A small hush falls over the room at the sight of the figure silhouetted in the doorway. Lan Zhan slowly steps forward, aware that all eyes on the room not fixed on the figure in the door are now turned towards him.
“It’s him,” someone whispers in the crowd. “The Yiling Patriarch.”
“Who would invite the Yiling Patriarch to a party at the Lans’?” someone else wonders.
Lan Zhan steps before the figure, extends a hand.
“Wei Ying,” he says, careful not to let his overwhelming relief and excitement show. Wei Ying moves into the light of the ballroom, his handsome face aglow under the light of the chandelier. Lan Zhan’s breath is immediately stolen by the daring red dress the other man is wearing, slinky and sexy against his hips.
(Not that Lan Zhan was focused on his hips, of course.)
“I almost didn’t come,” Wei Ying admits, even as he takes Lan Zhan’s hand. “But then I realised… I couldn’t stay away. Not from you.”
Lan Zhan’s fingers close against his. “Dance with me,” he replies.
The music strums one lingering refrain. A tango. Wei Ying’s eyes sparkle. His heels clack against the marble floor as he steps in close to Lan Zhan, pressing his body close, alluring.
Lan Zhan places his hand on the small of Wei Ying’s back and realises, with a jolt, that Wei Ying’s dress is backless. And there is nothing underneath.
Wei Ying winks at him, as the song begins in earnest and they start to move. Lan Zhan leads him, but it’s clear Wei Ying is the master of the dance, the scarlet skirts of his dress flying up with each flick of his heel.
The room is silent, stunned. Lan Zhan is dimly cognisant of the vein twitching on his uncle’s forehead, of the shock painted across his brother’s face. He does not care, especially as Wei Ying leans his head against his shoulder. Wei Ying smells of cigarette smoke and azaleas. Lan Zhan drinks him in like a fine wine.
Wei Ying hooks a leg around him, leaning in; Lan Zhan leans with him, unable to tear his gaze from Wei Ying’s. A fire flickers in Wei Ying’s eyes, reflecting the sparks off the chandelier in the room. The chiffon ties of his dress tickle against the back of Lan Zhan’s hand.
As with all the other dances they’ve shared in the privacy of Wei Ying’s studio, this one is natural, intimate, a conversation. Wei Ying’s body is a language he is fluent in, translating easily into their smooth steps across the ballroom. He never falters, he never stumbles — Wei Ying reacts to him almost instinctively, covering any mistakes in his steps with assured grace.
They’ve come so far from the first faltering dances just at the start of the summer. Lan Zhan never wants this season to end. He barely wants this dance to end, but as the last tremors of the strings begin to ring, he dips Wei Ying down, his lips barely breaths away from Wei Ying’s faintly-shimmering skin.
Wei Ying’s breathing is ragged when he brings him out of the dip to polite applause from the room. It only hitches further, as Lan Zhan presses a kiss to the back of his hand.
“Meet me later,” he whispers, a promise of fire and want. “Your studio.”
“I’ll be there,” agrees Wei Ying, his eyes sparkling.
A shiver runs down Lan Zhan’s spine in response.