|"You're hired. You start Monday next week."|
Sehun has never heard sweeter words.
"Are you sure P.I.M.P. Pictures is an independent film production company?" Joonmyeon eyes the flyer skeptically during their dinner, hours after he's done spinning around in glee because he now has an actual part-time job - an actual job with actual money! "The logo is a blindfolded guy kneeling with his mouth open."
"It's in silhouette." Sehun is too happy to care about Joonmyeon's raised eyebrows and deadpan expression. "It's art. It represents something."
"It's a. Blindfolded. Guy. Kneeling. Mouth open." Joonmyeon shakes his head, shovels more lettuce-covered chicken in his mouth, and continues, "What is that supposed to represent?"
"That true art can never be restrained?"
"Whatever, I'm an engineering major, you don't ask me stuff like that."
Joonmyeon slaps a hand against the flyer. "And the information's nearly all in Chinese. How did you even know how to get to the office?"
Sehun snatches the flyer from Joonmyeon's outstretched hand. He smirks triumphantly, pointing to the size 6.5 font at the lower right corner of the flyer; Joonmyeon has to squint until his eyes disappear into little slits. "The address is in hangeul, small print at the bottom. Get your eyes checked, hyung."
"Get your brain checked, Sehun," Joonmyeon knocks him over the head, laughing as Sehun attempts to retaliate. "This is some shady shit. What did HR look like? A dark room with a single lamp swinging from the ceiling, like in those mafia movies?"
Sehun half-rolls his eyes. It's just like Joonmyeon to throw shade on anything Sehun was interested in doing. "It was a well-lit room, okay. The guy who interviewed me was in a nice, respectable suit, and he didn't sound like he wanted to kill me. Plus the pay's extremely good for a starting position. Good enough for you?"
Joonmyeon chews on his chicken thoughtfully. "If you find yourself accidentally stripping for a living," he says tartly, after he's done swallowing the last of his food, "I won't be there to haul your ass out. I'll just be there to point and laugh. Sounds good to you?"
He doesn't mean for that punch in the shoulder to hurt as much as it did, but it still feels damn satisfying when Joonmyeon curses loud enough for the entire restaurant to hear.
On the day he's hired, Sehun is told that they would be shooting One Night in Shanghai at 5 pm sharp on a Monday. He goes to the building about two hours early since he he's done with classes for the day, wondering if it would be okay to sneak into the studio and see the set.
He's wandering around the second floor, turning his head left to right, trying to see if any of the huge doors had the movie title plastered on. In his absent-minded walking, he doesn't notice the figure, hands preoccupied with a rubik's cube, walking towards him.
They collide into each other with a loud thud, the other boy falling to the floor as Sehun jerks back.
"I'm so sorry," he says quickly, crouching to eye-level. "Are you okay?"
Sehun peers at the boy's slightly pained face, wisps of light brown hair peeking out from under a white beanie. He couldn't have been more than sixteen, with the way his small frame floated in an oversized yellow and blue hoodie with a weirdly shaped troll-like logo stitched on the breast. The fashion sense was bust, but Sehun can't help but think, cute.
The boy looks dazed as he blinks rapidly. He shakes his head, a hand flying up his forehead. "Sorry. I wasn't looking."
"It's not your fault. Here," Sehun says sheepishly as he drops the rubik's cube into the boy's palm. He helps the boy up to his feet and finds that the boy is only a little shorter than he is. "I wasn't looking, too."
The boy chuckles quietly, brushing what looks like imaginary lint off his hoodie with one hand, the other burying the rubik's deep in the hoodie's pocket. "I'm sorry, anyhow. I... tend to distract myself before a shoot. Shakes off the nerves."
Sehun's eyes bug out in realization. This sixteen-year-old is an actual employee; he looks like he should be in the steps of some high school, but there he is. "Wow. Are you an intern or...?"
The boy's eyes go wide in surprise at the mention of 'intern', but then smiles quite brilliantly. Sehun feels his mouth go a little dry. "Hm, not really. I've worked here for over two years now, so I'm already a regular."
Two years - that's an awfully long time to intern. Maybe this is one of the set assistants. He feels a little like a helpless kid for asking, but - "Uh, could you help me? I'm looking for the set of One Night in Shanghai. The briefing said it was on this floor but I haven't been able to check yet."
Sehun doesn't know if he's imagining things, but he's kind of sure that the boy's smile turns teasing. "You're in luck. It's actually the huge door to your right."
"No problem. I'll see you on set, then."
"You're in the production, too?"
The boy giggles, looking up at Sehun, eyes dark - and if Sehun's imagination isn't playing tricks on him - inviting. "You could say that."
"Cool, cool." Sehun finds himself staring at the boy's delicate features, taking in everything. He... is really beautiful. A face as beautiful as his couldn't really be just a set assistant. He finds it hard to pull his gaze away, and the boy looks similarly interested as he curiously returns the look with hooded lids.
"Um, by the way, I'm---"
"There you are! I've been looking everywhere for you, ge." Another figure, pretty face looking harassed, comes round the corner and grips the boy's upper arm. "The red qipao you wanted is on your vanity, Wu Fan-ge wants you to have a fitting before you go for make-up. Hurry up, Zitao's already taken the concealers out the mini-fridge. You know he doesn't like it when his gunk from MAC melts."
"You know he doesn't like it when you call the tools of his artistry gunk." The boy sighs, lower lip jutting out. He turns to Sehun with an apologetic look, and Sehun ignores the loud drumbeat in his chest. "Sorry. I'll see you later."
As Sehun watches them walk to the elevator, his excitement for his first day on the job grows; he can't wait to be on set.
He enters through the big metal door and comes face to face with an insanely tall guy with a sharp, tense jaw and angrily curved eyebrows. Sehun mentally whimpers and prays for safety; the guy looked like he was out for blood.
"Who the fuck are you?" Angry eyebrows guy demands, looking him up and down.
Sehun bows hastily. "I'm Oh Sehun, the new gofer. It's my first day, S-sir. Do you need anything?"
The guy is still looking at him weirdly, like a buyer inspecting the best pieces of meat in a marketplace. "Gofer, huh? So you're the new errand boy?" he drawls offhandedly, taking a step forward and eyeing Sehun's face.
Sehun shifts on the balls of his feet, trying to contain the urge the step back. "... Yes, sir."
The guy thankfully pulls away after a full minute of drilling holes into Sehun's head with his eyes and tightly scrunched eyebrows alone. "I've got an errand for you," he says with a smirk, "go run to the makeup department on the fourth floor. Look for Zitao and tell him Wu Yi Fan sent you as Jongin's replacement."
Sehun looks at him blankly.
"Jongin's sick and we can't stop production just because his scrawny ass decides to catch a cold. We're losing actual money everyday he doesn't come. We can't afford any more delays, or management will have my head," he explains matter-of-factly. "I don't want any of the Qipao Queens to get sick either, so we need to find a good-looking replacement and so far, none of my apparently useless assistants have gotten me a substitute. You'll have to do."
Sehun does a little salute, and the guy's - Wu Fan's - eyebrows twitch in annoyance. He files a 'no more saluting' memo in his brain. "Right away, sir."
He has halfway turned on his heels when Wu Fan suddenly puts a hand on his shoulder. "Wait, I'll just..."
Wu Fan leans in dangerously close, and before Sehun knows it, a large hand is cupping his crotch.
"Relax, I was only checking. You a shower, not a grower, huh? Saw it from the moment you walked in that door. You might be even bigger than Jongin. You have to be careful prepping Yixing in particular, alright? He looks stronger than Lu Han, but he actually likes to play the delicate card in productions. None of of us have been able to figure out if it's really an act or not."
Wu Fan gives him a mildy affectionate tap on the butt, ignoring Sehun's loud yelp. "Go on, get outta here."
"Hi, new guy, right? You're just in time, I was just done with Lu Han and Yixing's make-up five minutes ago. Did you wait long? If you read the fansite information, you know Lu Han's particular about his eye make-up so I had to re-do that one a million times."
Okay, he's definitely missing something here.
He has little time to process this statement as an overzealous make-up artist named Zitao ("Call me Tao," he says gruffly as he whips out brushes and tubes of gliiter out of an overly large pouch) fusses over him and orders him, in a tone that could scare the shit out of any drill sergeant, to take his shirt off.
Jeez, what is with the people in this building? Sehun is starting to think that he's been duped into joining some sort of secret military organization, the way people could stare him down with frightening authority.
"Perfect," Tao mutters as he sweeps two lines of bronzer on Sehun's bare chest. Sehun can barely keep from blushing at the way Tao intensely inspects his entire upper body; unlike Wu Fan’s earlier stare, Tao's doesn't make him feel like meat on a slab, but rather, a lab rat out of his cage for the latest experiment.
"Do gofers really have to have all this makeup on them?" he squeaks, just as Tao brushes against a nipple. "I thought I just had to get coffee. Run errands for the director, and the um... people."
"Gofer? You?" Tao pulls back, blinking owlishly. "Who told you that? Wu Fan-ge said you're Jongin's replacement, right?"
"Yeah, he did." He assumes Jongin is a fellow gofer; really, why else would that Wu Fan guy send him here? "But on the day they hired me... They said I only had to do coffee runs, get fanmail from the post office, and um. Run to the drugstore when the director tells me to," Sehun says uncertainly. What was that all about? Did the actors here always get sick or something? "Do indie film actors really have it this hard?" he asks with a touch of pity.
Tao snorts, pursing his lips. "They have it hard, alright."
That tone does not sound good at all. "Am I not getting something?" It wouldn't do him good to get fired on his first day on the job. He should probably go back to Human Resources and ask again just to be sure. Yeah, after this guy's done slathering my stomach in... brown baby powder, or whatever the hell this gunk is, he thinks.
Tao laughs at his face. "Right. Very funny. You porn stars have the best sense of humor." He rolls his eyes. "Okay. Now take off your pants. Let's powder up those balls."
".... Come again?"
Tao rolls his eyes again, looking criminally bored. "What is with you porn people and false modesty? I've had enough of this from Baekhyun to last me a lifetime." He gestures to Sehun's jeans. "Strip now, or I will rip your pants off with my bare hands. Don't think I can't do it just because I have all this eyeliner, it’s bad to judge people on looks alone. And please pick your jaw up from the floor, the inside of your mouth is kinda disgusting."
"Yes, you're very attractive." Tao unceremoniously unzips his jeans and pulls his pants down in one quick move. Sehun screams (in a very manly way) as Tao's hands climb north to his thighs, up to the hem of his boxers. "Well, what are you waiting for? Take your boxers off. Or do I have to do that for you, too?"
"I read Wikipedia, you know!" Sehun closes his eyes as Tao yanks his boxers down. "There is nothing in the gofer entry that says you have to take your clothes off!"
Tao still looks unamused as he kneels in front of Sehun's junk and starts brushing some weird, sparkly glitter all over the inside of his thighs. "Your jokes might be funny to Lu Han, but not me. Cut it out."
"I keep hearing about this Lu Han guy. Who is he, anyway?"
"Uh, Lu han? One half of the Qipao Queens duo, otherwise known as one of the guys you'll be very closely acquainted with in thirty minutes, if and when you decide to open your legs so i can actually reach your fucking balls." Tao forcefully nudges his thighs open, snorting at Sehun's (extremely manly) squeal.
"What's a Qipao Queen?" he asks, trying very hard to look everywhere else but down.
"Were you dropped on your head as a kid? Or you just didn't check the website before coming here?" Tao says, and Sehun could knee him in the face from that angle, but he really doesn't want to get fired. "Newbie, you have a lot to learn about how things work around here, but fine, I'll give you the basics."
"Basics?" he echoes dumbly.
"Yes, the rest you have to find out yourself. Okay, so the Qipao Queens are Lu Han and Yixing. Why they're the Qipao Queens, you should know by now since you're going to work with them."
"But I don't--"
"Anyway, they work as a duo maybe 80% of the time, unless management wants a new star promoted or they have to do solo videos, that's probably the only time they'll let Lu Han or Yixing work separately."
"Why do they always have to be together?"
"Not always, but to answer your question, it's because they're only the biggest thing to happen to this production company since forever. Lu Han started out doing food fetish with Baekhyun, before Baekhyun got popular on that banana and waffles video he did with Chanyeol. Yixing used to do only solos. But Wu Fan-ge paired them up for Qipao Queens I last year and the rest is history. Their dvds sell like hotcakes, you won't believe it. They're mobbed like crazy at conventions."
“Wow, like those big-time celebrities?"
"They practically are celebrities in this industry, where have you been." Tao now has his thighs in a firm death grip. "Seriously, stop squirming, I need to get as much powder on you as I can. Lu Han can stop for retakes but Yixing's a bitch and needs to do it in one, or else he freaks."
"Yixing hates retouches in the middle of shooting," Tao explains patiently, as if that bit of information actually helps. "Ruins his mojo or something. Now turn around and let me powder your ass."
Sehun gets that he's at least in the actual film now, because he's filling in for a sick actor. From what he gathers, Jongin has a pretty important role, if he has to get prettified from head to toe to be able to step on set.
Tao has him dress up in casual, yet stylish clothes that look like they came straight out of the runway. "This is Dolce and Gabbana, please don't get any stains on it," he sniffs, handing Sehun the trousers and shirt like it physically pained him to do so.
Sehun nods. "I'll be extra careful when I eat, promise."
Tao laughs. "I don't know if you're being funny or you think it's really food that'll stain those. Either way, don't mess the clothes up."
"Uh, okay." He nervously smoothes the material over. "Will you be on set, too?"
"Of course. I'll be there with your robe after you're done shooting the part of the video with actual plot, plus for retouches before you get to the fucking."
"I'm sorry, I thought I just heard you say, uh, f-f-f--"
Tao steers him to the dressing room without waiting to hear him finish.
When Sehun wakes up that day, he doesn't expect for things to turn out like this. He doesn't expect for his job to flip over on its belly and prostrate itself to some sick deity, but there he is, watching people hustle and bustle over the ridiculously cheesy furniture, replacing it with something more sparse. In the farther corner of the set is a huge king-sized bed, maroon sheets tousled, emerald green pillows thrown askew.
Oh fuck, what am i doing here? he thinks with no small amount of panic. I have to - I have to -
Too late. Wu Fan has already spotted him, coming over with a smile and a clipboard in one hand. Sehun can still feel raw danger emanating from this guy's core; he really doesn't want his legs broken anytime soon, so he tenses his back as Wu Fan puts an arm around his shoulders.
"You're playing a Korean college student out on a vacation with friends," Wu Fan explains, "You're in Shanghai, obviously. You argue with them that you don't want to visit some festival at night. You're a killjoy, but a dashing, handsome killjoy."
"So your friends, for shits and giggles, decide to rent you two boy whores. That's when Lu Han and Yixing come in."
"Is there... a script?" he says, meekly.
Wu Fan waves a hand airily. "You can wing it. We aim for authenticity here, and the story - whatever semblance of it this video has, anyway - is pretty straightforward. Just act surprised when Lu Han and Yixing enter. Got it?"
"Good. Now, I need you to remember what I'm about to tell you, so listen. First, for Yixing. He bruises easily so be careful with him. No violent throwing on the bed or excessive biting. I don't want his skin ruined since he has to shoot a solo next week."
"What do I--"
"Second, for Lu Han. Well, Lu Han can take whatever you throw at him, but try to be careful with him, too. Viewers sent in a lot of angry letters when he bruised too much in Bondage Boys in Beijing. Try not to act too surprised when he gets loud, that's just his schtick. Boy can scream up a storm."
Sehun grows paler with every word out Wu Fan's mouth. Stupid him for thinking that's the end of it.
"And finally, for both of them this is of utmost importance - prep them well. They can cry a little, but for god's sake, try not to make them sob like a baby. Everything you need is in the top drawer next to the bed. Absolutely no drawing of blood; I refuse to call any medic on set, that adds up to more production costs. Do not rip off their qipaos like a wild animal, they will take it off themselves. Remember the basic storyline - they're your rented whores, they are there for your fun. Do you follow so far?"
Sehun tries not to faint on the spot.
"If in the heat of the moment, you get lost in a 'haze of pleasure' and forget everything, including your own name," Wu Fan pauses to do air quotes with a quick roll of his eyes, "and believe me, it happens a lot with all the new schmucks in this business - Lu Han and Yixing will be there to guide you. They'll tell you to go faster, harder, or if one of them is in the mood for it, be gentler. Usually that'll be Yixing. If it's Lu Han, you can tell he likes you if he asks you to go rougher."
Before he suffers from a black-out, a guy with impossibly round cheeks goes up to Wu Fan.
"Boss, Yixing has a fever. The crew thinks he won't be able to make it; he nearly passed out in his dressing room."
"He must have gotten it from Jongin on the last video. Alright, he can rest for today." Wu Fan's eyes flash concern, eyebrows drooping. "But we can't afford to stop production now. Is Lu Han at least ready?"
Round cheeks nods. "He's on his way."
Wu Fan taps him on the shoulder. "Sorry, kid. I know it's nearly every gay boy's dream to sleep with both Qipao Queens, but Lu Han will have to do for now. Hey, less work for you."
“That’s right,” an entirely new, but familiar voice, says behind them.
Sehun whips his head around, and comes face to face with the beautiful boy from two hours earlier. Sehun notices three things: first, he’s wearing a fitted red cheongsam (oh, so that’s what the Qipao Queen thing’s about) with an obscenely high slit on one side that reached up to his hips, hugging his body in all the right places; second, his eyelids are tinted a luminous shade of gold, his lashes long and sooty; third, and the most shocking - he’s wearing a pair of red pumps. All these things should look ridiculous on any man, but on this... person (Sehun catches himself thinking ethereal creature for a second before shoving that into the recesses of his mind), it all comes together to create a stunning picture of loveliness.
When he first sees him in that hallway, Sehun didn’t think it humanly possible to make him look even better. He's already a vision even in plain, boy clothes, a dorky beanie and with no make-up on. But he’s standing in front of Sehun with an amused smile playing on bow-shaped lips, tinted a light cherry shade, and Sehun’s pulse cannot pound any harder than it does now.
“So you’re Jongin’s stand-in,” he says with a note of teasing in his tone. He bows a curt forty-five degrees. “I didn’t get to introduce myself to you earlier. It’s nice to meet you. I’m Lu Han.”
It's probably the cocktail of anxiety, nervous sweat and Lu Han's ridiculously pretty face, but when he tries to fight the urge to black-out, this time he loses horribly.