avirjin: (Default)
Title: Fission, Fusion, and the Steps In-Between
Fandom: Exo
Focus: Suho-centric, Kai/Suho (Sehun/Youngho, platonic Sehun/Suho, platonic D.O/Kai, past Kyuhyun/Suho)
Genre: Gen, romance, mild angst
Rating: G
Length: Oneshot, 1000 words
Summary: Junmyeon visits Sehun's friend in the hospital and gets more than he expects after years of bitter kisses and loneliness. Hollow Fusion!AU.

Junmyeon kisses two strangers before breakfast and Sehun over his morning coffee. Sehun's lips are always warmer than anyone else's, even when leaving his own that much cooler -- but never quite enough to chase away the memory of a real spark, of another pair that've been seven years gone. He's long since acquainted himself with this familiar bitterness, but that doesn't stop him from trying to wash away the taste of Sehun's lips with copious amounts of coffee.

"I'm insulted, hyung," Sehun deadpans as he pulls back into a pair of patiently waiting arms, missing how Youngho rolls his eyes.

"If anyone should be insulted, it should be Youngho," Junmyeon laughs as he watches them. He pours another packet of sweetener into his mug, stirring until every last granule dissolves. "People don't typically take well to their partners kissing others."

Youngho smiles, lips drawn tight. Junmyeon understands all too well, recognizes the insincerity when Youngho jokes, "You should just take Sehun hyung off my hands." His arm tightens around Sehun's shoulders and Junmyeon aches. His own shoulders sag under the phantom weight of a boy with lanky limbs and horrible morning breath, pressing down and kissing him underneath doorways until Junmyeon barely had the energy to stand, let alone kiss back.

He takes another sip of his coffee. It still isn't sweet enough, but he smiles anyway.

Hospital visits are routine for Junmyeon, who drops by multiple times a day to help out with lethargic patients in-between his shifts at the neighboring research facility. Zitao once called him 'kind', Jongdae fondly adding 'saintly'. It's nothing like that though; all Junmyeon does is graze some stranger's lips with his own, praying there aren't side effects.

"Junmyeon," the receptionist greets when he follows Sehun into the lobby, a proxy while Youngho's in class. She looks surprised -- probably is surprised -- to see him. He'd dropped by two hours prior and usually didn't have enough energy to make it back for another three, feeling sick and stiff with unreleased tension.

"I'm just here as a visitor," he assures her. Sehun holds up a gaudy get-well card, sprinkling glitter everywhere. Junmyeon had offered to buy a professional one, but Sehun had laughed in his face and spent the money on snacks instead.

Junmyeon doesn't know the story of the guy they're visiting, barely recognizes his name from Sehun's ramblings. People end up here for several reasons, some Junmyeon is more familiar with than others.

Sometimes, it's easier not to know.

"I'll stand out here," he says once outside the door. He spends enough time in these rooms already, still recalls the prickle of starched bedsheets against his fingertips, more tangible than the feeling of loss. The sterility of the hallway is more to his tastes, despite the chill. "I don't even know him."

"Jongin's the shy one, not you, hyung," Sehun laughs, eyes crinkled. He tugs Junmyeon's wrist with all the energy he'd swiped from him earlier and storms into the room. "Jongin! What's u--uh."

The boy leaning over the bed jerks away, as startled as Sehun's bedridden friend. They look embarrassed, the way they're both shrinking into themselves with twin expressions of shock. Junmyeon can't blame either of them really -- it's happened to him several times.

"Kyungsoo," he calls out, recognizing his fellow volunteer, "sorry for interrupting."

Kyungsoo coughs into his hand, an awkward chuckle slipping out. "It's fine, Junmyeon hyung. Jongin and I weren't as compatible as the doctors hoped anyway." Jongin looks down at his sheets miserably, still flustered, much to Sehun's amusement.

"Always said Jongin was too picky," Sehun laughs, "I don't know how Moongyu hyung put up with him for so long."

Another name Junmyeon doesn't remember, but it's not hard to connect the dots. "Your partner?"

"Not anymore."

Junmyeon recognizes that tone. The slump of Jongin's shoulders, the hurt on his face. Most patients wind up here because of temporary separations from their partners, whether out of necessity like business trips or due to petty arguments, stubborn pride. This is not the case.

This is more like his case.

"How about letting me try then?" he finds himself saying. He grabs the clipboard at the foot of Jongin's bed, flipping through the pages to find Jongin's particular wavelengh. He finds a series of graphs and spikes suggesting Jongin's an extremely fastidious receiver. "Sehun wasn't kidding about you being picky, but my energy's pretty indiscriminate. It's worth a shot?"

Jongin looks mutinous at the suggestion, folding into himself.

"Hyung's right," Kyungsoo says, "He's a pretty compatible guy. It could work." There's a gleam in his eyes as he glances between them. He then proceeds to drag Sehun out, catching Junmyeon's eye once more before shutting the door.

"We don't have to do this," Junmyeon immediately offers, meaning it. Rejection's routine, practically tasteless nowadays -- yet his heart pounds when Jongin bites his lip, deliberating.

"But you think it'll help." More than defeated, Jongin sounds cautious. He exhales and closes his eyes. "Fine."

He tenses, barely flinching as Junmyeon settles on the bed and cups his cheek. It's not until Junmyeon's close enough to kiss him that Jongin shudders, his lips parted as Junmyeon presses down feather-light -- the bare minimum for transferring energy.

But there's more. A spark that doesn't come just from the transfer.

A hand grasps his sleeve, tightening as Jongin kisses back with sweet lips. Junmyeon doesn't resist his pull, doesn't break away until Jongin's moan cuts through the haze because for the first time since Cho Kyuhyun had kissed him good-bye years ago, bitterness doesn't linger on his lips, in his heart. He'd almost forgotten the taste of anything else.

He wants seconds.

"Does this mean I can't kiss hyung anymore?" Sehun asks sullenly from outside. The smack of Kyungsoo's hand against his arm echoes, but all Junmyeon registers is Jongin pressing thin fingers against his lips and the familiar, unparalleled warmth of belonging to someone again pulsing in his own.

Prompt: Exoplosion Challenge #2: Awkward
Author's Note: First and foremost, I COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY FAILED THIS CHALLENGE because it was due on 2/2 and it is currently 2/10. I am a failure, please throw stones at me. I was even almost tempted to break the word count, but my sense of duty and shame overrode that particular temptation. I am still deeply ashamed of myself.

Secondly, this is obviously an AU based off of the manga Hollow Fusion (Shinkuu Yuusetsu) in which the premise is that there are two types of people: suppliers and receivers. Suppliers create too much (life) energy within their own bodies after their toddler years whereas receivers do not make enough to sustain themselves. Possessing too much energy or too little is actually detrimental to one's health and could result in death, so people are paired up with partners according to the compatibility of their energy wavelengths so that a supplier may transfer their excess energy to a receiver. This is only possible through kissing. Most people have pretty specific wavelengths, so kissing someone who isn't specifically synced to them can taste from funny to downright nasty. Also, partners =/= lovers, although it's likely for the two to overlap. Since it's a matter of life-or-death, partners are actually valued more. Very rarely do people split from their partners.

Now that the background info's out of the way, I guess I should point out that the suppliers are Suho, Youngho, D.O, and Moongyu while the receivers are Sehun, Kai, and Kyuhyun. Suho was partnered with Kyuhyun until they separated years prior (Kyuhyun already found a new partner, Suho didn't), Sehun and Youngho are partners, Kai and Moongyu were partners until something happened to Moongyu, and D.O still has his own partner (heehee). He just likes volunteering his energy. Suho survives without his partner by offering his own energy up to any receiver friends and patients he meets, which is possible because he is coincidentially very compatible with people and creates excessive energy even for a supplier. Sehun takes advantage of this in spite of having his own partner lol.

I know I never outright state the rules of this AU -- I tried to avoid using the terms "supplier" or "receiver". Instead, I tried my best to naturally weave in as I could about the universe. Basically anything about energy and lips and the taste of these things. The last thing I wanted to do was info-dump, especially with a word limit, so I decided to write based off of the idea that the characters themselves understand how their universe works so there'd be no point in spelling things out. It's a fact of life, like breathing and going to work.

Anyway, back to the story. Long story short, this is basically an analogy of Suho recovering from a break-up of sorts. I'll continue explaining when it's not stupid-o'clock in the morning again e___e For the moment though, it needs to be understood that every single word was pain-stakingly chosen. Except maybe the bratty Sehun parts, those were an indulgence.

ETA: Okay, I'm more awake now e_e so since I covered all of the au background info, I guess now I can focus on the story itself and how it fills the prompt. 

The first section is really a set-up so that Suho's feelings can be acknowledged, in addition adding the parallel of Sehun's kiss to be later compared with Kai's. Suho himself has a parallel in Youngho (who, if anyone doesn't know, is an 95-er SM trainee who was rumored to be close with Sehun) because he's already gone through losing his partner, so he understands Youngho's paranoia about losing Sehun. The whole "people don't typically take well to their partners kissing others" applies to both of them. So basically, Suho knows those feels lmao. The line is also important because, regrettably, I couldn't fit in any other aspects of Suho's jokester personality in. :( Hopefully if I continue this AU in snippets, I can go for it since Suho will be much happier in them.

Anyway, as for all of the coffee and taste imagery, I thought since this was an AU in which kissing is so important (like, Sehun is breaking major taboos by kissing someone who isn't his partner, but people let him have his way), it'd be important to focus on the sensation of taste. Unfortunately I don't actually drink coffee so my knowledge is lacking lmao. But the theme was that Suho, for all of his kind words and gentle smiles and obliging ways, is actually still very bitter about his experiences and that as a coping mechanism, he's spent the past few years trying to drown himself in other things (especially helping other people, as seen later) in hopes of getting his mind off of it. Sehun's lips don't match up to Kyuhyun's, he has to watch partners all around him every day and pretend that it still doesn't hurt that not only does he no longer have a partner, but that his partner willingly split up from him. That's what makes this awkward, not just Suho kissing someone else's partner in front of them, but having to watch two people who are compatible with each other in every way be happy together in front of him. Like he's a third wheel. It's a bitterness that can't be easily washed away, either by time or how many sugar packets he puts in his coffee. Even the stirring motion's a bit symbolic in that it represents the small actions Suho has to take in order to accept how things are. 

Also, the phantom boy is Kyuhyun who was kinda greedy and used to kiss all of the energy out of Suho. Not that Suho minded at the time anyway. 

So. Hospital visit. Here's the reveal of how Suho manages to cope without a partner -- by throwing himself into volunteering up his lips and energy to complete strangers which I guess could be compared to one-night stands if it weren't a life-or-death situation lmao. In Hollow Fusion, if partners get separated for any reason, they tend to volunteer if possible in order to prevent a real deficit or excess of energy from building up and fucking them over. It has to be with someone compatible enough though, otherwise it can lead to the energy not transferring properly or people getting sick on each other. Suho's compatibility's a bit of a miracle because all he has to deal with is the taste of bitterness, so he throws himself into this multiple times a day. Sad, but helpful. The story explicitly goes on to note that this doesn't make him a martyr or an angel though, no matter what others say. He needs it just as much as the patients do. It's not something he wants to do, but something he has to. 

There should also be elements of trauma? Like Suho is so intimately familiar with this hospital not just because of his volunteer work, but because he probably spent some time here after Kyuhyun left. He's so familiar with it and eager to get away that he would rather distance himself and stand in the cold hallway (when he canonically hates the cold) instead of having to face yet another person who's been separated from their partner long enough for an energy deficit to occur. Especially when instead of it being a stranger, it's someone who Sehun wants him to put an actual name and face to.

Then there's awkward interruption of D.O trying to supply Kai with energy, although they're not compatible enough because sorry Kaisoo lmao. If anything they're like Suho and his various pseudo-receivers in that they can pass enough energy between them for a little while, but it's not as pleasant as actually having a partner who's synced with you. The reason D.O's there is because he's a bit of a nurturing type even irl, but he does have his own partner -- BTOB's Hyunsik lol. Yum. Ahem. Then there's insensitive Sehun bringing up Moongyu (a former SM trainee, Taemin and Kai's rl bff) who for some reason or another can no longer supply Kai with energy. He's still alive, but the important thing is that because he can no longer be partnered with Kai, Kai feels abandoned and kinda angry. This actually makes Sehun's "get-well" card both a little more callous but appropriate because as in the case of Suho, how do you "get well soon" from really losing your partner? But it'd be a downright insult to get a professional, detached card. It's a dumb way of showing Sehun cares about Kai. But in the end, even he can't understand, not like Suho can seeing as he's lived through it. 

It's that empathy that allows Suho to offer his services, but just as easily offer a rejection of those services because he knows it's not an easy decision, especially when Kai is still in the early stages of loss. He'd like to help because he can identify with Kai so easily and I guess that's foreshadowing their compatibility as partners. The "rejection's routine, practically tasteless" thing is just another coping mechanism though. Suho's been so numbed over by the bitterness, which is clarified in the "forgotten the taste of anything else" line. But it's that spark when Kai and Suho kiss that reawakens... something in him. Like when you take a bite of something delicious and realize just how hungry you were before, and how you just didn't realize it. Kai's... that bite. That's how the manga seemed to describe kissing anyway, I couldn't draw from personal experience because I've only kissed one guy and it was literal shit lol. 

And then it ends with petulant Sehun being a brat and being the first to acknowledge that Suho and Kai could become actual partners because he just heard Kai moaning loud enough to be heard through the door. And that's awkward. Heehee. But what matters is that Kai felt the connection just as clearly as Suho did and it's supposed to be such a nice and relieving and perfect feeling and yeah. Stupid sappy stuff. Things aren't perfect -- they still have a lot of trauma to work through along with getting used to each other -- but both Suho and Kai are now on the road to recovery as losing something so important. Losing people who were so important. That recovery is important.

Anyway. For the prompt. Awkwardness, right. You'd think as an awkward person I'd be much better at writing awkward moments, but I can't stand them and I hated this prompt so I went for awkward moments. I listed a few here, but really everything is awkward, haha. And finally the title. It was actually pretty hard to pick a title, probably because my brain was dead from trying to finish this /o\ If I had posted it now, I would have titled it "Compatibility" or something. But this title does have some meaning. Firstly, it's a play off of the manga's name Hollow Fusion. Then there's the concept of "fission" -- things splitting, like what happened to Suho and Kai and their partners -- vs the concept of "fusion" -- things coming together like Suho and Kai will. And all the "steps in-between" part refers to how Suho's been living since his "fission". Yeah. Dumb of me.

And that's it. There's a whole verse I have for this and everyone in Exo has already been partnered up so maybe I'll write more drabbles for it? No promises though.  
avirjin: (Default)
Title: Pavlovian
Fandom: Exo
Focus: Lu Han-centric, (one-sided) Lu Han/Xiumin
Genre: Romance, Gen
Rating: G
Length: Oneshot, 1000 words
Summary: Lu Han helps Xiumin with his Mandarin, for better or for worse.

Lu Han likes the way Korean sounds on his tongue, his voice carrying each syllable past his lips and into Minseok's ear. Hours of classes and years of practice have weathered away his accent, and the lack of mistakes nowadays has little to do with promoting in China. While Mandarin still slips out easily even after years away from what once was home -- as easily as sliding into place next to Minseok on-stage -- it's Korean he speaks behind closed doors, sings under his breath when the cameras aren't around.

But even under bright lights and the scrutiny of thousands of eyes, as the MCs chatter with the others and the audience roars appreciatively, Lu Han will place a hand on Minseok's shoulder and whisper Korean too low for anyone else to hear. Stray comments missed by the translator, exaggerated imitations of Yifan's scripted responses and Tao's sickeningly adorable ones, unprompted answers to questions Minseok doesn't even have time to convert into elementary Mandarin.

"Thank you," Minseok says each time, the phrase too simple for him to trip over but more than enough for Lu Han. He smiles widely at Lu Han, gums showing and teeth gleaming under the spotlight.

Sometimes, Lu Han is bold enough to grab Minseok's hand instead. Sometimes in addition to Minseok's smile, Lu Han is rewarded with the squeeze of small fingers, tightening around his heart. Minseok's hold is firm and strong in a way people probably don't expect from someone with such soft features, but Lu Han doesn't mind shackles like this.

"I didn't catch that," Minseok whispers behind his hand one day, an observation rather than a complaint. He laughs a beat too slow, his lips curled up into a confused smile, so Lu Han scoots over and eagerly explains the joke the MC made about Yixing's face. It's a pretty poor one and Lu Han doesn't properly insert the MC's trademark comedic pauses, but when it elicits a genuine laugh from Minseok, he knows it's worth it.

That's how it starts.

Languages only come easy to some people -- Lu Han simply has to look within his own group to confirm this, watching as Zitao and Jongdae take turns stumbling in each other's mother tongue while Yifan easily corrects one or the other with a fond smile on his face. Thus, Lu Han is happy to pick up where the translator and Minseok's understanding leave him lacking.

Initially, Lu Han only translates a word here or there, ones that Minseok couldn't have possibly picked up no matter how many lessons he's been assigned. Minseok's thanks is always satisfying in an understated sort of way, the crinkling of his eyes, a relieved sigh, the way he turns to Lu Han with unmistakable gratitude on his face.

It gets easier for Lu Han to read Minseok, how his shoulders tense when he can't keep up with the scripted banter or how his eyes dart from one side of the stage to the other to monitor the others' reactions. Yet very rarely will Minseok even glance at him despite standing side-by-side, no matter how ready Lu Han is to help.

"Feel free to ask anytime," Lu Han assures him backstage as they're getting fitted for their mics, throwing his arms around Minseok's neck from behind, "I don't want you feeling left out."

Minseok pats one of his arms, rolling his eyes. "I'm a big boy, Lu Han, I can take care of myself."

And he probably can -- Minseok's more capable than anyone gives him credit for -- but Lu Han likes how his eyes light up when Lu Han explains something to him in familiar Korean, that silly smile that spreads on his face. It's not a problem if Minseok's progress with Mandarin starts to slip, if his initiative happens to falter whenever Lu Han offers him easy comprehension on a silver platter.

It's not a problem.

Only it is, seeing as Yifan and Yixing corner Lu Han after he's spent one too many days coaxing Minseok out of Mandarin practice with Zitao. It had only been a matter of time; Minseok's workbook pages have been neglected for weeks now, his accent noticeably worse.

"I get it, okay?" Yifan says with all the self-assurance of someone who actually doesn't, "but you can't keep using Minseok as an excuse to practice your Korean when he's supposed to be learning Mandarin."

"It's not like that. I'm helping him," Lu Han tries to argue, his fists tightening at his sides in sync with his chest. He wants to punch Yifan.

Yifan's glare pierces straight through his words, both the truth and the lie. "You're hindering him. He's barely spoken ten complete sentences in Mandarin on the past three shows we've been on. Barely even tried. You think no one's noticed you whispering in his ear all of the time?"

Slender hands -- Yixing's, the traitor -- settle on Lu Han's shoulders, holding him back from further regrets.

"We're worried too, and we know you're just trying to help," Yixing reasons, his voice steady and even. Yet with every word, Lu Han feels his heart sinking heavily. "Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime, remember? This isn't fair to Minseok."

Even if they're right, even if Yixing's his best friend and Yifan's his leader, Lu Han can't stop. Won't stop.

"I don't know what I'd do without you," Minseok tells him, sitting so close that Lu Han can feel his warm breath. The last of a translation has just barely left Lu Han's lips when Minseok's hand reaches for his, giving it a small squeeze. He feels Yifan's disapproving stare directed at the back of his head, yet all he can think of is Minseok's gaze -- so tender that he could mistake it for more than mere gratefulness, can pretend it's something deeper.



Lu Han doesn't mind shackles like these, not when they suit Minseok so perfectly.

Prompt: Exoplosion Challenge #1: Guilty Pleasures
Author's Note: Submitted with about 5 minutes to my deadline lol Anyway, once again,  I am not an official participant of the Exoplosion drabble challenge, but I will be following the prompts and the deadlines as a writing exercise. It felt good to do something like this again.

I'll offer a commentary on this tomorrow when I'm not supposed to be sleeping. I just have to say I'm not completely pleased with it because I couldn't include everything I want to and my transitions were pretty bad. I need to keep to a smaller word count next time.

Okay, commentary time! It might get long because I... talk a lot orz. So let's start with the prompt! I actually really, really hated it because "guilty pleasures" is such a common phrase and there wasn't much for me to analyze? Not like Seouldout, which was pretty disappointing. I have higher hopes for the future of Exoplosion, but still. I originally came up with three ideas for this prompt: this one, a Baekyeol one where Baekhyun excuses his desire to watch Chanyeol with the excuse that Chanyeol worked with SNSD, and another one about Suho being masochistic. I asked around on twitter and decided to go step out of my comfort zone with this Xiuhan idea. It also helped that I've been talking about yanderes for the longest time with one of my friends.

So. In this story, Lu Han is supposed to be vaguely yandere-ish? It's supposed to be a little bit of a twist, because I initially set it up as Lu Han just finding joy in speaking in Korean and being able to translate for Xiumin all of the time -- but the truth of the matter is that that was all just the means to an end. What he really wanted was to cultivate some sort of dependence in Xiumin, where he would be forced to lean more and more on Xiumin. That part was inspired by talk on meme about how Xiumin doesn't seem to be trying with Mandarin that much because Lu Han keeps talking in Korean to him instead of forcing him to learn. Sink or swim, yeah? Everyone thinks Lu Han is spoiling Xiumin, but really Lu Han is spoiling himself which is ruining (?) Xiumin. 

I originally wanted the imagery to be better in this -- that's a weak point of mine. I'm in ecology now and I really wanted to work in metaphors relating to commensalism vs parasitism in the form of ivy on a tree: ivy doesn't harm a tree by climbing on it, but if it starts weighing the tree down, it'll eventually kill it. Lu Han was gonna be the ivy/orchid (pretty and ambitious because it reaches so high, touchy, clingy, etc) while Xiumin was gonna be the tree (steady, strong). Unfortunately, I couldn't include this metaphor :( All that remains of it is the image of Lu Han clinging to Xiumin's back and Xiumin's hold being described as strong. Ah, regret is a strong thing lmao.

Speaking of regret, I wasn't sure if I managed to portray it very well here. It starts in the second section and continues to the end, so the reason Lu Han feels bad when Lay is speaking specifically is because he knows that what's being said is a lie -- none of it is really for Xiumin's benefit. Even when he's addressing Kris, I mention that he tells both a truth and a lie -- the problem isn't that he's a Koreaboo (the truth), but he isn't helping Xiumin like he says he is. And he knows that. 

So the shackles now. They're mentioned twice -- the first time's a little innocent, but it's the second time that should raise some alarms about Lu Han's mindset, his possessiveness, how far that selfishness of his is willing to go. It matches the yandere idea I wanted to go with, haha, but they were something that evolved spontaneously. In case anyone doesn't know, a yandere is a person who appears cute, well-meaning, harmless, and pretty much normal on the surface but is actually obsessed with their love interest to the point of insanity. In the more extreme cases, it ends in bloodshed, haha, but here I just wanted to capture the more calculating, possessive side of it. After all, having someone become almost solely dependent on you in a foreign country where they can't really speak the language can be pretty empowering, which can be pretty addictive. 

Which is why this story is called "Pavlovian", after the concept of Pavlovian conditioning (as I remember it /o\). After all, if I couldn't fit in my ecology crap in here, I might as well fit in my psychology stuff LMAO. But that's also connected to the shackles idea. The idea is that Xiumin is the one who accidentally sets this off. The first time Lu Han translates for him, he's so taken by Xiumin's positive reaction that he becomes... conditioned. Or Xiumin accidentally starts conditioning him. If Lu Han translates, Xiumin is grateful and makes Lu Han's heart ache in a good way. But it also means Xiumin puts less effort into learning Mandarin, which leads to a vicious cycle where he's asking for help, although Lu Han's skipped a step so that he preemptively translates things for Xiumin. So the first pair of shackles are the ones Xiumin accidentally stuck on Lu Han. The second pair's the result of that vicious cycle though, and is intentional on Lu Han's part. 

So. Other than that, pretty straight-forward, ha. Honestly, reading back, there are words I would have cut off, words I would have added, sentences I would have reworded. But that's water under the bridge. My transitions were weak, so I'll have to work on that and I based the dynamics almost entirely off of Amy's Xiuhan meta, plus input from my own observations and Xiumin headcanon. Hm. 

June 2017



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