A knock on the door makes Shen Wei look up from the essays he is grading. "Come in."
The door opens and reveals his student assistant for the semester, Jiajia. She pokes her head in, makes sure he has no visitors, before she comes in, "Good morning, professor Shen!"
Shen Wei puts down his papers and folds his hands together, "Good morning Jiajia, is there something I can help you with?"
She nods and steps forward, placing the folder she was carrying on his desk, "The working students are updating the staff's information for the year. If you have the time, professor, can you look over your old file and see if there's anything we need to update? Just cross out any old information and write the new one above."
Shen Wei nods in understanding, "When do you need it?"
"I'll come back for it before lunch, if it's okay?"
"Yes, I'll have it finished by then." Shen Wei tells her with a kind smile.
Jiajia smiles back widely, "Thanks, professor Shen!" She excuses herself from his office to go back to work.
When she closes the door behind her, Shen Wei opens the folder in front of him. His eyes skim through his personal information and then he flips the page to view his completed dissertations, research journals, and other published works. Those were the ones that needed updating the most, having finished at least a few more research papers this past year. He even recently published a book he co-wrote with a colleague.
Deciding to tackle the easiest changes first, he flips back to the first page. He looks over his personal information again, eyes stopping at the permanent and temporary address field. He'd filled out the school dormitory as his temporary address and placed the address of an old vacation home as the permanent one. (Calling it a vacation home may be too generous a description for it though. His permanent address was nothing more than a wooden cabin he'd built in the woods outside of Dragon City.)
Shen Wei crosses out both addresses, lips lifting to a smile when he writes his new address as both his temporary and permanent.
Living across the hall from Zhao Yunlan makes him feel more at home than staying at the cabin or school dorm ever did. Being near Zhao Yunlan feels right. He only hopes that he can continue staying by his side even when his secrets inevitably come out.
Shen Wei pauses in his writing, sighing exasperatedly at himself. Even the simple task of updating his address pulls his thoughts towards the mischievous SID chief. His fixation and attraction for Zhao Yunlan is troublesome but it's not something he can easily change.
He shakes his head and focuses back on what he is doing. He neatly finishes writing down his new address, but when he looks it over, he realizes he had written down Zhao Yunlan's door number instead of his own. He quickly corrects it, flushing all the while. He tries hard not think about what it's like to live with Zhao Yunlan, that way only lies madness.
He goes back to his file, focusing this time on his contact information. He'd gotten a landline for his new apartment, so he adds the new number as his contacts. He looks over the other details already filled out and his eyes stop at one that remains blank.
Emergency Contact. Name. Contact Details.
Shen Wei looks down at the words. He skips it and reads the rest of his personal profile but his eyes are drawn back again and again to the blank section. He flips the page instead and starts updating his portfolio of published works. He rechecks his cabinet files, to see that he didn't miss anything. He puts down his pen, but when he rights the paper and is about to close the folder, his eyes are once again drawn to the same section.
Emergency Contact. Name. Contact Details.
Shen Wei's fingers tap on his pen.
Realistically, Shen Wei doesn't need an emergency contact. He has healing powers that are more effective than any Haixingren doctor or medicine. So far, in his years of living in Haixing as Shen Wei, there hasn't been any need to contact his next of kin or whoever it is that people contact during an emergency. He goes to Haixing hospitals for regular check-ups to keep up his cover and that's all. He usually leaves his emergency contact blank when he needs to fill up forms but when people really insist on it, he puts up a fake number and a fake name, confident that there would never be a situation where someone needed to be called because he got hurt or sick.
The sad truth of the matter though, is that Shen Wei doesn't have anyone to call if something did happen to him. He's an outsider in a world that is oblivious to the existence of his people, oblivious to who he is. He does have acquaintances, colleagues, even an ally Dixingren in SID, but no one he feels like he can entrust this vulnerable side of him to. No one he can trust himself with.
No one, that is, until he met Zhao Yunlan again.
Shen Wei's fingers freeze over his pen and he stares hard at the blank section. He picks up his pen, clicks it, poises it over the blank. He presses his pen gently on the paper. The ink blots but he doesn't move to write.
Logically, he doesn't get hurt and even if he does, he can deal with it on his own. Writing down his emergency contact isn't a necessity. He's not underage, he doesn't require a guardian to make decisions for him, and the university isn't all that strict with its staff over their emergency contacts. He can leave this part empty just as always.
It is a nice and tempting thought that, even if something did happen to him (although unlikely), there would be someone he trusted rushing to his side. Not that Zhao Yunlan would drop everything to make sure he was okay, especially since at the moment he is still treated more like a possible suspect by the SID rather than an ally. But Zhao Yunlan is a good person and, ally or enemy, he'd come check on him and for Shen Wei that is more than enough. More than he deserves.
Shen Wei shakes his head again. Not that it will ever come to that. He can heal himself. The chances of Zhao Yunlan being called because he got hurt is slim to none.
In the end, it is that line of thought that makes Shen Wei write down Zhao Yunlan's contact information. There is no harm in writing down the SID chief as his emergency contact because he will never know about it anyway. It's a selfish and illogical reason but it settles something in Shen Wei. He finishes and refrains from double checking if he got the number right. He closes the folder and puts it aside.
He goes back to work and pretends nothing has changed.
"Good evening, am I speaking to mister Zhao Yunlan?"
"Special Investigations Chief Zhao Yunlan, that's me." There's a clattering sound on the other side of the phone, a few inquiring voices, "And who is this?"
"Chief Zhao, I'm a student assistant from Dragon City University. You're listed down as professor Shen Wei's emergency contact-"
"Shen Wei?" The tone on the other end is shocked and then he snaps, "What happened to Shen Wei? What's wrong? Where is he?"
"There was an altercation with a past student's parent-" At this, the student loses a bit of his composure, "Professor Shen… he tried to- he got in the middle of it and he was stabbed-"
There's a sharp intake of breath and then demands, "Where is he? Was he taken to Dragon City Hospital?"
"You have to be family to-"
Zhao Yunlan doesn't let the student finish. He hangs up.
A few hours earlier…
It starts out as an ordinary day. Shen Wei finishes his grading ahead of schedule and he has some free time for himself, so he decides to go out and take a walk around the campus.
A few students greet him and he greets them all back with a smile. One of his colleagues, another professor in the same department, waves him over for some small talk. A few minutes into the conversation, the female professor invites him out to dinner and Shen Wei is about to politely decline when someone approaches them, carrying a box of sweets.
"Are you professor Han Yun?" The man asks the female professor gruffly.
"Yes," Professor Han raises an eyebrow, "That's me, is there something I can help you with?"
"I'm the father of one of your students and my wife wanted me to give this to you, as thanks for taking care of our daughter," He extends the box to the female professor who looks surprised but pleased.
She inclines her head in thanks and reaches out to accept the box.
Shen Wei sees the man put a hand into his jacket. He pulls something out, something long and sharp and-
-and there's no time think. Han Yun is too distracted by the gift to see the man pull out a knife. Shen Wei pushes her aside just as the man rushes forward to stab her violently.
Shen Wei's breath stutters when he feels the blade sink into his chest. He grabs the man's arm and tries to understand why he is doing this. Is he Haixingren? Dixingren? Is his target really Han Yun or-?
Shen Wei activates Dingdong's power and almost loses consciousness at the wave of grief and agony that crashes through him. The man is one of his people, a Dixingren in hiding. His daughter really was one of Han Yun's students but she committed suicide a few months back. Han Yun constantly embarrassed her in class which led to her being bullied by her peers. The final straw was when Han Yun failed her and the student had to drop out of school. Before she took her own life, she left a letter to her parents explaining her actions.
Ever since her death, the couple have been inconsolable. The mother is in the hospital because of grief and stress and the father blames Han Yun for how his family has fallen apart. Using his dixingren power, he snuck into the university to kill Han Yun and then himself.
Shen Wei coughs, he sends a sliver of dark energy to the Dixingren to render him unconscious. It'll stop him from hurting anyone else. The man pulls his arm back and staggers. He falls on his back in a dead faint.
The professor hopes that no one looks deeper into the man's identity until he can get to him. A rogue Dixingren is his responsibility and technically, he didn't harm any Haixingren. He'd used his powers but subtly enough that maybe this wouldn't catch the attention of the SID.
Shen Wei steps forward and falters. He winces at the pain and puts a hand on his chest to stop the bleeding. He needs to get away so that he can heal himself but there are too many witnesses. He can hear shouting in the background, someone grabs his arm and steadies him. He cringes at the pain but he lets out a calming breath.
"-fessor! Professor Shen! Lie down, an ambulance is on the way!"
"Does anyone know first aid?"
Shen Wei is gently laid down on a nearby bench. Someone pulls his hand away from his chest and there are gasps of worry around him. He tries to assure them he's fine but he must have blacked out for a moment because, before he knows it, he's being carried into the back of an ambulance.
The professor feels cold and confused but if given the chance he could heal himself. The problem is getting away from where he is. He could erase the memories of the people in the ambulance so he wouldn't be taken to the hospital but there are too many witnesses at the university. Haixingren police might get involved and the fact that he isn't at the hospital will raise many questions.
One of the EMTs notices he is awake and immediately reassures him, "Everything will be fine, sir." He presses on Shen Wei's bleeding wound and the professor gasps at the pain.
He feels weak and he can feel his heart beating rapidly. He may have lost more blood than he first thought and he blacks out again even before they get to the hospital.
Shen Wei wakes up to someone holding his hand. He looks to the side and pauses. He considers for a moment that he may still be dreaming or even hallucinating.
The corners of Zhao Yunlan's eyes crinkle when he smiles at Shen Wei, "Good to see you're awake, professor Shen." He emphasizes the earnest tone of his words with a gentle squeeze of his hand.
Shen Wei blinks and asks carefully, "Zhao Yunlan?"
Shen Wei looks down at their connected hands, trying his best not to flush, "Is there something wrong?" He asks, "Is there something I should know about?" He gently shakes their joined hands.
Zhao Yunlan laughs sharply. It did not match the worried expression on his face, "Shouldn't I be asking you that? Imagine my surprise, when I was called in the middle of work because you've been stabbed."
Shen Wei flinches and he tries to pull away in shame. Zhao Yunlan wouldn't let him so he looks down instead, to avoid intelligent dark eyes, "I- I'm sorry for the inconvenience." He speaks quickly, "I listed you down as my emergency contact and I know it was wrong of me to do so without your permission-"
"Whoa, whoa… Shen Wei, breathe," Shen Wei startles when he feels warm fingers brush against his cheek. He looks up, wide-eyed at Zhao Yunlan, "I don't mind. In fact, I'm honored to have even been considered by the impervious professor Shen."
Zhao Yunlan winks teasingly at the professor and Shen Wei lifts up an unoccupied hand to adjust his glasses to hide his embarrassment. That's when he realizes he's not wearing them. The SID chief chuckles and lets go of his hand to reach out and get his glasses from the bedside table for him. Shen Wei accepts them gratefully and puts them on. He folds his hands together, missing the warmth of Zhao Yunlan's touch.
Zhao Yunlan observes him with interest as he continues, "You work as a university professor but you see as much action as a cop, Shen Wei. You're always near the crime scene, always connected to the cases one way or another, now you're a victim of a stabbing," The chief purses his lips and shakes his head, "Maybe I should have someone follow you around, just so you won't get into trouble."
Shen Wei sighs, "These are all mere coincidences."
"Yes, another coincidence," Zhao Yunlan says with a bitter smile, "We haven't verified if the suspect is a Dixingren or Haixingren. Normally, we hand over simple cases like these to normal police, but since it involves someone who constantly attracts Dixing cases wherever he goes, I decided it was best to take a closer look."
Shen Wei's expression is neutral as he says, "I'm sure the suspect is nothing more than a grieving parent. His target was professor Han Yun, not me."
Zhao Yunlan inclines his head, "Like I said, we're looking into it." His eyes are hard with an unidentifiable emotion, "We can't let him get away so easily now, can we? Regardless of his original target, he still hurt you, Shen Wei."
Before Shen Wei could say anything more, the door to his room opens and a doctor and nurse come in to check on him. Zhao Yunlan helps Shen Wei sit up before he immediately turns his attention to the medical professionals in the room, listening to their every word.
"You lost quite a bit of blood but not so much that you'd need a transfusion," The doctor tells Shen Wei, "Thankfully, the knife didn't hit any vital points and we were able to easily stitch you up. The stab wound is slightly deep though, so we'll have to keep you under observation for a few days just to make sure there isn't any infection or anything else we might've missed."
"He'll be okay, then?" Zhao Yunlan clarifies, "No other injuries aside from the wound on his chest?"
The doctor looks down at her notes and nods. She turns her attention to the other man, "Yes, chief Zhao, aside from his wound, your husband is in excellent health."
Shen Wei's eyes widen at the last part and he looks at Zhao Yunlan in surprise. The SID chief looks sheepish but he taps his bottom lip in a subtle gesture for Shen Wei not to say anything. The professor flushes and looks away, fearing that his expression would give away his inner yearning.
Zhao Yunlan thanks the doctor as she leaves and closes the door behind her. He turns to Shen Wei with an apologetic expression, "They wouldn't let me come in unless I was family."
Shen Wei sits rigidly as he raises an eyebrow, "So you told them we were married?"
"Just recently and that we got married out of the country," Zhao Yunlan answers with an easy shrug.
You could've pretended to be a cousin or a brother, Shen Wei bites back these words because if he was honest with himself, he'd rather Zhao Yunlan pretend they were married too. "They didn't ask for proof?"
"Ah, they did and I didn't think they were going to let me in but a female doctor intervened in my behalf? Doctor Cheng Xinyan, I think that was her name."
"Oh," Shen Wei blinks, "She's a former classmate of mine. I'm glad she managed to help you before you got yourself in trouble with the hospital staff."
Zhao Yunlan laughs, "I can take care of myself," He goes back to Shen Wei's side and leans against his bed, "Though I may have destroyed your chances with your doctor classmate and another woman who had been waiting outside."
Shen Wei blinks again, "Doctor Cheng is just an acquaintance," He clarifies and then asks, "What other woman?"
Zhao Yunlan takes out a lollipop from his pocket and hums nonchalantly as he unwraps it, "Hm, you know, that professor you saved, Han Yun?"
The professor shakes his head with a small disbelieving huff, "She's nothing more than a colleague as well."
"Well, the way she looked, when I introduced myself as your husband, told me she wanted to be more than just a colleague. She stormed off."
Shen Wei clears his throat, "Well, unfortunately I'm not…" He breaths out quietly, "Not interested in her that way. Nor am I interested in doctor Cheng." He says firmly.
Zhao Yunlan smirks when Shen Wei flushes and looks away, "That's good."
"I could tell you it's the best news I've heard all day," Zhao Yunlan's tone softens when he says, "But knowing you came out of this whole ordeal alive is the best news for me."
The SID chief stands up, his usual smile on his face. He takes out the lollipop in his mouth and waves it around, "I have to go. Da Qing is outside, he'll look after you for an hour or two and then I'll come back."
"Da Qing?" Shen Wei says surprised, "What for? There's no need to go through all this trouble. If I'm keeping you from work-"
Zhao Yunlan leans forward and pinches his nose and Shen Wei jumps in surprise. He laughs and lets go, "It's no trouble, Shen Wei. It's the fat cat's day off anyway and he doesn't mind. I need someone to watch you while I go sort some things out. Who knows what sort of trouble you'll get into when I'm not around?"
Shen Wei frowns, "I can take care of myself."
Zhao Yunlan agrees easily, "Sure, but the point is you don't have to." He raises the lollipop when Shen Wei starts to argue, "Nope, you made me your emergency contact, now you have to deal with the consequences."
Shen Wei closes his mouth and sighs. There's no need to fuss over him like this but he can't deny that he likes being fussed over by Zhao Yunlan.
"I'm going to have Da Qing come in here, so you're not alone."
"How are you going to do that? You told me only family is allowed inside."
Zhao Yunlan grins widely, "I'm going to tell the staff he's our adopted son."
If Shen Wei had been eating something he would have choked. In the end, all he could say is, "Z-Zhao Yunlan!"
"I'll have that doctor Cheng back me up," Zhao Yunlan continues, "I'm sure she'll let him in."
Shen Wei sighs and adjusts his glasses, "Please don't cause too much trouble for the medical staff."
"I can't promise that." Zhao Yunlan says seriously and Shen Wei, unable to help himself, laughs.
Zhao Yunlan stares at him for a moment before he says, "Shen Wei?"
Shen Wei looks at him with a smile, "Yes?"
Zhao Yunlan sits on the side of the bed and taps Shen Wei's lips with the lollipop he is holding. The professor leans back in surprise, "Wha-?"
"That was an indirect kiss."
Shen Wei turns red so fast that he actually feels slightly dizzy.
"I'll give you a proper one when you're discharged," Zhao Yunlan tells him seriously. He takes the treat back into his mouth, "So you better get well soon, okay?"
Shen Wei is still speechless so he just nods. Zhao Yunlan gives him a wide smile. He takes out another lollipop from his pocket and puts it in Shen Wei's hand. The professor accepts it carefully and Zhao Yunlan holds his hands for a moment.
"I'm glad you're okay." He says seriously and then stands up, "I'll send Da Qing in after I talk to him. I'll be back in a few hours."
Shen Wei clears his throat and tries to calm himself down, "Thank you, Zhao Yunlan. Please be careful."
Zhao Yunlan waves at him before he goes, closing the door behind him. Shen Wei stares at the closed door for a few seconds before he sighs. He takes off his glasses and puts it on the bedside table before he lies down.
Shen Wei frowns at the pain in his chest and summons a bit of dark energy to get rid of the hurt and maybe heal it a little bit quicker than normal.
The unopened lollipop crinkles in his hand.
That was an indirect kiss.
I'll give you a proper one when you're discharged.
Sheen Wei licks his lips and tastes a trace of sweetness. He shakes his head, fighting off the heat on his face. He's not healing himself quicker just because of Zhao Yunlan's promise. He's doing it for his own reasons too, he has work to do and being confined longer than necessary in the hospital will get in the way of it, that's all.
He brings up the lollipop, puts it down on his pillow and sighs. He reaches up a hand and touches the pendant underneath the hospital gown he is wearing.
Things took an unexpected turn today. Who knew that putting Zhao Yunlan down as an emergency contact would bring him all these unforeseen things? He never expected the younger man to come here and least of all did he expect the worry and the fondness he'd seen directed at him today.
It was nice.
As the Black Cloaked Envoy, Shen Wei is used to being feared, obeyed, and respected. Everyone thinks that just because he is powerful, he is invulnerable too.
Zhao Yunlan doesn't know he's the Envoy. He just thinks that Shen Wei is some mysterious professor with suspicious connections to their Dixingren cases. He thinks Shen Wei is just a civilian. And despite Shen Wei's guilt about hiding his identity from the SID chief, he feels relieved that for once he isn't being seen as someone indestructible or invincible. He's thankful that someone has actually taken the time to worry about him, even though it is unnecessary. Even though the worry is at the cost of hiding an important part of himself.
Then Shen Wei thinks of Kunlun, he thinks of how he worried about the Envoy despite his reputation and overwhelming power. Shen Wei can't help but think that, even if Zhao Yunlan finds out who he really is, he'd worry about Shen Wei all the same.
That hope brings a smile to Shen Wei's face and he closes his eyes, feeling the weight of today's incident pulling him down to unconsciousness. He hears the door open and the sound of Da Qing creeping into the room, before he surrenders to sleep.
A few hours later, Zhao Yunlan comes into the room. He smiles when he sees Shen Wei asleep and breathing out softly. Da Qing is in cat form, curled up by Shen Wei's feet. He meows at Zhao Yunlan when he enters and jumps down to the floor. The SID chief opens the door for him, Da Qing probably wants to get himself something to eat. He closes the door behind the fat cat.
Zhao Yunlan approaches the sleeping professor. He chuckles when he sees the unopened lollipop beside the other man. Shen Wei's brows furrow at the sound and Zhao Yunlan leans down to kiss his forehead, unable to help himself.
Shen Wei's expression settles into a small smile and Zhao Yunlan pulls the chair closer to the bed before sitting. He takes hold of Shen Wei's hands and settles in comfortably.
He waits for Shen Wei to wake up.