pairing/rating: hankyung/heechul, pg13
summary: Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body. HANCHUL BABIES. KINDA.
Hankyung buys every parenting book he can get his hands on, darting out during breaks in filming, reading endless reviews and editorials online. He gets more from family and friends and friends-that-are-family, and he downloads articles and statistics to his laptop and then to his mobile.
Of course, Heechul doesn’t read any of it. He tosses printouts aside, stacks books in precarious piles in corners and niches of their townhouse, distracts Hankyung with teasing touches and almost-there kisses when he tries to boot up his computer.
“That’s not important,” he scoffs, eyes bright with good humour, “books cannot tell you how to raise a child, Hankyung, don’t be stupid.” He even goes so far as to write mocking comments in the margins, sarcastic commentary in messy characters that make Hankyung laugh even as he scowls in annoyance.
Hankyung wants to talk about schools and baby-proofing, ground rules and nannies and college funds. Heechul refuses to discuss anything but names, scrawling down his favourites as they come to mind, crumpled post-it notes with Eun-Ae and Sang-Min and Sang-Hee and Mei-Ha, stuck on the fridge and in the microwave, the outside of the shower curtain and the steering wheel of Hankyung’s car.
Hankyung saves everything, smoothing out crinkled strips of paper and removing the balled up articles Heechul used as basketballs from the trashcan, slipping them into plastic sheets and snapping them into binders for posterity. He hides it from Heechul, embarrassed, but can’t stop staring at one yellow square, Mei-Ha written in shaky Chinese from an unfamiliar hand. He finds Heechul on the couch, reading over a script, and kisses him hard, pressing him into the cushions and ignoring his murmured protest. He can’t imagine doing this with anyone but Heechul, man or woman, can’t think of his life without Heechul’s influence, bright and quick and more than a little crazy.
When the application goes through, gets approved and finally comes back, Heechul happens to be the first one home, and his hands shake as he pulls the file out of the brown envelope, thumb brushing over the agency’s logo in the top left corner.
Hankyung comes back from his photoshoot to find takeout cold on the counter and Heechul sitting at the kitchen table, a plain manila folder heavy with staples in front of him. He lifts his gaze to Hankyung, palms pressed flat to the tabletop on either side of the file, eyes serious.
“Hankyung,” he says, voice rough, “I thought I should wait, you know? For you.” Hankyung drops his bag, the blood rushing in his ears, and crosses the room quickly, braced over Heechul’s chair.
“Okay,” he says, “okay.” And Heechul flips the folder open, and they lean in close to look at the pictures, three different glimpses of their future, awash in typed Chinese characters.
“Oh,” says Heechul, hand slipping into Hankyung’s, “oh.” Hankyung wraps an arm around Heechul’s waist and drops his chin onto Heechul’s shoulder. He reaches out and fans the three glossy photographs out, drinks in every pixel. Heechul reaches out with long fingers, slides a manicured nail under the edge of one of them.
“This one,” he says, and Hankyung picks it up, mindful of the oils on his fingertips, and nods.
“This one,” he agrees. He’ll find a decent frame on his way home from work tomorrow. Heechul turns and Hankyung finds his arms suddenly full.
“Oh god,” says Heechul, hands tight on the back of Hankyung’s shirt, “we’re really gonna do this.” Hankyung hugs him back, eyes fixed on the bright smile of their little girl.
“Yeah,” he says, pulling Heechul back into his lap, sitting down hard on the floor, “we really are.”
They decide to wait, a little, before announcing it to the general public, telling their parents and closest friends only. Heejin squeals so hard Heechul hangs up immediately, texting her to call back when she’s regained control of herself, and Hankyung’s mother bursts into tears, uncontrollable sobbing that Hankyung eventually joins in on, Heechul rolling his eyes at all of them, mumbling better not inherit those genes. Siwon sends them thoughts and prayers and yet another baby book, Yunho buys them copious amounts of alcohol, and then Kangin opens his big mouth and the story runs on internet blogs and gossip sites.
And then the gifts pour in. Not too many, but ELF hasn’t forgotten, and they’ve only gained more fans from their recent activities. Heechul refuses to accept the cribs and strollers and rocking chairs, but sets aside the money, keeps it in a shoebox under the bed, tucked in the cards sent by their dearest circle of friends and relatives.
He bugs Hankyung about the Chinese in the papers sent to them, and Hankyung dutifully reads them to him, even though the translations provided for them are perfectly adequate. The night before they leave, they sit on their couch, suitcases packed by the door, car-seat packaged for air travel, stroller disassembled and plastic wrapped to prevent damage, Heechul’s legs slung over Hankyung’s lap and his head on Hankyung’s shoulder, breathing in the quiet and listening to the tic of the clock, until it’s time to leave for the airport.
They meet four other families at the airport, their travel group, and Heechul shows off Hankyung as a native speaker, bragging, until he actual begins to chat with their college coed tour guide/interpreter, at which point he glues himself to Hankyung’s side, glaring and using the little Chinese he’d picked up from Donghae and Siwon and Zhou Mi and Hankyung. By the time they’ve boarded their plane and are awaiting take-off, she’s completely terrified of him, he’s smirking in accomplishment and Hankyung is ignoring them all, nose buried in Learn to Talk to Your Teen in Five Days.
The first two cities are bureaucracy interspersed with sightseeing, and while they are interested in the views and the history, they are waiting for one particular day in one particular city, and when they check into their room in that city, and see the hotel-provided crib set up by the window, single pink balloon tied to the bassinet, Hankyung barely has time to close and lock the door before Heechul pushes him against it, smiling into their kiss. Hankyung laughs, walking him backwards towards the bed.
“Getting some before we sign the papers for the eighteen year cockblock?” the back of Heechul’s knees hit the bed and he flops down, grinning.
“Please,” he scoffs, “nothing can block—”
“Oookay,” Hankyung cuts him off, crawling on top of him and sucking at Heechul’s neck, “let’s focus on names for the baby, shall we?” Heechul slides one hand into his hair, tugging gently, the other snaking up under Hankyung’s shirt, nails dragging.
“Can I call you daddy, then?” he asks, teasing. Hankyung grimaces.
“No,” he says, “that’s creepy,” and he turns his attention to Heechul’s buckle, resigned to the fact that Heechul will anyway, probably right after he comes and right before Hankyung does, just so he can tease Hankyung about it forever.
Heechul wakes up in the early hours of the morning of their big day, to find Hankyung standing at the window, a view of concrete and trash, head leaning on the smudgy plexi-glass. Heechul rolls on his side, hair draped over the pillow, one arm dangling off the bed.
“I’ve read all the books,” Hankyung says, his words fogging on the window and obscuring his vision in smoky grey, “and the articles, all of this research.” He draws back from the wall, and sketches a heart in his breath, fingertip squeaking on the glass. “But you haven’t, Heechul, because you don’t need to. You know what to do with kids. I can babysit, I can play and laugh and tickle, but you.” He stops.
“But I?” Heechul asks, sitting up and swinging his legs up and off to perch on the edge of the bed. Hankyung turns to look at him, head tilted in the early morning light, hair mussed.
“You can feed and bathe and tutor, Heechul, I don’t, I…don’t.” He walks to Heechul, kneels between his legs, rests his head in Heechul’s lap. “I’m scared,” he says, swallowing hard.
Heechul is silent for a moment, hands cradling Hankyung’s jaw. Hankyung presses a kiss to Heechul’s palms, one and then the other, his own hands coming up to wrap around Heechul’s wrists.
“Me too,” Heechul says finally, a soft whisper, “I’m glad, Hankyung, that you’ve read that stuff, I really am, and.” He stops, chuckles lowly, “I’m so scared, baby, I’m terrified.” And he curls in on himself, resting his face against Hankyung’s, turning his hands to intertwine their fingers.
The next day Hankyung stands in a cheap hotel hallway with his eyes closed, imagining walking down the aisle next to a vision in white, grandchildren, first words and first fights, groundings and Daddy-daughter dances. He hears the elevator ding and the murmur of his native language, spoken soothingly by caretakers to anxious children, feels Heechul’s hand slip into his own, hears him Hangeng, oh Hangeng, thinks of the digital camera heavy in his pocket and the video camera charging in their room, paints a picture of their life with her on the inside of his eyelids, drawing from hours upon hours of imagining, and he tightens his grip on Heechul’s fingers and he pulls Heechul closer, hips touching, and he opens his eyes and he meets their daughter.