Jiang Cheng isn’t entirely sure how he ends up at this party, but he guesses it’s Wei Wuxian’s fault, not that he can spot his brother anywhere at the party.
Jiang Cheng frowns when he remembers that he last saw him making eyes at someone who looked remarkably like a statue and Jiang Cheng sighs.
Wei Wuxian is probably all over that guy now, only to forget about him in the morning and then complain to Jiang Cheng when they guy won’t take a hint.
They have been there, done that; multiple times in fact just in the past few months and honestly Jiang Cheng is tired of Wei Wuxian flirting with everything that moves.
Jiang Cheng looks around to see if he can find anyone else he knows and can tolerate talking to at this boring party, but Nie Huaisang is probably on his best way to be drunk and that’s really all the friends Jiang Cheng has.
He’s resigned to stay on this couch until Wei Wuxian remembers him or is ready to go home and it will probably be a long stay. Wei Wuxian can party all night long if he really wants to and Jiang Cheng curses himself yet again for offering to be the designated driver this evening.
His phone only distracts him for so long, and in the end Jiang Cheng simply observes the people around him.
He spots someone who looks a lot like the guy he saw Wei Wuxian with last, but this guy at least knows how to laugh so they are probably only related and not the same. There’s another guy with him—someone huge and muscular—and even Jiang Cheng can admit that he’s gorgeous, from a purely aesthetical point of view.
Jiang Cheng watches those two for a while longer, making it a game with himself to try and figure out if they are together or not, but when a third man, a lot smaller than the other two, joins them, it gets pretty self-explanatory.
The short guy leans up and demands a kiss or four from smiley guy and tall guy good-naturedly rolls his eyes at them before he leaves them to their own devices.
Jiang Cheng curses his bad luck, because that little game was the most interesting thing he had done the whole evening and now he’s resigned to get bored to death again. He sees the tall guy make his rounds a few times as time continues, and while he seems to be friendly with a lot of people he never stays with a group for too long.
Jiang Cheng tries his best to not be a creep, so he forces himself to let his eyes wander instead of simply watching tall guy all night long, but he most definitely notices when tall guy seems to notice him. The attention comes with a small smile and Jiang Cheng has honestly been to enough clubs and parties to know what this smile and that eye contact means, and he sighs when tall guy starts to make his way over to him.
“I’m not going to sleep with you,” is what Jiang Cheng greets him with and tall guy raises a curious eyebrow at him.
“Okay,” he easily says, and Jiang Cheng has to admit that it’s already better than what he normally deals with.
Normally people are angry or try to change his mind, sometimes rather forcefully and Jiang Cheng can’t say that he cares for either, so this reaction is already a nice change of pace.
At least Jiang Cheng thinks that, right until the guy sits down next to him.
“Nie Mingjue,” he introduces himself and Jiang Cheng wasn’t raised as rude as he always likes to pretend so he nods at Nie Mingjue.
“Jiang Cheng,” he gives back and Nie Mingjue makes a little ‘ah’ sound.
“You know Huaisang, right?” he asks then and catches Jiang Cheng off guard with that.
“You’re the da-ge he can’t shut up about?” he wants to know and Nie Mingjue laughs at that.
“Yes, I am,” he confirms and Jiang Cheng takes another look at Nie Mingjue.
Now that he knows what he’s looking for he can see the resemblance between him and Nie Huaisang, but this is still not what he expected Nie Mingjue to look like.
“Nice to meet you, then,” Jiang Cheng says, mostly to have something to say and his heart goes a little bit fluttery in his chest when Nie Mingjue smiles at him and Jiang Cheng catches sight of some dimples.
“Likewise,” he gives back and Jiang Cheng thinks surely this is it, but then Nie Mingjue simply doesn’t leave.
They make small talk at first, and then delve into deeper topics and Jiang Cheng has to admit that talking to Nie Mingjue—even with the horribly loud music making it hard sometimes—is really nice.
They keep at it right until Wei Wuxian throws himself over the back of the couch, his arms circling around Jiang Cheng’s neck and screaming something into his ear.
After that it’s pure chaos, with how Wei Wuxian seems to not only have made friends with the statue from before but also with a handful of other people, and before Jiang Cheng knows it, they are already on their way back to their apartment.
He’s not even sure if he got to say goodbye to Nie Mingjue or not.
“My da-ge wants your number,” is what Nie Huaisang greets Jiang Cheng with the next time they see each other.
“Hello to you, too,” Jiang Cheng gives back, without looking away from his book. “How are you, Huaisang?”
“Drop the act,” Nie Huaisang complaints and throws himself into Jiang Cheng’s lap. “We both know you have never greeted anyone in your entire life.”
“I just greeted you,” Jiang Cheng mildly gives back and then bites back a smile when Nie Huaisang heaves out a sigh.
“Fine, whatever. Can we get back to the topic of my da-ge wanting your number?” Nie Huaisang wants to know and Jiang Cheng finally closes his book.
“What does he want with my number?” Jiang Cheng shoots back and Nie Huaisang blinks at him.
“I would guess he wants to stay in contact? You did meet at the party last weekend, right? He said you talked for a while.”
“And I told him I’m not interested, so I fail to see what he wants with my number.”
“Jiang Cheng, sweetheart, no offense, but not everything is about sex,” Nie Huaisang patronizingly says as he pats Jiang Cheng’s cheek.
“Get off me,” Jiang Cheng complaints and pushes Nie Huaisang’s hand away. “I know that.”
“Ah, but you sometimes fail to understand,” Nie Huaisang gives back. “I know sexual people make it seem like everything is about sex, but it’s really not. I guess he enjoyed your talk and now wants to get to know you better,” Nie Huaisang says with a shrug and finally sits down in a more appropriate manner, that doesn’t mean he’s draped all over Jiang Cheng. “Sometimes two people can just be friends, you know.”
“Fine, whatever, I guess,” Jiang Cheng mumbles but he can’t help the little excited swoop of his stomach.
It had been nice, talking to Nie Mingjue.
Jiang Cheng isn’t sure where he went wrong in his life to deserve this, but he falls in love with Nie Mingjue. Because of course he does.
But how could he not? Nie Mingjue is nice and caring and funny and strong, and he has opinions and is not afraid to stand behind them, but he’s also accepting and very open with his feelings.
Seriously, Jiang Cheng never stood a chance and he will forever curse his luck with love.
He doesn’t even get a few days alone to process the fact that he’s in love with one of his very few friends, because Nie Mingjue is somehow always there; either via phone or personally and Jiang Cheng really doesn’t know what to do with that.
Nie Mingjue likes to check in on him at least twice during a day—more if he knows that Jiang Cheng is being stressed or has exams coming up—and he drops by the apartment at least twice a week.
He claims it’s to make sure that Jiang Cheng is alright, that he’s eating healthy and sleeping well, but if anyone would ask Jiang Cheng, he’d say it’s to torment him, specifically.
It’s not helping his feelings in the slightest to see Nie Mingjue in their apartment or worse, their kitchen, preparing food for Jiang Cheng because he is under the impression that Jiang Cheng is not living healthily enough.
Jiang Cheng would like to kiss him for that, but also kick his ass for it.
It’s a very confusing time.
“Is Wei Wuxian with Wangji again?” Nie Mingjue asks as he settles down next to Jiang Cheng for their bi-weekly movie evening and Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes.
“Of course he is. Is he ever anywhere else?” he gives back and still can’t believe that Lan Wangji is the brother of Nie Mingjue’s best friend.
It really is a small world.
“Not lately, no,” Nie Mingjue says with a small smile and a shrug. “I’m not complaining, though, it gives us more time alone,” he then casually says and Jiang Cheng freezes.
Nie Mingjue has done that a lot lately, saying things like that, and Jiang Cheng doesn’t know how to deal with that at all.
And with how close they sit, with how their arms brush against each other, this time must be pretty obvious to Nie Mingjue as well, because he sighs before he turns to Jiang Cheng.
“When will you finally allow me to take you out on a date?” he asks him and Jiang Cheng’s stomach flips in excitement before it drops completely out.
All he can feel after that is anger, though.
“I already said I’m not going to sleep with you,” Jiang Cheng bites out and scoots away, to have a little bit more space, but Nie Mingjue shakes his head.
“I know that,” he gives back. “I was asking for a date, not sex.”
“Yeah, well, I’m never going to sleep with you, so you might as well stop trying now,” Jiang Cheng snaps and he wonders—not for the first time—when his sexuality will not be a problem for once.
“I know what being ace means,” Nie Mingjue says with a small roll of his eyes, completely taking Jiang Cheng off guard. “I know it means not today, or after our third date or on our anniversary. It means you’re not going to sleep with me when I propose, or when we finally get married, and we’re definitely never going to have sex when we adopt our first kid, because I want it to be a small one. We’ll be too exhausted to even think about that,” Nie Mingjue easily gives back and Jiang Cheng gapes at him.
“Getting a little ahead of yourself, aren’t you?” he eventually manages to say, but he can’t deny that his heart is hammering away in his chest and that he’s probably completely red in the face.
“Well, the slow approach didn’t get me anywhere,” Nie Mingjue gives back and then simply continues to stare at Jiang Cheng, clearly waiting for an answer.
“How do you know about being ace?” Jiang Cheng finally asks, because he needs a little time to process the fact that Nie Mingjue not only wants to date him, but already has their entire life planned out, it seems.
“Huaisang gave me a whole lecture,” Nie Mingjue says, clearly fondly annoyed of his little brother. “He felt the need to explain my own sexuality to me, because he thought I was in denial. And you know him; once he has found a topic he likes, he gets invested. I think the lecture took three days and there was a test at the end. Can you even believe him,” Nie Mingjue finishes with a mutter and Jiang Cheng blinks.
“How would he think you’re in denial?” Jiang Cheng asks, because he remembers very clearly that Nie Mingjue dropped hints about being gay in their very first conversation during the party, and he fails to see how someone like that could have ever been in denial.
“It was a misunderstanding, actually,” Nie Mingjue says with a shrug. “I told him once that I kissed Xichen, but that we are just friends, and the only thing he took away from that was that I must clearly be in denial.”
“But you weren’t?” Jiang Cheng wants to know and he can’t help the slightly bitter sting to his heart at the thought that Nie Mingjue used to be in love with Lan Xichen.
The guy is beautiful, inside and out; Jiang Cheng can’t even begin to compare to that.
“Gods, no,” Nie Mingjue laughs. “He is my best friend. So when he fell in love and was fretting over his lack of experience with kissing I offered that he could practice on me. It was never anything more, and as far as I heard Meng Yao was very impressed.”
“Oh,” Jiang Cheng breathes out because that makes a lot of sense, but he could also see how Nie Huaisang got the wrong impression from what Nie Mingjue told him.
“I’ve known and accepted that I’m gay since middle school. And Nie Huaisang is my brother; there wasn’t actually much he could teach me still, because he’s not the only one who tends to get obsessed with a topic.”
“So you know what being asexual means,” Jiang Cheng slowly says and Nie Mingjue nods. “So you know it’s never going to happen. I’m not demi, and I’m not going to sleep with you to make you happy or anything.”
“That’s fine. I have a working hand and internet access. I’ve managed to make due until now, so it won’t be a problem.”
Jiang Cheng narrows his eyes at Nie Mingjue because he cannot believe that it should be this easy, even though he can’t deny that he really, truly wants it to be this easy.
“What are you going to do if I say no to a date?” he wants to know.
“Then we’re going to sit at this very respectable distance and watch our movie, and I’ll never bring it up again,” Nie Mingjue instantly says and he seems honest about it, too.
“What if I say yes to a date?” Jiang Cheng wants to know next and Nie Mingjue smiles at him.
“Then I’m going to hug you for a very long time, before I tuck you in right under my arm as we watch our movie. I’m probably going to hold your hand during it, too,” Nie Mingjue says, completely shameless about it and Jiang Cheng frowns for real now.
“Why not kiss me?” he asks, because that would actually be something he wants and if he can’t get that he might jut say no out of spite.
“Because some ace people don’t like kissing. I don’t know what you like yet, so I’m going to go for a hug first,” Nie Mingjue tells him and Jiang Cheng flushes bright red again.
“You’re an idiot,” he hisses out, but before Nie Mingjue’s face can fall Jiang Cheng grabs the front of his shirt and pulls him close. “I’ve only wanted to kiss you and your stupid dimples since forever,” he then says, and Nie Mingjue doesn’t even have enough time to break out into a full smile before Jiang Cheng is kissing him.
“Mh, I see,” Nie Mingjue hums when they part and then he dives in for another kiss.
Not that Jiang Cheng is complaining about that.
“So a date?” Jiang Cheng breathlessly asks when they part that time, and Nie Mingjue brings his dimples out again.
Except this time, Jiang Cheng doesn’t have to hold back, so he leans in and kisses Nie Mingjue’s cheek.
“A date. A real one. Not what we’re doing here,” Nie Mingjue says with a nod and a very soft look in his eyes. “I’m going to take you out for dinner and bring you home like a real gentleman.”
Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes at that, because Nie Mingjue is truly a ridiculous man, but not so secretly he’s pleased.
“I will hold you to that,” he tells Nie Mingjue and then snuggles right into Nie Mingjue’s side, because cuddles were on the table too, and Jiang Cheng is not about to miss out on that.
“Alright,” Nie Mingjue softly gives back and leans down to press a kiss to Jiang Cheng’s head.
They start the movie, and Jiang Cheng’s heart goes all fluttery again when Nie Mingjue does reach out for his hand and tangles their fingers together.
“I want a private proposal and two kids,” Jiang Cheng mutters about halfway through the movie and he doesn’t have to see Nie Mingjue to know that he’s smiling. “And only close relatives and friends for the wedding. None of that part of the century nonsense.”
“We’ll get a boy and a girl,” Nie Mingjue agrees and strokes his thumb over Jiang Cheng’s ring finger. “And I’ll go down on one knee. And Wei Wuxian and Huaisang are not allowed to hold speeches at our wedding.”
Jiang Cheng laughs softly at that, because he likes the thought of it, even though he’s pretty sure no power on earth could stop those two from holding a speech.
But it would be a small price to pay for everything else and honestly, Jiang Cheng can’t wait for it all to happen.