They’re in the middle of shooting when Shaotian feels the lips on the side of his neck.
“C-captain?” he says, nearly screeching if not for the extremely quiet studio. He would normally go insane at the lack of any kind of noise, but he has been on his best behavior so far today.
“Stay still,” Yu Wenzhou admonishes, dangerously close to his scent glands, and the cameras go off several times while Shaotian struggles to maintain a straight face. He’s absolutely sure he’s blushing, regardless.
“Perfect - just an extra spot of fanservice, huh?” the photographer says, and Yu Wenzhou winks - winks! - before he slides his lips off Shaotian’s neck and puts down the bottle of Gatorade on the table. Shaotian puts his own down too, before they’re dragged into makeup again, with Shaotian’s stylist insisting on touching up his lipgloss and hair.
“Just a bit more tousled,” she coos at him. “You’ll look perfect.”
Shaotian doesn’t feel perfect. He feels mildly like a showpiece, and he doesn’t like it.
“Captain,” he says, grabbing his arm as soon as he’s done with makeup. He’s sure the blush hasn’t faded from before. “Can we -”
“I won’t do that again if you don’t like it,” Yu Wenzhou says immediately. He looks half-conflicted. “Shaotian, your comfort is key here - we don’t even need to do this advertisement at all.”
“No, just -” Shaotian pauses, trying to parse his statement so it doesn’t sound needy. “It’s nicer if you hold me in one spot for our do-over, otherwise I uh, get really paranoid about my neck? I might start shaking - it scares me.”
“Shaotian…” Yu Wenzhou sounds almost exasperated now. “Why didn’t you tell me immediately?”
“You told me to keep still,” he mumbles, conscious of more eyes on them again. This isn’t like him - his skin is crawling a little, at the curious gazes on their whispered conversation.
“Look at me, please,” his captain says, and Shaotian rarely ever tells him no. He keeps eye contact this time, and Yu Wenzhou’s hand moves up to cup a single cheek, thumb brushing over his cheekbone. “I was wrong. If you ever feel uncomfortable with anything I do, please tell me to stop right away.”
“I… I wasn’t,” Shaotian says. Thinks of the way heat had pooled low in his gut at that simple touch. “It was just…”
Shaotian nods. “I’m not experienced enough to handle that kind of thing.” A simple admission, but something flares in Yu Wenzhou’s eyes when he says it, oddly reminiscent of that carnal hunger Shaotian remembers from a year ago.
“We can,” Yu Wenzhou stops, and breaks eye contact just for a second, before he looks back up. His hand doesn’t leave his cheek. “We can learn together, it’s fine.”
Yu Wenzhou, please consider how differently your words can be taken!! Please watch your phrasing!!! Shaotian yells internally. Out loud, he just lets out an awkward, half-cough followed by laughter. “C-Captain, I think we should stop before someone gets the wrong idea, half the studio is um, looking at us.”
“Let them,” Yu Wenzhou says, completely unaffected, as if even a hint of a rumour of him actually being involved with a teammate isn’t going to affect all his romantic prospects in the future. Really, this man doesn’t think at all!! “We should get back to filming.”
“Yeah, let’s do that,” Shaotian says hurriedly, walking back to the spotlights without a word or a look back, embarrassment evident in his words and speech. Yu Wenzhou is better at it this time - catching hold of his waist before pulling him closer, both of them repeating the tagline at the exact right moment as the video camera rolls.
“Talk about something when you lean in,” the director says, “I don’t care if you’re repeating vegetable names in Spanish, it just looks more organic.”
Shaotian stiffens just barely when lips brush his neck again, but apparently it’s the right reaction because praises follow immediately. He almost misses the words that Yu Wenzhou whispers against his jawline, just next to his ears.
“Hey, Shaotian,” he says, voice pitched so low he’s positive he’s the only one who hears it. “Meet my parents with me for All Stars weekend?”
Shaotian can say no. He knows this, technically, but he’s also disgustingly love-addled after fifteen minutes straight of Yu Wenzhou holding him by the waist like the fucking virgin sap he is, he thinks with great disgust.
“Sure,” he whispers back, and the director yells cut and the torturous video session is over. Shaotian feels like his wrists need more exercise, after the numerous times he’s had to throw full bottles of Gatorade today. They lean over to see the final results, and get drowned in effusive compliments at their dynamics, which looks really sexy from an outsider’s point of view. Even if he does say so himself.
Which he does, looking at the slow lean of Yu Wenzhou into his neck before the screen fades out to them bickering. Shaotian swallows, hyper-aware of his captain monitoring the video right next to him, radiating smugness.
“Your chemistry is truly off the charts. Incredibly sexy, but you kept it PG-13!” the director says enthusiastically. “I’m sure this advertisement will do well.”
Their manager is going to have a fit, Shaotian thinks faintly.
Their manager calmly asks for signed copies of the magazine the ad is featured in, and Shaotian decides that Yu Wenzhou is God because he would have never gotten away with that sort of sleazy ad alone. His parents don’t ask him about it despite the fact that it’s definitely running on national television (they ask him rarely anything, so that’s not a surprise), so he decides to count his blessings instead of look too much into fan reactions (there were definitely more than fifty fics, the last time he counted.)
The group chat sends him a bottle of lube via online delivery that he promptly throws away (into his closet). Life goes on.
Huang Shaotian is not jealous.
He has no reason to be jealous in the least.
He is totally and completely not watching Yu Wenzhou lean over, all hard lines veering into a sharp face and soft lips, to talk to his mother on the phone about a marriage meeting.
He is not studying the way his captain’s face slowly morphs to reveal a smile, eyes crinkling at the edges behind his glasses, as he says - “Yes, mother, of course I have marriage on the cards. Introductions are due soon. I promise.” And he is not watching the way the muscles in his forearm flex as he hangs up and stuffed the phone into his pocket, and finally meets his eyes.
“Shaotian? Is something wrong?” Yu Wenzhou says, eyes slowly shifting into something that Shaotian knows, instinctively, is a concerned look.
“Nothing,” he mumbles hurriedly, turning back to face the screen in his revolving chair. It’s too dangerous to dwell on this while Yu Wenzhou is around - the one person who can read him too well. It’s a miracle that he’s kept this hidden so well so far, anyway.
Yu Wenzhou frowns and takes a step forward, before he’s accosted by three people at the same time asking eagerly about his scheduled marriage meeting. Shaotian puts his headphones back on, tapping back into his training exercises, and gritting his teeth when he hears Yu Wenzhou get teased about the call. The happiness in his tone as he talks about it makes Shaotian want to break his mouse.
It doesn’t matter. Huang Shaotian is not creeping on his Alpha captain.
Huang Shaotian is doing a very fine job not creeping on his Alpha captain. He has not asked around about his Omega at all, and he does not appreciate the hushed whispers in the room whenever his captain isn’t there, so he’s banned all of them from talking during training. Unfortunately, this means he has no other way of obtaining information - and that is, if Yu Wenzhou had said anything at all.
For his part, his captain seems to be completely ignoring the bombshell he inadvertently dropped this morning, and even encouraged the talking ban. Shaotian has felt his eyes on him more than once before he shrugged off his concern, and Yu Wenzhou had eventually dropped the subject.
He can’t avoid the reality forever, however - because today is Friday and it’s a movie night, and Shaotian has not missed a single movie night since they started their tradition last year unless they had a match (which meant it would just get postponed to another night). Shaotian thinks it’s rather like Ye Qiu’s consistent arena fights with Han Wenqing on their alts every other week (which they’re all forced to pretend they don’t know anything about, because that meant they’d shift to new alts and become even more of a bitch to find). It’s… probably less platonic, though.
Or, well, he can dream.
“Shaotian,” Yu Wenzhou says, and pushes a brochure in front of him while he’s reviewing the stats from last match with Hundred Blossoms on his iPad. Shaotian blinks at it - it’s pictures of high rise complexes - and looks up to where Yu Wenzhou is seated next to him on the bed, doing something with intense concentration on his laptop.
“Captain?” he asks, before his sight zooms in on the web page left open on the browser. “You’re looking at apartments?”
“Yes. Well, moving out isn’t possible yet, what with our limited facilities, but I believe if we grab a top 4 spot both our endorsements and salaries should go up, so we can easily spare the rent after the first - admittedly large - installment.” Shaotian gapes at him as he shifts tabs, zooming in on a document with several links he’s marked, complete with photos.
“Captain, why are you - what are you - are you planning on moving out?” Shaotian’s mouth moves faster than he can think, not for the first time in his life. “Alone? Don’t do that, half of these look way too far from our building, how are we supposed to contact you if we run into trouble? How is the guild going to contact you if they run into trouble? No, no, cross out Liebing Avenue from that list, absolutely not, definitely not this either, it’s not even within biking distance! We can’t always count on cars, what if yours breaks down?”
“I wasn’t… going to do it alone, of course,” Yu Wenzhou says, blinking a little. He removes the offending links, much to Shaotian’s relief. “I just think it would be nice to have a little privacy in the coming year, especially since our teammates do bother us for the most obnoxious reasons.”
“Not… alone?” Shaotian doesn’t know what kind of face he’s making at the moment, so he looks down quickly. “I - I mean I heard you, but - isn’t it too soon?”
The quiet tone surprises him. He looks up to see Yu Wenzhou’s dark eyes turn contemplative. “I thought… is it really so bad?”
Shaotian gulps. “I - I don’t know? I mean, it’s nice here, isn’t it?” Think, Shaotian, think! “Plus, imagine how much the team would complain about being, um,” he forces out the words - “single… dogs.”
Don’t make him think about his mate, don’t make him think about them -!
“I suppose,” Yu Wenzhou says, half to himself, and then a smile crosses his face. He turns back to his laptop, and crosses out the links. “There’s time.”
“There is?” Shaotian asks, despite himself.
“Mhm,” his captain says, tapping away contentedly. One hand reaches out to steady Shaotian next to him when he leans in, and shifts the page to Netflix. Oh, so he’s in that kind of mood. “After all, I still haven’t won that championship trophy, yet.”
Shaotian gapes at him, but then Frozen’s first soundtrack starts playing, and he doesn’t bring it up again.
Somehow it’s too bizarre asking for information on his eventual stupid mystery Omega in front of Anna’s monologue about her sister.
PRIVATE CHAT: [PetalDance], [Iceicebaby]
Iceicebaby: are you coming to All-Stars
PetalDance: bold of you to assume I have a choice.
Iceicebaby: I need advice
PetalDance: I am no expert in dick sucking
Iceicebaby: ok u know what fuck u
Iceicebaby: bring mucheng too
The best thing about Ye Qiu, Shaotian thinks, is that he's always judging people, so it's not particularly embarrassing to unload on him. Especially when the fucker is constantly eyeing Yu Wenzhou anyway. He might as well kill two birds with one stone.
Ugh, he's getting carried away again - Ye Qiu does nothing of the sort, it’s just him being paranoid. There's no point. It's why he's here instead of with Yu Wenzhou in the first place.
Here being the seedier part of the city, riddled with the occasional bar and love hotels. Ye Qiu had raised a singular eyebrow to look at him when he asked to come here, but mercifully made no comments. They’re currently ensconced in a private booth that’s a tiny bit away from the main bar - him, Ye Qiu and Su Mucheng - who had been all too delighted in agreeing to come along when Ye Qiu had asked her. She looks unruffled, even if her forest green dress is a bit ostentatious - she has her hair in a half updo and hidden under her beret, and she hadn't taken off her scarf that covered half her face before they entered the booth. Shaotian is dressed much the same, substituting the beret for a bucket hat.
This is Ye Qiu’s idea, something he had suggested the moment he had asked to go drinking. The more obvious you look, the less people will notice, he’d said. Shaotian doesn’t believe that, mostly because he knows his own fame. Out of all of them, Mucheng and Shaotian are in the greatest danger of getting spotted. The lecture he might potentially get if his manager finds out gives him a headache to think about.
Fortunately, he’s planning on getting drunk enough that he doesn’t care.
The bouncer hadn’t blinked after they had given out their IDs, showing that he was either completely unacquainted with the Glory scene or just cared very less, considering that there were matches taking place in the same city. They would run into these people occasionally, and Shaotian is grateful for once.
His turbulent thoughts don’t give him a break, though. Even two drinks into the conversation, when he decides to finally break the silence, he has no idea how to broach the topic.
He tries anyway.
“There’s just a lot of pressure on us to be filial sons, you know?” Shaotian says. He leans back in his chair, slowly looking up.
“I don't,” Ye Qiu points out helpfully, like the asshole he is. “I made sure my parents don’t care.”
“Yeah, but you’re an asshole,” he shoots back. Mucheng makes a noise to show she concurs, bless her, and Ye Qiu shoots her a look of absolute betrayal.
“I’m assuming there’s a point to this,” he says, sounding almost aggrieved, although Shaotian is certain he’s being facetious. His stained glass eyes glint in the low lighting, the jazz music that flows in the background. He leans back like a long pleased cat, watching closely as Shaotian tops off his glass.
“Not really,” he says. Squints at the strobe lighting that hits his eyes every five seconds, and moves into a corner. Mucheng is still watching the both of them, having decided to be the token sober friend.
“If he gets drunk, it’s on you,” she tells Shaotian, leaning into Ye Qiu.
“It’s just soda, Mucheng,” Ye Qiu says, rolling his eyes.
Shaotian wonders about them, sometimes. It’s common knowledge in the Pro Alliance among the Golden Generation, at least, that they're not actually dating, even though media outlets like to treat them like they are. Him being in the private chat has confirmed that. Neither Ye Qiu or Su Mucheng actually ever clarify what's up with their closeness, though, and since they’re not siblings by blood (no way do siblings look that different) the rumors persist.
Shaotian remembers Yu Wenzhou's observation at the Season 4 finals last year, when Excellent Era had lost for the first time, eyes narrowing. “It’s obvious, isn't it? He treats her like a sister, but - more familial.”
A child, then? It wasn’t unusual for an Omega to unofficially adopt younger people around them when they were childless themselves, especially as they got on in age. It’s funny to think about Ye Qiu doing the same, for some reason. He’s very put-together, even though Shaotian has officially seen him at his very worst, trash-talking everyone in the game. Perhaps that's more of a reason - even in the present day, people expect the average Omega to be stereotypically nurturing and meek at the same time.
They disregard, somehow, that the best mothers are tigresses.
Then again, neither of them fit into the perfect omega molds. It's why he’s here instead of meeting Yu Wenzhou’s mother to discuss a marriage alliance. He hadn’t even realized normal people did that anymore?
He’s definitely going to start talking about this out loud now. He downs another shot, and leans back in his chair. Might as well.
“Yu Wenzhou’s getting married,” he says flatly.
Unfortunately for both of them, him and Ye Qiu are face to face, so when the man spits out his soda he gets the full force of it. Fortunately for him, Su Mucheng flashes out her hand to hold a tissue in front of him, so he doesn't get entirely soaked. There’s something to be said about the hand speed of the Glory pros.
“Wow, um,” Ye Qiu coughs, when he finishes wiping himself down. “Congratulations? When are you having his babies?”
“Dude, what. No.” Shaotian squints at him. “Why the fuck would I do that? I'm not the one getting married.”
Ye Qiu blinks once, and looks down at his shirt. He blinks again rapidly, and pinches himself. He then leans over to pinch Shaotian's cheeks.
“Ouch - hey! What the fuck!”
“Oh, so it’s real. The nightmare is real. Mucheng, we’re actually sitting here, aren't we?”
“Yep,” Mucheng confirms from the side, munching on her chicken wing. Her eyes are lazy and extremely amused.
Ye Qiu turns back to Shaotian, a deep well of disappointment in his eyes. “Huang Shaotian, a marriage… unfortunately… involves two people.”
Shaotian nearly overturns his glass on him. He settles for glaring, and a kick under the table.
“Oh, fantastic, I had no idea,” he says sarcastically. “It’s not like I pulled you away from Glory because I was fucking miserable about it.”
Ye Qiu actually seems to ponder this for a second, tipping back his own glass, and then settling it down. He leans over and stared Shaotian dead in the eyes.
“Bro… it is my pleasure to inform you that your captain is in love with you.”
“Um, no , no he isn’t , or he would’ve told me.” He knows he sounds resentful now, but he can’t help it. “It’s been years, okay? I wouldn’t have even brought it up otherwise - and I thought we were finally getting somewhere…” He trails off, and looks into his glass.
Why had he expected anything at all? Maybe it was the thrill of that first win, the time he -
“Are you sure he hasn’t?” Mucheng says, and he looks at her for a change. Her amused expression has changed into a serious one. “I was truly under the impression that he had, because we -”
“No,” Shaotian stresses. “Look, if he had, I’d remember, okay? I’m not a fucking airhead.”
“We know, we know.” Ye Qiu bats his hands at him. “So why don’t you like… ask him instead? It’s not exactly unprecedented, and you’re not a stickler for tradition.”
“I was going to, okay, except now he’s talking to his mother over a marriage meeting! Who even does that nowadays?”
Ye Qiu shares a glance with Mucheng, who tilts her head thoughtfully.
“Maybe those super old Alpha/Omega traditional families?” she suggests, flipping back her hair. “I know for a fact Chu Yunxiu belongs to one, it’s why she constantly makes fun of the trope when it’s used in dramas. She’s not exactly a rich second-generation though, so they could be even worse.”
“Che, Captain’s not a rich second-generation,” Shaotian says, and then pauses. “Wait, I actually have no clue if he is, but I’m pretty sure he isn’t. It just doesn’t sound like his character type.”
“Please, god no, stop talking about your terrible stereotyped dramas,” Ye Qiu groans. “Do you even have a plan for this?”
“I don’t. I’m going to be miserable and alone and die an old crone with two cats who will be mated just to spite me.” Shaotian collapses back again, this time in abject misery. “Oh, and my fucking heat is coming up soon, on top of everything, and I was really going to ask him…”
“That sounds… quite a bit more serious than dating,” Mucheng ventures. “Are you sure he hadn’t even… made any overtures, that could have encouraged you?”
Shaotian shrugs. “None that I can think of, but I was going to ask him as a friend anyway… and see if we were compatible, and where to go from there. Ah, but it doesn’t matter.” He tips back the rest of his glass. “Now that we’re here anyway, we should go get stocked up. Mucheng, you too.”
“Stocked up? On what?” Mucheng says, suddenly looking quite interested, while Ye Qiu’s face has shifted to something wary.
“Well, there’s a sex toy shop in here,” he points out.
“Absolutely not,” Ye Qiu says, turning to Mucheng. “Are you two nuts? What if you both get caught walking out of here and into a sex shop? The gossip mill would run wild for days.”
“Who says it’s just gonna be the two of us going?” Mucheng shoots back, and Ye Qiu turns an interesting shade of faint pink.
“Mucheng, no,” he protests. “I don’t even have my card with me, and you know I don’t need them, I’m on heat suppressants -”
“You’re on what now?” Shaotian says, and blinks. “Wait, how long have you been on suppressants?”
“Five years,” Ye Qiu says, dropping the bomb like he’s announcing the morning mail.
Shaotian is speechless. Even with the alcohol in his system he can’t summon up any coherence.
“Five years? You’ve been on suppressants for five years? Ye Qiu, what the fuck?” he hisses, grabbing his arm and shaking it. Ye Qiu, to his credit, looks absolutely unruffled. “What for? Did your Alpha die, or something?”
Ye Qiu stiffens. “Shaotian, you’re crossing a line.”
Too close to the truth, then, Shaotian thinks, wincing. “Whatever, not my business, sorry - but what? You’re going to kill yourself at this rate, no wonder you look older every time I see you, I thought it was just all that fucking smoke-”
“Please for the love of - drop it. I’ll go get toys with you, even.”
“Oh, the forums will never shut up about this,” Su Mucheng says with great glee. “Come on, let’s ditch this place. We can talk while on the way!”
Shaotian feels a sense of foreboding he hasn’t felt often. “Wait, you can skip, I’ll go on my own -”
“Nope,” Su Mucheng says. “We’re coming!”
[GLORY FORUM POST #78995: Top Ten Most Bizarre Celebrity Paparazzi Pictures - Glory Edition] - by Truly Blazing (BattleMage)
#5: Huang Shaotian, Su Mucheng and random dude with them in a fucking sex toy shop
- I still don’t know who took this because no one claimed credit and I swear if I find you I will kiss your hand. There is just so much to parse here. The immense confusion in HD on Huang Shaotian’s face. Su Mucheng holding up what looks like half a tentacle but is actually a set of anal beads and the other dude in the facemask holding the rest like it’s a fucking Christmas festoon and they’re gonna hang it on their tree. The fact that Huang Shaotian’s holding what looks like a fucking gallon of lube if it was ported in one of those huge water filter containers with both his hands. The smiling woman at the counter with the DICKY BIRD nameplate in the background. I’m fucking crying.
Pure Blue Icing (Spellblade)
[+189, -6] Sometimes I’m concerned that this is one of the purest photos on this list given the context, but I will be blissfully happy never finding out what was going on in here to preserve the sheer hilarity of this image.