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always at the brink of the known

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Yunlan might have made a strategic error in planning this evening. He can see that now. Not that it hasn't been pleasant, or that the food hasn't been as delicious as always, or that the company is entirely unwelcome.

But still.

"Damn cat," he mutters. "You can't just invite yourself over for dinner whenever you please." He glares at Da Qing, who's too busy shoveling fish balls into his mouth to really glare back at him.

"You invited me!"

"I did no such thing."

Next to him, Shen Wei clears his throat in an unnecessarily delicate manner. "Are you sure?"

Ah well, it was worth a try. "Well, I might have mentioned that your paper got accepted and that this should be celebrated--"

"That's an invitation," Da Qing exclaims around the food in his mouth, entirely too sure of himself.

"You're always welcome here," Shen Wei says, selecting a few more pieces of chicken to put on Da Qing's plate. "Zhao Yunlan is just forgetting his manners."

"Never had any," Da Qing says, jerking his chin at Yunlan before wiping sauce off his mouth with the back of his hand.

Yunlan chooses to be the bigger person and doesn't reply, for which he's rewarded by Shen Wei with a few slices of lotus root and a small smile.

"He said he's very proud of you," Da Qing tells Shen Wei, for once not talking around his food. "Didn't remember the title of the paper or the journal, though."

"He's always working on a million things and all the journals sound the same," Yunlan offers in his defense, although he really should have memorized that title better. Something recessive mutation, something something environmental factors.

"But you were proud?" Shen Wei says quietly, the soft smile directed at Yunlan again, as it should be.

"Of course," Yunlan says. "I'm always proud of you." Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Da Qing picking up the last pieces of meat on his plate and stuffing them into his mouth with some urgency.

"It was delicious, Professor Shen," he says once he's swallowed. "Thank you for the invitation." Then he shoots Yunlan a look in Cat. You could have just said.

Next time I'll draw a picture, Yunlan sneers back.

"Really," Shen Wei smiles, "you're always welcome."

They both see Da Qing to the door, Shen Wei telling him to give his best to the rest of the SID and he'll stop by again soon, and then it's just the two of them.

Yunlan buries his face in his hands. "I had plans for tonight," he whines. He can hear Shen Wei taking a few soft steps towards him, and then his hands are very gentle as they pull Yunlan's away from his face.

"What plans," Shen Wei says, a spark in his eyes.

Might as well come clean. "Honestly, I was just going to get you naked and then wing it from there."

Shen Wei snorts softly, then draws Yunlan's hands to his mouth to press a kiss there. "How is that different from every other night?"

"Your paper got accepted!"

Shen Wei rubs his smile against the back of Yunlan's hand. "And that makes you proud."

"Well," Yunlan says. "The charts were very good. Really solid data. Beautiful labeling. Would have been a shame if they'd rejected it."

Shen Wei kisses him, and Yunlan smiles into it.

"My charts were better, of course," he adds after a moment, because he can't help myself.

"Ah," Shen Wei says, his ears going slightly pink. "I'm afraid you were on shaky ground with some of your data there. Your subject was unfortunately--" He looks at Yunlan. "--distracted."

"Eh," Yunlan replies, his stomach doing a little flip. "I could have cobbled together something usable." He strokes a hand over Shen Wei's cheek. "A heat map of Hei Pao Shi." His fingers slide down, over Shen Wei's neck, to his nape. "Green. Orange." To a nipple, to his stomach, his hipbone. "Blue. Green. Orange." Down, down. "Dark orange. Red. Red. Red."

He looks up to see Shen Wei swallow, and then he kisses him, soft and slow and deep.

"Yunlan," Shen Wei says, when he pulls away. It comes out as little more than breath. "The ethics committee would never allow the use of personally identifiable data in your work."

Yunlan groans. "You won't get this through peer review; the ethics committee won't allow it; your subject was distracted--"

Shen Wei laughs softly.

"You're thwarting my scientific endeavors!"

"I'm very sorry," Shen Wei says, clearly not.

"As if you could do a better job," Yunlan says petulantly.

That makes Shen Wei look up, something bright and vaguely dangerous in his gaze. Yunlan loves that look. "You don't think I could?"

Yunlan licks his lips. "I feel I set the bar very high."

Shen Wei pushes up his glasses before giving him a considering look. "Your parameters were well-defined and your method was promising. However--"

"Promising?"

Shen Wei draws his index finger down Yunlan's front, careful and light. Distracting. "You'll admit that it lacked a certain-- scientific rigor."

The finger has arrived at Yunlan's waistband, and Yunlan watches as a tiny flick opens the fly of his jeans, mesmerized by the frivolous use of dark energy. He swallows. "And you'd be more-- rigorous?"

"Oh, absolutely," Shen Wei says, pushing Yunlan up against the door. "Can't imagine the reviewers having any notes." Then he sinks to his knees.

"Professor Shen," Yunlan breathes, reaching down to take Shen Wei's glasses off and place them on the small dresser beside the door. "I'll be looking forward to learning from the best."

Then he stops thinking about science for a while.

 

*

 

He's made a few strategic errors here, he can't deny it. He had an inkling when Shen Wei calmly told him to get undressed, and it turned into certainty when Shen Wei didn't get naked with him.

"That would be highly inappropriate," he said, raising one perfect eyebrow at Yunlan, which almost made him trip and fall out of his pants.

"Oh right, the ethics committee." He rolled his eyes as he took off his socks, and Shen Wei gave him a small, private smile in return.

The clipboard, though. The clipboard is inspired.

"Are you going to take notes?" Yunlan says, sitting down on the bed and leaning back on his arms to wait for further instructions.

"Since I don't have an assistant with me to make a record of our observations," Shen Wei says, the picture of calm, "I'll have to make do with the available tools." He picks up the phone from the nightstand, the one Yunlan finally managed to force on him a few months ago, and carefully taps around on the screen. "A recording device can be invaluable in your field work."

Yunlan's eyebrows shoot up. "You're recording this?"

"It's standard operating procedure to record audio from any practical session," Shen Wei says, looking up. "It's not published. This is just-- for me."

Yunlan smirks. "Oh, is it."

"To provide context during my analysis."

"Of course."

"Please lie down now."

Yunlan does so, throwing Shen Wei another grin before he gets comfortable. "All right, let's do this."

"The subject confirmed his agreement to take part in this extremely small pilot study," Shen Wei says, making Yunlan laugh, and then he sits down on a chair a good distance away from the bed, still in his beautifully tight suit pants and dress shirt and waistcoat, which seems wrong to Yunlan.

However, the clipboard really does it for him.

"Are you going to stay there the whole time?"

"That's the plan."

Yunlan is just about to ask how that's going to work when he feels a warm tingle whispering over his legs and up to his groin, where it settles as something very close to a caress. "Shen Wei," he says, barely breathing.

Shen Wei makes a small note on the clipboard, and then looks up again, his eyes not leaving Yunlan's as the mist of energy expands to his belly and his chest, gently winding around his neck. "Would you describe this sensation as comfortable?"

Yunlan arches into the invisible touch, trying to gauge its edges. "That's one word for it," he says, sliding his foot up the mattress to see if the warmth will follow the movement or if his knee will break through the clouds.

"The subject is engaging with the stimulus in unexpected ways," Shen Wei says, a hint of amusement in his voice. "As expected."

Yunlan preens a bit.

"Now how's this?" Shen Wei says, sending a soft caress up the exposed inside of Yunlan's thigh, stopping just short of his cock. It grows slightly in intensity as it strokes up and down the sensitive skin.

Yunlan inhales sharply, trying not to squirm too much. "That's at least a solid five." He can hear the soft scratch of the pencil if he really concentrates. "Where should I put my hands?"

"Wherever you want."

Oh, this whole experiment just got so much better--

"Not there."

Yunlan looks to the side.

"Additional stimuli would interfere with my data collection," Shen Wei tells him, the hand holding the pen pushing up his glasses. "You understand."

"Of course," Yunlan says, conspicuously placing his palms on the mattress. "Wouldn't dream of interfering with your data."

The caress on his thigh is back, briefly licking at his cock just as Shen Wei gives him a little smile, and something in Yunlan's brain gives out.

"Six," he says, just to say something, and then he closes his eyes.

"And this?" Shen Wei says softly, and then a series of lingering kisses is placed on his belly, the sensation only strange if Yunlan opens his eyes and sees nothing there, so he keeps them closed.

"Warm," he says with a smile.

"I see."

A soft, wet tongue flicks against his nipple, followed by a hint of teeth, and more energy gathers at his groin, turning into a careful touch.

"More of that," Yunlan says, his hips trying to chase the warmth, "and you got yourself a seven."

"Which part?" comes Shen Wei's voice, and for a moment Yunlan wonders if he's still scribbling notes on his clipboard, all that scientific rigor focused on Yunlan's very naked body.

"Ah, fuck," he says, as the tongue licks over his nipple, a tendril of energy ghosting over the other one, stroking the skin so softly it doesn't even feel like a hand, or a mouth. "That, do that again."

It's pure warmth, and a sensation of pressure so delicate, it feels like Shen Wei is using his endless, boundless, overwhelming power to make a feather dance in the air.

"This?" Shen Wei says, and Yunlan tightens his fingers in the bedsheets, arching up.

"Yes," he breathes. "There."

"And here?" His voice is so soft, like it's caressing Yunlan too.

"Eight," he gasps, and the touch pulls away. "Maybe a seven!"

"We should make sure then," Shen Wei says, the smallest smile in his voice.

An indeterminate length of time later, Yunlan has learned that he's got a particularly sensitive spot just below the left side of his rib cage, and that the bumpy scar tissue near the small of his back responds to light touches to an almost worrying degree, and that he absolutely cannot get enough of Shen Wei's energy enveloping him like the softest of blankets.

He is also, quite apparently, going out of his mind with need.

"Please," he says, "more."

Shen Wei's ongoing data collection has left him on his front, the energy mist settling over his legs and stroking the back of his knees as a tongue licks up his spine. He is trying very, very hard not to hump the bed, but it's becoming increasingly--

"Would you say that's a nine?" comes Shen Wei's soft voice, barely frayed around the edges, and the fact that he's still observing Yunlan's every minute reaction to his stimuli is absolutely not helping.

"Yes," he doesn't whine, not rocking his hips against the mattress.

"You can turn around again."

"Ah, fuck."

"Unless you'd prefer--"

Yunlan bites his lip to keep in a groan as he flips onto his back, his flushed cock bobbing pitifully against his stomach, aching to be touched. He opens his eyes to look at Shen Wei, breathing hard. "You're still recording this?"

Shen Wei nods at him, his posture stiff and his eyes glued to Yunlan.

"So you can listen to me later?"

"To evaluate--"

"Will you touch yourself? While you listen?"

Shen Wei falters briefly, but he's probably built up some immunity to Zhao Yunlan over time, which is too bad. "That would be inappropriate."

"Uh huh," Yunlan says, his hand automatically wandering to his cock.

Shen Wei's eyes follow the movement.

"You'll have to tie me up if you want to keep your data pure," Yunlan says, his grin feeling a little shaky, he's so fucking turned on. "I have very poor self-control."

For a moment, Shen Wei just blinks at him. "I'm afraid the ethics committee didn't approve the use of restraints for this--"

"Fuck the ethics committee," Yunlan says, wrapping his fingers around--

His arms are yanked back and his palms slap against the metal rails, and Yunlan almost comes on the spot.

"Fuck," he gasps, his hips twitching up into nothing. He can still move his fingers, but his wrists seem very much attached to the bed frame, warming up the cold metal. Held there by nothing but Shen Wei's mind, just as a curl of energy gently winds around his cock.

He's going to die here.

"I'll be good," he says uselessly, hoping for some kind of relief for his troubles.

"There's no good or bad response here," Shen Wei says, because he's a liar. "Just data."

Yunlan can feel the soft cloud of energy as fine tendrils now, finer than fingertips, creeping up his dick like vines, setting every nerve ending alight until he can only feel what's happening to his cock and his balls and absolutely nothing else. He's panting and his throat is dry and he's straining against the delicious hold on his wrists and he's this close, this close, he just needs a little more--

"How about this?" Shen Wei says gently, and then the coil of warmth starts licking at his hole, gently finding its way inside, caressing him like a tongue, like fingers, like nothing he's ever felt before--

"Ten," Yunlan gets out, surprised his voice is still working, he feels so wrecked, "please, let me come, please--"

"Shh," Shen Wei says, suddenly close. Pressing up against Yunlan, the suit and the glasses and the clipboard gone, his hand on Yunlan's cheek. His eyes are dark and wild when Yunlan looks up at him, as if he's burning up from the inside, too. "You've been so good," he whispers, sounding awed, and Yunlan lifts his head to kiss him, desperate and messy.

"Please," he slurs against his lips, flinching away from Shen Wei's hand as it wraps around his cock, because it's finally what he wanted and it's too much.

"Shhh," Shen Wei says again, softly kissing the corner of Yunlan's mouth and then his jaw. "You'll let me have this," he murmurs, his hand a gentle pressure that Yunlan thrusts into, his energy still winding around him and licking inside him, and he sounds so sure that Yunlan can-- "Let go, love. Just let go."

And so Yunlan lets him have this.

His heart is beating wildly inside his chest when he comes to, the air pushed out of him, his freed hands flopped down on the pillow. "We have to do this again," he tells Shen Wei, just to make that absolutely clear. Maybe not immediately. But he could pencil it in for tomorrow maybe.

"Yunlan," Shen Wei says, looking almost pained, so Yunlan winds a shaky arm around him and pulls him close.

"Just add to the mess," he murmurs into Shen Wei's hair. "Come all over me."

There's a muffled moan in response, and the sound of Shen Wei jerking himself off, restless in Yunlan's arms but glued to his side.

"This is, of course, highly inappropriate," Yunlan whispers, and that's it, Shen Wei gasps and stills and does exactly as Yunlan told him. "I won't tell anyone," Yunlan adds, hugging Shen Wei closer when he groans against his shoulder.

"You're impossible."

"You started it," Yunlan reminds him softly.

"I did not," Shen Wei says, nuzzling Yunlan's skin.

"Oh, right." Yunlan runs his fingertips up and down Shen Wei's arm, kisses his hair again. "Well, you made it worse."

"Had to keep up with you."

Yunlan smiles. "You're impossible too," he whispers, feeling warmth inside him spreading all the way to his toes. "I can't move, by the way. You killed me."

Shen Wei finally lifts his head at that, a gleam in his eyes. "Good to know," he says silkily, and then he kisses Yunlan.

Yunlan shivers against him.