Looking back, Ye Xiu blames Han Wenqing entirely for the whole situation. It starts one morning in July, just after the conclusion of the Glory Professional Alliance’s Tenth Season and the announcement of the lineup of the Chinese Glory Team.
It hadn’t taken long for Ye Xiu to move most of the stuff he thinks he’ll need for the duration of the training period to the accommodations at headquarters provided by the Chinese Glory Professional Alliance. However, it takes him a little longer to get everything organised. He’s about halfway through unpacking his stuff when he’s interrupted by a firm knock on the wooden door to his bedroom.
Ye Xiu looks up from where he’s rummaging through one of his drawers to find Han Wenqing looming in the doorway.
“Old Han,” he greets in surprise. “I wasn’t expecting to see you.”
The man in question shrugs. “I was helping Xinjie move some of his stuff over, but I got the impression he’d rather not have anyone around while he organises his room.”
Ye Xiu smirks. “He’s probably afraid you’d destroy his organisational system.”
Han Wenqing rolls his eyes. “Likely,” he concedes, “but I thought I’d see who else is around.”
Ye Xiu sits back on his heels, considering. “I think most people aside from the Blue Rain lot are here already.”
“Oh good,” Han Wenqing blurts out, startling a laugh out of Ye Xiu.
“Don’t fancy running into Huang Shaotian?” Ye Xiu teases.
“Don’t joke about that,” he growls in reply. “I have a headache just thinking about it.”
Ye Xiu slides the drawer shut and rises to his feet, stretching slightly. “Well, thank goodness you avoided the headache that actually dealing with him would entail.’”
Ye Xiu eyes the man still leaning against his door frame. “Was there anything else you wanted?” he asks.
“I’m going to go find some lunch,” Han Wenqing replies. “You should come with me.”
Ye Xiu blinks. That’s a somewhat abrupt change in subject, but lunch sounds like a good idea. He’s not entirely sure that he ate breakfast, and he knows that Mucheng will likely pitch a fit if he misses lunch as well.
“Let me just grab my wallet,” Ye Xiu agrees, heading over towards his desk.
It doesn’t take them long to find a small restaurant not too far from the headquarters, and the pair are quickly seated for their meal.
When it comes time to pay for their bowls of noodles and stir fried vegetables, Han Wenqing refuses to let Ye Xiu pay, much to the other’s exasperation.
“I invited you,” Han Wenqing reminds Ye Xiu, then turns to their poor waiter. “Don’t take his money for the meal,” he orders the slightly terrified looking man, who nods hurriedly and scampers off to get the change.
Ye Xiu scowls in Han Wenqing’s direction. Why does the man have to be so much scarier than he is?
“I’m paying next time,” Ye Xiu tells Han Wenqing mulishly.
Han Wenqing looks like he wants the throw a punch at Ye Xiu’s face, so Ye Xiu knows that Han Wenqing is begrudgingly accepting of Ye Xiu’s offer.
Next time turns out to be barely a week later when Han Wenqing turns up on his free day, ostensibly to exchange a handful of files with Zhang Xinjie (why he’s using paper files in this day and age is a complete mystery to Ye Xiu), and the two of them end up grabbing take-away during Ye Xiu’s brief lunch break.
Somehow, it becomes a regular thing.
Brrring… Brrrring… Brrring…
Ye Xiu holds the mobile phone next to his ear, as he lounges on his bed and listens to the ringing tone with increasing impatience. The person he’s calling had better pick up, or he will be having words the next time they meet about leaving friends hanging.
“Han Wenqing, finally.”
“Ye Xiu?” the other man sounds baffled, which ok, fair. Ye Xiu is pretty infamous for his avoidance of mobile phones, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
“Are you doing anything urgent right this minute?” he asks.
“Not particularly. Why?”
“Good. I need you to stay on the phone call for at least the next,” Ye Xiu quickly glances at the clock in his bedroom, “twenty minutes.”
“Okay, I can do that, but why?” Han Wenqing asks.
Ye Xiu sighs. This entire situation is, quite frankly, utterly ridiculous, but he does owe an explanation.
“Team China’s management committee decided, in all their wisdom, that since I’m such a ‘key member of the team’, I need to be contactable in case of an emergency. So they gifted me a pre-paid mobile phone,” he tells Han Wenqing grumpily. “This one, in fact, so be honoured I’m letting you know my number.”
Han Wenqing coughs briefly, before saying, “Go on?”
Ye Xiu scowls down at the phone. “I don’t know how, but Huang Shaotian got ahold of my number. He hasn’t stopped calling and messaging me for the past 3 hours even though he’s supposed to be in training, so I don’t know what Turtle Wenzhou is doing.”
“Can’t you just turn your phone off?” Han Wenqing asks.
“If I do that, he’ll know I’m purposefully avoiding him, and I’ll never hear the end of it. This way, I can honestly say that I didn’t notice any of his calls.”
“I see.” Han Wenqing’s voice sounds a little odd, even accounting for the slight distortion from the phone call.
Ye Xiu groans. “Go on, laugh, I know you want to.”
At that, Han Wenqing actually sniggers. Ye Xiu hadn’t even known the man was capable of making a sound like that. He thinks this whole fiasco might be worth it just for that new knowledge.
“So,” Ye Xiu says, forcibly changing the subject, “how are things with you? How’s Tyranny?”
“You only saw me last week,” Han Wenqing grumbles at him, but nevertheless begins to describe some of the antics his team have gotten up to with Ye Xiu chipping in anecdotes of some of Team China’s shenanigans. Somehow, they end up straying away from their original topic of conversation into music, of all things, getting into a debate about whether or not Bach was superior to Mozart when it came to composing.
“Ye Xiu!” Su Mucheng suddenly calls from outside his door, distracting Ye Xiu from his extremely well thought out argument.
“Hang on,” Ye Xiu speaks into the phone, then covers the mouthpiece with one hand and yells, “What?”
“It’s dinnertime!” she replies back. “Are you coming?”
Ye Xiu jerks his head around to stare at the clock. Has he actually been on the phone for an hour and a half?
“Be there in a second!”
Putting the phone back to his ear, he says, “Sorry, Mucheng just told me dinner’s ready.” Feeling vaguely guilty about the amount of time he’d kept Han Wenqing busy, he says, “I didn’t mean to keep you this long, sorry if I interrupted something.”
“I wasn’t really doing anything,” Han Wenqing replies, easygoing, “Don’t worry about it.”
Ye Xiu says a hasty goodbye before hanging up to join the rest of the team for dinner.
Three nights later, Ye Xiu picks up his phone and barely gets a greeting out before Han Wenqing launches into an impressive rant about idiots who manage to break a Glory account card.
“Wait, they didn’t break Desert Dust did they?” Ye Xiu asks, aghast, as Han Wenqing pauses to take a breath.
“No, thank god.”
“Phew.” Ye Xiu actually feels a little wobbly at the thought. “Still, that’s a stupid thing to do.”
“You don’t have to tell me,” Han Wenqing growls.
“Was there anything else you wanted?” Ye Xiu asks.
Ye Xiu finds himself smiling involuntarily. “Night then.”
“Good night to you too.”
Without Ye Xiu noticing, nightly phone calls to his old rival are added to their regular meals together as a part of Ye Xiu’s routine.
Desert Dust: You’re leaving for Zurich tomorrow, right?
Lord Grim: yup
Desert Dust: Have a safe journey.
Lord Grim: aww, how caring :) management booked us an early morning flight tho. im not sure how much sleep we’ll be getting
Desert Dust: You could always go to bed early?
Desert Dust: Wait, never mind.
Desert Dust: I forgot who I was talking to.
Lord Grim: rude!!!!
Lord Grim: wow, there sure are some annoying players here
Desert Dust: If this is coming from you, they must be quite something.
Lord Grim: what is that supposed to mean!!! :(
Desert Dust: You have always been an annoyance.
Lord Grim: [crying emoji]
Desert Dust: Have they done anything in particular?
Lord Grim: eh, its being handled
Desert Dust: What is that supposed to mean.
Desert Dust: Ye Xiu.
Desert Dust: Ye Xiu.
Lord Grim is offline
Desert Dust: shit.
Desert Dust: That was an impressive match today. Congratulations on making it to the finals.
Lord Grim: oh? you were watching?
Desert Dust: Of course. Su Mucheng was particularly impressive.
Lord Grim: yes. well.
Desert Dust: What did you do.
Lord Grim: i didn’t do anything!!!
Desert Dust: [scowling face]
Lord Grim: fine. There might have been an incident earlier this week with some of the players on the opposing team.
Lord Grim: honour insulted, choice of team members questioned. you get the idea.
Desert Dust: …
Desert Dust: Remind me never to get on Su Mucheng’s bad side.
Lord Grim: heh.
Lord Grim: Well. I was not expecting that.
Desert Dust: I saw the match. What happened to Sun Xiang?
Lord Grim: Allergic reaction, apparently.
Desert Dust: Is he alright?
Lord Grim: oh, is that concern i hear? I’m sure he’ll be delighted to know u asked after him
Desert Dust: fuck off
Lord Grim: Don’t worry, he’ll be fine.
Desert Dust: Good. Congratulations to the team for winning.
Lord Grim: I’ll let them know ;)
Desert Dust: Are you alright?
Lord Grim: me? y would i not be?
Desert Dust: Don’t try that with me. It was One Autumn Leaf.
Lord Grim: Yeah. It was.
Lord Grim: I will be. alright i mean
Lord Grim: it felt better, handing him back this time.
Desert Dust: I’ll punch Tao Xuan for you next time I see him.
Lord Grim: hey. HEY. do not go punching people on my behalf.
Lord Grim: Han Wenqing.
Lord Grim: HAN WENQING
Desert Dust is offline
Lord Grim: shit.
As it so happens, Huang Shaotian’s birthday falls just a few days after the end of the tournament, and the members of the Chinese Glory Team manage to organise a small party for him once they arrive back in Beijing. Su Mucheng and Chu Yunxiu take charge of choosing a cake, but load the responsibility for the rest of the food and drinks on the other members of the team.
Ye Xiu is about ninety percent sure that someone managed to add an alcoholic spirit to the fruit punch, judging by the behaviour of his teammates as the evening progresses. Ye Xiu has been avoiding it for that reason, and he absentmindedly takes another bite of his slice of cake as he watches Huang Shaotian open his presents. It suddenly occurs to him that, despite a knowing Han Wenqing for over a decade, he’s never gotten the man a birthday present.
Well, clearly this won’t do.
The next day he actually braves one of the shopping districts in Beijing and successfully manages to find a range of items that are suitable presents to give to Han Wenqing. He’s about leave when he spots a small stand selling a whole load of plushies and stuffed animals - some large, some small enough to dangle off of a keychain.
One stuffed animal in particular catches his eye. Ye Xiu stares at it for a good minute, confirming that the animal is actually what he thinks it is, then he gleefully snatches it up and pays for it.
It’s absolutely perfect. Ye Xiu can’t wait to see Han Wenqing’s face when he sees it.
“Captain Han, excuse me-”
Han Wenqing glances up from his phone and toward the door of the recreation room in Tyranny’s headquarters. He’s surprised to be disturbed - it’s a rest day for Tyranny’s main roster, and most people in the building tend to leave him alone for the duration. One of the receptionists is standing at the entrance to the rec room, looking nervously at him.
“Yes?” he queries.
“Er, there’s someone down at reception asking for you? He said that he was an old friend? I wasn’t sure, but he said he’d take the blame for disturbing you and he was pretty insistent, so…”
Her voice trails off as Han Wenqing rises to his feet. “What did he look like?” he demands.
“Er - dark hair? Quite pale. Oh - he had pretty eyes - think they were kinda gold-coloured?”
Han Wenqing frowns. He only knows one person who matches that description. Which begs the question - what on earth is Ye Xiu doing in Qingdao?
The receptionist seems to take his expression as disapproval, as she takes half a step backwards. “Right, I’ll just tell him you’re not available or something - sorry to have disturbed you.”
“No, I do know him, actually,” Han Wenqing tells her. “I just wasn’t expecting him to visit.”
The receptionist looks surprised at that, but doesn’t comment, as he follows her in the direction of the stairs to descend to the ground floor.
A few minutes later, Han Wenqing steps around the corner into the reception area and sure enough, Ye Xiu is there, lounging against the wall by the entrance. He straightens up when he catches sight of Han Wenqing, and steps forward in greeting.
“Old Han!” Ye Xiu says cheerfully, beaming. Han Wenqing doesn’t trust that smile for one minute.
“What are you doing here?” he demands.
Ye Xiu holds out a fairly large gift bag.
“Wishing you happy birthday, of course!”
Han Wenqing stares at the offered bag in utter disbelief, then switches his gaze to Ye Xiu’s face, at his golden eyes crinkled in mirth.
“You are aware,” he states, “that my birthday was in March?”
“Yup,” Ye Xiu replies, popping the p at the end of word, “but I didn’t get you anything then, so I’m making up for it now.”
Han Wenqing groans and raises a hand to rub his forehead. “Did you actually travel all the way from Beijing to give me a birthday present four months late in person? How early did you have to leave this morning?”
“Early enough.” Ye Xiu shakes the bag a little in the air, causing some of the things inside to rattle. “Are you going to take this or not?”
“You’re impossible,” Han Wenqing informs him, finally taking the gift bag. Carefully, he pulls off the top layer of wrapping paper and eyes the contents inside.
“How many gifts did you get?” he asks dubiously.
“Twenty eight, one for each year!”
“You haven’t even known me for that length of time,” Han Wenqing grouses.
“Ah, don’t worry, most of them are little things.”
Han Wenqing will have to take his word for it because there’s a larger item sitting on top that’s blocking his view. A larger, fluffy item.
Han Wenqing draws it out and stares at it in disbelief. “What is this supposed to be?” he demands, waving the offending item in Ye Xiu’s direction.
The corner of Ye Xiu’s mouth is twitching. “I don’t know, I thought the likeness was pretty remarkable, actually - ”
“ - it’s a tiger version of Desert Dust, how is the likeness remarkable? ”
“I know, they even got your headgear right! And its scowl is adorable.”
Han Wenqing resists the urge to shake the man. “Desert Dust isn’t supposed to be adorable. Or cuddly .”
Ye Xiu starts wheezing with laughter. “Cuddly? That’s your issue with it?”
“Shut up,” Han Wenqing spits at him, glaring at the item before stuffing it back in the bag.
“Whatever you say,” Ye Xiu sing-songs. “ Kitty. ”
This time, Han Wenqing stops resisting and lunges at Ye Xiu, who displays a remarkable amount of self-preservation by flinging himself sideways. Han Wenqing is still faster than him, and manages to turn quick enough to snag ahold of Ye Xiu’s shirt collar.
“Call me that again, I dare you,” he growls, dragging Ye Xiu close.
Ye Xiu is still laughing too hard to answer and Han Wenqing ends up shaking him out of sheer aggravation.
Ye Xiu manages to get himself under control enough to blurt out mind the clothes, even as he grabs onto Han Wenqing’s shoulders to keep himself balanced.
Han Wenqing just growls at him. Ye Xiu pats his shoulder in what is probably supposed to be an attempt to calm him down, but only really succeeds in enraging him further. Ye Xiu seems entirely unconcerned by the fact that death is literally staring him in the face and his eyes slide sideways and focus on something behind him.
Han Wenqing half-turns around. Bai Yanfei and Yu Tian are standing just behind them, stopped dead in the entrance to Tyranny headquarters.
“Hi,” Ye Xiu says, waving at them.
Bai Yanfei waves back weakly.
“Is… everything alright?” Yu Tian asks, his eyes darting between the two of them.
Ye Xiu nods reassuringly. “No problem here.”
“Okaaay,” Yu Tian draws the word out. He doesn’t sound very convinced.
Seeing as Han Wenqing is still of half a mind to forcibly wipe the smug smile off of Ye Xiu’s face, Yu Tian probably has a good reason to be worried.
Bai Yanfei apparently possesses a better set of self-preservation instincts, as he grabs Yu Tian by the shoulder and directs him past Ye Xiu and Han Wenqing towards the staircase.
“We’ll leave you guys alone, in that case,” Bai Yanfei says, ignoring the protests from Yu Tian.
Ye Xiu flings an arm around Han Wenqing’s shoulders as they watch the Tyranny members leave, and the unexpected contact causes Han Wenqing to loosen his grip on Ye Xiu’s shirt. Ye Xiu is entirely relaxed despite the lack of distance between himself and the person who looked intent on committing his murder barely a few minutes ago. For some unknown reason, Han Wenqing can feel himself relaxing the longer Ye Xiu remains in contact with him. It should be infuriating, but somehow Han Wenqing can’t even muster the effort to be angry.
“I think that went well,” Ye Xiu says next to his ear.
Han Wenqing huffs at him. “I think you and I have very different interpretations of that phrase.” He pauses briefly, then continues, “What are you planning on doing for the rest of the day?”
“I thought I’d wander around Qingdao for a bit.” Ye Xiu muses, lifting a shoulder in a half-shrug. “I’ve never really explored the area, aside from during matches with Tyranny, so I thought it’d be interesting to take a look around.”
Han Wenqing sighs. It wasn’t at all how he’d planned to spend his day off, but ... “I suppose I could show you around.”
Ye Xiu tilts his head to one side. “Are you sure? I’m sure I’d be fine on my own.”
“I think not,” Han Wenqing replies darkly. “Wait here,” he demands, shrugs off Ye Xiu’s arm, and marches back to his room to collect his shoes and wallet. He places the gift bag, along with that ridiculous tiger, on his bed before he locks the door and returns to the reception.
Naturally, in the short interval of time it took for him to return, Ye Xiu had disappeared. Luckily, Han Wenqing spots a plume of smoke wafting outside the main door before his blood pressure has a chance to rise any higher. Stepping outside into the warm August sunshine, he waits for Ye Xiu to put out his cigarette before the pair moves off into the city.
As it turns out, there’s a market near the pier in Qingdao and there are far more people around than Han Wenqing is expecting. It doesn’t bother him too much, given that people tend to move out of his way when he’s walking through a crowd. As such, it takes him more than half a dozen paces before he realises that Ye Xiu isn’t behind him. When he does become aware of Ye Xiu’s absence, Han Wenqing whirls around to look for him, far more alarmed than he’d like to admit. He scans the faces around him, searching for a glimpse of familiar dark hair, but comes up with nothing.
Before he has a chance to start worrying too much, he hears his name being called.
“Han Wenqing! Over here!”
His gaze shifts further back through the crowd towards the buildings at the edge of the street where he spies Ye Xiu waving at him, apparently standing on something judging from the height of his head.
Han Wenqing shoulders his way through crowd until he reaches Ye Xiu, who hops off of the bench he’d been standing on.
“Sorry,” Ye Xiu says, sheepishly. “Someone bumped into me and I ended up with a few people between me and you.”
“The crowds are pretty dense,” Han Wenqing concedes. He surveys the throng of people bustling up and down the road. “Let’s go elsewhere and find some lunch.”
Ye Xiu’s mouth twitches. “So bossy,” he says.
“I don’t see you coming up with a better idea.”
“True, but that still doesn’t solve the issue of us getting through the crowd in order to leave it.”
Han Wenqing rolls his eyes and loops his arm around one of Ye Xiu’s own, linking their elbows together. He strides off through the crowd, which parts for both him and Ye Xiu.
“Huh,” Ye Xiu says, keeping pace next to him. “I guess that works.”
Han Wenqing gives him a scornful look. “Of course.”
He’s honestly expecting Ye Xiu to find a reason to stop walking arm-in-arm once they’re out of the crowd, but for some reason the other man seems content to stay tucked close against his side. He resolves not to question it.
They manage to find a street vendor selling Baozi for lunch and they take their time munching on the heavenly dough buns, enjoying the summer weather.
After they’ve both finished, Ye Xiu slides his arm back around Han Wenqing’s, claiming that seeing as Han Wenqing was the one to offer to show him around Qingdao, it’s also his responsibility to ensure that Ye Xiu doesn’t get lost in the process.
His expression is so supremely smug that Han Wenqing has to resist the urge to punch him. He settles for flicking the side of Ye Xiu’s cheek instead, ignoring the offended expression it earns him. They spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around Qingdao until it’s time for Ye Xiu catch the return train back to Beijing.
Han Wenqing accompanies him to the station before he returns to Tyranny headquarters, feeling curiously light, like he dropped a heavy rucksack he’d been carrying without having realised it.
It’s not until Han Wenqing actually gets back to his room at Tyranny that he remembers that he’s yet to look through the rest of the gifts Ye Xiu had given him. He puts the stuffed tiger on top of his desk (it feels a little cruel to just shove it to the back of his wardrobe) and sits on the edge of his bed to sort through the rest of the bag.
Most of gifts are little things, to be fair - a collection of pens in a riot of different colours, emblazoned with the logo of every Glory Team that participated in Season Ten, for example, as well as a couple of packages of Tanghulu. Han Wenqing examines the sticks of candied fruit and discovers that Ye Xiu had somehow managed to pick up his favourite type.
The final thing he withdraws from the bag, buried right at the bottom beneath everything else, is actually wrapped in red and black paper.
Han Wenqing eyes it warily. He’s not sure whether opening it is a good idea or not, but in the end curiosity wins out.
Slitting open the sellotape holding the paper in place, he unfolds the wrapping to discover a pair of black leather gloves, from a brand he recognises and knows isn’t cheap. Han Wenqing slides one on and discovers that the fit is absolutely perfect.
Han Wenqing removes the glove and turns them over in his hands a few times, completely at a loss. Then, he flops back onto his bed with a groan.
“Dammit, Ye Xiu.”
It’s almost midnight, one evening a few weeks later, when Ye Xiu hears the low murmur of familiar voices echoing through the partially open door of a small meeting room at the Chinese Glory Team headquarters. He pokes his head curiously around the door - he’d been surprised to hear voices, as by now, most of the members of the team had left to head back to their respective team headquarters, or disappeared off on vacation somewhere.
He raises an eyebrow at the pair seated in the room.
“You’re up rather late,” he comments to Han Wenqing and Zhang Xinjie, who are seated at the wooden table with a laptop open in from of them, a series of papers strewn across the tabletop.
“I thought you were planning to head back to Qingdao today?” he addresses Zhang Xinjie, who sighs and takes off his glasses to rub at the bridge of his nose.
“We ended up discussing more than we’d thought,” he admits, “and one day doesn’t make too much of a difference in the grand scheme of things.”
He eyes Ye Xiu curiously. “What about yourself? Nowhere to go over the summer?”
“I’m putting off going back home for as long as I possibly can,” Ye Xiu admits. “I might head over to Happy for a bit, see how that lot are doing. Besides, Chairman Feng contacted me yesterday, he sounded like he might have come up with a way to keep me involved in the Alliance, so I’m waiting to hear back from him.”
Han Wenqing looks interested at that.
Ye Xiu catches his look and smiles slyly at him. “Don’t worry, you won’t be getting rid of me that easily this time around.”
“Glad to hear it,” Zhang Xinjie says as he begins to straighten some of the papers.
“Are you guys going to head to bed?” Ye Xiu asks them, leaning against the door frame.
“It’s about time,” Han Wenqing agrees. “I think we were going to find a spare mattress to put on the floor of Xinjie’s room.”
“Or you could share mine,” Ye Xiu offers. “I ended up in a room with a king-sized bed for some reason. I think management might have been trying to bribe me, I’m not entirely sure.”
Ye Xiu suddenly realises that he might be getting in the way of an evening that Zhang Xinjie and Han Wenqing had planned to hang out together and backtracks slightly, “But I don’t want to interrupt anything so don’t feel obliged.”
“It makes no difference to me,” Zhang Xinjie says, a slightly considering look in his eyes as he regards the two of them.
Han Wenqing shrugs. “That would make things easier. Thanks.”
Ye Xiu nods and waves a farewell as he heads back out the door. “You know where my room is, Old Han. Come on in whenever you’re done.”
Ye Xiu returns to his room via the kitchen, collecting the glass of water he’d actually come down for, and picks up a second glass in case Han Wenqing wants one.
He ends up browsing some of the Glory forums for a few minutes before the door to his room swings open. Ye Xiu glances up and nods at Han Wenqing in greeting.
“Feel free to use the bathroom,” Ye Xiu says, gesturing in the direction of the door which leads to the small ensuite. “I got changed already.”
Han Wenqing nods in thanks, places a small rucksack on the floor at the foot of the bed, and rummages inside it briefly, extracting a pair of pyjama shorts, a t-shirt, and a toothbrush.
“Mind if I take some toothpaste?” Han Wenqing asks as he heads towards the bathroom.
“Go ahead,” Ye Xiu tells him, scrolling absently through a chat attempting to predict the outcome of the first match of the the Eleventh Season. Most of them are horribly inaccurate, but it makes for an amusing read.
A few minutes later, Han Wenqing emerges from the bathroom and tucks his clothes into his bag.
“Is there a side you prefer to sleep on?” he queries and Ye Xiu shakes his head as he shuts down his computer.
“I’ve got an alarm set for about 8 am tomorrow,” Ye Xiu says as he slides into the bed, Han Wenqing already settled in on the other side.
“No problem,” Han Wenqing replies.
“Night then,” Ye Xiu tells him and is rewarded with a faint grumble as he switches off the light.
Ye Xiu is roused from his sleep by someone repeatedly poking his cheek.
“Ye Xiu,” a voice hisses, sounding exceedingly unamused.
Ye Xiu cracks one eye open.
“What?” he mutters grouchily. What, exactly, is so important that someone feels the need to wake him before his alarm goes off?
“I need to go to bathroom,” the voice rumbles, sounding weirdly close.
“Why don’t you just go, then?” Ye Xiu replies.
“I would , but you’re lying on top of me, hanging onto my shirt, and I literally can’t.”
At that, Ye Xiu opens both eyes fully and half lifts his head to discover that he has migrated positions during the night and is now sprawled half-across Han Wenqing’s chest, one hand gripping the front of his t-shirt. Ye Xiu tilts his head back slightly to meet Han Wenqing’s grey eyes with his own.
Ye Xiu blinks sleepily at him. Han Wenqing glares back.
“Oops?” Ye Xiu offers weakly.
Han Wenqing glares harder. “Why have you not moved yet?”
Disgruntled at being disturbed, Ye Xiu rolls off Han Wenqing with a groan, flinging one arm over his eyes in the hope that he’ll manage to fall back asleep.
“Blame my twin,” he slurs in Han Wenqing’s direction, his brain too sleepy to filter his thoughts like it usually would. “He always ended up cuddling me when we had to share a bed, I picked up his bad habit.”
He hears Han Wenqing grunt in acknowledgement, then the bed shifts slightly as he gets up. Ye Xiu hears the quiet pad of his footsteps across the room and into the bathroom, already dozing off again by the time he registers the mattress sinking as Han Wenqing settles back into bed.
They wake up with the alarm clock in a few hours time to find that Ye Xiu has shifted again, this time managing to end up with his face smooshed against Han Wenqing’s back, one arm slung around his waist.
Both of them accept it as an unavoidable occurrence and move on.
Ye Xiu is finally made aware of the nature of the relationship between himself and Han Wenqing at a pre-season party held at the very beginning of September.
Ye Xiu thinks it might have been Su Mucheng’s idea originally to gather all the team captains and vice-captains for a pizza and film evening before they had to spend the rest of the year at each other’s throats. She’d somehow persuaded the Glory Alliance to let them use the building which the Chinese Glory Team had used as a training base, and everyone is currently crammed into the recreation room, trying to pick which film to watch.
Ye Xiu isn’t entirely sure what he’s doing here, given that he’s neither a pro team captain or even a professional Glory player anymore, but noone seems to be protesting his presence so he figures he’ll just roll with it. Free food is not something to be turned down after all.
Funnily enough, with the number of people present, no one seems to be making much headway on deciding which film to watch. Bored, Ye Xiu wanders over to where Han Wenqing is lounging against a wall, a plate with a couple of pizza pieces on it in his hand.
“Having fun so far?” Ye Xiu asks him and he receives a nod in acknowledgement.
The smell of melted cheese and freshly-cooked dough wafting through the room is actually making Ye Xiu somewhat hungry, but he can’t be bothered to walk into the kitchen to fetch himself a slice of pizza. Instead, he snaffles a slice from Han Wenqing’s plate when the man is slightly distracted.
Han Wenqing notices just as he takes a bite and immediately shifts his plate further away from Ye Xiu. “Do you mind?” he asks.
“Nope,” Ye Xiu says around of a mouthful of pizza as he leans on the wall next to Han Wenqing, briefly meeting Jiang Botao’s eyes, who’s standing a handful of paces away, frozen in the act of lifting a slice of pizza to his own mouth.
Han Wenqing rolls his eyes. “Why did I bother asking? Go get your own plate if you want any more, stop stealing mine.”
“Don’t be so stingy,” Ye Xiu tells him. “It’s not like you were going to eat this slice, it has pineapple on it. You don’t like pineapple on pizza.”
“I could have picked it up for someone else.”
“Oh, you’ll have to try harder than that, Old Han,” Ye Xiu says, raising an eyebrow at Jiang Botao, who finally realises that he’s staring and turns away hurriedly.
Ye Xiu idly watches Jiang Botao make his was across the room to one of the beanbags on the floor, wondering what on earth had been up with him.
Finishing up his slice of pizza, Ye Xiu is content to remain tucked away in the corner of the room whilst Han Wenqing finishes the remainder of the food on his plate.
Ye Xiu eyes Han Wenqing up and down out of the corner of his eye. The other man’s face is somewhat more relaxed than usual, although that only puts his expression at something approaching neutral, rather than a scowl.
Suddenly feeling mischievous, Ye Xiu reaches up and runs his hand through Han Wenqing’s hair.
Han Wenqing glares at him. “What are you doing?”
“Just checking,” Ye Xiu informs him. “Your hair is softer than it looks.”
Now Han Wenqing just looks bemused.
“And you felt the need to check that because…”
“I just felt like it.”
“Right.” Han Wenqing picks up a glass of water from the floor next to him and takes a sip. “You just felt like it.”
“Mm-hmm,” Ye Xiu agrees placidly. “Oh look, I think the others might have actually decided on a film.”
Sure enough, Yu Wenzhou appears to be setting up the television to stream a film. Ye Xiu isn’t sure what was picked, but he figures he can always slip out if he gets too bored. Ye Xiu heads over to one of the couches as someone dims the lights, and the opening credits starting to play, and folds himself into one side. Han Wenqing follows and seats himself next to him, placing his now empty glass on the floor somewhere around their feet.
As it turns out, the film is an action movie of some sort, complete with plenty of car chase scenes and gratuitous explosions. Ye Xiu honestly doesn’t pay attention to most of it since Han Wenqing ends up dozing off half way through, slumping sideways so that his head ends up resting on Ye Xiu’s shoulder. He’s more focused on trying not to fall asleep himself.
Eventually, the movie ends and most of the the pro players drift off towards their rooms or back to the kitchen for a late night snack. Ye Xiu knows he ought to get up as well, but he’s a bit loathe to disturb Han Wenqing from his sleep.
He’s still debating on what to do when Su Mucheng rises from the chair she’d been curled up in and comes to stand in front of the two of them. They’re the only ones left in the room at this point and Su Mucheng gives Ye Xiu a fond smile.
“You look comfortable,” she teases him.
Ye Xiu raises an eyebrow at her. “With this lump on my shoulder?”
Su Mucheng giggles at him. “Still, I’m glad. You’ve been a lot happier since the two of you started dating.”
She drops a quick kiss on Ye Xiu’s forehead and skips happily from the room, entirely unaware that she’s just turned Ye Xiu’s entire world view upside down.
Dating? Him and Old Han. Dating.
Ye Xiu stares blankly in the direction Su Mucheng had exited, rapidly re-evaluating his actions over the past few months to try to work out what on earth had given his sister the impression that he’d been going out with Han Wenqing.
The longer Ye Xiu thinks about it, the more he realises that he had been spending considerably more time interacting with Han Wenqing than he’d realised, between the meals, and the phone calls, and the gift giving, and the sharing of a bed…
Ye Xiu lets his head thump back against the sofa with a groan.
“Shit,” he says aloud. “We are dating.”
He sits in stunned silence for a handful of seconds further, wondering how it is possible that he hadn’t realised that he is dating his old rival.
Then, an even more important question occurs to him.
He turns to Han Wenqing and starts poking his cheek.
“Wake up, Han Wenqing.”
Eventually Han Wenqing stirs, lifting his head from Ye Xiu’s shoulder. He raises a hand to his mouth to cover a yawn.
“When did the film finish?” Han Wenqing asks.
“Not long ago,” Ye Xiu replies, “but more importantly, did you know that we’ve been dating for the past few months?”
Han Wenqing twists his head around to stare directly into Ye Xiu’s eyes. Ye Xiu sees the same set of conclusions that Ye Xiu himself had made dawn in Han Wenqing’s eyes.
Han Wenqing groans and runs a hand through his hair, leaning back against the sofa. “We’re a pair of morons.” he states.
“Normally, I’d take offense to an insult like that, but, in this case, I’m inclined to agree with you,” Ye Xiu admits regretfully.
Han Wenqing is frowning now, but it’s a thoughtful sort of frown, rather than an ‘I’m contemplating the best way to hide your body’ sort of frown.
“I could be wrong,” Han Wenqing says, “but usually when people date each other, it tends to include a bit more… kissing and stuff.”
“And stuff?” Ye Xiu queries, his mouth twitching.
“Shut up.” Han Wenqing mutters. “I’m trying to be logical about this, you could at least make an effort.”
Ye Xiu sighs. “I can’t say I’ve ever been particularly bothered one way or the other about … kissing and all that sort of stuff,” he says, waving a hand vaguely in the air to attempt to encompass all the sorts of things implied with that.
“Not that I’m necessarily opposed to it,” Ye Xiu adds. “Just that I never really felt the urge to try it with anyone.”
“Can’t say I ever really had the time for a relationship before this, either,” Han Wenqing confides ruefully. His gaze slides sideways and meets Ye Xiu’s. “Do you want to try it?”
“Hmm.” Han Wenqing nods. “If you don’t, that’s fine. I’m happy with what we have.”
Ye Xiu considers it carefully. “I think, if it’s you, I might not mind too much,” he finally concludes.
“Wow,” Han Wenqing says drolly, “way to flatter a guy.”
Ye Xiu sniggers and goes to flick Han Wenqing on the side of his head, but Han Wenqing catches his hand before it can make contact. Maybe it’s the conversation they’re having, maybe it’s the realisations he’s just had, but Ye Xiu is suddenly very aware of the sensation of his hand in Han Wenqing’s and the warmth against his side where the two of them are pressed against each other on the couch.
“Uhm,” he stutters, losing his train of thought entirely.
Judging by the slight flush in Han Wenqing’s cheeks, he’s not the only one.
The silence stretches, and Ye Xiu hates the way it’s almost starting to become awkward -
“Are you going to kiss me or what?” Ye Xiu blurts out.
Han Wenqing huffs a laugh. “Unbelievable,” he says, the corners of his eyes crinkling, and leans forward, gently capturing Ye Xiu’s mouth with his own.
The kiss sends faint shivers down Ye Xiu’s spine and a gentle warmth curling through his chest.
Han Wenqing doesn’t kiss Ye Xiu for very long before he draws back, slightly flushed.
“Well?” he asks, almost cautiously.
“It wasn’t bad, I suppose,” Ye Xiu informs him, a smug smile spreading across his face at the fond glare his comment gets him.
“Wasn’t bad,” Han Wenqing scoffs.
“Shut up and kiss me again,” Ye Xiu says and this time Han Wenqing is the one wearing a smug smile as he shifts across to kiss Ye Xiu again.
Ye Xiu sinks back into the sofa as Han Wenqing deepens the kiss, one hand threading through Han Wenqing’s hair, when the door to the recreation room slams open.
“Oi, guys, we’re getting the ice cream out of the freezer do you - urk!”
Ye Xiu and Han Wenqing break apart and peer over the edge of the sofa. Sun Xiang is frozen in the doorway, mouth half open, Zhou Zekai half a step behind him, equally motionless.
Sun Xiang turns white, then red, in very quick succession.
“You know what, never mind, I’m just gonna leaveyouguysalone,” Sun Xian blurts out before he turns on his heel and drags Zhou Zekai out, slamming the door shut behind him.
Ye Xiu starts laughing. He can’t help it and ends up with his forehead resting on Han Wenqing’s chest as both of them shake with laughter.
“I think we might have scarred him for life,” Ye Xiu says when he’s gotten himself under control and sits back upright.
“Oh well,” Han Wenqing replies, not sounding very sorry about it, as he moves to wrap one arm around Ye Xiu’s waist, tugging him closer. Ye Xiu slumps against Han Wenqing’s side, the most relaxed he can remember being in a long time.
A faint smile pricks the corner of Ye Xiu’s lips as he rests his head on his boyfriend’s shoulder.
He thinks he can live with this.
Sun Xiang and Zhou Zekai appear at the kitchen door, having returned from the recreation room.
“Hey, did Captain Han and Ye Xiu decide if they were coming or not?” Su Mucheng asks, over by one of the freezers.
Sun Xiang doesn’t appear have heard the question as he troops over to kitchen table, sits down, and buries his head in his arms with a faint whine.
Everyone stares at him.
“What happened?” Wang Jiexi asks finally.
Sun Xiang looks up from the crook of his arms, opens his mouth, closes it again, and shakes his head in a wordless denial. Unbelievably, Zhou Zekai is the one who manages to scrape a couple of words together.
“Captain Han... Senior,” he stutters out.
Jiang Botao chokes. “What do you mean you walked in on Han Wenqing and Ye Xiu kissing? ” he squawks when he’s able to draw in air again.
There’s a moment of stunned and slightly horrified silence.
Then Su Mucheng throws up her hands and exclaims, “Finally!”
“I think I regret asking,” Wang Jiexi says faintly, his voice mostly drowned out as the other people in the room explode.
Yu Wenzhou taps his chin thoughtfully. “You know,” he says, “if you take into account the type of personalities that Senior Han and Senior Ye have, and view the last ten years through lens of two somewhat emotionally dense people, their history makes a terrifying amount of sense.”
“Oh my gosh, why would you say that? Urgh, my brain needs bleach!” Huang Shaotian wails, collapsing dramatically onto one of the kitchen chairs.
Unnoticed in the corner, Zhang Xinjie subtly sends a message to the Tyranny QQ chat.
He has a bet to collect on.