Yanan’s days in the office were usually spent peacefully.
Most people would call it boring, maybe, but he would beg to differ. The 21st floor of Chaoyin Studio liked to follow a certain routine when it came to work. Everybody stayed in their respective cubicles, communicating with one another only when necessary, and stepping out only for bathroom or snack breaks. It was a quiet that Yanan fairly enjoyed because it was also one he could spend listening to music without fear of missing out on anybody talking to him.
Nobody would have guessed he worked at the Bridal Department of the studio, but honestly, Yanan thought it actually made perfect sense. Everybody on his floor was tasked daily with designing anything from a wedding gown to a groom’s suit and tie. They all had their own way of channeling creativity. It just so happened all of them preferred silence. There was also the fact that there was only five of them working on the floor that contributed to that, though.
The one closest to Yanan’s age was a dark haired boy named Xu Minghao, who stayed in the cubicle right beside his.
Xu Minghao was often in a world of his own, but every now and then Yanan would exchange some ideas with him here and there. Most of the younger boy’s ideas were eccentric, bordering the line between avant-garde fashion and classic bridal gowns, which was basically Yanan’s exact opposite. That just meant he could easily gather new ideas from the other boy and vice versa, when needed. It was a pretty good work environment.
One day, the two in particular were called into the Head of the Bridal Department’s office, where Su Yunying herself sat waiting.
“Yes?” Minghao asked immediately, never really one who liked being pulled away from his work.
Behind him, Yanan listened with curiousity and mild panic as the head explained that they were going to be working on a project with a special team on the 17th floor. The overall CEO of Chaoyin Studio’s daughter was going to be married and of course, the studio covered everything. It also meant it was going to be extravagant and a wedding to look out for. Yanan and Minghao were in charge of outfit design, handpicked by the CEO himself out of their floor for their previous great work.
(Not to mention, Minghao was previously from the Fashion Department, which meant he had plenty of experience creating his own clothes as well.)
As Yunying continued to chatter about the new job, Yanan’s thoughts drifted to who else he was going to be working with.
There was Zhou Zhennan and Samuel Kim, an inseparable duo from the Lights and Sounds Department. Both of them were wildly known for producing stellar results when together; that wasn’t to say they didn’t warrant the reputation if they were to work alone, but it was just different when they handled a project with both their forces combined. Yanan has spoken with Zhennan once before, when the younger boy had drifted to their floor in search of coffee.
For the overall decor, Wu Jiacheng was in charge. He was someone Yanan has definitely seen around before—maybe heard around was a more appropriate term—and they’ve been on one project once upon a time when Yanan just started. He was pretty sure Jiacheng had forgotten him by now. Flowers for the event were going to be sourced from Eric Chou’s store, most likely, if Jiacheng was involved with the planning.
“Minghao can work on the men’s clothes fine by himself, but we’re going to assign him with Victor in case he needs help,” Yunying continued, while Yanan dutifully listened on to whom he would end up partnered with, since that’s what was happening apparently. He didn’t know a lot of names and faces from the Fashion Department, but if he had to pick one he definitely didn’t want to work with, it would have to be—
“And Yanan here will be with Wen Junhui!”
Speak of the devil.
“Wen Junhui?” Yanan spoke for the first time since they entered the room, his voice barely above a whisper.
As if reading his thoughts and sensing his panic, Yunying smiled cheekily at him, “I think both of you will work great together! Now go pack up and head down, I’m sure the rest of the team are informed by now. Bye bye! Enjoy!”
With that, the two were shooed out of the office room and were left to stand in the middle of the hallway in a kind of dazed shock. At least Yanan was in a dazed shock, since Minghao looked like he was taking the news of the special project pretty well. The latter instead looked at Yanan with a concerned expression on his face; he had come from the Fashion Department after all. He knew about how wild it could get up there on the 29th floor.
“Hey, you nervous?” Minghao asked after a moment of silence.
Yanan hesitated for a moment before he nodded, “I’m always nervous. This feels like such a huge break from routine.”
“Don’t worry,” the younger boy assured him. “You’re in good hands with Junhui.”
Somehow, Yanan doubted that, but he wisely chose not to comment and followed the other boy back to their cubicles to pack up.
It wasn’t like he had some kind of personal vendetta against Wen Junhui; far from it, actually. His panic had a lot to do with the first and last time he visited the Fashion Department, a few weeks into the start of his job. He had thought it was where he could find Jiacheng, since he had yet to memorize the floors, but instead was greeted by the mess that was the 29th floor. A whole world apart from his calm, peaceful life on the 21st.
Cloth bolts were strewn about, loud music was blasting here and there, and various stations with sewing machines were scattered around the room. It was like the floor thrived on a feeling of chaos, which Yanan immediately felt like he should stay far away from. Unfortunately, before he could escape back into the elevator, he was stopped in his tracks by the sight of a tall figure in the middle of the room.
Sharp eyes were watching Yanan as he stood, frozen and unable to look away from the slim boy with dark brown hair.
“Can I help you?” Wen Junhui asked, smiling brightly at Yanan.
In response, the taller boy fled the second the elevator doors opened again.
It took him only a few days to learn about Junhui. At first, he wasn’t all the interested in the water room gossip that happened when he dropped by, but two of the older designers were standing around and talking way too loudly to ignore. They described a man with golden skin and model-like proportions from the Fashion Department and immediately Yanan’s thoughts drifted to the person he had seen.
As it turned out, Wen Junhui was a name that was known to most—if not all—the employees of Chaoyin Studio. Originally hired as a model (which Yanan understood completely), the pretty boy from Shenzhen soon showed interest and potential in actually producing clothes instead. He was well-loved in all departments; his demeanour was pleasant, easy likeable, and charming. So really, Yanan shouldn’t be so apprehensive to work with him, right?
Except the taller boy was never good at working with handsome, charming men.
Not one bit.
After packing up his things, Yanan waited a while for Minghao to finish before both of them headed down to the 17th floor. When they got there, only a few of the others were already around, greeting them from the large table in the center of the common area. They were waiting for the overall head of the wedding, Fu Longfei, to further discuss the finer details of what was going to happen. Yanan sat himself next to Zhennan, who nodded at him in greeting before returning to his conversation with Samuel.
The seat next to him remained empty for only a few seconds before a voice sounded from behind him.
“Is this seat taken?”
Yanan didn’t need to glance to know the soft voice belonged to Junhui, but he did anyway, catching the polite smile on the other boy’s face.
It took him a bit too long to nod in response.
“I’m Wen Junhui,” he said once he was seated, flashing Yanan an even brighter smile and holding his hand out. “I’m from the Fashion Department.”
“Yanan from Bridal,” the other boy replied, thankful his words didn’t stutter as he shook Junhui’s hand briefly and let go as if it burned him, but Junhui didn’t seem to notice as a look of recognition flashed in his eyes.
“Oh! You’re my partner!”
A light blush spread across Yanan’s face at the term; there wasn’t anything weird with what Junhui said, but the idea of being partnered with the gorgeous looking boy was still a bit too much. He just nodded in response once more, unsure of what to say. He couldn’t find it in him to look away, however, since Junhui was still staring at him with sparkling eyes that roamed around his face, making him way too self-conscious.
Moments later, Junhui spoke again.
“You know, Yanan, you’re really handsome.”
Before Yanan could reply—in between his brain short circuiting and his face flushing—Fu Longfei appeared before them with an air of business surrounding him, making the entire team bring their focus to the man in front. It seemed like Junhui wasn’t even waiting for a reply anymore as the other boy quickly brought his attention to what was being said in front, uncaring about the panic he managed to send Yanan in.
“Think of it as the biggest wedding of the century,” Longfei said with a grin. “Admittedly, it’s not, but that’s what the boss told me so I have no choice but to repeat his words.”
He gave a brief run through of the theme and immediately, Yanan was already envisioning how he imagined the gowns to look like. It was supposed to be elegant yet modern, something new, yet demure at the same time. The wedding dress was supposed to look like that, anyway, but the bride wanted something else entirely for her reception gown. Lots of colour, apparently, which seemed more like where Junhui’s interests would enter.
Yanan could already see Minghao whispering next to Victor, who gave in inputs of his own.
Across the table, he met the eyes of Jiacheng, who had been looking at him funnily ever since the meeting started.
“Hey, Yanan,” Jiacheng finally said once he noticed the younger boy was looking back.
Jiacheng grinned, “I’m glad I get to work with you again. I feel like we barely talked the last time.”
“Yeah,” Yanan found himself saying, smiling shyly. “I’m glad to be on this project as well.”
Next to him, Junhui leaned closer into his space, making Yanan momentarily lean back in surprise. Their knees were close to brushing against each other, but Junhui didn’t seem to mind the invasion of personal space. The brunette was pouting at Jiacheng as he spoke, “Xiao Wu, how come you’re not saying that you’re glad to be working with me again? I thought we had so much fun last time!”
“Wen Junhui,” Jiacheng said with a loud laugh. “My ears would like to rest.”
“Excuse me? You’re one to talk!”
“I can’t believe poor Yanan is stuck with you,” the older boy teased further while Junhui stuck his tongue out like a child.
“I’m sure Yanan and I will get along just fine,” he said petulantly, before glancing back at Yanan, who was staring at the side of Junhui’s face and admiring his facial structure as the other two argued. It was hard not to get distracted with the other boy around. Unaware of Yanan’s current thoughts, Junhui caught his eye and gave a playful smile. “Isn’t that right, Yanan?”
“W-what?” The dark haired boy asked, which elicited a laugh from Jiacheng who pointed out that Yanan was already tuning Junhui out, making the latter pout even further.
Finally realizing the situation, Yanan quickly shook his head, “wait, I wasn’t ignoring him, I just zoned out!”
“So you’re glad we’re working together?” Junhui asked expectantly.
More than his heart would like, Yanan thought to himself. He didn’t trust himself to speak further so instead he just nodded silently. Sooner or later he was going to get over being so nervous around Junhui, but that day was not today. Today, Yanan found himself fumbling around with his stuff as he followed Junhui towards their designated area of the floor, listening to the other boy chatter about any random topic under the sun, and giving his two cents once in a while.
It was going to be quite the experience working with Wen Junhui.
Honestly speaking, Junhui was having a lot of fun.
Only a few days into the project and he was beginning to think that being a part was one of his best choices yet since joining the company. It was extremely fun working with the others; Jiacheng always made everybody laugh, Samuel was adorable despite being confused half the time, Zhennan provided wisdom beyond his age, Minghao’s out of this world ideas were useful, Victor’s criticisms were extremely helpful, while Longfei managed to bring the team together under his leading.
Of course, there was also his partner, Yanan.
If he had to be honest, Junhui might even say that Yanan was his favourite part of the whole thing.
When they had first started out, Junhui was actually worried that he would end up scaring Yanan off with how weird and random he could be. He could tell that the other boy was on the shy side, usually offering just a quick smile to the other boys’ antics, but slowly and sure Yanan eventually began to open up. Much to Junhui’s delight, he soon realized that a lot of Yanan’s thoughts mirrored his own.
The design work between them was pretty smooth sailing, too. Yanan’s ideas and sketches could easily be envisioned by Junhui, who gained inspiration to work on the gowns each day, already starting earlier than most even Victor and Minghao. It didn’t feel stressful at all. Yanan didn’t even complain whenever Junhui needed to play music to keep him going, commenting once that he even liked Junhui’s song choices.
With each new day though, Junhui found himself in a different dilemma.
He had already told Yanan ever since they first met that he found the other boy handsome; he’s had that impression ever since Yanan wandered into the Fashion Department by accident that one time, but they’ve never met until the project came along. He had actually thought Yanan was a new male model for the department to work with at that time, initially surprised to find out he was actually a designer.
Now that he worked in close range with Yanan, Junhui found himself constantly distracted.
It didn’t help that whenever he would casually glance at the taller boy, Yanan was almost always staring back.
Each time Junhui found himself in that situation, he would flash a bright smile to ease off the awkwardness, which would be pleasantly met with a light blush from the other boy.
So, really, he was having fun.
Still, Junhui was beginning to think that they could definitely have even more fun, somehow. He wasn’t sure why, but he just had the feeling that Yanan was hiding something beneath that gentle, soft demeanour. He’s already caught glimpses of it—whenever Yanan would mumble under his breath as he sketched—but Junhui craved for more of what went on inside the other’s head. He was pretty sure he would like what he would find.
“Minghao,” he greeted as entered the other’s shared space during one of his breaks; he lost Yanan to Zhennan, who had suddenly decided that he needed Yanan’s vision to decide on something for the stage, while the other boy followed without complaint. When Junhui asked if he could follow, he was met with an incredulous look. What did he ever do to that kid, really? Zhennan hurried off soon after, leaving Junhui to decide on what else he could do.
“I have a question to ask you.”
He was met with a quick reply as Minghao returned to his work soon after greeting.
“What is it?”
“So you’re from the same department as Yanan right?” Junhui tried to say casually, slipping into the seat across from Minghao.
His question must have been more random than usual, since Minghao actually stopped his sketching to glance at him.
“Yeah. What’s this about, Jun?”
“I was just wondering,” the brunette began to say, fingers fiddling with a pencil he found on the table. He didn’t know why he felt so nervous all of a sudden; as if he was asking Minghao for Yanan’s hand in marriage or something, which definitely wasn’t the case. In fact, he wasn’t even asking for anything related to the sort. He just wanted to know the other boy more, that was all. Junhui shrugged, “what’s he into? He feels so shy and all.”
“Why don’t you ask him yourself?” Minghao replied, chuckling a little as he glanced back down.
“I’m not sure how. He always feels on edge when he talks to me, y’know?”
“I don’t, actually,” the younger boy said amiably. “We don’t talk much in the department. When we do, he’s usually calm, but that might be because I don’t exactly pressure him into talking.”
At that, Junhui couldn’t help but frown. He wasn’t pressuring Yanan into things the other didn’t like, was he? Sure, he talked a lot more than Yanan was probably used to, but he didn’t exactly always expect a reply. He was more than used to talking by himself, anyway. Junhui could probably spend hours talking to himself as well, but that was a little sad, if he had to be honest. Minghao must have noticed his dilemma as the younger boy put his pencil down and sighed.
“Place him out of the work environment,” he suggested, folding his hands together in front of him as he regarded Junhui with a serious expression. “It might help when you’re not cooped up in the office.”
“That sounds like a great idea,” Junhui replied, considering the possibilities already. They don’t have work on Saturdays and he could probably ask Yanan if he wanted to hang out. Actually, it might be a good idea to ask the other boys to join them as well, but when he voiced this out to Minghao, the younger boy politely declined. He’d rather not be near anything that reminded him of work on a weekend, no offence.
When Junhui returned to his own workspace, he found Yanan already there, chewing on the end of his pencil as he stared intensely at the sketchpad on the table.
“Yanan!” Junhui greeted happily, making his way over to stand behind the other boy. “Is this a new design already?”
Yanan nodded, the tip of his ears pink as Junhui leaned over his shoulder. While the latter’s eyes scanned the drawing, he couldn’t help but take in how nice Yanan smelled. It definitely wasn’t a harsh cologne type of smell, or any type of cologne at all, but something similar to sweet smelling laundry. Either that, or the other boy really did just emit a sweet scent, which wouldn’t have been weird at all.
“It looks nice.”
“Thanks,” the dark haired boy said sincerely, smiling a little more.
Now or never, Junhui figured.
“Yanan, are you doing anything tomorrow?”
“Hm?” Yanan asked, still distracted by what he was doing. He glanced behind him, blinking a little at how close Junhui still was, before slowly shaking his head. “I don’t think so. I usually don’t bring work from the office back home, but if I’m inspired enough, I could—“
“Let’s go out!” Junhui interrupted before the other boy could carry on further about working, smiling brightly. He didn’t realize how his words must have sounded until he noticed how Yanan’s eyes widened and how his pale cheeks gained a pretty pink hue. In response, Junhui himself could feel the back of his neck heating up, but he tried his best to keep in control. He asked as a friend, that’s all.
(Okay, maybe that wasn’t really all there was to his offer, but still.)
“I was thinking of inviting the others,” he continued, watching the way Yanan’s shoulders relaxed at the mention of the other boys being a part. “We could go have some fun! Like watch a movie, or go to an amusement park, or just eat out. What do you say?”
Yanan shrugged, “I’m okay with the idea. Except maybe the amusement park, since I don’t really go on rides.”
“Aw, are you scared?” Junhui asked. When the other boy nodded shyly, he couldn’t help but pat Yanan’s soft hair and coo further, “that’s so cute.”
“Don’t make fun of me,” Yanan complained half-heartedly, but made no move to push Junhui’s hand away, which made the latter secretly pleased as he gave the sitting boy a few more gentle head pats before resting his hand on the other’s shoulder instead. He noticed how Yanan had completely stopped working on his sketch, choosing instead to just sit there and allow Junhui to do whatever he wanted.
The brunette grinned, “I’ll go invite everybody else!”
Needless to say, Junhui circled around the 17th floor inviting everybody else without much luck.
“I need to visit Eric’s store tomorrow and update him on what’s happening so far,” Jiacheng said apologetically. Victor asked if Minghao was going, received a no, and soon said he probably won’t be able to go as well. Junhui didn’t even bother asking Longfei, who had been in the middle of an important phone call. If anybody would be busy, it would definitely be him. Last, he visited the Lights and Sounds duo and hoped that at least they could go.
“Go where?” Samuel asked, looking interested when Junhui announced his plans.
“Watch a movie or eat out,” the older boy replied. “I haven’t decided yet, but I’ve invited Yanan!”
At the mention of the other boy, Zhennan gave Junhui a specific look, one that meant he knew more than he should. It wasn’t exactly surprising that Zhennan just seemed to know everything that happened around the office. One time, he had managed to give Junhui a specific type of cloth before the fashion designer even knew he needed it for a project. Nobody really asked how anymore, silently accepting the fact.
“Has anybody else said yes?”
Junhui shook his head and sheepishly continued, “I was hoping you guys would.”
Just as Samuel looked like he was about to agree, Zhennan gave him a pointed look, which made the younger boy close his mouth.
“Sorry, but I don’t think we can go,” Zhennan said simply. “We have something to work on.”
“Yes, Samuel, we do.”
Eventually, Junhui found his way back to where Yanan was. The latter was now looking at something on his phone instead of working on designs, taking a break from everything he’s done so far. He looked up from his phone just as Junhui took a seat next to him. The brunette immediately leaned his head on the other’s shoulder, not caring whether or not it was sudden, as he let out a heavy sigh.
“Everybody else is busy tomorrow,” he whined. “I’ve asked the whole floor.”
“Nobody can go?”
“Yeah, so I guess it’s just you and me, Yanan.”
With his head on the other boy’s shoulder, it was easy to feel the way Yanan’s shoulders immediately tensed up as Junhui finished speaking. It occurred to him, belatedly, that he didn’t exactly hear the other boy agree to going out tomorrow at all, other than being okay with. Also, that maybe with just the two of them going out, that might have changed Yanan’s stance on going out.
He was about to take back the offer, when Yanan spoke.
“Sure, where do you plan to go again?”
Well. Junhui immediately shut his mouth before he could say anything to ruin what was happening.
In retrospect, Yanan should have thought the whole thing through. How did he go from wanting to avoid Wen Junhui to being his partner and now, to going out with him for a day? He told himself that it only made sense that he should get used to having the other boy around now that they were working together, but being alone with the other boy was a whole different ball game. Unfortunately, there was also no way Yanan could bring himself to cancel.
So he stood in front of his bedroom mirror, running his hand through his black hair over and over again in a desperate attempt to fix it a little.
While he wasn’t exactly as fashionable as Minghao or even Zhennan, Yanan would like to think he knew how to dress himself well. He took a bit longer than usual choosing a decent outfit that morning, eventually settling with a button up shirt and slacks. It was casual enough for a day out, yet also stylish enough to give his creative side some credit. He wasn’t exactly the shirt and shorts type of guy.
The plan for the day was to visit the food fair happening somewhere in the city. Junhui had texted Yanan the address of the place the night before as they agreed to meet up nearby. It also happened to be fairly near Yanan’s apartment. With the weather at just the right temperature, he decided to just walk towards their meeting place. It’s also been a pretty long time since he last walked around by himself.
As always, shortly after he began walking, Yanan immediately felt self-conscious.
He wasn’t exactly narcissistic, but he wasn’t blind either.
It was hard to miss the stares he got from the people he would pass by, as if it was the first time they’ve seen a boy as tall as Yanan walking around. He’s been told before that he was just the type of guy that was bound to attract attention, which was the very reason why Yanan preferred as little as possible, simply because everything made him feel incredibly awkward. Maybe he shouldn’t have dressed up for the occasion.
Would Junhui even notice?
(Not that he wanted Junhui to notice. Except, okay, he kind of did.)
Right before Yanan rounded the last corner from where he was supposed to meet with Junhui, he heard someone calling out his name.
He turned around and was met with a sight even brighter than the sun. At least, Yanan’s thought process immediately went that route at the sight of the other boy, who was walking faster to catch up to where he was standing. Junhui was dressed in a black, form-fitting shirt and dark jeans that made him look even taller than normal. Even though he was wearing a red cap, it was hard to miss his sparkly eyes and wide grin.
He stopped right in front of Yanan, smile still in place.
“Hey! I was just about to text you,” Junhui greeted.
For a brief moment, the other boy almost forgot how to reply. It was still new to him, suddenly talking to Wen Junhui; even going out with him for a day never crossed his mind before. Things were easier than how he would have been a few weeks ago, sure, but Yanan was ultimately a lot more shy than he probably seemed. It was a whole different feeling talking to Junhui in the office building and in a regular setting.
“Oh, yeah,” he replied, finally snapping out of it. “I actually live nearby.”
“So do I,” the brunette said with mild surprise. “I wonder why I haven’t seen you around before? You’re pretty hard to miss.”
There he goes again. At some point, Yanan realized that flirting came way too naturally to Junhui, who probably didn’t even consider what he was saying half the time. In the week they’ve spent working together, he’s been called handsome and cute way too many times than he could count, which always left Yanan flustered. It didn’t help that Junhui said such things so casually, too.
“This food fair,” Yanan ended up saying instead. “What does it have?”
“International dishes! Along with some exotic delicacies of China,” Junhui replied, forgetting his own earlier comment and walking ahead to where the food fair was located. He rattled off some of the dishes he saw advertised on the Internet that sounded like it was exciting and soon asked Yanan for what type of food he’d be willing to eat.
“I’m comfortable eating anything, really,” the taller boy said with a shrug, matching Junhui’s pace as they walked side by side. “I’m not picky.”
Junhui headed towards the nearest booth, already looking like his mouth was watering.
“It’s from Korea!” He pointed out excitedly. “Looks spicy.”
“Do you like spicy food?” Yanan asked conversationally, checking out the bubbling pot of what was called ddeokbokki. He got his answer by the way Junhui immediately nodded and ordered one serving, commenting on the side that he was going to share. He went on and on about how often he ate spicy food and how most spicy dishes didn’t even faze him anymore, while Yanan listened with rapt interest.
“Here, try it first!” Junhui said, lifting a forkful of rice cake towards Yanan’s face.
The latter blinked.
Was he being fed by the other boy right now? Really?
As always, Wen Junhui was oblivious to his actions, as he waited patiently for Yanan to open his mouth and take a bite. In the end, Yanan did so, trying his best to avoid eye contact with the other boy in a vain attempt to stop himself from blushing. It didn’t work, of course, as he could still feel the heat on his cheeks as he chewed slowly; at least he could blame the spicy rice cake for his flushed face, if ever.
“How is it?” Junhui asked.
“My turn!” He handed Yanan the paper plate and opened his mouth expectantly.
Oh. So that’s how they were going to spend the day, huh? Trying not to think too much about it—yet failing once more—Yanan fed Junhui a piece. For a moment, all he did after was stare at the other boy’s heart shaped lips, falling into a daze once more. It was hard to focus on anything else apart from Junhui whenever they were together. It’s like the other just had some kind of magnetic pull that demanded the attention of people in his presence.
The ladies in the water room did say that Junhui was handsome and charming all at once.
They definitely weren’t wrong.
A majority of the day was spent like that, with the two of them picking out random things to try out. While they didn’t feed each other for every dish, there were a few things that Junhui insisted to be fed and a few others by the end of the fair that they ended up sharing instead. Yanan was old enough not to be fazed by sharing a drink, but once or twice the idea made his thoughts drift into more mature territory that he quickly erased.
As they walked around, it was also hard to miss the way their hands would brush against each other constantly, as if begging to be held. Neither pointed it out though and there was no way Yanan would be the one doing so. There were also the curious gazes of the people around them that was hard to miss, no doubt revelling at the sight of two tall, handsome Chinese boys. Normally, it would have made Yanan want to head back inside the comfort of him home.
Right now, his focus was mainly on the gorgeous boy beside him.
“No way,” Junhui said, eyes wide. “You’re really going to eat that scorpion?”
“It’s just a scorpion,” Yanan replied, deadpan.
“It’s a scorpion.”
The taller boy made it a point that there be a loud crunch sound as he took a bite, laughing at the wince on Junhui’s features. He was immensely more relaxed now than when the day started, finding it easier to be around Junhui. They made small talk as they walked around, topics ranging from work related stuff to some more personal things, like their families. It was surprisingly comfortable and easy, even for someone as shy as Yanan.
They ate a little bit of everything all the way past lunch time. Both too full to eat a proper meal, they decided to ease off some of the weight by walking around the nearby park instead.
Without eating as an activity, there was a silence that fell upon them.
One that, as expected, Junhui had to break.
“So,” the brunette began to say. “What will it take for you to ride a rollercoaster with me one day?”
Yanan scoffed, “over my dead body.”
“Come on,” Junhui whined, but there was a teasing grin on his face. “It’ll be fun! I promise nothing bad would happen to you.”
“I don’t really trust you.”
“I’m wounded,” he replied, clutching at his chest as if he was just shot. “After all we’ve been through, Yanan?”
“We only met a few days ago, though,” Yanan ended up saying, soon unable to stop the smile that graced his face at the sight of Junhui acting so cute. The latter acted like a child often, but it was different when he was putting on a show for the whole project team and when it was just the two of them. This Junhui was a lot more reserved, actually. Still weird and random and flirty, but there were moments of quiet when he just felt calm.
Overall, Yanan was beginning to feel like he was liking Wen Junhui more and more.
“But I’ve heard of you before,” Junhui said, catching him by surprise. He seemed unaware of the way he suddenly began to ramble on. “Yeah, I remember seeing you on our department’s floor once. I asked around since I thought you were a model I just haven’t met, but it turned out you were a designer. Did you know I’ve actually been in charge of a few of your designs before? They’re always so elegant, like an angel created them.”
“You’re too much,” the taller boy muttered, feeling an embarrassed blush spread across his face.
“Thank you,” he opted to say instead of denying things further, meaning it sincerely.
The two words were enough to make Junhui smile as they continued walking around. At some point, their hands brushed more often than it did before. They could no longer blame the crowd for how closely they were walking next to each other this time unlike back at the food fair, since the park was only filled with a handful of other people. Once or twice, it crossed Yanan’s mind to just take Junhui’s hand in his.
In the middle of deciding whether he should, it turned out he didn’t have to make the decision himself.
As their hands brushed more deliberately than before, Yanan felt the other boy grasp his hand, their fingers easily slotting into place. He couldn’t help but stop in the middle of his tracks and slightly lift their hands up between them in shock. When his eyes landed on Junhui, it made him feel better to find that the brunette also had a blush of his own present despite the bold action. Junhui also had a shy smile on his face as he spoke.
“Can I walk you home?”
(Error 404: Yanan still not found.)
“Uhm, sorry, maybe I shouldn’t have—“ The brunette moved to let go, but couldn’t since their hands were still tightly locked.
"I-it's just," Yanan sputtered, still in disbelief as he stared at their intertwined fingers, feeling the heat rise towards the tip of his ears. "I never imagined this happening."
"I've thought about holding your hand a lot," Junhui replied cheerfully.
The flirty comment was eventually what pulled the taller boy out of his daze long enough to respond normally. Sure, his heart was still racing at least a thousand beats per second, his cheeks were fuming hot and tinged pink, but at least he wasn’t alone in what he was feeling. With how closely linked their wrists were as well, he could feel Junhui’s pulse against his. He finally let out a shaky breath of laughter, brought forth from his awkwardness rising up.
“Sure, you can walk me home. Let’s go?”
The smile he received was, as always, distractingly bright.
Nobody had noticed, at first, when Junhui and Yanan arrived on the floor together the coming Monday. As the day went on, it became clear that Minghao picked something up along the way, since his face gained a teasing smile whenever he would pass by Junhui. It was followed shortly by Victor, of course, who loudly congratulated a flustered Yanan out of nowhere. At some point, even the head of the project dropped by their office.
“You’re welcome, but don’t let this affect work,” was all Longfei said before walking off.
“How did he know?” Junhui asked incredulously.
Yanan sighed, “I got a couple of texts from Zhennan. My bet’s on him.”
Ever since they went out, it was clear to see how much the dark haired boy had opened up. Previously known around the office as the quiet lady killer from Shanghai, even the other employees noted that there was a different glow about Yanan that day as he began to greet more people. Of course, for Junhui, it was a glow that had always been present; something he would happily tell the ladies in the water room if he were ever to see them there.
It wasn’t as loud and bold as others, but it was something new and worth noting, for sure.
“You’re telling me that you got a boyfriend out of this?” Jiacheng complained loudly to Junhui when the super project team all gathered around the large table to eat lunch, as he found himself sitting across the two in particular. He feigned a look of hurt, “and I had to find out from Eric. Xingzhe, of all people! He doesn’t even work with us! How did he know before I could? This is so unfair. Why am I the last to find out?”
“We’re not together,” Yanan surprisingly replied before the brunette could, which made the latter momentarily panic before the other boy continued. “I haven’t asked Jun to be my boyfriend yet, but I will.”
His statement was met with cat calls and hollers from all around them, including Minghao commenting about how much he was cringing from his head to his toes, wishing he was away from it all. Despite how his words could have been considered smooth, it became apparent from the way Yanan froze in the middle of getting food that he probably hadn’t meant to say all that out loud, nor did he actually realized what he was saying until it was out his mouth.
Junhui was likewise blushing as he laughed in delight, “I’m looking forward to it, then.”
Shortly after lunch, it was back to the work grind. It was easier for Junhui to work with Yanan around now that the two were no longer awkward around each other. He enjoyed especially so that he could now cling onto Yanan’s arm and complain about how bored he was waiting for the designs; he was met with a fond smile each time as the taller boy would make no attempt to shake him off.
In the middle of one of Junhui’s rants, someone appeared by their area holding a bouquet of flowers.
“For Wen Junhui?”
Albeit confused, he accepted the flowers anyway, telling the delivery boy thank you and bidding him good bye with only half of his focus actually on the other person. The card on the wrapping said it came from Eric’s flower shop and after a moment, everything clicked. So that’s how he knew. Junhui whirled around to face Yanan, who had made no comment the entire time and was instead humming softly to himself as he kept working on his sketchpad.
“Hm?” The dark haired boy asked, still not looking up from drawing.
“How did you even manage to get this delivered? Eric’s shop is always busy,” Junhui asked in awe, admiring the way the flowers were all in full bloom, their sweet scent filling the air around them. He walked closer to Yanan, placing the bouquet gently on the table nearby. With his arms once again free, he quickly latched himself onto the other boy’s side, clinging onto his arm and pulling him away from his work.
Thankfully, Yanan allowed himself to be moved, laughing softly. There was a blush on his cheeks that was present that meant he was far more shy than he would like to appear, which Junhui just wanted to kiss away, but soon realized that kissing would only lead to more blushing for both parties involved. Not to mention, they had only just started whatever it was they had. For as much as Junhui jokingly flirted around, he was terribly weak around people he liked.
Case in point, his heart couldn’t help but skip a beat when Yanan shyly, but surely, raised a hand and ruffled the back of Junhui’s hair.
“I called in a favour since we’re working with him,” Yanan answered. “I had to tell him everything that happened the other day in exchange, though.”
“Who knew you were so sweet?” Junhui teased, unable to help the way his cheeks flushed at the contact. He was glad that at least his voice didn’t crack from how surprised he was at the sudden change of demeanour. His thoughts momentarily drifted back to his first few observations about Yanan; he was definitely not wrong when he felt like there was something hidden underneath the taller boy’s surface. Something he just wanted to uncover.
The brunette grinned teasingly, “so, how much more of you am I going to see? Do you have a wild side?”
It took a few seconds for the innuendo to click in Yanan’s head, making the boy blush a bright red that made Junhui laugh despite the way his own cheeks were warm.
“I’m kidding,” he said in between giggles. “Thank you for the flowers.”
“You’re welcome,” Yanan said after he managed to calm himself down as well, smiling sincerely as he did so. He really did look like he was an angel sent to Earth sometimes, Junhui mused to himself from where he stood so closely to the other boy. It was hard not to get lost in the other’s deep eyes and gentle smile, but he had to try his best to keep from being distracted for too long. As if reading his mind, Yanan chuckled, “now let me get back to work.”
Wen Junhui dutifully followed, taking a step back and choosing instead to admire the other boy from a safe distance as he worked on other designs in the meantime.
Later on in the day, Samuel dropped by their space with a wide smile. He congratulated the two and apologized that it was so late, since Zhennan had only just explained to him what was going on around the office. He said something about it was a long time coming, which only succeeded in making the two older boys blush. However, it also succeeded in making Junhui wonder—what did he mean by that, when they had only just met?
Perhaps he should ask Yanan one of these days.