Author Topic: chacun voit midi à sa porte [⚜] writing storage  (Read 3412 times)

Offline arielle

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chacun voit midi à sa porte [⚜] writing storage
« on: January 17, 2018, 04:53:15 PM »
chacun voit midi à sa porte — everyone sees noon at his doorstep. ❞

A place for me to store my writings and such. I will also be posting an entire work of mine here, in this thread — it was just a little something I wrote over the course of the first semester, which my partner-in-crime/roommate so kindly beta'd for me over winter break. Speaking of her, she also deserves some credit for it though — she entertains a lot of my ideas, and helps me to expand on them, and pulls me back when my ideas are getting too wild or out of hand. (She's also a wonderful writer herself. It's really a shame she's gotten too busy to write much these days.) But anyway:

[⚜] — Thing one.
[⚜] — Thing two.
[⚜] — Thing three.

Surprise fic: Untitled (I'm still thinking about it)
This fic is — as I already mentioned — something I wrote last semester. The whole thing is...just a little over 45,000 words. I'll post one chapter a week...probably. It'll depend on if my dongsaengs (you know who you are) do their homework like they're supposed to. I refuse to let you guys procrastinate like you did last semester, even if your classes are 'easier'. None of you are failing on my watch. You're all getting A's, and I'm going to make sure of it. Now, a very quick summary of the fic:
We are the Department of Litigation and Dispute Resolution — fancy name for what is actually no more than a department of buffoons, who like to rip people apart in a law court for a living. We have two secretaries, three partners and make one-sixth of the firm's total yearly income. Our lawyers can take any case, from private client disputes to big corporation settlements, with a top notch delivery rate and a spotless reputation. My name is Byun Baekhyun. I am an associate in this division of gross misfits, and I am about to screw up my department's most significant case of the decade because of one insensitive idiot.

I'm a law student. So naturally, I wrote a legal drama (with some romance, some angst, some nice friendships...and it's a slow burn, because I happen to love those). There is also involved. I made sure to have my roommate look over those bits. She's the medical student who majored in biochem, not me.

[] — Chapter One: League of Unis [posted on Wednesday, January 17th, 2018]
[⚜] — Chapter Two [will be posted Wednesday, January 24th, 2018]
[⚜] — Chapter Three [will be posted Wednesday, January 31st, 2018]

Surprise fic: Interning (Creative, I know)
Apparently people are requesting to see this, so...I'll post updates and what I have of it so far here, too. This one features EXO (of course), with TVXQ's Changmin and Yunho as their managers, and there's mentions of SHINee and Super Junior, because I love SM Entertainment's artists (just not the company itself). This fic also features many conversations that took place amongst myself and those in my social circles, so... it was incredibly fun to write. It's not finished... but I'm writing when I can. I think it'll turn out to be fairly long when I'm done. We'll see what happens. A very, very, quick summary of the fic:
Twelve boys. Two job openings. One internship.

That's all there is to know — I hate spoiling too much. For background information on the characters, you can go to this post. Maybe I'll transfer all of it over here sometime within the next few days, when I'm feeling a little less sluggish and lazy.

[] — Prologue (of sorts): Work Mail [posted Wednesday, January 17th, 2018]
[] — Chapter One: League of Unis [posted Wednesday, January 17th, 2018]
[] — Chapter Two: The Fault in Our Coffees [posted Wednesday, January 17th, 2018]
[] — Chapter Three: Age of Vandals [posted Thursday, January 18th, 2018]
[] — Chapter Four: Fifty First Texts [posted Thursday, January 18th, 2018]
[] — Chapter Five: Paddle, Paddle, Paddle that Dragon Boat [posted Thursday, January 18th, 2018]
[] — Chapter Six: Modern Alliance [posted Thursday, January 18th, 2018]
[] — Chapter Seven: Love, Actually [posted Thursday, January 18th, 2018]
[] — Chapter Eight: Shakespeare in Love [posted Thursday, January 25th, 2018]
« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 05:34:29 PM by arielle »

Time to ask: did you get a grip on the truth? We are here to bring change to our world. Take a side, make it right—or get out of our way right now; you cannot stop us!

How many times did you look away when someone cried for help?—acting like you didn't know. We won't accept excuses without sincere actions; unmasking all you traitors!

Offline arielle

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Re: chacun voit midi à sa porte [⚜] writing storage
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2018, 07:38:17 PM »
Chapter One of Untitled

They are the Department of Litigation and Dispute Resolution – fancy name for what is actually no more than a department of buffoons, who like to rip people apart in a law court for a living. They have two secretaries, three partners and make one-sixth of the firm's total yearly income. Their lawyers can take any case, from private client disputes to big corporation settlements, with a top notch delivery rate and an enviable track-record of successful cases.

His name is Byun Baekhyun and he is a senior associate in this division, jam-packed by gross misfits.

"Get the car! I mean, the cab! The next cab...!"

"I would like to but those fuckers aren't stopping-"

"Start running as you wave!" the voice on the phone starts screaming– Minseok's never been good at keeping calm when things get urgent: "We need those documents in court a.s.a.p.! Jongin's struggling!"

"You think I'm not trying?" Baekhyun obeys and grudgingly breaks into a sprint: "Jesus Christ...!"

Senior Associate sounds kind of elegant when one says it like that, but the actual job isn't all that glamorous when you work in litigation. It is an ordinary day at work when you have to run to court at six in the morning for a missing document or a piece of evidence. It is also an ordinary day at work when you loiter around the office with nothing to do and end up emptying the department's coffee supply out of sheer ennui... Every day in the division is a simple succession of ups and downs that quakes you like level nine seismic waves. Whether you are a trainee or not doesn't make a difference: You could be a senior partner in the company for the last ten years and you would still break into a sweat because of a phone call, asking you to be at the office at three in the morning. 'When your client needs you, nothing else in the world fucking matters'. That's the firm's one positive and universal truth.

"I've got it!" he shouts and tumbles into the tribunal's entrance hall, waving the documents above his head.

Minseok notices him from his spot by the stone gargoyle and charges at him with an ecstatic cry of joy.

"Baek, finally...!"

"Sorry," he pants, "Jongdae was the one who had the file and I had to run all the way to the freaking bridge before any cab would stop to take -"

Minseok runs him down in his haste to flip through the documents and skips all clarifications. As he eventually finds the right letter, another frantic cry escapes him out of relief, his knees almost giving in to the weight of emotion. Sometimes Baekhyun wonders how on Earth Minseok even survives with this amount of daily stress.

"It's the right one," the elder man slaps him on the shoulder and then heads straight for the nearest courtroom. "Good, we need to give it to Jongin straightaway..."

"How's he faring?" Baekhyun asks in-between two breaths.

"Faring well, until the guys on the other side started to question him nonstop about the evidence. We need a letter showing that the client's subsidiary has been involved in the financing of the project from the get-go. And this," Minseok grins at him, "is going to destroy them."

They enter the courtroom and fly hunchbacked towards the seats at the back, before Minseok deviates to get to the plaintiff's box where Jongin is. While he is busy, Baekhyun sits down on the benches at the far end first, to recover from his earlier chicken run. His lungs are still on fire and it's only been a few hundred meters... He is gradually getting too old for these extreme sports.

Minseok soon sits next to Baekhyun as the defendants' barrister talks on and on.

"Thanks for the help," the elder man then grins, at last, gently hitting him on the thigh.

"That's alright," Baekhyun smiles back. "‘When the client needs you-"

"-nothing else in the world fucking matters."

The younger associate glances up at him.


Minseok just beams with his plump round cheeks and keeps his hand on the man's leg, using his other hand to point at the opposite side of the room.

"Look who's over there, on the defendants' side."

Baekhyun looks, lingering on the familiar faces, neat suits, and serious expressions...That is their competitor firm, Smith&Harolds' Dispute Resolution team, with, in the central row, Associate Park Chanyeol whispering quietly to a colleague of his about God knows what. Baekhyun turns around and Minseok grins evocatively at him like an imp.

"Your archenemy," he says.

"For the umpteenth time-"

He giggles and Baekhyun doesn't finish, because the conversation is pointless anyway and it's not like Minseok even cares; he has already turned his attention back to the case itself.

Baekhyun sits there, with his shirt's top buttons undone, his skin still dank, his gaze trailing from the opposite side's client representative to the tall figure of Park Chanyeol in his dark grey suit, sticking out from the lot of scrawny solicitors like a sore thumb. He is always so tall, always so lean and sinewy, and so damn conspicuous wherever he goes. As Baekhyun's stare lingers, Chanyeol looks up and meets his eyes. They don't say anything. There is nothing to say.

Baekhyun is the first one to glance away.

"Baek," Minseok nudges him with his elbow, "Baek, Baek, Baek."

"Yes, I am listening."

A silence.

He frowns.


Minseok bites his lips, eyes completely focused on the barristers further away.

"I think we're winning the case," he says.

"We won?"

"We won."

"Not officially," Jongin interjects as the three of them make their way into the brightly lit department of Litigation and Dispute Resolution, like a battalion coming from war. Jongdae has a cup of tea in his hand, holding the huge glass door open for them and looking strangely disappointed by Jongin's answer:

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"The trial judge hasn't taken a decision as such," Baekhyun explains, "but the outcome's pretty much clear. Jongin kicked their ass."

"We can't be certain until they deliver an official decision though-"

"Coffee?" Luhan, the secretary, bursts in from the corner with a giant grin, holding two stripy mugs in each hand.

Baekhyun readily shakes his head. Jongin waves weakly at Luhan and follows him with his eyes as he disappears behind the coffee machine.

"That's good enough," Jongdae soon continues, as if nothing happened. He takes a sip of tea and they proceed towards the main working space of the department together. "What did the client say?"

"Nothing. They weren't there, we only saw their in-house lawyers."

"And they didn't say anything?"

"As long as they didn't have things to complain about, it's fine. You did well, Jonginnie."

The younger man scratches his head like an embarrassed high school kid. "I could still do better," he bites his lip.

Of course he couldn't, Baekhyun thinks. He is already a fire-cracking lawyer as it is. But that's just how Jongin lives his life – as a perfectionist through and through. He works as a barrister on his own account most of the time, but regularly collaborates with their firm's litigation practice on more complex cases that they cannot solve by themselves. Sculpted like a God, tanned like a bloc of melted caramel, he is cold on the outside but secretly warm like a fuzzy ball of fur, and it is horribly hard for anyone in the department not to dote on him whenever he comes around.

A man like that could fetch himself a whole armada of cases to solve anywhere he wanted to. But for some reason, Jongin always drifts back to their little department here, in Lighthouse Pinson. After all, they treat him as family here. But that's not the only cause.

There is another distinct reason why Jongin comes back so often to their department. A Chinese reason with oversized sweaters and salmon pink hair.

"Are you guys sure you don't want coffee?" Luhan returns from the machine with his thousand watts smile and four filled mugs, lining them up into a nice neat row on his working desk before taking his seat again, "I don't understand. Coffee puts me in such a good mood."

"That's why you're hyper most of the time," Jongdae remarks.

"It just makes me happy!" The Chinese takes a sip of his first cup and glances up at each of them in turn, pausing at Jongin who looks the most compliant. "Right?" he smiles, waiting for some sign of support.

Jongin nods so hard his neck could snap. Satisfied with the response, Luhan starts humming and restarts his computer, scratching his nose with his empty hand. On top of his eye-catching hair colour and dubious choice of clothes, Luhan knows nothing about business etiquette. The office is like a dormitory for him, one where you have fun with your colleagues, chat when you have a coffee break, and have sleepovers when you need to do overtime. With innocent gullibility, radiating joy and an apparent, complete inability to feel pessimistic emotions, he has gotten everyone in the firm wrapped around his little finger without knowing it, and they all gladly overlook the mistakes he makes in the work he hands back, correcting them for him with cooing sounds and forgiving all his typos.

He is a klutz and hopelessly incapable of grasping the mood most of the time, which makes him immune to any sort of sexual advance. But for some masochistic reason, Jongin has developed a sort of self-destructive infatuation for the oblivious boy...And that drives him up the wall most of the time.

"Talking about coffee," the barrister starts strenuously and approaches Luhan's desk with what he mistakenly thinks to be a casual pose. "I heard there's a new shop in town which is really good and uh, they import their grains straight from Jamaica."

Luhan looks up with bright interested eyes.


"Uhuh." Jongin swallows. "So, I know, why not try it this Saturday? With me...I mean, if you're free..."

"Of course! That's an excellent idea!" Luhan cries out, making Jongin choke. "Let's have an office outing at the coffee shop."

Baekhyun laughs into his palm and Jongin falters.


"Saturday! Who's in?" Luhan calls.

"Wait," Jongin flails, "Wait, I..."

"I'm in." Sehun, their other secretary, raises his hand and Jongdae can't help but cackle at Jongin's discomfited face. Minseok's busy swatting a fly that got into the office. Luhan smiles at the only man left.


"No thanks," he looks at Jongin who gives him a thankful expression. "Got plans already."

"But I am definitely coming," Sehun adds flatly like a cracking whip, and Luhan jots his name down on a post-it: "Sehun, Jongin, me..."

"I could do with a day out as well," Minseok innocently admits and sighs, half with longing and half with fatigue, "a day out that doesn't involve going to court."

"Oh, that's right! How did it go?" Luhan abruptly exclaims.

They are gradually making so much noise that partner Suho ends up coming out of his office, with a stack of binders in his hands, looking thoroughly confused at all of them.

"What's going on?" Suho blinks. "What's the gathering for?"

‘Suho' is only labeled Suho because he has the face of a Mother Theresa. He is one of the Litigation and Dispute Resolution department's three partners and the youngest partner of the entire firm. His real name is Kim Joonmyun. But no one calls him that.

"Nothing, Mum," Baekhyun smiles at him. "We were just having a brief little chat before going back to work."

Suho frowns with worry.

"How did the case go?"

"Ninety-nine percent chance of winning," Minseok chimes. "Verdict on the way."

"That's a relief. Congratulations!"

"Baekhyun came to help today and we had a special apparition from associate Park Chanyeol. Talk about a coincidence..."

Suho blinks and turns to look at Baekhyun:

"Did you two talk?"

It is a recurring topic of the department, this whole Park Chanyeol thing...and Baekhyun vaguely wishes that it wasn't. He also wonders when it had started to become an actual issue, because to be honest, he doesn't remember ever jumping onto this wagon, at any point in time.

Chanyeol himself would probably laugh if he knew the way his colleagues talked about him.

Baekhyun soon shakes his head and offers Suho his most innocent smile. It's not much compared to Minseok or Luhan's natural expressions, but it usually does the work.

"No, I only went to watch," he explains. "I sat on the benches."

"Oh. I see."

Suho pauses, then tilts his head.



But the elder man stops and just looks at him for a second. Baekhyun stares back, perplexed. All of a sudden, the elder man's hand comes closing around his shoulder and gently pulls him to one side of the room, and Baekhyun quickly glances back for help but the others are now finishing the planning of their Saturday outing. When he gazes back at his superior for explanations, Suho simply puts the folders he holds into the younger man's hands and opens up the first one.

Baekhyun stares at them with the start of a frown.

"What is this?"

" the file I've just been entrusted with by the other partners," Suho explains with a smile and rubs his temple. "I don't know if you remember that case four years ago, with the massive Chinese shipping company that lost seven ships in one go?"

"The one that got sued for billions under gross negligence," Baekhyun puckers his lips and rubs his neck. "The ships crashed and sank, and five hundred people died in total... Plus, the plaintiff's cargos were all lost."

"Yes, that one."

"I thought the case was suspended."

"Not anymore."

He blinks with a frown.

"Another cargo ship from that same company sank just a few days ago, near the Chinese coast, Shanghai," Suho elaborates. "Basically, now the case is turning into a mass tort action with three massive, transnational companies all preparing to sue the same shipping company for compensation... And they're not asking for a settlement," Suho insists, "they're suing. This thing will go to trial. The defendant we're talking about is a gigantic Chinese shipping company, but the amount of money involved is phenomenal. And that Chinese company is our client now."

"How much is the whole thing for?"

"The case is up for 7.2 billion RMB." Suho glances at him. "It's the biggest case of the decade for our firm."

Baekhyun gulps. Something's wrong with the tone that Suho is using to say this and he is not sure that he is liking it.

"So, uh, why are you telling me all this?"

Suho taps the binders and smiles a little.

"I want to put you in charge of handling the bulk of this case."


"I'm sure you'll be doing the best job possible," the elder man nods. "Besides, trial cases are something you're experienced with and I have complete faith in you..."

He is genuinely flabbergasted.

"But... I... associate..." he waffles.

"You're possibly our best trial lawyer. I am sure you will be in a good position to take care of this." Suho assures. "I will help you with directions, of course, but my hands are already taken by another important corporate deal, so I'd like you to use your own judgment as well... You're free to ask the others for help. I leave you the discretion of organising your own team. Plus, the law firm defending one of the plaintiffs is Smith&Harolds." he smiles. "I thought they'd be suitable opponents for you – something to look forward to, you know..."

Of course Baekhyun doesn't know. Suho is completely wrong; he is not looking forward to any of this at all.

His state of mind wavers between flattery and dawning horror.

"But what about the other partners? Yunho?"

"Oh, he is very busy at the moment, I think he has three arbitration cases going on at the same time, and also a private client dispute. He is going to be taken for the next few months at the very least. But don't worry. You will be just as good as a partner!"

Suho shakes him by the shoulder like the father of a schoolboy who's just gotten straight A's on his exams. He grins:

"How many cases do you have open, at the moment?"

Baekhyun grimaces.


"Well, then." Suho claps the binders close. "Another one won't be too much for you. Congratulations, the HaiLong shipping company case is now officially yours."

"That sucks."

On the park bench next to him, Kris opens his can of iced coffee and takes a long draft before looking back at him.

"What sucks?" Baekhyun asks with a cocked eyebrow. "The fact that I have a 7.2billion case on my hands to take care of, or the fact that my firm's going to go against yours when the trial comes up?"

Kris takes another gulp and leans forward so that his arms rest on his legs.

"Both," he smiles coolly with a wriggle of his Canadian eyebrows.

The younger man snorts and gives him an unconvincing kick, too tired to do anything else. He hasn't seen him in more than a month, and doesn't have the heart to be very mean.

"At least you're not directly involved in the case. It would suck to go against you in court when you used to work in Lighthouse Pinson before."

"I've had to work against Lighthouse Pinson quite a few times already since I left."

"Yeah, well." Baekhyun looks down at his lap. "You know what I mean."

Kris smiles and fiddles with the opening of his can. "I know," he says. "And you're right. I've been working in Smith&Harolds for three years already, but it would still feel a bit weird to be arguing against you, or any of the other guys, in a tribunal."

Baekhyun opens his own can with a scowl. He lowers his arms.

"Why did you leave the firm, Kris?" he takes a peek at his friend's profile, tall and bent like a weary tree, and moistens his lips. "You didn't have to. It's not like you were even close to getting fired."

"There were things, here and there. It was getting a little too much to handle."

"Is it because of...Yixing?"

Kris just smiles bitterly. He isn't going to give any answers, but he isn't about to let go, either. Baekhyun rubs his neck.

"Alright let's talk about something else," he grunts eventually. "Since you used to be in Lighthouse Pinson before, spy on the Smith&Harolds team for me and tell me everything they're up to in the HaiLong shipping case."

Kris finally laughs and shakes a finger at the younger's nose: "Doesn't work that way, I'm afraid."

"Why not? I like you, you like me. We're friends. Friends help each other out."

"Yeah, friends who meet for a coffee in the park once a month."

"That's better than nothing. Besides, it's your fault for cutting your ties with everyone in our team...Minseok always asks how you are and all."

"You didn't contact me for almost two months."

"Suho hurled that huge case at me without a warning. I had to prepare." Baekhyun puts on his cute expression. "Come on, how can you say no to a cute piece of sugar like me? You have to be heartless."

"Maybe next time."

"What a cold bastard," he weeps overemotionally.

But Kris only chuckles into his drink before facing forward again, gazing into the distance. Baekhyun muses for a while then turns back towards his friend with a serious expression:

"Park Chanyeol isn't part of the Smith&Harolds team for this one, is he?"

"Park Chanyeol?" Kris blinks. "No. Why?"

"Long story." he then rectifies, "I mean, no story. It's just the other guys who are going to make a fuss if we're up against each other in court again."

"Why? That's funny." Kris smiles vaguely. "I didn't remember you and Park Chanyeol being a thing – I didn't remember you knowing each other personally to start with."

"We don't know each other personally. And it's not important. Anyways, if he isn't in the team for the HaiLong case, it's all fine."

"He isn't," the elder man confirms, but then halts and looks pensive.

Baekhyun sits back. He looks uncertain.

"Something wrong?"

"Well, not really; it's just," Kris looks back at him with a shrug, "Park Chanyeol doesn't work in the division at Smith&Harolds at all anymore. He was fired last month."

Well, that's it for this week — for this fic, anyway. To those of you I addressed in the first post: I'll be checking up on you, so do your work! If you need help, I'm open to tutoring you — for free, even. ;^)
« Last Edit: January 17, 2018, 07:41:31 PM by Arielle »

Time to ask: did you get a grip on the truth? We are here to bring change to our world. Take a side, make it right—or get out of our way right now; you cannot stop us!

How many times did you look away when someone cried for help?—acting like you didn't know. We won't accept excuses without sincere actions; unmasking all you traitors!

Offline arielle

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Re: chacun voit midi à sa porte [⚜] writing storage
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2018, 08:09:40 PM »

"Dear all,

A warm welcome to Tyler & Tuning McKay Consulting, and congratulations for getting yourself a place on this highly competitive internship. We are delighted to welcome all 156 of you on board as our Summer Analysts this year. You are all talented, smart and accomplished young people. We hope to recruit 10 of you as our full-time analysts starting October.

You will rapidly notice that things are a little more quirky, a little more fun here than in your average consultancy firm. We pride ourselves on our creativity, our diversity, and our ability to think out of the box. Perhaps, you will find that the tasks we give you are a lot more challenging as well. To succeed, you will have to do more than what is expected of you. You have show us that you can embrace the firm's spirit and be a real team player.

For the next two months, you will be divided into supervised teams. Your teammates will be the ones you will be working with whenever you are not assisting one of our senior consultants in your respective departments. Each group project given to your team will be bringing you points to be recorded on the notice board of the 7th floor. At the end of the summer, only the 5 highest scoring teams shall be considered for our 10 full-time positions, and 2 people per team will be recruited.

Make the most of your time here at TTM. Be innovative, be daring. And most importantly, show true teamwork and team spirit.

Enjoy the opportunity. Best of luck,"

- The Graduate Recruitment Team

Time to ask: did you get a grip on the truth? We are here to bring change to our world. Take a side, make it right—or get out of our way right now; you cannot stop us!

How many times did you look away when someone cried for help?—acting like you didn't know. We won't accept excuses without sincere actions; unmasking all you traitors!

Offline arielle

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Re: chacun voit midi à sa porte [⚜] writing storage
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2018, 08:19:56 PM »
Chapter One of Interning: League of Unis ❞

As a steadfast consumer of Starbucks coffee, Kyungsoo witnessed the deformation of his name on a daily basis.

He had been re-baptised as "Kongsuit". "Kong sew". "Q-sue". Or even "Cute Sue"...Switching to his last name had then transported him through an abysmal phase of "Doe", "Dough", "Though"; with one attempt at spelling it out for the Starbucks employee landing him an angry "DEE OH" scrawled onto his plastic cup. On such days, Kyungsoo usually spied on the poor guy next to him with a "Bingo" or "Wank" on his frappuccino. It would make him feel a bit better about his self-esteem...

This morning Starbucks had settled for a big, round "DOPE" on his caramel macchiato, which he placed down on his office desk, in the centre of the shared space of the Business Tech department.

"Third day at work," Yunho, his supervisor, smiled at him as he handed him the mail of the day, "Today's the first time you'll meet your team members."

"Could be," Kyungsoo droned quietly, reaching for the letter opener before raising his head, "Actually, yes, you're right; schedule did say "Meeting" at lunchtime...sorry."

"Excited? I am. I am so happy for you," Yunho beamed sweetly like Kyungsoo had just had his first baby. "You guys are going to have so many awesome projects together, it will be great."

"I am thrilled," Kyungsoo assured with stability.

"You don't look very thrilled."

"That is my natural face. Internally, I am thrilled."

"Try smiling, then?"

Kyungsoo made a valiant attempt, but Yunho's eyes flashed with a brief light of worry before letting out an uncertain laugh:

"Erm, we'll pretend that didn't happen. Can you review this company's performance report for me once you're done with mail? You can finish it after your team meeting if it takes too long."

"I'll definitely finish it before," Kyungsoo guaranteed calmly, "thanks."

"All thanks to you," Yunho winked, "you're the one doing the dirty work."

As he talked, the sound of someone tripping on the wheel of an office chair reached his ears and he saw a tall intern with gigantic glasses, elfish ears and an empty Redbull can crash down in the cubicle across of him. The intern sheepishly apologized to his neighbour before heading for the rubbish bin, and Kyungsoo looked back at Yunho.

"Try to make the most of your meeting," the consultant smiled gently, "that's my advice as your supervisor and as your team coach."

"You're my team coach?"

"And Shim Changmin, from the Risk dep; but anyways, that is not the point. The point is, as your supervisors, we want you guys to make the most of your time here as an intern; and who is going to be the ones to make that happen...?" he grinned with expectant eyes.

Kyungsoo blankly stared at him.

"Your team! Ha ha," the elder man cleared his throat embarrassedly, "You are going to have an amazing time doing those team projects, I promise you. It's the best part of the job."

"I believe you." Kyungsoo tried to sound like he meant it.

"The most fun you could have here at TTM, will be there with your team."

"Right," the intern said.

"I know it doesn't sound like much right now," Yunho nodded, softening. "But trust me. You guys are going to have a blast."

The truth, though, was that the whole teamworking deal made Kyungsoo want to walk back out onto the parking lot, slip into his car and drive home before anybody could try to stop him.

Kyungsoo was what his classmates had diligently called an eagle of excellence. But lo and behold, eagles were not - apparently - very well known for their merits as a social animal. Hence, Kyungsoo's socializing abilities "lacked substance" ; words taken verbatim from his primary school grade report. He did find himself a good friend in Kim Joonmyun, who had been his senior back in college; and the fact that Joonmyun was on this internship with him, albeit in a different department, provided him with a great sense of comfort. But a team of twelve people he had never met before, and with whom he now had to work in harmony to complete a series of dubious projects?

That. That was slightly more problematic.

"Ground floor, please," he told the lady who was in the elevator with him, and the lift slowly progressed towards the firm canteen.

Kyungsoo wasn't at his best when he dealt with other humans for an extended period of time. If he was going to do this well, he was going to need quite a bit of luck.

The cafeteria greeted him with the sight of a jamboree of consultants with trays in their hands, eating in breezy groups — or in complicit pairs — and filling the room with blurry chatter. Sitting at a long table near the window was an abnormally tall intern with awkwardly big hands, who talked to his spaced-out colleague impatiently:

"For the umpteenth time, Yixing, you need to connect your computer to the printer in the department. They're numbered for a reason."

"But they all look the same," the other man exhaled dramatically.

There was a "Group 12 Meeting" scribbled onto a piece of paper next to them, stuck to the table edge with scotch tape. Nine or so people were already installed around it, some chatting amongst themselves, others sipping from their respective drinks. Kyungsoo quickly shuffled towards the incongruous group, and sat down at the table's end.

"Sorry I'm late," he said as he slid next to a guy wearing a snapback over tufts of fiery red hair. Said boy did not bother looking up from his phone.

"That's alright," an intern with a pesky grin and a tie covered with pelicans answered instead. Kyungsoo recognized him as a boy named Baekhyun if he remembered well - he had seen him in the department before.

"We're still waiting for two other guys anyway, so it's not like you missed anything," Baekhyun explained to him with a shrug. "You're completely alright."

"Okay," Kyungsoo said bluntly. "Thanks."

"What's your name?" the boy named Yixing smiled tranquilly.

"Do Kyungsoo."

"'Do' being the last name, yeah?" Sehun - who had bothered to wear his nametag, praise the Lord - perked up. Everyone at the table glanced at him but he simply opened up his hands with a frown: "I just wanted to make sure-"

"Yes," Kyungsoo stated flatly, "Yes, it is the last name. Please don't call me 'Do'."

"I didn't know we were in the same team," Baekhyun turned back towards him, "If I'd known, we could have come down together."

A fourth young man peered at them from behind his double espresso shot: "You're working in the same department, then."

"Yeah...We're in Business Tech."

"I'm in Business Tech too," a fifth guy raised his head at once, and then Kyungsoo finally recognized him as the elf-eared intern from his department, who'd almost broken his face this morning. A pencil behind his ear, and his cheeks oddly red as he stared at Baekhyun, the poor soul stuttered. "I'm Chanyeol. W-we met during induction, Baekhyun, I don't know if you remember me."

The concerned intern stared at him in perplexity, visibly not remembering a single thing. Chanyeol rectified:

"We were sitting together when they gave us the introductory talk..."

Baekhyun snapped his fingers:

"You're the guy who sneezed next to me while drinking!"

"Charming," the intern with the snapback finally spoke, and Chanyeol's face blazed up like pancakes.

Straining his neck just a little allowed Kyungsoo to catch a glimpse of the three guys taking up the seats nearest to the window – one short, stout intern with an oversized turquoise sweater and puffy cheeks, the wiry one called Sehun, and a tanned young man completely in black, thick-lipped, who looked so bored by everything that Kyungsoo couldn't help but stare at him in wordless wonder. When their gaze met he was forced to repress an undignified sound of surprise, almost knocking over Baekhyun's glass of water by the same occasion.

He apologized under his breath while Yixing began drumming against the table with his fingers:

"Well, then. Maybe we should introduce ourselves, just to break the ice," he commented with a dreamy smile. "My name is Yixing, I come from McGill, and I work in the Marketing & Sales dep. with Tao," he designated the intern with a double expresso and monstrous eyebags, "brother Lu," a nod at the snapback-wearing lad who was captivated by his phone once again, "and this big dad right here."

"Stop calling me big dad," the young man with awkwardly big hands snapped, "My name’s Wu Yifan... You can call me Kris if that makes it any easier; that's how people called me in London."

Yixing shrugged in passing: "I think Yifan is quite alright."

"I've seen you guys at the dorms," Sehun squinted, and sniffled through a nasal voice, "you guys rented the rooms that the firm negotiated with UCLA, right?"

"I did, yeah," Kris conceded, and both Baekhyun and Yixing nodded in agreement.

"I didn't," the so-called brother Lu said, scrunching his nose with visible aversion, "Too expensive. But the flat I'm renting at the moment is literally a shit hole. Like, literally, there are rats everywhere and they poop in the living like it's a freaking public toilet."

"Oh, rats have no notion of privacy," Yixing kindly advocated. "You can’t blame them for not knowing where to poop."

"Sorry, what’s your name again?" Kyungsoo glanced at his neighbour, who finally looked up from his phone.

"Me?" he blinked, looking slightly surprised, "Oh, I’m just-"

"His name is LU HAN LU," Kris snorted.

"...Actually, it’s just Lu Han, thank you very much."

The intern in turquoise nodded at him with a curious blink: "It says ‘Lu Han Lu’ on your nametag, though."

"Yeah it does, but it’s just Lu Han."

"What the hell?" Sehun frowned.

"It also says ‘Lu Han Lu’ on every other part of the system, but sincerely, it’s just Lu Han," he forced a smile. "Systems fuck up."

"Okay. So...where did you come from, Lu Han?" Chanyeol leaned forward while scratching his nose.

"Sydney... Media and Communications..." Lu Han whirred while scrolling monotonously through his instagram. "Took a gap year after graduation, worked another, and now, I’m here."

"That explains the accent," Baekhyun leered.

"What’s wrong with it?"

"It just sounds Australian," the other man remarked without ill feelings, "I have nothing against it, though, I mean it’s not as if you were Scottish and we literally had to decode anything that you had to say-"

"Hey guys, sorry we’re late," rolled in the thickest Scottish accent Kyungsoo had ever heard, and they all turned to see a short square-jawed intern stop in front of their table with a huge grin on his face and a handbag under his arm.

Baekhyun looked side-ways with an embarrassed smile: "I didn’t say anything, ha ha."

A neatly groomed Joonmyun tottered behind the Scottish intern, looking both frazzled and horrified at his own lateness. Kyungsoo’s mouth twitched by reflex, curling upwards, but the intern with the thick lips instantly produced a deep grunt of irritation from somewhere near the window:

He turned to see the said younger man run a hand through his fluffy – damn, yes, so fluffy – hair:

"Great. Just great."

"What is?" Chanyeol looked confused.

"Twelve Asians in one bloody team?" the young man scoffed coldly. "‘Pride on diversity’, my ass. We are all literally just a walking stereotype...All of us."

"Why so much hostility, young friend?" Yixing inquired.

"Don’t call me ‘young friend’," he bit back instantly. "My name’s Jongin. I’m a law student from UCL – the British one."

"And Jongin, do they often shove a broom up your ass, in UCL?" Lu Han threw in viciously.

"There, there," Kris lifted his huge hands in a move that wanted to be appeasing, "we should let the new guys present themselves first. You are?"

"My name is Joonmyun Kim, from the Operations & Organizations department," Joonmyun shifted on his feet uneasily. "I’m sorry for being late...I promise that my tardiness won’t happen again."

"My name’s Jongdae," the Scottish intern continued, perfectly unaffected by Jongin’s cold welcome as he shrugged: "and I wish I could make the same promise as Joonmyun but I’m pretty sure my tardiness will happen again."

Kyungsoo cocked an eyebrow.

"Well. That’s surprisingly honest," Baekhyun simply scratched his chin with a snort.

"Oh, just giving myself a wild opt-out card," Jongdae grinned impishly, and Joonmyun gave him a shove of the elbow. They took the last remaining seats and gathered around the table while Kris leaned on one arm:

"So, you studied in Scotland?"

"Glasgow, yeah." Jongdae nodded happily while installing himself next to Tao. "Currently doing a masters too."

"Really, where at?" Baekhyun blinked interestedly.

"Ehhh, just this uni called WESTUprising."

The rest of the team blinked in bemusement.


Jongdae took a sip from Tao’s coffee under the younger intern’s dumbfounded face.

"W-E-S-T-Uprising," he articulated.

"No, I heard but...where the heck is that?"

"Oh, it’s online," the Scottish student derided gently, "I’m surprised you guys never heard of it. It’s great."

"Maybe we’ll have to check it out," Yixing smiled good-willingly, in spite of the dubious look Kris was throwing him.

"But you did study at Glasgow university, didn’t you?" Kyungsoo frowned uncertainly.

"Eh. Well, again no, not Glasgow per se, but-"

"Glasgow Strathclyde," Chanyeol threw in helpfully.


"Glasgow Caledonian?" the intern in the turquoise sweater tilted his head.

"No, actually, eh, Glasgow Mouthfield Business School."

A blank.

"What," Lu Han whispered.

"So exotic!" Yixing exclaimed and Kris shot him another look.

"It’s probably one of those obscure universities which are actually quite good once you go there," Chanyeol provided benevolently, his oversized glasses sliding off his nose. "I know a few of my friends did that."

"That doesn’t explain anything," Baekhyun interjected, "this firm only takes world-class educated kids. The first question they ask in their application form is where you did your studies, how the hell did you even enter the assessment centre stage?"

"Because I’m actually smart," Jongdae knocked on his own head with a playful smirk. "I use my brain when it matters and where it matters. Also, I am an adventurer; I have the heart of an entrepreneur."

"What did you study, when you were in... um..."

"Glasgow Mouthfield Business School." Jongdae completed for him and took another sip from Tao’s coffee, insensitive to the younger man’s distraught face. "Well, as it turns out, I studied Business."

"Even his degree is vague as fuck," Lu Han dropped.

"Guys, I don’t see the problem," Yixing abruptly opened up his palms to the sky, "we all come from diverse backgrounds; that’s what the human resources manager said. It’s normal to have different types of education and specialisms within the team. I, for one, think it is very cool that Jongdae’s doing his masters online in EASTUprising, and I love his Scottish accent."

"WESTUprising. But thanks for the comment, mate" Jongdae winked.

"And you?" Kris looked at Joonmyun. But the Scottish intern replied instead:

"Oh, he comes from boring Harvard."

"I’m a Harvard graduate too." Kyungsoo said.

"So you two are university mates?" Yixing smiled softly at the two of them, "oohhh, that's so nice."

"I was Kyungsoo’s senior back in college actually," Joonmyun elaborated, encouraged by the younger man’s friendly demeanour. "We both have an Engineering background."

Chanyeol immediately tipped his head to one side, looking confused:

"You are an engineer?" he asked, "Then why didn’t they put you in Business Tech with us?"

There was a high-pitched laugh which sounded suspiciously like a discouraged whimper.

"That's nothing yet," the intern wearing a turquoise sweater then sighed, before pointing at his neighbour, who was nodding despondently, "Sehun here got put into Risk with me."

Baekhyun cocked an eyebrow in confusion. "So?"

"So, I studied Finance and Accounting, I should be in Risk," the turquoise sweater said. "But Sehun..."

"I’m an Oxford student," Sehun explained.


"– in English Literature and Psychology."

Baekhyun’s eyebrows crumpled in condolence: "Oh."

Lu Han rubbed a hand over his face:

"What is even the use of that?" he muttered.

And Sehun immediately countered with a haughty sniffle: "Uh, excuse you. English Literature is very, very useful."

"Oh, really. In what kind of circumstances, if I may ask?"

"Well, for one, without English literature, you wouldn’t have amazing things such as Charles Dickens’-"

"Guys, stop," the other Risk intern sighed, "the point’s not there. The point is that English Literature might be great usually, but right now it’s not helping you understand any of TTM clients’ account books, Sehun."

The younger intern settled down obediently for picking at his napkin.

"Why on earth did they put him in Risk?" Kyungsoo ended up asking out of consternation.

"No one knows why," the turquoise sweater rubbed a hand over his cheek, "including himself."

"Also, my supervisor is so scary," Sehun mumbled, "I feel like he wants to dice my ass into cubes and cook them into a bloody mince pie each time I mess up something..."

"-which is approximately every hour of the day, I assume," Lu Han cocked an eyebrow and Sehun glared at him. His cheeks however, were tainted by embarrassment, so there must have been truth in the statement.

Chanyeol soon glanced at the puffy cheeked intern.

"And you are, um...?"

"Me? Uh, I’m Minseok." the boy in the oversized sweater began quietly, and the entire congregation immediately focused on him. "Why are you all staring at me like that?"

"Because you’re speaking."

He grimaced: "Don’t do that..."

"I wanted to ask you, actually: how on earth did they allow you to come in to work like that?" Baekhyun poked his turquoise sweater with genuine awe, making the young man frown anxiously.

"What's wrong with it?"

"Nothing. It’s just so... casual and cute."

"Let’s just say that it makes you look very young," Lu Han declaimed as he rotated to face a mildly rattled Minseok, "how old are you?"

"Um, twenty-four this year..." the elder man replied.

"Wait, seriously?" everyone lurched forward and he recoiled.

"Yeah, why?"

"You don’t look twenty-four," Joonmyun looked betrayed, "my twelve years old cousin looks older than you."

"Where did you graduate from?" Baekhyun blinked.


Whistles around the room made the intern’s cheeks flush deep red.

"Don’t do that."

"Why not?" Baekhyun smiled. "Buddy, Princeton is ranked number one university in the states, you know."

"I know," Minseok cringed, "but..."

"They’re really famous for their lacrosse team," Joonmyun added.

"I know. I was part of the men’s team back in college."

Another wave of whistles welcomed that statement, and Minseok shut his eyes pleadingly:

"Can you please not do that?"

"We’re just showing you our appreciation. No need to blush," Lu Han granted him a smile, and for once, the move seemed to be tainted by endearment rather than sarcasm.

Jongin suddenly exhaled loudly in his seat:

"If we’re done introducing ourselves, maybe we should go back to our respective departments?"

The others craned their necks to look at him.

"Why so hasty?" Lu Han sneered, "do we bother you or something?"

The younger intern outstretched both hands and faced him defiantly, "I never said that."

"If we bore you so much that you want to leave, be my guest."

"You're making it very tempting," Jongin snorted. "I still have work to do, after all. And this is turning into a waste of time."

"Oh, I see," Lu Han leaned forward disparagingly, "so mister from UCL is busier than the rest of us, is he?"

"Uh. Slow down," Kris interrupted. "Let’s at least try to fake some teamwork on our first day, yeah? Keep the murderous tension for later in the summer."

"Well, the whole teamwork thing is a complete lie anyways," Kyungsoo cracked instantly.

And all the other interns took a peek at him, making him stall in hesitation:

"It’s true..." he ended up continuing, "They say we have to be a team for the whole summer, and yet, only two of us are going to get the jobs, at best. It’s basically an invitation for everyone to backstab each other on the long run."

"I kind of agree," Tao admitted reluctantly, looking disillusioned and sad, "we can teamwork all we want. But at the end of the day, we’re just competing against each other. It’s really stupid."

"That’s not so different from what happens in the professional world anyways," Jongin shrugged challengingly, staring straight back at Kyungsoo: "there’s always one promotion only, one managerial position open, one pay raise, one client secondment opportunity; and even though you work in teams, you’re competing with your workmates all the time. I think that the system is just preparing us for the harsh reality of the working environment we’re aiming for."

"Still," Lu Han raised an eyebrow, "they expect us to work in peace when we have a douchebag like you in the batch? I find that kind of demotivating."

"Guys, honestly, let’s not fight on our first meeting," Chanyeol beseeched with conciliatory hands, but only managed to knock over his emptied can.

Jongin had already stood up.

"I’m grabbing a sandwich for lunch and going back," he stated, unaffected by the glare that Lu Han was throwing him, "see you guys at the next meeting. Bye."

As soon as the law student left, Lu Han bit down on his lower lip and stuck out his tongue:

"What a douche," he breathed out shortly after.

Yixing simply deployed both arms with a serene smile:

"Let’s take a deep breath, everyone, do not let this tiny intercalation affect your mood in any way; we are all going to get along just fine..."

"Have you not seen his fucking attitude?"

"Breathe, brother Lu... Two in, one out. Two in, one out..."

Kris sighed: "Actually, it's one in, two out, know."

"My mother says that first impressions are very important, but that sometimes they don’t stand for everything," Joonmyun said in a pacifying tone.

"Well, then I hope your mother’s damn right on that one," Lu Han scoffed, "because that guy looks like an absolute bastard to me, right now."

"'Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding' – Albert Einstein."

"Yixing, I'm not sure you’re helping."

"You do know we have to do a Dragon boat race together next week," Tao said sombrely. "It’s a team-building exercise and counts for points. My supervisor said so."

The rest of the table peered at him, then glanced at each other with equal, dawning dread.

"Well, fuck," Lu Han groaned and pulled his snapback deeper over his eyes. From across the table, Sehun glanced at him briefly before awkwardly focusing on his napkin once again. Kyungsoo threw a diffident look at each other them, but found nothing to say.

"Well, so far, things are going great, aren’t they?" Jongdae exclaimed after a long minute of silence.

Kyungsoo let out a despondent sigh.

Thank god that I saved this on google drive. :'^) I may as well put up chapter two of this tonight, as well. I have...more time than I initially thought. Cheers to that.

@zuka - since someone told me you wanted to see this?
« Last Edit: June 18, 2019, 12:25:49 AM by arielle »

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Re: chacun voit midi à sa porte [⚜] writing storage
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2018, 08:33:46 PM »
Chapter Two of Interning: The Fault in Our Coffees ❞

Freshly showered in the cuddling warmth of his residence room, Baekhyun reached over the night desk to switch his lights off before throwing himself over the feathery comfort of his spongy mattress.

The deal TTM had concluded with the university had given them the choice of renting a single-bedded room in one of UCLA's accommodations for the duration of the internship, instead of flat-hunting on their own. Baekhyun had been one of the first to put his name down on the list back then, when the applications had opened in February. The option was certainly pricier than going for most of the private flats in the rougher neighbourhoods of town, and interns had to share a kitchen with other students who were there for the summer... but at least the rooms were clean, of decent sizes, and all truths be told, Baekhyun simply couldn't have bothered to look for a rented place of his own back then.

He just couldn't. Not in that state of mind, anyways.

The intern had barely started to drool for an hour or two when the smoke detector above his head blasted into drilling honks that depleted all his brain cells in one go. It left him bleary-eyed over the sheets, sitting up with a haggard glance at the clock.

It was exactly half-past two in the morning.

"What the living fuck..." he pulled himself out with a groan and grabbed the leather jacket on his chair.

Outside, students had already gathered in the courtyard in front of the building, some wrapped in their bathrobes, others in snuggly sweaters and warm slippers. Sehun and Kris were standing below the light of a street lamp; the eldest of the two wearing bright yellow SpongeBob socks, buried in a pair of fluffy rabbit-shaped slippers.

"Nice footwear," Baekhyun commented as he arrived, and the slumberous Economics graduate mumbled something unintelligible in return. He looked like his soul had been sucked away by the smoke detector.

Sehun was texting someone on his smartphone, gel smacked over his hair in a hurry, making him look like a dysfunctional peacock. Through the bloated yawn which consumed his throat, Baekhyun realised that it was the first time the few of them had gathered together like this, outside of work.

"I know I'm not a saint," Kris said after a while, "but I feel that I don't deserve this."

"I'm not a saint either, so I'm going to kill whoever thought it was funny to set off that thing," Baekhyun simply snorted into his palm while Sehun directed groggy eyes at him.

"What, so you don't think it's a real fire?"

"Wow, buddy. How do you go through your college years?" he chuckled without heat. At the same time, Sehun perceived something behind his back and gave it a wave.

"Hey, Tao."

Baekhyun looked over his shoulder and met with the most atrocious set of eye bags he had ever seen in his life.

"Oh my God," he dropped with an involuntary jerk.

"Thanks," Tao replied grudgingly. "I know."

"You look awful," Sehun stated. "Didn't get much sleep?"

"Does it look like I got much sleep?" Tao muttered resentfully. "I literally sleep less than three hours a day and this is taking a further twenty minutes away from those three hours. Twenty minutes and counting. Yes, because I am counting."

"I didn't know you were staying in this wing too," Baekhyun yawned into his palm, glancing at the courtyard.

Their walking corpse of a colleague simply shrugged:

"I usually stay in the south wing, but I got moved for the internship; makes it easier for the university and stuff..."

Being a Politics and Chinese student in the University of California gave Tao a year-long roof within the accommodations; but he also had the bad luck of living with a Music major who felt that it was an imperative need to practice his opera skills at three in the morning, every single day. Now that summer had arrived and that Tao had been moved to a new dormitory, the Chinese intern discovered that his luck had not improved one bit.

"I live next to a girl who stays with her boyfriend now," the young man said with a murderous edge in his voice, "and they just. won't. shut up during sex."

"What a flourishingly healthy relationship," Kris remarked with a sigh, eliciting a cocked eyebrow from both Baekhyun and Sehun.

"As if that wasn't enough," Tao continued, "there has to be construction work going on in the flat above me and it sounds like they're about to drill a hole through the ceiling every fucking morning. Do you know how little sleep I get because of that?"

"Man, you really have it bad, don't you," Baekhyun cackled lazily as he swung over his feet, and the younger man simply glared:

"One day I'm going to go up there and drill a hole through their ass."

"Yeah? I hope I won't be there to see that, then," the Columbia graduate yawned once more and looked up, noticing Yixing's tranquil figure making his way towards them, hands in his pockets, wearing an ugly pair of vomit green crocs. The Chinese had a guitar strapped over his back and a Hawaiian shirt with flamboyant flowers blooming all over his chest and stomach, looking altogether sprightly like it was three in the afternoon and not bloody half past any hour that could be considered a reasonable sleeping time.

"Nice jacket," the Chinese intern remarked as he arrived, pinching the leather on Baekhyun's back.

"Thanks, you uh, look lively."

"I shine with the moon," Yixing smiled serenely, stretching his neck before sitting down on the nearest fence. "This is prime time for meditation."

"Oh, really."

"I wish my flatmate could meditate instead of screaming like a cat on heat," Tao mumbled for himself.

"What?" the other intern blinked.

"Don't listen to him," Kris shook a dismissive hand, before crossing his arms and shuddering in his thin t-shirt.

Yixing eventually nodded and threw one leg over the other, holding his ankle with one hand as he stared at the growing crowd of students in the courtyard.

"Lovely evening," he stated after a while.

They nodded in silence and let the summer wind do the rest of the talking, cradled away by the sound of the fire alarm blaring through the building.

Kyungsoo had discovered on the very first day of work that there was a Starbucks right next to the company and he had been sneaking out during lunch time ever since then, to grab a quick coffee fix after his daily sandwich. In the morning, after stopping the rented car in the nearest parking lot, he would leave Joonmyun on the sidewalk first and head to the Starbucks alone, ordering his daily intake of iced caramel macchiato or chai latte, and smile in satisfaction as the taste of sugar and milk washed down his throat, leaving him ready to tackle the day.

But today, there was somebody else who was standing in the queue with him. Somebody familiar.

"Oh no," he mouthed.

And from in front of him, Jongin looked back before giving him a passing nod.

"Hi," Kyungsoo spat aggressively.

The reticent law student produced a vague sound of acknowledgment before facing the front of the queue once again. Wondering whether to continue talking or not, Kyungsoo ruminated grimly for a while, then cleared his throat violently. Jongin was his teammate. For the sake of teamwork, they needed to be on speaking terms, at least. He braced himself and spoke up with his most amiable voice:

"I didn't know you were a Starbucks person too."

Jongin did not reply.

Somewhat insulted, the elder intern narrowed his eyes and tapped the other man on the back.

"Hey. I'm talking to you."

Jongin turned around, revealing earphones dangling from his ears that made Kyungsoo's eyes widen in horror.

"Oh, sorry, I didn't mean-"

"What?" the younger man frowned openly now, tugging the earphones out at last.

"No, n-nothing. Fuck."

"You just tapped me on the shoulder."

"Yeah, I thought..." Kyungsoo struggled, "never mind, I'm sorry."

"The bloody hell...?" Jongin squinted and shook his head, but before Kyungsoo could retort anything, the Starbucks employee leaned over the counter to grin at them:

"Any drinks for you, sir?" she beamed at Jongin, whose voice relaxed and took a much more courteous tone:

"I'll have an Americano, please. With a skinny lemon muffin on the side, thanks."

"Take-away or eat-in, sir?"

"Take-away," Jongin offered a smile, and Kyungsoo cocked an eyebrow. How civilised the law student sounded, when he talked to perfect strangers.

He snorted when the barista grinned at him:

"Anything for you, sir?" she beamed, and he replied more briskly than he had originally expected:

"Iced caramel macchiato. Grande."

She simply nodded and disappeared behind the coffee machine, while the other intern spared him a confused glance.

"What was that for?"

"What was what?" Kyungsoo darted edgy eyes up at the dark pupils in front of him, gulping unconsciously as he saw delectably tanned skin and full lips puckered into an uncertain pout of hesitation.

"Hnn. Nothing," Jongin eventually concluded as they arrived towards the cashier, drawing his wallet out.

They fell into silence at once; an excruciating kind of silence – in which Kyungsoo looked at his watch three times, stole a glance at the younger man, and then eventually sank into deeper ponderings than those he was already floundering in. There was a brooding quality about Jongin, which irked him and reminded him of squalling storm clouds before the first roar of thunder, or the foggy hours before dawn when the light is still faint, barely piercing through the watery smog. Jongin's aura spelt out anticipation, if that made any sense. Or maybe he was simply going insane.

It wasn't until they were both waiting for their drinks at the end of the counter that Kyungsoo mustered enough will to speak up again, feeling much crankier and less nervous this time:

"We're having a get-to-know-each-other party this week-end," he declared rather flatly.

The law student cocked an eyebrow at him.


"The damn team, who do you think?" Kyungsoo retorted. "Chanyeol suggested that we should gather at his place this Saturday. Get to know each other, have a few drinks...just mingle, basically."

"Oh, really."

"Are you coming?"

"Nah, I think I'll pass," Jongin smirked, and the elder intern felt his heart do a strange, unintentional flip at the sight. "I wasn't invited anyways, so it's probably better that I don't show up."

"That's because no one has your number," Kyungsoo nipped.

Jongin's eyes shot up at the sharpness of the tone, before dismissing the remark and slowly shifting to a small snow globe that had been ornamenting the edge of the counter. A ballerina was doing an arabesque inside, spinning under synthetic snowflakes with her little figure curved like a bow. Jongin's fingers tapped the plastic sphere absent-mindedly for a while, lips pursed in silence as the tiny figurine spun round and round under their eyes. Then a small smile graced his features:

"Cute," he commented for no one in particular.

Kyungsoo's eyebrows jumped up in genuine destabilization.

"What?" he said uncertainly.

But Jongin simply straightened his back and got distracted by the Americano which had been pushed onto the ledge. He seized it and was about to walk off when Kyungsoo snapped back into focus. With a funny feeling of expectation and urgency, he pinched the back of the younger man's shirt and dragged him forcefully back to the counter.

Jongin opened dumbfounded eyes at him:


"Pass me your number before you leave," he ordered in one breath.

"Huh?" the law student instantly blinked at him. "Wh-?"

"I'll tell you next time we decide to do anything on Whatsapp," Kyungsoo explained curtly, too embarrassed to face the other man's gaze directly, "look, you're part of the team too, so I don't want you to think that you can just skip all our group meetings just because you can't stand Lu Han's attitude."

"I think he's the one who can't stand me, not the opposite."

"Same damn thing," the Harvard graduate gritted his teeth, "pass me your number. I'll text you next time there's anything."

A silence lingered between them, during which Kyungsoo shifted uncomfortably on his feet:

"Of course, if you could just join our Whatsapp group, it'd make everything much easier."

"No," Jongin replied briskly, but he was already pulling his phone out of his bag before letting a small smile flicker up, "I think I quite like the idea of you personally texting me all the updates, actually."

Kyungsoo needed all his willpower not to sound like a dying cockroach.

"You just want me to do all the work, don't you."

"Maybe...?" Jongin laughed softly, and damn, it was an adorable sound. "So my number is..."

"Hold on, let me get my phone out."

They exchanged numbers and the younger man smiled once more as he entered Kyungsoo's details into his contact list.

"Well, then," he straightened his back at last and tilted his head, "when is our next meeting, again?"

"Um, tomorrow. It's the first assessment, for finding our team names..."

"Oh yeah. That's right," the younger snickered softly, "Good luck with your work until then. I'll see you around," Jongin sounded sincere for once.

"Yeah," Kyungsoo ended up replying without realising that his tone had softened with every passing minute, "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Hnn. Bye bee," Jongin beamed, giving him a little wave.

Bye bee, that's hella cute, Kyungsoo found himself musing dimly.

He did not know that two people were sitting at the table right behind them, sharing knowing glances behind lifted mugs as they watched the scene unravel under their ingenious eyes:

"Bye bee, that's hella cute," Jongdae cooed for Joonmyun's benefit, and the elder man simply frowned before kicking him lightly in the shin.

"Okay, we have thirty minutes to find ourselves a team name and enter it into the system," Jongdae announced the next day, as he sat behind the only laptop in the room. "Go."

"Let the ideas rain, guys," Yixing encouraged with grabby hand gestures, "feel that rain on your skin like it's the monsoon under the eastern milky way-"

"I've got paper where we can brainstorm," Chanyeol exclaimed as he pulled out his notepad from his bag, talking too fast and too loudly, "Just scream anything. We can beat all the other teams and come up with something in five minutes."

"You're shouting," Baekhyun blared even louder. "Please stop shouting."

"Maybe we should try to find a structure first," Joonmyun spluttered hastily, circling around the table with a concerned look, "my mother always says to organise your ideas by themes and if it doesn't work, to classify them by alphabetical order. We need to draw up a table and put all our ideas in and then we could submit the sum of those ideas to a democratic vote..."

"Guys," Lu Han dropped, sitting on the back of a chair with his feet on the seat, "you do realize this is a team name we're talking about and not some sort of Neo-Nazi drill, right?"

"Where's Tao, anyways?" Sehun lifted his head.

"Coming," Kris raised his phone and waved it lightly, "says his flatmate was trying new positions yesterday, causing him to oversleep..."

"That's information we don't need to know," Minseok pursed his lips in distaste before making himself an instant coffee.

"Oops," Jongdae glanced at the screen, which had just refreshed with a bleeping sound, "looks like the first team name came out..."


Everyone gathered behind the screen, gaping at it in distrustful silence.

"Team number five." Jongdae pointed. "Named themselves the "Sniper's Diapers"."

"That is a horrible name," Joonmyun professed, "see? This is exactly why we should brainstorm and classify our ideas by alphabetical order."

"Guys, guys, I have an epiphany," Yixing raised his head with a dreamy glaze on his face, "how about we call ourselves...the Baby Wolves?"

"I veto it," Jongin's hand shot up from his seat near the table edge. "I veto the fuck out of it."

"Yeah, I refuse too," Kris sighed while a second bleeping sound reached his ears, under Yixing's disappointed gaze. "Sorry, Yixing."

"Why not, though? It's like, ‘baby' because we're all cute and nice, but then on the inside, we're actually wolves..."

"Team number eleven named themselves ‘SHINee', whatever that means."

"Maybe they just don't know how to spell," Kyungsoo spat in distaste.

"I'm okay with anything," Lu Han remarked casually while pushing his beanie back, "as long as it doesn't make us sound like a bunch of clowns."

"Hey guys," Tao barged through the door with a cup of tea in his hand, "Sorry I'm late."

"That's okay," Baekhyun pointed at his cup, "but there's bird shit in your tea, I don't know if you noticed."

"Oh my fucking-!"

"Guys, team number one found their name too."

"Jesus Christ, they're going too fast," Chanyeol spewed out in a frenzy, almost knocking his redbull over, "do you want me to hack into the system to slow them down or-?"

"Wait," Minseok stared at him in disbelief, "you can do that?"

"Um," Chanyeol stalled, eyes looking to the side nervously, "No?"

"You just asked if we wanted you to hack into the system to slow them down."

"Uh, yes, well but..."

"You're a hacker?" Baekhyun blinked incredulously.

"Hackers aren't always bad?" the tall intern tried desperately, before smiling: "Also, I'm a retired hacker, so it doesn't really count."

"Guys, I have an idea for our team name," Sehun interrupted unaffectedly from behind crossed arms, "I think it's really cool."

"What is it?" Tao sat on the table, after gladly taking the instant coffee that Minseok passed him.


The others settled down in a brief moment of rumination, in which Lu Han lowered his iPhone and closed his eyes in pure consternation:

"Now you've done it. You've made me leave my Twitter."

"What?" Sehun turned towards him, "why?"

"XOXO. Are you serious?"

"Well, yeah. It's cool," the Oxford student frowned. "It's hella cool."

"I actually like it," Tao smiled into his coffee, "it's kind of cute."

"XOXO?" Lu Han burst out, a hand over his beanie, "are you kidding? That's almost as dumb as Snipers' Diapers, if not worse because at least the other one rhymes."

"If you have a better idea, go ahead, say it!" Sehun narrowed his eyes at the Australian graduate.

"Should I write XOXO down for now, though?" Chanyeol threw a hesitant look around the room, and Baekhyun gave him a discreet nod. The giant instantly scribbled it onto his notepad while Lu Han shook his head vehemently:

"No, no, no," he shouted, "I'll kiss that asshole over there on the lips before I accept this as our team name," he pointed at Jongin, who jerked back in revolt: "What the hell?"

"What's so bad about this, though?" Sehun retorted with a frown. "Would you rather that we call ourselves the Baby Wolves?"

"Which I still think is a brilliant name, by the way," Yixing promoted.

A diffident bleep rang across their heated chatter. Jongdae scrolled down the list of teams on the system.

"Group six named themselves "Super Junior"," he remarked with a light hum, "do you think that's an euphemism for Giant Dick?"

"I refuse to call myself XOXO." Luhan raised both hands in the air, "that's fucking lame. I'd rather call myself "My Little Ponies"."

"Now that's a good idea-"

"No it's not," Kris cut him off, and Yixing shot him a weary look.

"Or," Chanyeol suggested, "we could cross out one XO," he drew a line over the tentative team name, "and that would leave us with Team XO. Which is a spirit name, like work hard, play hard"."

"No." Kyungsoo and Jongin said at once.

"My mother would kill me if I named my team after alcohol," Joonmyun shook his head disapprovingly. "Also, it's ‘work hard, pay hard', you've been learning it wrong."

"How about this," Tao muttered, "we forget about XOXO or XO altogether, and we name ourselves, the Sea Waves."

"Or better," Kris wriggled one eyebrow, "the Galaxies."

"Team T," Jongdae smirked, "for Trolls."

"Let's be hipsters and call ourselves a number," Yixing's eyes narrowed: "420."

"That's my birthday," Lu Han commented, and Yixing gave him a look full for attentiveness:

"Is it now? Interesting."

"Guys, I don't know if you realise, but we only have five minutes left for this assignment," Minseok sighed.

A wave of panic travelled across the table.

"Cross out XOXO completely," Lu Han hurriedly said, designating the sheet angrily, "we are definitely NOT using that."

"Why not?" Sehun snapped.

Baehyun rubbed his chin:

"Maybe we could keep the idea of using individual letters...I mean, it's cool if we can make a word out of it."

"AXO?" Chanyeol looked up tentatively.

"What the fuck does that even mean?"

"ZYX," Yixing whispered, only to be hit on the back of the head by Kris.

"That's just your initials."

"Okay, then XYZ."

"Guys, can we just pick something, anything?" Minseok passed two hands over his face, "I'm begging you."

"Crap," Jongdae noted at the same time from in front of the laptop screen, "Uh. One minute before the assignment's due."

"Fuck, fuck, just write something down, fuck it."

"Like that?" Chanyeol drew a fat E in front of the unbarred XO, and Jongdae looked over his shoulder.

"Sure, I'm inputting that into the system."

"Wait, what?" Lu Han frowned.

"E...X...O, done!" Jongdae exclaimed.

The others immediately gathered behind him, staring at the laptop screen, where a new entry had made its apparition below all the previous team numbers and team names. There, at the bottom of the list, was a small: "Group Number 12. Team name: EXO."

They stared at each other.

"I still preferred "the Sea Waves"," Tao shrugged.

Lu Han let out a groan and turned around on his chair.

That night, Baekhyun shut the dorm lights at approximately one in the morning, slipped into bed, and set up his alarm for quarter past seven before closing his eyes and burying his face into his pillow. Morpheus carried him away for an hour or two, then the fire alarm crashed through his Odyssey like a fire truck.

"Fucking hell..." he moaned amidst the blaring horn and the honking, before reaching blindly for his jacket.

Outside, Kris, Sehun and Tao were already waiting beneath the street lamp, looking just as haggard as him.

"I think I want to cry," Tao simply said as their gaze met. Baekhyun patted him on the back in silent sympathy.

Yixing arrived five minutes later, carrying a thermos filled with tea and a feathered hat on his head.

"Jasmine green tea?" he smiled at the rest of the congregation.

They shook their heads and he sat down on the fence with a contented sigh:

"Lovely evening."

In silence, the little group waited below the street lamp, huddled against one another as the fire alarm blared away in the distance.

Uni is....chaotic — for both undergraduate and graduate students. The fire alarm went off way too many times last semester. People had to come out in bathrobes and slippers and it was snowing outside. We were all pissed, to say the least. The same happened to people from other colleges and universities in the surrounding area. No one knows what the hell happened that night.

The part where EXO had to come up with a team name...well, since most of my friends in uni/college knew I was writing this, they gave a bunch of suggestions as to how they could come up with "EXO", and so I kind of...put them all in...actually, only most of them. I thought of also making a joke out of Kim Minseok's initials being "KMS", but... I then thought it'd be in bad taste, so that didn't make it in there.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2018, 08:40:51 PM by Arielle »

Time to ask: did you get a grip on the truth? We are here to bring change to our world. Take a side, make it right—or get out of our way right now; you cannot stop us!

How many times did you look away when someone cried for help?—acting like you didn't know. We won't accept excuses without sincere actions; unmasking all you traitors!

Offline seliane

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Re: chacun voit midi à sa porte [⚜] writing storage
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2018, 08:57:11 PM »
can't i just...sell you my soul for the next chapter ?? please ?? bbh as a lawyer i'm sobbign what a concept....exo as interns ?? another stellar concept.........pls can i just bring you starbucks for the next chapter hhngh i want it so b a d

[email protected] starbucks has ruined my name too rip i don't think they can handle chinese/japanese/korean names very well... how many times have they written "gino(?)" on my cup.... g o d.....

AND THE FIRE ALARM SITUATION !!! when i moved back into my dorm...they started testing the fire alarms without warning us...the one here kept going off every ten minutes and i thought i was going to go into cardiac arrest ffs.....

anyway these r the best things i've ever read in my entire life pls keep continuing to kill me lmao i'm showing this to ruoyan too.

How long has it been? Hope I'm not dreaming, looking good too aren't you? It's time to unwind. Eager to catch your smile — ain't shown it in a while, so set free the mind!

Don't need no words, we'll dance the night away together. Passing hours, embrace the feeling forever. It's all ours till the sunrise signals closure, come on, don't be shy now. Won't you take my hand?

Offline natsuki

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Re: chacun voit midi à sa porte [⚜] writing storage
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2018, 09:09:23 PM »
gOD I LOVE EXO but if i had to deal with them in scalp is going to come off bc i'd be tearing at my hair holy shit

also pls....i mean ofc people have butchered my japanese name, but my russian name...(the western one? tf do i even call it lol) gets destroyed too. what kind of people are they hiring at starbucks these days.

tracking because i need to see how this progresses. also lay is an angel i would die for him. that is all.

We're playing the odds, that's how it's done. Pretending to act like gods who steal just for fun; who cares if it means we're living on the run!

Thieves in a palace—full of mirrors' deceit. We've had to break in, to get out! Phantoms of madness snapping at your feet, we've had to break in, to break out!

Offline seliane

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Re: chacun voit midi à sa porte [⚜] writing storage
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2018, 09:18:17 PM »


How long has it been? Hope I'm not dreaming, looking good too aren't you? It's time to unwind. Eager to catch your smile — ain't shown it in a while, so set free the mind!

Don't need no words, we'll dance the night away together. Passing hours, embrace the feeling forever. It's all ours till the sunrise signals closure, come on, don't be shy now. Won't you take my hand?

Offline geminferno

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Re: chacun voit midi à sa porte [⚜] writing storage
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2018, 11:42:56 PM »
smol track
we’ll pretend we know all there is to know

Offline arielle

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Re: chacun voit midi à sa porte [⚜] writing storage
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2018, 01:24:03 AM »
@Seliane: Unfortunately for you, I absolutely won't let you do that. :^) Flattery only gets you so far, and btw I already have someone else to bring me coffee when I need it, haha. And...I think we've all witnessed the deformation of our names at the hands of Starbucks employees at least once. You have to just spell it out for them, loud and clear. I thought it'd be fitting to stick in there, since I knew you guys could relate.

I despise fire alarms with the burning passion of ten thousand suns. Surely, I don't need to elaborate on as to why; I already did that at the bottom of the second chapter of Interning.

And will do! Even if you didn't ask, I'd keep writing because I want to, and it helps relieve stress...most of the time. That, and it ensures that my English doesn't deteriorate too much, since I rarely speak English with my roommate in our flat (like you and Ruoyan).

Feel free to count just how many inside jokes I included; I won't tell you, because even I didn't count. I just tried to include as many as possible where it seemed fitting. :'^)

@Natsuki: Understandable. I'd also likely have kicked one of them out and/or refused to speak or interact with them entirely.

That's...rough. Maybe it's your accent? But your accent isn't even heavy, so I really...don't have an answer for you. May both of your names rest in pieces peace.

Also very true. I'd only rescue him (and Minseok), and then ditch the rest.

@ūlarmati: Hello!

Time to ask: did you get a grip on the truth? We are here to bring change to our world. Take a side, make it right—or get out of our way right now; you cannot stop us!

How many times did you look away when someone cried for help?—acting like you didn't know. We won't accept excuses without sincere actions; unmasking all you traitors!

Offline geminferno

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Re: chacun voit midi à sa porte [⚜] writing storage
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2018, 01:24:46 AM »
hello!! i adore your writing ;w;
we’ll pretend we know all there is to know

Offline arielle

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Re: chacun voit midi à sa porte [⚜] writing storage
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2018, 01:25:12 AM »
Chapter Three of Interning: Age of Vandals ❞

Baekhyun wasn't dumb.

Anything but. In fact, 'dumb' had never been part of the list of words used to describe Byun Baekhyun. He'd gotten into Columbia on a full scholarship after all, and finished his degree in Business & Industrial Technology with honours and distinctions. In junior year he'd gotten himself an internship at Accenture (and hated the place, but that was another story). Yes, really, Baekhyun was anything but stupid or incapable of professional achievements.

But he had no experience whatsoever when it came to the world of advanced IT.

"Fuckity fuck. I don't get this, fuck," Baekhyun sang under his breath as he clicked away in front of his work desk, two cups of coffee already gone cold next to the mouse.

He had a vague idea why the recruiting managers had decided to drop him into this department for the internship. Well, the Industrial Technology part of his degree had probably given them an indication – false – that he would be capable of working as an industrial engineer, and to be completely honest, such an assumption – false – was kind of understandable considering the circumstances. But Baekhyun had no IT background. Not an ounce. The 'technology' part of his degree was a hollow flourishing he did not bear any responsibility for. All this in-depth analysis of high-tech companies' development plans unrolled like complete gibberish to him and he was fucked by the words like a hamster in a fruit blender.

"Fuck this," he minimized window after window, "fuck this, fuck this, fuck this too..."

"Do you need help?" he heard someone behind him and jolted on his chair, swivelling around to see Chanyeol's wide-eyed gaze staring back at him.

Baekhyun let out a brutal laugh, too glad that it was Chanyeol and not his supervisor, and the younger man blinked at him:

"Sorry for creeping on you like that," the NYU graduate paused, then smiled. "Hi."

"Hi." Baekhyun waved back. "You did scare me right there, I admit it."

"Didn't mean to. Sorry," Chanyeol smiled again, pencil jutting from behind his ear as always, and oversized glasses hanging on his nose. "I just heard this trail of swearwords as I came back from the coffee machine, so..."

The elder man widened his eyes: "Was I that loud?"


"Wh –" Baekhyun frowned. "You just said you heard me from all the way..."

"Okay, yes, you were pretty loud," the younger man admitted at last, clearing his throat in embarrassment as he played with the opening of his can, "but hey, no worries. Drinking redbull just gives me an over-performant sense of hearing; so I'm pretty sure none of the senior consultants heard you," he flipped up two thumbs in encouragement.

Baekhyun opened his mouth to reply, but the buzzing coming from his phone caused him to look back at the device on his desk, and repress a frown as he saw the name of the sender. When Chanyeol threw him a politely curious look, he rapidly swiped the message alert away and turned back to smile at the younger man:

"Good thing I'm seated in a reclosed corner, eh?" he chuckled, looking at the shared space behind his working area, and the empty distance separating his desk from the nearest cubicle.

Chanyeol then grinned again and took a sip of his drink, voice deepened by the can:

"Yeah, good thing you're in the loner hole."

"Is that what you think of this place?"

"That's how my supervisor calls it," Chanyeol shrugged, "So? What are you working on?"

"Ermmm, I don't even know to be honest," Baekhyun laughed at himself, opening up the windows to show the other intern, "I majored in Business, my knowledge of technology is pretty nominal...I don't understand a thing of all the technical terms; showed Kyungsoo what I'd done today, earlier on, and he looked at me like I was the dumbest fuck he'd ever seen..."

"Hey, I can help," Chanyeol assured too loudly as he saw the content of Baekhyun's work, before covering his mouth and checking that no one was looking, "I can help you with the technical stuff. I did a dual degree Maths and Computer Science, I'm a pro at IT."

"Wait, really...?"

Another alert from his mobile. Baekhyun pursed his lips and pocketed the device, ignoring Chanyeol's questioning gaze and scratching his cheek:

"You'd do that?"

"Of course. IT is my area of expertise..."

"Oh that's right," he remembered at once, narrowing his eyes: "you're like a hacker too, aren't you?"

"A retired one," the younger man stressed with a nervous laugh, but still walked closer to look at Baekhyun's screen and click through the files. "Anyways, I could definitely take you through this. If you don't mind. I can, err, tutor you through the technical IT stuff when I don't have work to do myself."

Baekhyun stared at him.

"Are you serious?"

"Hnn," Chanyeol nodded energetically while drinking another gulp. When he lifted his head again, he was slightly flushed, "I...I could even tutor you during after-work hours, if you want."

"Man, that would be pretty damn amazing," Baekhyun brightened up, opening his palms, "thanks, man. You're seriously saving a life."

"It's reaaally no problem," the younger intern beamed, "it's only natural to help another teammate, right? Like, team EXO for the win and all..."

"Well, about that," the Columbia graduate snorted with emphasis, "we still need some better teamwork to start with."

"I think we're doing pretty good so far," Chanyeol shrugged, making Baekhyun study him more intently. "It always takes a certain amount of time for teams to bond in the beginning, but I have faith that we'll be fine on the long run, once everyone gets to know each other. I mean, we have Jongdae, who's super chill about everything...Joonmyun who's super hardworking...Kyungsoo and Minseok who are super smart...Sehun and Tao who are super weird..." he mused, pensive as he thought of their team members, "Even Jongin and Lu Han will do fine in the end, I'm sure of it. They're both nice guys. I can feel it, when I talk to them. They'll come along in due time. I'm positive."

"Wow, aren't you a kind soul," Baekhyun smirked lightly.

"I just like to stay optimistic..." Chanyeol waffled a bit, ears blushing like they'd been sunburnt. "My classmates used to coin me as their happy virus."

"That suits you well, for sure," the elder intern nodded, "thanks for the gathering at your place, by the way. It was really cool."

"My pleasure," the other man mumbled through a dribbling sip, "my place is too big and under-populated anyways."

"You're a really cool guy," Baekhyun sat back comfortably and crossed his legs. "Good thing we have you on the team, buddy."

Chanyeol's face had gone so red it had begun to match the smouldering crimson glow of his tie.

"Hey, since my supervisor's on her lunch break," he coughed, "how about I help you break down the elements for this company right now?"

"You'd do that?"

"Yeah, of course," Chanyeol moved closer, leaning over Baekhyun's arm to use the mouse and bringing some tabs up for them both, "Okay, so. If we take it up from here..."

"Oh my God, I need a break," Lu Han muttered, holding his head between two hands. From the cubicle next door, Yixing pushed his chair back and gave him a mocking pout:

"Hang in there, brother Lu. Add oil."

"I'll add oil, alright, I'll pour oil over this entire building," Lu Han snorted as he crumbled onto his arm, "and then I'll set it on fire."

"Go have a drink," the other Marketing & Sales intern hummed cheerfully, "it's already two in the afternoon, you need to stay hydrated."

"You mean, it's only two in the afternoon," Lu Han scrutinized the room, ensuring that their supervisors were nowhere in sight, before quickly grabbing his phone and opening Instagram. "We still have at least four hours to go before calling it a day. At least. It's not a drink I need, it's a smoke break."

"Smoking kills," Yixing opened wide eyes at him, as if outraged that Lu Han should even think about entertaining a smoking habit. Too bad, Lu Han was seven years too late for this conversation.

"Eheh, watch me go," the Media & Communications graduate stuck out his tongue and stood up promptly, "I'm off polluting my lungs."

"Outside? This is a non-smoking building."

"Nope. Break spot," Lu Han smiled, "the smoke detector is broken. I mean, I broke it three days ago."

"Vandal," the other man shook his head like a disapproving grandfather. "Young kids nowadays."

"Young kids nowadays think in advance," Lu Han smiled at him with a wink and ruffled his friend's hair affectionately before slipping away.

"Just don't come crying to me when you get lung cancer, alright?" the newly dishevelled Yixing called.

But Lu Han was already out of earshot, speedily scuttling towards the break spot, which linked the Compliance department to the Marketing & Sales one, and was completely empty at this hour of the day, save for the old administrator who took his coffee thirteen times within work hours, and was now returning to his desk with cumbrous footsteps. Lu Han drew out a cigarette from his pack and considered the space available to him; the counter, the fridge, the sink...his eyes finally stopped on the broom cupboard in a corner, behind the coffee machine. If he smoked there with the door open, he would be able to just hide himself inside the storeroom if anybody decided to come too near.

"Good plan," he told himself, opening the door of the mop room, and found himself nose to nose with a squatting Kris on the floor.

The other Chinese intern had a cigarette between his fingers, and an unimpressed expression on his face. Lu Han's eyes narrowed to two slits:

"What- the-...?" he recanted in a harsh whisper, "fuck?"

"Hi," Kris lifted one hand and waved between gritted teeth, "mind closing the door?"

"What are you doing?"

"Smoke break," Kris muttered, nodding towards the handle: "now, Lu Han Lu, if you could just kindly close that door and let me enjoy..."

"It's motherfucking Lu Han, you arse. And you know it."

"But that's not what your nametag says," the younger man took a drag, "do you need a mop?"

"It was my idea to use this place for smoking," Lu Han countered with squinting eyes, "why are you free-riding on my prime spot?"

"How is this your idea first? I'm the one squatting here," the Economics graduate said with smoke between his teeth.

"I broke that smoke detector. I marked my territory here three days ago."

"But I'm the one exploiting it," Kris pointed at himself. "Now get out and close the door, we can't have all that junk floating back to the detector in the department, can we."

"You can't just steal other people's smoking spot!" Lu Han whispered.

"I'm just borrowing it," the other man explained, dropping some ashes and crushing it under his shoe, "will give it back to you as soon as I'm done with this one, promise."

"I told Yixing I'm off polluting my lungs," Lu Han said as he leaned against the door, "I can't go back now unless I've fulfilled that promise."

"That is the weirdest promise I've ever heard."

"You're the free-rider, here, you don't get the right to jud-"

He never finished that sentence. Kris's eyes had suddenly widened in shock, and within a second the man had caught him by the wrist, hauling him inside the cabinet with one violent tug. As the door shut on them, Lu Han found himself pressed awkwardly against Kris's chest, muffling an expletive into his tie, and feeling the other intern's leg digging uncomfortably against his groin.


"Shhhh!" Kris warned him, cigarette in the air, his breath whooshing above Lu Han's head.

Voices outside the storeroom were slowly drifting back to Lu Han's ears now, making his breath hitch. He thought he could discern his supervisor's duck laugh through the door, the consultant's nasal voice booming through the room as he chatted with the secretary and the coffee machine hummed in the background... What a horrible timing. Lu Han groaned. His supervisor always had the worst timing in the world, he should have seen this coming.

"Jesus Christ..."

Also, Kris's knee needed to move away from that area between his legs, seriously.

"Move your leg, asshole, you're kneeing me in my private parts," he growled quietly into the other intern's shirt.

"I can barely move my hand, you think I can actually do anything about a leg?" the younger man retorted somewhere above him, "Sorry, ash is falling on your new hat, by the way."

"Oh my fucking..."

He struggled madly to save his bonnet from the massacre but only got the younger man to clutch him by the front of his shirt and yank him back down to his original position after painfully jarring his head against the shelf above. Lu Han muffled a shout and shut his eyes in agony.

"Great. Just great," he whimpered against Kris's chest, "Now I'm going to have to buy a new one. That is, if my entire head doesn't get put on fire."

"Is it seriously this hard for you to shut up? They'll hear us, idiot."

"Well, that's none of my business. I'm not the one smoking..."

"But you have an unlit cigarette in your hand," Kris murmured lowly as he made yet another attempt to extract himself from their inconvenient tangle of arms and legs, "Also, I shouldn't have to remind you that our position is highy compromising in and of themselves; and it is your supervisor who's out there drinking coffee with his colleague. Not mine."

The elder intern stopped moving.

"That's better."

"This is all your fault," Lu Han snapped with a sigh.

"My fault?"

"If you didn't have to go for a fucking smoke break at two in the afternoon..."

"Uh, excuse me?" Kris shifted, his knee ramming against family jewels and Lu Han momentarily saw stars, "who is the one who went out of his way to break the smoke detector just so we could have a private smoking area in the building?"

"-just so I could have a private smoking area in the building; I wasn't communist enough to share."

Kris sighed:

"Listen, this isn't important right now. Let's not fight. We're both at fault anyways."

"No, we're not!"

"Oh, for God's sake. Would it cut your tongue to be a bloody adult and just compromise, for once?" the younger intern whispered loudly.

"Excuse me, I am very mature-"

With an awful creak, the storeroom door swung wide open.

Kris's hand still hovering in the air with the cigarette between his fingers, and Lu Han's cheek still half-buried in the other man's chest, the two implicated interns turned their heads at the same time, closing their mouths awkwardly when they met with Tao's frozen expression above their faces, as the younger intern stared down at both of them with squinting eyes.

"What are you two doing here?" the youngest Chinese soon asked.

Lu Han flashed an insolent smile: "Same question back to you."


"Ignore him, Tao," Kris cleared his throat. "He's an idiot."

"I came to get some paper towels," Tao replied and cocked an eyebrow, obviously hesitating between bewilderment and absolute dismay. "They're behind you."

"Oh, cool," Lu Han laughed wryly, while Kris reached for something above his head to hand it to the other man:

"Here you go."

"Thanks," Tao murmured, but did not move away.

Stares were exchanged.

"So...what are you two doing here?"

"What does it look like?" Lu Han snapped, and Kris's knee knocked him flat out once again.

"Look, Tao, it's not what it looks like..."

"Right...okay, I'm not going to ask questions."

"What, no? Do ask questions," Kris blinked, starting to pull himself out while Lu Han agonized on the floor, "Ask as many questions as you want. Ask away so we can clear the misunderstanding, because it's really not what you think..."

"Yeah," Tao nodded very quickly, the paper towels in hand, "yeah, cool. Of course. I totally believe you. Bye."

"Wait, Tao..." Kris exclaimed, "Tao!"

"Your fucking cigarette..." Lu Han muttered on the floor while holding his nether regions, and the Economics graduate finally noticed the discarded stub with a jolt, picking it up after ensuring that the carpet hadn't suffered any damage.

A minute later, Jongin appeared from the Compliance department, an empty Tupperware in his hand. With a look of pure aversion, the lawyer momentarily stopped to stare at them, judging Kris next to the coffee machine, then Lu Han on the floor, and finally shook his head disapprovingly before tucking the plastic box back into a drawer near the fridge.

"I saw that," Lu Han grudgingly called from his spot on the carpet.

And as Jongin walked back out, he nodded before offering a complacent smile:

"I know you did." Then closed the door over Lu Han's frustrated groan.

"This is seriously the worst," Lu Han slouched over the nearest chair around the table of the meeting room, ignoring the unimpressed look that Sehun offered him as he lowered his forehead against the surface, and made all the thumbtacks in the younger intern's boxes jump. The English student immediately rolled his eyes and picked up a few that had rolled out of his grasp, before rearranging them neatly in their respective plastic containers.

"You bloody messed up my work."

"That's your work?" Lu Han muttered against the table, still feeling too sore in the southern regions to move further, "That? Rearranging staples?"

"My supervisor said to go and sort out the whole department's thumbtacks per colour, and not to return until I had finished."

"That's pathetic."

"Excuse you, you're pathetic," Sehun retorted without missing a beat, before sniffling disdainfully and extracting a red thumbtack out from the blue thumbtack box, "You look like someone who's just been beaten up in the streets by a ten years old."

"I'm having a...mediocre day," Lu Han sighed, remembering the smoke break incident with a painful wince.

"Why? What happened?"

"Oh. Nothing you should be concerned about," Lu Han grumbled incoherently before raising his head and looking down at his phone. Why was everyone so late to the meeting? "Just, you know, Kris being the absolute wanker that he is and Tao probably thinking that I am a creep now. Adding that douche with a broom up his ass, who had to make fun of me on top of everything else..."

"Who?" Sehun frowned.

"That dickhead, with a broom up his ass..."


"Exactly," Lu Han contemplated the Facebook application on his phone for a micro-second before yielding to his whims and popping it open. "Does that guy really have to act like an almighty lone wolf all the time? Seriously, the cold guy look is getting so out of fashion..."

"You know Jongin has his reasons for being aloof, don't you?" Sehun said somewhat defensively, making Lu Han tick, "his parents expect him to get the job for sure at the end of this internship, that's what he told me the other day. He's actually under a lot of pressure."

"Oh, I'm sorry," Lu Han feigned a contrite look, hands over his chest, "So the baby is under a lot of stress, which is why he behaves like a complete jerk towards his teammates, who are supposed to help him towards success, and that's completely normal?" the elder man snorted loudly and placed his phone down, "Please explain the logic to me, because I really don't get it."

"Look, I don't get it either..."

"Oh, great," Lu Han sat back and scratched his brow, "so now we're getting somewhere."

"Hey, I've only known him for like a week and a half, alright?" Sehun blinked in outrage, "I just know he's stressed because he told me so. But I'm not some kind of... heart doctor who can read all of his inner thoughts like an open book..."

"Psychologist." Lu Han corrected for him, "That's called a psychologist, and remind me why you study Psychology as part of your major?"

Sehun narrowed his eyes:

"Look, all I'm saying is that you can't judge people by their outward appearances and that Jongin is no exception," he sniffed, before almost pricking himself with a pink thumbtack, "that's what the Bible says. Judge not, because God is the..."

"Jesus Christ."

"Actually, no, Jesus Christ is God's son," Sehun stared at him. "I can't believe you don't even know that."

"I'm gone," Lu Han shook his head, throwing his hands up. He was ready to leave when Sehun reminded him with a curt nod that they still had a group meeting going on, and caused him to sit back down the beginning of another groan tickling his throat.

The elder intern tapped impatiently on the table for another five minutes, then eventually gave in:

"It's already quarter past, where the hell are they?"

He pulled his bonnet over his eyes while Sehun shrugged and went on tending to the yellow pin box.

"I don't know, Minseok was not at his desk when I left for our meeting...So I came down alone."

"Does Minseok get to rearrange thumbtacks as part of his job, too?" Lu Han sneered, then jolted when he felt his phone vibrate against his thigh. A quick look later, he was up on his feet again, grabbing his nametag with him.

"What?" Sehun looked up at him in confusion.

"We're in the wrong room," Lu Han shot back, "that's why they aren't coming."

With a silently mouthed 'Oh', Sehun rapidly gathered his thumbtacks boxes, almost dropping one in the process – which Lu Han caught with an extended hand – before hurrying behind the elder man as they both scuttled out of the erroneous meeting room.

"What were the odds of us two going to the same, wrong room, though?" Sehun mumbled as they darted through the corridor. And Lu Han turned around with a careless chuckle, before striding forward with his nametag flung insolently over his shoulder – ignorant of the mixed look of wonder and bemusement that Sehun was pitching from behind him. What seemed to be the source of the younger man's amazement was of little concern to him.

And — surprise update in the middle of the night because I can't seem to fall asleep. :^)

The "add oil" thing between Lu Han and Yixing is actually a thing that happened between Seliane and her roommate at the end of last semester, when everyone was getting stressed over finals. Both Seliane (I'm...just going to refer to you as I normally do, because calling you that feels really odd to me lol)/Jinhong and her roommate are Chinese and they both speak Mandarin (Standard Beijing dialect) as their first it's a linguistic joke, I guess you would call it.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2019, 12:08:03 AM by arielle »

Time to ask: did you get a grip on the truth? We are here to bring change to our world. Take a side, make it right—or get out of our way right now; you cannot stop us!

How many times did you look away when someone cried for help?—acting like you didn't know. We won't accept excuses without sincere actions; unmasking all you traitors!

Offline arielle

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Re: chacun voit midi à sa porte [⚜] writing storage
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2018, 01:26:47 AM »
Wah, thank you!!! ;w; I just like to write a lot, so I'm just thankful that people are willing to read it, haha.

Time to ask: did you get a grip on the truth? We are here to bring change to our world. Take a side, make it right—or get out of our way right now; you cannot stop us!

How many times did you look away when someone cried for help?—acting like you didn't know. We won't accept excuses without sincere actions; unmasking all you traitors!

Offline geminferno

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Re: chacun voit midi à sa porte [⚜] writing storage
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2018, 01:29:08 AM »
hsdkfh it's so good ;w; i'm i haven't finished reading all 3 chapters yet buuut so far i'm really enjoying it.
we’ll pretend we know all there is to know

Offline arielle

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Re: chacun voit midi à sa porte [⚜] writing storage
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2018, 03:39:42 PM »
Chapter Four of Interning: Fifty First Texts ❞

"Okay, now listen to me carefully: this is what you've got to be careful for the week according to your horoscope," Tao proclaimed, phone in hand and chopsticks in his mouth. "Aries: You are going to have some profound figuring out to do about yourself and those around you this week. Be ready to challenge your most unused and reclused neurones and be prepared to break stereotypes, but also make sure that you don't scare people off in the process with all your wild musings and romantic quests. Try to keep your feet on the ground before you start jumping head first into the ceiling - unless you want to pass for a complete freak'. Can you relate to any of this?"

Slumped against the wall next to his dorm's kitchen, Sehun did not budge, his face a blanket of unreadable void.

Tao blinked at him in mild worry: "Are you planning on sitting there for the rest of the evening? You've been doing that since we came in..."

"Um, I don't know."

"What do you mean, you don't know?"

"I just...need to think."

The younger man then brought his knees up to his chest, face crunched up in concentration, looking so deeply lost in his thoughts that Tao soon took him into pity. Leaning against the kitchen's doorframe, he eventually sighed and unrooted himself from his resting spot, to sit down next to the brooding intern.

"Okay. So, what's the matter?"

"Um. Well, I've been a little bothered by something lately," Sehun's eyebrows furrowed over blank eyes, as the intern scratched his nose. "Just a passing thought."

"Really." Tao snorted. "What thought?"

"'s just a random bugging thought."

"Yeah, but like, what thought?" the elder man rolled his eyes.

"Thoughts like...I don't know," Sehun mused dreamily, "Like if it means anything that you feel comfortable with someone even though you argue with them a lot; or...if it means anything that the two of you get the same sort of mental connection that you end up in the bloody same place at the same time without even meaning to...or...if for some reason, you bizarrely enjoy getting worked up because of that person, or..."

"Hold on, I got a text from Lu Han," Tao glanced down at his phone with a pout, not noticing how Sehun's head had shot up at that mention, "he tells us to enjoy making our "fucking cookies" while he's fighting off rats in his crappy flat," he chuckled, "So crude. Okay, yes, sorry about that...Continue? You end up in the same place at the same time and...?"

To his surprise, Sehun simply stared at him in intense silence, pulling a worried frown out of him.


"Tao, you know I'm a practicing Christian, right?" the Oxford student stammered.

"Yeah, I know you're Christian and that your family goes to church every Sunday when you're in Cambridge, you told us last week," Tao cocked an eyebrow. "So what?"

"So uh...since we started the internship, I've been kind of troubled, because...uh, because..." he paused with a frown. "Uhhh..."

"God's sake, you need to be more articulate-"

"Because I've beenthinkingaboutstuffthat'snotverytextbookChristian," Sehun hammered it down in one breath. "Did you understand me?"

Instantly, Tao drew back to peer at him critically from over his cavernous eye bags.

"Yes," he said. "Yes, God knows how I did, but yes, and - uh, what, are you into zoophilia? BDSM?"

"What?" Sehun pulled back with a distraught face, "Bloody hell, no, I'm not- I'm-" he then bit down on his lip and straightened his legs with a discouraged roll of his eyes. "Zoophilia and BDSM?"

"I don't know, sounded like a possibility to me," the Chinese intern shrugged.

"How could it sound like a possibility to-?" The younger man heatedly shook his head: "You know what, never mind. Forget I said anything."

"No, by all means, continue, I think you should get it out." Tao glanced at his nails.

"No, it's really not important. Forget it."

"Are you sure?"

"No, but," Sehun exhaled despondently again, "never mind."

At the same time, the dorm's door was flung open.

"We are back with the cookie material!" Yixing chanted cheerfully as he walked into Sehun's dorm, with an overloaded Kris stumbling behind him. Tao smiled at them as they headed for the kitchen to place the plastic bags down.

"Where's Baek?" Kris asked in between two huffs.

"Said he'll be over later," Tao explained, "staying over time because Chanyeol's helping him with IT."

"Well, that's interesting," Yixing smiled knowingly and took off his fluffy jacket before disappearing into the kitchen.

Tao turned to look back at Sehun, who had taken a deep breath and was now gazing straight back at him with an expression that screamed fear and confusion at the same time:

"Do you think there's any chance that Lu Han's gay?" the younger intern soon spewed the question out like a bulldozer.

And Tao blinked, staring with his mouth half-open, wondering if his sense of hearing had not just failed him.

"What?" he spat.

"What?" Kris and Yixing poked their heads through the door.

"What?" Sehun faltered.

"Did you just ask if Lu Han was gay?" the eldest intern asked with an air of disbelief.

Sehun instantly tried to assume a nonchalant tone:

"No. I...I just asked whether there was a chance."

"Oh. Did Lu Han make inappropriate advances on you?" Yixing interrogated with narrowed eyes, patting his purple pants. "I didn't think he'd have a thing for underage kids."

"No," the youngest intern denied resolutely, shaking his head, "no, he didn't. Actually, he didn't do anything at all. And I'm not underage-"

"I thought you two could barely spend two minutes together without bickering with each other," Kris narrowed his eyes.

"Y-yes, that's correct," Sehun stuttered, "but, you know, out of curiosity..."

"Oh my God, I get it." Yixing suddenly murmured, and Tao nodded slowly like he did, too. The other intern simply shook his head so fast his neck almost snapped:

"No, you don't," he let out an uneasy laugh, "You bloody don't, it's not what you think."

"Oh, Sehun..."

"No, no, it's not that." Sehun backtracked. "You are really mistaken. It's..."

"Sehun. You're interested in him," Yixing exclaimed.

The statement was like a trump card thrown wildly onto the table, causing the youngest intern to gape with his hands lifted in mid-air, frozen in their attempt to dismiss the preposterous idea. As soon as Yixing had chucked the first bomb, however, Kris followed suit with a distrustful glower:

"You're starting to fall for Lu Han?" he asked in disbelief. "Lu fucking Han?"

"No," the younger man woke up from his daze and instantly repudiated. "No, I haven't. I'm not..."

"You are seriously falling for Lu Han," Tao emitted through an unimpressed frown, and it was more of a flat statement than a question.

In front of him, Sehun wavered, floundering like a carp out of water, while Yixing smiled with an exaggeratedly fond smile:

"That's really adorable."

"I haven't fallen for him. I was just wondering..."

"Hold on, this is too sweet, my cavities are acting up," the McGill graduate simply announced before vanishing into the kitchen again. Kris followed him after throwing Sehun one last look of incredulity, while Tao crossed his arms and watched him in unhidden scepticism:

"Really?" he started, more quietly now, "Lu Han. Since when? He's four years older than you and you're barely twenty."

"I know how old he is," Sehun frowned.

"But seriously, that is like asking for your heart to be broken...if you want to know what I think, that is."

"Um, then I don't want to know what you think," Sehun muttered, bringing one knee up to his chest, before flicking some hair away from his eyes with flippancy, "Besides, um, it's not like I have a crush on him or anything like that, I was just wondering about it because he looked like he might swing the other way and it pricked my curiosity..."

"Don't even try," Kris remarked flatly while peeking through the door.

"Look, if it's about his sexuality," Tao said after heaving a sigh, "you can always ask Chanyeol to tell you. He's got everyone's Equal Opportunities Form."

Sehun's head whipped back with a yelp:


"I'm serious," the Chinese intern nodded, "just ask him."

"How the heck does Chanyeol have access to our Equal Opportunities Forms?"

"Hacked into the firm's system and retrieved them from the HR department's files," the elder man shrugged before rolling his eyes. "Retired hacker, my ass, but anyways. That's basically what happened."

"My guess is that he was somewhat curious about somebody else's sexuality himself," Yixing winked as he came out with a bowl full of eggs, flour and melted butter. "Not insinuating anything or pointing at anyone, but..."

"Did you guys all have a look at it?" Sehun gawked.

"Sure, we did," Kris stepped behind Yixing with a sloppily made hot dog. "Just don't remember everything."

"I know Jongin wrote down that he was homosexual," Yixing listed while beating the splotchy mix in his arms, "so did Kyungsoo and Baekhyun. Jongdae wrote that he was straight. Now, our Yifan, here..."

"I think I put myself down as bi," the said intern shrugged, "what about you?"

"I believe I wrote down that I was bisexual as well," Yixing scratched his nose with the end of the egg batter, "if I remember well, that is. But you can check the form. I look pretty bisexual though, don't I?"

"What do you mean, you look bisexual?" Kris seemed vaguely sceptical.

"Like, I don't know, I just give off a specific vibe, don't you think? It's like Tao, for example..."

"Tao's just Guccisexual."

"Excuse you," Tao furrowed his eyebrows at once, before sniffling, "Actually, I put myself down as ‘prefer not to disclose' because I believe it's a gross under-representation of reality to be limited to heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual as the only sexualities available on the form."

"Yeah, but let's face it, he's Guccisexual," Kris tilted his head after taking another bite of his hot dog.

Short of anything better, Tao offered him his middle finger.

"I put myself down as heterosexual," Sehun suddenly stammered, "I mean...I always thought I was, anyways. I've never liked a guy before."

"Ohh, I see," Yixing nodded and threw a soft smile in Kris's direction, "He's Luhansexual."

"Lu Han," Tao finally raised his voice after taking a deep breath of despondency, "put himself down as bi, if you really want to know."

Sehun's gaze shifted straight towards him with the start of a weird smile. "Really?"


Tao then stared at him with an apologetic look:

"He also told me he's interested in Minseok, though."

Baekhyun walked into Sehun's flat a little bit after nine, throwing his jacked onto the nearest kitchen chair.

"Hey, how's the baking going?"

"Great," Yixing smiled from over his shoulder while Kris and Tao emptied the trashcan, "you came just in time for the first batch, actually."

"Really? That's awesome," Baekhyun grinned, before noticing a shapeless mass slumped over three aligned chairs, in a corner of the kitchen, which – upon closer inspection – revealed itself to be a curled up Sehun staring vacantly at the wall.

"Um... is he alright?" Baekhyun pointed at him and Yixing took a glance from his spot in front of the oven.

"Oh yeah, he is," he nodded, "just leave him for now, he needs some time alone."

"What happened to him?" the Columbia graduate frowned.

"Oh, the baby's just lovesick," Yixing hummed affectionately. "Don't worry. It's going to be okay."

When he was around six years old, Kyungsoo's old geezer of a grandfather had sat him atop the living room table and given him the worst dressing down he did not deserve.

"The day will come, when you have to choose between being an asshole and a better person...!" the wrinkled old tree had thundered while spanking his grandson for absolutely no valid reason at all. Granted, Kyungsoo had just dealt a massively tear-jerking blow of the family mop in between his elder brother's legs, but really, Seungsoo had always been too much of an easy crier anyway. What a sissy, that older brother; he always said at the dinner table while said older brother shot him one of his meanest glare (which in effect was not very mean at all). And with that, the family life carried on.

To this day, Kyungsoo was still of the firm belief that their grandfather had overreacted by a heap, that day in the living room.

"Yes, but that's why you're an asshole and not a better person," Seungsoo told him sternly on the phone while Kyungsoo made himself a drink in the flat's kitchen.

The younger sibling rolled his eyes and snorted without heat:

"Whatever that means, anyway," he closed the fridge and peered at their empty carton of milk whilst keeping his mobile balanced between shoulder and cheek, "Plus, you were the one who touched my Gameboy without permission that time so you were totally looking for it."

"I wasn't looking for physical pain."

"Joonmyun, you finished the damn milk again," Kyungsoo bellowed without replying, momentarily lowering the phone away from his ear.

"I know, I know," came Jonmyun's apologetic voice from the living, accompanied by a small yelp of worry, "Um, I'll get a new carton tomorrow evening, I promise."

There was a silence at the other end of the line, during which Kyungsoo crumpled the plastic container and tossed it into the bin. Then, Seungsoo was interrogating him once again, in a brighter tone this time:

"How's the internship going?"

"Not bad," the Harvard graduate answered flatly, "the analyst part of it is easy enough. It's the rest that's a mess."

"Heard about you guys and your ‘team activities'...Teamwork's never been your forte. You could never spin the skipping rope for me."

"No, that was just you not knowing how to jump – there's a team-building exercise coming up this week-end, which is kind of ridiculous." Kyungsoo pursed his lips as he thought of the upcoming Dragon Boat race, and poured boiling water into his mug. "I signed up for a consultancy internship, not a fucking sports team of twelve, but anyways..."

"I thought you said there were only ten jobs available?" his brother sounded confused.

"There are. So basically, if your team does well, only two of you get chosen for the job. This said, we're still against all the other teams together, for the race."

"So...wait. Are these teams of yours your partners, then? Or your competitors?"

Kyungsoo dimly asked himself the exact same question every day. But, rolling his sore shoulders, he simply dropped two pills of vitamins into his mug and stirred the drink with a spoon as he sighed:

"I really need to sleep right now. We've been chatting for too long, you're eating away my free minutes."

"Glad to see I'm always loved, little brother."

"Just call me another day, yeah?" Kyungsoo yawned. "I'm dying."

"Alright, goodnight. But don't forget to call mum tomorrow, or when you have time, you haven't given her any news of you in ages. Okay?"

"She knows I'm alive, and I just left two weeks ago, what is she worried about," Kyungsoo started, then noticed that his brother had already hung up. "Seungsoo?" he tried, "Seung...whatever." He shook his head with exasperation and pocketed the phone.

He then picked up his mug in both hands, before leaving the kitchen and walking back to his room, momentarily pausing in front of the living to give his flatmate a passing nod:

"Good night, Joonmyun."

"Good night, Kyungsoo," the elder intern replied from his spot near the coffee table, where he was still bent over some unfinished material – even though it was already nearing one o'clock, "Sleep tight tonight. Keep your windows shut and don't let the monsters under the bed get you."

Kyungsoo was about to close the door when he halted to give his flatmate a stare:

"You really need to do something about that mother hen problem of yours," he said.

"I know, I know," Joonmyun sighed without raising his head. "Good night, ‘soo."

"'Mmm, good night."

The younger intern retreated into his bedroom, shutting the door behind him before placing his mug of water on the night desk. He then slipped under the covers and set up an alarm on his phone, when an unread message suddenly caught his attention on the little screen.

An unopened text... from Kim Jongin.

Kyungsoo's eyebrows fused into a single line as he hastily tapped on the message with his finger, letting the words flash before his destabilized and anxious face.

"hey. any update for me before our new team meeting?"

It was a fortunate thing that Mother Nature had made Do Kyungsoo resistant to any sort of expressive emotion. Yes, the Do Kyungsoo rarely blushed. The Do Kyungsoo, in its natural habitat, never waffled over a relationship, or got hung up over small, insignificant things. But somehow, today, in front of this measly text of 40 alphabetical letters and two punctuation marks with no emoticon whatsoever, Do Kyungsoo also found that he needed all his might to keep his heart from setting off into a wild cattle stampede. A laughable prospect, truly, because this was just a very plain, damn text with no underlying meaning, no. Jongin worked alone in Compliance, he needed someone to update him on what the rest of the team was up to when he wasn't around, that was all. And that was what they'd agreed on.

Kyungsoo inhaled sharply, puffed out his chest, and typed up quickly:

"No. nothin."

...then clicked send, and tried to get some sleep.

Unable to fall asleep, like so many nights before and so many nights to come, Jongin had lied in bed for something like an hour already when he finally gave in and snatched his phone, deciding for the umpteenth time to solve his insomnia by scrolling through his work emails in the hope that they would bore him to sleep.

Today, the infinite slope of mundaneness was going well. There was an inbox from Chanyeol, asking him whether he'd be free to meet up for a group dinner Thursday "because Friday we're leavnig for the dragon boat camp place so we wont have time" and a few down the list, an email from Lu Han's work mail, with a simple "answer the damn thread you git" written in it. Jongin yawned. Then his eyes fell upon an email from Kyungsoo, detailing in a few concise lines what the group had done on Saturday last at Chanyeol's house.

"We boozed, watched Frozen, split into a mahjong group and a cookie baking group. Tao got very drunk. I think Yixing took something, but no one dared to ask because they thought it would have been rude, go figure... Anyways, Jongdae was completely indecipherable by ten o'clock.

You didn't miss much, basically."

A small smile tugged at Jongin's lips and he unconsciously found himself going to his texts, about to compose a message for the elder intern when he realised he'd pretty much never done that before and there wasn't anything for them to talk about.

The impulse was a little odd, to say the least. Jongin wasn't ashamed of admitting to himself that he was on the shy side, especially for anything related to relationships. He wasn't the brash, engaging type. If anything, he wasn't the type to take any sort of initiative at all...The only time he'd done so was in second year, for that dance society show he'd participated in.

But it was also one o'clock and he had nothing to lose.

He keyed in a message and swiftly pressed send, surprised to hear the bleeping of his phone a mere five minutes later, accompanied by a simple:

"No. nothin."

Kyungsoo turned his head at the buzzing sound next to his pillow, breath hitching slightly as he saw Jongin's name flash up on his iPhone screen once more.

"oh. are you coming for dinner on thursday then?"

He frowned, momentarily racking his memory before writing a reply.

"whats that?"

"chanyeol's invitation. I received it in my work mail today"

"oh. right"

"so...are you coming?"

Kyungsoo peered at the blue glow of his phone screen for a long time.

"I think so I dont see why not. Thats just 1 day before the dragon boat race no?"

"yes, it not looking forward to that (╥_╥)"

Kyungsoo squinted at the sobbing emoji for longer than he should, lips twitching unconsciously as he typed.

"why not?"

"ehh... sports. camping. team building and all that..."

"thats the whole point of the event, u idiot"

"ha ha. I suppose so"

"you look like the athletic type tho... I think you'd survive the paddling better than me, tbh"

"aww you're being too modest (*≧∀≦*)(❁´▽`❁)*✲゚*ヾ(๑╹ꇴ◠๑)ノ"

Again, Kyungsoo stared, wondering how someone who looked so cold in appearance could sound like an excitable stray puppy through typed up words. He left the text unanswered for an indeterminate while, when suddenly, a new buzz called him back to earth, making him lift up the phone to his face once again.

"by the way...r you free for dinner next week? like after work, on wednesday for example (๑´ㅂ`๑)"

He cocked an eyebrow.

"you want to meet up with the group?"

"no... I meant, just you and me"

Kyungsoo slapped a hand over his mouth in silence.

With his arm suddenly weighing like a two hundred tons bloc of concrete, he lowered his phone to his duvet, then, just to make sure he had read it correctly, snatched it back up and let his gaze travel over the words once more with narrowed eyes, before dropping the device altogether and watching the ceiling above with a vacant frown.


"What?" he said aloud.

Dinner, it said. Dinner, just the two of them. In a restaurant, Jongin and him , after work.

Kyungsoo wasn't very sure, but that sounded awfully like a date, for some reason.

Vaguely realising that he needed to reply something soon, he then picked up the device again and started typing a response, only to bite down on his lips and put it down before shifting onto his side and studying the little crack on his bedroom wall. He scrutinized the text for the third time, dissecting it word by word, eyes contracted into two slits of confusion and vague distrust.

After all, why not? Jongin wasn't really a bad guy. He looked cold on the outside and distant and altogether hard to read, but he didn't seem like an actual bastard – not in the way Lu Han made him out to be. Not to mention, his texts were unexpectedly sugary and bashful... like there was another Jongin behind the façade, a warm and affectionate one, with lots of smileys and expressive faces. Kyungsoo started keying in his reply with fumbling hands:

"I would really like that"

He then deleted the whole text, shook his head and shifted onto his back, lifting the phone in the air:

"that would be lovely, yes"

"No, no," he furiously pressed on the delete button and knocked the phone against his forehead. Too stiff.

"actually, that doesnt sound like a terrible idea"

Too cold. He glowered. Started again.

"yes of course! where?"

Too eager.

Kyungsoo deleted the message for the fourth time and buried his face into his pillow before biting his lips, and lying onto his back again, spreading his limbs like a starfish. He stared at the ceiling for an unseemly long time, then eventually thought that this reaction was absolutely preposterous and propped himself up on his elbows once more, raising his phone with a little sigh.

"Alright, then," he whispered.

Jongin jerked up at the sound of his phone bleeping next to him and immediately snatched it, heart beating furiously against his ribcage as he saw the new unread text from Do Kyungsoo. He swiped it open and read.


Jongin blinked, staring at the letter blankly for a moment. Then, eventually, he chortled, and rolled onto his back with the phone brought down to his chest, laughing silently into his hand. Insomnia had grown new charms of its own, all of a sudden.

Two nights later, Kris received a text from Yixing at two in the morning, the buzzing of his phone yanking him out of his dreams with a violent jolt. As he opened the message, capital letters immediately glared at him in the screen light, causing his heart to sink in his chest:


Kris tumbled down the three floors separating him from the other intern's dorm, knocking loudly on Yixing's door in his pyjamas and slippers.

"Yixing, are you alright?!"

The younger man opened the door after the fourteenth knock, wearing a towel on his head as a turban, and a moustache t-shirt.

"What's the matter?" Kris panted as the other man ushered him in.

Yixing then pointed out of his half-opened window, or rather, at the huge oak tree erected right outside his window, and turned to gaze back at him in all seriousness.

"There's a kitten stuck on the tree outside."

Kris stared at the window blankly, still struggling to catch his breath, his jaw dropped open in dismay. He then turned to look at Yixing:


"I said-"

"No. I mean, are you serious?" the Economics graduate deadpanned, pointing at the half-opened window. "A cat. You called me down at two in the morning for a fucking cat in a tree?"

"A kitten, Yifan," the other man corrected, "It's a cat, but like in baby version."

"I know what a kitten is, fuck. I also know that it's fucking two in the morning and that I was trying to get my beauty sleep."

"Your beauty sleep can wait, that kitten can't. Yifan." Yixing cried out and opened his palms, wide-eyed, "You can't be heartless enough to leave that poor little thing alone on his branch for an entire night, can you? Where's your sense of humanity?"

"I don't know where it is, maybe I left it over my pillow because, oh wait, I was trying to sleep." Kris shrugged. "Why did you call me down here?" he pulled an incredulous face, mixed with intense suspicion when he suddenly noticed that Yixing had his bed sheets tied around his waist, the rest of it trailing behind him like a gigantic tail. "Why are you...dressed like that?"

"Hold this," the younger man handed him the ending bit of the fabric, and then pushed the window completely open.

Kris jumped up after him:

"What the fuck are you doing?!"

"Well, I'm climbing out of the room through this branch over here while you hold onto the end of my bed sheets, and then I'm sliding around the trunk, climbing onto that branch over there, so that I can reach this kitten and..."

"Wait, wait, wait," Kris grabbed his arm and dragged him back. "Fuck the cat. You're not going anywhere."


"Kitten, dog, whatever. You're not climbing onto a tree, Yixing. Are you fucking mental?"

"But just look at it," Yixing stressed while pointing at the tiny striped ball of fur mewling on a particularly scrawny branch of the oak tree. "Have you seen those big sad eyes full of anguish? Have you seen the despair in those golden irises, the bottomless fear? It's putting all its hopes on us, Yifan; we can't let it down now... Not now, not ever!"

"Cut the crap," Kris looked upwards. "Listen up, you drama queen, you're not climbing over there with just bed sheets as a safety chord, okay? That's absolute madness."

"There are bushes underneath if I fall, and it's the second floor."

"Fucking hell," the other intern passed a hand over his face, "why am I here."

"Look, I just need you to hold..."

"No, no, no, stay here." he cringed, "let's call the reception to get the cat down, or something."

"It's two in the morning," Yixing simply said.

"Jesus," Kris started, then forcefully yanked Yixing back into the bedroom when the younger man tried to pass one leg over the windowsill.

He stared into the other intern's eyes for another moment, then ran a hand through his hair and inhaled sharply:

"Pass me the bed sheets," he ordered, and the younger man simply blinked at him, "I'm not having you die on me if you fall down from here, I don't want to have a colleague's murder on my hands."

"Technically, it'd be more of an accident than a murd..."

"Shut up," Kris commanded and abruptly unknotted the sheets around Yixing's waist under the man's shocked exclamation. He then tied them over his own stomach and headed for the window before the other intern could stop him: "Bloody fuck, I can't believe we're doing this."


The other man ignored the call, kicking off his rabbit slippers into a corner, and crawling over the windowsill with a mumble of exasperation:

"Just hold on tight and don't let me die, okay?" Kris told him as he clambered onto the first branch, only to let out a loud yell: "fuck this fuckity fuck – it's slippery."

"It rained this evening," Yixing told him, fists clenched around the end of the immaculate sheets.

"You are a crazy, crazy man, you know that?" Kris barked over his shoulder as he scrambled his way forward. The kitten stared at him with a tiny mewl. "Jesus Christ."

"It's looking at you like you're a hero," Yixing called from behind him with a smile.

"I don't fucking care."

Kris grabbed onto the oak tree's trunk, and slowly pulled himself to his feet, knowing that his legs were shaking furiously beneath him as he looked for a way to glide to the other side of the tree.

"Fuck," he mumbled. "ooh, fuck."

This was a terrible idea.

The kitten mewled again, and Kris rolled his eyes at it:

"Yes I know," he muttered under his breath, "just hang on, kitty. Just hang on."

"There's a bigger branch over there," Yixing pointed at a protrusion on Kris's left with one hand.

"Too far," Kris replied, legs quaking violently, nudged himself to the right, and immediately had to grab onto the trunk for dear life as his feet suddenly slipped into thin air. Using the momentum of the slide, he swung over from Yixing's side of the oak to the opposite side, feeling the bed sheets tightening around his midriff, and then mounted himself onto the same branch as the stranded cat, who looked at him curiously, like he was a bloody hell of a spectacle – and frankly speaking, Kris thought he probably was.

Kris pulled himself forward, inch by inch, feeling his arms shake violently as he reached out. The kitten was only a few centimetres away now.

"Just a little more," he grumbled. "Just a fucking little..."

"Yifan," Yixing shouted, "Yifan, um...!"

"Shut up, I'm concentrating."

"No, Yifan, you don't understand, it's the..."

Kris's hands closed around the furry animal just before he heard the branch crack underneath him.

"...branch," Yixing finished.

"Fuck," Kris yelled. And the next second he was free-falling with the cat in his arms, feeling it scratch at his face as he screamed his head off and plummeted towards the bushes below. A sharp tug against his stomach then broke the fall, taking all the breath away from his lungs... followed by a dreadful noise of fabric tearing into two, and there he was, falling again, plunging face first into the shrubberies below like a mishandled sack of potatoes, landing in a symphony of rustling leaves and broken twigs and angry feline shrieks.


He heard the window close above him. Then, Yixing was out in the courtyard within five minutes, running up to him and retrieving him from the flattened bushes with a half-awed look on his face:

"You alright?" the younger man smiled as soon as he saw that he was alive.

Kris coughed his lungs out, then grudgingly opened one eye:


"You were very gracious in your fall," Yixing commented, "I thought I was seeing an angel diving into the courtyard, if you want to know."

"You're a crazy man," Kris simply groaned through the pain in his abdomen, and the kitten soon squirmed itself free from his grasp, scampering away. "You're a crazy man, Zhang Yixing, remind me why I put up with your crazy whims?"

Yixing beamed quietly at him, extending a hand for him to stand up.

"Because you are a superhero," he said with an amused wink.

I'm really sorry, Kris, lol.

Time to ask: did you get a grip on the truth? We are here to bring change to our world. Take a side, make it right—or get out of our way right now; you cannot stop us!

How many times did you look away when someone cried for help?—acting like you didn't know. We won't accept excuses without sincere actions; unmasking all you traitors!