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just like old times

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Zhu Yilong opens the door to his trailer and begins to unpack the essentials he’s taken along. He pulls out his day-to-day clothes and arranges them neatly in his little wardrobe. From his suitcase, he takes out a novel he had been reading to prepare for a new drama. He places it on his bedside table, ready to do some reading when he has the time.

After he is done, he settles down on his bed and slowly breathes out in an attempt to steady his wildly beating heart. He wipes the palms of his hands on his pants as he sits upright, glancing at his phone on his bedside table. He has about ten minutes before he has to get his makeup done and costume fitted.

He’s nervous and excited. It isn’t because of the enormous cast or the people he would be working with for this film, but because he will reunite with Bai Yu on the same set.

Lifting his hand, he reaches into his shirt to pull out his feather necklace. Gently, he caresses the feather as he reminisces the time when they’d started filming Guardian.

He remembers he hadn’t really spoken extensively to anyone. But that changed when he had gradually warmed up to Bai Yu. At first, it was only a smile and a simple, courteous greeting with each other. Somehow along the way, he had fallen into Bai Yu’s pace, laughing with him and cracking jokes he never really used to make. Before he knew it, he was occasionally slouching more and leaning a little more towards the man. His smiles were getting increasingly relaxed and laughter more audible. Whenever they took breaks, they would sometimes be off in their little corner, playing their games, discussing about matters unrelated to work, or simply talking about what to have for breakfast the next day.

They are now on a different set, but he wonders: can he repeat the same actions this time? What sort of face should he make when he sees Bai Yu? Would Bai Yu be excited to see him? Would they fall back into the same rhythm they’d grown used to over the course of filming for Guardian? Perhaps he can find another noodle shop nearby so they can both have breakfast together?

A knock comes from his door and that snaps him out of his reverie. It is time for his makeup and costume fitting.

Once that is all done, he is ushered to the set.

Immediately, he recognizes Bai Yu in his chair with his head down, reading his script. Zhu Yilong breathes out again, the corners of his lips twitching, threatening to break into a grin.

Excited, he quickly greets the director and the other cast members as he makes his way to Bai Yu.

Seated with a leg crossed over the other, Bai Yu has his head lowered and reviewing his script. Zhu Yilong has always loved seeing this—a serious-looking Bai Yu in full concentration. He feels a sense of pride as a friend, and as someone who is lucky enough to be able to work twice with him.

With his script in his hands, he settles down in the chair to Bai Yu’s right and begins reviewing his own script. That overwhelming sense of familiarity washes over him as he sits beside Bai Yu. Neither of them exchange words for a while.

Then, he gets an idea.

With a playful smile on his face, he looks up from his script and turns to Bai Yu, extending his hand.

“Hello, I’m Zhu Yilong.”

Bai Yu looks at him, eyes twinkling. With a knowing smile, he takes Zhu Yilong’s hand and grasps it firmly.

“Hello, I’m Bai Yu.”

Then, they both break into a soft laughter.

When they stop, Bai Yu is the first to speak. His contagious wide smile is making Zhu Yilong return it full force, too.

Waggling his eyebrows, Bai Yu eyes Zhu Yilong. “Long-ge, looking good!”

“So do you.”

“Have you had your lunch yet?”

“Yes, I have,” nods Zhu Yilong, before remembering that he had a passing thought earlier. “Oh, right. I was thinking of searching online for a noodle shop in this area.”

“One step ahead of you there! I’ve found one already.” Then, Bai Yu pulls his phone from his pant pocket and opens his MeChat. “I’ll send you details about the shop on MeChat?”

“Sure,” nods Zhu Yilong as he pulls out his phone as well, checking the message Bai Yu has sent. It’s a link to a food review and address of the shop. “What about seven in the morning tomorrow?”

“Deal.”

“Oh, and how about a few rounds of Honor of Queens tonight?”

“No sleep?”

“It’s only just a few rounds!”

Just like before, it is a rhythm that nobody else can keep up with, a rhythm unique to only the both of them.

“Bai-laoshi!” A shout from a staff comes from across the room, calling for Bai Yu. The staff nods apologetically at them.

Bai Yu utters a ‘be right back’ as he gets up and accidentally drops his script. He bends to pick it up, and as he does so, Zhu Yilong catches a glimpse of a silver chain from Bai Yu’s unbuttoned shirt. He watches Bai Yu jog over to the staff who called for him.

Zhu Yilong smiles softly, comforted that Bai Yu is also wearing that necklace today. He raises his hand, gently palming his own through his shirt as he gets back to his script.

He knows this filming is going to go well.