Shen Wei startles awake at the sound of knocking at the door. He hadn't meant to fall asleep. He remembers putting the towels into the drier and then everything gets a bit fuzzy. He'd meant to start cooking, Zhao Yunlan had insisted he would be home as soon as possible. Shen Wei should at least have food ready since he's been at home the whole day.
He knows Zhao Yunlan would tell him he doesn't have to, but Shen Wei isn't used to just staying at home and not doing anything. And he enjoys cooking for Zhao Yunlan.
There's another knock on the door and Shen Wei startles again, almost having forgotten what woke him up in the first place. He frowns, wondering who it is. Surely, Zhao Yunlan would come in with his own keys and Da Qing rarely uses the door.
The knock sounds again and Shen Wei shakes himself and heads towards the door. It's only when he goes to open it that he realises that at some point he's changed into his dragon form which is far too small to easily manage the door handle. He stares at it for a moment, he could open it with…
Shen Wei stops and frowns, surely the easiest way is to just turn human. And if it's not Da Qing or Zhao Yunlan, or someone else from the SID, then Shen Wei really shouldn't look like a dragon. He really must be tired, if he'd forgotten that.
It takes effort to drag his human shape around him, to make himself that shape. But then, finally, he's standing on his own feet in front of the door. Resolutely he reaches out to open it.
He finds Zhao Yunlan's mother looking at him, hand poised to knock again.
"Shen Wei, you are home!" she says like she might have been doubting that. She smiles warmly at him.
Shen Wei opens his mouth to greet her, and then catches himself before saying anything because he suddenly remembers her admonition to call her 'mom.' "Mom," he says awkwardly and then adds, "Hello."
He can hear how awkward that sounds, but before he manages to try to correct it somehow she's already walked inside and started talking. Shen Wei quietly closes the door.
"A-Lan said you'd be home. I was in the neighbourhood and wanted to come visit. He should be home soon, I think, or so he said. You should be resting, shouldn't you?" The last is said with a small disapproving frown at him. Guilt takes hold of Shen Wei before he manages to read the slight worry in her expression, it reminds him of Zhao Yunlan.
Shen Wei wants to protest that he had been, even if it had been involuntary, before he'd needed to come open the door. But he can't say that to her, it's not her fault Shen Wei isn't feeling well.
Suddenly, his head feels like… like someone is tugging at the back of his skull and Shen Wei reaches out a hand to steady himself against the wall.
In the next moment Zhao Yunlan's mother is holding his arm. "Are you alright? A-Lan said you aren't feeling well," she says, the furrow between her brows looking increasingly worried.
"I'm fine. There was an… accident at… work," Shen Wei says, his words coming out a bit haltingly. Wait, no, that doesn't sound right. He's a university professor.
"A-Lan really shouldn't get you involved in his work," she says disapprovingly, apparently immediately grasping the shape of things. "Are you going to be okay?"
"I just need… rest. The effects will pass," Shen Wei says. He still needs to empty the dryer and he really should get started on dinner.
Zhao Yunlan's mother pats his arm, and says, "Don't you worry. Mom will take care of everything." And Shen Wei realises that he might have said some of that out loud. "Come on, you should at least sit down before you fall over," she says and starts leading Shen Wei towards the living room.
There's still that feeling of someone pulling at the back of his head, the world lurching a bit as he tries to walk. Without quite meaning to, he grasps her arm tighter and has to stop for a moment.
"Shen Wei?" she asks worriedly.
Shen Wei is about to reassure her that it's nothing when to his horror he feels his shape… dissolving around him. No, not now, he thinks desperately, trying to grab hold of his human shape, but it's already too late and in the next moment the far more compact form of a dragon solidifies around him.
For the next moment, all Shen Wei has time to worry about is stopping himself from falling to the ground, as flight suddenly feels like far more effort than it should be. He struggles and somehow manages to keep himself in the air for a moment. He just needs to not plummet down to the ground. He can…
A pair of hands pluck him out of the air carefully and Shen Wei looks up at Zhao Yunlan's mother, feeling shocked.
"You're going to fall," she says resolutely, even though her voice shakes a little.
Shen Wei stares at her. "I'm…" he says because he should say something. He's just changed into a dragon in front of Zhao Yunlan's mother and he can only imagine how much of a shock that must be for her.
"You're very small, aren't you? And skinny. Are you supposed to be this thin?" she asks, words following quickly after another, her voice losing that slight tremble as she keeps on talking.
"I'm…" Shen Wei says again, lifting his head a bit. "This is perfectly fine for a dragon," he says, feeling a bit stupid saying so. He's just… tired. That's it, he's too tired. And not quite thinking straight.
"But you are beautiful. And very cute," she says and Shen Wei feels a bit like preening. And in the next breath she's already talking again, "And you look like you're about to fall asleep," she says briskly, starting to walk again, much faster now that she isn't trying to support an unsteady Shen Wei.
"I'm home," Zhao Yunlan announces as he steps in through the door. He's a tiny bit worried about what he'll find, Shen Wei is still nervous around his mom most of the time, even though he keeps assuring him that his mom adores Shen Wei.
Zhao Yunlan suspects she might like Shen Wei better than him, which is entirely understandable, how could she not love Shen Wei?
But Shen Wei was still feeling tired and disoriented from yesterday when Zhao Yunlan left in the morning (he sort of had to, because someone needed to sort through the aftermath since the Black Cloaked Envoy was very temporarily out of commission) and he isn't all that sure that adding the stress of his mom visiting was the best idea. But he couldn't really tell his mom that she can't visit.
Zhao Yunlan notices the delicious smell coming from the kitchen. He really hopes Shen Wei hasn't overexerted himself, he kind of sucks at resting when Zhao Yunlan isn't there. He's pretty sure Shen Wei thinks he's not allowed to rest, even though he likes napping on Zhao Yunlan in his dragon form. Zhao Yunlan will just keep on telling him that it's okay, especially now that things have settled down so much.
He's abruptly jolted out of his thoughts as his mom appears out of nowhere to whack him on the arm and quietly hiss at him to be quiet.
"He's sleeping," she explains in a hushed whisper, still frowning angrily at him, making it clear that there will definitely be words if his careless entrance has woken Shen Wei.
Zhao Yunlan swallows, his eyes widening as worry shoots through him. Shen Wei would never voluntarily go to sleep while his mom is there.
His mom's face gentles a bit and she gestures towards the living room, which doesn't make Zhao Yunlan feel any less worried. Shen Wei wouldn't sleep and certainly not in the living room when his mom is visiting.
Without a word to his mom Zhao Yunlan hurries into the living room and then comes to an abrupt stop, feeling vaguely bewildered. He can't see Shen Wei at all. He looks at his mom, opening his mouth to ask her, but she's gesturing at the couch looking at him like she can't believe she's raised someone with such lack of observation skills.
Zhao Yunlan looks back and notices the very incongruous pile of towels on the couch. Zhao Yunlan might occasionally leave towels around where he shouldn't, but Shen Wei makes sure they don't stay there for very long. And then he finally realises that there's a small black head peeking out from the towels.
Before he knows it he's down on his knees in front of the couch. "Xiao Wei," he whispers quietly.
"He looked cold, and the towels were still warm from the dryer," his mom says in a hushed voice. There's a distinct note of disapproval in her voice as she says 'dryer' like the word itself tastes bad in her mouth.
Zhao Yunlan has the sudden urge to explain that Shen Wei only uses it for the towels and that Shen Wei wasn't quite sure about even that much. But he bites back the words before he wakes Shen Wei up.
He can't quite stop himself from reaching out a couple of fingers to brush the top of the tiny dragon's head. He needs to know that Shen Wei is okay. He looks like he's sleeping quite peacefully, swaddled inside the towels, but Zhao Yunlan just needs to… touch.
And that's when he finally realises that Shen Wei is a tiny dragon and his mom is right there. He turns his head towards his mom who's looking at them with a soft look on her face, which is swiftly replaced with a frown as Zhao Yunlan looks at her.
"You need to take better care of him. It's a full-time job making sure you don't do anything stupid, the poor thing must be exhausted most of the time," she says in a disapproving whisper.
"You… he…" Zhao Yunlan says. Well, tries to say.
Shen Wei's head bumps against his fingers and Zhao Yunlan turns back to look at him. Shen Wei opens his eyes, looking at him with dark, sleepy eyes. And then bumps his head against Zhao Yunlan's hand again and makes a small warble. Zhao Yunlan quickly rubs his fingers under his chin and then reaches out with both hands to unwrap him from the bundle of towels.
There's a huff from his mom. "I'll be in the kitchen. Dinner will be ready any moment," she says, her voice almost surprisingly gentle. And then, almost like she's talking to herself, but still loud enough for him to hear she adds, "He needs to eat more. I'm still not sure dragons should be that skinny."
And then he hears her footsteps leaving. But he's a bit too busy looking at Shen Wei as he carefully scoops the tiny dragon up into his hands.
"Are you okay, Xiao Wei?" Zhao Yunlan asks quietly, some of the worry still lodged inside him. He'd thought Shen Wei was past the point where he'd have no choice but revert back to a dragon.
Shen Wei warbles quietly and lifts his head a bit like he's trying to look more awake. "Tired," he says after a moment, the sounds slurring together slightly. "But fine."
Then he seems to give up on the effort and lets his head fall back down against Zhao Yunlan's hand. "Your mother…" he mumbles.
"It's okay. I keep telling you she adores you," Zhao Yunlan tells him gently.
Shen Wei makes a small noise and rubs his chin against the pad of Zhao Yunlan's thumb, his eyes closing. Zhao Yunlan suspects that Shen Wei still doesn't quite believe him, but Shen Wei is definitely his mom's favourite. And Zhao Yunlan is definitely going to hug her for taking the whole dragon thing in stride.
His mom is amazing.
"Do you think you can stay awake long enough to eat?" Zhao Yunlan asks quietly because Shen Wei really does need to eat. "My mom will be disappointed if you don't," he adds because he's not above cheating to get Shen Wei to take care of himself.
Shen Wei's body coils slightly, his muscles tightening as he tries to shake himself awake. He opens his eyes to look at Zhao Yunlan. "Of course," he says with adorable determination.
Zhao Yunlan rubs a thumb against the side of Shen Wei's neck. Shen Wei makes a small pleased noise and leans into the touch a bit.
"And after that, you can sleep for as long as you want," he says, heading towards the kitchen where his mom will make sure Shen Wei gets all the food he needs.
Zhao Yunlan will take tomorrow off, so he can stay home and make sure Shen Wei rests. His mom probably wouldn't mind cooking something for tomorrow too.