Summary: 23 years it's taken for him to be brave.
a/n: vowel is right and i do spoil my anons more than i maybe should. polished & revamped ending from original tumblr ask. happy 23rd, giant.
|They throw him a party in the basement, and everybody’s some degree of drunk when management shows up with the cameras. “Pose anyway”, he tells the mumbling kids peeling off the backs of couches to get in line. Kris in the middle watches Yixing lightly handle Luhan up from the beanbag. A minute ago he had his head hanging upside down, so Kris doesn’t know if his apple cheeks mean that he’s drunk.
"You hold the cake." Luhan pushes the tray into Yixing’s hands, on the other side of Kris, and leans back, steadying himself on Chanyeol squatting in the front row. "I’m gonna fall." His eyes are half closed and he does look like he’s tipping. Kris extends an arm around his backside.
"Come on, stand straight. We’ll go home after this."
The picture comes out with Luhan hanging his weight onto Kris, arm dangling around his taller shoulders, striking a peace sign beside Kris’ face. Sehun’s squeezed into him, and the sleeve of his jacket hides whatever hand it could be on his waist.
But when Kris gets back after writing a little thing for their website update, he goes to find Yixing expecting to see Luhan passed out on the other bed, but he’s gone somewhere. “As duizhang I’m booting you out,” he says, entirely unnecessarily to Yixing who’s jamming his feet into slippers at the first word which leaves his mouth. He gurgles something between a sigh and a snicker when he passes, patting Kris on the chest, headed to his room. “I’m ravaging all the candy I find to compensate.” Yixing knows Jongin wrapped some Belgian chocolates. The door shuts on a start to something like “that’s fine, since I’m ravaging your roommate”.
The thing is that Luhan comes back half an hour later, skin still tinted pink, blooming on his pale cheeks pushed up high when he grins at Kris under his own blanket, fiddling with his phone. He’s not surprised, of course he’s not surprised. Luhan unwraps himself, and Kris wonders where he went, if he went to buy that mysterious present he still hasn’t seen, only one missing. He gets down to a shirt, glancing over momentarily before pulling it over his head, unbuckling, stepping out of the pool of his jeans on the floor. He heads to the shower without another word. Kris sits up, knees pulled up to his chest, which drums gently as he closes his eyes and listens. The crank of the shower, rustle of a towel, that maddening drill of Luhan’s electric toothbrush. then the click of the door, and Luhan steps out steam swept in a pair of dark briefs and nothing else. He shuts off the light, brings the door closed.
Kris scoots. Luhan climbs in, feet cold from tiles, and Kris clamps his calves over the little ice bricks to heat them. Luhan yawns, stretches and pops a shoulder bone, sliding until his face presses up against Kris’ arm. Kris sees him looking like he’s going off to sleep and softly chuckles. “Still not going to tell me?”
Luhan opens his eyes again and looks up. Kris smiles down at him, looking smitten and contented, endlessly teasing. He leans in, but then Luhan’s rolling out in a flash, climbing to straddle him over the blanket. “No, I just lied, I don’t have a present.”
"Ah, I’m hurt."
Luhan finds his hands, and plays with his fingers, biting a forefinger once. He laces and unlaces their hands absentmindedly, and Kris wonders what he’s thinking, why he looks all of a sudden so vulnerable the way he never had before, sitting in this position. Luhan looks back at him, and Kris chalks it up to the way his mouth hangs just a little bit open, opened on a secret he would otherwise seal behind throat or teeth but for some odd reason cartwheels in his mouth this night, as the way some unidentifiable emotion does in the gloss on his iris.
"I’m not good with presents," he starts the confession, innocuously enough. "There are only a few things I know you want, and most of these I can’t exactly…find in the streets."
Luhan pulls his hands away, bracing them on the plane of Kris’ stomach. He looks like he’s exerting a tremendous amount of effort simply speaking, but Kris is afraid to gather him closer like he wants to, like the tenuous air would break the moment he touched him, and Luhan would shrink into the comfort of his touch and abandon forever whatever mission he’d set himself on. Kris doesn’t look away, but Luhan isn’t ready to meet him.
"Everyone went to shop so early, there’s not much left for me to do, so I thought…
"Just tonight. Tonight I’ll be honest. I know there are things I never—" and he cuts himself short, like he’s afraid it would give Kris any clues to dig deeper into him than he might have, as if by doing this there was not a part of him that wanted Kris to know, everything and more which Luhan did not know how to tell him on a day when he was not so explicitly allowed to give this intimate information. “—questions that you have, about.” He breathes, deep into his chest, “I’ll let you ask five of them. Anything. I’ll answer truthfully, I promise.”
With an extraordinary amount of effort Luhan looks down, and Kris is staring up at him with awe, and so much admiration, so much affection that he chokes a little on his own breath, until Kris crushes him to his chest. He kicks about until they’re under the same blanket again, his forearms squaring off the sides of Luhan’s head beneath him. Luhan’s awaiting some gentle inquisition, or perhaps some culminating act, that promise building in the thick air between their noses of an imminent…invasion, seizing not only his mind, not only his heart…Kris ends his thought stream. He claims Luhan like he’s hungry, like a kid with his hand stuck within the rubber ring of the cookie jar, until the day he’d finally heard his mother say, “you can have it.”
"How long have you been in love with me?"
Kris touches him, numbingly gentle, unbearably distracting, tantalizing. Luhan’s shaken by how carefully he’s peeled apart even after all this time, like a second consummation of some sort. “Three years, maybe, or two…two winters, I can’t remember—”
He holds his breath. Kris parts him, and Luhan clutches the bedsheets, flushing at his most intimate places, hidden by the palm of a large hand.
"…You make me" but he couldn’t continue the sentence. Kris is shifting, and Luhan bares his throat, and the air trapped releases on something guttural, something more explicitly explanatory. It makes him laugh, until Kris leans and he doesn’t laugh anymore, giving up his words for the simpler. Luhan thinks he is everything that could go in the blank, right there and then. Happy, needy, fearless, irrational, mad, so filled to the brim. There are sweeter things said by the trails of sweat down Kris’ forehead, and Luhan forgets the questions. It’s the morning of November 6, pitch black and silent outside and in, save for their one room, their one bed, their one tangle of limbs together, together and meeting again, and again, and again…
"What’re you thinking?"
"Are you happy?"
Luhan doesn’t speak, but he nods slowly, dragging ends of his hair over Kris’ chest. Kris knows it’s unnecessary, but he lifts a thumb and finds the corner of Luhan’s lips, trying to find the direction they curve, and ends up having his hand confiscated by two smaller, sweaty palms. They lie panting, in the silence. Winter is brittle. There’s a promise in 23, and for a moment Kris wonders if this is the difference between the two of them, the half a year Luhan has on him, if he felt it too seven months ago and have been feeling it since. Seven months to learn how to be brave.
Luhan clutches tight onto the arm around his shoulder. He nuzzles his head a little higher, trying to settle in, and when he gives up he pulls Kris down for a kiss. Luhan’s dizzy. His head lolls back and his mouth falls on Kris’ neck. It stays.
“I love you,” he whispers into the skin.
The words take a moment to diffuse. Through his jugular, into his cells, all of them. His whole body just reverberates with the words, fifty trillion cells, fifty trillion times.
It’s unbelievable, how hard he’s smiling. “I didn’t even have to ask.”