Pine’s lips were very cold. Xiao Bai could taste the flavor of tobacco from his mouth, and his mind was completely blank.
Sensing his stiffness, Pine couldn’t help but tighten his grip on Xiao Bai’s chin.
Pine knew that the moment he opened this door, he would no longer be able to suppress the rest of his feelings anymore.
It would most likely be very difficult to touch Xiao Bai again after this.
At the beginning, he only thought that Zhuang Yibai was annoying.
The way he spoke was annoying, the way he got close was annoying, the way he smelled was annoying, and the way he smiled was also extremely annoying. Pine didn’t understand how such a talkative guy could exist in this world. Every day, Xiao Bai had a surplus of energy, and he was always the loudest person in the practice room. He was also especially fond of approaching Pine, and he refused to be chased away no matter how many cold looks Pine gave him.
These troublesome days lasted for half a year. Then one day, Pine got a high fever and was sent to the hospital.
When he woke up on the hospital bed, Zhuang Yibai was in the middle of pestering the doctor. He stuck to the doctor’s side and kept repeating things like “when will his fever go down,” “he won’t get brain damage from the fever, right,” and “he and I are partners, what am I supposed to do if his brain gets damaged.”
After he skillfully annoyed the doctor into leaving, Zhuang Yibai turned around and met his eyes.
Before Pine could say anything, Xiao Bai suddenly walked briskly over to him and stooped over, leaning into his space. At the time, they were probably only mere centimeters apart.
Zhuang Yibai pressed his forehead against Pine’s before he frowned and murmured to him: What to do, you’re still burning up.
Things snowballed rapidly from that point on.
When they locked eyes, he felt at ease; when they sat shoulder-to-shoulder, he felt content. The first time Xiao Bai used the same water cup that he had already drunk from, he pulled two all-nighters in a row playing games.
He had attempted the avoidance route before, but he couldn’t hide from Zhuang Yibai, who seemed to be omnipresent. Or perhaps he was the one who just couldn’t control himself, as his gaze always subconsciously followed Zhuang Yibai around.
He could only fall deeper and deeper.
After a long pause, Zhuang Yibai lifted his hands.
Pine prepared himself to be pushed away.
But the anticipated shove didn’t come. Xiao Bai’s hands were shaking a little as they fumbled their way over Pine’s chest, slowly and carefully. Then, as if he couldn’t help it, he latched tightly onto Pine’s shirt.
Pine jolted slightly; he felt like his heart had been seized instead.
He resembled a wild beast that had been starving for a very long time and was finally able to eat something to alleviate its agonizing hunger. He lightened the pressure and rubbed his thumb softly against the place that it was gripping before as his kisses also grew gentler.
Of course, Xiao Bai didn’t have much of an opinion either way.
Fierce or tender, he felt dizzy regardless. His pulse shuddered in his ears, and even his knees felt a little weak. The skin that Pine was touching was scalding hot.
He sat for too long next to the door earlier, so his lips were dry. Pine traced over them delicately with his tongue, sending a thrill through Xiao Bai.
When they separated, both of them were breathing quite heavily.
Xiao Bai’s entire face was red, especially his mouth. Since it was his first time kissing someone, he didn’t know how to adjust his breathing, and there was a glimmer in his eyes from reflexively tearing up. Judging from his expression, he seemed to be a little out of it still.
Other than the wet shine on his lips, Pine looked the same as usual.
Xiao Bai stared at him for a while. After a long pause, he finally found his voice again. “If you’re gonna kiss me… then just kiss me, why swear at me too.”
Xiao Bai was about to say something else, but Pine abruptly backed up and settled his hand on top of Xiao Bai’s hair. He said mildly, “Go back to your room.”
After that, Pine bent over and picked up the change of clothes that he had tossed onto the floor earlier. Under Xiao Bai’s stunned gaze, he turned around and went into the bathroom.
Pine closed the bathroom door and stood in place for a few moments, only moving again once he heard his bedroom door shut outside. Eyes lowered, he silently took off his clothes before he walked into the shower stall and turned on the water with a flick of his hand. The chilly water soaked into his hair, and over ten seconds passed before it gradually warmed up.
Post-shower, he casually draped the towel over his wet hair. When he walked out of the bathroom, he saw that there was someone on his bed.
Xiao Bai was lying on his stomach with his phone in his hand, though he wasn’t looking at it. Instead, his face was buried in the pillow.
The running water was too loud, so Pine didn’t hear him come back.
At the sound of footsteps, Xiao Bai turned his head. His face was still red, but his expression had finally become more natural. “You really took your sweet time in the shower.”
Pine went quiet for a few seconds before he said, “Didn’t I tell you to go back to your room?”
“I wanna stay here.” Xiao Bai only went back to his room earlier to change into his pajamas. He sat up from the bed and said, “Your hair is still dripping wet.”
Pine carelessly swiped at his hair with the towel. By the time he looked up again, Xiao Bai had already pulled out the hair dryer from a drawer with well-practiced ease.
“Come here.” Xiao Bai sat cross-legged on the bed as he patted the space next to him. “Gege will help you blow-dry it.”
Pine: “No need.”
Xiao Bai didn’t bother arguing with him; he just got up and tugged him over. Brows furrowed, Pine allowed Xiao Bai to push him down so that he was sitting on the bed.
The reason Pine got a fever that one time was because he didn’t blow-dry his hair after taking a shower. The base didn’t have the heating turned on back then, and he played ranked for an entire night while facing the window. The next day, he immediately got a high fever and entered a half-conscious state.
From that point on, Xiao Bai would often forcibly blow-dry his hair for him.
Nobody spoke while the hair dryer was on. Xiao Bai stood next to the bed and carded through Pine’s hair adeptly.
This was the same position they had been in many nights before, almost as if they hadn’t kissed earlier at all.
It was easy to dry men’s hair, since it didn’t take very long. Xiao Bai turned off the hair dryer, but he kept his fingers buried in Pine’s hair.
“P-baby.” Even Xiao Bai’s knuckles turned white as he gripped the hair dryer. He was usually someone with a silver tongue, but at that moment, his words came out jumbled and halting. “Do you, um, you know…”
Xiao Bai was caught off guard. “Let me finish…”
“I like you.”
While Xiao Bai was stunned, Pine lifted his head a little and calmly shot a glance at him. He answered, “Yes, I like you.”
Even though Xiao Bai had more or less thought it through earlier when he was sprawled out on Pine’s bed, he still felt rather shocked upon actually hearing Pine say those words out loud.
On the other hand, Pine was very calm. His shower seemed to have washed away many of his emotions—or perhaps he had just withdrawn them all back into himself.
He took the hair dryer from Xiao Bai’s hand and put it back in its original place. “You don’t need to feel troubled.”
“That’s not it, I don’t think it’s troublesome,” Xiao Bai interrupted him before pausing briefly. “I just… haven’t figured it all out yet.”
When we were kissing earlier, it felt extremely good.
I can’t figure out if it’s because you’re good at kissing, or if it’s because of something else.
It was quite embarrassing and difficult to say that out loud, so instead, Xiao Bai pressed his lips together and called out, “P-baby.”
“Can we kiss one more time?”
Pine lifted his gaze and looked at him like he was an idiot.
“If we kiss one more time, I’ll be able to get to the bottom of it, really.” Xiao Bai leaned towards him and negotiated, “A peck is okay too…”
Right as Xiao Bai was about to touch him, Pine reached out and cupped the back of Xiao Bai’s head before he tilted his own head to the side and kissed him.
The taste of tobacco was gone; Xiao Bai had personally bought him the strawberry toothpaste that was lingering in his mouth. At first, Pine had frowned and rejected the toothpaste, but he ultimately failed to dissuade Xiao Bai, so he ended up unboxing it and placing it on his washstand.
At that moment, Xiao Bai felt like it was indeed a good purchase.
This kiss was very short, because their phones started chiming with consecutive WeChat notifications at the same time. Someone was probably tagging them in a group chat that they both were part of.
For the first time, Zhuang Yibai—the little prince of social media—found himself irritated by the sound of mobile notifications.
Pine released him, but they remained very close to each other as Pine gently wiped Xiao Bai’s mouth with the back of his hand. He was about to turn around to look for their phones when someone grabbed ahold of his shirt.
“P-baby.” Xiao Bai looked straight at him. “I seem to…”
His gaze couldn’t help but wander down to Pine’s tightly pursed lips, a fleeting glance that he quickly retracted. “Like it quite a bit when you kiss me.”
“Really, my heart’s beating even faster than it does when we win a championship.”
Something flickered through Pine’s eyes, though it quickly vanished. He lifted his hand and swatted Xiao Bai’s forehead. “Wake up a little, you’re straight.”
“I’m very awake right now, I’m so awake that I could go compete in a match immediately!” Xiao Bai paused. “If I’m straight, why did you kiss me then? If I were straight, I would’ve beaten you up and sent you flying out of the base earlier.”
Pine: “Who could you possibly beat up in this base?”
Xiao Bai: “…”
Pine picked up a phone and glanced at it before he tossed it to Xiao Bai. “Looking for you.”
Xiao Bai lowered his head in bewilderment.
[XIU: [Sharing a Weibo post] @P-Baby’s Little Support – look at you, not even gonna tell your big brothers that you’re dating now? Was it fun at the amusement park?]
[XIU: And here I thought that your ADC didn’t want you anymore, but it turns out that you were the one who abandoned P-baby first.]
[XIU: @P-Baby’s Little Support you there?]
[XIU: @Pine P-gege, tell your support to get on here.]
What kind of nonsense was this?
Confused, Xiao Bai clicked on the video that XIU shared. Unexpectedly, this video automatically jumped to about a minute in, displaying a scene where he was holding Cangshu’s bag for her while she was on the spinning teacup ride.
Pine’s expression froze briefly before he instantly averted his gaze and got up from the bed.
Xiao Bai locked his phone and stood up too. “Where are you going?”
Pine: “To get some water.”
Xiao Bai: “You’ve seen that video already?”
Pine let out a very faint “en.”
Xiao Bai: “You’re not also under the impression that I’m dating her, are you?”
Pine lowered his eyes as he poured water into a cup and refused to acknowledge him.
Xiao Bai explained, “I didn’t want to go on any of the rides, so I could only look after their bags for them.”
Pine added a touch of honey to the water.
Xiao Bai: “I’m not dating her.”
Xiao Bai: “Hold on… so you really were angry earlier today? Because I was planning on going to the amusement park with her?”
Pine said, “I wasn’t.”
The more Xiao Bai thought about it, the more he understood. “You were, you even told me to change my profile picture and WeChat username.”
Speaking of that, Xiao Bai still felt a bit wronged. “I wasn’t trying to go on a date with her, I wanted to show you around the park instead. You haven’t been to that theme park yet since coming to Shanghai, right?”
Pine stuffed the cup of honey water into his hands.
Xiao Bai took a sip from it while Pine turned around and went to get the iPad that was on the bed. Xiao Bai followed after him, still holding the cup.
“P-baby.” Half-lying next to him, Xiao Bai licked his lips and couldn’t help but ask, “When did you start liking me?
“This year? Last year? Or did you fall in love with me at first sight as soon as you joined the team? Ah…” Understanding dawned on Xiao Bai. “No wonder you didn’t talk to me a lot at the beginning.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
Xiao Bai gripped his cup tighter and tighter. All of a sudden, he lowered his voice and asked mysteriously, “Then all those times I went to sleep with you in the past, did you ever…”
Pine: “No. You’re very noisy.”
Xiao Bai slid down a little more until he was nearly lying on the pillow. “Oh.”
Xiao Bai stared at the iPad screen for quite a while before he raised his head slightly. Looking at the sharp, sleek line of Pine’s jaw, he couldn’t resist calling out to him. “P-baby.”
“Let’s start dating?”
Pine’s fingers jolted a bit, and he turned to look at him.
Ever since they kissed, Xiao Bai discovered that something had changed between him and Pine—or rather, he was probably the one who had changed. One casual, cursory glance from Pine was enough to make his throat go somewhat dry.
Pine said, “Do you know what you’re saying?”
“Of course I do.” Xiao Bai rubbed his nose. “Also, didn’t we kiss earlier?”
Pine stared down at him for a moment. “You do more than just kiss when you’re dating someone.”
Xiao Bai thought about it a little.
And then he started getting a bit too damn carried away.
At Xiao Bai’s silence, Pine decided to give him a way out, one that he had prepared long in advance for him, which would also end this topic of conversation. “Today, you…”
“The other stuff… we can do it too.”
“Tonight? Right now?” Xiao Bai’s face flushed. “But I don’t know how, do you?”
Xiao Bai took out his phone and pulled up Baidu before he quickly typed out “how do two guys have sex.” Right as he hit enter, someone snatched his phone away from him, locked the screen, and tossed it onto the bedside table.
“You do know how?” Maintaining that same position, as if he was still holding his phone, Xiao Bai turned his head. When he saw Pine’s expression, he was a little startled.
Pine’s brows were furrowed, his lips pressed into a straight line. The look on his face alone didn’t seem to be much different from usual, but his ears were as red as the fiery sunset that Xiao Bai had observed earlier in the evening at the amusement park.
Pine: “Not right now, don’t search up weird things.”
“…Oh.” Xiao Bai thought, I’ll just search it up secretly on my own later, and said: “Are we dating then?”
Pine glanced at him and quickly looked away again. “Whatever makes you happy.”
After Pine said that, Zhuang Yibai kept feeling like he was floating.
He slumped lazily against Pine’s shoulder as he watched him play Fight the Landlord. Once Pine threw out a bunch of random cards and used up all of his beans, Xiao Bai nudged Pine gently with his shoulder. “Give me the MFG manager’s WeChat.”
Pine: “What for.”
“I wanna ask if they need a support.”
Pine frowned. “Don’t joke around like that.”
“I’m not, I’m being serious.” Xiao Bai said, “I still have a year left on my contract with TTC, so I can go over next year. If I continue to perform as well as I did this year, they won’t offer me a low salary.”
Pine was silent for a few seconds. “Didn’t you say that you wanted to stay in TTC forever?”
“I still do.” Xiao Bai tapped on his screen and tossed out a card for him. “But MFG’s base is too far away, I want to be together with you.”
Pine grabbed his chaotic card-dealing hand and put it under the blanket. “It’s fine.”
Xiao Bai knitted his brows. “How is it fine? I insist…”
“I’m not going to MFG.”
Stunned, Xiao Bai stared at him blankly. “What do you mean… You rejected them?”
“Then why did you talk for so long today? Here I was thinking that you signed the contract already…”
“Their manager kept making me stay.”
Xiao Bai nodded and blinked. “How come you changed your mind?”
“An all-Chinese team is more comfortable.” Pine explained indifferently, “I didn’t want to learn how to communicate with a Korean support, it’s inconvenient.”
Xiao Bai let out an “oh” and concluded for him, “You still think that I’m the best.”
Pine went quiet for a long time, so long that Xiao Bai almost moved on to the next topic. Finally, Pine said in a faint, muffled voice, “Mn.”
That night, Pine wasn’t able to drive Xiao Bai out of his room.
This frequently occurred in the past as well. If Zhuang Yibai stayed in his room until it was somewhat late, he would say that he was too lazy to move, and he would insist on sleeping there.
That was also precisely the reason why Pine had an extra pillow prepared on his bed.
At three in the morning, Pine received a text from Qian-ge.
[Yuan Qian: Asleep? I’m back at the base, and I brought you guys some local specialties. Is Xiao Bai in your room?]
Pine replied with an “en.”
[Yuan Qian: Alrighty then, I’ll put them in the living room. Let him know in the morning when he wakes up.]
Pine set his phone down and flipped around to meet Xiao Bai’s dazed eyes.
He didn’t seem to have truly woken up at all. Several seconds later, he closed his eyes again as one hand stretched out lazily and landed slackly on Pine’s arm. Then, he fell back into a deep slumber.
Relishing in Xiao Bai’s warmth, Pine propped himself up and leaned over to kiss him, quiet and restrained.
Actually, he didn’t say it out loud, but there was another reason why he gave up on the transfer.
MFG’s base was indeed too far away. Between leaving Zhuang Yibai and watching Zhuang Yibai date someone else, he chose the latter option.
He couldn’t avoid Zhuang Yibai; he was willing to sink ever deeper.
Yan: One more chapter 🙂