[CONTENTID1]finally! the finale... thank you so much for waiting <3[/CONTENTID1]
[CONTENTID2]chapter thirty three[/CONTENTID2]
"Upstairs." Sehun smirks, now with a hand at the back of my neck, fingers raking my hair. The sensation of his skin against mine is driving me crazy. And more so when he lightly tugs my hair back.
"You. Me. A place that isn't a courtroom…" he leans in, causing our lips to brush against one another. "And a lock on the door."
I tautly smile, trying not to lose my wits. I simultaneously love and detest the way he makes me feel; it's thrilling being in his presence, but most times we're too unpredictable for comfort.
It takes a measurable effort but I manage to pull off a teasing stare. "Unlawful detainment and the restriction of liberty are very serious crimes, Sehun."
The boy's lips curl in response, though he quickly follows with a prompt peck on my lips.
"Good thing I've never been the best at following rules."
"Evidently," I place a hand on his chest and lightly push him away. "Because I'm sure there's some unspoken rule against kissing a random girl at a party you're supposed to be enjoying with your friends."
"You're not a random girl," Sehun quips with an arched brow, leaning in once more with an amused countenance. "And I'm enjoying myself just fine."
Withstanding a smile is impossible when Sehun utters such words. He always makes me wonder the same thing—has he always been this good with words, or has my resistance to him slowly chipped away?
At some point, things had shifted.
And perhaps I hadn't realised it at first, but the trajectory Sehun and I had been heading had taken a sharp turn, and suddenly I couldn't get enough of him.
I cannot get enough of insufferable, confusing, infuriating Oh Sehun.
Now, I'm wondering how cruel this kind of fate is, especially now that we have a pending doom.
We have an expiration date.
Tomorrow, to be exact—I'll be somewhere that isn't here, among people that aren't him, making new favourites of memories he won't be a part of.
Who would've thought that could sound so painful?
Perhaps Sehun has noticed my absentmindedness, because he rests a hand on my hip and turns my head with his fingers propped under my chin.
I blink at him, curious by his actions. I try to conceal my thoughts by holding my tongue, and instead we stare at each other in silence, allowing the mutual awareness of our circumstances to fill the space. Sehun and I are seldom honest with one another, and frankly such candid thoughts make me feel embarrassed. I wonder if we'll ever address the elephant in the room. Probably not, because while he must be aware of my intended departure tomorrow, we're doing what we do best: we ignore it.
But perhaps that's just the best way to go around it.
Brush all the dirt and grime and things that make us feel under the proverbial rug.
I certainly am very well-versed in that skill.
Sehun's hand slowly lifts from my hip and he grasps my hand, interlacing his fingers with mine. I peel myself off the kitchen counter and follow his lead, accompanied by the feelings of anticipation and excitement swelling in my core.
With ease, we traverse through the maze of Baekhyun's house and I follow him up a set of spiral, autumn-polished wooden stairs.
Perhaps this is the best time to run.
Perhaps what happens between closed and locked doors is not for me.
Perhaps with my due departure tomorrow, what's really best for my little heart or any other organ that feels equally mad and ready to leap out my chest, is for me to simply turn and leave.
Shake Sehun's hand, tell him we had a good run while it lasted, and not award the boy the power to pulverise my heart or make a goodbye more painstaking than it needs to be.
But, like Sehun, I have never been the best at following rules.
And hence, despite the parts of my rational self that are protesting against me for following him to the peak of the stairs, I let him guide me in a direction that edges us closer to a bedroom door.
This is a bad decision.
This is a seriously bad decision.
But fortunately, I'm primed for bad decisions.
Hi ty decision-making skills, my name's Juri.
But anyway, the smug boy ahead of me turns around and bestows upon me a small grin, causing the immediate influx of all heat to my ears and cheeks.
I liked what we started the day in the courthouse.
I think I'll love how we'll finish it.
"Last chance to back out," Sehun smirks, nudging his head in the direction of the door, hand resting on the horizontal metal door handle.
It's a little embarrassing to have to answer him so brazenly, but I simply chew on my bottom lip and timidly shake my head in the negative.
"You sure?" he asks again, and this time I notice a regretful sigh leave his lips.
I'm a little confused by the sight, but nevertheless I nod again with a blink.
Sehun presses his lips together and I suspiciously watch his jaw tense before he relinquishes the grip on my hand and opens the door, placing a hand at the small of my back when I slowly enter the space.
Complete and utter darkness.
The lights are on now, and they're blinding. I flinch at the sudden everything—the lights, the bodies, the screams. Upon pouncing backward, I snap my head to the side and raise my forearm above my head, shielding myself from whatever the hell it is that I've been attacked by.
I blink rapidly, slowly lowering my arm as I peer back at the several pairs of eyes staring at me with hopeful expectation.
Leading the crowd it seems, is my little friend. The annoyingly loud one that insists on repeating the first syllable of my name like a broken record.
Instantly, I gawk at Sehun with a bewildered look and he only presses his lips into a thin line, looking rather bored and not at all surprised.
The plan all along?
This is what was planned behind the lock?
"Surprise, JuJu! You're surprised, right? I knew it!" Baekhyun beams, giggling rather proudly as he skips over and hugs my arm. "I wanted to surprise you for real this time! Parties are always better when they're unexpected, so we wanted to show you what we prepared for you!"
My eyes flutter across the room and I eye with awe all the decorations they have set up that play their part in the myriad of colours and shapes. It's overwhelming at first, but not at all unwelcome.
The primary culprit in my eye is the big white banner stretched across the wall, reading We'll miss you, JuJu!
The handwriting is shockingly ugly. I make a mental note to ask Baekhyun if he had written it with a pen between his feet.
In part of this explosion of colour, I notice how rainbow streamers have been taped across the walls… and they've also stuck on large, cut-out printed images of my literal face.
Okay… weird decor… but thanks, Baekhyun?
"Do you like it? I thought it would look more personal," Baekhyun explains, joining me as we view me and my many facial expressions: there's stoic Juri, angry Juri, happy Juri, and sad Juri. Huh. I don't even remember seeing him take so photos of me, but… okay, I guess.
"Sure." I answer him with a smile. I'm definitely not a little creeped out right now. This is clearly supposed to be a grand gesture, so I've settled by plastering on an awkward grin, now glancing around at the rest of the guests in the room.
There's the familiar crowd—my best friend Minji, whose shoulders are a coat rack for Chanyeol's arms, and of course Junmyeon, Mina, and Jongin. Baekhyun must know me a little too well, specifically that I don't really have any other friends, so it seems like the other party guests I had seen before have been left behind.
Given that this room is a larger bedroom that fits enough of us, I realise earlier that I had been confused since the party didn't seem so personal.
And now it does.
It feels right.
And despite the fact that I definitely had other plans for being behind this closed door, I can't help but feel an uncontainable mass of joy.
"Baekhyun… I-I don't even know what to say. I don't know how to thank you," I turn to him with a slow blink, smile morphing into a more genuine shape as I face him.
He flashes me his set of pearly whites, with light shoves urging me to the centre of the bed. Eventually he gets me to sit along the edge and shut my eyes, before placing a rather hefty object on my lap.
Once he tells me I can open my eyes, I realise that it's a brown cardboard box strung together by a white ribbon. Excitement for this gift is what leads me when I carefully unravel the knot that adorns the roof of the box, which when unstrung allows me to lift it and peer inside.
Inside the box, they've shoved various mementos, presumably for me to take when I leave tomorrow.
I begin giggling uncontrollably at some of the items, because they evoke several of my favourite memories with them, most of them from the facility. One by one, I pull them out from their captivity and laugh.
An access card.
A recipe book.
A packet of ramen.
A bottle of orange juice.
"You made me a recipe book?" I lift up the A5-sized book and flip through its pages, Baekhyun's barely legible handwriting scrawled on the paper. Man, the boy's cute and all, but handwriting is an addition to his very long list of things he's absolutely terrible at.
"Of course, JuJu, I wouldn't want you to starve without me."
I softly smile to myself, knowing full-well that there is probably some demonic energy in this recipe book. There's no way I'm going to replicate a single one of these recipes without getting possessed or something.
"I love it," I shut the book and grin up at Baekhyun, instantly earning me a tight hug.
Much to my relief, he's handling my to-be departure much better than last time we spoke (no more wailing, for instance), so I guess taking the reigns in planning this 'surprise' party had really helped with his coping.
Baekhyun continues to ramble on about the various other gag gifts they've included in this box, and for a few non-stop minutes I'm completely propelled into this conversation. Eventually it comes to my attention that Sehun has been silently staring at me this whole time, although once I lift my head and stare at him past Baekhyun's shoulder, we merely stay silent and disallow the words from passing our lips.
Whatever we had planned behind this locked door would have broken us to irreparable shards.
The party rages on, and since its uncasing I have found my seat on the couch. Well, not really—the rest of them occupy its seats and instead, I'm leaning against the arm rest, silently looking onto their game of Mario Kart.
Since their little surprise earlier, they had introduced me to rest of the party festivities they had planned for the night—I'm rather pleasantly surprised that the night had turned out to be quite the tame experience, barring the one time Baekhyun shoved ice down Junmyeon's pants for insulting his culinary skills.
In part of their endless competition, they've pulled out the Nintendo Switch and as if their friendship wasn't already rocky, Junmyeon and Baekhyun are currently facing death off by racing fictional characters in fictional racing karts. They're hardly children but they're certainly acting like it, tossing various colourful insults across the room.
"You race like my mom!"
"Oh yeah? Well, your mom's y so I guess I race like I'm y—"
"Shut up! You look like a talking butthole—"
"Not according to your mom last night—"
Listening to them bicker, I think I can feel the physical sensation of my poor brain cells shrivelling up to die. Baekhyun and Junmyeon are idiots by themselves, and when you put them together it's an atomic bomb filled with contagious stupidity.
I sigh to myself and take another sip from my cup, which is home to one of Junmyeon's low-alcoholic fruity punches. Thankfully, with Baekhyun successfully distracted I didn't have to drink the boy's foul (and definitely poisoned) mixture. I decided to quietly pour it down the sink while Junmyeon had made me this instead.
Like a pathetic idiot, my mind begins to float off to wonder where Sehun had disappeared.
It's been an hour or two since they surprised me in that room. Since then we've had cake, they demanded the details to my new address and I gave them a fake one in fear Baekhyun would show up unsolicited, and we even played some drinking party games and had successfully gotten Minji drunk as a pirate.
At this point in the night I'm a little worn out and my social battery has depleted, although I would be lying if I said that I didn't want to talk to Sehun before leaving tomorrow. I realise that we haven't really had a normal conversation in forever, because we're either fighting and yelling at each other or his tongue is down my throat… so, uh, safe to say a lot of diplomatic conversation has not been exchanged.
However, before I have the opportunity to take another sip of Junmyeon's lovely beverage, the cup is ripped from my hand.
"You should slow down the drinking, lightweight."
Speaking of the devil.
He always seems to appear when I start thinking about him, like I have some weird magical ability that conjures up handsome, toxic bad boys who have a penchant for making me feel weird things.
And thank god for it.
Again, you can't fault me for being elated by his presence.
What can I say? Being about hot people is a massive plus.
"You haven't had anything to drink all night." I smile back, standing from my seat on the arm rest to face him. I push against the bottom of my cup in his hands, bringing it closer to his lips so that he'll take a sip of my drink.
He accepts it and while the liquid travels down his throat, I watch his frown deepen. After his sip he lowers the cup and stares at me with mild curiosity, tongue glazing over his lips to retrieve the remnants.
"It tastes like the colour pink," he tells me.
"Are you telling me my drink tastes like a colour?" I squint at him in a playful tease. "Did you drink something Baekhyun made? I think there's something wrong with you."
Sehun looks at me with a face of amusement. "Believe it or not, things can taste colours, Nam Juri."
"Believe it or not, you were definitely dropped as a child."
He barks out a small chuckle. I watch as he quietly settles the cup down on a nearby coffee table and invades my personal space with one step forward.
Almost instantaneously, the atmosphere around us shifts and I gulp to myself, unable to retract my gaze from his. Goddammit, I already want to kiss him. I want my hands in his hair and I want his arms around my waist, but we're in the living room and it's probably not romantic or socially appropriate given that Baekhyun is screaming profanities at the TV screen right now.
It's enough that we're drinking from the same cup, but it's another thing when he carelessly steps into my space like my head isn't already spinning from the amount of Sehun I've had the opportunity to consume these past few days.
An addiction. A favourite drug that I know I shouldn't enjoy, but I do.
"Nam Juri, you taste like a colour, too."
Sehun smirks now, watching my eyes round.
Images of every time he's ever had a taste of me begin to flash at the forefront of my mind. He's had a pretty good taste, one that nobody has ever had access to.
He and I have tasted each other too many times, but I'm insatiable.
So many times, and somehow not enough times.
Too much and too little.
"Red, you taste like red."
My brows fall. "Red?"
"Red." Sehun's eyes quickly flicker behind me, perhaps ensuring that the boys on the couch are still fixated on their games.
When our eyes meet again, there's a small smile on his lips. "When we kiss, all I taste is red."
How cryptic, but I think I understand him perfectly fine.
Red is love and red is anger.
Red is courage and red is danger.
Red is exciting.
Red is unpredictable.
Red is volatile.
Sehun and I are red.
He gave us a colour.
"Listen, Juri…" Sehun mumbles, brows settling closer to his eyes as they turn with an intensity that deserves my undivided attention. "I have somewhere to take you."
Somewhere with Sehun?
Count me in.
He already knows that I'll agree, so I don't have to say another word when I follow him through the back exit. Even when I spare a prompt glance behind my shoulder I notice that everybody else is too involved with the party to notice, so I don't bother bringing their attention to our departure.
Silently, Sehun and I walk through the back doors and around the house until we arrive at the front driveway, where we approach a motorcycle parked along the side of the road.
I didn't notice it when Minji and I had arrived earlier.
"Is that yours, Sehun?"
Well, I hope so.
I'm not really ready to be an accomplice to another episode of vehicle theft.
"Mm. Did you forget already? You asked to learn how to ride it."
I suddenly recall the memory of that night, when we had snuck out of the facility. He taught me to drive a car and stupid, cocky me thought it would be a good idea to jump straight into learning how to drive a reckless two-wheeled iron horse.
The motorcycle is eye-catching, no doubt. It's sleekly coated in a matte black paint that, if not for the gold accents and detailings, would blend into a shadow at this time of the night. I walk over and feel the smooth metal under my hands, appreciating its powerful build and construction.
"You're kind of cool, Oh Sehun," I clutch onto one of the handles, realising that this might just be the first time I've seen a motorcycle up-front. Something like this suits him—it's fun, a little dangerous, and very lone-wolf, but with an option that welcomes one selected guest.
He exhales in amusement. "Didn't realise this was all it took for you to finally admit that you like me."
I scoff, twirling around with folded arms. "And who said that I like you?"
The smile on my face is definitely betraying the tone of my voice.
"Well," he approaches the bike and lifts up the back seat to pull out a helmet that had been tucked away. "We'd have a problem if that weren't the case."
I freeze when he secures the helmet over my head and adjusts the length of the chin strap until it sits comfortably beneath my chin. I stare at him silently, observing his face of concentration as he secures the clip and tucks a few loose strands of my hair away from my features.
"For safety," he explains, finally pulling the face shield down in front of my eyes and providing me with a mischievous smirk. "Suits you," he adds, patting my head twice through the material.
I flinch, scowling at the noise.
It's hard not to brazenly admire him when he shoves his own helmet on his head and climbs onto the bike. Without much of an explanation from the boy, I'm gawking as he seats the bike between his legs and settles his hands on each of the handles, tossing his head back to gaze at me.
With his all-black attire and the leather jacket he had slapped on before we left, he embodies the quintessential image of a typical bad boy. Again, it really shouldn't be as appealing as it is. I shouldn't be this stupid and reckless to want to be with a guy like him, but I allow myself to indulge in this sight just this once.
Thank you lord for this eye sustenance.
I am very satisfied with what I am seeing right now.
"What are you doing? Get on."
"Huh? Oh, right."
I toss my head behind my shoulder for a quick observative glance and bite my bottom lip, eventually climbing over the vehicle and seating myself behind him. Though rather tentative with my actions, I slowly lean my body onto his and wrap my hands around his waist, hoping the action doesn't scare him or make him kick me off.
Notably, he doesn't seem to mind it, so I tighten my grip about his core before he revs the engine and we race off.
Being on a motorcycle and in a car are two very different experiences.
My father hated motorcycles.
He used to say that they were dangerous. That they made you vulnerable. That in a car, the vehicle protects you—while in a motorcycle, you have the duty of protecting the vehicle.
In saying that, being in a car never really made me feel all that safe. Riding inside a metal casing was not really successful in quelling the normal paranoia of a child, but with my father's insistence, driving on a motorcycle like this would've just been unspeakable if you had asked me five years ago.
I wouldn't have trusted myself to drive a motorcycle safely, let alone be on the backseat with another person in charge of my fate.
But oddly enough, there's something about being vulnerable with Oh Sehun like this that makes me feel even more protected.
It's oxymoronic, but the closer we inch to danger, Sehun makes me feel safer than ever.
I love this about him—I love it all. I love that my heart is racing; that the thunderous noise of the motorcycle is all I hear; that with each bump on the road my arms wrap tighter around his core and the side of my face digs deeper into the expanse of his back.
Danger means thrill, and with Sehun I feel alive.
The more I think about it, we really are red.
We are dangerous, and exciting, and oxymoronic.
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