sehun had first met jongin when he was six and his father had decided to humor his obsession with surfing with a trip to the local surf shop on his birthday. (surfer au)
a/n: originally written for lanfen for the Run and Gun fic exchange.
kisses for konnie, who helped me survive this pinch-hit when i was too tired to function. without you, i would have missed my deadline ♥
the title of this comes from a song by Sleigh Bells.
Run the Heart
Sehun’s phone goes off, shatteringly loud in the darkness of his room and he fumbles for it with a sleepy hand.
“Get up and grab your board — “
“Fuck off,” Sehun growls, recognizing the voice and ending the call. He starts to roll over and snuggle back into his pillow but his phone goes off again. Groaning, he picks up.
“Come on, surf’s up.” Sehun can hear by the tone of voice that it’s a joke. “I’ll keep calling until you get out here too, you know I will.”
Sehun chances a glance at the clock and snaps, “Oh, you asshole.”
The unoffended laugh crackles through his phone speaker. “Awesome, I’ll see you down here in five.”
The line goes dead and Sehun presses the heels of his hands into his eyes in an effort to wake himself up, before reaching for the nearest sweatshirt and heading for the bathroom.
When he goes outside, grabbing his board off the rack in the garage before he heads out, Jongin is lounging in the driver’s seat of his car, one leg hanging out the open window, and he has his sunglasses on even though it’s still practically dark out.
“Finally,” he says, sounding exasperated, and Sehun makes sure to rip out some of his leg hair as he passes by the window on his side of the car. Jong clutches at the spot. “Ow! That fucking hurt, dickwad.”
“You’re a dickwad for waking me up this early.”
Jongin shrugs, starting his car. It’s a beat up Toyota 4Runner with it’s light blue paint job all but peeling off, but it has enough room in the back for their boards and still runs, so Sehun lets Jongin drive most days. “I have to work an early shift at the shop today.”
“That didn’t mean you had to wake me up.”
Jongin looks at him reproachfully from behind the wheel. “Sehun, you know you should never go surfing alone. That’s dangerous.”
He’s quoting a lecture Sehun’s mother had given them both back when they were in middle school and Sehun rolls his eyes.
“Besides, we’ve gone earlier before, I don’t know why you’re so mad.”
“I was up late last night.”
“Why? I thought you said you were going to stay at home.”
Sehun makes sure to mumble, “Homework,” hoping Jongin won’t be able to hear what he said over the loud rumble of the car and the wind through the open windows.
Jongin’s lips tighten though, along with his fingers on the steering wheel, and Sehun knows he didn’t succeed.
“It’s fine though,” Sehun says easily, trying to smooth things over. “Hopefully we’ll be some of the first people out this morning.”
Jongin doesn’t say anything, turning a corner a little more sharply than he needed to, and Sehun sits back in his seat, wishing it was sunrise already.
He walks back from the beach, bagging up his board and asking Jongin to bring it into the shop when he gets there so it won’t get too hot. The work day is just getting in full swing and when he walks in the door of his regular coffee shop, Sehun finds himself at the end of a very long line. Normally, he’d just say fuck it, and head home empty-handed, but he’s practically dead on his feet from studying so late last night and isn’t sure how far he’ll make it without some caffeine. Sehun plays on his phone as he waits in line, wanting to text Jongin even though he knows it’s a bad idea.
Before he can send anything though, someone taps him on the shoulder.
“Oh,” he says, surprised, “Baekhyun, what are you doing here?”
“Morning coffee run, you know.” Baekhyun was a year ahead of he and Jongin in school and grew up down the street from him. If Sehun remembers correctly, Baekhyun goes to Northwestern’s prestigious business school and is well on his way to getting a place at his father’s company. “Hey, you graduated this past year, right? Where are you going this fall?”
Baekhyun actually looks a little impressed, which is a sight in and of itself, but Sehun just thinks of the huge stack of summer homework that lies half-finished on his desk at home and tries to muster a smile.
Luckily, it was his turn to order next and so he can turn away and think more about how he wants his coffee and less about packing and summer reading and Jongin’s face this morning in the car.
“Congrats on MIT,” Baekhyun tells him as he moves to join Sehun to wait for his order. “I loved my year at Northwestern, so I’m sure you’ll do well there too.” Sehun can see he preens a little as he mentions his own school and has to stop his nose from wrinkling in distaste. Oblivious, Baekhyun goes on, “You used to spend so much time with that Kim Jongin that I wondered if you would even go to college — “
Sehun feels the hairs on the back of his neck raise a little in anger at the mention of Jongin and, snatching up his drink, he says coldly, “I can’t see that this year at college has done much for your social skills, but for the record, I still hang out with Jongin, and he’s doing just fine. It was nice of you to ask.”
Baekhyun’s mouth is hanging open and Sehun wants to feel satisfied as he walks away, but the comment about Jongin burns down his throat and settles painfully in his chest as he walks back out the shop’s door.
Sehun had first met Jongin when he was six and his father had decided to humor his obsession with surfing with a trip to the local surf shop on his birthday.
He hadn’t stopped talking about wanting to learn to surf since he was four and had seen the people out on boards in the water while his family had visited the beach, choosing to sit and watch them until his mother had scolded him about getting sunburned and dragged him back under their large umbrella for lunch.
Jongin at age six wasn’t that much different than he would be at age twelve or eighteen, in swim trunks and a t-shirt, reading a comic book behind the desk as his father spoke with customers.
“How old do you have to be to begin surfing lessons?” Sehun’s dad had asked and now, looking back, Sehun realizes that he had probably hoped that Jongin’s father would say six was too young, that Sehun should come back when he was older, so that when the correct year finally rolled by, Sehun would have forgotten that he ever wanted to learn how to surf and picked a more useful hobby.
He didn’t though. Jongin’s dad had smiled down at him and said that as long as they could swim, no one was ever too young to start surfing. Sehun had seen the way Jongin looked at him furtively over the top of his book as his dad offered Sehun private surfing lessons. Later, he found out it was because Jongin’s father never taught the kid’s lessons himself anymore, and Sehun eventually realized that he had probably done that because he had thought that Jongin, who had been raised spending half his time at his dad’s surf shop and the other half in the ocean, needed a friend.
At the time though, Sehun had noticed how tan the other boy was and had pinched his own pasty arm in envious comparison, hoping that if he spent enough time surfing, that one day his skin would have tanned to the color of hot caramel sauce.
It starts happening a few days after their early morning beach trip
They’re in Jongin’s living room, watching something stupid on TV in the middle of a lazy afternoon, and Sehun can feel himself starting to drift off to sleep. His head is drooping to the side, resting lightly on Jongin’s shoulder and he moves slightly so that their sides are pressed more firmly together, thigh to thigh. Jongin’s skin is always so warm, as if it’s permanently absorbed the heat of the sunlight, and Sehun can feel it radiating, making him feel warm and even sleepier.
He’s just on the edge of drifting off, the nice suspended sensation that always precedes sleep settling over him, when Jongin’s shoulder suddenly disappears and Sehun’s side falls and hits the seat of the couch. Eyes snapping open, he catches sight of Jongin disappearing into the kitchen and sits back up with a huff, rubbing the spot on his shoulder where he had landed.
Sehun wants to think that Jongin just didn’t notice and that it was an accident, but the next day they’re playing video games together and Sehun goes to rest his foot on top of Jongin’s like he always does when his toes are cold. This time though, Jongin moves his foot out of reach, fingers still moving on the controls, and Sehun’s toes are left sitting by naked on the carpet while his avatar dies an ugly death on the TV screen.
It shouldn’t be a big deal. So what if Jongin brushes him off whenever Sehun tries to sling an arm around his shoulders or link their hands together — and the very fact that Sehun feels upset by this should really be an indication that whatever he and Jongin have been doing, which had started off in the “friends with benefits” category, has obviously started migrating towards something a little more serious.
The hard bit is that there is a part of Sehun, deep in the pit of his stomach, where the idea that Jongin doesn’t feel the same way sits, dark and heavy.
Sehun’s always been a bit of a go-getter though, and so he decides that if he had been able to work up the nerve to suck Jongin off in the gym locker room during class, he could find the balls to take Jongin out to dinner and then maybe try and talk about like, his feelings. Or something.
When Jongin comes out of the apartment above the surf shop though, Sehun takes one look at his expression and wants to change his mind. He’s waiting, standing next to the driver’s side of the car, and when Jongin stops dead on the sidewalk, he asks, “What?”
Jongin is frowning, but there’s a hard edge to his mouth that makes it almost seem a little vicious. “Why would you come and pick me up in this car? I hate this car.”
It’s a little ostentatious, Sehun agrees, with its sleek, sporty lines and the expensive silver logo, but his parents had given it to him as a birthday present and it runs, so while Sehun actually prefers the casual openness of Jongin’s old 4Runner, he had accepted the new car without complaint.
“I thought it might be nice if I drove for a change.” Sehun opens his door, hoping Jongin will accept the explanation and the rest of the evening will go smoothly despite the start.
But Jongin still looks sullen and there’s something in his eyes that Sehun can’t quite place. It makes him feel uneasy. “I’m surprised you’d be willing to be seen with beach trash like me while you drive around a car like that.”
“Beach trash?” Sehun repeats, almost not believing his ears. There was a group of kids that had called him that while they were at school — rich, privileged ones that had houses in Sehun’s neighborhood and thought they lived on another plane of existence from people like Jongin.
Once, Sehun remembers, he had gotten into a fist fight with one of them at his grandmother’s New Year’s ball over that slur. For Jongin to bring that up now is almost like a kick in the gut.
“When have I ever called you that?”
“I bet you’ve thought it,” Jongin mumbles, and Sehun slams the car door shut again.
“No, I haven’t, because you’re not trash. What the fuck is wrong with you today?”
“Nothing.” The word is flat and Sehun wishes he had never thought of this idea in the first place. “I don’t even want dinner anymore.” Jongin shoves his hands into the pockets of his jeans — jeans, Sehun realizes with a start, because Jongin never wears long pants unless he’s trying to look nice — and turns to walk back inside, saying over his shoulder, “See you.”
Instead of going home, Sehun stands by the car, resisting the urge to kick it’s tires angrily, and just watches the shadows moving behind Jongin’s shades for a long time.
It hadn’t really been a fight, Sehun reasons, because neither of them did any yelling, and so he shows up the next afternoon at the surf shop just when he knows Jongin’s shift is supposed to be ending.
Sehun finds him sitting behind the desk reading a comic book, a giant version of the six-year-old Jongin Sehun had seen in the same place twelve years before. Jongin nods when he walks up to the desk, leaning on it like he always does and reaching over to fiddle with the stacks of Sexwax next to the register. Every time he comes in, Sehun fidgets and arranges them differently, by package color, by flavor preference, alphabetically —
He jumps when Jongin appears at his elbow suddenly, his dad saying hi as he takes Jongin’s place behind the counter.
Without a word, Jongin heads towards the back of the store and Sehun follows him. There’s a back storage room next to the stairwell where the rest of the stock is kept and Jongin ducks inside. He stores his board back here too and so Sehun isn’t really surprised when he says, “I thought I’d go out for a while. Wanna come?”
Sehun doesn’t have his board with him but he knows if he wanted he could borrow one. Right now, though, he’s more focused on how low Jongin’s voice seems today, thick and deep in the back of his throat, and how his shirt seems slightly too tight around his biceps and shoulders. When he doesn’t answer, Jongin turns, mouth open to ask again, and Sehun hears him take in a shuddery breath when he sees how close they’re standing.
They’ve been like this before, right here in the storage room, Jongin’s breath maddeningly hot against the skin of his neck as he pressed Sehun up against the wall, holding his hands behind his back and refusing to touch him, whispering things into Sehun’s ear as he tried to rub himself against the wall for some relief.
If it were a week ago, they’d be kissing right now.
Sehun swallows and it hurts because of the lump in his throat.
Jongin’s breath is still damp and hot against his cheeks, but even though he licks his lips and his eyelashes flutter a little, Jongin’s eyes are nervous and his jaw is tight, and Sehun knows that this time in the storage room will be nothing like the others before.
Focusing stubbornly on a spot just over Sehun’s shoulder, Jongin asks again, “You coming?”
Jongin’s cheekbones are catching the light that’s pouring in from the doorway and Sehun wants to run his fingers over the skin of his cheeks and ask him why he’s so set on pretending like nothing’s wrong. Instead, he shakes his head, looking down at his shoes. “No, I think I’ll sit this one out.”
Shrugging, Jongin grabs his board from the rack and pushes past Sehun to the door.
The beach is only a block away and they walk there in silence, the afternoon heat rising from the asphalt of the road and heating Sehun from the toes up.
He settles into the sand as Jongin uncovers his board and strips off his shirt, making sure the cord is secure around his ankle before heading out into the water.
There is always something so right about seeing Jongin surf and Sehun thinks he could watch him all day.
Back when they were finally allowed to go out surfing together by themselves, Sehun remembers how sometimes they would just float on their boards when the sea was calmer, soaking up the sun and talking. Jongin had told him back then that he wished he could have a house on the water, one of those floating houses, because he never wanted to leave the sea.
“There’s nothing bigger than the ocean,” fourteen-year-old Jongin had told him solemnly as they drifted and Sehun had thought how amazing it was that no country was too big to fit in the body of water he was lying on.
Jongin comes back in after less than an hour, but Sehun can feel that the back of his neck is sunburnt. Even though he’s managed to build up a tan during his ears spent on the beach and the water, he still burns viciously if he doesn’t remember to put suntan lotion on. Jongin wipes down his board and covers it before flopping down on the sand to dry off in the sun.
Sehun has been drawing little mazes in the miniature dunes by his feet and he traces one absently ask he asks, “Are we going to talk about it?”
“About what?” Jongin sounds lazy and relaxed as he throws a forearm over his eyes to block the sun.
“How you won’t let me kiss you, or touch you or — “
“No, we’re not.” He’s sitting up now, dusting the sand off the backs of his arms tersely, all traces of laziness gone, and Sehun refuses to bite his tongue. He needs to know.
“You were the one who started this, Jongin. You were the one who kissed me first, who put my hand down your pants first, or after graduation, when you let me fu — “
“Stop,” Jongin snaps and the rest of Sehun’s words die in his mouth. He sees Jongin take a deep breath. “You’re right: I did start it. And now I’m ending it.”
Sehun sputters. “But you can’t — “
“You’re the one leaving to go to the other side of the country for school,” Jongin cuts him off, voice hard. “This was your choice.”
And before Sehun can even figure out what to say, he’s grabbed his board and shirt and is gone.
Sehun knows that at first glance, it might seem like his father is pushing him into college. In truth, he had worked so hard to keep his grades perfect in high school because that was the deal he had made with his parents in exchange for being allowed to surf, but the other side of it is that Sehun wants to go to college, wants to be an entrepreneur, and Jongin knows this because they’ve talked about it before.
The thing that has been hard for him to understand is that Jongin loves working at his father’s board shop and surfing and living so near the water just as much as Sehun loves computers and his dream of starting his own company down the road.
Jongin’s done some surf competitions before and been pretty successful, but Sehun knows that he doesn’t really like the feeling of competition on the water, preferring to let it be a place where he goes to relax instead.
That’s how he knows to find Jongin at the beach the next evening, without his board but also without his shoes, feet bare as the tide surges forward onto the shore.
Sehun watches from the top of the hill as Jongin digs his fingers into the pockets of his sweatshirt and walks down the shoreline, dragging his feet and making a trail that stretches out behind him in the sand. The sunset is purple and orange, bringing out the gold in Jongin’s skin, and all Sehun wants to do is touch and see if any of it rubs off onto his fingertips like metallic dust.
Sehun isn’t sure if Jongin knows he’s watching him watch the sunset. Jongin always seems to know everything that’s going on on the beach while he’s there, like it’s his second home, and it fits him, golden skin on golden sand, dark hair absorbing sunlight and feeding it back through its sheen.
Sehun thinks that the feel of Jongin’s hair spilling through the spaces between his fingers is only second to the way Jongin’s skin feels against his under water, salt and liquid making him as slick and glimmering as a fish.
Jongin stops walking and Sehun makes his way down the hill towards the shore. He’s always thought that he was the one waiting for Jongin, waiting for him to grow up, waiting for him to want to do something bigger with his life. But now, as he approaches Jongin’s silhouette against the ocean, Sehun thinks maybe he’s had it all wrong and Jongin has been the one waiting for him to realize that none of that matters in the end.
Sehun stops next to him, their shoulders brushing, and Jongin is curling the sand between his toes, kneading it until it looks loose and glittery, like brown sugar. The cool wind is coming in off the water like it always does as the sun goes down, and Sehun shivers in his t-shirt.
“I just — “Jongin tilts his head down after a moment, fitting their hands together tentatively, “I don’t want you to...”
He trails off and Sehun can see him chewing on his lip even though his face is downturned towards the sand.
“It’s okay,” he says, squeezing Jongin’s hand as the other boy raises his head to look Sehun in the eye. “Remember? You told me once that nothing’s bigger than — “
Before he can finish, Jongin is kissing him, finally, lips dry from the wind and his fingers curling into his collar. His fingernails scrape Sehun’s pulse, making him shiver as he presses closer, minimizing the space left between their chests.
The stretch of beach Jongin has walked to is deserted and Sehun knows it’s owned by one of his father’s clients, their house almost out of sight down the shore, so he has few qualms about pushing Jongin down onto the sand, straddling his hips and kissing him back. Jongin may seem unaffected in how he acts normally, but his kisses always seem to set Sehun’s insides on fire. It’s nothing so cliche as fireworks, it’s just that Jongin kisses like he means it, the press of his lips sweet or dirty depending on his mood, and Sehun knows he could never get tired of it.
Jongin looks up at him, sand already mixing with his hair, and his eyes are dark and vulnerable through the fringe of his eyelashes. It’s a side of Jongin that Sehun rarely gets to see and so he kisses him again, soft and almost chaste, savoring the salty-sweet taste that is just his best friend, just Jongin, and slips his fingertips beneath the waistband of Jongin’s shorts.
Beneath him, Jongin makes a sound in the back of his throat, needy and almost sad, and Sehun buries his face in his neck, trying to figure out how on earth anyone would think that he could give this up.
The rest of the time before Sehun leaves for school passes by too quickly, and soon it’s the night before his flight and he’s sitting in his childhood bedroom, now bare of most of his things, excepting his furniture and his suitcase waiting over in the corner.
He jumps when his phone goes off, ringtone screaming through the silence. Fumbling for it, Sehun picks up while still trying to catch his breath, pulse flying through his veins.
“Hey loser, look outside.”
He smiles when he recognizes the voice and goes over to the window that overlooks his driveway.
Jongin is there, leaning against the side of his blue truck and looking up at him. Hanging up, he beckons Sehun down with a sly finger and a smile and Sehun grabs a sweatshirt to help shield himself from the damp night air.
They drive down the the beach near the surf shop, Jongin insisting that Sehun needs one last visit before he goes away, and end up sitting together, watching the tide.
Jongin seems to be able to sense that he doesn’t know what to say, and so he stays quiet, fidgeting with a stray pebble in the sand.
There’s a lot that Sehun wants to say, actually. He wants to talk about all his firsts, how Jongin has been a part of all the important ones. Wants to tell Jongin how much he’ll miss him, how nervous he is to start at a new school where he doesn’t know anyone, how glad he is that he and Jongin are friends and maybe something even more —
But the moonlight is bright on Jongin’s hair and the words get caught in his throat before he can say them, throat working hard to try and swallow all of his feelings.
Luckily, Jongin chooses that moment to break the silence.
“Ten bucks says by Christmas you’ll have forgotten how to sit on a board,” he teases and when Sehun sees the smile out of the corner of his eye, he wants to press his fingers into Jongin’s jaw and kiss him, to curl his arms around his shoulders and pull him in for a hug, because he feels so happy. But Sehun also can see the slightly worried wrinkles at the corners of his eyes and the way he is anxiously rubbing sand between his fingers, and so instead, he just jostles their shoulders together, kicking a bit of sand over Jongin’s toes, almost like reassurance, and says, “I don’t think I’ll forget that so fast.”
And when Jongin laughs, fingers tightening around Sehun wrist instead of the sand, he thinks it might be enough.