Pairing(s): Sehun / Lu Han
Genre: Romance, Hurt / Comfort, High School!AU,
Length: 13,000~ words
Warning(s): Language, Illness.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the story. I write fiction not reality. Hetalia characters belong to Hidekaz Himaruya.
A CADENZA OF FLOWERS
The audience breaks into a chorus of thunderous applause as Lu Han bows that last note on the string of his violin. The vibrato ends beautifully to his own personal satisfaction and he can’t help but smile to himself as he takes a deep breath, puts his violin off his chin, and gets a full view of the audience.
It’s always breathtaking, the view. Of people in different colors and voices melding into one, all singing praises to him. He never wants it to end, to be honest, but of course at the end of the day he has to take his bow and the curtain has to be closed, leaving him with only his erratic heartbeats and the warm feeling of adrenaline and blood rushing through his veins.
Lu Han gets back to the backstage quietly, nodding and bowing politely to the staffs and colleagues. He settles his precious violin down in its case in his waiting room and takes a look at the bouquets of flowers addressed to him. A crowd of yellow flowers tied as one in a beautiful bouquet immediately steals his attention in among a variant of red, pink, and white roses; a small, baby blue envelope with a matching colored card inside attached conveniently on the paper wrapper.
Lu Han smiles to himself as he takes the cheerful-looking bouquet. He opens the envelope carefully, afraid of him accidentally tearing the fragile paper, takes out the card inside and begins reading the words written in a neat writing. It is the nth bouquet; Lu Han doesn’t remember exactly when he first started getting the sunflowers bouquets at the end of his performances. Maybe it’s a year or so ago and although he may not remember the date, he does remember the words written on the card.
The first were a neat and simple dear apollo.
The day Lu Han first talks to Sehun is just another day at school.
The weather is nice outside, as nice as the spring weather can get. Lu Han has been nursing a headache from school and other stuffs lately, and one of the things he’d like to do the most right now is just to sit down and enjoy the cool, calming spring breeze. Now that he thinks about it, when was the last time he let himself relax? It must have been quite a while ago, since he cannot recall and what he does recall is that he has a scheduled violin practice after school. It’s just like any other day, really, but today — after a long, long time, he doesn’t feel like doing it. Slacking off a day wouldn’t cost him much, would it?
After pondering for a while, he finally decides to come up to the school’s rooftop after school instead of straightly going home. No one really goes there except for the cleaning service people, as far as he knows, for most of the students prefer to either go home or attend to their club activities after school. A perfect place for quick getaway, he supposes. He has been getting headaches nowadays. Sometimes they are so persistent that Lu Han has to stop anything he’s doing and simply sits down until the pain disappears. With that in mind, he makes a mental note to go see a doctor to talk about it. A competition is coming up and he can’t afford being attacked by those random headaches for he’s sure it will interfere his carefully-scheduled practice and potentially ruin his chance coming first in the competition.
The rooftop is empty when he gets there and he secretly feels relieved by that. He doesn’t really want to meet or talk to anyone right now. He needs some time alone, simply doing nothing. He takes a seat on a bench near the railing, drops his backpack aside, and looks up. The sky is already a bit darker shade of orange, clouds floating freely, warm sunlight friendly enough for his eyes to look up without squinting. He takes a deep breath. The air is nice up here. Maybe he should come here more often.
After a moment he gets to his feet and walks towards the chest-high railing. He wryly thinks he can easily jump off from here if he wants to. Maybe the school has never thought someone would actually do it and never bothered to raise the bar higher. Sighing, he lets his gaze fall to the ground.
There are some students below, chattering away as they walk towards the entrance gate to go home. Some may be going to dates or simply hang out with their friends. Out of the blue, he feels a pang of jealousy well up in his chest. He doesn’t really have any friends at school, save for some of the guys from the school’s music club which he’s a member of. It’s not that he’s anti-social, God no, he’d like to think that he’s social enough. Not more not less, just enough. It’s just that no one really tries to get to know him well because of who he is and at time like this he can’t help but feeling lonely.
He wonders that maybe people that had jumped off of buildings didn’t actually want to jump at first. Maybe it’s the thoughts that came to them when they’re standing on the edge like this, just like him now, the feeling of loneliness and helplessness engulfing them and fogging their minds; and then in that split second they decided to go with a bang. Jumping off of a building guarantees at least one section in the newspaper the next day and plus you do get to try to defy gravity before you inevitably hit the ground. Lu Han starts to think maybe it’s not so bad after all. He’s always wanted to try to fly — well, don’t we all? It’s always been one of human’s greatest desires, to fly. And if he jumps right now, it would be no doubt that people are going to talk about it for a long while. He is Lu Han after all. Maybe if he just leans closer and reaches out his hand a little bit —
“What do you think you’re doing?!”
The next thing Lu Han knows, he’s being pulled back by something — someone — and nearly loses his balance.
“Were you going to jump off? Are you out of your mind?!”
Lu Han blinks and a taller guy in the uniform identical to his fills his vision, a backpack slung on one shoulder. He stares at the guy, puzzled. “I wasn’t going to jump,” he mutters after he’s overcome the initial shock and lets his gaze falls on his wrist. “Now if you would kindly release my hand, that’d be wonderful.”
The guy doesn’t look convinced but releases Lu Han’s wrist anyway, a frown making its way on the taller’s face. “What were you doing?” He demands.
Lu Han shrugs, trying to look and sound nonchalant. “I just wanted to get a clearer view of the ground.”
A pause. “That’s weird,” the guy says finally and when Lu Han says nothing in response, he elaborates: “Most people usually want to get a clearer view of the sky, not the ground.”
“Well, I guess I’m not most people.” Lu Han says simply, feeling a little bit upset, and walks back to the vacant bench and sits. He aims his gaze at the sky, hoping that the guy will get the message that he doesn’t want to talk to the other and just leave him alone, but instead the guy goes on sitting beside him, putting his backpack aside, and stares at him. Lu Han can feel his cheeks burn but wills himself to not look back at the other male. After a full minute, as if something important has finally dawned on him, the guy says, “You’re Lu Han.”
Lu Han averts his gaze to him. “Excuse me?”
The guy is wearing an expression Lu Han cannot decipher, eyes still fixed on him, and says the next words with a neutral tone. “You’re Lu Han. The violinist.”
“Well, yes...” Lu Han trails off. “That’s me.”
The guy whistles and, to Lu Han’s surprise, smiles sheepishly. He has a nice smile. “I guess I was wrong about you wanting to jump off, sorry about that.”
Lu Han arches an eyebrow. “You guess?”
“Well you’re Lu Han. Why would you want to, you know, jump off.” The guy shrugs and shifts his gaze to the sky.
Lu Han knits his eyebrows and actually takes a good look on the other this time. He looks quite familiar, now that Lu Han properly sees him. His hair is jet-black in color, not entirely disheveled but not something Lu Han would say neat either. He has a lean figure and his skin is rather pale. The guy is, by Lu Han’s standard, attractively handsome. He mentally scolds himself and shakes the thought away. He blinks. “You’re Oh Sehun,” Lu Han realizes out loud. “The school’s star track runner…” He trails off, suddenly feeling hesitant. “Aren’t you?”
The guy chuckles, eyes not tearing away from the sky. “You know me.” Sehun says, a hint of surprise in his voice.
“Who doesn’t,” Lu Han blurts out and quickly shuts his mouth when Sehun looks at him questioningly. Lu Han clears his throat. “Anyway yes, I do know you, although I believe it’s the first time we’re talking to each other.”
Sehun gives him a toothy smile and casually extends his hand. “Oh Sehun, just the school’s ordinary track runner. You said I was a star track runner and if you put it that way I should’ve called you the galactic violinist,” he grins. “Nice to be finally talking to you, Lu Han.”
Lu Han blushes. “Lu Han,” he simply mutters, shaking Sehun’s hand hesitantly and pulls his own away shortly. “What are you doing here?”
“I come here often, to relax and stuff.” He shrugs and eyes Lu Han curiously. “It’s the first time I ever see anyone else up here at this hour, though… The others usually rush home or enganged in club activites. What are you doing here anyway? Simply planning to enjoy watching the ground by yourself?” He asks, a teasing tone in his voice. “I didn’t know the ground... fascinates you that much.”
Lu Han feels his cheeks burn. “Oh, shut up.”
Sehun flashes him an amused smile. “It’s cool, really. I think watching the sky is just too mainstream these days — I swear it’s in every manga I see Kyungsoo reads. I mean, surely the ground wants the attention too once in a while, don’t you think? Not every day, just once in a while. I bet it’s very lonely, being stepped on everyday with no one actually paying some attention to it. Where’s our respect, seriously. We’re supposed to be, like, civilized and stuff, aren’t we?”
Lu Han blinks. What? “Um,” he decides to say after the initial daze of realizing that the guy he’s just met had just talked to him about the ground deserving some attention. And respect. “You think the ground deserves some attention. And respect?” He tries to confirm.
Sehun smiles, his eyes shaping a pair of crescent moons. “Yeah! Don’t you think so, too?” He says cheerfully as he reaches for his backpack and starts rummaging into it.
“Um, yeah.” Lu Han shrugs, eyes watching the other male with interest. “Sure. I guess.”
Sehun produces two small cartons of strawberry milk from inside his backpack soon after and offers Lu Han one. “Top grade strawberry milk with 8gr fat, very delicious and healthy!” He says eagerly, his eyes encouraging. Lu Han takes the small carton tentatively and mumbles his thanks. He takes a glance at what’s written on the pink carton. Top grade strawberry milk with 8gr fat is written on it. He smiles slightly, amused, before sticking the straw to sip the liquid demurely.
Sehun sips his own and lets out a contented sigh, as if he’s just drunk the most delicious thing in the world. He eventually shifts his focus across the bench. “One of these days I think I’d grace your ground view with myself running around, if you bother to come to look from the other side,” he points his chin to the part across from them. Below that part is the school’s sports field. “A competition’s coming up. I really need to start training immediately,” he scratches the back of his neck awkwardly, his expression is as if he’s feeling guilty about something.
“Me too,” Lu Han says suddenly after a pause. Sehun raises his eyebrows. “I also have a competition coming up soon,” Lu Han explains. Sehun is about to open his mouth when Lu Han’s phone rings. It is, to Sehun’s amusement, TVXQ!’s latest single. Lu Han hurriedly fishes his phone out of his pants’ pocket and accepts the call without bothering to look at the caller’s, heat creeping under his cheeks. “He, hello?” He stutters and pointedly looks away from a grinning Sehun. Lu Han immediately switches to Chinese as soon he knows who the caller is.
Lu Han ends the call with a huff a minute later. He wordlessly picks up his bag and slings it over a shoulder, gets to his feet and turns back to Sehun. Sehun is staring at him with that unreadable expression again. It kind of makes Lu Han want to tugs the corners of the other’s lips upward so he can see Sehun’s smile again. Sehun really does have a nice smile. But of course, it’s their first meeting and it would be simply creepy and awkward for him to do so, so instead Lu Han says, “I have to go home now. Practice’s waiting,” he smiles, a little bit strained, because in all honesty he’d like to stay a little bit more. Sehun seems like a good person, albeit a little bit weird for his standard (but then again he’s friends with Yixing), and he finds himself wanting to get know the other male better. Maybe they can even be friends at the end of their conversation.
“Off you go, then,” Sehun says, a small smile on his lips. “Good luck on your competition.”
Lu Han nods but doesn’t make any move to leave. He bites his lower lip, gaze on the ground. He wants to say something, anything, perhaps a I’ll see you again? or maybe it’s actually nice to be talking to you, can we be friends? Screw it, a simple thank you or bye would do. He really wants to see and talk to Sehun again, but he doesn’t want to sound too hopeful (he’s not that desperate, mind you), and it’s been awhile since he has made any friends —
“I’ll see you again?”
Lu Han looks up and finds Sehun smiling warmly at him. It sounds hopeful to Lu Han’s ears, but most likely it’s just his own wistful thinking. Lu Han clears his throat. “Yes. Of course.” He finally manages to mutter and nods awkwardly to the other male before turning on his heels to leave.
When he’s sure Sehun can’t see him anymore, he runs.
Lu Han is an eighteen year-old international champion violinist. He has been playing the bowed instrument since he was four and won his first competition at the age of eight. It started off as his mother’s obsession on violin playing, which she didn’t manage to do in her youth. She sent Lu Han to violin classes as soon as he’s allowed to and turns out Lu Han is good at it, well more than good, and he came to love the instrument after the earlier struggles of how to hold the violin and the bow properly, how to produce the right notes, etcetera. It takes time and dedication, and Lu Han is more than willing to give it.
His family decided to move to Seoul when he was in the middle school to expand his father’s business. Moving to another country doesn’t stop him to continue playing and entering competitions. He has more wins than loses and since the age of fifteen he’s been honored to be a guest player at the renowned Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra quite a few times. He’s now a celebrated violinist in the country and in his own homeland. He has earned a generous amount of fortune over the years and although he’s no pop star, he is adored by many. At the age of eighteen, Lu Han has more than everything he has ever dreamt of.
Sehun is, as far as Lu Han knows, a national champion track runner. Sehun is in the same year as him but belongs to a different class, despite him being a year younger than Lu Han. Rumor has it that he’s going to represent the country in the next Olympics, so although Lu Han may not know about sports much, Sehun must be an excellent runner. Sehun is one of the popular kids at school and he is good at being popular. He’s always friendly to everyone, his grades are good, he’s good at sports, he’s good looking — who can possibly hate him?
Unlike a particular violinist, Sehun has plenty of friends. He’s always seen hanging out with his mates, especially one particular guy named Kim Jongin — the school’s arguably best dancer. From what he’s heard, they’ve been close since childhood. Maybe that’s why seeing Sehun, of all people, alone on the rooftop that day is a kind of surprise. Sehun and loneliness simply don’t match.
It’s been two weeks since that fateful day on the rooftop. Lu Han hasn’t come up to the rooftop ever since. He has this complicated feeling of both wanting and not wanting to meet Sehun again at the same time, so he has decided to shake the feeling away before meeting the other boy again and he can’t say the fact that he can see the sports field where Sehun practices from the window in the music club’s room gives him any help on that matter.
When he’s not playing or the practice session is over, he finds himself unconsciously staring out the window and scans the sight to look for a glimpse of Sehun. Strangely, the sight of Sehun somehow makes the butterflies that he didn’t know exist in his stomach come into wake. It’s an alien feeling and he doesn’t know how to deal with that yet. Not knowing what to label the feeling makes him feel slightly uneasy.
From time to time, he can catch glimpses of Sehun: shirt drenched in sweat, sticking stubbornly on his flushed skin, wrapping his lean figure perfectly and ajar mouth gasping for oxygen — and Lu Han can’t help but think that even then Sehun is still attractive. He would stop and watch for a while, eyes fixed on Sehun and Sehun alone, until Sehun’s on his blindspot or someone is demanding his attention.
It is not creepy at all, what are you even talking about.
Between his breaks, Lu Han would often catch Sehun gazing up towards the rooftop before running again. It’s odd, Lu Han thinks initially, as if he’s expecting someone… and then he remembers.
Sehun couldn’t possibly looking for him, could he… ? He quickly shakes his head at the thought. That sounds ridiculous even to his own ears. They have only met once and barely hold a proper conversation, so there’s no way Sehun is looking for him.
Lu Han buries his face in his hands.
He needs to get a grip.
That particular day after school, his club mates have already gone home. There’s no sign of Sehun that day, just some random students that belong to the sports club playing around on the field.
Lu Han has just finished going through a piece for his solo practice for the upcoming school’s orchestra performance when he hears someone clapping. He starts and quickly turns around towards the door, nearly dropping his violin (which he doesn’t, thank God; the violin has costed him quite amount of money), and finds Sehun clapping with mouth slightly ajar in awe, his eyes wide like a child in an amusement park.
Lu Han takes a sharp breath, clutching at his heart. Calm down, stupid, it’s just Sehun, he mentally tells himself. He can feel his own heart beating fast. After a brief moment, Sehun has finished clapping and is now wearing a grin. Lu Han’s heart skips a beat and his next words come out breathless. “Wh— what are you doing here?”
Lu Han wonders if the color pink in Sehun’s cheeks is just his imagination. “Um, I, I was — ” the taller male stutters, as if only now remembering that he’s not supposed to be there. “I was just passing by and heard someone playing. I didn’t know it was you,” he says sheepishly, scratching at the back of his head, gaze dropped on the floor.
Lu Han blinks. “O… kay,” he says quietly and before he can’t stop himself: “aren’t you supposed to be practicing at this hour?”
He can see Sehun looks up, widened eyes now on him. “You knew?”
Lu Han bites his lower lip and hesitates. After a moment, he motions to the window. “I, um, can see you from here.”
“Oh… right.” Sehun shifts his gaze to the window. A small smile, and he averts his gaze back on the violinist. “Well, not today. I have some other stuffs to do…” then, almost like an after thought: “You haven’t been coming to the rooftop.”
Lu Han’s mind wanders to his previous thought about Sehun looking for him and he can feel heat crawling under his cheeks. He shakes his head slightly, a sad smile on his lips. “No, I haven’t. I have to practice more now for the club’s orchestra performance this weekend and of course for that upcoming competition I’ve mentioned before…”
Sehun hums. “Um, okay then. I guess I’ll get going, don’t want to disturb you any longer,” he says sheepishly and turns to leave with a small wave.
Sehun stops and turns around, eyebrows arched in question.
Lu Han fishes for something inside his back and holds it in his hand. He approaches the taller man shyly. “Are you free this weekend?”
Sehun looks surprised. “Why?”
“Will you come to our performance?” Lu Han asks, holding out a ticket that he’s fished out from his bag towards Sehun. “It’s a Tribute to Mozart night…”
Sehun simply stares at the ticket, expression unreadable. It dawns on Lu Han a moment later about the high probability of Sehun not liking music, classical music at that, and seriously who would spend their precious Saturday night watching and listening to something you don’t care about for two whole hours?
“We, well, I mean, if you don’t want to it’s okay, I completely understand, pop music is way more interesting anyway, right ha ha ha — “
“Lu Han.” Sehun says suddenly. Lu Han shuts his mouth. Sehun takes the ticket, his hand brushes with Lu Han’s in the process. Lu Han feels warmth tingling on his skin and when he looks up, Sehun’s smile is just as warm.
“I’d be glad to come,” Sehun beams. “Thank you.”
Despite Lu Han’s doubts, Sehun does come to watch the performance. The younger boy even waves at him when Lu Han and the rest of the club enter the stage. Lu Han gives him an awkward smile in return as an acknowledgement, and that’s when he notice a certain Kim Jongin sitting beside the boy. Jongin is wearing a thin, wry smile and Lu Han can easily say that he’s being dragged by Sehun to come out of his will.
The performance lasts for two whole hours. It ends with claps and whistles from the audience and while it’s not as grand as Lu Han normally receives, it still feels so good. He can see Sehun standing while he claps just before he leaves the stage. Lu Han gives him a smile and a nod before leaving, feeling satisfied.
Bouquets of flowers are already waiting for him in the waiting room, as usual, nearly covering the whole mirror. Some even on the edge to fall to the ground. He can’t help but notice the glaring difference between his spot and his other club mates’, but he knows that they’re used to it and don’t think it’s a big deal. He’s Lu Han, after all. Half of the audience, if not most, probably came just to watch him perform. He wonders if his clubmates dislike him for stealing away the attention…
“Hey, golden boy.”
Lu Han pulls out from his thoughts and turns to see Zhang Yixing, the pianist and also his best friend, grinning smugly at him. “Yixing…”
“Great perf today! Look at the flowers,” Yixing whistles as he eyes the pile of flowers. “All reds and whites. You’d think they planned this or something except, of course, those beautiful sunflowers…”
Lu Han smiles slightly. “Girls, I guess.” He’s had a lot of fangirls and most of them give him red or white roses; sometimes pink. Notes will often come with the flowers, not so little of them about love confessions written in either Chinese, Korean, English, or a horrible mix of the three. It kind of baffles him at first how someone can say they love someone when they never even talk to each other before, but with time he learns to not think too much about it and just accepts them gratefully. In the sea of reds and whites, the yellow of sunflowers really does stand out. He takes out the small baby blue card out of the envelope that came with the sunflowers and reads the sentence inside.
Thank you for the new beginning, it says this time. Lu Han arches his eyebrows in question but a smile makes its way to his lips nonetheless. He’s always liked the cards that come with the sunflowers, it’s not filled with love confessions or such, but a simple sentence at a time that Lu Han thinks hold a unique beauty and charm on its own; even though Lu Han can understand little to nothing of the truth that the sender intends to convey through those words. He always keeps the cards and puts it into a small gift box he has in his room and rereads them when he has the time.
Yixing casually takes a seat beside Lu Han’s spot and points his chin towards the flowers. “What would you do about them?”
Lu Han shrugs. “Take them home.” As per usual, he usually puts the flowers in a box (or more in quite a few occasions, especially when he performs with more audience) and when he’s not being driven home like today, he will take the box by himself. Fortunately, on smaller performances like tonight’s, he only has to take a smaller box than usual. Plus, flowers don’t weight much. Nothing he can’t handle.
“And then throw them away?”
Lu Han widens his eyes. “No, that’s rude!”
“So do you tend to them daily or something?”
“You just let them wither and die.”
Yixing whistles. “That’s actually crueler, don’t you think?” There’s a distant look in his eyes. “Giving them hope by bringing them home only to let them be and wait for their inevitable death.”
Lu Han sighs. “Well, I feel bad if I just throw them away. It’s as if I’m breaking hearts with each flower or something.”
“You let them die in the end anyway.”
“At least I don’t have to do it myself,” Lu Han murmurs.
Sehun, to his surprise, is waiting for him outside the building. Lu Han usually leaves close to the last so he doesn’t have to deal with the crowds willing to see him off-stage when he’s going home by himself. The time reads 10:10 by the time he exits the building, the fan gifts box in his arms, violin case slung carefully on his shoulders.
Sehun looks handsome with his casual outfit tonight, his hair tousled slightly by the wind. There’s no Jongin in sight, and for some unknown reason Lu Han feels relieved with the fact. Sehun offers him a grin and a familiar small carton of milk, instead of the traditional bouquet of flowers. Lu Han raises his eyebrows but takes it anyway after putting the box down. He notices that it’s not the strawberry flavor but chocolate. “Thank you,” Lu Han says softly. “Thank you for coming.”
“What is that?” Sehun asks curiously, eyeing the box. Lu Han shrugs. “Flowers,” he answers simply.
“I see, must be from all those raging fangirls of yours. Some of them were here before they gave up and went home, thinking you already did…” Sehun grins. “You were awesome, by the way. I mean, I knew you’re awesome, but it’s the first time I saw you play with the other guys live, so. Yeah, I hope you like chocolate? They ran out of the usual strawberry,” he finishes sheepishly.
Lu Han blinks. “I do,” he says and lets his gaze fall on the light brown carton milk. “I do,” Lu Han repeats sincerely and starts drinking the milk. He empties it in one go. He realizes he is actually hungry…
Sehun beams. “Good, then. Are you going straightly home?”
“Yeah, it’s quite late already,” Lu Han chuckles and throws the empty carton inside a nearby trashcan. He gazes up at the sky and blinks. “Oh wow — the moon is beautiful tonight.” Lu Han says in awe before shifting his attention back to the younger male. “It reminds me of—” He stops. There’s the slightest tinge of red on his cheeks “Are you going home after this?” He coughs, returning the question, after a brief moment of silence.
Sehun raises an eyebrow but then decides to let it slide with a shrug. “I guess. Do you have a ride? Do you want me to help you with that box?”
“No, it’s alright, I’m taking the bus…” he glances at his wristwatch and his eyes go wide. “Shit, I gotta hurry. The last bus is leaving in five minutes — I’m sorry, I’ll see you again okay?”
Sehun nods, a smile on his lips. “Okay. I’ll see you again.”
Lu Han readjusts the violin case straps on his shoulders and takes the box back in his arms. He nods at Sehun and starts striding fast to catch the last bus.
When Lu Han is out of his sight, Sehun is still standing there. He gazes up to the sky, a smile making its way back to his lips.
The crescent moon is indeed beautiful tonight.
They meet quite a few times after that. Lu Han would coincidentally meet Sehun at the sports field on his way home and some days Sehun would coincidentally pass the music club’s room when Lu Han’s practicing. After a few I’ll see you agains later, they don’t even make excuses anymore and simply be there.
Lu Han enjoys the younger’s company and secretly wishes that the other male feels the same too. They have worked out their awkwardness around each other as the days pass, much to Lu Han’s relief. Somewhere along the way Lu Han also learns an important fact: although Sehun is very polite to basically everyone and seems like a perfect gentleman in the making, when you get to know him better, you will find a big dork underneath all those admirable traits. Another plus factor is that Lu Han hasn’t been getting much headaches compared to before he starts hanging out with Sehun. Oh well, maybe it’s all due to stress after all.
Lu Han would usually wait for Sehun at the finish line, reading his notes or music sheets, with a tall blue bottle of water for Sehun when he finishes. Sehun would grin at him and say his thanks as Lu Han hands him the bottle; immediately gulping down the water empty. Lu Han would simply smile in return as he watches Sehun’s mouth, wet with water, his adam apple moving up and down as the runner gulps down the water. Knowing Sehun has taught Lu Han many things — one of them being the art of staring without getting caught, because he kind of like watching Sehun. A lot. God knows what Sehun would say if he got caught. Lu Han doesn’t want to think about that and prays the day would never come.
One day, Sehun asks him to teach him how to play the violin. He says that he thinks he have a secret talent to be a violinist after watching Lu Han play, because it looks pretty easy. So Lu Han hands him one of the school’s violins and starts teaching him the basics after the club’s practice.
To begin, Lu Han doesn’t let Sehun to touch the bow yet and tells the younger to simply hold the violin, which is met with Sehun’s snort because of course I can hold the violin properly first try!. It ultimately ends with him failing and Lu Han laughing at him mercilessly. When he finally can hold the violin properly, Sehun starts with the fingerboard and makes a face when he sees the fretless surface. He ends up missing the first finger position for the second most of the time.
Lu Han lets Sehun play with the bow the second time. He applies some rosin on the bow’s hair carefully with Sehun watching him in interest. “Why are you rubbing a candy on it?”
Lu Han smiles wryly as he hands the bow to him. “It’s called a rosin. It is not a candy and do not touch the hair,” he warns when Sehun is about to touch the bow’s hair. Sehun pouts and wraps his fingers around the wood. Lu Han hums in approval and elaborates, “Basically if you don’t have rosin applied on the hair, no sound will come out no matter how hard you bow.”
Sehun’s mouth forms an “o” as he nods. “Okay,” he says and takes a deep breath. “I’m going to unleash the violin god in me, so watch out for that. You’ll probably be blinded by my awesomeness.”
Lu Han rolls his eyes but says nothing. Sehun then clears his throat and bows on the E string tentatively. It produces a horrible, high-pitched squeak that make both of them wince.
“You should have started on D or A first,” Lu Han snickers. “I thought the violin god in you knew E was very delicate.”
“But I was very gentle,” Sehun mumbles.
“Well, be gentler,” Lu Han says and is met again with Sehun’s pout. Seriously, Sehun should be banned from pouting because it makes him even more adorable.
Lu Han ends up teaching him how to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars and later, when Sehun gets bored playing the same song over and over, Lu Han teaches him Over the Rainbow. They’re still terribly out of tune, but Sehun is all pleased with himself regardless. He’s saying how he would boast of being Lu Han’s pupil in the future and Lu Han replies with please no because it will only destroy my remarkable reputation.
Life is good, Lu Han thinks as he watches Sehun struggle playing Over the Rainbow. A smile blooms on his lips. It really is.
Sehun has been a permanent routine to Lu Han performances since that Mozart Tribute night. He would sit there, sometimes with Jongin beside him — although Jongin would then disappear when Lu Han meets Sehun at the end of the day outside the building; a moonlit smile on his lips, two boxes of strawberry milk with 8gr fat in hand. It always feels nice to have someone familiar in the audience, after all.
With that new routine, he finds his other “routine” lessens in frequency. And the pain. He would still get headaches sometimes, although rarely now, and the pain is much lesser.
He still gets the sunflowers bouquets, of course, which is his another permanent routine. He wonders if the sender’s ever going to stop. He wonders if he could do something for them, to know that he really does appreciate the bouquets and the cards, and then he thinks better of it.
The newest card he got was written with fond memories.
Sehun watches calmly for once as Lu Han practices the repertoire that the latter would be recording later in the day for the upcoming competition. It sounds sad yet beautiful; and although Sehun has no idea what the piece is called, this has been his most favorite piece to listen to yet. Sehun thinks it’s probably Beethoven or Mozart’s 1238th violin concerto or something.
When Lu Han finishes, Sehun gives him enthusiastic claps and awed whistles. Although Sehun has watched Lu Han performs his violin skills a few times by now, on and off-stage, Lu Han never seems to stop to amaze him. He always has something new to show and when Sehun thinks the violinist can’t be any better than this, Lu Han comes again and proves him otherwise.
Lu Han gives him a smug smile and proceeds to put the violin back to its case. “I have to go to the Philharmonic Orchestra, so I’m afraid I can’t stay longer today.”
Sehun frowns. “Philhar-what?”
Lu Han huffs. Count on Sehun to mishear Philharmonic for Phil’s harmoni. “Forget it. The point is that I have to go sooner.”
“Okay.” Sehun says. He blinks. “I really like that song.”
Lu Han stares at him, puzzled. “What song?”
“The one you just played.”
“It’s not a song, Sehun,” Lu Han sighs. “It’s Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise.”
“Wow, it doesn’t have any number on the title!” Sehun says, visibly impressed.
Lu Han rolls his eyes. “Its official name is Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise Op. 34 No. 14.”
Sehun makes a face. Lu Han chuckles and starts packing his things. “I’m glad you liked it, though. I’m going to use this piece for the competition and in fact, now I’m going to the Orchestra to ask some advice from my mentor on this particular piece,” he pauses and averts his gaze to the younger male, eyebrows raised. “What are you doing after this?”
Sehun shrugs. “I don’t know, maybe run some laps or go bother Jongin.”
Kim Jongin. “You should run some laps,” Lu Han say immediately without thinking. He mentally smacks his head. He doesn’t want to sound like he prefers Sehun not to spend more time with the other male.
Sehun taps his chin thoughtfully, oblivious to Lu Han’s thought. “Hmm. Should I?”
“You do have a competition coming up,” Lu Han shrugs. “I’m feeling like you’ve been practicing to enter a violin competition more than a running competition,” he smirks.
Sehun’s eyes widened, as if he’d only realized that. “Huh. You’re right,” he says and pauses. “I guess being able to play Over the Rainbow or Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars awesomely like I do won’t really help me much on winning a running competition,” Lu Han rolls his eys at this and Sehun suddenly looks like he’s just got the best idea in the world. “Oh my God, Lu Han, we totally should win together! I winning the running competition and you the violin. It will be so awesome. In fact, let’s make a promise here and now!”
Lu Han raises his eyebrows, a little taken aback at Sehun’s sudden excitement. “What?”
“Repeat after me! I, Lu Han, solemnly swear,” Sehun insists, raising a hand, chest buffed.
“Sehun, this is ridiculous — ”
Lu Han sighs. Sehun can be such a child sometimes. “You’re such a child, Sehun,” he decides to voice it out and is meet with Sehun staring hopefully at him, his stance intanct. Lu Han takes a good look at the surrounding, making sure that no one else can see them, takes a deep breath and raises his own hand. “I, Lu Han, solemnly swear,” he finally obliges half-heartedly.
“that I will win the competition,”
“that I will win the competition,”
“and if I don’t,”
“and if I don’t!” Sehun says louder as puts a finger on Lu Han’s lips, effectively silencing the older male. Silence dawns upon them abruptly and for a split second there Lu Han swears Sehun is leaning closer to him, face so close that Lu Han can count the younger’s long eyelashes, and oh God, Sehun is beautiful and their lips are merely a few inches away —
And Sehun backs away almost immediately, as if the contact scorched his skin, his back turned. All Lu Han can hear at the moment are loud, erratic heartbeats, and if he listens closer, he’d know that those don’t come from one heart but two.
No one speaks for what feels like an eternity but no one makes the move to leave either. Lu Han gulps down his nervousness and decides to man up. “Sehun,” the name ends up to come out as a mere whisper.
“I know you can win.” Sehun says abruptly, still not facing Lu Han. “You will win.”
“And I will, too.” Sehun adds, a hint of confidence back in his voice. He turns around to face Lu Han again, a smile now adorning his handsome face. “It’s a promise, okay?”
Lu Han, unable to speak, simply nods.
“Cross my heart,” Sehun says softly as he makes the motion. Lu Han feels heat creeping on his cheeks. This feels kind of embarrassing, if he’s being truthful to himself, but the smile playing on Sehun’s lips makes it’s all worth it.
“I’m sorry, I…” Sehun trails off. Lu Han looks at him in the eyes and finds a mixture of emotions he can’t quite decipher in those warm brown eyes. Sehun swallows the words he’s going to say and instead he nods and turns on his heels to leave.
Lu Han stands there in silence, his hand slowly motions for his heart.
Cross my heart.
The next baby blue card he gets along with the bouquet of sunflowers is filled with a simple question mark.
“Another one, huh?”
Lu Han jumps from his seat and looks up, a scowl on his face. He finds Yixing smiling smugly and Zitao looking at the bouquet curiously beside him. Lu Han sighs but doesn’t say anything and instead brings his attention back to the enigmatic card. The previous ones had been sentences, one at a time, so this simple question mark is quite baffling to Lu Han.
“A question mark? What does that even mean?” Zitao says in Chinese, a frown on his face.
“A question mark means a question mark, Zitao,” Yixing says as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. Duh. “The bouquet of sunflowers, on the other hand…”
Lu Han averts his gaze to the pianist, eyebrows arched. “What about it?”
“Do you even know what sunflowers mean, Lu Han?”
“Sunflowers mean, well, sunflowers?” Lu Han tries.
“No,” Yixing rolls his eyes. “It means unrequited love. Not many of your fangirls know their place like this one… At least this one know you’d never be able to return her feelings for you.”
“I don’t even know any of them so how could I fall in love with them,” Lu Han mumbles as he puts the bouquet into a box.
All of sudden, that moment, Lu Han feels the world shakes beneath his feet and he stumbles forward; he’d certainly fall to the ground if it’s not for Zitao who immediately holds him back. Lu Han compels his eyes shut, silently waiting for the tremor to cease. His head is pounding painfully.
“Lu Han? Are you alright?” Zitao asks concernedly. Yixing is immediately in front of him, making him stand back straight, hands on the older’s arms carefully.
Lu Han slowly opens his eyes. His head is pounding like hell that he feels tears on the corner of his eyes. “Earthquake…?” He asks weakly. Yixing gives him a questioning look before shaking his head.
“It’s… spinning,” Lu Han breathes shakily and lets himself fall on the floor, head cradled in his arms, body curling into a fetal position. “Make it… stop,” he whimpers and reaches out to hold onto something, anything, because now he feels like falling and he can hear Yixing and Zitao calling his name but he can’t see, he can’t —
And then it is all black.
Lu Han wakes up to a contrasting white compared to the pitch black darkness he’d fallen into. He blinks his eyes slowly, trying to regain his focus. He’s met with a ceiling of white and he can’t say he didn’t expect this. The smell of disinfectant is in the air, confirming his assumption that he’s at a hospital even further. He eventually takes in his surrounding and finds his mother asleep on a chair beside his bed, wrinkled hands holding his, head rested on the edge of his bed. Lu Han feels his eyes soften at the sight, a small smile making its way on his lips. Mother…
He squeezes her hand gently and she slowly opens her eyes. In a moment those dark-brown eyes so much like his own are staring at him and the next, tears are streaming down their corners. Lu Han soon finds himself in her careful embrace, her tears immediately soaking the fabric of his baby blue hospital shirt.
“Mom,” Lu Han murmurs, voice slightly hoarse from disuse. “I’m okay,” Lu Han says; hopes. He isn’t so sure about his condition. Was it really an earthquake? Was he in such shock that he just passed out like that? Is an earthquake even supposed to feel like that? He wouldn’t know, he’d never felt one before. The sound of the time beating somewhere in the room produces another question: how long had he been out?
Too many questions, too little answers.
“Mom…?” Lu Han tries again, rubbing circles gently on her trembling back. “Are Yixing and Zitao okay? The earthquake didn’t hurt them, did it?” He asks worriedly.
Slowly, his mother breaks the hug and gazes upon her only son, wiping her tears away. “Oh sweetheart…” she sniffles, a trembling smile on her lips. “There’s no earthquake; they are okay.”
“No earthquake…?” Lu Han asks, confusion clear in his voice. Then what was it? “What happened, mom?” he finally inquires.
“Sweetheart…” She compels her eyes shut, as if the next words she’s going to say are hurting her. Lu Han’s heart breaks a little at the sight. What could possibly happen to him that makes his mother suffer so much only to say that? A moment later she flutters her eyes back open, fresh tears falling from the corners of her eyes; a melancholy smile on her lips.
“Sweetheart… there’s… there’s a tumor in your brain,” she chokes out and breaks down again, hands holding Lu Han’s tight, head hung low as she sobs.
“That’s…” He croaks, unable to finish with a whirlwind of thoughts invading his mind all at once. That’s not supposed to happen, that only happens in movies, that’s impossible, that’s —
“Oh my God,” He whispers when it has finally registered in his mind that it is happening. “A tumor?”
His mother finally looks up and nods slowly, tears still streaming down her cheeks. “Yes, sweetheart, it’s a benign tumor so it isn’t as dangerous as the malignant one, but,” she chokes, “there’s always a possibility if you keep it in. We’ll take it out as soon as possible, okay?”
Take it out… of my… brain…
“Mom,” Lu Han whispers as something finally dawns on him. “If I take it out, will I still be able to play the violin?”
Cross my heart.
Lu Han is nowhere in sight for the next full week.
Sehun has been waiting every single day by in the music room, hoping that Lu Han would magically appear out of nowhere; a soft smile on his lips, violin case slung over his shoulder.
Lu Han has become a part of his routine and the thought of not being able to see him again terrifies him.
He’s heard the rumors.
It’s not like he doesn’t know. It’s more difficult not to know. He is Lu Han after all.
But still, he waits.
Sehun frowns. The voice sounds so familiar…
“Oh Sehun… wake up.”
Sehun opens his eyes and immediately sits up, knocking his head on another’s; hard. “Ow,” he groans as he rubs the sore spot on his forehead. “What the hell.”
“You sure have a hard head,” the other’s voice grunts.
Sehun blinks and looks up. “Yixing?”
“Glad you didn’t get an amnesia,” Yixing rolls his eyes. “What are you doing here so late, Sehun?”
Sehun frowns. “It’s not late, it’s only—” he glances at the clock hung on the wall above the door and falters. “Six. Oh my God. I must have fallen asleep.”
Yixing sighs and starts taking some music sheets on a nearby desk then putting them into his dark-brown satchel. “Obviously, you did. Now, I need you to get out so I can lock the room.”
Sehun starts gathering his things and heads out, Yixing following behind him. The music room locked with a click and Sehun finds himself facing a weary-looking Yixing.
“Yixing…” Sehun starts tentatively. “Do you happen to hear anything about Lu Han lately?”
Yixing looks pensive for a moment before he stares at the taller boy questioningly. “Nothing you haven’t heard about, I’m sure. Why?”
Sehun bites his lip and shakes his head. “Nothing… nothing.”
At that Yixing smiles slightly, as if something has just dawned on him. “I wouldn’t worry too much if I were you. Rumors tend to be exaggerated, and I’m sure those rumors about Lu Han are no exception. He’s probably just exhausted and is now resting at home.”
Yixing smiles and starts walking. Sehun follows, easily matching Yixing’s shorter strides. “Yes, Sehun. I’ve known him for years. There’s one time when this shady gossip magazine reported that Lu Han had died in a car accident somewhere in Beijing. I panicked and immediately went to his house only to find him rolling around on his bed whining about being hungry, here in Seoul.” He chuckles. “Don’t worry too much, Sehun. Think about something else — Don’t you have a competition to win soon?”
Sehun nods, a small smile on his lips. “Yeah… you’re right.” He pauses. “Thank you, Yixing.”