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The first time Zhao Yunlan gets Shen Wei into bed with him, they end up cuddling like two awkward teenagers. That is not to say Zhao Yunlan doesn’t enjoy having Shen Wei’s warm body next to him, even if they are fully dressed right down to Shen Wei’s damn fancy dress socks. It’s just not how he imagined this whole thing going down, with Shen Wei being over ten thousand years old and all. 

Yet, here they are, with Zhao Yunlan as the big spoon and the most badass and fearless warrior in all of Dixing curled up in his arms in fetal position. 

Slight tremors run through Shen Wei every time Zhao Yunlan so much as breathes too hard, so he holds each breath for as long as humanly possible, until he’s dizzy and a little delirious from the lack of oxygen. And they stay like this for a long, long time. 

Zhao Yunlan doesn’t mind. Ever since he became the head of the Special Investigations Department, he has had very little down time. Troublesome Dixingren doesn't give a rat’s ass about his personal life, and quite frankly, he’s happy not having one with the long days and longer nights he spends at the office. That is, until a very well-dressed and soft-spoken professor walked into his life. 

And then to find out that he’s the Hei Pao Shi and that he’s hopelessly in love with Zhao Yunlan. Yeah, suddenly, having a little personal down time doesn’t seem so bad. 

Shen Wei shifts back tentatively, his shoulders tense even as his shoulder blades dig into Zhao Yunlan’s chest, and he sighs. “You must think this is ridiculous,” he mutters, his voice almost petulant. It’s a tone Zhao Yunlan has never heard him use as Professor Shen or Hei Pao Shi, and it would be amusing if Zhao Yunlan wasn’t so worried about not spooking Shen Wei right now. “You must think I’m ridiculous.” 

“Tsk tsk tsk.” Zhao Yunlan pulls back and clucks his tongue, trying for nonchalance even though, yes, he thinks the whole thing is a little ridiculous in a very adorable and very Shen Wei kind of way. “There’s nothing ridiculous about two grown ass men cuddling.”

Shen Wei tenses, then slowly turns around until he’s facing Zhao Yunlan. Or rather, facing Zhao Yunlan’s chest. His cheeks are flushed, his brows knitted, and Zhao Yunlan can’t quite catch his eyes hidden beneath his soft, long lashes. He’s still wearing his glasses, but they sit askew on his tall nose. Yup, fucking adorable is right. 

“Well, this isn’t why I came over,” Shen Wei mumbles, and the colour of his cheeks deepens. 

“Oh?” Zhao Yunlan cocks an eyebrow at Shen Wei and tries to keep the corners of his lips from quirking up into a smirk. “Then why did you come over?”

Shen Wei shrinks into himself further, and Zhao Yunlan genuinely worries for a second if Shen Wei would implode and become a black hole in the middle of his bed. Shen Wei stares at Zhao Yunlan’s chest as if wanting to drill right through him, and when he finally glances up through his lashes, there’s fear and fire in his eyes. 

“Okay okay okay,” Zhao Yunlan says quickly, suddenly fearing for his life just a little. “I won’t tease you anymore, happy?”

Shen Wei’s breath catches, and his brows knit in that adorable way whenever he’s perturbed. “I—”

“I think I just want to cuddle today,” Zhao Yunlan cuts in, and this time he doesn’t try to hide his smile. “The last case really took a lot out of me and none of the little shits stuck around to help with paperwork. Remind me to tell Wang Zheng to dock all their salaries for next month.” 

Shen Wei’s expression softens even as his blush spreads down his neck and past the starched collar of his dress shirt. One day, Zhao Yunlan will find out just how far that blush goes. But until then, he’s content to simply hold Shen Wei in his arms like this. 

===

Today is the day. Today, Shen Wei is going to follow through with his plan and seduce Zhao Yunlan if it’s the last thing he does. 

After the absolute failure of his last attempt that ended with him curled up in Yunlan’s arms, shaking like a newborn calf, Shen Wei decided enough was enough. He’s over ten thousand years old. He should be able to do this. He’s a man, isn’t he? 

But just the thought of it sets Shen Wei’s skin burning, and he sticks his hands into his trouser pockets to keep them from shaking. He’s done all the research, compiled everything he can get his hands on regarding sexual pleasure, and cross referenced all that data with what he believes Yunlan would enjoy. All that’s left is to put his research into practice, and Shen Wei didn’t become a professor by shying away from hard work. 

“Shen Wei?” a familiar voice calls out from behind him. 

Shen Wei’s heart skips a beat even as dark energy swirls beneath his skin in excitement. He quells that roiling wave of power, takes a deep breath, and turns to face the object of his love and, currently, absolute terror. 

Zhao Yunlan saunters toward him with his hands tucked into the back pockets of his jeans. His eyes are crinkled in smile, and one side of his cheek protrudes as he sucks on yet another lollipop. Sometimes Shen Wei wonders if Yunlan is simply trading his teeth for his lungs. At least a rotten tooth can be replaced while lung cancer would kill him. 

“Hei laoge.” Zhao Yunlan stops in front of Shen Wei and grins. He plucks the lollipop from his mouth, then runs his tongue across his lips. “What are you doing standing in front of my apartment?” Zhao Yunlan pushes past Shen Wei and sticks his key into the lock. “If you want in, no need to be polite. We both know something as trivial as a door can’t stop you.”

“It’s a matter of respect,” Shen Wei replies, and he’s glad his voice is steady. “Your home is your private space.”

Zhao Yunlan pushes open the door, then turns and looks over his shoulder at Shen Wei, his eyes glinting with infinite mischief. “Oh, you know exactly how I feel about you in my private space.” 

Shen Wei’s face burns, and every muscle in his body tenses as if ready to flee. His heart pounds like thunder in his ears, and suddenly, it’s like he’s back on the battlefield. Only this time, all he has is a pair of glasses, and they can’t quell his fears. 

As if sensing his distress, or maybe dread really is written all over Zhen Wei’s face, Zhao Yunlan’s salacious expression softens, and he beckons with a tilt of his head. “C’mon in.” 

He strolls into his apartment without a backwards glance. Shen Wei looks into Zhao Yunlan’s disastrously messy apartment, then turns and looks at the door to his own place. Is it too late to go back? To regroup and try again later? Can he actually follow through with what he wants to do with his body thrumming for a fight and his heart ready to burst out of his chest? 

Anger rushes through him, and Shen Wei clenches both hands into fists. He’s the Hei Pao Shi, and he’s never run away from anything his whole life. He’s faced impossible odds and even looked into the eyes of Death himself. He can do this. He must. 

Besides, it’s Yunlan waiting for him beyond this door. Yunlan, whom he’s been searching for since the day he woke up, and has been yearning for since the day he laid eyes on him over ten thousand years ago. And now, everything he’s ever wanted is within his grasp. 

All he has to do is take a step and reach for it. 

With a deep breath, Shen Wei walks into Zhao Yunlan’s apartment and shuts the door behind him. Zhao Yunlan is sitting on the couch, his feet kicked up on his peculiar coffee table. He’s looking over his shoulder—as if he’s been waiting for Shen Wei to come in the whole time—and grins the minute he lays eyes on Shen Wei. 

“Took you long enough,” Zhao Yunlan chides, then turns back and sinks deeper into the couch. 

Shen Wei takes off his suit jacket and drapes it across the back of the couch. He rolls up his shirt sleeves, then heads straight for the kitchen sink, where a mountain of dirty dishes fills it to the brim. “Have you eaten dinner?” he asks as he turns on the tap and grabs the sponge and dish soap. 

There’s a moment of silence as Shen Wei fills the sink. He wants to turn around, but he’s scared of what he’d see. Would it be more terrifying to have Yunlan’s eyes locked on him or have him be indifferent to Shen Wei’s existence? 

“No, not yet,” Zhao Yunlan replies eventually, and Shen Wei lets out the breath he didn’t know he was holding. “You?”

“No.” Shen Wei picks up a dirty plate and starts to scrub it with the soapy sponge. 

“Really? This late?” Zhao Yunlan says with disbelief in his voice. “Are my bad habits rubbing off on you?”

“If you know not eating properly is a bad habit, then why don’t you try breaking it?” Shen Wei rolls his eyes despite the fact Yunlan can’t see him, or maybe it’s because Yunlan can’t see that he’s allowing himself this small, silly act. After all, it’s unseemly to roll one’s eyes. 

“If I do, you’d have no more reasons to nag me.” 

Shen Wei chuckles and shakes his head as he reaches for another dirty dish. “I’m sure I will find other things to nag you about.”

“Hey,” Zhao Yunlan barks, “don’t be an asshole.”

Shen Wei looks over his shoulder and raises an eyebrow at Zhao Yunlan, and he’s rewarded with a shit-eating grin. “Maybe you are rubbing off on me,” Shen Wei says without thinking, and when Zhao Yunlan’s eyes pop with genuine shock, he turns back to the dirty dishes, his face burning. 

Where did that even come from? Is Yunlan’s petulance actually rubbing off on him? Shen Wei doesn’t get a chance to ponder when warmth presses up against his back, and his breath hitches as a pair of strong hands settle on his hips. 

“You know,” Zhao Yunlan whispers, his breath hot and his lips soft as they brush across the shell of Shen Wei’s ear. “It’s not so bad, me rubbing off on you. I kinda like it.” Zhao Yunlan rests his chin on Shen Wei’s shoulder even as his arms encircle Shen Wei’s waist in a firm embrace. 

Shen Wei drops the dish he’s holding, and he’s grateful for the water catching it. Having Yunlan so close to him so soon isn’t part of his plan. Having Yunlan’s hands on him, fingers and palm burning through the cotton of his dress shirt and vest isn’t part of the plan. What is the plan? Shen Wei can’t remember as heat spreads from his back until he’s consumed by it. Until Yunlan is all around him, surrounding him and suffocating him like fire and dust. 

And they’re only hugging. 

Shen Wei takes a shaky breath. He reaches for Yunlan’s forearms, his wet, soapy hands slipping on Yunlan’s bare skin, and that simple skin-to-skin contact sets his heart pounding up a storm against his ribcage. This isn’t the first time he’s touched Yunlan’s bare arm, but it’s different somehow. So warm. So intimate. So Incredible.

“Hei laoge,” Yunlan murmurs, and his beard brushes across Shen Wei’s cheek. “Did you really come over this late just to wash my dishes?” 

Shen Wei swallows and wills his tongue to work. “If I don’t wash them, they’ll never get done. Do you want ants?”

Zhao Yunlan snorts. “I didn’t know ants bothered you so much, Hei laoge.” 

“It’s—” Shen Wei’s mind goes blank when Yunlan’s lips brush across his neck. 

“Hei laoge,” Zhao Yunlan murmurs against Shen Wei’s neck, each word a ghostly kiss pressed tenderly across Shen Wei’s pulse point. “Your heart’s pounding really fast.” 

“En,” is all Shen Wei can manage as he suppresses the urge to bolt. 

He wants more, so much more, wants everything Yunlan will give him, but he’s also scared. More scared than he’d ever been. He doesn’t know why, doesn’t understand this gut-churning fear when he knows Yunlan wouldn’t hurt him. Knows that Yunlan is his safe place. 

“Hei laoge.” Zhao Yunlan’s lips continue to brush across Shen Wei’s skin, leaving behind a trail of gooseflesh. Shen Wei can barely breathe, his lungs constricting even as he tries to force air in them. “Hei laoge, don’t be afraid.” 

The words hang in the infinitesimal space between them like gleaming pearls, and Shen Wei sucks in a sharp breath. No one has ever told him to not be afraid, because no one has ever seen him tremble in fear. His mask hides his terror, and the speed of his sword negates the tremors in his hands as he strikes down his enemies. 

No one has ever told him to not be afraid because no one knows how he fears. 

But Yunlan knows. 

Yunlan knows so much more than he lets on. Sees so much more than he has any right to, but Shen Wei can’t help but be vulnerable around him even when he has his own secrets to keep. 

“Hei laoge,” Zhao Yunlan whispers in Shen Wei’s ear, his voice husky, his breath too hot to bear. “Hei laoge.” 

Shen Wei trembles, but it’s not out of fear this time as Yunlan’s Hei laoge wraps around him and sinks into his bones. Yunlan’s arms tighten around him, and his hands traverse across Shen Wei’s torso as if he’s mapping out every last inch of him. Explorative fingers dig and knead, and when they brush across Shen Wei’s nipples through his shirt and vest, a keening whimper escapes Shen Wei’s lips. 

He’s afraid, terrified, but he wants to be here. 

“Hei laoge, wait here.” 

And the heat that’s slowly devouring Shen Wei disappears, leaving him shaken and gasping as he grips the counter with numb fingers. If he was afraid before with Yunlan pressed up against him, now he’s petrified with Yunlan gone. Cold presses in on him, surrounds him in that uncomfortable yet familiar way like he’s being buried alive. 

Shen Wei grips the counter tighter, and it takes every ounce of his willpower to not allow any dark energy to escape and destroy Yunlan’s apartment. Yunlan doesn’t leave him waiting for long, though, and when that warmth spreads back across his back, Shen Wei sags with relief. 

“Hei laoge,” Yunlan coos. God, but Yunlan must know what it does to him when he calls him that in that voice. “Sorry for the wait.”

He reaches around Shen Wei and removes his glasses, but before Shen Wei can protest, something dark and soft covers his eyes. The fabric is cool against his burning skin. It blocks out the glow of the artificial light in the kitchen, and as Yunlan secures the fabric around his head, it soothes the fears eating away at his mind and heart. 

The world quiets just like the first time he donned his mask. Except, there’s no sounds of carnage, no cries of anguish and pain, only the rasp of Yunlan’s breath next to his ear as he gathers Shen Wei back into his arms, his front to Shen Wei’s back. 

Yunlan kisses the back of Shen Wei’s neck, sending a tremor through him, then takes Shen Wei’s hand and leads him away from the kitchen counter. Shen Wei, used to the darkness, doesn’t need light to navigate, but he doesn’t send out tendrils of energy to guide him. Instead, he puts himself in Yunlan’s hands, trusting that Yunlan wouldn’t let him trip or bump into anything.

They make their way slowly to Yunlan’s bed. A fresh wave of fear wells up when Yunlan gently pushes him onto the soft mattress. He expects Yunlan to get on the bed with him, but the bed doesn’t dip. A hand presses against his chest, the touch grounding, then something bigger chases away his fear when Yunlan opens the first button of Shen Wei’s vest. 

Yunlan undoes the buttons slowly, taking more care than Shen Wei thought possible, and with every button undone, another jolt of something exhilarating thrills through him until he’s vibrating with it. Shen Wei grows light headed, and he finally lets out a shaky breath before taking in another. Yunlan chuckles, the sound a beacon in Shen Wei’s darkened world, and realization rocks through him. 

Whether it was ten thousand years ago or now, Yunlan has always been his beacon.

And suddenly, Shen Wei doesn’t want to live in the darkness anymore. He rips off his blindfold—one of Yunlan’s sleep shirts—and grabs the front of Yunlan’s shirt, yanking him in for a crushing kiss. 

Yunlan flails, his eyes wide with shock even as Shen Wei’s lips crash into his. They hang like this, their lips smooshed together, for a fraction of a second before Yunlan chuckles, then he parts his lips and thoroughly devours Shen Wei’s mouth. 

Shen Wei may be over ten thousand years old, but he’s never kissed anyone before. It’s not that he didn’t want to, he just never had the chance, and after meeting Kun Lun, who turned out to be Yunlan, he never wanted to kiss anyone else but him. And now he’s doing exactly that, and it’s so much better than he ever thought possible. 

Yunlan’s mouth is hot, his tongue demanding yet gentle, and he kisses like he does everything else: with passion and purpose. He crawls on top of Shen Wei, and Shen Wei is only too happy to let Yunlan push him down, let him sit astride his hips so he can kiss Shen Wei in ways Shen Wei didn’t know he liked to be kissed. 

After months of cat and mouse, after months of pining and missed opportunities and love confessions and even time travel, it’s finally come down to this one single kiss. To this one single moment where for the first time in Shen Wei’s life, he’s not afraid. He’s not alone. 

Sometime during their exploration of each other's mouths, they both lose their shirts, and when Yunlan drops on top of Shen Wei, his bare chest pressed against Shen Wei’s own bare skin, the world rights itself. Yunlan lies on top of Shen Wei, his solid weight keeping Shen Wei’s fears at bay. 

Yunlan’s lips trail wet lazy kisses across Shen Wei’s collar bones and down his chest, then back up again, and they don’t move past this. All of Shen Wei’s seduction plans fly out the window, but he doesn’t mind, because as long as he’s here with Yunlan, this is enough.