Yibo wiped his palms on his pants. The two piece suit he wore was a dark gray, accented with glitter in its fabric. As the night went on, the glitter peppered his hands more and more until he couldn’t get away with touching anything without leaving some shiny remnants behind.
Next to him, he even spotted some vague handprints of glitter on Xiao Zhan’s sleeves.
“Yibo, what day are you leaving?” Xiao Zhan asked, leaning towards him.
“The 29th,” Yibo replied. He turned to look at Xiao Zhan, thinking he saw a speck on his cheek. How’d that get there?
“What are you doing on the 28th then?”
“The 28th? Isn’t tonight the 28th?” Yibo smirked at Xiao Zhan’s confusion, watching as he furrowed his eyebrows before breaking out into a soft laugh. These days, Yibo couldn’t help but think that Xiao Zhan had the prettiest of smiles and laughed along with him.
A few minutes passed as they settled back down in silence. The awards show was nearing an end as the executive producers of Tencent started to thank the audience and the many celebrities for attending.
“Do you want to hang out after this?” Xiao Zhan asked. “We can go back to my hotel.”
“Hey, don’t let any of the fans hear you say that,” Yibo joked. “They’re just waiting for a scandal to erupt.”
“Yeah, because playing video games in the same hotel room is so scandalous,” Xiao Zhan humored Yibo back before thinking deeply and changed his tone. “Are the fans bothering you more lately? Don’t let them get to your head. You don’t have to worry about it being weird between us. The fans just like to mess around.”
Yibo tried to ignore the disappointment pooling in his stomach and painted a smile on his face. “Yeah, the fans are a bit crazier than normal lately. If they see me following you home tonight it’s gonna start some rumors.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Xiao Zhan said reassuringly. “It’s not like we have anything to hide.”
Before long, the awards show ended and all of the guests started filing out. The celebrities tended to leave through the back door to avoid the hoards of paparazzi and fans out front. However, having learned from past experiences, the fans had the whole building flanked, ready to catch a last glimpse of their favorite celebrities from any exit.
As Xiao Zhan left in his car, he kept an eye on the rear view mirror to double check that Yibo’s car followed his. Through the thick windows of his car, he could see his fans still snapping pictures, professing excitedly their love and well wishes. He smiled back and waved.
“There’s a car following him!”
“Why is there a car following him?”
“Is it a stalker fan?”
“Xiao Zhan be careful!”
He chuckled to himself and texted Yibo.
老肖: They think you’re a stalker fan.
老王: I feel like one. Watch out.
老肖: You’re not invited anymore.
老王: Too late.
In his car, Yibo smiled cheekily.
Back in Xiao Zhan’s apartment the two settled into a comfortable rhythm of joking around, playing video games, and catching up on everything that had transpired since the last time they met up. Both of them had changed out of their suits into Xiao Zhan’s spare clothes, but Yibo had to manage with a pair of sweatpants that were a bit too long on him. Using the extra fabric at his feet, Yibo started to fool around, sliding back and forth on the hardwood floors, crashing into walls and even Xiao Zhan before he got scolded by the other.
“My pants are not your skateboard!” Xiao Zhan yelled at him. “Stop pretending to skate and go sit down while I finish cooking.”
Xiao Zhan soaped his hands for the third time and rinsed vigorously. “Yah, Wang Yibo, your glitter won’t come off.”
Hearing this, Yibo got an idea. He shuffled into the kitchen, hiding the offensive jacket behind his back. “I’m so sorry Zhan-ge. Blame my stylist. How did I know I would be a human glitter bomb tonight?”
Xiao Zhan noticed the unusually placid smile on Yibo’s face and was immediately suspicious. He turned off the faucet and wiped his hands with a paper towel. “What are you doing? What’s behind your back?”
“Zhan-ge, why do you suspect me of anything?” Yibo pulled the sides of his mouth into a large, flat smile and stepped closer to Xiao Zhan. “I just wanted to watch you cook!”
“Yibo, I’m warning you. I’m not going to feed you anymore if you do this.” Xiao Zhan maintained eye contact and gave Yibo a warning look. He extended the wet paper towel in front of him as a lame attempt at a shield.
With each step forward Yibo took, Xiao Zhan took one back until he was flush against the wall.
“Ge, don’t be scared. It’s only…my jacket!” Yibo shouted and jumped towards Xiao Zhan with his jacket outstretched in front of him. Yibo skillfully dodged the paper towel thrown his way and continued to charge forward. He tried to rub the jacket into Xiao Zhan’s hair, fighting against the other’s arms pushing him away. Through his jacket he could feel Xiao Zhan’s hands find his wrists and tried to wiggle out of his grasp. Although the jacket blocked Xiao Zhan’s face, the giddy laughs Yibo heard fueled his imagination as he pictured Xiao Zhan with his eyes pressed closed, both in defense and as a result of a helpless, wide smile as he struggled to get away from the glitter attack.
“Wang Yibo! Bo-di! Lao Waaang!!” Xiao Zhan yelled through each nickname he had for Yibo, even yelling through every Chen Qing Ling name he could remember.
“Lan er gege!”
The familiar nickname caused Yibo to shiver. He hadn’t heard Xiao Zhan call him ‘Lan Er Gege” since the last summer when they were on set filming. The pet name never made it into the script due to the censorship, but that didn’t stop Xiao Zhan from using it whenever the cameras were off to tease him.
Sensing the other’s brief pause, Xiao Zhan threw off Wang Yibo’s grip and tried to launch himself off of the wall. The movement gained Yibo’s attention and he quickly turned around, throwing his right arm around Xiao Zhan’s waist to pull him back. Yibo miscalculated how much force he needed, and Xiao Zhan slammed into his own body. The impact knocked the air out of Xiao Zhan, sending him into a coughing fit against Yibo’s chest. Yibo’s breath hitched as he felt each of Xiao Zhan’s coughs echo through his body at a staccato. He felt a familiar heat crawl up his back and cursed the heavens because he didn’t mean for his body to respond this way.
“Yah, Wang Yibo, are you done playing now?” Xiao Zhan finally said once he regained his breath. He was still pressed against the other’s body. Due to the proximity, Yibo could see that the glitter had showered all over Xiao Zhan’s hair and had even invaded his neckline.
“How long are you going to hold me for?” Xiao Zhan asked and tried to release himself from Yibo’s hold.
Still trying to calm his body, Yibo panicked and stopped Xiao Zhan from turning around. The arm he had wrapped around Xiao Zhan’s waist tightened even more and in his hand he tensely held a full fist of Xiao Zhan’s shirt. “Don’t move,” he whispered. “Please.”
“Yibo? What’s wrong?” Xiao Zhan asked, voice full of concern. He tried to turn around again but Yibo dropped the jacket from his remaining hand and quickly grabbed Xiao Zhan’s wrist.
“Don’t turn around,” Yibo pleaded. His ears were a vibrant red now as his body reacted to holding Xiao Zhan even closer than before to prevent him from turning around. His face was flushed and he prayed Xiao Zhan couldn’t feel his heartbeat starting to race faster.
Yibo couldn’t see it, but confusion crossed Xiao Zhan’s face. Is Yibo upset that I used his Lan Wangji names? Wasn’t he mad about it on set, too? Damn… I can’t remember clearly…
“Yibo, are you mad that I called you Lan Wangji?”
Yibo’s heart leapt once more when he heard the name of his character spoken so softly in Xiao Zhan’s voice. As he replayed each of the nicknames Xiao Zhan called him in his head, he felt emotion after emotion, memory after memory, flood his mind. In no more than a few seconds, Wang Yibo recognized the feelings he had sealed away when he had said goodbye to Lan Wangji. Last summer, he had chalked it up to being too engrossed in his acting. That, like a proper actor, he had grown to love Wei Ying while in character. And that when he could no longer call out the other’s name or hold the other in his arms, that the sadness he was feeling was only because Lan Zhan’s heart was breaking, not his own.
“Wang Yibo?” Xiao Zhan prodded gently. “Why are you crying?”
Xiao Zhan was still a bit angry at Yibo’s antics until he heard the other start to sniffle. At first he thought he had heard wrong, but with a second sniffle following shortly after and discernibly deeper breaths, he confirmed that the boy behind him was definitely crying. When Yibo didn’t answer him, he stayed silent and waited for the other to speak first. As the minutes passed, Xiao Zhan noticed that Yibo’s grip around his left wrist had softened and that the arm wrapped around his waist had pulled him even closer to Yibo’s body, hugging tightly.
Instead of asking out loud again, Xiao Zhan moved his wrist out of Yibo’s grip and switched it so he now held the other’s hand in his. He guided both of their arms around the other side of his waist and reciprocated the hug. Xiao Zhan debated internally on what might have caused Yibo’s sudden shift in mood. He must be tired from all of the work, pressured from the amount of attention that he gained when the drama got popular beyond belief. After all, he was still so young, barely 22.
Yibo barely whispered his name, but Xiao Zhan immediately pulled himself out of his thoughts. “Mmm?” he answered, afraid to make too much noise in case Yibo stopped responding again.
“Do you ever think about…” Yibo paused. He spoke the last bit into the collar of Xiao Zhan’s back, as if he didn’t want the other to hear his question after all. His light breaths tickled Xiao Zhan’s neck and he couldn’t focus enough to discern what exactly Yibo had asked him.
“Do I ever think about what, Yibo?” Xiao Zhan prompted.
A few moments passed before Yibo asked again. “Do you ever think about last summer?”
“Last summer? You mean when we were filming?” Xiao Zhan was surprised at the question. “Of course I do. You should know that. I have last summer to thank for the success we have this year. And for all of the friends it brought me. Like you.”
Xiao Zhan added the last bit to reassure Yibo. He wanted the other to know that he treasured their bond, but the other only tensed in response. “Yibo, can I turn around now? Can you tell me what’s wrong?”
Yibo didn’t stop him this time as he turned around to face him. However, Yibo still refused to look at him. Xiao Zhan frowned. He had no idea how to deal with this side of Yibo.
“Do you ever think about Wei Ying and Lan Zhan?” Yibo interrupted him.
“About how…” Yibo took a deep breath and raised his voice, gaining a confidence he didn’t know he had and turned to look straight at Xiao Zhan. “About how much Wei Ying loved Lan Zhan at the end?”
Xiao Zhan barely processed the question. When Yibo turned to look at him, a familiar heat exploded in his chest. His head grew hazy as he studied Yibo’s expression. The intensity pouring from Yibo’s eyes bored straight into his heart. Everything felt familiar to him, the sincerity in Yibo’s eyes, the way his stomach tightened, the itch he had in his hand to reach out to the other. Everything felt familiar except for one thing. They were not on set. Yibo was not acting as Lan Zhan and he was not acting as Wei Ying.
“Xiao Zhan,” Yibo called his name softly and continued to whisper. “Did you ever… did you ever consider it?”
Yibo watched as Xiao Zhan’s expression changed a bit with each word he said. There was a healthy amount of glitter on Xiao Zhan’s face and each movement caused a glimmer, as if Yibo’s words carried a heat that could puncture skin. The silence started to drag and Yibo’s confidence began to fade. He looked away and breathed in sharply. “Sorry, I didn’t mean--”
He stopped when a careful hand lifted Yibo’s chin up and he saw that Xiao Zhan’s gaze was only inches away from his face. His heart raced again as he locked eyes with Xiao Zhan. With unwavering intensity, Xiao Zhan drew closer until soft lips landed gently on Yibo’s mouth. His eyes widened until he saw Xiao Zhan close his eyes and he shut his own shortly after. The kiss started slow, building in warmth as they started to nip back and forth, playing around with the pressure. Yibo felt Xiao Zhan’s hands leave his waist to cradle his face as he kissed deeper, kneading the back of Yibo’s neck in his hand.
He gasped as Xiao Zhan bit down on his lower lip. A warm tongue quickly followed the bite and swiped across his lip. Xiao Zhan kept abusing him in this way, switching between sucking and biting his lip, and the new combination of pain and pleasure caused his knees to buckle. He moaned as he tasted blood on his own tongue as Xiao Zhan kissed him with growing aggression. He clawed at the wall, trying to find something to hold onto and settled on fistfuls of Xiao Zhan’s sweatpants. He used the opportunity to pull Xiao Zhan closer to him and rolled his hips skillfully into the taller man. A low moan escaped from Xiao Zhan’s throat. They opened their eyes at the sound and for a brief moment, panicked internally at their actions. Xiao Zhan took in the sight of Yibo’s lips -- cherry red, swollen under the damage he had caused. Yibo took in the glisten of sweat on Xiao Zhan’s hairline and of glitter everywhere else.
“Yibo,” Xiao Zhan spoke first. “You asked me if I ever considered it.”
Yibo nodded. He was leaning so much on the wall, that he had to crane his neck to look up at Xiao Zhan.
“How could I not have considered it? Of course I did. Every time the director yelled cut and we entered a gray area. When you were suddenly Wang Yibo again and I was myself. I was myself but left with all of these feelings I had as Wei Wuxian. How could I not have projected those emotions onto me and you?” Xiao Zhan spoke furiously, breathlessly, staring at the man he had pinned against the wall. “Of course I considered it. But what was I supposed to do? Tell you that I was confused? That I couldn’t tell the difference between how I felt about you and how Wei Ying felt about Lan Zhan? There was no way I could tell you.”
Yibo shuddered at the intensity in front of him. At the same time, he could feel a smile creep up at the corner of his lips as he listened to Xiao Zhan confess his feelings.
“Yibo, what do you want me to say? This is… this is risky for the both us. Of course I considered it. But how could I let myself think about it seriously? How could I-?”
“Zhan-ge,” Yibo interrupted him. Xiao Zhan had a tendency of thinking too much. “战哥， 弟弟爱你.”
Yibo finally let himself smile fully as he watched Xiao Zhan get caught off guard once again. His face cycled through a myriad of expressions before settling on a soft smile and leaned in for another kiss. As Xiao Zhan drew away, Yibo pouted and shook his head. He reached out, grabbed Xiao Zhan’s shirt and pulled him back in for a deeper kiss. This time, Yibo was the first to bite the other’s lip and yelped as he felt Xiao Zhan push him all the way down to the floor. He wrapped his arms around the other’s neck and kept sliding down until his back was lying against the ground and he had Xiao Zhan crouching above him.
“Zhan-ge, let’s take this to your room,” Yibo suggested, wrapping his legs around Xiao Zhan’s waist. He hugged tightly and lifted himself from the floor until he dangled from Xiao Zhan’s neck and torso. “Let’s go.”
Xiao Zhan laughed brightly and Yibo thought he caught the shine of some glitter on his eyelashes. As Xiao Zhan lifted the two up and Yibo stared closer he decided that no, it wasn’t glitter. Xiao Zhan just had the prettiest eyes ever.
The next morning when Yibo has to leave early in the morning to catch a flight. As he’s rushing through airport security - cause of course he’s a bit late… he gets a text from Xiao Zhan…
老肖: Bitch...There’s glitter on my dick.
老王: It’s called branding, gege.