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It’s cold, but not as cold as it should be at this time of the year. Yet, Sehun is underdressed, a chillness nibbling along the scope of his shoulders through his thin pyjama shirt, and he’s starting to not feel his left thigh anymore for he forgot his pants now have a rip in them. He’s wearing his fluffy, long jacket overtop, which does a good job at covering his shabbiness and insulating some heat, even though he can’t close it up because the zipper is broken.

Unlike other years, now he had no intention of doing anything other than lazing at home by himself and maybe watching a comedy, just him and his bed and hot cocoa. The noise outside rose, heightened, the cheers of people, drunkards on the streets, a merriment everywhere. Sehun wasn’t keen on being amid such people, but his legs were cramping on him a little from being cocooned in bed for so many hours, and a walk sounded nice.

And this is how he is now around the Lotte World Tower, thirty minutes to midnight, on the New Year’s Eve, shifting from one foot to the other to keep himself warm as he listens to the faraway murmurs of the concerts taking place in the vicinity. Waiting for the countdown. It’s noisy. Very much so. Sehun only uses this jacket when he goes out to hang the laundry – like tonight - and never like this, so there are no headphones in his pocket to be found. Nor money. But he did find an ancient piece of toffee in one of the pockets. The writing is all faded from it, and the colour, but Sehun shrugs and eats it anyway. It doesn’t taste of dust. Too sweet and not chewy anymore. Sehun is pleased, and keeps jogging in place. Perhaps he is dancing to the mixture of songs he hears from all directions, the hollers of laughter.

Fifteen minutes left. The crowd gets denser. Sehun forgets on occasion just how many people are in Seoul, until he sees such a mass of them gathered, packed, touching like this. He peers at it in awe.

He had found a place for himself under a tree along the sidewalk. It doesn’t have any foliage, but it’s full of coloured lights, and Sehun feels the slightest bit shielded under it, being no one has breached his personal bubble yet. And the view to the tower is great too.

He searches for another toffee. Shuffles his feet. No more toffee. One lone sunflower seed instead, very much disintegrated. Sehun doesn’t eat it, and puts it back where he’d found it. Shuffles his feet.

Ten minutes. Perhaps his hair is a little frozen now. Not the brightest decision to go out with his head uncovered so soon after showering. He feels a stiffness when he runs his hand through it, while it also feels a bit frizzy. It’s fluffy and curly and certainly frozen. Sehun cards his fingers through it two times in an attempt to tame it until he realizes he has no chance of succeeding in this, and his hand is freezing anyway. He curls it into a fist and stuffs it back in his pocket where the warmth is.

More shuffling. Five minutes.

Sehun breathes in. A bit of sulphur in the air, some alcohol, and the clean, astringent scent of coldness, humidity. He looks back on the year to pass for a while. It was better than the previous ones. He felt freer. More lenient with himself. No specific good event comes to mind, nor a bad one. He isn’t dissatisfied with it at all, but there is room for improvement, which he hopes will be fulfilled in the new year.

1 minute. The horde is abubble now, fomenting, the din of welded voices reaching yet another summit. The ambience is fraught with incitement, dense and sibilating, so much that there is some seepage, and Sehun feels a bit of this tremblor in himself.

He’s not paying attention to his immediate surroundings, but rather he’s looking towards the tower, and he jumps to get himself out of the way when someone nearly hits into him, a compact personage spat out by the crowd and insulated outside of it, with Sehun, on the safe dam of the curb. Sehun didn’t sway, but the person takes a few moments until they regain their footing. Their clothes are ruffled, and their breathing laboured. A twitter accompanies this, subdued and airy, of overwhelmed amusement.

Sehun looks over just as the person does. It’s a boy. A man or a boy. Sehun goes for a boy, to credit the youth of his face and his expression – displaying such disarming glee. Boyish, nearabout naïve, even though Sehun doesn’t doubt he has perhaps a year or two over him.

“Was it you or was it the tree I hit?” he says. A voice that is both high and scratchy, both riling and soothing. Sehun wasn’t expecting such a timbre from such a man.

“It was the tree.”

The boy shifts his gaze towards the tree as he brings his hands together in front of himself and does one deep bow. “I’m sorry,” he says, formally, to the tree, before he rises and smiles. Sehun is stunned by the display before his face decides to break into a contained laugh. It doesn’t last for long until he breaks into a few chuckles, that he has nothing to stifle into because he didn’t bring a scarf with him either.

“The tree deserves to be a happy tree,” the boy says, but he doesn’t seem upset at Sehun laughing, if anything, it appears this is an appreciated reaction. He takes a few steps closer, until he’s less than an arm length from Sehun.

Silver hair. A sinewy, trim jaw. Expressive eyes, corners droopy. A mouth as expressive as the words it speaks. He doesn’t have a scarf either, but his jacket has its lapels lifted, shielding his neck and nape. But his ears, his ears are a fire red.

“Whoa, the view is great from here,” he gasps leaning forward to look through the lights in the tree to see the tower. As Sehun hears him now, the huskiness is clearer, the same as the melodiousness. Sehun has truthfully never heard a voice like this. It stands out so much to him even through the mayhem around.

Sehun brings out his phone once more to look at the time. 40 seconds. The boy sees too. Sehun becomes restless along with the crowd. A few more seconds. And from here, from the outskirts of the gathered ones, it has already started, the celebration, somehow, people turning towards one another, closing in. Right here, in front of him, a handful of couples are already kissing. Other are holding hands, tight, as Sehun sees through the gaps between the bodies.

“Wanna do that too?” he hears. Sehun doesn’t register the fact that it’s spoken towards him until he looks at his side, where the boy is, his gaze fixating on the couple that is the closest to them. “Wanna kiss?”

Sehun nods. Promptly. Without even thinking about it.

A kiss. He hasn’t felt one in a while. Not this year. And as he looked around, at all these people sharing one, he didn’t feel any longing for it. But he does now. When there is a possibility for it, when it’s within his reach, when a stranger is offering him one, he wants it. A lot.

And he nods once more, as he’s sure of it.

“Yes.”

Surprise tugs at the boy’s features. It’s a softening more than a hardening. While he didn’t sound nonchalant about it at all, despite the phrasing, it was still maybe too soon for it to be accepted. But Sehun does want it, and the boy appears to believe that, for he approaches, pace peppy, so he’s in front of Sehun, near, in no time. He’s now under the casting of the tree lights. Rosiness, liveliness, on his cheeks, on his nose.

On the façade of the Lotte Tower, the countdown has started. Six seconds.

Sehun takes a step ahead too. The tips of his shoes touch the boy’s.

Three seconds.

“What’s your name?” the boy asks.  

“Sehun,” he replies, and he doesn’t know why it takes him so long to say it when he’s been living with this name, called by it so often. Something about the way the boy is peering at him.

Sehun wants to ask him too, the same thing,

But then he is saying “Happy New Year, Sehun,” and soars to kiss him.

Effervescence pours down his spine from the first touch, the first fitting. The noise around fades, and all he feels are the lips against his. Then the grasping, Sehun’s mouth responding. It has a softness. Debilitation - in the motion, the touches, the presence of the lips themselves against his. A warmth. And a chillness, from their frozen cheeks touching as the kiss deepens, lips accommodating to one another, greeting and dandling. The slide, smoother as the kiss dampens, heats. It’s gentle though, and slow, just for the sake of being gentle and slow. Not from fearfulness or unsureness. Sehun doesn’t know this person, doesn’t know anything about them, but his lips are hot and wanting, pleasant. Pressing closer. Body to body, through all the rustling layers. Sehun isn’t that cold anymore, but when the boy’s fingers touch his nape, he startles. He feels each of the tips, sliding back towards his jaw, and later, licks later, soft moans later, it’s the whole palm. His other palm must be somewhere on Sehun as well, though he can’t tell where, until he feels it along his waist, under his coat, and the boy’s chest is against his.

The kiss is torn, suddenly, and the squelch of their lips pulling apart brusquely rings in Sehun’s ears. It’s the boy who stumbled, fell, for Sehun hadn’t even noticed that he had been tiptoeing on Sehun’s boots. Nothing else from what he’s wearing is suited for winter but his footwear, so they’re sturdy, and the boy could stand on Sehun’s feet without it hurting. He now finds the happening amusing, but while their lip-lock is broken, the mood for it isn’t.

The boy surges up to him again, to steal another kiss, his lips kneading at Sehun’s long and tight.

“You taste sweet,” he says. Breathless. Slightly so.

It’s too close for Sehun’s eyes to focus. He doesn’t remember already, how the lips of this man looked before. He’s only seen them once, and briefly, but now they have a sprightliness in them, cerise, plump. It’s really…pretty.

“Your name?” Sehun inquires, a bit dazed by the sight.

It’s only a step behind, just one, for Sehun’s back to hit the trunk of the tree. The boy takes it for him, walks him to it, presses him against it, and follows, maintaining their nearness.

“Baekhyeon. Happy New Year to me too?” he says.

The uptalk only puzzles Sehun for a moment before he understands what he is asking for, and he stoops down to kiss him again.

Baekhyeon. He’s kissing Baekhyeon. This knowledge, no matter how weightless it is in describing his persona, adds something. Comfort. Ease. Kissing a man with a name is different from kissing a nameless one. And now, when the kiss intensifies, in depth and speed and want, Sehun feels a greed in his hands too, to grip onto him – his hips. They’re wide, wider than he would expect, undulant and supple, from what he can tell, and a joy to hold onto.

Tongue. It’s harmonized, natural, perhaps from the length of the kiss, the abandon of it, the openness, a soft sliding of tongues meeting between their lips. Sehun doesn’t remember the sensation of this anymore, since the last time it happened, and yet, he is sure it wasn’t like this previously. This lovely and tender, and not filthy, not a mess of saliva, one that wanted him to pull away from it immediately. A nip sneaks in, perchance accidental, and there is a brief cessation, a misfit, as they muse if these are welcome too. Sehun liked it, the bite, the scrape of it. Felt daring, a bit aggressive, less civil. So he initiates one too, letting his upper teeth close onto Baekhyeon’s lower lip as it’s twined with his own. He’s closer then, higher, more accessible. Baekhyeon’s hands are both around his neck, under his collar, pulling him towards him. The height difference is substantial, and Sehun for a moment wishes he would climb onto him, would wrap his legs around his waist just to be high enough, kiss him deeper.

Baekhyeon nearly does this, tongue flirting with Sehun’s, wet and deft, and a moan too, from Sehun, from them both, as he gets closer, his hips over Sehun’s, and it moulders from there, as they are both hit with the realization of the turn their kiss has taken, the sort of passion and craving.

But it descends slowly. It’s as though the very first is rewound, the depth lessening with the same confidence it has begun. The softness and gentleness returns, dallies in light caresses, until, lastly, hardly, a fraction of space sneaks between their lips.

“Why are you alone?” is what Baekhyeon says first, felt in little puffs across Sehun’s tingling lips.

Is everyone else here not-alone. Is this how everyone shall be and Sehun didn’t get the memo. He doesn’t find it odd, if Baekhyeon finds oddness in it.

“I’m here just to see the fireworks. I really like fireworks.” His words don’t morph into clouds in front of his mouth. There is warmth between them, and their proximity. Sehun didn’t even have to utter it above a whisper.

“Ah,” Baekhyeon replies, lips and eyes shiny, slack. “Your…your fireworks then.” He pulls away a fraction. “You’re missing them?”

And now he registers the booming, the hiss of the rockets climbing to the sky, and gunpowder smoking the air, heavy, scratchy. It reflects, he sees, in Baekhyeon’s grey hair – the ghosts of the colours above, evanescent hues scattering through the slight mess of it.  Sehun zones out on this spectacle a bit.

He turns then, they both do, towards the show. It’s past its incipit, Sehun gauges, already reaching a sort of opulence, the sky besmeared ceaselessly with vibrant cinders.

Other times, Sehun wouldn’t take his eyes off the display for a second, but he does now, when he senses Baekhyeon’s flinching and frowning. Little jumps, synced with the bangs of the pyrotechnics. He then brings both of his hands to the sides of his head.

“What is it?” Sehun asks. He already feels the dust of the gunpowder on his tongue.

“My ears are really sensitive,” Baekhyeon says. “This is very loud.” Nothing can be done about that. Half of his face appears elated to watch, the other is strung with discomfort.

He sees the tip of his fingers through his hair, all red and twitching too. Probably freezing.

“Um,” Sehun mumbles. So quiet, it only exists as a vibration in his thorax. But Baekhyeon’s attention is back to him anyway, waiting. Sehun doesn’t know how to say what he wants to say, nor does he trust himself to voice it above the volume of the fireworks – shouting at him doesn’t seem a good idea. But Sehun only puts a hand on his elbow and tugs a bit, invites Baekhyeon to come closer. When he is less than a breath way, Sehun still hasn’t let go of him and Baekhyeon is just walking into Sehun’s chest by now. He peers at Sehun from under his lashes, confused, but not averse.

Sehun releases his elbow and moves that hand to his head instead, covering one ear, while leading the other to his shoulder, under his collarbone, where there is a bit more softness and his other ear can rest comfortably. On one end there is Sehun’s palm to muffle the noise, and on the other, his shoulder. Baekhyeon’s side presses against his.

“Is it okay like this?” Sehun asks. He doesn’t have to say it loudly now, for Baekhyeon’s ear is right there, next to his mouth.

Little eyes blink at him, a bit strained as they seek his own without twisting his head. He nods then, short and hearty. He smiles then, close lipped. There is a dimple, Sehun notices. A bead of a shadow punctuating the timidity of it. Sehun lingers on it until it vanishes. With that, Baekhyeon leans against him. It seems heavy, too much so, and Sehun registers it’s not given from the physical heftiness, but from the trust. His hand, cold, somehow ends up in the pocket of Sehun’s jacket, pulling to close it so as little cold air as possible would reach Sehun.

Then they look up, and watch the show. It goes on and on, manifold types of explosions, the fires coordinated in their waxing and their waning.

His fingers freeze too, and he misses all the stages of it, until he feels the prickles, the needles. He squeezes them, wiggles them to bring some feeling back, and now, Baekhyeon is smiling up too. It really is a show like it never was before. Maybe because they’re set off the tower, they reach higher, broader, last longer. Sehun thought Baekhyeon was too distracted to notice his fidgeting, but he feels then, some fingers touching his, warm now, enveloping, followed by the hem of the jacket, until both of their hands are over one another, and coated with the thick of the sleeve, both warm, as they keep Baekhyeon’s ear covered.

It goes on. The last one is really the biggest of them all, the colour, and the play of it complex, bewitching, and he hears Baekhyeon gasp the very moment it erupts. It consumes the whole expanse of the night. Its death is slow, dragged, giving the illusion that the people could catch its falling stars.

But nothing reaches the ground, and with that, the show is over. People moving at once, filtering through, bottles of alcohol in hand, gleeful.

They remain the way they are, save for Baekhyeon moving his head and detaching their hands. As long as they’re pressed to the tree, they don’t stand in anyone’s way.

Sehun looks at him. He’s handsome. Really, really handsome. A delicacy to the texture of the skin, the structure and composition of his features. His stature fits with his mien. Somewhat petite but with a broadness and definition that counters the rondures.

“You’re in pyjamas,” Baekhyeon suddenly says. He’s fixating on the collar of Sehun’s shirt, which is a little frayed, and the pattern on it undoubtedly that of pyjamas.

“I just got out of bed with the intention of going right back into it”

Baekhyeon huffs, and the cloud of it dews on Sehun’s neck. He shifts his gaze to Sehun’s. “No intention to celebrate? No friends?” He leans in and sniffs, though briefly, as though he only needed to confirm it. “You’re sober.”

“You’re sober too.”

“I tend to strip when I get drunk. Not a desirable thing to do when the temperatures are below zero.” He halts, yanking himself from Sehun for a fraction before he’s back. “Not that desirable when they are above zero either, actually.”

Sehun flowers into laughter only imagining this. “So no alcohol for Baekhyeon. What about the friends?”

“Ah, that. I was…uh.” He looks to the side, gaze blanking. Then he blinks at Sehun. “Seventh wheeling. All of my best friends came with their dates and I was just there being ignored.”

Not surprising, even when Sehun knows next to nothing about him, that he doesn’t like being ignored. Sehun has an inkling it’s hard to resist giving attention to him as well – and he seems to already be a victim of this effect.  

“I had a better time with you.”

Sehun’s eyes dip to his lips. Baekhyeon licks them. They’re taken back to their kiss. The delight of it.

He wants to do it again. And again and again. But surprisingly, now, after they have exchanged a few more words, it feels less fitting to lean in and tangle in another ardent smooch.

The moment is broken – it has to be broken, not allowed to leaven – when Baekhyeon speaks. “What else is there to do? We had the kiss, watched the fireworks.”

Traditional New Year’s endeavours. “The champagne?” hums Sehun.

“We’ve just talked about that.”

“What about the wish?”

“The wish!” Baekhyeon exclaims. His eyes disappear into lunes. “Let’s do that.”

Sehun is taken aback, but he closes his eyes anyway, along with Baekhyeon.

He tries thinking of one, and nothing comes to mind. Nothing bigger, more substantial, that would be worthy to be a wish made at this moment. He just wishes he would have dried his hair before stepping out. Though, he reckons wishes don’t work for changing matters that are already in the past.

It only lasts a second. It doesn’t take longer for a thought to be born, and to be tucked away in the folder for aspirations, forgotten but not really.

He gazes at Baekhyeon. His countenance is stern, his eyes are closed, lashes fluttering.

There is shimmer on his lids. He knows it can’t be, but Sehun entertains the thought of it being natural, for his skin to actually be dusted with glitter. For a person like this man, who acts and speaks like this, he doesn’t find it that unlikely.

Then those dazzling lids fitter open.

“What did you wish for?”

Is this too personal to ask a stranger, Sehun wonders right after he says it as Baekhyeon stills.

“You know I’m not supposed to say. It won’t come true anymore.” It’s cutesy talk. All the terminations rounded, abridged. Sass.

Sehun relaxes, another titter simmering in his chest.

“But!” Baekhyeon exclaims. “You’re kinda the main character of my wish so…”

“So?” Wonder gnaws at Sehun now.

“I wished you were as good of a boyfriend as you are of a kisser.”

Sehun gapes.

“I thought a lot about this line.” Grimace. Pout. Awkward smile. All in rapid succession. “Is it lame? Super lame? Shall I go? Run?”

And then he waits. Expectant. Sehun has never had someone look so earnestly at him. Such truthful eyes.

“Why me? You don’t know me.”

For the first time, it seems Baekhyeon is catching on the peculiarity of the situation. The ridiculousness.

Given this quality, Sehun doesn’t expect any sort of elaborate reasoning. But something. Anything. What prompted Baekhyeon to even ask in the first place.

“I just thought you were beautiful.”

Sehun, in his holy pyjamas, and frozen poodle hair. He raises an eyebrow.

“You are pretty damn beautiful. And I like the hair. And you seem…kind. You’ve let your hand freeze for me.”

The feeling hasn’t completely flown back into it, Sehun notices now. “Oh,” he mouths.

But they have shared a kiss (or two) that felt unbelievably intimate. And there must be some worth in that.

“I don’t know how good I am at boyfriend-ing,” Sehun replies, recalling the query hinted in his wish.

“We could go somewhere. Right now. Or tomorrow. But preferably right now? To find out, I mean.”

Nervousness, everywhere on him.

“I actually have another batch of laundry to hang. The program of the machine must be over by now,” Sehun responds after a stretch.

That sounds like a no. Like rejection. And/or utter disinterest.

“You can come help me hang it though?” Sehun rushes. This isn’t flirting. It’s as though they’re over the flirting, no more charming needs to be done, and drifting into that gauzy stage where attraction reigns and makes them too stupid and too wanting. Baseless as it is, Sehun deems that this instant, crippling fascination can bloom into something. A tryst, a friendship, a love. Hopefully.

“I have toffees. At home,” he babbles on, when Baekhyeon remains still.

“Toffees?”

“The candies. It’s why I tasted sweet.”

A blush. That is a true blush, not a side effect of the cold. It glides over the bridge of his nose, and to the apples of his cheeks. Sehun reels, his heart doing a little…something that it shouldn’t be doing, but that he also doesn’t want to stop from doing.

“So you’ll give me toffees if I help you hang the laundry?”

That seems good enough of a start. Of a build.

Sehun offers his hand, and Baekhyeon takes it. He only now sees, just how beautiful of a hand it is, lissom, and manicured, tended to, and he’s hit with curiosity, as to what do these hands do on a daily basis, what does this man do on a daily basis, how is it possible for a smile to be so bright, a tongue so witty.

“It’s a long walk,” Sehun says. It’s too much to hold hands for their level of acquaintanceship – which is basically non-existent. So they give a finger each, the pointers, and they cork together, fall between them, covered by their sleeves while the rest of the hand is fisted inside.

“To the toffees!” Baekhyeon exclaims, marching ahead, cutting through a blazing, animated city, Sehun after him.

To think that Sehun really only came here for the fireworks.