fumerie (fumerie) wrote,
fumerie
fumerie

[exo] post blue.

you all knew this was coming ok. obviously set in the same verse with the QMiMin model!AU.

post blue.
exo // kai/sehun/lu han // nc-17 // 8600 words
[model!AU] in which Kai, Sehun, and Lu Han are models, and they fall in love somewhere between airport codes and runway backstage (or not).



post blue.



-


"transient pleasures, drastic measures."
- White Noise, Don DeLillo




ICN to NRT. Three fifty-five in the afternoon, the last Sunday of January.


The guy in front of them in the check-in queue was wearing one of those giant asshole aviator sunglasses, covering half of his face, but Sehun could recognise the dark skin and the curve of those full lips anywhere. He spent a few minutes debating the etiquette of random airport encounter in his head, eyes tracing the long lines of slender legs clad in tight dark jeans, but came to no definite conclusion. In the end, he gently tugged on Lu Han's sleeves, pulling him closer. His traveling companion stopped fidgeting with his backpack and turned to him, eyebrows raised in question.


"Isn't that Kai?" He whispered low in his throat, subtly nodding towards the person in front of them. Lu Han blinked, tilting his head as he studied the profile of the stranger, eyes tracing over the familiar curve of full lips. Before Sehun could think to ask what they should do, Lu Han was already taking a few steps forwards and patting the object of his scrutiny on the shoulders.


"Kai!" Lu Han had his thousand-megawatt smile on, eyes bright and genuine. The same kind of smile he had on when he approached a skittish animal. Kai jumped under his touch as he swiveled his head around to face them.


"Oh..." His mouth parted as he took in the sight of them. Sehun had a brief moment of doubt whether Kai actually remembered meeting them before. "Oh. Lu Han, right?" He quickly bowed in greeting, a smile slowly taking over. "Wow, I didn't expect to see you again so soon, what a coincidence."


Sehun could see Lu Han's posture relax at the young man's friendly smile. "Yeah, me neither. I'm glad you seem better!"


"Yeah... yeah." Kai laughed, running a hand through the dark locks of his hair. "Wow, last time was embarrassing. I don't think I ever said thank you, so thank you."


Lu Han was still smiling, but a slight frown was making its way through. "You're welcome, I was glad to help."


Kai did actually look better, too, the lines of his face less sharp and gaunt than the last time they'd met, further softened by the bright smile on his lips. Kai had a nice genuine smile, Sehun was surprised to realise. He didn't remember seeing the young man smile at all that last time.


"Where are you going?"


"Oh, Tokyo." Kai titled his head towards the announcement board.


"For a job?"


"Yeah."


Sehun could already guess where this was going. The small amused smile on Lu Han's lips said he was thinking the same.


"Let me guess, Vogue Hommes Japan?"


"Yeah," Kai nodded, "How did you-?"


"Well, us too." Lu Han nodded towards him, and Sehun, who had been awkwardly hovering in the back the whole time, took that as his cue to step forward. "Oh, this is Sehun. I don't know if you remember him from last time, but he was there, too."


"I remember." Kai nodded, turning his smile on him. "Thank you."


Sehun didn't remember doing anything worth a thank-you, but he allowed himself a soft smile in return. Kai nodded, tugging up his soft grey marl scarf to cover his lips. Incheon Aiport seemed like it belonged a different time zone. They had left Seoul behind, somewhere outside the glass and steel bubble.


"It isn't easy to fall asleep in airports," Kai told them this somewhere between the plastic-metal chairs of the waiting room and the boarding gate. They were making airport small talk, the kind of stilted conversation half-hearted held when you were waiting for your flight number to be called. An ear on your companion and another on the detached voices, repeating letters and numbers in Korean and English.


"The thing about airports is, you more than often travel alone, but there's something that links everyone together. A sense of not-belonging, everyone drifting in transition, being stuck in some kind of glass and steel limbo between one time zone and the next."


Kai still hadn't taken off his sunglasses. They played a small game of airport code memorisation to pass the time. Lu Han won easily.


"Everyone has that same kind of heavy weariness. Lost sleep, or restless waiting. Waiting is the worst."


-



"They just keep getting younger and younger," fingers tilted his chin up as soft fur brushed ash and gold over his eyelids. Their make-up director for the photoshoot was Korean, a man who took one look one look at them and sighed with an inexplicable wry smile on his lips.


Kai was already there in a soft cream cardigan and black jeans when Lu Han and he came in for the photosoot. He looked the same as yesterday, all smiles and laughter until it was time for the camera, and all the smiles switched off to make place for arrogant sensuality. Some people were born for the camera, Sehun thought as he glanced at Kai, his eyes smouldering dark and full lips parted in wordless invitation, tinted with a hint of scarlet rouge. He still wasn't quite sure what the theme of their shoot was, but the seemingly careless brush of vibrant red on Kai's lower lip, bleeding down to his skin, made him look both exotic and sinful. Kai's hair was artfully brushed down to cover his eyes, while both his and Lu Han's hair were swept back.


They had Kai in an open hoodie and low-slung jeans for half of the morning, and Sehun couldn't tear his eyes away from the broad expanse of dark bronze skin.


"You keep staring," the make-up director gave him an amused smile when he came close to check on Sehun's eyeliner. He had already wandered off before Sehun could think of a proper response.


For the second half of the morning, they had Kai stretched out on a soft cream rug in the middle of the room, half naked and with one side of his jeans tugged down to the middle of his thigh. Lu Han leaned over him, fully dressed in a sharp-tailored designer suit, his hand curled around the top of the younger boy's exposed thigh. Lu Han smiled down at him between takes, and Kai's lips twitched up in return, a brief flash of his normal self before he turned back to the camera, dark eyes hooded and shoulders arched.


They had Sehun hold him in front of a mirror next, Sehun still fully dressed in another hideously expensive designer suit, one hand pressing against Kai's bare stomach, and the other jerking his hair back, exposing his throat, Sehun's lips pressing against Kai's jawline. Kai leaned against him fully, his skin warm even through the layers of the suit. Sehun took in a sharp breath when Kai's muscles fluttered under his fingers. Their eyes met in the mirror.


They had Lu Han join the two of them later at his side, and they looked fucking gorgeous together, the perfect picture of classic decadence.


"You were explosive," The director told them later when the shoot wrapped up, looking pleased. "I can't wait till the editorial comes out."




"Smoke break," Kai announced during one of their small breaks inbetween shooting. Lu Han shrugged, and Sehun stood up, pulling on his jacket. Kai didn't wait for him to get out of the studio, but when he found his way out to the back parking lot, Kai was just standing there playing with his lighter and an unlit cigarette. Sehun pulled his jacket tighter around himself. Winter in Tokyo was harsh and bitter. There was smoke in the air, and that was just their breath.


Kai said nothing when he saw Sehun, just walking towards him, two fingers holding up his lighter. Sehun thought Kai was telling him not to bother with lighter, so he didn't. Except he didn't expect the way Kai was suddenly all up in his face, the other boy standing with his feet touching the front of his shoes, their bodies so close he could feel Kai's body heat. Sehun blinked as Kai looked at him, eyes dark and unwavering. He had the unlit cigarette on his lips, the white cancer stick pressing delicate against the plush lips. Up close like this, he could see the real dark shadows under the made-up bruise of kohl and ash around Kai's eyes. Sehun shifted closer, placing his own cigarette on his lower lip, lightly touching its end against Kai's. He could smell their make-up, hairspray, and a foreign scent of metal, or something burning.


It took Kai a few tries to light their cigarettes together, his fingers clumsy and numb in the cold wind, dark eyelids fluttering in mild annoyance. A spark of fire finally stuttered out, the heat warm against their cheeks. Kai kept the shared fire on just long enough, his movements speaking of a well-rehearsed ritual. They both took a long deep drag, and Sehun pulled away, tasting a different kind of smoke at the back of his throat. They stayed silent, Sehun staring at the way Kai tried to keep his shaking hands away from his line of sight.


"It's really cold here," he murmured under his breath.


"You two are fucking, aren't you?" Kai asked after a long drag, turning to look at him. It was a little unexpected, but Sehun couldn't even begin to pretend he didn't know what the other was talking about.


"Yeah." It wasn't like it was a secret at all, really. It shouldn't have surprised him that Kai had picked up on it. But the way the other's dark eyes fixed on him was unnerving.


"Oh. Is he your first boyfriend?"


That managed to startle him. "How did you know?"


"You two have that glow," Kai's full lips quirked up in a familiar smirk, not nearly the one he used for the camera, but not something genuine either. "Of first-time things. Like you want to hold hands behind people's back all the time. Or steal kisses. Or have really nice vanilla sex on a Sunday morning."


"Oh." Sehun's eyes flickered away. His fingers were freezing.


"It's sweet, really. Hey, are you doing anything this weekend after we get back? A friend of mine is holding a party thing at M6 in Hongdae this Saturday. You two should come. I should buy you guys a few rounds. Thanks for last time and all that."


When Sehun turned to look at Kai, the other was back to the easy smiles again, yet somehow Sehun still felt disconcerted. "Lu Han is flying to China this weekend for another photoshoot though."


"Yeah?" Suddenly Kai was closer again, the tilt of his lips in line with the slope of his shoulders.


"Yeah." His voice came out lower and hoarser than he'd expected.


-



Seoul in January was familiar in its glitter and biting cold.


When he finally found his way to the club, the party was in full swing, the bass thumping loud with the cheers of the raucous crowd, but it didn't take long for Kai to locate him. His dark hair was slicked back, eyes bright in the crazy lighting of the club. He was all loud laughter and easy smirks, pulling Sehun towards the bar with an arm around his shoulders, fingers curled around the nape of his neck. He bought them one round, then a second, then a third. After what couldn't be more than half an hour, Sehun was already buzzing with heat and something fluttering in the bottom of his stomach. Kai was plastered against his side, his hand warm on Sehun's back in the space between his jacket and his shirt. Every stroke of those fingers up and down his spine sent him into involuntary shivers, and Kai couldn't have missed it, because he kept doing it.


Kai pulled him to the dancefloor eventually. The music was too loud for talking, so their words just melted into the loud thumping of bass. Kai moved like a natural-born dancer, movements graceful and fluid to the beat of the music, his hands firm on the sides of Sehun's hips, pushing and pulling him against his body. Sehun let himself follow Kai's lead, and his eyes flickered down every time Kai's jacket slipped a little off his shoulders, baring smooth dark skin. He wanted to lean down and taste it, so he did, hot tongue licking a straight line down the strip of bare skin, tasting salt and something else oddly sweet.


Kai's fingers pulled tight against his shirt, his hips hitching up and his head dropping back, so Sehun leaned up and mouthed against the exposed throat, feeling Kai's fluttering pulse under his lips. Their thighs were pressed tight against each other now, hips moving in the same beat, rough denim hot between all the friction. Kai's hands found their way under his shirt, nimble fingers stroking the heated skin of his back.


"Let's get out of here," Kai leaned in to nibble on his earlobe, sending a shudder through him, so they did.


"I'm drunk," Sehun said out loud while they were waiting for the taxi outside the club, as if it was an excuse for every decision ever made.


"Me too," Kai laughed, falling against the side of his body. His pupils looked blown wide open out here in the streetlight.


They didn't make it to the bedroom back at Sehun's place, Kai just pushing him down on to the couch in the living room and yanking his jeans down his hips. Sehun didn't remember ever having sex this frantic and desperate, Kai fucking himself on his cock, hot thighs squeezing and trembling around his hips every time Sehun thrust upwards, choked moans falling from his lips. Kai came in spurts on his stomach, and the stuttering pace of his hips made Sehun's eyes flutter closed in pleasure. He flipped them around until he had Kai pressed against the couch, pliant limbs splayed open, and fucked him into his orgasm, biting down on the slope of Kai's shoulders when he came.


Kai lied still under him for probably five seconds before he pushed Sehun off him, getting off the couch. When Sehun finally regained his coherency and Kai still hadn't come back, he trekked his way down the short hallway to find Kai standing in the kitchen, staring intently at his cupboard.


"What are you looking for?" Sehun leaned against the doorway, eyes tracing the line of Kai's bare stomach. He was only in his jeans, waistband hanging low on his hips, buttons still haphazardly open.


"Coffee. Do you have any?"


Sehun walked over and pulled a large tin down. "Lucky for you Lu Han is addicted to this stuff. I don't drink coffee."




"Did you fuck him?" Lu Han asked him this somewhere between the living room and their bedroom when they were tearing clothes off each other the night Lu Han came back from China.


"Yeah. Yeah, I did." Sehun nibbled on Lu Han's lips, the taste sweet and familiar.


"So how was it?"


"Maybe you should try it for yourself."


"Maybe I should."


They didn't see Kai again until Beijing in the last days of March, but the editorial with their photoshoot came out in February. They did look fucking gorgeous together, right there on the glossy pages of the magazine, Lu Han wanted to cut it out and frame it on the wall of their bedroom.


-



Jehee Sheen, Spring Summer 2012. Seoul, South Korea.


That first time they met, that one dreary week in October. He remembered, because it was ironic how they called it Spring/Summer week and they had to dress up in bright neons and soft pastels, but the world was sliding straight into the familiar bleak grey of late autumn, right around when all the trees were burning out their colours. It took him a while to remember where they were, but Seoul sounded like the best bet because he still remembered the way the boy uttered '괜찮아요' (i'm fine) with his eyes closed in the frenzied backstage of yet another show. He was just hovering in the background, really, when Lu Han cupped the boy's face in his hands and whispered 'you're going to be just fine' against his cheeks.


The boy's skin was a dark contrast against the soft cream of his outfit, the fabric of his linen trousers clinging to the curve of his calves. His bare feet curled against the cold floor, because it was Spring Summer and they were going to walk down a runway of white pebbles, the little stones grinding underneath the arch of their feet. It was supposed to be all about holy detachment and the serenity of a human's soul at Jehee Sheen, but the frenzy around the boy spoke of anything but. Sehun had gone away for a glass of water, only to come back to a small crowd panicking over a fallen body on the ground.


"I don't know, we were just talking, he was fine, then he said he needed to sit down, and then he just collapsed." One of the dresser girls was wringing her hands, others fluttering around carrying water bottles and warm towels. Jehee Sheen himself was standing to the side, looking troubled and worried.


"He's the one opening the show, what should we do for plan B?" The woman in charge of coordinating the runway drummed her pen against the clipboard in her hands.


The boy was sitting up now, his hand pressing against his temple, eyes half closed, his shoulders heaving with every ragged breath. It was too hot and too crowded in the small backstage hall, but Sehun could see the way he couldn't stop shivering.


"I'm fine, I'm fine," he rasped out, fingers clutching at the towel someone had just handed him. "It's okay, just give me a minute, I'm fine. I can do it."


He wasn't quite sure whom the boy was trying to convince. Still, he would have just chalked it up to yet another trainwrecky backstage show, if he hadn't caught sight of Lu Han kneeling next to the boy, gently brushing back the hair on his forehead. He hesitated for a few seconds, then walked towards them, helping Lu Han get the boy to a chair. Kai, he remembered his name was. They had only ever seen each other over the top of the clothing racks in the backstage of shows, but Sehun had heard the backroom gossips. A favoured rising new star, having opened several shows this season, all hooded eyes and alluring smirks. He was sensual in a way their types rarely were, but right then the way he clutched at Sehun's hand, fingernails digging deep into the skin of his palm, just made him look a little too young.


The show had to go on, and Lu Han helped him to the front of the line-up, flanked on the other side by a stylist trying to fix the perfect shiny locks of his hair. Lu Han couldn't stay, because he had to get back to his position in the line. Sehun frowned in sympathy at the way Kai slumped over on his feet, his eyes glazed and eyelids fluttering. It looked like it would be a miracle if he didn't collapse halfway down the runway. The coordinator seemed to share this opinion, because she was frowning at him.


"Are you sure you could walk?"


"It's fine." The boy nodded. Then the hum of the music started, the lights went out, and the show was on. In that last moment, Sehun saw the boy's back straighten, his posture shifting into one of aloof confidence, and then Kai stepped out onto the stage.


They were slowly out one by one in the loud hum of foreign chanting, dark shadows casting across sharp cheekbones and the flowing fabric. This was the portrayal of holy renunciation in some faraway temple, an army of beautiful young things with stark eyelines and sinful curve of full lips. Kai's gaze was dark and sensuous when he passed him in their final walk, the tilt of his head held high as if the whole world was underneath his feet, and Sehun thought Kai was the furthest thing away from holy serenity and liberation.


The last Sehun saw of him that night was Kai bowing repeatedly in apology to the show's designer, the lines of his shoulders once again slumped in exhaustion. He disappeared in the frenzy of backstage post-show celebration before Sehun could think to look again.



Kai always winced with a wry smile twisting his lips whenever they mentioned that first time. "So embarrassing," he would say, but he never said anything else about what had happened.


Lu Han didn't believe omissions were accidents, he once told him this. There was an art to carefully planning your whole life around the things you were not saying. Lu Han used to excel at this, so Sehun knew the language.


-



Red Dragonfly, Fall Winter 2012. Beijing, China.


It was the end of March, and the sunshine was cold on their shoulders, even through layers of cotton and cashmere. Beijing Fall/Winter Week was familiar in the rush of lush fabric and showy bright lights, and Sehun held on to Lu Han's wrist as he happily chattered away in rapid Mandarin with the other pretty Beijing boys. The familiar sight of Kai's dark eyes amidst the foreign bustling crowd came as more of a comfort than he'd thought.


Their theme for the night was probably ice-cold metropolitan gentlemen of the twenty-first century, and Kai laughed as he pulled the dark suit jacket around him, looking every bit the million-dollar heir of an Asian business empire, careless and cruel.


"Have you noticed how the Beijing shows are all about glamour and bright lights big cities? I love that. I’d trade anything for PEK ICN NYC HKG over soothing shores and fresh mountain air. All dirt and grime and people pushing and running trains and the constant smell of vodka vomit. Sometimes you just want the loud obnoxious pushing crowd to surround you, compressing the loneliness into neat paper boxes of new shoes and take-away dinner. I don’t want nice, I want ice-cold office workers with flawless silk scarves and scuffed leather handbags, four-inch heels in their hands and ratty flats on their feet on the train back home. I want shiny and vapid and frivolous. Champagne in high glasses and knife sets in stainless steel. I want carbon dioxide and nicotine and floral-fruity to slap me in the face."


Beijing shows were the best, because they were shamelessly extravagant and imitative of city glamour. Lu Han was a Beijing child, and his eyes were bright in the lights of the runway, strolling down the stage with the quiet confidence of someone who knew he had the whole world looking at him in envy and worship. Sometimes Sehun wondered if Kai knew how difficult it was to fall in love with someone beautiful, looking past the pretty face.



They hung out together, two Koreans stumbling down the streets of Beijing, because Lu Han had to meet up with his friends and family and all the people he had left behind for another city. Kai drank more coffee in one day than Lu Han ever did in an entire week, yet he still fell asleep against Sehun's shoulders on their little metro rides, eyes blinking awake every ten minutes and then drifting off again. After a while, Sehun realized Kai lived on these short naps during the day.


"I'm probably insomniac at night, I don't know." Kai laughed and got scolded by his make-up girl who was lining charcoal to his lash line. It was okay, because he couldn't understand Mandarin anyway.


"When people say they're insomniac, most of the time they just mean they choose not to sleep at night. That isn't insomnia, that's chronic sleep deprivation."


"Well, I suppose that's true." Kai was smiling, and the dark bruise under his eyes was stark against the bright light of the backstage make-up booth. It didn't matter, because they were playing seventeenth century romanticist boys in the back alleys with a touch of self-destruction that day.




It was easy to fall back into fucking Kai in the hours of him missing Lu Han.


"I can taste him in your mouth. Who tastes better, me or him?" Kai whispered against his lips, tongue flicking against his own, hot and teasing. He couldn't stop nibbling on the curve of Kai's full lips, biting down and scratching with his teeth until they were swollen and bright red. Kai breathed out a shivery noise of pain every time he sunk his teeth down, and it was addictive. "I can taste smoke on your lips... and Lu Han. I can taste him on you." Kai's tongue curled around his own, and Sehun felt heat flare up in the bottom of his stomach. Kai rolled his body against him in wanton abandon, his thigh nudging in between Sehun's.


Kai just tasted like everything Lu Han wasn't. Always trading one addiction for the next, wasn't it? He wasn't sure he could pull away even if he wanted to.


Kai sucked him off on his knees, red swollen lips wrapped around his cock, leisurely teasing him with little flicks of hot tongue.




Sehun wondered if Kai realized his gaze traced after Lu Han in the backstage of their shared shows just as much as Sehun did, their eyes following the deceptively delicate body wrapped in swaths of luxurious doupion silk and Egyptian cotton.


"You really like Lu Han, don't you?" He smiled at the startled look on Kai's face as he whirled back to stare at him. It was almost cute to see Kai frowning to hide his being flustered.


"What? Of course I do. He's nice."


Sehun wondered whom Kai thought he was kidding. "You keep looking at him like you want to get him into bed." He didn't want to add that Kai only looked that way when he thought Lu Han wasn't looking.


Kai stilled for a moment, then a slow smirk grew. "Maybe I do."


"Well then, maybe you should."


The smirk disappeared as Kai blatantly stared at him in stunned silence. It took him a few seconds to find his voice back. "Yeah?"


"Yeah."


Kai tilted his head, a wry smile twisting his lips. "So he wants me in his bed as well, is that it?"


His own heart was pounding loud in his chest. "You should drop by tonight." He gave Kai the address of Lu Han's apartment, neat little characters on the phone screen even he couldn't read.


-



Kai dropped by their place sometime past eleven in the evening, his breath smelling of smoke and too much alcohol, obviously back from one in a million of those after-parties. He looked wary and stilted on unsteady feet, smile a little too wide and eyes a little too bright until Lu Han pulled him close for a kiss, lips brushing against lips. Lu Han kissed him slow and sweet, tongue flicking and stroking in and out, drinking in the taste of the other. Kai's hands slowly moved from Lu Han's hips to bury into his hair, fingers gripping tight as he returned Lu Han's kisses with fervour, surging up to capture his lips again every time they had to break apart for breathing.


Their bodies swayed with the rhythm of their kissing, thighs against thighs, chest against chest. It was impossible for Sehun not to be turned on by the soft wet sounds, or the breathy moans Lu Han was unconsciously making, or the way Kai looked like he could never get enough, intoxicated and hopelessly hooked on the taste of Lu Han's mouth.


They could barely break apart while shedding off their clothes, movements slow and heated, much unlike that last time he had fucked Kai in their living room in Seoul. The two of them fit together perfectly, Kai's dark skin a smooth contrast against Lu Han's pale thighs. They laid pressing close against each other, Kai's legs hooking over Lu Han's as their cocks rubbed together, trapped between the hot skin of their stomachs. Sehun slid his cock into Kai just like that, fucking him into Lu Han, the rhythm of their bodies languid and sensual.


Kai came with a choked gasp when Sehun leaned over to kiss Lu Han, his body quaking between their arms. He sucked Lu Han off later, sprawled out languidly on the bed, tongue licking small teasing strips all over his cock, then sucking on the head with thick kiss-swollen lips. Lu Han pulled him up to lick the come off his lips later.


Kai lied there between Lu Han and him for a few beats before he groggily pulled himself up and out of bed.


"I'll get some coffee. Anyone want some?"


Lu Han looked momentarily confused, his brain probably still not recovered from the orgasm just a few minutes prior. "Uh. Okay. Yeah, I guess."


Kai stumbled out of the door still completely naked, his steps unsteady, the sway of his body reminded Sehun of how he had come in that evening. Lu Han leaned over to kiss him on the lips, and Sehun sighed, nodding. "Yeah, he did that last time, too. I guess some people do post-coitus smoking, he just has coffee." They laid there wrapped in each other's arms, nearly falling asleep in the hazy warmth before they realized Kai wasn't coming back to bed. Sehun really was too lazy to get up, but Lu Han broke away and climbed out.


"I'll go check on him."


He found them in the kitchen later, steaming mugs of coffee in their hands at one in the morning, Kai's eyes dry and bloodshot. The lines and angles of his face had sharpened again since Seoul, skin pulling tight over cheekbones when he smiled.


"I'm an entertainer, that's what I do. People want exciting stories of trainwrecks and bad fortune, whether it's backstage gossips or the headline news. The trick to being not-boring is to learn how to entertain the masses. Be funny, be beautiful, be tragic."


"Sounds like you're in the wrong industry. Maybe you should be in showbiz instead. Supersize that shit on the LCD screen in the middle of Myeongdong, have the whole nation scrutinise your every move."


"Maybe I should." Kai shrugged. "Maybe in another life."


Lu Han hummed around the rim of his coffee mug, legs stretching out, his bare toes touching Kai's feet under the table.


"I have to go. Early morning tomorrow. Today." Kai said this somewhere around three o'clock after his second mug.




He caught a glimpse of Kai between Cabbeen and Septwolves sometime the next day. Now that he knew what he was looking at, it was impossible not to read the tired line of Kai's shoulders when he leaned against a wall, or the glazed look in his eyes, or the minute shaking of his fingers whenever he had to lift himself out of a seat. All of this, of course, were coated over by Parisian chic and old-town luxury, the perfect picture of the nouveau riche heir against an extravagant backdrop of shimmering ice towers. It was the most spectacular runway at Beijing Fashion Week that year, celebrity-studded with Chinese actors and the fashionable socialites on the front seats, and they all put on their best show.


-



Kai came back to their place that night, and the night after that.


Lu Han traced characters down Kai's sweat-soaked back, as if sex made up the stories, letters and words written into their skin. His lips mouthed words against hipbones as Sehun fucked into him, wrenching orgasms out of their flesh.


"Hey, what's your name?" Lu Han sounded breathless in the few seconds after he'd come against the soft skin of Kai's thigh. The other boy was quiet for moment, eyebrows furrowed as if he couldn't decide whether Lu Han was really talking to him.


"...Are you serious. What have you been calling me."


"No, like, your real name. Kai can't be your real name, right?" Sehun smiled, pressing a kiss against his jawline.


"Why not? Why does it matter?" Kai rolled over, looking at the two of them as though they had lost their mind. "What difference does it make if I tell you my name is Seunghyun, Woohyuk, or Michael? You all seem to think like there's actual power in a name or something. Are you gonna voodoo me?"


"So what is your name?" A smile twitched at the corner of Lu Han's lips. Kai snorted, stumbling his way out of their bed. "Where are you going? Don't we have the same flight tomorrow back to Seoul? Let's go together."


"How do you call a taxi from here?" Kai was already pulling on his jeans. "I need to go back and pack."


He said it as if they weren't all always on the run between one city and the next, living their life out of little suitcases. There was an art to packing your whole life into a suitcase and dragging it around airports and hotels, and it was amazing how light the baggage could be. Kai didn't look like the kind of person who would need more than ten minutes to shove everything into a single bag.


Lu Han pulled him into a kiss on his way out, whispering "goodbye, Jongin" against his lips before closing the door. The startled wide-eyed look on Kai's face just before the door closed was totally worth it.


-



PEK to ICN. Six thirty-five in the evening, the last Wednesday of March.


They were making airport small talk. They were in this bubble together until a faceless voice called them to the little gate.


"I'll trade anything for the city codes. We all begin and end in 3-letter points. From ICN to PEK to NRT and back again. How many codes do you have memorised?"


"If you wake up at the different time in a different place, can you wake up as a different person?" He mouthed the quote, a quirk of a smile on his lips.


Kai fell asleep against Lu Han's shoulders somewhere between the metal-plastic chairs and the boarding gate. He woke up just in time to elbow both of them out of the way and climb into the window seat. Sehun flopped down to the aisle seat before Lu Han could open his mouth to protest. Lu Han kicked Sehun in the shin while climbing all over him to get to his middle seat.


Sehun remembered the press of Kai's eyelids against the airplane window. It was raining at eight thousand feet above the ground, and he could see the way Lu Han's fingers wrapped around Kai's hand under the arm of their seats as Lu Han leaned over to see the glittering city lights of Seoul out of the window. This high above, they could only see the lights and not the concrete of skyscrapers and building blocks, but he knew sometimes Lu Han was nostalgic for the concrete, too.


Somewhere along the line, Lu Han had fallen in love with Seoul, long before they'd even met. Sometimes he thought Lu Han would miss the lights of the city more than he would ever miss the warmth of his hands, but it was okay. They both fell in love with the same skyline, and sometimes Sehun thought he might love it even more than he could love anyone else. Seoul child through and through, he had grown up to call it home. Neon lights and rough concrete, street vendors and mirrored lobbies.


He wondered if Kai grew up feeling the same beat of the city thrumming under his fingertips. Everything felt a little out of sync. The seatbelt light flickered on, and Lu Han leaned back to squeeze his hand.


He remembered the pounding in his heart during a plane's take-off and landing. Every time, it was welcome home versus let's never turn back, as if he was always running towards or away from something. Old exit stairways, new mirrored hotel lobbies. He wondered where Lu Han called home.


-



Caruso, Fall Winter 2012. Seoul, South Korea.


Seoul Fall/Winter Week was familiar in its compressed frenzy and monochromatic runways. Apparently Kai knew everyone and their aunt, because he spent half his time backstage running around laughing and talking to people as if he was a hyperactive kid on too much coffee. He probably was. The crash was there, too, because the remaining half, he drifted around in the background, expressionless and snappish at everyone close to him, or just disappeared completely.


"I'm pretty sure half the time people just can't decide whether Kai is an ice-cold bitch or a hyperactive social butterfly." Lu Han looked on, tugging on his tweed jacket. They were playing the modern rendition of pretty rent boys against the backdrop of New York City in the 1920s today, all treachery and obnoxious decadence. The Great Gatsby of the twenty-first century.


"I'm pretty sure he can't decide himself either."


Sehun found Kai out the backdoor in the drizzling rain later, holding a coffee cup and chewing on an unlit cigarette. April wasn't quite winter anymore, but the dreary cold and the heavy coats they were wearing made it easy to pretend. Somehow he had learned to associate cold winter days with fumbling fingers and the harsh smell of cigarette smoke out the back door and exit stairways.


"You have that look of people who only smoke because they want something to occupy their hands and mouth." Sehun lit their cigarettes this time, the heat warm against their fingers.


"Oral fixation, that's true." Kai smirked, taking a short drag, "It's easier to hold conversation with people when you have something in your hands and mouth. It makes you look less bored out of your mind."


He couldn't tear his eyes away from the way Kai's hands kept shaking around his coffee cup.


"When you're on a diet of coffee and alcohol, coffee always throws the harder punch." Kai said this sometime around one dry rehearsal and the next.


This didn't come as a surprise. Sometimes he thought the jittery of Kai's fingers and the vibration in his frame looked like withdrawal, alcohol or coffee or something along those lines. What did it matter? They all had their poisons, trading one addiction for the next. Yet the way Kai looked like he was a machine moments from breaking and falling apart fascinated him. What would it take to break a person with such charisma and self-confidence? It was always hard to look away from a trainwreck waiting to happen.


-



Somewhere between SEIZE SEI and Plié, Sehun found Lu Han and Kai sitting curled up in a dark corner behind the hair station. Lu Han was reading a paperback, the book he had been carrying around during the fashion weeks. He had one for every season. Kai was leaning his head against the older man's shoulders, eyes fixed on the pages, but he didn't seem to be reading. His eyes looked glazed over under the dark bangs swept sideway, bruised with eyeshadow and bone-deep weariness, his cheekbones startlingly pale and sharp in the crappy lighting, highlighted by the sharp cut of his dark wool jacket. Italian romanticism at its best - the Florence kind, not the slick kind of Milan glamour.


Lu Han shifted to greet him when he caught sight of Sehun, but Kai reached out to tug at the older man's shirt, keeping him down. "Don't move. I'm going to throw up if you do."


He settled down next to the two of them, leaning in to peck Lu Han on the lips. Lu Han's lips twitched up in a smile against his own. Kai was sprawled all over Lu Han's right side, but on a closer look, he looked tense and rigid, his fingers twitching ever so slightly with every breath.


"Hey Sehun, sometimes it comes down to a choice between whether it is easier to clean vodka vomit out of a paperback or a pair of $800 designer shoes." Kai was grinning up at him. "It's all Haruki Murakami versus Yves Saint Laurent, really. Who would you pick?"


"Yves Saint Laurent. It's easier to clean vomit out of shoes. And I don't even like Murakami."


"Damn right." Kai chuckled, hitting Lu Han's shoulders playfully as if he had just won an argument. Lu Han just rolled his eyes and patted the younger man on the head, fingers brushing lightly over soft dark strands of hair.


-



Sonsungkeun, Fall Winter 2012. Seoul, South Korea.


"You should see yourself in the mirror. This is exceptional. You don't look like yourself at all." Sehun laughed when he dropped by to see Lu Han between the sporadic lunch hours, backstage of Sonsungkeun. A dark blush was spread out high on Lu Han's cheeks, highlighting the sharpness of his cheekbones. It looked almost painful.


"Well, we are not here to be ourselves, are we?" Lu Han snapped, rolling his eyes but his lips were twitching up in amusement. "We are here to be uniformed walking clothes hangers."


"What's that?" Kai flopped down at the make-up station next to them. Lu Han looked up from writing in his little notebook.


"Food journal," Sehun answered for him, because a make-up girl had just grabbed Lu Han's face to check the blush colour of his cheeks.


"Oh, one of those." Kai blinked, his eyes raking up Lu Han's slender form, clad in a dark blue button-down and pristine black jeans. "No one cares about the slope of your hips or the bones on your wrists as much as you do, seriously."


"That's not quite true in this career. We are in the business of selling bone structure." Lu Han stretched out his arms, the bones on his wrists sharp and strong. Kai stared at his cheekbones for a long time.


"Okay, I guess that's fair. Still not something I understand though."


"You've never done it, really?"


"Calorie counting is hard when you don't even remember what you put in your mouth." Kai shrugged. "I mean, sure, alcohol, but exactly how much? No one knows, really. Everything usually starts to blur together after the seventh shot, doesn't it?"


-



"Don't you find it curious? He never stays after." Lu Han asked him sometime during their midnight dinner, both of them hunching over a small table on the side of the street, picking at their red hot ddukbokki.


"Maybe he just isn't the cuddling type." Sehun shrugged. It wasn't difficult to guess who or what Lu Han was referring to.


"How would you know?"


"How would you?"


"I don't think he's slept for a long time."


That was something Sehun could agree with.


"He's never there sober either." Lu Han was frowning now. It was strange, because of course they'd always known these things, but putting them into words made it sound worse.


"Do you think we should even talk about this?" Sehun asked, and didn't look up until he realized Lu Han had gone quiet.


"Sometimes i think you think he's such a good fuck that you forget he has feelings, too." Lu Han was looking at him with clear disapproval, and for a few seconds Sehun couldn't pinpoint exactly why.


"He has feelings-" He might have sound incredulous, but that was to be expected.


"Yes. Feelings." Lu Han rolled his eyes. This was not a lecture he had ever expected. Were they actually having a discussion about Kai's feelings? Still, Lu Han was looking at him like he was the worst kind of idiot in the world, so he had to relent. "The thing about Kai is everything about him is so sexual, sometimes we can't look at him any other way."


"Do you think he cares?"


-



Resurrection, Fall Winter 2012. Seoul, South Korea.


It was their final show at Seoul Fashion Week, and the raining days in the beginning of dreary April just reminded him of that one week last October. It had been raining for a long time, he'd forgotten when it'd started between running from one show to the next. It was their last show, and also the biggest. Backstage was a bustling crowd of people and camera flashes. Buyers, editors, reporters, celebrities. It was obnoxiously loud and crowded in a corner, and Kai rolled his eyes when he asked.


"Some idol is walking, too. From some new K-pop boyband, I don't know. EXO, or something?"


"Is that the band with a zillion members and half of them are Chinese?"


"Nine, and his name is Chanyeol." Lu Han helpfully supplied as he looked at the commotion with an amused smile. "And in case you haven't noticed, the runway music is their hit track this spring. It's either ironic or a ploy to appeal to the young metropolitan crowd, I can't decide."


"It is definitely ironic." Kai tugged at the collar of his wool trenchcoat. "I got a headache after the second run-through." His hands were shaking again. "Gotta go to the bathroom for a bit, see you."


He found Kai in the bathroom later, dry-heaving and slumped over a basin, his shoulders shaking violently with every ragged breath. This looked familiar, and it wasn't just déjà vu.


"Why do you keep doing this?"


Sehun didn't think Kai would answer him as the silence dragged out, but he did.


"Only during runway season, because I need concentration. I get too easily distracted, this narrows down my focus to just one thing. I've been told trainwrecky glam is a good look on the stage."


"What, like in the Jehee Sheen show that first time we met?"


"Okay, the backstage part was embarrassing. But I put on a good show out there, didn't I?"


Sehun grabbed his arm, and Kai jerked away, almost backhanding him in the face.


"People assume there must be something deep and tortured about all this bullshit," his fingers trailed from the top of his eyelids to his hips in one quick movement, "but the truth is maybe I'm just bored, you know? I'm just bored. The truth is I am shallow and frivolous as fuck, what are you gonna do about it?" Kai laughed, harsh and loud, and Sehun didn't think it was quite right. "The things we do to cure our boredom are sometimes pretty damn staggering. All the build-up - days, weeks, months, years.


"Sometimes it just needs to happen, self-constructed misery. Because otherwise life would be too boring." Kai leaned close to him, smiling at Sehun with a vicious glint. "Don't lie, you enjoy watching me for the same reason. I'm entertaining you, giving you stories to tell at dinner parties. 'There's this guy I know, fucked him once or twice...'"


"That isn't-" He couldn't even finish his defensive sentence. Kai seemed to know, because he chuckled, his hand reaching out to stroke the side of Sehun's face.


"It's okay, I'm probably not even the best show around here - I mean, have you ever seen the way some people stumble in backstage trashed out of their mind? All those girls with clavicles and protruding hipbones that could probably cut glass. I can't even come close to competing, really, but I could play it to your wish." This was probably meant to be comforting, judging from the way Kai's fingers pressed against his jaw, warm and familiar.


"You're a pretentious little shit, aren't you."


"Well, what did you expect?"


Kai brushed past him without another word on his way out.




They marched down the runway in a storm of military trenchcoats and dark leather boots, a powerful and majestic army of pretty young things to the pounding beat of the music. National pop idol Park Chanyeol led the runway, and Kai closed it to the roaring applause of the crowd and blinding flashes of the cameras, the harsh light casting stark shadows across bones and eyelashes.


-



It was their last show at Seoul Fall/Winter Week, and the after-party was just as extravagant and obnoxious as the show. Kai was already on his fourth drink before Lu Han and he could think to grab him back, and he quickly disappeared into the writhing crowd of pretty young things losing themselves to the loud bass of the club.


They found him in the dark hallway outside the bathroom of the club, pressed against the wall by some guy with his hand down his pants. Sehun was already grabbing the guy's neck and throwing him backwards before he could think about what he was doing. The guy hit the opposite wall with a loud grunt.


"What the hell is wrong with you-"


"Fuck off." Lu Han said, voice calm and cold, at the same time he fisted his hand in Kai's collar and slammed him against the wall. They barely noticed the guy scampering off. "What do you think you're doing?" Lu Han leaned closer to the younger boy, his eyes blazing.


"Me?" Kai's eyes were wide, him looking more stunned than angry. "Me? What do you think you are doing, you fucking assholes!" He batted Lu Han's hand off, stumbling away from the wall. "What gives you the fucking rights-" He broke off as his body doubled over, dry-heaving and coughing into his arms. Sehun pulled him up, ignoring the the murmured curses, wrapping his arms around Kai's shoulders.


"Fuck you, you're just in love with a fucking idea. I'm the novelty fuck you've always wanted to use to spice up your love story, or whatever. I don't mind, but you need to stop acting like I'm part of your fucking relationship."


"I like you as a person." Sehun had half a mind to realize this wasn't exactly the best location for this conversation.


"Well, sure. I am entertaining enough without the sex, I'd like to think." Kai's voice was hoarse, but he had stopped shaking.


"Lu Han really likes you, too."


"Lu Han suffers from decent human being syndrome." Kai rolled his eyes. "He likes everyone."


Sehun sighed in frustration. Lu Han slapped him over the head and pulled them out. Kai's fingers curled around both of their wrists on the taxi back to Sehun's place. He was quiet for the rest of the ride, looking out of the car window, staring at the endless flashing bright lights of the city, that one rainy night in early April.


-



"I should go."


"Maybe you shouldn't. Just stay the night, what are you on fire for? We're catching the same flight tomorrow."


"Nothing, I just-"


Lu Han reached out to pull him down back to the bed, pressing himself against Kai's back, legs wrapping around the other's. Sehun settled his hand on the dip of his hips. The lines of Kai's body were rigid and vibrating with tension, until Lu Han pressed a soft kiss under his ear, and Kai's body shuddered, sliding deliciously against Sehun's touch.


Tomorrow, ICN to PVG, three thirty-five in the afternoon. From Tokyo to Beijing to Seoul to Shanghai and back again, maybe falling in love with just one city was never going to be enough.


They all fell asleep sometime past five in the early hours, limbs splayed on top of each other, warm and heavy.


-





Tags: fandom: exo, ot3: sekaihan
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