Yibo has just landed in Hainan, ears popping as they wheel across the tarmac waiting for a gate, when the WeChat notifications start rolling in across his screen. His pulse spikes just seeing Xiao Zhan's name next to the voice messages, and he has to shove his phone deep in his pocket to keep from embarrassing himself. It takes a while for his heart rate to go back down.
Off the plane, his handlers hustle him through the airport and into a car; the driver takes him straight to set. The surf shop is an eye-searing riot of color under the bright stage lighting, and Yibo is pretty tired, but someone presses a beer into his hands and sets a skateboard at his feet, and he gets to casually flirt with Han Dongjun as they decide who's going to sleep where. All things considered, it's a good night, as relaxing as things will ever get when he's on the job.
Yibo doesn't get a chance to check his phone in private until later, when they're getting ready for bed. There are cameras and microphones set up everywhere, even in the little huts the hosts are staying in, but the bathrooms are clear. After Minghao finishes cleaning up, he lets Yibo use the one in his room.
Yibo locks himself in and then thumbs Xiao Zhan's thread open. God, he hasn't even heard Xiao Zhan's voice yet and he's already starting to get kind of hard in his pants. Xiao Zhan would probably be pleased about inspiring a Pavlovian response to the WeChat interface. Yibo will have to tell him about it later.
But first: the voice messages. They've been doing this a lot since work picked back up after the New Year, sending each other unfiltered thoughts throughout the day in an effort to stay connected even when they aren't in the same city, even when their schedules don't line up. Xiao Zhan does it more often, most of his busyness keeping him in Beijing while Yibo jetsets across the country two or three times a week; Yibo has come to expect at least a handful of new notifications every time he checks his phone at night.
There are a few more than usual today, sent in quick succession around dinner time when Yibo was still in the air. Maybe Xiao Zhan was feeling particularly inspired. Yibo starts running the shower, and then he sticks one of his AirPods in his ear and taps on the first message. "Sweetheart," Xiao Zhan says, a little hoarse, like he's already close, and the word curls warm in Yibo's gut. "Saw a hot trend of yours on Weibo today. Something about your big mouth, after a clip from Day Day Up came out. I didn't pay that much attention to the details — all I could think about was the last time you went down on me."
Yibo hears a hot breath, a rustle of cloth and the slick sound of Xiao Zhan jacking himself off, and then the tiny trill of a giggle that shoots straight to Yibo's dick. He sits down heavily on the closed lid of the toilet and fumbles with the zipper of his pants as he keeps listening, letting the murmur of Xiao Zhan's voice wash over him. Yibo remembers what he's talking about: a few weeks ago he'd spent twelve hours in Beijing before he had to fly out again, and they'd certainly made the most of their time.
"You let me fuck your face because you didn't have any tapings the next day. I didn't — haahh, I didn't tell you this at the time but I nearly came when you relaxed your throat and did that thing with your tongue that I — that I love." Yibo could feel the burn every time he swallowed for hours after, his own voice pleasantly rumbly. He reaches past the waistband of his boxer-briefs and squeezes himself, twisting his wrist, ready to blow even though he's barely touched himself. "Did you know, honey? Your mouth was made for sucking dick." Another sigh, punctuated by more slick noises. "And you're always so good for me, aren't you?"
Yibo groans, long and low, and catches most of his jizz in his hand when he comes. Xiao Zhan is still going in his ear, so Yibo keeps palming his cock until he starts shivering from the oversensitivity. He exhales slowly when the last message cuts off, and then he sends back, voice only cracking a little, "Awake?"
It's late, past midnight, so it's really kind of a toss-up whether or not Xiao Zhan has fallen asleep yet. Yibo's finished stripping to actually shower when the phone pings with a FaceTime call. He nearly cracks his head open against the cabinet as he scrambles over to pick it up. "Yibo," Xiao Zhan says, his blurry face smiling up through the screen. It looks like he's already in bed, reading glasses slipping down the bridge of his nose.
"Zhan-ge," Yibo says, an answering grin pulling at his own mouth. "It took me like three messages to come. Shit."
Xiao Zhan huffs out a laugh. "I always aim to please." His head tilts as he squints at the screen. Leave it to Yibo to feel tender about farsightedness. "Where are you now?"
"Hainan," Yibo says. "I'm about to shower." He recaps the evening's events in a few minutes; it'll be months before the footage gets released as part of Let's Sacalaca, but he can still tell Xiao Zhan about his day. Even when it's boring, Xiao Zhan always seems to like hearing about it. "Dong-ge's here, by the way," he finishes, chewing on a thumbnail. "We're sharing a tent tonight."
The smile on Xiao Zhan's face melts into something sharper, his eyes narrowing with intent. "Looks like you've already gotten to work," he says meaningfully. "Have fun at the beach."
They've talked about this a little bit over the past half year, too. Back when they saw each other more often, it still wasn't exactly easy to find time and space for the kind of marathon sex Yibo enjoys most, but at least they were usually in the same city, and — if they were lucky — put up at the same hotel. Once promotions for the Untamed ended, though, and all their other projects kicked into high gear, the best they could do was often a dinner date and maybe third base every two or three weeks. A few times, they've been too tired to do much more than crawl into bed and slowly make out until they fall asleep.
Which is still nice! Yibo likes it a lot! But it isn't everything, and it makes the time in between stretch out like a rubber band, Yibo wound so tight he's afraid he might snap. Xiao Zhan never seems to need it the way Yibo does. Sometimes the phone sex and WeChat messages just aren't enough for him. The longer he goes without, the worse it gets. Sometimes Yibo's skin itches, his libido a living thing trying to crawl out of his chest; sometimes he just wants to touch and be touched, and Zhan-ge's halfway across the country, a disembodied voice in his ear. "Hmm," Xiao Zhan said over the New Year holiday, on one of their rare overlapping weekends off, mouthing at a soft spot beneath Yibo's chin as Yibo moved against him. "I think I might have a solution for that."
"You're sure this is okay?" Yibo mumbles now, curling his knees beneath his chin on the toilet seat.
It isn't even the first time since January that he's taken Xiao Zhan up on the carte blanche to pursue someone else willing and able to mess around with him: Yibo and Yixing blew each other in a changing room after a meeting for Street Dance of China 3 a few months ago. The last time he was at the racetrack after hours, he bent Yin Zheng over a bench at the back of the locker room, hands roaming everywhere. In Changsha, when their taping for Day Day Up had finished and all the cameras were gone, Hu Bing let Yibo push him back against the bed and ride the hell out of him.
Yibo feels compelled to ask all the same. He's still figuring out how everything works; he's trying his best to trust that Xiao Zhan will tell him if it starts to get too weird. This is different from anything else Yibo has ever done. He doesn't want to accidentally fuck it up.
"You don't have to check in with me every time," Xiao Zhan says, sounding warm over the fuzzy connection. His face is clear and his eyes are bright. Yibo feels himself relaxing. "Just tell me all about it later, yeah?"
"Always," Yibo says, fervent, pushing back the wave of yearning that bubbles up his throat. "I gotta go." He swallows. "I love you."
Xiao Zhan's gaze softens. "Love you too," he says, and then the connection cuts out.
Yibo takes his time under the spray, scrubbing himself clean and shampooing his hair until his scalp tingles. When he gets back to the tent dressed in loose sleep clothes, Dongjun looks up from his phone and smiles, rolling onto his side to make room for him. It's a tight fit in the tent for two grown men, but that'll make things more convenient. "Dong-ge," Yibo says, crawling inside and switching the one camera in the corner off. Sometimes the idea of being seen, watched, appreciated makes heat unfurl in Yibo's belly, but he'd rather not make a sex tape tonight.
"Yibo," Dongjun says, a confused look on his face. "What are you…"
His voice trails off as Yibo pushes him onto his back and clambers in his lap, hair dripping. "Tell me I wasn't reading too much into things earlier," he says, pressing his palm to Dongjun's bare neck, squeezing his knees around his waist. Dongjun's shoulders look fucking great in a muscle tee. Yibo wonders what his skin tastes like. He really wants to find out.
Dongjun inhales sharply even as his hands curl around Yibo's hips. His gaze drops to Yibo's mouth — Yibo licks his lips reflexively — and then slides back up to Yibo's eyes again, uncertain. "I thought — you and Xiao-laoshi…"
"We have an arrangement," Yibo says, quelling the tiny frisson of guilt that zings up his spine. He has Xiao Zhan's blessing; there's nothing to feel guilty about. "When we're both busy with work, I'm allowed to do whatever I want. Whomever I want." He smiles winningly, eyelashes fluttering, getting into the groove. "If your conscience needs soothing, I could have him message you a confirmation."
Dongjun clears his throat, eyes crinkling as he laughs. "No, that won't be necessary," he murmurs, hands creeping up to rest just underneath the hem of Yibo's sleep shirt. "I believe you."
Yibo can feel pleasure winding through his stomach again, making his dick twitch with interest. "Good," he says, putting all other thoughts out of his mind, and leans down to press their mouths together.
He's in Hainan for half a week, learning how to surf and jetski, playing sand volleyball, and goofing off with arcade games when they're supposed to be diligently manning the shop. During that time, Yibo sleeps with Dongjun twice more: on a real mattress the second night in Dongjun's room, which is much easier on his back, and then again the morning that Yibo has to leave, Dongjun pressed along the door of the bathroom, Yibo fitting his hand around both their erections and jerking them off at the same time. He leaves Xiao Zhan several choice voice messages about everything — how Dongjun's arms flexed as he held Yibo open, the way Dongjun's thick cock felt sliding inside him, the taste of salt bursting across his tongue when he dipped it in the hollow of Dongjun's collarbone — and Xiao Zhan rewards him with pictures of come cooling on his stomach, thin fingers wrapped around his pretty dick.
"That's so hot, Yibo," he sends back through a voice message, sounding winded. "You're so hot. I'm glad he appreciated you."
Maybe it should be weird that Yibo always feels a glow of pride whenever Xiao Zhan says things like that, but he can't help it. It had taken Yibo a while to realize that Xiao Zhan had meant all his over-the-top compliments during their running gag of flattery battles, but he'd known pretty early on that he liked Xiao Zhan's attention more than most things, that he'd do almost anything to keep Xiao Zhan's eyes on him. Even after filming wrapped and they'd shed the roles they played, Yibo still craved that easy intimacy. The first time Xiao Zhan kissed him, after sushi during the Dragon Boat Festival almost a year ago, something inside Yibo felt like it had finally been unlocked. Oh, Yibo thought, pushing his tongue past the seam of Xiao Zhan's lips and licking into his mouth. This is it, he thought, heart hammering so hard against his rib cage that it felt like his sternum might shatter, just from some kissing. This makes sense. This is what I've been looking for.
I miss you, Yibo types back, because he can't really trust his voice not to waver too much right now. Miss your dick, miss your hands, miss your face. Even miss your snoring.
Xiao Zhan doesn't respond immediately, probably busy with the voiceover work he's been doing for Oath of Love or whatever secret new project his team has been cooking up for him. In the meantime, Yibo packs his things after lunch, says goodbye to all the Sacalaca hosts, and then flies straight to Shanghai for his first set of Street Dance of China tapings. I do NOT snore!!!!! pops up on his phone on the van ride to the hotel. Stop slandering me, Lao Wang!!!!
He's sent a sticker of grumpy Jianguo too, her eyes narrowed and her nose scrunched. Yibo snorts loudly, scrolling through his meme packs for a suitable reply. "Laoban?" his driver says, eyebrows arched through the rearview mirror.
"It's nothing," he says, trying to iron the smile off his face. He doesn't think it works.
Auditions for the show are scheduled to commence in a few days, but the team captains have to practice with backup dancers and film a bunch of choreographed videos first, starting tomorrow morning. After his handlers help him check in, Yibo unpacks his toiletries and showers, planning to pass out early. He's toweling his hair dry when Xiao Zhan's FaceTime call comes through. Yibo flops stomach first onto the king-sized bed and props his phone up against the crisp white pillows. "Hey," Xiao Zhan says. He looks damp and flushed, bangs plastered against his forehead as he fans himself with the collar of his dry-fit shirt.
"Did you just work out?"
"Yeah, I spent an hour on the treadmill," Xiao Zhan says, blowing out a big gust of air. The video jostles as he shuffles into his bathroom and sets his phone on the counter. "Flight was okay?"
"Made it in one piece, so I can't really complain," Yibo says. His mouth goes dry when Xiao Zhan steps back and starts stripping out of his clothes, pale skin revealed inch by inch. "Zhan-ge…"
Xiao Zhan pauses with his arms in his sleeves, shirt caught around his neck, the tip of his tongue flicking out between his teeth as he grins. "Yeah?"
Yibo groans. "Don't tease."
"Mm," Xiao Zhan says, flinging his shirt to the side and wiping a hand across his neck. "Yikes, I'm sweaty."
"Feature, not a bug," Yibo says, rolling his hips lazily into the mattress. Xiao Zhan steps out of his shorts and underwear, soft dick swinging against his thigh. Yibo sighs and ruts harder. "Hey. Zhan-ge, come on. Show me something nice."
"Since you asked so sweetly," Xiao Zhan says. He licks his palm and drags it down the length of his cock, pulls himself to full hardness. Yibo bites his lip, feeling the tingle in his stomach starting to build already, and drinks in Xiao Zhan's glistening skin, the brutal pace of his hand, the low gasp that tumbles from his mouth when he comes, jizz dribbling down the shaft and across his knuckles.
With effort, Yibo pushes himself back up to sit on his haunches, reaches into his boxers, and tucks his dick over the waistband. Just a handful of quick pumps and he's releasing too, getting his fingers sticky. When Yibo floats back down from it, Xiao Zhan is watching him, face filling the screen, expression so warm that Yibo has to duck away and reach for a tissue to keep from saying anything too stupid. He wipes the mess from his crotch and his hand, heartbeat slowing.
"You think you'll hook up with anyone while you're in Shanghai?" Xiao Zhan asks, blinking.
"Maybe," Yibo says, stumbling a little over the word. It's one thing to recount his escapades through the buffer of WeChat after they happen; it's another to actively walk through whatever plans he has while his boyfriend interjects with color commentary. It feels too close. "I've, uh, I guess I've got options." Yixing's been here for a week practicing in Youku's studios, and Jackson should be staying at the same hotel. That's always convenient.
Xiao Zhan's smile broadens. "They'd be idiots to turn you down."
"What about you?" Yibo makes himself say. He manages not to tense up while waiting for the answer. It's selfish, but whenever he thinks about Xiao Zhan messing around with anyone else, a vicious possessiveness rises up to lodge in his throat. He thinks he does a pretty good job of not letting it show. He knows how lucky he is that Xiao Zhan's letting him take care of himself while they're apart, but a small, petty, uncharitable part of Yibo buried deep beneath the surface always rankles at the idea that Xiao Zhan might also want to partake. Maybe, with time, the feeling will go away. If Yibo gets to sleep around, surely Xiao Zhan should be allowed to do the same thing. That's like, the textbook definition of an open relationship. Fair's fair.
"Me?" Xiao Zhan says, a confused look flitting across his face.
"Yeah," Yibo says as evenly as he can. "I'm sure there are plenty of people in Beijing who could lend you a hand."
"Oh! I see what you're asking." Xiao Zhan shakes his head, and Yibo tries not to feel too guilty about the wave of relief that sweeps through him. "No, I'm good. You get back in a couple of weeks, right? I'll be fine until then."
"Can't come soon enough," Yibo says, and Xiao Zhan's smiling when he ends the call to go shower.
Yibo hangs his towel up to dry, turns the main lights off in his room, and switches the TV on. Then he settles beneath the thick covers and swipes through his remaining notifications. Yixing's already texted him about grabbing dinner after tomorrow's taping, and there's a message from Dongjun about a stray sock Yibo must have left in Hainan by accident. you could probably sell that on taobao for a hefty price, he replies, attaching a smug sticker at the end, and falls asleep to the familiar lullaby of the sports channel.
Over the next three days, work devours nearly all of Yibo's waking hours. He hasn't danced like this in years, living and breathing it, dreaming about choreo, shrugging off early disappointments with steely determination. He'd forgotten how fun it could be to yell himself hoarse and push his body past the brink. He loves the egos and the swagger, loves the thrill of competition, loves the bone-deep ache at the end of each main session. Through the happy coincidence of being last to pick districts, he manages to score Bouboo on his team, world-class talent, rhythm moving through him like lightning. It feels a little bit like he should be the captain, honestly, but even that part is fun. Yibo's happy to teach and happy to learn. Mostly, he's just happy to be here.
He sends Xiao Zhan a brief clip of the audition segment that one of the ADs plays back during a break in filming, shaky and grainy because Yibo recorded it with his phone. There's a close-up of their clasped hands when Yibo put the towel around Bouboo's neck, and another of Yibo's tongue sliding across his lips. Maybe it should feel more mortifying that he can't shut up about how great Bouboo is, but there's something to be said about enthusiasm, because when Yibo finds him later and slips him his hotel and room number, the flash in Bouboo's eyes is unmistakable.
you're absolutely going to tap that, right? Xiao Zhan's sent him when Yibo checks his phone again after the day's auditions have wrapped. fuck, i wish i could watch.
Daydreaming about that carries Yibo through dinner with the other team captains and a couple of the main showrunners. They're having personal hotpot in a spacious studio between their dressing rooms while they discuss the first taping, and Yibo gets the kind that numbs half of his taste buds and makes his nose run. Worth it, though. Xiao Zhan taught him the pleasures of a mouth on fire years ago; Yibo takes pictures of his spicy broth and the plate of gongcai to tempt him with later.
“Hey, guys," Jackson says near the end, when the cameras have stopped running. He dunks a slice of lamb into his bubbling broth and swirls it around, a playful grin tugging at his mouth. "We should set a wager or two on the upcoming battles."
"I'm confident," Yibo says carelessly, guzzling water. "Bouboo's on my team."
"We get it, you love him," Jackson groans, slapping the table, and Wallace chuckles. "Playing favorites so early on, Wang-laoshi?"
Yibo shrugs and reaches over to fish one last bit of tofu out for himself. "He's just the best. Can't argue with fact."
"If you keep talking him up, Wang-laoshi, one of us might steal him in a later round," Jackson says, waggling his eyebrows.
Yibo presses his hand to his chest. "Wang-laoshi, be careful when you're playing with fire."
Jackson laughs and clicks his chopsticks against his sauce dish. "Okay, but seriously. Let's make things more interesting. No harm in adding a little extra incentive in the spirit of competition."
Yixing leans forward with interest, eyebrows rising. "So what do I get for winning the captains' cypher?"
"More fruit, more fruit," Jackson says, pushing the platter closer to him.
Wallace hums around a mouthful of melon, contemplative. "If we're really going to do this, we should discuss terms ahead of time."
Yibo scans the table; a bare wisp of an idea that had first surfaced when they hugged after the dance battle, sweaty and tired and glorious, floats back to the forefront of his mind and takes root. "How about this?" he says, punctuating the sentence by holding his bottled water aloft. "Whoever wins the next team battle gets to ask the other captains for whatever he wants."
"Red envelopes on WeChat," Jackson says immediately.
Yixing sends him a hilariously bewildered look. "Are you that strapped for cash?"
"I'll have to think about what I want," Wallace says, chin propped in his hand. "What would you ask for, Yibo?"
Yibo grins. "If it isn't too much trouble," he says, rubbing his palms together and kicking back in his chair. "I'd invite all three of you up to my room. At the same time. I think it would be fun." As an added bonus, it'll certainly give him enough voice message fodder to last until he gets to go home.
Yixing huffs. Jackson wolf whistles. "Talk about a win-win scenario," he says, stuffing another piece of lamb in his mouth.
"Don't you dare lose on purpose," Yibo says, sticking his tongue out.
Yixing wrinkles his nose. "As if we would ever give you the satisfaction."
"Yibo, are you sure?" Wallace's brow is furrowed with concern, like it wasn't what he was expecting. Maybe Yibo should've eased him into the idea instead of pushing him into the deep end all at once.
"Ah, Hanliang-ge," Jackson says before Yibo can figure out how to reply. "You don't know about Yibo, do you? He's like — how do you say it in Chinese?" He switches to English, lips twitching. "A gege honeytrap."
Wallace blinks, turning that over. "Why are you making it sound so mercenary?" Yibo protests, but he's smiling too. "I just like sex. That's not a crime."
"Your track record is pretty aspirational," Jackson agrees. "Gotta teach me your methods sometime."
"If rumors are to be believed, Jia'er, your technique seems to be working fine," Yixing says blandly, eyes twinkling when Yibo bursts into laughter. Jackson shakes his head, conceding the point, and goes back to his food.
"Speaking of sex," Yibo says, standing up and rolling his neck. "I have an appointment after this, so I'm gonna head back to the hotel early. You guys keep eating."
"Jesus, you work fast," Jackson says. Yixing waves. "Take it easy," says Wallace, patting Yibo's arm. "You still have to dance this week." It reminds Yibo so much of Xiao Zhan's gentle concern that he has to work to keep his breathing even.
"Don't worry about me, Zhong-laoshi," Yibo says, throwing them peace signs as he floats toward the door. "All the fucking helps keep me limber."
He changes back into his regular clothes. He gets the beads taken out of his hair. On the van ride back to the hotel, he tells Haiyi, his assistant, "If someone arrives later asking for me, tell the bodyguards to let him through."
"Alright, laoban," she says without batting an eyelash, old hat at this by now.
It's almost eleven by the time Yibo gets back to his room. He hops in the shower, washes off all the layers of sweat, and then slides into a fluffy bathrobe. As he stretches across the bed, his body feels sore in the best way. He takes pictures of a couple of his new bruises for Xiao Zhan, with multiple angles of the gigantic one on his left kneecap that bloomed after he slammed it against the floor during the cypher.
shit, that's going to turn nasty colors, Xiao Zhan replies a few minutes later.
glad i didn't cut my finger open like jackson did, Yibo sends back, his hand is all bandaged up now, it's wild, and then a quick staccato of knocks at the door jostles him out of bed again.
Bouboo's dressed in fewer layers than he was wearing during auditions, but his grin is still just as wide. "Bonsoir," Yibo says. His stomach jolts, the same way it had two nights ago when they first saw each other at the opening ceremony. He'd acted like an idiot fanboy then, but Bouboo seemed flattered. Flattered enough to show up here when invited, at least.
"Hey," Bouboo replies, sliding his sneakers off. The door clicks shut behind him. His eyes crinkle as they give Yibo an appreciative onceover, and his hands drift up to touch the flimsy tie holding Yibo's bathrobe together. Without hesitation, Yibo sways forward to slant their mouths together.
They don't talk for a while after that, which is fine by Yibo; body language more than makes up for it, the pleasure of movement transcending the need for words. They make out against the door for long enough that Yibo's lips start tingling again, from sweet pressure this time instead of spicy broth. By the time Yibo's breath is starting to burn in his chest, he's frotting against one of Bouboo's strong thighs, feeling the long line of Bouboo's erection through the layers between them.
Eventually, they drift toward the bed. Bouboo loses his shirt and his pants before he falls back against the sheets, loose dreadlocks hanging rakishly over one eye. The bulge in his briefs leaves nothing to the imagination; Yibo's mouth waters just looking at it. He lets the bathrobe slide off his shoulders and crawls up the bed, licks his way across the intricate lines of Bouboo's chest tattoo and down the lattice of his abdomen. Bouboo's muscles twitch beneath his tongue; Bouboo's fingers twist in his hair.
Yibo balances his forearms along Bouboo's thighs and mouths him through the fabric, soaks the outline of Bouboo's cock with his spit until Bouboo's hips are twitching up into it. "Is this okay?" Yibo says in English, glancing up through his lashes.
"Yeah," Bouboo says, eyes narrowing when Yibo peels his underwear down and off. "Yeah, Yibo. It's good."
Bouboo's too big for Yibo to take into his mouth all the way, but he gives it his most valiant effort, gagging a little as the salty taste of skin and precome fills his mouth. He keeps bobbing back and forth anyway, the head of Bouboo's cock catching on the inside of his cheek, the tender roof of his mouth. Yibo strains forward, struggling to meet his fingers wrapped around the base, and Bouboo's grip in his hair tightens hard enough to sting. Yibo rewards him by slurping his tongue up and down the underside, drooling around the tip. When he pulls off with a slurp, Bouboo's panting, beads of sweat dotting his skin. "Fuck me?" Yibo says, already reaching for the lube and condoms he'd tucked into the side table.
Yibo ends up on his knees, head pillowed in his arms, groaning as Bouboo fingers him. "Sore?" Bouboo asks him, free handing petting Yibo's flank.
"Mm," Yibo says, pushing back against Bouboo's hand. "Lot of dancing today. Fun, though."
"You were amazing," Bouboo says, sliding three fingers inside him, and the compliment lights up a different part of Yibo's hindbrain, the part that always blooms like a sunflower to praise. He knows he's good, but sometimes it's just nice to be told.
"You're amazing," Yibo murmurs, and because Bouboo isn't Xiao Zhan, he doesn't escalate further, doesn't make outrageous claims about Yibo's small face and his seniority and his physical genius, but he does crook his fingers and nail Yibo's prostate. "Enough," Yibo sighs, "that's enough," and a moment later he hears a condom packet being ripped open. A cool drizzle of lube slides across his hole, and then Bouboo lines himself up and starts pushing in.
Just the first breach of the tip is enough to make Yibo go boneless against the sheets. His eyes flutter shut. Bouboo fucks with the same fluid control as he dances, the same patience. Yibo feels himself being split open in gradual increments, steady and inexorable. His jaw slackens; his back dips; his stomach winds tighter. He thinks he's all the way full and then Bouboo pushes in some more.
"Fuck," Yibo says, drawing the vowel out. His hands scrabble against the sheets, and his fingers bump against something plastic. When he turns his face and blearily opens his eyes again, his phone is lit up.
He slides his gaze over a couple of WeChat notifications on the screen, but he's too strung out to really process them, especially after Bouboo finally bottoms out with a loud groan. He's lodged so deep inside Yibo it'll be impossible not to feel it tomorrow; he hopes there are new bruises on his hips to match, Bouboo's nails biting into his skin.
Bouboo makes a questioning noise when Yibo nudges his phone down the bed, toward their knees. "Can you — take video?" he manages to get out. "For my boyfriend." Thinking about Xiao Zhan jerking off to this later makes Yibo's cock drip.
"Ah," Bouboo sighs, pumping his hips slowly. Yibo gasps, grinding back against him. He can't see him like this, but he thinks Bouboo sounds amused when he says, "Of course."
After that, each thrust jolts Yibo forward, until his forearms are bumping against the headboard and his face is buried in the crumpled pillows. Yibo groans wetly against the fabric, spine arched, blood singing through his veins, toes curling as Bouboo rails him into the mattress. The whole room smells like sex; it brims over with the sound of their heavy breathing, the slap of skin on skin, the slick squelch as Bouboo fucks into him. Yibo reaches down to curl his hand around his dick, jacking himself with brutal efficiency, one long, continuous moan drawn from his chest.
Bouboo's pace turns erratic; a moment later, Yibo feels a warm, wet mouth brushing against the back of his neck, and then he comes so hard that the jizz makes it all the way up to his throat. Bouboo fucks him shallowly through the orgasm, quick and rough, and goes rigid when he follows Yibo over the edge.
Yibo splays out on his stomach after Bouboo pulls out, ankles crossed, cooling down. Bouboo ties the condom off and chucks it in the trash. Then he rolls back toward him, kissing the curve of Yibo's shoulder, and dangles Yibo's phone in front of his face. "Thanks," Yibo says in Chinese, swiping through his camera roll. Bouboo's taken several videos, each around ten or fifteen seconds long. Most of them are pretty wobbly, but there are a few that really highlight the curve of Yibo's ass and the sprawl of his body, his fucked-out noises filtering in over the sound of the air conditioning. "This one's good, right?"
"Mhm," Bouboo says, idly ruffling Yibo's hair. They stay like that for a brief moment, basking in the afterglow. After Bouboo catches his breath, he slides off the bed and starts shrugging his clothes back on. Yibo watches him move through narrowed eyes, already thinking past the second round of cuts. Bouboo could win it all if he wanted; even bending over now to pick up his shirt, he's so fluid. He catches Yibo staring and grins again, throwing him a brief salute as he crouches to slide his shoes back on.
"Good luck in the second cuts," Yibo says, waving over his mountain of pillows.
"Don't need it," Bouboo says, grinning, and Yibo stretches out, satisfied, as the door clicks shut behind him.
It's almost one in the morning. In the past hour, while Yibo was otherwise occupied, Xiao Zhan shot him a string of shocked emojis in reply to the message about Jackson's injuries, and another text saying that Yixing had sent him pictures of the floor burn across his knuckles. Yibo had winced in sympathy when Yixing showed them during dinner. The last few messages are just a sad picture of the broken handle of one of Xiao Zhan's favorite mugs, BB8-shaped, and a meme of a crying cat.
Yibo makes a mental note to somehow get his hands on a replacement, and then he returns, i know what'll cheer you up. He selects three of the videos from earlier and drops them in the chat before hauling himself into the bathroom to brush his teeth.
His phone's going off when he gets back to the bed. Yibo smirks as the video call connects. "Yibo, you gotta warn a guy," Xiao Zhan groans without preamble. He's got a sheet mask on, probably something extra-hydrating since he's up late, but Yibo can still see the way Xiao Zhan's features twist into a dramatic rictus of pain through the translucent paper.
"I said I could cheer you up," Yibo counters, unrepentant. "I think that was enough advance notice." Xiao Zhan says he's too tired to jerk off — Yibo will never be able to relate — but he listens on with rapt attention as Yibo walks him through the last three days: staying up till dawn to record the choreographed dances, all the outfit changes and the fiddly styling his hair has been subjected to, the state of his team after the first day of auditions.
"The guy who was fucking you in those videos," Xiao Zhan says, peeling his mask off in the bathroom, face glistening with pulp. "One of your team members?"
"Yeah, Bouboo," Yibo says, rubbing his hands over his eyes. "I sent you his audition clip earlier. He's a hip-hop street dancer from France, but he lives in Shanghai now." His voice speeds up as he warms to the subject. "Shit, he's so good, Zhan-ge. The way he moves is unreal. He beat three people in a row during a freestyle battle and won me two extra towels. I nearly dropped to my knees and blew him right there on the dance floor."
When he catches sight of his phone screen again, Xiao Zhan's skin is dry, and he's smiling at Yibo, eyes crinkled, head tilted.
Yibo's heartbeat hiccups in his chest. "What?"
"Nothing," Xiao Zhan says, the frame jostling as he shuffles back into his bedroom. "You're cute when you're being enthusiastic about something. I mean — you're always cute, but especially then."
"Shut up, you're cute," Yibo huffs, too tired to come up with a better comeback. He bites his lip, thinking through the last bit of his day. "I may also have goaded the other captains into a potential gangbang in the near future?"
Xiao Zhan's nostrils flare as he inhales sharply. For a split second, Yibo's afraid he might object, and his stomach drops down to his toes. Then Xiao Zhan shakes his head, exhales, and says, "It's just like you to go big." He sounds so fond. Yibo got fucked less than half an hour ago, is still wet and open from Bouboo's dick, and yet he still wants to touch Xiao Zhan so badly his whole chest aches. He doesn't understand Xiao Zhan sometimes, but he's not stupid enough to keep asking self-defeating questions like am I really cute even when I'm talking about another guy and why won't you sleep with anyone else? Why mess with something that's working, right? Sating his body tides him over well enough.
Still — after they hang up, Yibo stares up at the ceiling for a long time, CCTV5 murmuring in the background. When he finally falls asleep, he dreams about vague impressions: of Xiao Zhan's red mouth, of the fuzzy trail of hair leading down Xiao Zhan's stomach, of his own big hands wrapped around Xiao Zhan's tiny waist.
Wednesday, after breakfast, Yibo gets shuttled to the Youku studio to film talking heads about the previous day's auditions while they're still fresh in his memory. Once he's finished with that, he's allowed five minutes to grab a quick bite to eat at craft services, followed by at least an hour of initial styling, and then the rest of the afternoon consists of various photoshoots that will eventually make their way onto some sort of advertising for the show.
After hair and wardrobe Thursday morning, the captains are ushered back onto the familiar soundstage. The contestants have been rehearsing new routines for the second round of cuts; the four of them, plus guest host Huang Bo, now have to deal with the difficult task of whittling over a hundred contestants down to sixty.
The experience is a lot more harrowing than Yibo had anticipated, even though watching Jackson flirt outrageously with Huang Bo the whole time is pretty entertaining. The problem is: at this stage, everyone is terrific. The format, designed for peak drama, allows for impromptu battles if someone wants to challenge, which means they're all throwing everything they have into their performances, blood, sweat, and tears. Bouboo and Klash lead a team through with flying colors, but Yixing's krumpers fall with no votes, and Xiao Ji makes the cut by the skin of his teeth. Yibo remembers having to fight for space as a kid and as a trainee, armed with nothing but his skill. He wouldn't call himself a sympathetic crier, but even he tears up a little during Taotao and Cici's number, their red and black outfits billowing as they bow and kiss and spring through the air to the sumptuous refrain of traditional music. A routine about love after death. Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear would make the same connection.
By the end of the day, Yibo feels like he's run the whole gamut of human emotion, and he still has a late night flight to Changsha to catch. Jackson shrugs his blazer off in their makeup room and hip-checks Yibo as he's heading out. Yibo knocks his elbow against Jackson's bicep and says, "See you guys next week."
"Say hi to Zhangwei-ge for me!" Jackson says, batting his eyelashes. Yibo laughs, nods, goes.
His flight out of Hongqiao is delayed due to thunderstorms in Hunan. He ends up playing two casual rounds of Honor of Kings with Yu Bin while waiting at the terminal; they land in Changsha just shy of two in the morning. Fortunately, his Day Day Up taping doesn't start until later in the afternoon, so Yibo crashes at the hotel and sleeps in for a change. His people wake him up around lunch time, and Haiyi presses a crisp apple into his hands as they take the elevator down to his ride.
Yibo crunches into the apple and thumbs WeChat open. Xiao Zhan has messaged him a few blurry selfies: he's outside, the sun lighting him up from behind, and he's in period dress again, God knows what for. Even if Xiao Zhan wants to, he probably can't tell anyone about it, not even Yibo. xiao-laoshi's face is even brighter than the sun, he types in response, adding a smirking emoji at the end.
The other hosts have already assembled by the time Yibo gets through hair and makeup. Wang Han greets him first when he joins them on stage. "So glad you've graced us with your presence, Yibo," Da Zhangwei says, grinning cheekily. "Not too busy for your favorite geges, are you?"
"Never too busy for you, Da-laoshi," Yibo says, accepting a microphone one of the PAs hands him. "Jia'er-ge says hello, by the way." Da Zhangwei launches into a story about the last time they saw each other, something about the previous season of Go Fridge, and Yibo presses the back of his hand to his face. "I don't look too tired, do I? The makeup artists took a while today."
"You look great, actually," Qian Feng says, patting his back, and Yibo tries and fails not to preen. "You're honestly kind of glowing." Whether that's the result of what he's been filming or who he's been fucking, Yibo can't say, but it's probably a combination of both.
They're shooting a couple of cooking segments first, which Yibo's growling stomach is thankful for. He gets to eat huge sautéed prawns and pickled radish, spicy chicken and scallion pancakes, and every time he circles the table, he shovels more marinated bean sprouts into his mouth. "I don't know if everyone has noticed, but I think Yibo's eaten half that plate," Wang Han remarks.
Yibo sends the guests a winning smile. "The sprouts are really tasty," he says, dipping forward for some more. "Nice and tangy. Plus, I'm a growing boy."
"You really are all skin and bones, Yibo," Da Zhangwei says, clicking his tongue. "Come on, come on, keep eating."
Yibo does. He eats until he's full and then he eats some more, smacking his lips as he chews. His mom is going to be so mad about his manners when she watches this episode. Afterwards, he shuffles backstage to let various crewmembers move the dirty dishes out of the way and redress the stage for the celebrity guests of the evening.
Wang Han knocks back half a bottle of water and grabs another before he meanders over to where Yibo's sitting, reviewing the choreography video for the dance number he'll be recording later. Yibo looks up and smiles when Wang Han taps the bottle against his shoulder. "Thanks, Han-ge," he says, leaning back against his chair and twisting the cap off.
"Maybe if you're hydrated enough, you'll talk more," Wang Han quips, but there's no real heat to it. A moment later, he pins Yibo with a more serious look and asks, "You're getting enough rest, right? Your schedule isn't too bad?"
"It's intense, but I'm enjoying it," Yibo says truthfully. "For the most part. Some days are better than others." A couple years ago Yibo would have bristled at the implication he might not be able to handle this much work, but that's what landed him in the hospital three times in the back half of 2018, once while filming on location in Guiyang, the sweltering July heat baked into his body. In retrospect, the fact that Xiao Zhan had accompanied him to the emergency room should've clued Yibo in that he was something special. It had taken another ten months for them to get together, but when Yibo opened his eyes and saw Xiao Zhan with his head pillowed in his arms, dozing against the gurney, maybe he'd already had some idea where the path ahead might lead them.
At any rate, he can tell Wang Han's concern is genuine, which is comforting in its own way. Jackson might joke about Yibo's penchant for seducing geges, but it's nice sometimes, having someone older and wiser just to talk with. Wang Han never tells him his feelings are dumb.
"I like being busy," Yibo continues, his scattered thoughts coalescing, "but sometimes…"
Wang Han eyes him shrewdly. "How are you and your Xiao-laoshi?"
"Good," Yibo says, which is also true, although weird but good might be a more precise descriptor. "I think he's in the mountains somewhere right now. Still has cell service, though."
"As long as you're staying in touch. Communication is important in a relationship."
Yibo thinks about their running WeChat thread and the long video calls every few days, the voice messages and stupid memes, and smiles into his palm. "You sound like a Happy Camp PSA," he complains.
Wang Han laughs. "Watch out," he returns, eyes twinkling behind his glasses. "I'm going to tell He-laoshi you're talking trash about him."
"Noooo," Yibo says, sagging against the chair. "I repent! I repent. Han-ge, do you need a back massage?"
Xiao Zhan has sent him two more selfies by the time Yibo returns to the hotel. The first shows him beaming and pointing to a cool bug I found! with gross antennas and about a zillion legs. It makes Yibo legitimately recoil from his screen; he swipes quickly to the second photo. One of Xiao Zhan's castmates must have taken it for him: he's lying stomach-first on the grassy slope of whatever hill they were filming on, eyes closed in gentle repose, long legs crossed at the ankle. There's no bug in this picture, but it isn't any less of an attack. Yibo saves it to his camera roll immediately.
you're so cruel, zhan-ge :( he messages back after he washes up. No response, but that's to be expected when Xiao Zhan's working. Yibo scrolls back up through their chat history and listens to a set of older voice messages from last month, Xiao Zhan crooning in his ear. He'd been fucking himself with his own fingers that day, grumbling breathlessly about how they weren't as thick and long and blunt as Yibo's, how he couldn't wait for Yibo to come home and take him apart.
Yibo spills in his hand before he even gets to the part where Xiao Zhan switches his fingers out for a dildo. He takes a picture of the tacky jizz webbing between his palm and his softening dick, warmly lit by the bedside lamp, and sends that too.
They tape two episodes worth of material over the weekend, and then Yibo's flying back to Shanghai Monday morning for more Street Dance of China. There's a discussion with the producers when everyone's arrived — a little bit about various endorsement deals and a little bit about scriptedness in relation to ratings — but Yibo really isn't paying attention. He just wants to get back to the dancing.
At the tail end of the meeting, the showrunners screen a rough thirty-minute cut from the first day of auditions, which is fun to watch. The editors have been working hard adding proposed effects and splicing footage together. Yibo half-listens to the occasional pointer from an assistant director about camera angles and surreptitiously records the screen when they get to his 3v3 battles against Jackson's team. In the moment, excitement buzzing loud in his ears as they frantically put together routines to fit the music, Yibo hadn't thought too much about how he would look on camera. A few days removed, though, the bit where he cocks his hips as Da Bing and Taotao pretend to grope him seems even more suggestive than he'd anticipated. It doesn't help that the editors have decided to play that moment back three times in slow motion; on the last playback they even zoom in on his stuck-out tongue.
"Sexy," Jackson comments, grinning when Yibo snorts. At the very least, Xiao Zhan should definitely appreciate the aesthetics.
Taping in the afternoon first involves another hour of hotpot to recap their thoughts on the previous round of cuts, and then the captains have to run around the studios where the contestants have gathered and try to steal people from the other teams. The twelve hours after that are devoted to group choreography for the next round of head-to-head battles between each team. One of the captains is going to have clear bragging rights at the end of the day.
"So are we betting?" Yibo says before they split, twisting back and forth to get his muscles warmed up. "Captain that wins the most battles gets a prize?"
"You're on," Yixing replies immediately. Jackson sticks his tongue out as he stretches and says, "Prepare for total annihilation."
Yibo can think of a few things that could use annihilation, but he doesn't say that out loud. There'll be time for easy innuendos later. Instead, he glances at Wallace. "Hanliang-ge, are you in?"
Wallace sighs, every inch the tired elder of the group, but folds his hands across his chest and nods. "Don't underestimate me," he says, eyes glinting, and a slow flame sparks in Yibo's stomach. He's ready.
They break out, camera crews milling around them. Yibo throws himself into the work, pausing only to hydrate and caffeinate and occasionally stuff a handful of nuts into his mouth. His section of the soundstage has actual skateboards mounted on the walls, so Xiao Ji comes up with a routine that makes use of those, to pretty stunning effect. Meng Di and Taotao put together several sequences for the other two groups in his team. Yibo helps them string all the pieces together, running through the music with all three groups over and over again until the extensions in his hair turn damp and his shirt is soaked completely through.
All that's left after that are the performances, set for the next afternoon. Yibo bows low on his way out for a bit of rest at the hotel. "You've worked hard," he tells them, meaning it. "Try to get some sleep before the big show." He knows they'll probably be practicing all the way up to when they have to dance, but it's still worth saying.
"You've worked hard too, duizhang," Cici says. Several others in earshot hoarsely shout their agreement before turning back to iron out the last bits of choreography. Yibo's smiling as he leaves.
Back in his room, Yibo showers, brushes his teeth, checks his phone. Xiao Zhan's only left two voice messages in response to the video Yibo sent, but they're doozies: "Don't have a lot of time in between takes," he says, sounding apologetic and then rapturous, "but you looked so good, Yibo. You looked like you were enjoying all those hands on you. What if they held you down and kept you there?" Yibo turns over with a gasp, grinding into the mattress. "What if they smoothed your hair back and told you how well you were doing? What if they rolled you onto your stomach and didn't let you up again until you were covered in come?"
"If all goes well, that'll happen sooner rather than later," Yibo sends back.
He falls asleep completely spent and wakes up aching, which is only right for a day like this. His whole body thrums through hair and makeup, and Haiyi settles a hand in the crook of his elbow before they step out onto the soundstage. "You good?" she asks, eyebrow arched, no nonsense.
"Yeah," Yibo says, taking a deep breath. "Got a lot riding on this."
She rolls her eyes, good-natured. "You know they'd fuck you even without a stupid bet, right?"
"Sure, but this is way more fun," Yibo says guilelessly. The sound of her snort follows him through the door.
They've brought back winners from previous seasons to judge the routines. Once the lots are drawn for competition order, it's all kind of a blur to Yibo. He thinks he says all the right things, providing commentary when he's cued, laughing at Xiao Ji's continuing antics and Jackson's random outbursts. The judges are impressed by the skateboard routine, especially the part where Xiao Ji pushes one across the floor and Klash flips into a neat headstand right on top of it. Yixing literally falls out of his chair with glee, and Wallace nudges Yibo's arm, lips quirked up. "Your guys really went all out, huh?"
"Go big or go home," Yibo says, not quite able to erase the smugness from his voice.
For what it's worth, the other teams didn't come to play, either. Jackson's Xiao Chao puts up another scintillating fight against Bouboo, but the mastery and polish of Yibo's guys end up pushing them over the top. Su Lianya from Wallace's team goes up against Meng Di's group, and an initial tie vote leads to three rounds of freestyle dance battles. Yibo feels like he holds his breath through the entire back and forth, but he's on his feet again when the judges award him the win. None of the other captains gets through undefeated. The headiness of victory makes Yibo feel dizzy, but he thinks he manages to keep a normal expression on his face.
Still, the hard part has to be done: culling members. There are tears, handshakes, hugs; Yibo has to send home three worthy contestants even though his team members won all their battles. The night ends with another round of debrief hotpot, Jackson complaining about how the showrunners are definitely trying to fatten him up, and the requisite variety show games. By the end of it, Yibo should be exhausted, but he feels more awake than he has in a while, legs jittering beneath the table.
"So," Yixing says when dinner's winding down, chin propped in his hand, knowing twinkle in his eye. "Yibo. As the winner of today's unofficial captain's bet…"
"Yes, that's right," Jackson says, clinking his chopsticks against his glass of water.
"You already know what I want," Yibo says. There's no point in being shy about it. He slides deeper into his seat, hooking his arm over the backrest, and stretches his legs out. "I said what I said."
Wallace is quiet for a moment, but his fingers drum against the table. "We're all staying at the same hotel, right?" he says at last.
"Mm," Yibo says. "The soundproofing there isn't great." He sends Yixing a look. "Last week Yixing-ge woke me up at six in the morning while krumping upstairs."
"That was one time!" Yixing protests, draping a hand over his face.
Yibo shakes his head, thinking of Xiao Zhan laying out all the possibilities in his ear, desire rushing through him like the tide. "What I mean is — we could just do it here." There's a big, deep, comfortable pleather couch in the hotpot room, and the show's crew has mostly cleared out. All they have to do is shut off the stationary cameras and shed their stage clothes, maybe let their people know they'll be otherwise occupied for a bit. "I already have condoms in my bag." Haiyi had passed him the trusty Nike side-sling on their way off the stage. Yibo sticks the tip of his tongue out as he taps his chin. "Think you can use them all up?"
"Holy shit, Yibo," Jackson says, laughing a little incredulously. "You don't mess around, do you?"
"Not when the stakes are this high," Yibo says, and because things are going a bit too slowly for his taste, he slides off his chair and into Yixing's lap before he even finishes the sentence.
"At least let us make sure every recording device has been turned off first," Jackson exclaims, jumping out of his seat. Wallace's eyebrows leap to his hairline, but he doesn't look dismayed, and after a moment's consideration, he gets up to help Jackson with the microphones. Yibo leaves them to it, tilting his head down as Yixing brings his arms around his back and surges up to meet him. The kissing turns heated quickly, adrenaline making Yibo's movements jerky and frantic. Yixing's fingers press down Yibo's spine in a soothing pattern, and Yibo squirms, shifting closer, palms braced against Yixing's strong shoulders.
He's just starting to relax when Yixing lifts him off the chair and moves toward the couch. Yibo lands on it with a squeaky bounce. As he kicks his shoes and socks off, shimmies out of the rest of his outfit, Yixing mirrors his movements. One glance to the side reveals that Jackson's already mostly stripped, and Wallace is watching them from his perch on the far armrest of the sofa, jacket folded neatly over his arm, eyes dark.
There's no reason Yibo can't put on a show. He's been told he's very good at it. He reaches down in his lap and jacks himself, enjoying the drag of his dry palm against the length of his dick. "Come on," he says, as much of a challenge as anything he says while they're live on air, playing up rivalries for the views. "Show me what you got."
Yixing finishes shedding his clothing at top speed. Jackson, still in his underwear, reaches down to rummage through Yibo's bag and, through some unspoken agreement, tosses Yixing the lube. Yibo hitches a knee and splays his other leg out, propping himself up on his elbows. He tosses his head back when he feels the first breach of Yixing's fingers. It's a good burn, the kind of sting he craves, and his mouth falls open around a groan.
Jackson takes the opportunity to step forward, half-hard cock tucked over the waistband of his boxer-briefs. "There you go," he murmurs, feeding Yibo his dick, brushing a hand against Yibo's forehead. "That's it."
The angle is awkward, but Yibo isn't distracted enough to be sloppy yet; he hollows his cheeks and hums as he bobs down, eyes fluttering shut so he can focus on the feeling. Jackson's thicker than Yixing is, and the stretch is nice, a balancing counterpoint to the fingers reaching inside him.
By the time Yixing pushes both his legs back and slides in, Yibo's leaking against his own stomach, sweaty skin sticking to the couch. He groans around Jackson's dick, spit dripping from the corner of his mouth. Yixing is precise and methodical, working his hips like a machine; the fine motor control from years of honing his body to do exactly what he wants means he nails the right spot every single time. Yibo's hurtling to the edge faster than he thought possible, each stroke knocking muffled noises out of him, hands scrabbling against the sofa.
His eyes fly wide open as he comes without warning, untouched, spurting up his chest. Yixing goes still for a moment, a wide 'o' of surprise stretching across his mouth. Yibo jerks his head back and groans, "No, don't — don't stop. Keep going." He can't help thinking that Xiao Zhan would know to keep going, would be able to tell them exactly what Yibo likes — but Xiao Zhan isn't here right now. He can't be. At least Yixing takes him seriously; he resumes, harder now, and Yibo gasps through the pleasure-pain, the edges of his vision whiting out a little.
Jackson's more of a talker than Yixing is, which doesn't surprise him one bit. When Yibo mouths at him again, Jackson twists his hands in Yibo's hair and curses in English, thrusting hard enough that Yibo chokes. "Wang-duizhang," he singsongs, kind of winded. "Jesus, your mouth."
Yibo tries to smile around Jackson's dick and nearly scrapes his teeth across the shaft. He manages to firm his lips up in time, slurping as he bobs his head. He reaches up to massage a crick developing in his neck, and Yixing must notice, because a moment later hands are guiding him onto his stomach.
The new angle lets Yixing slide deeper, filling him up more as Jackson lifts Yibo's chin in one hand and guides him back onto his cock. Fucking dancers is so wonderful, honestly; their rhythms sync up almost immediately, the continuous one-two punch of thrusts leaving Yibo with no room to breathe. He doesn't know whether to push back or forward, trapped between them, stuffed full. Everything narrows down to the overwhelming bliss of being touched with intent. Yibo's hard again in no time at all, heavy against his thigh. His wrists ache from holding himself up, so he pushes his face into Jackson's crotch and sags, letting him take his weight.
Yixing comes first, pushing in one last time before going rigid and bending over to press his sweaty forehead between Yibo's shoulder blades. He stays there for another long moment before sliding out. "Your turn, Hanliang-ge," Yibo hears faintly, from somewhere far above, and gasps around Jackson when the sofa dips behind him.
"Yibo," comes Wallace's voice, floating through the haze of Yibo's raucous want. A hand sweeps down his back. Something broad and blunt bumps against his hole. "You really are something else."
Yibo's stomach flips over when Wallace starts pushing inside him; he comes again as Wallace bottoms out, hips pressed flush against the meat of Yibo's ass. Yibo bucks into the feeling, mouth going slack, and clenches hard around Wallace's cock. Jackson curses again, sharp and tight. He pulls back, fist moving rapidly. Yibo blinks up through his bangs, eyes meeting Jackson's hungry gaze. Yibo's tongue sliding out of his mouth in time for the first stripe of come that splatters across his face. It tastes salty, a little bitter, thick and sticky. He stays upright long enough to lean in and suckle at the head as Jackson shudders through it, and then Yibo pitches forward and lets his burning face hit the cool, synthetic finish of the sofa.
After that, it's difficult to keep his eyes open, impossible to keep track of everything that's happening around him. Pure sensation takes over, impressions of smell and taste and touch and sound. He feels stretched, over-used, completely fucked out. In between harsh pants, his own dick starts to come alive again, the feedback loop of arousal nudging him back toward the brink. He vaguely registers fingers carding through his hair and nails digging into his thighs. He thinks someone might mount him from behind again after Wallace, but he can't be sure if the switch actually happened or if it's just the wishful thinking of his fevered brain. At one point, after Yibo has long since lost count of how many times he's come, he gets laid out on his back and pulled to full hardness. Yibo cracks his eyes open, gasping wetly, Jackson's sweaty, cheerful face swimming into view. Hands slide a condom on Yibo's dick, slick him up, and Jackson leans down to press their mouths together as he sits back, squeezing around him. The oversensitivity is too good, too much, too fast. The last thing Yibo remembers before he sinks below the undertow, ears ringing, is the soft sound of a familiar voice, forming words he can't quite grasp.
The next lucid thought Yibo has is when he wakes up in his hotel room, throat parched, every muscle in his body deliciously sore. He stretches carefully, rotating his wrists and ankles as he points his toes, taking stock of the tenderness in his lower back and a dull burn in his abs from the unorthodox core workout.
When he manages to uncurl enough to pull his blankets down, he fumbles for his phone and a water bottle on the nightstand. It's a quarter past seven, about ten minutes before his alarm is supposed to go off. His jaw cracks as he yawns, rubbing his eyes, and unlocks his phone. He scrolls through a handful of perfunctory messages from Haiyi, timestamped last night: to thank Wallace for cleaning him up and dressing him in his street clothes after the fact, some sort of dry-clean bill for the hotpot room couch, and a note that he's still expected to show up for talking head tapings and more endorsement meetings at Youku today. Business as usual.
In the bathroom, Yibo shrugs his big shirt off. His skin is dotted with marks from nails and teeth; he takes a few pictures of the damage and sends them to Xiao Zhan. hope work isn't kicking your ass too much he adds, with a sticker of Xiao Zhan's face surrounded by heart emojis because he's feeling indulgent, endorphins still buzzing beneath his skin. when you get a chance, call - lots to share 😈
He does a few yoga poses on the floor to loosen his tighter muscles, thighs and calves and twinging biceps, and then he showers the residual stickiness off his skin. One of his bodyguards knocks on the door at eight, like clockwork, and Yibo gets ferried to the studio to record.
There are no new messages on his phone when he wraps for the day, but he does run into Yixing on his way out, around dinnertime. Yixing is wearing loose clothes for dancing, and Yibo can hear faint music pouring out from one of the practice rooms around the corner. "How are you feeling?" Yixing asks, scanning Yibo over with a critical eye.
"Great," Yibo says, bouncing in place, and can't help himself from angling for a compliment. "Enjoy yourself yesterday?"
"Mm," Yixing says, eyes flashing briefly out of his usual vacant expression. "It was… very hot. Not that I expected any less from you." His eyes curve. "Xiao-laoshi seemed very into it too."
Record scratch, freeze frame. "Um," Yibo stutters, blinking. "Uh, what?"
"He FaceTimed in while you were, um, busy with Hanliang-ge," Yixing says. "You've explained your arrangement before, so when I saw his name on the screen, I answered the call." He seems to clock a bit of Yibo's agitation, because his lips turn down. "Should I not have?"
"No, it's fine," Yibo mumbles, itchy between his shoulder blades. "Did he say anything?"
"Well, he convinced us to keep going even though you passed out a little bit later," Yixing says, lifting his baseball cap and rifling his fingers through his hair. "Said you liked that sort of thing."
"I do," Yibo says, sending Yixing what he hopes is a reassuring smile. "Anything else?"
"Jackson took the phone and started telling him how lucky he was to have you," Yixing says, mouth twitching. "I don't think you have anything to worry about, Yibo."
"Right," Yibo says. "You're right."
He's right. Xiao Zhan hasn't actually given Yibo any reason to doubt him, but still, Yibo's phone burns a hole in his pocket. He forces himself to wait until he's back at the hotel before he checks it again. There are messages from other people — a rough demo version of a song that Seungyoun's been working on and a deluge of notifications in one of the Untamed group chats because of the new promotional images from Liu Haikuan's upcoming drama — but nothing from Xiao Zhan.
By itself, the radio silence shouldn't mean much. Yibo's dropped off the face of the planet for weeks while filming, and Xiao Zhan's latest project seems to be guarded more intensely than most. Yibo rationalizes it to himself through a late dinner of cup ramen in his room and again in the morning when Xiao Zhan still hasn't responded to anything. He tries not to panic, but it feels like everything he's been picking at over the past few weeks is clicking together. The world's worst puzzle.
The thing is — Xiao Zhan is very good at pretending. For people who don't know him very well, to the masses and the cameras, his gentle smile is virtually impenetrable. Yibo has learned to read him better over the years, has grown as close to him as two people can be, so he can usually tell when something's going on behind the composed mask Xiao Zhan puts on for everyone else. But Yibo was also completely out of it when Xiao Zhan ostensibly video-called, so he can't really know for sure whether or not Xiao Zhan's reactions were genuine. He'd left Yibo all those filthy voice messages, but the details had been purely theoretical. Maybe he'd seen it for himself through a phone screen, Yibo a sweaty, panting mess covered in other people's come, and changed his mind.
Usually Xiao Zhan never shies away from the opportunity to compliment Yibo; if he was really fine with what happened, he would've sent him something, right? Yibo tries his best not to be too distracted through his last full day of work on Thursday, trying to pay attention when the photographers cue him through three different photoshoots for various Youku sponsors, but his mind appears to have seized on the idea that Xiao Zhan's giving him the cold shoulder and refused to let it go. Communication is important in a relationship, Wang Han told him over the weekend, wise words from someone who's been married for a decade, but how is Yibo supposed to communicate when Xiao Zhan won't even talk to him?
"Could you smile a little more, Wang-laoshi?" the cameraman asks him, gesturing at the beer he's gripping, fingers numb from the cold. "It's supposed to be a party drink." Yibo attempts to make his expression a little less wooden, but the shoot still lasts another couple hours, the little voice in his head reciting the same worst-case scenarios.
At least Yibo will finally be back in Beijing tomorrow. He doesn't know if he'll be able to explain himself face-to-face, doesn't even know if he can really put into words what he's feeling, but he has to try.
Friday morning, Yibo fiddles with his phone at the gate, knee jiggling restlessly as he opens and closes their WeChat thread over and over again. you aren't mad at me, are you? he sends at last, in a moment of weakness. He always hates to sound whiny, but he has to know. because we can stop if it's too much. i don't want to make you uncomfortable. No response. He tabs over to Weibo, intending to scroll a bit with unseeing eyes. Coincidence of coincidences, there's a post right at the top for that mobile game Xiao Zhan's been promoting.
Yibo's throat closes, tight and miserable, and he opens WeChat again just before they take off and recalls every message he sent. He also deletes the pictures of his marked-up skin for good measure. Better safe than sorry.
He knocks out for the two hours it takes to get to Beijing and wakes up with a sharp pain in his neck. His people usher him through the airport and into a waiting car, and the driver pulls out into afternoon traffic. "Where to, laoban?"
Yibo could go back to his own apartment, but he has a key to Xiao Zhan's place and would rather rip the bandaid off in one go. Yibo recites the address. He spends the whole ride reflexively cycling through his apps. Nothing, nothing, nothing.
Upstairs, Yibo kicks his shoes off, wheels his suitcase into the bedroom, and crawls onto Xiao Zhan's bed. He should wash up, probably, but the exhaustion hits him all at once, limbs heavy as he sinks into the mattress. He dozes off with his nose pressed to Xiao Zhan's pillows, the sweet smell of his shampoo lulling Yibo to sleep.
"Yibo," comes a voice, close and familiar and well-loved. "Hey, Yibo. Wake up."
Yibo rolls reflexively into the pillow that his arms are curled around, hugging it tighter, and then his sleep-addled brain realizes who it must be. He jerks his head up and back. "Zhan-ge," he says, scrambling upright so quickly his head spins, and then they're both going down in a tangle of limbs, Yibo's legs clamped around Xiao Zhan's waist, his arms looped around his neck.
Xiao Zhan starts laughing. It's the best sound Yibo's heard in weeks. "Hey, hey — it's good to see you too." Xiao Zhan's hands scrub up and down his back through the material of his shirt, firm and steady, the way he knows Yibo likes. "Imagine my surprise when I got home after a week of filming to find you already here."
"Couldn't wait to come over," Yibo mumbles, nosing at Xiao Zhan's neck, breathing in the sharp scent of his aftershave. "Hadn't heard from you."
"Sorry," Xiao Zhan sighs, Adam's apple bobbing as he swallows. "I know it's been a while. There was like, no service on location, and the Wi-Fi at the hotel was literally nonexistent. Super annoying."
Yibo relaxes. Of course that was the reason. He should stop thinking so much; it never ends well. "I'd die, probably," he mutters, pressing closer.
He almost thinks he's gotten away with everything, the unfounded worry and useless handwringing, when Xiao Zhan's hands go still on his back. His voice sharpens as he asks, slow and steady, "Wanna tell me why I landed at the airport this evening to ten deleted WeChat messages from you?"
Yibo tries to keep his breathing even, but he can't disguise the way his body tenses up again. "Nothing. It was stupid."
Xiao Zhan's hands resume their sweeping, fingers digging into a few sore spots closer to Yibo's spine. "Talk to me, sweetheart."
God, but Xiao Zhan knows how to play dirty. Yibo's face goes hot. His palms feel clammy with sweat. "I thought you—" What had he thought? That a few days of no contact meant Xiao Zhan was rethinking their entire relationship? Even looking back on it now, it seems overdramatic. "Yixing said you'd called before you went underground, and I thought you were mad at me." Xiao Zhan doesn't say anything, and Yibo tucks his face tighter into the crook of his neck. "Sorry. I told you it was stupid."
"It was really sudden," Xiao Zhan mumbles, absently brushing his mouth across Yibo's temple. "I was going to tell you I'd be MIA for at least a couple of days, but by the time we were halfway up the mountain, service had already dropped off." One of his hands slides up to cup the back of Yibo's neck. "I wasn't mad at you. I'm not mad at you. Yibo." The hand at his neck twists in his hair and tugs him up a little. "Hey, look at me. Where is this coming from?"
They're almost nose to nose, and Xiao Zhan has gone kind of cross-eyed trying to study his face. He's so cute Yibo wants to kiss all the air out of his lungs like he's been dreaming about for weeks, but they're supposed to be having an adult conversation right now. He grimaces, shaking his head. "I don't know. I guess — I thought maybe you'd changed your mind about the sleeping with other people thing."
Xiao Zhan clicks his tongue. "Why would I do something like that? I keep telling you — you're allowed to do whatever you want."
"But you don't," Yibo blurts out, can't help himself, the top popping off the jar of questions that's been rattling around in his head since they started this. He grinds his teeth, immediately regretting it, but it's too late to retract. Xiao Zhan's brow wrinkles, and Yibo blows out a frustrated breath. "You don't fuck around with anyone else, I mean."
"Well, no," Xiao Zhan says slowly. "My sex drive isn't quite as dialed up as yours."
"So what are you even getting out of this?" Yibo demands, voice cracking. Oh, no. Oh, fuck. It's out in the air, all of Yibo's worst insecurities, hovering in the space between them like a loaded gun.
"What? Yibo." Xiao Zhan pushes himself up with his elbows, and Yibo slides down his lap, knees shifting to settle around Xiao Zhan's hips. There's an unnerving expression on his face, like maybe his eyes are too wide, or he isn't blinking enough. "Do you want me to be sleeping with other people?"
"No!" he says, too fast. "I fucking hate that idea!" Now that he's started talking, he can't stop; the words keep tumbling out of him. It's like watching a car crash in slow motion — or it's like driving his own car into a brick wall for no goddamn reason. Yibo just can't keep himself from ruining a perfectly good thing. "Every time I think about it, I get way too jealous."
Even now, Xiao Zhan doesn't get mad at him, though he has every right to. Instead, he exhales shortly and says, "Good," gaze firm and level. "Because I don't want to sleep with anyone else."
"And it's really okay with you that I do?" Yibo asks, miserable. With mounting horror, he realizes that his eyes are prickling, and he pinches his own thigh to distract himself. Keep it the fuck together, Wang Yibo. "I just—" He takes a deep breath, lets it all out again. "I just don't want you to think that you aren't enough for me, or that there's something wrong with me, or that I'm going to leave you for somebody else."
"Are you?" Xiao Zhan asks patiently.
"No," Yibo says, vehement. "You're the one."
"I believe you," Xiao Zhan says, leaning up to press his mouth to the center of Yibo's forehead. When he pulls back, his eyes are suspiciously glassy too. "There's nothing wrong with you, Yibo. I thought my feelings were obvious, but maybe I should've said it out loud. Maybe I should've been more clear." He tilts his head and smiles, small but real, not one of the countless masks he pastes on for the cameras. "I like things that make you happy. I want you to be happy. I want you to have the things you need, even if I can't always be around to provide them. That's enough for me." He wraps his hands around Yibo's and brings them up to his mouth, kisses each individual knuckle until Yibo's heart is racing in his chest. "I love you."
Yibo clears his throat, blinking rapidly. "I love you too."
Xiao Zhan smiles against their joined hands, bringing them back down into his lap. "Also, it's just really hot hearing you talk about fucking other people. That does a lot for me, personally."
"Okay," Yibo says with effort, chewing on his lip. "Okay. And you don't think that makes me a bad boyfriend?"
"Why would I?" Xiao Zhan shakes his head and sags back into the headboard, eyes drifting shut. "I love you. All of you. The part that can't stop turning every goddamn thing into a competition, the part that puts too much vinegar in the smashed cucumber, the part that collects a harem of geges like it's his job. The part that tries to pretend he doesn't snore." Xiao Zhan opens his eyes and laughs when Yibo pulls their hands apart and smacks his shoulder. "And if you ever feel weird or insecure or whatever, just tell me. I'll set the record straight." His fingers reach out to tickle up Yibo's sides. "If I was pissed off, I promise you'd know."
Yibo surges into him again, mouth brushing across Xiao Zhan's collarbone. "Sometimes it seems like you never are," he mumbles.
"That's not true," Xiao Zhan says. "I get jealous and needy too. I miss you all the time. But unless I have a vast misunderstanding of your schedule, Yibo, I don't think you're FaceTiming other people or bombarding them with sexy voice messages every day. You send pictures of your bruises to anyone else?”
"Of course not," Yibo grumbles. "Those are for you."
"That's what I thought," Xiao Zhan says, sounding pleased. "Trust me. I know you."
"I know you do," Yibo says, voice small. "I do trust you. Sometimes I just need to hear it."
"I'll say it whenever you want. I'll say it all the time, I'll say it until you're sick of hearing it."
"I don't think that's ever going to happen."
"You do love attention." Even that is impossibly fond, the way only Xiao Zhan can make a simple observation sound. They sit for a long moment in companionable silence, breathing in sync, and then Xiao Zhan continues, amused, "So, Yibo. It's been almost a month. Can we fuck now?"
"God, yes, please," Yibo mutters, heat flaring to life in the pit of his belly. He leans down to capture Xiao Zhan's bottom lip between his teeth, sucking it into his mouth and tangling their tongues together. Xiao Zhan's hands reach down to palm Yibo through his shorts. He always knows exactly where to touch, practiced in pulling pleasure out of him. Or maybe it's just that it's Xiao Zhan, and Yibo finds everything he does hot. Either way, Yibo jerks desperately against the friction, breath already coming in heavy pants. This isn't going to take long at all, but that's alright. They have the rest of the weekend to catch up.
They make out and pet each other until Yibo's rocking against the solid line of Xiao Zhan's erection, chasing more. Even then, they only separate for long enough to shove their pants and underwear aside. All it takes is a couple of Xiao Zhan's spit-slick fingers to spread Yibo open, the stretch making him groan. "So loose already," Xiao Zhan murmurs against his throat. "You've really been working hard. What was it like, having everyone's hands on you? I only saw a bit when Yixing picked up my call."
"Intense," Yibo mumbles, gasping when the head of Xiao Zhan's cockhead rubs against the edge of his hole. "Absolutely incredible. Zhan-ge, I was so full—" He cuts himself off on a moan when Xiao Zhan thrusts up into him in one go, Yibo speared on his dick, the sting making him drip precome all over his stomach. "I couldn't — ahh, I could barely breathe. I loved it."
Xiao Zhan slants their mouths together, cradling Yibo in the warm circle of his arms, and then kisses down the line of his jaw. "You're so fucking beautiful," he groans, hitching his hips up with every word, voice laced through with affection. "It's only right that everyone should get to see you like this." Yibo's heart feels so full and so fragile that he's afraid it might shatter into pieces in his rib cage. Xiao Zhan is the perfect intersection of everything Yibo loves, the silly giggle and the stern voice of reason, his teasing partner and his steady anchor. It sucks that Yibo ever has to leave him.
Yibo's about two thrusts away from coming when Xiao Zhan goes completely still. "Zhan-ge," he gasps, trying to grind down into his lap. "I'm so close, you have to — please. Please."
"In a minute, I promise," Xiao Zhan says, pulling back to peer at him through his sweaty bangs, searching Yibo's face. "You always come back to me, don't you? I'm the one you come home to."
"Yes," Yibo says, breath leaving him in a long gust. "Yes." He squeezes around Xiao Zhan's cock, grinning when Xiao Zhan's eyes flutter. "Fuck, yes. Always. Just you, Zhan-ge."
Xiao Zhan's mouth turns up in an answering smile, wide and brilliant. "Good," he says, leaning in to sink his teeth into the slope between Yibo's neck and his shoulder, hands reaching down to curl around Yibo's aching erection as he snaps his hips up one more time. "You're so good. There you go, honey. Let me see you—"
Yibo comes with a choked cry, his whole body curling in toward Xiao Zhan, arms tight around his neck and legs clamping around his thighs. It feels like it lasts forever, Yibo riding the edge of the cresting wave of pleasure until he gets dragged underneath it. He's trembling when he comes down, making little keening sounds when he realizes Xiao Zhan has come too, shooting inside him.
He shivers when Xiao Zhan lays him across the bed and slides out; he sighs, long and deep, when Xiao Zhan shifts down and takes Yibo's spent cock in his mouth, his clever tongue lapping him clean in broad, generous strokes. Sometimes he thinks this might be Xiao Zhan's favorite part of sex, the slow bits afterwards where they take care of each other. Yibo's dick twitches, trying valiantly to harden again too soon, especially when Xiao Zhan pushes Yibo's knees up and licks his own come out of his ass, sucking at the rim until Yibo's squirming against the sheets.
"Zhan-ge," he says, insistent, reaching down to haul Xiao Zhan back up. He yanks his own shirt off and helps Xiao Zhan out of his so that they can lie down face to face, bare skin touching everywhere. They should shower soon, but for now Yibo is content to shuffle closer and cuddle as they catch their breath.
"It's been a long week," Xiao Zhan says after a while, nosing at Yibo's pulse, fingers tracing lazy patterns down his side. "I'm really glad you're here."
"You should be," Yibo says, just to be a punk, and hisses when Xiao Zhan's teeth scrape across his skin. "Me too, me too." He slides a leg between Xiao Zhan's thighs, reaching around to casually grope his ass. "Can I fuck you later?"
Xiao Zhan laughs, high and loud. "You never quit," he marvels. That's not a no.
"You love that about me," he returns, smirking. When Xiao Zhan makes a put-upon noise but doesn't deny it, Yibo laughs too, feeling lighter than he has in months, and rolls on top of Xiao Zhan to kiss him breathless again.