Zhao Zi was walking to school when he suddenly felt two hands on his shoulders. He quickly jerked away, hand clutching his chest while turning around to look at the perpetrator. He let out a sigh of relief when he saw who it was.
"Geez... don't do that to me." He said while hitting the culprit's chest with a small smile.
A chuckle came free from the other guy's mouth before he started talking.
"Ready for the last day of school before the break?" Jack said with a grin and swung his arm around Zhao Li An's shoulders.
"Obviously! We'll have two weeks to just eat and sleep... eat some more." He answered with an enormous smile.
"It's always about food with you!" Jack pinched Zhao Zi's cheek with his hand that was around his shoulder.
"Ouchh!" He tried to pry his hand away. Once he succeeded, they started walking towards their school together again. They wouldn't want to be late on their last day before the break, or they'll get in trouble.
Fang Liang Dian, which was Jack's official name, and Zhao Li An had been friends for three years now. There's a two year age gap between the two of them, with Jack being the older one. How did they become friends when they're not even in the same school year? That's a story for another time.
Once they started to get closer to the school, Jack opened his mouth again after listening to the shorty's rambling the rest of the way.
"Hey, shorty... You do still remember we're going to start our new tradition tonight, right?"
"I'm not short!" He pouted back before answering his question.
"Of course, I remember! You're going to cook for me tonight, how could I not remember that? ...You are still going to cook for me, right? Because we agreed to start our sleepover tradition at my apartment on one condition, and that was that you would cook for me."
A hand ruffled through his hair at his answer while a soft sigh made itself present.
"Okay, good. I was worried that you would've forgotten and that I brought my bag for nothing with me. And yes, I will still cook for you, don't worry. We'll have to go to the supermarket after school then, oke? You can pick out what you'd like me to make for you."
That was the exact answer Zhao Zi liked to hear, and he made that noticeable with his enormous bright smile.
It was time they said each other goodbye because they had to go to their respective classes. Both of their classes were very noisy today, and that was due to all the excitement of not having to go to school for two weeks. That actually made the day feel longer for Liang Dian. Zhao Zi, on the other hand, was having lots of fun with his classmates.
At last, the bell rang, letting everyone know that the day was over, and their break began. Zhao Zi left his classroom with one of his friends, walking towards their lockers.
"A'Fei, do you have anything planned for these two weeks?"
The other let out a long sigh before answering.
"Yeah... The teacher got mad at me again, so I have to do extra homework for him. Which means that I won't be able to meet up with A'Yi for at least a week. I don't get it! He always picks me out of everyone in our class! What did I do so wrong today?"
"Well... to start off, you came in late today. Then you managed to disturb the teacher by interrogating one of our friends, and lastly, you even succeeded to fall asleep! No wonder he picked you out today. Geez." Zhao Zi answered him with a sigh and a smile. His friend was a special one, they'd known each other for 6 years already!
He felt a hand land on top of his head softly and turned towards the person it belonged to.
"All set to go, shorty?" Jack smiled at him.
"How many times do I have to tell you that I am not short? I'm average sized! You're just tall!"
"Sure, sure. Whatever makes you happy" The taller one laughed.
"Hmpf." Zhao Zi pouted at him before turning back to his friend Shao Fei.
"I'll see you later then, okay? Good luck with your extra work and give my greetings to Tang Yi once you see him. Have a nice holiday." He said as he gave his friend a hug.
Shao Fei pushed his head away with the palm of his hand.
"Yeah, yeah. I'll do that. Now enjoy your holiday Zhao Zi, I'll see you later again. Also, if something happens or you need me for something, message me, alright?" Once he got a nod back, he continued talking. "Now, go. Your senior is waiting." He gave him a little push towards Jack.
Jack grinned at the two guys in front of him.
He swung his two bags over his shoulder with one hand and slung his other arm over the shorter one's shoulders.
Zhao Zi turned around to look at Shao Fei once more so he could wave at him.
"Bye, bye!" He said with a grin before he walked with Jack out of the school.
"Say, Jack... Do you want to drop off your stuff at my house first or directly go to the supermarket?"
"Let's just go buy the groceries now because the supermarket is on our way anyway. Otherwise, we'll have to walk back again after dropping our stuff off."
After a lot of story exchanges and laughter, they arrived at the supermarket. Jack was pushing their shopping cart while Zhao Zi was taking all kinds of products from the shelves. Each time he found something he thought was delicious, he'd either try to sneakily put it into the cart or just hold it in front of Jack's face with a grin. Jack just sighed a lot in fake annoyance as a response to his antics. It didn't leave much of an impact on the other though, because Zhao Zi could see the corners of his mouth turn up.
After another annoying facade, he started to poke the taller one.
"Aww, you know that you love me!" He teased him while still poking him. But what he didn't notice was the quick change in Jack's eyes once he said that.
Liang Dian just ruffled his hair in return before he started to push their cart again, this time to the checkout.
"Come on," he said, "we have to hurry up because I still need to prepare all of this. Otherwise, you won't be able to eat at a normal time."
And with that, Zhao Zi hurriedly followed him to the checkout. Anything for food!
Zhao Li An managed to grab one grocery bag to hold before the other could stop him, the older one didn't want to let him carry anything.
On their way to Zhao Zi's apartment Jack just silently listened to his ramblings again until they arrived at their destination.
"Here..." He said while holding his hand out.
The younger of the two looked at him quizzically.
"Your schoolbag and grocery bag give them to me. Then you can open the door for us."
"Ohh." he complied and took his wallet out of his pocket after that to get his key. He held the door open for Jack so he could get in.
"I'm home," he mumbles before talking to Jack again, "welcome to my house. You've never been inside yet, right? Here, I'll take your bag to my room."
He took their schoolbags and Jack's extra bag from him with a smile.
"You can put the other bags in the kitchen there. Follow me, I'll show you to the bathroom. I assume that you'd also prefer to get rid of your uniform and change into something more casual?"
Jack obeyed his orders and soon started to follow him upstairs, letting his gaze take in everything. He got sidetracked as he found pictures on the walls.
A baby. He was so small here, that's adorable. ...Ah, these must be his parents then? He has told me about them. That old lady must be his grandma, you can definitely see they're family.
One of the reasons Jack had suggested to start this sleepover tradition is because he knew Zhao Zi lived on his own since his parents, and eventually, his grandma passed away. School breaks are usually spent with your family and since he doesn't have any... He didn't want him to be alone, so he wanted to accompany him for a few days.
Whenever they met up outside of school, they'd usually go eat somewhere, hence why he'd never been to his house yet in these past three years.
"-ack...? Fang Liang Dian!"
He got snapped out of his thoughts once he felt hands in his. He looked down at his hands to see that Zhao Zi got a hold of them. With a confused look, he gazed at the younger one's face.
"Hey, Liang Dian, are you alright? Do you not feel well?" A hand got placed on his forehead. "It doesn't seem like you've got a fever... Wait."
He started to pull on Jack's hands so that the older one had to bow down a little. Soon, his hand moved his hair away, and he placed his own forehead against his. This made taller one close his eyes.
"Ah... You do feel a bit warm though. Maybe this wasn't a good idea today." The shorter one mumbled as he pulled back again.
Jack opened his eyes again, a little bit shocked.
"Wait, no, I'll be fine. I am fine!"
The younger one looked at him as if he was the most suspicious being in the world, which made Jack chuckle.
"Trust me. You were going to show me to the bathroom, right? Let me take a shower, and I'll start working on dinner. You can work on your homework in the meantime then, I know that you've still got an assignment due after the break."
Zhao Zi let out a huff and showed him towards the bathroom.
"Here, towels. You can use whatever of mine, act like it's your home. And take your time, don't worry about the food for now."
Jack shot him a smile, and once Zhao Zi left, he locked the door and leaned on the sink. A sigh left his lips as he looked at his own reflection. His ears had turned red.
Great... As if that wasn't obvious at all. Good thing he's dense and thought my temperature was high. I almost gave myself away.
He smiled as he remembered Zhao Zi's worried face from just minutes ago and touched his own forehead.
After he showered, he put on some black joggers and a plain white shirt. With a towel around his neck, still rubbing into his hair so now and then, he started to walk downstairs towards the kitchen. To his surprise, however, he saw that Zhao Zi was already in there, cutting up some vegetables.
"Ah, you're done?" He said once he finally noticed his presence. "I didn't want to let you do all the work when you're not feeling well, so I went ahead and cut somethings for you already."
But I'm not sick...
"Thanks, but you can leave now. I can handle making food myself, you know? Time for you to take a shower."
Zhao Zi turned to him and stared at him in silence. He snapped out of it soon though, because Jack started to laugh at him.
"Like what you see?" He teased him.
"...Wha? I'm going to take a shower now." He responded as he lightly shook his head.
Once Zhao Zi got back down in his dark blue checkered pyjama pants and a black shirt, he smelled some nice aromas coming from the kitchen. It made his mouth water. Now his only option was to go and check out what Jack has been making. So that's what he did, he went to the kitchen and sneaked up on Jack. His arms snaked around the taller one's waist as he peeked his head around his arm.
"What are you making, it smells good. And when are you done cooking?"
Jack froze at the contact for a few seconds. He came to know that Zhao Zi was touchy-feely in the past 3 years, but he still wasn't used to it. Especially not since his recently found feelings. Not that he minded having Zhao Zi touch him.
"Mapo Tofu, Pan-Fried SoySauce Noodles, Beef Rice Noodle Stir-Fry, and Matcha Bubble Waffles as the desert. Since somehow your stomach is a black hole, devouring everything you eat."
"You know me so well." Zhao Zi laughed as he rested his head against his back.
"Go sit at the table, it's almost done."
After they're done with eating, which ended up in a lot of praise towards Jack from the younger one, Zhao Zi washed the dishes.
"I told you that I am capable of washing dishes too, you know?"
"Yeah, but you already made the food, I'd feel bad if I didn't do something in return. I haven't completely lost my manners yet, and I'm almost done anyway. ...Can you grab two glasses and a bowl for me?"
Jack complied to his wishes while Zhao Zi started to dry off his hands. He crouched down to be face level with a cabinet before he opened it. After taking a bag of popcorn out of it, he stood up again and nudged Jack to go upstairs.
"Let's watch a movie, okay?" Zhao Zi grinned at him.
So that's what they did, they sat on Zhao Zi's bed with the lights out for the best movie experience. They had watched two movies already and they were halfway in their third one. Lots of popcorn tricks were made, which ended up with quite a few kernels on the floor. Jumpscares were had, laughter was heard, and they had the time of their lives.
Once they started in their fifth film, Zhao Zi started to doze off. He eventually fell asleep, and Jack decided it was best to turn off Zhao Zi's laptop. He, himself, couldn't fall asleep, however, so he just sat there, staring at the other's sleeping face.
When he almost started to fall asleep himself, he felt the other stirring around in his sleep. Soft mumblings were heard from the shorter one's mouth. His facial expression had changed from a peaceful one to one that was afraid. His soft, tranquil breathing turned into shallow ones. Those mumbles that were incoherent started to become more clear.
"No... Mom... Dad... Grandma, not you." With each word, his voice began to tremble more. His whole body started to shake. But the words that left his mouth after those were the ones where he also started to cry.
"No, no... Don't leave me, not you too... You're the only one... I have left."
Jack was taken aback at first, not knowing what to do. But once he heard the sobbing of the other, he pulled the sleeping one into his arms. He rubbed circles on his back and whispered to him until he started to calm down. It broke his heart to see his, usually bubbly, friend... no crush, like this.
"Shh... Zhao Zi, you're alright. Wake up... You're having a nightmare, shorty."
He planted a kiss on top of his head and kept moving his hands over the other's back, even after he eventually felt two hands clutch the front of his shirt.
"Jack..." A strangled sob was heard from the younger.
"You're okay, you're safe. It was just a nightmare." He whispered to him as he stroked his hair.
The hands that grasped his shirt slowly let loose and they moved towards his back, getting them into a hugging position. He held onto him tightly.
"I..." He hiccuped. "I dreamed that you were gone. That you also left me, like everyone else in my life." Zhao Zi said before he buried his face into the older one's chest.
Jack's eyes widened at that statement. After he came to his senses, he hugged Zhao Zi tightly.
"I'm not going anywhere. I won't just leave you." He whispered as he placed his chin on top of the other's head.
"Yeah?" He encouraged him to keep talking.
"Can we stay like this for a little while longer?" Zhao Zi responded softly, still with a broken sounding voice.
"For as long as you need, Zhao Li An... For as long as you need." Jack answered before giving him a peck on the top of his head.
Zhao Zi froze for a second before he snuggled up further into Jack.
"...Thank you." He whispered to the older.
They eventually both fell asleep into each other's embrace.