Kris/Chanyeol, OT4 chingu line, slight Sehun/Lu Han and Kai/D.O
PG-13, ~13k wc.
Kris is an Olympic skier; Chanyeol's just on vacation.
The rest of his sentence is neatly muffled by a cold mouthful of snow and Baekhyun’s shouts of laughter. Chanyeol frowns into the snow, eyes clenched shut, and listens to the soft crunching sweeps of his friends draw near. He thinks about just lying there dramatically until they reach him, but he’s starting to lose feeling in his forehead and the snow in his mouth is half slush. Plus his legs are still tangled the way that tripped him in the first place, which means his right leg is twisted uncomfortably inward below the knee.
Before he can push himself up, someone banks with a loud whoosh, and the spray hits Chanyeol right in the back of the head.
He sits up, and hisses when the snow slides down his nape and into his coat. Chanyeol growls but it’s exaggeratedly loud and drawn out. He’d be madder if he hadn’t given up and stopped caring hours ago, somewhere between the fourth time he’d had to empty his boots, and the second time he’d dug snow out of his pants.
“Maybe we should go back to Mega Green.” Baekhyun leans forward on his poles. “Because you’re mega green.”
“Maybe you should remember we’re only here for a week. The snow can’t protect you forever,” Chanyeol warns. “Actually, it can’t protect you in our hostel room.” The tops of his cheeks and tip of his nose are burning; the air is brisk and the wind quick, and it doesn’t help that he keeps intimately introducing his face to snow drifts. His nose is starting to peel.
“I’m switching bunks with Jongin,” Baekhyun says immediately. “Kyungsoo, can you let Jongin know—”
“Not a chance,” Kyungsoo says, staring at Chanyeol on the ground. “Why are you so bad at this anyway?”
“Try and I’ll drag you out and bury you in the snow in your sleep.” Jongin skids to a stop right behind Baekhyun and grins at Chanyeol. Chanyeol half-heartedly gives him the finger; Jongin catches his wrist below the glove. “Hyung, give me a hand,” he says to Kyungsoo, and together they haul him up.
“Jongdae picked this up faster than you.” Kyungsoo is still staring.
“Fuck you!” Jongdae’s voice floats down to them from higher up the trail.
“It’s because he’s short,” Chanyeol says. “It’s because you’re all short.”
“You only have a couple inches on me.” Jongin shoves him, and then quickly grabs his arm again when Chanyeol wobbles dangerously. “And Sehun.”
"Sehun skis competitively," Kyungsoo points out.
“Sehun's freakishly long torso makes his center of gravity lower,” Chanyeol retorts. "Whereas I have a lot of leg. Like a supermodel."
“If you want we can cut those legs off beneath the knee,” Baekhyun says sweetly. “Maybe then we can race without you falling on your face two steps from the start line!”
“Speaking of which,” Sehun calls, looping a graceful arc around the group. “Looks like I’m winning again.”
Jongin immediately pushes off after him without a word. Chanyeol’s left with only Kyungsoo’s support, and his skis keep threatening to take him down the mountain, because they’re midway on the slope and gravity fucking exists. Baekhyun makes a mock face of concern.
“Hey Kyungsoo, let go,” Chanyeol says.
“Are you sure.” Kyungsoo clutches his arm tighter.
“Yeah, I’ve totally got it,” Chanyeol says airily. “Get a few steps back too, I need some space to work out my ski—TAKE THAT BYUN BAEKHYUN.” The second Kyungsoo scoots away Chanyeol leverages the momentum of his fall and launches himself at Baekhyun with a roar. Baekhyun screeches, and then they’re bowling down the trail with their skis locked. Chanyeol is getting snow up his nose with every roll, and he can barely see through the powder they kick up, but he still has one hand on Baekhyun’s hat and is doing his best to shove Baekhyun’s face into the snow every chance he gets.
“You’re ruining the trail,” Kyungsoo shouts after them, and Chanyeol’s a bit sorry because it’s true, the snow they’re cutting through is going to be a wreck to ski on.
Then Baekhyun tries to stab him with a pole, and Chanyeol lunges up, all contrition forgotten. He ignores the frozen ground banging against his knees, braces his arms, and takes Baekhyun by the waist. He can apologize to Kyungsoo later, Chanyeol thinks, and digs one ski deep into the ground, using the force of his sudden halt to throw Baekhyun—literally—as far down the mountain as he physically can.
It’s not actually that far, but they covered a good stretch of the trail in their tussle so the foot of the mountain is only several metres down.
Baekhyun screams the whole way. Chanyeol laughs so hard he almost throws up.
He’s still laughing when Jongdae zooms past. “Oh my god,” Jongdae shouts. “Head-on collision at Baekhyun-o’clock!”
Chanyeol wipes his tears and looks. Shit. Baekhyun’s still on the ground, but so is some other guy.
Kyungsoo stops long enough on his way down to pick Chanyeol up, and they make their way to where Sehun and Jongin and a few strangers are already gathering.
Both Baekhyun and his victim are sitting up when they reach the crash site. The stranger’s back is to Chanyeol, but he can see Baekhyun’s face, upturned and vaguely stunned. The guy is huge: even sitting, Baekhyun’s head is craned back.
“Good job hyung,” Jongin greets.
“That was awesome,” adds Sehun.
“I’m sorry,” Baekhyun says to the stranger, and Chanyeol blinks because his voice is breathy, and not in a ‘I just got the wind knocked out of me’ way.
“It’s... fine.” The stranger is patting himself down. “Nothing’s broken.”
“I’m sorry—” Chanyeol starts to say, but someone shouts over him. A tall black-haired boy pushes through and drops to his knees, ripping off his gloves. Two other guys have also pulled up, hovering by the side with looks of concern.
“Duizhang, duizhang, are you okay,” the boy mutters, squeezing along his friend’s calf. Chanyeol thinks it’s a bit of an overreaction, but a part of him is genuinely worried, so he carefully shuffles forward.
“Hey, are you okay?” He tries again. “I’m really sorry, it’s all my fault.”
The stranger looks up at him, and the first thing that Chanyeol thinks is ‘hot’. Then he mentally slaps himself, and wishes he could slap Baekhyun too, for rubbing off on him. The stranger is aggressively good-looking, with a commanding nose and blond hair peeking out from under his blue woolen hat and ski goggles.
“It really is all his fault,” Baekhyun helpfully puts in. “He threw me down the mountain.”
“For fun,” Chanyeol clarifies quickly.
The black-haired boy turns and stares at him. It’s actually kind of unpleasant because his whole face looks like a death threat.
The stranger furrows his brow and suddenly asks, not unkindly, “Were you crying?”
“What?” Chanyeol says, but at once he notices how tight his cheeks feel where the tears of laughter had froze. And his eyes aren’t damp anymore, but he’s blinking rapidly, because the wind makes them feel raw. “Oh, no, I was laughing,” he says cheerily. He pushes his cheeks up with the tips of his nylon gloves, and demonstrates with a wide, fixed smile.
Tinkling laughter bursts from the standing pair of strangers. Chanyeol thinks it might have been the one with the bright eyes, whose face is half-buried in his friend’s shoulder. To his right, Sehun fumbles his pole, letting out a small ‘ah’ sound. The atmosphere is getting more awkward by the second; the stranger’s frown has deepened, and Chanyeol’s not sure what his own expression looks like but he knows he’s flushing. He slowly lowers his hands and clears his throat. “Anyway, I’m sorry.”
The black-haired boy helps the stranger up, and Chanyeol would’ve stepped back if his skis allowed him more lower body movement, because he’s never met anyone taller than him. He’s treated to a hard stare and a tiny nod before the stranger dutifully offers Baekhyun a hand, and he’s really starting to wonder if he somehow grievously offended the guy without realizing.
Baekhyun scrambles to his feet, stumbling enough that the stranger needs to catch him with both hands. “I’m Baekhyun,” he says brightly.
“Kris,” the stranger replies slowly.
“Duizhang, let’s go,” the black-haired boy whines. He’s acknowledged with a tilt of the head, and they depart with a perfunctory wave, flanked by the other pair within seconds.
Jongin barely waits until they’ve gone ten feet before he bats his eyelashes, and chirps, “I’m Baekhyun.”
“I’m not even ashamed, you disrespectful brat,” says Baekhyun. “He was that good-looking.”
“I’m ashamed,” says Jongdae. “You are an oil spill in human form.”
“Okay break it up.” Kyungsoo claps. “Let’s change and get dinner.”
“Already?” Chanyeol says, but Kyungsoo is right. Sometime during all the commotion the sky has deepened to a dull lavender, the horizon above the treeline purpling with dusk. Kyungsoo hands him the ski poles he hadn’t realized he’d lost, and Chanyeol maneuvers to fall in between Baekhyun and Jongdae, behind Kyungsoo and Jongin. Sehun, swift as always, is several paces ahead.
“I’m going to spare Kyungsoo the pleasure of my company tonight,” Baekhyun says.
“That sounds gross!” Kyungsoo declares without looking around.
“—because I’m pretty sure you lost all rights to revenge when you threw me off a mountain. For the rest of your life.”
Chanyeol pretends to groan but it comes out as a snigger instead. As much as it sucks he has a strong sense of fair play, and he has to admit this is fair. Well. “For the next two days,” he promises.
“Are you planning on dying in the next two days? For the rest of the week.” Baekhyun elbows him. “You should thank Kris’s parents for making him so sexy, otherwise it’d be forever.”
“Gag,” says Jongdae.
“So I did you a favour,” Chanyeol says.
“You threw me off a mountain,” Baekhyun enunciates.
“So I did you a favour,” Chanyeol repeats with a grin.
“And into a person,” Baekhyun continues. “No amount of facial symmetry will cancel that out, not even if that facial symmetry is at the top of a very, very tall glass of water.”
“I wish you’d done us a favour,” Jongdae says to Chanyeol, “and thrown a little harder.”
They end up eating at Song Chun, the Korean restaurant in the Tower Condominium. They’re staying at the Yongpyong hostel across the street, but the hostel only has a public kitchen and no food facilities, and Kyungsoo had purposely not packed any cooking implements.
“Like hell I’m cooking on vacation,” he’d snapped when Jongin tried sneaking a pot into his suitcase.
It’s overpriced of course, but they had brought instant ramyun for breakfasts (which will probably end up as lunches because only Kyungsoo gets up before ten), and after a hard day on the trails it’s nice to indulge. Chanyeol studies the menu, chewing his lip. They’d all showered and hung up their coats and gloves to dry before going for dinner, and his chilled body is revelling in the comfort of old sweats and an oversized hoodie. He hums happily, his muscles still aching with the satisfying sour burn of exertion.
“What do you want,” Baekhyun leans on his shoulder. Baekhyun’s face is bare and his hair is still slightly damp, and across the table Chanyeol can see Kyungsoo in Jongin’s borrowed sweatshirt, deliberating over the menu options.
“Happiness,” Chanyeol sighs. “Laughter, friends, pork cutlet.”
“Love,” Baekhyun adds in the same sing-song voice. “I’m getting soondubu jjigae. Jongdae too.”
“What do you think Sehun wants,” Chanyeol thumbs through the menu pages. “What has he not eaten recently?” The restaurant is fairly busy and they are all famished, so Chanyeol’s taking the liberty of ordering for his absent friends.
“Is he on an alternating streak?” Baekhyun purses his lips. “Or is he doing that every-meal-the-same thing again.”
“Ddukbokki.” Jongdae slides into his seat. “He’s doing the same thing again.”
“I’m getting you soondubu jjigae,” Baekhyun tells him, and Jongdae nods in approval.
The waitress comes by and collects their orders, and they’re left jiggling their knees and playing with their water glasses as they wait. Jongin takes Kyungsoo’s arm and starts rolling up the too-long sleeve.
“Sehun’s taking an awfully long time in the bathroom,” Kyungsoo frowns.
“Maybe he fell in,” Jongin quips. Chanyeol straightens up in his seat and peers around. It takes him five seconds to locate their youngest, leaning against the wall next to the decorative fish tank and having an intimate conversation with a boy whose caramel hair gleams in the dim lighting.
“Are we supposed to intervene,” Jongdae says, following his line of sight. “As his hyungs, I mean.”
“I’ll let you know.” Chanyeol gets up and weaves his way between tables to where the two stand, heads close together. He slows down when he gets close, in case he overhears anything he isn’t supposed to.
“Hyung,” Sehun nods.
“I thought you didn’t say hyung,” his partner says playfully, and turns around. It’s the boy with the bright eyes from earlier, the one who’d laughed at him. Close-up, he looks older than expected, and lovelier too.
“Oh hey,” Chanyeol greets with a friendly smile. “You again.”
The boy’s bright eyes crinkle, and he nods to someone behind Chanyeol. “Hey.”
Chanyeol turns and meets a familiar stare. He steps to the side and puts his hands in the pockets of his hoodie. “Kris, right? Sorry again.” He flashes a smile, even though he’s feeling a bit wary.
The corner of Kris’s mouth turns up. He’s showered too, Chanyeol can tell from the sudden clean smell of shampoo, but his hair has been blow-dried and even a little styled. “Your friend weighs like 50 kilo. No harm done.”
“He’s more lethal when he’s not a bowling ball,” Chanyeol says.
“Glad I got the lesser evil,” Kris replies. “Should I watch out for human projectiles tomorrow, too?”
His tone is flat, but Chanyeol’s always been good at reading people, and he can tell Kris is amused. He relaxes. “That was a one time show,” he says. “You’re lucky.”
“Kris,” the bright-eyed boy behind them interrupts. “Didn’t you come here for something?” He’s biting his lip, eyes dancing.
“Yeah.” Kris looks away from Chanyeol, glancing briefly at Sehun before focusing on his friend. “Are you done? Everyone’s waiting to order.”
“Sorry,” his friend says breezily, and touches Sehun’s wrist. “I’ll see you.”
“See you,” Sehun echoes. Chanyeol watches them go. They’re sitting across the room, right where Chanyeol can see them from his seat, if he looks up.
He turns back to Sehun and whistles lowly. “What was that, maknae?”
“I dunno,” Sehun starts heading back. “Looked like he was flirting with you to me.”
“That,” Chanyeol says, following him, “was not the answer hyung wanted.”
The waitress has just finished serving their table when they get back. Baekhyun’s chopsticks are halfway to Chanyeol’s dish before Chanyeol jumps in and slaps his hand away.
“Sehun-ah, what took you so long,” Jongin demands between mouthfuls of chicken.
“Chanyeol-hyung was talking to Kris,” Sehun says easily.
“What,” Baekhyun hits Chanyeol, probably harder than warranted in revenge for the hand-slap. “The Kris from earlier?”
“Yeah, we crossed paths.” Chanyeol squints at Sehun. “He went to get his doe-eyed friend, the one you were sharing air with, Sehun.”
Surprisingly, Sehun goes a bit pink. “I just met him in the bathroom,” he mumbles, stabbing his ddukbokki. “We were talking about the trails.”
“Wait,” Jongin pauses with his chopsticks halfway to his mouth. “You mean the one with light hair, really pretty?” At Sehun’s nod, he narrows his eyes and exhales through his teeth. “Huh. Good job.”
Chanyeol rests his chin in his palm and looks out as Kyungsoo joins in on the ribbing. Kris’s table is easier to see than he expected, with Kris himself sitting in profile view. He’s laughing and shaking his head at something one of the others said, and his sleeves are pushed halfway up his forearms. He’s actually not as handsome when he’s smiling with his teeth showing. It’s oddly endearing. Chanyeol’s busy trying to make out what Kris is eating when something catches his ear. “Wait, say that again.”
“I told Lu Han we would ski with him and his friends tomorrow.”
"Oh sweet." Chanyeol cuts off a piece of his cutlet and pops it in his mouth. "When?"
"Eight-thirty," says Sehun.
"Fuck you." Jongin throws a piece of lettuce at him.
It takes a lot of teamwork and manpower (figuring out who would take which of Jongin's limbs, lugging his dead weight to the bathroom), but the six of them manage to hustle out of the hostel by quarter to nine. Chanyeol waits by the doors, collecting everyone's room cards as they exit and tucking them in his wallet. "Left, left," he shouts after Sehun, and bows contritely when another group in the lobby glances over. "Sorry for disturbing you."
Kris is the only one there when they reach Silver lift, standing outside in the same dark blue coat and ski pants as yesterday. Sehun looks around, like Lu Han could be hiding somewhere in the flat snow-covered ground, and pushes his bottom lip out a little.
"Sorry we're late," Chanyeol calls as soon as he's within hearing distance. "We usually don't get up so early."
"It's fine," Kris says. "My friends went up with the first lifts, but they'll be down soon." His expression is stiff, but Chanyeol can't detect any real annoyance from his loose body posture and relaxed jaw.
"I’m shocked we weren’t at least an hour late," Chanyeol confides, lowering his voice to a mock-whisper. "Every morning I wonder if my friends aren't secretly undead."
"Are you saying I'm lucky again?" Kris smiles crookedly. "Seems like I have very meager blessings around you."
Chanyeol laughs, pleased, and reaches to squeeze the pom-pom on Kris's hat, a marled cream one today. "Nice hat. Come on, I'll introduce you."
Kris shakes everyone's hand, nodding politely, though he spares a smile when Baekhyun beams at him. He's just let go of Kyungsoo's hand when Lu Han glides up, cheeks pink and hair tousled.
"Good morning sleepyheads," he teases, and gives Sehun a little wave.
"How are you down already?" Jongdae blinks. "Were you just on Silver Paradise?"
"Rainbow," Lu Han corrects, shaking his head. "I don't think I've formally introduced myself, my name is Lu Han."
"It's nice to meet you," Chanyeol says automatically. "Also what the heck, Rainbow Paradise is like a billion metres long."
"5600," says Kris. "Lu Han is very fast."
“I’m Baek—oh, I guess we might as well wait.” Baekhyun points behind Lu Han, where two skiers are coming at them at a rapid speed.
The first one to stop is the black-haired boy, who pulls his goggles off his face and shakes his hair out. He looks around at all of them and unexpectedly ducks his head, as though shy.
His friend is only seconds behind. “I’m Yixing,” he offers, dimpling at them under a swoop of chestnut hair.
“My name is Huang Zitao,” the black-haired boy speaks like he has a mouth full of cotton, but he’s carefully courteous. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Park Chanyeol,” Chanyeol waves, and this prompts the rest of his friends to re-introduce themselves.
“Okay let’s go.” Kris looks over at the lift, where a few others are starting to queue up. “Groups of four.”
Chanyeol stifles a laugh because Kris sounds like a teacher on an elementary school field trip, and Kris looks at him, lips quirking, because Chanyeol is already herding up his own friends, one hand on Baekhyun’s shoulder and the other on Kyungsoo’s.
They end up loading Jongin, Yixing, Lu Han, and Sehun into the first quad, and Baekhyun, Zitao, Jongdae, and Kyungsoo into the second. There’s no one left behind them, so Kris and Chanyeol toe up to the marked line for the next quad alone. Kris waits until Chanyeol is comfortably seated before pulling down the safety bar.
“Sometimes I feel like a babysitter, shuffling shorties from one place to another,” Chanyeol comments, watching Baekhyun’s tiny head bob animatedly about in the quad in front.
“I know exactly what you mean,” Kris says with feeling. “No one ever believes Lu Han is older than me.”
“Lu Han is older than you?” Chanyeol stares.
Kris stares back.
Chanyeol’s lips twitch, and he breaks away first. “Even when Joonmyun-hyung and Minseok-hyung are around—ah, they're oldest in our group—I usually end up dragging the others everywhere. Both of them are on vacation with their families this week so now it’s a full-time job.”
"Gotta take responsibility." Kris nods sagely.
They lapse into silence, but it’s thankfully comfortable. Chanyeol tips his head back and closes his eyes, letting the high breeze tickle his bare face. The sky has a bit of blue in it today, and the sunlight feels warm for once.
“Are you in school?”
“Yup,” Chanyeol answers without opening his eyes. "Starting my third year at Hongdae next month. We’re all at the same school, but Sehun—he's going into his first year—will only be part-time because he spends a lot of time training. Competitive ski, he’s really good. What about you?”
The conversation flows smoother than Chanyeol would have expected, but he's quickly learning to discard the assumptions he'd made when he first met the stony-faced stranger on the ground. He learns that Kris is two years older but never finished his degree, that he speaks four languages because his family used to move around a lot, that he and his friends have been here for a week already but aren't staying in Yongpyong, and that Kris has been skiing for most of his life.
"You must be as good as Lu Han," Chanyeol says.
"I'm better," Kris jokes. "We've all been skiing together for a long time."
"We got here Monday, so this is only my third day." Chanyeol kicks his feet, feeling his skis dangle from his boots. "I haven't gone down Rainbow Paradise before, hopefully I don't embarrass myself too badly."
"It's a bit late to worry about making a good impression," says Kris. He readies his poles in one hand and pushes up their safety bar. Their lift is just entering the station, and Chanyeol wiggles forward, ready to disembark. "The first time we met you told us you cliff people for fun."
Chanyeol’s right knee gives out over a glassy patch about a minute down the run, right before the big dip, and he lands on his ass. On either side skiers swerve to avoid collision and he hunches over, trying to make himself as small of an obstacle as possible until the pack passes.
“You okay?” Baekhyun skids to a stop. He’s smiling, but Chanyeol can also detect the beginnings of distracted impatience in his wandering gaze.
“You’re just more aerodynamic,” replies Chanyeol, frowning and pretending like Baekhyun had insulted him rather than inquired after his well-being. “There’s less surface area slowing you down.”
Baekhyun laughs for real. “Funny that you’re the one going flying every ten minutes then.”
Chanyeol gets up and brushes snow from the seat of his pants. “You guys should go ahead, I’ll catch up.” Sehun and Lu Han had raced off the moment they landed, with Jongin—not to be outdone—hot on their heels and Yixing placidly bringing up the rear. Jongdae and Kyungsoo are long gone too, so it’s only Baekhyun and Kris keeping him company.
Well, Zitao is there, but only because he’s apparently attached to Kris by an invisible umbilical cord. Chanyeol doesn’t count him.
“Zitao, you and Baekhyun go ahead. I’ll stay with Chanyeol,” Kris says. Zitao opens his mouth, but Kris cuts him off sharply. “You’re not getting any practice in.”
“I’ll stay with him, I’m his best friend,” Baekhyun says staunchly.
Kris smiles at him, and it’s the same indulgently fond expression he’s already started adopting whenever he speaks to Baekhyun. “I’m bigger than Chanyeol, it's better if I do. The trail’s pretty long and I can help him if he falls again.”
“Well, then,” Baekhyun purses his lips, relenting. “In case you’re a serial killer, remember that I have your friend too,” he taps a startled Zitao on the chest with the end of his ski pole, “and I know hapkido.”
“You don’t think I'd cover all my bases?” Kris lifts his eyebrows. “Zitao does wushu.”
“I knew you were too charismatic to not be bloodthirsty.” Baekhyun sighs. “I’m leaving you with a serial killer,” he informs Chanyeol briskly. “If you survive, take me out for a celebratory meal.”
“You are so lucky I can’t run right now,” Chanyeol deadpans, even as he gives it a try anyway and has to wildly stab his poles into the snow to keep from falling again. “If Joonmyun-hyung were here you would be nicer,” he grumbles.
“I hope you don’t lie like that to his face.” Baekhyun shakes his head. “Don’t get his hopes up. Well,” he bows to Kris. “Enjoy.”
“I’ll send you a few fingers as keepsakes,” Kris promises.
Baekhyun salutes, and stretches up to pull at a tuft of Zitao’s hair before taking his arm and tugging him away. Chanyeol watches them disappear down the run, and looks sheepishly at Kris. “Sorry to impose.”
Kris shakes his head. “Are you ready?”
In front of them the ground drops off steeply. If Chanyeol is honest with himself, his last fall had been caused more by nervous anticipation than adverse slope conditions—the next stretch of the trail is going to happen very fast, and he can only hope to stay on his feet.
Kris is looking at him. “You look like you’re thinking of bombing it.”
“I can’t figure out how to slow down,” Chanyeol admits. “I tried doing the snowplow, like the instructors said,” he demonstrates, pointing the tips of his skis together to form a wedge, “but it doesn’t work. And I keep almost hitting the fence when I try skiing from side to side.”
“Hmm,” Kris says. “Do you play basketball?”
“Yeah.” Chanyeol blinks. “I mean, I’m normally pretty good at sports.”
“I could tell,” Kris says. He pushes himself closer until he’s standing a little behind Chanyeol on his right side. “You’re trying to control this too much. Tension is great on court, because you’re ready to sprint in any direction, but if you’re that stiff here the smallest bump is going to knock you over. Right here.” he puts his gloved hand on Chanyeol’s leg, right above the knee, and squeezes lightly. It’s an impersonal touch, completely professional: Kris doesn’t linger, and he isn’t touching Chanyeol anywhere else. There’s a whole half foot of space between their bodies. He cups his other hand around the back of Chanyeol’s thigh. “You’re still tight. You need to loosen up, but stay firm. Have you ever surfed? It’s like that, you have to lean in and ride it.”
Through the layers of ski pants and gloves Chanyeol can’t feel the heat of Kris’s hands at all; they're standing in the shadow of the mountain, and the parts of his body that aren't freezing are numb. It’s just the weight of them, the pressure of his fingertips. Kris’s hands are large enough to overlap where they circle his thigh. Chanyeol looks down, at Kris's long nose pink with cold, at the white puffs that escape between his lips as he speaks, and he's seized with the funny urge to touch the bit of reddened earlobe peeking out from under Kris's hat.
“Got it?” Kris is expectant, his mouth open in a half-smile that shows too much gum. Somehow Chanyeol’s body works up enough blood circulation to warm his cheeks, and he thanks god his face is already ruddy from the cold.
“I think so,” he says. Kris gestures for him to go first.
Chanyeol takes a deep breath. He quickly runs through everything he just heard, steels himself, and shoves off with his poles before he can have any second thoughts. Immediately his knees and elbows want to lock up, but he forces himself to stay limber even as his heart pounds. He leans into a shaky glide to the left, and then a wide sweep to the right before going left again. It’s completely uneven, the path his skis draw in the snow is nothing like the neat undulations of his friends, but he’s staying upright and mostly managing to control his speed. His focus is tight on the dips of the ground before him, his body sinking to absorb each shock and then rising again. He narrows his eyes against the wind that whips his hair back and freezes the tips of his ears.
It’s not a long hill, and before he knows it he’s coasting on a low incline again.
“Good job,” Kris shouts from behind. Chanyeol grins.
They make it down the rest of the mountain with little incident, Kris nudging and adjusting his technique here and there. Chanyeol falls three more times; the third time he yanks Kris down when he’s offered a helping hand, and manages to get a handful of snow in Kris’s face before Kris pins him and stuffs two fistfuls down the back of his coat.
Afterwards, when the both of them are panting and huffing white clouds in each other’s faces, Kris dusts off his cream hat and tugs it firmly down over Chanyeol’s ears. “Those things are going to get frostbite if you don't cover up,” he laughs, raking a hand through his own hair, which is sticking up every which way.
Chanyeol puffs his cheeks out unhappily, but helps Kris flatten his bangs anyway.
Sehun and Lu Han’s group is nowhere to be seen when they arrive at the foot of Rainbow Paradise, but they join up with the rest and get in line for the next slope. Baekhyun arches a brow when he sees Chanyeol with Kris’s hat, but keeps his mouth shut.
Chanyeol beats Jongdae down the second trail. He’s a fast learner and naturally athletic, and now that he’s finally gotten the hang of it his competitive side is kicking into serious gear. By the time they run Rainbow Paradise again, over two hours later, he’s pulling even with Kyungsoo. He has much less finesse than the others and still wipes out twice as often, but his sheer speed makes up for it.
“I think I’m supposed to thank you for fixing Chanyeol,” Baekhyun complains when they break for lunch. “But instead I just hate you.”
“Don’t hate the player,” Kris says smoothly. “Hate the game.”
“You know, you're a lot less cool than you look,” Jongdae comments.
They part ways after dinner. Chanyeol apologizes again for being late in the morning, and Yixing slyly assures him that it’s fine, Kris usually never gets out of bed before noon anyway. They agree to meet the next afternoon instead, but Lu Han says he’ll be up right when the slopes open in case anyone wants to join him.
The six of them trudge to their hostel, sleepy-eyed and yawning, though all of them have enough energy to tease Sehun the whole way back, elbowing and winking at him until he pulls his beanie over his face and doubles over with embarrassed giggles. He’s only saved when the elevator arrives at their floor and everyone races to snag one of the showerheads in the communal shower room.
Baekhyun finishes washing up first, and Chanyeol is quick to follow, changing into an oversized tee and clean boxers before he heads back to their room. When he enters Baekhyun is already curled on the bottom bed of their shared bunk, flipping through a paperback. Chanyeol plucks Kris’s hat from the bedpost and climbs in next to Baekhyun. He’s pretty much made up his mind, but he isn’t going to do anything without checking in first.
“Get off, you oaf,” Baekhyun says absently, turning a page.
Chanyeol deliberately leans his forearm on Baekhyun’s sprawled calf, and twirls the hat with his other hand. “So, hey,” he begins casually.
Baekhyun pauses with one thumb in his book. “What’s up?”
“I was uh, thinking of asking Kris to dinner tomorrow. What do you think?” Chanyeol watches Baekhyun carefully.
Baekhyun puts on a thoughtful expression, and then shrugs. “I think that sounds great.”
“Really?” Chanyeol says, leaning his full weight forward. “I know you think he’s totally mouth-watering,” he teases lightly.
“Augh, you dick.” Baekhyun kicks Chanyeol’s arm off and pulls his legs in protectively. “Kris is really good-looking,” he agrees. “But so are all of his friends. You know, you guys seem pretty compatible, I'd say go for it.”
“I mean, I know you think he's cute so I wanted to run it by you, in case,” Chanyeol presses, plucking at the hat's pom-pom. “I think he's pretty attractive, for sure, but it's nothing serious. I wanted to check in case you were thinking of doing the same kind of thing. So we don't get our wires crossed." He wiggles his fingers in the air, tracing a tangled mess of imaginary squiggles.
“If I were genuinely interested in every hot guy I met... yeah, I'll pass." Baekhyun grins. "But thanks."
"All right then dude." Chanyeol bumps his fist against Baekhyun's. "Wish me luck."
"Don't worry, he likes you."
"Oh?" Chanyeol says. He's surmised something along the same lines himself, noted the unnecessarily playful gestures and faint interest in Kris's eyes because he's not blind and he has a pretty healthy grasp on his ego, but it's reassuring to have someone else say it all the same. He bats his eyes. "You think?"
Baekhyun hits him with his book. "Ew, I'm the one who can pull off coy."
"Oh god please don't have another aegyo competition," Jongdae pleads, having entered without either of them noticing. "I'll save you the trouble and let you know neither of you can pull it off."
"Hey, don't be jealous we didn't invite you." Chanyeol tosses Kris's hat in the air and catches it, pointing his index finger at Jongdae.
"WHO PUT THEIR WET TOWEL ON MY PILLOW," Jongin interrupts them, having zeroed in on his bed the second he stepped through the door. He snatches up the offending item and waves it around. Baekhyun immediately dives into his mattress and tugs his blanket up around his ears, pretending to sleep.
"Not me," Jongdae says when Jongin rounds on him, catching Chanyeol's eye over Jongin's shoulder and stifling a knowing grin. "Baekhyun's trying to sleep, can you keep it down?" Jongin growls loudly in reply, and Jongdae starts scolding him with affected annoyance, but both are drowned out by Chanyeol's laughter.
"Hey," Baekhyun whispers amidst the din, tugging on Chanyeol's pinky and opening one eye to check that Jongin is still preoccupied with letting himself be soothed by Kyungsoo. "Listen, don't wear a scarf tomorrow. I bet you he'll give you his."
Chanyeol really wishes he’d worn a scarf.
He tugs uselessly at the zip of his coat even though it’s already pulled up all the way, and clutches the collar tighter around his chin. It wasn’t that he had taken Baekhyun’s advice and chosen to forgo one in hopes of catching Kris’s sympathy again—he’d thought about it, his fingers had hovered indecisively over his scarf for about five seconds that morning, but ultimately Chanyeol had decided against the ploy. Not because he’s above playing games (between the two of them, Chanyeol is quicker to take advantage of a situation), but because he doesn’t see the point of this one. It would be sweet if Kris did offer his scarf, but one of them would still end up with a bare neck, and to be practical about it, physical discomfort isn’t worth the five seconds of satisfaction.
So of course, when Chanyeol had been called away to help look for the retainer Sehun left behind, he’d promptly neglected to actually take his scarf with him.
At least he still has Kris’s hat, he thinks as he stamps his skis and huffs into his cupped hands. Kris had refused when he tried giving it back. He casts a sidelong glance at Baekhyun, who is wrapped up to his nose in wool. “What was it you were saying again?”
“It’s not going to happen right away, give it two or three more hills. Besides, I didn’t tell you to actually forget your scarf.” Baekhyun rolls his eyes, as if to imply that Chanyeol would be less cold if he had left his scarf behind deliberately. He waves at the chairlift carrying Yixing, Zitao, and Kris just as it enters the station. The three have been running the slopes off-piste all morning, leaving Chanyeol and Baekhyun to sweep the marked trails by themselves.
“You should come with us on this one,” Yixing says when he draws close. “It’s not that much harder and the snow’s excellent.”
“Yeah?” Baekhyun asks, glancing at Chanyeol, who shrugs back.
“It’s the same slope,” Kris says. “Only with trees.”
“Well, if you think I can handle it,” Chanyeol replies. “I’ll trust you, hyung.”
“You know me,” Kris drawls, and flicks his hair back. “I always take responsibility.”
Baekhyun rolls his eyes, and loops arms with both Yixing and Zitao. “Okay guys, my life’s in your hands,” he says loudly, and tries to pull them away. Yixing only goes after a snort and a skeptical, “Since when?” to Kris.
Kris watches them disappear into the treeline. “I hate Yixing,” he says conversationally.
Chanyeol chews the inside of his cheek for a moment, and then takes Kris by the elbow. Kris looks down at him, a little startled, and his face is closer than expected. He’s really not that much taller. Around them the station bustles, lifts gliding by and unloading groups of people at regular intervals. Chanyeol licks his mouth, and the invitation he so carefully prepared is dying in his throat. He doesn’t really consider himself shy about anything—particularly not vacation flings—always figuring that nothing isn’t worth a try, and he knows Baekhyun left them alone for a reason. It doesn’t mean he can’t get nervous, especially when they’re in a crowd and all he can smell is Kris’s cologne. “I don’t know, I think he’s funny,” he finally says, deciding the timing isn’t right. “Let’s go.”
Fifteen minutes and three close calls later, Chanyeol slumps against the last tree he’d narrowly avoided and groans. “I hate Yixing.”
“What did I tell you,” Kris says, squatting next to him with one arm braced on the trunk.
“I hate you too,” Chanyeol informs him. “You told me this was easy.”
“I said there were trees.”
“What happened to taking responsibility?” Chanyeol demands. He punches Kris in the arm and secretly hopes it’ll topple him over, but no such luck. Kris just laughs and tosses a handful of snow at him, half of which hits the back of his exposed neck.
“Asshole!” Chanyeol yelps, and lurches up. “Wow, I don’t even want to have dinner with you,” he mutters under his breath, and then immediately clamps his mouth shut. He digs his teeth into his lower lip, taking a second or two to gnaw at it, before he swivels around to where Kris is still squatting unperturbed.
“Sup.” Kris lifts his free hand in a wave.
“Uh,” Chanyeol says. “Do you want to have dinner with me.”
“Isn’t that... the plan,” Kris says slowly.
“No I mean like,” Chanyeol flails, and coughs. “Alone.”
“Stop trying to distract me with those jazz hands,” Kris says, but a smug curl is starting to pull at his lips. “Do I want to have dinner with you... alone?”
Chanyeol drops his arms and frowns, but on the inside his hesitance is melting away, replaced by the first fizzy bubbles of excitement. He can tell he’s already in the clear, that it’s unlikely this conversation will end unpleasantly. “That was going to be my offer,” he sniffs. “But I don’t want to anymore.”
“Hey, hey how can you do that?” Kris stands up. “You can’t take back something you didn’t even give me.”
“Well, do you want to have dinner with me, alone?”
“Yeah,” Kris answers almost before he finishes speaking, swiping his tongue over his bottom lip, and Chanyeol falters.
“I’m flattered, hyung,” he says in return, recovering with a beatific smile. “And now I’m taking it back.”
“Maybe if you weren’t such a snow-flinging dick,” Chanyeol shoots over his shoulder, already sliding down the next dip.
Kris catches up to him in under five seconds. “Why are you such a baby,” he huffs. “What if I ask you?”
“It’s still a no,” Chanyeol sings, and speeds up. To his chagrin, Kris easily keeps pace.
“What if I beat you down this hill.”
Chanyeol snorts. “I don’t think that’s really a ‘what if’, hyung.”
“Giving up before you even try?”
Chanyeol’s head snaps around, and he stares Kris in the eye.
Kris holds his gaze steady, eyebrow cocked and mouth in a cool smirk.
Chanyeol’s fists tighten around his poles, and he shakes his head, half-smiling. He knows he’s playing straight into the taunt, that it’s plain as day he has no chance of actually winning. It’s a cheap shot, but an effective one.
It’s the kind of challenge that makes his whole spine itch, and Kris knows it.
Not like he really wants to win, anyway.[>>>]