Word Count: 5700
Summary: Xiumin isn't sure when food became the enemy. Luhan isn't sure when the Minseok he fell in love with became Xiumin.
Warning: This fic contains eating disorders, self-harm, suicide(past) and mild language
It's hard being Minseok.
The first time Xiumin's weight comes back up he locks himself in the bathroom and Lu Han bangs on the door screaming for Xiumin to unlock it. Xiumin ignores him and searches frantically for his razors before he remembers that he and Lu Han gathered them all up and threw them away a week ago. So instead of cutting himself Xiumin bites down hard on his wrists and smashes his head on the wall and screams at the top of his lungs and heaves into the toilet until his eyes are streaming and his throat feels like he's swallowed his razors.
Lu Han kicks the door down and grabs Xiumin, pulling him out of the bathroom. Xiumin struggles a little but the feeling of Lu Han holding him is somehow calming him down. He lets Lu Han lead him to his bed and they lie together, Lu Han's arms capturing Xiumin in a warm cage. Xiumin is curled in the fetal position and he sobs into Lu Han's chest while Lu Han just mutters a nonsensical stream of Mandarin and strokes Xiumin's hair.
It gets easier after that. Not by much, but easier. Lu Han gets rid of the scale and removes the lock from the bathroom door. Xiumin is not allowed to go the bathroom immediately after lunch unless Lu Han goes with him. Lu Han makes Xiumin eat.
It's a slow process. Xiumin isn't used to eating regular meals, and his stomach is so shrunken he probably would throw up if he ate too much too fast. And there's still the fact that seeing food triggers all of his fears: the fear of getting fat again, the fear of losing all control of himself, the fear that he won't be good enough, the fear that Lu Han will leave again. But Lu Han is there and he always seems to know what Xiumin is thinking.
"You aren't getting fat, you're getting healthy."
"You won't lose control of yourself, I won't let you."
"My Minseok is the best!"
"I'm not going to leave you."
The last one is always whispered, when they are cuddling on one of the beds and Xiumin wakes up from a fitful sleep and grabs fistfuls of Lu Han's shirt, confirming, for the thousandth time, that Lu Han is still there.
Lu Han smiles and kisses Xiumin before looking into his eyes and telling him what Xiumin needs to hear.
"I'm here. I'm not going to leave you again."
Falling hurts more when you're up high.
It's been a month since Xiumin swore to be healthy. Lu Han still complains about Xiumin's elbows but they both know that Xiumin is healthier. The world no longer swims in front of Xiumin's eyes and climbing up stairs doesn't turn his vision black. His scars are healed and, true to his promise with Lu Han, Xiumin hasn't cut himself again. He no longer shudders at the sight of food but he's still…careful.
It's been a month since their first kiss. They brush hands while walking in the halls, fingers catching for the briefest of instances before slipping away. Lu Han plays with Xiumin's hair during class. This frustrates Xiumin since he sits in front of Lu Han and therefore can't turn around and make out with his….boyfriend?
The term doesn't really describe Lu Han, and what he means to Xiumin. No, what he means to Minseok. While he's still Xiumin at school and to the rest of the world, Lu Han refuses to call him anything but Minseok, and so, in Lu Han's arms, Xiumin is Minseok again. So what do you call a person like that?
What do you call the person you love enough to live for?
Xiumin walks out of the bathroom brushing his teeth to see Lu Han frowning at his calendar. Xiumin resists the urge to giggle at just how adorable Lu Han looks when he's confused and walks over to the Chinese boy.
"What happens on the seventh?" Lu Han asks, looking up as Xiumin approaches.
"What?" Xiumin says, the toothbrush in his mouth turning it to "Bwuh?"
Lu Han holds out Xiumin's calendar. The 7th of October is circled in red. Xiumin thinks for a moment, popping the toothbrush out of his mouth.
"Oh!" he exclaims, before spitting into his mug. "The seventh is my mom's birthday. I completely forgot."
"Only you could forget your mom's birthday," Lu Han snorts.
"Hey! I only forgot because I'm living in the dorms. If I was home then she would've made sure that I remembered her birthday."
"Right," Lu Han says in a tone that indicates he doesn't believe a word Xiumin says.
Xiumin smacks Lu Han's arm lightly and goes back into the bathroom to finish brushing his teeth. When he comes out he hears the chime that indicates he just got a text. He glances at the screen.
With a feeling of guilt he opens the message. It was like his mom knew he'd forgotten her birthday.
Minseok, your father and I want you to have dinner with us on my birthday. Please come? :)
Usually he laughs at his mom's usage of emoticons, but the first part of the message is the only thing he can see. His numb fingers loosen their grip on his phone and it falls to the floor, miraculously not breaking.
Lu Han's voice seems very far away.
"Minseok, what's wrong?"
Oh god. His father.
"What a disappointment."
No. No please…He feels like he's being dragged down into something cold and dark.
"Minseok!" Lu Han yells, grabbing Xiumin's shoulder. Xiumin yelps and spins around.
"Oh, um," he splutters as Lu Han stares at him.
"Who texted you?" Lu Han asks quietly, taking Xiumin's hand and rubbing it gently.
Lu Han waits for a minute before prodding Xiumin.
"And? What did she say?"
"She wants me to have dinner with her and my father," Xiumin says tonelessly.
"That bothers you."
It isn't a question. Xiumin nods anyway.
Xiumin gazes off into the distance, afraid that the cold, dark something is going to drag him down again, but Lu Han's hand seems to anchor him to reality.
"I…I don't have a great relationship with my father. He is disappointed in me. I've never been good enough for him."
He didn't think saying that would make him cry, but as Lu Han's hand reaches up to wipe Xiumin's cheek, Xiumin realizes that tears are flowing.
"My Minseok is the best, though," Lu Han whispers. Xiumin bows his head and sinks to his knees, still holding Lu Han's hand. Lu Han ends up kneeling as well, and he pats Xiumin's back as Xiumin just makes strange sounds that seem to be somewhere between sobs and cat noises.
"Would it be easier if I went with you?" Lu Han asks softly.
Xiumin looks up, a little startled that Lu Han would offer to do that.
"Um…if you wouldn't mind….?" Xiumin says in a thick voice.
Lu Han smiles, his eyes crinkling at the edges, and nods.
"I wouldn't mind at all."
"I'll ask my mom if I can bring you. She'll probably say yes, she always told me I needed more friends, and well-"
Lu Han's lips cut him off.
"We aren't exactly friends, Minseok," Lu Han says as he pulls away.
Xiumin blushes a little but doesn't contradict him because he's still not sure what to call Lu Han. Boyfriend? Too trivial. Lover? They haven't had sex yet, so no. Savior? That was closer, but still not right.
But they were definitely not "friends".
Xiumin taps out his text, his fingers shaking just a little from the kiss and the prospect of an entire dinner with his father.
alright i'll come. is it okay if i bring a friend?
Lu Han is reading over his shoulder and makes a noise when Xiumin types "friend" but pretends he didn't when Xiumin shoots him a look.
There are a few tense minutes while Xiumin waits for a reply and Lu Han sits behind him, his arms around Xiumin's waist and his chin resting on his Minseok's shoulder.
Finally the reply comes and Xiumin freaks out and drops the phone again.
"You are very rough with your phone. It's going to break before the school year is over," Lu Han teases.
Xiumin rolls his eyes and looks at his mom's text.
Oh that's great! Of course you can bring your friend. Is it a girl? ;)
Xiumin feels panicked and a little guilty as he texts her back.
no mom its a boy. hes a friend.
Lu Han makes a noise again. Xiumin frowns at him.
"She doesn't know you're my…she doesn't know I like you. It's not exactly something I can tell her over a text," he says, feeling a little angry at Lu Han because of his existence in Xiumin's life that can't be put into words or named.
Lu Han sighs.
"I know, I know. But…tell her soon okay? I don't want to be just a 'friend' forever."
"I'll try," Xiumin says honestly.
Telling mom will be easy. It's my father I'm worried about.
43kg. There is a person I love.
The dinner with his parents is at six o'clock. His father will not tolerate lateness. Even so, Xiumin puts off leaving the dorms as long as he possibly can, running his hands down his light blue dress shirt to smooth out the nonexistent wrinkles and staring at his hollow-cheeked reflection in the mirror.
Finally, Lu Han tugs his Minseok out of the bathroom and out of the dorm and onto the bus before Xiumin has time to process what's going on. On the bus though, Xiumin slumps and buries his face in his hands, already imagining the looks on his parents' faces. He hasn't been home in a year, and he's changed so much. Will they even recognize him?
Lu Han drapes an arm around Xiumin and squeezes lightly.
"I'm scared," Xiumin mutters into his hands.
"It'll be okay," Lu Han replies in the gentle voice that he uses when he knows Xiumin is about to shatter. "Just remember, to me, you are the best."
Xiumin nods and lifts his head.
"So," Lu Han says with a smile, "I've been wondering for a while now, but what do you want to do after we graduate?"
Xiumin thinks for a while. To be honest he hadn't really thought about it. For the longest time he'd been focused on being skinny.
"Well," he begins softly, "when I was a kid I loved to take pictures. I told my mom I wanted to be a photographer."
"Really? I want to be a model. Maybe if you get famous you can take pictures of me," Lu Han says, pinching Xiumin's cheek gently.
Xiumin snorts and rolls his eyes before slipping his hand into Lu Han's and tangling their fingers together. The rest of the ride is spent in silence, Xiumin gripping Lu Han's hand tightly and Lu Han's thumb tracing lazy circles on the back of Minseok's hand.
When the bus finally halts at their stop, Xiumin lets go of Lu Han's hand and toddles off of the bus, wondering if any of this is real and when is he going to wake up. Then the chilly wind bites at his cheekbones and he remembers its not a dream. After looking to his left to make sure that Lu Han is still following him, Xiumin starts to walk towards his house.
Lu Han's hand slips into Xiumin's and stays there until they reach the front door and Xiumin reluctantly pulls away to ring the door bell.
Xiumin hears his mother before she even reaches the door. For a tiny woman she makes a lot of noise, and she almost throws the door open in her excitement.
"Minse- I mean, Xiumin!" she says with a smile brighter than the sun. Xiumin smiles back genuinely. She remembered that he doesn't like to be called Minseok anymore. He feels a little bad about it, his mother had named him after all, but after middle school he didn't want to hear his own name anymore.
"Hi mom," he says, before his mother almost knocks him off his feet with a tight hug.
"Xiumin you're so thin!" she exclaims, stepping back and reaching up to hold Xiumin's face. "Don't they feed you at your school?"
Xiumin opens his mouth to answer but finds he can't get any words out. Lu Han takes one look at Xiumin's face, then steps forward and bows to Xiumin's mother, distracting her from Xiumin's wasted form.
"Hello, Mrs. Kim. My name is Lu Han. I'm a friend of Minseok's."
Lu Han is smiling that dazzling, eye crinkle smile and Xiumin's mother blinks a few times before whispering to her son, "Are you sure that he's a boy?"
"Mom," Xiumin rolls his eyes and laughs.
Xiumin's throat goes dry. The single word unleashes the cold wave of darkness that pulls at his ankles, threatening to suck him down.
"What a disappointment."
He looks to the door and sees his father, all crisp lines and hard features, blinking indifferently at his wife and son and some strange Chinese boy his son has brought along. The corners of his mouth twitch down before returning to a thin blank line.
"This was supposed to be a family dinner," his father says, with the same coldness Xiumin remembers so well.
Somehow Xiumin finds his voice. It's tiny and subdued, but it's there.
"Mom said I could bring him."
His father looks at his mother and waits for an explanation.
"I said it was fine. I didn't think it would be a big deal. I don't mind sharing my birthday with my son's friend," Mrs. Kim crosses her arms and stares down her husband. Finally Mr. Kim purses his lips, turns on his heel, and walks down the hall without another word.
Xiumin lets out a breath he didn't know he was holding and follows, pausing to take off his shoes. Lu Han brushes Xiumin's arm gently and smiles.
"So….that's why you didn't want to come?" Lu Han whispers.
Xiumin nods, hanging up his coat and brushing the wrinkles from his shirt.
"I like your mom. She's a lot like you. You even have the same face."
Xiumin makes a face at Lu Han.
"You think I look like a girl?" Xiumin whispers back, bumping Lu Han's shoulder playfully.
"Your mom thinks I look like a girl," Lu Han retorts, winking at Xiumin.
Xiumin snorts in laughter and leads Lu Han to the dining room. As he walks into the dining room, he catches sight of his father, sitting at the head of the table, and the laughter melts from Xiumin's face. Meekly he walks to his seat and gestures for Lu Han to sit beside him. Lu Han frowns, but sits next to his Minseok.
The food is already on the table and Xiumin waits while his mother serves it. He can't help himself from stealing furtive looks at his father, who is rigid and silent but still, in Xiumin's mind, dangerous. Once the food is served Xiumin starts eating, focusing solely on chewing and swallowing so that he doesn't have to look at his father.
Mrs. Kim is chatting with Lu Han, asking him about China and how he likes Korea and is my son eating properly and does he have a girlfriend yet he's such a handsome young man I don't know why he isn't dating anyone.
Lu Han answers her questions but when she asks about Xiumin and girlfriends he just smiles and shakes his head.
"He doesn't have a girlfriend, but there is someone who likes him," Lu Han says, stealthily reaching under the table to hold Xiumin's hand. Xiumin can't help the blush that burns his face and prays that his father doesn't notice it.
But he does.
"Minseok. If you have time to think about girls, then you have time to improve your grades. Do you really expect to become a doctor if you continue slacking off in class?"
It feels like every bite of food Xiumin has swallowed has turned to lead. For the first time in weeks all he wants to do is run to the bathroom and purge himself. Lu Han seems to notice because he squeezes Xiumin's hand hard.
Xiumin wants to say that he doesn't want to be a doctor, that he doesn't want his father to control his life anymore, that for just one second in his life can his father show that he loves his son. But he's never been able to say that before and tonight is no different.
"I understand," he manages to croak.
"Don't disappoint me again," his father says flatly.
The words echo in Xiumin's head and he feels the cold darkness sucking at the edges of his vision. Xiumin lets go of Lu Han's hand and stands up.
"I need to use the bathroom," he whispers, staring at his half-eaten plate of food.
Before he takes two steps Lu Han jumps up and grabs his arm. For such a feminine looking boy he has a strong grip.
"Minseok," Lu Han says, staring into Xiumin's eyes. Xiumin knows he looks empty. His father has that effect on people. Xiumin sees pure anger kindle in Lu Han's eyes and before he can stop the Chinese boy, Lu Han glares at the rigid figure of Mr. Kim.
"Minseok isn't disappointing. He wants to be a photographer."
"Lu Han," Xiumin whispers, looking frantically at his father. Lu Han ignores him and continues to speak at Xiumin's father.
"He's funny and he's way too stubborn. He always leaves the cap off of the toothpaste and forgets to tuck in his shirt. He has the boniest elbows known to man because he stopped eating for an entire year because a stupid kid called him fat. He cuts himself when he's sad. He gets scared when his weight goes back up. He's terrified of you. You make his smile fall off his face and his eyes go dead and I've worked too hard to bring his smile back and you are not going to take it away again!"
Xiumin stares at Lu Han, who is breathing hard, his eyes wide and his cheeks flushed.
"I see that you have made a poor choice in friends, Minseok," Xiumin's father says coldly.
Xiumin looks at his father, a strange sort of burning sensation pushing away the cold dark something in his chest.
"What?" he says softly.
"I could overlook the fact that he's Chinese, and the fact that he has intruded on our family dinner. But obviously a boy who speaks in such a disrespectful way has had a poor upbringing. He seems to think that he knows what's best for you, when we both know that you-"
"Don't you dare talk about Lu Han like that," Xiumin growls, surprising even himself. He's never talked back to his father. Never. But hearing him put down Lu Han sparks the tinder that's been sitting for a long time.
"You've never cared about what's best for me. You've always told me that I was a disappointment, that I was stupid, that I wasn't good enough. Lu Han doesn't. You didn't even care that I cut myself. Lu Han did. I was killing myself and Lu Han noticed. You didn't," Xiumin knows he's crying but he can't stop talking now. "So don't you dare say that you know me. You've never known me and you've never wanted to. I don't want to be a doctor. I work my ass off for my grades but I'm sorry that I'm not good enough for you. I always try so hard to please you and all I get is you telling me that I disappoint you. I'm sick of it."
Xiumin stops to wipe his eyes and then stares at his father, hoping to see some sort of reaction. Maybe an apology, like Lu Han, or just some sort of explanation. Even a change in facial expression. But his father just stares back at him blankly and Xiumin feels an insane laugh bubbling up inside of him. What comes out, though, is a gurgling sob. He takes a deep breath and bows to his father.
Then he walks over to his mother and hugs her.
"I'm sorry I ruined your birthday, mom," he murmurs before grabbing Lu Han and walking to the front door.
Xiumin's yanking on his shoes when he realizes that his mom followed him. He looks at her, dreading that she'll want him to stay, but instead she just hugs him before pulling away and touching her son's face.
"Oh, my little boy," she says with tears in her eyes. "I'm so sorry. I should've realized."
Xiumin half smiles.
"It's okay. I didn't want you to worry."
His mom presses her lips together, then smiles as her eyes flit over Lu Han. He's standing next to the door, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
"He loves you," she says suddenly, and Xiumin blushes and splutters. She gives Xiumin a knowing look.
"You love him too."
Xiumin didn't think it was possible for him to blush more but he feels his cheeks get even hotter.
"Is it that obvious?" he mutters under his breath.
"Well, you let him call you Minseok. You don't even let me do that," she says, pinching Xiumin's cheek gently. Her face turns serious as she looks at Lu Han.
"Take care of my son."
Lu Han smiles and reaches out to take one of Xiumin's hands.
The exhibition is large, celebrating one of the up-and-coming photographers in Seoul. His various works have been praised for their simplicity and depth of emotion, but in reality most of the people who are mingling in formal wear only know the photographer for one photo, a portrait, that was published rather recently. This photo is the centerpiece of the collection and has a place of honor, a crowd of admirers, and spotlights shining on it.
The model in the photo is long, slim, and androgynously beautiful. He's naked, his back is to the camera and he's looking over his shoulder, his eyes half-lidded and seductive. The light has been manipulated to reflect almost blindingly off of his porcelain skin, and his blonde hair curls around his ears and tickles the tops of his eyebrows. His arms are crossed in front of his chest, so the only part of them you can see are his upper arms and four fingers splayed on his left shoulder. A white sheet is rumpled around the model's lower body, and there is not much distinction between the fabric and the model's skin.
The small nameplate next to the large photo identifies the photo as "Venus #2". Under the name of the photograph are the names of the model and photographer.
Model: Lu Han
Photographer: Kim Xiumin
Xiumin stands in front of "Venus #2" in a tuxedo, holding a glass of champagne and making small talk with various gushing women and feeling extremely out of place; never mind that this exhibition was supposed to be for him. If he'd known that there would be so many people he didn't know at this stupid thing he never would've come. Well not willingly, he's sure that Lu Han would've kicked down the door of Xiumin's darkroom, ignoring Xiumin's wailing about ruined photos, and dragged his lover out to have a good time whether Xiumin wanted to or not.
Actually that was almost exactly what had happened, now that Xiumin thought about it. He'd forgotten about the exhibition and had been down in his darkroom when Lu Han burst in and dragged Xiumin out. Lu Han had dressed both of them and had them out the door before Xiumin could ask where they were going, and now he was standing in a room full of people who had probably come only because Lu Han, the famous model, was attending.
Xiumin sighs and sips his champagne. Then he realizes that one of the gushing women had asked him a question.
"I sorry, what?" he asks, blinking at her.
She raises an eyebrow and repeats her question.
"I asked if you were single, Mr. Kim."
Xiumin chokes on his champagne. The woman steps back with a look of annoyance as Xiumin nearly sprays his drink all over her expensive fancy dress.
"Um, er, yes, I mean, no, I mean, um," Xiumin stammers, wiping his mouth.
Suddenly he hears Lu Han's laugh ringing out behind him. He turns around and sees Lu Han doing that adorable thing he does when he laughs, where he loses all control of his facial expression and bends almost double with glee. It's usually Minseok who makes him laugh like that, but instead of Minseok it's a tall devastatingly handsome man with a gummy smile.
Xiumin's knuckles go white and his champagne flute threatens to shatter. The woman interested in his relationship status is forgotten as Xiumin strides forward, his eyes locked on the man making Lu Han laugh. Within seconds he's at Lu Han's side, glaring up at the tall man. It's at times like this that he really regrets going through his skinny period, since it messed up his growth and he's easily the shortest man among the three.
The tall man raises an amused eyebrow and says something to Lu Han in Mandarin. Lu Han giggles and replies and Xiumin feels like crushing his champagne glass in his bare hands. Xiumin's learned some Mandarin from Lu Han but the conversation is going too fast for him and Lu Han is laughing and the tall guy is smiling that ridiculous gummy smile and Xiumin thinks he's going to start screaming when Lu Han reaches out and pinches Xiumin's cheeks.
"Minseokkie," he coos, and Xiumin blushes despite himself. "I'd like you to meet Wu Fan. He'sh the editor for EXO magazine. He'd like to interview you and feature shome of your photosh."
"You're drunk," Xiumin states, a little coldly. Lu Han only calls him Minseokkie when he's drunk. Lu Han pouts and slings his arms around Xiumin.
"Only a little bit," he whines, suddenly giggling. "It's a shelebration for you after all."
Wu Fan coughs a bit awkwardly and extends his hand to Xiumin, who shakes it, still glaring at the taller Chinese man.
"Yes, well," Wu Fan says in a smooth voice. "I'd like to run a piece on you and your work. To be honest your photos are some of my favorites. Well one photo in particular anyway."
Xiumin finds himself turning back to "Venus #2", sure that Wu Fan's favorite photo is of Lu Han, but the bass chuckle of the tall Chinese man makes him turn back.
"While that is probably your most well known photo at the moment, that's not my favorite. This one is." Wu Fan gestures behind him to a significantly smaller photo. It's tucked away in a less prominent space in the gallery, no doubt because it was not "Venus #2" and did not feature a nude Lu Han.
It's one of the first photos Xiumin every took. The photo is black and white, and it is a picture of a hip. It fills most of the frame, and while it is apparent the model is nude, the focus of the photo is on the four parallel scars that mar the otherwise smooth hips. Two hands touch these scars. One is Lu Han's; his hands are immediately recognizable. The other hand is not known, but the fingers of the two hands overlap, the fingertips just grazing the top scar.
The small nameplate reads:
Model: Minseok, Lu Han
Photographer: Kim Xiumin
"I've wondered for years who Minseok was. I thought he was an unknown model, but I couldn't find him anywhere. Then I thought maybe he was just your brother or your cousin that you dragged into a photo. And then when you walked over here, Lu Han called you Minseokkie. So," Wu Fan says, looking at Xiumin curiously. "Are you Minseok?"
Lu Han giggles again and plays with Xiumin's tie. Xiumin deposits his empty champagne glass on a passing waiter's tray and slips his arm around Lu Han's waist to support the drunken man. It's only after Xiumin is sure that Lu Han isn't going to fall over that he answers Wu Fan's question.
"Only for him."
By the time Lu Han is mostly sober, the exhibition is over and the only people left in the gallery are Xiumin, Lu Han, and one extremely drunk man who is sleeping in a dark corner at the back of the room.
They're sitting on the floor in front of "Venus #2" with a bottle of wine and two wineglasses. Both men have shed their suit jackets and Xiumin has rolled his sleeves up while Lu Han has unbuttoned his shirt entirely. Lu Han scoots a little closer to Xiumin and nudges him with his elbow.
"Congratulations, Minseok," he grins, reaching for Xiumin's hand and squeezing it lightly. "People are starting to recognize your talent."
"Please. The only reason people came was because of that." He points to "Venus #2" and takes another gulp of wine. "Not that I blame them. You do look pretty seductive."
Lu Han laughs in his unrestrained way, and Xiumin is pleased that it is him, and not Wu Fan, that is making Lu Han smile. Lu Han's laughter fades into a contented sigh and he rests his head on Xiumin's shoulder. Xiumin's breath hitches a little. Even after all these years, the slightest touch from Lu Han is enough to send his heart hammering. Absently he fingers the object in his pocket, hesitates, and then downs the rest of his wine before wiggling out from under Lu Han's head.
Lu Han is puzzled. He's not completely drunk right now, but he's definitely buzzed and he blinks at Xiumin with those huge doe eyes.
Xiumin takes a shuddering breath and hopes that he's not so drunk that he'll mess this up.
"Lu Han," he begins, and Lu Han smiles at him. Instinctively Xiumin picks up one of Lu Han's hands and starts rubbing small circles with his thumb. He starts talking again, unable to look at Lu Han's face, so he speaks to Lu Han's hand.
"Ever since I met you, I've been trying to figure out what you are to me. It was easy at first. First you were a stranger. Then you were my friend. Then you were my enemy. And then somewhere along the way I fell in love with you and then I didn't know what you were anymore. Lover, boyfriend, partner, none of those really fit. You were just…Lu Han. My Lu Han. I just didn't know how to explain that to anyone. But I know what I want to call you now."
He releases Lu Han's hand and fumbles in his pocket for the little box that he's been toying with for the past hour and a half. With shaking hands and a pounding heart, he looks up at Lu Han, half afraid of what he'll see in Lu Han's eyes. Lu Han is crying and Xiumin knows that he's blushing and he whispers the next words in Mandarin, trying to let Lu Han know just how much Minseok loves him, how much he appreciates the fact that Lu Han saved him, how much he means these words.
"I want to call you my husband."
The ring in the box is simple, a gold band with no other ornamentation, but Lu Han grabs Xiumin and crashes their lips together, his hands coming up to cup Minseok's face as he sobs into the kiss.
"I love you."
"I love you."
I love you.
Back in their apartment, lying naked on the bed with their legs tangled in the crisp sheets, Lu Han lifts his left hand up and admires the ring.
"You know," he says, turning his face to kiss Minseok. "It's about damn time. What made you finally ask me to marry you?"
Xiumin smirks and trails his fingers across Lu Han's chest, pausing briefly to flick Lu Han's nipple. Lu Han squirms and makes an annoyed sound.
"Well my mom called, actually," Xiumin says, resting his hand on Lu Han's stomach. "She asked me when she was finally going to get some grandchildren."
Lu Han bursts out laughing and turns on his side to face his Minseok.
"Does your mom still think I'm secretly a girl?"
Xiumin grins and kisses Lu Han on the corner of the mouth.
"No. She just likes to tease you."
Lu Han sticks out his tongue at Xiumin before becoming serious.
"How's your dad?"
Xiumin doesn't say anything for a while, just plays with Lu Han's fingers and breathes.
"He called. To congratulate me. On the exhibition. I don't know if mom made him do it, but…" he trails off and smiles a little. "It's a start, right?"
Lu Han nods and smiles.
They fall silent, just drinking in each other's company. Xiumin can feel Lu Han's eyes roving across his body, as if confirming that his Minseok is eating, his Minseok is healthy, that there are no new scars drawn across the lines of the old.
Xiumin looks into Lu Han's eyes and smiles.
"I've kept my promise, Lu Han," he whispers.
"Thank you, Minseok," Lu Han whispers back.
They fall asleep the way they always do: legs tangled together, arms draped unceremoniously across the other, foreheads almost touching.
Lu Han falls asleep first, but Xiumin lies awake a little longer, staring at the beautiful man in his arms. Finally, he presses his lips to each of Lu Han's eyes and smiles.
"Thank you, Lu Han. Thank you for everything."
Thank you for loving me.
Thank you for standing up for me.
Thank you for saving my life.