It was a chill night for Wang Yibo. He was chilling in his apartment’s kitchen, making some chill-ass instant ramen while listening to very chill jams. It was actually his first night where he had absolutely nothing to do—his very first rest night after weeks of dancing and racing and studying, and even more extracurriculars. And although he knew he should be thankful for it, he couldn’t help but admit he’s gotten used to the hectic-as-fuck life he led that he also couldn’t help but feel slightly bored as of that moment, all alone in his little dorm room.
Considering it was a Friday, he usually had his friends over to play some videogames but he and his friends basically almost led the same lives. It just so happened that Yibo was the youngest, having more energy, and thus why he was wide awake while most of his close pals were crashed in their beds, probably.
Seungyoun had bragged he would sleep for a whole three days after their event which had just finished a while ago. He could also remember Xuan-ge nodding in agreement, eyes already drooping as they walked their ways to their separate places. Yibo, though, still had energy thrumming in his veins. Although it wasn’t enough to make him feel like jumping around, it was enough for him to bop and walk around his kitchen, shimmying to the sound of the music.
It was also enough to stimulate enough boredom in his system that he didn’t even bat an eyelash when his phone rang, showing an unknown caller ID. Shrugging to himself, he paused his current jam, answering the call—thinking it was some kind of scam. It didn’t really matter to him, at least it made his night eventful. He was ready to greet with a “hello?” when he was cut off by a panicked voice.
“Okay, listen, Ji Li told me to wear those jeans that make my ass stick out in the club but they’re so uncomfy! Can’t I just wear normal jeans? Normal jeans can still catch me dates, right?”
Yibo blinked at the unknown voice but tilted his head thoughtfully, nonetheless. Without questioning it, he went with a proper honest answer, not really caring whether or not he knew the guy, “Tight jeans work for hook-ups but if you want to just enjoy tonight, wear some chill, comfortable shit.” All he knew was that the guy was panicked and Yibo had nothing better to do than to help. Because he was a good guy that way, all this from the kindness of his heart.
The relieved sigh on the other end was almost rewarding.
“Fuck. Okay, you’re right, you’re right. I can totally still be cute without the tight jeans.”
The university student hummed in affirmation, lips lifting slightly at what the unknown guy had just said before taking a bite of his now-ready instant ramen. With stuffed cheeks, he continued on, “If you think you’re cute, fuck what others say then.” The stranger let out a pleasant chuckle, “Wow, Bin, didn’t think you were the type to—Wait."
There was silence on the other line.
“Oh my god, you’re not Yu Bin.”
Swallowing, Yibo nodded once more, “Nope.”
The stranger on the other end let out another embarrassed, “oh my god” to which Yibo actually smiled at.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. It’s just. I probably misdialed, I thought I knew the number by memory and I was panicking ‘cause Ji Li’s probably about to arrive soon and I’m still not wearing any pants.”
At this, the university student couldn’t help but let out an amused snort. This stranger was too honest for his own good and he appreciated it. He shook his head despite not being seen, “It’s fine. I didn’t mind.”
The guy on the other line was suddenly silent for a few seconds, to the point that Yibo thought he had hung up. As he was about to pull away his mobile from his ear, the stranger spoke again, voice hesitant and shy.
“S-So. No to the tight jeans?”
Yibo let out a surprised laugh, genuinely not expecting that at all. He heard the stranger let out an “oi!” then proceeding with a flustered, “This is a serious question!” making him laugh even more so.
It took a few more seconds before the student calmed down, grinning as he heard the stranger’s grumble on the other end. He then shook his head to himself, coughing slightly. With a firm voice, he responded with, “No to the tight jeans.” Trying to sound encouraging despite the amusement oozing out of it. It must have worked by the sound of the stranger’s sudden giggle, “Nice. Okay. Thank you. Wish me luck. Let’s hope I get a date that isn’t a creep!”
In a blink, Yibo was met by dial tone. He stared at the screen for a few moments as he processed what exactly just happened. With a disbelieved huff, he turned on his music again, laying his phone back on the counter. He spent the night humming along to his songs whilst finishing his noodles.
If his mood was suddenly really good thanks to that phone call, he wouldn’t admit it to anyone.
It took four days before he received another call from the same stranger. If Yibo were being honest, the previous event had already been buried deep at the back of his mind considering he was back to his hectic-as-fuck life, preparing for an exam for a major subject. He was in the middle of glaring at his professor’s PowerPoint slides when his phone had rung. He answered it without looking at the ID.
It was 7 in the evening and a part of him was sure it was Seungyoun asking to have dinner together when he was met with a familiar panicked voice.
“Give me an emergency. Yu Bin, I think she wants to tie me up and marry me in secret. Maybe lock me here forever, I’m so freaked out.”
Yibo blinked. ‘’Wh—”
“I’m in the bathroom right now but listen. She told me she loved me and mentioned shit about getting rings ‘cause her cat’s taken a liking to me. I met her an hour ago. That’s like, 50 red flags, right?”
Yibo couldn’t help but admit that it was, indeed, 50 red flags. A big problem. True to fact, he could easily just hang up this time than deal with it. He could say “you got the wrong number again” then go about his life like usual. But there was just something about this stranger’s voice that made him believe he should definitely help him out. Yibo definitely thought that if anyone were ever trapped in a situation where a lady seemed like she was going to tie a man up and force him into marriage, someone should definitely help him out.
So seriously, he was definitely doing this out of the kindness of his heart.
Smiling slightly, an idea already brewing in his head, he answered a quick: “Not Yu Bin.” But before the stranger could even let out any embarrassed noise, he continued, “But go out there and tell your very intense date that your roommate just set your kitchen on fire.”
“Excuse me, what???”
Very quickly, he opened up one of the folders for one of his production projects, clicking on an audio file that was an edited mix of a fire alarm with loads of people murmuring in panic.
“Trust me on this. Put your speaker on and go out there.” Yibo was deadass grinning now.
“You know, when I said ‘emergency’ I didn’t mean this intense. Maybe like, you need an emergency babysitter or something.”
The student rolled his eyes at this, “How boring would that be, though? Make sure to act panicked as well, okay?”
“I’m not going to do thi—”
Yibo was definitely delighted to hear a door clicking on the other line. There were a few running footsteps, then he heard the man’s voice again, far from the phone receiver. At this, Yibo clicked on the play button for the audio to start. And it was absolutely perfect.
“Zhu, listen. My roommate just set our kitchen on fire.”
“I need to get back there, he’s—he’s really young. Younger than me a-and he can’t cook, and—and just called me, panicking.”
Yibo did his best not to laugh at that as he continued to listen. He’s got to hand it to the guy, he sounded really convincing as of that moment, especially with the fire alarm and murmurs in the background. There were a few moments of incoherent statements before he heard the Zhu girl again, voice very obviously dubious.
“Are you sure that isn’t fake?”
“Wh-What? Of course not! Why would I even fake this?”
The student covered his mouth, trying to calm himself. God. He hasn’t felt the need to laugh this much in a long time but there really was just something about this stranger that triggered it out of him easily, huh?
“Well, it sounds to me that that’s just some fake aud—”
Ah, looks like it was time for Yibo’s appearance. Smiling to himself, he took a deep breath as he acted out a very panicked voice, “Ge? Ge? A-Are you still there? I—I don’t know what to do. Ge?”
At this, he could hear ruffled movement, and the stranger was much nearer now, “Didi? Hey. Hey, okay. Just calm down. I’ll be right there, okay?”
There was a moment of voices exchanging. But in a blink, all Yibo could hear was running—a door clicks— then more running. All of a sudden, there was silence on the other line, then a few more ruffles—as though someone just crashed on something.
Yibo couldn’t help the burst of concern in his chest as he took a look at his phone’s screen. He was about to ask the stranger if he was still alive, when unexpectedly, his ears were filled with the cutest flood of giggles he’s ever heard.
“That was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
Wang Yibo, for the love of all gods, could not explain the sudden explosion of endearment in his chest at the sound of the guy’s voice, but it was there. Filling his whole body to his fingertips. He bit his lip so as not to smile too widely. Usually, he wasn’t the type to easily be mischievous to other people early on in relationships, but this stranger was weirdly making him do a lot of shit tonight so fuck that.
“Dumber than willingly entering a creepy lady’s house???”
There was a scoff, “She didn’t seem creepy a while ago, okay!”
Yibo laughed at that and soon enough, the stranger was joining him. The two continued at this, reiterating the shit that just happened in bits and pieces but then getting overpowered by their laughter once more. This went on until both of them were trying to catch their breaths.
There was an unexplainable warmth that coated the student’s body at this exchange. He tried not to be bothered by this, swallowing to himself as both their lines were drowned out by comfortable silence.
It took a few seconds before the stranger spoke again, voice soft, “Well. Thank you for saving me out there. I’m going to go call my friend to pick me up at this random park I found.”
“Mn. It was no problem,” He smirked to himself as he continued, the gremlin in him that’s usually reserved for Seungyoun and Yixuan-ge making an appearance, “It was all on you, though. Your acting skills are on point, gege.”
There was a soft chuckle, “Well, I wouldn’t have done it without you, didi.”
There were both laughing again. Yibo really was warm all over.
Soon enough, the guy hung up and the student was staring once more at his phone’s screen, smile still pasted on his face. He tried not to think too weirdly about what just happened, just held onto the fact that he enjoyed the phone call—that phone calls could actually be a thing to enjoy.
Shaking his head, he went and called Seungyoun.
“Let’s have dinner together, my treat.”
“Oh, fuck yeah!”
He was in a good mood, okay, sue him.
The next time the stranger called, he caught Yibo lying on the ground of his university’s basketball court, huffing loudly considering he’s been trying to do this one skate trick for three hours now. He answered his phone without checking the ID again, but he was pleasantly surprised at the familiar voice.
“So,” There was a tinge of panic in it.
Yibo felt his lips tug at that start, somehow knowing what the guy was going to say next so he went ahead and spoke before he could even proceed, “You know, it’s either you have a thing for weird people or you’re just really bad with dates.”
The student tried not to bask at the warmth he felt upon hearing the guy’s sudden laugh because that was creepy. This guy seemed like he’s already gone through too many creeps and Yibo definitely did not want to be added to that list. But he was going to admit it was a nice laugh.
“Unfortunately, it’s the latter.”
Wang Yibo closed his eyes at that, “So what’s the situation? Should I set something on fire again?” He said this with a teasing tone, voice echoing softly through the empty court. When he’s met with a giggle this time, he let himself smile. Unusually enough, with this guy, talking was easy and comfortable. He was usually bad at this—talking. But maybe the fact that it was through the phone that made things easier.
“God, no. I’m in a fancy restaurant right now. I don’t think I can pull off another running match with what I’m wearing.”
The student whistled at this, “Damn. You’ve leveled up from clubs, to house dinners, to fancy restaurants. Look at you go.”
Yibo was starting to realize he might like this stranger’s voice a lot. Which again, is creepy. So he swallowed the feeling down, pushing it far back in his head.
“Are they weird?”
There was a hum on the other line, “Well. I—” then a huff, “I’m in the washroom right now. He’s good-looking. And well, rich, obviously.”
Yibo decided to keep quiet, waiting for the punchline.
“We’ve actually been in this restaurant for two hours now.”
It was the student’s turn to hum, “Two hours and you’re still in one piece. Isn’t that good?” Not that Yibo knew how dates should work. But so long as Phone Guy wasn’t panicking and desperate to run away, then it must be good.
“Well,” there was shuffling, “I haven’t spoken a word since we entered. He did all the talking.”
Sitting up abruptly, Yibo couldn’t stop his mouth from slipping out a disgusted, “Oh, gross.”
There was a surprised laugh from the other line and no, Yibo was most definitely not preening.
“Leave. Now. He’s gross and obviously just snatching you for your good looks to add to his rich treasures.” He was definitely cringing at the thought of it but what else could it be. But he hated that a lot, it was one of the few things he genuinely despised—people using other people for their image. Eurgh.
Phone Guy let out another surprised laugh and no, Yibo was still most definitely not preening.
“What good looks? You haven’t seen me!” There was amusement in his voice, like it was the most ridiculous thing he’s ever heard. The student couldn’t help but roll his eyes at this, “Have you guys talked to each other beforehand at all?”
“Uh, no. This was a blind date.”
“Then he definitely isn’t into you for your personality. His loss.”
Really, Phone Guy should really stop laughing in the sweetest way because surely, that will just add to the list of reasons as to why rich assholes are snatching him up, “You don’t know my personality either, didi.” Yibo just snorted at that because well, he was right but, “at least we’ve conversed, gege.”
There was silence in the other line, then a sigh, “You’re right.”
At that, Yibo decided to lie down again, stretching, “You’re right as well. I’m sure you knew you wanted to leave. Just needed your personal dating assistant’s advice.”
“Is that what you are now? My personal dating assistant?”
The skater smirked to himself at that, “Are you going to keep misdialing this Yu Bin guy’s number?”
Okay, Phone Guy should also stop giggling in the most adorable way ever because gosh.
“I think I will, yeah.”
“Then you got yourself a personal dating assistant.” Yibo have decided to omit the fact that he had no idea how dating worked because he’s never been in a serious relationship since high school and that shouldn’t even count considering it lasted for two weeks. His new phone acquaintance definitely did not need to know that.
“Alright. I’m going to go out and reject him. Going to risk being called a gold digger because that’s what’s it’s going to look like!”
Yibo grinned at that.
When he was met with dial tone once again, he let out a huff. He had no idea what was happening to him, if he were being honest. He didn’t know why he was acting this comfortably with a stranger, like they’ve known each other for years. He didn’t know why it was easy, didn’t know why it felt alright. Blinking up at the ceiling, he let out a sigh, then proceeded to closing his eyes once more.
He didn’t need to know now. He could just leave it as is. It’s not like shit’s going to get deeper.
Shit not going to get deeper? Famous last words, perhaps.
For some odd reason, Phone Guy’s calls increased. Every few new nights, he would call Yibo up for random advices. It ranged from what to wear to where to actually run to. There were a few chill nights where he’d end up calling Yibo after the date, then would say something along the lines of, “Well, it was fine. They were nice.”
By the quietness of his voice, though, the student could easily tell he was lying, to which he’d reply with, “Bullshit.”
Every delighted and surprised giggle Yibo received, he counted as a score. Soon enough, he found himself aiming to push out as many laughs out of the man especially through dates that went especially bad. There were nights that would have Phone Guy huffing sadly but would end up breathlessly laughing. It was like a drug, a rush that would coat his chest with warmth. Yibo wouldn’t want it any other way.
Wang Yibo knew he considered Phone Guy as a friend when he started to talk about him to his best friend, Seungyoun.
“Can you imagine going to a date to have your date’s mom accompanying them?”
Seungyoun had cackled loudly at the rest of the story, tears forming in his eyes. Yibo happily told this to Phone Guy that night to which Phone Guy laughed at. “Wow! I’m out here suffering and you’re out here laughing at me? Just how cruel can you be, Mr. Personal Dating Assistant?” He’d also pull out more accusations but there wouldn’t be any bite. This was their thing as of that time. In Yibo’s head, he was Phone Guy. And to Phone Guy’s head, he was Mr. Personal Dating Assistant.
Their numbers weren’t officially saved in their phones though until a week later when Phone Guy had told Yibo that one of the drunk guys in the club he went to tried to follow him as he walked home.
The student was in the middle typing up some shit reflection paper when through his earphones, Phone Guy says, “And I had to sprint around the block just to lose him, I thought he was going to tackle me.” Yibo’s fingers froze.
That night, he forced the guy to save his mobile number.
“Do you always just type out my number?”
“Well, yeah. Your number’s basically Yu Bin’s except instead of a 6 in the end, yours is an 8.”
“Save it and I’ll save yours.”
“Wow, Mr. Personal Dating Assistant! Is this how you get people to save your number?”
Yibo shook out the warmth that climbed his cheeks, “Just save it. And when there’s another emergency, call me, okay?” Phone Guy merely chuckled at this, obviously amused, “Such a hardworking assistant! You’re spoiling me! Are you like this to all your clients?”
The student tried not to pout at this implication. That he was merely doing this because he’s his “personal assistant.” Swallowing down the petty hurt he felt, he shook his head, answering honestly, “No. I’m doing this because I think of you as a friend. That’s constantly being followed by creeps. And I can’t handle the thought of you going through that shit alone.”
There was silence. The longer it went, the more Yibo started regretting what he just did. Fuck, was this what people meant when he was too honest and intense? Was he being childish? Did he step past boundaries of how strangers-who-talked-to-each-other went? Shit. He was about to take everything back, ready to apologize for being demanding and childish, when all of a sudden, Phone Guy spoke again. His voice was soft.
“Alright. I’ll save it.”
Yibo blinked at that, croaking out an, “Oh. Okay. Thank you.”
There were a few seconds of silence again before Phone Guy spoke out again, chuckling softly, “Should I save you as Mr. Personal Dating Assistant?” Yibo opened his mouth to answer when he was cut off, “But since we both consider each other as friends now, don’t you think names would be better?”
That same night, Yibo found out people called Phone Guy “ZhanZhan.” In exchange, Yibo had said people called him “Yibo.” Not giving their full names because well, they were both still responsible adults.
“Alright. Should I save you as Bo-ge then?” There was a teasing hint in his voice to which Yibo couldn’t help but smugly smile at, “Are you admitting I’m the gege between us?”
“Well, with how much you’re looking after me, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were. I’d be such a lucky didi.”
When the two had found out they had a 6-year gap, with Zhan being older, Yibo ended up laughing until he had tears forming in his eyes as his phone friend had started screaming out “FORGET ABOUT ME CALLING YOU BO-GE, OH MY GOD” non-stop through the receiver—the embarrassment wildly clear in his voice.
“Wow, Zhan-ge! I didn’t know you had an age-swap kink. Don’t worry, I don’t kink-shame.”
“SHUT UP, BO-DI.”
The last thought Yibo had before he slept was how “Zhan-ge” felt really nice on his tongue and how Zhan-ge’s voice saying “Bo-di” sounded really right in his ears.
After that, Yibo can easily admit that Zhan-ge was part of his life, his routine. He didn’t call every night, but he did call almost every other night.
He learned that he was a graphic designer with his own studio. In exchange, he had shared that he was a Dance Major, and that he also had a shitton of extra-curriculars just ‘cause he was the type to embrace everything he found interest in. Zhan-ge had been impressed at that, sending him all the praises. He retaliated with just as many praises, though. And with that, if they weren’t talking about shit dates, they were talking about their interests and little things about their life.
Even though Yibo had no idea who the guy was, physically, he couldn’t help but feel familiar with him, nonetheless. He let himself be engulfed with Zhan-ge’s voice—it’s softness, its niceness, its smoothness. He thought it could reflect him as a person. The teasing hints of his voice gave Yibo a playful image. His adorable laughs and giggles gave him a cute image.
There were nights he’d ruffle his hair in frustration at that because it didn’t make sense. It shouldn’t make sense.
But it did.
In his head, Zhan-ge was nice and soft. He sounded mature but at the same time, wasn’t afraid to be playful and cute, sometimes doing overly-cute voices to coax Yibo when there were moments that he was upset (which happened a lot considering Zhan always went through such shit dates that he didn’t deserve which definitely upset Yibo.) Sometimes, he could hear his smile. And again, saying it out loud made it sound ridiculous, but it made sense.
Hearing his smile had convinced Yibo that Zhan had a pretty smile.
If anyone questioned his logic, he would just shrug them off. It just worked.
The one time Yibo let himself be curious about Zhan-ge’s physical looks was when he was ranting about another rich asshole trying to make him his trophy wife again.
“Okay. Seriously, Zhan-ge. Just how attractive are you? This is the fourth time. That’s not normal.”
The older man chuckled at that, “That’s what you got out of the story?”
“Just give me a rating.”
“Okay, but you have to give me yours.”
They did a dumb countdown before answering at the same time. Yibo had given himself a 10/10 because he knew fully well how he looked. No, he wasn’t being arrogant. Besides, the question was subjective and if he was satisfied with how he looked then it’s not surprising he gave himself that rating. His ge, though, gave himself a 6/10.
The surprised cackle he received was rewarding, filling his chest with warmth.
“It’s true! They’re all probably just cat-fished by my pictures, Bo-di. I love using fluffy cat filters, you know? I like living my life as a lie. Don’t forget I can use Photoshop really well, too!”
Yibo responded with another loud “BULLSHIT!” to which he received breathless giggles at. His cheeks actually started to hurt with how much he was smiling that night.
Everything was going normally in their phone call relationship. It was easy and comfortable, and Yibo felt himself fall deeper and deeper for whatever the fuck this was the more they talked. They chatted more than just Zhan-ge’s shitty dates now. They talked about miniscule things about their lives. Yibo talked of his Lego collection while his ge talked about his cat, Jiangou. They talked about Zhan-ge’s artworks and his love for Stefanie Sun, and in exchange, the student talked about his dancing, his motorbike racing, his skating hobby.
Each passing day, he learned more and more about Zhan. He knew the snacks he liked (Chips and biscuits are the love of my life, Bo-di, I would marry them if I could), the shows he watched (How can you not watch One Piece? Up, up, no—fuck off, I know you don’t have anything to do, go watch the first few episodes or else I’ll pout at you, I know you don’t like it when I pout), the fucking K-POP band he “stanned” (Sehun’s hot, okay, let me live.) He even sang, knitted and cooked which Yibo found himself being in awe over.
Each and every information Yibo gained, he found himself keeping it close to his heart. Every time he’d see a plush toy or a bunny keychain, he’d end up staring at it, fingers twitching. It should also be ridiculous that he started smiling whenever he saw chips or biscuits. Only Yixuan-ge’s found him doing that, though. Thank fuck he chose not to bring anything up like the true good pal he was.
Sometimes, when Yibo and Seungyoun would go out for dinner, he’d find Zhan-ge randomly calling for dinner suggestions, to which Yibo would answer teasingly about how he was the most indecisive person he knew. When he’d hang up, he’d find his best friend smirking at him knowingly. He’d only roll his eyes in return.
It took a whole month of them going about their routine before Yibo realized that Zhan-ge’s stopped talking about shitty dates completely. He denied feeling good about it, denied the pleasure that coursed through his chest at the thought of it. Calls every other night turned to calls every night, and through those nights, Zhan-ge’s always just stayed in his apartment while the student stayed in his dorm. Some nights they don’t talk at all, but would stay in each other’s company.
On those nights, Yibo would find himself staring at the ceiling, heart beating wildly after they’ve both hung up on their call. He’d force his eyes close, trying to clear his brain of Zhan-ge’s voice but to no avail, he’d always end up falling asleep with the whisper of his “good night” echoing in his ears.
It wasn’t until a few weeks later that Yibo receives a call about dating once more. Except, it wasn’t the usual phone call where Zhan-ge would ask for advice or demand for a place to run to. It wasn’t the sad type nor the pissed type either. It happened in the middle of the night, Yibo’s mobile’s ringing waking him up.
Opening his eyes, he stared blearily at this phone before slowly answering, letting out a grumbled, “’Lo?”
Sniffling. He heard sniffling.
Very quickly, Yibo sat up, concern filling his system, “Zhan-ge?”
“Bo-di?” Then a hiccup. This woke him up even more.
“You okay? Shit. What happened? Another shitty date—”
“Do you think I’ll ever find love?”
Then there was silence.
Yibo blinked to himself at this turn of events. When he heard another soft “hic,” he blinked even more, trying to process the situation, “Ge? Are you drunk?”
“Ma called a while ago. Telling me I should bring someone home already like,” then a huff, “Like I’m not trying to do just that. But I guess I’m not worthy of anything normal, huh? Of—Of any normal meet-ups, any normal relationship.”
The shuddering breath Zhan-ge just released made Yibo frown. He wanted to protest, wanted to say it was the others who weren’t worthy of him. That each and every person he dated were the ones at loss for treating him in ways he didn’t deserve. He didn’t know the shitty dates were affecting him this way. The student couldn’t help but wince at that. Well, now that he thought of it, it was probably understandable to reach a breaking point after multiple instances of date failures.
He then took a sharp inhale, trying to keep his cool. Zhan-ge seriously didn’t deserve to feel this way. He has the wild urge to just fly to wherever his mother was and give her a talk about how she shouldn’t pressure her children into doing such thing. Holy fuck, this guy was really out here making him want to sit parents down now. Yibo wanted to hit himself, Jesus.
“I haven’t gone out on a date for a month, though ‘cause…” He trailed off for a moment, and Yibo couldn’t help but swallow at the pause. A part of him wanted him to continue, to tell him that it could be because of him. But unsurprisingly, he didn’t say that, of course. It was ridiculous he even thought that way, jeez.
“I’ll start again tomorrow.”
At that, Yibo paused, his chest getting heavy. He hummed, “Alright.”
“Then I-I’ll find the love of my life.”
The heaviness gradually turned into aching. He couldn’t help but wonder just when he started hating the thought of Zhan-ge going out on dates.
He hummed once more, smiling helplessly at another hiccup on the receiver, “Tomorrow, huh?”
“I’ll be here, then, ge.”
Yibo closed his eyes at the sound of steady soft exhales in his ear before hanging up. That night, he tried to organize every thought in his head—willingly letting loose every denied feeling he shoved at the back of his mind.
By the time it was 3 AM, he found himself groaning out a “fuuuck” at the ceiling.
“You’re in love.”
“And so, now, you want to drink out.”
“Nice. Like a true college boy.”
Seungyoun wasn’t really saying this judgingly. Actually, he was actually grinning at this, probably seemingly excited that they were going to go out to drink. He appreciated that a lot. Besides that, he didn’t push further into the whole being-in-love thing, which he appreciated even more. Instead, the two were actually preoccupied watching their screens as they shoot at people in their way.
Yibo wasn’t able to sleep that night but he wasn’t going to admit that. Thank fuck it was a Saturday or else any other school day would have fucked him over. When the sun had risen, he found himself showering then going straight to Seungyoun’s to keep his brain from steering back to his newfound feelings for Zhan-ge. When his best friend found him standing outside his apartment door, he hadn’t even questioned anything. Just let out a yawn and suggested to play a game with him. This was why he was Yibo’s best friend.
“Want me to invite Xuan-ge?” Seungyoun had said this casually, continuously shooting at another player.
To anyone else, this must sound like a very casual suggestion. But he and Seungyoun’s been friends since high school. He knew every underlying meaning to his statements and tone. This didn’t just stand as an invitation. This meant, I know you talk to him better when it comes to these kindsa shit, and We both can probably help you out with what’s up with your head and heart, man.
This made Yibo turn his head to catch his friend looking at him, an eyebrow raised. With a huff, he shook his head, smiling slightly before answering, “Yeah.”
At that, Seungyoun pulled him into his space, ruffling at his hair messily.
This was how Yibo found himself sitting in front of his two best friends, sipping on cold beer. They were in a drinking place a few roads away from their university. It wasn’t the type people would dance or scream in, just the type where people could drink and chat while a random band played in the dimly lit stage. It was calm and comfortable—basically, everything Yibo needed at that time.
It was about 8 in the evening, and it was usually the time Zhan-ge called him. But he hasn’t. Not that he minded. There were nights he didn’t call until late. Besides, he probably is out right now considering last night’s phone call. Plus! It was his first date since a month of not going out. Yibo bit his cheek at that thought, shaking his head. He took another gulp from his bottle, hoping the buzz in his head would get stronger.
“So, Seungyoun says you’re in love.”
Yibo glared at Seungyoun who gave him a grin and a careless shrug, “S’true. It’s why we’re here, right?”
And fuck. He’s right. Defeated, the youngest of the three merely nodded.
Yixuan let out a soft, amused laugh at this, “What’s the problem then?”
With a sigh, the student let himself think for a moment. Everything was new to him. The sensation in his chest whenever he heard Zhan-ge’s laugh. The fact that he couldn’t control his smiles and laughter whenever they talked. The possessiveness he felt over a man on the phone should be concerning but he couldn’t help it. Everything just seemed ridiculous. He was just a guy on the phone, like hell will shit actually happen.
And that’s what he told his friends, grumbling quietly as he felt embarrassment gathering in his stomach. Once he was finished letting everything out, he lifted his head to find both of his friends staring at him incredulously. It was Seungyoun who spoke first, pinching at his cheek before grabbing at his jaw to turn his head from side to side, “Xuan-ge, do you think this is actually our Baby Yibo? I feel like we’ve got an impostor, definitely sus.”
Yibo blinked at this, confused, “Wh—” His mouth was covered.
“Tell us what you just told us again.”
Nose scrunching, Yibo followed, “He’s on his way to find the love of his life right now and it isn’t me.”
Seungyoun exaggeratedly turned to look at Yixuan-ge, eyes wide, faux panic pasted on his face, “Ge! We do have an impostor!”
The eldest merely laughed at the guy’s antics, shaking his head fondly. Like the two of them were in on a joke but Yibo honestly did not understand what the fuck was happening. It must have been written clearly on his face because the next thing he knew was Xuan-ge was staring straight at him, head tilted.
“I think what he’s trying to say is: when has that kinda shit ever stopped you from grabbing what you loved before?”
“Yibo, you literally had Myocarditis but here you are now, indulging in shit that would make my heart stop on the spot.”
At that, the student paused. Then something in his chest just clicks.
What the fuck. What the fuck.
They were right.
Something must have slipped in expression because the next thing he knew, his two older friends were laughing at him, “Oh, he just realized he’s being dumb. Welcome back, Yibo!” That was Seungyoun, clapping. Yibo rolled his eyes, trying to ignore the heat rising to his cheeks. He couldn’t help but admit that they were right.
Looking back now, he never used to give up when he found anything that caught his heart. He started seriously dancing at age 13, continuing despite having some shit heart illness. He learned how to skateboard just ‘cause he his heart was hooked just after watching a few video compilations, ordering a board 30 minutes after deciding. He fought for his major, he fought for his school. He even signed up for motorbike lesson and is currently doing side-line racing even when his mom almost teared up when he told her.
He was pouting at this thought-process now, making his two friends laugh harder, “Oh now, he’s realizing more shit! Our baby’s growing up.” Obviously, that was still Seungyoun so he went ahead and glared at him.
“Shut up. This is all new to me, okay? I’m allowed to have a crisis. Xuan-ge,” he pouted at the eldest, “Scold him.”
At that, his two friends stared at him, laughing louder. It was Xuan-ge who spoke up first, though, when they’ve finally calmed down. There was a knowing smile on his face and a very obvious glint in his eyes, “So. Good talk. What’re you planning to do about it?” To anyone else, this would probably seem like a very shitty talk. But this was how they’ve functioned together for years, and it’s what worked so, yes, it was a good talk.
Yibo stared at his senior, a smile threatening to make its way to his face. They were right. He was never the type to back down from shit he loved. He was always the type to go and try things before he gave a piece of his mind about it. He wasn’t sure why he forgot this through his crisis for Zhan-ge but then again, this was new. This wasn’t a skill he could learn; this wasn’t some hobby he wanted to be good at.
This was Zhan-ge. And when it comes to Zhan-ge, he keeps breaking habits and learning new things about himself. With Zhan-ge, he’s built a whole new standard—something he didn’t know he was capable of even building. With Zhan-ge, shit’s different. And thanks to his two best friends, he’s just made the realization that he wanted to delve deeper into it, to jump right into the newness but at the same time, the familiarity of whatever they’ve established.
Fuck. He was grinning now.
“I’m going to call him. I’m going to tell him I could be the love of his life.”
At that, his two elders cackled in surprise, obviously not expecting that, but delighted nonetheless. This just made Yibo smile even wider, his chest starting to get coated with warmth. All of a sudden, his everything was buzzing, his palms were itching. Suddenly, he wants nothing more than to call his Zhan-ge, to let everything out. It felt easy. Considering that, he went and grabbed at his phone in his pocket.
He stood up, nodding curtly to himself, “I’m going to call him.” He nodded once again and started walking towards the exit, so it was quieter—for privacy. He tried not to smile too big at Seungyoun’s cheers in the background and instead, focused on getting ahold of his now-wildly-beating chest. He wanted to do this but that didn’t mean he was nervous.
Once he was outside, he took a deep breath, then focused his attention to his phone’s screen. As he was readying to click on his contact, his phone suddenly rang.
It was Zhan-ge.
With wide eyes, Yibo answered, trying not to sound surprised.
A rush of comfort filled Yibo’s stomach at the sound of Zhan’s voice, calming his nerves slightly. There were several voices in the background, as well as a song playing—Bruno Mars. He must be out then. Well, it wasn’t surprising. He did say he was going to be out.
Yibo blinked, shaking himself out of his thoughts, “Sorry, yeah, hi.”
A soft chuckle was the response, but Yibo could tell it was nervous, “You know how I drunkenly said I would find the love of my life last night?” The student responded with a hum, biting his tongue to keep himself from blurting out I could be it. I could be the love of your life. But timing was still essential so he went ahead and waited for his Zhan-ge to finish whatever he was saying. It’ll be fine. When it’s his turn to talk, he’ll lay everything down and let everything out—
“I think I found him.”
Yibo froze at that.
Being doused with ice-cold water was how it felt. The fuzziness and excitement slowly subsiding.
“Oh.” He didn’t trust himself to speak any further.
“Yeah. Well, he’s. He’s gorgeous, Bo-di. He just left for a moment and he was with his friends but you know how when you look at someone and you just feel this sort of pull?”
If Yibo were being honest, no, he did not but it’s not like he could say that, “And you feel this for him? Is this the first time you’ve felt it?” He swallowed, trying to ignore the aching in his throat, “After all the date attempts you went to?” He winced at that, hoping he didn’t sound rude.
“Yeah.” Zhan-ge sounded as though he was in awe, “I don’t know how but this feels right, you know? Well, hopefully. It could feel right. Jesus, I haven’t even approached him and Ji Li’s out here chatting someone up already.” There was a huff, “I should approach him.”
He wanted to say no. He wanted to tell him it was hopeless and that whatever he does, it will only end up with a shitty date. Whoever the guy was, no matter how strong his fucking appeal was, he shouldn’t approach him. Because Yibo was here. And fuck, that was so fucking selfish of him to think. Zhan-ge didn’t deserve that. Shit.
Taking a deep inhale, he let himself answer even when his chest was starting to ache along with his throat. “Go for it. It’s not every day the universe lets Zhan-ge feel as though a date could be right.” He meant for it to be teasing and by the giggle he heard, it must have worked. He heard a few more huffs before another burst of nervous laughter, “Okay. When he comes back, I’ll go up there and talk to him.”
Yibo nodded to himself, “Alright. And I’ll be here if anything happens.” Fuck. Wow, he didn’t think saying that would hurt.
There were a few seconds of silence before Zhan-ge spoke again, voice soft.
“Thank you, Bo-di.”
The student chose not to answer anymore, closing his eyes. He tried not to think about how it sounded like goodbye. With that, he shoved his mobile back into his pocket, then let his legs lead him back inside the building, going straight to his and his friends’ table. It was silent when he sat down, his face probably giving everything away.
Yibo huffed, biting at the inside of his cheek. Well, considering the phone call from last night, he wanted something normal. A normal meet-up with a normal relationship progression. Someone who can go on dates with him like a normal person, and end dates with him like a normal person. And well, this was the perfect chance. Yibo, considering everything that’s happened between him and Zhan-ge, was far from that. He was basically part of the list of weird meet-ups. God, he was probably already part of the list of creeps falling for Zhan-ge—falling in love with his voice, his little habits, his giggles, and interests all through freaking phone calls.
With a sigh, he broke the silence. “So I’m not what he’s looking for.”
He nodded at that. Shit, indeed. Well, since they were in a drinking place and there weren’t any classes, they should just go right ahead and fuck this night up. Being in love was short-lived and honestly, now, he just wants to forget it ever happened.
Not forget Zhan-ge though. Just. This feeling. This shitty, aching, sad feeling. As much as his heart felt fucked at that moment, he still wanted his friend in his life, though
He took a swig of his beer, ignoring his friends’ pitying looks. Everything felt wildly loud as of that moment. The murmurs of the people in the background. The fucking invited band playing some heart-breaking Bruno Mars song, rubbing the “there’ll be no sunlight, if I lose you, baby” in his face—which he believed was super rude, by the way.
He was about to finish his drink when he felt a little tap on his shoulder. Scrunching his eyebrows, he turned his head. It was probably an employee asking for new orders—
Wang Yibo’s eyes widened.
He was suddenly faced with the most beautiful person he’s ever laid eyes on. For a moment, everything he felt was numbed down, getting washed over by the sheer power of this fucking stranger’s beauty. He was tall and had the brightest fucking eyes Yibo’s ever seen. He was looking down at him, a hand rubbing at the back of his neck nervously—but god, it was one of the cutest things ever.
If softness could ever be a person, it was this guy. His hair, his sweater, his cheeks, and—oh god. Oh god, he just smiled, making his turn into these little crescents and shit, Yibo felt his chest tighten at the mere sight of it. His heart was going through some wild leaps tonight. What in the world was happening?
“Um, hi. I know this is really out-of-nowhere but—I just saw you and—I. Can I buy you a drink?”
Yibo blinked, fingers trembling at the voice. This voice. This voice. He knew this voice. He listened to this voice for days, weeks, months. He had this voice stuck in his head in broad daylight as he went through his groceries, he’d have it echoing in his ears before he slept.
Very abruptly, the student stood up, now face-to-face with the guy, chest pounding in his ears.
Zhan-ge’s voice kept echoing in his head from the latest phone call. The murmurs in the background. The fucking Bruno Mars song.
I think I found him.
You know how when you look at someone and you just feel this sort of pull?
He couldn’t help but let out a disbelieved snort at the sight of the most beautiful man in front of him. The man with the most beautiful voice, the cutest fucking giggles, and the cutest fucking screams. The man who’s fucking hooked his heart through fucking phone calls. A part of him was whooping, he could also feel a flood of disbelieving laughter threatening to escape his chest. Because this—
This was absolutely ridiculous. But it was also perfect. Absolutely perfect.
At this, he could feel himself slipping, a smile slowly making its way into his face as he watched the guy in front of him start to look confused then worried and somehow, somehow, it was accurate. It was just right. His brain was reeling over, ecstatic over how this would be how he’d look like confused and worried. It was perfect.
In the background of all his thoughts rushing in, he hears Seungyoun’s voice. He also felt hands on both of his shoulders, trying to turn him, “Uh, sorry. This guy’s already had too much to drink. Heartbroken and all that shit, you know how it is.” He wasn’t sure when he got there beside him but he also wasn’t surprised.
The guy looked at Seungyoun apologetically, eyebrows scrunching, lower lip jutting out a bit and oh my god, he has a mole below his lip. He was gorgeous. This—This—
He had said this breathlessly, but people still heard. Actually, there were gasps but who fucking cared. The guy in front of him looked surprised, then confused, then affronted, suddenly placing both his hands on his hips, and oh my god, Wang Yibo was gone. For some reason, he just knew it. It’s him.
Yibo was full-blown smiling now, detaching himself from Seungyoun’s hold, then stepping forward. He continued then, cheeks starting to strain, “I called bullshit. I fucking knew I was right to call bullshit.”
His voice was clearer now, and if he saw the “stranger’s” eyes widen in almost-recognition, he let it happen. The guy’s offended stance turned into one that was obviously stunned, his jaw gaping slightly. If they had an audience now, he didn’t care. Nothing mattered besides the fact that the two of them were in front of each other right now.
Wang Yibo locked their gazes, his chest felt like it was going to explode. Then he spoke again.
“I knew 6 out of 10 was bullshit.”
And there it was. The surprised, delighted laugh he’s been hearing for the past few fucking months. And fuck him, the phone call version of it didn’t do any justice at all. Wang Yibo honestly seriously cannot believe that throughout the whole time that he’s heard it, he didn’t know it was accompanied by the most beautiful smile matched with the cutest bunny teeth. He can’t believe he was deprived of beautiful bright eyes and small shaking shoulders, of soft rising cheeks and the little nose scrunch.
All of sudden, soft cold hands took ahold of Yibo’s cheeks, and in a blink his Zhan-ge—his Zhan-ge!— was only a few inches away from his face. He was staring at Yibo in disbelief, turning his face as though to check if he was real. If they heard more gasps in the background, the two of them very obviously ignored it. The student let it happen until someone pulled Zhan-ge’s hands away, totally ruining their moment. Which, wow, rude.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry. I left him for a moment and he’s probably had too much to drink.”
Yibo turned his head to face the new stranger as he pulled Zhan-ge away from him. Under his breath, he was muttering something along the lines of “oh my god, if you’re not being chased by creeps, you’re the one being a creep, I’m never leaving you behind again.”
Zhan-ge looked as though he’s shaken from his shock, looking embarrassed at what he just did. But Yibo wanted to protest, wanted to say no, it’s okay, I’d let you hold me again, but he spoke he could even say a word out.
“Ji Li. No. No, I know him. I’m not a creep,” He then stopped at his friend who was insistently pulling at him, turning to look at Yibo again, cheeks flushed. “H-He’s…”
And at this, Yibo’s dumbass brain took over, blurting out, “The love of his life.”
Then he blinked because, that was not what he was going for. Swallowing then stuttering a bit, “I—his assistant,” Okay, no, not that, either. He was losing all his cool, his neck starting to feel strangely warm, “W-Wang Yibo. I’m Wang Yibo.” Okay, he’s still cool. Very cool.
Then there was silence. There was definitely a crowd watching now because it seems as though Yibo’s life just turned into some cheesy-as-fuck Romantic Comedy. Fuck. Okay, if the silence starts to get longer, he was going to sprint out the door and yes, he wasn’t usually the type to run away but then again, he wasn’t the type to cause a scene or announce his confession in front of people either, so hey. This could be a night of firsts. He made a mental note to start bringing his skateboard everywhere from now on.
It was starting to feel like a century of just standing there when all of a sudden, his ears were flooded with familiar laughter. It was Zhan-ge clutching hard at his stomach, “Wow!”
Wang Yibo watched this beautiful man laugh at him, forcing himself to frown at this scene. “You said you were approaching your supposed love of your life!” Zhan-ge then lifted his head, looking up at Yibo through his lashes and god, god, 6/10 his ass.
His Zhan-ge suddenly approached him, grabbing at his wrist, making his tightened fist relax. He didn’t even know he was being tense! The older man then smiled encouragingly at him, tugging slightly, before going all, “Three…”
The next thing Yibo knew was he was running straight out of the establishment. His chest was beating wildly, his sight getting blurry at the sides but clear when focused on his ge, pulling him through it.
In the next moment, he and Zhan-ge were panting, collapsed on some random park, and it was at this that Yibo let himself laugh because what the fuck. He turned to look at the other exhausted man, “What the fuck? That was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.”
Zhan-ge looked at him, smile absolutely blinding, eyes teasing, “Dumber than calling yourself the love of my life in front of everyone?”
Yibo felt his neck and his ears burn, glaring at him. But it only made the older man laugh, making his legs feel jelly despite lying down. Pouting, he turned to look at the sky instead, taking in the moon, shining brightly along with the stars. Zhan-ge seemed to do the same, both of them trying to catch their breath.
Once they were both drowned by comfortable silence, Yibo closed his eyes, his mind suddenly reeling over the fact that he was lying down with Zhan-ge. That he found Zhan-ge. That he’s with Zhan-ge. And instead of it feeling terrifying or weird or awkward, it was just as comfortable as it was through their phone calls.
Taking a huff, he opened his eyes again, turning to look at the man beside him. He was too preoccupied staring at the sky, blinking slowly, so prettily. Yibo’s chest was doused with warmth again, his stomach filled with butterflies. The rush of wanting to tell his feelings was back, palms itching, fingers twitching.
Well, no backing out now. Maybe this was the universe’s way of telling him to go for it. Maybe this was why it felt right for Zhan-ge to approach him a while ago. Maybe, even though this wasn’t the normal meet-up shit Zhan-ge wanted he, he could still go for it. At that, he took a long breath, speaking again, voice slightly hoarse, hesitant.
“I meant it. Being the love of your life. I’m not saying I am. Just that, I could be.”
At this, the elder man turned to him with wide eyes but before he could say anything, he continued.
“I know this isn’t normal. And I know you want something normal. How we met wasn’t normal. I’m probably in the list of your weirdest meet-ups ever—In fact, I could be the weirdest one out there but. I like you a lot. I don’t know how you did it or how it happened but I like you. More than a lot. S-So,” Another exhale, “W-We. I can still try to do the more normal relationship shit you’d like even though we started differently. A-A-And we—I—you’re probably thinking it’s weird for someone to fall in love through phone calls but you underestimate yourself, Zhan-ge. Y-Y-You—” Fuck, he was more nervous than he thought. True, he was pouring his heart out but it’s not like he could forcefully stop himself from stuttering, fuck. “Just—”
Yibo stopped. Zhan-ge didn’t look surprised anymore. Instead, he was looking at him with soft eyes and he really should stop or else Yibo’s heart was going to die.
“I wanted something normal ‘cause I found myself liking this brat on the phone a lot, but believed there would never be a chance since I was convinced you'd never feel the same way 'cause who in the world fell in love through phone calls, dummie. Imagine my surprise to find out the one guy I was finally drawn to turned out to be you. Maybe normal just really isn't our thing."
Listen. Wang Yibo has gone through a lot today. By 3 am, he’s realized he’s fallen in love with someone only through phone calls. Next thing he knew was he ready to confess then by the time he was about to, he gets heartbroken. Then this beautiful guy just appears out of nowhere and he kinda falls in love again, to find out the beautiful guy and the Phone Guy he was in love with are basically the same person, so now—now. If his response to that was a stuttered, “wh-what?” then no one was allowed to judge him.
Zhan-ge, because he’s Zhan-ge and all things good in life, merely chuckled at that, lifting his hand to suddenly pinch at Yibo’s cheek, “I’m saying I could also be the ‘love of your life’.”
And Yibo. Wang Yibo was definitely not about to cry. He wasn’t going to be that guy so he went and willingly ignored the lump on his throat. Quietly, he forced out a rough, “holy shit” before moving closer, both of them now lying side-by-side, face-to-face.
His ge was smiling at him so brightly, he wanted to squint at it, wanted to cover his eyes, wanted nothing more than to keep it for himself. “You know, I always imagined your smile to be pretty and I was right.” His chest was pounding, but everything was warm, warm, warm, and—
His ge then suddenly started fake gagging, throwing in a fake disgusted look, but the red tinge on his ears gave everything away, and Wang Yibo really truly was gone on him.
The two of them were laughing when Wang Yibo decided to lean close and capture his lips. Both their smiles were still pasted on their faces when he decided to move on top of him, to kiss him better, again and again and again, until both of them felt kissed. So very kissed.
It went on and on, Zhan-ge’s arms now wrap around his head, when all of a sudden, he pulled him back, eyes wide. At this, Yibo kept his distance, eyes panicked as well, “What? What? What’s wrong?”
“Oh my god. I almost forgot.”
“I’m Xiao Zhan, by the way.”
In a blink, he was laughing hard again because this was ridiculous, everything was ridiculous, but his whole body was singing that it was sure he didn’t want it any other way. He was laughing to the point that Xiao Zhan—his Xiao Zhan—was grumbling up at him, hitting his arm while telling him to shut up. It only made him laugh more.
What made him stop was when his ge wrapped his arms around his head again, fingers now buried his his hair, demanding for him to “start kissing him again or else he’ll kick his balls” which Wang Yibo knew he was more than capable of doing. So obviously, he happily complied, smiling into the kiss.
Yibo’s phone rang. Grumbling a bit, he grabbed at it from the bedside table, not bothering to check the caller ID before answering with a rough, “hello?”
At the sound of Zhan-ge’s voice, he couldn’t help but smile. He didn’t bother to open his eyes though, still sleepy, “Ge.”
“Remember the guy I was talking about? Well, I approached him last night.”
“Yes, wow. And we went out. We ran to the park, we kissed, he bought me ice-cream, and I brought him home. He even fucked me so good, Bo-di, big dick and everything, despite it being his first time. He might really be the one.” He let out a very fake dreamy sigh.
Wang Yibo was now full-on grinning at this, “He sounds like a catch, Zhan-ge.”
“He definitely is.”
“You gotta make sure he stays then. Your only successful date.”
Zhan-ge faux-gasped through the receiver, “You’re right! Oh, great personal assistant o’ mine, what should I do to keep this one good date?”
The student hummed on the line, pretending to think, “Well, maybe a hundred kisses every day.”
There was a surprised giggle, the one he knew he’s always been fond of, “A hundred!”
“Mmh. Then maybe you can go wake him up by riding the fuck out of him—”
The next thing Yibo knew was his arm was getting hit hard multiple times, making him burst out in laughter. He finally opened his eyes to turn and look at the beautiful man beside him, bunny teeth all gritted, but Yibo knew it was just his way of keeping himself from laughing as well, “Wang Yibo! We were having a moment! We were being so cute! Why would you ruin our moment!”
To coax him, Yibo shifted his position. Now face to face, he started attacking his boyfriend’s face with kisses until he was left to be a giggling mess. He continued at this until his heart felt like it was going to burst in happiness, until his surroundings felt fuzzy and bright, until he was also left to be a giggling mess.
Through this, he couldn’t help but think that fuck. When he finally meets Yu Bin. He was definitely going to buy him a fruit basket of something.
Xiao Zhan hit him again when he expressed this. But by the way he didn’t answer and proceeded to kiss Wang Yibo instead, Yibo knew he was probably thinking the same thing.