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Every First

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Lan Zhan was a simple man with a simple routine: wake up early, take a shower, drink a warm cup of tea and go to work not even a second too late.

At the fresh age of twenty-five, Lan Zhan has already accomplished way more than what his family - the prestigious Lans - would have wanted from him. Gusu Yunshen Design had a grand history behind it, starting from a simple building with only one floor by none other than his great, great, great grandmother Lan Yi, and with time and perseverance, it morphed into the gigantic company it was today.

Famous, prestigious, sought after… and Lan Zhan was the Vice President of his family’s greatest pride.

Of course, all that success meant the spotlight as well, and he was not very fond of finding himself on the front pages of different magazines. Things like ‘The Second Most-Sought after bachelor…..’ - first being his big brother, up until he settled down with a… Lan Zhan knew better than to comment on that - didn’t interest him in the slightest. He would rather - if it was inevitable - be featured in ‘magazines’ that write about the company’s achievements, or the trends they’re working hard to set.

“There’s no harm done, A-Zhan!” his brother would tell him. “Other people might appreciate only our exterior, but as long as we stay in the clear, that doesn’t do us any damage at all.”

Lan Zhan knew the logic behind it, but that definitely did not mean he could cope with it forever. He was not built for flashlights. He loved his quiet. His perfect resting time would be with a book in his hands and rain pouring down outside.

Anyway, another thing that Lan Zhan didn’t take any interest in, unlike his peers, was the desire to goof around, especially during his high school and college years. So he gladly missed out on all the parties and the idiotic fights and found absolute comfort in his books. Now that he thought about it, Lan Wangji had missed his prom night, too, and yes, it was because he couldn't bring himself to invite someone, nor accept their requests.

Suffice it to say, despite his fair looks, good mannerisms and the high intellect he possessed, Lan Zhan had taken no interest in anyone thus far, and he was more than content with how things are.

Too bad that his family did not share his sentiment.

Lan Zhan resisted the undeniable urge to groan — the Lans did not groan, for they were strong enough to bear anything thrown at them — at the pile of job applications on his desk. Today, he was to go through the very last candidates applying for the job of his personal assistant. Lan Zhan has been doing this for the past few weeks and… Jiang Cheng, his new brother-in-law never misses an opportunity to reprimand him for his indecisiveness.

Just as he was about to unfold the documents plastered over his desk, the door to his office opens and inside enter none other than his big brother and his husband. Lan Zhan knew that his brother did not require it out of him, but he still stood up, even if it was for a simple curt nod thrown at them.

His brother was wearing a gray suit today, with a baby blue shirt underneath. His hair was braided in his usual style — Jiang Cheng liked to call it ‘the dead mother in Anime hairstyle,’ much to their uncle’s irritation.

Jiang Cheng, on the other hand, was wearing a black suit and a very dark purple shirt with a black tie around his neck, tied so tightly that Lan Zhan felt like he was the one choking. His brother-in-law always liked to keep his hair in a bun, even at his own wedding. Well, it did suit him, Lan Zhan guessed.

“What brings you two here so early?” Lan Zhan asked, sitting on his chair again. His brother came to sit on the chair opposite him, while Jiang Cheng made himself comfortable on the wide couch at Lan Zhan’s right.

“I thought I’d come and see the progress you’ve made with the applicants,” Lan Huan said. “Are they no good? Isn't A-Cheng narrowing the list down enough for you?”

Lan Zhan shook his head. “He is but… I do not know. I have yet to go through the last ones, but so far…” he stopped himself before blurting out anything that might be wrong.

Nonetheless, he was immediately interrupted by a not-so-quiet snort coming from Jiang Cheng.

“If you Lans didn’t have such high standards for everything, maybe you wouldn’t be in this kind of situation. And don’t look at me like that,” he added after Lan Zhan threw him a cold look. “You know I’m right. I narrow that huge list of applicants down to a minimum for you, but you go out of your way and dismiss them all."

He got up from the couch and came over to Lan Zhan’s desk to take a look at the applications. He raised a sharp eyebrow as his eyes fell on one of them in particular. “This one doesn’t seem too bad,” he commented. “Su She? That’s an ugly name.”

“That doesn’t matter,” Lan Zhan graced him with a reply, despite it all. “What is important are his qualifications and he has more than half of the previous candidates combined."

"And why is that?"

Lan Zhan stared blankly, his gaze turning sharper with every chuckle his brother-in-law teased him with. As if he would answer that.

Jiang Cheng did not need a reply out of him, though, if what he said next was any indication of that.

"Why do you blame those poor people that they can't help but fall for you, Second Master Lan?"

"A-Cheng," his brother chimed in. "We really can't help it."

Jiang Cheng snorted again. “As I said. You Lans really do have high standards.”

Before Lan Zhan could say anything, his brother was the one to break the mood with a humorous short laugh. “You’re absolutely right. We do have high standards indeed. Hence why we’re married.”

“Huh! And that has nothing to do with the fact that you were totally smitten?” Jiang Cheng stared at him from the corner of his eyes.

Were they seriously going to flirt right in front of Lan Zhan like… all the times they’ve done before this one? Again?

“I’m not gonna deny that, A-Cheng. But this is exactly what A-Zhan must feel too.” Lan Zhan frowned, not understanding how he could possibly be included in their flirting. “If he doesn’t get to choose a good candidate for the job--”

Jiang Cheng was married to a Lan but he still kept his Jiang name, hence why he was totally able to groan and interrupt his brother’s teasings in the process.

“He’s looking for a personal assistant, not for a life-long partner.” What he said made total sense to Lan Zhan, though he would never say it out loud.

“He should be looking for the latter too, to be honest, or else I will see him grow old and never get laid.”

“Brother, please!” Lan Zhan exclaimed quietly, as he felt waves of embarrassment sending chills all over his body. “This is neither the time nor the place.”

Lan Huan only gave him an innocent smile while Jiang Cheng was rubbing at the bridge of his nose. Lan Zhan suddenly had the ridiculous desire to hide under the table and wishing silently that the two would just go away.

“A-Zhan, I’m afraid you can’t hide this time.” The fact that his brother could read him better than he read his own books was truly scary in a lot of ways.

“You…” Lan Zhan hesitated. “You two are not here to help me with the applicants, are you not?”

His brother shook his head and Jiang Cheng heaved out a sigh.

“Your big brother has set up a date for you.”

Lan Zhan blinked at his brother-in-law, unsure if he heard it correctly. “A what?” he couldn't help but ask.

Lan Huan chuckled. “It’s the truth,” he said. “Ready or not, Fragrance Palace has a reservation with yours and your date’s name on it.”

“Fragrance Palace?” Lan Zhan threw a look at Jiang Cheng. “Did you get your sister involved in this too?”

Jiang Cheng rolled his eyes and gave him a shrug. “Don’t get over yourself. A-Jie and her peacock fiance don’t care for shit like this, but A-Huan here insisted so I sent them a message.”

“Why the need to surprise me?”

“Well, obviously because you would not have agreed otherwise, A-Zhan.” Lan Huan rose from the chair, walking to the door. “Good thing I told you a day before, right?” He turns to look at Lan Zhan's look of shock before smiling innocently. “Be there at 2 PM sharp!”

“But I don’t lea—”

“At 2 PM sharp, A-Zhan.” His brother did not even let him finish before opening the door to his office and seeing himself out.

Jiang Cheng clicked his tongue and shook his head. “Give me some of these. I’ll look them over for you.”

Lan Zhan heaved out a quiet sigh and nods. He was left rubbing softly on his left temple as Jiang Cheng grabbed almost half of the documents, heading out.

Not only was he forced on a date with God knows who, but he would also need to leave work earlier than needed. Outrageous! This was just plain out ridiculous in more ways than one.

Lan Zhan only prayed he could survive tomorrow.


“Are you seriously going after him tomorrow?” Jiang Cheng asked his husband as they walked side by side to his office. “He will definitely notice you.”

“So what if he does?” Lan Huan asked back, opening the door for him. Jiang Cheng, true to his words, did take half the documents on Lan Zhan’s desk and would be taking a look at them to see which one would suit Lan Zhan best as an assistant.

“It is not like A-Zhan will ever hold it against me. After you,” he gestured with a hand for Jiang Cheng to step inside first since it was his office after all.

“I feel like you’re holding his affection for granted,” Jiang Cheng said as he plopped in his fancy rolling chair. “Everybody has a limit.”

Lan Huan helped himself to a glass of water before turning to stare at his husband. Filling a glass of wine for him, he walked over to the desk and sat on a chair across from him, sliding the alcoholic beverage to Jiang Cheng’s side. Deciding to ignore his last statement, he asked: “Are you going to go through this all day?”

Jiang Cheng shook his head. Without lifting them up, he read through the first applications. Some of them had very detailed CVs attached to the forms and some were just some random details thrown in. He threw them in the trash just for good measure.

“Not good?” Lan Huan asked.

“Not too much detail,” Jiang Cheng responded, his free hand reaching for his drink. “I don’t think Lan Zhan would appreciate it. Besides, even these that I’m not throwing away aren’t that much bett— Huh!”

“What?” Lan Huan asked, a bit concerned. “Is something wrong?”

“Yes. I mean, no. Nothing is wrong. It’s just… this person…”

"Who?" He found himself curious. Jiang Cheng rarely - if ever - would get as shocked as this time. Lan Huan rose from his seat and walked over to him to peak down behind his shoulder.

"Wei Ying." Lan Huan recited the name out-loud. "You know him, A-Cheng?"

His husband seemed like he had not found his voice yet. He managed a weak nod but did not avert his gaze from the picture attached to the application he was holding in his hands.

"Who is he? If you do not mind me asking?" He tried carefully. Jiang Cheng seemed pretty agitated for some reason Lan Huan had yet to know.

Jiang Cheng swallowed. "I knew him in High School."

Lan Huan raised a fine eyebrow at that. "He is rich?"

Jiang Cheng shook his head. "He had a special scholarship. He…" he chuckled faintly. "To think that he really did it."

Lan Huan found it difficult to cope with all the information Jiang Cheng was - if he were to be honest - spouting.

"I'll recommend him," he finally told Lan Huan.

"Do you have a debt to pay to the guy?"

Jiang Cheng chuckled again, this time more noticeable. "God, no. Wei Ying doesn't even know I work here." He waved him off with a hand. "Plus, he would never want to get in through a recommendation. The reason why I said I'll recommend him is simple; he is talented."

"Talented, huh?" Lan Huan bent down to take a better look;

Name: Wei Ying.

Age: 25.

Birthplace: Yiling.

Graduated from: Yiling Uni Design.

Yiling Uni Design was not at all that impressive but it didn't necessarily mean that those who graduate from there were incompetent by any means.

"Hmm, I do not think A-Zhan will be happy to see someone from YUD, but this guy might actually deserve a chance. He looks charming," Lan Huan confirmed. Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes.

"Why are you never jealous?" Lan Huan pouted, moving to sit on his chair again.

"Do you not find me charming as well, husband?" Jiang Cheng, for some reason, decided to humor him on his rarely-shown antics.

"Oh no," he said, managing to give Jiang Cheng a reason to raise a brow. "I find you—"

…"You find me… what?"

"...Exciting… among other things," he finished.

Jiang Cheng downed his drink completely. "I can't believe you actually made me sit through that."

"I did not lie."

"Whatever!"

Jiang Cheng took the moment of silence that befell them in order to add Wei Ying's number in his contacts list. He would be giving him a call later, most likely.

"Let's go out for lunch," Lan Huan proposed, much to Jiang Cheng's fear. Well… maybe Wei Ying would have to wait till tomorrow, or maybe even the day after, depending on what state does Lan Zhan leave his brother after his date is over.

"I'm going to order something spicy for us both, then," Jiang Cheng said, smirking at him all high and mighty. He dared him to oppose him, but Lan Huan remained silent, features as blank as his little brother's.

"Let's go." He tucked his phone in the front pocket of his pants as he rose.

Walking out on tow with his husband, Jiang Cheng couldn't help but inquire for the last time: "You know, I really think it's not a good idea for you to spy on your brother."

Lan Huan chuckled. "Are you worried for me, A-Cheng? Do not be," he said, noticing Jiang Cheng's irritated expression. They passed by a few co-workers that stopped their work to greet them, while they returned their greetings with a silent nod only.

"Besides," Lan Huan added as he sat in the passenger's seat of Jiang Cheng's black Ferrari. "I'm not going on my own. Gratefully, A-Yao has agreed to accompany me."

Jiang Cheng didn't even bother to respond to that as he did fast work of fitting the key to the ignition and gripping the steering wheel tighter than he might've usually liked it.

"Poor soul," he mumbled and drove off. Lan Huan laughed at his words, much to Jiang Cheng's chagrin.


On the day of the date, Lan Zhan was up at 6 AM sharp. First, he took a shower way longer than usual. His body was not even that unclean, to begin with, but out of nowhere, he picked up a sudden interest in the beautiful silver tiles of his bathroom.

It did not take a genius to understand that Lan Zhan stubbornly was making himself busy with nothing. He really had a bad feeling about today.

Stepping out of the shower, he made quick work of wiping his body dry before walking over to the huge mirror containing his personal hygienic belongings. He proceeded to wash his teeth with his electric brush and used gel to slick his shoulder-length hair back. He did not have the luxury of not going prepared on a date after all, even though the said date had yet to happen in seven hours' time.

He'd chosen to wear a white shirt today and combine it with a light-gray colored suit and a silver watch around his left wrist. He was adamant about what color his shoes should be, but after giving it some thought, he chose his white non-pointed ones.

At seven-thirty, he's already inside his car, his work-case resting in his passenger seat, and while he was getting his breakfast and morning tea ready at his usual café on his way to work, he realized that he has forgotten to wear a tie.

Leaving his car in the parking lot, Lan Zhan closed his eyes, heaved out a quiet sigh, grabbed his case and headed out with a determination to slip through today as much grace as he could muster.

The look his co-workers gave him upon grabbing sight of him made Lan Zhan want to shrink down to the size of a microbe. Especially when the women immediately stopped their chit-chats to ogle over him. Noticing their gaping gazes, Lan Zhan cleared his throat and said a simple "Get back to work," to them before locking himself inside his office.

He heaved a sigh again and walked over to his desk with steps much slower than usual. He unwrapped his food box, which surprisingly was still warm and stuffed the food into his mouth. It tasted as delicious as always but Lan Zhan had a souring taste on his tongue today.

If only there was a miracle happening today to him. Some tooth fairy forwarding the time to tomorrow… literally anything but him going on that blind date that his brother had set up for him.

He heard nothing of his brother nor his husband for the whole day. By the time the clock reached 1 PM, Lan Zhan knew that it’s his cue to leave as he was to see his date in one hour.

He drove off to Fragrance Palace. It was not that far, and the traffic — much to his quiet chagrin — was almost nonexistent, so he’s inside the restaurant at 2 AM sharp.

He saw his brother first from the corner of his right eye and fought down the urge to turn back and leave in embarrassment. He’s not alone today, Lan Zhan figured, as a smiling Jin Yao winked at him knowingly. Both he and his brother had chosen to wear gray suits today, Jin Yao accompanying it with a pale yellow shirt while his brother with a stark white one. Lan Zhan ignored them as a woman came up to him and bowed in greeting.

“Master Lan, your table is this way.” She gestured him forward and Lan Zhan nodded his head, letting the woman, whom he guessed to be the hostess, lead him to his table where a woman had already made herself comfortable and was sipping… alcohol.

He sighed inwardly. Just why did he agree to this? But then again, Lan Zhan wasn’t one to judge a book by its cover.

“Miss,” he began tentatively, bringing the woman’s attention to him. The woman greeted him way more joyous than he would've liked it, but he accepted it nonetheless, nodding his head again and moving to sit across from her on the rectangle-shaped table.

Silence befell them for a few seconds, but to Lan Zhan, it felt like an eternity. The woman was by no means ugly. Her hair was waist-long. She was a natural brunette no matter the crimson strands of her curls.

"So… how are you?" Lan Zhan was aware of the awkward question, but the woman didn't seem to notice it.

"Good," she answered and smiled widely. "How about you?"

"I'm good too. Working here and there."

The woman stared at him, her previous wide smile locked on her face. Lan Zhan prevented himself from glancing toward his brother's direction and expecting certain doom.

"What is your job?" He asked for a lack of better words. He's never been a good speaker, to begin with.

"Hmm," she hummed and put her elbows on the table. "Let me say it this way. I am so busy but I don't work."

Lan Zhan swallowed. "You don't work… but you're busy?"

"Yes," she nodded her head and smiled again much to Lan Zhan's inner irritation.

"I do not understand," he said, his tone cold. The woman, however, continued to talk as if ignoring him.

"Well, it's not like I'm praising myself or anything, but I take care of my appearance a lot."

Appearance,  from what Lan Zhan could see, was her long curls and a face not even a millimeter free of make-up. Her eye-liner made her eyes look like those of a cat's, and her blindingly pink lips were so glossy that they were easily reflecting the lights of the chandelier above their heads. All in all, there was nothing natural about this woman, not even her voice.

"I also got a lot of followers on Weibo, so my fans need their updates, you know what I mean. I always post my pics and selfies from parties, or fashion shows or… private invitations."

"About today…" he started, fear welling up in his chest.

"Ah, no, no. Don't worry." She reassured. "A-Huan told me not to post anything."

A-Huan? If Jiang Cheng heard this woman call his husband A-Huan, he would probably cut her tongue off.

"Honestly, this is considered a busy workday in my book," she finished.

Lan Zhan snorted mentally. He doubted she would ever pick up a book to read in the first place.

Now that he thought about it… "I think your face seems familiar to me."

"Oh?"

"Yes. Some pictures from the magazines in our company… of you and your boyfriend." Well, ex-boyfriend now. Lucky guy!

"Yeah, these days relationships don't go that well."

Definitely a lucky guy, that ex of hers.

" — and let's just say I kissed the wrong frogs." She laughed at her own joke. Lan Zhan glanced briefly at his watch and released a long and quiet sigh. Not even ten minutes had passed.

"And I think that right now we're in the right way."

Lan Zhan crooked up a brow at that. "Like what?"

"At the end," she started. "You and I hardly like people."

Lan Zhan found himself agreeing. Yes, he barely liked people, especially the person in front of him. Maybe he truly had the patience of steel after all.

"And we have quite the status to uphold. When I think about it, we make quite the power couple ."

" Power couple ?" Lan Zhan repeated, furrowing his eyebrows together in question.

"A power couple."

"I do understand English," Lan Zhan said.  "I just… I just do not understand what kind of power you are referring to?"

"The power of Lan Zhan and Ling Jiao." She gestured with her hands widely as if to show him something.

"..." Lan Zhan realized he hadn't even known her name.

"Couple of the year, our parties, luxury life, magazines," she rambled on and Lan Zhan's patience was starting to run away from him. " — it will be a long relationship," she dragged the word 'long'. "There will be camera flashes from every corner and I'm already getting so excited—"

"Miss," Lan Zhan coughed a bit loud. Normally, she should've understood the message he was so desperately wanting to convey… "I… I really don't know how and where to start but life for me is not like this. I do not care about things like social media, or appearances, or parties. I came here in the hope of finding something real."

The woman hummed as if she understood what he had just finished telling her. "I really understand you, but we're going to be a real couple anyway."

"Wait… wait a minute." Not even the Express train would move this fast. "What was your name again?"

"Ling Jiao," she said. "But you can call me JiJi. Come on. Call me JiJi. JiJi."

"Look, Miss Jiao," Lan Zhan deliberately chose to ignore her suggestion. "I am not someone who judges people based on their appearance or based on anything for that matter, but nevertheless, there is nothing of you that does not show to me what kind of a relationship you are able to offer me."

She was smiling at him, maybe not even listening to him at all. "From one side, it shows that you have high standards." And to think that just yesterday, Jiang Cheng had told him the same thing.

Nonetheless, she nodded her head at him, like a child happy to have been offered a piece of candy.

"And this place," Lan Zhan looked briefly around, still refusing to meet eyes with his big brother. "You were the one to choose it?" At her confirmation, he continued, "You chose it knowing that it bears my design, right?"

"Absolutely," she admitted excitedly. "I immediately searched about it on Baidu."

Maybe Lan Zhan should search on Baidu as to what were the reasons that his brother decided to set him up on a date with this woman in the first place.

"For today's occasion, right?"

"Yes."

"I could tell," he remarked, his voice uncharacteristically dripping with sarcasm. "And now you've come here offering me a relationship as if you were to offer me a job."

Her smile fell off her face and Lan Zhan was cheering up inside on his victory. "So, excuse me, but I have to be stupid to get fooled by this."

It was unbecoming of him. A person this ruthless could not be him. Lan Zhan steeled his nerves as he finally looked at the direction of his brother and his friend. They were looking at them— him, rather— and his brother did not bother to hide the look of shock on his visage. Good.

"I—" Miss Jiao began. "I am talking about a real relationship, too." She had a pout on her face, a pout that if it hadn't been concealed by the heavy make-up, could've looked cute.

Maybe Lan Zhan went too far… He should do what a gentleman would in his place and apologize, and he would if it wasn't for what she said next.

She giggled and brightened up way too quickly for Lan Zhan's comfort. "Now that I think about it, we just had our first fight. Can you believe it?"

Lan Zhan raised up an eyebrow instinctively. Wh… just in what kind of mess did he throw himself into?

"It's like we started a real relationship already."

Lan Zhan took in a deep breath and held it, counting from one to ten and reverse. Patience. Patience. Patie— 

"Can we go to another place?"

"You have to be kidding," he thought.

"No, really!" At her immediate response, Lan Zhan was taken aback. He had actually said that aloud? No wonder, he must have started losing his senses by now.

"I usually bring a lot of clothes with me. I can go quickly and have a change of clothes in my car and then we can leave. How about it?"

Yes, Lan Zhan thought for real this time. He desperately wanted to leave and never set foot in this place again.

There was someone approaching their table, from what Lan Zhan could pick up. And he wasn't wrong. The waiter came forward, stopping by Lan Zhan's right side.

"Welcome," he said, a voice so melodious that it was enough to take him out of his misery. "Were you able to look at the menu? Can I take your order?"

Miss Jiao was giggling again, returning the greetings and opening her own menu to look at. Lan Zhan, on the other hand, gazed pointedly at the guy.

Dark hair tied loosely in a high ponytail that didn't reach the nape of his neck. Wild strands in front, with an equally wild Ahoge sticking up like an antennae.

His eyes had a color that Lan Zhan couldn't quite pinpoint. They were not blue, neither were they gray, but they reminded him of the midnight sky, of those rare nights when the moon was full and shone brightly.

Moving his gaze down, Lan Zhan took in his broad shoulders that more or less resembled his, too. The collar of his shirt was unbuttoned, thus, Lan Zhan was able to make out the man's collarbone. Removing his gaze from there, his eyes fell on the simple card, in which a name was written. The name that was going to save his life today.

Wei Ying.

Lan Zhan swallowed, heaving a sigh. Thickening his face with unnoticeable layers, he stood up and grabbed the guy’s wrist, startling both him and himself.

With his eyes down, as Lan Zhan couldn't look him in the eye while he was doing such a shameless act, he spoke: “Wei Ying, I did not know you were working today.” To say that this Wei Ying was left shocked would be the understatement of the century.

“I hope you understand,” he continued. “It is just a meal.”

“Wha-” the waiter started, most likely having finished processing what was happening. “I don’t underst-”

“What is going on?” came the natural question from Miss Jiao. Lan Zhan truly dug himself deep this time.

“I am sorry,” he said. He was looking at her as he said it, but truth be told, he was more apologetic to the guy whose wrist he was holding tightly.

“I did not know I was going to meet my boyfriend here.”

“Yours what?” Both of them acquired at the same time, but Lan Zhan ignored the question and without losing a second he started darting toward the exit, almost dragging Wei Ying with him.

Wei Ying, naturally, protested and tried to free his right wrist from Lan Zhan’s grip, throwing swear words and insults in his ears. There were looks that followed them, some even had their phones taken out.

Such shame he was about to bring to his family. He could already imagine the tabloids: Second Master Lan dragging a man out of one of the most prestigious restaurants in the city.

But he did his best not to think about it now. Once outside, Lan Zhan let go of his wrist and turned to really look at the man he’d just finished dragging out.

His eyes were wide and his breathing was fast, probably from all the shouting he’d just finished spouting. “What the fuck?”

Lan Zhan winced at the undeniable cold tone he was met with. He understood - of course, he did - but he also had his reasons.

“I told you I am sorry.”

“You said that to me?” he asked with a snort.

“Yes,” Lan Zhan answered shortly. He has never been one to twist things. It was unnecessary. “I— the girl— I needed to rid myself of her.”

“What?” he asked, rather loudly. “So you used a complete stranger to do it? Are you fucking kidding me?” He ran a hand through his — even wilder — locks and glared storms at Lan Zhan’s direction. “Is it not unfortunate for-”

“Zhanzhan,” he was interrupted when the girl in question walked out. She was barely adjusting her short, tight dress and walking kinda slow-kinda fast, since her high heels were undoubtedly making it difficult for her, and to top it all off, Lan Zhan was just called the ugliest nickname one could think of.

“Does she really deserve this? It’s not like she forced you here or anyth- mmph!”

Lan Zhan had always read about kisses in books. He’d read about how the boy bends his head down to reach the girl’s pink and plump lips. His hands would most likely travel down her back or to her neck for support. Instead, he held firmly on the guy’s neck, locking him in place as Lan Zhan connected their lips together.

He did not need to bend his head down either, since the waiter was almost as tall as he was, probably an inch shorter, but that amount was insignificant.

Lan Zhan realized how he made the mistake of not closing his eyes, for when he saw how Wei Ying’s eyes continued to widen with each passing second, it actually dawned on him what he was doing. He’s… he’s...

At one point, Wei Ying closed his eyes shut and started to struggle, but Lan Zhan held down the punch that threatened to connect with his cheek.

Wei Ying, much to Lan Zhan’s surprise, was slowly giving in, returning the kiss. Miss Jiao must’ve left before, because when Lan Zhan reopened his eyes again — he hadn’t even realized that he’d closed them — she was nowhere in sight. Suddenly, he was pushed away.

The waiter panted, shielding his lips with the palm of his right hand as he released shuddering breaths out.

Lan Zhan was in no better state himself. He was ashamed of what he just did. It was one thing to spend his first kiss with a complete stranger, it was completely different when he forced said stranger into the kiss. He looked down, balling his hands into tight fists. Lan Zhan didn’t even see the motion of something moving when his eyes saw nothing but stars as a strong fist found its way right on his left cheek.

He didn't know how to read the expression the waiter had on his face. Frustration? Anger? Or both? Lan Zhan had never been a good reader when it came to other people, anyhow.

He walked back to his car and entered inside. Glancing at the mirror, he saw the red mark that was sure to turn into a bruise by tomorrow. His perfectly slicked-back hair now looked wilder too, though not the waiter's level of wild. A few strands had fallen on the left side of his forehead, reaching all the way down to his left cheekbone.

He couldn't help but turn his gaze to the waiter again and see that he was looking at him, too. A soft summer breeze flew in the air as Lan Zhan decided to avert his gaze for the umpteenth time and drive off.

On the road, he grabbed the steering wheel furiously, gritting his teeth. The waiter's expression still lingered in his mind, and Lan Zhan ordered himself not to think at all. Either that or he'd have to smack himself the same way that waiter did it, because, honestly, just who did he think he was? How could he have taken advantage of a total stranger in that manner? It hurt him in some sense, thinking about it. It hurt him to know that there will be no way he could ever clean his image.

At home, at his very much cozy penthouse apartment, the undeniable hiss he let out when he put an ice pack on his cheek was a reminder of his mistake. Lan Zhan sighed as he sat on the sofa. It was a misfortune that a swollen cheek would be his only prize to pay.