selubrationmod (selubrationmod) wrote in selubration,

#280: A Game of Cat and Mouse: Part One

From: teatimetaemint

Title: A Game of Cat and Mouse
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 20,300
Summary: Shapeshifters are dangerous, that’s what Sehun’s mother has been telling him for almost all his life. But no one bothered to mention the part about their protective, stubborn and ridiculously affectionate nature.
Warning/s: brief mentions of blood and violence, very mild Sehun/Joonmyun (Sehun has a bit of a crush in the beginning)

There is something
I see in you
It might kill me
I want it to be true

- Paramore, Decode

Ten minutes spent too long in bed, a hasty charge out of his room and seventeen steps down the corridor was all it took for Sehun to barrel into his first person of the day. At least he hadn’t hit anyone in the face with his dorm room door or doused them with scalding hot coffee this time. Which meant he could probably consider it an improvement. And luckily for him, this morning’s victim turned out to have way better reflexes than his own, half-asleep self. His considerable momentum carrying him forward, even as he tried to stop after detecting the jeans-clad legs and deep green sneakers appearing in his field of vision, Sehun prepared himself for the unavoidable collision, when two hands snapped up and stopped his forward-movement with firm grasps on his biceps.

Like the crackle of static, warmth and tingles spread from where the person in front of him was still holding on to him. It took him several shaky breaths and blinks of his eyes, before Sehun finally managed to raise his head, gaze travelling over black jeans, a v-necked grey sweater and collarbones that had him swallowing down an instinctive hum of approval. Which was fortunate, as he was pretty sure he would have choked on it, the second his gaze reached the face of the person he’d just bumped into.

Oh dear God.

Out of control hair the color of roasted chestnuts, almost luminous skin and eyes so dark, so unyielding, it always seemed to Sehun as if he saw and knew things others could only speculate about.

Lu Han.

“Heads up, Quicksilver.”

The sound of that mesmerizing, smooth voice set off a chain of reactions as immediate as it was familiar. Heat exploding across his nape, shivers down his spine and rising panic locking almost every muscle in his body. Of all the people on this campus he could have bumped into, it had to be Lu-freaking-Han. The one person that made Sehun feel like a mouse trapped beneath a cat’s paw. Which was quite the appropriate analogy, all things considered.


His attempt at a comeback fizzling out on a pathetic crack of his voice, Sehun just stood there and stared, furtively praying for the floor to open up and swallow him whole. Or anything else that could possibly get him out of this situation. And that was when his default response to extreme nervousness kicked in and everything got so much worse.

“I’m so sorry! I didn’t watch where I was going and I was in a real hurry! I really didn’t see you there and I didn’t mean to bump into you! Sorry!”

Sehun had the very unfortunate habit to babble whenever his nervousness got the best of him and his current state had passed ‘nervous’ a while ago and plunged straight into ‘borderline panic’. Lu Han just tended to have that effect on him, even if he was looking at him with an entirely unbothered face. There was no trace of irritation or annoyance in his gaze, but those dark, calm eyes directed at him unnerved Sehun more than an explosion of temper from anyone else could have achieved.

“You’re lucky. I’ve been feeling generous lately and decided that other people are allowed to use the hallways as well.”

The younger man opened his mouth, just to find himself unable to get out a single word. Logically he knew that he was being teased, that Lu Han was most likely just trying to talk him out of his undoubtedly obvious freak-out. But in reality the fact that Lu Han was talking to him – noticing and acknowledging him – only had more anxiety pooling in his gut.

“I- I-,” wrestling with his words, he watched the older man arch one eyebrow, as he let go of Sehun and the slow drag of slightly calloused skin against his arm finally triggered his buffering flight instinct. “I… have to go.”

Pushing past Lu Han, he flew down the empty corridor like the hounds of hell were on his tail, focused solely on getting away, even as he was worrying about the kind of impression he was making on the older student.

Not that Lu Han’s opinion of him mattered all that much. The university’s campus and student body were relatively small and one eventually ran into everybody at one point or another, but that didn’t mean that Lu Han and Sehun had any relationship to speak of. They had talked a grand total of two times before this morning’s disastrous meeting. The first time Lu Han had shot a quick “sorry” in his direction, after walking past him and jostling his arm in the completely packed student center. The second time had been similarly impressive. Lu Han had held open a door for Sehun and he had thanked him in a shaky voice. The older man’s curt nod had put an end to their riveting interaction.

Socially they were simply on completely different levels.

Because that was what happened when you were awkward, clumsy and paralyzingly shy with strangers. People didn’t exactly line up for the chance of becoming your friend.

Lu Han on the other hand seemed like his complete opposite. There were rumors about Lu Han. So many rumors and stories that one could probably talk for hours and not run out of things to say. Which was only expected. After all, people liked to talk about people that fascinated them, people that had obviously led colorful and interesting lives – but most importantly, people that barely talked about said life. Because nothing was more irresistible than a good mystery.

And Lu Han definitely was a mystery.

Insanely attractive, a good student, frustratingly private and someone who mostly kept to his small, but close circle of friends. Then there was the minor detail of him being a shapeshifter – the whole reason for Sehun’s descents into panic whenever he was in the vicinity of the older man.

From the beginning Sehun had been as hopelessly fascinated as the rest of the student body – a strange mix of emotions bubbling up inside of him whenever he caught sight of the older man. His fascination was only out-weighed by his deep-rooted fear. A fear that had been instilled in him since his childhood.

“Woah there. Where’s the fire?”

It took Sehun a second to realize that he’d just walked past his cousin, who had obviously been waiting for him in front of the entrance to the dining hall.

"Why do you look like you've just seen a ghost?" Jongdae asked in that typical, slightly nasal tone of his, eyebrows pulled up so high, it almost seemed like they were trying to get up close and personal with his hairline.

"I ran into Lu Han. Literally, this time."

"Ah...," dragging out the word, until he had to give up and suck in a breath of air, his cousin gave him a look that was half pity, half exasperation, before he slung one arm over his shoulder and steered him towards the noises of the dining hall. "Let's grab a table."


"What, what?" his cousin threw back innocently, making Sehun pull a face at his immature comeback.

"You've been giving me these looks since we sat down and it's getting on my nerves."

"What looks?"

"The 'I want to say something, but I'm afraid Sehun's not going to like it' looks. So just spit it out. You're fidgeting like you need to use the bathroom."

That earned him the dubious pleasure of watching his cousin stick out his tongue at him. But a second later Jongdae's face turned unusually serious and Sehun had a feeling he was going to regret making the older man talk.

"I know you don't talk about what happened to your dad and I also know we never mention the things your mom has been telling you ever since, but shapeshifters really aren't that bad. Especially Lu Han. He's a decent guy."

"I know that. But knowing it and actually feeling it are two completely different things. It's not that easy."

Sehun heard the frustration in his own voice, saw the pity on Jongdae's face deepen and it made him want to crawl beneath the table and stay there. Stay there until he got over this ridiculous fear and stopped making a complete fool of himself, anytime he caught sight of Lu Han or any of the other few shapeshifters on campus.

They're violent and cruel, Sehun. Promise me you'll stay as far away from those shapeshifters as possible. They're dangerous and I can't lose you as well.

He didn't know how often he had heard his mother repeat those words, how often he had listened to them and tried to remember how things had been before. Before his father had gotten drunk at that bar and started that fight with a shapeshifter. Before they had beaten each other bloody and only one of them had gotten back up. Before he’d lost a father and his mother had grown bitter and wary of an entire species. But remembering was hard, when he could barely recall what his father had looked like.

In the past shapeshifters had been looked upon and worshipped as something very close to gods, their inhuman strength, speed and far superior senses setting them apart from mere humans. But somehow that admiration and reverence had turned into fear and fear into hate. Shapeshifters had become something to be hunted down, until only a few of them remained. These days they lived peacefully alongside normal humans. They were represented in the government, held ordinary and not so ordinary jobs and raised their families like everyone else.

But for Sehun they had never been just a normal part of everyday life. Not when his mother had made it her goal to turn people against them once more, ‘to make everyone see their true savage nature', as she always told him. Sehun had never thought of them as vicious or bad, but if you told a child often enough to fear something, it eventually did. Logically Sehun knew his fear of shapeshifters was nothing more than the result of his mother's daily brain washing, but like he had told his cousin, knowing shapeshifters weren’t actually vicious monsters and not feeling fear were sometimes polar opposites.

Staring down at his bowl of now soggy cereal he pushed it away from himself in disgust, his appetite thoroughly spoiled by this morning's events and the unpleasant trip down memory lane.

"I have to go or I'll miss my first class. See you at dinner? I'll be at your place at six."

Jongdae looked like there was so much more he wanted to say, but something about Sehun's shuttered expression must have told him it wasn't the right time. Instead the younger man was let off with a last piercing look that melted into impressive nonchalance just a second later.

"You better be. Mom and dad threatened to make me drag you there if you didn't show your face soon."

"It hasn't even been two weeks since I last visited you guys at home!"

"Please, you know my parents."

He sure as hell did and the thought of his willful aunt and uncle actually managed to pull a small, but genuine smile from him.

"I'll bring flowers for your mom and listen to them rant about not knowing where they went wrong while raising you. They'll forgive me in less than two minutes."

And the look of betrayal on Jongdae's face was enough to banish most of the gloomy thoughts clouding his mind, smile growing wider as he picked his tray off the table and gave his cousin a purposefully cheeky finger wave in good-bye.

"See you later, favorite cousin."

"I'm your only cousin, brat!"

"Be thankful. You'd never make the cut otherwise!"

Breakfast with Jongdae never failed to brighten his mood, Sehun thought, as he headed towards the exit, his cousin's sharp squawk of outrage echoing after him.

Still, the morning's classes seemed to drag on endlessly, some elusive thought lurking in the back of his mind like a persistent itch that kept his focus thoroughly ruined. His notes for that morning’s two classes were all but useless and Sehun was counting on Seulgi to let him copy hers before the midterms. But more than anything he was looking forward to meeting up with Joonmyun for lunch. If there was one thing that could take his mind off things, it was Kim Joonmyun and his angelic smiles.

The older man was already waiting at their usual table by the time Sehun returned to the dining hall, hand raised for a cheerful wave that had the younger man speeding up his steps. He was wearing one of his cheesy sweaters again – that no one except for him seemed to be able to pull off – and it had Sehun grinning from ear to ear as he plopped down in the seat across from Joonmyun.

"I'm starving."

"Did you sleep through breakfast again, Sehunnie?"

Sehun felt the tips of his ears turn hot at the nickname Joonmyun had started calling him recently and he worked hard to keep his face carefully neutral.

"Of course not. But I didn't really feel like eating this morning."

"Are you feeling unwell? You're not sick, are you?"

Chest glowing happily at the flash of worry on the older man's face, Sehun drew in a carefully measured breath and summoned his most reassuring smile.

"No, just some stuff that kind of ruined my mood, but I'm fine now," Sehun mumbled and swallowed the because you're here. He'd had an innocent crush on Joonmyun for months now. He knew the older man didn't feel the same way about him and he had a suspicion that it was one of the reasons why he felt so comfortable whenever he was around the older man. Crushing on Joonmyun was safe, because it was never going to lead anywhere. And Sehun thought he couldn't do much better than having a friend like Joonmyun by his side.

Joonmyun, whose smiles came easy, who always had time for him and took care of Sehun as if he was his own younger brother. Just like he had taken care of him that one day at the end of the last semester.

Jongdae and some of his friends had dragged Sehun and Chanyeol out for some post exam partying and keeping up with them had turned out to be a gigantic mistake. He had nursed the worst hangover in existence the next day, feeling like death warmed over. So he hadn't noticed in time when it suddenly got so much worse, right in the middle of the hallway. He’d broken out in a cold sweat, his heart had started to pound unnaturally fast and for a moment Sehun had actually expected to faint right then and there. An unfamiliar, soft voice had made him look up, worry-filled eyes staring at him, as he’d been carefully lowered to the floor with his back against the wall and an open bottle of orange juice was pushed into his hands.

"Drink this."

Sehun had been too out of it to object, simply praying that he would be able to keep it down, and after a few minutes of rest and several, careful sips of the juice he had slowly started to feel human again. A quick trip to the nurse office had told him that his blood sugar seemed to have dropped quite drastically – a consequence of the heavy drinking he’d done the previous night – and that he would probably feel better soon. He’d been released shortly afterwards, with the warning to come back if it happened again, Joonmyun still hovering beside him like a worried father. Sehun certainly hadn’t minded much, Joonmyun keeping the easy conversation going between them and helping him stay thoroughly distracted. It had been the start of the easiest, most comfortable friendship Sehun had ever had, the two of them having lunch together at least twice a week, since Sehun’s breakfasts were already reserved for Jongdae and their evening class schedules were too different to make regular, shared dinners possible.

Now Joonmyun's worried expression was melting away, replaced by that adorable eye smile and Sehun felt the last remainder of the tension in his shoulders melt away.

"That's good. As long as you're feeling better now. How's that crop cultivation paper coming along? Are you still struggling with it?"

Sehun's pained groan had Joonmyun's laugh ringing out and even though thoughts of the cursed paper had him feeling like throwing his plate across the room – preferably to hit a certain sadistic professor in the head – the happy sound was enough to pull another smile from Sehun.

Kim Joonmyun and his ridiculous sweaters – the cure for all sadness.

Maybe it was because it had only been a few measly hours since his last, humiliating encounter with Lu Han that he didn't expect to run into him so soon again. But as he and Joonmyun were leaving the dining hall, Sehun's unconscious sweep of the tables close to the door had him freezing in the middle of his next step. Joonmyun, obviously not expecting the abrupt halt, barreled straight into his back, but the younger of the two barely noticed.

Just two tables over sat Lu Han with his group of friends, his chin hooked over Kyungsoo's shoulder as he looked at something on the display of the shorter man's phone. The grin on his face could have probably been described as pure trouble. But as usual Sehun had gone into 'play dead' mode as soon as he’d caught sight of the older man – completely still and motionless on the outside, while polar emotions went to war inside of him. That instinctive leap of fear clashing with a peculiar prickle of helpless fascination. He looked so relaxed, so normal sitting there with his friends, joking with Yixing and Song Qian on the other side of the table, while he kept his arm slung over a slightly scowling Kyungsoo's shoulder. There was none of that coiled tension Sehun so often sensed inside of him, his eyes weren't alertly scanning his surroundings and the calm expression on his face was nowhere to be seen. Instead his body was relaxed as he leaned against the shorter man beside him, his eyes were sparkling with mirth and his face was graced by the broadest grin Sehun had ever seen on him.

Something about the unexpected sight had feeling returning to his frozen limbs, his spine unlocking, while the prickle of heat on his nape grew impossibly more intense.

"Sehun, are you alright?"

Joonmyun's voice sounded like he was talking through fog thick enough to touch and Sehun shook his head to rid himself of the unnerving sensation.

"I'm alright."

Surprisingly he was actually telling the truth.

Sehun had no idea what the hell was going on. Over the course of the last several days he’d caught sight of Lu Han so often, he was starting to think fate was playing some twisted joke on him. Getting a cup of tea at the campus coffee shop? Lu Han was standing a few spots ahead of him in the queue. Cutting across campus to reach his next class in time? The older man was playing soccer with a group of other students on the lawn in front of the science building. Handing in that cursed essay ten minutes before the end of the deadline? Lu Han was there was well, leaning against the office help's desk and listening attentively while the woman explained some of the papers spread out on the wooden surface between them.

So no, Sehun definitely didn't know what was going on, but all these run-ins with the older man were hell on his nerves. He expected to find Lu Han there in front of him every time he rounded a corner or stepped into a room and the mix of intense relief and confusing disappointment, whenever there was no sign of him, was starting to drive him just a little bit crazy.

Which was why Sehun decided a long, quiet evening studying in the library was in order. There was just something about being surrounded by books – even if he had no intention of actually reading most of them – that relaxed him. There was no place like the library in the evenings, already dark outside, with students hunched over the books spread out in front of them, typing away at their laptops or browsing the aisles for whatever books they were looking for.

Sehun wasn't the best student, but he did alright – whenever he wasn't sabotaging himself by leaving every damn thing to the last possible minute – so he had never quite understood his fascination with libraries. But he also wasn’t one to quell on things – usually – which was why he just went with it and studied there as much as possible. Mostly because his dorm room wasn’t really an option. A roommate like Chanyeol didn’t exactly make for the most peaceful learning environment.

By the time he’d outlined his next essay for Professor ‘Who’s Name Shall Not Be Named’ and caught up on all the stuff he’d missed due to his spaced-out state during Monday morning’s classes with the help of Seulgi’s detailed notes, he felt considerably more settled again. There was nothing like boring yourself into a state of utter relaxation with the help of tedious school work. It worked every time.

Calling it a complete success, he packed up his books, sent another short thank-you-text to Seulgi and shouldered his bag to head home. Maybe he would call Jongdae and see if he wanted to watch the first few episodes of the baseball anime he’d been telling Sehun about. If not, Chanyeol would definitely be up for a round or two on the Nintendo – the vintage game console that Sehun was willing to protect with his life.

Stepping out into the still balmy night air and trying to decide which of the two options appealed to him more, Sehun didn’t pay a lot of attention to the guy dashing up the stairs of the library until their shoulders collided with a painful thump.

Everything after that was nothing more than a blur of colors, sounds and the air whipping past him. One second he was rowing his arms to keep his precarious balance, the next he was airborne, feet sliding off the stone steps and body pitching sideways with a sound that was more croak than actual scream. His arms shooting out to catch his fall, he realized the instinctive move was a grave mistake as his palms met concrete a second before his entire body followed behind. For one moment he was simply too stunned to realize what was going on, before a burning pain scored his right palm. The next things he was aware of were the screeching of breaks and a shout of surprise. He was too disoriented to truly sense the danger he was in, but his body moved on its own. Curling his body and tucking in his head, making himself as small and compact as possible. He was hurting, dizzy and feeling so out of it, he was incapable of anything but a tiny whimper as a hand landed softly on his shoulder.

"Are you alright?" The barest squeeze of those fingers on his arm, but Sehun didn't think he was able to answer. "Sehun, come on. Talk to me. Are you alright?"

What he wanted to do was to stay like that, curled up in on himself, cradling his burning hand to his chest, and wait until the pain went away. But the voice above him was insistent, the hand on his arm never moving away, but also never tightening its grip or jostling him too much. It was the frantic edge slowly creeping into that clear, smooth voice – a voice that seemed more familiar with every passing second – that finally had him fighting through the haze of pain and disorientation.

"Sehun, can you move?"

"I... yeah. I'm fine."

Sehun wasn't sure if he was lying, but a brutally insistent part of him was urging him to take away some of the sharp worry in that voice.

Lu Han's voice.

The sudden realization had his head snapping around and judging by the absence of a fresh wave of pain, his body probably wasn't off too badly. Lu Han's head was hovering over him, strands of dark hair moving around a face scored with lines of worry and eyes more intense than he had ever seen them before.

"I'm fine."

"Can you sit up? Slowly."

Body reacting on its own, as if he didn't have another choice but to follow that gentle insistence in Lu Han's tone, he tightened his muscles and slowly pulled himself upright, the pressure of the older man's hand between his shoulder blades giving him a steady, careful push until he was finally sitting up.

"Are you hurt?"

He wanted to answer, he really did, but his mind wasn't cooperating. It was as if he couldn't quite focus on one thought at a time.

"Sehun, look at me."

His head was moving again, swiveling around until he found Lu Han in his sight. Instructions were good, they were easy to follow. He didn't have to focus or decide on anything like that. He just needed to do whatever Lu Han was telling him. Easy.

Holding that dark, intent gaze was anything but easy, though. Those sharp, not quite human eyes were holding him captive in a way that made him want to move closer and run into the other direction at the same time. Sehun knew that something about his reaction to Lu Han wasn't quite adding up, but he just didn't have the strength or will power to figure it out at the moment. Instead he just watched as Lu Han slowly lowered his gaze, dark eyes sweeping down the length of his body, until they suddenly focused with a flash of something almost angry. The older man's sharp hiss had Sehun flinching away from the sound and with an almost electric shattering of the quiet, realization barreled down on him.

Lu Han hovering over him.

Lu Han's hands on him.

Lu Han touching and looking at him again.

"Does anything other than your hand hurt?"

It was as if he had forgotten the pain, only for it to come back with vengeance of a scorned lover, the burning so sharp, so sudden, Sehun couldn't quite repress his renewed whimper. The weak sound had Lu Han's gaze snapping back up to him and Sehun's body sprang into action the second their eyes met. Pushing himself up with his mostly unscathed hand, he would have started running the second he got his feet beneath him, if it hadn't been for the grip Lu Han still had on his arm.

"Slowly! You might hurt yourself even more."

The command cut sharply through the quiet night air, the campus almost creepily silent at this time of the night and his body froze once again, muscles coiled tight for escape.

"Breathe." The single word sounded frustrated – the volatile mix of emotions in those dark eyes completely unreadable – before Lu Han’s voice suddenly softened to a crooning whisper. "Just take a deep breath and try to calm down. It's alright, it just seems like you scraped your right hand pretty badly. Everything's going to be okay."

Lu Han just kept on talking, voice pitched low, like he was talking to a scared child, his hand on Sehun's arm slowly loosening its grip, but still refusing to let go completely. And something about that tone eventually seemed to pierce through the haze of fear, Sehun’s heart beat gradually slowing its frantic pace and fresh air finally soothing the dull burn of his tight throat.

"That's the way. You're doing just fine." The calm praise barely registered, but locked muscles lost their rigidity and the sheer overpowering urge to run gave way to a mix of trepidation and embarrassment. "Can you tell me if anything else hurts? Did you hit your head? Your hip? Your knees? You hit the pavement pretty hard."

"My right knee and elbow are hurting, but it's not bad?"

His voice was hoarse, barely more than a croak, and the words coming out of his moth sounded almost like a question, but after another careful sweep of his body, Lu Han gave him a small nod.

"Alright. I'm sorry for almost running you over. One second you were on top of the stairs and the next you were lying on the pavement. You scared the hell out of me."

Running him over?

Head turning carefully to the side he spied the bike lying on the ground next to them and finally the screeching of brakes he had heard, right after his less than gentle collision with the concrete floor, started to make sense.

"It's... alright. It wasn't your fault. I bumped into someone and fell. Thanks for stopping."

That had Lu Han blinking up at him as if he was trying to figure out if he was being sarcastic or not. It almost made Sehun want to smile. As if he’d actually be capable of blabbering anything but the truth in his current state. He was trying to keep his eyes from landing on Lu Han too much, but it was like fighting a losing battle. His gaze was relentlessly drawn to the shorter man and there was apparently nothing he could do about it. He watched Lu Han rifle through the bag still slung across his chest with the hand that wasn’t still holding on to Sehun, before he suddenly produced a dark, blue towel.

“Here, take this. I promise it’s clean. I was going to join a few of my friends to play some basketball, before you decided to take a header off the stairs.” With that he refolded the piece of fabric until he could press the inside against Sehun’s mutedly throbbing hand. “Let's just get you to the hospital."

The words had Sehun snapping back to full attention.

"Ho- hospital? I don't need to go to the hospital!" Maybe his voice sounded just a little bit frantic, but he thought he was entitled to a little bit of panic at the threat of being dragged to the hospital. He hated hospitals.

"Sehun, look at your hand. It’s bleeding and you've got dirt and some grit in that wound. That's not just some tiny scratch. You need to get that cleaned and checked out."

Gone was the soothing tone. Instead Lu Han's voice was infused with a steely determination that had renewed unease crawling up Sehun's spine. So far he’d avoided looking down at his throbbing hand, but it seemed as if his grace period was officially over. He only wished he’d given himself a few more moments of blissful unawareness.

Make that an hour.

The second he lifted the towel high enough to get a good look at the bloody groove at the edge of his palm, he felt himself going just a tiny bit light-headed. And of course the pain got immediately worse, now that he knew how bad his hand actually looked.

Maybe the hospital isn't such a bad idea after all.

It was the loss of pressure and warmth on his arm that made Sehun realize that Lu Han had let go of him. A startled glance to the side revealed him pulling his mountain bike upright, before he immediately returned to his side.

"Can you walk? It's not that far to the hospital, but I'd rather you tell me now if you don't feel up for it. I’m sure I can get Kyungsoo to pick us up in his car."

"I can walk."

Never in his life had Sehun been as relieved to set foot in the entrance hall of a hospital as he was that day. If there was one word to describe the past fifteen minutes, 'nerve-wracking' would have been his first choice. The silence between them had been torturous, only broken when Lu Han had asked him how he was holding up, about halfway to the hospital. The spike of his pulse, every time the older man turned towards him certainly hadn't helped to make the experience any easier on his already frayed nerves.

A few minutes later, with the administrative stuff taken care of, they were seated in the mostly empty waiting area, a sterile pad now pressed to the raw wound, courtesy of the nice nurse that had checked them in.

It was a struggle to keep himself from constantly glancing at Lu Han slouching in the seat next to his. The other man didn’t make any sounds, but even through the fabric of his clothes Sehun could feel his proximity like a static crackling across his skin. The younger man was so hyper-aware of Lu Han right next to him, he felt like he might just burst out of his skin any second now.

"You don't have to wait. Accompanying me here was already more than enough."

Please leave. Please, before I make even more of a fool out of myself. Or before this awkward tension between us kills me. Whatever comes first.

Lu Han either didn’t pick up on his extreme discomfort, or simply didn’t care, as he propped up his elbow on the armrest, the fabric of his sweater brushing against Sehun’s light jacket. The unconscious contact had the younger man fighting the urge to shift away – even as some hidden, reckless part inside of him wondered what it would feel like to have his arm pressed up fully against Lu Han’s. The stray thought – so completely out of place and character – made Sehun wonder if maybe he’d hit his head after all.

“I almost ran you over with my bike. I’m pretty sure this is the least I can do.”

And suddenly that hidden, reckless part didn’t stay quite as hidden anymore.

“That wasn’t even your fault! That’s just my bad luck.” Sehun wasn’t even aware that he was almost shouting the instinctive protest. “Seriously, I’m probably the unluckiest person you’ll ever meet. If it was anyone’s fault then let’s just blame the guy that bumped into me and didn’t bother to stop when I took that header off the stairs. Although I’m pretty sure he didn’t even notice. He looked like he was in a hell of a hurry.”

Brows inching just a little bit higher and lips pursed, Lu Han looked like he was pondering something highly confusing, before his mouth suddenly relaxed into an easy smile.

“Fine, let’s blame the rushing asshole. But I’m still staying.”

As if to make a point of it, he slumped deeper into his seat, seemingly unbothered by the ridiculously uncomfortable seats. The younger man on the other hand was the opposite of relaxed. He actually felt like someone had just slapped him across the face. Stunned, breathless, a little dizzy and a lot breathless.

That smile.

Before he could recover from the shock, his name was called and he shakily staggered to his feet, feeling just a little light-headed. With his luck, they would probably insist on examining him for a head-injury or possible concussion.

He didn't remember much about the cleaning and dressing of his wound, the whole thing over before his dazed mind caught up with the whole situation. He just sat there, hand resting limply on the table, and staring at the top of the doctor’s head, where the man sat, leaning partially over Sehun’s hand and focusing completely on his work.

"You're tough. Most people would have called me at least one unflattering name by now, not to mention screamed their heads off. You winced maybe two or three times."

Sehun didn't think telling the doctor that he’d barely noticed what he’d been doing to him would be a good idea. But the man could have painted his nails a sparkly pink and he wouldn't have put up a fight, his mind still firmly locked on the stunning transformation of Lu Han's face as he’d smiled at him. Until this moment he’d only seen that smile from afar and it was so much more devastating up close. So instead he just thanked the doctor and left with the instructions to keep the wound as dry as possible and to come back in a few days for another check-up.

Lu Han was still where he’d left him, lounging comfortably in his chair, fingers tapping an irregular beat against the armrest, legs stretched out in front of him and crossed at the ankles. Something about the sight had Sehun swallowing past a nervous flutter in his throat. He didn’t think he’d given away his approach in any way, but Lu Han’s gaze snapped towards him the second Sehun stepped back into the waiting area. For a few seconds those dark eyes rested on the large, adhesive bandage on his hand, before they returned to his face with an almost lazy sweep over his body. The flutter in Sehun’s throat cut off at the same time as his breath.

“All done?”

Sehun wasn’t capable of more than a jerky nod, but Lu Han didn’t seem to expect more from him anymore, rising from his seat in a move that was as fluid as it seemed effortless. A few minutes and a bit more paperwork later they were on their way again and Sehun didn't even bother arguing when the older man insisted on accompanying him home. It wasn't as if Lu Han had listened to any of his objections so far. The guy was stubborn as a mule.

Maybe his animal side is actually a mule. The thought of a mule shapeshifter was oddly amusing, but before he had time for more than a fleeting twitch of his lips, Lu Han was turning towards him again and effectively cutting off any amusement he might have garnered from the hilarious picture of the older man turning into a grey, bristly mule.

"Wouldn't want you to trip onto any more walkways, let alone the street. I don't think it's a good idea to have someone as clumsy as you walking around on your own."

Bristling at the clear insult, Sehun was about to hiss out an indignant complaint when he became aware of the unmistakable spark of humor in the older man’s eyes. The huff he let out at the realization that he was being teased again had Lu Han answering with a carefree bark of laughter, the sound so infectious, Sehun just barely managed to rein in the instinctive urge to smile in return. The next moment though, Lu Han bumped his shoulder against Sehun’s so good-naturedly, it took the younger man several, crucial seconds to realize that he was giggling. Giggling, for God’s sake. Choking back the embarrassing sound as waves of mortification swamped over him, Sehun kept his eyes stubbornly ahead for the rest of the walk home. Unfortunately that didn’t keep him from picking up on the amused chuckles Lu Han seemed incapable of holding in.

“This is me,” Sehun mumbled, as they stepped up in front of the dorms, finally left with no other choice than to look at Lu Han – unless he wanted to make himself look like an even bigger fool tonight. Which would have been quite the feat, all things considered. He still regretted it, the second their gazes met and something unidentifiable took up the squirming motion in his belly again. “Thanks. For everything.”

It was lame. He was so damn lame, but he just didn’t know what else to say. Luckily Lu Han either didn’t seem to care or he’d decided to take pity on Sehun, giving him another smile as he readjusted the messenger bag strap on his shoulder. It was quieter this time, more subdued, but no less mesmerizing. This time Sehun didn’t even have the chance to consider holding back his answering smile before the corners of his lips were pulling up on their own accord.

“You’re welcome. I hope the hand heals up soon.”

A casual two finger salute and Lu Han was straddling his bike, pulling off the headphones that had been hooked around his neck all this time and settling them over his ears with practiced efficiency. Sehun must have stared too long or too intensely, because instead of leaving Lu Han raised his eyebrows at him in a clear request of an explanation. “Something wrong?”

Sehun’s ears were undoubtedly turning a deep red again, as he stuttered out his reply. “Isn’t it dangerous to drive around with your headphones on?” God, he sounded like an idiot. “What if you don’t hear a car coming your way or something like that?”

Lu Han blinked at him one, two, three times – as if he couldn’t believe a klutz like Sehun was questioning him about road safety – and then he was suddenly smiling again. Grinning, as a matter of fact, eyes flashing with a softer emotion he didn’t know how to name, and Sehun’s stomach did another over-excited tumble.

“Don’t worry. I have good ears.”

With a tap to the headphone still settled over his ears and a last amused flash of his teeth, he was gone and Sehun stood there, watching his retreating form until he disappeared down the street, the peculiar feeling in his chest only growing stronger.

Good ears.



Part 2

Tags: 2016, fic, length: over 15k, rating: pg-13, round 5

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