Two days before The Untamed was set to broadcast, a scandal broke out in the entertainment world.
#cql leads in an affair
#xiao zhan and wang yibo an unmated couple
#wangxian in real life
One day before The Untamed was set to broadcast, Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo released identical statements on their Weibos—photos of the two of them smiling at the camera, rings on their fingers and identical mate bites casually peeking through the loose T-shirt collars they were wearing as though accidental.
“Love you, my Lan Zhan,” Xiao Zhan’s Weibo said.
“💍❤️,” Wang Yibo’s Weibo said.
“Satisfied, Chen-jie?” Xiao Zhan said with a sigh, looking back at his manager who was glaring at him from behind his shoulder. He began to rub out the makeup on his neck.
“And Yibo?” Chen-jie said.
Wang Yibo, looking equally harassed, showed her his phone as well and the post that had already gained a hundred likes in the span of seconds.
Wang Yibo’s manager sighed and folded his arms. “Well, that’s the best we can do now and hope the CCPPD doesn’t blacklist the two of you and pull The Untamed off air,” Chen-ge said. “Really, what were you two thinking?”
“It was just dinner,” Xiao Zhan said as he turned to help Wang Yibo who was struggling to rub off the fake bond mark on his neck. “Why can’t two normal friends have dinner together?” he complained as he wiped the makeup remover tissue over his neck a few times. “Done,” he said to Wang Yibo before turning back to their managers. “Why does it have to be such a big deal?”
Because that was exactly what it was—Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo had met a year ago on set The Untamed, became close friends, and had gone out for an innocent dinner a day before their drama was scheduled to air. Wang Yibo was usually based in Changsha so they rarely got to meet up, and since he had come a couple of days early to Beijing in preparation of promotions, Xiao Zhan hadn’t thought twice when Wang Yibo invited him out to eat.
“It might not have been if you hadn’t been caught going into your apartment,” Chen-ge said. “What were you thinking?” He glared at Wang Yibo who was giving him that notorious cold look that had gotten him the role of Lan Wangji. “You’re an alpha!”
“Is it my fault his security sucks and paparazzi were hiding in the bushes? What was I supposed to do? Let Zhan-ge get harassed alone?” Wang Yibo said.
That night, after a perfectly nice dinner together, they’d gotten a shared DiDi, planning to drop Xiao Zhan off at his apartment first before the driver took Wang Yibo to his own hotel. But the moment Xiao Zhan stepped out of the car, a paparazzi had jumped out at them from the bushes, camera flashing, so Wang Yibo had come out too, pushing Xiao Zhan into the building and following after him to keep the paparazzi out.
“If you want to blame anyone, blame the paparazzi,” Wang Yibo said, unrepentant. “Or pay for a better apartment with security.”
“This child—” Chen-ge said. “Do you want me to die of stress? Is this what you want? Look at all the gray hair I have thanks to you!”
“That’s cause you’re old—”
Xiao Zhan elbowed Wang Yibo before Chen-ge really did have a stroke.
“What are you nudging him for?” Chen-jie demanded. “He’s only 21—you’re almost 30—”
“I’m 27,” Xiao Zhan protested.
“He’s still young and stupid! What were you thinking? An unmated alpha and omega, co-stars of a drama that’s set to air in one day, and you thought it wasn’t a big deal?” Chen-jie scolded him.
“We live in the 21st century,” Wang Yibo said, rolling his eyes. “There’s plenty of unmated alphas and omegas having affairs.”
“Not if they’re in the Chinese entertainment circle and don’t want to be blacklisted, they’re not,” Chen-ge said. “You two—I don’t know which of you is more stupid!”
“Neither of you is even famous yet,” Chen-jie continued. “Does it feel good for people to say you’re pushing your CP for popularity? Zhanzhan, you’re nearly 30—”
“Can you stop saying that? I’m not that old,” Xiao Zhan said.
“Does it feel good for people to say you’re so desperate to trend on Weibo that you’ll use any means?” Chen-jie ignored him to continue.
“People will say whatever they want anyway,” Wang Yibo said.
“Well you don’t have to give them the ammunition!” Chen-ge massaged his forehead.
“Do you know how much trouble you’ve caused the company? Both companies?” Chen-jie demanded. “New apartment, new press releases, the rings—those are on loan by the way—you’re giving them back as soon as the promotional period is done,” she said, pointing to the two Gucci rings they had been given.
“Who wants this ring anyway,” Xiao Zhan said, twisting it on his finger. “It’s ugly.”
“You’re just lucky you modeled for Gucci last time,” Chen-jie said. “Do you know how hard it was to get a pair of rings on such short notice?”
“We couldn’t have asked BVLGARI? Theirs aren’t that good looking but better than this,” Xiao Zhan said, holding up his hand and looking at the gold ring emblazoned with Gucci’s gaudy GG logo, which was not remotely close to any type of wedding ring he’d ever imagined himself wearing.
“Wanna switch?” Wang Yibo said, holding up his own hand where he was sporting an even uglier silver Gucci ring with a panther head on it. When they’d been given the rings moments earlier, Xiao Zhan had snatched the less hideous of the two before Wang Yibo could react.
“Those rings are worth more than the two of you!” Chen-jie shouted.
“Oh come on, these can’t be that expensive. How much are they? Like ¥2000? ¥1800?” Wang Yibo said. “Doesn’t this give me a bad rep if I give my omega a cheap, ugly ring? I’ve done stuff for Swarovski before. You could have asked them.”
“You mating someone out of the blue gives you a bad rep!” Chen-ge snapped.
Xiao Zhan reached over to pat Wang Yibo on the arm. “Don’t worry, we already sent out the Weibo posts. A secret relationship isn’t the same thing as a sudden mating.”
Wang Yibo met Xiao Zhan’s eyes and cracked a grin.
“What are you two looking so happy about?” Chen-jie demanded.
Xiao Zhan sighed. “Well, it’s already like this,” he said. “Is being upset about it going to do anything?” Besides, if he was going to be pretend-mated to an alpha, Wang Yibo was by far not the worst pick—they got along well, Wang Yibo was fun to be around, and having spent months together last year, Xiao Zhan already knew all his worst habits and could stand them.
“Yeah, are you two done yelling at us?” Wang Yibo said. “What do we do next?”
“I’m not going to be done yelling at you for a hundred years, you little punk,” Chen-ge said. “I regret the day Yuehua signed you.”
Chen-jie sighed. “We’re taking you to your new apartment now that everyone knows where Zhanzhan lives. Yibo will have to stay in Beijing for the time period to act like a mated couple.”
“What about Day Day Up?” Wang Yibo said.
“You’ll fly out for recording,” Chen-ge said.
“But all my stuff is in Changsha,” Wang Yibo said. “Can I at least have a few days to move? What about my motorcycle?”
“No,” Chen-ge said heartlessly. “You’re both going to stay in that apartment and wear what we tell you and say what we tell you—this isn’t a vacation, this is damage control! Now get up, we’re going to the new apartment.”
Xiao Zhan exchanged a glance with Wang Yibo as the two of them, like scolded children, were herded out of the Wajijiwa conference room and into a tinted van, Chen-jie and Chen-ge sitting on either side of them like they were guards escorting them to jail.
A day ago when this all first happened, it hadn’t felt this bad. Wang Yibo had just walked him up to his apartment and the two of them had hung out as they waited out the paparazzi. It had been like old times—Wang Yibo helping Xiao Zhan rehearse the dance they were scheduled to do for a variety show in a few weeks. Xiao Zhan certainly hadn’t expected to open up Weibo a few hours later to see his name suddenly trending with Wang Yibo’s and for the tags to be filled with photos of the two of them getting out of the DiDi and entering the apartment building together—Xiao Zhan looking wide-eyed and confused, and Wang Yibo just looking pissed off.
Now, they’d spent all day at the Wajijiwa offices, sorting out this mess and getting scolded by every single person who came across them from assistants to managers. Even one old janitor auntie had shaken her head at them as she emptied out the wastebasket, muttering about young alphas and omegas thinking they could get away with anything these days.
Xiao Zhan wanted to talk to Wang Yibo about how ridiculous this all was, to laugh about how absurd a simple misunderstanding was getting blown into such a big deal, but didn’t quite dare to with Chen-jie and Chen-ge glaring at them if they so much as fidgeted. Instead, he sat, hands in his lap, counting the stoplights, until they arrived at an underground parking garage.
They were frog-marched to the receptionist who was instructed to maintain absolute secrecy before they were herded to the elevator and up to the 18th floor where Chen-jie produced a set of keys and opened one of the apartment doors.
“Welcome to your newlyweds apartment,” Chen-jie said dryly.
Xiao Zhan’s eyes bulged out. “ This is our jail?”
The apartment they walked in was gorgeous.
The first thing they saw were polished sandalwood floors leading into the largest living room space Xiao Zhan had ever seen in an apartment that wasn’t a film set. It had floor to ceiling windows. It had furry carpets so thick that Xiao Zhan’s feet sank into it like he was stepping on a cloud. It had lovely, faux-leather couches with not only couch pillows but a matching, thick couch throw. It had an enormous television and even art books stacked on the coffee table for decoration, and classy artwork hung up on the walls.
“Where are we?” Xiao Zhan said, eyes bulging as he tried to take everything in.
The kitchen looked just as nice. It was one of those modern ones with pans that hooked to the wall in order of size, and not a trace of oil on the new kitchen stove. The refrigerator had french doors and a drawer freezer twice the size of the one at Xiao Zhan’s current apartment.
Wang Yibo looked just as excited. “There’s a PS4 and an Xbox?” he said, having opened every cabinet of the television stand. “Do they have games too?”
“What is this place?” Xiao Zhan said wonderingly as he poked his head into the first bedroom and saw not only a huge, pink, queen-sized bed but also a book nook—one of those benches built right into the window with a stack of novels on the white shelf next to it. It looked like something out of a showroom catalogue, and Xiao Zhan loved it. “Where did you guys find such a nice apartment? I’ve never seen a place this nice outside of film sets.”
“That’s because it is a film set,” Chen-jie said dryly.
“It’s really a film set?” Xiao Zhan said, turning to her.
“Where else were we going to find you an apartment on such short notice?” she said. “They just wrapped filming a youth drama in this place last week so we extended the lease for a few months for you two.”
“Does everything still work then?” Xiao Zhan asked as he poked his head into the master bedroom.
“Water and electricity are on. We didn’t hear about any issues, but if you two find any...deal with it,” she said heartlessly.
Xiao Zhan, though, had gotten completely distracted by the bathroom in the master bedroom. It was huge and had an actual bathtub with water jets. He turned on the faucet and as soon as the water began running, claimed it.
“This bathroom is mine,” he said. “Yibo, I want this room, okay?” he shouted.
“I want it too,” Wang Yibo said, walking in, eyes sparkling at the huge television directly across from the king sized bed. “I don’t like the other room. It’s pink.”
“That’s just the bedding. We can change it,” Xiao Zhan said, pulling him over to the bathroom by the arm. “Look at this bath. You’ll never use it. Give it to me. Please, Bo-ge!”
“But this room has a television,” Wang Yibo said.
“The living room already has a huge TV,” Xiao Zhan said, tugging on his arm and pouting in the way he knew from experience was hard for Wang Yibo to resist. “Yibo-ge…”
He could see the way Wang Yibo was beginning to crumble from the half-helpless smile that was creeping onto his face. “What’ll you give me?” he said.
“A week’s worth of dinner?” Xiao Zhan offered, seeing weakness. “I’m a really good cook. Even my mom says so and mom standards are high. How often do you get home cooking?”
“No way. We’re staying here until promotions are done. I want this room too,” Wang Yibo said.
Xiao Zhan turned to his manager. “Chen-jie,” he whined.
“Figure it out yourselves,” she said.
Having no help from her, Xiao Zhan turned to grab Wang Yibo who was reaching for the television remote. “I’ll cook for you for as long as we stay here,” Xiao han said quickly. “Final offer.”
Successfully distracted, Wang Yibo raised an eyebrow. “Nothing spicy?” he asked.
“A little spicy,” Xiao Zhan bargained. “You can’t expect a Chongqing native to have no spices at all.”
“I like vinegar,” Wang Yibo said. “And garlic.”
“I’ll cook with those if you promise to brush your teeth right after,” Xiao Zhan said. “And no breathing in my face like you did last night after you ordered vinegar chicken.”
“Wow, is my breath too stinky for the famous actor, Xiao Zhan?” Wang Yibo said. “Xiao-laoshi is disgusted by me—ah, stop!” He yelped as Xiao Zhan grabbed the nearest pillow off the bed to hit him.
“You’re so annoying, Wang Yibo!” Xiao Zhan said, grinning as he hit him.
“Who’s annoying? Who’s the one hitting who right now?” Wang Yibo demanded as he snatched the pillow from Xiao Zhan and hit him back.
“If you two are done bargaining, here are the keys,” Chen-ge interrupted loudly.
Xiao Zhan immediately straightened up, looking as innocent as possible as he accepted the fob that Chen-ge handed him. “While you’re in Beijing, you’re staying here. Don’t wander around,” he lectured as he handed Wang Yibo a second fob. “If you’re coming in and out, use the underground parking and make sure no one followed you in. Got it?”
“You have the day to settle in but tomorrow starts promotional activities,” Chen-jie continued. “Zhanzhan, you’re not to go back to your own apartment for now. If you have anything you need, ask an assistant to pick it up.” She narrowed her eyes at them. “Wang Yibo, Xiao Zhan, I expect you both on your best behavior.”
They both nodded obediently.
“No more scandals,” Chen-ge added. “See you tomorrow,” he said, and then both the managers left.
As soon as he heard the door shut, Xiao Zhan exchanged a glance with Wang Yibo and flopped back onto the huge bed.
“This is our apartment!” he said, grinning as he rolled back and forth.
Wang Yibo also flopped back onto the bed. “This is awesome, Zhan-ge,” he said, turning to grin at him. “This place is huge and we get to stay here for free for a few months!”
Xiao Zhan, lying on the bed next to him, felt his stomach do a few flip-flops. He pushed him. “Get off my bed, you’re dirty,” he said.
Wang Yibo’s smile immediately turned indignant. “Who’s dirty?” he demanded. “Who just gave up this room for you?” He reached for one of the pillows and began hitting Xiao Zhan with it again.
“Stop! Stop!” Xiao Zhan shouted as he grabbed another pillow to hit back at Wang Yibo. “These sheets are probably all dirty still—we need to wash them,” he said as he continued hitting Wang Yibo with a pillow.
“Who’s still hitting who?” Wang Yibo said, hitting him back.
Xiao Zhan laughed. “You stop first,” he said. “We need to go do laundry.”
“You stop first,” Wang Yibo retorted.
“What did our managers just yell at us? You’re the alpha, you should get out of my room,” Xiao Zhan said.
“Hah, jokes on you,” Wang Yibo said. “We’re an official couple now. I’m supposed to be with you all the time.” He smacked Xiao Zhan on the butt with the pillow, making him squeal. “Get up! You promised to make me dinner. I want barbecue.”
“Barbecue? Do you know how that’s made, Wang Yibo?” Xiao Zhan said, throwing down his pillow as he chased Wang Yibo out of the bedroom.
“You said you’re a good cook. Did you lie, Xiao-laoshi?” Wang Yibo said, grinning as he pulled out his phone. “I’ll order groceries.”
Just like that, they settled into “mated life,” The Untamed began to air, and their promotional period began.
As expected, even before their drama began to air, Weibo was full of rumors about how Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo were trying to make a CP to promote The Untamed, speculation over whether they really were or weren’t mated, and most hilariously, two bands of solo fans who kept blaming the other idol for dragging down their bias. Xiao Zhan’s fans were mad at Wang Yibo for being a bad alpha, Wang Yibo’s fans blamed Xiao Zhan for being the six year older gege who should have know better.
Still, the scandal was probably their biggest claim to fame up to now—neither had any notable works yet and were considered small fry celebrities. So no one expected it when they went to their first promotional fan meeting and found the place packed.
When the cast had been briefed on it, they were told it was just going to be a handful of questions by some entertainment journalists and they might encounter some dedicated fans but not to expect too big of a reception as their show had only just begun airing.
So Xiao Zhan didn’t expect to walk out on stage to a sea of camera flashes, and automatically shrank a little closer to Wang Yibo who glanced over at him and raised an eyebrow.
“You okay?” Wang Yibo asked, voice low.
Xiao Zhan nodded and took a deep breath. It wasn’t that he’d never been in front of a big audience before—he’d briefly worked as an idol before, after all—but years of evolution didn’t mean natural instincts disappeared and as an omega, he still needed some mental preparation before going out in big crowds.
“Just surprised me,” Xiao Zhan said with a quick smile.
“It’s more people than I expected,” Wang Yibo agreed. “Didn’t they say it was only going to be a few dozen people?”
Xiao Zhan nodded. “It’s not because of us, is it?” he asked.
Wang Yibo frowned. “It shouldn’t be. I’m not popular enough for this type of crowd,” he said and grinned. “Xiao-laoshi’s fans though…”
“You’re so annoying.” Xiao Zhan nudged him. “It might be the original fans of the novel,” he said. “It was a big deal when it came out, right?”
He was wrong. It was absolutely about Wang Yibo and Xiao Zhan.
After introductions and a few words by the director, they opened the floor to questions. Xiao Zhan, as the main character, was fully prepared to answer any type of question about Wei Wuxian—what he thought of the character, how he’d interpreted him, how he’d gotten the part, challenges he’d faced when acting—but the first question directed at him was:
“Xiao-laoshi, can you comment on your relationship with Wang-laoshi?”
Xiao Zhan glanced over at Wang Yibo and then to the side at his manager. He gave a polite smile as he held the microphone. “Um, that’s…”
“Those pictures of the two of you staying in the same apartment. Is it true that you’re in a relationship?” the reporter asked, insistent. “Did you know each other before The Untamed, or did you meet during it? When did you mate?”
Xiao Zhan really didn’t know how to answer then—not sure how much to acknowledge or not. They’d basically gone public on Weibo, but not at a press conference. Should he start lying? But what if he lied and Wang Yibo didn’t like the answers?
He looked over to Wang Yibo for help.
Wang Yibo, instead of frowning or giving him a nod—any type of signal of whether he wanted Xiao Zhan to answer or not—took the microphone from him and bent his head to answer. “The way you’re asking these questions is a bit invasive, don’t you think?” he said. “Shouldn’t you be asking about our characters or the drama?”
Xiao Zhan stared at him, a little shocked at how rude Wang Yibo was being as though not at all afraid of what a reporter could do to his reputation.
Wang Yibo ignored the look. “Anyone have a relevant question?” he asked.
It did, however, shut up any of the reporters who wanted to ask about their relationship, steering the conversation back to the production.
“Are you sure that was a good idea? You shouldn’t have been so rude to that reporter,” Xiao Zhan whispered to Wang Yibo later as they were walking to the backstage. “What if she holds a grudge?”
“And what? They’ll dig up that so-called black material of me from my debut?” Wang Yibo snorted. “It’s fine. They don’t have a right into our personal lives whether or not we’re together.”
“But aren’t we supposed to…”
Wang Yibo turned and smiled at him. “Don’t worry, Zhan-ge, I’ll take care of everything.” Then, as the cameras were still flashing, Wang Yibo reached down and took Xiao Zhan’s hand in his own, threading their fingers together as they exited. Xiao Zhan could feel the warmth of his palm, big and secure, and even though Wang Yibo was six years younger than him, he felt like he didn’t have to worry about anything with this young alpha around.
By the afternoon, there were dozens of screenshots from the press conference, grainy and zoomed in as people tried to analyze whether or not Wang Yibo had really taken Xiao Zhan’s hand as they were leaving the press conference. Thanks to that, Wang Yibo’s blunt answers had also been interpreted as protectiveness over his mate. Though there were some comments complaining about how rude he’d been, by far most of them were in praise of how he must really care about Xiao Zhan.
Wang Yibo was either a lucky idiot or a genius, Xiao Zhan thought as he sat on their couch, scrolling through Weibo.
“Let’s do hotpot to celebrate,” Xiao Zhan said, in a good mood. “Lao Wang, come buy ingredients with me.”
“What? Why?” Wang Yibo said from where he was flopped next to him, playing some game on his phone. “You said you’d do all the cooking.”
“Cooking, yes. Shopping, no,” Xiao Zhan said, scooting closer to him to nudge Wang Yibo’s knee with his knee as he thought up ingredients and began making his shopping list. “Sliced beef, shrimp, meat balls, cuttlefish balls, ong choy, kinoko mushrooms, tofu, Napa cabbage—”
“Cilantro,” Wang Yibo said.
“Cilantro,” Xiao Zhan repeated, typing it in.
“Gong choy,” Wang Yibo added.
Xiao Zhan looked up and grinned. “You totally liked it last time I ordered it for hotpot,” he said. “And after you were so skeptical!”
“Yeah yeah, you were right. I like how it’s crunchy,” Wang Yibo said. “I don’t like Napa cabbage in it though. It always comes out limp.”
“So don’t put it in for that long,” Xiao Zhan said, grinning and showing his list to Wang Yibo. “What else do you want?”
“I want non-spicy hotpot,” Wang Yibo said.
Xiao Zhan rolled his eyes. “Well too bad for you, the only pot I have isn’t a half-and-half and we can’t not have hotpot without spicy broth. Ah, are we allowed to go back to my place yet?”
An assistant had brought Xiao Zhan some clothes and toiletries, but not much else, so if he wanted his hotpot, he’d have to go get it himself.
Wang Yibo shrugged. “We can stop by and see,” he suggested. “If there isn’t anyone, we go in. If there is, sucks for you and no hotpot.”
“We could always get hotpot out,” Xiao Zhan said.
“No way, I gave up that bedroom for home cooking,” Wang Yibo said. “You better hold up your end of the bargain,” he said and before Xiao Zhan could complain, hopped to his feet. “Good thing I brought my motorcycle!”
“We’re taking your motorcycle?” Xiao Zhan said with a long-suffering sigh.
Wang Yibo glared at him. “You have a problem with my motorcycle?” he demanded.
“You break the speed limit every time, of course I have a problem,” Xiao Zhan said. Once, when he’d visited Wang Yibo in Changsha, Wang Yibo had just bought another new motorcycle and dragged Xiao Zhan excitedly to see it, saying he’d drive them to eat this time instead of taking a DiDi. Xiao Zhan had initially been pretty excited too—what guy didn’t think motorcycles were cool, right? ...until he got on Wang Yibo’s backseat and found out this insane adrenaline junkie’s version of “toned down” was going from 200 something km/h to 100 km/h which was still far faster than anyone should go on the busy streets of Changsha. Xiao Zhan swore he saw his life flash before his eyes as Wang Yibo weaved through traffic at breakneck speeds and it was only because they hadn’t eaten yet that he didn’t puke. It had taken Wang Yibo bribing him, promising he wouldn’t go above 50 km/h, and obediently slowing down every time Xiao Zhan tugged on his jacket on the way back for Xiao Zhan to agree to let Wang Yibo drive him back to his hotel after dinner though not without a lot of eye-rolling and sighing.
“Zhan-ge, come on, you know I need to practice. My race is coming up in a few months,” Wang Yibo said. “I drove it all the way here.”
Xiao Zhan sighed. “And that’s another thing—who practices by driving from Changsha to Beijing?” he demanded. “Are you a masochist?”
Since Wang Yibo had to travel between different cities for work, apparently the way he’d been practicing was by driving his motorcycles when there was enough time for travel that way. It meant long hours on the road and it was always a relief to Xiao Zhan when he arrived at his destination without any accidents on the way.
“Gotta practice,” Wang Yibo said with a grin. “Come on. Please, Zhan-ge.”
“Are you even getting any practice if you’re going 30 km/h,” Xiao Zhan said dryly. “Also, I don’t have a helmet. We can’t.”
Wang Yibo sighed. “Zhan-ge, don’t you know me at all?” he said. “I have a whole helmet collection.”
“That you brought from Changsha?” Xiao Zhan asked and narrowed his eyes. “Wang Yibo, just how much did you bring here?”
“Just three helmets,” Wang Yibo said.
Xiao Zhan raised an eyebrow.
“Fine, four,” Wang Yibo said.
“Do you have four heads?” Xiao Zhan said. “Why did you bring four helmets?”
“Well, there’s my two favorite Valentino Rossi ones—I couldn’t choose which one to bring so I just brought both,” Wang Yibo counted off. “And there was the one you gave me for my birthday last year. And then the one—”
“Enough, Lao Wang,” Xiao Zhan said and held out a hand in defeat. “Go get me a helmet.”
“I knew my Zhan-ge wouldn’t keep me from practicing,” Wang Yibo said, beaming, as he ran off to his room to bring back two helmets, and handed one to Xiao Zhan.
As promised, Wang Yibo kept to 30 km/h all the way to Xiao Zhan’s old apartment. When there didn’t seem to be any crazed fans or paparazzi outside, they snuck in and Xiao Zhan brought not only his little gas stove and hotpot but also some more clothes, whatever food was in his refrigerator so they could use it before it went bad, and, when Wang Yibo saw it and made fun of his extra large Spongebob plush, that as well. It completely ruined Wang Yibo’s cool guy image when Xiao Zhan was on his backseat, hugging a Spongebob plush and a bag full of stuff like Wang Yibo was a strange Eleme delivery boy.
They ended up having to make a second trip for the groceries because they had to drop off Xiao Zhan’s things first.
At the supermarket, Xiao Zhan discovered that Wang Yibo basically hadn’t set foot inside one since he went as a child with his mother, and thought that ¥14/kg apples were cheap just because they were labeled on sale.
He also had to stop Wang Yibo from choosing the worst watermelon in the crate and paused to lecture him on how to choose a good one.
“The bellybutton needs to be small. The smaller the better,” Xiao Zhan said.
“What bellybutton—it’s a fruit,” Wang Yibo said.
“It’s the part that connects to the stem,” Xiao Zhan said. “Isn’t that a bellybutton? Otherwise what do you call it?”
“I don’t know but not a bellybutton,” Wang Yibo said. “So you want this one?” he said, sounding bored as Xiao Zhan picked through the pile.
As Xiao Zhan inspected watermelons, he overheard two older middle-aged women whispering and giggling somewhere behind them.
“What a cute young couple,” one was saying to the other. “Goodness, that’s a good young alpha coming along shopping,” she said. “I couldn’t get my alpha to come shopping with me back in the day.”
“Oh, my alpha loves cooking so he usually does the shopping,” the other lady said, laughing. “That’s why he’s so fat now.”
“Better fat than lazy,” the first lady joked as they wandered off.
Xiao Zhan felt his face heat up, warmth blossoming in his chest.
“So you want this one or not?” Wang Yibo said, picking up the watermelon Xiao Zhan had chosen.
“There’s a lot of sugar in watermelon. I don’t want to get fat...” Xiao Zhan hesitated.
Wang Yibo rolled his eyes. “We’re already eating this much and you’re letting watermelon stop you?” he said and put the watermelon in the cart. “It’s summer. Time for watermelon.”
Xiao Zhan smiled as they went to check out.
Basically, they were really good at acting like a couple.
Xiao Zhan supposed that having already acted as one all last summer, it was a given except that they’d long since left their characters. Wang Yibo wasn’t Lan Wangji and he wasn’t Wei Wuxian anymore either—quieter, less reckless, far more thin-faced. Wang Yibo was even less like Lan Wangji—most of the time Xiao Zhan couldn’t get him to stop talking.
But the one thing Wang Yibo and Lan Wangji had in common was that Wang Yibo was actually highly reliable despite his young age.
Xiao Zhan had never breezed through promotional events like this before. If there was an interview question he didn’t want to answer, all he had to do was look at Wang Yibo and the alpha would jump in for him. At venues, Wang Yibo always waited for him so they could go together and Xiao Zhan never had to worry about accidentally getting turned around in the backstage area or sitting down in the wrong place. Xiao Zhan, meanwhile, started to carry lozenges for Wang Yibo who had a cough that flared up anytime he got too tired or stressed.
It was also fun to mess with people. Xiao Zhan could openly lean in to whisper to Wang Yibo even when they were standing with other people, and they’d just get people commenting about how they were throwing dog food at their audience.
Wang Yibo got a sadistic pleasure out of holding Xiao Zhan’s hand or putting a hand behind Xiao Zhan’s waist at events, the tiniest bit possessive which made especially Wangxian fans go nuts about how their Lan Wangji was acting with his real life Wei Wuxian.
The best part was that if Xiao Zhan wanted to leave an event early or it looked like Wang Yibo was getting tired and grouchy (which manifested mostly as Wang Yibo getting both more direct and quieter), he could say stuff like, “It’s time for us to get back. Yibo’s had a long day” and other such excuses that everyone would accept because they were a mated pair.
Before a week was out, they had their own CP name.
“Lao Wang, did you know we have a CP tag?” Xiao Zhan said, curled up on the couch and reaching out to nudge Wang Yibo with his foot where Wang Yibo was sitting on the ground, mashing PS4 buttons.
“What?” Wang Yibo mumbled, eyes glued to the television screen and clearly not listening to a word Xiao Zhan was saying.
“We have our own CP tag—Bo Jun Yi Xiao with your Bo and my Xiao—it’s cute,” Xiao Zhan said and nudged Wang Yibo a little harder.
“Stop, you’re so annoying,” Wang Yibo complained, smacking Xiao Zhan’s foot away.
“Wow, calling your omega annoying?” Xiao Zhan said and nudged him harder, suppressing a grin. “Who’s annoying?”
Wang Yibo apparently died on screen and turned to Xiao Zhan with a glare, grabbing Xiao Zhan’s foot before he could retract it. “Yeah, who’s annoying?” he demanded as Xiao Zhan yelped, laughing as he tried to get away. “Who’s annoying?”
“All right, all right! I was wrong,” Xiao Zhan said, wrinkling his nose at Wang Yibo as he finally let go of his ankle.
Xiao Zhan quickly retracted it to tuck under himself, far out of reach of Wang Yibo.
Wang Yibo turned to him and offered up a controller. “Want to play?” he asked.
“No, you’re just going to beat me and make fun of me,” Xiao Zhan said. “Sadist.”
“Not my fault you suck,” Wang Yibo said, grinning.
“Who sucks? You’re the one who thinks it’s fun to beat someone who’s never played before,” Xiao Zhan said indignantly.
“Now’s your chance to practice then,” Wang Yibo said, grinning wider. “Come on, Zhan-ge, I’ll let you win.”
“I don’t want you to let me win! I want to win fair and square,” Xiao Zhan said and shoved him. “Move over and give me a controller.”
Living together also wasn’t very hard at all. For one, their apartment was huge and nice and had all the conveniences like its own washer and dryer. Xiao Zhan took full advantage of that amazing bathtub and more than once stayed so long that Wang Yibo would pound on the door and ask Xiao Zhan what they were having for dinner because he was hungry.
Wang Yibo left at least once a week for Changsha filming, but the rest of the time, it was easy to hang out in the apartment when they had time off from work.
Xiao Zhan liked to spend time in the living room area with the AC on full blast, Spongebob in his lap as he curled up with a book and put on some music with their amazing sound system. Wang Yibo liked the giant television where he could play as many video games as he wanted, and more than once, they’d rochambeaued for whether Xiao Zhan got to listen to music or Wang Yibo got to play video games with sound.
Wang Yibo was also an easy roommate maybe because they were already so used to each other. On The Untamed, they’d spent nearly all their waking hours together since they had so many scenes together. They’d leave the hotel together and go to makeup and wardrobe in the morning, teasing each other about looking like hanged ghosts when they were having their wigs put on. They’d play together as they hung around set, waiting for things to be set up. After work, Wang Yibo was usually happy enough to accompany Xiao Zhan to the convenience store for snacks or go out jogging together or just crash in one of their rooms claiming to run lines when a lot of times, it was just to play games together.
Xiao Zhan found that they fell right back into old rhythms even a year later now, arguing about how early to get up and go to the apartment gym to work out together.
There was, still, the occasional argument that came from cohabitating the same space with someone else though.
“Wang Yibo, the washer and dryer aren’t just for you! You can’t just put your dirty clothes in there like it’s your personal hamper,” Xiao Zhan said when he opened the washing machine lid to do laundry and found it half full of Wang Yibo’s dirty clothes.
“What’s the problem? You got mad at me last time for leaving it on the floor,” Wang Yibo said. “I cleaned up. It’s in the laundry machine.”
“Because I need to wash my clothes! When are you going to wash yours then?” Xiao Zhan demanded.
“Then just do them together. Why waste water?” Wang Yibo said.
“Wang Yibo, then you’re doing the laundry next time!” Xiao Zhan said.
“Fine,” Wang Yibo said.
Xiao Zhan huffed and threw all his clothes in, still annoyed at him, and went to take an angry nap. When he came back out later that afternoon, though, he found Wang Yibo had not only dried but folded all their clothes as a peace offering.
This new routine turned into a bit of an issue, though. If they didn’t wear roughly the same size and didn’t do laundry together, it might not have been a problem. As things were, they were both celebrities paid to wear name brands sometimes, and one of them was the newest Superdry line of T-shirts. Apparently Superdry had paid a bunch of celebrities to show up in the wild wearing these T-shirts including both Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo. So when Xiao Zhan was hurrying one day and saw the shirt on the couch where there was a bunch of other still-unfolded laundry, he’d grabbed it and put it on without a second thought. It wasn’t until he was halfway to the airport that he realized it wasn’t his—it wasn’t even clean because he could smell Wang Yibo’s scent on it, faint but there. He’d probably worn it once and tossed it onto the couch.
“I told him not to mix clean and dirty laundry,” Xiao Zhan complained to himself as he sent an angry text to Wang Yibo.
But as he texted back and forth with Wang Yibo at the airport, he found himself relaxing. The smell on the T-shirt was kind of nice—comforting like security and home.
It reminded him of that first time last year when he’d been in pre-heat around Wang Yibo and was miserable and didn’t have an appetite as he pushed through acting as the still-cheerful Wei Wuxian. At the time, they were filming the cold springs scene and the water came from a mountain spring, glacially cold even in late spring, and it had sapped all the color out of Xiao Zhan’s cheeks within seconds of getting in. When Xiao Zhan waded back on shore, reaching for Wang Yibo’s extended arm, he was surprised to be handed not just a towel, but wrapped up in a big fluffy down jacket as well.
“You okay?” Wang Yibo had asked, fussing over him. “Go change. You don’t want to catch a cold.”
Xiao Zhan had been frozen and too miserable to argue, going into the trailer to change out of his costume. He’d come out in a new set of dry robes and Wang Yibo’s down jacket but he couldn’t smell any trace of the alpha on his clothes.
“Is this your coat?” Xiao Zhan asked, huddled up next to Wang Yibo as they waited for instructions for the next scene.
“Just bought it,” Wang Yibo said, gesturing to the puffy down jacket he had on as well. “Made my assistant go buy these two even though we’ll only use it while we’re filming these scenes,” he said and grinned at Xiao Zhan. “Why? You like it? You can keep it.”
Xiao Zhan, though, had sulked, knowing he was being fully unreasonable because Wang Yibo wasn’t his mate, but still pissed that Wang Yibo had given him a brand new, unscented jacket anyway. He’d ignored him for the next hour which had made Wang Yibo shout his name at the top of his lungs until a staff member told him to stop ignoring his mate which only made Xiao Zhan grouchier.
“Are you Lan Zhan or not? Who talks as much as you?” Xiao Zhan shouted back at him.
“I’m not Lan Zhan,” Wang Yibo said, looking a little taken aback and hurt which just made Xiao Zhan feel worse.
“Well you’re supposed to be,” Xiao Zhan snapped. It was worse because he could smell Wang Yibo from where he was standing just a meter away. Even with so many other people around, Wang Yibo’s scent stood out as something woodsy and aromatic that just made Xiao Zhan want to curl up against him but he couldn’t.
Xiao Zhan had flubbed the next scene twice, unable to even meet Wang Yibo’s eyes out of guilt, and when the director called for a break, he’d pulled Wang Yibo aside to apologize.
“Sorry, I’m not feeling great,” he said.
“Are you getting sick? I knew it was too cold,” Wang Yibo said, frowning as he reached over to rub Xiao Zhan’s arms. “Do you need to go to the hospital?”
Xiao Zhan shook his head. “No, it’s fine. Just sorry I was grouchy.”
“You should go to the hospital if you’re not feeling well,” Wang Yibo said. “If you get sick…”
“I’m not getting sick! I’m going into heat!” Xiao Zhan burst out and then went completely red.
“Oh…” Wang Yibo said as his face also colored. “Uh, sorry,” he mumbled. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
“You’re so annoying,” Xiao Zhan muttered and stomped back to the trailer.
That night, he went into full heat and when he emerged from his hotel room three days later, feeling ravenous more than anything else, Wang Yibo bought him both Starbucks and treated him out to Japanese food that night as though to make up for something.
All that to say, Xiao Zhan liked the way Wang Yibo smelled but had never properly worn Wang Yibo’s clothes before. Now that they were “officially” a couple, though, there was no reason for him not to take full advantage. When Wang Yibo just texted back that it was an ugly shirt anyway and Xiao Zhan could keep it, Xiao Zhan took it as full permission to go for it. After that, if Xiao Zhan’s wardrobe began a slow migration into Wang Yibo’s preferred skater boy style, and if he preferred clothes that Wang Yibo had worn once instead of completely clean laundry, well, if Wang Yibo didn’t notice, Xiao Zhan wasn’t going to bring it up.
That was, until the airport incident.
Being in the entertainment circle, the more their popularity grew, inevitably, so did people who disliked them for whatever reason. A lot of these people came in the form of solo fans—fans who were the reason idol celebrities often had contracts forcing them to stay single, and were not at all happy when their idols found a mate.
Most of these people simply denied that Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo were really mated and claimed they were just promoting their CP for The Untamed. The solos were convinced that they’d come out soon as not being together at all which was both closer to the the truth than Xiao Zhan wanted to admit, and highly irritating.
So when they had a joint flight once, Xiao Zhan even moving his own flight so he could sit with Wang Yibo, he was doubly irritated to see a group of fans clustered around the VIP passage, waving signs—some saying they loved Xiao Zhan which was fine, but others saying they loved Wang Yibo which Xiao Zhan was decidedly not fine with.
“Why do you want to switch?” Wang Yibo said when Xiao Zhan dragged him into the bathroom and demanded to swap jackets with Wang Yibo.
“Your jacket looks warmer,” Xiao Zhan lied. “I’m cold.”
“You get hot more easily than I do,” Wang Yibo said. “You’re an omega. It’s like your thing.”
Xiao Zhan smacked him. “Are you going to switch or not?” he demanded, having shrugged out of his jacket already.
“Aren’t you being paid to wear that?” Wang Yibo said, pointing to the Gucci jacket that Xiao Zhan was trying to shove at him.
“Who cares? You’re appearing with me. It’s basically the same thing,” Xiao Zhan argued.
“No it isn’t. I’m being paid to wear Chanel right now,” Wang Yibo said.
“So I’ll wear it for you,” Xiao Zhan said.
“But this jacket is so ugly,” Wang Yibo said, wrinkling his nose at Xiao Zhan’s Gucci jacket.
“Are you calling me ugly?” Xiao Zhan demanded.
“No, your jacket is fucking ugly,” Wang Yibo said. “Aren’t you a designer? I dare you to say Gucci isn’t ugly. Why is Gucci even popular?”
“I don’t care,” Xiao Zhan said, and when Wang Yibo continued to look reluctant, glared at him. “Fine, then don’t wear it,” he snapped and turned to leave the bathroom only to be tugged back by the elbow.
“I’ll wear it, I’ll wear it,” Wang Yibo said, looking harassed. “But if we get yelled at, I’m saying it’s your fault.”
When they left the restroom and were photographed by fans, Xiao Zhan even slowed down to wave at some of them this time, happy in the security that he was leaving together with Wang Yibo who smelled like himself. He was doubly satisfied at the Weibo posts after, fans squealing about how they were wearing couple’s clothes.
It was totally worth the angry phone call they got from Chen-ge later.
“I told you so,” Wang Yibo mouthed at Xiao Zhan who ignored him.
“Are you two stupid? Do you want your brands to cancel their deals with you?” Chen-ge shouted at the two of them over speakerphone.
“Don’t yell at Zhan-ge, it’s my fault,” Wang Yibo said anyway. “I wanted him to wear my clothes. There were solo fans.”
“Wang Yibo, are you stupid? Solo fans are still fans! You can’t expect everyone to be a CP fan, can you?” Chen-ge demanded.
“Why not? We’re mated,” Wang Yibo said. “Shouldn’t fans be supportive?”
Xiao Zhan heard Chen-ge sighing over the phone. “Is being this stubborn fun for you?”
“Chen-ge, don’t be so mad at Yibo,” Xiao Zhan said sweetly because this time really was his fault. “It was my idea. I asked him to switch.”
“Don’t cover for that little punk,” Chen-ge said. “Zhanzhan, you be good and don’t listen to whatever Yibo tells you to do.”
Wang Yibo gave an absolutely incredulous look at Xiao Zhan. “He’s blaming me for this!”
Xiao Zhan grinned even as he said, sounding very bullied over the phone. “Okay, thank you, Chen-ge.”
“You’re the worst,” Wang Yibo said.
Xiao Zhan gave him his most innocent smile. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said and yelped as Wang Yibo reached over to smack him.
“Who’s the worst?” Wang Yibo demanded. “Say it again!”
“All right, all right, I was wrong,” Xiao Zhan said, letting Wang Yibo catch him by the wrist. “It’s my bad, Bo-ge. I’ll make it up to you.”
“How?” Wang Yibo said.
“I’ll give you a surprise,” Xiao Zhan said.
“What? Really?” Wang Yibo asked.
Xiao Zhan nodded. “Really, I bought you a present,” he said, and when Wang Yibo looked skeptical, added, “I got it a few days ago when you were in Shanghai still. Who’s the best mate ever?”
“Depends on the present,” Wang Yibo said, but he looked happy and eager like a little kid.
While on set, Xiao Zhan had quickly discovered that Wang Yibo was actually one of the most generous people on set. Even though he was one of the youngest, Wang Yibo would volunteer to pay when they all went out to eat, would make his assistant buy drinks for the cast, would buy an extra down jacket for Xiao Zhan when it was cold. Xiao Zhan thought that probably someone early on had told Wang Yibo that if he wasn’t going to be good at talking, the other method to make friends was bribery, and it worked—even people who started out intimidated by Wang Yibo at least had a good impression of him thanks to sheer generosity.
Naturally, Wang Yibo also constantly bought things for Xiao Zhan—food, clothes, mobile phone games—but he seemed to be especially happy anytime Xiao Zhan gave him something whether it was some doodle Xiao Zhan had done or if it was Xiao Zhan’s half-drunk green tea.
Xioa Zhan wondered if maybe Wang Yibo had gone into the entertainment industry too young and never gotten very many presents for small things to mean so much to him. Still, it made him feel warm when he realized Wang Yibo wore the helmet Xiao Zhan had gifted him for his birthday last year—not out on the track when he went racing, but as his favorite every day helmet—the one he wore when he was driving around normally.
And so Xiao Zhan went to bring over the little gift box he’d purchased at the event he’d gone to a few days ago before he’d gone to meet up with Wang Yibo in Shanghai.
“Gucci?” Wang Yibo said, groaning when he saw the little present box that Xiao Zhan handed to him.
“Are you saying you don’t like my present?” Xiao Zhan demanded.
“No, no, I love anything Zhan-ge gives me,” Wang Yibo said. “I’m honored Zhan-ge thinks of me even at your exclusive Gucci events,” he said as he opened up the box.
Inside was a plain silver necklace with a little charm in the shape of an ox head. “I saw it and thought of you,” Xiao Zhan said, grinning. “You have to wear it. You’re not allowed to take it off.”
Wang Yibo gave a long suffering sigh but obediently let Xiao Zhan put it on his neck. “Happy?” he asked.
Xiao Zhan beamed at him and nodded.
He didn’t really expect Wang Yibo to never take it off. They were picking up more sponsorships by the day, being put into new clothes for different photoshoots and advertisements, but after that, every time Xiao Zhan saw Wang Yibo in person, he was wearing it.
A few weeks into their promotional period, they flew to Changsha together to appear together on a couple of variety shows.
Wang Yibo was adorably eager, having worked as a host on set Day Day Up every week for years now, and wanted to show Xiao Zhan all around Changsha though they had a tight two days to spend—one to film Day Day Up, and a second for Happy Camp.
But to make Wang Yibo happy, Xiao Zhan let him drag him around the set early, showing Xiao Zhan his dressing room and introducing Xiao Zhan to his Day Day Up brothers for a second time. Ever since a certain fanmeeting where Xiao Zhan had forgotten their first meeting wasn’t on set The Untamed but when Xiao Zhan once guested on Day Day Up, Wang Yibo hadn’t let him forget it. Back then, he had still been with X-Nine—a little nervous about being on a popular variety show. This time though, he was welcomed onto the set like Wang Yibo was really bringing a new omega mate to meet his most familiar co-workers. Xiao Zhan was asked twice if Wang Yibo was treating him well, and multiple cast and staff members teased Wang Yibo for getting mated so suddenly and so young.
“You didn’t tell them?” Xiao Zhan whispered to Wang Yibo during a break in filming.
“Tell them what?” Wang Yibo asked, motioning his assistant over to bring them water, handing Xiao Zhan a bottle before cracking open his own.
“That we’re not actually mated.” Xiao Zhan self-consciously tugged his collar up a little. It wasn’t considered polite to show off a bond mark in public so all mated couples were expected to wear clothes that covered up key areas. He was in a collar shirt but if it should slip, he had no doubt people would be analyzing whether he had a mark or not.
“Why would I?” Wang Yibo said. “Didn’t Chen-ge and Chen-jie say not to tell anyone?” Wang Yibo said. “Only our parents and assistants and managers know,” he said.
“Yeah, but you work with them every week,” Xiao Zhan said. “Aren’t you close?”
Wang Yibo turned to grin at Xiao Zhan. “What? Jealous?”
“How does your brain work, exactly,” Xiao Zhan said and reached over to adjust Wang Yibo’s collar. “Stop moving. They’re all going to see you don’t really have a bond mark.”
Wang Yibo sighed but let Xiao Zhan adjust his shirt all he wanted before they were called back to resume filming.
Filming was one thing, but afterwards, they were invited out to dinner with the rest of the hosts and guests. Wang Han had booked out a small banquet room at a restaurant and Xiao Zhan sat, a little stiff but doing his best to be polite and make awkward small talk from where he sat next to Wang Yibo. In truth, he didn’t really enjoy these types of dinners that were meant for networking, much preferring to go home for a comfortable dinner with just the two of them.
“Here, Zhan-ge, try this,” Wang Yibo said, putting some sort of fish into Xiao Zhan’s plate. “It’s spicy. You’ll like it.”
Xiao Zhan looked over at him. “You already tried it?” he asked. “It wasn’t too spicy for you?”
“It’s okay,” Wang Yibo said. “Here, this one is good too.” He spun the lazy Susan to grab a few pieces of meat to put in Xiao Zhan’s plate.
“Ah, don’t give me too much,” Xiao Zhan said.
Wang Yibo frowned. “You should eat more,” he said.
“It’s too hot,” Xiao Zhan said. “I’m not hungry.”
“If you don’t like anything Feng-ge ordered, we can get something else,” Wang Yibo said, frowning. “Is your stomach upset?”
“No, no, don’t trouble them,” Xiao Zhan hissed. “I’ll eat, I’ll eat.”
He picked up his bowl and chopsticks and very slowly began to eat, nudging Wang Yibo every time Wang Yibo put more food onto his plate, which Wang Yibo did knowing full well that Xiao Zhan couldn’t decline in front of everyone else without coming off impolite.
“Zhanzhan, ah, I’ve never seen Yibo take such good care of someone,” Wang Han said to Xiao Zhan when the dinner was ending and they were all congregated around the exit, saying their goodbyes. He reached up to pat Xiao Zhan on the shoulder. “He’s a good kid. I can see he really has his heart set on you.”
“Han-ge, call me Han-ge. Yibo’s mate is family,” Wang Han said, smiling.
The fatherly way Wang Han was treating him was making Xiao Zhan feel awful about lying, but another part of him preened to know that they really thought he was Wang Yibo’s mate. “Han-ge,” he said politely.
Wang Han smiled and patted him again. “You and Yibo must come to visit my family sometime,” he said. “When you’re not so busy with promotions, eh?”
Xiao Zhan nodded. “Definitely,” he said.
“Hey, ready to go? Our driver’s here,” Wang Yibo said, holding his hand out to Xiao Zhan who took it and waved.
“Visit us again soon,” Da Zhangwei said. “Yibo talks way more when you’re around.”
Wang Yibo grinned back at him without saying a word, and tugged Xiao Zhan out to the car after him.
Xiao Zhan was quiet all the way back to Wang Yibo’s apartment. When they’d gone fake-public, their co-workers on set The Untamed had teased them a little but no one really asked any questions. He’d assumed it was probably just because everyone was so used to seeing the two of them act as a couple already as Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji.
But it was something entirely different to have other people—people Wang Yibo worked with on a regular basis and would continue working with for the foreseeable future—to also be lied to. What would he do once it came out that the two of them weren’t together? Even if it was phrased as a divorce, those other hosts seemed to care a lot about Wang Yibo. It would be hard to lie like that to them, wouldn’t it?
“Tired?” Wang Yibo asked.
“I want potato chips,” Xiao Zhan said.
“Are you sick in the head?” Wang Yibo demanded. “What did I tell you at dinner? You didn’t eat enough!” he accused.
Xiao Zhan blinked big eyes over at him. “It just wasn’t what I wanted to eat.”
“So you’d rather eat junk food instead?” Wang Yibo demanded.
“I won’t eat a lot of it,” Xiao Zhan said.
Wang Yibo gave him an exacerbated look. “How hungry are you?” he said finally. “Do you want to get dinner somewhere else first then?” he asked.
“No, I just want a snack,” Xiao Zhan said.
Wang Yibo sighed, sounding very put-upon but leaned into the front seat to ask their driver to stop by the convenience store first.
There was one very easy solution to all of this, Xiao Zhan knew, but he didn’t want to think about it too hard about that.
The longer The Untamed broadcasted and the more promotional events they went to, the more popular they got. As the summer continued, soon it wasn’t just a handful of fanmeets and variety shows they had guest spots on, but every day there were new brands making offers of sponsorships, ads that needed to be photographed and videoed.
And pretty soon it wasn’t just Wang Yibo who had to travel weekly to Changsha, but both of them were flying in and out of Beijing for different ads, livestreams, photoshoots, recordings, auditions, and fanmeets. Scripts were pouring in as well, guest spots on various shows, interviews being requested constantly. To Xiao Zhan’s own surprise, he was considered the more popular of the two.
At first it was exciting. In between fan events for The Untamed, this was the most amount of work Xiao Zhan had ever had since debut where there was always another city to travel to, always another event he had to practice singing or dance for, always another interview and questions he had to prep for.
But then the first full week passed where Xiao Zhan didn’t get to see Wang Yibo at all. Since the airing began, he and Wang Yibo had been together so often that it felt strange and a little lonely to go so long without seeing him.
When the week finally finished and he got to return to Beijing, though he was tired, he was looking forward to having dinner with Wang Yibo. The alpha was also supposed to return to Beijing a few hours ahead of Xiao Zhan, and on the drive back to the apartment, Xiao Zhan began to look forward to it—maybe he’d make Wang Yibo get takeout tonight because he really was tired and not in the mood to cook. It had been so long since they got to have dinner just the two of them, and Xiao Zhan just wanted to eat, maybe put in a movie together, and cuddle up to Wang Yibo.
But when he walked into their apartment that night, it was dark and empty.
Xiao Zhan frowned, pulling out his phone to text. “Where are you?”
Wang Yibo’s reply came a few moments later. “Flight got delayed.”
Xiao Zhan felt irrationally annoyed about it even though it wasn’t Wang Yibo’s fault that his plans for the evening had gotten canceled.
When he couldn’t find anything good to eat in their refrigerator and had to toss out cilantro that had gone yellow, he ordered expensive delivery sushi.
He was curled up on the couch with a horror movie on when Wang Yibo came through the door some 3 hours later, dragging a small carry-on behind him.
“Zhan-ge,” Wang Yibo said, smiling at him.
“Why were you so late?” Xiao Zhan snapped. He wanted to be nice but he felt exhausted and agitated, and even worse when Wang Yibo’s smile fell. “I ate without you. You can make your own dinner.”
“What are you in such a bad mood for?” Wang Yibo said which made Xiao Zhan’s temper completely flare up.
“I can’t be in a bad mood sometimes?” Xiao Zhan demanded. “I’m tired too, you know. I haven’t been able to sleep more than five hours a day for the past week and the one day I’m supposed to be able to relax at home, you didn’t even tell me ahead of time you weren’t coming back on time!”
“Whatever, I don’t have the energy to argue with you,” Wang Yibo said, dragging his suitcase into his room.
A moment later, Xiao Zhan heard a door close and the sound of water—Wang Yibo was taking a shower and clearly had no intention of coming back to talk to Xiao Zhan.
To his own horror, Xiao Zhan felt his eyes blurring, welling up with tears even though this was such a trivial thing to be mad about, and switched the television off, going into his own room to curl up in bed. He was just in a bad mood because of exhaustion. Once he slept and felt better, he’d apologize to Wang Yibo in the morning, he thought, burying himself in his blankets.
He managed to sleep straight to the next day and through his alarm as well, waking only when he heard a knock on the door.
“Zhan-ge, are you all right?”
Xiao Zhan’s brain felt like fog and he groaned, squinting, when he heard his door open. A moment later, Wang Yibo was pulling the blanket down from his sweaty face, making Xiao Zhan’s cheeks tingle from the sudden cool AC blowing on him and he grimaced, trying to duck down into the blankets again.
“You’re in heat,” Wang Yibo announced.
“Obviously,” Xiao Zhan mumbled. He could smell Wang Yibo, a little muskier than usual, he thought, and it made him feel both better and worse. Senses prickling, Xiao Zhan took a deep breath and tried to shuffle closer to him.
Wang Yibo, on the other hand, moved back. To Xiao Zhan’s logical brain, he knew that he should be grateful that Wang Yibo wasn’t taking advantage of the situation, but to his primal brain that was singing out for Wang Yibo to join him in bed, it felt like the end of the world—instinct overriding reason as his eyes prickled with tears at the rejection.
“Fuck, don’t cry,” Wang Yibo said, scooting forward again as Xiao Zhan, completely unable to control himself, shuffled forward in the blankets, inhaling Wang Yibo’s scent as he tried to worm his way into Wang Yibo’s arms.
This was, he thought vaguely, the first time Wang Yibo was actually with him during a heat. He’d been with him during a few pre-heats before where Xiao Zhan managed to pick a fight with him every time, indignant if Wang Yibo so much as implied Lan Zhan wasn’t head over heels for Wei Ying since birth. But on a set, everyone was far more careful about heats, making sure they kept track of their schedules and Xiao Zhan would be shuffled into a hotel room where he’d stay for the next three days until it passed and he could be a rational human being again.
Wang Yibo ran a big hand down his back, and Xiao Zhan felt a little slick gush out of him.
“Did you tell Chen-jie you’re in heat yet?” Wang Yibo asked, voice sounding like a gentle rumble in Xiao Zhan’s feverish state.
Xiao Zhan shook his head, burying his face further into Wang Yibo’s neck where his scent was strongest.
Wang Yibo sighed. “Phone?” he asked.
Xiao Zhan pointed to the bed stand where it was charging and Wang Yibo picked it up, making Xiao Zhan unlock it and then dialing.
“Wei? Chen-jie, Zhan-ge’s heat started. He needs a few days off,” Xiao Zhan heard Wang Yibo say.
He felt a little embarrassed having Wang Yibo make the call for him at the same time as he liked having someone else take care of everything for him. He could hear the chatter of a female voice on the other end of the phone though he couldn’t make out the words.
“No, I’m not going to do anything to him. Who do you all think I am?” Wang Yibo said. “I need to leave tonight anyway. I have another job in Shanghai.”
Xiao Zhan frowned and dug his fingers into Wang Yibo’s shirt then.
As soon as Wang Yibo hung up, Xiao Zhan buried his face further into Wang Yibo’s neck and mumbled, “Don’t go.” When Wang Yibo pried him back to look at his face that must look flushed and glassy-eyed, Xiao Zhan pouted, giving him his best puppy face. “Stay,” he begged.
Wang Yibo grimaced. “I can’t,” he said.
“Why not?” Xiao Zhan full on whined then, the panic in him that his alpha might not want him was making him feel in the worst of ways.
Wang Yibo sighed again, tilting him back to look into his eyes. “Remember when I confessed to you on set last summer?” he said finally.
Last summer, there had been a time when something almost happened. They had been about halfway through filming and basically attached at the hip—when they were called, it was never just Wei Wuxian or Lan Wangji, but Wei-Wuxian-and-Lan-Wangji. It was assumed that Wang Yibo would bring Xiao Zhan his hefan meals. No one even blinked when the two of them play-fought on set or were surprised anymore when Xiao Zhan said they had to redo a scene because Wang Yibo was laughing again.
It had just been a random afternoon, the two of them waiting under an umbrella for the set to be completely set up. They had been joking around just a few moments earlier but it had died into a pleasant sort of silence. Wang Yibo was just looking at him and smiling, so fond and soft that Xiao Zhan could feel his stomach squirm.
“Zhan-ge,” Wang Yibo had said, eyes intent on him, and wet his lips as though his throat had gone dry. “Xiao Zhan, I—”
And in that moment, Xiao Zhan knew exactly what he was going to say.
It had all flashed before his eyes. He was going to ask and force talking about this thing that had been buzzing between them since they met in early spring, and Xiao Zhan didn’t know if he wanted to—not yet. Xiao Zhan was 26 and Wang Yibo was only 20. What if Wang Yibo only liked him because he was acting as Wei Wuxian right now? What if it was because they were both too in character? Everything was different right now—all of them secluded up in the mountains for filming and told to act in character all the time—if Xiao Zhan fell for Wang Yibo, he’d go all in, and he couldn’t risk that. He’d already left behind a stable career of graphic design for this dream. He didn’t have that much time before he turned 30 and would be put out to pasture by his company, and it would be even harder to make it big if he wasn’t single. He liked Wang Yibo, but he didn’t know if he wanted to risk everything to be with him.
And so, he’d interrupted him and said, “Wait until we’re not Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji anymore.”
Wang Yibo hadn’t said anything, just giving Xiao Zhan a nod and going back to looking at his script.
And for the rest of the summer, Xiao Zhan had rolled the thought around in his head, weighing the pros and cons, wondering how to answer Wang Yibo when they finished filming and he asked again.
But since then, nothing had happened. They’d finished filming, and up to the last day, Wang Yibo never said anything. Though Xiao Zhan still hadn’t been sure how to answer up to that last day, he surprised himself at how disappointed he felt when he had returned to Beijing alone. He’d told himself this was for the best since it meant Wang Yibo wasn’t really interested in him if he’d changed his mind—it was far better that nothing had happened when they were filming instead of being abandoned afterwards—but still felt like he’d passed up the chance of a lifetime when he hadn’t let Wang Yibo finish speaking then.
But instead of turning into strangers, it was more like that incident had never happened. Wang Yibo continued to nonstop text Xiao Zhan, sending him dumb memes every morning and harassing him if he didn’t eat proper meals. They still hung out whenever they were in the same city. If anything, Xiao Zhan felt closer to him even as he readjusted to being more himself and less Wei Wuxian.
And now they were...whatever this was.
“Remember when you said we had to stop being Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian first?” Wang Yibo said. “Because you didn’t want to still be in character?”
Xiao Zhan blinked big, teary eyes at Wang Yibo.
“I don’t want you to be in heat when you want me to stay,” Wang Yibo said.
Xiao Zhan felt like he might start crying when Wang Yibo gently pushed him back into bed.
“You’ll thank me when you’re lucid,” Wang Yibo said and got up to leave.
But a moment later, Xiao Zhan felt something soft land on him and when he looked up, Wang Yibo had stripped out of his sweatshirt, still warm with his body heat, and tossed it at Xiao Zhan.
“I gotta go catch my flight,” Wang Yibo said. “But I’m going to order delivery for you and you need to eat. Got it?”
Xiao Zhan wrinkled his nose. “If you stay?” he tried again.
“Be good, Zhan-ge,” Wang Yibo said with a sigh.
Then Xiao Zhan felt a gentle kiss pressed to his forehead and Wang Yibo smiled at him before the door was shutting behind him.
When Xiao Zhan emerged from the apartment three days later, feeling a little embarrassed about the whole thing the way he usually felt when anyone knew about his heats, Wang Yibo wasn’t home but other than the delivery he’d been ordering for Xiao Zhan every day, Xiao Zhan had also found their refrigerator fully stocked and a bunch of stomach soothing medicines and cold compresses left on the table for him. It made him hopeful, like maybe he hadn’t missed his chance after all.
But the next time he saw Wang Yibo, a few days later at another joint fan event, Wang Yibo just ran a hand down his back and leaned in close to ask if he was feeling better. Then he’d handed Xiao Zhan a Starbucks iced coffee and a bag of chips like he was appeasing a small child, and nothing had happened at all.
Xiao Zhan felt like he had made his own intentions quite obvious if not entirely of his own volition, so this was disappointing even if he couldn’t blame Wang Yibo. But for someone who apparently didn’t want Xiao Zhan as a mate, Wang Yibo didn’t seem to care when Xiao Zhan wore an outfit consisting only of Wang Yibo’s clothes to the airport. At events, when Xiao Zhan reached for his hand, Wang Yibo would thread their fingers together and grin at him. Whenever Xiao Zhan was hungry or thirsty, he could complain and Wang Yibo would buy it for him.
At home, when Xiao Zhan fell asleep leaning against Wang Yibo when they were watching movies, he’d find Wang Yibo piggybacking him to his room, tucking him into bed while muttering complaints under his breath. And there would always be Xiao Zhan’s favorite potato chips and chocolate stashed in their pantry.
During their last fanmeeting in Thailand, Xiao Zhan didn’t have much time to feel sad about it. He’d caught a cold during the tail end of his last heat, which had prompted a long round of scolding by Wang Yibo who rejected three different dinner invitations for them, bundling Xiao Zhan back to the hotel to sleep early and try his best to recover.
So Xiao Zhan spent both concert days doing little else other than rehearsing, performing, and sleeping, aware that Wang Yibo was letting him win every game they played on stage because he was worried about him.
Still, he shed a few tears when they ended that very last concert, and Wang Yibo hovered by Xiao Zhan, a hand pressed to the small of his back as they walked off stage. Then, Xiao Zhan was being ushered off stage by his team with only time to call, “I’m going first, Lao Wang,” before he was hurried out of the venue and out on the next plane headed for Milan Fashion Week.
Going to Europe was a childhood dream of Xiao Zhan’s, and Italy doubly so as a former art student. He didn’t have much time to sightsee, caught between wanting to sleep off the time difference and everything that he had to do for work as a Gucci model and representative. He was only there for a few days, but he did get to tour two museums briefly, snapping photos of Botticelli and Raffaello, and was impressed when Wang Yibo asked if he got to see any Expressionists or Impressionists.
“You remember what artists I like?” Xiao Zhan asked, smiling even though they were on a phone call—the internet connection poor where he was.
“I remember everything about Xiao-laoshi,” Wang Yibo said and Xiao Zhan could hear the grin in his voice. “Your favorite is Van Gogh.”
“Wow, I’m impressed,” Xiao Zhan said, feeling both a little shy and also pleased that Wang Yibo really did remember.
“Take a picture of my favorite art,” Wang Yibo said.
“What’s your favorite art?” Xiao Zhan asked.
“Wow,” Wang Yibo said. “I remember everything about Zhan-ge, but you don’t even know what my favorite work of art is.”
Xiao Zhan really couldn’t recall Wang Yibo saying a single thing about art before. They’d maybe touched on the subject a handful of times but since Xiao Zhan knew Wang Yibo didn’t care much about the subject, any conversations about art were usually more about manga and graphic novels than actual fine art.
“Spiderman?” Xiao Zhan racked his brain.
Wang Yibo snorted. “Wow, you really don’t remember,” he said.
“One Piece?” Xiao Zhan tried again.
“Nope,” Wang Yibo said.
“Then what is it?” Xiao Zhan asked. “It’s mostly Italian Renaissance stuff here,” he said. “Are you sure it’s here?”
He couldn’t remember even talking to Wang Yibo about Italy before this trip.
“Of course it is,” Wang Yibo said. “Turn on your camera.”
“My connection isn’t good,” Xiao Zhan warned him but switched on his camera anyway.
He saw a grainy picture of Wang Yibo that froze twice in five seconds. “What do you want to see?” he asked, switching the camera to front view and turning in the room to show him the walls.
“Already saw it. You can turn the camera off now,” Wang Yibo said.
Xiao Zhan frowned. “You already saw—”
He was interrupted by the ping of a new notification. When he opened up Wang Yibo’s message, he saw a grainy screenshot of himself, looking down at the camera.
He could hear Wang Yibo’s cackle. “My favorite work of art,” he said.
Xiao Zhan’s face went up in flames. “You’re so stupid,” he said. “I’m hanging up.”
“No don’t, I’ll stop,” Wang Yibo said. “Although Zhan-ge really is the most beautiful piece of art I’ve ever seen—”
“Wang Yibo, I’m going!”
Wang Yibo laughed. “All right, all right, I’ll stop,” he said. “What else have you seen?” he asked. “Did you try the gelato like you said you wanted?”
“Ah, yeah, it’s really good!” Xiao Zhan said enthusiastically. “I only had it once so far since we’re mostly at work, but they make it out of real fruit!” He continued to tell Wang Yibo about Italy as he walked through the galleries, stopping every once in awhile to admire another painting or statue that caught his eye.
The rest of fashion week passed in much the same way. Despite being a model himself, Wang Yibo’s highest appreciation for fashion was whether it made him look handsome or not, and otherwise, he preferred comfortable, everyday clothes. So Xiao Zhan could amuse himself by snapping photos of the most ridiculous pieces he saw, sending them to Wang Yibo who always had an amusing insult ready.
By the end of the week, Xiao Zhan was loaded with souvenirs he’d bought and gifts from Gucci that he entirely planned to re-gift to Wang Yibo just to see the grimace on his face when he saw them.
He was tired from the long week and long hours of travel when he got back to Beijing late at night, but looked forward to going home to Wang Yibo—he’d been telling Wang Yibo a list of Asian foods he wanted to eat when he got back and wondered if he would surprise Xiao Zhan with any as the driver brought him back.
But when he finally hauled his two huge suitcases and four gift bags into the elevator and got out on his floor, he found the apartment door open.
“Yibo?” Xiao Zhan called, pushing the suitcases inside.
But instead of Wang Yibo, he saw two other familiar faces.
“Chen-jie? Chen-ge?” Xiao Zhan said. “What are you guys doing here?”
“Oh, Zhanzhan, you’re back? The plane landed early,” Chen-jie said, looking up from where she was stacking Xiao Zhan’s dishes into a cardboard box. “Ah I knew I forgot something—is your driver still here? Let me send her the new apartment address.”
“The new apartment?” Xiao Zhan echoed.
“Did you forget?” Chen-jie said. “The Untamed is over. They need this place for another drama. Don’t worry, I already found you a new place—we’re just wrapping things up here but I already moved most of your things.” She typed into her phone. “Actually just give me a moment here to finish and I’ll take you to your new place—these cups are yours, right?”
“What about Yibo?” Xiao Zhan asked, noticing only now that the boxes Chen-ge was stacking were all labeled with Wang Yibo’s name. “Where is he going to stay?”
“What are you talking about? He still has his place in Changsha,” Chen-jie said.
“That kid brought so much over,” Chen-ge said. “And he knew he was only going to be here a few months. Did the PS4 come with the apartment or is that Yibo’s?”
“It came with the apartment,” Xiao Zhan said faintly.
“I’m done. Come on, Zhanzhan, I’ll take you to your new apartment,” Chen-jie said. “Oh, while we’re here. Give me the ring.”
“The ring?” Xiao Zhan echoed.
Chen-jie nodded and looked pointedly down at Xiao Zhan’s hand where that ugly Gucci gold ring was still on his ring finger. He hated that ring but as he worked it off his finger and dropped it into Chen-jie, it took every ounce of self-control not to snatch it back when Chen-jie handed it to Chen-ge. “You’re dropping by their headquarters in a few days, right? Can you return it?”
“Sure,” Chen-ge said.
Xiao Zhan was led out the door, dragging his heavy suitcases behind him.
Why hadn’t Wang Yibo told him? He was even texting Wang Yibo at the airport in Milan in the morning, saying he wanted to eat hotpot and kebabs and shaobing when he got back and Wang Yibo had told him to go grab some last Italian food at the airport cause it would probably be awhile before he got to visit again The least Wang Yibo could do was tell him they were moving out, he thought, but all week, he hadn’t mentioned it at all, letting Xiao Zhan happily text and call him like everything was normal. Xiao Zhan even brought back so many souvenirs for him!
Eventually, he’d have to get over it. They still had to have an amicable divorce and probably release a statement about how they’d decided careers came first and had agreed to just stay friends. But for now, it wasn’t like he was scheduled for any events with Wang Yibo anytime soon, and maybe having gotten spoiled by Wang Yibo these past few months, he didn’t want to be mature about it right now.
He typed out one message to him, deleted it, and then a second one which he also deleted. In the end, in a fit of anger, he blocked Wang Yibo.
The new apartment that Chen-jie got for him was far plainer than the one he’d gotten used to—a one bedroom quite similar to his original apartment where it was plain and serviceable and had just enough space for everything Xiao Zhan owned.
Thanks to his popularity now, Xiao Zhan couldn’t even get a few days off to feel sorry for himself. The very next day, he was en route to Shenzhou for a photoshoot and interview so he didn’t even have time to unpack—just leaving everything as it was and packing a small carry-on for a short day trip. After that, he had two days in Shanghai to film sponsorship advertisements, and then a few talks for possible variety show appearances.
He was grateful for the busyness because it meant he was so exhausted that he passed out when he could get a few hours of sleep here and there, and the work made it so that he didn’t have time to think about Wang Yibo. It also meant that it kept Chen-jie too busy to think about when or how they would announce the split publicly because even though they weren’t together, there was still a small part of Xiao Zhan relieved that the longer they didn’t announce anything, the longer Wang Yibo was kept off the market for anyone else.
When Xiao Zhan stumbled into his new Beijing apartment three days later, he went straight to bed with three bags of potato chips, pulling out his iPad to stream some mindless television and not think at all about the two still-packed suitcases of souvenirs for Wang Yibo that he’d probably never give him now and how Wang Yibo probably hadn’t even noticed that Xiao Zhan blocked him.
He was too tired to do any more than rearrange his new bed, trying to shift things to be most comfortable. It was only after he’d arranged his giant Spongebob three times that he realized it wasn’t the bed bothering him but the scent. Everything felt barren and smelled all wrong when what he wanted was Wang Yibo’s musky, aromatic scent. He thought to the few items of Wang Yibo’s clothes in his unpacked suitcases and itched to go and bury his face in them. He’d gotten used to his smell, Xiao Zhan thought with vague horror, and now he had to get used to not having it around anymore.
Even more upset but forcing himself not to dig through his suitcases, Xiao Zhan pulled up the list of horror films he hadn’t been able to watch with Wang Yibo around these last few months.
He was marathoning the latest season of American Horror Story, munching his way through his second bag of chips, when he heard knocking on his door. He didn’t think it was for him at first—after all, only his driver and Chen-jie should know he’d moved to this location—but when the knocking didn’t stop, he finally poked his head out of the covers, squinting at the door of his bedroom.
The annoying thing about being an omega was that instincts still kicked in at times like this when Xiao Zhan couldn’t stop thinking about that fateful night months ago when he’d left the DiDi and the paparazzi had jumped out at him, except that this time, Wang Yibo wasn’t around to provide him any backup. What if someone had figured out where he lived? He was a lot more famous now than he had been a few months ago. What if it was a stalker fan?
Xiao Zhan tiptoed to his new kitchen as banging continued from his front door. He regretted not having unpacked a little now, but thankfully, he recognized that box of kitchen things that Chen-jie had packed last. It took a few moments of digging through for him to locate his kitchen knives.
He settled on the biggest meat cleaver he owned before going to the door and opening it a crack, brandishing the knife.
“What took you so long? Were you asleep?”
Wang Yibo stood on the other side, hair sticking up, unkempt. He looked first annoyed that it had taken Xiao Zhan so long to open the door, and then incredulous as he stared at the meat cleaver Xiao Zhan was holding.
“Well, good to know you can defend yourself,” Wang Yibo said, pushing the door open all the way as he walked inside and kicked off his shoes.
“What are you doing here?” Xiao Zhan said, staring at him.
“You blocked me,” Wang Yibo accused as though Xiao Zhan was the one in the wrong.
It reminded him of all the hurt and betrayal of the past few days and what potato chips and horror television had temporarily appeased was stirred up all over again. “You left first,” Xiao Zhan said. “I came back from Milan and you didn’t even tell me you were moving!”
The most annoying thing about Wang Yibo was that though Xiao Zhan was 27-years-old and a rational adult who should be too mature for things like this, Wang Yibo managed to bring out the childish part of him that wanted to stomp his feet and demand that Wang Yibo hold him and comfort him because he was so tired and wanted to breath in his scent and missed him so much.
“I didn’t know either,” Wang Yibo said. “I was filming in Changsha and Shanghai—I didn’t even come back to Beijing until after you left!”
“But you didn’t call me—”
“Of course I called you! Do you know how many times I called you? You blocked me,” Wang Yibo repeated, sounding angrier. “Do you even know how hard I had to fight Chen-jie to get your new address? You couldn’t have just called or texted me to yell like a regular person?”
Xiao Zhan, to his horror, felt his eyes prickling with tears again. “Why would I do that? I’m not your mate!”
Wang Yibo ran both hands through his already messy hair and took a deep breath. “Xiao Zhan, you’re the one who told me to wait and now you’re getting mad at me about it?”
“What are you talking about?” Xiao Zhan said, crying for real now. “You don’t want me.”
“What—I don’t want you? I don’t want you? ” Wang Yibo demanded. “Who was the one who said we had to wait until we weren’t Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji anymore!”
“You never asked me again after we finished filming,” Xiao Zhan said.
“Now that promos are finally over, I was going to take you to that hotpot place you like so much when you got back from Milan and ask you properly, and then you blocked me!” Wang Yibo shouted.
“But you never said anything,” Xiao Zhan said.
“I waited so long for you and then you block me?” Wang Yibo continued. “If this is your way of telling me you changed your mind, you’re going to have to say it to my face!”
Xiao Zhan stared at him. “You...you were waiting for me?” he echoed, voice small as he tried to suppress the hope welling up in him. “Why?”
“Isn’t that what you said? You wanted to wait until the drama promotions were over,” Wang Yibo said and then stopped and stared at Xiao Zhan. “Wait, you meant when we finished filming?” he said.
“I went to Japan for a week to get out of character,” Xiao Zhan said. He’d even bought souvenirs for Wang Yibo as an excuse to see him, but Wang Yibo had taken the souvenirs and never asked Xiao Zhan anything. “I thought you changed your mind…”
“Are you saying we could have been mated for a year by now?” Wang Yibo said, caught on a completely different detail.
“So you...you do want me?” Xiao Zhan asked.
“How much more obvious do I have to be?” Wang Yibo demanded. “I even said I love you. Multiple times.” He waved his hand at Xiao Zhan. “I’m wearing Gucci for you.”
Xiao Zhan noticed then that Wang Yibo was still sporting that ugly silver panther ring. “Chen-ge didn’t make you give it back?” he asked. His own finger had felt barren the last few days, having gotten used to the weight of the ring on there.
“I wouldn’t let him, and you—” Wang Yibo thrust his hand into his pocket, feeling around until he pulled out a familiar gold ring. “I had to pay ¥2000 for this! Pretty sure Chen-ge upcharged me,” he muttered, taking Xiao Zhan’s hand and pushing the ring back on his finger. He glared at Xiao Zhan as though daring him to take it back off.
“I don’t want this ring,” Xiao Zhan said.
Wang Yibo looked panicked, the hands encased around Xiao Zhan’s turning sweaty. “Zhan-ge, just give me a chance. I know I’m young still, but I’ll work hard. I can be dependable—”
“I want a prettier one,” Xiao Zhan said, interrupting him.
Wang Yibo stared at him for a moment and then his face opened up. “Then you—”
“I want to be your omega,” Xiao Zhan said, cheeks going red at the words, and then, to make sure there were absolutely no misunderstandings this time, added, “And I want you to be my alpha. Okay?”
“Okay,” Wang Yibo said, a smile spreading across his face wider and wider until his eyes were crinkling. “Okay.”
Wang Yibo tugged Xiao Zhan in closer, cautious and slow at first, and then pulled him entirely into his arms when Xiao Zhan didn’t resist.
Xiao Zhan took a deep breath, and finally, he felt the restless thing that had been pacing inside him all week settle down at the scent of the alpha he’d grown so used to with all the comfort and familiarity of home.
When Wang Yibo began to back away again, Xiao Zhan made a noise of protest, only to stop when Wang Yibo cupped his face, tilting it just the tiniest bit down, and finally— finally kissed him—the kiss Xiao Zhan had been wanting since filming The Untamed and had waited another year to get. Wang Yibo kissed with all the intensity that Xiao Zhan imagined Lan Wangji would have kissed Wei Wuxian. And even though they had waited just one year and not sixteen, it still felt too long as he melted into it.
Wang Yibo cupped his face with one big hand in a show of possessive control that had Xiao Zhan’s inner omega squirming, and he sank into, clutching at Wang Yibo who yelped.
Xiao Zhan opened his eyes when Wang Yibo flinched back. It was the meat cleaver he was still holding that had jabbed Wang Yibo in the side—not enough to actually cut him, but enough to startle him.
“Will you put that down?” Wang Yibo said.
Xiao Zhan gave him a sheepish smile and quickly put it down on the nearby counter, and before he could come back to Wang Yibo, felt Wang Yibo’s arms close around him, pulling him back as Wang Yibo kissed him again and again, and began very purposefully backing him toward the bedroom.
“Yibo! Now?” Xiao Zhan said, laughing.
“I already waited a year for no reason,” Wang Yibo said. “If I’d known, during your last heat, I would have—”
“I told you so,” Xiao Zhan couldn’t help saying, and then laughed when Wang Yibo glared and kissed him again, kicking the door shut behind them.
Xiao Zhan yelped and laughed when Wang Yibo shoved him back onto the bed and then raised an eyebrow.
“How many bags of chips did you eat without me this week?” Wang Yibo demanded, distracted by the half-empty bags of chips Xiao Zhan had brought to bed earlier. “Did you eat any real food at all?” he demanded and started getting up again.
“That was just today. I only just got back,” Xiao Zhan said.
Wang Yibo frowned. “And you only ate chips?” he said. “You need to eat proper meals, Zhan-ge,” he scolded.
Xiao Zhan grabbed him by that Gucci oxhead necklace Wang Yibo was still wearing before he could get any farther. “Later, later,” he said. “Don’t you want to mate me first?”
Wang Yibo appeared to actually have to stop and think about it.
Xiao Zhan rolled his eyes. “Are you actually thinking about it, Wang Yibo?” he demanded. “Didn’t you just say you waited a whole unnecessary year for this?”
Wang Yibo looked down at him. “But Zhan-ge hasn’t eaten properly in how long? Were you eating enough in Milan?”
Xiao Zhan suppressed the urge to roll his eyes, smiling as he tugged Wang Yibo down. “It’s fine, Lao Wang. Right now, I want to eat your…” He whispered in Wang Yibo’s ear and watched in satisfaction as his eyes narrowed on Xiao Zhan.
After that, there were no more protests.
“Love you, Lao Wang,” Xiao Zhan’s Weibo said.
“❤️💍❤️,” Wang Yibo’s Weibo said.
In the Wajijiwa offices once again, Xiao Zhan held Wang Yibo’s hand under the table as they were scolded by Chen-jie and Chen-ge, the new bite mark on his neck still throbbing in the best way.
“You both disappear for three days—”
“We were in my apartment,” Xiao Zhan said. “You didn’t even look very hard.”
“We shouldn’t have to be tracking you down!” Chen-jie roared. “And you come back mated? For real? Are you two insane?”
“Everyone already thinks we’re together,” Wang Yibo said. “We have CP fans.”
“Has being an alpha completely rotted your brain?” Chen-ge barked. “Do you know how this is going to affect your career? Both your careers?”
Xiao Zhan could feel Wang Yibo’s thumb run over the Gucci ring on Xiao Zhan’s finger in a reassuring sort of way even as he continued to argue. When they’d finally pried themselves away from each other long enough to check their phones a few hours ago, they’d found that apparently three days had passed while they were holed up in Xiao Zhan’s apartment in a haze of happiness. Xiao Zhan remembered ordering takeout a few times but every meal had gotten interrupted when they got distracted by sex, just like the few showers they had taken that had ended the same way. Long story short, by the time either of them had the brain function to actually check for messages, they’d found both their managers in states of panic.
Xiao Zhan thought he should maybe feel a little guilty about it, but he was still too newly mated to be anything other than effervescently happy.
“What does it matter if everyone already thinks we’re mated and we actually are now?” Wang Yibo said. “Just don’t tell anyone we weren’t together in the first place. We never announced a split.”
“Yeah, doesn’t this make it easier? Now we don’t have to pretend to divorce,” Xiao Zhan said. “Divorce doesn’t look good for us either. It’s better this way.”
“Don’t you try to justify this! I already had posts written up for you! Press conferences were already scheduled!” Chen-jie massaged her forehead so hard that Xiao Zhan was worried she might rub wrinkles into it while Chen-ge sighed so loudly he was pretty sure people outside the conference room might be able to hear too.
“Don’t be mad, Chen-jie,” Xiao Zhan said. “I promise there won’t be any other surprises. Right, Yibo?”
“Yeah, we’ll let you know when we start trying for a kid,” Wang Yibo said.
Chen-ge looked like he might pass out. “You—”
“Yibo!” Xiao Zhan hissed and turned to reassure their managers. “We’re not! We’re not doing that!”
“Without prior warning,” Wang Yibo said.
Xiao Zhan elbowed him.
Wang Yibo grinned back at him. “Hey, better to have them mentally prepare for it early, right?” he said.
“You’re so annoying,” Xiao Zhan complained, but it was hard to stay angry when Wang Yibo was smiling at him like that.
"Heavens help us, how are these two the most popular breakout stars of 2019?" Chen-jie let out the loudest sigh. “We are not getting another apartment for you two,” she said finally.
Xiao Zhan perked up, squeezing Wang Yibo’s hand. “Does that mean you agree?” he said.
“Apparently, there is no way to stop the two of you,” Chen-jie said.
Wang Yibo brightened, face going completely boyish and youthful, beaming at Xiao Zhan like it was his birthday. “I’ll have my assistant start looking up apartments or a house—do you want a house? I'll buy you a house—”
“Will you two stop making impulsive stupid decisions? Young people these days,” Chen-ge said and sighed. “I need a week off,” he said. “Actually, no, you two take a week off,” he said. “And work all this out of your systems.” He gestured vaguely at them. “Don’t come back until you can behave like rational human adults.”
“Agreed,” Chen-jie said and then muttered. “I have so much rescheduling to do.”
“Thanks, Chen-jie, you’re the best, Chen-jie,” Xiao Zhan said sweetly.
“Yeah, thanks, Chen-ge,” Wang Yibo said.
Chen-jie rolled her eyes. “All right. Go,” she dismissed them.
As they held hands, walking out of the conference room, Wang Yibo turned to Xiao Zhan and grinned. “So do you want me to buy you an apartment or a house?” he asked.
“Wah, so generous, Lao Wang,” Xiao Zhan teased.
“Of course! I told you I’d be a good alpha,” Wang Yibo said, nose in the air.
Xiao Zhan laughed. “I’m not greedy,” he said, tugging on Wang Yibo’s hand. “Let’s start with a ring.”