title: gestures (4/?)
fandom/pairing: Super Junior; ShiHan, QMi
summary: Fresh from college, and eager to see the world, Siwon finds the perfect job. And with it, he finds a family of friends who are willing to stick together through anything and everything to protect what they care for.
disclaimer: This is purely a work of fiction.
notes: This chapter was a bitch to write, and I'm incredibly unhappy with it. I know nothing about science, elephants, etc., so I just sort of glossed over that part, and I hope it’s not too confusing. It’s really not that important to the story. Anyway, this was only suppose to be half of a chapter in terms of plot, but then a certain character showed up and I just couldn’t stop him.
Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3
“What were you and Zhou Mi talking about?” Han Geng asked over lunch, pulling his seat close. It had been Han Geng who had found Siwon and Zhou Mi lost in conversation instead of work earlier, but he hadn’t said anything about it until now. Siwon wondered if it was the result of Han Geng not wanting to appear frightening, like he thought he had to Donghae.
“Nothing really.” Siwon felt bad enough that he and Zhou Mi had so easily been distracted from their work, and as a result had finished much later than usual. The reason they were off-task only made it worse—talking about Kyuhyun, Han Geng, and relationships. But there was no way Siwon would admit that to anyone, least of all to Han Geng himself.
“I’m not going to get mad at you or anything. You just... looked like you were talking very seriously. And you kind of looked upset… is there something wrong?”
Han Geng really was fit for the role of their leader, Siwon decided. Observant and caring, he knew his people well, and wanted to make sure that they were doing okay. Siwon had seen him sit down with everyone for a heart to heart over short time Siwon had been at the camp, and he had always admired Han Geng for it.
But now was not the time to have that sort of conversation with him.
Siwon shook his head. It wasn’t right to lie, but talking his way around the topic was possible… “Not… necessarily. We were just talking.”
Han Geng sat back in his chair, looking two parts thoughtful and one part disappointed, and Siwon was left confused as to why. “You both do seem to be getting along really well.”
“I work with him more than I do anyone else, so I guess we’ve gotten closer.” Siwon’s brow creased. What was Han Geng getting at?
“You know… if something is wrong, you can always come and talk to me about it, too. I wouldn’t mind.”
Ah. Maybe Siwon had imagined the way Han Geng seemed to emphasize the word “me” there, but his heart skipped a beat as the idea of Han Geng being jealous came to him. He furiously shook it away. There was no use in assuming such things—and even if Han Geng was jealous, it might not mean anything. It could just be because he wanted to be friends with everyone… Yes, that was most likely it. He just wanted Siwon to know that Han Geng always was there for him if he needed it. But maybe…
It was thoughts like these that plagued Siwon for the rest of the meal, and he cursed how deep he was reading into just a conversation that was probably nothing at all. Just wishful thinking on his part, he was sure.
He was falling way too quickly after all.
“By the way—” Siwon looked up to Han Geng addressing the rest of the group. Whatever he had been saying before that had been completely lost on Siwon, but he leaned forward to pay attention this time. “—we’re getting a delivery from town in a few hours, so if you have any mail to send out, get it ready before the driver gets here. He’ll take it back to town for you.”
“And by driver you mean Heechul, don’t you?” ask Donghae, which was quickly followed by a snicker from Henry.
None of this was lost on Siwon. “Heechul?”
“He’s had a crush on Hankyung since he laid eyes on him,” Donghae told him a laugh. Siwon’s eyes narrowed, fast, as his own jealousy shot through him. He grimaced as he realized what he was doing, and hoped he wasn’t too obvious.
“He has not.” Han Geng hit Donghae on the head with his clipboard, producing a loud thwack. Siwon winced for Donghae, who didn’t actually seem fazed. “He’s a friend of mine from when I first moved to Korea, who—”
“—followed you to Africa—”
“—works for the same research group that we do,” Han Geng explained, and Siwon felt the leader’s eyes on him as he talked. “We’re friends. That’s all.”
Behind him, Donghae was shaking his head with a smirk, and Siwon felt the urge to take Han Geng’s clipboard from him and smack him again—but Han Geng beat him to it.
Somehow, it didn’t make Siwon feel any better.
Siwon managed to stick himself to Han Geng after lunch—and from the looks Zhou Mi kept shooting at him, he wasn’t being very subtle about it either. It was stupid, he knew; he couldn’t even decided if he was ever going to say anything to Han Geng about wanting to date him, and yet here he was already acting like a jealous boyfriend. And maybe, just maybe, he was trying to show Han Geng that he wasn’t just close to Zhou Mi here at the camp. That was his rationale to it.
With his arm securely over Han Geng’s shoulder as the older man leaned against the fence, writing on his clipboard, and murmuring plans to himself, Siwon knew he was being possessive. And he knew he didn’t have any right to it.
“We could put out the microphones over there, and we should be able to pick up some sound to play back for a reaction… does that sound good?”
Siwon hummed a yes in automatic response, though he hadn’t heard what Han Geng actually been saying.
Something about having Han Geng so close to him made it hard to pay attention.
“But that doesn’t really solve our camera problem… what do you think we should do?”
“Um.” Crap, a question he needed an actual answer to. What had Han Geng been talking about? Testing elephant response to sound, right? So, cameras… cameras… “I don’t know.”
“Were you even listening to me?” Han Geng was skeptical.
Siwon was too sheepish to answer, ducking his head to avoid Han Geng’s look. The leader sighed.
“If you are going to try to skip out of your own assignments by offering to help me, at least put in some effort, okay?” The lack of amusement was evident in Han Geng’s tone.
“I know, I know. I’m sorry.” And he really was, because the last thing he wanted to do right now was upset the same person he was trying to get closer to. “What were you talking about?”
He detangled his arm from Han Geng’s shoulder, dead set on paying attention this time around, and wondered if the look of disappointment on Han Geng’s face was just his imagination. He didn’t get to dwell on it long—nor did he get to hear what Han Geng had to say—as the sound of an approaching jeep on the lonely dirt road caught both of their attention.
Heechul was beautiful. There was no denying that. All long hair that should be too hot in this weather, windblown from having the top of the jeep down, with perfect features that wouldn’t have been out of place on a girl.
But his voice was rough and masculine, as Siwon was soon to find out, a heavy box shoved into his arms as he was told, “Hey, you look strong and manly, carry that box over to Ryeowook’s lab, won’t you?”
Siwon did as he was told, but spent the entire way walking backwards in an effort to track Heechul’s movements, his interactions with Han Geng. Siwon nearly ran over Ryeowook in the process, and after gesturing his apology enough to have Ryeowook nearly shove him back to the compound to get him to leave, Siwon realized he had lost Heechul somewhere.
But not Han Geng, who was still getting boxes out of the back of the jeep. Siwon breathed a sigh of relief, and went to go join him.
“Heechul went to go visit Kyuhyun,” explained Han Geng. “He said we could take care of the rest of the shipments.” There was some level of annoyance in Han Geng’s voice, and Siwon didn’t blame him.
Between the two of them, the jeep managed to get unloaded quickly, and by the time Heechul had emerged, his welcome well worn out, they had gone back to their jobs.
Siwon was surprised, honestly, that Han Geng hadn’t followed Heechul into Kyuhyun’s tent after they had finished, but had instead insisted on staying with Siwon “to make sure he actually did his work.”
Siwon didn’t mind, either.
“Yah, you’re Siwon, right?” He had enough control to not jump two feet in the air in surprise at the voice suddenly in his ear, but it was a close call.
Heechul was already taking a seat in the folding chair next to him when Siwon calmed his heartbeat down enough to answer him. “Yes, Choi Siwon, it’s very nice to meet you.” Siwon offered Heechul a hand, and received a firm shake in response. For all of Heechul’s feminine looks, he was hardly a girl.
“Hankyung picked a handsome one this time, huh?” Heechul leaned onto the table, resting his chin on a hand as he drank in Siwon.
Siwon, for one, found it just a bit creepy to be checked out so blatantly and obviously in front of other people. Especially when he considered that Han Geng was watching the entire thing transpire.
“Well, if Hankyung hasn’t staked a claim in you yet, how about you and I—”
The same gave a grin over Siwon’s shoulder to his so-called best friend. Heechul stood and made his way over to Han Geng, wrapping his arms around him from behind. “Just trying to make you jealous, you know that.” Siwon watched as Heechul stood on his tiptoes to purr in Hankyung’s ear—just loud enough for Siwon to still hear, which he was certain Heechul did on purpose. “I talked to Kyuhyun.”
The rose colour that spread across Han Geng’s cheeks was unmistakable, and Siwon’s head was left spinning as he tried to come up with reasons for it. Han Geng had confided in Kyuhyun that he had a crush on Heechul? Was Kyuhyun a petty enough person to actually tell Heechul that? He didn’t seem so. Maybe Han Geng had confided in Kyuhyun that he had a crush on someone else? No, that wouldn’t be possible.
Whatever it was, Siwon was saved from his own mind by Heechul returning to his seat and speaking up again. “The bossman wants to know when he’s going to have the vocal communication reports on your elephant herds. Sounded pretty impatient to me. He’s excited to present this one.”
Siwon winced. This was the experiment that Han Geng had been working with the rest of the team on designing for the past few days. He’d only even received word that the company wanted this data right after Siwon had arrived.
“When I have it designed, set up the equipment, gather the data, interpret the data, write the report… Heechul, you have to tell him that we’re doing the best we can with the work he wants from us.” The desperation in Han Geng’s voice was clear.
“I know. He’s also got you on the hormone project and the gestures project, too, huh? It just means he thinks highly of you.”
This was the first time Siwon had heard anything about there being someone higher than Han Geng calling the shots. He knew they were working for some branch of a research company affiliated with his university, but that had been the extent of his knowledge. It seemed there was a lot more going on than he had known about it.
“We’ll get all of the research done before the summer is over—once we’re back in Seoul, we can write the reports. He’ll have them then.”
“Better get started on your last one, shouldn’t you? Summer’s coming to an end soon enough.” Siwon didn’t want to be reminded. Of course when he was hired, it had been on a probation period—if he proved himself capable here in the field, then he could continue working for the research company when they returned to Seoul after the end of summer. He dreaded the thought.
Heechul continued speaking. “I could probably help you out. I am a genius, after all.”
Han Geng glanced at Siwon, as if to say ask if this was really a good idea. Siwon shrugged in response. Han Geng knew Heechul better than he did, but just from this brief encounter, Siwon wasn’t sure Heechul was the brightest bulb in the box. He didn’t know what this man could come up with to solve whatever Han Geng hadn’t been able to think up.
Han Geng sighed, and started explaining. Heechul only had to think for a moment, before slapping his hand on the table in front of him with a grin.
Heechul really was a genius. A strange, hormone-filled genius, but a genius nonetheless. Or, he thought with some level of self-deprivation, he and Han Geng had spent too much time out in the sun, and not enough thinking about what they actually needed to get done.
“Plus, that way, when you go out to check the film, you might be able to catch your poachers.”
Han Geng’s head met Siwon’s shoulder, and he let out a bitter laugh. “The trees… Siwon, why didn’t we think of that?”
Heechul smirked. “Too busy thinking about someone—I mean something else?”
Han Geng’s eyes narrowed. “Isn’t it about time you left to go back to town? It’s a long drive.”
Heechul took the hint, standing with a laugh. “You just want me out of your hair.”
“We really are thankful for your help. And for your delivery,” Siwon stepped in, politely, finally finding the right place to speak. If it sounded like he, too, was trying to get Heechul out of the camp, it wasn’t intentional. He was jealous, yes, but not spiteful. That wasn’t in his nature. And he felt less threatened now, having seen the two interact more. There was no doubt that Han Geng and Heechul were close, but the way Han Geng seemed to stick to Siwon’s side through the visit—and maybe this was arrogant thinking—eased his mind.
He followed as Han Geng led Heechul back to his jeep, despite Heechul’s protest that he wanted to see everyone at least one more time before he left. “You’ll be back soon enough anyway, won’t you?” was Han Geng’s counter-argument. “Whether we want you on not,” Siwon heard him mumble under his breath afterwards in Mandarin.
“Someone’s got to keep an eye on you. Make sure things are moving along here,” Heechul replied, leaning his back against the jeep. “Speaking of, you guys been using that bunker we had built for you? I remember you were throwing a fit to get that thing put in place last summer. Why don’t you want to use that for camera base for your communications experiment?”
Siwon nearly laughed at the mental image of the usually calm and collected Han Geng “throwing a fit.” He doubted Heechul’s words, but it was a funny thought. But it was something Siwon wondered about, too. Han Geng had taken him there on the first night, and never again. In fact, Siwon had yet to see anyone else go out there. It was a perfect data collecting point, and a safe place to keep a camera. It would have been perfect for the communications experiment and it wasn’t being used. He turned to Han Geng, waiting for his answer.
The Chinese man had visibly stiffened with the subject was brought up. “To go out there during the day… Heechul, it’s too dangerous. Kyuhyun, he—”
So that’s what it was, thought Siwon. He was worried about their safety.
“Han Geng.” Siwon took his chance to step in. “What happened to Kyuhyun wasn’t anyone’s fault, you said so yourself. It was just bad luck.”
“So there is no use blaming yourself. Or not doing your job because of it,” Heechul added, and Siwon noticed the change in his tone. Where before he had been harsher, this was gentle. Convincing. As if he was worried about how Han Geng had been handling this, and unable to say anything about it.
“It doesn’t look like it’s too dangerous out there now,” came a voice from behind them. Zhou Mi. Heechul let out an excited “Seasoning!” as greeting, and Siwon thought it was one of the strangest nicknames he had ever heard.
“You could probably take a camera out there now, and at least get it set up. And get some up close observations while you’re at it,” continued Zhou Mi, tapping at his clipboard.
“Take Siwon with you,” added Heechul. Zhou Mi sent him what looked to be a pleased look. Heechul just looked like he was plotting something.
“Right, take Siwon with you. That way, you aren’t alone, the work gets done quicker, so you can come back faster, he gets more experience…” Siwon could feel Zhou Mi and Heechul’s eyes on him, and he could almost here the unspoken sentiment from the tall Chinese man. The two of you could talk…
Siwon cleared his throat. “Actually, uh, Han Geng, I don’t think that’s such a bad idea.” Han Geng needed to prove to himself that he could go out there long enough to get something done, even Siwon saw that.
Han Geng gave a defeated, “you guys are all plotting against me”-esque sigh, but he conceded. “I’ll go get the stuff.”
“Fantastic!” cried Heechul, and he threw himself forward, pressing his lips proudly to Han Geng’s.
Siwon felt everything around him grow cold, despite the hot African sun burning down on them from above.
The silence was unmistakable as they made the trek towards the bunker.
Siwon couldn’t even enjoy the feel of being on the field, so close to the watering hole and its inhabitants, as the tension between himself and Han Geng grew.
He wasn’t angry. Or at least, he didn’t think so. He didn’t know what he was. Disappointed? Maybe. Han Geng hadn’t asked Heechul to kiss him, that much Siwon knew, but he had also made no effort to throw him off, push him away, or to just say no.
And though Han Geng had sent a smirking Heechul off with a stone-faced wave, neither had made any effort to apologize or explain their actions.
That was probably part of the shock and the endless assault of questions: why had Heechul been pushing Siwon and Han Geng to go out here alone? And why had Han Geng insisted that nothing was going on between himself and Heechul? Which led Siwon to the last question… was there anything going on between Han Geng and Heechul? Was it just a kiss? Was there something more?
Maybe being alone out here with Han Geng was what he needed. He could get the answers to some of these questions.
If he could only find the courage to ask him.
“Tell me everything you know about the new guy,” Heechul had asked him after throwing himself into the tent and making himself at home on Han Geng’s empty cot.
Kyuhyun had cocked an eyebrow and turned a page in his novel.
He had given in, eventually, more so to shut Heechul up than anything. It was only after Heechul was satisfied that he had bothered to ask after Kyuhyun’s condition—sore, but healing, thanks for asking—and how things were going with Zhou Mi.
“Oh for Christ’s sake—is the only reason you come here to play around with everyone’s love lives?”
He only realized that he had completely given himself away after Heechul had let out a pleased noise, followed by a “You’re making progress with yourself!”
It was the first time he had ever even acknowledged out loud that he had some form of a love life that involved Zhou Mi. He wanted to bury his head in his pillows forever after the fact, and he probably could have, too, under the excuse of pain, but Heechul just reached over and pet his head like he was talking to a small child.
“Admitting it aloud is just another step forward.”
Heechul had left him, declaring his work there to be done, and that now he had to go knock some sense Kyuhyun’s “other romantically retarded teammates.”
Left alone, Kyuhyun had more time to think about his situation. He had nothing but time, honestly; being stuck in bed left him with little else other than his thoughts.
There was no way he liked Zhou Mi. Not like that, anyway, not in the way that mattered. The rush of emotion that came with every time he saw the other could be past off logically as just having missed him—and the amount of time he spent thinking about him while he had been in the hospital was surely yet another result of boredom.
There was an explanation for everything.
Except for the part of him that was screaming at him not to be an idiot. That not everything in life that he didn’t know how to face could be passed off with science or logic. That maybe if he stopped trying to convince himself that there was nothing other than friendship between himself and Zhou Mi, he might actually find a happiness in life that he was sure didn’t exist.
Kyuhyun was left groaning in frustration (and maybe just a little bit in pain) as he closed his eyes to think: what should he do next?