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Lost In Your Orbit

Chapter Text

The boy sitting on Sehun’s windowsill is kind of scaring him.

Sehun stares.

The boy stares back.

Inching off his bed, he precautiously makes his way to the thick silk curtains, reaching a trembling hand out to press fleeting fingers to the frosty glass. The boy jerks suddenly, startling Sehun and sending him skittering back a couple steps.

He keeps his face carefully blank as he throws open the window in a couple movements. The boy falls into the room, spattering mud and who knows what on Sehun’s clean walls as he lands unceremoniously on the hardwood floor.

The soft yellow light washes over the boys features and Sehun finally gets a good look. A mess of fluid tan skin and heavy lidded eyes sits on his floor, disoriented and whipping his head back and forth.

“I- huh?” The boy asks, eyes finally stopping on Sehun, in his plaid pajama pants and grey pullover. Sehun crosses his arms firmly over his chest, trying to hide his fear, and asks in the coldest voice he can, “Who are you? Why were you at my window?”

The guy’s dilated eyes focus and he sucks in a sharp breath. His black clothing is torn up and has spikes and studs all over, eyes rimmed in black like the girls who sit in the back of Sehun’s art class, mouth swollen and shiny with something pinkish. Sehun’s mind screams dangerous as he gets up and starts taking wobbly steps over to Sehun, who scrambles back until he’s on the bed.

“Stop! Stop or I’ll call the maids! I’ll call the police!” Sehun shrieks, clawing frantically at the sheets. The guy raises an eyebrow and stops in his tracks, hands raised in surrender.

“You’re a bit of a crybaby, aren’t you.” He smirks crookedly.

“You came into my room in the middle of the night and I have no idea who you are!” Sehun wails, terror clenching around his chest until it’s hard for him to breathe. The strangest urge to cover himself overwhelms him, even though he’s fully clothed.

“Kim Jongin.” He throws at Sehun. “And I do believe,” he pauses, staggering forward another step, “I’m in the wrong house right now.” Jongin smirks again, white teeth glowing sharp and scary.

Sehun watches, frozen and horrified, as Jongin sets himself down clumsily in bed, sprawling his limbs out as he reclines.

“Don’t!” Sehun cries desperately, trying to brush off the dirt his shoes smear across the fresh white bedspread. Jongin settles more comfortably on the bed, head tilting back, revealing a sharp, angular jaw and high cheekbones. Sehun immediately leaps off, back flat against the far wall.

“Relax, Asswad.” Jongin purrs, slitting an eye open to glance at him lazily. “Why don’t you tell me your name?”

“S-Sehun. Oh Sehun.” Sehun stammers, knees quaking. Jongin sits up, eyes widening in recognition.

“Oh? Like the son of that politician guy?” Jongin tilts his head curiously, and then drags his eyes over the room, taking in the clean dark wood and matching furniture, landing lastly on the door leading to the walk in closet. “No fucking wonder your mansion looks like Martha Stewart pissed on it.”

Sehun’s face burns, cheeks flaming as he tries to raise his voice, “Stop it! You need to leave before I go wake up my parents and call the cops.”

Jongin turns his lidded gaze onto Sehun and suddenly says, “You’re pretty cute, for a rich boy who looks like he still drinks juice boxes.”

“W-What?” Sehun stutters, and Jongin smiles, all lazy and feline. Sehun takes a step towards the door, but Jongin stands up at the movement.

“Since you’re not going to have any fun tonight.” He murmurs, slinking towards the open window. “I’ll just show myself out. But I’ll see you around, Oh Sehun.” Jongin sends one last lingering smirk his way and ducks out the window.

The room floods with silence as Sehun tries to process what just happened and simultaneously keep his heart rate down.

As soon as he’s calm, he pries himself off the wall and pads slowly over to the mud tracks left over and drops down on his knees, running a slim finger through the dirt. It comes off dark on his pale hand and he frowns deeply, grabbing a tissue from the bedside to wipe it off on.

Then he walks over to the window and looks down. The shadowed figure clambers through the tree next to Sehun’s window, clumsy limbs weighted and slow. Sehun gasps as Jongin looks up and shoots him one last grin, white teeth glowing against the darkness outside, before he disappears.

Should he call security? Should he call the police? The house is big enough that his parents hadn’t heard from their separate floor upstairs, and Sehun’s second floor bedroom is usually secure enough that this isn’t something that would usually happen.

He decides finally that he should put the incident out of his mind and remind the night grounds keeper to not slack around. After all, if a delinquent who can’t be much older than Sehun himself can get into their house, then the guard isn’t doing his job correctly.

Forcing himself to calm down, Sehun slips into the still-warm covers and tries to ignore the foreign scent of cologne that clings to his pillows from when Jongin laid down in them. A sick kind of feeling overtakes the pit of his stomach and he curls deeper into the feather duvet and whimpers softly, trying to get back to sleep. Eventually, black sweeps over his mind as he finally slips into slumber.

*

Sehun awakens to Junmyeon jostling his arm lightly, his bright face smiling in a way that makes Sehun’s eyes hurt this early in the morning.

Junmyeon likes to call himself the Head of Staff at Sehun’s house. Sehun thinks this is a nicer way of saying housekeeper, although Junmyeon smacks him in the head every time he says that. He’s the youngest person they have on their staff, but according to himself, he’s also the most important.

Sehun’s not exactly sure what Junmyeon’s actual job is, but he’s always there and he’s always smiling and slipping Sehun extra dessert so he can’t bring himself to mind.

“Sehun?” Junmyeon’s not smiling now, a frown growing on his mouth as he sniffs cautiously. “Your room smells kind of… strange this morning, doesn’t it?”

Sehun sits up immediately and inhales discreetly, eyebrows furrowing when the spicy scent of cologne mixed with something more natural, earthier, reaches his nose. A small glance towards the window and the sight of the mud splattered wall are enough to confirm what happened the night before.

“N-no?” Sehun tries, but he sounds unconvincing even to himself. To his surprise, Junmyeon’s face softens as he reaches a hand out to squeeze Sehun’s cheek between his thumb and index finger.

“Open the windows next time.” The older man advises, mouth curving up into a knowing smile.

He leaves Sehun feeling very confused on the bed, humming under his breath as he exits the room.

Chapter Text

Sehun wants to say that school is mildly irritating, but that would be an understatement.

The actual building is very nice, all old architecture and big halls with expensive furnishings. The problem Sehun has with all of it is the uniform. If private schools had awards ceremonies, SM Academy would surely win the one for itchiest blazer or ugliest navy slacks.

Sehun’s day goes by slow, like his entire mind is submerged underwater. The teachers have to repeat their questions for him, and even then, he can’t remember how to answer. By the time the last bell rings, Sehun’s jumping out of his seat and practically running out the big double doors of the Science building. The early spring air brings him to his senses and he pins his lethargy down for Senioritis. After all, Graduation is in a couple months and college is almost upon him.

“Oh Sehun?” A low voice interrupts his musings. Sehun snaps his head up sharply and finds a small boy in their uniform standing in front of him, shifting awkwardly from foot to foot. Loser immediately flashes through Sehun’s mind at the sight of the sweater vest and messy black hair. “I’m Do Kyungsoo.”

Sehun wants to ask why Do Kyungsoo is speaking to him, but he holds back his tongue and waits until Kyungsoo finally blurts out, “I’m sorry for any trouble my friend may have caused you.” He worries his lip nervously and glances at Sehun through his eyelashes. “I think he accidentally went to your house instead of mine a couple nights ago.”

This penguin is friends with a strange lowlife like Jongin? Sehun carefully keeps his shock in check as he runs his eyes over Kyungsoo again. Wide, perpetually surprised looking eyes, big lips that look as if they’ve been bitten far too much, and disheveled hair like he’d just gotten out of bed. He looks so tiny and squishy that Sehun’s having a hard time buying it.

Finally, he shrugs and mutters, “Doesn’t matter.” He waves his hand insouciantly and cranes his neck to search for his car. When he spots the honey-toned head of his driver, he adds, “Just don’t mention it. Maybe you should find some new friends.”  He leaves Kyungsoo on the sidewalk and makes his way to the black car.

He shoves his backpack into Kris’ waiting hands and slides in through the open door, slumping against the leather. Kris has been working for Sehun’s family for a couple years, ever since he’d moved from China. Sehun secretly thinks he’s involved with some kind of mafia, with all the piercings lining his ears and his blonde hair, but he’s never had the courage to ask.

“Your father called.” Kris says once they’ve left the campus behind. “He’s going to bring a Japansee ambassador over for dinner and he expects you to be ready by 6:30.”

Sehun makes a face, which Kris laughs at in the mirror. “Do I have to?” Dinners related to his father's work are always horribly boring, and Sehun would rather have to eat by himself in his room than with another old man who thinks Sehun’s house is simply marvelous.

“And,” Kris keeps his voice light, “There was someone who came looking for you earlier. I don’t know why a kid your age wasn’t in school but he looked pretty adamant on finding you.”

Sehun’s stomach drops as he asks softly, “Who was that, then?”

Kris raises an eyebrow in the mirror. “Not sure. He had a pretty… questionable fashion sense. More earrings than me, I think.”

Sehun feels sick. What if the troublemaker decided to stalk him? What if he showed up again at night? “I- I don’t know him.” He finally says truthfully. “Please don’t let him in if he comes again.”

At Kris’ hum of understanding he reclines against the soft leather again, closing his eyes and trying to quiet his alarmed mind. They pull into Sehun’s long driveway not soon after, and Sehun grabs his bag from the seat next to him, and then leaps up the steps to door, knocking his knuckles on it neatly a couple times until Junmyeon opens the door.

“I made cookies.” Junmyeon smiles excitedly as he rushes Sehun to the kitchen. The cook is peeling something in the corner, but she pauses to nod at Sehun, who jerks his chin back. Indeed, the entire room smells like baked goods as Junmyeon shoves one into Sehun’s hand. “Taste!” he demands, eyes sparkling good naturedly. The younger boy takes a bite and makes an appreciative noise at the way it melts in his mouth.

“Good. Really good.” Sehun praises shortly. He steals another one of the plate on the counter and puts the rest of the first one in his mouth. “I’ll be in my room doing homework.”

As soon as he walks into his room, his shoulders slump at the thought of all the homework in his bag. He sweeps his eyes across the room.

There’s a person sitting at the foot of his bed.

“No. No no no no!” Sehun yelps as Kim Jongin looks up from the book in his lap-Sehun’s book- and smiles. He stands in one fluid move, dropping the book, and makes his way over, and then reaches over Sehun’s shoulder to shut the door behind them. His body brushes against Sehun’s as he does, and he licks his lips suggestively at the feeling.

Jongin’s hair is brick colored and faded and so shiny that it makes Sehun uncomfortable looking at it. He hadn’t seen it in the dim lighting, but as Sehun starts to back away, the locks shine distractingly in the afternoon sun. Sehun feels his back hit the closed door with a dull thud.

“Why are you here?” Sehun manages. Jongin simply smiles and walks away, then throws himself down on Sehun’s reading chair, curling his entire body into the soft cushions. He sticks a hand up and beckons Sehun closer. Sehun stays where he is, eyes widening as Jongin slips a phone out of his pocket. That’s Sehun’s phone. “How did you get that?”

“Your pocket when I was closing the door.” Jongin smiles guilelessly and starts tapping away at the screen. “Pretty fuckin’ uptight, aren’t you?”

“Why are you here? How did you get in?” Sehun asks again, ignoring the insult.

“Relax, Tightass. I came in through the window again to apologize.” Jongin easily tosses the phone in Sehun’s direction, who scrambles to catch it.

“By insulting me?”

Jongin grins and spreads his arms out, like, ‘here I am!’ and bats his eyelashes. “I’m sorry for disrupting your beauty sleep.” He says, voice like saccharine. “I must’ve been pretty fucked up if I thought this was Kyungsoo’s house.”

Sehun raises an eyebrow as he cautiously makes his way to his bed, sitting down on the edge warily. “So you are friends with him.”

Jongin bares his teeth again, and Sehun represses the urge to shudder. “Something like that.”

Curiosity curls in the pit of his stomach, but Sehun can’t bring himself to ask. He settles more comfortably on the bed and watches Jongin study the room in his peripheral vision, taking in the cream walls and navy duvet.

“I like your room.” Jongin says, breaking the silence. He sounds sincere for once, voice softer than the rough tone he’d been using up until now. He’s looking at Sehun again, and his skin looks like honey in the sunlight, metallic jewelry glittering brilliantly.

“Thank you.” Sehun’s voice doesn’t shake once, much to his pleasure. “If you’re done, you can leave.”

Jongin’s eyebrows draw up in mock hurt. “You’re not going to give me a house tour? If I lived in a mansion like this, I’d be jumping at the chance to show it off to a poor-ass punk.”

Sehun pinches his lips together to stop the sharp ‘get out!’ clawing up his throat as he shakes his head just once. “I don’t even know you.”

“Yeah you do. Kim Jongin, remember?” he taps his head mindfully and points at Sehun. Then he reaches into the pocket of his tight black jeans and pulls out a little box. The second he removes a little white tube from it, Sehun’s up with a yelp of, “Stop!”

Jongin freezes, unlit cigarette dangling in his fingers. “What’s wrong?” He flicks his eyes towards the offending item and his lips curve up. “Oh. Let me guess. I’m a hell-bound heathen who’s going to get lung cancer and die?”

A spike of outrage goes through Sehun. “No.” he says coldly. “I was going to say that you’d be in huge trouble if someone caught you doing that in here. Or if someone saw you here at all.” Still, Jongin makes no move to get up as he slides the box of cigarettes away again. “You’re not old enough to have those, either.”

“Aren’t I?” A flash of amusement washes over Jongin’s face and Sehun feels a little annoyed. Why did Jongin keep laughing at him?

A tiny voice inside his brain responds, ‘You want to impress him. He’s unlike anything you’ve seen before.’ Sehun pushes it down with a mental scream and flicks his eyes back over to Jongin, who’s watching him with interest, head tilted to the side.

“I’m 17.” Jongin murmurs. “So technically, I can’t buy them. But I can still smoke them.”

“How did you get those then? Are those illegal?” Sehun hadn’t meant to raise his voice, but the thought of illegal drugs under his nose is so alarming that he can’t help it.

Instead of answering, Jongin stands up and inhales deeply. “Did your perfect stay-at-home mom make cupcakes or something? It smells like chocolate.”

“My mother works.” Sehun responds immediately.

Jongin tilts his head again. “No kidding?”

Then he starts walking to the door, body moving with controlled ease. His movements are so fluid that Sehun has to watch the way his hips sway as he starts to open the door.

“Wait!” Sehun yells, sprinting to catch the back of Jongin’s open button-up. He yanks the older boy back hard and slams the door shut frantically, pushing him back against the door.

A second later, Junmyeon’s high voice comes through the door. “Sehun? Why are you shouting?”

Sehun presses a hand to Jongin’s firm chest, keeping him flat against the door as he tries to calm his voice down and answer, “Y-yeah! I’m fine! I just fell down but its fine!” He tries to add a little laugh at the end to erase Junmyeon’s worries but it comes out nervous and suspicious.

As Junmyeon answers with something he doesn’t pay attention to, Sehun suddenly realizes how close to Jongin he’s standing, the warmth from his body seeping into Sehun’s. He can’t breathe with the way Jongin focuses heavy lidded eyes on him, full lips twitching with the urge to smile.

The sound of Junmyeon’s footsteps receding finally reaches his ears and he releases a deep breath through his mouth, body sagging in relief. “Please,” he mumbles tiredly, “Don’t do that.”

He steps back and watches Jongin cross the room and flop across the bed again, picking up the previously discarded book. “Learn to live a little,” he scoffs. “When’s the last time you did something you weren’t supposed to?”

“I let you in my room and didn’t tell anybody.”

Jongin shoots him an unimpressed look and returns his attention to the book in his hands. “I’m going to hang out for a while.” He announces. “Do your homework, or whatever it is rich kids do when they get home from their fancy private schools.”

Sehun stares for another second. “You’re really not going to leave?”

Jongin smirks. “It’s not like you have other friends coming over, do you?”

Trying not to take offense, Sehun sits down at his desk and opens up his laptop, grimacing at the thought of the essay waiting for him inside.

Surprisingly enough, Jongin’s company is not awful. He doesn’t make a lot of noise, a couple huffs of laughter now and then, a question about Sehun thrown into the mix as he reads his way through Sehun’s manga bookshelf. More than once, Sehun catches himself watching Jongin’s lax body on the bed out the corner of his eye when he’s supposed to be typing. Each time, he forces himself to look away and chastises himself lightly.

After a while, the faint clicking noises of Sehun’s typing and the rustling of the book’s pages are the only noises audible over their breathing. The silence is comfortable, though, and Sehun kind of likes the company.

“It’s 6 o’clock!” Junmyeon raps on the door sharply, startling Sehun out of his seat and breaking the stillness. “Your father told you to be ready at half past, didn’t he?”

Sehun makes a strangled noise and checks his watch. “I’ll be ready!” he shouts back and scrambles to undo the buttons of his blazer. At the sight of him undressing, Jongin arches an eyebrow curiously.

“You need to leave, right now!” Sehun hisses, tugging the blazer off and tossing it into the hamper in the corner of the room. His fingers feel clumsy as he struggles with the front of his shirt, buttons refusing to cooperate.

“Why’s that?” Jongin asks, but he rises and reaches out to help unbutton the white dress shirt. His fingers expertly work them loose and he drags the garment down Sehun’s arms to get it off, before balling it up and throwing it in the hamper as well.

The urge to cover himself comes back strong as Jongin sweeps his eyes over Sehun’s narrow chest and down the lines of his hips, drinking in the light pink nipples and milky span of skin. “Dinner thing. Please, just go!” Sehun shoves at him until he’s by the window.

“Okay, Jesus fuck, let me just climb down your fucking tree again.” Jongin laughs, but he opens the window dutifully and slides gracefully onto a branch. “I’ll see you later, then?”

“Yeah sure,” Sehun says absently, and then realizes what he’s just said. “I mean- I!” he tries to amend, but Jongin’s already gone, a snicker echoing in from outside.

*

Jongin lingers in Sehun’s thoughts all throughout dinner, even as his father snaps at him to pay attention and the guest in the suit across from him praises him endlessly about everything from his looks to his grades. Lost in his thoughts, he almost spills soup all over his cashmere sweater until a sharp look from his mother stops him.

By the time he’s allowed to stumble upstairs, the disappointed looks from his parents resonate in his mind, but he’s more concerned about his room. He half expects Jongin to be sprawled on his bed when he comes in.

The empty room is a surprise and Sehun finds himself almost missing the steady breathing of another person.  As he reaches for the book on the bed to put it away, he spots a little paper box.

Curiosity has him picking it up and flipping it over, eyes scanning the label. He gasps and nearly drops it when he spots the word tobacco on the top. The cigarettes.

They must have fallen out of Jongin’s pocket in his haste to get out the window again. Sehun knows he should throw them away, but what if someone saw them in the trash? He worries his teeth against his lower lip as he contemplates what to do. Finally, with a defeated sigh, he opens the bottom drawer of his desk and buries the box in the corner under some loose papers and pencils.

As he gets ready for bed, he can almost hear Jongin’s laugh at his actions. Sehun frowns at the thought of tobacco in his room, but he can’t think of anything else to do with it that wouldn’t get him somehow caught.

He decides that the next time he sees Jongin, he’d properly yell at him for being irresponsible with his illegal drugs.

As he drifts off to sleep that night, he can’t help but wonder, with some kind of perverse curiosity, how it feels like to smoke one, though.

Chapter Text

Sehun’s week has consisted of not one, not two, but three impromptu visits from Kim Jongin. Every single day, Jongin waits for him in his room like some kind of stalker, and Sehun would be scared if Jongin wasn’t so nice. Yes, the insults are frequent but Jongin always laughs jokingly and shoots him a smile over his current book, and Sehun can’t help forgiving him because of the white wide smile directed at him.

On Friday, the sky is clear and blue, bright rays of sunlight shining over the campus. It lifts Sehun’s mood and although he’d never admit it out loud, he finds himself actually looking forward to going home and seeing Jongin spread out on his bed, flipping through a comic or a book off his ample shelves. The way his red-toned hair catches the light is mesmerizing in weather like this.

That is, until Do Kyungsoo approaches his outside lunch table with his full lower lip caught between his teeth, eyes wide with worry. Sehun’s friends all look at each other, then at Kyungsoo, and finally at Sehun.

Sehun furrows his eyebrows in confusion, but before he can ask what Kyungsoo wants, the shorter boy blurts out, “I’m sorry! I tried to tell him not to but he wouldn’t listen and now he’s-“

“What was that, Kyungsoo?” A voice interrupts.

Sehun’s blood goes cold. No. He wouldn’t.

He would.

Jongin strides across the courtyard to Sehun and his alarmed friends on long, black leather clad legs, eyes rimmed as perfectly as usual. For some reason, he’s wearing the uniform blazer, open to reveal a black shirt with some English lettering across it. His earrings glimmer brilliantly in the light and Sehun wants to rip out the spiky one and maybe swallow it. Granted, the blazer does help him blend in a bit. Except, on the background of Sehun’s school, every facet of him becomes too much, standing out juxtapose to the boring students and plain faces. Sehun feels sick to his stomach as Jongin grins widely.

“Hey Tightass. Come here often?” Jongin winks, cheeky and vulgar. Sehun wants the earth to open up and swallow him whole.

“Sehun?” Taemin’s voice is high with shock as he flickers his eyes between Jongin’s leather pants and Sehun. Taemin is the son of a high end fashion designer and a business owner, and he could probably buy Jongin’s entire outfit with the money in his pocket right now. Unfortunately, he's also been Sehun's meddlesome best friend for eleven years. “Do you know him?”

Besides Taemin, Jinki casts wide, scandalized eyes from Sehun to Kyungsoo to Jongin, as if he’s not sure where to focus. Sehun exhales a long breath through his nose as if to prolong his explanation, but before he can speak, Jongin bares his teeth in a vicious grin and says charmingly, “Hello, rich kids.”

There’s a barely audible thud as Kyungsoo slaps a hand over his face and shakes his head. “You’re impossible.” He says, before waving to Sehun and walking back towards the cafeteria building.

“I’ll see you later!” Jongin calls cheerfully as he slides into the seat across from Sehun. “So, Sehun, you’re going to introduce your friends, right?”

Sehun would rather get hit by a rogue elephant than do so, but he forces out a smile for Jinki and Taemin’s sake as he gestures to the boy in front of them and says, “This is Jongin. He’s uh- a person I know due to certain circumstances. These are Jinki and Taemin. They, like, go to school with me.

Sehun watches as Jongin takes a millisecond to scan both Taemin and Jinki’s ashen faces before he leans forward, elbows on the table. “Nice to meet you.”

It’s a perfectly normal statement, but the way Jongin says it, lips curling seductively, voice thick, has Taemin blushing and Jinki horrified. Sehun suppresses the urge to laugh as Taemin tries to sputter out a response and fails.

“I suggest,” Jinki finally speaks up, “You invest in a proper uniform.” Then he gets up stiffly and starts walking away. Sehun doesn’t miss the way his legs shake though. A second later, Taemin bursts up from his seat and gasps out a “Sorry, I have to go!” before scurrying away after Jinki.

There’s a beat of silence as Jongin raises an eyebrow at Sehun. Sehun stares back, nostrils flared in anger. Who is Jongin to come to his school of all places and scare off his friends? Before he can start to lecture Jongin about not following him around and bothering people, the older boy reaches across the table and asks, “Are you going to finish that cake?”

Sehun glances down at the dessert, watching as Jongin picks it up with his hands and takes it without giving Sehun a chance to answer. “Why are you here?” Sehun asks tiredly.

Jongin proceeds to shove half the piece of cake in his mouth without getting any white icing over his face (Sehun is not jealous of how wide Jongin can open his mouth, he is not.) “Rich people cafeteria.” Jongin mumbles around chocolate, “Really good cake.”

“You came to harass me because of cake? And desecrate the uniform?” Sehun’s voice rises with every word and Jongin he glances around to see everyone in their proximity staring. Jongin takes another lazy bite of cake and licks his lips, giving an indolent shrug as answer.  

“I like chocolate.” He swallows and holds up the last bite, fingers streaked with white icing. “Take the stick out of your ass and have some.”

“I don’t have a stick up my ass!” As soon as the words leave his mouth, Sehun gasps and slaps a hand over his mouth, scandalized at his own cursing. Another look around and he breathes out a sigh of relief because it seems as though no one heard him. What is happening with him lately? He’d never been so out of control and inappropriate before!

Instead of contemplating the downward spiral of his life, he takes the cake from long fingers and shoves it roughly into his mouth and chews viciously. When he looks up, Jongin giggles and points at his lip. “You have a little frosting on your lip.” His laugh gets louder as Sehun swipes at it recklessly and probably misses.

“As good as you look with white stuff on your face, I have to go.” Jongin finally says after watching Sehun struggle for a few seconds with a little smile twitching on his lips. He gets up and makes a show of stretching out his arms, the blazer too small and stretched over his muscles. “Give Kyungsoo his jacket back for me.”

How he actually managed to fit into the small boy’s blazer, Sehun has no idea, but he takes it anyways and gingerly stuffs it into his backpack. Jongin grins and salutes embarrassingly before yelling, “Bye, Tightass!” and sprinting away on long legs lest someone catch him on campus.

Sehun watches him go, then sits for another second and reevaluates his life choices.

Then, slowly, he stands and glances around. Kids are getting up from the courtyard, signaling the end of lunch. Sehun stares dejectedly at his uneaten chicken before tossing it in the trash, and then makes his way across the grass to the alcove where Taemin and Minho usually meet him to walk to their Psychology class.

As he approaches the corner, he finds his two friends with their heads pressed together, Taemin motioning animatedly as he furiously whispers to Minho. Something sinks in Sehun’s chest when he gets close enough to overhear a snippet of their conversation.

“-And Sehun knew him! His pants were leather and he was wearing eyeliner on campus, and Sehun actually knew him!”

Sehun clears his throat quietly to let his presence be known. Immediately, Taemin springs away from the taller boy and corners Sehun. “What are certain circumstances? Oh Sehun, are you involved in some kind of mafia? Are your parents going bankrupt? Are you…” Taemin pauses and flits his eyes around before hissing, “Are you doing drugs? Was that your de-“

Sehun cuts him off with a groan and looks at Minho for help, but the athlete stares with wide eyes at the possibilities. “No Taemin, I am not doing drugs. He’s my friend. Kind of.” Sehun struggles for a way to explain the strange way Jongin had wormed his way into his life, but he can’t think of the words. “He’s an acquaintance and I would appreciate it if you would stop saying ridiculous things about both him and me.”

Taemin studies him with wary eyes for another second and then nods once, accepting defeat. “Don’t let him in your house. If he ever tries to make you do something you don't want to or asks you for money, come tell me immediately.” He warns. Sehun resists the urge to roll his eyes and agrees, but keeps the fact that Jongin had been in his house almost every day for the past week a secret. Who knows how badly Taemin would scream if he found that out.

“And don’t hang out with that Do Kyungsoo kid either. He’s pretty shady.”

“I heard his father got all of their money illegally.” Minho stage whispers.

Taemin laughs and the sound is cold in Sehun’s ears. “His only friend is that Park Chanyeol kid. They have some sort of thing going between the two.”

Sehun’s ears burn as he listens to his two supposed friends bash Kyungsoo. He hadn’t been that bad, had he? A little on the short and dorky side, but cute, and polite enough. “He’s not that bad.” Sehun frowns, “You guys shouldn’t be so rude.”

Taemin raises an elegant eyebrow. “If I had to choose to be friends with a teacher or Do Kyungsoo, I’d choose the teacher.”

“Oh.”

The little gasp resonates from behind them, and Sehun swivels around, only to come face to face with a tiny red-faced Do Kyungsoo. Or, face to neck because Sehun's about a head taller than him. Kyungsoo’s lips curl in fury and he keeps his expression cool, but his eyes fill to the brim with tears as he chews on the inside of his cheek and mumbles, “Jongin said you had my jacket.”

Sehun feels awful. The smaller boy looks so little with his hands curled into fists at his sides, eyeing the ground as Sehun drops to his knees to rummage through his bag. He pulls out the blazer and hands it to Kyungsoo, who stiffly grabs it and starts walking away quickly.

Sehun spins and shoots a glare at Taemin and then follows after Kyungsoo, apology ready. Despite his superior height, Sehun is slower than Kyungsoo when it comes to navigating the crowded halls, but he eventually catches up with him, albeit a little out of breath.

“I- I’m sorry my friends were being such dicks.” The words come so easily that Sehun doesn’t have time to process that he’d just cursed at his friends. Kyungsoo ducks into a smaller hallway and leans against the wall, crossing his arms lightly, body tensed.

“It’s fine.” He mutters after a second. “I heard you defending me.” Kyungsoo loosens up a little, running a hand through his black hair and messing it up more. Sehun worries at his lip, examining the older boy. Kyungsoo leans forward then and admits, “I didn’t like you for a while.”

Sehun’s eyebrows rise in surprise, but he doesn’t say anything and lets Kyungsoo continue. “Jongin is like my best friend so I thought you were taking him away or something.  He spends nearly every day with you now.”

Something inside Sehun preens at the thought of Jongin’s undivided attention on him, but he forces it down and contorts his face to keep it blank. “Do you still-?” Sehun lets the question trail off.

Kyungsoo stares at him for a second before breaking out into a grin. “Nah.” He punches Sehun lightly in the shoulder and hitches his bag further up his shoulder. “You’re pretty cool. And Jongin likes you, so you must be interesting beyond your whole stuck up rich boy thing.”

Sehun wants to ask, ‘What rich boy thing?’ but he refrains and shrugs. A smile curves on his lip as he asks, “Friends, then?”

Kyungsoo’s smile widens, and Sehun wants to poke his nose. His lips stretch so cutely, forming a heart shape, and Sehun wants to melt. “Friends, yeah.” Kyungsoo says, ducking his head a bit.

The bell rings then, and Sehun glance at his Rolex, eyes widening when he sees the time. “I’m going to be late,” he murmurs more to himself that Kyungsoo, but waves and adds, “If it bothers you so much, you can come over some time and hang out with Jongin and me.”

Kyungsoo waves back noncommittedly as he makes his way down the hall opposite the direction Sehun has to go, but calls, “I’ll think about it, Tightass,” over his shoulder. Sehun wrinkles his nose. One minute of being friends and he’d already picked up on the unpleasant nickname.

*

Sehun spends the rest of the day daydreaming through his classes, only speaking when spoken to. Minho furrows his eyebrows in concern when he trips into Psych late, dropping into his seat gasping for breath after running to the room. Taemin had shot him a look from across the room, but kept silent.

Now, waiting to be picked up, Sehun feels unnaturally exhausted. The pleasant sunshine is gone, replaced by a heavy layer of clouds that promises a spring storm, air thick with petrichor. The heat from that afternoon had cooled and it nips at his face and neck, the onslaught of rain and thunder completely expected in his mind.

What he isn’t expecting, however, is Kyungsoo tapping his shoulder with a small smile. “If I recall,” he begins as Sehun turns to face him, “You said we could hang out?” He immediately tucks his lower lip into his mouth and Sehun wants to scold him and tell him to stop biting his lips before they start bleeding.

Instead of lecturing his new friend, Sehun settles for a smile and a, “Sure, let me just find our driver.” Craning his neck over the sea of students pouring out of the building, Sehun finally spots the unnaturally tall blonde head of Kris and gestures. “He’s that tall one.”

Kyungsoo’s already big eyes widen more and Sehun contains a laugh at his gaping expression. “He may or may not have once been part of the Chinese mafia.”

Kyungsoo whistles lowly. “That’s pretty cool.”

Sehun leads him to the car and makes to let Kyungsoo slide in first when Kris leans casually against the side of the car, sunglasses perched on the bridge of his nose, looking kind of like one of those Vogue models Sehun’s mother likes to have over for dinner, cooing over their slim legs and broad shoulders. “Your friend?” Kris asks, voice deep in the dry air as he studies the unfamiliar boy thoroughly.

Sehun shrugs, and then remembers the exchange from earlier in the day. “Yeah,” he smiles, “He’s a friend.”

Kris’ mouth twitches a little, but the expression is pleased as he lowers his sunglasses with one hand and glances at Kyungsoo over the top. The boy meets his gaze steadily and a cute heart shaped smile blooms on his lips as he sticks a hand out. “Do Kyungsoo.”

Kris smiles and sticks out a hand to pinch Kyungsoo’s cheeks between his long fingers. “I like him.” He announces over Sehun’s embarrassed flush. Kyungsoo’s grin gets bigger.

The ride back to Sehun’s house is pretty quiet save for Kyungsoo’s surprising ample amount of questions for Kris, ranging from ‘Why did you leave China?’ to ‘How many piercings do you have?’ His chatter fills the car pleasantly and Sehun finds himself lowering it to white noise as he leans his head against the cool glass of the window and watches the same green gated community he sees every day, right outside of Seoul. 

“Don’t you live around here?” Sehun interrupts the steady small talk. If Jongin had mistaken Sehun’s house for Kyungsoo’s, then surely his house must be close by.

“Just down the street from yours, I think.” Kyungsoo muses. “The building design is very similar. That’s probably why Jo-“

Sehun cuts him off with a cough, not missing the way Kris raises an eyebrow in the mirror, but the Chinese man doesn’t press and Kyungsoo shuts his mouth with a snap.

They get to the house soon after, Kyungsoo complimenting the décor like every other person that comes through. Unlike a certain someone, he doesn’t say it looks like ‘Martha Steward pissed on it’. Sehun leads the shorter boy up to his room quickly, fending off Junmyeon’s attempts to coo over Kyungsoo’s full cheeks and distract them into doing something weird like baking. Honestly.

The second the door shuts behind them, Sehun breathes out a long sigh and slumps against the door, finally taking a chance to relax after his tension-filled day.

Tightass!” Jongin’s yelp of excitement comes with his body nearly tacking Sehun’s much thinner frame, and Sehun lets out a sharp huff of breath as the wind gets knocked out of him. “You brought Kyungsoo!”

Kyungsoo carefully evades the boy’s arms when it’s his turn to get hugged and sends a sharp look Jongin’s way when he pouts, arms still outstretched. Sehun laughs and watches as the two fall into an easy pattern, Jongin saying something weird, only for Kyungsoo to stamp out his idea, although good naturedly. It’s only when Kyungsoo starts to explain how he’d become friends with Sehun that his consciousness fully comes to him.

There’s something warm fluttering in Sehun’s chest as Jongin looks over at him expectantly as if waiting for him to add something to the story. Kyungsoo and Jongin have both somehow found themselves to the chairs in the corner of the room and settle comfortably, and it’s obvious how close they are from the way they gravitate around each other.

Sehun smiles and walks over to his friends, feeling tingly happiness thrum in his veins.

Chapter Text

Sehun is nothing if not stubborn.

Jongin had knocked on the window after dinner, slinking into his room with a grin and a pack of cigarettes that Sehun had once again slapped out of his hands. “I’m not telling you to smoke.” Jongin argues, “Let me just do my thing. I’ll open the windows and everything!”

They’re sat cross-legged across from each other on Sehun’s navy bedspread, Jongin insisting on Sehun telling him every single detail about his family. Jongin always asks strange things. Tell me about your dad. Tell me about any pets you’ve had. Have you ever been to another country?

Sehun’s answers always make Jongin’s eyebrows rise and his mouth drop open in shock.

Suddenly it strikes Sehun what Junmyeon had been talking about that first morning. “You made my room smell like cigarettes the first time you were in here! You made our housekeeper think they were mine!” Sehun accuses.

Jongin starts to laugh, but then his face screws up in confusion. “But I didn’t smoke cigarettes that day? Unless he-“ Realization flutters over his features and Jongin cackles, head thrown back ungracefully.

Sehun pokes him in the side and scowls. “What?” He asks.

“He smelled weed.” Jongin says, full of mirth.

Sehun’s insides sink. “You smoked what?” He cries, pushing Jongin off the bed. Jongin spins and lands on the floor comfortably, but he attempts to slither back on, and Sehun throws him off again.

“Do you wanna try some?” Jongin asks, and Sehun shrieks in outrage, shoving weakly at his chest when he tries to sit at the foot of the bed. This time he succeeds and Sehun settles for glaring at him through his bangs.

“That’s illegal.” Sehun informs him. “You could go to jail.”

“Ah,” Jongin sighs exaggeratedly, “Who would keep you company during these long nights if I were gone?” He drapes an arm around Sehun’s shoulder and pulls him in, ignoring the younger’s protests. Sehun finds his face pressed uncomfortably to Jongin’s chest as the older tries to run a hand through his hair, but Sehun smacks at his chest until he lets go.

“Why do you always have to say things like that?” Sehun demands. Suddenly he feels aggressive and doesn’t like the way Jongin looks at him with heavy lidded eyes, mouth curling suggestively.

“Perhaps,” Jongin murmurs, leaning in closer, “It’s because I’m a huge flaming homosexual.”

Sehun’s eyebrows shoot up as surprise strikes him through the stomach. “You’re what?!” Suddenly all the mildly suggestive looks and things Jongin says make sense and Sehun can see all the pieces fall into place. How had he not realized it earlier? Most kids his age talked about girls all the time, but Jongin had never even mentioned a girlfriend despite being undeniably attractive.

The elder’s grin doesn’t falter as he draws away and throws his arms out. “I’m queer and I’m here for all your sexuality-questioning purposes.” He singsongs. After seeing the look on Sehun’s face he adds quickly, “Not you specifically. Just in general.”

Sehun stares openmouthed as Jongin’s smile slides down a little. “You’re not going to be an asshole about it, are you?” He asks finally. His eyes darken with suspicion and the veins in his arms tense as he flexes them.

Sehun quickly raises his hands in surrender. “No! No of course not!”

“Good.” Jongin goes lax. “With your background, I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Sehun clears his throat softly and shrugs. “It’s none of my business.” He mumbles. He’d been raised to believe strongly in the idea of men and women getting married, but Jongin seems so set on his views that Sehun doesn’t want to say anything. The thought of so called sexuality questioning makes Sehun’s stomach turn. How does one know if they’re gay?

“Anyways. Instead of talking about my dick loving ass, we should watch a movie or something. Something horror.”

Sehun hates horror movies but somehow he finds himself nodding enthusiastically. The annoying voice in his head cheers at Jongin’s answering grin.

“You can choose which movie if you let me smoke. I’ll open the windows and everything!” Jongin pleads again.

Sehun stares him down for a second before he sighs in resignation. Wouldn’t it just be easier if he says yes?

“Fine.”

Jongin’s entire face lights up as he scrambles to take the pack back out, sliding out one white death stick with practiced ease. As he fumbles with his pockets for a lighter, he makes his way to Sehun’s window to swing it open easily.

The first waft of smoke makes Sehun frown, but as Jongin settles on the loveseat near the window and pats the space next to him, he finds the smell to be strangely enticing and he inhales a little deeper than usual on purpose. It makes his insides feel warm and as he settles into Jongin’s side and the older throws an arm around his shoulders, the warm feeling turns into something hot and slow that seeps from his tummy to the tips of his fingers.

Vapor floods the room whenever Jongin exhales, clouding Sehun’s vision and tickling his nose pleasantly. The weight of Jongin’s arm on his shoulders is warm and comforting as his mind sinks into a wonderful haze.

They wind up playing a slasher film on Sehun’s barely used TV with more screaming and blood than actual plot, but it’s comfortable as Jongin smokes and Sehun’s breathing slows and his eyelids become heavy. Somewhere in the place between consciousness and sleep, Sehun feels long fingers slip into his hair and stroke through it soothingly, and he mumbles something probably unintelligible.

Jongin responds with a low rumbling chuckle that resonates through him and scratches his blunt nails gently against Sehun’s scalp.

He dozes off like that, pressed against Jongin’s warm side.

*

Sehun wakes up with his cheek digging uncomfortably into the armrest of his loveseat. The first thing he realizes is that the room is empty except for him, and the window is shut. There’s no scent of smoke in the air, thank god, as Sehun straightens his aching limbs and blinks. Hazy sunlight streams in through his parted curtains. The clock on the wall tells him it’s late morning.

He pads over to his bed and settles under the covers, aiming for another couple hours of sleep.

Unfortunately, his dreams are crushed after less than ten minutes when Junmyeon’s unfairly cheerful voice comes calling at the door. “Sehunnie, you have a guest!”

Sehun groans at the thought of entertaining someone this early with exhaustion weighing down his mind and buries his head under a pillow. He decides to ignore Junmyeon’s annoying knocking in favor of squeezing his eyes shut.

Finally, the relentless thump of Junmyeon’s fist gets too loud and distracting for Sehun to ignore, so he gets up, albeit cursing the older man’s existence the whole time.

“Yes?” He asks as he swings the door open to reveal the shorter. Junmyeon looks far too happy in the morning, eyes bright and hair brushed neatly out of his face.

“Guest. Downstairs?” Junmyeon grins. “That one pretty kid with the expensive clothing.”

That could describe probably most of Sehun’s friends, but Sehun knows who he’s talking about. Only one person would come to formally see him so early in the day on a Saturday.

Sehun doesn’t know why Junmyeon lets Taemin inside their home in the first place. The older man had lead  Sehun downstairs cheerfully, hands fluttering to flat down his hair and straighten his clothes. He’d led Sehun into the parlor where he’d found Taemin sitting with his legs neatly crossed at the ankles, clad in the latest Armani blazer and stiff dress pants.

One look at Sehun and his entire face lights up, full mouth pulling into a smile. “I’ve been calling you for almost an hour! Why don’t you check your cell phone?” he says by way of hello. Sehun knows exactly where his phone is. Dead, beside the stack of unfinished homework he’d meant to do before Jongin had slinked in.

“Currently not on me.” Sehun yawns. Sleep still clings to his consciousness, making his eyes heavy as he tries to focus. The soft cream colored furniture blends together as he attempts to keep his eyes open.

“Doesn’t matter,” Taemin waves him off. “I need a favor. Please?”

One look at Taemin’s scrunched up face and Sehun shakes his head already. “Sehun!” Taemin tries again. “I need you to do this for me!” He clasps his hands under his chin and widens his eyes innocently.

“What is it?” Sehun finally asks. Why is he becoming such a pushover?

“That girl, Naeun? She wants to go out for dinner tonight and she’s bringing her friend. I need you to come with me if only to distract the friend so I can talk to Naeun alone. If we’re friends you’ll help me out!” Taemin pleads.

Sehun knows exactly who he’s talking about. Naeun, heiress to her mother’s cosmetics company, had been hanging around them plenty during lunch, bringing her best friend Soojung behind her. They’re both nice enough, but Sehun doesn’t know why Taemin doesn’t ask Minho or Jinki to help. When he asks this, Taemin laughs like he’s crazy.

“Soojung has been eyeing you for the past month, Sehunnie. It has to be you.”

“But-“

“Please Sehun?” Taemin’s voice raises in pitch as he widens his eyes and pouts. “I don’t want to go if you’re not there!”

“I don’t even know her!” Sehun cries.

“You don’t even have to!” Taemin retaliates immediately, “I’ll make conversation! You won’t have to say anything! I can even pick out your clothing so you really don’t have to do anything!”

Sehun gives in.

*

After the chaotic whirlwind that is Jongin, it’s nice to have some kind of even ground with Taemin. They spend the day at the mall, Taemin insisting on going shopping for that night despite already having most of the high end clothing for this season. They wind up at the Gucci store, where Taemin makes Sehun try on dozens of pairs of ugly shoes that pinch his feet.

While Taemin starts to chat up an employee, Sehun idly wanders around looking for good sunglasses. He tries on a white pair and can practically hear Jongin’s snort of “Pretentious,” in his head.

Sehun wonders vaguely when he started thinking so highly of Jongin’s opinion before shaking off the thought and adding the sunglasses on top of the pile of things Taemin has at the register.

*

Soojung is really pretty. She has long shiny hair, and smells like flowery perfume, and has large wide eyes as she sits down in the chair across from Sehun. She smiles coyly his way as Naeun settles next to her, across from Taemin.

She makes idle conversation all throughout dinner, commenting on the expensive décor of the restaurant and the uniforms of the staff. Sehun can’t help thinking that Jongin would be more entertaining, trash talking all the uptight looking couples near them and the expensive grandiose chandelier at the center of the room.

Then Soojung cocks her eyebrows just so and suddenly there’s a hand on Sehun’s knee under the table. Sehun startles, mouth falling open in surprise as Soojung smirks in a carefree way as she continues to talk with Taemin about her family’s company. One look at the other couple tells Sehun that they haven’t noticed, so he leaves it.

A second later, sharp nails dig into his kneecap as the hand travels upwards, skimming the flesh of his thigh. Sehun stays still, breathing shallow as Soojung flits her gaze at him under her eyelashes. Her eyes glint in the dim light and her mouth curls up mischievously as one of her nails scratch playfully at Sehun’s pants.

Sehun wants to say he likes it. Any normal person should like it, shouldn’t they? But as Soojung’s hand travels farther and farther up his body, something sick blooms in his stomach and spreads through him. He doesn’t like it. His insides twist uncomfortably and his mind screams wrong wrong wrong as Soojung scratches a long nail over the fabric. They’re just shy of his crotch and Soojung’s mouth twists, lurid red and plush as she cocks her head to the side guilelessly.

Abruptly, Sehun stands from his chair. Soojung’s eyebrows rise in surprise as he mumbles out a soft, “I’ll be right back,” and turns away from the table, eyes rapidly seeking out the restroom. He ducks through the tables until he gets to the door, head spinning the whole time.

Once he’s in the bathroom, he feels bile rise in his throat. Bitter, raw revulsion creeps through his gut, and he looks up at the wild eyed stranger in the mirror. Why?

Soojung is so pretty and so nice, but he can’t keep in the feeling utter wrongness that clouds his thoughts and makes it hard for him to breathe. A couple deep breaths help to clear his mind a little as he leans against the cold tile falls. Finally, with a shaking hand he reaches into his pocket and pulls out his now-charged phone.

The numbers come to him easily, being one of the only he’d ever bothered to memorize. Each feedback vibration against the pads of his fingers feels like dozens of tiny pinpricks as he dials.

Kris picks up on the second ring, and his voice sounds highly amused as he asks, “Yes?”

Before he knows it, a tiny sob works its way out of his throat. His mind feels clouded and confused as tears well up in his eyes. “P-please,” he whimpers out, “Come get me?”

Immediately, the Chinese man’s tone goes dead serious and Sehun hears another higher voice in the background asking what is happening that sound suspiciously like Junmyeon’s. “I’ll be there soon. Text me the address.”

With that, there’s a little click and the line goes dead. Sehun sinks down the wall to the floor, knees giving out bonelessly.

*

Kris is fast. He’s texting Sehun a simple ‘come outside’ in less than twenty minutes, and Sehun slinks out of the bathroom after making sure his face isn’t swollen or red. He winds through the tables and finds the three immersed in a conversation without him. He doesn’t get back in his seat, but takes his jacket and bows respectfully.

Soojung’s glossy red lips twist down as Sehun stammers out, “Family emergency. I have to go immediately.” Taemin groans disappointedly and shoots him an annoyed look when Naeun isn’t looking, but doesn’t stop him as he flees quickly.

The night air is brisk as it sweeps over his bare neck and face. Kris is waiting right in front of the doors as Sehun throws him a grateful look and slips into the passenger seat, something he doesn’t do often. Kris raises his eyebrows, but doesn’t comment as he starts the car. His hands tighten a fraction on the steering wheel as he sends a sideways glance Sehun’s way. “Bad date?” he asks finally.

Sehun sighs and skims his eyes over the comfortable leather seats, dragging up Kris’ long frame to the elder’s strong eyebrows and curious eyes. “Something like that.” He changes the topic quickly. “What were you doing when I called?”

Kris clears his throat and shrugs. “Hanging out with your surrogate mother.” His mouth curls up a little in the corner but he keeps facing forward on the street.

Kris and Junmyeon’s relationship is probably the weirdest dynamic Sehun has seen between two people. They gravitate around each other freakishly and Sehun has seen Kris unconsciously move to accommodate Junmyeon more times than he can count. Sehun watches the Chinese man’s strong features resist the urge to grin and he pretends to ignore it for the sake of Kris’ tough image as he rests his forehead against the cool glass of the window.

The darkened sky is too hazy to properly see any stars, but Sehun spots the nearly full moon resting in the dark sky. The almost-perfect circle dips into a slope just shy of full and Sehun kind of feels like that. A little flawed around the edges.

*

The first thing Sehun does when he gets home is toss the ugly white sunglasses into the depths of his dresser drawers. Good fucking riddance.

As he gets ready for bed and lets the shower wash away all the tension and awkwardness from the night, he wonders if Jongin has ever gone on a date with a girl.

*

The light throws long shadows over the room as Sehun reads the same page in his novel over and over. There’s an idle haze forming in his mind as the words blur on the page and his consciousness swims.

A sudden rap on the window breaks him out of his stupor. As he jumps, the book falls from his grasp.

Sehun had formed a new habit recently, leaving his curtains parted in order to see Jongin’s face in the glass. Now, he watches Jongin grin and tap the window again. Part of him is exhausted and confused from the disaster of a date, but another part wants to vent about his experience so he forces his aching body out from his warm blanket cocoon and pads across the floor.

“Are you wearing socks to bed?” Is the first thing Jongin asks as he slips in through the window sill.

“I was cold.” Sehun says defensively. He wiggles his toes through the socks and Jongin lets out a soft bark of laughter.

“Where have you been all day?” Before he can protest, Jongin kicks off his shoes and drops onto the big bed. He pats the place next to him and Sehun carefully settles in it cross-legged. Immediately Jongin pinches the soft wool of the sock closest to him and begins to tug it off.

Sehun shrieks, “Stop!” and kicks at him, causing the elder to burst into cackles. “You’re so rude, Jongin. I’ve had to deal with too much stuff today.”

Jongin smiles lightheartedly and slips a hand into his pocket, pulling out the box of cigarettes. “Tell me about it.”

As Jongin lights up, Sehun begins to narrate his day, starting with a bitter, “You left me on the couch this morning.”

After he’s done, Jongin has comfortably settled into Sehun’s duvet, leaving Sehun himself still sitting in the center of the large bed. His mouth stretches into a tiny yawn as he squirms and buries himself further into the blanket. Sehun watches him blow out smoke, only for it to thin easily because of the open window. The easy lull in their conversation comes again as Jongin takes in the words.

Finally he holds the covers up with his free hand until Sehun crawls closer. It’s so much warmer under the duvet than before with Jongin’s body heat as Sehun curls into his side again. The headboard wood of his bed digs into his shoulder blades but Jongin’s body is radiating warmth and Sehun leeches off it. “I’m sorry you had to come home early from your date.” Jongin mumbles around another drag.

Sehun sighs and inhales the warm scent of the elder’s cologne that lingers on his soft flannel. It’s pleasant on his nose unlike the cigarette smoke, but Sehun has come to terms with it. Exhaustion clouds his mind once again as Jongin slips an arm around his shoulders.

Something brave flutters in Sehun’s chest as he murmurs into the fabric, “Can I try?”

Jongin straightens his posture a little. “Try what?” His eyes look slightly unfocused and he trains his gaze on the cigarette in his hand. “Oh. Well, I didn’t think I’d see the day.” His mouth curves into a smile, but there’s nothing cruel about it.

He holds it out and Sehun stares at the tip, then the other end with smoke curling out of it. Finally, Sehun leans forward and Jongin slots it between his lips, eyes burning holes into Sehun’s head as he watches carefully. “Breathe in.”

Sehun inhales.

And promptly ends up coughing until Jongin stops laughing and rubs slow circles into his back. He should feel embarrassed, but with Jongin’s steady hand on him, eyes crinkling pleasantly, something akin to delight blooms in Sehun’s chest.

Chapter Text

In retrospect, Sehun should have seen it coming. He’s been suspicious for the past couple weeks, hanging out with Jongin and Kyungsoo whenever possible. Kyungsoo always greets everyone in Sehun’s house nicely, but Jongin has yet to make his presence known to anyone, staying only in Sehun’s room and coming in and out through the window

The soft knock on his door followed by a high sweet voice calling, “Sehun?” can only be Junmyeon, and from the hesitant way his voice sounds, Sehun is expecting a lecture.

Only, he’s not in the mood for a lecture. In fact, the idea sends a wave of boredom over him as he opens the door and comes face to face with the older man. Junmyeon wrings his hands nervously as he asks, “Can I come in?”

Sehun doesn’t answer, but steps back and lets him enter, opting to go back to his bed. There’s an unfinished novel and a cup of tea on the side table courtesy of the cook, and Sehun really would rather not Junmyeon blather on about whatever.

Instead of sitting, Junmyeon stands in the middle of the room uncomfortably. “So,” he begins, “You’ve been a little distant lately.”

“Have I?” Sehun evades the question and raises an eyebrow, grabbing his cup of tea again. He takes a sip of the scalding liquid as Junmyeon stares unimpressed and crosses his arms. He looks like a little kid with his oval face and short body, and Sehun wants to laugh.

Junmyeon shifts from foot to foot. “You know I don’t like to lecture you or have annoying talks, but I thought this would be important.” His eyes flit up briefly to Sehun and then back down to the floor, pink tinging his cheeks and he mutters, “Sex education is important for minors.”

What?!” Sehun yelps, nearly spilling hot tea all over himself when he jerks up at the words. “Why would you say that?” Sex and himself don’t even fit into the same plane of existence in his mind. The farthest he’s ever gone was the one time that girl from the year above them had let him touch her boob after making out, then ran away giggling to tell her entourage. The head of her friend group, Taeyeon, had yelled at him for it later, and he’d decided then and there that girls were too dangerous.

The idea that Junmyeon thinks he’s having sex is so ridiculous that he can’t help the laugh that leaves his mouth. Junmyeon’s expression falls and he protests, “It’s a very important subject! You need to be safe or risk jeopardizing your future!”

He looks upset that Sehun keeps isn’t taking him seriously, but Sehun can’t bring himself to stop because what the fuck Junmyeon thinks he’s having sex.

“Hyung. Hyung. Please don’t.” Sehun finally manages to get his face straight. “I’m actually begging you. I will literally bake something with you if you stop right now. Please.”

Junmyeon frowns and opens his mouth to protest again, but then must think better of it because he snaps it shut and blinks several times, looking frazzled and wide eyed before he finally nods. “Okay.” He repeats it a couple times to himself. “You’re not suddenly being suspicious because of a girlfriend. You are not having sex. Virgin. Okay.”

He stands there for another second before shaking his head as if to clear it and muttering, “I’ll be trying not to stress-eat downstairs if you need me.” Then he’s gone, shutting the door softly behind him. Sehun suppresses a laugh and takes another sip of tea, only to find it lukewarm and unpleasant. He drops the mug back on the table beside his bed and stands, deciding to shower.

Once he’s under the hot spray, he lets his thoughts wander. Why would Junmyeon assume something so farfetched? Has he really been so absent lately? He’s pretty sure none of his friends have had sex either. Taemin is far too busy learning how to design clothing with his mother and Minho’s father keeps him busy with their company. Jinki spends all his time in the library.

Suddenly the thought crosses his mind. Has Jongin had sex?

As he rubs shampoo into his hair, he thinks about the easy languidness in Jongin’s stance, the big lips, the way the muscles in his thighs flex when he leaps off of Sehun’s bed, the way he quirks his eyebrows suggestively and cackles when Sehun blushes at his crude words. Of course Jongin has had sex. How could he not have, when he acts so brashly and seductively all the time?

An image flashes in his head. Jongin, bent over some nameless body somewhere, whispering softly in the persons ears and easing his-

Sehun swallows hard and tugs at his own hair, washing out the shampoo froth. No. No.  

He blinks several times, trying to erase the thought from his mind, but it’s fruitless, as the image seems seared into his brain. Jongin bending someone over a bed, thick muscular thighs holding them in place as he jerks his fluid hips and groans low in his throat, in that deep raspy voice.

Sehun’s cock twitches in earnest and he frowns, sliding a hand down his body, mind clouding over at the first touch at the base of his dick. Every single fiber of his being screams ‘this is so wrong’ as he finally takes a deep breath and curls long fingers around his cock.

His head falls slack, forehead pressed against the tiled wall, and the images begin to flow back into his mind. Jongin, on his knees, Jongin smirking with his plush lips, tongue sweeping out to brush over them. Sehun’s body jerks, a low moan seeping out of his throat before he can stop it. His hand works over the flushed length, drawing precome out of the slit in the pink head, mouth falling open as the knot in the pit of his stomach tightens. Jongin’s mouth wrapped hot around his cock, Jongin moaning and swallowing around him, telling Sehun to fuck his mouth.

Sehun comes with a sharp cry, knees going weak at the intensity of his orgasm. Streaks of white go shooting through his fist and he nearly collapses onto the tile.

Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Sehun watches with rapidly blinking eyes as the water washes away drops of white as his mind spins and his knees quake. The vapor in the air and the condensation gathering on the mirror and glass are as foggy as Sehun’s mind as the after effects of his actions set in.

Something small and desperate claws it way up his chest, spreading negative vibes through his body, finally jerking its way out his mouth with a small sob. What had he just done?

Chapter Text

The sharp rapping at his window comes late into the night.

Jongin always knocks three times. The sharp rap resonates through his room as Sehun tries to ignore it in favor of directing his animosity to the man surely perched on the tree outside as if mentally willing, ‘go away!’  Jongin knocks again, this time more insistently and Sehun curbs his anger just a little, forcing it down as he slides off the bed with a sigh.

Ever since the incident, Sehun feels more and more irritable and upset, deep rooted unsettlement forming in his chest and moving through him in waves of displeasure and anxiety. The image of Jongin seems seared into eyelids, appearing every time his eyes slide shut. The thought makes his stomach lurch.

He trudges to the window on heavy feet and throws open the curtains to find Jongin crouched on a branch comfortably, the shadows on his face darkened in the night. He looks so unnaturally beautiful with his bronze complexion and high, strong features that Sehun wants to cry. Instead, he slides the window open and lets Jongin leap in, scowling when he lands neatly on his feet.

“What?” Sehun demands when Jongin grins at him devilishly and plops down on his bed. “Don’t get anything on my bed.”

Jongin rolls his eyes. “Hello to you too. Did you know that your dad is home today? I saw him getting out of his car when I was sneaking in. One of his bodyguards nearly saw me, too. You do know that I am capable of using doors, right?” His leer widens as he raises an eyebrow.

“If it’s so difficult to come to my house, why don’t you just go somewhere else?” Sehun knows his tone is bitter and the words are biting, but Jongin’s smile dropping gives him some kind of sick satisfaction.

Suddenly Jongin stands with one fluid move and strides up to Sehun before he can process and move back. “Maybe I will.” Jongin says, eyebrow quirked. His eyes bore into Sehun’s, dark and relentless as he puts his face closer and exhales hard enough for Sehun to feel it across his cheek.  With a start, Sehun realizes Jongin is at least a centimeter taller than him. The thought makes his knees weak. “If you’re going to be no fun. Maybe getting all these splinters isn’t worth it.”

Something in Sehun’s stomach flips and he wants to cry out, ‘No, please don’t go!’ but the images of himself in the shower, flushed and aroused and horrified enters his mind and Sehun forces down the words.

Jongin is still too close as he brushes his fingers up the side of Sehun’s face. “Are you sick, or are you just being mean to me for no reason?” he inquires, eyebrows furrowing when Sehun steps backwards out of his space.

Sehun shakes his head as Jongin takes another purposeful step forward and effectively corners him against the wall. “What? Did I upset the balance of your life? Did I make your school friends hate you? Did I make your parents angry?”

Jongin’s voice rises in volume with every sentence and his eyes flash as Sehun frantically blinks back tears because every single thing Jongin just said is true but what Sehun feels is the exact opposite of rage. The silence is thick as Jongin leans in again, much much too close for comfort, but as much as Sehun wriggles, Jongin has his chest pinned by one strong hand. For one intense moment, Jongin just stares, heated eyes burning into Sehun’s with something that makes Sehun unable to breath.

Finally, with a sigh, Jongin drops his arm and walks to the window, back straight with tension. The leather of his jacket stretches across the broad plane and Sehun wants to call him back, wants to apologize, but he can’t bring himself to.

Suddenly, Jongin’s mannerisms change completely. A liquid languidness overtakes him as he turns and says, “Come with me.”

“W-What?” Sehun squints in confusion, but Jongin repeats it.

“Come with me. I’ve met your friends and I’ve messed with your life enough. Time for you to meet mine.” Jongin’s eyes are like fire and Sehun can’t bring himself to look away.

“Why?” Sehun finally asks, “Why do you even want to be friends with me?”

The question settles like silt between them, and Sehun stares, not daring to take his eyes off the boy on his windowsill. Jongin settles his eyes on Sehun’s, gaze piercing and sending something like liquid fire burning through Sehun’s veins.

“I want to rip apart your ideologies with my bare hands and sew you back together with a dirty needle and liquor. I want to sentence you to damnation, and have you screaming for more the entire time. I want to tear you open and I want you to like it.”

Sehun stares, openmouthed, as the beautiful ethereal boy before him stretches a hand out, tempting smile curling on full lips. He looks like the devil, shrouded in the dark, mad, fiery eyes, brows arched irresistibly, breath heavy with something that makes Sehun’s skin crawl. Jongin’s hooded eyes drag over Sehun’s body, trailing to his own hand, still outstretched for the younger boy.

Sehun takes it.

Jongin’s teeth glint in the inky black of the night. “Welcome to damnation.”

The climb down the tree is easy for Sehun’s long limbs, albeit ungraceful. Jongin waits until he’s on the ground before maneuvering his lithe body down, landing neatly in the grass next to Sehun. Jongin puts a finger to his lips and jerks his chin towards the security camera set up near the edge of the house. It’s spun the other way so they’re not in its line of sight, but Jongin still hisses out a soft, “be quiet” as he makes his way across the broad lawn.

As they exit the property, Sehun’s stomach falls and his chest tightens. He’s out of bed. He’s out of the house. In the middle of the night. A month ago, even the thought of something like this would have been ridiculous and terrifying, but as the dim streetlights paint Jongin’s skin like honey, Sehun finds a sick kind of pleasure bubbling in his chest.

A month ago, Jongin hadn’t existed in his world. Now, it’s as if the world has a new axis. Jongin’s name resonates in his mind, Jongin’s touch flows through his veins, Jongin’s voice floods into his ears, warm and raspy in the dark. Sehun can’t even bring himself to mind.

The wind bites ruthlessly at Sehun’s bare neck as Jongin’s warm hand laces through his and leads him, the dull thud thud thud of their feet slamming the pavement as their only soundtrack in the still night. Sehun doesn’t look up, heart pounding unsteadily in his chest, faster and faster with every step that brings him closer to his impending doom.

Jongin leads them through alleyways and twisting narrow roads until Sehun had no idea where they are. All he can do is follow blindly and hope Jongin knows where to go. The hand around his squeezes reassuringly when he makes to voice his concerns, trying to get out a quiet, “Jongin?”

“Shut up. Just follow.” Jongin pulls him along quicker, his muscular legs working as they speed up, the hazy, smog filled sky above them, the dirty street below. The noises of the distant city play as if in another world, faint and far off. His life during the day feels like a dream, compared to the gritty nighttime.

Sehun has never felt so close to God.

Finally, Jongin drags him into a little street with no sidewalks, keeping his swift pace as the neon lights blur together in Sehun’s vision in a kaleidoscope of synthetic rainbow.

There’s a dull ache in his knees when they finally stop but it’s not entirely unpleasant as Sehun finally gets a look at their surroundings. The high end shops and mansions of Sehun’s neighborhood are gone, replaced by small businesses and broken streetlights that make Sehun’s stomach constrict nervously. The fluorescent sign in front of the building their standing before reads ‘Welcome!’ in lurid red that reflects off of Jongin in the color of blood.

“Welcome,” Jongin rasps lowly, “To Hell.”

Above the door, a small sign labels the shop “Wonderland” with a picture of a stripy cat with luminous eyes draped over the word. Sehun stares. Jongin opens the door and causes a light tinkling noise to resonate through the choking darkness. Sehun feels Jongin’s eyes boring into his chest, challenging him silently. Are you ready for this?

Sehun steps through the threshold into the dark store.

As much as Sehun hates to admit it, the inside of Wonderland looks cool. The lights are dim and fluorescent violet, dying Sehun’s skin almost the exact color. There are little tinkling trinkets made of spun glass hanging from the ceiling, reflecting the light brilliantly. Perched on the walls are several vintage style cuckoo clocks, each set at different times. The floor is smoky with vapor and Sehun blinks several times to get his eyes used to the new surroundings.

There are isles of baubles ranging from sinister looking glass skulls to snow globes. Sehun takes it all in with wide eyes but keeps his hands fisted at his sides. Jongin’s grin looks purple in the lighting, and when he flicks his eyes to the counter at the very back behind the isles, his pupils are dilated, fitting the almost feverish theme.

The sound of twinkling music gets louder and louder as they approach the counter, lullaby-like and trance inducing. Sehun’s feet move lethargically as he follows Jongin. The counter looks like any other store’s, with an old fashioned cash register and a couple little glass figurines spread over the surface.  

“Minseok-hyung!” Jongin’s husky voice interrupts the thick silence and startles Sehun out of his hypnotic state. A second passes and Jongin calls out again. Anticipation builds in the pit of Sehun’s stomach until it floods through him, thrumming through his veins.

Then, it breaks with a soft raspy voice calling, “Jongin?”

A door Sehun hadn’t noticed in the darkness of the store opens and an ethereal being flutters out. Or at least, that’s what he looks like to Sehun, with his heavily made-up eyes and small upturned lips, angelic face curled into a smirk.

Oh, the boy practically purrs out, “You brought a friend.” Sehun shifts uncomfortably under his stare, the eyes sweeping acutely over his body as if mentally undressing him. The vixen leans on his elbows and quirks his lips suggestively.

“Ignore him.” Jongin rolls his eyes. “Baekhyun works here. He’s like their official Jackass.”

Baekhyun pouts and finally tears his eyes away from Sehun to have them settle on Jongin. “Minseok’s in the back. Make sure your little friend doesn’t snitch and maybe they’ll let him have some fun.” Sending a wink Sehun’s way, Baekhyun twirls around the counter and disappears into the dark shelves.

The feeling of a warm hand coiling around his wrist has Sehun gasping, but Jongin sends him a sharp look and tugs his arm, leading him to the half-hidden door. “Come on Tightass,” he grins, “We have some people to meet.”

The door creaks open to reveal a short dimly lit hallway. There’s a door with a metal plaque reading “Bathroom” over it, and at the very end of the hall is another door, this one cracked open to let a thin stream of the same pulsing purple light spill into the dark hall. Jongin pulls him straight to it, pushing it open with familiarity.

The room takes Sehun’s breath away. The walls are covered with graffiti and fluorescent violet lights. The air smells like something earthy and makes Sehun’s nose twitch as he takes everything in. The most noticeable thing, however, is the thick smoke that curls around them immediately. Cigarettes? Sehun dismisses the thought quickly as he sniffs the air. Then with a jolt, he realizes it smells like his room the morning after he’d first met Jongin. Marijuana.

“Hyung!” Jongin’s shout brings him out of his thoughts and he finally sees the two men reclining on the worn couch in the center of the room. One of them is short with big eyes and round glasses, but what interests Sehun is the other. The one with the dark silver hair and too-wide eyes, smile curling indolently on his lips as he rubs at a big ear captures Sehun’s attention immediately. Sehun stares, because sitting on the couch with a cigarette is none other than Honor Student, Park Chanyeol.

Park Chanyeol grins lazily when he sees Jongin. Gone are the big glasses and carefully styled hair, along with the meticulous uniform, replaced by tight black pants and a band shirt that says something in a language Sehun can’t read.

Sehun’s mouth falls open in surprise.

Jongin seems completely at ease as he drops down on the couch next to the taller boy and casts his eyes over to Sehun. He raises an eyebrow, silently challenging. Sehun pushes doubt from his mind and slides down next to him, warily eyeing Chanyeol as he does. He perches on uncomfortably on the edge of the seat as Jongin steals the cigarette from between Chanyeol’s long fingers and takes a drag, blowing the smoke into the already clouded room. Up close, Sehun sees that it’s not a cigarette, but something else, homemade judging from the way it’s rolled.

Chanyeol’s wide eyes focus on Sehun and he nudges Jongin playfully. “Introduce us to your boytoy.”

Jongin elbows him back and takes another slow drag, this time exhaling directly into Chanyeol’s face. Chanyeol rolls his eyes and waves the smoke away before flicking Jongin’s forehead. “If he’s this rude to you too, then I sincerely apologize.” His dark eyes go wide in recognition as he finally properly sees Sehun’s face. “Oh holy shit. You- You’re that kid in my Calculus class, the one who’s friends with Lee Taemin.”

Sehun laughs weakly at the elder’s shocked features. “The one and only.” He mutters stiffly as Chanyeol leans in closer as if to clarify that it is indeed him.

Chanyeol stares for another minute, eyes sharp on Sehun as he furrows his eyebrows. “Damn.” He breathes finally, settling back into the couch. Sehun lets his body go lax as well as Jongin easily throws an arm around his shoulder.

“What do you have for me today?” Jongin asks, batting his eyelashes exaggeratedly. Chanyeol sticks his middle finger up at him and crows out, “How about my dick?”

The slick haired, quiet boy Sehun sometimes sees at school is so different from this vulgar boisterous Chanyeol that he’s sure there’s no way they’re the same person. They can’t be. But the telltale wide eyes don’t lie as Chanyeol grabs the marijuana back from Jongin and takes a drag. “Get your own joint.”

Jongin pouts and whines, “Hyung, you’re such an asshole.” Chanyeol laughs, the sound rich and deep as he throws an easy arm around the younger’s shoulders.  He finishes off the joint and drops it into a plastic cup.

   Sehun feels disoriented and out of place watching their familiar way of conversing. He feels eyes on him and looks up to meet the sharp gaze of the older man in the room. His glasses glint in the dim lights and Sehun swallows hard, faintly uncomfortable under the scrutiny. Before Sehun can stutter anything out, he extends a gloved hand and introduces himself. “Kim Minseok. I own Wonderland.”

Sehun automatically responds with his own name, palm sliding quickly against Minseok’s. “Minseok-hyung,” Jongin begins explaining, “Is something of a genius.”

The older man rolls his eyes and shakes his head. “He only thinks that because I give him weed.”

With a jolt, Sehun realizes how different these people are from him and the people he usually interacts with. Even Chanyeol, who comes from the same background as him is painfully unlike Taemin or Soojung or any of the others.

“Speaking of,” Jongin grins wickedly. “Hit me up, Hyung. Sehun’s never done shit before.”

Minseok clicks his tongue and flicks Jongin’s forehead. He leans forward and suddenly there are thin fingers holding Sehun’s chin in place as the elder’s eyes bore into his. Sehun feels layers of his being stripping off in the man’s too-sharp eyes, leaving him bare and exposed. His insides convulse unpleasantly but he forces himself to meet Minseok’s eyes as he clenches his jaw with effort.

Finally, after what seems to be an eternity, Minseok snorts and lets him go. Sehun’s body goes weak as he sags back into the couch. Minseok’s lips twitch into something resembling a smile and he jerks his chin towards the door. “I’ll get Baekhyun to bring something when he’s done restocking.” With that, the short man stands and sweeps out of the room.

As soon as the older man is out of earshot, Chanyeol grins again, teeth glinting sickly in the magenta light. “So where the fuck did you pick him up?” He asks nonchalantly.

Sehun doesn’t like to call himself a pushover. He leans through the smoke over Jongin’s lap and widens his eyes, the way Jongin had said made him look innocent, and asks, “What was that?” His head cocks to the side and he doesn’t blink until he knows he’s borderline creeping Chanyeol out from the way the silver-haired boy furrows his eyebrows and his mouth twitches down.

“You’re pretty freaky.” Chanyeol remarks. His face morphs into a too-wide smile and he hisses, “That’s cool. You’ll fit in here.”

Whether that’s a good thing or a bad, Sehun isn’t sure, but for now he’s happy to be accepted even a little by one of these strange beings. Jongin suddenly grips the back of his shirt and pulls him off his lap. Sehun hadn’t realized it, but one of his hands had been tight on Jongin’s upper thigh to keep his balance as he’d leaned over to look at Chanyeol. He flushes immediately and mutters an apology under his breath.

Jongin brushes it off by slinging an arm around Sehun’s waist and pulling him closer. Sehun automatically goes lax in his familiar grip, but his mind is still spinning from the environment and way his hand still tingles with the heat from Jongin’s thigh.

Then the door swings open and the ethereal boy from earlier walks in with something in his clenched fist. Jongin perks immediately, reaching a hand out for Baekhyun to drop what Sehun finally sees is a plastic bag onto his palm. “Minseok-hyung’s a fucking life saver.” Jongin says.

“Don’t be a brat.” Baekhyun’s small nose scrunches as he slaps the side of Jongin’s head lightly before he shoots a smile Sehun’s way and wiggles his fingers in greeting. Sehun tries to keep in his shock when the short boy perches delicately on Chanyeol’s knee. Chanyeol snakes an arm around him immediately, pulling him closer.

“Thanks, Mother.” Jongin mocks.

“Brat.” Baekhyun murmurs again, but his eyes are fond.

Jongin shakes the bag once before he opens it and holds it out to Sehun. “Quality shit right here.” Sehun sniffs delicately, and the strong scent of marijuana filters into his nose. He unconsciously wrinkles his nose and Chanyeol laughs at that.

“Let me roll.” He says, holding his hand out to Jongin, who drops it in without complaint. “Jongin sucks ass at it.” He explains to Sehun.

Sehun, who has never been in such contact with weed in his life, much less rolled it, is a little dazed as Chanyeol removes a tight bud and leans forward, then begins tearing it apart over the little paper already on the table. He watches the way Chanyeol’s fingers move swiftly and efficiently while Baekhyun and Jongin talk about something he drowns out.

Soon, Chanyeol holds up the little white tube and looks around. “Lighter?”

Baekhyun fumbles around in his hoodie and takes out a little blue lighter, then lights the twisted end of the joint. It burns for a couple seconds before Chanyeol puts the flat end to his mouth and takes a drag.

“Wait!” Baekhyun interrupts quickly. “Let me shotgun.”

Before Sehun can comprehend what is happening, Baekhyun has his open lips pressed against Chanyeol’s. Sehun’s mouth actually drops open in shock because what the hell.

In all of Sehun’s seventeen years he has never been so close to an intimate act like this. It makes him feel strange, like some sort of voyeur. He wants to avert his eyes but they feel stuck on the way Baekhyun’s shoulders rise as he inhales deeply, pulling away at the last second so a tendril of smoke is visible before it disappears into his parted lips.

Finally, Baekhyun exhales carefully, adding to the foggy room before he slumps with a satisfied noise against Chanyeol’s chest.

Suddenly it strikes Sehun how stupid he is. How had he not realized that Chanyeol and Baekhyun have something until just now? The dynamic is so similar to couples from Sehun’s school, from the way Chanyeol’s fingers curl protectively on Baekhyun’s hip to the way Baekhyun melts a little at his touch.

It’s almost too painfully intimate to watch as Chanyeol’s mouth pulls up happily and he presses a quick kiss to Baekhyun’s hair and hands the joint off to Jongin.

Jongin’s eyes meet Sehun’s for a second over the smoking joint as he curls his lips in and slides it in. There’s something challenging in them, a little vicious. Are you going to be an asshole?

Sehun stays silent.

Jongin breathes the smoke out before his smiling and handing it over. “You gonna go?”

“Uh.” Sehun manages to stutter stupidly. “I don’t know how.”

“Put it in your mouth and inhale.” Jongin says slowly, as if explaining something simple to a child. It makes Sehun kind of mad but he brushes it aside.

The joint smokes intimidatingly, and Sehun stares for a second. His eyes flicker over to Jongin, with his dilated pupils and skin dyed vibrant violet in the light, piercings glinting in his ears. Jongin’s mouth parts into a smirk, silently challenging.

Sehun takes the joint and slips between his lips. He inhales.

Immediately, Sehun’s throat  feel as if it’s been set on fire as Jongin leans in through the haze and drags a thumb over his lips, the rough pads of his fingers coming to cradle Sehun’s cheek. “Did you burn your throat?” he asks, voice only slightly slurred. Sehun blinks back tears at the burn of inhaling and tries to take a deep breath and calm himself down and will away the waterworks.

“I-it hurts,” he croaks out eventually, throat dry and aching. Jongin’s lips curl amusedly and he leans forward, sweeping his fingertips under Sehun’s eyes. When he pulls them away, they glisten like pearls in the feverish lights. More tears spill over and Sehun clears his throat pathetically, only to have it burn again.

“You inhaled wrong!” Baekhyun giggles, hiding his face in the nape of Chanyeol’s neck. Chanyeol laughs softly and stretches a long arm out to pat Sehun’s back.

“Breathe it into your lungs, and don’t try to let it out so quickly.” Chanyeol advises, voice deep and raspy. Sehun wonders if he smokes actual tobacco from how expertly he’s been doing this.

Before he can protest, Jongin’s shoving the joint into his hands again and leaning back on the worn couch to watch. Sehun stares at the little white tube before bringing it to his tingling lips and sucking in lightly, filtering the smoke into his lungs like he’d been instructed.

He stops his nose and lets the smoke remain inside for a second and finally exhales through his mouth, a screen of light grey obscuring everyone else’s faces for a second before Jongin’s laughing in his loud obnoxious way and pulling him into a hug, careful not to crush the joint between them.

“Congrats, Tightass.” He rumbles low in Sehun’s ear so Baekhyun and Chanyeol can’t hear, and despite the nickname, Sehun feels a streak of pride run through him.

By the time Minseok comes back, Sehun and Jongin go through another joint by themselves and start giggling about everything , while Baekhyun and Chanyeol opt to share another by shotgunning off each other. Sehun tries not to gawk.

Behind Minseok skips someone about roughly the same height, with curved lips and high cheekbones, a top hat nestled on his head.

Oh,” the man coos as he spots Sehun nestled against the armrest of the couch. “I didn’t know he was cute, Minnie!”

Suddenly there are slim fingers pinching his cheeks and forcing his face up. Sehun’s eyes meet the new man’s, and he stares for a couple seconds before his face finally gets released. “Jongdae-hyung, stop trying to freak out my friend.” Jongin frowns, batting away Jongdae’s hands.

The elder frowns before he turns back to Sehun. “Are you high? Did Minseok do this? Minnie, why do you always have to drug up the young ones?”

Minseok shrugs and smiles weakly. He and Jongdae seem at odds for a second, which strikes Sehun as a little strange, considering Minseok is the owner.

“Jongdae’s the co-owner.” Jongin stage whispers into Sehun’s ear, as if he’d read his mind.

“Oh.” Sehun whispers back.

Instead of actually introducing himself, Jongdae leans down and asks, “Are you talking about me? Did Minseok give you weed? I can give you so much more. Minseok’s got nothing on the pills I got a couple day a-“

“And we’ll take that as our cue to leave!” Jongin says loudly, pulling Sehun up to his feet. “Thanks for everything Hyung, but Sehun has school tomorrow and it’s extremely late.”

Suddenly Sehun’s being pulled towards the door, and he tries to turn a little to wave at the people in the room, but Jongin yanks his arm before he can. “Come back soon!” Minseok calls, face lighting up in amusedly.

Baekhyun murmurs something sleepily from where he’s burrowed in Chanyeol’s arms, and Chanyeol raises a hand from where it’s stroking Baekhyun’s hair to wave. “See you in Calculus.”

Sehun waves back the best he can, but Jongin is quick in dragging him away.

As soon as the door to the back room shuts behind them, Jongin begins to snicker, and for some reason Sehun feels fizzy, happy giggles bubble up his throat. “Your friends,” Sehun manages to get out, “are so fucking weird. But I like them.”

“I like them too.” Jongin smiles sleepily. “And I’m sure you’ll get tons of chances to see them again.”

Sehun does not think about how Jongin implies they’ll come back together, he does not. (Except maybe he does.)

*

They creep along the streets, easily blending into the background as they cross alleys and duck down narrow streets. Sehun’s hand stays warm in Jongin’s grip as he tows the younger along. Be it the influence of the drug or not, Sehun’s eyes feel opened as he takes in the distant lights of the city, then the specks of fluorescent color that paint their surroundings.

The way back to Sehun’s house only takes them much less time than when they’d come, or maybe Sehun’s perception of time is a little messed up after the disorienting room and the weed. They manage to get back into Sehun’s room with no harm done, and there are no search lights flashing for Sehun, so he’d count it a success.

As he enters the familiar environment of his room, the exhaustion hits him like a freight train. He doesn’t even have the energy to strip off his jeans as he collapses into bed. Jongin looks equally as tired as he collapses next to the younger, and Sehun can’t even tell him to get off his bed or to leave.

He finds himself drifting off like that, fully clothed with Jongin curled up somewhere  on the other side of the big bed.

Chapter Text

Sehun knows Junmyeon means well. Really, he does.

But why does the older man always have to wake him up so early, knocking sharply on his door when Sehun doesn’t immediately respond to his voice?

He refuses to acknowledge the man outside his door and burrows into the feather duvet, clamping his hands on either side of his head to muffle the noise.  

A sudden memory from the past night flits through his mind. Jongin collapsing into his bed. He’s up in a second, sleep crusted eyes sweeping over the unbearably lit room, only to find it empty. The only hint that Jongin had even been there is the rumpled area at the foot of Sehun’s bed

“Sehun!” Junmyeon calls again, and Sehun stands with a groan, dragging half the duvet onto the ground in the process.

“I’ll be down soon!” he yells. His eyelids feel glued shut and when he finally shuffles into the bathroom, there are deep circles under his eyes from being out so late. The wrinkled clothing still clinging to his body reeks of weed as he tears them off and leaves them in a ball at the bottom of his hamper.

The scent of smoke is still in his hair so he sighs and gets in the shower. He can’t be that late, can he?

*

Sehun is, in fact, very late.

So late, actually, that Kibum glares silent daggers at him when he runs into Calculus, out of breath and tie crooked right as the bell rings. After apologizing profusely to the teacher, he’s sent to his seat.

“Pray tell me,” Kibum raises an eyebrow, “Why you look like you haven’t slept in a week.”

Sehun is about to answer when the teacher begins his lecture so he just shrugs and pretends to pay attention and keep the yawns threatening to crawl up his throat in check.

Midway through class, something hits the back of Sehun’s blazer. Immediately spinning in his seat, he searches out the culprit. Under the big mahogany paneled windows, Park Chanyeol sits with carefully styled hair and a meticulous uniform, staring at him with too-wide eyes. Deliberately, Chanyeol winks and curls the corner of his mouth up into a smirk.

A strange sense of companionship flows through Sehun as he allows himself a smile back.

After class, Chanyeol approaches him on mile-long legs and asks, “Do you wanna have lunch with me and Kyungsoo?”

Sehun accepts automatically, ignoring that jabbing stare Kibum sends his way.

*

Lunch is, without a doubt, the strangest period Sehun has every experienced in his high school life. He’d barely made it out of the Humanities building before Chanyeol appears out of nowhere and leeches onto his side, leading him to where Kyungsoo and he sit. Kyungsoo and Chanyeol eat in the most secluded area behind the Science hall, surrounded by bushes. They sit on the grass, not seeming to mind the stains that would surely get on their uniforms.

Sehun eyes the ground dubiously as Chanyeol flops down easily. A few seconds later, Kyungsoo appears, lugging a big backpack behind him.

“What do you have?” Chanyeol asks before Kyungsoo can even sit down. The smaller rolls his eyes and send a look Sehun’s way like, ‘can you believe this idiot?’ before he hands over a cupcake in a little plastic box from the corner of his lunchbox .

As Chanyeol goes to work licking the cream off the top, Kyungsoo draws his knees up to his chest and eyes Sehun. “I heard you had quite the night last night.”

Sehun thinks that’s an understatement but he shrugs, not wanting to look lame. “It was okay.” He gingerly sets himself down on the grass, and then grabs the container Junmyeon had shoved into his backpack before ushering him into the car earlier in the morning. Fishing into the bag for chopsticks, Sehun flips open the top and stabs them into the pile of noodles.

Instead of elaborating on how he’d nearly coughed a lung out trying to smoke weed, he changes the subject quickly. “So Chanyeol, how did you and Baekhyun meet?”

Chanyeol’s eyes light up the second his boyfriend’s name is brought up. “He saved my life.” He exclaims the exact second Kyungsoo scoffs, “No he didn’t.”

The tall boy frowns and smacks Kyungsoo’s ankle. “Maybe it was vice versa. Or maybe it wasn’t that extreme but essentially there was some saving involved.”

“Some saving and some kidnapping.” Kyungsoo says thoughtfully.

Sehun wants to say he’s shocked, but at this point, he’s not even surprised.

*

Jongin sprawls lazily on the loveseat, legs off the end of the armrest as afternoon sunlight streams through the windows and highlights his hair. The metal bracelets on his wrists jingle and twinkle with every indolent movement he makes, catching the light and glimmering brilliantly. He entertains himself looking through Sehun’s flashy smartphone, scrolling through the younger’s Instagram feed and taking what he declares are ‘ugly’ pictures of himself. Sehun thinks he looks like a model.

Page after page of Sehun’s Psychology essay lie around, a leaf of paper of the desk, another on the floor by the bed, a third on the coffee table by the Jongin. Multiple drafts have gone by, the final only half edited on the computer. To say Sehun is near panicking is an understatement, because the paper is due in two days and he’s been neglecting it.

“I’m going to die.” He announces. His knees draw up to his chest as he fits himself as comfortably as possible in the small spinning chair at his desk. “I’m honestly going to die.”

Jongin rolls his eyes and stands fluidly from the couch. “Let me see.” He makes his way over to the computer and ducks down to rest his chin on Sehun’s shoulder as he skims the document. Sehun wiggles his bare toes absentmindedly, staring at his feet over where his face sits on his knees.

“I didn’t know you took Psych.” Sehun mumbles snarkily. Jongin tilts his head lightly to knock it against Sehun’s, but his eyes don’t leave the screen.

“I didn’t. I dropped out last year. Unfortunate circumstances.” Before Sehun has a chance to ask what that means, Jongin points and declares, “You made a typo.”

Sehun sighs deeply before fixing it. Then he jerks his shoulder. Jongin yelps in surprise as his head falls, but catches himself right before his jaw hits the edge of the chair. “I’m bored of this.” Jongin says as he straightens. “Let’s go somewhere.”

Sehun doesn’t even look up as he continues typing. “Can’t. I have a gala I have to go to.” Junmyeon had only informed him of this in the morning while shoving breakfast into his mouth, some sort of charity event being hosted by one of his father’s coworkers.

Jongin snorts. “A gala,” he mocks in a posh voice. “How splendid.”

Sehun rolls his eyes. “It won’t even be that interesting. Basically it’ll be a bunch of rich old guys and me.”

“Sounds vaguely like that porno I watched last week.”

Jongin.” Sehun flushes, red in the face and down his neck as Jongin throws his head back and cackles. He retreats quickly back to the couch before Sehun can throw an arm out and smack him, phone still dangling from his fingers. He begins tapping something out on it, ignoring the younger’s glare. “What are you doing on my phone?”

Jongin tosses the phone to him casually, and if Sehun were any less athletically able, it would probably fall and break, but he’s not completely incapable, so while he fumbles, it doesn’t drop. “Text me if you get bored.”

There’s a new number in his contact list, with a bunch of heart emojis and Jonginnie written above it. Sehun raises an eyebrow. “You have a phone?”

“I love rich people.” Jongin declares. “Do you think I live in a cardboard box too?”  His bracelets jingle softly as he throws his arms above his head and stretches, the muscles in his forearms showing for a split second before he flops down on the loveseat again.

“I didn’t say that!” Sehun protests. His face feels even hotter after Jongin’s muscles make an appearance. “I’ve never seen you use a phone before.”

“Uh huh,” Jongin mumbles. “Can I crash here for like an hour? If you’re going out tonight then I have places to be, people to see, and I need to be rested.” Before Sehun can answer, Jongin is already tucking his legs up and fitting into the cushions, eyes closing. Sehun sighs and turns back to his essay.

*

The gala turns out to be just as dull as Sehun had expected. The ballroom is done up with beautiful extravagant décor, with bright silvery chandeliers and expensive looking marble sculptures. It all looks too ordinary after the previous night’s setting, the lights too bright after the eerie glow of Wonderland,

Park Jungsoo is too close, his wine scented breath making Sehun’s nose wrinkle. The twenty-something son of real estate moguls practically drapes himself over Sehun the second he spots the younger with a slurred, “Oh Sehun!”

“Hello, Jungsoo-hyung,” Sehun frowns, carefully extracting the elder’s arms from around him. Jungsoo and his friends are always the most irritating group of people at functions like this, sweeping over the ballroom and harassing ladies, drinking all the champagne, and strutting around in their well fitted suits with slicked hair.

Unfortunately, Jungsoo’s father is an important ally for Sehun’s father’s campaign, so Sehun has to be friendly. The older boy swings an arm around Sehun’s neck and begins dragging him to the bar, and although Sehun can’t drink, Jungsoo insists on buying him several nonalcoholic beverages.

Suddenly, Sehun’s mother is there in all her diamond-encrusted glory, waving a gloved hand and taking Sehun’s arm, pulling him away from the bar. “Why must you always associate yourself with such lowlife boys?” she hisses into his ear, eyeing Jungsoo over the top of her champagne glass.

Sehun feels like laughing because his mother would probably implode if she knew what kind of people he was associating himself with these days, let alone letting into their house in the middle of the night. He keeps silent, though, and follows her through the crowd until they reach his father, standing next to a severe looking tall man.

Behind the tall man, hunched over and looking at his shoes, is a sour looking Chanyeol, dressed meticulously in a suave suit with his hair styled up and back. Sehun jerks in surprise, but his mother ignores him in favor of digging her nails into his arm. “Be nice.” She warns as they get closer, throwing a dazzling smile at the older gentleman.

“Hello, Mr. Park!” she greets in a saccharine voice, “This is the son we were talking about, Sehun.” At Sehun’s name, Chanyeol’s head whips up and a smile blooms on his face.

“You go to my school, don’t you?” Chanyeol blinks his wide eyes innocently. The sneaky bastard.

Sehun forces out a smile and nods. “Chanyeol, right?” His words feel too stiff, but Chanyeol’s grin widens as he glances up and down at Sehun’s dress pants and jacket.

Chanyeol’s dad nods in acknowledgement and Chanyeol tugs on Sehun’s sleeve. “We’re going to go catch up a bit. See you at dinner?” he asks his dad, who shrugs and goes back to conversing with Sehun’s father.

“Jesus fuck,” Chanyeol leers as soon as they’re out of earshot, “Are you stalking me or something?” He fishes his phone from his pocket and begins typing wildly, then pulls on Sehun again, leading him through bodies that smell like expensive perfumes until they’re at the wide double doors of the ballroom.

Chanyeol declares, “I need a smoke,” and begins walking towards the hotel door. Once they’re outside, the noises from the gala fade completely and they’re left in the dark night air. It’s not chilly, the April air humid and pleasant on Sehun’s face. Chanyeol produces a pack of cigarettes from his pockets after they settle in a nook near the end of the building and takes one out, then holds the box out to Sehun.

Shrugging, Sehun takes the offered one and holds it out for Chanyeol to light. If his parents ask about the smell he can say Jungsoo was smoking next to him. The first drag makes his eyes water a little, but he doesn’t cough this time.

Chanyeol’s phone buzzes and he flicks through it quickly before holding it up and pointing it towards himself. “Take a picture with me really quickly?” At Sehun’s questioning glance, he adds, “For Baek.”

Sehun finds himself squished under Chanyeol’s arm as the taller boy pulls him close and throws up a peace sign while holding onto his cigarette, then snaps a couple selfies before releasing the younger.

“Why were you hanging out with Park Jungsoo of all people?”

Sehun looks up through his eyelashes at Chanyeol’s flat, handsome face and shrugs. “Family stuff. He’s an asset.”

“To you?” Chanyeol asks, taking a long drag and blowing out softly, “Or to your dad? It’s not your job to do business.”

He knows the elder boy is right but he shrugs pathetically anyways. Chanyeol gives him a meaningful look and looks up at the sky a little wistfully. “It’s easier to be at this kind of function when you stop caring about dumb business deals that don’t have anything to do with you.”

Chanyeol drops the cigarette butt and crushes it under his filthy, tearing at the seams, high tops, an odd pair of shoes to wear with his tailored suit. He follows Sehun’s eyes to his feet and laughs a little. “They can make me dress like a dumbfuck but I don’t need to wear shoes like one too, do I?” He shrugs amicably and sticks his arm out. “Come on, we should get back before they notice we’re gone. We can make fun of Jungsoo inevitably falling on his ass trying to chat people up if you want.”

Sehun bites his lip hesitantly before grabbing a hold of Chanyeol’s arm.

*

Later that night, Sehun finds himself in the back room of Wonderland again, joint stuck in his hand as Chanyeol recounts the idiotic way Jungsoo had fallen into Hyorin, the heiress of a hotel chain, while trying to flirt with her best friend. He’s squished pleasantly between Jongin and Jongdae as they pass around the joint and fill the air with hazy smoke.

With a jolt, Sehun realizes how comfortably he is with these strange people, like he belongs.

Chapter Text

The sharp rapping comes somewhere in the middle of the night.

Sehun wakes with a start, eyes wide as he spots the figure in the window. A quick glance at the clock tells him it’s three o’clock. In the morning. What the fuck.

Digging the heel of his hand into his eyes, he stretches as he rises from the comfort of the bed to shuffle over to the window. He fumbles with the window latch for a second before getting it and sliding the glass away. Sleep heavy eyes make him unable to see Jongin completely as he stumbles in, lacking his usual grace.

“Do you ever sleep?” Sehun grumbles, blinking as Jongin slinks over to flick on the lamp by the loveseat. “Oh my god, what the fuck!” Sehun cries as he finally gets a look at the other’s face. Instantly cursing himself for exclaiming so loudly, he slaps a hand over his mouth and walks over to Jongin, eyes sweeping over his face and assessing the damage.

Dark blood seeps from his nose, a deep bruise blooming below a sharp cheekbone, a gash marring his forehead. Sehun feels a little faint but he forces himself to concentrate. Jongin sways for a second before flopping down on the loveseat, blood dripping in rivulets down his forehead to the sharp line of his jaw.

“Oops,” Jongin mumbles quietly as a droplet falls from his chin onto his lap, staining the light blue of his shredded jeans. Looking up, he says shortly, “I got into a fight. This was the closest place.”

Sehun’s mentally screaming because he does not do well with blood, but Jongin’s eyes are glassy and his fingers shake a little as he scratches absently at the little bloodstain on the thigh of his jeans. “Okay,” Sehun breathes finally, “I’m going to get ice. Don’t move.”

His door creaks painfully loud as he opens it, and then makes his way as softly as possible downstairs to the kitchen. The noise the fridge makes whilst spilling ice makes him cringe, every noise sounding louder than a gunshot in the still house.

Right when the glass is almost filled, a voice behind him makes him jump. “Your kitchen is pretty nice.”

“Oh!” Sehun nearly drops the glass but long tan fingers catch it quickly. “What are you doing?” he hisses, “Someone’s going to see you!” Behind him, Jongin stands on unsteady legs as he swivels his head and takes in the room. He shakes the cup of ice gently before takes a piece out and sticking it into his mouth.

 Jongin looks a little sheepish as he rubs the back of his neck, shrugging as he continues looking at the dark cabinets. Sehun sighs and takes the glass back, continuing to drop pieces of ice into it. “Don’t touch anything.”

As soon as the glass is full, Sehun grabs a couple paper towels and makes a makeshift ice pack, then takes another paper towel and makes a shoddy washcloth. When he turns back around, Jongin has his face suspiciously close to a plate of brownies cooling on the counter. No doubt Junmyeon’s work.

Sehun clears his throat and the older boy looks up with wide eyes. “Sit down at the table.” Thankfully, he doesn’t protest and dutifully plops down at the tiny table in the corner. Sehun and his family never eat here, but he assumes Junmyeon and the servants do.

Jongin winces at the press of the wet paper towel against his forehead, but he keeps his mouth shut, keeping the ice against his cheek as Sehun cleans the blood seeping down his face. Upon closer inspection, his nose isn’t bent and after Jongin presses a couple fingers to the side, he declares it unbroken and Sehun exhales in relief.

Midway through cleaning the blood dripping out of his nose, Jongin looks up, eyes shining, the unlit kitchen throwing black shadows over the curves of his face. “So, those brownies.” He says casually.

“No.” Sehun says firmly, looking anywhere except Jongin’s eyes. As soon as he deems the cut clean enough, he sits back and admires his handiwork. Jongin’s cheek looks a little swollen and very red, but he still has the ice pressed securely to it so hopefully it will be fine. The cut on his forehead, however, looks like it’s about to start bleeding again.

“I have bandages in my bathroom.” He says absently, “Let me throw this stuff away.” Picking up the bloody wet paper towels, he tosses them easily in the trash bin in the corner of the kitchen. The ice he lets Jongin keep for now.

“Are you sure I can’t have one brownie?” Jongin asks again, jutting out his lower lip. Sehun groans and resists the urge to shove Jongin as he nods once, almost imperceptibly. The elder boy’s lips bloom into a bright smile as he practically skips towards the plate. Of course, instead of one, he winds up picking out three, but now that the imminent danger of blood and surprise is over, the fact that it’s three in the morning is setting in and Sehun’s eyes are falling shut.

Jongin is as agile as usual while going up the big staircase, barely making a noise as he slinks upstairs. Sehun, however, is unlucky as every step sets off creaking in the wood.

As soon as the door of his room shuts behind them, Sehun lets out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. “Can I please sleep now?” he asks, turning around to find Jongin sniffing curiously at the dessert in his hand.

Jongin points at his forehead. “Bandage,” he reminds, sinking into the chair in front of Sehun’s desk. Sehun makes a face but stumbles into the bathroom, crouching down and swinging open the cabinet next to the large marble tub. There’s a box of Band-Aids in the corner so he plucks it off the shelf and slams the door shut, then promptly flinches at the echoing bang.

“Don’t get into fights,” he says loftily, throwing the small box Jongin’s way as he drops back into the bed, “Someone with an attractive face like yours shouldn’t go messing it up.” Jongin’s eyebrow quirks at that, but he doesn’t respond.

“Your forehead might scar.” Sehun tries. He pulls the duvet over his shoulders, curling up under the feathery mass, then cracks an eye open to see what Jongin is doing.

Instead of leaving like he’d expected, Jongin has migrated to the open window and is sliding a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket. “Smoke?” he offers amicably, holding one out Sehun’s way. Reluctantly, the younger stands, still holding the blanket fast around his body as he drags it over to the window. Jongin clicks his tongue chidingly and points with the smoking end of his Marlboro Red. “You’re going to make your blanket smell like smoke, dumbass.”

He pouts but drops the duvet on the floor, holding a hand out for the cigarette, which Jongin hands him carefully, “Watch out,” he cautions as Sehun brings it to his mouth, “They’re pretty strong.” For himself, Jongin takes another cigarette out and lights it neatly, wedging it carefully into the corner of his mouth.

“I’m serious about your forehead scarring.”  

Jongin waves him off easily. “I don’t want to die without a few scars.” Sehun thinks about that, trying to wrap his mind around the concept, but it doesn’t make sense. A face as beautifully sculpted as his should be unmarred.

Instead of voicing this, Sehun takes a drag, pride welling up in his chest when he doesn’t cough, eyes only watering a little. As he breathes out and watches silvery wisps disappear into the night air, a strange sense of calm washes over him.

“You look good doing that.” Jongin murmurs after a second, “They look good in your hands.” Sehun looks down at his thin fingers and yeah, he can kind of see why Jongin thinks that. His hands seem dainty holding the slim stick, almost feminine. Jongin’s fingers though, long and bony and powerful looking, would look much better in his opinion. Instead of voicing this, he shrugs and takes another drag, tilting his head back to watch the smoke dissipate into the inky velvet of the sky.

He’s right, he realizes with a start. Jongin’s fingers wrap around his cigarette and as he brings it up to his mouth, his lips part almost sensually, eyelids heavying and then falling shut as he inhales, cheeks hollowing to reveal high bones. He looks extremely good doing that. As Jongin blows out the smoke, his eyes slit open to glance over at Sehun. “You’re staring.”

A breeze from outside ruffles Jongin’s reddish hair, now fading into an almost pink color, and Sehun’s skin erupts into goosebumps at the chill. He yawns and rubs absently at his upper arms. “Zoned out,” he mumbles. The cigarette warms him pleasantly, but the chill of the night is still seeping through his thin shirt.

Jongin finishes his smoke quickly, rubbing it out on the window sill, and at any other time, Sehun would complain, but the silence that falls between them is pleasant, everything so still and tranquil in the shadowed night. After another second, Jongin holds his hand out for Sehun’s cigarette. Without thinking, he hands it over. “Do you want to try something?” Jongin asks, eyes sparkling with contained mischief.

Sehun nods, eyes heavy with exhaustion. He can barely concentrate on Jongin’s voice when it’s so smoothing, practically lulling him to sleep just by talking. “Part your lips,” he instructs, and Sehun finds himself complying easily. Suddenly there’s a hand over his mouth, curled into a loose fist to create a tunnel. “Suck in when I breathe out, okay?”

At Sehun’s soft, “Mhmm,” Jongin grins, eyes curving into pleasant crescents. He takes a drag slowly, eyes rolling back and closing as he inhales. Jongin holds the smoke for a second before leaning forward and pressing his mouth to the end of his own fist. He blows out into the tunnel and Sehun inhales automatically.

Smoke invades his mouth again, his eyes widening as he finally realizes what Jongin is doing. He’s too close, nearly nose to nose, and Sehun’s heartrate spikes as Jongin’s face falls into a slack blissed-out expression and he moves his hand.

Sehun holds the smoke for as long as he can before he sticks his head out the window and blows out. Curling into the air, the grey smoke thins within seconds. Sehun watches it go, then turns to Jongin, who leans his elbows on the windowsill. His inky eyelashes throw shadows down his cheeks as he turns and shoots a little smile at Sehun.

“That was like… the thing Baekhyun and Chanyeol do?” Sehun asks softly. His mind is a flurry of confusion, spinning confusedly as he recalls the way Chanyeol and his boyfriend had locked lips multiple times to exchange smoke.

That,” Jongin says carefully, “Was indirect.”

“Oh.”

Sehun’s head feels fuzzy as he drapes his arms over the sill and goes lax against the window, the breeze tickling his face pleasantly. In the barely visible horizon, there are streaks of pink appearing, the first sign of daybreak.

“Go to sleep, Oh Sehun.” Jongin whispers tenderly, nudging the younger lightly with his hip. Sehun’s nearly passed out already, and as Jongin coaxes him into bed and pulls the duvet from the floor over him, he finally blacks out.

*

“Okay,” Jongin says one night as they make it off Sehun’s property, “If you can lead me to Wonderland by yourself, I’ll buy you a pizza. If you can’t, you buy me a car.”

“Shut up,” Sehun snorts, “I’ll buy you a steak.” At Jongin’s pout, he hastily throws in, “An expensive steak. At a fancy restaurant or something.” Jongin seems appeased enough by this, judging from the way he gestures Sehun forward on the sidewalk. Sehun studies his face for another second to see if he’s serious. The set line of his mouth and the challenge in his eyes seem to be real enough.

Sehun’s eyes flutter closed as he concentrates, trying to remember all the back alleys and tiny streets to take. Finally, he drops his gaze and starts, tugging Jongin along behind him by the sleeve of his leather jacket. Ducking into the alley that separates the wealthier neighborhood from the lower class one, Sehun maps everything out in his mind. It’s simple enough, the walk only twenty minutes with all the shortcuts he’s learned.

“You owe me a pizza.” Sehun says triumphantly as they emerge onto the now familiar street. Jongin sticks his tongue out like a petulant child but links their finger as he opens the door with his other hand. The shop’s muted lights turn the now-fading bruise on Jongin’s cheekbone dark purple.

Baekhyun sits cross-legged on the counter, eyes ringed in black as usual. Instead of his normal stretchy tight black clothing, he has on a hoodie that seems at least five sizes too big, the sleeves well past his hands. “Good morning, children.” He smiles pleasantly, reaching out to pat Jongin’s head as they pass on their way to the back room. Sehun discreetly checks the time on his phone and sees that it’s two o’clock at night.  

“Who’s in tonight?” Jongin asks, finally letting Sehun’s hand drop as he picks up a little blown-glass skull and taps a blunt nail into an eye. The sharp noise is barely audible over the whimsical music-box tune that drifts through the aisles.

“Yixing’s back from China. You know Lu Han’s bound to show up because of him.” Sehun blinks at the foreign names, mentally noting to ask Jongin about them later. Baekhyun waves lazily as Jongin pulls open the door to the back, then ushers Sehun in.

“Yixing is the nicest guy around here, so don’t worry about that,” Jongin says, swiftly slamming the door shut behind them, “Lu Han, however, is basically here to fuck around with Minseok-hyung, so watch out around that crazy fuck.”

It’s not much of a warning, but Sehun takes what he can get, so he nods mutely as Jongin as they enter the room at the end of the hall. As usual, the smoke and purple lights make everything look hazy and unreal. On the couch sits Jongdae, legs up on another man’s lap.

The man doesn’t look particularly like a crazy fuck and when he looks up and spots Jongin, he smiles, dimpling pleasantly so Sehun assumes this is Yixing. His eyes are heavy and a little sleepy looking, and Sehun recognizes the effects of weed immediately.

As the bruise and the cut on Jongin’s face becomes visible, the smile melts off Yixing’s face and he stands quickly (knocking a disgruntled Jongdae’s feet off his lap in the process) and crosses the room with graceful steps in a second. “You’re hurt.” He states, and Sehun is surprised at how high pitched his voice is, soft like honey and melodious.

“And you’re back,” Jongin grins widely, spreading his arms for a hug. Yixing complies easily, but the corners of his mouth turn down in a miniscule manner as he does. “Don’t worry about it. It happened like a week ago and Sehun bandaged me up just fine.”

At his name, Yixing lets go of Jongin and turns to the younger boy. “Jongdae’s told me about you.” Hearing Yixing speak longer sentences, Sehun realizes that the Chinese man has a slight accent, curving his syllables in a way that sounds endearing as he dimples and extends a delicate hand and takes Sehun’s.

Yixing then turns his attention back to Jongin, bringing a hand up to press tentative fingers against the bruise on his cheek. Something uncomfortable churns in Sehun’s stomach as he watches the exchange, Yixing stroking at Jongin’s skin gently, frowning as he does. It looks almost too intimate despite it being completely innocent, and Jongin leans into the touch unconsciously.

Sehun refuses to acknowledge the most obvious answer as he shuffles over to the couch and slumps down next to Jongdae, who rummages around the inside of his jacket before widening his eyes triumphantly and holding up a joint. He holds it up in offering.

Sehun takes it and reaches for one of the lighters littering the table. Before he can pick it up, Yixing has it in his dainty fingers, leaning over the table to pluck the joint out of Sehun’s hand. “Let me,” he says, eyes crinkling prettily. Sehun lowers his eyes and slouches back onto the couch.

He doesn’t mean to act so sullen, but he can’t help the frown that falls on his face as Jongin settles on the floor by Yixing’s feet. The Chinese man sits on the edge of the seat, a lazy arm thrown around Jongdae’s waist.

Jongin reaches up for the joint, which Yixing passes to him after one long drag. Sehun watches the column of his pale throat stretch as he tilts his head back and releases it. One of his ears are pierced, some kind of spiky earring stuck through it.

Jongin had said he’d looked good smoking, but how was one to compare to this new willowy soft creature?

The fact that he feels jealous makes something stir in his belly, an uncomfortable itch creeping through him. Yes, Jongin is his friend, but the urge to pull him away from Yixing sends worry surging through Sehun. He shouldn’t be feeling like this, he can’t be, especially not for Jongin of all people.

A hand on his shoulder has him jerking out of his thoughts, only to look up at the concerned furrow of Jongdae’s eyebrows. “It’s your turn.” He says a little dubiously. The joint in his hand smolders slowly, wisps of thin smoke curling into the room. Sehun clears his throat and takes it.

Three drags later, Sehun should be pleasantly fuzzy, but instead, he watches Yixing stroke his beautiful hands through Jongin’s hair with growing despair and confusion.

When Jongin actually makes a content noise, Sehun’s stomach lurches unpleasantly. “I’ll be right back,” he announces, standing quickly from the couch. Jongin sends him a curious look but lets him go.

Baekhyun’s still on top of the counter when he exits the back rooms, headphones stuck in his ears as he taps out a rhythm onto the surface. “Hey,” he mumbles, pulling an earphone free, “You look awful.” He pats the empty space next to him.

Sehun runs a hand through his hair frustratedly and hops up onto the counter easily, tucking his legs up to curl his arms around his shins. “I think I have a problem.” He admits softly into the denim covering his knee.

Splaying his fingers out indolently, Baekhyun examines his nails before turning his gaze to Sehun. “Explain?”

“I- “ Sehun trails off, unsure of what to say. “I thought something would never happen, but it’s happening now and I’m nervous.”

Baekhyun doesn’t respond immediately, face scrunching in bemusement until finally he shoves an earphone into Sehun’s ear. “I’m not good at talking about these things.” He states as he begins scrolling through his phone for music, “But Chanyeol put a load of shitty bands on this thing and they’ll probably help drown out whatever’s fucking with you.”

English lyrics begin flowing into Sehun’s ears, accompanied by a melancholy tune that makes Sehun feel more sulky, but Baekhyun rests his head on Sehun’s shoulder and he can’t move without sending the smaller boy falling onto the counter.

Midway through the foreign song, Baekhyun clears his throat softly. “I uh, I want to tell you something.”

Up until now, Baekhyun’s always been one of the chattiest in the bunch, with witty comments and a sharp tongue to retort to anything thrown his way. The way his voice softens now is unfamiliar, but it’s so nice to listen to. Sehun hums to show he’s listening and Baekhyun inhales shakily.

“I didn’t like Chanyeol when I first met him. Like, I really didn’t like him. I’m sure you can tell from looking at me but I wasn’t exactly raised in a nuclear family. In fact, I guess I was more of a street rat than anything.”

Sehun’s seen the slums from a distance, the poorer side of the city when they’re directly outside of Seoul. He’s seen the children, often in cheap or insufficient clothing with thin pallid faces. It’s all too easy to imagine Baekhyun as one of them, with his droopy eyes and little sullen mouth. Sehun nudges him gently with his shoulder to gesture him to continue.

“My- My mom, she kicked me out pretty early on. She was into some fucked up shit. And I kind of, uh, got into some shit too. But that’s not the point! The point is, I never thought I would end up happy, much less with someone like Chanyeol, who’s had a privileged life and food and everything fed to him on a silver spoon.” Baekhyun’s mouth curves into a tiny smile. “But here I am. So yeah, don’t be scared of things. It’ll be fine if you just face your fears and do what you want.”

Sehun’s not sure if what Baekhyun says is actually helping, but the elder wraps slender fingers around his wrist and tugs it lightly, sending a grin his way when Sehun looks down at him. The way his lips curl is infectious and Sehun finds himself smiling back, a glimmer of something happy shining in his chest.

*

Yixing appears a couple minutes later, sending a smile his and Baekhyun’s way as he makes his way to the front of the store. Sehun decides then that despite the conflicting feelings stirring inside him, Yixing is nice and his smiles are nice and the way he moves, like fluid, is nice.

A second later, the little bell above the door rings to signal the door opening. A new voice chimes in, but the words sound like gibberish to Sehun’s ears.

With a jolt, he realizes it’s Mandarin. He cranes his neck, trying to see the new person, when Baekhyun whispers, “That’s Lu Han. He’s a fucking psycho.”

As the man appears, Sehun is taken aback by how frighteningly doll-like he looks. Porcelain skin with big wide eyes, pale, almost white-blonde hair. The only things marring his features are a scar on his lower lip and one on his cheek. “I heard that,” he chides, smacking lightly at Baekhyun’s upper arm. He eyes Sehun and sticks a hand out in greeting. “Lu Han. Resident Psycho, apparently.”

“Sehun. Resident Tightass, apparently.”

*

Jongin comes strolling out of the backroom with Jongdae soon, linking his fingers with Sehun immediately as he leans over the counter. Sehun swings his feet idly from his seat and watches Yixing’s mouth move as he forms sharp syllables in Mandarin. It eases the ache in his chest a little when he strokes his hands through Lu Han’s hair as well.

In fact, the more and more Sehun watches, the more he understands that Yixing isn’t treating Jongin any differently than he’s been treating any of the others. It’s strange to see someone so affectionate, fingers lingering on Lu Han’s shoulder, chin resting on Jongdae’s shoulder.

Sehun decides he likes it, though, especially after Yixing sends a dimpled smile his way for the millionth time that night.

(It puts him even more at ease when Yixing presses a kiss to Jongdae’s neck, to which Jongin makes exaggerated gagging noises and says, “Get a fucking room, Jesus Christ.”)

Chapter Text

The idea of being gay is so outrageous, so completely impossible to Sehun.

‘But is it really?’ he thinks to the blurry reflection in the condensation-covered mirror. Water from the shower he’d just taken runs rivulets down his neck and pools at his collarbones. Carefully, he reaches a finger forward and draws a line in the mirror, clearing a strip.

His reflection stares back at him. It doesn’t look any different. What is one to do with learning that they may, in fact, be gay?

He squeezes his eyes shut, wrinkles his nose and slaps his palms over his eyes. Not gay. Not gay. Not gay. Just curious.

Dripping hair falls into his eyes when he opens them again and he has to blink several times to get the water out.

Only he’s not so sure it’s just water from the shower.

*

“Hey,” Sehun says in the middle of one night, “No offense, but can I ask you something?”

Jongin looks up from his phone on the other side of the sofa and quirks an eyebrow. “Usually when people say no offense, it’s when they’re about to say something offensive. But okay.”

Shifting uncomfortably in his seat, Sehun lowers his eyes and asks, “Why is everyone at Wonderland gay? Like, is it coincidental or do you like-?”

To his surprise, Jongin bursts out laughing, an unexpectedly high pitched giggle. To his annoyance, it’s kind of cute.

“You’re dumb.” He announces, gently shoving at Sehun’s side with his foot. Sehun grabs him around the ankle and stares, frowning.

“Okay, let’s say someone is gay. You’re going to look for other queer friends automatically, aren’t you? Because then you can be yourself and not have to worry about shit like getting judged and whatever. Those friends are Minseok and Jongdae. Okay, now let’s say they want a space, somewhere where queer kids such as myself or Baekhyun can relax and be around others. And also do drugs apparently, because Minseok is a businessman who sometimes has extra for us poor street rats.”

Jongin pauses to see if Sehun is following. He nods hastily and gestures for the older boy to continue. “Tell me how you found it.”

“Picture fifteen year old Jongin, drunk and sad and wandering the streets. He’s in with some shitty people. Not as shitty as fifteen year old Baekhyun, but shitty nonetheless. He’s heard people talking about a place where he can be himself, but he's not sure it even exists. So naturally, he’s stumbling around looking for it.”

Sehun can see it easily, a slightly rounder-faced Jongin, dark circles under his eyes and disheveled hair, tired of life and desperate to find the shop.

“The point is that I didn’t find it myself though. I accidentally ran into Yixing, who was at that point fucking Jongdae, and I sort of, uh, threw up all over his shoes.” He has the decency to look embarrassed, pointedly looking away from Sehun for a second before clearing his throat and continuing, “He carried me to Wonderland because I was about to pass out. So yeah, dumbass fifteen year old Jongin found somewhere to be happy.”

He ends with a half-smile directed more towards Sehun’s shoulder than his actual face, but then he shoves his feet into Sehun’s lap and the younger is too busy pushing them off and shrieking to ask any further.

Jongin’s fingers dig into his ankle and he thumbs at the bone lightly. “You should get a tattoo. Right here.”

The sudden subject change has Sehun raising an eyebrow, but he decides not to push it and shrugs. “Don’t those hurt?” he asks.

Jongin grins, all sharp teeth and curling lips, grandiosely lifting up his shirt. “Not particularly.”

The second Jongin’s lean muscles come into view, Sehun feels something stir in his belly, but he pushes it down and forces his breathing steady. His mouth is too dry as he swallows, eyes sweeping over tan inked skin.

He should have known Jongin would look like sin itself, the stark black outline stretched across the skin of his hips. If he doesn’t focus, it looks like tribal designs spread across the area, but then the outline of a wolf begins to take form, head tipped back in a howl. Before Sehun can help it, he has an intrepid hand reaching out to skim fingertips over the creature. It ripples lightly with Jongin’s every inhale, seemingly coming alive under Sehun’s touch.

“I got this when Minseok introduced me to his artist friend. He didn’t care that I was a minor because Minseok pulled some strings.” Jongin’s voice is much softer than before, and he leans closer an inch before pulling his shirt off completely.

Sehun’s fingers tighten into fists when the whole long length of Jongin’s torso becomes visible, but Jongin continues as if it’s nothing.

“I got this one last year.” The new design is much smaller, right in the center of his back between the ridges of his shoulder blades. Sehun’s eyes trace the triangle, then the whirlpool-like shape inside it.

“I like them,” Sehun finally manages to get out, “They’re,” he pauses, searching for a word that would appropriately explain what he feels in his chest. “They’re amazing.” He finally breathes.

Jongin shifts even closer, enough so that Sehun can feel his breath along his lower lip. Jongin looks down, eyes dragging over Sehun’s mouth before they slide back up to his face. Sehun’s heart beats erratically because holy fuck Jongin is about to kiss him. His body thrums with trepidation, a shaky breath falling from his mouth.

Abruptly, Jongin pulls away and leans down to retrieve his shirt. He clears his throat and begins slipping the shirt back on, rising from the bed faster than Sehun would have said is possible. “You should get one.” He says.

Sehun blinks rapidly, mind working too fast for Jongin’s nonchalant voice. “I don’t know.” He mumbles.

Jongin shrugs, picking absently at a loose thread on his jeans, sharp eyes meeting Sehun’s for a second before he breaks eye contact. “I have to go. I’ll see you later?”

Sehun nods mutely, and before he can wonder what the fuck, Jongin’s slipping out the window.

*

“What the fuck,” Jongin crows as soon as he walks through the door, “Are you wearing?”

Sehun huffs in annoyance and tugs at the collar of the truly hideous sweater his mother had forced him into, pulling at the pink fabric. “Ask my parents.” He mumbles. Without thinking, he tugs off the offending piece of clothing, shoulders slumping until he realizes he’s shirtless. “I was at a dinner party.”

Jongin, who sits up straighter the second Sehun’s nipples become visible, smirks a little and reaches forward to pinch one, only to be swatted away.

“Don’t do that.” Sehun says automatically, retreating to the closet to retrieve a shirt. His cheeks burn as he studies his red face in the full length mirror. His hair looks mussed from how he’d pulled the sweater over it. Instead of waiting in the room, Jongin follows him, appearing in the smaller room in the mirror behind Sehun.

“I’m changing.” He frowns, but Jongin doesn’t budge, leaning against the wall and staring with his arms crossed against his chest. Sehun sighs and throws the ugly sweater at his head, but he catches it with ease and rubs some of the scratchy fabric between his fingers before making a face.

Sehun slides on a hoodie and turns back around, only to find Jongin’s attention completely preoccupied by the sweater. He pulls at one of the sleeves experimentally as if to see how much effort he needs to put in for it to rip.

“I still need that!” Sehun cries, grabbing it and shoving it into the nearest drawer. “Quit messing with my shit.”

Jongin grins, all sharp teeth and curved eyes. “Get fucked,” he says, but he dutifully sticks his hands up in surrender and backs out of the closet, so Sehun would call it a win. “Don’t get too comfortable in those clothes. We’re going out.”

“Where are we going?” Sehun asks after he changes into a pair of sweatpants and hops onto the couch next to where Jongin sits, legs carefully folded up under him.

“I owe you a pizza, don’t I?” Jongin tilts his head cockily and reaches out to flick Sehun’s ankle with his thumb and pointer finger.

Sehun yanks his foot away and slaps at Jongin’s forearm. “It’s like ten o’clock. No where’s going to be open.” Only when he looks up does he realize how close Jongin is to him, close enough to see the flecks of glitter in the coal black ringing his eyes. He swallows hard and forces himself to look away.

Jongin’s answering laugh is soft and it makes something deep in Sehun’s belly curl. “Maybe nowhere you would normally go,” He says, and moves even closer so his knees press into the side of Sehun’s thigh. “But I can think of a couple places.”

Sehun licks his lips, gaze flicking up quickly to meet the heavy lidded stare he feels burning into the side of his head. The strong curve of Jongin’s chin, the way his bronze skin pulls over his cheekbones, the slightly lopsided curve of his nose. He wonders absently if it’s ever been broken.

Jongin hums softly and taps his own mouth mindfully. “Don’t do that. It’ll dry your lips out.”

Then whatever borderline flirtatious moment Sehun thinks is going on is broken because Jongin unfolds himself from the couch and reaches a hand out to help him up. “Baekhyun and Chanyeol are meeting us for pizza.”

That makes Sehun exhale in relief, some of the tension in his chest loosening. The thought of sitting at a table alone across from Jongin and his sharp eyes makes his stomach flutter and he hasn’t quite figured out if the feeling is unpleasant or not.

*

Sehun’s sure Jongin has a knack for finding the creepiest, darkest underground places in the city. The so called pizza place is dark, with black leather booths lining the walls. It’s on the worse side of town, not too far from Wonderland. Sehun isn’t actually that surprised.

He is, however, surprised to find Lu Han fit between Baekhyun and Chanyeol. The Chinese man has an arm thrown around Baekhyun’s shoulders, not seeming to notice Chanyeol glancing at the casual gesture every other minute.

Sehun wonders vaguely if Jongin would do stuff like that if the strange brewing feelings turn out to be genuine. The thought of doing the things Chanyeol and Baekhyun do, kissing when they think no one is watching, not caring even if someone is watching, shotgunning smoke off each other, Baekhyun sat comfortably in Chanyeol’s lap, they all make Sehun feel flustered.

Jongin’s voice jerks him out of his stupor as he greets Chanyeol and ushers Sehun into the booth and slides in next to him. Sehun slides in all the way, trapped between Jongin and the wall. He swallows his conflict and looks up, keeping his face neutral as he meets Baekhyun’s curious eyes.

As usual, it’s almost like the older boy knows too much as he studies Sehun’s face with small pursed lips and calculating eyes. There’s something almost sad about them, like Baekhyun’s seen so much more than Sehun ever will, than he ever can.

Baekhyun must understand that Sehun feels twisted up and frustrated, because he nudges the younger’s leg under the table with his foot, pressing his ankle to Sehun’s shin once. Out the corner of his eye, Sehun sees Jongin, Lu Han, and Chanyeol preoccupied in a conversation.

You okay?” Baekhyun mouths so no one can see except Sehun.

He wants to nod, but he’s not so sure.

Instead, he shrugs, the slightest incline of the shoulders. Baekhyun bites the inside of his cheek as he furrows his eyebrows sympathetically.

Suddenly, Lu Han’s voice has them both turning. “I swear, if he doesn’t stop fucking his boyfriend while I’m trying to sleep, I’m kicking them both out.”

Baekhyun smiles despite the harsh words. “He has a very complicated relationship with his roommate.” He explains. Lu Han snorts and turns to Sehun.

“He’s such a dick lately,” Lu Han vents, “Just because he and his boyfriend have proper jobs. As if he wasn’t dealing coke to dumb college kids a couple years back himself. I can’t wait till Minseok lets me move in.”

Jongin raises an eyebrow. “As if Jongdae-hyung is going to let you do that.” To Sehun, he says, “None of us have met the dickwad extraordinaire Lu Han lives with yet. All we know is that they used to work together in China a while back and so they came here and decided to live together.”

“A decision he’s very much regretting.” Chanyeol chimes in.

“I’ve met him.” Baekhyun smiles fondly. “He was really nice. And really tall.”

Lu Han snorts “You've only met him because you’re literally there every single day.” Baekhyun sticks his tongue out in response and pinches Lu Han’s stomach through his shirt, drawing a hiss from the older man.

They go back to plotting ways to kill Lu Han’s roommate, or “get rid of the evil,” as Chanyeol keeps phrasing it. Sehun feels like he’s having an out of body experience as he watches Jongin smile brightly when Chanyeol makes a joke, face open and eyes full of something that makes Sehun’s stomach lurch.

If he hadn’t seen Baekhyun and Chanyeol look at each other, he’d almost be jealous.

Jongin must have noticed his discomfort though, because halfway through a slice of horrifyingly greasy pizza (Sehun’s mother would be frothing at the mouth at such an unhealthy dish) he curls a hand over Sehun’s thigh, palm radiating heat through the light denim of his jeans. Sehun bites his lip and shifts a little closer, and Jongin squeezes his thigh just once.

*

They decide to walk to Wonderland later, the night still young. Chanyeol produces a couple joints from his pockets and lights them up one by one, passing them around as they walk the empty streets. Sehun wonders how risky it is, to be smoking out in the open like this, but Jongin and the others don’t seem particularly worried so he decides to put it out of mind.

There’s a pleasant haze clouding his mind, making him just giddy enough to giggle at any foreign word Lu Han singsongs in Mandarin. It’s his fourth time saying the word orange when they get to the little fluorescent sign of Wonderland, and Sehun’s muffling his laughter into his palms, Baekhyun into the scarf he had wrapped around his neck despite it being surprisingly warm.

There’s barely anyone in the store when they get there, Minseok humming to himself behind the counter. When he spots Lu Han he shoots raises a strong eyebrow. “I guess I wasn’t invited to whatever you all were doing?”

Lu Han automatically hops over the counter and drapes his arms over Minseok’s shoulders. “Pizza,” he explains, “You didn’t miss out on much.”

Sehun watches Lu Han’s honey blonde head dip as he presses his lips to the back of Minseok’s head, and then snaps his eyes over at Jongin, studying the back of his neck. He forces himself to look away when Jongin meets his eyes curiously, eyebrow rising a fraction of an inch.

“Guess who showed up?” Minseok asks, and Sehun doesn’t fail to hear the slight way his voice thickens and his jaw tightens with tension.

Lu Han’s eyes lid a little as he kisses Minseok again and pulls away to lean his elbows on the counter. “Yifan.” He says more than asks. “That fucker hasn’t been here since New Year’s. Always makes excuses.”

From the way the Chinese man’s mouth curls, Sehun’s best guess is the roommate. Even Chanyeol’s eyebrows draw up in surprise, but Baekhyun’s mouth curves in glee.

Yifan?” He practically sings, “Where? I haven’t seen him in so long!”

Minseok warily points a finger towards the back room and Baekhyun practically leaps to the door, tugging Chanyeol along behind him. Jongin is quick to follow, eager to finally get a look at Lu Han’s mysterious roommate, hand still intertwined with Sehun’s so the younger automatically follows.

They cross the little hallways quickly, coming to the closed door of the purple room. Quiet voices echo from the room, followed by a rough laugh.

Sehun’s blood runs cold. He knows that voice, has known it since he was eleven years old, had heard it every day. It’s unmistakable.

Yifan-no, Kris sits on the couch Sehun has sat at so many times, long legs draped over Yixing’s lap, joint between long tapered fingers.

Sehun’s stomach lurches sickly and he freezes in the doorway. Kris, with his piercings and honey blonde mane of hair fits in perfectly in the dark lights of Wonderland, fingers heavy with rings and eyes flecked with black.

Sehun hears himself gasp, sees Kris look up, the languidness leaving his limbs in an instant, shock replacing the softness of his features. He sees Kris’ mouth forming words, probably his name, but his consciousness feels too skewed to properly comprehend it.

Jongin’s hand tightens around his significantly, effectively snapping him out of his stupor. All his senses come rushing back at once, the sheer impossibility of the situation leaving him out of breath.

The air feels too warm, too thick with smoke, the dark walls closing in on him as panic claws up his throat. “Breathe.” Jongin hisses, but he can’t, not when his lungs feel like they’re collapsing. Kris is up in a second, grabbing him by the arm and wrenching him out of Jongin’s grasp to pull him back to the front of the store.

Minseok and Lu Han’s sharp eyes follow them all the way through the aisles of glasswork, Sehun mute as Kris pulls him along. The second they’re outside, Kris pushes the younger into the alley beside the store and follows a second later.

“Breathe. Come on, in and out,” Kris instructs, and somehow Sehun finally can, lungs filling up.

“Why are you here? How are you here? How do you know them?” The words come out sharp, like accusations. Kris’ face becomes subdued and he doesn’t respond.

“How could you? You, you’re a liar. How can you?” Sehun doesn’t miss the way Kris’ jaw clenches, strong eyebrows furrowing, but he can’t feel anything except for hot anger twisting in his belly, betrayal flooding through him.

“Sehun,” Kris reaches out for his wrist, but Sehun flinches out of the way automatically, snapping his hand back.

“I can’t believe this! You knew all of them! I bet you knew Jongin too! Is he in on this?” His voice rises in panic with every word, but Kris keeps staring, gaze unfairly calm against Sehun’s hot cheeks and burning eyes.

Angry tears spill over, sliding down Sehun’s face. Kris sighs, palms sliding up his face to thread through his own hair. “I don’t know him. I’ve seen him before, yes, but we haven’t officially met. I don’t know Chanyeol either.” Kris’ face softens as he reaches out again, this time stopping short of Sehun’s forearms. “I know what kind of place this is. Lu Han, Yixing, and I are friends, so I know Minseok by extension.”

Sehun’s vision is still blurry and his mind still feels hazy with rage so he can’t seem to focus, but Kris’ fingers stretch another inch so the tips touch his forearm. “It’s okay if you fit in here. It’s fine if you like guys. I know that’s why Minseok made this place in the first place. Do you like guys, Sehun?”

Sehun flushes deeply, immediately remembering the previous night’s almost-kiss. Kris’ question hangs in the silence between them.

“I’m not- I mean, I’m no-“ Sehun falters midsentence, fingers tightening into fists at his sides. Frustration wells up in his chest. “Are you?”

Sehun says the words without thinking, but as soon as they’re out of his mouth, genuine curiosity spikes in him. Why else would Kris be a part of Minseok’s circle? Why else would Lu Han and he be so close? Jongin’s words echo through his mind. You’re going to look for other queer people to be friends with.

Kris’ furrowed eyebrows and sullen mouth gives him away. “Oh my god.” Sehun murmurs. “Oh my god.”

“Sehun!” Kris’ voice is sharp, making him startle. “You’re not thinking straight, Jesus fucking Christ, how high are you?”

“Probably not as high as you.” Sehun scoffs. His nails dig into the soft palms of his hands, stinging pain cutting through the anger.

Kris’ downturned mouth and sad eyes are too much for him to handle. Sehun does the only thing that seems logical to his panicking brain. He steps away, out of reach before Kris can reach out again and turns swiftly, walking away as fast as his legs will carry him.

Kris calls out after him, but he ignores it, seeking out the only face he can think about now. Jongin stands, cigarette in hand, against the front of the store. One look back into the alley and Kris’ distressed face has Sehun’s consciousness tilting. Instead he focuses on Jongin’s smooth face, the familiar scent of cigarette smoke and cologne, and the small hesitant curl of his mouth.

“I want to go home.” He manages to get out.

Jongin doesn’t even blink, nodding and reaching a hand out, rough palm sliding against Sehun’s as he pulls the younger closer.

Sehun inhales deeply through his nose, automatically calming at the proximity. Jongin leads him down the street silently, keeping their hands together. After a while, he stops. The abrupt movement makes Sehun slam into the solid line of his back.

They’re in an alley, shadows obscuring Jongin’s face as he asks, “Why are you so upset? Honestly?”

Sehun’s breath hitches. He doesn’t now to answer, not with all the heavy, dark confusion swirling around inside him. Jongin’s face comes into view as his eyes adjust to the lack of light, but his expression is unreadable. Sehun’s eyes sweep over the firm set of his jaw, watching the tendon tense and loosen.

“I don’t know.” He finally whispers truthfully. His body feels overtired, limbs tight and eyes drooping with exhaustion. He doesn’t know the answer to Jongin’s question or Kris’.

“Is it any business of yours to know why he’s here? Why does he need to tell you about his personal life?” The words are spoken coldly, like it’s somehow Sehun’s fault.

“Why are you doing this?” Sehun whispers, “We’re friends, you’re suppose-“

“Shut up! For fuck’s sake, shut up, Oh Sehun.” Jongin grabs both his hands and softens his voice at the hurt on Sehun’s face. “I’m saying this because I am your friend, you dumbass. Is freaking out over Yifan being in Wonderland going to solve anything? How is what he does in his spare time affecting you at all?”

“Kris.” Sehun mumbles. “His name is Kris.”

“Is Kris having a life outside of working for you going to affect you at all?” Jongin’s eyes go wide, the dark alleyway pulling the shadows of his eyelashes down his face.

“No.” The word feels forced out.

“What are you afraid of? Confrontation? Being gay?” Jongin scoffs and without a warning, pulls him closer. “Are you afraid of this?” His voice pitches lower, and Sehun has to try hard to look anywhere but his achingly beautiful face.

Jongin leans forward another inch until Sehun can feel his breath on his face. Oh god, he thinks before Jongin closes the distance between them and brushes his plush lips against Sehun’s.

It’s not his first kiss. Of course it’s not, he’s 17 and not bad looking, but it’s Jongin, with his sharp cologne and rough hands, and Sehun feels his insides melting as he tries desperately to keep any grip on sanity he has left. Jongin’s lips are warm on his, but it’s too chaste as he breaks away almost immediately.

“See?” Jongin asks softly, finally releasing his wrists. “It’s not that bad. Please calm down.”

Sehun’s head feels clearer than it has in days, the silent war raging inside him suddenly stilling. “Okay.” He murmurs. “Okay,” he takes a deep breath, then lets it out through his mouth, letting his body go lax and lose all the tension that’s been building up. “Thank you.”

Jongin smiles lopsidedly. “Don’t make anything of it.” He taps his lower lip mindfully and begins walking again. “Come on.”

Sehun feels something flutter in his chest as his heart lurches and he follows on slightly unsteady legs.

Chapter Text

Sehun’s fingers shake under the hot water of the faucet as he scrubs his hands. It’s Sunday night, and he should be doing homework but there’s a migraine brewing behind his forehead and his head throbs every time he tries to look at a textbook.

The inevitable thought of university applications makes his headache even worse, and amongst the thoughts of test scores and higher education, he finds himself touching his fingertips to the swell of his bottom lip. The memory of the kiss has been swirling around his mind all weekend, the thought of Jongin’s lips on his consuming all this thoughts, leaving him breathless for something more.

Wide eyes in the mirror find the pink skin of his mouth, and he looks at himself, examining every facet. His lips have never been that red, have they? And his eyelashes, they weren’t so long just last week, were they?

Sehun finds himself smiling slightly, but it drops right off when another pulse of pain spreads through his head.

He finishes washing his hands and wonders if Junmyeon is still downstairs to bring him some aspirin. A quick glance at the big ornamental clock on his desk tells him it’s only eight, so Junmyeon shouldn’t have left yet for his own apartment.

He shuffles down the hall to the stairs, hands scrabbling to hold onto the railing as he makes his way down. His legs shake a little and he wonders if he’s actually just tired or if he’s about to be sick.

The wood floor is glossy but cold under his bare feet as he makes his way to the kitchen, letting the door swing shut behind him. Junmyeon stands at the sink, apron (Sehun would scoff but he doesn’t have the energy) tied around his waist as he washes dishes and hums softly to himself.

Sehun feels something strange clawing up his throat as he watches the older man. He hasn’t felt this child-like in a long time, but also too old, and definitely too young to be feeling that way. Maybe it’s the oncoming migraine or cold, but Sehun suddenly feels like a lost kid.

Once, when Sehun was twelve and Junmyeon had just come to work for them (from where, Sehun has no idea,) he’d been extremely sick, vomiting every other hour and not able to keep anything down. He remembers how Junmyeon had fretted because his parents had been out of the country, and he remembers Junmyeon making multiple kinds of soup, trying to get Sehun to eat anything. Kris had stood in the corner of the room, unreadable look on his face as Junmyeon sat at his bedside and made Sehun try every single one, only to find that not even the thin broth could be kept down.

Now, he slinks over to the sink and lets his head drop onto Junmyeon’s shoulder. He smells like chocolate and other sweets, and that makes Sehun smile a little.

Junmyeon doesn’t even turn around. “Don’t you have things to be doing?”

Sehun laughs softly. “Sorry, Mom.”

His voice must make Junmyeon surprised for some reason, because the older man startles, dropping the dish in his hand into the sink and splashing water into himself. “Oh, sorry,” Junmyeon giggles nervously, “I don’t know why I did that.” He laughs a little and wipes his hands off on the apron before shutting off the water and turning. “Did you need something?”

Sehun scrunches his nose. “M’sick, I think.”

Junmyeon’s eyebrows draw together in concern as he reaches up to press a hand to Sehun’s forehead. After a second, he says bemusedly, “I don’t think you’re feverish.”

At Sehun’s stricken expression, he backtracks quickly. “Maybe you’re just under stress with schoolwork, or you know, you don’t feel well because of whatever reason. I can give you some pain medication and send you back upstairs to get some rest but that’s about it.”

Sehun doesn’t reply, fingers winding idly around a loose thread in his pajama bottoms. Junmyeon’s voice is soft as he asks, “Unless you want to talk about something?”

Hesitating, Sehun finds himself being guided to the little table, sat in the same chair Jongin had been in when he’d been bruised and bloody. Junmyeon settles across from him, concern clear on his face.

The problem now is how much he can say to Junmyeon without giving everything, including Kris, away completely. “I’m tired,” he finally says, not sure how to sum everything up. “And there’s a bunch of stuff piling up and I just don’t want to deal with it but I have to eventually.”

It’s vague, as explanations go, but luckily Sehun knows that Junmyeon won’t push. Instead, the older man leans forward, elbows on the table, cupping his face in his hands. “I don’t mean to sound overbearing or motherly,” he begins, and Sehun has to laugh at that.

“You’re not motherly?” he teases, cackling again at Junmyeon’s faux-hurt expression.

Junmyeon frowns exaggeratedly and gets up, calling, “Tea?” over his shoulder. At Sehun’s nod, he begins bustling around the cabinets. “If you want to talk about it, I’m not leaving for another half hour.”

Sehun lays his arms on the table and drapes his body, head on his forearms. “I don’t know,” he whines, the noise muffled by the sleeve of his pullover. “I have a friend and he’s been really confusing lately. I don’t know if he thinks we’re close or not, because I really like being friends with him, but I don’t think I’m as important to him.”

Junmyeon hums, signaling him to continue, so Sehun squeezes his eyes shut and keeps talking. “And I found something out recently about someone else, and I don’t know what to do with the information because it’s technically their own business but it’s bothering me.”

There’s a tap on the top of his head followed by the soft thump of a mug being set down, so Sehun raises his head and grabs the mug, grimacing when the hot porcelain scalds his palm. Gritting his teeth and bearing it, he blows and watches the smoke curl in wisps lighter than cigarette smoke and condensation dot the sides. The dark surface of his tea ripples with the force and he watches absently as the surface calms again slowly.

“You know when you don’t understand something is affecting you or you ignore something, but then it hits you all at once?” Sehun asks. His voice is reserved, but Junmyeon’s eyes flit over him, examining every facet.

Junmyeon smiles, lips curling minutely before he takes a sip of his tea. “More than you think I do,” he admits finally. His voice almost sounds sheepish, like a child who’d been caught doing something they shouldn’t. Sehun wonders, not for the first time, what Junmyeon’s life had been like before he’d come to work for them.

“Anyways,” he continues, drawing Sehun’s attention again. “I think you shouldn’t be affected by someone else’s personal business, especially if they chose not to share it with you.”

Sehun wonders just how much Junmyeon knows about Kris and his tendencies with how close the two are.

The thought of Junmyeon of all people inside Wonderland, with his wide eyes and maternal habits makes him laugh out loud. “What?” Junmyeon asks, and Sehun quickly shakes his head, averting his eyes back to his tea. He takes a cautious sip, sighing in relief when it doesn’t burn his tongue.

“And the friend who doesn’t seem to like you, maybe he’s just not good at expressing himself? What if he just can’t show that he values your friendship the same way you can for him?”

Of all the people Sehun has met, Jongin is definitely not one of the ones who aren’t good at self-expression, but when Junmyeon looks at him expectantly, Sehun nods. “Thanks,” he says. Despite most of the advice not being especially helpful, his chest does feel lighter.

Sehun raises his mug to take another sip of tea, but to his surprise, there’s nothing left.

The empty mug kind of looks like how he feels.

*

It’s not a homosexual crisis per se, (he’d looked the term up on the internet) but by the time Sehun drags himself back up to his room, there are tears caught in his lashes and the steady pounding has returned to his head along with a new horrible sense of dread in the pit of his stomach.

The latter, he assumes has been building for a while, but it’s reaching its peak because there are actual bona fide sobs racking up his throat and making his chest heave.

Curled in a fetal position under his thickest duvet, Sehun cries until he can’t anymore, and then some.

The realization takes just a little of the pressure away, so he says the word out loud. He whispers it to himself until his mouth is dry and his voice slurs with exhaustion. Gay, gay gay gay gay.

It’s surprisingly easy to come to terms with it when his coherency is returning and his face feels splotchy and too hot. Men. He likes men.

And maybe, just maybe he likes Jongin.

*

The next morning, Sehun gets in the car to school with his heart beating in his throat. Kris’ expression is carefully blank as he opens the door and even more so when he catches Sehun’s eye in the mirror by accident.

Five minutes into the ride, the tension is too thick for him to bear anymore.

“Wait.” Sehun tries softly, but his voice shakes too much. “Hyung, I said wait.” As an afterthought, he adds on a quick, “Please.”

Kris’ knuckles are white with how hard he grips the steering wheel but he exhales and turns off the small road and parallel parks on the side between two other cars. “Yes?” he asks finally.

The silence in the car makes Sehun feel like he’s suffocating, lungs twisting and throat drying up as he forces the words out of his mouth. “I’m sorry. You know, for Friday.”

Kris turns, earring swaying as he does. Today, unlike usual, he’d put in a long chain-like bauble into one of the multiple holes in his ears, and it catches the early morning sunlight, glimmering brilliantly. “Are you?” Kris asks. It reminds Sehun of Jongin’s earrings.

Sehun nods, the thoughts of Junmyeon’s advice from the conversation they’d had the previous night swirling through his mind. “I didn’t mean to get so mad. I was just… surprised to see you there. I’m sorry; your personal business has nothing to do with me.”

Sehun forces his eyes up from the legs of his ugly uniform to catch Kris’ gaze in the mirror. The Chinese man’s mouth lifts a little and he blinks slowly. “Thank you for apologizing.” He finally says.

Sehun breathes out a sigh of relief he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. As Kris starts the car again, he slumps against the seat. Finally, he feels more at peace with himself than he has all week.

*

Kyungsoo corners him at lunch, thick eyebrows drawn together. “Why are you being so weird?”

Sehun smiles and sits down in the grass easily next to Chanyeol, who for once isn’t speaking mile a minute and is busy doing something on his phone, face scrunched up in concentration.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Sehun grins, showing all his teeth.

Kyungsoo frowns and smacks his thigh. “Don’t do that, it makes you look ugly.” Sehun grins even wider.

“I think Sehunnie’s in love,” Chanyeol chimes in, finally looking up from his phone. “Look at him smiling and giggling at everything we say.”

Kyungsoo peers at him over his sandwich and squints. “That, or he’s high.”

“Wake and bake.” Chanyeol supplies helpfully.

“I didn’t!” Sehun protests, but the smile on his face probably doesn’t help his credibility. “I just realized a couple things and now I’m really happy.”

Chanyeol slings an arm around his shoulders and croons, “Young love!”

“You’re only a year older than him.” Kyungsoo deadpans, and both Sehun and Chanyeol burst out into giggles at that.

“Are you sure you’re not the one who’s high?” Kyungsoo nudges Chanyeol with his foot and the taller grabs his ankle and pulls.

Sehun watches Kyungsoo yelp and hit Chanyeol over the head, smiling helplessly the whole time. He probably looks like an idiot, but somehow it doesn’t matter to him.

*

Actually seeing Jongin though, makes Sehun’s heart flutter anxiously.

Still, when the inevitable knock comes that night, followed by Jongin’s face in the window as he works it open, Sehun can’t keep the dumb grin off his face.

It fades a little when he sees the way Jongin wobbles on his way over to the bed, his eyes lidded and heavy, circled with smearing black and hair disheveled.

“We’re going out, aren’t we?” Jongin asks, voice high and giggly. He peers at Sehun in his pajama bottoms and t-shirt, scrunches his face up in confusion, and says, “You’re not dressed.”

The thought of going out makes Sehun’s stomach lurch unpleasantly as he wrinkles his nose in distaste. School is always hellish the mornings after he and Jongin go out. “We went out almost every night last week.” He mumbles, feeling as if he’s letting Jongin down, “I thought we could stay in.” At the words, he glances up hopefully through his eyelashes at Jongin’s face, only to find it still bewildered and a little hurt.

Sehun’s chest constricts at the thought of a disappointed Jongin, but more than that, he has the urge to pull Jongin into his bed and wrap him in blankets and tell him to get some sleep because the black glittery smudges around his eyes don’t hide the dark circles of exhaustion as well as Jongin thinks.

“How about we hang out here tonight?” Sehun tries to make his voice a little coy, “Just the two of us, like it used to be.” Jongin’s eyes shine with dilated pupils as he considers Sehun’s offer, lips pursed in thought. Sehun wants to reach over and smooth the worry out of his brow and wipe away the bags under his eyes. “We could watch a movie or something.” Sehun tries, voice letting through a little of his concern. “I’ll open the windows and we can smoke something.”

Jongin’s mouth twists strangely at that. “Listen to yourself,” he murmurs, “Offering to smoke up with me.” Jongin shakes his head and bows his head down. When he meets Sehun’s gaze again, his eyes are clear and lidded with purpose. “How about this? I’ll stay if you do me a favor.”

Sehun ponders over this for a couple seconds. A favor to Jongin could be a lot of things. But, as he watches the lazy way Jongin moves through his room, posture somehow perfect the entire time, Sehun finds himself blurting out, “Okay. Whatever it is, okay.”

Jongin turns his head sharply and walks over to the bed, curling up at the foot of it, right across from where Sehun sits. He smiles felinely, and says the words that make Sehun’s heartrate jump.

“Kiss me.”

Sehun feels his eyes go wide as thick, cloudy panic begins to take hold of his mind. A small, ‘huh?’ falls from his lips before he can stop it. He’s blinking too much as he tries to focus on Jongin’s arched eyebrows and sullen lips.

It’s not like he hadn’t before. Sehun can still feel the phantom brush of Jongin’s lips over his from ages ago, soft and plush as he’d cradled Sehun’s cheek in his rough hands. But this, kissing Jongin while they’re sober, when they aren’t shotgunning, while he has full awareness, this is something new and dangerous and exciting.

What would it mean for them? Sehun’s fingers itch to curl into the front of Jongin’s shirt and tug him closer, but he refrains as Jongin raises his eyebrows impatiently. If they kiss, would it mean something more?

Suddenly, in the midst of his racing thoughts, Jongin’s hand comes into view as he wraps a calloused palm, warm and heavy, over the back of Sehun’s neck. “Don’t think.” He instructs lowly, “Just do what you want to.” It’s the same advice he’s been giving Sehun since the beginning. Pretend there are no consequences.

Instinctively, Sehun leans forward.

Jongin’s lips are so warm on his, so soft, so slow, as he sighs out, “There you go,” molding his mouth slowly into Sehun’s. Inexperienced as he is, Sehun knows that sitting there with his lips pressed simply to Jongin’s is not in any way the correct method to kissing, so he lets Jongin ease his mouth open with his small wet tongue. The inside of Jongin’s mouth tastes so sweet as he slides his tongue against Sehun’s.

It’s so different from their last lazy mistaken brush of the lips in the alleyway, filled with purpose and affection, and Sehun’s stomach lurches with anticipation.

And then it’s over.  Jongin pulls back and licks over his lips, this time nervously. “That was okay, right?” Sehun stares for a second, mind muted completely except for the thrum of excitement shooting through his body. How long had he wanted to do this? How many days had he seen Jongin’s ethereal profile or his flawless smirk and wanted to kiss him senseless? The pleasure of just giving in overwhelms his mind and he instinctively leans in again.

“Oh,” Sehun sighs, “That was okay. That was very okay.” He chases Jongin’s lips and presses another chaste kiss to them Then another, and another. Jongin makes a little surprised noise in the back of his throat but he pulls Sehun closer, wrapping a steady arm around his waist. Sehun melts into the touch fluidly, body supported by Jongin’s firm chest.

The way Jongin’s mouth molds to his is so perfect, so sweet, and Sehun wants to do this forever. Every mental barrier in his head gets broken down quickly, and any protest his mind wants to conjure up fades away. The arm around him tightens protectively and Sehun waits for Jongin to coax his lips open, tongue running soft like velvet over the seam of his mouth. The breathy gasp of his own voice sounds in Sehun’s ears but he can’t bring himself to care when Jongin is cradling his face so nicely with his free hand, calloused fingers rubbing over the smooth curve of his cheek.

Jongin,” Sehun breathes, “Jongin, Jongin, Jongin,” and he would say it a thousand-no, a million times if he could. Jongin looks up, starry eyed, as he sweeps his little pink tongue over his thick lips.

“I’ve wanted this for so long. I thought you would never let me.” Jongin murmurs, pausing to take a deep breath. “I was scared you would hate me.”

Sehun knows that’s not possible. He would never hate Jongin, he could never hate Jongin. The idea itself seems so alien, a life where he dislikes Jongin, that he has to swallow the bile rising in his throat at the thought. “Never,” he promises solemnly, “I could never.”

Jongin’s eyes crinkle as he smiles and Sehun thinks that it’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen.  “Good.” Jongin tells him, leaning forward to chastely press his lips to Sehun’s again. “I don’t think that would work for my nefarious purposes.”

“Oh?” Sehun allows just a hint of flirtatious teasing into his voice, “What purposes would those be?”

“Maybe I should just show you.” With that, Jongin leans forward again and presses his parted lips to Sehun’s, easily sliding his tongue into his mouth. Sehun kisses back with more fervor this time, mouth slipping hot and flush against Jongin’s. Sehun has been kissed before, of course he has, but the way Jongin’s mouth fits over his, too warm and plush and soft, its’ so new and it’s so good. Sehun thinks he could kiss Jongin for hours and not get bored.

But then Jongin’s hand slides from around his waist to the hem of his shirt, tugging at the fabric lightly before slipping up to press the warm palm to Sehun’s stomach, and forget about not getting bored because why kiss when Jongin can touch?

There are fingers trailing up his stomach to rest lightly on his sternum. “I can feel your heartbeat.” Jongin breathes softly, lips curving into a smile against Sehun’s. “Do I make your pulse race?”

Sehun gasps a small “Yes!” as Jongin’s mouth drags down his chin to press flush to his jaw. “You always do, and it’s so- it’s so unfair,” Sehun mumbles. Jongin laughs a little breathlessly and licks a thin stripe down the sharp line of his jaw.

“Tilt your head back for me.” He instructs, and Sehun obeys without even thinking about it. Suddenly there is an open mouth pressed to the junction where his neck meets his shoulder and Jongin bites down, hard. Sehun gasps at the sting of pain that flares up his neck but Jongin keeps a hand on his waist, keeping them pressed flush together. “Easy,” he warns, warm tongue flicking out to run over the red skin. It eases the ache a bit but more than that, it sends something hot down Sehun’s spine.

“Do you trust me?” The words are whispered into the shell of Sehun’s ear and the younger nods immediately. Of course he does.

In a second, Jongin has his hands on the front of Sehun’s pants, long fingers undoing the button with practiced ease. Instead of panic, a strange sense ease settles over Sehun’s body as the elder tugs the trousers down soft thighs. “Lay down.” He says, and Sehun scrambles to obey, falling flat on his back immediately.

It’s the first time someone has seen him so exposed, sprawled amongst the sheets in a way that feels explicit. Sehun shivers, thighs rubbing together uncomfortably as he tries to breathe deeply and evenly. Jongin’s eyes drink him in greedily, from his flushed face to the way his shirt rides up to expose his flat lower belly.

Jongin grabs the bottom of his shirt and pushes it up, exposing his chest. He cups his hands over the front of Sehun’s briefs, palm pressing against his cock through the fabric teasingly before pulling away. His eyes burn into Sehun’s and he asks, “Can I suck you off?”

Sehun presses his lips together hard, not trusting his voice as he nods again, eyes squeezing shut. Jongin’s mouth curves minutely into a smirk and he sinks down the length of Sehun’s body to the foot of the bed. He’s made out with people before once or twice, but what Jongin wants is brand new, making little flutters of trepidation rise in Sehun’s stomach.

“H-have you done this before?” he asks, and Jongin simply smiles, sliding a couple fingers into the waistband of his briefs before beginning to pull them off.

Sehun can’t speak anymore, mind blanking as Jongin drags his gaze down the line of his body to the ridges of his hips, then lower. His cock curves towards his stomach, flushed and hard, and he can’t help blushing under Jongin’s heavy stare.

Evidently, Jongin has done this before, because he knows exactly how to stick his thumb into his mouth, coat it with saliva, then rub it into the underside of the head of Sehun’s cock in a way that makes his back arch and his mouth fall open.

He ducks down, mouth attaching to the place where Sehun’s thigh meets his pelvis. The feeling of Jongin’s rough hands on him, the sudden warm suction against his skin, make Sehun’s head spin and his mind go blank as he tries desperately to grasp at any remaining threads of composure. It’s fruitless though, because Jongin looks up, lips hot against Sehun’s hip bone, eyes dark with lust and Sehun can’t think anymore.

“Oh!” Sehun gasps when Jongin finally wraps his fingers around the length of Sehun’s cock, nothing except spit easing his way as he jerks his loose fist, once, twice.

He hopes Jongin isn’t expecting him to last long, because there’s no way in hell he can with Jongin’s calloused thumb grinding methodically into his frenulum.

A second later, Jongin looks up through his eyelashes. Without a warning, his lips part and slide over the head of Sehun’s cock, cheeks hollowing and the wet insides of his mouth tightening. He pushes Sehun’s hips back down on the mattress when they threaten to rise, tongue flickering over the slit in the head of his erection.

Sehun feels the last bit of sanity leave him when Jongin meets his eyes, heavy lidded and dark, mouth stretched red and obscene over his cock. Jongin’s tongue laves over the head, lapping up the precome that beads at the top. Sehun’s hips jerk again, but Jongin holds him down firmly, fingers stroking little rapid circles over the stretch of skin on his hips.

The knot in the pit of Sehun’s belly tightens dangerously as Jongin sinks down another inch, easily swallowing down the excess saliva in his mouth. The resulting effect has his mouth clamping around Sehun’s erection and Sehun honestly thinks he could faint.

Instead, he ends up coming too early with a high cry the he attempts (and fails) to muffle into his palms.

Shit, Sehun,” Jongin mumbles after swallowing everything down easily, “Oh my god.”

Sehun sits up, hands still trembling from how hard he’d been gripping the sheets. Before he can open his mouth to reply, Jongin tackles him into the bed and deadweights, pinning him down and rendering him immobile. Sehun gasps as the breath is knocked out of him, and Jongin takes the opportunity to push their mouths together sloppily.

Fuck. Fuck, fuck, Jongin’s mouth is salty and bitter, and Sehun nearly jerks away when he realizes it’s his come that he tastes. It’s a repulsive thought, but somehow with Jongin practically writhing on top of him and the hard press of the older boy’s erection against his hip, Sehun winds up moaning and licking incoherently into Jongin’s mouth to get more of the flavor on his tongue.

Sehun can tell Jongin is wound up so tightly, hips rocking unrestrained against Sehun’s thigh, until he buries his face in Sehun’s shoulder and whines high in his throat, a noise he wouldn’t have expected from Jongin of all people.

Jongin pulls away suddenly with a groan, and when he blinks, the haze clouding his eyes slowly disappearing, Sehun understands what just happened.

“Did you just come in your pants?” he asks stupidly.

Jongin flushes in the dim light. “Shut up.” He sits back on his heels and grimaces. He wriggles out of his jeans easily, pushing them off the bed so they pool onto the floor. “Sweatpants?”

Sehun turns over onto his side and looks up, pointing at the closet. “Help yourself,” he says, because he knows Jongin will. When Jongin gets up, Sehun watches the way his tan thighs shift, the tight black of his briefs stopping midway down to his knee. The muscles shift under his skin and suddenly Sehun’s mouth is dry. As Jongin’s retreating back disappears into the closet, Sehun turns back over onto his back.

His eyes flutter shut on their own accord, but a second later, Jongin’s hand is on his still bare chest and they snap open again. “I have to go,” Jongin murmurs, “You should probably sleep so you don’t die at school tomorrow.”

Sehun blinks. “Oh, yeah okay,” he reaches up and grabs Jongin’s hand, tugging him down so he can raise his head and press their mouths together. This kiss is different from the previous, unheated and slow. When Jongin pulls away, Sehun licks his lips instinctively and smiles.

“Things aren’t going to be, like, weird between us or anything, right?” Jongin’s eyebrows draw together as he talks, absently picking up his ruined jeans and folding them up.

Sehun squints. “I don’t think so. I’m not going to have an existential crisis, if that’s what you’re thinking.” On the contrary, he’d already had one the previous night with Junmyeon, but what Jongin doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

Jongin’s swollen mouth turns up and he smirks, fingers running through his hair to fix it from its disheveled state. “I’ll see you later then.”

Sehun hums sleepily and turns back over. Jongin turns off the light as he goes, throwing the room into shadow. The low creak of the window is a familiar noise by now, and Sehun swears he hears Jongin laughing softly to himself as he carefully maneuvers down the tree.

Sehun falls asleep with the taste of Jongin’s mouth on his.

Chapter Text

There’s a storm brewing the next Friday, the kind that makes Junmyeon hum and stand at the big bay windows in the kitchen and stare outside with big glassy eyes. The sky is dark with thick charcoal clouds, the rain pounding in sheets against the window, and Sehun sits with his laptop on the kitchen table typing out an essay after school, occasionally looking up to glance at the tenseness built up in Junmyeon’s shoulders, the way his shoulder blades show through his shirt as he hunches over.

Summer rain, Junmyeon likes to call it, the kind of condensed humidity that makes the back of Sehun’s neck damp with perspiration and his mouth dry from the heat. It’s not summer yet, but the last dredges of spring are fading into more sunny days and less drizzle and fog.

The steady clicking of his fingers across the keyboard and the warm yellow lights make everything slow down, lulling both of them into ease and familiarity. The kitchen smells like whatever confection is baking in the oven, sweet and buttery, and Sehun inhales deeply, basking in the tranquility.

The tea kettle whistles then, shrill and demanding, snapping Junmyeon out of his stupor. Sehun averts his eyes back to his computer screen and waits until there’s a steaming mug in front of him before glancing up and asking, “Are you okay?”

Junmyeon’s eyes are distant but his lips twitch up into a faint smile. “Fine,” he waves off easily, and Sehun decides to let it go because Junmyeon has gone silent again, fingers wrapped around the scorching mug.

Junmyeon slides into the seat across from him and taps his fingers on the table idly. “You’ve been spending a lot of time in here lately,” he comments nonchalantly. His nails sound soft against the wood.

Jongin hasn’t been around all week, sending Sehun a simple text- too busy- the one time he had actually asked where the elder was, so with nothing else to do, Sehun has found himself sat in the kitchen with his computer more often than not. “A change of scenery,” he lies, “It helps me write.”

Junmyeon raises an eyebrow and continues sipping his tea. The silence is a comfortable one, lulling him into a stupor, and Sehun considers shutting his computer and heading upstairs to take a nap when his phone buzzes a ways down the table.

There’s a simple text from Kyungsoo that reads “I'm coming over”, and Sehun’s eyebrows furrow in confusion as he sends back a slew of question marks. “I think my friend is on his way over?”

Junmyeon raises an eyebrow and glances at the unrelenting storm outside, and then back at Sehun, who shrugs helplessly. “Aren’t your parents expecting you for dinner? There’s another foreign minister from Japan or something coming.”

Sehun groans mentally because sitting in on old people talking about politics is his least favorite pastime. “Can he just stay for it?”

Junmyeon takes a long slow sip of his tea, considering for a second. “I don’t know if your father would appreciate that.”

Sehun figures the consequences can’t be that bad, considering it’s Kyungsoo and not one of his more questionable friends. Luckily, the buzzer rings then, signaling Kyungsoo at the door.

Junmyeon stands, a little flustered but putting a smile on his face as he goes to answer the door. Sehun shuts his computer with a wistful sigh at the unfinished essay, mentally adding it to the stack of work already on his desk upstairs. Junmyeon returns a second later, fretting over a dripping Kyungsoo trailing after him. He’s drenched from head to toe, dark grey sweater clinging to his narrow shoulders, hair matted down onto his forehead.

He’s apologizing profusely to Junmyeon for dripping on the expensive hard wood flooring, but Junmyeon waves him off easily with a smile and turns to Sehun. “You should lend him some clothes before he catches a cold,” he suggests.

Kyungsoo follows Sehun up to his room, head bowed, pretending he’s not shivering, little tremors running up his arms and making him quake. Sehun finds the fluffiest towel in linen closet in his bathroom and tosses it Kyungsoo’s way, then sets about finding sweatpants and another sweater.

He waits on the couch until Kyungsoo comes out, the hem of the sweats folded several times and the sleeves rolled up his arms to save face. Sehun smiles despite himself at the sight and waits until Kyungsoo is sat on the other end of the couch before raising his eyebrows in expectation.

“There’s a party on Saturday,” Kyungsoo begins. He licks his lips and Sehun glances at them for a second, watching the pinkness return. “It’s at Chanyeol’s house because his parents are out of the country again and you should come.”

Sehun looks at him skeptically. “You ran all the way over here in the rain to tell me about a party?”

Kyungsoo tilts his head to the side and watches Sehun through wide owlish eyes. “There may be something else I wanted to talk to you about.”

Sehun tucks his feet under him and pulls a cushion into his lap. “What is it?” he asks warily, because Kyungsoo’s eyes are doing the scary thing where they focus sharply and don’t blink.

“Jongin,” Kyungsoo says just as Sehun thinks “Fuck”.

“Listen,” Kyungsoo says after taking one look at his stricken expression, “I’m not here to yell at you or anything, I just want to talk.”

It’s been nearly a week since Sunday night, but Kyungsoo hadn’t confronted him until now. Sehun wonders why that is, but more than that he wonders what Kyungsoo is about to say.

“He doesn’t date people that often, and I know you mean well because we’re friends but I was his friend before yours and I think…” Kyungsoo looks like he’s struggling for a second to find the words. “I think you should be prepared for anything unpredictable that may happen.”

Sehun watches him squeeze his lips together nervously before continuing. “I just, I don’t want either of you to get hurt so I thought I would…” Kyungsoo trails off, fingers twisted into the hem of his shirt.

Sehun doesn’t realize there are tears pricking at his eyes until he’s already across the couch, his arms tight around Kyungsoo’s tiny soft body. Kyungsoo wriggles a little and smooths his little thumbs under Sehun’s eyes, catching his tears and flicking them away. “Hey, don’t cry for no reason,” he chastises gently, but makes no move to escape Sehun’s long limbs.

“I’m not,” Sehun automatically lies, and Kyungsoo laughs.

*

An hour later, Sehun finds himself sweating under his father’s scrutinizing eyes, an equally nervous but much more suave Kyungsoo sat beside him at the long table in the dining hall. His father’s guest in on the other side of the table, complimenting their house over and over. Although Kyungsoo has changed back into his (now dry) grey sweater and jeans, Sehun’s parents are less than impressed.

Kyungsoo had introduced himself respectfully before dinner, even bowing and asking Sehun’s parents about their work and about his father’s campaign. In fact, Sehun would think they had been charmed if not for the way his father’s jaw had twitched when Sehun had said that Kyungsoo was staying for dinner.

The breaking point is when Sehun’s father asks about Kyungsoo’s parents and Kyungsoo responds with their company’s name. Sehun’s father immediately frowns and says very bluntly, “Their money is all illegal, isn’t it?”

Sehun stays silent and drinks a spoonful of soup but sees Kyungsoo’s hand dig into own his thigh tightly, and then hears him say, “Not at all, I’m afraid you’re mistaken,” in a low voice. There’s a tremor in his tone, like he can’t quite keep in all the anger, and Sehun bites his lip, then quickly interjects.

“Did you know Kyungsoo is friends with the Parks? You introduced them to me a couple weeks ago, right?”

Sehun’s mother’s lip thins and she narrows her eyes a little, like she knows exactly what he’s trying to do, but thankfully she begins talking about Chanyeol’s family and the conversation is over.

Kyungsoo visibly deflates and keeps eating silently, but Sehun knows from the tightness in his father’s jaw that it’s not over.

*

Sehun’s father finds him after Kyungsoo and the guest leave, calling him into the big office he barely uses. Sitting in front of the big mahogany desk, Sehun feels little flutters of trepidation crawl through his stomach. The off-white walls close in as he meets his father’s eyes and his breath comes shallow.

Sehun is about to open his mouth and ask what he wants when his father cuts in with a simple, “You’re not friends with him.”

“Excuse me?” he asks immediately.

“You. Are. Not. To. Be. Friends. With. Him.” His father’s brow crinkles like he can’t understand what he said wrong. “People like him come from families we can’t be associated with so don’t bring him into our house or become acquaintances with him. People like that don’t need to be under our roof.”

Sehun is so close to laughing hysterically, trying to imagine what his father would think if he’d let an even worse person like that suck him off under our roof and enjoyed every second of it.

Instead, he chooses his words carefully and says, “Their money isn’t illegal and he lives in this neighborhood. Walking distance even, so I don’t think he’s of any lower economic status.”

Sehun’s father’s lip curls like it always does when he makes borderline offending observations, something Sehun had only began to realize lately. “He’s in a bad crowd. Don’t get mixed up with kids like him.”

Sehun is trying not to laugh in his face, lip caught between his teeth. He nods and begins to rise when his father adjusts his glasses and says, “And another thing. How efficient is that driver of yours? I saw him the other day in the kitchen with Junmyeon and he has an earring. Where on Earth did that come from?”

Sehun’s teeth sink into his bottom lip so hard that he tastes blood, but as he turns to leave, he manages a nonchalant, “He’s extremely efficient, so don’t fire him or anything. I’ll do it if he seems like he’s getting out of hand.”

Sehun’s father makes a thoughtful noise and Sehun lets the office door shut heavily behind him, chest heaving with something dark and vile and horrible.

He whips his phone out, texting frantically even as he makes his way downstairs to the second level to retreat to his room. One of the maids shoot him a strange look as he passes but he ignores her and keeps typing out his message to Jongin. I need to see you. Tonight. Please.

His room is empty and dark when he slams the door shut and clicks it locked, and he hops onto his bed, the disgusting feeling in the pit of his stomach not disappearing.

The knock comes about half an hour later. Sehun shoots up from the bed, phone clattering as it hits the floor. Jongin’s face is more serious than usual when he comes in, and the first thing he says is, “Are you okay?”

Sehun sees the way the dim yellow lights turn Jongin’s skin golden and the way the shadows of his cheekbones move when he turns his head. The more he watches, the more he wants, to taste, to touch, to feel.

“Let me suck you off.” He blurts out before he can stop himself.

Jongin looks confused for half a second before his mind processes the words and it melts away into an easy smirk. “Really?” he asks, and Sehun nods eagerly because he’s still so angry from his father’s words and he wants to do something bad and it’s Jongin, with his crooked smile and sharp eyes and high pitched giggly laughter.

Suddenly Jongin is pressed up right against him, full lips parted and eyes sparkling as he asks, “You sure?”

Sehun inhales, and then lets it out slowly. He nods again.

Before he can process, Jongin’s lips are on his, a hand curling into his hair. It’s not like any of their exploring careful kisses before, Jongin’s lips parted, tongue in Sehun’s mouth and Sehun’s knees go weak as Jongin’s rough hands slide down his sides and push him backwards.

His knees hit the bed and then Jongin spins then around so he’s the one collapsing on the bed. Sehun finds himself being tugged to the ground, his knees hitting the floor, but the dull ache barely registers.

Jongin leans forward and sits on the edge of the bed, cupping Sehun’s face in his hands as he coaxes the younger’s mouth open with his own. Suddenly there’s a thumb pressed to his lower lip, sweeping across it, and Jongin’s eyes are on his, intense and dark.

Sehun’s tongue flicks out instinctively to push against the pad of his thumb, and it shouldn’t be hot but it is because Jongin’s finger presses into his mouth and suddenly Sehun’s sucking on his thumb, which should not be arousing but his cock twitches in his pants anyways.

Jongin drags his thumb down Sehun’s chin leaving a wet trail cooling across his skin, then begins undoing the button of his jeans. “Come up here,” he says, eyes flicking over to the empty spot on the floor between his spread legs. Sehun moves forward and watches with wary eyes as Jongin pushes his jeans down his muscular thighs.

White hot panic seizes him then, because what if he doesn’t like it? What if he chokes? What if Jongin expects him to swallow but he can’t?

Sehun’s back goes rigid and he can’t steady his breathing as Jongin leans forward to tug him into a kiss again. He’s never done this before, he’s never even thought of doing this before- and now he’s jumping into it headfirst.

“Relax,” Jongin breathes against his mouth, and Sehun feels his body automatically respond. Jongin’s hand presses over his and pulls it to his stomach and Sehun lets himself be led, lets himself fall.

Jongin’s skin is startlingly warm as Sehun’s hand is guided down the planes of golden skin, lower until it reaches the waistband of his briefs. Jongin’s sitting with his feet tucked under him and he spreads his knees and tugs Sehun forward again until Sehun’s knees are actually under the bed and his chest is practically pressed against it. Sehun’s breath is shallow, coming uneven as worry clouds his mind.

“Yeah?” Jongin whispers, and Sehun’s hand sinks another centimeter downwards. Jongin is practically radiating heat and Sehun swallows thickly, and then hesitates for a second.

He takes the moment to gather himself mentally and attempt to prepare himself. “Yeah,” he echoes softly when his head isn’t spinning anymore.

Jongin shoots him a small smile, not a smirk or the lazy half-sneer, but a tiny genuine smile and Sehun wonders if his insides are actually melting or if it just feels like they are. Then Sehun’s hand is inching down, and Sehun can’t even look, his breath hitching when he feels Jongin’s cock, hard through the thin material of his briefs.

He supposes it’s not too bad—it feels the same as his, only a little thicker, from what he can tell, but holy shit, that’s an actual dick that he’s touching, and it’s not his. And—and he actually wants it in his mouth.

Jongin seems intent on kissing his lips until they bruise, nipping at them until they sting and taking the bottom one between his teeth, sucking it into his mouth before letting it go and feeling the way it swells with his tongue. Sehun’s hand slips down, feeling, and he’d never anticipated being in this position in his life, on the floor with his hand on someone’s dick, but the way Jongin’s lips part when his hand keeps stroking sends lightning thrill down his spine.

Jongin shifts closer and looks him in the eye. He doesn’t say anything out loud, but Sehun knows this is his last chance to pull away.

He doesn’t.

Jongin’s briefs come off easily, and Sehun can’t stop staring at his dick.

At any other time, it would be embarrassing, but right now Sehun’s eyes don’t leave it as he reaches a hand out and traces a finger down a vein. Jongin’s breath is coming fast and Sehun squeezes his lips together and finally wraps a hand around it.

Sehun isn’t sure if the mechanics of jerking off someone else is different from yourself, but he decides it shouldn’t be, so he starts off slow, hand sliding up and down the length. There’s no lotion, no spit, no lube, so it’s too dry but Jongin has his teeth sunk into his lower lip anyways, and Sehun realizes with a jolt that it’s because of him that Jongin’s breathing is uneven.

Sehun leans forward then, making up his mind for sure, and licks up the underside, all the way to the top. It doesn’t taste like anything Sehun’s had before, a little salty and slightly bitter, but it’s not bad, and Sehun looks up through his eyelashes as he attaches his mouth over the head.

The weight on his tongue is kind of nice, he decides, and the taste is actually sort of growing on him, but that could be because it’s Jongin, and Sehun is finding more and more that he likes every single thing about Jongin.

“Careful with your teeth,” Jongin mumbles, his eyes half-shut as he tilts his head to the side and meets Sehun’s eyes, “Hollow your cheeks and use your tongue.”

Sehun’s cheeks invert when he sucks in and Jongin twitches a little, his hands sliding up to tangle into Sehun’s hair, but he doesn’t pull, just holds on loosely. Sehun sinks his mouth down slowly, taking more and more until his eyes water and his throat convulses and he has to pull off, blinking rapidly and clearing his throat.

Jongin opens his mouth to say something, but Sehun is back on him in an instant, mouthing at the head of his cock, tongue sweeping across the slit, then down to press flush against his frenulum and it comes out as a hiss instead.

There’s something thrilling about being so in control. It’s because of him that Jongin is reacting this way, and that sends sparks of lightning down Sehun’s spine and he eagerly opens up his mouth again to slide it down and take more. His eyes are half shut but he can feel Jongin’s eyes on him and he tries to hollow his cheeks out again. Inherently, he can feel himself hard in his own pants.

There’s saliva running slick down Sehun’s chin and it’s messy but Jongin doesn’t seem to mind from the way he’s making little noises like whimpers and his hips tense from holding still.

God,” Jongin eventually breathes out, “Stay still for me.”

Sehun stills immediately and Jongin rolls his hips once. He nearly chokes because Jongin’s cock presses too close to his throat, the first stirrings of gagging scratching at the base of it, but Sehun stubbornly refuses to give and lets Jongin fuck his mouth, lips stretched and stinging around his length.

Experience is still something he lacks severely though, so he ends up having to pull off in a couple seconds to cough softly, but then Jongin’s hand comes to wrap around his at the base of his cock and he begins jerking himself off with his own hand guiding Sehun’s.

Jongin’s mouth parts and his stomach muscles clench where his shirt rides up and Sehun can feel the way his cock twitches against his palm. “Fuck,” Jongin gasps, “Sehun, fuck I’m—“

Before Sehun can react, something warm streaks across his face and on his swollen raw lips and automatically his tongue flicks out to lick it up. He startles at the bitter taste and Jongin laughs breathlessly, tugging him up for a kiss.

Jongin’s come still drips down his face when they pull away, but it’s cooling now and Sehun’s hand is still loosely around the base of Jongin’s cock. He hastily pulls away. Jongin seems to notice Sehun’s own arousal then, because he pats the spot on the bed beside him. Sehun climbs up with unsteady legs and lets Jongin push him onto his back and press a knee between his thighs.

Jongin’s knee jerks upwards and Sehun moans at the feeling, something warm and fluttery building in his stomach as Jongin sloppily presses kisses to his lower lip and reaches down to grind the heel of his palm between Sehun’s legs.

Sehun comes in an embarrassingly short amount of time again, twitching and shuddering under Jongin’s skillful hands, and afterwards, as they both lay sated, Jongin turns over to face him and asks, “Did something happen today?”

Sehun sighs and doesn’t say anything for a while. Finally, he just says, “I don’t know. Just parents.”

Jongin makes a face, scrunching his nose and eyes, and Sehun laughs softly. “Can we go out?” he asks. The clock on the nightstand tells him it’s only eleven and usually on Friday nights they’d be at Wonderland.

Jongin blinks slow and languid, as if thinking it over, and then sits up. “We can, if you want to.”

Sehun gets up too, ignoring the ache in his knees as he stretches his arms a little. He’s about to grab a jacket and make for the window when Jongin’s smiling face stops him. “What?” he asks, unsure.

Jongin grins and points to his own mouth. “You still have come on your face.”

Sehun is not embarrassed, he is not.

*

Of all the people Sehun has seen frequent Wonderland, the owner is the perhaps the most puzzling and mysterious. Sehun doesn’t know where Minseok gets the money to keep up this steady free supply of weed, where any of the things in the whole store even came from.

Jongin had looks at him sideways the once he’d asked and said, “He has connections. Some big drug ring or something in China. That’s how he met Lu Han I think.”

Sehun had had a hard time believing someone like Lu Han had been involved in a drug ring up until the point Jongdae had casually mentioned that he’d gotten groped  on a train that day and Lu Han had produced a pocket knife quite literally out of nowhere and tossed it to him with a slightly frightening smile and the words, “Use it wisely.”

That, and the little scars only visible under bright lights that dot his body. Sehun wants to ask how they came about, and he would were he any braver.

To his misfortune, it’s Minseok and Lu Han he ends up with when Jongin, Baekhyun, and Jongdae leave the shop to pick up food when Minseok complains that he hasn’t eaten anything substantial all day. Sehun sits next to Minseok and listens as Lu Han narrates how the college student he’d been trying to sell to had tried to short him in payment and Lu Han had ended up twisting his arm behind his back until he’d given up the missing money.

Sehun’s day has been far less interesting, so he doesn’t say anything.

Minseok’s eyes flicker over to him every once in a while, sharp and dark and huge, and Sehun wonders for the thousandth time what those eyes have seen. “Lu Han, can you go wait for Amber by the front? She’s supposed to come pick up some stuff. The baggie in the register, bottom row.” Minseok speaks quietly but his influence is obvious because everyone always scrambles to do what he says.

Lu Han is up immediately, crossing the room, and Sehun is left alone with Minseok. The silence stretches between them for a couple seconds before he speaks up.

“Something’s changed.” He says the words matter-of-factly, like he’s commenting on the weather, but Sehun’s mouth goes dry.

“What do you mean?” Sehun turns to the shorter man, drawing his knees up and wrapping his arms around them. Minseok examines him, but his face is open and kind, and Sehun finds his worry disappearing.

“I’m not going to get involved in your personal lives, but I think you know how everyone around here acts like a family.” Minseok cocks his head and says, “You’re not who you were a couple months ago so I won’t bother sugar coating it. Don’t mess things up between you and Jongin. If you’re going to do this, you have to commit. I’m going to give the same talk to Jongin because you’re important to us too, even if you don’t see it yet.”

Sehun hadn’t been expecting Minseok of all people to give him this talk, especially after Kyungsoo had already given him one earlier, but Minseok’s eyes are warm and Sehun feels so much acceptance. “I know,” he mumbles, voice nearly cracking in the middle, “Thank you for—for everything, for caring enough. Believe me, I know.”

Minseok smiles and draws his feet up too. “I didn’t mean to scare you or anything,” he says as he crosses them comfortably.

Sehun’s about to respond when the sound of happy giggling voices floats through the half-open door and Jongin, who’s holding a plastic bag, swings it open all the way. Jongdae follows, arm linked with a smiling Baekhyun who carries another bag.

Jongin slides onto the seat next to Sehun and links their fingers together automatically. He doesn’t make anything of it, but Sehun feels warm all over, especially when Baekhyun’s face lights up when he spots them.

It’s the back room of a grungy frightening shop on the bad side of town and Sehun is speaking to people whose lives he knows little to nothing about, but somehow it feels more like home than anywhere he’s ever been.

Chapter Text

“Just light it!” the little plastic lighter in the center of Chanyeol’s palm stays in front of Sehun’s face as the elder raises his eyebrows pointedly.

Sehun groans and pushes his hand away, turning his head toward Jongin, who’s sat on the other side of the kitchen table watching the exchange with sparkling eyes. “I don’t know how,” Sehun protests for the millionth time, “I’m going to burn myself.”

“You’re not,” Chanyeol and Jongin say simultaneously.

Sehun drops his head back and looks up to avoid both of their expecting gazes and immediately regrets it. The chandelier above them is extremely bright to the point where Sehun can’t even look at it.

Chanyeol’s house, for what it’s worth, is actually extremely nice, with big high ceilings and bright lights. It’s just that damn chandelier that makes Sehun’s eyes hurt.

“Just once, before people get here, just light it once,” Jongin pleads again, and Sehun shakes his head, not knowing what else he can do to reject the lighter. They’ve been asking him to light it for over twenty minutes now and Sehun’s getting tired of it to the point where he wants to just reach over and light it right in Chanyeol’s hair or something, but he counts to ten and keeps his cool. “How well do you know yourself if you’ve never lit a cigarette?”

“You don’t need to light smokes for a journey of self-discovery.” Chanyeol tilts his head to the side. “That’s weed, not cigarettes.”

“Peer pressure,” Kyungsoo’s dry voice comes from behind them. Sehun swivels around and finds Kyungsoo walking in with Baekhyun trailing after him. “You two should be ashamed of yourselves.”

Chanyeol’s grin widens and he slyly reaches forward again and flicks the lighter on easily under Sehun’s nose. “I’m nothing if not persuasive,” he boasts, flicking it off again and then pushes it forward until the warm metal presses against Sehun’s philtrum.

“Careful,” Jongin says, swatting Chanyeol’s hand away, “Don’t wanna damage that pretty face.”

Sehun rolls his eyes and grabs the lighter, staring at it weightily. “If I light this, can I light him on fire?” He asks Jongin, eyeing Chanyeol out of his peripherals.

“Do it.” Kyungsoo immediately says, “Please, for the sake of us all, do it.”

“Unfortunately, we don’t have time for anyone to light anyone on fire!” Baekhyun interrupts, producing a bag of red plastic cups seemingly from nowhere, “We have too much setting up to do.” Sehun slips the lighter into the pocket of his hoodie for lack of anywhere else to put it and turns to the shorter boy.

Sehun’s seen that exact kind in college movies, where they get drunk and party, but as Baekhyun hands him a stack of the cups and gives him directions to the mini bar in Chanyeol’s basement (What the fuck, not even Sehun has one of those), he finds himself eyeing one dubiously. Outside of a rare glass of champagne at a fundraiser or charity auction now and then, he’s never really drank, but judging from the bottles lined up behind the bar counter, Chanyeol’s not planning on champagne or wine. There are long slim necked bottles of something clear, and only after Sehun reads the label does he realize that it’s vodka, right alongside darker bottles of whiskey and smaller ones of beer, and something that smells absolutely foul.

He’s arranging stacks of the cups when arms wrap around his waist and Jongin’s suddenly nuzzling into his neck, mumbling, “You look good bartending.”

Sehun flushes, neck heating up all the way up to his ears, but he keeps his voice steady and says, “Shouldn’t you be upstairs?” The last he’d seen of Jongin before coming downstairs was him and Kyungsoo trying to figure out how to put out the food.

“No one eats at this kind of party anyways.” Jongin reaches around him and grabs a cup off the top of the closest stack, then pulls away in search of a bottle. “This is a handle,” he explains, always prone to impromptu lessons of debauchery, “That means there’s half a gallon of liquor in this, okay?” Sehun nods mutely and Jongin picks up one of the vodka bottles and pours a little into the cup. “Don’t put too much or it’ll burn like a bitch.”

Jongin’s gone then, to the other side of the counter to grab a can of soda. “Mixing things is the way to go if you’re not familiar with the taste.” As he explains, he smoothly pops open the can, mixing them with ease and familiarity. Eyes sparkling in the dim light, Jongin reaches out and hands the glass to Sehun. “Taste it.”

Sehun stares down at the dark liquid for a second before tentatively bringing it up to his mouth. The first sip burns down his throat, heat pooling low in the pit of his stomach, and Sehun blinks at the unexpected feeling, hand unconsciously coming up to settle on his lower belly. “That’s… weird?” he decides, looking up to meet Jongin’s calculating stare. Taking another slightly bigger sip, he shrugs. “Not that bad, though.”

In the dim yellow lights of Chanyeol’s basement, Jongin’s face tints golden as he grins and hops up onto the counter. His feet swing as he reaches out for the glass and Sehun hands it over. “Don’t ever drink anything someone hands you. Either mix your own drinks or get one from me. If you leave your glass somewhere, don’t pick it back up. Go get a new one.” After a gulp of the drink, Jongin scrunches up his face and says, “Although, I don’t think most of that stuff would apply tonight considering it’s just a couple people from Minseok-hyung’s shop. But keep it in mind if you’re out somewhere.”

Sehun sincerely doubts he’s going anywhere where those rules would apply anytime soon but he nods seriously anyways and steals the glass back.

“Are you guys making out down there?” Baekhyun’s voice calls from the top of the stairs, “Because if you are, I don’t want to come down yet.”

Jongin snorts and calls back, “I’ll just put my pants back on, then. Thanks for ruining all the fun.”

Baekhyun’s footsteps are light on the stairs as he springs down them, face done up with something that makes his skin look shiny, downturned eyes ringed in smoky charcoal colors. As soon as he gets to the bar, he jumps up on the counter (albeit with much more effort required than Jongin’s taller body had taken) and asks, “I look okay, right? I asked Chanyeol but all he did was turn red and cough.” He rolls his eyes, but his mouth is twisted into a little smirk, tone smug enough that Sehun can tell he knows exactly how good he looks.

“Fine,” Jongin says, poking a finger into the curve of Baekhyun’s hip, “You look fine.”

“I think you mean I look amazing,” Baekhyun sticks his tongue out and crosses his arms petulantly, then turns to Sehun with an eye-crinkling grin in place. “You think I look amazing, don’t you, Sehunnie?”

“Uh-“

“What Sehun thinks,” Jongin interrupts, and Sehun feels a warm wave of gratefulness wash over him at that, “Is that you should go check if Kyungsoo has all the music stuff set up yet, because it’s already eight and people are going to show up any second.”

Baekhyun pouts and reaches out to smack Jongin’s thigh lightly, but hops off the counter and mutters, “Fine, but you know I look hot.”

As soon as he’s out of earshot (stomping up the stairs rather childishly) Jongin grins and turns to Sehun, sticking his arms out from his seat on the bar. Sehun, unsure exactly of what he wants, reaches for the handle of vodka, but Jongin grabs the hem of his shirt and pulls him closer until his waist hits the counter and he’s between Jongin’s legs.

“Oh,” he says dumbly, making Jongin laugh quietly.

“You think I look better than Baekhyun, don’t you?” Jongin says the words teasingly, but there’s genuine curiosity underlying them. Sehun would reply immediately, but the proximity allows him to smell Jongin’s sharp delicious cologne and suddenly his head is going blank and he can’t get any words out. Jongin’s everywhere, arms swung around Sehun’s shoulders, chests pressed together so Sehun can feel every warm inch of his torso through the thin cotton of their shirts, legs loosely wrapped around his waist. “Don’t you?” Jongin asks again, this time much softer.

Sehun’s brain is a mess of static buzzing as Jongin’s eyelashes flutter, their long shadows drawing down his sharp cheekbones in the dim light as he drops his gaze. “Y-you look amazing,” Sehun finally manages to mumble.

“Oh yeah?” Jongin teases, and then leans in even closer until they’re only separated by a centimeter. The black smeared artfully around Jongin’s eyes makes them even bigger, and there’s something slick looking on his full lips, and Sehun wants to lean forward and maybe bite them to see if they taste as good as they look, but then Jongin’s pulling away, swinging around the other side of the counter onto his feet.

“Come on, we should go back upstairs. Help set all that stuff up, y’know?” Jongin grins cheekily and adds after a second, “Who knows what Baekhyun and Chanyeol can get done together. Poor Kyungsoo’s going to have to do all the work for himself.”

Jongin’s hips sway as he walks, Sehun’s eyes following him every step of the way before he realizes he’s supposed to be following and skitters after him.

*

An hour and three drinks later, Sehun’s head is buzzing pleasantly, warmth pooling in the pit of his stomach as he watches Chanyeol roll joint after joint, passing them around the crowd at the coffee table. Sat on the couch between Chanyeol and the armrest, Sehun smiles hazily and rests his head on Chanyeol’s broad shoulder, eyes following the way his fingers expertly fold the paper.

There’s something white on the table too, like fine powdered sugar, but when Sehun had opened his mouth to ask, Minseok had given him a look from across the room and called, “You’re staying as far away from that as possible, kid.”

In fact, all of Minseok’s inner circle seems to only be into weed and cigarettes, waving off anything stronger every time it’s offered. Baekhyun, particularly, turns his nose up with enthusiasm, and Chanyeol looks proud every time he sees it. There must be more to the story there, but Sehun’s too unsure to ask.

There’s more people than he’d expected, that’s for sure. Somehow, people had begun showing up, at first being ones Sehun knows from Wonderland, Yixing and Jongdae and Lu Han, but then it had been all new faces, pretty girls with colorful hair and made up faces, until the house is filled with a buzzing noisy crowd.

The makeshift dancefloor in the basement is filled, the normal antique furniture moved to different closed off rooms for the night, all the valuable vases and trinkets put away. Whatever Chanyeol’s parents do, it must involve a lot of international travel because there seems to be antiques and baubles from every country stacked up in the storage shelves (and Sehun would know, he helped put them there for the party).

Music pounds through the speakers all over the house, the basement being the main concentration of people, and a couple on the first floor. It’s something electronic that Sehun would never be able to recognize, but it fits well with the whole aesthetic.

Sehun catches Jongin’s eyes from the other side of the room then, in the center of the throng. Jongin, much to Sehun’s (not really, Jongin definitely has the body for it) surprise, is an amazing dancer, hips moving sinfully fluid as sweat drenches his face, movements flowing as easily as water.

Jongin beckons then, one finger crooking to Sehun, and he’s up moving across the room before he even has time to comprehend what he’s doing.

“Hey!” Jongin shouts over the music as Sehun begins rocking back and forth a little awkwardly. “This is cool, right?”

Maybe it’s the alcohol burning through Sehun’s system, but he grins back and yells, “So cool,” then winds up giggling. “Really really cool.”

Jongin’s answering smile is fond and makes Sehun feel all warm inside (either that or it’s the vodka).

“Dance?” Jongin asks, and Sehun nods a little nervously. Jongin leads them onto the center of the floor as a slightly less upbeat song begins. Jongin falls into the slow sensual rhythm easily,

Sehun bites his lip, considering his options. Being pressed against Jongin, he feels good, safe. Cautiously, he take a step back into Jongin’s chest, letting his arms swing back to hold his fluid hips lightly.

Sehun feels hyperaware of his frenetic surroundings, and he thinks in the midst of all the noise, he hears Jongin exhale sharply, then pull him closer, wrapping his lanky arms around Sehun’s waist again.

Experimentally, Sehun pushes back into him, causing the grip Jongin has on his hips to tighten. He circles his hips like he’d seen girls do at parties, imitating the slow grinding movement, and Jongin’s hands move down his thighs, and then, oh. Sehun jumps a little when Jongin’s fingers dig into his flesh hard, excitement flaring up his sides like lightning.

Sehun’s movement seems to break the moment, because Jongin pulls away then, grabbing his wrist and practically dragging him away from the crowd.

Sehun finds himself in a nearly empty hallway a second later, being pressed flat against the wall as Jongin’s mouth finds his, lips already parted and hot against Sehun’s. “God,” Jongin mumbles against his mouth, body moving in waves against Sehun’s, “You’re too much, fuck, way too much.”

Sehun would argue, because he’s the one whose head spins and breath hitches when Jongin’s tongue drags over the seam of his mouth and coaxes his lips open, kissing him deep and filthy, tasting like alcohol and whatever the fuck else.

They’ve never had the time to just make out before. This is new and somehow, Sehun maybe likes it even better than anything else they’d done because Jongin’s fingers are trailing all over his skin and his mind feels like it’s turning into a puddle but Jongin’s supporting him, warm palms tracing the rounded muscles of Sehun’s biceps.

“Get a room,” a dry voice interrupts. Jongin curses and pulls away, leonine body slinking off Sehun’s in a second. It’s Lu Han, lips curled in half amusement, arms crossed in front of his chest.

Jongin tilts his head to the side like he's considering doing just that, but then shakes his head and grins. “Maybe later. Right now, I need a couple beers and possibly a smoke. I’ll catch up with you later?” The last sentence is directed at Sehun, who nods a little unsurely.

Jongin slips away like a shadow back amidst the crowd, and Sehun’s left alone with a very unimpressed looking Lu Han. “Uh-“ Sehun begins.

“I need a smoke,” Lu Han grits out, the veins in his neck standing out on his pale skin. “Come with?”

Sehun nods mutely, mind working a mile a minute trying to figure out what has the elder so on edge. He’d been fine when he’d come in, arm linked with Yixing, speaking in rapid fire Mandarin and filled with restless energy, but as the night wore on, the few glances Sehun had had of the Chinese man had shown him a little more pallid and tired each time.

Sehun follows him past the kitchen, then to a set of wide French doors. To his pleasant surprise, it leads to the back wide fenced back garden. There’s a pool all lit up in the center, blue tiles glowing eerily in the stillness of the night as Lu Han shuts the door behind them and the music muffles into silence.

Eyes following the hunch of his shoulders, Sehun finds himself examining Lu Han again, gaze lingering on the little scar on his bottom lip, then the one on his cheek. Lu Han fumbles inside his jacket for a second before producing a pack of cigarettes, then begins patting himself down for a lighter. The heavy weight of the one still in Sehun’s pocket registers and he’s about to pull it out when Lu Han finds one in his pocket and grins triumphantly.

The first drag already has Lu Han’s body going lax, shoulders going loose and eyes lidding. “I don’t like crowds.” He mumbles after a second. “Too many of them back in Beijing. I don’t do so well with that many people.”

Sehun nods again, wondering why somehow his tongue feels so thick in his mouth and he can’t get any words out. “Hyung,” he manages to get out, “I need to ask you something.”

Lu Han raises an eyebrow, eyeing Sehun curiously, but jerks his chin as a signal to continue, so Sehun does. “I—can you tell me anything about Jongin?”

Where the question comes from, he’s not sure, but now that it’s out, Sehun feels stricken, because it’s honestly a good question. Besides the fact that he’d dropped out of school after turning seventeen and other little tidbits, Sehun really doesn’t know anything. Does Jongin live with his parents? Did they kick him out? The more Sehun wonders, the more he realizes is a mystery.

Lu Han doesn’t say anything for a long time, willowy fingers tapping ash from his smoke as he bites his lip and considers. “I don’t think it’s my place to tell you anything.” He finally admits, “Minnie told me he thought you were going to ask.”

Suddenly the cigarette is being thrust into Sehun’s hand so he grabs it and takes a long drag, feeling thick heavy smoke fill his throat and lungs. He passes it back and stares helplessly. “I don’t know anything.” He says mournfully, “We aren’t even really together. I don’t think he wants to actually be dating or whatever. I think he just wants to be physical”

Lu Han’s voice when he speaks sounds more mature than he’d ever heard it, and for the first time, Sehun kind of understands what Jongin had meant by everyone at Wonderland has a past. “I don’t think people like Jongin usually date, Sehunnie.”

When Sehun looks up, he sees something clouding Lu Han’s eyes, akin to sadness, then with a jolt, realizes it’s pity.

“You like him,” Lu Han continues, “You like him more than you think he likes you.”

Sehun nods dumbly, suddenly unsure of what to say. He takes another inhale when the cigarette is passed back to him and then the whole box is being ushered into his hand. Lu Han squeezes his lips together sympathetically. “Keep these. An apology for not giving you the information you wanted.”

Sehun holds the pack in his hand, feeling the weight of it, and smiles, bittersweet. “I hope everything works out for you, Oh Sehun.” Lu Han says again in that strange weighted voice, like he’s seen far more than Sehun could ever comprehend, and then he’s gone, slipping back inside.

With the moon as his only companion, Sehun tucks the pack of smokes into his jacket with the lighter and sits on the bench in the garden with his head in his hands. The moonlight washes his skin bone pale, bleaching him black and white.

It’s five minutes later when Sehun gathers his bearings and walks back inside, wincing at the music that drills into his head the second he opens the door. He walks past the kitchen to the foyer, then deeper, into the house, following the sound of heavy bass to the basement again.

Chanyeol’s not on the couch anymore, Baekhyun sitting alone next to Yixing, who has a joint trapped between his slender fingers. From his blissed-out expression and heavy lids, Sehun can tell how high out of his mind he must be.

Suddenly everything seems surreal, like Sehun’s walking underwater as he makes his way around the couch towards the bar. There are several empty bottles next to Jongdae, who’s playing bartender at the moment, winking at Sehun as he passes.

He’s not sure exactly where he’s going, but his feet lead before he can help it, rewinding his steps back to the partially secluded hallway.

He’s expecting to find it empty.

Only, it’s not.

Bile rises in Sehun’s throat, burning its way up as his eyes fixate on Jongin’s shoulders, the way his hair looks askew because whoever is in front of him runs his hands through it, and Sehun’s knees nearly buckle, nausea washing over him like a crashing wave.

Oh god oh god oh god ohgodohgodohgodohgodohgod.

Sehun’s world nearly gives away as he finally comprehends what’s in front of him. Jongin, lips locked with a stranger.

Revulsion creeps through Sehun’s body as his instincts scream at him to leave, to run, to not come back.

So he does.

Sehun’s off, turning on his heel so fast he nearly gets whiplash and there are tears brimming in his eyes. The house passes in a blur around him as he tears out the front door, breath coming in heavy gasps, chest tight and mind muddled.

He needs to calm down. The night air feels good on his skin, cool and tranquil unlike the chaos inside. Sehun’s feet thump quietly on the sidewalk, shoes getting scuffed as he kicks the pavement. “Walk it off.” He reminds himself roughly, pulling his hood up to cover his hair. He’s going down the street then, taking the familiar path back his own house. Chanyeol’s place is in the neighborhood, so he should be able to walk home easily enough. Suddenly all he wants to do is crawl into his own familiar bed alone and never leave.

There’s an itch under his skin, creeping through him, the way Jongin’s lips had looked around someone else flashing in his mind every time his eyes shut, and Sehun feels another wave of nausea pass over him, whether or not from the alcohol this time, he’s not sure.

God, what he’d do for—Sehun pauses, hand trailing down to his pocket. The little box of smokes is nearly filled, only a couple missing, so he slides out one and grabs the lighter. It fits in his palm, suddenly even heavier than earlier, a formidable opponent.

Sehun exhales noisily and flicks his thumb across the wheel, once, then again. There’s a little sparking sound, then immediately, the little flame appears, weak and small but bright.

Sehun smiles, but it’s humorless, a stretch of the lips more than anything.

Jongin’s voice in his head plays, “How well do you know yourself if you’ve never lit a cigarette?” but as he brings the smoke to his lips, all Sehun can wonder is how well he knows Jongin.

Chapter Text

Crying seems to be high on the list of things Sehun has been doing recently.

Recently being ever since Jongin had climbed in through his window by accident and set off the strange chain reaction of events that makes Sehun’s life both exciting and frightening.

He’d spent the previous night crying and smoking at his window, stabbing out cigarettes on his windowsill one by one until Lu Han’s pack had run out, at which point he’d stripped off his jeans and shirt and dropped into the neatly made bed, not caring about the fact that he reeks of alcohol and smoke.

When he wakes up, though, there’s weak sunlight streaming in through his open curtains, and his head is pounding. He’s never felt more like shit, evident when he stands up and nearly drops to the floor. As he makes his way as slowly as possible across his room, the events from the previous night replay in his head. The basement, the moon, the drinks, Jongin.

Of course it was stupid to think Jongin would be monogamous. It had never been a real relationship, after all. Still, even after all the warnings and talks people had given him, Sehun feels like someone is clawing at his ribcage and squeezing his throat.

Sehun peers into the mirror in the bathroom, assessing the damage. His face is swollen and blotchy, whether from crying or his hangover, he’s not sure. He groans and eyes the shower. He wonders idly if he can make it to Wonderland that night before freezing in his tracks.

God, when’s the last time he’d done something normal? He’d been so busy lately with all the strangeness and new things that he’d let go of everything else.

Sehun breathes in. His phone is by his nightstand, but the battery is almost out, the little bar flashing red in warning. Sehun thinks he feels a little like that right now.

There aren’t any missed texts, all the people in his recent history being either Kyungsoo, Jongin, Chanyeol, or Baekhyun. He grits his teeth and scrolls past their names, lower until he finds what he’s searching for.

Taemin. If anyone, the slightly obnoxious boy would get his mind off of things. And somewhere deep inside (deep, deep inside) Sehun may just miss him a little. He presses call and waits, drumming his blunt nails on the wooden table.

“Hello?” Taemin’s voice is quiet and bleary, like it is right after he wakes up. It’s familiar, filling Sehun’s mind with images of old middle school sleepovers and formal dinners where they’d sneak away after the adults had finished their business and gossip about others.

“Hey,” Sehun’s voice is about to crack. “Do you want to go somewhere today?”

Taemin is silent for a second. “Why? You haven’t wanted to do anything for months.” There’s suspicion lurking behind his words, and he’s right. Sehun had all but ignored his old group of friends since finding Chanyeol and the others.

“I—I don’t know,” he mumbles, “I missed you? We can do anything you want.”

For an awful minute, he thinks Taemin is going to reject him. Then, softly, “Okay. Come over in an hour.”

Sehun breathes out a sigh of relief. “Great. Okay. I’ll be there.”

Taemin hums and hangs up, uncharacteristic of him, but then again, Sehun’s been an ass lately.

Sehun plugs his phone in to charge and stands straighter, wincing as his joints pop. He eyes the bathroom again. That shower seems pretty good right about now.

*

Half an hour later, Sehun sits at the table in the kitchen, sipping at the coffee in front of him, blinking warily in the hazy light as Junmyeon studies him a bit too closely for comfort. Kris sits on one of the counters but Sehun doesn’t even want to ask why he’s there. Instead, he tells Kris to drive him to Taemin’s and wills his headache away silently in his seat.

Kris is saying something to Junmyeon but Sehun doesn’t have the patience to listen in when he feels like collapsing back into bed.

In fact, he doesn’t even notice Junmyeon speaking until the elder man is right in front of his face and asking, “Sehun? Sehun, I asked if you wanted more coffee. You’ve been holding that empty mug for seven minutes.”

“Oh.” Sehun flushes and drops the glass on the table as Kris snickers behind his hand. “No, I’m fine.”

“Come on,” he says then, “Taemin’s house.” The keys to the cars are swinging from Kris’ long index finger as he idly watches Junmyeon pour himself another cup of tea.

“Taemin?” Junmyeon asks, suddenly suspicious, “Not one of those new kids?” Sehun kind of feels awful now, because it really has been to long since he’d last hung out with his old friends.

“Taemin.” He confirms. “No new kids.”

Junmyeon’s eyes widen dubiously but he shrugs and turns back to the stove. “Have fun, I guess.”

“Oh!” Sehun remembers as he’s getting up, “I need some painkillers. I was up late studying so I have a headache.” It’s almost surprising how easily the lie comes to his tongue but there’s no guilt so he furrows his eyebrows and taps his temple. “College entrance exams are coming up soon.”

Over Junmyeon’s shoulder, Kris raises an eyebrow, mouth twitching in a way that tells Sehun that Lu Han had informed his roommate exactly of where he’d been the night before. While Junmyeon frets and goes searching for pills, Sehun shoots the Chinese man a look. Don’t you dare say anything. Kris smirks amusedly but nods almost imperceptibly and Sehun releases a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.

When Junmyeon does return with the painkillers, Sehun swallows them down easily and looks up brightly at Kris. “Let’s go.”

The second the car door closes behind him, Kris stares at Sehun through the mirror and asks, “You don’t feel bad lying to him?”

Sehun clenches and unclenches his jaw before saying slowly, “I’m… not?” It would be easier to lie but something tells him that Kris would be able to tell easily.

To his surprise though, Kris just nods thoughtfully and starts the car. “That’s good. If you’re going to lie believably, you have to invest yourself in it.”

Sehun snorts and presses his throbbing forehead to the cool glass of the window, watching the world zoom by in a collage of blurry colors. “Believe me, I invested myself the first time I opened my mouth around Jongin.”

 Kris’s face is angled down in the mirror, but his cheeks appear lifted, and Sehun can’t help but wonder if he’s smiling.

-

When Taemin opens the door, the last thing Sehun is expecting is for him to have pieces of metal stuck on various strands of his hair.

“Come in,” Taemin ushers him through the doorway, a plastic bowl between his fingers. He waves off one of the maids who try to greet Sehun and begins talking at a rapid fire pace like only Taemin ever can. “This morning I woke up and I looked in the mirror and I just—I thought, why not dye my hair? So I made the driver get me the bleach and I’m doing my hair white upstairs. Can you help me get this into my hair?”  He leads Sehun up the grand staircase, taking the steps two at a time and stirring at the foul chemical smelling goop in the bowl.

“Uh.” Sehun says, and Taemin grins, looking every bit the part of an alien with bits of foil curled carefully around locks of his salon dyed fashionable brown highlighted hair. “But you have a hairstylist. Your mom—you can’t show up to events with self-dyed hair.” It’s Taemin, who only ever wears the newest lines of clothing (granted, it’s thanks to mother and her career, but Taemin’s always been on the fashion savvy side as well), and he’d never just wake up and decide to dye his hair by himself.

“Watch me. It’ll be a new trend after I do it,” Taemin says cockily, shutting the door behind them when they reach his bedroom. Taemin’s furniture is all white, the room polished and light, everything meticulous and in place.

The ensuite however, is practically in a state of emergency. There are hair products thrown haphazardly over the wide counter, two hair dryers plugged into a socket, and a bottle of something runny on its side, contents spilled over the smooth countertop.

Taemin shrugs at the look Sehun gives him. “There was maybe some panicking going on. And some hair care gone wrong.” He eyes the roll of aluminum leaned against the mirror and asks, “Do you wanna help or not? I need to get it done or it’ll be uneven.”

Sehun sighs, but steps forward anyways. It’s odd for Taemin to be doing any of this by himself instead of at a salon, but after the way he’s been treating Taemin lately, Sehun is willing to indulge. Not only that, but this is achingly normal. How many times has he been in Taemin’s room in another one of the boy’s weird fashion phases over the years? And right now, he’s mostly thankful that Taemin isn’t trying to interrogate him about his choice in friends and asking questions that would make Sehun’s head hurt and his chest clench painfully.

“Okay,” Taemin instructs when Sehun picks up a hair dryer. “First you smear your hair in this gunk, yeah? Then you wrap it in the foil and blow-dry it. In about fifteen minutes, that strand should be blonde.” To demonstrate, Taemin does this as he talks, dumping a liberal amount of the paste into a lock of his hair, then smooths it out with a little brush. He wraps it in the foil and reaches out for the other blow dryer, making it look easy as he points it at the foil.

Sehun steps forward reluctantly and curls his fingers around a lock of Taemin’s hair. White. What a strange choice.

The little brush is helpful in covering the hair with the bleach solution, and it’s easier than Sehun would have thought to wrap the piece with foil.

They work in silence for about fifteen minutes, Taemin being strangely focused—it must be a record, usually he talks a mile a minute.

Finally, in an oddly quiet voice, Taemin says, “You don’t have to hang out with me because you feel guilty.”

Sehun looks up automatically, and when he meets Taemin’s eyes, there’s something bright and intuitive in them, something Sehun never would have noticed before. “It’s okay,” he continues conversationally, “I get it, your friends are exciting and new and they’re something we don’t see growing up the way we do. I have Minho and Jinki and the others, so really, it’s okay. You look happier with them anyways.”

Sehun clears his throat. “I came over here so I wouldn’t cry,” he says, and Taemin laughs.

“Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, can I ask you for a favor?” Taemin looks oddly sneaky, glancing up through his foil covered bangs.

Sehun bites at his lip, contemplating.

He's never been so good at saying no.

-

An hour later, Sehun is standing in Taemin’s bathroom, his hair paler than the sun and gleaming at least twice as bright.

“I can’t believe this,” he says for what seems like the thousandth time. Taemin sits on the wide counter, his own hair shocking silvery white.

“It looks good!” Taemin tries, “Very Vogue. Besides, my mother told me that pale hair is very in right now. We look like idols or something.”

“Or something,” Sehun snorts, rubbing a lock of hair between his thumb and index fingers. At Taemin’s crestfallen expression, he quickly backtracks. “We look good though! We’ll be the talk of the school.”

Taemin sighs, leans forward and balances his elbows on his thighs. “School, huh?” He chews at his lip contemplatively. “I actually think I should tell you something.”

Something lurches in the pit of Sehun’s stomach sickeningly and he has a second to wonder if it’s still his hangover or something else before Taemin blurts, “I think I want to transfer.”

 They both freeze, Sehun from shock, Taemin from anticipation. “Why?!” Sehun cries, betrayal heavy in his gut. As bad as he’d been treating the elder lately, he still has other friends, like Minho or Jinki.” A million memories of a million functions, dinners, and events fly through Sehun’s mind at once, all of them featuring Taemin and him sneaking away to gossip or steal wine or watch the girls dance in their pretty dresses, hips swaying.

Granted, he’d still see Taemin from time to time, but sitting through Psychology class without Taemin next to him making offhand comments under his breath about the teacher’s attire is something Sehun thinks that he’d miss sorely. Taemin smiles softly, running a hand through his soft silvery hair. “I talked it over with my mom. I think I’m going to go into modeling. I don’t know if I would for her clothes or someone else, but I think that’s what I want to do.”

Sehun’s stomach sinks even further. Taemin would have no problem making it in the modeling world with his fashion designer mother and his long limbs and pretty face. God, he wouldn’t even need to get scouted, only hired by his mother, who would eagerly take him. Taemin continues without missing a beat. “I’m going to Seoul, maybe renting an apartment. I turn eighteen in a month anyways, so I thought, why not? I can finish my education early and go for it.”

Sehun knows he should be happy. He should be congratulating Taemin on getting his life figured out, especially when Sehun’s own is on a downward spiral, but he can’t bring himself to. “One more thing,” Taemin murmurs, his long fingers tapping at the marble counter nervously. “Minho wants to come with me.” He titters nervously, “He said I’d forget to feed myself and die trying to live on my own. So. I guess he agreed to be dragged along with me. As always."

“That’s—“ Sehun bites the inside of his cheek so hard he can taste blood. “That’s so great!” His voice is dull and lacking in enthusiasm, and Taemin can tell. His face falls, and instantly Sehun feels regret clutch at his chest. “Really,” he tries, “It’s amazing, Taeminnie. If that’s what you want to do, I think it’s good.”

Taemin nods and smiles, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “We’re done, right? We should go out and show it off or something. Who knows, we might get mistaken for idols or something.”

Sehun snorts, easily falling back into this familiar pattern. “You wish.”

-

It’s late when Sehun gets home, and he would love to quietly retire to his room and sleep, but then Junmyeon notices his hair.

And has a fit.

Please tell me that’s not permanent. Oh God, your parents are going to throw me out. They’re going to throw you out. Oh my god, Sehun.”

He’s never seen Junmyeon’s face go so red. Fascinating. Sehun runs a hand through his hair, the bleached strands tickling his knuckles. “I think it looks good,” he defends.

He strides right past the shorter man, taking the wide stairs two at a time, ignoring the shouts calling after him. “I’ll tell them myself!” Sehun calls over his shoulder when Junmyeon frets yet again over his parents’ reaction.

-

There’s an itch under his skin, something ready to burst forth to the surface, but not even Sehun can think of what it is. Sehun is standing in front of the long mirror in his closet, the cold pads of his fingers pressed into the bruise in the junction of his neck and collarbone. There are a collage of them, deep purples and blues and a couple fading yellowish, all from Jongin’s mouth.

He wonders how long they’ll last, and then feels his stomach churn. He wants them gone, the sooner the better, just like every other thought of Jongin.

There’s a slew of texts on his phone from Jongin, asking him where he is and if he can come over. Sehun had responded with a simple busy and left it at that. It’s not a lie, after all—Dinner with his parents qualifies as busy.

His parents.

Sehun thinks he’s dug himself into a hole. There’s mistake after mistake that are all suddenly coming to bite him in the ass, and with the whole hair situation, he’s sure it’ll put it all over the top. No doubt his parents would assume one of his new friends had convinced him to try out the bleached look.

So, he dresses carefully, choosing a high necked sweater that’ll hide all the bruises and modest dress pants. He looks put together enough with his hair pushed back from his face—even though it is that same ostentatious shade of bleach blonde.

Finally, he deems himself ready and forces himself away from the mirror.

As he descends down the staircase, he wonders if he could survive out in the world by himself if his parents kick him out.

God, there are a million things he's keeping from them right now—the empty pack of smokes in his trash can, the stain from a spilled bottle of beer on one of his shirts, the hickies, Minseok’s store—

Jongin.

Sehun pushes that from his mind as soon as he thinks it. Jongin who?

His parents are at one end of the long dining table, idly sipping at glasses of wine, not speaking to each other. A usual Saturday night. Except lately, he’d be eating as quickly as possible an excusing himself, scrounging for dark tight clothes in his closet to wear to the store that night, wondering what kind of new marvel Minseok or Jongdae or anyone else would have to show him that night.

Now, all he feels is tired.

That is, until his mother shrieks.

“What did you do to your hair?” she demands, and Sehun looks at the ground, not able to look up at the surely thunderous expression on his father’s face. She tosses her own salon bleached light brown hair behind her shoulder and stands to her full height—not much, if Sehun’s being honest, he’s much taller than both his parents.

Still, his father’s voice is louder than his has ever been. When he booms “What have you done?” Sehun feels five years old again, staring at his street-scuffed shoes.

“Was it that Do Kyungsoo?” His father asks then, anger apparent in his tone. Sehun shakes his head stubbornly. They could take it out on him, if they wished, but the last thing he wants is one of his friends caught in the crossfire.

“Don’t you know we have an image to uphold? How is your father supposed to gain respect if people think he has a delinquent for a son?” His mother sounds shrill and it hurts Sehun’s ears.

“I knew those friends were bad news. Didn’t I tell you not to mix with their crowd?”

Every word stings dully, but Sehun keeps his mouth shut and lets them tire themselves out. He sees Junmyeon standing in his peripherals, knuckles white from dripping the bottom of his shirt. Somehow, he feels worse for the elder man than for himself.

Finally, their lectures seem to come to a close because his father’s face isn’t so red anymore and his mother has stopped shouting. “Just—just stay in your room for the rest of the night. We’ll talk about dying it back to black tomorrow.” His father spits, but somehow, Sehun isn’t even disappointed.

“Okay,” he says dully, trying to look properly reprimanded. He sees Junmyeon throw him one last look as he retreats, but he ignores the older man and keeps walking.

Instead of being upset like he once would, Sehun is angry.

Like, red vision, fingers shaking angry. He makes for his room and slams the door satisfyingly behind him and dives for his phone.

The first person on Sehun’s contact list who he knows has a car is Chanyeol, so he stabs at the name, waiting until it’s ringing to try and steady his uneven breathing.

Chanyeol picks up after a couple rings with a slightly disoriented sounding “Hello?” but that’s all Sehun needs.

“Can you pick me up?” He blurts, “I just can’t—some shit went down and I really don’t want to be here right now.”

To his surprise, Chanyeol replies without any hesitation whatsoever. “I’ll be at your street corner in ten minutes.”

Sehun hangs up and runs a hand through his hair. He has minutes to get down the tree and across the property, and for a second, trepidation stirs heavy in his stomach. He’s never snuck out without Jongin like this.

He throws on a dark hoodie, then creeps to the window. After months of it, scrambling down the tree is simple (although he’s not as agile as Jongin, but then again, who is?) and he ducks close to the fence, following the lines of bushes to the small gate for the doorman next to the big car gate. It’s unlocked as usual, and he gets through easily.

As promised, Chanyeol’s car is on the end of the block by the time he gets there, black and gleaming even in the dark. Chanyeol himself is alone, and Sehun is almost surprised he didn’t bring Baekhyun along somehow.

“Hey,” Chanyeol smiles, but then furrows his eyebrows as Sehun slouches into the passenger seat. He pulls away but keeps glancing at Sehun’s face and away like he thinks the younger won’t notice.

“What?” Sehun asks curiously.

Chanyeol smirks, the dimple in his cheek indenting deeply. “Your hair looks great and all, but no offense. You look kind of awful.” At Sehun’s frown, he corrects himself quickly. “I mean your face. You look like you haven’t slept in like days, which I know isn’t true because you were fine yesterday.”

Sehun’s fingers find their way to his face, and he pokes at his skin self-consciously. “That bad?”

Chanyeol inclines his head a little to the side and smiles again, this time softer with concern leaking into the edges. “That bad.”

Sehun huffs quietly and settles back into his seat, tipping his chin back and looking through his eyelashes at Chanyeol’s long muscular arms as they flex every time his hands move on the steering wheel. A little bitterly, he wonders why he can’t like someone as stable and dependable looking as Chanyeol.

He licks his lips and blinks, suddenly disoriented. What a strange thought.

Chanyeol glances at him sidelong and raises an eyebrow. “So, any idea where we’re going?”

He stares at the elder again for a second before sighing in relief. No, definitely no feelings there. “I don’t know. I didn’t really think this through. I just needed to get out.”

Chanyeol’s eyes turn sly. “Should we call Jongin and meet up with him?” His fingers tighten on the steering wheel and Sehun wonders what Chanyeol thinks he knows.

“No,” he finally mumbles. “Let’s not do that.” Head rolling back until his forehead presses to the cool window, Sehun lets his eyes drop to half-shut, watching all the colors outside blur into one big neon river. They’re somewhere near Wonderland, he can tell from the streets and quality of the shops.

Chanyeol hums thoughtfully and he comments casually, “It could help if you told me what happened.”

Sehun sighs and wishes Chanyeol’s stupid leather seats could just eat him alive. “I don’t wanna talk about it.”

And easily, Chanyeol agrees, “Okay. Tell me something else then.” His eyes are focused on the road but Sehun’s are trained on the way the colors from outside reflect off his skin, turning him alien.

He bites the inside of his cheek and shrugs. “My childhood best friend is possibly quitting school and moving to Seoul to start modeling.”

“Lee Taemin?” At the questioning look Sehun throws at him, he simply responds, “That guy is really pretty, okay, he’d be able to pull it off.” He’s right of course, which just adds to Sehun’s melancholy.

“I know,” he mumbles miserably. Then, sitting up straighter in his seat, “Why are we here?” Outside the door is the unmistakable sign for Wonderland, complete with the little Cheshire cat draped over it. Once its grin had looked frightening, but now it’s a strangely welcoming sight for Sehun.

“Calm down, Jonginnie’s been home with a killer hangover all day. It’s pretty empty today. Just Jongdae and probably a couple stray people in and out.” Chanyeol is out of the car before Sehun can say anything, so he resigns himself to humiliation and gets out as well.

Luckily, the front of the shop is as empty as Chanyeol had promised. Jongdae leans on the counter, a glass bowl of something in one hand, lips quirked into an impish smile. “I wasn’t expecting either of you to show up today,” he drawls, then raises his straight eyebrows. “Especially not together.”

Chanyeol steals the bong from him and puts it on the table. “Minseok wouldn’t want you getting high on your shift,” he mock-scolds. Jongdae smirks even wider, looking every bit like the Cheshire cat hanging on the sign outside.

“Don’t forget I technically own this place too,” he singsongs.

“How could I, when you have to remind me every day?” Chanyeol banters back easily, but then he’s grinning and playfully tugging at Jongdae’s bangs. “Come on Sehunnie, let’s see who’s here today.”

Jongdae lets them pass, and then they’re ducking into the familiar hallway. The door to the back room is shut today, but Chanyeol swings it open and Sehun blinks a couple times to adjust to the lighting.

“Chanyeol!” Yixing calls, and Sehun stumbles in after the taller boy. Then he says something in Mandarin, completely unintelligible to Sehun. “Taozi, say hi to them.”

Sehun looks up to see who Yixing is talking to, eyes finally getting used to the dimmed lights. And promptly gasps.

There’s a guy sitting—more like draped—on Yixing’s lap, way too much of his skin on display. Even without the lights, Sehun can see the lean muscles in his arms shift in his ripped up black tank, and when he looks up, Sehun can’t stop staring. His eyes, leonine and slanted, are rimmed in thick black, more than he’s ever seen on Baekhyun or Jongin. His lips curl prettily and all thoughts of Jongdae being the Cheshire cat fly from Sehun’s mind because this is surely a feline in its most pure sinful form.

Yixing says something in Mandarin again, pets Taozi’s hair, and nudges him gently.

The guy gets up, all liquid muscle and feline features, and Sehun doesn’t know if he’s scared or turned on. Or possibly both. Whereas Jongin is sensual in a nice clean way, this boy looks like he bleeds poison and works as an assassin part time. His eyes work their way up Sehun’s body, and he has the sudden impression of being stabbed in the gut.

“I’m Zitao,” he says then, his voice surprisingly high and soft, but silky, suiting his appearance. There’s a slight accent behind it, more so than Yixing or Lu Han or even Kris. “And you’re staring.”

Sehun’s knees kind of go weak.

Chanyeol laughs from behind him and pushes him forward playfully. “He tends to have that effect on people.”

“What effect?” Zitao asks, head tilting to the side. He’s got to have the darkest hair Sehun’s ever seen on a person, inky even in the neon light.

“Shock?” Yixing suggests, and then reaches a hand out, joint dangling from his fingertips. Zitao grins, slow and borderline obscene as he grabs it.

“Thank you,” he says, but if it’s for the joint or the comment, Sehun’s not sure.

Chanyeol brushes past Sehun and falls into one of the cushy beanbag chairs that lie around the room sometimes to make space for everyone. “Don’t mind him, Hunnie,” he teases, “He’s a baby through and through.”

Zitao winds himself back around Yixing and pats the tiny space next to them on the couch for Sehun. “I’m not,” he protests, but when Yixing flicks his nose, he giggles in a way that sounds completely childish.

Sehun finds himself smiling along as Yixing runs his thin fingers through Zitao’s hair, petting him like a cat. Somehow, the analogy Sehun had made seems truer than ever. Sehun squeezes into the space Zitao had indicated for him, and suddenly there are long leather clad legs thrown over one of his thighs. Sehun swallows.

“How old are you, Sehun?” Zitao asks, smirk back in his voice.

“Too young for you to be asking,” Yixing fills in, mellow. Upon seeing Sehun’s stricken face, he laughs. “Tao does tattoos. You can’t get them before you’re eighteen, so don’t even think about it.”

Zitao pouts and blinks slowly. “I make exceptions. I did Jongin’s, didn’t I? And he’s even younger than I am.”

Sehun thinks back to the beautiful black wolf against the tan skin of Jongin’s hips and his mouth goes dry. He’s licked that design, traced it with his tongue. He feels inexplicably dirty.

Zitao’s warm hand on his thigh distracts him from that thought though, pulling his attention back to the present. “Well? What if we did something pretty, for a pretty boy? Something aesthetic? Plain black? I could put a pretty little butterfly right here.” Zitao jabs his fingers into Sehun’s abdomen, eyes lidded and heavy as he examines Sehun’s body. He gasps, flinching away automatically from the touch, and Zitao giggles again. “Sorry.” He says, but he doesn’t sound remorseful in the slightest.

“No tattoos.” Chanyeol says firmly. “Maybe another one for me though.”

“I’ll draw a dick right between your legs to compensate for your tiny one,” Zitao says, voice venomously sweet. There’s the poison Sehun had expected upon seeing him for the first time.

Chanyeol smiles back, just as saccharine, and says, “I love having you back from China.”

Zitao nuzzles into Yixing’s neck and calls from against the skin, “I love being back.”

Sehun watches the exchange silently and tries not to wonder why there seems to be actual menace behind the words. He’s seen Chanyeol playfully be sarcastic before, but Zitao and him are sparking off of one another in a way that makes Sehun want to see them fight. (Or maybe he just wouldn’t mind watching the biceps for that fight, god, how are they both so in shape?)

Yixing reassures him, “They secretly love each other, I promise.” He rolls his eyes good naturedly when Zitao and Chanyeol both protest vehemently.

They stay for what feels like the whole night, but back in Chanyeol’s car, the little clock on the dashboard only indicates that a couple hours have passed. It’s strange how time passes in the store.

Zitao walks them out, moving with the grace of a cat. Before Sehun can get into the car, he catches the younger’s wrist and slips something into it. Sehun stares. It’s a business card for a tattoo shop.

Zitao smiles, the edge of his mouth curling minutely. “Give me a call sometime, tattoo or not, yeah?”

Sehun’s mouth is too dry to respond correctly, but he manages a nod.

The card burns in his pocket the rest of the way home.

That night, Sehun dreams of being caught between a wolf and a cat, the animals both digging their claws into him and pulling him about like a ragdoll.

Chapter Text

Sehun’s hair is hidden behind a hood when he stumbles downstairs the next morning. He’d almost forgotten the promise his father had made the night before.

We’ll talk about dying it back to black tomorrow. Sehun resists the urge to scoff. His once clean shoes leave smudges of dirt on the linoleum floors of the entranceway of the house as he slinks into the dining room. As usual, his parents are already gone, the remains of their breakfast already cleared by one of the maids.

Sehun sinks into one of the velvet cushioned seats and taps his nails against the silky tablecloth. He doesn’t feel like eating in the kitchen today.

Apparently that doesn’t matter because a second later, Junmyeon bursts into the room with all the force of a small elephant and slams his hands down on the table.

“Are you insane?” He demands, and he’d look a lot more threatening if he wasn’t a good head shorter than Sehun. “Your parents are going to decapitate us.”

Sehun snorts and reaches over to grab a bowl and a box of cereal, making a face at the bland looking brand. He likes his cereal sugary, thank you very much. Perhaps it’s because he’d already had this freak out the night before, but Sehun feels oddly zen.

“Have you tried yoga?” He asks nonchalantly as he opens the crinkly packaging and tips cereal into his bowl. “I hear it makes you very relaxed.”

Junmyeon makes an anguished noise and drops into the seat across from him.

Sehun tries not to grin.

-

Life is surprisingly easy to figure out, Sehun discovers on a Sunday at exactly three o’clock (or maybe it’s not three o’clock because the clocks lining Wonderland tend to be wrong.)

He comes to this conclusion because of one Byun Baekhyun, who is sitting around on his ass instead of working.

“You should be working,” Sehun says when he walks in. He’d walked all the way down to the shop by himself, an accomplishment in his eyes. Baekhyun waves a dainty hand and keeps playing around on his phone.

“I heard what happened yesterday,” Baekhyun looks up through his bangs and squints. There’s no black makeup smudged around his eyes and somehow he looks like an actual person now instead of the strange unfamiliar being Sehun had reckoned him to on their first meeting.

“Do you mean me avoiding Jongin or my late night freak out?” Sehun asks dryly, folding his arms up and resting his elbows on the countertop.

Baekhyun’s mouth tilts up in the corner. “Your hair looks cute.” He says instead.

Sehun drags a hand through the bleached strands, feeling it part like silk under his fingers. “Thanks.”

Baekhyun shoves lightly at his bicep. “You know what you need?” The door to the back room opens as Baekhyun says firmly, “You need to get laid.”

“Baek no,” Chanyeol is there suddenly, exasperatedly pressing a hand over Baekhyun’s mouth. “Please ignore him, you do not need to get laid. In fact, you need to do the opposite. Go talk with Jongin and figure things out.”

“He’s in the back right now,” Baekhyun chimes in with a grin, “Work it out now.”

“Bye,” Sehun says instead, and makes to walk out of the shop. Or he would, if not for Chanyeol and his freakishly large hand holding him still via a vice like grip on his bicep.

“Work it out,” he repeats, and he sounds so much like a parent that Sehun feels bile rise in the back of his throat. “Go,” he says firmly, and points at the battered door.

Sehun feels his stomach flip over as he shuffles as slowly as possible to the door, kicks it open like a sullen teenager and strides into the back room. Just like Chanyeol had said, Jongin is sprawled across the couch, leonine and practically glowing in the lurid light. Sehun swallows hard.

Jongin, on the other hand, grins so wide that Sehun has to look away. “Hey,” he calls, casual as can be, “Where’ve you been lately?”

Biting back an “avoiding you,” Sehun presses his lips together and then before he can help it, he’s blurting out, “Oh, you know, school and stuff.” His insides are flaming, heat rising in the pit of his stomach and his face likely flushed, but he keeps his voice nonchalant. He doesn’t want a confrontation.

Jongin gets up with the grace of a dancer, reaches out for Sehun and before Sehun can flinch away, there’s a hand stroking back his bangs. “I like your hair,” Jongin says sincerely, eyes dark in the dim light, and for a second Sehun wonders what he really did see. How could the boy he’d thought of as heartless for the past week be this same boy who smiles like the sun?

“Taemin and I did it a couple days ago,” Sehun smiles back despite himself, feeling the anger melt out of him like ice cream on a hot day. There’s a tiny part of him that is screaming, wondering why he’s not calling Jongin out for what he did, but Sehun grins wider and buries it deep inside.

-

Sehun’s resolve is weak, according to Byun Baekhyun.

You can't forgive him so easily," Baekhyun says frustratedly after Sehun had given in and spilled everything to him, "at least make him apologize first." From Sehun's other side, Chanyeol hums his agreement. They’re holed up in Sehun’s room, Chanyeol greeting Sehun’s parents polite and perfect on his way in. His father had shot him an approving look and Sehun had blinked blankly, following Chanyeol out of the room without acknowledging the man at all.

If they’d known about the pack of smokes in Chanyeol’s jacket pocket though, the look probably would have been much different.

Sehun hadn’t expected them to stick by him because they'd been friends with Jongin first, but Chanyeol shows him a lot of solidarity, and so does Baekhyun, in his own way. Even if his own way means telling Sehun to sleep around with as many people as possible to make Jongin jealous.

Sehun swears he hadn’t been considering it, but Chanyeol shoots him a disapproving look and a firm “no” just in case anyways.

Sehun resists the urge to groan and says for what feels like the hundredth time, “He never said we were actually a thing though, so technically he’s not in the wrong right now.”

Baekhyun shakes his head, sends a pitying look Sehun’s way as he flicks a lighter on and off in his nimble fingers. “You know what you need?”

“If that answer to that is sex then I object.” Chanyeol says dryly.

Sehun’s been under the impression that Chanyeol is immature from the way he transitions easily from the quiet kid at school to the easygoing grinning boy outside class, but spending time with both him and Baekhyun sheds new light on him. It’s Chanyeol, more often than not, that keeps Baekhyun under control when the smaller gets a bit too rowdy.

“It’s not!” Baekhyun complains rather loudly. “I was just going to say that you have to talk things out with Jongin or he won’t get what he did wrong.”

Sehun presses his lips together so hard that it almost hurts. “I’d rather not, thanks.” Talking to Jongin about what happened is low on his list of priorities.

“You can’t just act like nothing happened.” Baekhyun looks up with strangely sober eyes. “It’s going to fester inside you until it swallows you whole.” Baekhyun’s head flops down against the back of the couch and he takes a long drag of his cigarette, blowing it out in the direction of the window. It’s likely that Junmyeon knows by now, and since he hasn’t said anything as of yet, Sehun is willing to take his chances.

Baekhyun’s slim fingers reach over him to hand the cigarette to Chanyeol, and Sehun pretends not to see the way Chanyeol rubs his thumb into the hollow between Baekhyun’s thumb and index finger.

“Fuck this,” Chanyeol says, getting to his feet and walking over to the window to stab the smoke out on the open sill. “I have something better.”

Sehun opens his mouth to ask what, but Chanyeol is already reaching into his pocket, taking his wallet out and taking out a strip of… something.

Something inside Sehun’s chest drops. There are pills in the center of Chanyeol’s palm, tiny and orange. At Sehun’s expression, Chanyeol drops down on the couch and slings an arm around him. “Adderall,” he explains, “I have ADHD but I think Baek just likes them.”

Baekhyun hums in agreement, reaches over Sehun’s lap and takes one. Sehun wearily follows and holds one up. “I won’t die or anything, will I?” he laughs nervously, trying to lighten the mood with a joke. Only, Chanyeol is staring at him, completely sober.

“Maybe,” he says, and Sehun jerks a little, nearly dropping the pill in the process. Chanyeol holds his composure for another second before he laughs. “You’re not going to die, stupid. It’s just one pill and its prescribed to me anyways. You’ll be fine.”

“Your parents are leaving,” Baekhyun comments from the window, and then pops the pill into his mouth, swallowing it dry. Sehun glances at the pill again wearily.

Chanyeol takes one as well, and Sehun inhales deeply, forcing his nerves calm. He grabs the water bottle on his nightstand and takes his with water, and to his surprise, it’s just like taking medicine.

Which, he supposes, it is.

-

Sehun doesn’t think that the pill is doing anything, but about forty minutes later, Baekhyun is giggling quietly to himself sprawled on Sehun’s bed with one hand reached straight up to the ceiling. Chanyeol is in the bathroom and Sehun is sitting on the edge of the bed watching Baekhyun’s eyes crinkle prettily when he grins.

Baekhyun really is pretty, he realizes with a shock. His brown hair swept forward onto his forehead, little plush cherry lips and soft features, the remains of black around his droopy eyes. It’s completely juxtapose Jongin’s easy sensuality, but Sehun finds himself enjoying the sight very much when Baekhyun stretches and the hem of his shirt comes up to reveal a strip of his soft pale stomach, again different from Jongin’s flat lean tanned body.

Sehun swallows, his throat clicking dryly. “I miss Jongin,” he says stupidly.

Baekhyun swivels his head around, blinks slowly and grins. “Do you?” he asks, then flips over onto his knees. He crawls closer before Sehun can tell him to stop, pressing into Sehun’s personal space.

“Missing people sucks,” Baekhyun offers apologetically, “I miss Chanyeol right now,” he adds a second later, and even though the sane part of Sehun’s mind knows that Chanyeol is just in the other room, he hums sympathetically.

Baekhyun’s pink lips part, and he breathes out quietly, “Chanyeol and I were talking today on our way here,” Sehun’s heart beats oddly without rhythm, but if it’s a little too fast or a little too slow, he can’t tell. “We decided something. He said I can.”

Sehun begins to say, “Can what?” but then Baekhyun is pressing forward, lips suddenly flush against Sehun’s.

Sehun feels floaty, his consciousness somewhere on the ceiling instead of in his head, but then he’s kissing back, eager and willing. Kissing Baekhyun is different from kissing Jongin, who always steals the breath right out of Sehun’s lungs. Baekhyun is a little tentative, slow and exploring. Sometime, (he's so out of it, he hadn’t even noticed) Chanyeol had come back, had wrapped a hand around Sehun’s wrists and pinned them above his head.

Sehun arches up against Baekhyun when one of his nimble hands comes up, presses to Sehun’s dick, and he hadn’t even felt himself get hard, but Baekhyun is lowly whispering something. It takes a second for it to register. “Do you have condoms?”

Sehun shakes head and wonders if he’s about to be fucked. The idea is new but surprisingly appealing, and where he always thought his first time would be Jongin, his drug addled brain finds that it doesn’t mind this alternative much.

Chanyeol disappears for a second, returns with his wallet again and pulls a condom out. “I have a couple,” he offers, tosses one to Baekhyun and keeps one for himself. Baekhyun rips in open in an almost businesslike way, pulling Sehun’s sweats down in the same second. To his surprise, Sehun is already painfully hard and Chanyeol huffs out a laugh.

Everything feels kind of like an out of body experience as Baekhyun rolls the condom onto Sehun’s cock, right up till the second Baekhyun bends down and takes Sehun’s dick into his mouth, right down his throat like it’s nothing.

Sehun writhes, moans and squeezes his eyes shut. He’d thought Jongin had been good at sucking dick, but Baekhyun’s lips are practically against his fucking hips, eyes wide and open to stare past Sehun’s shoulder at Chanyeol. He’s pretty even with a cock shoved in his mouth, cheeks clamped tight and warm around Sehun, and he knows he won’t last long because Baekhyun is doing—something, the inside of his throat convulsing around him.

It only takes a couple more seconds until Sehun can’t take it anymore, gasping out a stuttered warning before he’s spilling, coming inside the condom and Baekhyun pops off, jerks him through it until Sehun is lax and panting, his wrists slack in Chanyeol’s grip.

Baekhyun crawls on top of him, kisses his cheeks and then his upper lip sweetly, and then pulls him up into sitting position. “We’re not finished yet, Sehunnie.” With an almost sly smirk, he cranes his neck and kisses Chanyeol over Sehun’s shoulder.

Sehun still isn’t completely there, the full effects of the pill making him muddled. He just barely notices Baekhyun crawl onto Chanyeol lap from his, just opens up his mouth, pliant and easy when Chanyeol leans over and kisses him. Chanyeol is in a different kissing class too, his lips chapped, not as thick as Jongin’s or as sweet as Baekhyun, but rougher in a way that feels like he’s teasing Sehun somehow.

Baekhyun is rocking his hips against Chanyeol’s, eyes half closed and with a hand fisted in the front of Chanyeol’s shirt. He looks languid but still sensual, the kind of thing Sehun would never be able to achieve.

Baekhyun shudders then, ruts his hips against Chanyeol’s hip a couple more times and stills, panting softly. He sits back then, leans on Sehun and says, “Chanyeol, touch yourself,” his voice strangely authoritative.

Chanyeol leans back as well, slides his jeans down his thighs along with his underwear and Sehun squeezes his lips together at the sight of his cock, flushed and long. He wonders briefly if Chanyeol would taste any different than Jongin but pushes the idea out of his head to watch the show.

Chanyeol makes jerking off look like an art.

The long column of his neck shows as he throws his head back, fondles his balls with one hand and teases his cock with the other, and then he’s shoving his shirt up, catching the hem in his mouth so his long pale torso is on display. Sehun’s breath catches in his throat.

Chanyeol makes a noise like a fucking porn star and comes long threads of come against the white of his belly that drip slowly downward, and Sehun leans forward before he can help it. He runs a finger through it, and Chanyeol cocks his head to the side curiously, his abdominal muscles clenching under the touch.

Sehun brings it up his mouth, sucks on his finger contemplatively. It’s not bad, maybe even a little easier on his palette than Jongin’s.

Baekhyun smiles brightly and kisses him again, tongue sweeping into his mouth to lick up whatever taste is left in his mouth. “That was fun,” he says, then yawns, his little mouth stretching wide.

“Fun,” Chanyeol echoes, and then brushes a hand through his hair. “I hope we didn’t freak you out or anything, Sehun.”

Sehun just shakes his head. He’s not exactly sure what just happened, but he thinks he needed it.

-

That night, Sehun is woken up at the most hellish hour.

The clock reads 3:34 and Sehun blinks sleep out of eyes, sits up wearily and glances around. The knock comes again, this time harder and more demanding.

Sehun’s blood turns to ice.

Jongin.

Chapter Text

Sehun’s fingers tremble as he fumbles with the window lock, once, twice, then with a frustrated twist of the hand, it comes loose. He’s staring purposefully down at the window ledge and decidedly not at Jongin, even if he can feel the older boy’s eyes burning into him.

Jongin slips in with his usual fluidity and lands neatly on Sehun’s floor. Sehun’s insides hurt just looking at him in all his molten liquid glory, standing against Sehun’s window, his edges outlined by faint moonlight. Sehun had thought once that Jongin looked inhuman, something unearthly. Now he looks like a tired boy, and Sehun thinks that the curtains have finally dropped.

Jongin smells like smoke and his cheeks seem more hollow than usual. The most base part of Sehun’s mind revels in this small victory—that Jongin looks just as terrible as he does, that Jongin may know what he’s done wrong and be remorseful.

Jongin looks up through inky black lashes, all the constellations in the sky in his eyes, and he says quietly, “When did you get so good at lying to me?”

That’s not what Sehun is expecting.

Taken aback, he raises an eyebrow and tries to veil his confusion. “When did I lie to you?”

Jongin gives him a half smile so heart shatteringly beautiful that he feels himself waver. It’s Jongin, he takes a second to think, but then he puts his foot down. It’s Jongin, who cheated, who hurt him.

“I got good at lying to you the second you got good at lying to me,” Sehun says breezily.

Jongin stares, and then stares some more. Just when Sehun begins to feel intimidated, he speaks up. “You’ve been avoiding me purposefully. Why.”

Silence hangs heavy in the air between them and Sehun resists the urge to lie again just to smooth things over. He can only keep lying for so long. “I saw you that night at Chanyeol’s house.”

And just like that, Sehun feels everything laid bare. Let Jongin repent, let him feel miserable for what he’s done.

Except, Jongin quirks an eyebrow and leans against Sehun’s wall, and asks coolly, “I don’t think I know what you’re talking about.” His shoulders hunch defensively as if to shield himself. “You’re going to have to be more specific if you want me to remember something from when I was wasted. From when you were also wasted.”

“You were making out with someone! In front of me!” Sehun bites the inside of his cheek so hard it hurts.

“And?” Jongin shrugs. “Are we dating or something?”

Just like that. Nonchalant. Every fragile bit of hope inside Sehun crashes into a pile of dust. “You can’t be serious. You liked me! You told me you like me… I can’t believe you’d just go and hook up with someone in front of me. You’re not allowed to—“

“I’m not allowed?” Jongin’s voice goes deadly quiet and Sehun knows immediately he’s said something wrong. “Who are you to tell me what I am and am not allowed to do?”

Sehun stays silent, sees Jongin’s fists clench by his sides and knows that he’s struck a nerve. “You don’t know shit, you spoiled little rich boy, you’re sitting in this fucking mansion like you own the world but you don’t. God, you’re the most ignorant—why do I bother?” Jongin is frighteningly calm, the only sign of his anger the tight set of his jaw and his quick low voice.

Heat is pooling into Sehun’s belly, but not the good kind—the kind that makes him feel nauseous, until he’s brimming with the urge to turn tail and hide, to cry, but he doesn’t want to give Jongin the satisfaction.

“I’m ignorant?” The words come spilling out of his mouth before he can help them, a dam ripped open inside him. “You’re the one keeping me in the dark all the time. Don’t act so high and mighty either. Do you think you’re cool or something just because you’re an asshole to me all the time? I don’t need y—“

“I made you, Oh Sehun,” Jongin says in a voice like the calm before a storm, his face dark like thunderclouds. “Don’t you forget it.”

Sehun is livid, his insides burning away, but there’s a part of his brain that tells him that—fuck, Jongin is right. Jongin is the reason he’s experienced what he has in the past few months, the reason his life has become this way. Jongin is still staring, his eyes flashing like lightning, and Sehun gets a tiny glimpse suddenly of the storm that is Kim Jongin.

Sehun blinks stubborn tears away from his eyes but they go spilling down his cheeks anyways. Crybaby, Jongin had called him the first time they’d met. He’s living up to the name well.

“I liked you,” Sehun whispers, his voice cracked and quiet. “I really liked you, Jongin.”

He looks up, searches Jongin’s face for… something. Regret maybe. His features are blank, and it’s like the stars in his eyes have gone out.

And then Jongin ducks out the window like he’s done so many times before, and with him he takes Sehun’s heart.

-

It takes Sehun multiple tries to get the number in and hit dial because of how badly his hands are shaking. Everything feels blurred and out of focus like Jongin took Sehun’s sanity when he left. God, maybe he had. The phone is ringing but Sehun barely registers it over the roaring of blood in his ears.

“Hello?” The voice sounds cheerful and awake. Sehun glances at the clock. It’s four o’clock in the morning.

“It’s uh, it’s me Sehun. Are you busy right now?”

-

Sehun sits on the curb by himself. It’s chilly outside but he hadn’t grabbed a jacket, and now he’s regretting it. While the days are quickly warming up as summer approaches, the nights are still cool. The hard curb is hurting his ass but his legs had gotten stiff from standing.

His mind is conflicted. Half of him wants to run to Wonderland and find out where Jongin is, to apologize and let Jongin put him in his place. The other half wants what’s coming to him, wants to be released from Jongin’s constant push and pull.

There’s too much Sehun wants. He’s getting greedy. He doesn’t know what he was thinking, calling so late. And of all people to call…

Conflicting sides of him are at war though, and he wants to feel numb. Wants it gone. He wishes he had a couple of those pills Chanyeol had given him, or anything that would just block out all the jagged edges of his relationship with Jongin.

There’s no use in thinking so negatively, he thinks to himself. Jongin doesn’t care and so you shouldn’t either. Stop chasing something that will never be yours.

His phone buzzes with a text. He unlocks it and checks his unread messages. Down your street, it reads.

Sehun stands up and stretches, trepidation curling in the pit of his stomach. A nervous kind of anxiousness sparks inside him, but he welcomes it. Anxiety is something he knows well.

The car pulls up and Sehun lets himself in.

-

Sehun hadn’t realized what he’d been getting himself into. When the offer had come up, he’d taken it without understanding exactly what it entailed. Of course everything had been explained to him thoroughly with a promise that nothing painful or bad would happen, but Sehun hadn’t realized he’d be so completely overwhelmed.

Sehun’s cock has never been so hard. They’ve been at it for an hour and he’s painfully aroused, but still he’s being kept from coming. He gasps wetly, mouth falling open when a hand twists his nipple harshly and a chiming laugh sounds.

 Everything is too much, precome streaming down the head of his cock, the fingers in his ass pushing against the place that feels so good again, and Sehun cries out, thrashes against the ties that bind his wrists together behind his back.

“Ask me again. Nicely this time.”

Automatically, the words spill from his mouth. The blindfold tight around his eyes keeps everything dark and with it comes a feeling of safety. Sehun’s never done anything like this before but as scary as it is, there’s something reassuring about giving up control. “Please,” he mumbles, “Please please can I come?”

There’s no response but a second later, the loose ties that restrains his wrists are released. “Go on then. Touch yourself.”

Sehun sinks his teeth into his lower lip and wraps a hand around his cock. He’s so sensitive that it hurts but simultaneously feels so good that he could cry. Does cry. Tears of relief wet the inside of the blindfold and the fingers inside him twist, press somewhere that has him jerking, gasping in overstimulation.

Sehun’s orgasm hits him with the force of a tidal wave, his entire body buckling over where he’s kneeling on the floor, shivers running up his spine and a sensation in his stomach unlike anything he’s ever felt before.

He’s still slumped on the ground when the fingers inside him withdraw and with gentle hands, he's pushed up into sitting position. Clever fingers work the blindfold loose, and a face comes into view in front of Sehun’s teary eyes.

“Okay?” Zitao asks softly.

Sehun squares his shoulders and sniffles a little. “Okay.” He repeats.

-

Zitao’s apartment is small but comfortable. There are stairs in the tattoo shop downstairs that lead up to the door, and Sehun had felt anxiety practically tangible around him when he’d come in. Now, the dim yellow lights are soft and glowing and relaxing.

Zitao makes Sehun breakfast after telling him to take a shower, puts a big stack of pancakes in front of him and sits across from him at the tiny table. He sprawls more than sits in his chair and smokes a cigarette, lazily blowing out smoke while Sehun eats. He would have thought he’d have no appetite but suddenly he’s ravenous.

He also gets a sweater when Zitao sees him shivering. The rise in body temperature is quick, the tattoo artist had explained, so the drop is quick too.

Sehun doesn’t regret what he did. All he feels is strangely weightless when he looks at Zitao from under his eyelashes, and when Zitao notices him staring, he smiles languidly. Sehun flushes and turns back to his tea, takes a sip and pretends his cheeks aren’t red.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Zitao asks him eventually. His voice is soft and melodious as usual, and it puts Sehun at ease. Sehun shakes his head. It’s probably not good to bottle his emotions up but he doesn’t feel comfortable talking about it. “You know, we’re probably close in age.”

That’s surprising. “I’m in high school.” Sehun frowns.

Zitao smiles a little sheepishly. “I go to school when I have time. I only work at the shop part time. There’s another apartment next door where the owner lives. He lets me live here because he likes me and I have nowhere else to go.”

“You seem older than that.” Sehun says honestly, and Zitao laughs the same shattering glass giggle.

“That’s not something I hear often, but thanks. It’s usually that I'm immature.” He stubs the cigarette out on an ashtray—an actual ashtray, not the plastic cups they use in Wonderland or Sehun’s windowsill—and leans over the table with grace that beats Jongin’s.

Where Jongin moves like a dancer, Zitao moves like he knows every muscle in his body and can has perfect control over all of them. Lethally fluid.

“Can I kiss you?” Zitao breathes, suddenly shy. He looks at Sehun with childlike curiosity and caution and immediately Sehun understands why someone would call him childish.

“O-okay.” Sehun whispers, and Zitao leans in even closer. His lips are soft and chapped and everything tastes like smoke and maple syrup. Sehun tries to deepen the kiss, and Zitao lets him lead, lets Sehun be the one to slide his tongue along the seam of his mouth and moves easily with him, open and willing under Sehun’s mouth.

Zitao doesn’t kiss like Jongin or Baekhyun. He’s slow and gentle and lets Sehun do whatever he wants, follows his lead. Sehun wonders idly how someone who had taken charge so well earlier can become so pliant and soft in such a short time.

He says as much when Zitao pulls away with one last lingering kiss and sits back in his chair.

The bell like laughter rings again, and Zitao shrugs. “I think I prefer letting others take control but when I need to I can do it too. Why, is it bothering you?”

Sehun shakes his head mutely and mulls this over as he stabs his fork into the last pancake. With Jongin, he’d never been in control of anything. It was always Jongin that seemed to have a presence so overwhelming that Sehun hadn’t needed to do anything but follow. Without much experience in taking the lead, Sehun can’t be sure what he prefers.

“Listen,” Sehun snaps to attention. “I don’t want to be forced between you and Jongin and whatever’s going on with you two, okay? You and I had some fun, that’s fine. Jongin and I have done the same before.” Zitao drums his nails contemplatively against the worn wood table. “I want us to be friends but I'm friends with Jongin too, and I don’t want anything to make things awkward.”

“How do you know I have something going on with Jongin?”

Zitao snorts. “Minseok’s people are close knit. Word gets around fast, baby boy. You need a ride home before your phone explodes?”

Sehun almost asks “what?” but then Zitao looks pointedly at his phone, which is a little ways down the table.

It’s buzzing violently, Junmyeon’s name flashing across the screen. The time reads 7:35 so Sehun knows it’s not too late, but he doesn’t exactly have an excuse. Before he can say anything, Zitao plucks the phone from his hand and has it cradled to his ear.

Sehun nearly screams but Zitao is already talking before he can stop him. “Hello sir!” He says cheerfully, “I’m Sehun’s friend from school and I wanted to let you know that I needed help on a project so I asked Sehun to come over extra early to help me.”

Sehun buries his head in his arms, deeming this too embarrassing for him to even see. Zitao pauses for a second to let Junmyeon respond, and then there’s a peal of bright sharp incredulous laughter. “Yes, he is with me right now.”

“I’ll have him home soon, I promise.” Another pause. “Of course I was. No problem. Everything’s fine. Yeah, nice meeting you too.” Zitao hangs up and when Sehun finds it in him to look up again, Zitao is sliding his phone back to him.

“He sounded kind of high strung.” Zitao murmurs, all the fake brightness disappearing at once. “I think he needs a couple days off.”

“I think he needs a couple years off.” Sehun grumbles. “Can you give me a ride home?”

Zitao laughs and ruffles his hair on his way to the keys. "Come on."

Sehun follows.

Chapter Text

Zitao had failed to mention that he drives a motorcycle.

When Sehun raises an eyebrow and gives him a look, he just laughs and shrugs, explain that the car he’d used last night hadn’t been his and he’d returned it to the old man who owns the tattoo shop.

“It’s not dangerous,” he swears with wide eyes, “I have a spare helmet and I’ve been driving it for over a year now, and I’ve never gotten hurt.”

And so Sehun finds himself putting aside the anxiety fluttering inside him and hopping up behind Zitao, arms tight around the older boy’s surprisingly narrow waist.

It’s not dangerous. It’s fucking terrifying.

Despite the bike not feeling too unsteady, wind whips against Sehun’s body and face and it feels both exhilarating and nerve racking at once, and Sehun could scream as they fly down the street, elation bubbling up inside him. Sure, he’s done some shit over the past couple months, but nothing as grandiose and physically risky as this, and it feels wonderful, he realizes in awe. Freedom, for the first time in his life, real freedom.

The ride back to his house feels almost too short as he’s sliding off the bike and pulls the helmet off (down the street of course—he doesn’t want a motorcycle pulling up in front of their gate) and sneaks in through the section of trees in the corner of the grounds where there’s no fence.

Sehun’s aware he just spent the whole night out, and he’s completely delighted by it.

-

Sehun really hates Calculus. Chanyeol though, Park Fucking Chanyeol is powering through his homework easily, head bowed and brows scrunched in concentration. Sehun would much rather be sitting on the bed listening to Baekhyun hum whatever loud foreign song he’s obsessed with at the moment.

“Dude,” Chanyeol says and then pokes Sehun rather roughly on the shoulder. “You know we have exams coming up, right? And you’re not even halfway through the review sheet.”

Sehun would rather burn the review sheet but he keeps his mouth shut and keeps working, albeit much slower than Chanyeol, who apparently lives and breathes math. The last time he’d grumbled and complained about schoolwork, Baekhyun had shot him a look and said something like “Don’t know how lucky you are, going to a school like yours.”

When Sehun’s finished, he drops onto the bed next to Baekhyun and stares up at the bed canopy—seriously, who has a fucking canopy bed? Chanyeol, apparently.

“Can we go do something now?” He asks, restlessness stirring inside him. He’s been inside for the past week except for the once he’d gone to see Zitao, only to find him busy with a customer. The prospect of a tattoo needle had freaked Sehun out enough into causing him to leave quickly, and he’d stopped by the store, hoping with all his might that Jongin wouldn’t be there. Fortunately, he’d been out all week as well, Minseok had informed him with a rather concerned expression.

When Sehun had shrugged, uncomfortableness still seeped through his mask and Minseok raised a thick eyebrow. “I’m guessing you two did what I asked you not to do and messed things up between you,” he’d said dryly, and Sehun didn’t even have to reply.

Minseok had just sighed and finished ringing up the rather pretty girl at the counter the pills her parents refused to get her prescribed to and waved her off with an impatient “See you next month, Luna,” then had turned back to Sehun, unimpressed.

“I tried,” Sehun had said in his defense. “I tried my fucking hardest, and he didn’t care.”

“Sehun,” Minseok had sighed, “Sometimes people have things going on in their lives. You don’t know what Jongin has gone through, or what he’s going through now. You have to be more understanding.”

Raising an eyebrow, Sehun had said, “What can I do if he won’t let me in? He blocked me out. I don’t know what to do anymore.”

Minseok had given him a sympathetic look and gone back to his work. He’d figured the owner of Wonderland would be a tough love type of person.

After a couple more silent seconds, Minseok had muttered, “It’s about to get so awkward in here. I remember last time Lu Han and I fought and everyone started picking sides.”

Sehun had stopped tapping absentmindedly on the scratched and worn counter. “I can stay away for a few weeks if that helps.” He’d offered softly, hoping as hard as possible that Minseok would disagree with his idea, but the older man had just shrugged and began counting the money in the cash register.

As Sehun was walking out the door, Minseok had said without looking up, “Don’t stay away. We want you here.”

Sehun had smiled the rest of his way home.

The rest of the week had gone by in hours of studying and sleeping, countless cups of tea and coffee building up in his room until Junmyeon had practically thrown a fit and cleaned everything up. Now, his palms are itching and his fingers curl in anticipation.

Baekhyun rolls his head to the side to eye him, eyes lit up with the same excitement. “I wanna go out too,” he whispers, “Chanyeol’s too boring to want to do anything and there’s a party on the other side of town if you want to go.”

Chanyeol’s head is still bowed as he works so Sehun leans in conspiratorially. “I do want to go.” he grins and Baekhyun smiles back just as bright.

Baekhyun goes back to his phone after that so Sehun takes his own phone out and sends a text to Taemin asking how he’s doing. A second later, he gets a picture as a reply. It’s one of Taemin sitting in the middle of his room, the once lavishly decorated quarters filled with cardboard boxes. He’s grinning wide and happy, looking more alive than Sehun has ever seen him. No doubt, Minho took the picture. At least one of them got their happy ending, he thinks before he has time to reinforce his positive thoughts.

“Sehun, do you want to go home and change before we go out tonight?” Baekhyun asks, voice saccharine enough to be suspicious to anyone who knows him.

Chanyeol straights a little and glances over to them, glasses falling down the bridge of his straight nose. “Where are you guys going?” he asks curiously. Before Sehun can answer, Baekhyun cuts it with a smooth lie, his face guileless in a way Sehun didn’t know it could be towards Chanyeol.

“Just out to a little party. One of my old friends, you know how it is.”

Maybe Sehun is imagining it, but he thinks Chanyeol stiffens just a little at those words. When he looks at them again, his handsome face is closed off and he asks through clenched teeth, “Which old friend?”

Suddenly Sehun would give anything to not be in the room because when Baekhyun replies, there’s a bit of iciness lurking behind his voice. “One of them. You’ve never met. If it bothers you so much, I’ll text you the address later.” He’s never witnessed this side of Chanyeol and Baekhyun’s relationship before. This is less melodramatic than the distance between himself and Jongin, but there’s a divide there, just the same.

Chanyeol shrugs and mutters, “Have fun then. Watch out for Sehun.”

Sehun doesn’t like being treated like some little kid but something tells him not to speak up now so he stands and begins to make his way to Chanyeol’s door. “Pick you up at eight,” Baekhyun calls after him, “Don’t be late.”

-

Baekhyun’s definition of a ‘little party’ turns out to be very different from Sehun’s. It’s in an apartment not much bigger than Zitao’s over the tattoo shop, only this one is much more run down. The lights are dimmed down and there are bodies everywhere, writhing in a big mass to psychedelic music that makes Sehun kind of uncomfortable in the pit of his stomach. Something about this place feels very wrong.

They’d taken a bus there, which had been a new experience for Sehun. He’d never been on a public bus, but once he’d gotten over the initial reluctance of sitting where hundreds of other people had sat, he’d been fine.

Baekhyun is almost disturbingly at ease in the crowd, his eyes once again done up in thick black and his clothes slinky and tight. He fits into the other people in the crowd leaving Sehun feeling out of place in his grey button down.

“Come on, let’s go do shots!” Baekhyun says over the music. As Sehun lets the older boy guide him into the dingy kitchen, they pass a coffee table with marks and scratches all over it, lines of white and bags of powder, spoons and needles next to lighters. He remembers how Minseok had told him to stay away and quickly averts his eyes.

There’s a topless woman in the kitchen. Sehun tries to look anywhere except her, but she leans over a counter shoots him a sultry look, which makes Sehun cough and look down at his shoes. Baekhyun ignores her and reaches for an empty plastic shot glass. With practiced ease, he fills it with something pale amber then quick and deliberate, licks the back of his hand. Baekhyun’s sprinkling something white onto his hand then, and it takes him a second to realize it’s salt.

Sehun stares, transfixed on how obvious it is that Baekhyun knows what he’s doing. He licks the salt and downs the shot quickly, then contorts his face as it goes down. “Your turn,” he grins afterwards, and reluctantly, Sehun lets the shorter boy teach him how to do it.

The burn from the tequila is worse than the vodka he’d tried before, and it feels like Sehun’s throat had been splashed with acid for a couple seconds before the liquid settles in his stomach, warm and weighted. Baekhyun shoves a slice of lime in his mouth and orders him to suck on it, and Sehun finds that it helps make it more bearable.

Sehun doesn’t know exactly how it goes from there, but somewhere along the way, he loses Baekhyun to the crowd and ends up dancing with people he doesn’t know, people who have multicolored hair and rings in their noses, bars in their eyebrows. He’d thought the people he knew were doing bad things, but this is on a whole other level.

He’s stumbling into the kitchen at some point for another beer when he comes face to face with a girl who must be younger than him—she’s a head shorter than him and slight in a way that suggests malnourishment, elbows sticking out at odd angles, blank eyes and hollow cheeks on a gaunt face. Sehun can’t stop gaping. She couldn’t be any more than fifteen, but a guy at the table is injecting something into her, something that makes her slump and shiver.

Deeply disturbed, Sehun tries to put it out of his mind, but the girl’s face of relief when whatever it was had been injected follows him around for the rest of the night, even in his drunken state.

There’s a couple having sex on the couch in the middle of the room when he leaves the kitchen, but no one is paying attention. As he passes, Sehun accidentally gets a glance at the guy and finds his nose is bleeding, smears of dark red dropping slow and thick down his cupid’s bow and over his lips. Sehun doesn’t think he realizes he’s bleeding.

As eager as Sehun had been to go out, he feels inherently wrong now; there’s something twisted hanging over this whole party, something that causes Sehun’s senses to scream “run”, as slow as they are from the steady stream of alcohol.

Sehun downs another shot of vodka.

-

He finds Baekhyun sometime later, agitated and shoving at some guy. Sehun feels hot all over and suddenly realizes he’s drenched in sweat. He giggles. How ridiculous, that he hadn’t even noticed.

Baekhyun looks relieved to find him and clutches onto his arm as soon as he’s close enough. “My boyfriend,” he says pointedly to the guy, who probably weighs double what Sehun does and has forearms thicker than Sehun’s neck.

Sehun opens his mouth to correct Baekhyun. Chanyeol’s his boyfriend, he’s about to laugh and inform the shorter boy, but Baekhyun sends him a look that shuts Sehun up even in his inebriated state.

“Come on,” Baekhyun mutters, “We’re leaving.” He tugs on Sehun’s arm, but the man who has been talking to him catches Baekhyun by the bicep.

He says something Sehun doesn’t catch and pulls Baekhyun so hard that he loses his grip on Sehun and cries out in pain.

The next thing Sehun remembers is yelling for the man to stop, then shoving him, and then pain flaring up his jaw and cheek. Then he’s falling into an endless black that sounds suspiciously like Baekhyun panicking.

-

Sehun feels oddly floaty, his mind jaded, but still conscious enough to wonder why is mouth is filled with something soft that does his dry mouth no favors. Through slit hazy eyes, he recognizes the sleek interior of Chanyeol’s car, the flash of Chanyeol’s knuckles white against dark steering wheel, gripping onto it much harder than necessary.

Sehun can’t see in the passenger seat, but he can hear Baekhyun’s quiet sniffles. He’s upset, but Sehun can’t figure out why, no matter how hard he tries to think.

His face hurts distantly, his mind detached, and Sehun lets himself slip back into the dark solace of his mind because staying awake is suddenly a struggle.

-

Sehun comes to in Chanyeol’s room, his head pounding and jaw throbbing and hot in pain. He tries to think back, remembers the party, the topless lady, the girl slumped at the table, and nothing else.

Using his head makes his temples ache in protest so he focuses instead on the silky softness of Chanyeol’s sheets. To his annoyance though, voices are filtering in the room. Chanyeol’s low voice comes faintly from the sitting room attached to the bedroom, and he sounds angry.

Sehun hasn’t heard easygoing Chanyeol’s voice sound so seething before, and something tells him he doesn’t ever want to be on the receiving end of that.

They walk into a room a second later and when Chanyeol notices that Sehun’s awake, the grim set of his jaw loosens. “You took quite a punch,” he comments dryly.

Sehun reaches up to feel his inflamed jaw and winces when it stings at his touch. “How?” he tries to ask, but his throat is parched and it comes out strangled.

Baekhyun appears then, trailing awkwardly behind Chanyeol. He looks like a chastised child, face drawn in small and face clean of the makeup he’d had on earlier. “You got into a fight with a guy who was harassing me.”

Ah. Right. The guy who was twice Sehun’s size. It comes back in fragments, like a scene from a movie he hasn’t seen in a long time. Sehun bites his lip and asks, “Can I get some ice for this or…”

Chanyeol sighs and leaves the room to get it, and Baekhyun crawls onto the bed next to him, eyes wide and pleading. “Sorry.” He says eventually. Short and to the point.

Sehun shakes his head and rubs at his eyes tiredly. He feels worn out but he doesn’t blame the older boy. “It’s fine Baek, he was a jerk anyways. That dick had it coming.”

Baekhyun’s lips quirk into a tiny smile and he murmurs, “You sound like Chanyeol.”

“Probably because Chanyeol is smart and doesn’t go to shady parties without telling anyone.” Chanyeol cuts in as he returns with the ice. To Sehun, he says absently, “Go ice that in the bathroom so you can see where you got hit.”

It sounds more like a command than a request so he leaves quickly. He doesn’t want to listen in on Chanyeol lecturing Baekhyun.

Unfortunately, the en suite does nothing to muffle the noise.

“How could you be so irresponsible, Baekhyun? Why would you think this is a good idea? If I hadn’t gotten there right then, it could have been so much fucking worse and it would have been on you.” Sehun’s kind of scared. He’s never heard Chanyeol’s voice get so loud except out of excitement and it makes him draw into himself; even Chanyeol has this kind of side.

“You’re blaming me?” Baekhyun asks incredulously, “I didn’t do anything, it wasn’t my fault that guy kept grabbing me and it wasn’t my fault Sehun got drunk and decided to make that asshole angry and you know it, Park Chanyeol!”

“You were supposed to be watching him!” Chanyeol explodes, “Whose fault is it that he drank too much? That he was there in the first place? That you were there?”

Sehun waits for Baekhyun to scream back, to act as snappy as he normally does, but after a second, he braves another quick glance around the tiny crack in the door and what he sees surprises him. Chanyeol’s drawn up to his full height and looming over Baekhyun’s small frame, his arms tightly crossed in front of his chest, but Baekhyun isn’t standing on his tiptoes to meet him head on like he’d been expecting. Instead, the older boy is staring at his feet, shoulders quivering and hunched.

Then Baekhyun looks up with watery eyes and says, “I—I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to,” his voice all quiet and shaky.

Chanyeol says through grit teeth, “I thought we’d agreed that you weren’t going to do things like this anymore.” Then, helplessly, “Baek, I’m just trying to help.”

Baekhyun’s full on crying now, and Sehun can’t look away even though he knows he should.

The nervous knot in the pit of Sehun’s stomach begins to finally unwind as the storm passes and Chanyeol sighs and wraps his arms tight around his boyfriend. “It’s okay,” he murmurs finally, “I’m sorry for yelling. I was scared something would happen to you guys and I overreacted.”

Sehun quickly looks away and keeps icing his face, unable to shake the feeling that he’d seen something he wasn’t meant to.

Still, Chanyeol and Baekhyun had resolved their conflict so easily—Sehun wants that badly, to be able to just stop and find someone he can care about like Chanyeol and Baekhyun do each other.

“I love you,” he overhears Chanyeol whisper later, and something inside Sehun throbs along with his face, aching.

-

Sehun decides to stay over at Chanyeol’s house, at least until the swelling in his jaw has gone down some. He’s finished changing into Chanyeol’s too long sweatpants and sweater when he hears the commotion outside the room.

Curiosity gets the better of him and he peeks his head out of the bathroom to find Baekhyun latched onto a furious Jongin’s arm, trying to pull him away and out the door again.

Jongin looks absolutely livid, eyes alight and squirming in Baekhyun’s grasp to make him let go. Over the older boy’s head, he calls, “Sehun, let me see your fucking face, let me see!” And ducks around Baekhyun.

Sehun freezes up when Jongin runs up to him looking utterly out of breath and just as beautiful as the last time they’d seen each other. Jongin swears under his breath and reaches up to Sehun’s face, but he turns his head away at the last second, doesn’t miss the flash of hurt he sees on Jongin’s face.

“Go away,” he says blankly.

His face stings painfully and Jongin is staring at the reddened skin with concern lacing his features, and Sehun feels sympathy bleed through his cold façade, but presses it back with difficulty. “Leave, Jongin.” He says with finality, and turns away so he doesn’t have to see the expression on his face.

Chanyeol murmurs quietly to Jongin for a moment before pulling him gently out of the room, and for once, Sehun is glad about him leaving.

-

Ultimately, Sehun decides to go home. Chanyeol drops him off even though it’s a short walk and as he sneaks back inside and up to his room, he stops by the dark kitchen for some ice and presses the makeshift ice pack to his face. Ironically, it reminds him of the last time he’d been down here for an ice pack, helping Jongin after he’d gotten into a fight.

His room feels like a safe haven after the chaotic night, quiet and undisturbed. He changes quickly, discarding the sweater Chanyeol had let him borrow and finding a comfortable shirt to sleep in. He probably smells like smoke and alcohol but right now he can’t even think about a shower.

Sehun falls asleep the second his head hits the pillow.

-

Junmyeon’s shriek is enough to send Kris running up the stairs in the morning. Sehun’s still nursing his hangover when he wakes up but the man is standing over him, a storm hanging over his head.

Sehun is so fucked.

“Yikes,” Kris says from the doorway, but there’s mirth lacing his voice. Some of the maids are gathered around him too, curiosity written all over their faces.

“What happened to you?” Junmyeon demands, and Sehun flinches at the volume of his voice. “Who did this? Was it someone at school?”

“Calm down,” Sehun grumbles. He sits up and blinks a couple times to let his eyes adjust to the bright light. When they see Sehun isn’t seriously hurt, the maids disperse and Kris shakes his head in cool amusement before heading back downstairs.

“What’s been happening to you these last couple months?” Junmyeon demands, and Sehun remembers Zitao’s suggestion. He needs a couple days off; an understatement. If he knew what Sehun had really been up to, he’d probably have a heart attack.

“I got into a fight, okay? It was stupid. Some guy was bothering my friend so I stuck up for him. It’s no big deal.” Technically it’s not a lie.

Ironically, the one time Sehun chooses to tell the truth, Junmyeon doesn’t believe him. Instead, he receives an anguished moan of “What do I tell your parents, they’re already worried sick about what you’ve been doing lately, what with your hair and now this.”

Sehun assesses him with cool eyes and reaches out to grab Junmyeon’s wrist, which shuts him up momentarily. “Here’s what you’re going to do,” he says calmly, and the authoritative tone in his voice surprises even himself, “You’re definitely not telling my parents. If they ask why I’m not coming downstairs for dinner, you either say I’m studying or I’m sick. I promise it was an accident, so just let it slide for once.”

Taken aback, Junmyeon squints and asks slowly, “When did you become to conniving?”

Sehun just flashes a grin.

-

Sehun pays Kyungsoo a visit when the curiosity gets the better of him later that day. What Minseok had said earlier in the week had been bothering him. What is Jongin’s deep dark past that he never talks about?

Kyungsoo’s room is just as organized and neat as he’d expected, the books on his shelf alphabetized, the bedspread color-coordinated with the curtains and the carpet.

Once Sehun is seated on a comfortable armchair, he draws his feet up and glances up at the older boy. He looks troubled somehow, like he knows exactly what Sehun is here for. “Jongin.” Sehun says, and Kyungsoo looks up, wide eyes startled.

“I told you,” Kyungsoo says after a second, “I’m not the one who should be telling you anything. This is Jongin’s story to tell.”

Frustration creeps up the back of Sehun’s throat and he leans forward in the chair. “Jongin isn’t talking to me right now. Tell me.” He’s tired of not knowing anything. From the first night he’d asked Lu Han at Chanyeol’s party to now, an anxious sort of interest had taken hold of him. Why does Jongin keep himself so closely guarded, why doesn’t he let anyone in?

Kyungsoo hesitates visibly. “I can’t, Sehun. All I can say is that he’s dealing with a lot and sometimes it makes him angry and helpless and he doesn’t know what to do.”

Sehun snaps. “Then tell me so I can help him, for fuck’s sake!”

Kyungsoo simply shakes his head and Sehun taps his fingers slowly along the armrest of the chair. “I guess we’re at a standstill then.” He says icily, and Kyungsoo blinks, slow and deliberate.

Finally, as if it takes too much effort to even speak, Kyungsoo relents, “If you’d like, I can tell him to come talk to you. I’m not the enemy here, Sehun.”

Bittersweet, Sehun laughs. “I wish I knew who was.”

Chapter Text

Zitao seems to find it hilarious that Sehun doesn’t know how much things cost. They’re at a convenience store near the tattoo shop, and when Sehun pulls out a handful of bills from his wallet to pay for his and Zitao’s instant ramen cups, the older boy’s eyes widen in surprise.

“If you’re going to pull out that much, why are we eating here? We could afford eating from the other side of town with that much,” he scoffs before pulling out his own wallet. “Put that away before I decide to rob you and make a run for it.”

Sehun snorts and pockets his wallet again, leans against the surprisingly clean counter and lets Zitao pay for the two cup ramens.

The tired looking cashier doesn’t spare them a second glance, probably wondering when the night shift is going to end so he can leave. Trailing behind Zitao to the counter in a corner of the store, he watches the older boy pour water into and shove both cups in the microwave. “You couldn’t rob me.”

No sooner than the words leave his mouth, Sehun finds his back pressed against the counter, Zitao’s long body crowding him in. “I’m taller than you,” he points out, somehow not bothered by the proximity. Sehun on the other hand has to breathe as shallowly as possible in order to keep his heartrate under control. Up close, Zitao’s eyes are endlessly black, pupil the same color as iris.

Sehun clears his throat loudly and obviously, pushes the older boy away, and turns towards the plastic fork dispenser. He doesn’t have to look in a mirror to know that his cheeks are flushed.

Cup ramen kind of tastes like cardboard but the spice packet makes it okay and as long as Sehun gulps it down fast, the steaming noodles taste fine. Unfortunately, this means he also burns the roof of his mouth trying to finish as quickly as possible.

He’s been spending most of the past couple weeks like this, hanging out with Zitao and Baekhyun between long study sessions in preparation for exams. Jongin doesn’t show up, and Sehun doesn’t want him to.

Sometimes, Sehun finds himself opening his phone and staring at Jongin’s contact name, the obnoxious amount of hearts he’d put in next to “Jonginnie,” and Sehun needs to convince himself not to press call.

Zitao is as carefree as the wind, easygoing in everything he does, kind and surprisingly giggly, and every time he hangs out with Sehun, he feels himself get one step further from Jongin, and finds that he likes that.

When Zitao tugs him into his apartment after their convenience store rendezvous and presses Sehun against the door, kisses him hard on the mouth, he likes that too.

It’s strange, Sehun thinks as Zitao makes coffee, how he feels comfortable with Zitao after such a short time when he and Jongin had known each other for so much longer and still had an air of uneasiness permeating their conversations.

“You okay?” Zitao asks, and his soft voices breaks Sehun out of his reverie.

He frowns. “Y-yeah, fine.” After a second, he adds, “Just thinking.”

After possibly the world’s longest sigh, Zitao crosses his long legs and settles deeper into the battered couch. “If it’s what I imagine you’re thinking about, then I’ve got to say, you two must have had some serious shit going on for it to be like this.” He sounds half amused, voice tinkling like broken glass.

Sehun doesn’t know how he feels about that sharp tone, so he takes a sip of his coffee while he constructs a response. “I don’t know. I can’t stop thinking about him and I hate it, but hating him makes me think about him more.” He feels like he’s talking to a therapist or something, Zitao nodding along calmly and listening to his problems.

It’s a bit ridiculous, but so is his life right now.

“Sehun,” Zitao murmurs softly, “I think you care about him and he cares about you. If you really can’t stop thinking about him, it means something.”

Squeezing his lips together, Sehun shrugs, shoulders tight. “Who knows?”

“Sehun,” Zitao says, slightly frustrated, emphasis on the second syllable of his name, “I know, and I’m telling you to think about giving Jongin another chance.”

Sehun turns fully towards Zitao, thinks about how much easier things could have been in another universe, where Sehun would stumble into Zitao’s tattoo shop by accident, meet him before he’d ever meet Jongin, and how maybe this little homey apartment could be not just his friend’s. Zitao is different than Jongin, all calm and smooth and reassuring, but Sehun wonders for a second if it’s too comfortable. There’s no spark here. When Zitao kisses him, it’s warm and it’s nice, but it’s not dizzying like with Jongin.

“I wish I didn’t care about him.”

Zitao smiles gently, but a tinge of an emotion Sehun doesn’t have a name for bleeds into it.

-

It’s strange how quickly Sehun’s whole world can shift its axis. One second he’s studying in his room, the next, Jongin is letting himself into the room without even asking, and it’s like the breath’s been knocked out of him, every muscle in his body on guard, his entire focus on Jongin’s slight frame.

He hasn’t seen the older boy in nearly three weeks now, and he’d almost forgotten the way Jongin’s presence demands attention, how he takes up all the air in the room and in Sehun’s lungs.

“Leave.” He says calmly. The pain in his jaw had faded to a constant dull ache over the course of the time, and he sees the way Jongin’s eyes widen at the sight of the ugly yellowed bruise that’s healing along his face.

“Kyungsoo told me you went to his house a while back. I’m just here because I wanted to see if you were okay.” After a second of awkwardly standing in the center of Sehun’s floor, he adds, “And to apologize for what I said a while ago.”

Sehun barks out a laugh. “Apologize for what? I’m the one who was being ignorant, remember?” His voice has a hard edge to it that it’s never had before. Somewhere along the way, he’d lost what had made him soft, and he doesn’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. With fatigue thickening in his voice, “Jongin, I think we burned out before we ever started.”

“Don’t say that,” Jongin’s remorse shines in his eyes but Sehun looks away. “We can still work it out. I want to work it out.” He looks achingly beautiful like this, desperate and golden and out of reach. Sehun’s tired of trying to touch the sun, only to get burned every time.

“I’m tired of this.” He whispers finally. “I’m so tired. You don’t want me, you want a good time, and I can’t give that to you anymore.”

Jongin stalks across the room with fluidity in his step until he’s right in front of Sehun. “I don’t want a good time. I care about you.” The words are spit out, more venom than anything else.

Sehun narrows his eyes, irises sparking with a challenge. “You don’t care.” He says finally, “I’m sick of this shit, just get out of my room.” He’s tired, limbs weighing down and eyes blurry with exhaustion. It’s the truth, he realizes suddenly. He’s tired of Jongin coming and going like it’s nothing, of treating Sehun like nothing.

Sehun feels like he’s nothing.

“Please,” Jongin pleads with his honey voice, his molten gold eyes, the fucking quintessential image of guilt, “Just hear me out, please Sehun.” He gently curls his hand around the side of Sehun’s face that isn’t fucked up, and Sehun feels his skin tingle, a phantom sensation mirroring the dull pain on the left side of his face, only here it’s more like sparks going off down the line of his jaw and up his cheek than aching.

And then Jongin is leaning forward, eyes glimmering like a predatory animal’s in the dark, and their mouths are crashing together, frustrated and hateful and full of anger. Sehun feels the breath being pulled out of him in shock, Jongin’s mouth warm and so soft and so hard at the same time, feels himself being pushed backwards until the edge of the desk is digging into his back and Jongin is pinning him against it. Immobile, he lets Jongin’s mouth drag hot, wet lines all over his mouth and down his neck.

“I want you,” Jongin groans out against the corner of Sehun’s mouth, “Want you for real this time.” Then he’s scrabbling for his clothes and pulling them off as quickly as possible like he doesn’t want to stop kissing Sehun for a second. “Let me show you that I care.”

They make it to the bed somehow, tripping and stumbling and unwilling to let go of each other, and Sehun puts all his frustration behind the way his lips twist. The reading glasses at the end of his nose get torn off his face and wind up on the floor along with his shirt, and then Jongin’s tracing a path down his long torso with his mouth that makes Sehun shudder and arch up.

“Go on then,” Sehun snarls when the elder boy hesitates, fingers poised over the waistband of his pants, “Use me up and leave again.”

“Never,” Jongin promises, “I never wanted to use you.” He looks so sincere that Sehun almost believes him.

But Sehun isn’t so naïve anymore.

He pushes his pants down himself, strips down naked and exposed and spreads his legs for Jongin, challenge in his gaze. “Do it.” He demands.

Jongin hesitates, then shakes his head as if to clear it. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out something that looks like a string of condom packets. “Lube.” He confirms when Sehun raises an eyebrow. “And condoms.”

To Sehun’s surprise, Jongin slides forward onto all fours after ripping a packet open, slicking his fingers up with the gel. “What are you doing?” he asks sharply.

Jongin smiles crookedly. “You don’t think I’m going to make you bottom your first time, do you? Even I’m not that mean.”

Oh. Jongin is going to let him fuck him. Somehow, that thought hadn’t even occurred to Sehun, that he wouldn’t be the one on the bottom. It bothers Sehun for some reason, that Jongin isn’t living up to the selfish image he’d build of the older boy in the past couple weeks. He’d nearly forgotten how sweet he could be in those brief rare moments.

Jongin doesn’t waste time in stretching himself. He fingers himself open so Sehun can’t see, keeps their mouths pressed together and kisses him hard, and goes through three foil packets of lube before he sits back and pulls Sehun up with him.

“You’re not going to regret this,” Jongin says as he rolls a condom onto Sehun’s erection, eagerness shining in his eyes. “I’ll make it up to you somehow, I know I will.”

Sehun doesn’t expect anything. He bites back the sharp words on the tip of his tongue and decides to let things fall where they may.

Jongin straddles his lap, thick thighs nearly unbearably hot against Sehun’s waist, and before Sehun can open his mouth, ask what the fuck Jongin thinks he’s doing, Jongin sinks down, just like that, stretched out on Sehun’s cock.

Instead of whatever snappy comment that had been on the tip of his tongue, Sehun gasps, overwhelming heat engulfing him as Jongin grits his teeth and drops his hips lower.

Jongin, the invulnerable Jongin, Jongin the Enigma, Jongin the Unconquerable, is falling to pieces right in front of him, tears leaking out of the corners of his eyes like molten silver, lips bruised like blood. He’s quaking all over, and Sehun thinks again that he’s more like a natural disaster than a human being. Hurricane Jongin, Earthquake Jongin; comes and sweeps you off your feet and changes your life forever.

This Jongin though, the one sitting on his dick right now, is shaking like a leaf in autumn, desperately trying to keep it together but failing.

Sehun cups his cheek before he can convince himself not to and pulls him down into a kiss, tastes his salty tears on his tongue, hears Jongin shudder and mutter, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” over and over into his mouth.

“You’re crying,” Sehun realizes breathlessly, “You’re actually crying.” For a second, the epiphany is enough to distract him from the velvety heat of Jongin around him.

“Of course I am, you idiot,” Jongin says shakily, “I like you too fucking much and it’s so fucking scary and now I’m on your dick and I’m crying.” He’s somewhere between laughing and sobbing, and Sehun doesn’t quite know what to say.

“God,” Jongin says suddenly, “This is weird, isn’t it? I was trying to be sexy but I wound up looking like a mess. I think I just fucked up your first time.”

“You didn’t.” he replies automatically, and Jongin laughs harshly.

“You don’t have to be nice to me.”

Sehun shakes his head. “I mean it.” He feels closer than ever to Jongin now, both mentally and physically, and it’s exhilarating. Jongin’s never been so vulnerable to him before, and Sehun feels like he’s being let in on some kind of secret, like he’d seeing something that had always been previously prohibited.

Jongin’s thighs flex. “I’m glad,” he decides, and leans in to kiss Sehun, all slow wet tongue, the kind of kiss that Sehun knows would make even Baekhyun wrinkle his nose. When Jongin pulls away, he rocks his hips carefully, and Sehun has to squeeze his lips together hard to keep in the noise that lies on the tip of his tongue, high pitched and embarrassing.

“I’ve, fuck, I’ve dreamt of this, I’ve been wondering how you’d feel for so long,” Jongin babbles, “I thought you might cry at first, just because you’re not used to it, and then I wondered if you’d try to take control, if you could do it.”

Sehun tries to breathe evenly around the unbearable heat of Jongin around him, but he’s quivering all over from the effort it takes to keep his composure. “You don’t have to worry about finishing too fast,” Jongin assures quietly between short breaths, “It’s your first time, it’s fine.”

Sehun’s hips jerk helplessly, and he scrabbles to hold onto anything, Jongin’s hips, his arms. It feels like all the breath is rushing out of him at once, his entire being giving way to the way Jongin rocks their hips together, steady where Sehun is shaking.

Jongin gasps then, moaning lowly when he sinks down just right, then he’s pushing Sehun down flat onto his back. He flashes Sehun a sharp grin, the stuff of sin, and braces his hot palms on Sehun’s chest. Then he’s fucking bouncing on Sehun’s lap, and everything’s too much, too hottightslick for Sehun to handle, and Sehun’s mind slips away all at once.

Sehun’s orgasm hits him with the force of a fucking freight train, knocking the breath out of him and making his back arch off the bed. Jongin is crooning quiet reassuring words, his fingers smoothing down Sehun’s chest. His hips are grinding down without rhythm, his thighs tightening around Sehun’s waist.

Jongin doesn’t let up once, not even when Sehun’s whining, overstimulated. He reaches a hand down and curls his fingers around his own straining cock, jerks himself off quickly, pressing into the tight circle of his fist only a couple times before he’s groaning, hips jerking down onto Sehun’s sensitive cock, then up into his own hand, and coming, doubling over and gasping for breath. His cock spurts onto Sehun’s belly, warm streaks of milky come splattering against his pale skin, and Jongin slides off him.

They’re both breathily heavily, Sehun’s head cloudy, not processing exactly what had just happened.

“Different than what you’d expected, right?” Jongin murmurs between uneven intakes of air. “Not like romance novels.”

Sehun turns his head and looks at Jongin, at his faraway eyes and swollen lips, and whispers back, “Not like romance novels, but not bad.”

-

Afterwards, Sehun hops in the shower and Jongin follows him in, pressing warm wet kisses to his collarbone and looking at him with dark, intense eyes.

Under the spray of hot water, Jongin sinks to his knees and sucks Sehun into his mouth, blows him until the younger is nearly crying, then rises up and kisses him, his mouth still bitter from Sehun’s come.

When they manage to make it back into the bed, under the covers this time, Jongin picks up his clothes from where they’re strewn on the floor, and for one terrifying second, Sehun thinks he’s going to leave, going to leave him again, and everything will have been for nothing.

But then Jongin neatly folds his clothes up and crawls back into the bed and Sehun lets out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. He holds on tighter to Jongin under the blanket than he really needs to, but he doesn’t want the older boy slipping out of his grasp just yet.

Jongin takes a slow measured breath after a minute and looks up at him slowly. It strikes Sehun at once how sober he looks for once, eyes focused and serious. It makes Sehun automatically sit up straighter under Jongin's calculating gaze. “I need to tell you something,” he says finally, the words coming strange and fumbled. Sehun’s never seen Jongin this nervous before.

“Did that hurt?” Sehun asks immediately because it’s the first thing he can think of that would be wrong. God, if he hurt Jongin by accident, if they hadn’t used enough lube…

“No! No it didn’t, I’m fine.” Jongin assures quickly. “It’s something else. I don’t know how—I need to tell you something serious and I don’t know how to do it.”

Sehun sits up slowly and crosses his legs. “What is it?”

Jongin rises into sitting position as well, but he winces a little when he moves too quickly. “I live with my mom.”

Sehun waits for him to go on, but he doesn’t. Jongin is staring at the sheets blankly, and Sehun can almost see him grasping for the words in his head. “And…?” Sehun coaxes.

“And she works three jobs.” Jongin murmurs. “She works too hard and we still don’t make nearly enough. She got sick last year and I had to drop out to take care of her and she’s still paying back the bill. She's in and out of the hospital all the time.”

Sehun blinks. “Jongin, how does this have anything to do with me?”

“I’m explaining that!” He snaps irritably. “She’s working until she’s sick every week and there are still debts piled up she’s trying to pay off and I don’t know what to do and sometimes I guess I took it out on you by accident so I’m sorry, okay?” It all comes out in one breath, like Jongin wants to speak as quickly as possible, and when he’s done he slumps back down onto the bed. “I’m sorry.” He repeats firmly.

His mother… Sehun hadn’t given much thought to Jongin’s life at all, not his family or his home. The anxiousness in Jongin’s eyes, his sudden disappearing acts, him never staying for too long; it all somehow makes sense. Sehun’s never once had to think about being in debt.

Sehun lays down as well. The ceiling is the same one he’s grown up staring at, the same blank off-white, but the familiar room feels different now. Everything feels different after what he and Jongin had done. “Do you think meeting you changed my life for the better?” He asks finally, because he has nothing else to say.

Jongin sucks in a quick breath. “I don’t know.” He answers honestly.

“I don’t know either,” Sehun muses, “I try to get out but I keep getting pulled back in. Sometimes I wonder if I want to get pulled in. As much as it hurts at times, I can’t stop thinking about you.”

Jongin’s relief is evident on his face. “I can’t stop thinking about you either.” He admits. “And that’s never happened to me before. I’m scared that I like you too much. I don’t know what’s going to happen and I’m scared.”

Sehun bites his lip. “We can keep going and figure it out together?” He suggests softly.

Even in the dark, Jongin’s answering smile is bright, and the careful kiss he places on Sehun’s lips is sweet.

For the first time in a while, Sehun smiles with sincerity, and even if it’s not forgiveness yet, they’re getting there.

-

The next day, Jongin invites Sehun over for the first time.

Jongin’s mother is tiny, her wrists boney when she opens the door to let them in. She’s the exact opposite of Sehun’s mother’s business suits and stylishly cut and dyed hair. Her tired face lights up when she spots Sehun, and with a distant pang in his ribcage, Sehun realizes exactly where Jongin’s brilliant smile comes from.

He begins to bow low, but the surprisingly strong woman is pulling him into a hug that smells like cinnamon and autumn leaves like he’s an old friend. Sehun swallows his surprise and lets her hug him, long and tight.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to meet you,” she says, eyes twinkling with the same supernovas in Jongin’s, and they look so similar when they smile that that Sehun has to blink, taken aback.

Their apartment is filled with miscellaneous trinkets and baubles, like he’s been bringing home those little glass sculptures Minseok keeps in the front of the store. Where Sehun’s home is crisp edges and spacious rooms, Jongin’s is well lived in and warm.

His mother, who has some sort of work uniform on, leaves after telling Sehun to make himself comfortable and a peck to Jongin’s cheek. “Her third job,” Jongin explains after she leaves, “She’s a waitress at this diner.”

Sehun follows him into his room and wonders how exactly he had never realized how different the worlds they came from really are. Jongin’s whole bedroom is roughly the size of Sehun’s bathroom, filled up with a bed wide enough for one and a battered desk. Piled up on the surface are books, and when Sehun takes a closer look, he has to raise his eyebrows in surprise. “Vonnegut? Orwell?” The same translated books Sehun’s teachers have been pushing his class to read over the years.

Jongin shoots him at odd look. “Just because I like getting high and wearing leather doesn’t mean I can’t be an intellectual.”

Sehun has a sudden realization. This is how Jongin had grown up, sleeping in that small bed with worn bedposts, expanding his mind through books, having the same self-discoveries he’d helped Sehun find by himself in this claustrophobic room.

Sehun gingerly sits down on the bed next to him. “When do you have time to read those when you’re always running around the streets in the middle of the night?”

Jongin rolls his eyes. “I’m not always accidentally dropping into cute rich boys’ houses.” He smiles, and Sehun had forgotten the way that smile lights his face up, had forgotten how it makes him feel warm down to his fingertips. “But I have to admit, I’m glad I did, just that once.”

Sehun smiles stupidly at that, unable to help it.

“I never really invite people over.” Jongin says suddenly, and it takes Sehun a minute to realize the odd pink flush staining his cheeks indicates that he’s embarrassed. “I think Kyungsoo’s been over like, once.”

That tugs on Sehun’s heartstrings. This is the most private side of Jongin, the side that he doesn’t show to just anybody. No one’s ever been able to make Sehun feel as special as Jongin has, even through the simplest things, like inviting him over.

“Sehun,” Jongin says, voice low but firm, “I really like you.”

“I really like you too.” Sehun breathes out, and it’s not a dream this time. Jongin’s arms around his shoulders feel solid, real, and in reach.

Chapter Text

Sehun no longer feels like he’s lurking when he walks the streets at night. It’s comfortable, the warm summery breeze caressing his bare arms as he makes his way down familiar paths, watching the houses get smaller and the lights turn fluorescent.

Inside the shop, past the shelves of blown glass trinkets, Baekhyun sits cross legged on the counter looking like an angel. His face lights up when he spots Sehun and he shouts, much too loud for the dark slow atmosphere of the shop, “Chanyeol, I told you he’d be fine!”

Chanyeol comes loping out the door to the back a second later, shit eating grin already on his face. “I heard you and Jongin finally did the nasty.” He says in a poor attempt at a serious voice.

Sehun feels his face warm up immediately, surprise taking hold. “How-“ he begins to ask, but Chanyeol’s already shaking his head to silence him.

“Word travels around fast,” he says, then smiles slyly, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m thinking it was the wildest makeup sex that has possibly ever been had.”

“You’re disgusting,” Baekhyun complains and hits him on the arm lightly, but his eyes are fond.

“I say we celebrate,” A new voice chimes in. Zitao is leaning against the doorway into the back of the store, lips curled into a tiny knowing smile. It makes Sehun oddly guilty even though it had been Zitao who made it clear that they were never going to be anything more than just friends.

“Celebrate what?” Someone else asks, and Sehun realizes then and there that his personal life is never going to be personal again. Lu Han peeks over Zitao’s shoulder and asks again from behind a cloud of smoke. “What are we celebrating? Did Jongin finally get his head out of his ass?”

“Does everyone know?” Sehun sighs, but something inside him flutters happily.

“Yes,” Minseok chimes in as he passes, not stopping to spare them a glance on his walk towards the door. “Be back in an hour.”

Lu Han blows a kiss that Minseok pretends to dodge and with the soft chime of the bell above the door, he’s gone.

“Get used to everyone knowing everything,” Baekhyun says gleefully, his eyes curving as he grins.

Lu Han winks and somehow manages to make it look creepy. “I like to stay informed,” he says.

Chanyeol is practically bouncing on the balls of his feet by now, all restless energy and enthusiasm. “Tao’s right, we should celebrate. Let’s go get something to eat and talk about our feelings or some shit.”

Something devious creeps into Baekhyun’s smile. “Well, Minseok-hyung’s going to be gone for the next hour. We could all easily go out and be back before he is.”

“Who else is here?” Sehun asks.

Lu Han smiles slyly. “Yifan was here earlier, but he left. I think it’s just Yixing in the back, but I’m sure Jongdae is creeping around here somewhere.”

Sehun hopes his sigh of relief at the mention of Kris’s leaving isn’t too obvious, but the thought of celebrating him having sex with Kris present is too appalling for him to even imagine.

Before Sehun can object to this twisted celebration as a whole, Chanyeol has already disappeared to round up Yixing and Jongdae and Baekhyun is shrugging a jacket on over his shirt. It fits too wide over the shoulders and Sehun realizes it’s Chanyeol’s. He wonders briefly how Jongin’s worn leather jacket would look on him, then dismisses the idea immediately because his cheeks are beginning to heat up.

“Call up your boyfriend and see if he’s down for getting something to eat,” Chanyeol appears suddenly next to his ear, pulling Sehun out of his thoughts.

“He’s not my boyfriend.” Sehun automatically corrects, then stops. Is Jongin his boyfriend?

Chanyeol raises an eyebrow and holds up his phone. “Then can you please tell me who Jongin was talking about when he texted me in the middle of the night and told me how hot his boyfriend was.”

Sehun peers at the screen in confusion and finds his own face. His eyes are shut in the picture—he’d been exhausted the previous night and had stayed up talking to Jongin for less than an hour before waving him off and passing out. Jongin had been sat at the window sill and Sehun hadn’t bothered asking if he were going to leave. He must have taken the picture after Sehun had already fallen asleep.

Sehun’s cheeks burn, half in embarrassment and half in pride. “He’s sort of my boyfriend.” He mutters finally.

“Well, call your sort of boyfriend and tell him to get his ass down here,” Baekhyun interrupts, popping up next to Chanyeol’s arm. “Did you ask Jongdae?” The latter sentence is directed at Chanyeol, who shrugs and waves a hand towards the back hallway.

“I think they’re exchanging blowies in the bathroom again, I knocked and yelled that we’re going out but they’re welcome to join us if they want to later.” Chanyeol says it like this is something they do all the time, and from what Sehun has been able to gather, they do.

Sehun shuffles his phone around from palm to palm for a while before dialing Jongin—he’s kind of nervous calling the older boy with so many people in front of him, even if they are boyfriends. Sort of.

Jongin doesn’t pick up the first time he calls, and after Baekhyun urges him to try again, Sehun dials him back. The second time, he picks up the phone slightly out of breath. “Sehun?” he says by way of greeting.

There’s an odd fluttery feeling in Sehun’s stomach, equal parts nervousness and excitement. His name sounds nice in Jongin’s voice. “Do you want to come down to Wonderland? We’re going out to eat.”

Jongin doesn’t respond for a second and Sehun hears the background noise of wherever he is—muted voices and the ambience of a large amount of people. “Where are you?” he asks finally, suspicion rising slowly in him.

“Shit,” Jongin murmurs, “Sehun, I can’t talk right now, I’m at the hospital, call me back later.”

“Wait, are you okay?” Sehun tries to ask, but the line’s already dead.

He holds the phone to his ear for several more minutes and listens to the dial tone until Chanyeol spots him and pokes his arm playfully. “What, prince charming can’t come get his princess?” Upon seeing the look on Sehun’s face, his brilliant smile begins to die away. “What?” he asks, suddenly weary. He looks the same as when he and Baekhyun had fought after that awful party.

Sehun takes a deep breath. “He said… he said he’s in the hospital.”

-

Baekhyun is restless the entire drive to the hospital, bouncing in the passenger seat of Chanyeol’s car, fiddling with the A/C, tapping his fingernails against the dashboard until Zitao snaps “Stop that, before I break your arm.”

Ultimately, they’d decided on the four of them; Chanyeol, Baekhyun, Zitao, and Sehun, to visit the hospital while the others waited for news back at the shop. As Sehun had left the shop, he’d seen Lu Han trying to reach Minseok on the phone.

“Calm down,” Chanyeol says, but there’s a tenseness underlying his voice. “Both of you,” he adds when Zitao sends a petulant look at him through the rearview mirror. “He may not even be hurt. It could be for his mother or something.”

Sehun feels sick to his stomach. He hasn’t said a word since announcing Jongin’s hospital visit. A part of him wonders which would be worse for Jongin’s mental health—if he was the one injured or his mother. Jongin’s strong in matters concerning himself; he’d taken punches and smiled away the pain, grinned when Sehun had to pull splinters out of his palms after particularly inebriated nights of climbing up his tree, but the amount of vulnerability he’d exhibited talking about his mother had been like nothing Sehun had ever seen on his face before.

“Sehun, stop thinking so loudly. You’re giving me a headache.” Chanyeol lightly says, but his knuckles are white from how hard he’s gripping the steering wheel. “He’s tough, he’ll be fine.”

Sehun nods but doesn’t say that it’s not Jongin’s physicality he’s worried about.

He doesn’t ask why Chanyeol knows where the closest hospital to Jongin’s house is by memory or how he knows exactly where to ask for directions from a receptionist. He recites off Jongin and his mother’s names and gets directed to a room down the hall quickly.

Sehun’s heart feels like it’s going to burst out of his chest when they stumble into the waiting room and spot Jongin sitting by himself in one of the plastic chairs, head in his hands.

“Shit,” Chanyeol breathes behind him, but Sehun’s already crossing the room. Jongin’s fine. He doesn’t know whether to be relieved or twice as scared.

“Guys,” Jongin looks up and immediately sobs, and Sehun flinches at how wrecked his voice is. “She’s going to be okay, it’s okay.”

Sehun reaches him then, and Jongin stands up to meet him. Sehun’s never been hugged so tightly before, like his ribs are being crushed. “She’s going to be okay,” he repeats into Sehun’s shoulder, but Sehun thinks it’s more for himself than any of them.

When Jongin lets go, Sehun gets a look at his face. There are bruises under his eyes from exhaustion, but in his raw teary eyes, Sehun sees genuine relief.

Zitao grabs one of his hands and pulls him back into a chair. Sehun sits down on his other side and Jongin sobs again, this time half choking over a laugh. “You guys all came to see my mom?”

Chanyeol sends him an easy smile and ducks his head. “Of course. We’re family.”

Baekhyun’s eyes are sharp as daggers as he looks around the room, but they soften when they get to Jongin. “Always,” he says simply.

“She passed out last night. Low blood pressure.” Jongin spits out, “Last time they said it was too high. They won’t make up their minds.”

“Hey,” Chanyeol says softly, calmingly. He sounds like he’s done this before. “Let’s just wait for the doctor before we make a scene, okay?”

So, they spend their time pacing and talking in hushed, terse voices. Jongin’s eyes get progressively more tired, but when Chanyeol suggests once that he take a nap, he snaps at the taller boy. Chanyeol backs off after that, sitting in one of the small plastic chairs with his long legs crossed neatly under the seat.

Baekhyun, on the other hand, looks ready to bounce off the walls. When Sehun asks, he blinks rapidly and says, “Hospitals make me nervous. Too much time in here for my mom when I was younger.”

Zitao grabs his hand and squeezes firmly. “Being twitchy isn’t going to make his mom’s situation any better,” he reminds, “It’ll just work you up for no reason.”

Zitao’s been the quietest since they got in. Sehun knows how childish he can be at times, but also how mature. He’s been alternating between the three of them, Sehun and Baekhyun and Jongin, offering his hands and shoulders for them to hold onto and to rest on.

Finally, when the doctor says Jongin’s name, he springs out of his seat with a nervous buzzing energy. “Is she okay?” he asks immediately, like he hadn’t been chanting ‘she’s okay, she’s okay, she’s okay’ for the past hour.

The doctor nods reassuringly. “She’ll be discharged right after we finish up a test.”

Jongin’s shoulders slump with visible relief and Baekhyun says under his breath, “Shit,” his voice disbelieving.

“She’s fine,” Sehun whispers, and Jongin takes his hand, squeezes it tightly.

-

Jongin’s mother looks worse for wear, but she still manages to give them all an exhausted smile.

“All you handsome boys came to see me?” She laughs in a rickety fragile way. Jongin’s holding onto her arm as she walks slowly, taking one step at a time.

“Of course, we did!” Baekhyun declares with a wide grin, “Can’t let Jongin make a nervous wreck out of himself yet.”

As they make small talk, Chanyeol turns and glances at Sehun.

He clamps a hand down on Sehun’s shoulder. “I’ll take them home in my car. Can you and Tao catch a ride somehow?”

Sehun squeezes his lips shut to keep from saying how badly he wants to go with Jongin. Instead, he trusts in Chanyeol and nods sharply.

He watches Baekhyun lead Jongin to Chanyeol’s car, Chanyeol and Jongin’s mother following after them. She’s weak on her feet but resilient, trying her best to keep pace with the teenage boys around her.

Then, Sehun takes out his phone and dials a familiar number.

-

Kris is less than impressed when he pulls up in front of the hospital. “Please tell me you’re not seriously injured.” He says when he spots Sehun waiting. Zitao chooses that moment to return from having a smoke and Kris’ eyes widen. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Zitao’s eyes narrow, mouth curling into a snarl. Sehun’s never seen him angry like this before—he’s always given Sehun the vibe of a house cat, but now he seems more like a panther than anything else.

“Shut up,” Zitao says viciously, “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.” He jerks his chin towards Sehun.

“How…” Sehun trails off, unsure that he wants to know.

“We used to work together.” Zitao says shortly. “Personality clash.”

Sehun sighs. “Of course you did.”

-

Outside the tattoo shop, Zitao pauses before he opens the car door. “Can I talk to you?” he says to Sehun.

Kris raises an eyebrow in the rearview but doesn’t say anything.

Inside the shop, Zitao always seems to breathe much easier. He crosses his arms in front of his chest and stares Sehun down until the latter feels awkward.

“Thanks for everything.” He blurts out. “At the hospital. You could’ve stayed in Wonderland, but you came with us.”

Zitao nods tightly. “Of course. Family.”

The same thing Chanyeol had said. Sehun knows they’re tight knit, but he has a newfound appreciation for just how familial they all are.

“Do you know why I asked you to come in?” Zitao asks eventually. His voice softens, the musical quality of it slightly more distinct. He’s beautiful and in his element like this, unmarked and spotless against the dark ink of the tattoo designs lining the walls. Unblemished. So perfect that it makes Sehun’s head hurt.

“You’re…” Sehun remembers the sad smile Zitao had given him, the advice said half wistfully, and realizes it with a jolt, “You like me.”

Zitao’s mouth curls into its feline smile. “I’m letting you go,” he corrects quietly, “In this life, you were a possibility. Maybe in another life we’d have made it. Maybe if I’d met you before Jongin.”

Sehun’s mouth twists wryly. “Maybe.”

Zitao cocks his head. “Next life.”

Sehun curls his hand into a fist. “You’ll have to be quicker than him.” Zitao speaks in metaphors and he acts like a child but there’s something about him. That something isn’t Jongin though, and Sehun knows when he thinks about Jongin’s russet tan and wide smile and brash laugh that he’s made the right choice.

Zitao’s smile is as sharp as a dagger. “It’s a good thing I’m fast.”

-

“Zitao is…interesting, isn’t he?” Kris asks on the way home.

Sehun turns his head from where it’s resting on the cool window glass. “He’s interesting.” He agrees quietly.

When he doesn’t continue, Kris tries again. “Junmyeon’s been worried sick about you. Always leaving in the middle of the night, always coming home late.”

Sehun hums tiredly. “Didn’t think he noticed.”

Kris tosses a hand in the air and Sehun watches his rings move through the air in the dying sunlight. The afternoon had been spent entirely in the hospital. “He notices more than you think.” Kris says, and Sehun shrugs.

“So what?” he says, “He wouldn’t tell my parents.”

Kris laughs out loud. “You’re really different from before, you know that?”

Sehun knows. “I grew up,” he says, and realizes that he did.

-

Sehun decides to visit Jongin’s house the next day. Jongin’s mother opens the door with a tired smile and gives him a long hug that makes Sehun sad for some reason.

Jongin’s up in his room writing in a journal. “It’s a secret,” he says with a smile when Sehun asks what he’s writing.

Sehun slips into his bed with him and Jongin shoves over, gives him part of the warm blanket.

“I’m glad you’re okay, and that your mom’s okay.” Sehun says finally. “I was so scared.”

Jongin laughs, a sharp barking sound. “Don’t be.” He says softly, “Hey, seriously.” Sehun’s still frowning so Jongin takes his face in his hands and traces a thumb over Sehun’s full lower lip. “Baby, it’s just life. Happens all the time.”

Sehun flushes. “Can life stop being such a dick to you?”

Jongin laughs again, that same sharp broken glass noise. “Everyone has their shit to deal with,” he says, thumb absently rubbing over Sehun’s lip. “Mine just happens to be a frail mom who works three jobs.”

“Why don’t-“

“I do.” Jongin says, “Everyday. That’s why I don’t go to school anymore. You’re looking at that weird kid who restocks books in the library every day.”

Sehun breathes out a soft laugh. “You’re a librarian?”

Jongin hums an affirmation and leans in, kisses him in a slow sweet way that makes Sehun melt. “The one and only.”

“One and lonely,” Sehun murmurs. He’d heard the phrase somewhere, some long ago song on the radio, or in the frayed yellowed pages of an ancient book.

“Not anymore.” Jongin breathes. Everything feels soft and muted, Jongin’s warm hands curled around his cheeks, their shared body heat ensconcing them. The blanket’s heavy and warm around them, and Sehun feels safe.

“Never again,” Sehun says.

“I’m scared.” Jongin says abruptly. “I’m too into you and my mom’s getting worse and she doesn’t rest enough and she’s been in and out of the hospital so much recently and it’s making me worried and scared and I have no idea what I’m doing.”

At first, Sehun takes a second to process Jongin’s words. He looks dead serious, eyes shining with trepidation. “Hey,” Sehun says, “You can’t help that, don’t blame yourself. It’s circumstance, not you.” When Jongin doesn’t look at him, Sehun repeats his name firmly. “Don’t, don’t act like it’s your fault.”

“If she didn’t feel so obligated to provide for me,” Jongin begins, but Sehun’s already shaking his head.

“Look at me, look at me, you’re going to be okay. You mom’s going to be okay. She’s stronger than you think.” Of course, Sehun has no way of actually knowing this, but Jongin’s mom seems wise beyond her years and tough like old leather. Sehun puts his faith in her.

Jongin sighs. “You’re right,” he admits hesitantly, “always worrying about this shit isn’t going to change it.”

Then, Jongin gives him one of those achingly beautiful smiles, the ones that scream bad ideas and good times. “What do you say we do something fun?”

-

In retrospect, agreeing to Jongin’s ideas before knowing what they pertain to is always a poor choice, but then again, Sehun’s life since meeting Jongin has been a series of poor choices, and they always somehow seem to end up with good results.

A tattoo though. A tattoo is painful and real and permanent.

“Is it going to hurt?” Sehun asks again. His lower lip tastes like blood because of how often he’s been worrying at it, and Jongin strokes a rough thumb over his mouth, coaxing his full lip out from between his teeth.

Jongin clicks his tongue absently as he turns his attention back to the magazine on his lap. “I told you, it doesn’t. It’ll just pinch a little.” To demonstrate, he digs his nails into the back of Sehun’s hand lightly. “Chanyeol has one on his back if you ever happen to catch him shirtless.”

Sehun highly doubts he will, but he nods anyways. Trusting people with needles is something he’s not sure he can do, but putting his faith in Jongin is nothing new, and he knows Zitao is good at what he does. He tries to put all images of blood and ink and infections out of his mind as he settles further into the plush seat of the waiting room. He’s been to Zitao’s tattoo shop many times by now, but he’s never seen the actual process of tattooing.

“Sehun.” Jongin’s low voice jolts him out of his thoughts with a gasp. The older boy’s mouth curls amusedly before he’s reaching down again to slide his fingers into Sehun’s. “Your lip’s going to start bleeding if you don’t stop that.”

“Oh.” Sehun detaches his teeth from his lower lip again, instead tapping his worry out with his nails on the hard plastic of the armrest. Jongin sighs and leans forward to press a little lingering kiss to Sehun’s bleeding mouth, soft tongue flicking out to lap up the red droplet that had sprung to the surface as the skin had torn.

“You don’t have to do this if you’re this scared.” Jongin says, but that only makes the need to prove himself flare more in Sehun’s chest. The elder’s mouth twitches into a smirk when Sehun shakes his head and settles deeper into the chair.

A few seconds later, Zitao appears again, sharp eyes flicking between the two of them before a little amused grin settles on his mouth. “Couple tattoos?” he wonders out loud.

“No!” Sehun immediately corrects, cheeks flushing automatically, “No, it’s ah, it’s just one for me, actually.” Zitao smiles wider, but beckons him forward. The easy languidness in his movements make Sehun comfortable.

“I was kidding about the couple tattoo.” Zitao teases lightly, fingers working efficiently as he begins readying the tattooing materials. Sehun’s eyes widen at the formidable looking gun on the tray, but Zitao laughs again. “Sehun, don’t tell me you’re going to change your mind halfway through inking.” He says.

A streak of worry goes down his spine but he ignores it, swallows, and nods. “It’s fine.” He mumbles softly. “Let’s do it.” He rolls up the leg of his pants neatly.

“Lay down.” Zitao studies him with sharp, slightly amused eyes, fingers working automatically to reach for the black ink and load it into the gun. “Relax. It really won’t hurt as much as you think.”

Sehun lies back on the chair and Zitao lowers it so he’s lying down. His breath comes shakily at the oncoming intrusion. Suddenly Jongin sinks into the seat next to him, hand slipping into Sehun’s securely.

“Breathe.” He advises softly. Sehun frowns, eyebrows furrowing as he drops his head back and sucks his bottom lip back into his mouth.

Something cold comes in contact with his ankle, and Sehun flinches before realizing it’s the design. A bold black triangle with a line running horizontally through it. The alchemical sign for air.

“Is this okay? Would you like me to move it?” Zitao asks, studying his latex-gloved hand absently. He glances up at Sehun’s hand in Jongin’s, and if Sehun knew him any less, he’d miss the way his eyes narrow.

Sehun sits up and looks. It looks on center, and to his surprise, sort of pretty. “That’s fine.” He mumbles, wiggling his ankle a little.

Zitao’s mouth curls felinely and he murmurs something in Mandarin. “For luck.” He says at Sehun’s curious stare. Before Sehun can respond, he has the gun coming down on Sehun’s ankle.

“Fuck!” he hisses as a jolt of pain goes through his body. Tears sting at his eyes but Jongin is staring intently so he blinks them back automatically, nails digging in to Jongin’s palm to suppress the cry bubbling up his throat.

“That was the worst part.” Zitao smiles encouragingly, but he has a tattoo gun in his hand so Sehun’s not so sure if he’s so trusting right now.

Surprisingly, the time goes by fast as Sehun squeezes his eyes closed and focuses on breathing instead of how Zitao is systematically shoving a needle into him. Jongin plays absently with Sehun’s hand, pressing his lips every so often to the tips of his fingers.

“Done.” Zitao announces then, setting down the gun and wiping off the last of the blood. Sehun sits up gingerly.

There, on his ankle, sits the triangle, bold and dark. “Thank you.” Sehun murmurs, reaching out to touch it. Zitao immediately slaps away his hand and shoots him a disapproving look.

“Let me wrap it first. And don’t touch it for a while.” Zitao begins relaying information about healing tattoos and Sehun tries to listen and absorb, but honestly, he’s too distracted by the permanent design on his foot.

Fortunately, Jongin nods along and since he has a couple tattoos already, Sehun decides he doesn’t need to pay attention.

Zitao finishes putting the jelly-like substance on him, and then wraps his ankle in what feels like plastic wrap. “No direct exposure to sunlight anytime soon.” He finishes, then finally releases Sehun’s foot.

Sehun nods, although in truth he’d heard probably three words of the whole rant. Jongin says, “I know, man, you’ve told me all this before.” So Sehun feels a little reassured.

As Zitao leaves to get their receipt (Sehun fishes some bills out of his wallet, and judging by the way Zitao’s eyes grow as wide as saucers, it’s more than enough) and Jongin leans in close. “I told you an ankle tattoo would look good.”

Sehun lets Jongin kiss him on the street twice on their way to Wonderland afterwards, and when Jongin tugs him out of sight against an alley wall, Sehun’s heart beats rapidly and unevenly in his chest.

The fifteen minute walk from the tattoo parlor to the store ends up taking half an hour, but Sehun presses his tender lips together and thinks that it’s worth it.

-

That night, as Sehun and Jongin make their way back to Sehun’s house through the now-familiar shortcuts and back alleys, Jongin hums and asks airily, “Now what?”

“What do you mean?”

Jongin shrugs loosely, the picture of casualness. “I just mean now that you’ve had sex, drank, gotten high, gotten a tattoo, taken a punch to the face, and discovered who you want to be, what do you want to do?”

Sehun snorts. “Well when you say it like that, I guess there’s nothing left. I guess you’re stuck with this me forever.”

Jongin grins wide, his white teeth flashing unnervingly in the dark. “I’m cool with that.”

Then, it hits him. He hesitates for a second, but then says slowly, “Well, I haven’t done everything.”

Jongin’s eyes are inquisitive. “What else?” he asks.

He takes a deep breath. “I’ve never bottomed.”

Jongin’s answering smile is sharp as knives. “I can take care of that.”

-

Jongin’s careful this time, taking his time undressing Sehun like he wants to savor inch of skin.

Jongin looks down at him, slightly flushed and out of breath. “Are you sure?” he asks.

Sehun thinks about the Jongin he’d seen earlier, in the hospital. The way his tired eyes had lit up when the doctors had given him the good news, the way his fingers had felt around Sehun’s. Not strong for the first time since they’d met. Softer. More vulnerable. Jongin had shown Sehun the most vulnerable side of him, and Sehun wants to do the same.

There are a thousand things he could reply that would all be true. Maybe. I’m scared to death. But I want you. I’ve thought about this for months. I trust you with this. I’m glad you’re going to be my first time. I think I love you.

Sehun says, “I’m sure.” He means it.

-

They take it slow, like they have all the time in the world. Jongin stretches him out meticulously on long fingers until Sehun’s thighs are shaking, his cock twitching out beads of precome, and then drops his head to suck Sehun off. Afterwards, he’s so careful that it barely aches when his cock stretches Sehun open, and Sehun fists his hands in the sheets, thinks he sees stars, and comes crying Jongin’s name. Jongin follows in the next minute, hands clamped tight over Sehun’s hips so hard that they’ll leave bruises in the shape of his fingers.

It’s not perfect, but neither are they.

Chapter Text

Sehun hasn’t thought much about his future. Up till the past half year, he’d always assumed that he’d study in politics and follow in his father’s footsteps, but lately he’s been wondering about a lot of things, his future included. He doesn’t know how Jongin and their tentative new relationship will factor in.

Sehun doesn’t even really like politics, he discloses to Chanyeol late one night during a study session. Chanyeol gives him a sad-tinged smile and rubs at the circles under his eyes.

“You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.” He reminds gently. Sehun resists the urge to snort. He’s not a fucking genius like Park Chanyeol.

“And if I don’t know what I want to do?” He’s not sure that he just means university.

“The applications aren’t due until next month.”

“Yeah, and next month is in a week.”

Chanyeol drops his pencil and flops onto his back. “Would it help if I told you my plans?” He yawns, lips stretching wide, and Sehun wonders absently how he gets his teeth so white.

“Maybe.” Sehun doodles a little four leaf clover into the corner of his study book, then smudges the graphite with his thumb.

“Well…” Chanyeol closes his eyes. “I’m thinking I want an apartment in the city, close enough that we can come back here and visit everyone. I’m also thinking I’ll enroll in school there and take over my dad’s company eventually because I’m actually kind of into computer engineering—but not the socialite stuff. And Baekhyun wants to come with me.”

Chanyeol shrugs, as if it’s so simple. Sehun wishes it was like that for him. “Hey,” Chanyeol slits his eyes open and reaches an arm out, wraps it around Sehun’s wrist; a casual, friendly touch. “You’re almost done. You don’t have to think so hard about it. Do what you think is good. Sometimes taking a big leap winds up being worth it.”

Sehun thinks about the first night he’d been to Wonderland, the first time Jongin had kissed him in a dirty alleyway, the first time he’d realized truly how much this new mismatched family meant to him. Baekhyun and Chanyeol, Minseok, Lu Han, Jongdae, Yixing, Kyungsoo, Zitao, and Jongin, always Jongin.

He takes a deep breath. “You’re right.”

-

Sehun’s fingers shake on the warm porcelain mug in his hand. The kitchen is summer warmed and sunny, and Junmyeon’s sitting across the table from him with an undiscernible expression on his face.

“Well?” There’s a nest of angry hornets buzzing in his stomach. He’s braced for the worst, for Junmyeon to yell and cry and scream, for him to hunt Kris down and demand answers.

Instead, the housekeeper takes a long sip of tea from his mug, eyebrows scrunched contemplatively.

“It took you long enough to tell me.”

Sehun nearly chokes.

Explaining to Junmyeon had been no easy feat, but the older man simply raises an eyebrow and folds his arms on the table. “You didn’t think I was ignorant about all this, did you?” An incredulous look. “Sehun, I’ve been raising you for the past eight years. And I know Yifan like the back of my hand. Come on, kid, you have to do better than that to surprise me.”

“So… so when Tao called you that morning?!” Sehun feels like he’s been punched in the stomach.

Junmyeon simply smirks. “He’s practically my younger brother.”

Of course he is. Sehun shakes his head. “But my parents. What will they think when I tell them I’m not interested in all the heiresses they try to set me up with?”

He’d decided to use Junmyeon as a test subject of sorts. Someone to tell before his parents.

The real deal, though… Sehun’s not sure he’ll ever exactly be ready, but Chanyeol had assured him that at some point, he was going to have to just bear with the consequences and be blunt about it.

Junmyeon must see the anxiety in his face, because the older man reaches across the table and squeezes his wrist. “It’s going to be okay. They may not understand at first, and I’m sure it will take them time to adjust, but it’ll get better with time.”

“Thanks,” after a second, he adds, “For everything.”

Junmyeon’s eyes shine when he nods tightly.

-

Sehun has dinner with his parents for the first time in a very long while.

Normally, they sit on one end of the long table and for nearly the past half year, Sehun has been sitting as far away as possible on the other side of the table. Today, he sits down at the head of the table with his parents on either side. If either of them notice the difference, they don’t say anything.

For once, there are no guests dining with them. He can’t figure out if this comes as a relief or increases his anxiety. The large empty room makes the task before him somehow even more daunting.

“So,” Sehun says with fake enthusiasm. He has rehearsed different ways to go about it in the mirror to himself that afternoon. “I need to talk to both of you about something,”

His parents both look up, their sharp eyes inquisitive. There’s none of the warmth and open affection Jongin’s mother gives out.

Sehun’s heart plummets into his chest.

“I’m not going to abide by your rules anymore—not like this.”

Immediately, Sehun’s parents open their mouths simultaneously, but before the lecturing can begin, Sehun interrupts.

“I need to tell you guys something, and it’s serious. You’re probably not going to like it, but I hope that you can at least take the time to listen.”

Surprisingly, they both dutifully shut their mouths, though his father does it somewhat warily.

“Thank you,” Sehun says honestly, “I know you guys just want a comfortable, normal lifestyle, and that sometimes I’m not what you want in a son, but I need to get it out anyways.”

“Just say it.” Sehun’s mother’s voice has gone quiet like she knows exactly what’s about to come out of his mouth.

“I’m gay.”

He doesn’t stumble once.

His father stands from the big study chair and says, eyebrows furrowed, “No you aren’t. You have a girlfriend. That girl Junmyeon said you go out to dinner with. Soojung.”

Sehun stands out of his chair as well, and for the first time, is aware how much taller than both his parents he is. “I don’t have a girlfriend and I don’t want a girlfriend.”

“You’re confused,” his mother begins, but he cuts her off.

“It’s taken me a long time to understand this about myself and I know what I am.” There’s a sharp edge to his voice he’d never dared to take on in front of his parents before. “It’s been hard sometimes, and I just-“ his voice cracks, and he hates the tears that spring to his eyes. “I can’t change. This is who I am.”

Sehun’s father’s face is slowly but surely taking on a deep red color. His voice comes out dangerously controlled when he speaks, but Sehun can feel the tension even from across the desk. “If this is some sort of lie contrived to get back at us for something, it’s not going to work.”

“It’s not a lie. It’s the truth.” Sehun swallows the lump of nervousness in his throat and continues, “I’m—I’m not expecting you to drop everything and support me wholeheartedly, okay? I know it will take some getting used to, but I want to, I want to help you understand about me.”

Sehun’s mother has her fingers all twined together in front of her, slow tears streaming down her meticulously made up face. Sehun doesn’t think he’s ever seen her so disheveled.

“I love you guys.” Sehun says quietly, and his mother flinches the words are worse than any physical blow he could have dealt them. “And I want you guys to accept me for who I am. I don’t want to hide it and have it cause a rift between us if you found out by accident.”

And then, for an awful moment, there’s absolute silence.

“S-Sehunnie, we’re your parents. We may not understand it, but we would never hate you for something like this.” It’s his mother, with her mascara-black tear streaked cheeks who speaks up.

And then, his father, with his deep voice softened. “When did you realize?”

Perhaps somewhere inside, he’d always known it, but he’d been too supercilious to notice in the first place. He shrugs truthfully. “I just knew.”

“You realize that life is never going to be easy for you?”

“I do.”

Sehun realizes suddenly how old his parents look, with their wrinkle lined faces and the bags under their eyes.

“We’ve always just wanted an easy life for you.” His mother runs a hand through her hair, a habit Sehun picked up from her. “I just—we want you to be happy more than anything else, you know that, right?”

Maybe until now, he hadn’t.

-

“Are you doing anything right now?” Sehun tucks the phone between his ear and shoulder, continuing to organize the piles of paper on his desk. With university application forms ahead of him and study sheets behind, he wants to organize his workspace as well as possible.

Jongin’s voice comes crackling over the phone. “I’m a little busy right now with my mom. I’ll try and come over in a couple hours, but she’s a little exhausted right now.”

Sehun hums in agreement. “Tell her I said I hope she feels better.”

Jongin says, “Yeah sure, see you tonight.” Then, the line goes dead.

Sehun’s tired of sitting in his big lonely room alone all day. Jongin’s been busy all week, and Chanyeol’s been busy with his own applications, although Sehun’s pretty sure he could get in anywhere he wants, and even Baekhyun’s been a little off, working longer at his part time job at the convenience store rather than being behind the counter at Wonderland.

Sehun himself has only been to the shop once this week. He’s had a… strange week. His mother had actually suggested over a rushed breakfast on her way to work that they spend some time together, and his father had actually asked about school over dinner with some important CEO.

He's not sure what they’re trying to do, but after a lifetime of being ignored, it’s a little annoying, having suddenly overbearing parents.

Junmyeon, on the other hand, has been acting the exact same as usual—something Sehun’s thankful for.

It may be a bit selfish for him to say, but he misses carefree breezy nights running around with Jongin in dusty narrow alleyways, the hard pavement below, the wide smoggy sky above.

-

Sehun’s so absorbed in his work that he startles and drops the stack of papers in his hand when Jongin knocks on the window. He can practically hear the other boy laughing through the glass and shoots him a dirty look while halfheartedly gathering the pile again.

“You suck,” he informs while he slides the window open.

“You love it.”

“I hate you.”

“You certainly do not,” Jongin asserts primly, then flops down on the bed. “How are your parents?”

“Still weird.” Sehun slides down next to him and winds their fingers together, absently rubbing his thumb along the tendon on the inside of Jongin’s wrist. “I think they’re still trying to understand where they went wrong with their poor only son.”

Jongin snorts. “Please tell me you aren’t thinking like that too.”

“Nah.” Sehun’s long past struggling to accept himself. “Do you want to go out tonight?”

Jongin looks strangely serious, his eyebrows all scrunched up. “I kind of just want to be with you. Can I stay?”

Sehun’s been waiting to hear those words for so long that he almost stumbles over his response, throat catching on some unnamable emotion. “Yeah,” he says, voice rough, “You can stay.”

Jongin kisses him slow and tender, down and down and down until he’s flat against the bed, gasping for breath and half begging.

Jongin lays down next to him and Sehun tells him about his parents, about his plans for the future, and most of all, about his uncertainties. His voice cracks halfway through and he finishes in a hushed whisper, tears soaking into his pillowcase. Jongin uses his thumbs to wipe away some of the tears, kisses away the rest, and holds him close.

“I think I love you.” Jongin whispers, breath nearly imperceptible. If Sehun wasn’t pressed close enough to feel the uneven skip of his heartbeat, he wouldn’t have guessed Jongin’s nerves.

Tremulously, Sehun says back, “I think I love you too.”

And for the night, Jongin is his.

 -

Sehun dreams of many things. He dreams of Tao. Of sharp eyes and sharp twisting ink on tanned skin, and a wolf that throws its head back and howls at a lovely, lonely moon. He dreams of Wonderland, with its curling smoke and purple lights. And he dreams of Jongin; of fleeting, gentle touches across his skin, of molten eyes and golden skin, of sincerity and lies and love and hate. Dream Jongin traces the curve of his lip with hungry eyes and kisses the breath out of him, and murmurs against his lips, mine, mine, mine.

He wakes up to streaming sunlight and an empty bed. Across the still-warm pillowcase that smells faintly of familiar sharp cologne, Sehun finds a neatly folded piece of paper.

I’m sorry.

Chapter Text

Minseok’s eyes are somber.

“I’m sorry.” He says with sincerity. The thing that makes Sehun’s already aching heart bleed more is that he knows Minseok is sorry. It’s not even his fault, and Minseok somehow regrets it all the same.

“No,” Sehun says again, because it is the only thing he has been able to repeat for the past ten minutes. “This is not a soap opera. People don’t just vanish into thin air after telling you they love you. This is ridiculous.”

Chanyeol winces gently at the word love. He’s had his head in his hands for a long time.

“Call him.” Sehun demands, and when no one moves to get their phones, Sehun reaches for his own. “I’m calling him.”

Baekhyun grabs his wrist carefully, cautiously, like Sehun is going to break if his grip is any harder. He bites his lip. “It’s disconnected.”

Sehun tears his arm out of Baekhyun’s hands viciously. “It was fine last night.” He snarls, and punches the number into his phone.

The line doesn’t even ring once before relaying the disconnected message.

No,” Sehun insists, “No, he said he …don’t stare at me like that, Park Chanyeol.” Chanyeol’s face is an open wound, filled with grief.

Sehun’s mind is chaos. It is an abyss of wordless screaming, and the only one who ever knew how to shut it up was Jongin.

And somehow, Jongin had just up and skipped town.

Sehun’s chest feels like a big, gaping, bleeding wound. He feels simultaneously like throwing up and crying and screaming, just to let out some of the tangled mess that scrapes his insides.

“It’s better if they go stay with his grandfather.” Minseok had explained gently, a small hand on the broad span of Sehun’s shoulder. “You know his mother was struggling. You know they needed the help.”

Sehun had known, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.

“He would have told me. He should have—“ Sehun sounds half hysterical to his own ears.

Minseok pinches the bridge of his nose. Sehun knows he’s being selfish. After all, Jongin had not told any of them with the exception of Minseok the exact circumstances, and even then, Sehun has the nerve to be the only one yelling, refusing to understand.

But for once, he thinks it’s okay to be selfish.

“He thought it would be better for you both if he didn’t,” Minseok says miserably, “Didn’t want to say goodbye. He wanted me to tell you… he wanted me to say he’d be back. Don’t let him go just yet.”

“He left.” Sehun’s voice trembles with anger and grief. Jongin’s apartment had been an empty shell, the stacks of books and the old scratched up desk gone. All that had been in their place had been ghosts and echoing walls.

For a long time, all Sehun had done was curl up on Jongin’s floor, breath in the fading smell of him, and sob his throat raw until the landlord had kicked him out.

“I’m sorry.” Minseok says again, and Sehun doesn’t want to hear it.

He rises up from the couch. Seven pairs of eyes on him.

“I need,” he chokes over his breath, “I need to go, I can’t, I can’t be here.”

And then he runs.

Until his lungs are aching and eyes filled with ghosts of the past running through the familiar streets around him. Here, Jongin had kissed him for the first time. There, Jongin had pushed him gently against an alley wall and told him how beautiful he looked.

Sehun is empty, empty, empty.

-

Kyungsoo is sitting on the sidewalk in front of his front gates. He aimlessly kicks the heels of his shoes against the curb.

He looks up when he sees Sehun approaching, and he has the same red rimmed eyes from crying.

“He’s really gone,” Kyungsoo whispers like he can’t believe it. Sehun’s mind can’t process words anymore. “Fuck.” And then, in a very un-Kyungsoo manner, he stands up and screams, in the middle of the sidewalk, “Fuck!

Sehun’s legs ache from running all the way from Wonderland so he sits on the curb, long legs splayed out into the street. “He’s really gone,” he repeats, because he really doesn’t believe it yet.

Kyungsoo sits down next to him, his slender shoulders heaving. “He didn’t even say goodbye.” He says miserably, winding his hands around his knees and drawing them close. “We’ve been best friends for six years and he didn’t even bother telling me goodbye.”

“Minseok told me that he said he’ll be back. He didn’t want to say goodbye because he’ll be back so there’s no point in saying it.”

“This isn’t a fucking romance novel,” Kyungsoo says bitterly, “His grandfather lives on the other side of the country and his mother wasn’t doing well. He’s not coming back any time soon.”

“I know.” It’s a fact he’s been struggling to say out loud, but Kyungsoo’s blunt way of speaking makes it more real. He’s gone.

“So, what now?”

Gently, Sehun nudges his shoulder against Kyungsoo’s. He smiles weakly. “Life goes on.”

It hurts, and when Kyungsoo hugs him fiercely and leaves the collar of his shirt dark with tears, it hurts even more.

-

 Jongin is unattainable, a dream that slips away in the middle of the night leaving behind clammy hands and lungs starved of oxygen, a mirage that fades before Sehun’s eyes like he was never there in the first place. Jongin was an interlude in the tedious symphony of Sehun’s life, and he threw it off balance, forever changing it, but slowly, Sehun begins to find balance.

Months pass, and the hole in his chest begins to heal around the edges.

Even without Jongin, he has the rest of their friends. He goes back to spending time in Zitao’s shop, watching the older boy ink curling dragons and stark black characters on customers.

Baekhyun takes him out to eat in the middle of the night and from the roof of his apartment complex, they sit under the stars and watch the glimmering lights of the town around them go out one by one.

Jongin’s name feels like a taboo. They don’t mention him even if Sehun never asked for his feelings to be spared, and somehow, Sehun moves on.

University applications go out and results come out. Sehun gets into the same school as Chanyeol by a slim margin and he accepts their offer.

Sehun spends the summer in Wonderland with smoke in his lungs and his head in the clouds.

One night, Zitao presses his warm hand to Sehun’s thigh with purpose in his dark eyes, and Sehun doesn’t stop him.

Backed up against the wall of Zitao’s apartment, Sehun winds his arms around the Chinese boy’s neck and kisses him until he’s breathless. It feels familiar yet so new, different but the same.

A small part of his heart feels as if he’s doing something that is definitely not allowed, but he needs to feel again. And Zitao’s hot palms and glistening skin and soft silky voice whispering in his ear all go above and beyond.

Afterwards, while Zitao’s long lanky body is sprawled next to him, Sehun stares up at the ceiling for the better part of an hour. “I’m allowed this.” He reminds himself fiercely.

-

He packs his bags slowly, savoring each part of his childhood that he puts into suitcases. After a long life of being unsure, he finally feels like he has a set plan. University in the city, an apartment, maybe even nearby Taemin’s, and a subject he actually wants to study. He’s always done well in Psychology in school.

He's cleaning out his desk when he finds it. A pack of cigarettes. At first he thinks Chanyeol or someone left it there for him, but then he realizes it’s a brand he doesn’t smoke, an inexpensive brand.

Sehun opens the box with a wry smile. In a way, this box of cigarettes had been a turning point in his life. The very first box Jongin had ever accidentally left in his room. The box he’d hidden, shamed that he’d wanted to try smoking one.

Suddenly, Sehun fully realizes the amount he has truly changed since then. He’d been quiet, shy, unwilling to understand parts of himself he hadn’t understood. And to think, the catalyst of all that had been one mistaken drunken night where Jongin had, by chance, fallen into the wrong room in the right neighborhood.

His heart throbs in nostalgia. He lights up one of the cigarettes and wrinkles his nose after one dry drag. It’s stale.

A pang in his chest reminds him that Jongin isn’t a part of the plan, but he brushes it to the side. He has less than a week until he leaves for university, and he’s excited. Jongin was the first person he ever truly loved. Maybe he’ll always be a little bit in love with Jongin. He can’t help that, but at the very least, he can keep living his life.

Sehun takes one last look at his emptied room and slides into the familiar warmth of his bed. It’s weird, he thinks on the verge of sleep, how the world keeps turning even when you think it’s going to end.

Sehun doesn’t dream that night, and he’s fine with that.

Everything he wants is already real.

Chapter Text

Sehun wakes up groggy and confused. A glance at the clock through sleep crusted eyes tells him it’s the middle of the night and he’s about to shove his face back into the pillow and try to catch another couple of hours of sleep when he hears it; a soft, unmistakable noise he hasn't heard in months, one that resonates with the skip of his pulse.

A knock at the window.