Lan Zhan is never what Wei Ying expects.
This isn’t news, really; this has always been one of the things Wei Ying liked best about her. When they’d met she’d thought Lan Zhan was gorgeous and cold and mean. It turned out only two of those initial assumptions were accurate, and she’s never really mean to Wei Ying anymore except when she’s trying to be funny, so that’s fine.
Then she’d thought Lan Zhan would probably be a nightmare to live with when they’d gotten an apartment together in their third year of college, because of the early rising and the general neatness, even though by then Wei Ying was very much in love with her and would have suffered anything if it meant she got to see her every day. And then Lan Zhan had thrown out an absent-minded “we can’t be far from the rock gym, you go there every week with your siblings,” when they were browsing Zillow and Wei Ying had realized she was going to be the most considerate roommate ever. Which is, you know. Also fine. Wei Ying never knows how to pay her back for the dinners and the movie nights and the—shared bunny custody, but it’s fine.
The point is that Wei Ying is used to being pleasantly surprised by Lan Zhan, but tonight has been an evening full of surprises, one after the other. First there had been a very weird but illuminating phone call with Lan Zhan’s brother where he had called Wei Ying an idiot several times, which, admittedly, she deserved. Then Wei Ying ran into the apartment and yelled “I’m in love with you, jiejie!” to Lan Zhan, who had startled so badly she’d knocked a mug of tea off their dining room table. Then Lan Zhan had ignored the spilled tea and china pieces of the mug to cross the room and hold Wei Ying’s face in a desperate way, and then she had said, “Do you mean it,” with a strange wild hope in her voice, and Wei Ying had held her and said “Lan Zhan, yes,” and then they had kissed for a long time against their front door, Lan Zhan murmuring into her hair, love you, love you, it’s never going to be anyone else—
That had all been very nice. Wei Ying is on cloud nine about it.
And now this: Wei Ying being tugged down the hall to Lan Zhan’s bedroom, pushed back on her bed, Lan Zhan climbing over her and kissing her deep. Saying “Wei Ying, Wei Ying,” against her neck, smoothing her hand down her side. Wei Ying grabs at her hair for something to hold, keeps their lips together. As long as they’re kissing, she feels like she has a handle on this; like she won’t be swept away on the overwhelming rush of everything she feels, everything that has changed and shifted over the course of one night. She knows how to kiss. She’s done a lot of kissing. She knows she can make that good.
She tries desperately not to think too hard about it as Lan Zhan tugs her hoodie off over her head, as she finds the button of her jeans and tugs them off, too. It feels like there are two magnets inside her, pulling her in opposite directions. One is a sweet ache, a burning lust she just wants to feed and feed and feed, she wants to get her hands under Lan Zhan’s button-down and feel her skin, her tits, the strong lines of her back and shoulders. But the other part is sharp and loud, working frantically, trying to figure out how far this is going to go, how much they’re going to do.
Wei Ying doesn’t have much experience, is the thing. She may have lied about that. A lot. To almost everyone she knows. She’s kissed a lot of people, mostly at parties, but in general she just—doesn’t know what to do to get it to move beyond that, and has never really felt the urge. A few times, when the opportunity had presented itself, she had had sex, but then—she hadn’t come, first of all, not like she could when she was alone, and there had been something so strange about it, so uncomfortable and vulnerable. It was as if she had been looked at and looked through at the same time. Maybe she hadn’t been very good.
Lan Zhan, apparently, has no such qualms. Wei Ying briefly loses track of all her tension and worry when Lan Zhan abandons her mouth to suck on her collarbone, and then down to her nipple as her back arches. Then Lan Zhan pulls back to start unbuttoning her shirt and it all comes rushing back. She can feel it, in the distance, a version of herself that would just be able to feel nice, and wouldn’t think so hard, and is—distantly—upset that she can’t quite access it.
She reaches out for Lan Zhan’s face, searching. She wants this, she wants this. She knows she wants this; she has wanted this. For so long. She is waiting for the magical moment where sex with Lan Zhan becomes good, and stops being terrifying.
Lan Zhan takes Wei Ying’s wrist and kisses it, then presses her tongue to the flat of her palm. Wei Ying wheezes.
“I thought you were repressed,” she says weakly.
“Did you,” Lan Zhan says, as if Wei Ying has accused her of thinking the moon landing was faked, or something.
“Well, obviously I was wrong about that, I just, hhah,” Wei Ying tries to say, trailing off into a moan when Lan Zhan leans down to kiss her hipbone, her thigh. Open-mouthed, a hint of teeth. So confident it makes Wei Ying’s head spin and also—anxiety coils in her chest. She tries to laugh it off. This is Lan Zhan, right? Wei Ying’s been wanting this for—for—
She laughs again, a high awkward laugh. “You’re just, like, throwing me on things.” It sounds stupid the second she says it. Lan Zhan smiles against her thigh, a motion that would usually make Wei Ying burst with joy. Instead, the anxiousness curls tighter.
“Would you prefer to do the throwing?” Lan Zhan says solicitously, but her tone is still dry, amused; so she doesn’t think it’s likely, doesn’t think Wei Ying could manage it. Which she probably couldn’t, to be fair, but—
Maybe it is funny. Maybe it is, and in a second she’ll get it and laugh along and it’ll all be fine, maybe it is just fucking hilarious that Wei Ying is as good as a virgin, with a few instances of mediocre sex with a couple other people and Lan Zhan is—Lan Zhan is perfect and confident and sexy and, apparently, knows how to do things—
She squeezes her eyes shut. Just breathe, she tells herself. You wanted this, you idiot! You can’t fuck this up now that it’s in motion!
“Did you think you would be teaching me something?” Lan Zhan continues, still amused. “Tell me how you imagined it.”
Wei Ying feels abruptly ashamed of being almost naked, of being kissed on the hip. Clumsy and too stupid to live. She had imagined that they would be awkward and silly together and that would make it okay that she didn’t know what the hell she was doing, a daydream that seems childish now, stupid. She feels her hands trembling, and all at once the lust is locked off somewhere she can’t get to it, and all she can feel is raw nauseating panic. She’s going to suck at this. She’s going to suck at this and then Lan Zhan isn’t going to be happy with it and none of this will be right and Wei Ying just wants to keep her for longer than a day—
“Tell me,” Lan Zhan hums, hands on her thighs. The laugh in her voice feels suddenly cold, mocking. Wei Ying jerks away.
“It’s not funny,” she mutters, sliding back a little; she misses Lan Zhan’s warmth but doesn’t think she’s ever wanted to be touched less, stomach churning in humiliation.
“Wei Ying?” Lan Zhan sits up, alarmed. The lust and humor is gone from her voice; Wei Ying is very suddenly ashamed of that, too.
“It’s not funny!” she grits out again, covering her face, and, nonsensically, her tits. Squeezing tight down on her chest as if she can press herself down into an atom.
“I’m not laughing,” Lan Zhan says, and she really isn’t, now. “Wei Ying, please look at me.”
Wei Ying wishes she was alone so she could slap herself in the face a few times, just to get out of her head, but Lan Zhan hates when she does that. She curls her nails into her palms instead, lets the bite of them against her skin break the spell of anxious revulsion. She can’t let this get ruined, too, she can’t, this was what she was afraid of the whole time, that she would be a bad lay, that she would be clumsy and incapable and too much, that Lan Zhan would have to do all the work in what is supposed to be something people do together—
“Haha,” she says, forces a weak smile onto her face. “God. Sorry. I don’t know what that was, I think I’m just still really nervous, I promise I’ll be fine in a second—”
“—I’m serious, that was just—that was just me being stupid, you didn’t do anything wrong—”
“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan says, distress coloring her voice. “Stop. We don’t have to have sex.”
“No, I want to,” Wei Ying says automatically.
“You’re shaking,” Lan Zhan points out.
Wei Ying looks at the arm still curled protectively against her tits. Ah.
“I do want to,” she says, weakly. “I just.”
“Was it too much?” Lan Zhan says, careful. “Wei Ying?” She’s sitting there half out of her clothes, her shirt half unbuttoned, half untucked from her long skirt. Wei Ying can see the tan fabric of her bra, a boring everyday bra, against the receding flush on her chest. Her fist closes against the duvet.
Wei Ying looks away. “Lan Zhan,” she says—to the room, really, more than to Lan Zhan, whose eyes she can’t meet. “Why am I so scared? It’s not very fair, is it? I spent, like, a year and a half jerking off about you and now—”
The air conditioning is on; she’s cold. Lan Zhan had made some kind of noise when Wei Ying had said the jerking off thing, a little horny, mostly surprised. Wei Ying covers her face. She feels weird and shaky and mad at herself, and a part of her, a very big part, is saying find a way to apologize for this mess and then fuck her like she wants you to, just don’t—just don’t—
“I’m going to get you a blanket,” Lan Zhan says. She stands up and goes to her closet, because she’s perfect and she keeps the linens in with her clothes so she doesn’t have to walk to the hall closet when she changes her sheets. Wei Ying adores her. If the Wei Ying of two hours ago could see her almost crying on Lan Zhan’s bed instead of having sex with her she would probably punch her in the face.
She finds her hoodie, abandoned on the duvet, and puts it back on.
Lan Zhan appears back at the side of the bed and sets the blanket down. “Can I—do you want me to touch you?”
Wei Ying sniffs. “I always want you to touch me, Lan Zhan,” she says.
Lan Zhan nods, and leans over and kisses her forehead, just a quick light press that makes Wei Ying feel warm all over, a little better. “I’m going to get changed,” she says, then goes to her drawers, shedding her button-down as she goes and putting on a sleep-shirt that hangs over her thighs. Wei Ying watches her do it, comforted more by the routine of it, how casual it is. Then she climbs into bed next to Wei Ying, and holds out her arms.
They take their time getting settled, without speaking much. Wei Ying hooks one leg over Lan Zhan’s, wraps her arms around her waist. Tries to breathe. They’ve done this before; Wei Ying knows from nights watching movies how Lan Zhan likes to hold her, and how she likes to be held. It’s almost, but not quite, comforting, this reminder that things had been so easy before, and now Wei Ying almost doesn’t know what to do with her hands. Lan Zhan uses her free hand to put the blanket around them, and presses her chin into Wei Ying’s hair.
“Did you think I was mocking you?” she says gently.
Wei Ying whines and turns her face to Lan Zhan’s shoulder. The fierce anxiety is receding, being replaced with shame. “Do I have to talk about it?” she tries.
“Yes,” Lan Zhan says.
“So unrelenting, jiejie,” Wei Ying says reflexively, and Lan Zhan kisses her hair.
“Mn,” she agrees. “Tell me, Wei Ying.”
“I don’t know,” Wei Ying hedges. “I just—I didn’t feel—I mean it felt good, ” she says, stumbling, unsure. “I really did want it, I’m not lying about that. I just. I kept thinking that I didn’t know what I was doing and you—you seemed to know. And I thought I—I’ve had sex before,” she adds. “But it hasn’t been—I want to be good at it. And I got scared that I wouldn’t be good, and I wanted to be good because I want you to like me—”
Lan Zhan interrupts at this point. “I will like you even if you are terrible in bed, Wei Ying,” she says. “Which I do not anticipate.”
“I know that intellectually ,” Wei Ying says. “But. You know.” She closes her eyes. “I’m sorry.”
“Ah,” Lan Zhan says, soft and hitching, and then Wei Ying feels lips in her hair again, then her forehead. Affection she doesn’t really feel like she should be getting, frankly, but Lan Zhan is only holding her tighter, running one hand up and down her back. “You don’t have to be sorry.”
“I fucked up,” Wei Ying mutters.
“I was scared, too,” Lan Zhan says, then, “No, just listen,” as Wei Ying tries to wiggle out of her arms. “When you came in tonight and said you loved me, I couldn’t think. I kept wondering if you would change your mind. I wanted to hear you say that for such a long time, and now—”
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says, alarm overtaking her shame, sitting up to look at her. To cradle her sweet face, her soft cheeks and her long neck. “Lan Zhan, no, never. I could never.”
“I should have talked to you,” Lan Zhan murmurs. “We should have talked about it. I just—”
“I wanted it too,” Wei Ying says. “Lan Zhan, there was nothing I wanted more than to have sex with you. It was just my stupid brain that got in the way. I think you’re so hot and beautiful and perfect. I want you so bad it makes me crazy. I just. I just couldn’t, tonight. I don’t know why.”
“You were scared,” Lan Zhan says. She turns her head to kiss Wei Ying’s palm.
“Yeah,” Wei Ying says quietly. “I’m good at messing things up. I just—I can’t mess this up, Lan Zhan, and the more I thought about it the more I froze, and you—you seemed like you knew what you were doing, and I didn’t.”
“If I seemed like I knew,” Lan Zhan says, dry, “it’s only because I imagine it so often.”
Wei Ying sputters into a laugh. “Lan Zhan!!”
Lan Zhan hugs her closer and grins into her hair. “Mm?”
“You are so!”
“Yes,” Lan Zhan agrees, and rocks them a little in a silly way as Wei Ying laughs. Then, shifting her grip a little so she can rub Wei Ying’s back again, she says, “you haven’t ruined anything.”
Wei Ying squirms.
“Listen to me,” Lan Zhan says. “I am in love with you. I think you’re the sexiest person I’ve ever met. None of that is going to stop.”
“Ugh,” Wei Ying mutters, into her neck, her body letting go of the last of its tension as Lan Zhan’s words sink in. “I mean, I love you too, obviously. I just. Stop being so rational, Lan Zhan, don’t you know it’s annoying?”
“Annoying,” Lan Zhan repeats. “Is that what it’s called when I’m right?”
“Mm, yeah,” Wei Ying mutters. She curls in tighter. “Can I stay here?” she asks, still hiding her face. “Tonight?”
“Any night,” Lan Zhan promises. “Can I kiss you?”
That’s not such an unreasonable request, Wei Ying thinks, and leans back, and tilts up her chin. Lan Zhan’s mouth is warm, soft; still as sweet as it was when they kissed in the entryway earlier. It’s a good kiss, a kiss without expectation. Wei Ying moves into it, sighs when Lan Zhan pulls back. Presses their foreheads together. Says, her eyes still closed, “Just keep being patient with me, jiejie.”
Lan Zhan’s smile, like the morning sun rising, when Wei Ying opens her eyes to see it. Her finger tucking back Wei Ying’s hair. “We’ll be patient with each other,” she says. Then her nose wrinkles. “I am sleepy.”
“Since we’re not going to stay up and fuck you can get to bed on time,” Wei Ying jokes, cautiously, and laughs when Lan Zhan smiles. Wei Ying kisses her nose, to smooth out the wrinkle. “Go to sleep. I’ll be here when you wake up.”
Lan Zhan’s face changes, then. Softens and shatters, a little bit. Like she might cry.
“That’s all I want,” she says.