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“You want me to do what?”

“Plan my wedding,” says Hua Cheng. He’s sprawled across the couch, arms swung over the back cushion. “I don’t want to do it. It’s too much work.”

“Then make your darling husband do it,” He Xuan snaps. 

“No,” says Hua Cheng. “I told you. It’s too much work.” A pause. “Besides, you owe me.”

“Eat my fists.”

“Only if you agree to plan my wedding.”

“I,” He Xuan starts, then stops. Fuck his life. Fuck his fucking life. There’s no way in hell he’s going to manage to weasel himself out of this one. When Hua Cheng wants something, Hua Cheng will get it. No matter what it is. Fuck. “I didn’t even know you were engaged.”

“I’m not,” says Hua Cheng, “but I will be later tonight.”

He Xuan raises an eyebrow. “That’s only if your Xie Lian says yes.”

At this, Hua Cheng genuinely freezes. His face does a funny thing, morphing into an expression that’s somewhere between a frown and a look of utter disgust. It’s...actually kind of pitiful, really, and He Xuan has always been an absolute darling to his roommate of three years. So.

He reaches over and pushes his fist against Hua Cheng’s shoulder. “You’re an idiot. Of course he’ll say yes.”

“Of course,” Hua Cheng says approximately three seconds later. Then, he scoffs. “Naturally. What, are you jealous, Hei Shui?”

“Don’t call me that.”

“Stop putting black food coloring in my water then.”

“That was one time,” He Xuan hisses.

“Hm,” says Hua Cheng. He peers back at him, and He Xuan tries very hard not to flinch under the scrutiny of the stare. Hua Cheng’s always been painfully adept at crawling under his skin, somehow. He Xuan’s stopped trying to dissect it. 

Three years, huh.

“So,” Hua Cheng says next, “my wedding?”

And, well, whatever. It’s not really like He Xuan has anything better to do. The most he does on good days is coop himself up in his room in the apartment he shares with Hua Cheng. (Which, if he’s really being honest, is quite entertaining, for the most part.)

So he says, “Get your yes first, lover boy.”

Hua Cheng smirks.

“And move out,” He Xuan continues. “Please move out. This is the only time I’ll ever say please to you. Please fucking move out.”

“Hmm,” says Hua Cheng. He strokes his fingers across his chin in fake thoughtfulness. “I suppose I’ll have to consider it. Don’t you think my room is comfortable for me and gege to share? It even shares a wall with yours.”

“Get out,” says He Xuan. “Don’t you have a proposal to get to? Get the fuck out. I hope Xie Lian says no.”

“Unlikely,” says Hua Cheng. 

Which is true. But whatever. 

 

 

The following morning, Hua Cheng waltzes into the apartment with a repulsive smile on his lips. He Xuan almost chokes on his breakfast noodles. 

“Let me guess,” he says between coughs, “he said yes.”

“He didn’t just say yes,” says Hua Cheng. He sighs dreamily and drapes himself over the back of the couch. He Xuan immediately pushes him away and watches with glee as his roommate lands on the floor behind him. Still, nothing can stop Hua Cheng. “He also showed me exactly how much of a yes he—”

“Okay,” says He Xuan, standing up and spooning the liquidy noodles in his bowl with his chopsticks, “that’s it for me. Goodbye. Never talk to me again.”

Hua Cheng, still on the floor, ignores him.

“Exactly. Keep doing that,” He Xuan says with a nod. “And move out while you’re at it. I’m sick of you.” He then turns around and disappears into his room.

 

— 

 

Two days later, He Xuan finds himself being pushed down onto a table in his and Hua Cheng’s kitchen. 

“Sit,” Hua Cheng demands, then steps back and crosses his arms over his chest. He Xuan doesn’t even try to fight it; there is literally zero point. “Okay, so. Gege is coming over in a few minutes.”

He Xuan raises a very delicate eyebrow. “Do you want me to leave or something? Are you sexiling me? Again? For the eighth time this mon—”

Hua Cheng waves a noncommittal hand. “We’re going to talk to you, our wonderful wedding planner, about every single nitty gritty detail of the wedding.”

Silence. Then, “I never even actually agreed to being your wedding planner.”

It’s not really like He Xuan has any choice, but what he does have is a conscience. And his conscience is very firmly telling him that he should absolutely not become Hua Cheng and Xie Lian’s wedding planner.

“You don’t have a choice,” says Hua Cheng, sickly sweet. Absolutely revolting. Also extremely typical. And not surprising at all. 

Just then, the doorbell rings, and Hua Cheng springs toward it like a little lost puppy. It’s a stark contrast to his usual...being. But then again, he always gets like this when it comes to his precious Xie Lian. 

“Coming, gege!” he trills, and He Xuan has half a mind to throw a plate at the back of his head.

He doesn’t, but it’s a close call. 

When Xie Lian steps through the opened door, he shoots a smile up at his—ugh—fiancé. “How did you know it was me?” he asks. 

He Xuan grumbles something inaudible under his breath and looks away. He knows exactly what Hua Cheng is about to say in response. 

Sure enough: “It’s my Gege Senses.”

“Alright,” He Xuan says loudly, slamming his hand down onto the dining table and startling Xie Lian. Hua Cheng looks perfectly unphased, the absolute asshole. “Why don’t we get started?”

“Excellent,” says Hua Cheng, reaching down to take Xie Lian’s hand and guide him over. 

Here’s the thing about Hua Cheng and Xie Lian:

He Xuan was there before the two of them were...a thing. A very obnoxious, over-the-top thing, that is. Three years ago, when he had first met Hua Cheng, the latter wasn’t the type of person he is today. He was ten times less infuriating, for one, but that’s only because he’d mostly keep to himself. The only times he would actually bother talking to He Xuan was to rant about his stupid fucking crush. 

The crush being, of course, Xie Lian. 

And then one year later, when Hua Cheng and Xie Lian did get together, everything snapped. Hua Cheng became annoying as fuck and would never shut up about his boyfriend. He Xuan didn’t even meet Xie Lian till three months into their relationship, and if he’s being honest, Xie Lian was the absolute last person he’d expect to have Hua Cheng tripping over his heels for. 

Xie Lian was—is—surprisingly normal. 

And so, He Xuan makes a conscious effort to see him for that normalcy, rather than the incoherent blubbering he gets from Hua Cheng’s constant rambling.

“Okay. Guests,” He Xuan says now, tapping the inky black pen against the surface of a thin white piece of paper. “Go.”

“Feng Xin and Mu Qing,” Xie Lian says immediately.

Hua Cheng frowns. “But gege.”

Xie Lian releases an amused breath through his nose, the corners of his lips quirking upward into a small smile. He reaches over and gently pats Hua Cheng’s shoulder. “But nothing, San Lang. They’ve been my closest friends since middle school.”

“But aren’t I your closest friend?”

Xie Lian laughs. “You are much more than just a friend, San—”

“Okay,” He Xuan interrupts, snapping the pen shut. “Rule number one if you want me to continue to plan your wedding. No unnecessary flirting.”

“I would hardly call it unnecessary—” Hua Cheng starts, but Xie Lian elbows him before he can finish. They share some...weird eye contact, or something. He Xuan doesn’t know, and he couldn't care less. Hua Cheng and Xie Lian? They’re disgusting. Enough said. 

“What San Lang means,” says Xie Lian, “is that we will try our best.”

Try our best, he says. They’ll try their best. 

“Rule number two,” He Xuan continues, ignoring this. “Xie Lian gets final say on everything.”

Hua Cheng nods, clearly pleased. “As he should.”

Xie Lian’s eyebrows furrow on his face. “But it’s not just my wedding. San Lang, we should take your input into consideration too.”

“Your opinion is my opinion, gege,” says Hua Cheng.

“Hmm,” says Xie Lian.

“Who else,” says He Xuan. It’s not phrased like a question, but the two sitting across from him don’t seem to care too much. They’re still doing the whole, staring-into-each-other’s-eyes thing. So, well.

“Your best friend,” says Hua Cheng.

He Xuan’s fingers curl around his pen. “Who’s that?”

“Oh!” says Xie Lian, nodding. “Shi Qingxuan. Of course we’ll invite them. Their brother too.”

“Naturally,” Hua Cheng agrees, but He Xuan isn’t buying any of his shit. Motherfucker. Asshole. Bane of his existence.

“And if Shi Qingxuan and Shi Wudu are coming, then we should also invite Ling Wen and Pei Ming,” Xie Lian continues. “And Pei Ming’s cousin, Pei Su. Oh, and Ban Yue. I haven’t seen her in a while.” He pauses, considering. “Quan Yizhen and Yin Yu, too. Hm...is there anyone else I’m not thinking of?”

“Qi Rong,” says He Xuan, already adding Qi Rong’s name to the list. 

“Absolutely not,” says Hua Cheng immediately.

“Right,” says Xie Lian, “Qi Rong, of course. And his son, Gu Zi.”

“Gege, no.”

“San Lang,” Xie Lian chides, “he’s my cousin.”

“But he’s a piece of shit.”

He Xuan nods. “Agreed, which is exactly why he’s invited.”

“He’s not a piece of anything. He’s the only remaining family member I have,” says Xie Lian carefully, but even he looks slightly pained as the words leave his mouth. Then, he sighs. “Well, in any case, Gu Zi is welcome, and therefore Qi Rong is too.”

“I would like to gently disagree,” says Hua Cheng. 

“I would like to strongly agree,” says He Xuan.

“But I will respect gege’s wishes,” Hua Cheng continues, ignoring him. He Xuan doesn’t care. He was expecting it, in any case. 

Xie Lian nods. “Good,” he says, then pats Hua Cheng’s back. “Let’s also invite Yushi Huang. And my old teacher.”

“Mei Nianqing?” Hua Cheng asks. 

“Mei Nianqing,” He Xuan mutters under his breath as he scribbles the characters down. His pen pauses over the last stroke, and he looks up. “Hold on. Why the fuck am I writing all of this down?”

Hua Cheng turns to look at him, batting his eyes innocently. “Gege says I have bad handwriting.”

“It’s not...terribly bad…” Xie Lian says quickly, shaking his head. 

“You’re also our wedding planner,” says Hua Cheng.

He Xuan levels him with a sweet glare. “I never agreed to be your—”

“Oh? So you’re helping simply out of the kindness in your heart?”

This time, He Xuan really does chuck the pen at him. Hua Cheng dodges effortlessly, but it’s the thought that counts anyway. 

“Okay,” He Xuan says as he straightens out. “Let’s move onto the more important stuff.” A long pause. He watches as Xie Lian leans over with interest and Hua Cheng rolls his eyes and settles back into his seat. “The food.”

He Xuan contributes significantly more to the conversation after that.

 

— 

 

Shi Qingxuan [12:03]
He-xiong!!!!!! (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧
I heard that you’re planning Xie Lian and Hua Cheng’s wedding??
Why didn’t you tell me!!!!!
Do you need any help? ヽ(°〇°)ノ

[12:05] He Xuan
no
i’m not planning their wedding

Shi Qingxuan [12:06]
Whaaaat???
But Xie Lian just texted me a picture of the guest list!!!
I’d recognize your handwriting anywhere φ(︶▽︶)φ

[12:06] He Xuan
i’m a professional scribe

Shi Qingxuan [12:07]
YOU LOST YOUR JOB AT THE AQUARIUM???
HE-XIONG
WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME?????

[12:07] He Xuan
shut up
what do you want

Shi Qingxuan [12:08]
Well
As your bestest best friend

[12:08] He Xuan
who’s that

Shi Qingxuan [12:09]
Okay you’re right (╯︵╰,)
As your bestest best friend after Hua Cheng*

[12:09] He Xuan
STOP.

Shi Qingxuan [12:09]
〜(><)〜

[12:09] He Xuan
just
ok
continue

Shi Qingxuan [12:10]
(⁀ᗢ⁀)
Okay!!!!!!
So as I was saying, as your bestest best friend, I think I should help you!!!
Or at least I should offer you my help
I know that Hua Cheng personally asked you to be his wedding planner because the two of you are friends
But still!!!!
Xie Lian is my best friend (after you, of course) so I don’t think he’ll mind!!!!!
I’ll text him right now to ask
Brb!!!!!!!!! (b ᵔ▽ᵔ)b
Okay I’m back :D
He said it’s okay!!!!!!!!!

[12:15] He Xuan
ok
i’ll leave the wedding planning to you then

Shi Qingxuan [12:15]
What!!!!! No!!!!!
I meant we should do it together!!!!!!
Like, as two (2)
Let me find a kaomoji to show you what I mean
Oh here’s one!!!!
( ˘⌣˘)♡(˘⌣˘ )
He-xiong???
Are you still there?????
He-xiong??
Heeeee-xiooonggggg????

[12:25] He Xuan
im here

Shi Qingxuan [12:25]
Welcome back!!!! ヽ(*⌒▽⌒*)ノ

[12:27] He Xuan
you can help with the seating chart
if you want

Shi Qingxuan [12:27]
Okay!!! I’d love to!!!!!!
We can meet tomorrow!!! I’ll come over (^_^)

[12:28] He Xuan
ok

 

 

“Qingxuan is coming over,” He Xuan says the next day. 

Hua Cheng immediately stops moving where he’s bent over and peering into the fridge. The sight is quite funny, actually, and if He Xuan cared enough he would definitely laugh. 

“Oh are they,” says Hua Cheng. He grabs the nearest bottle of water and swings the fridge door closed. “Excellent. I will be right here. On the couch. Watching.”

“That’s so fucking creepy.”’

“I derive entertainment from watching you suffer,” says Hua Cheng.

“Trust me,” says He Xuan, and with this he slumps down on the couch, “I know.”

Two hours later, when Shi Qingxuan does step through the door in all their glory, Hua Cheng very pointedly sticks to his word. He perches himself at the dining table, landing his cheek in the palm of his hand, and stares out into the living room. He Xuan has a strong urge to kick his ass. 

He doesn’t, unfortunately.

“I brought colored pencils and everything!” says Shi Qingxuan as they drop a bucket of arts supplies onto the floor. He Xuan’s eyes widen as he stares down at them, blinking slowly. “This way,” Shi Qingxuan continues, oblivious, “we can color code every table and every person. Do you have a physical copy of the guest list?”

“I do!” comes Hua Cheng’s voice from off to the side. He sounds absolutely pleased. He Xuan is going to fucking murder his nose when they’re done here. 

“Thanks!” says Shi Qingxuan as they accept the flimsy piece of paper. They look down at it, pressing their lips together thoughtfully. “Well, obviously He-xiong and I will sit together.”

“No,” says He Xuan immediately. “You can sit with your brother.”

“Of course I’ll sit with my brother,” says Shi Qingxuan, frowning. “So you can sit with us. Right here, next to me.” They quickly reach for a marker and draw a large circle right at the bottom of a blank sheet of poster paper. “I’ll be here,” they say as they draw a stick figure with a bubbling smile. “And you’ll be here.” Another stick figure to the right of the first one, this one with furrowed eyebrows and a slight frown. Personally, He Xuan is offended. “And my brother will be here, on my other side!” A third stick figure, this one with a look of indifference.

“Superb art skills,” Hua Cheng comments, and He Xuan starts when he notices him right over his shoulder, peering down at the page. “I especially like Hei Shui’s face.”

“Shut the fuck up,” says He Xuan. “And don’t call me that.”

Hua Cheng shrugs, waltzing back over to the dining table and sliding into the nearest seat.

He Xuan turns back to the problem at hand, also known as Shi Wudu. “No,” he says again, then picks up another marker lying on the floor and moves to cross his designated stick figure out. “You and your brother can sit at this table. I will sit at the farthest one away from you. Preferably the one near the buffet.”

Shi Qingxuan’s eyes widen. “There’s a buffet?”

“Of course there’s a buffet.”

Shi Qingxuan turns to look at Hua Cheng. “There’s a buffet?”

Hua Cheng raises an eyebrow. “Hei Shui is the wedding planner, so you should probably ask him.”

“You know,” says Shi Qingxuan to He Xuan, “I’ve always wondered why he calls you Hei Shui.”

“Stop wondering,” says He Xuan through gritted teeth. “And draw me again. At a table near the buffet.”

Shi Qingxuan tuts their tongue at the roof of their mouth. From this close, He Xuan can hear it. It vibrates around the yolk of his ear, and he stuffs it down before his brain can settle into it. “Then I’ll put me and my brother at the table near the buffet too.”

“No need.”

“Of course there’s a need!” Shi Qingxuan exclaims. “After all, He-xiong, we’re best friends.”

“Yeah, He-xiong,” comes Hua Cheng’s infuriating voice once again, “you’re best friends.”

Shi Qingxuan claps their hands and nods firmly. “Exactly!” They do an air high-five with Hua Cheng. 

He Xuan wants to crawl into a hole and rot there for the rest of his life.

Later, when Hua Cheng has (finally) left the apartment to go on a date with Xie Lian, Shi Qingxuan very seriously turns to stare at He Xuan. He Xuan returns the gaze with a blank expression. 

“What?” he asks.

“We,” they say, “have the moral obligation to give Hua Cheng a very serious shovel talk at the wedding.”

“Absolutely not,” says He Xuan immediately. “You can give as many shovel talks as you’d like. As for me? No thank you.”

“But you’re Hua Cheng’s fr—”

“We are not friends,” He Xuan cuts in before Shi Qingxuan can finish. There’s only so many times he can stand hearing the words Hua Cheng and friend in the same sentence. “We tolerate each other. Mutual feelings of forbearance, is all. He’s been my roommate for three years, so I’m forced to talk to him. There’s literally nothing else. We hate each other, actually. Despise each other to the core.”

Shi Qingxuan looks at him skeptically. “Are you sure, He-xiong? Because from what it looks like, to me, you two have a really special bond!”

“No bond,” says He Xuan. “There’s no bond.”

“Hm,” says Shi Qingxuan. “Well, if you say so.” Then, “So you’ll join me for the shovel talk, right?”

“No.”

“Yes you will.”

“I will not.”

“...What if I buy you dinner?”

He Xuan pauses, considers. “Seafood.”

Shi Qingxuan grins, then throws up two thumbs-up. “Deal!”

 

 

“WHAT THE FUCK,” says Feng Xin. “WHO’S GETTING MARRIED?”

“Stop yelling,” says Mu Qing. “Do you want us to get kicked out?”

Feng Xin ignores him. “We’re joining you,” he says, slapping the palm of his hand onto the restaurant table. “We’re there for that shovel talk. Oh, yes. Abso-fucking-lutely.”

Mu Qing’s eyes are closed. His arms are crossed as he sits, pin-straight, next to Feng Xin. Then he looks up and nods, gaze narrow and serious. “What he said.”

“Why are they here,” says He Xuan, turning to look at Shi Qingxuan who is sitting beside him. He thought Shi Qingxuan was treating just him to a meal. But obviously not. What the fuck.

Shi Qingxuan waves him off. “Relax, He-xiong. I need to gather people for our cause.”

“Your cause,” says He Xuan.

“Our cause now,” says Mu Qing.

“Exactly,” says Feng Xin. “I’ve been meaning to get my hands on that fucktard’s face for ages. Finally, I have an excuse.”

Hm. Well. Actually, He Xuan could get on board with that. Even if he knows for a fact that Feng Xin would be absolutely no match for Hua Cheng.

“Okay, let’s not destroy Hua Cheng’s face,” says Shi Qingxuan. They sigh and look off into space. “He and Xie Lian are so in love.” With this, they turn back to stare directly at Feng Xin and Mu Qing. “You wouldn’t want to be the cause of Xie Lian’s sadness, would you?”

The two go painfully silent.

“I never said anything about doing something to Hua Cheng’s face,” says Mu Qing finally.

“But you were thinking it,” Shi Qingxuan says with a smile. It’s honestly kind of scary. 

Mu Qing rolls his eyes and doesn’t respond. He Xuan keeps his head down, and his eyes remain on his half-full plate of fish. Ah, food, his one and only lo—

“Okay,” says Shi Qingxuan, “so the both of you are in, right? You’ll join me and He-xiong in giving Hua Cheng the shovel talk?”

“Yes,” Feng Xin and Mu Qing say simultaneously. They immediately turn to look at each other.

“Don’t steal my fucking words,” says Feng Xin, jabbing a finger on Mu Qing’s chest.

“Words can’t be stolen, dumbass. And don’t touch me.”

“I’ll touch you however I fucking want—”

“He-xiong,” Shi Qingxuan whispers, and the two’s stupid argument falls into the background, “do you wanna get out of here? They probably won’t notice.”

He Xuan shoves a bite of his meal into his mouth. “Pay for my food first.”

Shi Qingxuan ends up being right. They don’t notice.

 

 

Being Hua Cheng and Xie Lian’s wedding planner actually ends up being much less work than He Xuan had thought, though that’s mostly because Xie Lian does most of it for him. It works out, in any case. So whatever. 

But then, on the day of the wedding:

“What the fuck do you mean you’re already married?”

Hua Cheng leans against the wall across from him, picking at his nails leisurely. He looks absolutely revolting, dressed up in his thick, sparkling red robes. “I mean that gege and I are already married. We wed two weeks ago.”

He Xuan feels his eyebrow tick. “Then what the fuck is all of this for?”

“Formalities,” says Hua Cheng. “And also because gege wanted to have a proper ceremony.” He raises an eyebrow as he stares back at He Xuan’s face. “What? Did you really think I’d let all those losers be at my real wedding?”

That’s—true, actually. And very in-character for the absolute asshole that is Hua Cheng. Fuck. Fucking hell. He Xuan is so stupid—

“I,” he says slowly, “cannot believe that Qingxuan and I spent so much effort on your fake wedding.”

Hua Cheng shrugs. “You volunteered.”

Oh, fuck him. 

“Say that again,” He Xuan hisses. “Do it. I dare you.”

“You volunteered,” Hua Cheng says again, smirking. It’s an ugly look on him. As are most. 

“I hate you and everything you stand for.”

Hua Cheng nods. Then, “Well, the buffet is open.” He gestures somewhere behind him. “Dinner?”

And He Xuan is about to say yes. He’s so fucking close to letting the word slip through his lips, but then—

“I can't,” he mutters. “I have to go and meet up with Qingxuan and Feng Xin and Mu Qing.”

Hua Cheng blinks as he stares at him. “Fascinating,” he says, leaning closer. “You must tell me why.”

He Xuan shoots him a withering look. “To give you a shovel talk.”

“Oh, wonderful,” says Hua Cheng. “I am deeply looking forward to it.”

“Don’t,” says He Xuan. “I wasn’t going to say anything while they did it, but now? I’m going to fucking end you.”

“I’m sure Shi Qingxuan would love to see you get all hot and bothered for me.”

“Fuck you.”

“No thanks,” says Hua Cheng. He flashes him a smile. It’s even uglier than the smirk. “I’m married.”

And, even though it means being subjected to more incredibly obnoxious flirting and teasing, there is one good thing about Hua Cheng and Xie Lian getting married: 

Hua Cheng finally moves out.

Good fucking riddance.