Ye Xiu shoved the door open, balancing the takeout boxes in his arms carefully. The small hotel room was already crammed with discarded clothes, the lights turned off so that it was only the glow of the laptop that illuminated Yu Wenzhou’s face as his fingers moved steadily over the keys.
“That took longer than usual,” Yu Wenzhou commented mildly. Ye Xiu paused only to kick off his shoes, then joined Yu Wenzhou on the bed, settling down comfortably next to him. He started to unpack the takeout boxes, spreading the containers out between him and Yu Wenzhou so they’d be in easy reach for both of them.
“I got something extra for you,” Ye Xiu said, considerately scooping up one of Yu Wenzhou’s favorite dumplings and holding it up to his mouth. Yu Wenzhou bit into it without taking his eyes off the screen.
“Dessert?” Yu Wenzhou asked, tongue grazing lightly against Ye Xiu’s fingertips.
“That too,” Ye Xiu conceded, sliding his free hand into his pocket. He felt about, pushing his crumpled, near-empty packet of cigarettes aside, then drew out a small container of balm.
“Here. The lady at the shop said that it’s what she uses for her hands.” He tossed the balm container onto Yu Wenzhou’s lap, making the other man stop so he could pick it up and examine it.
“What does she use it for?”
“Arthritis,” Ye Xiu said easily.
A second later, the container pinged off his head. Ye Xiu laughed, then picked it up. He unscrewed the top easily, scooping out a fingerful of the pale yellow balm, and wriggled the finger scoldingly at Yu Wenzhou.
“Now, now. Don’t reject the advice of wise old ladies.” Ye Xiu grabbed at Yu Wenzhou’s nearest hand, resting the back of Yu Wenzhou’s hand in his palm and swiping the balm onto Yu Wenzhou’s palm. The long, rectangular palm led to slim, tapered fingers with thin joints.
Ye Xiu had kissed every one of those joints, had slipped those fingers into his mouth and suckled at them, had filled Yu Wenzhou’s palm with kisses. None of that had transferred even a fraction of his own hand speed to Yu Wenzhou, leaving Yu Wenzhou with the hands that Ye Xiu’s so casually called crippled.
The balm would not change that, Ye Xiu, but it would at least lessen the ache from playing all day. Excellent Era had their own masseuse to take care of their players but Blue Rain had yet to acquire such a luxury. Carefully, Ye Xiu worked the balm into Yu Wenzhou’s skin, thumb pressing down on his palm and working into the ball of his hand. The flesh felt thin, the skin overstretched and dry. In slow circles, Ye Xiu’s thumb relaxed the taut muscles until Yu Wenzhou’s fingers fluttered like butterfly wings and then fell open limply.
“What are you doing?!” Huang Shaotian practically burst out of the bathroom, door slamming back against the wall as he bounced onto the bed. “What’s that you’re rubbing into the Captain’s hand, it smells awful, is it some sort of traditional medicine, is it warm, why aren’t you eating, can I eat your share if you don’t want it--”
With his free hand, Yu Wenzhou picked up his chopsticks, selected a piece of sliced beef in chili oil and poked it into Huang Shaotian’s mouth. It silenced him for a few seconds as he chewed rapidly, swallowing the flavorful strip of meat, but only for a few seconds.
All too soon, Huang Shaotian swallowed and continued babbling, “What’s for me, which of these boxes, Ye Xiu did you get any for me, you’d better have gotten me some, I’ll eat all of your share if you haven’t--”
“There’s braised pork shortribs in black bean sauce for you,” Ye Xiu interrupted Huang Shaotian who promptly grabbed the container indicated and started shoveling the food into his mouth.
“Eh, not as good as McDonalds, that Zhou Zekai’s got everyone eating his ice-cream, they might as well have named it after him, you didn’t tell me what you’re doing, is that fat you’re rubbing into his hands, how--”
“It’s a balm an old lady recommended to him,” Yu Wenzhou said calmly. “For arthritis.”
“Ehhhh?” Huang Shaotian stared at Ye Xiu in open-mouthed surprise, exposing a mouthful of half-chewed food. Patiently, Yu Wenzhou used his chopsticks to close Huang Shaotian’s mouth. Huang chewed hastily, then swallowed, grabbing at the small pot of balm to study the ingredients listed on the side.
“Why are you rubbing in a balm for arthritis, the Captain doesn’t have that, do you even know how to rub it properly--”
“I can rub it better than you can,” Ye Xiu said, tone a perfect deadpan as a sly smirk played across his face. Huang Shaotian nearly choked, waving his chopsticks wildly.
“You cannot! Captain, give me your other hand, I’ll rub it in there and show you how much better I am than he is, tell him I’m just as good at rubbing it as you are--” He scooped out a generous amount of the balm, then started to rub it vigorously into Yu Wenzhou’s hand, massaging both Yu Wenzhou’s palm and the back of his hand at the same time.
“If you’re that good at it, then why don’t you do both his hands?” Ye Xiu suggested, wiping his hand clean against Yu Wenzhou’s forearm, an act which only earned him a mild tsk of disapproval from the Blue Rain captain.
“I will!” Huang Shaotian grabbed Yu Wenzhou’s other hand as well, placing the palms together so he could rub them briskly. It had none of the slow, considered skill of Ye Xiu’s massage but it was filled with his usual enthusiasm as he happily kept speaking, “See, this is how you do it! You’re too old, Ye Xiu, your hands are slowing down too, you can’t give Captain a proper massage like I do, you-”
Ignoring Huang Shaotian, Ye Xiu leaned in and kissed Yu Wenzhou. Huang Shaotian could take over the task of tending to Yu Wenzhou’s hands; as much as Ye Xiu liked them, he liked Yu Wenzhou’s mouth far, far more.
The indignant spluttering noises Huang Shaotian made at being left out of the kissing didn’t disturb the other two.
Huang Shaotian climbing onto Yu Wenzhou’s lap and spilling sliced beef everywhere, however, did distract them and like the shameless opportunist he was, Huang Shaotian promptly shoved himself into the kiss as well.