The welcome party

Signature scars

Sehun averts his eyes back and forth from the papers in hand to the laptop screen. A week has passed and he can’t be happier at the result of everyone work so far. Dropping the report down on the desk, he stands up and heads to the big glass window behind his spot. Sehun enjoys the afar view from his office and thinks about his decision of taking this job. To be honest, he was afraid he would regret the moment the plane landed Seoul. Even though this is his homeland, he has been living in a foreign country for a really long time and the only person he knows in Korea is his cousin who by the way is not living in the same city as he is. However, this offer itself was such a big challenge that Sehun couldn’t ignore.

To his disbelief, he was struck on his first day at the meeting when his eyes scanned around the room and laid on someone. There are many people has come and gone in his life but never could he forget that particular features. Sehun was so caught off guard that he couldn’t concentrate on doing anything the whole day. He was not sure if that was the one he had been searching for almost twelve years but there was one thing he knew for sure: the more he observed, the more obvious his feeling became.

A knock on the door brings him back to reality.

“Come in.” he clears his throat and turns back to his chair. Jessica from financial department bows down as soon as she sees him and walks fast to his desk to give him a blue folder.

“This is the estimated budget for the team building plan this weekend I discussed with you before. It needs your approval.”

Sehun flips the papers to go through some more details about the money then reaches a pen to sign. He confirms for the last time without looking up

“Make sure the press has enough material to write something nice about us for fund raising.”

“I will, sir.” She smiles confidently before bows down again to excuse herself to leave. Then right when she grabs the door knob, Jessica turns back with hesitation in her voice

“Uhm…sir, it’s a little late but everyone wants to throw you a welcome party.”

She studies Sehun’s face expression to see if he’s against the idea but again, her boss doesn’t show any.

“When?” he arches his eyebrows

“Tonight, if it’s okay.”

Her voice is getting smaller at the end of the sentence as if she’s committing a crime. It’s hard to blame her because her boss seems not to be an easygoing kind of guy and he made it very clear on the first day that he wanted everyone’s devotion to upcoming anniversary. That’s why in her opinion a welcome party appears to be way too fancy at the moment. Luckily, Sehun gives her his approval quickly.

“Well, it’s fine by me.”

“Oh, that’s great.” Jessica can’t help but exclaims in excitement “I’ll text you the address later, sir.”

Sehun chuckles to himself as his employee bows twice and lets herself out. He guesses it’s a reasonable decision to have everyone a break they deserve after a hard-working week. Besides, it may be a good chance for him to seek the answer for his own mysterious math.

 

************

 

Sehun scans the key card to open the door of museum storage facility. He has been so busy with new responsibilities since he got here that he doesn’t have time to visit the most valuable place in this building. Of course he was sent enough reports to acknowledge what he had in hand but like anyone working in this field, he definitely wanted to see the collections with his bare eyes.

The storage area actually takes two floors, one is on the ground and the other is in the basement. These facilities provide improved access to the objects, as well as modern, environmentally controlled systems able to maintain the stable conditions necessary for the preservation. A low temperature below 18 Celsius with only slow fluctuations and a stable relative humidity between 40-50 % are remained to prevent chemical degradation and pests. Furthermore, they have another easy access into the storage at the back without stairs and narrow doors to avoid damage due to transportation. Each level of storage has a study room structured with glass where objects can be brought to be viewed and inspected.  

Sehun doesn’t expect to find anyone in that room at this time of the day even though he doesn’t mind having this particular someone in his little tour either. The sound of open door pulls Luhan out of his concentration. He turns aside to see his attractive boss standing outside, staring at him in surprise.

“I thought your work here was already done.”

Sehun raises his voice due to the soundproof glass of the study room. He received a meticulous report last weekend and from what he read, there was nothing to be inspected anymore. Luhan alertly drops his glasses, turns off the light at the table and rushes out.

“Hello sir…”

“Please, call me Sehun.” the younger one gently butts in with a slight unpleasant glint in his eyes “You sound like I’m in my 40s.”

“I’m sorry” Luhan scratches his head, flashing an embarrassing smile “Since you’re the director so…”

He trails off at the end of his explanation right after catching another head shaking in disapproval from the other. To prevent both of them sinking into an awkward moment, Sehun changes the subject

“What were you doing? Ain’t you supposed to have lunch by now?”

The Chinese male points a small box on the table in the study room, beside the frame he was examining a few minutes ago

“I brought my lunch from home. And there were some paintings delivered this morning from Lee Sang Beom collector for the exhibition.”

“Oh, already?” Sehun’s eyebrows curves at the short notice. He has just signed the contract with that collector since last Friday and the transportation usually takes one week. “May I have a look?”

“Of course.” Luhan immediately leads the way through the glass door, can’t help but exclaims a little bit when he hits the button to light up the studying area again “It’s beautiful.”

“Which one is it?”

“This one.” the smaller male reaches his hand to grab the inventory list and hands to his boss. It includes every detail of the whole collection exhibition they're planning to hold up such as digital image of the paintings, title, size, price of unframed piece, cost of frame, artist’s statement and biography.

Sehun has a quick scan on the page then instantaneously joins Luhan at the big table placed in the middle of the room. There lies a large size painting in Korean style from 1950s. It totally fits the theme of this coming exhibition, The national treasure. The idea of honoring his homeland cultural art is one of many things he wants to do when taking this offer. The painting portrays a landscape in which a tile-roofed house stands in the woods on a hill by a stream and flowers express a cheerful sense of spring.

Sehun gently caresses the surface of canvas and bends forward to read the poem on the right but since it’s written in kanji, he has no choice except looking for help from the expert. Noticing the query showing on his face, Luhan immediately steps closer and leans down to have a better view.

“A house on a high place is filled with a beautiful feeling of pear blossoms on a hillock. In spring 1958, a year of musul.”

He carefully translates and both of them seem drifting away in their own contemplation. Luhan doesn’t realize he gets too close to the other one’s body until the scent of Sehun’s cologne snaps him back to earth. He can hear his own heart beating loudly inside his chest as Sehun turns aside, locking their eyes to each other. He suddenly loses his ability to comprehend the situation when he sees his reflection in the Korean male’s eyes. It’s like slow motion movie that he doesn’t want it to end.

“Luhan.”

Those pink lips in front of him are saying his name yet he’s too immersed himself in dreaming to respond right away.

“Luhan!”

And the second time works. The Chinese man blinks a few times to get himself together.

“Y..yes?”

“Your foot.” the art director points and he looks down to that direction to find that his foot is lying nicely on Sehun’s.

“Oh my god, I’m sorry.”

He squeaks panickingly and steps back at once, earning a small laugh from the younger one. He still hears Sehun’s laughter as his boss bids him a See you later but he’s too cringed to say anything, tries to cover his embarrassment in both of his hands.

 

********

 

Sehun can’t remember when the last time he had fun at a party was. The past two years was such a blur since he spent all his time working as a freelancer in countless projects. Jongin was actually mad at him for his disappearance in their routine daily lives but never stayed pouty for too long (his friend had to admitted that sulking didn’t make a man out of him). When his searching hit the dead end, he didn’t know what to do. Apart from being a truly talented artist, one of the reasons Sehun kept doing this was the hope to find his soul mate again (or his muse - like Jongin often joked around). Despite his effort of traveling around Europe, that person seemed to vanish without trail. Then just when he thought to give up and move on, his anticipation was triggered again at the moment he saw Luhan in the meeting room. Those eyes and smile, it couldn’t be wrong. However, the Chinese said he had never been to Paris before which made everything more confused. Either Luhan was hiding something or telling the truth, he had to find out, as soon as possible.

Luhan shows up at the party a little later than everyone else. He wants to finish the work in the storage by the end of the day. To his dismay, the only seat left is the one beside his boss’s and the incident at the basement earlier definitely causes awkward atmosphere between them. He tries his best to avoid exchanging look to each other and keeps himself busy by talking to his colleagues.

“Alright everyone.” Jessica stands up, clicking on the glass of beer to draw attention “Since it’s the first time Mr. Oh goes out with us, should we introduce him to our welcome drink?”

The proposal is enthusiastically responded with a loud applause. Sehun turns to Luhan for help but since the latter seems distant the whole time he got there, he doesn’t have a choice except raising his voice.

“Welcome drink?”

“Yes.” now it’s time for Yixing to take his turn, after all, it’s his secret talent to make that damn drink “It’s a sweet mixture of beer and soju. You’re gonna love it.”

The smirk placing at his upper lips tells the other way. Nothing is sweet about that drink as much as Luhan can remember. It can knock you out right after it hits your throat. He starts to worry and continuously steals glance at the younger one. To his disbelief, Sehun seems to be calm and confident, crossing his arms against his chest, waiting for the deathly beverage.

Yixing doesn’t try to cover his eagerness to see his boss’s blackout. In fact, everyone is curious about how Sehun can handle this kind of drink since he has been abroad for a long time. The art director studies the color of the liquid in glass when it’s handed to him then scans around the whole table with an undaunted smile.

“You know, it’s also the first time you guys drinking with me so to be fair, I should buy you all my favorite drink as well.”

He pauses to be amused at everybody’s frozen expression as they are caught off guard. To close the deal quickly, he continues to lever them into their comfort zone.

“Don’t worry. You guys can share just one glass.”

And just like that, he hits the jackpot. Sehun silently thanks to Jongin who gave him many lessons on drinking so that his alcohol tolerance couldn’t be beaten easily. However, what he doesn’t expect is the fact that some of his employees get tipsy just by taking a sip of his favorite beverage. They head outside when the clock passes eleven and Luhan already can’t stand on his own feet.

“Can anyone take Luhan home?” Yixing shouts while his colleague is clinging on him like a baby

“I’m okay, Yixing ah.” Luhan protests yet his arm is still wrapping over the other’s shoulder.

Sehun watches them from afar, wondering how much the Chinese has poured through his throat. After the welcome shot, they started playing a game called never have I ever and surprisingly Luhan had to drink a lot as he lost to many questions. Not only him, other people was stunned by the news that the older one had been arrested before. Luhan simply explained that it happened when he was living in China and refused to give any further detail. On the other hand, all his employees dropped their jaws in amazement when the truth about him, the handsome Oh Sehun, never had anyone heart broken. They didn’t buy it and he had to clarify that he had never been in a serious relationship so there was no breakup, hence, no heart broken.

Having enough with the grinning-like-an-idiot Luhan who is too stubborn to admit that he’s drunk, Sehun fastens his pace and grabs the Chinese one’s elbow to help him stand up.

“I’ll take care of him.”

Luhan is startled by the sudden touching but he doesn’t feel his own legs anymore so he turns aside to Yixing, trying to wave his friend a goodbye before being pulled away.

***********

 

Luhan wakes up at the ringing of his alarm, slowly opens his eyes. It takes him a long minute to comprehend where he is. Sleeping in his own bed with clothes he wore to work yesterday is actually a good sign which means Yixing must have given him a ride home last night. Rubbing his forehead roughly, he gets out of bed to the kitchen. He needs to moisture his sore throat, a consequence of drinking too much alcohol last night. His head feels dizzy in every attempt he tries to recall what happened.

Okay, let try again, Luhan tells himself, taking another gulf of cold water. He remembers taking whatever Sehun gave him which was a bad decision because his memory was fogged up since that moment. The last thing on his mind from last night is Yixing’s stupid laughter as he waved him goodbye.

“Yixing..…bye… !!”

He covers his mouth in shock at the fact that his friend wasn’t the one who brought him home. Then like a slow motion movie, his yelling and playful singing becomes clearer and clearer.

 

“Yah, let go off me!”

“Aishh, can you be quiet. I don’t want to wake your neighbor.”

“Call me Luhan hyung. I’m a hyung, you hear me.”

“Alright, alright, hyung. What’s your door password?”

“Not gonna tell yaaa….”

 

 

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A/N. Credit to owner of the picture. It's beautiful.

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