Wei Ying will admit that this isn’t one of his better decisions. But then again, when has he ever made a good decision?
Consider this: they’re walking along the path to the campus Starbucks, him and Jiang Cheng and Nie Huaisang. Consider this, also: Jiang Cheng snickers at something Nie Huaisang shows him on his shiny new Apple phone and turns to Wei Ying to bully him about it, inevitably. Jiang Cheng does nothing but bully Wei Ying. One of these days Wei Ying is going to do something about his terror of a younger brother.
“Heh, I bet you’d just fall on your back if you tried to do this.” Jiang Cheng says, swiping the screen of his own (dusty, old Android) phone.
It’s an old meme from some American television show, Wei Ying has seen it around before, but he had never paid much attention to it. A man is running to another man, carrying coffee, and jumping into his arms, to great comedic effect - or at least, he thinks it should be comedy. It could be from a murder mystery show, he never knows.
Nie Huaisang titters behind his fan and nods. “Yeah, Wei-xiong, you’d be crazy enough to do this, but nobody would catch you.”
“Huh??” Wei Ying says, offended by his friends’ lack of faith in him. “Of course someone would catch me! Jiang Cheng, Chengcheng, my sweet baby brother, you’d catch me, right…?”
Jiang Cheng shoots him a stinkeye and Wei Ying sighs dramatically. “No use in wasting a good cup of coffee, idiot!” Jiang Cheng grumbles. “Don’t look at me like that, you know I love coffee.”
“More than your own brother?!” Wei Ying gasps. “What about the medical costs that will come from me falling and breaking a bone because you didn’t catch me!! How unkind!”
“What medical costs…” Nie Huaisang chimes in. “You’ve never broken a bone before, your body is like - practically invulnerable! I can punch you in the side and you won’t feel anything!” And just to get his point across, Nie Huaisang does actually punch Wei Ying in the side.
“Ow.” Wei Ying says, completely deadpan. “I am in pain. I am so hurt. Huaisang, really, your punches are just too weak for me to feel them!”
Nie Huaisang glares at him.
“What, it’s true! Maybe you should take Mingjue-ge’s advice and sign up for a karate class or something.” Wei Ying glances at his brother, still scowling at his phone, and winks. “You know, Jiang Cheng is taking a taekwondo class right now - have you considered signing up for that one?”
“Wei-xiong!” Nie Huaisang hisses. “No!”
Ever since Wei Ying has found out about Nie Huaisang’s crush on his brother, he’s been trying to set up Jiang Cheng and Nie Huaisang almost daily. He can’t comprehend why it isn’t working, but by god he will make this work. As mean as his little brother is, Jiang Cheng still deserves happiness!!
“What are you guys even talking about?” Jiang Cheng says.
Nie Huaisang turns a hilarious (at least to Wei Ying) shade of pink and squeaks out, “Nothing! Just who Wei-xiong would do that trust jump thing with!”
It’s Wei Ying’s turn to glare at Nie Huaisang.
“Oh? Sounds interesting, is the answer ‘nobody’?”
“How rude!” Wei Ying huffs. “Of course not! I’m sure there’s somebody who would catch me if I fell!”
“And waste a cup of coffee?? No way I believe that.” Jiang Cheng crosses his arms and goes back to scrolling on his phone, evidently done with this discussion and convinced Wei Ying can’t find anybody to catch him.
Which, in essence, is true. Wei Ying himself doesn’t believe anybody would catch him. He isn’t that important of a person to most people, and even his friends (even to the people who matter) would let him fall, probably. It says more about his own status rather than any lack of trust between them, honestly, because Wei Ying certainly doesn’t think of himself as anyone near special, and he certainly isn’t either.
Still! He would like to pretend, at least, that he believes there is somebody.
(If soft golden eyes and elegant fingers float to the forefront of his mind, he doesn’t think much of it. After all, who would believe that Lan Zhan would catch him? Lan Zhan probably wouldn’t give him a second glance.
…He doesn’t know why he wants Lan Zhan to care so much, but it hurts knowing that Lan Zhan doesn’t. It’s a foolish, fanciful thought that he entertains - Lan Zhan catching him, hands warm on his body, Lan Zhan looking at him, Lan Zhan caring about him. Maybe they’ve been getting along better this past year, but that doesn’t change the fact that for a good two years Lan Zhan detested him.
His chest clenches at the thought of Lan Zhan disliking him, which should not be happening. Wei Ying shakes his head clear of those thoughts before they can turn in a direction he would not like to explore, at all.)
“Okay, if I can prove to you that somebody will catch me, then you owe me a cup of coffee!” Wei Ying says boldly, trying to speak louder than the voices in his head.
Jiang Cheng pauses just to smirk at him knowingly. How infuriating. “You’re on. Have fun breaking a rib!” He says, in the tone of voice that most people would reserve for saying good luck at a competition, or have a safe trip.
“Wei-xiong, I’ll be on standby! I’ll be ready to call medical assistance!” Nie Huaisang says enthusiastically.
“Why don’t you try to catch me, huh?”
“You said it yourself - I’m not that strong! If I try that, we’ll both wind up breaking a limb. Maybe even three.”
Perhaps this is Wei Ying’s comeuppance for every single thing he teased Jiang Cheng and Nie Huaisang over. Which is doubly infuriating, since he doesn’t know what he did to deserve this kind of treatment (a total lie. He remembers all the times he tried to disastrously matchmake the two of them.)
They round the corner to the campus Starbucks and lo and behold, sitting elegantly on one of the smooth stone benches is Lan Zhan. He has a cup of iced tea in one hand, his phone in the other, and his glasses are slipping down his nose.
Wei Ying wants to bounce over to him and push them back up. He wants to grin at him and get a small, fond sigh in return, he wants Lan Zhan to talk to him, wants Lan Zhan’s eyes on him.
He does none of those. Instead, he turns to Jiang Cheng with a grin and points at Lan Zhan, who is still blissfully unaware of Wei Ying’s plans. Nie Huaisang catches on instantly and groans.
“Wei Ying, what -“ Jiang Cheng starts. Then he looks at Nie Huaisang, then at Lan Zhan, and back at Wei Ying. “Wei Ying, no. That is genuinely a terrible idea. Did something happen to your brain while you were a baby??”
“Wei Ying yes!”
“Wei-xiong, really, no…” Nie Huaisang says apprehensively. He has his phone out anyways, probably to record Wei Ying’s inevitable humiliation. What a great friend he is.
“Jiang Cheng!! Just - trust me! If I run and jump at Lan Zhan, he will most surely catch me in his arms!”
Wei Ying gives them both a thumbsup and winks at Nie Huaisang’s camera. Before Jiang Cheng can reach out and physically stop him, Wei Ying is running towards Lan Zhan.
“Lan Zhaaaaaan!!!” He shouts, drawing the attention of everybody outside the campus Starbucks, but most importantly Lan Zhan himself. “Incoming!!”
And then he sucks in a shaky breath, takes one last step, and jumps.
Three things happen at the same time - Lan Zhan stands up, surprise evident in the graceful arch of his brows. His hand clenches around his drink cup. And Wei Ying squeezes his eyes shut.
Whatever happens will happen. Here’s the thing, too - he doesn’t expect Lan Zhan to catch him. He fully expects to fall. He trusts Lan Zhan, but really, they aren’t as close as he wishes, Lan Zhan isn’t that kind. Lan Zhan doesn’t feel that way towards him.
He falls, of course.
If somebody would catch him, that would be nice. Wei Ying just doesn’t believe anybody would.
Which is why, when he hears the clatter of a plastic cup being thrown to the floor and feels himself being swept up into a princess carry, he squeaks and clenches his fists tighter, thinking it is only his imagination.
Warmth seeps through Wei Ying’s clothes, at the bend of his knees and on his back. He still feels weightless, like he’s falling, but this time he’s being swept up in a circle, carried as though he was as light as a sheet of paper.
“Lan Zhan!” He gasps. Slowly, he cracks open his eyes.
Lan Zhan’s beautiful face is bent over him, his glasses still slipping down his nose adorably. His hands hold Wei Ying up, fingers splayed over his back, and wow is Lan Zhan strong, Wei Ying can see how his muscles shift under the fabric of his shirt as he holds Wei Ying and that is distracting as hell -
“Wei Ying.” Lan Zhan says. He sounds surprised, a bit, but there’s a honeyed note of fondness in his voice that has Wei Ying’s face flushing. “You… are you okay?”
“Lan Zhan!! You caught me!!”
“Yes?” Lan Zhan says, like it’s as simple as that. “I will always catch you.”
Wei Ying snuggles into Lan Zhan’s chest, feeling warm and safe and protected with Lan Zhan’s arms around him, Lan Zhan saying those kinds of things to him, Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan.
Lan Zhan, I really like you, you know? You’re wonderful.
He grins up at Lan Zhan and giggles when Lan Zhan stares back, unblinking. Lan Zhan doesn’t set him down on the ground, he’s letting Wei Ying cling to him like a koala, and Wei Ying honestly doesn’t want to ever leave the warmth of Lan Zhan’s arms. He likes it here.
He thinks that he likes Lan Zhan. Maybe more than he’d anticipated. He thinks that maybe he loves Lan Zhan, has loved him since before he could know.
“Wei Ying, did you not think I would catch you?”
“Well… not that, I just - I just wanted you to look at me, I guess. And it worked!” Wei Ying says, before Lan Zha can give him a disappointed look. “See, you’re looking at me right now, Lan Er-gege!”
Lan Zhan’s throat works and it’s a few long seconds before, slowly, clearly, he says, “I am always looking at you, Wei Ying. I… I cannot look away.” He sounds like he’s confessing something. Wei Ying would really love to ask him what it is, but unfortunately Wei Ying’s words don’t seem to work right now. He can only stare at Lan Zhan and think, I love him so much.
I love him. Lan Zhan.
Wei Ying feels his smile melting into something far more fond and loving than he would like it to be. Lan Zhan just caught him! He can’t freak Lan Zhan out by smiling at him creepily! But he can’t stop the blush creeping up his cheeks, or how he smiles automatically when Lan Zhan tilts his head, never once taking his eyes off him, and - he just really loves Lan Zhan.
Lan Zhan doesn’t set him down or recoil in disgust, though. Instead, his lips twitch up into a small smile of his own, and he laughs.
He laughs. Lan Zhan laughed, just now, nothing more than a bright sound and a huff of air, but still so cute. Wei Ying made Lan Zhan laugh.
His job here is done, mostly because Wei Ying can’t function properly anymore, not with Lan Zhan’s clear laugh echoing in his ears and the incomparable beauty of Lan Zhan’s smile. So when Lan Zhan leans down and presses his lips to Wei Ying’s forehead, Wei Ying really malfunctions.
“Oh.” Lan Zhan says, when Wei Ying only sputters and stares up at him wide-eyed. The touch of his lips tingles on Wei Ying’s skin. Wei Ying never knew he could want something this bad. “I am sorry - I did not mean to do that -“
“No!” Wei Ying interrupts.
Lan Zhan flinches.
“No, don’t apologize - Lan Zhan, you just - you just kissed me, so…” Wei Ying squirms under Lan Zhan’s intense stare. “That means you - like me? You… love me?”
“Yes.” Lan Zhan says, more of an exhale than anything else. “I love Wei Ying. I have loved you since I can remember.”
Wei Ying’s heart beats in time to Lan Zhan’s words, and he reaches up to cup Lan Zhan’s face. Between his hands, he can feel Lan Zhan’s skin heating up the longer Wei Ying stares at him, the closer their lips get.
“And I love Lan Zhan.” Wei Ying whispers. Their foreheads bump against each other, and Wei Ying feels dizzy from the proximity, from having Lan Zhan’s lips right in front of him, plush and pink and still in a gentle smile. “Do something about this, Lan Zhan, you kissed me first… don’t leave me hanging.”
Lan Zhan tips his head forward infinitesimally. Wei Ying nearly shouts in frustration when he doesn’t kiss him - how much longer does he have to wait? How much more torture, having Lan Zhan so close and yet not quite kissing yet?
So Wei Ying closes the distance between them and holds Lan Zhan’s face reverently as he brushes his lips against Lan Zhan’s. A gentle touch, a soft pressure, only a few seconds long and yet Wei Ying’s fingers tremble against hot skin, his stomach curling with a delicious warmth. He gasps against Lan Zhan’s lips when he pulls back and moves his hands to Lan Zhan’s nape, his back, pulling him closer so that Wei Ying can kiss him again and again and again.
He’s drowning in the slide of their lips against each other, the wet heat of Lan Zhan’s mouth. Wei Ying bites back a whimper when Lan Zhan traces the line of his lip with his tongue and grazes his teeth on his bottom lip - softly, gently, teasingly. His head is pounding and all he can feel is Lan Zhan. He’s still being carried, and he wants Lan Zhan’s hands on his skin and in his hair, rucking up his shirt and on his ass, so he pulls back again and thumps his head against Lan Zhan’s shoulder, taking a few seconds to get his breath back.
"Lan Zhan!” He says, delighted. “I didn’t know you were such a good kisser!”
Lan Zhan’s ears turn an adorable shade of scarlet. “That - you - Wei Ying! ” He stammers. Truly adorable, Wei Ying thinks fondly. That’s my Lan Zhan.
“Yes, me! Lan Zhan, quick, put me down, I need to tell you something! It’s a grave emergency!”
Lan Zhan sets him down, and Wei Ying bounces on the balls of his toes, still feeling lightheaded from that kiss. As absorbed in staring at Lan Zhan as he is, he doesn’t notice Jiang Cheng stalking towards him. “Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan, I love you!! Really, really do!! So much!”
A second later, Jiang Cheng punches him in the arm. Lan Zhan cuts between them before Wei Ying can retaliate, so Wei Ying settles for clutching Lan Zhan’s shoulder and glaring at Jiang Cheng.
“What was that for?!” Wei Ying hisses, outraged that Jiang Cheng dare interrupt his romantic love confession to Lan Zhan.
“For making Lan Zhan waste his tea!! And making out in front of all - all these people!” Jiang Cheng waves his hand at the 4 other people in the vicinity, all of whom have long since gone back to their studying. “Idiot! Dumbass brother!”
“Hey!! You should be happy for me!”
“We are!!” Nie Huaisang chimes in. He’s still recording them. “But our eyes, we need bleach after seeing you make out with Lan Zhan, please do that somewhere else! I’m glad you finally got together but really?”
Wei Ying just rolls his eyes and wraps an arm around Lan Zhan’s waist. “Whatever! You owe me a coffee, Chengcheng, don’t forget! Lan Zhan, let’s go back to your dorm, come on! We have… important things to discuss.”
Jiang Cheng gags. How immature can his younger brother get?
Lan Zhan seems perfectly happy to lean into Wei Ying’s touch and gather his belongings, choosing to silently watch Wei Ying argue with Jiang Cheng while he rests his head on Wei Ying’s shoulder. Eventually, Jiang Cheng decides that trying to win back his cup of coffee isn’t worth it, because he flips Wei Ying the middle finger and retreats back to Nie Huaisang’s side.
“Don’t text me later!” Jiang Cheng scowls. “If I think about you I’m gonna have a flashback to you and Lan Zhan being shameless in public.”
“Ooh, Chengcheng,” Wei Ying says, because he can never resist teasing his brother, “How unsupportive of you! Aren’t you happy Lan Zhan and I are together now? Aren’t you happy I have a boyfriend - wait, Lan Zhan, are we boyfriends?”
“Mn.” Lan Zhan murmurs, his head still tucked into the curve of Wei Ying’s neck.
“See, be happy your older brother has found happiness!! Chengcheng!” He whines.
“Fuck off! Congratulations, but fuck off! Go be shameless in private! Do you have no sense of moral decorum??” Jiang Cheng grabs Nie Huaisang’s arm and stalks away from Wei Ying and Lan Zhan. “Goodbye! Don’t let me see you making out ever again!”
“No promises!” Wei Ying calls. “Lan Zhan, let’s go back already - Lan Zhan?”
“Not wasting… the tea. Jiang Cheng said I was wasting my cup of tea on you.” Lan Zhan’s gold eyes flash as he looks at Wei Ying. “When it comes to you, there is no waste, I would throw everything and anything aside to catch you. I… I am here, Wei Ying.”
“Lan Zhan.” He gasps. The heat in his stomach uncoils and stretches leisurely as Lan Zhan runs his hand down Wei Ying’s arm and twines their fingers together, before bringing his hand up to his lips and kissing Wei Ying’s knuckles softly.
“I am here.” Lan Zhan repeats.
Wei Ying drags him into a short, fierce hug, relishing in the way Lan Zhan’s arms wrap around him automatically.
“I know. Now come on, if I’m not kissing you within five minutes I think I might physically explode and I don’t want to do it here -"
Lan Zhan tugs on his hand and gives him a peck on the lips, which is nice - it really is - but he wants more, he wants Lan Zhan, and they’re still standing outside the campus Starbucks, which isn’t an optimal place to do what Wei Ying wants to do.
This time, Lan Zhan is the one to say, “I know. Wei Ying, let’s go.”
They barely make it back to Lan Zhan’s dorm room, but really, as long as Wei Ying has Lan Zhan in his arms and Lan Zhan’s lips on his, he couldn’t care less.
I’m here, huh… he thinks in between long kisses and hands weaving through his hair. I’ll catch you.
He didn’t think anybody would catch him if he fell. Hoping for anything else was just wishful thinking.
Except Lan Zhan is here, Lan Zhan is holding him, Lan Zhan caught him and he will catch him, time and again.
Wei Ying has many, many words to say, but the best way to convey these feelings bubbling up inside his heart is to kiss Lan Zhan, deep and hot and slow, and so he does. He kisses Lan Zhan again and again, Lan Zhan kisses him back, and all is right with the world.