Jongin finds Sehun drunk on the night of Lu Han’s wedding, tie askew and his hair a mess, fingers fumbling with the car keys.
“Shit, Sehun, what are you doing,” Jongin says, aghast as he snags the keys out of Sehun’s shaking hands. “You’re drunk as hell,
“Aha, no kidding, dumbass,” Sehun laughs. He’s still trying to pull the door open. “Give me my keys.”
“Uh, no, no way in hell you’re driving like this,” Jongin retorts. He swings Sehun’s arm over his shoulder and walks them slowly across the parking lot.
“Sehun!” Lu Han’s jogging up to them, breathing heavily as he pulls on Sehun’s shoulder to turn him around. “Sehun, where were you, come back inside –”
“Get off,” Sehun mutters, sluggishly pushing Lu Han’s hand away. Lu Han pulls back, his expression confused. “I don’t, I don’t need you.”
“Sehun, what are you –”
“No, Lu Han, he’s drunk –” Jongin says before Sehun suddenly violently shoves him away.
“I hope she’s nothing like me,” he says. “You better hope she’s nothing like me, hyung.”
Jongin grabs his arm and hurriedly drags him away, giving Lu Han an apologetic look before rushing to his car. Sehun shouts, “Have a good fucking life,” over his shoulder, cackling wildly.
“Why are you so much trouble?” Jongin sighs when he has Sehun buckled into the passenger seat. “You don’t even drink, how are you this fucking drunk?”
“Why wouldn’t I be drinking?” Sehun hiccups, head leaning against the window. The cool surface feels good against his burning cheeks, and everything is starting to blur a little. “It’s Lu Han’s wedding. Isn’t that fucking great?”
“You know, he never even told me he had a girlfriend. Or a boyfriend, who knows if he had a boyfriend? I don’t. He never told me. He doesn’t talk to me. Does he talk to you?” Sehun rambles, his lips feeling numb from the alcohol. “Even Yixing fucking knew and Yixing’s oblivious to everything.”
“It’s been ten years, Sehun, you need to let it go.”
“I’m letting it go,” Sehun huffs. He looks to the side and see three Jongins next to him. He blinks. “Yeah, you know, those ten years ago? When he had me shoved against the wall and then left me there? That was pretty fucking great too. Left and wouldn’t let me explain.”
Jongin takes a smooth left, glancing over worriedly at Sehun’s inebriated state. “You didn’t follow him? Didn’t run after him and explain?”
Sehun sinks a little in his seat. “I could’ve but I didn’t. I didn’t because I’m an idiot.”
Jongin stops at a red light. “Do you regret it?”
“I do,” Sehun says with a certainty he can only obtain while drunk. “I really do.”
Somewhere, far away, a butterfly flutters its wings.
Sehun sees the bright lights, hears Jongin yelling next to him, but he doesn’t feel the impact until he finds himself lying on the asphalt, tasting burnt rubber and blood in his mouth. There’s a ringing in his ears and everything else around him is muted. He sees Jongin above him, mouth screaming something but all Sehun can see is the red running down Jongin’s cheeks. He looks alright, though, oh please let him be alright, Sehun thinks.
He feels numb, and it’s almost comfortable if it weren’t for the shards of glass cutting into his shoulder and the back of his neck. It feels nice though; he hasn’t felt this nice in a while.
He hears something like Sehun, hang on, just as the pain starts to register. It races up his spine and spreads over his body like boiling water; he feels like every single bone in his body is broken. He wouldn’t be surprised if they are. He turns his head slowly and sees the crushed grill of the truck that ran into them. There’s an imprint of a deer on the hood; Sehun wants to laugh at the irony.
He thinks of Lu Han and EXO’s Lu Han pops into his head, tousled hair dry from the brown dye and eyes bright with curiosity and anticipation. Sehun goes through a series of flashbacks – Lu Han smearing whip cream across his cheeks, Lu Han reaching out blindly for his hands while they crossed the streets at midnight, Lu Han standing on tiptoes to kiss him, Lu Han –
Sehun wonders if this is what people call the moment when your life flashes before your eyes. But instead of his life, Sehun sees a lifetime of Lu Han flashing by, and right before everything sinks into merciful darkness, he sees Lu Han the way he saw him when Sehun was pressed against the wall, fingers digging into his shoulder, Lu Han’s eyes cold and empty.
This must be the afterlife, Sehun thinks.
He blinks, and it’s like he’s in a dream because Lu Han’s in front of him right now, his hair wine red instead of dark brown like how it was during the wedding. He’s so close Sehun just wants to reach out and touch him but he’s afraid it’ll break this illusion, that Lu Han will just simmer away like a reflection broken by the ripples of water.
It takes a minute for Sehun to take in his surroundings – their old dorm – and another minute to realize that Lu Han’s talking.
“– you look at me in public? Why can’t you even say you love me to my face?”
It’s a nightmare now. Sehun stares, unable to grasp what’s going on. Lu Han sees the look on his face and pulls away. Wait, no –
“Forget it,” Lu Han sighs. “Why are we even having this conversation, this is stupid.” He mutters under his breath, turning away and grabbing his jacket from the couch.
Sehun knows how this is going to play out: Lu Han’s going to walk out for the second time and Sehun’s still powerless to do anything.
“You didn’t follow him? Didn’t run after him and explain?”
“I could’ve but I didn’t. I didn’t because I’m an idiot.”
Sehun still doesn’t know what happened but he knows that he’s not going to let this happen, not again; the unconscious decision – or rather, indecision –that tore everything apart. He hears the front door slam and in a heartbeat, he’s racing across the room to wrench it open.
“Lu Han!” He sees him at the bottom of the stairs, jacket clenched in his hands as he shivers in the cold air. Sehun’s heart caves in on itself. Is this what he looked like that night?
“Lu Han, please, listen to me,” he begs as he rushes down the stairs, fingers wrapping around Lu Han’s elbow before he can pull away. “I’m –I’m not good with expressing myself, I know that, but you, I don’t want to lose you.” Not again.
Lu Han sniffs, his head turned away, and Sehun waits anxiously. He presses his fingers against the inside of Lu Han’s elbow, and steps in closer. “Please,” he says softly, “I’m sorry. All this, this insecurities and paranoia shit, I’m done with it. Please, just come back inside.”
His heart beats faster at the way Lu Han leans against him, almost unconsciously. It hasn’t done that in years.
“Promise me,” Lu Han says, lifting his head to look at Sehun. “Promise me you won’t hide from me anymore.”
He sees a glimmer of hope in Lu Han’s eyes, like the spark of a flame. “I promise,” he says. He gathers Lu Han against his chest, feels another heartbeat pressed against his own. “I promise.”
Lu Han’s warm against him, and everything feels too real to be a dream. He sees his breath in the air, a thin cloud of life, and wonders if fate gave him a second chance to make everything right.
It’s like he’s watching a movie, all bright colors and sounds surrounding him. He watches as Lu Han loops his arms around his and smiles brightly at him. But Sehun doesn’t feel the warm presence by his side.
He’s watching his life, except he’s trap somewhere in the back of his mind, helpless to do anything but watch as Lu Han leans in too close for it to seem casual. Sehun notices a large audience before them, but movie Sehun seems to have forgotten.
The film cuts off and starts again. He hears warped yelling and heated arguments. He sees flashes of Lu Han walking out the door, Lu Han shoving him away, Lu Han throwing something at his face.
Fighting really was inevitable between them.
But with every slam of the door, Sehun sees it opening again and watches as he rushes out. Lu Han’s never further away than at the bottom of the stairs, and it’s like some sort of sick routine they’ve gotten used to long ago.
Sehun apologizes and everything’s back to normal again.
The film reaches the climax when Sehun sees headlines – newspapers, blog forums, magazines. He watches as pictures of him and Lu Han are posted seemingly everywhere; barely concealed touches, a sly kiss in between alleyways.
They’ve gotten careless.
Sehun feels empty. The company desperately attempts to clear away rumors. They kick Lu Han out. Sehun is moved to somewhere else. EXO falls apart.
The movie ends, and Sehun’s swallowed in darkness.
He wakes up with a start. Something’s stuck to his check and when he pulls it away, he realizes it’s a pencil. He glances down and sees a rough sketch of a skyscraper before him, rulers and eraser crumbs scattered all over the spacious desk. He spots a calendar on his right. It’s August 27th, 2020. Lu Han’s wedding.
Sehun scrambles up, nearly tripping over a box of graph paper sitting by the desk. His clothes feel like he hasn’t changed out of them in days.
His hair is a haystack; he looks in a mirror and finds pen marks along his cheek and graphite streaked all over his fingers.
“What is this,” he mutters. He looks around him and discovers he’s in an office, high-back chairs and whiteboards posted everywhere. He looks back on his desk. There’s a gold nameplate with his name on it.
“Oh, Sehun, you’re up. I hope your sketch is ready for evaluation this time.”
Sehun wheels around and finds a rather tall man standing before him, arms crossed. “I –I’m sorry, who –”
“Also, clean up after yourself,” the man says suddenly. He walks around Sehun and bends down to pick up two Styrofoam cups with Starbucks label printed on them. He sets them back on the desk, head tilting curiously as he looks at the skyscraper sketch. “Oh, you’re done with it! Good job, I’ll have this sent to the company when they open.”
“Excuse me, I don’t – who are you?” Sehun asks as he tentatively edges closer towards the exit.
The man turns around. “How long have you been up, Sehun? If you tell me seventy-four hours again, I swear to Buddha, I’m hauling your ass back to your apartment and knocking you out. This is bad for your health.”
“I –I don’t –”
“Take the day off,” the man says. He picks up a ring of keys off the desk and throws it towards Sehun. He catches it miraculously. “I’ll call you back to the office when we need to finalize the floor plan.”
He leaves with a small wave over his shoulder. Sehun looks at his keys and sees a Sedan logo. He drives a Mercedes.
Somehow, Sehun knows where the exit to the building is. Somehow, he knows which car is his, and somehow, he manages to drive to an apartment that shouldn’t be his but it is.
“Oh hey, you’re back,” is the first thing he hears when he steps inside. The voice is too familiar, and Sehun gapes when he sees Jongin waiting for him. He’s shirtless with only sweatpants on, his hair tousled, and looking like he just rolled out of bed. The familiarity hits Sehun hard and before he knows it, he’s wrapping Jongin in a hug, nearly tackling them to the floor.
“Whoa, hey hey hey, happy to see you too, man,” Jongin laughs, pushing Sehun off and holding him at an arm’s distance. “Christ, look at you. Three days at the office, you look like hell. Smell like it too,” he wrinkles his nose. “Go take a shower and pass out, ok? You look like you’re going to faint.”
Sehun feels like it too. “You, you, what are you doing here?”
“I… live here?” Jongin raises an eyebrow. “Come on, go take that shower, I think your head got screwed up with all the work you’ve been doing.”
“No, no, no, wait, wait,” Sehun holds his hand up. Just a few minutes ago, he had Lu Han in his arms, and now it’s like he doesn’t even know who the person in front of him is. “What am I doing here?”
“You’re here because you’ve finally realized you’re going to die from overworking, and now I’m debating whether or not to take you to the hospital,” Jongin says. He’s serious enough that Sehun’s worried he might actually end up in the emergency room.
“But – today is Lu Han’s wedding,” Sehun says. “Isn’t… isn’t it?”
Jongin stares at him for a very long time. “Lu Han’s in China, Sehun. Even if it is his wedding, I don’t see how you’re going to get there by tonight.” He levels Sehun with an almost accusing look. “Since when did you start talking to him anyway?”
“I think I need to sit down,” Sehun responds weakly, knees nearly buckling underneath him as he staggers to a nearby couch.
Images flood him, and what he had so desperately hope was a dream – the pictures, Lu Han getting kicked out, EXO ending too soon – is slowly, achingly, becoming reality. Sehun looks around the apartment. It’s surprisingly bare – there are no posters on the wall, only a few mugs are cluttering the coffee table in front of him, and the bookshelf contains more CDs than books. There’s a picture frame on the on the shelf and when Sehun leans in to get a closer look, it’s him with Jongin and a few others. He recognizes them: Kyungsoo, Baekhyun, and Chanyeol.
There’s no evidence that EXO existed. There’s no trace of Lu Han.
Jongin sits down next to him. “Hey,” he says, placing a careful hand on Sehun’s knee. “Hey, seriously, what’s going on?”
“I…” Sehun tries to talk through the whirlwind of frantic thoughts, “I fucked up, didn’t I?”
“Depends on what you’re talking about,” Jongin says. “You fucked up your internal alarm clock, that’s for sure.”
“Where’s Lu Han?”
The answer lies in Lu Han. He needs to find Lu Han.
Jongin’s expression clouds over. “He’s gone. And he doesn’t want to be found. Why would you want to see him anyway?”
“I can’t explain,” Sehun mutters as he yanks out his cell phone. At least it’s the same brand he used last time. But what is last time in this universe? He scrolls through his contacts and realizes with a sinking feeling there’s half as many as he remembered. One in particular stands out – Wu Fan.
“Where you going, you need to fucking sleep,” Jongin calls when Sehun abruptly races out the apartment, keys clutched in his hands.
The call to Wu Fan is as mentally exhausting as the talk he had with Jongin.
“I shouldn’t even be telling you this,” Wu Fan sighs after he gave Sehun Zitao’s number. “I don’t even know why you’re bothering to try, you’re not going to find him, Sehun.”
From Zitao, Sehun goes to Yixing and there he hits a dead end.
“I’m not telling you where Lu Han is, I’m not telling you his number, I’m not going to tell you shit.”
Sehun has never heard Yixing so angry before. He bangs his head against the head rest, and frustrated tears are threatening to spill over.
“I just need to talk to him, please Yixing, I just need to know how he’s doing –”
“You want to know how he’s doing? I’ll tell you how he’s doing – you ruined his career. He can’t sell a single album. He’s trying to get by with small vocal lessons and working at a coffee shop. Even model agencies won’t take him in. Good enough for you?”
Sehun feels cold sweat break out after every word Yixing spits at him. He can taste the venom in his voice, can feel the animosity from miles away.
“You broke up the group and now you just want to dig the wound in a little deeper. Just do us a favor and leave us alone.” And with that, Yixing hangs up with a click.
In this time, Sehun is an architect.
In this time, EXO lasts two years and a half instead of ten.
In this time, Lu Han hates Sehun.
Sehun lets the cell phone slip from sweaty palms and lays his head on the steering wheel. He watches the summer haze outside his window, doesn’t even pay attention to the way his shirt sticks to his back with sweat.
Why is this happening? He desperately tries to think back. Bent metal, broken glass, blood, more blood. A car crash. He doesn’t remember an ambulance but he remembers sleeping – or was it dying?
He should be dead but he’s not. And now he wishes he is.
A car crash.
Sehun jerks up. He feels the keys digging into the palm of his left hand where he’s clenching them so tightly his knuckles are bone white.
He starts the ignition and sits there, hands hovering hesitantly over the wheel. “Even if this doesn’t work, it wouldn’t matter,” he mutters. “I should be dead anyways.”
He speeds off onto the highway and finally finds a road where the speed limit isn’t any lower than sixty miles per hour. There are only a few cars trailing behind him. Sehun slams on the breaks and executes a very illegal U-turn.
He is now facing incoming traffic head-on.
He closes his eyes and suddenly he sees Lu Han standing in front of him, hair bleached platinum blond. They’re outside, and dust is settling slowly on his shoulders. Cars are rushing by, and Lu Han’s looking up at him expectantly, and Sehun knows what this is. He understands now.
Cars blare past him but his single focal point isn’t on them, it’s on Lu Han. He holds the image in his head and floors the pedal.
He sees black smoke and a rusted grill, and he actually laughs this time because he knows in a few seconds he wouldn’t be able to.
The noise sounds familiar.
The crash feels the same too.
Maybe the problem wasn’t Sehun.
Maybe something about him and Lu Han together spelled disaster.
Maybe what Lu Han needed wasn’t Sehun.
Maybe it was supposed to be someone else.
Sehun feels like he’s falling and suddenly he’s staring at street lights and white puffs of breaths in the air. He looks down a little and sees Lu Han, just the way he imagined. He has his fingers on the keypad, eyes curious as he stands there waiting.
“Sehun, you wanted to say something?” he asks gently.
He’s beautiful like this, Sehun thinks. This is the Lu Han I fell in love with.
And this is the Lu Han he will give up for the sake of happier days, years, lives. How many, Sehun doesn’t know, but one is enough. One happier life is enough.
“Just, you did really well today, hyung,” he smiles.
Lu Han laughs a little, ducking his head. “Thanks,” he says. He punches in the last few numbers and they walk in. Jongin greets them, and Sehun makes a last second decision.
“Hey, you know,” he says after he’s dragged Jongin off to the side. “You should take some risks too.”
Jongin’s eyes widen. For a split second, Sehun’s afraid Jongin might push him away, yell at him about how he gave Sehun the chance and he blew it. Instead, a watery smile breaks out across Jongin’s face and he crushes Sehun against his chest in a hug.
“Thank you,” he whispers against Sehun’s shoulder. “Thank you.”
“Make him happy,” he says. Jongin nods eagerly. “Keep it that way.”
The film this time is a little happier and a little sadder too. There are no fights this time at least, Sehun figures. This is because he and Lu Han aren’t that way. That’s Jongin’s story to tell.
Everything’s blurry, just like last time, but some scenes are crystal clear; Lu Han sneaking an arm around Jongin’s waist during a fanmeet, Jongin looking at Lu Han while he thanked everyone during his many birthdays, Lu Han smiling brighter than Sehun has ever seen.
There’s no warning when it suddenly shows Jongin and Lu Han drunkenly stumbling out the doors of a club on the night of their first win. Sehun sees a glimmer of something in Jongin’s hands. Car keys.
The next few scenes flash by like a slap to the face: a flipped-over car, the roof bent inwards and a bloody arm sticking out from a mess of broken glass; hospital beds and IV drips; a heart monitor beeping erratically.
In this time, Lu Han is dead.
When Sehun wakes up, he doesn’t take the time to look at his surroundings. He rushes out of whatever room he’s in, legs straining as he takes the stairs three at the time and finally jumping over the last five. He runs out the doors and realizes with a lurch that he’s standing outside the SM building.
“What the hell –” He reaches for his pockets and pulls out a cell phone. The screen reads 10:33 AM on August 27th, 2020. Lu Han’s –
“Lu Han,” he gasps, immediately scrolling through his contacts.
There is no Lu Han.
There is no Jongin.
M doesn’t exist anywhere on the list either.
He looks up and Joonmyun’s concerned face is in front of him. He looks older, as usual, and a little worn down. He’s holding a folder of something tucked in crook of his arm, and his hair has been tugged in all directions by the wind.
“Hyung,” Sehun breathes, caught somewhere between surprise and relief. “Hyung what are you doing here?”
“I should be asking you the same thing,” Joonmyun says, an amused little smile pushing into his cheeks. “Don’t you have a dance to choreograph? Comeback is in three months.”
“I –I need to talk to someone,” Sehun says hurriedly as Joonmyun climbs up the stairs to the SM building. “I need to talk to Jongin.”
“Jongin?” Joonmyun pauses. “You want to talk to Jongin?”
Sehun nods. Joonnmyun sighs and pulls out a blank sheet of paper.
“Here’s Baekhyun’s number. I don’t know where Jongin is but someone in our circle might,” Joonmyun says, words muffled with the pen cap between his teeth.
It's déjà vu all over again, except this time Sehun goes from Joonmyun to Baekhyun to Kyungsoo to Chanyeol. There are no dead ends this time.
“I don’t get it though, aren’t you pissed as fuck at him?” Chanyeol asks. “I mean, you guys haven’t spoken in ten something years, why now?”
“I don’t know how to explain,” Sehun mutters. It’s half true. “I just need to see him.”
“Mm, well, do you have a pen on you?”
“Uh yeah, hold on.” Sehun holds the phone between his cheek and shoulder, digging in his pocket until he pulls out a sharpie. Good enough.
“Alright, go ahead.”
“Okay, it’s one-four-six…”
Jongin doesn’t sound any different over the phone but when he opens the door right as Sehun’s about to knock, Sehun almost doesn’t recognize him.
He’s wearing a clean-cut white button down, black slacks, and holding a tie in one hand. His hair trimmed short, no longer curly near the edges and kept well out of his eyes. They stand there, Sehun with his arm still raised and Jongin half hidden in the darkness of his apartment.
There’s something in Jongin’s eyes Sehun doesn’t recognize. Fear.
“What are you doing here, Sehun?” Jongin asks. He sounds so tired.
“I,” Sehun swallows. “I just want to talk to you.” He steps forward hesitatingly. Jongin doesn’t move, door still half closed. “Can I come in?”
“I don’t see why not,” Jongin says as he lets the door swing open wide enough for Sehun to step in.
The coffee Jongin brews is too bitter and scalds Sehun’s tongue but he manages to swallow it down and even smile a little. “So… how are you?”
Jongin doesn’t look up from his cup. “I’m fine,” he says curtly.
Sehun nods awkwardly. This could’ve gone smoother.
“What are you doing here, Sehun?” Jongin asks again, except this time he sounds more curious than anything.
“I just want to know how you are,” Sehun says. “I… it’s been a while.”
“You didn’t seem so concerned for the past twelve years.” This time, Jongin’s voice is cold, flat. Sehun flinches. “Why now?”
He thinks about all the missing contacts on his phone, Chanyeol’s words, the flashes of broken glass and hospital beds. “I just wanted to know… about Lu Han –”
Jongin gasps and Sehun sees a stain on the white carpet beneath him. His hands are shaking and he’s having trouble setting his cup down on the table between them. “Is this why you’re here? To push all that on me again?”
“Well, I, I don’t –”
“How many times do you want to hear me say I’m sorry, fuck,” Jongin says, anger bleeding into his voice as he rakes his fingers through his hair. His hand looks even paler in contrast to his ink black locks.
“You were drunk,” Sehun says slowly, trying to piece everything together. Suddenly, the images of hospital beds make him sick. “You and Lu Han were drunk.”
“Yes,” Jongin says, hands clasped on his knees. “We were drunk and we were stupid.”
“And Lu Han…”
“Wanted to drive. So I sneaked Joonmyun’s keys out of his pockets and we left. I don’t know, I just sat there and let him drive.” Jongin wipes his hand down his face, eyes red along the rim and eyelashes wet. “And I thought everything would be fine, we’re just going for a joyride. If we crash, we crash, you know? The car would be damage but we…” Jongin doesn’t continue. Sehun doesn’t need him to.
“Where is he? Where did you bury him?”
Jongin glares. “You decided to take him back to Beijing, how can you forget that? You wouldn’t even let anyone else have a say.”
“I’m sorry, it slipped my mind,” Sehun mumbles.
“Well, it’s been nice talking to you,” Jongin says, hurriedly pulling the necktie under his collar. “I have to get to my office so –”
“Do you drive there?” Sehun asks.
Jongin hesitates. “No, I never drove after the accident. I take the bus.”
Sehun offers, “Let me drive you there. I don’t really have much to do,” holding up his keys.
“I don’t know. The last time I let someone else drive…” Jongin stops, instead focusing on his necktie.
“Let me do you this one favor. You know, for pushing you away all these years.” Sehun feels like he needs this as much as Jongin does.
“You had good reason to,” Jongin says. He looks at the keys with some apprehension. “Alright. I’ll be late taking the bus anyway.”
Sehun feels it, the jittery nervousness when Jongin slides into the passenger seat next to him, briefcase held securely in his lap. “Where do you work?” Sehun asks as he starts the engine.
“At the law firm at the end of Gyeongbu Expressway. You need to take the bridge over it.”
Sehun knows the place. “Yeah, no problem. You work at a law firm now?”
“It’s stable. Quiet too. I think I need it,” Jongin says. He’s looking out the window, hands clutching his seatbelt. Sehun feels the guilt weigh down heavier when they approach the bridge. His hands tighten around the steering wheel.
“Hey Jongin,” he says, eyes glued on the road.
“You trust me, right?”
“… Yeah. I mean, there’s no reason not to?” Jongin sounds confused. Sehun feels his teeth grind together as he clenches his jaw. The speedometer reads sixty miles per hour.
“Everything’s going to be alright.” He doesn’t know if he’s trying to comfort Jongin or himself. Maybe both.
“Sehun?” There’s panic in Jongin’s voice now.
Eighty miles per hour.
Sehun finally looks over. Jongin’s pressed against the door, looking every bit like a man about to bail over. His eyes read betrayal.
“I’m sorry,” Sehun whispers.
There’s a flash of white before he veers the car sharply to the right. The car plummets forty feet, nose first, towards solid concrete.
He thinks Jongin must be familiar with this, too.
There’s a beginning, Sehun knows this. It’s the first domino he knocked over, the wick leading to a mountain of TNT’s. It’s only a matter of finding it.
His uniform is unusually itchy, especially the collar. He reaches up and sees how bony his fingers are. His bangs are too long and the unfamiliar black brushes against his eyes.
His body feels fourteen, and when he looks around, he recognizes the food vendor outside his school. He slips his hands into his pockets. They’re empty.
In this time, Sehun is not yet an idol.
He hears her before he sees her, the sharp click clack of heels against concrete. This time, Sehun smiles when the woman approaches, body lax, and running is not an option. No, in this time, he takes the card with steady fingers, exchanges polite thank you’s, and watches as the woman walks away, cards stashed in her pockets like darts, ready to aim for her next targets.
Come audition for us. I have high hopes for you.
Sehun takes one look at the card, SM Entertainment Seoul Auditions, the gold letters tempting to anyone else but after years – hours, minutes, seconds – spent living and reliving through mistakes with unintended consequences, Sehun is finally able to see that this has been his one mistake all along.
He trashes the card on his way home, palm stinging from when he had crumbled it in his hand, the sharp corners digging into his skin.
In this time, Lu Han doesn’t know Sehun.
(“Hey, I heard there’s a new guy for Chinese Lit.”
Sehun looks up from his study plan. Jongin’s leaning against his desk, still dressed in his suit. He puts in more effort to look a little nicer for his students. “This quick? Is he any good?”
“Beats me. He has some pretty good credentials though, studied abroad in Seoul during undergrad and everything.” Jongin waves his hand in a vague manner as he downs the rest of Sehun’s coffee.
“Thank you for that,” Sehun deadpans. Jongin gives him a bright smile in response. “He sounds nice. I just hope he doesn’t lecture so loud I literally can’t hear myself talk.”
Jongin shrugs. “I saw his ID picture. Kind of cute if you ask me.” He laughs when Sehun gives him a withering look. “I’m just saying.”
“Do you even know his name?”
“Something like Lu Han?”)