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Moratorium

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Lan Zhan had been dating Wei Ying for a month. It was Wei Ying who asked him out first, kissing Lan Zhan with his breath smelling like alcohol and spicy chips. Lan Zhan should have found an issue about it back then, but Wei Ying was kissing him, so he couldn't care less about underage drinking.

He started to love Wei Ying during their first year in high school. It was something he denied at first, and he released his frustration by sending Wei Ying in detention as much as he could.

With that not working, however, he resorted in ignoring the boy, which was far more difficult of a feat to accomplish because for some reason, Wei Ying started sticking close to him.

He guessed Wei Ying wanted to be friends. Knowing his classmate, Wei Ying was the type of person who couldn't ignore anyone who he thought needed help. He was nosy and made everyone's business his own. He probably felt bad for Lan Zhan's noticeable lack of friends, that was why he paid attention to him.

It didn’t take long for Lan Zhan to fall harder.

Wei Ying always looked beautiful. Even with his boisterous laughter and obnoxious grin, Lan Zhan couldn't find it in himself to look away, especially when Wei Ying would stare at him back, gaze so unwavering it brought chills up to his spine.

Lan Zhan had to tell himself everyday that he was not special. Every smile and every laugh Wei Ying gave him, other people had experienced it beforehand. The barest press of their shoulders together was nothing compared to Wei Ying's arm slung around someone else's back. Numerous girls must have been on the receiving end of his flowery remarks.

Lan Zhan was not special to Wei Ying, and he was getting used to it. Being by his side was already a miracle enough, so he should not ask for more.

But then, Wei Ying suddenly kissed him.

When Wei Ying asked to go out with him, Lan Zhan felt that he could cry. Maybe he did cry that time, and Wei Ying was just too kind to mention anything about it.

Lan Zhan was over the moon for a while, but as he went home that night, doubts had started to make their way through his heart. Why would Wei Ying want to go out with him? Out of a drunken whim? Just so he could break Lan Zhan's heart when he would eventually dump him? But Wei Ying was not someone so cruel to play with someone's feelings.

These seeds of insecurities started to spurt and take shape until Lan Zhan accepted his own irrevocable truth: Wei Ying was dating him out of pity.

After all, how could Wei Ying love someone like him? He's boring–Wei Ying had said so on numerous occasions–, he's cold, and he rarely smiled. People were scared of him. He was the total opposite of someone who was dazzling as Wei Ying.

Lan Zhan must have revealed his own feelings unconsciously, and instead of Wei Ying making fun of him, he decided to date him instead.

He should be more upset about it, but Lan Zhan knew Wei Ying was only doing it out of the goodness of his heart, so he couldn't bring himself to hate Wei Ying despite everything.

Instead, he wanted to free Wei Ying of his responsibility to him. He figured that Wei Ying wouldn't be able to initiate the break up without feeling bad, so Lan Zhan planned to take the matter into his own hands.

The interactions between the two of them were still the same as before they were dating, with the exception of hand holding whenever they ended up going home at the same time. They only kissed once– when Wei Ying confessed. The two of them hadn't found any opportunity, and Lan Zhan was afraid that he'd scare him away if his deep feelings were to be revealed through the kiss. Lan Zhan never had a relationship before, and had no idea how to act like a good boyfriend to Wei Ying.

It was for the best, he thought, too much of something he couldn't have might make him delusional.

"Lan Zhan!" Wei Ying jogged towards him, Jiang Cheng and some of their classmates trailing further behind the hallway. Classes just ended, and Lan Zhan was about to go to the library when Wei Ying called him. He nearly squinted his eyes at how bright Wei Ying looked, the way he beamed without even trying, and Lan Zhan remembered being told not to stare directly at the sun.

"Huaisang invited us to karaoke, let's go," Wei Ying said, his smile heavy with affection, making it difficult for Lan Zhan to say the next words.

"I can't."

"Why?"

"I need to study."

"We just finished our exams! Come on–" Wei Ying tried to hold his arm, but he shrugged him off before he could do so. His touches were always searing, not failing to make Lan Zhan want more, and even if he had the rest of his life to train himself out of loving Wei Ying, there were days that were harder than others. This was one of them.

"Don't touch me," he said, voice almost a growl, and the hurt that flashed on Wei Ying's face was something that would haunt him everyday.

"Why are you always saying no? You're too boring, Lan Zhan. Have fun once in a while! Aren't you scared that I might get bored of you?" Wei Ying laughed, with no apparent humor. The sound was too dry, too forced, and it was all because of him.

Lan Zhan knew this was his chance to end it.

"Then, should we break up?" he asked, tone surprisingly normal, and yet regret filled his lungs as the last word slipped past his mouth.

The scene looked like it was set in slow motion from then on. From Wei Ying's surprised face, his usual rosy cheeks draining of color, to the moist that started accumulating in his eyes. Lan Zhan felt the dread plummet in his stomach, the sensation bringing back the scene to its normal speed as the first droplet of tears stained Wei Ying's cheek.

"What's taking–" Lan Zhan heard Jiang Cheng cut himself off as he approached the two, taking in the sight of his brother with mouth agape. "You're crying...?"

Wei Ying shook his head furiously, before suddenly running off.

"What the fuck did you do?" Jiang Cheng's words to him rang in the air as Lan Zhan chased Wei Ying immediately, almost whirring past their classmates who stared dumbly at the scene.

"Wei Ying!" Lan Zhan called out as he pursued, almost losing sight of him numerous times, ignoring the shocked teachers he needed to bypass. Wei Ying was intent on running away, but Lan Zhan's own stubbornness was on par as he diligently went after him.

He caught up when they entered the school's forest, stopping just behind Wei Ying whose shoulders were slumped as he wiped his face aggressively, Lan Zhan's own heart being chipped piece by piece at every deep breath Wei Ying was trying to take.

He was at a loss on what to do. In the scenarios that had played in his mind when he thought to say those words, the possibility of Wei Ying crying never came up.

"How– how could you ask that?" Wei Ying broke the silence first, slowly turning around to face him, and Lan Zhan's response stuttered and fell away at how broken and sad he looked.

Instead, he blurted out. "Why are you crying?"

"Why," Wei Ying whispered, hands clenched on his sides as he tried to stop himself from shaking. "Why the fuck am I crying? You're breaking up with me! How could I not cry?"

"Wei Ying–"

"Did I do something wrong? Am I too much of a bother?" he asked desperately, and Lan Zhan started to walk towards him. For every step back he would take, Lan Zhan would walk two steps forward, steadily closing the distance between them. "Why did you accept my confession? Did you even like me?"

When Wei Ying was within his reach, Lan Zhan pulled him into an embrace, "I like you..."

Wei Ying pushed him away, stumbling as his heel hit a small rock. Lan Zhan tried to catch him but the two ended up falling on the grass. Wei Ying didn't seem to notice nor care as he asked, hands curled under Lan Zhan's collar. "So, why? Why did you ask me that? Was that a bad joke?"

Every word that came out of Wei Ying's lips was a punch to his gut, but Lan Zhan forced himself to answer. "You said I was boring–"

Wei Ying snapped, interjecting harshly. "So what if you are? I still enjoyed being with you. Do you think I'd hang out in the library with you for four hours if I didn't like it?"

That was undeniable. No matter how kind Wei Ying was, he was someone that wouldn't settle for something he didn't like to do. "You… you didn't look as happy as you are with others when you are with me."

Wei Ying's grasp on him got tighter, and Lan Zhan didn't know if that was the reason he felt suffocated, or the fact that he broke Wei Ying's heart. "Who are you to tell me what makes me happy or not?"

Lan Zhan stayed silent. He knew that whatever reason he would say would just sound like an excuse, which they were. All he did was to get stuck in his own insecurities, doubting Wei Ying's feelings for him in the process.

"All this time–" Wei Ying's voice broke, and Lan Zhan moved forward, as if wanting to catch him in his arms. Wei Ying slapped his hand. "Did you think I was just toying with you?"

He frantically shook his head, reaching out to hold Wei Ying's wrist tight, reassuring him, making sure that Wei Ying felt his conviction through his grip. "No! That's not it. I would never..."

But he knew Wei Ying would not believe him if he didn't say the truth, so he did. "I thought you were just pitying me," he explained. "I was wrong."

Wei Ying let him hold his wrist, lowering his head until it hit Lan Zhan's chest. "You're fucking stupid. Why would I date someone out of pity?"

Lan Zhan couldn't bring himself to answer, the feeling of guilt weighed heavily in his heart.

"I-I was so happy you agreed to go out with me that day… I really thought you were gonna punch me when I kissed you," Wei Ying's words were punctuated by hiccups, barely intelligible as he gave Lan Zhan's chest a headbutt. "I sobered up so fast when you said yes."

Lan Zhan gently tugged him back closer to his chest, wrapping his arms around trembling shoulders as Wei Ying started to cry in full force. "I love you, Lan Zhan. How could you say that? I'm really hurt."

It was those words that Lan Zhan needed to hear, that made him realize that Wei Ying had already given him everything, but he was too caught up in his own fears to notice.

"I don't want to break up. I never wanted to. Not really," Lan Zhan murmured against Wei Ying's hair as he rubbed his back. "I'm sorry for doubting you."

"Is that all you can say?"

It didn't take any time for Lan Zhan to understand what he meant. "I love you, Wei Ying," he said what he should have long ago. "I love you."

Lan Zhan kept on whispering to him, letting his feelings finally spill between them, and Wei Ying continued to cry until he couldn't.

"I'm not usually like this," Wei Ying said, harshly wiping his eyes with his arm when he calmed down. Lan Zhan carefully pulled his wrist and kissed his tear-streaked cheeks.

"Mn."

"I don't cry easily," he insisted.

"I know."

"I drank three cups of coffee this morning. That's probably why."

"That's not healthy."

Wei Ying pulled away to look up at him, and Lan Zhan felt his own eyes sting as he saw Wei Ying's rimmed with red and swollen. "You're the only one who's allowed to see this."

Lan Zhan paused, before kissing the skin below his eye. "...Jiang Cheng saw."

"I have no choice but to end him."

Lan Zhan kissed him right on the lips, the taste salty and sweet as Wei Ying slowly moved his mouth against him.

When they parted, Wei Ying looked up at him and his shy smile was every breath of fresh air Lan Zhan had ever taken, every precious moment he had ever held close to commit to memory.

"That's the first time you've kissed me," Wei Ying pointed out, and Lan Zhan stared as his tongue darted out unconsciously to lick his lower lip.

"It won't be the last." And before Wei Ying could utter a response, Lan Zhan kissed him again with his mouth open.

It was awkward and clumsy, with more clashing teeth than tongues, but Wei Ying wrapped his arms around his neck, fingers sliding through the hair on his nape, moaning as he enjoyed their lip lock unabashedly. This gave Lan Zhan the confidence to press closer, pulling Wei Ying to his lap and let him straddle his hips. Amidst their making out, both of them had forgotten that they were currently sitting in a forest, and still inside the school grounds.

Lan Zhan pulled away this time, giving Wei Ying's lower lip a nibble, and watched with fascination as he shivered slightly on his lap.

"Will you kiss me like that a lot?" Wei Ying asked breathlessly.

"Mn."

"Hug too?"

"Hug too," Lan Zhan promised. "Hold your hand as well."

Wei Ying grinned, his face still sunny despite the puffiness of his eyes, and pressed their foreheads together.

"I love you, Wei Ying," Lan Zhan whispered, the words lingering in the air between them, wonderful and sweet.

Wei Ying's cheek flushed at that, and he tried to turn away. "Lan Zhan– " he got interrupted by Lan Zhan's mouth against his jaw, whispering the same words, every phrase separated by butterfly kisses in between. "Wait– I know already!"

"Not enough," Lan Zhan muttered, kissing the apple of his cheek.

"What?"

"My words are not enough."

Wei Ying held his face between his palms, squishing him. "Can't you wait until my tears dried up?"

"No."

Wei Ying laughed. "Okay. We can't go back with my eyes looking like this, anyway," he said, hands moving down to play with the rumpled collar of Lan Zhan. "What do you want to do?"

Lan Zhan smiled as he pressed their lips back together, catching Wei Ying's grin in his mouth as they stumbled on the ground.