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my baby brings heat like a mama does

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The first time Shaotian gets wet, he’s fifteen and in the middle of a training session.

He already knows adrenaline spikes get him running faster, get him aroused, just a little - but even though he has hit puberty, the subtle mark of an Omega on the back of his neck, hidden by his grown-out hair, right over his scent glands, he hasn’t experienced actual full-fledged arousal.

Shaotian is incapable of sitting still and noticing things that are happening to him on a good day, so it’s not really a surprise that he doesn’t notice it in the middle of the game - breath catching when the dead-last rookie’s Warlock moves into formation and brings their captain’s Swoksaar to a disadvantage for the second time, when Shaotian couldn’t even once throughout his session. Throughout the game, Yu Wenzhou does not move a muscle except for what’s necessary, his hand speed so ridiculously slow that Shaotian would scoff - again, for the fiftieth time this month, except.

Except Swoksaar is getting annihilated.

Shaotian watches in absolute disbelief as the Warlock goes down - Swoksaar , not the dead-last’s. There’s a pin-drop silence after the second round, and Yu Wenzhou looks as serene as ever, like he’s been eating chips throughout.

What the fuck? Their captain’s APM exceeds his by several hundred. This isn’t possible.

This isn’t supposed to be possible.

The third round, their captain promises, he’s going to be serious. Shaotian doesn’t cheer. He can tell - Wei Chen wasn’t holding back the second time either. No, this is unprecedented, this is -

He thinks of Yu Wenzhou telling him, earlier - it all depends on strategy.

Him and his little fucking notes. He wasn’t kidding, was he? How else is this possible?

Shaotian can tell Wei Chen is going to lose, even before anyone else among the rookies can. He can tell chaos is about to break out right afterwards - and boy, won’t Yu Wenzhou like that? Rubbing it in his face that he’s better than the dead-last he’s always called him?

His face twists at the thought, before he forces it down. No, more importantly - this means he has to play him again. Demand to play him in earnest - because it is beyond evident that this boy is capable of learning a person’s playstyle with careful study. Shaotian has played him before, but with not much mind to it.

This time he will give the PK everything he has.

He’s at his side right after Yu Wenzhou finishes, unheeding of the captain’s look, or how he exits. Shaotian is single-minded on the best of days, and today is already shaping up to be the best of them.

“Play me right now in the arena,” he demands, slamming his hand on the table. “You’ve been holding back, dead-last.”

“How nice to know at least some opinions never change,” Yu Wenzhou says dryly, and Shaotian’s gaze goes to his dark eyes, like it always does before he reminds himself that he’s not in Blue Rain’s training camp to gawk at boys. “I can’t right now, my hands are tired. Tomorrow, Huang Shaotian.”

And that’s another thing. Yu Wenzhou never calls him by anything other than his name. Shaotian’s heard all kinds of things about himself, that range from borderline offensive nicknames that all reference him being an Omega to the Kill-Stealer to That Absolute Asshat Who Trash Talked Me Into A PK . Right now, he realizes - he’s never heard Yu Wenzhou calls him any of that, not even when Shaotian had taunted him every single arena match, both via chat and headphones.

Why is he here, acting needy to this - this fucking pushover? Who hasn’t been a pushover this whole time?

Shaotian feels it then - the weird, hot sensation that makes him want to curl up into himself. His eyes widen in panic, and then he steps back a little, thinking of the distance between the training room and his dorm. There must be some way, he thinks - some way to make sure that he doesn’t, can’t tell, even as the scent begins to rise from him in slow waves.

It’s almost on cue, like Yu Wenzhou had read the panic on his face. “That’s enough for today, please,” he says politely. “I’m going to go out,” he tells Shaotian, and gets up from his chair. And then, beyond all of Shaotian’s expectations, he leans right into his ear, “PK tomorrow, okay? Be ready,” and then squeezes Shaotian’s hand, before moving away from the crowd, creating a wave of people who follow him, eager to learn his secrets, even as the more resentful part of the crowd stays back, watching him venomously.

Shaotian almost lets out a sigh of relief, before he realizes that Yu Wenzhou rooms with him, and had definitely smelt him - which meant he had just given him a way out of an extremely awkward situation.

***

See, there’s a method to Huang Shaotian’s madness.

The moment he had been told he was sharing with the quiet trainee in glasses he had known that his blood pressure was going to rise at how annoyingly handsome he was… all the time. He had promised himself to not make it an issue, because it was a really fucking bad idea for a career Omega to date a coworker; but Shaotian soon realized that he could, under other circumstances, have blissfully been alone in his room without accidentally catching a look of Yu Wenzhou’s face deep in concentration while buried in some book or the other and giving himself an awkward semi that lasted all the way to lunch.

So, he had started being annoying.

It was little things at first, before it evolved into something terribly awkward. Like today, when he had to run out at the last second after a match. It’s how he’s in this position, head bowed, facing Yu Wenzhou. The other stares at him, with what Shaotian knows is disbelief in his eyes at the sudden apology. He really wants to yell - don't you have any self respect? Why are you surprised? Why are you surprised that an Omega is - after I chased you out -

“I wanted to apologize,” Shaotian says, fidgeting. He doesn’t meet Yu Wenzhou’s eyes.

“What for?” Yu Wenzhou says, and he almost yells at him before he looks up and realizes that the usually inscrutable dead-last - ugh, he’s going to have to stop calling him that - looks genuinely confused. “You did your best. Captain’s just good.”

Holy shit, did he misunderstand what it was for? Shaotian goes over his priority list. There is no way that smell escaped Yu Wenzhou - but what if there is? So...I am safe???

“Not good enough for you?” Shaotian snarks, half as a test.

Yu Wenzhou beams. “What do you think?” and oh. This - this is the smile.

This is the smile when he realizes it, easy as breathing.

“Don’t think this gets you out of our PK!” Shaotian says, but his head is spinning with the implications that hit him all at once.

Oh, oh no. Holy shit, I’m so fucked.

***

Chapter Text

 

Shaotian doesn’t have any Omega friends, and there are very few in the pro scene that he can ask for advice. He turns to the forums first, which is how he spends an hour reading a riveting fanfiction about his own torrid love life, before he decides to practice and not waste his brains on a major character death fic. Then he turns to the Omega pro chat, which is literally never ever active except for the two girls who constantly talk about Han Wenqing’s abs. Which is fair, the guy has great abs, but not exactly the kind of advice he’s looking for.

Then the two get banned from the chat for thirst posting (Shaotian has a suspicion that Ye Qiu just didn’t want to hear anyone wax poetic about his rival’s abs, for fuck's sake - why is he even an admin on there?), just as he was getting desperate, and now his last potential route to advice is more or less cut off. 

It happens, like lightning out of a blue sky.

“Hey, Ye Qiu,” Shaotian says, after Blue Rain brutally loses a battle to him. He catches him outside Excellent Era’s booth, and Ye Qiu’s golden eyes go wide, either from surprise at Shaotian turning up after a loss or at all, snuffing out his cigarette and preparing to leave immediately. Shaotian is indignant. “Hey, hey, hey, don’t leave -”

“We can PK but not in real life,” the older Omega says firmly, his calming scent completely overtaking Shaotian’s senses for a hot second.

Wait, an Omega. What the fuck. Shaotian completely forgets what he was about to say. “You’re an Omega???”

Ye Qiu looks nonplussed, withdrawing his scent until it turns barely manageable. He must be on scent blockers, but really powerful ones, if Shaotian’s taken this long to figure it out. “I should really start trying to control that… This feels like that one Spiderman meme.”

“I didn’t know!” Shaotian goes through all the reasons he wouldn’t, and realizes that he hasn’t asked before. “Wait, is that why you’re in the Omega group chat?? I thought you were just a fucking admin! Does anyone know? Like the press -”

Ye Qiu is currently staring at him like he’s mad. “Of course not. Only the pros know. Why would my status matter to them?”

Shaotian splutters. “Why would -”

Of course it matters! He thinks indignantly. What trainee or wannabe pro Omega wouldn’t idolize an Omega pro player?! How much money had Excellent Era paid off to ensure no one ever found out that the three-time winning team’s captain was an Omega?!

“Eh, I asked them to cut my salary if that was going to be an issue,” Ye Qiu says, and Huang Shaotian realizes he’s asked that out loud.

“But...why would you want them to?” And that was...Shaotian frowns. He knows that older players already have terrible contracts, having heard about his captain’s from other trainees when they were getting into the scene, but with the advent of advertisements, he’s confident that they should all start making more soon.

Ye Qiu doesn’t do any endorsements, however - he rarely appears at all to the pro players, and never in front of the media. Even his interviews are done through QQ.

Shaotian shuts up before he asks any more questions, this one already feeling personal.

“Mm, I never really saw the point in the spotlight,” Ye Qiu says. “I don’t need to be flashy to play Glory, you kids can handle that.” A hand on his hair, ruffling it.

“I’m not a kid!” he asserts, and then backtracks. “So many people would love to know that there’s a champion Omega out there, do you really not want them to know?!”

A flash of longing crosses Ye Qiu’s eyes - Huang Shaotian is observant enough to know when to not pry, but he can’t help these questions.

“Well,” he says lightly. “That’s what you’re here for, aren’t you?”

Huang Shaotian stares. Ye Qiu… is right, but why does this feel like an excuse?!

“Sure,” he says. “I’ll beat you! And then take the trophy right under your nose!”

Ye Qiu pokes him in the forehead. “Win an arena battle against me before you say that, Huang Shaotian.”

And that, bizarrely, is how Shaotian makes his first real Omega friend.

Ye Qiu is awful to talk to, at first. He replies at stupid hours of the day or during boss fights or training sessions, or just sends him shitposts in return whenever he asks to PK. They do arena battles on different accounts at one am and Su Mucheng adds him into the private pro player QQ chat with a few others (including, for some odd reason, Sun Zheping) where they constantly send each other bad reader/player explicit fanfics, and Shaotian realizes it’s not so bad, being an Omega, especially with friends like these.

He’s never… had a friend like this before. It’s natural that he gravitates to him, he thinks, recalling what he’s learned in school. Ye Qiu radiates an odd aura - somewhere between a mentor’s and a mother’s, and while that might be because his blockers throw his scent off, he has a suspicion that would exist even if he wasn’t Omega by status.

“Am I motherly?” Shaotian types out, when Chu Yunxiu, with her incredibly original username (Windyraining? really?) decides to send the most explicit Shaotian/reader fic she’s found yet into the chat.

PetalDance: That’s the oddest question I’ve read so far.

Ye Qiu’s username on here is definitely worse, Shaotian thinks, but he gets points for matching with Su Mucheng.

Iceicebaby: Hey, hey, if I have to read lactation kink one more time, I might as well ask, right?

PetalDance: Status couldn’t matter less. It just means more lube.

Windyraining: Great God, it’s not really that simple…

ChaosBlossom: It really isn’t, that’s like basic high school material

PetalDance: Irrelevant, I never finished high school.

“Shaotian,” Yu Wenzhou says to him over the sound of the pro game highlights they’re watching, an odd look in his eyes from where he is next to him on the couch. “Who are you talking to?”

“Some of the pros,” Shaotian replies, typing back a “WTF? Are you for real?” before he puts his phone away, looking up at him. They’re currently in their shared room, watching the highlights. He would have gotten movie tickets, but Yu Wenzhou thought that it would be more fun this way. Something about organic rest and less stress from trying to hide while still getting things done and strategies planned. Shaotian debates asking him the same thing, before he opens his mouth.

“Yu Wenzhou, do you think I’m motherly?”

“Not enough data, you don’t have children yet.” Yu Wenzhou’s eyes narrow further. “You were asking a chat full of Alphas this?”

“Oh, no. Ew. Half of them can’t keep it in their pants. No, that was just Ye Qiu trash talking. Can you believe he’s never finished high school?”

For a moment he admires Yu Wenzhou’s tenacity. He’d managed to give the all-China college entrance exam and even advance with a scholarship for distance learning. Truly, Blue Rain’s captain is on another level, he gloats.

The odd expression on Yu Wenzhou’s face does not fade, instead twisting into something… else. “That doesn’t really affect his capabilities.”

“No, it doesn’t!” Shaotian agrees. “People really take Omegas for granted, don’t they!”

Yu Wenzhou, placid until now, chokes. “He - you - what?”

“Oh,” Shaotian says, grin wide. “You didn’t know. Why, Captain, do you want me to introduce you?”

“I’ll… pass.” Yu Wenzhou says, getting his composure back with great difficulty. “Besides, he’s not my type.”

“Oh?” This is interesting. Shaotian, for his tenuous crush that had never left, had never thought to ask. “I’d think you would like the chase, captain, don’t people with tactics all have dirty hearts?”

The words are out before he can regret them, but before he bursts into flames, Wenzhou just smiles. “You’re right, but it’s no fun if the prey finds out I’m there.”

Shaotian blinks at him. Yu Wenzhou gets up. “I’ll go get some more snacks,” he says, ignoring the pile next to him. “We’ve run out of durian chips.” He grabs his wallet and makes for the door, and Shaotian doesn’t really process that answer until he feels the wetness that seeps into his shorts, making him squirm on the seat before he stands up in horror.

Not again!

***

Iceicebaby: what do you do when an Alpha keeps making you wet

ChaosBlossom: tell him???

RainDance: … you suck at advice, senior

ChaosBlossom: I’m literally an Alpha

Windyraining: ooh did you find more explicit stuff

PetalDance: suck his dick

RainDance: you first

Windyraining: oh WORM?

Shaotian turns the phone off, and smiles at Yu Wenzhou when he comes in with the durian chips. They both blatantly ignore his change of clothes.

Nothing else changes.

***

See, everyone in Blue Rain knows Shaotian is an Omega.

It’s not something they discuss, naturally. Talking about statuses isn’t exactly taboo, but it’s pointedly embarrassing to be discussing it with a bunch of Alphas and Betas who have their own thirst QQ chats for the hot Omegas in the Alliance. There’s only a few, already, and they’re coveted beyond belief. It makes Shaotian feel mildly violated when they talk about it in his vicinity.

Which is why, of course, no one brings it up to him - and which is exactly why he’s really fucking offended when he finds out he is not brought up in those chats. Like, ever .

“Who told you this?” he barks at Song Xiao, who cowers like the coward he is. “What kind of a reputation do I have? I’m perfectly attractive and beautiful, I’ll let you know, and I’m an excellent catch! I can’t believe you’d disrespect me like that! Song Xiao, PK me right now I’m going to kick your ass right back into the miserable desert you came from -”

“IT’S OUT OF RESPECT,” Song Xiao wails miserably, in Yu Wenzhou’s general direction, oddly enough - but Shaotian is already dragging him away to a computer, where he proceeds to get demolished for the next hour. Yu Wenzhou makes absolutely no move to stop them, because he’s a good captain like that, and instead starts to provide pointers over Song Xiao’s shoulder while Shaotian takes him over a barely-training exercise that no pro should be going through at this age.

So yeah, everyone in Blue Rain knows Shaotian is an Omega. But no one discusses it, because, well - Shaotian has figured out one of the keywords. Respect.

For what? He can’t figure it out, even while looking at a deflated Song Xiao. Yu Wenzhou knows, because he always does, but his serene smile provides absolutely no answers, like it always does.

He asks the chat again.

Iceicebaby: why does no one discuss me in the thirst chats

Windyraining: pretty sure that’s a standing ban after Han Wenqing yelled at everyone this year for disrespecting Omegas in there

ChaosBlossom: yeah everyone was speculating whether it was because a new pro said stuff about an Omega they’d never smelled before @ the last Tyranny vs EE match they went to and… it got real ugly. I never keep up with the politics but I’m still in the chat so I peeped it a bit and it was full of curses.

RainDance: wait really???

Windyraining: yeah! it’s probably about that one Tyranny rookie, you know, Immovable Rock’s new player?

PetalDance: Zhang Xinjie?

ChaosBlossom: … that was fast. You never usually answer.

PetalDance: I make it a point to know my enemies

Windyraining: he’s literally a healer senior what’s with that

RainDance: haha the chicken tastes good today you all should try more chicken

Iceicebaby: CAN WE GO BACK TO THE POINT so do they not find ME attractive

Windyraining: eh it just sounds more like you’re spoken for. Come to think of it, they don’t talk about you either, Ye Qiu.

Iceicebaby: What?

ChaosBlossom: you poor child.

“Yu Wenzhou,” Shaotian demands, turning to him in line. “Why do all the Alphas in the pro chat think I’m spoken for?”

Yu Wenzhou affixes him with a stare of mild non-comprehension before he processes that information. “Oh. Well, you said it yourself the other day, didn’t you?”

“I did? When did I do that?” Shaotian tilts his head to the side. “Why don’t I remember?”

“Well… you did say to the reporters that you don’t have time for love or romance when you’re busy playing Glory?” Yu Wenzhou offers. Shaotian blinks - he can tell the answer is calculated, by the glint in his captain’s eyes, but he doesn’t know how to counteract it. This is the boy who got into Bei-da on his first try, Shaotian’s only hoping to not get swept away by the current, let alone keep his head above the waves.

“I… guess so,” he mumbles and drops his phone back into his coat, staring at the line. Most people here are couples, with the occasional three or four coworkers who have reserved larger tables. “Is it our turn yet?”

Yu Wenzhou nods. “Soon, I think,” he says, and then the maitre-d calls them inside. Yu Wenzhou holds out a hand, precisely at the moment Shaotian takes his own out of his coat, and he smiles back as best as he can, suddenly at a loss for words as he places his hand in his. To everyone else, they must look like close friends at the very least. And at such a posh restaurant - Shaotian has no doubt that this is why it was chosen - no one is likely to recognize them, so they won’t talk about them visiting someplace like this.

Everything Yu Wenzhou says is calculated to the last millisecond - how is Shaotian any different?

I’d like to see him be organic just… just once.

And then admit it, because this is a story for another time.

***

(This is what Shaotian remembers:

Shaotian kisses Yu Wenzhou for the first time after they both make the team.

It’s an impulsive one, borne from one too many alcoholic drinks and the warmth of Yu Wenzhou’s skin so close to his. They’re dancing in the training room - the one that’s been cleaned up after numerous requests for a party. It’s someone’s birthday, he’s sure, but he can’t be sure whose. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that Yu Wenzhou is here, looking at him in awe like he’s something precious, and Huang Shaotian has no clue what to do with even the possibility of reciprocation, with the poorly-concealed hunger in his eyes. Everyone knows Huang Shaotian is an Omega, and this is the first time, he thinks that Yu Wenzhou looks like he knows it too - like he’s visibly affected by it.

“Shaotian,” Yu Wenzhou murmurs, gray eyes insisting, a light in them he’s noticed before only during matches, like Shaotian is one of his beautiful intricate mysteries, and he’s about to strip him open like he always does with those, peel the layers from his rapidly heating skin. “Shaotian, you look -”

Convection, conduction, he thinks, absently, watching how Yu Wenzhou’s distinct adam’s apple bobs under his scrutiny. Seduction.

He hasn’t really put any thought into it, which is probably why he ends up halfway in his lap, smiling helplessly, knowing his feelings are all too clear on his face. “ Captain, ” he sing-songs, and leans in to peck his cheek.

Shaotian almost rears back at the way the skin heats up underneath his lips. Yu Wenzhou is looking at him - only him, now, like Shaotian’s always wanted, and all he can see is a carnal hunger that makes his toes curl.

And then someone raises a toast, and Shaotian slides off his lap, feeling like he’s been electrocuted. He refuses to meet Yu Wenzhou’s scrutiny, and slinks away to the door, while the team puts the music on, his low voice still ringing in his ears, making his knees tremble. It’s gotten easier, over the past few months, to acclimatize himself, but he had been caught off guard again.

He always is when it comes to Yu Wenzhou.

He jerks off in Yu Wenzhou’s bed, unable to sober up, unable to face him. Yu Wenzhou doesn’t come back to the dorm yet, blessedly - they’ll be moving out soon, into better living conditions, and this is the last time, last chance that Shaotian has to defile the place like he always meant to. When he comes he thinks of slow careful fingers fresh off the keyboard probing him open, thinks of warmth in his mouth and inside him and against his heart.

After he comes he’s cold and spent, and barely able to get up and wipe everything off.

Yu Wenzhou doesn’t come back to the dorm all night - Shaotian checks, wide awake - and when he slips in at the crack of dawn there’s no sign of Shaotian’s own scent on him. He’s freshly showered, and looks none the worse for wear.

This is what he remembers: Yu Wenzhou asks if he needs help - for his hangover - and Shaotian picks his stupid glass heart off the floor before he steps on it again.)

***

Chapter Text

Season 4 is a year for disasters.

Sun Zheping gets a hand injury halfway through, which makes him stop texting them altogether. The group chat’s frantic concern makes Zhang Jiale text back on his phone, and reassure them that he’s only taking time to recover. They visit him with flowers in the hospital, and resign themselves to the terrible, terrible fact that he might never play again. His face, Shaotian thinks, is bleak, but bleaker still is the tremble he sees in Zhang Jiale when he offers to wait outside until he finishes speaking to them.

Something is… broken, he thinks, between those two. Something he wasn’t sure they had in the first place, with Zhang Jiale smelling all wrong and tired and weird, anxious Omega off the charts until Ye Qiu uses his own scent to suppress his a little, speaking with him in a low voice while Chu Yunxiu and Su Mucheng chat with Sun Zheping about anything on the outside world, anything that isn’t Glory.

It seems cruel, he thinks, to bring that up now.

Yu Wenzhou envelops him in a comforting side-hug after he comes outside, nodding at the rest, who came together in the same car today. Zhang Jiale is staying - his house is nearby, apparently, and they don’t pry anymore. They all already feel like they’ve seen something they weren’t supposed to see. Even without a Mate collar or a cuff on either of them the feelings in the air, uncertain and unhappy, are all too clear to parse.

“Pro player lives are so fragile,” Yu Wenzhou says. “I hope he recovers. What else is there to even say?”

Chu Yunxiu had said something - something about getting more help, or better doctors. She was denied instantly - Shaotian remembers the look in Zhang Jiale’s eyes when he said it, before he had softened, and admitted there truly was nothing left to do.

What a tragedy. The best berserker in Glory gone - just like that.

“He can always return,” Shaotian says. “Even if it’s not to the pro scene, right? Ingame opportunities are there, I’m sure.”

“It’s not that easy, I think,” Yu Wenzhou says, and they both think for a moment of their old Captain. It makes sense - once one has a taste of the pro scene, is there any reason to leave it behind without any contact?

“If you love Glory enough, it should be possible,” Shaotian insists. He’s cold now, and is glad that Yu Wenzhou’s coat buffets the wind so well now that he’s ensconced in his arms as they try to navigate their way to the Hyundai Palisade parked on the other side of the street.

(He doesn’t want to know how Yu Wenzhou has one of the newest and most expensive SUVs, but it’s not his business what Yu Wenzhou does with his money, since he’s not exactly his mate or something… and besides, it’s a nice car, and the team had yelled in outrage when he said that he was only taking Shaotian to visit someone in it. He’s pretty sure Yu Wenzhou had seen him be smug about it, too.)

“Mm, perhaps determination can get you to unexpected places. If you can stand up to the criticism that follows, either way.” Yu Wenzhou opens the door for him, letting Shaotian get inside before he gets in the driver’s seat himself. He rolls the windows up, and starts the car while Shaotian fiddles with the music player, settling on Yu Wenzhou’s surprisingly vast collection of Korean pop before he picks a song he recognizes. “Perhaps, if you have someone by your side.”

24/7 (I’ll be there) - the girls belt from the speakers, and Shaotian affixes his gaze on the road, and thinks of Zhang Jiale’s pale face. They must have never talked about it - much like Shaotian isn’t now, when he has the opportunity to do so. He wonders if Sun Zheping knows, even now. Will Zhang Jiale tell him? Can he guess?

Is it really worth it?

***

Yu Wenzhou finally stops wearing his prescription glasses during a Tiny Herb match, switching them out for contacts, and they lose their semifinals spot.

It’s not his fault, of course, but netizens and players alike are cruel about this kind of thing. Shaotian sees a bunch of posts and theories about his failing eyesight before he taps out altogether, seething.

“How do you stand it?” he cries, while Yu Wenzhou looks entirely unaffected. They’re back on his bed, but in a different apartment - and this time Yu Wenzhou has piled up pillows now that they can actually afford them on their new salaries. Shaotian still rooms with him because the apartment is spacious enough for two bedrooms, and it’s not like Yu Wenzhou ever brings someone home.

He really doesn’t want to think about that possibility ever happening, but that’s a different matter.

“I don’t read the posts,” Yu Wenzhou says. His eyes are just a little red, not yet used to his contacts. “It’s… harsh, but they’re true that my eyesight is partly the cause of this loss. And whatever they can write, at least it’s me they’re blaming. It’s my responsibility to bear.”

“As an Alpha?” he demands. “Because that’s bullshit.”

Yu Wenzhou actually laughs out loud - something he has literally never seen him do. “No, it’s because I’m the captain. And captains take responsibility, whether they’re fit for it or not. Me being an Alpha adds to the pressure, because then it’s expected, but no one particularly told me that I had to take it on in the first place. It’s just the responsible thing to do.”

“It’s what Ye Qiu would do, too, if he ever lost.” His captain shakes his head. “Although, that would take a certain amount of personal bravery, wouldn’t it? Especially with the prejudice against his status - you’ve seen how badly people have taken to Zhang Jiale’s takeover of Hundred Blossoms - it would be tantamount to career suicide, especially if he came out so late as an Omega.”

Shaotian has. It’s not pretty, the way they talk about Omegas on the forums, but he’s actively tried to avoid those posts altogether. It doesn’t seem right, not while Sun Zheping is still hospitalized. He sends them messages still with his non-injured hand, albeit less than before, and it seems like his energy hasn’t abated - but he can tell the conflict he’s going through must be great along with his personal suffering.

“Well, he hasn’t lost yet,” Shaotian offers. “At least not in a championship final.”

“Don’t jinx it, if you want him to,” Yu Wenzhou reminds him, and Shaotian laughs for the first time that night. Everything said and done Ye Qiu is still the best player in the league, how much can one championship loss make people turn their backs on him? Impossible.

***

And then Ye Qiu loses season four, causing the forums and the ingame war to go batshit levels of insane.

Huang Shaotian is not in the habit of following forums as closely after the last fiasco, but he’s interested enough in this particular thing to keep track. He disappears from QQ, and Mucheng appears in their chat to reassure them that he’s fine, but Shaotian can’t stop feeling the stone-cold pit of anxiety in his stomach at the way people denounce him. The team discusses the match, with a blow-by-blow of what happened leading up to the assassin’s Life Risking Strike and how the teamwork fell apart afterwards, as Shaotian browses through the reactions that range from disbelief to rage, but Yu Wenzhou keeps an eye on him throughout, and afterwards he grabs his hand before he can leave.

“Shaotian,” he says softly, reaching for his phone. Oh, so he’s seen it.  “I don’t mind if you’re upset. Stop looking at those.”

“I’m not,” he insists, dabbling at his eyes. “It’s just…”

Some of those comments are so vitriolic. They don’t even know he’s not a Beta, but he’s seen people treat the fact that he got beaten by a team with an Omega like an insult. They treat the word like a slur .

He doesn’t realize he’s shaking until Yu Wenzhou places his hands on his shoulders, kneeling down to face him on the floor. When did he reach the floor? “Shaotian, look at me. Look, it’s okay. It’s okay to be upset.”

“He… they shouldn’t have said that,” he finds himself saying, blankly. “He’s just doing his best, it’s not his fault the team was too inexperienced to keep up -”

And it’s true, isn’t it? Last season Ye Qiu could still hold his team together - now he had to get used to players who were younger and unsure and perhaps not even as good as a team as they were individually. Shaotian can’t imagine what that’s like.

- He can. Yu Wenzhou has done it before. Why can’t he?

“He’ll be fine,” Shaotian says. Realizes, with some annoyance, that he’s already much more invested in Ye Qiu’s happiness than he should be, considering how irresponsible the older Omega can be about informing his friends that he’s alive. At least they have Su Mucheng for that.

“He’s pulled through worse situations,” Yu Wenzhou agrees. His eyes still stay on Shaotian’s face, until he begins to blush.

“Captain?” he says, an uncertain note creeping into his voice. “What’s… why are you kneeling?”

“You were having a panic attack.” Yu Wenzhou takes one hand off his left shoulder, and Shaotian is glad that doesn’t have an outward reaction to that. All his senses hone in on the person in front of him, the moment he’s bereft of contact. Wanting .

“I’m sorry,” he says. His throat is a little dry.

“Don’t be,” Yu Wenzhou says firmly, finally raising his left hand away from his other shoulder. “I’ll bring you something to eat - wait up in our room, okay?”

The way he says our room makes Shaotian’s blush fiercer, and he really hopes he’s not going to get wet in public for the third time this week. For a moment Yu Wenzhou’s hand hovers, unsteady in the air, and then it lands on his hair, Shaotian inhaling sharply when he ruffles it gently.

“Go,” he says, and Shaotian doesn’t care if it’s an Alpha command or not. Nothing that feels this good can be a problem.

***

PRIVATE CHAT: they did surgery on a grape

ChaosBlossom: wow @ chat name thanks I feel very loved

ChaosBlossom: you all get up to lots of things while I’m in hospital, huh

ChaosBlossom has sent a link to this chat. [GLORY FORUM POST #45662: WHO IS HAN WENQING’S MYSTERY OMEGA?] [PINNED] [#PHOTOS]

Iceicebaby: HUH?

Windyraining: Congratulations @[PetalDance]

RainDance: LMAOOO you got caught huh

RainDance: didn’t I tell you a single facemask and cap wasn’t going to cut it if you ended up going to dinner

PetalDance: I’m hardly concerned Mucheng it’s fine

PetalDance: also why are you quoting tabloids at me you can barely see my face in it anyway

ChaosBlossom: so it was you, huh, senior… can’t believe his coat is that big on you

PetalDance: he offered. was I supposed to say no

Windyraining: a forum post is hardly a tabloid!! PLS, SENIOR, DETAILS

PetalDance: why do you want to know the details of our two hour long discussion on Glory’s latest level expansion over ramen lolol do I have to tell you to not believe everything you read

RainDance: on the brighter side, this means more fics to read

PetalDance: it’ll blow over soon. I’m sure people are more interested in Blue Rain’s upcoming power couple, you know?

Windyraining: ohh boy I was just about to send that next.

Iceicebaby: hold up hold up WHAT is this about you being - wait what

Iceicebaby: WHAT POWER COUPLE

RainDance: [Incense]+1

PetalDance: [Incense]+1

Windyraining: [Incense]+1

Iceicebaby: you’re fucking with me aren’t you.

Windyraining: Huang Shaotian read a goddamn newspaper challenge.

ChaosBlossom: [Incense]+10

***

The papers are calling them a power couple.

Huang Shaotian twitches a little, looking at his copy of the paper with the offending article in it. Granted, it’s hardly a line in the esports section, and not a single feature focused on them alone, but it… it makes him feel weird, seeing it in print.

“ - prospects for Season 5 All Stars include Wang Jiexi, Tiny Herb’s new captain, with his signature Magician style for Vaccaria that has devastated almost every opponent in PVP, currently only matched by Ye Qiu’s One Autumn Leaf’s and Hang Wenqing’s Desert Dust’s viciousness in a head-to-head fight, and Blue Rain’s veritable new power couple with Swoksaar and Troubling Rain, with their combination of slow but explosive and opportunistic but fast tactics. Troubling Rain’s recent upgrades to silver equipment suggest that Huang Shaotian -”

“Please stop reading it out loud,” he beseeches Xu Jingxi, who is doing so with great relish, and Yu Wenzhou eyes him, smirking, and lets him continue. Actually smirking. What a bastard. He doesn’t seem affected at all by this news!

“They’re right, though,” he says lightly. Right about what?! “We’re definitely getting invited to All-Stars, even with all your trash-talking, so you better be ready for any rookie challenges.”

“You love my trash-talking,” Huang Shaotian scoffs.

“It’s an interesting psychological warring tactic,” Yu Wenzhou allows. “I’m not going to ask you to stop.”

There he is with his roundabout manipulations again. Shaotian rolls his eyes. “All the rookie challenges are going to Han Wenqing or Ye Qiu after last season, bet.”

“That shouldn’t stop you from preparing,” he says sweetly, and turns around to the rest, who are still in the middle of morning snacking. “Everyone should be in top condition just in case - we don’t know the kind of rookies that will be there at All-Stars - even sub players are allowed to challenge, so that’s something you all should keep in mind, okay?”

“Captainnn,” Yu Feng grumbles. “Aren’t you going to visit home? Give us a break too!”

“That’s irrelevant.” A flush climbs into Yu Wenzhou’s face, eyes glinting, and Shaotian stares at how unexpected it is. “And I’m not sure I’ll have time.”

“I thought your parents travelled a lot,” Shaotian comments.

“They do - they just want me to come visit them because they’ll be in the city.” Yu Wenzhou puts the paper away. “Shaotian, get back to speed training, please. You all have a set schedule to follow, I’m sure? Or do you want Vaccaria to sweep us in the next round before All-Stars?”

There’s a chorus of groans at their impromptu break being over, but Yu Wenzhou is merciless when it comes to these things. Shaotian doesn’t even get the chance to ask about his parents before he raises an eyebrow in his direction, as if to indicate he should start already.

“Ugh,” Shaotian says, and turns back to his computer, logging back into his training exercises. “Yes, sir.”

He completely misses the way Yu Wenzhou chokes afterwards.

***

And then it’s nearly time for All Stars, before he even realizes it. They draw with Tiny Herb, despite their best preparations, and Wang Jiexi looks like he’s out for blood, winning a 1v3 in the PVP round.

Yu Wenzhou comments on it, when he shakes his hand. “Someone to impress in the crowd, maybe?” he teases. He can get away with it - as friends from before they were even trainees. “Maybe even… a senior?”

“Don’t joke about that,” he says, poking Yu Wenzhou. “Wang Jiexi, do you want to come to dinner with us afterwards?”

Wang Jiexi had stiffened, but he nods. The matter is dropped and they move on to more handshakes before they all retreat to their respective training rooms, and then Yu Wenzhou picks him up to go meet Wang Jiexi at the door to the stadium, long after the crowd has cleared out and the post-match press meetings done.

“I’ve heard a rumour, Jiexi,” Yu Wenzhou says casually - too casually - as they make their way to a nearby ramen place, disguise complete with hats and scarves, Shaotian’s hand in his. “A little bird’s been saying that you have an eye on Glory’s top Omega player. That you’ve been… courting him, traditionally.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Shaotian reprimands, “I would notice if he courted me.” He pauses, and filters the statement. “Wait, no, that’s not me, you’re - WHAT. ARE YOU SERIOUS?”

“Keep your voice down,” Wang Jiexi says flatly, settling his scarf a little lower to speak to them. “And no, that’s speculation.”

“But it’s not baseless, is it?” Yu Wenzhou’s eyes hold an uncomfortable gleam. “You’re going to, despite everything?”

“I’m… not,” Wang Jiexi says again, but this time the flush has climbed up his neck to his face, and it’s very difficult to pass it off as the cold when they’re huddled in so well in their warm clothes and scarves. “It’s really not like that.”

“I don’t know,” Yu Wenzhou says. “It seems exactly like that.” His grip on Shaotian’s hand tightens, and Shaotian gently clasps back with his own fingers. Something about this conversation is definitely bothering his captain. “If there ever was a time to confess, wouldn’t it be now?”

Wang Jiexi purses his lips. “Not all of us can be you, Wenzhou,” he says harshly, but there’s something in his gaze that looks like he’s actually considering it. Shaotian is still reeling.

It’s… strange, how he’s never considered the possibility of someone actually courting an Omega in the eSports scene. Besides maintaining team etiquette, he’s seen plenty of people say the worst kinds of things about Omegas in general. That it’s Ye Qiu is even weirder - what would he even consider as a courting present?

“The championship,” he says out loud automatically, shocked to the core. “You’re planning on winning the championship.”

“Everyone’s planning on winning the championship,” Wang Jiexi says, flush high on his cheeks, but he’s been caught, and Yu Wenzhou’s smile widens in victory.

“Yeah but - who the fuck gives their Omega that as a prize?!” Shaotian can’t wrap his head around it.

Something that tells you I am worthy ,” Yu Wenzhou murmurs, and Shaotian’s gaze snaps back to him. “That is the motto of a courting gift, I believe. It’s a perfectly acceptable present. Wouldn’t you want me to win you the championship?”

Shaotian tries to process that and his brain short circuits, suddenly becoming very aware of the hand that’s wrapped around his own. “That’s - that’s different, even hypothetically,” he tries. “We’re on the same team! Wouldn’t he just resent a strange Alpha stealing the championship?”

“Not… necessarily.” Yu Wenzhou says. This time he looks directly at Wang Jiexi, with an inexplicable concern in his expression. “It’s been known to happen before - there is precedence, but only really in head-to-head battles. This… might not end up being one. Jiexi, I would ask you to reconsider for - obvious reasons - but it seems you are determined.”

Shaotian doesn’t know why Wang Jiexi goes white at the words. Really, Alpha tacticians and their fucking mind games. Even Ye Qiu isn’t this convoluted.

“I dunno,” Shaotian says in response, shrugging. “Maybe it would be easier if you treated this less like an Alpha and Omega thing and more like...a person and person thing. Just saying. Like… courtships don’t always work out for a reason, you know?”

Yu Wenzhou’s smile isn’t kind, he thinks. “Maybe,” he allows. “But in my experience, it’s always best to eliminate obstacles before winning.”

They’ve reached the shop now, and as all three of them take their seats, he sees a wry smile pop up on Yu Wenzhou’s face. “Well then,” he says. “What is it that Han Wenqing says? Advance bravely?”

Wang Jiexi does not reply, and Shaotian wonders how much of their conversation was them speaking out loud.

***

Chapter Text

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…”

“Overwhelming?”

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?”

“Is it?”

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

PetalDance: k

***

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.

COMMENTS
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.

***

Chapter Text

All-Stars has been tiring so far.

Shaotian had been looking forward to meeting Yu Wenzhou’s parents - as terrified as he is, Captain had promised that they would definitely love him (he’d looked rather ominous while saying it, actually) but it is still a source of stress more than anything else.

He finishes waving at the crowd - at least they don’t pick up on how tired he is right now - before Yu Wenzhou catches a hold of his hand, and steers him in a certain direction.

“Look,” he says, whispering into his ear, and Shaotian blushes when the crowd yodels. “That’s my parents over there!”

Have you no shame! Pretend-flirting in front of your parents!!! “Stop getting so close in front of them!” he hisses back in panic, eyes flitting towards him, and Yu Wenzhou just smiles at him. “Captain!”

“They won’t mind,” he says with a confidence Shaotian definitely does not feel. “Come on, I have to introduce you.”

“Probably a good thing, since I can’t make out any of the blobs in that crowd,” he grumbles, and Yu Wenzhou just laughs in response when his stomach makes an embarrassing noise.

“Mother’s a good cook too,” he informs him. “She’ll love to feed you.”

“Wait - now?” Shaotian says with dread. He stares down at himself - holy shit, he’s a mess. He had brought the suit for a reason and he isn’t even going to get to use it?

“Don’t worry about it,” Yu Wenzhou says calmly, and slowly leads him out of the crowd. What the fuck. Shaotian stiffens up, and starts praying to whatever god can hear him. He’s currently only wearing his team jersey over his casual clothes, despite his makeup - sparkly lipgloss and kohl that Mucheng had insisted on, just so that he wouldn’t look like a raccoon post-hangover. People stare at them and then move on hurriedly as they pass, with Yu Wenzhou throwing pheromones around in a rather direct manner he doesn’t usually take on, but Shaotian supposes they need to be rude to move in a crowd without getting stopped for autographs at this point.

“Captain, I’m in casual clothes. Casual. Clothes.” He tries, as they turn a corner of the corridors, leading out of the stadium. “I reek of sweat. Okay, I don’t reek because I use deodorant and actually smell nice anyway but -”

“Shaotian, you look fine - better than fine, really,” is Yu Wenzhou preening? “So don’t worry about it. Really.”

Yu Wenzhou is full of rare compliments today for some reason, despite how annoyed he had been in the morning when Shaotian had stumbled out of Mucheng’s hotel room. Ye Xiu had also been there and they had had one of their weird silent conversations while Yu Wenzhou proceeded to sniff him for at least five minutes at breakfast with the rest of the pros.

He can get possessive about teammates like that (Shaotian is pretty sure he’d have done the same for every trainee who came out of a different team’s room, honestly, no matter how close they were), and is also biased, so honestly Shaotian doubts his parents share the same opinion as him about what he looks good in.

“Can I at least wash my face -”

“Nope,” Yu Wenzhou says. There’s something strange about his face today. “You look good in makeup. Don’t be self conscious.”

How can I not be self conscious when you say things like that?! Shaotian wants to say, but then they step outside into the light and nearly bump into Wang Jiexi. He looks paler than usual, much worse than the time they had run into him last.

“You did really well today,” Yu Wenzhou says, and Wang Jiexi nods. “Are you going to -”

“I don’t want to think about it,” Wang Jiexi says. He looks determined, and Shaotian realizes, awkwardly, exactly what he’s going to do. Which is a terrible idea.

“Uh,” he says, high pitched. “Not to interrupt in your fucking posturing or anything, but can you not confess to him before All Stars is over? Because I can guarantee that he’ll think it’s a sabotaging tactic - it’ll just stress him out beyond belief, and Su Mucheng will kill you.”

They both stare at him, Wang Jiexi with the kind of expression that looks like he can’t believe Shaotian is capable of common sense, and Yu Wenzhou looking actually impressed with him. He wishes a side of him didn’t start preening at that. He doesn’t need their approval! Wanting and needing are different things, after all - and thinking omegas are weak or pliable is exactly what he’s fighting against, isn’t it?

One day, if Ye Qiu didn’t need to hide who he was or bow to someone the world considered superior, it would be a good thing, wouldn’t it?

“I… I suppose you are right,” Wang Jiexi says. His eyes flicker away from Shaotian’s face. “I don’t want to mess up his game.”

“The world could be ending and Ye Qiu would still play as terribly savagely as he already does,” Yu Wenzhou says. “Don’t use this moment as an excuse.”

“Captain!” Shaotian says, outraged. “It is stressful to get a confession like that!”

“I don’t think he should declare his intentions quite like this either,” Yu Wenzhou replies. He’s not meeting Shaotian’s eyes. “There are many other ways to plan it out - I’m surprised, especially at you throwing all your grand plans out of the window. What, the obstacle got too much for you?”

“No obstacle is too much for me,” he says stiffly.

“Not even the friendly match against the King of Fighting tomorrow? Interesting,” he says out loud, and Shaotian has lost the thread of this conversation entirely. Yu Wenzhou is probably just distracting Wang Jiexi from his original intention. “It’s one thing to plan against an enemy, it’s another to underestimate them.”

“I have estimated him.” Shaotian really hopes they weren’t going to start snarling at each other in front of the gate - the alpha pheromones.

“Then don’t blame him when the worst comes to worst - being adequate isn’t being the one,” Yu Wenzhou says tartly. “Especially since you’ve evidently let go of all planning.”

“Planning doesn’t always go the way you want it to, and you should know that better than anyone else.” Their voices are going higher now, and Shaotian has to breathe in and release some pheromones that settle them, the two of them standing apart again - Yu Wenzhou’s back is now shielding him, but Shaotian can see Wang Jiexi’s distressed face over his shoulders.

“Must have hit a nerve,” he says. Yu Wenzhou narrows his eyes.

“Haven’t seen it not work yet,” he retorts.

“Well, I didn’t ask,” Wang Jiexi shoots back, and then they nod at each other before they start moving in opposite directions. Shaotian finds, to his surprise, that Wang Jiexi’s gone off course.

“He’s going to say it, isn’t he,” Shaotian says. He’s annoyed. He really cannot lie about how annoyed he is - he knew Yu Wenzhou was stubborn, but this stubborn?

“Not yet,” Yu Wenzhou says, and it sounds so much like a promise that his heart automatically lightens. “If he knows what’s good for him, anyway. We have an entire two weeks ahead of us before their matches, so it’s best if he saves it for after All Stars.”

Huang Shaotian cannot identify the tone in his voice. “So… what is he going to do?”

Yu Wenzhou shrugs. “Beats me.”

Beats me?! That’s not an answer! He follows after Yu Wenzhou, getting his phone out to fire off a text to Su Mucheng about this particular upcoming confession.

RainDance: Lol I didn’t see that coming at all.

Iceicebaby: What do you mean

RainDance: It’s been obvious for ages. I don’t know if Ye Qiu noticed… we’ll find out.

Iceicebaby: Aren’t you worried at all?

RainDance: No, not really. After all, Ye Qiu likes someone else.

What.

“Ye Qiu likes someone else?” Shaotian tells Yu Wenzhou, who just gives him a tired nod. “Then why’s Wang Jiexi even bothering?”

“It’s more for his own peace of mind, I guess? And Ye Qiu is… unlikely to see that this person likes him back, or dare to pursue anything in this environment,” Yu Wenzhou explains as they walk to the garage. “Omegas already get shit on for a lot of things on the forums, so if a relationship happened between opposing teams all the fallout they would face would be on them. Even if this worked out…” Yu Wenzhou shakes his head. “It would be hard to reveal since Excellent Era hasn’t been doing that well these past seasons, and people would start to question the integrity of the game and go on about cheating and favoritism. Things would get ugly fast.”

Yu Wenzhou...had really put in thought into this, hadn’t he? Shaotian opens his mouth to say something to the effect.

What comes out instead is - “Would you say anything? If I was involved in an inter-team relationship?”

Yu Wenzhou goes very still, just before they’re about to reach wherever his SUV is parked. “I’d have to switch teams to make sure,” he says lightly, looking back over his shoulder at him. His eyes are so intense Shaotian’s knees turn to jelly.

What was my original question, again?

“Haha, that’s funny, Captain,” he says, face so warm it feels like he’s going to explode. It really is hot out today. His upcoming heat doesn’t help. Which he still hasn’t told Yu Wenzhou about. Fuck.

He really should - He really -

“Wenzhou!” a voice calls, and Shaotian turns to find a woman walking towards them. She is perched on elegant wedges, wearing a mint-coloured trench coat and similar gloves, and her makeup is themed - eyeshadow dusting light green, neutral tones everywhere. Her eyes are the same as her son’s, he thinks, before he even processes who she must be.

“Hello, Mother,” Yu Wenzhou says. “This is Huang Shaotian.”

“Ma’am,” Shaotian says, sweating. Yu Wenzhou’s Omega mother is gorgeous - all sharp lines softening around the edges, impeccably put together in every way. He feels horribly inadequate - he has not been this intimidated by an omega since Ye Qiu. “It’s lovely to meet you.”

“Shen Jiu,” she says. Her eyes are calculating, but soft in a way that makes him feel not unwelcome. “Wenzhou has told me a lot about you.”

When! Why was I not privy to any of these conversations! Externally, he smiles meekly, and Shen Jiu apparently decides she likes him because he’s not slouching despite it. She inclines her head. “We took your Mama’s car here, but she had to take a business call right after the matches, and will be negotiating for an hour or longer. I’m sure she’ll be home soon. We do, however, expect you both for lunch. She would like to meet you.”

“I couldn’t presume to impose -”

“You’re not. This is an invitation.” Her smile makes her seem much warmer - not so different from Yu Wenzhou at all. “It’s not like you’re just another friend of Wenzhou’s.”

I’m not?! He doesn’t say that out loud, choosing to aim a sheepish smile at her. “I’ll take your word for it, Ma’am.”

“Clearly my son,” she says, cutting a glance at a wincing Yu Wenzhou, “has not treated you well enough if you’re not aware of this much. But first - Wenzhou, the car?”

“Will you drive?” Yu Wenzhou asks, his smile slightly tighter than before. Shen Jiu’s face softens.

“Don’t be absurd,” she says. “Making your Mother do all the work the first time you meet her in months?”

His smile looks far more natural when he climbs into the driver’s seat, Shaotian thinks, and marvels at the balance they keep in the relationship.

It would be nice, he thinks, to have parents like this.

***

PRIVATE CHAT: Iceicebaby changed the name to EMERGENCY

Iceicebaby: FUCK

RainDance: What

ChaosBlossom: What

Iceicebaby: HE’S NOT A RICH SECOND GENERATION

Windyraining: ???

Iceicebaby: [Attached house.png]

Iceicebaby: FIFTH GENERATION

Windyraining: Oh lol yeah my parents know his

RainDance: Happy sugar babying

Iceicebaby: I hate all of you

***

“I feel like I’m in a shoujo manga,” he mutters to Yu Wenzhou when he walks past the hallway and the staff nods as they pass. “Like a period piece.”

“How odd,” Yu Wenzhou says. He sounds highly amused. “I guess you do have the looks for it.”

The absolute ass. “You sure you’re not Tamaki in disguise, about to sweep me off my feet?”

“I don’t know, is it working?” He’s very close to his face now, and Shaotian starts to pray for his sanity.

“Lift me in a bridal carry and I’ll tell you,” he says, and then - “That was rhetorical! Captain! Put me down, your parents are here!”

“Just Mother, and she’s seen me do worse.” Shaotian narrowed his eyes as he struggled to climb down, and found, much to his aggravation, that Yu Wenzhou had far better arm strength than he did. “Oh, don’t look at me like that, I meant stuff like climbing down the banisters. Mama would have a heart attack if I tried that while carrying you, though.”

“Don’t even think about it,” he threatens. “Yu Wenzhou, put me down, you’re embarrassing us in front of the staff!”

“Ah, you make a good point.” He lets go, and Shaotian thinks he’s going to land on his ass before Yu Wenzhou snakes a hand around his waist at the last second.

“Captain! I would’ve fallen!” he complains - and then blushes at the position. “Seriously?”

“Fallen for whom?” Yu Wenzhou asks - the audacity of him - and then smiles so all thoughts temporarily flee his head. Shaotian is not going to get wet at this. He refuses. “Besides, I caught you, didn’t I?”

“Posturing is bad, son,” someone says, and Shaotian’s eyes flit to the side to where another woman - equally beautiful as Shen Jiu, if not more - stands. She has evidently managed to hurry home sooner than they both thought, because the tour of the mansion had definitely not taken more than twenty minutes so far - it was just one wing!! “Welcome home. Or to this estate, anyway.”

“He definitely hadn’t told me about it,” Shaotian says. “But I’ve heard a lot about you, Ma’am.”

He has, actually - and not just from Yu Wenzhou. Yue Qi is an influential Alpha businesswoman, and one of the biggest promoters of equal wages and fair working hours, as well as an activist for better employee conditions.

“I don’t blame him, it’s horribly ostentatious,” she replies. “It’s unfortunate I can’t sell it yet. Let us be on our way - I’m sure we’ll be late for lunch otherwise, and we can catch up on introductions when we get there.”

Her words are placid - oddly comforting. Shaotian has to stop his brain screaming capitalist!!! and smile involuntarily.

Perhaps this won’t be so bad after all.

And it isn’t - lunch is a quiet affair in a side dining room that still looks luxurious, and smells absolutely delicious. Shaotian’s mouth waters as he struggles to remember basic etiquette and compliments the chef highly before realizing Shen Jiu’s cooked most of it. At least she looks pleased about it.

“Flattery won’t get you anywhere,” she says with a sniff, and Yue Qi laughs fondly. Shaotian has a suspicion it’ll get him everywhere. They converse on lighter topics - it veers towards the future of pro gaming once, and how the world looks on it.

“I really should take more time off work… if you make it to the finals,” Shen Jiu teases, and Yu Wenzhou huffs. “I’ll believe it when I see it!”

“How cruel,” she says, voice wry, and Shaotian is hit by a pang of longing again - it must be nice, to have parents like these.

“What about your parents, son?” Yue Qi says softly. “Are they in the city?”

Shaotian almost laughs out loud. “No, no, Ma’am - they’re not really. Aware.” He stops. “Of timings of these events. Or in me playing them. It’s… a little bit embarrassing.”

“It isn’t,” Yu Wenzhou says. Yue Qi frowns at Shaotian, as if gathering her thoughts.

“It really isn’t,” she says. “The issue with age can’t be overlooked, but I know you have that covered.”

“I - well. Yes.” There’s always modelling - and he’s been putting most of his earnings towards savings. There isn’t much he’s wanted besides Glory, after all, and Blue Rain is paying well recently.

Yu Wenzhou nods in lieu of them both, and Yue Qi continues. “No pro career can last forever, but as long as you’re influential, it will be easier to pick up jobs in the same line. And being a pro might not last forever - it’s unhealthy to even think like that - but the game remains, and will always be something you love, first and foremost.”

Shaotian can kind of see that now - Sun Zheping’s injury last year had put things into a lot of perspective, whether he wanted to or not. No matter how frustrating the pro scene was, at least he was sure to make an impact, not fade out of history. Yu Wenzhou seems to think the same, with the way he talks about their mutual friend to Yue Qi right afterwards.

“An Omega pioneering in a risky job is always admirable too,” Shen Jiu says, during a pause in that conversation. She studies him intensely, and Shaotian tries to not splutter. “Be proud of your achievements.”

Neither of them ask any more questions throughout the meal about his parents, he notices. He might not be the person that Yu Wenzhou’s looking for - the person they had arranged a marriage meeting for, although he can’t imagine it would get grander than this - but he’s unspeakably grateful.

It is bound to go wrong somehow.

“You smell like your heat is coming up soon,” Shen Jiu comments during the dessert course, just as Shaotian spoons ice cream into his mouth. “Have you two decided what to do about it? You’re rooming together, yes?”

Shaotian stares back, deer in headlights. Yu Wenzhou makes a choked up noise.

“I - uh. I was going to discuss it. Tonight,” he says feebly. “After we got back.” He had arranged for Su Mucheng to send the lube over to his room, and he would have probably begged for some space.

“That’s for the best, really - you need to set boundaries and maybe even a contract with whoever you spend it with. Although sometimes it’s best to be spontaneous, if both of you know how the other feels about an arrangement!” Yue Qi says cheerfully.

That’s out of the question now, with this particular can of worms open before his crush’s parents, who think he has some kind of heat partner stored away???

His crush’s parents, who look incredibly amused about how embarrassed they are. Fuck. I knew they were evil! They had to be, to be Yu Wenzhou’s parents!!!

His appetite is still there unfortunately, and Yu Wenzhou refuses to meet his eyes when he says he has ice cream on his lips, and oh for fuck’s sake this is so awkward.

Neither of them talk when they say their goodbyes, or on the ride back to the hotel. Shaotian sits in the backseat, and immediately starts thinking about sex, and buries his face in his hands. Yu Wenzhou climbs into the driver’s seat, face crimson, and speeds as fast as he can go without getting a ticket.

***

Iceicebaby: I have NEVER BEEN MORE EMBARRASSED IN MY LIFE

PetalDance: did they give you both the sextalk.

PetalDance: jsyk they don’t do that to best friends

Iceicebaby: PLEASE BE QUIET IT WASN’T LIKE THAT

Windyraining: press F

RainDance: I’ll send Ye Qiu over if he doesn’t cooperate so there’s that.

PetalDance: whoa wait I didn’t volunteer to be his babysitter

Iceicebaby: I REALLY hate all of you

***

The conversation however - has to happen, no matter how long Shaotian puts it off for. There’s no point - his parents had cracked that one open, and even if -

Even if Yu Wenzhou doesn’t want to mate him - spending heats together is different. Normal. And if he doesn’t want to do that, Shaotian needs closure. He breathes in deeply, and closes the door of their hotel room, after sequestering away his lube.

He’s resting on the balcony railing, and Shaotian frowns at the lost expression on his face. “Is something wrong?”

“Shaotian!” Yu Wenzhou turns to him. His face is still flushed, but a little differently, and his Alpha pheromones hang thick in the air around him. “Sorry, I thought - you’d started.”

“That doesn’t explain why you’re here.” Was he planning to guard him? Shaotian wouldn’t put it past his possessive ass. “You haven’t answered my actual question, captain.”

“Nothing, I just,” Yu Wenzhou curls in on himself, lost in thought.

Ah. This is going to be long. “Is it about the heat thing? Because I was going to ask,” he says bluntly, pretending his face isn’t on fire. “But I thought it’d be better to not - I’m not in the habit of sleeping around.”

“I-” Yu Wenzhou breaks off. “Me neither.”

“Of course. That’s why the marriage meeting is a thing, isn’t it? I know that,” he huffs.

Yu Wenzhou turns frustrated eyes towards him. “You heard it but - I don’t think you understand what I’m saying here. Why it’s important to me.”

Shaotian really doesn’t. “So help me understand!” he says. “I’m listening, all right? You listen to me all the time, don’t you Captain? I’ll listen!”

I’ll listen - because you always have.

Something calms down in Yu Wenzhou’s eyes. When he looks away he looks much more at ease, if still lost.

“My parents mated because they loved each other, you know? But it wasn’t easy for them.”

This isn’t a story Shaotian has heard before. He hesitates for only a split second before he sidles up next to him. Yu Wenzhou doesn’t seem to mind.

“What happened?” he asks.

“Mother - she wasn’t from any influential family. Or any family at all, really. She was self-made in every way by the time she’d reached university on a scholarship. Mother’s family - well. You saw.” He smiles wryly. “Her parents didn’t approve of Mother talking to her. Her friends didn’t either - Mother used to be particularly abrasive with them. They’d grown up privileged, you see - and Mother would tell them that directly. That’s -” Yu Wenzhou pauses. “That’s why Mama fell in love with her. She only wanted to get ahead on her own talents - she wasn’t afraid.”

There’s a point to this - Shaotian knows he’s building up to something. He swallows. “I suppose that wasn’t received well.”

“Not in the least.” He curls in on himself. “I don’t have my Mother’s last name, or my Mama’s , because one is made up, and the other’s too influential for me to use in the pro scene.” Yu Wenzhou doesn’t look happy about it. “They had to mate in secret, and marry much, much later - and neither of them knew whether they could actually do so - at least so my Mama wouldn’t get disowned and have the family business go to any of her corrupt cousins. I grew up only knowing my Mama would visit often for the first ten years of my life, without quite understanding why, and that Mother was often too tired from work to realize how it would affect me. I love my parents, don’t get me wrong - but -”

“But no kid should have to grow up like that,” Shaotian says softly, softer than he’s ever heard his voice go. He understands - the loneliness of an empty house, filling it with noise and racket as much as he could before it all got too much.

Finding Glory in a way had been the best thing to happen to him - to immerse himself in a world where people saw him and he could yell back, where he could be acknowledged and never alone again. It had led him to the friends he knew would always respond, even when they were annoyed - to the person beside him, snarky and reliable and conniving - human , just like him.

“You understand, then,” Yu Wenzhou says, looking straight at him, reaching out for his hand and clasping it hesitantly. His eyes shine, and Shaotian swallows a lump in his throat. It was too good to be true - he had known from the start.

“Of course I do,” Shaotian says numbly. Of course sharing - whatever this was - was off the table.

“So - about after your heat -” Yu Wenzhou starts.

“Don’t worry about it,” he says. “Don’t worry about it.”

He shakes off the hand on him, and bolts.

***

Iceicebaby: I fucked up

PetalDance: Ugh. I’m coming.

***

Chapter Text

The good thing about having a fight with Yu Wenzhou is that, unlike the million other ways over the years that Shaotian has considered keeping his scent out of the vicinity during a heat, this one actually has a chance of working.

Mostly because there’s no one around to hear him work himself into a panting, whining mess.

Or well, there isn’t now. It wouldn’t have worked out just as well, he suspects, if he had asked Yu Wenzhou to talk on and inevitably introduce him to some nice heat partner. That would’ve backfired really badly, and he would have ended up confessing his extreme crush, and then where would he be?

“Probably not feeling sorry for yourself in bed - Heavens, Huang Shaotian, what have you done to this place?” Ye Qiu says from the door to the bedroom, which leads into a little lounge outside. This suite really is a little extreme. He picks up the papers scattered near the bin. “Is this a mating contract - I don’t wanna know.” He shoves them into the desk drawer hastily.

Shaotian stares up at him resentfully from under his blanket pile. Ye Qiu’s stare is unimpressed, and he looks flatly from his blankets to the pillow paradise he has made his room. “Is there a reason this place looks like the inside of IKEA Coop Goods?”

“Stop judging my nest, I bet yours looks worse,” he grumbles, grabbing an extra cushion from the pile next to him to settle under his head. The hotel had been incredibly accommodating of his rapidly-settling pre-heat - perhaps because of the ostentatious fees they’d had to pay at check-in, it had to count for something. He would mostly be spending it tucked into bed, so there wasn’t much cause for scandal anyway.

“Stop moping first, and I’ll consider it.” Ye Qiu doesn’t deny the accusation, only kissing him on the forehead. Shaotian freezes up. “Oh, don’t be a fucking baby, you need the contact to not go literally out of your mind. This isn’t even your first one.”

“I know, all right,” he says, disgruntled. “It’s just… weird! I thought you were an alpha for ages and now my physiology is just like, confused, because my instinctive response is to cuddle but my Pavlovian response is to sock you in the jaw for consistently stealing our bosses ingame.”

“Just put your hands on your dick, you won’t need to do anything else,” Ye Qiu advises, and ducks out of the way of Shaotian flinging a pillow at him, putting it back next to him. “No, for real, I hear that helps.”

“I’m not doing that with you in the room.”

They have a staredown. Shaotian refuses to budge.

“I’m just gonna...play Glory on the computer here, in the same room, turned away from you,” his irritating caretaker says slowly. “When you start literally losing your mind, I’ll give you a hand. Or both, if necessary. And fi-”

“FUCK YOU.”

“I’d prefer not ,” he says, and ducks again, this time dodging the pillow by inches. “Don’t destroy your own nest, you already need like half the room to feel safe!”

You’re making me self conscious.

They settle down after that, with minimal complaints from Shaotian apart from his consistent questions to turn the air conditioning higher. Ye Qiu, despite all his posturing, is now curled up and half asleep on the uncomfortable wooden sofa. He’d stolen a pillow already, the thief. Shaotian is staring blearily at the motionless ceiling fan.

There’s too many thoughts swirling in his head. Yu Wenzhou… knows things. He knows what Shaotian’s favorite foods are, for instance.

“You know,” he says, to the misshapen lump that is Ye Qiu’s form, “he always gets me takeout from the same shrimp barbecue place every time I have heats.”

Ye Qiu blinks one eye open to stare at him crankily. “He does what.”

“Yeah, it’s just like he knows things? He stays out of my hair though. I feel kind of bad I ran away for a second, but really now… I thought… ” Oh, he’s tearing up. Damn.

“Good god,” Ye Qiu mutters. “And you’re still certain that he said no.”

“Yeah, well, he wants commitment, but evidently not from me.” Shaotian exhales and squirms at how uncomfortable he feels. “God, this shit sucks.”

“Mm, that’s why I got rid of them,” Ye Qiu says. For a second Shaotian stares at where he’s pointing - his neck, in confusion. 

“You had your scent gland removed?” He says.

“What? No!” Ye Qiu frowns. “I’m on suppressants, remember? My team pays for them. There’s your bit of oversharing for the night.”

… Huh. That explains a lot about him, actually. “Don’t you want kids or something?” It had been one of the clauses on Shaotian’s contract, which provided him with blockers and alphas with suppressants - this was a little extreme.

Ye Qiu shrugs. “I signed a contract. The esports scene wasn’t exactly huge, and I didn’t really care about semantics as long as it’d let me play Glory in peace. Suppressants mean I don’t have to think about that shit.”

The words are blatantly deflecting, Shaotian thinks, narrowing his eyes. Something… something is up with how Excellent Era treats their best player. “You know, you could probably transfer elsewhere.”

“You sound like a Blue Rain scout,” he says, amused.

Fuck no, one strategist on our team’s bad enough. It’s just… Excellent Era doesn’t really seem like they can keep up with you now?”

“Mhm, totally not what a scout would say.”

“You’re exasperating!” Shaotian huffs and pulls a pillow over his head, before he sits up. There’s no discomfort yet in his pants, but the heat keeps getting worse. He turns the temperature down to sixteen degrees, and then stares at how Ye Qiu keeps bundling himself into the sofa. “...You know there’s a bed next door, right?”

“I said I’d guard you, it’s fine,” he says dismissively. “I’m not interested in jumping you or your boyfriend if he drops by.”

“He… is not going to drop by.” Shaotian says. “Did you tell your boyfriend about it?”

“I notice how you didn’t deny he’s your boyfriend.” Ye Qiu’s words are needling, but at least it’s easier to ground himself when they’re shittalking each other. 

“Ugh, this is boring. Let’s talk theory,” he says. The ceiling is glowing now, his eyesight sharpening, sensitized to every little thing in the room. 

“As tempting as it is to take advantage of your heat and get out all your strategies, that’s probably a bad idea.”

“Shove it, as if he’s the only one who strategizes for our team. I pull my own weight, you know?” Shaotian sits up. “To hell with this. I’m getting my laptop.”

“You can’t play Glory right now, you’ll get annihilated.”

“I’m not gonna.” Shaotian walks over with wobbling legs to get his backpack, plugging his laptop in after taking it out and diving back into his nest. “I haven’t watched a good movie in ages.”

Ye Qiu squints at him, at the noise that issues from his laptop as he boots it up. “What are you watching?”

“This year’s version of Nezha, usually Captain watches movies with me, but -”

“You pirated it and never sent us a link?” Ye Qiu looks very awake now, and he shamelessly plops himself into the bed next to him.

Shaotian rolls his eyes, but acquiesces. Despite the sensory overload, Ye Qiu’s touch is still calming, even when they immediately start to (subtly) fight over the ownership of the blanket. 

*

Windyraining: Ye Qiu.

Windyraining: Are you here.

Windyraining: Is there any reason Yu Wenzhou is moping around the bar looking like he’s lost his soul??? He’s ordered a drink and hasn’t even touched it. And Shaotian’s nowhere to be seen.

Windyraining: [image1] [image2] I could make a fortune off this paid expression pack.

Windyraining: I’m gonna call it Bad Breakup. He’s still not drinking anything. What even.

PetalDance: Oh boy.

Windyraining: SO YOU DO KNOW SOMETHING.

PetalDance: … Maybe.

Windyraining: Senior? 

Windyraining: I’m going to call.

***

“And what else?” Ye Qiu hums, putting his phone away, sliding it towards the bedside table face up. Shaotian barely notices, his brain a million miles away, even as he attempts to appreciate the beautiful graphics on screen.

“Even when we miss movie night,” Shaotian hiccups, “even then he always reschedules, so we can make up later that week or month, spend more time to make up for it. He’s always just… super… cuddly. You know? Like, his chest’s so fucking solid, no Han Wenqing, obviously, but really just optimum temperature to lean into. And texture. Texture? Is that the word? Friction?”

“I think you mean cushioning,” Ye Qiu says. On screen, Aobing is using Nezha as a weapon. Or wait, that’s Nezha using Aobing as a weapon. Shaotian can’t focus, but Ye Qiu’s snort means this is probably supposed to be funny. 

“I bet Aobing would like Captain.” He shakes his head. “No, he’d like Aobing. Both. I should watch this with him.” The pillows are just not enough to retain the heat he’s emitting. Abruptly, he wants to cry just thinking about it. “I can’t - he doesn’t want to. He won’t want to ever again. He’d rather, watch - with his, stupid, fucking - whoever he wants to mate for life , I don’t wanna watch this anymore, I don’t I don’t I really don’t -”

“We can turn this off if you want.”

“No,” Shaotian whines. “Then I’ll have to jerk off, and I don’t want to jerk off with you still next to me, and I’m already so wet -”

There’s a faint noise like something crashing to the floor far away. Shaotian is just grateful that no one can hear them outside, the room soundproofed even though it’s pretty much impossible to escape the heat scent. 

Ye Qiu is suppressing laughter, that bastard. “I mean, I can get off you or get you off, if you really need me to, Sword Saint. Our fans would have a field day with that one.”

“Stop polluting Troubling Rain, perv -”

More crashing. Shaotian’s sharpening senses make him wince at the sound. He can hear people talking loudly, what he thinks should be two doors down at this point. “I hate this. Knock me up. Out.”

“Freudian slip much?” Ye Qiu laughs, and slides off the bed. “I’ll get an ice pack for your head.”

Shaotian grunts at him, sinking further into the blankets. “What the hell for?”

“You’re practically burning up.” Ye Qiu sets his laptop to sleep mode, and places it back on the bedside table next to his phone. “Your first med dose should be anywhere between now and half an hour, if you want a nap. Want anything from room service?”

Shaotian shakes his head, sinking further into the blankets. Dimly, he’s grateful for the company. 

“Anything at all?” Ye Qiu presses, strangely insistent. Shaotian makes eye contact from over the top of his blankets. 

“I mean, if you can get Captain via speed post, that’d be swell,” he drawls, and then he sleeps.

*

He wakes up to noises in the outside lounge, his door creaking open.

It’s cold - the air is too cold now, he thinks, dazed. His blood boils under his skin - a heat that grows and rises by several degrees until he’s gasping. His brain feels liquid - hazy. Everything is too much and yet not all at once.

“You have a fever,” someone says. “Shaotian, baby - baby, stay with me, please -”

“Captain,” he gasps, and sinks into blessed scent and comfort. He feels rubbed raw and marinated in his own sweat, his skin far too sensitive for any of the clothes on it.

“Shaotian,” Yu Wenzhou says again, and Shaotian blinks back into consciousness. Oh. Dimly, he registers that this is embarrassing for both of them. He’s probably staining the sheets right through his pajamas.

Those...aren’t sheets. Those are thighs he’s on - someone else’s. Captain’s.

“You’re okay,” his captain murmurs, and he slowly turns his head to face him, bleary-eyed. His vision is sharper than ever, crystal clear, just like all his other senses, registering every little thing - the small scar on Yu Wenzhou’s cheek, the sharp tang of his scent that envelops him, the way Yu Wenzhou scans his face, eyes alight with worry.

“I’m okay,” he agrees, mumbling. “Sorry, I - I, you shouldn’t be here.”

The realization is like cold water to the face. “Why are you -”

“Meds first,” Yu Wenzhou says. There’s a tablet in his hand, a bottle in his other. Shaotian obediently swallows, lets him pour water down his throat. “There. Better.”

“I don’t need birth control,” Shaotian points out. “It’s just. For the sensitivity.”

His face burns as soon as he says it. Yu Wenzhou doesn’t need to know what gets him sensitive. Or wet. Fuck, he’s so wet. His thighs are damp still, and he’s glad for the shorts he’s changed into that absorbs most of the slick.

He realizes belatedly that Yu Wenzhou is looking too, at the slick seeping through, and his brain goes blank. His captain’s face is expressionless, his hand clenching the sheets.

Disgust, he thinks hysterically. His secret is out - he can’t stop his body from reacting to Yu Wenzhou’s proximity, his insides pulsing. His cock throbs.

This is the worst scenario.

“Where,” he says, mouth dry. “I should - I’m sorry. Did Ye Qiu let you in?”

Yu Wenzhou’s brows furrow. “Yes. I told him to leave. He’s in the lounge outside.” He doesn’t sound pleased about this idea, like he wouldn’t be anywhere but here, with Shaotian leaking all over him.

“I’m sorry,” Shaotian says, and finds, to his increasing horror, that his eyes are wet. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t - what the fuck am I doing, Captain, please leave, I know you don’t want to be here -” There’s muffled sounds all around him, the hypersensitivity hitting again, increased awareness of his surroundings, of Ye Qiu’s slow breathing in the next room, someone crying downstairs, the clicking of a keyboard far away and Yu Wenzhou’s hot breath against his neck. 

“Stop assuming things,” Yu Wenzhou says. Inhales sharply. “No. Stop apologizing. I shouldn’t have assumed either.”

“You made your stance very clear,” Shaotian says. His tears are rolling down his cheeks openly now, and he blinks at the stains on the fabric of Yu Wenzhou’s t-shirt where they fall. “It’s my fault. I expected -”

“No, you -”

“Oh, shut the fuck up and fuck each other already,” Ye Qiu says loudly.

They look up to see him at the door, a bottle in his hand which he throws at Yu Wenzhou, who catches it with nary a fumble. He raises one eyebrow. “Guess your hand speed isn’t impaired when it comes to someone, huh?”

“Senior -”

“Thank me later,” Ye Qiu says. “Also, I have to change the sheets later and check Shaotian’s temperature, so if you claw at me while I’m peeling you off him, Yu Wenzhou, I’m telling my insurance company.”

He then shuts the door leading to the lounge behind him, the implicit threat lingering in the air, and leaves Yu Wenzhou holding the bottle awkwardly, Shaotian still halfway across his lap.

“… I told him to get some nutrient mixes, because I can’t access the omega section of the store without people looking at me weird.” Yu Wenzhou says, like that explains anything.

“You’d have to buy it for your mate anyway,” Shaotian replies. His brain is still catching up. “That’s. What mated alphas do.”

“Yes. I know. I get them sometimes.” Another inhale. “I mean - for my mom. Not - this is stupid. I’m in love with you.”

Shaotian looks up from burying his face in his shoulder to make eye contact.

“You’re… in love with me,” he says very faintly. It hits him all of a sudden, that he’s been comfortably nuzzled against Yu Wenzhou for at least five minutes, probably ruining the pair of expensive jeans he’s wearing for good, and that should mean something. 

“I’ve been in love with you since we were trainees, actually.” The words stumble over each other, like dominoes collapsing, or the state of Shaotian’s brain, which has currently decided to let off fireworks via every synapse.

“You liked me since we were trainees,” he repeats back. “Oh my god.”

“Yes. I asked you to move in with me. I mean. I thought it was obvious.”

“Oh my god. No. When did this happen.”

“We were looking up apartment blocks -”

“That was for you and your mate - wait, that was about what -

“I asked you to meet my parents - what did you think our conversation was about, I didn’t - I only want you, only you -”

“I’m so fucking stupid.” Shaotian says, awed. 

“I mean, yes -”

“You’re so fucking stupid,” he continues, ignoring Yu Wenzhou’s offended noise, and then his widening eyes as he slips out of his arms and shrugs off his pants. “I love that in a man.”

And then he kisses him, and neither of them say anything for the ten minutes that follows, which involves fumbling hands, long, elegant and often slow fingers being very, very good at what they can do. Ten minutes that devolve into divesting Yu Wenzhou of his pants, his cock - warm, just the right size to slide against his ass until he’s screaming - and then sweet, sweet release, his world going white.

“I thought you just didn’t want to have sex,” Yu Wenzhou says, into his shoulder, his fingers still stripping his cock, Shaotian twitching still from his last orgasm. “I thought - I thought we were taking it slow, and -”

“You think far too much,” Shaotian says dryly. “Maybe you should’ve just asked if you could kiss me.”

“I should’ve,” Yu Wenzhou breathes, his teeth catching on his ear this time. “I should’ve just come into the room when you were trying to hide how wet you were and asked you to sit on my face -”

“Captain!” The words come out scandalized, his face burning, but he can’t unsee it - sliding down the wall with Yu Wenzhou’s beautiful lips against his cock, mouthing down until he can lap up all the slick from his inner walls -

“No,” Yu Wenzhou corrects. “Alpha.”

The word sends a shudder down his spine, another flood of slick pouring out of him. “Ye Qiu’s still in the next room, stop being so - so -”

“I could send him out,” Yu Wenzhou offers. “But be honest, Shaotian - you want him to hear, don’t you? You’d make everyone hear, if you could.”

And this is the secret that Shaotian has kept for so long, the shameful desire that pooled in him every time that Yu Wenzhou had nearly walked in on him changing, every time he’d pressed his nose to Yu Wenzhou’s sheets, every time he had scented him in public - and hearing it out loud is too much - too much - it feels like a flipped switch, like his brain turning off his surroundings, seeing nothing but Yu Wenzhou’s face, his lips moving - sounds and breathing coming to a standstill -

“Shaotian,” he hears, from what feels like eons ago, like light filtering through murky water. He is sinking - sinking deeply. “Shaotian, your safewords. Red, yellow and green.”

“Green,” he says. Dreamy, but perfect. He never wants this to stop. “Green, green, please -”

He feels himself being guided to his captain’s neck - alpha , the scent says, yours - Yu Wenzhou reaches over and opens the desk, mildly desperate as he pulls apart the foil packet and pulls it over himself. His cock is swelling - Shaotian reaches down to paw at it, a whine building in his throat when he’s denied immediately. His eyes fill with more tears.

Soon, something, someone promises, and he listens, his breathing harsh. It could be in his head - or the alpha tearing into him, the way he is served up on a platter for his desire -

Fingers are pulling him apart at the edges. He feels himself being lowered down into the nest - the blessedly warm nest - and something large, almost too large at the apex of his thighs, sliding in so smoothly he would miss it if it didn’t make him almost bite down on his tongue, choke on his spit. The texture is - smooth, strange, almost like the toys he’d brought, but warmer - almost scalding. He feels himself scream when it goes deeper still. “Captain - ah, I can’t keep calling you that, it’s weird, isn’t it -”

“You shouldn’t, I’ll keep thinking of this in our matches, then,” Yu Wenzhou says, and his voice sounds so rough, exactly the way Shaotian had wanted him to fall apart. He clenches down, and his captain’s eyes narrow. That sounds a fine idea, actually - if calling him that, riling him up produces this reaction. “You’re playing with fire here.”

“Maybe a poker,” he tries cheekily, still so very out of it - and presses his knuckles to his mouth, biting down when he starts to move. Yu Wenzhou braces himself and pulls his hips back, and then Shaotian nearly hits the headboard, skidding up the bed on the next thrust. He slowly pulls away his hand, and holds it against the bed, which means Shaotian has to make eye contact as he enters him this time, slick still flooding the sheets underneath him with obscene noises each time he manages to come from inside out. Once. Twice. 

“So fucking good -” he hears Yu Wenzhou say, “you smell so good, always, Shaotian -”

His voice is hoarse now, as Yu Wenzhou fucks him into another orgasm, his remaining mental capacity somewhere in the clouds as he struggles to come back down from that high, his legs straining from the effort to keep up, his body twisting into and away from the thrusts.

“You’re mean,” he finds himself saying. “Mean, mean, that’s so mean of you, captain, you shouldn’t work your vice captain this hard - ah, and fast - give me a break, I can’t keep up, are you afraid you won’t last, is that why you keep tiring me out short term -”

“Trashtalking in bed?” Yu Wenzhou nips at his mouth, cutting off the laugh that he emits, that develops into a throaty moan when he presses down against his abdomen, letting the muscles clench around him again. “I’m just building up to my Curse Arrow.”

Muffling a laugh, Shaotian decides he was definitely not into gaming talk in bed, no matter how alluring Yu Wenzhou’s voice makes it sound, and he’s on the verge of saying so when Yu Wenzhou pulls away, face an alarming shade of red - and stares down at where they’re connected. “Shaotian, you need to turn around -”

“Why?” he begins to ask, and then feels the way the cock twitches inside him. “Oh - I - can we -”

Yu Wenzhou pulls him to his side, one leg swung over his hips, and settles down. Shaotian’s mouth falls open as the knot swells in him. Dimly, he scowls at Yu Wenzhou, who merely looks apologetic. “You didn’t need to put that - that thing on.”

“We hadn’t signed the contract yet,” his captain says. No - his alpha, who is still longingly looking at his neck like its a particularly delicious piece of pie he’s being denied. Yu Wenzhou’s own neck is littered with bite marks, he realizes with some pleasure, omegas having no such marking restrictions. “Also - I wasn’t - you don’t like leaving your neck vulnerable. I noticed.”

“I don’t.” How many other things has he noticed? He squirms until he finds a comfortable position, and Yu Wenzhou sneaks his arm underneath him to pull him even closer. “It’s strange, though.”

“What is?” His face is so tender, everything Shaotian has ever wanted - he almost feels bad about breaking the moment.

“It’s strange how you never noticed that I was practically ready to go down on you,” he says, and promptly looks horrified. Yu Wenzhou presses his lips together in a smile.

“We can try that out,” he promises. “After you feel better, and can actually reread your contract terms.”

That’s right, Shaotian thinks. They have all the time in the world.

In the meanwhile, though. “So, Captain, about what you said - when did you realize you wanted me to sit on your face?”

“God, you’re fucking insufferable.” Fondly, as he releases in him again, as Shaotian starts to grind down. “Maybe after you do, you’ll find out, if you can still speak later.”

*

Two hours later, Shaotian wakes up, still joined at the hips, and shakes Yu Wenzhou awake, his eyes horrified. 

“What? What is it, baby?” he says, and honestly that shouldn’t sound this hot, but he has other things to focus on.

“How did you end up here. How did you know.” He enunciates clearly.

“Oh, I called Ye Qiu from Chu Yunxiu’s phone, and he left me on speaker -”

“I’m going to fucking kill him.”

“You’re welcome!” his soon to be victim says from the next room, Netflix still on blast in the background, and it is only the allure of his very, very comfortable nest, mate and all, that stops him from immediately demanding a real life PK.

“Is it worth it?” Yu Wenzhou asks, and the tone is amused but his face says otherwise when he looks back at him, insecurity in his eyes. Shaotian thinks of the wild goose chase that’s been the past few years, how he’s missed every second because someone was too stupid, too proud to just tell him . This isn’t about Ye Qiu, not at all.

And… surprisingly, as confused as he is, he can deal with it.

“You need to work on your communication skills,” he says. “Like just now. Just ask if you sucked.”

“I -”

“And tell me that you’re introducing me as a significant other when you’re introducing me as a significant other.”

“Shaotian -”

“Stop interrupting me when I talk.” Silence. “Good. Stop being jealous of my friends, I’ve never had eyes for anyone but you. Tell me when we go on dates that they’re dates. Tell me that you love me.”

Yu Wenzhou bites his lips, waiting for him to finish, and Shaotian stares at him. “You can say something now.”

“I’m sorry,” Yu Wenzhou replies, contrite, his voice small. “I’ll do better.”

Shaotian leaves a kiss on his nose. “That wasn’t hard, was it?”

“You are the one who does most of the talking.” A pause. “I’m sorry about that too. I shouldn’t treat you like I do strategies in a game. That… sucks. Did I suck?”

“You don’t suck,” he tells him honestly, amused at the blunt confession, the outpouring of words so cathartic to hear that he doesn’t even have the energy to be mad anymore. “Even if your sex playlist kind of does, Captain.”

“I… don’t have a sex playlist.”

“Exactly.”

It’s okay, he thinks, as he leans over to kiss him again. They’ll learn each other now earnestly, together .