It helps, I’ve found, to know ones surroundings in order to gain a better understanding of how life is run when moving house. Well, when I say ‘house’, I mean the dorms at university. They were tiny spaces with a bed and desk crammed into a square of three by three meters so they really couldn’t be counted as dorms either. Let’s settle with a prison cell. The cold grey paint really enforced that thought to a point which I implored my mum to let me stay at home during my three years at university. At least until they changed the colour of the walls.
“Have a nice time. See you, deer,” she’d said before making a hasty retreat.
She shouldn’t count on me visiting. Plus, she used that freakin’ pun!
Anyway, each building had three floors. I was on the bottom floor because heights make my stomach churn and my already pale skin go ghostly white. Each floor had this ridiculously long hall that had twelve cells running down either side. At night, when everyone was heading off to bed, it became a battle of push and shove to get to bed first.
So far I’d only talked to a few fellow students. These included a boazi and a unicorn.
They were nice enough…
The boazi liked eating boazis so I’m worried he’s a cannibal though he looked too adorable to participate in such an act as eating one’s own kind. He had these chubby cheeks and eyes that slanted upwards like a cat’s. But he widened them in surprise or when he was interested in things so he more resembled a kitten. His not name was Xiumin for reasons unknown.
The unicorn. Well, he was a Chinese unicorn, which apparently made him all that more special. His name was Lay which made me hungry whenever I talked to him. Thankfully that never happened much.
We were supposedly going to be sharing rooms but they were much too small for that. Thank God! I might have gotten stuck with those two.
I looked up from reading on my bed. “Yes?”
The guy at the door blinked a few times. “Sorry. I just- I didn’t realize this particular building accommodated both genders.” He had a very baggy jumper on that threatened to fall off his shoulders at any given moment and these puppy-dog eyes that drooped down. They seemed to be lined with some sort of black…Wait. Was that eyeliner?
“For your information,” I began through gritted teeth. “My name is Xiao Luhan, I’m twenty years of age and I’m most definitely male. If you cannot see the obvious difference in anatomy then I am offended just by the fact that you implied that I have breasts!” I was standing up and, to my satisfaction, I found myself to be taller than the other.
He took a step back from the door with a nervous smile. “I was going to ask you for some spare paper.”
“Well, you’ll have to go somewhere else,” I replied coldly. “I need it to write in my obviously girly diary that today some person called me a female.”
It really did occur to me that I was making a bigger deal of it than I should, but I’m stubborn and stubborn people never give up. I watched the shorter flounder for words. His face was going a deep shade of red.
“Everything all right Bacon?” a second head popped into view. The new arrival was probably the owner of ‘Bacon’s’ jumper, standing at one hundred and eighty centimetres at least. His ears stuck out of his curly brown hair giving him an elfish quality.
Bacon bowed his head sheepishly. “Chanyeol, I called this new student a girl. I think I may have said the wrong thing.”
Chanyeol wandered into the room and peered closely at me. Another strange one. “If you look close enough you can tell he’s male. Other than that, I can see why you made that mistake. It’s alright, Bacon. What’s done is done and we cannot change that. Now, friend, how about some paper? We need it to write this stupid Biological science essay.”
I sighed and chucked a few pieces in their direction. “There. Can you please leave now?”
Apparently neither heard me because this Chanyeol person stepped even closer and held out a hand as if wanting to shake mine. I didn’t oblige. He held the paper to his chest tightly, as if he was worried I’d snatch it back. “My name’s Park Chanyeol. Or Channie! Or Derpyeol, but I don’t like that as much.”
“What about Eggyeol?” Bacon joked.
“That too. We’re the ‘breakfast couple’ you see. Me and Bacon. We’re not actually gay but we’ve been best friends forever and we always seem to go everywhere together so people assume we’re dating,” Chanyeol explained.
“My actual name’s Baekhyun. Byun Baekhyun. I also respond to Baekkie, or Bacon. People think I’m the more feminine person in me and Channie’s non-existent romantic relationship just because I wear eyeliner. I beat him in arm-wrestling so don’t think that too. Got that?” Baekhyun said.
I nodded quickly. This was getting really uncomfortable.
“What about yourself?” Chanyeol asked.
Baekhyun elbowed him in the ribs. “He’s already said stuff.”
“But I wasn’t here to hear him,” Chanyeol whined. “Can’t he say it all again?”
I scowled. I couldn’t believe these were university-students. Second years at that. The badges they wore said so, but I seriously doubted they were older than me by the way they were acting. “If I must… My name’s Luhan and my nicknames include: Marilyn Monroe (call me that and I’ll shoot you), Deerhan (my mum calls me that so I’d rather you didn’t), Lulu (that’s just embarrassing) and ‘Hannie.”
“Cool! Correct tone is Lùhán isn’t it?” Baekhyun grinned. “Will we see you tomorrow, Luhan?”
I gave him a disparaging look. “We live in the same building so obviously not.” His accent was terrible also.
Chanyeol frowned. “That’s sad. See you soon then, Luhan.”
Then he and Baekhyun left.
They closed the door.
There was a pause as I appreciated their stupidity.
Then I banged my head against the table so hard I woke up on the floor an hour later with two faces I’d rather not have awoken to peering at me from above.
“Luhan, do you need my healing hands?” Lay wriggled his fingers at me like they possessed magical properties.
I hadn’t heard him and Xiumin walk in but they were looking down at me from my spot on the carpet with impatience written all over them so I guessed that they’d been waiting a while. My brain was still fuzzy and I had a splitting headache so I shrugged.
Taking that as a yes, Lay bent down and waved his hands over my face.
“Get off,” I demanded, shoving the unicorn in the chest.
He laughed, showing off his ‘unicorn’ dimple. “Coming to our first dinner at the cafeteria? I was planning on sticking to grass myself but you guys can eat whatever you want. Two days here and I’ve already found this really green spot down by that massive tree. You know the one by the library with the face shape in the trunk?” You could basically see the drool forming in his mouth.
I stood and made a disgusted grunt before throwing on an old jumper and falling back down again. “Damn,” I hissed. “Must have damaged myself more than I thought.”
“Oh it’s not damage, Luhan,” Xiumin said wistfully while he munched happily on his steamed buns. “It’s just side effects from Lay’s healing. It always happens. Just last week, he helped some girl who twisted their ankle while trying to run up the stairs because they were late to class. Next thing they knew, they were really disorientated. It’s most likely caused by the body healing-”
“That girl?” I twitched. “That was me. Xiumin.”
Xiumin’s brow furrowed. “So it was!”
“What Xiumin said still goes though,” Lay reasoned. “I mean, you remember how you ran into that pole straight afterward. It’s the body using up your energy on healing itself. I simply speed up the process.”
When walking through a crowded campus it’s hard to glance despairingly at your friends. Especially if you’re walking three abreast. Somehow I managed it while rubbing my forehead. That pole had really hurt and thinking about it wasn’t helping my headache. I couldn’t believe that Lay believed that stupid story. If he was an actual unicorn trapped in a human’s body then I was a one eyed, one horned flying purple people eater called Bruce. Call me mean if you like. I just haven’t been brought up to believe in such things. Maybe Lay had been brain washed as a child.
The cafeteria was warmer than outside. It had tables and chairs pushed up to one side and a huge line of students snaking away from a very busy counter. The smell of ramen made me wish I’d gone home for dinner. Mum’s Pick-Me-Up-For-Deers-Ramen was to die for. Quite literally. I had pneumonia last time I had it.
“God, if I hadn’t brought my boazis to tide me over. I haven’t had breakfast. Or dinner last night. Studying for a mini test coming up,” Xiumin said in relief.
Lay placed a comforting hand on his friend’s shoulder. “You should invite us to your dorm tonight. We can all suffer the torture of study together. How about it Luhan?”
“You can’t be serious…” I trailed off as Xiumin tugged on my sleeve. He was older than me for goodness sakes…but… he had to find independence…a-an independence for working alone…but then again…“I’ll be there. What time?”
Oh God help me.
“Eight.” Xiumin decided.
I shuffled forward a few spaces, grabbed a tray, and turned back. “You guys owe me one,” I said.
“Why?” Lay complained. He wriggled his fingers as if to say: “Hello! I healed you before did I not?
“Alright. Just Xiumin then. I have other stuff I need to do tonight,” I lied.
“Like texting and doing nothing?” Xiumin said skeptically.
“No. Like other stuff. I can’t study with noise.”
“Whether this comes as a surprise or not I don’t care. I’m actually a very quiet person when not around others.”
“That’s crap,” I pointed out.
“So is your excuse.”
I was glad that the line became so hectic that our conversation ended there. Otherwise I may just have gotten into a spot of trouble.
That, however, was the least of my ever growing amount of problems. When one is lucky enough to get their desired dinner their next task is to find a place to sit.
We wandered around for a bit, desperately searching for a spare seat. It turns out everyone in the cafeteria were all selfish and didn’t move their bags from next to them. The only spot were next to that insufferable ‘breakfast couple’. First impressions were evidentially something they didn’t excel at. Not that I’m much better myself…but that’s not the point.
Baekhyun swallowed hurriedly when he saw me and Lay and Xiumin walking towards them. He scooted over a bit and smiled. It was a funny rectangle shape. “LUHAN!” he announce excitedly. “I thought we weren’t gonna see you again for ages!”
“Yeah…” I said.
If it were even possible, there was an even shorter guy sitting by Chanyeol. He had these wide eyes that really kind of creeped me out and an aura around him that implied he’d rather not be there. Perhaps he was in the same position as me.
“This is Do Kyungsoo. Second year like me and Bacon. Umma-Soo, Satan-Soo, D.O, anything ending with Soo really,” Chanyeol said. “If Satan-Soo comes along, I advise you run for your life. Spare no one else’s. Every man for himself. You get the gist?”
“I’m the S.S.S,” Kyungsoo added. “The Squishy Spawn of Satan. My aegyo is terrible though, but Chanyeol’s most likely right. I get pretty bad sometimes.”
“Well, er, this is Lay and Xiumin. Can we sit here with you?” I didn’t plan on elaborating any further. My hungry stomach was growling so much I’d swear a dog with throat issues was nearby. Was it like a tradition to list the nicknames of someone when introducing them?
“Sure!” Baekhyun shifted so far that he was falling off the edge. He didn’t seem to mind though. He seemed happy to be doing me a favour. I couldn’t help but feel bad about how I treated him earlier. Both of them.
I folded my jumper and placed it on my lap before digging into my meal.
“They wouldn’t let me bring grass in,” Lay mumbled miserably.
I ignored him and continued eating.
“Luhan. I can’t bring myself to eat the fish. Fish are my friend,” Lay continued.
I buried my face in my bowl of soup.
“So what do you think I should do?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
“Do you think-”
“No. I don’t think!”
“Oh. That’s sad. You have my deepest sympathies.”
“Gee. I feel so much better.”
“It was a joke. You realize that. Right?”
“No. I didn’t.”
“Poor Luhan is a bit slow.”
I hung my head and contemplated drowning myself right then and there with my short soup.