Title: Hit all the High Notes
Fandom: Super Junior
Summary: Sungmin teaches music. Yesung is a student who wants to make beautiful music together.
Note: Thank you to smile_as_a_noun for your donation! I hope you like this. > x <
Months ago, Yesung had found an envelope in the rusty family mailbox, his name printed neatly in black. It's an occasion to remember in its own because Yesung never receives mail; bills go to his father, shopping catalogues to his mother and even his brother gets a penpal letter now and then for some school project while Yesung rots away in obscurity and half dreams that are only ever hummed under his breath.
The envelope's got the stamp of the prestigious arts academy he'd sent his only audition tape to another set of months ago under his mother's persuasion. (For your future she had said, and for closure, Yesung had secretly thought to himself). It is thin and unassuming, a half-assed shade of maybe white maybe peach. Yesung thinks his heart is slowly sinking into his stomach, how rude, the crushing of one's hopes and dreams aight to have been more formal, because everyone knows a light envelope means few papers, enough to say sorry, nice try but sorry, you're not just not good enough.
Except Yesung is. His mother finds him standing stock still in the kitchen and then suddenly he is being engulfed in a tight huh, his mother voicing out the thoughts he couldn't, an interview, I can still make it, I can still --
Yesung dresses up as a frat boy in attempt to hide his country bumpkin-ness. His polo tee is an atrocious pink (unearthed from the depths of his drawer) and his berms are checkered (a hasty gift from his brother), his hair slicked back with half a tub of extra slick gel. On the train over he practices a smile he assumes is suave and cool even though his cheeks creak and groan in that awkward position. It earns him weird looks from the other passengers until he alights in the city where everyone is purposefully ignoring each other, so he thinks he's gotten it down right. Even though his hand shakes on the doorknob, Yesung swaggers in with a cock in his hip like the college boys he'd seen on television.
The moment he steps in however, he knows that Something is Wrong. He tries the pseudo confidence, smiling in what turns out to be an awkward leer in his nervousness at the only professor who hadn't been an old fart with a scary constipated look on his face. Lee Sungmin says the nameplate in front of him, and the man looks barely older than Yesung, a sweet little thing with dark hair and red lips so Yesung spends most of the interview staring at him instead of the pretentious old men looking to bite his head off.
The want comes pouring out and during his interview or, at least, it tries to; Yesung's always been a bit awkward and the words get lost in his throat. He doesn't know where to begin, how to tell them about the longing in his chest when he thinks about singing, so strong it would be an aches if it wasn't so warm. His palms start to sweat as his tongue ties itself into knots and his cheeks heat with the unimpressed stares they have him fixed with.
"Sing for you," he blurts out, when there is something like disappointment in their eyes, "let me sing for you."
"Fine. One chance."
Yesung's never been so relieved and so nauseatingly nervous all at once. And then he opens his mouth.
Something spills over in his chest and Yesung isn't able to stop it, nor does he want to. He sings and sings and feels that finally he has found what he hadn't known he'd been searching for in the first place. He's the first one of his family to persue Big Dreams, outside of his countryside home and outside of his family's generations old mini mart, and he is determined to succeed. It's a love song, one of hope and yearning, filling the air in warm clouds of emotion.
The last note resonates then slips away into the air, quiet, reverent.
Silence. Yesung opens his eyes and tries not to breathe too loudly, the wind knocked out of his lungs either from nerves or the breathlessness that comes from emptying out your soul into song.
“That was rather -" Gruging, reluctant respect bleeds into the old man's voice and Yesung tries not to beam. "- unexpected."
"Impressive," Lee Sungmin interjects. He smiles, an irresistable twinkle in his eyes, like intrigue and expectation. "Very impressive. I do believe we’ve found a new student, don't you?'
Once out of the room, sure that the door has clicked shut behind him, Yesung lets out the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding, a loud sigh as his back thumps against the wall. His heart is pounding in his ears, a steady jack hammering rhythm about to burst out of his chest. He does a little victory to europhia's beat, a shimmie here, a body wave there, pinwheeling out his arms with no inkling of restraint. His hand knocks into the door.
The door is open.
"Oh?" Sungmin blinks at him, hand on the knob to the open door. "You're still here?"
That's a really odd look he's getting - then Yesung realizes that he's frozen mid jiggle, limbs arranged in some obscure ninja-esque pose. Hastily, he straightens, red staining his cheeks.
"I was just leaving," he mumbles, edging away from the professor lest his offer is withdrawn.
"Ah, I'll walk you out then," Sungmin smiles, it's sweet like cotton candy, but Yesung thinks the way it maybe widens when he blanches is a tad evil. He raises his hands to protest but Sungmin presses his fingers to the small of his back and politely shoves him down the hallway.
He is rewarded by soft laughter and it sounds like music. This must be the effects of Dreams coming true.
"I guess it is true that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover," Sungmin says with a smile as they reach the office's exit. Nothing else he can do, Yesung beams back and Sungmin rewards him with another tinkling laugh.
"I look forward to seeing you in class."
As it turns out, polo tees do not go well with eyeliner and between that one lone outfit and the tubes and tubes of black on his dresser, Yesung's decision had been easy. The second time he steps onto campus grounds has him a completely different person. It's not only the clothes that make him, though there is a certain comfort in the slate colours and tight jeans that Yesung knows he looks good in. Now Yesung can also feel confidence straightening his spine and pushing his chin up. Just being here is surely a sign that he has potential to become something special.
The first week is easily lost in admin matters and introductory seminars. Scholarship holders like Yesung also receive 'don't fuck this up' speeches from their benefactors and white pieces of paper with expected grades carved in like a sentence of late night studying sessions while the rest of the cohort intoxicates themselves in first year wilderness. Yesung takes it all with his brave face on and ends up dragging a large filing cabinet's worth of expectations and reading material to his new home.
New home is a cheap hostel on campus grounds with bare minimum facilities, two to a room, toilets down the hall, no smoking because one end of the third floor's been charred black. His roommate is a skinny dark haired 'prodigy' years younger than himself and while both first impressions aren't that great --
"Oh. Uhm." says Kyuhyun, forgoing social etiquette to stare at Yesung's dark lined eyes and the turtle in the tank Yesung's hefting in one arm. His expression is caught somewhere between are you an idiot and oh my god I'm stuck with this for an entire year.
"Uhm," Yesung replies with the same look on his face. Behind Kyuhyun is a tangle of wires, computers and consoles that bode many nights of sleep lost to flashing light and video game music. Yesung cringes before remembering his manners. "Nice to meet you?"
-- it all works out in the end because while Yesung's more awkward than his turtles, Kyuhyun seems to be as inept, with a complete lack of favor for socializing. They have the same major so as long as conversation is kept within school work boundaries, they get along fine.
For a bit of spending money, Yesung finds work at a coffeehouse tucked neatly between a bookstore that never seems to be open and a music shop that is perpetually open. It's only two blocks from campus and despite his lack of experience, he is hired easily because he'd come a week before other potentials which gives him time for training.
The owner's son, Kibum, takes one look at him and puts him behind the counter with the espresso machine, where he lends his face to attract college noonas while social interaction is kept to a minimum. For a kid his age, Kibum's got a pretty keen eye for people; Yesung wonders what it is with over talented dongsaengs these days before his co-worker distracts him by spilling coffee all over the cash register.
"Donghae-hyung," Kibum says, disapproval on his features marred by the exasperated fondness coloring his voice. Donghae puts on his best apologetic puppy face. "Come on, you need to change out of that."
The way Kibum can't look away from the strip of skin revealed as Donghae pulls his wet t-shirt away from his chest tells Yesung that they'd probably take their own sweet time in the backroom. Eww.
"Aish, why are those two always like that?" comes a voice from over the counter. Yesung turns and then freezes.
Standing there with an amused quirk of his lips is Professor Lee in all his pink glory. He is almost exactly as Yesung remembers, soft hair maybe a little longer and curling around his nape, that pink, well, pink everything, pink shirt, pink lips, an aura around him that if coloured would be a cotton candy sort of colour, bright and absolutely adorable.
"I don't suppose they'll be out for a while," Sungmin says, gesturing words the door through which Donghae and Kibum disappeared through, "could you take my order instead?"
Deer-in-headlights stare is turned automatically towards the cash register instead. There is a litany of uh ohs running through his head that he isn't sure is because of the professor or the fact that he'd never been trained to work the damned thing. It prevents Yesung for answering.
"Don't worry, I have exact change," Sungmin injects and Yesung looks up to see an amused smile that could bring about world peace. "Donghae can ring it up later."
"Uhm," he says, a thousand things fly over his head before he manages to sputter out, "may I take your order?"
For the sheer amount of cute and rainbow sparkles his professor seems to be made of, Yesung's already got his hand hovering over the squeeze bottles of sweet syrup and caramel, and then Sungmin says -
"Double espresso, please."
When he glances up, Sungmin has him fixed in a curious gaze. Yesung squeaks in manly surprise and Sungmin's face lights up.
"Oh, you're that boy with the turtle."
"What, Ddangkoma?" Yesung blinks, derailed. "He's in my room, how can you tell, what?"
"No, it was embroided on that polo tee - "
Oh. Yesung knew there had been a good reason he'd buy such an awful thing.
" - you have an actual turtle?"
"Uhm, yes," he replies with a cringe. Sungmin's got that amused look on his face and Yesung recognizes it as the hahaha awkward turtle with an actual turtle look, he's seen it directed at him many times.
"You look very different," Sungmin looking over and Yesung feels like imploding. "Identity crisis or...?"
"I just wanted to look serious for the interview." At this rate, Yesung will spend the entire conversation cringing and embarrassed. "I saw them on television, those college kids were all dressed like that!"
"Ah, so you wore that - what you wore on purpose." A laugh, it sounds like melody and makes Yesung feel like a adolescent girl. "I don't suppose you ever watched more five minutes of those shows?"
"Maybe?" Yesung squeaks. Cup of coffee ready, he slides it over with a sheepish grin. Sungmin picks it up, eyes never once leaving Yesung. It's sort of terrifying and wonderful all at once.
"I like this look on you better," he says finally, smiling in a way that is more sincere and less amused qt Yesung's expense like he had every other time. Yesung finds to hard to drag himself away from the curve of his lips. When Sungmin hands over the money, their fingers brush and it tingles all the way up Yesung's arm.
"Thank you," Yesung says and has a sinking feeling that there is more in those words than is required of his services. Likewise when he says next, "please come again."
The door chimes as Sungmin leaves. Yesung counts to five then sinks down against the counter with his face in his hands. Oh, he thinks instead of all the other complicated thoughts that would complicate his already complicated situation, uh oh.
"This is all your fault," Yesung tells Donghae when he emerges minutes later. Donghae shoots him a grin, unrepentant, then ignores him entirely to fix his collar to hide the new bruises on his neck.
College life goes from exciting to too much excitement for Yesung to take, and it's barely just started.
His first official lecture has Professor Lee standing in front of the theatre, hands on his hips, serious face on.
His first official lecture goes as well as expected, in that it doesn't go well at all.
Yesung doesn't catch a word out of the man's mouth, but does manage to memorize every shape his pink lips curve into.
It's sort of comforting that he isn't the only one who has this problem; the girls spend the entire lecture tittering and letting out muffled squeals at their omg how cute!! professor and the guys try very hard to look like they're not looking. This escalates until an idiot jock with greasy hair and perverted eyes attempts a particularly forceful confession and Professor Lee answers violence with violence.
That spot behind the sports complex and its odd stain that might resemble blood becomes famous in a matter of hours. Yesung, predictably, vows never to take up any sort of sport for the duration of his schooling.
Fortunately, before Yesung can dig himself into a hole with muddled thought of inappropriate feelings, lectures and tutorials sweep him up and crash him upon another rocky shore. This one is jagged with complex music theory and centuries of history. Then suddenly CCA festival magically sets itself up while Yesung is in Music Theory 101. When he emerges from the chilly lecture hall, the lawn has disappeared under booths of all shapes cramped together and salespersons materialize to shove leaflets in his face.
By the time he navigates his way to his friends, Yesung has acquired five new papercuts, one curving down the edge of his chin. It's itchy and he can't help but scratch at it so by the time he runs into his friends, it resembles a nasty shaving accident.
"Battle wounds," Yesung declares them, immediately slouching heavy against Ryeowook. "I almost died."
"At least you didn't run into Heechul-hyung," Ryeowook consoles. He pats Yesung gently on the arm who sighs dramatically. "He's manhandling people into the Chinese Society for more funding."
"A fate worse than death," Kyuhyun mutters darkly as he wrestles the bright red arm band off his sleeve. “That idiot isn’t even Chinese, does the university know they’re funding Heechul-hyung’s fetishes?”
"… Right. Have you decided on anything yet?" Ryeowook directs the question to Yesung because there is no help if Heechul's already got his claws into Kyuhyun. That man's got a reputation for being beautiful and so fucking terrifying that all freshmen are forewarned for their own protection.
Yesung grimaces as he sorts through the flyers. Siwon is on three separate ones - Football, the Student Council and Christian Fellowship - and is wearing a shirt in only one of them, the one you'd least expect. Huh.
"Don't even think about it!" Ryeowook snatches the flyers out of his hands and turns on his patented puppy eyes. "You promised we'd join something together!"
"And I suppose you already decided on something?"
"Choir!" Ryeowook takes his hand and starts dragging him to the booth. "I mean, it's not like singing will ever be a problem and all those events and performances look good on paper right?"
"Alright," Yesung relents. "What could possibly go wrong?"
At current tally, Yesung sees Professor Lee a grand total of five times a week: twice for class, another two during his shift at the coffeehouse and every Friday Sungmin pokes his head in to check on the choir's progress and harass his students.
Of course Sungmin would be the choir teacher, what did Yesung expect, an extra-curriculum activity that he could enjoy without suffering heart attacks at the mention of his teacher-in-charge? Perish the thought. If you ask Yesung, it's a bit excessive. He doesn't know how much more his heart can take, the constant up when Sungmin speaks to him with eye-smiles and soft tones which inevitably leads to Yesung saying something stupid and subsequently, the down.
Fate takes the decision out of Yesung's hands; Post-Modern Music Theory is kicking his ass and after class Yesung is forced to stay back for a word with Sungmin, many words in fact, and every single one muttered or stumbled through. It is a painful five minutes.
"So I have consultation with Professor Lee later," Yesung announces at lunch. "Please come with me or he might kill me dead."
He looks imploringly at the table of unsympathetic faces.
"Yesung, hwaiting~" Ryeowook says after a pause, hands clenched in support. He doesn't make any move to stand because he believes in facing your emotions by yourself or something hippie like that.
"Yesung, hwaiting~" Kyuhyun echoes flatly. He doesn't look up from his PSP because he is a jackass like that.
And this is how Yesung ends up standing in front of Sungmin's office, all alone, a stack of incomprehensible notes clutched to his chest.
If Yesung had ever needed so badly a random and spontaneous death to strike him where he stood, there and then, it'd be here and now. For a moment he contemplates running away with his tail between his legs - he could continue compensating with his vocals and just barely scraping through Post Modern Music Theory with practical, let there be a tiny smudge on his otherwise perfect record - but, no, his partner would kill him. As sweet as Ryeowook looks, he has little tolerance for partners who can't pull their own weight, and is particularly talented with the kitchen knife.
Death by tiny schoolmate? Or death by pink-loving professor? Both options are pathetic; Yesung's life is hard.
It is suiting that the door creaks ominously as it opens. Yesung pokes his head in, teeth worrying at his lower lip.
His back is towards Yesung but that peek of baby pink collar over the computer chair is unmistakable. The man doesn't move, hunched over his desk and muttering darkly at the stack of papers in front of him, so Yesung inches closer and cranes his head for a better look. He's near enough that he can see the crimson ink bleeding across some unsuspecting idiot's homework, but he can't look away from the long lashes and -
"No, I do not want coffee, nor dinner," Sungmin says suddenly, not looking up. "And if you try anything funny, I will make shish-kebab out of your balls.” The way he twirls a sharp ended pen is ominous.
"P-papers!!" Yesung squeaks, holding them in front of his crotch in case Sungmin makes good of his threat. "I - I'm not - real questions!"
Sungmin tilts his head up and blinks.
At the end of their half hour lesson, Yesung hurriedly shoves his papers into his folder and stumbles over the chair leg as he stands. His cheeks are stained red and his heart is going a mile an hour but his head is as clueless as ever on any sort of theory he is supposed to have asked about.
"If you need to clarify anything else," Sungmin says with a twinkle in his eye that shows he knows exactly what and how much Yesung's gained from this session, "you know where to find me."
The next session is better, mostly because Yesung picks up a coffee on his way over, and Sungmin holds it to his mouth most of the hour, sipping delicately and partially blocking his face from view. It does wonders for Yesung's concentration. Soon the sessions become a once a week thing, free coffee and bettered grades all around, a symbiotic relationship that has nothing to do with Yesung’s feelings or anything dumb like that.
So of course the more Yesung tries to put it out of sight out of mind, the more he sees Sungmin around campus and at the coffeeshop and frigging everywhere.
Kyuhyun laughs at him a lot and tricks Ryeowook into pointing Sungmin out whenever possible by saying Yesung needs to ask questions about class but he's really shy, when really, he just thinks it's hilarious how Yesung squeaks and drops whatever he's holding every single time. This lasts until Kyuhyun becomes close close friends with the young man from the Chinese Society that Heechul had introduced to him at the start of the term, legs miles long and constantly sporting a smile that puts the sun to shame. Kyuhyun acts like a five year old when in love, a pig-tail puller on the love spectrum; he says means things that make Zhou Mi's smile dim a notch, and then beats himself up for it later. It's pretty hilarious, actually. Yesung finally gets some milage on him.
One day he comes home to find Kyuhyun squinting at Mandrin lyrics with this look of self-loathing on his face.
"I didn't know you speak Chinese," Yesung says, picking up a booklet and staring blankly at all the complex, foreign characters.
"I don't," Kyuhyun grinds out. Yesung blinks at him then glances at the booklet's cover. It's for the cultural festival and the lead for the Chinese Society's performance is - ah. Zhou Mi. This is a point and laugh moment and Yesung doesn't let it go to waste. The pillow that smacks him square in the face doesn't deter him the slightest.
"Haha, you're so pathetic," he wheezes out.
"Haha, you're one to talk," Kyuhyun bites back. The laughter dies abruptly and they both consider their ridiculous crushes.
"This room must be cursed," Kyuhyun opines.
They share a small moment of self-pity. Yesung has never felt closer to his roommate.
Yesung's report card for the first semester is something to behold. Joy rushes through him and then he is rushing off with the papers tightly clutched to his chest. His feet do not stop until he is in the office and doubled over on his knees, breathless. Somewhere above him Sungmin is making confused sounds of exasperation until Yesung thrusts the papers to him and then the sounds turn into proud cooing. Yesung gloats and tries not to think about the fact that he'd come here instead of telling his parents or Ryeowook first.
“All thanks to you,” he declares, and laughs when Sungmin preens with his chin lifted high.
"You actually learned something here," Sungmin says admiringly.
"Doesn't happen often. Most students waste their sessions trying to hit on me." One finger pressed delicately to his lower plump lower lip, Sungmin sighs. "I can't imagine why."
The thing about Yesung is that he is honest. It's partly where his awkwardness stems from. Not honest to a fault because technically Yesung understands the need to lie, but honest at inappropriate times, times where he should smile and shut up to save his own ass,
"It's probably because they like you, sir," is what slips out instead. "I like you too, really, but I figure if I hit on you, you'd hit back twice as hard and break something."
Sungmin blinks at him.
Then Yesung's brain catches up with what he had said and the blood drains out of his face.
"I see." Sungmin slowly leans back and looks him up and down. He smiles. "You'll never know if you don't try."
So he does.
Sungmin meets him halfway and then they are kissing, shy and hesitant until Sungmin lets out an impatient huff and parts his lips and then everything is a few degrees warmer. Yesung's eyes fall close, his hand fumbles at Sungmin's collar until it reaches the nape of his neck to pull him closer.
It isn't perfect, the desk is still between them, pressing into Yesung’s stomach, and dimly he hears the stationery clattering to the floor but -- Sungmin gasps into his mouth and pulls back for need of oxygen, and laughs at the look on Yesung’s face, fond and affectionate and happy. His hand curls into Yesung’s, fingers laced together.
Okay, Yesung amends, it’s pretty much perfect.
On the last day of vacation, while his schoolmates are scampering about trying to capture where their holidays have slipped by to, Yesung lazes on his bed with a book held above his head. Kyuhyun's more or less living with Zhou Mi now, the room quiet and peaceful, life is good.
A hand pushes the book out of his grasp and the hardcover flap slaps him in the face.
"Ow," he mumbles after a moment, and then sighs in the musty pages when he hears light, musical laughter. The book lifts and Yesung manages a pained grimace for all of two seconds before he has to grin.
smiles back, setting the book to one side and leaning over him.
"Aw, poor baby," he coos, smoothing away the red mark in Yesung's cheek. "Let me kiss the booboos away."
Yup. Life is definitely, definitely good.