Yixing had always felt at home in the sea, to have his legs submerged beneath a glittering blue surface and have his skin tingling with the scent of salt. His hands, and most likely his feet, too, smelt like the coconut fragrance of his Orange Label sex wax when he whiled away his morning hours at the beach. It was a scent Yixing knew well, it had accented numerous escapades he'd be a part of and it brought a nostalgia that vibrated in each of his senses whenever he was in the water.
While the sun crept over the horizon, there were only a handful of devoted surfers out to catch the waves of gradually departing tide. Yixing was there almost every morning without fail. He was addicted to the feeling, it was like his drug, and he needed his fix before his morning classes began or he wouldn't be able to function properly. The stormy days were the worst, the kind that had experienced surfers cowering away from the shoreline as messy wave upon messy wave crashed down onto the sand, he hated the days when the sea didn't want him.
With the air cool around his body, goosebumps rose up on the skin of his neck and with the water slightly warmer around his legs, he felt the soothing pull of the sea.
When he heard, sensed and saw the beginnings of a cleaner wave, he leant forward on his board once he'd turned towards the shore, extended his legs behind his body and used his hands to scoop on paddling motions through the water. He -felt- the tail of his board pick up with the rising crest, it was carried forward with an unrestrained force, his hands and feet moved to distribute his weight across the fibreglass and he followed the momentum to push himself up onto the soles of his feet. He remained crouched, his centre of gravity in line with that of his board as he angled them both down to descend the wave with it breaking behind him.
His breathing remained even, he drew in salty air and let it out in regular intervals. If the wave had been bigger or cleaner, he would have closed his eyes to let the energy guide him through the motions but with the crests feathering out to white so quickly, he kept his eyes locked onto the cleaner water of the wave ahead of him. It was like second nature for Yixing, to keep himself balanced on his board, the muscle memory of remaining on his feet was enough to make surfing feel as easy as walking.
He made sure to keep himself balanced as he made his bottom turn, curving back up the wave to start a carving motion through it. He could feel the sea spray soaking the left side of his face, the cooler droplets hung from his hair and dribbled down until it pooled at his ear. He could feel the gentle winds blow the dangling water to race down his neck where it fed into his wetsuit.
Yixing whipped his board into the wave in a powerful cutback, heading directly to the breaking part curling water to soak up as much energy as he could before he felt like he was floating above the wave he was riding. He rode along it with the feeling of flight coursing through his veins until the nose of his board dipped down beneath the waterline.
He crashed out, his body plunging into the water below as his board stayed buoyant on the surface. The sea swallowed him up and he waited for the next wave to pass over his head before he kicked back up to the surface. He reeled his board in by the tether on his ankle and climbed back onto it, he sat with his legs either side of the fibreglass and caught his breath, swallowing the sea spray into his burning lungs.
Before too long, he was turning his board around to paddle back out to the deeper parts of the water, he did a few duckdives under the waves he couldn't catch before he sat on his rocking board to wait for the next wave he wanted to catch.
Yifan was used to it, the early mornings and the fading night chill as the sun crawled up into the sky. He could see the reds of the sky spill into the sea and how it changed to pale purple then blue as it got closer to shore. It was a beautiful sight. However, that was rarely what he watched in avid detail.
It was a surfer, Yixing, who he was there so early to observe. From where he was sat, he couldn't see anything in detail on Yixing's face, the other was a mere black neoprene covered figure with black hair that slid and skidded through the water with a practised ease and fluid motions. Yifan was constantly in awe of the man in the ocean. It was like his board became an extension of his body, his feet moved with purpose as he shifted his balance and bent his arms ready for impact but relaxed enough that he didn't appear rigid.
When he crashed out, Yifan set as hard as stone. When he perfected an aerial move on a more powerful wave, pride swelled up in Yifan's chest. When he crouched down low enough to grab the rail of the board in order to keep control, Yifan could see how calm he was in the water.
It left Yifan in a constant state of wonder. He had never taken to a surfboard like Yixing had, he was marginally better on land with a skateboard than in the water on a shaped panel of fibreglass, and he'd always been a little jealous of that. He often longed to go out to the sea with Yixing at his side and glide out towards the larger waves together, but his clumsiness and lack of control over his long limbs made it next to impossible to master the sport.
He was fine with watching from the safety of the sandy beach on most days, especially when it was so close to sunrise and he didn't expect the water to be the warmest of places. It also allowed him to watch over Yixing ardently from the sandbank, ensuring that he could go out into the water if the younger got injured or help Yixing if his fin broke off in the awkwardly placed sandbank that sat in the shallows next to the headland down the beach.
On some mornings, Yifan used Yixing's surfing time to complete pieces of his homework or he'd retreat into the public basketball courts that looked onto the beach to practice before his training sessions with his university team. They were there for long enough that the sun began its warming of the air, that the wind came in to make the water that little bit more messy and the light around them was far brighter than it had been when they'd walked from Yifan's car to the waterfront.
Seeing Yixing run out of the water towards him after around three hours, Yifan took a hold of the rolled up beach towel to his side and stood up on the lightly coloured sand, ready to envelop Yixing in the drying warmth he always gave. The younger, on his ascent of the beach, held his six-foot shortboard with ease and slid it into his carrier before stepping into Yifan's open arms.
The taller didn't mind feeling the water on Yixing's body seeping through the towel and into his own clothes, he never had. After Yifan had managed to get the residual seawater off Yixing's wetsuit and face, the younger used the long strap attached to the zipper of his suit to pull it open and Yifan peeled the top half of the suit off the shorter's torso. He was sure to rub Yixing's chest, abs and back down with the towel before rubbing the shorter's dripping wet hair to rid it of the excess water too.
"I need to return this suit," Yixing opened, taking the towel from Yifan's hands to hold it around his own body by his mouth as he shimmied out of the rest of his wetsuit. The rest of what was said was muffled but Yifan could decode it with minimal effort, "It chafes and I can't move as cleanly in it."
Yifan reached into a bag they'd brought along yanked out a pair of shorts for Yixing to pull on, they had once been Yifan's but the younger used them as his post-surf comfort clothes to travel back to their apartment in most days. Apparently the freedom of the clothing was what he needed after being cooped up in a skintight one-piece for so long.
"We'll go shopping for one after classes," the elder hummed and Yixing let out a happy squeal.
They both knew how much Yifan disliked going shopping for wetsuits, he didn't really understand the differences between them other than the fact that some were shorter in the arms and legs than others. The differing seams, the panelling and neoprene types were all lost on him. Yixing, however, was in his element whenever he looked for anything that related to his favourite hobby.
Though, it wasn't like Yixing was much better whenever it came to anything to do with skateboarding or basketball.
The shorter male stood upright, letting the towel fall away from his body and Yifan could see where Yixing had needed to roll the tops of the shorts over to keep them up on his hips. Yixing stepped towards Yifan and the elder could feel how cold his body was, his hands were like icicles as they landed around Yifan's back and his face buried his cold nose into Yifan's far warmer chest.
Yixing spent so much time in the water that he numbed to the temperature quickly, meaning that it often felt warmer below the surface than out in the air when it was so early in the day. But, as soon as he latched onto Yifan, he was shuddering into the heat Yifan naturally produced.
Yifan himself didn't mind that Yixing was so cool when he left the water, he enjoyed being able to wrap himself around the younger to keep him warm and be like a human furnace for him. Only when Yixing's skin temperature rose did he pull one of Yifan's sweatshirts over his head, leaving the hood up and his fingers curled into the cuffs, giving him sweater paws to regain some of the life in the tips of his fingers. All of his clothing was oversized, he drowned in the fabric but Yifan knew that often kept the younger at his warmest before they could shower at home.
The taller sat down on the sand, pulling Yixing along with him and the younger crawled onto his lap almost instantly. Yixing smelt like coconut closeup, one of Yifan's favourite scents to draw in from Yixing's skin, especially when it was mingled in with the refreshingly strong smell of sea salt. The younger's flesh was smooth, the way it was whenever the ocean had run over him and Yifan adored how soft Yixing was whenever he stroked over the the skin and hairs of his body.
Yixing played with the sand, burying Yifan's hand in the granules then unearthing it after a short while, only to cover it back over with yet another pile of grains.
It was always the slowest part of the morning, the moments in the winter when Yifan would have brought a flask of tea along with him to stop them both from feeling like they were freezing to death and the kind in the summer when they would relish in the sun climbing up behind them. The initial tiredness of surfing for hours on end kept Yixing placid and calm and Yifan liked how quiet the beach was with only the water and Yixing's deep breaths filling his hearing.
The other surfers on the beach stayed out of their way as they sat curled up with one another, it was probably a normal sight for the regular beach-goers to see and it wasn't like anybody seemed to mind the young couple enjoying the quiet together.
Nevertheless, Yixing always seemed to leave a reserve of energy to expend whenever he was around Yifan. He knew the younger would be back in full force once they had eaten, showered and dressed for the rest of the day but there was always that extra little bit that Yixing had hidden away to strike when Yifan was just slowing himself down for a pleasant morning with Yixing.
That energy was often released and used up when Yixing turned his head away from where he was playing with Yifan's hand in the sand to look towards his face. He would move forward like a creeping cat in pursuit of its prey and press kisses all along Yifan's jaw until he could angle his face up and meet the elder's lips.
It never took too long for that to happen and after hundreds and hundreds of mornings spent like that with Yixing, Yifan half knew to expect that the younger would feel the need join their mouths.
That morning was no different, Yixing used his hands to push Yifan back into the sand and gently brush their lips together. Yifan could feel the heat that Yixing was slowly starting to radiate through their clothing and bare lower legs, giving him a pleasant sensation all over his body. Yixing met Yifan's mouth with his own one open, suggesting to the taller of the two that Yixing was ready for their tongues to meet somewhere in the middle.
Those kisses were often the first they would have in a day, they were paced and relaxed as their lips glided and their tongues slipped past each other in gentle swipes. Yixing's fingers curled around Yifan's shoulders, the elder's doing the same around the younger's waist and their breaths moved in puffs in and out of their noses. It was skilled with neither of them dribbling saliva or catching teeth, becoming affectionate rather than desperate.
They didn't let one another go free for numerous minutes, so long into the kiss that Yifan wasn't even sure if he could feel his lips anymore or if he could differentiate the taste of Yixing's mouth from his own.
He didn't see it coming until it happened. Yixing's hands had slipped from his shoulders and rustled in the sand by his ears before he could register that he should have moved, Yixing was rubbing sand into Yifan's cheeks with small grains getting into his mouth as Yixing pulled back. Through his spluttering, he could hear Yixing's laughs ringing loud and clear, which wasn't a shock, as the younger enjoyed ruining Yifan's happiness in favour of his own childish sense of humour. But, as always, Yixing's laughter was contagious and Yifan, too, found himself giggling along with the younger too.
"I really hate you," he grumbled as he brushed sand from his tongue and hair.
From the way Yixing's eyes were gleaming with his need to surf in the morning water then kiss and tease Yifan fulfilled and sated, they both knew that Yifan couldn't ever hate Yixing when his dimple was showing or his face was pink with body convulsing laughter.
"No, you don't. You love me," Yixing singsonged between his bouts of delighted giggles with his sweater covered hands shielding his face as Yifan threw sand back at him.