Sehun's with a new family this time, a Korean family, and Sehun likes it better than any of the foster homes he's been in before, because having rice in the mornings for breakfast makes it easier for him to close his eyes and pretend he's eight again, eating his mother's cooking, and because hearing Korean conversations downstairs as he struggles through his homework is comforting.
Still, he knows better than to expect the easy way he fits into the household to last. It's started out well before, but this is his ninth foster home in six years, and he knows better than to expect it to be permanent. He doesn't unpack all of his suitcases.
"You could, you know?" Jongin says to him one day, when he sees Sehun opening up a suitcase to find a dress shirt he hasn't worn in a while, because they're going to church. That one is still dirty from last Sunday, when Jongin had dragged him down to Ktown after services along with Chanyeol, and Chanyeol had spilled kimchi jjigae all over Sehun. "Unpack, I mean. My parents aren't planning on sending you away anywhere."
Sehun shrugs, like he doesn't care, pulling the shirt out and trying to smooth out the creases. It might be a hopeless cause, so he gives up. He's still getting used to this going to church thing, but some of the other guys their age show up in polos. Jongin's mother is stricter than that, and insists on clean dress shirts, even in the summer. "I just don't like to unpack," he says, after a silence that's a beat too long.
Jongin hums thoughtfully, before flopping onto Sehun's bed, making a bigger mess out of the covers. "By the way," he says, rolling over onto his back as Sehun buttons up his shirt, "you finally get to meet Joonmyun-hyung today. He's coming into town for a business trip, or something, and mom insisted on him staying here." Jongin smiles, a huge pleased grin. "I hope you don't mind, but I'm gonna crash in here with you so he can have my room."
Sehun blinks in surprise, his hands stilling on the top button. Jongin is always talking about Joonmyun. He'd been Jongin's parents' first foster child, and Jongin idolizes him. Joonmyun-hyung this and Joonmyun-hyung that. Sehun imagines some six and a half foot tall super hero, sometimes, when Jongin's talking about him. "It's your house," Sehun replies. "Sleep where you want."
"It's your house too," says Jongin, insistently. He scratches at his stomach. "You haven't done up all the buttons on your shirt. You trying to seduce the pastor's daughter, or what?" He laughs. "I don't think you're her type. She's liked the bearded, Viggo Mortensen-looking guys since the sixth grade."
The pastor's daughter isn't Sehun's type, either. That's what had gotten him kicked out of his last home, and now he's learned better than to mention it. "Are you wearing that to church, then?" Sehun asks, to change the subject, and Jongin looks down at himself, still dressed in his bunny rabbit patterned briefs and a sleeveless undershirt. "Not that the rabbits aren't sexy, but that might be a bit rated for services."
Jongin throws a pillow at Sehun, and they both laugh until Jongin's oldest sister, who comes and stays every weekend even though she has her own apartment in Brooklyn, peeks her head into the room to get them to hurry up for breakfast.
Later, Sehun and Jongin are playing video games, dress shirts unbuttoned and chip dust around their mouths, when the buzzer goes off, letting them know that someone is downstairs. Jongin drops his controller mid race and lunges for the intercom to see who it is, as Jongin's father looks up from his novel and laughs. "Excited, Jongin?"
When Joonmyun enters the apartment, he is not six and a half feet tall, and he also does not appear to be a super hero. He's shorter than both Sehun and Jongin, and slight. His dark hair is combed neatly, and his cotton T-shirt is tucked into his jeans. Jongin hugs him so tightly that his feet lift slightly off the ground, and Joonmyun chuckles, patting Jongin's back until he gets put down. "You're getting so tall, Jonginnie," he says, and smiles. "Stop growing up so fast."
"Stop going so long between visits, then," Jongin replies, and Joonmyun chuckles again.
"You're right, you're right," Joonmyun says. "It's just that work gets busy, and I live on the west coast, Jongin."
Sehun watches as everyone greets Joonmyun so happily, both of Jongin's sisters as pleased as Jongin is to see him, and Jongin's mom looks like she's going to cry, telling him how handsome he looks. Sehun swallows down jealousy. Joonmyun, he thinks, is a foster kid like Sehun is, only a wanted one. He's smart and good-looking and probably ten times more well-adjusted than Sehun will ever be, and a part of Sehun thinks it really isn't fair.
But then Joonmyun turns his attention to Sehun. Sehun feels self-conscious, under the scrutiny, about the potato chips at the corners of his mouth and the sweaty fall of his bleached hair and the wrinkled mess that is his dress shirt. "And you must be Sehun," says Joonmyun. His voice is surprisingly nice, and he is handsome. Sehun, embarrassingly, feels a stir of attraction in his gut as Joonmyun continues speaking. "I've heard a lot about you." When Sehun doesn't reply, he switches to English. "Can you understand me?"
"I understand," Sehun says, standing up so he can bow. "Sorry, I've heard a lot about you too. Jongin talks about you a lot."
"Only good things, I hope," says Joonmyun, and then his smile gets bigger. "It's nice to meet you."
"You too," Sehun says, looking down at the ground instead of at Joonmyun's kind smile.
Sehun spends most of dinner that night listening to Joonmyun talk, about his job and about the LA weather and about how even New York traffic is preferable to the highway at rush hour. He likes the way Joonmyun laughs when Jongin's mother asks him about girlfriends, and the way he winks at Jongin when he talks about going to parties. Sehun studies Joonmyun's face, and the softness of his hair, and how the muscles in his arms shift when he takes a bite of his food. It makes his chest feel tight, and Sehun tears his eyes away from their guest in order to focus on the vegetables Jongin's sister had put on his plate because she's noticed he tends to skip them.
As he and Jongin go to sleep that night, smushed together in Sehun's bed because Jongin is clingy and refuses to sleep on the floor, Jongin pokes Sehun's cheek. "Do you not like Joonmyun-hyung?" he asks, and Sehun squints to try and see Jongin's face in the dark.
"You didn't say much," Jongin says. "You don't usually get that quiet at dinner."
"He's nice," Sehun says. "He seems like a cool guy, but..." He licks his lips. "I mean, what do I have to say to some guy in his thirties?"
Jongin laughs. "He's only twenty-eight, Sehun. You and Joonmyun-hyung probably have a lot in common," he says, drowsily, throwing an arm around Sehun's waist. "I know you'll love him as much as I do, someday. He can be your big brother, too."
Someday, Sehun thinks. Jongin always talks like this is forever, and not just another temporary home for Sehun until he's pushed along to the next. It always makes Sehun kind of hopeful, which is a terrible thing, in his experience.
"Maybe," he says, and waits until Jongin falls asleep before he moves to get out of bed again. He wonders, looking down at Jongin in his bed, if Jongin would be so clingy if he knew that Sehun was…
Sighing, Sehun runs a hand through his hair and quietly leaves the bedroom, closing the door carefully before padding his way into the kitchen. He jumps when he finds Joonmyun at the table, typing away on his laptop, his hair wet from the shower and his undershirt damp. "You're up late," Joonmyun says to him. "Can't sleep?"
"No," Sehun says, opening the refrigerator and pulling out the plastic container of apple juice. "It's too hot." He closes the refrigerator door, and turns to the cabinet for a glass. "Do you… want some juice?"
"Sure," Joonmyun says. The typing starts up again as Sehun pours. He sets one plastic cup next to Joonmyun, and stands awkwardly, unsure if it would be a bother if he sits down. "Sit, Sehun, I'm just finishing up an e-mail for work."
"I can go into the living room," Sehun says, hesitating, and Joonmyun looks up at him, raising one eyebrow in a way that's almost… authoritative, and Sehun blushes, pulling out a chair and flopping down into it.
After another minute, Joonmyun closes his laptop and picks up the juice Sehun had poured him, taking a sip. "Don't you have work tomorrow?" he asks. "Jongin said you're a lifeguard?"
"Yeah," Sehun says. "But I'm on the later shift, so I don't have to go in until about one." His voice cracks, and Joonmyun's lips twitch. His arms are so… Sehun looks down at the table. "So I can stay up late."
"I see," Joonmyun says. "I was a lifeguard, too, when I was in high school." Sehun looks up in surprise. "Although I probably didn't catch as many girls' eyes as you do."
"I don't catch any eyes," Sehun says. "Unless people are staring at my hair." He fingers some of the strands that fall into his face.
"Didn't you dye it so that you'd get attention?"
Sehun slumps in his chair. "No," he says. "I dyed it because my last host family thought kids with dyed hair were delinquents." He looks up at the ceiling. "Or something like that."
"Jongin worries about you," Joonmyun says. "He told me that you think you're going to have to leave, and he doesn't know how to convince you that you're not." Sehun's gaze flicks back to Joonmyun, who is now leaning forward, his chin resting in his open hand as he rests his elbow on the table. "I was fourteen when Jongin's family took me in. I was…" Joonmyun grins, his thoughts clearly drifting, "a handful, I guess. They're not the type to give up. Everyone really likes you, too. I've only heard lovely things about you."
"They just don't know the bad stuff, yet," Sehun says, and then regrets it, frowning. He scratches at the back of his neck. "When they do…"
"There can't be anything that bad," Joonmyun says, softly. Sehun snorts, because he knows that's not true.
"You'd think, but I've been kicked out enough that—" He stops himself, licking his lips again. Joonmyun is looking at him softly, and Sehun can feel the surge of attraction again. He hates being sixteen. It makes his body stupid and uncomfortable. "I'm almost eighteen, so…"
Joonmyun narrows his eyes in contemplation. "You might not believe me," he says, "but I know what it's like, wondering if you belong."
"I don't wonder," Sehun says, and Joonmyun straightens up in his chair, his foot tapping against the floor.
"How about I give you my e-mail?" Joonmyun asks, after a moment. "In case you ever want anyone to talk to, I mean."
"You don't even know me," says Sehun, sort of confused. Isn't Joonmyun too busy to worry about some random teenager's problems?
"I want to know you. After all, we're family now, aren't we?"
Sehun wraps his arms around himself, because the kitchen that had seemed too hot is suddenly chilly. "For now."
Joonmyun laughs, a quiet, soothing sound that has Sehun's heart skipping a beat. "I think we'll keep you," he says, in a low, easy voice, and Sehun falls a little bit in love.
"I knew you'd like him," Jongin says one day, when he catches Sehun replying to one of Joonmyun's messages on his phone while they're in the library, AP Bio textbook open even if Sehun hasn't turned the page in ten minutes. They've switched to text messages, because it uses less data on Sehun's limited phone plan. "I think you talk to him more than I do, these days."
"He's okay, I guess," Sehun says, tucking his phone away and returning his attention to his homework. Jongin kicks him under the table. "What?"
"She's looking at you," Jongin says, eyes darting over to where Nari, the pastor's daughter, is sitting with her friends three tables over. "She's been looking all period."
"So?" Sehun asks, and Jongin rolls his eyes.
"I guess you're her type after all," he says, and Sehun laughs awkwardly as nervousness sits heavy in his belly.
"Don't you have Lit homework?" Sehun asks, and Jongin kicks him again. "Stop worrying about other people's love lives."
"I'm not worried," Jongin says. "I know you don't have any game."
"Maybe I don't want to have any game." Sehun looks down at the graph in front of him, not really seeing it. He thinks about just telling Jongin, but then he remembers how much he likes his room, and the way Jongin doesn't think twice about falling on top of him when they play video games, and he seals the words up. "I have other things to worry about."
"Like what?" Jongin asks, staring wistfully at Nari's friend, a pretty brunette whose name Sehun can't recall, but whom Jongin's been crushing on for the past two weeks. Sehun will learn her name again if Jongin keeps liking her.
"Like AP Bio," Sehun says, and his phone vibrates again, with another message from Joonmyun. Work hard in school, Sehunnie, it says, and Sehun smiles to himself, all the while telling his stomach to quit with the butterflies.
"You've gotten so much taller, Sehunnie," he says, and Sehun laughs, and lets Joonmyun hug him just like he hugged Jongin. "Still here, I see." He whispers it into Sehun's ear, and Sehun shivers as Joonmyun's breath ghosts across his neck.
"Still here," Sehun replies. It's strange, how fast time passes. He's gotten used to this apartment, to Jongin waking him up in the morning. Jongin's mother ruffles his hair when he sits at the table for breakfast, and kisses his forehead. A few months ago, she'd said it was all right if he called her ‘mom', and Sehun's been testing it out in his head since then, but he hasn't said it yet.
"Didn't I tell you?" Joonmyun says, pulling back and looking Sehun up and down. "I think we'll keep you."
Sehun stays up late that night, after everyone else has gone to bed. This time, he's prepared to find Joonmyun in the kitchen, working, and he sits down in the seat next to him. Being with Joonmyun in person, after all their long conversations via e-mail and text and every once in a while over Skype, with Jongin's arms over his shoulders as they use his sister's laptop since neither Jongin or Sehun have their own.
"Still staying up way past bedtime?" Joonmyun asks, and Sehun rubs his hands up and down the front of his thighs, over the logo on his sweatpants.
"It's Christmas vacation," Sehun replies. "I don't have a bedtime." He looks at Joonmyun's profile, and suddenly Sehun's reminded of how attractive Joonmyun is. It's worse, even, Sehun thinks, because Joonmyun's personality is just as good as the way he looks, and Sehun had been able to put it out of his mind when Joonmyun was in California, but now, with Joonmyun fresh from the shower next to him, it's all rushing back.
"How are college applications going?" asks Joonmyun, still looking at his computer screen, and Sehun furrows his eyebrows. "Did you want me to look over any of your essays?"
"I've got it," Sehun says. "It's Jongin you need to worry about, since his grades suck."
"But yours don't," Joonmyun says, finally looking up at Sehun and smiling. He seems almost proud, and Sehun can feel all his blood rushing to his face.
"I don't have the fallback Jongin has."
"Yes, you do," Joonmyun says, putting a hand on Sehun's shoulder. The heat of his hand seeps through Sehun's thin shirt, and Sehun wishes he didn't feel this way about someone so completely unattainable. His throat dry, he leans into Joonmyun's touch.
"I applied to a couple of schools in and around Los Angeles," he says, changing the subject. "Maybe we'll be neighbors."
Surprised, Joonmyun grins at him. "I could finally take you to that fusion restaurant I've been telling you about."
"It wouldn't bother you?" Sehun asks. "Hanging out with a teenager?" His palms are sweaty.
"You're not just any teenager," says Joonmyun. "You're Sehun Oh, aren't you?" Joonmyun speaks just how he types: gentle, encouraging, calm. Sehun thinks he could spend forever, talking to Joonmyun. It would be nice, maybe, if he didn't want to kiss him, but hopefully Sehun will grow out of that in college.
Maybe he'll grow out of liking men entirely, but he doesn't have much hope for that.
"You'll be fine without me," Sehun says. He picks up a picture frame from his bedside table. It's a photo of himself, Jongin, and Chanyeol, from earlier this summer, when they'd driven out to the Jersey shore and spent eight days underage drinking and getting sunburn after graduation. "You'll have Chanyeol, after all."
"But will you be okay without me?" Jongin asks. "How will you anti-socially spend all day playing video games without me to enable you?"
"I'm sure I'll manage," Sehun says. "Besides, I'll…" It seems surreal to even say it, but— "I'll be home for winter break, and it'll be so much fun."
"I'm going to miss you," Jongin says, as Sehun tucks the photo in between two sweatshirts in his open suitcase. Jongin plucks at the zipper. "Joonmyun was my first brother, but you're my age, you know? So it's different."
"Yeah," Sehun says. He blows his hair out of his face. It's black now, the dye having long grown out and been cut away. He doesn't have anything to prove, lately. "You know I…" Too sappy, so he won't say it.
"Me too," Jongin says, grinning as he hugs Sehun's pillow. "Maybe I'll come visit you, sometime."
"That would be great," Sehun says, and if his voice cracks, neither of them mention it.
"Probably," Sehun says, and he does his best not to blush when Joonmyun grabs his wrist to lead him to the car, his fingers burning where they touch.
One night he drags Sehun out to a sorority party that Sehun still doesn't understand how Baekhyun has gotten an invite to. "I need a wingman," Baekhyun tells him seriously. "And it's a Saturday, so you don't have classes tomorrow." Sehun agrees to go, sliding into skinny jeans and letting Baekhyun talk him into a shirt with a low scooped neck that he hides under his jacket as they walk through campus.
A girl takes an interest in him about forty minutes after they get there, and Baekhyun keeps hinting that Sehun should talk to her, should dance with her, but Sehun resists. Eventually, after more drinks than either of them should have had, Baekhyun gets sucked into the crowd of people dancing, pressed up close to a girl Sehun has seen around with him before. Sehun takes the opportunity to escape the pulsing crowd and the gaze of that girl, and hides in the bathroom on the third floor instead, locking the door and pulling out his phone.
He texts Joonmyun. Parties aren't that fun, he writes, and Joonmyun replies quickly Just be safe, Sehunnie followed by a heart emoticon, and Sehun smiles down at his phone, relaxing for the first time since he got here. There's a knock on the door, and Baekhyun's voice calls in. "You alive in there?" he asks, and Sehun unlocks the door. "You know, it's bad form to keep a bathroom during a party."
Sehun laughs, his phone vibrating in his hands. Joonmyun again. Do you need me to pick you up? He types back an I'm fine, hyung before he looks up at Baekhyun. "Is it?"
"Yeah," Baekhyun says. "I thought you might be puking, which is why I came looking for you, but you've got a pretty good alcohol tolerance for a nerdy shut-in."
"Are you sure we're friends?" Sehun replies, and Baekhyun chuckles.
"So, running from the party or running from that girl?" asks Baekhyun, and Sehun winces.
"Both?" he replies, and then he pushes a hand through his hair. "I don't know. I just don't want to lead her on."
"There are other girls," Baekhyun says, and Sehun licks his lips.
Baekhyun pulls at the collar of his shirt, revealing a stripe of sweaty collarbone, and Sehun's drunk enough to say: "I'm more likely to want you than any girl." He slaps his hand over his mouth as his brain catches up, and suddenly he feels like he's going to be sick.
Baekhyun's lips part, in shock, but then he grins. "Not surprising," he says, squatting down next to Sehun and patting his back. "I am the best UCLA has to offer."
Sehun rolls his eyes, his stomach slowly unknotting, and the urge to throw up passes. "Baekhyun, please," he says, and Baekhyun laughs.
"For the record, I don't give a fuck if you like boys," he says. "More ladies for me."
Make sure you text me when you get home, says another text from Joonmyun, and Sehun can taste the beer at the back of his throat.
Joonmyun insists on taking Sehun out to dinner to celebrate, and as they sit across from each other at that fusion restaurant Joonmyun had told Sehun so much about, Sehun wonders if it's normal to have a crush that lasts three years and never seems to get any less consuming.
"You were so good, Sehunnie," Joonmyun says. "You're growing up so much." He grins, and puts his hand over Sehun's, and Sehun knows he'll never, ever be grown up enough to have what he really wants with Joonmyun.
"The school scheduling gods must have known I needed an extra week to come down here and find you a date," Jongin says, gently teasing.
"Oh, speaking of," Baekhyun says, "Zitao, that guy you think is hot from my taekwondo club, is definitely interested. He's been fishing for your number all week." Sehun's pencil falls out of his hand, the problem in front of him going blurry as his whole body tenses up. "So if you really want a date…"
"Why would Sehun..." Jongin starts, and when Sehun looks over, whatever he sees in Sehun's face makes him stop talking.
"Oh, fuck," Baekhyun says. "Sehun, I'm so sorry, I thought—"
"You're gay?" Jongin asks, his voice higher and louder than usual. "Since when?"
"Since always," Sehun says, pushing his chair back and lunging for the door. He walks out into the hallway, and Jongin follows him, grabbing the back of his shirt to keep him from running. Sehun doesn't want to have this conversation in the hallway, because he doesn't want everyone on their floor to hear Jongin tell Sehun he can't be his brother, after all, and--
Jongin lightly pushes Sehun into the wall. "Why didn't you say anything?" Jongin doesn't look angry, he just looks confused. "I mean, all through high school—" He laughs, a little wildly, "I guess the pastor's daughter really wasn't the girl for you, huh?"
"Why do you think I got kicked out of my last foster home?" Sehun looks up at Jongin through his hair. Jongin stares back at him. "It was better not to say anything, so I could stay."
"We'd never kick you out over something like that," Jongin says. "Are you kidding?"
"Wouldn't have been the first time," Sehun says, and Jongin hugs him. "Can I still—"
"Can you still what?" Jongin asks, voice muffled by Sehun's shoulder.
"Go home for Christmas," Sehun says, and Jongin squeezes him tighter.
"Of course you can," Jongin says. "Mom and Dad won't even care, Sehun, it's not… Hey, no one's kicking you out of the family, okay? You can unpack."
"Okay," Sehun says. "Okay."
Baekhyun apologizes about five hundred times to Sehun later, and Sehun forgives him, still not quite sure he believes that Jongin's really all right with Sehun being gay. But Jongin doesn't treat him any differently, and still sleeps in Sehun's bed, and still falls into Sehun when they play video games, and Sehun doesn't know how he got so lucky after so long being the unluckiest kid of all.
He turns to check on Jongin, to see if he's asleep too, but Jongin is awake, and he's watching Sehun and Joonmyun with careful eyes. There's something painfully like realization there, in his expression, and Sehun can feel himself flushing a deep red under the scrutiny, averting his eyes and instead looking down at the way Joonmyun's fingers look wrapped around Sehun's forearm.
"You like hyung, don't you?" Jongin asks, that night, as Sehun dries his hair after his shower. Jongin is brushing his teeth, and he spits out his toothpaste, rinsing his mouth before he continues. "You've always liked him, huh?"
Sehun looks at his feet instead of at Jongin. "I…" It's weird, Sehun thinks, to say it aloud. His crush on Joonmyun was always supposed to go away, but it hasn't. Sometimes he forgets about it, but then he sees Joonmyun again, or gets a text, and it all comes rushing back. "I can't talk about it."
"All right," Jongin says, and doesn't mention it again until much later, when he sleeps in Sehun's room because Joonmyun has taken his. "I told you he was great, though, didn't I?"
"He also thinks of me as a child," Sehun replies. "It's not a big deal."
"You always say things aren't a big deal," says Jongin, but he throws an arm back across Sehun's waist, as if nothing's changed from when they were sixteen, and Sehun takes a deep breath.
"This time I mean it," Sehun says, and he wants it to be true.
"Sorry, Sehunnie," says Joonmyun, but he doesn't sound very sorry at all. "I couldn't resist."
"I'm an adult, now," Sehun says quietly, and Joonmyun laughs, not taking him seriously at all. Sehun puts his sandwich down. "Not a child."
"I know," says Joonmyun, but he pats Sehun's hand, and Sehun doesn't think he really does.
He has sex for the first time at the beginning of his sophomore year, with a blue-eyed boy who calls him "baby" and fingers Sehun like he thinks Sehun's going to break. Sehun doesn't break, though, not then. He does, though, say the wrong name when he comes, but Blue-Eyes doesn't notice.
"I broke up with him," Sehun tells Baekhyun the next day, when Baekhyun asks how his date went last night, with waggling eyebrows and a lecherous smile.
"No good in bed?" Baekhyun says, after a pause, and Sehun shrugs, noncommittally. "Or just not your middle-aged boyfriend?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
Baekhyun smirks at him. "That guy you're always texting, who picks you up on the weekends and takes you out to dinner."
"My…" Sehun wets his lips. "He's my foster brother."
"Oh," Baekhyun says. "I thought Jongin only had two sisters."
"He does," says Sehun. "Joonmyun is like me. Jongin's family took him in, a long time ago, the same way they took me in."
"You don't look at him like he's your brother." Baekhyun throws an arm over Sehun's shoulders. "I'm just saying."
"It's complicated," Sehun says, "but he thinks I'm a child."
"A child who is going to go out clubbing with me tonight, am I right?" Baekhyun pulls him in closer. "We have to celebrate your break up."
"Is that the sort of thing you celebrate?" Sehun asks, and Baekhyun laughs.
"It is today," he replies, and Sehun goes along with it, because he really could use a drink, and maybe forget what it felt like, imagining it was Joonmyun fucking him open with three fingers and pressing kisses to the column of his throat.
He drinks enough that night that his hangover lasts for two whole days.
It can't be normal, he thinks, to give your heart to someone when you're sixteen, and then let them keep it. It can't be normal, he thinks, to get happier about a text from Joonmyun than he gets about a kiss from whomever his current boyfriend is. It can't be normal, but it's Sehun's reality, and it's a good thing Sehun's used to hiding his heart away because sometimes he thinks it's impossible that Joonmyun doesn't know, when Sehun calls him late at night from a party, drunk and just wanting to hear his voice. "Do you want me to come pick you up?" Joonmyun always asks, so gently, so warmly, and sometimes, Sehun wants to say "yes," but he's scared that if he's drunk, he might reach out and bury his hands in Joonmyun's hair and kiss him, and that, he knows, would ruin everything.
"Who would like you?" Chanyeol asks. "What kind of taste is that?"
"Fuck you, Chanyeol," Sehun says. He'd come out to Chanyeol over spring break, and Chanyeol had just shrugged and told him he'd sucked a dick once freshman year. Jongin had shoved him and said it wasn't the same thing, and Chanyeol had jokingly replied "how do you know?" and leered at Jongin.
"No thanks," Chanyeol replies. "I'm saving my ass-virginity for Jongin—" Jongin tackles him, and the conversation ends there, leaving Sehun without a solution.
Ultimately, it's when he's talking to Joonmyun on the phone, walking to the pool for his lifeguard shift, that he's offered a solution. "Why don't you just live with me?" Joonmyun asks, and Sehun stops in the middle of the sidewalk, earning the ire of a couple of joggers coming toward him with their dogs.
"Because that would be a slow torture," Sehun should say, but instead he fumbles out a "really?"
"Yes, really," Joonmyun says. "We're family, right?"
"Right," Sehun says.
Mom thinks it's a great idea, when he tentatively mentions it to her, but Jongin doesn't. Sehun can tell by the way he pouts, his eyes dropping into that sleepy expression he assumes when he's worrying about something.
"Are you sure that'll be okay?" Jongin asks, when everyone else has gone to bed and it's just the two of them playing video games in the living room. Sehun shoots a zombie in the face, and then makes his character hide behind a truck. "Living with hyung?"
"It has to be, doesn't it?" Sehun asks, and Jongin pauses the game so he can gather Sehun up into a hug that secretly, Sehun's been craving since Joonmyun had proposed the whole thing.
"I don't want you to be sad," Jongin says.
"It's just a stupid crush," Sehun says. He always says that. He's determined that one day, it'll be true. "It's nothing to worry about."
Joonmyun in the morning is an unkempt mess, with wild hair and sleepy eyes and creases from his pillow on his cheek, and Sehun thinks he's most beautiful like that, especially because as soon as he sees Sehun, his face breaks into a gorgeous smile that leaves Sehun feeling completely winded.
Joonmyun is not perfect. Living with him, Sehun learns that Joonmyun never does his laundry, leaving it in piles in random places all over the apartment, and that Joonmyun is a mediocre cook, completely capable of using the rice cooker but completely incapable of stir-frying anything.
All the tiny imperfections, though, are overshadowed by the way Joonmyun always sits next to Sehun at the table as Sehun does his homework, smiling whenever Sehun looks over at him and winking, or the way Joonmyun brings home take-out on Thursdays because he knows Sehun has dance practice. There's Joonmyun leaning into him when they watch television, just close enough to set Sehun's nerve endings aflame, but never close enough for him to drop his arms over Joonmyun's shoulders like he really wants to.
Sometimes, Sehun thinks Joonmyun is watching him, and sometimes, when Joonmyun pats Sehun's thigh, his hand stays just a moment too long, but that's all probably Sehun's overactive imagination.
Sehun gets daring, occasionally, resting his head in Joonmyun's lap as they spend a Friday night watching a movie, and Joonmyun will card his fingers through Sehun's hair, twisting the strands around his fingers. On those nights, Sehun thinks his heart might well beat its way out of his chest.
Other nights, Joonmyun does his workouts in the living room, and his skin, flushed and sweaty as he pants, fuels Sehun's fantasies, and he thinks about it as he touches himself, dragging his fingers in slow circles around his rim as his other hand drags precome down his shaft. He comes to Joonmyun's voice in his head, Sehunnie, and then lets the guilt and the hopelessness of it lull him to sleep as the come dries on his stomach.
And some nights… some nights they do the dishes together, Joonmyun's arm brushing Sehun's as he hands him wet dishes, and Sehun dries them, putting them away, and tries not to get distracted by how much he likes Joonmyun's hands, or the jut of his Adam's apple when he laughs.
"Sehunnie, I insist you stop growing," Joonmyun says, one evening, when Sehun reaches over him to put his favorite mug on the top shelf in the kitchen cabinet where he can't reach. "This is getting ridiculous."
"Of course, hyung," Sehun says, "I'll stop growing just for you."
Joonmyun laughs as Sehun reaches up to put another ceramic cup on the top shelf, but his laugh peters out as Sehun stretches to push the mug back further on the shelf. "You're even outgrowing your shirts," he says, his voice dropping a little deeper, and then his hand is on Sehun's stomach.
Hyperaware of how close Joonmyun is standing, Sehun can only hold his breath as Joonmyun's fingers skim along his abs, dipping into his navel and dancing along the elastic of Sehun's boxers. "Hyung?"
It breaks the moment, and Joonmyun's whole body tenses before Sehun sees him visibly force himself to relax.
"You should," and here, Joonmyun swallows, tugging on the hem of Sehun's shirt, covering his belly, "buy clothes that fit you." He looks away, and Sehun notices his neck is red. He's never seen Joonmyun uncomfortable like this, and Sehun steps back, lowering his arms, away from the intoxicating smell of Joonmyun's cologne and the warmth of him.
"Yeah," Sehun says, "I know."
Sehun knows Joonmyun's eyes linger on him as he leaves the kitchen, and Sehun locks himself in his bedroom, feeling all tied up in knots. He curls up in the center of his bed, and scrunches his eyes closed. He wants to call Jongin, but years of practice at keeping confusion to himself make it hard for him to reach for the phone.
Things aren't awkward, the next day. Joonmyun goes on like it had never happened, or like he'd never let his fingers skate across the skin of Sehun's stomach and leave fire in their wake.
But Sehun can't forget it. It haunts him, and at the oddest moments, he thinks about it.
"I need to get over him," Sehun says to Baekhyun, over popcorn chicken and boba, and Baekhyun loudly slurps up a tapioca pearl before he replies.
"Your middle aged not-brother boyfriend?" asks Baekhyun. "There's a party this weekend."
"What's that supposed to do?" Sehun asks, dragging Baekhyun's homework toward himself to check it over. The first four answers on his Korean worksheet are wrong, and Sehun sighs. "I just… I need to stop wanting."
"The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else," Baekhyun says. "Right?"
"It's never worked before." Sehun takes a sip of his milk tea. "You're going to fail first year Korean again, by the way, if these answers are anything to go by."
"If I don't graduate next year," Baekhyun replies, "that's one more year of parties." The smile drops from his face, and his mood gets more serious. "Seriously, Sehun, come out with me. You've been spending all your time with Joonmyun, and not enough time being a regular college student. Maybe if you come out and have fun, you'll find someone else you like?"
Sehun knows it's good advice, but he also knows that until he figures out how to reclaim the chunk of his heart Joonmyun had laid claim to so long ago, he's not going to be able to give it to anyone else.
"Is everything okay?" Joonmyun asks him over breakfast the week after Thanksgiving, and Sehun, hungover and slightly nauseated, nods.
"Fine," Sehun says. "Absolutely fine."
Joonmyun walks over to him, and lays his hand on Sehun's forehead. It's cool, and feels so nice that Sehun closes his eyes and leans into it. Dragging his hand down, Joonmyun cups Sehun's cheek, and when Sehun opens his eyes again, Joonmyun is closer than he expects, his eyes fixed on Sehun's face. "When did you get so handsome, Sehunnie?" he says, almost to himself, and Sehun feels a wave of heat crash over him. Joonmyun seems to realize what he's said, and drops his hand, moving away. "Are your studies going all right?"
"‘A's in everything," Sehun says gruffly, standing up from the kitchen table, wanting to get away from the feelings bubbling up inside him, and knowing he can't. He'll settle for getting away from the cause of them. "Don't worry."
"Of course I worry about you, Sehunnie," Joonmyun murmurs, and Sehun leaves before he can hear Joonmyun call him family.
The weekend before Christmas break, Sehun gets absolutely trashed at Baekhyun's frat house. He gets separated from their friends, and winds up in the back yard, staring out at nothing and feeling empty and lonely, the way he always ends up feeling at parties.
Without thinking, he calls Joonmyun. "Sehunnie?" Joonmyun asks, answering after only two rings, and Sehun hiccups into the phone.
"Hyung," he says, "will you come and get me?"
It takes Joonmyun only fifteen minutes to drive to where Sehun is. Sehun sends Baekhyun a text even as the screen blurs, unable to be sure he's hitting the right letters, just i'm going home, and then slips his phone into his pocket. Joonmyun has to help him get into his car, buckling Sehun in and running hands through his hair.
"Why are you this drunk?" Joonmyun asks, as he drives. "Why would you drink this much?"
"So I can forget," Sehun says, resting his forehead against the cool window. Outside, it's California-cold, which means nothing to a New York City kid like Sehun, but with the alcohol it feels like summer. "Bad tasting brainwashing."
"What are you trying to forget?" Joonmyun asks. Sehun turns to look at him with bleary eyes. Joonmyun has on his worried face, his lips curled down and his brow all furrowed, and Sehun wants to smooth it away, with his hands and with his mouth and with his heart.
"You," Sehun says, and Joonmyun's eyes dart over to him, and Sehun drops his gaze to Joonmyun's mouth. "How much I want to kiss you."
"Shit," Joonmyun says, and Sehun's never heard Joonmyun swear before, but it makes him close his eyes. "Shit, Sehun, you…" Sehun turns to look out the window again, biting down on a lip he can barely feel, numb with alcohol, his chest so tight and heavy. He's dizzy, too, and maybe he shouldn't watch the dotted lines on the road because they're making his stomach twist. "I didn't even know you were gay."
"She hit me when she found out," Sehun slurs. "The foster mom before Mom. Told my social worker I wasn't normal." He laughs, bitterly. "So I kept it to myself, mostly, until college. Until Baekhyun outed me to Jongin."
"Do Mom and Dad know?" Joonmyun asks, and Sehun hums.
"Told them the summer after freshman year," Sehun says. "They… they didn't care." He fists his hands in his coat. The wool is soft in his hands, or maybe it isn't, and Sehun's just too drunk to know what soft is anymore. "They didn't care?"
"How long…" Joonmyun pauses, and the silence lets Sehun focus on stopping the ringing in his ears. "How long have you felt…" Joonmyun's voice is so strained, and Sehun thinks about Joonmyun's hands in his hair and Joonmyun doing the dishes with him and Joonmyun smiling at Sehun and offering his e-mail, when Sehun was just a stranger his parents had brought home.
The car stops, and Sehun realizes they're back at the apartment.
"Always," Sehun says. "Hyung, always." Then Sehun opens the door, and throws up on the street.
Sehun is smart, and he has never been reckless, even when he felt his most rebellious, and he has, most of the time, left all of his feelings packed up in his suitcases along with his clothes and the things from his first life that he can't live without, knowing that eventually he'd have to move along.
His love for Joonmyun is the toothbrush he's left in the bathroom instead of putting it back into the toiletries bag he keeps everything else in, and it's his favorite sweatshirt across the back of one of the chairs in the kitchen. It's one or two articles of longing left in odd places, and Sehun wants to put them back into his suitcase but he can't, because they're too big, too much for his suitcase to hold.
Twelve years' difference in their age feels like nothing in the face of that, for Sehun, but as he throws up into the toilet, he knows Joonmyun isn't going to think the same, even if he was attracted to Sehun at all in the first place.
Joonmyun is beside him with a wet washcloth as Sehun empties his stomach again and again, pressing the cool cloth to his face. His other hand rubs soothing circles into Sehun's back. "You're still touching me," Sehun says, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, and Joonmyun's hand stills.
"You aren't feeling well," Joonmyun says, quietly. "I want to take care of you."
"Because I'm family, right?" Sehun rasps, and then he throws up again.
He wakes up in the morning feeling like he's been run over by a truck. He's tucked into bed, in just his boxers, and there's a bottle of Gatorade on his nightstand, along with three green Liqui-Gel tablets, and he remembers.
"Fuck," he says, and winces as his own voice rattles around in his head.
Joonmyun isn't home, when Sehun finally leaves his room. The apartment is empty, and judging by the coffee in the coffee-maker, Joonmyun had left hours ago. Checking his phone, Sehun finds three texts from Baekhyun, but none of them are important.
Sehun feels more human after a shower. The smell of vomit is finally gone, and he can untangle his hair with his fingers. He leaves the bathroom, and stops in his tracks when he sees Joonmyun waiting in the living room, sitting on the arm of the couch, staring out at nothing. He looks exhausted, the red of his sweater emphasizing how sleepy and washed out he looks. The plum colored circles under his eyes and the paleness of his usually pink mouth have Sehun's lungs stinging, because he knows it's his fault.
He clears his throat, and Joonmyun jerks back to the now, gaze shifting to fix on Sehun. His eyes widen, and Sehun is suddenly conscious of his nudity, just a towel around his waist. He can feel a drop of water drip from his hair to his shoulder, and then down, catching in his clavicle. Joonmyun seems to follow it, and then continue past it, down from Sehun's chest to his stomach and then immediately darting back up up, licking his lips.
In anyone else, Sehun would think… But then Joonmyun frowns, and those thoughts abandon Sehun to make room for guilty ones. "Thank you for picking me up last night," he says, "and taking care of me."
"You should never, ever drink that much," says Joonmyun.
"I know," Sehun says, looking away. "It won't happen again." He swallows. "I learned my lesson."
"I shouldn't be so hard on you," Joonmyun says, and Sehun's not sure if Joonmyun's talking more to Sehun or to himself, since he's so quiet. "You're just a college kid, I shouldn't expect—"
"I'm not a kid," Sehun says, clearly, and Joonmyun flinches back. Sehun lowers his voice and repeats himself. "I'm not a kid, hyung."
"You are to me," Joonmyun replies, and he finally looks right into Sehun's eyes. "You're a kid to me, Sehunnie."
Sehun gets the message loud and clear. A part of him is thankful that Joonmyun isn't going to bring it up, isn't going to reject Sehun directly, but the rest of Sehun is too busy shattering to be grateful. "Okay," he says, stepping back. One foot at a time, until he's in his bedroom. He locks the door with shaking hands. His breath is coming so fast. He doesn't realize he's crying until his vision starts to blur, and he lies down on his bed, face down.
The only thing worse than his hangover, he thinks, is his heartbreak.
As he lies there, his hands fisted in his covers and his body wracked with quiet sobs, Sehun tries to take each and every memory of Joonmyun from the past four years and fold it up, but there are too many of them, and he gives it up as a lost cause.
On the plane, Joonmyun is careful not to let their arms touch, even as he smiles at Sehun and says all the same things, and Sehun misses the heat of his touch, and the way Joonmyun's hair tickles his chin when he falls asleep on Sehun's shoulder.
Joonmyun's poker face is even better than Sehun's, it turns out, because Joonmyun can smile and smile even as he freezes Sehun completely out.
Jongin takes one look at Sehun when he and Joonmyun show up at the apartment, and pulls Sehun into his room, talking loudly about a new 3DS game he's gotten until the door closes, and then he's pulling Sehun into a hug and letting him take quick, panicked breaths into his shoulder.
"He found out," Sehun says. "Or, well, I was really drunk and I told him, and now everything is ruined."
"It wasn't just a crush, was it?" Jongin asks, and Sehun's body shakes but he won't cry about this again, not even with Jongin.
"I guess not," Sehun says.
The second day of vacation, Jongin goes with Sehun to Chinatown to bleach his hair. Mom gasps when they walk in the door, and immediately goes to fuss with it, making sure it's not dry. "You haven't been blond since you were sixteen," she says. "What prompted this?"
"I don't know," Sehun says, refusing to look in Joonmyun's direction at all. Their sisters gush over it, telling him how handsome he is, when they come over on Christmas Eve, so they can all go to mass together in the morning.
Jongin sticks even closer than usual, over break, which is good because Joonmyun spends as much time as he can as far away from Sehun as he can. Sehun finds happiness in quiet moments with Jongin, and at the movies with Chanyeol, and dodging ice patches on the sidewalk as the three of them walk around Manhattan so that Sehun can buy some cheesy New York souvenir for Baekhyun's growing collection of useless shit Sehun's bought him.
The last day of break, Sehun gets up late to get a drink from the kitchen. He falters when he sees Joonmyun in the kitchen, typing away, but he squares his shoulders and walks in, grabbing the apple juice out of the refrigerator. "Would you like a cup?" he asks, and Joonmyun stumbles over the "yes" when he replies.
"I miss you," Sehun says, and Joonmyun's fingers hover over the keys, before he begins typing again.
"I'm right here, Sehunnie," he says, and in his profile, now, Sehun can see his clenched jaw and his tired eyes and his drawn mouth.
"I'm sorry," Sehun says. "I didn't mean to fall in love with you." Joonmyun exhales, heavily, and Sehun pushes forward. "I thought I'd get over it, but instead, it kept growing." Sehun grabs at his shirt, holding onto it like an anchor as he speaks. Joonmyun is staring at him now, eyes shimmery in the dimly lit kitchen, and he's so handsome. Sehun still feels that curl of attraction, but now it's accompanied by so much more. "Too big for my suitcase."
"You should be interested in boys your own age," Joonmyun says, shakily, as he shuts his laptop. "I'm…"
"You don't think I've tried?" Sehun breaks their gaze, eyes rolling up so he can stare at the ceiling. "Trust me, hyung, I have. I…" He shrugs, with all the apathy he can muster. "But none of them were you."
"I know it's one-sided," Sehun barrels on, because he's not good at talking about emotions, and most of the time, he's not even good at feeling them. "I'm not asking… I just want my hyung back. Not anything else, I know…" He pulls at his newly blond hair, "I've known, from the beginning, that you would never…" The words get caught. "Stop avoiding me. It makes me feel like nothing."
Joonmyun's flinch is a full-bodied one, and when Sehun's eyes flick down, Joonmyun is looking at him with an expression that Sehun can't exactly figure out. "You'll never be nothing to me, Sehun," he says, grabbing Sehun's arm. "I promise." Where his fingers grip, Sehun burns, but he smiles through it, because Joonmyun is looking at him and seeing him, for the first time in weeks. "Didn't I say we'd keep you?"
"Yeah," Sehun says, "you did."
It's the week after his birthday, which he'd spent at a restaurant with Baekhyun on one side and Zitao on the other, Joonmyun across from him and looking at him in a way that had made Sehun's blood boil, even as he'd smiled back. There'd been a cake, and one candle with a twenty-one on it, and Baekhyun had bought him a drink to celebrate finally being old enough not to need a fake ID to go to bars, something flavored like strawberries.
Tonight he'd gone out with Baekhyun to watch a show on campus, and then they'd walked around for a while. "How's it going with Joonmyun?" Baekhyun had asked, and Sehun had ducked his head and said "it's getting better."
It has been. Joonmyun has stopped flinching away when Sehun reaches out to touch him, and even if Sehun hasn't laid his head in Joonmyun's lap in months, Joonmyun's head has rested a time or two on his shoulder.
When he thinks Sehun is not paying attention, Joonmyun will stare at him, eyes heavy, and his gaze settles like molten lava in the pit of Sehun's stomach. Sehun wants to tell him, then, "yes, I'm still in love with you," but wearily, he thinks Joonmyun already knows that, because Sehun can't help but let their fingers brush with reverence when he takes the dishes from Joonmyun's hands to dry them and put them away in the cabinet.
So it's getting better, but it's also, in some ways, staying the same, because Sehun is in love with Joonmyun and Joonmyun thinks Sehun is a child who will learn his lesson.
After Sehun gets home, he goes immediately to his room, shucking his clothes in favor of pajamas. Joonmyun had said he'd be out late tonight, but had volunteered no information about where. Joonmyun is thirty-two, and he's under no obligation to tell Sehun anything, really. Sehun reads a few PDFs for his seminar, alone in Joonmyun's big, quiet apartment, before putting them to the side and turning out the lights.
Joonmyun stumbles into the apartment long after Sehun's gone to bed, and there are two voices, both laughing, and then the sound of kissing. The second voice, the one that doesn't belong to Joonmyun, (and it's a man, of course it is, Sehun thinks, as he closes his eyes, because of course Joonmyun likes men, it's just Sehun he doesn't—) whispers something, and Sehun hears Joonmyun say "we have to keep it down" as the door to Joonmyun's room closes.
There's no mistaking the moans, and what they imply. Sehun hates that the way Joonmyun's voice catches on the word "more" makes him hard, and has him slipping a hand into his boxers to grip his cock. He teases the head as Joonmyun groans, and the mattress squeaks as Sehun slides his thumb across his slit, catching his precome.
Sehun fishes around under his mattress for lubricant when the husky moans rise in volume, quickly slicking his fingers and pushing one inside of himself, slowly, one knuckle then two, as his other hand continues to hurriedly fist his cock. He can't get deep enough, with his own fingers, but it's enough to close his eyes and pretend, then, that Joonmyun is here with him, is whispering in his ear, and not next door doing all that with someone else.
His thighs tighten as he spills all over his hand, a few drops landing on his stomach as the rest of his release drips down his arm, and he scrambles for his phone to access the remote to his stereo, turning on his music so he can drown out the rest of the noise, feeling dirty and sick as he attempts to fall asleep.
"Sorry if I woke you last night," Joonmyun says in the morning as he leans against the counter. His neck is covered in red marks that Sehun hadn't made, and it aches inside of him, so much that Sehun feels like he's going to fall apart. Joonmyun is looking at him with intent, and Sehun realizes, suddenly, that last night wasn't anything more than proving to Sehun that Joonmyun doesn't want him.
"You didn't," Sehun replies, avoiding Joonmyun's eyes. "Don't worry about it."
Sehun already knew that. He hadn't thought Joonmyun had it in him, to be so cruel. The worst thing is, though, that Sehun understands why Joonmyun had done it, had made sure Sehun knew, and so he can't even dredge up enough anger to overpower the resignation.
Baekhyun has no such qualms. "What a tool," he says. "You should go out with a really hot exchange student as revenge. That's what I would do."
"We all know you're my role model, Baekhyun," Sehun replies dryly, and Baekhyun clicks his nails on the table.
"I mean it. It's time to find someone else, Sehun."
"There is no one else."
"There has to be," replies Baekhyun, and he flicks Sehun in the forehead and grins. "You're too hot to mope over your middle-aged not-brother."
"He's only thirty-two," Sehun says, and thinks about the two months where they're only eleven years apart.
On their third date, Yixing smiles at him, his voice low and consoling, and asks him who he's in love with. Sehun spills out the whole story, and Yixing nods and says he understands. Sehun thinks that's the last he'll see of Yixing, but it isn't. Yixing keeps calling, and keeps wanting to spend time with Sehun, even as friends. He becomes, over the next two months, someone Sehun calls up on his own, just because when he feels low, Yixing's smile brightens his day.
"I like him," Baekhyun says, poking Sehun's stomach as they hang out on the terrace at Baekhyun's frat house. "He's nice. You like them nice."
"Then what am I doing spending so much time with you?" Sehun replies, and Baekhyun shoves him as he laughs.
Sehun comes to know Yixing's apartment better than his own. He knows Joonmyun notices, but Joonmyun doesn't bring it up, since Sehun leaves sober and comes back home sober, too. There are words, Sehun thinks, on the tip of Joonmyun's tongue, but they're never allowed to fall out of his mouth, and so the silence between them becomes larger.
Sehun comes home at three AM two days before Joonmyun's birthday. He'd enlisted Yixing to help him pick something out to give him as a gift, and then they'd gone back to Yixing's apartment, where his roommate Jongdae was testing out dessert recipes for some campus fundraising event he was helping out with, and they'd both tasted all of them as they watched a marathon of all the Twilight movies, holding their stomachs and spinning from sugar highs.
Joonmyun is sitting at the kitchen table, his laptop closed, his cheek on the wood. He's asleep, folded forward, and Sehun quietly takes off his shoes. He walks into the living room and grabs a blanket, returning to the kitchen so he can drape it over Joonmyun's shoulders. There's a wrinkle between Joonmyun's brows, and thoughtlessly, Sehun kisses it. It smoothes under the brief touch, and Sehun's heart, which has been slowly trying to patch itself up, breaks all over again. "Silly hyung," Sehun whispers, adjusting the blanket so that it won't fall off when he lets go. "You should sleep in a bed."
Sehun wraps up Joonmyun's present when he gets up the next morning. It's a wallet, because he's noticed that Joonmyun's has frayed, and he watches Joonmyun rub his thumb over the worn out spots when he pulls it out to pay for their takeout delivery on Thursday nights.
He wraps the box messily in purple tissue, and puts it in the gift bag Yixing had insisted on. He's just finishing up when there's a knock on his bedroom door. He quickly puts the bag under his bed, and says "It's unlocked."
"You came home really late last night," says Joonmyun, walking past the door. He sits gingerly on the edge of Sehun's bed. "You come home late a lot these days."
"Yeah," Sehun says. Joonmyun's hair falls across his forehead, and the top two buttons of his dress shirt are undone, revealing pale skin and a slight sheen of sweat, like he always gets when he's been standing over the stove. "I was at Yixing's."
"Who is Yixing?" Joonmyun asks. He looks away from Sehun, his eyes drifting around the room, stopping on the pictures Sehun keeps by his bed. The one from just before college, a snapshot of Baekhyun and Zitao with Sehun in the middle, and a picture of just Sehun and Joonmyun, that was taken when Sehun was nineteen, and Joonmyun had taken Sehun out to the beach for the day. They're both shirtless in the photo, and they both have the beginnings of sunburn on their shoulders and chests. Joonmyun is looking at Sehun and not Sehun's phone camera in the picture, and Sehun can recall, clearly, the way Joonmyun had smelled of salt and sweat as he pressed in close to Sehun so they'd both fit in the frame.
"He's a friend," Sehun says. "A grad student I know. I stayed later than usual because we were taste testing desserts." He tries to put finality in his tone, because he's twenty-one now, and he doesn't owe Joonmyun a play by play of his whereabouts. He wants to, though, when Joonmyun's eyes finally come back to rest on him, pinning him in place as he moves closer, just a little bit. Sehun can feel the heat of him. Joonmyun's thigh muscles shift under the thin silk of his summer suit pants.
"So that's who you've been hanging out with," Joonmyun says. "I'd wondered." Sehun throws his legs over the side of the bed, so he and Joonmyun are sitting side by side. "How old is he?"
Sehun clenches his hands in the bedsheets. "What?"
"How old is your new boyfriend?"Joonmyun says. "You said he's a grad student, so…" He swallows, and Sehun's going to be sick, because it's not fair, that Joonmyun is so close, and Sehun can't grab his face with both hands and kiss him until he stops trying to tear Sehun apart with his words. "Do you have a thing for older guys, or something?" He laughs, a brittle sound, and for a moment, Sehun thinks Joonmyun looks sad, and he hates it.
"Yixing isn't my boyfriend, hyung," he says. "Don't you know why?"
Joonmyun looks at him, really looks, and Sehun looks back. He can see the beginnings of lines at the corners of Joonmyun's eyes, and a touch of gray hair at his left temple, and Sehun, with a certainty he's never had about anything else, knows he'll think Joonmyun is just as handsome when he's fifty, and when he's seventy, because when he looks at Joonmyun, he'll always see his outstretched hand of friendship and the time he gave to Sehun when Sehun was just a lost kid with no idea where he belonged.
Curling his hands into fists in his lap, Sehun lets his shoulders hunch.
"It's because I love you," Sehun says. "I love you."
"You only think you…" Joonmyun reaches out and rests his hand on Sehun's shoulder, and Sehun shrugs him off.
"I love you, even though you think my feelings don't matter and you bring men home to fuck them where I can hear and make sure to remind me I'm family whenever I look at you too long." Joonmyun recoils, and Sehun keeps going. "I wish I didn't love you, because I'm tired of thinking about you every minute of every day and feeling so…" He pulls his legs up so he can wrap his arms around him, like he'd done in his social worker's office when he was eight, as she carefully explained that the first family that had taken him in didn't think he was a good fit for their household. "So trapped," he says. "You think I'm a child but I'm not. I know what I want, but I can't have that, so I'm settling, hyung, for what I can have, and even if Yixing was my boyfriend, you don't have the right to judge me for it."
"Sehunnie," Joonmyun starts, and Sehun takes a shuddering breath, reaching under his bed for the gift bag and throwing it at Joonmyun.
"But if you must know, Yixing isn't my boyfriend. He was just…last night he helped me pick out your birthday present, and I—" Sehun chokes on all the things he wants to say. He leaves the room, grabbing a sweatshirt, and runs straight out of the apartment, snatching his car keys from the hook by the door. He hears Joonmyun following him, calling his name, and Sehun slams the door because he doesn't want Joonmyun to hug him and tell him it's fine, that it'll be okay, because it won't be, not until Sehun can stop feeling so much.
He ends up at Baekhyun's, who takes one look at him before taking him upstairs to his room and locking them both in so no one can bother them for the rest of the night.
It works, somewhat, especially later when Jongin tells Sehun about how Chanyeol has started to camp out in Jongin's dorm room, claiming that he's wooing him, and Sehun laughs for the first time in what feels like forever as Baekhyun asks Jongin if it's working.
Sehun waits until he's sure Joonmyun has gone to work every day to go home and shower and get changes of clothes from the apartment, before class. He doesn't know what he's going to do when finals are over, when he needs to move out.
"Joonmyun-hyung knows I'm here," Jongin says. "I could go over and pack for you."
"I can do it," Sehun says. "I'm not a little kid, and people don't need to coddle me."
"And here I was thinking you were my brother, and I just didn't want to see you cry anymore," Jongin says, and Sehun's chest squeezes and squeezes, collapsing in on itself. "Not that I saw you crying," Jongin adds. "Because I definitely didn't."
"It's okay," Sehun says. "Thank you."
"It's not a big deal. I care about you."
"No, I mean…Thank you for everything, Jongin. Not just now, but… all the time."
"When did you turn into a sap?" asks Jongin. "I thought I was the sappy one."
"Sappy enough to accept Chanyeol's romantic overtures?" Sehun teases, and Jongin blushes, kicking Sehun in the thigh.
Yixing takes him out to dinner the night before his last final. "Are you really okay?"
"I'm just glad it happened at the end of the year," Sehun says. "I don't know what I'll do about next year, or how I'll explain to Mom why I can't live with Joonmyun-hyung again, but…"
"You can live with me," Yixing says. "Jongdae is graduating, and I'll have a free room."
Sehun blinks at him and smiles. "Is that really okay?" he asks, and Yixing nods.
"Absolutely," he says. "Maybe…"
"Maybe, what?" Sehun pokes at his fries with his fork.
"Nothing," Yixing says, and gives him one of those sweet dimpled smiles, and Sehun wishes, not for the first time, that it was easier to move on.
Sehun and Jongin drive out to the coast at Jongin's insistence, taking the I-10. "I should be studying," Sehun says, and Jongin laughs at him.
"I'm not here to watch you study," Jongin says, rolling down the window and pushing his head out like the dog in a Disney movie.
The noise of the pier, with children screaming and the jingles of amusement park rides, fills up all the space in Sehun's head, and for a little while, he forgets how sad he is.
"You feel better, don't you?" Jongin asks, after they descend the steps to the sand, sinking their toes into it and walking. It's not hot, yet, so the walk is comfortable save for the strain in Sehun's thighs that always accompanies walking in sand. Jongin has scooped up two handfuls of it, and lets it stream out between his fingers before dusting his palms against his rolled up jeans. "I knew you would."
"When I heard I was going to be put with such a big family," Sehun says, "I was really scared." He looks out at the water, where a mother is playing with her son. He can barely remember his real mother's face anymore, but maybe that's for the best. "I thought it would just be another situation where I'd be the outsider. It's easy to get lost, when there are a lot of people."
Jongin grabs Sehun's hand and pulls him out toward the water. "And instead…"
"I got you." Sehun shivers as the water laps at his toes. "And Mom and Dad, and two sisters, and a home." He licks his lips. "But I also got Joonmyun-hyung." He walks further out onto wet sand. "Joonmyun-hyung understands what it's like in a way that other people can't, because he's been there." Another wave comes in, and white foam reaches his ankles, this time. "Without him, I'm not sure if everything else would have worked out so well, you know?"
"Yeah," Jongin says. "I was jealous of how much you talked to him, sometimes, when we were younger. Joonmyun-hyung told me I shouldn't be, because you needed him in a different way."
Sehun nods. "I did. I still do, but…It's too hard, Jongin. It's like I'm carrying around lead inside of me instead of organs."
"Gross," Jongin says. "Sounds terrible."
"It is," Sehun says. "Zero out of five stars, do not recommend."
The drive back is quiet. Jongin falls asleep after fifteen minutes on the road, even though he's claimed a million times he doesn't trust Sehun behind the wheel of a car.
Sehun spends the quiet weighing up all the good in his life against all the bad, and the good comes up heavier, as more, even if he's ruined things with Joonmyun forever. He has so many things he'd never thought he'd have, and asking for more had probably been selfish.
Either way, he thinks, looking over at Jongin, who'd flown out here just to nurse Sehun's broken heart, life will go on. It always has, and this time, at least, Sehun doesn't have to fit everything important into one bag and hope he hasn't forgotten anything.
"Do you think," Sehun says, "that I'm too young to be in real love?"
Yixing tilts his head thoughtfully. "I don't really think we're ever too young to be in real love," he replies. "Sometimes we're too young to make commitments, or to think that love will last, but I don't think love is less real because someone has lived fewer years."
Sehun relays this to Baekhyun, when he and Jongin are drunk on the floor of his bedroom as Sehun tries and fails to review his Orgo notes. Baekhyun burps, loudly, and then blearily looks at Sehun through one eye, leaving the other closed. "Honestly, Sehun, I never really doubted that you loved Joonmyun for real. I've known that since freshman year."
Jongin scratches at his stomach, and grins at Sehun. "No one can tell you how you feel, right?"
"Right," Sehun says.
He falls asleep on his textbook, thinking about Joonmyun.
He isn't expecting Joonmyun to be waiting for him on the sofa. "Shouldn't you be at work?" is the first thing Sehun says, and Joonmyun stares at him. His hands are knotted together, his brows furrowed up, all tense and worried.
"You haven't been answering my calls," Joonmyun says. "I was worried about you."
"Of course I'm not answering your calls," Sehun says. "I've been trying to come to the apartment when you're not here."
"I know," Joonmyun says. "I took the afternoon off work so I could be here."
"Why?" Sehun asks, and Joonmyun pulls at his tie, loosening it. The look on his face borders on panic, and his whole face is red, like when he does his ab workouts in the living room. "I can't feel any worse, hyung, so you don't need to—"
"You weren't supposed to grow up so handsome," Joonmyun says, interrupting Sehun, and Sehun's bag falls out of numb fingers. "Or so sweet and funny. Your hair wasn't supposed to feel so good between my fingers, and you weren't supposed to become the person I looked forward to seeing every morning when I walked into the kitchen." He's still tugging at his tie. "You were supposed to be a kid brother to me. Fuck, you're the same age as Jongin, Sehunnie, and I helped potty train him when I was fourteen."
Joonmyun looks up at him, and his eyes are bloodshot, tired. Sehun takes a step closer to him. "I felt…" Joonmyun's lips are dry, and maybe he's had as hard a time getting sleep as Sehun has. "It was wrong, that I wanted to kiss you." A hand through his hair, and Sehun takes another step. "Before Christmas, when you… It was easier, when I thought you liked women, but then you had to say…" The veins in Joonmyun's arms have always been prominent, and when Sehun sits next to him on the couch, he pulls Joonmyun's arm into his lap, so that he can run his fingers up them. Joonmyun's quick inhalation as Sehun drags his thumb up the inside of his forearm makes Sehun, for the first time in so long, feel a flicker of hope.
"That I loved you?" Sehun asks, and Joonmyun nods.
"You were so drunk," Joonmyun says, "but I could tell you meant it." He turns his body toward Sehun, and there he is, Sehun thinks, the open Joonmyun that Sehun had first fallen in love with, at sixteen, at eighteen, at twenty. "I wanted… but Sehun, you're so young, and I would just be…"
"Do you love me?" Sehun asks, holding Joonmyun's arm at the elbow, and Joonmyun closes his eyes. "Hyung, do you love me?"
"Yes," Joonmyun whispers, and Sehun can't stop the sob that escapes him as he pulls Joonmyun into his arms, burying his face in Joonmyun's neck. The collar of Joonmyun's shirt is starched, and digs into his cheek, but it doesn't matter. Nothing matters but the fact that Joonmyun's arms are tentatively wrapping around him, too, and that Joonmyun is saying Sehun's name into his ear, soft and longing.
Sehun throws his leg over Joonmyun, settling into his lap, and from this position, he can look down at him, with them resting their foreheads against each other. Joonmyun's breathing is still unsteady, like he's run miles and miles to get here, to where Sehun's been waiting for him. "Can I kiss you?" Sehun asks, and Joonmyun tilts his chin up and kisses Sehun instead.
It starts sweet, but Sehun's waited and waited for this, licking at the seam of Joonmyun's lips as Joonmyun groans and opens for him, letting Sehun taste him for the first time. There's warmth, and Joonmyun's hands curling into Sehun's tee, and Sehun's own hand wraps around Joonmyun's tie and uses it for leverage, pulling just enough that Joonmyun uses his grip on Sehun's shirt to jerk him in closer. Sehun moans as Joonmyun sucks on his lower lip, biting it gently before retreating, leaving one more chaste kiss against Sehun's lips before leaning back for air.
"Can I kiss you again?" Sehun asks immediately, and Joonmyun laughs, incredulously, letting go of Sehun's shirt to fall back into the couch. His face is red, and it extends down his chest, pale skin blush under Sehun's hungry gaze.
"Don't you think this is too fast?" Joonmyun teases him, that sparkle back in his eyes, and Sehun offers him a small smile.
"I don't know," Sehun says. "I've been dreaming about you taking me to bed for so long I think I've run out of patience."
Joonmyun bites down on his lower lip, and his eyes close as he takes a deep breath. Sehun plucks at the knot of Joonmyun's tie, and when he gets it undone, he leans forward to kiss Joonmyun's throat, rolling his hips into Joonmyun's. With a stuttered gasp, Joonmyun slips both hands down the back of Sehun's jeans, palming his ass." You're too young for me," he says, and Sehun laughs this time, right into the skin of Joonmyun's neck, before drawing back to look down at him again.
"No," Sehun says. "I'm not. I'm an adult. I've been an adult for a while, and hyung, I've wanted you since I was sixteen. I've had plenty of time to change my mind."
"I'm thirty-two, Sehun," Joonmyun says helplessly. "No, heck, I'm thirty-three now."
"Definitely not old enough to be my father," Sehun replies, running a hand through Joonmyun's hair, soft and thick, as the other one undoes another button of Joonmyun's shirt. "And I'm really in love with you, if you hadn't realized."
"I know," replies Joonmyun. He's looking up at Sehun with wide eyes and swollen pink lips. "This is so crazy, Sehunnie."
"But you love me," Sehun says. "And I love you back." He ducks down and kisses Joonmyun again, and Joonmyun's hands drag up to hold his waist. "What's so crazy about that?" he whispers against Joonmyun's mouth, and Joonmyun's eyelashes flutter.
"Everything," Joonmyun says, and he's kissing Sehun again, deeply, thoroughly, like he's finally let everything go and now he's taking what he's always wanted. Sehun lets him take, and does some taking of his own, fumbling to undo the rest of Joonmyun's buttons to reveal the smooth skin of his chest and the sculpted lines of his abs to Sehun's questing fingers.
Somewhere between the couch and Sehun's bedroom, Sehun and Joonmyun both lose their shirts, and somewhere between the bedroom door and the bed, they lose their pants, too, falling into Sehun's unused bed in just their underwear. Joonmyun's hands slide up and down Sehun's torso, skimming over his ribs before moving to his chest, brushing his nipples. Sehun's getting hard in his underwear from just this, and when Joonmyun kisses him again, Sehun pulls at the elastic of Joonmyun's briefs.
And Joonmyun pulls away, to look down at him, disbelief in his expression, and Sehun looks straight back at him. "If you want me," Sehun says, "you can have me."
"I want you," Joonmyun says, softly. He sounds strained, but his hands, tugging at Sehun's underwear, are sure.
When Joonmyun has him spread open on the bed, both pillows under his neck and thighs apart, Sehun isn't sure if he's dreaming or awake. But the sting of the first finger sinking in reassures him that this is real, and that Joonmyun is really with him right now.
Joonmyun is deliberate, working one finger in and out of Sehun, adding more and more lube until Sehun feels sloppy with it before adding a second finger. With two digits thrusting in, Joonmyun keeps looking between Sehun and his hand pushing into him. "You take my fingers so well," Joonmyun says, like he's complimenting Sehun on his grades or something, and Sehun bites his lip to keep from gasping. He knows Joonmyun can feel him spasm around his fingers, though, because his eyes immediately search for Sehun's.
"I imagine this when I touch myself," Sehun says, holding Joonmyun's gaze. Joonmyun's hair sticks to his cheeks and forehead with perspiration. "Your fingers inside me like this."
"I'm going to hell," Joonmyun says, pushing in another finger as he stretches Sehun open, rubbing his thumb behind Sehun's balls as he curls his fingers up to find Sehun's prostate again. "I'm really going to hell."
"I'm not sixteen anymore," Sehun gasps, as the pads of Joonmyun's fingers press into the right spot, stealing his breath and making his hips rock up for more. "I know what my body likes."
"Definitely not sixteen," says Joonmyun, his voice raspy. His free hand strokes up and down Sehun's thigh, holding it splayed with the gentlest of pressure as he continues loosening Sehun up. Sehun can feel sweat beading up on the back of his neck, and his hair is damp beneath him. "You were adorable when you were sixteen, but now…" He rakes his eyes up and down Sehun's body, and it makes him flush, even as arousal has him leaking against his belly. "You're so tall. Every time I looked at you, you'd gotten more handsome while I'd had my eyes elsewhere." He pushes up, keeping his fingers pressed against Sehun's prostate, and it sends a dull and steady pulse through him, soft waves of pleasure. The burn of stretching is almost completely gone, now, and there's only slickness and friction and Joonmyun's thick fingers inside him.
"Please," Sehun says, lifting into it, wanting more, but Joonmyun is steady and slow, taking his time. He watches, with dark eyes, as Sehun comes apart under his fingers, and Sehun doesn't even know what he's saying anymore as Joonmyun's pinky presses into him, slick and determined. Sehun spreads his legs more, inviting Joonmyun in, and Joonmyun whispers tiny encouragements as he curls his fingers up.
Sehun's impossibly hard, and his hands clutch at blankets as Joonmyun takes the fourth finger out, leaving only three, and starts to fuck him with them. "You look so good like this," Joonmyun says, and Sehun has to work for each breath as tension coils in his lower belly and in his thighs. "You always look good, Sehunnie, but especially like this."
"Fuck me," Sehun says, tries to say, "please, please, please," and Joonmyun's free hand finally wraps around Sehun's cock, dry at first but using the pearled precome at Sehun's slit to make the drag easier. It's too much at once, Joonmyun working inside of him and Joonmyun's hand on his dick and Joonmyun's eyes, watching him, so careful and methodical. Sehun's coming before he even realizes he's going to, his release hitting him in wave after wave as Joonmyun works him through it. When it's over, Sehun realizes at some point he'd closed his eyes, and he opens them to stare at Joonmyun, who has let go of Sehun's cock but is still slowly fucking his fingers in and out of Sehun.
"Good?" Joonmyun asks, and Sehun nods, shakily, watching as Joonmyun's hand goes to touch himself, his cock dark. He hisses when the circle of his first finger and thumb passes the head, and his Adam's apple jumps.
"Kiss me," Sehun says, and Joonmyun smiles at him, pulling his fingers free so he can move up Sehun's body and press their mouths together. The feeling of Joonmyun's erection pressing against his abdomen has Sehun's own cock getting hard again. Joonmyun's arms cage Sehun in, and as his tongue slides along the roof of Sehun's mouth, Sehun insistently rocks his hips up into Joonmyun, pulling a gasp from him.
"Sehunnie," he moans, and Sehun drags his hands down the length of Joonmyun's spine, settling them at the small of Joonmyun's back and using his grip to crush him closer, until he can feel Joonmyun's length hot against his balls. Joonmyun's arms bend, until his weight is all on his elbows, closer and easier for Sehun to kiss.
"Hyung," Sehun says, drawing back briefly so that he can look Joonmyun directly in the eyes, "more."
Rolling off him, Joonmyun rests on his side next to Sehun, kissing him again as he reaches down to circle his thumb over Sehun's rim. It's still sensitive, and still stretched, and Sehun doesn't want fingers this time.
"Are you sure?" Joonmyun asks, mouthing at the skin of Sehun's neck as he slides down, sucking marks along his collarbones as he sinks two fingers back into Sehun, curving them up immediately. Sehun can feel the heat in his belly coming faster, want spreading through him thick and syrupy.
He stares at Joonmyun through eyes at half-mast. Joonmyun's skin is pink and his lips are dark from kisses, and his eyes are focused on Sehun's, even as he thrusts two digits in and out of Sehun at a steady, maddening pace. Sehun could come like this, but that's not what he wants. He wants to feel Joonmyun inside him. "Yeah," he says. "Of course I'm sure."
Joonmyun sits up in bed, reaching again for the lube with his cleaner hand. "Do you have condoms?" he asks, and Sehun pushes his hair from his face and closes his eyes.
"Under the bed," he says. He hears Joonmyun move, the bed getting lighter before a weight resettles between his legs.
"There's only one missing," Joonmyun says, and Sehun opens his eyes again. Joonmyun is on his knees, ass to heel, his cock dark and flush against his belly. A thin sticky line runs from the tip to the navel.
"It's in my bag," Sehun says. "I keep it for when Baekhyun inevitably asks if I've got an extra on theme nights."
Joonmyun tears open the foil package, but then pauses. "This isn't…" your first time remains unsaid, and Sehun licks his lips.
"No," he says, "it's just…" He covers his face with both hands for a moment, as Joonmyun rolls the condom down onto himself. At the click of the lube, he lets them fall away. "It didn't seem right to have sex with people when I was just wishing they were you." Joonmyun's hand falters as he strokes himself, lube on his hand coating the condom, and he gapes at Sehun, like no matter how many times Sehun says it, Joonmyun still can't believe this is really what Sehun wants.
After gathering himself, Joonmyun scoots in closer, between Sehun's thighs, and puts his hands on Sehun's hips, both of them sticky as they grip. "May I move you?" Joonmyun asks, and Sehun nods. With permission, Joonmyun easily rearranges Sehun, pulling him up halfway into his lap, so that his hips are tilted upward, and he lets go with one hand to balance himself as he leans forward, the tip of his cock rubbing at Sehun's entrance. "Are you—"
"Yes," Sehun says, and Joonmyun pushes into him. It's an easy slide, since Sehun is so stretched, but he feels so full, his muscles tightening around Joonmyun's cock as Joonmyun stills inside him, his chest heaving and the hand on Sehun's hip tightening to a punishing hold. Sehun whines in the back of his throat, and Joonmyun shifts his hips slightly, more of a grind than a thrust. "Move, please hyung, move."
It's a blur, then, for Sehun, Joonmyun thrusting into him with deep, measured thrusts that have him shaking, until he pulls out to move Sehun's legs up over his shoulders, pressing Sehun's thighs to his own chest when Joonmyun pushes back in. The angle has Sehun moaning with every thrust, Joonmyun slamming into his prostate as his cock bounces against his stomach.
He reaches down to touch himself when he's getting close, when Joonmyun's hips take on a sloppier rhythm, and he spills all over his own hand after only a few strokes, thumb pressed to the vein on the underside as Joonmyun continues to fuck him through it until he comes too, falling into Sehun as he grinds.
Joonmyun shudders above him, and his shallow thrusts have Sehun whimpering from oversensitivity, his muscles fluttering around Joonmyun's cock, and then around nothing as Joonmyun pulls out. They kiss, languidly, as Sehun lets go of his thighs, aching and tense from too long pushed up against his chest.
Joonmyun starts fussing even before he catches his breath, rubbing at Sehun's thighs as Sehun looks at him with what's probably a really embarrassing expression. "I love you," Sehun says. His throat is raw, and he still trembles. He feels empty, missing the thickness of Joonmyun inside him, but he feels full, too, in his chest, where he's so used to hurting that it's strange and overwhelming to be so happy. "I know you're still second-guessing it, but I do."
Smoothing his hands up the front of Sehun's thighs, sticky with lube and come, and up Sehun's stomach, through his release, Joonmyun continues until he's resting his messy hands on Sehun's chest, hovering above him with that kind face that Sehun's wanted to kiss for far too long.
"Okay," Joonmyun says, and he leans down to take Sehun's mouth, kissing in, their tongues lapping against each other as Sehun winds his arms around Joonmyun's neck.
Later, Sehun somehow has enough energy to text Jongin, climbing out of bed to find his phone in his discarded jeans. Go with Baekhyun to the party, it says. Working things out with hyung.
Need back up? reads Jongin's reply text, and Sehun sends him a winking face, and hopes that says enough. He climbs back into bed.
Joonmyun reaches for him, and pulls him back into his arms, one hand cupping the back of Sehun's neck, playing with his hair, and the other around Sehun's hip, keeping him close. "Sehunnie," he says, "is this really what you want?" Joonmyun isn't really questioning him, this time. He's reassuring himself, maybe, and Sehun wants to make it easier for him.
"Yes," Sehun says. "Yes."
"Good," Joonmyun says, "because this is what I want, too." He kisses Sehun's shoulder.
Jongin reaches him first, pulling him into a bear hug that might well break half of Sehun's bones, and Mom and Dad are smiling at him. His sisters both try and fix his hair, and then turn on Jongin, who looks rumpled and uncomfortable in his suit, the shirt already untucked. "You did it," Jongin says. "I can't believe we're finally free of school."
"There's no ‘we'," Sehun replies. "You are free of school. I just signed up for another three years of it." Sehun's continuing into grad school, now, staying on the West Coast. "You and Chanyeol will have to deal with my bitching about studying for a while longer." Jongin blushes at Chanyeol's name, as has become usual lately, and Sehun smirks.
"Yeah, yeah," Jongin says. He's starting with a dance company in the fall. It's what he’s always wanted, and Sehun's happy for him.
Joonmyun's happy for Jongin too, and he'd smiled and told Sehun stories about taking seven year old Jongin to his dance classes, holding his hand on the subway. He has lots of stories about Jongin, and he shares the cutest ones with Sehun some nights over juice in the kitchen. Sehun always kisses him, after that, because nostalgic Joonmyun is irresistible, and he likes it when Joonmyun's lips taste like apple juice.
When everyone else walks ahead, Joonmyun hangs back, falling into step with Sehun. He's wearing a nice suit today, in a light silk fabric that clings to his thighs, and his hair is pushed back from his forehead. His smile is so wide.
Sehun wonders if his heart will ever stop beating faster when Joonmyun smiles at him. He hopes it doesn't.
Joonmyun's hand laces with Sehun's, briefly, and squeezes, before detangling their fingers. "Congratulations," he says, with a promise in his eyes that later, there will be a different kind of celebration, and even after a year, Sehun still flashes hot like it's the first time.
"Thank you, hyung," Sehun says. "Are you sure you're ready to live with me for three more years?"
"I'm ready to live with you forever," replies Joonmyun, and Jongin looks over his shoulder, raising an eyebrow at them. "I guess we'd better catch up."
Tomorrow, Sehun thinks, they're planning to tell everyone else in the family about them. Sehun's not sure how it's going to go, but he knows Jongin's all right with it, and he knows he'll have Joonmyun, too. And he thinks… it's odd, but Sehun feels pretty sure that he won't lose his family over this. It's a confidence that he's never had before, and he relishes it, wearing it as proudly as he wears his graduation gown.
Sixteen year old Sehun could never have imagined any of this: the happy people here to see him, the man beside him that he kisses good night and good morning every day, the friend sticking with him and trying to chat up the younger of his sisters... but twenty-two year old Sehun can't imagine anything else.
Maybe, Sehun thinks, he can finally put an empty suitcase in the back of the closet.