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Love don't cost a thing

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One: Juncheng has no understanding of how produce might go bad (No one buys two months worth of fresh produce in advance)

 

“Promise you won’t work late at your part-time job tomorrow.” Lin Xun rolls his eyes as he opens his fridge. “Remember, we have a date.”

 

“Yes, yes, I remember.” Lin Xun sighs as he scans through his essentially empty fridge. Grocery shopping had not been high on his list this week. “Aww… Tea eggs for dinner again tonight…”

 

“What? Is that all you have in your fridge? Again?!” The sound of Juncheng pacing is obvious through the phone speakers and Lin Xun just knows that his handsome face has a wrinkle between its brows. “Are you broke again? If you’d just let me-”

 

“Juncheng, it’s fine. I just need to go grocery shopping. I’ve got the money,” Lin Xun says immediately. “Don’t you dare do something stupid.”

 

“I graduated top in my class. I have an MBA.”

 

“I asked you to make tea last time you came to my house and you panicked because I have tea bags and you’d never seen them before.”

 

“If you’d have just let me get that espresso machine and that loose leaf tea assortment-”

 

“Jun. Cheng.” It’s not often that Lin Xun manages to chastise Juncheng, the older man too smug and confident to let Lin Xun’s words penetrate. This time is a rarity and Lin Xun savors it. “I’ll be fine. Go do whatever it is you business types do. I’ll be on time tomorrow.”

 

“I could send a driver to pick you up?”

 

“My motorcycle works fine! See you there. Good night, Ah Cheng.”

 

Juncheng wishes Lin Xun good night with the petulance of a denied child and Lin Xun decides to enjoy his dinner of tea eggs and bao before bed. 

 

The next morning, Lin Xun wakes up to a loud knock at his door. Bleary and groggy, Lin Xun watches as several boxes worth of groceries and fresh produce are carted into his kitchen by men in delivery uniforms. It’s not until after his first cup of tea that Lin Xun realizes what just happened. 

 

“When did I order groceries?” Lin Xun looks through the delivery finding many favorites scattered among staples of any kitchen. It was a fine selection, even if Lin Xun wouldn’t normally buy most of the items. The quantity was the more troubling part. 

 

“This is two months worth of groceries.” Lin Xun blinks and looks at his fridge and cupboards. Even though they’re mostly empty, not even a quarter of the ordered goods could fit at any one moment. “Why would I order two months worth of groceries? Since when do I even order groceries?”

 

Eyes widening, Lin Xun scrambles for the order invoice he spotted in one of the bags. The price makes Lin Xun want to faint, but the name on the billing address makes him furious. 

 

“YAH I TOLD HIM NOT TO DO THIS!”

 

Whistling to himself, Juncheng peeks around the corner later that morning to see how his gift was received. Juncheng had expected to find nothing out of the ordinary. He did not expect to see all of Lin Xun’s neighbors lining up as if Lin Xun had opened a food bank in his house.

 

None of them moved as Juncheng stormed up and once Lin Xun had spotted him, Juncheng found himself only managing to stand outside and frown as the bulk of the groceries were taken away. Lin Xun hadn’t even opened his mouth before Juncheng started to defend himself.

 

“It was so much more cost effective to order in bulk-”

 

“For a restaurant! I don’t eat that much, Juncheng! All the food would go bad before I could cook it all!” Grievances finally vented, Lin Xun sighs and Juncheng only raises an eyebrow. “Thank you. I know you wanted to do something nice. But two months worth of groceries is too much.”

 

“So next time… One month?”

 

“One week.”

 

“Two weeks.”

 

“Five days.”

 

“...One week?”

 

“One week.”

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Two: All Yuans are ridiculously uncompromising (Especially when it comes to the businesses their family owns)

 

“Hello and welcome to the Regent Kaohsiung.” The concierge behind the hotel counter bows as Juncheng walks up. “May I have the name the reservation is under?”

 

How can you not know my name . Unbelievable.

 

The concierge blinks. “Sir… Just your name please.”

 

Disgraceful. You call yourself an employee of this hotel my family owns? And you don’t know me? Or even speak Korean?

 

“Sir… There’s no need to be difficult…”

 

After several minutes of angry Korean and pleading Chinese, Lin Xun strolls up with their day bags in tow and watches the back and forth between Juncheng and the concierge. 

 

“What seems to be the problem?” Lin Xun tugs on Juncheng’s jacket sleeve. “You’re not being difficult with the hotel, are you?”

 

They’re being difficult with me. They should know who I am!

 

Lin Xun scratches his head. “This is a Yuan hotel?”

 

Father bought it a while back .”

 

“Sir… Do you understand him? Can you just ask him for his name? Please, sir, and then I’ll get you set up with your rooms right away.”

 

Unacceptable!

 

“Don’t mind him, he’s just being dramatic,” Lin Xun says to the concierge. “ Juncheng! Just tell the man who you are! Stop being so stubborn!

 

Juncheng almost pouts. “ It’s not respectable! The Yuan family has standards for how our businesses are run!

 

Fuck respectable. I want to take a nap. Now get our room!

 

By the time the two were done arguing, the manager of the hotel had been brought out to help mediate. 

 

“Is there a problem sirs?”

 

Lin Xun shoves Juncheng forward. “Nope.”

 

I’m here to check in for my room.

 

The manager blinks as he takes in Juncheng’s face. “M-Mr. Yuan! Of course, of course! Please excuse this concierge, he’s new on the job and hasn’t been trained properly.”

 

Is that so?

 

“Please allow me to finish the check-in process for you.”

 

A few minutes later, Juncheng and Lin Xun walk off for the elevators.

 

“Did you really understand what he was saying, sir?” the concierge asks.

 

“Of course not. How many people in Taiwan speak Korean? Just memorize the face and get the gist of whatever he wants.”

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Three: You can’t buy your way out of (most) fights with your boyfriend (All three Yuans have tried)

 

Yan Yuerong walks into the living room, fully expecting to see Yuan Junping with his books spread out and ready for their homework session. He does not expect to find Yuan Juncheng stretched out across the couch as if Yuerong’s home is his own, while Junping consoles his older brother.

 

“Junping, what happened to Cheng-ge?” Yuerong tosses his bag to the side and runs over. “Is he sick like last time with the cake?”

 

“No. It’s worse,” Junping says seriously. “Gege is having a fight with Lin Xuezhang.” 

 

“Aigooooo,” Juncheng wails and both younger boys jump back in fright. “I promised I’d never fight with him over anything and look where it’s gotten me!”

 

“But you’re fighting him right now, aren’t you?” Yuerong asks. “What even prompted this?”

 

“Lin Xun-ah!” Junchang wails. “Why won’t you accept my apology!”

 

“He really won’t accept? How odd! Lin Xuezhang seems to be very amicable to that sort of thing.” Yuerong bites his thumbnail and Junping smacks his hand.

 

“He won’t accept gege’s apology gift .”

 

Yuerong blinks. “Cheng-ge didn’t.”

 

“He did.”

 

“Was it as bad as the time you bought me that new jacket and I refused?”

 

“Worse.”

 

“Was it as bad as the time Dao-ge bought Shi-ge a car?”

 

“Worse than that.”

 

“What could be worse?!”

 

Junping sighs while Juncheng whines into a couch cushion. “Gege bought Lin Xuezhang an entire apartment building.”

 

Yuerong blinks. “How did… you do that Cheng-ge?”

 

“He was complaining about living in that old house of his!” Juncheng sits up, eyes suddenly alight with passion. “And our fight was about me telling him to just move in with me. Lin Xun still wants some freedom.” Juncheng frowns. “And after thinking about it, I thought he was right. Perhaps moving in was too fast! So of course, I’d have to get him a good place to live instead as an apology!” 

 

“Of course,” Yuerong says cautiously.

 

“And why should I leave him beholden to a potentially bad landlord?! My Lin Xun-ah deserves the very best!”

 

“Naturally,” Junping says while nodding sagely.

 

“So I found one of the best apartment buildings near your college.”

 

“Makes sense.” Yuerong looks at Junping, knowing where this train of thought is going.

 

“And then the landlord was very unreasonable! So the only way to get around that would be to buy the building and get a new landlord!”

 

“Uh…” Junping bites his lip. “That might have been…”

 

“And then naturally, why NOT give the building to Lin Xun?”

 

“Because he probably doesn’t want the responsibility?” Yuerong offered.

 

“What? Who says he has to actually have any responsibility. I’ll just hire people to manage everything!”

 

“So why give him the building? Why not just let him live there rent free?” Junping asks.

 

Juncheng blinks. “But why just let him live rent free when he can collect rent from all the tenants?”

 

“Lin Xuezhang isn’t that kind of person, Cheng-ge…” Yuerong trails off, sneaking his phone out to tap out a quick text. “But maybe you really should apologize properly first before uh… Buying an apology.”

 

“Yan Yuerong,” Juncheng starts, “You have a promising future. Don’t let Xiao Ping lead you astray.”

 

“Juncheng!” Junping stands up indignantly. “I’ve been sitting here tending to you and even calling you gege but you talk about me like this?!”

 

Juncheng raises an eyebrow. “You didn’t give me any good advice.” Juncheng stands up and straightens out his clothes. “I’ll leave first. You two get back to your study date.”

 

As Juncheng leaves, Junping kicks the couch. “At least you accepted MY apology gift in the end,” Junping says with a pout.

 

“It was a limited edition jacket I’d been wanting, of course I was going to accept!”

------

Four: New is not always better (The attachment of memory shines better than any new object)

 

Juncheng quietly walks into Lin Xun’s house. Except for the sound of Lin Xun’s breathing, nothing else makes a noise. Juncheng walks around and sits down on the floor by the couch, taking in Lin Xun’s sleeping face.

 

“I know you don’t need it,” Juncheng says softly. “You don’t want all this money, all this burden. But I want to give you the best there is.” Juncheng lays a gentle hand on Lin Xun’s cheek. “Isn’t this how someone cares for the one they love?”

 

“You could care for me properly by letting me sleep,” Lin Xun grumbles, but Lin Xun moves anyway to make room for Juncheng as he climbs over and around to hug Lin Xun against his body. 

 

“I’m sorry,” Juncheng says earnestly. “I shouldn’t have spent that much money.”

 

“Of course you shouldn’t have spent that much money,” Lin Xun chides as he strokes the back of Juncheng’s hands. “I don’t need something so fancy.”

 

“But you said you didn’t like living here anymore.”

 

“I said I didn’t like living here alone anymore.” Lin Xun smacks Juncheng’s hands. “But there’s a reason why I stay.”

 

“Why?”

 

Lin Xun reaches out to trace the edge of the coffee table. “I’ve lived here for a long time with mom,” Lin Xun says with a sigh. “So of course it’s hard to give it up. There are a lot of good memories here.” Lin Xun rolls over to stare at the ceiling and Juncheng struggles to accommodate. “This is where we moved before mom was diagnosed. 

 

“This is where she was last able to walk on her own. This is where mom last smiled and laughed. This is where she lay her head, feeling the end of her days. 

 

“This is where she knew she had bet her life, and won.”

 

“Your mom was a very strong woman,” Juncheng says as he rests his chin on Lin Xun’s shoulder. “If you really want to stay here to remember her, I won’t fight you about it.”

 

“Good.” Lin Xun rotates one more time to face Juncheng. “Because I think now… It might be time to let her go.”

 

“But you just said-”

 

“I know what I said.” Lin Xun shifts to tuck his head under Juncheng’s and Juncheng pulls him closer, offering the comfort Lin Xun is asking for. “But it’s time to move on. I can remember mom wherever I end up.”

 

“So do you still want-”

 

“NO.”

 

Juncheng hesitates for a moment. “Do you… want to... move in with me fully?”

 

“Yeah…” Juncheng feels Lin Xun’s breath against his collarbone more acutely than ever. “Let’s make new memories together.”

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Five: It’s not what Juncheng can buy that makes Lin Xun happy (It’s what Juncheng gives without spending a cent)

 

Lin Xun wakes up slowly. Usually he’s the first one up to make breakfast, but today, he finds himself alone amidst cooling sheets. Lin Xun gets up, not bothering to dress properly, only pulling his favorite cardigan around him and keeping his decency with his boxers.

 

Despite his previous threats the last time they had dinner with the rest of the Yuan brothers and their boyfriends, Juncheng has already monopolized the kitchen. The smell of eggs and toast is tempting amidst the smell of tea and coffee. Lin Xun drapes himself over Juncheng’s body and instead of stiffening as he had used to, Juncheng relaxes.

 

“Good morning,” Juncheng says before offering Lin Xun a mug. “Jasmine tea, just how you like it.” 

 

Lin Xun inhales heavily before taking a sip. “What happened? I thought you said I was supposed to make all the meals.”

 

“Well, we’re living together properly now. And you said you wanted to make memories together.” Juncheng shuts off the stove and begins to plate breakfast. “So why should I let you take so much burden on your own? Such things are supposed to be shared.”

 

Lin Xun bites his lip. “Are you worried I’ll change my mind if you don’t help with the chores?”

 

“If you would just let me hire someone-”

 

“This condo is small. Why would we need a servant?”

 

“My thoughts exactly?”

 

Lin Xun kisses Juncheng’s cheek. “Correct. Is breakfast ready?”

 

“Of course. I timed it perfectly.” Juncheng picks up the plates and Lin Xun follows. The table is already set and the eggs are fried to Lin Xun’s preference, the toast just the right level of browned with a sparing, but even, spread of butter and jam. “Eat up! You have a few classes today right? I’ll take you out for lunch after. You said you wanted to try that new noodle place near your campus? Bring Junping and Yuerong too.”

 

Lin Xun smiles softly. “Then I guess you’ve finally learned, hm?”

 

Juncheng looks up, halfway to biting his toast. “Learned what?”

 

Lin Xun sighs. “Never mind. Just eat.”