Wei Yanzi inspects himself in the mirror for the hundredth time that afternoon. He has a dinner date with—no no no, not a date! This is a professional relationship! Friendly colleagues!—a dinner appointment with Gu Yiliang in an hour. This means that in less than one hour, he needs to be at the agreed-upon restaurant looking amazing.
Artfully tousled hair—check. No, wait, a little bit more—check.
New red sweater with a chic but comfortable cut that just happens to be the exact same shade of red that Gu Yiliang was wearing when they first shared tea together—check.
Hm. The sweater looks good, but he has an unfortunate tendency to get heatstroke in Gu Yiliang’s presence. He’d better check the weather before heading out in this. A few taps on his phone confirms the evening will be appropriately chilly, with a chance of rain right around 8 p.m. Perfect sweater weather.
Wei Yanzi pumps his arm in victory, then returns to the mirror to fix his hair one last time—fuck, he’s running late. He grabs an umbrella and races out the door to meet Little Chen.
The ride in Little Chen’s car—arranged so that Wei Yanzi would conveniently have no other way to get home after dinner without a gracious ride from Gu Yiliang—gives him time to think. It’s been a hard week on set, with him and Gu Yiliang working to death in completely different scenes. Wei Yanzi can’t remember the last time they spent an uninterrupted hour together—days at least—and he can feel his hands shaking, his heart palpitating, sure signs of dangerous fluff withdrawal.
Tonight, he needs to ruthlessly minmax his fluff production and consumption. To feast himself on enough fluff to sustain him through the terrible droughts ahead!
He checks the weather again, tilting the screen away from Little Chen as if the weather app itself will reveal his impure intentions. A fifty-percent chance of rain at 8 p.m. Their reservation is for 7 p.m., which means that the rain will start when they’re eating, and might still be continuing when they’re out. Wei Yanzi has an umbrella, but if he didn’t—
A white-hot arrow pierces his chest, as if shot by a cherubic fangirl. Gu Yiliang is always prepared and will definitely have an umbrella. He would also definitely, one-hundred-percent, share his umbrella.
Wei Yanzi has seen at least three artistic renditions of this concept by very talented Niangzi enthusiasts. Two beautiful men, leaning together under that gently offered canopy, protected from the elements by the strength of their affection—what could be more beautiful than that!
With visions of fanart dancing in his mind, when Little Chen pulls up to the curb and Wei Yanzi clambers out, he deliberately forgets his umbrella in the car.
The reservation is at 7 p.m., and Wei Yanzi arrives on the appointed street corner at 6:20. Precisely four minutes later, a celestial drum rattles above the city, clouds wave like banners, and the sky pours open upon him.
These are not so much raindrops as endless sheets of water soaking through him. Wei Yanzi swears and throws his arms uselessly over his head. The downpour is so heavy, he can barely see his surroundings; he nearly runs into a lamp post as he dives for the nearest shop awning.
The betrayal pierces him to the core. This rainfall is an hour and forty minutes early! But all too soon, the shock of cold takes precedence in his suffering: his soaked-through sweater clings heavily to him, and his jeans are like wet, grippy paint. Water flattens his hair, drips down his nose. When he moves, his clothes squish around him. When he stands still, cold air slices across his wet skin.
Wei Yanzi huddles against the unforgiving concrete wall. Fuck, this is too stupid. He can’t let Gu Yiliang see him like this. He’ll text Gu Yiliang first to regretfully cancel, then call Little Chen to pathetically demand rescue.
He tries pulling his phone from his pocket, and his wet fingers slip against the corner. He manages it on the third try, wiping his fingers on his equally wet jeans in a futile attempt to dry them off, and he’s still trying to swipe open his phone when a rush of sound and movement crashes through the downpour. There’s a muffled shout, and Wei Yanzi can’t tell what he’s saying, but he’d know Gu Yiliang’s voice anywhere.
He blinks through the rain until a wide black umbrella and Gu Yiliang’s pale worried face block out the storm and the rest of the world.
“Hi,” Wei Yanzi says, his voice coming out in a pitiful squeak. He tries to laugh. “So, you’re early, huh?”
Then he can’t even pretend to breathe, because Gu Yiliang is touching his face. “What are you doing?” Gu Yiliang growls. “You’re going to get sick!” He sounds angry. But he’s also tenderly brushing the hair from Wei Yanzi’s forehead.
Incredible warm fluff curls around him to protect him from the frigid cold. “I’m fine,” he squeaks out.
“You’re not fine.” Gu Yiliang grabs his shoulder and drags him even closer. “My car’s right there, come on.”
The journey is only across the sidewalk, a matter of six or seven steps. Rain whips around them from every direction, an assault no mere umbrella could defend against. But Wei Yanzi floats serenely through the tempest, sheltered by the tender concern in Gu Yiliang’s voice and the extremely manly, firm grip on his shoulder.
Gu Yiliang shoves him through the passenger door, and makes sure all his hands and feet are inside before closing it. So forceful yet considerate! Truly the perfect boyfriend!
Wei Yanzi has only a moment to reflect on Gu Yiliang’s perfection before the man himself slumps into the driver’s seat. With an intense look of concentration, Gu Yiliang fiddles with the dashboard, turning down the sappy pop music and turning up the heating. Then he leans over without warning. He’s incredibly close. Wei Yanzi freezes with shock, counting every water droplet on Gu Yiliang’s perfect face. Gu Yiliang reaches across him, warming him with the heat of his body, his hand tracing down to—
Buckle his seatbelt.
His thumb brushes Wei Yanzi’s stomach through his soaked sweater.
Wei Yanzi collapses into the seat, holding his heart, as Gu Yiliang straightens back up in the driver’s seat and turns on the car. He drives in silence—the only sounds the torrential rain against the windows, car horns, and barely-there, breathless pop songs—until they pull off the main road and head towards his apartment. When traffic clears, he glances sidelong at Wei Yanzi and says, “Next time, I’m picking you up at your apartment.”
He sounds mad. Of course he’s mad. Wei Yanzi curls in on himself with a squelch. “I’m sorry for ruining dinner.”
Gu Yiliang sighs. “I’ll order delivery.”
If that’s not the problem, then— “I’m sorry for getting your seat wet.”
“That’s not,” Gu Yiliang snaps, then stops himself. He takes several deep breaths, and his face looks very serious in the distorted traffic lights. Serious and beautiful. “Wei Yanzi, I’m not mad.”
“Are you sure?” It feels pathetic and needy even as he asks, but he can’t stop himself. “It’s okay if you’re mad.”
Gu Yiliang sighs again. The sound is somehow incredibly expressive, yet unreadable. “I’m not mad,” he says again, and reaches over, and rests his hand on Wei Yanzi’s knee. The touch burns through his wet jeans, up through every vein and into his heart, and this time, dazed and helpless, Wei Yanzi believes him.
By the time they reach Gu Yiliang’s apartment, the cold has truly set into Wei Yanzi’s bones. He tries not to shiver, not wanting Gu Yiliang to worry about him or scold him again, but no matter how tightly he clasps his hands, they still tremble. He takes his shoes off at the door, and his wet socks squish onto the wooden floor.
“Sorry,” he says. “Um, can I borrow some clothes?”
“Of course,” Gu Yiliang answers, and leads him towards the bathroom. Wei Yanzi feels slightly better dripping onto the tile instead, and then he feels nothing but shock as Gu Yiliang’s hands touch his waist.
Wait a second! This! This!
Gu Yiliang says, in barely more than a husky murmur, “We need to get you out of these wet clothes.”
This is a fanfic! Wei Yanzi has read this fanfic! Though, in the fanfic, Gu Yiliang said those words because a careless fellow actor spilled champagne down Wei Yanzi’s shirt, not because Wei Yanzi was an idiot who—
The heated touch against his bare skin drives all memory of fanfic and forums from Wei Yanzi’s thoughts. All he can think about is the gentle, determined way Gu Yiliang eases the sweater from his body. He twists and lifts his arms to help, and then he’s shirtless and soaking wet in Gu Yiliang’s arms.
His heart rattles faster and faster, like he’s had five cups of coffee, but instead of caffeine it’s the sheer warmth of Gu Yiliang’s touch, the sheer beauty in his dark gaze. “Gu Yiliang,” he whispers, resting his hands on Gu Yiliang’s chest for balance.
“You’re freezing cold,” Gu Yiliang says, reaching for a towel. He wraps it around his shoulders, starts rubbing down Wei Yanzi’s arms. The movement has them so close together, Gu Yiliang’s arms wrapped around him, holding him in place. It would be so easy for Wei Yanzi to tilt his face up, lean forward, and—
“I got it, I got it.” Wei Yanzi tries to pull the towel out of Gu Yiliang’s hands.
Gu Yiliang’s grip only tightens. His voice lowers, hesitant: “Is it so bad letting me take care of you?”
“It’s not bad,” Wei Yanzi says quickly, but Gu Yiliang still has that hesitant, vulnerable look in his eyes. Between that and the shock of cold and heat, the wet jeans still clinging to him and the warm towel chafing his arms, Wei Yanzi loses the last of his senses. He says, very quietly, “It’s too good. I like you too much.”
There’s a thud. The towel dropping to the tile at their feet. Gu Yiliang touches beneath his chin and gently tilts his face upwards. The other hand falls to Wei Yanzi’s bare waist. “I like you too,” he says. Licks his lips. “And I want you to know this isn’t about the company, or the fans, or—or any other arrangement. I want you to know—”
The chin touch. The waist touch.
The eye contact.
“Oh my god,” Wei Yanzi breathes. “You’re going to kiss me.”
“Yeah.” Gu Yiliang looks as shocked as Wei Yanzi feels. “I guess I am.” His hand slides along Wei Yanzi’s jaw, and the pulse in his fingers beats in time with the pulse in Wei Yanzi’s neck, faster and faster. He leans in.
The kiss is like fireworks. Like magic. Like turquoise waves breaking upon the white sand shore. Like the dark-clouded skies opening up and raining gold confetti across the land. The fangirls were right: even in the stormiest hour, the sunlight of true love will warm the heart.
Wei Yanzi is never carrying his own umbrella ever again.