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You're the Perfect Lullaby

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It’s Saturday morning. Early. Early enough for the sun to be soft across his eyelids, early enough for the birds and the street outside his window to be nearly silent, but Sehun is awake, nonetheless. Awoken, coaxed into wakefulness with the whisper-soft press of lips to his temple, the skate of warm fingers beneath his clothes, the rumble of a quiet greeting against his scalp.

Sehun hums back, sleepy and rough, and the fingers skate lower, over the dip of his stomach, towards the waistband of his pants. They loop around the drawstrings, scrape lightly against the fine hair at his waist. And a warm, wet mouth shifts, opens to suck near the nape of his neck. The good morning is repeated but heavier—an almost moan.

Sehun does moan, lets his neck curl back into the caress, reinforces the weight of the teasing fingers at the front of his pants. Sehun lets his cock drag and catch on a steady palm, shivering at the sweet friction.

And he moans, too—Sehun’s name this time—as he presses harder, rocks forward to grind against Sehun’s ass, catching and dragging against him, too.

Sehun’s arm gropes back clumsily to grab a fistful of soft, disheveled hair, tugging, leverage as he twists, then grinds, chokes out an even heavier moan, a raspy please. And as always, on the days when Sehun belongs to him and they belong to each other, it works, gets Sehun exactly what he wants.

Fingers slide beneath Sehun's boxers, stroke him once lazy and tight, and Sehun gasps out a yes. The lips at the nape of his neck briefly twist into smirk, and Sehun is too busy rocking into his fist to care.

His name is Joonmyun, and sometimes—half the time—Sehun is married to him. Shares a home, bank account, family, life with him. And these quiet moments before the rest of the city comes fully awake, before the baby monitor burps to life, these quiet moments are most theirs.

And surreal as it is—still after all this time, still after awakening here again and again and again—Sehun accepts it for what it is, this life, this moment—however ephemeral—for what it is.

It’s only terrifying if he dwells on it, and Joonmyun touching him just so makes it so much easier not to dwell on it.

Emboldened, Sehun rocks back harder, more deliberate until the heavy breathing at his throat crests into a shuddery moan.

And with his mind still slightly foggy with sleep, eyes still closed, Sehun loses himself in the sensations.

It’s easier like this, in that milky-sweet border between slumber and wakefulness, between reality and fantasy, for Sehun to forget himself, let Joonmyun—his Joonmyun for the time being—love him, hold him, touch him, kiss him, have him, break him gently apart.

“Feeling frisky, too?” Joonmyun murmurs, the words achingly sincere, achingly hot because Joonmyun is a nerd, a square, boring and soft-spoken and well-mannered, a man that another Sehun had fallen for and claimed, that this Sehun is also falling for and claiming.

“Yes,” Sehun whispers back, nodding frantically for good measure, and he’s rewarded with Joonmyun’s further movement, his husband finally finally finally sliding his fingers completely inside Sehun’s pants. His small fingers are steady, sure as they stroke, and Sehun—eyes still closed, lip caught between his teeth—nods in encouragement, rocks back more firmly into the cock at his ass.

“Wanna fuck you,” he hums.

And Sehun nods at that, too.

He remembers the first of that, too. Or the first time with this Sehun, this Sehun like this. Joonmyun had stopped to ask if he was okay, voice all rough with arousal, fingers trembling from where they’d gripped his hips, but his eyes soft and concerned and full of love. Are you feeling okay? Do you want to stop? Talk to me, Sehun.

But alarmed, overwhelmed as he’d felt, he hadn’t said no, hadn’t wanted to stop.

And he doesn’t now either.

Joonmyun smirks, sharp and proud; it makes arousal pool in Sehun's gut. Affected, trembling with it, he lolls his head further back, limbs splaying open wantonly. He wants so, so badly to be taken.

Lets lets lets Joonmyun do with him as he pleases, as they both want.

He lets himself be pushed back into the mattress, kissed breathless and hot, stripped bare for Joonmyun's taking. He lets himself be fucked open with Joonmyun's fingers then his cock, clutching at Joonmyun's straining shoulders as he falls and falls and falls.

His gasps and moans are muffled into Joonmyun's throat, his collar, the crown of his head. Desperate and high high high, cresting into a pitchy whine as he climaxes. He cries out once more when Joonmyun pulses inside of him, deep and hot and perfect.

Spent in the afterglow, Sehun flops boneless and utterly useless with pleasure as a breathless Joonmyun gropes for the trashcan and wet wipes by their nightstand.

Warm and soft and oh so caring, Joonmyun pulls Sehun into his embrace.

"I love you," Sehun says, and he means the words with every fibre of his being, and it's terrifying. But he doesn't dwell, melts into him, wants him, holds him, loves him, is loved by him.

It’s an early morning, early enough still, silent, and Jongdae’s been almost sleeping through the night.

New parents, exhausted, he knows they've earned it these extra, blessed minutes of sleep.

Sehun can already feel it tugging at his consciousness, persistent and oh so welcome.

Sehun doesn’t want to sleep, though, isn’t quite ready to leave. If he sleeps, he knows, he’ll be torn away from this wonderful dream, so he resists the urge, blinks heavily as he drinks in the flushed pink of Joonmyun's cheeks, throat, chest, the soft hitch of his deepening breath. Cradled, he touches Joonmyun because he’s allowed to and because he’s married, is touched in turn for the same reason.

He fights hard to stay awake, but Joonmyun's sleepy hums and sleepy kisses are so painfully persuasive, and Sehun finds himself drifting off before he quite realizes what's happening.

 

Sehun wakes up in another reality, another Saturday, tangled in his stiff fabric-softener-less sheets.

Sehun, he so often dreads waking up, wonders, as he braces himself for the heavy disappointment of his real life, his more than adequate life, if he's in too deep.

Sehun, this Sehun, he's 21, an Art Studies Major at Hongdae University.

Weekends, he works night shifts at CU, a job that isn't going anywhere but that at least keeps him afloat. He watches the drunk college kids stumble for more soju, kimbap, occasionally condoms. Alternately, on free Saturdays, he stumbles himself to the area near the station, the Playground, dances until his body aches, until everything else melts away.

It isn’t a free Saturday this week.

It's only 10AM, and his shift won't start for another 12 hours. But he can hear his neighbor's singing as they clean, can hear the neighborhood truck driving through the streets and screaming about how cheap and delicious their apples, watermelons, and grapes are.

Sehun passes the hours eating, watching dramas on his laptop, studying briefly for class, texting his friends.

It's a humid summer, and the sweat that had beaded under the collar of his green vest now itches under the air conditioner's shrill blast.

Sehun grins his widest for the pretty girls that pay with crumpled wads of ₩50,000.

 

In an alternate reality, other Sehun is probably going to the grocery store, renting several films from the Redbox by their neighborhood Walgreens, marathoning them with his husband and baby, ordering Korean takeout for dinner, doing laundry, resolutely ignoring his phone, his email for the sake of these private, perfect moments.

Sehun knows, he’s lived them. Sehun knows, he’s treasured them.

And this other Sehun, he’s how Sehun would have turned out if he’d applied himself, not wasted all of the potential.

An older, more focused, more ambitious, more successful, more grounded Sehun.He works freelance from home as a video subtitle translator, cut back hours and productivity and now only does what he can while Jongdae sleeps. A responsible adult, he recycles, chairs the neighborhood watch coalition, apparently used to teach children's ballet at the Y, heads a book club with some of the older housewives in their apartment complex. He’s also American, and the English that Sehun had stumbled through in high school, spills easily from his mouth. He only really speaks Korean with the Korean takeout ahjumma, his parents, Joonmyun, Jongdae.

Joonmyun, most of all, his husband. Joonmyun does payroll for a construction firm, Sehun has gleaned, doesn't want to talk about work when he's home, doesn't want to work weekends anymore, is trying really fucking hard not to do that. He just wants—just wants to treasure these moments with his two favorite people, wants only to be kissed, drooled on in Jongdae's case, by those two favorite people.

And quiet and soft-spoken and warm and kind and boring, Joonmyun feels like the kind of partner that a more put-together Sehun would deserve. Joonmyun loves him, other Sehun, not this Sehun with every fibre of his being, Sehun can feel it.

 

Sehun tries not to dwell, tries instead to make the most of his real life, the life that counts, the life that makes sense.

The days are mercifully short, the course work light, and Sehun finds joy in dog dates with Jongin, 2 AM ramen and triangle kimbap runs with Chanyeol, study sessions with Minseok, and bouts of pulsing creativity and freedom in the anonymous Hongdae streets. All by himself in these moments, sweaty, with the bill of his hat pulled over his head as he dances to the music oozing from his borrowed speakers. Some people throw bills in his directions, ask for his Instagram, his Naver blog, most clap and cheer. Sehun feels alive, feels the most potential, the most purpose then.

 

The student life is one of scraped money, and Sehun often scrapes just enough for indulgences. A once-a-month visit to the dog cafe, infrequent trips to the Han for chicken and frozen yogurt, a biweekly visit to one of the hip hop clubs in the area, Sehun with only enough crumpled bills to make cover, buy one intentioned drink and use it woo one pretty girl into letting her take him home.

And that Saturday, he's due once more. It's stress relief. He's earned it. He wants it.

Or used to. It feels distinctly wrong now.

It's felt wrong for weeks, Sehun feeling sick and leaving early after foreign arms wrap around his waist, foreign lips skim his throat.

And Sehun doesn't want to, doesn't even want to try.

Baekhyun drapes himself over Jongin's puke green futon, already dressed for sin in his painted on leather pants, and oversized tank. The fabric shifts, gapes open to reveals the soft pink of his stomach, and Chanyeol reaches forward to smack it as Baekhyun frowns up at Sehun.

This is only his third time turning them down, but it's hard not to notice. Harder yet, in Baekhyun's case, not to comment.

Twisting, Baekhyun elbows him in the gut, and Chanyeol yelps. Baekhyun sits up, arms defensively wrapped around his stomach, as Chanyeol writhes dramatically on the floor by his sneakers.

"But your blue balls," Baekhyun says, and Sehun knows it means he cares, invasive as it sounds, might feel. Knows also that he can't give him a satisfactory answer beyond "I don't feel like it tonight."

Crouching, Jongin loops his arms around Chanyeol's shoulders to drag him upward, and Chanyeol lets himself be tugged.

Jongin pauses at the doorway before he leaves, repeats Baekhyun's question. He's dressed to sin, too, and his golden skin glows beneath the sleeves of his tight, tight shirt. Baekhyun and Chanyeol idle by the end of the stairs.

"Yes," Sehun says, and Jongin doesn’t belabor the point, simply smiles and touches his cheek once before telling him that there are some instant dinners in the fridge. Kimchi jjigae and rice and something with lentils, he thinks. Sehun can stay at his place if he wants, but he should change Angel’s water and food if he does, should also make himself scarce if Jongin brings a girl.

With that, he's gone, and Sehun thinks he’s honestly the best best friend and occasional, infrequent fuck buddy that Sehun could ask for.

 

Sehun decides to stay in Jongin's apartment, spoils himself with a KFC dinner, showers, studies. He calls it an early night at 10 PM. Not wanting to be alone, he curls up into that ugly puke green futon, hopes he has another opportunity to create more memories with Joonmyun and Jongdae.

Curled in Jongin's stiff, fabric-softener-less sheets, he hopes. He hopes. He hopes.

A car alarm blares in the distance, and Sehun struggles to sleep.

 

In another Saturday, Joonmyun stands on his tiptoes, kisses him on the mouth for sorting laundry, smiles into it as he cradles the back of his neck.

"This is why I love you, he insists, and everything fucking aches. Too perfect, too real—for the time being at least.

They watch house flipping marathons on TV as they set the clothes to dry, tangle on the couch.

Perched atop their blanket cocoon, Jongdae starts squirming uncomfortably, tellingly two episodes in, and Sehun scrambles to change him.

Jongdae pees on Sehun’s hand and shirt as he's changing him, rolls over and screams in laughter like it's the great thing that he's ever seen, and Sehun laughs, too, decides he much prefers this Saturday night.

Twined around each other that night, Joonmyun and Sehun make out filthy but unhurried on the bed, the kisses increasingly lazy and slow and soft until they fall asleep.

It’s a blessing or a curse.

 

Sunday morning, Sehun wakes up facedown on Jongin’s carpet, Angel, Jongin’s poodle snuffling against his temple.

He likes him, Jongin insists every time Sehun complains. You should be thankful. He's very selective, you know this. He always growls at Baekhyun and tries to bite Chanyeol. Don't depreciate his love, Sehun. It's worth so much.

Sehun slept at an awkward angle, and his back and shoulders ache. His heart does, too.

He rolls over and away, but Angel stays close, wet nose pressing into his rumpled jeans. Sehun spares him three pats, and the dog arches into them with a soft sound of contentment.

Sehun hears Jongin step out of his room. His face is puffy with sleep, but his smile is too damn bright. And Sehun decides that, at least for the moment, he hates him. Like he hates everything.

Jongin seeming to sense his sour mood, gives him extra marshmallows with his hot chocolate that morning, lets his good morning hair ruffle linger, studying his face as Sehun frowns into Jongin's chipped mug.

 

They stumble to the McDonalds afterwards for a real breakfast, Jongin's treat, and swallowing heavily, Sehun remembers the time he stayed awake with Joonmyun. How his husband had smiled at him over his spoonful of scrambled eggs, how he'd tasted like coffee when Sehun had kissed him but how Sehun hadn't even minded.

Sehun takes an extra long drag from orange juice, bites the straw hard.

Across from him on the speckled plastic table, Jongin is in a much sunnier mood. He's got this shine in his eyes, this looseness in his shoulders, languid like he got laid or at least came. Lonely and jealousy and confused and sad, Sehun doesn't want to ask for the details.

Sehun sees him grin at his phone as he shovels more plastic forkfuls of food into his mouth.

 

There's a pattern to it, Sehun is sure. Or at least set of rules.

It's almost never weekdays. Not if he's been drinking. Not if he eats too much for dinner. And never when he's napping.

There's a pattern, some set of rules, but Sehun is still not sure of the exact parameters, can't ever will himself into going back.

And more often than not, Sehun has his usual dreams. Acceptance speeches, fantasies, childhood memories, nightmares about disappointing those he loves, dinosaurs, ghosts.

Over the months, he's been able to glean mores details about them, that they met a dinner party, that Joonmyun proposed, that Sehun once had blond hair and Joonmyun chestnut brown. That they've been living in the same apartment for 2 years, that Joonmyun likes to kiss Sehun like Sehun is everything he's ever wanted, that Joonmyun and Sehun—other Sehun—are disgustingly in love, that their entire home is warm and nearly stifling with it.

Loving Jongdae was inevitable. It was easy, safe. Jongdae, a giggly squirmy curious happy baby, all oversized eyes and breathy laughter and chubby limbs tugging at Sehun’s ears, his reading glasses, drooly mouth babbling to him, his toys, his mobile, the colorful spoons of rice porridge that Sehun attempts to scoop into his mouth.

And Jongdae already feels like the best thing that he’s ever done with his life, the best thing that other Sehun has done.

And Sehun never attempted to fight it.

Joonmyun, Joonmyun was scarier, but no less inevitable.

It's heady sometimes—most times—the utter vastness of his love, and Sehun thinks that maybe that's why his feelings have been overwhelming him so much lately. Joonmyun has already decided to spend the rest of his life with him—or at least with this alternate version of Sehun—and Sehun just wants to play catch up with him. Be on the same page.

And it’s safer, easier wanting someone that wants him back. And oh how Joonmyun wants him. He reminds him of it with every smile, every touch, every kiss, every look cast in his direction.

But it isn't real, not really.

And it’s reckless to think it is, to think this counts.

Sehun lacks direction, his parents and hyungs have chided, he's started to agree. But this, this fake life he sometimes shares with Joonmyun and Jongdae, it's starting to feel like his direction, false as it may be.

Sehun continues to fall deeper, deeper, deeper.

 

It's 2AM the next time he returns, a week, three ramen runs, one video game session, five restless visits to the library later. It's 2AM, a Saturday morning. They should both be asleep, but he can feel Joonmyun's eyes on him, can see the white of his teeth in the streetlight's glow.

"Frisky?" Sehun laughs, and Joonmyun laughs, too.

In the eery glow, his eyes are dark, voice darker, and his hands are so steady, so sure, so deliciously familiar on his skin, gliding beneath his clothes.

It's only been a week, but fuck, Sehun has missed him, needs even more, clinging tight immediately.

"Baby," Joonmyun whispers, all sleep-rough and fond. "Baby boy."

And Sehun laughs into his mouth, then moans, then whimpers.

Joonmyun whispers "I love you," and Sehun whispers it back, so needlessly needy. But Joonmyun’s his husband, and at least for the time being he's allowed, he's encouraged. And Joonmyun deserves it, deserves to feel loved.

Sehun is helplessly loud as he presses back into Joonmyun's hand, rocks into the heel of his palm with a shaky moan that has Joonmyun smiling into his throat.

Overwhelmed, Sehun tangles his fingers in Joonmyun’s hair to tug him back towards his mouth.

"Hmmm, fuck me," Sehun whimpers, and Joonmyun's eyebrows furrow at the request. Sehun loves how arousal stains his face, how it puffs his lips and lids his eyes and flushes his cheeks, loves how Joonmyun looks when he's aching to be inside of him.

"Anything you want, baby," Joonmyun whispers before urging him into his hands and knees, and Sehun whimpers into the sheets. They're soft, smell like their lavender fabric softener, drag against Sehun's lips as he pants.

"Please," he rasps in Korean, groaning when Joonmyun groans, his fingers groping back, tangling in Joonmyun's hair.

"You've been speaking so much Korean lately," Joonmyun breathes against the nape of his neck, kisses lower. "Remember when all you knew was hyung and I don't speak Korean that well. I wanna brag about this to your mom." He's smiling against his shoulders, his teeth grazing the sensitive skin. He's entirely self-satisfied.

"I wanna do it for Jongdae," Sehun says. And Joonmyun's smiling again, but it feels softer. His next kiss is soft, too. "Wanna—I should, he should..."

Sehun doesn't know if he'll keep coming back that long, doesn't know if he'll live to see it unfold, but he should, they both should.

Joonmyun's hair is soft as it grazes his back, lips catching as they slide downwards. "And here I was going to say it was hot. Gonna ask you to say 'fuck me.'"

Sehun shudders, turns his head. "Want you—want you to fuck me."

"Again. Use banmal." His lips paint over the knobs of Sehun's spine. "We're married. We're comfortable."

"Want you—want you to fuck me."

"Just like that," Joonmyun murmurs against the small of his back, his fingers hold Sehun upright when his knees threaten to collapse.

And sliding behind him, Joonmyun fucks him first with his tongue, then his fingers, only gives him his cock when he's fucking sobbing for it.

Sehun’s head feels heavy between his shoulders, body tight with desire. "Please," he whimpers. Korean. "Please, want it. Want it."

Joonmyun's teeth are sharp at his spine as he fucks him deep and devastating and just exactly how he needs, and Sehun doesn't know how many times it took Joonmyun to learn just how to touch him, how hard to press, his wet to lick, how fast to move. He wonders briefly, deliriously as to prior trials and errors as he writhes back wanton and weak with want for more more more, just just just like that yeobo yeobo yeobo. Sehun whimpers into his own forearm, biting the skin to muffle his moans as he sobs his way through completion. He's boneless and sated and sticky by the time they're done, too tired, too sated to move. It’s always, always the best Sehun’s ever had with him.

Joonmyun stays pressed tight like that, even after he's come, follows Sehun down into the sheets. He kisses lazily over his skin.

The baby monitor beeps to life just as Sehun is dozing. Jongdae's staticky babble, cheerful but demanding as it always is, his son's personality.

Joonmyun laughs breathless and disbelieving as he extricates himself to answer. Boneless, Sehun rolls over to watch him.

In the dark, Joonmyun stumbles toward his discarded pants, then towards the bathroom, to dispose of the condom, wash his hands. He stumbles to Jongdae's room across the hall.

Over the baby monitor, Sehun hears him change his diaper then soothe Jongdae back into slumberer with soft, soft tuts and whispered "I love you"s.

It soothes Sehun to sleep, too, and he's already halfway there by the time he feels Joonmyun's weight dip the mattress, Joonmyun's arms wrap around his waist.

Maneuvering him so he's curled against his side, Joonmyun kisses him asleep, and Sehun wishes that he was there in the morning to kiss him awake, too.

 

Real reality is mundane, if not excruciatingly boring. He helps Baekhyun shop for sunglasses on Monday, has study and cuddle parties with Chanyeol on Tuesday and Wednesday, goes to the Han with Minseok and Kyungsoo on a Thursday to distract himself, and it's quiet and soothing, his two hyungs letting him drape himself around them, not minding when he sniffles about needing to be hugged a lot, he's sad.

Sehun aces a Renaissance quiz on Friday, and everyone insists on a party the next night.

They celebrate victories as they always do, on a budget, squeezed into Baekhyun's apartment because it's the biggest, that patronized fuck. They buy obscene amounts of Cass beer, soju, Pizza School pizzas, and ₩1,000 ice cream. Chanyeol, their unofficial DJ, hooks his iPod to Baekhyun's speakers, pauses after every song to remind everyone that Sehun, their baby hadn't missed a single question on his test, wasn't he amazing.

Baekhyun sets out extra blankets for them on the floor, and Jongin and Sehun, as usual, are on the same makeshift bed. Gloriously drunk, Jongin winds his arm around him, kisses his neck drunkenly like he always does, noses higher, along his cheekbones, fingers more insistent as they drag over his shirt.

Sehun shifts before Jongin has a chance to kiss him.

Jongin hums in discontentment but doesn't pull away, understands, his arms loosening, lips parting in a soft "okay," and Sehun melts into the warmth of a more platonic embrace. And yeah, Sehun decides, curling into the warm breath at his throat, breathing in the soft smell of soap and fading cologne, Jongin's honestly the best best friend and occasional, infrequent fuck buddy that Sehun could ask for. He knows Sehun, and he might suck with words sometimes, but he knows how to hold him, handles with the exact amount of care.

 

That night, Sehun dreams that he's the Little Mermaid dancing at his Prince's wedding, feet bleeding with every step as he watches his Prince love and marry and want someone else.

Other Sehun. Not this Sehun.

 

Hungover the next morning, he begs Kyungsoo to buy him waffles, nuzzles into him until Kyungsoo relents, pets his fingers through his hair and kisses his temple, outwardly disdainful but so so fond.

 

It's six awful days before Sehun sees him again.

He's alone in bed when he wakes up, but he can hear Joonmyun humming sleepy and soft in the baby monitor, the hiccup of Jongdae's receding tears.

And oh, things feel okay once more.

Joonmyun crawls back into bed with him, all soft and pillow-creased and achingly handsome.

Joonmyun holds him, and Sehun refuses to sleep as he watches his lips part and brows smooth with sleep.

Joonmyun seeks him out even in slumber, wants him, winding insistent but soft as he breathes against his neck.

They have oatmeal for breakfast that morning, afterwards take Jongdae to the park.

Sehun drinks in the lazy thrum of early fall, and Joonmyun kisses the corner of his mouth between sticky smears of suncreen to his cheeks, his nose.

They buy a popsicle and share it between them, Sehun cradling a giggly Jongdae to his chest. He lets him drink what's left of the sticky sweet strawberry after they're both done, and Jongdae babbles happily as he does, squiming as he sucks on the wrapper.

Joonmyun leans against him, arms around his waist, head at his shoulders. The sun kisses across his cheek, and Sehun feel the crippling weight of love.

Contentment settles in his bones, heavy and overwhelming, but he feels paradoxically light and free with it.

"You're a dream come true," Sehun says, and Joonmyun fucking beams.

"You are, too. My dream come true."

They eat lunch there, tuna subs spread on the picnic blanket, a bottle and four chews of tuna for Jongdae as they shoo the ants away.

They eat dinner at home, bathe Jongdae, share a shower, lazy kisses, then crawl into the bed.

Tired and sentimental, apparently ever eager to make Sehun want and need him more, Joonmyun crawls between Sehun's legs, tugging off his pants and boxers with the most awful gleam in his eyes. Joonmyun eases him open with his fingers and his tongue until Sehun is sobbing into his own forearm, coming apart broken and trembling just for Joonmyun.

He watches through lidded eyes as Joonmyun grins breathlessly. His hair is disheveled and his lips puffy and slick with saliva and lube.

And fuck, Sehun really fucking loves him, splays himself open as he begs a panting Joonmyun to come upwards and fuck his mouth. And when Joonmyun stays still, only strokes himself faster, Sehun begs instead for Joonmyun to come across his stomach, mark him up like he owns him, he wants it so bad.

Groaning, Joonmyun heeds at least this request.

Wiped cleaned afterwards, lulled into the buzzed stupor of the afterglow, Sehun clings desperately to wakefulness, nuzzling possessively into Joonmyun's warm, sated body, but sleep overtakes him as it always does.

And Sehun is torn away once more.

 

It's another week before Sehun is allowed to return the favor as he wishes. An early morning sees him purring as he slides beneath the covers, makes a sleepy Joonmyun moan and arch.

And Sehun still doesn't quite know his body, he thinks, not the way that Joonmyun knows his. He's still entirely too awkward and bumbling at it for it to be anywhere near that flawless or consuming, but Joonmyun still groans in encouragement, pets his hair back, whispers quiet quiet praises as his cock sits thick and perfect on Sehun's curled tongue.

The stretch is hot and heavy, and Sehun arches into the fingers at his cheekbone, moans as he swallows. He lets more saliva pool, makes the slide hotter, and the muscles in Joonmyun's abdomen tense beneath his fingers.

"God, I love your mouth," Joonmyun says, fingers shaky as they shift to sift through his hair. His nails scrape down his skull. And Sehun smiles into the next suck, fans his eyelashes as he blinks up at him, deliberately innocent and hot.

Joonmyun’s breath hitches with a sharper moan. He spreads his legs, thigh trembling then flexing, a series of subtle, subtle thrusts.

Moaning loudly, Sehun clenches his eyes shut, lets his lips fall open more obscenely.

"Fuck my mouth," he chokes, and twisting his fingers in Sehun's hair, Joonmyun does.

 

They decide to go the aquarium this time. Joonmyun carries Jongdae's diaper bag, wears a fanny pack, has a camera slung around his neck, while Sehun pushes Jongdae in their baby carriage.

Sehun lifts him a good three rooms in, and Jongdae presses his chubby fists to the glasses and babbles to the jellyfish while Joonmyun takes pictures, murmuring softly about how much he loves his boys.

 

Sehun picks up double shift at CU when he wakes up, returns to his normal life, and he can't quite stop from grinning, filled to the brim with contentment.

And Joonmyun, more often than not, feels like a balm for the bad days, a fantasy that Sehun hadn't been creative enough to invent on his own but that he now yearns for, nonetheless.

And maybe there's a blessing in that, not knowing the pattern, being unable to chase this dream.

It's kept him from becoming even more dependent, even more utterly ruined than he already is.

 

The following week is laced with disappointment. Sehun needing to borrow money from his parents for food that week, breaking his favorite sunglasses, failing a test.

And it's too much.

A shitty week means—used to mean—a nursed ego, cheap beer, Jongin's lips on his, Jongin’s fingers around his cock.

It hasn't meant that for months, Sehun insisting that he doesn't need it, Jongin trusting him enough not to press. But he still takes matters into his own hand when he sees Sehun crying into his futon, cradling Angel to his side.

Jongin groupchats Kyungsoo, Chanyeol, Minseok, Baekhyun, Lu Han, even Yifan, forces him to have cheap beer, Kyungsoo's cooking, a hug from every hyung in attendance.

And really, it's only a quiz, worth 5% of his final grade, negligible, but this coupled with his hurt pride, his broken sunglasses, his loneliness and inexplicable ache for a life that isn't real, it has Sehun's limbs feeling leaden, his smile forced. His eyes are less bright, too, Minseok notes, reaching forward to bop his nose, ruffle his hair.

Saturday night, Sehun sees him again, and the air tastes so much sweeter, the colors look so much brighter.

Persephone was doomed for eating pomegranates, Sehun remembers reading in his intro-level Art History book. The Underworld had become a part of her, taken a part of her. Sehun's eaten so many meals, stolen so many kisses, made so many memories, doomed himself in so many ways.

But it's still sweet at least, still what he wants at least, still the best part of his most weeks, at least.

 

Sehun spends nights at Jongin's apartment, wakes up to the snuffling at his temple, wet and noisy every morning, swallows down the bitter taste of interrupted sleep, stoutly ignores the malaise crawling up his throat, weighing down every limb.

 

He doesn't sleep enough for the next two weeks, not enough to see them. And it's three weeks before he's able to return.

Bleary-eyed, he stumbles towards the bathroom, pees, stares at his reflection for too long—unnerved by the haggard lines he finds on older, not-Sehun’s face.

He stumbles back to bed, back into the warmth of rumpled sheets and a rumpled husband. “Come here,” Joonmyun breathes, arms wrapping around his waist, pulling him into his embrace. Joonmyun is so much smaller than him—the tiniest, tiniest husband—but he feels so grounding like this. An anchor, his love. He smells, feels, is is is home.

“I've missed you,” Sehun confesses into Joonmyun’s collarbone, catching the words much too late.

But Joonmyun’s breath hitches and his arm tighten like it's not as wrong as Sehun would think. “I know,” he whispers. “I’m sorry.” Joonmyun drops an achingly tender kiss to his temple. “You—you deserve better than this.”

Sehun swallows, and Joonmyun seemingly misinterpreting rushes to kiss him on the mouth, cradling him tight, suddenly possessive.

“Let me be what you deserve. Please.”

And it isn’t as much a paradise as Sehun had imagined, he realizes, but it’s real—enough. And Sehun aches for it.

“I love you,” Joonmyun insists in English. And then Korean. “I love you.” It’s seared into his skin, stamped into his marrow, his dizzying, perfect, perfect love. “I’m sorry about our fight. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

And Sehun isn’t sure if he’s allowed to speak on other Sehun’s behalf. Isn’t sure if it’s right.

But there’s an excruciating desperation in Joonmyun’s kiss at his throat, Joonmyun’s fingers at his waist.

“Let me. Let me. Let me be what you need, Sehun. Let me try harder for you.”

Sehun, dazed, desperate for contact after three awful weeks, lets him.

 

Sehun doesn’t come back for 2 weeks, finals weary, worn, weak.

It hurts.

Hurts to be without. Hurts to come back and see how it's starting to unravel, their home, their interactions colder, sharper than he’s used to.

And oh, it’s so alarming, the strain in Joonmyun's smile, the hesitance in his fingers, his mouth, paradoxically the desperation in the way he hugs and kisses him when Sehun falls into his arms. “Please, Sehun,” he keeps saying, stamping the words into his cheek, his throat, his chest over and over and over again. “I love you. Please I need you.”

 

Sehun wakes up alone the next day, wanders into their living room to find him. Joonmyun is sleeping on the couch, small body twisted uncomfortably, eyebrows furrowed even in sleep.

Sehun can’t fix a relationship that he doesn’t understand, address issues that aren’t really his, but he aches to make the pain and hesitance in Joonmyun’s sleepy eyes dissipate, needs to replace it with the love, the pleasure that keeps Sehun grounded.

Joonmyun is startling awake, sitting up. "Sehun," he says, and his knees look small, knobby beneath his plaid pajama pants. He’s cast eerily blue in the light from their aquarium. The shadows dance as he swallows. His hands are tense at his side. “I can’t without you, Sehun. You know that. I need you to come with me. I need you. I need Jongdae. I need my family.”

Joonmyun stands, and he’s still so small—compared to Sehun.

Sehun’t can’t can’t can’t make this decision, whatever this decisions is. Can’t for other Sehun. Not when he won’t really have to deal with the consequences.

This relationship was for other Sehun's to build. Is other Sehun's to tear apart, too.

"Joonmyun," he says.

And Joonmyun shakes his head hard.

Sehun can see the haggard lines, the white near his temple, the strain of age, of pain. He can see the determination, too because Joonmyun is in love with him and needs him.

But Sehun isn’t sure if he’s allowed to say “yes.”

“I need you, Sehun," he repeats. "I can’t do it without you for a year. Can’t do it without Jongdae. I need you. I need you to come with me. I need you.”

And it’s so distressingly easy to come forward when Joonmyun wraps a hand around the nape of his neck. So achingly easy.

Joonmyun pulls him forward, kisses the seam of his mouth tender and excruciatingly loving, and Sehun feels a sob lodge itself deep in his throat.

This thing they have, he thinks, this thing that other Sehun and Joonmyun have built, it’s breaking. It’s broken. It wasn’t his to break, isn’t his to fix, but he aches for it still.

Joonmyun licks into his mouth and holds him like it’s the last time, like he’s terrified that it’s the last time.

Sehun can’t can’t can’t be sure that it won’t be.

"Let me," he whispers, and his voice is too shaky and too wet. And Sehun is terrified to open his eyes, just kisses him harder, melts at the press of warm, familiar, desperate, desperate fingers at his side.

Sehun, once more, lets him.

They somehow make it to the bedroom, collapse onto the bed. Joonmyun only stops kissing him enough to tug off his clothing, whisper again and again about how much he fucking needs him.

"Sehun," Joonmyun whispers into his skin. A prayer. A plea. An apology. And Joonmyun cradles him tight, perfect, can't seem to stop kissing or touching or begging with him. “I need you,” he repeats. "I need you. Don’t leave me. I need you. I need you."

And Sehun’s being urged fully onto his back, his legs falling open automatically. Joonmyun falls over him in the next instance, kisses him breathless and helpless.

Urgent, imploring, his kisses steal Sehun’s breath, caresses tear him apart. Tears sting his eyes, and he swallows down the desperate sob that seems intent on tearing its way up his throat.

Joonmyun kisses down his body, fingers tight and greedy, clinging still like Joonmyun's scared he'll slip through his fingers. Leave him even though Joonmyun needs him so fucking much. Can't do this without him. He loves him, Sehun, please.

And Sehun doesn’t think he’s ever been taken like this, ever felt so much love, so much need bleed into every touch. He didn’t know it could be like this. And Sehun burns everywhere their skin touches, aches everywhere it doesn't.

"Sehun, I need you," Joonmyun confesses into the hollow of his throat, the contour of his collarbone, the dip of his stomach. His eyelashes flutter, his teeth catching, and Sehun is gasping and trembling and clambering out for more. "I love you. I need you. I need you so much."

And Joonmyun slides down his body, spreads him open and swallows his cock like he wants to ruin Sehun with need and love and want, too. The wet, perfect suction, dragging, dragging friction have his entire body seizing, his eyes rolling to the back of his head.

Sehun's thighs tremble around Joonmyun's shoulders, and he feels large and gangly and desperate like that, limbs knocking into each other as Joonmyun's mouth glides on his cock, fingers grope for the lube.

Sehun whimpers at the first press, mouth parting with the loudest moan as Joonmyun shifts to suck at his thigh, whisper again about how much he loves him, how perfect he is, how much Joonmyun needs him.

Praising and holding and breaking him down down down, Joonmyun eases him into three fingers, perfect and precise, curling in a way that leaves Sehun whimpering, wracked with heavy tremors. And Joonmyun waits again until Sehun is begging for it, until he needs it, needs him, please, please, please—before proceeding.

And Joonmyun pins him with his hips, grounds him with his fingers at his waist, so Sehun feels small like that, precious, desperate like that, his lips parting around a shuddery moan as Joonmyun finally, finally, finally presses inside.

Joonmyun bottoms out, retreats, pushes back deep and dragging, and Sehun's convinced he can feel the thrust in his soul, that this moment is something spiritual.

Joonmyun's lips land on his collarbone, fingers drag over his legs, and God, he loves him. He loves him. He needs him, too. Can't do this without him either. God, God, God.

"I love you," he whimpers, and Joonmyun pants into his chest, fucks into him harder, the sound echoing, the force rattling Sehun's entire body. "I love you. I need you."

Joonmyun's fingers curl around his sides, nearly bruising, urging him closer as they lift his spine clear off the bed.

Suspended like that, breathless and moaning and writhing helpless and wanton, Sehun chokes as Joonmyun goes devastatingly deep.

He pushes inside him even harder, even faster, like Joonmyun wants to pound his love into Sehun's body, like he wants to be remembered and loved and wanted and needed if only for this moment alone.

And oh this is what it feels like to burn for love, this is what it feels like to drown for love.

There's an awful, awful precision in Joonmyun’s every thrust, the stretch, the pace, the drag against his prostate, and Sehun is gasping, grasping, clambering, clamoring desperately with every collision of Joonmyun's hips against his ass.

Joonmyun's kisses are sloppy with desire, his fingers urgent, every thrust deep and needy and hot hot hot hot, and the sensations have Sehun reeling, his eyes clenching shut as he sobs out for more.

“I love you, Sehun,” Joonmyun repeats, voice impossibly frayed and impossibly deep and somehow still so heavy with emotion. “I need you, Sehun. Please, look at me," he rasps.

Sehun's eyelashes flutter open, and their gazes lock. And Sehun is drunk on it, utterly greedy for the excruciatingly potent promise of love, the promise of forever that Joonmyun believes with his entire being, even if they’re breaking, even if they’re broken.

But Sehun can’t hold it for long, the pleasure so overwhelming his eyes clench shut. But he can still feel Joonmyun’s gaze, the vastness of his love. His hope. His want. His need.

He needs Sehun, and Sehun needs him, too.

Sehun doesn't ever want this to end.

But Joonmyun's fingers wrap around his cock, tug him to a messy, trembly completion, and Joonmyun's hips stutter to a dirty grind, cock pulsing deep deep deep inside.

And it’s over.

Joonmyun collapses, panting into Sehun’s sweaty chest, shifts to press theirs lips together. And his kisses, in the afterglow are soft, soft, full of love, vulnerability, desperation. Stay with me. Stay with me.

Satiation sits heavy in his bones, and sleep is already tugging at him, more insistent that Joonmyun’s tender kisses, soft fingers in his hair. Sehun never, ever wants to leave.

“Stay with me,” Joonmyun implores, his words whispersoft and so painfully vulnerable. “Come with me to Virginia. I can’t do it without you.“

Sehun's heart folds into itself from how much he loves him, but he doesn't answer, lets himself be cradled, clinging tight to wakefulness, to the warm, perfect body in his arms.

 

Sehun wakes up crying.

 

Sehun hasn’t come back for a month. Has felt restless and ugly and small and desperate with the desire to see Joonmyun and Jongdae again, for a month.

But he makes the most of his time, of this real reality. He studies for finals, spends late nights in the library, in bars afterwards to clear his head. He charms Kyungsoo hyung into cooking him breakfast and dinner 3 days in a row.

The flutter of activity keeps him busy, a welcome distraction, but he’s still notably in a funk, Baekhyun notes, freeloading, offering commentary around a steamy spoonful of macaroni and cheese. The maknae is in need of comforting, right. His eyes look sad. It's the worst when Sehun's eyes are sad. It makes Baekhyun's heart hurt, and he hates it.

“I don’t want to go out,” Sehun sighs, fork shoving a little too meanly at the neon orange mixture, and Baekhyun shuffles next to him in the next instant, wraps an arm around his waist. It isn’t teasing the way his touches so often are, and the tenderness of it—tender with none of his usual sharpness—it nearly undoes him.

“Not to force a distraction,” Baekhyun insists, speaking against his temple. His hand shifts to graze Sehun's side, and warmth crawls up Sehun's spine. Inexplicably, he feels tears spring to his eyes. “Not a seedy club to fuck your feelings away. But somewhere nice, with all of us. Good music, somewhere we can eat, drink, maybe even dance. It can be good, right?”

Sehun doesn't relax into his embrace like he knows he's supposed to, doesn't want to relax into it, and Baekhyun just squeezes harder, small fingers digging into his ribs. "Hyung will treat, Sehunnie. Just don't be sad."

Kyungsoo, who's been watching the encounter from the end of the table, nods. "He'll treat everyone," he decides. "Not just you. His parents just sent his allowance, and he's the oldest."

Sehun nods, and Baekhyun smiles, lands a peck on Sehun's temple, his cheekbone, his nose, trilling about how he doesn't even care that he won't be the oldest if Minseok or Lu Han or Yifan can come, doesn't even care that his friends are taking advantage of him because Sehun's eyes aren't sad anymore.

 

Minseok, Yifan, and Lu Han can come, so Baekhyun's not the oldest. But Baekhyun's eyes light up, and he doesn't complain about his wallet, or how this money is supposed to last him for the whole month and he's under strict orders to buy new shoes and new pants, his mother hates how ratty he's been dressing lately.

No, Baekhyun is all smiles and hums and trills and ringing laughs as they squeeze together into the leather booth.

The chicken is greasy, the beer cold, and the music thumps the bass speakers, thrums through Sehun's body as they speak and laugh and eat.

Five orders of chicken in, there's another person—Minseok’s friend—squeezing into their overfilled booth. He's wearing a cap, a denim shirt, is small enough to sit on Yifan's lap, it's not a problem; we don't need another table, we're fine. The man laughs uncomfortably, pulls his hat off to ruffle his hair but listens. And in the fuzzy fluorescent overhead light, haloed in dim gold, he looks like Joonmyun, a younger Joonmyun.

He even has his lip mole, and that little crinkle he gets in his nose when he's uncomfortable.

Sehun blinks, takes a swig from his beer, but no the face is still there. His eyelashes heavy, eyes uncomfortable, not brimming with the love that leaves Sehun immobilized. But it's him. It's exactly him.

Sehun’s overcome with emotion then, the love heavy and thick in his throat. He can't speak, can hardly breathe, every muscle in his body locking as he chokes with the realization.

Yifan asks if he's okay, and Sehun nods before managing a breathy "yes."

Baekhyun decides then, that it's the time for introductions. Though it's Sehun's party, he's the host, so he should undertake the task.

He starts with himself, works counterclockwise around the table. Minseok and Lu Han, who he of course already knows. Then Kyungsoo, who studies Architecture just like them. Chanyeol, Sculpture. Jongin, Korean Language and Literature. Yifan, the man he's sitting on, he studies English Education.

And Sehun, the man of the hour. Their baby, isn't he precious. He studies Art.

Joonmyun's eyes crinkle with a hesitant, indulgent smile—okay, we'll try the sea food special, Sehun; okay, we'll see watch The Fault in Our Stars even if it is meant for teenagers, Sehun; okay, as your hyung, I'll humor you because I love you, Sehun.

And Sehun realizes that he has to earn it, him, them now, that he can't rest on other Sehun's efforts any longer, that this will be his to build, his to tear apart now.

It's equal parts thrilling and terrifying, but there's something almost fated in this.

"I'm Joonmyun," Joonmyun says. And there’s a hint of the Joonmyun he loves there, a shy flutter of his eyelashes as he meets Sehun's eyes, is briefly jostled on Yifan's lap.

Joonmyun's shoulder brushes his forearm, and Sehun is already so so ahead of him in terms of feelings, needing. Ahead like Joonmyun was with him in the alternate life, and it's terrifying and thrilling that there's no guarantee that this Joonmyun will want him back, love him in that aching and overwhelming way that other Joonmyun did.

But he knows know knows that Joonmyun is worth it, and Sehun's filled with gratitude, with purpose, dizzy as Joonmyun returns his smile, leans forward to whisper out a question about his major, Joonmyun's also in the College of Fine Arts and he's been thinking of maybe picking up another minor. Can he—a pause to right himself on Yifan's lap, lower his voice—can he recommend any classes or books. Can he have his number actually if he has any questions about it.

It's still kind of hard to breathe, kind of hard to talk, and there are way too many people there, elbows and knees digging into his skin. But it's still perfect.

Joonmyun's smile reaches his eyes as he leans forward to speak to him, and Sehun slides his phone forward for Joonmyun to type his name and number, knows with every fibre of his being that he'll give this everything he has.