a rainy day in seoul. late one autumn morning.
lu han presses his forehead against a windowpane and breathes there. his breath fogs the glass, but it doesn’t make a difference to the view; mist hangs low in the city, softening its edges, blurring it until it’s unrecognizable. lu han likes seoul in autumn, likes how, when it rains, he can look out the window of the dorm and float in a sea of fog. they could be anywhere, in this weather. they could be in beijing, and lu han could be fifteen again, in love with a boy from the class above him who said hello every time lu han bowed but could never remember his name.
why is he thinking about that right now?
"you look extremely thoughtful right now," minseok says, coming up behind lu han and putting his chin on lu han’s shoulder—he must be on tiptoes. his breath is very warm against lu han’s ear, and lu han can’t quite help the way he tilts his head towards minseok. "i’m not really sure it’s your best look?"
"excuse me," lu han says, mock offended. he pushes one arm back, elbows minseok very gently in the solar plexus. "thoughtful is a great look on me."
"ow." minseok wraps his arms around lu han, holding his arms against his sides, immobile. it probably means something that lu han can hear minseok’s smile in that single syllable. lu han tries not to think about it. "you’re so mean to me."
"i do it out of love," lu han says.
ah, yes. now he remembers. age fifteen, in love with a boy who would never love him back. age twenty-three, same story.
some things never change.
midwinter in beijing. late evening.
lu han walks into the kitchen and catches minseok in the act of stealing bread from the refrigerator. minseok already has a piece in his mouth, is twisting the tie back onto the bag—he looks up at lu han with an expression not unlike a startled animal, and lu han laughs, holding onto the doorframe to keep himself upright. "you should have seen your face," he says in chinese, through peals of laughter, and although he's fairly sure minseok doesn't understand the words, it's obvious by his expression that minseok understands the tone.
"i thought you were duizhang," he says, almost petulantly, putting the bag of bread back in the refrigerator. minseok tears the piece of bread and offers half to lu han, like a peace offering. "we'd be down one member if you were."
lu han accepts the bread offering, although he's not really hungry. "we have enough dumplings in the freezer that i think it would be okay," he says, keeping his face as straight as he knows how.
it takes minseok a moment to get it, but when he does, he throws the crust of his bread at lu han's forehead and says, "if i never see another steamed bun again in my life it'll be too soon!" but he's smiling, and when lu han throws a piece of bread back, he smacks it away and laughs and lu han is so, so desperately in love with him that it feels like a physical pain in his chest.
when the laughter subsides, minseok hugs him goodnight and disappears toward his and zitao's shared room, and lu han stands in the kitchen and looks at the pieces of bread in his hands and thinks about how totally screwed he is.
spring means torrential downpour in seoul, early evening.
minseok puts his hand on lu han's arm, and the touch is strangely thoughtful.
"what's up?" lu han asks, in chinese first and then in korean. he has taken to doing that lately, saying things first in one and then the other, ever since minseok mentioned offhand that it helped him remember. "is jongdae done in the shower?"
"huh?" minseok says. his gaze flicks up to meet lu han's. "oh. no, he's not."
"…okay." as though lu han would ever, really, need a reason for minseok to touch him. it's not as though he spends many of his nights wishing minseok would. "come here."
minseok settles down onto the couch next to lu han, so close their thighs touch. outside the weather is hideous, but inside, in the cocoon of blankets that lu han has constructed on the sofa, it is very warm and very close. minseok tucks himself into lu han's side, creating a space for himself. "this is comfortable," he says, and when he smiles up at lu han his eyes seem endless. "you seem like you would be a good cuddler."
mostly, lu han just wants to spend the rest of his life with the gentle heat of minseok's body pressed against his side.
"i guess so," he says, looking away when the depth of minseok's gaze becomes too much to bear.
they fall quiet for a moment. lu han can sense that minseok is still looking at him. he imagines that minseok is tracing the line of his profile the way he traces minseok's, that minseok is learning every curve of his skin the way lu han knows minseok's. "what?" he asks, glancing back.
minseok pauses, his lips parted slightly in surprise. "what?" he repeats. "nothing."
it's terrible, because lu han wants to kiss him so badly it feels like a hot stone in the pit of his stomach. the space between them seems at once miniscule and insurmountable, but he wants to kiss minseok. lu han wants to lean over and press their lips together and feel minseok breathe. and minseok is looking at him, with those endless eyes of his, looking at him like he knows every thought in lu han's mind.
"lu han," minseok says, very softly. his hand is on lu han's forearm again, his fingers burning brands into lu han's skin. "i—"
"hey, i'm done with the shower," jongdae says from the doorway.
it's strange, because it's minseok who withdraws like he's been burned. like it's minseok who has something to hide. "okay," he says, his cheeks flushing a pretty pale shade of pink. "thanks, jongdae-ah."
"sure," jongdae says. there are a thousand questions in his voice, but jongdae has always known to leave well enough alone.
he leaves, and silence like wet wool falls between the two of them. minseok sits on the edge of the couch, and lu han doesn't try to meet his eyes. "so i guess you can shower now," minseok finally says, standing up and straightening his t-shirt. "next time, teach me how to build a blanket cocoon. i like it."
when lu han comes to their room, much later, the lights are off and minseok is nothing more than an unmoving shape under his blankets. he stands in the doorway for a long moment, and when kris puts a hand on his shoulder, lu han jumps about a foot.
"jumpy," kris says. "what happened?"
"nothing," lu han says, which is exactly the problem, isn't it? nothing happened. "nothing happened."
the way kris looks at him suggests he knows something lu han doesn't, but he doesn't say anything. "okay," is his only reply, and he glances between lu han and the partially-open door to their shared bedroom. "are you going in?"
lu han swallows, hard. "no," he says, "i don't think i am. for a while."
kris shrugs. "suit yourself."
during the uncomfortable heat of summer, beijing. midnight.
lu han crowds minseok into the corner of the shower and slides a thigh between minseok’s, insistent, unrelenting. they don’t have much time, but that isn’t anything new—what is new is the slide of minseok’s skin against his, the way minseok’s eyes go wide and liquid at the way their bodies fit together. “oh,” he says, which is not very articulate, but lu han understands what he means: oh, this is new, oh, i think i could like this.
two weeks ago in seoul, tipsy on cheap soju and cheaper beer, minseok had kissed him in the spill of light from a streetlamp outside a barbeque restaurant. he had tasted like dinner, which was unpleasant, but his lips had been very soft, very yielding, which was not. lu han had let himself fall into it, his hands pressed against the warm skin at the base of minseok’s spine, and then minseok had pulled away and gone wide-eyed with belated awareness.
“i shouldn’t have done that,” he’d said. lu han had opened his mouth, prepared to disagree—no, it was a good idea, it was a really good idea, could they try that again one more time, please—but minseok had shaken his head and walked away.
and then they hadn’t talked about it. But lu han is not a very patient man.
in the present, minseok brings his hands up to lu han’s shoulders and curls his fingers there. “what are you doing,” he asks softly, like it’s not apparent. like lu han isn’t naked, like they’re not pressed together, like minseok isn’t half-hard too.
“it’s not obvious?” lu han asks. "it hasn't been obvious this entire time?"
the way minseok looks at him suggests that perhaps it hasn't been. perhaps lu han hasn't been as painfully transparent as he always feels. "you can't just kiss me like that," he says, which is entirely not what he means to say. "you can't just—and then walk away and pretend like it didn't happen. you can't do that to me, not when i've wanted—"
the unspoken end of the question tastes like ash on lu han's tongue, tastes like words he should have left unsaid.
"when you've wanted," minseok says. he looks stunned, under the weight of the realization. lu han hasn't even said the worst of it, yet. "what have you—don't talk to me in riddles right now, lu han, you realize we're naked—"
lu han couldn't have stopped noticing if he'd tried.
"i'm aware," he says, his voice a little more tart than he means it to be. "when i've wanted to kiss you for the last—forever. since they introduced you to me and you thought i was korean. since the first time i heard you sing—you can't just kiss me and expect me to act like it didn't matter!"
he says the last part in chinese and realizes it perhaps a bit too late, but it doesn't matter. it doesn't matter, because minseok understood, and because minseok curls his hands around the back of lu han's neck and pulls him down and kisses him again, and again, and again. "you're an idiot," minseok says, the words muffled by the way lu han can't stop kissing him. "you're the biggest kind of idiot."
"you're talking," lu han says. that's not how the phrase goes, but he doesn't care enough about korean right now to correct himself. "i never taught you to build blanket cocoons like i do because i wanted you to have to cuddle with me for it. don't act like i wasn't completely obvious—"
and that's the last thing he says for a long time.
it's nothing grand. they kiss and kiss and kiss, and lu han reaches down and wraps his hand around both of their cocks and they rock their hips against each other, slick with steam and warm water and soap suds. minseok makes tiny mewling noises into lu han's mouth, and lu han kisses them out from under his tongue. it's skin on skin and slick and heat and want, and when minseok comes he digs his fingernails into the back of lu han's shoulder and gasps his name, and lu han's orgasm takes him by surprise, hits him like a train. he's sure he says something filthy in chinese into the curve of minseok's throat, words he's never learned in korean because he's never had reason to know.
he hopes minseok will teach him.
"okay," minseok says, when their breathing has steadied a bit. the water is cooler now. lu han is glad that minseok had been the last to shower. "okay. so that—we did that."
"no takebacks," lu han says. the words muffle against minseok's collarbone.
"no," minseok agrees. "i don't think there's a need for those."
autumn, crisp enough for scarves but not enough for snow. morning.
lu han wakes up in minseok's bed, content and warm inside the blankets. minseok is pressed against his back, his breathing even against the back of lu han's shoulder, and lu han thinks there's nowhere he would rather be.