Soccer brotp vague uni AU with a side-serving of ~*romance*~
Only a few days later, Luhan realises that he probably should have followed the others’ example in studying. They'd all started preparing for the rapidly approaching exams earlier; even Lay has his notes ready. Luhan makes photocopies of the notes from subjects they share and promises to pay him back, anything, and Lay agrees to the deal, looking mightily satisfied.
For his other subjects though, Luhan is by himself, and he becomes increasingly frantic as he realises the amount of work he actually has to do. By the time he’s only got a week left he’s taken to spending every waking hour in the library, calling Amber and convincing her to make one of her friends play in his place for the game. The only thing he sticks with is his morning runs, relying on them increasingly as an odd form of meditation. He gets a strange idea that - he knows it’s absurd, but he can’t shake it - that if he spends enough time surrounding himself with all the dusty, old knowledge of the library that maybe he’ll absorb some of it. That’s probably the only way he’ll do well, he thinks bitterly, but his thoughts are interrupted by the electronic ring of his phone. It sounds harsh and loud after hours of muffled quiet amongst the bookshelves.
“Hey, what are you up to?” Xiumin says as he answers, and Luhan thinks he sounds blissfully, unfairly relaxed.
“Cramming. For my exams. That I am going to fail,” he says, his voice rising and getting a little hysterical towards the end. Someone from a table over looks up at him and he clears his throat before sliding lower in his seat.
“Oh, well, I just thought I should let you know, we won the last game. Without you,” He adds, and in his mind’s eye Luhan can see the way he smiles, a little bit arrogant. “Where are you? A library? Is it easy to find? I’ll drop in, repay the favour,” Xiumin continues, and Luhan scrabbles upward again, ignoring the stares of the people around him.
“No, no- seriously, don’t, I have too much work to do, you’ll just be a distraction,” Luhan hisses, holding his phone close. When was the last time he slept? Showered? “But thank you,” he suddenly blurts, realising his rudeness, “And congratulations.”
“Calm down,” Xiumin laughs, “fine, fine. We’ll see you after exams, make sure you survived. Not going to make next week’s game either, then?”
“No,” Luhan says a little regretfully, because it would be nice to escape the panic-stricken monotony of school. And, in a strange way, he finds himself missing the team. Xiumin hangs up, and Luhan forgets about the phone call until the next morning, when he receives a text that reads Gud luck loser :-)
Luhan does manage to survive his exams, for the most part. The sun’s only just setting when he crashes to bed on Friday, already fighting a yawn. He doesn’t even get to sleep before someone’s hammering on the door.
“What,” he snaps, the bite of it softened through his blankets, and Kris pokes his head around the door. Luhan shrinks back a little into his pillows.
“Is it okay if we eat here? Since you’re the only one with a sink and kettle,” he asks, and Luhan nods as he shuffles in, followed by Lay and Tao. They had ramen nights like this after exams, or a particularly stressful week, or right before vacation. It was nice to have little comforting rituals this far from home.
“How’s soccer going?” Lay asks, and Luhan jumps a little. He fiddles with the edge of his cardboard bowl before answering.
“We’ve won once,” he says, and Tao is already opening his mouth to say something predictably rude, so he adds, “and we drew. I think we’re ranked somewhere in the bottom third?”
Tao takes the opportunity to brag about the basketball team and Luhan tunes out, flicking through his phone. Their game was last night and Xiumin hasn’t let him know if they lost or not. He contemplates sending a text before he notices Lay watching him, waggling his eyebrows, so he tucks his phone away, shoving Tao and telling him to shut up about his hot TA, what, are you fifteen?
When everyone files out sleepily close to midnight he follows them, leaning against the peeling paint of the hallway as he listens to the dial tone of his phone. It strikes him that maybe Xiumin is already asleep, but someone picks up with a drowsy Hello? before he can cancel the call.
“Oh, hey. It’s Luhan, I was just calling to see how we did,” he says, listening to what he thinks is a yawn.
“We won again, actually,” Xiumin says, and Luhan rubs at an odd looking stain in the carpet with his socked foot. He doesn’t know if he’s meant to say something besides the obligatory congratulations. “We’re going out for team drinks this weekend to celebrate,” Xiumin finally continues. “Will your exams be over?”
Luhan sighs, but it’s more satisfied than weary. “Yep, last one was today. Where’re we meeting?”
They end up at a small pub near Amber’s place, the ceiling low over the deep rich timber of the bar and tables. They snag a booth seat with a good view of the tv, right next to the pool table. The meal is heavy and warm, the usual basic pub fair of steak and chips. Jonghyun convinces him that beer is a good idea, although Luhan knows himself to be notoriously lightweight, and he can already feel the flush across his cheekbones before they finish the meal.
“No, see,” Minho is busy explaining, “he was definitely offside!” Xiumin watches the tv dubiously, and as one of the team scores Minho bangs on the table, frustrated. “The ref’s blind, I swear.”
“I think you need to calm down,” Amber says, holding her drink up and out of the danger zone.
Luhan leans up and out of the cushion of the wall seat to peer over Jonghyun’s shoulder. “Hey, is that me?” he asks, and Jonghyun hurriedly covers the napkin he’s scribbling on. “Hey! That’s definitely me! Give it-”
After a short tussle, Luhan finally pries the napkin from Jonghyun’s grasp. “It’s all of us,” he says delightedly, holding up the little beer-stained cartoons.
“Our official team artist,” Xiumin snorts, grabbing it, “and my face isn’t that fat.”
Jonghyun pulls a face at him. “I wouldn’t expect you to understand my artistic genius anyway,” he says, and snatches the napkin back off him.
He’s about to scrunch it up before Luhan takes it back. “Finders keepers,” he says, and while Jonghyun scrunches his face he lets Luhan tuck it into the pocket of his jacket.
“Hey,” Xiumin says, leaning over to Luhan in a lull in the conversation, “pool table’s free. Wanna play?”
Luhan wobbles his head side to side, as if to say eehhhh, I dunno before he finishes his drink.
“C’mon, just one game,” Xiumin says, eyes wide and pleading, and Luhan leans over to grab his cheek before saying fine, baozi, fine. It’s been years since Luhan tried to play, under-aged and scrawny in smoky, dimly lit pool dens, but he’s loose with a little too much beer and what harm can come, right?
The harm comes when Xiumin leans over to take the break shot and Luhan becomes very aware of how well Xiumin fills his jeans. Luhan only just resists the urge to throw his hands up and cover his eyes like a child. He shuffles around the table to get ready for his shot, but the view of Xiumin’s face intent and serious isn’t that much of a help either. His concentration isn’t the greatest at the best of times and he finds himself sinking the cue ball with a groan.
“Loser buys next round?” Xiumin suggests, leaning against the edge of the table nonchalantly, and Luhan sneers at him, all false bravado. “You’re on.”
Luhan is lucky. Through some combination of muscle-memory and tipsy skill – and probably Xiumin’s own incompetence – he manages to take the lead. Xiumin does his best to distract him, leaning close and hooking his chin over Luhan’s shoulder as he tries to take a shot.
Luhan elbows him in the gut, ignoring the nervous flop that his own stomach does at Xiumin's closeness. “Excuse me, I have a game to win.”
Xiumin just ignores him, poking viciously at his chin. “How’d you get that scar?”
Luhan flaps his hand at Xiumin before taking the shot and wiggling away a little bit. “This is going to sound dumb, but I was playing badminton and my team mate ran into me with his teeth.”
Xiumin laughs as he takes his shot, missing by a mile and hitting Luhan’s striped ten ball for a foul. “Hey, unfair,” he whines, pouting, but Luhan takes his free shot anyway. “So what, he just bit you?”
“Yeah man, I dunno,” Luhan mutters, and he manages to pull off a shot that sinks two. “Dude was running around with his mouth open, apparently, and smashed into my face and put a tooth through my lip. Almost needed stitches.”
Xiumin whistles appreciatively before sighing as Luhan sinks the eight ball to win.
“Next round’s on Xiumin,” Luhan crows as they sit back down, and Amber pats Minho on the shoulder.
“Good, because Minho’ll need it,” she says, before stage-whispering, “His team didn’t go so well.”
The snow hits on Sunday night, leaving slush and mud for Luhan to slog through. He hauls himself out of bed before class – You have to make sure you get up – and sets out, wearing two pairs of pants and three jumpers under his parka – you have to make sure you run. Lay looks at him like he’s mad when he strips the layers off, leaving a damp trail to his desk, but Luhan just shrugs.
“It’s refreshing once you get used to it, I swear,” he says, and find himself meaning it.
Still, the idea of the humid buses packed with disease-carrying humans isn’t so appealing in this weather, and when he gets the game schedule for the week he groans. Their game is set for late Tuesday night, finishing right when the bus services slow down. He’ll have the added bonus of being stranded in the freezing cold for half an hour, at least.
During their shared lecture Luhan leans over to where Lay is staring intensely at the professor, taking notes furiously.
“Hey,” he hisses, “you need to give me a lift tonight.”
Luhan should feel guilty for taking advantage of Lay’s terrible ability to multi-task, but he can’t find it within himself to feel bad as Lay just blinks and nods, not taking his eyes off the professor.
Luhan meets him in the car park that night, shivering in his thick coat and avoiding the frozen-over puddles.
“You’re lucky that I wanna find out who this Xiumin guy is,” Lay says, jimmying the lock to his car to get the door open. It always misbehaved in the cold. They scramble inside when it finally pops open, Luhan tugging his beanie closer over his ears. “I mean, taking you on soccer dates and shit. And these other new friends. They sound suss. ”
“It wasn’t a date,” Luhan yelps, gripping the dashboard as Lay takes the exit turn too fast. “And they’re not ‘suss’. Can you not try to kill us?”
Lay rolls his eyes patronisingly, and Luhan isn’t sure which part of his statement it’s directed towards, but he’s grateful enough for Lay dropping the topic.
During the game Luhan does his best to ignore Lay watching wide-eyed from the side-lines. During half-time Xiumin leaves to fill his bottle from one of the bubblers near the bathroom and no matter how much Luhan glares at Lay, nothing stops him from following. Luhan buries his face in his hands and subtracts at least two favours from the long list that he owes Lay.
Amber watches Xiumin and Lay return curiously, making a noise and looking to Luhan when Lay thumps Xiumin on the back before returning to his seat.
“Don’t ask me,” Luhan mutters, and no matter how many pointed questions he throws at Lay in the car-ride home Lay refuses to talk about it.
“The worst friend,” he spits at Lay, snatching his bag out of the back seat, and Lay reaches out to tug on his collar.
“You love me,” he says, winking before blowing an air-kiss.
Luhan makes sure to slam the car door extra hard.
Luhan is too afraid to ask for another lift the next week, deciding to brave the bus. Luckily enough, the snow from last week has mostly melted away, the bus doesn’t break down, the heating works fine, and there’s barely even a crowd. Luhan is ready to count the day as a blessing until the game starts. His passes are terrible, his defending is pathetic and he’s pretty sure one of the opposing players actually laughed at him when he tried in vain to tackle them. They’re marking much closer than Luhan or the rest of the team is used to and he can see his own frustration mirrored in the other’s faces.
When one of the defenders gets a little too close he resorts to shoving them right back, and they tumble to the ground as the whistle blows. He catches Jonghyun’s eye and gulps down his guilt as he offers his hand, muttering a sorry. They take it reluctantly, glaring at him hard before moving off to take the penalty.
At half time Amber whacks him upside the head. “Don’t pull that shit again,” she says tersely, and Xiumin bumps him with his shoulder in silent sympathy. Amber turns to address them all. “Stop forcing it. We’re faster, we can outrun most of them. They’re trying to bog us down, so keep moving and tire them out and don’t push anyone.” Her eyes are on Luhan and he nods jerkily.
The second half goes much better – Luhan’s new marker is lagging within a few minutes, and the other team is slow to reshuffle as Luhan makes a break for goal. Amber’s defender finally moves off to take a run at him, but Luhan takes the shot sure and steady, the goal keeper only just missing. He’s too excited to care about looking like an idiot during his momentary victory dance. Amber sneaks in another goal before full-time and they win 2-1.Amber half-tackles him on the sideline. “Shit, nice turn around,” she says, and his thanks is heartfelt.
Xiumin settles in beside him as he zips up his parka. “Wanna grab a coffee before leaving? I want to put off riding around in that for as long as possible,” he says gesturing to the grim weather outside and hesitating before he continues, “and you got a goal, too. My shout.”
Luhan thinks of the wait for the bus ahead of him. “Good idea. And, ah, thanks.”
They lean against the gym kiosk counter, sipping their drinks and watching the mostly empty car park. A yoga class leaves one of the training rooms nearby and Luhan leans in close to Xiumin.
“Check out the leg warmers on that one,” he whispers, and he watches as Xiumin swallows to hide his laugh.
“Mhm, I dunno if it compares to the crimp perm on their friend,” Xiumin remarks offhandedly, and Luhan holds his cup in front of his face to hide his expression.
“Oh god,” he whispers, “the awful jumper up the back. It’s like someone threw up a chessboard and a rubik’s cube all at once.”
Xiumin coughs a laugh as he tries to take a sip, turning to lean against the counter, shoulders shaking as he holds in his laughter. Luhan leans down next to him and they do their best to keep the giggles quiet.
They finish their drinks and head off, Xiumin swearing as a particularly strong gust of wind hits on their way out. He continues to grumble under his breath as he balances along the curb, arms stuck out, before Luhan bumps him off onto the ashpalt.
“Fuck you winter,” he says, kicking at a downtrodden looking patch of muddy snow in the gutter. “Fuck you in the face.”
Luhan yelps to hide his amusement, shoving his hand over Xiumin’s mouth. “There are children,” he says, and they watch as a mother and her son walk past looking scandalised. “That snow wasn’t doing anything to you anyway.”
“Man, you don’t have to ride a bike through this weather, it takes me hours to thaw,” Xiumin says, clipping his helmet on. “See you around, okay?”
Luhan’s almost at his bus stop when his bus drives past, not even stopping. He runs after it until he reaches the corner, shouting “Well screw you too!” before trudging back to the stop. The wait for the next one is going to be monotonous and he digs out his phone in boredom.
>Missed the bus b/c of u >:(
To his surprise, Xiumin manages to text back within five minutes.
>lol ur welcome ;-)
>shouldn’t u be riding a bike or s/t? ew @ that sleazy winkyface
>gud w my hands wink wonk
Luhan scoffs, his laughter surprisingly big even to him. He bites his lip. Laid out like this in front of him, definite and sure, the flirting is so obvious. It’s exciting, yeah, and he shivers inside his coat for reasons other than the cold. But Luhan doesn’t know what to do if this is some weird straight guy bonding ritual, if maybe Xiumin is mistaking his intentions. If Xiumin thinks this is just like a perpetual game of gay chicken. Luhan swallows, the aftertaste of coffee bitter in his mouth.
Luhan hits call with a sturdy confidence he didn’t know he had, and then suddenly he’s listening to the dial tone and oh god what has he done-
“Hey – sorry, wait – I,” and Luhan listens, heart thudding in his chest, as Xiumin fumbles with his phone. “Sorry, I was joking, I’m really not that great at phones and bikes, I had to pull over to text, you caught me,” he says, and he sounds distracted and harried.
“I’m gay,” Luhan says, the words feeling explosively loud in the quiet of the bus shelter, and he drags the hand not holding his phone down his face. The glass of his phone screen is cold against his cheek.
Luhan hears Xiumin’s quiet intake of breath before he says, “Yeah, I know, Lay told me. Like, a week ago. I mean, I could sort of-”
“Shit.” Fucking Lay. Luhan kicks out against the bus stop pole. Lay was going to get a fucking earful about outing people and especially about outing people to certain individuals that said gay people like and-
“So, was this like, all you were calling about? Because it’s actually really really hard to ride and hold a phone at the same time and I think I almost hit that kid back there,” Xiumin says, sounding distracted as he interrupts Luhan’s train of thought. Luhan kicks at the pole again.
“Shit, yeah, uh, sorry,” he mutters, his usual way with words lost, and then he hangs up to stare down the quiet street, the traffic of the main road only a distant hum. Luhan throws his stupid phone with its stupid fucking hello kitty cover into his bag. He isn’t particularly sure how a perpetual game of gay chicken would actually work, but he’s fairly sure he’s managed to figure out how to lose.
During their Friday pizza night Kris announces that there’s a party at his friend’s apartment.
“Chen says that you’re all invited too,” he murmurs, and Tao leans forward excitedly. He’s only a freshman, not quite as jaded as the rest of them, and he sounds eager when he asks how soon they’ll leave. Lay laughs and slings his arm over Tao’s shoulder.
“Calm down, bro. You gotta learn how to be fashionably late,” he says, before shoving his bread roll into Tao’s mouth. Tao glares at him before eating the rest of the roll petulantly.
When they finally arrive the party is already in full swing, and Chen greets them with bottles of beer before ambling off to make sure that no one’s vomiting in his room-mate’s bedroom. Luhan has a soccer game scheduled for early the next day, and he’s never been so great at holding his alcohol, but, well, free drinks were free drinks. Somehow Tao convinces him to play beer pong and Lay finds the hard spirits and Kris tries to make sure that Tao doesn’t fall asleep anywhere dangerous, and then someone starts an impromptu dance-off and this chick just won't stop grinding on him. Luhan decides he needs some air.
Luhan heaves on the sliding glass door that leads outside, wobbling out on the small balcony to collapse into an old plastic deck chair. He shivers a little in the night chill, the air snapping with cold, but the alcohol is warm under his skin. He rummages around in his pockets and lights a cig just as someone else follows through the door, pulling it shut and leaning against the balustrade. The road is loud below, yellow light rising to light the side of their face, and Luhan only has enough time for a moment of vague recognition before they turn and Xiumin looks at him in surprise.
“What are you doing here?” Luhan says, words coming out harsher and more accusatory than he’d meant, “We have a game tomorrow!”
Xiumin’s jaw drops and his eyebrows draw together, and Luhan has to press his lips together to hold in his laughter at his comical expression. “What are you talking about? I live here! Why are you here! And you’re smoking! As if you can talk!” Xiumin builds steam, tone quickly shifting from confused to triumphant, crossing his arms at the end and jerking his chin at the cigarette in Luhan’s hand. A proud grin hides at the corner of his mouth and Luhan feels irritation settle into his chest.
“Oh shut up,” Luhan says, taking a drag before leaning up to grab the front of Xiumin’s shirt with something like Dutch courage or maybe drunk recklessness. He presses his mouth to Xiumin’s and exhales as Xiumin catches on, inhaling the smoke that he breathes out. It’s only a moment, and Luhan is possibly too drunk for this, but Xiumin’s mouth is warm and soft and gentle on his, and – Xiumin leans back, breathing out the smoke above them. He wipes at his mouth, eyes bright on Luhan. Luhan clears his throat.
“There, now you’re as guilty me,” he mutters as he takes a swig from his beer, and the sliding door opens.
“He-llo,” calls Lay, and Luhan knows with a sinking feeling that he witnessed the whole thing. He attempts a flippant eye roll and avoids looking at Xiumin where he’s leaned back, long against the balustrade, his cheeks flushed with cold. Luhan can still feel his eyes on him.
“It was a blowback, you dick, we’ve done it a million times,” Luhan says. Lay just raises his eyebrows at Luhan before squinting at Xiumin.
“Oi, want some?” he asks, pulling a blunt from behind his ear, but Xiumin shakes his head and smiles tightly, eyes flickering to Luhan before he stands and walks inside.
“I didn’t think that you and Xiumin were that chummy,” Lay says, not ungently. “Although I could take a guess,” he adds, and Luhan sighs as he hands him his lighter.
“It’s probably a bad idea,” he mutters, “on my soccer team and all,” but it sounds weak even to him. “I don’t even know if he’s interested.”
Lay scoffs. “Wait, are you serious? C’mon, don’t be blind. And,” he adds, "I've already given him The Talk, so don't let me look like an idiot." He turns to Luhan, grinning around his spliff victoriously."The Talk? The whole, you-hurt-them-I-hurt-you lecture?" Luhan asks, and when Lay nods he groans. "You're such a fucking embarrassment, Jesus." Still, Luhan feels a heat bloom in his chest that has nothing to do with the alcohol, his heart knocking against his ribs as he tries to untangle himself from the chair.
“Maybe not the best idea right now, eh? Wait ‘til you’re sober,” Lay says, and Luhan nods, swallowing down nervous anticipation. He looks out at the night sky, stars invisible in the frozen light of the city, the rising sound of traffic loud below them.
When Luhan wakes up he has dim memories of stumbling back to the dorm with Lay and a mouth that tastes like road kill. He barely makes it to the gym in time, and he spends most of the game hiding as best as he can from both teams and trying to stay upright. Xiumin is unfairly chipper, even scoring a goal right before half-time. Luhan takes the opportunity to bolt to the bathroom, his stomach heaving.
He’s groaning into the toilet bowl and trying to avoid making eye-contact with what looks like yesterday’s hamburger when he hears someone else come in. He attempts to kick the stall door closed behind him but Xiumin pushes it open before Luhan can reach. He offers Luhan’s water bottle to him and Luhan takes it gratefully, washing out his mouth before leaning his head against the nearest wall, swallowing thickly. The fluorescent light of the bathroom hurts his eyes.
“You alright then?” he bites out to Xiumin, squinting up at him out of one eye. The situation feels too absurd for the embarrassment to even register.
“Yeah, I’m doing okay,” Xiumin says, shrugging his shoulders, and when they make eye contact neither of them can hold in their laughter.
“C’mon, second half is probably starting soon. Are you alright to play?” Xiumin says, and his tone is surprisingly concerned, his fingers warm on Luhan’s hip as he helps him up.
“I’ll be fine, especially now that there’s nothing else to throw up,” Luhan replies, leaning a little closer than really necessary and allowing Xiumin's arm to stay at his waist. So what if he milked the sympathy a little. It wasn’t as if he got it all that often, what with friends like his.
Luhan manages to survive the rest of the game, and they’re lucky enough to win 1-0. Minho and Jonghyun do their best to lift Xiumin the sole goal-scorer onto their shoulders, but the height difference makes it a futile endeavour. Xiumin grins at Luhan from where he’s dropped on the floorboards, hair sticking up with sweat. Amber slings her arm around Luhan’s shoulders.
“Thank your stars we like you, Luhan, or you’d be dropped from the team for turning up this hung-over with no warning,” she says, and while her tone is joking he knows that it’s also a reprimand. He nods as thankfully as possible and she squeezes his shoulder as she leaves, doing some weird fist-bump with Xiumin on her way out. Luhan falls into step with him on his way to the car park, and they walk through the slushy midday chill in silence until they reach his bike.
Luhan leans against the railing of the bike stand, the cool metal digging into his back. “Look, I’m – Thanks, for today. And sorry for last night,” he says, still not entirely sure what he’s apologising for as he watches Xiumin’s hands deftly unlock his bike-chain.
Xiumin just shrugs easily, hoisting his leg over and sitting on his bike, feet scuffing in the gravel as he gets his balance. “It’s alright,” he says and while there’s an edge to it his expression is relaxed, sympathetic. He rests his elbows on his handgrips to lean forward, his face turned up at Luhan.
This, Luhan thinks, is where he should kiss him. He leans forward, fingers on the cold handlebars between where his arms rest. Xiumin licks his lips with something like nervousness, his hand rising to Luhan’s shoulder as he leans in, and Luhan watches the way that Xiumin’s eyes drop to half-lidded –and then Xiumin shoves Luhan away. Luhan feels himself stutter inside, taking a step back.
“You threw up, like, an hour ago.” Xiumin says, one side of his face scrunching in distaste. “Go home and brush your teeth, dude.” Luhan is struck dumb for a moment, until Xiumin continues, more gently: “and call me sometime, okay?”
Luhan laughs and pitches forward, mashing his face into Xiumin’s shoulder as he tries to stifle the slight hysteria. “God, I’m so gross,” he gasps, and as Luhan draws back he sees Xiumin nodding emphatically, albeit with a smile.
“I’ll talk to you later,” Luhan says, taking a few steps backwards with his eyes still on where Xiumin is stood over his bike, watching. He turns and half-runs to the bus stop, unable to hide the embarrassing skip in his step.
Luhan’s alarm goes off when it’s still dark out, weak yellow light only just peeking over the horizon. He rolls over, tucking himself into his blankets in an effort to ignore it, but before he can fall back asleep he throws off his blankets with a heavy, guilty, sigh. Time for his run.
When Luhan gets back to the dorm he showers quickly, enjoying the heat before eating breakfast in the mostly empty dining hall. At first the extra-early run had been to avoid Tao and Lay's teasing over breakfast, but he’s learnt to enjoy the quiet peacefulness. On his way back to his room he thumps on Lay’s door loudly but all he gets in response is an indecipherable grumble.
“Good morning to you too,” he says, throwing open the door, and he yanks open Lay’s curtains before he bolts, avoiding Lay’s admittedly feeble wrath.
In his own room he checks the time – eight thirty – and decides that Xiumin may as well be an early riser, at least for today.
“Hey,” Luhan says, when he finally picks up, and he coughs a little at how out of breath and eager his voice sounds.
“What, did you just go for a run?” Xiumin says curiously, and Luhan bites his lip around another cough of laughter.
“Sort of, actually,” he responds, shrugging before he remembers that Xiumin can’t see him. “I was wondering if you wanted to meet up for lunch. I think you owe me on some bets. ”
Luhan hears a muffled yawn. “Yeah, except I don’t get paid until next week and rent money’s tight. Are you okay with left-overs?” There’s the rustle of bed sheets and Luhan shakes the image of Xiumin from his mind, feeling the flush creep up his neck anyway.
“Well I have a campus with a good picnic spot,” he says, sitting on his bed with the soft squeak of bedsprings, “except it’s probably too cold out, so you’ll be stuck in my dorm. I have a microwave, at least. Can you carry food and ride a bike at the same time? Does that work?”
Xiumin hums, non-committal. “I could probably figure something out. Text me the address. I’ll call you when I’m almost there.”
Luhan hangs up and sends off a text with the address before falling back onto his bed. Xiumin can’t live too far away, he supposes, and his room really is an awful mess. He can’t do much about the low ceiling or the flickering fluorescent light bulb but he could at least deal with the piles of dirty clothes. He puts anything that smells clean away and shoves the dirty clothes into the hamper, finally filing away the papers piled on the floor. The tidying is mindless but satisfying, and when Lay finally barges in to borrow a clean towel he stops, a little shocked.
“Shit man, you okay?” he says, and Luhan stares at him. “I just mean, like, that’s more carpet than I’ve seen since you moved in, I think.”
Lay’s exaggerating, of course, but it is still a little odd for him. “I dunno. It’s pretty nice, actually.”
Lay just shakes his head as he leaves.
Xiumin calls when Luhan’s buried neck deep in schoolwork, trying to get as much done for the week ahead as possible. Sure, his notes weren't A-grade quality, considering how distracted he was, but it was a start.
“I’m outside. I think. This place is weird,” Xiumin says as soon as he picks up.
“Well what can you see?” Luhan asks as he locks his door, hurrying down the corridor. Xiumin probably came in the front gate, and he clatters down the staircase as Xiumin says, “Uh, there’s a door, and some trees, and-”
Luhan can already see him through the window. He’s holding his backpack in front of him carefully, trying to get his bike to balance against a tree. Luhan hangs up as he throws open the door. Xiumin looks at his phone in confusion before glancing up as Luhan grabs his bike-chain for him, fastening it around the tree.
“Thanks,” Xiumin says. “I think everything got here alright,” he adds, peering into his backpack.
Luhan stifles a stupidly happy smile. “C’mon, I’ll show you the way.”
They make their way up the stairs and Xiumin looks around the corridors, wide-eyed and eager. “Man, dorms are so cool.”
Luhan takes in the crappy paint-job, the dirty shoes outside people's rooms, the dim lighting and says, “Yeah, nothing like the smell of stale beer and mouldy carpet.”
Xiumin is just as delighted by his room. “It’s so small!” he says, and it sounds like a compliment. Luhan feels surprisingly nervous, watching Xiumin inspect his belongings, and it makes Luhan look at his own room with a new eye. He winces at the plush toy sticking out from under the bed.
“Uh, okay, well – Hey, don’t open that-” and he grabs Xiumin’s arm before he can pull open the wardrobe door. Luhan isn’t sure that the clothing won’t burst out and bury them. “Here, I’ve got plates and cutlery.”
They eat in the watery light that comes through his window, sat cross-legged in front of his small electric heater.
“Did you cook this?” Luhan asks around a mouthful of beef chilli stir-fry. “It’s really good.”
“I was just using up all our left-overs,” Xiumin says, but Luhan sees the way his eyes crinkle in a hidden smile. “I mean, I know I’m a brilliant cook, but this isn’t my best.”
Luhan shuffles closer to poke at the food on Xiumin’s plate. “Hey, how come you got so much more beef than me?”
Xiumin leans back, holding it out of his reach. “I’m a growing boy, you know. I need my protein,” he says, eyes darting between his own arms and Luhan’s skinny wrists meaningfully.
“Oi!” Luhan says, putting down his food, and he proves his strength by managing to wrestle Xiumin’s away from him. He ends up kneeling in front of where Xiumin is shuffled back against the wall, both of them breathing heavily.
There’s a moment of heavy silence, Xiumin’s eyes on Luhan and the corner of his mouth curled up, before Xiumin says quietly, “You chicken or what?”
Luhan makes sure to knock his head a little against the wall for that when he kisses him, thumb against his throat. Xiumin sighs into the kiss and Luhan tries to hide his smile, leaning back on his haunches to tug at Xiumin’s wrist.
“C’mon, bed’s comfier.”
Luhan sits on the edge, watching Xiumin’s chest as he gets closer with a tight swallow, and when Xiumin leans down he’s more forceful, his hand rising to hold Luhan’s jaw at the right angle as he licks into Luhan’s mouth. Luhan nips at his bottom lip and Xiumin runs his tongue along Luhan’s teeth, pushing at his shoulder insistently. Luhan scrambles backwards on the bed and Xiumin straddles him, knees on either side of his hips.
Luhan wiggles his fingers under the hem of Xiumin’s woolen sweater, his hands pressing into the small of his back as Xiumin jumps a little. “Cold hands, cold hands,” he whines, trying to lean away, and Luhan drums his fingers against the warm strength of his spine before relenting.
He tugs on Xiumin’s collar, drawing him back down to kiss him, enjoying the warm weight of Xiumin pressed against him. When Luhan breaks off to tickle at his sides he’s breathless with it, limbs cumbersome with lethargic heat. Xiumin muffles his surprised laughter in the crook of Luhan’s shoulder before rolling off him, and Luhan shuffles over, giving him space to get comfortable again on the narrow bed before leaning down over him.
Xiumin rolls his shoulders against the mattress. “Your bed is uncomfortable,” he complains, and then his tone becomes sly as he says, “and inconvenient.”
It’s probably meant to fluster Luhan, but instead he leans down, his lips ghosting over Xiumin’s jaw as he whispers, “Then we’ll just have to be creative.”
Xiumin snorts at that, tapping his cheek to bring him back for a kiss, and Luhan fumbles at his jeans, eager for more friction.
“Uh,” Xiumin says, and something about it makes Luhan looks up at him sharply. His face is oddly tense. “I’m not really a first date kinda guy.”
Luhan leans back, shimmying down to sit against Xiumin’s thighs, the heat still coiled low in the pit of his stomach. “Are you saying the one on one practice thing wasn’t a date? And the coffee?”
Luhan notes with satisfaction the way that Xiumin flushes red, bringing his hands back up under his head, his arms folded on the pillow as he shifts to get comfortable. “Well then I’m not a third date kinda guy. Whatever,” he says, his tone carefully flippant.
Luhan pokes at his admittedly impressive bicep. “Stop showing off, meathead,” and Xiumin relaxes, grinning a little as Luhan continues. “You owe me a proper tour of your apartment anyway. I don’t think I’ve actually met Chen, not properly.”
Xiumin wrinkles his nose. “Can we not talk about Chen? I think we should talk more about me,” and he flexes his arms as a prompt. Luhan pulls a face of mock-disgust in response.
“Urgh, why didn’t tell me earlier you were some asshole jock-” but his snide remark is cut off by Xiumin pulling him back down for a kiss.
When Lay stumbles in much later he starts with a “HelloOOoOOoooOoOkay I’ll leave you two at it,” and ends by turning on his heel. Luhan just rolls off with a sigh.
“I guess it’s time you met the guys,” he says, and Xiumin tries to look a little less rumpled and indecent before taking Luhan’s proffered hand.
Their last game is bittersweet. They don’t have a hope of making the semi-finals, but they do their best and manage to score a couple of lucky goals. Luhan suspects that the other team is going easy on them, already with an assured place in the semis, but it doesn’t make their victory any less hard-won. They mix up the team formation a little, and Minho scrapes another goal just as the referee whistles for full time, almost bowling over Jonghyun in his excited celebration. Caught in the moment himself, Luhan plants a messy kiss on Amber’s cheek. She jerks back, shocked, but laughs and presses an equally sloppy one to his face.
“Excuse me,” Luhan hears from behind, and then there’s a foot tangled in between his, his stomach swooping as he falls backwards. He’s caught by strong arms around his ribs before he’s half-dropped, half-lowered to the floor gracelessly.
“Excuse you,” Luhan says, smiling sunnily up at Xiumin’s put-upon frown as he sits up. “What? You want one too? Before you know it the whole team will be asking, and you know I’m a sharer,” he warns, and Xiumin bites his lip to hide his smile as steps around to crouch in front of him. Xiumin leans in, and Luhan worries for a moment that Xiumin is going to kiss him smack on the lips, right in front of everyone. Not that he’s against PDA, obviously, but he isn’t sure if that’s a line the ref or the other team would be happy to see crossed. He needn’t have worried though, because Xiumin just breathes against his cheek, a moment of teasing, before he licks up the side of Luhan’s face.
“Ew! Gross! What are you doing,” Luhan splutters, rubbing at his face. He tries to throw a dirty look at Xiumin but he’s already moved off, in conversation with Minho.
“Drinks at mine!” Jonghyun hollers from where he’s on the ground, rummaging through his bag, and Amber grabs Luhan’s hand to help him up.
“Shotgun front,” Xiumin says, just to piss Minho off, and he gets a sharp jab in the rib for his efforts.
It was sad that their season was over, Luhan thought, but there was always the summer comp around the corner.
A/N: Congratulations and thankyou for slogging through all that. Feedback welcome!