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oh no he’s hot

Chapter Text

“Xingqiu!” Yanfei’s voice called from the back room.

“Yeah?” He called back.

“New café across the road, I know the owner. Go say hi to her for me, kay?”

“Can I stay on the clock while I do that?”

“Fine, just say hi. Her name is Hu Tao.”

And that’s how Xingqiu found himself standing in front of the new café. It seemed smaller and family-owned, at least compared to his place of employment (Starbucks.)

Through the glass in the storefront, he could see a girl with her hair in long brown pigtails serving a customer, as well as a girl with braided blue hair grinding coffee from behind the counter, Xiangling- if he remembered. They had a class or two together back in high school. But that was when he came into the picture. The most beautiful man he’s ever laid eyes on emerged from what Xingqiu could only assume was the back room. Shiny blue hair, so light it was almost white with gorgeous eyes, a similar shade of blue, to match. But a customer of theirs pushing the door open reminded him that he couldn't just stare and gawk from outside.

The man walking out was polite enough to hold the door for him, so he slipped in quietly. He recited the little script he had prepared in his head as he walked up to the counter 'Hello, my name is Xingqiu, I work at the Starbucks down the road. My manager knows Hu Tao, could I please speak with her?'

The words died in this throat, though, as the gorgeous boy waved hello with a polite customer service smile.

"What can I get for you?" the literal angel before him asked. Even his voice was beautiful. Xingqiu could truly believe that this was love at first sight. A fated first meeting. And he worked so close! That meant he couldn't live too far, right? If he had gotten lucky- which he really hoped he had- they'd even go to the same university! Oh, this was perfect. All he had to do was smoothly introduce himself, maybe drop in a subtle little flirt, maybe make sure their fingers brush when he takes the coffee he'll order, and then he'd leave with a wink until he'd come back the next day. Soon enough, he'd become a regular, claiming he liked their coffee better than that 'sweet shit' they serve at his own place of business, despite that being entirely untrue. And they would make flirty small talk over the counter, and find out they have so much in common, and eventually, the stranger would get bold and write his number on the cup instead of Xingqiu's name. And then they would text day and night for weeks to come until they finally decide to go on a real date and it would go off without a hitch, it would end in a chaste kiss- or perhaps more- and not but a week later they would be together officially, declaring their love for one another, declaring how it's sudden but they cannot live without one another any longer, so they would move in and adopt cats together.

Xingqiu couldn't wait for his life with this gorgeous stranger, but first, he had to get through the first step, smoothly introducing himself, and asking to speak with Hu Tao on Yanfei's behalf. Easy-peasy. He was always quite the romantic, he figured he would open his mouth, and nothing but flowery poetry would fall from his lips, easily charming the other. That is not what happened. This did, though.

"What can I get for you?"

"You're ugly."

"...what?"

~~~

"I cannot believe you managed to get yourself a lifetime ban the first time you entered their shop!" Yanfei whisper-yelled, exasperated.

"In my defense, he was very pretty! You would have panicked too!"

"I would not have, I am a lesbian. And even if I was attracted to men, I don't tend to tell the people I'm attracted to that I find them ugly, even if I am panicking."

"This isn't fair," he whined, "how did you even manage to land this Hu Tao girl anyways?"

"Well for starters, I didn't call her ugly the first time we met," Xingqiu rolled his eyes, "If you must know, she found out I'm a criminal justice major and wanted to know the legalities of giving coupons out when one works for a funeral parlor. I gave her my number in case she had any other questions of the like."

"She doesn't even work for a funeral parlor, though?"

"She used to. The café used to be her step-brothers, but now his fiancé is 'independently wealthy,' so he gave the place to her so he could quit. Plus it gave her the excuse she was looking for to drop out, working full time and all."

"Damn."

"As much as I do enjoy telling you about my girlfriend, Xingqiu, you really do need to get back to work. Xinyan can't do everything."

He groaned, but obeyed and went back out to the front to assist their new hire. She claimed she wouldn't be there for long, that she was the next big rockstar to look out for, but she needed a job while she waited to blow up. Oh, how he missed the naivete it took to be that blindly optimistic. Apparently, she had gotten fired from the Walmart downtown because she kept stealing, but Yanfei let the employees have free drinks and pastries anyways, so nobody was really too worried about her. She had a decent work ethic though and was practically made for customer service. Big smile, sociable, knew when or when not to call people on their shit. Xingqiu could see himself getting along with her, at least well enough to be civil colleagues.

The rest of his workday passed relatively quickly, mostly because he was able to put himself on autopilot to get through it. He had to admit, he did feel a little bad about what had happened earlier. Okay, he felt a lot bad about what had happened earlier. He was just so pretty. It was an honest mistake anyways. He panicked under the pressure of looking into the eyes of the most stunning man on the planet. It was no fault of his that he had been entranced. In fact, it was that guy's fault for being so damn pretty. If he didn't want Xingqiu to panic, he should have chosen to be less attractive and have a less soothing voice. Xingqiu had nothing to do with the situation, or so he had decided.

Having decided that the absolute fucking angel was at fault, Xingqiu felt less bad about the whole thing, and thus decided he would partake in some self-care before heading home to the cramped apartment he could just barely afford- self-care being in the form of a trip to the library. It had long since become a place of solace for him, a place to slip away from work and his studies and relax. He was the type of person who didn't understand how someone couldn't love reading, often coming into the library and sitting in a back corner for an entire day, starting and finishing a book in the same sitting. He was well acquainted with the staff, as well as some of the other regulars, but they rarely talked.

But today he could not calmly indulge in his place of comfort because he was here. That gorgeous fucking idiot that had been causing him so much strife all day. He was sitting at a table alone, reading a book that seemed to be about exorcisms. Xingqiu so desperately wanted to just ignore him, as he hated to admit it, but he was still rather ashamed of that afternoon, even if it decidedly wasn't his fault. He wanted to go find a table alone to read so he could focus instead of having to try to focus in his own home, it was tiny and cramped and disorganized there. He'd rather read in an academic environment. But there were very few available seats left open, that evening, and most of them were filled by students doing schoolwork, whom he did not wish to disturb.

And that was how he found himself standing across the tiny library table, once again panicking because he was once again expected to talk to the prettiest person he'd ever seen, plus the added pressure of having had offended him mere hours ago. Fuck, okay, he could do this.

"Mind if I sit?" he asked, already pulling out a chair for himself.

"Yes, actually," he deadpanned.

"Alright, rude."

"Says you."

Okay, that was a really good point, but he couldn't just say that he panicked because he was just too damn gorgeous, he didn't have a death wish.

"Okay, well this is the only table with open seats that aren't doing school work right now. So feel free to ignore me, but I'll be sitting here."

"Then I won't be," he said standing up.

"Can I at least get your name so I can complain to my friends about how rude you are?"

"Again, says you," a beat, " it's Chongyun. I'll be going now." He slung his bag over his shoulder and walked out with his bag. Even his name was pretty, damn him.

He could not focus on his book.

He couldn't focus on anything, really. And so he was given no choice but to just go home. Home sweet studio apartment. He lived alone, luckily for him, but it meant he had to shoulder rent alone. His parents were going to pay for his rent and schooling, and then he chose to major in creative writing and suddenly all of that was taken away. He had not realized his family thought it would be a given that he major in business. Thank fuck for scholarships, he supposed. He tossed his book down on the ever cluttered coffee table, coated mostly in old plates and miscellaneous paperwork from school or just random shit that came in the mail he assumed he had to pay for and thus did. Honestly, he really didn't understand this whole 'being an adult thing.' He managed, he thinks, but his parents did a lot for him, like setting up the lease for him and then abandoning him to pay for it all himself. And part of the issue with that is they never explained bills or taxes or anything of the sort to him, since his entire family was working under the assumption that, at least at first, they'd pay his bills and he could just hire someone to file his taxes for him. And now he kinda just had to figure it out. Thank fuck for Yanfei. Yanfei was a godsend. The reason he had not been evicted, had his water shut off, had his electricity cut, and also the person who controlled his paycheck, for the most part. Thank fuck for Yanfei.

He knew he had a project to work on, but given his inability to focus on something he did want to do, he highly doubted his ability to do something that he didn't want to do. He was a good- enough- student, so surely he could get by taking a day off. Xingqiu did need to pass the time somehow, though. And lucky for him, he had good friends who would let him whine about Chongyun- he still wasn't over the fact that he knew his name, even if his means of obtaining it weren't as romantic as he'd hoped. Bennett was always the fastest to reply when texted, and thus

Xingqiu
Bennett, it's time for involuntary boy-talk

Bennett
what

Xingqiu
I have come face to face with the most gorgeous man on the planet

Bennett
good for you, ig?

Xingqiu
No! Not good for me >:( I accidentally called him ugly :(

Bennett
how do you do that by accident /g

Xingqiu
I panicked :(

Bennett
have you apologized?

Xingqiu
No, it was his fault.

Bennett
...it was his fault that you panicked and called him ugly?

Xingqiu
Yes, it was. He should have chosen to be less pretty so I could form a coherent sentence :(

Bennett
i hate to side with someone ive never met, but i think this one is on you bud

Xingqiu
You're mean, Benny :(

Bennett
i know :( i gtg tho, razor is here :D

Xingqiu
Fine, rub it in how single I am :(

He put his phone down, dejected. Even his dearest friend refused to side with him. The world was cruel and aimed to do nothing but pull sick jokes on him. How unfair. His life was nothing but tragic. What a cruel prank, to pamper him so dearly when he was young and then sweep the rug of joy out from under him the moment he found a potential suitor. How cruel life was to him.

He knew he was being dramatic, but he didn't care much. Theatrics was the name of the game for a young novelist. If he couldn't dramatize his own life enough to make it entertaining for himself, how was he meant to write to entertain? Nobody wants to read about a romance failing before it started, they wanted to read about the dramatized highs and lows of falling in and out of love within a matter of hours. That was what would entertain the masses, he was sure.

Although, perhaps, he had little right to be an authority on the matter of what counted as "good" literature. He had published a novel or two, sure. But frankly, he could not, necessarily, be considered a successful author, per se. His work hadn't taken off anywhere but a small part of Japan, in which it was moderately popular. But he had far from written 'the next Twilight.' Nobody outside of Japan had ever heard of his work- and the friends who he had forced to read it had unanimously decided that it wasn't very good. And he didn't necessarily expect that the books he wrote when he was fifteen would be good, but he had at least hoped his friends would lie to him and pretend to like them.

But, alas, his friends were honest, not kind, and thus they admitted that they would sooner read the Fifty Shades of Grey saga than endure another page of whatever word vomit somehow ended up getting published by Yae Publishing House. But at least some people liked it, enough that he could get maybe five hundred dollars a month in royalties. It wasn't much, but for a passion project he churned out in his sophomore year of high school, he would take it.

He really should get back to writing for pleasure, he thought. He had improved a lot in terms of skill and had also broadened his horizons in terms of what he considered worth reading. Back then, he would almost exclusively read heterosexual romance, often fantasy or extremely exaggerated. But nothing that challenged societal norms, no erotica, nothing with an ambiguous ending. It was all essentially fantasy fulfillment, very rarely with men being the target audience. But he didn't mind so much. It kept him entertained. Until he eventually started to realize that if you had read one of these books, you had read them all. And while it was fine at first, he could only handle so many plots blending together in his mind until every book he read got filed away in his memory under the same basic stereotype of the genre.

Eventually, he had to broaden his horizons. He started, first, by stepping away from romance, somehow jumping to young adult dystopia. But that phase was short-lived because he quickly realized that very few books actually had anything to say. The point of YA dystopia is to point out flaws in society, but with the rise of a certain few book series, it quickly devolved into nothing but a bunch of 'wouldn't it be fucked up if XYZ Unrealistic Scenario That is Entirely Baseless in Modern Society?' And that revelation pushed him into the thriller genre. His time spent reading that genre can be almost entirely blamed for his concerning amount of knowledge of how to get away with various crimes. Lucky for society, he did not want to commit unthinkable crimes, he would rather release that energy the way any mentally well young adult did.

Way more sex than he reasonably had the stamina for. He didn't actually have any experience in the area, but he had read enough erotica as of late he was pretty sure he would know what he was doing. If anyone would give him the chance to prove that, which nobody ever had. Alas, there was some strange pipeline that lead directly from scaring himself shitless several times a day with the paranormal, or hauntingly normal, to being inexplicably and near-constantly horny. It was almost enough to make him feel like less of a massive virgin. He very quickly found himself growing tired of anything decent, though, finding it much like the romance genre. Once you've read one, you've read them all.

And that had lead to the next phase. Laughably bad erotica. Anything where he would read the summary, question why he does this to himself, and then immediately make himself sit through bizarre metaphors for genitalia, as well as more monster-fucking than any high school student ever should. Eventually, though, even that came to pass. Now he just read whatever he felt like. Just whatever sounded interesting at the time. And now he just had a lot of unnecessary knowledge about a bunch of random subjects. And was also a hopeless romantic.

Being a romantic, as he liked to think of it, was in his blood- honestly, that probably wasn't true, his parent's marriage was arranged and his brother seemed entirely indifferent to romance; that was irrelevant- but the novels most certainly did nothing to help. And that unfortunate fact, was why he was so incredibly distraught about someone he had met that day. He had already pictured their life and future together and was now being deprived of that. What a harsh world that he lived in.

Sigh, well, that was enough overthinking and lamenting for him, which meant that it was time for bed. And in his shitty little studio apartment, as he liked to emphasize at every given chance- he was never one to deny pity points- bedtime meant taking advantage of his lumpy and uncomfortable pullout couch and awkwardly throwing his bedding he keeps folded on the couch part onto the technically-a-mattress.

Lucky for him, he's had a big day, so sleep comes easy. As easy as it can come when you can feel the cheap metal supports of your bed through the mattress. God, he hated this couch.