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He was falling- no, floating.

It seemed that he had been here for quite a long time. He couldn't remember how long it had been. Some days, months, or years? It is hard to determine the time in the complete darkness. In this place, the only thing he could feel is emptiness. Something had been lost, he thought. He couldn't remember it. It was a name, perhaps. A name of someone. Someone important. He tried to recall it and nothing came up. But something had started to kick in as he became more aware of the surrounding.

Where was he?

There was suddenly a crack in the darkness.

Who was he?

The crack grew. And he remembered it now, that name.

Zhao Yunlan.

Then the darkness started to shatter into pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Shen Wei wakes up with the feeling of pain, all over his body, especially in the chest. His shaky hand reaches up, expecting to feel the frosting cold of the ice, but there is nothing. He presses his hand on his chest, feeling his heart pounding rapidly. Shen Wei blinks and his eyes adjust to the darkness- not that darkness in the void, he thought- around him. This is...not his room. It looks familiar enough and somehow he knows this place.

Shen Wei stands up from the bed and turns on the light. He winces at the sudden brightness, it has been such a long time since he saw any light. Shen Wei blinks again, confused. This was his room, at the University's dormitory. Why is he here? But where else should he be?

Shen Wei looks down at his body, there is no injury but why does he feel such pain? He felt like someone had hit him in the head, it hurt so much. His mind is all fuzzy, everything blurs out in front of him. What happened to him? More importantly, what happened to...

"...Zhao Yunlan?" He murmurs as tears begin to stream down his face. " Yunlan." Shen Wei repeats the name his hand pressing down on the pendant, feeling the panic rising in his chest.

The name is the key to everything, to his memory and then he remembers it all. The Hallows, the war, and his death. He remembers their bet to meet again, no matter how long it would take. He remembers being in the void of darkness, all alone by himself.  And after everything, he is here, at a place he is not supposed to be.

Shen Wei doesn't know what all of this means. It would only take him a second to make a portal to where Zhao Yunlan is. Shen Wei almost did it, but he stops, calming down himself. There must be a reason for why he is here, in the dormitory not in his apartment. No, not even in his apartment, because he should have been dead. Shen Wei is sure of that. He had sacrificed himself to stop Ye Zun. There is no way he could be here.

Confused thoughts fill his mind. Shen Wei takes in a deep breath and starts looking around the room. That is when he sees it.

The calendar.

Shen Wei's eyes widen as he looks at the date. It was half a year ago. Sometimes after they got the Longevity Dial. That means...he had traveled back in time, just like Zhao Yunlan had. Shen Wei knows how all of this would end, and he can- will change it. And he needs to do that all alone, to protect everyone and Zhao Yunlan.

Nothing would have happened to Zhao Yunlan if Shen Wei had kept him unknown from all of this. Nothing would have happened to Zhao Yunlan if their relationship hadn't been so close. As long as the fate of Professor Shen and Zhao Yunlan is not crossing each other, Zhao Yunlan won't figure out his identity, Shen Wei just has to be more cold and distant when he is Hei Pao Shi whenever he works with Zhao Yunlan.  He could do that, right?

Even his mind is telling him that this is foolish. But Shen Wei can't help the worry in his heart. Even if he and his brother reconcile, the timeline would be dramatically changed. Shen Wei won't know what will come next, what enemies he will have to fight next. He doesn't want to experience that feeling of seeing Zhao Yunlan being injured and covered in blood while he can't do anything to save him ever again, even if the cost is keeping himself far away from Zhao Yunlan then so be it. That is all he could convince himself.

For a long time, Shen Wei is just sitting there, letting his mind wander. And nothing feels real enough, he thought. He touches the bed, not real enough. He touches himself, still not feeling real enough. Even though his heart is pounding, and his body is aching, it still does not feel real enough for him. And he is scared of it. He finally has the chance to do it over and he is scared that this is not real.

There is a sudden dark smoke wrapping around his fingers. The familiar sense of incense floating in the room. This is a sign of the summoning incense. And to his knowledge, Shen Wei has only given this to the SID- to Zhao Yunlan.

He remembers around this time, there was a case about Dixingren losing control of her power and getting caught by the SID. The SID had summoned him to discuss what they should do about this Dixingren because technically, she didn't do anything wrong. So the SID wanted to bargain with him about not taking her back to Dixing. Shen Wei was quite surprised that they would go to that length to save a Dixingren. And it was the day he and Zhao Yunlan had come to a tacit agreement about not escorting innocent Dixingren back to Dixing. It was an important day.

Shen Wei just didn't expect that he had time travel back to that same day. He had thought he may have sometimes to calm himself down before seeing Zhao Yunlan. This is too quick, even for him. It is like even the universe is telling him that he couldn't hide from Zhao Yunlan or his attempt is already so fragile to begin with.

Shen Wei draws in a deep breath, calling up his black cloak and mask. His energy is still full and glowing inside his veins, a feeling that he hadn't known he missed so much. Shen Wei straightens his back then opens a portal and steps through.

The moment he sees that person, the smile he gives him grasps his heart tightly. And Shen Wei feels all the walls he's been building up crumbling to nothing.

" Hi Hei Lao Ge!" The sweet sound of Zhao Yunlan's voice rang in his ears, it is irresistible. The sight of him standing there without injuries and sorrow. Safe and there. And all Shen Wei wants is to take a step forward and pull his loved one into his chest, to feel him and keep him safe.

Irresistible.

He can't bear it. Shen Wei realizes. The look in Zhao Yunlan's eyes. The unknowing look, as if he is looking at a complete stranger. No, he can't do this again. He had experienced this one time and now he can't bear it anymore. One time is enough. Never again. Shen Wei wants Zhao Yunlan to look at him like before, with the warmth and affection he used to.

Shen Wei can barely breathe. It is overwhelming, all of these emotions. As if they had just waited for this moment to burst out. To suffocate him.

" Hei Lao Ge?" Zhao Yunlan steps forward, his voice sounds a bit worried. The SID team stares at him nervously, uneasy by his silence.

" I shouldn't have- I-" He blurts out then goes completely silent, ducking his head deeper in the hood. He should say something, this is bad. He shouldn't have come here. Shen Wei takes a deep breath, then tries again, but he still couldn't stop the shaking of his voice:" Do what you must with the Dixingren. I still have...business to attend to."

Shen Wei takes a step back, turns around, and flees. But a warm hand grasps his wrist, stopping him:" Hei Lao Ge, wait! What is...wrong..."

As Zhao Yunlan pulls him back, standing face to face with him. His question trails off. His eyes widen at Shen Wei. And Shen Wei thinks everything is blurred out again in front of his eyes and all the sound is muffed. He tries to see through, to hear what Zhao Yunlan is saying. But Zhao Yunlan has already stopped then he begins to grip Shen Wei's wrist more tightly and drags him somewhere. Shen Wei doesn't know, all he could feel is the warmth on his wrist and the panic in his chest. Without a word of protest, Shen Wei lets Zhao Yunlan pull him forward and he just numbly follows him.

Once Zhao Yunlan makes him sit down on the couch that he realizes they are in Zhao Yunlan's office. Shen Wei looks up at Zhao Yunlan who is still standing in front of him, his voice comes out wearier than he had intended:" Chief Zhao, what are you doing? I should-"

" No!" Zhao Yunlan protests and that makes Shen Wei flinch. " No..." He says again, softer this time. Zhao Yunlan frowns then he closes his eyes and sits down next to Shen Wei, squeezing their hands together:" I'm sorry Hei Lao Ge. I don't know what had gotten into me. But you- you are not alright, I can't just-"

" I'm fine." He cuts him off and turns his head slightly away. There is something different about Zhao Yunlan too, this time. He shouldn't be like this with the Black-Cloaked Envoy. The care and worry Zhao Yunlan gave him, are too familiar that making Shen Wei's heartache.

" You're crying." Zhao Yunlan says quietly. And oh, no wonder he feels all so blurry. Shen Wei's hand reaches up, feeling the wet tears on his cheeks. No wonder Zhao Yunlan had dragged him go out of sight from his subordinates. He must look pathetic. But he can't stop it, the tears. They are still streaming down his face.

" Hei Lao Ge..." Zhao Yunlan says softly and leans closer to him:" Do you want to tell me about it?" He asks and then hastens to say:" It's okay if you don't want to of course! But I just...want you to know that I'm here if you need me."

Shen Wei bites down his lips, keeping himself from making any sound. He wants to tell Zhao Yunlan everything, of course, he wants to. Tell him about their last lifetime, about everything little things they had done before, about how much Shen Wei loves him. But the words stuck in his throat, he can't get them out. It hurts, it hurts so much, he has been avoiding thinking about it, but it hurts as if there is a knife twisted inside his chest, as if he was back in Dixing at the Palace, laying there helplessly watching Zhao Yunlan being beaten again, again and again, and again and-

" Hei Lao Ge! Look at me! You're here with me! Breathe!" Zhao Yunlan's voice pulled him out. His hands shook Shen Wei's shoulder, trying to get his response.

" Yunlan." Shen Wei manages, finally looking his way. Zhao Yunlan's expression changes into sorrow, then after that, his arms wrap around Shen Wei, pulling him into his chest.

" It's okay, you're alright." Zhao Yunlan says softly, despite not really knowing what had happened. His hands reluctantly patting Shen Wei's back. The mask presses slightly on his neck. And Shen Wei can clearly hear the sound of Zhao Yunlan's pulse against his ears, the warmth of Zhao Yunlan's skin against his. All of this makes him feel real, not just a dream that Shen Wei is so desperate to have and when he woke up it would be gone. No, this is real. 

Zhao Yunlan is here, Zhao Yunlan is alright, everything is fine.

This is real.

"Yunlan." Shen Wei murmurs with a broken voice, can't help the sob that keeps coming out of his throat.

" I'm here." Zhao Yunlan says, soothingly, pulling him a little closer. Shen Wei tightens his arms around him, feeling the warmth from the other's bodies.

" I can't do it." Shen Wei says shakingly.

" Can't do what Hei Lao Ge?" Zhao Yunlan asks softly.

" Hide from you." It was a stupid idea indeed, to think that he could bear to stay away from Zhao Yunlan even just a second. Now, he just can't help the thought of keeping Zhao Yunlan in his eyes sight, keeping him close and safe. It is selfish of him, he knows, but no one is not selfish, Shen Wei is not an exception. If he could help it, he didn't want to be.

" You don't need to." Zhao Yunlan mumbles. Shen Wei pulls himself back and sees him smiling softly at him. Zhao Yunlan cups his face gently and Shen Wei leans into that tenderness.

Zhao Yunlan's hands press on Shen Wei's wet cheeks and he says jokingly:" It's a pity that I couldn't help you wipe those tears off with this mask in the way."

" Then take it off." It was almost a whisper. Zhao Yunlan's smile froze and he stares at Shen Wei in a daze.

" Wh-What?"

Shen Wei said nothing, just hold Zhao Yunlan's hand and move it onto his mask.

" You're sure?" Zhao Yunlan says reluctantly.

" Yunlan, I don't want to hide from you." Shen Wei says softly. Zhao Yunlan can't help smiling at him and he takes a deep breath then slowly Zhao Yunlan's hands are touching his cheeks, pulling off the cold metal mask. After some time, a smile started to grow on Zhao Yunlan's face, it turns into a small chuckle then a laugh. Shen Wei cherishes this happy sound of him, it has been such a long time since Shen Wei heard Zhao Yunlan laugh like this, the situation was so stressful back then.

" No wonder you keep showing up at my crime scenes, professor." Zhao Yunlan says teasingly, fingers gently wiping the tears off Shen Wei's face.

" Shen Wei." He says and Zhao Yunlan stares at him, confused.

" Please, call me Shen Wei." He knows how he sounded like, broken and yearning. But he missed it, the sound of his name on Zhao Yunlan's lips.

"Shen Wei, I want to kiss you, now." Zhao Yunlan says out of the blue, with a soft smile on his face. And Shen Wei gives in. He leans in, pressing his lips on Zhao Yunlan's. A low moan comes out from Zhao Yunlan's throat and a second after he slightly opens his mouth, and invited Shen Wei in. Shen Wei does as his wish. Their tongues meet, wet and hot, tangling together. And Shen Wei feels- real. Alive. Alive. Alive. The word repeat inside his head relentlessly, as if his mind still hasn't believed in it and needed constant reminders.

Then Zhao Yunlan lets out a low groan. Painful sound. Shen Wei pulls back in alarm. Seeing Zhao Yunlan clasps his hands over his head painfully, then nearly collapse into Shen Wei's chest.

" Yun-Yunlan, what's wrong?" He asks, his hand already summoning a ball of dark energy ready to heal him. Zhao Yunlan catches his wrist, stopping him and slightly shaking his head in protest. Shen Wei dissolves the dark energy and Zhao Yunlan's breathing eventually becomes stable. He looks at Shen Wei, his eyes are half-lidded.

" Xiao...Wei." Zhao Yunlan says in a hoarse.

" Zhao Yunlan, you...remember?" Shen Wei stares at him in awe and Zhao Yunlan nods as tears stream down his face. Then he completely throws himself on Shen Wei's body, hugging him tightly.

" I told you we would meet again." Shen Wei says softly with a smile and Zhao Yunlan grins back at him.

" Yes! Yes! We meet again! I miss you so much! Baobei I love you, I love you, did you hear me? I love you!"

Sweetly, intimately he holds Shen Wei's face in his hand. With each word he said, kisses landed on Shen Wei's face.  Shen Wei holds Zhao Yunlan in place and draws them into a deep kiss. Zhao Yunlan kisses like he never wants to let go, and so as Shen Wei. The last moment they saw each other, they were both beaten and dying. Neither of them can do anything to save their loved ones. And it's hurt.

Now, they are finally back together. Nothing could separate them again. And at this moment now, it just feels like home. They're home. Belong to each other.

" I heard you Zhao Yunlan and I love you." 

"Yet, you had tried to hide from me, didn't you? What you had said earlier!" Zhao Yunlan frowns at him and yes, maybe Shen Wei deserves that.

" Idiot, you know I won't allow it! Even if you hide, I would seek you out! You can never get rid of me, understand?" Zhao Yunlan says sharply.

" I was scared, Zhao Yunlan. I'm scared of losing you but I'm also scared that being with me would bring you bad luck. That the darkness inside me would devour both of us." Shen Wei whispers in sorrow.

" No, no, no, no baobei, why-why would you say that? You have never brought me any bad luck- hush, I won't hear any protests. You are the luck of my life, I must have saved the whole universe in past life to have you by my side, without you I can't be this better version of myself. Shen Wei, everyone has darkness in them. But the darker the darkness, the brighter the light, and to me, Xiao Wei, you shine so very brightly." Zhao Yunlan's sincere words touch his heart deeply. Shen Wei found himself incapable to respond to that. Zhao Yunlan leans in and kisses him on the forehead and Shen Wei kisses him back.

" Thank you, Yunlan, for telling me that, for loving me." You are too good, I don't deserve you.

"  I know you are not convinced, but from now on, I will tell you that every day, repeatedly, until you believe in it." Zhao Yunlan says and nudges his head into Shen Wei's chest.

" I love you so much Zhao Yunlan." Shen Wei can't help saying that again. Because he is the one who is lucky to get Zhao Yunlan by his side.

" And I you." Zhao Yunlan murmurs, seeming satisfied enough to be held in Shen Wei's arms. He snuggles into his chest. And Shen Wei stroke Zhao Yunlan's hair gently. Both enjoy the peaceful moment. All they want is to feel each other's heartbeats, to know that they are both alive.

The cuddling didn't last long, a warning sound ruins their quiet moment.

" What the-?" Zhao Yunlan blurts out, he still really wants to continue hugging his boyfriend. Shen Wei helps him steady, apparently lying for too long makes his back hurt.

" We should go check." Shen Wei says and both of them rush out of the office.

It is a little chaotic in the common room.

" Who are you!? How could you get in here!?" Chu Shuzhi asks angrily, summoning his strings. Guo Changcheng stands a few steps behind him, his shaking hands holding the electric stick.

Zhu Hong and Da Qing straighten themselves, ready to fight. Wang Zheng, Lin Jing, and Lao Li have retreated to the back of the room, far away from the unwelcome guest.

" Calm down, would ya? I'm not here to fight, alright? Don't threaten me, I'm scared." The stranger chuckled, his tone filled with sarcasm. Showing no fear in the manner. His eyes skim the whole team then he clears his throat and asks seriously:" Is my brother here?"

" What-? Who is your brother? How could we know?" Da Qing raises his eyebrows in question.

"If he is some Dixingren we had sent back to Dixing then we have nothing to tell you!" Chu Shuzhi snarls and starts to attack.

" Oh please, it is not you all who send those rogue Dixingrens back to Dixing, you just capture them and my brother will escort them back. Or that is what I think the Black-Cloaked Envoy does, hm?" He says casually then waves his hands and those strings of Chu Shuzhi disappear completely. The team stares at the Dixingren in awe.

" Cat got your tongues? Stop wasting my time and tell me is he here? I have significant things to tell him, and where the hell is he on a night like this? I have run around Dragon city for fifteen minutes for dear myself's sake." He complained annoyingly despite the odd looks the team is giving him. Then he clasps his hands together and makes a dramatic hand gesture:" So?"

" Ye Zun!" Zhao Yunlan spits out bitterly, stepping in front of Shen Wei. A hand guarding him behind, the other reaches for his dark energy gun. Shen Wei can't even believe in his eyes. Ye Zun stands there his figure blurred out from the existing realm. The energy form he takes is the same as that night when Zhao Yunlan went blind, not a solid body, Shen Wei noticed. Nothing had happened yet and Ye Zun is here. Why?

Ye Zun seems to be startled by Zhao Yunlan's voice. He turns around to face them. And incredulously, he smiles- not an evil smile at all but a shining genuinely smile.

" Ge ge, you're here! Gosh, finally!" Even his voice sounds cheerful. Too strange. Ye Zun takes a step forward and Zhao Yunlan raises his gun:" Stay back!"

" Ah, Lord Guardian, please calm down. I'm not here to fight, I know I'm extremely suspicious and this is extremely confusing. But I can explain, just let me talk to my brother." Ye Zun tells them and hangs his hands in the air to prove his sincerity. And this, Ye Zun wouldn't be like this. If he was the Ye Zun that Shen Wei knows from this time, he wouldn't say those words 'my brother' in such a way.

" Ye Zun." Shen Wei finally speaks, and the attention in the room moves to him. He didn't put his mask back on, he realizes a little too late. Although, Shen Wei didn't mind the team knowing his identity either. 

" Ge ge." Ye Zun says softly, his figure just blurs out a bit more.

" Ge, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. Even if you don't know what I'm saying about-" Ye Zun says, and Shen Wei sees, his redden eyes behind the mask and he knows, Ye Zun is talking about their last lifetime. Ye Zun remembers.

" I know didi, I remember it."  He cuts him off and steps forward. Zhao Yunlan frowns at him, pulling him back by his elbow, warning:" Xiao Wei." But Shen Wei just smiles and shakes his head slightly, patting Zhao Yunlan's hands. It's alright.

" Ge ge." Ye Zun launches himself on Shen Wei. And Shen Wei is surprised that he could actually touch him. Isn't this his energy form? How much energy does it drain Ye Zun to be solid like this?

"Didi, you can't stay here for long." He says worriedly.  The last time he got out was through others' dark energy, but this time Ye Zun has used his, Shen Wei can sense it and in this form, the drain of dark energy could make Ye Zun gone, completely, forever.

" I know, I know, just let me hug you for a bit longer." Ye Zun says and tightens his hug. Shen Wei can't bring himself to make Ye Zun let go. He signs and smiles indulgently. He got Zhao Yunlan back, he got his didi back. If this was a dream, Shen Wei doesn't want to wake up.

" I'm sorry for all I did, I didn't know about the truth, I had let him fool me, I'm sorry."

" It's not your fault that you were lied to. I don't blame you." Shen Wei says gently and Ye Zun just laughs, dryly and steps back.

" You are too soft-hearted, you should be angry with me, ge."

" You're right." Shen Wei sighs.

" Which part?" Ye Zun raises his eyebrows.

" I'm too soft-hearted" He admits. Because it is true, even after all the things Ye Zun had done, he couldn't bring himself to hate him, to be angry with him.

Ye Zun chuckles. The moment Ye Zun is away from Shen Wei a few steps, Zhao Yunlan walks closer to Shen Wei from behind, pulling him to his side. Shen Wei looks at him and says weakly:" Yunlan..."

Seeing the display of protectiveness, Ye Zun feels a bit at ease, someone has to protect his brother from everything else, even himself. The pleased smile turns into a smirk:" Don't frown like that Lord Guardian, you get to hug him all the time, don't tell me you're jealous of me?"

" Ye Zun!"

" I am not jealous of you!"

Shen Wei and Zhao Yunlan say at the same time. Both subtly glance at each other, and slight pink appears on their ears. Saying such things in front of the team-

" Alright, I'm kidding, why so shy the two of you? Also, my apology for what I had done to you and your team, lord Guardian." Ye Zun bows in their direction and the team. Only Changcheng gets a little flustered and bows back at him, he received a smark on the head from Chu Shuzhi after that.

" I'll consider it." Zhao Yunlan says dryly.

" Thank you. I need to go now, meet me later in Dixing, ge. We have a lot of things to deal with." Ye Zun tells Shen Wei, and he nods at him. Then he turns to Zhao Yunlan:" Please take care of my brother for me, huh brother-in-law?" With that, he vanishes into the air.

" Oh...I didn't think he would be like that. A not evil Ye Zun? Weird. Too weird. But I think I may grow to like him in time, right, hubby?" Zhao Yunlan throws an arm over his shoulder and grins at him.

" Yunlan...what- why did you call me that?" Shen Wei gulps. He can feel the heat on his cheek, he reaches up to adjust his glasses, just to remember he didn't wear them and he is still in the Black-Cloaked Envoy's set up.

" What did you just call him!?" That came from the team.

" What? Your brother called me brother-in-law doesn't that means I'm your husband? Or do you prefer wifey, darling, hone-"  Shen Wei clasps a hand over Zhao Yunlan's mouth.

" Please, stop, that is ridiculous." He likes Xiao Wei more. Ah no, saying such things is inappropriate in front of the other. Zhao Yunlan suddenly licks his palm and Shen Wei freezes, glancing at him disapprovingly then lowers his hand, his ears turning red. Zhao Yunlan just laughs.

" Can you two stop doing that in front of us single people?" Zhu Hong says, rolling her eyes.

" And explain what the heck just happen here? Why Professor Shen suddenly is the Black-Cloaked Envoy?" Da Qing says pointedly.

" Lord Envoy?" Chu Shuzhi dubiously asks. 

" Chu Shuzhi." Shen Wei says in response. The sound of his voice went low.

Chu Shuzhi's eyes widen, then a second later he bows:" Daren!" And that is the cue for the others to do the same, as they now know this person in front of them is not just simply a professor but also the powerful ambassador from Dixing:" Hei Pao Shi Daren!"

" Please, no need for that." Shen Wei hastens to say, changing his clothes back into his professor's clothes. And everyone hesitantly straightens themselves.

" Call me professor Shen, if you wish." He doesn't like the SID team being all respectful to him like this. To him, they are his family and he missed them.

" He would actually prefer that. And why don't I see you all bow at me like that? I'm your boss not him!" Zhao Yunlan says jokingly, easily dissolving the tension in the room.

" Ew no, would never."

" You're Lao Zhao why would we bow to you?"

" Stop dreaming, Lao Zhao."

" Chief, you- you want us to bow to you?- ouch. Why did you hit me again Chu ge?"

" Because you are an idiot."

" Eh? Aren't you going to explain any other things?" Lin Jing asks.

" Later, we have enough time. Now let's have dinner, I miss Lao Li's food!" Zhao Yunlan grins.

Lao Li looks at him quite confused but still smiles indulgently and says:" Of course, today we are going to have chicken soup and of course fried fish for Da Qing."

" Fried fish! Fried fish! Fried fish!" Da Qing smiles satisfied and claps his hand.

" Oh not fair, what about my favorite food Lao Li? I want fried pork ribs!!!" Lin Jing says.

" Ah alright alright, we will have that tomorrow okay?" Lao Li laughs.

Zhao Yunlan snorts, and mutters under his breath:" Childish." Shen Wei lets out a soft laugh. Their hands join together and they feel, the warmth of family. Their family.