Pei Ming was going insane.
Recently, he’s been finding little notes in the cups he’s been using. They were usually taped to the holders of the cups, and Pei Ming had raised the first cup to his lips before the shine of tape caught his eye and he’d put the cup back down, amusedly picking apart the tape and unraveling the delicately folded note.
The first note he had seen had said, and he had nearly choked:
How about dinner tonight?
His interest had been piqued; clearly someone in this office was trying to ‘subtly’ ask another out.
Pei Ming wasn’t sure if it was because he was now more aware that he seemed to find more notes, or there really were so many notes. He saw a note practically once every two days, and he could’ve missed some too.
Pei Ming found it weird that all the notes that he had found seemed to only come from one person, was it a tragic case of unrequited feelings??? Of course, Pei Ming had never felt what it was like, but he could assume just from watching Quan Yizhen.
He had to get to the bottom of this, after he had found the letters ranging from your clothes really fit you today to I have a faint inkling you’re not reading any of these notes.
So, as weird as it sounded, Mei Nian Qing and Jun Wu have this thing where they regularly brought each other coffee cups.
Perhaps Mei Nian Qing bringing Jun Wu coffee wasn’t too weird, with him being the big boss and all, but to have Jun Wu personally deliver coffee to him in his office? That, Mei Nian Qing found a little weird.
But, well, it’s not like it mattered, as if Mei Nian Qing would point out the oddities of their arrangement and risk it breaking apart just because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut.
He liked Jun Wu choosing to spend time with him instead of doing literally anything else, like the paperwork Mei Nian Qing had assumed was atypical of businessmen in high standings such as Jun Wu.
Surprisingly enough, every time Mei Nian Qing stepped into Jun Wu’s office, apologies on the tip of his tongue for interrupting Jun Wu’s no doubt busy schedule, Jun Wu’s table would be miraculously cleared of anything pertaining to work. Hell, Mei Nian Qing could drape himself over the table and still have space.
That wasn’t important. The thing was, he and Jun Wu have been spending more time together lately, and it was starting to make Mei Nian Qing feel weird. It wasn’t as if Mei Nian Qing could exactly pinpoint what was it he was feeling.
He has never felt anything like this before, having spent many years practically being a monk and above worldly desires. He had dodged questions about relationships, people asking him out, concerns on the longevity of his virginhood, all so he could work for Jun Wu and start questioning everything he’s ever felt.
Somehow, Jun Wu had the ability to make him feel things he didn’t know he could.
Back to the point. Jun Wu and Mei Nian Qing, after having worked together for years, suddenly started bringing coffee to each other, and have been doing so for a month. Jun Wu had started it.
Jun Wu had brought a cup to Mei Nian Qing in the morning, when the other had been barely alive, and it was only after Mei Nian Qing had blearily drank the cup when he realized who was it who had actually brought him the cup. Jun Wu was smiling at him enigmatically, and stunned, Mei Nian Qing could only feel heat warming his cheeks. Easily enough, Jun Wu pretended he had not been watching Mei Nian Qing throughout the entirety of him drinking the coffee, and struck up a conversation.
Thus, Jun Wu would bring one cup to Mei Nian Qing in the morning, and Mei Nian Qing would return the favor by the afternoon. It was a simple arrangement, and one Mei Nian Qing found he looked forward to each day.
Oddly enough, sometimes Mei Nian Qing would pick up a hint of expectation in Jun Wu’s eyes, before that glint faded in something almost like disappointment when Mei Nian Qing spoke to him the same way he always did.
It made Mei Nian Qing wonder if he did something wrong, but Jun Wu’s expression would quickly smooth out, as if nothing had even happen, and the conversation would pick up as it had always. Mei Nian Qing had assumed he was imagining things, yet it happened far too often for it too be a figment of his imagination. He wasn’t that old, after all.
Pouring two packets of sugar into Jun Wu’s cup — he knew Jun Wu liked sweet things — Mei Nian Qing headed to Jun Wu’s office.
Readying to push the door open with his elbow so as to not spill the drinks, he blinked in surprise when Jun Wu was already at the door, smiling at him gently as he held the door open.
“Thank you,” Mei Nian Qing said, smiling back.
Jun Wu hummed pleasantly when he took a sip, and said, “Luo Corporations is sending a representative today, and I would, ah, prefer if Pei Ming was kept busy, so as to not disturb anyone .”
Mei Nian Qing stifled a laugh at Jun Wu’s pained expression. “I’ll see if I can do something about it,” he said.
“Mm. My thanks.”
As awkward as silences were, Mei Nian Qing didn’t find the following silence off-putting at all, rather, it was a rare moment of peace together in quiet comfort, one that Mei Nian Qing rarely could indulge in with the hectic schedule of office life.
“Have you heard of the mahjong convention coming this Saturday?” Jun Wu suddenly asked, catching Mei Nian Qing off-guard.
“Ah?” Mei Nian Qing had been too busy to keep track, but he hadn’t heard of any conventions coming soon. “I haven’t heard of any conventions,” he said, mentally thinking of who he could go with.
He knew some of his friends might be free, should he ask them later?
Lost in his own thoughts, he completely failed to see Jun Wu’s fond expression. “Mei Nian Qing,” Jun Wu called him back to attention, “Will you be attending?”
Mei Nian Qing wouldn’t miss a mahjong convention for the world. “Of course, say, Jun Wu, who do you think would be interested in going?”
Jun Wu looked at him, amused. “I have an idea,” he said. He was looking at Mei Nian Qing in a way that made Mei Nian Qing’s face heat up.
“Really? Who?” He couldn’t quite keep the excitement off his face; he wouldn’t have expected another person to be as interested in mahjong as he was.
A wrinkled formed between Jun Wu’s brows. “Mei Nian Qing, I’m talking ab-“
“Jun Wu.” Ling Wen barged in the office. “This is important.”
If Mei Nian Qing wasn’t imagining things, he might’ve thought Jun Wu seemed annoyed.
“I’ll see you later,” Jun Wu said, almost resigned. Ling Wen gave him a nod as Mei Nian Qing left.
During his break, Pei Ming rushed to where all the cups were stored, carefully scanning each one for the shine of tape.
When he finally found the one cup with a note, he grinned, only to nearly jump out of his skin at the sound of another voice.
“Pei Ming,” Shi Wudu said disapprovingly, “what are you doing?”
Pei Ming flailed. “Nothing,” he said, moving the hand holding the note behind his back.
Shi Wudu looked overwhelmingly unimpressed. “Pei Ming.”
“Just-“ Cutting himself with a sigh, Shi Wudu said, as pained as one would be after years of being friends with the extreme manwhore known as Pei Ming, “Don’t do anything stupid.”
Pei Ming winked at him. “Of course not, bro.”
Shi Wudu didn’t look reassured, but Pei Ming knew him well enough to know that he trusted him enough to not get himself killed. Besides, in Pei Ming’s opinion, between the two of them, Pei Ming had always thought Shi Wudu would be the one to die first.
Checking to make sure Shi Wudu wasn’t watching him anymore, Pei Ming carefully peeled the tape off, unraveling the folded note.
I would like to see you again tonight, after work.
Even Pei Ming was astounded at the pure shamelessness in these words. Anyone could see them? Was the person writing unafraid of everything?
The curiosity was biting at Pei Ming; he had to know who was the one sending all of these. It was the most interesting thing to happen in this office so far, and considering the person he sat next to was the boring Mei Nian Qing Qing, Pei Ming had nothing to do everyday. Honestly, Pei Ming was surprised no one had brought up the notes yet. Surely someone else came across of these notes? He placed the note in a compartment in his desk, among four others.
Well, it was time to investigate.
Pei Ming started with the person he thought most likely to send such notes in the office.
“Hua Cheng! Nice to see you,” Pei Ming greeted.
“What do you want.” Hua Cheng’s tone was clipped, his trademark smirk almost belying the utter boredness from his tone.
“Have you…” Pei Ming paused, wondering how he ought to delicately phrase it, “written anything lately?”
“Like the fanfictions you write?”
“Excuse me,” Pei Ming said, affronted, “those are works of art.”
“Whatever the case may be, why are you asking me this question?” Hua Cheng seemed close to closing up the conversation, so Pei Ming had to quickly strike, “Did you write love notes to your Xie Lian?”
Hua Cheng closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. Pei Ming, ever the wise one, knew when the conversation was sliding towards homicide.
“I guess this is where our conversation ends,” Pei Ming said, fleeing from the scene.
Well, that was one pair crossed off. Pei Ming severely doubted Xie Lian’s ability to be that blatantly obvious.
It was a lot easier to question Shi Qingxuan, especially since he was such a bad liar, and practically wore his emotions on his sleeve.
“Pei Ming!” Shi Qingxuan beamed at him, while Ming Yi, to his side, ignored him in favor of eating. “What can I do for you?”
Pei Ming had always wondered how a stuck up, money minded, dignified older brother Shi Wudu has managed to be related to someone as charismatic and cheerful as Shi Qingxuan.
“I’ve been wondering if you’ve seen any, ah, notes being passed around?”
By the glint in Shi Qingxuan’s eyes, he knew exactly what Pei Ming was talking about.
“Hm, yes, in fact, I have one right here,” Shi Qingxuan said, patting Ming Yi on the shoulder. Ming Yi pulled out a note from his pocket, passing it to Pei Ming before resuming his feast.
“It’s torn,” Pei Ming said.
“Oops,” Ming Yi said, with no feeling.
“Ming-xiong!” Shi Qingxuan berated, starting to whack Ming Yi, “I asked you to hold it for me! Did you eat it?”
Ming Yi didn’t reply.
“I’m very sorry,” Shi Qingxuan said sadly, “I don’t remember the exact words either. It was something like “I wish we could spend more time together”.”
“But!” Shi Qingxuan’s grin broadened, “Who do you think could be sending these, though? It’s so romantic,” he said.
“I have no idea,” Pei Ming admitted, “that’s why I’m asking around now.”
“Hehe, I wish you good luck!”
Pei Ming walked by Jun Wu’s office, paused, and shook his head.
No way , he thought, his boss didn’t even seem to smile unless it was for politeness, there was no way he could be the ones sending the notes. Who could he even send to?
He decided to stop when it was nearly after office hours and he had basically interrogated half of the people in the office, most of which tried their best to ignore him, but couldn’t.
He arrived to work the next day in anticipation, already looking forward to whatever notes might hint at the owner.
The first person he decided to talk to, to discover the secrets of the notes, was Quan Yizhen, a friend of his that he’s always felt more like a weird uncle to.
He certainly knew how...naive Quan Yizhen could be, and how much he wanted to see Yin Yu at all times, so maybe someone told Quan Yizhen that sending Yin Yu little notes was a good idea?
Pei Ming gripped Quan Yizhen by his shoulders, “Yizhen, have you been writing notes and passing them through coffee cups?”
“I what?” Quan Yizhen asked, confused.
“I guess not,” Pei Ming said.
“Is that what I should be doing? Should I do that so that he would talk to me?” Quan Yizhen didn’t even need to specify who the ‘he’ was, everyone knew.
“Uh,” Pei Ming said, feeling the regret wear down at him, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“I know he drinks tea everyday,” Quan Yizhen said, lost in his own world, “Then I should write him notes! And pass them through tea cups!”
I am so sorry, Yin Yu , Pei Ming thought.
Pei Ming walked into the break room, where his two coworkers, Feng Xin and Mu Qing,
were having a nice, civil conversation.
“Fuck you,” Feng Xin said.
“Fuck you,” Mu Qing said.
Pei Ming didn’t even bother.
He considered that Feng Xin might be the one sending the notes to a certain female coworker, but then again, Feng Xin was way too brash for that sort of delicate little action, unlike Pei Ming, of course.
Ling Wen was one of the last people he’d suspect, but he figured if anyone knew about all the papers in the office, it would be Ling Wen. Plus, he had to deliver some files to her anyways.
Xie Lian had very kindly pointed to Pei Ming the direction of where Ling Wen was, that was, when he wasn’t making love-dovey eyes at Hua Cheng, anyways.
He hummed on his way, the lunch break leaving the office far too quiet for his taste.
The faint talking he could hear as he approached grew louder in volume, dimly, he could hear Ling Wen’s clear voice, “Yes. I’d be happy to.”
Ling Wen’s hands were in Jun Wu’s, with his boss giving the most tender smile Pei Ming had ever seen in his life. What the hell did he just walk into?
The files in his hands dropped to the floor, the loud sound making both Ling Wen and Jun Wu flinch, whipping their heads around to stare at the shellshocked Pei Ming.
“Fuck. I’m going to lose so much money,” he said. There was a betting pool around that office about their enigmatic boss, with most people betting that he was dating Ling Wen, but Pei Ming thought he just didn’t date. Anytime Pei Ming brought up the topic of women, Jun Wu would look close to deducting his salary, even though he was still smiling.
“Pei Ming, don’t misunderstand,” Ling Wen was quick to defend herself, which Pei Ming found very suspicious, “Boss here was only trying to practice.”
Of all the things Pei Ming had expected to hear coming from Ling Wen, he didn’t expect this. “Uh, what?” He said, dumbly.
“Practice.” Ling Wen repeated slowly, as if Pei Ming was a child. “For his actual conf-“
“I think that’s enough, Ling Wen,” Jun Wu interrupted, pinching the bridge of his nose in exasperation. Ling Wen had a faint smile on her lips.
“Purely work related,” Ling Wen said.
“Of course,” Jun Wu narrowed his eyes. “Nothing else.”
“I’m still here,” Pei Ming said.
“Go back to work,” both Ling Wen and Jun Wu said in unison.
Pei Ming decided to have a very confused lunch instead.
On his way out, he nearly crashed into his desk mate in his dazed state. “Are you alright?” Mei Nian Qing had asked, concerned, but Pei Ming only replied with, “Jun Wu is dating Ling Wen,” much to his confusion and, perhaps, disappointment. The hands holding the cups of coffee trembled slightly.
“I see,” he said, too late for Pei Ming had already walked away, and too stunted.
Ling Wen was sitting at her desk, focused, but the second Mei Nian Qing looked at her, she looked up and their eyes met. He could only feel more lost when Ling Wen turned her head away from him, her shoulders shaking.
“Mei Nian Qing,” Ling Wen said, after she had composed herself, and Mei Nian Qing pretended he hadn’t been a little more than uncomfortable with the thought of what Pei Ming said being true. He supposed, out of everyone, Ling Wen did fit Jun Wu the most, afterall, even if he didn’t want to admit it.
“Boss wants to see you, in his office.”
“I was already on my way,” Mei Nian Qing said.
“Good. It would be best if it was immediately. Right this second. Please, and thank you.” Ling Wen replied.
“Ah...okay,” Mei Nian Qing trailed off, definitely confused now with Ling Wen’s strange behaviour.
Jun Wu smiled at him when he entered, and it was this sort of familiarity that eased the discomfort in Mei Nian Qing’s chest.
“Coffee, again,” Mei Nian Qing said.
“Thank you,” Jun Wu reached out both hands to receive the cup, his fingers lightly grazing over Mei Nian Qing’s, sending sparks of electricity dancing over his skin. He nearly dropped the cup.
Even though Mei Nian Qing thought the silence between them now was the usual, there seemed to be a stretch of tension in Jun Wu, his gaze distant and far off in thought.
Thinking back on Ling Wen’s words and the trace of a knowing smirk, plus the odd conversation yesterday, and the fact that the expectant look in Jun Wu’s eyes seemed to be even more evident now, Mei Nian Qing couldn’t help but feel like he had been missing out on something important.
“Mei Nian Qing,” Jun Wu said, suddenly, catching Mei Nian Qing’s attention, his tone low, yet steady.
“We’ve known each other for a long time,” Jun Wu continued. An understatement, Mei Nian Qing thought, but he could forgive him. As if they haven’t had years, decades , of history, sometimes not pretty, but always returning to each other’s side.
“You’ve been at my side for most,” Jun Wu nearly stumbled at the word, “of it, but I’ve always been grateful for your presence.”
Mei Nian Qing’s face was heating up.
“Mei Nian Qing,” Jun Wu murmured, and Mei Nian Qing’s breath hitched at the sheer longing in Jun Wu’s eyes, “I would very much enjoy it, if you, that is, went to dinner with me.”
Mei Nian Qing wasn’t so oblivious that he didn’t know the implications of those words.
No doubt his smile was showing his happiness, as he hurriedly nodded.
What time should we arrive at the convention? Jun Wu wrote, sticking the note onto the cup of coffee and bringing it to Mei Nian Qing.
It had been a few weeks of sending notes into the void before he had finally confessed to Mei Nian Qing. Mei Nian Qing had been horrified that he hadn’t noticed any form of notes, too exhausted in the morning to see anything, but Jun Wu hadn’t seemed upset, only amused.
“Now,” he had declared, “you can write notes too.”
“This is...not the best form of communication,” Mei Nian Qing said, unwrapping the note while Jun Wu watched him do it, yet he couldn’t quite keep the smile off his face.
“It’s effective,” Jun Wu replied. It really wasn’t, but it wasn’t as if Mei Nian Qing was going to argue back. He was about to smile and say something when he caught Ling Wen’s eyes, to Jun Wu’s left. Ling Wen looked positively exhausted and done of life.
For once, Mei Nian Qing felt a tinge of embarrassment, he wasn’t a lovestruck highschool girl, for god’s sake.
“I’ll pick you up this weekend, then,” Jun Wu said finally. Mei Nian Qing waited until he walked away, and put his face in his hands.
How was Jun Wu able to make him feel this way? How could he be so calm and composed even while Mei Nian Qing was barely resisting the urge to flee for two thousand years?
When Pei Ming returned to his desk one day, there was a steaming hot cup of coffee on his desk.
The only other person around was Ling Wen. “Ling Wen, did you bring me this cup?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Ling Wen replied.
It probably wasn’t poison, right? Pei Ming wouldn’t ever say no to coffee.
Of course, as if life was mocking him, there was a note on the cup.
Meet me by the copying machine tonight.
This was way too much of a coincidence.
Was...was this directed at him?
Maybe all along, all the notes were for him. Pei Ming had been having his suspicions, but this final cup of coffee was the last puzzle piece.
Why would he have gotten so many of the notes?
If Pei Ming was correct, that means he had been ignoring the person who had been sending him all these notes. Someone had actually took the time and effort to write so many little notes for him, yet he hadn’t replied a single time.
He had to make amends. Lucky for him, he just so happened to have a bottle of wine and two glasses in his desk.
Perhaps he could invite the woman for a drink?
Most of the others have already left. The sky was already dark, yet Pei Ming was filled with anticipation.
Honestly, there weren’t many other women in the office, but Pei Ming knew he could catch the eyes of a few.
When he approached the copying machine, another person was already standing there, back turned to him.
Pei Ming stared at him. Jun Wu turned around, and stared back.
“You...uh, waiting for someone?” Pei Ming winced.
His eyes trailed to the bottle of wine and wine glasses in Jun Wu’s hands. Likewise, Jun Wu’s eyes were also on the bottle of wine and wine glasses in Pei Ming’s hands.
They stared at each other. The silence was long, awkward, and so very, very painful.
Eventually, without a word, Jun Wu turned to leave.
Pei Ming never did get to find out who was the woman who sent him those notes.
It took him a week before a sudden thought struck him during work.
He hurriedly grabbed a piece of paper he knew Jun Wu had written on, comparing the handwriting, and his heart sank.
Oh no, Jun Wu was in love with him.
Hurriedly, he rushed over to Ling Wen, who seemed too tired to deal with him, but had no choice because they were friends.
“Ling Wen!” He hissed, “I think Jun Wu is in love with me!”
The raw, unadulterated look of “Are you a fucking dumbass?” on Ling Wen’s face nearly made Pei Ming wonder if he was wrong.
“Pei Ming,” Ling Wen said, faintly murderously, but definitely exhausted, “You’re wrong. Go back to work.”
“No no, listen,” Pei Ming started describing all the notes he had been getting, and the many times he’s caught Jun Wu looking in his direction.
“He wasn’t looking at you,” Ling Wen said, seeming to give up all pretense of working at all. “He was looking at your desk mate.”
“What?” Pei Ming choked, ludicrous, “That old man?”
“Pei Ming,” Ling Wen scowled, “You do know Shi Wudu is in charge of finances, right? Imagine if he saw what you were doing now. Imagine what Jun Wu would say, hearing you gossip.”
Pei Ming shut up.
Let’s do it 7 times tonight.
What the absolute fuck , Pei Ming thought, reading the note.
Face bright red, Mei Nian Qing snatched the piece of paper away from Pei Ming’s hands, far too late.