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No Zhao Yunlan was harmed during a production of this photoshoot

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“Aaaand shot!” Lin Jing’s voice beamed with joy, following the camera flash.

“What a terrible day to have eyes.” Zhu Hong left the room, temporary transformed into a photo set, to bring more not-so-fake blood for special effects.

“Due to unfortunate circumstances I happen to see this every day of my cat life.”

“Now quit this! Or I will cut your bonus!”

“Zhao Yunlan, please stay focused. I would prefer it to end as fast as possible,” Shen Wei sounded calm and collected, hiding his distress under the mask of determination. When Zhao Yunlan announced that they were gonna make a celebration giveaway for each other in the department, and probably other departments as well, he was feeling very enthusiastic. He imagined cozy evening in SID, where they exchange gifts and have happy family time together, which he had never experienced before on this particular foreign holiday. What he got instead was a very provocative photo shoot Zhao Yunlan talked him into, but under Shen Wei’s only condition, that those photos would never ever leave the quarters of SID building. So, there he was, with his deadly claws on full display, hugging his love from behind and (primordial gods help him) pretending to be ripping him apart.

“I live with you, you stupid moron. If you cut my bonus, you’ll have to pay for all my catnips.”

“No catnips for bratty cat,” Zhao Yunlan turned to his husband. “I think we failed on raising our fur-baby.”

Da Qing hissed from where he was sitting in front of monitor, “I told you not to call me like that!”

Lin Jing decided to de-escalate the growing dispute, turning the camera towards Da Qing. “I think this one is quite good.”

“For what? onlyfans? I said it was a horrible idea to make a corporate Halloween calendar if those two were included.”

Shen Wei sighed, burring his face into Zhao Yunlan’s neck. “I’m in a terrible need of washing my hands.”

“Shh, baby, we are not done yet,” Zhao Yunlan kissed Shen Wei’s hair.

“Hmm, maybe it would be more Halloween-ish if Professor Shen pretended to be a vampire, biting Chief’s neck?” Wang Zheng suggested in a soft voice.

Zhao Yunlan pointed a finger in ghost’s direction. “Wang Zheng! A brilliant girl! more spirit money for you.” He patted Shen Wei on head gently. “C’mon, you should bite me. Claws will do for the whole image.”

“Bite you?”

“Shen Wei, you can’t be unfamiliar with vampire concept.” The assumption gained him ‘a look’ from the Professor.

“I am pretty familiar with the concept. I just don’t get the appeal,” Shen Wei cleared out. “But if it would make you happy,” he opened his mouth reluctantly and proceeded to lay it on Zhao Yunlan’s neck, right where it meets the shoulder. “Like dis?” it was hard to talk, while imitating a bite.

Zhao Yunlan giggled, shivering, from where Shen Wei’s tongue tickled his neck.

“Stop it!” Da Qing snapped.

“Whoa? I didn’t say anything,” Zhao Yunlan protested.

“You’ve been thinking loudly.”

Lin Jing looked through the camera at the new posing and grimaced a little. “Doesn’t look convincing.”

Zhao Yunlan frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Well, Professor Shen looks a bit lost.. Like someone who needs to wake up at 6am for morning shift, and his alarm clock just showed that he has 4 hours left to sleep.”

Da Qing snorted from the desk.

“Baobei, come on, we need to provide our greatest performance,” Zhao Yunlan made half of the team facepalm.

Shen Wei raised his head. “I’m trying my best here. It’s just awkward and,” he added in a smaller voice, “too private.”

“Well now, my shy beauty doesn’t want to show off,” Zhao Yunlan smiled at Shen Wei. “Maybe pretend to have an actual bite from my neck, not a classic sucking?”

Da Qing choked on his hair.

Zhu Hong rolled her eyes, dipping her fingers in blood and licking them from boredom.

“Zhu Hong! Don’t waste stage prop,” Wang Zheng confiscated the bucket of bull blood.

“So? You ready?” Lin Jing raised the camera.

“Ready as ever,” Zhao Yunlan arched his back, waiting.

Shen Wei gathered himself and opened his mouth wide.

“HOLY SHIT!” Da Qing fell backwards from desk, hanging on its edge with his claws.

The only noise left in the room was a frantic shooting of camera running wild in speed mode and the metal clang of bucket, hitting the floor and flooding it with blood.

“So?” Lin Jing sat in the chair in front of computer with all the photos transferred from camera for the review. He looked at Zhao Yunlan over his shoulder and waited for an answer.

Beside Zhao Yunlan was Shen Wei, hiding his face in the crook of Chief’s neck and chanting words of self-shame. Zhao Yunlan chuckled at his husband, stroking his head.

“What do you think of the photos?” Zhao Yunlan looked at Lin Jing.

“Is my salary on the line?” Lin Jing asked with concern.

“Absolutely.”

“Oh, boss, the best photographs I ever witnessed, contemporary piece of fine art...”

“Shut up, I’ve just lost my remaining trust in you.”

“They are awful,” Da Qing heard Shen Wei’s groan. “I mean not in an awful-AWFUL way. But in an awful-inappropriate way.”

“Okey, okey. I know I lost my reputation but come on! The photos are cool, and the way Professor’s mouth opened like five times wider than normal... And those.. several...” Lin Jing slowed down under Zhao Yunlan’s glare, “rows of teeth.. Oh, he looks like Venom here!” He pointed at monitor.

Shen Wei was questioning his existence by that point.

“Well, at least they really look like Halloween horror photos,” Wang Zheng said thoughtfully, while Sang Zan was busy cleaning the blood from the floor.

“Why you even got that scared you made a mess, aren’t you dead?” Da Qing looked at the ghost girl.

Wang Zheng glanced sideways at Chief and Professor. “Mm, well, any creature would flee, seeing the ghost king.. Sorry.”

Shen Wei sobbed dramatically.

“There, there, love, not any creature. I personally think you look hot like this,” Zhao Yunlan was eyeing the photos.

“You are a pervert, you have no word on the matter,” Zhu Hong snarked.

“I think we should use one of the first photos made. Before the monster bite,” Lin Jing flinched from the slap on the ear. “Ouch, boss, easy on your IT-manager!”

“I’m losing faith in you with every passing minute.”

“What should I do with the rest photos after I photoshop the needed?”

Shen Wei straightened to look Zhao Yunlan in the eyes.

Judging by the intense stare, Shen Wei was probably waiting for a correct answer from him, and the failure could be fatal. So, Zhao Yunlan decided to go all noble this time, “Erase them, we wouldn’t want someone to see them by accident.”

Shen Wei mouthed “thank you” to his husband and retired to the kitchen area for tea.

Zhao Yunlan waited for Shen Wei to disappear behind the door and started rummaging in his pockets. He took out the flash drive, giving it to Lin Jing, “Do not disappoint me.”

Zhu Hong stuck out her snake tongue, “You are absolutely incorrigible.”

BONUS:

Lin Jing laid down a stock of freshly printed calendars on SID table. Everyone forgot what they were doing and gathered at the pile, snatching themselves a copy.

“Omg! look at this cute little pumpkin!” Wang Zheng laughed, turning the page.

“I’m never doing it again! That was a gambling debt!” Da Qing looked away from his embarrassing photo in a pumpkin costume.

“Wow, would you look at that,” Zhu Hong said with delight, admiring her photo in a bloody bath.

Guo Chang Cheng nearly fainted from the photo of Wang Zheng and Sang Zan, where they pretended to be hanged lovers on a tree, holding hands.

Chu Shuzhi refused to play a zombie, calling it the most trivial idea, Lin Jing could come up with, so they ended up making him a werewolf. He actually loved the outcome but maintained an indifferent face.

While everyone was caught up in the calendars, Lin Jing took a moment to give Shen Wei little something quickly, before returning to the fun. But it failed to go unnoticed by Zhao Yunlan.

“Wait wait wait. What was that?” Zhao Yunlan pointed at Shen Wei.

“Where?” Shen Wei asked innocently, bringing his hands behind him.

Zhao Yunlan narrowed his eyes, “that white package in your hand.”

Shen Wei unfolded his hands with nothing in them. “I don’t understa...” before he could finish, he felt Zhao Yunlan’s hands on his rear, fishing out the white envelope from his back pocket. He desperately tried to form a lie, despite the creeping blush, but Zhao Yunlan was fast to look inside.

“Oh my,” Zhao Yunlan’s smile became sly. “Shen Wei,” he pulled out one of many provocative photos from their set, that should have been deleted by Lin Jing, “you wanted to have something special in a frame?”

Shen Wei covered his reddening face with a palm, adjusting the glasses. He instantly regretted the decision to ask Lin Jing for a printed version, but he just couldn’t manage to download them from some sort of cloud, as if clouds can contain digital information. And since his shameless husband snatched the photos to himself, why couldn’t he have them too, stashed somewhere in the box. “Yunlan!”

“Now what should I do with you? Professor Shen is so scandalous,” Zhao Yunlan refused to give the photos back, enjoying himself.

That’s when the exposure mixed up with irritation in Shen Wei, as he grabbed Zhao Yunlan by the collar, leaning close to his ear, “Acting all smug about your discovery, Ah-lan? As if you haven’t had those photos on your computer since the day we posed for them,” Shen Wei released Zhao Yunlan from his hold, giving him a dangerous look.

Zhao Yunlan was startled, but only for several moments. He smiled devilishly. “Oh, it means I can no longer put on pretense. Let’s watch them together in the evening...”

Shen Wei rolled his eyes, turning towards the rest of the team.

“Baby! Wait! I’ll let you have them back!” Zhao Yunlan followed his husband, “but it will cost you. Shen Wei, come on... Oh, you can’t imagine what I planned for a Christmas photo-shot!”