at Song Tao before Sun Ning can steer him away. ”Save my seat, ok? ”

Song Tao nods. He doesn look as happy as before. ”Sure. ”

Zhen Yan looks at him for a second longer, wishing not for the first time tonight that he could know what Song Tao was thinking. ”Don steal my nuts, ” he adds. It makes Song Tao smile and something like relief rushes through Zhen Yans veins, making him feel a bit lightheaded.

”Ok. ”

Zhen Yan eyes him, adopting the most serious expression he can manage with the world spinning around him the way it is. ”You promise? ”

Song Taos smile widens. ”Promise. ”

”Zhen Yan, ” Sun Ning whines, tugging his arm in Zhen Yans hold.

Satisfied hes secured a promise from Song Tao, Zhen Yan lets himself be dragged away, keeping his eyes on Song Tao until he disappears behind a swarm of bodies.

Sun Ning rounds on him right as they reach the bathrooms. ”What are you doing with Mr. Song Tao? ”

”What? ” Zhen Yan squirms a bit. He really does need to pee. And the more he thinks about it, the more desperate the situation becomes.

”Mr. Song Tao! You
e drinking with him?! ”

Zhen Yan didn know Sun Nings voice could go that high. ”I don know. Yes? ” He wiggles a little more. Maybe Sun Ning will notice and let him go pee.

”But… why? ” Sun Nings mouth is hanging open. He looks ridiculous. Zhen Yan snorts.

”I don know. It was fun. Can I pee now? ”

Sun Ning sighs, falling back against the wall. He looks like hes aged ten years in ten seconds. ”Yes.

Fine. Go. ”

”You don have to pee? ” Zhen Yan asks, wondering why Sun Ning doesn look like he has any plans of entering the bathroom.

”No. ” Sun Ning shakes his head. ”I said it to get away from him. ”

”What? Why? ” Zhen Yan questions, perplexed. ”Song Taos nice. ”

”Nice, ” Sun Ning repeats, his voice sounding a bit strange. He presses a hand to his face like he suddenly has a headache. ”Just… go. Im too drunk for this. ”

Zhen Yan might make fun of him a little more if it weren for the fact that he thinks he might explode if he doesn pee in the next five seconds. He dashes quickly into the bathroom to relieve himself. Sun Ning is nowhere to be seen when Zhen Yan exits, but a familiar face appears as Zhen Yan moves to re-enter the general bar area. Its not a face he ever would have expected to see here.

”Mr. Liang Shuren? ”

”Zhen Yan. Hello. ” He smiles… warmly… like its not at all strange theyve run into one another.

”Uh… you
e here to see Song Tao? ” Zhen Yan asks. Its the only plausible reason he can come up with for Mr. Liang Shurens appearance in Wang Jus, and even then, it doesn make much sense. The alcohol Zhen Yan has consumed through the night has left his thoughts feeling delayed and sluggish, and yet he suddenly feels strangely sober.

Mr. Liang Shuren shakes his head. ”No. Ive always heard good things about this place. ”

”Oh. ” Zhen Yan doesn know what to make of that. ”Thats… oh. Ok. ”

”Are you having a good time? ”

Zhen Yan feels weirdly unprepared for this conversation, but he nods, doing his best to string together words that will not give away that hes spent the evening doing shots with his boss. ”Yes. ” He darts his eyes behind Mr. Liang Shuren and around the hallway, unable to maintain eye contact with the man in front of him for longer than a second at a time. ”Its – its been good. ”

”Perhaps you can introduce me to the bars owner, ” Mr. Liang Shuren continues. ”I understand shes looking for investors. ” Zhen Yan is in no way sober enough for this conversation.

He nods, throwing in a hum he hopes sounds interested and moves to pass the other man. ”I better – ” But he trips. He could swear Mr. Liang Shurens foot appeared in his way, but his vision is too hazy to be sure. All he knows is that hes walking and then hes not, flailing arms in the air as he tumbles forward until suddenly his forward momentum is interrupted and he finds himself in Mr. Liang Shurens arms.

”You all right? ” Mr. Liang Shuren smiles, steading Zhen Yan as he holds him close.

Zhen Yan attempts to pull back, but Mr. Liang Shuren holds him tightly. ”Im – Im fine. Sorry. ”

And then Mr. Liang Shuren is reaching for Zhen Yans hair, smiling as he brushes it back into place with gentle fingers. ”There. Much better. ” Zhen Yan shivers uncomfortably, struggling until Mr. Liang Shuren releases his hold and Zhen Yan is able to stumble back a few steps.

”Um, thanks. ” Zhen Yan shuffles sideways until hes got a clear path to the rest of the bar. He nods awkwardly at Mr. Liang Shuren in departing. ”Ill see you. ”

Mr. Liang Shuren nods, looking far more relaxed and at ease than Zhen Yan feels. ”Sure. See you around Zhen Yan. ”

Zhen Yan can feel the other mans eyes on his back as he turns, and he doesn relax until hes enveloped by the crowd packing the bar. He couldn say what it is about Mr. Liang Shuren that makes him feel so ill at ease. He wonders what it is Sun Ning sees in him – if Sun Ning sees anything in him. He wonders why Mr. Liang Shuren seems so interested in Zhen Yan if there is any truth to the rumors about him and Sun Ning. Zhen Yan wonders if he even wants any of these answers.

By the time he makes it back to the bar, the shot glasses have been collected, and his spilled bowl of nuts tidied and set on a coaster. One of the small signs that read Reserved has been left on Zhen Yans bar stool. Song Tao is gone.

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