Pairing: Kris/Luhan, mentions of Kris/Lay and Kris/Kyungsoo
Summary: The mailman’s almost here with the bad news: Kris Wu with the literal broken heart of 7839 East Sablefish Drive has a new boyfriend. He’ll be here with the news...any time now...
a/n: Basically this. Is a great big potpourri of AU ideas mixed into one. Seaside town+mailman+surfer+writer+magic. Yes Kris has a literal broken heart, no it's nothing fancy, his heart's literally like what fifth grade kids draw with the zigzag down the middle. That's it that's the whole story. Also Luhan's a mailman. It's not the most serious thing ever and it gave me frustrations but I had a lot of fun. Enjoy suckas. I'm so damn done with summer.
|As soon as Luhan turns down the street, Kris is the first thing he sees. It’s like his eyes just instantly narrow in on him, slouching against the little mailbox in a fucking bath robe, twirling the little red flag like a pinwheel with a finger, staring right at the intersection Luhan just wandered into. His heart pretty much seizes up for a millisecond and he just stops walking dead center of the road, staring ahead at the small figure of Kris in the distance. His little messenger bag’s full and heavy heavy against his hip, and he clutches tightly onto that as he starts walking again like he hasn’t seen anything, like it’s any other day when he delivers the mail by himself early in the morning.
He pulls out a few letters and looks down at them. There’s a magazine for the first house left. There’s a stack of bills for the house on the right. Some miscellaneous things, and a package for the house just before the cul de sac. He walks down the empty street, pointedly not looking at Kris poised on his right, one arm on his waist and another resting on the box, looking like that cardboard cutout of Joonmyun in an apron outside his coffee shop. He makes his way around the curve, tossing a thing or two into every mail box. Kris is waiting, still posed like a statue at the end of the curve, and Luhan’s so close to him now he can hear him take a sip out of his favorite coffee mug.
His mouth is pressed thin when he gets down from the steps of their neighbor’s house. Kris’ neighbor’s house. Kris hasn’t moved, still facing the intersection. Luhan walks right by him, and he doesn’t even need to turn to know Kris is gonna be smiling and he’s gonna be trying to hide it with the damn mug.
“Good morning, Mr. Wu,” he grumbles quietly. His hands flip through letters, eyes down. Kris is just two feet from him, all of a sudden looking towering. Luhan had never felt intimidated by his height before, and it’s a bitter reminder of how easily perspectives can change, how different everything feels now that it’s been three, four months since they’ve, well. Hell, this is the closest they’ve gotten to each other in a long time, just the two of them.
“Good morning, Luhan.”
Luhan’s whole body tingles. He suppresses a violent shiver at hearing his name called out in that quiet Sunday morning drawl, rolling out past a smile. Kris’ breath smells like the coffee in his hand, and the rest of him still smells of the same baby powder Luhan could almost taste on the root of his tongue every morning when he wakes. He even smells like sunbeams, the way cats smell under sunbeams, all nice and warm, standing here waiting for Luhan to make his round for God knows how long now, and he might be decked out in a sunny orange robe and fuzzy slippers but Luhan knows he’s a wolf in sheep clothing.
He shoves a bunch of adverts into the open box when he hears Kris say from above, “you’ve been stealing my letters, Mr. Mailman.”
Luhan scowls. “No I haven’t.”
“I know you have.”
There’s no more mail for Kris, just a bundle of newspaper, so Luhan slams the lid shut, yanking the little flag upright. One part of him wants to get the hell out of there. Another wishes they could have this conversation so he can take the chance and shove at Kris a little bit.
He clutches the paper tight into a roll, keeping his hands busy so he’s not so nervous. In a fit of bravado, Luhan straightens up and leans an elbow on the other end of the mailbox, mirrored image of Kris, forcing himself to smile when he meets his eyes. “You have no proof.”
Kris isn’t intimidated the least. In fact, he looks amused, and Luhan feels himself getting irate, like Kris thinks Luhan’s a funny show or something. He brings his face closer, and Luhan’s clenching his fist to not back away.
“Do Kyungsoo has been sending me letters every week, and I haven’t received any for a month now.”
“Well maybe he wrote the address wrong. Why is it the mailman’s problem by default, huh?”
He thinks he might have overstepped a little, some genuine anger slipping out into his tone, and he quickly collects himself. He takes a deep breath through his nose and swallows, staring back into Kris’ placid eyes. He saw this coming, he did. This whole plan was beyond him. Luhan knew he was gonna end up making a caricature out of himself, but Kris is looking at him though, and his smirk has visibly softened, almost like he understands what Luhan’s doing, and that’s the most annoying thing.
The air between them is so thick the smell of coffee doesn’t waft away. There’s no wind around, no sound save for a fountain somewhere back and the distant chirping of the early birds. Luhan stands there, looking at Kris, right at him, and Kris just watches him. There’s a moment of weakness, when he thinks that if he closed his eyes slowly and tilted his head just that little bit that Kris would reach up and touch his face again, pull him back in, but the feeling’s gone as soon as it comes. Luhan pulls away, slipping easily back into the childish act he held on before, scowl back in place. Seeing him, Kris does the same, drawing his mouth into that smirk again.
“Hey...are you bitter?” He asks, head tilted.
How is that even a question. Luhan wants to maybe like, whine, or literally slap Kris around for a while, or sit down right there on the sidewalk and throw a kiddie tantrum. Instead, he slaps the roll of newsprint into Kris’ chest. “No.” Kris doesn’t catch it, and the paper falls apart at his feet. Luhan’d wanted to hurt him a little, but it came out so weak, so drained of energy, and he’s suddenly too tired to want to do anything else about it, surrendering this time. Without another word, he starts walking away.
“I want my letters!” Kris calls out.
“Yeah, well, I want a lot of things, but we can’t always get what we want, can we,” he calls back as he rounds the corner.
If there’s one place around their little town where you can find Luhan on a weekday afternoon, it would be down by the seaside. When you get to the seaside, you would usually find him in one of two places: either out in the ocean being the surfer he is, or with his board stuck upright in the sand, sitting under the roof of Kim Jongdae’s little beach bar Hark! A Shark! entertaining old women. Today happens to be the second option.
Kris is halfway across the beach when the gang spots him weaving between the fake palm trees erected on those big stone pedestals. He hears his name being called and sees two of the three ladies waving and waves back. Luhan’s squeezed between them, sipping on a drink moodily, looking over at him with what can only be described as disinterest and then promptly turns away.
Kris walks by Luhan’s board, brushing it edge as he passes, and he sees Luhan jerk hard and pretend it didn’t happen. “How’ve you been, Mrs. Kim, Mrs. Byun, Mrs. Huang. Where’s my mother?”
“Milkstore run,” Baekhyun’s mother says, while Zitao’s mom beckons him over with a c’mere c’mere, tossing a flower garland around his neck. She chuckles at the sight, whatever that is, and Kris smiles at how happy they all seem.
“Again? I think she wants to adopt your son.”
“Well, next to our Luhan, he’s the second prettiest thing, don’t you think?” Mrs. Byun positively giggles, bringing the straw back into her mouth and glancing up at Kris mischievously.
Kris doesn’t know what he should be answering to, whether he thinks her son is pretty or whether he thinks Luhan’s the prettier than all, but he doesn’t get to, interrupted by a kick on his thigh. Luhan’s raised foot shoves at the solid muscle there, smearing sand all over the dark navy of his shorts.
“Give it up, ladies. He’s already tangled in some CEO’s son from some big bright metropolis.” Luhan says, sounding utterly snide.
The women gasp. Jongin’s mom almost drops her drink, actually swatting Kris pretty hard on the arm. “No way, you lucky bastard! Oops, I shouldn’t--”
“Everyone knows your mouth just flies--”
“All the kids these days catching the rich ones, that’s just not fair--”
“Well they’re all so pretty--”
The women get sidetracked among themselves, and Kris watches them yap, feeling warm in his belly from how jovial the town gets in the summer. He looks back to Luhan, who’s still leaning against the bar, elbows propped behind him on the counter, sitting like an emperor on his throne. He’s probably drunk, with how complacent he looks just from riling up a bunch of old housewives, and he smirks at Kris like he’s a peasant.
“What did you come here for?” He says quietly amidst the chatter, sipping from his flute, and Kris is almost expecting two servants to appear from behind and start fanning him.
“Let me steal you for a night,” he says, smiling softly. Almost instantly, Luhan’s smile drops.
“If you’re hoping for a second first date, I’m not saying yes this time.”
“C’mon,” Kris laughs softly. “I think we have some catching up to do.”
The thing about living in a small isolated town like this is that if you expect to cut clean with all your exes and never speak with them again, you’ll quickly run out of friends. Since everybody knows everybody, everybody’s invited to anything fun, and when you have three or four parties of a group trying to pretend each other don’t exist, it spoils it for everyone else. People here have learnt to deal with it over time. Calling a stalemate, no hard feelings, let’s just go back to being bros, whatever works. Kris the little fucker wants to drag Luhan along on his friendship recovery road and Luhan has no choice but to tag along in silence. Truth be told, it’s an addiction, being around him, as a friend or something else. It’s not so bad because Kris’ new whatever isn’t here, and Luhan can delude himself into thinking nothing’s really changed. He tries a lot to purge it all out and move on, he really does try, but Kris…
Kris pulls him away from the moms, to the other shack, added on to the joint just last fall when business got too good. This year Jongdae hired some college kids back for the summer and started flipping burgers. The smell permeates the entire hut, but Luhan’s already been filled full with the exotic juices or whatever kool aid mixes Minseok gave him earlier.
The sun’s starting to set, and Luhan sits with his back to it on the stool. Kris is still standing, eyeing the menu chalkboards. Luhan takes the time to examine the details of the place. This hut might be Jongdae’s newest but it’s obvious he likes it more than his father’s hand me down old one. All around the place, on the wooden pillars, he’s installed seashells of all colors as light covers, and on the ends of the roof he’s hung mobiles and windchimes he made from stringing a bunch of shells together. Along the beams are those little Christmas lights, lined everywhere. The fluorescent little capsules even drape over the edge of the counters, tickling Luhan’s thighs where he sits. At night, the place gets ridiculously bright. He’s got glow in the dark things and funky flashing decor he collects from his world tours, and an LED board displaying the pirates’ word of the day. Today’s word is BUCKO. Apparently it means friend.
Kris turns to Luhan, squinting his eyes and shielding them with a hand. “Want anything?” Luhan shakes his head. “Alright, I’m gonna grab dinner.”
Luhan watches Kris walk to line up, and as soon as he’s a safe distance away and distracted, Luhan throws his torso over the counter, having spotted his savior long ago. He whistles twice, eyes flitting between the line and the corner of the hut, where Minseok sits cross legged in a plastic pool chair reading a magazine. When he doesn’t respond, Luhan calls out in a loud whisper, “Minseok! Minseok!”
It catches Kris’ attention too, and as he waits for his burger, Kris watches Luhan wave the guy over frantically and whisper something in his ear, tugging on his sleeve the whole time. Then all of a sudden Jongdae calls his order number, and he snaps away from the scene, taking the tray from him. When he turns back, Minseok seems to be cleaning something from the countertop.
He takes the food back and sits down. It hasn’t even touched the table yet when Luhan’s already picking fries out of the box. Kris is so hungry that he doesn’t have time to care. He takes his burger from the crinkly wrapper and is about to take a huge bite when he meets eyes with Minseok, who’s still here for some reason, and freezes.
Kris watches Minseok’s big eyes narrow, and his throat goes instantly dry. He gives off more of a killer vibe than Zitao does, maybe because he exudes a very authoritarian aura despite being shorter than all of them. The way he stands is nothing but stern and Kris would laugh at how comical it is that he’s got a dishrag in one hand and visor on his head, but Minseok looks like he could whip him red with that rag if he wanted to. Slowly, he opens his bowed lips, and Kris visibly flinches like he expects him to yell at him for some crime he hasn’t committed.
“Luhan spilled his drink,” he says.
Then Kris takes his eyes off his burger, which by now is dripping grease into the tray, and he sees it, the wet puddle on the tabletop, what used to be the electric blue mystery beverage in the now empty glass Luhan’s holding. He looks up from Luhan’s hand to his face and notes that he looks extremely smug.
“Oops,” Luhan says, before hurriedly stuffing one of Kris’ fries into his mouth to avoid talking.
The whole setup reminds Kris a heck lot of that one scene in Ice Age where Sid pissed off Diego and ducked right behind Manny to hide. Putting it this way, Kris realizes Luhan probably just needs an excuse to have Minseok around as a buffer, in case the conversation gets too intense for him to take. At this realization, Kris immediately tries to soften his stiff pose, trying to make Luhan more comfortable with his body language. Intimidating is the last thing he wants to be right now, and he wants Luhan to get it that he will be very very careful treading these waters.
“Ah,” he says belatedly, sounding still a bit scared out of his wits, as a late response to Minseok, who’s wiping the spill really slowly.
“I’m here to clean up the mess,” and then Minseok actually smiles, and on any other day it would have looked really cute with his little bunny teeth, except he leans in next to Luhan on the other side of the counter and Luhan’s leaning in too holding the same expression and even though the sun’s right on their faces it’s the darkest thing Kris thinks he’s ever seen.
Kris eats his burger, watching Minseok dry the counter and conveniently find more things to do around their side of the shack. Briefly he wonders if Minseok’s here to clean up more than this mess, if he’s going to clean up their mess too, Kris and Luhan’s mess of a relationship. These days, he always sees the two of them together, not even just surfing but also walking around town doing anything imaginable. Kris wants to believe Luhan isn’t like him, who can’t keep a friend for shit since he keeps falling in love with every single one of them, but that thought leads to Yixing, and it still hurt a little bit, and it’s not something he wants to think about right now.
He looks over at Luhan, who’s just about to grab a fry again, and when he sees Kris he freezes. For a split second his hand twitches like it’s going to retract, but Kris blinks and then Luhan’s plucking it right out of the box boldly, gaze like he’s challenging Kris to do anything about it.
Kris watches the fries disappear. Half the box is gone already. When Luhan sees Kris just watching, not saying or doing anything, he moves on to grabbing his drink and sucking on the straw. Kris watches him with fascination, trying so hard not to break into a smile. Biting his lips together, he pushes the rest of his burger towards Luhan, who shoves the box right back.
“I’m not hungry.”
He actually does burst out into chuckles then, which ticks Luhan off enough to shove his shoulder. Kris goes back to eating, noting how Minseok watches their exchange off to the side.
“So, how’s life been for you?”
“Good.” Luhan says through the fries. He licks the salt off his fingers.
“How’s school going?”
Luhan eats another handful. “Good.”
“How’s auntie and uncle?”
“Tch!” Kris yanks the fry carton away from Luhan’s grabby hands, and puts it on his other side.
“Hey you! Answer my questions!”
“I’m answering! My life’s good, my school’s great, my parents are just excellent.”
“C’mon. How are you, really? How’s uncle’s diabetes?”
“Only thing you need to know about my parents is that they hate you.”
At this, Kris laughs. Luhan’s mom sometimes sends him holiday cards in the mail, he can bet Luhan doesn’t know this. “I can feel my heart cracking again.”
“Don’t joke about that, moron.”
Luhan’s visibly upset. He always was when Kris made light of his condition. Back then Kris used to tell him that the only way to mentally cope with chronic illnesses is by laughing about it, and Luhan would keep telling him it’s a serious matter like cancer is and it’s not chronic unless you decide to fuck yourself over again and completely break your heart in two.
“My doctor--” Kris sees Luhan’s head snap back to him, “--said it’s been healing. The med they put me on, they think it’s working.”
Beside him, Luhan nods, and turns back. Only a few seconds later does he exhale long and slow, and Kris sees Luhan’s shoulders relax in his peripheral vision. That’s a partial lie, but he couldn’t tell Luhan. The truth is that as compared to what Luhan was used to, Kris’ heart now hasn’t gotten any better. When Kris went to his regular MRI right after their breakup, the doctor had shown him the scan results and pointed to the tip of the crack. It runs right down the middle of the two symmetrical curves, and while Kris squinted at the black and white scan, his doctor told him that the crack deepened another three millimeters. “That’s only 6 and a half centimeters left to the bottom.” Numbers are too abstract, and Kris hadn’t really grasped what that meant, just that it was closer to the pointy end. “You’re too young to feel so much sadness,” his doctor had said, shaking his head regretfully, patting Kris’ arm. Sorry, Kris told him, smiling, doesn’t help that I’m a masochist. His doctor laughed at him, giving him a pat on the bum before seeing him out mumbling something about young people these days.
Soon after he started on the meds. So far, over the course of three to four months, the three extra millimeters have more or less been mended, and Kris has to admit he’s a little sad to see it go. It’s gone like it never happened, like Luhan never left a trace of himself on Kris. Kris didn’t see the point in getting rid of three little millimeters, since it doesn’t feel any different, nor did it make a difference. His heart’s still going to be frail, and he’ll still be weaker than before, he’ll still need to carry a spare cane to a lot of places. If an accident’s gonna happen, he’s still going to probably die, there’s no point healing unless it’s completely at once.
Luhan calls Minseok over and orders a drink, alcoholic this time. Kris takes the chance to grab himself a beer too.
“How about you? The family? The rabbits?”
Luhan runs a hand through his hair and sighs. “Dad’s doing better, generally. Mom’s trying to help him change his lifestyle and he’s starting to get used to it. I moved the rabbits upstairs ‘cause they were stinking up the floor.”
Kris laughs. “Well I did tell you before, as soon as the babies grow up--”
“Just shut up. Ugh, they’re so gross, why don’t you take them.”
“Nah, I’ll pass.”
Minseok comes back with the drinks, and grabs a stool for himself from under the counter. “Man U game is on, want me to switch the channel?”
Minseok disappears, and Luhan unceremoniously turns away from Kris, eyes glued to the little 20 inch TV on the shelf. Minseok comes back with a small remote and a beer for himself, sitting down. Resignedly, Kris turns to watch the game too.
He doesn’t really pay attention. Nothing very exciting happens, and nobody scores. Minseok and Luhan finished chatting excitedly ten minutes ago and since then it’s been silent between the three of them. There’s a nice indistinct underlayer of chatter around, and another background layer of music from the other hut, plus the quiet sounds of the TV on top of it all. Kris drinks from his bottle but doesn’t swallow, at least not at once, feeling the beer trickle down his throat as the minutes stretch on.
Thirty minutes in, he’s getting restless. Kris is looking down at his hands on the table when he finally sucks in a long breath and says, “Luhan, are you really still bitter--”
“Yes! Go, go, go! Go!” Luhan suddenly explodes, scaring Kris shitless his face completely drains of blood. Luhan’s jumping up out of his seat, clutching hard onto Minseok’s forearm as he shakes him. Kris can’t even remember his sentence as his head snaps up to the screen where suddenly all the colored figures are in motion. “Get it get it get it--Yes. YES. Aw, fuck yes. HA! BAOZI, LET’S DO THIS!”
Minseok is half standing too, hands already up high ready for Luhan’s high fives. The slap is crisp and loud, except Luhan doesn’t sit back down, choosing to throw his arms around Minseok’s neck, leaning over the counter, knee on the stool, hollering into the night about the goal. He thoroughly messes up Minseok’s hair and in the heat of things talks him into shots on the house. When the spirit finally dies down, Luhan drops back onto the stool, face flushed, letting out a long sigh of satisfaction. He turns to Kris then, first time since the game started, eyes crinkling and smile still wide, pats him good naturedly on the back, before going back to the game and the newly arrived liquor.
Kris’ severed question sits in the background of the excitement not answered, and nor does he ask it again.
“You don’t have to walk me all the way home, I’ll go from here.”
“Come on, we’re almost there.”
It’s almost 11 when they finally wrapped up, and Kris insisted that he doesn’t trust Luhan enough to let him get back by himself, though there’s literally nothing that could possibly be a threat in this utopic little town. Luhan couldn’t stop him, but he really doesn’t want Kris to follow him back. He’s had enough of talking with him tonight, and quite honestly he’s a little scared to be alone with him at this time of night, walking in the dead silence through the streets, walking under the willow trees and glaring lamps. He’s sweating in his palms, shoved into his pockets. Suddenly he wished he hadn’t left his board with Jongdae, because right now he’d like something to hold on to.
Kris follows close behind him, footfall soft, almost in sync with Luhan’s own. Luhan’s watching his own shadows stretch and shrink, lighten and darken as he walks from lamp to lamp. They don’t speak. Luhan counts his steps, counts the tiles, counts the lights, counts anything but the time, or Kris’ even breaths, hypnotic and rhythmic. The two of them turn a corner, and there it is, Luhan’s place, at the end of the street.
In front of Luhan’s door, they stop. When he turns around, Kris is smiling softly.
“I really do need my letters,” he says, tone gentle and sincere. “Maybe they have something important in them.”
Luhan watches him, not a word or a gesture or anything for a moment. He takes a step backwards, onto the raised platform of his porch. It makes him taller than Kris by a little bit. He takes a breath, and takes his hands out of his pockets.
“What counts as important to you nowadays, Kris? A bank statement? A check? Some pity-drenched platitudes?”
Kris doesn’t respond, and the statement just hangs there in the space between them, under the little overhang of Luhan’s house. The yellow porchlight floods over them from above. It’s getting cold.
“I guess you won’t be coming up this time, huh.”
Kris stays silent as Luhan unlocks his door. He watches him take off his shoes and stack them on the rack. When Luhan turns around in the threshold, Kris is still there, waiting.
“You can have your letters tomorrow.”
“Thank you, Luhan.”
“Don’t thank me,” he says with a hand on the door. “I’m not a baby, Kris. I know right from wrong.”
Kris nods. “Goodnight.”
Luhan closes the door.