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Four Clowns Return to Olden Times

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“The gore isn’t very realistic in this one,” Xie Lian commented idly as the first victim spurted blood on screen.

“Why do we have to watch this trash? At least put on a thriller if we’re going to watch horror.” Mu Qing rolled his eyes at the exaggerated music blaring from the television.

“I wanted to watch one of the ones we used to watch as kids.”

“Those we’re all trash.”

“Wait,” Feng Xin stiffened suddenly. “This isn’t the one with the sex scene is it?”

“Oh my god, you’re not a virgin anymore are you really still going to be squeamish about a little nudity?”

“It wasn’t just a little!”

“We never watched anything with a sex scene?” Xie Lian looked over at Feng Xin, the movie currently on some boring transition scene anyways.

“We absolutely did.” Feng Xin crossed his arms, though it was obvious he didn’t remember enough about that time to have any identifiers for what the offending movie had been.

“He’s talking about the make out scene where the girl took off her top.” Leave it to Mu Qing to actually be able to remember the details.

“Oh.” Xie Lian could vaguely recall that. A snort bubbled up, turning to full blown laughter as the memory resurfaced. “That’s right you choked on your drink and ran out of the room.”

“I thought we were over this,” Feng Xin groaned.

None of the jump scares ever got you but you acted like the killer burst into my room when that scene came on,” Xie Lian snickered.

Mu Qing smirked. “Did you run out of the room screaming the first time your girlfriend took off her shirt too?”

“Shut up, I—“

“Shh, the serial killer is coming on again.” Xie Lian grabbed popcorn in both hands to shove it into his friends’ mouths. They may have grumbled a little, but they quieted to watch the gruesome hacking and slashing with him.

The quiet didn’t last long.

“This is the movie equivalent of junk food,” Mu Qing complained as the killer stalked his victim through the woods. No doubt it was supposed to be a suspenseful scene where he could jump out at any moment, but none of them were particularly susceptible to jump scares, especially when they were as obvious as this.

“I rented a psychological horror too, we can watch that next.” Xie Lian promised.

“You’re such a movie snob.”

“I’m sorry I have standards for the things I consume.”

Xie Lian sighed and grabbed the remote, turning up the volume. Shrill screams filled his apartment as blood that was much too red to be realistic took over the screen.

***

“So wait, it's just a metaphor for classism?” Feng Xin had succumbed to the position of Xie Lian’s headrest shortly after the new movie had been put on.

“Is that really all you’re getting out of this? It’s more nuanced than that.” Mu Qing shook his head, eyes glued to the screen.

“Why are you acting like this is some cultured movie, it’s hardly better than the last one, it just has less gore.”

“Are you serious? The only plot the last one had was that a killer was on the loose.”

“Don’t fight, I picked this one with you both in mind.”

“Really?” Feng Xin furrowed his brow. “You thought I’d like this?”

“En.” Xie Lian ate a bit of popcorn. “There’s no women in the cast.”

Feng Xin let out a betrayed squawk of indignation. “I’ll take away my shoulder.” He threatened.

Xie Lian tilted his head to grin at him. “San Lang is coming home soon, I don’t mind.”

Feng Xin sighed, but didn’t bother pushing Xie Lian away. He wouldn’t have anyways, it was always an empty threat.

***

The three of them were silent, focus joined on the scene in front of them. Even the television was quiet except for the too loud sounds of breathing from the main character as he hid. The sound of a doorknob rattled on screen, echoing through the apartment.

Then, practically in time with the movie, the front door of Xie Lian’s apartment clicked open.

Xie Lian sat up, happy to hear the sound, and peered into the dark towards the entrance to try to catch sight of his boyfriend. “Welcome home!”

“Gege’s still watching movies?” Hua Cheng came over to give him a kiss hello, momentarily blocking the screen.

“It’s the climax scene, do you really have to do this?” Mu Qing complained.

Xie Lian tugged Hua Cheng down into his lap, much to the dismay of his friends who now had to deal with the stray limbs of his beanpole of a boyfriend.

Hua Cheng did his best to settle in Xie Lian’s lap though, nuzzling in close. It was rather similar to a big dog attempting to be a lap dog, but Xie Lian didn’t mind in the slightest, focusing back in on the movie as his boyfriend squeezed his hand lovingly.

***

“The effects in this one are pretty realistic,” Hua Cheng mused. The couch had rearranged with the movie change, back to the gory slashers Xie Lian and Feng Xin preferred but still with enough plot to satisfy more ‘intellectual’ tastes. Xie Lian was now comfortably settled in his boyfriend’s lap, acting as his chin rest.

“You think so? I think the killer’s form is a little weak.”

“You are the only person I know who critiques fictional serial killers on their form,” Mu Qing sighed.

“The only one I know too,” Hua Cheng agreed, but sounded hopelessly in love about it. “Gege is so knowledgeable.”

“San Lang is the knowledgeable one, I just know a lot about the one thing.”

“Jack of all trades, master of none. Gege is much more impressive to me.”

“Please don’t make us ban your boyfriend from movie nights,” Feng Xin gave the happy couple a wary look.

“Gege I didn’t even do anything that time, do you see how they bully me?” Hua Cheng’s fake pout could be heard in his voice.

“Xie Lian, if you start flirting I will leave, the movie isn’t good enough to stop me.” Mu Qing threatened.

Despite not having done much, Xie Lian felt properly chastised and quieted, settling for stealing a quick kiss to his boyfriend’s hand. Hua Cheng kissed the top of his head in response and Xie Lian smiled as the second victim choked on their own blood.

***

All four of them could watch the goriest of scenes without batting an eye or feeling any qualms about eating a meal. Jump scares had a pretty low success rate on their group. More psychological terror tactics often prompted discussion between them, but rarely did it keep them up at night.

But there was one thing always guaranteed to get Feng Xin.

“FUCKING HELL!” He covered his eyes like he was thirteen and in the Xie family living room again.

The rest of them burst out laughing. A shower scene. Feng Xin had sat through guts getting ripped out of a character while they were still alive without flinching but the shower scene had him crumbling.

“FAST FORWARD IT!”

Xie Lian grabbed for the remote.

“No, gege, what if it’s important to the plot,” Hua Cheng teased.

“ITS FUCKING NOT, FAST FORWARD IT!” Feng Xin yelled as exaggerated moaning came from the television. Really, who moaned washing their hair?

“They always kill the people in the shower, it could be important.” Hua Cheng maintained.

“I’ll mute it.” Xie Lian offered as a middle ground.

“You are thirty-five years old. There is no way you never saw Jian Lan naked.” Mu Qing leaned against the armrest.

“That’s different!”

“Oh look, the killer is back,” Hua Cheng remarked.

Feng Xin uncovered his eyes just in time for a full ass shot. “You bastard!” He covered his eyes again.

Xie Lian tried to keep his laughter to a minimum. “I’ll tell you when the shower scene is done.”

Thank you.

Xie Lian brought his boyfriend’s hand to his lips to kiss as he had periodically since he’d come home. They were a long way (and an extra body) away from the horror movie marathons of their adolescence, but Xie Lian thought the home they had here was even better than the nostalgia. Surrounded by his favorite people, it was moments like this that reminded him what happiness really was all about.