TITLE: help me get where i belong
WARNINGS: incredible vagueness uh
SUMMARY: When Lu Han can’t sleep, he climbs into Yixing’s bed.
FINAL NOTES: thank you to e for keeping me alive while writing this u__u <3 the title is from radiohead’s “motion picture soundtrack” and the cut is from blonde redhead’s “loved despite of great faults”.
|It’s always so damn cold in October.
October is terrible. And the months that follow it--the entire winter season, actually, is terrible. Someone could trade in the cosmic barter store a bag of freezing wind and maybe buy a roll of stamps.
“Zhang, the apple display is dead.” He whistles while he works when his boss isn’t close by. “And please buy a company sweater.”
It’s cold, damn it. October is cold.
Yixing walks home.
He keeps his house neat--at least, in neat-ish piles--and picks up the overflowing mess of paper on his welcome mat with a frown. “One-fifteen off your first purchase, buy one get one half off!” He’ll cut the relevant coupons out with pinking shears on a Sunday, unless he finds a pair of scissors. Fishing out a ballpoint pen from his pocket, Yixing writes GET SCISSORS BACK FROM JONGDAE on the front page and shuts the door behind him.
He could write a novel tonight. Or record a new song.
The television blinks on after he mashes down the power button. Yixing settles himself on the couch and lets the weather channel play him to sleep.
It’s dark when he wakes.
Yixing blinks hard, pushing the sleep away from the edges of awareness. Dark and cold--he can hear the wind rattling windowpanes above the noise of the city. The sound reverberates off the metal fire escapes that ring the building. He can vaguely remember a soft voice and the looped image of grey clouds, today’s temperature is a low of forty-seven degrees.
The wind doesn’t rattle the glass.
“You could always use the door,” Yixing grumbles. He pulls himself off the couch and yanks off his worker’s apron, green logo draped face-down over the back of the nearest chair. “I have a phone, too. It works.”
His clumsy fingers finally unlatching the window, Yixing steps aside to let his guest in--and slams it hurriedly shut to avoid the chill. “The stairs would have killed you?” He throws a faded orange sweatshirt at Lu Han’s head.
“I did use the stairs.” Voice muffled, Lu Han pulls the fabric over his head and keeps the smile on his face. His arms are too long for it. “Hey, it’s really cold outside.”
Lu Han’s wrists stick out of the sweatshirt. They’re cold to the touch, like the rest of him--Yixing knows he’s cold, too, because it’s forty-seven degrees outside and he can’t afford to repair his radiator. Even the blankets are cold.
Lu Han shivers. Yixing pulls the covers over thin shoulders and ignores the smell of smoke. He’ll wash the blankets later. He inches closer, body savoring the warmth, and closes his eyes.
When Yixing wakes, Lu Han is gone. He finds a new bottle of juice in the fridge, freshly opened, and puts the orange sweatshirt in the laundry hamper.
He relocks the window before he leaves for work.
“Grapefruits can kill you,” Yixing hums, stocking up cans of soup in pyramids in Aisle 4. “Citrus juice should never, da-da-dum, go in your eyes.”
November is even colder. Lu Han’s wrists are still thin; Yixing shares his employee discounts with him. Lu Han leaves messages written in the frost of the windows.
Kris always orders girly beer.
Yixing can remember furtive sips stolen in high school as bright-eyed freshmen--Kris never drank lagers the way the rest of them would, preferring fruity vodka-and-rums in solo cups, like college kids in the movies. The heavy German brews favored by their seniors were always avoided, except when Yixing was in his post-punk phase and could never remember if Wurlitzer was a pipe organ or a beer.
Meeting him at a certain class of dive that doesn’t serve anything with a mainstream label usually results in Yixing’s wallet making him sleep on the couch, but Kris swears by the stupidly-named local brew.
Yixing buys himself a cheap water.
“And you don’t, you know, bump uglies in the night with him?” He groans at the phrase, winding up to punch Kris on the arm. “Just sayin’,” Kris shrugs; it’s a real point, because Yixing doesn’t know anyone else who has the kind of relationship that he does with Lu Han.
“In some cultures,” Kris continues, ignoring the thunk-thunk-thunk of Yixing’s forehead making friends with the sticky end table, “You’re probably married already. You should make an honest deer out of him.”
“I’m not sleeping with him,” Yixing grits out, dipping a paper napkin in Kris’ untouched water glass. He wipes at his forehead, wincing at the sensation, and finishes by folding up the used napkin on Kris’ wet coaster.
“Technically, you are.” Unperturbed by Yixing, Kris flags down a server and cheerfully hands over the water glass. “And another Flower Power, thanks.”
“I’m sharing my bed with him. He looks pathetic. It’d be like shooting a, a really big-eyed thing. A goldfish. A dog. Take your pick.” Yixing nudges at the newest glass of amber-colored girly beer and watches Kris eyeball it. “Just drink. Please.”
“Whatever, man. Beer is an experience.”
Yixing hangs his keys next to the door and sheds his coat. Tonight’s weather: the cold front is rolling in now, with the temperature settling down to about forty-four degrees. He unlatches the window first, keeping the familiar orange sweatshirt nearby the bed, and boils water for dumplings.
“So, like. You don’t think it’s weird that you have him in your bed and you’re making him wear more clothes?”
“My radiator’s broken.”
“I’m just saying. It’s usually the other way around. You know, for the rest of us.”
The bottom of Lu Han’s sweater, a dark blue thing with a physics joke Yixing doesn’t understand, still pokes out from underneath the orange sweatshirt. “Why do I always get this one?” he asks, wrinkling his nose.
He drops the subject when Yixing sets the table. Lu Han flicks the television off and steals grains of rice from his bowl.
“Good night,” Yixing whispers. Lu Han snuffles, eyes sealed shut, and turns toward the only source of heat in the bed.
He’s always been a heavy sleeper.
Yixing wakes to the smell of coffee brewing in his kitchen. The floor is freezing under his socked feet.
He piles all the pasta goods into empty shopping carts. Buy one, get one free! By Christmas, he thinks, he can repair the radiator.
“Are you sure you don’t mind?”
Lu Han sits atop the stairs, leaning his head against the wall. His hands are in his pockets. He looks cold.
Yixing shifts, both hands full of discounted groceries in rustling plastic.
“Are you sure,” Lu Han repeats, “You don’t mind?” He stands up, offering a hand--and the bags are heavy in Yixing’s hands. He hands over half, red lines running over the undersides of his fingers. They ache, the dull pain sharpened by the cold, as he fishes in his pocket for his keys.
Yixing puts his purchases away by himself.
“‘Cause, you know, if I bother you, you should probably say so.” Lu Han’s voice drifts from the bedroom. His tiny apartment feels huge.
“You can’t sleep,” he replies quietly. “And you’re right. If you did bother me, I’d tell you so.” Yixing thinks about the stitches on Lu Han’s blue sweater, it’s not the size of the vector that counts, and suppresses the image of his sleeping face inches away from his own. “I don’t mind.”
He could write a song about that. How Lu Han’s face had twisted when he’d said, I don’t want--it’s not about--I can’t sleep. I just can’t sleep. The dark circles under his eyes had made him look so brittle.
“I don’t mind at all.”
Lu Han lives upstairs. Yixing knows he’s barely in, because he never hears the telltale creak of floorboards or door hinges. The only time he really sees Lu Han is when he’s sleeping--and he kicks like he still plays football--but Yixing doesn’t mind in the least.
He’s mostly over the awe that came with watching Lu Han interact with people; when he was a high school sophomore trying to impress people with his garage bands, Yixing had watched Lu Han, too. Lu Han’s voice carries the same inflection no matter where he goes, the same Hello given to someone at work and to gangly, awkward Yixing. Kris thought the torch he’d carried was funny, until it burned itself out after college.
“I thought you used to--” and he’d made a hideous gesture with one massive hand, the other mitt dwarfing a bottle of Hoegaarden.
Yixing had shielded his eyes and steadfastly ignored him. “I’m over it. It was years ago.”
When Lu Han kicks him too frequently, turning over and curling against Yixing’s chest, he doesn’t stay asleep. The hazy world between awareness and dreaming lets him welcome the heat. November is vicious.
The jolt of his waking conscience pushes Yixing out of bed as quietly as possible. Lu Han pulls at the covers and stretches his heavy arms into the space where Yixing’s body had left an imprint.
Yixing pads away from the bedroom in the dark. He thinks about Lu Han in bed, underneath the heavy comforters that had been worth every overpriced penny, and plugs a salvaged pair of headphones into a Casio keyboard. He switches it awake.
“Come back to bed.”
At five in the morning, Lu Han appears in the living room like a ghost--as if he’d come down the fire escape and phased his way into Yixing’s apartment. His clothes are wrinkled. Yixing’s pillows had left their mark on Lu Han’s cheek.
Yixing takes off his headphones. Lu Han presses his lips into a soft frown and repeats, “Come back to bed, please.”
He thinks about the taste of surprise in his mouth when he’d seen Lu Han after all those years, taking the same elevator in the same building.
Yixing had repeated his name like a dream. “Lu Han?” He looks--taller, for one--and it acutely pushes into Yixing’s head the way he himself looks, all worn-through sweatshirts and loosely-knit scarves. “What are you doing here?”
Lu Han had lost the guarded element in his smile. “Yixing? Zhang Yixing?” He’d even laughed. “I live here.”
Of course he did. The cosmic barter store could take Yixing’s luck and exchange it for a bag of winter. “I’m the second floor.” And the elevator had felt huge, the space between Lu Han and Yixing closer than they’d ever been, despite jostling together in the hallways at school.
“Third. I guess that makes us neighbors.” And the smile hadn’t left his face, even when he had said goodbye while the elevator doors were closing. It stayed with him while he piled apples on the shelves the next day. It followed him, becoming an immediate reaction to the sight of Lu Han at all.
“Oh, man. Let me help you with that.”
The store’s extra shipments of food had left them overstocked--and he’d wanted it, damn it. “Thanks.” He’d groaned at the burden of it while walking home, thankfully lessening when Lu Han halved the weight with careful hands.
Yixing had written the lyrics using food items to measure out the downbeats that night. He’d tacked up his receipt next to blank sheet music and scribbled, ignoring the memory of music college and all its rules of lyricism. His Casio had sounded gentle that night, hesitant fingers pushing the song into melody.
And the week after, Lu Han had knocked on the windows. He’d perched on the fire escape and looked so thin, so sad--the contours of his face bruised from lack of sleep--and Yixing had let him in without question.
“Can’t sleep?” A quirk twitches Lu Han’s mouth into a smile. He crosses his arms and watches Yixing switch off his keyboard.
“It’s cold,” he says, leaving his headphones to rest on the sleeping face of his Casio.
“Well, it’s warm where I am.” In the pieces of moonlight sifted through his second-floor windows, even the hideous shade of orange looks soft. Lu Han yawns. “And I promise I won’t kick.”
Yixing follows Lu Han back to bed.