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讲真的 | HONESTLY,

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The thing is, Song Jiyang is nothing like Xiao Xingchen.

Xiao Xingchen is kind, and righteous, and strong. Jiyang is delicate, and wry, and not above a little white lie. He is grumpy more often than not, a college student at the core, terrible and incorrigible, so darkly funny that Haoxuan doesn’t realise what he’s saying is a joke until he stops to think about it for a second – and then it’s so badly, shockingly funny it steals his breath away, and he sometimes even forgets to laugh.

Haoxuan is always waiting for the other shoe to drop, always waiting to be reminded that at heart, he is dealing with an innocent. An innocent like Xiao Xingchen, perhaps, who on the other hand is 天真[1] – as genuine as the sky, as straightforward and unable to lie.

Frankly, Haoxuan thinks Xiao Xingchen is a little boring. Who wants a goody-two-shoes?

If he stopped to think about it, Wang Haoxuan isn’t sure when he started falling out of love with Xiao Xingchen… and when he started falling in love with Song Jiyang.

*

The thing is, Jiyang can’t see either, when he’s wearing the blindfold.

At least, that’s what Haoxuan thinks. Or at least, that’s what he sure hopes. Because when Jiyang is wearing the blindfold, that’s when he lets his gaze linger on just this side of a little too long. That’s when he stares just a breath of a second longer, and lets his character and himself bleed a little bit into each other.

And then Jiyang smiles, the curve the thinnest sliver of a crescent moon – he smiles and he asks, “在看我吗?[2]” gently, knowingly, Xingchen-ly, and Haoxuan begins to doubt.

The thing is, Haoxuan realises he doesn’t actually know if Jiyang keeps his eyes open or closed under the blindfold.

And if one day Jiyang’s face is turned a little too long towards his, blindfolded gaze uncannily long –

Well. How is Haoxuan supposed to know he’s supposed to stop?

*

The thing is, Haoxuan was pretty sure he wasn’t gay.

He had always been popular in school – had even dated a few girls through high school and college, who had been drawn by his eyebrows, his cheekbones, his pretty boy looks. He tried to be a good boyfriend, tried to be what society and Weibo said he should be – attentive, sweet, forgiving to their whines.

Up until Song Jiyang walked on set and walked into his life, those lips a perfect bow, wicked with sarcasm and more given to rolling his eyes than widening them in plaintive 撒娇[3], and suddenly Haoxuan finds it easy to be all those things, and more.

Except, of course, it turns out Song Jiyang acts cute when he's least expecting it, then denies ever pouting at all.

And speaking of which, Song Jiyang – he’s not sure if Song Jiyang has dated anyone. He seems like he would have been the type to have been bullied in school, with his selfies and Bambi eyes. Haoxuan has seen the photos, has thumbed far back enough on Weibo to see them, has seen Jiyang’s hair cut short and in a regulation hairstyle, but nothing about the 16-year-old boy making eyes and pouting at his camera said anything about regulation, and proper, and legal. Frankly, it makes a mockery of masculinity.

If he were honest with himself? Haoxuan thinks maybe he would even have mocked Jiyang had they been in school. Okay, he can maybe admit – he would probably have bullied him. Not have forgiven Jiyang his femininity. That maybe Jiyang’s softness would have offended him.

But outside that toxic environment, when it’s just them in that courtyard, and Jiyang – Xingchen – is leaning and touching him – Xue Yang – and smiling and laughing, and practicing his swordwork and how to kill himself, not a word of complaint about being constantly blindfolded, elegance in every line –

when he thinks about the hard work it takes to inhabit people who are not themselves –

Wang Haoxuan cannot help but think: Song Jiyang, you’ll be the death of me.

*

The thing is –

If Song Jiyang presses his hand to Wang Haoxuan’s wrist, if he breathes out shakily and says, “Haoxuan-ge,” if he looks up at him from beneath those cursedly long lashes that will, actually, be the death of him, if Song Jiyang flinches prettily when Haoxuan grabs his hand, making him feel like a clumsy barbarian the whole time – what is a man to do? What is a red-blooded, straight-up man among men like him to do?

And so what if Wang Haoxuan is shorter than Song Jiyang, if he can crowd up against the more slender man and press him against a wall, fist one hand in his shirt and cup his cheek with the other? So what if so far, Haoxuan has only ever kissed girls? Kissing is the same, isn’t it, just two lips pressed together, just like this, except Jiyang sighs and grinds against him and pulls him closer in a way no girl has ever grabbed at him before, and they’re both breathing hard in a way that shouldn’t ever be sexy, but it’s turning Haoxuan on to know that he’s being wanted this much?

And when they break apart for air, so what if Song Jiyang says, in that voice that’s always lower than Haoxuan expects, “那是我的初吻[4],” and lifts a finger to his very red, very plush lips, and shivers at the tingle, and smirks up at Haoxuan?

What about it? So what if Haoxuan has taken Jiyang’s first kiss? What else could he possibly do next. Except grab that wrist so close to his mouth and lean in again; wait till they're so close that all Jiyang can do is stare at him, all wide Bambi eyes – then he says, “还没第二次还能说是初吻吗[5],” and this time Jiyang blushes and moans helplessly when he kisses him a second time; but frankly, Haoxuan doesn’t need any pretence to kiss him again.