Migraines, Zhao Yunlan quickly discovered, were one of the most infuriatingly boring things he’d ever had the misfortune of experiencing.
Maybe it would be different if he experienced any of the more traditional symptoms, if his nausea ever bubbled over from unrelenting queasiness to actual vomiting, if the occasional floaters in his vision grew to blinding auras. As it was, however, he was only ever incapacitated enough to be inconvenienced, not quite well enough to be able to undertake even the lightest, most mind numbing tasks for work, but well enough that his brain kept trying to convince him that he could if he just expended a little effort — effort which required reserves that were currently tapped out, leading to a feedback loop of irritation between his desires and what he was actually capable of doing.
“Fatty,” he mumbled into his pillow. Da Qing chirruped quietly from where he was curled up in the small of Zhao Yunlan’s back, but didn’t move. “My head hurts and I’m bored.”
“I told you you were pushing yourself too hard, what did you expect was going to happen,” Da Qing sniffed. Despite his unsympathetic words, he uncurled and made his way up Zhao Yunlan’s back, paws kneading into the tense muscles in his shoulders.
Zhao Yunlan sighed, pressing his face further into the pillow.
“Have you taken your medication?” Da Qing asked, rubbing his face into Zhao Yunlan’s hair.
Zhao Yunlan nodded, flailing one arm out to the side to gesture to his bedside table. “Recently enough that I can’t take more yet, but long enough ago that it’s wearing off,” he grumbled.
Da Qing hummed in acknowledgement before stepping off Zhao Yunlan’s back, the slight hiss of displaced air the only indication he had switched forms. “I’m going to make you some ginger tea and you’re gonna eat something, ‘cause the last thing you need right now is a gastritis flare up on top of everything else,” he said, scratching at Zhao Yunlan’s scalp with blunted fingernails. “And then we’re gonna take a boredom nap and hope that it goes away in the interim. You’re annoying like this.”
Zhao Yunlan flailed his arm out again to whack blindly at Da Qing’s legs, which Da Qing easily evaded with a snicker. He hated when the Damn Cat was right, but he still dutifully rolled over, carefully pushing himself to a seated position as he surrounded himself with pillows and waited for Da Qing to return, the promised food and tea accompanied by yet more snarky commentary. He hid his fond smile in his knees.
“Hm,” Zhao Yunlan paused briefly from where he was scanning through one of Xiao Guo’s reports, his feet kicked up on the coffee table.
“What?” Da Qing asked warily from where his head rested in Zhao Yunlan’s lap.
“Well, funny story—”
“Oh, god,” Da Qing interrupted. Zhao Yunlan glared at him, but continued.
“I’ve been taking paracetamol more frequently recently to the point where it was on a daily basis, and I got kinda worried that I was taking it needlessly, like a comfort thing, right?”
“So I decided I’d go a few days without taking any, just to give my organs a break more than anything, and turns out I actually get a lot of headaches!”
Da Qing laid there for a moment, staring at the underside of Zhao Yunlan’s chin.
“You’re an idiot,” he finally said. He turned his face into Zhao Yunlan’s stomach, pointedly ignoring Zhao Yunlan’s affronted yelp. “Tell me when you have something useful to share that I didn’t already know.”
Despite his harsh words, Da Qing began to let out a small rumbling purr, the continuous soft noise giving something for Zhao Yunlan’s overstimulated brain to latch onto. Da Qing felt Zhao Yunlan’s stomach rise and fall with a sigh as his hand came down to card through his hair. He nodded in contentment as Zhao Yunlan’s other arm slowly lowered to the side and his hand eventually grew lax with sleep, moving away from Zhao Yunlan just long enough to grab the throw from over the back of the couch and spread it over him, nudging his legs up so that he was reclining properly before curling up in the centre of his chest and settling down for his own nap, purring all the while.
“Zhao Yunlan?” Shen Wei asked as he pushed open the door. He frowned at the dim room that greeted him, the blinds firmly pulled shut and all the lights turned off. “Are you here?”
Soft rustling came from the bed, and slowly Zhao Yunlan’s head poked out from under the covers. “Hey, baby,” he said, slightly muzzily.
“I’m sorry, did I disturb your rest?” Shen Wei asked, coming to sit on the edge of the bed.
“No, no, all good,” Zhao Yunlan’s hand came out to wave his words away. “I’ve just been dealing with some light sensitivity today, decided to hermit under my blankets for a while.”
Shen Wei stroked over Zhao Yunlan’s hair. “Have you eaten?”
“Ah…” Zhao Yunlan murmured sheepishly.
Shen Wei patted Zhao Yunlan’s cheek. “Let me make you some food, and then you can sleep.”
Zhao Yunlan mumbled an assent, his head already halfway towards disappearing back under the blankets.
Shen Wei smiled fondly to himself as he headed towards the kitchen. He brought out the ingredients for something light but filling, most of it already ready to go thanks to his preparations over the weekend, and began to cook.
The stove clicked as Shen Wei lit it, only for a muffled grunt of pain to come from the pile of blankets that was Zhao Yunlan. Shen Wei quickly turned off the stove and hurried back over, gently touching his shoulder through the doona.
“Zhao Yunlan?” he asked, pitching his voice low. “What’s wrong?”
Zhao Yunlan groaned slightly as he slowly pushed his head out from under the blanket again. “I thought I’d caught it in time,” he mumbled miserably. “I thought I’d managed to take my medication properly for once, that all I would have to deal with for once was just light sensitivity and then I’d be back to normal. But no,” he sighed, rolling onto his back and flinging his arm over his eyes. “Migraine, again. And I’d gone so long without one, too!”
“Are these a regular occurrence?” Shen Wei asked, his brow furrowing.
“Mhm,” Zhao Yunlan said. “Used to be a lot more regular, but I’ve gotten them down to once every few months or so.”
“If that’s an improvement then I dread to think how regular they were before,” Shen Wei murmured absently. “Would you mind if I—?”
He held his hands up to Zhao Yunlan’s temples. Zhao Yunlan cracked an eye open and nodded, pushing himself up into Shen Wei’s hands.
“Please, if you can make this end sooner then I’ll never say no.”
Shen Wei nodded, closing his eyes and gently pressing his fingertips to Zhao Yunlan’s temples. He had barely begun to channel dark energy into Zhao Yunlan’s head when Zhao Yunlan’s eyes went wide, his hands flying up to grasp Shen Wei’s wrists and yank them away, gasping for air.
Shen Wei froze, his hands hanging uselessly in midair as Zhao Yunlan doubled over himself, his arms wrapped around his head as he forced his shuddering breath in and out in a fixed tempo.
“Yunlan?” Shen Wei whispered, horrified.
A small keen rose out of Zhao Yunlan’s throat as he tried to lift his head, only to flinch away at the light from the kitchen. Shen Wei reacted without thinking, his power flaring out to cut every light in the room, a ball of dark energy engulfing him and Zhao Yunlan in a cocoon of darkness.
Zhao Yunlan shuddered out a sigh, swallowing heavily as he slowly raised his head again. “So,” he chuckled weakly. His voice was as hoarse as if he had been screaming. “I guess we know that’s not an option, then.”
“I’m sorry, Yunlan,” Shen Wei whispered wretchedly.
“‘S not your fault,” Zhao Yunlan waved him off, rubbing the back of one hand into his eye and fumbling blindly with the other to grab Shen Wei. Shen Wei caught his hand and clasped it tightly in his own, holding it to his chest to hide how his fingers still trembled.
Zhao Yunlan used that grip to tug Shen Wei close, pulling him up to the top of the bed and resting his head on Shen Wei’s chest. “Don’t think I’ll be able to eat anything any time soon, sorry, baby,” he mumbled.
Shen Wei shook his head, stroking Zhao Yunlan’s back. “It can keep. Try and get some rest, instead.”
Zhao Yunlan hummed something that sounded like assent, slowly dropping off to sleep. Shen Wei lay there in silence, allowing their dark energy cocoon to leech away in time to Zhao Yunlan’s measured breaths as he continued to stroke up and down his back.
His head snapped up at the sound of the door opening, his hand shooting up in readiness to muffle the noise, but Zhao Yunlan just made a sleepy noise and snuggled in closer, his arms tightening around Shen Wei’s waist. Da Qing winced theatrically, shutting the door behind him with exaggerated care, the click of the lock just barely audible.
“Migraine?” Da Qing mouthed, pointing at Zhao Yunlan. Shen Wei just nodded, and Da Qing grimaced sympathetically. Between one step and the next he shifted forms, leaping up on the bed and curling up against Zhao Yunlan’s stomach, beginning to rumble out a purr as he got settled. Zhao Yunlan shuffled closer with a sigh, a pinched line of tension around the edges of his eyes finally easing.