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Eternal summer - the chaos after you

Chapter Text

It’s a normal Wednesday afternoon, quiet for once in his usually busy schedule. Zhu Yilong is sitting at his desk in his office, bent over the piles of paperwork in front of him. He scrunches his nose and steals glances out of his large office windows. This is the part of the job he hates. What he loves is to help to make his clients’ vision happen, and that passion has led him to where he is today, ranked as the country’s best architect. He does flush a bit at the title whenever he thinks about it, but the award is nonetheless displayed proudly on his desk.

One thing that Zhu Yilong laments often, is how different his life would be if certain things didn’t happen or he hadn’t met certain people. For example, would he have become an architect if he actually passed his university entrance exams like everyone expected him to?

Sometimes when Zhu Yilong closes his eyes, he’d see images of two boys in school uniforms running along the seashore, chasing each other and laughing as they went. Sometimes, if he focused, it felt like he could smell the sea water and hear the waves crash on shore, he could hear their voices drown in the wind.

“Long-ge! Hurry up!”

“Wait for me, Bai Yu!”

“I am waiting for you, hurry up!” Bai Yu’s voice was clear as day, even if it had been years since they last saw each other. He was a few months younger than Zhu Yilong, and he had always been a bit smaller, physically speaking, but that wasn’t the only thing that was different between the two.

From an outsider’s perspective, they couldn’t be more different.

Zhu Yilong was the studious class president who always got full scores and Bai Yu was the troublemaker who was every teacher’s nightmare. It had been like that since they stepped foot in kindergarten.

To understand how they became friends, you have to go back in time. Well, not literally of course, but figuratively. To the year of 1996, when they were seven, when Zhu Yilong had just become the class president and a new girl transferred from the big city to their small village.

That was when the teacher asked him to befriend Bai Yu, to mentor him, and influence him so that maybe Bai Yu would learn from Zhu Yilong’s good behavior. Put him on the right track.

The new girl had long, wavy hair, and instantly caught Bai Yu’s attention. Not because she was pretty, but he had a pair of scissors he’d swiped from his mother earlier that day and her hair was too pretty not to cut. At least that was what Bai Yu had told him much later, and Zhu Yilong had laughed at his nonsensical logic.

Somehow they’d become an unlikely pair of friends.

In hindsight, Zhu Yilong wonders what kind of grown-up would put that kind of responsibility on a child? They expected his good behavior to make a positive impact on Bai Yu’s rebellious side, but nobody seemed to have thought about how Bai Yu would affect Zhu Yilong. It was as if his good behavior could be a shield against everything bad. He still remembers how his teacher was shocked and disappointed when his grades started slipping a couple of years later.

But it was also that request from the teacher which brought them together.

In the third grade, their teacher taught them about the planets of the Solar system. About the Sun and Earth and how Earth orbits the Sun. It isn’t until much later that Zhu Yilong realizes Bai Yu is the Sun, always shining bright and fierce, while Zhu Yilong himself is the Earth. Most importantly, he understood that, even though the Earth did indeed orbit the Sun, Earth could never approach the Sun without becoming burned.

A knock on his door drags him out of his reminiscing. He straightens in his chair and then says, “Come in.”

“Sir, a new project just came in; the customer specifically asked for your services.”

Zhai Tianlin, his PA, hands him a file folder and as he accepts it, he quickly flips it open. The client’s name catches his attention.

Bai Yu.

It’s like a breeze from his past, and his breath hitches.

He looks up at his PA and asks, “Did he say why?”

“It should be in the file. Was that all, sir?”

“Yes, that’s all. Thank you,” Zhu Yilong replies.

As the door closes behind his assistant, he flips through the folder again and quickly finds what he is looking for. Bai Yu is building a new house and wants the best architect in town for the job. Zhu Yilong sighs and closes the folder again, tossing it on his desk.

He reaches for the top drawer of his desk and pulls out a framed picture. It depicts the two of them, arms slung around each other’s shoulders, smiling like idiots into the camera.

He remembers Yang Rong explaining it to them; the pictures were part of her assignment for photography class — “snapshots of life” her teacher had called it.

Bai Yu laughed. “What does that even mean,” he joked. “The teacher didn’t say that, he just said we could shoot whatever we wanted,” Yang Rong replied patiently.

“Then why couldn’t he have just told you to shoot whatever you wanted?” Bai Yu retorted, making Yang Rong laugh.

Zhu Yilong remembers feeling out of place, like he shouldn’t be there, but then she had asked them to take a picture and as with most things, he let himself be pulled along. She always knew about his secret, and he wondered if that was the reason she wanted them to take a picture, but he didn’t ask and she didn’t say.

His heart beat faster as he thought of the memory. It was before…

“No matter what, promise me that you’ll be together.”

His own words, all those years ago. Of course, that’s the reason Bai Yu is building a new house. They’re probably married now.

Flipping through the folder, he sees a draft of a vision for the house. It’s beautiful. Yang Rong always had a keen eye for photography and he wonders briefly what she’s doing now. With the talent she had back then, she would easily have become a top photographer.

The property is situated on a little mountain top, a few miles out of the city. The perfect place to retreat to and raise kids after Bai Yu retires from his pro basketball career.

He shouldn’t accept the project.

He accepts the project.

#

It is raining on the Monday morning for which he’s scheduled their first meeting. For some reason rain always makes him think of their childhood.

Maybe it’s the way the water drops dripping on his face reminded him of how the sea splashed water on their faces when they ran across the beach. Zhu Yilong always thought that felt like rain. Now that he’s grown up, living in a big city with the seaside less easily accessible, it’s as if the rain helps him remember the sea.

Bai Yu’s laughter precedes him all the way from the hall, and Zhu Yilong is instantly lulled by its echo.

When he finally enters the office, appearing in front of Zhu Yilong, he is nothing like how Zhu Yilong remembers him. This new, but sort-of-familiar-anyway Bai Yu is tan, wide over the shoulders and even more handsome than in Zhu Yilong’s memories. Life has certainly been good to him, Zhu Yilong thinks.

“Long-ge!” Bai Yu cheers as he steps into his office, like they had never been a day apart, and the nickname takes Zhu Yilong back to when they were seventeen and memories of him still riding on the back of Bai Yu’s bicycle filters in at the back of his mind.

Zhu Yilong takes the outstretched hand and says, “Bai Yu,” in a soft manner. He forcefully tamps down the urge to pull Bai Yu into a hug. Bai Yu always seemed to be screaming on top of his lungs when he spoke when they were younger, and he remembers how they would playfully tease each other along the way. That day, Bai Yu had shouted loudly, as if to compete with the wind and whined: “Long-ge didn’t we agree to go to the same university!”

“Well, we’ll see!”

“What do you mean we’ll see! You promised!”

“Okay, I promise to get a little bit lower scores!”

In the end, Bai Yu actually got into the university they had been discussing, while Zhu Yilong failed. It was as if his disastrous exam results were a parallel to his life back then.

Zhu Yilong blinks, and he is back in the office. Bai Yu is actually here, in front of him, their hands still connected. Has it really been that many years?

The heat feels familiar, the skin-to-skin-contact tingling his senses. He really doesn’t want to let go of Bai Yu’s hand, now that it is there, but he knows he really should. The feeling of emptiness as he reluctantly withdraws his hand is palpable, but he ignores it. He motions for them to sit down by his desk, and Bai Yu immediately sprawls over the chair.

Zhu Yilong smiles inwardly. Still the same.

“So, about the project,” he starts.

Bai Yu cuts him off: “How have you been, Long-ge?”

“Good.”

He feels Bai Yu’s eyes on him, and lifts his head to meet the gaze. It is laced with something, and Zhu Yilong ignores the heat settling in his belly.

This isn’t what they’re here for. Despite that, he can’t help but let his eyes flicker to Bai Yu’s hands, where he finds nothing. He bits his lip to try and hide his surprise.

He wants to ask, but Bai Yu is a client now, and it isn’t appropriate. He conveniently ignores how he just held Bai Yu’s hand far longer than what is normally appropriate to greet a client.

“You know, Long-ge, I wasn’t sure you’d accept my request.”

When Zhu Yilong finds Bai Yu’s eyes, there is a shadow to the glint in his eyes, and the first thing Zhu Yilong thinks is that it doesn’t fit. It shouldn’t be there. Bai Yu’s eyes always sparkled like the Sun and his smile lit up an entire room.

He looks at Bai Yu, only half aware that his gaze has landed on the other man’s lips as he speaks, “Why wouldn’t I? You’re a client.”

An impulse to lean over and kiss Bai Yu washes over him, and he desperately tries to ignore it. Pushes it to the back of his mind, but then, his mind decides to wander back to college. It was one of the nights they had eaten at Bai Yu’s, and Zhu Yilong was trying to study when Bai Yu was fooling around with loud music and his family dog.

Zhu Yilong chastised him, “I’m leaving if you’re not going to study.”

Defiant as ever, Bai Yu randomly picked a book and pretended to read. It took him two minutes to get bored of it, and then he used it as a cover for his eyes and fell asleep.

Later that evening, Zhu Yilong was sprawled on the bed next to him, suddenly startling awake, too aware of how close their bodies were.

He carefully nudged the book away from Bai Yu’s face, and looked at his sleeping features. Bai Yu was so beautiful and he looked peaceful as the subway passed by the windows and lights flickered over his face. Zhu Yilong couldn’t breathe, he wanted to kiss him. If he leaned in just a little bit, he could… Instead, he got up abruptly and just left.

“Maybe this was a bad idea, after all.” Bai Yu’s voice catches his attention, it sounds hesitant. Zhu Yilong notices that he is sitting up straight in the visitor’s chair, and his eyes seem shifty. In that instant, he sees Bai Yu, older, like he’s carrying something on his shoulders. Not at all the carefree Bai Yu he remembers. What has happened in the years they were apart?

Isn’t he happy with Yang Rong?

No, Zhu Yilong is a professional architect, he can do this. It’s his job to deal with clients, no matter who they are, no matter what history they share.

“I’m sorry,” he says, pulling out the folder and bending over it. “Let’s talk about the house, you said…”

He feels Bai Yu studying him, still a bit of hesitation in his movements, but slowly Bai Yu also bends over the pages and starts explaining his ideas in greater detail. Soon enough, they settle into a familiar rhythm, and Zhu Yilong feels himself relax as he lets the old comfortable feeling of Bai Yu’s words wash over him again.

#

It doesn’t take them long to fall back to old routines. Someone once said old habits die hard, and Zhu Yilong thinks that this doesn’t just apply to lovers. Working with Bai Yu is like trying to study back in their school days.

Bai Yu always grew tired quickly of any sort of details or prolonged sessions of studying. Or any studying at all. How he managed to put together a vision like this for the house is beyond Zhu Yilong’s understanding.

Maybe it was Yang Rong’s vision.

The name makes his gut twist; he doesn’t know what to think. Even if he doesn’t see a ring on Bai Yu’s finger, it doesn’t mean they’re not together. Knowing Bai Yu, it’s entirely possible that the house is a wedding gift.

He never told Bai Yu, but Yang Rong was the transfer girl whose hair he cut when they were little. He also never told Bai Yu about how he recognised her when she transferred back in college.

The teacher had reprimanded her in front of their year because her hair didn’t follow school rules, and he remembers the way she’d tried to put up a brave face when he cut her hair in front of everyone. As an example. The things their teachers did back then… Zhu Yilong still remembers the dread of being called to the front of the class whenever they didn’t meet minimum score requirements.

It only happened to him once, but he would never forget it.

Zhu Yilong also couldn’t forget how Yang Rong was traumatised by Bai Yu years prior, so when the teacher ruined her hair in front of everybody, he tried to comfort her by helping her with her hair. He didn’t think much of it the first time she suggested they make a trip to the closest city after school. They began to hang out more and it was nice. She was very easygoing and they got along well.

It wasn’t until they were in a hotel room one day where she made her intentions adamantly clear that he understood what she was after.

That’s when he discovered he couldn’t even feign interest in her if he tried. It wasn’t because she was ugly, it wasn’t because she wasn’t interesting. On the contrary, she was great at what she did, and she was never afraid to go after what she wanted. If Zhu Yilong was honest, she had an impulsiveness that was similar to Bai Yu’s, but where Bai Yu was recklessly flailing around unless he really found something he was interested in, like basketball, she was steady and goal-oriented.

That was also when he was forced to look at his own feelings, look at what he was. And somehow, Yang Rong had put two and two together and figured out his feelings, almost at the same time he did so himself. She asked him if he was ever going to tell Bai Yu, and then promised to keep his secret.

He was forever grateful for her, and in fact, he loved her, just not the way she hoped.

“Ey, Long-ge, this is good, why aren’t you eating!” It is Bai Yu’s voice.

“Uh,” he says.

They’re eating lunch at a noodle shop, and Bai Yu is sitting next to him in the booth. They’re not eating at run down student cafeterias anymore, but in an upscale restaurant. The tables here are covered with delicate white linen cloth, the noodles are served in porcelain bowls and with luxurious silver ware. It’s the sort of place you tuck one napkin in your shirt collar and place a second one on your knees before eating. And yet no matter where they eat, they always sit next to each other, even when there’s room on opposite sides of the table.

He remembers how Yang Rong had made a point of making them sit apart from each other. It was before she understood, and after that… Zhu Yilong would rather not think about it.

He can feel Bai Yu’s heat against his own skin, the small shivers passing through him when they accidentally touch as they eat. It prickles, tickles, and Zhu Yilong feels dizzy, even though he tries to ignore it.

Now, just as back then, Bai Yu does most of the talking. He never said much, except when Bai Yu couldn’t keep still while they studied. Zhu Yilong remembers how he’d be annoyed at Bai Yu for cranking the stereo up, or how he’d threaten Bai Yu with leaving if he didn’t actually study.

Maybe it sounds like a very old cliché, but Bai Yu is like a drug to him.

Bai Yu talks about everything and nothing, like he always has done. About his pro career, which Zhu Yilong sort of already knows because of course he followed the news, and Bai Yu somehow understands he knows. Bai Yu then tells him about his life after the pro career, of which Zhu Yilong doesn’t know anything about, because he isn’t interested in celebrity gossip.

He notices Bai Yu deliberately leaves Yang Rong out of his topics, and wonders about how they are doing, how she is doing. Zhu Yilong thinks about how she kept her word, even when Zhu Yilong could never return her feelings for him. He remembers how complicated he felt when he found out about Bai Yu and Yang Rong. They were the two most important people in his life, and he desperately wanted them to be happy, even though it meant he had to let go of Bai Yu. Zhu Yilong was selfish enough that he wished Bai Yu would choose him, it was as if he was at war with himself. He couldn’t be (didn’t want to be), the reason his friends were not happy.

Bai Yu’s presence always calms him, but also stirs something in him. Zhu Yilong wants to be closer, he wants to touch Bai Y. An urge to sleep next to him in the same bed is building inside him and Zhu Yilong wills the urge to subside. They used to do that all the time while they grew up. Well, at least before everything fell apart, before he lost the two most important people in his life in one fell swoop.

“Long-ge, what are you thinking of?” Bai Yu’s voice brings him back to the present, and he feels a pair of eyes looking intently at him. He can feel the heat spread through him, just like it did back then.

Old habits really die hard.

“Not much,” he lies.

Bai Yu’s gaze is suspicious, and Zhu Yilong feels burdened under it. Like he is being scrutinised, and he has never enjoyed being under the spotlight. Bai Yu is different, feels different. When they were younger, Bai Yu would always pressure him into things: skipping classes, going to that party, playing that stupid ‘this or that’game.

Zhu Yilong doesn’t want to think about what happened that night at the party. He takes a breath.

“Do you remember when we were kids?”

Not what he wanted to say, but fine, whatever.

“Of course, I used to be such a bully when I was little.” Bai Yu laughs.

The sound echoes in the room and settles in his heart, like it always has done, Zhu Yilong thinks.

He finds himself smiling. “Indeed you were.”

They fall silent again, and the air around them seems to separate them from the rest of the world. He knows it isn’t physically possible, of course, but it is as if time has stopped. His heart is pounding so loudly, he can almost hear it as he leans into Bai Yu’s shoulder, taking in his scent, the familiarity of the touch. His shoulders sag a little, and before he can stop it, a small sigh escapes his lips, betraying his contentment.

He has missed this. Missed Bai Yu.

If Bai Yu is startled by his sudden move, he doesn’t say anything.

“Why don’t we cancel our meetings for today and just have some fun,” is the only thing Bai Yu says, voice soft and enticing.

It is so tempting. Zhu Yilong knows he shouldn’t.

“Okay,” he hears himself say.

He can feel Bai Yu’s wide grin and something settles inside him. That is how Bai Yu should be. Grinning bright like the Sun, his aura full of life.

Zhu Yilong feels the shift inside his own body. It is like the restlessness he felt over the years, the way he never felt he belonged anywhere, is just… somehow dissipating. He knows how dangerous this is, it is like playing with fire, and Zhu Yilong has already been burned once. He can still feel the burn, still taste the bitterness. If he isn’t careful…

They agree wordlessly to take a bike ride, Zhu Yilong standing on the back of the bike, Bai Yu riding in front. Just like when they were growing up. He stretches his arms out, feeling the wind blowing through his hair.

It is a freedom he hasn’t felt for years.

It is the kind of feeling that is only there when Bai Yu is present in his life, because Bai Yu is crazy enough to do things he would never have dared. They go for hotpot later in the evening, in a small private room that is quiet and cool.

It is over the steaming pot, a couple of beers later, that Bai Yu leans in and kisses him, lips soft.

The kiss is slow, steady. They are unhurried, unfazed by the world outside, but Zhu Yilong’s mind is buzzing, it feels like every pore on his skin is electrified. As if he hasn’t been alive until now.

He wants… he wants, he pulls at Bai Yu’s shirt and then… Then he is suddenly back at college.

It was the night of the party, and Bai Yu made him play the stupid ‘this or that’-game. Bai Yu had a tad bit too much to drink, and every question Bai Yu asked had a sexual undercurrent (“boobs or ass”). All Zhu Yilong could come up with was “cats or dogs”, even though he already knew the answer to that. They stood so close, Bai Yu’s arm was firmly placed around his shoulder. Zhu Yilong didn’t want to be at the party. The music was so loud Bai Yu had to shout close to his ear, the small huffs of breath lingered on his skin, and he needed to get out before he made a mistake. Bai Yu’s kept nagging him, “Give me another one!”

Zhu Yilong blurted out, “Me or Yang Rong,” and immediately regretted it. He was thankful that the loud music drowned out the question.

He was still very confused about his own feelings then, he was desperately trying to hide them at that time, afraid of them. He felt sick, he puked as soon as he was outside the venue, and Bai Yu didn’t know. Bai Yu had cornered him when he returned, pressured him, asked why he was avoiding them, why he was being weird, he couldn’t answer. The only thing that was spinning in his head was; I need to get out.

Desperate, he spun a lie, told Bai Yu he was never friends with him for real. It was the first time he said that, and he didn’t want to say it, but it was the only way Bai Yu would let him go. And he desperately needed to get out of the party.

It was also the night Bai Yu had gotten into the motorbike accident. Zhu Yilong didn’t miss how Bai Yu had asked the ER staff to call him and not Yang Rong, he didn’t miss the hurt and unsure look on Bai Yu’s face as Zhu Yilong went there to pick him up.

Zhu Yilong said nothing when he got there, except asking for the keys. Then he tossed Bai Yu his helmet and drove them to his apartment. He didn’t miss the way Bai Yu laid his head on his back, how Bai Yu had curled his hands around his waist, almost possessively.

He’d unceremoniously dumped Bai Yu on the side of the bed. Bai Yu climbed on top of him the second Zhu Yilong lay down next to him and straddled his waist. He pulled off his white tee before tearing at Zhu Yilong’s, completely ignoring his protests.

Zhu Yilong let him, even though he was confused.

“What are you doing,” he asked, eyes wide, slightly panicked. Bai Yu was so close he could smell his aftershave.

Bai Yu didn’t say anything, he put his hand in Zhu Yilong’s hair, not even petting him, just stared at him. Their lips were so close, Zhu Yilong could taste the sweat. He went pliant.

“You want to have sex with me?” he asked, and then Bai Yu kissed him. It was soft, it made him want more, his body arched up to respond. When Bai Yu turned him over, Zhu Yilong let him do so, and soon moans drowned out the silence in his tiny room.

It wasn’t supposed to happen, it was his weakness.

Zhu Yilong jumps, scrambles as far back as he can in the booth, a whine, Bai Yu’s? No, it is himself. He is crying.

Bai Yu doesn’t hesitate to follow him, and he feels Bai Yu’s arms wrap around him, like a comforting blanket, except there is nothing comforting about it. Zhu Yilong wants to push Bai Yu away, but he finds himself clinging to Bai Yu instead.

The tears won’t stop.

“I’’m sorry, I… I shouldn’t have done that.”

It’s Bai Yu’s voice. Bai Yu is different, he feels different. Softer.

Growing up, Bai Yu would never have said anything like that. Zhu Yilong himself wouldn’t have said anything like that. They’d fight, or pretend nothing ever happened. Mostly the latter.

Mostly, it was Zhu Yilong hiding from his feelings. Some decade later, he is still hiding. No one knows. The string of girlfriends he had never suspected anything. He’d been with guys too, but then realized they were all similar to Bai Yu. It might have been their eyes or hands, or even their voice, but they all reminded him of Bai Yu in one way or another. Once he saw it, he couldn’t unsee it. He had to stop, the memories were too painful.

“Why?” It’s the only question he can think of.

“I… don’t know. I… I missed you?”

“You missed me? If my memories serve me right, the last time we spent time alone, back in college, you had sex with me, no in fact, you would have raped me if I... if I…” he chokes at his own words, and berates himself internally. Words are all he has against Bai Yu. He clenches his jaw, the need to run away still present in his body, and yet he grabs Bai Yu’s shirt to pull him even closer.

If he could, he’d melt into him, Zhu Yilong thinks.

“And then later you hit me and called me your best friend!” He lashes out at Bai Yu, blindly hitting Bai Yu’s chest with his fist, but there isn’t really any heat in his hits. The tension in his stomach that he carried all these years is back. It gnaws at him. Everything he’s kept inside is building up, threatening to boil over.

Friends.

Zhu Yilong never thought a simple word could be like knives in this heart. They had been fighting that day at the beach. He doesn’t remember why anymore, but sometime after that fatal night he’d agreed to go on a trip with Bai Yu and Yang Rong.

They ended up at the beach property Zhu Yilong’s father had bought years ago, once intended for a resort, but now abandoned. He remembers how he sat in the car, while Bai Yu lamented to Yang Rong, wondering if he was the reason everything was messed up between them. He looked on while Bai Yu blamed everything on himself and Yang Rong comforted him. Zhu Yilong couldn’t bear it, it felt like he was the one who shouldn’t be there, he was the one who ruined Bai Yu’s chance at a happy and normal life with the girl he loved.

He can’t remember what he was thinking then, but he remembers the helpless feeling inside him, remembers the way he felt guilty; after all, it was he who had fallen in love with his best friend. He remembers the sudden urge he felt, when he rushed out of the car and ran in front of Bai Yu.

“Let’s not see each other again. It’s not your fault, the problem is me,” he had said.

Bai Yu’s fist connected with his jaw before he could react.

They might have argued a lot over the years, but that was the one and only time they actually fought. It shook him so hard, the only reaction he had was to hit back. They ended up tumbling on the beach and Yang Rong jumped between them, trying to break them up. Bai Yu pushed so hard and in the mess, Yang Rong fell on the rocky beach, face first. She ended up getting a cut on her forehead and it made both men stop temporarily, neither knowing what to do next.

Crying, she begged: “stop fighting.”

And they had, but only sort of.

“I was never really your friend, I didn’t like you for real,” he doesn’t know why he said it. He was about to step away when Bai Yu’s shout stopped him.

“Ey, Zhu Yilong. I have a secret for you!”

He turned around, and looked into Bai Yu’s eyes.

“I know you didn’t want to be friends with me, I know you were forced, but I was really too lonely. You really are my bestest friend!”

Bai Yu was screaming at the top of his lungs, and Zhu Yilong’s heart was left at the beach that day.

“Fifteen years, Bai Yu! Why!” he cries. He still feels guilty for what he said, but he was also still mad for what Bai Yu did, even if…

“I am sorry,” Bai Yu says. “I was stupid and naive. I thought it was what you wanted, I thought you’d have pushed me off if you didn’t want... I mean, it doesn’t excuse what I did, I just… I didn’t want to lose you and I didn’t know what to do. I’m sorry, I...” Bai Yu is rambling, Zhu Yilong can clearly see how flustered Bai Yu is, the nervousness, but he can’t stop himself.

“But you’re okay with losing me now?” he spits out.

“No, Long-ge, I will never be okay with that. What are you talking about!” Bai Yu almost shouts.

Zhu Yilong deflates a bit at the sudden reaction from Bai Yu, he could see in Bai Yu’s eyes that Bai Yu is telling the truth, Bai Yu is terrified of losing him. Zhu Yilong doesn’t know when that changed for Bai Yu and he wants to ask, but the question dies on his lips.

Bai Yu is right about several things.

He is right when he thought Zhu Yilong wanted to have sex with Bai Yu back in college. He always wondered how Yang Rong figured out he had feelings for Bai Yu, and it isn’t until now he understands.

It seems like he didn't hide his desires for Bai Yu as good as he thought he had at that time, but he had just discovered that about himself, he was struggling to come to terms with everything. It wasn’t in him to make the move, especially when Bai Yu had only ever shown interest in girls. So when Bai Yu climbed on top of him, it had confused him at first, but when Bai Yu made his intentions clear, Zhu Yilong couldn’t find anything in him to protest. All those years of yearning and pent up desire screamed at him, it needed a release and he didn’t have the self-control to refuse when it was offered to him.

Bai Yu is also right when he says Zhu Yilong could’ve easily shoved Bai Yu off himself if he didn’t want it. Bai Yu might be taller, but Zhu Yilong has always been the stronger one of the two. He didn’t stop Bai Yu, he took what Bai Yu could give, but sex wasn’t the only thing he wanted. He realized that belatedly and he has paid for it ever since.

He knows he shouldn’t, he was the one who stepped away after all, thinking it was best for Bai Yu. Knowing that Bai Yu couldn’t give him what he wanted, what he needed. He doesn’t know if he can do it again, he always wanted more of Bai Yu than Bai Yu could give. “Friends. Is that all we are?” Zhu Yilong continues, anyway. He knows he is forcing the issue.

Pain and emptiness. That was what he felt after he and Bai Yu had sex.

He loved Yang Rong like a sister, she was loyal and protective of them both, he wishes he had as big of a heart as she did, less selfish perhaps. That’s the problem between him and Bai Yu. They are both too selfish, none of them really able to be close to the other without getting hurt, because even though they both wanted too much of the other, it was never the same thing.

“I don’t know what we are, Long-ge. I didn’t exactly plan this.”

Zhu Yilong feels sick.

This is how they have always been, how they are. This is what they do. Instead of being honest with themselves, they say things that hurt the other, and neither of them know how to stop. They are both cowards. It is the old feeling of being close but never close enough.

Finally he pushes Bai Yu away. He fumbles desperately to get some cash out of his wallet, slaps the bills on the table and runs out the door without turning back, leaving Bai Yu in his seat.

Fire on fire.