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new are the days before us

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"Well, it's not just the two of us, there's also…"

"Da Qing and which army to feed, exactly," Zhao Yunlan asks, but breaks that off with a laugh before Shen Wei can actually start frowning from across the minor ocean of food he's prepared.

Just as well that they'd picked a bigger table than the one in Zhao Yunlan's old apartment in case of visitors. It's pretty hilarious, actually, because he's never seen Shen Wei misjudge portion sizes this badly even when stress-cooking. Or worry-cooking.

(Is that a word? Probably not. He's decided it is now, anyway.)

Zhao Yunlan waves a hand carelessly. "Eh, we can probably portion up the extras for the team. Or maybe find a soup kitchen. Probably good to have leftovers for the new year or something too, right?"

Shen Wei looks scandalised at this egregious disrespect of tradition, which is par for the course given he's researched more about it over the past month than Zhao Yunlan has ever known in his entire life. "That applies to rice. And fish, symbolically."

"Good thing we've got plenty of both, then!" Zhao Yunlan gestures expansively at the table as he sidles around it. "Besides, that's the real benefit of hotpot – convenient and you can always use any extras to fancy up your other cooking."

Shen Wei eyes his approach with completely uncalled-for wariness. "Such as…?"

Zhao Yunlan blinks too-innocently. "Instant noodles?"

"We are not having that disgrace for the new year, Zhao Yunlan," Shen Wei says immediately in his stern oh-yeah-definitely-the-Envoy voice, never mind the extremely snuggly-looking vest he's wearing.

Unfortunately(?) for him, Zhao Yunlan finds that contrast immensely attractive in the right frame of mind, and these days he's built an entire house to live in right there. It's the exact opposite of a problem.

"Didn't know there were rules about that too," he teases, and Shen Wei huffs a sigh as Zhao Yunlan buries his grin against the vest. Which is somehow even more comfortable than he'd thought, and now he can't stop thinking about the new clothes Shen Wei had bought for tomorrow but refused to let him see and wow, would it be inauspicious to have a nosebleed on the first day of the year?

Who's he kidding, it probably is. He should ask Shen Wei beforehand just in case.

Dinner first, though; he's got priorities and the broth smells mouthwatering even if he hadn't already known how much time Shen Wei had put into making it.

"But don't underestimate how much we can demolish tonight first," Zhao Yunlan mumbles into the soft knit, curling his arms around that familiar weight. "Happy new year, Xiao Wei."

A light ruffle against his hair, and Zhao Yunlan smiles into the moment's breath before Shen Wei returns the hug. "Happy new year, Yunlan."