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请兔子吃晚饭; treating a bunny to dinner

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Wei Ying doesn’t realize there’s anything off-kilter until Lan Zhan’s chopsticks scrape the bottom of their bowl of buchu muchim.

In hindsight, all the signs were there, flashing bright orange and red at him, but Wei Ying also happens to have tunnel vision and blinders on for anything that isn’t Lan Zhan, so he only blames himself a lot (as opposed to “for everything,” his only other default). Lan Zhan is standing outside Ahgassi Gopchang beneath the wooden slats at the entrance when Wei Ying arrives. He picks his way through the parking lot cramped as a tinful of glass marbles, evening sun glinting off the roofs of the cars.

He frowns at something on his phone. It’s a Lan Zhan frown, so there’s a hint of a shadow between his eyebrows and nothing else.

“Lan Zhan,” he calls, and Lan Zhan looks up. “Have you been waiting long?”

The entrance swings open and shut, and the smell of cooking meat wafts around them. Lan Zhan shakes his head, slips his phone into his back pocket. “I have not.”

“Sorry to keep you waiting, anyway—did you put our names in?”

“Mm.”

“You’ll really like it here,” Wei Ying says, sinking into one of the waiting area stools. He pats the one beside him. “I can’t believe you said you’ve never tried this place! You live around here, don’t you? It’s pretty well known, too.”

“I am here now.” Lan Zhan sits down. All of his movements are graceful and measured. He crosses his legs. His foot hangs so close to Wei Ying’s calf that Wei Ying crosses his legs, too. “That is what matters.”

“That’s what counts,” Wei Ying agrees.

That was his first sign.

They’re called to go in after a quarter of an hour, following a party of ten leaving. Wei Ying squeezes through the narrow aisle until they can sit down, and Lan Zhan stares at the grill in the middle of the table like a man seeing fire for the first time.

“Lan Zhan,” says Wei Ying, “Do you like samgyupsal or woo beasal? I usually get one or the other and chadol. But we can get whatever you like! Jiang Cheng always gets galbi. They just have really good samgyupsal here, some of the best I’ve had.”

Lan Zhan opens his menu and studies it. “Hmm,” he says.

“I know, it’s hard to pick,” says Wei Ying. “But my treat, okay? You treated me last time, so it’s on me tonight.”

“I like whatever you like.”

A blush starts in Wei Ying’s cheeks and it has nothing to do with the heat of the restaurant. “Okay, well, you should pick something you like, too,” he says. He’s only been on a grand total of two and a half dates with Lan Zhan and he’s made a fool of himself on at least five of them. Do not make a meat joke. Do not make a fucking meat joke to deflect, Wei Ying. “Because uh, I already have something I like.”

Nailed it.

Lan Zhan flicks his gaze up to him. Wei Ying clears his throat and holds his menu up higher, says in one breath, “Okay so I like samgyupsal woo beasal and chadol wouldn’t mind some galbi also maybe steamed egg love that stuff waiter we’re ready to order?”

After their menus are taken away, Lan Zhan picks up his chopsticks with careful deliberation and slides the bowl of buchu muchim towards Wei Ying. He shakes his head. “I usually have that when the meat comes. Here, I know you like noodles—have the japchae, I’m not really a fan.”

A lie. Wei Ying can clear off five orders of japchae on top of all the meat he and Jiang Cheng eat, but their last date had been pho and Lan Zhan could somehow finish a whole large bowl by himself, which he had not expected.

“Thank you,” says Lan Zhan. His gaze lingers on Wei Ying’s hand, where a visible scar lines the backs of his knuckles. He pulls it back, crosses it over his chest, and rests his weight upon his elbows at the edge of the table.

“I’m not great with cooking,” says Wei Ying, wishing that was all it had been. He’s never been self-conscious about it, but his hands are so rough and cracked in comparison to Lan Zhan’s. More than once he’s daydreamed about slipping his fingers into the curl of Lan Zhan’s palm, feel him squeeze back, but he wonders if Lan Zhan would recoil at the roughness of his skin.

“Did it hurt?”

Well—of course it hurt, but Wei Ying has never been asked, so he doesn’t know. If no one ever knows your pain, is it even real?

If anyone else were asking, Wei Ying would just laugh and wave, say, “Ha! Didn’t feel a thing,” but Lan Zhan is looking at him so earnestly, leaning forward across the table just to hear Wei Ying over the crackle of cooking meat. The gas stove pulses warm between them.

“A little,” he admits. “But it’s fine, I don’t try to cook anything that involves a lot of knife work anymore.”

Lan Zhan nods. He looks like he wants to say something else, but then their meat orders arrive, along with the steamed egg. Wei Ying, out of habit, reaches for the tongs, remembers that all the servers at Ahgassi usually do all the cooking for you, then sits back and lets them work without sticking his fingers into the fire.

“How long does it usually take?” Lan Zhan asks.

“To cook?”

“Mm.”

Wei Ying tosses the meat a few times after the server leaves. “For chadol, not long at all, they slice it so thin. As soon as it’s not red anymore, you can eat.” He rests the tongs back on the plate it came in. “You really don’t go to Korean BBQ that much, huh? Between the both of us, it sounds like we’re both hopeless at cooking.”

And still, it did not occur to him. Wei Ying generally prides himself in being an excellent problem solver, academia be damned, but he somehow remains oblivious for at least another hour.

“Tell me about your day,” says Lan Zhan.

“My day? I work in a preschool, Lan Zhan.”

“Yes. And?”

There must be a funny look on Wei Ying’s face. “You want to hear about that?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Oh. Well, uhm. Okay, so one of the students I think is absolutely an old god reborn in a toddler’s body.”

Lan Zhan listens to him. He listens to him about the child that must be an old god, the one who simply ‘does not believe in yellow,’ whatever that means, and the girl who tried to shut one of the boys in a drawer and would have succeeded if Wei Ying hadn’t caught her. Lan Zhan listens to him over his egg, over the braised potato, over the kimchi, over the bean sprouts that Wei Ying hates. He works his way steadily through the bowl of buchu muchim, taking a bite for every bit that Wei Ying tucks into his meat. A little pile of chadol and samgyupsal slices is going cold on his plate, ever growing as Wei Ying splits each batch between them.

“You’re not a vampire or anything, are you?” jokes Wei Ying when he finally splits the last batch of galbi between them. A miniature leaning tower of meat has piled up on Lan Zhan’s plate. “Were you not hungry?”

“The egg was lovely.”

“Yeah, but,” Wei Ying gestures at his full plate. “You didn’t eat anything else.”

“I had kimchi.”

“Yes, and your eyes watered. Was it really that spicy?”

Lan Zhan stares down at his plate. “Wei Ying,” he says.

“Yes,” says Wei Ying, progressively confused.

“I need you to know that I enjoyed dinner with you.”

“Oh,” Wei Ying says. This got suddenly very serious, very fast. He feels like he should put down his meat for this. “Well, I did too! But are you sure you’re even full?”

“Wei Ying.”

“Yes, Lan Zhan. What’s wrong?”

“I am vegetarian.”

 

(“Wangji, you’re home. Er—what restaurant was it, did you say? You smell of…”

“It was a wonderful date, Ge.”

“Was it?”)

 

Jiang Cheng laughs so hard he cannot stay upright.

“No fucking way,” he says, doubled over in the kitchen beside the foyer, where Wei Ying is currently facedown and trying to become one with the floor. Rude of the earth to not split open and swallow him yet. A stiff corner of Jiang Yanli’s high heel is digging into his forehead, but Wei Ying has no plans to move until his body grafts into the wood. “No fucking way, I can’t breathe, someone help. This is better than that time Wen Qing creamed your ass at claw machines.”

“Not a good enough reason to use the word creamed,” Wei Ying groans.

“A-Cheng,” Jiang Yanli admonishes.

“I just—of course that guy is vegetarian. Of fucking course! Did he seriously just sit there and watch you eat the whole time? How did it not occur to you?”

“I don’t know!” Wei Ying says. His hair is in his mouth. Maybe he’ll just suffocate on it if he tries hard enough. “This is where it ends for me, Jie. Don’t look for me. I’m going to go lie down in the street. I love you. Don’t fuck in my bed, Jiang Cheng.”

“I’ll make sure to.”

“Actually, I’m not concerned, you have less charm than a pizza box left out in the rain.”

“A-Xian,” says his sister. She has a comforting hand on his shoulder. “I’m sure it’s really not that bad. Didn’t you say he made it clear that he enjoyed dinner with you?”

“He did! But you know how people say, ‘You know, you’re great and all, and I’ve really enjoyed our time together, it’s not you it’s me,’ right before they dump you? He said it like that. Lan Zhan is way too nice for his own good, so obviously he’d say that first.” Also, Jiang Yanli has never been cruelly dumped on account of the fact that Wei Ying and Jiang Cheng alike would probably castrate the offending party, so she in fact would not know how people say that, because as annoying as her boyfriend is he’s the first and currently only one she’s ever had. “It’s fine. I’ll just die.”

“You will not be doing that. Why don’t you just text him, apologize again, and ask him out for another dinner to make up for it? If Lan Zhan really is as nice as you say he is, he’ll give you another chance.”

Wei Ying knows this makes plenty of logical sense. He sighs. His breath appears in a little cloudy spot of vapor on the wooden floor.

“I do not recall you being this dramatic about literally anyone else ever,” Jiang Cheng says.

“Because Lan Zhan is literally unlike anyone else ever, obviously.”

“Excuse me, A-Jie, I need to vomit.”

“Make sure to get in the toilet,” says Jiang Yanli.

Wei Ying sighs again, his breath rushing back into his face in a warm gust. “You’re right, A-Jie. Just leave me here to die for a bit. I’ll wrap up soon.”

“I made red bean soup, by the way, if you want some.” Jiang Yanli pats the back of his head.

“Oh! Hm. Dying postponed.”

 

Wei Ying 2:53 am
hi lan zhan! hope you got home safe. i forgot how kbbq smell clings to you for so long afterwards, when i took out my phone to text you it still smelled like our

Backspace.

Wei Ying 2:55 am
lan zhan, i actually considered not sending this message because

Backspace.

Wei Ying 3:02 am
hey!!!! i'm so sorry again about dinner tonight. if i'd known i definitely wouldn't have brought us to a restaurant like that!

Okay, okay.

Wei Ying 3:04 am
hey!!!! i'm so sorry again about dinner tonight. if i'd known i definitely wouldn't have brought us to a restaurant like that! i know you said you enjoyed it, but i hope you didn't go to sleep hungry :( uhmm i'll make it up to you by taking you to. a better dinner if you want that maybe but i totally get if you're not interested haha. for what it's worth i had a really good time!!!! i really, really hope you did too. thanks again and good night T_T

Breathe.

“You need to relax,” the ceiling tells him.

In the bed across the room, Jiang Cheng has gone to sleep. He’d put his phone down with a click, turning in his blankets with a grunt that was supposed to be a “good night.” Now Wei Ying has to lie alone with his thoughts, playing cranial pinball until he goes insane. Lan Zhan ah, Lan Zhan, this strange, curious man who always wears his hair over one shoulder, with a ribbon braided into it and tied at the ends. Lan Zhan never uses a hair tie. Lan Zhan, a vegetarian, apparently. Lan Zhan, who wants to hear about his students and his sister and even his scars, even the stupid ones.

It was supposed to just be a crush. It was supposed to be something fun, something easy, not this. Wei Ying looks at Lan Zhan, and it feels like seeing the world clearly and for what it is for the first time. Not perfect, but still beautiful, because it has Lan Zhan in it.

He likes him as though he has liked Lan Zhan for far longer than he’s ever known.

Wei Ying makes the mistake of peeking at his phone. The screen has gone dim, but not dark, and it blinks awake blearily at him when he taps his thumb in the center.

Read 3:07 AM

It’s 3:29 now.

Lan Zhan has seen it and it’s been over twenty minutes. He hasn’t replied.

Dying reinstated.

“You are thinking so fucking loud,” Jiang Cheng says. “Just go to sleep.”

“I do not sleep.”

“I’ve got melatonin. Or I could just knock you out the old-fashioned way.”

“I appreciate it,” says Wei Ying. “I’ll pass.”

“Mmpf.” Jiang Cheng pulls his covers over his head.

Wei Ying briefly considers going out and sitting in the kitchen with more red bean soup, because the steady breathing and midnight bumps of the apartment building lull him to sleep better than the oppressive silence of his room after Jiang Cheng falls asleep. Jiang Yanli is a light sleeper, though, and she’ll definitely ask him if he’s okay if she finds him sitting in the dark by himself. He’s not good with quiet; he always needs the TV running in the background, the bustle of a coffee shop, or the gentle roar of a storm at the windows, or else the pinball starts again.

But with Lan Zhan, it’s quiet. His thoughts settle. His whole fucking body settles, if that’s even possible, like he has been whitewater all his life and now finally knows what it’s like to lie still.

His phone glows in the darkness.

The typing bubble shows up in their message thread. Then it disappears. Wei Ying almost screams, until it appears again, and—

Lan Zhan 3:32 am
i had a lovely time with you.

But?

But.

But then,

Lan Zhan 3:33 am
i would like that.
very much!

An exclamation point. From Lan Zhan! Wei Ying throws his blankets off and leaps out of bed, abruptly incapable of staying prostrate. Adrenaline floods through him and he’s shaking so hard in his pajamas that his teeth might be chattering. He needs his thumbs to work. They’re jammed like aged rubber bands.

Wei Ying 3:33 am
as in, dinner again?

Lan Zhan 3:34 am
yes.

By six AM, no, he did not go to sleep, Wei Ying has identified every vegetarian restaurant in a fifty-mile radius.

 

Soft rains spackle the day they’re supposed to meet up for Wei Ying’s apology dinner.

It never rains. It’s not even the right season for rain. If this is a sign, Wei Ying sees it and chooses to ignore it.

He gets to Gokoku Vegetarian Ramen Shop half an hour early. It’s the least he can do, because if he shows up late to his own apology dinner, he might as well never show Lan Zhan his face again. The rain comes down a harder now, the mist turning into a drizzle, and he huddles under the narrow slice of overhang. Above him, the neon Open sign flickers in a wash of red-blue against his cheeks.

Then, only after about a quarter of an hour, a pale shadow falls over him.

“Wei Ying?”

He looks up, sound muted where his hoodie presses his hair into his ears. Lan Zhan has an umbrella, because of course he does. “You’re here early.”

“So are you!” Wei Ying blurts. “I—you said you didn’t wait long last time, but now I don’t know if i believe you.”

This was not what he was supposed to open with, but a faint smile colors the corner of Lan Zhan’s mouth and he brings his umbrella in. It’s patterned with clouds. “I do not mind waiting for you.”

“I—”

“Let’s go.”

Gokoku is tiny and lined with dark wood, and they’re seated at a table facing each other. Lan Zhan is entirely at ease as they order, as they get their waters, as he unwraps his chopsticks and breaks them neatly down the center without any unequal bits at the top. He also doesn’t have any splinters. The miniature puff of wood dust settles between them.

“You are worried,” says Lan Zhan. Says, doesn’t ask.

“Uhm,” says Wei Ying. “I—worried isn’t the right word. I mean, I am. I just—Lan Zhan, I’m really sorry about dinner last time. I work in a preschool, I work with so many different people, I know how important dietary restrictions are. I should have asked. It didn’t occur to me at all. So I wanted to apologize.”

“You do not need to apologize, Wei Ying.”

“I just feel horrible about it.”

“You did not hold my jaw open and force anything down my throat,” Lan Zhan says, matter-of-fact. “You did not even tell me to eat it when I didn’t.”

“Yeah, but I ate it in front of you. Like, for two hours.”

“Mm. That is not an issue for me personally.” Lan Zhan laces his fingers together on the table. “It’s not about where we ate dinner. I was just happy to spend time with you.”

A quiet calm, like a lake.

“Are you sure?”

“I am. Also, I like eggs.”

Wei Ying knows Lan Zhan is just trying to make him feel better, and he might even be telling the truth about the eggs—he’d gotten another order of gyeranjjim, just for himself—but it sounds like such a non-sequitur coming out of his mouth that laughter leaps from Wei Ying’s lips. Lan Zhan watches him and smiles again. Close-lipped as always, but it reaches his eyes, floating up like a handful of balloons against sky.

“Okay,” he says. “Okay, well, if you mean it, Lan Zhan. I’m holding you to that!”

“Mm. You can.”

And so dinner passes like that, and this time, Wei Ying asks Lan Zhan to tell him about his day—about his work in a humanitarian affairs committee, about the people he has to talk to, about the communities his work touches. It’s hard work but it’s meaningful work. He doesn’t talk quite as much or as fast as Wei Ying does, but he says so much with very little. Wei Ying could stand up and lean over the bowls full of noodles and just kiss him in the middle of the restaurant when Lan Zhan mentions the children’s protection program he oversees, but wisely chooses not to during dinner rush.

He doesn’t even remember what he ate when dinner is over. Lan Zhan was right. It’s not really about the food. Being able to share it in the same space is its own kind of magic.

“Do you want to go get boba?”

“Huh?” asks Wei Ying. The rain has worsened. “Right now?”

“Mm. I drove. We do not have to walk in the storm.”

“How do you know I always want boba?” says Wei Ying in lieu of saying holy shit I think I’m in love with you. I mean, I know I am.

“You said so.”

“I did?”

“Mm.”

“When?”

“What you actually said was, ‘If I am dying, I want you to hook me up to an IV full of jasmine milk tea with salted cheese and extra honey boba at 120% sweetness because blood is overrated.’”

“You…” Wei Ying sputters. “Remembered my order?”

Lan Zhan blinks, and says nothing.

“I guess I did say that, huh,” says Wei Ying, pulling his hood up as they step into the rain.

Lan Zhan holds out his umbrella so that Wei Ying can be under it, and they knock shoulders side by side until Wei Ying sighs and curls his hands around Lan Zhan’s arm so they’re anchored together beneath it. “Ah, keep me dry, Lan Zhan!”

“...Mm.” Lan Zhan’s ears go pink under his hair.

The boba shop they go to is always full of people, the clatter of ice in blenders, and the shouts of baristas hollering finished orders. A line trickles in a thin stream out from the entrance into the underpass where the front door is, and a damp breeze has picked up, so even without the excuse of needing to huddle under an umbrella, Wei Ying clings to Lan Zhan’s arm and doesn’t let go. It’s not really handholding, but the pink of Lan Zhan’s ears doesn’t fade. He runs so warm. Wei Ying, who has endlessly freezing hands and toes, presses hard into his side.

“Are you cold?” asks Lan Zhan.

“Ah, I’m always cold. I have no blood.”

Lan Zhan gently extricates his arm from Wei Ying’s grip, then puts his arm around his waist—for a wild, fleeting moment, Wei Ying thinks the roof of his skull might come off—and maneuvers them so that Lan Zhan is standing behind him, shielding Wei Ying from chill of the winds in the open doorway. Then he drops his hand, but his chest is against Wei Ying’s back. It’s just as warm anyway, warmer, in fact, and now at least the wind isn’t pushing her icy fingers up Wei Ying’s jacket.

“And they say chivalry is dead,” Wei Ying says weakly. “Thanks, Lan Zhan.”

Lan Zhan puts in both their orders, insisting that it’s his turn since Wei Ying had already paid for two dinners in a row. He rattles off Wei Ying’s order with perfect accuracy, and then orders oolong tea with no boba and no salted cheese and only some grass jelly, at 0% sweetness and 0% ice, and Wei Ying nearly revokes his title as Most Perfect Man Ever.

“Zero percent?” he asks incredulously when they make it back to the safety of Lan Zhan’s car, the rain coming down in fat teardrops. “Zero? Lan Zhan, that’s disgusting. Let me try.”

The straw is a little wet where Lan Zhan’s mouth had been, but Wei Ying leans over before his nonexistent impulse control can stop him and samples his drink. He pretends to gag when he pulls away. “How is that even good? Even regular tea tastes better than that.”

“Is it very unpleasant?” asks Lan Zhan.

His eyes are big, honest. The rain fogs up the windows around them until the world outside is soft blue and grey streaks.

“Ah...well, no, if you like it, then it’s good. Anything you like is good,” says Wei Ying, looking away. Lan Zhan’s car is spotless, with a little scent diffuser attached to the aircon vents. Sandalwood. “I mean, I hear my order is disgusting, too! Jiang Cheng says I’m barbaric. Want to try?”

Wei Ying holds his drink out, ice clinking mutely against the plastic cup. For a moment, the silence is just the ice and the rain, and Lan Zhan holds his gaze for so long that Wei Ying almost says, “Uh, sorry, never mind,” but then Lan Zhan too leans forward and takes a sip from his drink. A real one, too, not just a fakeout to seem polite. His head is so close that Wei Ying can smell the floral scent of his hair.

“Hm,” he says, pulling back. His face is still so close. Wei Ying should sit back straight, but his elbow rests on the console between the seats and he can’t pull himself away.

“Gross, right?” Wei Ying asks, ignoring the pound of his heart in his ears.

“An acquired taste.”

Lan Zhan smiles again, and Wei Ying pitches forward, dizzy with—want, the swell of emotion, the rain leaching away his common sense—and kisses Lan Zhan. Quick enough to gasp. Not long enough to breathe. It’s less touch and more a brief flash of warmth, but Wei Ying can taste the oolong tea on his lips when he pulls away.

Lan Zhan is staring at him, frozen. Wei Ying feels equally breathless, and this time does sit back in his seat, holding his drink between his thighs and focusing on his hands.

“Uhm,” he says, “I just ruined everything again, didn’t I?”

Out of the corner of his eye he sees Lan Zhan set his drink down in the cupholder, his seat squeaking when his weight shifts, and then his hand swims into Wei Ying’s field of vision and takes his own. Lan Zhan doesn’t startle at how cracked his knuckles are or how rough his palms feel against his own skin. He just says, “Wei Ying,” and waits for him to look at Lan Zhan again.

He does. And Lan Zhan kisses him.

Like Wei Ying, he pulls away again after a heartbeat, but only enough to give Wei Ying room to stop if he wants. He’s too close for Wei Ying to really look at him, so he looks down at Lan Zhan’s mouth and leans in and kisses him.

This time it’s: oolong tea and also the grass jelly and all the honeyed sugar from his own drink, too, still wet on Lan Zhan’s mouth. He lets go of Lan Zhan’s hand to reach up and find his cheek, and Lan Zhan shivers when Wei Ying cradles his jaw and slants his face so he can kiss him deeper. Oh, he never tried that, but the results of it are lovely; he’ll have to do it again. He’ll have to do it every time. Wei Ying’s other hand wanders to Lan Zhan’s collar, where there’s some kind of sash or bow, he can’t tell, Lan Zhan always dresses so nicely that even in a city as big as theirs he can feel heads turn when they go out.

But he gets this. Wei Ying gets this, Lan Zhan in a car in the rain, his hands on the column of his neck, his mouth warm warm warm on his. He gets to know what it sounds like when Lan Zhan kisses him, soft and wet, his breath coming shaky.

He’s also getting lightheaded.

Lan Zhan’s hair is mussed over his ear when Wei Ying pulls back just enough to breathe, their foreheads pressed together. His hand runs up to Wei Ying’s jaw, pinky resting over his pulse, his touch an ember. Wei Ying’s heart burns there, too.

Then Lan Zhan runs his finger just below his chin, and tips Wei Ying’s face up once more so he can kiss him again. Soft. An afterthought. I want to do that again, if you do.

“Okay,” says Wei Ying. “Lan Zhan. Okay.”

“Mm.”

“I like you. I like you so much. I know I just like, insulted your drink, and then we uhm, made out in your car, but I just like you. I’ve never been this nervous but this calm around someone. So I guess that means I really like you a lot.”

Lan Zhan laughs—he actually laughs, just a two-step breath in quick succession from his nose, but Wei Ying feels his shoulders shake with mirth.

“Are you laughing at me? Lan Zhan, I just confessed!”

“I like you, Wei Ying.” He leans in, slower this time, and Wei Ying lets his kiss melt into him. “Nervous and calm, too.”

“I always feel like my heart is gonna come out of my mouth whenever you look at me.”

“Hmm.”

“I’m serious!”

“I know. It is…” Lan Zhan clears his throat, reaches for his tea, drinks deeply. “The same, for me. I feel the same.”

“Rich coming from you. You just kissed me within an inch of my life, Lan Zhan.”

Lan Zhan looks at him. “We will have to work on your stamina, then.”

“I—” Heat roars in Wei Ying’s cheeks. “You can’t say that, Lan Zhan! Also, you have to warn me if you’re going to kiss me like that again, I can’t feel my legs.”

“What should I do?”

“I don’t know. I’ll consult my Google calendar and we can pencil in kissing around our schedules and then I’ll psych myself up for them five hours ahead.”

“Okay,” says Lan Zhan. “I am free tomorrow.”

Wei Ying puts his face in his hands. They’re so hot to the touch, he feels drunk. “Do you want to come over?” he asks, before he can chicken out.

“Is your place,” Lan Zhan pauses as he starts the car, “free?”

“Yeah. If it’s not, I’ll just kick Jiang Cheng out. My sister can stay. She owes me for how many times I’ve had to see her boyfriend.” He thinks about Lan Zhan in his apartment, in the mess of things, against the cool green paint of his room. In his bed. Hair messier than it is now, because Wei Ying messed it up, cheeks red, mouth redder. Staying over, maybe. He considers Lan Zhan in pajamas for a nanosecond and has to stop his train of thought there.

It’s suddenly too hot to bear in the car, and he rolls down the window as Lan Zhan pulls out of the parking lot.

Wet breeze blusters against his face. On the horizon, watery sunset breaks through the clouds.

“It stopped raining,” Wei Ying says, smelling the rain-pungence of the city, like the world has just been reborn puddled and wet. “I thought it was strange that it would rain today.”

“Mm. The sun is out.”

“Yeah,” hums Wei Ying. “I think it’s a good sign.”

wxkbbq