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30 December 2013 @ 12:38 am
counting stars [1]  
Title: Counting Stars
Pairing: Sehun/Luhan, Chanyeol/Baekhyun, Kai/D.O, mild Kris/Tao
Summary: In which Sehun is an investment banker with a mid-career crisis, Luhan is a professional pickpocket, and EXO tries to clean out a bank vault.
AN: This is a decently long one, but there's so much more left unexplained that I just, ugh.

It didn't take long before the red-haired boy showed up again. In fact, two days after that first encounter, Sehun woke up in the middle of the night to a stranger blasting the UFC on his television set at full volume.

“How the fuck did you-” Sehun asks, confused and certain that he is still dreaming.

Red-head smirks with wine-stained lips – Sehun’s wine at that – and points at the main door.

“I walked right in, of course,” Red-head says with a smug look on his face. “For an apartment in such a high-end district, the locks are surprisingly unsophisticated. You might want to get yours replaced soon, Mr. Banker Oh.”

Sehun walks over and inspects his door, scowling as he finds the lock cleanly-picked. Resigning himself to fate, he turns around and leans sideways against the wall, regarding the Red-head who has started swearing at the television. He is lounging like a cat against the plush beige leather, wearing a gray knit that looks suspiciously like the one Sehun had left on the couch the day before. A black duffle bag stood next to the television which is showing Pettis pummeling Henderson in high-definition.

“What do you want from me?” Sehun sighs, unsure if he wants to know the answer. Red-head gives him a long look and then sets his glass down.

“Simple. I’m on the run now, not from the law,” he emphasizes when Sehun narrows his eyes, “but from a bunch of thugs who will do worse things to me than any prison. I need to keep my head low for a bit, so I’ll be staying put here.” It is, Sehun notes irritably, a statement and not a request.

“And what makes you think I’ll be willing to let you just waltz in and out of my house as you please?” demands Sehun, the Red-head’s arrogance irritating him to no end. As soon as he said it, he cringes inwardly at the stupidity of the question because there is no way Sehun can keep out someone who dismantles his locks as if they are little more than toys. The Red-head simply rolls his eyes.

“I still haven’t gotten back at you for ruining my little heist!” he glares accusingly at Sehun. “And since this apartment is far too big for one person,” he gestures around the place, “surely you could share?”

Sehun walks round the sofa and inspects the bottle of wine on the coffee table. Vosne-Romanée, 1987; the bastard has good taste. He switches off the television despite Red-head’s protests and, pinning his arms on either side of the Red-head, he stares coldly at the stranger.

“Do you take me for a fool? I'm not about to shelter a thief without knowing who he is, why he is being hunted, and what I'm getting myself into.”

Red-head looks up at Sehun and considers for a moment before he drops his gaze, crossing his arms. “Fine, I suppose you deserve to know anyway.” He relents and reaches up to unbutton the top of his shirt.

“Do you know what this is?” the Red-head asks as he fishes out a silver chain, from which a small diamond ring hangs. He offers it to Sehun, who holds it between his fingers and is nearly knocked off his feet when he realizes what it is. A large blue diamond sat in the centerpiece, the same one that had been hogging headlines the past few days, reportedly sold for $9.5 million.

“The Bvlgari Blue Diamond. How did this end up around your neck?” Sehun breathes, surprisingly calm as he hands it back to the Red-head, who seems a little disappointed that Sehun isn't rattled by it. “I stole it, of course!” he declares matter-of-factly.

“Wait, before you start chasing me out of your house,” says the Red-head as he raises a finger at a visibly exasperated Sehun, “the least you can do is to hear me out first.”

“About two months ago I got a kitchen job in the household of a certain French billionaire. He'd just gotten himself a gorgeous new wife so he needed more hands around his chateau, which gave me the perfect cover I needed to infiltrate that place. Now, this Frenchman had in his possession the Bvlgari blue diamond ring, which he had recently ‘bought’ under the convenient pretext that he was getting engaged”

“But this ring means a lot more than a simple engagement ring. You see, many years ago this man was…implicated in the bankruptcy and subsequent suicides of a very wealthy Chinese family - almost the equivalent of a South Korean Chaebol. It happened that the wife of that Chinese businessman was known for wearing a blue diamond ring, which fell into the private coffers of Le Monsieur. He then sought a way to launder it, and what better way than to sell it to an auction house and then buy it back to decorate your wife’s finger as a pretty little bauble?”

Sehun stood there and regarded the Red-head for a long while, trying to make sense of what he had just heard. “Impressive story,” he began, “but how do you come into the picture?”

“You mean you haven’t guessed it by now? I am a professional thief, Oh Sehun, and getting assignments like these are a dime a dozen. Whether it’s for commercial purposes or personal vendetta, I don’t involve myself in the affairs of my client because all that matters to me is the job. Now, I think I mentioned that I got myself into their kitchen, yes? I was supposed to be just a kitchen boy, but his new wife took a special liking to me so instead, I was secretly promoted to a, well, semi-permanent position in her bedroom. It’s the tragedy of wealthy spouses, I suppose, having no purpose other than to look pretty and being stuck in a grand chateau all by themselves, it can get quite lonely. Not that I minded, of course, she was really a stunning woman. And it also made my job so much easier; all I had to do was to wait for her to let her guard down and then nick it right off her finger!”

“When he found out what had transpired, I heard that Le Monsieur almost had a fit! He sent his men to retrieve both the ring and my head, and they tracked me down all the way across Europe. I usually work with back-ups but this time I’m alone, or it would have been so much easier throwing them off my trail. They almost got me in Rome but I managed to get away, and now they are closing down on me in Seoul, of all places,” the Red-head chuckled lightly to himself. “And the best part is that he doesn’t even dare to report this to the police because of the humiliation: his lovely wife cheating on him with a kitchen boy? The Parisian high society will be laughing their hats off if word got out!”

Sehun is not amused.

“So essentially I am to shelter a person with a billionaire’s army hot on his heels, waiting to lodge as many bullets in his skull as humanly possible, because that same idiot slept with his wife and stole her ring?”

“Now we’re talking!” the Red-head claps his hands together gleefully. “Yes, exactly that and also, I am offering a fifty percent cut of whatever I get out of this. Deal?”

"Who hired you?"

"That is none of your concern. I'm the one hiring you now, Mr. Banker Oh."

“Look around you. Do I look like I need your money?”

The smile fades on the Red-head’s face, his lips pressed into a thin line.

“No, you don’t,” he rises slightly and moves his face close to Sehun’s, their noses just an eyelash away. “But I knew it from the first time I saw you because I won't miss that look anywhere. You want this, don't you? No, you crave this excitement like a weed-deprived junkie, and nothing in your life right now can give you the same kick. This is what you're addicted to, aren't you? Living with your life on the line, staring at death in the face..."

Sehun grabs the front of the man's shirt and shoves him back into the couch. His eyes glint dimly like hard coals, but his expression is an unreadable mask cast onto the sharp angles of his face.

The Red-head grabs Sehun's wrists and eases them off his shirt, straightens his collar and smirks triumphantly. "Say what you want, but I know that I'm right. So, what's it gonna be?"

Sehun raises a hand over his eyes and massages his temples. He's already not getting enough sleep, and he has to report for work at eight tomorrow. God, why do you enjoy doing such things to me?

"If we are going to be living together, the least you can do is to tell me your name." He relents, praying that he won't be regretting this as the worst decision of his life.

A mop of red hair bounces up as a half-surprised smile tugs at the corner of his lips.

"You can call me Luhan."

-----------

The next morning, Sehun stirs in his bed as the alarm goes off but he turns it off while adamantly keeping his eyes squeezed shut. He vaguely recalls someone breaking into his house last night and drinking his wine. Something about a chateau and diamonds. Hoping that it was just a nightmare, he counts to three and opens his eyes with determination, then Sehun screams. There is a very attractive stranger in his bed next to him, and why is it already noon!?

"Oh, shut it," the stranger clamps a hand over Sehun's mouth to muffle his protests. "I've already called in sick for you, don't worry."

"-You've what?" Sehun picks the guy's hand off his face, reality slowly sinking in.

The stranger - Luhan - frowns in annoyance. "Don't make me repeat myself. You're officially on sick leave and that friendly colleague of yours, Jongdae? He said he'll cover your work for you. Now, let me go back to sleep."

-----------

"I think," Sehun says as he stirs the eggs in the pan and adds some cream, "that we need a few rules in this house."

Luhan sips his coffee gingerly, his expression dark as he glares daggers at Sehun. His left ear is bright-red from being hauled unceremoniously out of bed by the same person who is cheerfully scooping some scrambled eggs onto his plate.

"Firstly, you are not to sleep in my bed. There is a guest room on the left past the toilets, you can use that,"

"Second," Sehun continues before Luhan has a chance to protest. "You do not touch anything to do with my work, and that includes calling in sick for me. Capisce?"

Defeated, Luhan nods sullenly as he toys with his toast. Sehun leans back against the counter as he sips his coffee. Luhan is, much to Sehun's amusement, still wearing his gray knit sweater. He sniffs at the food, dips the toast in the egg and takes a tentative bite, before shoving the rest of the toast in his mouth. Sehun watches him eat for a moment, wondering if he should get a collar for the stray cat he's taken in. His thoughts linger for a moment on a collared Luhan fuming at him, before he starts worrying in earnest if Jongdae will mess his work up. Ah, screw it. He scratches the back of his head. Since he got the day off anyway, he might as well make good use of it.

"So. What's the plan?" he asks casually.

Luhan swallows his mouthful of eggs thoughtfully. "We have the advantage at the moment, since they have no idea where I am staying put for now. You are completely unrelated to me, so I think we gave them quite the challenge to track me down, which they will eventually." He stops and stares at the coffee in Sehun's hand. "Is that all you're having for breakfast?"

Sehun shrugs and Luhan gives him a mortified look. He has, Sehun notes, devoured his breakfast within a span of fifteen seconds.

"Breakfast aside, how are you planning to get them off your track?"

"Well, I was hoping you could help me out with that," Luhan looks almost apologetic. "My original plan was to just keep running until I lost them, or until they gave up. But seeing that they've crossed half the planet to hunt me, I don't think that's going to work out anytime soon. Heck, they'll keep it up until they've seen my corpse with their own eyes."

"Hang on," Sehun frowns as an idea slowly takes form in his head. "How many days of sick leave do I have?"

"Three, if you can trust your colleague."

"Perfect. That should give us enough time to do it."

"Do what?" Luhan raises an eyebrow in confusion.

"Show them your corpse, of course!"

"Jeezus, thanks for nothing!" Luhan throws his fork down on his plate, sending them clattering all over the porcelain. "If I could do just that, then what's the point of running away!?"

"Calm down, you idiot," it's Sehun's turn to be impatient. "I never said that it had to be the real deal, did I?"

Silence fills the kitchen for a moment as it slowly dawns on Luhan and a small "oh" is all he can manage. He leans forward and rests his head on his hands. "And how do we go about doing that?"

Sehun grins and sets his coffee down. "Now we're talking!"

-----------

The signs are unmistakable, Luhan thinks as he crosses the street in front of Sehun's apartment. A cap hides his red hair and an over-sized pair of Armani shades obscures most of his features, but Luhan is certain that he is being followed. Maybe it's that old man walking his dog down the street, or the newspaper boy making his rounds? Yesterday he'd found a taxi trailing him just in time to give him the slip, but that had been far too close for his comfort. He checks his watch and tightens his grip on his duffle bag as a silver Aston Martin pulls up by the roadside. Sehun rolls down the tinted window and motions at Luhan to get in.

"Nice car," Luhan says as he closed the door behind him. "Didn't know that you're a Bond fan."

Sehun scowls as he checks the rear view mirror. "They're following you alright," he says, watching a black BMW pull out from a few parking lots behind him. He doesn't like the way its driver is eyeing their car. "Let's see if we can lose them," Sehun licks his lips as he shifts the gear.

Nothing in Luhan's background check of Sehun could have prepared him for what ensued, because Sehun isn't just a fast driver; he's a complete, utterly incorrigible driving maniac. Holding onto the edge of his seat, Luhan watches in terror as Sehun weaves expertly through Seoul traffic, attracting honks of annoyance while still managing to check his mirrors. And with only one hand on the wheel.

"WHERE ARE WE GOING??"

"Stop screaming, Luhan. You're going to take out my eardrums."

"THAT'S BECAUSE YOU'RE FUCKING CRAZY."

"What? Coming from you?"

"WHO THE FUCK DRIVES AT SIXTY FUCKING MILES PER HOUR IN SEOUL!? AT FIVE PM!!?"

"Luhan-"

"THAT'S 'HYUNG' TO YOU."

"...Luhan. We're out of Seoul. You can open your eyes now."

Gradually, Luhan did and he found their car cruising down the highway to Incheon, at a perfectly reasonable speed. It seems that he isn't destined to die just yet.

"Foul words for such a pretty mouth," Sehun smirks as he eases back into his seat.

"Fuck. You," Luhan pouts as he surveys the roads around them. "Did you manage to lose the BMW?"

"I did, but it's hard to say that I've thrown them completely off our track," Sehun says with a frown. "There's only so many ways we can go from this road, and I have no idea if any of these other cars around us belong to them."

He turns to look at Luhan, who seems to be deep in thoughts as he fingers the diamond ring.

"Tell me, does the ring really mean so much to you?" Luhan freezes.

"Eyes on the road, Sehun." he clenches the ring in his fist.

"You could have simply thrown it away and forfeit the assignment, but instead you chose to go through all this just to complete this mission. Do you need the money so badly? Or is this ring really worth you betting your life on it?"

"...It's... An occupational hazard, I guess. Look, I just want to get the job done, so stop asking me stupid questions."

"Luhan-"

"'Hyung'. I'm four years older, for god's sake, respect your own Korean traditions."

"You look barely legal. And from the way you're acting, you might as well be twelve. We're here by the way."

The silver Aston Martin slows to a stop at a small harbor. They quickly get out and Luhan follows Sehun to a small speedboat bobbing up and down with the waves. Sehun climbs in deftly and starts to untie the ropes binding the boat to the port.

"Well, what are you waiting for? Get in!"

"We're escaping in this!?"

"What else did you expect? It's mine, and it's perfect!"

Before Luhan has a chance to protest about the absolutely lack of safety rails along the sides of the boat, he hears the roar of turbo-charged engines from the harbor right behind them. Luhan doesn't need to look over his shoulder to know that the men driving the cars are busy winding down their windows to take aim at him, and that one of them is headed straight for the Aston Martin that stood inches away from Luhan. He clambers into the boat just in time as the first barrage of bullets whiz past above his head.

"Shit!" Sehun curses as the engine starts and he immediately pulls the boat into a sharp turn. The Aston Martin that came crashing down into the sea misses their boat by a hair.

"Your car!" Luhan screams but another sudden swerve by Sehun hurls him to the floor. "Forget the car!" Sehun shouts over the roar of the engine, "They've got their own boats coming after us!"

Sure enough, Luhan spots another speed boat not far behind them in hot pursuit, and it looks a lot larger and more powerful than the one that Sehun is steering. It didn't take long for them to catch up to Sehun and Luhan. Despite Sehun's skills at boating, it grew clearer with every minute that the most they can do is to lead their pursuers on a merry chase before they are inevitably caught. Luhan watches the men in that boat pull out an assortment of rifles and he felt his blood run cold. "Duck!!" he shouted as he pulled Sehun down with him.

"Bam! Bam! Bam!!" The first few shots shatters the windshield and rips a hole in the stern. Sehun curses again, but somehow through all this he manages to maintain control of the boat. "Keep them distracted! We're almost there!" he shouts as Luhan hurriedly unzips his bag and retrieves a tear gas bomb, smoothly pulling out the pin. Timing it expertly, he tosses it just as Sehun nudges the boat in a slight swerve, and the bomb explodes right in front of the other boat. Sehun whistles in appreciation.

"You were hoarding that stuff in your bag!?" Sehun laughs, but the smile fades quickly from his face as the boat continues to power on after them, closing the gap with every passing second. Luhan turns to look at Sehun, the blood drained from his pale face. "It's now or never," he says simply.

Grudgingly, Sehun slows their boat, watching their pursuers close in on them. It's a good thing that they can't aim properly from this distance because of the tear gas, Sehun thinks as he thanked the gods above for blessing Luhan with good pitching skills. A hundred feet... Eighty... Sixty... Sehun counts, and then suddenly he flips on the reverse propeller which he had modified so that it would send them flying backwards at four times the speed of normal boats. "Now!!" he shouts at Luhan.

They ram directly into the fuel tank of their pursuers' boat, just as Luhan tosses a lighter at them.

Like a scene from Hell, the world around them erupts in a wall of flames and Sehun stands rooted to the spot, gazing in wonder at the blackened corpses in the other boat, not even flinching as the heat singes the ends of his hair. The crash and explosion took out the engines and propellers, but most of the damage were concentrated on the other boat. Watching the cloud of embers drift lazily towards the sky, he realizes that yes, this is what he wants.

He only snaps back to reality when he became vaguely aware of Luhan's cries.

"My necklace! It's caught on something!" Luhan is struggling against the edge of the boat, and the fire is spreading too quickly. As Sehun starts forward to help him, a sudden jolt sends Sehun tumbling overboard and the clasp of the necklace breaks against Luhan's neck.

"The ring!!" Luhan cries as he makes a frantic grab for it but his hands closed upon nothing. He watches it tumble through the air into the sea just as Sehun's head broke the surface.

"Forget the ring, you moron! Jump!!" Sehun tries to pull Luhan into the water away from the roaring flames, but then he notices one of the surviving gunmen cocking a rifle and aiming it at Luhan's head.

"NO! LUHAN!!" Sehun screams as a small hole appears right in the center of Luhan's forehead. He sits still for a moment, wide-eyed as a single drop of blood trickles down his nose, and then he begins to topple. It's almost like one of those monochromatic horror films, Sehun thinks as he watches Luhan crash into the dark waters. The gunman sneers as he shifts the red laser sight onto Sehun. It takes about a fraction of a second for him to take aim and squeeze the trigger.

"Bam!!"

-----------

"It's cold!" Sehun sneezes, clambering on board his private yacht.

"Stop complaining, you brat. It was your idea!" Luhan snaps back as he pulls himself up the steel ladder. Sehun throws towel at him, and then runs off to fetch some drinks before Luhan could retaliate.

"Damn it, I'm soaked through! Another good suit ruined." Luhan inspects his clothes in disgust, and then he turns and regards the roaring flames he'd left behind in the distance, expression unreadable. Sehun reappears with two glasses and a bottle, which he proceeds to open.

"Still thinking about your ring?" Sehun laughs as he pours a glass of champagne for his partner-in-crime.

Luhan sighed. "Yes, that. And also what happened back on the boat. What did you do to the guy who tried to shoot me? I swear, one second he was aiming a rifle at me, and then suddenly he looked as if he saw a ghost and abracadabra! He fell asleep!?"

Sehun nodded as he set the bottle down on a table. "If you must know, it was a very costly hypnosis. One that involves my car and my new watch."

"What? You can do that shit?" Luhan spluttered at Sehun incredulously. "
And did you conveniently set the trigger as my name!?"

Sehun looked smug. "High school was a pretty boring phase for me, so I had time to...experiment. I suppose I became pretty decent at tricks and stuff, but then it got boring after a while."

"Excuse me? 'Pretty decent'? The way you did it defies every hypnotism theory that I know!"

"Like I said, I had time to experiment." Luhan stares at his friend, speechless while Sehun turns and pours himself another drink.

"At least, we're alive." Luhan concludes after a while, as if he is trying to convince himself more than anything.

"Well, I just hope that motherfucker's friends managed to haul him out of the boat before he got fried. It would have been a terrible waste if no one 'witnessed' our deaths."

“Foul words for such a pretty mouth.”

“Fuck. You.” Sehun grins and raises his glass in a mock toast. Luhan sighs in exasperation, but a tiny smile tugs at the corners of his mouth.

"You're full of surprises aren't you, Oh Sehun?"