Zhao Yunlan wonders if this is how he dies, with a knife to his throat and a finger that refuses to move on the trigger.
Shen Wei's eyes are colder, and not just because he lost his glasses somewhere along the way. Zhao Yunlan is used to seeing his face bare – first thing in the morning, while they're getting ready in the bathroom, when they're in bed together and Zhao Yunlan is clenching his teeth to keep from asking for something he thinks Shen Wei can't give him. Now he's wondering if maybe Shen Wei's job isn't the only thing he's gotten wrong in all the years they've been married.
They're at a complete standstill. The living room is in shambles around them. Zhao Yunlan is pretty sure they're not getting their deposit back on...well, anything that they don't own. Everything is either broken beyond repair or in desperate need of a fix or clean. And in the middle of all that chaos are the two of them. Shen Wei's knife is pressed so tightly against his throat that it's a wonder Zhao Yunlan isn't bleeding already. Zhao Yunlan's gun is pressed to Shen Wei's temple hard enough that it's undoubtedly going to leave a bruise.
Pull the trigger, Zhao Yunlan tells himself. If he doesn't, he's dead. Shen Wei's rap-sheet is even more impressive than his own, after all.
Zhao Yunlan remembers the kill that Hei Pao Shi stole from him. He would have been mad if he wasn't so impressed by the execution. There's just something about Hei Pao Shi's kills that Zhao Yunlan has always admired. It's the cleanliness and precision of them, and the way he's never taken a single life that wasn't on his kill list. A part of him has always wondered what would happen if he ever crossed swords with Hei Pao Shi. Before he met Shen Wei, Zhao Yunlan even imagined how such an encounter might have gone, usually with a very satisfying ending for them both. He knew it would never happen, of course, but a little fantasising never hurt anyone. Then he met Shen Wei and all unprofessional thoughts about Hei Pao Shi went flying out of his head.
And now, as it turns out, Zhao Yunlan has been married to that man for almost five years. He's finally gotten a chance to test his wits against him. And while they're technically at a stalemate, it wouldn't take much for things change. Considering the true strength that Shen Wei has been hiding under his suits all these years, Zhao Yunlan knows that the odds are very much stacked against him.
Still, he makes himself imagine it. If he could somehow be faster and manages to pull the trigger before Shen Wei can react, then the bullet would tear through Shen Wei's head and dim the light in his ever-expressive eyes. He would crumple to the ground in a heap, blood and brains all over their floor, and Zhao Yunlan would have been the one that made it happen.
Zhao Yunlan almost has to close his eyes against the mental image. He hasn't spent all these years married to Shen Wei without growing attached. No, attached is the wrong word. Shen Wei is the air in his lungs and the blood that keeps his heart beating. Without Shen Wei, Zhao Yunlan doesn't know how he'd keep living.
Seeing Shen Wei's lifeless form at his feet would break him, more so if he was the one that put him there. Zhao Yunlan would rather shoot himself now and be done with it. At least that way Shen Wei would still be alive. Even if Shen Wei doesn't feel the same way about him, if he was just a convenient cover to Shen Wei, he would rather Shen Wei keep breathing. Loving someone didn't require reciprocation, after all. It just required giving a piece of yourself to someone else and hoping against all hope that they wouldn't misuse it.
Zhao Yunlan gave himself to Shen Wei knowing what he was risking by doing it. He would do it again even knowing Shen Wei's other identity. Shen Wei has so thoroughly stolen Zhao Yunlan's heart that he doesn't know who he is without Shen Wei anymore.
Everyone has to die someday. If anyone is going to kill him, it might as well be the love of his life.
Shen Wei's eyes go wide when Zhao Yunlan secures the gun and throws it aside. The hand holding the knife never wavers, not even as Shen Wei breathes Zhao Yunlan's name. Zhao Yunlan has never heard Shen Wei sound that way before.
Zhao Yunlan smiles at him. "I can't do it, Xiao Wei. If you want the reward, it's yours. But I can't kill you for all the money in the world, let alone that sad excuse of a bounty."
Shen Wei stares at him like he's never seen Zhao Yunlan before.
There's a moment when Zhao Yunlan doesn't think either of them breathes. Then Shen Wei is pulling back his knife and tossing it aside with precision. Considering the man that threw it, and the fact that it hits something on its way, Zhao Yunlan is tempted to call it expert precision.
Zhao Yunlan calculates the angle of the throw and makes a guess. "Was that my bottle lamp?"
"It never fit with the rest of the décor," Shen Wei says without blinking.
Zhao Yunlan throws his hands up. "You don't even like the rest of the décor!"
Shen Wei pauses. "You noticed?"
Zhao Yunlan bites back the urge to laugh. "Bao Bei," he says, voice far too fond considering their situation, "you are not the monochromatic type. Your clothes make that loud and clear. But I figured you thought it fit better with the kitchen and you love the kitchen, so I...didn't ask."
Shen Wei blinks and ducks his head, though it's not enough to hide the way he's trying not to smile. It's what he's always done whenever Zhao Yunlan does something both nice and unexpected. It's comforting to know that some of the parts they shared with one another were real, that it wasn't all just lies and deception.
Zhao Yunlan can no longer remember the other houses they looked at because everything else faded into the background when they walked into this house and he saw Shen Wei light up. He didn't need to see the rest of the house. He wanted to live in a place that could make Shen Wei look like that.
It has been five years since they bought the house and it's been the happiest five years of Zhao Yunlan's life.
"Well." Zhao Yunlan gestures around. "If nothing else, this has given us an excuse to redecorate, right?"
Shen Wei's expression softens. His mouth curls in the corners, and Zhao Yunlan knows he's getting ready to smile when he stops. He's about to ask when Shen Wei reaches up and brushes his fingertips over the side of Zhao Yunlan's neck, right where one of Shen Wei's bullets grazed him. Zhao Yunlan can't quite hide the way he winces in pain. Shen Wei's eyes flash dangerously, but it's different somehow. This isn't the man that was determined to kill Zhao Yunlan through any means necessary. This is the man that feels sick for even trying.
"It's all right, Xiao Wei." Zhao Yunlan takes his hand and presses a kiss to his knuckles. "You missed."
Shen Wei's voice is cold and flat when he says, "I almost did not."
"But you did," Zhao Yunlan says. "And that's the most important part."
Shen Wei is shaking his head before Zhao Yunlan can even finish speaking. "I tried to kill you, Yunlan," he says, voice hollow. "I almost succeeded."
"Hey. I came pretty close too, you know."
Shen Wei closes his eyes tightly and sighs.
"I regret it too, for the record." Zhao Yunlan squeezes his hand, and Shen Wei's beautiful eyes open again. "I'm amazed I got this far. As if I could ever kill you, Xiao Wei."
Shen Wei looks so forlorn that Zhao Yunlan can't keep himself from leaning in and kissing him. Shen Wei doesn't hesitate to press closer and kiss him deeper.
All the adrenaline from the fight suddenly comes surging back. Zhao Yunlan is pulling at Shen Wei's clothes, desperate to touch something more than his button-up and the bulletproof-vest he can feel underneath. Judging by the way Shen Wei practically rips Zhao Yunlan's Kevlar from his torso, he feels the same way.
They stumble backwards, still kissing and refusing to let go of one another until Shen Wei goes tumbling into one of their armchairs. Though Zhao Yunlan can't remember it happening, it must have gotten moved during their fight. And though there are arguably better places to be doing this, Zhao Yunlan wastes no time in clambering into Shen Wei's lap to keep kissing him.
Shen Wei grabs onto the back of his neck and kisses him until it's impossible to tell where one of them ends and the other begins.
Normally, it's easy to lose himself in kissing Shen Wei. Zhao Yunlan doesn't know how many hours of his life he's spent kissing Shen Wei, but it'll always be too few for his liking. The bruises and aches do their best to shake him out of the mood now and again, but it's not enough to make Zhao Yunlan want to call it quits. Though, whenever he's briefly reminded of the world around them, he can hear the chair groaning under their weight. And every time, the groaning seems to be getting louder.
"Hey, Bao Bei, should we move?" Zhao Yunlan swallows while Shen Wei does his best to make a permanent mark of his teeth at the hollow of Zhao Yunlan's throat. "I don't think it's gonna hold."
"It will hold," Shen Wei growls and grabs onto the armrests with both hands.
Zhao Yunlan swears he can smell the dark energy Shen Wei slams into the chair. It practically reverberates through him and pulls a moan from his lips. He's always been sensitive to dark energy, but this is something else. Something new. Something that is uniquely Shen Wei. He grabs onto the back of Shen Wei's neck and slots their mouths together like he can taste the energy on Shen Wei's tongue.
Shen Wei kisses him back almost harshly. His hands fit themselves back onto Zhao Yunlan's waist, but tighter this time. Zhao Yunlan couldn't have stopped himself from moaning even if he tried.
Zhao Yunlan hasn't come in his pants since he was a teenager, but he's about to do it now. He can feel it building so fast that he doesn't think he'd be able to stop it even if he got out of Shen Wei's lap right this second. So then he doesn't try. He clings to Shen Wei's shoulders instead and announces his release into Shen Wei's tousled hair.
Shen Wei isn't far behind, snarling into Zhao Yunlan's neck and pulling him closer like he's afraid of Zhao Yunlan letting go.
They're still panting for breath when the chair finally gives up the ghost. Zhao Yunlan is preparing himself for a harsh impact when he feels the familiar sensation of Shen Wei's cold power wrapping around them both. Between one moment and the next, the chair underneath them is replaced by their bed.
Zhao Yunlan stares blankly into the air over Shen Wei's shoulder. He keeps staring even as Shen Wei extracts himself and goes to lie down beside him.
Just how many powers did Shen Wei have? The last time Zhao Yunlan checked, Dixingren were only meant to have one.
The silence in the room almost seems to echo.
Zhao Yunlan slowly turns his head to look at Shen Wei.
Shen Wei looks as dishevelled as Zhao Yunlan probably does himself. They're both a mess from the fight as much as from when they were rutting against one another. Rather than the sated expression Zhao Yunlan is expecting to see, Shen Wei looks mortified. He's even blushing.
Zhao Yunlan starts laughing and doesn't think he'll ever be able to stop.
"Zhao Yunlan," Shen Wei says. He sounds scandalised.
Zhao Yunlan laughs harder.
He doesn't know how long he laughs for, but he waits to look at Shen Wei until his laughter is dying down. Shen Wei's expression almost sets him off again. Shen Wei doesn't tell him off a second time, but the air of disapproval is oozing off him all the same.
The silence is deafening once Zhao Yunlan stops laughing. The cold reality of their situation crashes down on him then, and Zhao Yunlan doesn't think he's the only one that's suddenly not feeling as good.
"Ah, we're screwed now, aren't we?" Zhao Yunlan asks the ceiling. He aches to reach out and grab onto Shen Wei in any way he can, but he can't make his body move. Now that the adrenaline is gone, he doesn't know where they stand anymore.
"Not necessarily," Shen Wei says. Zhao Yunlan turns his head to look at him. "I have some pull in my organisation."
"I could swing some in mine," Zhao Yunlan says as neutrally as he can, considering both of his parents work there. "You think we can cancel the contracts?"
"We are not the first rival contract-killers to fall in love," Shen Wei says. "There used to be something in place for cases like this. I believe they called it the Guardian Order. It allowed for less competition and more interaction between the major players."
Zhao Yunlan thinks he's maybe heard whispers of the Guardian Order, though he's never heard any details about it until now. He turns to lie on his side, facing Shen Wei. "What happened?"
"The makers of the Guardian Order passed away, I believe," Shen Wei says, shifting until they're both facing one another. "The organisations stopped advocating for it afterwards."
Zhao Yunlan frowns. "Just because they died?"
"They did advocate for the Order because they fell in love with a rival and refused to kill each other," Shen Wei says.
"Well, that's stupid. You can't control who you fall in love with."
Shen Wei's expression goes shuttered. It doesn't take a genius to realise what he said that might have upset Shen Wei.
"But if I could, I'd fall in love with you every time, Xiao Wei," he says and leans in to kiss Shen Wei again.
Shen Wei is smiling when he pulls back. "And I with you, A-Lan."
Zhao Yunlan doesn't know what the future has in store for them, but he dares it to take on them both on. With Shen Wei by his side, there's no way they're going to lose.