a loving kind of boy

23 Jul 2020
Part of MDZS Modern AU Collection

5 Times Nie Huaisang Comforts Jiang Cheng Through the Power of Cuddles, Heart-to-Hearts and Cute Animals, and the 1 Time it was the Other Way Around

Teen (13+)
Chapters: 7
Words: 20,189

a loving kind of boy

Chapter 3



 ( 16 )


Jiang Cheng sits on the concrete staircase by the entrance of Qinghe High, shaking off rainbow-colored confetti and glitter from his hair and clothes. For a moment, he pauses, wondering if this might be considered littering, but as he looks around, he sees that the other people who are leaving are pretty much doing the same, while those who are just arriving are looking pleasantly excited by the colorful strips of plastic and paper peppered across the usually pristine gray of the property.

The last time he was in Qinghe, it was for a funeral.

This time, he’s here for a party.

Well. His mother probably wouldn’t have allowed him to go if he used that word.

Jiang Cheng had told his parents that it’s a one-day Pride Month event at Qinghe High, showcasing works of students and clubs, all proceeds to be donated to nonprofits. Nie Huaisang invited him and Wei Ying, and of course the Jiang brothers were there to support their best friend.

Wei Ying still calls it a party. Fortunately out of Madame Yu’s earshot.

Maybe he’s right, though. The music booming from the speakers is loud bubblegum pop. Every now and then, there’s a rowdy noise of a crowd cheering over some spectacle or another. Not that different from the high school in Yunmeng. Qinghe might be known for the strong and rigid lines of its practical stone and concrete architectures, but teenagers will be teenagers.

Jiang Cheng’s phone vibrates in his pocket and he takes it out to read a message from Nie Huaisang asking where he is. He sends his reply and gets a rainbow emoji back.

He is trying to pull a particularly long strip of fuchsia pink crepe paper that somehow managed to get tangled so thoroughly in his hair bun when his friend sits beside him.

“Found you!” Nie Huaisang says cheerily, shooing Jiang Cheng’s hand away from his hair and tugging on the crepe paper himself. “Where’s Wei-xiong?”

“With girls he’s tricking into buying snacks for him.” Jiang Cheng says, bowing his head so Nie Huaisang has better access to his hair. “There were like, five of them. I can’t believe they all fell for the same scam at the same time.”

“Good ol’ Wei-xiong.” Huaisang laughs as he successfully extracts the offending confetti and throws it over his shoulder. “How about you? No girls?”

Jiang Cheng sits up straight and scoffs. “I can buy my own food.”

“Of course you can.” Huaisang smiles, then tilts his head to study his friend. “Why are you here outside, Jiang-xiong? Is inside… um… too much? I’m sorry, I know this isn’t really your kind of event-”

“No, it’s fine.” Jiang Cheng quickly shakes his head. “It just got a bit loud and I’ve already gone around all the stalls, so I thought I’d stay out for a bit. Didn’t wanna add to the crowding. I’ve given out all the fliers by the way. I was gonna tell you, but you looked busy.”

“Ah, I knew you’d be able to give them all out!” Huaisang says happily. “All my clubmates said so too! They said, ‘Make your two friends hand out fliers, Nie-xiong, no one can say no to those faces’ . And they were right!”

Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes. “Uh-huh, I’m pretty sure they just took mine because I scared them. But sure, that’s how Wei Wuxian got to meet and greet all those girls. And boys.”

“Nooo, shhhh, you’re very handsome too.” Huaisang coos, lips quirking into a smile as he nudges the other with his shoulder.

Jiang Cheng nudges him back, ducking to hide pink cheeks. “Shut up.”

“Ah, but no really, thank you for giving away our fliers for us, A-Cheng. I know you didn’t sign up for that.” Huaisang says, not teasing this time, leaning into his side. “…and for letting us paint your face too. Is it still itchy?”

Jiang Cheng hasn’t looked in the mirror all day. He’s not sure what he really looks like right now, but he knows he has a rainbow on his cheek, which is hopefully still intact, and in addition to the rainbow scarf someone tied on his arm at one point, he’s pretty sure there’s still quite a bit of glitter on him. It’s far from his usual look.

“Nah, I got used to it.”

It’s fine, he thinks. It’s all part of the spirit of the thing.

Somewhere in the campus, he knows Wei Wuxian is shamelessly gorging himself on snacks while wearing big rainbow sunglasses and the bi flag like a cape.

Nie Huaisang isn’t exempt from the colors, of course. He’s got a tiny rainbow hairclip on his bangs, a rainbow patch on his sleeve, and a matching flag tied on his belt loop. His usual fan is strapped to a holster on his thigh. Jiang Cheng only ever sees him with that on the very rare occasion that Huaisang actually joins a night hunt, but he can see why it’s necessary today, a day he spends with both his hands busy greeting people, drawing quick doodles and selling crafts.

He’s also got glittery angel wings, because his club had broken out random old props and costumes from storage for the sake of festivities, and his clubmates put the wings on him because they all think he’s a perfect little angel.

No, really, they said that.

Jiang Cheng has explicitly expressed offense at their judgment.

Nie Huaisang isn’t an angel. He is not.

Nie Huaisang is a little devil, and that’s part of why Jiang Cheng likes him so much.

Case in point: someone just approached them holding two tall cups of milk tea and offered them to Young Master Jiang and Second Young Master Nie and said he hopes they enjoy it, then left.

“Here I thought I spoiled you enough.” Jiang Cheng says, squinting at the rainbow-colored boba pearls in his drink. “But going back to your home sect made you worse.”

Nie Huaisang sips loudly before saying, “Ah, I don’t know what you mean, Jiang-xiong…”

“Do you always make your junior disciples buy bubble tea for you?”

“It’s just this once, I promise!” Huaisang laughs. “Really, Jiang-xiong, I swear. I do buy my own bubble tea! I have to! Da-ge refuses to buy because he says it’s too much sugar. Baba always buys when I ask, but then we both have to hide from Da-ge afterwards.”

“Your da-ge is right.”

“Don’t take his side! Aw, I miss the days when you bought them for me!”

Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes. “Well, I don’t miss it.” he says, making Nie Huaisang whine and call him a liar.

It’s been an adjustment when Nie Huaisang finally moved back to Qinghe after they graduated from middle school.

It’s been long overdue, really. Everyone had thought that Nie Huaisang would move back to Qinghe right away when his mother died when they were thirteen. But for some reason, it was Nie Mingjue who moved to Yunmeng instead to keep his brother company for the rest of his middle school years. But after that, the brothers finally moved back to Qinghe with their father. The Nie Corp. branch in Yunmeng still thrived, of course, but for Jiang Cheng, it wasn’t the same, without Nie Lihua or Nie Huaisang’s presence there.

“You do.” Nie Huaisaing insists. “You do miss me, that’s why you came all the way here.”

Jiang Cheng doesn’t budge. “I see you every other week, and you fill my inbox with memes every hour. There’s nothing to miss.”

Every other Saturday, his best friend takes the three-hour bus ride to Yunmeng to join Jiang Cheng in their volunteer work at the animal shelter. Nie Huaisaing claimed that he didn’t want to break what had become a habit. The staff in the shelter has known them since they were ten-year-olds helping feed the smaller animals and now they’re teens and regular volunteers who can take on almost any job that needs to be done for the day. Nie Huaisang always says that the trips are worth it and he’s glad to help.

“Okay, then.” Huaisang huffs. “Be mean while I give you your present. Then feel bad about being mean because it’s an amazing present.”

Jiang Cheng raises an eyebrow. “What present?”

Nie Huaisang reaches into the pocket of his shorts, takes out a tiny envelope and hands it to his friend.

Jiang Cheng opens it and after peeking at what’s inside, tips it over to drop the tiny item in the palm of his hand. It’s an enamel pin. A pink lotus. He looks at Nie Huaisang. “What’s this for?”

Nie Huaisang shrugs. “No special reason. I walked around the other stalls. I saw it. I liked it. Reminded me of you. So I’m giving it to you.”

Jiang Cheng just stares at him, and after a bit, his confidence seems to falter.

“Do… Do you like it? Oh, maybe you don’t do pins. I can find another one-”

“No, I like it.” Jiang Cheng says, quickly closing his fingers over the pin before the other can take it back. “Thank you. It’s just… really pretty. I thought you’d wanna keep something like this for yourself.”

“Mm. Yeah, but I have enough pins already.” Huaisang hums, happy that his gift has been accepted. He bumps their knees against each other. “Hey, you said you went around the stalls. Did you buy anything?”

He notices when Jiang Cheng stills.

Of course he does.

“A-Cheng?” he asks, frowning slightly.

Jiang Cheng takes a few more moments, not meeting his eyes, just looking down at the little lotus pin on his hand, tilting it to see the gold outlines shine.

“Yeah.” he says, finally. “Yeah, I bought… something.”

“Well… What is it?” Nie Huaisang asks, blinking. He couldn’t think of why his best friend suddenly looks so serious. He reaches up, plucking a tiny piece of confetti from the other’s hair and gently brushing his fingers through the dark strands afterward. “Are you okay?”

Jiang Cheng takes another moment – just a short one, to glance at the other teen. His eyes catch on the pink-blue-and-white flag painted on Huaisang’s cheek, on the rainbow clip on his bangs that Jiang Cheng is pretty sure hadn’t been there when he arrived. He takes in the fluffy angel wings that would look absolutely ridiculous on someone else. Nie Huaisang made it work through the simple art of not giving a damn and just going with what feels right.

Jiang Cheng looks at the glitter and confetti on his feet and around him, and thinks of the tiny item in his pocket.

Screw it. He might as well.

He takes it out and wordlessly hands it to Nie Huaisang.

Nie Huaisang looks down at the object in his hand. It’s a button pin, small, with a pride flag on it. Jiang Cheng watches as his friend’s eye tallies the colors, from top to bottom – black, gray, white, purple. He sees it when the recognition sinks in.

“Oh.” Nie Huaisang says in a whisper. “A-Cheng, this is… for you?”

Jiang Cheng looks determinedly down at the ground as he nods. “Yeah.”

“Oh.” Nie Huaisang says again, this time nodding slowly, looking at his friend. “I see.”

It’s suddenly gone so quiet between them that all they could hear was the bubblegum pop music from the campus speakers. Some song Jiang Cheng hears everywhere these days. He recognizes it, but right now it’s like hearing white noise.

“Say something.” Jiang Cheng doesn’t mean to snap, but he does.

Nie Huaisang jumps slightly, and Jiang Cheng hates himself for making him react like that. Then shakily, Huaisang says, “A-Cheng…”

Jiang Cheng is worried he’s probably already crushed the lotus pin on his hand. “W-What?”

“Here.” Huaisang says, handing the pin back. It gets Jiang Cheng to loosen his grip, and to finally stop holding his breath. “Thank you for telling me.”

“Yeah.” is all Jiang Cheng manages to say, looking at the two pins in his hands. He still hasn’t looked at Nie Huaisang. “That’s… That’s it?”

“Mm-hm. Unless there’s anything else?” Nie Huaisang asks, sounding very calm.

It just sends Jiang Cheng into a slight panic. “No, that’s it.”

He knows he probably looks angry – Wei Ying always tells him he looks angry all the time except when he’s asleep – but he couldn’t help it. He hopes Nie Huaisang sees through him. He always does.

“You’re not gonna freak out or anything, right?”

Huaisang laughs lightly. “Why would I freak out? It’s just you.”

Jiang Cheng takes a deep breath, and he feels Huaisang’s familiar weight lean against his side, soft hands – still soft, even after years of painting and drawing and training – latching on to his arm.

Soft as a whisper, Nie Huaisang asks, “Is this still okay?”

Jiang Cheng thinks he doesn’t have to ask. But he’s glad he did. He’s grateful he did. It gives him a chance to answer. “Yeah. It’s okay.”

It’s Huaisang. It’s always okay. Maybe it will always be okay.

He feels Huaisang’s cheek against his shoulder, Huaisang’s hair tickling the side of his neck. It’s familiar. Comforting.

“Where are you gonna put them?” Huaisang asks, looking at the pins.

“I don’t know. My bag?”

“Your everyday bag?”

“Yeah. Think it’ll be okay?”

“It better be.” Huaisang says, and Jiang Cheng can see his pout even without looking. “I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise.”

Jiang Cheng laughs. “You? Fight?”

“A-Cheng, I know I look too cute to be one, but I’m a trained cultivator.”

“Are you?” he teases. “Why do I never see you on night hunts, then?”

“Because they’re night hunts? At night?” Huaisang says, as if that is the most logical thing. “And I need my beauty sleep?”

“So I assume you’ll fight for me during the day, then.”

“Yes, I totally would.” Then Huaisang sniffs.

Jiang Cheng stiffens. “A-Sang. Are you crying?”

“No.” – another sniff. “A bit.” He admits, and then sniffs again. “I love you so much.”

Jiang Cheng finally turns to look at him. “What.”

“I just felt like saying it.” Huaisang mumbles into his shoulder, clinging tighter. “I don’t think you hear it enough. Also, it’s standard procedure when someone comes out to you. You tell them you love them.”

“Is it?”


Jiang Cheng tries to move his arm, but it’s in Nie Huaisang’s death grip. “Is the clinging a part of standard procedure too?”

“No, that’s just me! I’ll keep clinging until you feel loved and accepted-”



“Stop it-” he grunts, but the other teen just scoots closer. “This is embarrassing.”

“Nope. Can’t do it! This is my new goal in life!”

“Why are you like this-” Dammit, he always knew Nie Huaisang is stronger than he looks, but to use his Nie strength to cling like this? It’s just unfair. Suddenly he feels some sort of kinship with Nie Mingjue.

“I love you, A-Cheng.”

“I know! Stop saying it!”

“But you need to hear it-”

“I don’t!”

“Mm. You know you do. You’re just too A-Cheng to admit it.”

“What the hell does that mean-”

Jiang Cheng is too busy trying not to die of embarrassment (fine: and love, and acceptance) and Nie Huaisang is too busy clinging to him that neither of them notice when someone comes to stand in front of them.

Wei Wuxian lifts his rainbow sunglasses to blink at them. He sips very loudly from a very big soda cup and then asks, “What’s up? Why are we cuddling in broad daylight?”

Jiang Cheng quickly shoves the pins in his pocket. Nie Huaisang catches this and understands. Not yet, then. Not right now, at least. He respects that.

But, Nie Huaisang is a little devil, and he knows that’s part of why Jiang Cheng likes him so much.

So he says, “It’s Jiang Cheng Loving Hour, Wei-xiong. We are hugging A-Cheng and telling him we love him in all his grumpy glory, resting bitch face included. If he has a meltdown, that’s just part of the experience.”

As for Wei Wuxian, he is also a little devil, and one who doesn’t need a valid reason for more than half the shit he tries to do –

“Ah…” Wei Wuxian nods solemnly. “I see, I see. I understand, Nie-xiong.”

– and that’s why Huaisang likes him so much.

Wei Wuxian abandons his drink and pulls them both into his arms, while Nie Huaisang laughs and Jiang Cheng screams that they’ll pay for this, they really will . Unfortunately for him, both Nie Huaisang and Wei Wuxian are immune to such threats. The former just snuggles closer to his side, while the latter presses a kiss to his head and tells Jiang Cheng that he is his favorite shidi.

Jiang Cheng vows to kill them both with his bare hands, then he regrets saying that out loud because they just hugged him tighter.



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