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falling in love (is hard on the knees) - part i

Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)
10,635w; NC-17
Kris/Lay; mentions of Baekhyun/Chanyeol, Kris/Tao, Jongin/Lay and Sehun/Luhan
Summary: Yixing never liked routine, bars, or twinberry cheesecake. Right now, he just might. highschool!au, where Yixing is super dense, Yifan thinks stupidity is contagious, and Jongin is super sarcastic.
A/N: for the most terrible person on earth, deasyellow. Thank you to sunlit and mei_zi for encouraging this monster fic ;~~~;




“Let’s welcome, Wu Yifan.” Kim-seonsaengnim announces with a flourish, as she claps excitedly.

This earns Yixing a hard nudge in the ribs from Jongdae, and he stops doodling in his notebook long enough to shoot him a glare. Jongdae raises his eyebrows suggestively and stifles a laugh, murmuring, “He looks like your type.”

Yixing blinks and asks, “I have a type…?”

“Mister Kim and Mister Zhang, are you done with your party?”

Jongdae jumps and shoots her a sheepish smile, while Yixing mumbles an apology. Luhan makes a soft tsk from his left, as the teacher turns to Yifan and says, “Why don’t you take a seat next to Mister Zhang? He could use some positive light in his life. Mister Kim, please move to the vacant seat at the back.”

“But –“ Yixing and Jongdae both start.

“Unless you’re telling me that getting 25% and 16% respectively for your Math tests is considered satisfactory, Mister Zhang and Mister Kim?”

Yixing promptly shuts up as Jongdae grabs his bag and sulks to the back, proceeding to be isolated by the entire class. Yifan takes a seat next to Yixing and swiftly dumps his bag in between them. Stupidity isn’t contagious, Yixing thinks bitterly. Yifan takes a notebook and a simple, metal pencil case out of his bag and says, his eyes not meeting Yixing’s, “You leave me alone and I’ll do the same, alright?”

He doesn’t wait for a response, simply props his left hand between them and rests his head upon it, right hand scribbling away as the lesson proceeds. Yixing tries not to snort; Jongdae had never been more inaccurate in his life.

-

Yixing trudges into The Paradise Bar and dumps his bag over the barista counter. He leans against the counter and exhales. “Long day?” Baekhyun asks as he wipes a glass.

“Seonsaengnim placed a new guy next to me in class and I’m sure he hates my balls,” Yixing says with a shrug and massages the joint between his neck and shoulder.

Baekhyun laughs and leans against the counter, facing him, saying, “You sure you didn’t freak him out by talking about your unicorn?”

Yixing gives Baekhyun a light shove and yanks his tie off, throwing it on top of his bag, before he grabs his clothes and heads to the washroom. He’s midway walking out of the bathroom, rolling his sleeves up, when Joonmyeon calls for them to gather.

He grabs his tray on the way over and props it against his waist, as Joonmyeon gives them a brief run-through of their revenues for the past month. Yixing likes Joonmyeon; he’s a good boss, gives staff time off to study when the exams roll by, and he tries his best to communicate with Yixing in Mandarin at times. (Even though Yixing can’t understand more than 90% of his words, he appreciates the effort Joonmyeon puts in.)

“So,” Joonmyeon concludes, with a smile, “after months of searching, I’ve found a new barista.”

Chanyeol lets out a small cheer behind Baekhyun and cries out, “Finally!”

Joonmyeon shakes his head and continues, “Now, don’t scare him off, kids. He’s fairly new in Korea, so his Korean isn’t very fluent.”

Yixing yawns and polishes the back of his tray, mulling more about stupid Wu Yifan and his arrogance. “Let’s welcome, Kris.”

Their gazes follow the direction of Joonmyeon's gesturing, to see the back of a tall, lanky guy with brown spiked hair. He turns, a glass in his hand and tosses a small smile in their direction, before his jaw drops a little. His fingers pause on the rim of the glass as he stares and stares and stares at Yixing. Yixing promptly drops his tray.

-

“If you tell anyone about this–“ Yifan starts, as he shoves Yixing back into the wall.

“I would be dead too, don’t you think?” Yixing deadpans.

Yifan rolls his eyes and mutters, “At least you’re not the one on scholarship, Zhang Yixing.”

“It’s Lay,” he says, before adding, “at least it is here.”

Yifan leans against the opposite wall and answers, “Whatever. Same rules apply, you wait tables, I mix drinks. You keep my secret and I’ll do the same for yours, and please don’t try to get chummy with me in school.”

He walks off before Yixing gives an answer, and Yixing turns to bang his head against the wall. It’s been a lovely day thus far.

-

“You’re not serious,” Yixing deadpans as a beaming Luhan pulls Yifan down next to him on the cafeteria bench.

Jongdae laughs into the back of his hand and gives Yixing a nudge in the side. Yifan bows slightly and sets his tray down, opposite Yixing, saying, “Sorry for the disturbance.”

Luhan waves it off and opens his mouth for a reply when Sehun hugs him from the back and whines, “Oppaaa, I’m hungry.”

Jongin mock pukes next to him, murmuring something that sounded like 'who the hell calls another boy oppa', before plopping down next to Yixing, his head falling on Yixing’s shoulder. Luhan laughs, before asking Sehun to open up, leaving Jongdae and Jongin in laughing fits, as Luhan and Sehun promptly turn red.

“Who’s that?” Sehun asks, in an attempt to divert the topic of discussion.

Yifan looks up as Jongin’s eyes turn to him, and he swallows a lump of rice before replying, “I’m Wu Yifan. I’m new here, on scholarship.”

“Yifan’s really smart,” Luhan adds. “He’s Yixing’s sitting partner.”

Jongin snorts and mutters, “Make sure you keep an arm’s length from him. Yixing’s stupidity is so strong it might kill all your brain cells.”

This concludes in Yixing shoving Jongin around for the next ten minutes and Sehun laughing at Jongdae who gets nagged at for laughing, because hey, you’re not any smarter. When Jongin’s apologised enough times for him to sound a little sincere, Yixing abandons his abuse. He laughs and turns back to his food, before catching a soft smile grace Yifan’s features.

Luhan’s leaning in to Yifan, voice dropped to a whisper, a matching smile lighting up his face. Yixing stares and thinks maybe, just maybe, he’s being too hard on someone who’s new and is probably still trying to find his place. He’s almost made a mental note to be nicer to Yifan, before Yifan’s eyes lock on his and his smile is replaced by his usual scowl, as he drops his attention back to his food.

Scratch that thought.

-

“Hey, when do you get off?”

The man is too close for Yixing’s comfort, his body cutting off Yixing’s only escape path. “Um,” he starts.

“Way too late for you,” Baekhyun answers, a smile gracing his face, although his eyes are hard.

The man glares at Baekhyun, before blowing Yixing an air kiss and stalks off. Yixing shivers slightly and mumbles a ‘thanks’ to Baekhyun. He returns to the bar and sits down, running his fingers through his long bangs.

“Maybe you should get a job elsewhere,” Joonmyeon says, taking a seat next to him.

Yixing shakes his head vigorously. “I’d have to take 3 odd jobs to match the pay here. And you know I’m using this to pay off part of my school fees.”

Joonmyeon gives him a small smile and answers, “I know. I’m just worried about you, Yixing. That’s the fifth time this month that you’ve been hit on, isn’t it?”

“They’re harmless,” Yixing mumbles.

Joonmyeon opens his mouth to answer before a usual customer, with cropped black hair and saucer-like eyes waves to him and he waves back. He rests a hand on Yixing’s thigh and says, “Alright, just let me know if they bother you too much.”

Yixing smiles and nods, before Joonmyeon walks off, calling out, “Kyungsoo-yah, over here!”

“Drink for you, Yixing-ge,” Chanyeol chirps and slides Yixing a glass.

Yixing blinks; he’s pretty sure he’s not supposed to drink while he’s on the clock, and Chanyeol knows that. Unless… his eyes fall to Yifan, mixing drinks a short distance away.

“It’s from a customer,” Chanyeol continues. “He just asked me to pass it to you.”

Right. Stupid him. Yixing shrugs and downs it in one shot, almost choking as Yifan slides past him to grab a bottle. Chanyeol is already gone by the time Yixing slams the glass down on the table, slightly lightheaded. God, Chanyeol has to make these things lighter.

The rest of Yixing’s shift goes by in a blur and Yixing isn't very coherent by the time he waves goodbye to Joonmyeon and trudges out of the pub. “Hey,” a voice says as its owner grabs Yixing.

“You don’t look too well,” the voice continues, although Yixing detects no trace of sympathy or concern in it.

He stares at the figure before him, making out a rough shape too bulky to belong to a girl. He shakes his head, as the body draws closer and grinds against him. Yixing tries pushing away, but ends up falling forward instead, as he clutches his head. “Leave me alone,” he bites, but there's less vigor in his voice than he intended it to be.

“But you seem to be enjoying –“

“Hey, he said to leave him alone.”

The hands fall from Yixing’s sides and he vaguely hears some bickering in the background, before he feels hands on his arms, supporting his weight. Yixing struggles and tries to push them away, but his legs feel like jelly, so he settles for making a din and yelling, “Get away from me! Let go!”

“Hey, relax. Jesus.”

Yixing relaxes back into the touch, letting warm arms wrap themselves around him, as he recognises the familiarity of the pitch and the intonation of his mother tongue, before he blacks out entirely.

-

The smell of cologne hits him before Yixing registers how soft the duvet on him feels, and he’s sure his pillow isn’t so soft and his room doesn't smell that nice. Yixing snuggles further under the green duvet; it's so wonderful and soft and comfortable and– wait, wasn’t his duvet blue? Or had his housekeeper changed it without his notice again?

He cracks an eyelid open, before his eyes fly open and he gulps. He’s never been much of a sloth, but the books piled neatly on the table is a sure indication that this is not his room. The absolute lack of furniture was probably another giveaway.

“Oh, you’re awake.”

Yixing lets out a small squeak and hurriedly peeks under the duvet, only letting out a breath of relief when he finds himself fully clothed. When he looks up, Yifan fixes him with a stare that clearly questions his sanity. Yixing shrinks back into the bed and Yifan growls, “Can you hurry up, school’s going to start and there’s no way I’m leaving you in my house alone or walking into school late.”

Does he have to yell early in the morning, Yixing sighs inwardly, before he climbs out of bed and proceeds into the washroom to make himself presentable.

Yifan’s searching his dresser topless when Yixing walks out of the washroom, and Yixing gulps because it’s too early for him to be staring at the way his back muscles flex as he digs the dresser, and the way his biceps–

“I left a fresh change of clothes for you on the edge of the bed,” Yifan says, cutting through Yixing’s vivid fantasy.

He’s pulled on a white long-sleeved shirt and is midway through doing up the buttons, before he raises an eyebrow at Yixing and asks, “You don’t want to go to school with what you wore yesterday, do you?”

Yixing shakes his head slowly, because even Sehun being fed lunch by Luhan wouldn’t buy his excuse of forgetting to change his clothes, much less people like, well, Jongdae. He hesitantly pulls off his top and shrugs on Yifan’s black shirt, trying to rack his brain for an explanation on why he’s in a dull colour today.

“Don’t you know,” Yifan starts, “that it’s pure idiocy to accept a drink from a stranger at a pub of all places?”

Yixing stares down at the buttons on the shirt, eyes averting Yifan’s. He frowns at the shirt, blocking out the sound spewing out of Yifan’s mouth, and he vaguely hears a “hey, are you even listening?”.

“I think there’s something wrong with your shirt.”

“What?”

“The number of buttons exceeds the number of holes,” Yixing says simply.

Yifan stares at him and shakes his head, muttering, “You missed a button, you idiot.”

Yixing blinks and looks down at the shirt. His buttoning skills are fine, because he’s never had problems buttoning a shirt until today, okay. So he shoves the blame to Yifan’s shirt instead.

“Just– let me,” Yifan’s voice says above him, before hands slide over his and starts unbuttoning his shirt.

Yixing watches those hands slowly slide down, before they move up again swiftly, and linger at the second buttonhole after slipping the button through. Yixing casts a glance upwards and swallows at their close proximity, at the light smile playing Yifan’s features. Yixing returns the grin, albeit tentatively, and whispers a “thanks”. Yifan blinks and mutters something under his breath, hands falling back to his side as his usual scowl makes its way back onto his face.

He grabs his bag and heads out the door, before Yixing blinks and scampers after him, only to return to the room five seconds later upon realization that he forgot to take his phone.

-

They end up sneaking in during lunch because Yixing forgets his MP3 player and his earphones, and god, when did he get the chance to unpack if he was knocked out last night?

Jongdae raises an eyebrow as Yixing plops down next to him and rubs his eyes, before he asks, “It’s not much of a surprise that Yixing’s late, but why are you guys together?”

Yixing blinks and curses inwardly, wishing that he had thought of an excuse for this question instead of fussing over his black shirt. Yifan glances up and answers, “Oh um, my house had a blackout, and I saw Yixing in the vicinity, so I, um, called him and asked him to give me a hand.”

“Right, that’s why we’re late,” Yixing stammers and brushes his fringe out of his face; cool as a cucumber, he liked to believe.

Jongin narrows his eyes and asks, “Since when do you own shirts of any colour other than white, hyung?”

Yixing squeezes his eyes shut and prays that maybe if he stayed silent, Jongin would just shut up. Yifan stifles a laugh opposite him and mouths a dui bu qi at him. Jongdae nudges him in the ribs and asks, “So, did you finish that calculus assignment?”

Yixing blinks and replies, “Calculus assignment? What assignment?”

Luhan steals a fry from Sehun and adds helpfully, “The one due in exactly twenty-five minutes?”

Yixing promptly bangs his head on the table, remembering how he had shoved the assignment aside, with self-assurance that he’ll have plenty of time to finish it say, three days down the road, on the night before the actual due date. Lovely how that thought worked out.

When the others walk off to clear their trays, he feels a small jab on his hand and he looks up. Yifan slides him a neatly written assignment and mutters, “Just this once, because I feel bad about not warning you about the drink last night.”

Yixing blinks at the assignment, before Yifan gets up and adds, “You have fifteen minutes to copy that assignment and fake a couple of mistakes. Write fast.”

Luhan appears next to him after Yifan has walked off with Jongdae, and he gives Yixing a smile, before he says, “Your shirt smells like Yifan, just saying.”

-

“It serves the best ice-cream around here,” Yixing announces as he takes his cup of ice-cream from Minseok and gives Yifan a bright smile.

He supposes that this is his way of thanking Yifan for saving his life twice in less than twenty-four hours, and to apologise for depriving him of a good night’s rest, which resulted in Yixing jabbing Yifan in the ribs more than five times during lessons to wake him up.

“Thanks,” Yifan says as he licks the drop of twinberry cheesecake trailing down his ice-cream cone.

Yixing shrugs and sucks on his spoon, as they stroll to The Paradise Bar. He casts a side-glance at Yifan, watches the way he takes in the unfamiliar shops with his eyes and holds the cone with one hand, his bag slung over his shoulder in the other.

“Stop watching me,” Yifan comments and Yixing drops his gaze back to his ice cream, which is starting to turn soupy in his cup.

He frowns at the ice cream, before hearing a stifled laugh from next to him. “My ice cream’s half-melted,” he complains.

Yifan smiles at him and answers, “Eat faster next time.”

Yixing makes a face at him as Yifan pops the last bit of the cone into his mouth, before he rests a hand on Yixing’s arm, halting him mid-step. Yifan leans towards him, and Yixing freezes as his eyes trace Yifan’s thumb making its way up to his face and he braces for impact.

“You got a little ice-cream there,” Yifan says as his thumb traces the corner of Yixing’s lip, before he brings it back up to his mouth and licks it. “Vanilla doesn’t taste half-bad, maybe I’ll try it next time.”

He smirks and turns, leaving Yixing rooted to the spot, wondering what was more mind-blowing – Yifan breathing into his personal space, or how Yifan’s cologne lingered on his nose, even after he was long gone.

-

It’s unlike him to be so late, Yixing notes as he stares at his watch for the tenth time in five minutes. Yifan usually walks into class fifteen minutes before the bell rang, and his presence was making Yixing unnaturally restless.

Jongdae smirks from behind him, and teases, “I was right. Totally your type, Zhang Yixing.”

Yixing turns around and kicks Jongdae in the shin, replying, “Channel your smartness into your academics then, or Kim-seonsaengnim might demote you back into le isolation.”

Jongdae puffs out his cheeks and snaps out a reply, which Yixing ignores as he whips out his cell phone, fingers hovering above the dial button. Yifan dashes in right before he pushes the button, with the grey hood of his sweater pulled so low that it covers his eyes, moments before the bell rings and Kim-seonsaengnim enters. He gives Yixing a small nod and proceeds to rummage his bag for his notebook and pencil case.

Kim-seonsaengnim is five minutes through lesson before she puts down her marker and says, “Mister Wu, even if you’re a model student, I would appreciate it if I could see the eyes of all my students.”

Yifan sinks a little into his seat and hesitantly pushes the hood of his grey sweater down. A soft murmur breaks out through the class and Yixing glances to his left, letting his pencil roll out of his grip, jaw agape.

“Don’t say it,” Yifan hisses under his breath, as he runs fingers through his now blonde hair.

He sees Kim-seonsaengnim stifle a laugh, and Yifan promptly bangs his head on the desk, beside him. “It’s not that bad,” Yixing blurts out.

Yifan gives him a weak smile and resumes with note taking, cursing in Chinese under his breath.

Yixing spends the rest of Math lesson marvelling over the way Yifan pushes his blonde bangs out of his eyes and the way he whispers words under his breath while copying notes from the board.

By the end of lesson, Yixing’s positive he learnt more about Yifan than the different applications of integration techniques, but he shoves it out of his head, because he is not going to admit to Jongdae’s accusation.

-

“So, what exactly happened?” Yixing asks, as he leans against the bar and waits for Yifan to finish mixing the drinks.

Yifan sighs and mutters, “Apparently, the brown hair on the cover of the hair-dye is not representative of the actual colour of its contents.”

Yixing throws back his head and laughs, wiping tears from the corners of his eyes. Yifan slams a finished drink down in front of him and fixes him with a glare, as Yixing singsongs, “That’s why there are labels on the bottles, Kris-gege.”

Yifan scowls. “Thanks, you'd think I would have figured that out by now.”

He mixes the next drink in silence, as Yixing sets the first drink on his tray. “It really doesn’t look that bad,” Yixing says, as he clears his throat.

“Thanks for trying,” Yifan deadpans and continues shaking the cocktail shaker.

“I’m serious,” Yixing says and stares at Yifan. “You look good in blonde.”

Yifan’s hand stills and he pours out the drink, slides it across to Yixing and runs fingers through his hair. Great, he probably think I’m weird now, Yixing mentally face palms. He hurriedly grabs the drink and turns to go, almost missing the soft “thanks”.

When he turns back, Yifan is looking at him, a soft smile playing his lips. Yixing’s breath catches, because that’s the smile; the one that he reserves for Luhan, whom no one has the heart to be mean to, and Chanyeol, who has the uncanny ability to wiggle his way into anyone’s heart.

He gives Yifan a small nod, turns back to resume his duty, and almost trips over the ground.

-

Everything begins to fall into a habit before Yixing realizes.

Yifan would demand to check Yixing’s assignments before classes start each day, nagging at him with “why is this question undone”, or simply “didn’t I teach you how to do this yesterday”.

So when Kim-seonsaengnim returns Yixing his math test, with a huge 56% written on it, Yixing rubs his eyes and throws Yifan his brightest smile. This results in Yifan scolding him in Chinese over his careless mistakes for the next ten minutes while flipping through his paper, but Yixing doesn’t miss the way his lips curve up slightly as he returns Yixing his paper, his fingers brushing across Yixing’s knuckles.

Yifan would wait for him to finish his extra lessons every day, before they walk to The Paradise Bar together, with excuses of “I’m more productive studying in school so I might as well wait for you”.

Yixing discovers the truth behind the statement when he walks into class after his extra lessons one day to find Yifan sprawled out on his Chinese Literature textbook. He smiles and carefully pulls out the chair next to Yifan, takes out his books and proceeds to copy Luhan’s notes into it.

“Why didn’t you wake me?”

Yixing jumps and watches Yifan sit upright, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. He smiles and replies, “You seemed tired. You don’t have to wait for me every day, ge. You can always go home and–“

“I want to,” Yifan interrupts, his hand landing on Yixing’s thigh, causing all higher motor functions in Yixing to stop abruptly.

Yifan shoves his textbook into his bag, slings it over his shoulder and heads for the door. Yixing stares at his back, grabs his stuff and rushes out to meet Yifan at the door, ignoring the fluttering in his chest.

-

“Are you busy after school today?” Yixing asks, as he flips through Luhan’s notes and adds points to his own.

“You’re not skipping class,” Yifan deadpans and twirls his pencil, casting a side-glance at him.

Yixing gives him a light punch in the arm and says, “I don’t have class today. Kim-seonsaengnim cut down on my remedial classes cause of my amazing improvement in recent Math tests.”

Yifan snorts, which earns another series of light whacks from Yixing, before he replies, “I don’t have anything on until… well.”

He meets Yixing’s eyes - The Paradise Bar - and nods, continuing, “Why’d you ask?”

-

“A warning would suffice in future.”

Yixing makes a face and gestures excitedly to the yoghurt stall, speaking rapidly, “It’s been here for 2 weeks and Luhan-ge’s already been here twice with Sehun, and he keeps praising it, so I just want to try it personally.”

Yifan sighs and watches Yixing debate between three different yoghurt flavours, before requesting for free samples from the salesgirl. “Keep the change,” Yifan insists as he shoves a note into the salesgirl’s hand.

Yixing stares at him, eyes bright with confusion as he licks his green spoon. Yifan walks to meet him and says, “It’s courtesy, for letting you try free samples.”

“Hey! Sehun said they give out free samples, stop making me seem like a freeloader! … And that looks really good,” Yixing finishes and sticks his spoon into Yifan’s yoghurt, ignoring Yifan’s “hey, I haven’t even tried it yet”.

“Yifan…?”

Yifan freezes, his eyes downcast on his yoghurt, as Yixing’s eyes trail the voice to its owner. He doesn’t look much older than them, with his short jet black hair spiked up, and his ripped jeans and sleek blue shirt. He approaches them, another man trailing behind, and throws a smile at Yifan.

“You look good,” he starts. “Better than, you know, back in–“

“I’m fine,” Yifan says, though Yixing doesn’t miss the way his eyes flash and the tension in his arms as he grips his spoon. “You look wonderful too, Zitao.”

“Yifan –“

“No, we’re done here.”

Yifan dumps his half-eaten yoghurt into the trashcan and turns back to Zitao, a stiff smile in place, as he finishes, “But it was great meeting you again, Zitao.”

He grabs Yixing’s hand, gives it a tight squeeze and drags him off, without a backward glance. They walk in silence for five minutes, before Yifan finally pauses and squeezes his eyes shut, exhaling, “I’m going insane.”

Yixing blinks, brain still whirling without comprehension of the situation, and rubs circles into Yifan’s palm with his thumb, mumbling, “Sorry, let’s just settle for ice-cream next time.”

Yifan throws him a small smile and shakes his head. They continue walking towards The Paradise Bar, with Yixing rubbing circles into Yifan’s palm soothingly.

It only strikes Yixing how weird all this is when Chanyeol starts teasing them the moment they step through the door, fingers still entwined. Yifan lets go almost immediately and dumps his bag behind the bar, rushing into the washroom, leaving Yixing dumbfounded by the door next to a clapping and laughing Chanyeol.

-

He can practically hear Jongdae singing merrily “told you so” as Baekhyun clutches his waist and leads him to the bar.

Yifan frowns at him as he shakes the cocktail shaker, while Yixing toes off his shoes and examines the base. “It’s not that bad,” Yixing concludes, after staring at the lack of lines on the soles for five minutes.

Baekhyun jabs him lightly in the arm and nags, “Yeah, say that after you nearly slipped twice and almost broke your waist the third time if I hadn’t caught you, Lay.”

Yixing makes a face and complains, “I’ll be extra careful, promise. Just let me continue–“

“No, not unless you get new shoes,” Joonmyeon says as he materializes behind them. “I don’t want you hurting yourself, Lay.”

“There are high heels in the storeroom,” Chanyeol chirps helpfully as Baekhyun bursts into laughter.

Yixing bangs his head against the bar and sighs. Joonmyeon rests a hand on his back and starts, “Maybe you should head home early and–“

“Take mine.”

Yixing stares up, just as Yifan toes off his shoes and hold them over the bar to Yixing with a look that clearly states you’re such a troublesome kid. He shrugs and continues, “I don’t have to move around much, so shoes aren’t really a necessity unless Chanyeol decides to step on me.”

Chanyeol’s jaw drops as he flails a little, insisting that he will do no such thing. Yifan ignores him and curls his fingers around Yixing’s wrist, urging Yixing to take his shoes. Yixing takes them hesitantly and mumbles, “Thanks, Kris-ge.”

Yixing slips on the shoes, sighing at the difference in size, and proceeds to dragging his feet around the bar for the rest of the night.

-

“You had sneakers and you didn’t tell me?” Yixing complains, as he stares at Baekhyun.

Baekhyun shrugs and answers, “They’re unprofessional for waiters.”

Yixing slips on Baekhyun’s sneakers and waves to him and Chanyeol, before receiving his pay envelope from Joonmyeon. He bows a goodnight and heads off, humming a new SHINee song under his breath.

He pauses, when he sees Yifan a distance away, walking slower than usual. Yixing jogs to keep up with his pace, and gives him a pat on the back, causing Yifan to jump and nearly drop his phone. Yixing beams at him and rubs the back of his neck, before saying, “Just want to thank you for your shoes just now.”

Yifan shrugs and slips his phone into his pocket, before he takes a few steps forward. Yixing watches him, watches the way his face cringes every time his right leg hits the ground.

“You’re injured, aren’t you?”

Yifan pauses and turns back, gives Yixing a smile and replies, “It’s just a minor cut, nothing to worry–“

Yixing doesn’t wait for him to finish, just grabs his bag and trots off in front of him, before turning back and saying, “I… have no idea where you live.”

Yifan sighs and limps next to Yixing. Yixing slips a hand around his waist and says, “Just lean your weight against me, it’ll be less strenuous on your leg.”

“Thanks,” Yifan says hesitantly, his eyes averting Yixing’s, as his hand rests on Yixing’s waist and he presses his side against Yixing’s. Yixing momentarily wishes to swallow his words, because there was no way his heart could endure this without bursting, and damn his body for reacting this way.

Instead, he just breathes deeply and thinks sad thoughts to slow down his heart, almost banging into a lamppost if not for Yifan’s exclamation.

-

Yixing presses his face against the windowpane of the bus and adds another stop to his mental checklist. He vaguely wonders how Yifan managed to carry his dead weight up the bus, past five bus stops (at least thus far) and pass a short distance to his house.

When he voices it out absent-mindedly to himself, Yifan shrugs and responds, “Oh, I ran into Joonmyeon. He gave us a lift back to my house, because we couldn’t get an address out of you.”

“Oh,” Yixing mumbles, as Yifan makes a sign at him to get off at the next stop.

Yixing stands and grabs Yifan’s bag, ignoring his protests of “I’m fine”, “I can carry that by myself” and “you’re overreacting”.

Eventually, Yifan gives up and settles for leading them the right way to his house. Yixing stares at his surroundings, committing the journey to Yifan’s house to memory. He might need it someday, okay.

Yifan promptly collapses on his couch once they enter his apartment, as Yixing places Yifan’s bag gently on the ground. “Where’s your first-aid kit?”

“Hmm? First cabinet to your left.”

Yixing finds it after Yifan repeats himself three times, with an emphasis on left, no your other left, you moron. He kneels down before Yifan and Yifan presses his back against the couch, sputtering, “What are you doing?”

“Helping you apply ointment. It’s my fault that you’re injured after all,” Yixing explains.

Yifan’s warm hand on his wrist stills Yixing’s movements entirely, as Yifan mutters, “It’s fine, I can do it by myself.”

He gently pries the cotton bud out of Yixing’s hand and pulls off his sock, revealing a scarlet patch of blood on his heel. He pours some ointment onto the cotton bud and presses it to his heel, squeezing his eyes shut and letting out a hiss, while Yixing continues kneeling on the ground, feeling absolutely useless.

He stays that way for about thirty seconds, before Yixing gets up and says, “Let me at least cook you supper as an apology and a thanks, alright?”

Yifan sighs and gives a small nod. “Thanks.”

After moments of digging about the kitchen cabinet, Yixing turns to Yifan, holds up a packet of ramyeon and deadpans, “This is the only edible thing in your house. How do you survive?”

“Takeout?” Yifan suggests, before he confesses, “Alright, I can’t really cook, or so I’ve been told.”

Yixing grins and announces, “Then today’s your lucky day, because you’re about to taste the best ramyeon on Earth, consisting solely of noodles and eggs.”

He’s not too far off (or so he hopes) as he sets the bowl down before Yifan ten minutes later. Yifan picks up his chopsticks and bows slightly. “I’m going to start eating.”

Yixing sits opposite him and watches Yifan hesitantly pick up a few strands of noodles. He slowly brings it to his mouth and swallows, before his eyes light up and he comments, “This doesn’t taste half bad.”

“It’s just ramyeon, it’s not that difficult to prepare, especially if you’re Zhang Yixing.”

Yifan rolls his eyes and holds his chopsticks out to Yixing, asking, “Want some?”

Yixing stares at the chopsticks - the ones that were touching Yifan’s lips just seconds ago – before he settles for waddling back to the kitchen to fish out another pair of chopsticks. He bites on its edge, and says hesitantly, “Maybe just one mouthful.”

The bowl of ramyeon ends up between both of them, with their heads bent as they slurp at the noodles. Yixing beams in approval at his creation, before his eyes fall on Yifan’s head bent over the bowl, his long lashes framing his eyes, his lips red from the spice of the soup, and Yixing swallows, shifting slightly in his seat, as he crosses his right leg over his left.

Yifan looks up and smiles, saying, “I admit I had my doubts, but thanks for the meal.”

Yixing nods, gives a stiff smile and leans back down to the bowl to take another spoonful of soup. He freezes at the feel of hair brushing against his forehead, heart in his throat as he takes in Yifan’s close proximity.

His brain only manages to process the progression of things when Yifan’s lips are an inch away from his, and Yixing’s left panicking if he’s supposed to kiss him or if this is his cue to run.

The decision is made for him when Yifan curses under his breath and picks up his phone, rapid Mandarin falling from his lips. Yixing exhales and drops his chopsticks, his mind still whirling.

He ends up grabbing his bag, gives Yifan a small bow and rushes out of the apartment, ignoring Yifan’s yells of “hey, hang on”.

-

Yixing makes a special effort to arrive five seconds before the bell for class rings the next day. He even opts to sit opposite Luhan and watch him make kissy-faces (or so Jongdae claims) at Sehun, because he can’t deal with this; he doesn’t know how to.

He ends up getting dragged out of his seat by Yifan, who says simply, “I want to get a drink, come with me, Yixing.”

Yixing tries to throw Jongdae a pleading look, but gets promptly ignored as Jongin sticks his tongue out at him and mouths deal with your own shit, hyung. Yifan finally lets go when they’re a good distance away, and he runs fingers through his blonde hair, before saying, “Look, I’m sorry about yesterday, so can you not.”

Yixing stares at him, as Yifan leans against the wall and continues, “I mean, I don’t know what happened alright? But if you’re just going to act all weird about it, can we just pretend it never happened?”

There are a thousand things that Yixing would have liked to say, like no, it’s fine or but what if I liked it, maybe just something which would match his wit. However, the first words that come tumbling out of his mouth are nothing in that list. “But I’m a guy.”

Yifan stares at him with a look that clearly questioned his sanity, so Yixing shrinks back slightly and bites his lip, mentally face-palming at the absolute lameness of the words that had just spewed out of his mouth. “Yes, I’ve noticed,” Yifan says with a roll of his eyes, “just like how I’m perfectly aware that Zitao is a guy.”

“What?”

Yifan sighs and closes his eyes, massaging the bridge of his nose with his index finger and his thumb. He finally says, “Zitao, the guy we met at the yoghurt stall. He’s my ex, alright?”

Yixing stares at him, mouth agape, because Yifan looks like he would be totally into hips and um boobs, rather than, well, dicks. “Just… forget about that, if it’s only going to cause more awkwardness, because I really don’t need more judgment in my life alright, Yixing?”

He turns to leave, as Yixing blurts out, “I used to have the biggest crush on Baekhyun, until he um, got together with Chanyeol, of course.”

Yifan turns and raises an eyebrow. Yixing exhales shakily and continues, “I mean, I’m not going to judge you based on your sexuality. Or I would have cut all ties with Luhan and Sehun long ago, don’t you think?”

“Oh,” Yifan says, before he casts a look at the ground and smiles. “That’s cool to know.”

He limps off, and this time, Yixing lets him, as he introduces his forehead to the wall behind him with the realization of the impact of his words.

-

“You’re an idiot,” Jongin pants, as he moves in sync with Yixing to the steady bass of Sherlock.

Yixing ignores him and executes the final move flawlessly, before he collapses to the ground and closes his eyes. He hears a soft rustle beside him, before he feels Jongin run fingers through his hair.

“By admitting you’re gay after running away from your kiss–“

“It was an almost-kiss!” Yixing protests.

Jongin rolls his eyes and continues, “Right, same thing. You’ve practically slammed it in his face that you have zero interest in him. And here I was, telling Sehun that you’re possibly the last person to be deemed a heart breaker. I’m absolutely disappointed in you, Zhang Yixing.”

Yixing bolts upright and whines, “But he caught me off guard, what was I supposed to do?”

“So it would have freaked you out less if he said conversationally ‘hey, I’m about to kiss you’?” Jongin says with a raised eyebrow. “Get a grip, Yixing. You either kiss back because you like him or you shove him away because you don’t.”

“But,” Yixing starts and Jongin fixes him with a stare. “… I don’t know how I feel about him.”

It’s Jongin’s turn to collapse on the ground, as he covers his eyes with a towel and says, “You, Zhang Yixing, are the biggest idiot on Earth.”

Yixing ponders Jongin’s words for several moments before he sighs, “Maybe you’re right.”

Jongin sits up and gives him a gentle nudge in the ribs, a small smile forming on his lips. “If you’re regretting it now, it’s not too late to turn back and lay one on him.”

Yixing glares at him and shoves him to the ground, poking at his sides as Jongin squirms and lets out small gasps.

He promptly forgets about Jongin’s words until a week later.

Tags: !fanfic, fandom: exo, p: baekhyun/chanyeol, p: kai/lay, p: kris/lay, p: kris/tao, p: sehun/luhan, rating: nc-17
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