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“Falling asleep on me again, Xiao Laoshi?”

Not for the first time, Xiao Zhan curses Wang Yibo’s insistence on late night video calls (even if secretly this has been the only thing keeping him from going crazy after a long day of filming that never seemed to get started, thanks to the endless stream of instructions being relayed to the actors on the set of his latest drama from a director with distinct megalomaniac tendencies). It was long past midnight by the time he staggered back to his hotel room and even later when, after a hot shower and a much-needed glass of beer, he called and tried to look attentive as Yibo told him about his day. How was he to know the combined exhaustion from a full day of aborted attempts at filming and the previous night’s lack of sleep (due to an overly fussy magazine photo shoot) would have caused him to fall asleep in the middle of a story about how Yibo nearly fell off his bike while he was practising at a track in Shanghai for Day Day Up?

Now, Yibo peers at him with a look of concern on his delicate, much-beloved features, a frown creasing the space between his eyebrows. Xiao Zhan wishes he was there in person to rub it away. They’ve discussed vague plans for a short trip away to Bali sometime in the future, but that’s always seemed more like a fantasy than anything realistic. He can’t remember the last time he enjoyed the simple luxury of being able to wake up without his phone alarm blaring at him, never mind his preference for waking up with Yibo wound around him like some sort of overenthusiastic creeping plant.

“Have you been sleeping much?” Yibo asks. They both know that getting enough sleep is out of the question — sleep, like privacy, being one of the things that they have willingly sacrificed to idolhood — but Xiao Zhan’s schedule has been bordering on the slightly more unbearable side of insane these past few months. “You know, Zhan-ge, you have to remind your team that you’re not that young anymore and need your beauty sleep. After all, you know they say a lack of sleep in the elderly causes permanent brain damage!”

“That applies to everyone, regardless of age, you idiot.” Despite himself, Xiao Zhan smiles, and is rewarded with one of Yibo’s snorting giggles. “Hey, why aren’t you nicer to me, Wang Yibo? Don’t you respect your elders?”

“Don’t I respect you enough, Zhan-ge?” Yibo throws back, his voice immediately dipping down low, like it does when they’re alone and the rest of the world is shut out. “You know how I love to pay my respects to you. You’re always telling me what a good boy I am.”

Unbidden, blood rushes to Xiao Zhan’s cheeks. He tries, and fails, to forget the sight of Yibo on his knees the last time they found a spare moment, just after the Ten Cent awards show, how messy Yibo’s carefully styled hair got, how swollen his lips were afterwards. He’d found it so hard to drag himself away the next morning, wanting to make the most of the short time they had together.

“Stop that,” Xiao Zhan says, after Yibo laughs obnoxiously at his awkward silence. “Don’t say things like that to me when you know it isn’t good for my elderly heart.”

“Sorry.” But Yibo doesn’t even look the least bit repentant.

“Whatever.” Despite himself, Xiao Zhan sighs. I suppose I’m just missing you more than usual.” He’s also just the tiniest — really only a little bit, whatever people like to say about him being a lightweight drinker — tipsy. It’s the only reason he can think of for being this honest.

This… whatever they call this thing between them that he doesn’t, can’t, put a name to shouldn’t make him lose his words so easily. Yibo’s always been able to do this to him, though. Whether it’s delivering a well-timed compliment in the middle of a round of teasing insults that throws him off-balance, or a half-whispered declaration in the middle of the night when everyone else is asleep, Yibo twists his way into Xiao Zhan’s consciousness and does dangerous things to his heart.

Not for the first time, Xiao Zhan thinks he must have been the biggest fool to open his hotel room door that fateful night in an anonymous hotel in Hengdian, nearly two years ago. He’d heard of co-stars sleeping together, of course. He wasn’t some young idiot, still so naive in the ways of the world. He was older than half the principal cast of Chen Qing Ling. He’d worked a mundane job in the real world, for heaven’s sake. He knew how these things worked; co-stars were there to blow off steam with, and expecting anything deeper than sex meant you were going to get your heart broken. But there had been something about Yibo that he was powerless to resist. There’s always been something about him.

“I can’t sleep, Zhan-ge. My room’s too quiet, even with the TV on. Maybe I could sleep with you? Just until I get used to it, I promise. I’ll even sleep on the floor if you mind.” Yibo had looked so nervous too, skittish as anything, as though he was desperately afraid of being rejected, as if Xiao Zhan could break him with just a word or two. As if he hadn’t already known that Xiao Zhan’s heart was in his mouth as he tugged Yibo through the door.

Xiao Zhan still catches glimpses of that Yibo every now and then, when Yibo thinks he isn’t looking. The Yibo who, despite the trappings of fame and glamour, is still a twenty-two year old, unsure of how to proceed in a relationship that shouldn’t have lasted past the few months of shooting and promotions they were contractually obliged to attend. It still takes his breath away that Wang Yibo, of all people, should ever have to feel as unsure of himself as Xiao Zhan does.

“I miss you too,” Yibo says now, leaning closer. He’s freshly showered and bare-faced, with wet hair falling in his eyes. Xiao Zhan wants to bury his face where the sharp line of Yibo’s jaw meets his neck. The sense memory is still so fresh in his mind; the smell of Yibo’s shower gel, the sound of surprise he makes, just before his fingers card through Xiao Zhao’s hair and hold him there. His body aches at the thought of it. “When can I see you again, Zhan-ge? It feels like forever long ago.”

“As long as sixteen years?” Xiao Zhan asks, teasing. Yibo grins back, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes.

“I’m serious, ge. I know we agreed that we’d focus on our careers first, but…” And here Yibo looks heartbreakingly young, “I guess I just want to not think about being the perfect idol for everyone else all the damn time. Does that make sense? I mean, I’m grateful for everything that I have, but I want… I want…”

There’s a noise somewhere in the background of Yibo’s call. He looks annoyed and tries to continue, looks Xiao Zhan straight in the eye and even though the WiFi connection in the hotel might be spotty and the feed grainy and pixellated, there is no denying the intensity in Yibo’s eyes. It makes Xiao Zhan feel even more light-headed than he already is. “I…”

“Wang Yibo!” That sounds like one of Yibo’s management team, and sure enough, Xiao Zhan catches sight of a red-faced man stalking over, murder in his eyes. “Didn’t I say you have filming in less than three hours? Who the hell are you talking to in the middle of the night? Do you want to collapse onstage? Already they’re telling us that you’re too quiet during the Day Day Up recordings! Do you think this is going to help? God damnit, Yibo, are you even listening to me? Get to bed!”

Yibo scrambles to cut the man out of the frame. “I’ll talk to you later, ge!” He mumbles, just before the feed cuts out.

Xiao Zhan is left holding his phone in his hand, his heart still pounding double time and his mind furiously trying to work out what Yibo was about to say. They’ve never promised each other anything more than the next fevered meeting. He doesn’t know what he was doing, nearly spilling his half-thought out truths to Yibo after one long day at work. He definitely wasn’t expecting Yibo to reciprocate, as cut-off as his declaration was.

What a mess he’s made, and he’s supposed to be the more mature of the two of them. Xiao Zhan stares at the ceiling of his soulless hotel room and turns off the light. He definitely won’t be sleeping tonight.

***

The next few days pass without incident. Xiao Zhan immerses himself in the mad rush of his schedule of activities, meeting sponsors, filming scenes, answering repetitively inane interview questions. It helps, being busy and not thinking too much about Yibo and all chaotic tumble of his feelings. Work, however exhausting, is something Xiao Zhan can control. There aren’t any tricky ambiguities to deal with, none of that sensation of standing at the edge of a high cliff, waiting for the ground to fall away beneath his feet, which is generally what happens whenever he has a free moment to think about Yibo and their last conversation.

On his part, Yibo has been mostly quiet as well. Just a few gifs every now and again, whenever Xiao Zhan has an appearance on television, or his studio releases a new set of photographs. They’re mostly the usual, teasing messages that Xiao Zhan doesn’t have to analyse too closely for double meanings.

“Xiao Laoshi is too handsome. How can the rest of the idol world ever hope to compete?” or “Zhan-ge is too devastatingly beautiful. No wonder all of China is entranced.” Nonsense messages, and all Xiao Zhan has to do is find an appropriate gif or meme to reply with. They talk about future jobs, Yibo’s racing and Xiao Zhan’s schedule, which is still ferociously packed. That is to say, they talk about nothing of consequence, and Xiao Zhan thinks that, really, it’s better for both of them this way.

He finally reaches the Spring Festival break and allows himself to take a figurative breath. Most of his upcoming appearances on various shows have been pre-recorded, so he actually has the chance to go home to Chongqing for a few days. So Xiao Zhan busies himself with catching up with his family. His mother and father are always happy to see him, of course, and then there is the whole gamut of relatives and friends, some of whom he hasn’t seen for years.

On the last night before he has to leave, his mother throws a dinner for her side of the family and invites so many people Xiao Zhan finds himself wishing that his security team were still around to shepherd him past the press of people. A distant aunt grabs his elbow after she’s given him his red packet (“I’m sure this is peanuts, compared to what you’re earning now, Zhan Zhan, but take it for good luck anyway”) and asks when he’ll bring some of his co-stars back to see them.

“You’ll make everyone back here very happy!” She tells him, “Especially if you bring that nice young man you worked with on that drama last year.”

“Which one?” Xiao Zhan asks, not really paying attention. His phone starts buzzing in his pocket and he fumbles as he tries to take it out.

“The dancer! The one who’s always on that variety show! Oh, I forget his name, but he looks like such a nice young man. Very handsome, but doesn’t say much does he? It’s so funny, but my friend and I were just talking about how your drama last year made it look as though you two were — ”

“Sorry, Yu Jia Ah Yi,” Xiao Zhan holds his phone up, being sure to look properly apologetic. “But I have to take this call. You don’t mind, right? I think my mother is going to serve some of the pineapple cakes she got the last time she was in Taiwan. You should help yourself.”

Xiao Zhan gets the feeling she doesn’t hear him and simply wanders off to find another person to talk to, but he’s already putting the phone to his ear and walking to the small bedroom his parents still keep for him. He locks the door and flicks on the lights before accepting the call.

Huh. Strange, usually his management is quite good at sifting out overzealous fans, so the unlisted number on his phone is unexpected. He accepts the call without thinking further.

“Hello?” Shut off from the rest of the party, Xiao Zhan stares at the view of Chongqing outside the window, marvelling as he always does at the skyscrapers and the myriad distant lights in the background.

“Zhan-ge?” Yibo asks, his voice hesitant. “Sorry, is this a bad time?”

“Yibo?” Xiao Zhan has a look at his phone’s display in case he’s made a mistake. Nope, still the same unlisted number. “What the hell are you doing calling me now? I thought you were back at home.”

“I was. I left this morning, though. Family’s great, but once my cousin’s girlfriend’s sister started bringing her friends round just because they heard I was home, the house seemed a bit crowded, you know?”

Xiao Zhan cracks a wry smile, thinking of his Aunty Yu Jia. “Tell me about it. So why are you calling?”

“I - uh. Guess where I am right now, Zhan-ge.”

There’s something about the tone of Yibo’s voice that makes Xiao Zhan stand up a bit straighter. “Oh, Yibo. Tell me you haven’t done anything stupid.”

Yibo laughs and it’s that familiar gasping snigger that’s so at odds with his cool, sophisticated public persona. Xiao Zhan knows it by heart. “Stupid? Not really, ge. Impulsive, maybe. But if you think about it, the flights out to Chongqing aren’t that expensive, and a lot of the hotels are having special Spring Festival deals, you know? It’s not like it’s inconvenient or anything right now. I booked myself into a nice room at The Westin. There’s a great view of the river from my bed.” His voice turns softer, and Xiao Zhan can hear the uncertainty in Yibo’s next few words, “You should come and see it, ge. You’ve always said I should visit, after all, so you can’t be too surprised I’ve finally taken you up on that offer.”

“You’re mad,” Xiao Zhan whispers, his heart beating so loud he can hear it in his ears. “Yibo, what if one of those journalists finds out? What if the photographers saw you?”

“Are you saying you doubt my ability to take proper precautions while I’m sneaking off to see my secret lover, who also happens to be the hottest star in the country?” Yibo asks almost aggressively. “I got one of my contacts to make the booking for me under a false name and apart from my agent, you’re the only one who knows I’m here. So get your ass in a car and come find me, ge. I’ll text you my room number. Come on, Zhan-ge. I flew all this way for you. You know we’re not going to get another chance like this again.”

“I —” Xiao Zhan puts the phone against his chest, has to take several breaths to calm himself down. His good sense is screaming at him to tell Yibo to buy himself a ticket straight back to Luoyang, or wherever he’s filming next. It’s what he should do, as a responsible friend. But a quieter, annoying, insistent part of him is stuck on what Yibo just called him. A secret lover. Nothing so intimate as a partner, or a boyfriend — he doesn’t think Yibo would dare without having talked to him first. There is enough promise there (lovers! As though he had never thought of it himself, when he was holding Yibo close to him and wishing the world outside didn’t exist), however, to make the selfish part of him protest at the constant denials, the appeals to common sense and pragmatism.

When he lifts the phone back to his ear, Yibo is still talking.

“… Anyway how much longer do you want to wait for the stars to align so perfectly, ge? We’re not ever going to have a magpie bridge of our own. Shit like that only happens in fairy tales. We gotta make stuff happen on our own.”

“I — hey, Wang Laoshi, what the fuck. Are you referencing old stories just to make yourself sound articulate?”

Another snigger. “Maybe. Is it working? Do you want me to start quoting Su Dongpo? Would that make my case stronger? You want me to make a poem up about how much more beautiful you are, compared to the moon? I’ll do it, ge.”

“Don’t.” Xiao Zhan feels his throat tighten dangerously. “Don’t say things like that if you haven’t thought it through. You’re not some ancient poet and I’m not some maiden you’re trying to sleep with.”

He can feel the sweeping, sucking feeling of his yearning now, threatening to drown him. “I mean… Yibo, do you even realise what you’re asking of me?”

“Nothing you probably haven’t already thought of, ge.” This time, Yibo sounds much more confident, almost as though he’s anticipated this question. “I’ve seen the way you look at me some times. Like you think you’ll lose me if you get too serious and start talking about feelings and shit. And I’m saying you don’t always have to think that I’m going to leave just because you think there’s some expiry date on us. I want — I want to see you, ge and I don’t want to do it over a video call. I fucking flew all the way here for you, didn’t I? Would you stop acting so indecisive and get your ass down here?”

Xiao Zhan can’t help himself. He laughs, and he isn’t sure if it’s because he’s delirious with hope, or because he’s just delirious from the madness of knowing that Wang Yibo is here. In Chongqing. Because of him. “Could you be a bit more respectful? I’m older than you, if you haven’t forgotten in your youthful haste.”

“Are you coming?” Yibo demands, and the double meaning sends a frisson of heat through Xiao Zhan’s body.

“Yes, yes. Fine. You win, you brat. Give me your room number... Fuck, Yibo. My mother wants me to talk to her friends and there’s a granduncle I’m meant to meet from my dad’s side. You need to give me some time to get out of it.”

“I don’t care. You’ve got until ten o’clock, ge. You know I’m not a patient man.” Yibo disconnects the call and Xiao Zhan looks at his watch. It’s eight-thirty. He still has to charm his parents’ friends and distant relations and beg for time off on his last night at home. Wang Yibo apparently is not in the mood to make things easy for him.

Fuck.

***

The Didi takes its time navigating Chongqing’s network of streets to get to the pedestrianised Liberation Monument. Xiao Zhan tries not to chew on his fingernails on the drive over, too busy turning the memory of his mother’s dogged line of questioning about where he was going over in his mind and contrasting it with his father’s quiet acceptance and knowing glances as he left the apartment, all apologies to the guests. Perhaps one day he’ll manage to explain exactly why he had to leave in the middle of his mother’s elaborately planned party. Perhaps his father doesn’t need an explanation.

And, he supposes, if pigs fly one day he might even bring Yibo back to meet his parents. He stifles a snort at the absurdity of that suggestion, alarming the driver who has been casting curious glances at him the entire trip.

“Don’t I know you from somewhere?” He asks, as they pull up at The Westin. “From TV or something? Are you a singer? Actor?”

“I’ve just got one of those faces, Uncle,” Xiao Zhan says, and slips him a hefty tip. He’s put a mask on and tugged a baseball cap to cover his eyes, but this late at night on the second day of the new year, there aren’t too many people around to notice a passenger alighting from a car, let alone recognise him. He checks his watch. It’s just about fifteen minutes past ten.

Xiao Zhan really shouldn’t be as nervous as he is. He’s performed in front of thousands of strangers, worked with respected industry seniors, and endured every possible humiliating fanmeet activity his management signs him up for. Yet, even as he rides the whisper-soft lift to the fiftieth floor of The Westin, he finds his heart pounding so hard he thinks it might actually burst through his chest.

When he finally gets to the door of Yibo’s room, he almost loses all his courage and runs away.

Almost.

Before he has time to think about things, Xiao Zhan raps out a soft pattern on the door. He can hear music playing softly on the other side, but that is suddenly silenced and the frantic sound of someone rushing to the door takes over instead.

Then, Yibo flings open the door and Xiao Zhan lets out an involuntary noise.

He looks impossibly, achingly beautiful. Yibo has large dark circles ringing his eyes, and his hair is wet and dripping onto a raggedy t-shirt that has seen many better days, but after so many months apart, he is here, and Xiao Zhan is already reaching for him, just as Yibo is tugging, pulling at his coat, bundling him into the room.

Xiao Zhan loses track of how exactly they end up where they do, but he knows that his fingers are framing Yibo’s precious face as they kiss frantically. He can feel Yibo’s hands slipping under his coat, pulling it off, insinuating themselves under his hoodie and sweatshirt, finding the bare skin of his back and leaving marks as he scrapes his fingernails down either side of Xiao Zhan’s spine. He gets lost in the sweetness of Yibo’s kisses, at once violently demanding, amazingly tender and excruciatingly familiar. How could he ever forget anything as wonderful as this?

“You’re late,” Yibo says, when they finally manage to disentangle themselves. He throws Xiao Zhan’s coat on the floor and follows it with most of his outer layers until they’re both clad only in t-shirts and sweatpants and staring at each other.

“Since when were you such a stickler about time, Lao Wang?”

“Since I haven’t seen you for too goddamn long. Another twenty minutes and I was going to get the next flight out of here.” There’s a small smirk on Yibo’s face, even as he starts working on the drawstring of Xiao Zhan’s pants. “You’re lucky I’m a patient guy.”

“The luckiest,” Xiao Zhan agrees, “to have someone so understanding who puts up with my shit and never tells me off when I make mistakes or can’t get out of my mother’s parties because fifty grandmas want autographs.”

If Yibo objects to Xiao Zhan’s pointed use of sarcasm, he doesn’t say anything. Instead, he brings Xiao Zhan in for another kiss that takes his breath away. “Where’s the fun in that? Would Zhan-ge like me so much if I wasn’t such an insufferable shit?”

They’re both breathing heavily now, and Xiao Zhan takes a moment to strip Yibo of his tattered old t-shirt before doing the same to himself. It’s enough to give him enough clarity of mind so he knows his next few words aren’t just sputtered out in the heat of the moment.

“No, Yibo. I… I think I love you.”

There’s a beat as Yibo’s eyes go wide and Xiao Zhan simultaneously wants the ground to swallow him straightaway so he doesn’t have to deal with the awkwardness of his confession, and needs to know what Yibo’s thinking in that wonderful, complex mind of his.

“Say that again,” Yibo says, his voice barely above a whisper. He looks so fragile now, as if Xiao Zhan could shatter him into a thousand pieces with the wrong choice of words. Xiao Zhan isn’t going to do that. Not when he’s been rehearsing what he’d like to say during the whole ride over.

“I think… I guess I…” He blows air out through his mouth, wants to look away, feeling vulnerable under the heavy weight of Yibo’s gaze. “Wang Yibo, for heaven’s sake. I’m telling you I love you, OK? And I never wanted to say it out loud because… because let’s face it, gege is shit at confessions like this.”

“Correct.” Yibo interrupts, one corner of his mouth lifted as though he is barely keeping a smug smirk at bay. “But continue anyway, ge.”

“Rude. I meant — I didn’t want to ruin your life, all right? You’re so young, you have so much ahead of you, and I didn’t want you to get tied down to me. I mean, who knows how long all of this is going to last. I thought you’d want to focus on your career.” Already, Xiao Zhan is reaching out for Yibo again, desperate to touch him because, even if his words are barely coherent, touch is something they both understand. He cups the side of Yibo’s face, marvelling at how beautiful Yibo is, still expecting to wake up from this fevered dream. “And, I thought I could do this, Yibo. I thought I could keep things casual because I assumed that would be best. I was wrong about that, wasn’t I?”

In reply, Yibo turns his face, presses a soft kiss to Xiao Zhan’s palm.

“Zhan-ge is an idiot,” he mutters, looking back at Xiao Zhan, his dark eyes shining in the soft light. “I think I’ve been in love with you ever since the table read for A-Ling.”

He takes a breath before continuing. In the space between, Xiao Zhan thinks entire empires rise and fall.

“And I never wanted this to be a one-off, ge. I mean, I know that night I came to your room it might have looked like something out of a bad porn film, but… I wanted more. I’ve always wanted you. Not just for a moment, just… as long as you’re willing to try. I thought you didn’t feel the same way. I mean, you were always talking about how things could change, like after a while I’d get tired of you or something so I thought you weren’t really being serious... Until we had that call and my goddamn agent just cut in — honestly I could have murdered him, I swear — and I wanted to tell you then, ge. I could tell that you wanted it too, but you were so scared.”

“Aren’t you?” Xiao Zhan asks.

“Not if you’re with me, gege. I feel like I could conquer the world if I had you by my side.” Yibo’s hands are on Xiao Zhan’s hips, pulling their bodies together. The heat radiating off him is incredible.

“Oh,” Xiao Zhan says faintly, not quite believing this is really happening, “well, maybe world domination could be on the cards. I think I’ll settle with just having you though, if that’s all right.”

Yibo kisses him. It’s a remarkably effective way of shutting him up. When they finally manage to break for air, the look in Yibo’s eyes is feral.

“So, Xiao Laoshi, are we going to get to the part where we fuck yet?”

“So impatient,” Xiao Zhan murmurs, even as Yibo leads him to the oversized king bed. “Youth these days, always in such a hurry.”

He doesn’t get the chance to say much more because Yibo is crowding him against the bed, forcing him back until he falls onto the mattress with a wild giggle, his hands up in mock surrender.

“Too much talk,” Yibo says flatly, scarily channelling Lan Wangji a little too effectively, before falling on top of Xiao Zhan. Suddenly they’re pushing off the last of their underwear and Xiao Zhan is relearning every inch of Yibo’s skin, tracing and retracing the contours of his body with his lips and tongue and fingers, until Yibo’s making desperate whining noises, his fingers tangled in Xiao Zhan’s hair.

Heavens, he’s missed this so much more than he’d care to admit. Need thrums through Xiao Zhan’s whole body, becoming an ache that almost makes it difficult for him to breathe. He wants to worship Yibo’s body with his hands and tongue and then fuck him through the bed. He lets Yibo drag him up for another kiss, biting at Yibo’s lips, wanting to run his teeth down the column of Yibo’s neck to leave marks there for the rest of the world to see, damn them. He wants so much to be selfish for both of them, but he can’t bring himself to completely disregard the scandal it would cause. Instead he kisses his way down Yibo’s chest and flicks his tongue against Yibo’s nipples until Yibo is arching off the bed, pushing his hips against Xiao Zhan’s, and they both gasp at the drag of overheated skin against skin.

“Want you,” Yibo is saying somewhere above him, “Zhan-ge, hurry up and fuck me, come on.”

Xiao Zhan has to close his eyes for a moment. If Wang Yibo keeps saying things like that, he’s going to come way too quickly and that wouldn’t be fair. Not when they’ve both been waiting for this for months. He wants to savour each moment they’re physically together. So Xiao Zhan raises his head once, presses a soft kiss to Yibo’s navel.

“Watch me, sweetheart.”

He tries not too feel too smug when Yibo nods, his eyes going round as Xiao Zhan kisses his way down Yibo’s body. He licks at the dark line of hair just below Yibo’s navel, marvelling at the sound it produces. Yibo is saying something now, but Xiao Zhan can’t make out the words, his gaze too focused on his goal. Yibo’s dick is red and hard and as beautiful as the rest of him, curving proudly away from his body. From experience, Xiao Zhan knows the tip of it is especially sensitive so he takes his time, licking slowly from the base of Yibo’s cock, following the prominent vein in the shaft with his tongue. He alternates licks with strokes of his hand, being careful not to end things too fast. It’s hard when Yibo is mewling and fisting the sheets, his head thrown back and the long line of his neck exposed.

Xiao Zhan thinks he will never get tired of watching Yibo when he’s like this. He lets his tongue circle the very tip of Yibo’s dick gently, which makes Yibo groan so loudly Xiao Zhan wonders vaguely if anyone staying on this floor will complain. He realises he doesn’t care, just as he begins to tongue the slit, relishing the bitter-salty taste of Yibo’s pre-come, the way that Yibo’s hips are pressing against his face with increasing abandon, and the wondrous sounds Yibo is making, half-incoherent curses, half-increasingly desperate pleas. He tries to coordinate the motion of his hand and tongue, but figures it’s good enough when Yibo’s mewls turn even higher-pitched and his fingers dig almost painfully into Xiao Zhan’s shoulders.

“Waitwaitwait… Zhan-ge!” Now Yibo’s tugging at his hair really does hurt and Xiao Zhan stops long enough to look up at Yibo and drink in the sight of just how undone he is. Yibo’s been biting his lips and they shine in the half-light, swollen and tempting and red. His hair is a mess of wet curls around his perfect face and he’s looking at Xiao Zhan with an oddly serious expression that sits awkwardly on his face.

“What’s wrong, baby?” Xiao Zhan asks.

“Nothing, nothing.” The most wonderful blush creeps across Yibo’s cheeks and he says almost shyly, “Only… I want to come with you inside me, ge.”

It’s a miracle Xiao Zhan doesn’t just come straightaway. But it’s a near thing and he takes a deep breath to slow his pounding heartbeat, wiping at his mouth to give him a moment to calm down.

Of course Yibo has to ruin his efforts by telling him in the most matter-of-fact tone, “I got myself ready while I was waiting for you.”

The image of Yibo sliding those long, talented fingers into himself and stroking his cock makes Xiao Zhan’s dick twitch, and does nothing for his already overheated brain. He opens his mouth to say something, anything, but Yibo surges forward, kissing him again and tasting himself on Xiao Zhan’s tongue. He pulls away after a moment and rummages in the drawer of the bedside unit while Xiao Zhan forces himself to remember how to breathe.

“Here.”

A small bubble packet of lube and a foil square land on the bed. Xiao Zhan looks up and tries not to be too mesmerised by the sight of Yibo using the mountain of pillows to prop his body up, his hips already elevated and that wonderful dick of his hard and wet and leaking pre-come. He fails miserably, his fingers shaking slightly as he tears open the condom packet and rolls it on to his erection, hissing as the cool lube covers his overheated flesh. He notices Yibo watching him, the other man’s eyes dark with lust. Sometimes, he marvels, he forgets that it’s like this with Yibo too. It makes him feel light-headed to know that Yibo, as beautiful as he is, is just as affected by him and wants him as much.

“Miss me?” Xiao Zhan asks, even as he moves closer, guiding himself towards the sensitive pucker of Yibo’s ass. He circles the tight ring of muscle with a finger, then two, remembering how Yibo whimpered the first time they did this, how he fucked Yibo with just his fingers alone and made him come. Yibo’s body lets him in now, and he is as slick as promised, and so, so hot and tight.

“Of course I fucking did.” Yibo mutters, impatience writ clearly in every rigid line of his face. “Stop making me wait for it! Just fuck me!”

It’s hard to do anything but obey. Xiao Zhan slides in, and the gasp Yibo makes as he slides home is something he will remember for a long time. Blindly, Xiao Zhan reaches for Yibo’s hand, lacing their fingers together and holding on while he sets a slow, steady motion, trying to control himself. He keeps staring into Yibo’s eyes, sees the same naked devotion he’s sure is mirrored in his own gaze. He’s breathless at the sight of it, how Yibo’s body rises and rolls to meet his. Xiao Zhan can already feel his orgasm start to build, the feeling of Yibo surrounding him too overwhelming to hold at bay for much longer. They’re both making noises now, Yibo’s moans mingling with his own soft gasps and the wet sound of skin against skin.

He’s not going to last much longer, and judging by the way Yibo’s gripping his hand, neither is he. Xiao Zhan reaches between them, finds Yibo’s still-slick dick and starts pumping it, his thrusts becoming more erratic but his mind bent on one sole end goal; make Wang Yibo his. He thumbs at the head of Yibo’s cock, and Yibo’s howl of pleasure triggers his frantic orgasm. Xiao Zhan utters a last drawn-out groan, his vision almost whiting out as he spends himself inside Yibo. He almost slumps forward, but has enough presence of mind to help Yibo finish, twisting his wrist just as Yibo fucks his hips up into his grasp one last time and spills over his hand.

There’s a pause while they both catch their breath before Yibo reaches out for Xiao Zhan, his afterglow turning him greedy.

“Wait, wait.” Xiao Zhan laughs. They’re both a mess of sweat and saliva and come, so he forces himself not to sink into Yibo’s embrace straightaway and heads to the cavernous bathroom, returning with a wet towel that he uses to clean them up.

“Ge,” Yibo whines, his palm already sliding up the curve of Xiao Zhan’s thigh as he finishes and tosses the towel aside. Xiao Zhan relents, allows himself to be drawn in and kissed more gently this time, savouring the softness of Yibo’s lips and the way orgasm has blunted the hard edges of Yibo’s demanding personality. This Yibo is soft and sweet and gentle, although he’s still infuriatingly direct, already rolling Xiao Zhan on his back so that he can press him into the mattress, his thighs braced on either side of Xiao Zhan’s body.

“I love you,” Xiao Zhan says, basking in the warmth of their love-making. He can’t seem to stop touching Yibo; his fingers trace idle patterns on the skin of Yibo’s thighs, “Heavens, Wang Yibo. You’re fucking beautiful. I could watch you forever.”

To his surprise, Yibo ducks his head, blushing. “Ge, stop that.”

“I mean it, though. How come you get to tell me all this bullshit about my appearance, but you can’t handle me doing the same to you, huh?” To emphasise his point, Xiao Zhan pokes Yibo gently in the ribs with a finger. This produces a gremlin-like giggle, so he does it again, and it somehow descends into a tickle fight, with Yibo twisting away and Xiao Zhan following close behind, his own laughter bordering on the edge of breathless. They end up on their sides, facing each other and Xiao Zhan tries to work in one last dig at Yibo’s ribs before Yibo’s larger hand stills his own.

“Ah! Zhan Laoshi! I surrender!” Yibo says, the colour high in his cheeks. He reaches out, cupping Xiao Zhan’s face in his hands, pulling him closer, looking impossibly happy. “Zhan-ge, my gorgeous Zhan-ge. I love you so fucking much.”

They smile at each other, and it’s like they’re back in Hengdian again, sharing secret looks in between scenes and in the quiet hours of dawn when no one is awake but them.

“So, about that secret lovers thing,” Xiao Zhan starts. He sees the slight bewilderment on Yibo’s eyes, and hurries to clarify. “I think we can do better than that, can’t we?” He takes one of Yibo’s hands in his own and kisses their twined fingers. “Not saying I’m asking for a public declaration or anything, Yibo, ‘cos I’m not crazy, right? I’m saying… I want to do right by you. Let me be selfish for you. With you.”

Understanding blooms slowly in Yibo’s eyes. “Tell me this isn’t a joke, ge.”

Xiao Zhan laughs and Yibo kisses him suddenly. Fiercely, as if to prove a point, like they’re sharing some ancient secret. “If you’re messing me around, Zhan-ge.”

“Never.” Xiao Zhan turns serious, suddenly nervous of the wider implications of what he’s about to say. “I want this. I want you. It feels like I’ve always wanted you, Yibo. Sorry I took so long to figure my shit out.”

Yibo’s smile is the brightest thing Xiao Zhan has ever seen. He smiles back, helplessly, willingly blinded by it.

“Apologies aren’t necessary, ge. Let’s go to bed.”

He might have to get up in about four hours, his schedule might be packed all the way to March, and it might be possible that Xiao Zhan will only see Yibo after another month or so, but as his eyes start to close, with Yibo curled up next to him, his breathing deep and even, it is the sweetest sleep Xiao Zhan has had in ages.