"You're talking in your sleep, all the time
Well, you still make sense to me
Your mess is mine."
It’s late when they call it a night; FengSong and Chen When have long since left for the company apartments, leaving WeiZhou and JingYu stumbling out from the karaoke bar at god knows what time in the morning.
The streets are near-empty at this hour though there are still university students searching vainly for open bars, laughing as they stagger drunkenly down the sidewalk. WeiZhou watches them for a moment, right across the street, thinking about how not too long ago he’d been one of them too. He’s not any older than they are but it feels like lifetimes ago that he’d allowed himself to be carefree and silly. He glances up at JingYu who squints at the phone in his hand before flashing him a half-smile. “Let’s go home,” JingYu says. “Before anyone notices we’re missing.”
They pass shuttered storefronts, restaurants whose chairs are up on the tables, a lone 24-hour convenience store chain playing cheery holiday music so early in the year. It’s JingYu who manages to flag down a taxi and hustle WeiZhou into the backseat where WeiZhou’s head immediately finds JingYu’s shoulder by proximity, if nothing else. The interior of the taxi smells like limes, but JingYu’s smell is cleaner, more mineral: stale cologne, and that musty t-shirt smell that you get after wearing the same shirt for awhile. It’s not half-bad. WeiZhou falls asleep almost immediately. He’s jostled awake after what feels like a second later, and they’re back home again on a familiar street, lit with LED lights rippling from billboards on neighbouring buildings. JingYu hands the cabbie some money then squeezes WeiZhou’s knee as he hoists himself out of the door. “We’re here,” he says, one hand on the roof of the cab, head ducked inside. His breath stirs the cold air. “Wake up, ZhouZhou. Wake up, hey.” He gives WeiZhou a few taps on the cheek.
WeiZhou moans in protest, rubs his eyes, stifling a big yawn. “Already?”
“You’ve been asleep for nearly an hour,” JingYu tells him, shaking his head as he laughs.
WeiZhou follows JingYu into the building where the security guard raises an eyebrow at them but wisely keeps his mouth shut. WeiZhou had dreamt a little in the cab, but he can’t seem to fathom what it had been about. Something about a lake, maybe. He remembers water.
WeiZhou yawns again and leans against the wall behind him, and as soon as his eyes meet JingYu’s in the reflective chrome surface of the elevator doors, they burst out laughing. WeiZhou rubs his eyes, feeling them watering in the corners. He’d neglected to wear his contacts that day, had misplaced his glasses and left the apartments without remembering to look for them, when JingYu invited the three of them to his favourite karaoke bar in Hengshan Road. FengSong had been the first one to get drunk, crying into his beer and challenging everyone to a fist fight, something Chen Wen remembered to document on his phone so he could blackmail him for Starbucks coffee in the morning.
Normally WeiZhou didn’t let himself get too drunk when around unfamiliar company, but he’d been verging on tipsy all night long, downing shot after shot as soon as the young ones had left, nervous around JingYu somehow, without knowing exactly why. JingYu is friendly enough once you get to know him, but WeiZhou is still finding it hard to get a good read on him sometimes. JingYu with his open laugh, JingYu with his hand curled over the back of WeiZhou’s neck, JingYu with his close-lippedness over his private life, how he never volunteers any personal information unless you shared with him a secret. All of him, still a mystery.
The elevators open with a soft ding. JingYu holds it open and WeiZhou ducks under his arm and heads for their door but he can’t seem to fit the keycard in the slot with his eyesight gone bad and swimmy. It’s half the alcohol and half the lack of glasses. JingYu does him the honors, swiping the card from his hand with a soft cluck of the tongue like WeiZhou is some kid that needs chiding. JingYu flicks the lights on and WeiZhou blinks against the sudden flood of light. Everything is as they’ve left it: the bed mussed up with the covers peeled back, clothes spilling out of suitcases in a haphazard mess, the closet door left slightly ajar, JingYu’s prized skateboard leaning against the wall. The curtains had been pulled back, the light outside softened by the dew on the windows.
WeiZhou doesn’t know why he expects anything less. He walks to the bed, sits on top of the covers, running his hands over the indentations he’s left this morning. Then he plants himself facedown into the pillows, kicking his shoes off and shucking off his jacket. He hears the bathroom door open and close, and JingYu’s loud off-key humming; he hears the shower going, and then, a second later: music issuing from JingYu’s phone. He likes to sing in the shower, even though he gets the words and notes wrong.
WeiZhou laughs as he heaves himself up onto his feet. He can’t imagine what he smells like right now: cigarettes, probably, alcohol, and sweat, and it won’t be fair to JingYu if he goes to bed rank. He roots for bedclothes in his suitcase until he remembers his last clean pair of pyjamas are still in the wash. The dinosaur onesie - a gag gift from Chai Jidan gie who’d gotten Chen Wen and WeiZhou a pair each - suddenly comes to mind in a stroke of inspiration. It sits slung over the back of a chair and WeiZhou remembers it to be comfortable enough that he decides, why the hell not? It’s only for sleeping, anyway; it isn’t like there are cameras around. He puts it on with some difficulty — inebriation does wonders to his coordination — and waits in bed for JingYu to finish in the bathroom so he can finally brush his teeth. But he falls asleep right away, phone clutched in one hand and lying on his stomach, jolted back into wakefulness when JingYu shakes his shoulder.
“Hey,” JingYu is saying, tipping him onto his back gently. “You’re going to make yourself sick lying down like that, and what’s more, you’re hogging the bed.” He grins, his teeth showing, and WeiZhou blinks again to focus on the details of his face: the thick eyebrows, the stubble he’s too lazy to shave at this hour, the long lashes. WeiZhou is near-sighted but he can see certain details to a degree, and most especially when JingYu is close enough that WeiZhou can smell the brand of soap he uses. Ivory. He isn’t entirely uncomfortable by their closeness, but it still makes his stomach curl when JingYu’s thumb brushes the back of his ear.
“Have some water,” says JingYu all of a sudden, pulling WeiZhou up by the arm. “Up, up, you lazy brat, or you’ll hate yourself in the morning! Up!”
WeiZhou lets himself be dragged upward though not without protest. “Ugh, my head hurts.”
“It’ll hurt less in the morning if you drink some water, now come on, don’t be a kid, get up!”
JingYu hands him a glass of water once he’s more or less upright. WeiZhou misses his mouth a few times, spilling a bit of water all over his front but it takes awhile before his brain catches up to his words. “Shit,” he hisses belatedly. “Shit.” He laughs when he misses his mouth for the fourth time and JingYu snorts at him.
“What a kid,” JingYu murmurs, shaking his head. “Here.” He reaches for something on the nightstand, and WeiZhou blinks when JingYu slides his glasses over his eyes, pushing them up the bridge of his nose with his index finger. It’s like his world is suddenly in technicolour, and he’s no longer seeing everything through the bottom of a murky shot glass.
“I found these on the bathroom sink,” JingYu says, tapping him on the forehead with a finger. “You need to be careful where you leave your things, ZhouZhou. I knocked them to the floor and almost stepped on them!”
“I can wear contacts,” WeiZhou protests, because it seems like it’s important somehow to argue.
“Nah,” JingYu says. “You look better in glasses, anyway. More fresh.” He sets the glass of water aside and tugs WeiZhou’s hood over his head, covering his eyes.
“Thanks,” WeiZhou says, not sure how to respond to the compliment, especially when JingYu’s looking at him like that, like he’s thinking of doing something monumentally stupid and knows WeiZhou would let him get away with it. It’s giving WeiZhou a headache, so he closes his eyes and presses his fingers to his temple.
And then JingYu touches his wrist, stopping him from fiddling with the hood of his dinosaur onesie.
WeiZhou looks at him, JingYu with his posture so full of ease WeiZhou is almost envious, his wrist in Jingyu’s grip. “Can I kiss you?” JingYu asks.
WeiZhou blinks dumbly at him before spluttering. “W-what? What did you just say?”
“Can I kiss you?” JingYu asks firmly, the resolve in his voice sure and steady. The guy doesn’t miss a beat.
“Is-is that something you should even be asking right now? You’re drunk, and so am I!”
“You’re sober enough to answer, so I’m asking again: can I kiss you?” JingYu, starting to sound a little impatient. He doesn’t let WeiZhou’s wrist go, and WeiZhou doesn’t have the energy to pull it back, anyway, even though JingYu’s grip is loose.
“Why are you asking me?”
“I don’t want you to run,” JingYu says, shrugging, like it’s obvious. “Or hit me.” Then he adds, softly, “Or turn into a pumpkin or something.”
“That’s the wrong fairytale, stupid,” WeiZhou snorts.
“Does it matter?” JingYu shrugs again. “WeiZhou,” he says, and his voice is even softer now, the way Gu Hai’s voice gets when he implores Bai Luo Yin. There’s tenderness in his eyes too and it makes WeiZhou panicky, like a caged bird, his heart doing summersaults though he schools his face to look largely impassive.
“Look at me,” JingYu says, his thumb stroking WeiZhou’s pulse. “Look.” His other hand tips WeiZhou’s chin up and WeiZhou, for the first time since he’s met JingYu, looks him square in the eye - but he can’t seem to hold his gaze.
“I don’t like guys,” he says, staring at the fingers cuffing his wrist; it’s the closest he can get to the truth without lying. “Not like that, anyway.”
JingYu lets WeiZhou’s wrist go, once and for all, and it seems like a lifetime before he speaks again.
“I don’t like other guys, either,” JingYu says, shrugging. “I just like you.”
“So where does that leave us then, huh?” WeiZhou says, self-deprecating.
It startles a laugh out of JingYu, and he leans in close again. WeiZhou fights every instinct to run, to put up fists, but he feels a cataclysm coming, unmoored by JingYu’s sudden tenderness, the way he gently takes WeiZhou’s glasses and folds them on the nightstand next to the glass of water.
“Now can I kiss you?” JingYu asks, and he sounds so earnest WeiZhou doesn’t have the heart to turn him down. He nods, just the once, and JingYu kisses him, his hands cradling WeiZhou’s face, but this time, WeiZhou doesn’t fight it the way he often does when they’re acting. He wraps his arms around JingYu’s waist and takes the kiss, and when JingYu goes to pull away, WeiZhou doesn’t let him.
When they break for air, WeiZhou’s eyes are swimming, and it takes maybe four blinks before the world is in sharp focus again. He shuts his eyes, hard, and can almost hear JingYu smiling when he says, “There, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” And then: “ZhouZhou, open your eyes,” and WeiZhou does.