summary: stages of a relationship. alice in wonderland.
a/n: consider this an extremely late new year's fic and that chorus is just really catchy even tho the rest of the song is a hot mess but catchy chorus makes everything catchy. this was supposed to be cute and fluffy and concise but it ended just being word vomit i feel terrible about this but here you go T.T
“Late, late, late,” he mutters breathlessly, vaulting over a construction sign he definitely would’ve never managed to jump over during his leisure time. A few of the workers start screaming at him for nearly landing on the drying cement (and he knows he isn’t even supposed to go this route because the entire thing is roped off and he could’ve easily fallen into a manhole). He waves a hand in apology as he sprints pass them and hopes that they don’t try to enact revenge by throwing globs of cement at his door or something.
He nearly trips when he turns the corner, and manages to closely avoid ramming into a pregnant mother and her wobbling toddler. He shouts another apology and winces as he has to slide painfully up against another building to catch his next swerve. The building comes into view so slowly that he does believe all the surrounding buildings must have magically moved just to make things harder for him today.
The lobby is mercifully empty of anyone who knows him closely enough to call him out on how he’s twenty minutes late to a Very Important Meeting for the second time this week, and he races past the main desk, past security, bows like a bobble-head to any sunbae who passes him, and starts up the escalators like an energizer bunny because he can’t afford to waste any time waiting for the elevator. The halls aren’t as mercifully empty as the lobby, but he reaches the fourth floor fast enough (and he hopes to all the deities that might exist that there won’t be sweat stains), and he ignores Chanyeol laughing at him (and hopes that the taller man spills coffee on himself).
In retrospect, he does suppose that he could’ve done something marginally smoother—anything that wasn’t bursting into the room (not falling on his face though, and he deserves bonus points he does believe) and shouting, “I’m really, really late.”
“For a very important date,” a young man at the table finishes amusedly, and Minseok’s eyes immediately flicker to that face because it’s not a face he recognizes.
The only other person in the conference room is Wufan, who looks—as expected—all sorts of irritated. “We’re not in Wonderland,” he snaps, looking from the young man and then to Minseok.
The young man shrugs.
The young man, Minseok thinks, is rather attractive.
“The meeting can’t be over,” Minseok says in disbelief. “I’m twenty minutes late.”
“It was a fast meeting,” the young man says, and Wufan glares at him again even as the young man grins unapologetically. Minseok’s mouth shakes with the threat of a smile.
“Before you promise me that it won’t happen again,” Wufan says, standing up and dusting invisible dust off of his lapels, “this is Luhan.” He jerks his head sideways to the young man beside him, who also gets to his feet and steps around to shake Minseok’s head with a brief bow. “He’s new in our department—my other co-director on this project—and since you were late—”
Minseok knows that tone even before the words finish leaving Wufan’s mouth.
“Kim Minseok,” he says to Luhan and offers a small smile, because there’ve probably been worse punishments in the world than having to babysit a new, attractive colleague.
“You look more like an Alice than a White Rabbit,” Luhan says, shaking Minseok’s hand again and Minseok can only burst into laughter as Wufan rubs at his own pulsing temples.
Late nights at the office slaving over the project, and Minseok is glad that Luhan seems to know all the best coffee shops in Seoul (and all the ones open twenty-four hours). He squints at the two samples he’s supposed to be deciding on because he’s spent the entire day staring at samples, and all the words and colors and lines have started to either blur together or double up on him. One of the samples is from Kyungsoo and the other one is from Junmyeon and Minseok supposes that Kyungsoo’s makes a better use of Chanyeol’s slogan so he ends up deciding on that one and putting Junmyeon’s to the side.
A napkin with a doughnut and a steaming Styrofoam cup are placed on his desk just as Junmyeon’s sample gets placed on the rejection pile. “Thanks for being a lifesaver,” Minseok says, grabbing the doughnut and immediately tearing it in half so he can stuff on end into his mouth. Luhan perches on the edge of the desk, legs touching the armrest of Minseok’s chair.
“Thanks for deciding between those two,” is the reply, and Luhan grins as he gestures at Kyungsoo’s and Junmyeon’s works. “I snuck them into your pile because I was too wimpy.”
Minseok raises his eyebrows, blinks around the doughnut. He chews quicker, swallowing and emptying his mouth so he can say, “Yeah—it’s hard—they’re both really pretty this time around. Those two always do a great job.”
Luhan nods once. “Pretty,” he agrees, looking into Minseok’s eyes.
For some reason, Minseok instinctively stuffs the rest of the doughnut into his mouth in one go. It stretches his cheeks taut and he blinks up again at Luhan with his face like that—and he isn’t sure what possibly possessed him to make sure that he looked as unattractive as possible in front of an extremely attractive co-worker, but he supposes that it must have done something because Luhan breaks into a highly amused bout of laughter.
Minseok downs the enormous bite with a mouthful of coffee, and taps at Luhan’s arm just as the other man finishes laughing. “Honestly—where do you get this stuff?”
And then, all too suddenly, Luhan is placing a hand on either armrest, twirling the chair around and leaning in so that he’s hovering over Minseok—mere inches separating their faces, mere moments separating their mouths. “I could take you there,” Luhan says playfully, and Minseok is back to blinking—three parts confused and one part counting down the seconds until Luhan inevitably leans in and brings their lips together. “If you’re straight, though,” Luhan says, “I’m going to have to punch you and then ask you not to sue me.”
“Okay, I really—really—really like the coffee,” Minseok says, “can you kiss me?”
Luhan smiles brightly. “Saturday—text me your address—I’ll swing by at four,” he says, right as he closes the few centimeters between their lips.
“Are you dating Luhan?” Wufan asks, peering over a cup of Luhan’s finest brew (which Minseok knows the secret to now—for your information). The chief of Minseok and Luhan’s department stands over Minseok’s desk one morning, purposefully knocking over Minseok’s porcelain duck until it falls flat into a pile of paperclips.
Minseok rights his duck. “I fail to see how that’s your business.”
“I’m rescinding your rights to use the good hole-puncher,” Wufan says. He knocks Minseok’s duck down again.
It’s freezing—it’s freezing, freezing, freezing—but Minseok lets the breath puff out of him in visible clouds. He runs and runs and runs and doesn’t stop even when he sees the finish line because the finish line catches him with warm arms around his waist, and a laughing huff of surprise as they wobble unsteadily for a few moments in an effort to regain footing. Luhan’s peals of laughter ring loud and familiar in Minseok’s ear and he tightens his own arms around Luhan’s neck as the other man steers them behind a large tree in the park.
“You’re late,” Luhan says, and barely gives Minseok enough room to pull back. Minseok can’t see anything other than dark, teasing brown and long lashes. His own eyes close as he tilts his head and tastes soft and warm and Luhan on his lips for the briefest of moments.
“For a very important date,” Minseok finishes apologetically.
Luhan shrugs. “Half a year—not too important,” but his tone is lilting and playful.
Minseok leans up and kisses him again. “Sorry,” and he offers a tiny smile.
The arms around Minseok’s waist tighten as Luhan presses him against the tree they’re hidden behind, safe from view from the rest of the evening joggers and families and couples walking through the park for a winter outing. “Give me another six months,” Luhan cups Minseok’s face with gloved hands and the wool tickles Minseok’s cold-flushed cheeks, “and maybe we’ll call it even, Alice.”
Minseok grins and tugs Luhan forward by the scarf.
“Does he dirty talk in Mandarin when you two have sex?” Baekhyun asks over a makeshift lunch of leftover eggrolls and cold water one afternoon. Chanyeol snickers across the other end of the table and Kyungsoo’s round eyes suddenly grow that much rounder behind a thermos of tea.
Minseok pauses, half the eggroll in his mouth and half still between his fingers. “Sometimes,” he says, voice muffled slightly before he bites down and tears off a mouthful. He holds the torn eggroll over the plate, making sure that nothing flakes off onto the conference table because Wufan has already threatened to also rescind Minseok’s privileges at using the good fax machine.
“Do you ever know what he’s saying?” Chanyeol puts in, and squirts more sauce onto his own eggroll.
“I don’t speak Mandarin,” Minseok says with a shake of his head.
“Ask someone to translate,” Kyungsoo suggests.
Minseok takes a swig of water. “Did.”
Baekhyun blinks. “Who?”
“Wufan,” Minseok takes a smaller bite of the remaining half of his eggroll. He chews deliberately and swallows before he continues, “I’m not allowed to use the good copier anymore now.”
Kyungsoo pats his back sympathetically.
Lazy mornings in bed, and Minseok is glad that Luhan has a mattress softer than the clouds of heaven. Whenever they can get away from the project over the weekend (because sometimes work calls for meetings on Saturdays and Sundays in order to keep up with the deadlines), Minseok always tries to edge things over to Luhan’s apartment because Luhan’s mattress. He refuses to open his eyes until he feels a warm mouth covering his and there’s heated skin pressed down on his own naked body. “You have good taste in beds,” Minseok stretches, fluttering his eyelids open to stare right up at Luhan’s sleepy face.
Luhan turns to the side to yawn, pressing himself back down, elbows framing Minseok’s head as his hand plays its fingers into Minseok’s hair. “I have good taste in bed,” Luhan corrects amiably as he tilts the other man’s chin upward and their lips meet with curling tongues and hushed sighs. Minseok shifts beneath Luhan, carting his hips upward so that something else of theirs meets and Luhan laughs wickedly in response, burying his face in Minseok’s neck for swift kisses down Minseok’s throat.
“I know,” Minseok says, spreading his thighs and letting Luhan settle in between them. Their eyes meet and Minseok grins, biting back a laugh. “I’m here, aren’t I?”
Luhan pulls up an eyebrow. “Modest,” he comments.
Minseok raises his hand as though he’s about to pledge an oath. “Only the purest,” he says with a straight face—one that would have been far more successful if Luhan hadn’t chosen that exact moment to disappear under the sheets and Minseok’s back arches and he has to bite his lip to bite back a shout of surprise (amongst other things) and when Luhan’s head emerges from beneath the covers, resting on Minseok’s stomach, his smile is all kinds of devilish.
“The purest,” Luhan echoes as Minseok squirms and holds back the urge to grab Luhan by the hair and force his head back down to where Minseok sorely needs it to go, “definitely.”
When the project reaches the halfway point, tensions run high between the co-directors under the design department, and for an entire week everyone avoids Minseok and Luhan in the office. It happened one night at Minseok’s house—there were disagreements, torn papers, ideas for the project that both parties refused to give up—and the end result was a horrid standstill with neither of them speaking to the other. They haven’t talked in a week, and whenever they have to work together at the office, they split the task right down the middle and get to business as far away from each other as possible.
The fight was stupid and even though Wufan doesn’t normally care how the people under him get along out of work, even he goes to Minseok one afternoon and quietly says that maybe he and Luhan should talk things out. Minseok doesn’t reply and merely stares until Wufan shifts uncomfortably and walks away. He lets out a sigh once the other man is gone. He knows that he needs to talk things out with Luhan because of the little ache in his chest that hasn’t gone away ever since one night, one week ago, when Luhan stomped out of Minseok’s apartment after it escalated into a full-on shouting match.
He saw Luhan go home an hour ago so before Minseok leaves the office, he texts Luhan—asking to meet Minseok out at the park between their apartment complexes tomorrow morning since it’s a Saturday. When the reply comes, Minseok lets out a relieved breath and heads home in a marginally better mood than he’s been all week.
“Late, late, late,” he mutters angrily—angry at himself, as he races down the sidewalk and skids around a corner, straight through the gates of the park. The alarm he set on his phone somehow managed to set itself an entire twelve hours ahead of the time Minseok set it for last night. He’s late—horribly late—forty-five minutes too late—to say sorry, to make things better, and of all things to be late for, Minseok is late for this. He’s the one who set up the meeting too, who asked Luhan to be up early on a Saturday morning.
He has to swerve expertly around a few small children waddling in from the playground that’s across the park, and also dodges a couple of fathers running with their strollers in an effort to catch up to their older children. Minseok reaches the usual bench and tree and wonders if he should’ve just forgone the entire thing and called because no one would wait forty-five minutes and—this just seems stupider and stupider the more Minseok thinks about it and he’s really stupid—he is really, really stupid—and—
He sprints when he catches sight of Luhan coming out from the other side of the giant tree, heading for the sidewalk and probably about to head home. Minseok catches the back of Luhan’s shirt. Luhan turns around and Minseok bends over, hands on his knees as he tries to catch his breath enough to apologize for being late to apologize. “I’m really,” he huffs—pants, “really late.”
“For a very important date,” Luhan says quietly, but when Minseok looks up, the other man’s eyes are just amused the way they always are. There’s something gentle and new in his expression though as he says, “I’m sorry, by the way.”
Minseok blinks, straightens up. “What?”
“Sorry,” Luhan repeats and offers a small smile.
“But I’m sorry,” Minseok says blankly.
Luhan stares at him.
Minseok blinks again.
Luhan hooks his fingers through the empty belt loops of Minseok’s jeans. “C’mere,” he says, and the grin that dances through Luhan’s eyes is far more familiar and soothing than any oddly gentle apology between them. Minseok lets himself be pulled into a soft kiss, and he sneaks his hands underneath Luhan’s open jacket, pressing his fingers into the cotton of the other man’s t-shirt. Luhan’s hands grip Minseok’s hips firmly—playfully—and when they draw apart Luhan just shakes his head. “Alice,” he says and Minseok throws his arms around Luhan’s neck, buries his smile in Luhan’s shoulder.
Endless nights of going back and forth between Minseok’s and Luhan’s apartments and one evening, they sit across each other at the café they had their first date on—the place where Luhan gets the coffee of all coffee—and this time, Minseok decides to make the first move. He steals a bite of Luhan’s doughnut, lets Luhan have a sip of Minseok’s pumpkin coffee, and then he turns his laptop around (they always bring their work to the café—free Wifi and being in public place together helps them from getting handsy and distracted) to face Luhan.
“It’s close to the office,” Minseok says as Luhan looks around his own screen to glance at what Minseok is showing him. “And I like the wallpaper it comes with.”
As Luhan reads over the list of features, the price, the location, the surroundings, Minseok reaches around both of the laptops to grab the rest of Luhan’s doughnut because Luhan downed over half of Minseok’s coffee. Luhan catches him just in time to rescue the last few bits of pastry and stuffs it into his mouth while making a horrific face at Minseok—the sort that make children cry. “So?” Minseok asks, looking down mournfully into his nearly empty cup of wondrous pumpkin coffee.
Luhan swallows, licking frosting from his lips. “I like it, too,” he says. Smiles. “Let’s get it.”
“I’m tossing my bed,” Minseok adds, “and we can just use yours. We can get a new frame, but—Luhan-ah—that mattress.”
The other man laughs. “I got it, Kim Minseok—I got it.”
He’s in charge of making up a pitch for the ad, so he lies on his back one night on the bed, eyes to the ceiling of their apartment (their apartment—and it’s still so nice to say in his head) and tries to think of a good idea to sell a perfume for young teenage girls that he personally thinks smells like cotton candy gone wild. The graphics and slogan are ready, but he needs to come up with a title and something to explain that title—a concept—and he wishes that Wufan would’ve just given this part to Luhan.
(but he knows that Wufan can’t because Luhan only joined the company this year so it’s up to Minseok for this project)
Luhan comes padding in, freshly showered for the night and ready for bed. His sweats drag slightly on the floor as he climbs in beside Minseok and lies down beside him, only stomach down rather than spread-eagle like the other man. One arm comes across Minseok’s waist, pulling close against Luhan’s side. Damp hair tickles Minseok’s cheeks as Luhan brushes their lips together. “Lightbulb flicker on yet?” Luhan asks as Minseok flips onto his back and slides in closer, head resting on Luhan’s chest.
“Nope,” Minseok sighs.
“You have a couple of weeks.” Luhan shrugs, jostling Minseok’s head, hand carding through Minseok’s hair. “It’ll be okay—you’ll think of something.” He pinches Minseok’s cheek, most likely to be annoying than anything else (that’s always the reason behind everything Luhan does to Minseok) and Minseok makes an abortive movement as though to bite Luhan’s hand. Luhan pulls his fingers back hastily and laughs.
On the mornings of important meetings, Minseok is always woken up with a slow, languid kiss and a laughing, “Alice,” whispered into his ear as warm hands wrap around his wrists and tug him out of bed.
He hasn’t been late for a single important date since.
(Wufan gives him back his hole-puncher, fax machine, and copier rights—and also no longer abuses his porcelain duck)
The idea for the pitch hits him one afternoon at the office when everyone else is out for lunch, and Minseok is the only one left because he needs to finish typing up a brief report on the status of the ad campaign. Or at least—he thought he was the only one left because he clearly isn’t when a body slams into his back and arms are thrown tight and teasing around his waist. Luhan’s chin is hooked on Minseok’s shoulder and the laugh rings in bright peals into Minseok’s ears.
“Got you,” Luhan whispers playfully.
Minseok snorts. “You always get me.”
Luhan rocks them back and forth for a moment, presses a swift kiss to Minseok’s cheek before letting him go and settling for intertwined fingers—closely held hands. “So?” Luhan blinks, tugging at their conjoined hands and motioning to how they should join the others for lunch. “You got me too.”
Minseok blinks back, confused. “When?”
And for some reason, that pulls another laugh out of Luhan. “Ever since you fell down the rabbit hole, Alice,” Luhan says. He tilts his head towards the elevators. “C’mon—or we’ll both be late and Jongdae’ll only order enough servings for ten people.”
He’s still rather confused as he lets Luhan pull him into the lift, but as the pass through the floors and towards the lobby, Luhan’s words string together in a way that suddenly—in Minseok’s mind—start to sound intensely appealing to a young teenage girl shopping for perfume that smells like knocked up cotton candy.
Wufan stamps a check of approval on the pitch, Minseok presents it at the agency (and isn’t late for that date), the manufacturer company heads like it, the campaign is bought, the perfume actually begins to sell (and Minseok almost feels bad for any olfactory systems damaged in the making), and it takes a few months but both Minseok and Luhan, along with the other ten people on their team, get the fat paychecks the past months have been inching along towards.
“We should buy a new sofa,” Luhan suggests on a Friday evening as he and Minseok walk towards the restaurant to celebrate their project’s success with the others (Kyungsoo made early reservations because it booked out terribly fast near the weekends).
“Black,” Minseok says, “so it won’t matter if I spill coffee on it.”
“Black,” Luhan agrees, “so it won’t matter if we have sex on it.”
Minseok looks at the other man. “It’s like you’re always a step ahead,” he says, admiringly.
Luhan smiles and slips his hand into Minseok’s.
I got a boy 멋진 I got a boy 착한
I got a boy handsome boy 내 맘 다 가져간
I got a boy 멋진 I got a boy 착한
I got a boy awesome boy 완전 반했나 봐