Pairing(s): XiuHan, BaekYeol, KaiSoo, TaoRis
Summary: He doesn't have the right to ask for anything more.
A/N: Sections kind of go back and forth in time since Xiuhan is the only couple that's already dating when the story starts. Also. Luhan tops.
Kyungsoo’s walk slows to a stop. He stares. Bites his lip—because he isn’t sure how to go about this and a part of him wishes he took Mandarin instead of English back in high school because his English is crappy anyway and now his Mandarin is nonexistent. He stares for another two seconds before deciding to forego dignity and go on with makeshift sign language.
“I can speak Korean,” Zitao, 1211 Kim Minseok’s new roommate as apparently advocated by Luhan of 1224, says. He blinks up at Kyungsoo.
“Okay,” Kyungsoo says, blinking back. “Um—why are you sitting out here by yourself?”
Zitao motions back towards the door of 1211 with his eyes. “They’re having sex,” he says.
The choral major sucks in his cheeks, puffs them out. “Oh,” he says.
Zitao blinks again.
“Do you,” Kyungsoo starts, “want to come with me instead of waiting out here? You’re a transfer to the university, right?”
Zitao nods, standing up (Kyungsoo tries not to shrink when Zitao’s head ends up at least ten centimeters above Kyungsoo’s own). “Yes.”
“So you’ll be here for a while, then,” the receptionist says brightly (because, being the receptionist, it’s not often that Kyungsoo gets prospective friends in the apartment that are actually normal and Zitao seems pretty normal—and even if he isn’t, the language barrier should at least keep the insanity from leaking out too much). “You should meet Baekhyunnie and Chanyeolie—”
“The flower man?” Zitao asks, suddenly bright (as Kyungsoo’s brightness fades).
Kyungsoo sighs again. “Yeah,” he says, “the flower man.”
Minseok turns his head, eyes turning downward, when he feels fingers slide against his palm. He looks down to where Luhan is still sprawled, naked and tangled with the white sheets, across Minseok’s bed. “Why’re you getting up so fast?” Luhan asks, pulling at Minseok’s hand lightly, making to yank the teacher back into bed.
“To tell Zitao to come back in,” Minseok answers, amused. “And I’m always up before you anyway.”
Luhan stretches languidly, pulling himself closer so that his head nearly rests in Minseok’s lap—the translator dangles one, thin arm off the bed, wrapping it around Minseok’s waist. “It’s not like we kicked him out,” he grins. “He didn’t have to leave.”
“Definitely not,” Minseok says playfully. “Jumping me right after you get through the doorway definitely doesn’t mean he had to leave.”
The translator laughs (airily and perfectly and lightly and melodically and—). “I mean, we didn’t force him out,” Luhan shrugs. “He’s just a polite kid. Don’t worry about him. I bet Kyungsoo’s doing his rounds and brought him down to the desk or something.”
Minseok stares. “So it doesn’t bother you that your dongsaeng who can barely string together a sentence in Korean is sitting out there alone in an apartment hallway?”
Luhan rolls away on the mattress, laughing even harder this time. “Trust me,” he says, reaching out again and threading their fingers together. “Zitao can take care of himself. And—plus—even if he’s not the greatest at Korean yet, there’s Wufan and Yixing down the hall, remember?”
“Oh,” Minseok says, after a pause. “Right.”
“Right,” the translator smiles, and finally pulls himself up to a sitting position. He slides closer to Minseok. Their eyes meet and Minseok feels his ears burn against the sides of his head the way they always do whenever he looks at Luhan (whenever Luhan looks back at him, and looks back at him like that). Luhan goes up onto his knees, pressing up against Minseok, hand slipping over the teacher’s hip—fingertips curling against the skin of Minseok’s waist. “Don’t worry so much, Baozi,” Luhan hums against Minseok’s lips.
Minseok kisses him back and tries to lose himself in the moment again because, with Luhan, Minseok can never know when the moment will be over (Minseok is thankful for every moment that Luhan’s with him, after all, since someone like Luhan shouldn’t even be with someone like Kim Minseok).
Chanyeol blinks once, and then quickly ushers Baekhyun faster down the hall and towards the elevator (they’re on their way to the movies for a date). The ushering isn’t going as well as it should because Baekhyun keeps trying to turn his head and look back at something Chanyeol, from experience of occupying the same floor as Kim Minseok and Luhan after they began to go out with each other, knows is just better not intruding upon.
“They looked really upset,” Baekhyun says, once Chanyeol finally manages to steer the pharmacist into the elevator.
“It’s okay,” Chanyeol says and tries to sound as convincing as possible (which isn’t very convincing, judging from Baekhyun’s returning expression). “Minseok-hyung and Luhan-hyung fight all the time. But they’re just like—not—really bad fights. They’re just little fights. And then they make up and have sex.”
Baekhyun presses the button for the lobby. “How come they don’t live together if they’ve been dating for a while? I mean—they’re already on the same floor in the same apartment.”
Chanyeol shrugs. “I think Luhan-hyung wants to,” he says, “but Minseok-hyung doesn’t. It’s one of the things they fight about a lot.”
The elevator passes down through the sixth floor as Baekhyun looks up curiously at Chanyeol. “How do you know all this?”
“Sometimes their fights get kind of loud,” the journalist says, “and sometimes Kyungsoo gets sound on the security feeds and lets me watch with him. We bring popcorn to the desk on Friday nights when he doesn’t have homework.”
Baekhyun smiles (their hands meet in the middle, fingers intertwining and Chanyeol’s ears melting off again). “Sounds fun—think he’ll let me watch? I want to make friends with that new Chinese kid too.”
“I’ll ask him about it when we get down there,” Chanyeol grins and squeezes Baekhyun’s hand lightly.
Minseok looks away, stares at the patterned carpet of the hallway floor until Chanyeol and Baekhyun’s footsteps have receded nearly completely down towards the elevator. Then he looks back up at Luhan. “I do care,” he says quietly. “I just—don’t think—”
“That it’s a good idea if we live together,” Luhan finishes just as quietly (because all the energy is gone from their voices after an entire hour of shouting at each other in Minseok’s apartment—shouting at each other across the hall—shouting at each other down the hall). “I know. You’ve said that already. You’ve said that sixteen times already.”
Minseok reaches out to take Luhan’s hand, but the translator takes a step back, shaking his head and walking down the hall towards his apartment without another word—without looking back.
Zitao is almost knocked flat onto his back when he reaches out for the door handle to get back into 1211. He staggers backwards and manages to catch himself with nothing less than the years of balance training he’s had with his martial arts. Minseok rams into him, flustered and clearly hurrying somewhere—and looking more upset than Zitao’s ever seen him in the few weeks he’s been in Korea.
“Sorry,” Minseok says quickly, patting Zitao’s arm. “Sorry—I—you—I need to find Luhan.”
Zitao frowns. He’s pretty sure he was only gone for an hour or two and two hours ago, Luhan and Minseok were happily locking the door to Minseok’s bedroom. And now it looks like they fought. Since when was two hours enough to go from happy to fighting?
“Dinner’s in the kitchen if you’re hungry,” Minseok says, swinging the door open for Zitao to go back in. “I don’t think I’m going to be back tonight.” His expression is so terribly tight and tense and frustrated that Zitao wants to say something, but doesn’t know what to say (even if he was better versed in Korean, he still would have no idea what to say or how to say it).
As he watches Minseok jog down the hall, what they could’ve possibly fought about. From what he’s seen, Minseok loves Luhan too much and from Luhan’s phone calls (every single one of them) Luhan loves Minseok too much right back.
Jongdae is glad that Minseok is shorter than him because otherwise, the action of Minseok stopping straight in the middle of the hallway while Jongdae is walking right behind him would end up with Jongdae’s nose being broken against the back of Minseok’s head (that’s what always happens with Jongdae’s nose and Wufan’s shoulder blades, after all).
But that doesn’t mean that Minseok’s head doesn’t ram into Jongdae’s chin. “Hyung,” Jongdae says, and rubs at his chin.
“Who’s that?” Minseok asks, and Jongdae doesn’t understand why Minseok can’t talk and walk at the same time because if Minseok wants to come over to 1225, the teacher should hurry up before the food gets cold or Yixing decides to eat all of it.
“Who?” Jongdae says and follows the direction Minseok is looking at while taking a few steps forward in an effort to get Minseok walking again.
Minseok still doesn’t take a single step. “The guy Wufan is talking to in front of your guys’ apartment.”
Jongdae squints down the hall (he wouldn’t have to squint if Minseok kept walking). “Oh—that’s Wufan and Yixing’s friend. He just moved here from Beijing so I think Yixing hooked him up with this apartment. Luhan—he’s in 1224.” He glances at the teacher. “Can you—like—walk?”
For some reason, Minseok now looks reluctant to move forward. “He’s really—attractive,” Minseok says under his breath to Jongdae as they get closer and within earshot.
Jongdae grins. “Because he’s Wufan’s ex,” he says and Minseok’s eyes bulge a little as he looks up at Jongdae. “You should meet him, though,” he says, a little louder as Wufan and Luhan stop talking and glance towards the approaching teachers. “He’s nice.”
The first time Jongin walked back to his apartment and saw Kim Minseok of 1211 huddled on the floor a ways down, leaning against the door of 1224, Jongin was drunk and knew he was drunk and thought that he was probably just hallucinating because he was drunk. By now, however, even if Jongin is drunk, he knows that if he sees Minseok huddled in front of 1224—a few doors down and across from Jongin’s own 1217—Jongin knows that he’s definitely not hallucinating because it happens all the time.
From what Joomyeon’s observed and told to Jongin and Sehun, apparently, (since Jongin and Sehun have only moved in with Joomyeon once they started university, while Joomyeon’s already graduated from university but has been here ever since, and thus, was here when Minseok and Luhan began dating a year ago), Minseok and Luhan fight a lot.
But they’ve never broken up yet and the fights never last very long.
“Wow,” Luhan laughs, “you’re terrible. You won’t even let your ex-boyfriend borrow a rice cooker until he can buy one of his own—and you have fucking three of them.”
Wufan sighs. “I don’t have three. I have one, and Yixing has one and Jongdae has one—”
“I hope you know how ridiculous that sounds—”
“Yixing and Jongdae like their rice all weird,” Wufan says dismissively. “And if you need rice, just come over and eat at our place until you get one of your own. You’re moving in all this week anyway—I’ll take you out to get crap this weekend if you need a ri—” The reporter suddenly turns his head away from Luhan, eyes looking down the hall and Luhan follows Wufan’s gaze to where Jongdae (who Luhan had met just yesterday) and another young man are walking towards them.
Luhan blinks—tilts his head. “Who’s that?” he asks, glancing at Wufan.
“Kim Minseok,” Wufan says, “he’s down in 1211.”
Luhan smiles. “He’s cute.”
Minseok closes his eyes and rests his head back against the wall beside the door of 1224.
He wants to move in with Luhan—he’s always wanted to move in with Luhan.
But for practicality’s sake, it’s pointless to move in with someone who Minseok knows won’t be with him for much longer. It might even prolong the nearly nonexistent longevity their relationship has left if Minseok doesn’t let Luhan move in with him (living with Minseok, after all, might just make Luhan want to end things sooner).
In all honesty, he still has no idea why he even said yes when Luhan asked him out. He still has no idea why Luhan asked him out at all. He still has no idea why, when Minseok had the clear prior knowledge that Wufan was Luhan’s ex-boyfriend, he still thought he had a fighting chance actually being with Luhan for more than a measly month.
(He has no idea why he thought someone like him would be able to make Luhan happy)
A part of him wonders why he’s even here, getting ready to apologize again, when he should just let things go—let things end—so he can find someone who’s not as frightening to love and Luhan can find someone who’s more worth his time than Minseok is.
Minseok stares as Wufan waves himself out the door of Luhan’s apartment with an airy, “See you later”, leaving the teacher completely alone with Luhan—with someone who’s too attractive, too perfect, who makes Minseok nervous and who Minseok has only met three days ago. He really wants to throw something at Wufan’s face, except that’s too high up and it’s Wufan. It’s Wufan.
“Y’know,” Luhan says, tugging at Minseok’s sleeve (the teacher tears his gaze away from the door and tries to stop thinking about all the possible ways to politely leave as quickly as possible), “I think your face reminds me of something.”
Minseok prepares himself for something brutal because Luhan used to date Wufan and the weak of heart can’t date Wufan which means Luhan is probably pretty brutal. Also, last week, Minseok met Park Chanyeol—the new inhabitant of 1212—and Chanyeol had told Minseok that the teacher’s face reminded him of a beetle. Admittedly, Minseok knows that Chanyeol never means any harm, but. A beetle.
Luhan is suddenly leaning too closely into Minseok’s bubble of personal space—to the point where Minseok takes an instinctive step backwards. The translator laughs. “You’re like a baozi,” he says brightly.
Minseok blinks—frowns. “What?”
“A steamed bun?” Luhan clarifies in Korean. “But it sounds cuter in Mandarin, right?” He grins and pulls Minseok over into the kitchen by the sleeve. “C’mon,” he says, “I’ll get you a drink and you can tell me about the other people on the floor. I want to make friends so I don’t have to keep hanging out with Wufan and Yixing all the time.”
Minseok is still squinting in confusion by the time he gets dragged towards Luhan’s refrigerator. “Baozi?” he repeats blankly.
Luhan pats him on the back. “Your pronunciation is pretty good,” he says. He slides a glass of lemonade to Minseok.
Minseok knows he’s nowhere as huge as Wufan, but it’s not like Luhan is all that huge either. And yet, somehow, Luhan always manages to knock Minseok straight onto the floor (hurts Minseok’s shoulder blades and thighs) whenever the translator sees Minseok in the hallway right as they’re both getting back from work. Luhan can apparently sprint pretty fast and jump pretty high and hug pretty hard.
He doesn’t even get to catch his breath once he manages to sit up on the floor because he ends up with a face full of Luhan—and by face, he means mouth.
“We’re in the hall,” Minseok feels he needs to say once Luhan finishes taking his tongue out of Minseok’s mouth.
Luhan smiles prettily (but Luhan is always pretty so it feels wrong to describe anything he does as pretty because Luhan is pretty). “You were taking too long to get your key out,” the translator says. “And I wanted to tell you something funny, but I didn’t want to wait.”
“What does that have to do with you attacking me?” Minseok blinks.
The translator’s smile just turns into a grin, and doesn’t move off of Minseok. “So,” Luhan goes on, as if they weren’t tangled up in each other on the floor of an apartment building’s hallway, “you know the new guy in 1212?”
Minseok blinks. “Chanyeol-shii?”
Luhan laughs. “Yeah—so—apparently, he moved because he’s the new guy that got hired at the office—the new journalist—and it’s the best because—like—Wufan, y’know?”
“They get along at the apartment though,” Minseok laughs.
“I never said Wufan doesn’t like working with him,” Luhan grins wider. “It’s just—funny. It’s Wufan and then Chanyeol-shii so it’s—like—funny.”
“So you had a good day, then?” the teacher asks, as Luhan reaches up and lightly pokes Minseok’s cheeks with his knuckles the way the translator always does—always has.
Luhan shrugs, fingers starting to toy through Minseok’s hair. “It was all right,” he says, and cups Minseok’s cheeks with one hand, smiling. “I think it’s about to get a lot better, though,” Luhan says, and leans in close against Minseok’s ear (the teacher can feel Luhan’s lips form a smirk), “right, Baozi?”
If Minseok ever gets jealous of Luhan spending so much time with Wufan at work, at Wufan’s apartment, the teacher will never show it—will never say it—tries not to think about it—holds it in and keeps it down. If Minseok is ever upset, ever scared or worried when Luhan comes home late from work and goes straight to his own apartment without at least dropping by Minseok’s to tell him good night, the teacher bites his lip and says nothing.
If Minseok secretly ever wants to just ask Luhan how much the translator loves Minseok back, then Minseok tells himself that questions like that—requests like that—are whiny and childish and stupid and fucking dumb, and since Luhan is already going out with Minseok in the first place (even though the teacher still has no idea how or why), then Minseok should just shut up and keep his problems to himself.
He’s pathetic, but he’ll do anything and everything that Luhan asks of him.
It’s the least Minseok can do because Luhan is already dating him—it’s selfish for Minseok to expect anything more after that.
He can see Minseok through the peephole.
It’s the same every single time and Luhan is tired of it—tired of Minseok always apologizing for nothing. Sometimes, Luhan wonders what Minseok sees when the teacher looks into a mirror. Sometimes, Luhan thinks that he needs to break whatever mirror Minseok is using because it’s clearly not doing its job.
Minseok is knocked forward when the door suddenly opens (because he guesses that he forgot to lean on the wall and not the actual door—it’s been a while since their last fight, so he’s out of practice). He rubs the back of his now-aching (probably bruised) head, as he stands up and turns around, opening his mouth to say the apology he’s constructed and rehearsed in his head during the few hours he’s been sitting here, waiting for Luhan to—
Luhan throws his arms around Minseok, crushes their bodies together, and buries his face against Minseok’s neck. Minseok blinks with wide eyes as he stares ahead into the open doorway of Luhan’s apartment as the translator’s arms tighten around Minseok’s body until it actually becomes difficult to breathe. “Don’t say sorry,” Luhan mutters against Minseok’s neck. “Don’t—just—don’t.”
Minseok frowns, blinking again. “But—”
“Baozi,” Luhan says and Minseok falls silent (brings his arms up and hugs Luhan back, even though he’s more confused than ever).
Luhan has no idea where he’ll find a mirror that’ll let Minseok see himself the way Luhan sees him, but the translator will look for all eternity—in every nook and cranny around the world—if that’s what it takes.
Mirrors might not lie.
But they don’t show everything there is either.
(Luhan wishes Minseok would realize that)