Zhao Yunlan's always been a night owl. It was a relief when the shop got profitable enough that he could hire someone to handle the morning shift. Now he happily stays up until past midnight each night, getting the boring stuff done first and then tinkering with his babies.
His 'babies' being his bikes, of course. He says he can improve any ride (usually with a suggestive leer), but it's not idle boasting. He can coax more speed, more efficiency, more power from any motorcycle in existence.
He's not bad with the riders, either.
The first time the Envoy shows up in his shop, Zhao Yunlan falls off his workbench.
In his defense, it's one o'clock in the fucking morning, and the shop is closed. He's not expecting to look up and see a man dressed in all black - ALL black leathers - wearing a reflective helmet.
Zhao Yunlan startles at the apparition and tumbles off the big wooden bench where he'd been perched. The man steps forward and catches him, causing Zhao Yunlan to faceplant directly into his chest.
"Fuck!" Zhao Yunlan gasps, scrambling to get his feet under him and back away.
"What the fuck?"
"I'm sorry," the man says, his voice slightly muffled by the helmet. "I didn't mean to startle you."
"It's fine," Zhao Yunlan says. "Uh, we're closed. How did you get in?"
"I came in through the back," the man says apologetically. "I didn't want to be seen."
Ah-hah, the pieces fall together like the parts of an engine sliding into place. "You're a racer."
The helmet tips forward in a nod, the visor reflecting a distorted version of Zhao Yunlan's face back to him. "Yes. The Puppetmaster recommended you."
Zhao Yunlan's eyebrows rise.
Everyone in the underground racing scene knows Zhao Yunlan is the best mechanic around. Most of them bring him their bikes in the daytime, though. He's known to be discreet, and he rather likes sticking it to his old man, who's been trying to shut down the racing for years now.
The Puppetmaster. One of his best customers. Zhao Yunlan narrows his eyes. "You're the Envoy, aren't you."
It's not a question. Chu Shuzhi's mentioned the man several times, and while the dour racer doesn't exactly wax poetic, the fact that he brought him up at all speaks volumes.
Again the helmet inclines in a nod, the light dancing off the visor, the shop strange and surreal in the distorted reflection. Every inch of skin is covered. Zhao Yunlan lets his eyes sweep from the black boots over the leather pants, gloves, and jacket, then back to the helmet.
"So you came in from the back, huh?" Zhao Yunlan says, grinning. "Normally I don't mind that, but it's polite to ask first, you know."
The man goes completely still. Because he can't believe what he heard? Because he's about to walk out in disgust?
"I apologize," says the Envoy.
That isn't even on the list of possible responses. "No harm done," Zhao Yunlan says with a wave of his hand, "Thanks to your quick reflexes. What can I do for you," he lets his eyes rake over the man's body, "’Mr. Black’?"
There's another moment of hesitation. "I need more power."
"Don't we all, honey." Zhao Yunlan leans back against the bench. "I don't work on just anyone's machine. Only topnotch riders with good reputations. But if you're the Envoy that The Puppetmaster has been raving about, you definitely qualify."
"Raving?" the Envoy sounds startled.
"Well, for him," Zhao Yunlan says dismissively. "I'll make you a deal." The helmet tilts to one side inquiringly. "Give me a week and I'll make you the best damn bike on the planet. I'll have it purring like a kitten and roaring like a lion. I'll give you all the power you want."
The Envoy stays still, watching him.
Zhao Yunlan licks his lips. "If you're as good as they say you are, you'll be able to win every race with it."
"I am," the Envoy says, simple and devastating.
"Then, in six months, after you win every race, I want a bonus."
"Yeah. You get the acclaim, the reputation and the prize money. What do I get? I think you and I could make a great team, but I'm sick of building bikes that win races and not getting any of the credit." He makes his voice petulant, well-aware that his argument is ridiculous.
It seems to work. The Envoy's voice sounds amused. "I'm happy to pay you for good work."
Zhao Yunlan rolls his eyes. "I'm not talking about money," he says, giving the word a scornful inflection.
"Then, what?" The helmet tilts the other way. "What do you want, Zhao Yunlan?"
"I want a lot of things." Zhao Yunlan sprawls back even further onto the counter, propping himself up with his elbows and letting his eyes drift to the ceiling. "World Peace, no one going hungry, an end to global warming..." he peeks at the Envoy, wishing he could see his face.
"What do you want that *I* can give you?" the Envoy says with a tinge of exasperation in his voice that makes Zhao Yunlan grin in victory.
"I don't know yet," he says.
"You want me to promise you an unspecified bonus? A blank check?" He sounds surprisingly okay with the idea.
"You can always say no if I ask for something you're not willing to give," Zhao Yunlan points out. "It's not like I can take you to court. I'll just ask for something else instead."
The Envoy seems to mull this over for a moment. "Very well," he says. "I agree to your terms."
Zhao Yunlan is as good as his word. He takes "Mr. Black's" motorcycle - making comments about being eager to get his hands on it all the while - and rebuilds it. It's already a beautiful machine, but he knows how to make it BETTER. How to get that extra ounce of power, of drive.
The Envoy takes back his bike and pays (in cash, of course), continuing to ignore Zhao Yunlan's dirtiest, flirtiest lines. It's a strange thought, but Zhao Yunlan wonders if the man might be blushing under that helmet.
He wonders other things, too.
The Envoy gives nothing away.
The six months go by, slowly, but pleasurably. The Envoy is back in his shop once a week. Zhao Yunlan looks over his baby (and the bike), and makes sure the bike is tuned up and running smoothly. He wishes he could do the same for its rider. Gradually they develop a rapport.
The Envoy wins and wins. Zhao Yunlan had proposed the 'deal' in a spirit of mischief and to see if he could get away with it. But as the deadline approaches, he can't seem to summon his usual insouciance about it. He's anticipating it.
He thinks The Envoy might, too.
When the day comes, they both know it. The Envoy knocks at his back door at 1am, punctual as always. Zhao Yunlan takes his time looking over the bike. "I'm glad to see that you're treating our baby right," he teases. The Envoy ducks his head, which is always funny in a helmet.
Once the 'baby' is safely inside the shop and the doors are all closed and locked, Zhao Yunlan says, "Did you win?"
"I did." The Envoy's voice is quiet.
A part of Zhao Yunlan relaxes. The rest of him ratchets up with anticipation. "Do you remember our deal?"
"I do," he says.
Zhao Yunlan sprawls back against his workbench, propping himself up with his elbows and canting his hips forward. "You won every race, just like I said you would. It's time I got my bonus, don't you think?"
"Yes." The Envoy takes a step forward. "What do you want, Zhao Yunlan?"
He could ask the Envoy to remove his helmet, but he'd rather earn his trust than demand it.
So he looks up at the Envoy from under his lashes, licks his lips, and says, "I want you to fuck me over the back of your bike."
The sharp intake of breath is audible through the helmet.
Zhao Yunlan waits, pretending he's relaxed and confident instead of tense and desperate. The Envoy is silent, standing as though frozen. Zhao Yunlan opens his mouth to laugh and tell the Envoy it's fine, he'll choose something else, he wasn't serious.
Then the Envoy grabs him.
Strong, Zhao Yunlan thinks as the Envoy pulls him off the counter. A shiver runs from the base of his spine up the back of his neck at the ease with which the Envoy manhandles him. Zhao Yunlan ends up with his hands planted on the Envoy's chest, gazing directly into his helmet.
"I wish I could kiss you." It's a whisper, but Zhao Yunlan is close enough to hear it. He swallows.
"I wish you could, too," he says. He lifts a hand and traces a finger around the edge of the visor. "You could blindfold me."
Another sharp breath conveys the Envoy's feelings.
The Envoy partially unzips his jacket, revealing a flash of pale skin at his throat. Even that glimpse makes Zhao Yunlan's heart speed up. From an inside pocket he draws a piece of cloth - a patterned handkerchief, perhaps. Before he can get a good look at it, it covers his eyes.
The fabric is silky and warm against his skin. It smells like leather and sweat with a hint of cologne. Zhao Yunlan breathes in the scent of the Envoy and shivers again.
A gloved hand wraps around his and tugs him forward across the shop. "The bike is in front of you," he hears.
He stretches out his hands and feels the familiar shape of the seat beneath them. He could probably disassemble and reassemble this machine without ever taking off the blindfold.
There's a faint sound behind him. Then the Envoy's voice comes again, unmuffled for the first time.
"Zhao Yunlan." The Envoy says his name reverently. Hands slide down to cup his hips. Lips press against the back of his neck.
The Envoy's lips are soft. They linger at the top of his spine. Hot breath brushes against Zhao Yunlan's skin.
He's never been so turned on in his life.
Gently, the Envoy's hands turn Zhao Yunlan to face him. There's something agonizing about knowing that he's standing right there, his face exposed, only a strip of silk between them. Zhao Yunlan puts his hands behind him and grips the seat of the bike to keep from tearing it off.
Leather-covered hands cup his face, holding him still as the Envoy's mouth finds his. The Envoy kisses him eagerly, hungrily, with just a hint of clumsiness. Then the Envoy lets go of him, but doesn't stop kissing him. A moment later Zhao Yunlan feels the Envoy’s bare hand against his cheek.
The skin of the Envoy's hand is surprisingly smooth. Perhaps he wears gloves all the time, not just when he's riding.
The intimacy is almost surreal. Zhao Yunlan has never seen this man's face. He doesn't even know his NAME. Yet he feels closer to him than he ever has to anyone.
The Envoy whispers his name again, a chant, a prayer, a mantra.
"I'm here," Zhao Yunlan finds himself saying. "I'm here." The man makes a soft, desperate sound and crushes their mouths together.
The Envoy's hands slide down over his chest, then to his waist and under his shirt.
It's so strange to think of the Envoy as an actual person with *lips*. And a *tongue*. Zhao Yunlan grew to know him as a distorted reflection in a helmet. But there is a face behind that mask. There's a person behind that mask.
The person's hands trail down to his waistband.
Zhao Yunlan finally lets go of the motorcycle's seat and wraps his arms around the Envoy. "Yes," he says against the Envoy's lips. "Yes, please, yes, yes," he mumbles as the Envoy's hands dip under the waistband of his jeans, skimming tantalizingly over his skin.
Groaning, Zhao Yunlan arches back and thrusts his hips forward, pulling the Envoy onto him. The Envoy stumbles but quickly recovers, planting his feet and gripping Zhao Yunlan's waist.
"Zhao Yunlan," he says, but his tone is different this time.
"Take off your pants."
"Yes sir!" Zhao Yunlan laughs, panting. He toes off his boots, unzips his pants, and skins them and his underwear off in the blink of an eye, carelessly tossing them aside.
The air is cool on his skin. The Envoy's hands are surprisingly warm. They settle on his hips once more.
"You can grab my ass," Zhao Yunlan says with a grin. He can feel the tremor that goes through the Envoy at his words.
"You're a menace," the Envoy growls into his ear. Before Zhao Yunlan can respond, he can feel those warm hands curling down to grip his ass, holding him still.
Fast learner. Zhao Yunlan approves. "You love it," he says.
He isn't prepared for the little gasp the Envoy gives at that. Or for him to say softly against Zhao Yunlan's neck, "I do."
Giving a nervous laugh, Zhao Yunlan says, "Of course you do. I'm very lovable.
"Yes, you are."
What the hell can he say to that? Zhao Yunlan wraps his arms around the man and buries his face in his neck. "I was joking."
"Stop it," Zhao Yunlan gasps. "Shut up and kiss m-"
The Envoy's mouth takes his again, hot and demanding and perfect. Zhao Yunlan relaxes.
This is familiar. He knows how to do this, even if he's never done it blindfolded with a person whose face he wouldn't recognize.
The Envoy maneuvers him until his ass is pressed against the side of the bike's seat. Feeling daring, Zhao Yunlan slides his hands under the man’s shirt.
The Envoy's hips give a jerk as Zhao Yunlan's hands meet skin. It makes Zhao Yunlan feel powerful to realize he can do this to the Envoy, elicit a reaction from a man who's normally so controlled.
The Envoy's hands are still on his ass, alternating between gripping and stroking.
"Gonna need lube," gasps Zhao Yunlan.
"It's all right," says the Envoy, and Zhao Yunlan doesn't understand until he feels the man reaching into the pocket of his leather jacket.
"Wait, did you bring some?" asks Zhao Yunlan, his voice going high on the last two words.
"I...hoped," the Envoy admits. "It seemed that you might want..."
"I'm glad you could read the signals," Zhao Yunlan says dryly, fighting against the strangely tender feeling building in his chest. "It's not like I was subtle." This is sex. It's just sex, it can't be more.
"I didn't want to assume," the Envoy mumbles. "I'm...I don't have a great deal of experience in this arena."
Zhao Yunlan didn't expect that. "Wait." The Envoy freezes under his hands. "You're not - you've done this before, right?"
"...Define 'this'," the Envoy says crisply.
"Have you had sex?" Zhao Yunlan asks, and adds, "with another person?" before the Envoy can qualify it further, "And don't you dare ask me to define 'sex'."
"I...strictly speaking...no." The Envoy has gone tense under his hands. "Is that going to be a problem?" he says stiffly.
"You - you want your first sexual experience to be with someone who doesn't know who you are?" Zhao Yunlan says in disbelief. "I don't even know your name - doesn't that bother you?"
"Of course it bothers me!" The Envoy's voice rings with frustration. "But I can't tell you!"
The Envoy goes silent, and Zhao Yunlan would give so, so much to be able to see his face right now.
"Alright, don't answer, you have your reasons. But are you sure about this? Are certain you want it like this? Not, I don't know, in a bed with someone who knows you?"
"I want *you*." The Envoy's hands tighten on his ass. "Not anyone else. If you are willing, under these circumstances, under any circumstances, I would, that is, I want..." He stops. Breathes. "Zhao Yunlan. If you don't want-"
"I do," says Zhao Yunlan. "That's not the issue."
"Then there is no issue," he insists. "I want you. Please."
Somehow the simple words hit Zhao Yunlan with the force of a sledgehammer. "Yes," he breathes. "Yes, all right. Give me the lube." He fumbles and holds out his hand until the Envoy presses a small tube into it. "Yes."
Zhao Yunlan uncaps the tube and squeezes some over his fingers. Widening his stance, he cocks one hip on the motorcycle seat and reaches behind himself. He knows how this looks. He arches his back and bites his lip. He isn't surprised to hear the Envoy make a sound like a growl.
The next moments become a blur. Hands against his skin, rucking his shirt up. A tongue swirling around his nipples, one after the other. Hot mouth sucking bruises into his flesh, on his hip, his thigh. He shudders when the tongue sweeps over the tip of his leaking erection.
He manages to keep himself from shoving forward, pushing back onto his fingers instead. "Fuck," he breathes. Then, "Fuck!" when the Envoy carefully sucks the tip of his cock into his mouth, tongue swirling around it experimentally. Groaning again, Zhao Yunlan adds another finger.
The suction increases. Zhao Yunlan wishes he knew what the Envoy looks like, wishes he could be more than a disembodied mouth, however slick and hot and perfect it might be.
The Envoy pushes deeper, then pulls back quickly. Zhao Yunlan wants to to show him everything. "Darling."
The Envoy stills in a way that's becoming familiar. "What?"
"Darling," Zhao Yunlan says again, because even if he didn't mean to say it, he did mean it. "I'm ready."
The Envoy's hands shake.
"Zhao Yunlan." He feels a face press against his thigh, hair and eyelashes and nose.
He lets his clean hand slide into the man's hair - he has short hair! - the strands sliding between his fingers. "Whenever you are," Zhao Yunlan says. "There's no rush."
They stay like that for a long moment, the Envoy's face pressed to his skin, Zhao Yunlan's hand in his hair.
Then the Envoy moves with sudden certainty. He rises to his feet, wraps both hands around Zhao Yunlan's waist, and kisses him fiercely. There's something possessive about it, something *claiming* that normally would send Zhao Yunlan running but now just makes him hotter.
The word is unexpected, hard and definite. It acts on Zhao Yunlan as a key turning in an ignition, sparking fire through his body. He jerks hard in the Envoy's grasp and says, "Fuck me. Fuck me NOW."
"Get on the bike." Zhao Yunlan obeys, feet on the floor and ass on the leather.
Movement next to him, then the Envoy is sliding behind him, his erection pressed to the small of Zhao Yunlan's back. "Lean forward," he says. Zhao Yunlan does it, wiping his hand on his shirt before grabbing the handlebars and arching his ass in the air. Hands steady his hips.
He's lowered onto the Envoy's erection, sliding onto him, and it's not just a key in an ignition, it's a key in a lock. Nothing and no one else has ever felt so good, so right.
He's guided forward again, and it should be awkward, but they're making it work. It's so good, it's-
The Envoy pushes in, reaches forward, and turns the key.
The bike's not in gear, it's not going anywhere, but the rumble surges up through the Envoy's body and directly into Zhao Yunlan's ass. He shouts, then does it again when the Envoy puts hands over his and revs the engine.
He's not even fucking him, just standing in place, letting the bike turn him into a goddamn person-sized vibrator. Zhao Yunlan whimpers and presses back, letting the feeling sink into him. The Envoy bites his shoulder and revs the engine again. Zhao Yunlan's entire body tenses.
The Envoy gasps in his ear as Zhao Yunlan clenches down on him. If it were possible, he would be squeezing deliberately, teasing, but right now he can't do anything but jerk and spasm uncontrollably as the Envoy tightens his grip, forcing the engine to rev higher, louder, *faster*-
He tumbles over the edge with a yell.
"Zhao Yunlan." A hoarse shout as the body pressing against his goes rigid. He feels the rush of heat around the Envoy's dick, but no wetness, and distantly registers that somewhere in all that, the Envoy must have slipped on a condom. Zhao Yunlan collapses forward, barely hanging onto the handlebars. A strong arm wraps around his waist.
He feels the other arm dart forward and turns the key to the 'off' position, killing the noise and the vibrations.
They stay like that for a moment, panting, sharing the seat of the Envoy's bike. Zhao Yunlan wonders if every time the man races, he'll be thinking of what they did here.
Finally Zhao Yunlan groans and swings his leg over the bike. He staggers, but a hand catches him and holds him fast. "Careful," says the Envoy.
"I'm all right," says Zhao Yunlan. "Fuck. That was. Fuck."
"Yes." The Envoy sounds torn between amusement and awe. "It was 'fuck'."
Snorting, Zhao Yunlan shakes a finger in the Envoy's general direction. "Put that fucking helmet back on, please. I want to be able to see."
"Alright." Shifting, moving sounds. "It's on," comes the now-muffled voice.
Zhao Yunlan opens his eyes, scowling when he sees that the Envoy is already dressed again. "You put your pants back on?" he sighs.
"Was I not supposed to?" There's more amusement, but also a thread of uncertainty.
"I wanted to see you, is all," pouts Zhao Yunlan. "It's not like I can identify you by your dick."
"Maybe next time," says the Envoy. Then he freezes.
"Next time?" asks Zhao Yunlan hopefully.
"If, that is, if you would be willing-"
"Are you sure-?"
"YES. That was incredible," Zhao Yunlan says with a grin. "Though it might be hard to top." He chuckles at his own pun. "One hell of a first time, huh?"
"It was..." the Envoy hesitates. "Wonderful," he finishes.
There he goes again, making Zhao Yunlan's heart feel gooey. He hunts around for his pants and yanks them up over his hips. "Well, it's not always that good," he says. "Don't set your expectations too high."
He feels it when the Envoy's attention zeroes in on him. "Isn't it?"
"Nah," says Zhao Yunlan. "Not with a lot of people. There's a lot of selfish jerks out there."
There's a creaking sound. At some point the Envoy must have put his gloves back on. His hands are folding into fists. "You deserve better," he says firmly. "You deserve everything."
You can't even give me your name or face, thinks Zhao Yunlan, but he doesn't say it aloud. "Thanks," he says instead, voice dry, "but it doesn't always work like that. Sometimes you're stuck with what you get."
The Envoy's shoulders are tense. He hesitates a long moment.
Then he fumbles in an inside pocket and pulls out a small, expensive-looking moleskine notebook and a fountain pen. He carefully uncaps the pen and writes something in the book, then slowly tears out the page before stowing away the notebook and pen in his pocket once more
He holds out the paper to Zhao Yunlan. "You may text me at this number," he says.
Zhao Yunlan blinks and accepts the paper. "What?"
"If you...if you are ever in a situation where you want companionship, text me. I may not always be available, but if I am, I promise I will-"
"You mean, I can text you any time for a booty call?" Zhao Yunlan says. He's not sure if he's delighted or disgusted. Does the guy have a wife and kid, maybe? But no, he'd said he was a virgin, and Zhao Yunlan is pretty sure he wasn't lying, despite his spectacular performance.
"That is, yes," says the man. He lifts a hand and touches his helmet, a nervous tic. Zhao Yunlan is pretty sure he normally wears glasses. "If you don't wish to settle for someone who doesn't know you or care about your wellbeing, you may call me. Anytime. If I can, I will come."
"You will if you're lucky," Zhao Yunlan jokes crudely. He glances down at the paper, then back up at the Envoy. "Thank you," he says, and manages not to make it sound like a question.
"The pleasure would be mine, I assure you," the Envoy says, and Zhao Yunlan thinks he's smiling.
He's seized with the urge to kiss the man again. But that would mean putting the blindfold back on, and having him take off his helmet again. By the time they do all that the urge will have passed. So he gives his hips a satisfied wriggle and heads over to sit on the workbench.
"You're welcome to hang out as long as you want," Zhao Yunlan says, picking up the part he'd been disassembling when the Envoy showed up. "You know where the coffee is." The Envoy never takes him up on the coffee.
Zhao Yunlan isn't sure if it's because he wears a helmet or if he hates coffee. Maybe he just isn't interested in the sludge brewed by the shop's ancient coffeemaker. Zhao Yunlan can't blame him, it's awful.
"I have to go," the Envoy says. After a moment he adds, "I wish I could stay."
I wish you could, too, Zhao Yunlan thinks. He gives the Envoy a glance and a smile. "I'll text you when your bike's ready."
"Please do." The Envoy lingers for a moment more, zipping up his jacket and sliding on his gloves. "Thank you for a lovely evening."
Zhao Yunlan laughs.