Tang Yi was just over a year into his three-year sentence.
He missed Shao Fei. Missed him with an ache that seeped deep into his bones, right to his core.
Although Shao Fei visited as often as he possibly could; not being able to see his smiling face everyday, to wake up next to him, to hold him in his arms, to hold his hand, to cook dinner together, to sit in comfortable silence, to kiss those pouty lips, to fall asleep together, to talk to him whenever he wanted, to touch him… it was hard, really hard.
Laying on his side, Tang Yi stretched out on his stiff bed, one arm under his head as he gazed at the photo of Shao Fei he had stuck to the wall right beside his pillow.
Shao Fei had a big soft smile plastered across his beaming face, big round eyes full of familiar warmth.
Every time he looked at it, Tang Yi couldn’t help but feel a small bit of ease push through the dull ache in his heart. It was a comforting stillness that only Shao Fei could ever bring him.
Letting out a soft sigh Tang Yi thought back to the day Shao Fei had given it to him.
At that time Tang Yi had been a few months into his sentence. His behavior had been more than exemplary, so his visits were no longer in the initial glass partitioned hall, but now in an open room dotted with simple round white tables. Inmates could sit and chat with their visitors in the open, without the oppressing barrier of thick plexiglass between them.
Sitting at a table together, Shao Fei had taken a small group of photos out of his jacket pocket and placed them on the table.
Unusually unsure of himself he slid them across the table, “here” he almost mumbled as he placed them in front of Tang Yi, “I thought you might like some photos of everyone, since well... anyway, Hong Ye put some together and asked me to give them to you...” he rambled on in an attempt to mask his initial awkwardness.
As Shao Fei continued on about nothing in particular, Tang Yi glanced at the small stack of photos on the table. On top was a picture of his sister and Dao Yi. Hong Ye’s face was beaming, with one arm circled around brother Dao’s arm, she held her hand up to the camera to show off her sparkling engagement ring. Dao Yi’s usual frown was replaced with a small soft smile as he looked down at Hong Ye. Hong Ye looked truly happy and as Tang Yi’s looked at it his eyes filled with a subtle softness.
Silently he picked up the small stack and began to gently shuffle through them.
The next one was of him and Shao Fei together. A selfie Shao Fei had taken a few days before he had turned himself in. Drinks in hand and smiles on their faces as they looked at the camera. Although it couldn’t be seen it in the closeup shot, Tang Yi knew he had his arm around Shao Fei’s waist while he had taken it and it filled him with a feeling that was equal parts possessive as it was endearing.
One was of Shao Fei and Zhao Zi together in what could only be Zhao Zi’s house. Smiling largely, Zhao Zi was standing with one arm around a sitting Shao Fei’s shoulders, the other stretched out making a V sign at the camera. Shao Fei was clearly brooding about something and not expecting his photo to be taken, his arms were crossed and his trademark pout on his face. Tang Yi said nothing but let out a small huff in amusement, a grin pulling across his lips. He would never admit it to Shao Fei but he loved that pout.
There weren't many photos and he quickly shuffled through the remaining few. As he got to the last one, his hands stopped and his breath caught silently in his throat.
It was a photo of Shao Fei, the photo .
Shao Fei’s hair was longer, pushed to the side and sitting just above his big round eyes. Despite the longer style, that stubborn tuft still stuck out definitely just above his ears. His dark brown eyes were sparkling, full of softness and happiness, a toothy smile spread across his face. He was beaming, radiant, and it wasn't the first time that Tang Yi thought Shao Fei is beautiful.
Shao Fei cleared his throat and shuffled uneasily in his seat. Tang Yi still hadn't said anything and he was beginning to feel a bit self-conscious at the fact he was giving him a photo of himself.
In a vain attempt to mask his awkwardness he sputtered out, “What you don't want it” and reached for the photos in Tang Yi’s hands, “Fine, then I'll take it back, forg--”
Tang Yi pulled them away from Shao Fei’s grasp, flashing him a small playful glare, “Thank you” he said in a voice heavy with sincerity.
He brought his hand out and rested it on top of Shao Fei’s which was sitting flat on the table, their eyes never leaving each other. It was the first time the had touched in months and it felt as though a thousand electric sparks shot between their hands. The hair on the back of Shao Fei’s arm and the back of his neck stood up as if electrified, and a small blush forming across the tips of his ears.
The guard who stood against the wall closest to them grunted out a brief, “no touching” and gave them a warning look.
As Tang Yi slid the guard one of his bone-chilling glares, Shao Fei quickly snapped his arm back to his side. Looking down he shuffled in his seat again and rubbed the back of his neck. Clearing his throat he looked back up to Tang Yi’s face, smiling his huge ray of sunshine smile, all tension gone from his posture.
They spent the remainder of the visit as they usually did, chatting casually about this and that, about daily life and what Shao Fei had been up to. About how he had definitely not been putting himself in any dangerous potentially harmful situation, and all too soon their time was almost up.
Suddenly, Shao Fei brought his hands to the tabletop with a small slap, “I almost forgot!” his eyes lit up with what could only be excitement.
“ Ahem ” The guard who had already warned them once cleared his throat in warning and gave them another stern look at Shao Fei’s sudden outburst.
Leaning slightly forward and in a lower voice Shao Fei continued, “I was talking to the supervisor and next month, if you remain on good behavior, you're finally eligible...” he looked down suddenly as if only now realizing what he was actually going to say. The tips of his ears began to turn red and a flush spread across his cheeks. Avoiding direct eye contact, he looked back up at Tang Yi face, his voice even lower as he sputtered out the last part of his sentence, “...for a conjugal visit”.
Tang Yi gazed at him, with an eyebrow raised and a sparkle in his eyes, a devil eating grin spread across his face.
Pulling himself back from his memory, Tang Yi refocused his gaze onto Shao Fei’s photo. He slowly pressed a finger to his own lips before softly pressing it onto the smiling face in the photo, “Goodnight Shao Fei” he whispered before pulling his hand away.
Letting out another sigh he shifted onto his back and closed his eyes, I love you.