That’s all Zhao Yunlan had left.
Three days until Shen Wei’s birthday, and he still hadn’t found him a present.
Last year, Zhao Yunlan had given him keys to their new house. Keys to a home big enough for Zhao Yunlan, Shen Wei, Da Qing and Ye Zun to share, with a state-of-the-art kitchen and space for a garden in the back. It was perfect and it had made Shen Wei and Ye Zun both go teary-eyed, though neither would admit it.
How was Zhao Yunlan supposed to follow that?!?!
Logically, he knew Shen Wei would treasure anything Zhao Yunlan gave him, even if it was just an afternoon alone together. A part of Zhao Yunlan couldn’t help but worry over it though. What if he failed and Shen Wei didn’t like the gift and realised finally that Zhao Yunlan wasn’t good enough for him and he left? Zhao Yunlan didn’t think he’d be able to survive without Shen Wei anymore.
So, he was a
lot little anxious about Shen Wei’s gift, and now there were only three days left and he was desperate.
He had tried asking Da Qing and Jiajia and Zhu Hong and Xiao Guo and even Lao Chu, but none of their ideas sounded right. He certainly couldn’t give Shen Wei the ingredients for shengjianbao like Da Qing had suggested, even though that was Shen Wei’s favourite dish. “Oh yes, happy birthday Shen Wei! Here, go cook yourself some food! I know it’s a lot of work, but it’s your favourite!” Yeah, no. If they ate shengjianbao, they would be from that lovely Shanghainese couple down the road. Shen Wei would not be spending hours cooking his own birthday meal, even Zhao Yunlan wasn’t that shameless.
All the failed attempts from his team had brought him here. The Forbidden Room, the one door in their house that he never opened.
“You,” a smug voice said as the door opened before he could even knock. “What a surprise.”
“Ye Zun,” Zhao Yunlan answered. Ye Zun leant against the doorframe and crossed his arms. He cocked his head to the side and raised an eyebrow, as if to say, ‘well? I’m waiting.’
Zhao Yunlan closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He couldn’t believe he was doing this, asking Ye Zun for help choosing a gift for Shen Wei. In front of him, Ye Zun huffed and moved as if to close the door.
“Wait!” Zhao Yunlan cried. “Wait, I need your help.”
The eyebrow rose higher, and Ye Zun smirked. “My help? Isn’t that interesting. Why should I help you? Gege might like you, but I don’t, and I know you don’t like me. So why should I help you?”
“You tried to eat me! Twice! That’s a valid reason not to like you very much.”
“Hmm. Fair. But that doesn’t answer my question. Why do you need my help?”
“It’s Shen Wei,” Zhao Yunlan started. He put his hand up to stop Ye Zun from interrupting when he saw his eyes widen at those words. “He’s fine,” he added, knowing that was Ye Zun would have asked, “Shen Wei is fine. It’s just. It’s his birthday in three days, right? And, well. I don’t know what to get him.”
“You know it’s my birthday too, right?” Ye Zun asked, unimpressed.
“Yes, obviously. You are twins. But you’re easy. I’ve had your gift for weeks now,” Zhao Yunlan answered.
“You have?” Ye Zun said, his eyes wide, and his face doing a very good impression of a fish out of water.
Zhao Yunlan nodded. It wasn’t even a lie. He might still not trust Ye Zun very much, but Shen Wei did, and Da Qing had assured him that Ye Zun had adapted to modern Haixing well enough to use the Internet alone and unsupervised. So, he had gotten Ye Zun his very own phone. Ostensibly, it was so he would stop borrowing Zhao Yunlan’s, but really, it was because he knew how much Ye Zun craved his independence, and having a phone was a small step towards that. Plus, it would make Shen Wei happy to see Zhao Yunlan show Ye Zun a little faith. Ye Zun’s gift was sorted.
Ye Zun’s eyes narrowed. “What is it? How can I trust that you got me something good?” And Zhao Yunlan sighed.
“It’s good, I promise,” he tried to reassure.
“Tell me what it is, and maybe I’ll help you do something for Gege.”
“Then I won’t help you,” Ye Zun said, backing out of the doorway and letting the door slam shut behind him. A quiet snick told Zhao Yunlan that the latch had been turned. The door was locked. He let out a frustrated sound and banged his head on the door. Ye Zun really was his last hope. He had no choice but to tell him about his gift.
“It’s a phone,” he said, knowing Ye Zun hadn’t gone far. “I got you a phone. Now please, Ye Zun. You’re my only hope.”
For a minute, nothing happened. Zhao Yunlan couldn’t hear anything from Ye Zun’s room, couldn’t see any shadows moving under the door. And then he heard Ye Zun shuffle forward slightly.
“Does the phone have child-locks on it?” he asked, and Zhao Yunlan sighed.
“No,” he answered, “Factory settings. It even as a SIM card and everything. Perfectly functional.”
“Can I use the Internet and douyin on it?”
“Hmmm,” and Zhao Yunlan worried for a moment that the phone wasn’t enough. That sound hadn’t been particularly reassuring, after all. But then, he felt a cool rush of air come from under the door, and he heard Ye Zun mumbling as he walked deeper into his room. Then the door sprang open without Zhao Yunlan touching it and Ye Zun was telling him to come in.
“Here,” he said, shoving a pile of familiar-looking clothes into his arms. “Put these on, and then come see me about your hair.”
“What?” Zhao Yunlan said, confused. The clothes were Kunlun’s clothes and that made it sound like Ye Zun was going to make his hair grow long and braid it so he would have Kunlun’s hair, too. How would either of those help him figure out Shen Wei’s gift?!?!
“Argh,” Ye Zun said, rolling his eyes. “Da Qing is right; you are an idiot. Did you really never notice how much gege likes seeing you in these clothes or with long hair? Don’t you remember at the convention last autumn, when you dressed up as that one hero from that drama you liked? Gege walked into a wall. Trust me, this will be the perfect gift.”
Zhao Yunlan just looked at him. Ye Zun rolled his eyes, and made a shooing motion towards the door.
“Go ask Da Qing if you don’t believe me, but Shen Wei will love this. Oh, maybe you should put this all on and go pick him up from the university after class on your motorcycle. That’ll really give him a nice surprise.”
“On my motorcycle?”
“Hmm? Oh, yes,” Ye Zun smirked, “Gege likes your motorcycle. It makes his ears go red every time you ride it. Yes, wearing Kunlun’s clothes and riding your motorcycle – that will be the perfect gift for gege.”
And then Zhao Yunlan was being pushed out of his room, the door closing behind him, a bundle of 10,000-year-old clothing still clutched in his arms.
On the day of Shen Wei’s birthday, Zhao Yunlan still wasn’t sure about Ye Zun’s suggestion, but it was better than anything anyone else had come up with. So, a half hour before he had to be at the university to pick Shen Wei up, Zhao Yunlan found himself wearing Kunlun’s clothes and knocking on Ye Zun’s door.
“Good, you followed my advice,” he said while shoving Zhao Yunlan onto the chair in the corner of his room. He did something with his hands, and Zhao Yunlan felt cold power wash over him. His scalp tingled and itched and then hair come tumbling down over his shoulders. Ye Zun pulled roughly as he gathered small sections into braids and added silver beads to them. Zhao Yunlan flinched when he tugged at a particularly painful knot. Fu You had been much gentler when she had styled his hair in the past.
Soon enough, it was over. His head hurt, and the extra weight of all that hair felt weird, but Zhao Yunlan was ready. Ye Zun shuffled him out the door with a smirk, and reminded him to take the motorcycle. Still not entirely convinced this would work, Zhao Yunlan debated taking his jeep just to be contrary, but decided on the motorcycle in the end.
And oh, was it worth it to see Shen Wei’s expression when they made eye contact outside the university gates.
His face when beet red, eyes wide, mouth gaping open, and he stumbled over his feet. Zhao Yunlan smirked as Shen Wei got closer and he saw just how dark those beautiful eyes were.
Ye Zun was right, this was an excellent idea. Zhao Yunlan couldn’t wait to get home and find out just how much Shen Wei liked his birthday gift.