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Ye Zun is breathing heavily as he throws himself onto the bed next to his partner. The sweat and fluids are going to get annoying soon, but he has a couple of minutes to bask in the afterglow. Which reminds him.

“I win,” he pants.

A flailing limb hits him somewhere in the rib region with about as much strength as a kitten’s swat. “Fuck you.”

The laugh that escapes him is a little more breathless than Ye Zun would like, normally. Thankfully, these are special circumstances. Or, considering the number of times they’ve done this already, a very special kitty.

Ye Zun tips his head to look over, making sure to flash a smirk as he says, “Didn’t I just do that?”

Da Qing scowls at him.

Ye Zun snickers faintly before leaning in to kiss him again. Da Qing, of course, rewards him by biting his bottom lip. Ye Zun has a remedy for that. He cups the back of Da Qing’s neck and keeps licking at Da Qing’s mouth until Da Qing lets him back in. A couple of scritches at the back of his head, and Da Qing is practically melting into the kiss.

Da Qing is easy, really, when you know what makes him tick. Ye Zun is an expert in kitten wrangling by now, especially his little Da Qing. Why, he’s practically purring under Ye Zun’s touch – which has no business being as cute as it is, but at least Ye Zun is the only one around to hear it. He would hate to have to murder someone for eavesdropping.

It’s a wonderful day. The sun is shining, and he’s got a cute boy in his arms who he just might get to agree to another round. Nothing could possibly ruin this moment.

His phone chooses that moment to start vibrating on the bedside table.

Ye Zun pauses. Only three people have that number. One of them is with him right now, and only one of the other two would feasibly reach out to him.

“Hang on, kitten,” he says as he reaches for the other side of the bed. Of course, it stops vibrating the second he gets his hands on it. That’s just typical.

Da Qing is visibly sulking when he says, “Told you to stop calling me that.”

“What, because ‘kitty cat’ is better?” Ye Zun snickers as he unlocks his phone. He has one missed call from Shen Wei. Before he has the time to wonder why his brother would be calling him now, of all times, a text rolls in, telling him that he has a voice message waiting for him. He frowns.

“Yeye?”

“One sec, kitty,” he says, knowing full well that he sounds distracted. He brings up his voice mail and waits for it to connect.

It could be nothing. Shen Wei leaves him messages all the time. Ye Zun has told him to get a cell phone already, but Shen Wei remains stubbornly against them. Not even Shen Wei’s twinky boyfriend could convince him otherwise. And yet...

He selects the only message waiting for him and waits for Shen Wei’s voice to start playing.

The message is short – barely ten words, if that. And yet, it’s arguably the worst thing Ye Zun has ever heard, and he’s walked in on Shen Wei fucking Zhao Yunlan through the mattress.

“Ye Zun?”

Ye Zun lowers the phone and stares at it until the screen goes dark. Now that the endorphins are dying down, he can almost feel the anguish reaching out for him at the other end of the twin bond.

The bed creaks faintly as Da Qing moves. “Is everything ok?”

“I have to go.”

“What?”

Ye Zun swings his legs off the mattress and pushes himself out of bed, already mentally hunting down his clothes. His jeans are the closest, having been one of the last items off. His underwear is still mostly tangled in the jeans.

In the time it takes him to untangle the two and put both on, Da Qing has scrambled out of bed and grabbed his arm. Ye Zun stops, one hand clenched tightly in the collar of his shirt. At least, he thinks it’s his shirt. He hasn’t really bothered to check. He has more important things to worry about.

“Hey,” Da Qing pulls him around by the arm and looks up at him. If he’s bothered by the fact that he’s naked, he doesn’t look it. “Talk to me. What’s going on?”

Ye Zun’s hand tightens around his shirt. “Gege just broke up with Xiao Yunlan.”

Da Qing stares at him. “What?!”

 


 

It starts raining as soon as he steps outside because of course it does. Ye Zun flips off the sky more at autopilot than anything else as he hurries towards his brother’s apartment. Today had to be the day he forgot his umbrella, didn’t it?

Even rushing from awning to awning does little in the way of shielding him from the rain. He might as well not have bothered considering he couldn’t be wetter if he’d tried to swim in the ocean during a monsoon. He’s going to leave puddles everywhere he goes, possibly for days, but he doesn’t care. Shen Wei needs him. Everything else is secondary – if that. He doesn’t even care that people are probably staring. Let them look.

It's a shame that the doors are automatic, or Ye Zun would have been able to burst through them dramatically. Instead, he’s forced to wait for them to open before rushing into the building. He takes the stairs because he has no patience to waste on the slow elevators.

It feels like it takes him years to reach the third floor, decades by the time he’s hammering on Shen Wei’s door, centuries by the time Shen Wei finally opens the door. Strangely, though Ye Zun is the one that undoubtedly looks like a drowned rat, Shen Wei is the one that looks like he should be gasping for breath.

Shen Wei opens his mouth, but Ye Zun doesn’t let him speak. “What happened?” he says as he herds his stupid brother over to the couch and forces him to sit down. He turns away from Shen Wei just long enough to close the door before turning back to his mess of a twin.

“You are soaked,” Shen Wei says, and even his voice sounds distant, like he’s talking from far away or underwater. “I will get you a towel.”

“I can get my own goddamn towels,” Ye Zun snaps. He points angrily. “You stay right there!”

Shen Wei slowly sinks back down onto the couch.

Ye Zun stalks into the bathroom and grabs Shen Wei’s guest towels. He takes his bounty to Shen Wei’s bedroom and grabs the first items he can find in Shen Wei’s drawers. He changes quickly, drying himself haphazardly as he goes.

One of the perks of having an identical twin is that they don’t have to worry about clothes not fitting the other, though Shen Wei’s shirts are a little looser on the arms than the ones Ye Zun usually wears. How Shen Wei can stomach exercising, Ye Zun will never know. All that sweating, and for what? No thank you.

Ye Zun walks out of the bedroom with one towel around his shoulders and his wet clothes wrapped in the other towel. He ducks back into the bathroom to hang everything to dry before stalking back to deal with his idiot brother.

“What happened?” he asks as he throws himself down onto the couch next to Shen Wei. He goes back to trying to pat his hair dry – or, well, dryer, at least.

Shen Wei blinks at him, and even that looks off. “I called you, did I not? We ended our relationship.”

“Why do you think I’m here?” Ye Zun says, only just holding himself back from snapping. “Why do you think I’m asking what happened, huh, gege? You were two seconds from proposing to the twink, so what the hell did he do to make you call it quits?”

Shen Wei blinks again. “Why are you so certain I was the one to end things?”

“Because there is nothing you could do that would make him drop you like a hot potato,” Ye Zun says. “Even if he cheated on you, he’d rather try to make it up to you.” He stills.

Shen Wei isn’t looking at him anymore.

“Gege. Don’t tell me he -”

“Of course not, didi.” But Shen Wei is pulling off his glasses and leaning forward to place them on the coffee table. His eyes look even bigger and more lost like this. He leans back and places his hands on his knees, as natural-looking as anything. Except he’s clearly gripping them hard enough that it has to hurt. “It was simply...time.”

“Time,” Ye Zun echoes dully.

“Yes.” Shen Wei sounds as hollow as he looks. “I have to focus on my studies, and -”

“You’ve been getting perfect grades when while screwing him through the mattress,” Ye Zun drawls.

“- exams coming up,” Shen Wei says like he didn’t even hear Ye Zun. “Then there is next year’s -”

“Gege!” Ye Zun snaps. “Stop lying to me!”

Shen Wei closes his mouth.

What happened.”

For a minute, Ye Zun thinks Shen Wei isn’t going to answer him. It would be just like him. Shen Wei likes to hide or even directly obfuscate the truth whenever a subject is even slightly uncomfortable for him. Considering Ye Zun knows that Zhao Yunlan means everything to Shen Wei, Ye Zun isn’t surprised. What surprises him is the fact that Shen Wei, in all his protective (and just a little obsessive) glory, managed to let Zhao Yunlan go.

Shen Wei shifts his grip on his knees. “His father passed.”

Ye Zun blinks. “What.”

“Six months ago, now.”

WHAT.

“Yunlan has been having a rough time processing it,” Shen Wei continues. “He is convinced that his father did not commit suicide and has been neglecting his studies and his own health in his search for answers.”

Ye Zun boggles at him. He opens his mouth – to say what? He doesn’t know. But then he remembers a few comments from Da Qing. Even earlier today, Da Qing mentioned something about Zhao Yunlan acting weirder than normal. Ye Zun hadn’t really paid attention. After all, if anyone were to ask Ye Zun, he’d say that Zhao Yunlan acts weird more often than not, but now... Well, it’s a good thing Ye Zun is not actually going out with Da Qing, or he’d officially be the world’s worst boyfriend.

“He began to stop taking my calls. When he did return them, it was usually days later.” Shen Wei looks down at his knees. “He would always apologise, of course, but I could tell that something was distracting him even then.”

“But you’ve – you haven’t been acting weird.” Ye Zun doesn’t babble or stutter. He doesn’t. And he’ll ignore any proof to the contrary. “You’ve been going about your day like normal. I – I didn’t know.”

Shen Wei looks up to give him a familiar, sad little smile.

“You were hiding it from me,” Ye Zun hears himself say. “Of course you did. Dammit, gege!”

Shen Wei doesn’t apologise because of course he doesn’t. Shen Wei loves to keep things to himself, especially when they hurt.

“Then why today?” Ye Zun says, switching tactics. “What was the last straw? Don’t tell me it’s your anniversary and he forgot.”

Shen Wei shakes his head. “Of course not, didi.”

“Then what was it?”

Shen Wei falls silent.

Gege.”

There’s a long moment before Shen Wei speaks again, long enough that Ye Zun is halfway geared up to poke at him again. “It has been seven years,” he says, voice almost dull. “I have to go back.”

Ye Zun stills.

It hasn’t exactly slipped his attention, Shen Wei’s little trips off the reservation. Or, perhaps more accurately, his trips to the reservation. They started, shit, Ye Zun doesn’t even remember how long ago. Whatever Shen Wei does during his little trips is as big of a mystery as most things where Shen Wei is concerned. The only thing that Ye Zun knows about the trips is that Shen Wei leaves looking fucking heartbroken and comes back somehow looking worse. Ye Zun has tried to stop him before, to no avail. His brother is, unfortunately, really fucking stubborn sometimes.

“Gege -”

“I have to, didi,” Shen Wei says. “I promised.”

“What does that have to do with Xiao Zhao?!?”

“Oh, didi.” Shen Wei somehow manages to look both relieved and devastated. “You have forgotten.”

Ye Zun frowns. “What?”

“Perhaps you should come with me this year.”

“What? No!” Ye Zun practically reels back. The towel slips off his shoulders, but he honestly couldn’t care less. “I don’t want to go with you on your annual journey of self-flagellation!”

“Very well,” Shen Wei says, not sounding surprised in the least. “Perhaps your memory will return on its own accord.”

“Uh-huh, sure, gege. Whatever you say.” Ye Zun folds his arms over his chest. “But I still don’t get the Xiao Zhao connection.”

“You will,” Shen Wei says, sounding far too confident for comfort, “in time.”

Ye Zun only just refrains from flipping off his brother. Shen Wei did just break up with the love of his life for reasons unknown. Ye Zun supposes he owes Shen Wei a break. Just this once.

 


 

It’s been two weeks of Ye Zun totally not dodging Da Qing’s calls when it happens. He would love nothing more than to be working out all his pent-up feelings with a cute little kitty in his bed, but things have changed. And Da Qing is undoubtedly on Zhao Yunlan’s side, which means that the second Ye Zun picks up his calls, Da Qing will hit him with all the anger and hurt that should, by rights, be going to Shen Wei. And Ye Zun really doesn’t want to end up screaming back at Da Qing.

It starts innocuously enough. He’s staring blankly at the TV – he doesn’t know what channel is playing, or where the remote is, and he can’t be fucked to look for it – when an ad for a nature documentary comes on. At least, he thinks it’s an ad, but it might as well be the opening to the documentary for all he knows. The sound isn’t on, and, again, he can’t be fucked to find the remote.

That’s when he sees it. The subtitles mention the Kunlun Mountains and it physically hurts as the memories come rushing back. When he’s conscious of something other than pain, he’s hunched forward with his head in his hands and his t-shirt is practically sticking to his back with sweat. He tears the t-shirt from his body and throws it at the TV in disgust.

Gods-fucking-dammit gege!

Whoever said ‘ignorance is bliss’ had no fucking idea how right they were.

 


 

THE END