This was Tao Xiaodong’s first time seeing Tang Suoyan drink.
He had mentioned that he didn’t like drinking.
He didn’t like the way spirits dulled his mind and impaired his judgement.
The waiter brought a set of tableware over.
Tao Xiaodong asked him what he wanted to eat.
Tang Suoyan asked him if he had noodles yet and Tao Xiaodong said that he already had.
The last time, Tang Suoyan didn’t finish his noodles; it was Tao Xiaodong who finished them for him.
Tang Suoyan said with a smile, “I saved some space on purpose to have noodles with you, but since you already had them, then never mind that.”
Tao Xiaodong promptly called the waiter over.
“I’d like a bowl of longevity noodles, please.”
He had nowhere to put down the flowers, so he continued to carry it in the crook of his left arm.
After a while, Xia Yuan, sitting to his left, could hardly take it, pointedly asking, “Dong, can’t you put down those flowers of yours”
Tao Xiaodong glanced at him.
His left hand was still injured so didn’t have much mobility.
Hearing his question, Tao Xiaodong deliberately lowered his arm, flashing the flowers even more towards Xia Yuan.
“Is it in your way”
“Seriously, I’m scared I’d scrape your flowers if I even did as much as move my chopsticks.” Xia Yuan did actually reach out and, with a flick, caused a petal to drop.
“Don’t be obnoxious.”
“I swear I’ll snap your fingers.” Tao Xiaodong hugged the flowers to his bosom, checking around the room for someplace to put them down.
Tang Suoyan took it from him and stood up, putting it on the settee behind them for him.
“Bet someone snapped yours,” Xia Yuan taunted him, “then before they could break them, you did it yourself.”
Tao Xiaodong didn’t have the spare mind to bicker with him; all his attention was directed to Tang Suoyan.
Tang Suoyan took a seat after that, unfastening his cuffs and rolling up his sleeves.
The buzz of conversation around them conversely set apart a relatively quiet corner for them to speak without being overheard.
Tao Xiaodong moved the ashtray beside his right hand to Xia Yuan’s side.
“Don’t you have something on today” Tao Xiaodong shifted closer to Tang Suoyan, asking him softly.
Tang Suoyan said that he did.
“Why come, then” Tao Xiaodong said, “I was afraid I’d mess up your schedule.”
Tang Suoyan sipped some water.
The alcohol just now had burned his throat slightly.
After the water, he glanced at Tao Xiaodong and said, “This is what I have on today.”
Tao Xiaodong, “Huh”
Tang Suoyan said with a soft chuckle.
“How can I let Director Tao pass his birthday mad at me”
“Fuck, I’m not.” Tao Xiaodong hurriedly said, “Nothing of that sort… don’t say that, Yan ge.”
The emotions from that night had dissipated ages ago, and if he was feeling anything now, it definitely wasn’t anger.
Across from them, someone laughed watching them, and Tang Suoyan smiled back, leaning naturally towards Tao Xiaodong to speak in his ear.
In this position, anyone watching them would think that they were whispering sweet nothings, especially with Tao Xiaodong blocking Tang Suoyan’s lips.
Well, they were whispering sweet nothings.
“We’ll discuss that later.” Tang Suoyan paused.
Moving their heads closer still, Tang Suoyan propped a hand on the back of Tao Xiaodong’s seat, then told him in a lowered voice:
“…Don’t get drunk.”
Tao Xiaodong turned over to look at him.
Tang Suoyan’s expression never flickered, still smiling gently and looking handsome.
There were emotions in his eyes, which were focused solely on him.
They hadn’t seen each other in days, and with Tang Suoyan was gazing at him like this now, only he knew what it did to his heart.
“What are you two doing” Xia Yuan asked again, crumbling a little on the inside from sitting next to them.
It was impossible to pretend to see nothing, but it was also terribly awkward to look over that way.
With this interruption, Tang Suoyan dropped his arm and sat up straight.
Tao Xiaodong looked at Xia Yuan, “What”
“Who knows what you’re up to with your heads smushed together”
Tao Xiaodong said, “Nothing, he was just saying something.”
He was unwilling to let them take their jokes about Tang Suoyan too far.
The two of them were different.
It didn’t matter if he was the butt of their jokes, he was used to that, but he was reluctant to let them turn it to Tang Suoyan, afraid that the other would get uncomfortable.
Tian Yi had sat to the side for a long moment, only now then gathering his wits, suddenly shrugged and joined in the fun.
“You sure can put on an act.” He held Tao Xiaodong’s gaze.
“Even acting in front of your sworn brothers.
I mean, if you want to dupe Lao Xia, that’s fine, but I can’t believe you also hid it from me. Tao Xiaodong, we need to talk.”
He pointedly called out his full name, a sharp bite on the Tao.
“I’ll be damned, no wonder you got so riled up last time, it sent me straight down memory lane.”
Blinking, Xia Yuan also made the connection, going “hey” in surprise.
“You’d even bungled my last gathering; smashing stuff and walking out with a bang, leaving me with the fall-out.
I’d say… from the way you reacted, I almost thought they were talking about you instead.”
Tao Xiaodong knew which incident they were referring to.
At that time, he wasn’t with Tang Suoyan yet, so he merely said, “I wasn’t hiding it from you guys.”
“Last time” Tang Suoyan looked at Tian Yi.
Tian Yi’s brain took two turns, picking his words.
“It was a while back at a social gathering.
There were two less familiar guys around, only friends on the surface, who started to talk behind your back after drinking some.”
Tang Suoyan was taken aback.
I won’t say who it is, it’s already in the past.” Tian Yi slid Tao Xiaodong a look, harrumphing.
“Xiaodong seriously wasn’t having it at all.
He got up with the meanest scowl and toppled everything over.”
This matter was not known to Tang Suoyan.
He looked at Tao Xiaodong, who was scrubbing his face, unable to keep listening.
“What did you say again I was thinking that it was so unlike him, not even trying to keep up appearances for me.” Xia Yuan still felt awkward recollecting the scene back then.
“Let me do the honours.” Tian Yi and Xia Yuan took turns embarrassing Tao Xiaodong.
He didn’t often get so riled up, so Tian Yi still remembered it pretty well.
He copied the scowl Tao Xiaodong was wearing at that time.
I’ve been bearing with you for ages now.
The Tang Suoyan that you’re talking about is my friend.
Your prattle is a nuisance to my ears, I won’t stand for any of it.’ Something like that, was it not My memory has faded a bit now.
In any case, way cool, dude.”
Among those at the table, only Xia Yuan and Tian Yi knew about that incident, but this lack of knowledge didn’t prevent them from being amused by Tian Yi’s caricature.
Thanks to these two blabbermouths, Tao Xiaodong lost every shred of dignity in front of Tang Suoyan.
“Brothers, spare me this once.” The retelling made him seem too impetuous; Tao Xiaodong was going to have a breakdown.
“I really wasn’t hiding it from you guys on purpose.
When that happened, there was really nothing going on between me and Yan ge.
If there was, I’d have gotten them to stuff it from the get-go.”
Truthfully, Tao Xiaodong wasn’t in a position to do so at that time.
Tian Yi and Xia Yuan weren’t dense.
During this whole spiel, neither had uttered a mention of Tong Ning.
At that time, he was the one in the position to speak, not Tao Xiaodong.
“If there was nothing going on at that time, then what about now, huh” Xia Yuan, with a sly hook, hit back at once.
Tao Xiaodong was exasperated.
What was up with that question
Tang Suoyan calmly received the question, answering with poise, “That’s for certain.
Now, it all applies.”
It was impossible not to hoot at this.
They were a crowd of troublemakers.
Considering that Tao Xiaodong was finally able to introduce someone to them after so many years, how could they let it pass that easily Tang Suoyan said that it all applied now, well, do tell us more.
What all applied How did it come about
Who else had what they had Who didn’t
Tao Xiaodong was getting frazzled.
He called for attention and poured himself a glass, interrupting them.
“I’ll drink, okay Leave it.”
Tian Yi didn’t let him off, breezily sliding in, “Nobody’s asking you.”
“Quit asking at all,” Tao Xiaodong grabbed Tang Suoyan’s glass, standing up.
“Have at me, c’mon, hurry up.
Take a swig before you speak, don’t just flap your chops.”
A relationship changed a man.
Tao Xiaodong couldn’t care in the least what was said in the past; nothing could touch him.
But it was different now.
They had hardly made headway and he was already putting a stop to it.
This crowd were experts at pitting others; Tao Xiaodong bore the brunt of it.
Later on, Tang Suoyan said he was having a headache and the both of them excused themselves to go up.
It was midday, only about two in the afternoon, and they got a room upstairs.
Tang Suoyan had returned home late last night, Tao Xiaodong hoped to let him rest for a while.
He, on the other hand, couldn’t leave yet.
Those downstairs were planning to party into the night.
“Have you had too much to drink, Yan ge” Tao Xiaodong followed him up, still concerned that Tang Suoyan had excused himself with a headache.
“You sound like you’re mocking me,” Tang Suoyan said while swiping the card to enter, “just that half glass of alcohol and you’re asking me if I’ve had too much to drink”
“Don’t you usually abstain from drinking”
When they entered the room, Tang Suoyan slid the card into the wall slot, then hung up the jacket draped over his arm.
“Rest for a while.” Moving from outside into a personal space for two muted the noise in his ears, and then Tao Xiaodong abruptly recalled, cursing, “Crap, I let my flowers downstairs.”
He immediately turned to get them, but Tang Suoyan, who had already walked in, smoothly stopped him upon hearing that, reaching from the back to wind an arm around the other’s neck.
Tao Xiaodong, caught off-guard, leaned back minutely.
“Where are you going” asked Tang Suoyan.
“I’ve to bring the flowers up, I don’t want anyone to wreck them after getting **faced,” Tao Xiaodong said, leaning back still.
Their positions seemed off.
Eyelashes batting twice, Tao Xiaodong raised his right hand, placing it on the arm Tang Suoyan had around him.
Tang Suoyan spun around, never dropping his arm, practically using his body to push Tao Xiaodong along, telling him in a low voice as they walked in, “If they do, I’ll buy you another bouquet… I want to buy you flowers every day.”
Was it possible for anyone to hold out when he spoke like that
Tao Xiaodong stopped talking then, allowing Tang Suoyan to push him along.
When they walked up to the bathroom door, Tang Suoyan spoke in his ear, lips brushing the shell of his ear, words slow, voice low and steady, “I’m giving you five minutes.
Go take a shower.”
This half of Tao Xiaodong’s body had gone a tingly sort of numb.
He wanted to turn his head to look at Tang Suoyan, but, constrained as he was, the attempt was unsuccessful.
“…Yan ge.” Tao Xiaodong cleared his throat.
His voice had turned slightly raspy, the sound indecipherable.
Tang Suoyan continued to push him into the bathroom, still speaking to him in that low timbre, “Don’t get your clothes wet.
You’ll have to wear them again tonight.”
He was getting giddy from the blood rushing to his head.
There, Tao Xiaodong remained rooted to the spot.
Tang Suoyan thrust him against the wall and bit down powerfully on his nape.
When an area sensitive to touch was bitten, the stimulation from pain turned every subtle reaction all the more pronounced.
Tao Xiaodong stifled a groan, sucking in a breath.
“Five minutes.” Tang Suoyan patted his hip, softly pressing a kiss to the spot that he’d just bitten.
Tang Suoyan seemed a little different from usual today.
Tao Xiaodong stood there stunned for a moment or two.
He was a bit unable to endure Tang Suoyan being this way; if this continued, he was sure to lose control.
“If you’re not going to shower, come out.” Tang Suoyan abruptly spoke up from inside the room.
Tao Xiaodong leaned against the wall, quiet for two seconds.
Then, the corners of his lips suddenly hooked up.
His jacket was shucked off and thrown straight outside.
His T-shirt, jeans, and underwear followed behind, and his belt chattered loudlu to the ground.
Tao Xiaodong reached out and, with a twist, water rained down.
As soon as five minutes was up, Tang Suoyan didn’t give him a minute more, kicking aside the clothes strewn across the ground and striding in.
When Tao Xiaodong, nape caught, had been thrust up against the wall, his chin had hit the wall.
Tang Suoyan caressed his chin.
“It’s turned red.
Does it hurt”
It hadn’t hurt when hit, but him gripping his chin like this did.
Tang Suoyan’s other hand went around his waist to surround the other man in his hold.
“I didn’t discuss it with you when I sent you back last time.
You were right to be mad.” Tao Xiaodong tried to move, but Tang Suoyan restricted his movements.
Tao Xiaodong’s chest heaved.
“You said that you had to listen to me and move at my command.” Tang Suoyan continued to hold his chin in a grip, thumb constantly rubbing the reddened spot.
“That’s how I am, I confess.”
Tang Suoyan murmured into his ear.
“I have a strong desire for control.
I’m used to everything that is mine being under my control—including you.”
Tang Suoyan’s scent enveloped him and the water kept pounding.
Tao Xiaodong shut his eyes, succumbing, his breathing rapidly quickening.
Tao Xiaodong could barely take in his words anymore.
He wasn’t used to being held like this, he hadn’t experienced anything like this before.
—but now, ** if he was going to move.
Tao Xiaodong hooked his right hand around Tang Suoyan’s waist, going “Yan ge.”
“Xiaodong is mad at me.” A husky tone had also entered Tang Suoyan’s voice.
It didn’t sound as steady as before, yet this conversely made it sound even more luscious.
“Don’t hold onto your anger.”
Tao Xiaodong shut his eyes.
His Adam’s apple bobbed.
Tang Suoyan bit the side of his neck, and Tao Xiaodong inclined his chin, exposing even more of the most vulnerable area of a male animal’s body.
His pulse, across thin vessels and skin, throbbed rhythmically on his neck.
Where Tang Suoyan bit, the impression diffused to his surrounding nerves, sensitive and hot.
“If anything bothers you again in the future, just as you had this time, tell me directly.” Tang Suoyan turned off the tap, and the sound of running water abruptly cut off.
“It isn’t that you don’t have the right to shoulder my burdens with me.
It’s that I’m unused to it, and I cannot bear to let you.”
“My last relationship didn’t end well.
In my opinion, it was because we rushed the start, so I had hoped to take it slowly this time…”
Tang Suoyan slowly wiped his hands on the hand towel.
Tao Xiaodong turned around, finally face-to-face with Tang Suoyan, then went “Yan ge” once more, voice hoarse with want.
“Today, Yan ge is going to brand a mark.” Tang Suoyan caressed the nape of his neck, then, with unyielding force, pinned Tao Xiaodong to the wall.
“Happy birthday, Xiaodong.”