Zhu Yilong and Bai Yu had been playing games for a while now. After killing off his teammate and owing him several cokes he was ready to try another strategy. He was pretty sure Zhu Yilong would never let him touch his tail again if he killed his player on screen again. The stakes were high but he just couldn’t stop messing with him. Or he would miss the interesting faces that Zhu Yilong made when he was annoyed.
When he was sure that his Long-ge was fully immersed in the game, he let his player stumble a little and then dropped the ultimate bomb,
Zhu Yilong hummed absentmindedly, his tongue peaking out in concentration. Was it a weird time to remember that cats have a very rough texture for tongues? Yes, his roommate was a Siberian cat hybrid with the fluffiest tail and softest ears to exist. It was very common for cat hybrids to room together with a human for safety purposes and for the sake of convenience- however they could also room with another cat if they felt like it.
But Zhu Yilong was different.
He was a cat who didn’t know how to well...cat. So he lived like any other human being with extra appendages which were the only giveaways about him. Usually the hybrids he had met so far always exhibited the behaviours from animal counterparts too which was imbibed in their very existence, they couldn’t control it even if they tried. Zhu Yilong on the other hand appeared more human than any other human to exist and nothing like the cat he was. For reasons unknown he was glad Zhu Yilong chose to room with him- as shocked as he had been to find such an adorable cat hybrid on his doorway, it was really amazing that they had hit it off well so far.
“I have been wondering…”
“Hurry up Lao-Bai, what are you drawing out the suspense for?”
“Uh...forgive me for asking this-” Bai Yu began sheepishly, “But can you meow?”
“What?” Zhu Yilong’s player got shot that instant and his controller fell with a dull clack.
An awkward silence passed by and Bai Yu waited for something, anything-
“If you want to listen to meows then why not adopt a cat huh?” A pillow hit him, square in the face but his grin was still in place now that he won the game and had Zhu Yilong’s full attention. “I don’t want to listen to any other meow but your-”
Bai Yu would have pushed for more if he didn’t see Zhu Yilong levelling a glare at him which translated to ‘I dare you to complete that sentence.’ His ears were upright and the tail which lain perfectly still before started to swish around in a pulsing rhythm.
The tail was now wrapped around Zhu Yilong protectively between his legs while his ears had flattened a little. He sighed as if Bai Yu was a little kid he had to put up with, daily. Bai Yu was carefully observing the way his fur shone brightly under the rays of the sun and how soft they looked. It was only after a long time of rooming together Zhu Yilong let him fluff his tail but his ears were still off limits and that was a level he had yet to unlock.
Bai Yu had weeped internally the first time he had the honor of touching the fluffy tail. Zhu Yilong would probably give him judgemental looks if he had done that in reality so yeah, it was strictly internal.
“Go away!” It was still spoken in a soft and hushed tone settling like tiny bursts of warmth on his skin. Another pillow was aimed at him which again hit him in the face since he had spaced out and probably landed on Neptune with how his thoughts had been racing. “You always ask me weird questions!”
“I can’t help it!” Zhu Yilong’s ears twitched because of his pitch and he automatically lowered his voice before continuing, “Are you even a cat? I can’t help but be curious.”
“Do all cats have to meow?” Zhu Yilong fired back like a hissing cat- ah if one squinted really hard, the traits were all there but they blended well with his persona. “Even I can do that! And I am not even a cat or a cat hybrid!” Bai Yu was used to salvaging the situation after he had entrapped himself in it because he had long understood that he couldn’t keep his goddamn mouth shut.
“Oh?” Zhu Yilong gave him a fake smile and a pair of raised eyebrows. “How come I am discovering this unique talent today?” Bai Yu rolled his eyes at the sarcasm. “Yeah I am a man of many talents, what do you know?”
“Then why don’t you demonstrate?” The fake smile was still in place and honestly Bai Yu had expected this so he was prepared for the attack. “On one condition.”
“Do I have to pay VIP charges to watch the live demo?” Long-ge deadpanned but his ears were twitching with interest and his tail was uncurling again.
“You have to meow with me.” Bai returned the fake smile with the fake eye-smile of his own.
“Meow by yourself!” Zhu Yilong was up and inside his room faster than Bai Yu’s eyes could register. There was something extremely cat-like with how fast he had managed to get up and cross the room with an agility that could never be possessed by any human that has ever existed. On another note he had found his roommate to be dangerously cute throughout the duration of this exchange. That was the real problem. He found Zhu Yilong, his siberian cat hybrid of a roommate, to be cute even if he stormed off in annoyance like he had done, a few minutes ago.
Bai Yu let out a muffled scream in one of the pillows Long-ge had thrown at him before.
However, that had been one of the rare incidents where Bai Yu was messing with his roommate. Most of the time they got along well because it didn’t even take a day till Zhu Yilong was back and didn’t stop poking him while demanding food. It wasn’t as if either of them were talented at cooking but Bai Yu had taken valiant efforts to learn simple dishes so that they could survive living by themselves in Beijing.
“No, Long-ge you cannot order hotpot everyday. Besides that’s not even healthy.” Bai Yu chided a sulky Zhu Yilong gently while he brought over the food to their table. Zhu Yilong was still extremely focused on determining the quality of the wood of their dining table and was clearly avoiding his stare. What made Bai Yu sigh were the drooping ears on Zhu Yilong’s head. It made him appear more pitiful.
“Hm?” Zhu Yilong still didn’t look up but his ears twitched towards the source of the soft voice. . Bai Yu looked away with a grimace but internally he was amused. Extremely amused.
Even as Zhu Yilong picked up his chopsticks and began to eat he didn’t look up, oh god he was one stubborn man- or a stubborn cat.
“Ah...I am getting tired of cooking everyday” Bai Yu leaned back on his chair watching his roommate intently who was busy shoving the food in his mouth. “I don’t feel like cooking anymore!” This definitely got a reaction as Zhu Yilong finally paused his eating and slowly looked up. “Get to the point, Lao-Bai.” His roommate was as deadpan as ever and knew him a little too well.
“All I am saying is...Let’s go out this Sunday?” Bai Yu was sure that Zhu Yilong almost dropped his chopsticks when he looked up again, his movements paralysed due to shock. “Go where?” There was a smile spreading over his face and his tail was forming a question mark in pure anticipation. Their apartment was getting too bright and he almost felt blinded.
“Aiya Long-ge am I supposed to be deciding everything? Don’t you share the responsibilities here?” Zhu Yilong nodded enthusiastically while chewing the food happily, practically vibrating with newfound energy. Yes... that was the smile he was looking for. Bai Yu’s hand automatically reached out to pet Zhu Yilong’s head when his brain forcefully put a stop to it before he could touch the ears.
Zhu Yilong continued to look at him with wide eyes and blinked at him curiously when his hand remained frozen midair. Damn it! It took all of his willpower to withdraw his hand but it had to be done. They hadn’t talked about this and he couldn’t stomach the thought of upsetting Zhu Yilong with his impulsive actions. What he missed was a brief look of sadness in Zhu Yilong’s downturned eyes.
Zhu Yilong worked as a composer and mostly stayed at home and only stepped out if he deemed it necessary while Bai Yu worked at his father’s company so he had to go out almost daily. Which also meant that their apartment was mostly maintained by Long-ge and all the grocery and cooking responsibilities fell on Bai Yu.
It sounded stressful but he had grown to enjoy doing it especially when it included a certain cat.
There were days when Zhu Yilong forgot to eat, working on his piece restlessly till he achieved the perfection he wanted from himself. And there were days when Bai Yu would return to Zhu Yilong’s soulful voice filling up their apartment accompanied by the sound of his guitar. Those were the days Zhu Yilong played for himself and his enjoyment, the sound of pure joy which was reflected in his music. It was when Bai Yu nursed a cup of coffee while unwinding to the sound of relaxing music, and all the accumulated tension seeping out from his body till he was completely lax on the couch.
Sometimes he fell asleep on the couch when relaxation transitioned into sleep. And next day he would find that his coffee mug was washed and neatly stacked away into the cupboard and his body covered by a blanket. Perhaps, it was a normal thing between roommates that shared an apartment but the warmth filling up his heart was surely not because of the blanket alone.
Zhu Yilong was too considerate and Bai Yu was far too weak to not read too much into it and far too helpless to not fall for it.
Bai Yu had been sighing miserably in his hands when his roommate strutted out wearing an oversized yellow hoodie and the first thing to greet his line of vision was the slim pair of long legs because Zhu Yilong had chosen to forgo the pants and the hoodie only came up to his thighs. Actually his sanity was grateful for the tiny bit of coverup.
Was the relaxing night supposed to lead to a torturous morning?
Another glance at the pale legs and he was sure of it.
Zhu Yilong was a conservative cat hybrid but lately he seemed to have gotten comfortable enough to walk around like this. However something else was getting rather uncomfortable and he rushed out to take a cold shower when he saw the chance, before his Long-ge snapped out his muddled state and gave him one of his adorable smiles over the rim of his cup.
Or in Bai Yu’s words, Code Red: Before it escalated to something so cute that it led to some emergencies.
His teeny weeny crush had grown into a hulking monster that had begun to rattle the walls of his heart and roar indecent ideas into his idiotic brain. Yes, this was getting out of hand and no, he was too stubborn to leave his Long-ge and find another roommate.
Sadly he was too stubborn to confess as well.
Bai Yu had been working on his presentation for the upcoming meeting when something poked his arm. It wasn't until he got poked again that it was something soft and equally furry. His eyes followed the tail attached to the owner who had been watching him all this while with a bored look. When he failed to respond appropriately the tail poked him again.
Bai Yu caught the tail in a gentle grip where Zhu Yilong could withdraw it even with the lightest effort. He took off his glasses and smiled at his roommate, “What is it Long-ge? I am sorry I haven’t been able to play with you-” Bai Yu had been watching the expressive face the whole time so he lost his trail of thought when Zhu Yiong rolled his eyes.
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” His tail poked at Bai Yu with each word and he seemed unamused.
Bai Yu scratched his head in dismay and Zhu Yilong sighed.
His tail swished up and down in Bai Yu’s line of vision and then wrapped itself around his wrist. “Come, help me with my tail Xiao Bai.”
“But-” Bai Yu felt paralysed under the piercing glare Zhu Yilong was directing at him.
“Did I stutter?”
“Then get the brush and get to work.”
“Ay, ay Sir.” Zhu Yilong slumped down bonelessly on the couch with a victorious smirk.
Bai Yu worked on smoothening the fur on Zhu Yilong’s tail in silence, his exhaustion melting away with each stroke of the brush, his mind enjoyed clinging onto the tranquility of these mundane tasks which weren’t mundane at all because he got to see a very relaxed Zhu Yilong humming a tune as he let Bai Yu work on his tail.
His mind having emptied of the work related stress was now a devil’s workspace. He wondered about the exact number of people who had this privilege of grooming Zhu Yilong’s wonderful golden fur. “I can hear you thinking Xiao-Bai.” Zhu Yilong muttered sullenly.
“How can I not Long-ge? Look at your tail...How come it has gotten like this?”
Zhu Yilong’s tail began to squirm in its grip, trying to withdraw, “If you are going to complain-” He began in a very low tone.
“I am sorry Long-ge, I am sorry… May I?” Zhu Yilong watched him for a second before his tail resumed its previous position and Bai Yu felt like he could finally breathe. “I didn’t mean to offend you.” Bai Yu gave Zhu Yilong a small smile, “I am just worried-”
“And whose fault is that?” Zhu Yilong fired back instantly.
Bai Yu hands paused and he looked up at Zhu Yilong whose eyes opened at the same time, watching him lazily. To anybody else it was his usual aloof expression but he knew him well enough to spot the underlying challenge- his eyes were practically glimmering with it.
“Are you saying that you haven’t been taking care of yourself...because of me?”
“If I recall correctly, wasn’t it you who was so enthusiastic about doing this for me?” Zhu Yilong answered his question with yet another question. His eyes, his beautiful eyes seemed to be brimming with affection rather than annoyance that his words seemed to suggest. Probably it was Zhu Yilong’s roundabout way of reaffirming things, reassuring himself that they still had this routine between them.
“I apologize for neglecting my responsibilities, Is there any way I can make amends?”
Zhu Yilong’s eyes sparkled intensely with that question and his ears were alert.
“Is that hotpot again?” Zhu Yilong shook his head impatiently and Bai Yu’s eyes widened but his heart was speeding up in anticipation.
“Actually, I have another request for you…” Bai Yu continued to run the comb in up and down motions even when the fur was completely smoothed out. He had to be patient if he wanted Zhu Yilong to continue their conversation. Zhu Yilong, who had been still all this while, moved suddenly and quickly so that his head was resting on Bai Yu’s lap with the back of his head facing him. Bai Yu shook his head fondly, putting the brush away.
It seemed like there were still things that his Long-ge was unwilling to voice out and tended to fall back on his cat-like habits. Bai Yu put his hand tentatively in Zhu Yilong’s hair, “Is this okay?”
Zhu Yilong sighed and responded, “Everything is okay, just- just keep doing it.”
Bai Yu experimentally ran his hands through Zhu Yilong’s dark hair and the man on his lap relaxed considerably as Bai Yu adjusted his head for him to settle more comfortably. Hesitantly he made his way to the flattened ears, internally marvelling at the softness while gently petting them. The ears twitched in his direction, as if seeking his hand again. He scratched behind the ears and Zhu Yilong shifted with a content smile and a breathy sigh.
Bai Yu felt the tail brushing against his arm like a silent plea, so well who was he to refuse.
A series of low vibrating noises resonated in the quiet living room and it took him a while to realize that Zhu Yilong was purring. His hands paused their motions in shock.
“Why did you stop?!” Zhu Yilong hissed at him and Bai Yu could feel the lines of tension radiating from his body. Zhu Yilong then relaxed again with a cough and rolled over to face him, now looking at him straight in the eye. “Xiao-Bai it’s okay, it felt good.”
Bai Yu felt flustered at being comforted like this and yet Zhu Yilong had read his anxiety before he could identify them and soothed him with few words alone. Bai Yu smiled shakily before putting his hand back in his hair. How was it that they were able to read each other so flawlessly? Has it always been like this?
Zhu Yilong sighed and Bai Yu ceased the thoughts for a while. Zhu Yilong wanted him to relax and he would stop at nothing to ensure that.
“I thought I would never see this day.... Ah.” Zhu Yilong was looking at him again and it sent his heart in a frenzy with how clear and unobstructed the view was. “I thought you would never ask!” Bai Yu exclaimed trying to break the eye contact and restore his heart and brain settings. There was nowhere he could hide now and Long-ge’s silent stares weren’t making it easier.
“Ah...gege is too sly-”
“Isn’t that you?” Zhu Yilong seemed to be amused for some reason.
Bai Yu gestured to himself in shock, “how and why?”
“You know that I like you, right? You make me feel all these things and yet you wouldn’t even take responsibility!”
“I know- wait what?” Bai Yu looked up at the ceiling in exasperation, “You are really too sly and not at all shy!” Zhu Yilong burst out in a fit of giggles. “How am I supposed to take any responsibility when you never even confessed!”
Zhu Yilong rolled his eyes and swatted at him, “We are practically living a married life by human standards and you still want a confession?”
Bai Yu gulped before asking, “We are?” Zhu Yilong glared, raising his hand to swat at him.
“We are.” Bai Yu answered his own question feeling like the dumbest human to walk this planet. Zhu Yilong brought Bai Yu’s hand back to his ears and closed his eyes looking every bit like a cat lounging lazily. “Xiao-Bai?”
“Y-yes?” What Zhu Yilong was unaware of was how Bai Yu was doing somersaults and cartwheels internally. “I confessed already.” And then Zhu Yilong turned away from him with his arms folded and Bai Yu couldn’t resist leaning down and pecking his cheek for being so adorable. “I like you too, gege.”
“You- that is- so unfair!” Zhu Yilong spoke like a broken machine and then hid his face behind his hands in embarrassment. But Bai Yu already knew his face was red and there was a helpless smile on his face. “Well you are the one who is being unfairly cute right now.”
Zhu Yilong kicked out his legs helplessly, still covering his face and turning away from Bai Yu’s leering grin, “Stop it! I am not cute!” Bai Yu scratched behind his ears again making him freeze up and then melt into a purring puddle . Aha! This seemed to be a very effective method and he was glad to have discovered it. “Just accept it gege, you are~” Bai Yu sing-songed to the purring cat-hybrid in his lap.
Zhu Yilong ignored him in the favour of his wonderful hands and they spent the rest of the night relaxing in each other’s presence unaware of when exactly they fell asleep.
The next morning Zhu Yilong woke up to the sight of Bai Yu’s sunny smile which caused him to feel a low thrum of indescribable joy pulsing through his veins.
“Morning gege!” Bai Yu pecked him on the lips and hurried away to shower, leaving him dazed and flushed. Zhu Yilong once again found himself hiding his face in his hands because it seemed like Bai Yu might be too much for his weak little heart.
“Let’s go out tonight!” Bai Yu hollered on his way out. “And it’s a date!” Bai Yu spoke too fast but he didn’t forget to flash a huge smile at Zhu Yilong on his way out, who by the way almost fumbled with this coffee mug grumbling about being exposed to the exceeding amount of brightness the first thing in the morning.