Luhan was the only person to tell him he was beautiful.
At first, the idea of being referred to as such was irritating at best. It was in Yixing’s firm belief that no man in his late twenties with a master’s in business administration wanted such a description hanging over his head in public. But Kun Luhan was an eccentric fellow with his big, doe-like eyes and his bright smile, and it was difficult to counter his allegations. So the first time the older man slipped in his two cents regarding his glorious mug, as he so believed, he let it slide. Because he was a diligent, hardworking man. No words of proposed prettiness could bring him down.
His best friend, a shorter man with puffy cheeks and an even puffier attitude, always told him he was too handsome for his own good. That kind of description was OK with Yixing; it played on his masculinity and he liked to feel good in front of his peers. Sure, his obsession with sweet things and spacing out sometimes rose one too many eyebrows, but at least he countered his hard-wired habits with daily trips to the gym and downtime at the pub’s pool table. So yes, Yixing believed very much so that the description deemed onto him by the Beijing-native waiter at the quaint cafe across from his workplace was indeed uncalled for. But, being a nice guy, of course he let it slide.
His boss, a man two years his junior with the darkest hair and the heaviest eye bags in the history of man, told him he was fresh and juicy. Yixing wanted to take offense but couldn’t, solely because he knew the the phrase was off the Legend of Korra, and damn it if he would ever take offense to anything referenced back to that particular program. Too old to be watching cartoons, you say? Nay, Yixing would reply. No one ever called Bolin and Mako beautiful, so that wiry waiter with the big brown eyes and blinding smile shouldn’t have called him that either. It was what he believed, and it was what he planned to stick to.
But like everything in the world without a reason to be here, his resolve to let it slide crumbled. Beyond dust particles, he realized one evening as he finished the last of his paperwork and readied himself for his three-day weekend. Because in all his years of breathing, studying, growing up, growing out of, and settling in- he was never actually complimented. Min Seok doesn’t count, he griped with himself. Best friends were obligated to throw random compliments, he huffed. But even then, Min Seok had never called him beautiful. Athletic? Sure. Ditzy? Like a boss. Smart? Well, yeah. But beautiful? No one crossed that threshold, and definitely not the puffy cheeked attorney with the endless supply of sweater vests.
So when he walked into the little cafe and went to his usual table that particular evening, he decided he wanted to confront the waiter for his fleeting comment. Yes, fleeting. No, Yixing wasn’t making a big deal out of it. It was perfectly healthy of him to try and question why on earth a man wearing eyeliner at twenty-nine with gangly limbs and wind-torn hair would dare refer to him, a man in perpetual crisp suits with an expensive watch and using excellent hair products, as beautiful. There was nothing beautiful about it, he grumbled silently.
Nothing beautiful about his wide brown eyes, his magical dimple that came and went as it pleased, or his dark brown hair that was cut in the latest fashion. His limbs were too long, his fingers too thin, his skin too pale. His feet were too big, his elbows always dry no matter how much moisturizer he applied, and his lips remained chapped regardless of the healthy dose of lip balm he applied every hour. His waist is that of that of a dancer’s even though he only knew the fox-trot, and he wasn’t beautiful, god damn it, and he’d explain this fact very clearly to the waiter who was well on his way with his preferred drink even though he hadn’t ordered a thing yet.
“Chai with just a dash of cinnamon and a teaspoon of honey, beautiful.” The older man chirped, placing the cup down next to his briefcase.
It was that word again, and now it was being used as a noun. Yixing wanted to twitch.
“I’m not beautiful,” he found himself snapping back. “If I wanted your input on my face, I would have asked. So I’d prefer it if you keep your comments to yourself and just do your job instead of running your mouth every minute.”
The waiter cocked his head to the side and stared for two seconds before straightening himself again and bowing his head respectfully. He then turned around and walked away without looking back, and Yixing couldn’t help but let a satisfying smirk overtake his features. Dignity saved, and it wasn’t even eight yet. This called for a celebration.
Except, during the remainder of that stay in the cafe on that particular night, a different server came to him with his snack instead of Luhan. And she didn’t ask him about his day at work, or how is puffy cheeked friend was doing, or if his boss had finally scored a date with that tall accountant that had the permanent scowl etched on his face. She didn’t ask if he wanted a refill on his chai, so he had to tell her. She didn’t ask if he wanted an extra slice of cheesecake with that since he had such a sweet tooth, so he had to politely ask. Six-thirty became nine o’clock, and Luhan had disappeared from his table and his sight, and when he went to pay the tab at the counter, no one said goodnight.
His dignity didn’t feel so good when he left.
Since he didn’t have work for the following few days, he decided housekeeping, buying more regional sweets, and guzzling down sweetened chai was the way to go. So he cleaned his apartment, then took a bath to relieve the knots in his muscles, cleaned some more, called Min Seok, joined him at the gym, came home again and took yet another hot bath before putting on a pair of worn jeans and a v-neck and heading to the cafe overlooked by Huang Zi Tao’s firm.
And when he went inside, he immediately went to the counter and asked for the Beijing-native with the big eyes and the wide smile.
“It’s his day off,” the cake-server replied.
Yixing blinked because in the past six months that he’d been frequenting the small cafe, Kun Luhan never actually had the day off when he walked in. And he walked in everyday. So he was never actually off.
Yixing blinked and the woman behind the glass case chuckled at his befuddled expression. “Boss will be back later, I think. He’s off to get supplies, so he’ll probably be back in the evening at your usual time.” She gave him another reassuring smile before moving on to a pending customer.
He left that afternoon empty-handed. When he came by at seven, the pretend-waiter-but-really-boss manpersonthing was no where to be found. Yixing left empty handed that night as well.
He wasn’t there the second day of his vacation, or his last. He didn’t show up on the first day he returned to work.
But he did one night when he decided him and Min Seok needed some bro time and Huang Zi Tao thought it would be proper for him to join since he was their overlord and Min Seok was buddying it up with the accountant with the blond hair and black highlights, which is why their boss was joining them in the first place Yixing decided.
So the four sat down in a large booth set to the side because Yixing’s usual table only occupied one person. While their boss openly flirted with the Canadian man who couldn’t stop giving him the I’m-judging-you-face, Min Seok and Yixing chatted about the woeful glances Yixing threw at the cafe whenever he walked past them to go to the pub because damn Min Seok had good eyes because he was a damned good attorney despite his endless count of sweater vests and terribly bright ties.
Yixing was just about to tell the shorter man the truth when an upbeat voice broke all four from their conversations and to its attention.
“What can I get for you gentlemen tonight?”
Same big eyes, equally big smile, and blinding white teeth. But no eyeliner, no waiter uniform, and definitely no pen poking out of his lapel.
“Luhan-sshi,” Min Seok bowed smiling. “Good to see you again.”
“Always a pleasure, Baozi.” He chirped. The nickname sent off ripples of laughter in the group. The only one who remained silent was Yixing who was doubly astonished.
“Ba-baozi!?” He questioned vehemently once the older man had left with their orders committed to memory.
Kim Min Seok blinked. “Well, yeah. It’s cute, don’t you think? Mi Lee came with me last week and she picked it up too. I can’t believe I never thought of it myself.” He chuckled.
At that Yixing groaned and the rest of the night passed rather passively between Yixing and the owner-masquerading-as-le-waiter while the rest of the party jeered and chuckled at whatever. Huang Zi Tao ended up paying the tab and offered to drop them all home. Kun Luhan was long gone by then and so was most of his staff. But only the other two agreed and Yixing decided he needed a walk as he waved goodbye to the remaining busboys and cashier at the counter. So he walked home.
Well, at least he tried to. When he turned the corner, he saw the doe eyed man sitting on the steps of a worn building with one of the employees from the cafe. They laughed and Luhan threw his head back and his sounds of mirth echoed off brick and stucco and no one complained because it was a sweet sound.
He caught Yixing staring, and Yixing hated being caught. He blushed, but it was nighttime and he was sure the peppery red on his cheeks was invisible.
But that didn’t matter because Luhan’s answer to his intense gaze and flushed cheeks was a simple nod of recognition and that was it. He turned back to the woman with the hipster glasses and they began to chat again under the streetlight as the clock neared midnight.
And Yixing walked home with his head down.
When he came in the next evening, the chai and the plate of cinnamon buns came one after the other in less than seven minutes by none other than the waiter-slash-owner himself. His eyeliner was back.
“Thank you.” And the man nodded and went about his business, a small smile tugging at his lips.
After about an hour of chai, buns, cheesecake, and the blueberry pie- Yixing decided he needed to do something about his current state of affairs. So when the man came by with his next cup of chai, he grabbed his wrist before he could scamper off. Kun Luhan blinked.
“I… uh… about last night… No wait, more like last week. Yeah. About last week.”
Kun Luhan rose an eyebrow that looked vaguely familiar to the eye-brow rising Min Seok partook in.
“I… I wanted to apologize. For my childishness. I should have thanked you for complimenting me, not blown off on you. So yes. I apologize. I hope you can forgive me,” he finishes off meekly.
“No harm done,” he chirped before running off.
And when Yixing left that night, he didn’t feel so bad.
And yet the incident refused to leave his mind. Weeks passed and he went to the gym, then to work, then to the cafe after work, went home, took a bath, went to the pub. Same old, same old. He complimented Mi Lee on her dress. She kissed him on the cheek. Min Seok wailed that he would be thirty in a few days and he didn’t want Mi Lee to dump him because she was still twenty-seven and pretty and he wasn’t. But that was easily rectified when she proposed to him in the middle of the office, even going so far as to go down on one knee, and he said yes before passing out cold. Of course, when he woke up, the entire office, the future bride, and their damned panda-eyed boss all agreed that the celebration take place across the street at their favorite cafe.
It took a month for them to actually throw the party because they were all so busy. By then, Min Seok was the big three and o, but no one cared because he was blushing, and crying, and oh so happy. They all were.
Yixing took another slice of cake as Kun Luhan chuckled at the persistent banter between the firm’s overlord and their head accountant.
“She looks very pretty,” Yixing blurted, his eyes on Mi Lee’s pert figure.
Luhan turned his way and chuckled. “Yup. Absolutely gorgeous.”
He still asked him how his workday was, what he’d eaten for lunch, and if it was worth going to the gym everyday even though his metabolism was awesome and he already looked like a brittle twig. But besides the evening chat, there was no other substance. And he hadn’t once called him that particular word since.
He thumbed over his cup and took a tentative sip. Luhan moaned from behind.
“Don’t tell me my chai’s bad.” He whined in mock-agony.
Yixing vehemently shook his head. “No! I was just thinking,” he insisted.
Luhan laughed out loud before disappearing behind the slinging door. And Yixing sat, his back hunched and eyes gazing blearily at the milk tea spiced with Indian herbs.
“Don’t let that pretty mug of yours go to waste over nothing,” he heard the latter chirp as he placed a hot cup in front of Yixing. Yixing only blinked as he took away the already cold cup and dumped it in the sink.
“Drink up,” he ordered, his elbows pressed against the counter and arms crossed in front of his chest.
And Yixing drank. When he left that evening with a weeping Min Seok, he swore he something in his chest fluttered faintly.
“Why beautiful?” He asked one particular morning on his off day. He was dressed casually and at the counter instead of his usual table.
Luhan blinked. “Huh?”
Yixing scratched his head. “Of all the adjectives, why beautiful? Why not… uh… handsome? Or dashing?” He tried.
Oh, he tried. But he failed because Luhan started laughing.
“Are you still on that? That was months ago,” he gasped between laughs. Yixing scrunched his eyes. He didn’t think it was so funny.
“I’m a diligent, hard working man and I play pool and exercise regularly, thank you very much. I think I’m virile enough to account for any other adjective in the dictionary besides beautiful,” he grumbled.
“But that don’t change the fact that you are,” he whistled, and Yixing coughed into his drink. Luhan handed him a tissue before dumping the soiled tea and pouring him another.
“What?” He squeaked.
Luhan rolled his eyes. “OK, Mr. I-work-in-the-big-building-across-the-street. You’re extremely pretty, OK? Not beautiful, because that just can’t seem to roll with your fancy.” He muttered as his employees shooed themselves off so he could chew Yixing out. “You’re absolutely adorable with that dimple that does better parlor tricks than most magicians. You’ve got cute that I can’t handle, so I must settle for using fruitful adjectives such as “beautiful” and “pretty” and “adorable” instead of “handsome,” “dashing,” and “virile.” Just because you go to the gym every day to further shorten your already tiny waist and play pool in a dank bar when I know for sure you don’t ever drink because your body won’t allow it doesn’t mean I can’t look at the rest of your rather glaring qualities. Happy now, judgy?”
Yixing didn’t know what to say. All he remembered doing afterwards was paying his tab and walking home, numbed and quiet.
Seven months later, he lay gasping underneath a heaving Kun Luhan as the older man moved frantically in between his legs. The balls of his feet pressed against his back as they rocked back and forth against the wooden floor of his apartment, his fingers tangled in golden brown locks as he inhaled musk and sweat.
A shaky hand wrapped around his swollen member and pumped as he desperately rutted against the heavy thrusts. Blunt nails dragged against slick skin as legs wrapped tightly around the waist that pushed pleasure through the very seams of his soul. Kun Luhan’s hands moved up and down rapidly as Yixing’s back arched into the touch. He climaxed first with a scream before tightening around the older man, spots dotting his vision as his body reached the height of its bliss. Fifteen seconds later, Luhan came inside Yixing and they rode out their orgasms in harmony as his arms tightened around his neck while Luhan’s found their way around his waist and pulled him close.
When he pulled out, Yixing whined at the loss of sensation in his nether regions before feeling himself being cocooned from behind. One of Luhan’s arms splayed itself out so Yixing could cushion his head on it. They both sighed contently as their heartbeats returned to normal as the sun outside dipped and nighttime rolled by.
“Beautiful,” he heard the other man whisper happily into his ear.
He smirked. “Damn right.”
“So, I’m the only one who’s beautiful to you, yes?” He questioned one evening, his panda-eyed boss sitting solemnly next to him while periodically sighing.
Luhan blinked. “I guess. I mean you ar-”
“-your boyfriend, yes.” He cut in. “I am your boyfriend and I am the only one whom you call on, refer to as, and think about as beautiful. Is that correct?”
“Y-yeah,” he sputtered. “Whatever that means,” he mumbled underneath his breath as he passed the regular chai to Yixing and the latte to Zi Tao.
“It means what it means,” he snapped in response and gave a dirty look to the woman attempting to get his boyfriend’s attention with a well placed “oppar.” But Luhan merely smiled and pressed a reassuring kiss to his forehead before moving on to the other customers.
“Do you think I should tell Wu Fan he’s beautiful?” His boss asked as he morosely twirled the straw in his drink, unable to hold in his feels.
Did Luhan’s fleeting comment send off a domino effect of events that resulted in them having sex on his apartment floor, Yixing moving out of said apartment weeks later and into a new condominium in a trendier part of town with a hipster boyfriend who turned out to be the owner of two restaurants and one cafe instead of just a talkative waiter?
“Go for it.” He replied without missing a beat and taking a long sip of his heavenly chai.
Zi Tao blinked. “Remind me to give you a raise.”
“Give me a raise,” he deadpanned.
It was said, and so it was done.
Needless to say, Huang Zi Tao earned a black eye and a rather wonderful night betwixt the sheets with his lovely accountant after he mustered up the courage to blurt out how pretty Wu Fan looked when he was daydreaming with that blissful look on his face. Yixing didn’t even get a pay raise. Everyone in the firm just ended up getting their salary doubled instead. Min Seok and his wifey were thrilled. Yixing and Luhan had celebratory sex on their Formica kitchen counter. Huang Zi Tao got punched by the six feet tall giant again before they made out in the water room.
It was awesome.
Well, it just got awesomer because Kun Luhan never stopped calling Yixing “beautiful,” and Yixing’s pretty much forgot his own name because of it and only recalled the namesake when Min Seok poked his shoulder and asked him why he looked so goofy.
Yeah, he guessed, threading his fingers into Luhan’s as they walked home hand-in-hand. It was pretty awesome.