Zhao Yun Lan kept on looking at Shen Wei’s neck, or to be more specific, the space where his collarbone meet. Like he was doing now, absentmindedly sucking on a lollipop, while staring at the mentioned area from across the office.
“Get a room,” said Da Qing as he jumps onto Zhao Yun Lan’s lap, “Also, pick up more dried fish.” And just to fuck with him, planted himself on his lap, softly kneading his pants.
“Get off,” said Zhao Yun Lan, hands trying to push the meat ball off his lap. The damn thing has got be at least 5 kgs now. Dieting is the future.
“Meowno,” Claws dig into his pants in warning. “Why are you even looking at his neck?” asks Da Qing, round eyes staring him and then at Shen Wei, “Have you been reading the vampire novels? I don't think the professor is into- MIAOOOOOOOW.” He was cut off by Zhao Yun Lan’s hand over his mouth.
“Shut up,” hissed Zhao Yun Lan.
When Zhao Yun Lan ripped a hole in the fabric of space and time to return Shen Wei and him to their reality he didn't really notice the absence. But during the following days in the hospital, the lack of the orange orb around Shen Wei’s neck was an itch that Zhao Yun Lan couldn't scratch.
It was strange, he didn't really pay it any attention when it was there. Didn't realise the significance until the orb rolled to his hand, broken in half and revealing the wrapper of a lollipop he hadn't put any importance to. It was a moment of impulse, and Shen Wei held on it for 10,000 years, had preserved it in amber and worn it around his neck.
Zhao Yun Lan hadn't known until it was too late.
“Here.” Said Hong-jie as she waltzed into his office and dropped a thick folder onto his desk. “I take payment in the form of alcohol. None of that cheap crap you drink. I want the good stuff.” Without waiting for a response she turned and left. Door clicking shut.
Zhao Yun Lan looked at her back in bemusement and then down at the folder. Curious, he flipped open the folder. Pages of glossy printed pendants and necklaces; some reminiscent of Shen Wei’s old necklace others so over the top that he can't ever imagine Shen Wei wearing. And step by step instruction on how to make them.
Zhao Yun Lan considered every one.
It didn't matter at first, not with the euphoria of Shen Wei awake and alive and with him. He was aware of it, but it didn't plague him. Then he saw Shen Wei’s hands wandering towards his neck without conscious thought, and the second of panic as he found nothing there.
It doesn't happen often, but it does. And Zhao Yun Lan is reminded of his absence in Shen Wei’s life.
Xiao Guo had stumbled his way next to him during lunch. Still so nervous and unsure even though he had help run SID for almost a year in Zhao Yun Lan’s absence.
“Um, chief. Chu wanted me to give you this. It is really strong!” Xiao Guo thrusted a small box into Zhao Yun Lan’s hands and scurried away.
He opened the box once he was back in his office. Inside were a tangle of shiny black wire, perfect for controlling puppets.
Once he noticed Shen Wei reaching for the absent necklace it became an obsession of sort. He begun to stare at Shen Wei’s collar whenever his mind wandered.
The truth was that it wasn't the lack of the necklace that kept him occupied, not really. It was that Shen Wei had carried a piece of Zhao Yun Lan, the only thing he had of him for 10,000 years, and Zhao Yun Lan had not known.
“I need you to create something that looks like amber but is about 100 times stronger.”
“What?” Lin Jing looked at Zhao Yun Lan as if he had lost his mind.
“If you can make it, I won't deduct your bonus for the rest of this year.”
Shen Wei had loved him for 10,000 years, and Zhao Yun Lan missed it. His soul had been there with Shen Wei later, through the net flux lines of force, but it didn't matter to Shen Wei. How could it when he couldn't physically be there for Shen Wei.
Zhao Yun Lan didn't realise he was in love with Shen Wei till it was too late. A fucking wrapper preserved in broken amber the answer to a question he didn't even know he was asking.
“Will you let me give you a new necklace?” Zhao Yun Lan asked one quiet afternoon.
“What?” Shen Wei looked up from his book, slightly bewildered.
“Necklace,” answered Zhao Yun Lan, moving from his side of the couch to Shen Wei’s side. Moving until he was sprawled over Shen Wei, right hand just beneath his neck, “A new one, to replace the one you lost.”
There was a moment of silence as Shen Wei stared at him. “I didn't think you knew,” said Shen Wei softly.
“I didn't. Not till you were gone,” his hand rubbed up and down Shen Wei’s chest. “Half of the time I think I imagined the whole thing. But then I see you reaching for it.” His hand hovers over Shen Wei’s collar, “And then I get angry for not figuring it out earlier.”
He lays his head against Shen Wei’s shoulder, “Xiao Wei, will you let me give you a necklace?”
The next morning Professor Shen arrived to class in a shirt that had the collar open. His neck was exposed, the student body might have almost expired from the show of skin.
Winking in between his open collar was an orb of bright amber wrapped in black metal wire.
You bet your arse Shen Wei took about a million photos of the new necklace till he shot the perfect one: beautiful composition, amazingly lit, and filtered to show the best contrast of colour. He then posted it to his Weibo with no comment.
What took Shen Wei a few years to spot is the miniscule layer bisecting the orb. Zhao Yun Lan is a romantic loser, and the wrapper is the same one that Shen Wei held on for 10,000 years.