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Something Sacred We Found

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When Shen Wei walked into the SID, Da Qing was lazing in his cat form near the door in the patch of sunlight that he'd claimed as soon as the team had moved in to the house they called headquarters these days. Midway up the multi-level structure he'd installed in the spot, he was on eye-level with Shen Wei. "He's out back," he said without waiting to be asked. Out back meant Zhao Yunlan was in the garden, probably hiding from paperwork. Honestly, if Shen Wei hadn't known better, he'd suspect Zhao Yunlan was somehow part cat Yashou himself.

Outside, Zhao Yunlan was indeed lounging in a patch of sunlight the same as Da Qing was inside. This patch was in the garden bower — a wall of hedges situated around a couple of medium sized trees. Shen Wei stopped just outside the break in the hedges that served as a passageway into the space and watched for a moment. Despite his time in the lantern, Zhao Yunlan was, effectively, unchanged. Well, perhaps there were changes on a cellular level, and they didn't know what time would bring, but he was still very much Zhao Yunlan. That was remarkable enough in and of itself in Shen Wei's opinion. Only Zhao Yunlan, encased in fire and pain, would think of a better way and then make it happen. Later, after everything, he'd said he realized what the lantern needed was bright, unrelenting karma, not the complicated scraps of his own existence, the selflessness of his sacrifice serving as a stand in. (Shen Wei disagreed with Zhao Yunlan's self-assessment of his character, but that was irrelevant to the results.)

On a guess, he had forged a bridge of void and starlight to create a link with Guo Changcheng, which had been a successful gambit: It turned out Xiao Guo's karma was so generously overpowered, he could quite literally light an entire world with the excess and be none the worse for the wear. Now Xiao Guo served as remote lantern fuel and though his eyes flared from time to time — the flame made visible — he otherwise went about his life with no particular effects.

The only thing more absurd than Zhao Yunlan effecting his own rescue from within the Guardian Lantern was the way he'd used the last scrap of power and his indomitable will to rearrange the cosmos and pull Shen Wei's atoms, his very self, back out of so much stardust. Shen Wei's base power as a Dixingian was learning, but he had never known anything so extraordinary as Zhao Yunlan's leaps of ostensibly human intuition.

Shen Wei breached the hedge and Zhao Yunlan's eyes opened.

"Shen Wei!" he exclaimed, as if Shen Wei appearing when he said he would was a complete surprise. "The tailor has turned you loose! Come sit with me and enjoy the sunshine." Then, being Zhao Yunlan, he smirked, spread his legs, and patted the ground between them. "There is a small risk of," he wiggled his eyebrows, "grass stains."

Shen Wei hesitated. There was plenty of room to sit next to him. On the other hand, it was fun to surprise him now and then. Thus decided, Shen Wei stepped in between Zhao Yunlan's knees and folded down to face him, knees bent over top of his thighs, and with shoes to either side of his hips. Zhao Yunlan's eyes went wide and Shen Wei smiled.

Zhao Yunlan's genuine startlement didn't last long, though, and he rallied, his smirk returning. "Professor Shen! I'm shocked! Was the visit to the tailor so trying you feel the need to act out? If so, I can help you with that." He started a visual examination of Shen Wei that looked distinctly like he was mentally stripping Shen Wei's clothes off, or just imagining what they could do in that position were they not effectively still in public.

Unfortunately, that meant Shen Wei was now imagining what Zhao Yunlan was imagining and he could feel a blush start tingling in the tops of his cheekbones. "The visit to the tailor was fine," he answered, hoping to deflect his own thoughts. "I've ordered two new suits."

Saving himself the heat of Zhao Yunlan's gaze, Shen Wei dropped his eyes down, but was immediately confronted with Zhao Yunlan's mouth, which didn't help. He dropped his eyes further, but that just brought him to the strong column of Zhao Yunlan's throat, nicely framed by collar of his jacket. Shen Wei huffed. There really was nothing decent about Zhao Yunlan, even without a lollipop.

He'd gone for the relatively safe move of intently studying the rise and fall of Zhao Yunlan's chest (very soothing, he'd spent many nights watching Zhao Yunlan breathe) and was therefore caught by surprise when Zhao Yunlan's hand suddenly slid around his right ankle. He jerked his eyes back up just as that hand traced around the sharp jut of bone, fingers teasing and stroking.

"Will you still be scandalizing your superiors by showing so much ankle?" Zhao Yunlan asked, looking utterly delighted by whatever he was seeing on Shen Wei's face. His fingers wandered further, tracing a meandering path around the tops of his shoes and clear up to under the edge of his pants hem. The position Shen Wei was sitting in had pulled them up even further, so there was a fair amount of skin to work with.

In hindsight, this was a predictable series of events, but that wasn't helping Shen Wei at the moment and he was really starting to feel rather warm. As the caress continued, the tingling in his cheeks spread out and he had to clear his throat for the sudden catch in it. "I'll be sure to explain it's because I was corrupted by a disreputable policeman pretending to be a war hero," he quipped. Then he realized what he'd said and dropped his head, laughing. It was true, but he hadn't thought about it in a while.

The dedicated assault of Zhao Yunlan's fingers paused. "Wait, what? I'm fully willing to take credit for the excellent cut of your pants, but generally it's your backside I'm looking at and I distinctly remember a lack of dress suits during the war."

Shen Wei peeked back up and deemed it safe to make eye contact, at least for now. "You teased me once about my robes and armor," he explained, "about making sure I didn't show any of my ankles." He'd pulled up the hem of his robes in confusion only for "Kunlun" to pretend to swoon, declaring it all very scandalous. "Modern Haixing was very overwhelming for the first few years when I woke up. I was feeling rather rebellious when I had my first modern suit made and I insisted on a hem length that was a bit shorter than was in style at the time."

'Overwhelming' was, admittedly, putting it mildly. He'd been trying to learn everything all at once — from a modern student's education to simply how to live in a drastically changed society — while executing his new duties as Hei Pao Shi and finding his way through the maze of reorganized Dixing politics.

From the present, his little rebellion was a curious ouroboros. He'd first started doing it in memory of that moment, a defiance in the face of feeling unanchored in time with nothing familiar and everything he had to learn and was responsible for. With the weight of all Dixing on his shoulders, the glaive had been heavy in his hands even when he was struggling to write a student essay and make suitable characters with a scratchy modern pen. Now, however, he realized Zhao Yunlan's comment had as much to do with what he had been accustomed to Shen Wei wearing as anything else.

"Oh, baby," Zhao Yunlan crowed, his fingers resuming their stroking, "you're such a rebel. If only your old self could see you now!"

Shen Wei rolled his eyes. "My old self would be shocked and dismayed by the length of my hair and never make it to the length of my pants."

Zhao Yunlan's smile faded and he studied Shen Wei for a moment as if reading far more into that statement than Shen Wei's actual words. "No need to braid it to keep it out of your way now," he finally said, voice lighter than the expression in his eyes. "Easier to wash and comb."

Zhao Yunlan's gaze was uncomfortable and Shen Wei looked away. "No, and yes."

He'd been fascinated by Shen Wei's long hair once upon a time. Masquerading as Kunlun, he'd learned to weave in Shen Wei's braids that long summer he'd spent with the alliance. For that matter, he'd assumed the task of combing out Shen Wei's hair any chance he could. He'd even been patient at working the knots out on the rare occasions Shen Wei could take the time for the tedious chore of washing off the accumulated oil and dust. Shen Wei hadn't minded teaching him, hadn't minded letting Zhao Yunlan entertain himself. The extra hands had been welcome.

When Shen Wei had been a child, there had been plenty of people to do it for him: servants to wash and comb it, to wrap it up every morning so that it was out of his way for lessons and training. Then, for a while, there'd been hunger and aimless wandering and no one else but Ye Zun. Shen Wei had tried to keep Ye Zun's hair combed and somewhat clean, but Ye Zun's impatience meant that his help with Shen Wei's hair just led to a lot of yanking and frustration. So Shen Wei had tried to do it himself, but it was more difficult to deal with his own where he couldn't see than it was with his brother's. In his inexperience, his own hair had knotted despite his efforts to tie it up, the strands coated with road dust, his scalp always itching with small insects. After that there had been war where Shen Wei’d had only himself. He'd learned to care for it and learned to weave the braids in, but as a task it had been… solitary. Before Kunlun. Before Zhao Yunlan.

Shen Wei watched Zhao Yunlan's left hand rise up to his own right hand and start tracing over the top of it just the same as he was Shen Wei's ankle. It was like an electric contact between the two and Shen Wei couldn't help the small shiver. "It was pretty entertaining catching you washing your hair that first time," Zhao Yunlan said, sounding for all the world like it was an idle reminiscence.

His eyes had shuttered but Shen Wei didn't trust the casual tone right after the sharp look earlier; he knew how Zhao Yunlan acted when he was on the hunt for something.

"I remember you barging into my quarters without a single thought to propriety. As usual."

"There were no doors, Xiao Wei. I could hardly knock on cloth." The hand on top of Shen Wei's and the one at his ankle both flattened out to lay still and warm against his skin.

Before Shen Wei could think of a response, Zhao Yunlan's phone trilled. He dug it out of a pocket and squinted at the screen. "Too lazy to walk outside, apparently."

"You have a new case?" Shen Wei asked.

"Yeah, a couple of unexplained disruptions with major injuries and weird damage at the scene."

Shen Wei thought about that for a moment. "Isn't that all the SID's cases?"

Zhao Yunlan grinned. "No, sometimes the weird thing is that there's no damage at the scene."

***

It was late and Zhao Yunlan was tired, but his pace on the walk home was quick. It had taken two days of frantic, round the clock work and the whole of SID sleeping in the office when they slept at all, but they'd finally cornered the suspect late that afternoon. The Dixingian's intent hadn't been malicious, and most of the injuries had actually been secondary to the structural damage he was causing, but he'd been hell bent on hiding his newly emerged, uncontrolled power. Between the power outages the destruction had caused and the city-wide general chaos, it had taken them time to track him down.

Afterward, the paperwork had been more tedious than usual with so much of the city affected and wanting answers. Normally Zhao Yunlan would have foisted the start of those chores off on the minions, going home to dinner with Shen Wei instead, but this time he'd stayed. Mostly for his own well-deserved punishment. Not because he blamed himself for Shen Wei getting hurt; that had been outside his control. It had been outside anyone's control: up to that point, the effects of the Dixingian's power had been limited to stone and metal.

Unleashed in the vicinity of Shen Wei, however, it turned out to be the perfect power resonance to crumple Hei Pao Shi like tissue paper, to burst blood vessels and knock him unconscious. Wearing civilian clothes instead of his black mask and cloak, the blood running from his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth had quickly drenched his pale skin and white dress shirt in bright red. In that instant, Zhao Yunlan had been vividly reminded what it looked like to watch Shen Wei take a killing blow, to watch him fall to his knees coughing blood, to see a brief flash of dismay on his face before he lost consciousness.

No, he didn't blame himself for not being able to predict an unprecedented situation. What he blamed himself for was what came after, even if he wasn't entirely sure what it had been. He remembered yelling Shen Wei's name as everything fractured into flashbacks and desperation and movement. Then there was a perfect, crystal clear memory of feeling Shen Wei's chest rising and falling before his recollection dissolved again into flashes of blinding rage. When he'd come to, when he'd finally realized what was holding him back was the iron grip of Lao Chu's arms and not ropes around his chest, he'd found Da Qing crouched protectively over the suspect, staring Zhao Yunlan dead in the eye and refusing to move.

Zhao Yunlan had gotten a hold of himself, Shen Wei had regained consciousness, and the Dixingian had been terrified but unharmed. The past had faded back to where it belonged.

Back at SID headquarters, Shen Wei hadn't been able to see much yet, so Zhao Yunlan had carefully cleaned the blood from his face, ears, and neck. Shen Wei himself had been subdued as he'd stripped off the saturated dress shirt, his expression set in lines of guilt he forgot to hide in his temporary darkness. Zhao Yunlan knew they'd have to deal with that expression, but first Shen Wei needed time to heal. Zhao Yunlan had left him blanket-wrapped and tucked into a couch for the energy intensive process while Zhao Yunlan himself went to figure out where they could stash the Dixingian overnight.

Lao Chu hadn't said much about the whole thing, but Da Qing had hovered. Not like Xiao Guo was before Zhao Yunlan sent him home, but in the way where he just happened to be draped over the piece of furniture nearest to Zhao Yunlan at all times. He'd been able to feel the damn cat watching even if he couldn't catch him at it. Zhao Yunlan had pointed out to him — repeatedly — that the mothering was unnecessary; Zhao Yunlan had just been surprised. After all, Shen Wei was fine. In fact, Shen Wei was apparently so fine that, hours later, Zhao Yunlan had found the couch empty and a note telling him Shen Wei had gone on home. By himself, in bloody clothes, and in who knew what state of recovery.

Now Zhao Yunlan wasn't running home, not technically, but Shen Wei wasn't answering his phone. He'd probably just forgotten it somewhere again but Zhao Yunlan just really needed to lay eyes on Shen Wei as soon as possible.

As Zhao Yunlan unlocked their front door with hands that weren't quite shaking, he fully expected to find Shen Wei on their own couch, asleep again as he healed and recovered his energy, probably with tea forgotten and over-steeped in the kitchen. There was, however, a small part of Zhao Yunlan that was terrified Shen Wei'd be collapsed on the floor, bleeding again, worse off than when he last saw him. He absolutely did not expect to find Shen Wei sitting in the living room, still in his bloody undershirt and with hair down to his waist.

Shen Wei looked up at Zhao Yunlan and smiled. The lines of his face said he was still tired, but the bruising was gone and he wasn't the translucent white he'd been earlier. "You're home."

"I'm home," Zhao Yunlan agreed, heart still beating a few beats per minute too fast. He forced himself to let go of the doorknob and leave the misplaced fear outside as he crossed the threshold. "How are you?"

"Healed. There was a good bit of damage but the injuries were mostly superficial. Is—"

"Yes, he's safe in a shielded room for tonight." Mostly superficial injuries. Oh, well, that was fine then. Zhao Yunlan paused long enough to remove his boots, then padded in his stocking feet over to the chair. Shen Wei, alive and whole, drew him like a magnet, the curiosity of the long hair like little champagne sparkles through the lingering worry in his brain.

Shen Wei, proving he was indeed tired, simply sat and looked up at Zhao Yunlan. Then he opened his mouth and said, "I'm sor—"

Zhao Yunlan cut him off by crouching down and putting a finger to his lips, then all four fingers for good measure. "Eh, eh, we've had this conversation." Yelling match, protracted argument, cold war, eventual actual adult conversation. That had been a long week for everyone and Da Qing had threatened to move out if they didn't get their shit together. "You agreed," Zhao Yunlan reminded him.

Shen Wei's face twisted up in annoyance, but he swallowed down the words because he had agreed and the agreement was he couldn't apologize for things no one had expected to happen. It hadn't been about the words themselves, of course, it had been about the guilt, about Shen Wei recognizing Hei Pao Shi wasn't omnipotent no matter how much responsibility he took on. Shen Wei still didn't quite get how everything that happened to the SID, and to Zhao Yunlan in particular, wasn't somehow his burden to bear, but he'd at least conceded he wouldn't apologize under certain conditions. Zhao Yunlan celebrated it as a small victory and hoped Shen Wei might even, eventually, understand.

Zhao Yunlan shifted his hand to the side and wrapped one long strand around a finger. There were a dozen quips on the tip of his tongue about it, ranging from reverent to lewd, but the day had drug its claws through him and he still felt too raw. The silence stretched for a moment, Shen Wei's perfect posture remaining that way for all that he tilted his head toward Zhao Yunlan, eyes slipping half closed. He'd guessed that Shen Wei could regain his long hair at a whim given Ye Zun, and he'd meant to ask him someday, but here, now, he said bluntly, "You've never done this."

Shen Wei shrugged, surprisingly loose for how carefully he was holding himself. "I thought I would wash it tonight. After we talked about it the other day, I realized it's been quite some time since I last did so."

He looked younger with long hair, but not so young as he had ten thousand years ago. His eyes were darker now, his face less open. These days he was an expert at making statements that weren't necessarily lies, but they weren't the truth either. Zhao Yunlan wound the rest of his fingers into Shen Wei's hair and waited with interrogation patience.

Shen Wei sighed. "After today, I thought you might like helping me." He looked grumpy again at being cornered into the admission.

That was a more interesting answer. Zhao Yunlan had liked helping Shen Wei with his hair when it had been long. Most of what he'd enjoyed, though, had been how much it had clearly pleased Shen Wei to have Zhao Yunlan's help. Once he'd accepted that Zhao Yunlan's offer was sincere, and started to relax into the whole situation, he'd always gotten a blissed out expression while Zhao Yunlan worked soap and water through the long strands and while he combed it out afterward. Shen Wei probably did think he was offering for Zhao Yunlan's sake, but Zhao Yunlan at least recognized it was likely something Shen Wei wanted for himself.

He grinned. "Are you offering to get wet and naked with me, Shen Wei? All draped in long tresses like a maiden fair?" He feigned a swoon and croaked out from the floor, "I think I could suffer through."

Shen Wei rolled his eyes, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

In the bathroom, the first task was taking off their clothes. Getting Shen Wei out of his clothes was usually very enjoyable, but this time it involved determining which pieces of their clothing were better consigned to the trash for the blood on them — Shen Wei's undershirt for one, but also his own shirt and vest. The pants were questionable, but they didn't throw them straight out at any rate. Once in the shower, the blood that had soaked through clothing and what Zhao Yunlan had missed in the earlier clean-up could finally be scrubbed off. Then there was a fight over the shampoo bottle which Zhao Yunlan won by loudly reminding Shen Wei that this was Zhao Yunlan's job so Shen Wei could just keep his hands to himself. Shen Wei started laughing so hard at Zhao Yunlan telling him to keep his hands to himself, he'd had to let go and brace himself against the wall to keep from slipping.

Even with modern plumbing, it still took time to soap and rinse all of Shen Wei's hair. The warm water felt good after two days of casework, though, and Zhao Yunlan could feel the rest of the tension of the day bleeding out of him, so he wasn't in any hurry. Shen Wei certainly didn't seem to be either. Zhao Yunlan was mostly working from the back because it was easiest, but he spun Shen Wei around a few times just so he could see the blissed out expression that was exactly like he remembered. Maybe even more so, but a hot shower was a lot more comfortable than bending over a tub of water.

He seriously considered offering a blow job, but he wasn't convinced Shen Wei's legs would hold out through an orgasm.

They returned to the living room afterward, Zhao Yunlan carrying the wide toothed comb Shen Wei had handed him and Shen Wei with the damp hair towel still in hand. Zhao Yunlan had changed into soft, loose pants but, instead of his usual pajamas, Shen Wei was wearing some kind of sleeping robe Zhao Yunlan hadn't seen before. Apparently long hair called for an older dress style? He was moving different, too. It wasn't the straight, contained walk of Professor Shen or the deadly intent of Hei Pao Shi. This was more of a glide, like the gifted, eldest son of a rich and well-positioned family from some historical drama, one highly educated and trained in books and weapons by exacting tutors.

Zhao Yunlan did realize it was who Shen Wei would have actually been if not for the war, although it had taken various clues to put that picture together. Some of those clues had come directly from what the younger, bright-eyed-Shen-Wei had told him of his history and Zhao Yunlan had guessed at other aspects based on the way he carried himself and spoke. The clearest picture he had of Shen Wei's background, though, was from talk among the rank and file of the alliance. Hei Pao Shi had been a celebrity among the troops after all, the alliance's version of an idol and an unapproachable curiosity besides. With his role of Kunlun leaning heavily on the fiction he'd been traveling in far lands for many years — and Zhao Yunlan making up a lot of bullshit stories to support that lie — the troops had been eager to catch him up on the latest celebrity gossip. With his own social context 10,000 years misplaced in time, Zhao Yunlan had found the conversations useful for filtering meaning out of what Shen Wei had actually said.

The son of privilege that Shen Wei once was, though, had long been dirtied up and corrupted by the stark realities of war and time spent around common soldiers (and Kunlun), then softened by modern life (and Zhao Yunlan). Relatively softened, anyway. Here and now, though, some millennia-old training was bleeding through and he folded down to sit cross-legged, back agonizingly straight, hands folded carefully in his lap, and waited.

Zhao Yunlan dropped to the floor behind him much more efficiently, settled in, and started at the bottom of Shen Wei's hair, picking at the ends with the comb. After a few minutes, and an impressive amount of progress compared to the more arduous task Zhao Yunlan remembered, he said with mild surprise, "It's really not that bad at all."

"It tangles a great deal more in a hip bath than it does under falling water. The soap is different too, but mostly it's just the shower."

"Score another one for modern plumbing."

"Compared to an army encampment ten thousand years ago, yes, there have been some useful advances."

Zhao Yunlan smirked and worked at a tiny knot. "Like ink pens."

"There have also been some tragic inventions that are somewhat useful but should never have gained ubiquity." There was a disgruntled sniff that was an extension of a bitchy rant he'd gone on a few days earlier relating to his students' penmanship and a rather tall stack of handwritten essays that had been halfway graded.

Zhao Yunlan laughed at him and kept combing, working his way upward. It was peaceful doing this for Shen Wei. So often it was the other way around, Shen Wei so pleased to be cooking for Zhao Yunlan, to be taking care of him, and Zhao Yunlan certainly didn't mind. He wasn't a fool and he rather liked being spoiled, thank you very much. But with the vast powers at his command, Hei Pao Shi didn't always do so well at accepting help or spoiling of his own. This, though, this had taken very little convincing for Shen Wei to let him help.

Zhao Yunlan had barged into Shen Wei's quarters unannounced that first night, but it had been very deliberate. At dinner he'd listened to the gossip from the skirmish that had happened that day, which had included awed accounts of Hei Pao Shi being injured early on and only fighting all the more fiercely for it. The consistencies in the stories had been a hard blow to the head and either a blow or slice to one arm or the other. After that, he'd gone straight to Shen Wei's quarters and busted in rather than give Shen Wei an excuse to turn him away. Shen Wei had jerked up from leaning over the tub, caught in the awkward task of washing blood out of his hair with one arm clearly still healing. He'd been embarrassed more than anything else, dismissive as always of his own injuries despite the fact one had been a head wound, but he'd caved under a little wheedling and let Zhao Yunlan help. Zhao Yunlan had carefully cleaned the blood from his hair and skin, then bullied Shen Wei into letting him comb it out too.

His intention had been to protect Shen Wei's still healing arm, he hadn't actually been angling for it to become a thing. He could tell that it had meant something though, that he had offered and that Shen Wei had accepted. So he'd talked his way into to doing it again another night — just combing that time — then, later, the braids. He'd ended up doing it a lot of nights that summer, something just between the two of them with Shen Wei drooping in relaxed contentment while Zhao Yunlan passed on the gossip he'd learned that day. Nights when one or both of them had ended up injured from the day (or days) before, though, it had definitely become a thing. Those nights had been slower and quieter, human contact counteracting all the grief and uncertainties hanging over them. To be doing it again was like rediscovering a sacred ritual.

Even working slowly, it seemed like no time before Zhao Yunlan reached the nape of Shen Wei's neck. Then he encountered a new problem, though: The tines of the comb weren't quite the length he'd gotten used to using on Shen Wei's hair and he kept snagging the stand up, embroidered collar of the robe. "That's it," he complained after the third time, "I'm buying you a new comb. This one is annoying."

Shen Wei hummed thoughtfully but didn't say anything. Instead he reached up to his throat, shifted his hair with a twitch of his head, and suddenly the robe slithered loose, sliding down his arms to pool at his hips. Zhao Yunlan froze, staring at the sudden expanse of bare shoulders and tantalizing glimpses of bare back still cloaked in the long fall of dark hair. "I love that robe," he said in hushed reverence for all the filthy possibilities that spun out in a thousand directions in his mind.

"You have seen me in less within the last half hour," Shen Wei pointed out.

Zhao Yunlan scoffed. "In the shower, yeah, but we're in the living room." Not that it mattered to him, but Shen Wei had his own definitions of public versus private.

"It's our living room and I have locked the door. My hair, Zhao Yunlan," Shen Wei was apparently attempting stern but mostly he just sounded amused.

"Your hair," Zhao Yunlan drew out. "I have Hei Pao Shi stripping for me in my living room, I need a moment to process that."

There was little left to do, really, but this was a situation to be taken advantage of, so he continued combing. Shen Wei's hair was like heavy, damp silk sliding through his hands. Whenever he remembered Shen Wei's long hair, he thought of braiding it, of slowly learning to twist his fingers in just the right way to weave practicality out of the waist length strands. He'd forgotten the weight of it at some point, and when it was wet in particular. Chilly, too; Shen Wei shivered under his hands. Zhao Yunlan gathered it all up and lay it over one of Shen Wei's shoulders, then smoothed his palms across the cool skin he'd exposed.

"All done?" Shen Wei asked.

"No," Zhao Yunlan responded and carried on massaging.

Shen Wei huffed out a laugh, pushed his hair back over his shoulder, and suddenly the body under Zhao Yunlan's hands fell away. In a deceptively simple looking spin, Shen Wei twisted and dropped down to the floor to lie on his back. Then he untangled the pretzel folds of his legs and resettled them to either side of Zhao Yunlan, his knees still bent with one flat and the other lying against Zhao Yunlan's back.

Zhao Yunlan almost asked How did your hips even do that? but then he took in how the open robe had fallen away and now only covered the tops of Shen Wei's thighs. The long line of his body was stretched out on delicious display, the robe nothing more than a frame for the slight firmness to his cock. "Okay," Zhao Yunlan admitted, "this is better."

If it had been Zhao Yunlan on the floor, he would have been taking shameless advantage of the attention. There would have been strategic arching and stretching, suggestive comments, and probably begging because he didn't believe in being coy when it came to getting Shen Wei's hands on him. Shen Wei though was just looking up at him, a blush starting to creep along the tops of his cheek bones, hands resting one on top of the other on his chest, his body incidentally naked but with his whole self unmasked. Zhao Yunlan's mouth had gone dry and he licked his lips to compensate, only realizing what he'd done when Shen Wei flicked his gaze to Zhao Yunlan's mouth and then back up.

He shifted to his knees and turned to face Shen Wei, wrapping one arm around Shen Wei's knee next to his chest. "Will you smile for me, Xiao Wei?" he asked sweetly, bending his head to kiss the inside of Shen Wei's knee.

Shen Wei did smile even if the blush darkened dramatically and his eyes skittered away at the same time. Zhao Yunlan grinned. Ten thousand years and that request, properly deployed, could still fluster him. Zhao Yunlan nipped and kissed his way a little further down the leg so conveniently in reach.

"My smile is up here, Zhao Yunlan," Shen Wei said, his thighs falling just a little more open.

"Mmm, I know," Zhao Yunlan responded between kisses, "I can see it from down here. I can see quite a lot from down here, actually. I'm thinking of taking a tour," he braced himself on one hand and trailed the other down the back of Shen Wei's thigh, "really enjoying the, uh, sights."

Shen Wei hummed noncommittally, but his cock twitched with interest.

Zhao Yunlan didn't actually bother with drawing things out. Another night, maybe, when they weren't already tired, when it wasn't about comfort as much as release. Tonight he just slid back to settle on his stomach and took Shen Wei's cock in his mouth. He loved sucking Shen Wei's cock, full stop, but it was a particular thrill to start when it was still mostly soft in his mouth and feel it harden under his attention. He lost track of time for a bit, moving slow and steady, glad to forget everything else just for a little while. Eventually Shen Wei's hands threaded through his hair and he heard, "Yunlan, please, if you could—" He looked up and found Shen Wei up on one elbow, long hair draped down like a curtain behind him, with a desperate expression on his face. Zhao Yunlan hummed a query without actually pulling off and Shen Wei shuddered.

"Unless you're trying to drag this out until tomorrow morning, please put your back into it."

If Zhao Yunlan's mouth hadn't been occupied, he would have laughed, as it was he had to pause for a few seconds and breathe while his eyes watered. Once he had himself under control, he got more enthusiastic about the process. Sucking harder and moving faster, he watched as Shen Wei dropped his head back and gasped for air, the long arch of his body like a work of obscene art. As soon as he orgasmed, he dropped like a stone, falling boneless back to the floor and breathing hard. Zhao Yunlan swallowed the last of the come and pulled off, paused to nip one last time at Shen Wei's inner thigh, and then rose up over him, smugly satisfied at a job well done.

"Always so pleased with yourself," Shen Wei teased, body lax and eyes heavy lidded. "And what would you like?" He looked like he'd melted into the floor with his hair spread everywhere behind him, his breathing still quick as he smiled up at Zhao Yunlan.

"Eh," Zhao Yunlan shrugged as best he could while braced up on his arms, "it can wait." Sucking cock worked him up and he was hard, but Shen Wei was so relaxed and there would always be the morning.

Shen Wei just looked at him for a long moment. Then, with no change to the dreamy, satisfied expression on his face, he slid his hand into the elastic waist of Zhao Yunlan's pants and took his cock firmly in hand.

"Or," Zhao Yunlan gasped, "it could not wait. That is also an option."

Shen Wei smiled wider, pushed his free arm up under his own head to use as a pillow, and started stroking Zhao Yunlan's cock. "Pants"

Zhao Yunlan braced on one hand and awkwardly shoved his pants down over his ass to his thighs while Shen Wei kept stroking. Lube would have made it better, but cock sucking really did get him worked up and there was enough pre-come to slick the way. It wasn't going to take long regardless: He had Shen Wei stretched out under him, still flushed and sweaty with his own orgasm like very expensive porn and apparently expecting Zhao Yunlan to come all over him. Zhao Yunlan had had a lot of fantasies that looked exactly like this. He reached down and held Shen Wei's wrist still so he could fuck his hand in earnest. "Tighter," he gasped out and Shen Wei infinitesimally increased the strength of his grip.

When his orgasm finally hit him, it was like being hit by a truck as every muscle in his body tightened down before releasing. His brain whited out completely for the second time of the day, but this time it was fueled by ecstasy rather than panic and he collapsed next to Shen Wei with a giddy laugh. Shen Wei wiped up the worst of the mess on his stomach and chest with the towel, then rolled over onto his side, looking at Zhao Yunlan with a particularly indulgent expression. It was a smile Zhao Yunlan just had to kiss, so he tugged Shen Wei down to do that for a while.

A while wasn't very long with the tiredness tugging at both of them, though, and they stumbled up to go to bed soon enough. Shen Wei left his hair long, which meant there was a brief delay while he put it in a simple braid for sleeping, which meant there was another delay while they both hunted down a strip of cloth to tie it with, but eventually they did actually make it to bed. Zhao Yunlan had been snatching sleep in his office chair for the last two days, so once he was under the covers, with Shen Wei wrapped around his back, he felt himself instantly start to become one with the bedding. He had no intentions of getting back out of bed until mid-morning at the earliest. Late morning was a possibility. Hell, early afternoon was a possibility.

Zhao Yunlan's policy was to encourage good behavior, so before he drifted off, he said, "We should do this again sometime. I like combing your hair, and braiding it. We can do it properly when it's dry." He felt the unspoken don't think you're getting out of it was obvious.

Behind him he could feel Shen Wei's nose tuck in against the nape of his neck. It was a move that, from experience, had Zhao Yunlan waking up a few more brain cells for whatever confession was coming next.

"I like when you help me with my hair. When it's long, I mean."

Zhao Yunlan did not crow in victory, but it was a near thing. "Well, there you go! Good times all around."

"I think… I missed you doing it," Shen Wei whispered.

Zhao Yunlan squirmed loose from Shen Wei's arms and turned around. Taking Shen Wei in his own arms, he kissed his forehead and said, "Don't miss it, Xiao Wei, just tell me."

"Okay," Shen Wei answered, nodding, the movement shifting the heavy, damp braid Zhao Yunlan could feel lying across his arms.

Maybe in the morning they'd braid it before Shen Wei changed it back, or maybe they'd do it tomorrow night after they'd dealt with the whole Dixingian with uncontrolled power issue. That was a question for tomorrow, though. Tonight he was just going to sleep easy, glad for Shen Wei resting warm and alive in his arms.