Yixing finds himself partially awake at the crack of dawn due to the fact that something or someone just banged something into the outside wall of his apartment such an ungodly hour.
He listens closely to make sure he’s not letting his apartment get broken into or something along those same lines; instead, he hears the muffled sound of mens’ voices coming from the hallway.
“You’re going to bruise up my brand-new wooden table,” says one of the men. “Be careful, will you?”
“It’s not my fault you bought such a big table for an apartment with such tiny hallways,” says the other.
Yixing remembers that there was a vacancy in an apartment across the hall and figures that the two men in the hallway are the people moving into it. Why they chose to do so at that hour was beyond Yixing, who is quickly falling back asleep.
Usually, he’d be up and getting ready to leave for work at a time like this, but today is his day off. He wasn’t about to let two guys who lacked the awareness to realize that moving in furniture and talking so loudly in the hallway at five in the morning was against all of society’s norms and morals ruin his chance to sleep in.
Yixing wakes again, this time fully, a few hours later. The hallway is quiet now, and the only sound he can hear are the birds chirping and the city life buzzing outside his window.
His stomach roils in that sickening “I’m hungry” way and he pulls himself out of bed to start the day.
Very seldom did anyone in Yixing’s apartment complex cook breakfast, much less any meal. It wasn’t that they were lazy, but there just happened to be a family-owned restaurant within driving distance of the apartments that gave all of the residents fifty-percent off their meal every time they visited. It was their way of saying “thank you” because most if not all of the residents were continuous customers. Yixing took a shower, got dressed, and made himself as presentable as he possibly could before he went to his car and set off for breakfast.
The restaurant is never quite full in the morning, at least not all at once; the owners once described the typical morning at the restaurant as having two “shifts”: one for the ones who rose early, and another for the people who woke up just around lunch time.
“The menu’s different for each shift,” the woman, waitress and wife of the owner, had mentioned. “The early ones get breakfast. The late ones get what’s left over and lunch, if they’re late enough.”
Yixing is a regular but, unlike many of the other regulars from his complex, he isn’t confined to one of these “shifts.” More often than not, he was awake and gone to work long before the restaurant even opened for the day, and on most days-off, he’d sleep until mid-afternoon. Today is surprisingly different, and Yixing chocks this up to the fact that he’d been rudely awaken earlier and that had thrown everything out of equilibrium.
It’s fine, though, he thinks, because it’s been awhile since he’s sat down for a hearty breakfast from the restaurant just a few blocks away.
He’s greeted by name by the owner’s wife when he walks in, and he’s seated right away and given a menu. She knows he doesn’t need the menu; he and everyone else that goes there on a regular basis knows the menu word-for-word, but it’s become a habit after so many years that there’s no use correcting it. Yixing settles for a bowl of congee and a glass of water when the owner’s wife breezes by his table a few minutes later.
Later, while Yixing’s absentmindedly spooning congee into his mouth and musing on life, in walks two men - one he’s seen before, the other he hasn’t. The one he recognizes goes by the name of Lu Han and he lives in the apartment next to him. He’s actually kind of surprised to see him; Lu Han spent a lot of time flying
between South Korea and China and was recently gone for a few weeks with no hint of his return. Yixing figured Lu Han had gotten tired of all the flying and decided to move to Korea after a while, but he knew now that this wasn’t the case.
He wonders, though, who the other guy is. Compared to perpetually sunshiney Lu Han, the unnamed man is quite serious; while Lu Han is miniature, this other guy’s a giant. Where Lu Han is cute and cherubic, the man he’s with is handsome and stoic.
It’s about this time when Yixing realizes he should stop staring. Staring is a bad habit of his, and he almost always seems to do it when he’s visually taken up with someone impeccably attractive. He’s aware of how strange it makes him look, but he’s not quite sure he knows how to stop it.
Regardless of this, he looks away and to his bowl of congee, and he gives the rice pudding a few mixes with his spoon before he puts another scoop into his mouth.
When he’s down to just a few spoonfuls of congee and the water in the glass next to the bowl is running low, he hears Lu Han tell his companion that he’s got to run; he has to pick up Sehun from the airport because his flight’s due in an hour. Yixing doesn’t know who Sehun is, but judging by the name he deduces that it’s whoever he kept flying to visit in Korea. Lu Han leaves and Yixing scrapes at his bowl, trying to get the last of his meal in his spoon at one time.
He finishes his congee and goes to throw back the rest of his water when he realizes he’s being watched. The handsome gentleman Lu Han had walked in with earlier is looking right at him, or at least he was until Yixing saw him and he looked away.
He’s flustered, but Yixing manages to take out his wallet and put a few bills just underneath his empty bowl so that the owner’s wife will see it when she comes to clean up his table. He puts his wallet back into his pocket as he stands up to leave.
He pays Lu Han’s friend no mind as he walks to the exit, but, then again, Lu Han’s friend pays Yixing no mind as well. Yixing gets into his car and as he merges with traffic he glances into his rearview mirror in time to see Lu Han’s friend standing outside of the restaurant, mere moments after Yixing made his exit.
Yixing doesn’t know what to think, but he decides it doesn’t matter because he’ll probably never see that guy again. If there was one thing he’d learned in life, it was to never spend too much time contemplating insignificant things.
Yixing quickly learns exactly who Lu Han’s Sehun is.
He’s a bit confused when Lu Han finally arrives at the apartment with Sehun, a tall, sleepy-looking Korean boy, in tow, because Sehun has but one bag and doesn’t look at all like someone who’s visiting for a short time. He knows this because when Lu Han embarked on his trips to Korea, he usually lugged three or four suitcases with him, even enlisted Yixing’s help on a few occasions because he simply couldn’t handle them all by himself. Sehun’s nice enough when Lu Han introduces him to Yixing, but something about him is still odd.
It’s not until much later that night when Yixing is sitting cross-legged on the floor of his living room with his guitar in his lap that Yixing really realizes who Sehun is. The tell-tale knockknockknockknock against his wall gives it all away.
Yixing can’t say he’s surprised. The only girl he’s ever seen Lu Han with turned out to be his cousin, after all.
The next morning, Yixing is on his way to the complex’s carpark, running just a bit late for work. He hardly slept; it was hard for sleep to find him the previous night due to the fact that just about every hour for three hours, there was seemingly endless knockknockknocking followed by the foreign sound of Lu Han climaxing making Yixing quite uncomfortable. If it were anyone else, Yixing would have probably knocked on the wall with his fist until the noise stopped but it was Lu Han and he wasn’t quite sure he wanted to risk the sanctity of their friendship by interrupting what was obviously a reunion of lovers.
Once they stopped, he finally drifted off to sleep, but not before he was awoken by the blare of his alarm clock.
To get to the carpark, Yixing had to go through the downstairs lobby and cut through the communal mailroom, where the door closest to the first floor of the garage resided. He was accustomed to being the only one awake around those parts, which is why he startled a bit when he came across someone finagling with the lock on one of the mailboxes.
Thinking this person was an intruder trying to pry his way into a mailbox for whatever reason, Yixing stops in his tracks, ready to grab his phone and call the police. He finds himself slackjawed, however, when the “intruder” stops what he’s doing and looks almost pleadingly, in Yixing’s direction.
The “intruder” just so happens to be Lu Han’s friend, the handsome one from the restaurant - which confuses Yixing because he can’t think of any reason for Lu Han’s friend to be in the building’s mailroom at this time of the day.
“Can you help me?” Lu Han’s friend says, but Yixing doesn’t answer or move. “I just moved in yesterday, so I don’t know how to use this thing.”
Yixing’s still in that state of mind where he thinks this guy’s just trying to maneuver his way into someone else’s mailbox so he hesitates but eventually approaches him to help him. “Did the landlord give you a combination?” Yixing asks.
“Yeah, and I put it in but it still won’t open,” the guy replies. “I’ve been at it for a good ten minutes, now, and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”
Yixing extends his hand and, without any sort of verbal communication, Lu Han’s friend hands him the information form with his mailbox combination on it. He sneaks a peek at the name - Kris Wu - then goes about dialing in the lock combination.
After a series of stops and turns, Yixing pulls the handle and the mailbox flies open. He glances at Kris, who looks positively perplexed. “How --”
“These locks are different from other locks,” Yixing explains as if he’s done so plenty times before - and he has, because the landlord always neglected to warn new residents about the lock system. “You have to turn the lock three times to the left in order to clear the combination from the last time you opened it, then turn it once to the right until the arrow’s on the zero. Then you can do the combination. It seems like a lot but you’ll get used to it in no time.”
Yixing hands Kris’s form back as Kris shakes his head in disbelief. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” he deadpans.
Yixing laughs. “Yeah, it is, but it keeps people from breaking into the mailboxes... I guess. You’d think a secret combination would be enough, right?”
“Exactly,” Kris says, but he shrugs. “Thanks, though. I appreciate it.”
Yixing nods and continues on his way to the carpark entrance, but not before Kris calls out to him and he stops to address him.
“What’s your name, by the way?” Kris asks.
“Yixing,” he answers, “What’s yours?” He already knows, but for the sake of things he pretends he doesn’t.
“Kris,” he replies. “I live on the third floor, apartment 3G.”
“We’re neighbors,” Yixing says with a smile as he reaches back for the doorknob. “I live across the hall in 3J.”
“I’ll see you around, then,” Kris says, and Yixing nods again and walks through the door.
Yixing thinks now that he should spend some time contemplating Kris’s reason for leaving the restaurant at virtually the same time as him the previous day since the issue isn’t so insignificant anymore.
If there was one thing, other than cooking for himself, that Yixing was bad at after moving out of his parents’ house, it was doing his laundry.
To be fair, he didn’t go through too many items of clothing - he had his “work” clothes, his “house” clothes, and his “casual” clothes, and in a good week he’d really ever only use the first two categories. Even so, he let the clothes accumulate until they were spilling over in the hamper. He’d only ever be bothered by it when he started having a hard time piling the fallen clothes back on top of the ones that hadn’t yet dropped from the basket.
At that point, he’d sort the colored clothes from the white clothes, then put the colored clothes into a laundry basket and the white clothes back in the hamper. He’d grab the detergent and liquid fabric softener, stick them into the basket between the edge and the clothes, then walk the four flights of stairs to the basement to wash them.
This is the case when Yixing returns home from work later that day, changes out of his work clothes into his house clothes, only to see that his hamper has reached that point of no return. When he leaves his apartment, he sees that the door to Lu Han’s apartment is slightly ajar and soft music emanated from within. He knows Lu Han only ever leaves his door that way when he’s left his apartment momentarily and intends to return before anyone thinks to take the open door as an invitation to break in and steal from him, so he figures that Lu Han, too, must be downstairs doing laundry.
And he is, Yixing realizes as he enters the laundry room. Lu Han’s measuring out detergent and pouring it into its slot in the machine, only looking up at Yixing when he puts his basket full of clothes to rest atop a neighboring washing machine.
“Good afternoon,” Yixing greets.
“Afternoon,” Lu Han says, smiling as he presses the button to start the wash. “I’m surprised to see that you’re actually doing your laundry this week.”
Yixing gives him a playful sidewise glance. “When did you get back from Korea?” he asks.
Lu Han shrugs. “It’s been a couple of days. I got back two nights ago from Guangzhou, where I was staying for a bit to help my friend pack up his apartment and move up here.”
Yixing has a moment of revelation. “So it was you who woke me up so early yesterday!”
Lu Han furrows his brows. “What?”
“You hit your friend’s table against the wall and woke me up,” Yixing says with a laugh, and Lu Han instantly recalls the incident. “You woke me up in the morning, then kept me up all night last night.”
The words leave his mouth before he thinks them, and once they reach his ears and the inside of Lu Han’s mind, he regrets it. Lu Han’s agape, face bright red, blinking rapidly. “I... I did what?”
“You...” Yixing’s embarrassed himself, now, so he decides not to go into detail and instead starts to load up the machine with his clothes.
“I was hoping you’d be asleep by then,” Lu Han says with a forced, nervous laugh. “I didn’t think anyone would hear... I’m sorry about that.”
“Don’t apologize,” Yixing mumbles, because the last thing he wanted was this awkward conversation and he wishes now that he kept his mouth shut. “It’s your business, I’m sorry for bringing it up.”
It’s silent for a while, and Yixing is fine with it because he’s focusing on channeling the terrible turn the conversation took into the fibers of his clothes so that he could wash away their existence and forget all about it. “He’s come to live with me,” Lu Han blurts out, and Yixing merely glances at him. “After a year and tons of money spent to go and see him, he’s come to live with me.”
“That’s good,” Yixing says, because he doesn’t know what else to say.
“Yeah... we talked about it for a while, but I told him to wait until he finished high school -” Lu Han stops short as Yixing gives him the most perplexed look he’s ever been given.
“High school?” Yixing asks, and Lu Han nods slowly. “High school?”
“We met when I went to Korea the first time for the Korean-Chinese language exchange program. He was in his third year of high school and I was assigned to mentor him and we just hit it off...” Lu Han trails off because now, Yixing had abandoned his clothes completely so that he could give Lu Han all of his shock and horror.
“Isn’t he... sort of... I don’t know, young?” Yixing asks.
“Yes, I’m well aware of that,” Lu Han snaps. “But he’s a lot older than his age. He’s very mature. Did you know he was eighteen when you saw him?”
“No, but you did,” Yixing says, and Lu Han rolls his eyes.
“Quit focusing on his age. If I kept worrying about how old he was, I would have missed out on a good thing,” Lu Han says.
Yixing disagrees; he’s sure Lu Han could have found the same if not better in someone his age - but he doesn’t press it. Instead, he slightly alters the subject. “Did he finish high school?” Yixing asks as he resumes putting his clothes into the washing machine.
“No... he had a month left,” Lu Han says. “He couldn’t bother waiting, because his parents found out about us and they weren’t happy. They wouldn’t leave him alone about it - they told him that he had to stop seeing me or else - so he bought a plane ticket, sent his clothes and belongings to someplace that would send them here, and came to live with me.”
“That’s... well, if you’re happy,” Yixing says, shutting the door on the washing machine and starting up the machine.
“I am,” Lu Han counters, an edge in his voice. Yixing didn’t mean to sound overly judgmental but he had no other way to express his shock over Sehun’s young age. At least he knew now to not mention it, lest Lu Han get fed up and end their friendship.
“Enough about Sehun,” Yixing says, and relief washes over Lu Han’s face. “You’re friends with that Kris guy, right?”
“You know his name?” Lu Han asks.
“We met this morning when I was leaving for work. He was in the mailroom trying to open his box,” Yixing said, and Lu Han nods. “What’s his story?”
“His... his story? He doesn’t really have one,” Lu Han says. “We met at the language exchange program, too, except we were only friends. He lived between China and Canada for a few years before he permanently moved to Guangzhou. He started dating someone and the long distance thing wasn’t really working so he stayed in Guangzhou to make it work. They broke up anyway, and he wanted to move... considered going back to Canada but decided on Beijing instead.”
“Interesting,” Yixing says, and Lu Han raises an eyebrow.
“Why’d you ask?” Lu Han asks.
Yixing shrugs. “I was just curious, that’s all.”
“Well... if you ever want me to introduce him to you...” Lu Han gives him a cheeky smile and Yixing glares at him. “I’m going to head back up. Sehun’s probably wondering what’s taking me so long.”
Lu Han leaves, but Yixing lingers to think on what Lu Han told him about Kris. One thing that sticks out to him is Lu Han’s ambiguity about who Kris was dating; not so much the identity of the person as much as the gender.
That can only mean one thing, Yixing decides, and with that he grabs his basket and heads back up to his apartment.
Yixing doesn’t see very much of Kris, because he leaves so early in the morning and when he gets back, it’s like Kris is never home. It goes on like this for weeks, until one certain morning.
Yixing wakes up late one day, which is bad because he has a very concise way of getting ready for work and the fact that he slept in by fifteen minutes was going to throw it all off. He resolves to do the more important things - bathing, dressing, eating - and just get on his way, but that doesn’t keep him from being completely scatterbrained.
He showers, gets dressed, makes a piece of toast and slathers it in butter, then starts out the door - but before he could even shut the door behind him he remembers that he’d left his wallet on his bed and turns around to go and get it. As he returns to the door, he hears a door across the hall open, followed by the sound of slow footsteps.
“Do you want me to walk to you the elevator?” came Kris’s voice.
Yixing cautiously pokes his head out of his own door and looks to see Kris talking to a leggy girl wearing club clothes and stilettos, her purportedly once-perfectly ringleted hair now half-straight and mussed up.
“That would be nice,” she says in a faux-cutesy voice, and Kris smiles and offers her the crook of his arm. She squeezes a hand around his arm and lets him escort her down the hall to the elevator.
Yixing finds himself clenching his jaw, so he shakes his head and goes out into the hall, closes the door and locks it. He hopes that he can get past Kris and his extended date without having to say hello and blames it on the fact that he’s late and doesn’t want to get caught up in a conversation.
Really, he’s just frustrated because he was wrong.
It’s his own fault, though; no one told him to jump to conclusions and assume Kris was fair game, especially when that wasn’t at all what Lu Han said. Just because he failed to mention whether the “person” Kris had been dating in Guangzhou was male or female didn’t put the ball in his court at all.
As Yixing successfully coasts past Kris and his female companion, he realizes how completely dumb of him it was to think that if Lu Han was being vague, he was doing it on purpose. After all, the conversation about Kris had come a mere few moments after Lu Han confessed he was carrying on a bizarre romance with a man four years his junior. It was hard to believe Lu Han would try to keep anything secret after something like that.
Even so, he’s still upset that he was wrong - mostly because he detests being wrong, but also because it would have been kind of nice to securely contemplate having a chance with the cute new guy across the hall.
Yixing’s boss lets him go home early, because business is slow and it’s already late afternoon so there was no chance of business picking up again. On the ride home, he decides to stop by the family-owned restaurant near his apartment to pick up dinner - wonton soup and some steamed rice, because that’s all he can really afford. A meal like that was eating fancy for Yixing, honestly.
When Yixing pulls into his usual parking spot in the garage, he realizes that, for the first time since Kris moved in, he’s home before Kris has had a chance to go out for the night.
Not that it means anything; Kris is probably primping for the night ahead, or maybe he’s gone but got picked up by one of the friends Yixing is sure he has. There I go again, he thinks, spending too much time thinking about unimportant things. Yixing switches his train of thought to the fact that his soup and rice are getting cold so he’d better hurry in and eat them.
After dinner, Yixing is dismayed by the fact that his garbage can is too full to hold the containers his soup and rice came in, so he’s forced to take the trash out. He shoves down what he can into the bag before he ties it, hauls it to the door, puts on his shoes and brings the trash downstairs.
The dumpster is out front, where all the smokers in the building go to have a cigarette. Yixing doesn’t smoke; in fact, he hates the smell of cigarette smoke, so the fact that he’ll most likely have to walk through a cloud of the stuff makes him dislike the chore of taking the trash out even more.
All he can see beyond the glass entrance, besides the cars and people that are passing by, is windswept cigarette smoke, so he prepares to hold his breath and keep his head down to prevent breathing it all in.
He gets out with no problem, throws open the lid of the dumpster and tosses his bag of garbage inside - and then he turns around and is greeted with a smile.
“Hey, Yixing,” Kris says, smoke billowing from his nose.
Yixing walks forward so he’s halfway to Kris and halfway to the door. “Hey, what’s up?”
Kris shrugs and flicks the glowing embers from the end of his cigarette. “Just killing my lungs, as usual.” He laughs and Yixing smiles, involuntarily, and Kris brings the cigarette to his lips and inhales.
“I didn’t take you for a smoker,” Yixing says, marveling at the o Kris makes with his lips as he blows smoke between them. “Then again, I haven’t seen much of you, so I guess I couldn’t really make a judgment, right?”
“You aren’t completely wrong. Smoking’s just a habit I picked up not too long ago,” Kris says. “It calms me down, takes my mind off of things... which was something I needed back when I started.”
Yixing has a feeling this has to do with Kris’s breakup, and for a moment he feels bad for him until he remembers Kris walking that girl to the elevator that morning.
“Well, I hope you find something better than cigarettes to calm you down and distract you. It would be a shame for someone like you to end up deathly ill all because of a bad habit,” Yixing says.
“Someone like me?” Kris asks, and Yixing’s skin prickles because he has a feeling Kris is purposely misunderstanding him.
But, then again, Yixing was King of Jumping to Conclusions, so he let that feeling die. “You know, someone young and... personable, I guess,” Yixing says. “No one deserves to get sick, of course, but I mean -”
“No, no, I get you,” Kris says with a smile, flicking his cigarette again. “And I know. I’ll probably stop eventually, but it’ll take time. Enough about me, though, how are you? It’s like you work all day, every day; I never see you around and we live right across the hall from each other.”
“You’ve hit the nail right on the head,” Yixing says, chuckling. “If I’m not at work, I’m sleeping. If I’m not sleeping, I’m at work. I’m always busy.”
“What do you even do?” Kris says. He lets his cigarette fall to the ground, where he outs it with his heel.
“I do desk work... answering and transferring phone calls, paperwork, some filing here and there,” Yixing explains, and Kris gives him a big nod. “Right? Fun work.”
“Well, desk work is better than no work!” Kris says, and Yixing nods in agreement. “Do you live with someone?”
“No, why?” Yixing asks.
“I was just wondering...” Kris looks around then gets closer to Yixing, who clenches his jaw at their proximity. “It’s kind of embarrassing, but I had someone over last night. A girl; we met at the bar and she wanted to hang out so I brought her to my place... but we couldn’t do anything because there was this... loud, like, sex-moaning coming from across the hall for hours...” Kris trails off as Yixing snorts out a laugh and nods. “What, was it you?”
“Oh, no, no,” Yixing says, his laughter ceasing immediately. “It was Lu Han and his... his boyfriend.”
Kris raises one eyebrow, then both in surprise. “Sehun is his -- he told me he was just coming to visit! They met at this language exchange program and Lu Han told me that Sehun was coming to spend a few weeks.”
Yixing blanches, because he realizes he just told Kris something that Lu Han obviously didn’t disclose to him for a reason. He’s gotten so far that it doesn’t make any sense to hold back now. “Well, Lu Han told me Sehun came to live with him,” Yixing says, and Kris’s jaw hangs loose. “He dropped out of high school and everything, apparently.”
“That’s... that’s interesting,” Kris mumbles with a shake of his head. “They did always seem kind of oddly close but I didn’t know it was to that extent...”
“Yeah,” Yixing says, and he can feel the urge to say something without thinking coming on. “So, why did the moaning from across the hall stop you from ‘hanging out’ with the girl you brought home?”
Kris steps back just a bit and Yixing wishes he knew how to suppress those urges. “It was just distracting, I guess,” Kris says. “She kept laughing and it was kind of weird, so...”
“Yeah, that makes sense,” Yixing says, his heart racing from embarrassment. He wants to get inside now and act like he never asked that question. “Well, I have to get back in; I left my door unlocked, so...”
“I’m done out here, so we can walk up together,” Kris says, and Yixing is silently happy that his off-color question hasn’t turned Kris off of him completely.
So they walk upstairs together and share a knowing glance as Lu Han walks by them with Sehun in tow, simply waving hello as he speaks to Sehun in fast Korean. Then they say their goodbyes, and Yixing departs into his apartment and Kris to his.
Yixing is working late one night when two men in grey suits march up to his desk and hand him a sheet of paper. He only glances at it, because he’s too intimidated by the men to actually read it, but it all looks very legal and from the looks on the men’s faces, it was nothing too good.
“What’s this about?” Yixing asks.
“The city has found this establishment unfit for operation,” one of the men says, and Yixing’s boss races out from the filing room. “In your hands is the order to shut this business down immediately, until the next evaluation in which the city will decide whether or not the proposed changes are adequate enough to allow reopening.”
“Impossible!” Yixing’s boss shouts, and Yixing jumps out of his chair in fright. “I pay taxes! I work with the people of the city in mind!”
“In fact, sir,” the other man said, “you owe over 3.5 million yuan in taxes, and there have been over five hundred complaints from clients of yours that have gone unresolved. This is all we can presently tell you of the matter; if you want to know more and have the chance to defend yourself, there is a hearing in three weeks.”
Yixing feels trapped in the middle, and he knows when his boss gets angry, it’s nothing to want to stick around for - so he quietly gathers his things and leaves, suddenly unemployed.
His usual spot, though not assigned, in the parking garage is taken by an unfamiliar car, so he parks right next to it. When he gets out of his car, he can hear the engine of the car that took his spot ticking in that way that means the car had just been shut off not too long ago and was cooling down.
The car is right next to Kris’s, which probably means nothing but still bothers Yixing in a way that he’s sure it shouldn’t.
Regardless, he heads upstairs, and as he turns the corner out of the elevator, Yixing can only see a blur of Kris as he’s dragged into his apartment by female hands, the nails painted with bright red lacquer. The door slams and then something is slammed against it, but Yixing doesn’t want to waste time deliberating about what it might be.
It doesn’t hit Yixing until he closes the door of his apartment behind him that, for the first time in over a year, he’s jobless. He’d always imagined that when the time came, he’d jump for joy because never would have have to wake up at the crack of dawn to work maddeningly long hours to make just enough to get by. He’d never have to answer another phone, or transcribe information from the answering machine to endless forms, flipping through them at a rapid pace and cutting his fingers on the corners of the papers.
Then again, he’d always imagined that he’d have another job waiting for him, and the reason why he was temporarily jobless was because he’d quit. The fact that he had absolutely nothing down the pipeline for him had his stomach tying itself into knots.
He contemplated walking down to the liquor store and buying himself enough alcohol for him to effectively drown his sorrows, but the mental image of him laying in bed surrounded by beer cans and sobbing made him feel even worse.
He jumped into the shower, put on his best outfit, doused himself in cologne, and walked into town to spend the night surrounded by strangers. That would definitely help him take his mind off of his sudden misfortune.
“What’s your name?”
Yixing peers up from his glass to come eye-to-eye with the apparent ringleader of the group of Korean boys that have been making eyes at him all night. “Who wants to know?”
“I do,” the guy says with a smirk. “You’re cute.”
“Yixing,” he says, a bit too drunk to even be impressed by the breadth of the boy’s knowledge of Chinese. “My name is Yixing.”
“Yixing,” he repeats, his Korean accent cutting through and slightly mispronouncing Yixing’s name. “I’m Jongin. It’s nice to meet you.”
Yixing is thinking that he wishes he could say the same; he kind of wants to be left alone but is stuck at a crossroads because Jongin’s pretty goddamn attractive and seems more than willing to be Yixing’s distraction for the night.
Yixing lets Jongin stick around and finds out that he and his friends are here for some talent competition; apparently, the finals are happening at the big concert hall in the middle of the city and Jongin and his friends are in the top ten. Jongin keeps talking but Yixing isn’t really listening; all he can think about is the fact that he’s unemployed and single, while Lu Han teaches Korean part-time at an elementary school and bangs a hot eighteen year old, and the gorgeous guy across the hall from him likes girls and Yixing wasn’t a girl.
Yixing waits until Jongin’s had a little to drink, and for the most appropriate time to ask him if he wants to come home with him for the night, before he has Jongin following him back to his apartment.
By the time they get back, Yixing doesn’t want to do much. The alcohol, paired with the walk home, has tired him out, but Jongin is intent on making something happen. Yixing isn’t going to protest, so he agrees with Jongin’s suggestion of letting him go down on him.
As Yixing watches Jongin work him to full hardness, he decides he’s never received a more perfect blowjob. Jongin pays attention to every detail; thick lips gripping, tongue wild and licking and tasting, hands feeling. He almost wants to bottle up Jongin’s blowjob and sell it because he’s sure it would make him a millionaire with return customers all over the globe.
It’s not long before Yixing finishes and groans aloud as Jongin takes him in deep, fueling Yixing’s fire just a bit more as he makes struggling, gurgling sounds around him. Beautiful strands of saliva trail from Jongin’s lips to Yixing’s cock as he pulls away, face red and eyes wet.
“That was good,” Yixing says blissfully, and Jongin smiles. “How old are you?”
“I’m eighteen,” Jongin answers, “Why?”
Yixing feels his stomach drop - here he was, making a fuss over Lu Han’s barely legal tryst, only to do the same thing. “No reason,” Yixing lies. “Well, maybe I was wondering how many years it took you to perfect it...”
“That was my first time,” Jongin says, and Yixing can’t help but whimper in despair. Not only is he a hypocrite, but he had now entered this kid’s record books as the first guy he’s given a blowjob to. Now if anyone asked Jongin when and where it happened, he could say, “I met this guy at a bar in China and he let me blow him.” It was like Yixing’s night was going from bad to good to worse.
“Do you have any way to get back to your hotel?” Yixing asks as he escorts Jongin to the door. Standing in the hall now, Jongin shakes his head.
“I mean, it’s not far, but I don’t really want to walk around town alone at this time of the night...” Jongin’s smile was telling Yixing that not wanting to walk around town by himself meant he wanted Yixing to accompany him, and that was simply out of the question.
“Buses should still be running,” Yixing says, withdrawing his wallet. “I’ll give you fare; don’t worry about paying me back. I think you’ve done enough, right?”
As Jongin smirks and chuckles, watching Yixing count out the correct bus fare, a door across the hall opens.
“Where did you say it was?” Yixing looks up to see Kris halfway out the door of his apartment, talking to whichever girl was inside.
“Just pop the trunk and look in there,” the girl answers.
“Alright,” Kris says, moving out into the hallway and shutting the door. He drops the girl’s car keys and bends to pick them up.
“Here,” Yixing says, in a hurry to say something to catch Kris’s attention. “That should be enough to get you home.”
“Thanks,” Jongin says, accepting the money. Yixing sees Kris glance over and grabs Jongin and kisses him square on the lips. Jongin pulls away, smiles, then walks away without a word. Yixing watches Jongin off, then his eyes meet with Kris’s, who looks a bit stunned.
“Goodnight,” Yixing says.
“Goodnight...” Kris answers as Yixing shuts his door.
With a lot of extra time on his hands, now that he was out of work, Yixing was able to watch Kris’s relationship with the girl blossom from “girl I met at the bar” to “girl that I’m dating who visits me regularly.” It seemed that every time Yixing left the apartment complex, if ever, his parking spot would be taken by her cherry-red Mazda. She came at all times of the day: in the morning, still wearing her workout clothes from her visit to the gym; in the afternoon, to go out to lunch with Kris; in the evening in sweatpants and a tank top to watch television with Kris; late, late at night, wearing the teeny-tiniest thing she could find with almost nothing underneath. Yixing didn’t intend to watch, but he always found himself observing - he couldn’t help it.
In the meantime, he was looking for work by day and going to the bar or club by night. After Jongin, he picked up another younger guy - this time, nineteen years old - named Zitao, who stated that he was very, very chaste and was abstaining from all types of intercourse. He didn’t even masturbate, he claimed.
Yixing didn’t know what he did or how he did it, but Zitao found it in him to throw morals to the wind and let Yixing finger him while he jerked himself off.
Yixing, of course, didn’t get much out of it, but it beat sitting at home alone, playing with himself.
There was no doubt at all that Yixing was stuck in a rut with no end in sight. He’d been out of work for almost a month now, and none of the interviews he had amounted to anything, and it was becoming a bit pathetic that the only thing he found even slightly entertaining was cruising for ass, only to get home too tired to do anything ultra-physical. What was even more pathetic was that in the back of Yixing’s head, he was only bringing guys home because he thought it would make Kris jealous - even though Kris was very much content with his new girlfriend and what appeared to be a thriving, constant sex life with the opposite sex.
Yixing was not and would never be what Kris wanted.
Yixing has never been a more bitter third wheel.
By now, the news about his former place of work being raided and shut down has made the local news and it’s no secret why Yixing is home a lot more often. Lu Han pities Yixing, having never seen him so downtrodden in his year or so of knowing him, so he invites him out.
The next worst thing to reclusion has to be playing second fiddle to your friend and his boyfriend, but Yixing agrees. He can’t float in between his home and the bars forever.
First, the three of them have lunch, and Yixing watches Lu Han try to juggle Korean and Chinese so that both Sehun and Yixing can understand him. It’s at this point that Lu Han realizes that doing this isn’t going to work, so he starts to ignore Yixing for the sake of his own sanity.
So Yixing trails them like a stray puppy searching for a home as they browse a shopping mall. Lu Han and Sehun stand far apart in public, Yixing observes, used to seeing them attached to the hip back at the apartment. It’s for good reason, though; the public’s reaction to two men holding hands as if they were husband and wife would probably ruin the outing more than it’s already been ruined.
They approach and begin to pass a lingerie store, all black and pink and fragrant and covered with photos of scantily-clad Western women, and although lingerie is the last thing Yixing is interested in, he glances inside.
As if some higher power were summoning him to look into the store, Yixing spots Kris’s girlfriend - and, lo and behold, Kris is right beside her. He looks terribly bored, while she’s chatting with a grin on her face and flipping through lacy brassieres. It’s an odd sight; Yixing once had a female friend who worked in a store just like this one, and he’d come and visit her on his lunch break. Especially around holidays, he’d see droves of boyfriends with their girlfriends pouring into the store, the boyfriend enthusiastically picking and choosing what sexy get-up he’d like to see his lady in later that night. He was under the impression, as he wouldn’t know from personal experience, that lingerie stores were to men with girlfriends and wives as candy stores were to children - Kris was proving that theory wrong.
In fact, Kris was acting a lot like Yixing did when his female friend used to take him around the store and show him the new shipments. No matter how many brassieres and g-strings she shoved in his face, he wasn’t interested, reason being that he didn’t find the form that would fit into those garments attractive. Kris had a girlfriend who, Yixing could admit, was absolutely beautiful, and he didn’t even care.
Alarm bells are going off in Yixing’s head, he can actually hear them resounding and bouncing off of the walls of his skull. He was so distracted by this that he failed to notice he was walking straight into a bra-and-panty clad mannequin at the front of the store.
He and the mannequin collide and she goes falling to the floor with a giant thud that sends everyone in a twenty-foot radius into silence. Lu Han and Sehun stop and look back at him, the workers in the store stop and look at him, Kris and his girlfriend turn and look at him... Yixing picks up the mannequin, skin burning hot, and walks away with his hands in his pockets.
“Very smooth,” Lu Han says, laughing hysterically as Yixing catches up with him and Sehun. “What’s got you so distracted?”
“Nothing,” Yixing mumbles. Sehun says something that Yixing knows means “What?” and Lu Han explains what he said to Yixing in Korean. Sehun laughs and gives Yixing a thumbs up, and all Yixing could do is force a smile and keep walking.