“Hey, can you do the hair thing?”
Surprised and confused, Shen Wei twisted from where he’d been leaning down to pull his socks off. He was back from a morning run, unnecessary to maintain his physique but good for clearing his head. Zhao Yunlan was sprawled, naked and perfect, across their bed, morning sunlight painting his skin gold. The University was on a week-long break for Golden Week, and they had no plans for the day, though that didn’t mean Zhao Yunlan might not get a surprise call about a case. Slow days at home usually meant sleeping in, making love, kissing and holding and touching and reveling in together , a feeling neither of them had, or likely ever would, get enough of, but sometimes Shen Wei still needed a few minutes to himself. He’d been alone for so long , sometimes having even Zhao Yunlan around was too visceral, too real, too terrifying close to being really, truly, utterly seen .
Zhao Yunlan offered no further explanation in response to Shen Wei’s expression; indeed, he cocked a smile, raised an eyebrow, waved a hand idly in a “get on with it” gesture.
“Hair…thing…?” Shen Wei finally managed. He couldn’t believe he used to consider himself eloquent, though, he dared anyone to form coherent sentences when faced with such a fine, sexy, splendid vision.
“You know - when you make it long? You did it a few times when we were still…you know…” Zhao Yunlan pursed his lips, searching for a word.
“...courting?” Shen Wei offered, remembering the couple of times vividly.
“...sorting our shit out,” finished Zhao Yunlan. “But since…” Uncomfortable, Shen Wei shrugged and looked away. “Aw, fuck, don’t be like that baobei - if it makes you sad, I won’t bring it up ever again. Is this one of those Kunlun things?”
Shaking his head, Shen Wei caught his lip between his teeth and tried to find the words, wondered if he should even attempt to find the words. It was sort of a “Kunlun thing,” in that looking like that was too reminiscent of the past, but it also was entirely a “Shen Wei thing,” because over the centuries, wearing his hair long had become such a symbol of solitude. To maintain hair as a mortal did - cleaning it, combing it, learning to wield a weapon without getting tangled in it - was work that reminded Shen Wei far too much of past happier times when Kunlun would assist him. To maintain hair as an immortal could - with magic to remove blood and dirt and the rare knot - was easy, but felt so wrong . Thus, he went through the daily trial of sitting before a mirror, using the comb Kunlun had used to smooth the thick, black tresses, and remembering that brief, wonderful period of his unlife when there’d been someone to do this for him.
Cutting it off to fit with modern fashion had been a relief, when he’d gone to a mortal barber, let them use metal scissors, gone through the motions of fitting in.
Cutting it off to fit with modern fashion had hurt as terribly as though he’d cut out his own heart.
Too terrifying close…
“Words, Shen Wei. Any words. There’s nothing you can say that’ll…I don’t even know what you’re hesitating over so fuck if I know how to reassure you that whatever it is won’t happen…but regardless, like, if you don’t say anything, how’m I supposed to know how to fix it?”
…to being really…
“There are some things even you can’t fix,” murmured Shen Wei, reaching up to run fingers through the short-trimmed cut. It was dry despite the heat and his run; sweat was for mortals.
… truly …
“Try me,” said Zhao Yunlan, and while there was a laugh at the end, Shen Wei recognized the utter seriousness of his words.
… utterly …
Pivoting to face the bed once more, Shen Wei ignored the cornucopia of delights suggested by Zhao Yunlan’s body and instead met his dark eyes. “Please, Shen Wei.”
With a grimace, Shen Wei tore his gaze away. Zhao Yunlan hardly ever actually asked for things for himself, and especially hardly ever said please , usually it took the heights of coitus and desperate need for touch on sensitive skin to force a plea from him. For him to ask for this…as if Shen Wei could deny him anything! With the merest moment’s concentration, he conjured his hair long again. Tresses tumbled down his back, pooled on the white sheets, one slipping to lie across Zhao Yunlan’s thigh. Zhao Yunlan made a noise Shen Wei couldn’t ascribe meaning to and sat up abruptly, shaking the mattress as he took up a position, cross-legged, behind Shen Wei.
“What are you--”
Zhao Yunlan raised a hand, his fingers long and slender and beautiful. Oh, how Shen Wei longed to hold them, suck on them, feel them running over his skin, feel them run over his bare skin, feel them thrust into him, feel them--
Feel them comb through his hair.
Silken strands slid over calloused skin, and Shen Wei barely managed to bite a moan back into a sigh. The lengths finally fell free as Zhao Yunlan reached their ends; his hand returned, his other hand joining, both starting at Shen Wei’s neck. He gathered the loose waves as though about to bind them in a ponytail, nails skimming lightly over the sensitive skin of Shen Wei’s neck, and then skimmed to the bottom again.
Then, he did it again.
Pleasure and comfort, profound and replete, settled like a warm embrace around Shen Wei’s body. The feeling invoked such profound serenity that it was frightening, such calm bliss that Shen Wei tensed.
The motion shifted him, and Zhao Yunlan froze in response, hands near the base of Shen Wei’s spine. A shiver coursed through him, forced a disappointed sound through Shen Wei’s lips.
“I’m…I’m getting mixed messages here,” said Zhao Yunlan helplessly. “Words, Shen Wei?”
“No one…” Shen Wei shuddered, squeezed his eyes shut, opened them again with a harsh exhale. “Since…since then …no one has…”
He couldn’t see it.
Even with Kunlun then, even with Yunlan now, even after everything , he couldn’t face being seen.
“No one’s played with your hair since Kunlun died,” Zhao Yunlan finished for him. Shen Wei confirmed it with a single nod. “Well, then, this is quite an occasion! What do you say, we can braid it, maybe make flower crowns, pick out some nail polish, talk about which boys we like--”
“There’s only one man I love , one man I’ve ever loved,” interrupted Shen Wei seriously.
Zhao Yunlan laughed. “Aw, baobei, you’re the sweetest liar, but that’s not the point - it was a joke, it’s like how girls act at school when they’re doing each other’s hair, ya know?” Turning to him yet again, Shen Wei gave him a hard look. “Right, duh, of course you wouldn’t know.”
“Liar?” Shen Wei said. Zhao Yunlan tried to give him an innocent look; that eyelash batting thing was probably another lesson learned from those girls at school, damn them. “I’m the sweetest liar ? Who else do you think I’ve loved?”
“Just forget it,” muttered Zhao Yunlan, shifting and raising his hands so he could resume his gentle combing.
“Never.” Shen Wei turned farther, placed a hand on Zhao Yunlan’s chin, drew him into a soft kiss. A helpless noise escaped Zhao Yunlan and Shen Wei swallowed it down, starved for Zhao Yunlan though they’d been intimate just that morning. Shen Wei would never get enough. “I’ll never forget it - forget you - and I’ll never let you forget how much you mean to me, or shrug it off, or act like it’s no big deal, or ignore it.”
“I adore you, Zhao Yunlan. Not a memory from the past. Not a doppelganger. Not a replacement. My feelings for Kunlun were…are…complicated, which makes moments like this, like my…” He scooped up the dangling strands of hair and let them slip, smooth and flawless, through his fingers. “...difficult for me. But. I thought I knew what love was before, but worship wasn’t love. What I feel now…it’s all for you. For you !”
Zhao Yunlan’s eyes went wide, his chest going still mid-breath…and then he was moving, fast and desperate, drawing Shen Wei into another kiss, another, another, his hands playing through Shen Wei’s hair and rubbing down his back with every urgent shift of lips on lips. As he reached the trailing ends of hair, he grabbed for the edge of Shen Wei’s shirt, tugging at it, failing to get it off while keeping their mouths joined. He tried again, and combed the hair, and again, and combed the hair, then finally snorted in frustration.
“Has anyone ever told you that you wear way too much clothing?” he groused.
“You, all the time.” Shen Wei smiled.
“Well, it’s still tr--”
A burst of magic evaporated Shen Wei’s running outfit. Oh, but he’d forgotten how soft, yet ticklish, yet warm, yet chill-inspiring, it felt to have his hair fall over his own bare shoulders, his back, his chest.
“Oh, fuck yeah,” breathed Zhao Yunlan, lying back and drawing Shen Wei with him.
“Not yet,” Shen Wei replied blandly. “But very soon, I expect so.” Zhao Yunlan barked a surprised laugh as Shen Wei settled over him, straddled him, arched forward to kiss him again. Their erections bumped, flaring pleasure through Shen Wei, and he leaned back to work on getting to the “fuck” part of their morning sooner rather than later, only to freeze, arrested by the gorgeous vision before him. Hair tumbled about them, draping over Zhao Yunlan’s gorgeous chest, pooling in the fine divots of his exquisite musculature, making ringlets on the surrounding sheets that framed him like a model from a classical painting.
“Absolutely gorgeous ,” he whispered…only to realize that Zhao Yunlan had spoken too, spoken the same words at the same moment, was staring at him with the same wonder with which Shen Wei gazed upon him.
Zhao Yunlan looked upon him.
“I mean it, baob…Shen Wei. Fuck, I love you.”
Zhao Yunlan looked at him, squarely, without the least hesitation or reluctance, without the least suggestion of fear or hint of disguise - naked, unafraid, exposed, vulnerable, astonishingly trusting.
“I love you so much .”
And Shen Wei was seen .
And, somehow, it wasn’t frightening at all.
“Now, are you gonna fuck me, or what?”
It was splendid, as splendid as seeing Zhao Yunlan was.
“If I said ‘or what,’ what would you do?”
Maybe, given enough years, enough eons, Shen Wei would even come to see himself as he knew Zhao Yunlan saw him, as he saw his own reflection in Zhao Yunlan’s eyes when Zhao Yunlan looked adoration and desire at him.
“Assume you’d been possessed. As if you’ve ever turned down this ass when offered.”
Zhao Yunlan had him there.
Zhao Yunlan had him, everywhere, for always.
And Shen Wei wouldn’t have it any other way.