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(our friendship) up against the ropes

Chapter Text

Wei Ying stares at the deep red oozing its way through the fluffy cream pattern of the carpet. Aunt Yu’s fancy, thousand-dollar carpet. Which sits right in the middle of the living room, right in the centre of the party, right in the middle of all the Jiang family’s guests. Right next to Aunt Yu herself.

Why is it that every time something goes right for Wei Ying, it’s always followed by a series of increasingly disastrous events?

(Arriving to class on time for the first time in weeks (weeks!) and what does he get in return? Forgetting his wallet and having to beg Huaisang for lunch, stepping in a puddle and soaking his ratty converse through all the way to bare skin, a text from tomorrow’s potential date cancelling on him with no suggestion of an alternative evening, remembering too late that he was meant to be at the party tonight and turning up in his stretched-out hoodie and still-damp shoes, earning him an incensed glare from Aunt Yu and a spiel of abuse from Jiang Cheng, and now—)

It wasn’t even his glass of wine.

“Wei Wuxian!”

Ah, courtesy name. This will not end well.

“You are a shame to our family! Do you lack the wherewithal to even think about how you are acting? No, of course you don’t, you infant! You are an embarrassment, a disgrace, to think I let that man take you in, we should have left you where we found you—”

“Yu-furen.” Jiang Fengmian’s voice comes through gritted teeth as he cautiously places a hand on his wife’s shoulder. The conversation around them has stopped. Wei Ying is incredibly aware of everyone staring at him.

“Think of your guests,” says Uncle Jiang in a low tone, and Aunt Yu turns her furious expression on him.

“You! Always ready to defend him! He can do nothing wrong in your eyes, can he?!”

Jiang Yanli, blessedly, picks up her wine glass from the carpet and steps into the middle of the argument. “It was just a glass of wine. A-Ying did not mean to knock it out of my hands. Did you, a-Ying?”

Wei Ying can’t shake his head fast enough, but Aunt Yu’s expression only worsens. “Get out,” she spits at him. Wei Ying would like nothing more. She grabs the arm of his hoodie and thrusts him towards the door. “Now. You’ll be paying for this.”

“I’m sorry—” tries Wei Ying, but she just marches him into the foyer with too much power for someone her size, turns on her heel, and slams the living room door behind her. The thud of the solid oak rattles through Wei Ying’s bones.

“Well, fuck me, I guess,” he mutters to himself, going to the coat rack before remembering that he had also forgotten his jacket today, excellent. He opens the door; the rain is still hammering on the driveway. Fuck him very much indeed. Maybe he can call an Uber.

“A-Ying. Are you alright?”

Jiang Yanli shuts the living room door behind her with complete softness, and Wei Ying feels a little bit closer to the verge of tears.

“Yeah, m’ fine,” he mumbles. The rain echoes through the marble and panelling of the foyer. “Don’t worry about it. It’s just another thing that happened.”

Jiang Yanli’s expression softens, and she comes towards him, places a hand on his arm. God, she’s so kind, he doesn’t understand how she came out of that woman. He doesn’t deserve her. None of them do.

The fucking peacock appears from the doorway. “A-Li? Are you—?”

A-Li. Wei Ying suppresses a shudder.

“It’s fine,” he tells her. “Go back to the party. Mom’ll want you there.”

She looks torn. “Will you be okay?”

“Yeah, jiejie, seriously. It was just a carpet. If she really does want me to pay I can—I can put an ad up on Fiverr or something. I make a great babysitter.”

Jiang Yanli smiles. “You do. I’ll give you a shining reference. But I won’t let her make you pay.” She rubs her thumb over his arm. A bit of wine had splashed there too, a dark smudge on faded red. Wei Ying doesn’t have the strength to care. “You’ll definitely be alright, right now, though?”

Yes, jiejie, I’m not a baby.”

“Hm.” She bops his nose gently. “I’ll believe that when you prove it. Will you get home okay?”

Wei Ying extracts himself from her grip with a pat. “I’ve called an Uber.” He hasn’t yet, but he doesn’t want her to worry. “Seriously. Go back and have fun. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“A-Li, let him be. Your mother is wondering where you are.”

Wei Ying flips the peacock off over Jiang Yanli’s shoulder, the arrogant prick, and his forehead reddens satisfyingly. He doesn’t wait any longer to hear his outburst. He presses a quick kiss to his jiejie’s cheek and steps outside, pulling the front door closed before she can protest.

He lingers in the light of the porch, gets out his phone and opens up the Uber app. His rating has yet to recover from the loudly drunken ride he had shared with Huaisang and Jiang Cheng last Saturday. He closes the app, presses the cool of his phone against the side of his face. He doesn’t particularly feel like returning to his cramped apartment and the nearly-empty box of dumplings in the fridge and he doesn’t particularly feel like going out to a bar and drowning his sorrows. He’s had enough sorrows for one day. He needs a distraction, maybe someone’s shoulder to cry on. He needs to be comforted, for fuck’s sake.

It’s maybe an hour’s walk through the rain from the Jiangs’ fancy townhouse to Lan Zhan’s apartment. Wei Ying doesn’t want to take an Uber. He wants to let the rain soak through the thinning fabric of his hoodie and make his shoes feel like puddles and his jeans stick to his thighs. He wants to focus on the cold and the wet and the discomfort so that he doesn’t have to focus on anything else.

It only occurs to him when he’s less than a block away that it’s generally considered polite to ask someone before coming over. He usually does, and Lan Zhan always says yes, so it’s not like it would be unexpected or anything—but it’s nearing 9pm, and Wei Ying knows how his best friend likes his early nights.

He stops under a dripping plastic awning and messages him.


Wei Ying

can I come over?


He waits for at least three minutes before Lan Zhan replies. It’s fine, he tells himself. He’s probably just brushing his teeth or feeding his rabbits or finishing his chapter like an old man. Adorable.

His phone pings.


Lan Zhan 🐰😍✨


Wei Ying

yes :(


The speech bubbles pop up and disappear a couple of times; Wei Ying pouts. He likes it when things go his way. Lan Zhan always lets him come over, and yes it’s late, but it’s not that late. He’ll still survive if he goes to bed at 9:30 instead of 9:00.


Wei Ying

won’t be long you can go to bed soon

just had a bad day :((((

Lan Zhan 🐰😍✨


Wei Ying

:DDDD be there in three mins!


Wei Ying bounds out into the rain, renewed vigour in his steps. Lan Zhan will make it all okay. Lan Zhan will feed him tea and let him cuddle Tumbles and maybe even wrap him in his big fluffy blanket, the one that’s amazingly soft from use, if he’s lucky. He might (might) even play for him, if Wei Ying pouts enough.

He smashes the open doors button on the elevator, tries to find a dry bit of t-shirt to wipe his phone screen on. He’s dripping onto the smooth wooden floor, god, he’s gonna have to ask Lan Zhan for at least a spare pair of pants, he’s an idiot.

(He congratulates his self of one hour ago for making the decision to walk; if nothing else goes well today, at least Lan Zhan will lend him some of his own clothes, and any day that ends like that is a successful one in Wei Ying’s books.)

There’s a guy waiting to get in when Wei Ying reaches the top floor, which, okay, weird, he’s pretty sure Lan Zhan’s only neighbour is some fifty-year old woman who writes advice columns for a teen magazine, but hey, maybe he’s her visiting son or something. Wei Ying steps out of the way with a brief smile and catches sight of the blotchy hickey on the guy’s neck peeking out over his rumpled shirt. Wow, okay, maybe not her son. He tries not to think about the age difference implications, but the guy is halfway-decent looking, so he can’t blame her.

He drips outside Lan Zhan’s door and raises his fist to knock. Lan Zhan opens it before he has a chance.

In this moment, he decides after the fact, Wei Ying’s brain experiences a blue screen of death.

While his processing functions are still rebooting, Wei Ying takes note of several very important facts:

  1. Lan Zhan is shirtless.
  2. Lan Zhan’s hair is loose around his shoulders and looking decidedly messy.
  3. Lan Zhan’s pecs are beautiful.
  4. Lan Zhan’s abs are beautiful.
  5. Lan Zhan’s perfectly-sculpted V is beautiful.
  6. Lan Zhan has a watercolour tattoo of little purple flowers curving around his waist and dipping into that perfect V.
  7. Lan Zhan is wearing low-slung soft grey sweatpants that leave very little to the imagination.

The reboot completes, and Wei Ying’s brain smashes this information together into two mind-shattering thoughts. Number one, he knew very well already, and is now further seared by defined muscles and a mouth-watering tattoo into his every waking moment: Lan Zhan is the hottest fucking person on the planet.

Number two: that guy wasn’t visiting Lan Zhan’s neighbour, he was visiting Lan Zhan, which means:

Lan Zhan fucks.

Lan Zhan fucks.

Lan Zhan fucks.

Wei Ying realises that he has been staring for some time, and oh, yes, Lan Zhan is speaking to him. He drags his eyes back up to his face. He’s never seen him with hair this messy before. Oh god.

“Wei Ying, are you okay?”

“Huh—wha—yeah, hi, Lan Zhan.” He licks his lips, swallows. Behave, Wei Ying. Behave like a normal fucking human. “Yes, hello. Good evening. I am fine.” Lan Zhan gives him a strange look. Mission already failed, wow.

“Would you like to come in?”

“Er, yep, yep, would like to.”

Lan Zhan steps to the side, and Wei Ying remains frozen in place. “Wei Ying? Are you coming in?”

“Hah. Yes.” He does, but stops on the mat, once he realises he’s still dripping. “Um.”

Lan Zhan looks him up and down, and his lips do a funny little quirk. “There are towels in the guest bathroom,” he says. “I will leave you something to wear.”

“‘M sorry,” mumbles Wei Ying, crouching down in an attempt to peel himself out of his shoes; this brings him at eye-level with Lan Zhan’s crotch, and he tries very hard not to think about that. Not to think about the fact that Lan Zhan almost definitely isn’t wearing underwear and that the line of his dick in his sweatpants is very obvious and very sizeable. Thankfully Lan Zhan steps away before Wei Ying can do something wonderfully stupid like lean forward and put his mouth on it.

He gets his shoes off and follows Lan Zhan in sticky wet feet to the guest bathroom. (His back, holy shit.) He does not look in through Lan Zhan’s bedroom door as they pass and does not see the sheets hanging halfway off the bed, in case he had any doubts about what Lan Zhan and the guy were doing, and he certainly does not get turned on by the idea.

Lan Zhan fucks. Holy shit.

Lan Zhan kindly turns on the bathroom light for him and points out where the towels and various luxury shower products are, even though Wei Ying did also shower in this very same bathroom last time he showed up at Lan Zhan’s door totally drenched. (His and Huaisang’s prank wars do have a tendency to get out of hand, but the bucket of ice water over the top of the bathroom stall had just been lazy.)

“I will put some clothes outside the door,” says Lan Zhan, and leaves. Wei Ying stares at the fluffy white bathrobe hanging on the back of the door like it will unhook itself, give him a good shake, and tell him to pull himself together. It does not.

He vaguely registers pulling off his hoodie and t-shirt in a wet splat and peeling off his jeans and boxers. Steps under the warm flow of water and continues to stare unseeing at the glass of the door as it steams up. Absentmindedly grabs a fuzzy blue washcloth and squirts some high end shower gel onto it. Mentally, he is still staring at Lan Zhan’s flawless body and mussed up hair and floral tattoo and coming to terms with the fact that Lan Zhan fucks.

So like, he has known Lan Zhan for years. Literally years. They met as freshmen in high school. They groaned over AP chemistry homework together. (Wei Ying did all of the groaning). They graduated together and went out to a nice restaurant to celebrate and Lan Zhan paid and it was the most spoilt Wei Ying has ever felt. They applied for college together and went out for dinner again when Wei Ying got into NYU and Lan Zhan got into Manhattan School of Music. They kept each other going through sleepless nights of dissertation writing and Wei Ying losing his mind over his engineering final project. They went out for an incredibly fancy dinner when they both got honors with distinction, and Wei Ying cried the whole way through Lan Zhan’s first solo concert. They meet up for coffee every Tuesday and Friday. Wei Ying has a video of every performance Lan Zhan’s done saved into a folder on his phone. Lan Zhan sends him pictures of Tumbles and Humphrey and Bubbles and Wei Ying sends him memes.

And all this time, Lan Zhan has not made one (one!) mention of hook ups, or boyfriends, or dates. Oh, Wei Ying knew he was gay, has known since they watched Pride and Prejudice 2005 (dir. Joe Wright) together at the tender age of fifteen and he had teased Lan Zhan about having a crush on Keira Knightley and Lan Zhan’s ears had gone pink and he had muttered something under his breath and Wei Ying had annoyed him until he had finally spoken up and said Mr Darcy was more his type.

Wei Ying had thought that Lan Zhan would make an excellent Mr Darcy. He was more of an Elizabeth, himself.

But throughout high school and college Lan Zhan has never ever said anything about being involved. He’s listened at length to Wei Ying complain about how Rachel Newell had kissed him at prom and then had gone home in Greg Sullivan’s arms, has heard in too-great detail about Wei Ying’s tempestuous relationship with his first boyfriend in freshman year of college, has comforted him with home baking and more of Pride and Prejudice 2005 (dir. Joe Wright) after every messy break up and every failed attempt at a new start. In Wei Ying’s memory, he’s always been single, and perfect, and quite simply above the reach of mortal men.

How long has Lan Zhan been fucking? Why didn’t he tell Wei Ying? Why not even an off-hand comment? Has he dated without giving him any juicy deets? Does he just do one-night stands? Was that guy his boyfriend? Does he have a boyfriend that Wei Ying doesn’t know about?

The thought turns something in his chest, makes him feel a little bit sick, so he tries not to think about it and reverts to the glorious image of Lan Zhan’s naked chest. And also realises he has been standing under the shower with the washcloth hanging limp in his hand for what feels like twenty whole minutes. Whoops.

He finishes off (he does not touch himself, even though he’s been at half mast since Lan Zhan answered the door, because this is Lan Zhan’s shower, god, and what if he has a boyfriend—) and wraps himself in a towel to crack the door open. There is a little pile of clothes folded neatly outside. He grabs it and fights down the blush when he sees that his incredibly hot best friend has given him a pair of boxers as well. It’s just underwear. It’s normal.

They’re the same soft dark grey lounge pants and faded Batman t-shirt that Lan Zhan had lent him last time. The thought that Lan Zhan has a set of clothes that are specially Wei Ying’s makes him feel a tiny bit better about the fact that Lan Zhan might have a secret boyfriend.

(And why should he feel upset about that? Lan Zhan is an amazing person and deserves to be loved. He deserves a boyfriend. Someone who can be just as kind and caring and gentle and smart and talented and funny as him. Wei Ying should be happy for him. He wants to be happy for him. He’s not sure why he can’t.)

Lan Zhan is scrolling through an article on his tablet at the glossy granite counter separating the kitchen from the open living room. He looks up when Wei Ying enters. He’s showered too, still-damp hair trailing down the back of his pristine white sleep shirt. Wei Ying bemoans the loss of those glorious planes of skin.

“Better?” asks Lan Zhan, flipping his tablet shut.

“God, so much,” groans Wei Ying, and flings himself onto the couch. “Please don’t let me be an idiot and try to walk from the townhouse to here again.”

“You could have called an Uber,” Lan Zhan comments.

“My rating sucks.” Wei Ying rolls onto his side so that he can see him better. “Courtesy of Jiang Cheng and Huaisang. And just my general disaster-ness, I guess.”

“Wei Ying is not a disaster,” says Lan Zhan, which is kind, but not true. “Have you eaten?”

He thinks back over the day. His pastrami sandwich will cost him a valuable Sunday afternoon helping Huaisang with his lengthily ongoing pigeon photography project, which will mostly involve chasing pigeons around in various public parks until they fly at just the right angles for Huaisang’s camera. He’d managed about three canapes at the party before Aunt Yu had thrown him out.

“Nngh,” he says as a response.

Lan Zhan’s chair scrapes and he appears a minute later with a steaming bowl of tofu stir fry and egg noodles. He sets it down on the coffee table beside Wei Ying with a bottle of hot sauce.


“What the fuck, Lan Zhan, you did not just make this while I was in the shower.”

“Mn. Reheated. Sorry there is no meat.”

Wei Ying will eat all the tofu in the world if it means Lan Zhan will ply him with food and kindness. “Mmf,” he manages through a mouthful. “‘S really good, Lan Zhan, thank you so much.”

“No need for thanks,” Lan Zhan says. He goes back to the kitchen and Wei Ying watches him pour two perfect cups of tea. He arranges them neatly on a small tray and brings them back with him. “Ginger and lemongrass. No caffeine before bed.”

“You’re a literal saint, Lan Zhan.” Wei Ying has already almost finished the noodles. He shovels the last few mouthfuls in and sets his chopsticks down over the bowl with a satisfying snick. “God, I don’t know where I’d be without you.”

“At home with your own reheated leftovers?” suggests Lan Zhan.

The sweet sarcasm stabs him straight in the heart. “Haha, very funny. Your leftovers are so much better than mine. I have like three soggy dumplings and two week-old pizza slices in my fridge. Your food is fresh and healthy. I get health benefits from being your friend, Lan Zhan.”

“Mn.” Lan Zhan watches him, then pulls The Blanket off an armchair and drapes it around Wei Ying’s shoulders. Wei Ying melts a little inside. Lan Zhan sits next to him on the couch and hands him his cup of tea. It’s perfect. He is perfect. “Tumbles is asleep, I’m sorry.” He turns and gives Wei Ying a steady, knowing look. “What happened?”

What happened? You had someone here having sex with you, Lan Zhan, literally two minutes before I arrived, and then you opened the door wearing only a hastily-thrown on pair of sweatpants and then you acted as if nothing was amiss and gave me a shower and food and tea—

“Your text. You had a bad day. Do you want to elaborate? It is fine if not.”

Oh. Oh. He had completely forgotten about his reason for visiting Lan Zhan in the first place.

“Oh yeah, that. Hah. It’s fine, really, nothing to worry about.” He sips his tea and glances at Lan Zhan over the top of the cup. Lan Zhan is looking at him like he just told him his real name was Tiffany and he’s saving himself for marriage. It is extremely effective. “Heh. Just a lot of stuff happened one on top of the other. Was getting to me.”

“Tell me.”

So he does, and Lan Zhan listens, because Lan Zhan is perfect like that. The wallet still lying at home on his kitchen counter and the puddle and the cancelled date and the party, god, the party, and then walking in the rain just because he needed to feel something physical and psychological to distract him from the overwhelming fragility of self. “It’s like the universe has a personal vendetta for me, Lan Zhan. To think I suffered this much just because I managed to drag myself out of bed ten minutes earlier than normal. Ugh. I’m never gonna be on time again.”

“Punctuality is important,” says Lan Zhan, who has pulled his knees up onto the couch to face him and always arrives everywhere exactly two minutes before time.

“Punctuality is for functioning adults, Lan Zhan, and that would describe Jin Ling better than me.”

“Perhaps you should try working those extra ten minutes into your morning routine.”

“Perhaps you should not give me advice that you know I won’t follow.”

“Perhaps you should learn some self-discipline.”

“Perhaps you should teach me.”

Wei Ying freezes. The words are out before he has time to stop them. Lan Zhan stares at him, ears turning a delicate crimson. Fuck, where had that come from? (Maybe from the fact that Lan Zhan fucks, holy shit.)

The tension drags, thick enough to smear over toast. A bunny shuffles in the cage across the room. Wei Ying is acutely aware of the press of his shins against Lan Zhan’s knees.

Lan Zhan clears his throat, sits back, and the tension is broken. Wei Ying tries to laugh it off. “Hah, Lan Zhan, you should have seen your face. It was just fli—joking. Your ears went red, oh my god.”

Lan Zhan stands up and clears the empty cups and noodles bowls. Wei Ying thinks he mutters something under his breath, but he doesn’t catch it.

He thinks the evening might be coming to an end. He checks his phone—10:36, yikes, Lan Zhan must be exhausted. He reluctantly shucks off the blanket and follows him into the kitchen.

“I should really be getting home,” he says, and receives the perfect response: Lan Zhan rounds on him with a withering look and scoffs, just very slightly. “It’s fine,” continues Wei Ying. “I’ll walk.”

“Stop being obtuse,” says Lan Zhan. He shuts the dishwasher and rinses his hands. “You know the guest bed is made up for you.”

“Lan Zhaaaaann, you can’t,” protests Wei Ying, but he’s grinning. Lan Zhan’s food, Lan Zhan’s clothes and Lan Zhan’s bed? (Kind of?) The perfect evening.

“Enough, Wei Ying. Bedtime.”

Wei Ying takes great delight in Lan Zhan ushering him out of the kitchen and down the corridor. “Can’t believe you always have a bed made up for me, Lan Zhan,” he says, stopping in the doorway and turning to face him. “We’re practically married.”

“Mn,” says Lan Zhan. His eyes flicker down briefly, and Wei Ying replays what he just said, and thinks, that is not the kind of thing you say to someone who maybe probably definitely has a secret boyfriend.

Wei Ying folds his arms over his chest. “Um, Lan Zhan.” Fuck. He’s really going to do this, he’s really gonna straight up ask, like this? He thinks of the nonchalance with which Lan Zhan had let him in, freshly-sexed and half-naked. Yes. Yes he is.

“Lan Zhan. Earlier, when I arrived, I um—you were—” He is certain his face is cherry-red, and is thankful for the dim lighting of the corridor. “You were with someone, yeah?”

Lan Zhan doesn’t even react. “Mn.”

Wei Ying hurries on, because if he doesn’t get this out now, he’s not sure he ever will. “Was he—um—was that your boyfriend?”

Lan Zhan stares at him. And stares. And stares. Wei Ying stares back. He’s dreading the answer.

Lan Zhan blinks and pulls his phone out of the pocket of his pyjama pants. “No,” he says, and Wei Ying almost collapses to the ground with relief. (Should he be relieved that Lan Zhan doesn’t have a boyfriend? Surely it would be good for Lan Zhan to have a boyfriend? Why does he feel like he might be floating on a sugar high?)

“No,” continues Lan Zhan. He’s flicking through his phone. “That was… hm. Alfredo. From Grindr.”

Wei Ying stares at the angle of his phone screen. Blue and yellow and grey. Holy shit, not only does Lan Zhan fuck, Lan Zhan is on Grindr.

“Did you—did you just have to look up his name?” he squeaks out.

Lan Zhan levels him with an even gaze. Totally unashamed that he has already forgotten the name of the guy he just slept with. “Yes,” he says simply. “Good night, Wei Ying.”

Wei Ying has to grip the door frame to stay upright. He’s still staring out into the corridor when the lights switch off. The unseeing gaze that seems to curse him when his brain has to process Lan Zhan fucking has returned.

He drifts to the bathroom and uses the same red toothbrush he did last time, drifts into bed and lifts his phone up over his face. He has three missed calls from Jiang Cheng. He dismisses them all and taps open Grindr.

Is this wise? This is probably not wise, right?

The homescreen greets him with the expected array of perfectly sculpted naked torsos and bedroom-eyes selfies. He barely uses it; the layout has updated since he last did. He taps on the red-dotted messages icon, but then immediately goes back to the homescreen. That’s not what he’s here for.

He scrolls unsuccessfully through the Who’s Nearby section. Maybe Lan Zhan keeps his distance on private. He’s almost certainly offline. (Maybe he’s one of these perfect torsos with an emoji or number as a display name—but no, his perfect torso is seared onto the inside of Wei Ying’s eyelids, and it’s not one of these.) He opens up filters. In for a penny, in for a pound.

He taps done and returns to the homescreen.

Oh. Oh.

Third row, second column. It’s a tasteful photo, softly lit: Lan Zhan’s chin and collarbone, a white sleeveless tee that perfectly shows off his shoulder and upper bicep. Wei Ying realises with a flush that he’s smirking, although it’s one of Lan Zhan’s expressions so tiny that he prides himself on thinking that others browsing might not notice it. His username is hanguang-jun. The nickname that he got on that camping trip in the Catskills during freshman year of college. Wei Ying can’t remember if it was him or Huaisang that gave it to him, only Lan Zhan’s slight amused frown in the glow of the only charged flashlight they had left.

He taps on it without taking the time to stop himself.


hanguang-jun 23

○ Online 4 hours ago



Wei Ying has to restrain a splutter of laughter. Don’t. It’s so perfectly Lan Zhan—simple, to the point, with an edge of inherent sexiness—

He scrolls through the rest of Lan Zhan’s profile. Height. Weight. Build. Ethnicity.

Position: Top.

Wei Ying feels his face flush. He scrolls back up to Lan Zhan’s profile picture. The curve of his jaw is just asking him to drag his teeth over it. His collarbone is demanding to be licked. His shoulder—god, Wei Ying wants to scrape his fingers down it until the marks last till morning.

Holy shit, I want Lan Zhan to fuck me.

This is not necessarily news to him; Wei Ying has known that Lan Zhan is hotness incarnate since he sprang out of puberty six feet tall. He’s wanted for a long time. But it’s always been in the undercurrent, just simmering under his skin and never coming to the surface: Lan Zhan has been untouchably perfect since they first met. But now that he knows that Lan Zhan’s abs are like that—that he has a tattoo curling over his hip—that he’s on Grindr—that Lan Zhan fucks

Wei Ying’s hand is down his pants before he can stop it. He bites back a groan, cradles his fingers around his length, pulling his dick out over his waistband; he’s been hard since Lan Zhan left him in the doorway with a simple yes. He strokes himself four times before he realises what he’s doing—is he actually going to do this? Is he actually going to jerk himself off to his best friend’s Grindr profile while lying in said best friend’s guest bed?

He actually is.

Shameless. He hears it in Lan Zhan’s voice. The thought makes him whimper and tighten his fist.

He fucks up into his sweaty palm, curling his fingers around the tip, spreading precome down his length. It’s still too hot, too dry, but he’s not about to go asking Lan Zhan for lube. (The thought makes his hips buck.) He licks his palm; it’ll have to do.

He stares at Lan Zhan’s little smirk, just visible in the corner of the photo. Imagines Lan Zhan giving it to him as he pushes him to his knees, cards his fingers into Wei Ying’s hair, pulls at the roots. Tips his head back to bare his throat, presses a finger at the seam of Wei Ying’s lips. Wei Ying would accept it eagerly, suck it in and get it wet, and Lan Zhan would stick in another one for him to lave over until saliva was dripping down his chin, then he would force his mouth open further, smirking. Fuck, what if he were wearing those low-slung grey sweatpants again, his cock a perfect hard line behind the soft fabric—

Wei Ying has to bite down on his lip, hard, to avoid keening at the image. He wants that cock in his mouth. He wants it in his hole. He wants Lan Zhan over him, caging him in, his broad shoulders and perfect arms, his tattoo, god, he wants Lan Zhan to hold him down and stuff him full—

He spits on his palm again, and his hand flies over his cock, sticky and hot with sweat and saliva and precome, catching on the head and sending jolts of need up his spine. Any of the restraint he had been feeling in the shower earlier is gone. He holds his phone over his head, grip slipping in his fingers, stares at that photo, the implications of it—suddenly realises that he wants nothing more than to know what Lan Zhan looks like when he comes, on his knees and fucking into a faceless body, hair plastered with sweat to his neck and chest—

Wei Ying drops his phone onto his face. He gasps, shuddering, pulling himself through the orgasm with a moan that is definitely not quiet enough to be anything but loud. Lan Zhan is asleep in the room next door. The knowledge makes him feel dirty, makes him come harder. It drags, an extended wave of pleasure coursing through him like an adrenaline rush; it takes him some time to come back to himself. His phone slides down into the crook of his neck as he breathes through the aftershocks. He feels wrung-out, boneless. He hasn’t come this hard with just his hand on himself in a long while. Hell, he hasn’t come this hard in months, period.

He does his best to ignore the feeling of shame that descends once he starts to regain his senses. It’s totally normal to think your best friend is hot, okay. Objectively, Lan Zhan would be the object of anyone’s fantasy. Objectively, anyone would want Lan Zhan to fuck them. Objectively, Wei Ying would very much like Lan Zhan to fuck him.

(Subjectively as well.)

He managed to catch most of the mess in his hand, but there’s definitely some come splattered over the Batman logo, shit. He rolls off the bed and stumbles into the bathroom. He cleans himself off and shucks the faded t-shirt into the laundry hamper. He does not make eye contact with himself in the mirror.

Wei Ying is feeling mostly relaxed once he settles back under the covers; yeah, he just did that and he feels a little bit gross about it, but also he just had a really good orgasm, okay? He’s allowed to feel all nice and loose and satisfied. He fumbles for his phone. It’s still open to Lan Zhan’s profile. God, he’s hot.

Wei Ying spends so long staring at Lan Zhan’s shoulder again that he only notices that the little flames icon has lit up once it’s far, far too late.

His heart does some kind of funny jolt—no, no that can’t be right, he did not just send Lan Zhan a tap, fuck fuck fuck—

He taps the icon frantically. Nothing changes. The little flames stay determinedly orange. He flicks back to his homescreen, opens google, panic types: Grindr undo tap. There’s a reddit discussion and someone suggesting it as a feature to the official Grindr help page. No sign of how to ctrl-z dropping your phone on your face and potentially destroying your best relationship.

Wei Ying swaps back to the app, goes to his own profile. It’s out of date; the last time he used it was probably last year. He never met up with anyone. His heart won’t let him do one-night stands.

He goes to the edit screen, hovers his thumb over his username (wwxxx), and thinks—he can’t just be a blank profile sending Lan Zhan a tap. One, that’s super annoying, and two, Lan Zhan deserves better. wwxxx is pretty cryptic. His pic is of his face, grinning. He scrolls through his gallery until he finds the shot Huaisang had taken of his ass in his “eat me for breakfast” booty shorts, swaps it immediately. There. Now he could just be some random horny bottom annoyingly tapping someone and not messaging them.

(He is just a horny bottom tapping someone and not following it up with a message, but he’s not about to start messaging Lan Zhan on Grindr. Yikes.)

In order to get to sleep, he tells himself that Lan Zhan definitely gets so many taps that he just deletes them all immediately, and there’s no way he will see or investigate Wei Ying’s. He’s fine. Everything’s going to be fine. This is just another normal night crashing at Lan Zhan’s, his good friend Lan Zhan who got laid this evening and has a Grindr profile which Wei Ying just got off to and accidentally sent a tap to and who fucks and everything. is. FINE.