Being twelve had its advantages for Yixing, he had become so used to being in the Wu household that he had been granted a front door key, when Luhan had been entrusted with his own, and there was even a wardrobe with his clothes inside. He hadn't moved in with the family, he had just begun to spend almost every free hour he had there instead of being at home alone. His parents had both been recruited for different jobs which were too busy for them to devote the time they felt Yixing deserved, it had meant that home just wasn't home anymore. Yixing hadn't been upset over that matter, he knew that his mother and father were working hard to give him the life they wanted to; it was never a sore subject between the three of the Zhang family. Yixing wasn't rejected of abandoned, as he had first thought when he was a little younger. He was the driving force for his parents and he enjoyed being the one to encourage then when they felt disheartened for leaving him. Their Sunday family dinners were where they all reconvened and found themselves acting like they used to when Yixing was younger.
The minor issue that came with being twelve was that Yixing didn't have his own bedroom in the house he spent his weeks in, Luhan and Yifan taking the two rooms on the top floor of the house and their parents taking the master bedroom on the middle floor. It had meant room switching for many months at a time; Yixing and Luhan's squabbles landing him in with Yifan and then back again when Yifan claimed that he needed some alone time at night. Yixing didn't mind the shift from one room to another, as he found himself enjoying the company of both boys equally.
The major complication that came with being twelve was his emotional awareness. He had found that the shift from meeting Luhan and Yifan six years prior was that he was conscious of the fact that the way he felt for both boys was completely different. Luhan's excitable and impish attitude as what kept Yixing's life starting anew with fresh plans of humorous terror. Yifan, on the other hand, was everything else. He was the presence that had Yixing's face flushing with intense red and eyes casting down shyly at every kind action; his heart hammered in his chest whenever Yifan threw him a childishly gummy smile. The realisation of this crush had ruined Yixing's feelings for life over a month long period.
He couldn't bear to look Yifan in the eye or speak to Luhan about what was bothering him; he was supposed to have a brotherly kind of love for the eldest boy and the fact that he didn't scared him to his wit's end. There was no way he could discredit the feelings he felt when they became familiar and regular, he had found his first crush in the boy who had labelled him strictly as a younger brother.
However, it was difficult to shirk the tremor and nerves that came with being alone with Yifan, the older boy's had grown more intense with age and was everything Yixing could imagine people would fawn over. Yifan had been granted the sharp jut of cheekbones, a boldly cutting jawline and the height of a male god, much to Yixing's heart's detriment.
The main dilemma Yixing had was when Yifan had developed an overwhelmingly strong yet alluring scent of black pepper and ginseng. It was so ridiculously intoxicating for the preteen that he felt dizzy enough to giggle endlessly at the barely funny jokes Yifan loved to tell him in the dead of night. He would feel the scent linger on his clothes whenever Yifan merely brushed past him and it pushed him further into the depths of insanity. It made everything an obstacle to tackle when Yifan was watching.
Yixing's attempt at 'avoid Yifan until the feelings go' had fallen flat after he managed to pick the tiniest of fights with Luhan over why Yixing had been acting so out of character in recent times. The younger appeared stressed whilst having nothing to worry about (in Luhan's blinded eyes). It had resulted in his best friend commanding him to leave him alone and go in to stay with Yifan for that night, Yixing had been scared to enter the oldest boy's room because he knew that's where his scent settled in its most powerful form.
Yixing had crept down the stairs with a blanket, avoiding the creaking step on the second flight, to find the large corner sofa waiting invitingly for him. He crawled on top of the plush suede and wrapped himself up in the thick blanket; he already knew he would be warm enough with just the imitation fur throw with the Wu household temperature never dipping or increasing from a firm 23 degrees. The pillows, all stitched with patterns were always plumped and fluffed up to optimum sleeping size were heaven. Yixing had found his safe haven from the equally but differently aggravating brothers.
He had wanted to spend the night there, laying in his warm cocoon of blanket as the moon faded and the sun rose. His hopes and dreams of such luckiness were dashed by a shift in his position on the sofa, he hadn't heard the sigh of relief or firm arms wrap around him until he was extracted from the seat cushions. The faux animal skin blanket fell to the floor in a snowflake light flutter as Yixing's carrier took him from the living room and over to the stairway, he blinked slowly as he roused to a more awake state but didn't even need to be fully conscious to know who was cradling him. Black pepper and ginseng was hard to miss, the earthly sweet but slightly bitter scent was flooding up into Yixing's mind and telling him that Yifan's unique smell was what was rubbing itself all over him.
"Why did you kick him out?" the deep voice below Yixing's ear rumbled.
"I tried to find out what's wrong with him and he got defensive," Luhan's younger, sweeter voice rang.
"I told you that I would talk to him," Yifan sighed loudly after speaking, a short pause settling between them for a little while. "You know he doesn't like burdening people with his problems. Maybe he misses his parents, they did call off their Sunday dinner yesterday."
Luhan grumbled about Yixing having been different for more days than he could count, far longer than the three day period where he had been ever so slightly let down by his parents' cancellation. Yifan seemed to silence the smaller boy without speaking, taking Yixing down the hall to his own bedroom rather than taking him to Luhan's. There was something about the idea of Yifan wanting to be the one to comfort him that made his stomach melt into something too gooey to contain the butterflies he'd anticipated; he let his head settle on Yifan's chest until the rhythmic thumping was all he could hear in his ear.
There were the soft thudding steps as Yifan's feet met the soft carpet of his bedroom, his long legs striding easily across to his bed where he laid the younger down in his regular spot by the side of the wall. Yifan's single bed creaked as he slipped in beside the shorter boy, he had long since stopped cuddling Yixing when they slept in the same bedroom - after Yixing had started to sleep on a worn mattress that was slid under Yifan's bed. It was strange for the sixteen year old to be so close but Yixing's scent clouded mind didn't have it in him to move away from the warmth he craved so much.
"Xingxing-ah," Yifan whispered, the younger fearful that Yifan knew he was awake but the elder continued to stroke his hair back. "Why won't you tell your gege why you're so distant? Do you want me to worry about you this much? My heart was going to stop when Luhan came in to look for you and you weren't here; you don't talk to me about anything anymore and I don't know how to look after you if you don't talk. What kind of brother am I if I can't even protect you?"
Yixing had felt the molten churning in his tummy halt, Yifan's words of brotherly love cutting him short in his affections and making his chest freeze over. He wanted to curl in the opposite direction from where Yifan was touching him, the elder's arms coiled around him as if to shield against anything that could hurt him and Yixing had felt distantly aware of the irony. Yifan was wanting to defend Yixing but his unrequited crush on his protector was the thing that pained him the most.
Yixing's piano lessons had quickly become a major part of his life, his teacher and this student helper were two people that Yixing looked up to with such intent that he never really wanted to do much else as a hobby. He still enjoyed when Yifan taught him basketball tricks and when Luhan would pull him along to watch him play soccer on Saturday mornings. Ever yet, Yixing's main love was running his fingers over ivory and coal black keys. There was something in creating something by yourself or watching somebody else piece their music together with such care, he connected with that more than dribbling or kicking a ball. It had given Yixing a strong sense of rhythm and purpose, his hands could move easily about the eighty-eight keys that stretched out in front of him.
It helped Yixing immerse himself in thinking about everything but the inner turmoil he had with his crush on Yifan. There was a still atmosphere when notes and chords resonated in the air, bouncing from surface to surface until it reflected everything Yixing couldn't say. His teacher often said that while his music had incredible emotional depth, it showed nothing but an echoing sadness - everything nobody would have expected from such a young preteen. He was often told to write something happier, to develop his understanding of contributing other senses of expression in his compositions or in the way he played the sheet music his teacher handed him. The twelve year old often tried to shift his insecurities out of his music, it just hadn't quite arisen to anything yet.
"Yixing," a soft female voice called, making him turn away from the face of his piano and look up at her with widened eyes, "you're staying here late today, my lesson just finished."
"Zhang Ziyi-jie," Yixing greeted, scrambling to stand and bow to her as quickly as he possibly should. "I am waiting for my gege to finish his practice, then we will be going home together."
"Wu Yifan-ge, is your gege, right?" She questioned making Yixing nod his head slowly. "He's in my class."
Yixing knew that the student helped in his pianist lessons was in Yifan's class, his ge had told him that after he'd shown him his piano lesson roster at the beginning of the year. He had said how she was one of the best music students at their school and that she would be a fountain of knowledge for Yixing to feed from, it made Yixing happy to see that he had been paired with such a great elder. He hoped it was a reflection on his capabilities, that his teacher had seen him improve so much that one of the advanced students should have been paired with him, it made the young boy nervous to meet her at first. However, he had been pleasantly surprised to find her to be a softly spoken girl with the most caring of attitudes. She had aided him in excelling in composing, rather than just reciting some of the more complex pieces Yixing had been given.
"I know, Fan-ge told me," Yixing smiled softly, making Ziyi look at him with a tender smile.
"Is he really your brother? I don't mean to pry but you don't have the same last name," Yixing looked at the girl and considered his response for a while, numerous answers wrapping around his tongue and he tried to pry out the most suitable one.
"He is but we are not blood-related," Yixing smiled, his cheeks clouding with blood as he tried to repel the flutter in his heart when Yifan was mentioned. "We have been brothers for six years, his actual brother is my best friend."
"Ah, so you're brothers by choice," Ziyi nodded her head in understanding. Yixing laughed a little, pondering whether or not he could ask her for advice in his crush situation but there was a chance of her picking fault in it. "You're so cute when you blush."
Her lilting giggle made Yixing's lips open in shock, his mind trying to register the words and she pinched his cheek softly.
"I can see why your geges would pick you," she was smiling widely enough that her eyes creased and Yixing couldn't help but return it, his face reddening ever more at her words. "You would be such a cute didi."
She reverted their conversation back to the piano swiftly after that point, showing him new chord progressions she had learned in her lessons recently, the young boy tried to keep up and appreciated it when she slowed her movements to demonstrate everything clearly to him. They played together with bouts of joyous teasing in between, the older girl making Yixing blush with every compliment she gave his technique or composing abilities; even though they were far less than her own. She had found it endearing how Yixing would always ensure to call her Jiejie when referring to anything she did. It was an easy friendship, one Yixing hadn't had with a girl before and he had found it utterly endearing whenever she said she'd wished for a younger brother like him.
Their session was only interrupted by a clear knock on the door frame and Yixing looked around to see Yifan waiting in his basketball kit, "Fan-ge, is it time to go home?"
"Yes, Xing-ah," Yifan hummed, making the younger male stand up from the stool to collect his bags.
"Yifan-ge," Ziyi waved slightly at the tall male but Yifan seemed to just graze his eyes over her.
"Hurry up, Xing, Han and Dad are waiting in the car," Yifan urged the small boy on, making his hands fumble over one another until he began dropping more things than putting them into his bag.
Ziyi moved forward to help him, picking up the fallen items and placing them into his backpack with him, their hands knocking as they moved as swiftly as they could. Yixing found himself giggling and blushing along with her. It made Yixing want to retreat shyly from her, his ability to make a fool of himself in front of those he looked up to was completely embarrassing.
"Yixing," Yifan called, causing the boy to scramble up and bow at the girl admiringly.
Yifan clutched at Yixing's hand as he yanked him down the hallway. The corridor was empty, the lights at one end having been turned out and only the ones guiding the way to the exit shined brightly off the linoleum. Yixing could feel Yifan's long fingers digging into his wrist, making the skin ache and feel the burning sensation of the flesh twisting slightly.
"Ge, you're hurting my wrist," he bit out, his shyness disappearing into a sea of annoyance at the elder boy. "Let me go, I know the way."
"You're not moving fast enough," the taller boy growled.
"It is not my fault that you've got longer legs than me, one of your steps is like three of mine," his huffing tone only relaxed when Yifan released his vice hold on his arm. "Dad knows how far my practice room is from the entrance, he knows we won't immediately get to the car."
"Dad needs to go home early to get out for that dinner he told us about," Yifan looked back to Yixing, who had begun to jog slightly to keep up with the older boy. "If you remember?"
"Of course I do," Yixing squabbled back, the guilt from having forgotten settling in deeply into his stomach. "I was just practising with Jiejie for a little longer."
Yifan didn't say anymore, stalking the rest of the way out of the school, down to where the car was waiting in a space in front of the main office. There was the gentle sound of footsteps beating behind Yixing's head, causing him to look around and see Ziyi dashing towards him in her uniform and her bag lazily slung over her shoulder.
"Yixing-ah," she called, making him stop in his place to pay her attention, "you dropped this." She was holding the sheet music he had been working on, his own ugly penmanship sided with her more refined character writing. "This looks like it will sound great, don't lose it."
He smiled at her, bowing deeply as he accepted the paper from her delicate looking hands, they exchanged a smile before Yixing heard Yifan shout his name one more time over. The young boy waved another goodbye at his senior and she encouraged him to make his way to the car; where a sweaty Luhan was waiting for him in the back seat.
Yixing was humming numbly when Luhan pulled a set of bowls out a floor level cupboard, he lined them all out and Yixing began to pour different snacks into them, "Are you sure you've got the drinks?"
"Yes, Han," Yixing whistled, carefully trying to make the contents of every dish evenly full. "They're chilling in the fridge."
"Good," Luhan looked behind Yixing's head at the black clock hung over the sink. "They will be here in around half an hour, I think."
"You did say half five, so I would think so," the younger checked the time too, seeing the larger hand crawling around to the twelve indented into the clock face. "Should we pull the duvets out now to make a fort now? Or later?"
"We should do it now," the older of the two responded with a smile. Yixing placed the mix of sweets and chocolate down on the counter before running up to the third floor where the airing cupboard was beside Yifan's bedroom door.
He pulled on the linen covered blankets to draw them out until they pooled around his feet. There were too many to carry but Yixing had already thought of a great plan, he stood at the top of the stairs and threw each comforter down them with as much force as he could. It looked like a feathery heaven awaiting him but he followed them down, repeating the action when he came to the second set of stairs. He could hear Luhan giggling at his actions but Yixing didn't mind so much. "Need a hand, Xing-ah?" A deep voice asked behind him, the spoken words coming from the direction of the study on the second floor.
"No, I'm okay," Yixing smiled at Yifan's helpful query. "Thank you, ge."
"Be careful, though," the elder warned, Yixing's eyes barely moving away from his blanket mound awaiting him.
Yixing carried the last couple down by hand, making course for the living room and placing them all in a folded pile beside the sofa in waiting for when their guests arrived. It was a Friday night, Luhan's soccer friends coming over for a small sleepover to signify the start of their playing season. Yixing had offered to go back to his parents' house to give his friend room to bond with his favourite teammates but Luhan had insisted that Yixing join them, to maybe help widen the younger's social circle but Yixing wasn't fussed about his close-knit group of two close friends in the Wu brothers.
That didn't mean that Yixing wasn't nervous as the doorbell buzzed for the first of two times in the evening, Luhan's voice raising happily to greet his friend and guide him into where Yixing was waiting for them.
"This is my brother, Yixing," Luhan introduced. "He's the one that comes to watch us sometimes."
"I remember you," the boy smiled widely, "I am Kim Minseok."
"Nice to meet you," Yixing bowed politely, making the new arrival look at Luhan questioningly, the bowing twelve-year old's politeness taking him aback somewhat.
They didn't have to wait long until there was somebody new at the door, the two next guests turning up at the same time. It made Yixing's nervousness dissipate as he recognised one of the boys as somebody who went to the same music department as him.
"These two are Jongin and Jongdae," Luhan beamed, Yixing bowing once more before the four soccer buddies descended into a long chat about their upcoming game. It gave Yixing the chance to slip away, shuffling up the stairs on his hands and feet until he reached the top; he lifted his hand to knock at the study door and Yifan called out his permission to enter. The younger walked in and stood behind where Yifan was working on the black-keyed laptop, the word document covered in characters showing itself on the screen.
"Luhan's friends are here."
"Ah, I see," Yifan shifted over in the seat until there was enough room on the seat for him to sit half on the cushion and half on the older boy's lap. "I'll be leaving soon then."
"Do you have to go?" Yixing whined, his voice creating the need for Yifan ruffle his hair.
"Nobody wants their big brother getting in the way of their night long giggle fest," Yifan laughed. "Plus, I'm going to a party. So it would be best if I am not here to embarrass Han."
"Can I come too?" The boy whined.
"Nope, big boys only, Xing-ah," Yifan patted his head, making a gentle blush fluff up onto the apples of his cheeks. "I would take you if I could, but my room is free for you to stay in if things become too much for you. I know you've not exactly been happy for the past few weeks or so. Don't feel pressured to stick around if you just want to be alone."
They fell into silence, Yixing's heart hammering as he moved closer to Yifan to become more comfortable on his widened chest. He watched Yifan type out his homework intently, some of the characters were unknown or in combinations Yixing had never seen before, but with the way Yifan was muttering the sentences aloud, Yixing was slowly grasping the subject of his written work. He could feel that sleepiness he always got when Yifan worked crept up on him, making his eyes feel heavier as the seconds passed into minutes. The elder's concerned words echoed in his mind, placing that ever familiar sense of false hope into his stomach.
He probably would have slept had Luhan not coming bounding into the room and begun to demand that Yixing go downstairs with his friends because Yixing was the fifth in their 'fabulous quintet'.
Yixing left Yifan with a gentle goodbye, his crush weakened heart could barely handle the softness in Yifan's eyes as he drew away.
Luhan's friends, as it turned out, were like extensions of his best friend. They all shared traits Yixing adored in the youngest Wu brother; Jongdae embodying the comedic nature that Luhan did, Minseok having tastes in almost everything and then Jongin just seemed to be the happy-go-lucky type. They all accepted Yixing easily, treating him in almost the same way as they did Luhan and nobody seemed to question his presence in the room. It was a couple more hours before Yifan popped his head into the room to tell them that he was leaving, his friend's mother picking him up to head to his party and Yixing still found his chest aching to go with the older boy.
The younger boys, with Luhan's mother in the kitchen, began to play games Yixing never had done so before. Their questions of truth or dare made his palms sweat nervously, the other boys seemed to have been sticking to the rules of being honest and carrying out the mildly embarrassing tasks. Yixing had not liked the clause implemented by Jongdae that you could not choose truth more than three times in a row, neither could you do the same with dare. Yixing had much preferred doing the simple dares; things like eating a spoonful of coffee granules, yelling mildly offensive things out of the window (which had ended in slight chastisement from Luhan's mother) and replacing the sugar with table salt in the small pot that sat beside the kettle. Yixing could feel Luhan eyeing him each time he said dare and the both of them knew that Yixing would have always chosen truth, if he had not had something to hide.
That knowledge was what Yixing had dreaded from his best friend, his biggest secret always resting on the tip of his tongue to spill at any time the subject was pushed. It made Yixing's clammy hands grow wetter as it fell to be his turn once more.
Luhan, being Luhan, volunteered to be Yixing's questioner because he knew what to ask and when.
"Yixing, do you have a crush?" The three newcomers looked at him with glee, their eyes shining at the thought of getting something really juicy out of one of their players. Especially Jongdae, the one who Yixing had seen around the music department.
"Uh," he stalled, debating the lie of saying no in his head but then he resigned himself to staying true to the game. "Yes, I do."
The four boys mumbled between themselves as Yixing's face covered itself with red splodges of anxiety. "Who is it?"
"They're older," he sighed, "I wouldn't have a chance."
Yixing did not want to answer that question, however, he still didn't want to deceive his closest friend and the new people who had come into his life. Jongdae, in contrast, seemed to have a bold light bulb moment. "It's Zhang Ziyi-jiejie, isn't it?!"
Yixing stared dumbly at the kitten mouthed boy, watching as he whittled off a list of times Yixing had been caught blushing, giggling or staring at the older girl. This seemed to plant a seed in Luhan's head, who reminded Yixing of the time he had come out of the school late because he was too busy talking to Ziyi. Yixing had wanted to argue that his crush was not Zhang Ziyi. Yet, the allure of having his crush covered for seemed to overtake his need of honesty, he nodded when the question was pressed again and all the boys were calling out about how Yixing had good taste in girls.
The conversation flipped over to talking about the female student body of their schools, which made Yixing feel a little uncomfortable because he hadn't once found any girl appealing in that manner. He could hear the blood rushing in his ears as he realised that the one he had a crush on was male. Not a girl or woman, a boy. It made his nerves stand on end as Luhan dug for Yixing's approval on his viewpoint of some of the prettier girls in their class, his best friend was like a spitfire with a loaded gun while talking about girls. In a stark contrast, Yixing was lost.
He began to doubt the validity of his feelings for Yifan because none of the four other boys said anything about being attracted to people of the same gender. It was a massive struggle for Yixing not to talk about it and dodge questions about how many girls he had kissed or if he had made a move on Ziyi yet. It made him uncomfortable and insecure.
There were few times in Yixing's life where he wished he was different, the last major time had been his first weeks of school and that sense of loneliness fell over onto him again. He shouldn't like other boys, was what the chatting had implied and Yixing found himself escaping up to Yifan's room before the film they had begun to watch finished.
He crept under the thick duvet, letting the strong scent that thickly coated Yifan's pillow soothe him into trying to fight the tears that bubbled up in his eyes. Try as he might, he could not do a thing to stop the watery onslaught, the tirade of sobs choking out of his mouth and filling the room with the strong sounds of brokenness. If he had been sure that his crush on somebody, who was supposed to be like his brother, was wrong then he was suddenly certain of the fact.
Yixing's first time getting an erection he couldn't shake came when he was thirteen. He found himself growing scared as he slept beside Yifan in the single bed, his heart thundered while he knew there was no way to escape the snippet of hell he was caught in. He had never had an issue with willing moments of hardness away, his lack of knowledge in touching himself became evident as he looked at the erection beneath his pyjama trousers. It quickly became like a painful ache between his legs. He knew could not get past Yifan without waking the other boy but he just didn't know how exactly to make it go away. He steeled himself as he raised a hand to shake Yifan's shoulder at that ridiculously early time of the morning.
The elder took a while to rouse, his deep gravelly voice asking Yixing what was wrong grated a sense of pleasure through Yixing's body in an embarrassing way. He did not know of any words to explain his situation to the seventeen-year-old without wanting to burst into tears. He could feel his eyes watering as he opened his mouth up, Yifan's concern growing tenfold as he sat up to look down at the younger boy. The light coming in through the curtains seemed to show his sweaty forehead and Yifan's hand settled right on his brow, his fingers brushed through the damp tendrils of his hair before he spoke.
"What's wrong, Yixing?" Yifan worried, his free hand beginning to fan the inexplicably hot boy.
Yixing felt overwhelmed, almost as if he was choking on Yifan's scent and presence, the next sentence made him flash in nervousness but he knew it had to be said, "It's so hard."
The elder looked perplexed, "What's hard?"
Yifan's eyes skirted down Yixing's body, his eyes lingering at Yixing's midriff confusingly and suddenly his eyes were wide with shock. The elder darted out of the bed, stumbling into his en-suite and flicking the light on. "Yixing, do it in here."
Said boy fumbled to stand up, Yifan's frantic movements looking through drawers to pull something out to hand over to him making him spectate awkwardly. The younger accepted the slimy bottle readily but looked at it with a confused frown, completely unaware of how he would use the liquid to help himself.
"Yifan," he mumbled nervously, just as the older boy turned away to go back into the bedroom. "I don't know how."
"Just do what you normally do then," Yifan sounded somewhat frightened of what was being implied.
"I haven't ever," Yixing whispered, making Yifan whip his head around to gape at the younger boy. "I don't know how."
Yifan looked as embarrassed by the whole debacle as Yixing felt, the older boy closed the door and left Yixing feeling slightly dejected in the bathroom on his own. That was up until he heard a slightly firmer tone of Yifan's sleepy voice, "I'll talk you through it, okay."
Yixing felt his body dribble with fear, the sheer mortification that Yifan - his crush - was going to be aiding him through the whole panic inducing shenanigan.
"Xing, I need you to sit down on the closed toilet lid," Yifan hummed, making the younger follow his instruction easily. "Take it out - are you doing this, Yixing?"
"Ye-Yes," he stuttered, his face blooming entirely in pink from his boiling blood and not just shyness.
"Okay," there was an awkward pause, enough to make Yixing think that Yifan had backed out of teaching him how to deal with his hard situation. However, the elder began to speak more softly than he had been doing before, "I need you to open that bottle and squeeze a small amount into your hand. More than you would hand sanitizer but less than you would shampoo, all right?"
Yixing did as he was told, trying to get the amount Yifan had been referring to right in his hand and then he made a noise of confirmation to the older boy.
"Now, rub your hands together to coat the palms in the liquid, if they don't run easily over each other then put a little more of the lube on and if there's too much, wipe it away with a small bit of tissue." Yifan began sounding a tad more confident in what he was saying and Yixing had a difficult time not thinking about how many times Yifan could have done this before. "You're right handed, so hold it at the base with your right hand. Be careful not to squeeze too hard or it will hurt but be firm enough to feel it. Okay, Xing?"
Yixing did so, his hand gently clasping around the base of his erection and he could not do anything to stop the whimpered moan from leaving his lips, he was sure he could hear Yifan awkwardly laugh but he ignored that in favour of just repeatedly squeezing at the hilt of his cock and relishing in the sensations it brought. He wondered if his member would be engulfed by Yifan's larger hands if he was to do that to him, making his eyes widen in shock as he tried to rid those thoughts from his head.
"Now keep that grip," Yifan said, Yixing once again obeying, "drag your hand up without letting go," Yixing cried out at the stimulating sensation and there was another awkward silence as he whined out. "Bring it back down."
"Yifan, it feels too good," he worried, as he tried to stifle the noises his chest was attempting to push out. "I can't."
"You can, Xing," he heard the other assure. "Trust me."
Those last two words had Yixing's erection throbbing in his hand, his want for Yifan to touch him increasing tenfold, "I'm scared."
His soft admitting to what he was feeling made the elder's audible sigh drift through the door. "I'm here, okay? Just do as I say and it will feel better."
Yixing continued with his pumping action, his brow furrowing in concentration as he felt the shock waves of pleasure echo through his entire body. Even he knew that what he was doing felt too slow but Yifan had not yet told him to speed up, or stop, which drove in the sense of torture. Not only were the touches barely enough, they were being dictated to him by the person he had been crushing on for almost three years.
"Speed it up a little, Xing," Yifan advised, his voice carrying over the sound of his soft keens. "Squeeze the base a few times when you get to it, that will make it feel better."
Yixing's next moan, caused by both the deep tones of Yifan's words and the sensations between his legs, made his fingers were shaking as he jerked himself. Yixing's free hand was gripping on his own knee, he had his fist clenched so tightly that it began to feel like his nails were digging directly into his sweat-soaked palm.
"If you want it to feel like there is something more, use your left hand to brush over your nipples," Yixing made a choking noise as the suggestion, which ripped a laugh from Yifan. "I know it sounds strange but remember to trust me."
He lifted his hand to where his pink nipples had begun to point out under his shirt, the slight touch making them sensitive to the pressure. Yixing's next groan was something he was sure sounded lewd, it was high pitched and full of arousal induced weakness.
"Pinch them, Xing," Yifan's voice remained level, not one ounce of excitement creeping into it and he found himself being turned on by the normalcy of the other's voice. It was something familiar doing something utterly new, the unknown ricocheting through Yixing's body as his fingers skidded beneath his shirt and tweaked at the small peaks. His hand, the one wrapped around his cock, began to move so fast and forcefully that thudding noises could be heard in the room.
He was certain that Yifan could hear it on the other side but he found his ability to care slip away as he felt something coiling up within him. There were fire and heat everywhere and Yixing was hyper aware to Yifan telling him to keep the pace up and to keep touching his chest. His head nodded as the older man's instructions filtered in as lewd instructions. He was sure that nothing could feel better until Yifan's next step in his recipe for sexual gratification. "Dip your thumb into the slit at the tip."
Yixing had never felt a sensation like it, he pressed his thumb into the place where Yixing could liquid pulsing out of, his thumb being coated int the substance but it wasn't long before it felt like too much. Enough for him to let go of his shaft completely until the throbbing feeling subsided and he started up again, he gave into the temptation to touch the tip again and he did so in a fleeting caress. His hips began to buck upwards, lusting for more contact and he was thinking of Yifan's hands on him again; the need for more flooding into him and rocketing up his body.
There were a few moans between when Yixing felt the pressure within him trying to escape and when he could feel his balls tightening more and more, until the moment a feeling hit him like a freight train from almost every direction. He felt something surge upwards and the shock of his orgasm raced into him, he came hard over himself. The white fluid spurted up onto his shirt, the pulsing feeling in his cock making him feel each lingering flick of his wrist. Everything came in waves, the overwhelming rush to the comedown. He had to pause to catch his breath with his body gushing with overwhelming consciousness as he found himself grounding. His knees, while still weak with numerous sensations, straightened out as he tried to regain something a little more solid in them.
He tried to wipe his shirt with a tissue as best as he could once he had pulled up his underwear and pyjama trousers, his fingers numbly moving on their own accord and he could feel his grip trembling around the soft material. He flushed the tissue down the toilet and washed his hands, hoping to clear his skin from the stickiness and slickness that cover it. He washed his face with one of the cleansers Yifan had lined next to his sink, the foam helping to relax him before he rinsed it away. Only then did he look at himself properly in the mirror.
His cheeks were refreshingly flushed with a cherry blossom shade, his eyes were glazed like orbs of dark opal and his shirt was stained the whole way up with drying whiteness. It was something he hadn't ever seen on himself before and he pondered whether or not that was what it was like to be debauched. His hair was matted to his forehead, his sweat dribbling down his temple but he felt looser, as though something had broken free from the confines it was kept in.
Yixing took more breaths in as he opened the door, Yifan's shoulder coming into view as the elder male stumbled as the lack of the door supporting him. Yifan looked nervous, scared almost, and Yixing tried to stop his face from darkening even more than usual.
"I need a new shirt," Yixing whispered, suddenly aware that Yifan's bedroom door had been open the whole time and the older male shuffled off towards his wardrobe. He seemed to bypass the small bundle of Yixing's clothes that were folded up in the drawers to pull a shirt from a hanger. It looked about three sizes too big for the twelve-year-old, but Yixing didn't really mind. The material had not yet been doused in Yifan's scent and smelt purely of the detergent everybody in the house's clothes were washed in. The powdery freshness lingered as Yixing awkwardly stripped off his soiled t-shirt and replaced it with the jersey he had been handed.
Yifan looked down at him with a concerned frown, his brows creating a 'v' shape on his forehead. "Are you okay?"
"Yes, I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable," Yixing bowed his head, bashfully tilting his head to acknowledge how weird the situation was. Despite it now listing itself as one of Yixing's all time greatest moment - to be talked to, albeit flatly, an orgasm by his long-term crush.
"You were scared," Yifan wiped the side of Yixing's perspiration covered skin, "I was just trying to be a good brother for you. I would help you with anything you needed me to, it's what being a gege means."
"I'm still sorry," he whined, the taller boy pulling him in by placing an arm around his nape.
"Yixing, you can come to me with anything. Absolutely anything and I would be here to guide you through it," Yifan's hold was firm and secure, it sent ripples of hope from his top layer of skin into the catacombs of Yixing's body. "I know we hit a rocky patch as brothers over the past year but Luhan tells me that you've had a crush for a while now. On that girl in my class who helps you play the piano. I want you to know that it's perfectly all right to tell me these things too, Xing. I just want to be there for you."
"I know, Fan-ge," Yixing nodded, clenching his eyes shut at the lie that had seemed to spread around him and somehow worked to make him feel more guilty over his confusion with liking another boy. "I'm being awkward."
The next line out of Yifan's mouth managed to spark Yixing's second ever heartbreak, his eyes watering as they settled in his mind and broke the muscle in his chest.
"I love you, didi, even when you're awkward."
Yifan had been smiling a lot more with Yixing from that day onwards, as if Yixing had given him the secret he'd been waiting for to bring them closer again. There was an hour of time every other night, just before sleeping, that Yifan granted Yixing free reign to his bathroom. He proclaimed that Yixing did not have his own private space in the house to do his own private things, so he would allow the younger boy to go about his urges for a short while before he showered before bed. It was a bizarre set-up, Yixing often found himself thinking.
He wondered if Yifan knew that it was his name he whimpered as he touched himself. He wondered if Yifan knew of all the times just the familiar scent of Yifan's body soap was enough to have him spilling on the tiled wall. He wondered if Yifan knew that it was the memories of Yifan's voice telling him to touch himself that guided him through it. Though, his memory had distorted Yifan's voice to one of an almost carnal need. It was absurd, the boy who thought they shared a secret was the basis of Yixing's biggest one.
It was an uncomfortable thought for a thirteen-year-old to have. He was aware, more so than anybody else, of the age gap between Yifan and himself. While the older boy had begun his late teens and knew more about life than Yixing did; he had even lost his virginity before Yixing had even touched himself for the first time. He knew of his immaturity and the lack of experience. Like everything else that should have hindered his feelings, all it did was magnify them.
Yixing was assaulted by his feelings every time Yifan came close to him at night on the single bed. The elder surrounded him in an abundance of emotion, many of which Yixing couldn't yet place in his heart of head. He was wide awake whenever Yifan would sleepily embrace him, drawing him closer or would curl his body around him like a protective shell.
Things seemed to go back to normal, everything about Luhan became playful to Yixing and Yixing loved spending time with the two boys once again. He had begun to talk to his parents with animation about the two elders over their Sunday dinners. The two parents, too, had been worried about their son. He seemed withdrawn and quiet, once again and that seemed to frighten them. They had worried and fret over the idea that it was their fault for not being around often enough to give Yixing the filial atmosphere he had wanted since he was small.
As he did frequently, Yixing put those concerns to rest with a semi-condescending look and a verbal assurance that he was more than happy with the time he had.
They called him mature and understanding, two things Yixing had always thought that Yifan would want in somebody, and yet, they always followed it up with a bittersweet 'for somebody of your age'.
Yixing enjoyed his Sundays with his parents, they would act exactly how they used to on the nights where they would both be around to eat and Yixing sometimes talked about staying in their apartment more often. He wouldn't mind being alone, nor would he be worried about spending time apart from them. He wanted to be able to call where he had spent the early years of his life home. Yixing felt nothing other than guilt when his mouth slipped and he called the three storey townhouse listed under the Wu family name as home in front of them. It was something he saw bothered his parents. No matter what, Yixing didn't want to tell his parents that he often preferred staying with his best friend and his older brother, that they made him feel all the love he could need and produce the atmosphere that would soothe his loneliness. He was gentle, he was kind and that's all it took for his parents to halt in their constant doubt over his well-being.
In actuality, he had felt better, despite the lingering queries he had on his sexuality. While most of his dialogue was internalised, he wound up speaking in tongues about it at any time. He was worried that he would let it slip and manage to alienate those around him, those who took him in when they really did not have to. Yixing feared for the truth much of the time, he was consistent in his silence whenever his 'crush' on Ziyi was brought up by anybody. Whilst never feeding the rumours that he had feelings for the older girl, he could never bring himself to openly deny it.
There was a sense of safety in hiding behind his senior's name, as long as people suspected it to be her then no questions would be raised about who he really had feelings for. It was a cowardly and easy way to cover the truth but it was what he needed to cast a veil upon himself. He was neither disgusted by himself or the thoughts he had of Yifan that were beyond indecent, he was scared. Like any thirteen-year-old would be in his situation, he was terrified of facing the fact that was different to everybody else.
He had two geges who always proclaimed to be there for him unconditionally and Yixing had always wondered whether that would stretch to something as life changing as telling them that he thought he was gay. He didn't know if they would let him stay in their beds, if they would banish him from their family home or if he would be completely cast aside by the brothers. He had every right to withdraw from the situation, to let himself burrow deeper into a denial he never wanted to have.
Yixing hated keeping things from the others, especially when they divulged their secrets so openly to him. Luhan and Yifan trusted him more than he could have ever of dreamed when they had first met, but now he had become his confidant. They told him what they wouldn't tell each other and Yixing longed for that to be enough for him and the elder brother. However, he was let down by his weak heart and delicate soul. There was no way he could escape from the emotions that raged inside of him like heaven and hell, each second was a new feeling while he was with Yifan and that was the hardest part of all.
Yixing smiled as Ziyi played through something he had composed. Her fingers flowed effortlessly across the keys and filled the room with the melodic sounds of sorrow, yet every note she played was filled with hope. It kindled that feeling in Yixing, his fingers making their way between his gnawing teeth effortlessly. She paused slightly between bars, only for a split second, as she read through the slowly neatening pieces.
She stopped as she moved to turn the page, "Yixing-ah, this is really beautiful."
The younger boy grinned happily as she beckoned him over, pointing out the places where the sequencing was a little out or suggesting chords that could be changed.
"Thank you," he whispered, using the eraser on the end of his pencil to cut out the parts suggested.
"Seriously, Yixing," she placed a hand on his head. "Somebody of your age shouldn't be composing to this level."
Yixing hated that phrase usually, but from the mouth of somebody who was his senior in a field that he loved, it was a compliment. He didn't want his musical prowess to reflect his age, it was in music that Yixing was mature and understanding.
"I am working really hard," he admitted. "I've been trying to make it perfect for a few months now, the soccer season has picked up for Han and Fan-ge has been studying hard for exams."
"Have you been lonely?" She mumbled as her fingers drifted over some of the softer notes, covering the question from the students strolling past the music room door.
"A little," he admitted, finally letting the gravity of his recurring turmoil bury him.
"Do you write sad things when you're lonely?" Her words were whispers layered in concern for the student she helped.
"I think so," he guessed.
She wrapped an arm around his shoulder, the feminine sense of belonging that his mother gave him and she placed his hand on the keys. "It's okay to play when you get sad, Yixing-ah. It helps you get it all out."
They were quiet as Yixing gained the comfort he hadn't been getting from either Yifan or Luhan in the previous week, only their fingers mimicking the movements of the other's as they played randomly.
It was peaceful between them both, almost remind Yixing of when he would visit his grandmother when he was much younger and she would teach him the scales to play. Yixing didn't cry, he found it useless to try to numb out the pain with tears but to play it out in music.
"Jiejie," he hummed, his voice mirroring the note they both tapped, "I think there's something defective with me, I have a crush on somebody I shouldn't and I think it's so very wrong. Everybody else seems to think it's wrong, at least."
"There is never anything wrong about feeling what you feel for the people in your life, as long as it isn't anything hateful towards them." Her response took a while but Yixing found that the simple sentence by his musical elder protected him from his loneliness more than anything else he had been told in the eighteen months since his sexuality came under self-inflicted scrutiny.
"Yixing-ah, do you mind if I put this music forward for the recital?" Yixing looked at his senior in awe, his face flushing nervously as he agreed immediately. "I'll ask the teacher and I will set up some practice times, okay?"
He opened his mouth to respond but there was a thunderingly loud bang on the door. It made Yixing spring upright, his eyes casting to where Yifan's form was leaning against the wall, his eyes darting between Yixing and his senior with a level of perusal that had his whole body turning numb. Once his gege had finished trying to decipher something in his mind, he looked solely at Yixing with a deadpan face. "We are going home now, Yixing."
The younger looked over at the clock, the time reading closely to the end of his lunch break and he frowned at the idea of missing his last two lessons.
"It isn't time to go home yet, Fan-ge," Yixing was hesitant in speaking after having noted the icy tone Yifan had used to gain his attention.
"Dad called in, your Ma said you've got a hospital appointment today and you need to go now," Yifan had his bag, the tension on his shoulder showing how heavily full it was. "Hurry up, everybody is waiting for you at the front."
"Oh," Yixing picked his bag up, not bothering to get his sheet book back from Ziyi. "You keep that, Jiejie, you play it more beautifully than I can."
She smiled and reached up to poke at the younger boy's dimple gently as he returned the expression, not stopping his beaming as he followed Yifan through the hallways of the school. He ignored the muttered comment Yifan made about how he could see why Yixing liked her when she flirted so openly with the thirteen-year-old, seeming to skip over the fact that Ziyi was a seventeen-year-old with a boyfriend she appeared to adore.
Yixing ignored Yifan until they got to the car, the rest of the Wu family waiting there to take him to his appointment and Yixing was thankful that he wouldn't have to sit next to Yifan and his weighted stares for the thirty-minute journey. Luhan, as per usual, was his excitable self, telling Yixing of how Jongdae saw him in the corridor again or that Minseok invited the younger to go to a coffee shop in the city centre together.
Yixing feigned a level of interest, interjecting where he could be bothered to but otherwise he watched the world cruise by as they drove through the empty streets. Trees were covering themselves with leaves and Yixing loved watching the greens appear, it reminded him of when Yifan and Luhan would take him to the park once the winter had blown over.
Their return home from the hospital was equally quiet on Yixing's part, they each got out of the car and the two adults made their way up to the study to work.
Yixing followed the two older boys into the living room where they all sat, there was something thick between them and Yixing could feel it pressing on him. Yet, he waited and waited until one of the others broke the tension. Yixing should have known it had been Yifan, he was always the one to initiate things when they were on the verge of arguing. Yifan had told him, one night when Yixing had been staying in his room, that it was because he hated the feeling of being backed into a corner.
"I, I mean, we don't know what's up with you, Yixing," Yifan spoke levelly, the way he did when he was trying to keep himself contained. "I know you have a crush on Ziyi but can you at least smile when you're with us."
"I do smile," Yixing defended, his body seizing up as he looked over at where Yifan was seated.
"Not as much as you used to, Xing," Luhan's voice was softer, despite the boy's confidence, he never like confrontation. "We're worried about you."
"I'm not sad," he lied, his covering for his real emotions had slowly grown stronger as he lived with his wrong crush.
"Don't lie, Yixing," Yifan hissed, being careful not to raise his voice. "We're just worried about you. I mean, we know you've had this apparently unrequited crush for a while now and we want to see how you are. These things can really bother somebody of your age."
"I don't have a crush on Jiejie," he fought, a segment of the truth passing through his lips.
"We know you, Xing, we know your crush," Luhan whispered.
Yixing scoffed and shook his head, he didn't want to fight with the two closest people in his life and he just wanted to play around with them like they all used to. Like before his crush on his gege become a conscious thought.
Yifan stood up from where he was sat, walking to kneel in front of Yixing, "I saw you today," Yifan stated, not that Yixing had minded, "I know you're close because of how long you've been practising together. But, I don't think you guys should spend so much time around each other."
"What? Why?" Yixing gaped.
"It's not healthy to pine for somebody like this," Luhan was whispering, looking at Yixing sadly from where he sat. "Fanfan-ge just wants the best for you."
"But it isn't up to him to determine who I can spend my time with."
"Yixing, I am not trying to take over your life but I just think you should keep your distance from her."
"Nothing bad is happening." Yixing felt like he was drowning, having both boys he cared for and looked up to telling him something that was wholeheartedly wrong.
"Yixing, you can't like her," Yifan's voice was a whistled grating sound. "She isn't right for you. You need to stay away from her."
"Why? Just because I like her?!" Yixing hated shouting but his blood was boiling beneath his skin at Yifan's audacity. "That's ridiculous."
"I am your brother, I have to protect you," Yifan shouted back, standing up to his full height to glare down at Yixing.
"You, Yifan, are not my brother," Yixing yelled, his voiced scratched raw and he watched as Yifan took the statement like a physical blow. The ge had been dropped and he heard Luhan gulp loudly. Yifan looked winded, his eyes wide and his mouth open in shock. Yixing found a small spark of joy in seeing that he had affected Yifan like that, he didn't want to be the only one between the two of them who had a lingering feeling of hurt in his stomach. "You do not get to dictate my life like you are."
Yixing picked up his things and stormed out of the room, closing the door behind him as he slowly began to cry - it seemed to be the only way to get rid of his anger and he found Luhan's father wrapping his arms around his upper half.
"I want to go home, Dad," Yixing's words shuddered with each jarring breath. "Please, just take me home."
After their argument, Yixing started spending more time at his parents' apartment than he had done so before. He threw himself into studying, not that it was much help without Yifan lingering around to point out his small stumbles, and composing. The latter was the easier option of the two, especially after Ziyi had told him that their teacher had approved his composition to go into a senior midterm recital and that another two compositions of the same calibre were requested. It wasn't as if Yixing didn't have a large bank of emotion to tap into or the creaky piano in the living room of the apartment that he couldn't use while he. He still found that his older tutor played his songs better than he ever could, her ability to grasp what Yixing had wished for it to be was baffling for the young student but he was thankful for it.
They spent more lunch times and after school hours running through the notes, broken periods of playing and Ziyi coaxing the truth over his perseverance out of him. She, and Luhan alike, began to update the younger boy of the misery he had plunged Yifan into. The boy he had once proudly proclaimed to be his gege had struggled with not having Yixing to keep under his watchful eyes. Apparently the tall seventeen year old had even approached Ziyi actively, after over a year of ignoring, to do things like give Yixing items from his bedroom that Yixing could have been in need of. Those small olive branches weakened Yixing's resolve more than he would have liked to have admitted. That was until the moment Luhan had summoned Yixing for a best friend sleepover (while Yifan was out at one of his parties) and the bomb that the eldest brother had acquired a girlfriend was left to tick and explode over Yixing's head.
He had been so sure that his resolve in not crying would last the whole night. However, when he cried into the pillows that only smelt of his own shampoo, he knew the dam had broken. Not only was it heartbreaking to have your crush actively out the company of another, it was all the more dampening on Yixing's self-esteem because Yifan's girlfriend was a girl. It confirmed to Yixing that Yifan was straight, so painfully and rigidly straight. All while Yixing was submerged in an uneasy sea of sexuality.
A positive that had come from Yifan delving into his first proper relationship was that Yixing could spend his time half freely at the Wu house, Luhan being his emotional pillow and support. Yixing explained his half of the argument, even going as far as to tell the other thirteen-year-old that he never had a crush on his Ziyi-jie and Luhan accepted it easily. His best friend shared that he wasn't sure why Yifan got so touchy about whether or not Yixing had a crush on somebody, unrequited or not. As Luhan had developed his fair share of those and Yifan had never once told him to stop spending time with that girl, or even instigated an argument over it. Yixing wondered if there was something about him that made Yifan know he was unlovable.
It was almost like Yifan knew that there was a secret lingering in the depths of his stomach that would mean he would never have a relationship others would recognise as acceptable. It made him think that it would have been easier for him to have had a crush on Zhang Ziyi.
His music, to his own ears, became sadder and more woeful; longing. He wasn't sure what he was pining for, if it was somebody to tell him that it was okay to have the predilections that he did, if it was for the closeness he had once had with Yifan or if it was the sense of family he had at the Wu home. He suspected it was all three but told himself that everything would have been so much easier if he could pick one and fix that. Then maybe things would fall into place for him.
Yixing was staring at the stage with a sceptical countenance, his fingers itched to change the set-up the music department had implemented for Ziyi's performances of his pieces. He wanted to have her facing to the left, at a slight angle to show her facial expression and fingers deftly moving over the keys. Yet, they had her facing to the right with a harsh ninety-degree angle from the audience. Yixing felt as though it detached the girl from the scene around her, it made her impossible to relate to.
It made every note sound cold and calculated as it bounced strangely in the acoustics of the room, nothing of the pitiable lament it was supposed to be. He aired his feelings to his teacher, the man also listening as Ziyi played the first of Yixing's pieces with jittery fingers. They agreed that she had to have a way to connect to the audience, as the purpose for Yixing's music was supposed to make those listening to it feel something. The adjustments were made, Yixing's heart beat well over the volume of the soft opening notes. Yixing watched as Ziyi had that beautifully concentrated frown on her face, the one that looked something like emotional pain and he felt moved.
He had never once cried at or loved one of his own pieces. Until that rehearsal in that hall. The way everything flowed from introduction to exposition to development to recapitulation to the final coda, it was perfect to Yixing. It was everything he had imagined the pieces to sound like in his head when he first jotted the notes down in hasty scribbles in the middle of the night.
However, his approval of his own music did not drown out the nerves he felt when the evening began. Despite not being one to play in the recital, he was talked into dressing smartly as they were likely to call him out on stage to receive his credit for composing three of the main pieces of the night. His palms were sweaty and he had to banish thoughts of burying his head into the safe, broad chest that he longed to seek his solace in. He was nervous, shaky right down to his feet, as Ziyi went on stage. Yixing spied her boyfriend in the front row and resigned himself to watching him, the composer wanted to see if he could create an affinity with the music his girlfriend was playing. Plus, he had only mentioned a recital to Luhan in passing and did not anticipate for anybody to be there to support him.
He witnessed as Ziyi's boyfriend tried to discreetly wipe something glistening in his eye halfway through the second of the three songs and Yixing felt the world shift from his shoulders.
Yixing had been more than happy with the one emotional response from his audience but the standing ovation Ziyi received had his stomach falling as he watched on as people showed their utmost appreciation to his music. The pianist came backstage, where Yixing was waiting in the wings as the head of the senior music department did his closing statement. "Get ready, Xing-ah, he is going to call you out."
The young boy wiped his hands on his perfectly fitted trousers, leaving tho the stage once the signal was given and his head spun whilst people looked at him with confusion.
"This student of the Junior school composed the three final pieces of tonight's performance, he is the youngest person to have original music in one of our shows since we began having them decades ago," the teacher began, making Yixing's head fall shyly as people murmured their shock and surprise. "His musical creativity is boundless and the music department wishes for you to join us in showing your appreciation for Zhang Yixing and his talents."
Yixing bowed deeply to the spectators, staying at a ninety-degree turn for a full ten seconds before he realised the roaring clapping wasn't going to stop anytime soon. He felt the man beside him nudge his arm slightly and he dashed offstage, his cheeks flamed with an exhilarated yet bashful blush. Ziyi hugged his shoulders tightly, singing her praises until her boyfriend came around and he joined in with his own speech of undeniable beauty. Yixing's recently tearful attitude returned in full force as he became overwhelmed with everybody having nothing but compliments for him.
It hurt his chest knowing that the two people he had always wanted to share a moment like that with weren't there. He longed to share the experience with Yifan and Luhan, no matter how much they fought, he wanted them there for what was important to him.
Which spoke to his surprise when a body, one racking itself with sobs, collided into his own with growls of being an awful best friend for keeping such abilities from his knowledge. "I am hurt, Yixing. You don't tell me you even write music without playing it down with an 'oh, this is just a little something I am working on' nor do you say anything about your music being the kingpin of this show! My heart is broken."
Luhan didn't stop crying into Yixing's nape until somebody else pried him away, Yixing's eyes following up the body of a very neatly put together Yifan and Yixing baulked before smiling slightly.
"Ziyi said you had something special going on tonight," Yifan looked nervous, everything but the picture of confidence he usually was. "I got you these because that's what you do, isn't it? After a live performance you give the xingxing of the show flowers."
"Okay, that pun sounded lamer here than when he came up with it in the car, somehow," Luhan laughed, his crying subsiding as he flicked his older brother's head. Yixing still accepted the flowers, the assortment of pastel pink and cream standing out against all of their darkly coloured clothing.
Yifan ignored Luhan's interjection to look down at Yixing, "I wanted to apologise for yelling at you and being the kind of person you wouldn't want to choose as your brother. I know I was wrong to try and control things I shouldn't be involved in, especially after Han pointed out that I never react like that when he gets a crush or goes out on dates. I just want to protect you from the painful things in life but I can see that being so imposing wasn't the best way to go about such things."
"I'm sorry too," Yixing gazed down at the flowers in his hands before back up to Yifan. "I shouldn't have been so defensive and said something I knew would hurt you. I really am sorry and I miss being your favourite didi."
Yifan ignored Luhan's yelled 'hey!' in favour of hugging Yixing tightly, effectively crushing the flowers between their bodies but the younger didn't care when he could burrow into the elder's chest at will. Yifan leant down to his ear, whispering a delicate "You will always be my favourite didi even when we fight," into his ear.
Yixing found himself uncaring if the affection Yifan showed him was solely platonic, just as long as he cared for him was enough to keep Yixing happy.
"Okay, so who is up for some celebratory ice cream?" Luhan sang, separating the two hugging boys joyfully before placing Yixing's palm in Yifan's, making the boys hold hands in a way they hadn't done for months.
"I'm in," Yixing smiled. "But only if gege pays."
Yixing watched as Yifan's mouth morphed into one of sheer happiness, his hand squeezing Yixing's tightly in his own as they poked their tongues out at each other.
Yixing would take platonic love over distance any day.