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Where the Line Is

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Sicheng sees the post when he’s lying in bed on an uneventful Friday night, in the middle of going through Jaehyun’s ‘Me’ instagram story highlights (again) — the one where he gathers all his selfies and little song cover snippets that he records in his dorm room when his roommate is out. He’s skimming his eyes over the way Jaehyun’s got his pinkish-brown hair styled up in a deliberately clean but messy way, one lone little strand hanging strategically over his forehead and brushing over his eyebrow (this was some months ago though, Jaehyun’s hair is back to black now), when he gets a DM from Ten.

 

tenlee_1001
lollll sicheng look what i found

 

Attached to his message is a link to a post. When Sicheng presses on it, he’s led to another instagram page. The username is a bunch of random letters and numbers haphazardly put together with no real meaning that Sicheng can decipher, and the photo Ten has linked him to is a picture of Sicheng in the library. He’s got his face and focus on his books, pen in his hand as he studies at one of the big tables at the corner of the library that no one really uses, his glasses perched low on his nose, face concentrated. Judging from his red jumper and white collared-dress shirt combo, this picture was taken just a few days ago. He’d know, because he vaguely remembers throwing the same red jumper into his laundry basket earlier this week after a good session in the library.

 

Behind Sicheng in the photo is a man sitting a few chairs down, face somewhat familiar but one that Sicheng can’t put a finger on yet. He’s got a thick set of dark, fluffy hair, clean in the way that it’s been slicked back but with some messiness like it’s been played with, ruffled and moved out of place. The man’s lips are thick, skin golden bronze, and his big, big eyes are staring directly at Sicheng in an almost theatrically longing way.

 

He’s quite handsome. But Sicheng doesn’t know who he is, so his eyes dart down to the caption below the photo.

 

@4_lulucascas_99 why is lucas looking at dong sicheng like he’s his whole world? i cant believe i caught such a perfect moment on camera’

 

Sicheng cocks an eyebrow. Then he realises, releasing a quiet little oh.

 

His assumption is confirmed when he clicks on the profile and sees the feed of the unknown, grey-faced profile filled with pictures of the same man that was in the photo behind Sicheng. Attending a prestigious arts school in high bustling Beijing only meant that it was littered with talented, handsome and pretty faces that were bound to make it into the entertainment world as actors, singers, idols. Many of them, like Sicheng himself, are already agency recruits, and it’s all a matter of finishing their degrees before they can make their official debuts. And in such an environment they’re also bound to gather a few admirers here and there.

 

Sicheng’s had his share of people posting pictures and stories of his face, usually low quality and blurry, obviously taken in a rush to catch a glimpse of him, with captions like ‘he really looks like that in real life’, ’i managed to take a photo!! when you become famous, this photo will become famous too!!’. But he’s never had a whole page dedicated to him, much less of photos that are fansite-level quality. However after a brief look through the profile, Sicheng is unsurprised that somebody with such a face and physique like this Lucas has a page made just for him.

 

What Sicheng is surprised at though, is why he’s in one of the photos on a Lucas page, and why this photo with him in it is the post with the most engagement within the whole profile, with over a thousand likes and a few hundred comments. He glances briefly at the timestamp — it was posted three hours ago. He clicks ‘see more’ in the comments section and raises his eyebrows at the stuff he finds. 

 

@aeridori112 this visual explosion…thank you for blessing us with this photo op

 

@Luv_Lucas Potential power couple in the making?

  • @mina_xx GOODDDD CAN U IMAGINEEEE HOW POWERFUL THEY’D BE
  • @Luv_Lucas If they get together then I’ll start believing in love again

 

@DongChengCheng As a long-time fan of Sicheng, Lucas has my blessing to date him.

    • @yukhzei_99 Nobody needs your blessing lol
    • @99z_wongcas as a long time fan of lucas, sicheng is the only person who has my blessing to date him!!
    • @BerryBrue But isn’t Lucas quite a famous heartbreaker? :( What if he breaks Sicheng’s heart too?
    • @nikonicon true…didnt sicheng get his heart broken just recently? dont want him to go through that again :(
    • @BerryBrue Really?? By who??
    • @nikonicon j*** j**h***
    • @BerryBrue Jung Jaehyun?
    • @nikonicon are u stupid i censored his name for a reason
    • @BerryBrue Jaehyun was too good for him anyway
    • @nikonicon take that back u stupid bitch. no he wasnt
    • @yuki_nqz yeah didnt lucas date and break up with like 6 people last year
    • @Just_4_Lucas That’s just a rumour. So what if he dates a lot of people? Maybe they were just not right for him, is it wrong for him to break up with them?
    • @yuki_nqz if he’s like that with 6 people in the span of a year then maybe he’s the problem not them lol
    • @Just_4_Lucas Maybe you should stop making assumptions. Also I told you the 6 people thing is just a rumour :) Please don’t spread rumours, he can sue you. 

 

@ruyixchang lucas looks so handsome as always ackkkk!!!!! cant u look at me that way too wong yukhei?!?!

 

@XiconXiconi2 Isnt this jaehyuns ex boyfriend ??

 

@Lucassss99 I don’t know who Dong Sicheng is but I need to find out now. He is quite beautiful. Does he study in the library often?

  • @aeridori112 yes he does but u better not disturb him or else :DD
  • @MillyontheBlock @/DongSicheng_97 go follow him!!

 

@Yukhei_Bubble ive never seen lucas with that look on his face before … i cant breathe yall

 

@ kyungjie I want someone to look at me the way Lucas looks at Sicheng ><

 

@LumisWorld sicheng fans let’s be friends <3

  • @jjkyulki Agree!!
  • @DongChengCheng Your boy is handsome just like our Sicheng. Let’s be friends hehe
  • @LumisWorld that’s why they should date!!
  • @moribb_nt not if hes going to dump our sichengie after 2 months~ ^^
  • @Just_4_Lucas If your Sicheng is so great then maybe Lucas wouldn’t need to dump him after 2 months :)
  • @moribb_nt maybe if your lucas wasnt a jerkbag and could survive being single for longer than a week then he wouldnt need to date 6 people in 1 year~
  • @Just_4_Lucas LOL Lucas can survive being single. It’s just that people keep throwing themselves in his direction :) Also that 6 people thing is a rumour. Pls don’t spread rumours he can sue you.
  • @moribb_nt but it’s lucas who also decides to date them right~? ^^ if he wants to sue me then he should just come and sue me~~

 

There are a few things Sicheng has deducted from the comments. First, maybe he actually has more people that like him — fans — than he thought he did. Fans that are willing to come to his defence against mean comments. Second, those fans seem to know a lot of what’s going on in his life -- maybe a little too much -- including his break up with his ex-boyfriend. Third, Lucas has a lot of fans, and they want Sicheng to date him. Fourth, Lucas seems to have dated a lot of people, and he seems to have dumped all of them as well. Fifth, oh my god , people are aware of his break up with Jaehyun.

 

Sicheng is very uncomfortable, and he’s sure Jaehyun would be pretty uncomfortable with people being very aware and keeping track of their love lives, too. He opens his DM with Ten and types in a very eloquent reply.

 

DongSicheng_97
???

 

tenlee_1001
congrats baby u got ur first ship !! predebut too AND with lucas that’s very impressive



DongSicheng_97
I literally dont know who that is
Also people know that me and jaehyun broke up?



tenlee_1001
omg baby it’s wong yukhei. look him up he’s a fine man
also ofc ppl know u guys broke up u deleted ur ‘My Boy <3’ highlight on ur profile and also all ur pics together what do u expect
u are quite popular and u know how popular jaehyun is his fans are everywhere 
getting on my nerves all the damn time



DongSicheng_97
I didnt think people would notice so quickly :(
Also I didn’t know I had real fans
Ok brb let me search him

 

Sicheng types in ‘Yukhei’ into his instagram search bar and the first username that pops up is indeed the same Lucas in the photo. His profile picture is a black and white selfie of himself taken from a low angle, accentuating his thick lips and his very nicely defined nose. He seems to have a lighter hair color in it. He’s also very popular and has a lot of followers, tripling that of Sicheng’s own.

 

His description is a simple ‘Wong Yukhei | Lucas Wong | ’99 | Model | Basketball’ and a quick scroll through his feed is enough to confirm the fact that yeah, he’s really handsome, almost unfairly so. His profile is filled with pictures of himself, mostly closeup selfies, some professionally taken photos from what Sicheng assumes are proper photoshoots, some group photos taken with his friends who are also very good-looking, and some photos of his basketball team. There are also well-taken candids of him mid-game, jumping tall and powerful and scooping the ball away from his opponent, or of him running across the court with the ball bouncing in his hand, his face fierce and concentrated. Sicheng presses on the first highlight on his profile, titled just a simple ‘;)’. 

 

It’s all pictures and videos of him just staring at the camera. Sometimes he bites his lips, or lipsyncs to a song. Sometimes he ruffles his hair with his hand, messing it all up, and scrunches his nose at the camera, laughing. Sicheng frowns and his nose wrinkles in a grimace. Yukhei seems to know just how good looking he is and doesn’t fail to exploit that. He’s also kind of greasy. Not Sicheng’s type at all. He exits the highlight before he gets to the end of it, and doesn’t explore the rest of the highlights on his page which, by a quick glance at the titles and little circle previews, are stories of his behind-the-scenes from photoshoots and snippets of his basketball games.

 

He sends Ten a reply. 

 

Dong Sicheng_97
Handsome but not my type lol

 

tenlee_1001
lol sicheng i knew you’d say that
even when hes looking at you like this ??? :((
[tenlee_1001 ATTACHED AN IMAGE]

 

Sicheng presses the photo. It’s a closeup screenshot of Yukhei staring at him longingly at the library from the post. Sicheng snorts quietly to himself. 

 

Dong Sicheng_97
Lol
What if he wasnt even looking at me

 

tenlee_1001
oh baby hes definitely looking at u
trust me i know where u like to sit and the only thing behind u is a bookshelf

 

Dong Sicheng_97
Maybe he just had a lot in his mind and happened to be looking my way hahaha

 

tenlee_1001
yeah a lot in his mind
about u…. :O

 

Sicheng laughs, sends Ten a rolling eyes emoji, and exits the app. He places his phone by his pillow and rolls to lay on his side, closing his eyes and willing himself to sleep. He wants to try to wake up tomorrow morning to have an eventful, productive work-filled Saturday. 







Sicheng almost forgets about the post and about Yukhei entirely, except it seems like the whole world doesn’t want him to.

 

His profile has been getting a lot of engagement. There is an explosive increase in follows, likes and comments on his posts, some that even date back until two years ago, and DMs — the DMs. They got so bad that Kun told him to temporarily disable it until things calm down. Ten told him to entertain them, ‘just give them what they want, it’s good exposure for you, you can think about the consequences later!’  

 

Sicheng followed Kun’s advice and turned the function off in his settings.

 

Sicheng is used to getting messages from people he didn’t know — mostly girls around the university that have taken an interest in his looks — ‘you are so handsome but you probably already know that already haha!! ’, sometimes the occasional ‘I watched your practice performance today, I think you dance really well’ which were Sicheng’s favorites. But the highest number of messages he’s gotten in a day weren’t overwhelmingly high. They were manageable, and Sicheng took his time to reply to all of them, because he truly did appreciate people taking the effort to tell him nice things.

 

But ever since The Post, his inbox has been blowing up with messages asking him about Yukhei. What do you think of Lucas? Are you guys really dating? Are you guys just pretending not to date because you’re going to debut soon? Don’t worry about that, we’ll support you regardless. Why aren’t you following Lucas yet? How did you guys start dating? You guys look so good together. Please, won’t you post a picture together?

 

He wonders if Yukhei is getting similar messages, because if his inbox is the only one getting harassed, then that would be a little unfair. 

 

The Post has gotten over a thousand comments now, all about how Sicheng and Yukhei should get together because they would just look so good, or about how Sicheng and Yukhei should not get together because Yukhei is a player or because Sicheng isn’t good enough for him, Yukhei can do better. Sicheng is more surprised that a photo of what is essentially just Yukhei and Sicheng being in the same room has drawn so much attention. Yes Yukhei may have been looking at him like that , but really — sometimes Sicheng finds himself deep in thought and accidentally stares at somebody’s general direction in the process without knowing. That’s probably the case for Yukhei here as well, and Sicheng knows that if he were in Yukhei’s shoes, he’d be pretty embarrassed and also annoyed as hell. It was simply a moment captured perfectly by a golden camera and a dedicated fan, creating a whirlwind of a mess that neither of them would have expected.

 

Sicheng finds it easier to forget about the whole ordeal with his inbox disabled now that his phone isn’t pinging with new messages every couple of minutes. But one morning a couple days later, he wakes up and something he had been half-dreading has happened.

 

The first thing he sees through his crusty eyes when he unlocks his phone is a message from Ten.

 

Ten-gege :D
baby u better follow him back

 

Sicheng blinks the sleep away and opens the cursed app to find out that Wong Yukhei has followed him on instagram.

 

“Oh boy,” he says out loud to himself, rubbing at his eyes. Yukhei must’ve been getting messages in his inbox too and finally succumbed to what Sicheng could easily guess were the ‘Why aren’t you following Sicheng yet! ’ messages. 

 

His phone pings from another message from Ten.

 

Ten-gege :D
sicheng think about it
how many fans u can get from this
ur annual performing arts dance is only a few months away
more fans = more attendance just for YOU
= more exposure
= more successful debut when u graduate
follow him back

 

Sicheng
Wow
Youve thought about this

 

Ten-gege :D
ofc i want the best for u
also hes probably the only guy hot and popular enough to be a rebound for lil jae BITCH
so follow him back

 

Sicheng
Dont call jaehyun a little bitch :(
And I dont need a rebound :(

 

Ten-gege :D
but thats what he is baby :((((((
yeah u dont NEED one but doesnt mean u CANT have one
loosen up and have some fun didi

 

Sicheng pouts silently at his screen, brooding, pondering. He hovers over the follow button next to Yukhei’s profile picture.

 

“Fuck it,” he says, and presses the blue button, watching as it turns from the blue ‘follow’ to the white ‘following’. Then he waits. 







@DongSicheng_97 youve disabled your inbox and I dont know where I can get your number. message me? ;)

 

…is what Sicheng reads when he presses the ‘lucas_xx444’ mentioned you in their story ’ notification that popped up on his phone. He blinks his eyes quickly and reads it again. It’s a selfie of Yukhei in a black hoodie, dark hair unstyled and unkempt. His hand is pressed against his bangs, flattening them against his forehead. He’s pressing his lips together in a straight line, cheeks rounding out. The message to Sicheng is big and highlighted in white, like he wants the whole world to see. Sicheng groans out loud. 

 

Ten leans against his side, straw in his mouth from where he’s been sipping on his shake — a salted caramel and vanilla mix (Sicheng had told him the double chocolate chip and salted caramel mix was better, but Ten thinks it’s a sugary abomination created to give you cavities and a stomachache). Then his eyes widen. “Is that what I think it is?”

 

He lets Ten grab the phone out of his hands, watching his eyes scan the words on the phone before he’s guffawing, wheezing out a “he put in a winky face!” a few times too many, slapping his own thighs and making the bench they’re sharing shake a little. Kun grimaces from across them and shushes Ten down because they’ve attracted a few eyes from the other tables around them. Sicheng notices some people starting to whisper to each other, muttering under their breaths, some taking their phones out and taking a few pictures quietly as if Sicheng doesn’t notice them pointing it directly at him. It almost feels like everyone around them knows who he is now and are finally realising that he’s there. He sinks down in his seat, not used to such blatant attention.

 

Sicheng crosses his arms on the table and plants his face into it, whining, and the words he says next come out muffled. “He’s doing it on purpose. Does he enjoy this? Because I don’t.” 

 

“I like him! He knows what he’s doing!” Ten hands Sicheng his phone back and then slings his left leg over the bench so he’s fully facing Sicheng, a mischievous look on his face. “So? Are you going to message him?”

 

Sicheng turns his head, half of his face still buried in his hoodie-clad arms, and glares at him. He starts to regret not taking a little more time to get ready this morning, style his hair up a little, put on some makeup. He would have, had he known there were going to be so many cameras pointed at him today. “Seriously?”

 

“Want me to do it for you?” Ten makes grabby hands towards his phone but Sicheng is hiding it under his arms before he can snatch it away. “Come on, baby. Have a little fun. You’re graduating in a few months, don’t you want to leave with at least one interesting campus story you can tell at a party?”

 

Sicheng pouts at him and turns to look at Kun for help. “Kun-ge.”

 

Kun is smiling suggestively and very unhelpfully at him, shrugging his shoulders. “It can’t hurt to send him a message. It seems like he likes you. If anything happens, you know we’ll always be here to help you out.” Ten lets out a little celebratory whoop and Sicheng deflates in his seat. 

 

“Not you too…” 

 

“Go on,” Ten cocks his chin towards the phone in Sicheng’s hands, before his eyes land expectantly back at him. “I’ll be right here for moral support.”

 

Sicheng purses his lips at him, dissatisfied that both his loyal friends are not backing up his choice of just pretending his problems do not exist, and rolls his eyes as he opens up Yukhei’s profile and then presses the ‘message’ button next to his picture.

 

His thumbs hovers hesitantly over his keyboard. He types out a ‘Hey’ and then erases it quickly. He types in a ‘Hey :)’ and then erases it again. Should he include in emojis to appear friendlier? Does he want to appear friendly? What if Yukhei thinks Sicheng is flirting with him? 

 

“Oh my god Sicheng,” Ten grabs the phone out of his hands and is typing something in immediately. Sicheng yelps, something shrill and high-pitched and laced with panic — he’ll think about the embarrassment of doing that in a public campus space in front of a dozen something people later — as he stretches his arm in an attempt to get it back. He’s unsuccessful. 

 

Ten has a pleased look on his face as he hands the phone back after a few seconds. “See? Not that hard.” 

 

Sicheng scans the screen of his phone quickly, heart pounding in his ears, to see that Ten has sent Yukhei a ‘Hi. Have you been getting lots of messages too?

 

He breathes out a sigh of relief and then Ten is linking an arm around his neck, leaning his cheek against Sicheng’s head. “You thought I was going to send him something embarrassing? I wouldn’t do that to you.”

 

Sicheng turns his head, Ten’s face still leaning against it from the top, and glares at him through his lashes. Ten pinches his cheek.

 

“I’m pretty much your manager now. I’ll never do anything that’ll harm your reputation.”

 

“Then you better let him go, unless you want to start up some spicy rumours,” Kun says in a shushed voice from across them, and his eyes are shifting suspiciously around the room when Sicheng faces him. Then he realises that a lot of eyes are on him again, specifically on how Ten has him in his hold. Ten’s arm is off of him immediately, and he laughs, sheepish and loud and exaggerated to make sure everyone can hear. Then suddenly he’s linking fingers with Kun’s on the table, raising their joined hands so everyone can see.

 

“He’s my boyfriend,” Ten says, pointing at Kun with his free hand and grinning at the people who have their phones out at them. Sicheng blinks and giggles at the very scandalised look Kun has on his face, cheeks getting redder by the second. 

 

His laughter doesn’t last long though, because the next second his phone pings with a DM notification.

 

lucas_xx444
hahaha yeahhh i have
it’s crazy
btw are u free anytime today?
can we meet up?
i have a proposition :D







Sicheng had wanted to say no. Wanted to type and send in a ‘I am not free, I will never be free, please never suggest to meet up ever again’. But having Ten leaning over his shoulder and breathing down his neck and reading every message Yukhei sent only meant that there was no way he was going to escape from this. He was, however, fortunate enough to delay the meeting until the day after. 

 

The only thing that saved him from meeting up with Yukhei on the day itself was Ten running his hands through Sicheng’s hair, pinching at his cheeks, and telling him that “No no no, you can’t meet him for the first time looking like this. He needs to be blown away by you, baby. I’m going to make you look so breathtaking he won’t be able to take his eyes off you.” 

 

Sicheng had told him that he didn’t want Yukhei to not be able to take his eyes off him. He’s never even seen or spoken to this man in real life. “I don’t actually want to date him,” he had said, and Ten had nodded dismissively and told him to be quiet as he continued to apply a reddish-pink tint on Sicheng’s lips. 

 

So now he’s here, standing in the middle of the common campus garden, clad in a striped turtleneck, an oversized denim jacket, dark slacks and black dress shoes, carefully accentuated with a light brown belt and a few rings on his fingers that glint under the sun. His eyes have been lightly lined, eyelashes curled, nose bridge and cheekbones highlighted, and lips tinted with pink. Ten had let out a satisfied exhale earlier that morning when he finished dolling Sicheng up, patting his hair (which doesn’t look too different to how he usually wears it every day, except today his bangs have been slightly parted and also doused with hairspray) and assuring him that if “Yukhei doesn’t fall in love with your perfect spring boyfriend look today, then I will.”

 

Sicheng feels very pretty but also a little overdressed. Maybe it’s just because he’s not used to dressing up unless it was for a performance or for some other kind of special occasion. He also doesn’t want Yukhei to notice that he’s dressed up because that meant he made an effort to look good to meet him and he doesn’t want to look like he put in the effort — why would he? But Yukhei doesn’t know of his dressing habits, so he wouldn’t be able to tell anyway, right?

 

He turns his head, eyes squinting against the sun as he searches around for the big tree near the water fountain, the one with lots of shade, as Yukhei had described to him in his message after Sicheng had agreed (forcibly, under Ten’s unrelenting, ruthless gaze) to meet him. After some mindless walking through the garden, he spots the large water fountain, surrounded by benches and different flowerbeds, and the distinctly large tree some distance away from it. And then he spots the man sitting under the tree who’s looking directly at him, waving an enthusiastic hand.

 

Sicheng isn’t the greatest with new people, more so if he’s alone. More so if the person he’s meeting is also the person that hundreds of people want him to date and the both of them are aware of that fact. His fingers fidget nervously against the hem of his denim jacket as he walks over to where Yukhei is sat under the tree, trying his best to appear calm.

 

Yukhei stands up to greet him. “Hey,” he says with a smile. Yukhei has a very nice smile. It’s big and wide and bright and accompanied by a little dimple. His voice is deep and he’s a little taller than Sicheng. His bronze skin glows splendidly under the warm Sunday sun and his hair — dark and slicked back with a few strands deliberately hanging out at the front in the way Sicheng likes so much — sways slightly from the breeze in the park. 

 

Yukhei is extremely handsome in real life. Almost unfairly, devilishly so.

 

“Hi,” he says back softly with a timid smile, trying his best to appear friendly. They exchange a handshake after Sicheng forces his fingers to stop playing with the hem of his own jacket sleeves. Yukhei looks him up and down very blatantly before his eyes finally land back on Sicheng’s face. Sicheng suddenly feels very self-conscious and tries his best not to break their eye contact, but fails miserably after a few seconds, eyes choosing to settle themselves on the collar of Yukhei’s checkered plaid that he’s wearing over a white t-shirt. A white t-shirt that accentuates the stuff under it very nicely. 

 

“Wow,” Yukhei says simply with a smile and an appreciative nod. “You look good.”

 

“…Thank you,” he says, and wishes he had replied with something a little wittier. He finds himself wanting to impress and he’s not sure why. He settles with a “You look good too,” and really wishes Ten was here to help him out.

 

Yukhei’s smile grows wider as he seats himself down. He’s got a gingham red and white blanket laid down on the soft green grass, and there are a few containers laid neatly filled with what Sicheng assumes is food. “Come sit,” Yukhei says, holding his hand out, which Sicheng accepts slowly with a quirked eyebrow. Yukhei guides him to sit across him and Sicheng looks around at the little blanket he’s sat on.

 

Sicheng vaguely gestures at the containers around him. “You’ve got a whole picnic ready.”

 

“Picnics were pretty high up the list on websites for first date ideas,” Yukhei says, opening one of the containers with sandwiches in it and putting it in front of Sicheng. “This is kind of embarrassing, but I asked some of your fans if they knew what kind of food you liked. They said your favourite fruit was strawberry, so I made some strawberry sandwiches. I hope you like whipped cream too?”

 

Sicheng feels his ears warm and tries to ignore the casual slip of first date ideas as he takes a sandwich, careful not to press on it so the cream doesn’t ooze out. It looks delicious and smells sweet. He shoots Yukhei a small smile. “I do. Thank you. You asked my… my fans?” 

 

“Oh yeah. Wasn’t hard to find them at all, they’ve pretty much occupied my whole inbox. I mean, a lot of my fans have sort of become yours too, by now,” Yukhei laughs, picking up a sandwich himself and taking a big bite. He gives Sicheng a look, similar to the one he gave when he looked Sicheng up and down a few moments ago. “I don’t blame them.”

 

“Yeah…It’s the same for me.” Sicheng takes a bite too, both hands holding onto his sandwich because he doesn’t know what else to do with them. He also doesn’t know what to do about Yukhei’s subtle flirting. Maybe he’s just being nice. “Um. It’s been happening for a while actually…ever since that picture of us in the library came out. I actually had to turn off my DMs for a while because I kept getting so many messages.” 

 

Yukhei seems to have finished his first sandwich, hands clapping together to wipe the little bits of crumbs away. And then he scoots closer to Sicheng. “That’s kind of what I wanted to discuss today, actually. I’ll cut right to the chase, if that’s okay.” His voice drops, lower, quieter, like he’s telling Sicheng a secret. His face leans in closer too, and Sicheng leans back and away instinctively. 

 

“Let’s date.” 

 

Sicheng blinks at him. Waits for him to continue, but Yukhei is looking at him expectantly with his big, wide, shining eyes like he’s expecting an answer.

 

“Uh,” Sicheng fidgets. “No?”

 

Then he realises that that might’ve come off a little more blunt than what he intended, and then Sicheng panics, words stumbling. “I-I mean, you’re a really cool guy, but we’ve only just met and I usually — I don’t usually date people I haven’t known for long, I have nothing against —“ 

 

He’s cut off by Yukhei’s laugh, soft and airy and high-pitched and … handsome. He’s waving his hand at Sicheng, shaking his head. “You’re cute,” Yukhei says, and Sicheng bites the inside of his cheek, embarrassed. “But I don’t mean for real.” 

 

“Then what do you mean?”

 

“Look. This is the most engagement my profile has ever had — ever . And getting engagement is really important to me when it comes to getting new gigs. Three different agencies have contacted me in this past week alone asking if you and I were interested in doing a photoshoot together! That’s crazy. This — us,” he gestures at the small space between the two of them, “This could be a really, really good thing for the both of us. It’s the same for you too, isn’t it?”

 

Sicheng blinks, lashes fluttering, eyes shifting down to look at Yukhei’s chest instead of his eyes, which looked shades lighter under the sun. Yukhei continues, “I’ve been watching your profile too. Your followers have went up a crazy amount ever since that library post got big. People love you and they love the idea of us — together. Wouldn’t it be great to get some traction before your debut? Some modelling gigs with me would be a great way to get your name and face around. Might even land you some acting offers right off the bat. A monster rookie actor, doesn’t that sound amazing?” 

 

Sicheng’s toes wriggle nervously inside his dress shoes. What Yukhei is suggesting sounds ridiculous but it also makes sense in a way that Sicheng can’t refute. There are bound to be lies in the entertainment industry, if not now then definitely some time in the future. “I guess…I understand where you’re coming from.”

 

“Yes, I knew you would,” Yukhei grins all toothy, eyes glinting. “And you know, if you’re not into relationships, this’ll be perfect. No feelings involved, no commitment, all business. You can do whatever you want when there aren’t any eyes around. You do your own thing and I do mine. Also, acting is your thing. This’ll be a breeze for you.” 

 

When Yukhei puts it that way, it does sound easy. Things that don’t require effort and are hassle-free, allowing him to be as lazy as he possibly can, are also very large plus points when it comes to persuading Sicheng into doing something. And if he can be lazy in the process of gaining fame and offers, then he’ll take it. He takes the last bite of his sandwich, his free hands now going to pick at his nails. “That does sound easy.”

 

“Exactly.” Yukhei takes one of Sicheng’s hands into both of his own. It’s warm, and Sicheng takes note of how Yukhei’s hands completely engulf his own. It makes him feel funny. “So, what do you say? Be my pretend boyfriend?” 

 

Sicheng bites at his lip, looking up at Yukhei through his lashes. Then the corners of his lips quirk up into a slow smile. “Okay.” 

 

“Yes! Yes, perfect, thank you so much Sicheng-ge,” Yukhei squeezes Sicheng’s hand that he has in his grasp, shaking it a little in a show of victory, before finally letting go. Sicheng begins to play with the hem of his jacket instead.

 

Yukhei hums. “Alright then. We should probably discuss the technicalities.” 

 

“Okay. Like what?”

 

“So — first, the things we’re going to do to make this relationship come to life. I think social media is very important. It’ll be our number one tool into putting our relationship out there, since it’s where it started in the first place. We have to make use of it.” He pauses, looks around, and his eyes glint at something behind Sicheng. “We can make use of it right now, actually.” He scoots closer again, till his face is so close Sicheng notices just how thick his eyebrows are, and his arm is reaching for something from somewhere behind where Sicheng is sitting. 

 

He sits back at his spot with a grunt afterwards and he’s holding a small, white flower in his hand. He shoots Sicheng a lopsided smile as he shows it to him. “Can I put this over your ear?”

 

Sicheng touches his ear instinctively, pulling at the lobe a little, and then nods. “Sure.”

 

Yukhei gets on his knees and scoots a little towards him to close the small distance between them. He tucks some strands of Sicheng’s black hair behind his left ear, then places the stem of the flower over it. Then he sits back to admire his work. “You’re so pretty, ge.” 

 

Sicheng feels his cheeks warm and prays that it doesn’t show on his face. Then Yukhei is whipping out his phone, pressing and swiping on his screen, and then pointing it at his face. 

 

Sicheng fidgets, eyes looking everywhere but Yukhei or the phone lens. “Should I — should I do a pose?” 

 

Yukhei laughs softly. “Go ahead.” 

 

Sicheng makes a peace sign with both hands, a signature pose because he really doesn’t know what else to do with them, and looks directly at the camera lens. He hears the click of the camera and then Yukhei is looking at his work on the phone screen, chuckling quietly. “Pretty,” he sighs, eyes skimming over his phone screen in admiration. Then Yukhei looks at him, humming contemplatively. “Let me take a pretend-candid this time. Um,” he looks around, and then with an aha , takes the container of strawberry sandwiches from earlier, and gives it to Sicheng. There’s only one more piece left. “Take a bite out of this. Hold it cutely like you did just now, with both hands.” 

 

Remorse crawls up Sicheng’s face at the fact that Yukhei seems to have noticed that. He really hopes Yukhei doesn’t think Sicheng was deliberately trying to be cute. That just takes the cuteness away. He huffs and does as he’s told, taking a bite and chewing quickly. His eyes are cast on the red gingham pattern of the mat, and he hears another click of the camera.

 

“Adorable. You’re like a little hamster,” Yukhei fawns, gasping at the photo. “You’re going to make them go crazy, ge.” 

 

“That’s a good thing, right?” He asks over a mouthful of sandwich.

 

“A very good thing,” Yukhei replies, still smiling at the photo, before he looks up and hands Sicheng his phone. “Okay, now you take some photos of me.” 

 

Yukhei goes to pluck a flower from the same grassy area he picked Sicheng’s flower from, and Sicheng makes sure to scoot over to the side to give him more space this time. Yukhei then places the small flower on top of his own ear, takes a sandwich, bites out of it, and smiles wide but close-lipped at the camera, his right cheek rounded from where the sandwich was sitting in his mouth.

 

Sicheng lets the camera focus, watching the way Yukhei’s eyes have turned into little crescent-moon shapes from just how hard he’s smiling, and snaps a photo. He looks at it and feels his own lips stretch into a smile. “You look really handsome,” he comments, handing Yukhei his phone back. His ears feel warm. He knows how red they can get, and hopes they aren’t glaringly so right now.

 

“Why thank you,” Yukhei accepts the compliment with a hand over his heart and a smile, and then gestures for Sicheng to come closer. “Come on, let’s take a picture together.” 

 

When Sicheng is close enough that their thighs are touching, he feels Yukhei’s hand hover over his nape, fingertips almost touching but not really. He feels goosebumps rise on his skin when Yukhei finally rests his hand there, weight a heavy but comforting presence. Then Yukhei uses that hand to bring their heads closer together until their temples are touching. 

 

Yukhei raises the phone in front of them with his free hand, the front camera on so they can see their faces on the screen. Sicheng smiles and makes an instinctive peace sign in front of his face. Yukhei grins with his teeth, and then presses the camera button, taking a selfie. 

 

“Honestly, I don’t blame people for going crazy over us. Look,” he turns the phone around so that Sicheng can look at it too. “We do look really good together.” 

 

And maybe Yukhei is right. The photo looks — right. Like it has always meant to be like that — Yukhei and Sicheng together, enjoying a picnic on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon, with strawberry sandwiches in their hands and little white flowers on their ears. 

 

They look good together.

 

“Watch,” Yukhei says, coming a little closer so they can look at the phone screen together. He opens instagram, pressing the ‘upload’ button, then selects the selfie they took together, along with the pictures Sicheng took of him. Then he types in the caption, 

 

‘first date look. photo creds to the date in question @DongSicheng_97 ♡ here’s to more dates in the future maybe? 👀 👉👈

 

He tags Sicheng in the photo, right on his peace sign. Then he clicks on ‘post’. The photo uploads, and then they wait. 

 

One, two, three seconds. A ding! resounds as the first notification comes up — someone had liked the post. And then another notification comes in. Then another. And another, and another, and another. It doesn’t stop, and it begins to come in so quickly Sicheng doesn’t have time to read them anymore. “Seems like the magic has begun working,” Yukhei says dramatically, sliding the ‘vibrate’ button on the phone and placing it in his pocket, a smug, satisfied smile on his face. “You should upload your photos a little later, maybe. You know, so they don’t get overwhelmed.” He laughs, in that same airy but loud, high-pitched and handsome way of his. It’s contagious because Sicheng finds himself laughing along with him. He feels good, Yukhei’s presence a surprisingly comforting one around him, the nervousness that overcame him earlier slowly starting to ease away.

 

“Okay. Next,” Yukhei starts when they’ve settled down, “In order to upload content on our social media, we need content to upload in the first place. So dates like these —” he gestures vaguely at the both of them, “— will need to happen in the future as well. In places where there are lots of eyes watching. Like right now.” 

 

Sicheng blinks and then he takes a good look around his surroundings — and Yukhei is right. There are lots of pairs of eyes, and a lot of them are on him and Yukhei. And usually Sicheng is very conscious when there are people looking at him, but Yukhei has done such a good job keeping all his attention on him that Sicheng hadn’t even noticed. Now that he has, though, he sinks into himself, suddenly very nervous and self-conscious all over again, especially now that he’s with the other half of the reason why he’s the talk of the campus. 

 

“Hey,” He feels Yukhei’s hand on his shoulder, and he shifts his eyes back onto Yukhei’s reassuring, comforting face. “Don’t worry about it. They’re looking at us because we look good. You look good. Bask in it.” 

 

Sicheng lets go of the lower lip he’s been unconsciously chewing on to give Yukhei an appreciative, tight-lipped smile, as a way to say thank you. Yukhei smiles back at him. “Are you okay with meeting me a couple times a week? Maybe once or twice? Whatever fits your schedule.”

 

“Should we exchange timetables?”

 

“Oh right!”

 

Sicheng has classes everyday except for Thursdays and the weekend. Most of his days start at 9 in the morning, with a 12 to 1 lunch break, and end at 5pm. Then he has dance practice later at night on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 8 to 11.

 

“That is tight,” Yukhei gasps, eyes wide and glossy as they scan the picture of Sicheng’s schedule that he’s pulled up on his phone. “How do you have time for homework and sleep? And going out?”

 

“I usually spend the weekends finishing up assignments. I try my best to get a good sleep every night or I don’t work well the next day.” He scratches the corner of his lip. “I don’t really go out much. I have around two friends.” 

 

He immediately regrets that last comment which was totally unnecessary, why did he even say that? Especially to a social butterfly like Lucas who’s probably invited to every party ever and has a thousand friends? Yukhei probably thinks he’s lame now. “— but, but I like it that way,” he adds in an attempt to save himself, hopes Yukhei doesn’t think he’s pathetic. 

 

“You’re very cool,” Yukhei says instead, nodding in approval. “You’ve got your priorities straight. I should try to be more like you, you know. Maybe then I wouldn’t have suffered so much during my midterms last month.” 

 

Sicheng lets out a soft laugh, eyes going to his hands, which were playing with the gingham blanket under him. “No…” he says, looking up at Yukhei. “You’re still in your first year, right? You should have fun first. When you get to third year like me, you’re going to be forced to study lots. Then you can suffer properly!” 

 

Yukhei looks at him for a moment, eyes observing, before he laughs, clapping his hands delightedly, and tells Sicheng that you’re absolutely right, ge!  

 

Yukhei’s timetable is, as expected from a freshman, much, much emptier than Sicheng’s. He has classes everyday of the week, but they start at 10 and end at 4, except on Thursdays, where he only has one class, which ends at 12. He has nothing else at night. “Isn’t this fate, ge?” Yukhei says. “My free-est day is your free-est day, too. Even the university wants us to date.” 

 

“And the weekends,” Sicheng adds, but when he’s met with silence, he understands and then quickly adds, embarrassed, “— which is probably quite full for you, so Thursdays it is.” 

 

“I’m not out every weekend, you know. I need time to recharge too,” Yukhei says with a laugh. “And if you’d prefer meeting up on the weekend, I’d totally be up for it. I’ll clear out my weekends, unless it’s something super important, which usually isn’t the case.” 

 

They decide that their weekly dates will be mostly on Thursdays, and maybe some on the weekend if they’re both free. Yukhei says that they can plan their dates for the week on the weekend before, just in case either of them has something going on outside their timetables. Sicheng agrees and they exchange phone numbers so they don’t have to communicate through instagram DMs anymore. Sicheng saves the new number under ‘Wong Yukhei (Lucas Year 1)’.

 

“Next then — boundaries.” Yukhei makes some fluttery jazz-hands in front of Sicheng’s face. “We’re going to have to establish them.” 

 

“Sure,” Sicheng says, waiting for Yukhei to continue. “Like what?”

 

“Like hand-holding, hugs, kisses. Things couples do,” Yukhei says. His eyes are on Sicheng’s, and Sicheng really, really wishes he had the skill to not shy away from eye contact, but he fails miserably, again, and they go to settle on Yukhei’s shirt instead. “That kind of stuff, you know, when we’re out and about. I need to know what you’re okay with and what you’re not. It’s totally fine if you don’t want to do any of those, though, we could still make it work.” 

 

“No,” Sicheng retorts quickly, bracing himself to look at Yukhei again. They are very close. “I’m fine with that. Just give me a heads up before doing it, maybe?”

 

Yukhei smiles at him, small and gentle. “Of course,” he says.

 

Sicheng thinks about holding hands with Yukhei. Hugging Yukhei, kissing Yukhei. He almost can’t imagine it. The last person he’s kissed and hugged was Jaehyun, and that hadn’t been that long ago. Just a couple months. He wonders if he can get used to a new set of hands, a new body, a new pair of lips this quickly. He tries to find comfort in Yukhei’s words earlier, no commitment, all business, and it sort of works, just a little bit.

 

They talk a bit more, chatting idly about school and a little bit about each other as they finish the remaining food that Yukhei had brought for the picnic; some cream biscuits, chocolate squares, and two small cartons of banana milk. Sicheng learns that Yukhei majors in psychology and is a part of the university’s boys’ basketball team, playing the shooting guard — “I’m in charge of scoring points and stealing the ball from the other team, basically.” “Oh! That’s cool. That must be a really important position, right?” — and he also exercises often. He says it sort of comes with the job of being a model, having to maintain his figure. Sicheng tells him that he gets most of his exercise from dancing, and he’s not really into team sports, much preferring to go for a long jog by himself, but he does enjoy watching games, and that he’d be happy to see Yukhei play. Sicheng also shares that he’s into watching dramas and playing games, to which Yukhei agrees with a me too! What are your favourites? Are you watching anything right now? We should watch one together, I have a big TV back at my place.

 

When they’re done eating and Yukhei’s finished putting all the empty containers back in his picnic basket, Sicheng stands up, dusting off any remaining crumbs on his lap onto the grass, and helps Yukhei fold the gingham blanket, handing it to him to slide under the basket handle. “Thanks for the picnic today. It was really nice. I really liked the strawberry sandwiches.”

 

Yukhei shines him a sunny smile. “You’re welcome! I’ll make you more strawberry sandwiches in the future.”

 

“You should tell me what kinds of food you like too.”

 

“I like a lot of food. But don’t worry about it, I’ll bring you to all my favourite food places on our future dates.” Yukhei gives him a wink, but it’s silly because he ends up blinking both eyes, and Sicheng laughs, giving him a gentle hit on the shoulder.

 

They make their way out of the park together, and the stares don’t bother Sicheng too much anymore, because he’s distracted by a story Yukhei is telling about how his old roommate was so stingy and horrible that he had to switch dorms mid-term. “Speaking of which, where do you live? On or off-campus?”

 

“On,” Sicheng replies. “I live in Hall 3, Block C.” 

 

“Oh! Sweet! I’m at the same hall but at block H. A little further down, but it’s the same way,” Yukhei hums, scratching at his chin. “This means I can walk you back after every date then, right?”

 

Sicheng looks up at him and smiles bashfully, pretending to hum in contemplation. “I guess so.” 

 

The walk to his dorm isn’t long, and it feels even shorter because Yukhei is telling him more stories about his old roommate, about how one time when Yukhei asked him to throw the trash out, he put in the effort to pick out all of Yukhei’s trash so that he would only be throwing out his own.

 

“That’s awful,” Sicheng gasps. “How can — who does that?”

 

“Tell me about it. It would have been so easy to just throw out the whole bag instead. He’s so stupid, I don’t know how I managed to last 3 months.” 

 

Sicheng tells him about how he’s recently tried to watch the drama Strangers from Hell (“Im Siwan is in it, a lot of people tell me I look like him, do you think so too?” “Oh shit! You’re right! I can’t unsee it now!”) but it’s too scary and he has trouble watching it because there are lots of jumpscares. Yukhei tells him not to worry, that they can watch it together, and that he’ll be right there next to Sicheng to make sure that nothing will happen to him, to which Sicheng tries his best to repress a roll of his eyes and the large grin threatening to make its way onto his face. 

 

The walk ends too quickly, and they’re in front of Block C before he realises it. 

 

“Well,” Yukhei turns to him, hands in his pocket. “Today was nice. Thank you for meeting me and for agreeing to this whole…my proposition. Honestly, I wasn’t sure you would, but I’m really glad that you did.” He gives Sicheng another handsome, toothy smile. “You’re a really cool guy, you know, Sicheng-ge?”

 

Sicheng laughs shyly, batting his hand in the air in dismissal. “I think you’re very cool too, Yukhei. I hope we’ll be able to work well together in the future.”

 

Yukhei laughs at that, loud and unrestrained, now that it’s just the two of them and there are no other ogling eyes in sight. “When you say it like that then it really sounds like a business deal,” he says. “I hope we’ll be able to be really good friends.” 

 

“Right,” Sicheng smiles.

 

Yukhei gives him a pat on the shoulder, before he begins walking backwards, waving his hand that wasn’t holding onto the picnic basket. “Good night, Sicheng-ge. I’ll see you on our second date.”

 

Sicheng waves back with a grin that makes his cheeks round. “Good night, Yukhei.” He watches Yukhei turn around, walking off into the distance, getting smaller and smaller until he turns a corner and disappears.

 

A few minutes later, when Sicheng’s toed off his shoes and is laying on his bed to overthink about everything that happened today, he gets a text from Yukhei. 

 

Wong Yukhei (Lucas Year 1)
[Wong Yukhei (Lucas Year 1) ATTACHED A PICTURE]
[Wong Yukhei (Lucas Year 1) ATTACHED A PICTURE]
[Wong Yukhei (Lucas Year 1) ATTACHED A PICTURE]
don’t forget to post your pretty pictures ;))
night night sicheng ge !!

 

Sicheng opens the attached pictures and bites his lip. He looks good in them. The sun shines prettily on his face, makes his eyes look all bright and sparkly, and the slight breeze in the park had given a little sway to his hair and to the flower between his ear. Maybe Yukhei is just really good at taking pictures.

 

He opens instagram and finally gets to see just how much Yukhei’s post of their selfie had exploded, garnering over three thousand likes in just a little over an hour, as well as hundreds and hundreds of comments. 

 

@Lumis_World omg gomgomfog it’s happening it’s happening everybdbf stay calm STAY FUCKFNG CALM 

 

@kyulkyu_x22 you guys are actually dating?? like FOR REAL for real??

 

@JolynJie You guys look sooooo good together oh my gosh >< Congratulations!!

 

@fordsc_97z THIS EYE CANDY !!!!!!!!! THIS EYE CANDY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS EYE CANDY !!!!!!!!!!!

- @Lucas99xx9 EYE CANDY POWER COUPLE

- @fordsc_97z EYE CANDY POWER COUPLE !!!!!!!!!!!!!! MOTHERFUCKRRNRKSJNDNF !!!!!!!!!

 

@LuvlyLucas_1400 is this really happening? this is real? im not dreaming?

- @LucasxBubble We won today. We really won today. God is real.

- @Yukheiflrter8 IT’S REAL IT’S SO REAL 

 

@yenah9211 ah be happy guys T_T when will i get my own boyfriend T_T

 

@DongChengCheng ‘here’s to more dates in the future’ I am going to cry.

- @DongChengCheng *Out of happiness. However if they don’t happen then I will cry tears of despair. 

 

Sicheng laughs quietly against the back of his hand. He used to find such comments bizarre, annoying even, because he just couldn’t understand. Now — now he finds them amusing. Finds himself scrolling and scrolling through all of the comments until they run out, and then refreshes to see the new ones that popped up in the last couple minutes. All of them are very, very positive, to his surprise. He’d expect to see a few people who disapproved, but found none, just people who commented about how lonely they were and how they can’t find their own significant other. He decides to leave his own comment under the post.

 

@DongSicheng_97 Had such a great time today :) Definitely more dates in the future!

 

He goes through his notifications and notices that he’s been tagged in lots of new photos and videos today. Particularly photos of him with Yukhei at the park. He should’ve figured that with that many people present at the park, with that many eyes on him and Yukhei, that they would’ve taken pictures and videos of them too. Pictures of them eating as they talked, pictures of Yukhei taking a picture of Sicheng and pictures of Sicheng taking a picture of Yukhei. Pictures of Yukhei holding Sicheng’s hand in between his own and pictures of Yukhei placing a flower in between Sicheng’s ear. Posts captioned with ‘I saw the date with my own 2 eyes!!!’ ‘they’re so sweet and romantic, feels like watching a drama T___T ‘they’re 10000x more beautiful in real life than in photos, what the hell???? how is that possible?’ 

 

He realises now that with newfound fame comes the consequence of having his every action being ogled at when he’s outside. Is he going to have to start putting more effort into his looks and attire everyday now? Can he handle so many eyes on him all the time? He doesn’t know. Is Yukhei okay with this? He probably has to handle more attention than what Sicheng’s used to on a daily basis, anyway. Maybe he’ll be able to cope better. He didn’t seem too bothered back at the park.

 

Sicheng then goes to the main page and clicks the little ‘plus’ button, selecting his own set of pictures from today, as well as the selfie that he and Yukhei had taken together. It’s a cute picture, Yukhei’s sunny, toothy grin a nice contrast against Sicheng’s tinier, timid smile. Their heads are touching and the sun shines brightly on their faces, casting a pretty shadow on the grassy space behind them. 

 

He writes the caption, ‘A day with @ lucas_xx444. He made me strawberry sandwiches (which were really good!!) and set up a whole picnic, with all my favourite snacks!! ^^ I had a really nice time. Thank you Yukhei <3 ’, tags Yukhei in the photo, and clicks ‘post’. 

 

He waits a few seconds after the photos finish uploading, and the notifications are instant. This might be the fastest he’s had so many people like his post at once, and a minute later he gets a message notification from Yukhei.

 

Wong Yukhei (Lucas Year 1)
damn!!! youre already better at this than i am!!!!

 

Sicheng laughs, sends him a winking emoji, and tells him that he better start upping his game if he doesn’t want Sicheng to completely own him at it. He goes to sleep that night feeling light and giddy and with a newfound excitement that he hasn’t felt in a long time.

 

Sicheng wakes up the next morning to explosive notifications, two missed calls and 13 messages from Ten, 4 from Kun, and for the first time ever, he welcomes it all with a smile. Maybe he might be starting to enjoy this after all. 

 




He feels Ten’s fingers on his hips, poking and prodding and disturbing. But he can’t afford to be distracted now, not when he’s only two small armies away from claiming his opponent’s castle. No, no, he needs to fully concentrate now more than ever, has to strategise his attacks and where to position his soldiers.

 

“I came over so we could hang out,” Ten whines, slinging an arm over Sicheng’s waist. They were on Sicheng’s bed — or Sicheng was on Sicheng’s bed, and Ten had come and slithered his way at his side, pushing him off centre. “Aren’t you being a little rude?” 

 

“Actually, we came over to study,” Kun says from the couch, notes sprawled all over Sicheng’s tiny coffee table. 

 

“Yes, and we are taking a break now.” 

 

“You took a break 10 minutes ago.”

 

“Ugh,” Ten rubs at his face, glowering. “Tell Sicheng to get off his phone too, then!”

 

“Sicheng’s done with his work. You —” Kun says, then picks up a piece of paper, presumably Ten’s, half-filled and unfinished. “— are not.” 

 

“I can’t concentrate,” Ten whines, then whips out his own phone. Kun rolls his eyes and turns to continue with his work as Ten scrolls through his feed and Sicheng defeats the first army — this is good, he’s so close to winning. A few minutes in then Sicheng feels Ten’s fingers pinching at his cheek.

 

“Your fans are so worried about Mr. Wong breaking your heart,” he says, fingers moving to Sicheng’s jaw instead to turn his face towards him slightly. He sighs wistfully, shaking his head to himself. “What they don’t know is that you have the face of a heartbreaker yourself.” 

 

Sicheng’s eyes don’t leave his phone screen, but his attention has been piqued. “Huh,” Sicheng questions, thumb pressing rapidly on the ‘attack’ button. “What’s that supposed to mean? Also, why Mr. Wong?”

 

“I mean if it ever comes down to it, you can break his heart before he breaks yours. Also Mr. Wong sounds, like, more evil than Lucas. What kind of little-boy name is Lucas?” 

 

Sicheng’s attention has left his phone now, face finally turning to face Ten fully, and he ignores Ten’s exclaim of oh so when it’s about Yukhei you wanna talk to me! as he asks, “Why would he break my heart?”  

 

“I’m just saying. You know, if things happen. I’m not saying they will, but just in case they do,” Ten hums, fingers still on Sicheng’s jaw, turning his head here and there like he was a doll, observing, admiring. “You’re handsome and talented and there is a line of people out there who want to date you, even if you don’t know them. Yukhei doesn’t have anything that you don’t and I’ll be damned if he’s the one doing the heart breaking between the two of you.” 

 

Sicheng pouts at him, his phone screen beginning to darken from his lack of tending. He’s definitely lost the round now. “Nothing is going to happen,” he says, then rolls so he’s on his stomach instead, looking down at Ten who was still on his back. “But you know…Ten-ge, he’s actually a really nice guy. I just — all the rumours around him just don’t… match up. He doesn’t seem to be the casanova people think he is. Rumours are rumours for a reason, right?” 

 

And it’s true. All that Sicheng’s learned from the past month of fake-dating Yukhei was that Yukhei was genuinely such a kind and funny gentleman that Sicheng really enjoys being around. Sure he posts some greasy pictures and videos with equally greasy captions sometimes, but that has become something Sicheng used to be grossed out about, to something that he’s found a little bit endearing, now that he knows how Yukhei is really like. Yukhei is polite and takes care of Sicheng in ways that makes Sicheng feel like Yukhei is a lot older than he really is, and that veiled maturity under his boyish front is a trait that Sicheng has become very fond of over the course of the past few weeks. 

 

They’ve been going on dates once a week — twice if Sicheng’s up for it on the weekend and Yukhei isn’t busy — and Sicheng will never let anyone know, but it’s sort of starting to become the highlight of his week. He loves hanging out with Ten and Kun very, very much, but there’s just something about the giddiness of thinking about how to dress up on the day, how to do his hair, what shade of lipstick he should wear, where they should go for the date, the knowledge that people can’t stop looking at them when they’re out because they just looked so good together, offhanded comments of ‘you don’t see couples like that often,’ that he overhears fuelling up whatever sort of dual Yukhei-Sicheng ego he’s formed ever since the whole ordeal started. And then there’s — well, Yukhei himself. Handsome Yukhei with his entertaining and funny stories that are always accompanied by his boisterous, contagious, high-pitched laughter. Kind and polite Yukhei who helps pull Sicheng’s chair out for him to sit down on and wipes the crumbs from the corner of Sicheng’s lips when they eat out. Sunny and smiley Yukhei who is really, really good at acting, might be just as good as Sicheng, always making sure to look at Sicheng like he’s the only person he can see, so that the phone cameras pointed at them can take perfect pictures of it. 

 

They go to eat out mostly, Yukhei fulfilling his promise of bringing Sicheng to all his favourite food places, and they exchange stories and laughter over the table, learning more and more about each other with each passing date. Sicheng learns that Yukhei can’t actually cook all that well — though he seems to be better at it than Sicheng, at least — and that he has a lion tattoo on the lower left part of his torso. Says that it’s covered with a muzzle, and that it’s a reminder to himself to always remember not to hurt others and to be a protector to those around him. “Lions are aggressive animals where they’ll eat anything when they’re hungry. But when they’re not hungry, they won’t care even if a person walks by. It’s a reminder to me that I shouldn’t hurt other people around me, even when I’m hungry. For success! That’s why it has a muzzle on.” 

 

Sicheng is a reserved person, often choosing to keep facts about himself to himself. But it’s easy with Yukhei — the words tend to just roll out, and sometimes he worries about oversharing, but Yukhei’s attentive eyes and big, toothy grin always wash those worries away. Sicheng tells Yukhei that he doesn’t get to see his mother very often, even during the holidays since she’s so far away, and that he misses her a lot, and that he has a sister in New Zealand whom he’s only met three times in his life. He shares a story about how he almost burnt down his kitchen back in first year while attempting to cook salmon, and that he would have burnt it down had Kun not come in time. He talks about Ten and Kun too — “They’re my best friends, I really cherish them a lot. Ten can be clingy and a little overbearing sometimes but he’s the most supportive, caring and loving person I’ve ever met. Kun is super smart and reliable, gives great advice, and I trust him with my life.” Yukhei says that he’d love to meet them whenever he could, and Sicheng panics for a little bit — can he really trust Ten to be in the same room as Yukhei without embarrassing him? — but tells Yukhei that they’ll definitely be able to meet soon.

 

The first time they kissed was on a Wednesday morning, in front of Sicheng’s performing arts department building. Sicheng had a 9am class that day, and he was pleasantly surprised to see Yukhei waiting for him in front of his dorm, perched on his bike.

 

“Yukhei? What are you doing out so early?” From what Sicheng remembered, Yukhei’s classes on Wednesdays starts at 10, and it’s only a little half past 8.

 

“Wanted to go with you,” Yukhei had replied with a lopsided smile. “Performing arts building, 9am, right? Hop on.” 

 

Sicheng had sat on the little passenger seat at the back of the bike, his long legs perched to one side. His hands had rested on Yukhei’s back for safety, but Yukhei had rode the bike so smoothly that Sicheng hadn’t worried about falling off even once.

 

When they arrived at Sicheng’s building and Sicheng had gotten off to adjust the strap of his blue duffel bag, ready to thank Yukhei for the ride, he had found Yukhei staring at him with a strange, yearning look in his big, round eyes. 

 

Sicheng had cocked his head in question. “What’s up?”

 

“Can I kiss you?”

 

Sicheng had blinked at him. Yukhei had laughed quietly, eyes averting to his shoes, hand going up to scratch at his nape. “A lot of people are looking. Thought I could give you a little goodbye kiss before you go. It’s okay if you don’t—“ 

 

Sicheng had cut him off — or maybe Sicheng answered him — by closing the small distance between them with a step forward, tilting his face up to slot his lips flush against Yukhei’s own. It was short and sweet, a small press of the lips, and Sicheng had pulled away just slightly afterwards, so that they weren’t kissing anymore but their faces were still close enough he could feel Yukhei’s breath fanning his lips. Yukhei had stood frozen still for a bit, big eyes blinking at him in surprise, until his mouth splits into a grin so wide it made his eyes crinkle into little slits. And Yukhei’s smiles were always so, so, incredibly contagious, so Sicheng found himself smiling along with him. And then he had felt Yukhei’s warm, large hands cupping his neck, his face, and then their lips are meeting again, and he thinks he feels a lot of teeth in there, because they’re both laughing as Yukhei leaned in again once, twice, thrice.

 

It’s Yukhei who had pulled away first, who told Sicheng that Sicheng is going to be late if they continue, have a good day, I’ll see you later, I love you. Voice always audible enough for others to hear, smile bright and eyes loving as he waved Sicheng goodbye, riding off to his own social sciences building. 

 

Ever since that morning, Yukhei waiting for him in front of his dorm at dawn has become a norm. “You don’t have to, you know. I feel bad that you’re waking up earlier than you have to,” Sicheng had told him. Yukhei had shook his head, smiled, and told him that “I don’t mind if it’s for you, Sicheng-ge,” and sometimes he says things like that that confuse Sicheng — because nobody else can hear it, just Sicheng, so what was he trying to accomplish?

 

Sometimes Yukhei doesn’t make the mornings though, having overslept or being too tired from the night before. He’d text Sicheng apologies and sparkling sad-eye emojis later in the day, says that he’ll definitely come tomorrow, to which Sicheng would reply with a 'I’m glad you got to sleep a little more this morning, you know that I’m totally fine with walking right?'

 

And ever since that morning, kisses between them have also become a thing. They’d kiss every time Yukhei would drop him off in the morning. They’d kiss at dates they have at the park over cream biscuits and strawberry sandwiches, inside photo booths where they’d take silly pictures to post later, over the table filled with their textbooks when they’d study in the library together when they had too much work for proper Thursday dates. And there would be so many photos and videos of it afterwards, from low-quality candids to photoshoot-level images that could pass off as a movie poster. And Sicheng thinks that maybe he could get used to a new pair of lips and a new set of hands after all, if they were Yukhei’s. 

 

Ugh,” Sicheng is pulled out of his reminiscent Yukhei-filled daydream and back into reality, where Ten is on his bed, looking up at him in disgust. “You’ve got that stupid smile on your face again. You should be thankful that you’re so cute. I don’t think I would be able to stand it anymore if you weren’t.”

 

Sicheng frowns at him. “What smile?”

 

“The one you always have when you talk about Yukhei. Yukhei who’s actually a really cool guy, you know, Ten-ge? ” Ten’s voice goes mock high-pitched when he says the last sentence. Sicheng shoves at his shoulder and tells him that he does not talk like that, my voice is deeper than yours!

 

Then Sicheng rolls over so that he’s on his back too, and now they’re both facing the ceiling. Ten’s got his arms pillowing the back of his head, and Sicheng’s are folded on his stomach, fingers fiddling with each other. “We’re just friends,” Sicheng says to Ten, or maybe he’s saying it to himself. “Really, we are. I just think he’s a really nice person. You know it’s really hard for me to get close to new people, ge. But it’s really easy with him. I feel…comfortable. I guess I’m just excited about it.” 

 

He hears Ten sigh. “I know, baby. I’m just playing with you. I’m happy you’re meeting new people, but it’s just so funny that it’s ball-dribbling, muscle man, winky-face Lucas out of all people. He’s the last person I’d expect you to be best buds with,” he laughs, and pinches Sicheng’s ear when Sicheng pouts at him. “But if you like him, then I like him too. And if I like him, then Kun probably likes him too,” Kun lets out a grunt of approval from the other side of the room, nose still buried in his textbook. “I know you can take care of yourself. But just be careful, okay? I don’t want you to go through another Jaehyun situation all over again so quickly. It hurts me to see you hurt. That’s all.” 

 

Sicheng chews at his lower lip. “I know…” he sighs. He picks at his nails, but Ten is pinching at his wrist, tsking at him to stop. Sicheng curls his fingers into his palms instead. “Thank you, gege. If I ever… you know. If it gets out of hand—“

 

“If you catch feelings,” Ten says for him, and Sicheng whines pitifully.

 

“If things get out of hand,” Sicheng repeats instead, “I’ll tell you about it right away. And then you’ll talk some sense into me, right?”

 

“Of course, baby,” Ten tugs at his ear softly again. A gentle but unsure smile spreads over his face. “Always.” 







The cafe is a little more crowded today — a little too crowded for Sicheng’s liking, but it’s expected, because it was half past 5 on a Tuesday afternoon, when most classes have ended and students are coming in for a warmer and more calming alternative study area to the campus library. Sicheng’s 8 to 11 dance practice had been cancelled, because Minghao’s feeling a little under the weather and Ten had a test to study for (“Please don’t tell Kun, he’ll never let me live for wasting so much time during our actual study sessions,”) so Sicheng had opted to use the next spare few hours to catch up on his work for the week, and maybe work on a little ahead of schedule so he can relax the week after.

 

He came in the cafe just early enough to snag the cozy and spacey corner table, surface large enough to lay out all his books comfortably. He’s decided to work on his English homework first, granted it is the subject he neglects the most, considering he only really studies it when he’s with Ten, and that he doesn’t really end up doing much studying when he is with Ten… and also because he’s much more focused on improving his Korean. Who thought it was a good idea to learn two new languages at once?

 

He’s also texted Yukhei earlier that day, to tell him that he’s free after class, if Yukhei would like to hang out. He tells Yukhei that it’s totally fine if he isn’t free and that Sicheng has a lot of work anyway, but Yukhei is texting him a ‘corner seat at bizzy’s?? be there at 6 with a snack. guess what snack!! ’ and so Sicheng is now doing his English homework with a smile on his face, patiently waiting for the clock to strike 6. 

 

Sicheng keeps his face in his books, the hour having been mostly productive, but when he sits up for a good stretch, eyes glancing swiftly over the cafe, he spots Jung Jaehyun, makes eye contact, and then kind of wants to die a little. 

 

Jung Jaehyun isn’t alone, his right arm held by another handsome man of the same height, a man that Sicheng also recognises very well. And Sicheng panics, prays to all the Gods he knows that Jaehyun doesn’t walk to him, maybe if he looks away he can just pretend he’d never seen him in the first place? But it’s too late, because Jaehyun is approaching him, and, and — Sicheng’s only seen him twice in real life since their break up, both encounters having been extremely awkward, their pathways rarely ever crossing because of their differing schedules. 

 

“Sicheng. Long time no see,” Jaehyun says when he reaches Sicheng’s table, a hesitant smile on his handsome face — his handsome, handsome face. His dark hair is unstyled, bangs covering his forehead, not up in that slick one-strand-down that Sicheng is head over heels for. But Sicheng’s heart is beating quickly nonetheless, out of nervousness, out of his sheer want of getting the fuck out of here.

 

Sicheng smiles as happily as he can, and gives him a wave. “Jaehyun. Doyoung hyung,” he stands up to bow to the man glued at Jaehyun’s side. Senior Doyoung, who’s doing a masters in Japanese. Sicheng remembers him to be really kind, always helping him with his Korean, and also intimidatingly smart, sort of like Kun. Doyoung smiles at him.

 

“Good evening, Sicheng. I hope you’ve been well,” Doyoung gestures vaguely at all of Sicheng’s books on the table. “Working hard on your English?”

 

“Yes,” Sicheng replies in English, bobbing his head. “I’m trying my best.”

 

Doyoung reaches over to ruffle his hair fondly, but the touch burns. “Always such a hard worker.” 

 

“So,” Jaehyun clears his throat, and Sicheng’s eyes revert back to him. He’s studying the menu by the counter. “I think I’ll get an Americano and a blueberry muffin to go. What about you, babe?”

 

It’s the familiar pet name and the way Jaehyun says it that makes knots twist at the bottom of Sicheng’s stomach. He used to call me that , Sicheng thinks, and it’s so, so pathetic, because it’s been months and Jaehyun’s clearly moved on and it’s really time for Sicheng to move on too. ’“I think I’m going to go look at the cakes in the display. I’ll go order for you,” Doyoung glances back at Sicheng and gives him a friendly grin and a wink. “I’ll see you around, Sicheng. Keep up the good work, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you ever need help, yeah? Korean or English, I’ll help you with both.”

 

“Of course. Thank you, Doyoung hyung,” I am absolutely never going to do that , but you are such a nice person and I am sorry our friendship has been tainted by the unfortunate fact that you are dating my ex, he thinks in his head. And when Doyoung begins walking away to the counter, Sicheng realises that he’s going to be left alone with Jaehyun, and now he desperately wants Doyoung to come back as soon as possible. 

 

Sicheng chooses to stare at his textbooks instead of looking at the man standing awkwardly by his table. He wants to say something to fill the silence — I think the blueberry muffins at Kintori’s are much better. Did you do well on your midterms? I think that’s the most stressed I’ve been my entire life, I don’t know how I’m gonna deal with the end-of-year exams. Hey, I think about you sometimes, do you think about me too?

 

“How are you?” Jaehyun cuts the silence between them first. Sicheng finally, finally looks up and sees Jaehyun looking right at him, unwavering, shoulders relaxed. And he hates it, the fact that Jaehyun doesn’t seem half as nervous as he is, as affected, hates the fact that Jaehyun can read him like an open book, Jaehyun who probably feels kind of bad for him right now because of how anxious Sicheng must look.

 

“I’m — okay,” Sicheng answers. “Been busy. Lots of work these days. Third year is as tough as I thought it’d be,” he laughs softly, and Jaehyun laughs a little too, nodding in agreement. 

 

“Tell me about it. Coffee’s nice but the amount I’ve been drinking the past month should be a borderline health risk. You’re always the nerd ahead of everyone else, though, Sicheng. You have nothing to worry about,” Jaehyun teases, and it makes Sicheng’s heartstrings twist a little bit. He bites the inside of his cheek. “I hope you’re getting time to rest, though. You always work too hard. You have practice later tonight, right?”

 

He remembers, Sicheng thinks. Jaehyun remembers the days Sicheng had dance practice. Sicheng hates that there is something hopeful bubbling at the pit of his stomach. He crushes it down immediately. 

 

“I am,” Sicheng says. “Actually, practice got cancelled today. So I wanted to catch up on work this week and then maybe sleep a little earlier tonight.” He picks at his nails under the table. “How about you? I hope you’ve been getting enough rest too.” Because I know you’re a bit of a night owl, you never really get enough sleep, it’s a bad habit, especially with all the coffee you drink.

 

Jaehyun lets out a soft laugh, airy and breathy. “Don’t worry. Today’s my rest day, actually. We’re actually on our way back to my place now, but Doyoungie wanted to pick up some dessert before we got home. His evening class got rescheduled to next week so we were just planning on chilling together for the day. God knows we need it,” Jaehyun is looking at his shoes when he laughs, eyes crinkling into little pretty slits because he’s smiling so hard, and yeah, it kind of hurts. Granted, Sicheng has been greatly distracted the past month because of the fact that he’s lying to the world about having a boyfriend, and said fake boyfriend has been occupying a lot of his attention, and Sicheng hasn’t been thinking of Jaehyun much. He doesn’t visit his profile and rewatch his ‘Me :)’ highlight daily anymore. Sicheng can proudly and confidently say he’s no longer very badly whipped for Jung Jaehyun, and really, he would even say that he’s over Jaehyun. But nothing compares to the feeling of seeing Jaehyun in flesh up close like this — and not just Jaehyun, but Jaehyun with his handsome, smart, senior boyfriend Doyoung who’s probably much better than Sicheng in every area of life he could think of. Jaehyun who smiles so hard his eyes crinkle when he’s talking about said handsome, smart, senior boyfriend because he’s so happy and very much in love with somebody else.

 

Sicheng realises at this very moment that he isn’t over Jaehyun, and it hurts, it hurts, he wants to bolt out of there so very badly, as quickly as possible. Sicheng thinks of something to say — something general and boring like I’m glad you’re getting lots of rest. I know you tend to sleep really late, as long as it’ll hide the despaired train wreck he’s experiencing inside himself.

 

He opens his mouth to reply, but he’s interrupted. Interrupted by what he thinks is his knight in shining armour, in the form of Wong Yukhei in basketball attire, except instead of the usual yellow and blue basketball jersey, he’s wearing a black hoodie that Sicheng thinks look really good on him. His hair is damp and unkempt after what Sicheng assumes is a post basketball-game shower, plastic bag in hand. Despite that, he still always manages to look so, so devilishly handsome.

 

“Baby,” Yukhei singsongs loudly, entrance dramatic enough to make a few heads turn, feet making a beeline for his table. He’s panting when he reaches Sicheng, palms resting on the table. “Sorry I’m late. The campus mart ran out of daifuku so I went to the corner shop outside to get one,” then he gasps, and groans. “Oh wait! You were supposed to guess what snack I was gonna bring you!”

 

Sicheng laughs into the back of his palm. “Convenience store strawberry daifuku?”

 

“Your favourite! But I’ve already told you by accident so it’s not fair,” Yukhei says, before he’s gently cupping Sicheng’s face with his free hand and leaning down for a short, sweet kiss. Something akin to relief floods Sicheng when their lips meet, and the smile Yukhei has on his face when he pulls away feels a lot like home. And then Yukhei is turning to his side, eyes meeting with Jaehyun’s, and Sicheng gulps. 

 

“Oh!” Yukhei exclaims, like he wasn’t aware of Jaehyun awkwardly standing there watching their exchange for the past minute. “Sicheng’s friend? I’m Yukhei, nice to meet you,” he reaches a hand out, which Jaehyun accepts with a smile.

 

“Lucas Wong,” Jaehyun says, pulling his hand away after a shake. “Honour to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

 

Yukhei hums, eyeing him. “Have you?” 

 

“You’re kind of everywhere,” Jaehyun laughs, eyes going to his shoes. He’s got his hands in his pocket, and Sicheng pays attention to the little movements of his fingers under it. It’s a nervous habit. Jaehyun doesn’t get nervous a lot. He wonders if Jaehyun has been receiving invasive messages in his inbox about Sicheng or Yukhei because of the unfortunate fact that he’s dated Sicheng in the past, and that Sicheng’s current fake relationship is a very publicised one. He knows Jaehyun monitors his own post comments and will tend to delete the ones he doesn’t like, though he’s never had much hate targeted at him anyways — there really wasn’t any reason to dislike him, except maybe out of jealousy.

 

“I hope they’re good things then,” Yukhei says, then glances over at Sicheng, eyes studying him, scrutinising Sicheng under his piercing, observing gaze, before he looks back at Jaehyun. “Thank you for keeping Sicheng-ge company while I was running late. I still haven’t caught your name, by the way.” 

 

Sicheng looks at Yukhei. He knows Yukhei knows who Jaehyun is and how he looks like. Yukhei may be the campus it-boy but so was Jung Jaehyun. Yukhei gets so many comments about him under his posts, and so does Sicheng, and Sicheng knows Yukhei would’ve looked Jaehyun up already by now, that is if he didn’t know who he was already.

 

“Ah,” Jaehyun rubs the back of his nape sheepishly. “Jung Jaehyun. It’s nice to meet you.”

 

“Wong Yukhei, even though you know that already,” Yukhei says back with a sunny smile. “The pleasure’s mine.” Then he turns to look at Sicheng again, who’s watching the exchange with jittery feet bouncing under the table on the wooden cafe floor. “You ready? I’ll help you pack —“ he flaps his free hand vaguely over the table, “all this.”

 

Sicheng blinks at him, eyes silently questioning. “Ready…for?” 

 

Yukhei cocks his head like it’s the most obvious thing. “You said you wanted to continue back at my place.” Then Yukhei gasps, face morphing into one of mock offence, and pouts at him. “You didn’t forget about movie night, did you? I even bought the expensive double chocolate chip ice cream you like so much last night.” 

 

Sicheng has no idea what Yukhei is talking about — has told him nothing about wanting to continue his work back at Yukhei’s, nor does a weekly movie night exist. However, Sicheng does like the overpriced Haagen Dazs double chocolate chip ice cream that isn’t really that overpriced, because it tastes so good, or maybe Sicheng just has too much money. But Yukhei’s eyes are wide and telling and Sicheng understands, Yukhei is just too good at this, and he’s thankful, that Yukhei always seems to know what to do.

 

“Oh yeah,” Sicheng pats at Yukhei’s forearm gently, shooting him an apologetic smile. “I didn’t forget! There’s just too much English in my brain right now.” 

 

“I’ll pretend to believe that because you’re cute,” Yukhei says as he begins to collect Sicheng’s books. “God, baby, aren’t you worried about your shoulders? It can’t be good to be carrying this many books at once. I’m taking some.” ‘Some’ ends up being all of the thicker textbooks Sicheng owned, leaving Sicheng with only the thinner notebooks that he used to take down notes. Sicheng tells him that it’s fine and he’s used to it, he’s been doing this for three years! But Yukhei is batting his protesting hands away and telling him that he’ll be carrying Sicheng’s bag from now on when they’re together, if he refuses to be more selective with the stuff he brings instead of bringing everything and risking pulling a muscle. Sicheng huffs at him but it’s fond, lower lip between his teeth in an attempt to suppress a smile as he watches Yukhei wear the straps of his now textbook-filled bag.

 

When they’re both standing up and Sicheng is adjusting his clothes, wrinkled from being in the same position for so long, he finds Yukhei staring at him. “Your hair’s all ruffled. Here,” Yukhei says, before he’s stepping in a little closer, fingers coming to adjust the bangs on Sicheng’s forehead. The touch doesn’t burn — it’s warm and welcomed and Sicheng studies Yukhei’s concentrated face as he fixes his strands. And when Yukhei is satisfied with his work, he steps back a little and grins at him. “All good. Let’s go.” 

 

Yukhei pats at Jaehyun’s shoulder as he walks past, tells him it was nice meeting him and that he’ll see him around. Sicheng follows behind, stopping by Jaehyun to give him a smile that he hopes doesn’t look as forced as it feels. “See you around, Jaehyun. Take care of yourself,” he says, picking at the straps of his bag. “Don’t drink too much coffee and get enough sleep. Tell Doyoung-hyung that I send him my regards.” 

 

Jaehyun laughs heartily, eyes looking down at his shoes briefly before they meet Sicheng’s again. Sicheng really likes the way little wrinkles form around his eyes when he laughs and smiles. “You take care of yourself too, Sicheng. Study hard but not too hard.” 

 

Sicheng nods and smiles at him, and when he’s about to turn around and follow Yukhei out the shop, Jaehyun is calling out to him, suddenly, almost like an afterthought. Sicheng turns back around to face him again. Jaehyun looks at him for a bit, eyes searching around his face, like he’s thinking. Then he smiles, small and warm and sincere.

 

“I’m glad you’re happy, Sicheng.”







When Sicheng leaves the shop, he spots Yukhei standing under the cafe’s velvet canopies, leaning against the glass wall, hugging himself and rubbing his hoodie-clad arms with his hands in attempt to create warmth.

 

Yukhei turns to face him when hears the exit jingle of the door. “Wow does it get cold at night. Maybe I should’ve changed out of my basketball shorts,” then he looks Sicheng up and down, and gestures to his jacket — a long navy blue coat that ended by his knees. “Is that keeping you warm enough? You can have my hood—“ he pauses, cutting himself short when Sicheng comes close enough for him to see his red-rimmed eyes and pink nose. The evidence is there, despite Sicheng’s attempt to blink back the stupid tears that threatened to spill out. He’s just glad he managed to hold it in for long enough that he didn’t end up crying in front of Jaehyun. Now that would’ve been a whole new level of humiliation. 

 

“Hey,” Yukhei is in front of him immediately, cradling his face and making him look up. His hands are cold. “What’s wrong?” He asks gently, soft enough only for Sicheng to hear. His thumbs rub delicately at Sicheng’s cheekbones, the touch comforting despite the chilliness of his fingers. 

 

Sicheng rubs at his eyes angrily, sniffs furiously, and then huffs. “Nothing. It’s just cold.” Yukhei very obviously doesn’t believe him, if his furrowed eyebrows and concerned eyes say anything. Sicheng wouldn’t believe himself either. Yukhei doesn’t press on though, which Sicheng appreciates a lot, and he jogs a little to catch up with Sicheng when Sicheng wordlessly begins to walk forward and away from the cafe, after he quietly pries off Yukhei’s hands off of his face.

 

It’s silent between them for a while. Just sounds of their footsteps on the gravel floor of the road they often take to go home, and noises of other people around them talking, the pinging of bicycle bells to make way. His dorm isn’t far. He thinks about bidding Yukhei goodbye by the front door of his block and gnaws at the inside of his cheek at the thought of how much he doesn’t want to do that tonight.

 

He picks at his nails, glad that he remembered to cut them earlier during the weekend. “Do you want to come over?” he braves himself to ask after a while, eyes staying on his feet.

 

There’s a pause before Yukhei answers. “Yeah,” he says, and Sicheng looks up at him to find a big, big grin plastered on his face. Sicheng’s shoulders sag in relief. “Yeah, that sounds great. We can get takeout and eat daifuku while watching a movie?”

 

“Sounds perfect,” Sicheng says, and feels his lips stretching into a smile. Yukhei stares at him for a bit before he laughs, airy and soft. Sicheng raises an eyebrow but his smile doesn’t drop, hand punching Yukhei gingerly on the shoulder. “What?”

 

“Nothing,” Yukhei says, grin still as sunny as ever. His eyes skim over Sicheng’s face. “Your smile just looks really good on you, ge.” 

 

Sicheng rolls his eyes despite the blush creeping up on his cheeks, and looks away. Yukhei’s not allowed to see him blush. Especially not after his sick, cursed, greasy flirting that Sicheng totally doesn’t find attractive at all. No, no, he doesn’t enjoy it one bit. Absolutely not. “Always the smooth talker, aren’t you?”

 

“Aw, your ears are all red,” Yukhei coos, reaching over to tuck a strand behind Sicheng’s ear, revealing the evidence out in the open. Sicheng whines and bats his hand away, cupping his exposed ears protectively with his palms. He should’ve remembered his ears! “You secretly like it when I talk all smooth for you, don’t you?” 

 

Yukhei tells him a story about basketball practice today, about how one of his teammates had ripped his pants after attempting to do a split in the middle of the court, so Yukhei had to lend him the pair of pants he was supposed to change into after his post-practice shower. “That’s why I had to re-wear my basketball shorts,” he laughs. “You should’ve been there. The sound of the rip was loud .” 

 

Sicheng laughs along with him, and just like that, he forgets about his shitty afternoon encounter, because Yukhei always does such a great job of distracting him, taking his mind off of things he’d rather not talk about, making him laugh and smile and clap his hands happily because of a funny story. Sicheng asks him if he was allowed to watch him practice, and Yukhei tells him that he’s actually got an upcoming match in a few weeks, and that it’ll make my day if you came, you could be my little good luck charm! My team would totally win. Sicheng tells him that he’d love to and that he’ll mark the date.

 

In the midst of their conversation, Sicheng couldn’t help but notice Yukhei constantly rubbing at his hands and his shoulders, sometimes tucking his hands in his elbows or under his armpit in attempt to warm it up. “You’re really cold, aren’t you?”

 

Yukhei grins sheepishly at him. “I’ve always been better with the heat.” 

 

Sicheng hums contemplatively, before he reaches over to take one of Yukhei’s hands to hold it in between his own. He then rubs at it quickly, creating warmth from the friction. Then he brings it close to his mouth, breathes hot air onto it, then continues to rub it between his own hands. He looks up at Yukhei, who’s staring at him with curious, round eyes. “Better?”

 

“Better,” Yukhei replies softly, watching as Sicheng repeats the motion a few more times, before he links Yukhei’s fingers with his own, then brings it to rest inside his coat pocket. 

 

It’s quiet and peaceful for a while, just them walking hand-in-hand under the setting sun. It gets a little windier when the night falls, and the cold air blowing on his face was beginning to turn the tip of his nose red. But it’s nice like this, Sicheng thinks. The night somehow feels a little warmer tonight.

 

“I didn’t know you were such a romantic, Sicheng-ge.” Yukhei breaks the comfortable silence between them first, his tone teasing and snide but gentle, with no bite to it. Sicheng glowers and pouts at him before he unlinks their fingers, batting Yukhei’s hand out of his pocket.

 

“Noooo take me back,” Yukhei whines, grabbing Sicheng’s hand and linking their fingers again, unceremoniously shoving their joined hands back in Sicheng’s pocket. 

 

Sicheng laughs and bumps their shoulders together, making them stumble a little. “And to think you were trying to offer me your hoodie earlier.”

 

“I have my priorities,” Yukhei teases, bumping him back, a toothy smile stretching over his face.







Sicheng prays that his room isn’t messy today. He doesn’t really remember the state he left it in this morning — whether there’s unfolded laundry dumped on his bed or unwashed plates in the sink. To his relief, however, when he keys in the code and unlocks the door to his room, it’s in a decent state — save for the hoodie by the couch that he forgot to hang, and the pairs of shoes in front of the door that he didn’t line on the shoe rack properly. 

 

“Welcome to my humble abode,” Sicheng says, toeing off his sneakers. “Make yourself comfortable.” 

 

“Gege, your room’s twice the size of mine,” Yukhei says, eyes wide as he circles the area. “You have a double bed? You’re kidding. I’m moving to block C next year.” 

 

“My room during first year was a shoebox too,” Sicheng says, taking off his coat to hang by the coatrack. “I had to share a kitchen and bathroom with a few other boys, but it was first year, so I just dealt with it. I’ll never be able to go back to sharing, though. I appreciate my own space more than anything now.” 

 

“Having your own bathroom sounds like a dream,” Yukhei says, then grimaces. “The shared bathroom on my floor is hell. It’s downright nasty. What the hell do they even do in there to get it so dirty so fast?” Sicheng laughs and tells him he understands, to hang in there until the year is over and get a nice, big ensuite room next year. He goes to his wardrobe and changes quickly out of his turtleneck into a looser and more comfortable sweater, hiding behind one of the wardrobe doors to keep his bare torso out of sight, even though Yukhei was too busy admiring his kitchen (which really wasn’t much, just a cramped corner of the room that Sicheng doesn’t use often except for the refrigerator and the microwave) to notice. 

 

They’ve decided to get fried chicken for takeout — a quick and unanimous decision, because Sicheng had mentioned craving for it yesterday and Yukhei happened to remember. Sicheng scrolls through the movies on Netflix on his TV screen as Yukhei places the order over the phone. When he’s done, he nestles up next to Sicheng on the couch, stretching his long arms and legs, letting a grunt out in the process. “Found something you like?”

 

Sicheng hums. There were so many movies on the screen and he didn’t know what to pick — he was kind of up for anything tonight, really. As long as he was watching it with Yukhei. “What are you in the mood for tonight?” 

 

“Oh!” Yukhei exclaims. He’s got a very mischievous look on his face when Sicheng turns to face him. Uh oh. “How about a horror?”

 

Sicheng whines. “You know I don’t do well with horror.”

 

“Yeah, when you’re alone,” Yukhei says, then slings an arm over Sicheng’s shoulder. “But I’m here now! I’ll beat up every monster or ghost that comes your way, don’t even worry about it. Come on, you said you’ll watch one with me!” He grins and laughs when Sicheng groans, hunching his shoulders close to his ears in disapproval. “But if you really don’t want to then we can always watch something else, of course.” 

 

“Mmm,” Sicheng blinks, contemplating. Maybe watching horror with Yukhei would be fun. “There was one horror movie that I’ve been wanting to watch…” Yukhei is whooping in victory before he even finishes the sentence, and Sicheng rolls his eyes and doesn’t bother to suppress the grin on his face when Yukhei tells him that you can hug me if you’re scared, ge, I’ll protect you.  

 

The movie Sicheng picks is Us , something about how a family gets hunted down by their own clones. It’s peaceful and relatively slow at the start as most horror movies are, but when the jumpscares start coming in, Sicheng is facing away from the screen, hiding his face behind Yukhei’s shoulder, fingers gripping Yukhei’s arm like a vice, chanting I’m not watching it, I don’t want to see it, is it gone yet? like a mantra. Yukhei is cackling loudly at his fear like it brings him joy, tells Sicheng that he’s so cute, that he’s never seen this side of him before, that he wants to watch horror movies with Sicheng all the time if it meant that he gets to see him like this. Sicheng performs a twisting Chinese burn on Yukhei’s forearm in response and relishes in the yelp he gets out of him after. 

 

At one point, Sicheng lets out a noise so traumatising and embarrassing that he wants to erase it from his mind forever when Yukhei’s phone suddenly rings, the sound reverberating throughout the room. It’s the chicken deliveryman telling him that he’s in front of the block. Yukhei tells Sicheng that he’s going to get it (not before he’s pointing and laughing at Sicheng about the horrifying noise that he made earlier, of course) but Sicheng is gripping his wrist and telling him that he’s coming too, because like hell if he’s going to be left alone in his room right now.

 

They thank and pay the deliveryman together before making their way back to Sicheng’s room, hands occupied with chicken-filled boxes in plastic bags, the smell making Sicheng’s stomach grumble. It’s already a little past 8 now, and he’d only realised that he forgot to eat lunch earlier — a bad habit he gets reprimanded for by Kun on a weekly basis (which sometimes earns him a free lunch made by the man himself). 

 

The chicken provides a good distraction for Sicheng, because when it gets scary he just focuses on chewing, letting the spice on his tongue divert his attention away from the scary demon voices on TV. When they’re done with the chicken, Yukhei takes out the boxes of strawberry daifuku from the convenience store plastic bag and proudly presents it to Sicheng, who accepts it like an award, with both hands and a big grin on his face. Ever since Yukhei found out strawberries were Sicheng’s favourite fruit, he had sort of just assumed Sicheng liked strawberry-flavoured everything — which isn’t wrong, except for maybe a few exceptions — and he’d been bringing Sicheng strawberry-flavoured snacks whenever they’d meet up for a study session instead of a proper going-out date. Sicheng definitely likes strawberry daifuku, and enjoys the ones Yukhei bought for him today to his heart’s content.

 

But Sicheng’s always had the habit of finishing his food too quickly — something he’d acquired back in school, because the food will disappear into somebody else’s mouth if he doesn’t eat it quickly enough — and so his source of distraction is gone and he’s back to leaving grip marks on Yukhei’s arms and hiding his face in his shoulder, but he’s sure Yukhei doesn’t mind, if his constant high-pitched laughter throughout the rest of the movie is any indicator.

 

Time is supposed to pass slowly when you do things you don’t like, and Sicheng isn’t a fan of horror movies. Yet the two hours of Us feels much lesser than two hours, and just like that the movie ends, Sicheng’s mind a whirlwind of different theories for the ending. “I’m going to read a plot analysis,” Yukhei says when the credits roll. “Was that the real mom or the fake underground demon mom at the end?”

 

As they discuss theories together, Sicheng realises that he’s been very comfortable for a while now, and it doesn’t register that they’re cuddling on the couch until the TV screen turns dark after the credits finish rolling. Yukhei’s got an arm slung around his shoulder, tucking his body in closer, Sicheng’s head resting on the junction on his neck— naturally, considering how many times Sicheng had hidden his face in there the past two hours. Sicheng’s got a hand resting on Yukhei’s chest and their legs are pressed flush together. A couple weeks ago if somebody had told Sicheng he’d be cuddling Wong Yukhei on his couch during a movie, maybe he would’ve felt a little mortified. It’d never happen, it wasn’t a part of their deal — it’s all business, no commitment, you do your own thing and I do mine. But now, now— now it feels like this is how it was always supposed to be. It feels right, it feels warm, something akin to the relief he felt when Yukhei showed up at the cafe earlier. Sicheng feels comfortable, safe, like he had always meant to be here. 

 

He doesn’t want to get up, but the conversation has come to an end, and Yukhei hums softly as a silence passes through the room for a few seconds. And he doesn’t think Yukhei would push him away any time soon— he’s too sweet for that — so Sicheng makes a move to lift himself off of Yukhei’s hold.

 

But Yukhei’s hand on his shoulder is keeping him down, preventing him from moving. “Stayyy,” Yukhei whines, pushing Sicheng closer to himself. “Just for a little longer.” 

 

Sicheng laughs a little, adjusting his head so his nose isn’t squished against Yukhei’s neck. His hand on Yukhei’s chest drags further out until it’s wrapped around his torso. He’ll let himself enjoy this — he has no reason not to. “It’s getting kinda late,” he says quietly. He wonders if his lashes tickle Yukhei’s neck. He wonders if Yukhei is ticklish.

 

“Mhm,” Yukhei hums in response.

 

“Do you…maybe —“ his fingers trace patterns on Yukhei’s waist. Not ticklish. Sicheng can hear his own heartbeat through his ears. “Do you maybe want to stay over? For the night?” 

 

Yukhei lets out a breath so loud and long his chest lowers with the intensity of it. Sicheng hadn’t even noticed he was holding it in, and he looks up to find Yukhei beaming at him. “I thought you’d never ask, to be honest,” he laughs, and Sicheng feels the vibration of it with his own body where it was pressed against Yukhei’s. “That would be nice. I like your room more than mine anyway.” 

 

“Okay,” Sicheng grins, a flood of relief flowing through him at the realisation that he doesn’t have to bid Yukhei goodbye anytime soon tonight. He continues to trace shapes on Yukhei’s waist — circles, stars, hearts, feels Yukhei’s pulse on his arm.

 

Another silence falls between them again. It’s nice, comfortable, warm, and Sicheng feels like he can stay like this forever. But he knows he needs to think about giving Yukhei some clothes to change into, a spare pillow and a blanket for him to sleep with, ask him if wants to take another shower before bed. He’ll think about that later, though. Right now he just wants to stay like this. A dangerous decision, he thinks, because his eyelids along with the rest of his body feel heavier by the second. 

 

“Hey,” he’s pulled out of his almost-slumber when he feels Yukhei’s mouth atop of his head, lips mouthing words softly into his hair. “Are you okay?”

 

Sicheng blinks the sleep away and tries to decipher Yukhei’s words. “Huh?”

 

“What happened earlier,” Yukhei says, and Sicheng is suddenly very awake. “We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to. I just want to know if you’re okay.” 

 

Sicheng looks up slowly at him, blinking sleepily. “…I’m okay,” he says softly. He smiles and slaps Yukhei lightly on the chest when the man gives him an overly dramatic sceptic look, wide eyes, furrowed eyebrows, scrunched lips and all. “I’m okay,” Sicheng repeats, laughing. “I mean it.”

 

Yukhei holds his exaggerated look of doubt for a few seconds before his face relaxes completely, head falling back to rest on the couch. “Good,” he says, eyes closed as he faced the ceiling. “Because I’m not leaving you until you are.”

 

Sicheng’s stomach does something funny. He doesn’t acknowledge it, pretends it’s not there. “You’re not leaving for the night anyway.”

 

“Exactly,” Yukhei opens his eyes and lifts his head to look at Sicheng. “Everything’s going according to plan.”

 

“What? Your plan to overstay your time here?”

 

“Is it really overstaying if you want me to stay?” Yukhei sticks his tongue out then skilfully jolts his body away to avoid Sicheng’s Pinch Of Wrath.

 

When they’re done wrestling on the couch and are back to cuddling again — because that’s what good pals do, wrestle each other and cuddle it out afterwards — Sicheng begins tracing patterns on Yukhei’s chest again.

 

“You’re about to ask me something again, aren’t you?” Yukhei asks, shifting his head a little to look down at Sicheng, who’s resting on his shoulder.

 

“What?”

 

“When you start tracing with your fingers,” Yukhei points out, “then it means you’re about to ask or tell me something that makes you nervous.” 

 

Sicheng feels heat crawl up his face — does that mean Yukhei knows Sicheng was nervous about asking him to stay over? But how would he know that? And what does Yukhei think of Sicheng being nervous over asking him to stay over? Oh my god , that’s embarrassing — and then curls his fingers into his palm, forming a loose fist instead. He pouts. “I’ve only done it once.” 

 

Yukhei snorts. “Sure.” 

 

It’s a few quiet seconds before Sicheng opens his mouth to speak up. “That man you met at the cafe earlier…that was—“

 

“Jung Jaehyun,” Yukhei cuts him. Then he grins down at Sicheng. “The ex-boyfriend. I know.” 

 

Sicheng sighs, not surprised. There was just no way Yukhei didn’t know who Jaehyun was, or at least of his name. “I had a feeling you did…” he tilts his head up to look at Yukhei, who’s already looking down carefully at him, studying, observing. “You pretended not to. How come?”

 

“I don’t know,” Yukhei says honestly. He hums and it makes his thick lips jut out in a pout. “The words kind of just came out. Things just happened. Should I have not pretended?” 

 

“No,” Sicheng retorts quickly, hands going to play with strings of Yukhei’s hoodie just so that they could be occupied with something. “You did…you did good. You know, when I saw you come into the cafe, I was so relieved. You totally saved me. I was in a bit of a sticky situation.” 

 

Sicheng almost regrets his words when he looks at Yukhei and finds him looking smug as hell, a big, shit-eating grin plastered on his face. “Like a superhero?”

 

“Sure, whatever you want,” Sicheng rolls his eyes, then feels his lips stretch into a smile. He looks away from Yukhei’s face, eyes going to observe the way he’s wrapped Yukhei’s hoodie string around his own finger. “Hey, thank you.” 

 

“Don’t mention it,” Yukhei says. “If the ex-boyfriend comes your way again and you need a sexy superhero to come save you, I’m only one call away. Do you think I should get a new nickname for my new job?” 

 

“If you want,” Sicheng giggles, and Yukhei begins listing down a few names for his new alias. (“How about Boyfriend Scooper?” “Why on earth would you name yourself Boyfriend Scooper?” “Because I scoop you, my showbiz boyfriend, out of sticky situations.” “…Oh. I guess that kind of makes sense.” “Right?”)

 

Another silence falls over them again when they’re done (they indeed settled on Boyfriend Scooper, it had a nice ring to it). Sicheng feels Yukhei’s hand crawl from where it was resting on his shoulder up to his head, stroking the hair there. 

 

“You can let it out, you know,” he says. “I won’t judge. Or ask any questions, if you don’t want me to.” 

 

Sicheng blinks slowly, the stroking motions of Yukhei’s large, warm hands on his head lulling him back to the sleepy state he was in a few moments before. “What?”

 

“If you want to vent,” Yukhei says, “I’ll be here to listen. Only if you want to.” 

 

Sicheng sighs, nuzzling closer into Yukhei’s warm body — which felt like a heat furnace, by the way, perfect for how cold it was starting to get in the room — and closes his eyes. His lids were starting to get too heavy. “You know, I really wish I could talk shit about Jaehyun sometimes. I think it would make me feel a little bit better. But I can’t, because he’s just too -- too nice.” 

 

Yukhei is silent, only humming in acknowledgement and continuing to pet Sicheng’s head, as a way to show that he’s listening. No judgements, no questions asked, like he promised.

 

“Obviously he has his flaws. Everyone does. But it wasn’t because of that that we broke things off,” Sicheng bites his inner cheek, chewing on it nervously. “He just didn’t love me anymore. Said we lost the spark we used to have. It was that simple. I guess time can do that to people. But I just—“ Sicheng inhales, sighs. He’s only told this story once — to Ten and Kun a few months ago when the incident was still fresh, in which he had cried his eyes out and sobbed uncontrollably into Kun’s shoulder. Now, he feels empty, emotionless — a dull hollowness present somewhere inside him as he retells it. “Jaehyun was my first boyfriend. The first time I’ve ever opened my heart like that for someone. I didn’t think it was possible to love somebody as much as I loved him. And I was still so in love with him, even when he told me that he no longer felt the same way.” 

 

He thinks about meeting Jaehyun earlier back at the cafe. How Jaehyun’s genuinely moved on and having a good time with a new lover who makes him happy. How Jaehyun is happy for Sicheng because Sicheng is supposedly doing well with his made-up pretend relationship but Sicheng can’t feel the same way about him, doesn’t have it in him to say congratulations for finding somebody that reignited the spark they had lost. It makes him feel like shit, makes him feel selfish and pathetic and mean. It’s stupid, so stupid, because it’s been so long and he just needs to get over it. Maybe Yukhei might’ve noticed his face twist into something bitter, because he’s turning himself to face Sicheng to pull him in for a full on Yukhei-hug, an arm around his middle and another on Sicheng’s head, continuing to stroke his hair there. And Sicheng doesn’t protest it, because this way Yukhei wouldn’t be able to see his face, his angry scrunched eyebrows and sad eyes.

 

He inhales Yukhei’s scent — a mix of some musky man-cologne and a warm, woody scent that was very distinctly Yukhei, and continues. “It’s not his fault for falling out of love with me, though. And it’d be unfair to him if I kept him around just because I was still in love. And he was just — so nice about it. Kept telling me that it wasn’t me, it was him, that I’m perfect the way I am,” he scoffs. “I didn’t believe him, obviously. For the longest time, I wondered where it went wrong. What I did wrong. What it was about me that he didn’t love anymore. And sometimes I still think about it. Whether the people I’ll love in the future will end up falling out of love with me too, whether I’ll end up driving them away just like I did with him, and I wouldn’t know why.” 

 

A few silent beats pass. Yukhei still hasn’t said a word, and when the bitterness-turned-anger simmering in his chest had begun to subside, he starts to feel kind of dumb. He slowly pulls himself away from Yukhei’s hold to look at him properly. “Sorry. I’m being stupid. It’s not even that big of a deal.” 

 

“You’re not being stupid at all,” Yukhei says earnestly, his tone firm but not biting. His eyebrows are furrowed, his lips jutted out in a small, disapproving, pouty frown. “I’m sorry you had to go through that. Breakups suck and everyone deals with it at different paces. Some people hurt longer than others and that’s okay.” Yukhei’s round, sincere eyes are looking right at Sicheng with so much worry and concern that it makes Sicheng feel bad for letting him listen to something that can even make him sport a face like that.

 

Yukhei sits back a little before he stretches his arms out to place both his hands on Sicheng’s shoulders in a firm hold. His eyes skim over Sicheng’s face, as if taking in every detail. “You know, Sicheng-ge, I think you’re one of the kindest, funniest, smartest, most talented people I’ve ever met. I love talking and hanging out with you. You’re also extremely good looking and anyone who gets to date you is really, really lucky, and I think they’d be crazy to even consider falling out of love with this —“ He gestures up and down Sicheng’s body, from his face to where he’s got his legs crossed on the couch, mouth opening to let out an overly dramatic gasp, “This absolutely gorgeous, absolutely ethereal human being, who is so full of charm and wit.” 

 

Sicheng feels the corners of his mouth twitching, threatening to quirk up. He gives in to it anyway, looking down as he laughs, quiet and airy. “Stop it,” he says, shoving at Yukhei’s knee with no real force.

 

Yukhei is lowering his own head and then tilting it up so he can look at Sicheng’s face, who’s still looking down at his own lap. Their eyes meet and then the concern in Yukhei’s eyes changes into that of mirth. “I meant it when I said that your smile looks really good on you, ge.” 

 

Sicheng lets the shy quirk of his lips stretch into a full smile, with teeth and all, as he tilts his face up, Yukhei following him, so that they were both at eye-level again. “Thank you,” he says quietly, honestly, his hands going to shyly play with Yukhei’s fingers that are now resting on his knee.

 

“No need to thank me,” Yukhei says, shaking his head slightly. He smiles, soft and sincere. “I’m honoured that you trust me enough to share that with me. It’s personal and must’ve been hard to tell.”

 

Sicheng feels something funny in his stomach again, similar to the one he felt moments earlier. Yukhei was just so — amazing to him. So nice and caring and Sicheng doesn’t know what he did to deserve such doting attention. “I’m —” he starts, tries to find the right words, “I’m… really glad to have you here with me tonight.” 

 

“Yeah,” Yukhei says quietly. His eyes avert down to look at how Sicheng’s playing with his hands. “Me too.” 

 

Neither of them say anything after that. Yukhei looks back up at him and there’s an unreadable look on his face, his eyes searching around Sicheng’s features like he’s looking for something. And Sicheng realises that they’re really quite close, Yukhei having leaned forward a little. Sicheng can feel Yukhei’s calm breathing fanning his face and his eyes instinctively go down to Yukhei’s mouth — both tiers full and plump, a pronounced bow in his upper lip — before they quickly dart back up to Yukhei’s eyes. There’s something in the air, a tension that makes Sicheng’s hands clammy, that speeds up his heart, but he doesn’t know what it is, can’t pinpoint it.

 

“I—“ 

 

He doesn’t know who leans in first — maybe it’s him, maybe it’s Yukhei — but now their lips are pressing against each other. Yukhei had tilted his face a little to the right so their noses don’t bump, and it’s short and sweet, Yukhei nipping lightly on Sicheng’s lower lip before he pulls away slightly, just far enough to be able to look at Sicheng’s eyes.

 

“There’s — there’s no one here,” Sicheng says, voice trembling like he’s out of breath, and he knows that Yukhei is aware of that, but just wants to make sure anyway, wants to confirm that they’re both on the same page.

 

“I know,” Yukhei says, and his eyes dart to Sicheng’s lips, staying there. Sicheng watches the bob of his adam’s apple as he gulps. “I just — I really wanted to do that.” 

 

And it’s definitely Sicheng this time who closes the small gap between them again, hands coming up to hold Yukhei’s jaw and pull him in for another kiss. And it starts with shy nips, the both of them still trying to get used to it, but once they’ve found a rhythm Sicheng is extending his arms out to fully wrap them around Yukhei’s neck, pressing closer till their chests are flush against each other and he’s half-straddling Yukhei’s lap, body towering slightly over him. Yukhei’s lips are so soft, so addicting that he can’t bring himself to pull away, and Sicheng wants more — more of this, and somewhere in the back of his mind it registers that maybe he’s been wanting this for a while now, or else he wouldn’t be here trying to devour Yukhei’s mouth like he’s starved.

 

Sicheng opens his eyes slightly for a pause, his sight blurred and hazy with want, so he can push Yukhei down until he’s lying down with his back on the couch. Yukhei lets him, snakes his arms around Sicheng’s middle when Sicheng moves to lie almost completely on top of him, one of his legs intertwining with Yukhei’s, slotting their mouths back together. 

 

One of Yukhei’s hands has come up to his head, brushing back Sicheng’s long bangs with his fingers before they settle on Sicheng’s nape, guiding him, bringing him closer. His other hand has sneaked under Sicheng’s sweater, large hand roaming the smooth expanse of his skin, before settling on the small of his back. When Yukhei tilts his head and sweeps a tongue across Sicheng’s lips, Sicheng’s hips twitch, his mouth opening in a gasp, letting Yukhei in with a groan.

 

It’s so — good, Sicheng feels like he can kiss Yukhei forever, never wants to pull away — but he eventually does for a breather, balancing some of his weight on his elbows situated by the sides of Yukhei’s head on the couch. He pants heavily like he’s run a mile, looks down at Yukhei who’s grinning at him so wide all his teeth are showing. His lips are swollen and reddened, and Sicheng wonders if his own looks similar. Yukhei combs through Sicheng’s bangs again, tucking a stray piece that’s gotten too long behind his ear. 

 

“That was really hot, ge. I didn’t know you could kiss like that.” 

 

And it’s bad, Sicheng thinks, when he leans back down to shut Yukhei’s laugh up with his mouth again, because he’s begun treading on some dangerous, untouched territory. Maybe Sicheng and Yukhei’s on-screen acting was so good that it began to gradually blend into their off-screen characters as well, the line between what’s real and what isn’t getting more and more blurry until Sicheng can’t really seem to see it anymore.