It’s hard to hear with the delicious screeching of a guitar and the thunder of drums from people that know what they’re doing. Luhan’s whole body vibrates. It starts in his head and then travels down, pooling in the core of his chest. It makes him feel alive. There’s hundreds of people around him. All of them sweaty and most disgustingly smelly. They’re pressed up against him in the most uncomfortable ways. But Luhan is living more than he has in a while.
The venue is a little one in the heart of Philadelphia. He’s still new to the city but he can find his way around. It wasn’t his intention to go to a concert on a Tuesday night. He merely stumbled into the venue. Perhaps it wasn’t truly a stumble. He might have seen a banner of the headlining band and kind of, sort of found them attractive. So in his work clothes, he pushed his way in line with all the other waiting fans, most of them teenage girls.
He thinks they’re even more attractive in person. He’s not up close but close enough to see them all pretty well. Their main singer is one who wears too heavy of eyeliner and has a black fringe that’s covered half of his face. Luhan watches the way his fingers curl around the microphone every time he leans forward to sing. The bass player is wearing a very loose tank top. Luhan licks his lips as he runs his eyes down the sides of the man, seeing how his ribs press against his skin whenever he moves. Not to mention the arm muscles that he’s for sure flexing. The drummer is something else. His ears are big and his bright smile are standing out through the flashing lights and laser beams. He’s shirtless, showing off the big, dark ink over his collarbones.
But the guitarist. Luhan never thought of himself as desperate. It’s been a few years but he wasn’t yearning for someone. The man strumming away in front of him made him feel otherwise. His hair is jet black, bangs just above his eyebrows. His nose was prominent and so beautiful. Lips that were way too pink to be bare and teeth that were as white as snow. He was stunning and Luhan has trouble keeping his balance with the moving crowd.
It doesn’t take long to learn their names with the amount of fans screaming their names. Baekhyun, Minseok, Chanyeol, and Sehun. Luhan feels a little less like an outsider by the end of the first song. And now he’s not just here for their looks, he’s honestly enjoying their music. Luhan’s head bobs along with each strum of the guitar and he soon finds himself singing along to the little parts of the song he’s caught onto. By the end of the third song he may or may not be screaming along with the other teenage girls next to him.
He finds himself becoming one with the crowd as the show goes on. He lets his body get swayed and taken wherever they take him. Eventually he finds himself up close and personal to the stage, the beautiful men right above him. He screams and cheers probably louder now than the girl next to him. He knows most of them are giving him looks by the way he’s dressed. His face makes him fit right in. There’s even a point in time where the singer, Baekhyun, leans down and touches his hand. It makes Luhan blush and cheer even harder. He feels like the oldest fanboy and he suddenly doesn’t care that it’s Tuesday night and he has to be up in about five hours for his next work day.
Everything is a mess when they leave the stage. All the people in the crowd go running outside in hopes of meeting the band members of E.X.O. As much as Luhan would like to be one of those people running, the concert has started to take a toll on him. He’s sweaty beyond belief and his shirt is soaked. His bangs are stuck to his face and he’s sure his BB cream is completely gone by now. Even if he did have the energy to keep up with the younger kids, there’s no way in hell he’d go and see them in the state he’s in.
Luhan is probably the last person to go out of the venue. He takes his time, eyes looking around at all the decorations that have been hung up on the wall. It makes a part of his heart tighten seeing all the successful bands. He frowns at his own pathetic music career, if he could even call it that. He writes songs on and off and plays the keyboard. It’s nothing much really, he has one or two songs, maybe. But he’d like to say he’s pretty good at the keyboard, just not so great at writing songs. There’s singing too. He knows he’s good at that. Luhan’s been in the school choir the whole time he was attending, from middle school all the way through university. Yet putting the two together to create his own music never went too well.
As the cool air of summer hits his cheeks, he remembers why he stopped going to concerts. It always killed his confidence and made him feel like shit afterwards. People most likely younger than him already have made a career out of their music. They have crazy fans that know all the words to their songs and chase them when they see them on the streets. And Luhan was still stuck in his office job and had to resort to making music in the middle of the night while his roommate was asleep.
Luhan blinks and looks around, gasping as someone grabs his arm and twists him around to face him. And there’s Chanyeol, the drummer, gripping his arm with a death grip. Luhan sputters and tries to keep cool. He doesn’t want to look like an idiot but he realizes he’s sweaty as fuck and probably looks horrible so his insides start turning with anxiety.
“Have you seen Baekhyun?”
Shit, he thinks. Chanyeol thinks he’s a fan, a real one. Luhan panics because he can’t really remember which one is Baekhyun. He thinks it’s the singer but the bass player kind of looks like a Baekhyun too. Then there’s the fact that Chanyeol has a heavy accent and it makes Luhan’s heart beat a little faster out of attraction rather than anxiety. Luhan’s mouth opens but nothing comes out and he realizes that he probably looks like a dead fish at the moment.
“Listen,” he says with his heavy voice. “I don’t know you but two sets of eyes is better than one. Can you help me find him, please?”
Luhan nods dumbly, mouth finally closing because he really can’t say no. Chanyeol grabs his arm and tugs him down the street and at this point Luhan’s convinced that he’s passed out in his bed and this is all a dream.
There’s a van parked on a side street that Chanyeol tugs him to.
“Did you find him?” Luhan’s eyes meet the bass guitarist’s. He parts his lips some, realizing that Baekhyun wasn’t that one. “Who the fuck is this?”
Ouch. Luhan sucks in a breath, pressing his lips together tightly as he slides into the van, taking a seat next to the bass player.
“He’s gonna help find Baekhyun.”
Luhan forces a smile, holding his hand out, gaining a little more confidence. “Luhan.”
Instead of shaking his hand, the other ignores him, eyes staring straight as Chanyeol begins to drive. “Where’s Sehun?”
“He’s walking around looking for Baek.”
“Is he crazy? I swear to fuck this happens every goddamn time we have a concert. Baek runs off somewhere and Sehun goes to find him and that’s when fucking fan girls attack him and then we have to hear about it all night long.” Minseok, Luhan remembers, groans out, leaning his head against the window forcefully. “You’re sharing the room with him tonight.”
Luhan sits quietly, teeth pressing into his bottom lip as he looks out the window. He doesn’t really know what to do. It’s terribly awkward in the van and he seriously thinks about just jumping out and playing dead so he can get out of the situation.
It doesn’t take long before Luhan spots one of the band members wandering out on the streets. He’s the one that has tight leather pants and the beautiful nose. Luhan mentally kicks himself for not remembering their names. He points at the window and looks over at Minseok.
“Is that him?”
Minseok pushes himself off his seat and over Luhan. He leans back against his seat, eyes wide as Minseok seems to have no idea about personal space. His fingers stumble to hit the window button and once it’s fully down he’s sticking his head out.
Chanyeol stops the van a little too hard and Luhan finds his face colliding with Minseok’s side. The other doesn’t seem to mind and keeps screaming Sehun’s name until he looks over. Luhan watches with his teeth digging into his bottom lip so hard, he’s sure he’s bleeding. His head is turned uncomfortably and his eyes are watching as Sehun jogs across the street. His hands tug open the door before sliding in.
“Did you find him?”
Minseok finally goes back to his seat and shakes his head. “No.”
Sehun sighs, hand pushing back his hair. “He’s probably at the river again. That’s where he goes every time we’re here.” Sehun stares at Luhan, tilting his head as he blinks.
Luhan quickly clears his throat and sits up straight. “Luhan,” he says quietly, “Uh, Chanyeol asked me to help find Baekhyun.”
They stay quiet for the rest of the ride to the river. Both Sehun and Minseok look out the window, bodies pressed against the doors in any hopes of Baekhyun. Luhan thinks the air is a little more calm and he doesn’t feel as awkward as before. He’s still in a van full of complete strangers that smell like sweat and wear skin tight leather outfits but hey, Luhan was actually doing something. He wasn’t sitting at home staring at the blank wall next to his bed, waiting for sleep to come. It was now two in the morning and he was driving in search of Baekhyun with a band he just saw and it was starting to get fun. It made him think of his teenage years when he would go out in the middle of the night with his friends back in China. They wouldn’t do anything in particular, just wander around looking for anything interesting. But it brought back nice memories and it made his heart race with excitement.
“Fuck,” Chanyeol says as he stops the van in front of the little shore. He pushes himself out of the van and Sehun and Minseok soon follow. Luhan watches, unsure if he should get out or not but once he sees the three running down onto the pebbly shore, he pushes himself out as well.
“Baekhyun, you fucking lunatic!”
Luhan stops next to Minseok on the shore, out of breath and the sweat begins to slick his skin again. He watches as Sehun and Chanyeol waddle through the water to Baekhyun, who was currently struggling in the water.
“God fucking damnit,” Minseok says, kicking his foot against the pebbles, making some plop into the water. “He does this all the time. Every time we come here.” Luhan opens his mouth to ask why but Minseok answers it before he can ask. “He dated a girl here once. When we all first got together he was dating her. She dumped him here and now he can’t get over it.” Minseok shakes his head, pushing his hair back before looking at Luhan. “It’s been like five years and he’s still always doing this.”
Luhan bites his lip, watching as Chanyeol and Sehun drag Baekhyun out of the water. Minseok grabs Luhan’s arm and tugs him to the van after the other three. Sehun is the one to get a blanket out of the back and wrap it around Baekhyun. He’s yelling at him and there’s a few slaps to the cheek before Baekhyun apologizes. Luhan gets the look yet again when Baekhyun finally stops crying. And for the nth time, he says his name is Luhan but it doesn’t seem to get acknowledge that time either.
“You got anything to do in the morning?” Chanyeol is the one to ask him when they get back in the van. Baekhyun is pressed between him and Minseok and the smell of the river is making Luhan’s stomach feel weird.
Work, he thinks but he shakes his head. “No.” In all reality, he really doesn’t want to go home. As crazy and confusing as this night has been, he’s really enjoying it. Not to mention he doesn’t want to go to his shit office job if he doesn’t have to.
“You’re coming with us back to the hotel then,” Sehun says, chin resting on the seat’s headrest.
Luhan doesn’t really know what he expected a rock band’s hotel room to look like. As nice as it was, on the top floor of a very prestigious hotel, their clutter was overwhelming. There’s empty pizza boxes laying around, tissues, clothes, and a fair share of underwear and what looks like condom wrappers. Luhan whines and panics in the back of his mind, wondering if this was the best idea. Sure it was fun but seeing all the mess and condoms makes him wonder what they wanted to invite him back for.
“I call shower first,” Chanyeol sings as he steps over a pile of chip bags.
Luhan stands awkwardly in the middle of the living room while the other members begin doing their own things. Baekhyun lays face first on the couch, Minseok grabs a pair of underwear off the floor, sniffing it and holding it up before nodding and disappearing into another room, and Sehun goes over to the kitchen and pulls out a six pack of beer.
He can feel Sehun’s eyes on him as he lights up a cigarette with one hand then opens a beer can with the other. He smiles before biting his lip and taking a seat on the chair next to the couch. There’s far too many things on the coffee table and it makes Luhan’s fingers twitch to organize it. If his job had taught him anything it was organization. He was meticulous about it now. Everything had a place and it had to go back in that place at the end of the day no matter what.
Among the candy wrappers and soda cans, he sees books and music sheets sprawled out. He tilts his head slowly, trying not to look like he’s snooping. The words are all in Korean and it makes his lips twitch up in a smile.
The question was directed towards Baekhyun, mainly, but the singer had passed out and it was Sehun that came up behind him and answered.
“Yeah, all four of us.” Sehun’s cigarette is a little too close and Luhan tries not to cough when the smoke lingers in front of them. “You’re not from here either, are you?”
Luhan shakes his head slowly, tilting it back so he can see Sehun sipping on his beer. “Chinese.”
Baekhyun starts groaning in his sleep and his face soon contorts into a big frown. Sehun scoffs, shaking his head before tapping his cigarette against the ashtray on the table. “I don’t know what we’re going to do with him. There’s no way we can perform tomorrow with him like this.”
An idea pops into Luhan’s mind. It’s a scary one and he tries to stop the words coming out of his mouth but it comes out like word vomit and soon he’s facing Sehun and looking into his eyes. “I can sing.”
Sehun raises his eyebrows and takes another sip of beer. He sets his cigarette in the ashtray and Luhan watches as the other rummages through the great amount of papers and books. He soon pulls out a sheet of paper, tossing it onto Luhan’s lap. Luhan blinks, head turning to watch as Sehun goes and grabs what he thinks is his phone off the kitchen counter before returning to him.
The taller one sets the phone down on the armrest before tapping the screen. Music begins to play and he realizes that it’s one of the songs he heard earlier from them. Sehun looks at him with narrowed eyes before picking up his cigarette. “Sing.”
His heart is beating and his fingers are shaking as he grabs the paper that was put on his lap. All the lyrics are in English, not that it would matter since Luhan was fluent in Korean thanks to four years of it in University, thankfully because the Hangul version is like a blur at the moment. He furrows his brows as the recording of Baekhyun begins to sing. Luhan sucks in a breath, quietly singing along as well as he can in his nervous state. It doesn’t help that Sehun is staring him down with furrowed brows and parted lips either.
“Holy shit, you can sing?”
Luhan gasps, lips closing as he sees Minseok emerge from wherever he went, now changed into what looks like pajamas. Sehun taps his finger against the phone and the music stops. He doesn’t say anything, just finishes off his beer and puts out his smoke before returning to the kitchen.
“No,” Luhan says with a gentle laugh, “Not...not really.”
“He’s gonna fill in for Baekhyun tomorrow night.”
Luhan chokes on his spit and stands up, eyes wide as he looks at Sehun. “What?” He tilts his head, realizing that Minseok was in unison with him. Luhan shakes his head quickly, biting at his bottom lip. “I can’t do that! I don’t really know your songs and Baekhyun will be fine, right? You said he does this every time so...”
Sehun narrows his eyes, elbows leaning against the island counter in the kitchen. Luhan watches as a smirk curls his lips up before he parts them and raises his eyebrows.
It’s hard to stay focused on the papers in front of him for two reasons. One because he didn’t get any sleep last night. It was just after six when he left E.X.O’s hotel room and that meant all he could do was go home and change before hopping on the seven o’clock bus to his building. Two because well, he was going to be singing with that same band in about twelve hours. It only mildly concerned him that instead of having him practice, they just fooled around and played video games all night and then told him to show up around eight for their performance.
The wait for the work day to be over was terribly long. Though, Luhan wasn’t doing much to pass the time other than stare at the clock and hope it would move faster. He even went to the copy room and attempted to make copies for something that he can’t remember. Yet thanks to their expensive copier, making one hundred copies only took about five minutes.
“Luhan.” A voice says next to him. “Luhan,” The same voice grabs at his hand, pulling it away from the copy machine. “We only need a hundred.”
Luhan blinks, looking down to see that he’s made far too many, most of them floating down to the floor as more print. He laughs softly, rubbing the back of his neck as he presses cancel on the machine. “Sorry, guess I spaced out.”
Jongin, his coworker that sits in the cubicle next to him, sighs and pokes Luhan’s forehead. “You’ve been like this all morning.” Jongin leans against the wall, arms crossed at his chest. “What’s going on?”
“I just didn’t get much sleep last night is all,” Luhan says, running his hand through his hair.
“Come on,” the other says with a smile. “Let’s go get some coffee.”
The “break” room, which is really just a room with a table, mini fridge, and a Keurig, is empty as expected at eleven. Most people are hurrying to finish their work to submit right before noon so they can go on their lunch break with smiles and feelings of relief. Luhan slumps down, feeling the exact opposite.
“What kind do you want?”
Luhan leans his head back, looking at Jongin upside down as he rummages through the box of single Kcups. “Starbucks if there’s any left.” He watches as Jongin pulls out a familiar white with green cup and plops it into the machine.
“So,” Jongin says as he grabs his own Kcup and two mugs. “What’s going on because I know it’s not just lack of sleep.” He tilts his head and looks at Luhan. “Because I know for a fact you don’t do anything crazy when you go home after work.”
He puffs his cheeks out, sitting up right before pushing himself off the chair and walks over to Jongin. “I just,” he sighs, taking his mug from under the Keurig. “I had some stuff come up last night and I didn’t get home until late.”
Jongin isn’t buying it and Luhan already knows. He can tell by the way he raises his eyebrows and grins. Luhan blinks, holding his hands up and shakes his head. “Woah, no no. I’m not,” Luhan sputters and shakes his head faster. “That’s not what I mean.”
The other only hums as he switches the Kcups to his own drink before sticking his mug under and pressing brew. “Hey, I don’t care,” Jongin says with a laugh. “It’d be good for you, to get laid, you know.”
Luhan lets out a groan that gets drowned out when he puts his now slightly cooler coffee to his lips and takes a large sip. The bitterness of black coffee wasn’t something he ever got accustomed to and it still always makes the back of his throat tense. He shakes his head when he swallows, meeting Jongin’s eyes. “I think I’m finally getting my music stuff together. Like actually doing something with it.”
He almost regrets telling Jongin what he just did. Only because he knows Jongin doesn’t really agree with the whole music as a career thing. It’s too late to take it back but luckily Jongin doesn’t seem interested and just nods, fixing his coffee in silence. Luhan mentally facepalms before whispering that he should get back to work since he’s got next to nothing done. The other gives him a hum and nod in response. Luhan actually facepalms when he rounds the corner.
The venue is in the shadiest part of the south side. Luhan has his arms wrapped around himself as he walks through the neighborhoods in hopes that he’d just become invisible. The only sign that he’s made it to the right spot is the familiar van that he was in last night. Luhan sucks in a breath and tries to stop his hands from shaking. It’s hard when he knows it’s not just from the walk through the ghetto. He silently sings the songs in his head, trying to remember exactly how the pitches are and where he needs to breath.
Luhan looks up from the ground to see Minseok waving at him happily. He’s got a cigarette in one hand and a water bottle in the other. Luhan sighs, rubbing his forehead before he walks over to the other, forcing a smile through his nerves.
“Glad you found it okay. Isn’t as good as last night but hey, whatever we can get. Well,” he pauses, taking a drag of his cigarette, “whatever our manager can get.”
“Mm,” Minseok nods, blowing out the smoke that was caught in his cheeks. “He’s not around much. Mostly does stuff from the office.” He smiles, dropping the cigarette on the ground before squishing it with his shoe. “Anyways, come inside. We’re doing the sound check.”
The inside of the venue doesn’t look any better than the outside. It’s dark and the paint is coming off from the walls. The stage is nothing more than a thick piece of wood held up by blocks of cement. There’s a haze covering the whole room from the amount of cigarettes and weed being smoked. Luhan actually wheezes for a good few minutes before he somewhat gets used to it.
He sees Sehun and Chanyeol adjusting the mics on the stage. They’re dressed in more leather. Chanyeol has no shirt on and his legs are only covered by very tight leather pants. Sehun is almost the same except he’s got a loose, hole filled tank top that shows much of his sides and chest. Minseok is the only one wearing real clothes. Luhan bites at his lip when he looks down at his own outfit. It’s a simple white tee and tan pants. Well.
“Luhan!” Chanyeol smiles as he taps his drumsticks against the cymbals a few times, giving a nod towards Sehun before beginning to drum. Sehun strums along on the guitar, nodding his head to the beat.
“Go to your mic and test it out,” Minseok says as he pushes Luhan up on the stage, almost making him fall.
Luhan’s eyes go wide as he turns to face the room. There’s already some people lingering about and his body starts to shake all over again. He looks back over at Minseok, whining as the other waves his hands and points to the mic. Luhan swallows and he’s sure the person standing all the way back at the bar could hear it if there wasn’t any music playing. His hand curls around the mic before his lips hover in front of it.
He hears who he thinks is Sehun clicking his tongue in the mic. Luhan tries his best not to frown but when Minseok pushes his way in front of him to start singing into the mic, he can’t help but let his muscles twitch his lips down. After a few lines, both Chanyeol and Sehun stop playing and Minseok pats Luhan on the back.
“That’s how you do a mic test. Actually have to sing, you know.” Luhan watches as Minseok goes over to his bass guitar, picking it up and slipping it over his shoulder. “Try it again?”
Luhan nods, biting his lip as he sees Sehun roll his eyes. Luhan faces back to the front and grips the mic in his hand, waiting for the others to start playing. It’s a little easier this time, he thinks. He isn’t as nervous. The lyrics come slowly and he stumbles a bit but he gets through rather well. At one point he sees Chanyeol grinning when he turns around to see if he’s doing a good job or not. Chanyeol gives him a nod and a quick thumbs up before continuing.
“That was so good!” Minseok says as he wraps his arms around Luhan when the song is finished. “We’re going to kill it tonight!”
Luhan laughs softly, nodding a bit when Sehun pats him on the shoulder. “You did good. Just don’t look back so much.”
He nods, making a mental note of it before blinking and looking up at the three in front of him. “Where’s Baekhyun? I knew I was singing for him but.. isn’t he coming to at least watch?”
“He’s sleeping in the van,” Sehun says as he pulls out a cigarette from the box in his pocket. “Had a bit too much fun this morning.” His lips curl into a grin as he lights up the cigarette.
“More like he threw a fit because he wasn’t singing tonight,” Chanyeol mumbles as he jumps off the stage and stretches his arms out. “You guys wanna have a beer real quick before we go on?”
Sehun and Minseok nod in approval as they set their guitars down and step off the stage. All of them look at Luhan. He sucks in a breath and smiles, stepping off the stage and following them outside.
Singing came a lot easier with three beers running through his system. He smiles constantly and he finds out he talks a lot when he’s tipsy. The words won’t stop flowing out of his mouth and it takes Sehun to walk up behind him and cover his mouth to get him to stop. Luhan interacts with the crowd, one larger than he expected. There’s people squished up against each other from wall to wall. Mostly teenage girls and he swears he remembers some of them from last night. He reaches down, touching their hands and at one point he actually makes it into the crowd, singing as he lets them push him above all the people.
Despite being a new singer and Baekhyun not being there, they love him. Maybe it’s because he’s taken his shirt off because the heat is unbearable. Maybe it’s because Minseok drew heavy eyeliner along his eyes and Sehun patted his cheeks with a light bit of BB cream that made him glow. He somewhat hoped it was because he can sing but he’s pretty sure most of the fans are hormone driven girls that only care about the looks. And yeah, Luhan was pretty fucking hot right now.
Halfway through the set, the reality sets in and Luhan can’t stop grinning. This was his dream. Maybe it wasn’t making his own cute pop songs that had simple keyboard chords. It was a little dirtier and sexier than what he thought his image was but he was loving it. Music was always his passion and it was painful to go sit in his office every day and do paperwork and make copies that were useless. He’d constantly have song ideas running through his head. Songs and beats taking over his thoughts the whole day. And right now, he was living the imaginations of being in front of people that love him.
“I would like to just thank you guys for being so awesome!” Luhan shouts into the mic, his words slurring at the end. He laughs and leans against the stand, smiling as he waves out to the screaming fans. “I work probably the shittest job in the planet. Over at Zhang CO. Let me tell you,” he says as he laughs, shaking his head. “I fucking sit there and make copies all day and the boss is a fucking stoner.”
“Lu,” Sehun says as he taps on his shoulder. “I think it’s time to stop.”
“He constantly is on my ass about not doing his shitty work. Well guess what? Fuck you!” Luhan sticks up his middle fingers and the crowd cheers loudly.
A clipboard gets hit on the back of Luhan’s head, hard. He jolts awake, eyes opening and blinking rapidly as he tries to get the room into focus. The first thing he sees is Jongin staring at him with the meanest glare he thinks he’s ever seen.
“Guess you haven’t heard the rumors since you’ve been sleeping all morning.”
Luhan sighs, running his hand through his hair. There’s still a thick coat of sweat that’s still lingering in his hair. He still has smudged eyeliner underneath his eyes that make his dark marks even darker. He’s pretty sure it’s him that smells like a combination of alcohol, cigarettes, weed, sweat, and a bit of Sehun’s cologne. Luhan rubs his eyes, yawning as he shakes his head.
Jongin hits him again with the clipboard, this time on his shoulder. “You idiot. Did you really think Yixing wouldn’t hear about it?”
Both Luhan and Jongin turn to look at the person screaming his name. Luhan gulps, standing up as he watches his boss come walking through the room full of cubicles. Jongin whispers a good luck before running off to his own little box on the other side of the room. Luhan whines, trying to keep calm and breathe because what the hell did he do?
“I hope you have a really good explanation for this.”
Luhan squints as Yixing holds up his phone and presses play on a video. He feels his stomach drop and he thinks he’s going to faint as he watches himself on stage in a shaky fan video.
“Oh my god,” he whispers as he hears himself verbally trash talk the man holding his phone in front of him right now. His boss. “Uh, listen,” he laughs softly as he look up at Yixing. “It wasn’t serious or anything, really. I wasn’t even talking about you, I was...talking about Jongin!” Luhan can hear Jongin yell at him from the other side of the room, ‘Don’t you dare drag me into this!’ And it’s more than obvious that Yixing isn’t buying any of the excuses. He swallows and bites at his lip. “Sorry?”
Yixing leans forward, grabbing Luhan’s tie as he tugs him closer, foreheads almost touching. “You’re fired and you have ten goddamn minutes to get your shit out of this building and away from my company.”
As soon as he steps out of the building, he realizes that he left his wallet at home and the only cash he has is a ripped dollar bill and a penny. Luhan holds the box full of his belongings close to his chest as he rubs at his face with one hand. He groans out loudly, head leaning back and eyes closing.
“Fuck my life, seriously.” He mumbles.
The walk home isn’t fun. He’s in long pants and a long button up shirt and it’s hot and he’s fucking miserable. There’s alcohol still running through his system and he’s almost positive he’s still at least a little bit high. Luhan thinks about calling Jongin and asking him to come run him some money for the bus or even get a ride home during his lunch break. But he knows that Jongin probably wouldn’t even pick up if he tried calling.
Luhan jumps when he hears a loud car horn from behind him. His arms grip the box and he holds it against his chest so tightly, it hurts. He sighs as he sees that stupid van pulling up next to him. It’s really the last thing he wants to see right now.
“Hey,” Sehun says as he hangs his head out the window.
Luhan scrunches his nose up, shaking his head. He can see Chanyeol in the driver’s seat and if he wasn’t so tired and he didn’t have a heavy box in his hands, he would start running. He tries to walk a little faster but the van keeps up with him, Sehun’s eyes watching him the whole time.
“Go away,” he says, turning his head only to glare at the other before quickly turning his eyes back in front of him.
“You look like you need a ride,” Sehun sings as he holds his arm out, wiggling his fingers.
“I don’t need anything so just fuck off.”
“Woah,” the other laughs, “someone’s grumpy.”
At that, Luhan stops. He stops and drops the box on the ground, not really caring if anything inside breaks or not. He turns to look at Sehun, watching the van stop in front of him. Luhan crosses his arms and glares hard at the other. “Because of you I got fired. Someone took a video of what I said last night and it fucking got around the office and my boss saw and you never would have guessed his reaction.”
Sehun scoffs, arms crossing on the side of the car. “Don’t blame your actions on me. I didn’t do shit. I told you to stop but you just kept going.”
“You got me drunk!” He stops his foot and whines loudly, biting his lip as he pushes his hair back.
“No I didn’t, what the fuck are you talking about? You came out with us and had a beer. You were the one that wanted two more after that. All of us only had one and none of us told you to have the other two.”
Luhan covers his face, screaming into his hands as he kneels down on the ground. His life really couldn’t get any worse. Not only did he get fired from his job but now he was all over the internet looking fucked up and stupid. He rubs his face, wiping away the tears that have fallen from his eyelids.
“Are you seriously crying right now?” Sehun’s voice is a lot closer and when Luhan opens his eyes he’s met with Sehun’s black shoes in front of him. He looks up and sees Sehun looking down at him, arms crossed and teeth digging into his bottom lip. “Didn’t you hate your job? I mean, clearly since the way you bashed your boss,” he says quietly, shaking his head. “You should be happy.”
“I’m not fucking happy you stupid fuck face! I don’t have a job now! As sucky as it may have been, it was money and I really need that money right now.”
Sehun doesn’t say anything for a while and it only makes Luhan madder. He hits at Sehun’s legs until his hands begin to hurt. It takes him a few minutes to get a hold of himself and when he does he stands up and collects his box, holding it against his chest.
“Good now?” Sehun says, patting Luhan’s shoulder.
Luhan clicks his tongue and pushes Sehun’s hand off of him. “What are you even doing here? Shouldn’t you be heading to your next state or whatever?”
The taller one sighs and leans his head back, rolling it slowly before flicking Luhan’s forehead. “Baekhyun quit.”
Luhan blinks, biting his lip as he looks up at Sehun. “Why? I thought he really loved singing...at least, that’s what he told me.”
“Yeah, well, Baekhyun’s just been having trouble lately and he wants to spend some time away from the band.” Sehun nods, poking Luhan’s chest. “That’s where you come in.”
“You,” Luhan tilts his head, lips parting, “really? No,” he laughs and shakes his head, holding the box against his chest tighter. “I can’t take his place.”
“Come on, the crowd loved you.” Sehun says with a grin. “Besides, you said it’s what you’ve always dreamed of doing, right? You’ll be great. You’re already a star after last night, you know.”
Luhan looks at Sehun. He looks at Chanyeol who’s tapping his fingers against the steering wheel. Then he sees Minseok’s head poking out from the back seats and the other smiles and waves at him with a grin. Luhan looks back at Sehun who is now smiling at him and licking his lips. Luhan sighs and presses his lips together in a gentle pout before parting them.
“Fine, I’m in.”
Instead of going to another venue or even back to the hotel, Chanyeol tells him that they’re going to the heart of New York City to work on their next album. Luhan’s seated in the back, suitcases and bags of clothes pressed up against him on one side and Sehun on the other. He was hoping to sit next to Minseok but Sehun had insisted that he be the one to sit next to him.
An hour into the trip and Luhan thinks about his roommate. How was he going to tell him that he got fired from his job after being picked up by some random rock band full of hot guys who made him sing with them and now he’s going to New York to record an album with them? Even thinking about it made him exhausted. Not only that but he didn’t have any of his things. No clothes or even his favorite bunny stuffed animal that he sleeps with. Chanyeol reassures him that they can buy him all new clothes, ones that fit the band’s image.
In that same hour, Jongin texts him and asks how he’s doing. It takes Luhan a few minutes to think of what to tell him. Should he tell him where he’s going? Or maybe that he’s sorry and that hopefully he can come back one day because Jongin was his best friend and he’s really going to miss him. Five minutes of staring at his phone and Sehun asking if he was okay led him to the simple ‘I’m okay’ answer. He shoves his phone in the box full of his things and concentrates on the road.
“Do you want some,” Sehun asks as he holds out a neatly wrapped blunt.
Luhan parts his lips and nods, grabbing the blunt from Sehun’s thin fingers. He puts it in his mouth and Sehun lights it for him, grinning as Luhan takes his first drag. He coughs a few times and suddenly Luhan feels likes he’s nineteen again and it makes him burst out laughing.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” he says after a few more long drags. “This is like a movie or some shit. I never thought I’d get to be doing this.” Luhan sighs with a laugh, handing Sehun the blunt back, “I’m going to be singing in front of thousands of people and recording songs and shit. I literally have wanted this for my entire life.” Luhan smiles, biting at his lip as he pushes his hair back. “And I’m doing it with a bunch of hot guys.”
Sehun starts laughing, hard. He leans against Luhan, head pressing against his shoulder. Luhan hears Minseok begin to laugh too. He thinks Chanyeol is laughing but Sehun laughing in his ear drowns everything out.
When they enter New York, Luhan’s fast asleep. His cheek is pressed against Sehun’s shoulder, lips parted and small breaths coming between them. Sehun’s arm is wrapped around his waist, holding him up so he doesn’t fall as they drive.
They stop at a gas station in the middle of no where. Sehun gently shakes Luhan awake and they both slide out of the car with sleepy eyes and limp muscles.
“I don’t think there’s a bathroom so,” Chanyeol’s says with a laugh. “We’ll take turns using the tree over there.” He nods as he unscrews the cap on the side of the car. “You two go first so you can go back to sleep.”
Luhan leans against the tree as he unzips his pants. He rubs his eyes slowly, watching as Sehun moves up next to him. He blushes before tilting his head, not wanting to look at Sehun while they use the bathroom. It only takes them a few minutes and then Luhan crawls back in the van, laying down along the seats, leaving enough room for Sehun when he comes back.
The next time he wakes up is when Chanyeol opens the door and shakes his leg. Luhan rubs his eyes, blinking when all he can see is black and he can smell Sehun’s cologne a little too much. He pushes himself off of the other’s lap and runs his hand through his hair, eyes looking over at Chanyeol.
His voice gets drowned out by the obnoxious sounds of cars driving past. There’s heavy traffic all around them and there’s people shouting and he can vaguely hear the sounds of advertisements through speakers. Luhan blinks, stepping out of the car and into the thick air of New York City.
There’s neon signs everywhere. Big TV’s showing the latest news on the sides of buildings. There’s shops and fast food lining the sides that are filled to the brim with people. Luhan can’t help but have his lips part and then curl up in excitement. He turns his attention to Chanyeol as he tosses the keys at a man in a suit. He bows and tells him that they’ll come get their things later.
“Ever been to New York before?” Minseok asks as he steps out of the van, a bright smile on his face.
Luhan shakes his head. It had always been on his list of things to do but money was always an issue. “Never,” he says with an open mouth and bright eyes. “It’s so beautiful.”
He almost couldn’t believe he was actually in New York City. Along with Hollywood, it was the place to be someone. It was a place to be someone but also the place to be if you were someone. Maybe Luhan was just a tiny start of someone but he was sort of a celebrity. At least he knew he was going to become one.
“We’ll go out tonight,” Chanyeol says as he grins. “Let’s go get washed up in our room first.”
The hotel room was nothing short of stunning. Top floor penthouse with multiple rooms and even a hot tub out on a balcony. Luhan doesn’t think he’s ever been in such a place so nice before. It made him scared to touch everything, mostly because it all was either made of glass or marble. The couches in the middle are a thick black leather that he melted into when he sat down. The fridge was stocked with drinks, both alcoholic and not, frozen foods, even fruit. Luhan wasn’t sure if rockstars ever ate fruit but he did.
He probably looks like a child in a toy shop when he runs into one of the bedrooms. There’s a big king sized bed with what looks like a dozen pillows and a blanket he almost gets sucked into because of the softness. There’s a large glass window overlooking the city and Luhan just knows it’s going to be amazing at night. The bathroom doesn’t disappoint either. There’s a large open shower that looks like it could hold a few people, kind of like those ones on America’s Next Top Model, and yes, Luhan does actively watch it. He messes with the nozzle on the shower until the water comes pouring down from above. He squeals and laughs, jumping out of the way, careful not to slip. It was amazing, it really was.
Luhan gets a shower to himself. The other three go into the second bathroom to shower together. Chanyeol had mentioned they all shower at once but Luhan had blushed and whispered that he’d be more comfortable showering alone. Like they had before, they accepted his request with smiles. He was glad they never tried to push him to do anything he didn’t want to. It wouldn’t be a lie if he had thought the group would be rough and cold, a stupid stereotype he had developed of rock stars. Yet they were much different.
When he walks into the bedroom connected to the bathroom, he sees his box of things set next to the bed along with several suitcases and bags. He tilts his head to see Sehun hanging up his clothes in the closet. Ah, he thinks, Sehun must want to share a room. He suddenly felt a little embarrassed in just the towel wrapped around his body. He sucks in a breath, going back into the bathroom to grab the clothes he had on before.
As he tugs his underwear on, Sehun looks at him, nose scrunching up. “Don’t wear your work clothes again,” he says as he points to the clothes on the floor next to Luhan’s feet.
“I-” he pauses before pouting. “I didn’t get a chance to grab any of my clothes so...”
Sehun sighs as he pushes clothes around in the closet, licking his lips before shaking his head. “I’m probably too tall but ask Minseok to borrow some clothes. We’ll go get you some later.”
The clothes Minseok gives him are a simple pair of ripped jeans and a white tee. It’s much better than he feared. Thinking that he was going to have to strut around in skin tight leather pants. He wasn’t quiteb ready for that yet. Minseok also does his hair, pushing his bangs to the side and up, resembling Sehun’s hairstyle. It makes him wonder if Minseok is the one that does Sehun’s hair. It makes him chuckle to himself at the thought.
They leave the apartment at just after eight. The sun is still barely lighting up the sky, the lights and colors of New York City attempting to push it away and let darkness take over. The first thing they do is go to a local burger shop and eat. A group of teenage girls crowd them while they’re midway through eating and demand pictures and autographs. The other three happily oblige but Luhan is left out, the girls not seeming to know who he was. Chanyeol makes sure to mention to check Luhan out now that he’s the new vocalist though. Luhan’s thankful and the girls seem to be excited, asking him suddenly for his picture and autograph. It’s a tiny taste of what’s to come and Luhan’s smile doesn’t stop until they go into a clothing store.
Chanyeol picks out most of the clothing for Luhan. Some are brightly colored jeans and shirts and others are solid black and punk rock looking. With several bags of clothes in their hands, some Luhan’s and some the other three’s, they make their way over to the check out. Luhan quickly finds out that they use their manager’s credit card.
“He’s fucking rich as hell,” Sehun says as he stacks the clothes on the check out counter. “This isn’t even his own card, it’s the one he uses for us.”
The price on the cash register makes his heart almost stop but Minseok ensures him that they have plenty of money. It still makes him feel bad about spending so much money, especially someone else’s money, that someone else being a person he hasn’t even met yet.
Chanyeol parts ways with the group when they exit the store, mentioning he has to go meet a friend. Minseok, Sehun, and Luhan walk back to the hotel together. Sehun stays close to Luhan, occasionally wrapping his arm around him when the crowd gets a little too much. By the time they get on the elevator, Luhan realizes that perhaps Sehun fancies him a bit more than normal.
Luhan wakes in the middle of the night to pee. He yawns, rubbing his eyes as he slides out of the bed. He can vaguely see the outline of Sehun’s head pressed against the pillow when he closes the bathroom door. It takes him a bit too long to use the bathroom, the sleep overpowering him. He almost tips over several times and has to grip onto the towel rack next to the toilet.
He’s only slightly more awake when he walks out into the living room, headed for the kitchen in search of some water. He only gets to the large window in front of the couches though. The view is stunning. Lights twinkling everywhere, acting as the stars that can’t be seen in the sky. He stands in front of the window, watching the way the streets are still just as crowded as they were earlier. There’s people walking in large groups and he watches as they walk across the street in unison. A pair of cop cars zoom past, not stopping for the light that stops everyone else. It’s the hustle that Luhan’s always read about and seen on tv.
It hits him when he sucks in a breath and lets it out slowly. This is really fucking happening and it’s really fucking amazing.
They start at eight in the morning when someone loud makes their way through the apartment.
“Wake up fuckers! You’ve got an album to record!”
There are hands clapping and some shouting that goes along with it. Luhan rubs his eyes at the loud noise, scrunching his nose up as he sits up in the bed. Sehun mutters a ‘shut the fuck up’ before tossing the pillow on his head. Luhan pushes his hair back, sliding out of bed, not caring that he’s in Sehun’s oversized pajama pants that hang far too low; it was really cold in the room and they were really warm.
When he gets out into the main room, he sees Chanyeol. His arm is wrapped around a much shorter man’s neck. Luhan blinks and as he blinks, Minseok comes running out and pries Chanyeol off the other man.
“Must you two go at it so early in the morning,” Minseok mumbles as he walks into the kitchen.
Luhan stands with his lips parted, unsure of what is actually happening and who that man is.
Chanyeol sighs and shakes his head. “Whatever. I’ll be ready in a bit,” he says, strutting towards the bathroom. “And this is Luhan by the way. The one I told you about.”
“I’m Kyungsoo,” the other says, holding his hand out despite Luhan being several feet away. “I do all the recording.”
Luhan nods duly, shaking Kyungsoo’s hand before being gently pushed to the side by Sehun coming out of the bedroom.
“Why is it that every time we record an album, you have to be here at the crack of dawn? We’re goddamn rock stars.” Sehun mumbles, grabbing his pack of cigarettes and pulling one out. “That means sleeping in until four in the afternoon.” Sehun lights up the cigarette in his mouth, taking a long drag before pushing it out between his lips, sleep still heavy in his glare.
“Fine,” Kyungsoo sighs, pushing his hair back. “I’m going to get you guys breakfast but by the time I get back, you better be ready to work.” He points his finger out, turning to each of them before nodding. “No complaints.”
They all hum in agreement and Luhan nods quickly, biting at his bottom lip as he watches the smaller man make his way out of the room. Luhan makes himself comfortable on the couch, legs crossed and eyes moving back and forth between the large window and Sehun and Minseok in the kitchen.
Chanyeol comes walking out of the bedroom, palms closed and at his side. He doesn’t even acknowledge Luhan seated on the couch and goes straight to Minseok and Sehun. The other two perk up and Luhan can see Sehun’s grin when Chanyeol tosses him a very small bag. He tries his best not to look like he’s watching their every move. He’s just curious. Luhan slides off the couch and makes his way to the kitchen, headed for the fridge to get a water bottle.
He sees lines of white contrasting against the black marble of the counter. Minseok’s now leaned over and has one finger pressed against one side of his nose. Luhan blinks and quickly shoves his head in the fridge when Chanyeol looks over at him. He hears the other one laugh before hearing his deep voice.
“Kind of a tradition. Keeps us calm and helps us focus.”
Now Luhan’s turned around and staring at the powder on the counter, watching as Sehun repeats the same action as Minseok. The tall one stands up straight, tipping his head back and coughing softly before wiping at his nose.
“I have extra if you wanna try it.”
Luhan shakes his head, smiling softly. “I’ll just have a blunt if you have any more.”
Luhan doesn’t really know what to expect. After they eat breakfast, all of them pile into a new van that belongs to Kyungsoo. Luckily, Kyungsoo is the one driving and not any of them. Minseok is laughing to himself for a good while and Chanyeol keeps telling him to be quiet from the front. Sehun’s seated next to Luhan like usual. His head is leaned back and legs stretched out as far as they’ll go before hitting the seat in front of him. Every now and then Luhan catches the other staring at him with hooded eyes. He’s sure if he wasn’t high, his face would be bright red and he’d try and curl into a ball.
Like everything else, the studio is big. It has several different rooms and even a kitchen. There’s a bed in one room and Kyungsoo tells him it’s because sometimes nights are really long when recording and they take turns sleeping. Right after, Luhan asks if it’s normal for them to be so drugged out when recording. The other laughs and leans in, face way too close to Luhan’s.
“It’s what they do. They may look all tough and rough but they’re just like you: nervous. They’re not afraid to make mistakes when they’re like this. They just go for it.”
And they do. The energy that they have in the little booth is incredible. Luhan may not be an expert on hard drugs and he’s always heard they make your body almost lifeless, mostly from his parents who would tell him everyday to stay away from drugs, but it was much, much different. It helped Luhan too. His own mind was a little blissed out and with the energy around him, it made him feel like he was floating.
There isn’t a clock and time goes by unkept. Luhan doesn’t know how many times they’ve recorded one song, but after what seems like hours, it’s finally good enough. They take a break, a much needed one. All of them split ways, Luhan going into the bedroom to lay down for a minute. It’s only a minute or two before the door is opening and Luhan fears it’s Kyungsoo telling him to come back and record some more.
Sehun is the one that comes strutting in, rolled blunt between his fingers and a grin on his lips. “You look like you need another one.”
Luhan nods. He doesn’t but if it means Sehun will come into the room more, he’ll take it. Luhan would like to blame it on multiple things. One, he’s still high. Two, the stress from recording one song for who knows how many hours. And three, because Sehun’s really fucking hot.
The taller one slides on the bed next to Luhan. Instead of the usual tight clothes and shiny leather, Sehun is just in a pair of sweats and a tank top. It’s different and he can’t help but stare since he’s never seen the other in anything casual.
Sehun seems to take notice and lets out a gentle laugh. “What?”
Luhan shakes his head and bumps his head against Sehun’s arm, laughing along with him. “You’re really fucking hot, Sehun.”
He hears a click of a lighter and then feels Sehun’s chest expand. He peeks up to see Sehun taking a long drag of the blunt. Luhan parts his lips as Sehun’s fingers grab at his chin, keeping his lips open as he leans in. It isn’t a kiss, but Sehun blows the smoke into Luhan’s mouth, making his body shudder and his fingers curl around Sehun’s arm. He does it again, this time pressing their lips together before letting the smoke go.
Sehun’s lips are soft and plump and a little too wet, most likely from all the times he licks his lips. Luhan can’t help the small noise that comes from the back of his throat. His arms wrap around Sehun’s neck, pulling him down. Sehun keeps one hand up, holding the blunt up, not wanting it to be messed up.
“Here,” Sehun says as he pulls away, lips a little more shinier. “Finish up.”
The blunt is handed to Luhan and Sehun slides off the bed. The taller one walks out of the room and Luhan curls his toes against the blanket.