Title: Unexpected Landmark
Genre: fluff, romance
Word Count: 4,629
Summary: Even if Sehun was a little homesick studying abroad, he expected to make it through. Somehow, he finds a little piece of home at the end of a camera strap.
The first time that Sehun saw Joonmyun, Joonmyun was in front of a very old temple in Osaka, perched on concrete slab. Or at least, most of him was on the slab. Sehun’s first thought was that Joonmyun was going to fall right off the way he tilted and twisted with his camera. The concrete slab wasn’t some treasure of the country or a marker, just a divider really, and Sehun stepped right up to it reaching out and planting a stabilizing hand on Joonmyun’s thigh so that he didn’t see Joonmyun roll off and find himself scrambled on the walkway below.
“Sorry,” Sehun said, almost stumbling over the word in Japanese as Joonmyun looked down at him. And he didn’t know the words for “It looked like you were going to break yourself” in Japanese, so he just put them out there in Korean and hoped his gesture between Joonmyun and the ground filled in the gaps.
“You’re Korean!” Joonmyun said. In Korean. As was obvious. And Sehun was glad he had a concrete slab to lean on as they stared at each other. And Joonmyun started laughing. “I thought it was someone coming to yell at me to get down, even though I have permission to take pictures. Kim Joonmyun.”
Sehun pressed his lips together, trying to process Joonmyun’s smile and the familiar sound of his own language while in a city unfamiliar to him.
“Oh Sehun,” he offered, and it came out just short of shy.
“Oh Sehun,” Joonmyun repeated. “Year?”
It turned out that Joonmyun was older, and Sehun’s ears were burning hot as Joonmyun all but patted his head.
“If you don’t mind hanging on to me, I just need a few more shots?” Joonmyun ventured, and hanging onto him wasn’t exactly a hardship. He got to hear Joonmyun muttering in Korean, which was kind of soothing since he’d been trying to keep up listening in Japanese all day, or the smatterings of English which sometimes went by just too fast. That was the fun and the difficulty traveling alone, not having someone to catch what he couldn’t. But he hadn’t horribly insulted anyone or gotten lost with the exception of missing a bus stop, so he thought he was doing good.
A “few more shots” ended up taking ten minutes, with Joonmyun turning around once and bracing himself on Sehun’s shoulder while tapping through the photos on his camera. There had barely even been a mutter before he’d turned around to get a few more. And so Sehun was a camera stand, or a cameraman stand he wasn’t sure which. But he helped Joonmyun down and really got a look at him. And the size of him. Shorter, and Sehun just barely kept himself from smiling when Joonmyun tilted up his head.
“I’ve run into a few Korean tourists but they haven’t kept me from falling over. Are you on vacation here?” Joonmyun asked.
“University for a while,” Sehun said. “Are you?”
Joonmyun waggled his camera. “This is my job. There are a thousand people who have gone around taking pictures but there are always new angles, new places, new perspectives. And to get paid for the traveling is the best part.”
It sounded like it. A lot better than sitting in a classroom and trying to keep his eyes open, and frowning at tests. They were necessary, and the studying abroad would look good for him, even if his parents had wanted him to go to Europe or something.
“Are you just out exploring the city today?” Joonmyun asked as they walked down the narrow path.
“Sometimes I’m too lazy,” Sehun told him, scratching the back of his neck as they reached a bus stop. “But I figure I’d better see everything I can while I’m here. I like seeing more.”
He even waved his phone around, taking pictures of proof for his parents that he was exploring the local culture.
“Have you been to this shrine yet?” Joonmyun asked, unfolding a piece of paper to show Sehun to a tiny picture. Even from that Sehun could tell he hadn’t been there.
“It’s on my list but I haven’t been yet,” Sehun said.
“If you don’t have anything else to do, did you want to go with me? I can’t promise it’ll be much fun since I’ll be taking pictures, but you can wander and see everything and head out if you get too bored.”
“Yeah, I’ll go. It’s nice to talk to someone who can understand me,” Sehun laughed. “I’ve been trying to study while I’m here but I still can’t speak well.”
“I know some but I get around more by gestures,” Joonmyun admitted. “And my language guide. Sometimes I’m glad I can’t understand when someone starts yelling at me for doing something I shouldn’t.”
“You wouldn’t do anything like that?” Sehun asked, eyeing him.
Joonmyun winced. “Mostly by accident.”
And he swatted at Sehun’s arm when Sehun laughed at him.
It turned out that following a photographer around wasn’t fascinating after all. Oh, watching Joonmyun wiggle around and contort himself and holding up a finger like he was testing a wind and not the light, that was all interesting. Even the absent mumbles were, but just poking around dust with his foot while Joonmyun wandered up and down the same ten feet of ground, not so much.
“I’m just going to…” Sehun gestured toward the trail and waited for Joonmyun who just nodded at him.
He’d heard of absent-minded professors, but an absent-minded photographer was a new one. So he stretched his legs and read his Korean-language brochure which supplemented the little plaques scattered around. There were trees and little ponds, arches. He glanced back every so often to keep an eye on Joonmyun, just making sure he wasn’t toppling into one.
“Oh Sehun!” he heard, half shouted toward him from across the water.
He half thought to ignore it, when people stared toward Joonmyun and then ignored him as some bizarre tourist waved a camera. It was like getting called out by his mom across a store. He hoped his question was obvious in the way he tilted his head toward Joonmyun.
And all Joonmyun did was lift his camera and…
Joonmyun was taking a picture of him. Sehun lifted his fingers in a V, turned and cutely put both hands by his cheek, and then stuck his tongue out. He turned around, patted his own ass, and kept exploring down the trail. There was only so much to see, moving further as Joonmyun did, circling back around and dodging tour groups and children.
Joonmyun leaned against a stone railing, done by the relaxed way he stood as Sehun approached.
“Hope you got good pictures of me,” Sehun said, poking at Joonmyun’s shoulder.
“The most attractive one,” Joonmyun said, clearly ready as he held up the camera and showed a shot of Sehun sticking his backside out.
“You weren’t supposed to take a picture of that.”
“You shouldn’t have offered it then,” Joonmyun teased.
“You got all the shots you needed? Besides my butt.”
“It’s so gorgeous here, it’ll be hard to choose. But yeah, I got enough. I wonder if—“
Sehun’s stomach chose the opportune time to growl, making him grimace even as Joonmyun grinned.
“I guess I should wonder what food we’re eating. I should compensate you for holding me up today.”
“You don’t have to,” Sehun protested.
But it seemed like having a conversation with someone easily conversed with was something Joonmyun was equally ready for.
Even if he did take pictures of both of their plates of food, turning them around until Sehun was exasperated and still hungry. But at least Joonmyun was satisfied, grinning a bit sheepishly as they toasted each other with their glasses. Joonmyun insisted on paying, swatting away Sehun’s fumbling attempts. He almost felt tipsy as he followed Joonmyun onto the street. He’d had a long day exploring, found a man he could talk to. That wasn’t something he wanted to give up right away, that lingering ache of homesickness floating through him. His short break from classes gave him the opportunity to do whatever he wanted. He could’ve taken the train anywhere, if he’d had the money to. If he’d had the money, though, he’d have just flown home for the week, and Joonmyun was the closest thing to that he’d found.
“Where are you going tomorrow?” Sehun asked, hoping he at least sounded casual about it.
“Another shrine in the morning, and then I want to get some shots of the city, really get a feel for it. Busses, subway, things like that. Any tips as someone who lives here?”
“I’m not doing anything tomorrow,” was his offer, and he had a retraction ready at a moment’s notice until Joonmyun nodded.
“That’d be good. Next best thing to a native is someone who lives here.”
Sehun did his best not to wince at the time Joonmyun wanted to get started, but the made a plan to meet at Umeda station to start from there. Sehun’s poor roommate had no idea why he was grinning when he made it home.
And then Sehun cursed himself because he opened his big mouth.
“There’s a kind of cool garden around the corner there,” he said absently, picking at the plastic cover of his water bottle as he followed Joonmyun around.
Absent as he was, Joonmyun caught onto that almost immediately, squinting back at Sehun.
“You’ve been here before?”
There was no way to get out of not answering, and he tried to think of any of them.
“A couple of times?” he said, posing it as a question as though that didn’t make it real.
“You’re wasting some of your vacation to see the same places?” Joonmyun queried.
“Sometimes it’s better to see it with someone,” Sehun muttered. “Plus, what if you fall off something?”
He hoped Joonmyun didn’t take it as an insult. And Joonmyun looked surprised maybe at his audacity for a second before he started laughing. Laughing was better than him being thoughtful and wondering why else. It wasn’t like he could say he was enjoying watching Joonmyun’s butt wiggle while he waited for a shot, even if waiting would be boring and far too early.
“I found an assistant without knowing it!” Joonmyun exclaimed, until Sehun swiped at him. “Okay, okay, I’ll stop teasing. Sometimes it’s nice working alone because there’s no one to get bored or interrupt if I want to hang around and wait for lighting to change, or…”
Joonmyun trailed off, catching his bottom lip between his teeth as though he was imagining someone doing just that. Sehun knew he wasn’t the most patient person on earth but watching Joonmyun was fascinating - and not just for his butt. The way he manipulated the camera, the way his eyes narrowed or head tilted as he scooted an inch this way or knelt down. The focus was kind of sexy, actually. It made him want to know if he’d feel uncomfortable with that focus all on him, or if it’d make him want to squirm and hide.
But there was more to the city than historical places, and that was what Sehun could show. Little cafes tucked into alleys, restaurants with specialties he couldn’t name but loved eating anyway. Murals, and interesting cracks along walls, and crosswalks where such a variety of people crossed. Joonmyun was fascinated with everything, whether it was a cup of coffee, a plate of squid, an uneven curb leading to a market. Sehun saw the press of Joonmyun’s finger on the camera, guided him when he was about to run over people, braced him when Joonmyun needed, just had to get a picture up one of the tall buildings. They walked down alleys Sehun had never seen, and Joonmyun told him of all the places he’d been. Little towns in New York, the countryside of Spain, enduring dust and heat in Australia.
“Sounds lonely,” Sehun said, when Joonmyun lamented having to figure things out alone. He could relate.
“It is,” Joonmyun mused. “But it’s fun, too, and challenging. I know I can do more than I thought I could. Plus I get nice surprises along the way.”
The air froze in Sehun’s lungs when Joonmyun shot a grin up at him before taking a picture of a store’s display. They whiled away the whole of the day that way until Sehun’s feet were aching, though his belly was full because of all the places they kept ducking into to sample. Joonmyun had a hollow leg, and another one for beer, was what Sehun assumed by the time Joonmyun was satisfied.
“D’you like living here?” Joonmyun asked, his face held up by one of his hands. He looked sweet, almost sleepy, and Sehun swallowed hard.
“Most of the time. People are nice. The food is good.” Oh, and his stomach agreed. “I miss my family and friends though. It’s not that far away but it feels like it.”
He wondered if Joonmyun had anyone to miss at home, or if traveling to take pictures was keeping him from missing anyone at all.
Sehun had been to the aquarium, and didn’t feel compelled to go again even if he wanted to just to watch Joonmyun admire it. It had the added benefit of sleeping in, and when Joonmyun got down to the plaza, Sehun was sprawled on one of the stairs listening to music. Joonmyun did his best to get his arm up around Sehun’s neck as they walked toward the shops.
“I could eat. Not fish, I don’t think though,” Joonmyun laughed.
“What was your favorite?”
“Whale shark. I can’t even imagine how much water that tank holds.”
“More than anyone could ever drink.”
“Ew,” Joonmyun said, wrinkling his nose at the thought of it and letting Sehun go like he was covered in fish poop.
That hadn’t been exactly what he wanted, but at least Joonmyun didn’t chase him away as they went around and considered their options for a late lunch. They settled on some kind of beef curry and rice, no fish in sight. They traded knowing glances at that as they traded chopsticks for napkins and settled in.
“It was nice. I got some good shots. I don’t know why I kept looking behind me like you were going to be trailing along.”
Sehun smirked even as he squirmed with pleasure inside. Joonmyun might as well have said that he missed having Sehun along and trying to be cool about it had him ducking his head and feeding his face so that he didn’t have to say anything. He was content to eat and listen to Joonmyun talk between bites. So many places Sehun had only heard about, or talking about his camera like it was a living thing.
“Does it talk back?” Sehun wondered, keeping his feet away so Joonmyun couldn’t stomp on one of them.
“You’d like to know,” Joonmyun sniffed.
But it was nice getting ice cream, relaxing as Joonmyun pulled out his laptop and started showing Sehun pictures of the day before. They were good. Nice light, nice composition as far as he could tell. They weren’t the pretty tourist pictures but they still had appeal. He laughed the first time he saw his face in one, thinking he’d gotten in Joonmyun’s way, at least until the second picture he was in. And the third.
“Were you taking pictures of the street, or of me?” Sehun asked.
“Why not both since both were there?”
Sehun just snorted at him, leaning into the table as Joonmyun kept flipping through. A picture of a sign, a picture of Sehun smiling at his phone, a picture of an open doorway, a picture of Sehun staring into the street.
“Travel to Osaka and see Oh Sehun for a limited time,” Sehun intoned, and Joonmyun’s knuckles in his side made him grunt.
“I was having a hard time focusing,” Joonmyun said, and it sounded more like an admission.
It looked like one, too, the way that Joonmyun was so purposely staring the screen and not at Sehun.
But the next picture was one that looked like it was mid-yawn.
“That’s a terrible picture!” Sehun squawked, reaching for the delete button while Joonmyun smacked at his hand.
“No! I like it. It’s natural.”
“It’s gross,” Sehun said flatly.
“Look, a better one,” Joonmyun said, half a second from yanking the computer away.
And the picture was better, a close-up of Sehun grinning into the camera. His eyes were all lit up like some kind of fairy tale shit, and he remembered that. Joonmyun had just called him a brat for interrupting a shot, and Sehun had been about to tease him. He remembered being dazzled by the flash, grumbling as Joonmyun laughed at him trying to blink away the stars in his eyes.
Sehun flipped through more pictures as Joonmyun took a trip to the bathroom. The afternoon they’d met. Lots of pictures of the shrine, but also of Sehun exploring. Profile shots, frowning at his guide or resting his hands on the stone railways. It was like he had been followed by some personal paparazzi. He didn’t think his face was that interesting, but maybe.
It didn't really make sense to travel for work and get some great shots, but then end up with more pictures of some strange guy almost. If Sehun had found a bunch of pictures of himself on some stranger's laptop he'd have been creeped out thinking he had some kind of a stalker, or possibly just the tiniest bit flattered. But it wasn't some stranger, it was Joonmyun. Joonmyun, who'd been a stranger a few days before but someone Sehun knew to be dorky and funny and warm. Also good looking. If Joonmyun had wanted to hide the fact that he'd taken a ton of pictures of Sehun, he could've. Sehun wouldn't have ever know. Joonmyun had opened his laptop, and opened the pictures folder.
Joonmyun had wanted Sehun to know.
Joonmyun had kept inviting Sehun back out, asking his thoughts, buying him food. Smiling. Apparently not just a friendly smile, Sehun realized, his face heating as he flipped back to the picture of him grinning into Joonmyun's camera. Joonmyun either found Sehun's face fascinating, or he found Sehun fascinating, and the two were different. One was...art. The other was personal.
He closed the laptop by the time Joonmyun got back, standing and gathering up his trash as Joonmyun packed his laptop away and got ready himself.
"Want to ride the Ferris wheel?" Sehun asked.
Joonmyun's lips parted, eyes softening into a smile. "Sure. I hoped to do that today.”
It meant getting tickets, weaving through all the gates, waiting for a car. Joonmyun took pictures up the Ferris wheel while Sehun held onto his arm, and when the attendants motioned, pulled Joonmyun with him into the expanse of one of the wheel’s cars. It never stopped moving, a giant wheel that kept turning no matter what. He'd seen it at night, lit up in blue or or orange or green, but never ridden it, and it made him want to as Joonmyun sat back and made a sound of pleasure as they rose over the shops, over the aquarium, over the city and water.
The ascent was so gradual, and he pointed out landmarks, bridges, as Joonmyun snapped pictures and took note of how high they were climbing. When they crested the top, Sehun moved over to Joonmyun's side, sitting as close as he dared and leaning around Joonmyun to point out a ship. Or at least, he pointed for Joonmyun to see the ship. He was more interested in the curve of Joonmyun's neck, his chin.
"Hey, don't forget your landmark in here," Sehun teased, like Joonmyun was spending too much time taking pictures of the outside.
Joonmyun's eyes were lit with laughter as he turned, an indignant protest written all over his face. The buildings outside were just buildings. The pictures would change, moment to moment based on the camera, the day, the light.
Before Joonmyun could speak, Sehun kissed him. He kissed the mouth he'd admired poking out from beneath the big DSLR, kissed it soft because he didn't know how Joonmyun liked to be kissed. If he wanted to be.
"Oh," Joonmyun said, his lips parting as Sehun pulled back. And he looked up, eyes dark in the shadow of the Ferris wheel car. "You got my attention."
"Not just now," Joonmyun admitted.
And he settled his mouth just as gently against Sehun's, hand curving around Sehun's wrist. He kept holding on, as the wheel kept revolving, taking them down as slowly as it took them up as they leaned together and watched the buildings and the ground grow closer.
"I'll buy you dinner," Sehun offered, and his wallet cringed even as he wanted to cheer because he saw Joonmyun smile.
"I can't say no to that," Joonmyun said as they walked down the ramp from the great wheel.
"Who could refuse this face?" Sehun mused.
And he cringed a bit when Joonmyun didn't even laugh, just looked at him as though the joke was beneath him. Of course, then he bumped shoulders with Sehun the whole way, showing him pictures of jellyfish and dolphins.
When they were outside the little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that Sehun liked, Joonmyun held his arm back for a moment.
"Have you ever stayed in a ryokan?"
"I'm staying in one tonight," Joonmyun said, and that was what he left in Sehun's head as they walked into the restaurant.
Did he want company? Was he feeling lonely all alone in his…really nice bed.
Sehun felt his ears go hot as he pushed it out of his head, instead focusing on what kind of succulent chicken he wanted to fill his stomach with. First food. Then more of Joonmyun.
There were not one but two fluffy futons laid out in the ryokan, and Sehun stepped up onto the smooth floor with his socks.
“Did you have it prepared for two just in case?”
“When I knew we were meeting today. It’s nice to share cultures, right?”
And Joonmyun half snorted half giggled as though choked on his own bullshit, and Sehun wasn’t going to disabuse him of that.
“I should’ve brought clothes.”
“I have some shorts that’ll fit you,” Joonmyun said, and his descent to the low table wasn’t graceful, but it was cute. He waggled one of the drinks they’d gotten out of a vending machine on the way back, inviting Sehun down with him. That didn’t keep Joonmyun from giving Sehun’s taller shoulder a sour look when Sehun pressed up against him.
“How old are you again?”
Sehun laughed, uncapping his bottle. “Why, are you still growing?”
“Maybe,” Joonmyun sniffed.
Joonmyun leaned against him like they’d known each other for years, tracing patterns on the leg of Sehun’s jeans, and all but purring as Sehun wrapped an arm around his shoulders. They watched part of a drama episode like that, the language familiar, the plot ridiculous, laughing. Touching.
Sehun didn’t realize how sensitive the inside of his wrists were until Joonmyun started stroking one, soft fingertips and the scrape of nails. Tracing tendons and veins. It made it hard to concentrate, swallowing hard a couple of times as Joonmyun’s thumb swiped against his skin. But the drama ended, and his arm fell away as Joonmyun sat straighter so he could turn it off, shut the laptop down.
“Want a shower?” Joonmyun asked, squeezing Sehun’s shoulder as he stood.
Not the kind Sehun’s mind supplied. Still, Joonmyun supplied him shorts and a shirt, and he flopped around on one of the futons waiting for Joonmyun to finish up. There had even been a toothbrush for him to use, supplied by the ryokan. By smashing his face into the pillow, he got a nice view of Joonmyun’s ankles as he came out of the bathroom, puttering on the tatami-covered floor before making his way toward the futons.
“You going to sleep on top of the covers?” Joonmyun teased, peeling back his own and sitting, spindly legs and all.
“No. Just waiting for you.”
They were an arm’s-length apart, Joonmyun’s face almost glowing in the light from outside. Some kind of moisturizer. That was cute. So was the way he held out an arm as Sehun scooted closer, wrapping it around Sehun’s neck and humming into the kiss. Joonmyun pulled him inch by inch onto the futon with him until they were tangled together, arms, legs. Joonmyun made the most interesting sounds, little pleading moans as Sehun kissed him. It made him imagine rolling right over on top of him under the fluffy cover and just…having everything. Everything he wasn’t ready for, and had nothing to help with. He groaned, pressing his face into Joonmyun’s neck.
“You don’t have—“
“No,” Joonmyun said, and that regret spoke for both of them.
But whatever, kissing was cool, too. And he’d taken care of himself in the shower in case anyway, so. He pressed a kiss to Joonmyun’s neck and sighed heavily, resting like he was dead.
“I don’t think this was meant for two. But don’t move,” Joonmyun said, and his breath hitched as Sehun tickled his belly. They’d deal. Get the other cover, or something.
“All because I kept you from falling.”
“Sehun,” Joonmyun said, his hand all over Sehun’s neck, the edges of his hair. “How long until you go back to Korea?”
“How long until you go back to Korea?” Sehun countered. “I’m here five more months.”
“I go home sometimes between assignments,” Joonmyun said. And he dipped his fingers in the hollow of one of Sehun’s collarbones. “Osaka isn’t very far from home.”
Maybe it meant visits or maybe something else. But when Joonmyun nuzzled against his face and kissed him again, he was ready.
It was nice being home, even if home was a bed he wasn’t familiar with and an apartment he was still getting used to rattling around in. But it smelled like home, and it sounded like home, and his mother had barely let him go the whole first day. He’d pretended to grumble but he’d really been pleased. His welcome-home gift had been a box with a key, a code, an address, and that was the bed he’d been sleeping in ever since, shamelessly eating the food in the apartment and poking through the closet so he had room to put his own things.
Sehun woke to the distinctive sound of a shutter clicking away, and he groaned thinking Joonmyun was—
Sehun opened one eye and then the other when he realized there was a camera pointing at him.
“Hey!” he sputtered, realizing Joonmyun was home and had been taking pictures of him while he’d been sleeping. And then he realized he was uncovered from the waist up, crossing his arms over his chest. “Hey!”
And he pouted until Joonmyun climbed onto the bed with him, showing him the pictures he’d taken.
“Look at that jawline and those collarbones,” Joonmyun said, eyes lit with amusement but the tone of his voice saying something else entirely. Joonmyun had been going “home” to Osaka after assignments until Sehun’s studies were over.
It seemed surreal that they were finally together again in Seoul.
“I’m not a landmark any more,” Sehun muttered, burying his face into Joonmyun’s neck and nibbling on it. Maybe it was retaliation or maybe just invitation, but the camera was abandoned to the bedside table as Joonmyun proved to him otherwise.