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There were plenty of other mechanics in town that could perfectly serve Zhu Yilong’s needs. There were closer ones, more experienced ones, certainly cleaner ones, yet at the first sign of a suspicious rattle thunk sound in his crappy old car, Zhu Yilong turned his wheel towards Galaxy Mechanics. 

Zhu Yilong knew that he should just replace his car, but he loved his beat up old antique more than he would care to admit. Yes, there were days that he wished that he didn’t have to cross his fingers every time he turned the key, but the car was family and you didn’t just get rid of family. Though he could at least acknowledge that the money he spent on upkeep every month would be more than enough to buy a brand new car. 

He told himself it was the inexpensive service that kept him coming back to the far side of town, but deep down he knew that reason barely registered. He pushed his way through the door, the little moon and stars wind chime above the door tinkling loudly. The late afternoon sun filtered through the windows, catching the dancing dust motes in its beams. 

“Be with you in a sec!” a voice floated in through the open door to the garage followed by grunting and a few soft curses. Zhu Yilong smiled and leaned his hip against the counter to wait, running his palm over the countertop of the reception desk and wiping it on his jeans. 

The first time he’d found himself walking through the dingy glass door of what would become his regular mechanic he had just broken down on the side of the road a few blocks away. 

-Six months ago-

After begging his little red car to start for the tenth time, Zhu Yilong gave up and admitted that he needed help. Through sheer luck Zhu Yilong’s GPS announced that help was a short fifteen minute walk away so he rolled up his sleeves and turned his feet towards salvation.

He walked into the mechanic’s shop, eyebrows drawing together at the fine layer of dirt on nearly every surface of the waiting room and considered turning around to find another option. Before he could turn to leave, a voice called out to him from the doorway to what he assumed led to the garage itself. 

“Hey! Did you need some help?”

The first thing that struck Zhu Yilong was the happy tone, making him hesitate. When he turned he discovered that the mechanic’s smile matched his voice and Zhu Yilong blinked in surprise. The man was about his age, leaning on the door frame wearing dark blue coveralls with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and the top several buttons opened revealing much of his upper chest. His hair fell into his eyes in gentle waves which he pushed away absentmindedly, leaving a streak of dirt across his forehead and nose. 

Even the walk in the abysmal noonday heat had suddenly felt worth it to see the adorable look on the other man’s face when he realized what he’d done. The look was annoyed but not surprised, like this was not the first time it had happened. 

Zhu Yilong was immediately smitten. 

The mechanic stepped into the waiting area and grabbed a towel that wasn’t much cleaner than his hands, trying to dislodge some of the dirt and grease. Only then did he look at Zhu Yilong fully, his eyes taking in his bedraggled appearance from the walk, then staring at Zhu Yilong’s face with raised eyebrows. After an extended pause- during which neither man moved or broke eye contact- Zhu Yilong finally shook himself out of his stupor enough to speak. 

“Oh, yes, sorry. I broke down a little ways down the road and there was hardly any cell service. I was lucky enough to find your shop on my GPS before I lost signal completely,” Zhu Yilong explained, pushing his own sweaty hair out of his face. 

“Well if that’s the case, let’s go rescue her,” the man chirped, snatching a set of keys from the reception desk and gesturing for Zhu Yilong to follow him. “At least there’s AC in the truck. You want some water?” He stopped at a small refrigerator as they made their way along the side of the building and pulled out two water bottles, tossing one to Zhu Yilong before he could answer. 

The truck ride was strangely comfortable, though Zhu Yilong couldn’t say that he’d ever ridden in a tow truck previously so he didn’t have anything to compare it to. The mechanic kept up light conversation during the short trip- mostly asking questions about the car and shooting him friendly smiles. 

They pulled up to the abandoned car which was still slightly smoking even after almost twenty minutes and the mechanic jumped out with a low whistle. 

“Oh, hello, beautiful,” he crooned, running his hand lovingly over the bright red paint job of Zhu Yilong’s tiny ancient car. He hadn’t asked too many questions when he first bought it, choosing visual love over practicality, though in hindsight he should have been more thorough. “What did he do to you?” 

“Wha- hey!” 

“It’s okay, Bai Yu is gonna take care of you.” He patted the hood affectionately and turned back to the affronted Zhu Yilong. “She probably just overheated- too excited by being driven by such a good looking man.” He winked and Zhu Yilong could only blink in response. The mechanic- Bai Yu apparently- faltered for just an instant before he extended his hand with his easy smile firmly back in place. “Let me take a look. Keys?”

Without comment, Zhu Yilong handed over the keys and let the man get to work. The hood was up and Bai Yu was diving into his engine before his brain finally kickstarted into gear once more. The mechanic’s head popped back up a few minutes later and nodded towards the tow truck. 

“Could you grab my bottle of water and the toolkit out of the truck?” the mechanic asked, pushing his fringe out of his eyes with his forearm and licking at the sweat that was already starting to gather under his mustache. 

Zhu Yilong absolutely did not track the trickle of sweat that ran its way between Bai Yu’s collarbones and resolutely turned towards the truck. It took some digging, but eventually Zhu Yilong found the toolkit behind the passenger seat and returned. The mechanic thanked him and disappeared once more. Zhu Yilong discreetly blew out a silent puff of air, thankful that he could take a moment to reign in his wayward thoughts. 

It had been way too long since he last got laid, apparently. 

“How long has it been an issue?” Bai Yu asked, head still hidden by the hood. 

Zhu Yilong’s head whipped around so fast that he almost hurt his neck. 

“What issue? I didn’t say there was an issue!” Could he read my mind? 

A mop of curly hair poked around the hood and Bai Yu raised an eyebrow. 

“Ah, the issue where your car overheats?” Bai Yu asked, pronouncing each word slowly and looking at Zhu Yilong like he worried that the car wasn’t the only thing overheating. 

“Oh! Uh, it’s not done it in a long time actually,” Zhu Yilong explained, ducking his head to hide the blush he knew was coloring his cheeks. 

“Okay, I think I found the problem. Just a loose hose to your coolant system. I tightened it up and it’s been long enough that it’s probably cool enough now. Go try to start her up.” Bai Yu leaned back and wiped his hands on his coveralls. 

The engine turned over without complaint and Bai Yu smiled at him through the windshield, dropping the hood back into place carefully. 

“You should be good to go,” Bai Yu told him, patting the side panel of the car. “It was good to meet you, take good care of her.” 

“Wait!” Zhu Yilong leaned out of his open car door and the mechanic paused, turning back with a curious head tilt. “How much do I owe you?”

With a smile Bai Yu waved him off. “No charge. Have a good day.” 

Zhu Yilong debated with himself for so long that Bai Yu had already climbed back into his tow truck and took off before he could get the nerve to insist on paying him- or ask for his number. 

 

Zhu Yilong swore that he hadn’t planned to break down yet again in nearly the same spot as last time only two weeks after he first met Bai Yu. After resting his head on the steering wheel for a few minutes and cursing softly, he got out of the car and walked towards the mechanic’s shop once again. He still felt awkward about his sudden interest in the stranger and his inability to do something as simple as ask for his number. The entire fifteen minute walk was spent replaying their first encounter over and over again in his mind until he had worked himself into a proper panic by the time he was opening the door. 

Bai Yu was sitting at the reception desk with his feet propped on the surface, playing a game on his phone. When he looked up at the sound of the door chimes, his grip on his phone fumbled and he scrambled to catch it before it hit the ground. 

“If it isn’t the owner of the beautiful red vintage car of my dreams.” His eyes ran over Zhu Yilong’s once more bedraggled appearance and his lips pursed. “What did you do to her this time?” 

“I swear I’m not doing anything to it!” Zhu Yilong nearly threw his hands in the air in petulant frustration. “It broke down again.” 

Bai Yu pushed himself to his feet. “ She is a classic lady and ladies have needs,” Bai Yu explained, grabbing the tow truck keys once more. “Come on, where’d you end up this time?” 

“The same place as before,” Zhu Yilong mumbled under his breath and Bai Yu shot him an amused smirk. 

“Careful, if you break down there one more time, I might start thinking you’re doing it on purpose.”

This time they towed the car back to the garage so Bai Yu could take a closer look up on the rack. Zhu Yilong sat in the waiting room, scrolling through his phone and pretending not to think about the man working on his car getting hot and sweaty. An hour later, Bai Yu emerged covered in dirt and oil. 

“Well, there was a clog in your radiator vent, but I think I’ve got it all cleaned out now. You should be good to go.” He pulled a rag from his back pocket and wiped his hands. 

“I insist on paying this time,” Zhu Yilong told him, pulling his wallet from his back pocket. 

The mechanic smiled and leaned on the reception desk. “I agree, gotta keep this place running somehow.” 

He named his price and Zhu Yilong handed over his credit card and ID. Bai Yu clicked away at the computer, humming softly to himself. When he lifted the ID card, the mechanic did a double take then squinted at the card, whistling low. 

“Well, Zhu Yilong , you sure are a long way from home. What brought you clear across the city to break down in my neighborhood… twice?” He passed the cards back and turned to the printer. 

“Oh, a work errand actually. I don’t come out this way very often.”

Bai Yu nodded, handing over the print out with the breakdown of the charges. It didn’t escape Zhu Yilong’s notice that he only charged for the labor and not any parts. When he asked, Bai Yu just smiled and explained that he just cleaned it up so he only owed for the labor. 

Paperwork done, Bai Yu handed over his keys. Both men hesitated for a moment before Bai Yu broke the awkward silence with a quiet chuckle. 

“I guess this is goodbye, Zhu Yilong. It was nice to meet you, take care of that special lady.” 

“I will. It was nice meeting you as well, Bai Yu.” He gave a slight bow, fiddling with his keys as the silence stretched tight between them. 

Come on, just ask for his number. 

“I’ve gotta…” Bai Yu gestured towards the open door with a sheepish grin. 

“Right, of course. Have a good one,” Zhu Yilong told him with a small wave and a quick exit. 

Damn it.  

 

Three weeks later, Zhu Yilong was sitting in a fancy waiting room, staring at gleaming car parts hanging on the wall while the smell of fresh rubber assaulted his nose. This time when he started to notice his car acting strangely, he’d decided to be proactive and take it to a local mechanic who specialized in vintage cars. 

He was staring at the proposal for the work that the mechanic suggested. The sheer number of lines made his head swim and he’d not even looked at the total yet. There were parts and disposal fees- and those were the only things he could really decipher from the three page quote. Feeling a headache begin to build at the base of his skull, Zhu Yilong’s hand itched for his cell phone. 

He could just give Bai Yu a call at the shop and ask if these charges were for real or if he was being gouged. Shaking his head, he told himself that he didn’t need the help of the handsome mechanic. As if summoned by Zhu Yilong’s movement, the new mechanic appeared before him wearing a pinched expression and suspiciously clean coveralls. 

“If you want your car back today, you should sign soon so we can get started. It needs a lot of work.” He put his hands on his hips, clearly displeased with Zhu Yilong’s hesitation to just accept the given quote. 

“I have some questions about some of these services,” Zhu Yilong explained, pointing at the first line. “Like this one. What-”

The mechanic let out a dramatic sigh, barely holding back an eye roll and Zhu Yilong’s jaw clenched. 

“Look, you’re obviously not a car guy. Your car is in desperate need of service or it’s going to fall apart as soon as you leave the shop. Do you want us to fix it or not?” 

Zhu Yilong’s lips thinned as he stood, folding the papers in half and tucking them into his bag. The edges of his mouth twitched up in a non-smile that certainly did not reach his eyes. 

“I think I’ll take my chances.” Zhu Yilong held his hand out for the key expectantly. The mechanic opened his mouth to argue, but the look on Zhu Yilong’s face must have told him all he needed to know. He passed over the key with a little more force than absolutely necessary then Zhu Yilong gave a bare nod of his head and turned on his heel. 

An hour later, Zhu Yilong just barely made it to the front of Galaxy Mechanics before the rattling sound became a clunk and the engine gave up with a wheeze. 

Bai Yu saw him approach from his position in the garage and walked out to meet him. 

“Zhu Yilong!” Zhu Yilong did not have long to bask in the fact that the mechanic remembered his name before he was being scolded once more. “I gave you a working vehicle less than a month ago. What happened?”

“It started making a weird sound while I was driving it so I decided to take it to a local mechanic, but this is the quote he gave me.” He pulled the paper from the bag and handed it to the mechanic who took it silently after wiping his hands on his pants. “It looked bogus to me, but when I asked for clarification on the items he blew me off and refused to answer my questions so I left.” He rubbed the back of his head, surveying his car that was now barely clinging to life after the hour long drive. “He may have been right about the urgency in hindsight.”

Bai Yu was flipping through the pages with a darkening scowl. By the time he was finished, Zhu Yilong thought he would rip the paper to shreds. 

“I hate mechanics that take advantage of people’s trust. I especially hate those that won’t explain the costs when asked. I’m sorry about that, Zhu Yilong. At least half of these charges are stupid and I can tell without even looking at the car.” He turned and crumpled up the paper to send it sailing into a nearby garbage can. “Let’s see if we can get your baby purring again, huh?” 

As if there had ever been a doubt, Bai Yu had the car running again, but he did mention that he would need to order a few parts. With a significantly lower bill and an order to come back in a week to get the parts installed, the two men were saying their goodbyes again. 

When he returned a week later, Bai Yu was waiting for him with a smile and a cup of coffee not coaxed out of his ancient coffee maker in the waiting area. He even invited Zhu Yilong into the garage to watch as he worked. With the patience of an elementary school teacher, Bai Yu explained everything he was doing and why- even if the majority of the explanations went over Zhu Yilong’s head. 

He found that he enjoyed watching Bai Yu work and not just because his white tee shirt was becoming increasingly see-through- though it was a perk. The man lit up when he talked about engines; it was clear that he had found his calling in automotive repair. 

A few hours later Zhu Yilong’s car was finished and Bai Yu was wiping away every smudge and speck of dirt left behind. 

“You know, you should really find a steady mechanic for this sweet lady,” Bai Yu told him while he fiddled with a particularly stubborn spot of dirt, not meeting Zhu Yilong’s eyes. “Hopefully, some of the information I gave you will keep you from being fleeced if you want to find someone closer to you.”

Zhu Yilong’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “But I have a steady mechanic. You,” he clarified when Bai Yu looked at him in confusion. 

“Ah, but I’m so far. What if you break down on your side of town and need to be towed? That’s an expensive haul across town,” Bai Yu said slowly. 

“I trust you ,” Zhu Yilong told him simply and Bai Yu’s eyes widened a fraction. “I know you won’t take advantage of my lack of knowledge and you obviously know what you’re doing.” He shrugged with a sheepish smile. “It’s worth the drive for good service.”  

The tips of Bai Yu’s ears turned the faintest shade of pink and he laughed nervously. 

“Oh, well, if you put it like that…” Bai Yu held out his- mostly clean- hand. “I guess I’m your official mechanic.” 

Zhu Yilong took his offered hand- mentally taking note of the work roughened skin of his palm- and shook it gently. 

“Good to have you on the team.” 

 

The roar of an engine and a triumphant cheer brought him back to the present. 

“Sorry about the wait, had to sweet talk that one a bit,” the mechanic called, making his way to the waiting room. 

As soon as he walked in, Zhu Yilong’s heart took off at a gallop. No matter how many times he’d seen Bai Yu since he’d become his official mechanic over three months ago, he still had the same effect on Zhu Yilong’s heart. 

“Well hey there! It’s been, what? A whole month since you came by for your lube job?” Zhu Yilong flushed at the memory- really it was Bai Yu’s fault for calling the work on his car a ‘lube job’ right as he was taking a drink of his coffee. 

“What’s wrong with your baby now?” Bai Yu looked just as good as he did when they first met- mussed hair and splattered with grease that just never completely washed out from his skin or under his nails. Zhu Yilong wondered- not for the first time- what he would look like cleaned up for a date. 

“There’s a bit of a wobble when I drive over forty. I think something might be wrong with my tires?” Zhu Yilong told him, trying to keep the nervousness off of his face. 

“Oh, ho! Look at you diagnosing issues now! Such a good student,” Bai Yu told him, catching the keys that Zhu Yilong tossed through the air. Zhu Yilong beamed at the praise. 

 

After looking at the car up on the rack for over twenty minutes a puzzled look crossed Bai Yu’s expression and he moved to lower the car back down to the ground. 

“Sorry, Zhu Yilong, I can’t see what’s wrong with it from here.” He turned a poorly disguised mischievous smile to Zhu Yilong who sighed, closing the magazine he was reading while he waited. 

“You just want to drive it.” It wasn’t a question. 

The grin that curled Bai Yu’s lips was all the answer he needed, but Zhu Yilong couldn’t find a reason to say no. 

“Just be careful and don’t be gone all night on your joyride,” Zhu Yilong warned, crossing his legs and sitting back in the chair. At least Bai Yu liked his car, he thought a little petulantly. 

“Of course I’ll be careful,” Bai Yu cried, putting a hand over his heart. “And what do you mean gone all night, you’re coming with me.”  

Zhu Yilong blinked at the mechanic who just laughed and grabbed his wrist, dragging him out of the chair and towards the car. “Come on, let’s go for a drive.” 

 

The setting sun painted the sky in a stunning array of pinks and purples as they drove through the streets waiting for the car to repeat its wobbly behavior. Bai Yu drove as if he were in the most comfortable car he’d ever driven; his arm out the window and a gentle smile playing at his lips as he leisurely curved through the winding roads. 

They drove for half an hour trying to replicate the issue, but the car simply purred like a kitten under Bai Yu’s hand. Still they drove, neither man mentioning that the car was working just fine. The city around them began to fall away and suddenly they were pulling into a park that overlooked the city lights which were flickering to life in the distance. The sun was barely a sliver on the horizon as Bai Yu put the car in park and Zhu Yilong realized with a start that they were the only car in sight. 

Zhu Yilong’s heart began to slam against his ribcage. Why did it feel like a date?

“I love this place. It’s where I come to think. Come on,” Bai Yu coaxed, opening the car door and stepping out into the early evening air. To Zhu Yilong’s surprise, Bai Yu reached into the backseat and pulled out a blanket that he’d forgotten was even there. With one good toss, Bai Yu draped it over the trunk of the car and climbed on top. He turned to Zhu Yilong and patted the small space beside him with an inviting smile.

After a beat to let Zhu Yilong’s heart attempt to return to a normal rhythm, Zhu Yilong gave up and climbed onto his car beside the man responsible for his palpitations. They both sat for a few minutes just watching the sun finish sinking below the horizon and the stars wink into existence. 

This far from the city the air was sweet and the first whispers of autumn gave the breeze a gentle bite. Once they were settled, Bai Yu pulled the blanket up over their legs to stave off the chill. 

“I’m sorry that I took up your time. I don’t know why it’s not wobbling now,” Zhu Yilong told him, picking at a bit of his fingernail. 

“It happens,” Bai Yu assured him. “I don’t mind you taking up my time. My appointment book may be full, but you always seem to catch me when it’s slow in the shop.” He laughed to himself. “It’s uncanny, really.” 

Thinking back on it Zhu Yilong was surprised to realize that every time he had visited the shop it was only Bai Yu in the garage, but there were always other cars being maintained- though their owners were never present either. 

“That is weird. I thought you were just the only employee and business was always slow,” Zhu Yilong admitted. 

“If business were that slow all the time, I would no longer be in business,” Bai Yu told him. “I have a few other mechanics that work for me, but like I said, you always seem to come by when it’s just me.” He turned and squinted suspiciously. “You’re not just waiting around the corner for the others to leave, are you?” he asked with a raised eyebrow and a barely contained grin. 

“Of course not!” Zhu Yilong cried and Bai Yu nearly fell off of the car laughing. Zhu Yilong couldn’t help but join in the infectious laughter and soon they were both wiping away tears and gasping for breath. Once they finally calmed down they sat quietly together just being in each other’s presence. 

Zhu Yilong was struck with a desire to hold the man’s hand which was resting on the bit of space on the trunk between their bodies. He debated with himself, weighing the pros and cons of taking the chance. 

Pro: Bai Yu returns the hold and maybe more happens as the night progresses. 

Con: he was reading the situation incorrectly, Bai Yu gets offended, then they spend a supremely awkward ride back together, and Zhu Yilong has to find a new mechanic.  

Oh god.

While Zhu Yilong was busy having an internal crisis, Bai Yu simply sat beside him watching the scenery with a small content smile on his plush mouth. 

“You should really just replace this thing with something more reliable,” Bai Yu told him into the growing darkness. Zhu Yilong turned to watch his profile, thankful for the new discussion to derail his spinning thoughts. 

“Oh, I could never do that,” Zhu Yilong told him honestly.

“Why not? You could easily get something just as sexy that wouldn’t bring you to my door every month.” Bai Yu leaned his head back onto the roof of the car, crossing his arms over his chest with a playful smile. “Not that I mind the business. Or the company.” 

Zhu Yilong scrambled for an answer and the silence stretched longer and heavier between them. How could he tell him that he’d been watching for any little problem just for the excuse to see him again? That he’d been trying to work up the nerve to ask him out since the first day they met? After a full minute, Bai Yu sighed and took pity on Zhu Yilong’s nerves. 

“We should probably get back. It’s time to close up the shop,” Bai Yu told him, carefully sliding off of the trunk and offering a hand to help Zhu Yilong down. He took the time to fold the blanket while Zhu Yilong climbed back into the passenger seat. 

The drive back was only punctuated with the sound of the radio playing softly in the background. Bai Yu drove carefully which Zhu Yilong appreciated, but he couldn’t help but notice that the ease in his posture from their drive out was replaced with a straight back and tight shoulders. 

They arrived to find the shop already closed and dark. 

Zhu Yilong turned a questioning eyebrow to the other man who just shrugged. “I told you I had employees. I texted them earlier to ask if they could close up for me.”

Both men got out and for a moment Zhu Yilong had a visceral reminder of every awkward good night after a first date. He swallowed down the feeling- after all this wasn’t a date. Right?

With a gentle smile and a look that may have been disappointment, Bai Yu passed the keys back to Zhu Yilong- their fingers brushing for an instant. 

“Well, she seems to be fine now. Come back if it starts happening again.” The mechanic looked down, kicking at the gravel beneath their feet. When he raised his head, his signature sunny smile was firmly in place. “Have a good night.” 

He turned on his heel without waiting for Zhu Yilong’s response. Though, if he were honest with himself, Zhu Yilong could not have formulated any response after their fingers brushed. 

Zhu Yilong sat down heavily in the driver’s seat of his car, watching Bai Yu walk steadily towards his vespa through the slightly dusty windshield. He had teased the mechanic about his ride until he realized just how much he loved the scooter. The affronted rant that had followed was both adorable and frightening. 

Bai Yu slung his leg over his vespa and gave Zhu Yilong a little wave before pulling his helmet on and starting it up. He watched the mechanic drive away with a longing lodged painfully tight in his chest. 

Zhu Yilong sat in his car with his head on his steering wheel. He’d been so determined to ask him out this time, but he’d chickened out. Again. He dropped his forehead to the wheel a few times then sat back. That’s when he spotted it in his rearview mirror. 

A note laying on top of the blanket in the backseat illuminated by the street light above.  

He twisted himself around to reach back and retrieve the little paper, moving so quickly that his back popped in protest. 

Long-ge, 

I must confess: I fixed the car before our drive. I just wanted to go for a ride with you. 

Until next time, 

Bai Yu

He sat there staring at the scrawled handwriting wondering how long that note had been sitting there. When had Bai Yu written it? It must have been while the car was still up on the rack. 

His pulse picked up and a roaring sound filled his ears. Bai Yu wanted to spend time with him. With a flicker of hope in his heart, Zhu Yilong put his car in gear and headed home. He had some planning to do. 

 

The next day Zhu Yilong pulled into the parking lot of Galaxy Mechanics a few minutes after they opened. Bai Yu’s vespa was parked near one of the bay doors which rose to reveal the garage beyond. He scanned the parking lot- not another soul in sight- this was his chance. 

Zhu Yilong had barely scraped together a handful of hours of sleep the previous night while his mind turned over what he would say to Bai Yu. He had practiced his speech on the entire drive over. The plan was to speak to Bai Yu alone, tell him that he’d had a great time on their drive and that he’d like to take him out on an official date. He was even willing to let Bai Yu drive his car again as incentive for the mechanic to say yes. 

He was terrified of rejection- it had held his tongue captive during every one of their previous encounters, but he wasn’t going to let that stand in the way. If he had read all the signs completely wrong, then he would just break down and buy a new car so he didn’t need a steady- gorgeous- mechanic. 

A figure was moving around inside the garage so Zhu Yilong took a deep breath and climbed out of his car. The words he’d prepared played on a loop in his mind: Bai Yu, I had a great time last night and I want to know if you’d like to grab coffee some time.

He could do this. He was ready. 

Bai Yu turned when he noticed the man’s approach, stepping out of the garage and raising his hand in a greeting. This early in the morning, Bai Yu was still clean and his coveralls were completely unzipped showing the white tee shirt and waistband of his jeans below. His hair was slicked back from his face, still slightly damp from his shower and his beard was neatly trimmed. This is what he would look like on a date, Zhu Yilong thought to himself. 

“Long-ge! Back so soon? You know, the guys are going to start thinking that I’m making you up if you keep showing up when they’re not here. I think some of them already believe that you’re imaginary whenever I bring up the hot guy with the sweet ride,” Bai Yu joked, reaching down to zip up his coveralls. 

At this point Zhu Yilong was close enough to smell his cologne. He couldn’t say if it was that or the fact that Bai Yu talked about him with his employees that shattered Zhu Yilong’s plans, but suddenly all he could do was reach out and grab Bai Yu by the collar and seal his lips against that plush mouth. For only an instant, Bai Yu stood frozen to the spot, hands out to his sides and still as a statue as Zhu Yilong’s mouth moved over his. Then Bai Yu’s brain caught up with what was happening and his arms slid around Zhu Yilong’s waist, gripping the fabric of his shirt in his fists and pulling them closer. 

Zhu Yilong hummed appreciatively into the kiss when Bai Yu’s tongue flicked out to tease the seam of his lips. He opened his mouth to grant the access Bai Yu had so sweetly asked for and reveled in the way Bai Yu’s tongue slid against his own. The scant bit of air he was able to draw through his nose was not enough for his racing heart and Zhu Yilong pulled away when he began to see bright bursts of color behind his closed eyes. Bai Yu’s hand came up to rest against his jaw and Zhu Yilong turned his face to nuzzle his palm which still smelled faintly of motor oil even when clean. 

“Not the greeting I was expecting, but definitely the one I was hoping for,” Bai Yu breathed, his voice huskier than usual. “Did you come all this way just to kiss me?” He ran his thumb over Zhu Yilong’s bottom lip- which he valiantly did not bite. 

“The plan was actually to come and ask you for coffee, but I saw you and you said you talked to your employees about me and you look so clean and you smell so good and I-” Zhu Yilong pressed his lips together to physically stem the flow of words from his mouth. 

The mirth dancing in Bai Yu’s eyes soothed some of his embarrassment and he smiled sheepishly. 

“Coffee sounds great,” Bai Yu agreed and Zhu Yilong smiled into the kiss when Bai Yu leaned in to claim his lips once more. 

A cheer from behind them made the pair jump apart like scalded cats. Zhu Yilong turned to see a group of three men dressed in coveralls identical to Bai Yu’s grinning smugly and whistling loudly. 

“Get it boss!”

“Oh, he is cute.”

“See, I told you he was real.”

One of the mechanics dug into his pocket and passed over a twenty to one of the others who looked like the cat that got the canary. 

“Hey! You guys took bets?” Bai Yu sounded both annoyed and proud which made the corners of Zhu Yilong’s lips twitch up. “You know what? Just for that, I’m taking the day off.” He tossed his keys at one of the other mechanics who groaned in response, but Bai Yu was already moving towards Zhu Yilong’s car with a firm grip on his hand. “I’m going to get coffee. Make sure to lock up at the end of the day and don’t break anything.”

Zhu Yilong shot him a startled look and glanced at the three employees who appeared fondly annoyed with their boss. 

“Are you sure they’ll be okay?” Zhu Yilong asked as he climbed into the passenger seat of his own car. 

“Yeah, they’ll be fine. Besides,” Bai Yu leaned over the center console and stole a quick kiss, his hand sliding down to rest on Zhu Yilong’s thigh. “I want to take a drive and get some coffee with this guy I’ve had a crush on for months. It’s been torture waiting to see if the feelings were mutual.”

Zhu Yilong’s mouth dropped open and he nearly kicked himself. They could have been doing this for months already? He laughed and shook his head at his own stupidity for not saying anything sooner. He laid his hand over Bai Yu’s on his leg and leaned in for another kiss. 

“Drive and find out,” he murmured against Bai Yu’s lips and felt his answering smile, then the engine roared to life, and they tore out of the parking lot and out onto the open road. 

 

The next morning Zhu Yilong woke to the smell of coffee. He sat up in bed, the blankets falling from his naked chest and turned to see Bai Yu standing in his kitchen wearing nothing but a pair of Zhu Yilong’s boxers. Glancing around his apartment he took in the trail of clothes that led from the door to his bed and smiled. 

“Morning,” Bai Yu called, drawing his attention back to the kitchen where the mechanic was holding two mugs of steaming coffee. He sauntered over with his usual confident stride which hit much differently when he was only wearing boxers. Zhu Yilong tried not to stare. He failed. 

The smug smile told Zhu Yilong that Bai Yu had noticed his appreciative perusal. He passed a mug to Zhu Yilong then sat next to him on the bed, dropping a kiss onto his bare shoulder. 

“I hope you don’t mind.” He gestured towards his lower half. “Mine were pretty much destroyed last night and I couldn’t find my shirt.” 

Zhu Yilong waved away his concern, taking a sip of his coffee and hummed- perfectly made. “I think your shirt might still be in my car.” 

The memory of the night before which had started in Zhu Yilong’s car came to mind and the two shared a sly smile. It had been years since he got hot and heavy with anyone in a car, but they had spent almost an hour in the small confines steaming up the windows. 

Bai Yu plucked the coffee mug from Zhu Yilong’s fingers and laid both vessels on the side table before dragging a still protesting Zhu Yilong to the mattress. 

“You know what this means, right?” Bai Yu asked between playful kisses to Zhu Yilong’s neck and collarbones. 

“What’s that?” Zhu Yilong managed to ask before Bai Yu’s mouth completely turned his mind to mush. 

“You can never get rid of that car,” Bai Yu told him seriously and they both laughed trading playful kisses that slowly became something that set their skin ablaze. 

They drank their coffee cold that morning.