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track nights, bright lights

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Yibo is not sure what he expected upon entering the racetrack facility, but the sight of Xiao Zhan leaning against the front desk with a brilliant smile still stirs something deep in his chest.

“Yo,” Xiao Zhan says, one hand lifted in the air in a casual greeting. “You’re late.”

“I thought it would be past your bedtime,” Yibo replies. “Because of your advanced age.”

Xiao Zhan holds back a laugh as he slaps Yibo’s arm. They’ve been caught up in the monotony of the same on and off press tour for weeks, but Xiao Zhan still acts like he doesn’t expect Yibo’s occasional jibes. “How many times do I have to say this to you? You need to be nicer!”

Truthfully, Yibo hadn’t expected Xiao Zhan to show up on one of the rare nights they were both in the same city and both free. He’d assumed their Wechat conversation would come to an awkward end when he responded to Xiao Zhan’s loaded inquiry about his plans with a brisk “I’m riding.” Then Xiao Zhan started asking questions about the race tracks, about Yibo’s riding schedule, and whether he could tag along. It was a far cry from the usual reactions from others, which ranged from poorly concealed disinterest to annoyance at what they believed to be a rude way of blowing them off. Yibo doesn’t know how to explain that open track nights are one of his few reprieves from everything-- a place where he feels freer and larger than any stage.

Xiao Zhan, apparently, had read between the lines. He’s here now, looking around and chatting up the receptionist.

“Wang-Laoshi,” A-Lin says in greeting when Yibo walks up. “Is this your friend? He didn’t bring any gear. You’ll need to sign him in for a guest badge.”

“Oh!” Xiao Zhan turns to her with a smile. “I’m just here to watch. I don’t know anything about motorcycles. I’d make a fool out of myself.”

“You can ride,” Yibo says before his brain catches up with his mouth. “With me. As a passenger.” He looks at A-Lin for perhaps a rejection to save him from further embarrassment. Unfortunately, A-Lin just hands Xiao Zhan a stack of forms to sign and gestures for them to move to the seated area.

It’s late in the evening on a week day. Despite being the only track in the city to stay open 24/7, there’s still barely anyone here tonight. It’s for the best, Yibo thinks. The motor club is exclusive enough that press can’t walk in, and the sort of crowd that rides with him at night aren’t the type to snap paparazzi shots. Still, sometimes Yibo spends too much time looking over his shoulder for screaming girls and unexpected faces.

“This place is really fancy,” Xiao Zhan says, always the one to start the conversation. He barely looks up as he scans through the disclosure forms and fills in his contact information. “Do I really get to ride with you? The elusive Wang-Laoshi? You’re getting me all excited~ Heheee.”

“Stop joking around,” Yibo says, feeling his face heat up. “Thanks. For coming.”

Xiao Zhan is quiet for a moment as he taps his pen on the table. “Why are you thanking me? I should be thanking you for inviting me. Is it really okay for me to ride with you? I didn’t bring anything.”

They’ve been measured back to back for enough costume fittings that Yibo has memorized the width of Xiao Zhan’s shoulders. Sometimes, when he closes his eyes, he can remember the slimness of the older man’s waists, and how often he had to resist the urge to press his hands into the flat of Xiao Zhan’s stomach. Eventually, he says, “You should be able to fit into my spare gear. They’re not shabby.”

“Of course not. You’re never shabby,” Xiao Zhan laughs, open mouth. “I’m signing my life away. You better take care of me.”

“I will. You can trust me,” Yibo says with enough sincerity that Xiao Zhan pauses to regard him with an unreadable expression. Without waiting for Xiao Zhan to respond, Yibo leads him back to the front desk, where A-Lin checks through the forms. “How’s it going tonight?”

A-Lin scans a few pages before handing Xiao Zhan a guest badge. “There are only two other riders, but one of them is leaving soon and has already checked his bike back into the garage. You came on a good night. Oh, your guest will need to watch the mandatory safety video and take the 20 minute garage simulation course.” She clicks through her computer again. “Wang-Laoshi, you’re cleared for taking a passenger, but only for under 75 km. Do you need anything else?”

“Is your father in?” Yibo asks awkwardly, which earns a snicker from Xiao Zhan. “I want to see if I can use one of the garage bikes. The Suzuki Hayabusa.”

“Let me check.”

Xiao Zhan swings an arm around Yibo’s shoulder. “You’re not taking me for a ride on one of your babies? I’m hurt. Am I not good enough for them?”

“That’s not it. The Suzuki is much better for passenger riding than my R6. It has low pegs and a smooth motor mask that makes it more comfortable and controllable for two. And.. Yeah.”

Xiao Zhan nods. He leans in almost unbearably close to smile at Yibo. “Wow. So knowledgeable. I think that’s the most I’ve heard you say in one sentence.”

“It’s available,” A-Lin says, taking pity on Yibo. “My father should be in the garage.”

“Right. Let’s go.”

Xiao Zhan doesn’t need to be told twice, although he does ‘oohh’ and ‘ahhh’ as they make their way to the changing rooms. He looks genuinely impressed when Yibo opens the locker to display his extra gear, and makes a noise of approval as the Joe rocket reactor jacket is pushed against his chest.

“Wear this.”

The jacket is well worn and well loved, but it fits Xiao Zhan. Yibo tears his eyes away when Xiao Zhan sheds his zip-up hoodie and puts it on, but he still has to check the the jacket’s padding on the spine and elbows.

“Wang-Laoshi!” Xiao Zhan mock gasps. “Are you feeling me up?”

“Zhan-Ge,” Yibo mumbles. “Stop teasing me. I need to check your gear. It’s dangerous to go out there without proper equipment.” He realizes his hand is still on Xiao Zhan’s arm and retracts it. “You’ll need to watch the safety videos in the instruction room first. I’ll go find us a bike…. You can still back out, you know. If you don't want to do this.”

Xiao Zhan just looks at him, eyes soft and amused. “I want to.”

That was the crux of the matter. Xiao Zhan was never shy about what he wanted. Maybe that was why Yibo has never been able to turn him down. Not during the four months they spent practicing lines late into the night. Not at the post-release party, when they’d met up at the banquet room of the Fairmont Beijing with a dozen cast and crew members to celebrate the drama completing its hectic airing schedule unscathed. Things had already changed between them by then. How could they not, when fifty million viewers had watched Lan Wangji hold Wei Wuxian in his arms, and scrutinized the way Yibo looked at Xiao Zhan? They’d fallen easily for Xiao Zhan’s open smiless, the same way Yibo had.

Xiao Zhan is always careful and deliberate about his choices. Sometimes it baffles Yibo how Xiao Zhan could have chosen this life of relentless public scrutiny over the normalcy of his past. He isn't sure if he'd really had a say, himself, in being thrust into the limelight. Dancing had chosen him, a kid who just wants to move freely and go fast.

Xiao Zhan, however, had intentionally chosen to step into the public eye, just like he chose to escort a drunken Yibo home after the cast party a month ago and kissed him hungrily in the doorway. It had been lazy and sweet and fueled by the many bottles of Maotai that Director Cheng had kept ordering at dinner. They’d both been too exhausted to do anything but make out, and Yibo had woken up the next morning to an empty bed and a doodle note on the nightstand about how Xiao Zhan had needed to be across town for work.

They never talked about it, because Xiao Zhan didn’t bring it up and Yibo was too embarrassed to question the intimate way he’d clung onto Xiao Zhan’s arm as he dozed off. By the time they were in the same city again, he had pseudo-convinced himself that it was nothing but a fevered dream.

“You good?” Xiao Zhan asks, which shakes Yibo out of his pointless reverie. “Did you not sleep well again? How many days have you been awake?” It’s familiar banter, and Xiao Zhan often asked him this on set whenever Yibo looked extra haggard and required more foundation during makeup and wardrobe.

Shooting for Yibo’s latest project had wrapped up last week, and now he’s only occupied with minor guest appearances and weekly Tiantian Xiangshang recordings. This is the most clear-headed he has felt in months, which means more time for him to dwell on the messages Xiao Zhan often sends him at random hours of the day.

“I slept fine. I wouldn’t go on the track or take a passenger along if I didn’t. You can trust me.”

“I trust you,” Xian Zhan says with that infuriatingly honest eye-smile.

“I wouldn’t dare neglect a senior citizen.”

Xiao Zhan responds by threatening to hit him.

“Here, you’ll need to change pants too. Your shoes should be fine. The instruction room is down the hall. Let’s meet here again in 30 minutes.” Then Yibo is off, ignoring the way Xiao Zhan laughs at his awkwardness. Checking out the Suzuki is fairly easy. By the time they meet again, Yibo has already changed into his own Sedici Federico jacket and pants.

“Handsome!” Xiao Zhan accepts the helmet that’s pushed into his chest with an 'oomph'. “Such a professional....” He examines the Shoei GT-Air he had gifted Yibo for his last birthday. “Wait, is this the one I got you?”

“Of course.” At the time, the helmet had felt like a promise between them. Yibo tries not to read too much into it. He turns around and leads Xiao Zhan out. “Follow me.”

As expected, the tracks are essentially empty tonight. Visibility is good, with the track lights illuminating every curve beautifully. The Suzuki is waiting for them out front, along with the owner and tonight’s track supervisor. While Supervisor Liu inspects their gear, Owner Li grins at Xiao Zhan. “I heard this is your first time? Welcome. You’ll enjoy it. I’m sure Wang-Laoshi will show you a good time.”

“He always does,” Xiao Zhan replies easily, which makes Yibo snort.

Thankfully, the helmet covers most of his face, and Yibo gestures for Xiao Zhan to put his on as well. After getting the okay, Yibo mounts the bike with ease. He can vaguely hear Yi-Ge giving Xiao Zhan instructions, but his hearing dies the moment Xiao Zhan sets a hand on Yibo’s left shoulder, steps on the peg, and swings his long leg over to settle into the space behind him.

The night is cool and comfortable, but Yibo can still feel the warmth of Xiao Zhan’s body through their jackets.

“Get closer,” Yi-Ge is telling Xiao Zhan. “Don’t be shy. It’s safer for you to put your arms around his waist. Wait-- not that tight. Don’t suffocate him.”

When Xiao Zhan lets go, Yibo turns around to look at him. “Don’t wiggle around. It’s my job to control the bike. I’ve already adjusted the suspension and preload to accommodate you, so don’t try to shift the bike by yourself. Just trust me, okay?”

Xiao Zhan responds with a thumbs up and wraps his arms around Yibo again.

Yi-Ge pats the rear fender twice. “You’re good to go. Lao Liu and I will be monitoring you. You have the track to yourself tonight, but remember to not go above 75km. There’s precious cargo on the back.” Both Yi-Ge and Supervisor Liu leave after receiving a nod from Yibo.

Then it’s just Yibo and Xiao Zhan, who, with the raised suspension, is tall enough to set his chin on Yibo’s shoulder.

“Impress me,” Xiao Zhan says, his voice barely audible over the incessant beating of Yibo’s heart. That’s all Yibo needs to retract the kickstand and start the engine.

It isn’t his first time taking a passenger or his first time on this bike, but things still feel extra intimidating tonight. Yibo accelerates slowly, mentally calculating how Xiao Zhan’s added weight will affect their momentum. After that it’s almost just muscle memory, Yibo shifting gears and moving with the bike. He can feel Xiao Zhan’s grip tighten almost imperceptibly, but he focuses on the path ahead.

Riding is one of the few times Yibo can think clearly. He’s never been good at communicating what he feels, but the endless expanse of the track seems to offer a solution. Here, no one expects any meaningful response from him. Concrete and asphalt demand nothing of him. He simply exists, and now he’s taking Xiao Zhan along hoping that he, too, understands the simplicity of this existence.

Despite that, Yibo expects Xiao Zhan to get bored soon, but Xiao Zhan just hangs on. They’ve been riding for a good twenty minutes before Yibo de-accelerates, slowly and smoothly coming to a stop. Yi-Ge is gone by now and Supervisor Liu loses interest once Yibo signals to him that nothing is wrong.

“Want to stop?”

“No,” Xiao Zhan says, wiggling out of his helmet. His hair is half in the air and half matted to his forehead, but Xiao Zhan’s gaze is nothing but alive. He sets a hand on the back of Yibo’s neck. “I just wanted to kiss you.”

Really, Yibo has no choice but to lean into it when Xiao Zhan captures his mouth. Their position is uncomfortable, Yibo half-twisted around on the bike. With Xiao Zhan’s gloves discarded and hand holding the side of Yibo’s jaw, Yibo feels like a jostled girl having her first kiss.

Xiao Zhan breaks away before Yibo can really contribute. Still, his eyes are bright and mirthful. They’re lucky that there’s no CCTV at the tracks, and that Supervisor Liu is too far away to see. Xiao Zhan puts a finger on Yibo's lips, soliciting secrecy, as if Yibo was actually capable of formulating something coherent to say. “Let’s go again. Faster this time.”

“Okay,” Yibo says lamely.

He doesn’t remember much of their last few laps around the tracks, too hyper focused on the steady weight of Xiao Zhan at his back. Once again, he feels as if he’s retreated into a dream, the sound of Xiao Zhan’s laughter reverberating in his ears until the low fuel gauge eases them into slow stop.

The air feels even fresher when Yibo removes his helmet. Xiao Zhan does the same, but continues hugging Yibo, his face pressed against Yibo’s shoulder blades. They only pull apart when Supervisor Liu comes to inspect the Hayabusa.

“It’s late and I’m an old man,” Supervisor Liu hums as he finishes checking the vehicle. “Give me a break and go home already, you wild kids.”

That’s what Yibo had in mind, but he’s stuck between wanting to kiss Xiao Zhan more and wanting to ride with him forever into the night. Xiao Zhan makes the decision when he tugs on Yibo’s arm and says, “Let’s go. I’m tired. Let’s crash at your place.”

In the changing room, they manage to wiggle out of their gear with only one ill-timed make out session that ends when Yibo accidentally bangs his arm into a metal locker. Xiao Zhan grins and kisses the spot better, but goes back to changing properly after that. They leave the facilities in record time after Yibo labels his laundry basket with his member ID, and they bid a quick goodbye to A-Lin at the front desk before hopping into a didi cab.

It’s a quick ride to Yibo’s apartment. They spend most of it sitting in silence, leaning comfortably against each other. Xiao Zhan is the one who readjusts their masks and hats when they step out of the car, the night smelling sweetly of promise and anticipation as they slip through the door of Yibo's complex. They don’t touch each other until they’re both inside, Yibo turning on the lights and nearly tripping over a stray sneaker in the process.

Xiao Zhan manages to grab Yibo’s arm and expertly spin him around with a laugh, until Yibo’s back is pressed against a wall. They kiss lazily for a moment before Xiao Zhan murmurs “you stink,” into the crook of Yibo’s neck.

“The bathroom is over there,” Yibo says, doing his best not to sniff his own shirt. “You shower first.”

This makes Xiao Zhan huff. “Aiyaaa, Wang Yibo. Are you even human? Do you think I came home with you so I can shower alone? Have mercy on me.”

It boggles Yibo’s mind that Xiao Zhan has the nerve to ask for mercy, when he's the one who came crashing unrepentantly into Yibo's life. “You--”

“Stop misbehaving and come in with me,” Xiao Zhan decides.

The apartment is newly renovated, with a western style bathtub that Yibo never uses outside of a quick shower. Now, he mentally thanks his manager for talking him into renting this place as Xiao Zhan playfully pushes him inside and begins pulling off Yibo’s shirt. His fingers pause at a bruise on Yibo’s shoulder. “Where did this come from?”

“Filming,” Yibo says. He barely remembers the way he’d gone crashing off the skateboard railing while shooting Extreme Youth, but his agent’s concern and Cheng Xiao’s visible shock had been enough to make him take it easy.

“Mmm,” Xiao Zhan hums, leaning down to kiss at the spot, then graze it lightly with his teeth.

“What--”

“Payback for all the times you’ve teased me.” Xiao Zhan grins, eyes twinkling.

There’s considerably less talking after that. Yibo manages to step out of his jeans and briefs and kick them towards the door as Xiao Zhan impatiently leads them both into the tub. Xiao Zhan tugs one of the shower handles and sends a stream of shockingly cold water raining down on them, but their bodies are so warm pressed against each other that neither of them seems to mind.

Yibo doesn’t know what to do with his hands, so he sets them on Xiao Zhan’s arms until the water warms up to a comfortable temperature. He makes an embarrassing noise when Xiao Zhan’s long fingers wrap around his dick. “W-wait! I thought you told me I smelled bad.”

Under the spray, Xiao Zhan is so close that Yibo can see the water drops sliding down the bridge of his nose. He looks torn between wanting to laugh at Yibo and wanting to slap him. Eventually, Xiao Zhan seems to decide the former and lets out choked chuckle. “Are you asking for a bath and a massage? The whole package?”

“I just--”

“Turn around,” Xiao Zhan says, which, sadly, just leads to Xiao Zhan investigating bottles on the wall mount. “Are you serious? Do you really use 3 in 1 body wash, shampoo, and conditioner?”

“I have stuff from sponsors, but are too many steps and it takes too much time. This is easier.”

“Just who are you?” Xiao Zhan asks, but then his hands are in Yibo’s hair as he massages in the shampoo-conditioner-wash. “You never fail to surprise me, Wang Yibo. Want me to wash your back too?”

This is the weirdest turn of events for Yibo, who’s participated in his fair share of shower frottage. Sex has always been about decompressing, so he’s not used to the winding up of anticipation in his chest as they complete this strange but efficient showering routine.

Xiao Zhan waits until the water runs clear of soap before cupping Yibo’s jaw with his hands. “Are you happy now?”

“I’d be happier if you fucked me,” Yibo whispers, which makes Xiao Zhan retract his hands like he’s been burned.

“God, are you trying to kill me? I really am gonna have a heart attack one of these days.”

“Just another symptom of old age--” Yibo starts to say, but is stopped when Xiao Zhan crushes his lips into a kiss. It’s the type Yibo likes, where he’s so caught up that he can’t even breathe properly. They’re still under the spray, like in that infamous thunderstorm scene, but all he feels is the warmth of arousal.

Time slows to a crawl when Xiao Zhan pushes their hips together and wraps a hand around both their lengths. “You good?”

The position is weird and doesn’t account for the height difference. Yibo responds by lifting one leg and wrapping it around Xiao Zhan’s hip.

“Wait I’m not. I don’t think I’m strong enough to hold you up--” Xiao Zhan closes his mouth when Yibo does the same with the other leg, until he’s effectively clinging onto Xiao Zhan’ shoulder with his legs caging him in. “Shit,” Xiao Zhan says, voice raw. “I forgot how weirdly competitive you are. This is really hot. Are you sure this is--”

“Zhan-Ge,” Yibo whines. “Can I come sometime today?”

“You need to be nicer,” Xiao Zhan hisses, and goes back to stroking them both. They’re way too close, too intimate with the way their foreheads press together. The echoing sound in the bathroom only amplifies Xiao Zhan’s stuttered moans, which turns into howling laughter when they nearly slip and go tumbling into the tub. Xiao Zhan helps them both up again and sets his hands on Yibo’s hips to turn him around. “Is this like… a thing of yours? Acrobatic sex?”

“If it’s not hard then it’s not fun,” Yibo mumbles, allowing himself to be manhandled until he’s facing the wall with his arms bracing him. “I don’t have any--in the bathroom, I mean--”

“Yeah, I know,” Xiao Zhan says against his ear. “Can you close your legs for me?”

Yibo does as he’s told and gasps at the first slide of Xiao Zhan’s cock against his inner thighs. He feels too hot and too sensitive, with Xiao Zhan’s hand closed around him at the front as well. Every stutter of their hips brings a new wave of heat, and he feels overwhelmingly exposed with the way Xiao Zhan is kissing the back of his neck. Yibo comes unexpectedly with a grunt, his body trembling as Xiao Zhan holds him through it.

By the time he feels anchored again, Yibo finds himself facing Xiao Zhan. “You okay?” Xiao Zhan asks softly, smiling when Yibo blinks lazily at him. “Wanna dry off?”

“You’re not done,” Yibo says dumbly. With newfound determination, he drops bonelessly to his knees, looking up only when Xiao Zhan gently cards his long fingers through his hair. “Zhan-Ge, hold on tight.”

“If it’s not hard then it’s not fun, huh?” Xiao Zhan echoes Yibo’s words. He looks down, cheeks flushed, when Yibo takes him into his mouth. It’s not the first time Yibo has done this, but it’s the first time it's Xiao Zhan who's bucking his hips into his mouth with a steadily tightening grip on his hair. And, well, Yibo is nothing if not a competitive and quick study. It doesn’t take long for Xiao Zhan to come, a soft sigh escaping his mouth.

They stay like that for a minute, the water washing away the mouthful that Yibo spits down the drain.

Yibo closes his eyes until Xiao Zhan begins petting his hair, his face, and his mouth. Eventually, Xiao Zhan tugs him by the arm, turns off the water, and pats them both dry with towels snatched from nearby hanger.

The bathroom is humid and comforting, so Yibo sets his forehead on Xiao Zhan’s shoulder while Xiao Zhan works on drying them off. “Don’t fall asleep,” Xiao Zhan reminds him. “Who’s the one with an early bedtime now?”

Yibo would rather eat his fist than admit that he’s always been sleepy post-sex. Instead, he leads Xiao Zhan back to his admittedly messy room and fishes around for clean clothes.

After Xiao Zhan has wiggled into Yibo’s old BAPE shirt and made fun of his worn sweatpants for falling too short on his ankles, he makes a beeline for the kitchen and goes digging through the cabinets for snacks. “There’s nothing here! Aiiya, you’re strict on yourself. What if you wanted a midnight snack?” Xiao Zhan settles on a bottle of pocari from the fridge. Here, standing in Yibo’s kitchen in bare feet, Xiao Zhan looks like a vision.

“I’m the midnight snack,” Yibo replies, his brain going into an inconceivable and unfathomable place it always does when Xiao Zhan is around.

This causes Xiao Zhan to choke on his drink. He wipes his mouth and stares. “Wang Yibo! You need to behave!”

Still, they both know he’s right. It’s past 1am now, and even the Beijing nightscape outside of the windows has dimmed considerably. It’s been a long day, and an even longer week.

“Are you staying?” Yibo asks, his voice sounding far away. He doesn’t have any schedules until tomorrow afternoon, but the idea of sleeping in and waking up in Xiao Zhan’s arms still feels like something he doesn’t get to have.

“Yeah, yeah. I’ll stay. I gotta be in Haidian at 10 tomorrow though.”

They migrate slowly back in the direction of the bedroom. Yibo has just finished dimming the corridor lights outside when he walks back into his darkened room to pair of hands suddenly jolting him, and Xiao Zhan going “BOO!”

No amount of darkness can shield the morbid embarrassment that comes with his frightened shout, but Yibo is somewhat palacated when Xiao Zhan pulls him into his laughing embrace. “Sorry! Sorry! I forgot how easily scared you get! Sorry, don’t kick me out hahaha --Oomph! Okay I deserved that,” Xiao Zhan says when Yibo punches him lightly in the stomach. “Do you want me to hug you all night?”

“Hug yourself,” Yibo bites out.

“You sure?” Xiao Zhan’s grins only grows larger when Yibo barely puts up a fight. “Come on, let’s sleep already. I’m tired.”

Yibo is tired too. The bed fits them both comfortably. It's almost surreal, with Xiao Zhan chuckling into the darkness, smelling like his shampoo. “Wake me up before you leave this time.”

“Sorry, sorry.” Xiao Zhan shifts so they’re face to face. “I just really had to go last time. You looked so tired, I didn’t have the heart to wake you up.”

This makes Yibo scowl. “I’m not a child.”

“Oh, trust me. I know, hah.”

Yibo’s hand finds its way to Xiao Zhan’s wrist, where it lingers. “We can do this again.”

“This? What’s this? Riding together? Going home? The midnight snacking?” Xiao Zhan’s smile is wide, despite the way Yibo is pinching the soft skin of his forearm. “Okay, okay. Yeah. We can. This is nice.”

The truth is that Xiao Zhan is the nice one, and Yibo is helpless in the face of his kindness. He wants to be kinder and better, like someone who can match Xiao Zhan both on and off the stage. It’s not self doubt so much as self awareness. Xiao Zhan, however, seems to understand him even without words.

“Sleep,” Xiao Zhan says, his own voice drifting off.

It’s not so hard to do as he’s told, Yibo thinks, when he’s tucked into Xiao Zhan’s arms. For Xiao Zhan, he can be nice.