“Annoying, annoying, annoying,” Zhangjing muttered to himself as he trudged through the snow-covered grounds. Snow storms were uncommon in this part of the country, so he hadn’t brought any proper snow boots with him and instead had to wear his too small rubber boots. Even more annoying, was that almost every other class on campus was cancelled due to the weather, but just his luck on his only day of the week where he had two classes these were the ones that weren’t cancelled. So here he was, one of the few people out and about making his way to Building C to attend his lecture.
It wasn’t that he didn’t like snow, it was just he would prefer to be playing in it, not having to trudge through it to a class that he felt he shouldn’t have to be attending in this weather. He finally arrived at the building and peeled off both his jackets, his scarf, gloves and hat until his torso was only clad in his pink knit sweater. He touched his cheeks, finding them icy cold, and he knew they were probably flushed pink making him look like a toddler.
A boy appeared and flopped next to him, setting his umbrella down on the floor.
Zhangjing frowned at him. “You brought an umbrella?”
“I always bring umbrellas when it snows,” Yanjun, a guy he knew from his class, said. They had sat next to each other all year since they had done on the first day, and seeing as they got on well kept it up. They never ended up hanging out after class though, because Zhangjing’s second one was ten minutes afterwards and fifteen minutes across campus, which meant he had to run to get there on time.
“Isn’t that weird?” Zhangjing asked. He loved the feeling of getting snowflakes caught in his hair. He’d never seen anyone carrying an umbrella in the snow.
“Snow melts and turns into water and ruins my hair,” Yanjun said. Zhangjing had forgotten, his classmate was super vain.
(Though, privately he though if you had looks like that it was fine to be vain).
To accentuate his point, Yanjun tossed his head back and ran his hand over his soft locks (not quite actually touching them lest he ruin his carefully styled look). Zhangjing couldn’t help but start sniggering, and Yanjun shot him an offended look.
Mimicking him, Zhangjing tossed his slightly curly hair too and gave Yanjun a sultry pout. Yanjun’s offended look melted away as he started smirking too.
Dimples Zhangjing though absent-mindedly to himself, as they smiled at each other. Suddenly feeling slightly flustered at having Yanjun’s whole gaze on him, Zhangjing flickered his eyes to the window. “The sky’s blue, it’s not even snowing,” he said.
“You never know what will happen,” Yanjun hummed, “If my hair gets ruined I might lose my place as the university’s most handsome junior.”
“Who says you’re the university’s most handsome junior?”
“Didn’t you see the online poll?” Yanjun asked him, eyebrows raised in surprise. Zhangjing shook his head, and Yanjun sighed and said, “Well, I won it. I have a reputation to upkeep now.”
Zhangjing wasn’t surprised he had won, to be honest. It was impossible to not notice how handsome Lin Yanjun was, especially when you’d sat next to him all semester.
“So you carry an umbrella in the snow in order to maintain your reputation as most handsome student?”
Yanjun nodded seriously.
Zhangjing tilted his head. “You’d still be the best-looking student in China even if you shaved your head though,” he said.
It was after a moment of silence that Zhangjing realised the other boy hadn’t said anything in response. He suddenly realised what he’d said and looked over to him, and saw that he was beaming.
Embarrassed, he said quickly, “I- I meant-,”
The professor walked in and called for silence, so he never got to take back his words (not that he hadn’t meant them).
He had never been more glad that his second class called for sprinting away as soon as the first one ended, but he didn’t see or hear Yanjun calling after him, disappointed.
He barely paid attention to his second class as his mind buzzed with the fact that he had maybe hit on Yanjun?? Did it count as that? He has essentially called him the most attractive guy in China. That was probably flirting, right? And then Yanjun had smiled at him with all the warmth of the sun making him feel like it wasn’t winter but the height of summer.
It didn’t matter, he wouldn’t see the other boy for another week when they had their class together again, and by then the other boy would have forgotten his dumb blunder. Hopefully. Or maybe not hopefully, and Yanjun was actually into it.
Class ended and he realised he had exactly three sentences written. He looked at Chaoze’s full page of notes. Chaoze saw him looking, and saw his empty lines, and sighed.
Zhangjing pouted at him.
“I’ll let you copy if you never pull that dumb face at me again,” Chaoze said. Zhangjing smiled widely at him. “Why didn’t you take any notes?”
“I was thinking about a boy,” he said.
Chaoze snapped his notebook shut immediately and twisted his whole body to face Zhangjing. “A boy? Tell me more.”
“No,” he said, putting his stuff back in his backpack and picking up all his layers. “There’s nothing to say anyway. I was just thinking about him.”
“For 75 minutes straight?”
Zhangjing blinked in silence. Then he said, “What I choose to do with my brain doesn’t concern you.”
Chaoze laughed at him all the way out of the building.
Even though it hadn’t snowed since last night, most of the campus was still covered in a thick white blanket that hadn’t yet melted. People had shovelled it off the paths now, but all the grass was still hidden underneath it.
It had started snowing again, meaning the snow would soon be thicker again. As snowflakes fell into his hair, Zhangjing couldn’t help but think about Yanjun and his dumb umbrella.
Feeling excited, Zhangjing started tugging at Chaoze sleeve. “Let’s go to the park, I want to build a snowman.”
“How old are you?” Chaoze argued, but let himself be pulled in the direction of the large expanse of snow covered grass where Zhangjing got to work piling it up into a snowman. He found that physical labour helped him forget about anything embarrassing he’d done lately. While he was worried about finding a nose for his snowman, who he’d named Xiao You, he wasn’t thinking about a certain stupidly handsome boy who he’d accidentally flirted with. Wait, now he was thinking about him. He forced Yanjun to the back of his mind and focused back on Xiao You.
His concentration was broken the second time by Chaoze’s phone ringing. He answered it and then turned to Zhangjing.
“I’ve got to go,” Chaoze said apologetically.
“Dinghao needs me, apparently,” he said, “Something about his crush spitting on him. I think I need to go take care of this, see you later.”
Zhangjing pouted but nodded. “I’ll finish Xiao You alone, then.” Chaoze waved goodbye as he started jogging across the park, talking consolingly into his phone.
Abandoned, Zhangjing continued patting snow onto the snowman. “My only friend,” he said forlornly to it.
“That’s sad,” Yanjun said, and Zhangjing almost fell face first into the snow.
He spun around and pushed his shoulder. “Don’t sneak up on people,” he said, but he wasn’t really annoyed. In fact, seeing the taller boy was making his insides warm up considerably. He had his jacket and a fluffy scarf on now, but Zhangjing noticed he didn’t have a hat or earmuffs on. His ears therefore were pink with cold.
“Is protecting your hair really worth getting frost bite and losing your ears?” Zhangjing asked him.
“Yes,” Yanjun said immediately, before grinning down at the shorter boy. He looked over to Xiao You. “Are you going to introduce me to your only friend?”
Zhangjing huffed and flicked him. “Xiao You has been there for me through good and bad times, don’t disrespect him.”
Yanjun bowed deeply to Xiao You. “I am so sorry for insulting you, sir.”
Zhangjing couldn’t help but laugh, bringing his hand up to his mouth to try and suppress it.
Yanjun looked pleased with himself at the reaction as he stood up straight again. This was when Zhangjing saw he was holding his umbrella over his head, as snowflakes fell around them.
“You’re really using that umbrella?” he asked laughingly, thinking Yanjun looked just slightly dumb.
“But my hair looks good, right?” he asked, and then winked. He actually winked.
Taking a few seconds to compose himself, Zhangjing then said, “It looks okay.” Yanjun stuck out his lower lip, and it took the force of the gods for Zhangjing to not reach over and run his thumb over it. He quickly turned away and continued scooping up snow to add to Xiao You, but the snowman was pretty much finished by this point.
Yanjun stood distractingly close to his shoulder, just close enough that Zhangjing could smell his flowery shampoo, which almost made him drop the clod of snow in his hand.
He stood back to admire his handywork.
“It looks good,” the taller boy said.
Inordinately pleased, Zhangjing shrugged and put his cold hands into his pockets. “He’s a bit shabby, actually.”
“He’s cute, like you.”
He glanced shyly over to Yanjun, who was still stood so close to him. He said, “What are you doing today?”
“Nothing,” was Yanjun’s rapid reply.
“Come get hot chocolate with me,” he said, and Yanjun lit up.
The next day there was still snow everywhere, but Zhangjing was buzzing with warmth from the day before. He’d sat with Yanjun in the café for two hours before they finally left and walked together back to the dorms. It had stopped snowing so Yanjun’s umbrella swung by his side, and his hair was still flawless. Zhangjing, in a non-creepy way, took note of which building Yanjun lived in before they waved goodbye and went into their own rooms.
His good mood wasn’t even broken by the dramatic Dinghao who was still traumatised by one of the kids from his theatre class accidentally spitting on him.
His classes the next day were all cancelled, like reasonable professors did when it was snowing like this, but the library was open and he’d been set a difficult essay the day before in his class with Yanjun, so he put his too-small boots back on and trekked out into the snow.
It was after he found a good seat by the window and had taken his jacket off he realised he was still cold. There was a chill in the library that should have been staying outside. He looked around and saw that similarly everyone else still had their coats on that were studying indoors.
He put his back on, but left his gloves off because he couldn’t write with gloves on, but then his hands were all cold and stiff so he couldn’t even write comfortably. So, annoyed at having made the journey all the way out there for nothing he stood again, collected his books and left.
On his way out he ran into none other than Lin Yanjun again, who he seemed to be seeing everywhere lately. He didn’t mind at all.
Similarly, Yanjun beamed upon seeing him. “Zhangjing!”
“Good morning,” he smiled back.
“Were you leaving?” Yanjun asked, gesturing to the library.
“It’s freezing in there, I was gonna go back to my dorm,” he explained. Yanjun nodded slowly.
They stood in the chilly air for a moment more, staring at each other wordlessly but each trying to think of something other to say. When it got a little too weirdly long, Zhangjing finally said, “I’ll get going then.”
“Wait!” and he turned back, “Are you doing the essay we got set yesterday?” Zhangjing nodded and Yanjun continued, “We should do it together. My room is really warm, too!”
Zhangjing’s own room was pretty warm, and the essays were meant to be solo projects, but he immediately said, “That sounds great!” and Yanjun’s yet again warm, handsome smile made it all worth it.
Yanjun’s dorm room was tidy but still boyish and full of character. As promised, it was toasty warm and Zhangjing felt the sudden need to lay down and take a nap, but that would have been super weird even for him so he just set his books down and took his coat off. Yanjun took it from him and hung it on the hook, and put his dumb umbrella against the wall.
There was only one desk chair so he flopped onto his bed to let Zhangjing use it.
“Do you want to listen to some music?” he asked, pulling out his iPod as Zhangjing set out his pens. “I like Ed Sheeran lately.” He started playing Perfect.
“That music video’s set in the snow!” Zhangjing said excitedly, “How fitting!”
His head shot around when he heard Yanjun start singing, in a soft angelic voice that made his chest flutter. “I found a love for me, darling just dive right in, follow me lead.”
He stopped after one line, lying back staring at the ceiling.
“I didn’t know you sang,” Zhangjing said in wonder.
“I prefer rap, kind of,” he said.
“I love your voice,” he said sincerely, and saw the corners of Yanjun’s mouth turn upwards.
He sat up, looking at Zhangjing brightly. “You sing too, I know you can, I hear you humming in class,” Yanjun said eagerly.
“I don’t know English that well.”
“Come on, please?”
So Zhangjing sang the chorus, shy so still looking out the window, so he didn’t notice Yanjun staring at him like he hung the moon.
They ended up not doing any studying, instead Zhangjing joined him on the bed as they listened to Ed Sheeran and chatted and laughed, as Zhangjing felt his affection for the other boy grow and grow until he felt like he might never leave this room.
He had to, in the end, but not before he wrapped his arms around Yanjun and hugged him tightly, trying not to think about how he could have stayed there for a lifetime.
By the time they had their next class together, their relationship had almost completely changed. Suddenly Chaoze was being near neglected as Zhangjing started texting and meeting up with Yanjun, having unproductive study sessions and instead lying on his bed close enough that their sides were touching and talking about their lives.
It was sunny when he left his building to go to class, though the air was still bitingly cold. The snow had melted somewhat by now, leaving behind slush and puddles. He walked carefully so that he wouldn’t slip, before breaking into a run to catch up with Yanjun who he saw walking ahead of him.
He flung himself at his side and linked their arms together, laughing at Yanjun’s surprised expression.
“Are you seriously still carrying that umbrella?” he asked, “The snow’s all melted.”
“You can never trust the weather,” Yanjun said, squeezing his arm warmly. Zhangjing pressed himself closer to his side, wondering if this was a casual thing Yanjun did with other friends or if he was glowing as happily inside as Zhangjing was.
A gust of wind blew over him, and Zhangjing tutted in annoyance at himself as he realised he left his gloves at home. He put one hand in his pocket and tucked the other into the crook of Yanjun’s elbow where he was holding it. “Let’s walk quickly, I’m going to get frost bite,” he said, trying to pull Yanjun along.
But the other kept walking at the slower pace, “We’ll be too early if we hurry.”
Zhangjing frowned, “We can sit for a while then.”
“Let’s just walk together some more,” Yanjun insisted. And then Zhangjing realised the other boy didn’t want to hurry because he wanted to walk arm in arm for longer.
So he willingly gave up, clung to Yanjun a bit tighter and smiled secretly into his scarf.
Class was very distracting after that. He was suddenly noticing every one of Yanjun’s movements, his eyes drawn whenever he put his pen down, scratched his neck or- reached over and put his hand on Zhangjing’s knee. He jolted and his eyes snapped to Yanjun, but the other was acting nonchalant, tracing small circles onto his jeans. Privately a tiny bit thrilled, Zhangjing didn’t say anything.
But then Yanjun leant over and whispered, “Your hand looks cold, let me warm it up for you,” and took his hand in between his own, encasing it in his warmth. Zhangjing was sure his face must have gone bright red. But to be fair, his hand had been cold, and Yanjun’s was warm. So who was he to pull his hand away if he was being provided a service? So he squeezed back, and then got the pleasure of Yanjun’s cheeks going pink as well.
Even though Yanjun had probably needed his hand for writing with, he didn’t let go for the whole rest of the lecture. They sat with their hands linked under the desk, neither looking at the other because despite their touching skin they’d suddenly gone shy.
The class seemed to pass in seconds, and then he had to let go of his hand because he had to hurry to his next class.
“Why do you always leave so quickly?” Yanjun asked him as he fumbled with his belongings.
“My next one is far away but starts in ten minutes,” he explained, shoving his pencil case.
“When does it end?”
Before Zhangjing could reply his phone dinged with an email. He frowned to see it was from his professor, his next class had been cancelled due to weather.
“My class got cancelled because of the snow,” he said, “But it’s melted?”
They looked out of the window, and that was when they saw the blizzard. “Oh,” Zhangjing said. They filed out of the lecture hall and into the hallway. One student opened the doors, and gusts of wind and snow blew in.
Some of the other students elected to wait it out, and sat on the benches outside the lecture hall on their phones, but Lin Yanjun with a proud smirk opened up his umbrella and offered his arm to Zhangjing.
Smiling back, he took his arm and they walked out into the cold.
It felt strange that only one week earlier all he had though about Yanjun was that he was okay to talk to and nice to look at, but now all Zhangjing wanted to do was hold onto him forever. Especially seeing as in this moment the closer he stood to the other boy the less snow ended up on his head.
“Am I still weird for carrying an umbrella?” Yanjun said smugly.
Very calmly, Zhangjing reached down, picked up a handful of snow and dumped it onto Yanjun’s perfect hair.
His jaw dropped in shock as Zhangjing started laughing uncontrollably.
“Unfair! And as I was being a gentleman!” he exclaimed, scooping the snow off his head and throwing it at Zhangjing. Still smiling wolfishly, Zhangjing got onto his tip toes and dusted the rest of the snow off of Yanjun’s head.
He patted it twice. “Still handsome,” he said, looking up into Yanjun’s eyes. “So you didn’t need the umbrella after all.”
“Maybe not,” Yanjun whispered, staring back at him softly. Then he said, “Zhangjing, your lips look cold.”
“Do you want me to warm them up for you?”
So Yanjun dropped the umbrella onto the floor and wrapped both hands around Zhangjing’s waist instead, kissing him firmly in the middle of the snowstorm as his hair got soaked.