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Kris, Yixing, Lu Han, and Zitao meet in an exchange program in South Korea.

Well, okay, Kris met Zitao on Weibo a few months before in a half-ass attempt at learning some Chinese and Zitao somehow knew Lu Han, who claims, to this day, to have known Yixing since the womb.

Really, Yixing is just there for kicks.

 

 

 

They officially meet up in a Starbucks near the university and Yixing watches placidly as Lu Han engages in a rapid Chinese conversation with Zitao. Kris looks a little lost.

Someone walks up to their table. “Lu Han?” He’s relatively short, sporting thick-framed glasses and a muscle tee. His hair looks artfully spiked up and his smile is just gummy enough to be hot.

Lu Han looks up and switches to Korean easily, although talking a little slower, “Minseok! Long time no see!” He grabs a chair from another table and all but pushes Minseok into it, who laughs at Lu Han’s fluttering hands. Lu Han embodies everything a social butterfly wants to be.

“This is the first time we’re meeting in person,” Lu Han says to the rest of the table, settling back in his seat with a pleased expression. “But we vidcam a lot, so. Basically, we’re already best friends. Not counting Yixing.”

Everyone exchanges greetings. By the time they’re getting ready to leave, Kris is poking at Minseok’s cheeks and muttering baozi and Zitao is hanging off Lu Han, whining ge and Yixing is dimpling at Minseok, who now knows a handful of curse words in Chinese.

 

 

 

Yixing joins a dance club and comes back to his and Lu Han’s shared apartment with Sehun and Jongin hanging on either side of him.

“Ah, fuck,” Lu Han says from the couch when the three of them walk past the door and into view, “I’ve got, like three more people coming later. Also, hi.”

Yixing smiles serenely, patting Jongin on the head when he glances at Yixing worriedly. “Then it’s a good thing we went grocery shopping today, isn’t it?”

“Sorry, we didn’t mean to intrude—” Jongin starts, and Sehun’s mask of boredom is crinkled by the furrow in his eyebrows. He picks at the hem of his shirt.

“No, no,” Lu Han insists, getting up and brushing off his boxers. Empty wrappers of junk food fall from his lap and litter the floor. “I just wasn’t ready for any visitors yet. Obviously, I’m not in a state to entertain guests, so it’s not you, it’s me. Don’t worry about it.”

He bends down to pick up the wrappers and shoots Yixing a halfhearted glare, “You should tell me the next time you bring sweaty, hot guys over. God, what are best friends even for these days.”

“Bringing sweaty, hot guys over,” Yixing says, wiping imaginary tears from his eyes, “God, and you don’t even appreciate my efforts.”

“Fuck you,” Lu Han says in Chinese and Yixing grins, taking both Jongin and Sehun’s hands and leading them into his room.

 

 

 

Sehun warms up to Lu Han faster than the shower water, and after Jongdae, Kyungsoo and Junmyeon make their appearance, he splays across the floor and brings Lu Han with him.

“You’re like a huge cat,” Lu Han complains, when Sehun pins him down by using him as a pillow. “And you’re comfy,” Sehun sighs, content. Yixing watches them fondly and Junmyeon records their bickering for his Snapchat story.

“Children, please,” Jongdae says, arms in the air in a mock-calming gesture.

Jongin flops down on a beanbag chair and his sweater slides down his shoulder. It happens so much that Yixing has lost count of how many times he’s reached over and attempted to cover him back up.

“Hi, Kyungsoo hyung,” Jongin says, quiet. He plays with his fingers timidly.

Kyungsoo nods at him, smiling softly. Jongin smiles back so hard, it looks like his face is going to break. It seems like he has a bad case of hero-worship festering, which is only made worse with Kyungsoo’s indulgence. It seems like the same is also happening with Sehun about Lu Han.

“Oh, yeah. Introductions: Junmyeon and Jongdae are from this acapella group I want to join and I met Kyungsoo in line for the audition.” Lu Han tries to explain, mostly to Yixing, as he grunts from under Sehun and waves in their general direction.

Junmyeon looks prim and proper, sitting up straight and setting down his chopsticks without a noise. His poise would probably be a little intimidating if it wasn’t for the breaks in it to giggle at Sehun’s antics and mother hen the others, even the ones he’s just met. “You’ll both make it,” Junmyeon assures, after swallowing his mouthful. “You’re really good. And I already put you both on our roster, so there’s no backing out now.”

Laughing, Jongdae reaches over to snag some vegetables to put in his own bowl. “You don’t know what you’re getting into.”

Yixing finishes setting out the dishes and reaches over to fix Jongin again. Kyungsoo eyes Lu Han batting at Sehun and sighs, “Why is this my life.”

 

 

 

“Whoa,” Kris says when he walks in, a little later into the night.

Lu Han follows his line of sight. He comes up to pat Kris’ shoulder understandingly. “His name is Junmyeon and he’s out of your league. Good luck.”

Sehun and Zitao snicker off to the side, dodging Kris’ attempts at smacking them.

“Minseok is out of your league, too.” Kris retaliates to Lu Han, way too late.

 

 

 

Apparently, Lu Han and Yixing’s apartment is the biggest of all ten of them. So, basically, everyone likes to treat it like a common lounge, which turns into a restaurant, which turns into a place to crash when it gets too late.

Jongdae and Kyungsoo bring two more people into the circle, Chanyeol and Baekhyun, who act more like bickering puppys than college students.

Yixing considers investing in some more seating, especially since the couch set Lu Han had bought can only fit roughly six people, if they squeeze. Even with the beanbags scattered around the floor, there’s not enough places for all of them to sit.

But it ends up being okay, because Lu Han has taken up a semi-permanent residence on Minseok’s lap and Yixing finds himself tangled with both Jongin and Sehun in a messy excuse for cuddling that always works out.

Baekhyun and Chanyeol have a system where they give Kyungsoo one of two seats and they switch on and off for the other one. If all else fails, they all just drag out bedding and sleeping bags and the whole living room becomes a place to relax and impromptu sleepovers happen at least once a week.

Everything seems to just work somehow and the twelve of them sort of become this domestic family group thing. Zitao and Sehun appoint Kris and Junmyeon as the parents, which makes Kris flush to his hairline and Junmyeon grin sheepishly.

And even when feeding twelve mouths starts to take a dent on their budget—because Yixing goes out shopping more than twice a week now and watches the cash register ring up increasingly higher total costs—their fridge begins to be filled with food he doesn’t remember buying.

In the next few days, he finds out Lu Han had pulled the others to the side and mentioned it when he went shopping. When he catches Sehun and Jongin shoving a box of ice cream cones into the fridge and Minseok slipping a box of tea packets in the cabinets, Yixing makes sure to cook dinner especially delicious that night.

 

 

 

“DUDE, we should make a YouTube channel,” Chanyeol says, surging forward and almost knocking Kris over. He’s in a group with Lu Han, Kris, and Jongdae for a social media presentation.

Jongin and Sehun have recently installed their xbox in the apartment and are currently fighting over the controllers, which are then snatched up by Baekhyun and Zitao. When they’re not squabbling over games, they like to pass time by fighting over Yixing, who finds the practice endearing.

Kyungsoo quietly helps Yixing wash the vegetables before dropping them into a pot for soup. Junmyeon and Minseok have Accounting, so they’re arriving late.

“We could, like, chart the views each type of video and topic would get and how media affects the public and vice versa?”

“What,” Kris says and Jongdae looks like he’s considering it.

“Let’s do it,” Lu Han grins and lies down on the floor, using Kris’ lap as a cushion. “Does anyone have a camera we could use? It’s for science. Technically, off some sort.”

A murmur of no’s echoes through the room, and Sehun pouts from behind Zitao, nudging him with a socked foot for the stolen controller. He glares at the back of Zitao’s head as he says, “You could use your webcam?”

“It’s 2015 and we’re going to use a webcam to make a YouTube channel,” Jongdae says flatly, when no one says anything. “We’re off to a great start, guys.”

 

 

 

The first few videos that they start making are awkward introductions and getting used to the camera. They leave the editing to Chanyeol, who puts soft guitar music as the background and adds their bloopers at the end of each videos.

In addition to group videos, Lu Han starts to make individual videos, stuff like him mouthing the lyrics to the Pussycat Dolls and ranting about the neighbor who refuses to be environment aware and keeps the hall light on 24/7.

“And guess what. He leaves the windows and door open when he’s blasting AC. Every time!! I walk past!! I swear he’s doing it on purpose,” Lu Han whisper-yells into the camera, which the gang had recently purchased after everyone pitched in. Even Sehun.

Kyungsoo’s napping in the other room and that’s why Lu Han’s attempting to be quiet and Baekhyun flits over, flashing a grin and a peace sign at the camera. Minseok walks past and ducks his head shyly, which erupts a whole comment thread on him.

Chanyeol takes Lu Han’s videos as a segue to upload himself strumming the guitar and softly singing along. As time goes on, he gets more brave and even twinkles (“Augh, god,” Jongin shies away from the screen when he sees that part) into the camera, singing loudly and playfully ending his videos with a message for the growing number of fans in the comments section.

Lu Han starts to pull Yixing into his videos and people start to request for the “cute boy with the dimples.” When he brings Minseok into them, a whole wave of fans start the first ship of the channel.

Jongdae singing covers easily gets views from being introduced in one of Chanyeol’s vlogs and his sparse appearances in their early group project videos.

Their subscribers hit the thousands and continue growing. The project ended weeks ago, but they all keep uploading videos by the day.

“So, this month, I recommend Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Lotion. It has an SPF of 15, and let me tell you how important SPF is, okay. Never leave the house without some on,” Kris says into the camera, sifting through his pile of facial products. Jongdae and Baekhyun snigger from behind him, both seated on Yixing’s bed.

 

 

 

Lu Han eventually drags everyone into a video, stuffing them all into Yixing’s room and locking the door. Kyungsoo tries to climb over Jongin and Chanyeol to get out, but Kris blocks the door and Zitao clings onto him before he can do anything else.

“Hey everyone, so I know over the past few weeks you’ve all been seeing a bunch of people that aren’t Jongdae, Chanyeol, Kris, or myself, and there have been a big number of requests for them.”

Luhan introduces everyone, one by one, before getting to the main topic of the video: “And today, we’re going to be doing the whisper challenge.”

“Since you’ve seen a lot of the four of us, we’re going to be more of the audience today, while the other eight try to complete this game,” Chanyeol says, cheerfully trapping Kyungsoo between his legs.

Junmyeon leans over to Jongdae, whispering, “What’s the whisper challenge?” He doesn’t get an answer, as Jongdae and Kris herd everyone out, excluding Lu Han, Chanyeol, and Baekhyun.

Lu Han gets up to adjust the lighting as Chanyeol hands Baekhyun headphones.

“The point of this game is for one person to say something while the other person has music playing, so they can’t hear what’s being said. Since we have so many people, we’re going to go down the lane and hear the results from the last person down the lane.”

“Ready?” Chanyeol asks Baekhyun, who nods enthusiastically.

 

 

 

“CHICKENS IN AMERICA ARE PAINTED RAINBOW,” Baekhyun screams at Kyungsoo, who’s wearing headphones and staring unblinkingly at Baekhyun with wide eyes.

“WHAT,” Kyungsoo yells back and tries to ignore Chanyeol giggling himself into a pile of uselessness on the side.

After three times of Baekhyun’s traumatic screaming, they bring in Minseok and pass him the headphones.

“Kimchi peppers and pouring rain,” Kyungsoo says slowly, lifting his shoulders with uncertainty when Minseok grimaces at him, confused. Lu Han comes into Minseok’s line of view and throws him a thumbs up before they take off the headphones for Yixing, who’s brought in by Kris.

“I didn’t even???” Minseok protests die as he figures it’s too late to do anything about how he didn’t catch anything Kyungsoo had said.

Yixing puts on the headphones and turns to the camera, “They messed it up already, didn’t they.”

Chanyeol wheezes from the ground as Baekhyun and Kyungsoo settle on Yixing’s pillows, Lu Han spread across their laps. “Yeah,” Lu Han says, but Yixing can’t hear him anymore.

 

 

 

The line ends with Sehun deadpanning, “Let’s cut Jongdae’s perm after porridge pains.”

Jongdae gasps and his hands fly to his head protectively. “Excuse you; my perm is art in its purest form.”

The video ends with the majority of them giggling and lying on each other, dogpiled on top of Chanyeol as punishment for laughing at all of them.

The original sentence is american cheese is pretty revolting.

The video is so popular that Chanyeol uploads a whole new video that consists of their bloopers. It gets even more views than the original.

 

 

 

Minseok, in collab with Jongdae, uploads videos for people who want to learn Chinese but don’t know where to start. They’re both in the same class and have some of the highest grades that aren’t from native Chinese speakers, and Yixing had suggested making a segment to help fellow students out.

They open with the basics and cover what each of them struggle with, which boils down to tone most of the time.

“There’s four tones that are used, and the way they’re used are very particular,” Minseok says, putting his flash cards into order again at the end of the video. Jongdae nods sagely next to him, “Comment below with what you think Lesson Two should cover and maybe we’ll give you a shoutout!”

When they stop recording, they find Yixing giving them an approving look from the other side of the room.

Soon, everyone knows enough Chinese to get through a casual conversation, and Lu Han, Kris and Zitao are thoroughly impressed. And Yixing’s been a believer since the beginning of the series, so.

 

 

 

(“What’s the best way to learn a language?” Lu Han reads from a piece of paper pulled from a bowl filled with them. He’s filming for a Q&A video. “Be in a relationship.”

Minseok watches the video and pauses right after Lu Han looks up from saying that, expression soft. He finds Lu Han and kisses him until Lu Han’s panting dirty words in Chinese into Minseok’s mouth and Minseok’s nothing if not a fast learner.)

 

 

 

It’s sort of an unspoken thing that they all watch each other’s videos. Even if it’s Kris’ haul of beauty products in collab with Zitao, Junmyeon will drag whoever’s the closest to sit in front of the screen and play the upload in 1080 HD quality.

Really, it’s become a ritual every few days to gather and watch the newest video, no matter what it’s about.

Junmyeon likes to be nerdy and say that they’re each other’s biggest fans. Baekhyun and Sehun and Chanyeol all groan about him being too cheesy and gross. (But it’s totally true.)

 

 

 

“Do you guys watch each other’s videos,” Chanyeol reads from a slip of paper a few days later when filming for his version of a Q&A segment.

“No,” Kyungsoo roughly says from beside him. “Especially not yours.”

Zitao pokes his head into the room, “KYUNGSOO HYUNG! I know for a fact you watched my latest review on brand name clutches!”

Kyungsoo closes his eyes and blatantly ignores Zitao’s whining. He’s, unfortunately, also out when Chanyeol edits and uploads the video, so he can’t do anything about the fans squealing about it in the comments.

 

 

 

stop sending us your drunk texts, Kyungsoo types out to the Line group chat that has all twelve of them included in it.

His phone lights up before he sets it down on the table. ksoo ure jus jealous ure not w us rn, is what Chanyeol texts back, along with a crying bear sticker.

Yixing cheerfully takes a selfie of himself with the refrigerator in the background. please pick up a dozen eggs and milk when you get back, thanks <3 ps. be safe!

fuck, sehun just spilled his drink on me, Baekhyun complains to the chat the same time Jongdae sends a blurry picture of Jongin moving to the exit of the karaoke room.

LOOK AT WHAT U DID, Chanyeol yell-texts, and Kyungsoo walks by Yixing to give him a high-five.

fuck u guys, Kris texts, 6 hours later into the morning.

 

 

 

“Oh, and if you want to send your letters or whatever you feel like sending, we just got a P.O. box! The next video will be featuring you guys,” Jongdae tacks on to the end of one of his videos.

They wait a few days before checking their mail and find it overflowing with letters and gifts. Kyungsoo and Yixing get aprons and a cute rice scooper with a face on it and they all get a lot of fanart of themselves.

Kris gets packages in the mail with products from various brands, asking for reviews and advertising. There’s so much that he ends up having to give out a lot of the stuff he gets to the others.

Sehun shrieks into Jongin’s ear when he unwraps a game that’s supposed to be released next week and they all hurry back to the apartment to make a thank you video for the fans.

 

 

 

Yixing starts making individually-centric videos the latest, preferring to guest star in everyone else’s. He brings Kyungsoo into his first one as a way to ease into the scene, and their perfect harmonizing and Yixing’s handsome guitar playing makes the comment section overflow.

finally, some of the comments sing, regularly scheduled yixing screentime. Some of them may or may not be from Jongin or Sehun.

“Thanks for giving us so much love,” Yixing says in his next video, sincere. “We would be nothing without all of you supporting us.”

His videos usually consist of dreamy recountings of his day and self-composed songs. Out of popular demand, Yixing’s decides to be the first of the channel to host live cams, interacting with fans and learning about their daily lives.

In his daily vlogs, Baekhyun complains about Yixing being such a ladykiller without trying. Jongin blushes out a response every time Yixing (or, sometimes, Sehun) is mentioned in one of his videos. The fans eat it all up.

Kyungsoo invites Yixing to guest star in his weekly cooking sessions and eventually, even Chanyeol and Kris know how to cook some basic dishes.

 

 

 

Sehun and Jongin mostly just upload their screenplay of different video games they try out when they’re released. The audio is filled with a lot of screaming and cursing and Baekhyun laughing in the background.

When they don’t upload video game screenplay, it’s practice videos of their dancing, often featuring Yixing. Most of it is choreography by themselves, but they also drag Junmyeon and Baekhyun and everyone else in for girl group dances.

 

 

 

(A lot of the time, after recording practice videos, Yixing will reward Sehun and Jongin with things like kisses and groping and everything just shy of sex because they’re still in the practice room, would you two be a little more patient?

When they walk out of the dance studio, they’re all notably more ruffled than when they stopped dancing. And the two of them like to flank Yixing, looking proud about any marks they’ve left and acting possessive if anyone throws the wrong kind of look at Yixing.

Yixing cheerfully walks between them with a bounce, because ever since this arrangement started, both of their Chinese has gotten significantly better.)

 

 

 

Besides uploading collabs with the others singing, Baekhyun puts up reviews of the latest literature work he’s had to read for class. When he first begins these types of uploads, Zitao has to help him pick up some jaws that dropped during the weekly viewing.

“The professor is actually going through an epic poem phase, so we had to read the Odyssey in, like, two days. God, don’t even get me started,” Baekhyun says, and gets started.

Junmyeon occasionally likes to interject with random facts about the time period or the authors and everyone loves him. Baekhyun makes a segment specifically for Junmyeon because some of his information ends up on Baekhyun’s tests and talking to Junmyeon about these things is like studying without actually working.

 

 

 

They end the year with more than a million subscribers and counting by the day. Yixing politely asks all of them to be in a group video again, and no one can say no.

There are a lot of confessions, like Sehun admitting he was the one to put green hair dye in Zitao’s shampoo and Baekhyun admitting he was the one who kept stealing Kris’ favorite face lotion and replacing it with foot cream.

“It’s okay,” Zitao insists, patting Sehun on the back. “I was planning on dyeing it red for the holidays, but green worked, too.” He flips his fringe out of his face dramatically, “Obviously.”

Kris doesn’t forgive Baekhyun as easily and Baekhyun’s screams can be heard in the background for a good five minutes.

Lu Han kisses Minseok on screen, announcing that they’re going to continue their relationship of eight months over long distance.

Their year of exchange comes to an end, with eight of them sending Kris off to Canada and Lu Han and Yixing to Beijing and Zitao to Qingdao. Chanyeol records almost all of them crying at the airport and the vlog’s comments are filled with sad fans and insisting for the channel to continue on.

“Fuck yeah, we’re keeping this channel alive, who do you guys think we are,” Baekhyun says into the camera for the next video. It’s literally 13 seconds long, ending with Chanyeol popping up in the back and shouting, “YEAH!”

Kris uploads a video of his life back in Canada and documents the significant lifestyle changes through daily vlogs. “It’s really quiet here, without you guys,” he murmurs in one of them, but he bought a hella expensive camera and it picks every word up.

If Junmyeon gets a little emotional when he watches it, no one says anything.

 

 

 

where are you three, Minseok calmly texts to the Line group chat, fighting off a whining Jongin and clingy Sehun.

ZITAO, Baekhyun chimes every day, like clockwork. No one else has the heart to tell him it’s been a week with no response; he probably knows.

Sehun takes turns with Jongin to pine for Yixing and send hopelessly sad but cute stickers and even Kyungsoo gets a little restless in his own Kyungsoo way: are you guys dead.

It nears two weeks and everyone has texted the chat at least once and they all can’t help feel a little empty when they meet up in Minseok and Jongdae’s apartment, short four people.

 

 

 

“GOD. HI, HERE WE ARE,” Lu Han yells into the camera, eyes wide with excitement. The channel experiences a two week radio silence from Lu Han and Yixing and Zitao, which concerns the fans. Lu Han usually uploads videos every other day, and soon, comments asking for him pop up on the older videos.

Yixing cradles a mug in his hands, sipping tea and dimpling. “We had trouble with the vpn connection and the fact that YouTube is blocked in China doesn’t help.” He looks apologetic as Lu Han nods aggressively in agreement.

“Okay, listen. LISTEN. Do you know how long it takes for us to upload a video. DO YOU KNOW. NO. YOU DON’T.” Yixing has to pull Lu Han back from the camera and pat his thigh sympathetically. The veins are starting to stand out from Lu Han’s temples.

“Also, hey babe, I miss you,” Lu Han says, placated, and therefore mushy. It’s a field day for xiuhan shippers.

They record the video in Chinese. They also webcam Zitao, who complains just as much as Lu Han when he first connects.

 

 

 

And because they are very kind people and viewer conscious, they subtitle the video in Korean and send it over to Kris to do it in English. Ever since the surge of international fans, they’ve taken the time to go back and caption their videos in three languages.

Kris complains about it all the time, but he’s always done his subtitles before everyone else anyway.

 

 

 

Minseok makes a response and half of the video is reprimanding Lu Han for being so gross in public and the other half is: “the Minseok equivalent of being just as gross,” as Junmyeon says, right before the camera cuts off.

Sehun and Jongin upload a video a few hours later, playing a session of League of Legends, and the background audio is them subtly complaining about not having received a shoutout by Yixing.

“You two are so dependent,” Jongdae says after watching it. “It’s starting to get concerning.”

Kyungsoo sniffs from his place on the couch. “Yixing likes it and I will never understand why.”

 

 

 

get a wechat, Lu Han texts to the Line chat, after their video is uploaded. vpns are a pain in the ass.

And that’s how the other nine download a Wechat and only have each other on their contact lists, all for the sake of keeping a group chat alive with the boys in China.

Yixing makes a private chat of three, consisting of Jongin, Sehun and himself. It’s safe to say that they are all very pleased with the result.

 

 

 

“Yeah, so there’s a Vidcon in Cali in a couple months, and guess who’s all gonna be there!!” Chanyeol gushes into the camera with Jongdae watching in thinly-veiled disgust on the side.

“US MOTHERFUCKERS,” Lu Han yells, as a screen with Yixing and Zitao on either side of him appears in the video. Lu Han and Yixing are vacationing through Shandong province and have made the stop in Qingdao for a few days. Zitao has taken it upon himself to show them the city. Early in the morning, he takes them to Laoshan and they spend the time after to hop the rocks on the shore and catch up.

Later, when they finish recording for the video, all twelve gather for an extended webcam session with each other, planning on things like how they’re going to meet up and living arrangements. No one explicitly says it, but there’s an I miss you vibe the whole duration, just like all the other times they cam.

“You guys should come to Beijing to visit,” Yixing says offhandedly, and Lu Han grins, smothering his cheek against Yixing’s face.

“We can be your personal tour guides.”

Minseok moves closer to the screen, slinging his legs over Baekhyun’s lap. “Maybe,” he says mysteriously, “We’ll see.” Jongin fidgets behind him and Kris gives them a weird look through his camera.

 

 

 

When Yixing and Lu Han are back in Beijing, Yixing gets a video call through his Wechat.

“Hey.” Jongin appears on screen and Yixing fumbles with his phone, trying to keep a hyperactive Lu Han from knocking him over at the same time. They’re taking a walk around Houhai before going back to their apartment, boba in hand.

The background is unfamiliar and Lu Han squints at Yixing’s phone, “Where are you right now?”

“Beijing airport,” Minseok says, pushing his way onto screen. His smile is wide as Yixing and Lu Han sputter in surprise. “Surprise; we’re here for a week. Can you give us your address so we can taxi over?”

“Sehun wanted to come, but he’s got an exam this week and can’t afford to fail it.” Jongin’s half excited and half moping. “So it’s just us two.”

When they arrive at Lu Han and Yixing’s apartment, Lu Han can’t help but press his teary face into Minseok’s shoulder and Yixing decides to give them (and himself and Jongin) a moment alone by sweeping Jongin into his room.

 

 

 

“Nanluoguxiang,” Yixing annunciates slowly, getting Minseok and Jongin to repeat after him. Lu Han giggles at Jongin, who stumbles over the tones. “It’s where we’re going to go in the afternoon after visiting Yiheyuan.”

Jongin looks helplessly at Minseok, who tests the words out under his breath. Taking Jongin’s hand, Yixing smiles and leads him to the metro station, “You’ll see soon enough.”

They go to the kiosk and Lu Han tells Minseok the station they have to get off at. He lets Minseok buy a temporary metro card for himself and Jongin. Minseok is undeterred by the Chinese and the rushing people in line behind him as he reads the stations one by one and quickly picks out the right stop.

After the cards are spit out by the machine, the four of them go past security check and Lu Han makes them sprint onto the left-side subway instead of waiting for the next one.

To help Minseok practice Mandarin, Lu Han refrains from using Korean and clearly explains to him what they are doing for the day. When Minseok asks for clarifications on a few words, Lu Han translates and Minseok nods, repeating the unfamiliar words a few times.

Jongin doesn’t know as much Chinese as Minseok, so Yixing had taken to murmuring the Korean equivalent of Lu Han’s words into his ear.

“Oh, and if you two want to go to the Great Wall, it’s about a whole day’s trip. We can do that in a few days, after we get everything big in the city out of the way,” Yixing interjects, after Lu Han’s finished explaining about how they’re going to eat dinner in Nanluoguxiang.

Nanluoguxiang is a narrow, but long street with a lot of touristy stores, but the architecture is preserved and traditional.

There’s a Tibetan shop that Jongin gravitates to, and within five minutes, he’s spending money on a necklace the shop owner suggests. It’s teal with Tibetan writing on the front, and Yixing thumbs it, pleased with the way it looks on Jongin’s skin.

Minseok buys a few keychains and Lu Han treats them all to frozen yogurt. When they sit down to eat, Yixing videos Sehun on his phone. Baekhyun, Chanyeol, and Kyungsoo join Sehun on screen and they eat dinner together.

Lu Han vlogs most of their week and uses the video to blatantly advertise Beijing’s top tourist sites. He titles the collection of videos Dream Team Takes On Beijing (Part One). He promises to get the others over to Beijing to star in a Part Two. Zitao makes indignant noises into the group chat, using the audio recording as his medium, when he finds out Jongin and Minseok are in China.

When Jongin and Minseok get back to Korea, they film a video on their thoughts on Beijing and show off all the souvenirs they bought before distributing them to the other six. Sehun twirls Jongin’s necklace around his pointer finger and pouts. In the vlogs Lu Han had shot, Yixing had been filmed playing with it numerous times, Jongin smiling and watching.

“I’m going next time,” Sehun declares, and the others hum in agreement after watching the videos produced from the trip to Beijing.

 

 

 

“We’re getting on the plane, ahhh, byeee,” Lu Han yells as he boards the plane to California, Yixing waving in the background.

Kris waves back to them, Junmyeon and Zitao and everyone else in the background, already reunited a few hours earlier.

“Have a safe flight,” Kyungsoo says from the side, and Jongdae throws them a thumbs up. “See you two soon.”

 

 

 

Lu Han grips Yixing’s hand tightly during take-off and sometimes when they’re in the air and when he accidently looks out the window and all throughout landing. His knuckles turn white from strain, and Yixing strokes his thigh soothingly as he whimpers into Yixing’s shoulder.

“Shh, it’s okay, look,” Yixing assures him and pulls out their camera. They’re a few hours into the plane ride, and Yixing pushes the power button. “Try talking. Anything you want, and forget we’re flying through the air in a metal contraption.”

Lu Han groans and slaps Yixing’s arm lightly, before letting Yixing turn the camera onto him. He doesn’t get go of Yixing’s hand, but his grip loosens after taking a deep breath. It’s not quite nighttime yet, so not too many people are asleep.

Starting off shaky but eventually being distracted by the camera and Yixing’s steady breathing, Lu Han’s ranting about how the latest episode of the traditional drama he’s watching totally killed off the best character and how stereotypical all the dramas are. “They’re all the same, I swear. They just use different characters and add more fighting scenes and are so cheesy, augh.”

Yixing stifles his chuckles by turning to the window and looking out, shifting to block the view from Lu Han. His hand gets a thankful squeeze, and they land in Los Angeles soon after.

 

 

 

Lu Han’s Snapchat story is filled with snippets of their week together in LA, all twelve of them together again since the exchange program ended.

The convention starts and ends without much of a hitch. Chanyeol trips when he gets onto stage, and the twelve boys watch their faces light up on a giant LCD screen behind them.

“Are you all going to stop making videos when you graduate?” One of the audience asks, because some of the seniors’ videos have become less in frequency in preparation for graduation. Minseok has handed off more than a couple Chinese lesson videos to Jongdae to star in alone and Junmyeon has appeared in Baekhyun’s literature segments less and less.

The boys look at each other, and Junmyeon comes forward to answer, shrugging. “Who knows what we’re going to do. The primary reason we’re doing this is because it’s fun for all of us, so for as long as that lasts, we’ll keep on making videos.”

There’s a silence for a moment, and Baekhyun laughs into his mic, “This is like those sports anime where the third-years graduate and everyone cries.”

Everyone laughs.

“But, seriously, don’t worry,” Chanyeol pipes up, voice booming over the speakers. “The end is nowhere near in sight.”

There’s a collective sigh of relief in the audience, and the segment continues on.

 

 

 

“So, we’re going to make this work,” Lu Han says to the boys, who are in the middle of stuffing pizza in their mouths. Minseok reaches over him to grab a napkin. “Like Junmyeon said.”

Sehun cheerfully fights off a jealous Jongin, Yixing on his lap, and Kyungsoo only looks mildly miffed at being stuck between Baekhyun and Chanyeol. No one’s really listening. They all sort of forget that they have flights to catch at the end of the week, to places that aren’t with each other.

“Guyyyss,” Lu Han whines, and Kris rolls his eyes, batting in his direction.

“Yeah, yeah, we’re gonna figure it out,” he says, turning back to Junmyeon as Junmyeon frets over Zitao. “Now, eat your pizza.”

 

 

 

Jongdae wakes up the earliest on the day of their flights back home. It’s their last day in LA, and together, for the foreseeable future.

They booked four hotel rooms, but as everyone can see from his gleeful camera spree around his room, all twelve boys have somehow squeezed in a graceless dogpile onto the two beds they pushed together the night before.

“Fuckyou,” Zitao says in slurred Chinese, when Jongdae does a close up on his face. Zitao rolls over and squishes Chanyeol’s leg and Minseok’s arm underneath him. Yixing sleepily peeks out of his Jongin-Sehun human fort and grabs Jongdae’s wrist, pulling him down and tossing the camera out of reach.

“Sleep now, we’ve got a channel to run when we wake up.”

“SHHHH,” Chanyeol hisses from his position on the bed, not opening his eyes. The room falls silent, and they all drift back to a comfortable sleep.