Summary: Kris is tired, and Luhan's acting like not introducing the panini grill to the family on time is the biggest mistake he’s ever made.
a/n: can you tell how done i am with trying to come up with fic names............otherwise, inspired by a prompt from aren's prompt book:
"describe something you wanted badly and, once you got it, never used."
|The whole deal with the panini press started about two weeks ago, when they had lunch at the Subway on the ground floor of Kris’ office building. They were in a rush for time to get food, because Luhan’d slept through half their lunch appointment at the restaurant, showing up at Kris’ office hastily dressed and everything. Luhan had to watch them pile cartoned meat on a footlong they were splitting, and when the kid in the cap asked if they wanted it toasted, the two of them called out “yes” and “no” at the same time.
“I don’t understand the logic behind warm bread and cold fillings,” Luhan bit into his turkey sandwich, untoasted, sitting in the dingy corner of the little place, in the ridiculously high stools installed. He could feel the fresh lettuce and the cold cucumbers and thin pieces of cold swiss cheese, all mingled in his mouth.
“If I could get them to toast the lettuce too, I would,” replied Kris, peeking into his (also) untoasted half of a sandwich. Luhan told him absently that that would make the sandwich a panino. Kris had been taken aback for a second, pursing his lips side to side, and told him, “then I guess that makes me a fan of panini.”
Luhan wouldn’t have thought then, that after all the effort he would put in acquiring a grill for their kitchen, he would wake up the morning after with it sitting quietly on the marble counter, with nobody in the house but himself. When he woke up that morning, he’d been startled awake hours before his usual rise time to the gnawing realization that he’d forgotten the groceries in the trunk, and along them the box with the panini grill. It’s like he heard it in a dream. He’d sleepily lifted the trunk of the SUV, sticking his fingers in the holes on the side of the box, and carried it in with his back hunched like it’s the guiltiest thing he’s ever done, leaving the grill alone in the cold, like not introducing it to the family on time was the biggest mistake he’s ever made.
Logically speaking, Luhan knows that Kris would have left the night before anyway, even if he had brought out the grill as a surprise, as proof of something he didn’t think he’d need to prove. It wasn’t the problem, and they both knew it. Bringing it out would have made them both feel worse.
On paper it’s not a breakup. Kris won’t call it a breakup because he’s a fucking dick who’s a little scared of finalities, with that spark of hope that’s always impossible to eradicate lodged in his heart, and Luhan’s simultaneously clinging to that and cursing him because a break is as good as a break up.
There was no real fight. Kris didn’t look angry, just stressed and tired, and miles of disappointed. It’s the only look Luhan can crumble under, so he didn’t say anything when Kris asked for answers. We’ve been a mess. He started off soft; he’s said this before when he wanted to hug Luhan, but he didn’t look like he wanted to hug Luhan then. Then he upped his game. No, I’ve been okay, but you’ve been a mess. What’s going on? Luhan shrugged, but his shoulders felt heavy, and he tried to smile, but Kris didn’t smile back this time. It’s like you’ve lost control of your life all of a sudden, Lu. You’re off to places you never go, you’re contacting people you haven’t talked with in years. I found you freezing on a park bench at midnight. I can’t find you when I need--when I need you. When I want to see you. It’s like you’ve ditched this whole thing we share, Lu. You’ve been exclusively alone, and I don’t...I don’t see myself in this picture. He gestured to this picture, palms up and outstretched, like a magician presenting the hat and the rabbit. Luhan was shrinking where he sat on the stool on the other side of the island, hands curled tightly on his legs. He wasn’t angry; he was winded, hit with Kris’ disappointment multiplied. “I’m sorry,” he said at last, looking thoroughly like a wilted flower, and something happened to Kris when Luhan didn’t offer more than that. I think we need to take a break, Lu, was what he said. If you’re losing interest in-- the keys in his hands rattled. You know I’m at a pivotal point in my career, you know that. I think you should sort yourself out before you-- come back, Luhan can finish it off for him, and Kris is a dumbfuck if he thinks Luhan isn’t coming back, but he guesses maybe that’s the impression he’s been giving, like he doesn’t want to be here. Kris doesn’t offer his help before he steps out, and Luhan knows these days Kris is beyond busy just helping himself, not to mention he doesn’t know how he can ask for it anyway.
He takes the groceries in--he’d forgotten them again after getting the grill--and tosses some vegetables in soy sauce, microwaving a scoop of rice from the cooker. He didn’t want anything greasy, but the bread in the bag is specifically panini bread, and eating it cold the way he does seems like such a waste. He pushes the apricots to the back of the fridge, puts the celery and zucchinis in the compartment. He tosses out the old bottle of italian dressing, a layer of just thick sediments left at the bottom, and slots in a new one. Lastly, he pulls the bread out, and after a minute arranges the top shelf and slides it gently in beside the juice cartons, too afraid to just squish it in.
The next time he touches the bread would be two days later, when he’s tired of being reminded with every brew of tea in the morning that the panini grill he’d once been so excited to get has only been sitting neglected until now. It nags at somewhere deep in him. Against his good judgement he thinks that maybe he’d come to like warm sandwiches too, if he tried enough. Luhan takes out the bread, some bacon, shreds some cheese and slices a tomato. He washes a few leaves of lettuce, before he’s piling all this onto the bread, already set on the grill. Only when he’s lowering the handle does he think about maybe googling the instructions, prep time, but hands on experience would be fine too. Everyone goes through failures.
The grill seems to want to help him succeed, with preset times and temperature and all. Luhan sets it for a 30 second grill, and in the meantime goes to boil some water for tea. He’s rummaging the cupboards for his tea stash when the timer goes off, and he keeps searching for a minute, obstinate to find that particular brand. It doesn’t really occur to Luhan that metal takes a while to cool until he’s lifting the grill, and the first panini he ever tried to make is being vulgarly torn apart, bread stuck to the top of the grill and insides tumbling down and onto the harsh black surface.
So he’d managed to fuck up a sandwich. It’s 7:30 in the morning, fifteen minutes before Kris would have woken him up, because Kris always lets Luhan sleep a little longer. The astringent ring of an unfamiliar alarm still rattles in the empty space where another body should’ve been, in the space inside his head when he’s silent, staring at the slain mess before him. It’s August, but it’s so cold that morning, cold kitchen tiles numbing Luhan’s toes like it’s finally all starting to transition, summer to winter. It hits him like a wave, that maybe this really is the end, even if Kris is only putting space between them so they can both clear their heads. That maybe in Luhan’s absence Kris will realize it doesn’t feel as empty as he’d imagined because Luhan doesn’t do much anyway. Sure he’s proficient and functional in the real world, but when it comes to Kris he seems to lose his senses. Luhan screws up Kris’ work schedule at the most inopportune times when he’s seized by a selfish need to see him. Luhan drags him around Home Depot chanting “we can just move shit around” when Kris tells him they don’t have room for a panini grill. Luhan spends their gas money on a machine he can’t even operate properly. It occurs to him that maybe he won’t ever get to make Kris a fucking panini because Kris has realized he’s better at surviving anyway. He backs up into the fridge door, knees weak all of a sudden. The water is tumbling in its boiler on the counter, and the whistle goes off right as Luhan hits the fridge. The smell of burnt bread assaults Luhan’s senses, and his eyes start to water.
Through his blurred vision he turns around to take a spatula off the hook, and then approaches the grill. The bread stuck on top comes off okay, but the slice on the bottom is completely stuck, and the tomato slices that had fallen off onto the grill have shriveled up and charred. Luhan takes off as much as he can and hacks at the burnt parts, scraping it with the spatula, but the sharp metal piece leaves dull white scratches on the otherwise smooth surface. Luhan throws the spatula into the sink, tumbling into the couch and curling up into himself. He doesn’t so much cry into his knees as he just lets his tears run wildly and silently into the collar of his pullover, trying so hard to hold back any whimpers.
He loathes himself for not having an answer when Kris asked what’s been going on, because nothing is going on. Nothing’s going on, and it’s so scary because nothing has gone on, no catalyst or anything, just him fucking up big time over nothing. It’s all in Luhan’s goddamn head, this Tasmanian Devil drilling across the expanse of him, cracking the ground he stands on. Just that one morning about two weeks ago Luhan woke with Kris’ arm around his waist, hand stuck in an awkward angle under him, and when Luhan lifted the sleeping guy’s hand to plant a kiss on each and every one of his knuckles he’d realized that he’s okay with spending the rest of his life with him. It’s so scary, because there’d been nothing but the wrinkly skin of Kris’ joints on his lips but Luhan just knew.
And maybe Luhan did the grocery run a week late because he’d felt like takeout, y’know? Maybe he’d slept three nights straight at a hotel because the AC in their house broke, y’know? Maybe this time Luhan didn’t pick up the home phone and shut off his cell because he was out buying a panini grill for you, y’know? But even Luhan knows it’s not true, at least not for yesterday. He’d been on the couch, hugging himself tight, trying to sit on the device and mitigate the hypnotic ringing with pillows, and Kris just kept calling. We have a dinner appointment with my boss’ top client and you are not here. Why are you not here. The texts on his phone read. He doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t know why a kindergarten teacher as irrelevant as any NYC kindergarten teacher would be asked to dine with Kris’ Wall Street clients. He’s scared to know how Kris would introduce him, how wide he’d smile just saying whatever term he chose that day. He’s scared to know what he’ll be to Kris in ten years.
He didn’t mean to go Houdini on Kris, he really didn’t. He didn’t mean to turn on the tap and let Kris’ tenderness trickle into his bloodstream where his thick skin had been pierced open. He didn’t mean to get used to waking up and feeling first thing an all-encompassing sense of safety wrapped in someone else’s arms. What Luhan was before, scabbed and all, Kris broke it all down for him bit by bit with every little promise that he kept, and Luhan was helpless to stop it. Now, he wants to be a part of Kris’ routine, his orderly agenda, Luhan who’s always dreamed of traveling the world and falling into hundreds of romances relinquished when the sun rises. And now Kris is gonna break up with him because Luhan realized, with mind body and soul, that he’s wholly in love with him, and he doesn’t understand what this means for himself.
When he comes to, Luhan spends 10 dollars on a strong enough appliance cleaner, and finally gets rid of the gunk before his mom’s late email arrives, telling him the easiest way to get rid of scorches is to soak it in a salt and vinegar solution.
Two weeks later, Luhan’s standing outside Kris’ office, heart shooting up his throat as he tries to hide against the narrow strip of wall beside his door. There’s a meeting going on inside and the blinds are drawn, but Luhan knows you can still see silhouettes from within. He leans his head back, taking in large gulps of breaths with his eyes closed, trying to calm his nerves before he’ll have to face Kris again.
He isn’t nearly ready when the heavy door swings open, and a client steps out, still talking with Kris who follows just a step behind with his hand on the door handle. The other man seems to jump a little when he notices Luhan, stopping as he appraises him, and Kris looks over too and Luhan’s breath just hitches. He feels like he’s been caught red handed, with the way Kris looks surprised for a second and composed the next. Luhan’s staring right at him and Kris is staring right back, both trying to read each other. The client beside him notices the intense exchange and asks inquisitively, “and who is this?”
“Oh, uh, this is my, uh--”
“I’m a delivery--I mean I have. Delivery.” Luhan pulls hastily on the strap slung across his shoulder, showing him the carrier bag. “Food.” He nods once, smile a little shaky.
The man looks a little startled, but after a moment chuckles once, “I see.” He turns back to Kris to finish his interrupted thought. “Then I’ll see you next week, Yifan. Take care of yourself.”
“Alright, sounds good.”
When he turns down the hall, Kris finally turns back to look at Luhan, finding him peering up at him under the brim of his cap. When Kris meets his eyes Luhan blanks for a moment and looks away, hands clenching around the carrier. Kris looks down at it, then backs up to gesture for Luhan to come in. He brings the door closed behind them.
“That bag doesn’t look big enough for my pizza,” he says, trying to control his voice, but the teasing escapes a little in his tone. Luhan doesn’t know how glad he really is that he’s here, when Kris had thought he’d never show up again, thought he’d been too crass in dealing with what could have been sensitive problems to Luhan, too selfish in not offering any help or trying to get him to talk about it, thought maybe Luhan was tired of being together after so long. Seeing him all dressed for the role, wearing the cute little hat from his kindergarten, Kris is trying really hard not to grin when he sinks down into his leather chair and props his arms on the table to look all authoritative.
“It’s not pizza,” Luhan simply says, setting the bag on the table. Kris watches him pull out two of something wrapped in aluminum foil, and two boxes of apple juice. Whatever is in there smells incredibly good, and Kris is exceptionally hungry, but he has to get things cleared out first.
“And what does this all mean, Luhan?” He says, voice soft, leaning forward now. Luhan’s peering down at him with crystal clear eyes, small smile on his lips as he unwraps the foil.
“It means that this...concludes my extended Bachelor party.” He peels back the foil, and Kris looks down to where the smell is from to find a panino sandwich, sliced in half down the middle. His eyes follow Luhan intently as he moves, walking around his desk and stopping right in front of Kris. He reaches down, takes one of Kris’ hands from the armrest, and brings it up to his lips. His breath ghosts over the back of Kris’ hand when he speaks. “I would marry you, Kris.”
Kris lets Luhan press kisses over every one of his knuckles. His insides are churning, threatening to burst, ribs too tight for this expanding heat radiating from the inside of his chest. His eyes prickle a little, too. He couldn’t have guessed, even in his wildest dreams, that this was what Luhan had to sort through, that this would be his conclusion. That the Luhan who’s stopped at nothing and stayed for no one, the Luhan who’s always, always looking for better, would decide that in this lifetime, Kris could be enough for him.
Luhan lets go of his hand, and Kris stands, a little unsteady as he pulls Luhan into him, clutching him, and Luhan too wraps his arms around Kris after a moment, nuzzling his head into Kris’ shoulder. “I missed you, oh god,” he says the last part in a whisper. Luhan nods against him. Luhan pulls back, but then he’s pushing on Kris’ shoulders, sitting him back down before he’s leaning in, capturing his mouth and diving in. Kris closes his eyes, smiling so wide as he lets Luhan kiss him breathless, until he’s panting for air when he pulls away. His chin is tilted, waiting for Luhan to lean in again.
“You better like this,” says Luhan softly, and Kris knows he’s smiling, and Kris is just about to tell him of course he will when he feels the rough texture of bread being pushed against his open lips.
a/n: im guilty yes im guilty i will stop spitting out drabbles and work on HTGRQ now thank u all goodbye