The Red Dress
Pairing: HaeBer (Donghae/Amber)
Rating: R for artsy fartsy allusions to smut
Notes: inspired by the red dress by motion city soundtrack. a friend wanted a fic based on the song more than anything so being cool kid I obliged.
"They say we look alike." It's a whisper behind microphones, over screaming fans, between sets with his hot breath on her skin and his hand impossibly close to the small of her back. "You know, the fans." She turns to look at him with doe eyes and toothy smile and manages to see the resemblance. For a moment she wonders what he sees, if he really believes they look alike, but the moment passes when a particularly loud group of fans screams his name. He waves in their direction and she looks to see them swoon.
"I can see it," she tells him after the deafening chorus of "oppa!" dies down. "Mokpo and Taiwan, who knew?" He laughs-- a noise that hits home somewhere in her chest-- and puts his arm around her shoulders.
"We're going to go out after the show. You should come!" He motions towards the rest of his band who respond with eager waves and thumbs up and ridiculous faces. Since her debut, she hasn't really done anything with any of the other talent save for what's scheduled for f(x), and she thinks that it wouldn't be a bad idea to make some new friends. But they don't speak English, which is the only language she feels confident in. He makes it hard to outright say no when he's holding her close to him and breathing into her ear to speak.
"My Korean isn't so good," she says dazedly, acutely aware of how close he is, how his nose is practically in her hair. "Are you sure it won't be awkward or anything--?" He laughs again and she knows her answer has been made for her; it's like the face her mother used to give her when she asked her "do I have to go to tuba lessons?" instead of climbing the tree out back that she was sure reached the moon. "Okay, okay, I'll go." He beams and turns to make a ridiculous gesture at the other Super Junior members. When he looks back at her, she wonders what the night will be like, if it'll be smashing mailboxes and howling or movies with everyone squeezed together on the couch.
Amber finds she can't wait to find out.
"So wait, we get done singing just to go sing some more--?" With ten fully-grown men and one still-growing young adult squeezed into one room at karaoke, Amber wonders if this is what sardines feel like, and subsequently if Eunhyuk feels at home. But then she remembers that sardines aren't anchovies and she's glad that she didn't actually say that out loud. "I would've thought we would go do something, you know, relaxing." Donghae grins and pinches her cheek affectionately as Shindong and Heechul begin to distribute the alcohol they'd brought, shoving drinks into any empty hand. Amber herself looks at the glass of Soju like she doesn't actually know what to do with it. No one had been very forthcoming about the booze business on the way over and she feels like perhaps she might be in over her head.
"Just take a drink, it'll loosen your vocal chords up!" Heechul doesn't give her the chance to protest before he's putting his cup to her lips and drowning her in burning alcohol. She hates it, the way it tastes, the way it burns all the way down, the way it warms everywhere in her mouth and jaw. When Heechul backs off, Amber coughs and sputters and tells whoever's closest to her to hand her something that won't set her insides on fire. Donghae's kneeling in front of her on the couch, tipping her head back and filling her mouth with sweet-tasting lemonade. She drinks eagerly, too relieved to care about being spoon fed by everyone in the room. Crisis averted, Amber takes the bottle and thanks him, feeling slightly less adverse to singing after singing now that she has a touch of booze in her.
It isn't until she's completely wasted and belting out an off-key rendition Usher's DJ Got Us Falling in Love Again that she realizes that it'd been hard lemonade. Amber feels she should be angry at someone for letting her drink up under the assumption that she wouldn't get drunk, but she's too far gone and having too much fun to care. Donghae's screaming into the mic with her, nonsensical words that let her know that he's either too drunk to attempt English or she's too drunk to understand Korean. He holds his hands over hers and takes over, spouting a freestylin' rap that puts anything she can do to shame. She claps and laughs and falls back onto the couch because she can't trust her legs and it's then that Eunhyuk pulls her up to dance. He moves with ridiculous movements of his hips, ones that Amber can't even hope to follow. He's got to be talented if he's dancing like this after a bottle of Soju. Amber can't even sway in place without feeling dizzy and jelly-legged.
"Come on, put your hips in it!" Heechul crows, getting up to properly instruct her on how to dance. If Eunhyuk had been hard to follow, Heechul was close to impossible. He barks at her, grabs her arms and legs and hips and moves them for her but suddenly pulls away and inspects her. "Why don't you ever wear dresses? You've got such a perfect body type." While she's drunk enough to sing Usher, she isn't drunk enough to accept praise. All of her attempts to wave him off dismissively are met with agreement from the other Super Junior members. Suddenly she has hands all over her, on her arms, her face, her hair, even her legs.
"Does anyone have a dress--?" Yesung asks, sending Ryeowook over to dig through the bags they'd brought, just in case one had miraculously turned up among the empty bottles.
"You've got such nice legs, I'm jealous!" She's reasonably sure that's Kyuhyun saying that as he fondles her calves. Amber wishes more than anything that she was too drunk to notice.
"Let's go buy a dress then! There's a boutique right around the corner, isn't there?" Sungmin wraps Amber up in a hug, one so tight she can smell the booze on his breath and the sweat on his skin. For being drunk, he's incredibly solid and keeps both him and her standing. Everyone cheers at the suggestion, pats Sungmin on the back. Before she can catch up, Donghae's helping her out the door with the nine other boys on her heels, chattering excitedly in a slurred mess of suddenly complicated Korean. She wonders what the dress will look like, and if everyone will still think this is a good idea when they see her in it.
It's a red silk number with one shoulder, long enough to cover everything (or so she thinks) and short enough to keep things interesting. Amber considers for a moment that she might regret this, but she's already in her skivvies and pulling the dress over her head when it occurs to her. Too late for regrets now, she tells herself as she smooths the fabric over her thighs. She tries to tell herself that she looks good but she feels too skinny, too flat, too curveless to fill it out. There's an uptick in demands for her to come out and strut her stuff so after one last defeated glance into the mirror she swings the dressing room door open and stiffly walks out.
"Oh my god, you wear dresses better than I do!" Heechul seems genuinely jealous as he bolts upright in his chair. "Well, model it for us!" Amber continues her awkward uncoordinated strut down the length of the dressing room corridor. The boys whistle and clap and cheer her on and if she's not mistaken Yesung is getting small notes out of his wallet to stuff into her dress. Heechul slaps his hands and chews him out, telling him tht only low class whores require money in their thongs while Amber is a lady with dignity and a respectable profession. Yesung gets mad and defensive and after a long and incredibly inarticulate argument Heechul ends up with a face full of won.
"You look very pretty," Siwon says like a perfect gentleman, kissing the back of her hand and making Amber flush until she's almost the shade of her dress. "Hyung was right, you should wear dresses more often." He hugs her and twirls her around and Amber's too dizzy to be doing this.
"Oppa, no more spinning, no more--" He apologizes and sets her down and she has to lean into him to stop herself from falling over. Too much to drink, too much praise, too much of her own legs showing.
"Everyone get pictures!" Heechul demands, snapping shots with his phone. "I want to make sure I have plenty of these."
The drive home is like a dream; Amber only remembers being awake for half of it. They take the bus, talk loud, sit down, stand up, move around. When they get back to the Super Junior dorm, Amber tells Donghae she wants to go to bed. She's too sleepy to stay up and talk about how good her legs looked; she just wants warm covers and pillows. Donghae helps her up the stairs and halfway up she realizes that something has to give.
"Bathroom, oppa," she tells him urgently. He doesn't waste any time in dragging her there. As soon as he opens the door she stumbles to her knees and worships the porcelain god as she empties the contents of her stomach. The snacks they'd passed her at karaoke don't taste as good a second time, nor does the sugary-sweet lemonade she'd been drinking. She wonders if she regurgitates part of Heechul's ridiculously well-executed version of Eat You Up. She heaves again. This time she's used to the taste of partially-digested lemonade and saliva.
Donghae rubs her back, apologizes so many times she can't keep count. She wants to ask him why he's sorry but she can't find the words around the dry heave of her diaphragm. He says things that don't make sense, things she thinks are in English. "You looked really pretty in that dress." "Why don't you wear them more often?" "I hope you'll come party with us some more. You're a lot of fun." She swears she's dreaming. She has to be. His Korean sounds like English and her mouth tastes like stomach acid.
When she's sure she's done, he helps her up and guides her to a bedroom with an empty bed. "Here." He hands her a t-shirt, one large enough to sleep comfortably in. Amber is too tired, too drunk to care about decency so she strips out of her clothes with him standing right there and pulls the t-shirt over her head before flopping onto the bed and crawling under the covers. She craters almost as soon as she settles, but she swears she feels the bed shift with more weight added to it.
"I'm so glad you made friends!" Victoria smothers Amber with motherly affection the instant she walks into the kitchen. Amber's head is about to split open. It's full of pounding bass, accountants crunching numbers, her high school's drumline, and visions of the words printed across Donghae's shirt. She dreamt he'd held her as she slept, soothed the bad dreams away and cooed the lyrics of No Other and It's You into her ear like soft Soju-soaked lullabies. Much to her surprise however she'd woken up to find him there in the flesh, curled around her like a warm blanket. It more than likely wasn't a dream but admitting it when her head is pounding in time to what she believes is the Usher song she'd sang the night before is too much trouble (or too terrifying; she can't decide). "Did they treat you well like good Oppas should?"
"Yeah," Amber replies with an attempt at a smile. She doesn't bring up the dress, or Yesung's fistful of won, or Kyuhyun's fondling of her calves, or Donghae's gentle singing voice when he's drunk and sleepy. Victoria beams and sits Amber down at the table. Amber knows what's coming next.
"How about something to eat? I bet they only fed you snacks last night." Victoria knows those boys too well.
"Yes please, unnie. My head is pounding." Ignoring the knowing smile Victoria gives her, Amber folds her arms on the table and puts her forehead against the pillow created by her forearms. It feels like a matter of seconds between her relaxing and Victoria setting down a dish of neatly-cut sandwiches in front of her. She's too grateful and hungry and desperate for some relief for her headache to complain about how tired she is. Victoria smiles as Amber digs in hungrily.
"I got a picture last night," Victoria begins after a few moments of silence, "from Heechul-oppa." Amber almost chokes. She wonders if Victoria was waiting for her to come forward about the dress. "The color looks so good on you, and the cut accentuates your curves!" Amber wants to crawl back into bed for the next twenty years, or until those pictures stop existing, whichever comes first. All of her wants to regret going out with them last night, letting them fill her up with liquor, coax her into belting her lungs out, talk her into trying on that dress and strutting her stuff on their makeshift catwalk. She knows she should, but having Siwon kiss her hands, Kyuhyun envy her calves, Donghae rub her back and serenade her to sleep make it worth it, all of the stupid pictures and headaches and knowing glances.
"Don't show it to anyone," Amber pleads once she's sure she won't choke to death. "Just delete it off your phone. I was so smashed last night." Victoria laughs and hugs her and smiles. Amber knows that this means she won't, but she still shakes from the adrenaline rush.
"I'm so glad you had fun. I hope they make you feel pretty all the time."
"How does yours look so good? Mine's... mangled." To prove his point, Donghae holds up a lopsided mess of multicolored thread. Amber puts a hand over her mouth to keep herself from laughing. He can sing, dance, and rap, but when it comes to making friendship bracelets, he's a lost cause. Amber's bracelet is a blue-pink-gold stripe pattern with impeccable craftsmanship. When she holds it up for him to inspect, he takes it without hesitation and tries awkwardly to put it on with one hand.
"Need some help?" Her hands loom over his wrist, just in case he decides he does. He shakes his head vehemently, reminding her very much of a stubborn child. She laughs and smiles and puts her hands back on the table. When Donghae finally has it tied around his wrist, he proudly holds it up to show her with a toothy grin on his face. He strikes a few poses, each designed to showcase his newest accessory.
"How did you get so good at making these?"
In second grade, there had been a bright-eyed girl named Icky (short for Icarus; Amber had always thought that was so cool) who wore them by the boatload, on her wrists and ankles, in her hair. Amber asked her once where she got all of them, because they were pretty and Amber wouldn't mind having a few of her own. "I made all of these! Do you want to learn how?" Icky taught her how to make friendship bracelets, how to braid hair, how to ride a Razor scooter, how to accessorize using Sanrio bandaids. After enough sleep overs, Amber was walking around looking much like Icarus herself.
"A friend taught me a long time ago," Amber replies, grinning. "I'm glad you like it. If you want, I'll make you some more." Donghae has his phone out to snap pictures of his bracelet and send it to everyone in his contacts, even Kibum and Han Geng. Amber takes out her phone to take a picture and send it to her band. The phone is new and she struggles with it. Instead of taking a picture, she ends up calling Donghae. The phone on the table vibrates and lights up and bursts with a tinny rendition of No Other. Amber looks down and what she sees has her fumbling her phone so hard she drops it on the table.
Whenever she calls him, he has it set so that it displays a picture of her in that red dress. "I can't believe you still have it--" She doesn't know whether she's more flattered or embarrassed. "It was almost a year ago. Why didn't you delete it?" Amber wonders if everyone else still has their own pictures. Undoubtedly, Heechul does, because he's Heechul and because he still can't get over how good she looks in a dress, but she was sure that everyone else had forgotten. Well, it isn't the first time she's been wrong and it won't be the last but it's one of the few times she wishes she was.
Donghae is red and flustered but smiling. "I couldn't just delete it. You look so pretty in that dress, dongsaeng." Amber can feel her ears burning. Almost a year down the road and that dress is still making her blush. "I regret not buying it for you. I'd kill to see you in it in person again." She gets the feeling that he's thought about her in that dress more than once and it makes her uncomfortably warm in her own skin. It reminds her of the feeling she'd had when she'd realized that the dream she'd thought she'd had that night hadn't been a dream.
"I-I don't look that good. I was so drunk, oppa, don't you remember--?" Donghae reaches across the table to cup the side of her head in his hand, his thumb stroking the curve of her cheek. Amber wishes the table wasn't between them.
"You always look beautiful, even when you're so drunk that you let us talk you into singing Usher." He stands up and leans across the table and kisses her. He holds her head in his hands with fingers in her hair. This is like her first kiss times a thousand (Fernando Sera at the arcade in the seventh grade, behind the Pac Man machine). Her heart's hammering in her throat and her face and neck are burning and his skin feels heavenly underneath her fingertips. When he pulls away she's barely breathing because she's afraid that she might blow him away if she exhales too hard.
"W-was that too much--?" It occurs to her he's worried that he might've crossed the line. She shakes her head.
"No, no not at all." He kisses her again and this time she's prepared for it. The table's still in the way and Amber wants it gone. Before she can grab the end and attempt to flip it like a pancake, he's moving around the end of the table, taking her with him and leading her somewhere that she can't see. It could be down a well for all she cares; his lips steal her breath effortlessly and she feels like she can kiss him until the sun goes supernova and still not have enough. Amber wonders how long she's wanted to do this and why she hadn't done so earlier, but he does this thing with his tongue on the right spot on the roof of her mouth that almost makes her go cross-eyed and her mind blanks. The only thing she can wonder afterwards is why he isn't doing it again.
Her back collides with something hard and upon hazy inspection she realizes it's the door to his bedroom, the one she'd slept in that night she'd been so drunk. He fumbles with the handle and they tumble in head over heels, a mess of lips and limbs struggling to get to the bed before impulse wins over logic. Her jeans are stubborn and stupid and she hates the fact that she even bothered wearing them or anything. Only when they're both stark naked does she stop caring.
Donghae is made of magic and he covers her in it, fills her with it, until she swears she's seeing stars and pixie dust and hearing Woody Woodpecker's laugh. She feels things down in her toes, at the end of her hair, everywhere along her skin until he has her singing. Amber can't forget the way his mouth looks when it hangs open, the way his eyes sparkle when he looks at her, the way he feels curled around her. It's different when she isn't completely plastered; she can feel his fingers drumming along her bicep and his hot breath on her neck.
"Sing to me again? Like you did that night." He chuckles, kisses on her jaw, and starts, low and sweet on It's You.
When the plane touches down in Los Angeles, Donghae is ready to explode. After her injury, Amber had been scarce at performances and with his busy schedule he'd been unable to visit her. Phone calls and texts and picture messages were a poor substitute to touching her, kissing her, holding her but he can't complain. At least he hears her voice, sees her (albeit blurry) face. But when she'd gone back to LA to recuperate, he'd been miserable. The texts seem fewer and farther between and the time difference took its toll. He's grateful that SM Town is a world tour, because now he can see Amber and hold her for the first time in what feels distinctly like an eternity. As they file off the plane, his phone vibrates and rings to alert him of an incoming picture message. He fumbles with his carry-on bags to dig his phone out and load the photo.
He almost tumbles down the stairs. Staring back at him are Amber's doe eyes as she makes a kissy face at the camera. She's wearing a ridiculously flattering red dress. A text message arrives. Welcome to LA. Donghae feels like he's home.
"What are you gaping at?" Eunhyuk snatches his phone and peers curiously at the screen. "-- Oh my god!" The other eight members flock to see what the commotion's about, grabbing at the phone and making noises and faces and congratulating him. Heechul flails around, arm around Donghae's neck as he flaunts his friend and his friend's girlfriend.
"I can't believe it, she still wears dresses better than I do!"