Jiang Yang is pretty sure he's seen the kid before, it might have been the last time he was here. Sometimes the visits blur together a bit. He's been here a lot while they keep doing tests, trying to find out if his lungs will keep getting worse or not. The medication has helped, even if it does make him a bit jittery. He's not exactly been sleeping well either.
But he's almost sure he's seen the kid inside the hospital at some point. Had he looked that forlorn last time Jiang Yang saw him? He probably hadn't been paying enough attention to tell, why would he look at a stranger that closely? This time he's sitting here outside though. For some reason that's enough to draw Jiang Yang's attention.
He hesitates for a moment. It's really none of his business, but something about the young man makes his heart go out to him. People shouldn't be left alone in places like this, to worry on their own.
Slowly, he walks over and sits down on the bench next to the kid. It feels like Jiang Yang is doing everything slowly these days, worried that if he does anything too strenuous it'll send him into yet another bout of useless coughing. There's a faint tickle in his lungs even now, and his breath feels a bit short, which is just about normal really.
The kid doesn't even look at him as he sits down.
"Don't you have anyone to come with you?" Jiang Yang asks, because that's what he'd been thinking. It's not exactly the most polite way of starting a conversation.
Maybe he shouldn't be assuming that it's the kid who's sick either. He might be sitting here waiting for someone. But it's just something about the way he sits here all alone, looking pale and so tired, that makes Jiang Yang think he's here on his own.
Just like Jiang Yang.
The kid startles at the sound of his voice and then turns to glare at him. He looks Jiang Yang up and down. "Don't you?" he asks, half-defensive and all angry.
It definitely hadn't been the best way to start a conversation, Jiang Yang thinks.
He takes a breath and then another. He doesn't cough. "Yes, I just haven't told them yet," he admits quietly. Maybe he's just trying to reach out to the kid, but he's never put that into words before and the admission suddenly makes him feel guilty, like he should have told his friends, his family.
What if what he has turns out to be—something serious and he hasn't told them? Don't they deserve to know?
He'll tell them once he knows for sure, Jiang Yang tells himself. The same thing he's told himself before. There's nothing to tell them yet. No need to make anyone worried, when he doesn't even know what's wrong.
The answer makes the anger drain out of the kid's face, leaving him even paler somehow. He swallows and looks away from Jiang Yang. "Yeah," he agrees a bit hoarsely.
Jiang Yang wonders where to go from here. What's he supposed to say?
"I'm Jiang Yang," he introduces himself at last, once the silence has grown uncomfortable. He sticks out his hand in the kid's direction, feeling just a bit weird about it.
The kid turns his head back, blinking at Jiang Yang. Looking a bit bewildered, he grasps Jiang Yang's hand loosely. "Lin Feng," he answers, his fingers curling slightly around Jiang Yang's palm.
"Are you still going inside?" Jiang Yang asks.
Lin Feng rubs his hands together and then looks towards the entrance. Then, to Jiang Yang's surprise, he shakes his head.
"I'm all done for today," he says. He looks over at Jiang Yang and then looks away again, a bit awkwardly. "Just… waiting for a bit before I get going," he adds, like Jiang Yang needs more of an explanation.
Jiang Yang nods a bit. He can appreciate the need to take a moment. He needs a lot of moments to just… catch his breath these days.
Jiang Yang hesitates for a moment, he's not entirely sure why he feels for Lin Feng in particular. There are more than enough people going in and out of a hospital, without Jiang Yang feeling compelled to pay too much attention to them. But Lin Feng just looks like he might need someone, and Jiang Yang is already here.
Finally, he asks, "Would you let me take you out to eat?"
Lin Feng gives him a surprised look, and Jiang Yang doesn't blame him for that. He smiles wanly and glances at the hospital entrance.
"I could do with some company right now," he says. He figures it will be easier for Lin Feng to agree if he doesn't say that Lin Feng looks like he could do with some company.
Lin Feng hesitates for a bit. He's almost sure that Lin Feng will politely turn down the offer. Jiang Yang can't say that he'd blame him, why would he want to sit around with some stranger easily a decade older than him. He's almost about to tell him that it's alright, Jiang Yang entirely understands that he has other things to do, just to save Lin Feng the effort of thinking of a polite way to say no.
But then suddenly, Lin Feng nods slightly and looks straight at Jiang Yang. "I'd be honoured to accept," he says politely, and rather seriously. Jiang Yang finds himself wishing that he could see Lin Feng smile properly. He looks like he should be smiling.
Unsurprisingly, the conversation while they eat centres mostly on their mutual hospital experiences. So far, neither of them has offered any details about what brings them there and Jiang Yang finds himself far more curious about it than seems quite appropriate. And about the reason why Lin Feng visits the hospital alone.
He looks at Lin Feng for a moment, thinking about his reaction when he'd asked the first time about having someone to go with him. Jiang Yang tilts his head down a bit, hiding a small grimace. No, he wouldn't want some stranger asking him about that either.
He takes a moment to lift some food into his mouth, chewing and swallowing thoughtfully before he finally opens his mouth to speak.
"I haven't told anyone about my… illness," he says quietly. He thinks about how worried his friends are about him, how much of a burden he already is. The smile he gives Lin Feng feels pained. "I don't want them to worry about me. They're already doing more for me than they should and…" He swallows painfully, words failing him suddenly. He takes a shuddering breath. He hadn't quite expected to be so affected by his own words.
Lin Feng looks at him and then quickly averts his eyes. Maybe he's just feeling awkward about the sudden personal information. There's silence for a while, both of them returning to the food, just to avoid needing to say anything for a moment.
"Don't you think they… deserve to know?" Lin Feng asks quietly, his words so soft that Jiang Yang actually has to strain to hear them.
He has to take a small moment, just take a breath and remind himself that he's the one who started this conversation. Besides, he really doubts that Lin Feng is really talking about Jiang Yang. That was the point, wasn't it? That's why he said those things, hoping to get Lin Feng talking.
"Maybe. I don't really know. I just don't want to be a burden to anyone," Jiang Yang forces himself to say. It feels like he's flaying himself open.
Why is this random kid worth it?
"Yeah," Lin Feng says. There's a moment of silence and then Lin Feng looks up at him again, his expression set and almost… angry? "But it can go really wrong. Keeping secrets like that," he says, his jaw set stubbornly, almost like he's prepared for some kind of argument.
Jiang Yang inclines his head slightly. "You sound like you're talking from experience," he says softly.
Lin Feng abruptly looks away. "I suppose so," he admits. He makes a small huff before saying, "And I still haven't told them that I've been… feeling worse. I don't want to talk to them about it."
Jiang Yang isn't entirely sure who 'they' are, but if he had to guess he'd assume Lin Feng is talking about his family.
"I promised to take care of myself and—" His words are cut off as he jabs his chopsticks angrily towards the food before catching a piece of broccoli and sticking it into his mouth. "I should eat healthier," he mutters a moment later, seemingly to himself.
Jiang Yang blinks, and then can't quite help but raise an eyebrow at Lin Feng. Lin Feng looks up at him for a moment, before quickly averting his eyes, a slightly embarrassed look coming over his features.
"My stepmom keeps insisting I eat healthily. It should help with my…" he says, mumbling slightly with embarrassment. He doesn't quite finish the sentence, just waves one hand vaguely at himself.
Jiang Yang makes a small noise of agreement. "Eating right helps with a lot of things," he agrees placidly. "And you aren't?" He adds, letting only the smallest hint of curiosity into his voice, ignoring the small voice inside him suddenly insisting that he should tell Lin Feng that he needs to take better care of himself.
It's not Jiang Yang's place. He's still not quite sure why he even cares quite so much.
"I forget," Lin Feng mutters somewhat sullenly and then lifts his eyes enough to give Jiang Yang a challenging look from beneath his long lashes.
Jiang Yang can't help but find it somewhat cute. "Ah," he says, muffling a small laugh. "Maybe I can take you out to eat more often," he finds himself suggesting before he's quite even thought it over.
It leaves Lin Feng staring at him with his mouth slightly open. He seems to not have been expecting that response, but then neither was Jiang Yang, really.
"I can remind you to eat healthier foods," Jiang Yang says mildly, glancing down at the food in front of them somewhat meaningfully. It's not the worst possible choice they could have made, but neither of them had quite been thinking of healthy balanced meals while ordering.
Lin Feng follows his gaze down and then grins quickly, making his still too pale face light up. "I'm sure you should be eating better too, Jiang-dage," he says.
Jiang Yang blinks and then can't help but smile just a bit. "Most likely," he admits quite easily. "Maybe we can remind each other then," he suggests.
Lin Feng hesitates for a small moment, before nodding quickly. "That sounds good," he agrees.
Jiang Yang smiles at him. For a moment they eat in silence, before eventually, Jiang Yang carefully asks, "Can I ask about your illness? What it is? So I know what kind of foods are best, of course."
Jiang Yang knows that the question probably means he'll need to tell Lin Feng about the details of his own health in return, it seems only fair, but he finds that he doesn't really mind that thought so much.
They keep seeing each other on a somewhat irregular schedule. Jiang Yang really does read up on Lin Feng's illness—something he'd called Thalassemia—and finds out what sort of food would be good for him.
When asked about it Lin Feng admits a bit sheepishly that while his university's cafeteria offers a good enough range of foods, he often just ends up eating his favourites instead of actually putting any thought into it.
"Well, now you have someone else thinking about it," Jiang Yang says with a small smile and then without thinking about it suggests that next time Lin Feng should come over to his home for food. Jiang Yang's cooking is at least adequate and it'll be easier to make sure they're both eating the right things like that.
Lin Feng doesn't even hesitate to accept the invitation. It makes Jiang Yang's heart feel warm for a moment.
It's not until he actually returns home that Jiang Yang has some second thoughts. His home is very… humble.
He'd given Lin Feng the address and a description and he hadn't really reacted at all to Jiang Yang saying that his home doubled as his mobile phone repair shop. So, Jiang Yang shouldn't be bothered. And somehow, he still is. A little bit.
Lin Feng agreed to come over the next day, which gives Jiang Yang just about enough time to actually go buy groceries, what with needing to actually keep the shop open too. Somehow, his kitchen has gotten rather scarce on decent, let alone healthy, food. He definitely doesn't have any fresh produce in there.
He might not have enough money to afford anything extravagant, but there's very little else Jiang Yang uses money on these days. Perhaps he should make sure to keep his kitchen better stocked.
The cooking only leaves him a little bit short of breath, which isn't bad at all. He has some medication he can take if it gets worse. But as long as he's not hurrying too much, he does just fine. He's not sure if things are getting any better, but at least now they're telling him that they shouldn't get any worse either.
They don't quite know what Jiang Yang might have gotten exposed to that damaged his lungs but considering it had happened while he was in prison Jiang Yang suspects that it's going to stay a mystery. Once, he would probably have tried doing something about it, to find out the truth, but now… he just lets it go. He has one unsolved case weighing on his mind still that he can't let go of, that's more than enough for one person.
He shoves his suddenly morose thoughts away as he hears the knock on his door. Jiang Yang wipes off his hands on a towel and takes a quick look at the food, like he might have forgotten something. He tries to take a deep breath; his lungs twinge slightly and he feels like he can't quite get air into them properly. But he's used to that by now, so he just keeps breathing calmly and doesn't even cough. He takes that as a win.
The knock sounds again and Jiang Yang hurries to let Lin Feng inside, not letting himself dwell on anything else. It's too late to change his mind now anyway.
Lin Feng smiles at him, quick and easy.
"You're early," Jiang Yang tells him and then suppresses a grimace. "I'm glad you're here," he adds.
"I'm sorry. I didn't even bring a gift," Lin Feng blurts out, which isn't really a response to anything Jiang Yang had said. For a moment they just look at each other.
Jiang Yang huffs and shakes his head and gestures him inside. "It's fine, you're here," he says, and smiles at Lin Feng. It seems to set Lin Feng at ease, or at least he smiles back.
Jiang Yang leads him past his workstation and into the living area. Lin Feng looks around curiously and Jiang Yang tries to look elsewhere instead of staring at him and trying to figure out what Lin Feng might be thinking.
"I don't—" Jiang Yang tries to say when an unexpected cough overtakes him. He has to stop and Lin Feng's hand grasps him by the arm, his other hand settling lightly against Jiang Yang's back.
He doesn't say anything at all as Jiang Yang coughs, bending over slightly, just keeps his hands where they are, offering support. It's by far not the first time Jiang Yang has been caught off guard by a coughing attack in Lin Feng's presence.
"I thought they said you should be getting better," Lin Feng says quietly once Jiang Yang has caught his breath and straightened himself up. His hands are still touching Jiang Yang like he's worried about letting go.
"Slightly better," Jiang Yang answers softly, his voice a bit hoarse. He swallows before continuing. "Manageable, I'm pretty sure is what they said," Jiang Yang corrects.
Lin Feng grimaces, not looking too happy about that. But he knows better than anyone what it's like to live with a permanent condition and doesn't say anything. Jiang Yang takes a step away from him and Lin Feng lets his hands fall to his sides.
"You'll have to help me set the table," Jiang Yang says.
"I can do it on my own," Lin Feng says immediately. He hesitates for a moment, looking a bit sheepish. "If you tell me what to do."
For a moment Jiang Yang almost protests. He's not entirely useless.
"You already did all the cooking," Lin Feng points out.
Jiang Yang looks at his small kitchen area and huffs quietly. "Well, I still need to finish a few things," he says.
"Just tell me what to do," Lin Feng says again, a stubborn look on his face.
Jiang Yang opens his mouth to say— He closes his mouth and swallows. "Alright," he agrees.
They're sitting down and eating when Jiang Yang finally gets around to asking about Lin Feng's latest blood work. For a moment after he asks the question, he's hit by the fact of how strange their conversations are sometimes.
Who else would Jiang Yang ask about that kind of thing? Lin Feng doesn't even blink at the question. He waves his hand a bit, still holding his chopsticks.
"They were fine," he says dismissively.
Jiang Yang narrows his eyes and reaches out to put a few more pieces of meat into Lin Feng's bowl. Lin Feng smiles a bit sheepishly.
"They were better?" he then amends, managing to make it sound more like a question.
Jiang Yang huffs softly and smiles at Lin Feng. "Will you need more transfusions?" he asks.
"For now, no," Lin Feng answers and there's more than a bit of relief on his face. Jiang Yang clamps down on the urge to reach over and squeeze his arm.
"That's good. I'm glad," he just says. A smile brightens Lin Feng's expression.
When his friends visit they look at Jiang Yang with less worry in their eyes. He usually tries to ignore it, and pretends like he hasn't noticed anything. It's easier when he doesn't actually have to pretend.
Maybe that means he is doing better. He doesn't quite know.
He has his son stay over the weekend, instead of just visiting briefly. When he's sleeping Jiang Yang watches him and cries quietly. He's not even quite sure why.
"Why don't you get back together with your wife?" Zhu Wei asks him the next time he visits, his tone half-teasing and half-serious. He looks at Jiang Yang for a moment, his expression tilting all the way into serious. "She's a good woman and you care about her still," he says, his voice a bit quieter.
She is and Jiang Yang does, but not quite like Zhu Wei no doubt means.
"She deserves better than me," Jiang Yang says softly and smiles a little. She deserves someone who loves her the right way, even if she doesn't quite seem that interested in finding anyone.
Zhu Wei tries to protest, telling him that he deserves to be happy. It's not quite what Jiang Yang meant, but he doesn't really know how to explain either. He still cares deeply for her, but not quite like that. He thinks she might feel the same.
And all the while Lin Feng keeps coming over and letting Jiang Yang feed him. Somehow, Jiang Yang manages to only invite Lin Feng when no one else is there—not that he has frequent visitors exactly—and he's not entirely sure if that's on purpose or not. He's not entirely sure what Lin Feng is to him—a friend? A younger brother? Someone who happens to understand what it feels like to be sick? He doesn't quite want to try to explain it to anyone else, not yet at least.
This time, while they're eating, Lin Feng keeps glancing at Jiang Yang through lowered lashes and then quickly looking down at his food. It leaves Jiang Yang feeling a bit unsettled, in a way he can't quite put his finger on.
When Lin Feng awkwardly clears his throat and says, "I'm going to go watch a drum battle tomorrow, would you want to come with me, Jiang-dage?" Jiang Yang feels just a bit relieved. Lin Feng must have been feeling nervous about asking. That's why he kept looking at Jiang Yang like that.
Jiang Yang smiles at him reassuringly. Lin Feng looks down quickly and then glances up again almost immediately. There's a hint of an embarrassed flush to his cheeks.
"A drum battle? What's that?" Jiang Yang asks. He's never heard of it, even though the name seems to be a hint. He knows drumming is what Lin Feng had wanted to do with his life, instead of where he is now. According to Lin Feng, his health doesn't quite make it a good idea. There had been a hint of bitterness to his tone when he'd told Jiang Yang that, and Jiang Yang hadn't pried any further.
After a short explanation that leaves Jiang Yang feeling bemused, Lin Feng looks at him expectantly, his cheeks still slightly flushed. Jiang Yang realises suddenly that he still hasn't actually given him an answer.
"I'd be honoured to go with you. It'll be interesting," he says, even though he's not entirely certain he'll fit in at all. But he's honestly curious to see what Lin Feng likes to do when he's not visiting Jiang Yang, and he tries to think about that and the fact that he doesn't want to disappoint Lin Feng, instead of the apprehension twisting in his belly.
Lin Feng smiles at him bright and happy. Jiang Yang's own lips turn up in answer and he reaches over and adds more food to Lin Feng's bowl.
He meets up with Lin Feng beforehand. Jiang Yang had spent an inordinate amount of time at home trying to think of what to wear, so as not to look—well, too old and worn out. It's ridiculous, it's not like Lin Feng hasn't seen him just as he is countless times. But now Jiang Yang is going out where people of Lin Feng's age are going to see them together and somehow that just feels different.
He'd finally found a pair of jeans, that he has no actual memory of where they're from and he's not entirely sure he's ever worn them, and a shirt that isn't… grey. Looking through his clothes it suddenly seemed like all of them were grey. He'd never really noticed before.
Lin Feng looks good, Jiang Yang notices, so much healthier than he did when they first met. He's in jeans of his own and a chequered shirt with its sleeves rolled up, open over a t-shirt with some print that Jiang Yang fails to recognise. He has time to notice all of it as Lin Feng is just looking at him, an expression on his face that Jiang Yang can't quite place. Then his face slowly melts into a bright smile.
Jiang Yang's heart feels a little bit lighter.
"Jiang-dage, you came!" Lin Feng says, excitedly, taking a step closer to him. Then he stops, ducking his head suddenly and biting his lip. Jiang Yang can't quite tell if he's embarrassed or shy, neither quite seems like Lin Feng. "Of course you did, why wouldn't you?" he mutters. And then a moment later lifts his head again. The smile has faded into something tentative, and Jiang Yang feels a small pang at the loss.
"So, where exactly are we going? And should I be… doing something?" Jiang Yang asks, some of his own hesitancy probably coming through.
"It's not far," Lin Feng says, quite visibly hesitating before stepping forward and grabbing Jiang Yang's hand. Jiang Yang startles at the warm touch, his fingers instinctively curling around Lin Feng's hand. "It's this way," Lin Feng says quickly, tugging slightly at his hand. "We're only watching, so no, you don't need to do anything," he adds, still speaking a bit fast, not looking at Jiang Yang as he pulls him along.
After a few steps, Lin Feng slows down, which Jiang Yang appreciates. He's not very good at moving fast these days, not for long and not without it ending up in a coughing fit anyway.
"Sorry," Lin Feng mumbles, still not looking at him. But he doesn't let go of Jiang Yang's hand.
Jiang Yang thinks about pulling his hand away. He probably should, people are going to think… Well, he's not entirely sure what. Lin Feng's hand is still so very warm against his, and Jiang Yang finds himself reluctant to pull away. He takes a few steady breaths and squeezes Lin Feng's hand reassuringly.
Then finally, he makes himself let go. Lin Feng glances at him, and for a moment Jiang Yang thinks he looks disappointed. But then he smiles at Jiang Yang, all happy and excited and starts explaining something about drums that is very quickly lost on Jiang Yang, but he doesn't mind at all. He likes listening to Lin Feng talk about something that makes him happy.
The whole drum battle is… strange. Jiang Yang honestly has no other word for it. There are people congregating to watch others take turns drumming and it's—some kind of competition? Almost everyone there seems to be Lin Feng's age and Jiang Yang would feel a lot more out of place if one of the drummers wasn't in fact a lot older.
Everyone seems very excited about that drummer in particular. Lin Feng grabs Jiang Yang by the hand as the man starts drumming—Latin drums, Lin Feng tells him as he pulls him closer to the action. His eyes are on the drummer, his fingers tapping along against Jiang Yang's hand. Jiang Yang on the other hand is mostly just looking at Lin Feng.
The visible excitement is kind of contagious, and Jiang Yang smiles as he watches Lin Feng watch the drummer. Jiang Yang is no musician, not even particularly good at listening to music, but he's sure the drummer is very skilled at what he does.
Later, when the crowd spontaneously starts to disperse, wandering away as the drummers all start putting their equipment away, Jiang Yang can't help but quietly ask, "How do you know who won?"
Lin Feng looks at him with disbelief, actually stopping in his tracks. Jiang Yang immediately feels like maybe he should just have stayed quiet.
"It's… obvious?" Lin Feng says, questioningly, like he can't quite comprehend how Jiang Yang wouldn't have gotten it.
"Ah, I suppose I don't quite understand music well enough," Jiang Yang says quietly. He's suddenly wondering what exactly he's even doing here. He turns his head away slightly, not quite wanting to actually see Lin Feng's disappointment.
"Oh," Lin Feng breathes out very softly. His hand falls away from Jiang Yang's and Jiang Yang hadn't quite realised how comfortable he'd gotten holding onto Lin Feng's hand. "You didn't like it. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have—" Lin Feng's voice is very small, and Jiang Yang feels something that's almost panic.
For a moment his lungs seem to constrict and he thinks he can't quite catch his breath enough to actually say anything. "No!" he manages to squeeze out, interrupting Lin Feng. The word sounds too abrupt, too loud. There's a ringing silence left behind it. "I enjoyed it," Jiang Yang hastens to assure him. It's true, he did, even if largely because he liked seeing Lin Feng enjoying himself.
Without quite thinking Jiang Yang reaches out to touch Lin Feng's arm. It turns into a slightly awkward pat as he realises what he's doing. Then he quickly pulls his hand away, letting it fall down to his side.
Lin Feng looks at him with what Jiang Yang can't really describe as anything other than a hopeful look on his face. He bites his lip shortly, before asking, "You're sure? We can… do something else next time," he says hesitantly.
"I really did enjoy myself, Lin Feng," Jiang Yang assures. He's not entirely sure why Lin Feng had asked him to come, but maybe he just didn't want to go alone. Has he been missing out on going to things he enjoys since his old high school friends are living elsewhere?
Lin Feng has told him he still keeps in touch with them, but neither of them is exactly close by. Jiang Yang has never really asked how close Lin Feng is to the classmates he mentions occasionally. Maybe he doesn't have anyone else to take with him.
He hesitates for a moment. The truth is that he'd be happy to spend more time with Lin Feng, he enjoys the company and maybe Jiang Yang needs a few more reasons to get out of his home now and then. But maybe he shouldn't be burdening Lin Feng with that.
Lin Feng's expression brightens, a smile stealing over his face like he finally believes Jiang Yang's reassurance.
"So you'll come with me next time? There's another battle in a couple of days," he says, his voice managing to go from hopeful to wistful during those words. He wonders if Lin Feng would want to be the one taking part in those battles. He knows Lin Feng misses drumming.
Jiang Yang wavers for a moment. Then he makes the mistake of meeting Lin Feng's eyes. His throat feels constricted suddenly, and he has to force his next breath to stay calm. He really doesn't want to start coughing right now. He doesn't want to say no to that hopeful look.
Jiang Yang nods slightly. He takes another breath, and then carefully says, "I'd love to."
He takes another slow breath and still doesn't start coughing. The way Lin Feng smiles at him is more than enough to take someone's breath away.
They walk quietly for a while, their steps slow, mostly in deference to Jiang Yang, he's sure. He'll need to take a bus home and then—
"Do you want to come home with me?" he finds himself asking. He suddenly doesn't want to be alone there. "We can get some takeaway," he suggests, in case Lin Feng needs some reason. He should let Lin Feng get back to his dorm, he still needs to wake up for classes tomorrow, but now that the words are out there Jiang Yang doesn't quite want to take them back.
"Yes," Lin Feng answers enthusiastically enough that Jiang Yang stops worrying about it. For a while, anyway.
Jiang Yang goes to a few more drum battles. They still don't quite make sense, but Lin Feng visibly enjoys them and it's nice to see him smile like that. He looks healthy now, and happy.
Jiang Yang knows Lin Feng never quite told his parents about his problems here and… he wants to say something about it. But he can see how hypocritical that would be. There's an amount of bitterness there whenever Lin Feng mentions his parents, which isn't often. Seeing how much Lin Feng enjoys just watching others drumming, seeing the way his fingers will tap out the rhythm against his legs—Jiang Yang can tell how much he loves the drums, and how he isn't nearly as enthusiastic about what he's studying. He can kind of understand why Lin Feng might feel a bit bitter about being talked into studying something else, even if he agrees it's for his own good.
Jiang Yang wishes there was something he could do to make it better.
Somehow, Lin Feng starts showing up, even when Jiang Yang hasn't actually invited him over. He really doesn't mind much at all, it's nice to have someone to talk to.
He watches Lin Feng sitting on the floor at his coffee table, books spread out in front of him. A frown seems almost permanently etched on Lin Feng's face, as he chews on the end of his pen. It's the weekend and according to Lin Feng, he needs to have all of his homework done for Monday. Jiang Yang hasn't asked him if it wouldn't be easier for him to work at his dorm instead of dragging all his books here.
"What are you working on?" Jiang Yang asks almost too quietly. He doesn't quite want to break Lin Feng's concentration, but he's not looking like he's getting much of anywhere.
For a moment he thinks Lin Feng didn't hear him, but then with a frustrated noise, he pushes the book he's been staring at away and looks up at Jiang Yang.
"Maths," he says with a disgusted tone. "I'm studying business, why is there maths involved?" he asks, a small whine to his voice.
It makes Jiang Yang want to smile just a bit, but instead, he tries to look sympathetic. He might have enjoyed his own studies more than Lin Feng seems to be doing, but Jiang Yang didn't quite love all his subjects either.
"It's been a while, but… I could try to help you," Jiang Yang suggests carefully. He's not sure how much he might remember, but he'd done pretty well at maths, back in the day.
The look of blatant surprise that steals over Lin Feng's face feels like a punch to the gut. Lin Feng quickly turns his face away, but it's already too late. Jiang Yang draws in a quick breath, too quick. He can feel the cough building in his lungs, and no matter how he tries to keep it down, he can't quite stop it. He grasps the back of the armchair he's closest to as the coughs rack his body.
Thankfully, it's over before Lin Feng can manage to get all the way up. Jiang Yang smiles faintly and gestures for him to sit back down, and tries to take calm breaths.
Lin Feng slumps back down to the floor, his head bent down. "I'm sorry," he mumbles towards the floor like he's at fault for Jiang Yang's bad lungs.
Jiang Yang gestures at him, not quite up for words yet. It's embarrassing to be so upset by—what? The fact that Lin Feng is surprised that Jiang Yang would—could—offer help in something like maths? Jiang Yang takes calm breaths as that thought still makes something twinge faintly in his chest. It's ridiculous to be hurt by Lin Feng's assumption. It's not like it even matters how educated Jiang Yang is or not.
"Haven't I told you about university? About where I used to work?" Jiang Yang asks, his voice faint, once he finally feels like he has enough breath for it. For a moment he can't believe he really wouldn't have mentioned any of it. What else does Jiang Yang really ever have to talk about other than his former work—what else does he still think about all the time?
But he hasn't said anything, has he? How strange, he thinks.
Lin Feng looks up at him hesitantly. He still looks regretful. He shakes his head a bit. "No, you haven't," he says, in a surprisingly small voice.
"Oh," Jiang Yang breathes out. Then he smiles. It's even weirder that he suddenly feels happy about it—that Lin Feng doesn't know about the person he used to be and he's still here. It feels like the whole burden of his past isn't there, just for a moment.
"Maybe I should tell you sometime," he then says, the weight of all of it settling back on his shoulders, feeling that much heavier now because it hadn't been there for a moment. He thinks his shoulders might literally bow at the weight.
Jiang Yang takes a slow breath. And suddenly Lin Feng is there, standing next to him. He hadn't even noticed him getting up. He reaches out for Jiang Yang and then hesitates, his hand dropping back down to his side a bit awkwardly.
"Only if you want to," he says, sounding so very tentative.
It's Jiang Yang who reaches out to pat Lin Feng's shoulder. He seems like he might need a bit of reassuring. Lin Feng's head tilts to the side a bit, leaning towards Jiang Yang's grip that lingers on his shoulder. A moment later, Jiang Yang snatches his hand back.
"It's just… Well, it's not a story that ends very happily," Jiang Yang says, suddenly feeling awkward. He makes a small gesture at his home, like that might tell Lin Feng everything he needs to know, even though that's not exactly what Jiang Yang meant.
"Well, I kind of like it. Where it ends," Lin Feng says almost defiantly. He meets Jiang Yang's gaze for a moment, his eyes intent, and then can't seem to keep doing it for any longer as he suddenly turns his head away, looking to the side. There's a small blush creeping up to his cheeks.
Somehow, Jiang Yang manages to feel both more awkward and happy at the same time. "Ah… I'm happy I met you, Lin Feng," he says. It comes out ridiculously awkward, but he is. He's not ignorant of how much Lin Feng has brightened up his life.
Lin Feng looks back quickly, a bright smile spreading over his features. Jiang Yang has no idea why he does it, but suddenly he can't help but reach out and ruffle Lin Feng's hair. For a moment Lin Feng freezes in place and then he makes a small indignant squeak and ducks away from the touch. If he wasn't so sure that he'd just end up losing his breath again, Jiang Yang might just have tried to chase after him.
He does end up sitting next to Lin Feng at the coffee table, looking at his maths book. It really has been a while since he did any of this stuff, and he's not really sure how much help he ends up being. But there's no frown on Lin Feng's face as he tries to work out the maths problems, with Jiang Yang's dubious assistance, so maybe that's good enough.
Jiang Yang pokes around at Lin Feng's other books since they're right there. He picks up one that seems to be on the topic of corporate law. He supposes you do need to know something about it if you're studying business management.
"I'd probably be more help with this," he mutters quietly, mostly speaking to himself.
There's a moment of quiet and then Lin Feng leans against him slightly as he reaches for the book Jiang Yang is holding. "Great, I'll take any help you can give," Lin Feng says, setting the book back on the table. He sounds a lot more cheerful about the prospect of studying than Jiang Yang has ever heard him be before.
It's around Lin Feng's exam time when he really doesn't have time for anything but his studies, let alone seeing Jiang Yang, that Jiang Yang really realises how much time he's been spending with Lin Feng.
It's not like he saw Lin Feng every day or anything, and if his son was visiting he wouldn't come over at all. He'd never tried to keep them apart on purpose, but whenever he told Lin Feng that Xiaoshu would be staying for a few days Lin Feng would always tell him he had something else to do.
But now that Lin Feng is busy all the time, Jiang Yang often finds himself thinking: "oh, I should remember to tell Lin Feng about this later," about the small things that happen along the day and then realising that he can't. The small realisation makes his breath hitch every time and he has to try to breathe very slowly so he doesn't start coughing right there in front of his customers.
How many silly little things does he usually gather from every day, things some customer said or did, or from his trip to the grocery, or from all the very mundane and rather boring things Jiang Yang does along the day, to tell Lin Feng, like Lin Feng would actually be interested? He's never actually thought about it before. Lin Feng must usually indulge him by listening, right? Since Jiang Yang keeps doing it.
When he goes out to eat with his friends, which he hasn't done in a while, they keep asking him about how he suddenly has time now, when he's been too busy the last few times they invited him out. Jiang Yang feels a little bit guilty about that, but it really had coincided with times he'd already promised to go out with Lin Feng.
For some reason, he feels his cheeks heating and he stumbles over his answer.
"I just had… prior engagements," he manages to say, his cheeks heating a bit more.
For some reason, it makes both Zhu Wei and Chen Mingzhang grin like they know something Jiang Yang doesn't. But at least it makes them look less worried about him, so Jiang Yang doesn't mind too much.
He hates how worried his friends get about him. They don't need to be. Jiang Yang is doing better these days.
The first thing he hears about Lin Feng in a while, is not how he wanted to hear about him at all. It's a call from the hospital, saying that Lin Feng has been admitted. For a moment Jiang Yang just… doesn't understand what they're trying to tell him and the woman on the other end of the line has to explain again, patient and just a bit tired.
Lin Feng's anaemia has gotten worse. For a moment Jiang Yang wants to tell her that that can't be right, Lin Feng was doing better. He swallows the words, she doesn't need him to argue with her. Of course she knows what she's talking about.
She assures him that Lin Feng is out of danger now, but he will have to stay at the hospital for a while. He'll need more transfusions.
Jiang Yang thanks her and hangs up. It only occurs to him to wonder why the hospital called him after he's already ended the phone call. He's glad to be informed of course, but Lin Feng has a family they should be calling, not him.
Well, he can ask when he gets to the hospital, he supposes. He'll have to take Xiaoshu with him, since he's staying for the weekend, and there's not enough time to take him back to his mother now.
When they walk into the room Lin Feng is lying on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. There's a small moment before he turns to look in their direction and Jiang Yang is stuck there in the doorway, feeling too awkward to step in further, his son standing slightly behind him, holding onto Jiang Yang's hand.
Lin Feng turns his head, his eyes widening as he catches sight of them. Then he's already trying to push himself up, pulling at his IV line in his haste. He looks so pale, Jiang Yang thinks.
"Don't get up," Jiang Yang says, taking a few quick steps towards Lin Feng's bed, pulling Xiaoshu with him.
Lin Feng hesitates, one hand braced against the bed and sort of halfway to sitting up, his weight resting on his arm. Jiang Yang probably couldn't keep himself in that position for very long at all, he thinks, definitely not if he was… sick.
"Please, there's no need," Jiang Yang says, his hand landing against Lin Feng's shoulder without even thinking. He doesn't push exactly, but Lin Feng still sinks back down to the bed, like he's suddenly gone boneless. Jiang Yang's hand falls back to his side.
Lin Feng is still staring at Jiang Yang with wide eyes, before his eyes suddenly flick down to Xiaoshu, still nervously standing slightly behind Jiang Yang. Somehow, Lin Feng's eyes seem to grow even wider.
"How are you feeling?" Jiang Yang asks him.
Lin Feng swallows and moves his eyes back to Jiang Yang. "Fine," he says, his voice coming out a bit faint. Jiang Yang looks at him disbelievingly and slowly his expression turns maybe a bit sheepish. "Better at least. I didn't mean to…" he says, waving one hand weakly, before realising it's the one the IV is attached to and settling it back down.
"How did you…? Why are you here, Yang-ge?" Lin Feng asks, his voice growing smaller with every word.
"The hospital called me," he answers.
Lin Feng frowns slightly and then suddenly looks a bit awkward. Jiang Yang has the feeling he might know exactly why the hospital had called him. He wants to ask about it, wants to ask what had happened that Lin Feng had ended up in hospital in the first place, but Xiaoshu is quietly tugging at his hand.
Jiang Yang turns to his son instead. "You haven't met my son, have you?" he asks, gently moving Xiaoshu so he's not quite hidden behind Jiang Yang.
He's not sure which of them, Lin Feng or Xiaoshu, seems more nervous.
After the somewhat shy and awkward greetings, Xiaoshu retreats a bit further away, to entertain himself with some of the toys they'd packed with him. Jiang Yang moves a chair a bit closer to Lin Feng's bedside and sits down.
When he's sitting he notices that Lin Feng is staring in the direction of Xiaoshu, quietly watching him play.
"You don't mind, do you?" Jiang Yang asks, not entirely sure where the sudden knot in his belly came from. His lungs tickle faintly like he might need to cough. He resolutely ignores the feeling.
"I… What?" Lin Feng asks, pulling his gaze away and looking at Jiang Yang, with a slightly confused frown.
"Is it okay that I took Xiaoshu with me?" Jiang Yang clarifies.
The awkward look suddenly makes its way back onto Lin Feng's face. "Oh… of course. I… I'm sorry that they called you when…" Lin Feng says haltingly, his eyes briefly turning back in Xiaoshu's direction.
"I'm glad they did," Jiang Yang says firmly.
Lin Feng's eyes flare a bit wider and then he looks away from Jiang Yang. But it's not like he can turn away really, lying down on the bed.
"Why did they call me?" Jiang Yang asks gently.
Lin Feng's eyes flick to him momentarily, before he looks away again. He bites his lip slightly, before mumbling an answer that Jiang Yang doesn't quite catch.
"Lin Feng?" he asks, feeling just a bit amused by this point. It's easier to be amused now that he can see with his own eyes that Lin Feng really is doing okay.
"I made you my contact person," Lin Feng says a bit louder. "You're here, closer than…" he mutters a bit defiantly, before the rest of the sentence sort of dies out into nothing. Jiang Yang can't help, how despite everything, his heart warms a bit at the thought that Lin Feng would want him here for situations like this.
"So, your family doesn't know you're here?" Jiang Yang asks with a small sigh. He's not going to lecture Lin Feng on it. He knows Lin Feng's attitude towards his family is a bit complicated. Jiang Yang isn't quite sure he's entirely forgiven them for convincing him to study business instead of the music he so loves.
"They don't need to worry. I'm fine," Lin Feng says.
Jiang Yang sighs quietly and doesn't try to argue. It's not like Lin Feng doesn't talk to his family at all. Absently, he reaches out to pat Lin Feng's arm.
Lin Feng smiles very tentatively. "You're not… Is it okay that I have you as my contact?" he asks hesitantly.
Jiang Yang swallows another sigh. "I don't mind. I'm glad they informed me. How else would I know to come visit you?" Jiang Yang says with a small smile. It makes Lin Feng look relieved.
Lin Feng reluctantly tells him that he might have ended up neglecting his health a little during his exams. Jiang Yang tries his best not to scold him too much for it, Lin Feng probably doesn't need it right now, but Jiang Yang just worries about him.
Lin Feng isn't entirely sure of his current situation, or when he might be able to leave the hospital. With Lin Feng's permission, Jiang Yang leaves to go find someone he could perhaps ask about it, leaving his son with Lin Feng—or in Lin Feng's room at least, after Xiaoshu quietly promises that he'll stay in the room. Jiang Yang doesn't doubt that he will, he's usually very good at entertaining himself with his toys.
Jiang Yang doesn't really get much information from the nurse he finds to talk to, beyond the fact that they'll know more after the doctor has time to see Lin Feng. Jiang Yang nods and thanks her anyway and then goes back to Lin Feng's room.
To his surprise he finds Xiaoshu at the side of Lin Feng's bed, looking at Lin Feng who has turned over to his side, propped up on one arm, so he can look back at Xiaoshu.
"My mom always gave them to me when I'd done something good," he hears Lin Feng tell Xiaoshu quietly as he walks closer to the bed. It's only then that he notices the candy Xiaoshu is holding, the same white rabbit candy that he's seen Lin Feng eat occasionally. "I guess they're a bit old-fashioned," Lin Feng adds, his shoulders moving in a small shrug.
Xiaoshu looks down at the candy, and then kind of tentatively unwraps it. Lin Feng looks up at Jiang Yang, with a look that says he might have been caught doing something he shouldn't. Jiang Yang smiles reassuringly at him and settles a hand on his son's shoulder.
"Did you remember to thank Lin Feng?" he asks.
"Of course," Xiaoshu answers with a mouth full of candy.
"Good," Jiang Yang says, as Xiaoshu squirms away from his touch. Jiang Yang watches in bemusement as his son hurries back to his toys.
He looks back at Lin Feng, who's turned to lie on his back again.
"I'm glad you're getting along," Jiang Yang says, with a hint of amusement.
Lin Feng looks a bit awkward, opening his mouth like he might be about to say something before closing it again. "Did you find out anything?" he asks after another moment.
Jiang Yang doesn't mind the change of subject. He sits down in the same chair as earlier, that he'd left next to the bed, before answering. "Not really. We'll have to wait for the doctor to find out when they're letting you go."
Lin Feng's nose scrunches up a bit, a look of vague displeasure on his face. "I'm feeling fine," he says with a small pout.
Jiang Yang has to stop himself from reaching out and trying to ruffle his hair. He huffs, the noise coming out more fond than disapproving. "And you were probably feeling just fine until you passed out and scared your roommates," Jiang Yang says, managing to at least make that sound a bit admonishing.
Lin Feng grimaces and doesn't even try to argue.
They stay with Lin Feng until the doctor arrives. Jiang Yang is ready to usher his son out of the room, so they can both wait outside, when Lin Feng asks them to stay. Jiang Yang hesitates for a moment and then nods wordlessly, moving off to the side a bit, feeling a bit too awkward to sit down in the chair he'd been using earlier.
The doctor says nothing about the small interaction and just introduces himself to them politely.
The visit isn't long at all. Lin Feng is recovering nicely. His blood tests have improved and the doctor will consider releasing him tomorrow if everything keeps going well. Lin Feng keeps nodding along quietly, not asking any questions.
The doctor says he'll write Lin Feng some sick leave because he'll still need to rest. He looks down at his papers and frowns slightly.
"You're staying at… your college dorms?" the doctor asks. "Is there a chance you could go home for a while? I would be more comfortable if there was someone who could look after you."
Jiang Yang wants to smile at the unspoken implication that a bunch of young men in a dorm will not be helpful at looking after anyone.
He can see the reluctance written all over Lin Feng's face.
"Lin Feng can stay with me," he says before Lin Feng can say anything. If he'd thought that Lin Feng would agree to go home, he wouldn't have said anything. But Lin Feng still doesn't want his family to think there's anything to worry about. "That way he doesn't need to make the trip home in his condition," Jiang Yang adds softly.
The doctor just nods approvingly and moves on to the next issue. Lin Feng keeps looking at Jiang Yang with slightly wide eyes. Jiang Yang doesn't quite know how to feel.
After the doctor's visit, Jiang Yang and Xiaoshu have to leave too. He needs to feed Xiaoshu, which is a bit overdue at this point.
With a bit of prompting, Xiaoshu shyly says goodbye to Lin Feng, who just smiles awkwardly and offers an almost equally shy goodbye.
"I'll come back tomorrow before they let you leave. But I need to take Xiaoshu back home to his mother tomorrow, so I might be a bit late," he explains to Lin Feng.
Lin Feng nods slightly and then quickly says, "It's okay, Yang-ge, you don't need to—"
Jiang Yang reaches out to touch his arm, and Lin Feng goes abruptly quiet, swallowing quickly.
"I don't mind," Jiang Yang says firmly. "I'll see you tomorrow."
When they finally let Lin Feng out of the hospital, Jiang Yang expects that he'll have some protests about living with Jiang Yang for the next week, but he says nothing about it. He's almost uncharacteristically quiet as they stop at his dorms to pick up a few things that Jiang Yang ends up insisting on carrying because Lin Feng really shouldn't be exerting himself at all yet.
Lin Feng almost protests at that, Jiang Yang can see. But then he just lowers his gaze and meekly complies. Jiang Yang's counterargument, that he'd already been thinking of, is entirely unneeded. He swallows the words and looks worriedly at Lin Feng.
It's not like Lin Feng usually talks that much, and maybe there's nothing at all for Jiang Yang to worry about. Of course, he's still tired.
They get all the way to Jiang Yang's home, where Jiang Yang sets out a place for Lin Feng to sleep. Lin Feng offers to help of course, but when Jiang Yang declines, he doesn't insist. It makes worry twist a bit tighter around his guts and Jiang Yang realises how used he's gotten to Lin Feng being concerned about Jiang Yang overexerting himself.
Jiang Yang sits down in the armchair, breathing carefully. He's not so weak that he can't get anything done, and his lungs are doing better these days. The medication is helping. Right now he still feels like he can't quite draw in enough breath.
He looks over at Lin Feng, sitting in the other armchair, looking back at him. Jiang Yang can't really say what the expression on his face is. Jiang Yang smiles a bit.
"If you want to rest for a while…" he offers.
"No," Lin Feng says quickly. Then he looks down, away from Jiang Yang. "I just want to… not lie down for a bit. I've been lying down enough," he says softly.
"Of course," Jiang Yang agrees. He sounds awkward, he thinks. Neither of them says anything for a moment, and the silence feels awkward too, in a way Jiang Yang doesn't remember it feeling between them.
It's just the new circumstances, and Lin Feng is still ill, Jiang Yang tells himself firmly. He's overthinking things.
"I was going to say… I'll make us something to eat while you rest," he says and then doesn't quite know where to go from there.
"Oh… I'll just… wait here," Lin Feng offers, looking up at him slightly.
"If that's what you want," Jiang Yang agrees. Why are they both so awkward suddenly?
He smiles faintly, and it feels somehow wrong too. Then he stands up and makes his way towards his kitchen area.
Once both of them get used to the situation, the awkwardness falls away. Jiang Yang is so relieved by that, that he has to wonder about it just a bit.
Lin Feng sleeps a lot during the first two days, which is good for him. He needs the rest to let his body recover. Jiang Yang makes sure that he'll get all the nutritious food he needs to get back to full health.
It means he really does need to go grocery shopping. He hadn't quite kept his kitchen so well stocked while Lin Feng wasn't visiting. It always feels like so much effort to go through to cook for just himself.
When he sees the white rabbit candies while shopping for food— Well, it's entirely on a whim that he decides to buy them. But they're important to Lin Feng, he thinks, and he might have run out. It's not like Lin Feng has had an opportunity to go out to buy anything.
Lin Feng's appetite is not all there. Jiang Yang can't really be angry at him for that, he doesn't usually have much appetite on his worse days either. Jiang Yang tries to encourage him to eat more, but it might slip on the side of gentle scolding instead. At least it works, Jiang Yang thinks, which is the important thing.
Lin Feng slowly, and a touch reluctantly, eats everything Jiang Yang adds to his bowl.
"Good," Jiang Yang tells him once he's finished everything and then… Well, he has no idea what possesses him to offer Lin Feng one of the candies.
Lin Feng looks at the candy and then turns his eyes to Jiang Yang's face. His eyes are wide and disbelieving. Jiang Yang swallows, and he can feel the heat creeping up from beneath his collar. He really just wants to pull the candy away.
"Thank you," Lin Feng says softly, his fingers closing over Jiang Yang's as he takes the candy from him.
Jiang Yang swallows. His smile feels a bit faint.
Then, Lin Feng is unwrapping the candy and Jiang Yang quickly starts carrying all the bowls to the sink. Before he quite knows how it's happened Lin Feng has convinced him into letting Lin Feng help with the washing up.
It's been a week, Lin Feng's sick time will be over the next day and he's supposed to go back to the dorm, and then home soon enough. He's supposed to spend the summer at home. With his family.
He's doing better than he did when he got out of the hospital. He's still a bit pale, Jiang Yang thinks, but he's not so tired anymore.
"Yang-ge," Lin Feng says, making Jiang Yang startle. "You're staring," he points out.
Jiang Yang makes an awkward noise, realising that that's exactly what he was doing—standing here and staring at Lin Feng. He'd been reading a book. Lin Feng isn't much for reading really. He must have been so bored staying here with Jiang Yang, it's not like there's much to do here.
"Yang-ge?" Lin Feng says tentatively, and Jiang Yang has to pull his attention back again from… wherever it was trying to wander. "Is everything okay?"
Jiang Yang has the sudden ridiculous urge to tell him, 'no.' He wants to tell Lin Feng not to leave.
He huffs dryly and then tries to smile. "Of course. I was just… Are you sure you'll be well enough to travel?"
"You don't need to worry about me, Yang-ge. I'm…" Lin Feng ducks his head. "You've been taking good care of me," he says, his voice quiet enough that Jiang Yang has to strain a bit to hear what he says.
There's a sudden silence, and Jiang Yang doesn't quite know how to fill it.
Lin Feng clears his throat. "I should have packed my things already, shouldn't I?" he asks, suddenly standing up. "I'll start doing that now," he declares.
He takes a step away and then stops, abruptly turning towards Jiang Yang instead. "Will you miss me at least, Yang-ge?" he asks, sounding almost defiant.
Jiang Yang blinks. "I…" he tries to say, the surprise robbing him of words, even though the answer should be easy.
Lin Feng makes a small noise, his face falling and then he's turning away and— Lin Feng stops again, whirls around and in a few determined steps closes the distance between them. Jiang Yang draws a quick, surprised breath, and then doesn't quite have time to even think about what's happening as Lin Feng's soft lips press against his.
Jiang Yang feels like he can't breathe. But he feels like he can't breathe a lot and he should just… He should…
Lin Feng steps back. Jiang Yang's hand lifts up to touch his own lips. He has to keep reminding himself to breathe.
"You… I… I like you," Lin Feng says, haltingly at first and then ending up with that same defiance in his tone, like that's the only way he can get the words out. "I like you and you… You go out with me and ask me to stay and take care of me and then you still don't… I don't know if you… You'll just send me away," Lin Feng bursts out in frustration. He looks hurt and frustrated and Jiang Yang can't— He can't—
"You can't… You don't mean that, Lin Feng. You can't. I'm not—" Jiang Yang whispers roughly.
"I like you," Lin Feng repeats stubbornly. Jiang Yang wants to tell him to stop. He's so young and he shouldn't be throwing away his life on someone like Jiang Yang. "If you don't want me… It's… You don't have to…" he stammers, then he swallows quickly and firmly repeats, "But I like you, Yang-ge." It's like he's very determined to hold onto that fact—like it's the one thing he knows for sure.
All the reasons why Lin Feng should just forget about it—forget about him—whirl through Jiang Yang's mind. He's not worth it and he should… Lin Feng should see that.
"I was in prison," Jiang Yang blurts out abruptly.
He sees Lin Feng's eyes widen, a breathless, surprised sound falling from his lips. Jiang Yang feels like he's stuck a knife into his own heart. He didn't think it would hurt so much. He can't catch his breath.
Lin Feng's fingers are clutching at the front of his shirt and Jiang Yang can't breathe.
"So what? I don't care," Lin Feng says. Jiang Yang gasps in a breath and then he's coughing and coughing and coughing.
Lin Feng is holding onto him, his hands warm and soothing—his voice softly talking Jiang Yang through the attack.
When it's over, he helps Jiang Yang to sit, settling him down gently in an armchair. Jiang Yang can't quite look at him, feeling the heat of embarrassment in his cheeks. Lin Feng leaves him long enough to get him some water, and then softly urges Jiang Yang to drink. Jiang Yang's hands tremble around the cup.
Lin Feng takes the cup away from him when he's done, setting it aside, before falling down on his knees in front of Jiang Yang. Jiang Yang's heart stutters.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have—" Lin Feng says quietly, his eyes downcast.
Jiang Yang can't let him go on any longer. "I like you too," he says, his voice quiet and rough. The admission feels like too much, the words wrenching loose something in his chest that he's been trying to ignore all this time. But Lin Feng deserves his honesty at least. "But I'm not… I'm not worth…" the rest of the words get caught in his throat as he feels Lin Feng's touch against his knee.
Lin Feng is looking up at him with large eyes and such a bright smile on his lips that Jiang Yang is afraid he's going to forget how to breathe again. "You like me," Lin Feng repeats, his smile growing somehow impossibly brighter.
Then he just settles his head in Jiang Yang's lap. Just like that, like it's easy. Jiang Yang breathes carefully, his trembling fingers settling against Lin Feng's hair.
"I do," he agrees quietly. He really doesn't want to let Lin Feng go.
Jiang Yang really does mean to try to convince Lin Feng that changing their relationship into something different is a bad idea. But Lin Feng stubbornly refuses to hear anything beyond the, "I like you too," that Jiang Yang had confessed to. Lin Feng can be very, very stubborn when he wants to.
Part of Jiang Yang is pathetically grateful for that fact—for the fact that Lin Feng simply refuses to let Jiang Yang change his mind. Jiang Yang doesn't want to change his mind. Not really.
But of course, Lin Feng still needs to go back to his dorm and finish off his last few remaining days of study. After that, he's supposed to go home. Except he doesn't. He just suddenly informs Jiang Yang that he's postponed it by a couple of weeks and will be staying with Jiang Yang for that time.
Jiang Yang tries to protest. Because Lin Feng should go home to his family, and what will they think?
Lin Feng snorts softly and says, "My stepmom will be grateful that she doesn't have to see me grumpy every day." Lin Feng's tone is mostly joking, but Jiang Yang looks at him with some worry anyway.
Lin Feng sighs quietly and waves his hand. "I talked to her on the phone, it'll be fine. She wasn't entirely happy about it, but she agreed that it would be okay," he says softly. Jiang Yang doesn't quite dare to ask what exactly Lin Feng might have told his parents, what reason he'd given for staying here for a few more weeks.
Then Lin Feng grins a bit and leans in to brush a quick, shy kiss against Jiang Yang's cheek. "Besides, I would have been grumpy all the time, because I was missing you, Yang-ge," he says with a smile.
He looks happy Jiang Yang thinks. Suddenly, he can't bear to argue anymore. He can still feel the lingering touch of Lin Feng's lips against his cheek.
Time passes far too fast and Jiang Yang almost resents the time he has to actually work because he can't spend the time with Lin Feng. Well, that's not entirely true, he supposes, because Lin Feng is pretty much there even when he's working, occasionally ushering Jiang Yang to go take a rest, because he might not know what to do with a broken mobile phone, but he does know how to sit and wait for a customer to show up. He can call for Jiang Yang when someone does show up.
For the first few days, Jiang Yang keeps waiting for things to change somehow. For their interactions to change, for things to… He's really not sure what. Lin Feng doing his best to help with Jiang Yang's work, is honestly the biggest change.
Well, there are the tentative kisses when it's just the two of them. Soft lips pressed against Jiang Yang's cheek, or a quick shy press of lips against his own. Those are definitely new. Each kiss makes something soft and happy and bright bubble up in Jiang Yang's chest.
But nothing really changes between them, and after a few days of being horribly nervous about it Jiang Yang finds himself—happy, he thinks.
He takes Lin Feng with him to visit his son because Jiang Yang misses Xiaoshu and had postponed seeing him because of Lin Feng staying over while he was sick. Lin Feng asks him several times if he's sure he wants Lin Feng coming with him, until Jiang Yang finds himself kissing Lin Feng just to make him stop.
Well, not just to make him stop. It's just a small, quick kiss, but it leaves both of them just… staring at each other. Jiang Yang has never been the one to do that before, it's always Lin Feng kissing him.
He takes a slow, steady breath, and then leans in and kisses Lin Feng again. He presses his palm against Lin Feng's cheek as their lips move against each other, Lin Feng's hands resting against his shoulders as he leans in closer.
They break apart slowly. There's a shy, but happy smile on Lin Feng's lips and Jiang Yang can't help but smile back at him, his heart so full that it feels like it might burst.
"I wouldn't have asked you if I didn't want you to come. Xiaoshu knows you're my friend," Jiang Yang says quietly.
Lin Feng nods and then leans in to settle his head against Jiang Yang's shoulder. "Alright," he agrees softly.
Jiang Yang wraps his arms lightly around Lin Feng's waist.
It feels like only the blink of an eye and two weeks are already almost over. There's only a couple of days before Lin Feng will be leaving and somehow Jiang Yang already finds himself missing him.
He tells Lin Feng as much. It makes Lin Feng look ridiculously pleased, his fingers wrapping a bit tighter around Jiang Yang's hand. They're currently outside, which is the only reason why Jiang Yang doesn't lean in and kiss him.
He really, really wants to.
"I'm going to miss you too," Lin Feng says, his face falling a little. Then he tries to grin again, although it doesn't quite reach his eyes. "You'll probably get sick of me calling and sending messages all the time."
"I always want to hear what you have to say," Jiang Yang answers. His free hand lifts up towards Lin Feng and he has to stop himself, before he… Well, they're still in public, even if there aren't really people around.
Lin Feng's expression brightens a bit.
"Where are you taking me anyway?" Jiang Yang asks. Lin Feng hadn't said, he'd just insisted on them going somewhere and Jiang Yang had just gone along, happy to go anywhere as long as it's with Lin Feng.
"Here," Lin Feng says, pulling him a bit further along until they're looking at—well, drums. Lin Feng shrugs slightly, looking awkward suddenly. "You've never seen me drumming and I…" his voice trails off into quiet and he turns his head away.
"Thank you, Lin Feng," Jiang Yang says. He looks around, but he doesn't see anyone else. His heart is hammering in his chest as he leans in and presses a small and very quick kiss to the corner of Lin Feng's mouth.
Lin Feng startles a bit and turns to look at Jiang Yang, a slow smile blooming on his lips. Suddenly, Lin Feng throws his arms around Jiang Yang, pressing himself close. Jiang Yang gasps in surprise, loudly enough apparently that it makes Lin Feng mumble a quiet, "Sorry."
Jiang Yang should probably push him away. Other people might wander by at any moment, even if this apparently isn't the most popular spot for people to come. Instead, he wraps his arms around Lin Feng and hugs him back, just for a moment.
"It's okay," he mumbles back.
"I'll come back as soon as I can," Lin Feng whispers fervently. Jiang Yang realises that he really isn't the only one who can't stop thinking about how Lin Feng will be leaving very soon.
"I'll be here, waiting," Jiang Yang promises quietly. Then he very reluctantly pushes Lin Feng away from him, just a bit. "Didn't you take me here for a reason?" he asks.
The summer feels very long, despite all the messages he gets from Lin Feng. Jiang Yang starts feeling like the only times he isn't glued to his phone is when Xiaoshu visits. His friends might make fun of him for it, when they notice, but Jiang Yang doesn't really mind.
When he finally goes to the train station to meet Lin Feng, he's pretty sure he was never quite this nervous before, even in his first relationship. Except Lin Feng grins at him brightly the moment he sees him, hurrying over. His bag falls over with a clatter as he throws his arms around Jiang Yang and lifts him off the ground, actually whirling him around.
Jiang Yang makes a breathless noise, his belly swooping. "Lin Feng," he protests quietly.
Lin Feng sets him down with a sheepish smile. "Sorry," he says, but Jiang Yang doesn't think he's all that sorry at all.
Jiang Yang smiles helplessly, his fingers wrapping around Lin Feng's forearm to steady himself. For some reason, he's feeling just a bit unsteady. Lin Feng's arm feels very firm under his fingers.
"I missed you," Lin Feng says simply. Jiang Yang sways in closer to him before he manages to stop himself.
"I missed you too," he says, his voice just a bit strangled. They both stare at each other. Lin Feng bites his lip.
"Could you take me home now?" Lin Feng asks breathlessly.
"Of course," Jiang Yang says, and can't quite stop smiling.