Jiang Cheng’s night routine of blasting songs and reading his books was interrupted when he saw the lights switched on in his neighbor’s room. He paused his reading and sat up to see Xichen talking on his phone frowning at the empty air and clenching his hand.
You’re on the phone with your girlfriend
She’s going off about
Something that you said
Cause she doesn’t get your humor
Like I do
Jiang Cheng observed how Xichen tried to say something but then stopped as if the person on the other line (Jiang Cheng had a pretty good idea who it was) kept on talking over him and didn’t even let him explain. Or maybe convincing Xichen that whatever they were arguing about wasn’t his fault but Xichen’s. That’s what that person is good at. Lying and manipulating people.
Finally, Xichen sighs and says something before hanging up the phone. When he turns he sees Jiang Cheng looking at him and smiles, albeit a bit tired.
Jiang Cheng looks around and finds the notebook on the foot of his bed along with the marker and quickly writes on it before turning to face Xichen and showing him what he wrote.
‘Are you okay?’
Xichen grabs his own notebook and scribbles on it before showing it to Jiang Cheng.
‘Yes. Just a bit of drama. Nothing else.’
Jiang Cheng frowns.
‘I’m sorry. Is there any way I can help?’
Xichen smiles at him and Jiang Cheng feels himself flushing. Damn him for blushing so easily.
‘No need. Thank you for trying though :)’
Jiang Cheng looks at that and quickly scribbles something on his notebook. Okay, maybe it isn’t the best time but it’s never the perfect time and like Wei Ying had said, “you need to just do it. Gather up your courage and do it.”
So Jiang Cheng is taking advice from his crazy brother and he quickly picks up the notebook and shows it to Xichen.
Who is no longer there? With his window now closed with the curtains drawn.
Jiang Cheng sighs and looks at his notebook.
‘Would you like to go out with me?’ ’
Jiang Cheng’s weekend routine is no different from his nightly ones. That is it only consists of reading. Again. Only the difference is that he’d leave his room and read on the bench on their front porch. There was nothing better than reading out in the cool breeze with the sun shining brightly.
Except that there was one thing better than that and it was Lan Xichen who came and sat right beside Jiang Cheng. If Wei Ying was here he’d tease Jiang Cheng about how Lan Xichen is the only one with the ability to make Jiang Cheng forget about his books and actually talk to him but thankfully his brother wasn’t here to embarrass him. No, the last part was something Jiang Cheng could easily manage by himself.
“Jiang Cheng.” Xichen greeted with a beautiful smile.
“Xichen.” Jiang Cheng greets with a small smile that effortlessly bloomed on his face whenever Xichen was near him.
“What are you reading?”
“Ah..just some book I picked at the library. Nothing that exciting.” He shrugs.
“You read a lot.” He points out.
“Nice observation.” Jiang Cheng points out, wryly.
Xichen shakes his head. “It’s just that you always have a book with you. It makes me wonder how you keep your grades up at school.”
“With lots and lots of sleepless nights. Not all of us are so talented as to stay at the top of their class, be on the football team and get to sleep at nine pm sharp and wake up at five” Jiang Cheng teased.
Xichen laughed. “I assure you that it’s not as hard as it looks like.”
He laughs again when he sees Jiang Cheng’s incredulous look. Seeing him laugh makes Jiang Cheng feel warm and giddy. The kind of giddy he feels when he reads the happy ending in the book he’s so invested in. The warmth of feeling the gentle heat on your skin on the cold, winter days. Xichen made Jiang Cheng feel everything good.
Walkin' the streets with you and your worn-out jeans
I can't help thinking this is how it ought to be
Laughing on a park bench, thinking to myself
Hey isn't this easy
“So I was wondering,” Xichen said slowly, running his hands through his hair as if he was nervous. “I know you don’t like going out much but we have a game next Friday and I was wondering if you would come and watch it?”
Jiang Cheng stares at him for a few seconds. Long enough that Xichen probably starts feeling nervous because he quickly says, “you don’t have to come if you don’t want to! I’m just saying that it would be nice if you’re there you know? But if you don’t wa-”
“I’d love to.” Jiang Cheng says. “I’d really love to come and see the game.”
Xichen was inviting him personally to come and watch the game. Not that he needed to be invited because his sister and his brother will be there at the game with the former cheering for the team as she was the head cheerleader and the latter playing on the field along with Xichen. He should be going there to support his siblings anyway but Xichen was inviting him. Xichen wanted him to go and see him play.
And when Xichen smiled Jiang Cheng stopped breathing for a second because he never did see Xichen so happy before than at this moment. Right then Jiang Cheng was ready to tell Xichen what he felt.
But good things never last because at that moment a red convertible stops in front of their bench and someone shouts, “Xichen!”
And you've got a smile that could light up this whole town
I haven't seen it in a while since she brought you down
You say you're fine
I know you better than that
Hey what you doing with a girl like that
All of a sudden it’s as if the warmth is leached from his skin as he watches Jin Guangyao smile (fakely) at both of them.
“A-Yao.” Xichen greets and stands up. He looks at Jiang Cheng, “so I’ll see you around then?”
Jiang Cheng only nods and tries to smile, hoping that it didn’t look like a grimace instead. He watches as Xichen climbs inside the car and hugs Jin Guangyao who looks at Jiang Cheng and smirks. Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes at that. If he could, he'd punch that slimy, two-faced snake right in the face but he didn’t think his mother would be really pleased by that.
If you could see that I’m the one who understands you
Been here all along
So why can’t you see
You belong with me
So Jiang Cheng watches as the boy he loves drives off with another boy in that red car.
It's the game night and Jiang Cheng is on the bleachers alone because everyone he knows somehow has a role on the field. His sister was there waving her pompoms and cheering for her boyfriend. His best friend, Huisang was busy with being the commentator of the match. Wen Ning was the mascot for this game while Wen Qing was helping the school nurse with any emergency that came their way. His brother was on the field playing along with boyfriend, Lan Zhan and then there was Xichen who was leading their entire team to victory.
Jiang Cheng did the best he could to cheer for their team amongst the crowd of shoving teenagers who really didn’t care if someone fell and broke their necks. Typical. Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes. He really wanted to go home but every time he’d consider leaving he’d remember Xichen’s smile when Jiang Cheng said he’d attend the game and stops. He couldn’t disappoint Xichen.
Jiang Cheng eyes the timer and sees there are only a few more seconds till the game ends and their team is in the lead by two goals. There’s no way they’d lose. He’d probably be forced to go to those celebratory dinners with the entire football and cheerleading team plus Huisang, Wen Ning and Wen Qing but surprisingly he doesn’t think he really opposes the idea of going out with them today.
And when the buzzer rings and the entire field erupts in cheers Jiang Cheng finds himself screaming and clapping alongside everyone else, ecstatic that they won. His friends and his siblings have been working really hard for this game and Jiang Cheng couldn’t be happier to see them happy.
He looks for Xichen and finds him talking to Jin Guangyao. He concludes that it must be about the game and that he’s probably being congratulated by that snake for winning the game only to see that Xichen steps back as Jin Guangyao tries to reach out to him and shakes his head and marches off the field.
Lan Xichen does not join them after the game.
Jiang Cheng barely gets to see Xichen for the rest of the week. Xichen gets held up at school often to help prepare for the upcoming school dance and when he’s home Jiang Cheng is too busy with his studies to even talk with him via their notebooks. He also knows that whatever the argument he had with Jin Guangyao was causing Xichen to be stressed. As much as Jiang Cheng hates that person he knows that Xichen really cares for him even if he keeps on doing things that Xichen doesn’t approve of.
But even then they’ve never gone this long without talking and Jiang Cheng really doesn’t like it.
Oh I remember you driving to my house
In the middle of the night
I’m the one who makes you laugh when you know
You’re ‘about to cry
He looks towards Xichen’s window and sighs when he sees the curtain is drawn. Another night of not talking to each other. He’s about to pick up his book and continue when he sees the curtains being drawn back and there he is. Standing in front of the window looking at Jiang Cheng while looking so handsome in that tux.
Jiang Cheng forgot it’s the school dance tonight.
He sees Xichen holding his notebook, facing it towards Jiang Cheng.
‘Are you going to the school dance?’
Jiang shook his head and wrote down his reply, ‘Going to stay home and read. Not my thing.’
Xichen frowns and flips over a page, ‘Wish you’d be there :(‘
Jiang Cheng only smiles and shrugs. He watches as Xichen puts the notebook down and waves goodbye at him, looking a bit sad. Jiang Cheng watches him leave before lying back down on the bed and sighs. The dance. His siblings had insisted he’d go along with him and that it didn’t matter if he didn’t have a date. It wasn’t the date that bothered him. It was going there and seeing how Xichen was so far away from him and not being able to do anything about it.
Jiang Cheng doesn’t know when he fell for Lan Xichen. Was it when his sister brought him over for the first time and introduced him as her best friend? Was it when he comforted Jiang Cheng when he had to give his dogs away when Wei Ying was adopted by his parents? Was it when he first saw Xichen smile? Or was it the moment he realized that Xichen sees him for him and not as the younger brother of Jiang Yanli and Wei Ying?
I know your favorite song
And you tell me about your dreams
Think I know where you belong
Think I know it’s worth of me
Was Jiang Cheng really going to sit by and do nothing and let Xichen slip away like that?
This was a bad decision. A really bad decision. He wasn’t impulsive that part was left to Wei Ying which always resulted in him getting grounded but Jiang Cheng was responsible. He was good. So why did he run to his mother, ask for help, get a tux and is now standing at the entrance of the school gym? He has no idea.
Okay, he does. He clutches the note in his pocket. It has to be today. Whether he gets rejected or accepted he’ll face it and walk out of this place with his head held high.
Jiang Cheng takes a deep breath and opens the door.
Can’t you see that I’m the one who understands you
Been here all along so why can’t you see
You belong with me
He sees his siblings and friends who look surprised but happy when they saw him there with him. His brother and sister hugged him. Huisang was jumping excitedly. Wen Ning smiled at him. While Jin Zixuan, Lan Zhan and Wen Qing nodded at him. But the one he was looking for wasn’t there amongst the group.
Jiang Cheng looks around and then sees him talking to Nie Mingjue, laughing to whatever Mingjue was saying. Jiang Cheng walks towards him.
Xichen shoves Mingjue lightly and then shakes his head when he sees Jiang Cheng. He looks surprised and then grins at him when he sees Jiang Cheng make his way towards him. He says something to Mingjue without even taking his eyes off of Jiang Cheng and makes his way towards him. As he walks towards Jiang Cheng, Jin Guangyao blocks his path and starts to say something and Jiang Cheng pauses. Will he just walk away with him again?
But then Xichen shakes his head and pushes him away, resuming his way towards Jiang Cheng. There’s something about how he pushed Jin Guangyao away which makes Jiang Cheng so happy. It makes him feel smug when he sees how Jin Guangyao looks shocked and then mad when he sees how Xichen pushed him away for Jiang Cheng.
“So you made it after all?” Xichen says.
“Well... I had something to do.” Jiang Cheng replies.
At Xichen’s curious look Jiang Cheng takes out the note and opens it.
Standing by and waiting at your backdoor
All this time how could you not know baby
You belong with me
‘I like you. Will you go out with me?’
Jiang Cheng watches as Xichen’s eyes widen and he stares at the paper. As Xichen keeps on staring at the paper Jiang Cheng gets nervous. Why isn’t he answering? Does he not like Jiang Cheng? Even if he didn’t like him can he just give him an answer quickly? He could probably make it to the department store near his house, buy that tub of ice cream and go home and cry if Xichen rejects him quickly.
But then Xichen extends his hand towards Jiang Cheng and smiles that beautiful smile Jiang Cheng loves so much.
“I’d love to. Will you do me the honor of dancing with me A-Cheng?”
What is Jiang Cheng supposed to do? Say no?
Jiang Cheng grins and takes his hand and joins his friends on the dance floor who all look at him surprised but happy. Especially his sister and his brother who was being restrained by their partners so that they can’t run over to him and ruin the moment.
And Jiang Cheng dances the night away in the arms of the most beautiful boy, surrounded by his friends in a school gym with really crappy decoration but still. This is the best night of his life.
You belong with me