His last day was a Wednesday. The crew crowded around him, a box of flowers was pushed into his hands, and there were cameras everywhere.
He returned hugs, smiled at people, and felt like he was drifting, pieces of Zhu Yi Long dispersing into the air; Shen Wei was wrapped tightly around him and Ye Zun danced across his skin.
His eyes skimmed the crowd, searching for the lanky figure that had been with him for three months, looking for a man he had waited ten thousand years for.
But Bai Yu had finished filming the day before, and Zhu Yi Long could feel Shen Wei’s grief and longing on his skin.
He blinked in realisation. Oh. This was going to be a problem.
Splayed out like a starfish on his hotel bed and no longer dressed like Ye Zun, he stared blankly at the ceiling.
Zhao Yun Lan. Bai Yu. Like afterimages of one another, they haunted his thoughts. Shen Wei wanted with an aching need, and Ye Zun coveted with jealous curiosity. Zhu Yi Long just wanted to call his new buddy and play games.
This was how it went after every role, his brain and body engaged with ghosts. It took time to lay them to rest, before he was the only one left in his head.
He rolled onto his side, grabbed his phone from the bedside table, and flicked it open to send a message to Peng Guan Ying.
Jie Jie: Mei Mei, I need actor intervention.
The response was almost immediate.
Mei Mei: Don't be an idiot. It’s not real. Also, a BL drama, really? You thought that was going to be easy? [EMOJI: UNAMUSED]
Jie Jie: It’s about brotherhood.
Mei Mei: BS. Also, I thought you were waiting for me to be ready? We could have had it all. [EMOJI: STRONG ARM BICEP] We would have dominated weibo and bilibili. Now we’ll never know because you starred in a chopped up BL drama with no money. Seriously, what are your life choices?
Zhu Yi Long frowned at his phone. Maybe he should have waited when Ye Zun wasn’t so close to the surface. Because skinning and eating a certain someone’s tongue sounded reasonable right about now.
Jie Jie: I wanted the role. Shen Wei is something I’ve never done before.
Mei Mei: Xiao Zhuzhu, it isn't real. You’re a pro at this. Whatever your character is feeling, it isn't feelings for a real person.
Jie Jie: It’s hard. I’ve been dying for him for a week.
Mei Mei: You idiot.
The little dots on the screen told him Peng Guan Ying wasn’t done yet. Zhu Yi Long rolled onto his back.
Mei Mei: We both know how this works. You need time to process and let it go. Eat, sleep, and when you wake up, start doing things Xiao Zhu want to do. Or get online proper so that I can kick your ass.
Zhu Yi Long snorted at the thought of Peng Guan Ying being able to kick his ass, and turned off his phone.
In the morning, he could feel Shen Wei’s need to get up and start the day, to wrap himself in clothes and his stupid spectacles to become harmless Professor Shen. Zhu Yi Long pulled the blankets over his head and went back to sleep.
He woke up sometime past midday, and there was a text from Bai Yu waiting on his phone: “Wrap party tomorrow night. See you there!!”
He didn’t answer. Zhao Yun Lan would have continued pestering Shen Wei.
Bai Yu didn’t text again.
He spent several hours trash talking with Peng Guan Ying and completely murdering bad guys with machine guns and grenades.
He dressed absentmindedly for the wrap party, and then had to change because he had put on a vest and suit pants combo, and then had tried to adjust his non-existent spectacles. It was getting a bit ridiculous.
Zhu Yi Long liked loose clothing that was functional and comfortable. Shen Wei liked order and straight lines. Ye Zun muttered at the back of his mind about boring fashion choices.
He pulled on loose jeans and a large white shirt.
The peanut gallery could shut the fuck up.
At the wrap party, he attempted to blend into the wall, which was rather hard considering the walls were black and he was wearing white. Peng Guan Ying was right, what were his life choices.
He knew these people, he was comfortable with them, but he couldn't seem to reach out without smiling like Shen Wei, or worse, like Ye Zun. He had just gotten them to like him, he really didn’t want to scare off the nice people, again.
He took a sip of his drink, nodded casually to everyone, and prayed that they didn't try to start a deep conversation with him. He could maybe string together three sentences without sounding like Shen Wei or Ye Zun at the moment; life was so hard.
A sudden arm around his neck almost sent him stumbling. He righted himself and even managed to save his drink. Success.
Bai Yu shouted into his ear, “Long-ge!!!! What are you doing here alone?” Bai Yu started pulling him to the other side of the room where he knew they had set up the karaoke machine. He was wearing his stupid hat and glasses, and a mustard monstrosity that Zhao Yun Lan wouldn't have been caught dead in.
To save himself from pulling a muscle in his neck, he followed.
They sang too many songs, and there were moments when he could feel Shen Wei’s lovesick smile breaking through when he looked at Zhao Yun Lan. Then Bai Yu would be Bai Yu, and the illusion was gone.
It was hard to be in love when Bai Yu was getting on his nerves, jabbing him in the arm and forcing him to sing songs.
Okay, so the singing was kind of fun, and he managed a few good jabs back at Bai Yu.
Shen Wei was bewildered, and Ye Zun wanted to join in.
Yeah, not going to happen.
Bai Yu offered to take him back to his hotel. Zhu Yi Long thought about declining for a split second, and then nodded in agreement.
They sat together in the back while Bai Yu’s team sat at the front. “So, you okay?” Bai Yu asked, slight concern in his voice.
“Huh.” Maybe the blank look could get him out of this conversation. Why had he taken up the offer for a ride again? Oh yeah, because he had sent his team home early and hadn’t really wanted to try and get back to the hotel on his own.
Bai Yu poked him in the arm, twice. “Don’t pull that confused face with me, you big liar. What’s gotten into you tonight?”
Maybe if he blinked a few more times it would work.
“Stop it!” Bai Yu slapped him on the back, hard. “That only works in interviews and on your fans. Be honest. I thought we had each other’s backs?”
Dammit, now Bai Yu looked slightly hurt. And it wasn’t anything to be too ashamed of, Bai Yu would get it.
“I’m still processing this.” Zhu Yi Long tapped the side of his head twice. “Shen Wei’s in here, and Ye Zun likes to make comments. And being with you, well, it blurs the lines a bit.” He shrugged helplessly.
Bai Yu looked at him with some bemusement. “You get way too deep into your roles.”
A moment of silence, then Bai Yu looked directly at him, giant grin on his face. “Does that mean you’re going to build me a shrine?”
He punched Bai Yu in the arm hard.
Bai Yu dropped him off at the hotel, all the while complaining about how badly his arm was going to bruise. Zhu Yi Long had no sympathy for the idiot.
He was rolled up in his blankets and almost asleep when his phone beeped. He grabbed at it clumsily and looked blearily at the screen.
Xiao Bai: Zhao Yun Lan loves Shen Wei.
Zhu Yi Long felt Shen Wei’s grief and longing deep in his bones.
Xiao Bai: Bai Yu is Zhu Yi Long’s friend.
A small, sad smile.
Xiao Bai: Ye Zun is a dick though. Forget him.
A laugh broke out of him, and with it, certainty firmed.
Long-ge: Shen Wei loves Zhao Yun Lan more than the moon and stars.
Long-ge: Zhu Yi Long thinks Bai Yu is too delicate.
Zhu Yi Long pulled the blankets around himself and went back to sleep, ignoring all further messages.