[oneshot] speed dial # 1

Author's Note: Written for taobeis. I hope you enjoy it! :D

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Rating: PG 13
Summary: Zitao is in search for true love, but Jongin thinks he's barking at wrong trees and decides to take the matters into his own hands.

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Crisp white polo? Check. Fitted black jeans? Check. Shiny black leather shoes? Check.

Zitao stares at his image in the mirror and smirks. He has not put on his jacket yet, but he sure looks dashing already. There is no way Byun Baekhyun will not find him irresistible. From the tips of his fixed hair to the soles of his shoes, he is perfect. He got it all covered. Everything is all set for their 100-day anniversary.

“I can't believe that you're still going out with that dickhead,” Jongin says as he stands in Zitao's doorway with a complete look of exasperation and disbelief.

Rolling his eyes, Zitao patiently replies, “Baekhyun's not a dickhead.”

“Fine,” Jongin quips with a shrug, “he's just a gold digger who's been ripping you off for three months now.”

Zitao sighs. He does not want to have any argument with Jongin. Not right now. He is in a good mood and he wants to keep it that way. Besides, they had this discussion before. A lot of times already. Zitao has lost count. There is no point in convincing Jongin that Baekhyun is not the kind of person he thinks he is. Jongin just does not like Baekhyun. He never really likes all the guys Zitao went out with. Period. So, why bother?

“Look, remember the friend I told you about?” Jongin asks, suddenly cheerful, as he picks up Zitao's jacket from the bed and hands it to his friend to complete his ensemble, “He's the one who'll be good for you, I can really feel it.”

“You're just saying that because he's your friend,” Zitao tells him as he takes the jacket from Jongin.

“Hey, I have a lot of friends but I'm not trying to set all of them up with you,” Jongin points out, smirking, “just this one, trust me.”

“Thanks, Jongin, but I can't do that,” Zitao says with an apologetic smile, “dating a friend's friend is just complicated,” he explains, making Jongin confused, “if we didn't work out, it would be terrible and you'd be caught in the middle and...I wouldn't like that for you.”

Jongin smiles at Zitao. Yes, Zitao can be really thoughtful. He cares about his friends well-being that much. Way too much. Still, Jongin is not going to back out. He is a fighter! “Don't worry about me, Zitao,” he tells him, patting the taller man on both arms, “I can handle that, I've set up a lot of my friends with each other, besides, I'd rather be in that position than in this hellhole you put me into every time these bastards you go out with break up with you.”

Shaking his head, Zitao comments, “You're really a strange guy.”

“There's nothing strange in choosing the lesser evil, “Jongin tells him as he looks around and spots Zitao's cellphone, “tell you what, I'm going to give you him number!”

Before Zitao can protest, Jongin picks up Zitao's cellphon from the bed and unlocks it. Of course, Jongin knows his PIN code. “There!” he exclaims, excited, “You have his number now and...” he trails off as he calls the number, “he has your number too!”

Shocked, Zitao watches as Jongin drops the call immediately and presses more buttons that Zitao cannot figure out. Jongin just grins at him. “Call him, okay?” he says as he hands the cellphone back, ignoring the horrified expression on his friend's face, “Just thank me later.”

As Jongin leaves his room, all Zitao can do is stare down at the name 'Oh Sehun' at the top of the list recently dialed numbers.

--- --- ---

Jongin always says that Zitao chooses the wrong people to date. Believe it or not, there was a time when he believed Jongin. That the flaws in his relationships was the other people. Unfortunately, after several failed relationships – most of them could not even reach 100 days, Zitao started to believe that the flaw is him.

Zitao already finished a bottle of scotch in some bar he never really frequents. Still, he can still remember how Baekhyun rejected the expensive watch he bought for him for their 100-day anniversary and told him how sorry he was. Zitao could not believe what happened and asked why. Nervous, Baekhyun started twirling a ring – a genuine white gold ring – that was not on his right ring finger the last time they saw each other. Just like that, Zitao understood what was going and he let his pathetic self run the show.

“Hey!” Zitao calls for the bartender, who groaned in frustration at him, “Give me another one!”

Shaking his head, the bartender complies. While waiting, Zitao fishes out his cellphone from his pocket to call Jongin. His housemate may hate hearing about his sob stories but he will never ignore him. He is his best friend anyway. With a vision that is seeing double, Zitao hits the first speed dial and holds the cellphone prove by his ear.


“Jongin!” Zitao cheers, laughing, “Guess what! You were right!”

“I'm sorry? Who's this?”

“C'mon now! Don't be like this!” Zitao whines as he continues to cackle, “Listen to me first! You were right...” he adds, his laughter dying down, “he left me, Jongin...he left me...”

“Wait...did you say Jongin?”

“No! Of course, not you!” Zitao replies, chuckling weakly, “You'll never leave me...I know you won't...even if you always get these calls, you won't leave me...” he rambles as he starts to sniff, “I'm not making sense, am I?”

“...No. Wait...are you crying?”

“Baekhyun broke up with me, Jongin,” Zitao tells him, ignoring the question, “he said he met someone else and he has this really expensive white gold ring,” he continues, sobbing, “if I knew he wanted a ring..then I wouldn't have bought a watch...I'm so dumb! I should've known he wanted a ring...so stupid...”

No answer came from the other line.

“Are you still there, Jongin?” Zitao asks, rubbing his eyes.

“Should...gifts be that...specific?”

“Yes, idiot!” Zitao replies as he wipes his face and sniffs again, “If you don't give them what they exactly want...they leave you...” he explains, taking a deep breath and pinching the bridge of his nose, “you always have to give what they want...or you'll never be enough...it'll never be enough...he wanted a ring, I gave him a watch...he wanted a rich company executive and I'm still living off from my trust fund...”

“So, he got himself a dirty old man.”

Zitao hums, and says, “It was pathetic...I even told him that if he wants to, I'm going back to China and accept my dad's offer to work for our company...new generations of – what do you, Koreans, call it? Chaebols? Yeah, Baekhyun will definitely find that hotter...”

“He's shallow.”

“No, no, no!” Zitao argues as the bartender places a new bottle of scotch in front of him, “He's not shallow! He just...he knows what he wants...”

“And his wants are shallow, so that makes him shallow – money, status...they make people's world too small. It's pitiful.”

Zitao drinks his scotch in one go, and says, “Wow, Jongin! Since when did you get so deep? Are you drunk?”

Chuckles. Zitao cannot help but smile deliriously from the sound. “No, I'm not drunk. You're the one who's drunk.”

Twirling his empty glass, Zitao sighs. “Still not drunk,” he says as he pours some scotch to his glass, missing it and causing some of the alcohol to spill on the bar, “oh...crap...I missed...seems you're right...” he adds, chuckling, “this makes me more pathetic...I thought I'll forget how pathetic I am...but it just makes me more pathetic...”

“Begging some idiot to stay is pathetic. Drinking because you got your heart broken is not. It's normal. A lot of people do it.”

“It's also pathetic to run away from home...I could've owned a part of our company already...” Zitao says as he finally managed to pour scotch in his glass, “I could've kept Baekhyun...”

“Why didn't you stay at home?”

Zitao groans, and says, “C'mon, Jongin! I already told you about this the first time we met!”

“Humor me.” More chuckles come from the other line. The smile on Zitao's face widens.

“Because I want to learn on my own,” Zitao answers as he finishes his drink once again, “so, if you're not drunk...are you on drugs?”

“That's not pathetic. It's wise in my opinion and...maybe I'm on drugs. Only stoned people will take on this conversation.”

Zitao laughs. He is about to say something when the bartender steals his cellphone from him and tells the other person on the line that the bar is closing up and to pick his friend up. Zitao rolls his eyes as the bartender dictates the bar's address. It was the best post-break up conversation he ever had. Unfortunately, as he pours himself a new batch of scotch, he knows he will not remember any it once he wakes up tomorrow. He even passes out before his babysitter arrives in the bar to take him away.

--- --- ---

Saturdays mean sleeping until high noon. At least, that is how Zitao and Jongin define it. They are very strict about Saturday mornings. They will hurt anyone who violates it. Even each other. Apparently, Zitao will have to strangle Jongin this time. What is with the annoying KPOP song? Is that some girl group he is hearing? Jongin will surely die today.

“Turn that off or I swear, Kim Jongin, this will be your last day on Earth,” Zitao warns, eyes still closed. He can feel the start of his headache. This will be a very painful day. Fortunately, the music stops. “That's better,” Zitao mutters as he turns to his side and faces the wall and grabs a pillow too hug against his chest. His pillow smells different. Did Jongin have them washed early? The two of them usually change their bed sheets, blankets and pillowcases at the end of the month. If Zitao's correct, they still have another week to go. However, the pillow against his chest smells like fabric conditioner. A different fabric conditioner from the usual Zitao is used to.

“I'm pretty sure Jongin's still in dreamland.”

That is not Jongin's voice. Zitao's eyes shoot open. Definitely not. Jongin's voice is deeper than his own and bigger than the voice that he just heard. Oh dear God. Slowly, Zitao turns away from the wall and sees a man with pale complexion and jet black hair. No. Definitely not Jongin. That bastard just dyed his hair brown a week ago and his skin tone is not far from Zitao. Oh dear God.

“Good morning,” the man greets with a cheerful smile that almost made his eyes disappear.

“Who are you?” Zitao asks, sitting up and looking around. No. This is not the apartment he shares with Jongin. The paint on the walls is starting to peel and there are cobwebs at the corners of the ceiling. He and Jongin are spending so much money for cleaning, painting and maintaining. This is definitely not their place. “Where am I?” he asks, feeling his headache disappear. His head has gone numb from the events of this morning.

“Oh Sehun,” the man introduces himself as he sits on the sole swivel chair in the room, “and this is my apartment.”

Oh Sehun? Oh Sehun... Oh Sehun... Oh no, no, no. Zitao's eyes widen in realization. The number Jongin put on his cellphone the day before. Oh Sehun. Jongin's friend. Oh Sehun. The guy Jongin wants to set him up with. Oh Sehun. What in a world is going on? Taking a deep breath to keep himself from panicking, Zitao says, “I'm sorry I don't remember what happened last night...how...?”

Sehun laughs and Zitao is just stunned. What was wrong in this morning's situation again? What was he asking just now? Is the sun shining directly on this man or is he just glowing? Zitao has to remind himself to breathe.

“You called me,” Sehun tells him after he calmed down, “or the correct way to put it, you accidentally called me.”

Just like that, the panic comes rushing back. Accidentally? That cannot be. He always calls Jongin when he is drunk. He never accidentally called anyone. “Where's my phone?” he asks as he looks down at himself and sees that the clothes he is wearing are not his own, “Wait! Why am I –? Did I – Did we – Oh my God!”

“Relax, nothing happened,” Sehun assures him with more laughing as he turns his chair to his desk and picks up Zitao's phone, “I might've feel you up at the bar four your wallet because there's no way I can pay for your bill and I might've taken your clothes off so you can sleep properly,” he adds, giving the phone back to its owner, “aside from that, you slept by yourself on that awful bed.”

“Sorry,” Zitao mutters as he unlocks his cellphone, “you should've just thrown me on your couch.”

Sehun chuckles. Suddenly, Zitao sort of remembers that sound. “The couch's not really serving its purpose,” Sehun tells him, “it's really my bed.”

“Oh,” Zitao replies as he clicks on his first speed dial. The same KPOP song from the alarm awhile ago starts playing and Sehun looks over his shoulder.

“That asshole,” Zitao hisses under his breath, making Sehun chuckle again, “I'm going to kill him.”

“Looking at you, I think I can buy that,” Sehun says, amused, “by the way, it's not that I want to kick you out but...I have to go to work and eat breakfast of course...you can join me,” he offers as he gets up from his chair, “I'm going to whip something edible from my last night's leftovers.”

“No, you don't need to do that,” Zitao tells him as he gets up from the bed, “maybe...we can eat breakfast outside? My treat!”

Sehun narrows his eyes at him. “You're not asking me out, are you?” he asks, suspicious.

Zitao shakes his head hard and he can feel his headache coming back. “I'm just going to treat you to breakfast,” he emphasizes with a nervous smile, “you know, as a thank you for last night? The phone call and the crashing here?” he continues as he stands before Sehun, “Basically, just a thank you and an apology for the hassle you went through because of me.”

“Alright,” Sehun replies, clapping his hands and walking over to his closet to retrieve Zitao's clothes inside to give it back to the owner, “I just want to make sure.”

--- --- ---

Zitao opens Jongin's bedroom door with a bang. Literally. Jongin sits up instantly and clutches his chest. It was like cold water was poured on him. Zitao laughs. That went easier than he thought. Jongin stares at his friend in disbelief.

“Fuck you!” Jongin yells, his hand still on his chest. He gets up from his bed and marches towards Zitao. “Are you trying to kill me?” he hollers, fuming, “I could've died from heart attack, asshole!”

“Serves you right,” Zitao replies, smirking.

Aghast, Jongin can only watch Zitao turn his back on him to head back to their dining room. He follows him and he almost forgets how pissed and annoyed he is with all the food on the table. However, when he sees Zitao helping himself with his favorite pastry, all the annoyance comes back to him.

“You know, if Baekhyun broke up with you, you should take out your anger out at him,” Jongin tells him as he steals the pastry from Zitao's hand and takes a huge bite, “wait...you don't look like you got dumped,” he comments as he narrows his eyes at Zitao and notices his well-rested face despite some signs of lack of sleep, “did you sleep with that, dick?”

Zitao glares and throws a bun at him. “He broke up with me,” he tells him and Jongin frowns, “oh, now, you feel sorry for me.”

Jongin sighs and scratches the back of his head. As much as he hates his friend's exes (even the ones he never met like Wu Yifan, who happens to be Zitao's first boyfriend back in China when he was still in high school, and Lu Han, who was the reason why Zitao ventured to South Korea), he still hates seeing Zitao so heartbroken more. The guy is the sweetest person he ever met. Anyone will be lucky to have him. Heck, if he had not met Kyungsoo at all, he would have taken a shot and asked Zitao out! Zitao will do anything to make the person he likes happy no matter what it takes. It is a shame that the people he chooses take him for granted. If it were up to Jongin, he would go after those people and punch the hell out of them.

“I called Sehun,” Zitao says as he takes a sip of his coffee.

“Really?” Jongin squeaks , excited. His eyes go wide as if he was not interrupted in his sleep.

Zitao nods, and answers, “It's definitely the best post-break up conversation I ever had. Sadly, I can't remember what we talked about because I was too drunk.”

Jongin stares at his friend in disbelief. “You drunk dialed Sehun?” he asks.

“If you didn't mess up my cellphone, I would've talked to you instead, which what should've really happened,” Zitao says.

“Oh...” Jongin trails off in realization. Leaning back on his seat, he notices again that Zitao is still wearing the clothes he put on yesterday. He smirks. This is not how he played in his head but he cannot deny that this is more interesting. “You didn't sleep here,” he points out, smugly.

Rolling his eyes, Zitao says, “Well, apparently, Sehun was kind enough to pick me up from the bar and let me stay at his place even if he didn't know me at all. Again, it's unfortunate that I don't have any recollection of those events because I passed out even before he showed up in the bar.”

“That's too bad,” Jongin quips, grinning.

“I slept on his bed,” Zitao tells him and watches as Jongin raises an eyebrow, “the bed that he doesn't use because, apparently, he sleeps on the couch.”

“If you say so,” Jongin sing-songs as Zitao shakes his head, “but, wait a minute, if you can't remember what you talked about, how can you say that it was the best fast break up conversation you ever had?”

“I just feel that it was,” Zitao answers with a shrug.

“Why didn't you ask him what you rambled about?” Jongin asks, intrigued.

“The whole thing was humiliating enough already!” Zitao exclaims in exasperation, “Thanks to you, asshole.”

“The pleasure's all mine, my dear friend,” Jongin teases as he pinches Zitao's cheeks.

“Fuck off,” Zitao snaps, swatting Jongin hand away. He knows that Jongin hears the absence of the bite in his retort. He cannot stay pissed at his friend for more than an hour. He loves the guy despite how annoying he can be anyway. Besides, despite the embarrassment of it all, there is a part of Zitao that feels good that everything happened.

--- --- ---

Zitao is in the middle of buttoning his polo shirt in front of mirror when Jongin violently kicks his bedroom door open, halting Zitao in his actions. He turns to Jongin and sees his friend's serious face, looking directly at him with eyes shooting daggers at him.

“What's wrong?” Zitao asks. There are only few instances when Jongin gets this pissed off at him. He cannot even remember when the last time was. However, since those instances were few, it is easy to remember the reasons. Unfortunately, this time, he has no idea why.

“You said you're going out on a date,” Jongin states, gritting his teeth.

“Yes,” Zitao confirms, confused.

“I called Sehun,” Jongin tells him, crossing his arms in front of his chest, “he said that you haven't talked again after what happened a week ago.”

Rolling his eyes, Zitao turns back to his mirror and resumes in buttoning his shirt. Of course, that is Jongin's problem. “I did tell you that I'm going out on a date,” he says, calm, “I didn't say I'm going out with Sehun.”

“Well, I'm sorry if I though that you finally came to your senses!” Jongin yells out of the blue, surprising Zitao. Jongin never really shouts angrily at him. Zitao wants to tell him that he should just drop the subject. However, Jongin is not going back down. He will fight and push this matter until the end.

“Sehun doesn't seem interested,” Zitao tells him, hoping Jongin will just let it go already, “he appeared to be relieved when I told him I wasn't going to ask him out.”

Jongin groans and settles on Zitao's bed, burying his face in his palms. He has two stubborn friends. Why does he have a knack with stubborn people? What a luck. “But I'm telling you, Zitao,” he says, frustrated, “he's perfect for you.”

Zitao does not say anything. They will just end up getting frustrated at each other. Zitao chooses to keep quiet instead. His social life is not worth it to fight about.

Sighing, Jongin asks, “Who's this guy now?”

“Zhang Yixing,” Zitao answers, brightening up, “I met him the other day. He's a new crew at the Chinese restaurant at the ground floor of our building.”

“Don't call me if this doesn't work out,” Jongin says as he stands up from his bed to walk out of the room, leaving Zitao with a frown.

--- --- ---

Yixing is not bad. Zitao even finds him eccentric and profound. It makes Yixing more mysterious and interesting. Zitao thought he finally got it right. Yixing responded well to everything he said and did. They connected well. Yixing seemed to be very well-versed with all his interests. Most of all, he did not cower when Zitao held his hand or put an arm on his shoulder. Zitao can remember how Baekhyun squirmed when he touched him. Yixing was comfortable with him and Zitao felt really happy. However, at the end, he got it all wrong once again.

Apparently, Yixing is a part-time songwriter and composer. Currently, he is suffering from a writer's block. Upon hearing it, Zitao quickly put everything together and realized why Yixing went out with him. He could not hide his dismay and Yixing apologized repeatedly for being so cruel. Even if Yixing confessed that he originally planned to date him for awhile but could not bring himself to do it anymore because of Zitao's genuine personality, Zitao could not still help but feel crushed.

Completely lost and broken, Zitao wanders around after leaving the restaurant where Yixing left him. After some time, he finds himself in a park and sits on a bench. Emotionally exhausted and drained. Lonely, he takes out his phone and searches for Jongin's number. However, he remembers what Jongin told him that afternoon. No calling. Still, he wonders if he should give it a try. Jongin may not be serious.

Zitao shakes his head. He is not even convincing himself. If Jongin was serious and he called him, he would be just subjecting himself to another rejection and, if it came from Jongin, it would be something he might not be able to handle well.

Scrolling his contact list and skipping Jongin's name, Zitao pauses on Sehun's. He has not contacted the other for a week. Why should he? There was not need to do so. Will Sehun find it irritating if he calls him again? Zitao still has not remembered what they talked about and he still finds that humiliating. However, he can recall how good he felt that Saturday morning. He needs that right now. Thus, swallowing his remaining pride, he calls Sehun.

“Please, don't tell me you're drunk again,” Sehun says as his greeting.

Zitao chuckles. Just like that, he is smiling again. “I'm not,” he answers.

“Oh, then, you do know that this isn't Jongin's number,” Sehun points out, amused.

“I know,” Zitao replies, smile widening.

“Okay, now, you got me,” Sehun says and Zitao hears some rustles of paper, “what's up?”

Zitao looks around him. It is dark and only the lamp posts, car headlights and taillights, lights from nearby establishments are brightening the surroundings. He looks up at the night sky and shakes his head. “Nothing,” he answers. Even the moon and stars are not up anywhere.

“Everything okay?” Sehun asks, curious. Zitao is sure Sehun can hear it from his voice. Jongin always says that people just have too listen to his voice and they can already sense something is wrong with him.

“I went out with this guy,” Zitao starts and he can feel the sting of being rejected again, “but...”

“It didn't work out,” Sehun supplies, sighing, “what's wrong with this one?”

Zitao sighs and chuckles again. “Funny how you just instantly assumed that the wrong was on his side and not mine,” he says.

Sehun laughs and the sting Zitao is feeling gradually lessens. “Just to remind you, I met you when you were dead drunk,” he says and Zitao shakes his head with an embarrassed smile, “we met each other when you woke up in the morning with a hangover,” he adds, snickering, “both considered the worst moments to meet a person and, yet, you still managed to be really cool, so...I can just imagine how awesome you are if you're in your element.”

Zitao is speechless. He wonders if Sehun told him things like those during their first conversation. If he did, no wonder Zitao felt really amazing.

“Then, there's also the Jongin factor,” Sehun continues with another batch of laughter, “the guy's terrible at times but it can't be denied that he has great friends.”

“And...you're one of those friends,” Zitao says with his own laughter. Hard laughter. His stomach almost ached.

“You're one of those friends too,” Sehun replies.

Clearing his throat, Zitao says, “He hates me right now. He told me not to call him if the date wouldn't work out.”

“Ahhh...now, I get it,” Sehun teases, making Zitao feel guilty in a way, “I actually think this is better though, I thought he outright forced you to call me,” he continues, clicking his tongue, “so, answer my question, what's wrong with your last date?”

Taking a deep breath, Zitao tells him what happened. Somehow, it does not feel as painful, humiliating and pathetic anymore. It is like Sehun's words had done something to numb him from those feelings.

“The last one used you for your money, this one used you for experience,” Sehun states, making Zitao cringe. Sehun has a way with words. They can be like a warm, smooth breeze or a sharp, cold sword.

“I have an awful luck,” Zitao tells him.

“No, you don't,” Sehun replies, making Zitao confused, “you're just searching, people who search don't find what they're looking for right away.”

--- --- ---

The weekend has come and gone. Still, Zitao and Jongin have not made up. Jongin stayed out of their apartment the whole Saturday and locked himself up in his bedroom the whole Sunday. Zitao only saw him when he went out to go to the bathroom. He thought Jongin would be fine after a couple of days just like with their past disagreements. Obviously, this is not like those times.

Zitao planned to talk to him on Monday morning. Unfortunately, Jongin left way too early and that irritated Zitao in a way he could not explain. Thus, he took a shower and left for work. He still has important reports to sort out. Jongin can wait. Yes, Jongin will be the one who will wait this time. Zitao had enough. However, being angry at Jongin for a long time is not something he can do. So, at lunch break, he decides to ask for help.

“Hello, Zitao,” Sehun greets and Zitao immediately feels calm, “I don't suppose you got yourself dumped after two days and...twelve hours?”

“No,” Zitao answers, chuckling, “I'm calling about Jongin.”

“Is he still not talking to you?” Sehun asks with a sigh.

“Yes,” Zitao replies as he sits on a bench outside their building, “I don't know what to do because he has never been this pissed at me. I hate it.”

Sehun chuckles, and says, “Just leave him alone. He'll come around. He's just being a baby – throwing tantrums and stuff.”

“You sure?” Zitao asks, uncertain.

“Yeah,” Sehun answers, confident, “I spent my whole childhood with that guy, he does that from time to time.”

“Oh, I see...” Zitao replies, leaning back on the bench, “I'm sorry for...calling you over something silly...you must be at work right now.”

“No worries, it's my day-off,” Sehun informs him.

“Day-off on Mondays,” Zitao says, curious, “what job has that?”

Sehun scoffs, and answers, “Jobs that are open for seven days a week like a bookstore.”

Zitao nods in understanding. “Sounds interesting,” he comments, holding the phone tightly into his ear and not wanting to end the call yet.

Scoffing, Sehun says, “No, not for you, you won't find anyone you can take out on a date here.”

“Hey!” Zitao exclaims, eyes wide, “I don't find my date at my work, alright?” he adds, laughing, “Well, maybe they work at the same building or area but still!”

Snorting, Sehun says, “Whatever you say, Huang Zitao.”

--- --- ---

Baekhyun was one of the event organizers on the last Financial Year End party at their company. Yixing is a crew at the Chinese restaurant at the ground floor of their building. So, maybe, Sehun was right that Zitao meets most of his dates through his work. Just like his new date this Friday – Kim Minseok. He is a nurse at the clinic in their building who he met the other day when one of his collegues, Jongdae, had a stomachache.

Since Jongin is still not talking to him, Sehun is the person Zitao has been talking to about Minseok and, basically, about everything. Of course, Sehun laughed when Zitao told him how he met Minseok. Still, he was supportive, making Zitao feels that even if this date does not work, it will still be okay. He needed that. So bad.

Zitao just steps out of his apartment building when Minseok texts him a message that he will not be able to make it to their date as he has to cover for someone else's shift. Leaning against his car, Zitao sighs and thinks that maybe it is for the better. As if it is already a part of his system since forever, Zitao calls Sehun.

“You just called me awhile ago that you're on your way to your date,” Sehun tells him as a greeting, “don't tell me it's already over.”

“You can say that,” Zitao tells him with a weak chuckle.

“What happened this time?” Sehun asks, pitiful.

“Work,” Zitao answers, shaking his head, “he has to cover for someone else.”

Sehun hums, and says, “Well, workaholics are better than gold diggers and users.”

Zitao laughs and plays with his keys. He is thinking of going back up to his apartment, but that means dealing with Jongin and he is not in the mood for that.

Fortunately, Sehun asks, “Say, Zitao, do you still remember how to get to my apartment?”

Smirking, Zitao answers, “I don't remember how to get there but I remember how I got out of there.”

“Smart ass,” Sehun retorts, laughing, “just put your brain on rewind and get your butt over here then, I'm having a movie marathon and you sound like a loser who needs to join me.”

Zitao smiles widely. Of course, he will not turn that down. “I'll be there,” he says.

“Bring food,” Sehun adds before ending the call and Zitao shakes his head.

--- --- ---

Sehun is a writer. Zitao did not ask. He just made a conclusion when he saw the laptop, papers, pens, creative writing books and novels scattered in his living room. Stuff he did not see the first time he was there. He must really have an awful case of hangover that blessed Saturday morning. Sehun confirms his hunch when he apologized for the mess. He told him that the living room is his writing haven.

Apparently, Sehun is having a writer's block and the movies they are going to watch are supposed to cure it. Zitao just wonders how the Lord of the Rings trilogy can do that. He doubts its efficiency, especially when he feels Sehun's head falling on his shoulder when they have not even reached the half mark of The Two Towers.

Without checking the clock, Zitao knows that it is already past midnight. They started the marathon at around 8PM. The math is easy with three-hour long movies. Zitao wonders if he should head home. Sehun did not mention about him staying for the night. Zitao will hate to impose. However, he does not want to wake Sehun up or just disappear without telling Sehun goodbye. Perhaps, leaving a note is the way to go.

Carefully, Zitao removes himself from Sehun and gently lays him on the couch. He looks around for pillows and blankets. When he does not find any, he heads to the bedroom. Upon switching on the lights, he finds folded clothes on the bed and a piece of paper on top of them.

“If I fell asleep in the middle of the movie, help yourself and just sleep on this useless bed.
See you in the morning.
P.S. I changed my alarm.”

Zitao smiles. He has the permission to stay for the night after all. Folding the paper neatly and slipping it inside his back pocket, Zitao reminds himself of his original intention. Get Sehun a pillow and blanket. He gathers what he needs and goes back to the living room. Sehun seems to have not noticed his absence. Gently, he places the pillow under Sehun's head and covers him with blanket.

Afterwards, Zitao decides to clean up their mess – empty wrappers of junk foods and cans of sodas. He is in the middle of it when Sehun suddenly speaks up. “Why do you need to have someone so bad?” he asks, pulling the blanket closer to him.

The question catches Zitao off guard. For a moment, he wonders if he heard Sehun right. He never really thought about it. It is not a flaw or else Jongin brought it up already. It is not because he is lonely. He is perfectly happy about his life as of the moment. He has everything he needs and wants except a special someone.

“You're not looking for someone to make you happy, I'm sure,” Sehun states, his eyes still closed, “you seem to be fine where and what you are...”

Leaning against the couch, Zitao says, “You're right. I'm happy but I don't really have someone to share it with...I mean, yes, I have my family and friends, a perfect job and...a deep bank account...”

Sehun chuckles.

“I think I just really need someone else...” Zitao continues with a silly smile, “another person who'll bother for me, who I can be there for too...it just feels right to have someone like that now when I got everything in my life in place.”

“That's nice,” Sehun comments, opening an eyes, “go to sleep, Zitao...I'll take care of the mess later...”

Reluctant, Zitao nods and drops the stuff he is holding. He is about to get up from the floor when a question enters his mind. Leaning closer, Zitao whispers, “How did you know I'll go to your room?” The question is silly. However, there is a sudden itch to know Sehun's answer. Hopefully, Sehun will provide it.

Sehun smiles, making Zitao do the same thing. There is a warm feeling wrapping his chest.

“Because you're sweet like that?” Sehun offers with a smirk, closing his eyes, “Because that's just how you are.”

Zitao nods in understanding. He wishes he can say something to that.

“I hope you find the right person soon,” Sehun adds.

Biting his lip to stop himself from saying something he will regret, Zitao just gives another nod. He stands up and makes his way back to Sehun's bedroom. He lies on the bed and stares at the ceiling.

The right person.

The perfect person.

Oh Sehun.

Zitao groans. Without anything happening yet, Zitao can already feel that the person he needs and wants is just outside the room he is in. How come Jongin managed to be right again this time? It is not fair. Just like how it is unfair that he has found the right and perfect person for him finally. Sadly, just like the wrong ones, it seems that he cannot have him too.

--- --- ---

Zitao kicks his shoes off his feet and trudges inside their apartment. He forgot that Sehun had to get up really morning on Saturdays. Fortunately, this time, his sleep was not disrupted by some hideous girl group K-POP song. In fact, he was woken up Sehun himself. It was actually a pleasant morning, topped with breakfast prepared by Sehun and Zitao driving him to work. It was almost perfect.

Sighing, Zitao slumps on the living room couch and stares at the ceiling. A lot of what ifs are running in his head. The one at the top is what if he did not push the idea of going out with Sehun to the very back of his head, would he go out with him? However, there are many reasons why Sehun will not go out with him – the number one reason will be that he accidentally called him when he was drunk and he had no choice but to pick him up in the bar when they had not met yet. That is already a good reason why Sehun should not give him a chance. Maybe he told him a lot of good things, but being friendly and nice is different from liking him.

“How's the movie marathon?” Jongin asks, making Zitao sit up in shock.

With a small smile, Jongin sighs and joins Zitao in the couch. It looks like the two of them can still make use of three more hours of sleep. “Sehun's been telling me what's been going on with you,” Jongin explains as Zitao raises a brow in question, “this week when I have been ignoring you, he's the one updating me about you – he told me about songwriter and the nurse,” he explains and Zitao nods in understanding, “he informed me that you'd be at his place and lectured me, you know, for being a horrible friend.”

“That's not true,” Zitao tells him with a small smile, “he may know the two of us but he doesn't know how we are together.”

Jongin turns him with a pout. “I'm sorry for the silent treatment,” he says and Zitao's eyes soften at him, “you didn't deserve that.”

“Apology accepted,” Zitao replies, offering his hand that Jongin accepts, “it's awful though, you know, not talking to you.”

“Same here,” Jongin tells him, examining Zitao's face, “what's wrong though?”

Zitao narrows his eyes at him, and says, “What?”

“Come on now,” Jongin says, rolling his eyes, “even Sehun can read you easily.”

Panic immediately comes crushing down on Zitao. Was that possible? Can Sehun read him that much? Does he already have an inkling about Zitao's feelings? Feelings that he just realized the night before? If that would be the case, he should not keep in touch with the man anymore. Things will just become complicated and Zitao does not like that.

“Talk to me, Zitao,” Jongin says, shifting his position on the couch, “your emotions may be written all over your face but there's no way we can read your thoughts.”

Defeated, Zitao groans. Jongin is right. He needs to talk about this with someone. The perfect someone is no other else but Jongin. “I...don't know how to say it,” Zitao replies as he tries to pull his hair off his scalp in frustration.

“Will speaking Chinese make it easier?” Jongin jokes, making Zitao groan in frustration, “Should I wake Lu Han up so that he can translate for me? It's just 10AM now, I'm sure he's still asleep and waking him up this early in a Saturday morning will be the perfect way to torture him.”

Zitao laughs despite the stress of it all. Jongin and Lu Han may have become friends. Still, Jongin finds a way to get back at Lu Han for what he did to Zitao.

“Just say it, Zitao,” Jongin tells him, waiting patiently.

Giving in, Zitao takes a deep breath and decides to just blurt out whatever it is that is at the forefront of his mind. “Why did you think that me and Sehun are a good idea?” he asks and Jongin smiles widely at him. Just like that, Jongin figured everything out.

“Well, you're the friend that's always out there,” Jongin answers, making Zitao confused, “while Sehun's the friend that won't go out,” he continues, finding Zitao's dumbfounded expression amusing, “Sehun's an aspiring writer and he's obsessed with the world inside his head, I figured that he needs someone like you who can bring him out to reality from time to time.”

“How about me?” Zitao asks, curious, “What's in for me?”

Jongin shakes his head in disbelief and smiles his most caring smile that he only reserves for his friends at moments like this. “Isn't it obvious? You need someone who'll treat you right,” he answers, simply, “look, Sehun's writing annoys me at times but I have to admit that it makes him a great person,” he adds, chuckling, “he's sensitive, down-to-earth, realistic, cool...he'll never do the things those guys did to you, he won't have a heart to do so...hell, he picked you up when you were dead drunk in some high class bar he has never been to and brought you to him apartment!”

Zitao falls quiet. Still unsure. Though what Jongin told him was great, the real problem lies on whether he should do anything with what he feels or not. Sehun's feelings – or lack thereof – is very clear and a huge factor. “It must suck that your matchmaking didn't work,” he mutters, frowning at Jongin, “I...I like him...but he doesn't seem to be interested in me...”

“I don't know about that,” Jongin replies as he gets up from the couch, “what I can tell you though is that, aside from the fact that he talks about you a lot, he has all these transcripts that contain all your conversations,” he continues with a wink, “if that doesn't scream like 'interested,' then maybe he's just really a creep.”

“Really?” Zitao asks, smiling slowly.

“He likes you, Zitao,” Jongin tells him, serious, “he just thinks that no one will be able to ride his...way of thinking,” he explains with a sigh, shaking his head, “but he thinks that you're a great person to talk to...you don't judge him and you think that he's also great.”

With sudden confidence, Zitao gets up from the couch and stands before Jongin. It actually makes him believe that everything may work out. However, Zitao remembers one more thing. “What do I do?” he asks, clueless.

Jongin scoffs, and says, “You asked a lot of people out, Zitao, you know what to do. You don't have to do anything special anyway. It's just him and he likes you like this.”

Despite what Jongin said, Zitao still wants to do something special. Sehun is not like the other people he asked out in the past. Even though he does know much about him, Zitao believes that Sehun deserves something different. Sehun is not just someone he bumped into in a company even or a restaurant at the ground floor of his building or a clinic. He is someone who became a friend. His confidant. That alone makes Zitao think that he has to do this in a special way.

--- --- ---

The bookstore where Sehun works at closes at 9PM on Saturdays. Sehun told him that he stays that late during Saturdays because more interesting things happen in bookstores during Saturday night. More people. More different people. More various stories. Zitao decides that maybe it is about time to have those interesting things happen to Sehun. To have one of those stories be about Sehun.

Zitao enters the bookstore without Sehun knowing. He is too busy in the cash register, punching in items for the customers in line. There is around fifteen minutes before the bookstore closes. Sehun is in a hurry and so are the customers. Hiding from Sehun, Zitao walks towards the farthest shelf. Somewhere hidden. Somewhere he can still have a clear view of the clerk he is after. While waiting, Zitao looks around and lets his attention be grabbed by the books around him.

When the last customer leaves the bookstore, Zitao quickly heads to the register while Sehun has his back turned to him. “I hope you can still punch these for me,” Zitao says, placing the books on the counter. His confident and determined voice masking the nervous heartbeats in his chest.

Surprised, Sehun turns to around with his eyes wide. “What are you doing here?” he asks, laughing.

“Buying books,” Zitao answers with a smirk as he points out the books he brought from the shelves.

“The Hobbit, huh?” Sehun reads the title of the book on top of the small pile with a raised eyebrow.

“A good friend told me you like this kind of stuff,” Zitao replies, looking directly at Sehun.

“Does this good friend live with you?” Sehun asks and Zitao answers with a nod, “Oh, so that dickhead is finally talking to you. Glad to know.”

“Yes, thanks to you,” Zitao says, grateful.

“You could've just called me,” Sehun tells him as he drags the books towards him, shaking his head, “is this all, sir?”

Zitao chuckles while Sehun grins. “Actually, no,” Zitao answers, making Sehun curious. Slowly, Zitao moves hand to his back and pulls out something he has tucked in the waistband of his pants when he entered the bookstore.

Sehun's curiosity turns to confusion when he sees Zitao placing a long-stemmed rose on top of the books. Nervous, he clears his throat, and says, “I-I don't think we sell...r-roses here.”

“Thank God,” Zitao replies in amusement, “it would've been really awkward if I gave the person I like something that could be bought in his workplace, right?”

“The person you...like?” Sehun repeats, looking down to hide the blush forming in his face.

“You're such a liar, Sehun,” Zitao says,, grinning, “you said I won't find anyone I can take out on a date in a bookstore.”

“Date?” Sehun asks, shocked.

Zitao nods and suddenly takes one of Sehun's hands in his. He has to tell Sehun everything. Now. “I don't know what you think of me at all, I mean Jongin did tell me some stuff but...you know...” he starts, nervousness and fear suddenly swirling inside his chest as if they are a huge typhoon, “I didn't get any signs of you being interested in me...the things you told me just gave me a feeling that you just want us to be friends, so maybe Jongin's wrong but...I don't care...well, just a bit scared...but I...I like you...and I want you to know that...I think you're the person I've been searching for...”

Staring at the their hands, Sehun tightens his hold on Zitao's. “I'm not...I'm not pushing you away or anything...I'm sorry if I made you feel that way...it's just...I'm scared too...” he explains, biting his lower lip, “I'm too open-minded for my own good, I argue with people a lot, I can be really exhausting and annoying to deal with...I don't think anyone will be up for that...that's what I've been told a lot back in the past and I...I like you too and I don't want to hear them from you because it hurts a lot...and if someone like you told me those words, it would hurt a lot more...”

Shaking his head, Zitao pulls his hand free and walks around the counter to stand before Sehun. “I may tell you those things in the future for the sake of being honest but I don't think I can ever leave you for it,” he says, reaching out to caress Sehun's cheek, “I'm confident that...I'm the right person for you, Sehun...I want to believe Jongin just this once...let's believe him, what do you say?”

“I want to believe him just this once too,” Sehun replies with a smile.

“So, are you free tonight?” Zitao asks, hopeful, “Would you like to join me for a very late dinner?”

Sehun nods. Too excited for his own good. “I'd love to,” he says, grinning, “especially, if breakfast would follow.”

“Absolutely,” Zitao promises with a wide smile, “now, punch in the books and lock up, let's get out of here as soon as possible.”

“One more thing,” Sehun says as he steps forward.

Zitao watches Sehun in confusion as he erases the short distance between them. They stare at each other for a moment in silence. Zitao can already imagine Sehun forming sentences in his head, describing how he looks like this moment and how he is looking at Sehun. He is about to ask what those sentences are when Sehun takes another step and reaches out to the sides of his face, making Zitao place his hands automatically on Sehun's waist. Sehun is probably adding more details in his sentences. Like how Zitao feels under against his palm. Whether he feels hot or cold, smooth or rough. Satisfied, Sehun slides his hands down to Zitao's shoulders and smiles.

Gently, Zitao pulls Sehun closer. Their bodies against each other. Sehun is looking up at him, anticipating. He is waiting. Slowly, Zitao leans down and places a kiss on Sehun's lips. Sehun kisses him back – softly at first, eager the next. It is like feeling all the words that are running inside Sehun's head. He is certain that they are the same words popping inside his own brain too. He wants more of these words, these feelings, these moments. For the rest of his life if possible. As Sehun wraps his arms around his neck, Zitao knows that Sehun wishes for the same things too.

--- --- ---


--- --- ---

Thank you!