.

Baekhyun.” Lu Han experiences the emotional spectrum as well as the next guy, but getting him to feel hopeless and exasperated is something only Baekhyun can accomplish. Lu Han leaves him after a few minutes of yelling and coaxing by turns. “Great!” he calls, banging the door behind him. “We’ll see how glued to the floor you are when your boss calls!”

Baekhyun doesn’t want to admit it, but that’s what jumpstarts him into moving. He lifts his head and grasps the bedframe, hauling himself up. He overhauls and crashes onto the floor, face first. Okay, into trying to move.


12th OCTOBER, FRIDAY, 08.12 A.M., BYUN’S APARTMENT DOORSTEP

The attempt to return home goes smoothly until he stands, as mentioned above, at his doorstep. He can’t find his keys, and has a vague feeling of deja vu. He rattles the handle, takes a few steps back to ram his shoulder into the door, looks under the doormat for his keys, and yells for Jongdae to open up. Jongdae, however, is probably already at work. He checks his watch and glares at the dial, as if everything was its fault. He’s almost half an hour late for work - and his boss had called him in fifteen minutes early today.

He’s cussing the fates and picturing himself strangling his boss for time shifts that make him look bad, when his phone breaks out into a Britney Spears fit. The taste of your lips-- Baekhyun attends in a hurry, making sure nobody else heard his ringtone. He’s about to picture himself strangling Jongdae for messing with his phone and changing his ringtone, instead, but the voice on the other end freezes his gratuitous imagination.

“Mr. Byun,” the voice pronounces, clearly. “The E-unit offices haven’t been unlocked yet.”

Disadvantage of regularly being the earliest guy at your unit, if you’re one of those poor bastards stuck at the manual workplaces: you get the keys to the entire floor and unlock the offices yourself. At least with the automatic panels you got to authorize opening all the doors with the passcode and your thumbprint.

“Yes, sir,” is all Baekhyun can say.

“I’ve dealt with it, of course, but it would be a bit charitable of you to either hand the position over to someone else, or work on fulfilling responsibilities.”

Baekhyun shoves his fist into his pocket, staring fixedly at his doormat. His hand bumps against something. Startled, his fingers uncurl and close around something weird and kind of pear-shaped.

“I mean,” Huang Zitao is adding, pleasantly, “No pressure and all that. We all have our late days, our off days. But this is your fifth day this week. We can't make too many concessions now, can we, Mr. Byun?”

“No,” Baekhyun mumbles, miserable. He works a five-day-week. “We certainly can't.”

"Last warning, then," Zitao says, and hangs up.

Well, shit. Guess who was dangerously close to getting fired.

His fingers close around the thing, and he brings it out of his pocket. Then he blinks. “So,” he remarks, dully. “The gods have blessed me with an avocado.” Then he puts it back in, and rushes down to grab another taxi. No office keys meant no car keys, either. Everything was in the same ring.

It begins to rain as he waves for a cab. No umbrella on him, either. “Some kind of karma?” Baekhyun calls out to the sky as he looks up, water splashing with hard determination on his face.


Once he gets inside and tells the driver the address, he leans back in his seat, head hitting the car window sadly as they lurch from side to side in the the downpour.

He takes out the avocado from his pocket and stares at it. “Karma,” he decides, and stuffs it back with a scowl.

The driver notices. “Hey,” he grins, “You making guacamole today?”

Baekhyun ignores him.



He goes through something similar to a walk of shame, shuffling quietly and trying to attract as little attention as possible while he makes his way to his desk. Lu Han raises an eyebrow as he passes by. Baekhyun flips him the bird and shrugs his coat off as he settles into his chair.

He has some trouble remembering his password at first, but otherwise he gets started on his quota just fine. The regular tap tap of keys and humming computers everywhere around him soothes his hangover-bullied-and-doused-into-a-coffee-rush frayed nerves a bit. His shoulders relax as he reviews the list of clients he has to call up today, before moving onto their stock feedback of the week.

Changsub fumbles over with some files around eleven o’ clock, in typical klutz fashion. His shoe snags on some wires, sleeve catches on someone’s desk corner, and he ends up barely saving the papers in their order as he goes down gracefully, like a swan.

There’s a loud, “Oomf.”

Baekhyun frowns at the disturbance. Changsub gets up breathlessly and shoves the stuff over to him. “Boss says to read these over, so he can sign later.”

Typical Huang. Forcing extra shit on people who seem to be slacking. And Baekhyun wasn’t even slacking! He was just… tipping over, being a little unbalanced! He’s about to protest to Changsub, but the guy’s sniffing his coat. Sniffing his coat. “Dude,” Changsub says. “Your coat smells weird.”

“Dude,” Baekhyun wants to say. “Sniffing my coat? That’s weirder.” But he brushes it off with a shrug. “It’s a new perfume,” he replies. Then he frowns again. Since when did he get new perfume?

“Huh.” Changsub shrugs. “And why did you embroider KJM on your collar?”

“Why would I embroid-- Changsub,” Baekhyun shakes himself. “You gave me your files. Is that all?”

Changsub straightens his back slowly, puzzling out the coat. “I guess? I guess, yeah.”


Baekhyun has wondered, from time to time, why he works this job. What good it does to him. What good he does to it. How the boss, Huang Zitao, can put up with the likes of him, Byun Baekhyun. Not in a negative state of mind, of course, but just with a certain curiosity.

Today he contemplates these weighty questions again, as he fills up line after line with client approval or rejection, as he answers calls, as he scratches his head and frowns at the obnoxious swirly brush Siwon has gelled his hair up into, today.

It’s when he’s closing all his work-related windows and wrapping up his last call, that he realizes the answer: he’s been with this little company since the shaky beginnings (last year), when they’d been hard pressed for more eligible slash dedicated slash vaguely interested candidates. This does spur on the negative side of things. He hangs up, and swivels in his seat, about to descend emotionally into--

He’s hit by a paper airplane. It bumps against his forehead smartly before landing on his lap. He takes it up. The wing tip, Baekhyun knows from experience, says please clean up my messes too! shift’s over but i haven’t finished yet~ help~. On closer inspection this time, though, there are some additional scribbled emojis and lewd promises underneath. Well, Baekhyun thinks to himself. Lu Han's certainly learnt from the best.

And the best, as everybody knows, kneel to no one. Baekhyun scrunches up the plane and chucks it into the trash.

A minute later, another plane swoops over and hits him on the forehead. Next to him, Eunji stifles a giggle. Temporarily distracted, Baekhyun grins at her, like getting hit by paper planes is an illustrious and impressive job. But she frowns and goes back to her monitor, stony faced.

Baekhyun makes a face, then turns to his new message. This one says I detest you, which cheers him up a lot. He rolls up his sleeves, thinking cap wheels whirring; he has some serious stuff to do. Things have clicked inside his head, and he has realized that somewhere along the night, he inherited someone else’s coat and bequeathed them his own. A someone with the initials KJM. At least, he hopes so. He could just as easily have dropped his coat in the middle of the street and snatched someone else’s to make up for it.

He goes about trying to plan how to get his coat back. The internet is probably his best friend, here, but it’s a bit of a challenge because he doesn’t know where to start with the whole ‘swapped my coat with a guy while drunk???? important keys missing help!’ gig online. Sure, there’s always Twitter, which he barely checks, and Facebook, with the one thousand hookups who parade as Friends and wouldn’t actually help. Hmmm…

Clueless, he texts Jongdae. Jongdae, ever the resourceful, answers shortly and to the point.

sure i kno some sites. oodles, adoos, hoobly. dnt 4get craigslist. dats a nobrainer!!!

When Baekhyun asks him where they’d gone last night, he gets something a little less helpful.

holy shit idr half the places. the regular hongdae ones, for sure. the new club we went to first. but then we started hopping thru gangnam… idr most of the names. octagon definitely tho. i kissed this hot australian girl. lost her number :(

Still, Jongdae is a bro. Baekhyun doesn’t mind.

He turns his thoughts to his beloved coat and keys. Given that he’d been drunk and still doesn’t remember crap, he isn’t sure what had gone down that would make him switch--

Baekhyun blinks and massages his temples. Please don’t let him have had really great sex with some attractive human only to suffer from highly selective memory loss. What if he’d snagged a number? A date? Further promises of swelteringly hot banging? His head spins with the hypothetical loss of this.

He spends a good ten minutes mourning about it all, before he realizes that with or without sensual contact having occurred, he can’t exactly mention sex in a lost and found classified ad. At least, not if he doesn’t remember it happening.

Baekhyun, therefore, sets forth on his quest without further ado, improvising a G-rated story line, and within the half hour he has a bunch of identical ads floating across the interwebs.

Ad:Guy, you took my jacket by mistake - BBH

We've got the same Hawk & Co. jacket. It appears you accidentally took mine from the lounge of Octagon last night…


12th OCTOBER, FRIDAY, 07.02 P.M., THE KIM OFFICE (DOH’S CUBICLE)

“And left yours. Mine had my keys, which I clearly need. Yours had an avocado in the pocket, which I'm assuming is equally important,” Kyungsoo reads aloud. All three shift their positions slightly when he finishes. Apart from the security guards downstairs, they’re the only ones left in the building.

"Well," Chanyeol comments at length, "We did hit Octagon. He’s probably our guy.” A pause. “And he's especially polite about you having a blasphemously huge green fruit in your coat. Seems okay."

Joonmyun colors, but does what he does best. He ignores any offensive proceedings. “Let’s reply to his ad with some place to get the coat,” he says. Kyungsoo turns to look at him blankly, then shrugs and types in a response.


13th OCTOBER, SATURDAY, 01.15 P.M., A RENTED APARTMENT (KIM’S QUARTERS)

The weather outside looks nice, but Joonmyun’s far too invested in his warm comfy spot on the bed to get to the window. Maybe he’s also a tad nervous of doing anything without his trusty lucky avocado on hand, and maybe that means he’s maybe too dysfunctionally superstitious to be a normal human. Maybe he’ll concede to this point if someone strolls into his apartment and raises it, but that doesn’t happen, as is to be expected.

So Joonmyun bides his day in bed, venturing out only for matters of ingestion and excretion.


14th OCTOBER, SUNDAY, 10.14 A.M., IN THE VICINITY OF AN OKAY-SEEMING RESTAURANT OFF THE SUBWAY, KIM STANDS

They meet at the restaurant in Gwanghwamun, as promised.

Joonmyun arrives first, exactly fifteen minutes and thirty seconds before time. He hesitates, but goes in and gets a table eventually. It’s easy to get one -- not many people are in yet. Once in his chair with his feet tapping incessantly, he passes time by patting the coat over his arm and smiling nervously at the passersby who glance in.

When he checks his watch, ten minutes have passed, which means five minutes ‘til go-time. Meet-time? Whichever.

Someone coughs as they come in, head bowed and shoulders hunched. Shorts and a button-up, with supremely dirty Converse. The white’s all splotched with mud. His knees are scarred and bruised all over, like he’s still riding scooters and losing his balance every other second. Then the guy looks up, and Joonmyun sees hair and huge sunglasses. That’s literally it. Brown hair, fringe, huge sunglasses. He looks a bit like a dressed-up insect. Joonmyun feels a little disappointed.

Anyhow, he’s looking purposefully around, so this may very well be The Guy. He doesn’t seem to have noticed Joonmyun, but he’s walking in Joonmyun’s vague direction. Potential The Guy is approaching, Joonmyun thinks to himself.


14th OCTOBER, SUNDAY, 10.14 A.M., INSIDE AN OKAY-SEEMING RESTAURANT OFF THE SUBWAY, BYUN STANDS

Hey, Baekhyun thinks to himself. He has a coat over his arm, like me! Neat!


14th OCTOBER, SUNDAY, 10.15 A.M., ON A CHAIR INSIDE AN OKAY-SEEMING RESTAURANT OFF THE SUBWAY, HENCEFORTH REFERRED TO AS ‘THE RESTAURANT’, KIM STARES AT BYUN

There’s a coat on Potential Guy’s arm! He might very well be The Guy! Potentiality: upped by 50%! Come over to my table and reveal yourself. Bring forth to me the avocado that is my right! Joonmyun stares hard at him, trying to telepathically communicate.


14th OCTOBER, SUNDAY, 10.15 A.M., THE RESTAURANT, BYUN STARES BACK AT KIM

Huh, he’s kind of glaring, though. Bad mood, maybe? He should break the ice or something. Baekhyun stops a few feet away and waves. “Yo yo,” he says, borrowing Lu Han’s catchphrase, before wincing a little. It suits Lu Han more. “What’s the time?”


14th OCTOBER, SUNDAY, 10.15 A.M., THE RESTAURANT, KIM ATTEMPTS TO BE USEFUL

Joonmyun clears his throat and looks at his watch. He reads out the time. “Ten, uh, ten fifteen.” He blinks, looks at him furtively, then adds, “In the morning.”


14th OCTOBER, SUNDAY, 10.16 A.M., THE RESTAURANT, BYUN ATTEMPTS TO CONVERSE

Well, duh, it was in the morning. The sun was out, wasn’t it? “That’s nice,” Baekhyun says, courteously. He continues standing aimlessly in the place, before he decides to sit with this dude while waiting for The Dude. Company wouldn’t hurt. “Mind if I sit here?”

This dude looks at him owlishly, with round eyes and a prim little mouth. Would make a cute girl, Baekhyun thinks to himself.

“No, actually,” this dude says. Baekhyun should rename him TD, for this dude. In fact, he renames him TD right away. TD continues, all soft-spoken and probably Gangnam-bred, “Not at all. Have a seat.” Then he kicks the chair in front of him forward, and that right there isn’t very Gangnam-bred at all. Perhaps Baekhyun has judged too soon. Baekhyun sits anyway. Their knees brush and it’s a bit awkward. Neither of them says anything, which makes it a lot awkward.

The waitress approaches, but the silence is creeping up on Baekhyun like a monster and rendering him socially inept, so he smiles at her blankly. TD comes to his rescue. “Water for both of us,” he orders, after clearing his throat, and the waitress writes it down before moving on.

TD doesn’t say anything else. Baekhyun presses his lips firmly and stares at the table, and has a strange feeling that TD is doing the same. After a while, a thought floats through his head: This isn’t getting anywhere. Followed by an observant, What’s he even doing here if he just ordered water?

Baekhyun rouses himself. “Waiting for someone?”

TD clears his throat again. “Yes, actually.”

Baekhyun nods politely, and silence falls upon them once more. Like a goddamned vice. It kind of makes Baekhyun sweaty. He’s about to ask TD to elaborate when TD opens his mouth by himself. Thank goodness for that.


14th OCTOBER, SUNDAY, 10.16 A.M., THE RESTAURANT, KIM RECOUNTS HIS TALE

“Well, you know,” Joonmyun fiddles with his handkerchief. The waitress arrives with their water and leaves, gliding. “It’s a bit of a funny story,” he continues. “Something happened on Thursday night, a bit of a mix up, really. I, uh, swapped my coat with someone else, and now I have this random bunch of keys! They won’t unlock anything I’ve got, you know, so I’m here to get my coat back.”

Potential Guy seems to perk up at that. “Hey, though, the same thing happened to me! My coat had an avocado-- I mean, not my my coat, but like the coat that I ended up with.” He grips his glass and takes a sip, and Joonmyun notices that he has long fingers. Joonmyun’s own are small and stubby. Joonmyun sighs internally.

“Will you look at that,” Potential Guy chortles. Joonmyun isn’t sure where he should be looking, but Potential Guy (Joonmyun abbreviates him to PG) doesn’t seem to know that and continues. “I’ve got it right here, actually,” he pats the coat on his arm, “And I--”

It’s when PG breaks off into a confused pause that Joonmyun does a double take and re-assesses their conversation. PG is no longer PG. He is RG. Real Guy.

“Oh,” they say, at the same time.

Joonmyun takes refuge in calling the waitress again. PG-turned-RG looks momentarily confused, but brightens when the girl turns to him after Joonmyun orders. “So,” RG says after she takes his order, too. He sounds a lot more attentive than before. They look at each other expressively, and fail to convey anything coherent via their eyes. Silence, it seems, has struck again. Joonmyun should take a shot every time it does. Enough times and maybe he wouldn’t have to, anymore.

Neither of them speaks a word until the food arrives, and-- “Hello,” the guy grins, staring pointedly at his plate. Joonmyun is familiar with this attitude. The yeah-you’re-here-but-you’re-a-pushover-and-I’m-not-gonna-take-you-very-seriously attitude. He is weary of it. “Hello,” he replies. RG’s fork clinks a bit on his plate, through the pasta and tomato sauce. Joonmyun tries not to slurp on his extremely hot soup. They eat in a profound Silence.

“You know,” RG mumbles through his last bite, then pauses to swallow. “This,” RG continues, expansively, once he’s done, “Looks like a date.” He’s dabbing his mouth with the napkin, very blasé, and Joonmyun, very unblasé, does his best not to choke. He succeeds in this endeavour, but when he sets his spoon down, he’s frowning through tears. Worse, he can’t come up with anything to say to that.

“I suppose it does,” Joonmyun ends up with, looking pained, and either RG is naive, or he misunderstands Joonmyun’s expression on purpose. RG passes his glass of water, still half full, over to Joonmyun.

“Touch of constipation?” he smiles, and his teeth are shiny. Nowhere near as toothpaste-ad worthy as Chanyeol, but still. Impressive. Wait, what did the guy just say? What is he saying? “Water helps with the fibre. Although I guess that’s why you took the soup.”

Somehow, this doesn’t strike Joonmyun as the easy, professional conversation he’d imagined having with his coat-swapper. Granted, he hadn’t had much time to imagine this conversation, but still. The differences were wild, not to mention a bit tough on the part of his brain that was responsible for comebacks.

“My bowels are doing okay,” Joonmyun manages to make his tone steely, or so he hopes.

RG shrugs goodnaturedly. “Glad to hear that, Mister…”

“Joonmyun,” Joonmyun drinks the water anyway. “Kim Joonmyun.”

“Byun Baekhyun,” RG says, holding out his hand over the remains of their meal, and Joonmyun stands up halfway to lean ahead and shake it. He doesn’t want to sound rude or intrusive, but he really wants to ask for his avocado back, right about now. RG-turned-Byun-Baekhyun doesn’t show any signs of hurry, though, so Joonmyun keeps his queasiness to himself. A new waitress comes over to their table, red haired and bespectacled. “May I have your orders,” she smiles, plastic, no intonation of a question present.


15th OCTOBER, MONDAY, 12.15 P.M., THE KIM OFFICE, LUNCH ROOM

“LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT,” Kyungsoo slams his hand down on the table, after Joonmyun’s finished. Chanyeol pulls a wry face. Joonmyun watches this role-reversed enthusiasm with amusement.

“Why can't you get things twisted? Bent? Wired up? It's just one shot, Kyungsoo, one hit from my best stash is all I'm asking and you'll see for yourself--” The table rocks a little, and Chanyeol stops talking immediately, chewing his lip. “You didn't have to kick that hard.”

“On the contrary,” Kyungsoo’s expression is satisfied and placid as he leans back in his chair, “I did.”

Joonmyun taps his feet against the floor, slightly impatient, and Kyungsoo turns on him with a raised finger. “Don’t go all I don’t have time for this on me. You referred to us with your problem, we are going to see it through.”

Chanyel mutters under his breath. “He never does that with me.”

Kyungsoo ignores him. “So, let me just get this strai--”

“I went to the restaurant, as promised,” Joonmyun recaps, listless, checking his wristwatch. “We talked for, like, five minutes before we ate food. Realized we had each other’s coats.”

“And then he hit on you,” Kyungsoo raises his eyebrows.

“He said that the given circumstances were remarkably similar to that of a date’s,” Joonmyun clarifies. “I wouldn’t call that hitting on me.”

“Don’t think you used proper grammar right there,” Chanyeol whispers loudly, leaning forward with his elbows on the table. He is ignored.

“Dude, nobody talks like that,” Kyungsoo overrides Joonmyun.

“I do!” Joonmyun protests.

“Well, then! You’re nobody.” Kyungsoo can be pretty ruthless. Joonmyun isn’t sure if he should be feeling hurt or not right now, and Kyungsoo’s already forging ahead. “Afterwards, with great reluctance, he handed over your coat and avocado--”

“See! You’re talking like that, too!”

“This is different,” Kyungsoo snaps. “And then you guys--” he raises his voice defiantly over Joonmyun’s arguing “--exchange numbers, and he puts a heart next to his name on your phone.”

Joonmyun can’t deny that. He blinks. “Really, I mean. I mean. Yeah.”

“How d’you figure on getting this, Kyungsoo?” Chanyeol breaks the silence. “Because that wasn’t straight at all. Pretty homosexual, actually.”

Judging by the resigned expression on his face, Kyungsoo actually agrees.


16th OCTOBER, TUESDAY, 11.37 A.M., THE KIM OFFICE (THE GENERAL AREA OF KIM AND OH'S CUBICLES)

Chanyeol's very busy at the moment.

"Your hair looks really great today," Chanyeol nods, staring at it like he's never seen hair before. He leans against the cubicle nonchalantly. Joonmyun's sure the sharp edge is biting into his elbow. "What color is it?" A furious bout of rustling from the desk that's on Joonmyun's left side indicates that his female co worker Yuri is probably stuffing tissues into her mouth to keep from laughing out loud. As she is wont to, in such situations.

Sehun raises his eyes slowly from his screen to Chanyeol's face, fingers still typing. "My hair's exactly the same as it was yesterday," the guy’s voice is nasal and cutting. Chanyeol blinks a little in nervousness, keeps his smile on. "The only difference is the color, which I take it you've noticed. Yesterday it was blond, today it's pink."

Joonmyun winces, but the trusty sidekick is saved from saving face. The boss had been walking towards Chanyeol since he'd gotten up -- he's reached now and cuts in.

"Problem, Park?" Minseok's voice is very breezy and his stature is very short, not at all the deep-voiced, tall and threatening type of superior. This doesn’t seem to deter people’s impressions of how truly terrifying he can be, though: the entire office freezes guiltily. Joonmyun isn’t surprised by this effect. Kyungsoo fits that mould, too. He wishes he could follow in their footsteps; short, important and universally acknowledged as such.

But back to the scene at hand. Chanyeol's smile has taken on a curiously brittle aspect. "No, sir," he says, and moonwalks abysmally back to his seat.


Joonmyun sends Chanyeol an email as soon as the boss goes back to his own room.
Subject HA.
That wasn't straight at all.

He hears a snort, and the reply is prompt.
Subject RE: HA.
i'm so dope you stealin my lines

Joonmyun types fervently.
Subject RE: RE: HA.
DON'T USE THAT WORD, WHAT ABOUT THE INTERN

The chair scrapes backwards and Chanyeol's shadow looms over Joonmyun's keyboard before Chanyeol himself. Joonmyun looks up in fear, but Chanyeol's back is turned to him. He seems to be observing somebody in the far corner of the room. Then he sits down again.

Subject RE: RE: RE: HA.
which word. why can't i use words. why are you ridding me of my freedom of speech. and idk, he's cute? wait do u dig him bc i think someone called dibs on him the day he got in

Then, a few seconds later.

Subject WAIT RE: RE: RE: HA.
IF you dig INTERN then WHAT about HEART SHAPE COAT GUY?????? are you leading him on. are you the player i initially thought you to be!!!

Right, this is getting slightly out of hand. Joonmyun opts to leave for the bathroom. On cue, Chanyeol joins him exactly four minutes later.

"Yo," he says, making a great show of unzipping busily, and Joonmyun rolls his eyes into the mirror as he washes his hands.

"The intern's sole purpose is to check up that we aren't wasting time, sending emails to each other with wastive text," Joonmyun explains. “And I’m not a ‘player’,” he adds, making air quotes around the word. Chanyeol's turned the other way, so he can't quite make out whatever expression he's got on right now. Joonmyun sticks around, waiting impatiently. Oblivious, Chanyeol takes his time peeing.

"Okay," he replies at length, zipping up again with some effort. (As if he had that much junk!) "You mean little Yugyeom is spying on our emails?"

“He’s not little,” Joonmyun frowns. “He’s probably taller than you. And yes, he is officially spying on our emails.”

“Well,” Chanyeol says. “Then he knows about me and Sehun? I email Kyungsoo about him a lot.”

Their shoes thud a little on the shining tiles, and Joonmyun sighs as he turns the handle. “You and Sehun don’t exist, Chanyeol. You just project your feelings of loneliness onto the nearest tall cute guy.”

Chanyeol gives him a little shove that sends him tumbling ungracefully through the door. “It’s not like you can blame me. I need someone the exact opposite of you to balance things out.”

Joonmyun pats down his sleeves and torso, huffing. “I won’t even bother taking offense.”

“You can’t afford to,” Chanyeol points out, nudging his shoe against Joonmyun’s pants on purpose. “I’m the only one who’ll do your dirty work.”

One day, Joonmyun will come up with good comebacks on the spot. Today is not that day.


17th OCTOBER, WEDNESDAY, 08.03 A.M., KIM OFFICE

“Look who graced us,” Kyungsoo raises his eyebrows, when Joonmyun tumbles into his chair. (Truly, a role model.) “Boss says he emailed you a ton of shit, so go through it ay-es-ay-p. Additionally, I’ve given you enough time to think. What do you propose to do about your new sexual prospects?”

Joonmyun blinks at him dumbly for half a minute, the first fifteen seconds processing what had just been said, the next fifteen seconds processing what to say.

“Absolutely nothing,” he replies, finally, emphasising each syllable.

Both sidekicks stare at him. The way they seem to be agreeing for seemingly the first time in their lives on Joonmyun’s pathetic excuse for a sex life is getting really ominous and… omenous. Joonmyun brightens a little. Now there was a stellar pun. And he, Kim Joonmyun, came up with it!

“Don't tell me you don't think he's cute,” Chanyeol frowns.

Joonmyun decides he will not answer that. In fact, he makes up his mind to be silent on this topic forever. It is, after all, barely seven minutes past eight in the morning. No human can function in this kind of environment. He starts up his PC busily and tries to make it very clear that he’s ignoring them.

It seems to work-- but just as they shake their heads and turn away, his phone vibrates in his pocket. Joonmyun freezes momentarily, before typing in his password. Chanyeol’s phone rings a minute later. Joonmyun darts a glance at Kyungsoo. He’s tapping his pencil against the screen, a graph in reds and blues staring at him.

Furtive, Joonmyun checks his phone. If those two catch him at it, they’ll smell something’s up at once.

let's meet again tmrw y/n

Joonmyun closes his eyes and sighs.
y



“Hey,” Kyungsoo spins a one eighty in his seat a few hours later, gently nudging Joonmyun in the thigh with a folder.

“Hmm,” Joonmyun says, typing in the last line of the calculation before turning to him. “What?”

Chanyeol peeks over the cubicle wall to join in. “Plans? Bowling looks like a good change. Saturday.”

“More importantly,” Kyungsoo speaks up, “It bodes nonalcoholism. And I might actually go home today.”

“Wait!” Chanyeol’s so surprised that he slips, nose smashing down against the wall. “Wait,” Chanyeol repeats, groaning. “You’re coming home? I have a roommate today? We can spoon in bed? Catch up with that murder TV show?”

Kyungsoo chews his lip as he stares at the floor, probably regretting saying anything.

“I can’t,” Joonmyun says, “I’ve got--” and stops. He’d just promised himself today that he wouldn’t talk about the dude to them ever again.

“You’ve got,” Chanyeol prompts, all encouragement.

“...Stuff. To do,” Joonmyun ends, lamely. But they’re curious, and Chanyeol’s hard to deny when he’s got puppy eyes and a bleeding nose.

So much for the silence plan.


Lunch is a comfortable, quiet fifteen minutes during which they barbarically stuff their faces (Chanyeol chokes on a stray ginger piece in his burger).

By two p.m., Sehun has a mini breakdown where he starts yelling random French names at random intervals.

2.03 PM “Gislebertus! Wait no, Giselbertus. Ghiselbertus?”

2.18 PM “Evrard d’Orleans! Ha, New Orleans.”

2.23 PM “Jean Poochie! No no that sounds wrong… Jean Pucelle, the Parisian Gothic-era manuscript illustrator… okay… what was his style...”

2.44 PM “Jacque something. Jacque Prevert? That’s wrong, I know it is. Jacquemart de Hesdin! I got it! And he had different spellings, different spellings, come on, I’ve got it, I’ve got it…”

2.56 PM “God, almost done, almost done. Jean Honorary Dragon-- shit! Jean-Honoré Fragonard! Fragonard!”

Chanyeol fidgets, restless, before finally yelling back, “YOUR ACCENT'S GETTING BETTER!”

To this, Joonmyun sends him an email.
Subject: Seriously?
why are you saying ‘better’ as if you’ve heard him speak french before

Chanyeol doesn’t reply within the minute, so Joonmyun fills in a few more cells in his spreadsheet. He’s about to send a new one:
i mean, is it like you’ve got something to compare it with? has he talked french to you before? [jason derulo inference] lipstick stamps on my passport...

But Chanyeol replies right as Joonmyun’s all set to hit Send.
Subject: RE: Seriously?
well i was going to say IT’S GREAT but that would make me sound desperate.

Joonmyun grins and backspaces to type a new reply.
Subject: RE: RE: Seriously?
you shouldn’t worry about that. everybody knows you are.

Surprisingly, Joonmyun finds himself feeling some guilt over poking Chanyeol like this all the time, wondering if Chanyeol will ever blow up. Perhaps Joonmyun is actually more than a little curious, part of the reason why he’s always needling him. Just to see the office’s Friendly Guy™ limits. (Joonmyun himself isn’t the office’s Friendly™ as much as he is the Nice™. There is a difference, folks. There is a difference.)


With his car in repairs-- all his tyres need replacement, plus his battery’s pretty dead-- Joonmyun ends up taking the bus back with Kyungsoo after work, and Chanyeol goes straight to some underground event.

“What’s the thing?” Joonmyun yawns, standing shoulder to shoulder with Kyungsoo. They hang on to the rails as the bus fills, briefcases bumping into each other. Kyungsoo shrugs. “Some rap party. But they don’t call it a party… is it a convention? ComicCon, RapCon? God, I don’t know. It’s an underground rap scene, whatever it is. Chanyeol likes staying there ‘til eleven, sometimes. It starts around nine and goes on until four in the morning.”

Joonmyun lets out a whistle. “He ever take part in them?”

Kyungsoo shrugs again. “A few times. But they all come up with their own songs, and he doesn’t have time to write all focused like he used to. So he doesn’t, really, not anymore.”

Joonmyun lets his head loll to the side, looking out. The boulevards pass them leisurely by in the slow traffic, cars honking, pedestrians ambling. “Pretty sure I have it in to bully him or something,” he confesses, eventually. “Like, nothing horrible, just poking a lot. I think I want to see him angry, secretly.”

Kyungsoo considers this, tilting his own head. “I guess you’ve got enough heartless asshole in you for that to be a plausible theory.”

Alright, Joonmyun isn’t sure if he deserves the title of heartless asshole, per se--

“You should listen to some Beenzino, though.”

Joonmyun blinks. “Uh, sure. Why?”

“Because Chanyeol likes his stuff! And it would be nice if you did friendly things,” Kyungsoo rolls his shoulders, one at a time. It’s a thing he does when he’s exasperated, Joonmyun’s noted. “Like listening to music your friends like, now and again!” A pause, then a quiet, “You’re basically his only real friend apart from me.”

Joonmyun stares at his shoes. “Don’t see how that works into being friends,” he says, defensively. He kind of does, but he needs a last say anyhow.


The contents of his impromptu how-to-be-a-better-friend-to-Chanyeol therapy session with Kyungsoo keep him up until really, really late, when he turns over in bed and reaches for his phone.
jm about being friends


dok ur bright ideas are disasters
jm let’s get him with sehun


dok k… maybe i judged a bit earlier than usual
jm do we have a deal


dok maybe…? i’ll think abt it


Joonmyun goes to sleep a bit excited, despite the laundry piling up everywhere, tinting the air with an old musty smell.


20th OCTOBER, SATURDAY, 08.23 P.M., HANAREUM BOWLING ALLEY

But Baekhyun ends up taking him bowling, too. By some sick stroke of luck, they end up opposite Chanyeol and Kyungsoo.

“Well,” Kyungsoo smiles, quietly, and doesn't say much.

“Loosening up, are we?” Baekhyun says, when Kyungsoo does a strike. There's a hint of slyness in it that has Joonmyun looking up from his feet. Kyungsoo just shakes his head. Joonmyun feels a bit of a twinge, so he grimaces a little and takes a drink from his bottle. Chanyeol's up next, and fails spectacularly. The pins don't even shake: the ball goes quietly down the side lane.

“I'm not much of a bowler,” Baekhyun speaks up suddenly, way too close to his ear. “But I think we can beat Kyungsoo between us, right?”

“Why aren't I included in your hit list,” Chanyeol drags his feet over to them. Joonmyun is going to think of something really witty now, he's going to--

Baekhyun shrugs in a masterful manner (is masterful shrugging even possible?). “You just don't have the potential,” he says, and Joonmyun is not falling hard for this guy on the second meeting, but he sure as hell is putting him way up on the Respect list. Chanyeol looks a little miserable, but with a knowing expression on his face, like he saw it coming.

Baekhyun throws Joonmyun a ball, grinning. “Shall we slay?”

And Joonmyun, in a wild moment of actual coolness, catches it. “We shall.”


20th OCTOBER, SATURDAY, 12.04 A.M., PARK’S CAR

A major slayage was had, actually, Joonmyun thinks out loud with satisfaction.

“That would be slaughter, not slayage,” Kyungsoo corrects, a little grumpy. “And I let you two win.”

“Definitely,” Chanyeol pitches in, from the backseat. “Had to let your date impress you, otherwise you’d have dumped him. You’re a fickle man, boss.”

That’s just wrong. “Am not!”

“Yes, boss. Kyungsoo, drop me off at the grocer’s, please. We need so much garbage. Carrots. Cucumbers.”

“Uh huh,” Kyungsoo, mumbles, absently, peering over the steering wheel to get a look at the traffic light. It turns green just then, and he thuds back into his seat, shifting gear and toeing the accelerator.

Joonmyun looks out at the street. “Guys,” he says, presently, “Do you ever wish for shit?”

“Shit,” Kyungsoo repeats. “As in, feces? Not really. I prefer my bucket list a bit more glamorous.”

Joonmyun turns to frown at him. What’s with this attitude recently? Constipation, feces-- it’s like the universe suddenly decided that he, Kim Joonmyun, is New Magnet Extraordinaire® for crap jokes.

“Wish Kyungsoo would call me hyung, sometimes,” Chanyeol says, morose. At least someone’s taking Joonmyun seriously. “Wish Sehun would go out with me.”

“Wish Chanyeol would shut up,” Kyungsoo nods, joining in. “Wish we all weren’t so fucking gay.” The other two murmur assent at this.

Then the car brakes, and Chanyeol’s out and jogging towards the supermarket. Joonmyun looks after him. “He has this way, doesn’t he? My place, please. He’ll take the bus, right?”

Kyungsoo grunts and starts the car again. “He will, but I don’t know what way you’re talking about.”

“Making people fond,” Joonmyun persists, fingers tapping at the window dial. He feels an edge of triumph when the corner of Kyungsoo’s lips turns up in a tiny smile.

“Whatever it is, it isn’t working on Sehun.” Trust Kyungsoo to downplay his somewhat happy moments.

“Right,” Joonmyun agrees. “So, about the plan.”

“Plan?”

“The one where we play matchmaker for Chanyeol and his one true love,” Joonmyun reminds him, patiently.

“Man,” Kyungsoo shakes his head, voice heavy with doubt, as he turns the steering wheel. “Don’t know about the one true love part. Sounds more like unhealthy infatuation to me.”

“So I was thinking,” Joonmyun pretends not to have heard. “Inviting Sehun to a paintball session next week? And have Chanyeol do the inviting.”

The cars outside honk angrily at one another, the traffic going slow and bumper-to-bumper. Kyungsoo presses the horn and snorts.

“What’s so funny, Kyungsoo,” Joonmyun deadpans.

“Paintball. Chanyeol? More like Chanyeol going--” Kyungsoo deepens his voice to an extremely inaccurate imitation “‘Hey, Sehun, they’re saying we have a paintball night, and you’re invited. How about--” Kyungsoo breaks off for a pause.

Joonmyun closes his eyes, guessing what’s coming. “No,” he whispers. “No.”

Kyungsoo doesn’t relent: “I paint your balls?”

Fuck,” Joonmyun hisses, laughing despite himself. “Fuck, fuck.”


By the time they reach Joonmyun’s complex, he’s quieted down somewhat. “So,” he concludes, when Kyungsoo pulls up. “No paintball?”

“No paintball,” Kyungsoo nods, solemn.

“Well,” Joonmyun says, resignedly. “Thanks for the ride.”


Initially, Joonmyun had planned on collapsing into bed the second he got into his apartment, but the neighbors have apparently just gotten a brand new baby who is very curious about lung power and vocal range. She keeps Joonmyun up through the poorly sound-proofed walls until three in the morning, when she has probably exhausted herself and drops off quickly to whatever it is that annoying, raucous babies dream of.

Joonmyun, grumpy and cantankerous, head crammed with thoughts, tosses and turns for a further hour until his breathing evens and he also, somehow, falls asleep.


22nd OCTOBER, TUESDAY, 12.13 P.M., THE BYUN OFFICE (BYUN DESK)

Baekhyun's revolving in his chair, much to Eunji’s annoyance, when Kyungsoo sends him a message.

dok favorish thing to ask

Baekhyun’s eyes widen. Kyungsoo, asking him for help? Baekhyun must act cool, very nonchalant.
bbh wat is it, star employee, wasting his time during work


dok we have lunch break
bbh lunch break? are we in middle school


dok do we ever really grow up? isn't life just a larger, ostracized version of kindergarten?
dok pardon me, i sound like u when ur drunk

No, no, a lie. He sounds much more coherent when he’s drunk. He doesn’t turn into a wannabe philosopher.

dok but seriously, what is a good place for first casual friend date idea


Hmm.
bbh dare i suggest
bbh a cafe?!?!?!

dok ...can u FEEL my eyeroll
bbh did u think of it first tho

dok i let u live today
dok btw... did the series update
bbh wat

dok u kno… the drarry auror series u showed me…

Baekhyun bites his lip, grinning. Showing Kyungsoo slash fanfiction is kind of maybe definitely pretty much the awesomest thing he’s done this year.
bbh cloak and dagger? nah, not since the 13th

dok damn.. ok thnx
bbh anytime



22nd OCTOBER, TUESDAY, 12.19 P.M., THE KIM OFFICE (LUNCH ROOM)

Kyungsoo and Joonmyun are eagerly waiting for Chanyeol to come back from the bakery with their donut order, since all three had opted for a menu change-up for the day. That is to say, Joonmyun is waiting eagerly; Kyungsoo’s frowning and grinning at his phone by turns, typing away.

Joonmyun gets the distinct impression that he’s being forgotten.

He’s not sure how many minutes have ticked away until Kyungsoo finally sighs and set his phone down. “So,” he says. “Paintball aside, how about a coffee date?”

“Kyungsoo,” Joonmyun says, astounded by the simplicity of the idea. “By golly, I think you’ve got it.”

“By golly what,” Chanyeol mumbles through the furry collar of his windbreaker. He plops down a shopping bag that has a very big brown box inside. “Ten?” Kyungsoo asks, eyes fixed on the box.

“Please say twelve,” Joonmyun whispers.

“Lady and gentlepants,” Chanyeol grins, “You see before you, a box containing two dozen donuts, fresh out the fiery pits of bakery furnaces.” He raises his arms like the messiah, gaze lifted fervently to the ceiling.

If anyone in the mess is perturbed by the following three-throated warcry that follows, they do a good job of not showing it.


23rd OCTOBER, WEDNESDAY, 11.58 A.M., THE KIM OFFICE (SURROUNDING AROUND OH’S CUBICLE)

Following Kyungsoo’s suggestion and Joonmyun’s plan, Chanyeol struts up, all confidence, to Sehun’s cubicle. This could be the suicide of his career, considering the awful tension that’s been brooding over their boss and the two personal assistants he’s fired in two weeks, not to mention the commotion he’d caused last time he’d attempted to figuratively get into Sehun’s pants, but Chanyeol truly believes in all those love-war quotes that float on the Internet.

“It’s a website called Goodreads, not just ‘the Internet’,” Chanyeol hisses, and Joonmyun starts. He should work on toning down this thinking-out-loud of his. “I see,” he provides, at a loss of anything else to say. They’re quite near Sehun right now, so Joonmyun clears his throat and proceeds to invite Sehun to their totally friendly, platonic coffee date. “Cubicle neighbors, y’know,” Chanyeol pitches in, and Joonmyun clings onto that.

“Right! Our cubicles are so close, we may as well be real life neighbors!”

Sehun looks from Chanyeol to Joonmyun to Chanyeol again, as if he can’t figure out whether they’re serious or not. “Hyungnim,” he says, respectfully. “This is real life. There’s no ‘may as well’ about it.”

Kid has a point there, honestly. Chanyeol throws him a look of panic, and Joonmyun rises to the occasion. “I, uh, yes, but I meant real life, not just workspace neighbors.”

Another pause as Sehun weighs this statement. “Well,” he nods, eventually. “I’m happy you think so closely of me.” His face doesn’t look happy at all.

But he goes along with them; as the fates would have it, it turns out that Sehun actually doesn’t like coffee and neither, in fact, does Chanyeol, which nobody saw coming. They both lean towards iced tea. Joonmyun and Kyungsoo leave those two to their own conversation, amused, as they go over the upcoming merger talks at work and do a little whispered betting on how soon Chanyeol will get the balls to ask Sehun out himself if this outing works out.

In the middle, though, Kyungsoo pauses with a frown on his face and takes out his phone to type something. “Just in case I forget,” he mumbles to Joonmyun.


23rd OCTOBER, WEDNESDAY, 12.37 P.M., BYUN OFFICE (BYUN DESK)

dok u suck, but ur also kind of ok
bbh (^ u ^ )b yeah totally i can get with this!
bbh wait… why tho..


Baekhyun never does get a reply to that.



30th OCTOBER, THURSDAY, 12.40 P.M., KIM OFFICE (LUNCHROOM)

"So," Kyungsoo says, smug, "Notice something about Sehun lately?"

Joonmyun understands the smugness. He feels some, himself, but he lets Kyungsoo have the satisfaction of sharing the information.

"He's beginning to look around for Chanyeol if he's late coming in," Kyungsoo takes a bit of his cake in triumph. "And he's texting Chanyeol a lot, too." He pauses, mouth full, before swallowing. "Texting. Very regularly."

"Who's texting what," Chanyeol yawns, sliding into his chair. Work isn't treating him well the past two weeks, and there are dark circles under his eyes. He looks at them both. "Well?"

"I think," Joonmyun announces, brightly, "That it's time you had some kind of a nice date with Sehun again."

"I already asked him if he wanted to come over," Chanyeol mumbles. Kyungsoo drops his cake on the table.

"But the apartment! It's a mess!"

"Cleaned it yesterday."

"Oh," Kyungsoo says, uncertainly. "Okay."

"I suggested we watch dramas," Chanyeol adds, miserable.

Joonmyun points his chopsticks at him. "You hate dramas."

"Yeah, but. He seems like the type who would like dramas. I mean, he’s into French, right? French people are all about dramas and theatre, yeah?"

It seems like shaky reasoning, but they let it pass. It does have a logical ring. Just a little bit. Joonmyun doesn't really know why.

“I suppose,” he coughs, “I suppose neither of you guys will be doing Halloween.”

“No,” the other two shrug.

“Sure,” Joonmyun nods, vigorously. “I wasn’t planning to, either.” Which is a lie, because he very much was. But if there isn’t going to be company, he’d rather not. He has a slight idea of asking Baekhyun, but shoots it down immediately. The rest of lunch is slightly confused, bordering on dismal.


1st NOVEMBER, SATURDAY, 01.23 A.M., KIM APARTMENT, LIVING ROOM

With his feet propped up on the coffee table and a bottle of Pepsi beside him, Joonmyun is fully enjoying the What’s With This Family episode he’d gotten on tape earlier today when he’d been washing the dishes. He livetweets every few minutes on his lonely account that has two followers, both of which are bots.

He’s in the middle of typing a series of ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋs when his phone buzzes. He checks his messages.

dok what’s ur lucky item of the month!!!
jm shut up ur not funny



5th NOVEMBER, WEDNESDAY, 10.14 P.M., A NONDESCRIPT BUBBLE TEA OUTLET

“This is one of my favorite little streets,” Baekhyun looks out the window cheerfully, fingers drumming on the table. “You have a bubble tea place, a frozen yogurt shop that also sells ice cream on weekends, and then a tiny record store a little way down. There’s also a Lebanese restaurant around the corner!”

“Record store?” Joonmyun puts his own hands on the table, tapping his fingers a bit to Baekhyun’s rhythm.

“They’ve got mostly old British rock, for some reason, but that kind of stuff grows on me, so it’s cool.”

“Here you are, sirs.” One of the guys who works there almost-trips close to their table, two glasses on a tray. He’s got a bright smile, glasses and no limb coordination. Joonmyun tries to catch sight of his nametag to thank him properly, but he’s in such a hurry to get back behind the counter that he lurches into the nearest table and bangs his knee against a chair.

“Thanks,” Joonmyun calls out, hesitantly, and Baekhyun waves at the guy before laughing at Joonmyun.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Baekhyun shakes his head. “You’re so easily disturbed by normal things.”

Joonmyun throws him an exasperated look as he pops the straw into his glass. Baekhyun just crinkles his eyes up at the edges: a very calculated, very cute maneuver that Joonmyun is sure Baekhyun knows the full effect of.

Joonmyun’s argument withers in his throat. “I was just worried about the guy,” he ends up mumbling, with exactly zero percent of the fire he has had intended on wielding before Baekhyun pulled the Dangerous Eyesmile.

“That’s nice,” Baekhyun slurps. “You’re a nice person.”

Joonmyun frowns suspiciously, and Baekhyun doesn’t miss it. He grins around his straw, teeth shiny and super attractive (wait--) and Joonmyun tries to push down images of Baekhyun grinning around-- well. Around other things.

“I’m serious,” Baekhyun’s saying. “I meant it as a sincere compliment! You’re a nice person.”

“Hmm,” Joonmyun says, intelligently. Then he regains his senses and pulls himself together. “You’re not that bad yourself.”

Baekhyun’s pretending to swoon at that, when Joonmyun’s phone buzzes. “Hold on a tic,” he says.

When he fishes it out of his pocket, he’s greeted by,

dok they both hate dramas
dok thankfully this is just a repeat of
dok when we went to the cafe
dok so they messed around in the kitchen instead
dok but yeol cooked him lobster & lit candles evrywhr

Joonmyun’s jaw is close to dropping. “My friend,” he croaks to Baekhyun, “He’s crazy.”

“Sounds cool,” Baekhyun chirps.

dok i told him especially not to but
dok he did

“No,” Joonmyun murmurs, “He’s really crazy.”

dok luckily sehun’s all ‘o ur soooo charming’
dok instead of ‘wtf ur coming on rly strng’
dok so this hit or miss may actlly have worked

“Oh,” Baekhyun says, expression falling slightly. “Like, asylum crazy?”

Joonmyun types in a quick wtffffffffffff before stowing the phone away. “No,” he takes a sip. “Not yet. But he might be finally dating this guy he’s liked since the year started, so. There’s that.”

Baekhyun grabs Joonmyun’s cup and pushes his own forward. “Well,” he says, after a chug of Joonmyun’s tea (Joonmyun tries not to mind). “All’s fair in love and war, right?”

“That’s exactly what he says,” Joonmyun tells him.

“Then he’s a real catch,” Baekhyun grins. “His date is super lucky.”

“You,” Joonmyun pauses to take a huge slurp of Baekhyun’s boba. “Are full of yourself.”

“Mm,” Baekhyun agrees, nodding. “But you don’t find it altogether unpleasant, right?”

Now, Joonmyun isn’t going to get lost in Baekhyun’s eyes or any of that shit, but those crows feet are adorable and he will say yes to everything Baekhyun asks.

...Which is just as bad.


13th NOVEMBER, THURSDAY, 9.03 A.M., KIM OFFICE (KIM’S CUBICLE)

“Adios, bitches,” Joonmyun says, under his breath. Kyungsoo pokes him with his shoe barely a minute later.

“What I hear you say, young man,” his colleague says, also under his breath.

“Boss sent me an email,” Joonmyun gestures to his screen. “I’ll be at a conference tomorrow. Free food at the buffet afterwards.”

“Get me a notebook or a planner or something,” Chanyeol raises his hand. His fingers waggle over the partition.

“Done,” Joonmyun promises.


14th NOVEMBER, FRIDAY, 06.17 P.M., ANNUAL SEOUL CORPORATE SECURITY CONFERENCE

Once the formal toasts, president speeches and half the product presentations are over, Joonmyun makes his way to the opposite side of the hall where he thinks he'd heard a familiar laugh half an hour ago.

Sure enough, Baekhyun's standing with a small group, talking. Probably joking a bunch too, going by the how the rest of the crowd gives into chuckles and hoots around him. But then he catches sight of Joonmyun and excuses himself, grinning ear to ear, flute in hand.

"Look who's here," Joonmyun raises his own glass, and Baekhyun clinks the things together.

"I like your coat," Baekhyun declares, winking obnoxiously for effect.

It sends Joonmyun snorting into his wine. "Yeah?" he resurfaces. "I like yours."

"Tell me, Mister Kim," Baekhyun wriggles his shoulders in what, Joonmyun supposes, is an attractive dance move of some sort. At least, it looks kind of attractive. "What else about me do you like?"

Flirting like he's already tipsy and back in high school isn't the way Joonmyun had imagined the conference night going, but he doesn't mind it. It's kind of relaxing to be an idiot, actually, even if he’s in a suit that’s a bit too tight at the armpits.



A few hours later find the conference venue cleared out finds and them bowled over, limbs rendered out of service and collapsed on a sofa in the lobby.

Baekhyun looks up, eyes glassy. "About my coat," he says, sounding more than a little slurred, "Wanna try it on for size?"

His coat? They're drunk on a sofa and this guy is talking about his coat? Joonmyun's mind goes in underdrive and his tongue is slipping about saying words that aren't quite sensible. "Not interested in coat," Joonmyun rasps. "Rather try you on for size." Baekhyun stiffens the tiniest degree, but Joonmyun just giggles into his shoulder. The song Boots by Lights starts playing in his head, and he starts full on laughing, and Baekhyun joins in, his arms curling up over Joonmyun's back to meet his shoulders.

Before he knows it they're in a bathroom stall, and things kind of blank out, but he's sitting on really cold white stuff that could either be the floor or the tissue roll or the toilet seat. Maybe even the door! Can Joonmyun sit on doors now? And his pants are down and there's a cold breeze and he should, by all rights, be freezing, but there's this nice stroking on his dick which has him all sorts of warmed up and he really appreciates that. The dick stroking and the warmth and fuck that is a tongue, isn't it. That's a tongue on his tip and it's fucking-- Joonmyun gives up. He just really, really, really apprecia...



15th NOVEMBER, SATURDAY, 10.12 A.M., KIM OFFICE

Overtime on a weekend is somewhat of a bitch, but when Baekhyun texts him last night was AWESOME, he forgets all about overtime.

Chanyeol, already grumpy that Joonmyun forgot his planner at home, is disgusted. "Could've just said awesomesauce, proved himself an actual nerd, and gotten done with it."

"Not if he mentioned sauce," Kyungsoo comments, straightfaced. In a fit of nice feelings, Joonmyun quietly erases the 'shady' from 'shady sidekick'. Kyungsoo is great! Quiet and unpredictable but super great, man. Then he looks back at the text and feels a little nausea.

"So, bossman," Chanyeol wiggles his eyebrows. "How does it feel."

Truth be told, Joonmyun actually feels a little upset, and it probably shows on his face. Kyungsoo wins the award for the cleverest man of the year and actually does not interpret Joonmyun's expression as a call for a help due to constipation. "Upset because it happened or upset because there were no condoms?" he says, and Joonmyun can only manage a stutter.

"Wait," Kyungsoo snaps his fingers. "You're all bluh bluh and misery because you can't remember!"

Joonmyun's probably muddled because of all of those reasons. Joonmyun feels more nausea. Kyungsoo can't be all that great if he's making Joonmyun feel more nausea. Kyungsoo is just... creepily intuitive. Creepily intuitive sidekick, yeah. Good title. By the power vested in me, Joonmyun thinks, sadly, picturing knighting his two friends, and shakes his head into his coffee. (Ah, yes, on that coffee again.)


17th NOVEMBER, MONDAY, 03.12 P.M., KIM OFFICE (OH CUBICLE PREMISES)

Chanyeol’s very busy at the moment, once more.

He’s leaning against the cubicle, probably bruising his elbow for a second time. But where last time Sehun’s attention had been fixed on his screen, now he’s fixed on Chanyeol with a slightly unsettling... fixation. But he’s smiling and having a conversation with Chanyeol instead of cutting him off, and that’s a very good sign.

Joonmyun catches Kyungsoo’s eye, and they share a memorable moment of confidence and satisfaction. Not that they’ll ever talk about it later or anything, because that’s embarrassing. The moment is there nonetheless, and Joonmyun feels he will recall it in later days with a nice feeling.

After, Chanyeol emails him.
Subject: YOOOOO
we’re going to the motorbike races! smth he suggested!! so excited!!!!

Smiling, Joonmyun replies a few minutes on.
Subject RE: YOOOOO
go forth and steal his heart!!!!!

Chanyeol’s fist appears over the partition, pumping into the air.
Subject RE: RE: YOOOOO
:D :D :D :D :D


23rd NOVEMBER, SUNDAY, 09.12A.M., (A HOLOGRAPHIC PROJECTION OF THE BYUN OFFICE, NEAR THE PRINTER WHILE--) BYUN SLEEPS, BYUN BED

The printer jams. The printer is jamming. The printer is getting awfully down and dirty with Baekhyun's PC. The tubelights on the ceiling blink green and yellow and red, giving a disco dance floor effect. Baekhyun can't really believe this is happening. This is probably not happening.

"STOP!" he yells at his monitor, but it just turns blue and then blinks continuously with a picture of a dark haired dude with anxious moony eyes looking out at him from behind the screen. The screen blinks. Blue, dude, blue, dude. Baekhyun is horrified, transfixed. It’s one of those can't-take-your-eyes-off-a-train-wreck deals. Blue, dude, blue, dude. Talk about a virus; faster and faster, they switch until there's a permanent tattoo on his eyes of a blue-skinned dude with strange blue-sclera'd eyes and purple hair.

The printer starts coughing ink everywhere, cough splutter cough, and explodes in his face. Baekhyun's sent flying to the other side of the room from the impact, and eerie music begins to play. "Help," Baekhyun whispers, "They're coming." He doesn't have a clue who 'they' are but it seemed appropriate to say that, given the circumstances.

He starts running, and hears a chorus of a song that seems familiar but sounds distorted. Blinks, looks down at his shirt. Soaking wet, Jesus. Barely been ten minutes in this drama and he's become drenched.

And then, from far away, "How the fuck do you think I should wake him up now?"

That’s odd…


23rd NOVEMBER, SUNDAY 09.37 A.M., BYUN NOW CONSCIOUS, BYUN BED

Baekhyun jerks up with a long-drawn gasp, eyes wide open. Jongdae's frowning at the ceiling with an empty jug hanging loosely from one hand, and a phone in the other. His iPod is in the dock, blasting out the song Oh My God by none other than the royal TTS. Beautiful song, that. Taeyeon's vocals--

"Make out with him, I guess," Lu Han's speaker-amplified voice cuts through his thoughts, and Baekhyun indignantly steps out of bed. The consequent fall hurts, but not as much as his pride; Jongdae's face turns an impressive dark red from laughing. Surrounded by traitors, Baekhyun thinks, and bumps his head against the doorframe when he goes to the bathroom to brush his teeth.


Later, when he spots Joonmyun at the cafe, the guy's got brown hair. He looks just like the one from the screen, in his dream. Or his nightmare. His nightmarish dream? And it's odd, really, because the last time he'd seen Joonmyun, his hair was all blond, with weird dirty roots. "Hey, hash brownie!" he calls out, and wiggles his eyebrows when Joonmyun looks around and sees him. Damn it, the shortie was cute. "Looks like we're meant to be," Baekhyun makes his way over to Joonmyun, who smiles back a little strangely, before he recognizes that it’s Baekhyun.

"Oh!" Joonmyun's mouth goes in a little moony O (why does he make Baekhyun think of moons so much) and he bows, barely slushing over the cappuccino in his hand. Baekhyun bows back, and-- yeah. He's dropped some of his onto the floor. But no matter, for Joonmyun seems not to have noticed, and Baekhyun has to tell him about his dream.


23rd NOVEMBER, SUNDAY, 01.18 P.M., THE KIM CHATROOM
jm: n so he said we r spiritually connected

dok: and my name is dok2
pcy: wait what's wrong with being
pcy: 'spiritually connected'
jm: it's just.. doubtful, chanyeol
jm: and i feel creeped out
jm: the last time we met we had mindblowing sex
jm: and now he says this

dok: he's got no taste
dok: in neither men nor flirting tactics
pcy: hey
jm: hey!
jm: ty yeol

pcy: hey bossman
pcy: anytime
dok: call me when u guys stop kissing
pcy: u kno
pcy: times like this i just
pcy: does sehun rly like Like me?
jm: im sure he secretly worships u

pcy: thanks but
pcy: even im not that dumb
pcy: and actually
pcy: unlike what u all think
pcy: im not actually dumb
pcy: now, back 2 u and ur man
jm: what abt him ):

pcy: i think he’s nice ok
pcy: u say he’s creepy and hey
pcy: maybe he is
pcy: that doesn’t mean he gets disqualified
pcy: on account of just dreamin nonmasturbatory dreams of u
pcy: he could be psychic!
dok: …...whats ur point exactly
jm: ur cute yeol

dok: dont set him up for heartbreak
pcy: ty boss, ty soo
pcy: im feelin the luv
pcy: but like i was sayin
pcy: actually i forgot what i was sayin
pcy: but i think he’s a nice guy my gut says so
pcy: always listen to guts
jm: actually my gut says it needs to take a dump
jm: and then i need to do laundry
jm: so i’ll see u guys later ):
jm: thanks for ur thing yeol ):

pcy: wait
pcy: my thing?
dok: haha ur thing
pcy: whats my thing? my period?
pcy: boss u sayin im on my period!!
dok: ok, wow
dok: u could have thought of penis
dok: and u thought period
dok: r u sure ur gay……
pcy: wtf soo
pcy: i want to SUCK sehun’s DICK
pcy: while i MYSELF own a DICK as WELL
pcy: not 2 mention i IDENTIFY as a DUDE
pcy: that’s how gay i am
dok: aight it’s cool man it’s cool


25th NOVEMBER, THURSDAY, 08.13 P.M., THE LAUNDRY ROOM IN KIM’S APARTMENT COMPLEX

The ajuhmma, who lives in the apartment above his, pats his head and asks how it's going. They only know the bare basics of each other, but he finds that he likes it. It's caring; you need only nod to people passing by in your living space, and you somehow get knit into the community. Granted, he could do without the wailing baby in the apartment next to his, but--

"It's going fine," Joonmyun smiles at her. "A little confusing sometimes, with work and colleagues, you know, but otherwise just fine."

She smiles back, glasses huge and eyes looking huger, pats him again, and tells him he can come over for jajangmyun any time. "But I sleep at nine o clock," she whispers, like it's a secret. "Try not to come after." Then, shaking her head, she clunks out with her walking stick.

Joonmyun sets his basket down to tug at the latch. The door swings outward, and he starts stuffing his clothes inside. He pauses when he reaches the bottom of the pile. His JCPenney coat's rolled up messily, innocent and-- he knows for a fact-- avocadoless. For a moment his mind goes blank, and he just stares at it. Then he grins and puts it into the laundromat, too.

His phone buzzes in the pocket of his sweatpants as he walks away, towards the elevator. He fishes it out once he's back inside his own kitchen, water boiling on the stove for tea.

bbh: hello ( ^∇^)v

Joonmyun bites his lip and types back.
jm: bye (◡‿◡✿)


bbh: nooo! ⊙△⊙
bbh: why?!!!!


25th NOVEMBER, THURSDAY, 08.25 P.M., BYUN SENDS ANTAGONISTIC BEST FRIEND A MESSAGE
bbh: r u even TRYING to get him to like me

dok: now listen here u little pipsqueak
dok: u buckle up n let daddy do the talking
bbh: ew dad is that like a kink
bbh: srsly tho. ty??? ig

dok: hmmmmmmmm


1st DECEMBER, MONDAY, 02.21 P.M., KIM OFFICE, COPY ROOM

"Chanyeol," Joonmyun slides into the photocopy room a few minutes after Chanyeol's been in there. Chanyeol looks up from the copier, surprised.

"Hey, hyung. You rarely use this room."

"That's true. But today I felt like... I felt like there should be a change in routines. The body gets... depressed! With too much routine. If you eat the same food all the time, there's a drop in mood and you get lethargic and apathetic and you don't want to eat anymore. Those are scientific studies, you know."

Chanyeol nods, slowly, glasses catching the light. They're reflective lenses, so for a second Joonmyun can't see his expression properly, but he does get the general vibe of 'what the fuck'. "Right, bossman," Chanyeol says anyway, with a smile. That's the thing with Chanyeol. He can do anything with a smile-- maybe even commit murder with a smile, except that's sociopathic. And now Joonmyun's freaking himself out by imagining close friends as smiling, murdering sociopaths. Abort mission.

"You're super into One Piece aren't you," Joonmyun approaches Chanyeol with a purposeful step. Chanyeol takes a retaliatory step, just as purposeful, but backwards.

"Yes," Chanyeol says, unsure. "Very much. I used to tell you guys about it all the time, before Sehun got promoted."

"Right," Joonmyun nods, staring at the copier. It's spitting out page after page, and he shudders and looks away immediately. Copiers always did make him feel nervous. "So, one anime fan to another," he starts, and Chanyeol promptly assumes an air of uneasiness about him, but Joonmyun ignores this. "I was thinking... you know how my lucky item thing works? And that I do it because, you know--"

"Midorima, yes," Chanyeol completes. "Although, I mean, I'm the tall one with the glasses, so it's kind of unfair that you worship him and not me--"

"You're a dweeb," Joonmyun interrupts. "Midorima is a god. No offense," he adds, hurriedly, but Chanyeol just stares sadly down at his shoes.

"So the item of the month," Joonmyun barrels over his conscience, "Is a One Piece figurine and I was thinking--"

"Bossman," Chanyeol says, solemnly, drawing himself to his full height, and Joonmyun already knows he's lost. "If you asked me anything else. Literally, anything else, I'd have given it to you. If you asked for my left testicle, I'd have given it to you. But you can't ask for that, bossman. You just can't."

With hurt pride, Chanyeol sweeps out of the room. Joonmyun chews his lips and sighs, catching sight of the printer, still printing copy after copy, left behind in heat of the moment.


12th DECEMBER, FRIDAY, 07.12 P.M., KIM APARTMENT (KIM KITCHEN)

The eggs are bobbing in the fast-steaming water. Joonmyun wrinkles his nose and brings up another pot for the rice, squeezing the phone between his ear and shoulder.

“So then, we tried thinking of some way to get them together, right--”

“Because you’re a lowlife with nothing else to do, trying to redeem yourself?” Baekhyun cuts in.

“Okay, ouch, man, what if that hurt my feelings? And for the record, I was-- am!-- trying to be nice.”

For a few seconds he hears nothing but Baekhyun’s delighted laughter at the other end of the line. “Alright, I believe you, nice guy. Go on.”

The rice at the bottom of the bowl sticks obstinately. Joonmyun grunts, shaking the bowl over the pot. “Right, so I suggested paintball, and that got shot down because Chanyeol would never pass off a chance to use a bad pick up line, and then later Kyungsoo thought of something at the mess and, hang on a sec, gotta take out the eggs.”

“Sure,” Baekhyun says, and Joonmyun can hear pages rustling there. “Did he say cafe?”

Joonmyun blinks, dropping the eggs into the bowl. “Hey, yeah!”

Baekhyun sounds suspiciously like he’s snickering, but when he says, “Neat! Cool,” his voice seems serious. Then he asks what Joonmyun’s doing in the kitchen.

“Dude,” Joonmyun says, “Don’t even ask. I have no idea. Trying to cook, obviously, but I’ve lost the recipe I wrote down, so I’m going by memory.”

“Can’t be going too well,” Baekhyun laughs, breezy.

“Appreciate your faith in me,” Joonmyun mumbles, trying to remember what to do next.

“Hey, you know, if you want to come over, just tell me! My housemate does barbecue really well. I mean, there was that one time where it was really shitty weather and the wind rolled all his meat off the grill and onto the ground, but that wasn’t really his fault.”


16th DECEMBER, TUESDAY, 04.39 P.M., RECORD STORE NEAR NONDESCRIPT BUBBLE TEA SHOP

The bell tinkles as Baekhyun pushes the door open, sharp and clear. Joonmyun shuffles in after him, looking around.

A boy behind the counter looks up from his 3DS, gives Baekhyun a wave, barely glances at Joonmyun, and goes back to playing. “You weren’t kidding when you said it was small,” Joonmyun whispers.

“Shh,” Baekhyun whispers back, grabbing him by the elbow and ming towards a cramped corner.

“Is this the British rock part you told me about?” Joonmyun’s speaking under his breath to such extremes that Baekhyun can barely figure out what he’s saying.

“Yeah, here. I wanted you to check this one out. They have headphones and everything, so you can listen to stuff.” Baekhyun looks among the stacks for the album he wants-- Face to Face by The Kinks-- before pausing. “Are you into, like, seventies rock?”

Joonmyun shrugs. “I never actually delved into it or anything. I kind of dig Red Hot Chili Peppers, though? System of a Down?”

Baekhyun pauses a beat. “Like, Rage Against the Machine?”

Joonmyun brightens. “Oh, definitely.”

“But no seventies British,” Baekhyun confirms. “Because I’d be pretty embarrassed if I brought you all the way here to make you listen to something already know.”

"Hey," Joonmyun pokes his shoulder as Baekhyun resumes looking through the vinyls. "I like this even if I turn out to be allergic to seventies British rock and roll."

"Just rock, I think," Baekhyun corrects. "Not rock and roll."

"Just rock," Joonmyun nods, and slides a hand into Baekhyun's jacket pocket. "Sorry, my hands are cold."


28th DECEMBER, SUNDAY, 11.36 P.M., KIM APARTMENT (KIM’S BEDROOM)

It’s well into the night, with the snow piling up against the windows. Joonmyun’s drowsing with the hot chocolate steaming on the bedside table, book open on his lap. The pages rustle softly as he turns them, unread. He can’t focus on a single word, mind buzzing in a pleasant, thoughtless lull.

His phone rings through it all, shrill, and he’s startled into answering without even checking who it is first.

“Hello?”

“Hey! Hey, Joonmyun.”

“Baekhyun, hi! What’s up?”

Baekhyun sounds restless, turning over and over, his breathing heavy. “I-- I don’t know. I… it’s late, isn’t it?”

Joonmyun glances at the clock. Almost midnight. “Yeah, I guess. It’s okay, though, we’ve talked later than this.”

“Hmm,” he sounds like he’s trying to say something but holding himself back.

Joonmyun waits a beat before speaking again. “Baekhyun?”

“Yeah,” Baekhyun sighs, “Yeah, yeah. Are you… I don’t know. You alone?”

Joonmyun’s mouth quirks up in a half-smile. “If I am?”

A frustrated release of breath on the phone, sounding like so much crackle and static.

“Can I… I don’t know, I--! Can I come over? If it’s okay?”

Joonmyun fiddles with his lower lip, hesitating. He hears Baekhyun’s intake of breath, probably to scratch it off as nothing, so Joonmyun makes up his mind and blurts, “Why not? I’ll text you my address.”

Baekhyun’s relieved wow, really? is all Joonmyun manages to hear before hanging up before he can change his mind. His hands are shaking a bit, he realizes. Out of nervousness or the cold, he can’t figure out. He lets out a shaky little laugh and starts pacing around the room for a good five minutes until he concludes it’s because he’s nervous-- the heating’s working well enough.

He sits down on the bed, crossing and uncrossing his legs. He’s sure he wasn’t this worked up before-- no, Joonmyun’s going back to high school down memory lane right now. He’s perfectly calm. He climbs to the other side of the bed and downs his now-barely-warm hot chocolate. Right, this is normal.

The bell rings, and Joonmyun almost passes out into his mug. Normal. Joonmyun goes to open the door. Actually normal. Joonmyun opens the door, also normal.

Baekhyun’s standing in the doorway, a few flakes of snow fast melting in his hair, shivering in nothing but a T-shirt and jeans, and this, Joonmyun convinces himself, is also normal, except it isn’t and he drags Baekhyun inside at once and starts rubbing his shoulders to get him warm. (Slightly normal.)

Baekhyun just stands there, in Joonmyun’s living room for the first time, staring at Joonmyun, and his ears are pink and his arms have goosebumps, and he’s got a little smile on his face. Normal, and very cute, too. Joonmyun just frowns and keeps rubbing his shoulders. “Honestly?” he fumes. “A T-shirt? You could’ve gotten a sweater, at least! Maybe a jacket? You’re cold as ice!”

Baekhyun just tilts his head and keeps smiling at him. Not normal, very cute, a tiny bit unsettling. The first opportunity he gets to put a word in edgewise, he says, “Hi, Joonmyun.”

Joonmyun stops talking and blinks at him. “Oh, right. Hey there. You’re just so dumb, coming here without even--”

“Joonmyun,” Baekhyun grins, stepping closer, “Hey,” and he leans forward, catching Joonmyun’s mouth with his own. It takes Joonmyun a second before he’s kissing back. However cold the rest of him is, Baekhyun’s lips are warm, moving gently against Joonmyun’s. When he leans back, he’s smiling that little smile again. “You taste like chocolate.”

“Well,” Joonmyun sniffs, “You smell like… the outside.”

“No compliments for me?”

Joonmyun kisses him for lack of anything better to say, and Baekhyun’s hands come up from his sides to hold onto Joonmyun’s elbows, and though they’re still cold, they’re fast to warm up as Joonmyun walks backwards to his room.

When they reach it, Joonmyun turns them around and Baekhyun hits the bed on his back, arms wide open. “Hey,” he says again, and he’s grinning now, all self-assured as Joonmyun straddles him, and Joonmyun wants to shut Baekhyun’s mouth up, so he tugs up at Baekhyun’s shirt the same second Baekhyun pulls at his. Their eyes meet for a beat, and they laugh, breathless. Joonmyun puts his hands up, and Baekhyun’s eyes glint as he sits up and takes it off.


Outside, the snow piles up so high on the windows that the panes are almost covered in soft white.


29th DECEMBER, MONDAY, 07.57 A.M., KIM APARTMENT (A SKYPE CALL)

“Fuck your asses,” Kyungsoo groans, as soon as he accepts the call. “What the fuck? Eight a.m., on our first Monday off?”

Chanyeol accepts a few seconds later, with the video on. He looks like he’s in the bathroom. “Yo,” he waves, then clears his throat. “No, I’m not taking a dump, guys, I’m just sitting on the toilet because it gives me good vibes.”

“Hey,” Kyungsoo says, rubbing his eyes. “How’s that project coming along.”

Chanyeol beams, “You remembered! It’s getting on well, really fast. I love this toilet.”

Joonmyun frowns, curious. “What project?”

Chanyeol starts and chews his lip.

“Never mind,” Kyungsoo puts in, hastily. “What did you call us for, weasel.”

“Hey, look, I can explain,” Joonmyun starts, feeling helpless already.

“You just woke me the fuck up in the morning on a Saturday, so yeah, I’m guessing if you can explain, you’d better start.”


Following those orders is pretty daunting when there’s a Doh Kyungsoo who’s just gotten up and is raring to end the call with him if Joonmyun so much as stutters, but Joonmyun manages it.

“I don’t know,” he ends, “I just freaked out when I woke up afterwards. The last time I had a relationship that went like this, the guy just fucking upped and left to Hawaii and never called back.” A pause. “I think Baekhyun looked slightly disappointed…?”

"I think you're a dick. That shit is nothing like this shit, and you know it," Kyungsoo says. He curses a lot when he’s woken up early, Joonmyun notes, and he can’t exactly blame him.

“Maybe,” Chanyeol evidently tries to be polite. “Maybe you're playing that hard-to-get-card a little too hard.”

“But I’m not!” Joonmyun protests. “I just had sex with the dude, how can I be hard to get? I don’t know! And he… I just. Don’t know. I mean, I like him! But!”

“Ugh, screw this,” Kyungsoo mumbles, faceplanting into the keyboard. He drops out of the call.


29th DECEMBER, MONDAY, TIME, BYUN QUARTERS (BYUN CALLS ANTAGONISTIC BEST FRIEND)

“THIS IS THREE MONTHS. THREE MONTHS. Does he not like me at all? Is this his way of breaking it to me that he doesn't dig me? Right after we--! Kyungsoo, I--” Baekhyun’s about to choke up, because he’s pretty sure he likes this guy enough to imagine a future with him, and he doesn’t know why, but he knows he does, and everything’s fucked up because they just had sex and he’s going to have a breakdown on the phone in front of Kyungsoo--

“Baekhyun, calm the fuck down. Chill. Relax. Let go.”

“He hates me,” Baekhyun moans. “Is my dick too tiny for him? I wasn’t able to give him what he wanted and now he hates me?”

“He likes you,” Kyungsoo’s voice comes across a little fuzzy but very clearly exasperated. “He's just an idiot. He actually likes you. He just told me. He probably thinks your dick is mindblowing-- why am I even saying this-- and he is definitely already planning to ask you over to his place a second time and do something really gay, like marathon movies or baking rosy therapeutic cakes or something. Alright? Calm it, fuck.”

There’s a long silence as Baekhyun tries to digest this information. Then,

“Movies?” Baekhyun asks, voice tiny.

“Goddammit, you small weiner,” Kyungsoo mutters, “Yes, probably.”

Kyungsoo hangs up.

Baekhyun stares at his phone apprehensively.
jm hey! want to come over on saturday?
jm we could uh
jm have popcorn? watch bad movies?
jm ^^;;;;;?
jm haha only if u want! no pressure!



Baekhyun replies with a hecky yeah!!, sweats profusely, and takes a shower.

They text intermittently after that, and Baekhyun even gathers up the courage to call Joonmyun up two days later, who tells him about Chanyeol’s newest episode with Sehun (a good one on one soccer game, that got ruined after Sehun called him bro continuously-- Chanyeol said this meant he’d been ‘brozoned’), and his New Year’s resolution to learn how to knit. Neither of them go out clubbing on December 31st, and although Baekhyun has definitely been a partygoer from day one of legal drinking age, he finds this a nice change.

And on the morning of New Year’s, he even manages to slip in a sly, “So… what’s the lucky item of the month this month?” to which he first gets indignant squawking, followed by throat clearing, and then an extremely greasy “you,” which has them both in fits of laughter.


2nd JANUARY, FRIDAY, 01.29 P.M., BYUN CHAT ROOM

jd i can hear u clanking in ur closets
jd who u gettin ready for, princess~
jd mehehehehe
lh he better be gettin ready for the marvel marathon tmrw!!
kAi followed by a batman one!!
dok huh. seems like someone’s in trouble
bbh why would i be in trouble
bbh wait shit

lh dnt fuckin miss out!!!! u lil bitch
bbh i have a date tomrrow, guys T__T

dok tell em what kinda date it is
bbh no shut ur fuck i dont want to die

dok mehehehehehe
dok he’s goin on a movie date guys
bbh FUUUUUUCCCCKKKKK IM BLCKIN THIS GRP









are you sure you want to block Group: Homies?
yes no
yes
Group: Homies blocked.









2nd JANUARY, FRIDAY, 01.34 P.M., BYUN’S QUARTERS

“Holy shit!” Jongdae yells from the next room. “Did you really just block us?”

Sighing hugely, Baekhyun checks Skype and sees baek da beomb online. Time, he mulls, for some whining and in-depth self-exploration with the help of an elder sibling. Those sessions always bring out something interesting, if nothing else.

The clothes hanger scratches morosely against the door handle as he swings the closet shut, sweater forgotten on the floor. He logs in on Skype on his laptop, and attacks his brother immediately.

hyunbaekbyun92: all my friends hate me

He pauses. Not the best way to start, but he’s always been one for dramatics. Baekbeom will understand.

baek da beomb: thought ur a 22yr old with a job now
baek da beomb: why do u still seem like an 8yr old with a complex
baek da beomb: is typing…
baek da beomb: bugger off

As expected, Baekbeom totally understands.

hyunbaekbyun92: i promised them i’d go to jongin’s movie marathon thing bc his bf did smth.. i frget what exactly.
hyunbaekbyun92: or maybe they finally had sex for the first time so this is celebration idek. maybe new years!!! i know i sound like im 5!! bear w me.
baek da beomb: 5 yr olds are considerably less educated and dont know about sex
baek da beomb: then again, this new generation of 5 yr olds… wouldn’t put it past them. so perhaps your impersonation is accurate
hyunbaekbyun92: ya so but then i also have a date w this guy the same day, same time, also for movies????

Baekhyun sniffs, nose itching. His fingers type at an aggressively faster rate to distract him from the itching.

hyunbaekbyun92: and i REALLY have to make it bc technically he asked me B4 they did… ++ he was upset the last time we met???? so am i doing this right?? i mean, can chicks before dicks actually count here
hyunbaekbyun92: wait who are the chicks
hyunbaekbyun92: who are the dicks
hyunbaekbyun92: what if everyone is secretly asexual aliens w/o genitals and in disguise and im the only human left after the apocalypse
baek da beomb: ok, WHAT
baek da beomb: chill
hyunbaekbyun92: i feel like i need to yell!!!! this guy is annoying!!
baek da beomb: this girl is on fire
baek da beomb: who’s annoying, though. me or your date?







baek da bomb is inviting you to a video call








Baekhyun clicks Accept and continues typing while their webcams load.

hyunbaekbyun92: i don’t know!! i mean!!!

“Okay, hello? Can you see me? Hello. Stop chatting, Jesus. We’re on call now. Hello?”

“Hyung!” Baekhyun yells, “Hi! Can’t see you! See me?” He waves, and the Baekhyun in the little box on the right waves a beat late, but Baekbeom says he can’t see anything.

“Typical,” Baekhyun mutters, and Baekbeom’s face, disgruntled and half slathered in shaving cream, comes on.

“Hey! Hyung! Hey!” Baekhyun waves again.

Baekbeom jumps a few seconds afterwards. Disgraceful lag. “Don’t fucking yell in my ear like that, man, I’ll pop an artery.”

“Well, you’re the one who decided to wear headphones while shaving,” Baekhyun points out.

“My very best pair,” Baekbeom nods, pleased with himself, before realizing his error. “Never mind my headphones,” he says, “What is this dude doing to your heart and soul.”

“Heart, mind, soul,” Baekhyun ticks off on his fingers. “We’ve literally just had sex an average of one point five times, eaten together maybe seven, gone bowling once, and mostly LINE or WhatsApp. And by this time,” he’s getting agitated now, and Baekbeom’s raising an eyebrow in boredom as though he’s been through this numerous times before, and it’s not helping because he has, because Baekhyun tends to drag him to the insides of every casual or non-casual relationship he’s ever had, and by this time--

“By this time,” Baekbeom supplies, “You have this gigantic list of things about this guy or girl that annoy you.”

Correct. Baekhyun gets irked with his dates really, really quick. “Guy,” he reminds, quietly, and chews his nails.

“Ugh, stop that,” Baekbeom sighs, and the view shakes a lot until Baekhyun’s staring at the underside of his brother’s chin. He stops chewing his nails to say, “Why’m I staring at this stubby neck of yours?”

Baekbeom grunts, and there’s more shaking, some squicky sounds, before the camera settles to grace Baekhyun with the panoramic view of Baekbeom’s shower stall, Baekbeom’s slightly pudgy, very hairy stomach, and Baekbeom’s sink. “Gonna finish shaving. You’re definitely taking your time talking this one out.”

“The thing is…” Baekhyun says, a little anguished. “The thing is…”

“Da ting ishhh,” Baekbeom repeats. His mouth’s probably screwed up to one side if he’s talking like that, but Baekhyun can’t be sure, because he’s not good at guessing facial expressions via stomach hair.

“I don’t actually have a list of his terrible habits,” Baekhyun confesses. “I mean, he has these quirks? Almost always wiggles his chopsticks in the air before attacking his food, and he insists on wearing knee socks to work. He says nobody will know or care, and I guess he’s right. You go to the bathroom, you check out the dick size, not the sock length, yeah? And he talks a lot about his friends but he doesn’t rave about how amazing they are or anything annoying, just talks about funny shit they do or crazy stuff they’ve said. And he laughs at his own jokes.” Baekhyun’s a little alarmed to note the wistful tone his own voice has taken. He hadn’t realized he’d been cataloguing all these things away as cute.

Baekbeom bends to wash his face. Baekhyun sees the folds of his brother’s hairy torso up super super close, and vaguely wonders what crimes his past life had been filled with for his current one to come to this. “So,” Baekbeom yells over the sound of the rushing tap, “Jokes any good? ‘R just a loser?”

Baekhyun pauses to recall.

What happened in the race between the lettuce and the tomato? The lettuce was a head while the tomato tried to ketchup! Get it? Followed by a burst of snorts and giggles.

Not… not that good. “They’re alright,” he calls back, and Baekbeom shakes his head like a wet dog after he’s done, water flicking everywhere. “Your laptop is going to die from all this reckless water exposure,” Baekhyun warns him loudly, but Baekbeom moves out of range and he’s left staring at the shower stall, a toilet seat, and the sink. “Sure,” he says, sadly, “Leave me in your laptop in your bathroom. You’ve got better things to do.”

“Indeed I do,” Baekbeom yawns, still out of view, “I have a date myself, actually. But I can spare a few minutes for my peasant, mortal brother, I suppose.” The laptop’s yanked up, Baekhyun sees the ceiling and the underside of his brother’s chin again, only this time he sees less of it because Baekbeom’s put on a shirt with a collar and isn’t half naked anymore. Thank Buddha.

“Right,” his brother says, raising his brows and sitting at his desk. “What part of your homosexually lovesick confession did I miss.”

“None,” Baekhyun replies, pulling a face. There is a pause, and Baekbeom leans his head on his hand and waits.

“I really dig him though, hyung,” Baekhyun says, uneasy. Now, if he’s uneasy about whining over his regular date and now perhaps good friend, or uneasy about what 'digging him' implies, he can’t pinpoint. But he senses he’s nearing a breakthrough in figuring it out, and is kind of excited about that.

Baekbeom, on the other hand, looks slightly pixelated and hugely unimpressed. "Well, you’ve solved your problem. He sucks but you dig him, clearly there is a spring wedding on the horizons. If we turn to my case, though, I still have my own date to go to and then warble about in the characteristic lost, confused tones of Romeo-- if we even like each other. Ergo, I’m leaving."

Baekhyun rolls his eyes. "I feel the love, hyung."

Baekbeom smiles sweetly. "Then you're shitting yourself." And he ends the call
promptly, leaving Baekhyun a little aghast, but a message pops up the next second.

baek da beomb: jk lil bro i got ur back.

damn right. good luck on date, knock her dead!!, Baekhyun types in, grinning, and a little pop up informs him that baek da beomb has gone offline.

Baekhyun straightens from his hunch over the laptop, then falls back on his pillows.

"Oh boy," he says to the ceiling.

Solemnly, the ceiling says nothing back.


3rd JANUARY, SATURDAY, 07.00 P.M., KIM’S APARTMENT

It’s kind of a mess, at the start, with Joonmyun apologizing and then Baekhyun apologizing and then both of them apologizing at once, and then Joonmyun explaining and Baekhyun apologizing again and then Joonmyun apologizing again-- but they manage to sort it out and put it behind them after an hour or so. Then Baekhyun points excitedly to the TV, “Movies?”

Baekhyun, as it turns out, is big on action movies, which is totally cool except Joonmyun had planned on rom com, and now they’re having a slightly heated discussion bordering on full-on argument. Joonmyun’s more of an animanga guy, but hey! Nobody made a rule about him not defending his arbitrary choice of movie to watch on an evening at home!

You come into my house, insult my movie taste, Joonmyun can’t help thinking, laughingly, to himself, and it kind of affects his debate points of why rom com is better. Affects his debate for the worse.

“Rom com isn’t as emotionally compromising,” Joonmyun waves the remote control wildly. “It’s easier to watch! So you can watch more, more often! Prime consumer material!”

Baekhyun chews aggressively on a dorito. “Wrong,” he says, “It’s easier to kick back into action! Pretty people blowing things up? Tell me, who isn’t about that life?” He points a slightly accusatory finger at Joonmyun.

It goes on for a bit like that, a ping pong match of opinions, until Joonmyun just makes a face before shrugging. "We'll just have to agree to disagree, then."

Baekhyun breaks off whatever he was about to start saying and just stares at him with a slightly open mouth, until Joonmyun makes another face. “What's wrong?" he asks, shoulders hunching up, slightly defensive, but Baekhyun just blinks and laughs. Joonmyun curls in a little, against the sofa cushions.

"Wow," Baekhyun blinks again, mouth open but smiling a little. "You're just --" he shakes his head and waves his hand. "You're chill, man.”

It sounds like a compliment, so Joonmyun allows some comforting, expansive feelings to bounce around his ribs.

They end up watching Sesame Street, as a truce, and Joonmyun doesn't remember having laughed at Grover so much in his life.


3rd JANUARY, SATURDAY, 09.23 P.M., KIM’S BATHROOM IN KIM’S APARTMENT, BYUN STARTS NEW CHAT
bbh: i could get used 2 this guy
bbh: he’s rly nice

bbm: so could i. u talk less
bbh: why u gotta be so
bbh: meaaaaan?

bbm: meaaaaan?
bbm: banjo banjo
bbh: blond hair

bbm: farm yard
bbm: OH MAN
bbh: t swiftttt

bbm: good times


3rd JANUARY, SATURDAY, 09.26 P.M., KIM AWAITS BYUN’S RETURN FROM THE BATHROOM

His phone buzzes, and since Baekhyun isn’t exactly here at the moment, it wouldn’t be rude to check his messages.

dok: so, ladies
dok: how doth the sleepover goeth
pcy: u know i rly wanted
pcy: purple nailpolish
jm: i think i like this guy.

dok: oh
pcy: wait
pcy: OH
pcy: OHHH SHIIIIIIT
jm: for real, guys

pcy: WE KNOW
pcy: wait, u kno rite
pcy: soo?
dok: for the last time
dok: i'm *dok*
dok: hiphop father of *dok*2
pcy: yeah, bossman
pcy: we know
pcy: that u like the guy
jm: thanx 4 support



6th JANUARY, TUESDAY, 11.23 P.M., KIM’S CHATROOM

pcy so, like u guys suggested
pcy i asked him abt french
pcy WE HAD A GREAT TIME
pcy im literally, like
pcy blown away by his passion
dok cool!!
dok what did u guys talk about
pcy i dont actually… remember….
pcy but i had a great time, bc he was there
pcy and he had a great time
pcy bc he was talking abt smth he loved
pcy and who doesn’t have a great time when they do that??
pcy i feel happy!!
jm ;u;
jm im glad, bro :3

dok aw man fine
dok i give in let’s all be fuckin gay
dok chanyeol had a good time w his dude
dok and he fuckin deserved it!!!!!
jm internet group hug!!!

pcy awww guys ;//////;


8th JANUARY, THURSDAY, 12.33 P.M., KIM OFFICE (LUNCHROOM)

The impending merger deal kind of slows their personal lives down a bit. Chanyeol and Sehun don’t get to have as many outings as Chanyeol-- and, judging by the explosive way Sehun texts him these days, Sehun-- would like, but once Chanyeol’s done providing as many notes and statistics as he can provide from the R&D department to Sehun, he stays behind to help sift through everything and start on the final report.

There are powerpoint presentations, stacks of paperwork and flip charts to go through, meetings numbering in the double digits that Sehun has to go through all the minutes of, and phone calls to make and cross referencing to do-- Joonmyun’s personally grateful that Chanyeol hangs back to help Sehun. The kid would be going nearly mad otherwise with day in and day out of the same bull and different materials. Joonmyun knows; his elder brother had been in that place some years before. He’d started hallucinating about the world being taken over by raw carrots and eventually had to be tranquilized. A dark few months.

Chanyeol, of course, doesn’t let the work impede him (much) once he and Sehun are way into the overtime hours.


“I gave him literally everything he asked for,” Chanyeol narrates through the third burger in fifteen minutes. “Like, the second before he actually needed it? I had it ready. He called me a wizard and we reached for the same folder once and our hands brushed.”

“That’s really nice, Chanyeol,” Kyungsoo says, perfectly serious, staring at his phone and taking a picture of his salad.

Chanyeol grins at him. “Going to put it on Instagram so that health nut you found on Grindr and added on every social network afterwards can see how attractive and like-minded you are?”

Kyungsoo shrugs. “Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. But his name isn’t health nut, it’s Hyunsik. Now, please.”

Chanyeol shrugs back. “Sure, dude, continue with your coy maybes as if I don’t know better. Anyway, I kissed him in the romantic hours of pre-dawn, under the light of the desk lamp.”

Joonmyun’s about to congratulate him (and Kyungsoo on his new find), when Chanyeol adds, hastily, “Just the forehead. He was asleep.”

Kyungsoo and Joonmyun frown at the same time. “That’s a little creepy, Chanyeol.”

“I know,” Chanyeol says, glum. “Sorry.”


The conversation comes back to Joonmyun in the next few days, on and off, and he finds himself frowning a little when he's alone at his desk.


He’s lost in the new records the assistant had handed over to him in the morning, reading the same figures over and over again, until Kyungsoo taps him on the shoulder on his way to the bathroom.

Joonmyun starts, then stares at the computer clock, waiting exactly four minutes before getting up to join him. “Oh, good,” Kyungsoo calls from the sinks. “Thought you didn't want to talk.”

Joonmyun opens his hands and gestures. “About?”

Kyungsoo shakes his head. “Your long face. Usually I'd leave you to it, but you've been... perpetual with it, recently.”

“Big words,” Joonmyun picks at his collar and stares at the floor. Kyungsoo shrugs. “Alright, alright. I will leave you to it. Just figure it out fast, okay? We're playing ping pong with Sehun tonight, so you're on my team.”

Joonmyun manages a small smile. “Yeah? Sounds good.”

Kyungsoo bumps his shoulder, friendly, as he walks out.

Joonmyun is left alone in the bathroom, thinking of overtime nights in a cold office and only Baekhyun for company, and handholding and maybe kissing at midnight, over mugs of stale coffee and stained letters of consultations and complaint files.

Joonmyun frowns again. Considering how he almost ditched the guy a month ago, he isn't too excited about labeling the implications of the turns his thoughts are taking. If he does, he’ll end up talking about it, and if he talks about it, he’ll mess it up.

So as he wipes his hand for extra long on the paper towel and slowly makes his way back to his desk, he decides to not say anything, and hope Baekhyun gets it anyway.


20th JANUARY, TUESDAY, 07.34 P.M., WALKING THROUGH A RECREATIONAL PARK

On his next date, he tries to subtly reach over. He ends up being not-so-subtle, though, and misses a few times. After six tries, now a bit mulish, he manages to grip onto Baekhyun's hand. He stares straight ahead, feeling Baekhyun looking at him strangely. "Something up?" Baekhyun asks, at length. Joonmyun flushes, stares at his shoes instead. "Your hand," Joonmyun starts, then stops before his throat cracks on him. "I, uh. It looked lonely?"

He can feel Baekyhun's entire arm shaking against his. "It was," Baekhyun replies, and Joonmyun can hear the laughing smile. "Very lonely. It was about time, if I may say so myself."

Joonmyun flushes harder.


23rd JANUARY, FRIDAY, 11.59 A.M., KIM OFFICE, LUNCHROOM

“So,” Joonmyun breaks the news to them, three days later. “I held Baekhyun's hand three days ago.”

Kyungsoo stops chewing momentarily to give him a look, then swallows.

“You realize how much like a sixth grade girl you sound?”

Joonmyun deflates.

“Hey,” Chanyeol shakes a finger. “People are allowed to be excited over small things, okay. Have a heart.”

Joonmyun undeflates a bit, feeling warm and fuzzy.

Kyungsoo shrugs. “Having one of those heart things is easier said than done,” but the corners of his mouth turn up in acknowledgement, and they finish lunch in a comradely atmosphere. Until the end, that is, when Chanyeol asks something.

“Why do we always have lunch like a Mean Girls clique?”

All three frown. “I guess because we're outcasts,” Kyungsoo concludes, finally. “But that's okay. I like it.”

“Outcasts by association, actually,” Joonmyun nods, remembering. “I was here first, right. Then I trained both of you, and we got bubble tea and dinner together. You guys stuck like… super glue to ceramic.”

“Flies to dung,” Chanyeol corrects with a sigh, stretching. Joonmyun's eyebrows go from third floor to basement.


27th JANUARY, TUESDAY, 10.35 A.M., KIM OFFICE (CONFERENCE ROOM)

They’re all kind of rooting for Sehun, really. He’s been to all the departments for input on the reports and calculations and synopsis, the data reports and small print footnotes. The past few weeks have had Sehun’s trademark bubblegum pink hair, gelled up and wildly run through with his hands, bent at first one desk, then another, talking and asking for files and backup info and database passwords.

So when Sehun stands up to give Minseok the presentation of his life, Joonmyun raises a fist slowly in the air for him, Kyungsoo nods at him, and Chanyeol full on stands on his chair, miming whistling.

Then Minseok clears his throat, everyone cowers into their chairs and Sehun takes a deep breath and starts up his Powerpoint, a huge file of notes in nestled in the crook of his arm. The first slide shows a painting of a rather plump woman in robes, sitting in a field with a baby in her arms. The temperature in the room drops to freezing.

“Oh Sehun,” Minseok calls out, the smallest hint of a question in his tone.

This kind of instance is terrifying, Joonmyun thinks as he starts to sweat. The way he sees it: when someone just says your name while you’re screwing up, but doesn’t really question you, it’s because either they have a lot of trust in you and can’t believe this is happening-- which means you’ll have to break their trust and tell them yes, it is happening, you are actually screwing up royally right now-- or they don’t give a crap about you but you’re in charge and they can’t believe this is happening… which means you’re useless.

Joonmyun can’t figure out which is worse, and he’s ready to bolt forward to help in case Sehun throws up on the fancy conference table or publicly pees in his pants, when Sehun finally realizes the mess he’s in and literally squares his shoulders as he faces the screen.

“The guy who painted this,” Sehun calls out, turning around after a few seconds, “His name was Jacque D'Allons, and he rejected apprenticing students who had talent that surpassed his own. Eventually, although his work was great, he fell into poverty and died in squallor, pretty much forgotten. If he'd taken in the students though, his life might've ended with a lot more grandeur..." Sehun trails off, clearing his throat and starting again. "Still, that is just speculation. i think the point here is, grasp all opportunities, or you could--" he fumbles with the remote and goes onto the next slide. There's another painting waiting, this one instead showing ruins of, Joonmyun guesses, a battlefield. Lone heads and blood and severed limbs everywhere. Next to him, Kyungsoo fiddles uncomfortably with his finance representative placeholder. "End up like that," Sehun mumbles. "We want to end up like that?"

A fragmented chorus of mumbled nos, nahs and nevers greet his question. "Alright!" Sehun nods, voice cracking. He sounds as confident or enthusiastic everyone else around him. Joonmyun thinks they all owe him a week worth of his favorite glazed custard donuts, though. Meandering your way around an office disaster can be pretty tough.

"So," Sehun says, uncertainly, as Minseok raises an eyebrow amusedly and tilts his head. "I'll just... get on with it, then." He hurries back to the laptop, opens a presentation on the desktop as quickly as possible, and straightens up with a shaky smile when it stands up.

Everyone had been able to see the folder named HUMMINGBIRDS ARE THE CUTEST BIRDS EVER in the ten seconds it had taken for the new Powerpoint to show up on the screen.



Apart from the minor problem at the beginning, everything goes smoothly. Joonmyun gets an email to call through with the consultant team.

"So," Kyungsoo says later, as the three of them ride the elevator to the ground floor, heading home.

Chanyeol nods, not really listening. Something that sounds like Coldplay's Paradise is blasting tinnily out of his earphones. Joonmyun bops his head to whatever he can hear. Kyungsoo frowns at them both. "So," he says. "This merger contract is the real deal, huh?"

Chanyeol pops an earphone out. Joonmyun nods.

The elevator gives a ding and they walk out to the parking lot. The weather's slightly warmer than usual today, but still cold enough for them to stuff their hands in their pockets and hunch their shoulders against the wind. Ordinarily, they'd stay a bit and talk, but now that Kyungsoo's mentioned the contract, the air's a bit too serious for that.

"There'll be downsizing. We all know that." Surprisingly, Chanyeol's the one to break the silence. "And I don't know want to carry on this train of thought, because, frankly, I find it pretty scary. So just. Let's make it through the phase without getting fired, alright?"

There's a small, stunned silence at the outburst, but then Kyungsoo laughs quietly. "Chill," he says, "We've got this." And though Joonmyun feels much less confident, he makes them put their hands in for an impromptu cheer. "To Mean Girls?" he suggests, then hastily adds, "Just joking! Haha. Of course," when Kyungsoo balks, offended.

"To staying in one piece, pun intended," Chanyeol tries.

"Weeaboo," Kyungsoo criticizes. "To Swedish House Mafia."

"No no," Joonmyun frowns. "Just. To surviving shit."

"Hey, alright!"


1st FEBRUARY, SUNDAY, 08.26 P.M., KIM APARTMENT, BATHROOM, KIM SITS ON TOILET

pcy i dont want to say this
pcy but soo is tellin me to
pcy so ummmmm
pcy any figurines u want this month?
jm unfriended muted blocked reported



2nd FEBRUARY, MONDAY, 09.30 A.M., BYUN OFFICE (CONFERENCE ROOM)


The meetings are really boring, and Joonmyun knows better, knows he should be paying attention and actually caring about what's going on, but he has this really weird habit of thinking of Baekhyun when he's at them. Which is not professional behavior, not in the least. Not at all. No.

Still, at the third meeting, when the chief executive of the other company, someone tall and hot and pretty smoking-- Huang Zitao, steps up with lazy confidence and a slanted accent, Joonmyun finds himself sitting up and actually having an excuse to think of Baekhyun-- apparently Baekhyun had helped put together the reports, and once Zitao stutters and misses a page, goes off on a tangent and makes up a reason to blame someone else for it. Still, his digression has Minseok drawing his brows together and asking a few questions, and Joonmyun takes down minutes and frowns himself. Baekhyun had mentioned some stress going on at work, but Joonmyun hadn't guessed that his company would be merging with the one Joonmyun worked at.

Joonmyun's hand stills, pen hovering over the paper. What if they ended up working at the same offi-- "What are you doing," the secretary hisses, and Joonmyun's startled into taking minutes again. He still can't get the picture of Baekhyun in that pressed suit, from the conference months ago, sitting at the table and taking part in the meeting, out of his head. Not just unprofessional, but bordering on delusional. Or desperate. Weren't those two things related, anyway?

"I'll have to call in the consultants," Minseok cricks his neck as they walk out the building, towards the waiting limousine. "Joonmyun, have the tall one who did the reports cross check Huang's reports. They seem to be bringing in good profits, but they're still just a year old. Those stats are a bit too good for a start-up."

"Right, sir."


When they get back, he relays the message over to Sehun, who pales and swivels his chair irritatedly back to his computer. "What's wrong with the stupid intern? He should be pitching in and earning his experience, too."

"Intern's in IT," Joonmyun says, gently, but Sehun's already typing away and either can't hear him or is ignoring him. Joonmyun walks back to his own desk. Chanyeol leans over the partition to glare daggers.

Ah, the fickle changes a man makes in his loyalties for love. Graciously, Joonmyun lets it slide.


13th FEBRUARY, FRIDAY, 11.34 P.M., BYUN’S APARTMENT, BYUN KITCHEN

The last two years, Baekhyun has spent his night-before-Valentine’s either swagaliciously dougieing in a club, or furiously jacking off to porn in bed.

This year, Baekhyun is an emotional mess, locked up in the kitchen and ravenously eating everything in the fridge. Right now he has a plateful of cucumber pickles topped with peanut butter, and it tastes fucking awful.

His brain feels in overdrive, and the last thing he needs, he’s telling himself firmly, is tequila. That is like, the last thing he needs. For real. His hand continues to reach for the bottle in the bottom shelf, however, and soon he’s gotten some in his system.

His brain feels in overdrive, and the last thing he needs, he slurs aloud to himself, is a phone to contact people (especially Joonmyun) with. The last thing. For existential crisis real. His left hand comes up to slap his right hand away, but his right hand is a shining knight in armor, and continues against all odds and pathetic, drunk obstacles.

Baekhyun seizes the phone, and for a second he scares himself because he’s yelling “YEAHHHH!” and “NEVERRRR!” at apparently the same time, and that’s not very sane behavior. Neither is it humanly possible to utter two words simultaneously, a surprisingly sober and observant part of his mind points out. He’s probably so far gone that it seems that way, but really it isn’t.

Thus consoled, he takes selcas, likes all of Jongdae’s selfies on Instagram, and follows a bunch of nudists on Twitter.

Then he Drunk Texts Joonmyun.

Then he passes out.


14th FEBRUARY, SATURDAY, 02.36 A.M., KIM‘S APARTMENT, KIM’S BATHROOM

A super late night slash early morning shower hadn’t exactly been on Joonmyun’s agenda, but here he is, in his tub, blasting Excuse Me Miss by SHINee on his phone (a safe distance away from all water) at half past two. But then the song pauses, he hears a WhatsApp notification, and he groans before slipping and sliding his way dangerously out the tub and to the phone. He dries his hands on the towel next to it before checking the notifications.

Baekhyun's been sending him messages. Drunk ones, by the looks of it.

bbh ✿✿✿✿❀❀❀❀❀✿✿✿✿ (。♥‿♥。)
bbh i understandfd if u dont want to replyy andad there's no pressure
bhh if u dont want to reply!! im okay with sdddthat!! but i wanted tow say this!!
bbh happy valentine's!!!!!! ♡ ♡ ♡ (*`▽´)_旦
bbh thatw’s an emoji rendition of a glaaaass of soju
bbh tequila tequilaaaaaaa
bbh ohhh mamacitaaaaaaa

Joonmyun bites his lip, trying not to grin. What is it with this guy?
jm you gross sap (`・ω・´)”
jm soju and tequila aren’t valentine’s material at all
jm but i’ll take u up on it later




Then, as an afterthought, he adds,
jm happy valentine’s baekie ❤



14th FEBRUARY, SATURDAY, 07.23 A.M., BYUN APARTMENT, BYUN KITCHEN

BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG.

“Apocalypse,” Baekhyun whispers to himself, left side of his mouth frozen to the cold floor.

BANG BANG BANG SHUDDER.

“BAEKHYUN! GET THE HELL OUT! I KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE!”

Right, not the apocalypse. Just Jongdae, hammering on the door. Why can’t he leave Baekhyun alone? What does someone have to do around here to-- okay, he should quit with the thinking. Thinking hurts.

He opens his eyes to blinding, reflective surfaces of white.

“Baekhyun, I swear to Buddha--” BANG BANG.

This is not his bedroom. Is Baekhyun in the hospital? No, Baekhyun can’t be in the hospital. Hospitals don’t have fridges, do they? Big girls don’t cry, do they? Fergie, are you there? Are you listening?

“Baekhyun,” Jongdae growls, and Baekhyun speaks up.

“Where am I?”

Silence.

Then, “You’re in the kitchen. The kitchen, man, did you get wasted?”

Baekhyun maneuvers himself into a sitting position, looking plaintively around. “I don’t know,” he says, finally. “I feel sad.”

Baekhyun,” Jongdae groans, against the door. “Don’t start right now. Open the door, and I’ll give you a hug, or something. Don’t just sit there. I’m starving.”

“I’m sad,” Baekhyun insists, peevishly. “You just want me to open so you can eat lunch.”

“Breakfast,” Jongdae corrects.

“Whatever! Breakfast! You’re still just using me! You don’t really want to hug!”

There’s a slow squeaking sound, followed by a little thud. Probably Jongdae sliding down the door on the other side and landing on his ass.

Baekhyun sniffs.

Then he catches sight of his phone. Then he checks his phone. Then he sees his messages. Then he sees Joonmyun’s Messages. Then he gets up blankly, stepping over his plate of cucumber pickles covered in peanut butter, opens the door for Jongdae, and washes his face.

Then he reads the messages again. Then he gives a small yelp. Then he takes Panadol for his headache and makes pancakes for a very surprised Jongdae.

“You okay?” Jongdae ventures, through a mouthful of syrupy pancake. “I mean, not that I mind this behavior. I really appreciate this! I was just, you know, wonderi--”

Baekhyun bends down to Jongdae’s ear and whispers, “He said happy Valentine’s.”

“Ah,” Jongdae swallows. “That. That makes sense. Clearly.”


17th FEBRUARY, TUESDAY, 04.36 P.M., A PARTICULARLY RUNDOWN ZOO (BECAUSE BYUN HAS BAD TASTE)

“Really can’t believe you drove me to a zoo,” Joonmyun says, again, and Baekhyun just grins to himself.

“Please. There’s nothing wrong with visiting a zoo. Kids do it all the time!”

“Right, exactly! Children! Do you look like a ten year old? Do I?”

Baekhyun shrugs, “I like to think we’ve-- oh, look, there are the monkeys. Let’s look at the monkeys.” And he loops his arm easily through Joonmyun’s and marches him off. Just in time, too, because a class of fourth graders arrives just as they start moving, and they’re flooded around the waists with eight year olds in no time. Joonmyun looks vaguely uncomfortable, Baekhyun smiles down at them all. Nasty little buggers.

“Like I was saying,” Baekhyun calls over the noise, “I like to think we’ve retained our youthful looks in these trying times.”

“Trying times my dick,” Joonmyun calls back, and although Baekhyun tells him to keep it down because there are children here now, he’s secretly impressed that Joonmyun’d curse in front of them.

Gradually, the kids move on to the lions and the elephants and what-not, and the two grown-ass men in a zoo for kids stand alone in front of the monkey area. Joonmyun looks interested in a little baby monkey despite his earlier protests.

“When I first laid eyes on you,” Baekhyun starts, tone a bit rich with flair and pomp, promising swoon worthy dialogue to come.

“When you first laid eyes on me,” Joonmyun repeats, unimpressed by said flair and pomp that promised bull, “We were both piss drunk. So shut it.”

Baekhyun quiets, chastised. Then, “Are you mad about the zoo?”

“Nah,” Joonmyun shrugs. “The monkeys are cute.”

“The merger talk going on at work?” Baekhyun knows about the situation from Joonmyun’s phone calls.

“Hmm,” Joonmyun toes the glass that separates them from the monkeys. “Ever think about how we might have actually had really interesting, intoxicated copulation that time we got our coats swapped?” He’s evading it, and Baekhyun lets it slide for now.

“I almost didn’t put the ad up,” Baekhyun admits, “I was too busy thinking about all the possibilities… the positions… the perky nipples…”

Joonmyun snorts. “All the perky nipples? What’d you expect, five nipples? Eight?”

“You get too caught up in the grammatical order of sentences,” Baekhyun complains. “Just go with the flow.”

“Sure,” Joonmyun grins, then gets an earnest look on his face. “Honestly though, I’m glad you did put the ad up.”

“Me, too.” Then, “What a romantic conversation we are having here.”

“Totally romantic,” Joonmyun agrees. He points at an overly excited monkey that’s waving at them. “See, even he agrees.”

And Joonmyun looks so cute, just then, all puffed up in his winter coat with the furry collar and his gloved hands and his oversized beanie, nose pink and eyes ridiculously bright-- and he’d actually held Baekhyun’s hand last time, and then he’d called him ‘baekie’ on the 14th which has to mean something, and all this worrying makes him feel like a schoolgirl-- Baekhyun can’t help himself.

He leans over and presses their lips together, just the slightest bit. Joonmyun’s lips are soft and taste of apple chapstick, as usual, his nose cold against Baekhyun’s cheek. Baekhyun holds it for a beat, smiling into it when Joonmyun’s hands come up to pull on his jacket’s lapels and get him closer, before stepping back abruptly.

Baekhyun’s wearing his shit-eating grin when Joonmyun’s eyes fly open, first lost, then irritated. “Come back here!” he orders. “At once!” He makes to step close to Baekhyun, but Baekhyun takes another step back, laughing outright at Joonmyun’s frustration. He lets Joonmyun kiss him again for a few seconds before pulling back a second time. “Not in public,” he whispers, their noses bumping.

Joonmyun sags against him, head falling on Baekhyun’s shoulder. “‘Kay,” he says, hushed.

They stand there, for a bit, just like that. In the middle of a second rate zoo with the monkeys a few feet away and all the school kids yammering in the distance in front of the horses, and nobody else in sight.

Screw it if someone says he has bad taste (he has a feeling Kyungsoo would say that), but Baekhyun thinks this is kind of romantic.


20th FEBRUARY, FRIDAY, 10.14 A.M., KIM OFFICE

The consultant team is, for what it's worth, pretty hot. Chanyeol actually jogs up to one of them with a grin on his face and gives the guy a one-armed hug. "Jihoon!" he whisper-yells, and the head consultant turns back with a disapproving look on his face.

"Hyung," the other guy whisper-yells back, before joining the others and heading to Minseok's office. Chanyeol just waves goofily until Jihoon disappears behind the door.

Subject: pray who is good cousin Jihoon
i'm not usually this nosy, but until minseok gives me shit to do after he's done with the meeting, i'm pretty jobless. so who is this guy.

Chanyeol goes, "Aaaah," out loud, and Joonmyun gets a reply a minute later.
Subject: class mate RE: pray who is good cousin Jihoon
he's an old classmate!!! used to be best friends. auditioned at jyp with raps and no dance. didn't get in tho.....

Forty eight seconds later.
Subject: RE: class mate RE: pray who is good cousin Jihoon
and pls boss u don't need to cover up the flaws in ur personality. u've been this nosy since day one.

Joonmyun takes offense and doesn't send him another email ever again for the rest of the day.

(He does send him a text afterwards, though, saying, Let's hear rapper Chanyeol one day. I'm sure you're good!!!)


22nd FEBRUARY, SUNDAY, 03.56 A.M., A PHONE CALL

"You know," Joonmyun calls Baekhyun at four in the morning. "Kyungsoo said something about work, about the merger thing going on? I feel really bad about that, like, what if I get fired? Where am I going to go? I mean, definitely not back home, that shit was surreal and I don't mean that in a good way. And, honestly," Joonmyun pauses to catch his breath, "I couldn't bring myself to stay over at Kyungsoo and Chanyeol's, because that's plain embarrassing. I'm the eldest, I should be that safe haven bedrock metaphor for everyone-- even you! You're younger than me, aren't you?"

"Yeah," Baekhyun croaks. "Just by a year though--"

"Don't," Joonmyun grouses, running a hand through his hair. "There's no such thing as just a year! I'm an octegenarian compared to you guys, and, really, what if we all get fired together? And this company's buying yours, I found out in one of the meetings, what if you guys downsize and you get fired too? What--"

"Joon," Baekhyun starts, then coughs and apologizes. "Sorry about that. But, really, Joonmyun. Listen to me."

Joonmyun lowers his head, leaning against the phone. "Yeah?" he says, voice small.

"Okay. Let's back up. First, I know you're not gonna believe me or feel better about this, but you have to hear this anyway. Nobody's going to get first."

"You know that's not true!"

"I said you wouldn't believe it. But okay, I'll fix that. Nobody important will get fired, okay? You and your friends, Kyungsoo and Chanyeol, the crimefighting duo, and Sehun, the crimefighting tall guy's soulmate, you're all going to be totally fine. What's there to ask more from you guys? Hardworking, you show results, you’re all prime employees!"

Joonmyun stays silent, wills himself to accept it, but it's difficult.

"Right," Baekhyun says, voice clearing up now that he's more awake. "Point one, down. Point two, in case all this firing happens-- which it won't-- your friends will help, okay? You have to ease off on this age versus responsibilities versus expectations thing. It's fine. We're fine, you're fine. Friends are a mutual relationship, alright? It's great that you'll be there for them-- and, surprise, they'll be there for you too!"

Joonmyun knows he should be listening, truly and properly, to what Baekhyun is saying, and he is. He really is, but the fierce support in Baekhyun's talking is doing him wonders as it is, loosening the tension in his shoulders. He curls up in his blanket, staring at the wall opposite as he listens.

"...And in the case we all get fired, probabilities of which are close to impossible, we can go to my bro's place, where we will be stuffed in one guest room and have to put up with his wild bunny sex inn the room upstairs with a new girl each week. But that's way better than living on the streets, right?"

"Sounds comforting," Joonmyun mumbles. "Our future is bright."

"Shining bright," Baekhyun replies, sounding very serious.

"Shine bright like a diamond," Joonmyun offers, and Baekhyun lets out a whoop.

"Can that be our song?"

"Huh?" Joonmyun's having a hard time concentrating, now. He's so close to just falling asleep.

"Our song! Can it be Diamonds."

"Sure," Joonmyun yawns. "Rihanna. Moonshine and molly."

Baekhyun laughs quietly. "Falling asleep there, Joonybun?"

"Can't believe you called me that, Baekiepie."

"Myunnymuffin."

"Hyunnypoo."

They're both laughing now, and Joonmyun says, "Baekhyun?"

"Yeah?"

Joonmyun loves how he can hear the smile in Baekhyun's voice.

"Thanks."

"Hey," Baekhyun says, gently. "Nothing to thank me about."

There's a slight pause, as they hear each other's breathing, and Joonmyun feels like he should say, I love you, wants to say no, I have to thank you for so much, but he opts for, "Well, let's go to sleep now," and Baekhyun chuckles and bids him goodnight.


28th FEBRUARY, SATURDAY, 09.23 P.M., MOVING TOWARDS A PARKING LOT (UNBEKNOWNST TO BYUN)

“Have you noticed something,” Baekhyun looks out the window. The sky overhead is just the dimmest shades of purple, stars beginning to glimmer like so many twinkling lights.

“Yeah?” Joonmyun says, steering the car to the left.

“We never actually club anymore,” Baekhyun turns to laugh at him. “Like, never.”

“How do you know I don’t club. Did we have some kind of mutual agreement?” Joonmyun challenges, smiling serenely back, and Baekhyun freezes at that.

“Well, I, um, I didn’t think you-- I’m sorry that I--”

But Joonmyun’s laughing mischievously and Baekhyun realizes he was just pulling his leg. “Hey,” he says, “That was kind of mean.”

“I’m sorry,” Joonmyun says, still laughing but trying to stop. “I just wanted to see the look on your face.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Baekhyun grouses. “Why are we… parked in a parking lot?”

Joonmyun just unlocks the doors and slides out of his seat. Baekhyun remains sitting, confused, until Joonmyun reaches his side of the car and opens the door for him.

“Dude,” Baekhyun says, scrambling out, “What’re we doing.”

“We’re going to be sitting on the tin roofs,” Joonmyun blows into his hands, cheerfully, rubbing them together.

“The tin roofs,” Baekhyun repeats. “The eaves? These flimsy things over the cars that keep them dry during rain?”

“The very ones,” Joonmyun says, and starts climbing his car.

“Dude!” Baekhyun yells. “Dude, what the fuck?

“Come on! I used to do this all the time in high school!”

“What,” Baekhyun says, despairing, “Climb parking lot roofs?”

“It’s fun,” Joonmyun calls out, swinging himself onto the roof. He rolls right to the center, and Baekhyun watches apprehensively as the structure wavers a little, before keeping still. “If you move,” Baekhyun shouts, “The whole thing will fall! I’m calling the ambulance!”

“Jesus, Buddha and Yehova,” Joonmyun snorts, voice carrying in the empty space. “Look, I’ll walk the entire length and show you.”

Anxiously, Baekhyun looks on as Joonmyun actually walks the length of the roof, then walk diagonal, then jump in the center. “Joonmyun!”

“Relax!” Joonmyun laughs, breathlessly. “See? It’s all safe! Come up!”

The next few minutes are a mess of Baekhyun arguing that he’s actually a hundred kilos and if he steps on it then they’ll both die, and Joonmyun saying he’s lying, and Baekhyun maintaining that he isn’t, and Joonmyun saying he’s lying, and Baekhyun adamantly saying he isn’t, and Joonmyun finally asking him to climb on another one and Baekhyun asking why, and Joonmyun saying he’ll find out soon enough, and Baekhyun insisting on why and Joonmyun saying fine, Baekhyun won’t ever find out if he doesn’t try, and Baekhyun saying fine, and Joonmyun saying fine back, and Baekhyun finally giving in.

“This,” Baekhyun whispers, “Is terrifying.”

“What did you say?” Joonmyun yells, waving happily from his tin roof. He’s lying on his stomach, snug in his huge windbreaker. Baekhyun wishes he was wearing something thicker, himself.

“I SAID,” Baekhyun shouts, “THIS IS TERRIFYING.”

“DON’T LOOK DOWN,” Joonmyun cups his hands around his mouth. “LOOK AT THE STARS.”

And when Baekhyun does look at the stars, he realizes what they came for. The added height of the roof doesn’t do much to the whole star visibility thing, but it makes him feel fragile and higher up anyway, closer to being alone with the sky. Curiously enough, when he lies back (tentative, still terrified) and breathes it all in, he feels close to Joonmyun too, even though they’re on their separate roofs and two whole yards away.

“That’s the Big Dipper,” Joonmyun says, and his voice echoes a little when it reaches Baekhyun, but he hears it well enough anyway.

“No it’s not,” Baekhyun says. “You’re making it up to impress me.”

“That’s true,” Joonmyun admits, and they laugh themselves silly, delirious on alone-together-separate-stars-above-and-shining. Whatever that is. But Baekhyun loves it. Baekhyun loves…


1st MARCH, SUNDAY, 07.32 A.M., KIM CHAT ROOM

Kim Joonmyun (jm)
Status: if anyone asks me what my lucky item is i will end you


2nd MARCH, MONDAY, 12.13 P.M., BYUN’S APARTMENT

“Baekhyun, you’re the light of my life and I appreciate everything you’ve ever done for me, ever ever ever.”

Baekhyun looks at his housemate over the top of his laptop screen. “What d’you want, Jongdae.”

Jongdae doesn’t even have the decency to look abashed. He just takes another step inside the room, hands twisting a little nervously. “A favor.”

“Clearly, Jongdae, otherwise you wouldn’t be uttering such blasphemies of everlasting love. Lu Han would be throwing up right now.”

“This is actually about Lu Han,” Jongdae swallows.

Baekhyun puts his laptop away, interested. “Have you been having wet dreams about him, then.”

“Could you just,” Jongdae gestures to the door, “Make yourself scarce tomorrow? I want to invite him over.”

“Wow,” Baekhyun lets out an astonished sound. “Smooth. Make myself scarce? How about I pose like a sculpture in your room and tape you two having sex?”

Jongdae pales. “I’m really just going to ask him out after a nice, homemade dinner--”

“I’ll put salt in the sugar jar,” Baekhyun assures him.

“--And if he says yes, I’ll drive him home and kiss his cheek, and if he says no, I will drive him home and pat his shoulder,” Jongdae completes, glaring.

Baekhyun leans back, enjoying this. “Well,” he says. “You have it all planned out, don’t you?”

Baekhyun.”

“Alright, alright, I’ll go, I’ll go. I’ll beg in the streets and ask for shelter, since that’s what my backstabbing best friend has driven me to.”

“Suck my dick,” Jongdae rolls his eyes.

Baekhyun whistles. “It isn’t me you really want, Jongdae. You have to think that request, really think it--”

“Baekhyun!” Jongdae storms out.


Baekhyun relents, picking up his phone.

“Hey, Joonmyun? Yeah, it’s me. Yeah, I’m fine, what about you? That’s good! That’s good… listen, can I come over tomorrow? Ha, nothing serious! Just my housemate, he, a, err… has this project. Wants to be alone. He can be pretty demanding. Umm, maybe a few hours? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, okay. Thanks, man. Yeah. Take care.”

Jongdae peeks in from the doorway. “Well?”

Baekhyun sighs. “All clear.”

“Catch!” Jongdae throws him a Twix bar as thanks.


3rd MARCH, TUESDAY, 06.17 P.M., KIM’S APARTMENT (KIM’S LIVING ROOM)

Joonmyun's on the sofa, reading. Baekhyun’s playing a loud game on his phone, lying spread eagled on the carpet. He keeps sending Joonmyun furtive looks before clearing his throat a few times and speaking up. "I didn't pin you for Greek philosophy."

Joonmyun glances up from his book, "What about me doesn't seem to fit in with Greek philosophy?"

Baekhyun shakes his head, waving his legs in the air. "I don't know. Socrates and Plato and all... they seem to be really into logic. Were they ever in any relationships? Did they know what feelings even were?"

Joonmyun snorts, "There are so many things wrong with that argument, it doesn't even count as an argument."

Baekhyun raises his brows, eyes straying down to Joonmyun's mouth before looking back up again. "Okay, tell you what. You give me a kiss to chastise me for each point I got wrong, and then explain it right to me." He's already worming his way between Joonmyun's legs without waiting for an answer, grin crooked as he looks up at Joonmyun.

"That'll take forever," Joonmyun complains, but his feet are already crossing at the ankles over Baekhyun's back, his knees hooked over Baekhyun's shoulders. Baekhyun tilts his head and bats his lashes. "Please?" And Joonmyun's gone at that, flipping his book over to lean down and cup Baekhyun's face in his hands.


1st APRIL, WEDNESDAY, 11.34 A.M., KIM OFFICE, KIM CUBICLE

Nobody really grows up. Joonmyun’s learned this epiphany over and over, and each time hits harder than the last. This year’s April Fools is one of the times. Kyungsoo sits on a cleverly hidden fart balloon, Chanyeol takes a drink of water only to find out that it’s vodka, and Joonmyun gets a mountain of post-its in two distinct handwritings, all proclaiming, korea’s next top lucky item with various drawings underneath the proclamation (a tampon, a monkey, a lone sock, and so forth).

“Guys,” Joonmyun announces, “I am no longer going to be taking monthly lucky items.”

“You’ll be taking the weekly ones, then?” Kyungsoo hides a smile behind his hand.

“No,” Joonmyun explains, patiently, “I’ll be taking none at all.”

“Any moment now,” Chanyeol guesses, “He’ll be saying ‘April Fools’.”

Joonmyun gives up.


10th APRIL, FRIDAY, 12.01 P.M., KIM OFFICE, LUNCHROOM

"Bossman," Chanyeol says, once, during lunch.

It's Kyungsoo's turn to get their trays for them, and the queue is getting long.

"Hmmm," Joonmyun leans back in his chair to stretch.

"How do you and Baekhyun even date, really? You guys are so... lowkey. I bet nobody at work except us knows."

"That's because I'm friends with nobody else at work except you guys," Joonmyun explains, drily.

"Ah," Chanyeol says, then asks again. "So how do you guys date? You tell us all the time and I still don't get it."

Joonmyun sits back up, a little surprised by Chanyeol's insistence. "Well, okay, I guess... it's steady? There's no label, but that's mainly because I don't want one. Yet. I think. And I mean, there's the whole, you know, been together for six months thing. It's steady. We don't really rush? To see each other all the time?”

Chanyeol nods.

"Don't think we really did, at the beginning, either. It's just always been comfortable. And I mean, except for when I screwed up at the end of last year, our communication's been pretty good! And sometimes..." Joonmyun colors and stops talking, shaking his head when Chanyeol presses. Sometimes we send each other dick pics and it's pretty cool, remains unsaid. "It's just nice," he provides, instead.

"Huh," Chanyeol says. He probably feels there more room for a satisfactory answer.

So Joonmyun adds, “And his April Fool’s prank was decidedly gentle. I got a Baskin Robbin’s tub that was full of salty frozen yogurt instead of vanilla ice cream.”

Kyungsoo comes back just then. "Hola senors," he says, tonelessly. "All the pizza finished. I got us corned beef sandwiches instead."


18th APRIL, SATURDAY, 06.12 P.M., THE SIDEKICKS’ APARTMENT, BEDROOM

Sehun’s week late birthday party is coming up (he hadn’t told anyone until Chanyeol had asked him, on Thursday), and Chanyeol’s coerced Joonmyun into coming and helping him shop slash wrap slash oversee the proceedings.

Kyungsoo’s better at all that than Joonmyun is, but Kyungsoo has better things to do: namely, rewatch Revolutionary Girl Utena, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Hunter x Hunter and-- most important of them all-- Prince of Tennis. It’s a kind of legendary joke that Kyungsoo stayed stony faced through a non-anaesthetic surgery on his busted forehead (ten stitches) at age seven, but gives in to furiously controlled tears due to anime at twenty three.

Anyway, back to Chanyeol fussing over Sehun. “I’m thinking of putting together a mixtape for him, too,” he’s saying. “You know, when he made that mistake at the presentation, he told me later that the d’Allons guy didn’t actually exist. He made him up!”

Joonmyun’s eyebrows go into his hairline. He thought the guy at least existed, but apparently Sehun just worked really well under pressure.

“He’s a genius, basically. And I have this whole playlist of songs that make me think of him? I might put in a few of those in the tape.”

“Sounds great,” Joonmyun raises his legs in the air, squinting and trying to reach the ceiling.

“Stop it,” Kyungsoo frowns from behind his laptop. “It’s distracting.”

Joonmyun lifts his ass on his arms and tries harder. “Chanyeol,” Joonmyun says, voice straining under his effort. “Do you have any songs that make you think of me?”

Chanyeol blanches, mouth agape. Joonmyun collapses back on the bed. “You know,” he groans, rolling over to rub his own back. “Because we’re good friends, right?” He turns his neck to look at Chanyeol anxiously when there’s silence for a while.

Chanyeol’s grinning, cheeks pink. “Aww, boss,” he says, “Come ‘ere, give me a hug.”

Kyungsoo pinches the bridge of his nose.


19th APRIL, SUNDAY, 10.15 A.M., LOTTE WORLD (BECAUSE BYUN’S TASTE IS LIKE WINE, IT GETS BETTER WITH TIME)

They do survive the great Employee Harvest, as Baekhyun tells Joonmyun his desk mate, Eunji, calls it. Kyungsoo prefers The Reaping, and will add 'Soul Reaping' to explain it, if he's asked. Chanyeol's named it Quality Control. "I'm research and development," he'd burped, after lunch. "The status quo and quality are how I breathe. Nothing too harsh about it to me now." Which doesn't explain it fully, but they let it pass. Sehun's just grateful Minseok didn't fire him the second that dumbass painting showed up on screen.


“Told you so,” Baekhyun tells him, when they arrive at the theme park, and Joonmyun just quietly loops an arm through his.

“You did. Ice cream?”

“First thing,” Baekhyun asks, disbelieving, but quickly gives in. “I mean, yeah, sure, of course.”
Whipped, he thinks to himself, a tad miserably.

After ice cream-- Baekhyun’s strawberry, Joonmyun opting for coffee-- they decide to go to the ferris wheel. The line’s not to long, and Kyungsoo updates Joonmyun on Chanyeol’s Sehun adventure. “Baekhyun,” Joonmyun grins, tugging his sleeve. “Sehun’s apparently in love with Chanyeol’s mixtape and thinks he wraps divinely. I’ll have you know that I wrapped that shit.”

“Well, good on you,” Baekhyun elbows him, about to say something cheesy, but a kid comes up with cotton candy and steals his moment.

“Cotton candy, sirs?” he asks, bored, and Joonmyun buys three on the spot.

“We can share the last one on the ride,” he explains, handing over two to him. Baekhyun’s got the pink one.

“You gave me the pink one,” Baekhyun says. Joonmyun’s eyes just twinkle over his own white cloud. Baekhyun’s about to elaborate on how pink his is and how not-pink Joonmyun’s is, but he is again interrupted, this time by the ferris guy. “Please stick out your hand,” the guy tells them, bored, “And we’ll check your rides band.”


Finally in the ferris wheel, Baekhyun turns to face Joonmyun again. “I don’t like pink,” he says. “Why’d you have to give me pink.”

“Well,” Joonmyun says, taking a big bite of his white cloud and keeping his mouth open. “Cah ah geh ih,” he says, and Baekhyun pales.

“That’s not attractive, Joonmyun,” he whispers, and Joonmyun nearly chokes with laughter.

Cah ah geh ih,” he insists.

“Are you literally saying, ‘come and get it’? For real? Joonmyun?”

When they reach the top, though, Baekhyun gives in and actually leans in to kiss him. It’s cotton-y, but also very sweet. “What you think,” Joonmyun says, contentedly looking out.

“I think I’d rather do it again, minus the candy,” Baekhyun decides, which is exactly what happens afterwards.


"YOU KNOW, IN FRANCE," Baekhyun offers, later, in the rollercoaster, "THEY SAY WILD PARTIES FIND EVERYBODY IN THE NEXT COUNTRY."

If Joonmyun wasn't upside down with his stomach in his mouth and his arms hanging down, he'd be raising his eyebrows. Life flashes before him in an upsettingly speedy blur of bluebrownblue.

"REALLY," he screams, tears trickling down his hair. Then they flip back right side up and climb up another peak.

"No shit. Urban legends, Mister, ah, Kim." His tone is strangely flirtatious.

"Why are you flirting when we’re both this close to vomiting?" Joonmyun says, plainly, before they're yanked down and yelling again. Joonmyun isn't sure how to breathe anymore. This isn’t the kind of romantic breathlessness he'd pictured himself having.

"MOTHER. MOTHER OF JESUS. MOTHER OF CHRIST. BUDDHA," someone's shrieking from behind, and Joonmyun screams, "I NEED RELIGION," in agreement. Baekhyun's just laughing hysterically, bony elbow poking him in the cheek as he flails. It's painful. Everything is painful.


As the their car slows down at the end of the ride, Baekhyun's hand creeps up onto his lap. Joonmyun jabs him in the ribs.


"Come on," Baekhyun mumbles, tired. His chin's hooked over Joonmyun's shoulder as he follows him around. They've been walking in circles as Joonmyun wiggles and Baekhyun obstinately hangs on.

"Please," Baekhyun takes a hold of his wrists. "Boyfriends?"

Joonmyun's shoulders sag, and he grins so wide his cheek brushes Baekhyun's. "I guess."

“Hey,” Baekhyun nudges him with his chin, “No kiss?”

“Seriously?” Joonmyun laughs, and turns around to face him.


23rd APRIL, THURSDAY, 06.35 p.m., THE BYUN CHAT ROOM (SPORTING THE SHINY NEW ADDITION, KIM JOONMYUN)
bbh club y/y

jm you've got to be SHITTING me
kjd oi is this the new bf
dok aye so it is
jm wait
jm kyungsoo????????????????
kAi what up everybody
kAi taemin here
dok aye so it is
kAi my word of the day is
lh ok...........
lh wat now yo
kAi TURNT
jm WAIT!!!!!!!!!!
jm ????????????
 

1. In case anybody was wondering, this is octagon.
2. People I owe my soul to: H and M for cheering me on and believing in me! F and S for the movie points ;u; C, E, L for the gold gold gold office pointers. Ph for emotional support!
3. I actually had Gwanghamun planned ages before Kyu’s album (I DID ACTUAL RESTAURANT RESEARCH for Seoul, ok). [Insert Jongdae’s selca with the album]
4. Cloak and Dagger is in fact a real drarry fanfic series!! And that drama Joonmyun was watching is also real!! But idk anything about it except the title sorry
5. TY TY TY TY so so so much Hyemi, beautiful recipient who is a beautiful human who has graced me to become my beautiful friend, I had the biggest blast writing this. I mean it was stressful and tiring at times (and which exchange fic submission isn’t!!) but overall I just had so much fun and I’m really thankful to you for that. I haven’t had actual FUN while writing something before EVER. You’re great. I hope you liked it... ;~;
 
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