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Fake a Smile

Chapter Text

Show your wrists
Fake a smile
Pray he doesn’t
Check your thigh

Minseok is almost doubled over, eyes and nose running and his throat burning, but he can’t stop yet. Just a little more, he tells himself, a little more. He heaves again, his stomach cramping up, ridding itself of its contents as he chokes around his fingers, irritating the back of his throat with practiced ease.

Finally, there’s nothing more, his stomach cramps but all that comes up is some water and nasty tasting bile. Minseok coughs a few times, spitting out some mucus that stubbornly clings to the inside of his mouth. With sticky fingers, he reaches out for some paper towels, wiping his hands and face, blowing his nose before discarding all of it into the toilet bowl, flushing it all away.

He turns to the mirror, inspecting the image with little interest as he bends down to rinse out his mouth with water, washing off his face and hands. Once clean, he dries himself off and reaches for his bag. Eye drops to reduce redness, mouthwash in a travel-size container, a case with light-coverage bb cream and a lip balm.

He rinses his mouth, the minty taste lingering after he spits the mouthwash out and moves on to the eye drops, then the bb cream and finally the lip balm. Checking his reflection once again, he deems it okay and packs everything back into the tote bag he always brings with him. He looks at the mirror one last time, forcing his lips into a smile, and unlocks the door.

***

He was seven years old, they were on the playground. Reaching up, he grabbed one of the bars on the jungle gym and pulled himself up, before reaching for the next one.

“Come on!” he heard someone call behind him, making him frown. He was climbing as fast as he could, it wasn’t easy!

On the ground stood another boy, maybe two years older than him, or at least a fair bit taller.

“You’re in the way, fatty!”

Before he could open his mouth to reply, an irritated Luhan had stepped in front of the boy, matching frown in place.

“He’s not fat!” Luhan protested, arms stubbornly crossed over his chest.

“Besides, that’s really mean and you’re not supposed to say that! You should say sorry or I’m gonna tell on you!”

The older boy seemed taken aback, slightly fearful at the prospect of possibly getting a telling off by a teacher. He muttered something that could possibly be an apology, before moving along, leaving a proudly smiling Luhan behind, as the boy turned to Minseok.

“Don’t listen to him, Minnie. He’s just jealous!”

Minseok nodded and smiled back, pushing the little voice in his head away, that whispered of that maybe, the boy had been right after all. He didn’t feel like climbing anymore.

***

“…but like, I’m not sure what to make of him? Like, yesterday we were talking, y'know, just small talk, so I asked him if he wanted to join us for coffee some day, and he looked like I was about to beat him up or something? But he still said yes? Anyway…”

The to-go paper cup warms Minseok's frozen hands slightly as he grips it tightly, trying to keep his hands from trembling. He's already regretting the coffee, the caffeine making him lightheaded, but he hadn't been able to resist.

Luhan is still going on about his new coworker, the cute one with "almost but not really too much eyeliner", in Luhan’s own words. Beak...hyun? Yes. Minseok tries hard to listen but his thoughts keeps floating off track, making it next to impossible to follow the Chinese man's rapid monologue. He discreetly checks his watch, trying not to draw any attention to the movement. Really, it shouldn't be so weird to check your watch, but Minseok is well aware of how he's been glancing at it more than usual and he doesn't want to raise Luhan's suspicions. He almost sighs as he notes how the minute arm has hardly moved at all since last time he looked, but he holds it in and pretends to be invested in whatever his best friend/sometimes boyfriend is saying (something about peaches? Or great asses, maybe on the co-worker, he isn't sure). One and a half hour left on his 48-hour fast.

***

In all honesty, he wasn’t supposed to drink coffee during fasts but he had always had a weakness for the bitter beverage and, he reasoned, it did help speed up metabolism so extra calories kinda cancelled out themselves. Right? He shook his head, not wanting to think about it. However, the hasty action threw him off balance and he stumbled a few steps, only to have Luhan catch him before he met the ground.

“Are you okay?” came Luhan’s worried voice and Minseok nodded, taking a deep breath as he tried to steady himself and settle the wave of nausea that had washed over him.

“Y-yeah,” he assured, stuttering slightly. “I- I’m fine. Just tripped over my own feet.”

He gave Luhan a reassuring smile but the latter seemed hesitant to let him go.

“You sure?” he wondered softly, making the shorter nod again.

“Minseok-”

“I’m fine, really, Lu! Can we just keep walking!?”

Minseok’s outburst seemed surprise Luhan, but he slowly pulled his hand back and nodded, making Minseok take a breath of relief.

They slowly began walking again and Luhan hesitantly picked up his monologue where he had left off, informing a slightly out of it Minseok about how he had decided a date for when they were supposed to meet up with eyeliner-coworker, Minseok only listening with half an ear.

***

Minseok was sitting in a plush chair, made for people much larger than him, which had him sit on the very edge, in an attempt not to get completely swallowed up by the soft cushions.

“Hello… Minseok,” the nurse smiled from the other chair, having glanced at the papers in front of her to check his name.

“Ten years old, huh? Then you’re quite the big boy!” she went on, making Minseok nod in agreement. Ten years was quite big, two digits! He was even old enough to bike home on his own after school, his parents had decided.

“So, why don’t you take off your slippers and stand right over here, so I can measure how tall you are?”

Minseok did as told, dutifully stepping out of his nice, dark blue slippers, and standing up straight against the wall, allowing the nurse to measure him.
As she noted down his height on her clipboard, she opened her mouth to speak again.

“Great. Now, step over here and step on the scale. If you have any keys or such, you can place them to the side.”

Once again, the boy did as told, stepping on the scale and waiting.

The nurse adjusted something on the scale, nodded, and told Minseok to step down and sit back on the plush chair, as she noted something (presumably his weight) on the clipboard again and walked over to sit down on her own chair.

“So, Minseok... Do you do any physical activities?”

The smile on her face was kind, but Minseok felt as if something had changed in her tone of voice. Still, he answered dutifully.

“I do dancing two times a week, and I bike home from school every day,” he mumbled, making the nurse nod.

“Anything else?” she encouraged, pencil hovering over paper.

“No.” Minseok admitted, and he wasn’t sure why it made him feel guilty, as if he had let her down.

***

He felt like his stomach was bulging out, the strain from all the food uncomfortable and heavy. He had eaten too much, obviously, and he needed to fix it. Sticking his fingers down his throat; quick, easy and (mostly) painless. And above all, necessary.

He had no idea how he’d let it go this far. He’d just wanted to be normal, for just one night.

Luhan had invited him over to finally meet Baekhyun, the cute and kinda cheeky new guy from his work. And Luhan had been right, he was cute. And funny and relatable and normal. Saying all the right things, joking, drinking, eating…

Nausea washed over Minseok, the disgust for himself physically forcing its way up his throat. On the verge of tears, he doubled over and emptied his stomach into the toilet, no fingers required to trigger the process.

He really had just wanted to feel normal, to relate when Baekhyun and Luhan moaned over cheesy pizza and mozzarella sticks, to groan longingly after cookies and ice cream and cake. Instead, all he could do was force his best imitation of a smile (that hopefully didn’t look like he was suffering, or gassy, or both) as his mind instead conjured pictures of fat, numbers, and his own bulging body in the mirror.

It wasn’t fair, he thought. The was Baekhyun and Luhan got to be both good looking, pretty, and normal.

Sinking down to the floor, he leans his face against his knees as he starts to sob, saliva, bile and small, chewed pieces of dinner drying on his chin as he struggles to breathe, panic and fear of what he’s done clawing at his lungs while hopelessness closes in around his throat.

Chapter Text

Minseok shivered as he looked at himself in the bathroom mirror. He’d never thought of himself as exceptionally handsome or pretty but this, this was just too much.

Turning slowly, he examined himself from the side, then over his shoulder at his back.

It was undeniable, really. He was fat. Fat and ugly and disgusting. The fact that he’d let it go this far, that he’d never realised…

But that wasn’t true. He had known, hadn’t he? He’d known for some time now, maybe always. The thought disgusts him further, the idea of having known but having ignored it, stupid and ignorant and lazy, unwilling to change and hiding behind the excuse of “loving oneself”.

Because that’s all it is, he tells himself. A bad excuse to remain fat and lazy.

He pulls on his clothes, unable to look anymore. His heart feels heavy and he feels like hiding in his bed and never come out, but he doesn’t deserve that. Not when he knows, when he can’t deny it anymore.

He takes a deep breath and unlocks the door, going over to his closet to pull out his joggers. He’s going for a run.

***

Minseok jerks awake, heart beating quickly. Too tired to open his eyes properly, he searches for his phone under his pillow, the continuous buzzing suggesting a call.

Without looking at the caller ID, he presses the green phone icon. He already know who it is, there’s only one person who calls him except his mother and she’d know better than to call him in the morning of his day off.

“What!?” he groans, voice rough from sleep and misuse.

“Rise and shine!! I’m at your door, I brought coffee!”

Minseok groans again, pulling his phone from his ear to check the time.

“Luhan it’s… eight-thirty in the morning,” he complains, but he’s already sitting up.

His room feels freezing so he wraps a quilt around himself as he pads over to the door, hanging up the call as he unlocks the door.

“Why are you here anyway?”

Luhan pays no mind to Minseok’s grumpy appearance and simply hands him a paper cup, which the latter accepts quietly.

“I just thought I'd come by and say hi to my best friend/boyfriend? Or am I not allowed to?”

Minseok kept grumbling but didn’t protest as he followed Luhan into the kitchen, sitting down by the table. He shivered and pulled the blanket closer around himself, the sweater and sweatpants he had worn to bed doing little in terms of fighting off the cold.

“So what are you really doing here?” he inquired, glancing down at the cup of hot coffee, trying to listen to Luhan’s reply while simultaneously weighing the risks of the liquid messing up his morning weigh-in which Luhan’s surprise visit had caused him to miss.

Luhan shrugged, casually sipping his own beverage (some kind of juice by the looks of it), while yanking Minseok’s fridge open.

“I thought we could have breakfast together and hang out for a bit? It’s been ages since we just hung out-”

“Luhan, I was at your place yesterday.” Minseok interrupted.

“Yeah, well, it’s not the same. Also, when did you last go grocery shopping? You have like nothing in here!”

Minseok shrugged, warming his hands on the otherwise untouched paper cup.

“I guess I forgot. Besides, I’m busy today, Lu. I gotta run to the gym and pick up groceries, apparently, and I was planning on getting some reading done…”

He trailed off, seeing Luhan’s disappointed look. If it was one thing he really hated, it was letting Luhan down.

“But, Minnie…” the latter whined, making his eyes as large as possible. “We can shop together and you’re always working out, I’m sure it’s okay to skip just once? Please? I just… I miss you. I know we see each other, but I just, I feel like… like you haven’t really been all here lately?”

Minseok sighed, biting his lower lip. He had been very distracted lately and maybe Luhan was right, even if it felt wrong, maybe skipping gym one day wouldn’t be so bad. He could just work harder tomorrow, right?

He looked up, giving Luhan a soft smile.

“Okay, then.”

***

Luhan was close, so close.

It was the week after Minseok’s eighteenth birthday and his parents were out of town, as per his request. He had had a small party, his closest friends from school having had come over for movies and pizza.

It was supposed to be a small, relaxed thing but Jongdae had managed to get a hold of some beer and soju, which had turned into some drinking game using the movie they were watching (“take a shot every time he looks confused!”).

Jongdae, Taehyung and Sehun had proceeded to get shit-faced while Minseok and a few of the older guys had watched, amused, while they carefully sipped their own drinks.

The night had ended with Suho and Seokjin dragging the others out, bidding Minseok and Luhan good night.

There wasn’t really a question about whether Luhan was staying over or not, they all just assumed he would, that’s the way things were. Luhan and Minseok, Minseok and Luhan, always together.

Now they were lying in Minseok’s bed, facing each other. They were so close, their noses almost touched.

Minseok closed his eyes, the dull buzz from the drink he’d had slowly fading, leaving behind only a pleasant sleepiness. He was breathing slowly, Luhan’s arms around him feeling comforting, familiar.

“You’re so beautiful”

Minseok opened his eyes, confusion evident on his face as he looked at Luhan.

“What?” he huffed with a laugh, “where did that come from?”

Luhan only smiled softly, shrugging.

“Don’t know, just thought about it.”

Minseok shook his head, snuggling his face closer to Luhan’s chest.

“Don’t say silly things, I’m in a good mood.”

“It’s not silly!”

When he looked up again he saw Luhan staring down at him, a concerned frown painting his otherwise attractive features.

“You really are beautiful, Minnie.” he mumbled, stroking Minseok’s cheek with his thumb, eyes trailing over Minseok’s face as if he was searching for something.

“You’re the most beautiful person I know. I could just look at you all day, the way you move, that little wrinkle you get on your nose when you’re reading, your smile when you listen to people talk…”

Minseok would accuse Luhan of being cheesy but something in his voice, the way he looked like he was laying his entire soul bare for Minseok warmed him from the inside, making him smile softly.

“I love you, you know that, right? More than anything in this world.”

Heart feeling like it was on the verge of exploding from all the emotions he were feeling, Minseok leaned forward, not saying a word but still saying everything as he closed the gap between their lips.

Chapter Text

Minseok hummed contently from where he was laid on top of Luhan on the couch, a blanket pulled over them as two cups of tea were slowly going cold on the coffee table, some movie playing quietly on the tv.

They had been lazing around all day, cuddling and watching movies and old reruns of tv shows they used to watch as kids.

However, Minseok is only pretending to be watching, his mind having drifted towards sleep slowly but steadily for the last half hour.

He’s warm and comfortable, Luhan’s hand drawing lazy circles at the nape of Minseok’s neck. Sighing contently, he lets his fingers drift over Luhan’s neck, down over his shoulder and his firm pecs under the soft cotton shirt he’s wearing. He lets his hand drift down Luhan’s arm, the muscles in his arms just as firm (Minseok is suspecting that Luhan is secretly flexing just to show off).

“I love you.”

Minseok looks up at Luhan, who is looking down, his gaze fond as he watches Minseok play with the hem of Luhan’s sleeve.

Minseok scrunches his nose and rolls his eyes.

“Luhannie, my hair is greasy and I’m wearing last night’s-”

“I love you.”

Minseok slowly shuts his mouth, eyes meeting Luhan’s, who looks at him with a serious, yet fond expression.

“I don’t tell you nearly enough, Minnie, but I love you. I don’t care if your hair is greasy or if you’ve worn the same pyjamas for two weeks, I love you. No matter what. From the first day I met you, until forever. I’ll do anything for you, you know that, right?”

Minseok tries to swallow around the lump that’s formed in his throat, his eyes burning from trying to keep the tears at bay.

“Luhannie, I-”

“You don’t have to say it back.”

Luhan is still looking at him, just as fond as before.

“I’m not saying this to hear you say it back, Minnie. I just want you to know-”

“I love you too, Luhannie! And I’m not saying it just because you said it first, dummy! I really love you. And… I’m sorry that I haven’t been all there lately, I just, it’s just, I-”

“You don’t have to explain yourself, Minnie.”

Luhan strokes his cheek softly and Minseok smiles, sniffling softly. His heart aches with how much he feels and he can’t resist leaning forward and connect their lips. The kiss is soft and slow, but it makes Minseok realise how much he’s missed this, missed them.

In the moment, he grips Luhan’s shirt tight. This, he thinks, I could give everything up for this, but even as he thinks it, he realises that that’s not entirely true. While his heart aches with the desire to give in, to surrender everything to Luhan and live true and honest with him, he can’t. He knows Luhan loves him, and he loves Luhan, but he can’t tell him this. It would break his heart and if there’s one thing Minseok could never do, it’s that.

***

Luhan had offered to buy dinner, take out, given that the only thing in Minseok’s fridge had been half a cucumber, three cans of diet soda and two eggs (although Minseok wasn’t sure how old the eggs were, which he had told Luhan who had thrown them out immediately). The thought of fatty take out made Minseok’s stomach churn but Luhan had looked so happy that he couldn’t say no. Moreover, the two of them had been hanging out the whole day and Luhan had already commented four times how he was practically starving and how he didn’t get how Minseok wasn't dying from hunger.

Minseok had excused himself to the balcony while Luhan called the take out place (Chinese, Luhan had decided and Minseok hadn’t objected), to have a smoke and attempt to calm down.

He had tried googling the restaurant to look up the nutritional value of the food but it was a small place with no website (Minseok hadn’t really expected one, but he had still hoped), which made him stress out even more, the exact opposite of what he was trying to do.

He took a deep drag of the cigarette, breathing the smoke out through his nose.

“Those things will kill you, you know.”

Minseok turned his head to watch Luhan, who was leaning against the doorframe, the soft light from behind him making him look warm and glowy.

“Well, thank you, Captain Obvious. I'd never heard that before.”

Luhan snorted, stepping down to wrap his arms around Minseok’s waist, leaning his chin on his shoulder from behind and kissing his cheek.

“Food’s gonna be here in a minute.”

Minseok hummed in reply, taking another drag from the cigarette.

“What did you order?”

“Sweet and sour pork for me and veggie Chow Mein for you.”

Minseok smiled, taking a last drag before putting the cigarette out in a pot with a shriveled up plant in it, a tragic reminder of an attempt to nourish something. Luhan had told him he’d overwatered it, Minseok thought it sounded fake (how do you give a plant too much water!? Isn't that what it needs??).

They stood like that for a while, looking out over the lights of the city until the intercom buzzed and Luhan tore himself away to greet the delivery person.

Minseok lingered for a moment, breathing in the evening air. He felt warm, the ghost of Luhan’s arms still warming his back and waist, the back of his neck still tingling from the proximity. Maybe everything was gonna be okay, just this once. He took a deep breath, closing his eyes for a moment, and breathing out slowly before walking back inside. Just this once.

***

When Minseok woke up the following morning, he was feeling warm, toasty even. He turned a bit, watching Luhan’s sleeping face, the rise and fall of his chest.

Yesterday had been good, great even. Spending time with Luhan was great and Minseok hadn't felt so happy and loved in quite some time.

After dinner Minseok had excused himself to take a shower, trying to be as quiet as possible even with the noise of the running shower and music playing from his phone as he bent over the toilet and emptied his stomach. Feeling much better, he’d proceeded to shower and rinse his mouth, washing away mucus, snot and whatever else might be clinging to his face and the fuzz on his arms.

Afterwards, he’d cuddled with Luhan in bed until they fell asleep, his exhausted body aching as he sought warmth in Luhan’s strong arms.

Reaching for his phone on the bedside table, Minseok checked the time. The clock showed almost 10 AM, which explained why he was feeling so well rested. Knowing that without an alarm Luhan would happily sleep til noon, he carefully wriggled out of bed, slipping his feet into a pair of slippers as he trudged towards the bathroom.

After doing his regular morning routine and weigh-in he went to the kitchen to make some coffee. He put on the radio on a low volume not to wake Luhan and checked his phone.

“Morning, baby.”

Luhan’s sudden appearance started him and Minseok almost dropped his phone, giving him a glare.

“You scared me!” he pouted, making Luhan smile as he walked over to give Minseok a morning kiss.

The kiss tasted faintly of mint, indicating that Luhan had already brushed his teeth.

“Making breakfast?”

Minseok hummed, shrugging. “Making coffee.”

“Coffee isn't breakfast.”

Minseok rolled his eyes, turning back to his phone as Luhan pulled the leftovers from previous night's dinner from the fridge to heat up.

“Well, some would argue that neither is Sweet and Sour, and yet…”

“Touché.”

Minseok couldn’t help but laugh, voice still slightly hoarse from sleep. He leaned back on the counter, watching with a soft smile as Luhan hummed under his breath, getting cutlery and a glass, complaining under his breath about the microwave taking too long. It felt nice, domestic. He finished his coffee and put the empty mug down on the counter, pushing off and- oh. Darkness.