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A little ghost king peeked over a moss-covered rock, shadows licking at his heels, as he saw a sleeping Kunlun-jun with a dozing dark creature perched on his lap. As Xiao Wei observed them, he saw the creature open one slitted eye to peer at the little ghost king before it slid shut, one of its ears twitching before it stilled.

The little ghost king hesitated. After a short few seconds of deliberating whether to go through his plan or not, he jumped as a disembodied voice echoed around the small clearing, quiet enough to not disturb the sleeping god. ‘Come, little ghost, place your little gift. While Kunlun-jun is surprisingly fond of you, I am not. Be warned: my claws are sharp and teeth even more so—make a wrong move and even a real death will not save you.'

The hissed warning echoed in his head as Xiao Wei jerked his head in a nod. Drawing in a quiet breath for strength, Xiao Wei crept closer, footsteps almost indecipherable against the forest floor. He made sure the venerable Kunlun-jun was truly asleep before he laid his little offering just beside Kunlun-jun.

After making sure the little offering won't be displaced, the little ghost king scrambled away then kneeled a few ways away from the dozing Kunlun-jun and the slowly relaxing dark creature, a tiny triumphant smile on his face. The wind blew around the small clearing, lightly ruffling the little ghost king’s hair and clothes, as if saying, ‘Good job.’

Xiao Wei ducked his head.

Soon, Kunlun-jun stirred, bleary eyes opening and catching sight of an almost-vibrating-with-excitement little ghost king who, the god noted with a slight quirk of his mouth, was fiddling with his fingers. Raising an eyebrow in amusement, Kunlun rose into a sitting position. A weight by the side of his head made Kunlun pause as he felt that something was pushing his hair back by his right ear. A faint purr of mirth came from his lap and Kunlun retaliated by playfully flicking the dark feline’s ear with an ease that could be seen after repeated actions.

With a surprised blink, the ancient god raised a hand to touch what was placed near his ear and brushed against a small object. Strong fingers lightly swept downwards, the smooth giving way to a rough texture before grasping the end. Delicately bringing the small thing into his line of sight, the venerable Kunlun-jun threw his head back and laughed, the sound breaking the soft quiet.

Seeing the wide smile on the god's face, the little ghost king felt something in his chest warm which made him pause. Xiao Wei rubbed a hand on that itchy spot, eyes peering downward in puzzlement. 

The dark creature bristled at the noise, huffing once he was forced out of his light doze. Jumping to Kunlun-jun’s shoulders, sharp feline eyes scrutinizing what made Kunlun guffaw like that. There, cradled between long fingers, was a bough bearing fresh leaves and red berries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(In another life, in another time, under a blooming plum blossom tree

stood a jar of wine and two cups,

a sense of grief and longing

enveloping the air.) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even before Shen Wei could round the corner leading to the spacious yard of the Special Investigation Department, he knew that Zhao Yunlan, the SID’s Chief, was happily tending to his vegetable garden and most likely waiting for Shen Wei to finish his classes for the day. Shen Wei was proven right when his line of sight immediately went to the crouching figure of one Zhao Yunlan, prompting for his usually serious face to soften. A small sun flared in his chest, an ocean of affection spilling from his eyes.

Shen Wei leaned against a nearby wall, observing the way Zhao Yunlan carefully transferred a small patch of lavenders near the steadily growing cucumbers and ready-to-harvest bok choy and white radishes. Sunflowers interspersed with cosmos and sweet peas bloomed along the garden, the bright shades adding a little more life to the vibrant greens. 

As the afternoon sun streamed through the gaps between the leaves of a ginkgo tree, Shen Wei paused. In a burst of creative impulsivity, he straightened and swiftly fiddled with his newly attained smartphone, a gift from Zhao Yunlan. A few seconds later, soft music came from the device. At the sound, Zhao Yunlan looked up, dirty gloved hands halting in patting the soil. Astonished eyes focused on the figure standing by the double doors leading to the garden. 

A big smile bloomed on Zhao Yunlan's face as Shen Wei, taking the mischievous grin as his cue, strode up to him. Zhao Yunlan stood up, waiting for his Shen Wei to draw closer before speaking up. Electricity ran up and down his body, his chest swirling with warmth. A bead of sweat slid down his back, shivering as a small gust of wind went through the garden. Shen Wei stooped down and, with Zhao Yunlan watching with his head tilted in puzzlement, plucked a stray cosmos from the ground.

"Baobei," Zhao Yunlan wiggled his eyebrows, an inkling of what would happen next forming in his mind. Barely restraining his excitement, Zhao Yunlan forced the partially-formed dopey smile into a coquettish smirk. "Why the music?"

A hand was held out to him in response.

Zhao Yunlan perked up. In a flash, he took off his gardening gloves and wrapped one of his arms around Shen Wei's shoulders, raising his other hand expectantly. With little prompting, Shen Wei’s arm slid around the other man’s waist, a hand clutching Zhao Yunlan’s own. Zhao Yunlan felt a thumb rubbing small circles on his hip, his shirt riding just far up for the intimate contact. At the same moment, Zhao Yunlan felt the stem of the cosmos nestle onto the space above his ear, fingers gently brushing against his ear, lingering, before they withdrew. The close proximity and the gestures almost made Zhao Yunlan melt into the embrace, although it was a close thing. A very close thing.

"Shen Wei, ah, Shen Wei!" Zhao Yunlan pretended to swoon, leaning (not melting, mind you—) against Shen Wei and bumping his nose to Shen Wei's chin. The sight of the other’s Adam’s apple bobbing made Zhao Yunlan preen in delight, almost purring out the words, "My, my, you're so forward today!"

Shen Wei blushed up to his ears, tightening his arm around Zhao Yunlan's waist and leading Zhao Yunlan to dance in time with the faint music. "Hush, Yunlan. Do not ruin the moment."

Zhao Yunlan laughed at the reprimand, throwing his head back in glee. "Alright, alright, I won't say anything about this sappy but welcome impromptu dance, baobei."

A pinch to his waist caused Zhao Yunlan to give a startled yelp. Eyebrows flying up in surprised mirth, Zhao Yunlan let out another peal of laughter, oblivious to how Shen Wei was staring with such fondness and consuming love that would have compelled Zhao Yunlan to turn into a love-struck mess (well, more than he was now).

With the last traces of light illuminating their surroundings, two figures—one in a pristine suit, one in filthy denim pants and a button-down shirt and a flower in his hair—swayed and spun to the music, quiet contentment radiating from their very being.